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6.5 Earthquake Strikes Off California Coast

January 10th, 2010 admin No comments

FRESNO, Calif — A 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Northern California Saturday afternoon, shaking buildings south of the Oregon border and knocking out power in several coastal communities.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit at about 4:27 p.m. about 27 miles from Eureka, a city of about 26,000.

The state’s warning center hasn’t received any reports of injuries or major damage, California Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Lori Newquist said.

The earthquake knocked out the power in Arcata, a small town that’s home to Humboldt State University, and one resident said many people had objects knocked off walls and televisions tumble.

“It was huge – one of the biggest earthquakes we’ve had up here in 20 years,” said Judd Starks, the kitchen manager at a bar and restaurant known as The Alibi. “The whole town is kind of freaked out right now. All the power is out, people are out walking around.”

Sandra Hall, owner of Antiques and Goodies in Eureka, said furniture fell over, nearly all her lamps broke and the handful of customers in her store got a big scare. She said it was the most dramatic quake in the 30 years the store has been open.

“It was shaking for a very long time,” Hall said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there was no threat of the quake generating a tsunami. In November 2006, an 8.3-magnitude temblor in Japan sent waves that hit the region for eight hours, causing $9 million damage.

The quake was felt as far south as Capitola in central California, and as far north as Roseburg in central Oregon, USGS geophysicist Richard Buckmaster said.

Dan Bowermaster of San Francisco was with relatives in Eureka when the quake hit. He said he had been in several moderate and large quakes throughout California but had never felt anything as big or dramatic as this one.

“It just spiraled bigger and bigger,” Bowermaster said by phone. “It was extremely unsettling, it was shaking in kind of a circular way.”

Bowermaster said the refrigerator in his cousins’ home moved 3 or 4 feet, and glassware fell of the shelves and broke. He drove across town shortly after the quake and saw many store windows destroyed.

Five aftershocks followed in the 90 minutes after the quake, the biggest registering at a magnitude of 3.8. The San Francisco Bay area was struck by two light earthquakes on Thursday and Friday.

Hall said there was hardly any glassware left in her antiques store.

“We’ll be having a sale on broken china for those who like to do mosaics.”

___

Dalton reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press Writer Bob Christie contributed from Phoenix.

More on Natural Disasters


Categories: World Tags: , ,

Midday Open Thread

January 8th, 2010 admin No comments
  • Well, isn’t this special — the attempted murder of nearly 300 Americans is good for Pete Hoekstra (R-MI):

    GINGRICH: In Michigan, I think Pete Hoekstra is putting together such a good campaign and has gotten such a boost out of having been intelligence committee chairman now with the attempted attack on Detroit that Pete really is becoming a dominant figure in the state.

    If by dominant, Gingrich means the disgust normal people felt at seeing Hoekstra trying to cash in on the attempted bombing, then yes, it was great.

  • How much would you pay to hear Sarah Palin wax poetic to teabaggers? And how much does it cost to get her to talk to “real” Americans?

    This morning, I asked whether Sarah Palin’s decision to speak at the Tea Party National Convention — while eschewing the much higher-profile Conservative Political Action Conference — had anything to with money. Conservative blogger Dan Riehl is reporting, based on “forwarded communications,” that Palin is making at least $75,000 and at most $100,000 for her speech. Tickets for the speech along are going for $349 — tickets for the whole convention are $549.

  • You can listen to radio ads for John McCain’s (R-AZ) reelection campaign here. Please listen and then mock liberally.
  • And then check out a tweet from McCain that will have your eyes rolling to the point of pain.
  • It figures:

    “States with the most to gain under health care reform are overwhelmingly represented by Republicans, while those states likely to do worse are much more likely to have Democratic senators,” conclude the study’s authors. From their findings:

    [T]he states most likely to “win” as a result of health care reform are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah. All of these states have a relatively high number of uninsured and all are in the bottom half of states in terms of cost under both financing mechanisms.

