Daily Archives

Greeks protest new austerity measures

PressTV – On the second day of the 48-hour general strike by the Greek unions, demonstrators have gathered outside the parliament in Athens to protest approval of a second austerity bill. Read article

Saudi forces to pull out of Bahrain

PressTV – Around 1,000 Saudi military and police forces were deployed in Bahrain together with forces from the United Arab Emirates in mid-March. The deployment took place upon Bahrain’s request to help Manama crush the popular revolution it has been facing since mid-February. Read article

Iraq rocket attack kills three American soldiers

Guardian - A rocket attack on a US base near Iraq’s border with Iran has killed three American soldiers, according to an official who blamed the strike on a Shia militia linked to Tehran. The deaths came at the end of the bloodiest month for US troops in Iraq in two years, and with six months before the American military is scheduled to leave the country after more than eight years of war. Wednesday’s rocket attack struck a US base in southern Iraq that is located a few miles from Iran, the official said, saying the Iranian link was evident from the type of rockets used. Read Article

Nato reviews Libya campaign after France admits arming rebels

Guardian - Nato is reviewing the conduct of its military campaign in Libya after France admitted arming rebel fighters in apparent defiance of the UN mandate. The revelation surprised officials in Nato’s headquarters in Brussels and raised awkward questions about whether the French had broken international law – UN resolution 1973 specifically allows Nato nations to protect civilians in Libya, but appears to stop short of permitting the provision of weapons. Read Article

Fire menacing Los Alamos lab nears record size

Reuters – Firefighters inside a nuclear weapons complex in New Mexico scrambled on Thursday to clear brush near barrels of plutonium-contaminated waste stored just a few miles from a monster blaze roaring through surrounding forests. The so-called Las Conchas Fire has charred nearly 93,000 acres of thick pine woodlands on the slopes of the Jemez Mountains since erupting on Sunday near the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and was poised to become New Mexico’s largest ever wildfire by day’s end. Read Article

Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing

Stephen G. Osborna, Avner Vengoshb, Nathaniel R. Warnerb, and Robert B. Jackson

Directional drilling and hydraulic-fracturing technologies are dramatically increasing natural-gas extraction. In aquifers overlying the Marcellus and Utica shale formations of northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York, we document systematic evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with shale-gas extraction. In active gas-extraction areas (one or more gas wells within 1 km), average and maximum methane concentrations in drinking-water wells increased with proximity to the nearest gas well and were 19.2 and 64 mg CH4 L-1 (n = 26), a potential explosion hazard; in contrast, dissolved methane samples in neighboring nonextraction sites (no gas wells within 1 km) within similar geologic formations and hydrogeologic regimes averaged only 1.1 mg L-1 (P < 0.05; n = 34). Average ?13C-CH4 values of dissolved methane in shallow groundwater were significantly less negative for active than for nonactive sites (-37 ± 7‰ and -54 ± 11‰, respectively; P < 0.0001). These ?13C-CH4 data, coupled with the ratios of methane-to-higher-chain hydrocarbons, and ?2H-CH4 values, are consistent with deeper thermogenic methane sources such as the Marcellus and Utica shales at the active sites and matched gas geochemistry from gas wells nearby. In contrast, lower-concentration samples from shallow groundwater at nonactive sites had isotopic signatures reflecting a more biogenic or mixed biogenic/thermogenic methane source. READ MORE

UK: Green ‘stealth tax to encourage wind farms and nuclear power will hit poor the hardest’

Daily Mail – A green ‘stealth’ tax to encourage new wind farms and nuclear power plants could push tens of thousands of households into fuel poverty but do nothing to reduce emissions. The carbon floor price, announced in the March Budget, could even end up giving climate policies a ‘bad name’, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has warned. To be introduced in 2013, the tax is intended to encourage investment in low-carbon energy – and raise billions for the Treasury. Read Article

