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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Boom Boom Boom

Baby Boom...or Bust
BBC Magazine

British baby boomer Peter Stringfellow now ageing hipsterBaby boomers like to trumpet their generation's achievements. But their fondness for conspicuous consumption and foreign travel has led to many a modern-day ill, from rising debt to environmental destruction.

Now, as the generation born between 1946 and 1964 who shook up Western society become "ageing hipsters", we're constantly being reminded of their achievements.

Probably best known for opposing the Vietnam War, the sixty-somethings gave us sex 'n' drugs with rock 'n' roll, mod cons, the space race, computer science, and a rebellious disregard for the stiff-upper-lipped attitudes of earlier generations.

But did the baby boomers likewise leave behind a negative, even destructive legacy?

They're also, says US newspaper columnist Lewis W Diuguid, the "greediest generation". With their thirst for "stuff" - bigger houses, better cars, tastier grub - did they give rise to a culture of selfish consumption?

And by challenging old-fashioned moralism, did they inadvertently nurture a climate of promiscuity - even fuelling the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?


Historic Byblos polluted by war
By Hugh Sykes
BBC News, Byblos

The oil slick threatens the historic port townThe conflict in Lebanon has caused devastating damage to the local economy and environment of the ancient port of Byblos.

Byblos was not bombed, but it has been deeply damaged by the Israel-Hezbollah war.

The harbour and the rocks and the beaches of Byblos are disfigured with oil.

It spread up the coast in a thick slick after the Israelis attacked storage tanks at the Jiyyeh power station south of Beirut.

Berj Hatjian, the senior civil servant at the environment ministry, tested the slick as it slurped against the harbour wall.

He measured it. It was more than 2cm thick. You can smell it in the air.

Next to the slick in Byblos Harbour, there is a shoal of tiny, freshly-hatched whitebait fish. Thousands of them. They like to feed in shady water.

The shade beneath the slick is enticing the fish into danger. The whitebait will absorb some of the poisons in the oil, which will then pass up the food chain when the fish are eaten - by birds, other marine life, or by human beings.

Marine biologists fear the oil could reach Cyprus and even some of the Aegean islands.

Berj Hatjian wants to know why Israel attacked oil storage tanks right by the sea.

He thinks they must have known what the effect would be, that it would punish whole communities that had nothing to do with the conflict.

"It has nothing to do with Hezbollah," he said. "It is just hitting the economy of Lebanon - of ancient Phoenicia."


Prescott: Bush is NOT crap
BBC News

Mr Prescott made Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has denied saying the Bush administration had been "crap" on the Middle East road map - the plan for peace in the region.

Labour MP Harry Cohen said the remark came during a private meeting on Tuesday with fellow Labour MPs.

Mr Cohen said the comment was about the road map policy rather than a general view of President George W. Bush.

Mr Prescott said in a statement it was an inaccurate report of a private conversation "and it is not my view".

The remarks were said to have been made at talks with Muslim MPs and other Labour MPs with constituencies representing large Muslim communities.

Asked about Mr Prescott's denial, Mr Cohen told the BBC he did not think it was a "gaffe" by the deputy PM and that Mr Prescott should not be embarrassed.

Mr Cohen said he believed Mr Prescott's comment had been "an honest and good point well made".

Colin Brown, who is the deputy prime minister's biographer, said that this was "the type of language" used by Mr Prescott.

"It's a shorthand, it's very pithy, it's not diplomatic, and I hope that he doesn't get into any diplomatic hot water about it," he told BBC News 24.

"But the fact is, a lot of people are cheering him on."

Former ministers were "right behind him on this", Mr Brown added, and the deputy prime minister had "never been more popular than he is now" as a result.

Mr Prescott has been Tony Blair's deputy since he came to power in 1997. Mr Blair is on holiday at the moment, with Mr Prescott in charge of the government.

Pictures courtesy of BBC News online.

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