Month: November 2008

Congress-BJP slanging match over terror begins

Even before the gunbattle with terrorists in Mumbai could end, a slanging match on Friday began between ruling Congress and opposition BJP on the issue of handling of internal security and dealing with terrorists.

BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani accused the intelligence agencies of failing to get a whiff of Mumbai terror attacks, alleging their preoccupation with "Hindu terror"– an apparent reference to Malegaon blast probe –helped the terrorist plot go undetected.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, BJP's anti-terror mascot, sought to upstage Congress by visiting the three Mumbai spots where the operations against terror were on and was promptly branded as a "publicity monger" by the ruling party.

Congress also raked up the Kandahar hijack episode during the BJP rule and alleged release of terrorists in return for safe release of passengers onboard had brought India to its knees

It also sought to puncture Narendra Modi's anti-terror plank alleging he had failed to provide manpower for a centrally-funded coastal policing

AICC spokesman Manish Tewari accused Advani, who is also the Leader of the Opposition, of failing to accompany Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Mumbai, which would have sent a strong signal of a united India against terrorism.

Advani preferred to go to Mumbai along with Jaswant Singh whose conduct at Kandahar is possibly responsible for what we are facing today", said Tewari at the party briefing.

In a statement, Advani accused the UPA of not being serious about tackling terror. "The government's non-serious approach is reinforced by reports that the Mumbai attackers arrived in the city by the sea route.

via Congress-BJP slanging match over terror begins

Note to BJP, your associates are responsible for thousands of deaths in state abetted riots and pogroms against Muslims and Christians. Also, your associates are suspected in fomenting acts of terror, shut the fuck up. You are equally complicit in increasing tensions in the country.

Note to Congress, You are also responsible for thousands of preventable violent deaths. You are inept and unable to setup a basic centralized counter terrorism program, you have, on your watch, let India suffer many brazen terrorist attacks without doing anything to improve intelligence gathering or have any kind of rational response. You have been using the Muslim community to gather votes for years without actually doing anything to make things better. You have not been able to bring the organizers of riots and mayhem to justice, hell, you haven’t even tried. You have no right to talk.

If there is one thing that can be done right away, list all the violence that has occurred in the last few years and actually bring the people responsible for this violence to trial, get some convictions, do some good police and prosecution work. Maybe then we can build some confidence in the system. We can’t have Hindus going free for hate crimes/terrorism, we can’t have Muslims going free for hate crimes/terrorism.

Rule of law, quaint, old fashioned, boring, but in the long term, combining a robust counter terrorism program with a low tolerance approach to violence is our only cure.

Terrorists boated in from Pakistan

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Police investigators say they have evidence that operatives of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out the fidayeen-squad attacks in Mumbai — a charge which, if proven, could have far-reaching consequences for India-Pakistan relations.

Police sources said an injured terrorist captured during the fighting at the Taj Mahal hotel was tentatively identified as Ajmal Amir Kamal, a resident of Faridkot, near Multan, in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Highly-placed police sources said two other Pakistani nationals had also been held in the course of intense fighting on Thursday.

All three, the sources said, identified themselves as members of a Lashkar fidayeen squad.Based on the interrogation of the suspects, the investigators believe that one or more groups of Lashkar operatives left Karachi in a merchant ship early on Wednesday. Late that night, an estimated 12 fidayeen left the ship in a small boat and rowed some 10 nautical miles to Mumbai’s Gateway of India area.

The investigators say the fidayeen unit of which Mr. Kamal was a part then split up into at least six groups, each focussing on a separate target: Mumbai’s Nariman House, which is home to a large number of Israeli families and a Jewish prayer house; the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus rail station; the Cama hospital; the Girgaum seafront; and the Taj and Trident Oberoi hotels.

via The Hindu : Front Page : Three Lashkar fidayeen captured

Well, so it goes, this gives the government and all politicians free license to start bashing Pakistan all over again, while failing to take care of all the changes that need to happen in order to avoid an attack of such brazenness and sophistication. There is no intelligence gathering, no infrastructure to coordinate intelligence, no disaster preparedness, insufficient patrolling of the coasts, gang influences that run deep in the police and the politicians, an inability to run effective investigations, the list is endless.

All that being said, how does one deal with the lawlessness in Pakistan? If we assume that the Pakistani establishment did not have anything to do with this, we are still left with the conclusion that terror groups can function with impunity and in broad daylight in Pakistan’s major cities and just sneak across the border to attack, either in Afghanistan or in India.

The US is bombing the crap out of the Pak-Afghan border, but the terrorists are in the cities and towns, can’t really bomb away. India needs to seriously tighten its borders, and cannot rely on Pakistan’s situation improving any time soon.

Terrorist attacks in Mumbai

Terror struck the country's financial capital late on Wednesday night as coordinated serial explosions and indiscriminate firing were reported from at least eight locations across Mumbai.

At least 18 people are reported killed and 24 are seriously injured.

The coordinated terror strike which reportedly began at 2233 PM at Chhatrapathi Shivaji TerminusCST, formerly known as the Victoria TerminusVT, killed 10 people in the premises of the station, police say.

A petrol pump has been blown up in Colaba by armed men and at least 10 people are reported to have been killed in that strike.

