Friday, August 31, 2012
The IEM will discuss technical developments and research programmes in site evaluation and nuclear plant safety, particularly as they relate to extreme natural hazards such as earthquake and tsunamis.
The IEM will provide an opportunity to share lessons learned from recent extreme natural events, including the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 11 March 2011. This earthquake and associated tsunami affected the Fukushima Daiichi, Fukushima Daini, Tokai and Onagawa NPPs in Japan and triggered the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
This was the first NPP accident to arise from the combined hazards of ground motion and flooding. It highlighted the importance of preparing not only for a single external hazard, but also the combined effect of multiple external hazards, in the safety assessment of NPPs, and the measures for defence in depth. More
I must admit I find it strange that it has taken this long to convene this meeting. I raised the issue at a panel discussion last March at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington. Granted the official Japanese report was only released eight weeks ago but.... Editor
Thursday, August 30, 2012
With water scarcity increasing in many parts of the world, governments must find ways to maximize the use of water for multiple, often competing uses: growing populations requiring food security; rapid urbanization increasing domestic and industrial demand; the ever-increasing need for clean electricity; tourism and recreation; and environmental management, the report says.
"Within a nation, any two of these multiple interests can be at odds," said World Bank Vice President for Middle East and North Africa Inger Andersen.
"Add international boundaries and the complexity grows substantially. The key challenge - and opportunity - for riparian nations is to manage perceptions of risk, and benefit from lessons of experience where cooperation has worked demonstrably, benefiting countries and supporting their efforts to reduce poverty and protect the environment."
The new World Bank report, Reaching Across the Waters: Facing the Risks of Cooperation in International Waters reviews the experience of cooperation in five international river basins (Eastern Nile, Ganges, Niger, Syr Darya, and Zambezi), focusing on the perceptions of risks and opportunities by decision makers as they consider prospects for cooperation on international waters.
Today, 40% of the world's population lives in international basins which account for 80% of global river flow. Despite this and the proven benefits of cooperation, such as reduced chances of conflict, improved river sustainability, and access to external markets, 166 of the world's 276 international basins have no treaty provisions covering them.
Moreover, many multilateral basins are subject to bilateral treaties that preclude participation by other riparian countries. More
The report Reaching Across the Waters: Facing the Risks of Cooperation in International Waters can be downloaded here
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
100 million tons or 30 percent of the expected harvest.
In some parts of the Midwest, homeowners are turning on their taps and getting nothing but air as the water tables have so precipitously dropped. More intense droughts and heat waves are likely as the Earth’s temperature rises.
With regard to agricultural water use, Lester Brown has long been talking about the need for a major push to raise the level of water productivity. Two decades ago, he said that a shortage of water was the most underreported threat to civilization.
Here is some of what he writes on the subject (from Chapter 2 of World on the Edge)
The global water deficit is a product of the tripling of water demand over the last half-century coupled with the worldwide spread of powerful diesel and electrically driven pumps. Only since the advent of these pumps have farmers had the pumping capacity to pull water out of aquifers faster than it is replaced by precipitation.
As the world demand for food has soared, millions of farmers have drilled irrigation wells to expand their harvests. In the absence of government controls, far too many wells have been drilled. As a result, water tables are falling and wells are going dry in some 20 countries, including China, India, and the United States—the three countries that together produce half the world’s grain.
The overpumping of aquifers for irrigation temporarily inflates food production, creating a food production bubble, one that bursts when the aquifer is depleted. Since 40 percent of the world grain harvest comes from irrigated land, the potential shrinkage of the supply of irrigation water is of great concern. Among the big three grain producers, roughly a fifth of the U.S. grain harvest comes from irrigated land. For India, the figure is three fifths and for China, roughly four fifths. … More
Monday, August 27, 2012
This year's fickle monsoon has played havoc with millions of Indian farmers. The showers, which normally run from June to September, are crucial in a country where 60 percent of the population works in agriculture and less than half the farmland is irrigated.
"Here farming is entirely on God's mercy. If nature doesn't bless us, the farmer can't do anything," Narwal says.
Meanwhile, farmers lament the lack of government investment in irrigation and other infrastructure that could protect farmers from the vagaries of the monsoon.
India's Meteorological Department has said it expects the country to get at least 10 percent less rain this year than during a normal monsoon, but large parts of the country have been hit much harder.
