Saturday, December 31, 2011

GOOD: Water, Water Everywhere

International solidarity with Iranian student movement - Bahareh Hedayat

Timeline of events in Bahareh Hedayat’s life after her arrest

December 31, 2009 | Bahareh Hedayat was arrested
February 19, 2010 | Jafari Dolatabadi (the Tehran Prosecutor) personally indicts Bahareh Hedayat
February 28, 2010 | Two months of interrogation end for Bahareh Hedayat
March 10, 2010 | Bahareh Hedayat’s case file still not registered at the court
March 21, 2010 | Detained Tahkim Vahdat members transferred to Evin prison’s general ward 
April 9, 2010 | Detained activist Bahareh Hedayat nominated for Student Peace Prize
May 7, 2010 | Update: Court hearing held for Bahareh Hedayat
May 21, 2010 | Bahareh Hedayat and Milad Asadi receive heavy sentences from Revolutionary Court
May 29, 2010Latest News on Bahareh Hedayat and other Imprisoned Students
July 25, 2010 | Student activist Bahareh Hedayat sentenced to nine and a half years in prison
September 2010 | Bahareh’s & Milad’s court hearing for their defense canceled
December 5, 2010 | Bahareh Hedayat writes letter from prison for Student Day, December 7th
December 28, 2010 | Bahareh Hedayat’s physical condition deteriorating after one week on hunger strike
January 21, 2011Visitation bans for Bahareh Hedayat and Mahdieh Golroo Continue
February 4, 2011 | Bahareh Hedayat, Majid Tavakoli, & Mahdieh Golroo summoned by Iranian Judiciary
March 26, 2011 | Birthday campaign launched for Bahareh Hedayat, husband speaks out after prison visit
June 2, 2011 | Bahareh Hedayat’s husband arrested for speaking to media at funeral ceremony
June 26, 2011 | Imprisoned student activist Bahareh Hedayat writes letter to husband
November 5, 2011 | Bahareh Hedayat and other students issued additional prison sentences

Respect the Koran, or Else

If we should respect the Quran because not doing so causes Muslims to get angry and kill, then here are the other things we should stop doing:
Educating  women.  Selling alcohol.  Pre-marital sexSharing a
non-Muslim religious faith.  Democracy
.  Disaster reliefSporting
events.  Allowing women to dress
as they please.  Being gay.  Being Hindu.  Being Christian.  Being Jewish.  Being Buddhist.  Being Sikh.  Being Ahmadi.  Being Sufi.  Going to the wrong mosque...

Is there really a hole in the ozone layer?

That depends on what one means by a "hole". There is a thinning of the ozone layer that is particularly severe during certain seasons at the poles. But the ozone layer is thinning most everywhere. The thinning around the south pole of earth is particularly stunning, and has been referred to as a hole even though some ozone still exists there, it is much less concentrated. As you may know, this ozone destruction is probably due to human release of pollutants such as clorofluorocarbons (CFCs) an due to natural sources such as chemicals from volcanic eruptions. CFCs are used is cooling systems such as refrigerators and air conditioning. There is an international agreement to phase out the use of these destructive chemicals but they won't be banned entirely for years for fears of losing money. Meanwhile the ozone layer thins and we are exposed to increasingly higher doses of cancer causing radiation.
[1] Jim Murray, "Hole in the ozone layer?", Online posting. NEWTON BBS Ask a Scientist.

[h/t] Karen Brown

Over 18,212 deadly Muslim attacks carried out since 9/11/01

About the List of Terrorist Attacks
This list of terrorist attacks committed by Muslims since 9/11/01 (a rate of about four or five a day) is incomplete because not all such attacks are picked up by international news sources, even those resulting in multiple loss of life. 
These are not incidents of ordinary crime involving nominal Muslims killing for money or some other non-religious motive.  We only include incidents of deadly violence that can reasonably be determined to have been committed out of religious duty - as interpreted by the perpetrator.
We usually list only attacks that result in loss of life (with a handful of exceptions).  In several cases, the deaths are undercounted because deaths from trauma caused by the Islamists may occur in later days, despite the best efforts of medical personnel to keep the victims alive.
We usually don't include incidents related to combat, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan, unless it involves particularly heinous terror tactics.  Unprovoked sniper or bombing attacks on foreign military personnel serving normal police duties are sometimes included depending on the circumstances (although rarely).
We acknowledge that a handful of incidents on the list may not fit the traditional definition of 'terror attack.'  A small portion, for example, are of honor killings - although we usually omit those in which the woman is killed by her husband, since this is often indistinguishable from a crime of passion (barring explicit circumstances).
Our counter reflects the number of deadly attacks on our list.  This number will be a bit greater than the number of line items, since multiple incidents are sometimes grouped in the same record.
Unfortunately, this list of Muslim terrorist attacks barely scratches the surface of atrocities committed in the name of Islam occurring world-wide each day.  For that reason, we don't tally up the dead and dismembered, except on a weekly and monthly basis.
As an example, most news articles on the violence in Southern Thailand note that about 900 people were killed in 2005.  We estimate that 150 of these deaths are of the Islamic militants themselves, which means they killed some 750 people that year.  But TROP only recorded the deaths of 314.  We underreported more than half the casualties in a country with a decent news infrastructure.  Imagine what we don't catch in the Sudan, where the overall toll has run into the hundreds of thousands!
The ridiculous level of violence that Islam serves up to the world makes it impossible to compile a complete list. 
The incidents are collected each day from public news sources.  There is no rumor or word-of-mouth involved.  Although every attempt is made to be accurate and consistent, we are not making the claim that this is a scientific product.
Unlike the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which publishes a tally of alleged "hate crimes" each year without supporting data, we do provide detail of each incident that we claim as a terror attack and make it available for verification.
No other religion inspires the sort of terrorism that the "Religion of Peace" produces.  We hope that this list offers a dose of perspective against so-called "Islamophobia" and other complaints from Muslim identity groups that are petty by comparison. 
Who knows - perhaps one day Muslims will have a change of heart and decide to take the sort of action that one might expect of people who believe that it really is wrong to kill in the name of their religion.  We'll know when this happens because it will be when Islam exchanges self-absorbed whining for true contrition and an end to the violence.
Go back to the List of Islamic Terrorist Attacks

© 2002 - 2011 All rights reserved.

