Toby C Jones on America’s Oil Wars and the military-energy complex in the Persian Gulf
Kani Xulam on Turkey’s “Dirty War” Against the Kurds
More about this week’s guests:
Toby C. Jonesis associate professor of history at Rutgers University, New Brunswick where he also directs the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the M.A. program in Global and Comparative History. He teaches courses on global environmental history, energy, and the modern Middle East. Jones has traveled and worked extensively in the Middle East, including in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. His more recent work examines the global history of oil, including the recent energy boom in the United States. During 2008-2009 he was a fellow at Princeton University’s Oil, Energy, and the Middle East project. From 2004 to early 2006 Jones worked as the Persian Gulf political analyst for the International Crisis Group.
Jones is the author of two books. The first, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia was published by Harvard University Press in 2010. The second, Running Dry: Essays on Energy, Water and Environmental Crisis, published by Rutgers University Press, appeared in 2015. He is currently working on a third book, America’s Long War, which is under contract at Harvard University Press. He has written for both scholarly and general audiences, including at the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of American History, Middle East Report, Raritan Quarterly Review, The Nation, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, the London Review of Books, the New York Times, and elsewhere. In 2015 Jones was recognized as a Rutgers Chancellor’s Scholar for distinguished scholarship.
Jones appears regularly on local and national media discussing political developments and challenges in the Middle East, including at NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now!, and others.
Kani Xulam is director of the American Kurdish Information Network and a native of Kurdistan.He studied International Relations at the University of Toronto, holds a BA in history from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in the International Service program at American University. At the University of Toronto, he represented Kurdistan at the Model United Nations, which passed a nonbinding resolution recognizing the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination.At the University of California Santa Barbara, he was part of a group of peace activists who protested the first Gulf War by taking part in a sit-in at Chancellor’s office in January 1991. Everyone was arrested. Mr. Xulam pled not guilty, defended himself, and was sentenced to 18 hours of community service to plant saplings in Santa Barbara. In 1993, at the urging of Kurdish community leaders in America, he left his family business in Santa Barbara, California to establish the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN) in the nation’s capital. AKIN is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering Kurdish-American understanding and friendship.
In 1997, he took part in a hunger strike on the steps of the Capitol urging members of Congress to use their good offices on behalf of their imprisoned Kurdish colleagues. 153 members signed a letter urging President Clinton to intervene on the matter. Mr. Xulam, on the advice of his physician, ended his fast on the 32nd day.
Kani Xulam recently wrote the piece “A Kurdish Girl’s Lonely Death,” for CounterPunch and is continuing a vigil outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. — now in its eleventh week — protesting Turkish attacks on Kurds.
On The Monitor this week – The Climate: What is at stake? Can humans survive? We will be exploring these questions with David Ray Griffin.
More about this week’s guest:
David Ray Griffin is Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology, Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University (1973-2004); Co-Director, Center for Process Studies. He edited the SUNY Series in Constructive Postmodern Thought (1987-2004), which published 31 volumes. He has written 28 books, edited 13 books, and authored 248 articles and chapters. His most recent book is Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis?
This book combines (1) the most extensive treatment of the causes and phenomena of climate change in combination with (2) an extensive treatment of social obstacles and challenges (fossil-fuel funded denialism, media failure,political failure, and moral, religious, and economic challenges), (3) the most extensive treatment of the needed transition from fossil-fuel energy to clean energy, and (4) the most extensive treatment of mobilization. It provides the most complete, most up-to-date treatment of the various kinds of clean energy, and how they could combine to provide 70% clean energy by 2035 and 100% before 2050 (both U.S. and worldwide).
“If you can read only one book on climate change, make it this one…clear and comprehensive…a masterful depiction of the severe dangers and our best available escape routes. If reading this book does not change your life, nothing will.” — Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur/Reporter
The Secret Lists that Swiped the Senate – an interview with Greg Palast
The Keystone XL Pipeline and the Race for What’s Left – an interview with Michael Klare
More about this week’s guests:
Greg Palast has been called the “most important investigative reporter of our time – up there with Woodward and Bernstein” (The Guardian). Palast has broken front-page stories for BBC Television Newsnight, The Guardian, Nation Magazine, Rolling Stone and Harper’s Magazine.
Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Armed Madhouse , The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.
His books have been translated into two dozen languages.
Palast is known for complex undercover investigations, spanning five continents, from the Arctic to the Amazon, from Caracas to California, using the skills he learned over two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud.
