March 31, 2013

China’s Main Export : Environmental Horror!


Is Environmental Horror Perhaps China’s Biggest Export?
Cleaning workers retrieve the carcasses of pigs from a branch of Huangpu River in Shanghai, on March 10, 2013. Nearly 3,000 pigs have been found dead in one of Shanghai's main water sources, triggering a public outcry in the country for food safety and pollution concerns. (Photo: Stringer/Reuters)The recent spate of sad and nasty ecological news coming out of China—nearly 3,000 dead pigs and 1,000 dead ducks found floating in a river that provides Shanghai with its drinking water—takes me back to my first visit to the country. The first time I was in western China, exploring a tributary of the Yangtze River, we got badly lost and ended up on a winding road leading through landscapes I’m sure the Chinese government that had given us the permit never intended for us to see.
All around forests were clear-cut, paper plants were built on riversabove towns, children with deformities were visible in outsized numbers on the streets, and the air was so hazy at midday that many people wore medical masks, even indoors.
That was in 1996.
Nearly three decades later, things have only gotten worse as China’s human population, energy needs and consumerism have all escalated.
In his new book, The Devouring Dragon, How China’s Rise Threatens Our Natural World, author Craig Simons expands on the problem, suggesting that the ills of China are not just bad for the Chinese, but one of its biggest exports is now environmental calamity.
The country's boom times, he contends, are impacting everything from dirty air and water around the globe to fast-climbing temperatures and fast-disappearing wildlife.
China, of course, is not to blame for the fact that the planet is screeching to an inevitable environmental meltdown. The U.S. and Europe have long led that charge thanks to healthy economies and the ability to earn and spend at will. The West has done a very good job of exporting by example its own energy-sucking lifestyle, which is now deemed desirable by burgeoning middle classes in China—and India, Russia, Brazil too.
But pollution created by the world’s biggest nation, 1.3 billion headed quickly to 1.5 billion, is accelerating global environmental problems on a scale not seen before. (Don’t forget those dead, floating pigs.)
Simons’ China experience began as a Peace Corps volunteer the same year I first visited, in 1996. He has reported from there since. A few of the most egregious examples of China’s pollution exports and imports:
- In 2011, China burned more than four billion tons of coal, almost half the world’s total and four times what was burned in the U.S. the same year. By comparison, in 1976, it was only burning 550 million tons.
- The illegal wildlife trade, from elephant tusks to tiger skin pelts and shark fins, is dominated by China’s demand. We are used to stories of excessive wedding parties where every table has a pot of shark fin soup on the table or miniature cityscapes carved from elephant ivory, but as Simons points out, some of the proudest Buddhists in Tibet still wear tiger skin robes as a sign of success.
- China’s fat pocketbook and voracious energy needs are having an impact far from home wherever fossil fuels are dug out of the earth. The nation has funded natural gas pipelines from Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan, has put $35 billion into railroads “to transport copper and coal out of Africa and into the power plants of China,” and is currently building half of all the nuclear reactors under construction globally. China’s energy and food needs are so big the country is buying up existing power plants from Tanzania to Saudi Arabia and farmland across Russia, Australia and Argentina.
- Dams proliferate across China, none bigger than the one built at the Three Gorges on the Yangtze River. The 360-mile long reservoir that stretches above the dam submerged more than 100 cities and towns and tens of thousands of acres of farmland. A recent Chinese hydrologists report called the Yangtze “cancerous,” and warned that two thirds of it may already be dead—unable to support either plants or fish. Why is the health of the world’s third longest river important? Because it supports 40 percent of China’s economic output and almost one-third of its people.
- While half of China’s 1.3 billion people live simple, rural lives putting very little strain on the environment, as China becomes richer they will worry little about climate change and more about keeping up with the Joneses. One example: In 2000 there were roughly 15 million gas-powered vehicles in China. Today that number has grown to 125 million (about half what we have in the U.S.); by 2030 it is expected to grow to at least 600 million, maybe as many as one billion.
China today—like the other fast-growing mega-nations, especially India—is obsessed with growth. Slowing it down seems impossible. Fueling that growth requires evermore burning of dirty fossil fuels, which turn skies into haze and light rivers on fire.
Simons’ firsthand stories from China today do not fill anyone with great optimism. His conclusion is simple, perhaps overly simple, but hopeful: The world belongs to all of us. We need to decide what matters. And then act.
A six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council, Jon Bowermaster has spent the past two decades circling the world’s ocean, studying both its health and the lives of the people who depend on it. He is the author of 11 books (his most recent, OCEANS, Threats to Our Seas and What You Can Do to Turn the Tide, was published by Participant Media) and producer of a dozen documentary films. His blog—Notes From Sea Level—reports daily on issues impacting the ocean and us. Follow Jon on Facebook. @jonbowermaster  |  Email Jon |TakePart.com

