Monday, February 2, 2009

News of Interest 2/2/2009

China birth defects 'up sharply'
Jiang Fan, from China's National Population and Family Planning Commission, said environmental pollution was a cause of the increase.
-BBC News

In Paris, an anti-ad insurgency

The Dismantlers, as a nationwide group of anti-ad crusaders call themselves, aren't violent or loud or clandestine. In fact, they invite the police to protest rallies where they deface signs. With a copywriter's flair, one of their slogans warns: "Attention! Avert your eyes from ads: You risk being very strongly manipulated." The goal of the Dismantlers is to get arrested, argue the righteousness of their cause in court and, you guessed it, gain publicity.

"We challenge the mercantile society that destroys all human relationships, professional relationships, health, the environment," said Alexandre Baret, 35, a founder of the group. "It's a message that proposes to attack advertising as the fuel of this not very healthy society."
-LA Times

Skateboarding in Afghanistan Provides a Diversion From Desolation
It looked like an ordinary neighborhood playground: six children tumbling off their skateboards to the tune of laughter. But only hours before, just 20 yards away, the body of a suicide car bomber was sprawled beside a glistening pool of blood.

Afghan youth have learned to recover almost instantly from such routine violence. One person determined to inject some normalcy into their lives is Oliver Percovich. A 34-year-old from Melbourne, Australia, he plans to open this country’s first skateboarding school, Skateistan, this spring. He sees sport as a way to woo students into after-school activities like English and computer classes, which are otherwise reserved for the elite.
-New York Times

One last chance to save mankind

I'm an optimistic pessimist. I think it's wrong to assume we'll survive 2 °C of warming: there are already too many people on Earth. At 4 °C we could not survive with even one-tenth of our current population. The reason is we would not find enough food, unless we synthesised it. Because of this, the cull during this century is going to be huge, up to 90 per cent. The number of people remaining at the end of the century will probably be a billion or less. It has happened before: between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2000 people left. It's happening again.
-New Scientist

Chinese earthquake may have been man-made, say scientists

The 511ft-high Zipingpu dam holds 315 million tonnes of water and lies just 550 yards from the fault line, and three miles from the epicentre, of the Sichuan earthquake.

Now scientists in China and the United States believe the weight of water, and the effect of it penetrating into the rock, could have affected the pressure on the fault line underneath, possibly unleashing a chain of ruptures that led to the quake.
-London Telegraph

NATO: Members may use Iran for Afghan supplies

NATO would not oppose individual member nations making deals with Iran to supply their forces in Afghanistan as an alternative to using increasingly risky routes from Pakistan, the alliance’s top military commander said Monday.

Gen. John Craddock’s comments came just days after NATO’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, urged the U.S. and other members of the Western military alliance to engage with Iran to combat Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
-Air Force Times

Turkey and the army: Conspiracy theories

Mr Aygan’s confessions are the latest in a series of sensational revelations unfolding in a case that takes its name from Ergenekon, a supposedly clandestine organisation. Some 86 people, including retired generals, journalists and politicians, who purportedly planned to carry out a string of high-profile murders, sow chaos and provoke a military coup in Turkey, have been on trial. Some defendants are said to have ties with the mafia and drug gangs.

On January 22nd a further 39 people (five of them serving army officers) were rounded up in pre-dawn raids across the country. These arrests have turned Ergenekon into what many say is the most significant criminal investigation in Turkey’s history. The prosecutors are now exploring links with the 2007 murder of Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian editor, who had been threatened by a retired general, Veli Kucuk, before his death. Mr Kucuk was arrested in January 2008 and is alleged to be among Ergenekon’s ringleaders.
-The Economist

Mayor Gets Tough, Goes on Trial

On Monday, Mr. Melton is scheduled to go on trial -- for the third time since taking office -- on felony charges related to his hard-line, gun-toting tactics. Mr. Melton is battling three counts in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on civil-rights and related weapons charges after he and two police bodyguards, and a group of young acquaintances wielding sledgehammers, allegedly destroyed a home where the mayor has claimed occupants used and sold crack cocaine.
-Wall Street Journal

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