chronological, scroll downward for any added news stories)
Hero Nanny Walks Through Flames to Save Boy's Life
By Kathy Ehrich Dowd | Friday, March 26, 2010 5:59 PM ET
Alyson Myatt bravely runs barefoot through a hallway of flames to save the 5-year-old in her care.
Mary Poppins might bill herself as practically perfect in every way, but we think Alyson Myatt just might have her beat in the nannying department.
Why? Early Tuesday morning, the 22-year-old live-in Kentucky nanny literally walked barefoot through flames to save her 5-year-old charge — a move that rightly earned her supernanny status, as well as serious burns on her feet.
“To physically run through flames is heroics to the nth degree,” Shelbyville Fire Chief Willard Tucker told The Courier-Journal newspaper. “To make a choice to charge right through flames is kind of above what are normal heroics.”
Yet in true hero fashion Myatt is modest about her deed.
“I didn’t even think about me getting hurt or getting burned,” Myatt told the Today Show. “I really didn’t even think that I was barefoot. I was just yelling for Aden and I ran and got him. All of it happened really quick.”
The drama began around 3 a.m. Tuesday when a broken ventilation fan in an upstairs bathroom overheated and caught fire. Myatt put out the fire and called Aden's father, a single parent who was away on business, and both agreed everything seemed fine. But three hours later the fan caught fire again and crashed to the floor, starting a much bigger blaze near Adan's bedroom.
When she yelled to Aden, she realized he was cowering under the sheets in his bed and needed rescue. She did so without hesitation — a move fire officials say saved his life in the nick of time.
“It was like I was walking on goo ’cause all the skin. My feet were just burned off,” she told NBC Affiliate Wave 3 in Louisville.
Yet Myatt still managed to get herself and Aden out of the house and into their minivan. She then drove to a neighbor's house using just her toes, which were less severely burned. From there they called the authorities and Myatt was taken to the hospital for treatment as Aden's father, J.B. Hawes, rushed home.
“I came straight to the hospital and saw her on the bed,” Hawes told Today. “To realize what she did, saved my son’s life, you can’t thank someone for that. There’s nothing you can do to repay them for taking that kind of a risk.”
Myatt clearly has Aden's eternal gratitude as well, telling Today, "I love her so much. I miss her when she's gone."
But thanks to Myatt's amazingly heroic deed, it looks like she and Aden have many more fun adventures ahead.
By RACHEL D'ORO
Associated Press Writer The Associated Press
Friday, April 23, 2010 6:07 PM EDT
Buddy appears at a news conference in Anchorage, Alaska on
Friday, April 23, 2010.... (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Buddy the German shepherd was hailed
Friday as a hero for guiding Alaska State Troopers through winding back
roads to a fire at his owners' workshop.
"Buddy is an untrained
dog who for some reason recognized the severity of the situation and
acted valiantly in getting help for his family," Col. Audie Holloway,
head of the troopers, said Friday at a ceremony for the 5-year-old dog,
who stood quietly before an adoring crowd.
Buddy, whose good deed
was caught on a patrol car's dashcam video, received a stainless steel
dog bowl engraved with words of appreciation from troopers for his
"diligence and assistance."
Buddy also received a big rawhide
bone, and his human family got a framed letter documenting his efforts.
my hero," owner Ben Heinrichs said, his voice breaking. "If it wasn't
for him, we would have lost our house."
The dashcam video shows
Buddy meeting the trooper's vehicle, then dashing to their property
about 55 miles north of Anchorage on April 4.
Heinrichs said he
was working on parts for his truck when a spark hit some gasoline and
ignited, lighting his clothes blaze. The 23-year-old man ran outside to
stomp out the flames by rolling in the snow, closing the door to keep
the blaze from spreading.
Heinrichs then realized Buddy was still
inside the burning building and let the dog out. Heinrichs suffered
minor burns on his face and second-degree burns on his left hand, which
was still heavily bandaged Friday.
Buddy was not injured.
just took off running," Heinrichs said. "I said we need to get help,
and he just took off."
Buddy ran into the nearby woods and onto
Caswell Loop Road, where the dog encountered the trooper, Terrence
Shanigan, whose global positioning device had failed while responding to
a call about the fire. He was working with dispatchers to find the
property in an area with about 75 miles of back roads.
was about to make a wrong turn when he saw a shadow up the road. His
vehicle lights caught Buddy at an intersection, and the dog eyed the
trooper and began running down a side road.
"He wasn't running
from me, but was leading me," he said. "I just felt like I was being led
... it's just one of those things that we're thinking on the same page
for that brief moment."
The video shows Buddy occasionally looking
back at the patrol car as he raced ahead, galloping around three turns
before arriving in front of the blaze, which was very close to the
The workshop was destroyed and a shed was heavily
damaged, but only some window trim on the house was scorched.
Heinrich family said they knew Buddy was smart ever since they got him
six weeks after he was born to a canine-officer mother and that he was
brave, twice chasing bears away while Ben Heinrichs was fishing.
saving their home beat them all.
"Downright amazing, I would
say," said Tom Heinrichs, Ben's father. "Maybe there was some divine
Bill Gates, left, and Warren Buffett, seen in
this 2007 photo during the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders
meeting in Omaha, are trying to persuade other American billionaires to
give at least half their wealth to charity.
8/4/2010 7:14:53 PM ET
A little over a year after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett began
hatching a plan over dinner to persuade America's wealthiest people to
give most of their fortunes to charity, more than three-dozen
individuals and families have agreed to take part, campaign organizers
In addition to Buffett and Gates — America's two wealthiest
individuals, with a combined net worth of $90 billion, according to
Forbes — 38 other billionaires have signed
The Giving Pledge. They
include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, entertainment executive Barry
Diller, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, energy tycoon T. Boone
Pickens, media mogul Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, film director George
Lucas and investor Ronald Perelman.
"We're off to a terrific start," Buffett, co-founder and chairman and
CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in a conference call also attended by
Bloomberg and San Francisco hedge-fund manager Tom Steyer and his wife
Kat Taylor, founder of OneCalifornia Bank.
Buffett said he and Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, and Gates' wife Melinda made calls to fellow billionaires on the
Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans — in many cases, people they had never met — to try to persuade them to join the giving pledge.
WOW, roads made out of solar panels. Brilliant !!!!!!!!!!!
Sundance Favorite Finally Gets Released After Thirteen Years
by Jonathan Crow·August 3, 2010
Back in 1997, "Colin Fitz Lives!"
was the darling of the Sundance film festival. The low-budget comedy
was praised by Robert Ebert and Harry Knowles. It went on to win a slew
of film fest awards and looked poised to be another breakout indie hit
like Kevin Smith's "Clerks", Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" and Robert Rodriquez's "El Mariachi."
Instead, the movie just disappeared.
Over the years, "Colin Fitz Lives!" developed into something of a legend
in the indie world. Fans everywhere wondered when the "greatest film
never released" -- as it was dubbed by the San Francisco Chronicle --
was ever going to hit their local theater. Fourteen years and three
presidents later, the movie is finally about to get its theatrical due.
So what happened? As director Robert Bella describes in an essay that appeared in Indiewire.com, the short answer is crippling debt.
Back in the days before the Internet, Bella was a struggling actor
with dreams of directing when he came across a script written by his
friend Tom Morrissey -- a tale about two clueless security guards posted
at the grave of Colin Fitz, a dead rock star with a very obsessive fan
Even though he had never directed a thing, much less went to film school, Bella decided to make the movie.
At first, the stars seemed to align for the budding filmmaker. He
managed to line up an impressive array of actors -- including William H.
Macy ("Fargo"), Martha Plimpton ("The Goonies") and John McGinty ("Scrubs") -- provided that he shoot immediately.
Bella had $50,000 of his own cash he was willing to put into the project
and managed to raise another $100K. With today's cheap digital video
cameras and editing software, that would be plenty to finish a feature
film. But that wasn't the case in the analog '90s when it was commonly
understood that shooting, cutting and printing a feature film would cost
a half million dollars.
His plan was shoot first and raise money for post production later. Yet
not long after production wrapped and with his coffers depleted, Bella
received a call from Sundance with an offer he couldn't refuse. "The
good news: The film had been accepted into Dramatic Competition. The
bad news: A 35mm print had to be in Park City, Utah. In eight weeks."
So he did what every budding indie filmmaker would do in that
situation: He maxed out 20 credit cards to raise the money needed to
make a finished print of the film.
In spite of the warm reception "Colin Fitz Lives" got at Sundance,
Bella soon discovered none of the distribution deals offered would cover
his costs. When it was all added up, including music rights, lab fees,
and deferred salaries, the filmmaker realized that he would owe about
The amount proved to be crippling for the struggling filmmaker; he
was financially wrecked and his movie was in hock. He even wound up on
the street for a spell. "I had called in so many favors, crashed on so
many couches, and borrowed so much money from friends and relatives that
I simply could not bear to ask for yet one more favor. So, I slept in a
storage space. Along with all my worldly possessions."
It took six years for Bella to dig himself out of personal debt and
another eight to buy back his movie from his creditors. Along the way,
he managed to direct a few other low-budget movies and act in a handful
of others. Then not long after managed to buy back his cut negatives
from the lab, he was casually approached by Arianna Bocco of IFC Films.
"'What ever happened with 'Colin Fitz'?" [she asked.]
I told her, 'It's sitting in my closet. Wanna buy it?'
Lo and behold, she said: "Sure!'
I couldn't believe it. After all those years - it was just that easy."
"Colin Fitz Lives!" comes out on demand August 4 and then in a limited theatrical release August 6.
BP calls in Costner's $26m vacuum cleaners to mop up huge oil spill
The 'Waterworld' star has spent 15 years developing
device to separate oil from sea water and it is now being put to work
By Guy Adams in Los Angeles
Kevin Costner in a scene from his
1995 film Waterworld. Now he's trying to avert a real-life crisis
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
So with hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil still spewing into the
Gulf of Mexico each day, and its corporate image starting to resemble
the tar-covered sea creatures now washing on to Louisiana's fragile
shoreline, BP has called on Kevin Costner to help stave off
The Hollywood star has been bobbing around the Mississippi Delta helping
representatives of the British oil firm and US coastguard test-drive a
stainless steel device called the Ocean Therapy. In a claim which
unlikely as the plot premise of Waterworld, he says it can quickly and
efficiently clean oil from tainted sea water.
Bizarrely, Costner may be on to something. The actor has spent 15 years
roughly $26m (£18m) of his personal fortune developing the patented
with the help of his elder brother Dan, a scientist. It works like a
vacuum cleaner, sucking up dirty liquid
and then using a high-speed
centrifuge to separate it into oil, and heavier water.