Video: Blog Threats Target Virginia Mosque (CAIR)

Hamas Front CAIR Wins Big Against Small Blog…

by sheikyermami on December 31, 2011
Bare Naked is back!
WordPress now saying that CAIR had nothing to do with their decision to take the blog of the web, (despite CAIR bragging about it all over the internet). But they still want it off by Jan. 6th.
“Bare Naked Islam” was “one of the major promoters of the campaign to pressure Lowe‘s to drops its ads from TLC’s ‘All-American Muslim.’”
“An anti-Muslim hate blog” that contained inflammatory comments has been taken down by its hosting company after numerous complaints from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, PR Newswire reports.
Planting hateful and incendiary comments on anti-jihad blogs is a long-time speciality of  Hamas lobby CAIR.
In a sane world this treacherous mob would have long been arrested and locked up in Gitmo, without Korans and ice-cream…

Norway: New site in memory of honor killing victims

Norway: New site in memory of honour killing victims

Norway: New site in memory of honour killing victims

LinkNorwegian music producer and activist Deeyah, in association with friends, volunteers and supporters, is launching MEMINI on April 7th 2011. This day marks the anniversary of the public killing of Du'a Khalil Aswad and the International Honour Killings Awareness Day. MEMINI is an online site of remembrance for victims of honour killings and has an associated Facebook page.

With love from Iran to all kids

From Sweden with Grief

They call my country a modern european one. I don´t agree!

Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran sa:
“A man can marry a girl younger than nine years of age, even if the girl is still a baby being breastfed. “
A man, however is prohibited from having intercourse with a girl younger than nine, other sexual acts such as foreplay, rubbing, kissing and sodomy is allowed.
A man having intercourse with a girl younger than nine years of age has not committed a crime, but only an infraction, if the girl is not permanently damaged. If the girl, however, is permanently damaged, the man must provide for her all her life. But this girl will not count as one of the man’s four permanent wives. He also is not permitted to marry the girl’s sister.”

Ken Lydell,

Jingle Bells - The Bethlehem 2010 Version

Turkey: Mufti Claims no St Nick

The photo shows frescos in the St. Nicholas Church in Myra, present-day Demre. Like all other Christian works of art in Turkey, they have been outstandingly preserved, as anyone can see. However – after days of consideration about Christmas, Süleyman Yeniceri, mufti of Turkey’s northwest Kesan region, has now come surprisingly to the conclusion that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. We are thankful for his insights.
Politically Incorrect



Friday, December 30, 2011

Very Nice, Very Nice

US as a Global Power is a New World Disorder

United States as a Global Power: New World Disorder

The US is struggling with a paradox: while its military power retains global reach, its role as world leader is gradually ending

The Guardian Editorial
The time has long since past when it became fashionable to talk about a new world order. The collapse of the Soviet Union provided an opportunity to fashion one. But instead of using that opportunity to create a new security architecture in Europe, Nato expanded eastwards as the military anchor for democracy promotion. Not content to have seen off one global military competitor in the Soviet Union, the western military industrial complex and the think-tanks they funded scurried around for a worthy replacement. When 11 September happened, they thought they were in business again. For a brief moment, al-Qaida seemed to fulfil some of the characteristics of communism: it could pop up anywhere in the world; it was an existential enemy, driven ideologically and uncontainable through negotiation; and it was potentially voluminous. Neither the doctrines of the pre-emptive strike, nor attacking a foreign country abroad to ensure security at home, were new. Swap the domino theory of the Vietnam era for the crescent of crisis of the Bush and Obama eras, and you had the same formula for a foe that hopscotched across the globe.
But here's the curious thing. Al-Qaida failed, not by being bombed out of the tribal areas of Pakistan or by losing its video-hugging leader. It failed as an ideological alternative, in its own terms and for its own people. It failed in Egypt, the country that mattered most to its chief thinker, the Egyptian-born doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri. When the opportunity arose for millions of Muslims to shed their brutal Arab yoke (this was supposed to be the fourth phase in the construction of the Caliphate, to be accompanied by physical attacks against oil suppliers and cyber ones on the US economy), nothing of the sort happened. Islam is indeed winning the day, but it is political rather than military. It seeks alliances with the apostate and says it is committed to democratic partnership and the rule of law.
Al-Qaida's failure was all the more significant because the western response, the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, also failed. Not because the enemy was especially daunting, but because the mission was impossible to start with. Mission creep started with democracy promotion, continued as state-building, and ended with withdrawal at any cost, by the appointed date. The quality of life in the country US combat troops left behind – most likely one that in Iraq will break up into a loose federation on sectarian lines – became less important than the fact of departure itself. Military ceremonies proclaiming victory in the war in Iraq had as much sense of reality as Kim Jong-il's funeral. This is the next feature of the world we live in. It is an age of the self-defeating intervention. The quests through military means to build stable states out of a dictatorship in Iraq or a failed state in Afghanistan did not and are not failing at the hands of a conventional enemy. They implode. They self-destruct.
Military overreach and serial economic crises have bequeathed us a generation of small leaders who battle with events that outsize them. They have stopped trying to fashion them, but appeal instead to a defensive desire. Protectionism not internationalism rules the day. The Middle East has been transformed from a zone of allies to one in which Washington has been reduced to the role of spectator. It is now largely a taker of Middle Eastern policy, not one of its makers. There are other parts of the globe where US power projection finds natural allies, such as the Pacific, where China's rise is feared. So the paradox is that while US military power retains global reach (it is working on supersonic cruise missiles, and long-range drones) its stewardship as world leader, as a generator of the next big idea, is gradually ending. There may come a time when international institutions are rebuilt to fill this vacuum. But that time is not yet. Until then, a new world disorder would be nearer the mark.

