196 posts tagged news
Farmers across the United States hoped for rain in July 2012 as a drought of historic proportions parched key commodity crops, including corn, soybeans, and wheat. On July 11, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that more than 1,000 counties in 26 states qualified as natural disaster areas—the largest total area ever declared a disaster zone by the agency.
The extent of the damage to crops is depicted in this vegetation anomaly map based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite. The map contrasts plant health in the central United States between June 25 and July 10, 2012, against the average conditions between 2002 and 2012. Brown areas show where plant growth was less vigorous than normal; cream colors depict normal levels of growth; and green indicates abnormally lush vegetation. Data was not available in the gray areas due to snow or cloud cover. The image is based on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a measure of how much plant leaves absorb visible light and reflect infrared light. Drought-stressed vegetation reflects more visible light and less infrared than healthy vegetation.
The most severe damage to crops appears to be centered on Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Crops in much of the upper Midwest—southern Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and western Tennessee—also show signs of strain. States in the Mountain West that are in the midst of a busy wildfire season—Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado—have also experienced marked declines in the health of vegetation. The drought has been less severe in Iowa, a key corn-growing state.
This drought, like all extreme weather events, has its direct cause in a complex set of atmospheric conditions that produce short-term weather. However, weather occurs within the broader context of climate, and there’s widespread agreement among scientists that the climate is changing due to human activity.
If you were involved in Icelandic high finance in the runup to the recession, you might want to start watching your back.
That’s because the government has appointed a white collar crime bounty hunter who wants to haul your behind in (alive, to be sure).
LeMonde reporter Charlotte Chabas has a profile of Ólafur Þór Hauksson, a former local police lieutenant whom the Iceland government appointed to track down individuals likely to have helped sink the country’s banking sector during the credit crunch.
Two Palestinian brothers were deported to Egypt by the US government despite their stateless status, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee stated today:The brothers, originally from Gaza, were taken by ICE and the U.S. Air Marshalls from their children in Texas and sent to Egypt. The brothers do not have permission to stay in Egypt. Further, due to the blockade of Gaza and Israeli polices they cannot enter Palestine. The brothers are currently detained at the airport in Cairo, and appear likely to be detained indefinitely.
Movement in and out of Gaza has been severely restricted for years and Palestinians do not have control of the borders of their country; all of the land of historic Palestine is under the control of the Israeli apartheid government, aided and abetted by the US. Gaza has also endured five years of Israeli blockade, impacting all areas of life — a policy supported by the US government. Gaza also has yet to be rebuilt after Israel’s three weeks of attacks in the winter of 2008-09 — attacks that killed 1,400 Palestinians who had nowhere to flee, attacks which decimated civilian infrastructure and targeted schools and places of worship, and which were perpetrated with US-supplied weaponry.
Meanwhile, Palestinians advocating for their national rights in the US have been persecuted.
For example, Dr. Sami al-Arian is a stateless Palestinian who has lived in the US for more than 30 years and has been targeted for his political activity. He is under house arrest, awaiting deportation. His daughter, journalist Laila al-Arian, told The Electronic Intifada in 2010:“…we really hope that there will be a country that will open its doors to a persecuted political prisoner and a victim of the Bush administration, a victim of a wave of anti-Palestinian activism. It’s mind-boggling that in the 21st century, there is a group of people who don’t have a country. Hopefully someone will be able to adopt him. It’s one more battle we have to fight.”
It really is sickening to watch Harold Ford Jr. (who is eviscerated by Greenwald in the article) sit there and say it’s cheaper to kill “terrorists” than capture them. He’s talking about murdering people as if it is all just numbers on a spreadsheet.
Courts and law enforcement agencies in the United States have asked Twitter to hand over user information far more than any other country, according to a transparency report released by the social networking website on Monday.
“Wednesday marks Independence Day here in the United States,” Jeremy Kessel, the legal policy manager for Twitter, said. “Beyond the fireworks and barbecue, July 4th serves as an important reminder of the need to hold governments accountable, especially on behalf of those who may not have a chance to do so themselves.”
Since January of this year, Twitter has received 679 requests for user account data from the United States. The country that made the second most requests for user information, Japan, has only made 98 requests. Canada and the United Kingdom each made 11 requests, while all other countries listed made less than ten.
