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FEATURE

Gray Wolves Off Endangered List





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he U.S. Department of the Interior took the Northern Rockies' Gray Wolf off the endangered list today, opening them up for hunting as described in this earlier post from our managing editor.

CNN/AP reports that the "removal from the endangered list was announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Interior. The loss of federal protection allows states to move forward with public hunts for the animals, possibly as soon as this fall."

Environmental groups have promised to sue to keep the wolves on the list:

LIVINGSTON, Mont. (February 21, 2008) – Wolves in the Northern Rockies will lose protection under the Endangered Species Act under a new plan announced today by the Bush administration. The plan to “delist” the wolves threatens to reverse one of America’s most successful wildlife recovery efforts and puts the species back at risk of extinction, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

NRDC said it will immediately notify the government of its intent to file a lawsuit challenging the delisting decision. It said that it is premature to revoke endangered species protections because the wolves have not fully recovered.
Video of the Gray Wolves in the wild is available, as is the press release from the NRDC and the CNN/AP article.
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Lights at Night Linked to Breast Cancer





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Cross-posted on IBS, The Oxford Press


A study of NASA satellite data, overlaid with reported cancer statistics, has identified nighttime exposure to lighted areas as a risk factor for breast cancer:

Women who live in neighborhoods with large amounts of nighttime illumination are more likely to get breast cancer than those who live in areas where nocturnal darkness prevails, according to an unusual study that overlaid satellite images of Earth onto cancer registries.

"By no means are we saying that light at night is the only or the major risk factor for breast cancer," said Itai Kloog, of the University of Haifa, who led the new work. "But we found a clear and strong correlation that should be taken into consideration."

The mechanism of such a link, if real, remains mysterious, but many scientists suspect that melatonin is key.

A tumor suppressing hormone long known to be impacted by the nighttime illumination, melatonin requires darkness for its synthesis and release:

Melatonin is a neurohormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland, from the amino acid tryptophan. The synthesis and release of melatonin are stimulated by darkness and suppressed by light, suggesting the involvement of melatonin in circadian rhythm and regulation of diverse body functions.

(The study has not recommended melatonin supplementation. Not enough is known about the melatonin connection. Further studies will be required).

According to the Washington Post, the World Health Organization has been studying the hormonal impact of nighttime illumination, focusing on breast cancer rates, among female night shift workers. When the studies revealed a 60% greater incidence of breast cancer among nurses, flight attendants and others, they classified such night shift work as a possible carcinogen...
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FEATURE

Jerry Garcia as a Side Man





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Cross-posted on The Huffington Post

A few years ago, while visiting a friend, San Francisco singer-songwriter and producer, Bill Cutler, I noticed a stack of two inch reels in an open closet and asked him about them.

"Oh," he continued down the hall, "those are some of my songs I recorded with Jerry Garcia."

I looked back at the large stack of large multi-track tapes and then followed my friend down the hall and called after him, "Uh, Bill?"

Now, a few years (and a great deal of work) later, that stack of two inch tapes is about to be released...

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FEATURE

Al Gore: The Dangers of "Sub-Prime Carbon" (UN Summit on Climate Risk)





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Cross-posted on Reuters, Fox

Al Gore, addressing a United Nations summit on green investment, warned business leaders about the consequences of investment in technologies that did not reduce the carbon footprint, given the associated costs to both society and business of climate change:

UNITED NATIONS - Al Gore advised Wall Street leaders and institutional investors Thursday to ditch businesses too reliant on carbon-intensive energy — or prepare for huge losses down the road.

"You need to really scrub your investment portfolios, because I guarantee you — as my longtime good redneck friends in Tennessee say, I guarandamntee you — that if you really take a fine-tooth comb and go through your portfolios, many of you are going to find them chock-full of subprime carbon assets," the former vice president said.