When he allowed the local media to see Ocean Therapy in action – albeit
land – it appeared to work as advertised. Yesterday, six of the
attached to boats and floated into the Gulf, so the organisers of the
clean-up operation could see whether they might also be capable of
functioning on the high seas.
that we know works, and has worked
for a long time,"
Costner said, adding that 26 of the machines are now in Louisiana
be put into action. "I'm just really happy that the light of day has
come to this, and I'm very sad about why it is. But this is why it was
developed, and like anything that we all face, as a group, we face it
Costner, 55, has quietly been developing Ocean Therapy since the
when he founded the Costner Industries Nevada Corporation, a company
funded eco-friendly research
by his brother and a team of scientists. Aside
from the water cleaning device, the firm has also invented a
Each of the 26 Heath Robinson-style machines now in Louisiana waiting to
deployed can clean between 5 and 200 gallons of water a minute,
its size, said Costner's lawyer and business partner, John
which means they could in theory mop up oil at the rate it is
gushing into the Gulf. Polluted sea water which passes through them
out 97 per cent clean.
"Kevin saw the Exxon Valdez spill, and as a fisherman and an
environmentalist, it just stuck in his craw, the fact that we didn't
separation technology," said Houghtaling. "Kevin wrote all the
checks for this project. This was one man's vision. Sometimes it takes
star to come in with their money and time to make a difference."
BP was cautiously optimistic about the machines, saying they could
valuable tool in the armoury of clean-up workers, provided they "meet
regulations with regard to discharge". The firm could certainly use
some good news: a warm ocean current is now transporting the slick
ruined Deepwater Horizon rig towards the coast of Florida. Roughly six
million gallons of oil have already washed into the Gulf, and is
hit the fragile coastal swamps of Louisiana, which are home to an
rare birds and mammals.
In Washington, BP is being accused of underestimating the scale of the
an effort to protect its reputation. The firm originally said that
barrels of oil were spilling each day, but later increased that figure
5,000. Many scientists believe the real figure is higher still.
Amid growing political pressure, BP has agreed to allow live underwater
footage of oil billowing into the ocean to be screened online.
relief well was drilled last week, and is said to be capturing 200,000
gallons of oil a day, the firm now admits that it could take until
plug the leak.
Costner isn't the only Hollywood star taking an interest in the
director James Cameron has offered to make his collection of
submarines available to clean-up teams, while Robert Redford is
a TV ad sponsored by the Natural Resources Defence Council, which uses
spill to call for the US government to promote clean energy.
Thursday, April 1, 2010 2:03pm PDT : California surfer receives whale of an escort during marathon paddle
By: Pete Thomas, GrindTV.com
When Southern California surfer Jodie Nelson set out Sunday to standup-paddle nearly 40 miles from Santa Catalina Island to Dana Point, she hoped it'd inspire her best friend, who has been involved in a long and exhausting struggle with breast cancer, to keep fighting.
Nelson, 34, whose mother and aunt are cancer survivors, also hoped her nine-hour test of endurance would raise money for two cancer charities and heighten awareness about a plight affecting millions of women.
What Nelson could not have known was that a 30-foot minke whale would swim alongside her 14-foot board and accompany the surfer as she stood and paddled for two of those nine hours, thus joining the cause.
"It was a day that all of us involved will never forget," Nelson said, in reference to Angela Robinson, her best friend, and the rest of a crew aboard an escort boat.
Minke whales are not commonly seen off Southern California, and those spotted by boaters are often elusive. So when a mammal Nelson named Larry joined her endeavor to become the first woman to make this long paddle, she took it as a sign.
"To me it was a total God thing," the San Clemente resident said. "We prayed at 4 that morning that God would reveal his beauty and creation and nature, and allow me to endure this long trek, so for me it's not such a huge surprise that this happened."
Larry did not merely swim close to Nelson. He rolled around repeatedly alongside her and blew bubbles beneath her board. A film crew was on the escort boat and CNN, Fox News and ABC are just some of the networks she says are interested in the story and footage.
Alisa Schulman-Janiger, an American Catacean Society whale researcher, said minke whales can be friendly but added: "This type of quality encounter is highly unusual."
Nelson raised only about $6,000 in advance of the paddle, disappoingtingly short of her target of $100,000 for the Keep a Breast Foundation and
Boarding for Breast Cancer. A few of her celebrity friends let her down, she said, but when this story reaches a national audience she expects the pool to grow considerably.
"I thought, 'I don't need so-and-so,' " she said of a particular celebrity, whom she declined to name. "Because I honestly feel like Larry is going to help us reach the $100,000 mark with our fundraising effort."
Larry or no Larry, completing a standup paddle over 39.8 miles of ocean and sharks speaks volumes about Nelson's strength, stamina and determination.
Larry took her mind off the task for two magical hours, but her mind never strayed from the cause. "I can't even begin to compare what I did to what cancer patients are going through," she said. "But I wanted to put myself out there in a dangerous and scary, overwhelming situation; something that was big and just to show people that you can win that battle with that big, scary thing called cancer.
"I wanted to draw some kind of parallel and just encourage people to keep fighting."
Those wanting to help Jodie with her mission can do so via her page on the Keep a Breast Foundation website.
People in drought-stricken countries could one day create rain clouds
on demand thanks to laser technology.
discovered that firing short laser bursts into the air can trigger the
formation of water droplets. The breakthrough technique could help
stimulate rainfall in the future.
Scientist Jerome Kasparian
and his team from the University of Geneva wanted to find a more
environmentally friendly alternative to cloud seeding. This 50-year-old
process attempts to artificially induce showers.
A red laser pulse ionises the air and triggers
the condensation of water droplets to create a cloud, which is
illuminated by a green laser
Rockets carrying silver iodide particles are scattered in the sky.
The particles act as 'condensation nuclei' around which water drops can
Dr Kasparian said cloud seeding is not an efficient method
despite decades of development.
He added: 'There are also
worries about how safe adding silver iodide particles into the air is
for the environment.'
The researchers realised laser
technology could be used to create an alternative technique.
found firing an energy beam through an atmospheric cloud chamber
created a channel of ionised nitrogen and oxygen molecules. These acted
as condensation anchors in much the same way as silver iodide molecules.
The water drops along the damp channel nearly doubled in size from
50micrometres to 80 micrometres as they fused to the ions.
While rain on demand could be several years
away, Dr Kasparian said the technique could be adapted to help
weathermen predict when a downpour is due
Next, Dr Kasparian's team tested the same technique in real-world
conditions. They fired a high-powered 'Teramobile laser' into the skies
above Berlin over a number of nights.
They found condensation
droplets again formed along the path of the laser when humidity was
Laser physics expert Roland Sauerbrey, from the FZD
Dresden-Rossendorf Research Centre in Germany, was impressed with the
'This is the first time that a laser has been used to
cause condensation outdoors,' he told Nature.com.
next plan to investigate whether they can create condensation in a wider
area by sweeping their laser across the sky.
While rain on
demand could be several years away, Dr Kasparian said the technique
could be adapted to help weathermen predict when a downpour is on its
wave-energy device has become operational off the north coast of
Oyster is the world's largest operational
hydro-electric wave-energy converter. It harnesses the abundant natural
energy found in nearshore waves and converts it into zero-emission
The device consists of a mechanical hinged flap,
connected to the seabed ten metres beneath the surface. As it moves back
and forth with each passing wave, it extracts energy to drive huge
hydraulic pistons. These send pressurised seawater through a pipe to a
normal hydro-electric turbine onshore.
The system is designed to
be simple and robust, with few submerged moving parts. All the complex
electronic equipment is stationed onshore, making it easy to maintain
and reducing the potential for malfunctions.
Oyster is the only
wave-energy device in the UK designed to be deployed in shallow waters,
where the sea conditions are more consistent and the directional spread
of waves are narrower. It can also generate electricity in almost calm
sea conditions and continue operating in the worst of storms. A farm of
20 Oysters would provide enough energy to power 9,000 three-bedroom
Designed by Aquamarine Power - a world leader in
wave-energy conversion, Oyster won 2009's British Renewable Energy
Innovator Award. "It's a fantastic day for the wave-energy industry and
for Aquamarine Power," announced Chief Executive Martin McAdam at
Oyster's official launch. "We've proved what we always believed - that
wave-energy can produce sustainable electricity to power our homes. The
UK has one of the best wave resources in the world. Now it also has the
Contact: Aquamarine Power,
10 Saint Andrew
Edinburgh, EH2 2AF
Tel: +44 (0)131 718 6011
Berkeley woman has written the book on toxic, throwaway culture
(see her video, 'The Story of Stuff" on our Library/home page)
April 03, 2010|By Patricia Yollin, Special to The Chronicle
Annie Leonard likes to hang around dumps. She is a connoisseur of trash. Some of it even ends up in her house.
"One of the great things about living in such a wasteful society is that people are always getting rid of stuff," said Leonard, gazing with pride at the secondhand furniture in her Berkeley bungalow.
Stuff has been her preoccupation for more than two decades. This obsession resulted in a 2007 video, the Web site storyofstuff.org and now a book, titled "The Story of Stuff." They all make the same point in different ways: We have too much stuff, a lot of it is toxic, and we're not very good at sharing what we own.
The book, which came out last month, was inspired by the video, an Internet phenomenon that has been viewed at least 10 million times, mostly online but also in churches and classrooms around the country.
"The No. 1 complaint about the video is that we left out things," Leonard recently told more than 120 people at a reading at Books Inc. in Berkeley. "Well, duh. It's a 20-minute cartoon."
The book, published by Free Press (352 pages, $26), does not leave out much. It is based on Leonard's work in 40 countries, including three years in India and Bangladesh, doing research and community organizing for Greenpeace, Essential Action and other environmental organizations. She visited dumps, mines, factories, farms and sweatshops. She learned about the lifecycle of everything from cell phones to toothbrushes. And she concluded that we need to change how we extract, produce, distribute, consume and dispose of stuff.
Now Leonard is everywhere: colleges, bookstores, newspapers, radio and TV, including "The Colbert Report" and CNN. "Good Morning America," in mid-April, is next.
"I'm totally flabbergasted," said Leonard, 45, enjoying a rare day at home in the middle of a book tour that has taken her from Boston and Toronto to Portland and Los Angeles.
She was raised in Seattle by a single mother, a school nurse with three children and a strong sense of frugality. Leonard, who always wanted to be an activist, was interested in public lands management as a teenager - on her college application she said she hoped to be secretary of the interior. Her focus changed one day in Manhattan in 1982, when she was walking up Broadway from her dormitory on 110th Street to classes at Barnard College.
"There were shoulder-high piles of garbage," she recalled. "I was just in New York for the book launch and it's still there. When we left the CNN interview, there were light fixtures, a bookcase, a printer, all in one block. This stuff could be reused. It drives me nuts."
Leonard's walk up Broadway was followed by a trip to Fresh Kills, the landfill on Staten Island where New York's garbage ended up. "It stunned me," she said. "As far as you could see in every direction, it was just waste."
Her fascination with garbage has not gone away. And neither has the problem. On a recent visit to the Davis Street Transfer Station in San Leandro, she spotted a picnic table, benches and planters.
"There was everything you'd need to decorate a patio," she said.
What is 'stuff'?
When she refers to stuff, she means manufactured or mass-produced goods. So what kind of stuff does Leonard have?
She said old furniture is her weakness. The living room of her 1920s-era house is full of Arts and Crafts-style pieces she found in the street or on Craigslist. A tapestry in the hallway is one of many objects from Burma that keep alive the heritage of Leonard's 10-year-daughter, Dewi, whose father is a Burmese political refugee in London. A stereoscopic viewfinder, salvaged by Dewi, sat on a table.
