Drought devastates Iraq’s wheat crops

Power outages disrupt irrigation

BAGHDAD – It’s been a year of drought and sand storms across Iraq – a dry spell that has devastated the country’s crucial wheat crop and created new worries about the safety of drinking water.

U.S. officials warn that Iraq will need to increase wheat imports sharply this winter to make up for the lost crop – a sobering proposition with world food prices high and some internal refugees already struggling to afford basics.

“Planting … is totally destroyed,” said Daham Mohammed Salim, 40, who farms 120 acres in the al-Jazeera area near Tikrit, 130 kilometres north of Baghdad. “Even the ground water in wells is lower than before.”

The Tikrit area, where Saddam Hussein was born, normally is flush with green meadows in the spring and early summer – but this year has only thistles, said 30-year-old farmer Ziyad Sano. He’s resorted to collecting bread scraps from homes to feed his 70 sheep, but 20 have died.

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The dry weather has hurt areas from Kurdistan’s wheat fields in northern Iraq to pomegranate orchards, orange groves and wheat fields just north of Baghdad.

Read moreDrought devastates Iraq’s wheat crops

DROUGHT-STRICKEN CYPRUS GETS WATER FROM GREECE

NICOSIA, Cyprus – A Greek tanker carrying about 1.76 million cubic feet of water arrived in the Cypriot port of Limassol on Monday to help the drought-stricken island replenish its dwindling water reserves.

The tanker is the first in a fleet of ships chartered by the Cypriot government at a cost of $65 million to provide water to towns now experiencing emergency rationing.

With the Mediterranean island’s 17 main reservoirs now at critical levels – just seven percent full – Cypriots have endured meager water rations since March.

The main water pipelines have been turned on for only a few nights each week. And some residents, particularly those living in high-rise apartment blocks, have complained of not getting any water at all because pressure has been insufficient to push the water to rooftop storage tanks.

Cypriots have been forbidden to wash their cars or water their gardens. Underground water pumped from boreholes has also become scarce.

Read moreDROUGHT-STRICKEN CYPRUS GETS WATER FROM GREECE

The Coming Catastrophe?

Global Research Editor’s note

We bring to the attention of our readers David DeBatto’s scenario as to what might occur if one of the several contingency plans to attack Iran, with the participation of Israel and NATO, were to be carried out. While one may disagree with certain elements of detail of the author’s text, the thrust of this analysis must be taken seriously.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

By David DeBatto

David DeBatto is a former U.S. Army Counterintelligence Special Agent, Iraqi war veteran and co-author the “CI” series from Warner Books and the upcoming “Counter to Intelligence” from Praeger Security International.

The finishing touches on several contingency plans for attacking Iran

“Israel has said a strike on Iran will be “unavoidable” if the Islamic regime continues to press ahead with alleged plans for building an atom-bomb.” (London Daily Telegraph, 6/11/2008)

“Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany joined President Bush on Wednesday in calling for further sanctions against Iran if it does not suspend its uranium enrichment program.” Mr. Bush stressed again that “all options are on the table,” which would include military force. (New York Times, 6/11/2008)

We are fast approaching the final six months of the Bush administration. The quagmire in Iraq is in its sixth painful year with no real end in sight and the forgotten war in Afghanistan is well into its seventh year. The “dead enders” and other armed factions are still alive and well in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan again controls most of that country. Gas prices have now reached an average of $4.00 a gallon nationally and several analysts predict the price will rise to $5.00-$6.00 dollars per gallon at the pump by Labor Day. This, despite assurances by some major supporters of the decision to invade Iraq that the Iraq war “will pay for itself” (Paul Wolfowitz) or that we will see “$20.00 per barrel” oil prices if we invade Iraq (Rupert Murdoch).

One thing the Pentagon routinely does (and does very well) is conduct war games. Top brass there are constantly developing strategies for conducting any number of theoretical missions based on real or perceived threats to our national security or vital interests. This was also done prior to the invasion of Iraq, but the Bush administration chose not to listen to the dire warnings about that mission given to him by Pentagon leaders, or for that matter, by his own senior intelligence officials. Nevertheless, war gaming is in full swing again right now with the bullseye just to the right of our current mess – Iran.

It’s no secret that the U.S. is currently putting the finishing touches on several contingency plans for attacking Iranian nuclear and military facilities. With our ground forces stretched to the breaking point in Iraq and Afghanistan, none of the most likely scenarios involve a ground invasion. Not that this administration wouldn’t prefer to march into the seat of Shiite Islam behind a solid, moving line of M1 Abrams tanks and proclaim the country for democracy. The fact is that even the President knows we can’t pull that off any more so he and the neo-cons will have to settle for Shock and Awe Lite.

