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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Oceans are Dying - Radiation Leaking from US Reactors into Our water - Obama, the Republican - Man Robs Bank of $1 to Get Prison Healthcare - US Healthcare Worst in Developed World - Miss USA and Evolution - Homophobes Like Gay Porn - more

- Oceans at Dire Risk, Team of Scientists Warns
    The state of the oceans is declining far more rapidly than most pessimists had expected, an international team of experts has concluded, increasing the risk that many marine species — including those that make coral reefs — could be extinct within a generation.
- Tritium Leaks Found at Many Nuke Sites
    Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping, an Associated Press investigation shows.
    The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation.
- $1 Bank Robbery: Of Sound Mind But Not So Much Sound Body
    Pity James Richard Verone, 59, an unemployed, otherwise law-abiding guy who robbed a North Carolina bank of $1 so he could get arrested and get health care for several ailments. It should be a John Prine song; instead, it's America today.
- Healthcare in US ranks last among developed countries: report
    The Healthcare system in the US again ranks last among the seven developed countries in a report by Commonwealth Fund released on Wednesday. The US healthcare fails to perform well on the parameters such as access, patient safety, efficiency, and equity. The other countries in the survey are Britain, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, and New Zealand. The US was ranked last in 2007, 2006, and 2004.
- If This Doesn't Stop You, It's Likely Nothing Will
    Testing our powers of denial, the Food and Drug Administration has released nine new graphic warnings for cigarette packages, the first new labels in over 25 years. The new, explicit warnings - rotting teeth, cancerous lungs, dead bodies - are required to cover at least 50 percent of every pack of cigarettes sold. The FDA hopes they will have "a significant public health impact." Sheesh, you'd think.
- U.N.: Cancer, diabetes kill millions, cost trillions globally
    Ban said the rapidly increasing magnitude of noncommunicable diseases is fueled by rising risk factors including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, lack of physical activity, obesity and harmful alcohol use — and is driven in part by an aging population, the negative impact of urbanization, and the globalization of trade and marketing.
- Is it bird, is it plane? No, it's the work of Bulgarian Banksy
    AN anonymous artist dubbed the Banksy of Bulgaria has transformed statues of Red Army soldiers into superhero and cartoon characters - an action that would have resulted in a firing squad 20 years ago.
- Warming Accelerates Sea Level Rise on U.S. East Coast
    A new study finds that sea levels are creeping up faster along the coast of North Carolina thanks to climate change.
- Keith Olbermann's Current TV Debut: What the Critics Say
    After five months, Keith Olbermann's Countdown returned to TV on Monday night, on a new network, Current TV.
- What We Didn't Do With The $113 Billion We Inexplicably Spent On Afghanistan
    From the National Priorities Project, a list of tradeoffs we're unwillingly making for our senseless wars. We could have bought health care for over 25 million people, 16 million Head Start slots, much good for teachers, firefighters, veterans, students, etc
- Why the GOP Should Nominate Barack Obama in 2012
    With the possible exception of Jon Huntsman, the Republican presidential field is weak on candidates who could appeal to centrist swing voters, including moderate Republicans. But there is one 2012 prospect who has a proven track record of pursuing policies that owe a great deal to the moderate Republican tradition and who could potentially shake up the race for the GOP presidential nomination: President Barack Obama.
    If Obama chose to run for reelection not as a Democrat but as a moderate Republican, he could bring about two healthy transformations in the American political system. The moderate wing of the Republican Party could be restored. And the Democratic presidential nomination might be opened up to politicians from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
- Homophobic Men Most Aroused by Gay Male Porn: Study
    When viewing lesbian sex and straight sex, both the homophobic and the non-homophobic men showed increased penis circumference. For gay male sex, however, only the homophobic men showed heightened penis arousal.
- Newly Crowned Miss USA Was One Of Only Two Contestants Who Believe In Evolution
    California’s 21-year-old Alyssa Campanella took the coveted crown in the 60th Miss USA competition last night. Campanella marks a redeeming win for the state after the now-disgraced Californian Carrie Prejean dismissed marriage equality — or as she put it "opposite marriage" — in 2009. Miss USA seemed to take a breather from political controversy until this year, when the pageant decided to ask the contestants whether they believe evolution should be taught in schools in the preliminary round. A self-proclaimed “science geek,” Campanella affirmed that evolution should indeed be taught in schools because she believes in evolution of humans throughout time. This answer, apparently, won her another title last night. She and Massachusetts’ Alida D’Angona were the only two out of 51 contestants to "unequivocally support" evolution...

Oceans in Distress Foreshadow Mass Extinction
by Marlowe Hood
Published on Monday, June 20, 2011 by Agence France-Presse

PARIS – Pollution and global warming are pushing the world's oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unseen for tens of millions of years, a consortium of scientists warned Monday.

Dying coral reefs, biodiversity ravaged by invasive species, expanding open-water "dead zones," toxic algae blooms, the massive depletion of big fish stocks -- all are accelerating, they said in a report compiled during an April meeting in Oxford of 27 of the world's top ocean experts.

Sponsored by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), the review of recent science found that ocean health has declined further and faster than dire forecasts only a few years ago.

These symptoms, moreover, could be the harbinger of wider disruptions in the interlocking web of biological and chemical interactions that scientists now call the Earth system.
All five mass extinctions of life on the planet, reaching back more than 500 million years, were preceded by many of the same conditions now afflicted the ocean environment, they said.

"The results are shocking," said Alex Rogers, an Oxford professor who heads IPSO and co-authored the report. "We are looking at consequences for humankind that will impact in our lifetime."

Three main drivers are sickening the global marine environment, and all are a direct consequence of humans activity: global warming, acidification and a dwindling level oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia.

Up to now, these and other impacts have been studied mainly in isolation. Only recently have scientists began to understand how these forces interact.

"We have underestimated the overall risks, and that the whole of marine degradation is greater than the sum of its parts," Rogers said. "That degradation is now happening at a faster rate than predicted."

Indeed, the pace of change is tracking or has surpassed the worst-case scenarios laid out by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its landmark 2007 report, according to the new assessment.

The chain reaction leading to increased acidification of the oceans begins with a massive influx of carbon into Earth's climate system.

Oceans act as a massive sponge, soaking up more than a quarter of the CO2 humans pump into the atmosphere.

But when the sponge becomes too saturated, it can disrupt the delicately balanced ecosystems on which marine life -- and ultimately all life on Earth -- depends.

"The rate at which carbon is being absorbed is already far greater now than during the last globally significant extinction of marine species 55 million years ago," when some 50 percent of deep-sea life was wiped out, the report said.

That event, called the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, may be an ancient dress rehearsal for future climate change that could be even more abrupt and more damaging, some scientists fear.

Pollution has also taken a heavy toll, rendering the oceans less resilient to climate change.
Runoff from nitrogen-rich fertiliser, killer microbes, and hormone-disrupting chemicals, for example, have all contributed to the mass die-off of corals, crucial not just for marine ecosystems but a lifeline for hundreds of millions of people too.

The harvesting up to 90 percent of some species of big fish and sharks, meanwhile, has hugely disrupted food chains throughout the ocean, leading to explosive and imbalanced growth of algae, jellyfish and other "opportunistic" flora and fauna.

"We now face losing marine species and entire marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs, within a single generation," said Daniel Laffoley, head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas, and co-author of the report.

"And we are also probably the last generation that has enough time to deal with the problems," he told AFP by phone.