Donnerstag, 3. August 2006

How Not to Vietnamize Iraq

Comparing "Vietnamization" to "Iraqification," Judith Coburn writes: "One of the great, failed, unspeakably cynical, blood-drenched policies of the Vietnam era, whose carnage I witnessed as a reporter in Cambodia and Vietnam, was being dusted off for our latest disaster of an imperial war. Some kind of brutal regression was upon us. It was the return of the repressed or reverse evolution."

Administration, Congress Eye "Liberation" of Cuba

The White House and Congress, caught unaware by Fidel Castro's illness, prepared Wednesday for a possible showdown in Cuba as lawmakers drafted legislation that would give millions of dollars to dissidents who fight for democratic change.

Top Military Lawyers Oppose Plan for Special Courts

The military's top uniformed lawyers, appearing at a Senate hearing yesterday, criticized key provisions of a proposed new US plan for special military courts, affirming that they did not see eye to eye with the senior Bush administration political appointees who developed the plan and presented it to them last week.

Army Raises Enlistment Age to 42

The Army has begun training the oldest recruits in its history, the result of a concerted effort to fill ranks depleted during the Iraq war. In June, five months after it raised the enlistment age limit from 35 to just shy of 40, the Army raised it to just under 42.

Guantanamo Detainees May Remain Indefinitely

US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the US government could "indefinitely" hold foreign 'enemy combatants' at sites like the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Strong-Arming the Vote

"The Justice Department is giving the impression that it is less concerned that elections be lawful and fair than that they come out a particular way," writes the New York Times Editorial Board.

Signing Off on a Constitutional Crisis

"This is the way it's supposed to work: A law makes its way through both houses of Congress and lands on the president's desk. He signs it and it's the law. Or he vetoes it and the veto can be overturned by a super-majority of Congress," write Barb Guy. "Those were the days. It's no longer that simple. President Bush doesn't even inform Congress when a signing statement precedes his signature."

British Ambassador Gives Dire Prediction on Iraq

Britain's outgoing ambassador to Iraq has advised his government that the country is more likely headed to "low intensity civil war" and sectarian partition than to a stable democracy.

Fly the Flag, Forget the Dead

Carlos Arredondo spends most of his days traveling up and down the East Coast with a flag-draped coffin. He takes it to parades and protests, schools and state fairs. Today it's in front of the Russell Senate Building, next to 78 pair of combat boots representing the number of US troops killed since June 15, when Congress voted to "stay the course" in Iraq.

Residents unhappy with phone mast plan

AN application for a phone mast in West Watford has prompted opposition from residents.

T-Mobile is proposing to install one on the roof of Rembrandt House in Whippendell Road, directly opposite the home of Dr Claire Scott and David Scott.

The couple, who live in Oakhurst Place, say the mast will be unsightly, and suggest T-Mobile shares the Vodaphone antenna already on Rembrandt House, or one of the other installations in the area instead.

They also suggest that masts could be concealed in the roof of the building, as the T-Mobile installation at the Shell garage, in Rickmansworth Road, appears to have been.

They also raised concerns about the mast's impact on health.

Chairman of the council's planning committee, Councillor Alan Burtenshaw said the installation of the mast could be blocked on aesthetic grounds, if it was thought to be visually intrusive.

He said however, the council had lost a planning appeal after opposing a mast on health grounds, because there is no proof they are detrimental to people's health.

Omega this is not true. See under:

He said: "The situation is that, whereas most people like being able to use mobile phones, they don't like the masts that go with them."

He said building owners can decide not to have masts on their property, just as the council has decided not to have any on the Town Hall, because it is a locally listed building.

The planning application is expected to come before the council's planning committee in September.

Readers interested in the location of mobile phone masts can visit, to see where local masts are.

T-Mobile were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

© Copyright 2001-2006 Newsquest Media Group

Beinahe-Unfall im schwedischen Atomkraftwerk Forsmark-1

Vier Atomkraftwerke abgeschaltet: Beinahe-Unfall im schwedischen Atomkraftwerk Forsmark-1 (03.08.06)

Im schwedischen Atomkraftwerk Forsmark-1 ist es am 26. Juli offenbar beinahe zu einem Unfall gekommen. Wie die atomkritische Ärzteorganisation IPPNW mitteite, führte nach den bislang vorliegenden Informationen ein Lichtbogen und ein Kurzschluss außerhalb des Vattenfall-Atomkraftwerks dazu, dass es zu einer Trennung des Kraftwerks vom Stromnetz kam. Danach sei es auch zum Versagen der Stromversorgung des Atomkraftwerks durch den kraftwerks-eigenen Generator gekommen. Damit sei "der gefürchtete Notstromfall" eingetreten, so dass die Stromversorgung der wichtigsten Sicherheitssysteme durch die Notstromdiesel-Aggregate hätten gewährleistet werden müssen. Zwei Dieselaggregate seien allerdings nicht automatisch angesprungen, da es in der Kraftwerkssteuerung zu so genannten Überspannungen gekommen sei. Lars-Olov Höglund, der als langjähriger Chef der Konstruktionsabteilung des schwedischen Vattenfall-Konzerns für deren Atomkraftwerk in Forsmark zuständig war und den Reaktor gut kennt, kommentierte: "Es war ein reiner Zufall, dass es zu keiner Kernschmelze kam." Wäre der Reaktor nur sieben Minuten länger nicht unter Kontrolle gewesen, wäre die Katastrophe laut Höglund nicht mehr aufzuhalten gewesen. "Das ist die gefährlichste Geschichte seit Harrisburg und Tschernobyl", erklärte er am Mittwoch im Stockholmer Svenska Dagbladet. Die IPPNW verweist auf einen Notstromfall im deutschen Atomkraftwerk Biblis B, der "Parallelen" zu den Geschehnissen in Schweden aufweise.