Outside, a metal sculpture of birds and the sun hung on a wall; it was made out of a 55-gallon barrel from Haiti. Her backyard adjoins those of neighbors up and down the block. Some, including her, lived together in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s. They share two ladders, a barbecue, a swing set and a car.
"We don't all need a bundt pan and a wheelbarrow and a stud finder," she said.
Leonard has solar panels and a worm compost, and uses filtered water from her washing machine in her garden. "That's not political action," she said. "That's responsible household management."
She loves shoes and used to buy a pair every time she was in New York. Lately, she has resisted. She recently purchased her first iPod, however, despite qualms about the "consumer-oriented culture" to which Apple has contributed.
"It is impossible to live a completely environmentally correct life," said Leonard, who believes there is too much emphasis on individual responsibility and not enough on systemic change. "Anytime the onus is on us shows a flaw in the system."
Conservative commentator Glenn Beck attacked Leonard last year, and other critics call her an anti-capitalist America basher. She said she's pro-stuff and urges people to value what they have.
Although she can talk all day about endocrine disruptors, brominated flame retardants and other toxic substances that get added to the environment when people dump their stuff, she learned that wasn't the way to reach an audience. When attending Berkeley's Rockwood Leadership Institute, she told classmates she wanted to bring about a paradigm shift in people's relationship to materials. They told her they had no idea what she was talking about.
Change of approach
Since then, Leonard has changed her approach. She has gotten rid of the jargon and subdued her wonkiness. In most ways, however, she's still the same, said one longtime mentor.
"That enthusiastic, fast-talking, brilliant and energetic person has been there since she was young," said Professor Ken Geiser, co-director of the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts, who has known Leonard 25 years. "And she still moves right to the core of a problem and understands it."
She directs the Story of Stuff Project in downtown Berkeley, but lectures at colleges and conferences all over the United States. The downside is being away from her daughter, who is often cared for by Leonard's mother. Years ago, all three would sometimes travel together.
It was a "truly unique intergenerational holiday," Leonard wrote in the book. "Grandmother, mother and toddler heading off to the PVC factory."
Stuff about stuff
-- About 400 million electronic products are thrown out in the United States every year.
-- Thirty-six gallons of water are used to grow, produce, package and ship the beans for a cup of coffee.
-- More than 100 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered to U.S. households annually.
-- The United States constitutes 5 percent of the world's population but uses 30 percent of its resources.
-- The average American produced 4.6 pounds of municipal solid waste each day in 2007.
From Tolkien's ring of power in The Lord of the Rings to Star Trek's
Romulans, who could make their warships disappear from view, from Harry
Potter's magical cloak to the garment that makes players vanish in the
video game classic "Dungeons and Dragons, the power to turn someone or
something invisible fascinates mankind. But who ever thought that a
scientist at Michigan Technological University would be serious about
building a working invisibility cloak?
That's exactly what Elena Semouchkina, an associate professor of
electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Tech, is doing. She has
found ways to use magnetic resonance to capture rays of visible light
and route them around objects, rendering those objects invisible to the
Semouchkina and colleagues at the Pennsylvania State University,
where she is also an adjunct professor, recently reported on their
research in the journal Applied Physics Letters, published by the
American Institute of Physics. Her co-authors were Douglas Werner and
Carlo Pantano of Penn State and George Semouchkin, who works at Michigan
Tech and Penn State.
They describe developing a nonmetallic cloak that uses identical
glass resonators made of chalcogenide glass, a type of dielectric
material (one that does not conduct electricity). In computer
simulations, the cloak made objects hit by infrared waves—approximately
one micron or one-millionth of a meter long—disappear from view.
Earlier attempts by other researchers used metal rings and wires.
"Ours is the first to do the cloaking of cylindrical objects with
glass," Semouchkina said.
Her invisibility cloak uses metamaterials, which are artificial
materials having properties that do not exist in nature, made of tiny
glass resonators arranged in a concentric pattern in the shape of a
cylinder. The "spokes" of the concentric configuration produce the
magnetic resonance required to bend light waves around an object, making
Metamaterials, which huse small resonators instead of atoms or
molecules of natural materials, straddle the boundary between materials
science and electrical engineering. They were named one of the top three
physics discoveries of the decade by the American Physical Society. A
new researcher specializing in metamaterials is joining Michigan Tech's
faculty this fall.
Semouchkina and her team now are testing an invisibility cloak
rescaled to work at mocrowave frequencies and made of ceramic
resonators. They're using Michigan Tech's anechoic chamber, a cave-like
compartment in an Electrical Energy Resources Center lab, lined with
highly absorbent charcoal-gray foam cones. There, antennas transmit and
receive microwaves, which are much longer than infrared light, up to
several centimeters long. They have cloaked metal cylinders two to three
inches in diameter and three to four inches high.
"Starting from these experiments, we want to move to higher
frequencies and smaller wavelengths," the researcher said. "The most
exciting applications will be at the frequencies of visible light."
So one day, could the police cloak a swat team or the Army, a tank?
"It is possible in principle, but not at this time," Semouchkina said.
ST. LOUIS (CN) - A federal jury awarded a
rice farmer $500,000 for his claim that genetically modified rice
contaminated his crop. It was the third of five "bellwether" trials
involving hundreds of lawsuits that farmers have filed against Bayer
CropScience. The complaints are the result of an August 2006
announcement that LibertyLink, a herbicide-resistant rice, had somehow
been released from testing facilities. The rice had not yet been
approved for sale for human consumption, causing rice futures to plunge.
The rice has been approved, but is not being commercially
Denny Deshotels claimed that he and his family lost
more than $1 million when the market dropped, and he incurred more costs
by switching crops and cleaning his equipment of the LibertyLink rice.
He sought $1.5 million in damages.
Bayer lawyers admitted that
Deshotels lost some money, but denied he lost as much as he claimed.
Bayer's attorneys argued that even though the rice market initially
plunged, it quickly recovered and farmers who held their rice until the
market recovered suffered few losses.
The five bellwether
federal trials were initially set up to allow one case apiece in
Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
outcomes were to give plaintiffs and defendants an idea about similar
pending cases, giving them opportunities to work out settlements. Two of
the cases have been consolidated.
Deshotels' attorney, Don
Downing, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that jurors in two state
trials in Arkansas also have ruled in favor of the farmers.
One of the very saddest ongoing stories of this Age
More Small Family Farmers
Schmeiser is a farmer from Saskatchewan Canada, whose
fields were contaminated with Monsanto's genetically
Round-Up Ready Canola by pollen from a nearby farm.
it doesn't matter how the contamination took place, and is
demanding Schmeiser pay their Technology Fee (the fee
pay to grow Monsanto's genetically engineered products).
to Schmeiser, "I
never had anything to do with Monsanto, outside of buying
I never signed a contract.
I would go to St. Louis (Monsanto Headquarters) and
plots - destroy what they have worked on for 40 years - I
would be put in jail and the key thrown away."
Support Schmeiser, Nelson and hundreds of other farmers who
being forced to pay Monsanto to have their fields
genetically modified organisms.
Monsanto Brings Small
Family Dairy to
Oakhurst Dairy has been owned and operated by the same Maine
since 1921, and Monsanto recently attempted to put them out of
Oakhurst, like many other dairy producers in the U.S., has
to consumer demand to provide milk free of rBGH, a synthetic
banned (for health reasons) in every industrialized country
Monsanto, the number one producer of the rBGH synthetic
sued Oakhurst, claiming they should not have the right to
customers that their dairy products do not contain the
Given the intense pressure from the transnational corporation,
was forced to settle out of court, leaving many other dairies
to similar attacks from Monsanto.
Conflict of Interest: Ex Monsanto Lawyer Clarence Thomas to Hear
Major Monsanto Case
In Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475, the U.S. Supreme
Court will hear arguments in a case which could have an enormous effect
on the future of the American food industry. This is Monsanto's third
appeal of the case, and if they win a favorable ruling from the high
court, a deregulated Monsanto may find itself in position to corner the
markets of numerous U.S. crops, and to litigate conventional farmers
Here's where it gets a bit dicier. Two Supreme Court justices have what
appear to be direct conflicts of interest.
Charles Breyer, the judge who ruled in the original decision of 2007
which is being appealed, is Stephen Breyer's brother, who apparently
views this as a conflict of interest and has recused himself.
From the years 1976 - 1979, Thomas worked as an attorney for Monsanto.
Thomas apparently does not see this as a conflict of interest and has
not recused himself.
Fox, meet henhouse.
What’s wrong with Genetic Engineering?
Genetic engineering is a radical technology that breaks down genetic barriers between humans, plants and animals.
Once released, these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can easily spread and interbreed with other organisms, and they are virtually impossible to recall back to the laboratory.
Monsanto provides roughly 90% of GMO seeds in the world. These seeds have been genetically modified to produce their own pesticide or survive repeated spraying of their toxic herbicide Roundup. Monsanto’s GMOs are not designed to increase yields to feed the world, but rather to increase Monsanto’s profits by increasing the use of chemicals such as Roundup and selling their highpriced patented seeds which farmers must buy every year.
Due to the enormous political clout of Monsanto, the American public is being denied the right to know whether their foods are genetically engineered or not. Following is a list of 10 facts about Monsanto and GMOs, and how they can adversely affect your health, local farmers, and the planet.
10 Things Monsanto Does Not Want You to Know
1 No GMO Labeling Laws in the US
Foods containing GMOs don’t have to be labeled in the US. Monsanto has fought hard to prevent labeling laws. This is alarming, since approximately 70% of processed foods in the US now contain GMO ingredients. The European Union, Japan, China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and many other nations now require mandatory GMO labeling.
2 Lack of Adequate Safety Testing
In May 1992, Vice President Dan Quayle announced the FDA’s anti consumer right-to-know policy which stated that GMO foods need not be labeled nor safety-tested. Meanwhile, prominent scientists such as Arpad Pusztai and Gilles-Eric Seralini have publicized alarming research revealing severe damage to animals fed GMO foods.
3 Monsanto Puts Small Farmers out of Business
Percy Schmeiser is a Canadian farmer whose canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready Canola by pollen from a nearby GMO farm. Monsanto successfully argued in a lawsuit that Schmeiser violated their patent rights, and forced Schmeiser to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. This type of biotech bullying
is happening all over North America.
4 Monsanto Products Pollute the Developing World
Monsanto’s deadly legacy includes the production of Agent Orange and DDT. Now massive aerial spraying of Roundup in Columbia is being used by the US and the Colombian government as a counter-insurgency tactic, contaminating food crops and poisoning villagers.
5 Monsanto Blocking Government Regulations
A revolving door exists between Monsanto and US regulatory and judicial bodies making key decisions. Justice Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto lawyer, was the one who wrote the majority opinion on a key Monsanto case. Michael Taylor once worked for the FDA, later represented Monsanto as a lawyer, then returned as the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Policy when rBGH was granted approval.