In the northwestern state of Haryana, where Narwal's family has farmed for generations, rainfall is less than half what it should have been. And when the rains finally did come, the crops were already nearly dead, fit only to be used as animal feed.
Shriveled old men share a water pipe and one of them points to the skies and shouts "What now, brother?" as they watch men and women carry damaged sugar cane to feed to their cattle. At the edge of fields, young men stand, hands on hips, shaking their heads in dismay. The village is 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of New Delhi.
By now the sugar cane crop should have been at least eight feet tall (2.4 meters tall). Rice paddy crops would have been lush and emerald green. Small patches of pearl millet, corn and sorghum would have dotted the landscape.
But the sun shone on with determination through all of July and most of August so that the cane is now only knee-high at best and most of the rice crop is burnt.
The lack of monsoon rains has also been partly to blame for the worst blackout in world history, which cut power to half of India last month. Large-scale farmers were using extra power to pump water from deep aquifers, and little electricity was being generated by hydropower projects. More
In a Q&A, Senior Associate Sarah Chayes, who lived for most of the past decade in Afghanistan and served as an adviser to senior U.S. military leadership, takes up these issues and their implications. She argues for a sober look at the time bombs U.S. policy may be planting in Afghanistan, and for rigorous planning to mitigate the potential damage. She also assesses candidates to replace General John Allen as commander of international troops.
One reason cited by officials and the media for the no-confidence vote is that the lawmakers had grown exasperated by the security forces' inability to stem or respond to artillery fire that has been pummeling Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan. It's certainly true that people are frustrated by the shelling, but whether that is the reason or the excuse for the vote is less clear. Short of a declaration of war on Pakistan, an eminently political decision that would require at least some international coordination, it's not clear what the army could do.
A second reason cited for the ousters is that Karzai wants to demonstrate that he is at last taking action against corruption in his government, and the record of police and military personnel is particularly poor. However, having worked for two commanders of international military forces as well as for the Joint Staff on anti-corruption policy in Afghanistan, I have not observed Karzai, since 2003, make a good-faith move to address the institutionalized graft that plagues his country. Rather, he has obstructed anti-corruption efforts, directing ministers to shut down investigations, ordering detained suspects set free, and reportedly helping arrange the 2010 escape from Afghanistan of a former minister of religious affairs indicted on charges of corruption. It seems unlikely that high-mindedness is motivating the president now. More
The qanat system consists of underground channels that convey water from aquifers in highlands to the surface at lower levels by gravity. The qanat works of Iran were built on a scale that rivaled the great aqueducts of the Roman Empire. Whereas the Roman aqueducts now are only a historical curiosity, the Iranian system is still in use after 3,000 years and has continually been expanded. There are some 22,000 qanat units in Iran, comprising more than 170,000 miles of underground channels. The system supplies 75 percent of all the water used in that country, providing water not only for irrigation but also for house-hold consumption. Until recently (before the building of the Karaj Dam) the million inhabitants of the city of Tehran depended on a qanat system tapping the foothills of the Elburz Mountains for their entire water supply.
Discoveries of underground conduits in a number of ancient Roman sites led some modern archaeologists to suppose the Romans had invented the qanat system. Written records and recent excavations leave no doubt, however, that ancient Iran (Persia) was its actual birthplace. As early as the seventh century B.C. the Assyrian king Sargon II reported that during a campaign in Persia he had found an underground system for tapping water in operation near Lake Urmia. His son, King Sennacherib, applied the “secret” of using underground conduits in building an irrigation system around Nineveh, and he constructed a qanat on the Persian model to supply water for the city of Arbela. Egyptian inscriptions disclose that the Persians donated the idea to Egypt after Darius I conquered that country in 518 B.C. Scylax, a captain in Darius’ navy, built a qanat that brought water to the oasis of Karg, apparently from the underground water table of the Nile River 100 miles away. Remnants of the qanat are still in operation. This contribution may well have been partly responsible for the Egyptians’ friendliness to their conqueror and their bestowal of the title of Pharaoh on Darius.
Some 3,000 years ago the Persians learned how to dig underground aqueducts that would bring mountain ground water to the plains. Today (NB: = 1968!) the system provides 75 percent of the water used in Iran.