Die ganze Nachricht im Internet:


The first step for organic consumers to make long-term positive changes, is to know where our elected public officials and their challengers stand on the key issues of health, justice, and sustainability. After we know where they stand, we'll know who deserves our support and who needs to be removed from office. Next week, in conjunction with our lobbying ally, the Organic Consumers Fund (OCF), we will email you the Organic Consumers 2006 Political Candidate Survey. This Survey will help you identify candidates seeking office in 2006 who are willing to shift government resources from our current self-destructive path toward a healthy, greener and re-localized economy, a stabilized climate, a more democratic media and electoral process, and peace and justice--with organic agriculture and Fair Trade leading the way.

The Organic Consumers Candidate Survey will tell us who supports the following New Directions:

* Adequate funds for American farmers to make the transition to organic

* Universal health care with a focus on prevention, complementary medicine, and good nutrition

* 80% greenhouse gas reductions

* Increased access for low-income communities to organic information and food

* Internet freedom

* Publicly funded elections, and a guaranteed paper trail for electronic voting

* A thorough re-localization and greening of the economy, transferring funds from the current annual $500 billion military budget

For a sneak preview of the 2006 Candidate Survey, click here: If you are willing to help us circulate this Candidate Survey via email to the campaign organizations of politicians in your area and state (including Congressional candidates) please email us here:

Anger as mobile mast goes ahead

By Chris Johnson

RESIDENTS are furious after the Government vetoed a council's decision to reject the installation of a phone mast.

Greenwich Council twice declined phone company T-Mobile's application to install an 11.7m 3G mast in Rochester Way, Eltham.

But the phone giant appealed against the council's decision last year and now the Government's Planning Inspectorate has approved the application.

Residents and councillors are concerned the mast will be an eyesore next to Oxleas Woods a site of special scientific interest.

The council received letters of objection in response to both proposals, which were submitted in April and then August last year.

Chris Rusher, of Crookston Road, says the Planning Inspectorate did not listen to residents' views in making its decision.

He said: "It's shocking not just our objections but also Greenwich Council's decisions seem to have been completely ignored.

"I am also deeply concerned as my wife is pregnant and it's a worry a developing child will have to needlessly live about 100m from this mast."

Conservative Eltham north Councillor Spencer Drury has been fighting the proposal since the first application.

He said: "This mast is being built at the bottom of green, beautiful land and it will undoubtedly spoil it.

"The council knew this wasn't right for the area so how can it be some faceless inspector can allow this to happen?"

Eltham MP Clive Efford has written to T-Mobile demanding a meeting to see if the company will move the mast's position eastwards so it is hidden behind trees.

Greenwich Council says it will not appeal the Planning Inspectorate's decision.

The Planning Inspectorate's inspector, Jonathan Bore, said the application had been approved to "remedy a shortfall in 3G coverage" and said the impact on Oxleas Woods would "not be significant".

He added: "I have considered all the representations and all the matters raised by the objectors. I consider the proposed scheme is entirely acceptable on its own merits."

T-Mobile was unavailable for comment.

© Copyright 2001-2006 Newsquest Media Group

Intense Heat Begets Intense Smog

As July temperatures soared, the number of unhealthy days did too from coast to coast. Southern California had the worst air quality.

By Janet Wilson
Times Staff Writer
August 3, 2006,1,2599988.story

July's scorching heat wave created a "blanket of smog" from California to Maine, with the number of unhealthy days up from last year in 38 states, according to data compiled by a watchdog group.

Public health standards for ozone smog were exceeded more than 1,000 times at official air pollution monitors last month, according to Clean Air Watch. The trend could continue this week with record-breaking temperatures in many parts of the country.

"California by far has had the worst air quality. But we are even seeing problems at some unusual places — a lot in Colorado, some in Washington state and Oregon, even Martha's Vineyard," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, which had volunteers review government data.

Southern California once again had the highest smog levels in the nation. The worst single day — an average of 142 parts per billion — was July 25 at Crestline in the San Bernardino Mountains. The worst single hour, at
175 ppb, was on July 22 in Glendora.

The federal government has set safe limits at 85 ppb; California has a tougher standard of 70 ppb. Above those levels, senior citizens, infants, asthma sufferers and others can experience serious health problems, according to scientific studies.

"This is not a freak thing. This is a horrifically hot summer … and it's hazardous to your health," said William Becker, executive director of a national association of local air quality officials. "The conditions for creating smog and unhealthy air are extremely ripe … and it's vitally important EPA take swift and aggressive actions, including regulating locomotives and marine vessels … which in the next 10 or 15 years are going to be the predominant source of smog."

Air quality advocates said the heat wave was perfect for producing peak smog levels, and they warned that reductions in smog in past decades could be eroded by global warming.

Ozone is a colorless pollutant formed when heat and sunlight "cook" nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds from vehicles and industrial sources.

