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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

News of Interest 7/18/07

Report: Deportation Devastating Families
Families split up and returned to the South in the name of defending white supremacy. Where have I heard this before in American history?
An estimated 1.6 million children and spouses have been separated from family members forced to leave the country under toughened 1996 immigration laws, a human rights group said Wednesday.

The separations have taken a toll on families who have sold homes, lost jobs, lost businesses or been thrown into financial turmoil, Human Rights Watch said in a new report.
Will security firms detect police spyware?
Does your spyware detection software protect your from government snooping?
A CNET News.com survey of 13 leading antispyware vendors found that not one company acknowledged cooperating unofficially with government agencies. Some, however, indicated that they would not alert customers to the presence of fedware if they were ordered by a court to remain quiet.
Mega-rich paying top price for luxury submarines
Q. How do you sink a billionaire's submarine?
A. Overthrow capitalism.

The ocean floor is the final spending frontier for the world's richest people. Journeying to see what's on the bottom aboard a personal submersible is a wretched excess guaranteed to trump the average mogul's stable of vintage Bugattis or a $38 million round-trip ticket to the international space station aboard a Russian rocket.

Luxury-sub makers and salesmen from the Pacific Ocean to the Persian Gulf say fantasy and secrecy are the foundations of this nautical niche industry built on madcap multibillionaires.

"Everyone down there is a wealthy eccentric," says Jean-Claude Carme, vice president of marketing for U.S. Submarines, a Portland company that custom builds submarines. "They're all intensely secretive."

Who owns the estimated 100 luxury subs carousing the Seven Seas mostly remains a mystery.
Poll: Rooting for Bonds Divided by Race
I'd like to see the numbers for Lance Armstrong...
When it comes to rooting for Barry Bonds to become the home run champion, one factor stands out: race. An AP-Ipsos poll released Monday showed 55 percent of minority baseball fans want Bonds to set the record, while only 34 percent of non-Hispanic white baseball fans hope he passes Hank Aaron's record.
Dust, waste and dirty water: the deadly price of China's miracle
There is a word for this: externalization. The Chinese people pay the environmental and health costs for the profits and cheap products demanded by American consumers and capitalists alike. Those who claim that national wealth leads necessarily to environmental protections ought first to consider China, and then the fact that the state of the Chinese environment is also a function of American's desire to externalize the costs of their consumerism and production.
The OECD study, prepared at China's request, spells out the scale of the ecological crisis now engulfing the country, poisoning its people and holding it back economically.

It says up to 300 million people are drinking contaminated water every day, and 190 million are suffering from water related illnesses each year. If air pollution is not controlled, it says, there will be 600,000 premature deaths in urban areas and 20 million cases of respiratory illness a year within 15 years.

China's water quality gives the researchers greatest concern. One third of the length of all China's rivers is now "highly polluted" as are 75% of its major lakes and 25% of all its coastal waters. Nearly 30,000 children die from diarrhoea due to polluted water each year.

Although China is the world's fourth largest economy, and is closing rapidly on the US, Japan and Germany, its environmental standards are often closer to those in some of the poorest countries, says the report. More than 17,000 towns have no sewage works and the human waste from nearly 1 billion people is barely collected or treated. "A majority of the water flowing through China's urban areas is unsuitable for drinking or fishing," says the report.
Unruly students' Facebook search
The social network functions increasingly as a social surveillance apparatus.
Students at Oxford University are being warned that university authorities are using the Facebook website to gain evidence about unruly post-exam pranks.

The student union has urged students to tighten their security settings on the social networking website, to stop dons viewing their details.
Fight for control of Iraq's reserves
The class struggle continues four years into the war despite the presence of both Islamic jihadists and American liberators.
Hassan Jumaa Awad al Assadi, the head of the Iraqi oil workers' union, was in London last week campaigning against a new law which, he says, will give the oil giants unprecedented rights to his country's vast reserves.

"We will lose control over Iraqi oil. The social progress in Iraq will be curtailed substantially, because the oil companies want huge profits; they are not concerned about the environment, wages, or living conditions," he warned. "We will wait to see the reaction of the Iraqi people."

Baghdad has reacted angrily to the union's campaign, issuing arrest warrants for al Assadi and his fellow leaders, and refusing to recognise the 26,000-strong confederation of workers.
Police to use helmet cams to record public order incidents
Does it come with a delete button?
The mini digital cameras, strapped to the helmet headbands of patrolling police officers, are to be used to film rowdy late-night scenes, underage drinkers, controversial stop and search confrontations and domestic violence incidents.

The cameras can store up to 400 hours of footage with soundtrack on their hard drive, with a battery life of eight to 12 hours. The footage can be played back on a four-inch (10cm) screen attached to the officer's belt. Future versions may use a memory card or even live streaming technology to transmit the pictures to a nearby vehicle or communications centre.
Are these the last days of the Oil Age?
Even if it could do so, the deadline for replacing oil with alternative energy is getting tight. The defenders of the "green energy" wing of capitalism must answer the obvious question: is there even enough time for that?
Peter Warburton’s excellent weekly risk analysis has pointed out that 27 of the 51 oil-producing nations listed in BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy reported output declines in 2006. One projection of world crude oil production actually forecasts a 10 per cent reduction in total world output between 2005 and 2015. That would be a revolution.

The oil peak debate can be left to the oil analysts. It is a complex issue, and there are some grounds for questioning the most pessimistic forecasts, including the likely development of the Canadian tar sands, and the success of American enhanced oil recovery techniques. Past forecasts of oil depletion have often proved wrong, and the present forecasts are uncertain. Nuclear power could increase energy supply, but a big nuclear programme has been left far too late in most countries.

The five-year view taken by the IEA is itself a central forecast. Some analysts think that the peak oil moment has already been reached; some still think that it will not come until 2020 – which is itself only 12 years away. Market trends and the statistics both support the IEA’s view that consumption is accelerating and supplies falling faster than expected. Of course, if the “crunch” point is only five years’ away for oil, and closer for natural gas, it has, for practical purposes, already arrived.

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