Around the World

News from around the globe impacting our world.

Unrest in Syria Growing. Al Jazeera reports continuing and widening unrest across Syria. Gunfire erupted overnight in the Syrian city of Homs where thousands of anti-government protesters had gathered in the main square, a day after activists said at least 25 people were killed there. Homs has been cordoned off by Syrian state security. Gunfire erupted overnight in the Syrian city of Homs where thousands of anti-government protesters had gathered in the main square, a day after activists said at least 25 people were killed there.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that the newly appointed Cabinet in Syria has lifted the country's state of emergency laws, which have been in effect since 1963. The official Sana news agency says the government has also approved abolishing the state security court, which handled the trials of political prisoners, and a new law allowing the right to peaceful protests. The bill requires the signature of president Assad to take effect but that is expected to be a formality.

Saudi Oil Did Not Compensate for Libyan Loss. The OPEC Monthly Oil Market Report and IEA Oil Market Report both came out last week. The Oil Drum finds that in March Libyan production plummeted but that Saudi Arabia made no significant move to compensate for the shortfall. Combined with uncertainty in Nigeria in advance of election and speculative forces, oil prices rose.

Saudi Arms Deals in the Works? The Asia Times reports that despite the coolness in US-Saudi relations over the unrest in Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is looking to expand its recent $60 billion USD deal to buy additional weaponry from the US.

Death Toll Rises in Uganda. Opposition protests continue amidst a widening crackdown by government forces. Army and police units yesterday used tear gas, bullets and truncheons to break up protests against rising food and fuel prices around the country, leaving at least one person dead in Kampala, and bringing the death toll to four in three days. President Yoweri Museveni, a darling of the US Christian Right, ordered social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Several opposition leaders have been arrested and bloodied for leading a "walk to work" campaign. All Africa has more on this developing story.

Violence in the Islamic North in Nigeria. Violence erupted in the largely Muslim northern part of the country as the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south was declared the winner of the presidential election in this critical but cleft oil producing West African nation. More from All Africa.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week - Heatwave Edition

The July 30th edition of Peter Sinclair's Climate Denial Crock of the Week tackles the latest deranged response by the obstreperous climate change deniers to the inescapable fact that 2010 promises to be one of the hottest, if not the hottest on record.

The Week looks at the Russian heatwave, one of the more notable extreme weather events afflicting the planet, by the numbers:

 

73° F
Normal daily high in Moscow during the summer months

101°
Temperature in Moscow on Thursday — the highest reading ever in the city

111°
Temperature on Monday in the fire-ravaged southern provence of Voronezh

25 million
Acres of crops ruined by the heat wave

50%
Expected decline in Russia's wheat exports this year

1,000%
Increase in air pollution in Moscow last week due to peat bog fires near the city

2
Packs of cigarettes one would have to smoke per day to equal the effects of Moscow's smog-choked air

300%
Increase in sales of Russian soft drinks

500
Number of new fires emergency crews have discovered in the past day

180,000
Number of people working to fight the blazes

2,000
Approximate number of people — many of them intoxicated — who have drowned while attempting to cool off in rivers

8/1
Date on which Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox church, asked for all Russians to "to unite in prayer for rain to descend on our earth."

 

Van Jones: "Nobody Should Pollute for Free"

Van Jones, the noted environmentalist who was hounded out of the Obama Administration by Glenn Beck and Fox News, spoke last month at the Commonwealth Club of California here in San Francisco. In his speech, he called for a "serious climate and energy bill" to stop companies from dumping "planet-cooking pollution" into the atmosphere. "If you take away that right to pollute for free," says Jones, "you send a signal to the only force in the world that can solve this problem - the entrepreneur."

He also described how the third wave of environmentalism -- the investment wave -- could solve inequality and catastrophe with a "Green New Deal" mindset.  The Commonwealth Club awarded Van Jones a 21st Century Visionary Award for guiding the nation to ecological equality.

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Quick Hits

Here are a few other news stories and interesting reads.

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, currently running third in the state's Republican gubernatorial primary race, has noted that he is not sure that Islam is a religion and that thus he's not sure if Constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion apply to Muslims. The full story with video from Talking Points Memo.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit on the Whoppi Goldberg hosted and female oriented daytime talk show "The View" on Thursday. Executive producers Barbara Walters and Bill Geddie said in making Monday's announcement that it will mark the first time a sitting U.S. president has visited a daytime talk show. Obama's interview will touch on topics including jobs, the economy, the Gulf oil spill and family life inside the White House. It is scheduled to be taped on Wednesday.

