Four stories in the news at 4 o’clock. Simple, huh?
A story from The Jakarta Post picked up by AFP reports that “Indonesia is seeking access to some 72 migrant workers who have been kept at US military camps in Iraq despite the expiry of their employment contracts… The cooks, technicians and cleaners served 17-month contracts in the camps but have been there for more than 20 months” and “Indonesian officials had been seeking access to the workers for more than three months through US embassies”. “US officials initially denied the workers were being kept beyond their contracts”. Teguh Wardoyo, the foreign ministry’s director for the protection of Indonesian, said “the US military authorities are dependent on our workers and are afraid they won’t come back”.
While the ice is disappearing at a catastrophic rate, “polar bears – the very symbol of the Arctic’s looming environmental disaster – are crashing towards extinction as a result of global warming, the US government has found.” The Independent reports more on the appalling fate of the polar bear, symbol of the Arctic. “Campaigners know that climate change and pollution are the biggest threats to polar bear survival, but believe that stopping sports hunting is symbolically important… ¶ American hunters exploit a loophole in the Marine Mammal Protection Act that allows them to get licences to import polar bear trophies from Canada. Some 953 have been granted or applied for since 1994. [Democratic] Senator [John] Kerry is now co-sponsoring with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe a proposed Polar Bear Protection Act in the US Senate that would stop the skins being imported”. The Observer reports that thanks to climate change now one in four mammals under threat and “most dramatically” of all are the polar bears.
McClatchy Newspapers report, as Brazil’s rain forest burns down, planet heats up. “As vast tracts of rain forest are cleared, Brazil has become the world’s fourth-largest producer of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, after the United States, China and Indonesia… ¶ And while about three-quarters of the greenhouse gases emitted around the world come from power plants, transportation and industrial activity, more than 70 percent of Brazil’s emissions comes from deforestation. ¶ Burning and cutting the forest releases hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases that the vegetation had trapped.”
The National Science Foundation has informed the the Arecibo Observatory, the largest and most sensitive radio telescope on Earth, that it must shutdown unless it can find at least $4 million dollars to keep it running. A story in the Washington Post, Radio Telescope And Its Budget Hang in the Balance, has the details. The observatory, located in Puerto Rico, “is the only facility on the planet able to track asteroids with enough precision to tell which ones might plow into Earth — a disaster that could cause as many as a billion deaths and that experts say is preventable with enough warning.”
One more story below the fold…