Gore's remarks took place at the under-reported but significant United Nations Investor Summit on Climate Risk where leading United States and European institutional investors released their climate change action plan:

Co-hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Ceres and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, the event was attended by over 450 investors, financial and corporate leaders from around the world. The signatories to the action plan included state treasures, controllers, pension fund leaders, asset managers and foundations, collectively managing over $1.75 trillion in assets. Press Release.
The Summit included commitments to direct significant and growning portions of investment funds into green technologies and included Denise Nappier, State Treasurer, Connecticut, Alex Sink, Chief Financial Officer, Florida, Bill Lockyer, State Treasurer, California, John Chiang, State Controller, California, Donald MacDonald, Pension Trustee Director, British Telecom...

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FEATURE

USDA recalls 143 million pounds of beef





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Cross-posted on Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times

The USDA has recalled 143 million pounds of beef produced from a Chino, CA slaughterhouse, making this the largest beef recall in the U.S.:
LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday recalled 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a Southern California slaughterhouse that is being investigated for mistreating cattle.

The federal agency said the recall will affect beef products dating [from] Feb. 1, 2006, that came from Chino, California-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., which supplies meat to the federal school lunch program and to some major fast-food chains.

Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer said his department has evidence that Westland did not routinely contact its veterinarian when cattle became non-ambulatory after passing inspection, violating health regulations.
The government shut Westland down on Friday after video revealed they were using forklifts to push sick cattle to slaughter. Two former employees are being charged with animal cruelty. The investigation will determine if further charges will be brought.
Jack in the Box, a San Diego-based company with restaurants in 18 states, told its meat suppliers not to use Hallmark until further notice, but it was unclear whether it had used any Hallmark meat. In-N-Out, an Irvine-based chain, also halted use of the Westland/Hallmark beef. Other chains such as McDonald's and Burger King said they do not buy beef from Westland. Link.
"We don't know how much product is out there right now. We don't think there is a health hazard, but we do have to take this action," said Dr. Dick Raymond, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety.

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FEATURE

Tokyo Declaration: Twelve Well Known Brands Vow to Fight Global Warming





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In a "Tokyo Declaration" announced today, Sony, Nokia and ten other well known brands have announced that
they will work with the World Wildlife Fund to involve their suppliers, customers and transportation partners in the fight to halt global warming:

Tokyo – A business group including leading companies such as Sony, Nokia and Nike has come together to present the Tokyo Declaration, a joint call to tackle the urgent issue of climate change. Signing the declaration at the Climate Savers Summit 2008 held by WWF and Sony in Tokyo today, a dozen business leaders highlighted that the world’s greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by more than 50 percent by 2050, and that emissions must peak and start to decline within the next 10 to 15 years in order to keep global warming below the dangerous threshold of 2 degrees Celsius.

The text of the declaration (PDF) lists twelve signatory brands...


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FEATURE

Where to Buy Fair Trade Chocolate





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Cross-posted on The Huffington Post , FoxNews

A Valentine's Day reminder, given chocolate's status as a conflict substance, that ethical (and tasty!) chocolate is readily available. Why is this important? With Fair Trade chocolate:

  • Forced and abusive child labor practices are prohibited
  • Farming families earn a price that is adequate to meet their basic human needs
  • Environmentally sustainable production methods are required

Where to buy Fair Trade chocolate and other Fair Trade goods?


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Tipping Points Could Be Closer Than We Thought





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Cross-posted on Reuters, USA Today

An international team of experts has submitted a report that lists nine tipping elements -- areas of concern for lawmakers -- that quantify how much time is left to address their impending impact.

Produced by scientists from the U.K, Germany and the U.S., the study states: "Society may be lulled into a false sense of security by smooth projections of global change," and goes on to predict the critical threshold at which a small change in human activity can have large, long-term consequences for the Earth’s climate system.

"These tipping elements are candidates for surprising society by exhibiting a nearby tipping point," the report states. "Many of these tipping points could be closer than we thought..."

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FEATURE

The Environmentalist Supports Barack Obama





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Cross-posted on The Huffington Post

The contributing writers have just completed a conference call to discuss which 2008 U.S. presidential candidate we felt would be most effective on the environment.

The consensus: Senator Barack Obama.

That is not to imply there would be any lack of support for whoever wins the Democratic nomination. The consensus is that we'd be fortunate with any Democrat in the White House and that we would all work diligently for a Democratic outcome once the nomination is settled.

That being said, here are our reasons for choosing Senator Obama...


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