6 Monsanto Guilty of False Advertising
France’s highest court ruled in 2009 that Monsanto had lied about the safety of its weed killer Roundup. The court confirmed an earlier judgment that Monsanto had falsely advertised its herbicide as “biodegradable”.
7 Consumers Reject Bovine Growth Hormone
In the wake of mass consumer pressure, major retailers such as Safeway, Publix, Wal-Mart, and Kroger banned store brand milk products containing Monsanto’s controversial genetically engineered hormone rBGH. Starbucks, under pressure from the OCA and our allies, has likewise banned rBGH milk.
8 GMO Crops Do Not Increase Yields
A major UN/World Bank-sponsored report compiled by 400 scientists and endorsed by 58 countries concluded that GM crops have little to offer to the challenges of poverty, hunger, and climate change. Better alternatives are available, and the report championed organic farming as the sustainable way forward for developing countries.
9 Monsanto Controls US Soy Market
In 1996, when Monsanto began selling Roundup Ready soybeans, only 2% of soybeans in the US contained their patented gene. By 2008, over 90% of soybeans in the US contained Monsanto’s gene.
10 GMO Foods May Lead to Food Allergies
In March 1999, UK researchers at the York Laboratory were alarmed to discover that reactions to soy had skyrocketed by
50% over the previous year. Genetically modified soy had recently entered the UK from US imports and the soy used in the study was largely GM.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
* Read the latest news, join in on Action Alerts, and sign up for OCA’s free newsletter at www.OrganicConsumers.org
* Buy organic foods at your local health food store, co-op or farmers’ market.
* Avoid processed foods, especially those containing corn, soy, cottonseed oil and canola unless they are organically certified.
* Call or send a letter to your public officials. Tell them to support labeling and safety testing of GMOs and subsidies to help
family farmers make the transition to organic.
* Tell the following companies to stop using and selling GMO Ingredients: Kellogg’s/Kashi • Coca-Cola Kraft/Nabisco •
McDonald’s • Frito-Lay General Mills • Quaker Oats • Procter & Gamble Nestle • Safeway • Campbell Soup • Wal-Mart
Organic Consumers Association
Weed resistance could mean herbicide is futile
THE world's most popular herbicide is
losing its knockout punch. More and more weeds are evolving resistance
to glyphosate - originally marketed by Monsanto as
Roundup - but the problem could have been forestalled by farming
practices enriched by a better understanding of evolution.
This is a serious problem. "Glyphosate
is as important to world food production as penicillin is to human
health," says Stephen Powles, a plant scientist at the
University of Western Australia in Perth.
In 1996, Monsanto began selling crop
varieties genetically modified to contain a gene for glyphosate
resistance. This enabled farmers to spray glyphosate
- lethal to plants yet non-toxic to animals - on their fields to
kill weeds without damaging the crops, even during the growing season.
The solution, as any evolutionary
biologist will tell you, is for farmers to vary weed-control practices
so that weeds face a number of evolutionary pressures instead of just
one. Monsanto recommends precisely this in its instructions to farmers. But farmers have been
reluctant to reduce their use of an effective herbicide for an
intangible future benefit, especially when few have experienced
For entire article please double-click the following address:
“A new earthquake” is what peasant farmer leader
Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called
the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of
hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly
toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto’s seeds, and
has called for a march to protest the corporation’s presence in Haiti
on June 4, for World Environment Day.
In an open letter sent of May 14, Chavannes
Jean-Baptiste, the Executive Director of MPP and the spokesperson for
the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called
the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti “a very strong attack on small
agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds…, and on what
is left our environment in Haiti.” Haitian social movements have been
vocal in their opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food,
which undermines local production with local seed stocks. They have
expressed special concern about the import of genetically modified
For now, without a law regulating the use of GMOs in Haiti, the
Ministry of Agriculture rejected Monsanto’s offer of Roundup Ready GMO
seeds. In an email exchange, a Monsanto representative assured the
Ministry of Agriculture that the seeds being donated are not GMO.
Elizabeth Vancil, Monsanto’s Director of Development Initiatives,
called the news that the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture approved the
donation “a fabulous Easter gift” in an April email. Monsanto is
known for aggressively pushing seeds, especially GMO seeds, in both the
global North and South, including through highly restrictive technology
agreements with farmers who are not always made fully aware of what they
are signing. According to interviews by this writer with
representatives of Mexican small farmer organizations, they then find
themselves forced to buy Monsanto seeds each year, under conditions they
find onerous and at costs they sometimes cannot afford.
The hybrid corn seeds Monsanto has donated to Haiti are treated with
the fungicide Maxim XO, and the calypso tomato seeds are treated with
thiram. Thiram belongs to a highly toxic class of chemicals called
ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs). Results of tests of EBDCs on mice
and rats caused concern to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), which then ordered a special review. The EPA determined that
EBDC-treated plants are so dangerous to agricultural workers that they
must wear special protective clothing when handling them. Pesticides
containing thiram must contain a special warning label, the EPA ruled.
The EPA also barred marketing of the chemicals for many home garden
products, because it assumes that most gardeners do not have adequately
protective clothing. Monsanto’s passing mention of thiram to
Ministry of Agriculture officials in an email contained no explanation
of the dangers, nor any offer of special clothing or training for those
who will be farming with the toxic seeds.
Haitian social movements’ concern is not just about the dangers of
the chemicals and the possibility of future GMO imports. They claim that
the future of Haiti depends on local production with local food for
local consumption, in what is called food sovereignty. Monsanto’s
arrival in Haiti, they say, is a further threat to this.
“People in the U.S. need to help us produce, not give us food and
seeds. They’re ruining our chance to support ourselves,” said farmer
Jonas Deronzil of a peasant cooperative in the rural region of
Monsanto’s history has long drawn ire from environmentalists, health
advocates, and small farmers, going back to its production of Agent
Orange during the Vietnam war. Exposure to Agent Orange has caused
cancer in an untold number of U.S. Veterans, and the Vietnamese
government claims that 400,000 Vietnamese people were killed or disabled
by Agent Orange, and 500,000 children were born with birth defects as a
result of their exposure.
Monsanto’s former motto, “Without chemicals, life itself would be
impossible,” has been replaced by “Imagine.” Its web site home page
claims it “help[s] farmers around the world produce more while
conserving more. We help farmers grow yield sustainably so they can be
successful, produce healthier foods… while also reducing agriculture's
impact on our environment.” The corporations’ record does not support
Together with Syngenta, Dupont and Bayer, Monsanto controls more than
half of the world’s seeds. The company holds almost 650 seed
patents, most of them for cotton, corn and soy, and almost 30% of the
share of all biotech research and development. Monsanto came to own such
a vast supply by buying major seed companies to stifle competition,
patenting genetic modifications to plant varieties, and suing small
farmers. Monsanto is also one of the leading manufacturers of GMOs.
As of 2007, Monsanto had filed 112 lawsuits against U.S. farmers for
alleged technology contract violations or GMO patents, involving 372
farmers and 49 small agricultural businesses in 27 different states.
From these, Monsanto has won more than $21.5 million in judgments. The
multinational appears to investigate 500 farmers a year, in estimates
based on Monsanto’s own documents and media reports.
“Farmers have been sued after their field was contaminated by pollen
or seed from someone else’s genetically engineered crop [or] when
genetically engineered seed from a previous year’s crop has sprouted, or
‘volunteered,’ in fields planted with non-genetically engineered
varieties the following year,” said Andrew Kimbrell and Joseph Mendelson
of the Center for Food Safety.
In Colombia, Monsanto has received upwards of $25 million from the
U.S. government for providing Roundup Ultra in the anti-drug fumigation
efforts of Plan Colombia. Roundup Ultra is a highly concentrated version
of Monsanto's glyphosate herbicide, with additional ingredients to
increase its lethality. Colombian communities and human rights
organizations have charged that the herbicide has destroyed food crops,
water sources and protected areas, and has led to increased incidents of
birth defects and cancers.
Vía Campesina, the world’s largest confederation of farmers with
member organizations in more than sixty countries, has called Monsanto
one of the “principal enemies of peasant sustainable agriculture and
food sovereignty for all peoples.” They claim that as Monsanto and
other multinationals control an ever larger share of land and
agriculture, they force small farmers out of their land and jobs. They
also claim that the agribusiness giants contribute to climate change and
other environmental disasters, an outgrowth of industrial
The Vía Campesina coalition launched a global campaign against
Monsanto last October 16, on International World Food Day, with
protests, land occupations, and hunger strikes in more than twenty
countries. They carried out a second global day of action against
Monsanto on April 17 of this year, in honor of Earth Day.
Non-governmental organizations in the U.S. are challenging Monsanto’s
practices, too. The Organic Consumers Association has spearheaded the
campaign “Millions Against Monsanto,” calling on the company to stop
intimidating small family farmers, stop marketing untested and unlabeled
genetically engineered foods to consumers, and stop using billions of
dollars of U.S. taypayers' money to subsidize GMO crops.
The Center for Food Safety has led a four-year legal challenge to
Monsanto that has just made it to the U.S. Supreme Court. After
successful litigation against Monsanto and the U.S. Department of
Agriculture for illegal promotion of Roundup Ready Alfalfa, the court
heard the Center for Food Safety’s case on April 27. A decision on this
first-ever Supreme Court case about GMOs is now pending.
“Fighting hybrid and GMO seeds is critical to save our diversity and
our agriculture,” Jean-Baptiste said in an interview in February. “We
have the potential to make our lands produce enough to feed the whole
population and even to export certain products. The policy we need for
this to happen is food sovereignty, where the county has a right to
define it own agricultural policies, to grow first for the family and
then for local market, to grow healthy food in a way which respects the
environment and Mother Earth.”
Many thanks to Moira Birss for her assistance with research and
Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30
years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's
Stories of Survival and Resistance. She coordinates Other Worlds, www.otherworldsarepossible.org,
which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate
fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.
1 Group email from Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, May 14, 2010.
2 Email from Elizabeth Vancil to Emmanuel Prophete, Director of
Seeds at the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture, and others; released by
the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture, date unavailable.
4 Extension Toxicology Network, Pesticide Information Project of
the Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University, Michigan State
University, Oregon State University, and University of California at
5 Jonas Deronzil’s comments are from an interview in April. He was
not specifically discussing Monsanto.
6 MSNBC, January 23, 2004. “Study Finds Link Between Agent Orange,
Cancer.” The Globe and Mail, June 12, 2008. “Last Ghost of the Vietnam
8 La Vía Campesina, “La Vía Campesina carries out Global Day of
Action against Monsanto”, Oct. 16, 2009, http://viacampesina.org/...
9 Center for Food Safety, “Monsanto vs. US Farmers,” Nov. 2007.
10 Andrew Kimbrell and Joseph Mendelson, Center for Food Safety,
“Monsanto vs. US Farmers,” 2005.
11 La Vía Campesina, October 16, 2009, Op. Cit.
12 La Vía Campesina, “La Vía Campesina Call to Action 17 April 2010
- Join the International Day of Peasant Struggle,” Feb. 23, 2010, http://www.mstbrazil.org/...