Egypt: Women, "honor" and public space

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 01:32 AM PST
This is a guest post by friend of the blog Parastou Hassouri, who has been living in Cairo since 2005, has taught international refugee law at the American University in Cairo and specializes in issues of gender and migration: 
Earlier this month, what was perhaps the biggest demonstration by women in Egypt in several decades took place. Thousands marched through Cairo, protesting the abuse of women protesters by soldiers. It was followed by a mass Friday demonstration in support of women, called the “Friday to Restore Honor.”
The show of support was impressive. But the title “restoring honor” was perhaps an unfortunate one in a society like Egypt, where the concept of honor has been used to repress women and push them out of the public sphere.
As the Egyptian feminist organization, Nazra, said in their excellent statement on the issue, this is not about women’s honor.  What must be protected here is not the honor of women, but rather their right to protest and be politically active alongside men as equal partners in this critical phase of Egypt’s history.
A much-repeated slogan during the December 20 women’s march was “Egypt’s women are a red line,” an echo of what has been said about the military since the January 25 Revolution – that criticism of the military is a line not to be crossed.  However, using this same line to describe the treatment of women is uncomfortably reminiscent of gendered discourse in post-colonial contexts about nations reclaiming their honor or dignity in response to transgressions against their women.  It reeks of a paternalism that in effect ends up marginalizing the very people it means to protect.
The military’s brutality against all protesters is intended to discourage further protest.  However, the public humiliation of female protesters in particular is intended to drive home a very specific message:  Honorable women do not protest out in the streets.  Men of honor do not let their mother, wives, daughters, or sisters go out in the streets. The army’s use of sexual assault and humiliation has taken place with their full knowledge of the severe social stigma associated with these kinds of attacks.
It’s not just the military that uses these tactics, but also their supporters in the media. The most overt and repulsive example was a rant by TV commentator Tawfiq Okasha that wrapped together condescension, sexism and implicit threats into a message that women should know their place and men should keep them there. He addressed two of the most prominent women activists and sneeringly told them he had men for them to marry – an army draftee and a Saidi farmer –who would teach them “how to love Egypt.” He didn’t bother with issues of honor; his only intention was to stifle women’s very right to speak out on issues concerning the nation.
It is easy to dismiss these comments as the ravings of counter-revolutionary elements who do not represent the majority.  However, given the generally conservative mindset prevalent in Egypt, particularly where issues of sex and gender are concerned, it is important to understand that these comments are an obnoxious manifestation of an underlying ideology that advocates keeping women out of the public sphere.  It is also important to place such statements in context.  They are being made in a political climate that is seeing very few women elected to parliament in the current elections, and the ascendance of ultra-conservative Islamist parties that advocate strict gender segregation.
Last week’s marches show that women can try to take back the concept of honor and move beyond it to the real issue of rights.
Last week’s march also stands in sharp contrast to the unsuccessful attempt to hold a women’s rights protest on the occasion of International Women’s Rights Day last March – a month or so after Mubarak’s ouster – which had a poor turnout, and ended with groups of men harassing and shouting down the few women who had bothered to show.  By contrast, the December 20 march was accompanied by a cordon of supportive and protective men.
It is interesting that previous calls for women’s rights were met with responses ranging from “this is not the time” to outright hostility.  However, the issue of honor galvanized a much stronger outpouring of protest, focused on one particular instant of brutality, that of “the woman with the blue bra.”  Photos and videos captured soldiers dragging a female protester, beating her, and pulling up her robes and shirt, exposing her bare midriff and bra before a soldier stomps brutally on her chest.
As shocking as the violence displayed in this clip was, one cannot help but assume that it was the image of the unidentified woman’s bare torso and her bra that outraged most people – more so than the brutal stomping – and led so many to protest.  After all, images of military police brutalizing male and some female protesters have been ubiquitous for weeks – downloaded onto YouTube and shared via social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.  But those images have not had quite the same effect.
Although the incident has garnered much indignation, there have also been detractors.  Comments have been made, by SCAF and their supporters, ranging from justifying the attacks due to the woman’s criticism of the military, to arguing that the footage was taken out of context, to discrediting the whole footage and saying that it was fabricated, and finally to claiming that the young woman was an agent provocateur who entrapped the military police.
Women being brutalized and sexually humiliated during protests are nothing new in Egypt.  In fact, it was a tactic used by Mubarak’s security forces, most infamously during protests on May 25, 2005 – a day activists later dubbed “Black Wednesday” – when hired thugs sexually assaulted protesters, including women journalists covering the protests, and ripped off their clothing, while security forces idly stood by and let it happen.
Abuses by Mubarak’s security forces were expected, and if Egyptians were outraged by the events of May 25, 2005, those assaults did not lead to quite the same outpouring of outrage.  No mass march of women followed.  This was likely in part due to the fact that at that period, footage of such incidents did not circulate quite as widely and rapidly as it does now, and so many were not aware of them.  Also, the political environment at that time did not allow for such large organized protests.  And so, most Egyptians had no choice but to keep their indignation to themselves, and swallow it as part and parcel of the injustices of the previous regime.
The January 25 revolution was supposed to usher in a new era, and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) who took control of the country after Mubarak’s ouster were initially greeted as saviors.
However, since Mubarak’s ouster, SCAF have continued many of the regime’s former policies, leaving the emergency laws in place, continuing military trials for civilians, and responding to protests with lethal force.
In their brutality, they have not spared women.  Shortly after Mubarak’s resignation, human rights organizations broke the news that some of the women who been detained following the military’s violent dispersal of protesters from Tahrir Square on March 9 were given “virginity tests” and threatened with prostitution charges (among other forms of abuse).
When confronted with the reports, one military officer told a reporter that these women were “not like your daughter or mine,” but rather were the type of women who had camped out in tents with male protesters.  He added that the tests were conducted to counter any eventual accusations from the women that they were raped while in custody – implying that only virgins are credible victims of rape.
Like the Mubarak-era assaults, these were also intended to send a message about the type of women who would participate in protests – suggesting that any thing that happens to them is fair game.

One of the victims of the virginity tests, Samira Ibrahim, has had the courage to speak about her ordeal and has filed a lawsuit against the military police. The court hearing her case issued an injunction against future tests, but the real challenge of punishing the perpetrator and obtaining compensation for Ibrahim lies ahead.
Despite testimony from women like Samira Ibrahim and others, the virginity test issue did not lead to the same outrage as the “blue bra” incident.  I even heard some men and women deny the tests happened.  Some still want to believe in SCAF as a force for good.  Perhaps it is because these tests happened behind closed doors – without the evidence staring people right in the face.
The “blue bra” incident, having happened out in the open, should in fact confirm the truth of what women like Samira Ibrahim have been saying. If the military officers have no qualms about humiliating protesters in plain sight, one can only imagine what they are willing and able to do behind closed doors.
But the more women like Samira Ibrahim come forward and talk about their violation, the less effective sexual violence as a tool of suppressing women becomes.  And the more women insist that they have a place in the public sphere and participate forcefully, whether in protests, campaigns or other activities, the weaker the voices trying to drown them out will become.