References to qanat systems, known by various names, are fairly common in the literature of ancient and medieval times. The Greek historian Polybius in the second century B.C. described a qanat that had been built in an Iranian desert “during the Persian ascendancy.” It had been constructed underground, he remarked, “at infinite toil and expense … through a large tract of country” and brought water to the desert from sources that were mysterious to “the people who use the water now.” More
Sunday, August 26, 2012
"These threats are real and they do raise serious national security concerns," Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said after the report's release.
Internationally, 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water, according to the United Nations. By 2030, 47 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Environmental Outlook to 2030 report.
Some analysts worry that wars of the future will be fought over blue gold, as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources.
Governments and military planners around the world are aware of the impending problem; with the US senate issuing reports with names like Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia’s growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
With rapid population growth, and increased industrial demand, water withdrawls have tripled over the last 50 years, according to UN figures.
"Water scarcity is an issue exacerbated by demographic pressures, climate change and pollution," said Ignacio Saiz, director of Centre for Economic and Social Rights, a social justice group. "The world's water supplies should guarantee every member of the population to cover their personal and domestic needs."
"Fundamentally, these are issues of poverty and inequality, man-made problems," he told Al Jazeera.
Of all the water on earth, 97 per cent is salt water and the remaining three per cent is fresh, with less than one per cent of the planet's drinkable water readily accessible for direct human uses. Scarcity is defined as each person in an area having access to less than 1,000 cubic meters of water a year.
The areas where water scarcity is the biggest problem are some of the same places where political conflicts are rife, leading to potentially explosive situations.
Some experts believe the only documented case of a "water war" happened about 4,500 years ago, when the city-states of Lagash and Umma went to war in the Tigris-Euphrates basin.
But Adel Darwish, a journalist and co-author of Water Wars: Coming Conflicts in the Middle East, says modern history has already seen at least two water wars.
"I have [former Israeli prime minister] Ariel Sharon speaking on record saying the reason for going to war [against Arab armies] in 1967 was for water," Darwish told Al Jazeera.
Some analysts believe Israel continues to occupy the Golan heights, seized from Syria in 1967, due to issues of water control, while others think the occupation is about maintaining high ground in case of future conflicts.
Senegal and Mauritania also fought a war starting in 1989 over grazing rights on the River Senegal. And Syria and Iraq have fought minor skirmishes over the Euphrates River.
Middle East hit hard
UN studies project that 30 nations will be water scarce in 2025, up from 20 in 1990. Eighteen of them are in the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Israel, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.
Darwish bets that a battle between south and north Yemen will probably be the scene of the next water conflict, with other countries in the region following suit if the situation is not improved.
"Water too often is treated as a commodity, as an instrument with which one population group can suppress another" -Ignacio Saiz, Centre for Economic and Social Rights
Water shortages could cost the unstable country 750,000 jobs, slashing incomes in the poorest Arab country by as much as 25 per cent over the next decade, according to a report from the consulting firm McKinsey and Company produced for the Yemeni government in 2010. More
Thursday, August 23, 2012
failure, and the drums of war are once again beating in Jerusalem. So it’s no surprise we’re closing out the summer–and for good reason–by revisiting all the potential downsides of an Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear installations.
Until now, one little item on that list has gotten scarce attention outside the classified world: the messy diplomatic situation Israel would encounter if any IAEA personnel were to be casualties of an air strike on Iran. (It must also be said that the same dilemma would confront the U.S. should, as this account suggested last week, Washington in the more distant future would react to a serious Iranian escalation by taking matters into its own hands).
Might IAEA personnel potentially be at risk in Iran should Israel or the U.S. bomb Iran’s nuclear sites?
According to the current situation on the ground in Iran and what the fine print of the IAEA’s inspection protocols permits the agency to do in the field, without the IAEA having advance guidance or knowledge of whether a military incursion will take place at any specific time, the answer is, in theory, yes. More
I’m talking about the depletion of groundwater, the stores of H2O contained in geologic formations called aquifers, which billions of people depend upon to supply their drinking water and grow their food.
For a long time, we had only a vague sense of the scale of this depletion, mostly through anecdotal evidence and selected country studies. While researching my 1999 book Pillar of Sand, I gathered the best data I could find at the time, and with all the necessary caveats, estimated that about 8-10 percent of the world’s food supply depended upon the draining of underground aquifers.