13 Organic Consumers Association, “Taxpayers Forced to Fund
Monsanto's Poisoning of Third World,” Finland, Minnesota, http://www.organicconsumers.org/
14 Center for Food Security, “Update: CFS Fighting Monsanto in the
Supreme Court,” May 11, 2010, http://truefoodnow.org/...
The Wall Street Journal reported
last week that "Executives and other highly compensated employees now
receive more than one-third of all pay in the US... Highly paid
employees received nearly $2.1 trillion of the $6.4 trillion in total US
pay in 2007, the latest figures available."
One of the questions often asked when
the subject of CEO pay comes up is, "What could a person such as William
McGuire or Lee Raymond (the former CEOs of UnitedHealth and ExxonMobil,
respectively) possibly do to justify a $1.7 billion paycheck or a $400
million retirement bonus?"
It's an interesting question. If there
is a "free market" of labor for CEOs, then you'd think there would be a
lot of competition for the jobs. And a lot of people competing for the
positions would drive down the pay. All UnitedHealth's stockholders
would have to do to avoid paying more than $1 billion to McGuire is find
somebody to do the same CEO job for half a billion. And all they'd have
to do to save even more is find somebody to do the job for a mere $100
million. Or maybe even somebody who'd work the necessary sixty-hour
weeks for only $1 million.
So why is executive pay so high?
I've examined this with both my
psychotherapist hat on and my amateur economist hat on, and only one
rational answer presents itself: CEOs in America make as much money as
they do because there really is a shortage of people with their skill
set. And it's such a serious shortage that some companies have to pay as
much as $1 million a day to have somebody successfully do the job.
But what part of being a CEO could be
so difficult-so impossible for mere mortals-that it would mean that
there are only a few hundred individuals in the United States capable of
In my humble opinion, it's the
CEOs of community-based businesses are
typically responsive to their communities and decent people. But the
CEOs of most of the world's largest corporations daily make decisions
that destroy the lives of many other human beings.
Only about 1 to 3 percent of us are
sociopaths-people who don't have normal human feelings and can easily go
to sleep at night after having done horrific things. And of that 1
percent of sociopaths, there's probably only a fraction of a percent
with a college education. And of that tiny fraction, there's an even
tinier fraction that understands how business works, particularly within
any specific industry.
Thus there is such a shortage of people
who can run modern monopolistic, destructive corporations that
stockholders have to pay millions to get them to work. And being
sociopaths, they gladly take the money without any thought to its social
Today's modern transnational corporate
CEOs-who live in a private-jet-and-limousine world entirely apart from
the rest of us-are remnants from the times of kings, queens, and lords.
They reflect the dysfunctional cultural (and Calvinist/Darwinian) belief
that wealth is proof of goodness, and that that goodness then justifies
taking more of the wealth.
Democracy in the workplace is known as a
union. The most democratic workplaces are the least exploitative,
because labor has a power to balance capital and management. And looking
around the world, we can clearly see that those cultures that most
embrace the largest number of their people in an egalitarian and
democratic way (in and out of the workplace) are the ones that have the
highest quality of life. Those that are the most despotic, from the
workplace to the government, are those with the poorest quality of life.
Over time, balance and democratic
oversight will always produce the best results. An "unregulated"
marketplace is like an "unregulated" football game - chaos. And chaos is
a state perfectly exploited by sociopaths, be they serial killers,
warlords, or CEOs.
By changing the rules of the game of
business so that sociopathic business behavior is no longer rewarded
(and, indeed, is punished - as Teddy Roosevelt famously did as the
"trustbuster" and FDR did when he threatened to send "war profiteers" to
jail), we can create a less dysfunctional and more egalitarian society.
And that's an important first step back from the thresholds to
environmental and economic disaster we'renow facing.
This article is largely excerpted
from Thom Hartmann's new book "Threshold: The Crisis of Western
Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times
best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily
progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3
PM ET. more...)
May 16, 2010 (THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS I APPEAR SO DUMB)
Kids who fib get to the top of the pile
who take early lessons from Pinocchio may have fast-developing brains.
Researchers say there is no link between lying as a child and a
tendancy to cheat in later life.
LITTLE fibbers could grow up to be big players. Children who learn to lie at
an early age have better developed brains, marking them out as potential
executives and leaders, say researchers.
They say that learning to tell a fib marks a milestone in a cognitive
development. One fifth of children manage it by the age of two.
Lying involves multiple brain processes, such as integrating sources of
information and manipulating the data to their advantage. It is linked to
the development of brain regions that allow “executive functioning” and use
higher order thinking and reasoning.
“Parents should not be alarmed if their child tells a fib,” said Kang Lee,
director of the Institute of Child Study at Toronto University.
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“Almost all children lie. Those who have better cognitive development lie
better because they can cover up their tracks. They may make bankers in
His team tested 1,200 children aged 2-16. The most deceitful age, they
discovered, was 12, when almost every child tells lies.
And so as usual, those at the top of the pile
drag us down to the the lower depths their minds so often inhabit.
Amazing that BP has literally lied at every step of the process - every
step! Truly Amazing. Does it also remind you of the scariest humans
you ever met who cannot stop lying. Wow. A wonderful example of
modern mega-corporate arrogance and method. Have they no shame? Looks
like the sea is so very blue in the picture as well. The only thing they left out was
the rainbow. Where is the rainbow? Talk about incompetent. Is it
safe to say that most oil-men are republicans? Sorry about the political statements,
but enough is enough already. I think I have a new campaign slogan
"Vote Republican, because God loves money."
At least we have our minds.....
Boys at risk from
bone tumours, shocking research reveals.
Fluoride in tap water can cause bone cancer in boys, a disturbing
new study indicates, although there is no evidence of a link for girls.
American research suggests that boys exposed to fluoride between the
ages of five and 10 will suffer an increased rate of osteosarcoma - bone
cancer - bet-ween the ages of 10 and 19.
In the UK, fluoride is
added to tap water on the advice of bodies such as the British Dental
Association. The Department of Health maintains that it is a
cost-effective public health measure that helps prevent tooth decay in
About 10 per cent of the population, six million
people, receive fluoridated water, mainly in the Midlands and
north-east, and the government plans to extend this, with Manchester
expected to be next. About 170 million Americans live in areas with
The increased cancer risks, identified in a
newly available study conducted at the Harvard School of Dental Health,
were found at fluoride exposure levels common in both the US and
Britain. It was the first examination of the link between exposure to
the chemical at the critical period of a child's development and the age
of onset of bone cancer.
Although osteosarcoma is rare,
accounting for only about 3 per cent of childhood cancers, it is
especially dangerous. The mortality rate in the first five years is
about 50 per cent, and nearly all survivors have limbs amputated,
The research has been made available by the
Environmental Working Group (EWG), a respected Washington-based research
organisation. The group reports that it has assembled a 'strong body of
peer-reviewed evidence' and has asked that fluoride in tap water be
added to the US government's classified list of substances known or
anticipated to cause cancer in humans.
'This is a very specific
cancer in a defined population of children,' said Richard Wiles, the
group's co-founder. 'When you focus in and look for the incidence of
tumours, you see the increase.
'We recognise the potential
benefits of fluoride to dental health,' added Wiles, 'but I've spent 20
years in public health, trying to protect kids from toxic exposure. Even
with DDT, you don't have the consistently strong data that the
compound can cause cancer as you now have with fluoride.'
of all fluoride ingested is stored in the body, accumulating in
calcifying tissue such as teeth and bones and in the pineal gland in the
brain, although more than 90 per cent is taken into the bones.
who have recently voted against fluoridation proposals in Parliament
include Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Michael Howard, the
Anti-fluoride campaigners argue that the
whole issue has become highly politically sensitive. If health scares
about fluoride were to be recognised in the courts, the litigation,
especially in the US, could be expected to run for decades.
Consequently, scientists have been inhibited from publicising any
The new evidence only emerged by a circuitous
process. It was contained in a Harvard dissertation by Dr Elise Bassin
at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. The dissertation, completed in
April 2001, obviously had merit because Bassin was awarded her
However it has not been published. Environmental
organisations were repeatedly denied access to it, and even bodies such
as the US National Academy of Sciences could not get hold of a copy.
Eventually two researchers from the Fluoride Action Network were allowed
to read it in the rare books and special collections room at Harvard
Bassin told The Observer her work was still
going through the peer-review process, and she hopes that it will then
Dr Vyvyan Howard, senior lecturer in
toxico-pathology at the University of Liverpool, has studied the new
'At these ages the bones of boys are developing
rapidly,' he said, 'so if the bones are being put together abnormally
because fluoride is altering the bone structure, they're more likely to
get cancer. It's biologically plausible, and the epidemiological
evidence seems pretty strong - it looks as if there's a definite
There is at present no understanding as to why males
should be affected rather than females.
A Department of Health
spokesman said that the latest evaluation of research in the UK had
identified no ill effects of fluoride.
by Bryan Denson, The Oregonian
Monday October 20, 2008, 8:28 PM
A fur industry group is
offering a reward of up to $100,000 for
information leading to the conviction of those responsible
mink this year from six ranches in Oregon, Utah and British
The latest mink release came
Friday, when someone broke into the
Ylipelto’s Fur Farm in Astoria, opening 1,500 mink pens.
animals remained missing during the weekend.
Thirty-five mink were found
dead. Some were run over by cars, but
most — about 20 — were killed by large dogs, according to
executive director of Fur Commission USA.
Blind boy learns how to 'see' using dolphin technique
A blind boy has learnt how to "see" again after being taught a technique
by dolphins to detect where objects are.
Published: 6:55AM BST 30 Apr 2010
Debs Aspland with her son JamiePhoto: Philip Toscano
Jamie Aspland uses an 'echo location' technique, uttering high-pitch
with the sound then rebounding off surfaces to help guide him round
The four-year-old, who was born without his sight, was taught the
part of a revolutionary new scheme in the US to help the blind.
His mother Deborah, 39, hailed the treatment after her son was able to
unaided to the park for the first time and steered himself around a
was heading straight for.
Speaking after just three sessions of the therapy, she said: "It's
lives. The therapy has been a revelation.
"Since learning the skill we can walk to the park and Jamie no longer
hold my hand. He even clicks to find out where the handrails are on
staircase before walking down unaided - it's amazing."
Jamie, from Ashford in Kent, has just completed his third session with
US-based guru Daniel Kish - who lost his sight when he was just 13
As president of World Access for the Blind, Mr Kish has developed a
based on animal sonar to help humans form mental maps of their
He copied the technique dolphins use to navigate their way through the
depths - using high pitch clicks to penetrate objects and reflect off
Jamie is able to mirror that behaviour - which complements his use of a
by flicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth.
When the sound waves hit an object, it reflects the energy back to the
enable a blind person to decode its size, shape and distance.
The process is similar to what happens with vision in normal sighted
who rely on patterns of returning light in order to actually see.
The money for Jamie’s £2,500 treatment was raised by well-wishers in his
hometown who carried out a range of blindfolded activities to
what life for Jamie is like.
He is among just a handful of children in the world being offered the
treatment by globetrotting therapist Mr Kish, who is based in
He said: "Working with Jamie and his family was a terrific experience,
and he was very responsive."