Egypt: An Army Officer's Tale

From testimony from an Egyptian military officer, published by Jack Shenker in the Guardian: Egyptian army officer's diary of military life in a revolution:
After Mubarak fell and the rule of Scaf (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) began, the top brass moved quickly to secure the loyalty of all mid-level and junior officers. Whenever a big Friday street demonstration or rally in Tahrir Square took place we would all receive a bonus of between 250 and 500 Egyptian pounds (£26-52), whether or not we had anything to do with policing the protests.
It's ridiculous; at the height of the unrest reserve officer salaries doubled and everyone was getting huge bonuses all the time (an average of 2,400 pounds – £254 – for me in January and February). Most full-time officers didn't really care what was happening politically on the streets, they were just happy with the extra money. Occasionally though you'd hear guilty jokes about how we were the only people who were benefiting from the revolution and the Egyptian people had been screwed over.
 Read the whole thing, it's very enlightening although not altogether surprising. This is how it ends:
But as the months went on, despite this ignorance and the generous bonus system, dissent against [Egypt's commander-in-chief and current head of Scaf, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein] Tantawi has grown. Most of the mid-level officers now think of him as Mubarak's right-hand man, and they hate the fact that Scaf's violence has tarnished the army's image in the eyes of the public. Many still disapprove of the current protests because they feel it's not the right time, and also because they're resentful that others can go and demonstrate on the streets when they themselves do not have such freedom. But that attitude is beginning to change, especially as independent TV channels have been airing video clips of the recent violence and the brutality of the security forces is being openly discussed by people like [prominent media personalities] Yosri Fouda and Ibrahim Eissa. More and more mid-level officers are turning against Scaf, and against Tantawi."

UK: Honor Attacks up to 5,500 many unreported

5,500 Reports of Honor Attacks This Year In UK; Thousands of Others Unreported

These thousands of women whose cases go unreported are not just the victims of the fathers and brothers whom they fear. They are also the victims of Western apathy and silence, and it’s only getting worse. Almost no one in the dinosaur media talks about honor killing. All those loud-mouthed charlatans talk big when excoriating and trashing those who fight for these women and recognize their plight, but they cower when forced to report on Islam. Instead, they search for benign euphemisms for this most brutal and ugly ideology.
Thus as the Islamic supremacists, the leftist apologists, and useful idiots continue to obfuscate the truth behind these terrible honor murders and attacks, Muslims who engage in such practices are sanctioned by society at large. As the West bows to Islamic supremacism, it’s the women and children, who in Sharia states are nothing more than chattel, who suffer the brunt of it. Our silence, and in effect complicity, has consequences. Honor killings in the West are on the rise.
Hidden tide of 'honour' violence in Britain's communities Telegraph December 28
Tulay Goren, part of the hidden tide of 'honour' violence in Britain
Tulay Goren, who was 'disappeared' by her father in 1999 Photo: PA
The number of women from Britain’s ethnic communities coming forward to report so-called “honour” attacks has more than doubled in three years, new figures show.
But campaigners warn that recorded cases may be just the “tip of the iceberg” with thousands of incidents going unreported each year because of fear of reprisal, family pressure or inconsistent police recording.
Police figures also suggest that a significant proportion of victims drop their cases after initially coming forward.
It follows the launch of a Government consultation on plans to make forced marriage a criminal offence in Britain.
The proposal, backed by David Cameron, has been opposed by some groups on the grounds that it could “stigmatise” some communities.
It follows a string of high profile cases in which girls or young women were beaten, abducted and even murdered for supposedly bringing “dishonour” on their family by falling in love with someone they disapproved of.
Figures from the Metropolitan Police show that in the 12 months to April 2011 there were 443 incidents reported as cases of honour violence or forced marriage in London alone – more than double that in 2007-8.
A separate recent survey of all police forces, using Freedom of Information Act, estimated that there were nearly 3,600 reported cases nationwide in 2010.
The same study, by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) found that a 47 per cent rise in cases in a year.
Jasvinder Sanghera, the founder of the victim support group Karma Nirvana estimates that the true scale of the problem could be up to four times that figure.
The group’s Honour Network helpline is on course to have received 5,500 calls from women this year alone.
She said: “The figures are woefully underestimated, we are dealing with the tip of the iceberg, we don’t know how many thousands are at risk because it is a hidden crime and there is no statutory duty to record it.
“This is an issue for British born subjects, we have really got to acknowledge that and move away from being ‘culturally sensitive’ and fear of being called racist, it’s an issue of child protection.”
She urged people from all backgrounds to show support for criminalising forced marriage during the consultation.
“This is not a cultural issue, it’s an issue of abuse and while we tiptoe around it we are giving power to the perpetrators,” she said.
The recent IKWRO study asked all 52 police forces in the United Kingdom for figures on the number of reports of honour-based violence last year.
Of the 39 which responded, only 13 had been specifically recording honour crimes separately for more than a year, to make comparisons possible.
In Greater Manchester the number of complaints of honour attacks rose 80 per cent from 2009 to 2010, with 189 incidents recorded last year; in Northumbria it more than trebled from just 17 recorded cases in 2009 to 69 last year and in Bedfordshire it was up 41 per cent to 117.
The separate Met Police figures, which cover a more recent period, distinguish between complaints of honour violence and those logged as crimes.
Consistently only around half have been logged in the second category for the last four years, suggesting many women drop their complaints because of fear.
Police overhauled the way honour violence is treated following the case of Banaz Mahmod, an Iraqi Kurd from Mitcham, south London, who was killed and buried in a suitcase in a back garden in 2006 because she left her abusive husband and fell in love with another man.
She had told police of fears for her life before her murder but was not believed. A complex four year operation eventually saw her father, uncle and two cousins jailed for her murder.
In another landmark case Turkish-born Mehmet Goren was jailed for life two years ago for murdering his 15-year-old daughter Tulay, who was “disappeared” in London in 1999.
Tulay’s body was never found but police managed to secure the conviction after her mother, Hanim, broke ranks and gave evidence against her husband.

Israel: Hamas raids Fatah homes

Posted: 29 Dec 2011 07:10 AM PST
Palestine Press Agency reports that Hamas' attacks on Fatah members in Gaza has continued to intensify this week, immediately after the Cairo meeting between the two sides meant to solidify their unity.

According to the report, Hamas security forces raided dozens of homes in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City and forced the residents to remove Fatah posters and banners from their walls.

A number of residents were beaten and arrested.

