Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 02/01/15

Massenbach-Letter. News — Alert.Satellite images show 290 heritage sites in Syria damaged by war: UN

Not the best way to say “Hello, this is 2015!”

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*

· Obama hopes to enlist GOP in push for trade pact, despite Democratic resistance

· Bernd WULFFEN, Botschafter Deutschlands 2001-2005 in Kuba: Kuba-USA, Ende einer traumatischen Nachbarschaft?

· U.S. Department of the Interior Launches Online Data Portal Giving Access To Revenue Data

· Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union Faces Resistance in Central Asia

· Putin endorses updated version of Russia’s military doctrine- updates concerned in the first place the emergence of new threats to security in northern Africa, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It also pointed out a buildup of the offensive potential of the North-Atlantic pact right on Russia’s doorsteps.

· Syrian opposition to meet in Cairo for talks: source tells AFP

· OPINION: Israel’s Gas Dream: The End Is Nigh

· Sozialrichter Borchert über Hartz-IV-Gesetze

Massenbach* Satellite images show 290 heritage sites in Syria damaged by war: UN*

Satellite imagery indicate that 290 cultural heritage sites in Syria, whose history stretches back to the dawn of civilization, have been damaged by its ongoing civil war, the United Nations‘ training and research arm (UNITAR) said on Tuesday.

Syria’s heritage spans the great empires of the Middle East but cultural sites and buildings around the country, such as Aleppo’s Umayyad Mosque, have been looted, damaged or destroyed in the three-year-old conflict.

Using commercially available satellite pictures, UNITAR found that 24 sites were completely destroyed, 189 severely or moderately damaged and a further 77 possibly damaged.

This is "an alarming testimony of the ongoing damage that is happening to Syria’s vast cultural heritage", UNITAR said in a new report.

"National and international efforts for the protection of these areas need to be scaled up in order to save as much as possible of this important heritage (for) humankind."

Clashes between President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and rebels have damaged historical sites and buildings throughout Syria. Pillaging has threatened tombs in the desert town of Palmyra and Roman temples have been damaged.

The report documented widespread damage to cultural heritage sites including UNESCO World Heritage Sites, mostly in the northern city of Aleppo.

Both sides in the conflict have used ancient fortresses as military bases. The army has positioned snipers on Aleppo’s Citadel, one of the oldest and largest castles in the world.

Insurgent forces also overran the 900-year-old Crac des Chevaliers Crusader castle. The army retook it in March but only after months of bombardment.

The satellite imagery also found that sites in Raqqa and the millennia-old oasis city of Palmyra have been exposed to major damage. The ancient city of Bosra and abandoned settlements from the Byzantine period in Syria’s north have been damaged as well, according to UNITAR.

Radical Sunni Muslim insurgents have also destroyed ancient sites which they consider to be heretical.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, head of Syria’s antiquities and museums, told Reuters last year that tens of thousands of artefacts spanning 10,000 years of history had been removed to specialist warehouses to avoid looting.–heritage-sites-in-Syria-dam.aspx




Krac des Chevaliers:


St. Simeons Kloster:


U.S. Department of the Interior Launches Online Data Portal Giving Access To Revenue Data*

By Rosario Doriott Dominguez on December 16, 2014 Posted in Oil and Gas

Last Thursday, December 11, 2014, the Department of the Interior (“DOI”) became the latest governmental agency to open the doors to some of its data via a new online portal located at .[i]

The new portal is part of the U.S. implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (“USEITI”) and follows President Obama’s May 9, 2013 executive order, making open and machine-readable data the new default for government information:[ii]

“To promote continued job growth, Government efficiency, and the social good that can be gained from opening Government data to the public, the default state of new and modernized Government information resources shall be open and machine readable. Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that can make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable. In making this the new default state, executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall ensure that they safeguard individual privacy, confidentiality, and national security.”

DOI aims via its new portal to increase transparency and allow the public “access [to] detailed revenue data for the development and production of oil, gas, mineral, and other natural resources on Federal lands and offshore on the Outer Continental Shelf.”[iii]

These reported revenue data include parallel public disclosures by both the government and industry of the payments that companies make to the government for oil, gas, and mining resource development.[iv] The data currently available were provided by DOI’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (“ONRR”), which collects and disburses revenues from energy production on federal onshore and offshore lands and on Indian lands.[v]

At the new portal, the public may view federal resource royalties by location and by sector, and may also view how federal revenue is dispersed and shared. The portal also offers compiled data sets, maps, and graphs–not only by commodity, but also by company.

The “total revenues by company” data set provides calendar year 2013 natural resource revenues data by company. The data set includes revenues for U.S. federal lands and offshore areas, but not Indian lands, privately owned lands, or U.S. state lands.[vi] Selecting a company name allows a user to view rent, bonus, royalty, and other revenue totals by commodity.

The portal is currently in beta, but when fully developed aims to include information on more than 550 companies that meet the minimum payment threshold, currently set at $100,000 per year and determined by the USEITI Multi-Stakeholder Group, a body composed of representatives from government, industry, and civil society.[vii]

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