Mr Kish explained that echo location, or FlashSonar as he terms it, will
eventually enable Jamie to detect buildings from a distance of 100
He said: "FlashSonar provides one with information of a fair amount of
detail at distances of dozens of metres, depending on the
"A tree may be detectable and recognized at 10 metres, while a large
building may be detectable at 100 metres or more.
"It is literally like 'seeing' with dim flashes of light. In fact,
scientists believe that the same parts of the brain used in visual
processing are also being deployed for FlashSonar."
Ms Aspland, a mother-of-three, gave up her job as a tour operator to
Jamie, his twin sister Rosie, who also has learning difficulties, and
autistic brother Kane full time.
She said she watched nervously after Jamie's first session when he
a fence - but he managed to walk round it.
"We thought he was going to go straight into it. But he just went round
it - I didn't think it would be possible. He was born blind but this
has given him a new lease of life."
OK, this qualifies as funny. But it is here on the news page for abstract yet obvious reasons.
Environmentalists fight to keep synthetic life in lab
Environmental campaigners are fighting to ban the release of synthetic
forms into the wild.
By Nick Collins
Published: 8:15AM BST 24 May 2010
Synthetic mycoides cellsPhoto: PA
Craig Venter, a multi-millionaire geneticist, last week announced that
made a living cell from artificial chromosomes, paving the way for the
creation of more complex synthetic organisms.
Now a Canadian environmental group aims to ensure the new life forms are
released into nature, where it is feared they could prove a threat to
survival of other species.
The Etc Group has already laid claim to a degree of success after
come up with a "de facto moratorium" on synthetic biology at the
UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Nairobi, Kenya.
The proposals, designed by the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical
Technological Advice, could prevent any experiments where the
creations are released into nature, the Etc Group said.
The group told The Independent: "The draft adopted by the meeting
amounts to a de facto moratorium on the release of synthetic life
The plans, which have not been formally approved by the Biological
will stay in "square brackets" until a meeting of environment
ministers in Japan later this year.
Jim Thomas, a member of the Etc Group, said: "Synthetic biology is a
high-risk, profit-driven field, building organisms out of parts that
still poorly understood.
"We know that lab-created life forms can escape and become biological
weapons, and that their use threatens existing natural biodiversity."
– 25 – 2010 – the Jordanian woman Amina Tariq,
member of an animal protection association, was arrested yesterday noon
by the police and transferred to the Zahran Security Center in Amman
during a peace event in the First Circle Street of Jabal Amman. She was
wearing Hijab and a long dress made of lettuce leaves, and raising a
sign with slogans like “Let vegetables grow on you” and “Let the love
for vegetables grow with your food”.
Amina Tariq, Jordanian Lettuce Lady.
This “Lettuce Lady” who was present on Rainbow Street caused a major
traffic jam in the area and escaped from the police after she ran away
to a nearby restaurant. The police followed the girl and arrested her on
the pretext of failure to obtain prior authorization for the event, of
not having a permission to demonstrate in public, and causing a severe
traffic jam. Hundreds of people gathered in the area of first circle
where the girl was detained.
According to Ammon News, the “Lettuce Lady” appeared on Rainbow
Street wearing a full-length dress made of lettuce leaves and carrying a
sign reading “Let Vegetarianism Grow on You”. Amina Tariq is a member
of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who appear in
Jabal Amman to encourage Jordanians to follow a vegetarian diet.
Jordanian Police arresting Amina Tariq, "Lettuce Lady"
A statement was issued by PETA Asia Pacific said: “PETA’s Lettuce
Ladies appear in various countries with the aim of drawing attention to
the suffering of billions of animals which are raised and killed for
consumption as food. The consumption of meat, eggs and dairy products is
the number one cause of climate change and a major contributor to
resource depletion, pollution and even world hunger”.
The Statement added: “Waste, antibiotics and pesticides from factory
farms and slaughterhouses contaminate water
sources. Farmed animals produce 13 billion metric tons of excrement each
year; that is 48 times as much as the excrement output of the world’s
human population. Much of the world’s water supply is quietly being
diverted to animal agriculture; even desert nations in Africa and the
Middle East are pouring what little water they have into meat
production. Each day, animal growth consumes a shocking 2.5 trillion
liters of water, enough for everyone in the world to take eight
showers”. “We are asking people to turn over a new leaf and go
vegetarian” says Jordan’s Lettuce Lady Amina Tareq. “With so many
delicious alternatives to meat available, it is easier than ever to
enjoy great food without killing animals and causing them any kind of
WASHINGTON — Pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and
proliferate, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that challenges
the common wisdom that all sugars are the same.
Tumor cells fed both glucose and fructose used the two sugars in two
different ways, the team at the University of California Los Angeles
They said their finding, published in the journal Cancer Research, may help explain other studies that have linked fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancer types.
"These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize
fructose to increase proliferation," Dr. Anthony Heaney of UCLA's
Jonsson Cancer Center and colleagues wrote.
"They have major significance for cancer patients given dietary
refined fructose consumption, and indicate that efforts to reduce
refined fructose intake or inhibit fructose-mediated actions may disrupt
Americans take in large amounts of fructose, mainly in high fructose
corn syrup, a mix of fructose and glucose that is used in soft drinks,
bread and a range of other foods.
Politicians, regulators, health experts and the industry have debated
whether high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients have been
helping make Americans fatter and less healthy.
Too much sugar of any kind not only adds pounds, but is also a key culprit in diabetes, heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
Several states, including New York and California, have weighed a tax
on sweetened soft drinks to defray the cost of treating obesity-related
diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
The American Beverage Association, whose members include Coca-Cola
and Kraft Foods have strongly, and successfully, opposed efforts to tax
The industry has also argued that sugar is sugar.
Heaney said his team found otherwise. They grew pancreatic cancer cells in lab dishes and fed them both glucose and fructose.
Tumor cells thrive on sugar but they used the fructose to
proliferate. "Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are quite
different," Heaney's team wrote.
"I think this paper has a lot of public health implications.
Hopefully, at the federal level there will be some effort to step back
on the amount of high fructose corn syrup in our diets," Heaney said in a
Now the team hopes to develop a drug that might stop tumor cells from making use of fructose.
U.S. consumption of high fructose corn syrup went up 1,000 percent
between 1970 and 1990, researchers reported in 2004 in the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Cancer cells slurp up fructose, US study finds
Mon Aug 2, 2010 5:20pm EDT
* Study shows fructose used differently from glucose
* Findings challenge common wisdom about sugars
WASHINGTON Aug 2 (Reuters) - Pancreatic tumor cells use
fructose to divide and proliferate, U.S. researchers said on
Monday in a study that challenges the common wisdom that all
sugars are the same.
Tumor cells fed both glucose and fructose used the two
sugars in two different ways, the team at the University of
California Los Angeles found.
They said their finding, published in the journal Cancer
Research, may help explain other studies that have linked
fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest
"These findings show that cancer cells can readily
metabolize fructose to increase proliferation," Dr. Anthony
Heaney of UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center and colleagues wrote.
"They have major significance for cancer patients
given dietary refined fructose consumption, and indicate that
efforts to reduce refined fructose intake or inhibit
fructose-mediated actions may disrupt cancer growth."
Americans take in large amounts of fructose, mainly in high
fructose corn syrup, a mix of fructose and glucose that is used
in soft drinks, bread and a range of other foods.
Politicians, regulators, health experts and the industry
have debated whether high fructose corn syrup and other
ingredients have been helping make Americans fatter and less
Too much sugar of any kind not only adds pounds, but is
also a key culprit in diabetes, heart disease and stroke,
according to the American Heart Association.
Several states, including New York and California, have
weighed a tax on sweetened soft drinks to defray the cost of
treating obesity-related diseases such as heart disease,
diabetes and cancer.
The American Beverage Association, whose members include
Coca-Cola (KO.N) and Kraft Foods (KFT.N) have strongly, and
successfully, opposed efforts to tax soda. [ID:nN12233126]
The industry has also argued that sugar is sugar.
Heaney said his team found otherwise. They grew pancreatic
cancer cells in lab dishes and fed them both glucose and
Tumor cells thrive on sugar but they used the fructose to
proliferate. "Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are
quite different," Heaney's team wrote.
"I think this paper has a lot of public health
implications. Hopefully, at the federal level there will be
some effort to step back on the amount of high fructose corn
syrup in our diets," Heaney said in a statement.
Now the team hopes to develop a drug that might stop tumor
cells from making use of fructose.
U.S. consumption of high fructose corn syrup went up 1,000
percent between 1970 and 1990, researchers reported in 2004 in
the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Heroes next door
remind of life’s
By James Pribram
Updated: Thursday, June 5, 2008 10:15 PM PDT
Last Thursday’s Laguna
Heroes fest was just that, a celebration of people and their lives.
Compelling enough in their own right to be called “heroes” and real
enough to be your neighbor. A story about a little boy, Joey Masella,
who, at the tender age of 12 and suffering from the rarest of diseases,
never gave up hope. Never lost his smile or his passion for life.
he lived each day to its fullest.
All the way to a hero’s end.
sweet lady you would be proud to call grandma who lost her husband, who
once again finds hope and freedom through the help of “laughter yoga.”
To laugh again, one of the greatest pleasures of life itself, but I know
you’re probably thinking, “Laughter yoga? How silly.”
too, was thinking “how silly.” Until it dawned on me, what is wrong
with silly? Nothing. And in that moment I let my guard down and began to
understand that life doesn’t always have to be so serious and status
quo. I mean, who am I to begin living a status quo type of life?
never even held a real job. Hopefully I never will.
rather walk barefoot than in a pair of fancy shoes. I prefer a pair of
trunks to a suit. Though on the rare occasion I will wear both (fancy
shoes and a suit) like I did on the night of the Laguna Heroes fest. But
I will never stop my celebration of life.
I can identify better
with an artist like Douglas Miller, who loves photography, painting,
writing, music and probably a multitude of creative interests, which has
become his way of celebrating and living life.
As opposed to the
so-called 9-to-5 life, both are great, but entirely different, and it
was refreshing to be reminded about what really counts in life. The
smile and the laughter. Walking with grace.
Let me ramble —
charm, kindness, passion and compassion, yes the quality of life. Not
JAMES PRIBRAM is a
Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental
Award winner. His websites include AlohaSchoolofSurfing and ECOWarrior Surf.com. He can be reached at Jamo@AlohaSchoolofSurfing.com
(APRIL 14) -- When
violinist Brianna Kahane heard that the music school run by one of her
favorite violinists, Romel Joseph, was destroyed by Haiti's
7.0-magnitude earthquake in January, she knew she wanted to help.
She has a history of
lending her talent to various causes, helping to raise more than $5
million by performing at charity events from Florida to Nevada in the
past year. One of her biggest philanthropic event involved playing for
pop star Jordin Sparks to raise money for Miami Children's Hospital.
Brianna, though, is a
second-grader who has been playing the violin nearly every day since
she was 3.
prodigy Brianna Kahane was moved to help rebuild violinist Romel
Joseph's music school, which was destroyed in Haiti's devastating
earthquake in January. She's been writing to other violinsts, asking for
donations of money and instruments for Joseph's students.