No question, Republicans trounced Democrats in the Midterm elections. But, if not for the boost of this voter-roll purge system used in 23 Republican-controlled states, the GOP could not have taken the US Senate.
It took the Palast investigations team six months to get our hands on the raw files, fighting against every official trick to keep them hidden.
Michael Klare is a writer, teacher, and public speaker who studies issues of war and peace, resource competition, and international affairs. As the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies, based at Hampshire College, he teaches courses on resource politics, contemporary conflict, and world affairs. Klare has written fourteen books and hundreds of essays on these and related topics; a strong believer in the need for public debate and discussion, he also appears regularly in the media and in public to express his views on critical issues. His most recent book is The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources
From Mother Jones: A controversial bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline failed in the US Senate Tuesday (11/18) evening. It received 59 “aye” votes, just shy of the 60 needed to send the bill to President Obama’s desk. The fight isn’t over yet; Republicans have said they plan to prioritize approving the pipeline once they take control of the Senate next year.
Repression and Politics in Egypt – An interview with StephenZunes
Why oil drilling in Ecuador is ‘ticking time bomb’ for planet – An interview with AntoniaJuhasz
More about this week’s guests:
Dr. Stephen Zunes is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he serves as coordinator of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Recognized as one the country’s leading scholars of U.S. Middle East policy and of strategic nonviolent action, Professor Zunes serves as a senior policy analyst for the Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, a contributing editor of Tikkun, and co-chair of the academic advisory committee for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
He is the author of scores of articles for scholarly and general readership on Middle Eastern politics, U.S. foreign policy, international terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, strategic nonviolent action, and human rights. He is the principal editor of Nonviolent Social Movements (Blackwell Publishers, 1999), the author of the highly-acclaimed Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003) and co-author (with Jacob Mundy) of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010.)
We talk about his three most recent articles on events in Egypt:
Antonia Juhasz, an energy and oil industry analyst, is the author of several books, including “Black Tide” and “The Tyranny of Oil.” Juhasz received a Levinson Family Foundation grant in 2013 to support ongoing work in investigative journalism in the oil and energy sectors. Juhasz was a 2012-2013 Investigative Journalism Fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. She investigated the role of oil and natural gas in the Afghanistan war. Juhasz recently completed work for The Nation magazine with funding provided by The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. Her work has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Harper’s Magazine, and The Atlantic’s website.
Her recent article Why oil drilling in Ecuador is ‘ticking time bomb’ for planet states: “Experts believe that in order to avoid the worst of a future climate change catastrophe, most of the planet’s fossil fuels must be left in the ground. Ecuador’s ambitious Yasuni-ITT Initiative, launched in 2007, was hailed as a landmark plan to keep oil exploration out of one of the most biologically diverse places left on earth and to preserve the homes of indigenous tribes living there. But Ecuador abandoned the plan last year, and drilling could now begin any time. In November I traveled to the Yasuni National Park in northeastern Ecuador, marveling at its beauty and the richness of the lives of those who live there. But the once global struggle to secure the Yasuni-ITT Initiative has now largely fallen on the shoulders of a few indigenous tribal communities who have pledged to fight, some to the death, to keep oil companies out of their communities and their oil in the ground.
“Will the world back them up? It is a question with significance far beyond Yasuni National Park. The age of ‘easy oil,’ if it ever existed, is over. What is left is in places like the Yasuni, previously deemed too sensitive, valuable, or risky to drill. The cost to both the planet and local people of pursuing such oil grows in tandem with the difficulty of extracting it. The Yasuni presents a critical opportunity to demonstrate that a different path is possible, though fortunately it is not the only place where the effort to leave our ‘oil in the soil’ has taken root.
“Across the U.S. and world, communities are voting to ban oil and natural gas development. These efforts come from a growing realization that we are all now ultimately on the front lines of the battle over what is to be done with the world’s remaining fossil fuels.”
The organized fight back against NSA surveillance starts in earnest. We talk with Michael Boldin is the executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center
Is the Keystone XL pipeline deal nearly here? What did the EPA know and when? We talk with David Turnbull, Campaigns Director of Oil Change International
More about this week’s guests:
Michael Boldin is the executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center. Michael has a full schedule working as senior editor of the Center’s website, writes a regular column, fields media interviews, and travels the country (when invited, of course) to speak to crowds about sticking to the Constitution – every issue, every time, no exceptions, no excuses.
