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Nearly One Third of World's Species Extinct Since 1970

Original Source: BBC News


Between a quarter and a third of the world's wildlife has been lost since 1970, according to data compiled by the Zoological Society of London. Populations of land-based species fell by 25%, marine by 28% and freshwater by 29%. Humans are wiping out about 1% of all other species every year, and one of the "great extinction episodes" in the Earth's history is under way, it says. Pollution, farming and urban expansion, over-fishing and hunting are blamed.

The Living Planet Index, compiled by the society in partnership with the wildlife group WWF, tracks the fortunes of more than 1,400 species of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, using scientific publications and online databases. It said numbers had declined by 27% in the 35 years from 1970 to 2005. Some of the worst hit are marine species which saw their numbers plummet by 28% in just 10 years, between 1995 and 2005. Populations of ocean birds have fallen by 30% since the mid 1990s, while land-based populations have dropped by 25%.

The WWF said that over the next 30 years, climate change was also expected to become a significant threat to species. Director general James Leape said: "Reduced biodiversity means millions of people face a future where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease and where water is in irregular or short supply. "No-one can escape the impact of biodiversity loss because reduced global diversity translates quite clearly into fewer new medicines, greater vulnerability to natural disasters and greater effects from global warming."

The WWF is calling on governments meeting in Bonn to honour their commitments to put in place effective protected areas for wildlife and to adopt a target to achieve net annual zero deforestation by 2020. The UK's Biodiversity Minister, Joan Ruddock, said the report showed that the international community had to work together to stem the decline. "The fact that human activities have caused more rapid changes in biodiversity in the last 50 years than at any other time in human history should concern us all," she said. "Supporting wildlife is critical to all our futures."


Images courtesy of BBC News and WWF

Over-fishing and demand for their fins as a delicacy have hit shark numbers
Land-based species, such as African antelopes, have fallen by 25 percent

we’re consuming more than the Earth can supply

Amur leopard

EU: Google Maps Street View vs. privacy laws - people walking in street captured by photos

Original Source: BusinessWeek


Global search engine colossus Google has been warned by the EU data protection chief that the "Street View" feature on its Google Maps service could run up against European privacy laws if it launches in EU countries. Peter Hustinx, the EU data protection supervisor, told reporters while presenting his annual data protection report on Thursday (15 May) that if Google launched such a feature in Europe, the company would first have to comply with European privacy legislation, which in many member states is stricter than in the United States.

Street View allows users of Google's online map service to have a full-colour, 360-degree look around city streets. Users can digitally walk up and down the virtual street, which is built from composites of photographs taken by roaming Google cars with roof-mounted cameras. The service, already launched for many US and Canadian cities, has wowed users, who report that Street View allows them to digitally make a trip to cities they have always wanted to visit. At the same time, privacy concerns have arisen, as people walking down a street are also captured by the photographs.

"Complying with European data protection law is going to be part of their business success or failure," Mr Hustinx added. "If they would ignore it, it is likely to lead to [court] cases, and I think they would be hit hard." The company has not launched the service in Europe yet, although it has announced plans to do so next year, and Google cars snapping away photos of the vias and rues of Rome and Paris have already been spotted.  read more »

Panda-monium at the Cannes Film Festival: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman in Kung Fu Panda

Original Source: CNN


CANNES, France (AP) -- Fur might be a politically incorrect fashion statement on the red carpet at the world's most-prestigious film festival. Not when you're the star of a movie called "Kung Fu Panda," though. DreamWorks Animation, whose past Cannes entries include the first two "Shrek" flicks and "Over the Hedge," put its adorable martial-arts hero alongside the festival's highbrow cinema entries Thursday with the premiere of the action comedy whose voice cast includes Jack Black, Angelina Jolie and Dustin Hoffman.

While Black hammed it up with some kung fu poses, he wisecracked that the incessant camera flashes could go a long way to solving the energy crunch. "If you harnessed all that electricity, it would probably be enough to take a small unmanned ship to the moon and back," Black said. "It's got to be 1.21 gigawatts of light flashes. It's just going to be sick. Do we really need that many pictures? Where are all those photos going?"

Black provides the voice of Po, a panda in ancient China who idolizes his country's martial-arts heroes but is too slow and clumsy to emulate their moves, stuck instead toiling in his family's noodle shop. A twist of fate lands Po under the tutelage of a revered kung fu master (Hoffman), who must train the klutzy panda to battle an evil snow leopard (Ian McShane) intent on marauding and vengeance. Po's allies include a tiger (Jolie), a viper (Lucy Liu) and a monkey (Jackie Chan), whose graceful martial-arts skills put the lumbering panda to shame.

