Sunday, January 15, 2012

Climate change models flawed, extinction rate likely higher than predicted

Current predictions overlook two important factors: the differences in how quickly species relocate and competition among species.

As climate change progresses, the planet may lose more plant and animal species than predicted, a new modeling study suggests.

This is because current predictions overlook two important factors: the differences in how quickly species relocate and competition among species, according to the researchers, led by Mark Urban, an ecologist at the University of Connecticut.

Already evidence suggests that species have begun to migrate out of ranges made inhospitable by climate change and into newly hospitable territory. Read More

Jeremy Jackson talks about How We Wrecked the Ocean

We have been hearing a lot about what the oil spill is doing to the ocean. But something else which is also concerning is the condition the ocean was in, even prior to the spill. We live in a finite world. Our continued mistreatment of the ocean, the reduced fish population, and the disappearance of large fish in the last 50 years are all serious concerns.

Jeremy Jackson is the Ritter Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In this talk, Professor Jackson lays out the shocking state of the ocean today: overfished, overheated, polluted, with indicators that things will get much worse. The film is from TED Talks. The movie is 18 minutes long and offers subtitles as an option. I've also copied in the transcript below the fold. Read More

Approaching debris from Japanese tsunami may contain hazardous materials

Seaview beachcomber Matt Mulvey is eager for debris from the Japanese tsunami to wash up on the Long Beach Peninsula.

He hopes to find real glass fishing floats and buoys among the sea-trash swept into the Pacific Ocean after the massive March 11 earthquake off the coast of Japan and which now is floating slowly, inexorably toward North America.

"I'm not worried about radioactivity. We've got more radioactivity coming out of Hanford than we're gonna get from Japan," Mulvey said Tuesday, referring to radiation leaks the earthquake caused at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant.

However, scientists are cautioning beachcombers that they might get more than they bargained for when the debris starts washing ashore. The approaching debris likely will contain hazardous materials and objects. Radiation is not considered among the hazards, but it is possible the flotsam that washes ashore could include skeletal human remains.

The first big wave of debris is not expected for another year, but officials are holding a series of public safety meetings on tsunami debris next week in three Pacific County locations. In addition to warning about hazards, officials also are asking the public to be respectful of what they find on the beaches and be on the alert for information that can help Japanese families track down missing relatives. Read More

Occupy Protest planned for first ship to dock at EGT grain terminal: Coastguard will "protect" ship

The U.S. Coast Guard will escort the first ship coming to the EGT grain terminal at the Port of Longview this month, and the Occupy movement and local labor groups say they are planning to greet the vessel with a massive protest.

EGT officials say they have not scheduled a date for the ship's arrival. The freighter is expected to haul thousands of tons of grain to Asia, but opposition groups are already marshaling their forces to support the lengthy protest by union dock workers at the grain terminal.

"We just want to swell the population of the city to show there are people behind us," said Jeff Washburn, president of the Cowlitz Wahkiakum Central Labor Council, which passed a resolution calling for a protest this week.

He added that the labor council plans no attempt to stop the ship, a sentiment echoed in a similar call for protest by leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

However, the Occupy movement it taking a more aggressive stance, calling for members nationwide to gather outside Port of Longview gates and thwart efforts to load the ship, said Paul Nipper, an organizer for Occupy Longview. The group shut down the ports coastwide, including Longview, Dec. 8. Read More

Obama asks Congress for debt limit hike: Needs another $1.2 trillion

President Obama formally notified Congress on Thursday of his intent to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion, two weeks after he had postponed the request to give lawmakers more time to consider the action.

Congress will have had 15 days to say no before the nation’s debt ceiling automatically is raised from $15.2 trillion to $16.4 trillion.

In a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), Obama wrote that ”further borrowing is required to meet existing commitments.”

Obama had sought to make the request at the end of last month, when the Treasury came within $100 billion of its borrowing limit. However, with Congress on recess, lawmakers from both parties asked the president to hold off. The House is out of session until Jan. 17, and the Senate until Jan. 23.