While media and activists alike seemingly want to pigeonhole him into a political category, his viewpoints and positions defy the standard categories and political parties. As he often says in his speeches, “I’m no conservative, and I’m no liberal. I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. And I’m not a green or a libertarian, or a socialist or an anarchist. I’m not even an independent. All I am is me. And all I want is to live free.” Michael lives in the belly of the beast in Los Angeles, California.
Quote: “It has been more than three decades since Sen. Frank Church warned that the NSA could enable ‘total tyranny.’ After so many years of hoping that the NSA would limit itself, people across the political spectrum are energized by the idea that there is another option. By introducing and passing 4th Amendment Protection Acts in states around the country, we have an opportunity to box the NSA in and defend the Tenth Amendment whether Congress wants to or not.”
Background: A wide array of groups are organizing “The Day We Fight Back” against NSA surveillance on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Revelations of NSA spying continue, as the Guardianreports, the German press is reporting the “NSA tapped German ex-chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s phone … after opposition to military action in Iraq in 2002.” Groups from the left and right are joining together in many states to “Turn It Off” — offnow.org — urging local governments to cut off the electricity to NSA facilities.
The Los Angeles Timesreports in the article “Arizona legislator pushes bill to combat NSA surveillance” that: “So far, 12 states — from California to Mississippi — have introduced similar bills to make it more difficult for the agency to do surveillance in the United States, according to the Tenth Amendment Center, which provides model legislation to resist NSA surveillance.”
The Examinerreported last month in “NSA scandal: Washington State considers cutting off electricity, water for NSA” that: “According to officials at the Tenth Amendment Center, Washington became first state with a physical NSA location to consider the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, which was written and proposed specifically to make life extremely difficult for the powerful and super-secret spy agency.
“In a bipartisan move, State Rep. David Taylor (R-Moxee) and State Rep. Luis Moscoso (D- Mountlake Terrace) introduced HB2272 based on model language drafted by the OffNow coalition, it would make it the policy of Washington “to refuse material support, participation, or assistance to any federal agency which claims the power, or with any federal law, rule, regulation, or order which purports to authorize, the collection of electronic data or metadata of any person pursuant to any action not based on a warrant.”
David Turnbull is the Campaigns Director of Oil Change International, working on both domestic and international campaigns to end fossil fuel subsidies, and to slow the spread of dirty energy money and fossil fuel infrastructure from tar sands and fracking. Prior to his current position with Oil Change, David was Executive Director of Climate Action Network – International from 2008 to early 2012.
At CAN-International, he worked to coordinate the Network of 700 hundred NGOs in dozens of countries to develop and advocate for global solutions to the climate crisis. Earlier, David was Communications Director of the US Climate Action Network, where he coordinated joint communications efforts for US NGOs focused on climate change. Before joining CAN, David worked at the World Resources Institute as a Coordinator for a pair of international networks working to promote inclusive and accountable environmental governance. In a previous incarnation, David spent time on a mountaintop observing the “world’s worst weather” and conducting climate research at the Mount Washington Weather Observatory in New Hampshire. Follow him on Twitter:@david_turnbull
Oil Change International has put out a series of blog posts on the Keystone XL pipeline including “What did Big Oil know and when did they know it?” which states that “Gerard was apparently briefed by ‘sources within the administration‘ on the timing and content of the report. Before the environmental community. Before Congress. Before anyone else.” The group states that the oil industry has had this “corrupt process … rigged since the word go. Today, Oil Change International also posted a piece titled “KXL ‘Contractor Controversy’ About to ‘Get Heated,'” which states: “When the State Department’s long-awaited Final Environmental Impact Statement into the controversial Keystone XL pipeline was published last week, the report argued that KXL would not significantly add to global warming. It therefore supposedly passed the test that Obama outlined in a speech last summer when he said he would only approve the pipeline if it did not ‘significantly exacerbate’ the problem of climate change.
However, as Oil Change International pointed out last week, the report conceded that the emissions could be ‘1.3 to 27.4 MMTCO2e annually,’ which is equivalent to as many as 5.7 million new cars. And it does not take a climate scientist to tell you that 5.7 million new cars is clearly a significant increase in carbon emissions. But there is another deep flaw with the report that is yet to be resolved and could be KXL’s ultimate undoing. Its analysis was contracted out to ERM [Environmental Resources Management], a British contractor with links to the oil industry. When publishing its long list of documents last Friday, the State Department had to suffer the ignominy of also publishing a whole set concerning ERM’s apparent conflicts of interest.
