In regards to global warming, take my word for this: the end-game is China. What China does (or does not do) is what will shape the rest of the world in the years to come.
China, with its enormous economy, is a net-energy importer. As such, they are making deals hand-over fist with literally anyone who can supply them with energy, even if they are far away from them, i.e. Canadian tar sands.
A great coal rush is under way across China on a scale not seen anywhere since the 19th century.
Its consequences have been detected half a world away in toxic clouds so big that they can seen from space, drifting across the Pacific to California laden with microscopic particles of chemicals that cause cancer and diseases of the heart and lung.
Nonetheless, the Chinese plan to build no fewer than 500 new coal-fired power stations, adding to some 2,000, most of them unmodernised, that spew smoke, carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere.
They have a toxic cloud so big that it can even be seen from space, and what to they do? Build more power plants, specifically coal-powered plants, which are even more toxic. Coal is used because it is cheap and plentiful (thus far that is) but as mentioned it is horribly toxic. It is used because oil is peaking throughout the world, and China - along with the rest of the world - is in a frantic scramble for oil.
China had a hot and disastrous year in 2006, with average temperatures the highest since 1951, state media reported Sunday.
Xinhua News Agency said temperatures were on average 1 degree higher than in normal years. Meteorological officials were quoted as saying there was less rain than normal, down 16 millimeters (half an inch) from an average year.
Violence against aid workers reached its highest level in a decade in 2006, as conflict escalated in Sudan’s western Darfur region, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, new figures show.
There were 90 major incidents in 2006, compared with 72 in 2005 and 66 in 2004, according to New York University’s Center on International Cooperation (CIC) and Britain’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI), which have measured violence directed at aid operations since 1997.
[…]Over the year, 83 aid workers were killed - the highest number since 2003 - 78 were wounded and 52 kidnapped. Afghanistan had the greatest number of aid worker deaths at 26, followed by Sri Lanka with 23 and Sudan with 15.
With what’s going on in the Middle East, folks would think that Iraq accounts for a large share of attacks, but this is incorrect:
Sudan accounted for over 40 percent of major attacks in 2006. Recent weeks have seen a spate of raids on aid agency compounds and vehicles in Darfur, where conflict has uprooted some 2.5 million people.
Yeah right, like if I’m going to link to the real video. You can get your “war porn” elsewhere - it was bad when he killed people, and it is bad to derive some sense of happiness from watching him hang. So have some fun instead… it’s Christmas.
I’m glad he’s gone, but actually I would have him alive - yes alive. You know why? Because George Bush the elder, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney (through Halliburton) were waist-deep in shady businesses with him. What do prosecutors do when they get a big fish? Have them squeal the other big fishes. I’m sure Saddam was willing to offer plenty of incriminating documents in order to save his neck…
This is from Democratic Underground - the list is hilarious and quite comprehensive - and for rounding out a list of the stupid things Bush says to just 50 is deserving of a prize:
50. “I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn’t here.” —at the President’s Economic Forum in Waco, Texas, Aug. 13, 2002
49. “We spent a lot of time talking about Africa, as we should. Africa is a nation that suffers from incredible disease.” —Gothenburg, Sweden, June 14, 2001
48. “You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.” —Townsend, Tenn., Feb. 21, 2001
47. “We both use Colgate toothpaste.” —after a reporter asked what he had in common with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Camp David, Md., Feb. 23, 2001
46. “Tribal sovereignty means that; it’s sovereign. I mean, you’re a — you’ve been given sovereignty, and you’re viewed as a sovereign entity. And therefore the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities.” —Washington, D.C., Aug. 6, 2004
45. “I glance at the headlines just to kind of get a flavor for what’s moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves.” —Washington, D.C., Sept. 21, 2003
44. “I’m the commander — see, I don’t need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being president.” —as quoted in Bob Woodward’s Bush at War
43. “I am here to make an announcement that this Thursday, ticket counters and airplanes will fly out of Ronald Reagan Airport.” —Washington, D.C., Oct. 3, 2001
42. “The war on terror involves Saddam Hussein because of the nature of Saddam Hussein, the history of Saddam Hussein, and his willingness to terrorize himself.” —Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 29, 2003
41. “I saw a poll that said the right track/wrong track in Iraq was better than here in America. It’s pretty darn strong. I mean, the people see a better future.” —Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2004
40. “Oh, no, we’re not going to have any casualties.” —discussing the Iraq war with Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson, as quoted by Robertson
Whenever critics complain about the high cost of prescription drugs, the pharmaceutical industry’s standard defense is that companies have to plow so much money into researching innovative new medicines. But a recently released report from the Government Accountability Office casts doubt on that rationale. Yes the industry is spending heavily on R&D, the GAO found, but it turns out big pharma isn’t actually generating such a good return on their investments.