About a decade later, modeling work by Marc Bierkens of Utrecht University in the Netherlands and his colleagues arrived at a global depletion estimate that produced a similar figure: their estimated 283 billion cubic meters of groundwater depleted in 2000 is sufficient to produce 188.6 million tons of grain, equal to 10 percent of that year’s global grain production. While not all groundwater pumped from the earth is used to produce grain, the vast majority of it is.
In recent years a number of other studies, along with NASA’s GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) mission, have corroborated the dangerous trend. From the Arabian deserts to the North China Plain, and from the breadbasket of India to the fruit and vegetable bowl of the United States, we are increasingly dependent on the unsustainable use of groundwater.
In effect, we’re robbing the Peters of the future to feed the Pauls of today.
Now a new study, led by Tom Gleeson of McGill University in Montreal and published last week in the journal Nature, provides perhaps the most compelling and informative assessment to date of what’s happening with groundwater globally.
Gleeson and his team build upon the concept of our “ecological footprint,” which expresses humanity’s consumption as the area of biomass needed to support that consumption sustainably. Today, according to the Global Footprint Network, humanity uses the equivalent of 1.5 planet Earths. In other words, we’ve overshot sustainable levels by half an Earth.
In a creative adaptation, Gleeson’s team applied a similar approach to assessing humanity’s groundwater footprint. They estimate that the size of the global groundwater footprint – defined as the area required to sustain groundwater use and groundwater-dependent ecosystem services — is about 3.5 times the actual area of aquifers tapped for water supplies. More
More than ten years later, however, the international community’s sense of urgency seems to have waned, and the evolution of the nuclear postures and arsenals of both New Delhi and Islamabad no longer appear to evoke the same degree of concern, or even interest.
Symptomatic of this ebbing attention is the detached, disinvested manner in which much of the world has witnessed the ongoing shift of South Asian nuclear capabilities from land to sea.
When in July 2009 India launched its first nuclear submarine, S-2 (also known as the Advanced Technology Vessel, or ATV, and ultimately named Arihant), in a dry dock in the eastern port of Visakhapatnam, the reaction of much of the world to the event was remarkably subdued. The event was perfunctorily acknowledged abroad, and in India as well, as a technological and symbolic milestone in the nation’s rise to great-power status. Barring Pakistan, which reacted immediately and sharply to the news, scant commentary—scholarly or journalistic—was made about the impact that the introduction of sea-based delivery systems would have on the South Asian nuclear equation.
This article seeks to address this issue directly, asserting that it is only a matter of time before Pakistan formally brings nuclear weapons into its own fleet. The study first examines the key causes and motivations behind both nations’ lurches toward naval nuclearization. For both nations, a variety of factors explain the pursuit of sea-based deterrence. In particular, China’s nuclear role in the Indian Ocean is examined, both as a key enabler of Pakistani naval nuclearization and as a potential future military actor in the Arabian Sea. The second section charts the dangerous path that Indian and Pakistani navies appear to be taking, a path that combines dual-use systems (most notably nuclear-tipped cruise missiles), cultivated doctrinal ambiguity, and brinkmanship to render the future of nuclear stability in South Asia exceptionally bleak. It is argued that if this haphazard naval nuclearization remains unchecked, its destabilizing effect will spill over into the Persian Gulf and beyond. Without a concerted effort to integrate sea-based nuclear assets more effectively into both nations’ strategic thinking and into a bilateral dialogue, New Delhi and Islamabad may be unable to avoid escalation in a crisis and, ultimately, skirt nuclear disaster. More
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
China is at the cusp of its “SALT moment” with the United States. Moscow and Washington were at a similar juncture in 1969, when the strategic arms limitation talks got underway. President Richard Nixon and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev decided to try to stabilize a competition in which both superpowers were poised to multiply their strategic offensive forces. The United States was on the verge of deploying national ballistic-missile defenses as well.
The odds of success were limited, since neither country had a history of substantive engagement on these issues or of coordinating government positions for complex negotiations of this kind. When the talks began, SALT critics accused U.S. diplomats of negotiating against the Pentagon and with the Kremlin, while military members of the Soviet delegation warned U.S. officials against revealing “secrets” to Russian diplomats. More
Monday, August 20, 2012
There’s been much discussion lately about the “water kit,” a mysterious contraption that a purported Pakistani engineer insists will enable cars to use water as fuel.