  • Sally Quinn’s column in today’s WaPo is a sort of Rosetta Stone for Village mores. – Jake McIntyre
  • Does the inauguration of the Dauletabad-Sarakhs-Khangiran pipeline that connects Iran’s northern Caspian region with Turkmenistan’s natural gas fields signal the faint notes of a Russia-China-Iran symphony? – Meteor Blades
  • Have you heard of the death star that could wipe out the earth? Well, don’t start panicking just yet. –DarkSyde
  • Alabama GOP gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne gets caught up in a latter-day impromptu Scopes trial, as he is forced to recant his earlier insinuation that there might be some parts of the Bible that are not “literally true”. This led to a mini-kerfluffle where some outraged citizens threatened not to shop at the Piggly Wiggly, whose executive officer was appearing at a press conference endorsing Byrne. –Steve Singiser
  • To steal from an old gag at Sports Illustrated magazine, here is This Week’s Sign of the Apocalypse: Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas is paying The Salahi’s (better known as the WH party crashers) to headline a party at one of their nightclubs. The gig is going to pay them $5000. –Steve Singiser
  • 19-year-old single mom/apparent political phenom Bristol Palin is opening her very own public relations and political consulting firm, BSMP, LLC. Family (and now business) representatives say Bristol does PR as a Candie’s Foundation “Teen Ambassador” on the prevention of teen pregnancy. No, really. Others say it’s a great way for the family to legally pocket the lucre now collecting dust (and interest) in the coffers of SarahPAC. – David Waldman


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , , , ,

CES: Katzenberg Optimistic For Prospects Of 3D TV

January 8th, 2010 admin No comments

As the entertainment industry works increasingly hand in hand with technology companies in creating future media, its presence at CES this year is everywhere. In the following clip, Jeffrey Katzenber, CEO of Dreamworks Animation, talks at length of the tremendous potential for the future of 3D television, emerging first in video games and sports. He estimates that 10% of the TVs shipped this year will be 3D capable.

He goes on to note that despite the economy, box office sales are booming in markets such as China and Russia. This, in conjunction with the rise of 3D and animation factor in to his bullish outlook for the future of the entertainment industry.


Categories: World Tags: , , , ,

Robert Greenwald: Time to Rethink Afghanistan

January 3rd, 2010 admin No comments

It’s the economy, stupid, with help from the New York Times. The war in Afghanistan continues to escalate, and more are killed each day — CIA, soldiers, and civilians in Afghanistan.

And while the United States spends billions the Chinese are building industry, jobs and good will.

As the Times detailed, the Chinese government is focused on strengthening its access to resources it needs to keep its industry functioning, and providing jobs for the people in Afghanistan. China is focused on effective security rather then invading, occupying and wasting billions.

Mining cooper and coal, providing work for Afghans, building up infrastructure in the country, all being done by the Chinese.

It is a critical time for the United States to break the grip of a philosophy that the military has a solution for social, economic and education problems.

In my time in Kabul I was struck by the desperate needs that the third poorest country in the world has. They are evident on every block, in every home, in every school. And yet, unlike the Chinese, we are spending a million per troop to occupy.

Join us at Rethink Afghanistan. We need help from everyone to break the hold of military thinking.

More on China


Categories: World Tags: , , , , ,

Your Abbreviated Pundit Round-up

January 2nd, 2010 admin No comments

Happy New Year! If I had a nickel for every Republican columnist who uses “Heck of a job, Brownie” without realizing how damning that is for the last Republican administration and how it undermines a column’s worth of invective, I’d be a rich man.

Ellen Goodman:

There is something fitting about publishing my last column on the first day of a new year. January, after all, is named for the Roman god of beginnings and endings. He looked backward and forward at the same time. So, this morning, do I.

I wish I could find the right language to describe this rite of passage. Retirement, that swoon of a word, just won’t do. The Spanish translation, jubilación, is a bit over the top for my own mix of feelings.

Honor of placement at the top. Fare well, Ellen.

Paul Krugman:

It’s the season when pundits traditionally make predictions about the year ahead. Mine concerns international economics: I predict that 2010 will be the year of China. And not in a good way.

Don’t piss off our creditors, Paul. They might ask for the check.

Denis Dutton:

The Y2K catastrophe was promoted with increasing shrillness toward century’s end: headlines proclaimed a “computer time bomb” or “a date with disaster.” Vanity Fair’s January 1999 article “The Y2K Nightmare” caught the sensationalist tone, claiming that “folly, greed and denial” had “muffled two decades of warnings from technology experts.”

