As a public service, I sometimes summarize the news of the day for readers who are too busy (or too lazy?) to read the newspaper themselves. So below is a summary of some of the news for today, [with my compulsory editorializing] all from the front section of The Oregonian newspaper. (Note: I need to also point you to Nicholas Kristof's column in the editorial section re: the shame of Guantanamo.)
"Run, he's reloading the gun" A former student walked into a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University and started shooting (a shotgun and 2 handguns), killing at least 5 (including himself) and wounding many. [Are we just going to accept that this kind of thing will happen once or twice per year, or are we maybe going to finally do something about gun violence in this country?]
"Dead zones off coast look like a first" and "Study finds no ocean areas untouched by human activity" The first story reports on an article in the journal Science about dead zones at the bottom of the ocean off the Oregon coast, resulting from lack of oxygen. After studying decades of oceanographic data, researches found that the appearance of dead zones every year for the past 6 years had not been seen previously off Oregon. Scientists hypothesize that some environmental "tipping point" has been exceeded, as a result of global warming, and that this could be a new "normal" for the coastal ocean. The second article reports about a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science during which a new map was shown of the world's oceans. Every part of the oceans on Earth have indicators of human activity, and the extent and level of impacts "looks much worse" than researchers expected. The impacts studied included: effects of structures such as oil rigs, commercial shipping, species invasion, climate change impacts including acidification, ultraviolet radiation and sea temperature, various types of fishing, and several types of human-related pollution. [I wonder what Sammy C. Lyon thinks about all this? (see 24 Jan 2008 post]
"Bush orders shootdown of satellite" [Cue the scary sci-fi music; this one is right out of a bad sci-fi movie, with Bruce Willis playing the reluctant hero who needs to save the Earth.] President Bush has ordered a Navy vessel to try something never done before - shoot down an orbiting rogue U.S. spy satellite before it plunges to Earth. The wayward spy satellite is loaded with "toxic fuel" (about 100 pounds of toxic hydrazine) that could create major problems if it lands in the wrong place after the satellite breaks up as it falls out of orbit. The goal of the missile shot is to break the huge satellite into smaller pieces, "most" of which will consequently burn up as it falls to Earth. [I sure hope they warn us before it starts to rain satellite pieces.]
"Governor ups ante against LNG sites" Three liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants are proposed for Oregon, two in the lower Columbia River. These very controversial projects have been receiving almost daily coverage in the press for months. At issue in this story is the conflict between the State of Oregon and federal agencies. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 preempted state authority over these kinds of projects, and the governor is asking federal agencies to do a better job of analyzing energy alternatives and environmental impacts for these projects. The State is also trying to wrest control over these projects back from the feds. [It's interesting that shipping super-cooled (liquefied) natural gas to the USA from Asia and warming it to its gas state can be profitable; but such is our unlimited appetite for energy in this country.]
"Charged Up" Obama is drawing huge crowds to his rallies compared to other candidates. [gObama!]
And that's just the front page! Here are a few more of my favorites from the front section.
"Hezbollah leader vows to hit Israel, avenge slain militant" Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, [OK, this guy is a total thug. This is the "religious leader" who recently bragged in public that Hezbollah has a lot of Israeli soldier body parts in storage from the 2006 war in Lebanon - "arms, legs, heads, torsos." He complained yesterday that the "Zionists" killed Imad Mughniyeh "outside the natural battleground..." Mughniyeh was killed in Damascus, Syria on Tuesday by unknown assailants. Mughniyeh was a terrorist strategist wanted for many attacks over the past 20 years, including hijackings, kidnappings, and the 1983 bombing in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. troops. In other words, his "natural battleground" was anywhere he wanted it to be. Hey Nasrallah - (expletive deleted!)]
"FEMA to speed trailer relocations" FEMA has suddenly found a sense of urgency to move Katrina victims out of the FEMA-supplied trailers because many of them have very high levels of toxic formaldehyde. [FEMA has known about the formaldehyde issue for a long time, and has even warned its employees not to enter these trailers because of the toxicity - at the same time they had not warned the people living in the trailers! Can anyone explain to me why FEMA gets away with all of this, in this age of "compassionate conservatism?"
"Official says waterboarding's legality isn't determined" Steven Bradbury is head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. He told a congressional committee yesterday that waterboarding is no longer included in the authorized program of interrogation. [In a case of classic double-speak and obfuscation, this smart attorney said that the Justice Department has not made a determination that the use of waterboarding would be lawful under current law. He also stated that the Department has not made a determination whether or not the method would be unlawful. [It is worth listening to the report of this hearing on NPR today in order to hear the deliberate question-dodging by this guy, and the frustration of congressional members that the guy won't answer questions with anything specific.]
And there's more - lots more - for the reading. But enough from me.