June 2007 Archives
June 18, 2007
Bye, Bye Birdies?, 20 Common Bird Species Are In Dramatic Decline, According To Audubon Study - CBS News
Lovely day outside...
New data show the populations of some of America's well-known birds in a tailspin, thanks to the one-two punch of habitat fragmentation and, increasingly, global warming.
From the heartland's whippoorwills and meadowlarks to the Northern bobwhite and common terns of the nation's coasts, 20 common bird species tracked by the National Audubon Society have seen their numbers fall 54 percent overall since 1967, with some down about 80 percent, the group reported Thursday.
Most of the trouble lies with loss of bird habitat, and has for decades, due to expanding agriculture and suburban development. The Rufous hummingbird's population has fallen 58 percent due to logging and development in its Pacific Northwest breeding range – and in its winter range in Mexico. The same thing has happened to whippoorwills, whose numbers are down 57 percent due to loss of their forest habitat. At the same time, scientists say changes in migration patterns due to global warming are emerging, too.
"Habitat loss is still the major concern," says Greg Butcher, Audubon's bird conservation director in an interview. "But we're also seeing increasing impact from large-scale problems like global warming."
Thursday's study updates and expands earlier efforts: It adds to the annual Breeding Bird Survey, which is done by the U.S. Geological Survey, some 40 years of data gathered by thousands of volunteers from the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count program. Together, these data make the new study one of the most comprehensive looks at bird-population trends in North America.
Crows, bluebirds, mourning doves and robins are wintering farther north and their populations are still robust, Dr. Butcher says. But other species that rely on cold climates, like the snow bunting and greater scaup, which breed in Alaskan and Canadian tundra, are showing signs of trouble. As the tundra warms, it cedes to shrubs unsuitable for the birds to breed, Butcher says. Scaup numbers are down 75 percent and bunting 64 percent, in part because these species can't go farther north to breed.
Although populations in some cases dip as low as 500,000 globally, none of the "common" bird species cited is in danger of extinction, Butcher notes. But their struggle mirrors a larger global trend among endangered migratory songbirds and tropical species.
At the current rate, global warming and destroyed bird habitat could lead to the significant decline or extinction of at least 400 of the world's 8,750 bird species, reported another new study, this one focused on climate-change impact. Under certain scenarios, 750 to 1,800 bird species could be imperiled by the year 2100, the study released earlier this month reported.
Most of the threatened populations are in the tropics and are in danger due to slashing of their rain-forest habitat — but global warming is a clearly a looming threat, says Walter Jetz, an assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of California at San Diego and lead author of the study.
"It's true some birds are responding already to climate change by moving farther north and leaving later in fall and coming back earlier," he says. "But there's a limit to that. At some point, there's going to be real trouble because of the impact and distortions on migration routes that have evolved over millions of years."
A Big Tower With Cameras Raises Privacy Concerns in Arizona - US News and World Report
C Hues has vowed to moon it. Phil Benoit calls it a "search without probable cause." Jim Chilton has demanded a written statement that the radar won't harm his health-or his cows. That's just a sampling of the reaction this quirky town of 2,500 has had to the surveillance tower the Department of Homeland Security has erected on Tres Bellotas Road on the southern edge of town.
It's part of a "virtual wall" of technology that DHS wants to extend across the entire southern border of Arizona by the end of next year. And Hues, for one, is determined to keep it from happening. "I'm not going to go with this idea that it can't be turned around," she says.
That could be a tall order. The Border Patrol and Boeing Corp., which won a $70 million contract to provide the camera- and radar-equipped towers, have sent representatives to several town meetings. Among their messages: The cameras, one for day and one for nighttime viewing, can't see through glass, and agents will be less invasive if they don't have to traipse out on foot to see what triggered censors.
Still, Ellen Dursema, a 50-year-old artist with the local co-op, says the towers disturb her as a "peacekeeper and an Earth keeper." She's among a group concerned about how radar might affect the migration of bats each year from the nearby ghost town of Ruby.
June 13, 2007
Bush Aides Helped Respond to Firings, E-Mails Show - washingtonpost.com
Several high-ranking White House officials were closely involved in crafting a public response to the uproar over the firing of a group of U.S. attorneys, according to documents released late yesterday.
Then-White House counsel Harriet E. Miers and aides to presidential adviser Karl Rove were deeply enmeshed in debates over how to respond to the controversy as early as mid-January, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) questioned the spate of prosecutor departures in a Senate floor speech, according to e-mails that the Justice Department turned over to the House and Senate judiciary committees.
Tony Blair wants freedom of press, er, regulated
Tony Blair hinted today at new restrictions on internet journalism, saying online news coverage had become "more pernicious and less balanced" than traditional political reporting.
US Admits to Dumping WMD's in Sea
Between this and sonar testing, we'll be lucky to have any mammals left in our oceans.
"The Army now admits that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste - either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels."
June 12, 2007
Bush gets his watch stolen
Enhanced Interrogation Techniques
Monty Python predicted American "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" decades ago.
Enhanced Interrogation Techniques
June 11, 2007
Iran threatens Gulf blitz if US hits nuclear plants-News-World-TimesOnline
IRAN has threatened to launch a missile blitz against the Gulf states and plunge the entire Middle East into war if America attacks its nuclear facilities.
Admiral Ali Shamkhani, a senior defence adviser to the supreme leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that Gulf states providing the US with
military cooperation would be the key targets of a barrage of ballistic
Shamkhani told the US journal Defense News that missiles would be launched not
only at US military bases but also at strategic targets such as oil
refineries and power stations.
Qatar, Bahrain and Oman all host important US bases and British forces are
based in all three countries. Any Iranian attack would be bound to draw in
the other Gulf Cooperation Council states: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab
Emirates and Kuwait.
June 10, 2007
Greg Palast on Bobby Kennedy's show
Bobby Kennedy of Air America Radio's Ring of Fire talks with investigative reporter Greg Palast of BBC America. Greg Palast uncovered a voter fraud scheme known as "caging", that was carried out by Republican operative and Karl Rove aid Timothy Griffin. Griffin had been appointed to replace one of the eight fired US Attorneys, but was forced to resign when Congressman John Conyers received Greg Palast's startling information.
Lieberman: ‘We’ve Got To Be Prepared To Take Aggressive Military Action’ Against Iran
What the hell is wrong with this guy?
You can see the video at the link.
“I think we have to be prepared to take aggressive military action against the Iranians to stop them from killing Americans in Iraq,” Lieberman said. Host Bob Schieffer followed-up: “Let’s just stop right there. Because I think you probably made some news here, Senator Lieberman. You’re saying that if the Iranians don’t let up, that the United States should take military action?” “I am,” Lieberman responded. Lieberman added that “if there’s any hope” of stopping Iran’s nuclear program, “we can’t just talk to them. … We’ve got to use our force and to me that would include taking military action.”