"I do think that Po the panda is going to give Shrek a run for his money, because I think that Po in a very different way is without question the most lovable character we've ever created," Katzenberg said. "Shrek's an anti-hero hero. Po is an unlikely hero. He is more in tune with what we are ourselves. He actually has to find the hero within, and I think we all have a hero within us. "So it's just very relatable to find this kind of average guy who's working in his dad's noodle restaurant suddenly have an ambitious fantasy to be something great, only to learn that being the best version of yourself is greatness."


Black also let slip that his co-star, Jolie, and her partner Brad Pitt are expecting twins, who would be the fifth and sixth children for the couple, joining siblings Maddox, Pax, Zahara, and Shiloh. Jolie confirmed the news, mentioning she may decide to give birth to the twins in France.


Kung Fu Panda - panda Po admires martial-arts heroes

Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and Jack Black at the Cannes Film Festival

Jack Black hams it up for the camera

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt expecting twins to join the family

Verizon Wireless joins LiMo Foundation, chooses Linux over Android for mobile platform

Original Source: Ars Technica

"Mobile carrier Verizon Wireless has joined the Linux Mobile (LiMo) Foundation and has announced plans to adopt the open source software platform. Linux-based phones will be available from Verizon next year, alongside other devices that run competing proprietary operating systems.

The LiMo Foundation is an industry group that was founded by leading handset makers. Their goal is to collaboratively develop a comprehensive Linux-based mobile software stack that can be modified easily and used at no cost on a wide range of hardware devices. Key members include Motorola, NEC, NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic, Samsung, and LG.

Verizon's adoption of Linux sends a clear message about the viability of the open source operating system in the mobile space. Carriers and handset makers seem to recognize that open source software provides them with better value and more flexibility than proprietary alternatives."

Verizon joins LiMo, Linux for Mobile Devices

Linux-based phones will be available from Verizon next year

Poem in Art: I love the stillness of the wood... - Lewis Carroll

Poem in Art: I love the stillness of the wood... - Lewis Carroll

I love the stillness of the wood:
I love the music of the rill:
I love to couch in pensive mood
Upon some silent hill. -

Scarce heard, beneath you arching trees,
The silver-crested ripples pass;
And, like a mimic brook, the breeze
Whispers among the grass. -

Here from the world I win release,
Nor scorn of men, nor footstep rude,
Break in to mar the holy peace
Of this great solitude. -

- Lewis Carroll

Polar Bear Declared Endangered Species

The Interior Department designates the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act

The polar bear is being threatened by the loss of polar ice that forms its habitat


The U.S. Department of the Interior Wednesday listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 based on evidence that the animal's sea ice habitat is shrinking and is likely to continue to do so over the next several decades. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, however, made clear several times during a press conference announcing the department's decision that, despite his acknowledgement that the polar bear's sea ice habitat is melting due to global warming, the ESA will not be used as a tool for trying to regulate the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for creating climate change.

The decision was based on evidence that sea ice is vital for polar bear survival, that this sea ice habitat has been reduced, and that this process is likely to continue; if something is not done to change this situation, the polar bear will be extinct within 45 years, Kempthorne said. He pointed to computer models he and his colleagues studied that project a 30 percent decline in sea ice by 2050.  read more »

Former Presidential Candidate McGovern Urges Obama, Hillary To Unite

Original Source: Reuters and CBS News


As the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. president wears on, Republican Jack Schmidt is thinking the same thing many conservatives are -- this is good for Republicans.

"They are beating themselves up to McCain's advantage," said Schmidt, 79, a retired broker, referring to presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain. "He's got some baggage too, but no one is paying attention to that."

"The longer they drag it out, the better for our candidate. The longer they beat each other up the less they're beating up our candidate. It's totally to our advantage and it's great," said Chelsea Chapman, an oil and gas accountant and the president of the Houston young Republicans.



(AP) Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton should stop beating up on each other in the remaining Democratic contests and focus their ire on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, George McGovern said Tuesday.

In a letter published in the New York Times and at a news conference in Sioux Falls, the former Democratic senator from South Dakota and 1972 presidential nominee outlined what he called a formula to unify the party and defeat Sen. John McCain.

"We can reduce the danger of Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama criticizing each other for the next month and giving McCain a free ride," said McGovern, 85. "They are constantly pointing out weaknesses in the opposing candidate, which is what politicians do when they run for office. You can't blame them for that. But meanwhile, McCain is free to go around the country talking about motherhood and the flag and all those non-controversial things and looking like a statesman who is above the hurly-burly of politics."

McGovern's proposal is for Obama, the front runner, and Clinton to appear together at least once in each of the five remaining primaries in Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota. The plan also could be used in Michigan and Florida if the party reconsiders its decision not to count those states' delegates, he said.

"One of them is going to lose and this would send them out in harmony and place the party and country's interests above their own," he said.


Photos courtesy of AP and National Ledger

Republicans glory in extended Democratic battle

McGovern Urges Obama, Clinton To Unite

former Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern

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