Since then Treasury officials have used special revenue and accounting measures to maintain the nation’s solvency. Yet the White House cast the delay as a technicality, saying there is no chance the limit will not be increased, even if Republican lawmakers attempt to object.

Under an agreement reached in August, Congress and the White House moved to raise the debt limit in three increments while also implementing $2.4 trillion in budget cuts. The deal, however, also gave Congress the option of voting to block each of the debt-ceiling increases by passing a “resolution of disapproval.” Read More

U.S. Debt Nears $15.194 Trillion Ceiling

The Treasury Department has begun maneuvers to avoid hitting the debt ceiling, as the Obama administration waits for Congress to return from the holiday break before it can raise the federal borrowing limit.

The U.S. government was just a hair below the $15.194 trillion debt ceiling on Tuesday, $25 million shy of the limit Congress set last summer. President Barack Obama sent a letter to congressional leaders Thursday, saying the U.S. debt was within $100 million of the ceiling “and that further borrowing is required to meet existing commitments.”

Raising the debt ceiling another $1.2 trillion is procedurally simple but politically it is much more complex.

Last year, as part of the White House’s deal with Republicans to avert a potential default on the U.S. debt, both sides agreed to raise the debt ceiling $2.1 trillion, but to do it in two steps. So in August, they immediately raised the debt ceiling $900 billion. Read More

Ohio woman loses appeal on "White Only" pool sign

A Cincinnati landlord found to have violated state anti-discrimination laws after she hung a "white only" sign outside her swimming pool lost an appeal with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission on Thursday.

The ruling clears the way for the case to be referred to the state attorney general's office for possible state civil charges and the possibility of being forced to pay compensatory and punitive damages.

The commission ruled the sign, which read "Public Swimming Pool, White Only," violated state housing discrimination laws, and dismissed landlord Jamie Hein's claim that it was simply a decorative antique.

The commission's ruling followed a complaint by Michael Gunn, a former tenant who brought his 10-year-old biracial daughter to a Memorial Day weekend pool party on Hein's property attended by about 20 other guests. Read More

The Worst Economic Recovery Since The Great Depression

The record of President Obama’s first three years in office is in, and nothing that happens now can go back and change that. What that record shows is that President Obama, with his throwback, old-fashioned, 1970s Keynesian economics, has put America through the worst recovery from a recession since the Great Depression.

The recession started in December, 2007. Go to the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research (www.nber.org) to see the complete history of America’s recessions. What that history reveals is that before this last recession, since the Great Depression recessions in America have lasted an average of 10 months, with the longest previously lasting 16 months.

When President Obama entered office in January, 2009, the recession was already in its 13th month. His responsibility was to manage a timely, robust recovery to get America back on track again. Read More

Book Depicts Cranky Obama On Baghdad Visit: Too good to shake soldiers' hands

Michael Hastings' new book, The Operators, jabs at what could be a vulnerable spot for the Obama Administration, the president's relationship with the troops.

The book describes a visit to Baghdad:

After the talk, out of earshot from the soldiers and diplomats, he starts to complain. He starts to act very un-Obamalike, according to a U.S. embassy official
who helped organize the trip in Baghdad.

He’s asked to go out to take a few more pictures with soldiers and embassy staffers. He’s asked to sign copies of his book. “He didn’t want to take pictures with any more soldiers; he was complaining about it,” a State Department official tells me.

“Look, I was excited to meet him. I wanted to like him. Let’s just say the scales fell from my
eyes after I did. These are people over here who’ve been fighting the war, or working every day for the war effort, and he didn’t want to take fucking pictures with them?" Source

Cashless Society: India Implements First Biometric ID Program for all of its 1.2 Billion Residents

Over the past few months, I have written several articles dealing with the coming cashless society and the developing technological control grid. I also have written about the surge of government attempts to gain access to and force the use of biometric data for the purposes of identification, tracking, tracing, and surveillance.<

Unfortunately, the reactions I receive from the general public are almost always the same. While some recognize the danger, most simply deny that governments have the capability or even the desire to create a system in which the population is constantly monitored by virtue of their most private and even biological information. Others, either gripped by apathy or ignorance, cannot believe that the gadgets given to them from the massive tech corporations are designed for anything other than their entertainment and enjoyment.