Yet missing from this debate is a basic but critical fact: Pakistan is dangerously water-deficient. Per capita availability hovers just above the scarcity threshold of 1,000 cubic meters. In several decades, availability could plummet to 550 cubic meters.
So even if this bizarre water car somehow defied the laws of physics and managed to work, it would be unsustainable — unless it used the Arabian Sea as a giant filling station, or guzzled bottled water.
It’s not surprising that few have mentioned this water dilemma. Water resource issues —and other human security topics like food security, public health, and education — are repeatedly drowned out of Pakistani public debate by the incessant din surrounding militancy, political drama, and the US-Pakistan relationship.
This is unfortunate, because human security issues affect so many more Pakistanis than do extremism, political infighting, or US policies.
By no means am I minimising or trivialising the 35,000 Pakistanis killed in terror – and counter-terror related violence, the scores of tribal residents traumatised by drone strikes, or the many Karachiites harmed by their city’s unrest.
However, this doesn’t compare to the 40 to 55 million Pakistanis without access to safe drinking water. Or to the nearly 60 per cent — that’s almost two-thirds of the total population — designated as food insecure (“Pakistan will lose an entire generation to malnutrition,”warns a UNICEF officer). Or to themore than 40 million of Pakistan’s 70 million school-age children (ages 5 to 19) not in school.
This frequently brings deadly consequences. Yet how often, other than at the occasional conference or report release, is anything heard about the 1.2 million Pakistani lives lost to waterborne disease each year — and those of the 630 children lost each day? Or about the malnutrition responsible for about half of Pakistan’s child deaths? Or about the 46 of every 1,000 babies born dead — the world’s highest stillbirth rate? More
Sunday, August 19, 2012
The odds now are that the crumbling IWT will be a cause for further tension and conflict between India and Pakistan. It is also true that with far-sighted political leadership, especially in India but also in Pakistan, a bridge could be built over these troubled waters and the Indus could, again, become a catalyst for cooperation.
t has been one of the great privileges of my life to work for almost 40 years on the challenges of water management in the south Asian subcontinent. Starting with a Harvard University/Government of India collaborative programme on planning of the Ganga and Narmada rivers in the early 1970s. I lived in Bangladesh (in the 1970s) and Delhi (from 2002 to 2005 when I was senior water advisor at the World Bank). In 2006 I published, with Indian colleagues a book titled India’s Water Economy: Facing a Turbulent Future and with Pakistani col- leagues, one titled Pakistan’s Water Economy: Running Dry.
Writing on a subject as fraught with mis- trust as the Indus requires a level of “personal declaration” that is not necessary in most other contexts. So whose views do I represent? America? No, I am not American but South African. The World Bank? No, but this requires a bit more explanation. I worked for 20 years for the World Bank, the last 10 as Senior Water Advisor and then as the country director for Brazil until the end of 2008 when I accepted a faculty position at Harvard University.
Institutions like the World Bank necessarily have to craft institutional positions on complex issues. Healthy institutions ensure that there is space for the expression of a wide variety of views in coming to decisions. As is described in detail in Chapter 13 of Sebastian Mallaby’s (2005) landmark history of the World Bank, my views were frequently different from the views of management of the Bank. Furthermore, I have not been involved in any internal discussion in the World Bank on Indian and Pakistan water issues since 2005. The interpretations in this article do not depend on any confidential information but are based entirely on my own reading of documents and reports that are in the public domain. So this paper represents the personal views of a mere university professor, who speaks in the name of no one else or no other institution. Over these 40 years I have acquired a deep affection for the people of both India and Pakistan, and am dismayed by what I see as a looming trainwreck on the Indus, with potentially disastrous consequences for both countries. Whereas once the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) could correctly be described as a beacon of light in an other- wise gloomy relationship, the situation has changed: because of the growing invest- ment in hydropower in Indian-held Kashmir; because of the declining water availability in Pakistan; because the Baglihar verdict of the Neutral Expert has gutted the IWT of its essential balance, because the World Bank has withdrawn from its once-heroic en- gagement with the Indus and because of the appropriation of the water dialogue by extremists on both sides. The purpose of this article is to delve into some of these questions, and to suggest how to find a way out before it is too late.
