News and open thread.
Escalated bombing reminds me of another conflict 35 years ago. The Washington Post reports the U.S. boosts its use of airstrikes In Iraq. “The U.S. military conducted more than five times as many airstrikes in Iraq last year as it did in 2006, targeting al-Qaeda safe houses, insurgent bombmaking facilities and weapons stockpiles in an aggressive strategy aimed at supporting the U.S. troop increase by overwhelming enemies with air power… The U.S.-led coalition dropped 1,447 bombs on Iraq last year, an average of nearly four a day, compared with 229 bombs, or about four each week, in 2006… UNAMI estimates that more than 200 civilian deaths resulted from U.S. airstrikes in Iraq from the beginning of April to the end of last year”. The military predicts extensive use of bombs and missiles to continue this year.
The Taser-wielding police have killed another person; this time in Minnesota. The Star Tribune reports Father wants answers in son’s death following Taser jolt. “Authorities are investigating the death of a 29-year-old Fridley man shot with a Taser by state troopers, who said he had become ‘uncooperative‘ after a rush-hour crash Tuesday evening. The victim was identified by his father as Mark C. Backlund. Gordon Backlund said his son was on his way to pick up his parents at the airport after they had taken a short trip to Florida.”
In the United States, more than 290 people have died since June 2001 after being struck by police Tasers, according to the human rights group Amnesty International. It said in October that only 25 of the 290 were armed, and none had firearms.
The Guardian reports Yangtze River reaches a 142-year low.
The waters of the Yangtze have fallen to their lowest levels since 1866, disrupting drinking supplies, stranding ships and posing a threat to some of the world’s most endangered species.
Asia’s longest river is losing volume as a result of a prolonged dry spell, the state media warned yesterday, predicting hefty economic losses and a possible plague of rats on nearby farmland.
News of the drought – which is likely to worsen pollution in the river – comes amid dire reports about the impact of rapid economic growth on China’s environment.
The government also revealed yesterday that the country’s most prosperous province, Guangdong, has just had its worst year of smog since the Communist party took power in 1949, while 56,000 square miles of coastline waters failed to meet environmental standards.
China has more than demonstrated what happens when you have unbridled capitalism with no regard for your environment.
According to The Telegraph, ‘Cunning’ squirrels pretend to bury their food. “Squirrels pretend to bury their nuts and acorns to protect them from would-be thieves, scientists say. Researchers who recorded how squirrels deploy the tactic more frequently when they are being watched say it shows they are more intelligent than previously thought… Grey squirrels create numerous stores, especially when food is scarce, by digging shallow pits with their paws, pushing items in with their mouths and filling the holes up with debris. They sometimes place leaves and other vegetation on top to further hide the sites. The whole process normally takes less than a minute.” Aw nuts.
One last thing: $300 to learn risk of prostate cancer.