On the move

June 15, 2007

Dear reader,

Tinyplanet has packed its bags and its moving to a new domain. Come and visit at www.tinyplanetblog.com.

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Plants adapt to climate change

June 14, 2007

Writes Andrew C Revkin of the International Herald Tribune:

Many Arctic plant species have readily adjusted to big climate changes, repeatedly re-colonizing the rugged islands of Norway’s remote Svalbard archipelago through 20,000 years of warm and cool spells since the frigid peak of the last ice age, researchers say.

Is this nature taking a step in the right direction, or just a curious anomaly? Read the full article here.


Abandon hope

June 14, 2007

The Palestinian civil war has put paid to hopes for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict.

The more moderate Fatah movement has been over-run in the Gaza Strip, with the Islamist Hamas taking key security posts all across the region. It has now captured Fatah headquarters in Gaza.

The image of the green Hamas flag flying above the building is possibly the most defining of the day.

All too late, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has ordered his presidential guard to strike back. Yesterday, Fatah officials said there had been confusion: were they allowed to fight back or not?

Their resistance has crumbled; I have a feeling the claims of confusion were a desperate attempt to explain away just how easily Hamas has crushed its rivals.

“We are telling our people that the past era has ended and will not return, ” Islam Shahawan, a spokesman for Hamas’ militia, told Hamas radio. “The era of justice and Islamic rule have arrived.” (AP)

Given that Hamas is apparently executing Fatah policemen the definition of “justice” seems rather elastic, wouldn’t you say?

There is no hope for a negotiated solution between Hamas and Israel. Fatah’s decline, which began with an election drubbing fueled by a widespread perception of corruption and inefficiency, is complete (at least in the Gaza Strip).

The ambition had been for a two-state solution in the Middle East. The Palestinian state would consist of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, both of which are fenced off from Israel.

The only viable way for such a split Palestinian state would be a highway crossing Israel; this was planned but there is no way Israel will allow militants such easy access to its territory.

And it must be pointed out that not all Palestinians back either Hamas or Fatah. One wrote to al-Jazeera earlier today: “Hamas and Fatah should go to hell and leave the Palestinian people alone.”

Hamas is unlikely to repeat its success in the larger and more populous West Bank, where Fatah is taking the initiative. I actually laughed when I read an AP report saying Abbas was considering withdrawing from the ruling coalition with Hamas. Strikes me as the first thing he should have done this morning.

The likelihood of an Israeli incursion into Gaza, which it evacuated in 2005, has soared. Hamas are not going to sit back on their Gazan victory, they will press an attack on Israel. It does not recognise the nation’s right to exist and has been firing rockets over the border for some time.

We now face the possibility of separate Hamas and Fatah states. EU humanitarian aid has been suspended. The UN can not distribute the aid which so many Palestinian people rely on. Egypt should be bracing itself for a flood of refugees and the formation of an Islamist nation on its northeastern border.

The dream of peace which was fostered by the 1993 Oslo Accords is shattered. All hope is lost.


David knows the feeling

June 13, 2007

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I has those days too, kitty.


Slightly sick ad

June 12, 2007

I’ve just seen an ad on UKTV for Oasis, a fruity soft drink produced by Coca-Cola.

It sees a herd of wildebeest stampede across the plains for the watering hole. When they arrive, one sniffs at the mucky liquid and the voice-over/interior monologue goes something like: “What? We came all this way across Africa to drink this muck? How could it possibly get any worse?”

At which point a crocodile leaps from the water and sinks its teeth into one of the wildebeest.

As the herd flees, the weird little man who seems to be the main figure in the ad campaign appears and starts chugging down a bottle of Oasis. While the slogan “Oasis: for people who don’t like water” comes on screen, the croc drags the kicking animal into the water while the dying wildebeest says “This is exactly what happened to Alan last year”.

I don’t like it.

The narration is mildly amusing I suppose, but the fact that some goofball is messing around on screen swigging from a bottle of juice while an animal is dragged to its death is wrong.

That’s right. I like animals more than most people.


Chocolate guilt

June 12, 2007

Not only do chocoholics have to worry about their health and weight, now they have ethical reasons to fret.

According to Nina Brenjo of Alertnet, cocoa exports from the Ivory Coast are funding both the nation’s government and rebels.

Alright, it was Brenjo quoting the Financial Times. But her blog’s where I found the story.


Hypocrisy in action

June 12, 2007

US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns says Iran is sending weapons to the Taliban. It is the first time (to my knowledge) a senior American official has made such a claim.

The likes of Tony Blair have said “elements” within the Iranian regime were sending arms to Afghanistan, but this looks like a direct accusation against the government as a whole.

What really gets to me though is that the US is busy arming Sunni Arab groups to fight al-Qaida in Iraq.

“(Iran is)  a country that’s trying to flex its muscles,” Burns said, “but in a way that’s injurious to the interests of just about everybody else in the world. I think it’s a major miscalculation.”

And how the US flexes its muscles is in everybody’s best interests? Arming militants to fight militants is a perfect calculation?

Iran has denied aiding the Taliban, saying it makes no sense for a Shi’ite regime to back a Sunni group.

With patience already frayed on both sides regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Burns’ comments are only adding fuel to the fire. Sometimes I wish politicians would just shut the fuck up.