Data from Terra's MODIS instrument shows that the Larsen B ice shelf of the Antarctic Peninsula collapsed and broken apart during the 35 days starting January 31st, sending 3250 km2 of 200 meter thick ice into the Weddell Sea in the form of thousands of icebergs. This ice was already floating so will not directly result in a sea level rise. This would seem to be close to the climax of a break up that started several years ago.
- Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses: an article from The National Snow & Ice Data Center
- Satellite spies on doomed Antarctic ice shelf: the press release from the British Antarctic Survey
- Larsen Ice Shelf 2002: a detailed discussion of the mechanics of ice shelves and their breakups from Christina Hulbe.
Terror war and oil expand US sphere of influence
As the Roman Empire spread two millenniums ago, maps had to be redrawn to reflect new realities. In similar fashion, the expansion of the British Empire kept cartographers at their drawing boards, reshaping territories from Southern Africa to India to Hong Kong.
Now, as the United States wages its war on terrorism in Afghanistan - and deploys troops for the first time in the energy-rich regions of Central Asia and the Caucasus - the borders of a new American empire appear to be forming.
[via The War in Context]
Oh, Gods!: on the continued evolution of religion and the study of new religious movements.
In 1851 the French historian and philosopher Ernest Renan announced to the world that Islam was "the last religious creation of humanity." He was more than a bit premature. At about the time he was writing, the Bahai faith, Christian Science, Mormonism, the Seventh-Day Adventists, and a major Japanese religious movement known as Tenrikyo were all just coming to life. Falun Gong and Pentecostalism--both of which now have millions and millions of members--had yet to emerge. Whoops.
- University of Virginia: The Religious Movements Homepage
- Graduate Theological Union: New Religious Movements Links
When exploration rights meet human rights: on the use of national security forces by oil companies to protect their operations.
Earlier this month, 25 senior officers from Burma's National Police College gathered in Rangoon for a two-week training programme on human rights. The event covered areas ranging from international humanitarian law to discussions on the use of force, arrest, detention and interrogation. The course was not, however, taking place under the auspices of the United Nations, the World Bank or a non-governmental organisation - it was being run by an oil company.
The training Premier Oil of the UK has been undertaking in Burma is one example of the way some oil companies - under intense scrutiny from aid agencies and pressure groups - are re-examining the balance between securing their operations and human rights.
[via Reductio Ad Absurdum]
From lemondor I found the Free the X3J Thirteen monthly free Common Lisp news page. That led in turn to The Common Lisp Cookbook, a project aimed at creating something along the lines of the Perl Cookbook for Common Lisp.
For security reasons, the exact time of the next space shuttle launch, currently scheduled for April 4th, will not be announced until 24 hours before the flight. Until then NASA will only be giving a 4 hour window, somewhere between 2pm and 6pm. This mission will deliver another piece of the Integrated Truss Structure and another piece of the station's robot arm.
Closing the Borders: on the effects of the post-9/11 immigration crackdown on Mexicans which have already been seen and those that may still be to come.
Until Sept. 11, the U.S. debate about migratory reforms centered on the impact of immigrants on the economy, particularly of unemployed and unschooled workers in the agricultural and service sectors that employ temporary immigrants whether documented or not. There was also discussion about the impact on the environment, among other issues, in addition to the airing of the traditional, recurring xenophobic arguments expressed by some individuals and sectors of U.S. society. After Sept. 11, the debate shifted to the need to control the borders as a measure of national security--and to ensure that fewer immigrants enter. Unfortunately, the trend toward a more open border between Mexico and the United States is going to reverse. Residents on both sides of the border could not have received a worse piece of news as a result of Sept. 11.
Today, the scrupulous inspection of goods on the Mexico-U.S. border has already caused losses in tourism and bilateral trade. Many Americans who make their living from Mexican consumers have watched their sales drop more than 60 percent and, in areas very near to Mexico, up to 90 percent. To temporarily solve this problem, representatives from different sectors on both sides of the border have agreed to begin a process to have the border declared an "emergency area"; to do that they solicited tax breaks and immediate loans from the governments of both Mexico and the United States.
The Softer Side of Saddam Hussein: his second novel, The Impregnable Fortress is out and the reviews from Iraqi critics are bubbling.
In a similar manner, the writer Amjad Tawfiq said in praise of Saddam's novel that "what distinguishes this novel from others is its ability to weave a string of pearls on which love and war are strung together. And the way it celebrates the fundamental human qualities that refuse to allow war to be an interruption of the affairs of daily life, bespeak an author with a sensitive heart and mind. As for the author's treatment of love in the novel, it is depicted as a spiritual strength which was bestowed to increase and support the ability of the [protagonist] warrior, who gives of himself in selfless sacrifice in order to perform his duties with distinction and bravery in war."