Wiseguys that don’t lift a finger to help nontheless benefit when others work to fix the problem. The Ant And The Grasshopper would be a more instructive fable to read than this.

Steve Case:

Now, this nation does a pretty good (albeit, costly) job of getting people well when they get sick. But we’re missing the larger question: What can we do to keep people from getting sick in the first place? The area that requires the greatest focus relates to chronic diseases.

Don’t smoke, and wear a helmet on a motorcycle. If you want to argue about that, don’t argue about health care costs.

LA Times:

Some of the Democrats’ most prominent figures, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, are in serious danger as they seek reelection. Both would probably lose if elections were held today.

“It all adds up to a pretty bad year for the party in power,” said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. “How bad? I’m not sure we know yet.”

However, for all Republicans stand to gain, the party still has problems. Polls show that many voters, though unhappy with Democrats, are even less enamored of the GOP.

The Sophie’s Choice election? All elections are like that.

Charles Krauthammer: Well, it’s 2010. Did Obama fix everything yet? C’mon, he’s had all morning. And you owe me a nickel.


Categories: Politics Tags: , , , , , ,

BPhone looks like a netbook, acts like a netbook, has ‘phone’ in its name (video)

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

If you were looking for a large and impractical “cellphone,” we just might have some news for you. Hot on the heels of a certain Dell netbook mod, we submit for your approval a 5-inch convertible device that features a QWERTY chocolate keyboard, trackball, and quite possibly Windows XP. We’ve got no relevant data for you, such as manufacturer, price, and release date are all mysteries at this point, but you can see it in action if you like — just check out the videos after the break. As for us, we think we’ll just wait for the xpPhone.

Continue reading BPhone looks like a netbook, acts like a netbook, has ‘phone’ in its name (video)

BPhone looks like a netbook, acts like a netbook, has ‘phone’ in its name (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 31 Dec 2009 15:25:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Cloned in China  |  sourceM8 Cool  | Email this | Comments

Categories: Electronics, Technology Tags: , , , ,

SmartQ V5 MID available now to a world that’s just stopped caring

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

When we first laid eyes on the SmartQ V5, we were pretty underwhelmed… yet another resistive touchscreen MID? We’re beginning to long for those halcyon days of late 2009 when an Android handheld was a thing of awe and wonder. Just a refresher: this guy features a 4.3-inch display, 600MHz ARM11 processor (which the brave among us can overclock to 800MHz), 256MB RAM, HDMI out, and more. Of some interest to the jaded gadget-head, this guy ships with Android, Ubuntu, and Windows CE 6.0 pre-installed — not a bad feature, if that’s your thing. If you poke around the Internets you should be able to find this bad boy for near $180.

SmartQ V5 MID available now to a world that’s just stopped caring originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 31 Dec 2009 12:24:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Pocketables  |  sourceiMP3  | Email this | Comments

Sarah van Gelder: Nine Ways Our World Changed during the ’00s

December 31st, 2009 admin No comments

What was the decade of the ’00s about? What trends showed up in the last 10 years that will set the stage for the ’10s? The following nine trends are a snapshot of some of the driving forces we’re dealing with now at the turn of the decade.

1. The rich got really, really rich, and then got a spanking. During the irrational exuberance of the ’90s and early ’00s, it seemed like anybody should be able to get rich betting on bubbles. Pundits predicted there would be no end to the expansion of wealth and that we had transcended the business cycle. But the dot com bubble burst, then the housing bubble, and the financial bubble. Most of the rich are still rich–the bailouts made sure of that. But driving a Bentley is now considered poor taste, and populist anger is growing. The gap between rich and poor is growing, too, while the ladder out of poverty is splintering.

2. Middle class existence went from steadily stagnant to downright precarious.
Necessities like housing, energy, food, education, and medical care all climbed, while incomes stagnated. Families survived by working increasing hours, and by going into debt, using their homes as collateral. When the Great Recession hit, we learned that being middle class had been a bubble, too. And the billions that Wall Street took in bailouts hasn’t “trickled down” to ordinary people or to the real economy.

