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Is there any point in fighting to stave off industrial apocalypse?

August 19th, 2009


The collapse of civilisation will bring us a saner world, says Paul Kingsnorth. No, counters George Monbiot – we can't let billions perish. Dear George On the desk in front of me is a set of graphs. The horizontal axis of each represents the years 1750 to 2000. The graphs show, variously, population levels, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, exploitation of fisheries, destruction of tropical forests, paper consumption, number of motor vehicles, water use, the rate of species extinction and the totality of the human economy's gross domestic product... in the last inch or so – around 1950 – it veers steeply upwards... The root cause of all these trends is the same: a rapacious human economy bringing the world swiftly to the brink of chaos.

Federal deficit higher in July, $1.27T this year

August 16th, 2009


Record federal deficit climbs higher, $180.7 billion in July, $1.27 trillion so far this year. The federal deficit climbed higher into record territory in July, hitting $1.27 trillion with two months remaining in the budget year. The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the July deficit totaled $180.7 billion, slightly more than the $177.5 billion economists had expected. The Obama administration is projecting that when the current budget year ends on Sept. 30, the imbalance will total $1.84 trillion, more than four times last year's record-high. The soaring deficits have raised worries among foreign owners of U.S. Treasury securities including the Chinese, the largest holder of such debt. Massive amounts of government spending to combat the recession and stabilize the U.S. financial system have pushed the deficit higher. The cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with depleted government tax revenues, also are major factors.

The Pentagon Wants Authority to Post Almost 400,000 Military Personnel in U.S.

August 14th, 2009


The Pentagon has approached Congress to grant the Secretary of Defense the authority to post almost 400,000 military personnel throughout the United States in times of emergency or a major disaster. This request has already occasioned a dispute with the nation’s governors. And it raises the prospect of U.S. military personnel patrolling the streets of the United States, in conflict with the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878. In June, the U.S. Northern Command distributed a "Congressional Fact Sheet" entitled "Legislative Proposal for Activation of Federal Reserve Forces for Disasters." That proposal would amend current law, thereby "authorizing the Secretary of Defense to order any unit or member of the Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Navy Reserve, and the Marine Corps Reserve, to active duty for a major disaster or emergency."

Forty years past Woodstock

August 13th, 2009


I’ll bet you forgot all about it. How a half million kids came together on a 600-acre dairy farm in rural Bethel, New York. Woodstock, the concert lasted from August 15 to 17, 1969, southwest of the town of Woodstock, New York, in Ulster County. And somehow it managed to change our world as well as the history of rock and roll as listed by Rolling Stone.

What’s most impressive is that despite all the reports of rampant drug-taking, 20-mile traffic jams, not enough Porta Johns, and too much rain, the music brought a lack of violence and, more importantly, the kids took incredibly good care of themselves. Two deaths out of 500,000 people were reported, one by heroin overdose, the other of someone all covered up in a sleeping bag in a field, run over by a tractor that didn’t see him. But then, there were two births, amen.

Even though Bob Dylan (a local recluse resident at the time) skipped Woodstock to do a concert on the Isle of Wight, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie, Tim Hardin, Ravi Shankar, Richie Havens, Sly and the Family Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, The Grateful Dead, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Crosby, Stills & Nash (&Young), Santana, Jeff Beck Group, The Band, Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Sha-Na-Na, John Sebastian, Country Joe and the Fish, 32 acts in all, showed up to rock the countryside if not the world.

Sun's protective 'bubble' is shrinking

August 12th, 2009


The protective bubble around the sun that helps to shield the Earth from harmful interstellar radiation is shrinking and getting weaker, Nasa scientists have warned. Data has shown that the sun's heliosphere is shrinking. New data has revealed that the heliosphere, the protective shield of energy that surrounds our solar system, has weakened by 25 per cent over the past decade and is now at it lowest level since the space race began 50 years ago. Scientists are baffled at what could be causing the barrier to shrink in this way and are to launch mission to study the heliosphere. At the boundary where they meet a shock wave is formed that deflects interstellar radiation around the solar system as it travels through the galaxy. The scientists hope the IBEX mission will allow them to gain a better understanding of what happens at this boundary and help them predict what protection it will offer in the future. Without the heliosphere the harmful intergalactic cosmic radiation would make life on Earth almost impossible by destroying DNA and making the climate uninhabitable. Sun Makes History: First Spotless Month in a Century | George Noory with Holly & Stan Deyo part 1-8

"Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously" - Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, health-policy adviser

August 8th, 2009


THE health bills coming out of Congress would put the decisions about your care in the hands of presidential appointees. They'd decide what plans cover, how much leeway your doctor will have and what seniors get under Medicare. Yet at least two of President Obama's top health advisers should never be trusted with that power. Start with Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, "as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others" (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008).

The Expiring Economy

August 6th, 2009


By Paul Craig Roberts Tent cities springing up all over America are filling with the homeless unemployed from the worst economy since the 1930s. While Americans live in tents, the Obama government has embarked on a $1 billion crash program to build a mega-embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, to rival the one the Bush government built in Baghdad, Iraq. Hard times have now afflicted Americans for so long that even the extension of unemployment benefits from 6 months to 18 months for 24 high unemployment states, and to 46 - 72 weeks in other states, is beginning to run out. By Christmas 1.5 million Americans will have exhausted unemployment benefits while unemployment rolls continue to rise.

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