If we invade Iran this year it will be done using hundreds of sorties by carrier based aircraft already stationed in the Persian Gulf and from land based aircraft located in Iraq and Qatar. They will strike the known nuclear facilities located in and around Tehran and the rest of the country as well as bases containing major units of the Iranian military, anti-aircraft installations and units of the Revolutionary Guard (a separate and potent Iranian para-military organization).

Will this military action stop Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons? Probably not. It will probably not even destroy all of their nuclear research facilities, the most sensitive of which are known to be underground, protected by tons of earth and reinforced concrete and steel designed to survive almost all attacks using conventional munitions. The Iranian military and Revolutionary Guard will most likely survive as well, although they will suffer significant casualties and major bases and command centers will undoubtedly be destroyed. However, since Iran has both a functioning Air Force, Navy (including submarines) and modern anti-aircraft capabilities, U.S. fighter-bombers will suffer casualties as well. This will not be a “Cake Walk” as with the U.S. led invasion of Iraq in 2003 when the Iraqi Army simply melted away and the Iraqi Air Force never even launched a single aircraft.

Not even close.

If the United States attacks Iran either this summer or this fall, the American people had better be prepared for a shock that may perhaps be even greater to the national psyche (and economy) than 9/11. First of all, there will be significant U.S. casualties in the initial invasion. American jets will be shot down and the American pilots who are not killed will be taken prisoner – including female pilots. Iranian Yakhonts 26, Sunburn 22 and Exocet missiles will seek out and strike U.S. naval battle groups bottled up in the narrow waters of the Persian Gulf with very deadly results. American sailors will be killed and U.S. ships will be badly damaged and perhaps sunk. We may even witness the first attack on an American Aircraft carrier since World War II.

That’s just the opening act.

Israel (who had thus far stayed out of the fray by letting the U.S. military do the heavy lifting) is attacked by Hezbollah in a coordinated and large scale effort. Widespread and grisly casualties effectively paralyze the nation, a notion once thought impossible. Iran’s newest ally in the region, Syria, then unleashes a barrage of over 200 Scud B, C and D missiles at Israel, each armed with VX gas. Since all of Israel is within range of these Russian built weapons, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and virtually all major civilian centers and several military bases are struck, often with a result of massive casualties.

The Israeli Air Force orders all three squadrons of their F-16I Sufa fighter/bombers into the air with orders to bomb Tehran and as many military and nuclear bases as they can before they are either shot down or run out of fuel. It is a one way trip for some of these pilots. Their ancient homeland lies in ruins. Many have family that is already dead or dying. They do not wait for permission from Washington, DC or U.S. regional military commanders. The Israeli aircraft are carrying the majority of their country’s nuclear arsenal under their wings.

Just after the first waves of U.S. bombers cross into Iranian airspace, the Iranian Navy, using shore based missiles and small, fast attack craft sinks several oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz, sealing off the Persian Gulf and all its oil from the rest of the world. They then mine the area, making it difficult and even deadly for American minesweepers to clear the straits. Whatever is left of the Iranian Navy and Air Force harasses our Navy as it attempts minesweeping operations. More U.S casualties.

The day after the invasion Wall Street (and to a lesser extent, Tokyo, London and Frankfurt) acts as it always does in an international crisis – irrational speculative and spot buying reaches fever pitch and sends the cost of oil skyrocketing. In the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iran, the price of oil goes to $200.00 – $300.00 dollars a barrel on the open market. If the war is not resolved in a few weeks, that price could rise even higher.  This will send the price of gasoline at the pump in this country to $8.00-$10.00 per gallon immediately and subsequently to even higher unthinkable levels.

If that happens, this country shuts down. Most Americans are not be able to afford gas to go to work. Truckers pull their big rigs to the side of the road and simply walk away. Food, medicine and other critical products are not be brought to stores. Gas and electricity (what is left of the short supply) are too expensive for most people to afford. Children, the sick and elderly die from lack of air-conditioned homes and hospitals in the summer. Children, the sick and elderly die in the winter for lack of heat. There are food riots across the country. A barter system takes the place of currency and credit as the economy dissolves and banks close or limit withdrawals. Civil unrest builds.

The police are unable to contain the violence and are themselves victims of the same crisis as the rest of the population. Civilian rule dissolves and Martial Law is declared under provisions approved under the Patriot Act. Regular U.S. Army and Marine troops patrol the streets. The federal government apparatus is moved to an unknown but secure location. The United States descends into chaos and becomes a third world country. Its time as the lone superpower is over.