3. Mother Earth came up to bat. At the beginning of the decade, it was just the environmentalists, scientists, and some very forward-looking elected officials talking about the hazards of climate change, along with the insurance companies that have to pay for the increasing rates of wild fires, floods, and other climate-related disasters. Today, Pentagon brass, business owners, religious leaders, farmers, foresters, and people at all levels of government are seeing the danger and looking for ways to stop the disruption of the climate. The global leaders at Copenhagen struck out, but Mother Earth bats last.

4. We found a new enemy. We called the enemy “terror,” and we made war on it. Rather than use proven counter-terrorism strategies of sophisticated police work plus intelligence, the Bush administration used the shock of 9/11 to justify ultimately futile invasions and occupations. Then they added torture and a crack-down on civil liberties abroad and at home. It’s hard to measure the costs in traumatized civilians and soldiers, the dead and dying, refugees and broken societies, billions of added national debt, and the tarnished reputation of the United States. But here’s one gauge: Invading Afghanistan has already helped bring down one superpower. The ’00s set the stage for us to follow the Soviet Union’s example.

5. First we hated government. Later, we loved it. Government was revealed at its worst during Hurricane Katrina, when sheriff deputies blocked fleeing citizens from crossing a bridge to safety and the federal government offered little more than black booted Blackwater guards to maintain “security” and a morale-boosting “Good job, Brownie!” from the commander in chief. Maybe it’s to be expected that a president who hates government would turn over emergency preparedness to cronies and crooks. On the other hand, when the uber-greed of Wall Street threatened to bring the global economy to its knees, it turned out government could act quickly and effectively to keep the money flowing.

6. The Republican Party collapsed as a trusted force for reasoned governance, driven into the ground by the incompetence of its president, by unjustifiable and devastating military campaigns, and by policies that turned the economy over to corporate powers, who took it over a cliff. Economic fundamentalism and neoconservativism are now understood to be dystopian fantasies, and all that’s left for those who remain in the party is to flail around with tea bagging, climate denial, and attempts to kill anything that doesn’t bolster the military-industrial complex, the wealthy, and big business.

7. The Democratic Party collapsed as a trusted force for reasoned governance when, in spite of having an overwhelming mandate from the American people for real change, elected officials allowed corporations and their lobbyists to call the shots on health care reform, regulation of Wall Street speculation, and climate legislation. The resulting policies shored up the stock market but did little to help ordinary people, who became increasingly alienated from the party.

8. China continued its rapid ascent, moving quietly into position to become the next superpower. The U.S. debt to China, coupled with the transfer of most manufacturing capacity abroad–especially to China–hampered efforts to rebuild the U.S. economy, and weakened our global position. (This is one more outcome of corporate power, to add to 1-7 above.)

9. We began to hear whispers of the End Times, including the best selling post-rapture “Left Behind” series, the new disaster flick 2012, and the prophesies related to the Mayan calendar (Google it, and you’ll get over 8 million hits). The real end times might be more straightforward. At the same time Wall Street wealth was soaring (with a short setback in 2008), the ’00s witnessed a crash in the real wealth that keeps civilizations alive: fresh water, climate stability, trust and solidarity with fellow human beings, reliable public infrastructure, healthy soil and forests, resilient agriculture, sound governance, livelihoods that can meet basic necessities. Our way of life is increasingly precarious as we import much more than our fair share of the world’s declining supply of fossil energy and of other resources, bring the climate to the brink of runaway change. The end times of this consumption lifestyle are, indeed, upon us.

But wait, there are signs, too, that people are pulling out of this downward spiral. In the ’00s, people around the world turned away from obsolete ways of life, and went to work building the foundations of a world where our families and communities can thrive along with the natural systems that we rely on. The seeds are already planted. In my next column, I’ll list the 12 innovations begun in the ’00s that we can build on in the 2010s.

Sarah van Gelder is executive editor of YES! Magazine, a national media organization that links powerful ideas and practical action toward a just and sustainable world.