Eight-year-old prodigy Brianna
Kahane was moved to help rebuild violinist Romel Joseph's music school,
which was destroyed in Haiti's devastating earthquake in January. She's
been writing to other violinists, asking for donations of money and
instruments for Joseph's students.
"She said before she thinks music comes from the soul and it can make the world a better
place," Brianna's mother, Karen, told CBS, "And she really believes that."
After hearing about
Joseph and his school, Brianna started writing to more-famous
violinists, asking for money to help rebuild the school in
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and instruments for Joseph's students to play.
"I was so sad ...
that his beautiful music school actually collapsed on him. For 18 hours
he was stuck in there," Brianna, of Boca Raton, Fla., told CBS.
Brianna, who's 8,
made the first donation herself, giving Joseph one of her first violins
and performing for him as he recovered from his injuries in a Florida
"I want to bring
music back to Haiti and I want to have Mr. Joseph's school rebuilt
because I think all people in Haiti were smiling and they need to smile
now, too," Brianna said.
This is great. It looks like the two contestants are almost about to start dating and are going to be friends, then the guy's reaction when he wins a million bucks. I bet he gave her the prize she almost got (or something). I will try to follow up on that.
(have to get permission to publish whole article... we one) ............ Microquasars also produce
plenty of X-rays, whereas no X-rays have been seen from the mystery
object. "So that's not right either", Muxlow told New Scientist.
His best guess is still that the radio
source is some kind of dense object accreting surrounding material,
perhaps a large black hole or a black hole in an unusual environment.
Perhaps the phenomenon also happens occasionally in our galaxy, but is
more common in M82 because it is a "starburst"
galaxy – a cosmic cauldron where massive stars are forming and
exploding at a much higher rate than in the Milky Way, creating a lot of
new black holes.
(May 13) -- New pictures of Jupiter show that a huge band of dark
clouds that normally surrounds the giant planet has vanished.
planet's appearance usually is dominated by two dark bands in its
atmosphere -- one in the north and another in the south -- along with
the Giant Red Spot, an enormous storm that is more than twice the size
All three were visible at the end of last year
before the planet went behind the sun. When it re-emerged last month,
new pictures from Australian astronomer Anthony Wesley showed the southern cloud band was nowhere to be seen.
Anthony Wesley, The Planetary Society
photo at left shows Jupiter without the band of clouds that typically
circles it south of its famous Giant Red Spot. The photo at right shows
the cloud belt intact.
"It just doesn't look right," amateur astronomer Bob King of Duluth, Minn., wrote on his blog AstroBob. "Jupiter with only one belt is almost like seeing Saturn when its rings are edge-on and invisible for a time."
is not the first time the southern band has gone missing. It vanished
in the 1990s and was also absent in 1973 when NASA took its first
close-up pictures of the planet, according to New Scientist.
disappearing band may be the result of changes in the color of the
clouds that make it up, scientists believe. According to this theory,
the band is obscured when whitish clouds form at its top, making it
harder to see, New Scientist said.
Jupiter is the largest
planet in the solar system, more than 1,000 times bigger than Earth.
The planet is a giant ball of gas and liquid with little or no solid
Wesley is already looking forward to seeing the southern band return, an event he hopes will happen this year or next.
"Jupiter is a joy to observe," he told Space.com. "You can be sure there is always something violent and interesting going on."
(We One does not condone stealing, but we do think there is a humorous side to this story. The bank is "responsible" so the clients should not lose any money. I would love to interview her and ask her what made her choose to do this, and perhaps her choices were random.)
November 25th, 2009
A Robin Hood in real life?
You gotta be kidding me right? Apparently not….
In Germany, a bank employee secretly transferred money from
rich to poor clients.
Sadly the 62-year old woman was given a 22-month prison term
for this act of kindness. She could have faced a 4-year sentence, but
the court was being nice because she confessed immediately and did not
Between December 2003 and February 2005, the German ‘Robin
Hood Banker’ moved some €7.6 million in 117 transfers.
She did not take any money for herself. Her only motive was
to prevent poorer clients from seeing their accounts closed. And get
this… the woman is now reimbursing the millions lost by the bank,
reportedly from a small retirement pension!
NEWS: Scientific study shows soaring cancer rates in Fallujah; DU
Friday, 23 July 2010 06:38
Jim O. Madison
A new epidemiological study published by the International
Journal of Environmental Studies and Public Health (IJERPH)
reports that "the people of Fallujah are experiencing higher rates of
cancer, leukemia, infant mortality, and sexual mutations than those
recorded among survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the years after
those Japanese cities were incinerated by U.S. atomic bomb strikes in
1945," WSWS said Friday. -- "In a study of 711 houses and 4,843
individuals carried out in January and February 2010, authors Chris
Busby, Malak Hamdan, Entesar Ariabi and a team of researchers found that
the cancer rate had increased fourfold since before the U.S. attack
five years ago, and that the forms of cancer in Fallujah are similar to
those found among the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bomb survivors, who
were exposed to intense fallout radiation," Tom Eley reported. -- "In
Fallujah the rate of leukemia is 38 times higher, the childhood cancer
rate is 12 times higher, and breast cancer is 10 times more common than
in populations in Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait. Heightened levels of adult
lymphoma and brain tumors were also reported. At 80 deaths out of
every 1,000 births, the infant mortality rate in Fallujah is more than
five times higher than in Egypt and Jordan, and eight times higher than
in Kuwait." -- Also on Friday, Iran's Press TV quoted the Kuwait News
Agency in reporting that after a joint Iraqi study said there were
communities near the cities of Najaf, Basra and Fallujah with increased
rates of cancer and birth defects over the past five years, U.K. Defense
Secretary Liam Fox said in a written reply to the House of Commons on
Thursday that "U.K. forces used about 1.9 metric tons of depleted
uranium ammunition in the Iraq war in 2003." -- A Google News
search shows that, as usual, there is virtually no coverage of this news
in any Western mainstream media outlet (Australia World News is an exception). -- In the
journal abstract, the authors write that "the results seem to
qualitatively support the existence of serious mutation-related health
effects in Fallujah." -- The full article is available
here as an 81KB PDF file. -- BACKGROUND: For
the legal case that U.S. use of depleted uranium and the destruction of
Fallujah were crimes of war, see a Nov. 20, 2007, lecture by Prof. Francis A. Boyle
of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign....
FILE - This 2006 picture shows Howard
Zinn in New York. Zinn, an
author, teacher and political activist whose
leftist "A People's History
of the United States" sold millions of
copies to become an
alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of
such celebrities as Bruce
Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday,
Jan. 27, 2010. He was 87.
(AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh)
Zinn, an author, teacher and political
activist whose leftist "A
People's History of the United States"
sold a million copies and became
an alternative to mainstream texts and a
favorite of such celebrities as
Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died
Wednesday. He was 87.
Zinn died of a heart
attack in Santa Monica, Calif., daughter
Myla Kabat-Zinn said. The
historian was a resident of Auburndale,
Published in 1980
with little promotion and a first
printing of 5,000, "A People's
History" was — fittingly — a people's
best-seller, attracting a wide
audience through word of mouth and
reaching 1 million sales in 2003.
Although Zinn was writing for a general
readership, his book was taught
in high schools and colleges throughout
the country, and numerous
companion editions were published,
including "Voices of a People's
History," a volume for young people and a
At a time when few
politicians dared even call themselves
liberal, "A People's History"
told an openly left-wing story. Zinn
charged Christopher Columbus and
other explorers with genocide, picked
apart presidents from Andrew
Jackson to Franklin D. Roosevelt and
celebrated workers, feminists and
historians were uneasy with Zinn. Arthur
M. Schlesinger Jr. once said:
"I know he regards me as a dangerous
reactionary. And I don't take him
very seriously. He's a polemicist, not a
FILE - This Jan. 9, 2008 file photo shows
author Howard Zinn,
during a visit in Boston at
Emerson College. Zinn died in Santa Monica,
Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 27,
2010. He was 87. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
In a 1998 interview with
The Associated Press, Zinn acknowledged
he was not trying to write an
objective history, or a complete one. He
called his book a response to
traditional works, the first chapter —
not the last — of a new kind of
"There's no such
thing as a whole story; every story is
incomplete," Zinn said. "My idea
was the orthodox viewpoint has already
been done a thousand times."
"A People's History"
had some famous admirers, including Matt
Damon and Affleck. The two grew
up near Zinn, were family friends and
gave the book a plug in their
Academy Award-winning screenplay for
"Good Will Hunting." When Affleck
nearly married Jennifer Lopez, Zinn was
on the guest list.
"He taught me how
valuable — how necessary dissent was to
democracy and to America
itself," Affleck said in a statement.
"He taught that history was made
by the everyman, not the elites. I was
lucky enough to know him
personally and I will carry with me what
I learned from him — and try to
impart it to my own children — in his
Oliver Stone was a
fan, as well as Springsteen, whose bleak
"Nebraska" album was inspired
in part by "A People's History." The
book was the basis of a 2007
documentary, "Profit Motive and the
Whispering Wind," and even showed up
on "The Sopranos," in the hand of Tony's
himself was an impressive-looking man,
tall and rugged with wavy hair.
An experienced public speaker, he was
modest and engaging in person,
more interested in persuasion than in
Born in New York in
1922, Zinn was the son of Jewish
immigrants who as a child lived in a
rundown area in Brooklyn and responded
strongly to the novels of Charles
Dickens. At age 17, urged on by some
young Communists in his
neighborhood, he attended a political
rally in Times Square.
"Suddenly, I heard
the sirens sound, and I looked around
and saw the policemen on horses
galloping into the crowd and beating
people. I couldn't believe that,"
he told the AP.
"And then I was hit. I
turned around and I was knocked
unconscious. I woke up sometime later
in a doorway, with Times Square quiet
again, eerie, dreamlike, as if
nothing had transpired. I was
ferociously indignant. ... It was a very
shocking lesson for me."
War continued his
education. Eager to help wipe out the
Nazis, Zinn joined the Army Air
Corps in 1943 and even persuaded the
local draft board to let him mail
his own induction notice. He flew
missions throughout Europe, receiving
an Air Medal, but he found himself
questioning what it all meant. Back
home, he gathered his medals and papers,
put them in a folder and wrote
on top: "Never again."
Portrait of Howard Zinn by Robert
Shetterly from his
collection "Americans Who Tell The Truth"
attended New York University and
Columbia University, where he received a
doctorate in history. In 1956, he was
offered the chairmanship of the
history and social sciences department
at Spelman College, an all-black
women's school in then-segregated
During the civil
rights movement, Zinn encouraged his
students to request books from the
segregated public libraries and helped
coordinate sit-ins at downtown
cafeterias. Zinn also published several
articles, including a then-rare
attack on the Kennedy administration for
being too slow to protect
He was loved by
students — among them a young Alice
Walker, who later wrote "The Color
Purple" — but not by administrators. In
1963, Spelman fired him for
"insubordination." (Zinn was a critic of
the school's non-participation
in the civil rights movement.) His years
at Boston University were
marked by opposition to the Vietnam War
and by feuds with the school's
president, John Silber.
