Showing posts from September 7, 2014

China may be ready to kick coal habit

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[Where will the Port of Vancouver sell all of its shiny new coal? *RON*]

By Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network, 5 September 2014

Signs are hopeful that China, the world’s No.1 emitter of greenhouse gases, aims to become less reliant on the polluting coal that powered its rapid economic rise.

There are still doubts. The statistics might be proved wrong. But it looks as if China might be starting to wean itself off its coal consumption habit.

China produces and consumes nearly as much coal as the rest of the world combined. Coal, the most polluting of all energy sources, has powered the growth of China’s flyaway economy. But as incomes have risen, so has pollution. The country is now the world’s No.1 emitter of greenhouse gases.

Latest figures indicate that change is on the way, spurred on by a much-vaunted government “war on pollution” campaign. The state-run National Development and Reform Commission reports that domestic coal output shrank over…

Where gadgets go to die

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[A growing mountain of electronic waste needs to be disposed of responsibly by rich nations rather than shipped to poorer countries to do the dirty work. *RON*]

The Economist, Difference Engine, 6 September 2014 | From the print edition

WHAT to do with old computers, monitors, keyboards, printers, phones and other digital paraphernalia? On no account should anything containing a printed circuit board be put in the rubbish bin for municipal collection. Not counting all the other toxic materials used in electronic products, the lead in the soldered joints alone requires such items to be recycled professionally.

According to a United Nations initiative known as StEP (Solving the E-Waste Problem), electronic waste can contain up to 60 elements from the periodic table, as well as flame retardants and other nasty chemicals. Apart from heavy metals such as lead and mercury, there are quantities of arsenic, beryllium, cadmium and polyvinyl chloride to b…

Interview with an Auschwitz Guard: 'I Do Not Feel Like a Criminal'

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[91 years old now, one of the few remaining. "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke *RON*]

By Felix Bohr, Cordula Meyer and Klaus Wiegrefe, Der Spiegel, 28 August 2014

Jakob W. was 19-years-old and in his third semester studying architecture at college when he received the letter that would, seven decades later, turn him into a suspect for complicity in murder.

In the summer of 1942, the young man from a village near Belgrade received his draft notice. Just a few months later, he was standing on a tower hundreds of kilometers away from his home in Yugoslavia. Jakob W. was now an SS guard in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp -- and thus a party in the most horrific of the crimes committed by the Third Reich. For two and a half years, he looked down at the factory of human annihilation, day in and day out.

Now, in 2014, Jakob W. lives in a large, southern German city, his hou…

In shadow of oil boom, North Dakota farmers fight contamination

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[Well operator: "If they reported every spill, this whole freaking industry would shut down." The shape of things to come. Get ready to welcome the fracking boom to British Columbia. One county's infertile lands offer a test case of the long-term effects of wastewater spills. *RON*]
by Laura Gottesdiener, Al Jazeera, 6 September 2014
ANTLER, N.D. — Last summer, in a wet, remote section of farm country in Bottineau County, landowner Mike Artz and his two neighbors discovered that a ruptured pipeline was spewing contaminated wastewater into his crop fields.

“We saw all this oil on the low area, and all this salt water spread out beyond it,” said his neighbor Larry Peterson, who works as a farmer and an oil-shale contractor. “The water ran out into the wetland.”

It was August, and all across Artz’s farm the barley crop was just reaching maturity. But near the spill, the dead stalks had undeveloped kernels, which, the farmers knew, meant …

Redactions in U.S. Memo Leave Doubts on Data Surveillance Program

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[ *RON*]
By Charlie Savage, New York Times, 6 September 2014

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has released a newly declassified version of a May 2004 legal memo approving the National Security Agency’s Stellarwind program, a set of warrantless surveillance and data collection activities that President George W. Bush secretly authorized after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But questions about the program remain.

A more heavily redacted version of the memo had been released in 2011 as part of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The new version includes previously censored references to the existence of the data collection related to Americans’ phone calls and emails.

The Obama administration voluntarily reprocessed the memo from Jack Goldsmith, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, in light of the fact that it had declassified the…

U.S. unemployment decrease reflects more workforce dropouts

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["...we've seen over the course of the recovery millions of people just giving up hope, dropping out." The unemployment rate is designed in such a way that, if more people give up looking for work and drop out of the labour force, it looks like unemployment is decreasing. *RON*]
Sudeep Reddy, PBS News Hour, 6 September 6 2014

According to Friday's jobs report, the unemployment rate dropped from 6.2 percent to 6.1 percent. However, the number of Americans dropping out of the workforce rose. Sudeep Reddy, an economics editor at the Wall Street Journal joins Hari Sreenivasan from Washington to talk about the long-term effects these exits may have on the nation's economy.

HARI SREENIVASAN: We wanted to follow up tonight on yesterday’s unemployment report.

The government reported that 142,000 jobs were created last month, well below most expectations.

Even so, the unemployment rate dropped from 6.2 percent to 6.1 percent, in large p…