Apr 272009

As the statement below received via e-mail from New Profile(Movement for the Civilization of Israeli Society) points out in the last paragraph, the arrest of members of this feminist anti-militarism organization in Israel proves the point that the group is making, namely that militarism is a threat to “the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of political association” of all:

This morning the Israeli police descended upon the homes of political activists, members of the feminist movement New Profile, which acts for the civilization of society in Israel and against the undue influence of the military on life in the country.

The police demanded that the activists turn over the computers located in their homes, and among other things took the computers of partners of the detainees and in one case also the computer of a fourth grade pupil, the daughter of one of those interrogated. The computers of family members were returned after the activists were released on bail.

All five were interrogated in the Ramat Hachiyal station in the Yarkon Region of the police. At the conclusion of the interrogation they were released on bail and under limitng conditions, and all were told that during the next 30 days they are forbidden to contact other members of the movement.

The New Profile Movement expressed rage over the interrogation and the demand to not have contact with other members, which means a partial paralysis of the activities of this important organization in civil society in Israel.

Attorney Smadar Ben Nathan, who is representing New Profile, said that the investigation of the police is focusing on the website of New Profile, which has links to other sites on the internet. Ben Nathan added that the New Profile Movement is a recognized non-profit association which acts openly and publicly, in accordance with the law, and the use of a criminal investigation in this context is invalid and exaggerated, and stands in opposition to freedom of expression.

New Profile is a feminist movement established ten years ago. The movement has been warning for years of the exaggerated and destructive influence of Israeli militarism on civilian life, and provides legal aid and social support to young people desiring not to do military service, both for political and personal reasons.

The New Profile Movement noted today: “These recent acts confirm what we have been contending for many years: the militarism of society in Israel harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of political association. One who believed that until now criminal files were conjured up “only” for Arab citizens of Israel saw this morning that none of us can be certain that s/he can freely express an opinion concerning the failures of society and rule in Israel.”

 April 27, 2009  Posted by on April 27, 2009 Comments Off on Arrest of Members of Feminist New Profile in Israel Ironic Example of Undue Militarism That The Group Is Working To End
Apr 242009

In her Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank offers us this marvelous challenge, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” and on the occasion of her 75th birthday, Gloria Steinem ups the ante,

“If each person in the room promises that in the very next day she or he will do at least one outrageous thing in the cause of simple justice, then I promise I will, too”.

In a new campaign called Outrageous Acts For Simple Justice, Steinem asks not only that you commit such an act but also offers you a chance to share your outrageous acts on a newly created website. Check it out, do it, it feels good!

 April 24, 2009  Posted by on April 24, 2009 Comments Off on Gloria Steinem: Outrageous Acts for Simple Justice
Apr 232009

Now we’re torturing virtual babies??  I’d ask how in the sam hill this got approved in the first place but this story almost isn’t shocking coming as it does in a week where we learned that we didn’t just waterboard but we did it repeatedly, ad nauseum. As I type this out on my IMac listening to my ITunes, I may not have the pursestrings to stop waterboarding, but I sure don’t have to support this nonsense. Via HuffPo:

Apple Inc. pulled a 99-cent iPhone game called “Baby Shaker” from its Wednesday after its premise _ quiet a crying baby with a vigorous shake _ prompted outrage.

According to screen shots posted on several Web sites, “Baby Shaker” displayed black-and-white line drawings of a baby. The iTunes description included the line, “See how long you can endure his or her adorable cries before you just have to find a way to quiet the baby down!” Once the iPhone owner finishes shaking the device, the on-screen baby is depicted with large red X’s over its eyes.

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris said “Baby Shaker” went on sale Monday, and confirmed that Apple removed it Wednesday. She would not comment on why the program was initially approved for sale nor about how many people downloaded the game. Apple itself screens each , a process some prospective iPhone application developers have complained can take weeks or months. Others have said Apple gives little feedback when it accepts or rejects a program.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has rejected apps that let iPhone users throw virtual shoes at President George W. Bush or watch clips from the “South Park” cartoon. It has accepted numerous programs that simulate flatulence.