"Long-term we have made improvements … but this heat wave and the accompanying smog is a very graphic reminder that we still have a significant problem," O'Donnell said. "Unless we start getting serious about global warming, predicted temperature increases in global temperatures could mean continued smog problems in the future. And that will mean more asthma attacks, disease and death." EPA spokesman John Millett did not dispute the survey findings, although he noted that the group analyzed raw data from government monitors that still needed to be verified.

"We've had some awful, hot weather," he said, with conditions "some of the worst we've seen for the formation of ozone in a number of years."

But Millett said, "If we'd experienced these same conditions 10 years ago, we would be having much more severe air quality problems…. Ozone pollution concentrations have declined about 20% since 1980" due to regulation of power plants, car fuel and other measures.

He said even if temperatures continued to rise in coming years, new programs to control emissions from diesel trucks and farming equipment, and requiring cleaner diesel fuel would help reduce smog levels further.

He said a new rule to regulate marine vessels and locomotives was expected by year's end, and added that technological challenges in developing equipment had delayed its implementation.

Sam Atwood, spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said the agency needed as much help as possible from the federal government to reach legal smog levels by a 2021 deadline.

He said Crestline often experiences the state's highest smog levels because it catches ozone from across the Los Angeles Basin as it is blown inland by marine breezes and trapped by the mountains.

Glendora, he said, "is a bit more of a throwback." He noted that the city had high smog levels in the 1990s, but since fuels had been improved, it usually took longer for fumes to swirl through hot air to form smog — meaning smog now usually develops farther inland. He said he didn't know why the city would have had the highest hourly reading last month.

Other major metropolitan areas with high smog days included New York; Philadelphia; Washington; Baltimore; Atlanta; Denver; Dallas; Houston; Salt Lake City; San Diego; Sacramento; St. Louis; New Haven, Conn.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; and Baton Rouge, La.

[foto] The Eastern Seaboard and parts of the Midwest broiled Wednesday under excessive heat that strained power grids and taxed patience. Lifeguards sit above a sea of umbrellas on the beach at Coney Island, where New Yorkers fled to escape temperatures of 102 degrees (Jason Decrow / AP) August 2, 2006

Informant: binstock

Glacier melt rate a surprise

Ice in Southeast vanishing twice as fast as expected

The glaciers of Southeast Alaska are shrinking twice as quickly as scientists had previously estimated, according to a new study.

The findings from Fairbanks and Juneau glaciologists are slated for publication in a leading scientific journal.

During a 52-year period, the Panhandle lost ice in 95 percent of its glacier-covered areas, said Roman Motyka, of Juneau, one of the study's co-authors.

The scientists participating in the study pinpointed the amount of ice loss by analyzing changes in the elevation of Southeast Alaska's glaciers between 1948 and 2000.

Their measurements show Southeast Alaska lost an average of roughly 14.6 cubic kilometers of ice per year during that time period.

A cubic kilometer roughly equates to 264 billion gallons of water - about a quarter more than Los Angeles consumes in one year, according to estimates by NASA.

"It's a pretty substantial loss of ice," Motyka said, noting the melting of Panhandle glaciers raised global sea levels by roughly 0.4 millimeters per year. In all of the years combined, Panhandle ice loss caused the world's oceans to rise roughly 2.4 millimeters, according to the study.

Scientists involved in the study said this week the Panhandle's ice reservoirs have retreated more drastically during the past couple of years.

The study's lead author, Chris Larsen, also of the Geophysical Institute, plans further measurements this month at Panhandle glaciers, ranging from Petersburg's Stikine Icefield to the St. Elias Mountain Range.

Scientists aren't the only ones noticing the wastage of most of the Panhandle's glaciers.

Juneau residents and tourists visit the retreating Mendenhall Glacier daily. Some of the most dramatic ice losses in the Panhandle are underway at lake-terminating glaciers, such as the Mendenhall, fed by the Juneau Icefield, according to the study.

"I just few over the Juneau Icefield three days ago. I was absolutely shocked by how dry and shrunken it looked," said Nick Jans, a Juneau author, on Tuesday.

Further to the south, the amount of ice loss at Tracy Arm's South Sawyer Glacier is "not even conceivable," said Juneau photographer Mark Kelley.

Kelley has photographed the glacier for the past 25 years and recently collaborated with Jans on a 40-page book about Tracy Arm's glaciers. In
2004, the South Sawyer Glacier retreated approximately one-half mile, clogging the water with icebergs.

"Just think about that volume. The glacier was 1,100 feet thick and a mile across," Kelley said.

Motyka is concerned a runaway process - initially triggered by climate warming but now controlled by glacial calving dynamics - may already be underway in Southeast Alaska.

More of the same could be in store for world's other coastal glaciers, he said.

"We have a lot of ice (in Southeast Alaska), but Greenland has more," Motyka said.

In Greenland, Motyka and other Geophysical Institute scientists are attempting to learn how dramatic loss of ice at the base of a large tidewater glacier, the Jakobshavn, is affecting the ice sheet at the top.

"I worry that these (tidewater) glaciers will bring down the ice sheet, no matter what happens with climate," Motyka said.

"If Greenland goes unstable, a lot more water will be going into the ocean. This could cause problems with ocean currents," Motyka explained.

The Panhandle study - now under review by third-party scientists - is the first to measure ice loss at all major Panhandle glaciers.

The study measured changes in glacial elevation at 74 individual glaciers. "It's total coverage," Larsen said.

