Wednesday, August 23, 2006

[healthy living] just a little overweight and you’re gone

Here's a thought if you're carrying a bit extra:

A 10-year study of more than 500,000 American adults found that those who were just slightly overweight in their 50s were 20 to 40 per cent more likely to die in the next 10 years.

Another study involving more than 1 million Korean adults, also being published in The New England Journal of Medicine this week, produced similar results.

The studies were aimed at helping resolve a long debate over whether the millions of people who are not obese but are nevertheless considered overweight are at significant risk.

Sceptics remained unconvinced, saying the analysis was flawed and would alarm people unnecessarily.

"I think they are just adding to the obesity hysteria," said Glenn Gaesser, of the University of Virginia. "They are presenting the data in a way that paints overweight and obesity in the worst possible light."

Washington Post

[norman geras] an interesting take on hezbollah and israel

Norm has provided an intriguing analysis, some of which I’m posting below:

Did Hamas and Hezbollah provoke an Israeli invasion because it suits their strategic interests? Do they secretly desire the very Israeli occupation that they claim to resist?

The answer depends on what you mean by "occupation." It's not that Arab extremists are disingenuous when they claim to fight against occupation. It's just that their use of the word "occupation" has a particular meaning. They're not referring to the West Bank or Gaza - they mean the whole of Palestine.

Ending what we call the occupation is essential to Israel's long-term existence - the only way the Jewish state can survive in the face of new demographic realities and avoid unsustainable moral costs. Ending what they call the occupation means ending the state of Israel.

The intriguing part follows.

[oil spill] petron doing a wonderful job, according to petron

A Japanese salvage ship was due in the Philippines on Saturday to begin siphoning industrial fuel from a sunken tanker off the central island of Guimaras, oil refiner Petron Corp. said on Wednesday.

Experts from the Japanese and U.S. coast guards joined Philippine disaster officials to assess the damage to dozens of communities in the provinces of Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental.

"While aerial surveys indicate that the leak has stopped, we have been gravely concerned about the possibility that the oil in the vessel will continue to be released," Petron Chairman Nicasio Alcantara said in a statement.

Coast guard and Petron officials have given conflicting statements about whether there are new leaks from the tanker, which is estimated to be 640 meters (2,100 feet) under water. The slick has since spread to 27 fishing villages in the towns of Concepcion and Ajuy in Iloilo, with officials saying it now threatens the islands of Negros, Cebu and Masbate.

Petron said it was employing an average of 740 people per day in Guimaras, paying them 200 pesos each to clean the beaches and mangrove trees of the black sludge.

[liban] la situation la plus explosive qui soit

«Nous sommes ces jours-ci dans la situation la plus sensible et la plus explosive qui soit » : c’est en ces termes que la ministre israélienne des Affaires étrangères, Tzipi Livni, a dépeint le tableau israélo-libanais, mercredi, à Paris.

Selon elle, l’urgence de la situation impose « une action extrêmement rapide » de la communauté internationale au Liban.

« Plus le Hezbollah pourra interpréter l'action internationale comme étant hésitante, plus les choses resteront difficiles », a-t-elle argué. «Le temps œuvre contre ceux qui veulent voir cette résolution (1701, mettant un terme aux hostilités, ndlr) appliquée».

Text ici.

[oil spill] ship rusts away, fishermen prepare class action

A fisherfolk group is preparing a class action against Petron Corp. for the oil spill in Guimaras that has affected more than 26,000 people and seen to be in danger of turning into a "catastrophe."

Well, that’s a relief. Just for one moment there was some chance they’d be out there keeping back the spill, pressing for the salvage and so on. Not a bit of it. Inspired by the giants, the Pamalakaya are taking care of the dosh first.

Fernando Hicap, national chairman of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), said the Saudi Aramco-owned oil firm should be held accountable for economic and environmental crimes.

"A class suit can be filed against Petron either in the Philippines or in any international court. Something must be done to stop a transnational giant like Petron from destroying our environment and people’s livelihood," he said.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

[in brief] thought for the day

I think that I will never see a billboard lovely as a tree. Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all. [Ogden Nash 1933]

[poll result] how you breakfast

Thanks to the 39 people who contributed to the poll. It's the quality, not the quantity, eh? One visitor explained that the poll looked like some sort of marketing ploy to get you in but actually, it was just there for academic interest.

Results on what you eat when you get up in the morning were:

31%..........hearty breakfast
15%..........light breakfast
54%..........little more than coffee

I'll be running a piece soon on dietary trends.

[technical things] warning – only for blogging beginners

Ever had a look around inside your template?

You must have done, if you blog, if only to insert html and java code from freepolls, technorati and so on. Do you understand it all? Have you ever wanted to experiment with different colours and formats within the same template?

Have you ever wanted to just – well – design?

I first went looking for the explanation of colour coding and that comes up in the next post. Then I came upon this site, which answered all my initial questions about those pesky little symbols. No wonder my whole blog distorted out of recognition the first time I tried it – I eventually found the blogger button skulking somewhere down the corner of the backyard.

Oh, just two more things. Firstly, be wary of sites which use the word ‘beginner’ – they suck you in with mock advice and then, halfway down the page, hit you for the folding stuff. The second is what the code in the photo [to the left] says, in plain English:

An Unordered List:
. Coffee
. Tea
. Milk

[oil and gas] brinkmanship means a long cold winter for ukrainians

Ukraine may still face an energy crisis this winter, Deputy Prime Minister Andriy Klyuev said on Thursday, Aug. 17, despite assurances from Russia that it will not sharply raise the price of gas supplies to its neighbour.

Simple statement, yes? The DPM should know, right? Yes, he knows all right – knows how to play the game of brinkmanship with his fellow countrymen and women. This thing is all about the subsidized gas Vladimir Putin alluded to when, at the press meeting in Moscow before the G8, he said:

Let’s work out uniform rules together. You, for example, represent a German news agency. Why should German consumers pay 250 USD for 1000 cubic metres and Ukrainians 50? If you want to give Ukraine such a gift, why don’t you pay for it? Why do you want us to give such presents?

Full text here.

[oil disaster] finally the world takes notice

It took so long for anyone to wake up.

The Solaris 1 tanker is still an ecological "ticking time bomb" as it sits in 900 meters of water with 450,000 gallons [not litres, as I previously incorrectly reported] of oil ready to burst open. Petron has now said it is coordinating with an international fund assembly to finance the pullout of a tanker that sank off Guimaras island.

Petron spokeswoman Vivian Ruivivar said in an interview with Magandang Umaga Pilipinas, "We have been coordinating with the International Oil Pollution Council for funds." Ruivivar said Petron does not have the capability nor financial capacity to re-float the submerged vessel by itself.

What utter bilge.

She said the IOPC was set up to assist private companies in oil spill disasters worldwide and that Petron has also sought the services of a contractor to survey the situation of the tanker settled at the bottom of Guimaras sea. The survey is needed to determine the cost of the tanker’s pullout.

Ruivivar further said the liability for the sunken vessel and the oil spill rests solely with the owner of Solar 1, Sunshine Maritime. "We already took the moral responsibility that’s why we are very active in that area doing the cleanup and arranging for the salvage of the vessel."

Greenpeace, since their late arrival on the scene, is investigating reports that the captain of the ill-fated tanker was not properly trained to handle the ship. The government, meanwhile, has ordered "round-the-clock" operation to contain the oil.