The Indus Waters Treaty
In the 19th century, the British constructed most of what is today the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system in the Indus Basin. However, the boundaries between the two states drawn in 1947 paid no attention to hydrology. Eighty per cent of the irrigated area was in Pakistan, but after Partition a large portion of the headwaters for the rivers which serviced most of this immense area were in Indian-held Kashmir.
Seeing that India and Pakistan were un- able to resolve this issue, the World Bank offered its help. After 10 years of intense negotiation, in 1960 the IWT was signed by then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Pakistani President Ayub Khan and the World Bank.
There are four essential elements to the treaty. The first relates to the division of the waters. The waters of the three western rivers (the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab) were allocated to Pakistan, and the waters of the three eastern rivers (the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej) were allocated to India. More
He further described the US drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas as “total violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan by the United States.”
The comments came while according to reports US assassination drone strikes have left at least 21 people dead in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region near border with Afghanistan during the past 48 hours.
Despite Pakistani government’s repeated calls on Washington to end the drone attacks, the US government continues its strikes on the tribal regions of the country.
Washington claims its drone strikes target militants, although casualty figures clearly indicate that Pakistani civilians are the main victims of the assaults.
The UN has also slammed the American terror drone attacks as targeted killing and says they pose a challenge to international law.
Referring to the UN condemnation of the strikes, the analyst added that “it seems that the United States has absolutely no respect for the United Nations and its charter and its membership or international law.”
He further called on the American people to take action against Washington’s warmongering policies in order to change the government which is committed to “aggression” and “ jingoistic patriotism.” More
Friday, August 17, 2012
|Gen. Sedky Sobhi|
General Sobhi’s sharp rebuke of American policy is especially striking because he now oversees the military institution that has been the closest United States ally in the Arab world, relied on by American officials as a critical bulwark in support of Israeli security and against Iranian influence. Despite decades of military collaboration, he urged a full pullout of American forces from the region.
Scholars say his paper is even more significant in part because many of its themes reflect opinions widely held by Egyptians, their new president and people throughout the region — an increasingly potent factor in regional foreign policy, as Egypt and other countries struggle toward democracy.
American officials said their confidence in Egypt was unshaken, while analysts argued that despite the changes in the nation’s military and civilian leadership, any realignment in relations with Washington could be slow — in part because of Egypt’s urgent need for assistance from the United States and the West.
“For sure there are going to be big changes in Egypt’s relationship with Washington,” said Shibley Telhami, a political scientist at the University of Maryland and a scholar at the Brookings Institution who has studied Arab and Egyptian public opinion.
In surveys across the Arab world for more than a decade, he said, about 70 percent of the public has named the United States as the second-greatest threat to regional security, after Israel — even in Egypt, where Washington provides $1.3 billion in annual military aid, and in Saudi Arabia, another close American ally.
As General Sobhi argued, Professor Telhami said, “there were always two central issues driving Arab and Egyptian anger with the U.S., the Palestinian question — the prism of pain through which Arabs see the West — and the U.S. military presence.”
General Sobhi’s paper, first reported by an independent journalist in Cairo, Issandr El Amrani, offers a rare look into the foreign policy thinking of a military institution often considered all but impenetrable to outsiders.
For decades under President Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian military, and the nation’s foreign policy, had been closely allied with the United States and its regional interests. There was concern in Washington after Mr. Mubarak’s ouster that the relationship might not survive — an anxiety that was revived when Mr. Morsi was elected president.
But Washington knew that the longtime defense minister, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, and his chief of staff, Sami Hafez Anan, still wielded considerable power and were reliable allies.
Then, after an embarrassing terrorist attack in northern Sinai this month, Mr. Morsi appeared to consolidate his power by announcing their replacement, while keeping them on as presidential advisers. The shake-up raised for the first time the possibility that Mr. Morsi might begin to exert some real sway over Egyptian foreign policy, and General Sobhi’s paper suggested that at least some of the younger cadre of generals might share an interest in more independence from Washington. More
Setting aside for the moment an analysis of India’s possible use of a missile defense system, it is necessary to note that the initial stage of the author’s fictitious conflict repeats the course of many Pakistani-Indian conflicts. Among the most serious of these were the crises of 2001-2002 and 2008, which were characterized by a common development: an act of terrorism in India, followed by a reciprocal show of strength and a growth of mutual tensions in India and Pakistan. Further escalation has so far been avoided, in no small measure thanks to active steps taken by other states.