A previous study, published in 2002, profiled ice loss at 12 glaciers in Southeast Alaska. When those results were extrapolated to the rest of the Panhandle, the result was a significant underestimate of regional ice loss, Motyka said.

The new study was enabled by a 2000 NASA Endeavour space shuttle project called the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mission. Among other duties, the shuttle mission produced a new three-dimensional radar map of Southeast Alaska.

Motyka and his colleagues collected the NASA maps and compared them to topographical maps and high-resolution photographs of Southeast Alaska dating back to 1948.

After final revision, a paper describing the Panhandle study will be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Elizabeth Bluemink can be reached at

[foto] Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire A landmark in retreat: Tourists, above, look Tuesday at the Mendenhall Glacier, which has retreated about three quarters of a mile since the summer of 1982, shown below. The glacier partially covered Nugget Falls 24 years ago. A new study shows glaciers in Southeast Alaska are shrinking twice as fast as previously estimated.

Informant: binstock

Summer Nights Heating Up, Scientists Say

The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 2, 2006; 7:10 PM

WASHINGTON -- America in recent years has been sweltering through three times more than its normal share of extra-hot summer nights, government weather records show. And that is a particularly dangerous trend.

During heat waves, like the one that now has a grip on much of the East, one of the major causes of heat deaths is the lack of night cooling that would normally allow a stressed body to recover, scientists say.

Some scientists say the trend is a sign of manmade global warming.

A top federal research meteorologist said he "almost fell out of my chair" when he looked over U.S. night minimum temperature records over the past
96 years and saw the skyrocketing trend of hot summer nights.

From 2001 to 2005, on average nearly 30 percent of the nation had "much above normal" average summertime minimum temperatures, according to the National Climatic Data in Asheville, N.C.

By definition, "much above normal" means low temperatures that are in the highest 10 percent on record. On any given year about 10 percent of the country should have "much above normal" summer-night lows.

Yet in both 2005 and 2003, 36 percent of the nation had much above normal summer minimums. In 2002 it was 37 percent. While the highest-ever figure was in the middle of America's brutal Dust Bowl, when 41 percent of the nation had much above normal summer-night temperatures, the rolling five-year average of 2001-05 is a record - by far.

Figures from this year's sweltering summer have not been tabulated yet, but they are expected to be just as high as recent years.

And it is not just the last five years. Each of the past eight years has been far above the normal 10 percent. During the past decade, 23 percent of the nation has had hot summer nights. During the past 15 years, that average has been 20 percent. By comparison, from 1964 to 1968 only 2 percent of the country on average had abnormally hot nights.

"This is unbelievable," said National Climatic Data Center research meteorologist Richard Heim. "Something strange has happened in the last 10 to 15 years on the minimums."

But it is not surprising because climate models, used to forecast global warming, have been predicting this trend for more than 20 years, said Jerry Mahlman, a climate scientist at National Center for Atmospheric Research and a top federal climate modeler.

It is a telltale sign of global warming, Mahlman said: "The smoking gun is still smoking; it's not shooting people yet."

One reason global warming is suspected in summer-night temperatures is that daytime air pollution slightly counteracts warming but is not as prevalent at night, said Bill Chameides, a climate scientist for the advocacy group Environmental Defense.

The records for summer-night low temperatures are part of a U.S. Climate Extremes Index developed by the National Climatic Data Center. Last year, in large part because of record hurricane activity, saw the most extreme weather in the United States since 1910.

On the Net:

U.S. Climate Extreme Index:

© 2006 The Associated Press

Informant: binstock

Growing seawater acidity threatens to wipe out coral, fish and other crucial species worldwide

A Chemical Imbalance

By Usha Lee McFarling
Times Staff Writer
August 3, 2006,1,3902653,full.story

As she stared down into a wide-mouthed plastic jar aboard the R/V Discoverer, Victoria Fabry peered into the future.

The marine snails she was studying — graceful creatures with wing-like feet that help them glide through the water — had started to dissolve.

Fabry was taken aback. The button-sized snails, called pteropods, are hardy animals that swirl in dense patches in some of the world's coldest seas. In 20 years of studying the snails, a vital ingredient in the polar food supply, the marine biologist from Cal State San Marcos had never seen such damage.

In a brief experiment aboard the federal research vessel plowing through rough Alaskan seas, the pteropods were sealed in jars. The carbon dioxide they exhaled made the water inside more acidic. Though slight, this change in water chemistry ravaged the snails' translucent shells. After 36 hours, they were pitted and covered with white spots.

The one-liter jars of seawater were a microcosm of change now occurring invisibly throughout the world's vast, open seas.

As industrial activity pumps massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment, more of the gas is being absorbed by the oceans. As a result, seawater is becoming more acidic, and a variety of sea creatures await the same dismal fate as Fabry's pteropods.

The greenhouse gas, best known for accumulating in the atmosphere and heating the planet, is entering the ocean at a rate of nearly 1 million tons per hour — 10 times the natural rate.

Scientists report that the seas are more acidic today than they have been in at least 650,000 years. At the current rate of increase, ocean acidity is expected, by the end of this century, to be 2 1/2 times what it was before the Industrial Revolution began 200 years ago. Such a change would devastate many species of fish and other animals that have thrived in chemically stable seawater for millions of years.

Less likely to be harmed are algae, bacteria and other primitive forms of life that are already proliferating at the expense of fish, marine mammals and corals.