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Apple tablet rumor party: Fox News, former Google China president, and the ‘iGuide’

December 31st, 2009 admin No comments

No words can stress how much we’re sick of Apple ‘iSlate‘ rumors right now, but when someone with powerful links speaks up, we gotta take note. Kai-fu Lee — former Google China president — has joined the Apple rumor mill by leaking what he claims to be insider knowledge of the device. Now, we’ve heard a lot of this same noise before: sub-$1000 price, an iPhone-like appearance, 10.1-inch multitouch screen, video conferencing, cellular connectivity, 3D graphics and virtual keyboard. What really got our attention is Lee’s link with Foxconn — the Apple OEM is one of the main contributors to Lee’s post-Google investment venture, Innovation Works, so there’s a good chance that Lee’s spoken to someone overlooking the manufacturing of a certain Apple device. Of course, we can’t abide Lee’s final proclamation that “Apple expects to produce near ten million units in the first year!” This is pretty bold considering Apple’s only sold five million portable computers so far this year (and ten million was the number of iPods sold in Q3 2009 alone), but hey, who knows if Steve Jobs has already worked out a subsidizing plan with some carriers to lure us all?

Continue reading Apple tablet rumor party: Fox News, former Google China president, and the ‘iGuide’

Apple tablet rumor party: Fox News, former Google China president, and the ‘iGuide’ originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 30 Dec 2009 20:53:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink The iPhone Blog, CNET  |  sourceKai-fu Lee’s microblog, Fox News, Mac Rumors  | Email this | Comments

Categories: Electronics, Technology Tags: , , , , ,

Johann Hari: As A Dark Year Ends, Remember the Inspirational Peoople of 2009

December 30th, 2009 admin No comments

It was a dark year, 2009, sealing a dark decade. It began with the world in economic free-fall and the Gaza Strip being bombed to pieces (again). We watched the vicious crushing of a democratic uprising in Iran, a successful far-right coup in Honduras, and the intensification of the disastrous war in Afghanistan. It all ended at Brokenhagen, where the world’s leaders breezily decided to carry on cooking the planet.

But in the midst of all this there were extraordinary points of light, generated by people who have refused to drink the cheap sedative of despair. The left-wing newsman Wes Nisker said in his final broadcast: “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.” I want – in the final moments of 2009 – to celebrate the people who, this year, did just that: the men and women who didn’t slump, but realised that the worse the world gets, the harder people of goodwill have to work to put it right.

Inspiration One: Denis Mukwege. The war in the Congo is the worst since Adolf Hitler marched across Europe: it has killed more than 5 million people and counting. As I witnessed when I reported on the war in 2006, the violence has been turned primarily on the country’s women: one favourite tactic is to gang-rape a woman and then shoot her in the vagina. For years these women were simply left to die in the bush. But one man – a soft-spoken Congolese gynaecologist with a gentle smile – decided to do something mad, something impossible. With scarcely any equipment and no funding, he set up a secret clinic for these women.

He was told he would be killed by the militias for undoing their “work”. The threats said his own daughters would be murdered if he didn’t stop. Everyone thought he was mad. But he knew it was the right thing to do. He became the Oscar Schindler of the Congolese mass rapes, saving the lives of tens of thousands of women. In the midst of a moral Chernobyl, he showed that the best human instincts can survive and, in time, prevail. It is rumoured he was number two in the Nobel Committee’s list for the Peace Prize. He should have won.

Inspiration Two: Liu Xiaobo. A year ago, a petition began to circulate in China demanding that its one billion citizens be allowed to think and speak freely. “We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes,” it said. As if they were the Irony Police, the Chinese authorities promptly arrested the authors and many of its signatories. One of the most articulate and brave – Liu Xiaobo – was sentenced to 11 years in a re-education camp for “subversion”.

The Chinese authorities believe human rights are a “plot” to weaken China. In fact, China will be immeasurably stronger when it stops persecuting its citizens when they try to develop their minds and defend each other.

Liu is not alone. Hu Jia is in prison for warning about China’s hidden Aids crisis. Huang Qi is in jail for warning that the poor construction of school buildings in Sichuan – because the builders bribed the local authorities – meant hundreds of children died unnecessarily in the earthquake. There is a long list, and for every prisoner, thousands more are too frightened to speak. But these dissidents stand as models of the truly great nation China will be one day, when it stops persecuting these people and starts electing them.