It doesn’t get any worse than this.

Then the first Israeli bomber drops its nuclear payload on Tehran.

Source: Global Research

Water Restoration Act May Lead to Privatization of Water Supply

(NaturalNews) The fate of the nation’s water supply is under debate as hearings in the House and Senate begin on the Water Restoration Act of 2007. Opponents claim this Act threatens to greatly expand the Federal Government’s roll in water management. This Act would define waters of the U.S. as “all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams) mudflats, sand flats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds, and all impoundments of the foregoing”. In other words, this bill will give the federal government total control of the most basic of all commodities necessary to life on this earth.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers currently have authority over all waters considered navigable in the U.S. The Code of Federal Regulations 33 CFR 329.4 defines navigable waters as “those waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or presently used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for use to transport interstate or foreign commerce.”

The Water Restoration Act, a bipartisan bill lead/sponsored by Congressman Oberstar, is an amendment to the Federal Water Pollution Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act. Since major amendments were enacted in 1977, the Clean Water Act protected all of the nation’s waters as Congress intended, until 2003, when the Bush administration gave in to pressure form corporate polluters and redefined the meaning of water. This happened through a bureaucratic device called a ‘guidance’, whereby the EPA instructed federal environmental law enforcers to back off from holding many polluters accountable.

Proponents of the Clean Water Restoration Act see it as restoring what was Congress’s original intent, that the Clean Water Act protect all of the nation’s waters. They see water quality and quantity issues as needing examination this spring, and believe now is the time for getting legislation to protect the water supply in order with the passage of this Act. They see the Act as offering needed protection from water pollution, from terrorists, and being in the interests of national security.

Is water a basic human right or a commodity?

Related article: UN rejects water as basic human right
Actually this should cause a global outrage and a revolution
. – The Infinite Unknown

Under the Public Trust doctrine, the government is prohibited from converting something such as water to the status of a commodity. Water is considered a basic human right that must remain in the public trust, meaning that it is so important to our survival that it should never be reclassified as a commodity. Many believe that the Water Restoration Act lays the foundation for removing water from the Public Trust and facilitating it to fall under the ownership and control of corporations as a commodity. This is similar to how seeds have fallen into corporate control when they were once viewed as part of the Public Trust under the assumption that all people have a right to seeds with which to grow food for themselves.

Commodity owning corporations can now sue the government if it acts in any way to prevent them from making profits they believe they are entitled to. This ability to sue for impaired profit making can be the result of environmental regulations, of Federal laws which may prevent the corporations from hiring illegal workers, or issues of eminent domain in which an individual’s land stands in the way of corporate earnings, and the courts have not acted to protect the interests of the corporation.

All the corporation has to do to supersede federal law is claim ‘trade illegal’ provisions of NAFTA and CAFTA. Federal laws and regulations are then put aside, along with property rights. CAFTA goes a long way in establishing the privatization of water supplies, including in-land navigated waters and the right to use and access the water supplies.

Federal control over all water may lead to its privatization

If the federal government is unable to gain total control of all water from whatever source, it is highly unlikely that water can be taken from the status of Public Trust and changed to that of commodity. If in fact the Water Restoration Act allows for the complete control of the federal government over all water in the country, as it opponents claim, water can loose its status as part of the Public Trust, and become a commodity available for corporate ownership.

The Water Restoration Act federalizes all inland and coastal waters from any source. This Act is needed to set the stage for the corporate privatization guaranteed under CAFTA, and would effectively convert the entire water supply from any source into the status of a commodity.

Read moreWater Restoration Act May Lead to Privatization of Water Supply

American Inventor Presents an Answer to the World’s Water Crisis

Related article: Water crisis to be biggest world risk

(NaturalNews) Dean Kamen is not a new player in the innovator’s arena. He has been inventing and innovating ever since he dropped out of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the 70’s. Since then, he invented such things as the insulin pump, a mobile dialysis system, and an all-terrain electric wheelchair called the iBot. His best-known invention is the Segway, a self-balancing, gyroscope-using, automatic-steering, scooter-like device that did not sell well in the U.S. but is expected to do better in Europe.

His newest invention could turn out to be world-changing. The term “revolutionary” comes to mind but may be too overused to express what this device could do for the world’s poor. It could save the lives of hundreds of millions of people in the third world. And it’s really quite simple. This invention answers the question — “How do you get drinkable water to the world’s thirsty?”