Cardinal Dolan 'Gays Are Entitled to Friendship but Not Sexual Love'


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America's most high-profile Catholic official, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has warned that the church needs to "do better" to ensure its "defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people". But he added that gay people were only entitled to "friendship" not "sexual love".
Asked about gay marriage in a week when the US supreme court heard two cases regarding same sex marriage, the archbishop of New Yorktold ABC's This Week: "We want your happiness. You are entitled to friendship. But we also know that God has told us that the way to happiness, that – especially when it comes to sexual love – that is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally."
Speaking on Easter Sunday, Dolan cautioned that the church had not done a good job of defending its views on marriage. "I admit, we haven't been too good at that. We try our darndest to make sure we're not anti-anybody. We're in the defense of what God has taught us about – about marriage. And it's one man, one woman, forever, to bring about new life," he said. "We've got to better… to try to take that away from being anti-anybody."
Dolan told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that sometime "by nature, the church has got to be out of touch with concerns, because we're always supposed to be thinking of the beyond, the eternal, the changeless." He added: "Our major challenge is to continue in a credible way to present the eternal concerns to people in a timeless attractive way. And sometimes there is a disconnect – between what they're going through and what Jesus and his church is teaching. And that's a challenge for us."
His comments came after the supreme court heard arguments about the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 banning gay marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (Doma), legislation brought in by president Bill Clinton that restricts federal marriage benefits to opposite sex couples.
Polls show a majority of voters now back same-sex marriage, and that shift is increasingly being reflected in Washington. Earlier this month Bill Clinton joined president Barack Obama in calling Doma unconstitutional. In an editorial in the Washington Post he wrote: "When I signed the bill, I included a statement with the admonition that "enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at times divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for discrimination." Reading those words today, I know now that, even worse than providing an excuse for discrimination, the law is itself discriminatory. It should be overturned.”

The View’s Hasselbeck Being Booted Out of Show


Hasselbeck, 35, the View's lone conservative voice, reportedly won’t return next season. She will join Joy Behar, who announced Thursday that she’s bailing on the show in August after 16 years — leaving only Barbara Walters as the show’s last original co-host.
Meanwhile, the Web site Showbiz411.com reported that Barbara Walters wants actress Brooke Shields to join her on the show.
Hasselbeck has occasionally clashed with her co-anchors over political issues — most famously with blustery liberal Rosie O’Donnell, who spent one turbulent season on the show (2006-07).
ABC via Getty Images
ABC is cutting Hasselbeck loose because she tested poorly in market research — with viewers finding her opinions too strident and extreme, according to a report in Us Weekly.

China is REally Pissed at Apple, They Were Buddies, What Happened?


Watch this video
  


Hong Kong (CNN) -- State-run media in China has lambasted Apple Inc. for "unparalleled arrogance" over alleged complaints about customer service in China.
The Wednesday opinion piece in the Chinese state-run newspaper, the People's Daily, is one of a series of attacks against the U.S. tech giant by Chinese media since a closely watched consumer affairs show aired on the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on March 15.
CCTV alleged that Apple provides inferior service to Chinese customers, such as a warranty policy that is different from other countries.
"If you insist on challenging Chinese customers' love and patience, and continue to be heedless, then your business will eventually decline no matter how glamorous or successful your brand is," said the editorial, one of several articles published this week in the People's Daily critical of Apple.
Apple declined to comment on the editorial. In a previous statement made Saturday after the CCTV exposé aired, Apple said that its practices in China are "completely legal."
"We have been working to exceed consumers' expectations, and we highly value every customer's criticism and suggestions," the statement said.
"Apple's Chinese warranty is more or less the same as in the U.S. and all over the world."
Apple also says it provides a 90-day guarantee on repairs, which is three times longer than required under Chinese law.
The People's Daily editorial also called for China to regulate the practices of foreign businesses and to protect its own consumers and the domestic market.
Apple wasn't the only foreign company targeted in the CCTV broadcast. Volkswagen announced last week it would recall nearly 385,000 cars in China after the CCTV program questioned the safety of the direct shift gearbox in some Volkswagen models.

