Open thread

Kudos to California!  It had to start somewhere.  “California on Wednesday sued six of the world’s largest automakers, including General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp., over global warming, charging that greenhouse gases from their vehicles have caused billions of dollars in damages.”  I know.  I know…  You’re thinking this is really stupid and the wrong way to handle this.  Well, I’d normally agree except, as I said, it had to start somewhere.  Is CO2 a new discovery?  No.  Is global warming a new discovery?  No.  Is pollution a new discovery?  No.  Dare I dredge up more examples?  No.  The point is car manufacturers have for too long been irresponsible corporate denizens of Earth.  Governments are failing sorrowfully to enforce any level of responsibility on them, so they continue making products that do harm.  But, unlike cigarettes which have been attacked and regulated to the point of extinction, car makers endanger even those who do not own or drive a car, yet we do not hold them accountable.  And why not?  Tell me what the difference is between dramatically increased and acute asthma, all manner of cardiovascular diseases, the extinction of whole species (many of them), endangering the welfare of all of humanity, endangering the welfare of all life on the planet…  We can stop with that last one, methinks.  I certainly doubt this lawsuit will be successful; nevertheless, there is tremendous value in the attempt.  If nothing else, it might push automobile manufactures to consider more seriously their options in vehicle design.

Where would your rat hide?  That’s just too cute.

Try not to laugh all at once.  Despite our nation’s intelligence agencies and Congress proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that no link whatsoever existed between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Usama bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida terrorism network, the Bush régime followed that undeniable truth with much stomping of feet and screaming that such a link did in fact exist.  Do they offer definitive proof?  Of course not.  Do they have a shred of evidence that even calls into question the facts we already have on hand?  Of course not.  They embarrassingly declare a link existed regardless of what we know.  That’s ever so shameful.  And it speaks to the honesty and integrity of our president and his cronies when they will stand in denial of every bit of proof our government has to offer.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has discovered a new ring around Saturn.  How cool is that!  They also found some other interesting new tidbits about the planet.  In addition, they caught a glimpse of home from Saturn’s orbit.  Pale blue dot indeed…

But wait!  There’s more space news.  Remember Voyager 1?  It “left Earth in 1977 on a mission to visit Jupiter and Saturn. Almost 30 years later, with the gas giants long ago seen and done, Voyager 1 is still going and encountering some strange things.”  That includes magnetic potholes and solar winds that don’t match any of our equations or projections.

Happy belated birthday to H.G. Wells.  From The Time Machine to The Island Of Dr. Moreau to The War of the Worlds, almost everyone has enjoyed his imagination directly via a book, radio program, and/or movie.  His progeny, in whatever form they take, carry us to the wondrous and the fantastic and every point in between.

So, torture works, huh?  Think again.  Six medical personnel in Libya have been tortured since 1999.  They finally admitted to a crime only because admissions were written in Arabic, a language they could not read, and overwhelming agony from torture made them wish for anything — even death, which is precisely what they will get.  Five Bulgarians and one Palestinian have been sentenced to death for intentionally spreading HIV.  What’s the proof?  No one knows aside from forced confessions in response to unimaginable torture.  That, poppets, is the kind of interrogation technique our president would like to us.

In the meantime, do something about this horrific event.  Show we Americans are not this inhumane.  Don’t let Bush tell you what is and isn’t American in these matters.  We know the truth.  And if you didn’t read the whole article linked to above, go do it.  Don’t make me hate you.  If you don’t get it the first time, if you don’t understand why this absolutely cannot be who we are and what we do, read it again and again and again until it sinks in that we are human and we act humanely.  That is, after all, what America has always used as its moral foundation, is it not?

Just don’t tell the Christians or they’ll make us hide it and deny it exists.  “Scientists have discovered a remarkably complete skeleton of a 3-year-old female from the ape-man species represented by ‘Lucy.’ […] The remains are 3.3 million years old, making them the oldest known skeleton of such a youthful human ancestor.”

A novel use of the Endangered Species Act that I hope is successful.  In Hawai’i, at least three species of nocturnal birds who navigate by moonlight are on the verge of extinction due to artificial light sources that cause them to hit power lines, buildings, and other obstacles.  The vast majority of those killed in such accidents are young birds leaving the nest for the first time.  Now, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is using federal law to limit artificial light sources, including street lights, parking lot and building lights, and so on.  Basically, all nonessential lights are to be turned off or significantly darkened between “September 15 and December 15, when the young birds leave their nests for the open sea.”  If the fledglings cannot get the protection necessary to ensure they make it to the sea, all three species will be lost forever.

There’s a lot of conjecture right now on the subject of possible strike preparations against Iran by US forces.  Let us hope it is just conjecture.  Also, despite all the evidence to the contrary, let us hope our government is not that stupid.  Then again, such a move prior to the November election would undoubtedly work in favor of Republicans.  October could be very interesting…

Friday Ark #105 is up, so visit throughout the weekend for updates.

More disturbing analysis of Greenland’s ongoing ice melt: “Greenland’s ice sheet is melting into the sea much faster today than it was just a few years ago, according to an analysis of satellite observations reported today in the journal Nature. The rate of ice-mass loss from the Danish-owned island increased by 250 percent during a period spanning May 2004 to April 2006 relative to the period from April 2002 to April 2004, the study concludes.”

And on a related note, we may see polar bears go extinct much sooner than any would care to admit, and all because of climate change:

[T]he new study suggests that at least two polar bear populations in the Canadian Arctic are in fact shrinking, and three other groups may face similar pressures.

“We have pretty good evidence that the populations are actually being overharvested, and they’re both declining,” said Canadian Wildlife Service polar bear biologist Ian Stirling, who co-wrote the study.

A more likely explanation for the increased bear sightings, Stirling says, is that Arctic sea ice is breaking up earlier each summer.

“The bears have less time to feed at the best time of year in order to lay on the fat they fast on through the open-water season in the summer and fall,” Stirling said.

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