The Denver Post reports that former GOP Congressman and immigration zealot will run for Governor of Colorado on the American Constitution Party ticket.

BP CEO Tony Hayward is to step down by the end of the year. He will also get an immediate annual pension worth about £600,000 ($930,000) when he leaves according to the BBC. Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reports that Hayward will take a new job with a BP joint venture in Russia. Also see Nathan's expanded post.

The National Journal has a story on the nation's rapidly changing demographics entitled The Gray And The Brown: The Generational Mismatch. A snippet:

At the root of the generational mismatch are federal policies that severely reduced immigration from the 1920s until Congress loosened the restrictions in 1965. With immigration constrained, whites remained an overwhelming majority of American society through the mid-20th century, including the years of the post-World War II Baby Boom. (Demographers date the Baby Boom from 1946 to 1964, the year before the restrictions on immigration were eased.) The result was a heavily white generation of young people.

"Most Boomers grew up and lived much of their lives in predominantly white suburbs, residentially isolated from minorities," Frey wrote this spring. They are now graying into a senior generation that is four-fifths white, according to census figures.

Since 1965, however, expanded immigration and higher fertility rates among minorities have literally changed the face of America, particularly on the playground. As recently as 1980, minorities made up about one-fifth of the total population and one-fourth of children under 18. Today, the Census Bureau reports, racial minorities represent about 35 percent of the total population and 44 percent of children under 18. Whites make up 56 percent of young people and 80 percent of seniors. The 24-point spread between the white percentage of the senior and the youth populations is what Frey calls the cultural generation gap.

This split has widened rapidly over the past quarter-century. In 1980, it stood at just 14 percentage points, according to calculations performed by the Census Bureau for National Journal. The gap expanded to 18 points by 1990 and 23 points by 2000. Today, it is visible across a wide swath of the U.S. In 31 states, the difference between the white share of the senior and youth population is at least 19 percentage points.

The article goes on to discuss the political implications of this racial and generational divide. Another somewhat related story below.

Climate refugees are already a fact of life. But a new study suggests that the number is to grow exponentially. As many as 7 million Mexicans could migrate to the U.S. by 2080 as climate change reduces agricultural production in Mexico, according to a new study being published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. More from the Los Angeles Times.

A Failure of Government

The Senate Democratic leadership have decided to not move forward on a comprehensive energy and climate legislative bill after failing to gain any support from the GOP. It's a failure of government and one with tremendous consequences for life as we know it on this planet. While the bill failed to gain any Republican votes, a number of Democratic lawmakers from manufacturing and coal-producing states were expected to oppose the energy and climate bill.

Instead, Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid intends to move forward next week on a bipartisan energy-only bill that responds to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and contains other more popular energy items. The bill headed to the floor will not include a carbon cap or a renewable electricity standard but will contain provisions dealing with the oil spill, Home Star energy efficiency upgrades, incentives for the conversion of trucking fleet to natural gas and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The story in the New York Times:

After a meeting of Senate Democrats, party leaders on Thursday said they had abandoned hope of passing a comprehensive energy bill this summer and would pursue a more limited measure focused primarily on responding the Gulf oil spill and including some tightening of energy efficiency standards.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, a champion of comprehensive climate change legislation called the new goal “admittedly narrow.”

At a news conference, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, blamed Republicans for refusing to cooperate. “We don’t have a single Republican to work with us,” Mr. Reid said.

Democrats said they would continue to pursue broader climate change legislation.

“This is not the only energy legislation we are going to do,” Mr. Reid said. “This is what we can do now.”

Senate Democrats had already scaled back their plans to pursue limits on greenhouse gas emissions, like those in a bill approved by the House last year. Instead, the Senate Democrats had said they would seek a cap on carbon emissions only for power plants. But even that proved overly ambitious.

Even before the proverbial plug was pulled on the energy and climate bill, Timothy Egan of the New York Times had a smart column with choice words for the most dangerous man on the planet today, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma.

Last month was the hottest June ever recorded worldwide, and 2010 is on course to be the warmest year since record-keeping began, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In Senator Inhofe’s home state of Oklahoma, the National Weather Service issued a warning this week of “dangerous heat index values” of up to 110 degrees. A report from AccuWeather.com last month stated that, this year, “no other region has seen the variety of extreme weather” as much as Oklahoma.

Extreme weather. Perfect for an extreme politician, a man who won his senate seat in 1994 by using, as his slogan, the actual words of a cynical strategy to get people to think about anything but real issues: “God, guns, and gays.” Maybe, with this weather, God is trying to tell the senator something.

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