In a matter of decades, the world's remaining coral reefs could be too brittle to withstand pounding waves. Shells could become too fragile to protect their occupants. By the end of the century, much of the polar ocean is expected to be as acidified as the water that did such damage to the pteropods aboard the Discoverer.

Some marine biologists predict that altered acid levels will disrupt fisheries by melting away the bottom rungs of the food chain — tiny planktonic plants and animals that provide the basic nutrition for all living things in the sea.

Fabry, who recently testified on the issue before the U.S. Senate, told policymakers that the effects on marine life could be "direct and profound."

"The potential is there to have a devastating impact," Fabry said, "for the oceans to be very, very different in the near future than they are today."

The oceans have been a natural sponge for carbon dioxide from time immemorial. Especially after calamities such as asteroid strikes, they have acted as a global safety valve, soaking up excess CO2 and preventing catastrophic overheating of the planet.

If not for the oceans, the Earth would have warmed by 2 degrees instead of
1 over the last century, scientists say. Glaciers would be disappearing faster than they are, droughts would be more widespread and rising sea levels would be more pronounced.

When carbon dioxide is added to the ocean gradually, it does little harm. Some of it is taken up during photosynthesis by microscopic plants called phytoplankton. Some of it is used by microorganisms to build shells. After their inhabitants die, the empty shells rain down on the seafloor in a kind of biological snow. The famed white cliffs of Dover are made of this material.

Today, however, the addition of carbon dioxide to the seas is anything but gradual.

Scientists estimate that nearly 500 billion tons of the gas have been absorbed by the oceans since the start of the Industrial Revolution. That is more than a fourth of all the CO2 that humanity has emitted into the atmosphere. Eventually, 80% of all human-generated carbon dioxide is expected to find its way into the sea.

Carbon dioxide moves freely between air and sea in a process known as molecular diffusion. The exchange occurs in a film of water at the surface. Carbon dioxide travels wherever concentrations are lowest. If levels in the atmosphere are high, the gas goes into the ocean. If they are higher in the sea, as they have been for much of the past, the gas leaves the water and enters the air.

If not for the CO2 pumped into the skies in the last century, more of the gas would leave the sea than would enter it.

"We have reversed that direction," said Ken Caldeira, an expert on ocean chemistry and carbon dioxide at the Carnegie Institution's department of global ecology, based at Stanford University.

When carbon dioxide mixes with seawater, it creates carbonic acid, the weak acid in carbonated drinks.

Increased acidity reduces the abundance of the right chemical forms of a mineral called calcium carbonate, which corals and other sea animals need to build shells and skeletons. It also slows the growth of the animals within those shells.

Even slightly acidified seawater is toxic to the eggs and larvae of some fish species. In others, including amberjack and halibut, it can cause heart attacks, experiments show. Acidified waters also tend to asphyxiate animals that require a lot of oxygen, such as fast-swimming squid.

The pH scale, a measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is, ranges from 1 to 14, with 7 being neutral. The lower the pH, the greater the acidity. Each number represents a tenfold change in acidity or alkalinity.

For more than a decade, teams led by Richard Feely, a chemical oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, have traveled from Antarctica to the Aleutian Islands, taking tens of thousands of water samples to gauge how the ocean's acidity is changing.

By comparing these measurements to past levels of carbon dioxide preserved in ice cores, the researchers determined that the average pH of the ocean surface has declined since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution by 0.1 units, from 8.16 to 8.05.

Geological records show that such a change has not occurred in 650,000 years, Feely said.

In April, Feely returned from a cruise to the North Pacific, where he took pH measurements at locations the team first sampled in 1991. This time, Feely's group found that the average pH in surface waters had dropped an additional 0.025 units in 15 years — a relatively large change for such a short time.

The measurements confirm those taken in the 1990s and indicate that forecasts of increased acidity are on target, Feely said.

If CO2 emissions continue at their current pace, the pH of the ocean is expected to dip to 7.9 or lower by the end of the century — a 150% change.

The last time ocean chemistry underwent such a radical transformation, Caldeira said, "was when the dinosaurs went extinct."

Until recently, the ocean was seen as a potential reservoir for greenhouse gases. Scientists explored the possibility that carbon dioxide could be trapped in smokestacks, compressed into a gooey liquid and piped directly into the deep sea.

Then the results of Jim Barry's experiments started trickling in.

A biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, Barry wanted to know what would happen to sea creatures in the vicinity of a large dose of carbon dioxide.

He anchored a set of small plastic rings onto the seafloor to create an enclosure and sent a robot down to squirt liquid carbon dioxide into the surrounding water. Then he waited to see what would happen to animals in the enclosures and those that happened to swim through the CO2 cloud.

Sea stars, sea cucumbers and sea urchins died immediately. Eighty percent of animals within three feet of the carbon dioxide died. Animals 15 feet away also perished in large numbers.

"When they were adjacent to the CO2 plume, pretty much, it killed everything," Barry said.

Experiments in Germany, Norway and Japan produced similar results. The evidence persuaded the U.S. Department of Energy, which had spent $22 million on such research, including Barry's, to pull the plug . Instead, the department will study the possibility of storing carbon dioxide in the ground and on decreasing emissions at their source.

Scientists say the acidification of the oceans won't be arrested unless the output of CO2 from factories, power plants and automobiles is substantially reduced. Even now, the problem may be irreversible.

"One thing we know for certain is it's not going to be a good thing for the ocean," Barry said. "We just don't know how bad it will be."