Three persons are killed in a bomb explosion in a taxi on Mazegaon dockyard road and an equal number have been gunned down at the five-star Taj Hotel.

The victims in the hotel were its employees.

via MUMBAI TERROR: Hotels, hospital, bus stands, cinema halls attacked

All the attacks are in relatively affluent neighbourhoods and posh hotels in South Mumbai, clearly designed to terrorize people who would not normally be exposed to terrorist activity, and to further ratchet up tensions in India. Of course, scaring foreigners and tourists is a big deal as well. CST (or Victoria terminus as it is still referred to) is like Grand Central Station in NY city, an iconic Mumbai landmark and the starting point for many many trains. Security in this city of millions is non existent, so I guess such attacks are easy to carry out.

The Waxman cometh for Alberta Oil Sands

Representative Henry A. Waxman of California ousted Representative John D. Dingell of Michigan from his post as chairman of the influential Committee on Energy and Commerce on Thursday, giving President-elect Barack Obama an advantage in his plans to promote efforts to combat global warming.

via Longtime Head of House Energy Panel Is Ousted –

Why is this big news for Canada? Because Waxman would like to ensure that the US not allow any alternative fuel that has a bigger CO2 lifecycle impact than the conventional fuel it replaces to be used by the US government, as enshrined in US law.

I don’t foresee a bright future for this dirty Oil Sands, with oil now dipping below $50 a barrel, and money short, even the economics (without any carbon pricing) do not make sense. We are probably 4-5 years away from commercial plugin hybrids. In the medium term, gasoline consumption is going to decline, and there’s nowhere we can sell this oil to if the US drops out as a buyer.

Obama: Warming must be tackled now – Climate Change-

He wasn’t expected to make an appearance, let alone a splash, but President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday delivered a videotaped message to a climate change summit convened by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, vowing quick action to curb emissions and engage in international talks.

You can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change," he told hundreds of scientists, executives, governors and even foreign officials gathered in Los Angeles.

via Obama: Warming must be tackled now – Climate Change-

No longer the climate outcast, is the president of the United States, that proud designation among the so called developed country leaders would now be Steven Harper.

Goodbye Conventional Coal, for now.

In a move that signals the start of the our clean energy future, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board EAB ruled today EPA had no valid reason for refusing to limit from new coal-fired power plants the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. The decision means that all new and proposed coal plants nationwide must go back and address their carbon dioxide emissions.

via Sierra Club: Email – Ruling: Coal Plants Must Limit CO2

This is huuuuuuuuuuge.

Hindu Terrorism Update

As they uncover a wide network of those involved in the Malegaon blast with linkages to an earlier explosion at Nanded too, investigators were on Sunday looking for 54 people suspected to have been given arms training at a military school in Nagpur.

Highly-placed sources involved in the investigation into the blast at Malegaon on September 29 that killed six persons, said that interrogation of suspects indicated that 54 people had been given training in handling of arms and explosives at Bhonsala Military School in 2001.

Some of them are believed to be involved in the blasts at Malegaon in 2006 and 2008 as well as the Nanded blast in 2006.

Mysteriously a laptop said to belong to Lt. Col. Shrikant Purohit, an army officer arrested recently after investigations, has disappeared. The laptop is said to contain all the 54 names.

via The Hindu : Front Page : Police looking for 54 people “who got arms training”

Involving a military school and a Lt. Colonel, scary. Earlier post here.

Revised theory suggests carbon dioxide levels already in danger zone

If climate disasters are to be averted, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) must be reduced below the levels that already exist today, according to a study published in Open Atmospheric Science Journal by a group of 10 scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

The authors, who include two Yale scientists, assert that to maintain a planet similar to that on which civilization developed, an optimum CO2 level would be less than 350 ppm — a dramatic change from most previous studies, which suggested a danger level for CO2 is likely to be 450 ppm or higher. Atmospheric CO2 is currently 385 parts per million (ppm) and is increasing by about 2 ppm each year from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) and from the burning of forests.

via Revised theory suggests carbon dioxide levels already in danger zone

Read the entire paper here. As usual, coal is the main culprit and the answer to the puzzle is the elimination of any coal burning without sequestration.

Obama and Harper, saving a tree

Canada hopes to achieve a North American climate-change deal with U.S. president-elect Barack Obama and will begin working on the file within weeks, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Wednesday.Meantime, officials told The Canadian Press the Harper government has been waiting for the departure of President George W. Bush to work with his successor on an integrated carbon market.While states and provinces have been cobbling together a patchwork of approaches, federal officials said they have been eyeing a continent-wide solution for some time. Canada to seek climate deal with Obama

Interesting and potentially promising news. I have thought for a while that Canada would have no choice but to start some kind of emissions cap/trade or carbon tax, given the way the wind was blowing down south. Harper, for all his reliance on Alberta’s oil votes, realises that with or without his say, the country’s leading trading partner is going to impose a carbon tax (a cap and trade is a price on carbon, or a tax, semantics aside) on Canadian-US trade.

It is also interesting that this statement came out right after Obama’s election, and the foreign minister went out of his way to say that they were waiting for Bush to get out of the way. Nice cozying up, Harper, making up for all your stupid previous statements about Obama. But do not worry, this new emperor is more gracious than the previous one!

We are going to be living in interesting times, good ones, finally.