Who are the Kurds? (on the possibility of a wider war)


by Janet Ritz

[2/28/08: updated article here]

Who are the Kurds? Who are these Middle Eastern people that have both men and women in their army? Who are these mountain warriors that their neighbors refer to as the 'best fighters in the Middle East'; these ancient people whom claim descent from the Biblical Medes?

Since it's a good idea to know who we (the American people) are doing business with, I thought I'd put in my two cents based on actual experience; time I've spent with the Kurds and the seven years of research I've done about them for a book. It's a long post, but they're an ancient people, so, forgive me if there's a lot to say.

Historical Identity

The Kurds are the original Aryans (a term absconded by the Nazis, much like they stole the swastika from the Hindus). It means to be of noble birth, an Indo-European-Iranian people, not Semitic (Arab) or Turkish.

Note: The name Iran also comes from Aryan; it means to be of Aryan birth.

To explore the nature of the Kurds, it is important to understand this sense of nobility; the pride with which they claim (and are most probably correct) descent from a people who used to run the world in the seventh and sixth century, BCE. These were the biblical Medes, the original Aryan (Indo-European) people of the Zagros Mountains.

A people whose history extends back to ruling the largest empire of the pre-Persian age. To be able, in many cases, to trace their own lineage back to those times. To know that, when Saddam Hussein gassed Halabja in 1988, many of the thousands of peoples he killed were descended from kings, generals, Magi (the Zoroastrian priests of the Medes).

The Magi, the three wise men from the Bible. They were Medes, as was Cyrus the Great (half-Mede), and Saladin (by then, they were called Kurds), the ruler who defeated Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade.

But were the Kurds only Medes, this noble aryan lineage? Not exclusively. They also trace back to the Hurrians, an indigenous people from Turkey and a tribe from the Zagros Mountain region near modern day Kirkuk (and this is key) called the Gutii or Cadusii (or both).

Who were hard to defeat, as recorded by Xenophon. You couldn't get them out of their mountains if they didn't want to go.

Like the Kurds today...


Al Gore's Four Warning Signs and Ten Suggestions from Today's Hearings


by Janet Ritz

Al Gore presented four warning signs and ten suggestions at today's Joint Climate Change Hearings. Here are his four top warning signs (his suggestions are below):

  1. New evidence that's come out shows that this may be worse than described. Arctic ice cap is melting more rapidly than predicted. Could disappear in summertime in 34 years. This problem is burning a hole at the top of the world.
  2. Earth is shaking because of Greenland - glacial earthquakes - 1993 there were 7, 1999, 14, last year, 32.
  3. Frozen methane in the tundra, billions of tons, 23 times more powerful than C02, need to turn the thermostat down before that melts.
  4. Fires in the west, Russia, Australia (1000 year drought) correlates with warming temps and earlier spring.

Gore went on to say that there are many other signs, that we do not have time to play around with this and that we do not have the luxury for politics as usual.

Here are his ten suggestions:

  1. Immediately freeze C02 emissions in US, reach 90% reductions by 2050.
  2. Start using the tax code to reduce taxes on employment and make up the difference with pollution taxes. We're discouraging work and encouraging the destruction of the planet. Carbon pollution not presently priced into the marketplace. Air and water are part of that, must be revenue neutral tax shift.
  3. Portion of those revenues must be earmarked for lower income groups who will have a hard time making shift.
  4. Strong global treaty. Kyoto has been demonized. Work for defacto compliance. We ought to move forward the starting date of the next treaty from 2012 to 2010 so whoever is sworn in in 2009 can use political mandate to work toward defacto compliance and then ratify a new, tougher treaty. Build more confidence with China, India to bring them to participate.
  5. Congress should issue moratorium on any new coal plant not compliant with carbon capture
  6. Like the initiative to build the Internet, this congress should develop an Electranet, a smart grid. A law that allows homeowners and businesspeople to put up their own generators, sell electricity into the grid without caps at a rate that is not determined by the utility, but as a tariff.
  7. Raise CAFE standards, cars, coal and buildings.
  8. Along with tax system and treaty, use regulatory power. Set a date for ban on incandescent light bulbs.
  9. Buildings: pass a law - Connie Mae, carbon neutral mortgage association.
  10. SEC should require disclosure of carbon emission in corporate reporting.

Again, here's the link to the House Science Committee.

The link to the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee


Shays vs. Hansen at Waxman's Global Warming Hearing


During Henry Waxman's Oversight Committee's hearing today(the one Al Gore will be appearing at later this week) on Political Interference with Climate Science, Christopher Shays crossed the line when he stated to Dr. James Hansen (the NASA scientist who complained whistleblew that scientific findings on climate change had been politically edited by the White House, which brought the administration's manipulation of climate science to light):

"You're waving around the Constitution, saying 'I'm an American, I can say anything I want.'"

