On World Water Day, I’d like to share with you a strong collection of images from southern China, showing local activists fighting against industrial pollution in their waterways, and cancer sufferers in so-called “cancer villages”, linked to pollution from hazardous chemicals. Earlier this year, China’s environment ministry released a report officially acknowledging the existence of these villages for the first time and signaling its willingness to address toxic water pollution. Greenpeace reached out to World Press Photo award-winner Lu Guang and other photographers to bear witness and has allowed me to share their images here on World Water Day, in an effort to bring this environmental and human tragedy to the world’s attention. Photos and captions were provided by the photographers and Greenpeace.
See more. [Images: Greenpeace]
The Dangerous Global Consequences of a Syria Intervention
Sami Ramadani Pt5: History has shown that deep global economic crisis can lead to war. An intervention into Syria will severely heighten tensions between Russia, China and the US.
(Reuters) - China can now bypass Wall Street when buying U.S. government debt and go straight to the U.S. Treasury, in what is the Treasury’s first-ever direct relationship with a foreign government, according to documents viewed by Reuters.
The relationship means the People’s Bank of China buys U.S. debt using a different method than any other central bank in the world.
The other central banks, including the Bank of Japan, which has a large appetite for Treasuries, place orders for U.S. debt with major Wall Street banks designated by the government as primary dealers. Those dealers then bid on their behalf at Treasury auctions.
China, which holds $1.17 trillion in U.S. Treasuries, still buys some Treasuries through primary dealers, but since June 2011, that route hasn’t been necessary.
The documents viewed by Reuters show the U.S. Treasury Department has given the People’s Bank of China a direct computer link to its auction system, which the Chinese first used to buy two-year notes in late June 2011.
China can now participate in auctions without placing bids through primary dealers. If it wants to sell, however, it still has to go through the market.
The change was not announced publicly or in any message to primary dealers.
Over-consumption in rich countries and rapid population growth in the poorest both need to be tackled to put society on a sustainable path, a report says.
An expert group convened by the Royal Society spent nearly two years reading evidence and writing their report.
Firm recommendations include giving all women access to family planning, moving beyond GDP as the yardstick of economic health and reducing food waste.
The report will feed into preparations for the Rio+20 summit in June.
"This is an absolutely critical period for people and the planet, with profound changes for human health and wellbeing and the natural environment," said Sir John Sulston, the report’s chairman.
"Where we go is down to human volition - it’s not pre-ordained, it’s not the act of anything outside humanity, it’s in our hands."
Sir John came to fame through heading the UK part of the Human Genome Project.
He shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, and now chairs the Institute for Science Ethics and Innovation at Manchester University.
Back on the table
Although the size of the Earth’s human population used to be a main ingredient of environmental debate, it has fallen off the table in recent years.
The world at seven billion
In part that was because the Earth appeared able to support more people than predictions had suggested, and partly because developing countries came to view the population issue as a smokescreen to hide Western over-consumption.
However it is now back on the table, largely because of research showing that women in the poorest nations generally want access to family planning and that people benefit from it.
The UN’s “medium” projection indicates the population peaking at just over 10 billion before the end of the century, and then starting to fall, from a current level of seven billion.
When the Internet was created, decades ago, one thing was inevitable: the war today over how (or whether) to control it, and who should have that power. Battle lines have been drawn between repressive regimes and Western democracies, corporations and customers, hackers and law enforcement. Looking toward a year-end negotiation in Dubai, where 193 nations will gather to revise a U.N. treaty concerning the Internet, Michael Joseph Gross lays out the stakes in a conflict that could split the virtual world as we know it.
TWO FUTURES? Privacy, piracy, security, sovereignty—the divisions on these issues reflect an even deeper split between those who want tight control and those who want unfettered freedom.
Linguist Noam Chomsky says the decline in American power has been “increasingly self-inflicted” in recent decades.
In the first part of a two-part column for TomDispatch, the political activist argues that America’s decline is very real.
To make the point that the damage has been self-inflicted, Chomsky cites a recent issue of Foreign Affairs that asks “Is America Over?”
“The title article calls for ‘retrenchment’ in the ‘humanitarian missions’ abroad that are consuming the country’s wealth, so as to arrest the American decline that is a major theme of international affairs discourse, usually accompanied by the corollary that power is shifting to the East, to China and (maybe) India,” he writes.
Is he a starchild? Part-alien DNA seems like the most rational explanation for this:
A boy has stunned medics with his ability to see in pitch black with eyes that glow in the dark. Doctors have studied Nong Youhui’s amazing eyesight since his dad took him to hospital in Dahua, southern China, concerned over his bright blue eyes.
Dad Ling said: “They told me he would grow out of it and that his eyes would stop glowing and turn black like most Chinese people but they never did.” Medical tests conducted in complete darkness show Youhui can read perfectly without any light and sees as clearly as most people do during the day.
In the wide world of reporting, the nation of Finland is the very best place to be a journalist — or Norway (they’re tied for first). But in the United States, press freedoms are gradually sinking into the mire, and with them, so too goes the nation’s placement on the annual “Press Freedom Index” put together by Reporters Without Borders.
Because of the numerous reporters arrested by police forces across the country during the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in 2011, the group said that the U.S. fell 27 places on the list over 2010. The final damage: America placed 47th overall, just under Taiwan, Comoros, South Korea and Botswana. Even Ghana, Hungary and Niger received a better rating.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many journalists were harassed, abused or arrested for attempting to cover the protest movement, but reporter Josh Sterns estimates that the number was more than 50 if citizen journalists are counted among them. He noted that police, facing large crowds of angry protesters, have often decided it’s just easier to arrest everyone and figure out who’s who later on.
AFP - Economic and political elites meeting this week at the Swiss resort of Davos will be asked to urgently find ways to reform a capitalist system that has been described as “outdated and crumbling.”
"We have a general morality gap, we are over-leveraged, we have neglected to invest in the future, we have undermined social coherence, and we are in danger of completely losing the confidence of future generations," said Klaus Schwab, host and founder of the annual World Economic Forum.
"Solving problems in the context of outdated and crumbling models will only dig us deeper into the hole.
"We are in an era of profound change that urgently requires new ways of thinking instead of more business-as-usual," the 73-year-old said, adding that "capitalism in its current form, has no place in the world around us."