Sunday, March 14, 2010

Humans pushing up extinction rates faster than species can evolve

TreeHugger / By  Matthew McDermott

You've probably heard the stat that extinction rates are currently somewhere between 100-1000 times historic levels, which is bad enough, but now the Guardian reports the head of the Species Survival Commission for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature says that we've "almost certainly" crossed the threshold where species aren't evolving fast enough to keep up with increasing extinction rates. reports the head of the Species Survival Commission for the

In fact Simon Stuart went on the say that predictions made by biologist EO Wilson that the extinction rate could hit 10,000 times the background rate by 2030 are bearing out.

All the evidence is he's right. Some people claim it already is that...things can only have deteriorated because of the drivers of the losses, such as habitat loss and climate change, are getting worse. But we haven't measured extinction rates again since 2004 and because our current estimates contain a tenfold range there has to be a very big deterioration or improvement to pick up a change.

For those wondering what this background rate talk is about, the fossil record shows that historically there has been a steady rate of extinction of about one per million species every year.

~ Source ~

China reports on US human rights record

BEIJING - China Friday retorted US criticism by publishing its own report on the US human rights record.

"As in previous years, the (US) reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China, but turn a blind eye to, or dodge and even cover up rampant human rights abuses on its own territory," said the Information Office of the State Council in its report on the US human rights record.

The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009 was in retaliation to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 issued by the US Department of State on March 11.

The report is "prepared to help people around the world understand the real situation of human rights in the United States," said the report.

The report reviewed the human rights record of the United States in 2009 from six perspectives: life, property and personal security; civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights; racial discrimination; rights of women and children; and the US' violation of human rights against other countries.

It criticized the United States for taking human rights as "a political instrument to interfere in other countries' internal affairs, defame other nations' image and seek its own strategic interests."

China advised the US government to draw lessons from the history, put itself in a correct position, strive to improve its own human rights conditions and rectify its acts in the human rights field.

This is the 11th consecutive year that the Information Office of China's State Council has issued a human rights record of the United States to answer the US State Department's annual report.

"At a time when the world is suffering a serious human rights disaster caused by the US subprime crisis-induced global financial crisis, the US government still ignores its own serious human rights problems but revels in accusing other countries. It is really a pity," the report said.

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Doubling of maternal deaths in U.S. 'scandalous,' rights group says

(CNN) -- Deaths from pregnancy and childbirth in the United States have doubled in the past 20 years, a development that a human rights group called "scandalous and disgraceful" Friday.

In addition, the rights group said, about 1.7 million women a year, one-third of pregnant women in the United States, suffer from pregnancy-related complications.

Most of the deaths and complications occur among minorities and women living in poverty, it noted.

Amnesty International issued a report Friday that calls on President Obama to take action.

"This country's extraordinary record of medical advancement makes its haphazard approach to maternal care all the more scandalous and disgraceful," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

"Good maternal care should not be considered a luxury available only to those who can access the best hospitals and the best doctors. Women should not die in the richest country on earth from preventable complications and emergencies," Cox said in a news release.

The report, "Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA," notes that the lifetime risk of maternal deaths is greater in the United States than in 40 other countries, including virtually all industrialized nations.

The report also noted that severe pregnancy-related complications that nearly cause death -- known as "near misses" -- have increased by 25 percent since 1998.

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The most powerful destructive corporate business club most Americans have never heard of

DeGraw writes in the introduction to his report:

"It has now become evident to a critical mass that the Republican and Democratic parties, along with all three branches of our government, have been bought off by a well-organized Economic Elite who are tactically destroying our way of life. The harsh truth is that 99% of the US population no longer has political representation. The US economy, government and tax system is now blatantly rigged against us.Current statistical societal indicators clearly demonstrate that a strategic attack has been launched and an analysis of current governmental policies prove that conditions for 99% of Americans will continue to deteriorate. The Economic Elite have engineered a financial coup and have brought war to our doorstep. . . and make no mistake, they have launched a war to eliminate the US middle class."

***

Part III: Exposing Our Enemy: Meet the Economic Elite

I don't view the Economic Elite as a small group of men who meet in secrecy to control the world. They do feature elements of conspiracy and are clearly composed of secretive organizations like the Bilderberg Group -- this is not a conspiracy theory, this is a conspiracy fact - but as a whole the Economic Elite are primarily united by ideology. They're made up of thousands of individuals who subscribe to an ideology of exploitation and the belief that wealth and resources need to be concentrated into the fewest hands possible (theirs), at the expense of the many.

That being said, there are some definite lead players in this group and it is important that we are not too vague and expose the individuals who publicly lead them. Focusing on the fundamental structure of the US economy, we have people like Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, Robert Rubin, Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, John Mack, Vikram Pandit,and  John Thain.

In total, the Economic Elite are made up of about 0.5% of the US population. At the center of this group is the Business Roundtable, an organization representing Fortune 500 CEOs that is also interlocked with several lead elite organizations. Most Americans have never heard of the Business Roundtable. However, in my analysis, it is the most influential and powerful Economic Elite organization.

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Greek crisis: Ending (at last) the Trojan War

...Spartan Military Spending.  With such a history, it is no surprise that Greece still spends heavily on its defence. Greece's military spending is 4.3% of its GDP (even though it has declined over the last 20 years), Turkey 5.3%, and Cyprus 3.8% of its GDP (source: www.cia.gov), which is much higher than in the rest of Europe. In general, small EU countries spend between 1% and 1.5% of their GDP in military spending; for Germany it is 1.5%. The two 'big' military European powers spend much less than Greece: France 2.6% of its GDP; the UK 2.4% of its GDP. Hence, the unique reason for Greece's huge military spending is Turkey. Greece is also the only EU country where the size and composition of the military budget is a state secret, which suggests that these data may still underestimate the truth. For the record, when Greece first lied (in the late 1990s) about its fiscal deficit in order to enter into the euro zone (in 2001), it was mainly because it had concealed large military spending through Maastricht accounting tricks. Instead of buying expensive military aircrafts, the Socialist Government leased them on a long term basis and then classified this leasing as off-balance. When Eurostat discovered the trick in 2004, deficits were re-estimated significantly: 6.4% of GDP in 1997, 4.1% in 1998, 3.4% in 1999 and 4.1% in 2000 (instead of 1.7% then), so that, with the true figures, Greece would never have been allowed into the euro zone in the first place. I would not be surprised if the new lies in the budget data, revealed in November 2009 by the new Socialist Greek government, were linked again with military spending, especially as the culprit, this time the outgoing Conservative Government, feared to be contested by right-wing nationalists in the general elections (as it occurred.)...

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Capitalism Hits the Fan: A Marxian View

Capitalism Hits the Fan: A Marxian View from UVC-TV 19 on Vimeo.



Lecture by Professor Rick Wolff, Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst on October 7, 2008.

Preview from the updated version:


Greek riots, protests, strikes over fiscal plan



Demonstrators clashed with police in Athens again Thursday, as Greeks took to the streets in anger over the government's austerity plan. Police, firefighters and coast guard officers joined the protest. (11 March 2010)

The video below from Athens IMC puts the number of demonstrators at over 120,000


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