The Horror Continues: 4 Firefighters Shot, 2 Fatally, in New York; Gunman Dead

Children, teachers, fire fighters. 

Have we no decency?

Fuck the profits of the gun manufacturers.

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/25/nyregion/2-firefighters-killed-in-western-new-york.html?hp

By and
Published: December 24, 2012

WEBSTER, N.Y. — It was a simple call to put out a car fire, the sort of routine job that firefighters tackle all the time. The fire truck hurtled to the assignment early Monday in this drowsy town on the shores of Lake Ontario that was preparing for the joys of Christmas.

But it apparently was a trap, the authorities said. There were a house and a car burning. There was also a waiting killer, who had stationed himself like a sniper on a berm above the firefighters.

Before they could begin to extinguish the fire, the firefighters were met by a burst of gunfire. Four were hit by the volley of bullets, and two died. An off-duty police officer from nearby Greece, N.Y., who was on his way to work, was wounded when he and his car were hit by shrapnel.

For a few hours, the scene was chaotic: flames ignited adjacent houses as the police frantically searched for the gunman. They would find him dead near the beach, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was identified as William Spengler, 62, a man with a lengthy criminal record, who lived in the burning house. In 1981, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter for bludgeoning his 92-year-old grandmother to death with a hammer. He was imprisoned until 1998.

He remained on supervised parole until 2006, and the Webster police said they had not had recent brushes with him. His mother, Arline, who lived in the same house, died this year. A former neighbor, Roger D. Vercruysse, said Mr. Spengler and his sister had also lived in the house, but “he stayed in one part with his mother and his sister stayed in the other part, and they never talked to each other.”

Mr. Spengler’s ire for his sister was matched by love for his mother, Mr. Vercruysse said.

Mr. Spengler did not seem to have a lot of friends, but “every time I needed help, he was there,” Mr. Vercruysse, 64, said, whether it was for shoveling snow or driving Mr. Vercruysse’s blind sister to the store. The police said they found Mr. Spengler with three weapons by his side, including the rifle used in the shootings. Authorities said that they did not know where he got the weapons, but that there had been recent gun thefts in Monroe County, where Webster is. As a felon, Mr. Spengler was prohibited from owning guns.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/25/nyregion/2-firefighters-killed-in-western-new-york.html?hp

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‘Frankenfish’ Approval Could Open Floodgates for Other GM Animals

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/24-3

by Steve Connor
Published on Monday, December 24, 2012 by The Independent/UK

An American license to permit the commercial development and sale of genetically modified salmon could open the door on a new era of GM animals designed for human consumption, although at present there are few signs they are wanted by either consumers or supermarkets.

The AquAdvantage salmon is an Atlantic salmon engineered with two extra genes – one from the Pacific Chinook salmon and one from an eel-like species called the ocean pout – which together boost the fish’s growth hormones so it puts on weight all year round instead of seasonally.

AquaBounty Technologies of Maynard, Massachusetts, says its GM salmon grows twice as fast as conventional farmed fish.

It can also be reared on land-based fish farms, rather than in sea pens, which according to the company are less polluting as well as having smaller carbon footprints and lower transport costs because they can be sited nearer big cities.

If the US government gives approval to AquaBounty, which now looks increasingly likely, it could change the economics of salmon farming. This could put commercial pressure on producers in Britain and the rest of Europe to follow suit, even though they and their customers have little appetite for GM food.

Complete article at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/24-3

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Rebecca Solnit, 2013 as Year Zero for Us — and Our Planet

From Tom Dispatch:   http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175632/tomgram%3A_rebecca_solnit%2C_2013_as_year_zero_for_us_–_and_our_planet/

by Rebecca Solnit
December 23, 2012.

The Sky’s the Limit
The Demanding Gifts of 2012
By Rebecca Solnit

As this wild year comes to an end, we return to the season of gifts. Here’s the gift you’re not going to get soon: any conventional version of Paradise. You know, the place where nothing much happens and nothing is demanded of you. The gifts you’ve already been given in 2012 include a struggle over the fate of the Earth. This is probably not exactly what you asked for, and I wish it were otherwise — but to do good work, to be necessary, to have something to give: these are the true gifts. And at least there’s still a struggle ahead of us, not just doom and despair.

Think of 2013 as the Year Zero in the battle over climate change, one in which we are going to have to win big, or lose bigger.  This is a terrible thing to say, but not as terrible as the reality that you can see in footage of glaciers vanishing, images of the entire surface of the Greenland Ice Shield melting this summer, maps of Europe’s future in which just being in southern Europe when the heat hits will be catastrophic, let alone in more equatorial realms.

For millions of years, this world has been a great gift to nearly everything living on it, a planet whose atmosphere, temperature, air, water, seasons, and weather were precisely calibrated to allow us — the big us, including forests and oceans, species large and small — to flourish. (Or rather, it was we who were calibrated to its generous, even bounteous, terms.) And that gift is now being destroyed for the benefit of a few members of a single species.

The Earth we evolved to inhabit is turning into something more turbulent and unreliable at a pace too fast for most living things to adapt to. This means we are losing crucial aspects of our most irreplaceable, sublime gift, and some of us are suffering the loss now — from sea snails whose shells are dissolving in acidified oceans to Hurricane Sandy survivors facing black mold and bad bureaucracy to horses starving nationwide because a devastating drought has pushed the cost of hay so high to Bolivian farmers failing because the glaciers that watered their valleys have largely melted.

This is not just an issue for environmentalists who love rare species and remote places: if you care about children, health, poverty, farmers, food, hunger, or the economy, you really have no choice but to care about climate change.

Continue reading at:   http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175632/tomgram%3A_rebecca_solnit%2C_2013_as_year_zero_for_us_–_and_our_planet/

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West Antarctic Ice Sheet warming twice earlier estimate

From BBC:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20804192

By Matt McGrath
23 December 2012

A new analysis of temperature records indicates that the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is warming nearly twice as fast as previously thought.

US researchers say they found the first evidence of warming during the southern hemisphere’s summer months.

They are worried that the increased melting of ice as a result of warmer temperatures could contribute to sea-level rise.

The study has been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The scientists compiled data from records kept at Byrd station, established by the US in the mid-1950s and located towards the centre of the West Antarctic ice sheet (WAIS).

Previously scientists were unable to draw any conclusions from the Byrd data as the records were incomplete.

The new work used a computer model of the atmosphere and a numerical analysis method to fill in the missing observations.

The results indicate an increase of 2.4C in average annual temperature between 1958 and 2010.

“What we’re seeing is one of the strongest warming signals on Earth,” says Andrew Monaghan, a co-author and scientist at the US National Centre for Atmospheric Research.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to determine that there’s warming going on during the summer season.” he added.

Continue reading at:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20804192

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