UK Couple Living Off-Grid Facing Prison Unless They Move Back

Devon – A couple living an “off-grid” lifestyle say they face prison unless they move from their own land in Willand and return to an existence in the benefits trap. Stig and Dinah Mason bought Muxbeare Orchard after a sudden windfall allowed them to quit their impoverished lives on a Hertfordshire council estate two years ago. Read Article

B.C. woman joins right-to-die lawsuit

CBC – A terminally ill woman from West Kelowna has joined a lawsuit started by the BC Civil Liberties Association aimed at overturning Canada’s laws affecting people’s right to die. Gloria Taylor says ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is slowly taking away her ability to chew, speak, swallow or breathe. “I am dying piece by piece, and I am asking the mercy of the court to allow me to die with dignity,” she said on Tuesday. Read Article

Editorial – The Stifling Of Australian Dissent

What is currently happening to that bright flame of Australian freedom and liberty? CLICK HERE TO READ

Australian Communications Minister Stephen Conroy’s department spends $268,000 on lawyers to fight FOI requests

News – A department spokesman said staff made decisions about the release of documents but $268,000 was spent to “provide legal advice and related legal services to DBCDE staff involved in processing requests and making decisions.” One Government contract showed $22,000 spent on legal services in just one day on February 11 but the spokesman claimed it was a clerical error with the services provided over several months.Read article

Editorial comment: The most Orwellian double-speak minister in the world?

Six Moldovan ‘uranium smugglers’ arrested

BBC - Moldovan police have arrested six people suspected of trying to sell a type of uranium that can be used in nuclear weapons. Those held wanted to sell more than 1kg (2.2lb) of uranium-235 with a value of at least $20m (14m euros; £12m), an official said. The were conflicting reports as to whether the men were accused of trying to sell the uranium to an African country, or to an African national. Four of the suspects are Moldovan. Read Article

‘NATO drops uranium bombs on Libya’

Press TV – The Center for Research on Globalization says the bombs and missiles that the US-led military alliance has dropped on several Libyan cities contain depleted uranium (DU). Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, a research associate at the CRG center, told Press TV that there are several international missions in Libya to gather evidence on NATO war crimes, including the use of DU. His remarks come weeks after the Stop the War Coalition said in its late March report that dozens of bombs and cruise missiles were launched by the US, British, and French forces — all with DU warheads — in the first 24 hours of the war on Libya. Read Article

ECB flags July rate rise as inflation stays high

Reuters – The European Central Bank signaled it would raise interest rates again next week as data showed inflation in June stabilized well above the bank’s target. “We are strongly determined to secure that inflation expectation remain firmly in-line (with our expectations),” ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet told the European Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee in regular testimony. “The current monetary policy is accommodative and … as I said we are in a state of strong vigilance,” he said. Read Article

Climate Fact Of The Day – Estimating climate effects of contrails


Extinction and optical depth of contrails

C. Voigt, U. Schumann, P. Jessberger, T. Jurkat, A. Petzold – Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
J.-F. Gayet – LaMP, University Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France
M. Krämer – IEK-7, Institute for Energy and Climate Research, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Jülich, Germany
T. Thornberry – Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, NOAA, Boulder, Colorado, USA
D. W. Fahey – Chemical Sciences Division, Earth System Research Laboratory, NOAA, Boulder, Colorado, USA

One factor limiting the understanding of the climate impact from contrails and aircraft induced cloud modifications is the accurate determination of their optical depth. To this end, 14 contrails were sampled for 2756 s with instruments onboard the research aircraft Falcon during the CONCERT (CONtrail and Cirrus ExpeRimenT) campaign in November 2008. The young (<10 min old) contrails were produced by 9 commercial aircraft with weights of 47 to 508 t, among them the largest operating passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380. The contrails were observed at temperatures between 214 and 224 K and altitudes between 8.8 and 11.1 km. The measured mean in-contrail relative humidity with respect to ice was 89 ± 12%. Six contrails were observed in cloud free air, the others were embedded in thin cirrus clouds. The observed contrails exhibited a mean ice water content of 2 mg m?3 and had a mean number concentration of 117 cm?3 and effective radius of 2.9 ?m assuming asphericle particles with an aspect ratio of 0.5. Probability density functions of the extinction, with a mean (median) of 1.2 (0.7) km?1, and of the optical depth ?, with a mean (median) of 0.27 (0.13), are derived from the in situ measurements and are likely representative for young contrails from the present-day commercial aircraft fleet at observation conditions. Radiative transfer estimates using the in-situ measured contrail optical depth lead to a year-2005 estimate of line-shaped contrail radiative forcing of 15.9 mWm?2 with an uncertainty range of 11.1–47.7 mWm?2 READ PAPER

