Aletho News


Trading our environment for wind power

By Nancy O’Toole | March 14, 2010

In 2008, the Kibby project, 44 turbines, miles of roads and hundreds of acres of cleared forest was approved. The Expedited Rule did its job for the developer, streamlining the necessary review since the location is part of over 14 million acres of land opened to wind development.

Now in 2010, TransCanada wants to expand the Kibby project and is proposing 15 turbines on Sisk Mountain, which overlooks the Chain of Ponds.

To do this TransCanada wants to expand the already expedited area of Maine to include the portion of Sisk Mountain not yet within this “umbrella.” TransCanada is petitioning to add another 630 acres to the expedited area, all of it overlooking Chain of Ponds, Big Island, and Massachusetts Bog.

Mountain tops and ridges above 2,700 feet will host all 15 turbines, 3.6 miles of crane road (34 feet wide), 3.6 miles of collector lines, (60 feet wide), 0.6 miles of access road to ridge and miles of “temporary” skidder trails. That does not include upgrades to a number of existing tracks.

A total of 90 wetland areas were identified with 11 Palustrine scrub — shrubs in the path of the collector line corridor. TC surveyed the area for vernal pools and listed 14 significant pools, meaning it has a high habitat value and is home to or has an abundance of threatened or endangered species. All will be impacted to some degree.

Clearing and grubbing will remove 140 acres of forest. Of that, 42 acres is described as fir-heartleaved birch sub-alpine community. Having a statewide S3 ranking means it’s a rare community type of forest and the clearing will isolate and alter the habitat adjacent to the community, allowing sunlight and wind, which removes moisture, deeper into the forest and impacting the rest of the community and altering it forever. The Bicknell Thrush, a threatened song bird, will lose 12.4 acres of critical habitat.

Blasting and excavating estimates are 750,000 cubic yards, with 650,000 cubic yards of fill. This is very significant, given that the soils, hydrology and the steep slopes above 2300 feet are very fragile. It is very difficult to build roads in this zone without significant blasting and it effects the surrounding environment.

Underlying hydrology needs to be identified and protected. This includes water from seeps, springs and streams disrupted by blasting of ledge and rock for roads and turbine placement.

The results from diverting will change the temperature and volume of streams, thus impact salmon in North Branch Dead River, Horseshoe stream and wild brook trout in Clear Brook.

Roads and collector lines will cross 57 perennial and intermittent streams.

Gold Brook is a tributary of the north branch of the Dead River and provides temperature refuge for landlocked salmon and supports wild brook trout. Kibby Stream, a tributary of Spencer Stream, supports wild brook trout. When existing hydrology is disturbed and large amounts of sedimentation is deposited into these streams, significant impacts to our native fish population will occur.

In 2008 Roaring Brook Mayflies were discovered in Gold Brook, whose headwaters are on the southern slope of Sisk. This insect is listed under the Maine Department of Inland Fish and Wildlife as Endangered. First discovered at the base of Mt. Katahdin in the Roaring Brook, it is protected for its entire length in Baxter State Park. It is a significant source of food for the brook trout, bats, dragonflies and other wildlife.

The bog lemming, golden eagle historic nesting area, and Canadian lynx tracks were discovered in the Kibby and Sisk area.

Boreal straw and snowline wintergreen were found, both listed as a S2, imperiled in Maine due to rarity of species. Both grow along the margins of perennial streams.

All these and more species fall under some regulations for protection!

Where is their protection in all this fury to make money? This is an oxymoron if there ever was one — killing endangered species, some due to global warming species, in order to curtail global warming?

Nancy O’Toole is a member of the Friends of the Boundary Mountains, a nonprofit that intervened in the Kibby Mountain project as well as the Sisk Mountain project before LURC now. She has a bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering and 10 years of experience with high mountain road construction and hazardous waste cleanup in towns in Utah. She lives in Phillips.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Environmentalism | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Trading our environment for wind power

Columbia University Law School ‘Lawfare’ Project for Israel

By David Samel | March 14, 2010

On March 11, I attended the all-day Israel love-fest entitled “Lawfare”, the term coined to describe any effort to hold Israel accountable to international law. Max Blumenthal already has provided readers* with an excellent summation of the afternoon proceedings. I found particularly noteworthy his report that Columbia Law Professor Katherine Franke asked Columbia Law Dean David Schizer, one of the conference chairs, why no opposing speakers had been invited, and Schizer lamely responded that one or two speakers had been invited but were unable to attend. The principal organizer of the event, Brooke Goldstein, lined up 15 or 20 speakers who shared a collective viewpoint that Israel should be protected from any legal challenge. Goldstein herself addressed the assembly and voiced the same perspective. The notion that she, or someone else, invited one or two contrary speakers for balance is simply absurd. Certainly Goldstein did not pretend that there was any attempt to be even-handed. If Schizer wanted to participate in this one-sided affair, he should at least be candid about its nature.