As Bloomberg reported last Friday, the scrutiny about ERM ‘is about to get heated.’ The controversy kicked off in July last year, when environmental groups accused ERM of “lying” about its ties to TransCanada, the company building the pipeline.”
KPFT is in Pledge Drive and The Monitor has three shows during the drive. Our goal this week is $1200. Please help us get there by calling 713-526-5738 or going online at www.kpft.org during the show.
Since it is pledge drive, we have a specific thank you gift for your pledge of $120 – The Oil Road: Journeys from the Caspian Sea to the City of London by James Marriott and Mika Minio-Paluello.
We have just one guest this week – James Marriott is an artist, naturalist, activist and co-author of aforementioned The Oil Road and The Next Gulf: London, Washington and the Oil Conflict in Nigeria. He works for Platform, a London-based arts, human rights and environmental justice organization (www.platformlondon.org).
Some reviews for the book:
“★★★★★…The Oil Road opens the lid on the often-shady energy economy, weaving absorbing travel reportage into powerful investigative journalism…. If you want to know why oil matters, read this book.” – Time Out (book of the week)
“An elegantly written travel book…will make you think the next time you fill the tank.” – Financial Times
“Beautifully written as well as formidably well-informed…A pleasure to read” – Neal Ascherson, author of Black Sea
“As global powers scramble for the last of the world’s diminishing resources, comes this book – well researched and written with empathy, integrity and imagination. It is timely and much needed.” – Ahdaf Soueif, author of The Map of Love.
Please do call during the show and pick up a copy of this great book – 713-526-5738 !!!
Chevron found guilty of dumping toxic materials in the Amazon, gets access to activists’ private internet data – an interview with Simon Billenness
America’s Deadliest Export – an interview with William Blum
More about our guests:
Simon Billenness is the President of CSR Strategy Group, Co-Chair of the Business and Human Rights Group with Amnesty International, USA and on the Committee on Socially Responsible Investment with Unitarian Universalist Association. He consults to non-profits, corporations, trade unions, and social investment firms on strategy addressing issues of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and socially responsible investment.
Following their guilty sentence for the dumping of 18.5bn gallons of toxic waste in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Chevron is amassing the personal information of the environmentalists and attorneys who fought against them in an effort to prove ‘conspiracy.’ (Photo: Rainforest Action Network/ cc/ Flickr)The US government is not the only entity who, with judicial approval, is amassing massive amounts of personal information against their so-called enemies.
A federal judge has ruled to allow Chevron, through a subpoena to Microsoft, to collect the IP usage records and identity information for email accounts owned by over 100 environmental activists, journalists and attorneys.
The oil giant is demanding the records in an attempt to cull together a lawsuit which alleges that the company was the victim of a conspiracy in the $18.2 billion judgment against it for dumping 18.5 billion gallons of oil waste in the Ecuadorean Amazon, causing untold damage to the rainforest.
The “sweeping” subpoena was one of three issued to Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft.
“Environmental advocates have the right to speak anonymously and travel without their every move and association being exposed to Chevron,” said Marcia Hofmann, Senior Staff Attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who—along with environmental rights group EarthRights International (ERI)—had filed a motion last fall to “quash” the subpoenas.
“These sweeping subpoenas create a chilling effect among those who have spoken out against the oil giant’s activities in Ecuador,” she added at the time.
According to ERI, the subpoena demands the personal information about each account holder as well as the IP addresses associated with every login to each account over a nine-year period. “This could allow Chevron to determine the countries, states, cities or even buildings where the account-holders were checking their email,” they write, “so as to ‘infer the movements of the users over the relevant period and might permit Chevron to makes inferences about some of the user’s professional and personal relationships.'”
In their statement about the ruling, ERI notes that the argument given by presiding US District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan—who was previously accused of prejudice against the Ecuadorians and their lawyers—was as “breathtaking as the subpoena itself.” They continue:
According to Judge Kaplan, none of the account holders could benefit from First Amendment protections since the account holders had “not shown that they were U.S. citizens.”
Now, let’s break this down. The account-holders in this case were proceeding anonymously, which the First Amendment permits. Because of this, Judge Kaplan was provided with no information about the account holders’ residency or places of birth. It is somewhat amazing then, that Judge Kaplan assumed that the account holders were not US citizens. As far as I know, a judge has never before made this assumption when presented with a First Amendment claim. We have to ask then: on what basis did Judge Kaplan reach out and make this assumption?
William Blum left the State Department in 1967, abandoning his aspiration of becoming a Foreign Service Officer, because of his opposition to what the United States was doing in Vietnam.