Taiwan ex-president indicted for graft

Financial Times – Taiwanese prosecutors have indicted former president Lee Teng-hui, the state’s first democratically elected leader, on corruption charges. Mr Lee is accused of embezzling US$7.8m in government funds during his tenure as president in the 1990s, and faces possible life imprisonment if convicted. His top economic adviser, Liu Tai-ying, was also indicted. Lawyers for both men were expected to comment later on Thursday. Read Article

Obama defends US involvement in Libya, says ‘a lot of this fuss is politics’

Washington Post – President Barack Obama on Wednesday dismissed the congressional criticism of his decision to wage war against Libya as political and argued that any sign of support from Washington for strongman Moammar Gadhafi makes no sense. Pushing back against Republicans and Democrats, Obama defended his decision to order U.S. military action more than three months ago and insisted he had not violated the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which requires congressional authorization within 60 days of the first military strikes. Read Article

European Commission proposes EU budget rise of 5%

BBC – The proposal – for the period 2014 to 2020 – comes despite calls from some EU member states for a budget freeze. The commission is also looking to review budget rebates that some member states get – most notably the UK. Read article

Taiwan ex-President Lee Teng-hui ‘embezzled $7.8m’

BBC – Mr Lee is accused of taking the money from a secret diplomatic fund during his 1988-2000 presidency. Prosecutors say the 88-year-old took money from the National Security Bureau fund to set up a private think tank, of which he became honorary president. Read article

US cost of war at least $3.7 trillion and counting

Reuters - The report estimates between 224,475 and 257,655 have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, though those numbers give a false sense of precision. There are many sources of data on civilian deaths, most with different results. The civilian death toll in Iraq — 125,000 — and the number of Saddam’s security forces killed in invasion — 10,000 — are loose estimates. The U.S. military does not publish a thorough accounting. “We don’t do body counts,” Tommy Franks, the U.S. commander in Iraq, famously said after the fall of Saddam in 2003. In Afghanistan, the civilian death count ranges from 11,700 to 13,900. For Pakistan, where there is little access to the battlefield and the United States fights mostly through aerial drone attacks, the study found it impossible to distinguish between civilian and insurgent deaths. Read Article

Space Junk’ Nearly Collides with ISS

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S&P to deeply cut U.S. ratings if debt payment missed

Reuters – The United States would immediately have its top-notch credit rating slashed to “selective default” if it misses a debt payment on August 4, Standard & Poor’s managing director John Chambers told Reuters. Chambers, who is also the chairman of S&P’s sovereign ratings committee, told Reuters on Tuesday that U.S. Treasury bills maturing on August 4 would be rated ‘D’ if the government fails to honor them. Read Article

Internet Freedom Under Attack – Australia – “It’s not censorship”: IIA defends Interpol blacklist

Delimiter – Australia’s peak internet industry body today sought to distance its fledgling child pornography filtering scheme from the Federal Government’s mandatory filtering policy, stating its own more limited approach was more akin to ISPs cooperating with law enforcement authorities and would not constitute a form of censorship. Read Article

Bahrain’s king orders investigation into human rights abuses at protests

Guardian – Bahrain’s king has ordered an independent fact-finding mission to establish whether protesters’ human rights were abused during a violent crackdown on anti-government unrest in the Gulf kingdom. During a televised speech, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa – who said he had consulted with the UN high commissioner for Human Rights on establishing the committee – said he was committed to reform and the respect for human rights, but blamed protesters for pushing the country into a “state of chaos” with street marches earlier in the year. Read Article