After the CCTV broadcast aired, Chinese celebrities posted comments on social media sites in support of the program. Children's literature writer Zheng Yuanjie wrote, "I hope the missing part on Apple's logo isn't their conscience," according to the South China Morning Post.
But a comment from the Weibo account of Taiwanese-American actor, Peter Ho, that included the words "To be published around 8.20pm" raised suspicions that the Chinese stars had been recruited to post negative comments.

Ho later deleted the comment and claimed his account had been hacked.
Social media sites in China have been flooded with criticism against the negative media reports about Apple, claiming that the press is avoiding more serious pro

blems affecting the country.
 i Analysts say that the smear campaign could be linked to Apple's expansion in the Chinese market. China is Apple's fastest growing market and second largest after the U.S.
Apple's sales in the greater China region, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, rose 67% last year to $6.93 billion from $4.08 billion in 2011.
cnn.com

Horse Meat Scandal Is Making Cannibals and Cat/Dog Eaters of Us All


  

 New horsemeat scandal makes cannibals and dog eaters of us all









THE horsemeat scandal was particularly troubling, not because we may have all eaten the incredible Mr Ed, but rather, it prompted so many awful jokes that we all wished we’d eaten something fatal instead.
However, horsemeat is the last of your worries after food experts analysed a random dish bought in London which contained ‘mystery meat’.
While ‘mystery meat’ sounds quite exciting, the analysts couldn’t rule out the idea that the dish served could’ve contained dog, cat or, even more exciting, HUMAN!
Speaking about the unidentified flesh, Surinder Phull said: “It’s absolutely terrifying because if it isn’t any of the meats we know, well what is it? Where’s it come from? Where was it slaughtered? Was it hygienic? Are there any bacteria it was covered with?”
The findings are part of a BBC Three show called ‘Horsemeat Banquet’ and they brought together a bunch of weeds who are disgusted at the thought of eating horse. Of course, these people should just shut-up with their whining because eating horse is no different to eating a cute baby sheep.
However, eating human beings might be a different matter altogether (although, let us be honest here, we’ve got too many people around and a Solyent Green producing cull wouldn’t go amiss).
Interestingly, some non-human meals showed bizarre ingenuity. One burger was found to contain absolutely no meat, but rather, a patty made entirely out of cow’s blood.
A show spokesman said:
“Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, the results came in for an Indian lamb curry. It did contain meat – but it was not lamb, not pork, nor was it chicken or beef. Not horse, and not goat either. At this moment, the lab is unable to identify exactly which animal this meat came from.”
Wasp curry anyone?

To Celebrate Easter and Spring I give You Cluck The Luminers’ in "HO HEY"

It’s Good Friday, so what more perfect way to celebrate the Easter season

 than Blake Shelton and Nick Offerman joining Jimmy Fallon on Late Night in giant chicken costumes to cluck out The Lumineers’
 “      "Ho Hey.” 







Justin’s Monkey Gets Confiscated in Germany A Good Thing it Was Not Jon Hamm Ham’s


(Instagram)
Justin Bieberhad his monkey confiscated and detained by customs officials in Germany this week because the pop star did not have the proper documentation for the animal.
The singer arrived in Munich on Thursday, but did not have the necessary papers for his recently acquired capuchin monkey.
The animal was held and quarantined by the authorities, a customs spokesperson confirmed to theAssociated Press on Saturday.
Bieber will reportedly be required to pay a fine and the cost of the quarantine.
He seemed to have a good time in the city in spite of the monkey snafu, tweeting after his show, “Munich was a good time. And loud. The bus is headed to Vienna now. U coming?”
And now it appears Bieber and his beloved pet may be reunited.
On Saturday, the Biebs posted new monkey shots to Instagram (see below).
Are Bieber and the monkey back together, or is he just wistful for times gone by?
Stay tuned as Monkeygate unfolds.
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March 30, 2013

DOMA Layers Talk about Their Arguments Everywhere but The Suprme Ct. Shy or Felt Stupid?


gay marriage argumentTwo men argue over the topic of gay marriage in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, as the nation's highest court heard oral arguments on constitutionality California's Proposition 8, regarding same-sex marriage.
 
Former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who was chosen by House Republicans to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court, had previously argued that people can change their sexual orientation, that marriage is only for couples that can produce children, that gay and lesbian couples could be worse parents than heterosexuals, and that barring same-sex marriage "encourage[s] heterosexual relationships."
But in a sign that the anti-same-sex marriage crowd may be losing faith in its own rhetoric, Clement didn't deploy any of those arguments at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Instead, he stuck to trying to convince the justices that the Defense of Marriage Act didn't infringe on the states' power. Clement insisted that defining marriage as between one man and one woman was acceptable because the federal government needs to characterize marriage for its own purposes. Clement never bothered trying to prove that excluding same-sex couples from marriage is a valid government interest in and of itself. Consequently, he never had to unleash his most controversial arguments. There was nothing in his case for DOMA that mirrored the apocalyptic conservative language of the last decade warning that same-sex marriage could lead to the downfall of Western civilization.