Shamoon is capable of wiping files and rendering several computers on a network unusable.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia’s national oil company said an attack had led to its own network being taken offline.
Although Saudi Aramco did not link the issue to the Shamoon threat, it did confirm that the company had suffered a “sudden disruption”.
In a statement, the company said it had now isolated its computer networks as a precautionary measure.
The disruptions were “suspected to be the result of a virus that had infected personal workstations without affecting the primary components of the network”, a statement read.
It said the attack had had “no impact whatsoever” on production operations.
On Thursday, security firms released the first detailed information about Shamoon.
Experts said the threat was known to have had hit “at least one organisation” in the energy sector.
“It is a destructive malware that corrupts files on a compromised computer and overwrites the MBR (Master Boot Record) in an effort to render a computer unusable,” wrote security firm Symantec.
The attack was designed to penetrate a computer through the internet, before targeting other machines on the same network that were not directly connected to the internet.
Once infected, the machines’ data is wiped. A list of the wiped files then sent back to the initially infected computer, and in turn passed on to the attacker’s command-and-control centre.
During this process, the attack replaces the deleted files with JPEG images - obstructing any potential file recovery by the victim. More
The sharply revised picture of drone casualties conveyed by the two new primary sources is further bolstered by the recent revelation that the Obama administration adopted a new practice in 2009 of automatically considering any military-age male killed in a drone strike as a “militant” unless intelligence proves otherwise.
The detailed data from the two unrelated sources covering a total 24 drone strikes from 2008 through 2011 show that civilian casualties accounted for 74 percent of the death toll, whereas the NAF tally for the same 24 strikes showed civilian casualties accounted for only 30 percent of the total.
|Drone launches from the frigate USS Thach|
Although relatives of drone strike victims could have a personal interest in declaring the innocence of their relatives, the details provided by relatives in legal affidavits, such as the age, employment and other characteristics of the victims, appear in almost every case to support their claims that those killed were not actively involved with al-Qaeda or other military organizations.
The data on 13 drone strikes targeting rescuers and mourners from 2009 through 2011 were gathered by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) in a three-month investigation in late 2010 and early 2011 involving interviews with eyewitnesses and others with direct knowledge of the strikes. More
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Combining data from around the world, the research team has been able to measure the amount of water available and the water usage. The result which Tom Gleeson from McGill called ‘sobering’ indicate global overexploitation of groundwater in a number of regions across Asia and North America. The study suggests that around 1.7 billion people – mostly in Asia – are living in areas where underground water reserves are under threat. That means that we humans as well as the vast ecosystems that water supports, are blindly walking into crisis.
The areas that the research showed were under most stress include Saudi Arabia, Iran, northern India and parts of northern China. In the US, the areas included western Mexico, the High Plains and California’s Central Valley. The overexploitation of groundwater supplies in countries such as China, the US and India is linked to their global scale production of food.
“The relatively few aquifers that are being heavily exploited are unfortunately critical to agriculture in a number of different countries,” Tom Gleeson told Reuters. “So even though the number is relatively small, these are critical resources that need better management.”
The study found that Saudi Arabia had substantially depleted its own aquifers (as has Iran), which is why the country is buying up land in Africa to help ensure food security. However, it is not all bad news. According to the data gathered, groundwater depletion isn’t a worldwide problem and 80 percent of aquifers around the world aren’t being depleted. For example, some of the largest reserves of groundwater are under North African countries like Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan and these haven’t been over-exploited yet.
The biggest scheme to get to this water was Libya’s $25 billion Great Manmade River project, built by the dictator Muammar Gaddafi to supply cities including Tripoli, Benghazi and Sirte with an estimated 6.5 million cubic meters of water a day. The problem is that once this water is taken out of these aquifers, it is not replenished and so the need to control our consumption of water is still a pressing issue.
Authors of the study suggest that limits on water extraction, more efficient irrigation and the promotion of diets with less meat (or no meat at all) could make water resources more sustainable. More