In one home the forces ripped down pictures of Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.

This comes on the heels of dozens of arrests earlier this week. Hamas also denied Fatah requests to hold celebrations on the 47th anniversary of the start of the PLO on January 1.

PCHR has confirmed the details of the earlier articles published by PalPress on arrests and detentions of Fatah members.

Meanwhile, Hamas security forces attacked students at Al Aqsa Universiity because they were dressed indecently. Al Aqsa is a conservative university where women are expected to wear veils.

In another PalPress story, Hamas barred journalist Sami Ajrami from traveling to Egypt. Must be that siege we hear so much about.

(h/t CHA) Elder of Ziyon

Krugman: Journalistic Theater

Paul Krugman | Carelessly Mistaking Theater for Policy
Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: "One crucial thing you need to understand about political journalists in the United States is that, with some honorable exceptions, they don't know or care about actual policy…. The problem … is that all too often political journalists mistake the theater of policy for reality (or don't care about the difference)."
Read the Article

Thom Hartmann on the News - December 29, 2011

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Justice Department to Bring Charges Against BP Over 2010 Oil Spill, and More
In today's On the News segment: The Justice Department will bring charges against BP over 2010 oil spill, there is backlash against supporters of the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), Republicans have lost the Hispanic vote, Fox viewership declines, and more.
Watch the Video and Read the Transcript

ALEC group vs Maine voting rights

ALEC-Linked Group Revealed as Major Secret Donor in Referendum on Maine Voting Rights
Scott Keyes, ThinkProgress: "Last month, Maine voters … approved a referendum restoring election day voting registration rights in the state…. Voting rights opponents poured money into the campaign to repeal election day registration. In fact, just two days after the state's campaign finance reporting deadline, a secret conservative donor funneled $250,000 into the race."
Read the Article

UK: RIP Austerity Economics 1921 - 2011

Notable Death of the Year: RIP Austerity Economics, 1921-2011

by: Richard (RJ) Eskow, Campaign for America's Future | Op-Ed
This is the time of year when we're reminded of all the famous people who died over the last twelve months, a list which includes two of my favorite guitar players (Hubert Sumlin and Cornell Dupree). But there were also some notable non-human deaths in 2011, especially in the world of economic policy.
One of those deaths should have completely altered the political debate in Washington. The name of the deceased was "Austerity Economics," and it was first glimpsed in a 1921 paper by conservative economist Frank Wright. Austerity died of natural causes brought on by prolonged exposure to reality.
But the debate in Washington didn't change nearly enough after its passing. In the nation's capital, dead things still rule the night.
Why Austerity?
"Austerity economics" backers claim that today's economic woes can only be fixed by dramatic reductions in government spending, which will lead to increased private-sector confidence and therefore to greater investment and growth.
But it's never worked. And if investors have lost confidence in the U.S. government's fiscal stability, they're sure not acting that way. There hasn't been this much demand for Treasury bonds since the government began tracking it twenty years ago, and they haven't performed as well since the go-go 1990s.
It's easy to understand austerity's attraction for power elites inside and outside of government. The people who suffer from austerity budgets aren't the kinds of people they know personally, since they're typically public employees like teachers, police, firefighters and the administrators of social programs; people who need government assistance, like the poor; and middle-class people with the temerity to either grow old or become disabled.
Austerity's attraction became even greater in the U.S. because once it became conventional wisdom that tax increases on the wealthy was "politically infeasible." That made it a program whose sole purpose was to cut government spending, lowering the pressure to increase taxes on the wealthy from today's historically low levels.
For a one-percenter, what's not to love?
Austerity Comes of Age
The idea's been around in one form or another since that 1921 paper, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had been imposing it on Third World nations for decades.
But 2009 was the year that austerity really came of age. That was the year that a wealthy stockbroker's son named David Cameron began campaigning for Prime Minister of Great Britain on an explicitly pro-austerity platform.
It was also the year that Cameron helped to form a group named European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) dedicated to electing like-minded politicians across Europe and helping them collaborate on ways to slash government spending. It was also the year that right-leaning Angela Merkel won reelection as the Chancellor of Germany with a stronger mandate than she'd been given in her first term.
With Nicolas Sarkozy as President of France, Great Britain was the only major European power not yet in the hands of the corporate-backed austerity crowd.
The Global Sado-Erotic Thrill Machine
That changed with Cameron's election as Prime Minister in May 2010, an event that threw pro-austerity Americans into throes of near-erotic ecstasy. And if that sounds like hyperbole, consider conservative Anne Appelbaum's reaction to Cameron's budget in September of 2010:
Vicious cuts." "Savage cuts." "Swingeing (sic) cuts." The language that the British use to describe their new government's spending-reduction policy is apocalyptic in the extreme. The ministers in charge of the country's finances are known as "axe-wielders" who will be "hacking" away at the budget. Articles about the nation's finances are filled with talk of blood, knives, and amputation.
And the British love it.
What can I say? There are people who collect serial-killer memorabilia, too. But Appelbaum wasn't just speaking for herself. It became unacceptable for any politician in Washington, Democrat or Republican, to advocate anything other than an austerity budget for the United States.
And it was more than an economic strategy to its backers. Austerity became a way to demonize those who had suffered most from the banking abuses and self-indulgences of the wealthy, a totemic "blame the victim" response that turned the political debate into a grotesque inversion of morality. Again, Appelbaum:
"Not only is austerity being touted as the solution to Britain's economic woes; it is also being described as the answer to the country's moral failings."
Bad Metaphors vs. Good Economists
The Democratic President of the United States, Barack Obama, jumped onto the bandwagon with both feet by repeatedly lecturing Americans on the need for government to stop "spending beyond its means." Obama recycled the popular conservative metaphor of a family that has to sit around the kitchen table and decide how much money it has to spend.
That's one of the worst metaphors in modern politics. Does a family establish its own currency -- especially one that has the unique position of the dollar? Can a family borrow money at rates so low they're effectively less than zero? Would a family let Grandma go hungry because Junior bought too many Porsches out of the family kitty and then gambled it away on lousy mortgage investments?
The world's top economists, those who had successfully predicted the crisis of 2008, tried telling the rest of the world what was wrong with the idea: Joblessness and consumer fears were killing any chance of real recovery. More short-term spending was needed to get the economy moving again. Austerity would make things worse, not better.
But nobody listened. Austerity's S&M-like attraction had the world's elites in its grip.
Death of a Delusion
And then something else came into the picture: Reality.
Cameron's austerity budget had a shattering effect on the already-struggling British economy. His government's financial stability was downgraded five times during his first year in power and retail sales had fallen 2.5 percent. Household income was projected to fall an additional 2 percent if his austerity plans were carried forward. Britain's modest employment gains were reversed, youth unemployment reached record levels, and income inequality was the worst it had been in more than half a century.
Anne Appelbaum's erotic dreams had become Great Britain's nightmare.
As Europe's ruling austerity class pushed forward with their plans, even the IMF tried to dissuade them. It was clear to anyone who wasn't blinded by ideology or political cynicism that austerity economics was a failed program. Even in countries like Greece, where government was far graver than elsewhere, the austerity programs imposed from outside threatened to destabilize society while other reasonable measures like improved tax collection were still not taken seriously enough.
And now the entire Eurozone hangs in the balance. Bankers became wealthy by treating governments as if they were mortgages, lending recklessly and pocketing their fees without considering the long-term reliability of their loans. European leaders insisted for months they were take the kind of sensible steps that should've been taken in the United States by requiring bankers to accept at least part of the losses for the bad loans they had issed.
That plan was quietly dropped last month. "Austerity economics" never calls for austerity from those who have gotten rich by being irresponsible, only from those who didn't benefit from it at all.
The Afterlife
President Obama has dropped his austerity rhetoric, at least for the time being, but the Republicans have not. Listening to Mitt Romney discuss economics is like having a doctor wave a dead chicken over your head and saying he's decided to cast a spell on you rather than operate on that thing they found in your X-rays.
Aside from the bill introduced this month by the House Progressive Caucus to almost no media attention, there's no comprehensive plan for dropping this country's ineffective austerity strategy and replacing it with an agenda that works.
Rational solutions to our economic problems are being ignored. There won't be a real debate about alternatives to austerity until an entire political party, not just part of it, adopts this kind of program. Until then there will be chaos. And where there is chaos, austerity's powerful advocates can step in and take charge.
Austerity economics died in 2011 and is survived by the British, German, and French governments as well as the GOP and large portions of the Democratic Party. Instead of sending flowers, the family has asked the public to abandon all hopes of future economic growth.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Was Sly Stallone a Draft Dodger?