[Christopher Shays to James Hansen]

Shays went on to clarify that there are rules as to what Govt employees can say.

To which Hansen replied:

"Those rules don't extend to editing [of science] by the White House."

[Dr. James Hansen]

Now, in fairness to Shays, he did say that he didn't dispute the climate science or the implications therein (unlike other congressmen -- i.e. Sensenbrenner...), but there is NO excuse for treating a respected scientist like Dr. Hansen with such contempt or to cavalierly throw around (away) the constitutional right to freedom of speech.

But why are we surprised? Suppression of truth has been the hallmark of the global warming debate for years. In example: For those not familiar with the events that led up to this hearing, here's the info from the Wiki:

In 2005 and 2006, Hansen claimed in interviews with the Washington Post and the New York Times that NASA administrators have tried to influence his public statements about the causes of climate change. Hansen claims that NASA public relations staff were ordered to review his public statements and interviews after a December 2005 lecture at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

James Hansen has also appeared on 60 Minutes claiming that the White House edited climate-related press releases reported by federal agencies to make global warming seem less threatening. He is unable to speak "freely", without the backlash of other government officials. "In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public," he said in one of his many public appearances.

On July 30, 2006, 60 Minutes aired a story called "Rewriting the Science" revealed that:

Dozens of federal agencies report science but much of it is edited at the White House before it is sent to Congress and the public. It appears climate science is edited with a heavy hand. Drafts of climate reports were co-written by Rick Piltz for the federal Climate Change Science Program. But Piltz says his work was edited by the White House to make global warming seem less threatening...


Asked what happens, Piltz says: "It comes back with a large number of edits, handwritten on the hard copy by the chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality."

Asked who the chief of staff is, Piltz says, "Phil Cooney."

Piltz says Cooney is not a scientist. "He's a lawyer. He was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, before going into the White House,"

Cooney was also asked to testify today, as was the man whom had hired him, James Connaughton, who referred to Cooney (the former Oil Lobbyist) as a man of 'integrity.'

But it wasn't only Cooney putting the kabosh on scientist's vis-a-vis climate change. Here's a link to the Washington Post article on censorship at NOAA:

James E. Hansen, the NASA climate scientist who sparked an uproar last month by accusing the Bush administration of keeping scientific information from reaching the public, said Friday that officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are also muzzling researchers who study global warming.

The hearing closed with testimony by Dr. James Spencer of the University of Alabama, who referred to Hansen's and the IPCC's findings (that global warming is caused by man) as a matter of "faith not science."

Waxman then asked Spencer about his position on Intelligent Design.

Spencer was for it...


Here's a link to Dr. Hansen's written testimony to the committee.

To the 60 minutes episode.

To the House Oversight's Committee's report on the hearing (with links to all the written testimony).


EU Agrees to 'Ambitious' Climate Plan


by Janet Ritz

The EU just finished their two day 20/20 (20% change to green power by 2020) climate meeting today:

EU agrees to 'ambitious' climate plan

Seizing the initiative on global warming, European Union leaders agreed Friday to fight climate change with more windmills, solar panels and efficient light bulbs, pledging that a fifth of the bloc's energy will come from green power by 2020.

Challenging the world to follow suit, the twenty-seven member European Union's president, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, said that this needs to be done, even if it requires a change in lifestyle.

A change in lifestyle either way, since climate change will be (and is) forcing a change in lifestyle for everyone.

The EU's plan? 20% green power by 2020. They say they can reach 30% if other nations join them (hint: China, India, US...).

Not that the agreement was easy to come by. There were bumps in the road vis-a-vis nuclear energy. The EU nations finally reached their consensus after giving in to France's request for the inclusion of nuclear energy as an alternative to coal and greenhouse producing power plants.

European leaders said the agreement, the first to go beyond the 35-nation Kyoto Protocol in its targets for greenhouse gas emissions cuts, marked a turning point in the fight against global warming.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed: "It gives Europe a clear leadership position on this crucial issue facing the world."

So, it's not perfect, it may be too little too late, but at least the EU has taken the lead. We can't count on the US following suit before 2008, even with kudos to the new congress for trying (and they are).

However, that shouldn't keep each and every one of us from doing what we can. As I wrote in this earlier diary about the UN's Climate Change Road Map, there are resources available for all of us to make a difference (links at bottom of linked diary).

We all need to be ambitious now.