He then became one of the founders and editors of the Washington Free Press, the first “alternative” newspaper in the capital.
(Photo by Lois Raimondo, The Washington Post)
Mr. Blum has been a freelance journalist in the United States, Europe and South America. His stay in Chile in 1972-3, writing about the Allende government’s “socialist experiment” and its tragic overthrow in a CIA-designed coup, instilled in him a personal involvement and an even more heightened interest in what his government was doing in various parts of the world.
In the mid-1970’s, he worked in London with former CIA officer Philip Agee and his associates on their project of exposing CIA personnel and their misdeeds.
In 1999, he was one of the recipients of Project Censored’s awards for “exemplary journalism” for writing one of the top ten censored stories of 1998, an article on how, in the 1980s, the United States gave Iraq the material to develop a chemical and biological warfare capability.
Beyond the Obama-Karzai Spin: Oil and Afghan War – an interview with Antonia Juhasz
Brennan and Hagel – One Claimed no Civilian Drone Killings and the other Voted for Iraq War – an interview with Ray McGovern
Antonia Juhasz is a fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism and was recently in Afghanistan. She wrote the just-published piece “The New War for Afghanistan’s Untapped Oil,” which states: “With the close of 2012, the Pentagon has revealed a disturbing trend in Afghanistan: Taliban attacks remained steady, or in some cases increased, over 2011 levels. I experienced the Taliban surge firsthand this past November, and can offer a cause not cited in the Pentagon’s report: oil and gas.”
Reuters reports: “President Barack Obama on Monday will announce the nominations of Republican Chuck Hagel as his next defense secretary and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan as the new CIA director, a senior administration official said.” Ray McGovern
Ray McGovern is a veteran CIA analyst. He has scrutinized Brennan’s backing of torture and drone killings. See his interview “Obama’s and Brennan’s ‘Kill List'” and his letter on Brennan, in which he notes: “Nov. 24, 2008 saw the publication of a letter to President-Elect Obama, signed by 200 psychologists, urging him not to select John Brennan to head the CIA because of his open support of ‘dark-side’ policies (Brennan’s, as well as Dick Cheney’s, adjective). Brennan withdrew his name the next day, and The New York Times explained the move as a reaction to ‘concerns he was intimately linked to controversial CIA programs authorized by President Bush. Brennan is now the administration’s strongest advocate of extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens by drones. As for civilian deaths from CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Brennan made the preposterous claim [in June 2011] that, over the previous year, ‘there hasn’t been a single collateral death’ from CIA drone strikes there.” McGovern is scheduled to speak at a protest at 1:00 p.m. outside the White House, as Obama is scheduled to make the nomination.
McGovern also recently wrote “Obama Needs Hagel in the Pentagon.” McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C. During his career as a CIA analyst, he prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief and chaired National Intelligence Estimates.
This week’s show features another interview that still holds my interest. Since guests are hard to get hold of on New Year’s Eve and I will be running the show solo this week and thought it would be a good time to replay an interview I did with Pepe Escobar from August of this year.
You can read his most recent Asia Times articles here
Here is the post that accompanied that show at the time. I have made no changes:
Syria is on fire but there has been little by way of explanation as to why this is happening now and what else may be part of the picture. Our guest for the whole hour is Pepe Escobar.
It is a New Year, maybe our last (I’m joking, obviously), and around this time of year gym memberships explode (perhaps in an effort to make up for the exploding waistlines of Thanksgiving and Christmas) and people try out new diets or go back to old diets. This week we talk with Gary Taubes about Why We Get Fat (and what to do about it).
Born in Rochester, New York, Taubes studied applied physics at Harvard University and aerospace engineering at Stanford University (MS, 1978). After receiving a master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University in 1981,
Taubes joined Discover magazine as a staff reporter in 1982. Since then he has written numerous articles for Discover, Science and other magazines. Originally focusing on physics issues, his interests have more recently turned to medicine and nutrition.
Taubes’s books have all dealt with scientific controversies. Nobel Dreams takes a critical look at the politics and experimental techniques behind the Nobel Prize-winning work of physicist Carlo Rubbia. Bad Science is a chronicle of the short-lived media frenzy surrounding the Pons-Fleischmann cold fusion experiments of 1989.
Michael Klare is a Five Colleges professor of Peace and World Security Studies, whose department is located at Hampshire College, defense correspondent of The Nation magazine, and author of Resource Wars and Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Petroleum Dependency (Metropolitan). Klare also teaches at Amherst College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.