According to my recollection, he was. He conveniently went to Sweden or one of the other Scandinavian countries to escape the draft. He was not, to my knowledge, ever deemed to be unfit for service. He just refused to report, instead he left the United States, and lived abroad for some time. I find it odd that he did return to the U.S., and was portrayed in the movie, "First Blood" as a Special Forces soldier/vet who had problems once he returned home for the war. His case, like so many more, were silently swept under the covers, and nothing was ever done. I do remember that Jimmy Carter did approve the amnesty program for several thousand draft dodgers who resided overseas, but return to the U.S. No jail time or punishments were given for their misdeeds.

NDAA Rips 5th Amendment Rights - Ron Paul

The NDAA Repeals More Rights

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 – by Ron Paul

Dr. Ron Paul

Little by little, in the name of fighting terrorism, our Bill of Rights is being repealed. The 4th Amendment has been rendered toothless by the PATRIOT Act. No more can we truly feel secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects when now there is an exception that fits nearly any excuse for our government to search and seize our property. Of course, the vast majority of Americans may say, "I'm not a terrorist so I have no reason to worry." However, innocent people are wrongly accused all the time. The Bill of Rights is there precisely because the founders wanted to set a very high bar for the government to overcome in order to deprive an individual of life or liberty. To lower that bar is to endanger everyone. When the bar is low enough to include political enemies, our descent into totalitarianism is virtually assured.
The PATRIOT Act, as bad is its violation of the 4th Amendment, was just one step down the slippery slope. The recently passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) continues that slip toward tyranny and, in fact, accelerates it significantly. The main section of concern, Section 1021 of the NDAA Conference Report, does to the 5th Amendment what the PATRIOT Act does to the 4th. The 5th Amendment is about much more than the right to remain silent in the face of government questioning. It contains very basic and very critical stipulations about due process of law. The government cannot imprison a person for no reason and with no evidence presented or access to legal counsel.
The dangers in the NDAA are its alarmingly vague, undefined criteria for who can be indefinitely detained by the US government without trial. It is now no longer limited to members of al Qaeda or the Taliban, but anyone accused of "substantially supporting" such groups or "associated forces." How closely associated? And what constitutes "substantial" support? What if it was discovered that someone who committed a terrorist act was once involved with a charity? Or supported a political candidate? Are all donors of that charity or supporters of that candidate now suspect, and subject to indefinite detainment? Is that charity now an associated force?
Additionally, this legislation codifies in law for the first time authority to detain Americans that has to this point only been claimed by President Obama. According to subsection (e) of section 1021, "[n]othing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States." This means the president's widely expanded view of his own authority to detain Americans indefinitely even on American soil is for the first time in this legislation codified in law. That should chill all of us to our cores.
The Bill of Rights has no exemptions for "really bad people" or terrorists or even non-citizens. It is a key check on government power against any person. That is not a weakness in our legal system; it is the very strength of our legal system. The NDAA attempts to justify abridging the bill of rights on the theory that rights are suspended in a time of war, and the entire Unites States is a battlefield in the War on Terror. This is a very dangerous development indeed. Beware.

Rachel Maddow Explains How Republican Governors Are Making Obama More Po...

Canada: Fracking Poisons Water Supply

Oh, Canada’s Become a Home for Record Fracking

by Nicholas Kusnetz
Early last year, deep in the forests of northern British Columbia, workers for Apache Corp. performed what the company proclaimed was the biggest hydraulic fracturing operation ever.
Workers on a natural gas drilling rig near Longview, Alberta. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press via AP Images) The project used 259 million gallons of water and 50,000 tons of sand to frack 16 gas wells side by side. It was "nearly four times larger than any project of its nature in North America," Apache boasted.
The record didn't stand for long. By the end of the year, Apache and its partner, Encana, topped it by half at a neighboring site.