The Slingshot, A Revolutionary Water-Purifier

The invention, known as Slingshot, is basically a distiller. Distilling technology is not new. In fact, distillers have been around for decades. What makes this distiller unique is the low price and the large amount of water that can be produced. Other machines like the Slingshot can cost as much as $200,000 to $1 million. The Slingshot is expected to cost only $1,500. And it can filter 1,000 liters a day, using only 500 watts of electricity per hour. To put that into perspective, a toaster uses about 1,000 watts every time you make toast.

Possibly even more exciting than the cost-effectiveness and simplicity of the technology is its power. It can purify any source of moisture, whether ocean water, urine, or mud. And it does it all without filters, charcoal, or any other parts that must be replaced each time you use it.

The Slingshot has been slated for release within the next 12-18 months.

Saving Millions of Lives Every Year

“In the emerging world, in the under-developed world, a gallon of water is so precious that without it, you’re going to die,” says Kamen.

“In some places, the average amount of time per day spent looking for water that’s safe for their kids by women is four hours. And they carry this stuff, which weighs 62 pounds per cubic foot, four or five miles. And if it didn’t turn out to be the right stuff, or they put their hands in it and contaminated it, they spend the next day or two burying the babies.”

What will these women do with their extra 4 hours every day? How many families will be blessed by mothers who have the power to give water to their thirsty children? And with other inventions like the Merry-Go-Round power plant (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQu_Jppvzyk&eurl) , we may start to see our friends in the third-world finding a luxury that we have taken for granted for hundreds of years in the U.S. — fresh, drinkable water.

To see a video of Stephen Colbert questioning Kamen about the Slingshot, go to ((http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/ind…) .

Read moreAmerican Inventor Presents an Answer to the World’s Water Crisis

Water crisis to be biggest world risk

A catastrophic water shortage could prove an even bigger threat to mankind this century than soaring food prices and the relentless exhaustion of energy reserves, according to a panel of global experts at the Goldman Sachs “Top Five Risks” conference.


The melting of Himalayan glaciers threatens the water supply to the world’s rivers

Nicholas (Lord) Stern, author of the Government’s Stern Review on the economics of climate change, warned that underground aquifers could run dry at the same time as melting glaciers play havoc with fresh supplies of usable water.

“The glaciers on the Himalayas are retreating, and they are the sponge that holds the water back in the rainy season. We’re facing the risk of extreme run-off, with water running straight into the Bay of Bengal and taking a lot of topsoil with it,” he said.

“A few hundred square miles of the Himalayas are the source for all the major rivers of Asia – the Ganges, the Yellow River, the Yangtze – where 3bn people live. That’s almost half the world’s population,” he said.

Lord Stern, the World Bank’s former chief economist, said governments had been slow to accept the awful truth that usable water is running out. Fresh rainfall is not enough to refill the underground water tables.

“Water is not a renewable resource. People have been mining it without restraint because it has not been priced properly,” he said.


Water sector outperformance relative to the S&P 500

Farming makes up 70pc of global water demand. Fresh water for irrigation is never returned to underground basins. Most is lost through leaks and evaporation.

A Goldman Sachs report said water was the “petroleum for the next century”, offering huge rewards for investors who know how to play the infrastructure boom. The US alone needs up to $1,000bn (£500bn) in new piping and waste water plants by 2020.

Read moreWater crisis to be biggest world risk

California faces water rationing due to drought

Californians could face mandatory water rationing unless they drastically reduce consumption because of a state-wide water crisis, governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said.

The warning came as he declared the first official drought in California in 17 years, citing two years of arid conditions that threaten the state’s massive agriculture industry and increase the risk of wildfires such as those that destroyed 1,500 homes last October.


Kern River in California is dry and is expected to remain so

The governor called for a state-wide reduction of 20 per cent and issued an executive order commanding water officials to direct supplies to the driest areas, help districts conserve and aid stricken farmers who have already suffered huge losses.

Mr Schwarzenegger said mandatory restrictions could follow if residents and water authorities failed to make cutbacks and another dry winter ensued.

“We must recognise the severity of the crisis that we face,” the Republican governor said.

California has never resorted to statewide water rationing to cope with shortages. Since the last drought, however, its population has shot up as water supplies have decreased.

The governor himself does not have the authority to impose statewide rationing but the Department of Water Resources could slash water supplies to local authorities, who in turn would have to enforce limits.

Some regions already impose rationing with the threat of punitive measures for violators and many areas have appealed for conservation. Restrictions on outdoor water use, such as bans on washing cars or driveways, are in force in some cities along with orders stopping restaurants from automatically serving drinking water.

