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Number of Threatened Species Tops 12,000

It's the list animals are dying, literally, to get on. Every year the so-called Red List, published by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), catalogues species threatened by extinction and the latest iteration features more than 12,000 entries. Of particular note this year are the indications that native flora and fauna of islands--from Hawaii to the Galapagos--are being put in jeopardy by invasive species.

In total, 12,259 species--characterized as critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable--had the misfortune of making the list. What is more, 762 plant and animal species are recorded as already having gone extinct and 58 remain in existence only in cultivation or captivity. "While we are still only scratching the surface in assessing all known species, we are confident this figure is an indicator of what is happening to global biological diversity," says IUCN director general Achim Steiner.

Islands often harbor species found nowhere else, many of which have made their way onto the updated Red List. Some 85 plants endemic to Hawaii are threatened, according to the report; and the Newcomb snail, which lives solely on the island of Kauai, is now considered vulnerable. Meanwhile, more than 30 snail species that call the Galapagos islands home are also at risk. "The Red List tells us that human activities are leading to a swathe of extinctions that could make these islands ecologically and aesthetically barren," Steiner remarks.

Some larger animals that have fared worse over the past year include three species of Neotropical primates: the Mexican black howler monkey is now considered endangered, with 56 percent of its natural habitat lost already; the variegated spider monkey of Colombia and Venezuela moved up to critically endangered; and under threats from urban growth, agriculture and cattle grazing, the pied tamarin (see image) is also now critically endangered. Marine animals that are at risk include all 21 species of albatross, 57 species of shark and the Mediterraneon short-beaked common dolphin.

The number of threatened species is increasing, in part, because the number of known species that scientists know about has also gone up. A botanical survey of Ecuador led to the assessment of 1,164 new plant species, more than 800 of which are in danger. "Above all, the Red List is a wake-up call to all of us," notes IUCN program officer Craig Hilton-Taylor. "By working together we can help conserve what remains of the earth's biodiversity.

By Sarah Graham

How to Identify An Idiot?

(1) He spends twenty minutes looking at an orange juice box because it said, "concentrate".
(2) He puts lipstick on the forehead because he wanted to makeup his mind.
(3) He gets stabbed in a shoot-out.
(4) He sends a fax with a stamp on it.
(5) He tries to drown a fish.
(6) If you gave them a penny for their intelligence, you'd get change.
(7) He trips over a cordless phone.
(8) He takes a ruler to bed to see how long he slept.
(9) At the bottom of the application where it says "Sign Here", he puts "Sagittarius".
(10) He takes 2 hours to watch "60 minutes".
(11) He invents a solar powered flashlight.
(12) He heard that 90% of all crimes occur around the home, so he moves.
(13) He misses the No. 14 Bus, and takes the 7 twice instead.
(14) He takes you to the airport and saw a sign that said, "Airport left", and he turned around and went home.
(15) He got locked in a furniture shop but sleeps on the floor.
(16) He spends time reading thru the above 15 points and analyses if he is an idiot!!!

By Anonymous


Thoughts Through Time

When I look at the night sky
An inner feeling of motivation arouses in me
The stars up there shining high
Carry my thoughts far beyond the sea
Of knowledge,
Where my world of imagination
Is beyond human comprehension.

I look upon the world above
Is it truly so enchanting?
Living with peace like a mild dove
The question seems echoeing
In the minds of quite many
Yet an answer hard to be found by barely any.

The darkness of the night grips me with fear
How long shall I survive?
I cannot reverse the time to the past
Neither put myself to the front or rear
Will this moment last forever?

The moonlight flows out on the land beneath
I keep in mind this very scene
For the seconds are my treasure
They may never come back for my pleasure
Yet the thoughts that cross my mind
Are forverer cherished even if u don?t find
In the shut eyes with tears of suppression
But to face the reality is my obssession!

By Farah Laika Islam


All those days we spent together,
All those miles we walked together,
All those kisses I had from you,
All those unforgettable time we had together,
Are so hard to say they never existed.

Every time I see a new spring,
I remember that memorable spring,
All those crisps leaves that ever fall,
Are like me trying to forget a fall,
And I know that it will always be the same.

Whatever I do, wherever I go,
You are with me.
There is no use denying it,
All this has taught me,
That I really was wrong.

I sit and wonder only about you,
And I understood that playing games,
With hearts is just so wrong,
Because you never know,
When the prey may turn you into a prey.

By Adity Das Gupta

Cool Adda

The location: The local VCD club

How to get there: Anybody aware of one's neighbourhood will know where the VCD club is located, unless you're a nerd and prefer staying indoors all day.

Pre-requisites: You need to be into movies and should be willing to loiter around with friends discussing petty movies.

The Adda: The adda is basically about movies since movies are all that you'll see around you. The adda can be quite lively if you're accompanied by some friends and even if there are no buddies of yours around, there's always the ever-so-amiable club manager to chat with. You can talk on various subjects, like which Hindi film was "marafied" from which English film, which film features Heather Graham in the most heavenly way and various other stuff. Then there are the usual expert commentary on why the sequel to some movie was worse than the first part (take The Matrix for example), why Stephen Spielberg is better than James Cameron or why Stanley Kubrick is not the average filmmaker for your whole family. Another interesting topic of discussion is the heroic act of some common acquaintance, one who had managed to bag several CDs from the club without getting caught. This isn't something you better not discuss in front of your club manager. He may judge by the company you keep. (Which he rightfully should!)

The pros: The adda is a great way to show off your knowledge on movies. In my case, I play the part of the audience while I witness my friends speaking on movies with the air of sophisticated movie experts who had just missed out the chance of being on the judges' panel of the Academy Awards.

The cons: A large portion of the adda can be wasted behind persuading the manager rent you CDs for free i.e. if you have empty pockets or have already enough "baaki". You need to be an expert negotiator (not like the guys from UN) in order to please the grouchy club manager.

By Hamdu Mia

Why are planets round?

Derek Sears, professor of cosmochemistry at the University of Arkansas, explains.
Planets are round because their gravitational field acts as though it originates from the center of the body and pulls everything toward it. With its large body and internal heating from radioactive elements, a planet behaves like a fluid, and over long periods of time succumbs to the gravitational pull from its center of gravity. The only way to get all the mass as close to planet's center of gravity as possible is to form a sphere. The technical name for this process is "isostatic adjustment."
With much smaller bodies, such as the 20-kilometer asteroids we have seen in recent spacecraft images, the gravitational pull is too weak to overcome the asteroid's mechanical strength. As a result, these bodies do not form spheres. Rather they maintain irregular, fragmentary shapes





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