The social networking website said it complied with 63 percent of the requests.
As more and more people tweet about their personal life, the amount of requests appears to have grown. Twitter has received more requests for user data in the first half of 2012 than in all of 2011, Kessel said.
Internet giant Google also releases biannual transparency reports. Its most recent report, from July to December 2011, found that the United States made 6,321 requests for user information. That number includes requests made by U.S. authorities on behalf of other governments.
Sorry is the key word here, as the US apologises for the killing of 24 Pakistani Soldiers back in November. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the announcement in Washington after talks by phone with her Pakistani counterpart, Hina Rabbani Khar. Pakistan is yet to comment but this apology is believed to end the closure of crucial supply routes to Nato-led forces in Afghanistan. (via newsflick)
It only took 8 months and cost $2.1 billion.
Ban and Annan “condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing, confirmed by United Nations observers, of dozens of men, women and children” in Houla, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said on Saturday.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Communities in remote corners of Brazil’s Amazon jungle are facing repeated assaults and death threats from illegal loggers who want to steal their lands, Amnesty International said Wednesday.
The human rights group said there was no police presence in parts of Brazil’s northwestern Amazonas state and no investigation into illegal activities reportedly taking place there.
“Those living in the region are in danger,” it said in a statement, urging Brazilian authorities to protect local residents and stop the illegal logging.
The target of the invading land-grabbers known as “grileiros” and illegal loggers are small communities living from timber extraction in legally recognized reserves located south of the town of Labrea.
Many residents have fled the region fearing for their lives, Amnesty said.
Dinhana Nink was gunned down in front of her son in a nearby town in Rondonia state where she has sought refuge after her house was set ablaze, the statement said.
Community leader Nilcilene Miguel de Lima, who has denounced the influx of illegal loggers in the reserves, was beaten up, threatened with a pistol and had her house set ablaze. She has been under armed protection by federal agents since October, according to Amnesty.
In April, she had to be evacuated by authorities after her dog was shot in the head and killed, it said.
The police station covering the area is located hundreds of kilometers (miles) north of Labrea and can be reached only by air.
The Pentagon is creating a new intelligence agency that will focus on Iran and China as it begins to pivot away from war zones in Iraq andAfghanistan, the New York Times reported.
The newspaper said late Monday that the new Defense Clandestine Service would make use of existing agents, authorities and assets and work closely with the Central Intelligence Agency to track emerging threats.
“It will thicken our coverage across the board,” it quoted a senior defense department official as saying.
Case officers from the Defense Intelligence Agency already secretly gather intelligence outside of conventional battle zones, the Times said, and the latest move further cements cooperation between the military and the CIA.
The new intelligence service is expected to grow “from several hundred to several more hundred” agents in the coming years by shifting personnel and funding from existing assignments, the Times quoted the official as saying.
Defense officials did not immediately respond to AFP requests for further information.
The announcement of the new agency comes a week after the Pentagon nominated Lieutenant General Michael Flynn — who previously served with the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) — to head military intelligence.
The selection of Flynn — who had been a strong critic of military intelligence when he served as the topintelligence officer in Afghanistan in 2010 — reflects the ascendancy of special forces in recent years.
The JSOC has been behind the killing of numerous suspected top insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years and carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden nearly one year ago.
This gets to the heart of the problem. How many people who otherwise would be protesting against the government are scared about this stuff and thus aren’t? Imagine if you have any kind of personal secrets you don’t want getting out; the government can go through your computer when you come back into the country and find out. You don’t think they’ll use that as blackmail?
It’s disgusting that this is what our country has become.
It’s good to see media outlets not letting the torture issue go, even though the Justice Department decided they won’t formally investigate the Bush administration or any of the individuals who wrote the torture memos, including John Yoo, who’s currently a law professor at Berkeley.
James Cameron just sent this tweet from 35,756 feet below the surface of the ocean, where he’s hanging out by himself for a few hours.
You know it’s just the first solo trip to the bottom of the Mariana Trench ever and the first manned mission there in 50 years.
Despite the immense, crushing pressure that far underwater, I assure you: His balls are still enormous.
Here’s some background on the mission.