Alan Dershowitz himself was not present, but his inconsistent approach to the legal framework of the conflict hovered over the proceedings. Dershowitz insists that Israel is almost completely blameless under existing international law, but just to be safe, he has proposed modifications, such as a “continuum of civilianity” that makes certain civilians more killable than others, and “worst first,” that provides immunity from international law for all but the single worst human rights offender; everyone else gets a pass until the worst is in the dock. Similar themes were repeated throughout the day. Israel has every right to defend itself, even including actions that surely will result in civilian deaths, and by the way, how dare anyone suggest that Israel intentionally kills civilians.

Interestingly, the most well-received speaker was former UN ambassador John Bolton, who adamantly insisted that the US, and Israel are entitled to disregard international law completely and act according to their own whims. He drew the biggest ovations of the day with remarks like “I believe in disproportionate force,” and “If other countries want to subordinate themselves to international law, be my guest.” He disparaged the authority of any international code or organization, saying that the US (and Israel, by implication) need not say, “Mother, may I,” when exercising “full spectrum dominance,” by which he clearly meant launching overwhelming military force against any country or target chosen by the country’s leadership. No doubt Bolton’s absolute contempt for international law and UN authority made him Bush’s perfect choice for UN Ambassador.

Dore Gold was another popular speaker. Fresh from his pathetic performance in a debate against Goldstone at Brandeis, Gold sought to score post-game points. He chose this occasion to reveal that new information had come to light about Israel’s mosque attack that killed 15 worshipers, an incident that Goldstone has repeatedly singled out as particularly reprehensible. According to Gold, the Israeli bombers did not know that the structure was a mosque because it had no minaret. Moreover, they accurately targeted a group of young militants meeting outside the mosque, killing 15 who deserved to die, and the force of the blast carried inside where it might have injured some innocents. (And imagine – there are some who still claim that Israel is unable to properly investigate its own actions.) Gold also bemoaned this week’s EU vote in favor of the Goldstone report: He speculated that Hezbollah would be studying the report for tips on how to fire rockets at Israel from densely populated areas in Lebanon in an effort to goad the Israelis to return fire and kill civilians. Apparently, Gold forgot that Israel already used this pathetic excuse throughout the 2006 Lebanon “war.”

There was frequent use of the buzz words of today’s discourse – delegitimizing and demonization. Irwin Cotler, one of numerous Canadian presenters, expressed outrage at the accusation of apartheid, meant to delegitimize Israel. He noted that apartheid is considered a “crime against humanity,” apparently thinking that the gravity of the accusation was a sufficient defense thereto. He offered no counter-analysis as to why the system of separate roads, facilities, justice systems and grossly unequal allocation of resources in the Occupied Territories was not actual apartheid, similar or worse than its manifestation in South Africa. Nor did he acknowledge the existence of state-sanctioned discrimination against Israel’s minority non-Jewish citizens in virtually every public sphere. I guess he feels it is “legitimizable” bigotry. Other speakers were similarly offended at the comparison, but no one explained why it is inappropriate.

David Scharia, an Israeli attorney specializing in counter-terrorism, noted how much more difficult it became for Shin Bet to acquire information when Israel’s High Court finally banned routine torture for detainees in 1999. Hamas adapted to the ruling by training its operatives to cry “torture,” which of course was impossible because the practice had been banned. ( I suppose previously, Hamas complaints of torture fell on deaf ears because the practice was legal.) While not condemning the ruling outright, Scharia noted that the process of “counter-terrorism” had been rendered lengthier and more complex by the unavailability of physical means to extract information.  It’s a tough world, especially when your hands are tied.

Law Professor Ruth Wedgwood allowed that “you can never deliberately attack a civilian or civilian object,” but then failed to recognize that that most reasonable maxim should be applied to Israel as well as Hamas.

For comic relief, there was a rather bizarre address by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. Ignoring the fact that the conference was falling well behind schedule when he spoke, he quoted at considerable length from Shakespeare’s King John, eventually stumbling to the punchline “Fight fire with fire.” Anyone’s guess is as good as mine as to Shurtleff’s unlikely appearance at this conference.

At one point, Dore Gold, referring to Goldstone, said, “This report is not going away.” For me, it was the most truthful, and encouraging, moment in the entire day. The Shakespeare lesson was a distant second.

* Max Blumenthal:

… The event was organized by a network of American Zionist groups and conservative operatives with apparent encouragement from the Israeli government.

As Scott Horton noticed at Harper’s, the Lawfare Project’s rollout event followed a remarkably similar conference in Jerusalem two weeks earlier. Both conferences followed legislation in the Knesset designed to force NGO’s to disclose their foreign donors so they can be more easily branded as a fifth column and to strangle human rights groups in Israel and occupied Palestine…

Though it is still unclear what actions the project will take, the demonization that human rights groups and other democratic elements in Israel have weathered foreshadows the attacks their American allies may soon face.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | 3 Comments

Israel tortures Jerusalem minors

Pal Telegraph, March 13, 2010
Loai Rujby and Mahmoud Dweik

Occupied Jerusalem – Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights revealed Saturday that Israeli police tortured Jerusalemite children, who were arrested before by Israelis.