As furious debate over fracking continues in the United States, it is instructive to look at how a similar gas boom is unfolding for our neighbor to the north.
To a large extent, the same themes have emerged as Canada struggles to balance the economic benefits drilling has brought with the reports of water contamination and air pollution that have accompanied them.
The Canadian boom has differed in one regard: The western provinces' exuberant embrace of large-scale fracking offers a vision of what could happen elsewhere if governments clear away at least some of the regulatory hurdles to growth.
Even as some officials have questioned the wisdom of doing so, Alberta and British Columbia have dueled to draw investment by offering financial incentives and loosening rules. The result has been some of the most intensive drilling anywhere.
"There definitely is concern on the part of people living in northeast B.C. on the scale of developments, which are quite significant already and are only in their infancy,"said Ben Parfitt, an analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a research institute that promotes environmental sustainability. "We are seeing some of the largest fracking operations anywhere on earth."
Canada's eastern regions have proceeded more cautiously. In March, Quebec placed a moratorium on shale development pending further study. Protesters have taken to the streets in New Brunswick demanding the same.
Public opposition, coupled with low gas prices, has slowed drilling over the past year. Still, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers expects production from shale and other unconventional sources to more than triple in the next decade.
The industry's aggressive plan for growth has drawn an ambivalent response from the nation's top environmental officials.
In March, Canada's deputy minister of the environment sent an internal memo warning that more work was needed to assess the risks from shale gas drilling. The memo, obtained by an Ottawa-based newspaper and addressed to Environment Minister Peter Kent, said water use and contamination top a list of environmental concerns including air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the use of unknown toxic chemicals. Kent subsequently ordered two studies looking at the safety and environmental impacts of shale drilling.
Yet, in a written response to questions from ProPublica, the environment ministry affirmed its commitment to continued development.
"Our Government believes shale gas is an important strategic resource that could provide numerous economic benefits to Canada," the ministry's statement said. Gas is an important part of a clean energy future, the ministry added, saying that "a healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand."
B.C., Alberta Lure Drillers
Canada's current drilling boom dates to the late 1990s, when Encana began using fracking to extract gas from dense rock in northern British Columbia.
The second-largest gas driller in North America, Encana also started fracking shallow coal seams, or coalbed methane, in Alberta in the early 2000s, using nitrogen rather than water to free the gas. Coalbed methane drilling generally requires less fluid than fracking shale but occurs much closer to drinking water. In some cases, Encana and other companies have drilled wells directly into aquifers, injecting fracking fluids into groundwater suitable for drinking.
In the middle of the last decade, Encana and other operators started exploring northern British Columbia's shale gas reserves. The formations were promising, holding at least 200 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to industry estimates.
But drillers faced formidable hurdles to get to it. Unlike the Barnett and Marcellus shales in the U.S., Canada's best shale basins are far from most markets and existing infrastructure. Soggy ground slows drilling in the spring and summer, and the average high temperature hovers around zero degrees Fahrenheit in January.
To encourage development, British Columbia enacted a series of incentives, including reduced royalties for deep drilling and credits for building roads and pipelines in the remote regions.
These changes, combined with the area's severe conditions, spurred companies to concentrate and scale up their operations in British Columbia in an effort to cut costs, industry experts say. The result: a string of record-breaking fracks.
In a written response to questions from ProPublica, Apache said this approach reduces surface disturbance. It also can heighten the risk of air and water pollution, said Bruce Kramer, an expert in oil and gas law with McGinnis, Lochridge and Kilgore, a Texas-based law firm.
In both western provinces, the regional authorities responsible for regulating drilling have passed rules to allow more intensive drilling.
In Alberta, drillers can now pack wells closer together and pump more water out of shallow coal seams to free gas more efficiently. British Columbia issued detailed regulations last year that limit where and when companies can drill and set rigorous environmental standards but also gave its Oil and Gas Commission the authority to exempt drillers from virtually all of these provisions.
The commission referred an inquiry from ProPublica to its parent organization, the Ministry of Energy and Mines. In written responses to questions, the Ministry said the new regulations adequately address environmental concerns over drilling activity in the province. Pointing to an upcoming health study and new rules that compel companies to disclose chemicals used in fracking, officials said they would continue to review and revise standards as necessary.
Still, the regulatory shifts have prompted environmental advocates in Alberta and British Columbia to question whether officials are prepared to cope with rising concerns about water use, contamination and unchecked development.
"We just don't have a clue how big this issue is from a public policy perspective,"said Bob Simpson, a member of British Columbia's legislative assembly and an outspoken critic. "We really don't know what we're doing."
Jessica Ernst's Water Problems
Over the last five years, there have been several prominent cases in which Alberta residents have said gas drilling contaminated their water.
There are no hard numbers. The government does not track such complaints. But in some instances, residents' frustration has been exacerbated by their sense that regulators have not properly investigated their claims.
In 2005, Jessica Ernst noticed strange things happening to her water. The toilet fizzed. The faucets whistled. Black particles clogged her filter. Then she began getting rashes.
Ernst, a longtime environmental consultant for oil and gas companies, wondered whether the changes could be connected to drilling nearby. Encana had been drilling shallow coalbed methane wells near her home outside of Rosebud, about 50 miles northeast of Calgary.
She asked Alberta Environment and Water, the agency that oversees groundwater, to test her well. When the well was drilled in 1986, tests showed it had no methane. The new tests, however, showed high levels of the gas, as well as a hydrocarbon called F2 and two other chemicals.
But in 2007, a government research agency concluded it was unlikely that drilling had affected her water. The final report said the chemicals found were not typically used in coalbed methane drilling, and that one had probably come from a plastic tube used to test the water.
Ernst wasn't satisfied with the province's response, however. The government's report concluded that the methane in her well might be occurring naturally because tests showed similar levels of gas in nearby wells. But the tests were conducted after Ernst noticed the changes in her water -- she saw the results as an indication that the contamination might be more widespread.
The government's report also ignored evidence provided by one of its own analysts, a professor of geochemistry at the University of Alberta. When Karlis Muehlenbachs analyzed the gas in Ernst's well for Alberta Environment and Water, he found ethane, a gas often found with methane, with a chemical signature indicating that it had come from deep underground, below the depth of the well. Muehlenbachs told ProPublica that the ethane's signature meant that it could not have been there naturally. He said he is convinced that it resulted from drilling.
As Ernst searched for answers to what happened to her water, she unearthed evidence of other problems related to drilling. She found an Alberta Environment and Water report that listed cases in which the fracking of shallow wells resulted in gas or fluid leaking into nearby gas wells or spraying into the air. She also found government gas well records that said Encana had fracked into the aquifer that supplies her water well.
