Coastal “Dead Zones” multiplying and expanding

Black spots are Dead Zone locations

“Dead zones” are on the rise, says a new study that identified stark growth in the number of coastal areas where the water has too little oxygen to sustain marine life.

There are now more than 400 known dead zones in coastal waters worldwide, compared to 305 in the 1990s, according to study author Robert Diaz of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

Those numbers are up from 162 in the 1980s, 87 in the 1970s, and 49 in the 1960s, Diaz said. In the 1910s, four dead zones had been identified.

Diaz and co-author Rutger Rosenberg, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said in a press release that dead zones are now “the key stressor on marine ecosystems” and “rank with overfishing, habitat loss, and harmful algal blooms as global environmental problems.”

Dead zones occur when excess nutrients—usually nitrogen and phosphorus—from agriculture or the burning of fossil fuels seep into the water system and fertilize blooms of algae along the coast.

Lousy agricultural practices and agribusiness greed have combined over decades to bring us to this latest node of irresponsibility and ignorance. The latter being the usual excuse for unwillingness to accept responsibility.

A neocon precept on its way to becoming a unique American disease. RTFA.

Nigeria returns Bakassi – and oil reserves – to Cameroon

Nigeria has relinquished control of the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to its neighbor Cameroon despite fears the handover will provoke attacks from local armed groups who oppose it.

The Nigerian government agreed to transfer Bakassi two years ago in line with a 2002 International Court of Justice order but violence, political disputes and legal skirmishes had delayed it. About 50 people have been killed in border fighting in the last year alone.

Analysts said Cameroon will have to confront the deteriorating security situation before it can begin to exploit the region’s offshore oil reserves.

Heightened security concerns in Bakassi forced organizers to cancel a flag-exchanging ceremony at the peninsula’s main town Abana, relocating it instead to a safer venue in Calabar city, some 192 km (120 miles) away.

The two African countries, which nearly went to war over Bakassi on several occasions, have agreed to work together to explore for oil in the region, which could help boost Cameroon’s declining production of around 90,000 barrels per day.

More crappy decisions leftover from more blatant days of colonial empires. In this instance, resulting from Africa being carved up between Germany and Britain.

Too bad there isn’t punctuation which represents spitting in the direction of the crowned heads of Europe!

Stone Age graves from greener days – in the Sahara

When Paul C. Sereno went hunting dinosaur bones in the Sahara, his career took a sharp turn from paleontology to archaeology. The expedition found what has proved to be the largest known graveyard of Stone Age people who lived there when the desert was green.

The first traces of pottery, stone tools and human skeletons were discovered eight years ago at a site in the southern Sahara, in Niger. After preliminary research, Sereno, a University of Chicago scientist who had previously uncovered remains of the dinosaur Nigersaurus there, organized an international team of archaeologists to investigate what had been a lakeside hunting and fishing settlement for the better part of 5,000 years, originating some 10,000 years ago.

In its first comprehensive report, the team described finding some 200 graves belonging to two successive populations. Some burials were accompanied by pottery and ivory ornaments. A girl was buried wearing a bracelet carved from a hippo tusk. A man was interred seated on the carapace of a turtle.

The most poignant scene was the triple burial of a petite woman lying on her side, facing two young children. The slender arms of the children reached out to the woman in an everlasting embrace. Pollen indicated that flowers had decorated the grave…

Read the whole article. Everything from the ever-changing landscape and climate to successive cultures occupying an indyllic spot for habitation – is interesting.

Learn a bit more about when and where we come from.

NYPD: “Smile – you and your car are on Candid Camera”

The Big Apple is turning into Big Brother, civil liberties groups have warned in response to a new plan from New York city’s police chiefs to photograph every vehicle entering Manhattan and hold the details on a massive database…

As well as placing cameras at all tunnels and bridges into Manhattan, the 36-page plan, called Operation Sentinel, calls for a security ring to be erected at Ground Zero and for a 50-mile buffer zone around the city within which mobile units would search for nuclear or “dirty” bombs.

The proposals are partly based on the so-called ring of steel erected around the City of London in the wake of IRA bombings in the 1990s. Though the 3,000 cameras that could be mounted as a result of the plans of the New York police pale in comparison with the multitude of cameras in operation on the UK’s roads and in public places, the proposals have provoked outrage in the United States, where the concept of video surveillance is relatively unfamiliar…

The plan to video the number plates of every vehicle would be applied to all points of entry into Manhattan, including the main Brooklyn-Battery, Holland, Lincoln and Midtown tunnels and Brooklyn, Manhattan and other bridges.

Will they count how many “sheep” enter the city every day?

Yahoo! knows! where! you! are!

Fire Eagle, Yahoo’s new geolocation service, is fresh out of the company’s Brickhouse development team, and third parties are lining up to cut deals.