The Center published two statements made by Loai Rujby, 14, and Mahmoud Dweik,12, both residents of Al-Yemen area of the Silwan neighborhood, who were arrested on January 10, 2010 and in November, last year. Both statements provide accounts of how Israeli soldiers tortured the two children.

The center said that the children’s accounts were clear-cut evidence of the torture policy adopted by Israeli occupation against the Palestinian minors, which increased by recent arrest campaigns that target children and minors.

In his testimony submitted to the Research and Documentation Center in Jerusalem, the 14-year-old Rujby confirmed that he was beaten harshly, tied up and denied access to food or bathroom.

Loai Rujby is a seventh grade student at the orphanage school in Al-Thoury area. He has been arrested 7 times, twice of which while being in the classroom, and every time he is accused of “throwing stones at the settlers’ house.”

Child Dweik, who was arrested in November 2009, his testimony was congruous with what Rujby said, that he was beaten and threatened during his detention.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Israel tortures Jerusalem minors

Israel bars Palestinians under 50 from Al-Aqsa

Press TV – March 14, 2010

Israeli police enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.‎

Israeli police have barred men under 50 from attending prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem Al-Quds on Sunday due to fear of another round of clashes.

On Friday, Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian worshipers after Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, injuring one Palestinian and arresting three others.

In a measure meant to prevent more violence, on Saturday the Israeli police issued an order stating that no male under the age of 50 and no visitors from other religions will be allowed to enter Islam’s third holiest site for prayers on Sunday. Women will not be affected by the order.

Tension has risen since March 5, when Israeli police attacked Muslim worshipers after Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and imposed indefinite restrictions.

And the situation took a turn for the worse following Israel’s announcement last Tuesday that it plans to build another 1,600 homes for settlers in mostly Arab East Jerusalem Al-Quds, which Palestinians say should be the capital of their future state.

Israel’s illegal settlement construction continues despite international calls for a complete freeze on building on occupied Palestinian territories.

Israeli officials have insisted that they will not accept a ‘complete freeze’ on settlement construction and that the plan to build homes for settlers in East Jerusalem Al-Quds will not be canceled.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation | Comments Off on Israel bars Palestinians under 50 from Al-Aqsa

NZ internet filter goes live – government forgets to tell public

The rise of the secret censor

By John Ozimek | The Register | 12th March 2010

New Zealand’s internet filtering system went live last month – but the government forgot to mention this to its electorate until its hand was forced by online freedom campaign, Tech Liberty.

Thomas Beagle, a spokesman for the group, said he was “very disappointed that the filter is now running” and that its launch had been conducted in such a “stealthy mode”. He added: “It’s a sad day for the New Zealand internet.”

In an interview with Computerworld this week, he claimed that the filter had gone live on February 1 but the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) delayed announcing this at until it had met with its Independent Reference Group.

The manager of the DIA’s Censorship Compliance Unit, Steve O’Brien, denied that there had been any subterfuge. The system has been undergoing trials for two years and the media have been aware of this throughout.

He said: “The Independent Reference Group has met and the filter system processes were demonstrated as set out in the code of practice, that is that the website filtering system prevents access to known websites containing images of child sexual abuse.”

While the DIA continues to be coy about exactly which ISPs are joining the filter, Tech Liberty understands that Watchdog and MaxNet have already signed-up to deploy the filter system, and that ISPs Telstra Clear, Telecom and Vodafone have said they will do so.

Orcon, Slingshot and Natcom have said that they won’t or, in the case of Orcon, that more data is needed as to how the filter will impact customer service.

ISPs also appear to take differing views of what – and when – to tell their customers. Maxnet appear not to have warned their customers officially that the filter is in place: Vodafone has said it will do so when it goes live.

The system employs the Swedish Netclean Whitebox content filter – website requests are filtered by Border Gateway Protocol against a blacklist held on a central server in the government Censorship Compliance Unit. The list is maintained by the Independent Reference Group which actively reviews banned URLs each month to eliminate false positives.

Bans must be justified and signed off by three “warranted inspectors of publications”. Government statistics, published in 2009, suggest that the blacklist includes more than 7,000 URLs featuring child sexual abuse – or over ten times the number of links recognised by the UK’s Internet Watch Foundation. It has been built by the censorship unit since 2005 and is affiliated with Europe’s Cospol Internet Related Child Abusive Material Project.

David Zanetti, technical spokesperson for Tech Liberty, said: “We fear that the filter will reduce the stability of the internet in New Zealand. It is a single point of failure, introduces a new and very tempting target for hackers, and by diverting traffic will cause issues with modern internet applications.”

Tech Liberty is also concerned by the expansion of government powers that thefilter represents. It entrenches the principle that the government can set up a new censorship scheme and block material with no reference to existing law. Worse, the filter list stays secret, in contrast to the censorship regime that operates in respect of other media, where the Chief Censor must publish decisions banning offensive material.

Cynics have also noted that the launch of the filter comes not long before the eighth round of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations, due to take place in Wellington, New Zealand in April. ®

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | 1 Comment