"The community was used as a test tube,"she said. "I was used as a test tube."
Earlier this year, Ernst sued Encana, Alberta Environment and Water and the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board, which regulates drilling, alleging that Encana's drilling was negligent and that the government agencies had covered up the company's contamination and failed to enforce regulations.
Ernst, who is asking for about $33 million Canadian in damages and return of wrongful profits, has vowed she will not accept a settlement that includes a confidentiality agreement, as others have done.
"Somebody has to do this,"she said.
Alan Boras, a spokesman for Encana, said the company would not comment on the case.
The Energy Resources Conservation Board denied a request for an interview. In written responses to questions, spokesman Bob Curran said he could not comment on the specifics of Ernst's case, but the agency is confident it has conducted itself appropriately.
Carrie Sancartier, a spokeswoman for Alberta Environment and Water, would not comment on Ernst's allegations because of the lawsuit but said there have been no confirmed cases of gas drilling contaminating water wells in the province.
Muehlenbachs, whose work has been used in several government investigations, said that is "simply false." He said he's analyzed thousands of cases of gas leaking up well bores and knows of at least a dozen cases of water contamination.
Alberta has introduced several measures to safeguard water from shallow drilling. In 2006, it established a buffer zone between shallow gas wells and water wells and required drillers to test nearby water wells before drilling into an aquifer.
Nevertheless, last January, as part of a review of drilling regulations, the Energy Resources Conservation Board said shallow fracking poses a risk to groundwater.
Is 'Communication' a Risk?
There have been no reports of groundwater contamination related to new drilling in British Columbia.
Increasingly, however, there are reports of something called "communication" -- events in which a fracture travels through the ground and connects two gas wells.
Ken Paulson, chief engineer at the province's Oil and Gas Commission, said these events do not pose a contamination risk. Other experts say their principal impact is to undermine production.
But opponents of expanded shale drilling say instances of communication show that drillers lack a full understanding of what happens when wells are fracked closer together, increasing the risk of contamination. Anthony Ingraffea, an engineering professor at Cornell University, said that if a fracture hit a natural fault, it could allow contaminants to enter aquifers.
Communication has occurred in the U.S. as well: Regulators in Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan and Pennsylvania reported such events to Canadian officials as part of the Energy Resources Conservation Board's regulatory review.
Documents provided to ProPublica show that energy companies have reported 25 cases of communication in British Columbia since 2009. Companies are not required to report such events, so the list isn't comprehensive, Paulson said.
In May 2010, the province's Oil and Gas Commission issued a warning when a drilling company inadvertently shot sand from one fracking job into another well being drilled more than 2,000 feet away.
The advisory said the operator contained the resulting jump in pressure within the well but warned of a "potential safety hazard." When communication occurs, Paulson said, the biggest concern is that an operator could lose control of a well and cause a blowout.
Concerns Over Water Consumption
As the debate over communication continues, Parfitt and other Canadian environmentalists have raised more immediate concerns about water use. Fracking requires lots of water -- on their biggest reported fracking job, Apache and Encana used an average of 28 million gallons of water per well.
While the oil and gas industry says it is responsible for 1 percent or less of British Columbia's overall water use, environmental advocates say that may not reflect the full extent of the industry's consumption or long-term needs.
Drillers use both surface and groundwater. Access to surface water is regulated by two agencies that issue long-term licenses or year-long permits. Overwhelmingly, energy companies have chosen to obtain permits, which require less regulatory review.
Most groundwater withdrawals aren't regulated at all. Drillers need permits to sink water wells, but there are no limits on the amount of water that can be taken from them. They can also purchase water from other well owners, so there's no way to track overall use.
"How much water is actually being used and, more importantly, how much water is projected to be used over next the 10 to 15 years? Because of the scattershot approach of regulation, this isn't something we can actually answer right now,"said Matt Horne, acting director of the climate change program at the Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank that published a report on the gas industry's water use.
Last year, in a report focusing on province-wide groundwater oversight, British Columbia's auditor general said the province was not adequately protecting aquifers from overuse and potential contamination. Agencies lacked the basic data necessary to assess the risks, such as the number and extent of the province's aquifers, the report said.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines, in a written response to questions, said the province is taking several steps to improve oversight of water use, including a research project studying aquifers. The agency said it can review large groundwater withdrawal projects and that pending changes to the province's water law would regulate withdrawals.
Drillers themselves are also moving to address water concerns. Encana and Apache have started using saline water not suitable for drinking or irrigation in some of their projects. Alan Boras, the Encana spokesman, said the company uses non-potable water almost exclusively in its main operating area in the Horn River Basin, where the largest frack jobs were reported.
Environmentalists say they welcome the effort, but caution that these projects are tiny compared to the industry's overall water use.
Governments, Industry Get Cozy
Public backlash to fracking has become such a concern for drillers and provincial governments in western Canada that last year they launched a joint effort to counter it.
In December 2010, the governments of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding laying out a plan to share information and develop standards for hydraulic fracturing and water use. The provinces invited only one non-governmental entity to participate in the project: the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
The memo, which was leaked in August and published by the Alberta Federation of Labour, a union group, said the provinces and petroleum producers would work together to develop "key messages" on shale drilling to persuade the public not to fear fracking.
"The project will help to demonstrate that shale gas extraction is viable, safe and environmentally sustainable," the memo said.
The memo blamed environmental groups for spreading misleading information and stirring opposition to drilling.
"Environmental Non-Government organizations (ENGOs) are supporting a ill-informed [sic] campaign on hydraulic fracturing and water related issues in British Columbia and in other jurisdictions," it said. "This is expected to grow as shale gas development expands into Alberta and Saskatchewan."
In a separate memo, Alberta Environment and Water reported that the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers had approached the province to work on a joint public relations campaign.
Ultimately, no campaign materialized.
Janet Annesley, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the group hadn't wanted to join forces on PR but was just informing the province of plans to publish voluntary standards for shale gas drilling.
Still, critics saw the memo as proof of an overly cozy relationship between the government and the industry.
Bart Johnson, a spokesman for Alberta's Energy Minister, said the petroleum producers had suggested a joint PR initiative but dropped the request. Such a collaboration, however, would not have been inappropriate, he said. The government works with industry groups all the time, he said, citing a campaign with education groups against bullying in schools.
"Oil and gas is huge in Alberta. It fuels our economy. Indeed it fuels the economy of Canada," Johnson said. "Any suggestion that we shouldn't meet with that industry is ridiculous."