This week, Los Angeles approved a fleet of “drought busters” to patrol residential areas and enforce a ban on some types of outdoor water use. More districts are expected to impose limits of some kind as the long, hot days of summer loom.

This spring, the driest on record, follows two years of below average rainfall. The situation has been exacerbated by reduced mountain snow packs, which normally provide much of the state’s supply, and a court order limiting the amount of water that can be taken from a key river delta to protect a threatened fish.

“We’re suffering the perfect storm, if you will,” said Timothy Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.

The prospect of cuts alarmed some sectors of the business community who feared it could harm productivity and increase the chance of full-blown recession.

Read moreCalifornia faces water rationing due to drought

Canada’s water crisis ‘escalating’


In Quebec, St. Lawrence water levels were so low this fall in places like Haut Gorge park that water had to be pumped in from Lake Ontario. Photograph by : Allen McInnis, Canwest News Service

Experts expect climate change to present serious water challenges, many of which already exist

In Quebec, St. Lawrence water levels were so low this fall in places like Haut Gorge park that water had to be pumped in from Lake Ontario.

In Quebec, St. Lawrence water levels were so low this fall in places like Haut Gorge park that water had to be pumped in from Lake Ontario.

Canada is crisscrossed by innumerable rivers, some of which flow into three oceans.

Yet Canada’s fresh water isn’t as abundant as you may think. And it’s facing serious challenges and the looming menace of climate change, which is expected to exacerbate Canada’s water problems and leave more of the world thirsting after our precious liquid resource.

“They say you need a crisis before people get jerked into taking responsible action,” says Chandra Madramootoo, a water researcher and founding director of McGill University’s Brace Centre for Water Resources Management.

“When are we going to finally say, ‘Jeez, we’re not as water rich as we thought we were and maybe we better start doing something?’ Is it going to be the day when we [must] ration water?”

Some think the crisis is already here. They say it’s time to take action — by, for example, conserving water, cracking down on polluters, preparing for the effects of climate change and coming to the aid of waterless poor in the developing world.

(Important article! Please continue to read. – The Infinite Unknown)

Read moreCanada’s water crisis ‘escalating’

Prince Charles: Eighteen months to stop climate change disaster

The Prince of Wales has warned that the world faces a series of natural disasters within 18 months unless urgent action is taken to save the rainforests.

In one of his most out-spoken interventions in the climate change debate, he said a £15 billion annual programme was required to halt deforestation or the world would have to live with the dire consequences.

“We will end up seeing more drought and starvation on a grand scale. Weather patterns will become even more terrifying and there will be less and less rainfall,” he said.

“We are asking for something pretty dreadful unless we really understand the issues now and [the] urgency of them.” The Prince said the rainforests, which provide the “air conditioning system for the entire planet”, releasing water vapour and absorbing carbon, were being lost to poor farmers desperate to make a living.

He said that every year, 20 million hectares of forest – equivalent to the area of England, Wales and Scotland – were destroyed and called for a “gigantic partnership” of governments, businesses and consumers to slow it down.

“What we have got to do is try to ensure that these forests are more valuable alive than dead. At the moment, there is more value in them being dead,” he said.

Read morePrince Charles: Eighteen months to stop climate change disaster

China – Drought

RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service
Budapest, Hungary2008-03-20 15:16:03 – Drought – China

GLIDE CODE: DR-20080320-15931-CHN
Date & Time: 2008-03-20 15:16:03 [UTC]
Area: China, Hebei, Nei Mongol, Heilongjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Shandong, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region,

!!! WARNING !!!

Description:

A number of regions in the north and northeast part of China were still fighting a continuous drought that could affect spring farming. Serious drought began to hit many big cities and prefectures of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the north, including Hulun Buir, Baotou, Ordos and Xilingol, early this month because of reduced rainfall since December, the autonomous regional meteorological bureau said Thursday.

Different localities received a maximum of 20 millimeters of rainfall over the past four months, up to 70 percent less than the corresponding period of previous years, according to Li Yunpeng, official with the meteorological center of ecology and agriculture. The drought would continue in the region until the first springrain comes in mid April, said Li. Meteorological authorities called for measures to maintain soilmoisture for the upcoming spring sowing. A severe drought in the neighboring Hebei Province had affected 3 million hectares of cropland and left residents in some areas short of drinking water. It is the 12th consecutive spring drought in the province, which only received seven millimeters of rainfall on average since the winter, about 60 percent less than normal years.

Read moreChina – Drought