Tag Archives: Malaysia

Retired oil rigs off the California coast could find new lives as artificial reefs

A school of juvenile bocaccio in the midwaters of Platform Gilda, Santa Barbara Channel, Calif. Scott Gietler, CC BY-ND

Ann Scarborough Bull, University of California, Santa Barbara and Milton Love, University of California, Santa Barbara

Offshore oil and gas drilling has been a contentious issue in California for 50 years, ever since a rig ruptured and spilled 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil off Santa Barbara in 1969. Today it’s spurring a new debate: whether to completely dismantle 27 oil and gas platforms scattered along the southern California coast as they end their working lives, or convert the underwater sections into permanent artificial reefs for marine life.

We know that here and elsewhere, many thousands of fishes and millions of invertebrates use offshore rigs as marine habitat. Working with state fisheries agencies, energy companies have converted decommissioned oil and gas platforms into manmade reefs in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Brunei and Malaysia. Continue reading

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Citing $69 Trillion Price Tag by 2100, Moody’s Warns Central Banks of Far-Reaching Economic Damage of Climate Crisis

“There is no denying it: The longer we wait to take bold action to curb emissions, the higher the costs will be for all of us.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-3-2019

Arid soils are shown in Mauritania in 2012, when crops failed because of a severe drought which led to a food crisis that impacted millions of people across West Africa. (Photo: Oxfam International/Flickr/cc)

Noting previous warnings that the human-caused climate crisis could cause trillions of dollars in damage to the global economy by the end of the century, a new report from Moody’s Analytics explores the economic implications of the international community’s failure to curb planet-warming emissions.

Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi told The Washington Post—which first reported on the new analysis—that this is “the first stab at trying to quantify what the macroeconomic consequences might be” of the global climate crisis, and it comes in response to European commercial banks and central banks. The climate emergency is “not a cliff event. It’s not a shock to the economy. It’s more like a corrosive,” Zandi added. But it is “getting weightier with each passing year.” Continue reading

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In Latest Assault on Palestinian Rights, US Shutters Jerusalem Consulate

Critics say so-called merger “is nothing more than a smokescreen trying to camouflage what is essentially an opening of American embassy in Jerusalem”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-4-2019

U.S. Ambassador David Friedman spoke on July 25, 2017 at a special meeting in the Knesset, organized by the Knesset Caucus for U.S. (Photo: Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/flickr/cc)

The U.S. officially closed its consulate general in Jerusalem, which had served as the de facto diplomatic mission for Palestinians.

While the State Department framed the move as a “merger” with its embassy in the city, critics say it’s another setback for peace that puts Israeli interests over Palestinian rights. Continue reading

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China Rejects Hague’s South China Sea Ruling as “US-Led Conspiracy”

Ruling in favor of the Philippines, tribunal court “cut the legal heart out of China’s claim” to the disputed marine region

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-12-2016

Chinese dredging vessels seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this video image taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the U.S. Navy, May 21, 2015.

Chinese dredging vessels seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this video image taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the U.S. Navy, May 21, 2015.

An international tribunal at the Hague overwhelmingly rejected China’s claims to the South China Sea on Tuesday, in a move that observers say is likely to stoke tensions between the Asian powerhouse and its primary rival, the United States.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), China’s actions have violated the sovereign rights of the Philippines, which brought the case to court. Further, the court ruled that China’s practice of dredging sand to build artificial islands on the region’s disputed reefs has caused “severe harm to the coral reef environment.”  Continue reading

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State Dept Accused of Watering Down Human Rights Ratings to Advance Obama Trade Agenda

Reuters investigation shows American diplomats played politics with annual human trafficking report

Written by Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-4-15.

Fisherman raise their hands when asked who among them would like to go home. (Image via US State Department)

Fisherman raise their hands when asked who among them would like to go home. (Image via US State Department)

The U.S. State Department is being accused of playing politics with human rights after a damning new Reuters investigation published late Monday revealed that high level officials watered down the opinions of rights experts hired to evaluate nations’ human trafficking records seemingly to advance a number of the Obama administration’s key agenda items.

Exposing a “degree of intervention not previously known,” according to the investigation, there were 14 instances where senior American diplomats overruled the analyst opinions to inflate the record of “strategically important countries” for this year’s Trafficking in Persons Report, released last week.

Among those cases, Malaysia had its status upgraded from the lowest level “Tier 3” to the “Tier 2 Watchlist,” which is one rung down from “Tier 2,” despite analysts finding no improvement in the country’s trafficking record. Rights observers charge that this was a deliberate move to pave the way for the passage of the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

In June, Congress passed a provision barring the U.S. from entering into trade agreements with “Tier 3” countries. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez (D), who had spearheaded that effort, issued a statement after the investigation was published, saying: “If true, the Reuters report further confirms what I, along with the human-rights community, have feared all along: The State Department’s trafficking report has been blatantly and intentionally politicized.”

Reuters reports:

Congressional sources and current and former State Department officials said experts in the [Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, or J/TIP] had recommended keeping Malaysia on Tier 3, highlighting a drop in human-trafficking convictions in the country to three last year from nine in 2013. They said, according to the sources, that some of Malaysia’s efforts to end forced labor amounted to promises rather than action.

The country has been cited for having a robust sex slavery industry as well as forced labor camps.

Though the news of Malaysia’s pending status change first broke last month, human rights groups on Monday reiterated their discontent.

“The vultures circled,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia Division for Human Rights Watch, told Huffington Post. “What you are seeing is significant damage to the credibility of that report because of these political games played back in Washington.”

Other countries where the State Department issued such “inflated recommendations,” according to human rights analysts, included: China, India, Cuba, Mexico, and Uzbekistan.

Reuters notes that “while a Tier 3 ranking can trigger sanctions limiting access to aid…such action is frequently waived.” However, the real power of the trafficking report “is its ability to embarrass countries into action.”

Lawmakers, including Menendez, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are convening on Thursday to review the State Department report.

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