Monday, October 05, 2009

Did Glenn Beck REALLY rape and murder a young girl back in 1990?

The Internet blogoscape is currently abuzz with revelations that Fox News lunatic Glenn Beck has been accused of the rape and murder of a young girl in Cape Coral, Florida in 1990. As yet there have been no denials of these allegations from Beck, nor has the basic-cable crybaby made any attempt to prove his innocence.

Although this in and of itself does not indicate guilt on Beck's part, it certainly does put him under suspicion. I, for one, join the rest of the bloggotrope in calling for Mr. Beck to set the record straight, once and for all.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Africa to Greenhouse Gas Producers: Pay Up!

Usually the costs of climate change are discussed in very indirect terms, such as land lost to rising sea levels or increased wildfires or resource insecurity. However, a new proposal before the African Union may introduce a new, more direct cost of climate change - cold (well, warm) hard cash.

The nations of Africa contribute less than one percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions, but is home to 15 of the 20 countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. If approved by the African Union, the nations of Africa will be demanding up to 200 billion dollars in annual compensation at the UN Climate Change Conference in December.

Although the details of the plan have not been released, the primary outcome of the effort will be a unified African voice on the issue. According to the concept note for the Conference of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change:

The decision of the AU Summit regarding the climate change negotiation structure is premised on the fact that there had been major limitations on African negotiating structure; thus it has not been able to achieve optimal results for the continent. One key gap has been dismal coordination of the African negotiation process. More importantly, there has not been visible continent wide political leadership on climate change negotiations in the UNFCCC process. The technical competence of the negotiators needs to be backed with the political weight at the highest level in the continent to have the desired impacts at global level. Secondly, the positions taken by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government need to be interpreted technically by the negotiators and translated into negotiating positions and texts. This will be one way of ensuring that the African voice on climate change negotiations is taken with the seriousness it deserves.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Water Scarcity On Horizon

As we near the hump day of 2009's World Water Week, Worldwatch Institute reminds us that we are entering a time of water scarcity around the world, as population growth, climate change, pollution, and poor management conspire to put some 1.4 billion people in regions where water supply can not keep up with demand:

"Water scarcity" has several meanings. Physical water scarcity exists wherever available water is insufficient to meet demand: parts of the southwestern United States, northern Mexico, North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, northern China, and southeastern Australia are characterized by physical water scarcity. Economic water scarcity occurs when water is available but inaccessible because of a lack of investment in water provision or poor management and regulation of water resources. Much of the water scarcity of sub-Saharan Africa falls into this category.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Somalia: World's Worst Humanitarian Crisis

Despite the recent surge in media coverage, pirates and foreign toxic waste are hardly the most pressing issue facing the fledgling Somali government. In fact, according to a recent Refugees International report, Somalia presents a near perfect storm of failed-state conditions: a barely-functioning central government, a plethora of opposition groups, rampant crime and corruption, a persistent drought, a dependence on imported food aid, and a displacement of almost two million refugees and IDPs - about one-fifth of the population:

Somalis live in some of the worst conditions imaginable -- from the slums of Aden to the cramped camps in Dadaab, from drought-stricken villages in south central Somalia to teeming neighborhoods in Nairobi. Somalis die at sea while trying to reach Yemen, are threatened by boys and men with guns in Mogadishu, and face demands for bribes and harassment while trying to find asylum in Kenya. Almost nowhere can vulnerable Somalis receive the humanitarian assistance and protection that are their rights.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

HRW: Extensive Evidence of Israeli War Crimes in Ghaza

Human Rights Watch has released a new report documenting Israel's indiscriminate use of white phosphorous against civilian populations.

The unlawful use of white phosphorus was neither incidental nor accidental. It was repeated over time and in different locations, with the IDF "air-bursting" the munition in populated areas up to the last days of its military operation. Even if intended as an obscurant rather than as a weapon, the IDF's repeated firing of air-burst white phosphorus shells from 155mm artillery into densely populated areas was indiscriminate and indicates the commission of war crimes.

The dangers posed by white phosphorus to civilians were well-known to Israeli commanders, who have used the munition for many years. According to a medical report prepared during the hostilities by the ministry of health, "[w]hite phosphorus can cause serious injury and death when it comes into contact with the skin, is inhaled or is swallowed." The report states that burns on less than 10 percent of the body can be fatal because of damage to the liver, kidneys and heart.
The HRW report was not the only documentation of war crimes released this week - a collection of videos released by The Guardian highlight the use of unmanned drones, human shields, and deliberate attacks on medical personnel during this winter's genocide in Ghaza.
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Food NGOs: Tilting at the Wrong Windmill?

A coalition of organizations, led by Food & Water Watch, is urging Congress and President Obama to reform commodities markets to prevent excessive speculation, which the group cites as a primary cause of last year's global food security crisis. According to the authors, the food crisis “could have been stopped with sensible rules that, if enforced, would have staved off the malnutrition and starvation that was caused by excessive gambling of food prices. Important reforms are needed now to prevent mega-investors from viewing the futures market like a casino where they can gamble on hunger.”

While regulation may indeed be a good idea, there's certainly not a consensus that price speculation was a primary cause of the crisis. Economists are extremely divided (surprise, surprise!) over the cause of the crisis, and the role speculators play. Some argue that short-term speculators actually reduced volatility and moderated price increases. Others, like Paul Krugman, find a lack of evidence of hoarding that would suggest that speculators are to blame. And then, of course, there are those who place most of the blame on biofuel-fueled demand.