However, current events in India should serve not just as a warning, but also as a foreshadowing of the events to come in the Western world, specifically the United States. Read More

MF Global May Not Be Able to Pay Clients Back: Trustee

Former customers of MF Global Holdings' collapsed brokerage were disappointed to hear on Thursday that the trustee hunting for funds missing from their accounts has no immediate plans to transfer more money to them.

More than 250 customers met in New York on Thursday with James Giddens, the trustee in charge of liquidating the brokerage and returning money to customers, for an update on the status of his investigation into what may be $1.2 billion missing from their accounts.

Giddens and his team of lawyers said they may not be able to make another mass transfer of funds above the roughly $3.8 billion they have already paid out. That figure represents about 72 percent of the total money held in customer accounts when the firm went under, leaving many customers still thousands or millions of dollars out of pocket. Read More

Linda Ruggles: South Carolina Woman Jailed For Having Messy Yard

A Mount Pleasant woman is serving 10 days in jail after failing to pay a $480 fine for having a messy yard.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports 53-year-old Linda Ruggles has sold blood and even volunteered for medical experiments to get money to keep her home from foreclosure.

Ruggles is a photographer whose business tanked during the recession. She was fined in 2010 after neighbors complained.

The town says it tried to work with her and the police chief offered to round up some young people to help her clean up.

A municipal judge ordered Ruggles to pay the fine or go to jail for 10 days. Officials say she didn’t pay the fine within 90 days and then ignored court appearances and warnings from the town. Source

5.5 Magnitude Earthquake SOUTH SHETLAND ISLANDS - 16th Jan 2012

A magnitude 5.5 earthquake has struck the South Shetland Islands at a depth of 9.1 km (5.7 miles), the quake hit at 03:59:45 UTC Monday 16th January 2012
The epicenter was 569 km (353 miles) West of Coronation Island, South Orkney Islands
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

4.9 Magnitude Earthquake SULAWESI, INDONESIA - 16th Jan 2012

A magnitude 4.9 earthquake has struck Sulawesi, Indonesia at a depth of 18.9 km (11.7 miles), the quake hit at 03:21:55 UTC Monday 16th January 2012
The epicenter was 220 km (137 miles) NNE of Baubau, Sulawesi, Indonesia
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.

US seeking to 'close down' Iran central bank

The latest round of American sanctions are aimed at shutting down Iran's central bank, a senior US official said Thursday, spelling out that intention directly for the first time.

"We do need to close down the Central Bank of Iran (CBI)," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity, while adding that the United States is moving quickly to implement the sanctions, signed into law last month.

The sanctions, broadly aimed at forcing Tehran to shift course on its nuclear program, targeted Iran's crucial oil sector and required foreign firms to make a choice between doing business with Iran or the United States.

Foreign central banks that deal with the Iranian central bank on oil transactions could also face similar restrictions under the new law, which has sparked fears of damage to US ties with nations like Russia and China.

"If a correspondent bank of a US bank wants to do business with us and they're doing business with CBI or other designated Iranian banks... then they're going to get in trouble with us," the US official said. Read More

Kashgar, China, threatened by modernization



China is investing hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize some of the historic trading towns on its western frontier. But critics say modernization is happening at a cost to the region’s cultural heritage.

In the ancient market city of Kashgar, traders have been wheeling and dealing for thousands of years. For centuries, the city was dominated by the Uighurs - a Turkic speaking Muslim people - now considered a minority group in China.

The government is now investing heavily to revive this sleepy backwater and transform it into a modern day boom town.

Yet critics say there the Uighur's cultural heritage is being lost.

Photographer Wu Xiangqian has been documenting the changes to the historic city, considered home to some of the best Central Asian architecture.

"What I shot a few years ago has already disappeared," he told CNN’s Eunice Yoon. "I'm concerned the transformation could destroy the traditional culture."