Who can deny that location is going to become increasingly important for Web services? In the initial rush of coverage, MG Siegler correctly noted that Fire Eagle essentially serves as the intermediary between services offering that geolocation capability and those wishing to make use of it.

From a business perspective, Yahoo probably has a winner. Whether it’s Fire Eagle or a better, similar incarnation by someone else, this is another signpost of a future where we choose from a panoply of location-based services. From what I understand of Fire Eagle, I can’t find any evidence that it won’t succeed. Already, more than 50 services make use of the Fire Eagle technology and more will follow. Unfortunately, don’t you just know that some marketing go-getter is going to figure out a way to exploit location-based programs to shove targeted advertising (and spam, naturally) down our throats as we navigate around town. Again, you don’t have to play. And you can shut the darned thing off for a time. Still…

The reassuring part is that Fire Eagle is permission-based. And Tom Coates, who joined Yahoo from the BBC to serve as product director at Yahoo’s Brickhouse, said all the right things about protecting privacy rights at the Fire Eagle debut. The service does allow you to restrict location reporting or even shut it down for a period of time. Without that variable privacy feature, Fire Eagle would be one more hellish intrusion into our already over-snooped, overwrought lives.

In fact, Fire Eagle will ask you every month or so to review your permissions. Reminding you of the responsibility to order your own life – and who gets to watch.

State and federal government fails to prosecute Internet fraud cases

While Web users drown in spam and fend off scams aimed at stealing their money, U.S. federal and state law enforcement authorities are doing little to resolve what has become a multi-billion-dollar problem. In the 20 states that give a number for consumer complaints, there were roughly 20,000 Internet-related complaints in 2007.

Eight states put Internet-related complaints among their top-three consumer headaches in 2007 while 24 states had some form of online fraud in their top 10 complaints, according to the Center for American Progress (CAP).

And the complaints are not unfounded; spyware, viruses and phishing cost consumers $7.1 billion in 2007, up from $2 billion the previous year.

Despite the large number of complaints, the group found few prosecutions of online fraud.

“It’s clear … that state attorneys general are not doing a whole lot about Internet consumer protection,” Reece Rushing, CAP’s director of regulatory and information policy, said at a news conference. “They haven’t made it a priority. In the states that have made it a priority they’ve been able to win settlements.”

Surprise, surprise. Our elected officials combine with civil servants to achieve little or nothing to benefit the body politic. As usual, citizens will have to band together and make a hell of a lot of noise to get our “leaders” up off their rusty-dustys.

Attorney General says breaking civil service law isn’t a crime. Wha?

Chief legal dimwit

Former U.S. Justice Department officials who improperly used political criteria in hiring decisions for career lawyers and immigration judges will not be prosecuted, says Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

“Where there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we vigorously prosecute,” he told the American Bar Association annual meeting in New York. “But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime. In this instance, the two joint reports found only violations of the civil service laws.”
Continue reading

‘Snooper’s charter’ to record everyone’s texts and emails

Local councils, health authorities and hundreds of other public bodies are to be given the power to access details of everyone’s personal text, emails and internet use under Home Office proposals.

Ministers want to make it mandatory for telephone and internet companies to keep details of all personal internet traffic for at least 12 months so it can be accessed for investigations into crime or other threats to public safety.

The Home Office last night admitted that the measure will mean companies have to store “a billion incidents of data exchange a day”. As the measure is the result of an EU directive, the data will be made available to public investigators across Europe.

The consultation paper published yesterday estimates that it will cost the internet industry over £50m to store the mountain of data.

When the measure was floated after the London bombings in 2005 by the then home secretary, Charles Clarke, it was justified on the grounds that it was needed to investigate terrorist plots and organised crime. But the Home Office document makes clear that the personal data will now be available for all sorts of crime and public order investigations and may even be used to prevent people self-harming.

You know Uncle Sugar will have to get his share of spy data. How can you possibly control the thoughts of any European nation without proper leadership from the International Standard in Thought Police?

Even though Euro and Brit constitutions haven’t the freedoms cast in stone that the US government is rapidly taking away – you’d think the lessons of Hitler and Stalin would have had some residual effect. Perhaps not?

Angry wife sells display of her hubby’s adultery on eBay

An Australian woman has taken revenge on her cheating husband by putting a photograph of his lover’s underpants up for sale on the auction site eBay.

In the listing the woman says she is selling a picture of a pair of lacy black knickers and an empty condom wrapper “size small” found in her bed after her husband had an affair with another woman.

The seller — identified on eBay only as annastella007 — provides a rather unflattering description of the knickers.

They are so huge I thought they may make someone a nice shawl or, even better, something for Halloween perhaps.”

Tee hee…