Scientists predict the effect will be felt first in the polar oceans and at lower depths, because cold water absorbs more carbon dioxide than warm water. One area of immediate concern is the Bering Sea and other waters around Alaska, home to half of the commercial U.S. fish and shellfish catch.

Because of acidification, waters in the Bering Sea about 280 feet down are running short of the materials that corals and other animals need to grow shells and skeletons. These chemical building blocks are normally abundant at such depths. In coming decades, the impoverished zone is expected to reach closer to the surface. A great quantity of sea life would then be affected.

"I'm getting nervous about that," Feely said.

The first victims of acidification are likely to be cold-water corals that provide food, shelter and reproductive grounds for hundreds of species, including commercially valuable ones such as sea bass, snapper, ocean perch and rock shrimp.

By the end of the century, 70% of cold-water corals will be exposed to waters stripped of the chemicals required for sturdy skeletons, said John Guinotte, an expert on corals at the nonprofit Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Bellevue, Wash.

"I liken it to osteoporosis in humans," Guinotte said. "You just can't build a strong structure without the right materials."

Cold-water corals, which thrive in waters as deep as three miles, were discovered only two decades ago. They harbor sponges, which show promise as powerful anti-cancer and antiviral agents; the AIDS drug AZT was formulated using clues from a coral sponge. Scientists fear that these unique ecosystems may be obliterated before they can be fully utilized or appreciated.

Tropical corals will not be affected as quickly because they live in warmer waters that do not absorb as much carbon dioxide. But in 100 years, large tropical reefs — called rain forests of the sea because of their biodiversity — may survive only in patches near the equator.

"Twenty-five percent of all species in the ocean live part of their life cycle on coral reefs. We're afraid we're going to lose these habitats and these species," said Chris Langdon, a coral expert at the University of Miami who has conducted experiments showing that corals grow more slowly when exposed to acidified waters.

Warm-water corals are already dying at high rates as global warming heats oceans and causes corals to "bleach" — lose or expel the symbiotic algae that provide vivid color and nutrients necessary for survival. Pollution, trampling by tourists and dynamiting by fishermen also take a devastating toll. An estimated 20% of the world's corals have disappeared since 1980.

"Corals are getting squeezed from both ends," said Joanie Kleypas, a marine ecologist and coral expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

The question for scientists is whether living things will adapt to acidification. Will some animals migrate to warmer waters that don't lose shell-building minerals as quickly? Will some survive despite the new chemistry? Will complex marine food chains be harmed?

One laboratory experiment showed that a strain of shelled plankton thrived in higher CO2 conditions. But most research has shown that shelled animals and corals stop growing or are damaged.

"We put a lot of faith in the idea that organisms can adapt," Kleypas said, "but organisms have probably not evolved to handle these big changes."

The best analogy to what is occurring today is in the fossil records of a
55-million-year-old event known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, when the Earth underwent one of the most abrupt and extreme global warming events in history.

The average temperature of the planet rose 9 degrees because of an increase in greenhouse gases. Balmy 70-degree days were common in the Arctic. The sudden warming shifted entire ecosystems to higher and cooler latitudes and drove myriad ocean species to extinction.

Geologists agree that a great warming occurred as a result of greenhouse gases, but until recently were uncertain about the volume of gas involved or how much the acidity of the oceans changed.

James Zachos, a paleo-oceanographer at UC Santa Cruz, made an important discovery in 2003 by drilling into seabed sediments more than two miles beneath the ocean's surface. This muck contains layers of microscopic plankton shells. Their chemical composition reveals what ocean conditions were like when they formed.

Zachos' international team analyzed sediments from a series of cores taken from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean 750 miles west of Namibia. At the bottom of the cores, the team found normal sediments, rich in calcium carbonate from shells — the sign of a healthy ocean.

But higher up, at a point in geologic history when the last major global warming event occurred, the whitish, carbonate-rich ooze gave way to a dark red clay layer free of shells. That condition, the researchers concluded, was caused by a highly acidified ocean. This state of affairs lasted for 40,000 or 50,000 years. It took 60,000 years before the ocean recovered and the sediments appeared normal again.

In a paper published last year in the journal Science, Zachos' team concluded that only a massive release of carbon dioxide could have caused both extreme warming and acidification of ocean waters.

Zachos estimated that 4.5 trillion tons of carbon entered the atmosphere to trigger the event.

It could take modern civilization just 300 years to unleash the same quantity of carbon, according to a variety of projections by researchers.

"This will be a much greater shock," Zachos said. "The change in modern surface ocean pH will be much more extreme than it was 55 million years ago."

Times staff writer Kenneth R. Weiss contributed to this report.

Informant: binstock

Altered oceans: a five-part series on the crisis in the seas,0,7842752.special

Informant: binstock

Military Unit Accused of "Racism" and "Kill Counts"

Military prosecutors and investigators probing the killing of three Iraqi detainees by US troops in May believe the unit's commanders created an atmosphere of excessive violence by encouraging "kill counts" and possibly issuing an illegal order to shoot Iraqi men. At a military hearing Wednesday on the killing of the detainees near Samarra, witnesses painted a picture of a brigade that operated under loose rules allowing wanton killing and tolerating violent, anti-Arab racism.