Traditional Central Asian homes are being demolished as part of a mass modernization program. Read More

Iran's 'distressed' oil to keep flowing - at deep discount

Despite tightening sanctions on Iran's oil industry, experts say the country's crude should still flow -- but perhaps at a deep discount.

In fact, the bargaining has already begun, two analysts said.

China, the largest buyer of Iranian oil, has sharply reduced its imports from Iran over the past two months.

But it hasn't been in sympathy with U.S. efforts to pressure Iran on its nuclear efforts. Rather, China believes it can negotiate a lower price.

"This isn't about Beijing trying to be a good actor," said Trevor Houser, a partner at the international economics research firm Rhodium Group. "The Chinese are trying to get a better price on what is now a distressed asset."

Iran finds its oil in a state of distress thanks to tightening sanctions imposed by the United States, Britain and anticipated moves from the European Union.

As Iran loses customers, remaining clients like China can ask for a discount oil price. Read More

Expert Blames Privileged Groups for China's Wealth Gap

Pirate loot aids Somali economy, report finds

Somali pirates are not building palaces with swimming pools with the ransoms they collect from international shipping companies and hostages, but they are helping the local economy, a new report finds.

"There is a very clear trickle-down effect," said author Anja Shortland, of Brunel University in the United Kingdom, who based her conclusion on everything from satellite pictures to local cattle prices.

High-resolution satellite imagery shows construction in the inland towns of Garowe and Bosasso, including radio towers, walls and new buildings, she said.

She's not seeing much construction on the coast itself, she said.

"There are no light emissions on the coastal villages. But the settlements inland ... that's probably where the money is going," she said of the estimated hundreds of millions of dollars Somali pirates have claimed in the past several years. Read More

Does skyscraper boom herald economic doom?

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. That's the tenet behind the Skyscraper Index which tracks a link between construction booms of tall buildings and economic busts over the past 140 years.

Some say the facts are bizarrely coincidental. Others say the numbers don’t lie. But if true, the latest Skyscraper Index report from Barclays Capital suggests both China and India are due for economic doom because of their current skyscraper boom.

In no mincing of words, BarCap adds that China is the world’s “biggest bubble builder.”

The country already has half the world’s existing buildings higher than 240 meters – the minimum height for skyscrapers.

But China is not stopping there. It’ll add another 66 in the next six years. That’ll nearly double its current collection from 75 to 141. You see, China has 53% of the 124 skyscrapers currently under construction around the world. (And if you think they can’t do it, think again. China has challenged itself to put up a 30-story building in just 15 days. It’s set to open January 18.) Read More

No deal in Nigeria as protests widen



Negotiations between labor unions and the Nigerian government ended late Thursday without an agreement to restore fuel subsidies, and a union official expressed resolve, in the absence of an accord, to halt oil production in the eighth-largest petroleum-exporting nation.

The talks, which are to resume Saturday, got under way after the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria threatened to stop production if the government did not reverse its decision to scrap fuel subsidies and lower the cost of fuel to its previous level, union official Folorunso Oginni told CNN.

"Now that the federal government has decided to be callous-minded, we hereby direct all production platforms to be on red alert in preparation for total production shutdown," the union said Thursday. Read More

Half A Million Children In The UK 'Unhappy'



At least half a million children in the UK are unhappy with their lives, according to a survey.

The Good Childhood Report 2012 revealed that 9% of school children aged between eight and 15 are miserable.

The survey found that the levels of unhappiness increased dramatically with age, tripling between the ages of eight and 15.

The Children's Society said unhappy children are more likely to be victimised at school, have eating disorders or suffer from depression.

The study that saw experts analyse the interviews of 30,000 school children in England found that having a loving family and a stable home life were key to increasing well-being. Read More

4.2 Magnitude Earthquake OFFSHORE TARAPACA, CHILE - 15th Jan 2012

A magnitude 4.2 earthquake has struck offshore Tarapaca, Chile at a depth of 42.2 km (26.2 miles), the quake hit at 23:51:10 UTC Sunday 15th January 2012
The epicenter was 43 km (26 miles) WSW of Iquique, Tarapaca, Chile
No Tsunami Warning Issued - No Reports of Damage or Injuries at this time.