That last sentence is illuminating, apparently Apple still has some growing up to do.

 April 23, 2009  Posted by on April 23, 2009 Comments Off on For Crying Out Loud–Apple Pulls Baby Shaker Game
Apr 222009

For the last several months, with sick fascination, I have been compiling a list of rapidly escalating eco-horrors. I don’t know what to do with  this list.  Each item by itself is terrifying, taken together, and indeed it is imperative that we do connect them, the enormity of the peril we face is breath-takingly clear. I won’t try to analyze them for you, they speak for themselves.  Read them, weep, take action.

In December the US Geological Survey also warned that sea-level rise could be even worse than feared, as much as 1.5 metres by the end of this century, partly due to increased melting of the volume of water stored in glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland.

Most of the planet’s glaciers are melting so fast that many will disappear by the middle of the century, a leading expert has warned. Figures from the World Glacier Monitoring Service show that although melt rates for 2007 fell substantially from record levels the previous year, the loss of ice was still the third worst on record.

Sea levels on the United States’ mid-Atlantic coast are rising faster than the global average because of global warming, threatening the future of coastal communities, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday.Coastal waters from New York to North Carolina have crept up by an average of 2.4 to 4.4 millimeters (0.09 to 0.17 inches) a year, compared with an average global increase of 1.7 millimeters (0.07 inches) a year, the EPA said in a report.

Scientists will warn this week that rising sea levels, triggered by global warming, pose a far greater danger to the planet than previously estimated. There is now a major risk that many coastal areas around the world will be inundated by the end of the century because Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are melting faster than previously estimated.

But the report contained an important caveat: that its sea-level rise estimate contained very little input from melting ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. The IPCC forecast therefore tended to underestimate forthcoming changes.

The role of the United States in climate disruption is far greater than most people realize. Not only does the U.S. emit more carbon dioxide (CO2) than any other nation besides China, not only does the U.S. have one the highest per-capita emissions in the world, but the U.S. economy also accounts for a massive amount of emissions released by the rest of the world too. S&R has investigated just how much CO2 the United States economy is actually responsible for, and the results suggest the real emissions are 20% greater than official estimates.

A swelling global population, changing diets and mankind’s expanding “water footprint” could be bringing an end to the era of cheap water.

The warnings, in an annual report by the Pacific Institute in California, come as ecologists have begun adopting the term “peak ecological water” — the point where, like the concept of “peak oil”, the world has to confront a natural limit on something once considered virtually infinite.

A significant part of the problem is the huge, and often deeply inefficient, use of water by industry and agriculture. UN calculations suggest that more than one third of the world’s population is suffering from water shortages: by 2020 water use is expected to increase by 40 per cent from current levels, and by 2025, according to another UN estimate, two out of three people could be living under conditions of “water stress”.

A major U.S. government report on Arctic climate, prepared with input from eight Canadian scientists, has concluded that the recent rapid warming of polar temperatures and shrinking of multi-year Arctic sea ice are “highly unusual compared to events from previous thousands of years.“The findings, released on Friday, counter suggestions from some skeptics that such recent events as the opening of the Northwest Passage and collapse of ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic are predictable phenomena that could be explained as part of a natural climate cycle rather than being driven by elevated carbon emissions from human activity.

The study also sounds the alarm that “temperature change in the Arctic is happening at a greater rate than other places in the Northern Hemisphere, and this is expected to continue in the future. As a result, glacier and ice-sheet melting, sea-ice retreat, coastal erosion and sea level rise can be expected to continue.”

The international climate debate has focused primarily on emissions from deforestation, but the researchers say their analysis shows that attention must also be paid to the impacts of climate change on forests.

While deforestation is responsible for about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, forests currently absorb more carbon than they emit.