Inspiration Three: Evo Morales and Malalai Joya. Although they were born thousands of miles apart, these two people embody what real democracy can mean. When Evo Morales was a child, the indigenous peoples of Bolivia weren’t even allowed to set foot in the capital’s central square, which was reserved for white people. Today, he is the President, and for the first time in his country’s history, he is diverting the billions raised from the country’s natural resources away from the pockets of US corporations. It is building schools and hospitals for people who had nothing, and poverty is being eradicated in a stunning burst of progress.

Malalai Joya is the youngest woman ever to be elected in Afghanistan, and she was swiftly banned from taking her seat because she kept speaking up for the people who elected her – against the violent fundamentalist warlords our governments have put in charge of the country. They keep trying to murder her, but she says: “I don’t fear death, I fear remaining silent in the face of injustice … I am ready, wherever and whenever you might strike. You can cut down the flower, but nothing can stop the coming of the spring.”

She and Morales are authentic democrats, in contrast to the parody of it offered by Hamid Karzai and – too often – our own leaders.

Inspiration Four: Amy Goodman and the team at Democracy Now! It’s not hard to despair of the US at the moment, when even the silver-tongued King of Change seems unable to get real healthcare and cuts in warming gases through his corrupt Senate, and he is ramming harder into Afghanistan. A large part of the problem is the atrocious US broadcast media. The TV news is one lengthy blowjob for the powerful, seeing everything from the perspective of the rich, and ridiculing arguments for progress. It serves its owners and its advertisers by poisoning every political debate with death-panel distractions and silence for the things that matter.

But there is one remarkable exception. Broadcasting from a tiny studio in New York, on a budget raised entirely from its viewers, comes Democracy Now! Every day, the hour-long broadcast – hosted by the wonderful Amy Goodman – tells the real news. While the nightly news fills up with junk and gossip, they calmly, cleverly explain what is really happening. For example, while ABC and NBC were fixating on Tiger Woods’ genitals, Democracy Now! was in Copenhagen, explaining how the world’s rainforests were being stiffed. They, at least, can tell the trees from the Woods. It is the best single source for making sense of the world that I know – and it is a model of what the American media could be if it treated its viewers with respect.

Inspiration Five: Peter Tatchell. Long before it was trendy to support gay equality, there was Peter Tatchell, taking huge risks for what was right. As one of the pioneers of direct action to oppose bigotry against gay people, he was never afraid to put his own body in the path of bigots. In 1999, he performed a citizen’s arrest on the murderous Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe, and was beaten so badly by his bodyguards he has never recovered. This year, he went to Moscow to defend the gay rights march there from viciously anti-gay police, and was beaten again. This year, he announced he had to withdraw from running as the Green candidate in Oxford East because the damage was so severe.

Almost unbelievably, some people who claim to be on the left have attacked Tatchell because he criticises homophobes who happen to be black, Arab or Asian in exactly the same way he criticises people who are white. (He tried to arrest Tony Blair and Henry Kissinger for war crimes just as surely as he tried to get Mugabe.) But the real racism would be to hold non-white people to lower standards, as if their bigotries were less real or less deadly. A person who chooses to persecute gay people is monstrous and should be stopped – whatever their skin colour, and whatever their culture. Tatchell has dedicated his life to that cause, and he deserves our endless thanks, not dishonest abuse.

What do they all have in common, all these people? When Mukwege built his clinic, they said he’d be dead within a week. When Tatchell said gay people could be equal, they laughed in his face. When Morales and Joya ran for office, they said people like them could never win. They dismiss Liu and Goodman now; but their arguments will win, in time.

They show that when the world gets worse, that’s not a reason to slink away in despair. On the contrary: it’s a reason to work harder and aim higher. As the essayist Rebecca Solnit says: “Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” That should be the epitaph for these remarkable people – and for 2009.

Johann Hari is a writer for the Independent. To read more of his articles, click here.

He is also a contrbuting writer for Slate magazine. To read his latest article there, clck here.

You can follow Johann on Twiter at www.twitter.com/johannhari101