A fight for the party's soul

The Nation
by John Nichols

When the votes are counted on August 8, the whole of the Connecticut primary, and much of the national debate over the direction of the Democratic Party, will be boiled down to a one-line pronouncement. It will either be 'Antiwar challenger trounces Lieberman' or 'Lieberman prevails over war foes.' The reduction of this complex contest to a headline may not be entirely fair, or entirely accurate. Yet it will be understandable, because to the surprise of just about everyone, the man Democrats nominated for Vice President in 2000 is in a fight for his political life with a previously unknown candidate who decided a few months ago to surf the wave of anger stirred by Lieberman's emergence as the loudest Democratic defender of the occupation of Iraq... (for publication 08/14/06)

Informant: Thomas L. Knapp

Corruption's drag on democratic states

Christian Science Monitor
by Christopher Walker & Sanja Tatic


The difficult, ongoing battle to achieve governance that is effective, democratic, and responsive to ordinary citizens faces a particularly pernicious obstacle: entrenched corruption. A source or symptom of wider problems confronting society, corruption is both a barrier to strengthening democratic institutions and harmful to development. And while every country confronts this scourge to one degree or another, for transition countries whose democratic reforms hang in the balance, this is an especially critical challenge. In order to acquire a stronger understanding of the forces at work inhibiting the establishment of democratic governance, Freedom House's study of governance, 'Countries at the Crossroads,' examines 30 strategically important states around the globe that are struggling to consolidate democratic institutions...

Informant: Thomas L. Knapp

Gesundheitsreform 2006: weiterer Ausstieg aus der Parität?

Von ver.di bewertet: Eckpunkte zur Gesundheitsreform

In einer Synopse stellt ver.di die Vorhaben der Bundesregierung dar und gibt eine erste Bewertung ab (pdf)

Siehe dazu das ver.di-Special zur Gesundheitsreform 2006

Nützlicher Lärm

Gesundheitsfonds: Verdi und die Kassen haben den Protest begonnen. Aber er ist noch zu unpolitisch. Artikel von Michael Jäger in Freitag vom 4.8.06

Protest gegen die Gesundheitsreform

Ulla Schmidt hat den Krankenkassen, die öffentlich und gegenüber ihren Mitgliedern Kritik an der Gesundheitsreform äußern will, „aufsichtsrechtliche“ Schritte angedroht. Jeder, der sozialversicherungspflichtig und in einem fest Beschäftigungsverhältnis steht, kann sich hier maßgeblich „unterstützend“ einschalten. Einfach (am Besten brieflich / per Email) der Kasse mitteilen, dass man sie wechselt, falls sie sich dem Diktat der Regierung fügt. Die Mitglieder haben so eine ziemlich gute und legale Möglichkeit “unterstützend“ einzuwirken. Siehe dazu einen Beispielbrief an die Krankenkasse

Aus dem Text: „…ich begrüße es sehr, dass einige Krankenkasse beschlossen haben, die Interessen ihrer Mitglieder auch gegenüber der Regierung zu vertreten und die geplante sog. „Gesundheitsreform“ öffentlich zu kritisieren. (…) Ich kann auch anderen Sozialversicherungspflichtigen nur empfehlen, ihre weitere Mitgliedschaft in der jeweiligen Kasse auch davon abhängig zu machen, ob diese deren Interessen konsequent vertritt. Schließlich handelt es sich bei der geplanten sog. „Gesundheitsreform“ nicht um eine Auseinandersetzung zwischen Regierung und Verwaltung der Kassen, sondern um eine Auseinandersetzung zwischen jetziger Regierung und den Interessen der Krankenkassenmitglieder an einem günstigen und qualitativen Gesundheitswesen. In diesem Sinne, erwarte ich eine konsequente Vertretung meiner Interessen als Versicherter durch meine Krankenkasse – auch gegenüber der derzeit regierenden Politik.“

Zitat zum Thema „Gesundheitsfonds"

Wenn man von den bisherigen Erfahrungen mit Investmentfonds ausgeht, wird die Einrichtung eines Gesundheitsfonds in Deutschland folgende unwesentliche Änderungen bringen: Die Renditeversorgung für Kapitalanleger auf Rezept, die Verlagerung der kompletten ärztlichen Versorgung und der Kliniken nach Polen, China oder Thailand (bei gleichbleibend freier Arztwahl) – und die anschließende endgültige Abwicklung der letzten Reste der sozialen Gesundheitsvorsorge in Deutschland nach spätestens einem Jahr.“ Aus: Deutscher Einheit(z)-Textdienst von Werner Lutz 8/2006

Aus: LabourNet, 3. August 2006

Schwarz-Buch Lidl: Expansiv gegen Menschenrechte

Anton Kobel über das neue ver.di-Schwarzbuch zu Lidl in Europa

Aus: LabourNet, 3. August 2006

On understanding what the government does to us

Drunk on Power: on our rulers

Informant: Lew Rockwell

Whitewashing Hiroshima: on the glorification of American militarism

Tax Cut Makes Women Pay

"House congressional candidates are ready to hit the campaign trail touting their vote in favor of the minimum wage. It's an appealing political strategy: 66 percent of minimum wage earners are women, the voting block that every candidate wants to sway. But this long overdue increase in the minimum wage comes at an unacceptably high price to women and families," writes Linda Basch.

Imbalance of power between the FDA and industry

Dr. Gottlieb Is Not Happy

While discussing on NPR whether government science panels are fair and balanced, Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman described the exchange between Dr. Nissen, chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and Dr. Gottlieb, deputy commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs at the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Nissen blasted Dr. Gottlieb on the "imbalance of power between the FDA and industry."