Clement had good reason to tone it down. A day earlier, former Reagan-era Justice Department official Charles J. Cooper, defending California's ban on same-sex marriage, had not fared so well. When Cooper argued that California was justified in enacting the ban because of "society's interest in responsible procreation," Justice Elena Kagan asked if it would be constitutional to ban marriages between infertile couples. When Cooper argued that it's possible that same-sex marriage harms children, Justice Anthony Kennedy pointed out that there were already more than 40,000 children being raised by same-sex couples in California. Asked by Kennedy and Kagan how same-sex marriage could have a negative effect on "traditional" marriages, Cooper couldn't offer any examples.
Oral arguments may not sway the justices themselves, but they can affect how the public sees the case. And Cooper's case against same-sex marriage looked terrible: not rooted in any evidence, and founded on moral disapproval of homosexuality or simple prejudice.  
Clement had made many of Cooper's arguments in legal briefs he filed months ago with the court in advance of the arguments. But on Wednesday, Clement acted as if the questionable assumptions about homosexuality in his brief didn't exist. He never referred to the argument that sexual orientation is a choice, which the American Psychological Association says is wrong. (This mistaken notion has led to a harmful industry of charlatans who claim they can purge people of their unwanted same-sex attractions.) Clement didn't claim that marriage is only for couples who can procreate—or he might have found himself in the same awkward position as Cooper, trying to explain why the government cannot also ban marriages between couples too old to have children. Clement also didn't assert that being raised by same-sex parents might be bad for children. (The APA, citing social-science research, has stated, "the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents.") Clement didn't maintain that banning same-sex marriage was necessary to "encourage" heterosexual relationships.
The Democratic appointees on the court did repeatedly attempt to force Clement to defend the underlying anti-gay bias of the Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in 1996. "Well, is what happened in 1996—and I'm going to quote from the House report here—is that 'Congress decided to reflect and honor our collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality'?" Kagan said. "Is that what happened in 1996?"
Clement replied that the court shouldn't strike down the Defense of Marriage Act "just because a couple of legislators may have had an improper motive." Clement was in a tight spot. He had to concede that "moral disapproval" was an "improper motive" for the law because of prior Supreme Court decisions finding that "moral disapproval" doesn't justify a law that discriminates against a group of people. But would any supporters of the Defense of Marriage Act deny that their opposition to same-sex marriage was motivated by "moral disapproval" of homosexuality? Of course not. That's the bottom line. 
So Clement avoided looking like a homophobic crank while arguing that same-sex couples shouldn't have the same rights as everyone else. Sticking to the federalism argument may have been a tactical decision to avoid alienating Justice Kennedy, who is sympathetic to gay and lesbian rights. Or it could be that the lawyer chosen by anti-gay advocates to make their case realizes that they don't have much of one left.

Marie Osmond Gives Support to Her Lesbian Daughter


marie-osmond-05-09-daughters
Jessica Osmond, left, with sister Rachael in January 2009.
At a time when the Mormon Church is slowly softening its formerly hard-line stance against gays and lesbians, one of the religion’s best-known members is speaking out openly for marriage equality.
“The God that I believe in is a god of love, not fear,” singer Marie Osmond recently told Diane Sawyer in an interview promoting her new memoir, “The Key Is Love: My Mother’s Wisdom, A Daughter’s Gratitude.”
The shift in Osmond’s attitude is due to her lesbian daughter Jessica, she said.
“I believe in (my daughter’s) civil rights, as a mother,” Osmond told Sawyer. “I think that my daughter deserves everything that she desires in life. She’s a good girl. She’s a wonderful child. … I don't think God made one color flower. I think he made many.”
This isn’t the first time that Osmond, 53, has spoken out for her daughter and other LGBT people. During a Los Angeles radio interview in 2009, she talked about her daughter and said, “I think everybody should have the right to share homes and finances with somebody that they care about. You know on those types of things I'm very supportive. When it comes to marriage ... I think that civil rights need to be for all.”
Osmond’s famous siblings, however, don’t appear to share her views. Donny Osmond, with whom she co-hosted a popular television show in the 1970s and recorded several hit songs, has spoken out against marriage equality. Alan Osmond, another brother, staged a “pro-family,” anti-gay rally at the Utah State Capitol last we

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