The congressional watchdog agency’s 48-page study came up with disturbing numbers. From 1993-2004, spending by U.S. drug companies on research and development jumped 147%, from $16 billion to nearly $40 billion annually. But the number of applications the pharmaceutical firms submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for potentially groundbreaking new drugs during that 10-year period increased only a meager 7%. And since 1995, the applications for these innovative drugs have been dropping each year. “The productivity of research and development investments has declined,” the GAO concluded.
The pouty Bratz dolls so popular as Christmas presents are made at a factory in southern China where workers are obliged to toil up to 94 hours a week, among other violations, a labour rights group said in a report released Friday.
The report by U.S.-based China Labour Watch and the National Labour Committee details allegations of harsh working conditions, especially during peak delivery months, and of violations of workers’ rights to injury and health insurance.
That’s 94 hours of work a week! And as you can guess, none of these workers has a trust fund. In fact, they get paid 51.5 cents an hour.
The report by China Labour Watch and the National Labour Committee is available here and let me tell you, it is more damning than a sperm-stained blue dress. They included everything, and I mean everything in the report - including pictures of the “cheat sheets” given to the workers in order to fool labor monitors!
And what about the workers? Well, they are definitely protesting, but unfortunately their bosses are not listening:
There was already a strike in June 2006, when workers who had more than ten years employment at the Hua Tai factory walked out demanding that the management pay their health insurance and pension as is required by law. The workers wanted to march to the local labor bureau to present their just demands, but were blocked and prevented from doing so by the Nanling Village public security forces.
[…]Now management is demanding that every worker quit and wait out one month before returning as a “new” worker, who will be given a temporary contract limited to less than eight months. Already some workers are being kept on month-to-month contracts.
There’s going to be another strike on January 2007, so watch this space.
There is another dirty little secret behind the Bratz dolls—a secret that MGA, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us do not want us to know: It’s that the workers in China are paid just 17 cents for each doll they assemble, and that the total cost to produce the doll is $3.01. When the Bratz dolls enter the U.S., the companies mark the price up by 428 percent—another $12.88—and retail the dolls for at least $15.89. It’s a good deal for the companies and a very bad deal for the young workers in China, and—for more than one reason—for parents and children across the United States and Europe.
They even made a video of Bratz Yasmin and Cloe discussing their life at the factory, which is hilarious (note I said hilarious, and not “professional” but then again making videos is not in their job description)
* Routine 13 ½ to 15 1/2 –hour shifts, seven days a week. * Workers at the factory 94 ½ hours a week. * Paid just 51 ½ cents an hour and $4.13 a day. * Workers denied work injury and health insurance, in direct violation of China’s law. * Taking a sick day results in loss of three days’ wages. * Workers failing to meet their production goals must remain working—unpaid—until the target is met. * Workers are not allowed paid days off to get married. * Ten workers share a small dorm room, sleeping on metal bunk beds. There is no shower or TV. * If a worker breaks a doll, she is docked five hours’ wages. * Before the gullible Wal-Mart auditors arrive, the workers are provided a Cheat Sheet with a list of the “correct” answers, which they must memorize. * Now the factory wants to fire every worker and then bring them back as temporary workers with contracts limited to just one to eight months—which will strip them of any legal rights they have. The workers are planning to strike in January 2007. * The workers are paid just 17 cents for each Bratz doll they assemble. * The total cost of production for a Bratz doll made in China is $3.01. When the doll enters the U.S., the companies mark up the cost by another 428 percent, adding $12.88, for a retail price of $15.89.
Don’t let these assholes get away with this. Drop them a note and tell ‘em who sent you while you are at it.