World's Water Resources Face Mounting Pressure

Global fresh water use tripled during the second half of the twentieth century as the population more than doubled and as technological advances let farmers and other water users pump groundwater from greater depths and harness river water with more and larger dams. As global demand soars, pressures on the world's water resources are straining aquatic systems worldwide.

Unions Say EPA Bends to Political Pressure

Unions representing thousands of staff scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency say the agency is bending to political pressure and ignoring sound science by allowing a group of toxic chemicals to be used in agricultural pesticides.

Cindy Sheehan: Won't You Please Come to Camp Casey

Camp Casey in Crawford is more important than ever, now. Not only has this administration, with the eager approval of Congress, committed genocide on a massive scale, they are taking away our civil rights and our right to be heard and counted. We cannot allow these same leaders who accuse the peace movement of a political agenda to use our soldiers and the babies of Iraq as political game pieces in the folly of elections when there is so much overwhelming evidence that our elections have been compromised, and while election after election is stolen, no one does anything about it. It is up to us all, nobody else," urges Cindy Sheehan.

Rules of Engagement: "Kill All Military-Age Males"

After two internal inquiries evaluating a mission that had taken place in northern Iraq on May 9, Pfc. Corey Clagett and three other soldiers from the 3rd Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division expected to return to their duties without a stain on their characters. Three of the four have since been arrested, accused of premeditated murder, and placed in a US military jail in Kuwait. In their sworn affidavits, the three accused soldiers, along with others in the unit, say they received unusual but unequivocal rules of engagement for the task ahead. They say that they were given repeated and explicit orders to "kill all military-age males."

Clean Air Watch: Infant Deaths Cited by California Researchers

Is US the World's Policeman or an Empire?

Bush is After Our Rights

Pepsi and Coke under fire again

An Indian non-governmental organisation says samples of Coca-Cola and Pepsi products are showing even worse levels of pesticides than in a previous study.

From Information Clearing House

Bush seeks expanded military tribunal role

The White House is seeking legislation that would allow people not affiliated with terrorism to be prosecuted in military commissions -- with far fewer rights than afforded civilians.

From Information Clearing House

Perfect storm brewing in Horn of Africa

Washington decided that the Union of Islamic Courts was a threat, and in February CIA planes delivered large amounts of money and guns to the three warlords who dominated Mogadishu. They named themselves the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, and started trying to suppress the UIC.

America will attack Iran, Syria in October

The former chief of ISI, Maj. Gen (R) Hameed Gul has "predicted" that America would definitely attack Iran and Syria simultaneously in October.

From Information Clearing House

U.S. Army commander investigated in Iraq killing spree

Col. Michael Steele, whose heroics were portrayed in the movie "Black Hawk Down," is under investigation for allegedly encouraging his men to go on a killing spree.

From Information Clearing House

Soldier says comrades threatened him

A U.S. soldier testified Wednesday that four of his colleagues accused of murdering three Iraqis during a raid threatened to kill him if he told anyone about the shooting deaths.

From Information Clearing House

Report to suggest Marines shot unarmed Iraqi women and children

Evidence collected on the deaths of 24 Iraqis in Haditha supports accusations that U.S. Marines deliberately shot the civilians, including unarmed women and children, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.

From Information Clearing House

Stop Putting America's Security at Risk

Sen. Evan Bayh has introduced the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act to increase the use of alternative fuels and cut our dependence on foreign oil.

Despite the widening war in the Mideast - and the heat wave at home - Senate Republicans want to go home without acting on this urgent bill!

I hope you'll sign his petition to call on your Senator to support the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act.

Bob Fertik

Did you know that right now, the U.S. is more dependent on oil from unstable Middle Eastern countries than we were on September 11, 2001?

And as if putting our national security on the line weren't enough, our economic security is at risk with record gas prices on the rise again.

We need a solution to this problem. That is why I have introduced the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act - which will reduce our oil consumption by 2.5 million barrels a day - an amount equal to 100 percent of what we currently import from the Middle East.

But to pass it, I need you help. Can I count on you to help me spread the word and push for passage of this crucial legislation?

Click here to send a message to your U.S. Senators asking them to support the Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act.

It's time to break our dependence on foreign oil and make our country safer and more secure. This energy plan would do just that by:

* Providing incentives for the production of renewable, clean-burning ethanol so that, instead of importing oil from the Middle East, America's farmers will produce America's fuel;

* Speeding development of new fuel-efficient vehicles such as plug-in hybrids, and accelerating the use of advanced lightweight materials in automobiles;

* Offering tax incentives for buying hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles to make them more affordable and accessible to more American families; and

* Requiring the federal vehicle fleet to reduce its overall oil consumption by 30 percent by moving toward alternative fuels like ethanol and bio-diesel.

And it has an added benefit: creating good jobs here in the United States. My bill has strong bi-partisan support with 27 co-sponsors from both parties. But given the importance of this issue, we simply cannot take anything for granted.

Click here to send a message to your Senators today!

Once you've taken action, we'll still need your help. It's important that we recruit the support of as many people as possible to show just how many Americans are demanding a real solution to our energy crisis! Please forward this message to five of your friends and ask them to join us now.

Thank You,

Evan Bayh

Psychologists, Guantanamo, and Torture

Oil Vey: Congress Sides With Big Oil


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