It often happens that I get busy for a few days, have stuff going on, and then have to spend a day browsing the web to see what I missed. I confess, I'm a smidgeon of a news junkie. In my defense, this is an interesting part of an interesting world, these days.
I was relieved to hear that the bank strike has been averted. Over the weekend, most of the ATM machines in the country were cleaned out by people worried the banks would be closed this week. Not having money would be inconvenient. Plus, it sounds like the bank workers' beef is with the government, not the banks, in this case.
In other local news, the army seems unhappy at the suspension of its old shoot-anything-that-moves rules of engagement. But what with Israel and the PA trying to maintain some semblance of mutual calm, the number of random kids getting shot near nebulously-defined "security zones" was becoming inconvenient.
The dash to cannonize John Paul II presses on. Word is, the college of cardinals is circulating a petition urging whomever is elected the new pontiff to fast-track the beatification process:
The archbishop in charge of the commission that investigates claims for sainthood has said the process of canonising John Paul II could begin as early as October, and result in his sainthood within six months.
Dude. What was so bad about 50 years of reflection and all that? Six months just seems so ... unseemly. And in a story that, as best I can tell, first appeared the the New York Post, miracles are already surfacing attributed to John Paul II. Apparently the original story is in La Stampa, but for the life of me I can't find it on their site. And yes, I can read enough Italian to do a simple search.
Next time you're debating someone who thinks all environmentalists just like trees and spotted owls more than people (and I'm not saying there aren't a few; check how much I like people next time I have to grade essays), point them at the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, a nice summary of which is up at the BBC. (The New York Times' blurb on the matter is frankly embarrassing.) The take-home message?
Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fiber and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.
The changes that have been made to ecosystems have contributed to substantial net gains in human well-being and economic development, but these gains have been achieved at growing costs in the form of the degradation of many ecosystem services, increased risks of nonlinear changes, and the exacerbation of poverty for some groups of people. These problems, unless addressed, will substantially diminish the benefits that future generations obtain from ecosystems.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report, pg. 16
I kept meaning to do a full write-up on this, and still might at some point. But I feel better having gotten that out there.