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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Name:
    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Clouds of pollution threaten glaciers, health

    A dirty brown haze sometimes more than a mile thick is darkening skies not only over vast areas of Asia, but also in the Middle East, southern Africa and the Amazon Basin, changing weather patterns around the world and threatening health and food supplies, the U.N. reported Thursday.

    The huge smog-like plumes, caused mainly by the burning of fossil fuels and firewood, are known as "atmospheric brown clouds."

    When mixed with emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for warming the earth's atmosphere like a greenhouse, they are the newest threat to the global environment, according to a report commissioned by the U.N. Environment Program.

    [...]

    One of the most serious problems, Ramanathan said, is retreat of the glaciers in the Himalaya and Hindu Kush and in Tibet. The glaciers feed most Asian rivers and "have serious implications for the water and food security of Asia," he said.

    Monsoon rains over India and southeast Asia decreased between 5 and 7 percent overall since the 1950s, the report says, naming brown clouds and global warming as a possible cause. Likewise, they may have contributed to the melting of China's glaciers, which have shrunk 5 percent since the 1950s. The volume of China's nearly 47,000 glaciers has fallen by 3,000 square kilometers (1,158.31 square miles) in the past 25 years, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    Soot winds up on the surface of the glaciers that feed the Ganges, Indus, Yangtze and Yellow rivers, which makes the glaciers absorb more sunlight and melt more quickly and also pollutes the rivers, the researchers say.

    [...]

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    Wow!

    NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is back in business a few ...

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    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    Better Watch Out Obama or Rahm wil get you oily

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    Just 3 ‘superbanks’ now dominate industry. so much for competition.

    [...]
    Several of the nation's biggest banks have failed or been absorbed by healthier institutions, leaving three giant "superbanks" with an unprecedented concentration of market power: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

    While that may be good news for emerging giants and the failing companies they helped rescue, the new oligopoly raises troubling questions about regulation and competition, analysts and consumer advocates say.

    "Bank fees are going up, up, up, and that’s the danger to consumers as more of these banks consolidate,” says Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumer League. “It’s difficult for the average person to get a bank account that doesn’t involve fees, and if you get into financial distress you’re cooked, and you’ll be ‘fee-ed’ to death.”

    According to a recently released banking fee study from Bankrate.com, ATM surcharges rose 11 percent this year to an average of $1.97, and the fee a bounced checks rose 2.5 percent to an average $28.95.

    “Large institutions are impossible to manage prudently, let alone regulate,” says Amar Bhide, a professor at the Columbia Business School.

    In fact, existing federal banking laws say that no bank can have more than 10 percent of the domestic deposit market — a threshold recently surpassed by all three superbanks.

    When asked whether the government would take any action, a Justice Department official was noncommittal.

    “It’s always something we’ve looked at and will continue to look at," said spokeswoman Gina Talamona. "It’s something we’ve looked at as part of our general antitrust review.”

    The reason limits on market share were put in place were so banks didn’t get so big they’d become monopolies that could risk the whole economy, explains Atul Gupta, finance department chair for Bentley University in Boston.

    But now the government appears to be pushing banks in the direction of more consolidation. The Treasury is pouring some $250 billion of taxpayer money into healthy financial institutions, and some of that is being used by stronger banks to snap up weaker rivals.

    [...]

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Barack Obama elected 44th president

    Image: Obama family

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