But the problem is that the balance could shift as the planet warms, the report concludes, and the sequestration service provided by the forest biomes “could be lost entirely if the Earth heats up by 2.5C or more”.

But several scientists at the Copenhagen meeting spoke of a rise of a metre or more, even if the world’s greenhouse gas emissions were kept at a low level.

The assessment says higher temperatures – along with prolonged droughts, more pest invasions, and other environmental stresses – would trigger considerable forest destruction and degradation.

This could create a dangerous feedback loop, it adds, in which damage to forests from climate change would increase global carbon emissions that then exacerbate global warming.

U.S. manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have legally released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water — contamination the federal government has consistently overlooked, according to an Associated Press investigation.

Hundreds of active pharmaceutical ingredients are used in a variety of manufacturing, including drugmaking: For example, lithium is used to make ceramics and treat bipolar disorder; nitroglycerin is a heart drug and also used in explosives; copper shows up in everything from pipes to contraceptives.

Researchers have found that even extremely diluted concentrations of drugs harm fish, frogs and other aquatic species. Also, researchers report that human cells fail to grow normally in the laboratory when exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs. Some scientists say they are increasingly concerned that the consumption of combinations of many drugs, even in small amounts, could harm humans over decades.

The flow of water in the world’s largest rivers has declined over the past half-century, with significant changes found in about a third of the big rivers. An analysis of 925 major rivers from 1948 to 2004 showed an overall decline in total discharge.

“Freshwater resources will likely decline in the coming decades over many densely populated areas at mid- to low latitudes, largely due to climate changes, Dai said. “Rapid disappearing mountain glaciers in the Tibetan plateau and other places will make matters worse.”

 April 22, 2009  Posted by on April 22, 2009 Comments Off on Requiem For The Earth–A Litany Of Eco-Horrors
Apr 222009

As we celebrate Earth Day, please take a moment to write to your Congressional representative and ask them to support this important piece of legislation that was introduced earlier this month:

At the close of Women’s History Month and in accordance with the 2009 theme “Women taking the Lead to Save the Planet”, Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA) introduced a resolution that recognizes the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women and the efforts of women globally to address climate change.

“There is no doubt that the affects of climate change have, and will continue to impact the most vulnerable of populations,” said Congresswoman Lee. “As we work to tackle the challenge of climate change, and its devastating consequences for global health and security, we must support and empower women who have a unique capacity to promote and implement strategies for mitigation and adaptation. Women have fought and continue to struggle for gender equality and women’s rights both at home and abroad. We must ensure that policies help women prepare for, build their resilience, and adapt to the adverse impact that climate change has on women across the globe.”

“Mitigating the impact of climate change on women in the developing world must be recognized as a priority. Rural women produce half of the world’s food. But climate change is exacerbating the international food crisis with changing weather patterns, droughts, hurricanes and tsunamis, which is compromising the economic stability of families and leaving them vulnerable to new and re-emerging infectious diseases. This House resolution sheds a national spotlight on the issue and affirms that investing in women and the environment will help improve food security and health outcomes here at home and around the globe,” said Congresswoman McCollum, co-chair of the Global Health Caucus.

“I’m proud to support this resolution which recognizes the impact of climate change on women in developing countries.  Climate change poses one of the greatest challenges in the 21st century and I will continue my work in Congress to ensure that comprehensive climate change legislation is aggressive, sensible and addresses the needs of the most vulnerable, especially women,” said Congresswoman Eshoo.

The resolution, among other things, encourages the use of gender-sensitive frameworks in developing policies to address climate change, which account for the specific impacts of climate change on women. Additionally, it affirms the commitment of Congress to empower women to have a voice in the planning and implementation of strategies to address climate change so that their roles and resources are taken into account.

 April 22, 2009  Posted by on April 22, 2009 Comments Off on Support Congressional Resolution Recognizing Disproportionate Impacts of Climate Change On Women And The Efforts Of Women To Address These Issues