Company contact information:
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Lee Scott, CEO 702 SW 8th Street Bentonville, Arkansas 72716 Phone: 479-273-4000 Email Wal-Mart
Toys R Us, Inc. Gerald L. Storch, Chairman and CEO One Geoffrey Way Wayne, New Jersey 07470-2030 Phone: 973-617-3500 Email Toys R Us
MGA Entertainment Isaac Larian, CEO 16380 Roscoe Blvd., Suite 200 Van Nuys, CA 91406 Phone: 818-894-2525 Email MGA
An ancient ice shelf has cracked off northern Ellesmere Island, creating an enormous 66-square-kilometre ice island and leaving a trail of icy blocks in its wake.
“It really is incredible,” said Warwick Vincent of Universite Laval, one of the few people to have laid eyes on the scene. “It’s like a cruise missile has come down and hit the ice shelf.”
The breakup was so powerful, earthquake monitors 250 kilometres away picked up the tremors as the 3,000- to 4,500-year-old shelf tore away from its fjord on Ellesmere.
It broke up 16 months ago, but no one was present to see it. The scientists say they are only now making public details after piecing together what occurred using seismic monitors and Canadian and U.S. satellites.
They say the ice shelf collapse, suspected to have been caused by global warming, is the biggest in Canada in 30 years and is indicative of the transformation under way on Ellesmere, Canada’s most northern land mass.
Do the Great Lakes have to run dry before the U.S. realizes global warming is real?
Casual About Casual Ties Award — Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch
Echoing an Iraq war talking-point heard regularly on Fox News, owner Murdoch said on the eve of the November election: “The death toll, certainly of Americans there, by the terms of any previous war are quite minute.” As FAIR noted, U.S. deaths in Iraq exceed those in the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American War, not to mention the combined U.S. deaths of all this country’s other military actions since Vietnam — including Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, the first Gulf War, Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
“Prove You’re Not a Traitor” Prize — CNN’s Glenn Beck
In November, Beck — an Islamophobic host on CNN Headline News — launched into his interview with Congressman-elect Keith Ellison, a Muslim American, this way: “I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, ‘Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.’” Beck then added: “And I know you’re not. I’m not accusing you of being an enemy, but that’s the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way.” Is it possible that primetime bigots like CNN’s Beck have something to do with the prejudices “that a lot of Americans feel”?
Almost four years after conflict broke out in Darfur, calls are being made for greater efforts to resolve the predicament in this western region of Sudan.
During an event marking International Human Rights Day Dec. 8, outgoing United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan reiterated that the world can, and must intensify the drive to address violence in Darfur.
Renewed fighting has been taking place in the region over the past two months, and aid agencies warn that this is causing thousands of civilians to flee into mountainous areas where they are cut off from assistance. Sudan’s government has clashed with a coalition of rebels that failed to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement in May 2006 in the Nigerian capital, Abuja — the National Redemption Front.
Why does the world continue to ignore Darfur? The whole world has plenty of evidence of a genocide in Darfur, yet where are they? In Iraq. Talk about priorities. To put some of this in context, Osama bin Laden was LIVED and OPERATED in Somalia for years before 9/11.
More U.S. troops are expected to be deployed in Iraq in the New Year. Despite obvious rethinking, there is no decision on withdrawal of occupation forces.
The presence of troops may be raised just for their own protection. According to a Pentagon report, U.S. and Iraqi forces are facing close to 1,000 attacks a week now. U.S. forces comprise more than 90 percent of the “coalition of the willing” in Iraq.
According to the White House, 49 countries joined that coalition at the time of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. That number has shrunk to 32, after countries like Italy and Canada withdrew troops this year.
Britain is expected to withdraw its 7,500 troops next year, after pulling out 1,300 earlier this year.
Yeah, that’s the spirit. Lets send in MORE troops and everything will magically be solved! How about addressing some of the real problems?
Sunnis are concerned how far U.S. forces will take that tilt next year. “They (the U.S. military) lifted their checkpoints around Sadr City in Baghdad saying it was ordered by Maliki,” Mahmood said. “Yet, when it comes to our Sunni areas they increased killing of innocent civilians.”
Most of the victims of death squads are Sunnis, whose bodies are found on the streets of Baghdad every day. Many bodies show signs of torture, particularly holes drilled into them, and wounds and deformation caused by acid.
U.S. forces ignore such killings, and carry out their own, in moves to crush Sunni resistance. And they are looking for reinforcements to carry out this job. Since the middle of December, the Bush Administration has been discussing sending an additional 20,000-50,000 troops to Iraq in a “temporary” move. There are currently 141,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, with at least 5,000 U.S. “advisors”.