Here in Copenhagen, the Obama administration is coming under criticism for refusing to acknowledge a climate debt to poorer countries suffering the brunt of global warming. This week US climate negotiator Todd Stern “categorically” rejected calls for climate reparations to developing countries. On Thursday, Bolivia climate negotiator Angélica Navarro responded in an address before the alternative summit Klimaforum.
Angélica Navarro: “Whatever amount of money you give me, it will never — and I repeat — it will never compensate a single glacier that will be lost in Bolivia, a single species that will be lost in one of our rainforests. This is not about money, because we are not beggars. We are just asking for reparation by developed countries so they pay us their debt.”
In other news from Copenhagen, ocean scientists have released a report showing the world’s seas are growing increasingly acidic from storing the main greenhouse gases causing global warming. Carol Turley of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory said oceans are seriously threatened unless emissions are reduced.
Carol Turley: “The oceans have already taken up 25 percent of the CO2 since the Industrial Revolution because of its vastness. And when you add CO2 to sea water, it becomes an acid, a mild acid. So the oceans in the last 200 years have become 30 percent more acidic, and that’s lowering the pH. The projections are that by 2060 it will become 120 percent more acidic, unless we do something about it, unless we reduce our CO2 emissions.”
In Norway, thousands of people took to the streets of Oslo Thursday as President Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama used his acceptance speech to defend the escalation of the Afghan war, calling it a just use of force. US peace activist Cindy Sheehan addressed a crowd of marchers in Oslo.
Cindy Sheehan: “How dare the committee give the Peace Prize, which will be forever known now as Peace Prize, to Obama? And how dare he accept it? How dare the committee legitimize the crimes and — the war crimes and other crimes of the Bush regime by rewarding Obama for continuing them?”
Meanwhile, in New York dozens of people marched in a parallel rally against Obama’s Nobel Prize. The demonstrators carried mock coffins as they walked from the United Nations to a military recruiting station in Times Square.
Protester: “He kind of rehashed the 'just war' argument, and it’s something that I think is kind of offensive, personally, to try to paint a military effort, where people are going to be dying, in terms of peace and in terms of, you know, positive thinking. And it just doesn’t make any sense, I don’t think.”
New details have surfaced about the private military firm Blackwater’s extensive role in US operations abroad. The New York Times is reporting Blackwater forces have taken part in armed CIA raids in Iraq and Afghanistan. Blackwater is said to have played a “central” role in almost daily “snatch and grab” operations in Iraq between 2004 and 2006. Former Blackwater guards say they also assisted CIA “rendition” flights transporting prisoners for imprisonment and torture abroad. The guards say their involvement was so extensive that it became difficult to distinguish Blackwater operations from those of the CIA or US military.
In Pakistan, the five US citizens arrested earlier this week are being accused of seeking to join militant groups to fight US troops in Afghanistan. The five young men were arrested after their families reported them missing in northern Virginia last week. Pakistani police say the men told interrogators they came to Pakistan to engage in jihadist activity.
Ecuador is accusing the US of involvement in Colombia’s 2008 attack on FARC rebels in Ecuadorian territory. The cross-border bombing killed more than twenty people, including civilians. In a new report, the Ecuadorian government says US military officials helped plan the attack from the Manta Air Base in Ecuador. Ecuador ended US operations at the base earlier this year.
Egypt has begun constructing a new border wall to further seal off the Gaza Strip. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports Egypt is installing an underground wall to block tunnels used for smuggling goods into Gaza.
The hunger-striking Western Sahara activist Aminatou Haidar is calling on the Obama administration to pressure the Moroccan government to allow her return home.
Known as the “Sahrawi Gandhi,” Haidar has been on a hunger strike for nearly four weeks since Moroccan officials denied her entry into Western Sahara. Morocco has demanded Haidar recognize Moroccan sovereignty over her homeland and apologize to the king. On Thursday, Haidar held a news conference at the Spanish airport where she’s been confined since last month.
Aminatou Haidar: “The Spanish government has to give importance to human rights and change its attitude and defend those interests which are above those of the government. Nobody can push me or feed me against my will.”
Haidar went on to issue a plea to President Obama, saying US involvement would sway the Moroccan government to allow her return.
A federal judge has declared the Pentagon in contempt of court for failing to videotape a Guantanamo Bay prisoner who’s challenging his detention. The military had been ordered to record Mohammed Al-Adahi when he testified from Guantanamo in June. The judge had said Adahi’s testimony should eventually be made public. The Justice Department is challenging a court ruling ordering Adahi’s release for a lack of evidence against him.
Patient rights advocates are criticizing a loophole in the Senate healthcare reform bill that would allow insurance companies to limit healthcare benefits even for seriously ill patients. An earlier version of the bill had banned the annual caps, but it’s since reappeared as the bill moves through committee. On Thursday, single-payer activists protested at Senate offices nationwide against the Democrats’ latest agreement to abandon the public option. Nine people were arrested at the New York offices of Democratic Senator Charles Schumer.
The Justice Department has announced a settlement with the mining giant Asarco for the cleanup of more than eighty polluted sites in nineteen states. Asarco will pay $1.79 billion to settle a series of claims. It’s believed to be the largest environmental bankruptcy settlement in US history.
And Howard Zinn’s bestselling book A People’s History of the United States is headed to television this week. First published more than a quarter of a century ago, the book has sold more than a million copies. The People Speak airs Sunday night on the History Channel.