Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In every cloud there's a silver lining......

In every cloud there's a silver lining......

By Alister Doyle, Environment Corresponden

OSLO (Reuters) - Rare outbreaks of plague in the United States seem to match climate shifts over the Pacific Ocean in a hint that global warming may make the region too hot and dry for the disease, scientists said on Wednesday.

Feared as the "Black Death" of the 14th century that killed an estimated 50 million people, plague is still a threat mainly in Africa. The western United States has had 430 cases since 1950, or about seven per year.
The scientists, based in Norway, the United States and Sweden, said the number of U.S. infections seemed to vary with a natural shift between warm and cool ocean conditions known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) that can last 20-30 years.  MORE

 The stock market succumbed to its ongoing angst Tuesday, giving up a sharp advance and turning moderately lower after falling oil prices failed to calm the market's nervousness about the economy and the financial sector.
The Dow Jones industrial average initially surged by nearly 250 points as oil prices dropped as low as $105.46 a barrel on reports that the Gulf Coast and its oil facilities were spared heavy damage from Hurricane Gustav. But the positive effect of the storm's outcome on stocks was short-lived, and the blue chips ended the day down 26. MORE

THE European Union congratulates itself on forging a rare united front against Moscow over its intervention in Georgia, the Kremlin is celebrating the bloc's refusal to impose sanctions as yet more proof of its dependence on Russian energy.
What EU leaders portrayed as a show of strength - the postponement of talks on a new partnership deal with Moscow until its troops in Georgia return to pre-conflict positions - is seen as weakness among Russian leaders who had feared financial sanctions even while doubting they would work.  MORE

Thanks to irrational fears about strangers and accidents, we've created an epidemic of obese, scared children, writesVictoria White, WWW.IRISHTIMES.COM
I LET MY nine-year-old get the bus home from school on his own this year. Am I Ireland's worst Mammy? Lenore Skenazy was called "America's worst Mom" across the US national airwaves when she let her nine-year-old ride the subway on his own in New York this year.
But then surely the New York subway is more dangerous than Dublin's 11 bus? And Skenazy compounded her error by letting her child work out which subway to get.
Which was all a far cry from my own ace parenting. My child had an envelope with instructions written on it - "Get the 11 or the 11A. Sit beside the driver. Get off two stops later and cross at the pedestrian crossing" - and the exact change for the ticket within.
But it wasn't good enough. The day after what we shall call "the incident", two people approached me and asked me what had led me to do it. Another, out of genuine kindness, offered to go out of his way to drive him home in future.
It is my great fortune that he is bright and able-bodied. So I had no worries about him. Well, actually, I stood in the middle of the road outside the house so that I would see him as soon as he started coming up the road. Meanwhile the little ones inside free-ranged around the house. They probably made a cup of tea.
But I knew he was able for the trip and I knew he needed the independence. And, because I had three other children and he wanted to play chess after school, I needed his independence too.
Have we become more paranoid than the Americans? We're getting there, and surely for the same reasons. Increasing distrust of each other. Increasing breakdown of communities. Increasing class division.
I remember how amazed my American friends were when I got the Greyhound bus. Amongst all the comments about speed and comfort lurked a fact that I think bothered them more: I had been sitting beside black people.
And you can't be sure who you'll sit beside on the number 11. Nowadays, they could even be black too.
This paranoia is enabled by the motor car. If Mammy or Nanny is prepared to do little else but spend long years of her life driving in ever increasing circles, the children need hardly ever meet anyone from a different background. Mammy or Nanny might have had higher aspirations for herself after 40 years of feminism. But it's worth it to keep the kids safe.
Except that it doesn't keep them safe. It makes them sick. We talk about childhood obesity as an "epidemic" as if a rat carried it ashore from a ship, but we created it.
Our concept of danger is other people. And because of that, we are a danger to ourselves.  MORE...


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