Zinn retired in 1988,
spending his last day of class on the
picket line with students in
support of an on-campus nurses' strike.
Over the years, he continued to
lecture at schools and to appear at
rallies and on picket lines.
Besides "A People's
History," Zinn wrote several books,
including "The Southern Mystique,"
''LaGuardia in Congress" and the memoir,
"You Can't Be Neutral on a
Moving Train," the title of a 2004
documentary about Zinn that Damon
narrated. He also wrote three plays.
of Zinn's last public writings was a
brief essay, published last week
in The Nation, about the first year of
the Obama administration.
"I've been searching
hard for a highlight," he wrote, adding
that he wasn't disappointed
because he never expected a lot from
"I think people are
dazzled by Obama's rhetoric, and that
people ought to begin to
understand that Obama is going to be a
mediocre president — which means,
in our time, a dangerous president —
unless there is some national
movement to push him in a better
Zinn's longtime wife
and collaborator, Roslyn, died in 2008.
They had two children, Myla and
Hillel Italie, AP National Writer
2003 Associated Press. All
rights reserved.This material may not be
rewritten , or redistributed.
Photos courtesy of AP Photo, Robert
Images created by Dima Gavrysh,
Michael Dwyer, Robert Shetterly
Last changed on:
For more of the writings, essays and
commentaries of this great
It's Better To Drink Beer After Exercise Than Water
November 2, 2007 - 7:47pm.
Researchers at Granada University
in Spain have come across a discovery that will undoubtedly please
athletes and sports enthusiasts - a pint of beer post-workout or match
is better at rehydrating the human body than water.
Professor Manuel Garzon, a member of Granada's medical faculty, made
the finding after tests on 25 students over several months. Researchers
believe that it is the sugars, salts, and bubbles in a beer that may
help people absorb fluids more quickly.
The subjects in the study were asked to run on a treadmill at
temperatures of 104F (40C) until they were close to exhaustion. Once
they had reached the point of giving up, researchers measured their
hydration levels, motor skills, and concentration ability.
Half of the subjects were given two half pints of Spanish lager to
drink, and the other half were given just water.
Garzon said that the rehydration effection in those who were given
beer was "slightly better" than those who were given only water. He
also believes that the carbon dioxide in beer helps quench thirst more
quickly, and that beer's carbohydrates replace calories lost during
The average person loses around 1 liter (33oz) of water for every
hour of exercise in sweat. Rehydrating after a workout is crucial, as a
lack of hydration is more likely to make one feel tired, fuzzyheaded,
and suffer from headaches.
Based on the results of the study, researchers recommend moderate
consumption of beer as a part of athletes' diets. "Moderate
consumption" for men is 500ml per day, and for women is 250ml per day.
So that explains why Babe Ruth was so good. His method of training
was nearly 100 years ahead of its time.
Chimpanzees remember the exact location
of all their favourite fruit trees.
Their spatial memory is
so precise that they can find a single tree among more than 12,000
others within a patch of forest, primatologists have found.
than that, the chimps also recall how productive each tree is, and
decide to travel farther to eat from those they know will yield the most
Acquiring such an ability might have helped drive the
evolution of sophisticated primate brains.
Normand and Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute for
Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany teamed up with Simone Ban
of the University of Cocody in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to investigate the
spatial memory of chimpanzees in the wild.
"We were amazed by the
apparent easiness by which chimpanzees discover highly productive fruit
trees. Or how after being separated from other group members for hours
or days, they could join each other silently at a large fruit tree, like
if they would have had an appointment at this place," says Normand.
We think it's fair to assume that chimpanzees can remember the
exact location of probably thousands of trees
Primatologist Emmanuelle Normand
To find out how they do it, Normand's team first mapped the location
of 12,499 individual trees growing within the home range of a group of
chimpanzees living in the Tai National Park in Ivory Coast. They
identified each tree and used GPS to map its precise position.
team also identified 17 species of fruit tree that the chimps regularly
fed from, and worked out how often each individual tree belonging to
these 17 species would be in fruit each month. From that, the
researchers could determine how likely it would be that a chimp randomly
walking around the forest might bump into a fruit tree that it could
The team found that the chimps didn't visit the most
abundant fruit species most frequently, as would be expected if they
were navigating without using spatial memory. They also excluded the
possibility that the chimpanzees navigated toward the trees by smell.
It's off to eat we go
Instead, they targeted certain trees and walked directly to them. For
example, the apes visited one fruit tree, Pouteria aningueri,
more than any other, despite it being one of the rarest trees in their
home range, the team report in Animal Cognition.
The chimps also
travelled much shorter distances to each fruit tree than would be
expected by chance, confirming that they travel directly to the trees.
think it is fair to assume that chimpanzees can remember the exact
location of probably thousands of trees," says Normand.
females closely tracked, one ate from 391 separate trees, averaging 14
trees per day, while the other ate from 506 trees, averaging 18 trees
per day. On average, each chimp revisited each tree once every
Remarkably, as well as remembering the
location of their favourite trees, the chimps also recalled when each
tree would be in season, producing the most fruit. They would then often
walk further to reach these more bountiful trees rather than make a
shorter journey to a less productive one.
"Across all seasons, it
seems that they have preferred tree species," says Normand.
A male chimp has to make do with eating leaves not
"Like when it is the coula nuts season, chimpanzees crack nuts using
tools for hours during a day. Or when it is the Sacoglottis fruits
season, then the chimpanzees stay hours digging their fruit wadge in the
water to press a maximum of juice from those fruits."
female chimpanzees travelled shorter distances to eat than males. The
researchers don't know why, but speculate that it is either because
females better remember the locations of trees, or because males simply
compete with one another by ranging more widely through their territory.
In one respect, it is not surprising that chimpanzees have
developed an outstanding ability to navigate their home range, says
One idea, known as the "ecological hypothesis" proposes
that the need to remember and find food resources, such as fruit trees,
could have driven the evolution of primate brains. In particular, it
says that a preference for fruit eating, or frugivory, would select for
intelligence compared to leaf-eating, or foliovory.
because the distribution of fruits is more scattered, less predictable
and fruits can be more difficult to manipulate than leaves, the nut
cracking by Ta chimpanzees being an extreme example," says Normand.
to monkeys, chimpanzees live in larger territories and are highly
frugivorous, suggesting that developing an outstanding ability to
navigate to fruit trees could have a key driver in the evolution of ape
Oceans Rising Faster Than UN Forecast, Scientists Say (Update2)
By Alex Morales
June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Polar ice caps are melting faster
and oceans are rising more than the United Nations projected
just two years ago, 10 universities said in a report suggesting
that climate change has been underestimated.
Global sea levels will climb a meter (39 inches) by 2100,
69 percent more than the most dire forecast made in 2007 by the
UN’s climate panel, according to the study released today in
Brussels. The forecast was based on new findings, including that
Greenland’s ice sheet is losing 179 billion tons of ice a year.
“We have to act immediately and we have to act strongly,”
Schellnhuber, director of Germany’s Potsdam
Institute for Climate Impact Research, told reporters in the
Belgian capital. “Time is clearly running out.”
In six months, negotiators from 192 nations will meet in
Copenhagen to broker a new treaty to fight global warming by
limiting the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil
fuels and clearing forests.
“A lukewarm agreement” in the Danish capital “is not
only inexcusable, it would be reckless,” Schellnhuber said.
Fossil-fuel combustion in the world’s power plants,
vehicles and heaters alone released 31.5 billion metric tons of
carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, 1.8 percent more than
in 2007, according to calculations from BP Plc data.
‘Rapid and Drastic’
The scientists today portrayed a more ominous scenario than
outlined in 2007 by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, which likewise blamed humans for global warming. “Rapid
and drastic” cuts in the output of heat-trapping gases are
needed to avert “serious climate impacts,” the report said.
The report called for coordinated, “rapid and sustained”
global efforts to contain rising temperatures. Danish Prime
Minister Lars Loekke
Rasmussen, also in Brussels, told reporters
that nations have to reverse the rising trend in emissions of
“We need targets,” Rasmussen said. “All of us are moving
toward the same ambitious goals.”
Scientists from institutions including Yale University, the
University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge compiled
the 39-page report from research carried out since 2005, the
cutoff date for consideration by the IPCC for its forecasts
published in November 2007.
Ocean levels have been rising by 3.1 millimeters a year
since 2000, a rate that’s predicted to grow, according to the
study. The projections of sea levels rising by a meter this
century compare with the 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 23 inches)
forecast by the IPCC.
“There are indications that rates of sea-level rise are
higher than projected, and impacts like Arctic melting are more
rapid,” Martin Parry,
who supervised part of the UN panel’s
2007 study, said in a telephone interview. He wasn’t involved in
writing the new report.
Oceans are warming 50 percent faster than the IPCC
predicted and Arctic sea ice is disappearing more rapidly in
summer -- exposing darker ocean that absorbs more heat, the
The academics produced the study, “Climate Change --Global
Risks, Challenges and Decisions,” by compiling research
submitted to a conference in Copenhagen in March. They also drew
from an October 2006 report into the economics of climate change
by Nicholas Stern,
then the U.K. government’s chief economist.
Stern’s study, which wasn’t included in the IPCC report,
said that the cost of avoiding the worst impacts of climate
change can be limited to 1 percent of economic output while
doing nothing could lead to damage costing as much as 20 percent
of the world’s gross domestic product.
“Greater near-term emissions lock us into greater climate
change requiring greater costs from climate impacts and more
investment in adaptation,” Stern wrote in today’s study.
“Furthermore, they lead to a faster rate of climate change with
greater challenges for adaptation.”
By 2050, when the global population will be an estimated 9
billion people, per-capita gas emissions will need to have
fallen to about 2 tons a year, compared with levels as high as
20 tons a person currently in the U.S., the report proposed.
The University of Copenhagen coordinated the effort by the
Alliance of Research Universities. Other
members include the University of California at Berkeley, Peking
University, the Australian National University, ETH Zurich, the
National University of Singapore and the University of Tokyo.
Climate Change Causes 300,000 Deaths a
Year, Controversial Study Claims
300,000 people across the world die every year as a result of global
warming, according to a new report by the Global Humanitarian Forum.
Human-influenced climate change is elevating the global death rates from
illnesses including malaria, malnutrition and heat-related ailments,
mostly by worsening flooding and droughts.
The report said that the lives of 325 million people were being
seriously affected by global warming and that the number will double by
2030. It also stated that global warming is causing $125 billion in
economic losses each year.
The report has met with criticism from some who question the methods
used and say the conclusions are oversimplified.
Roger A. Pielke Jr., a political scientist at the
University of Colorado, Boulder, who studies disaster trends, said the
forum’s report was “a methodological embarrassment” because there was no
way to distinguish deaths or economic losses related to human-driven
global warming amid the much larger losses resulting from the growth in
populations and economic development in vulnerable regions. Dr. Pielke
said that “climate change is an important problem requiring our utmost
attention.” But the report, he said, “will harm the cause for action on
both climate change and disasters because it is so deeply flawed.”
However, Soren Peter Andreasen, a social scientist at Dalberg Global
Development Partners who supervised the writing of the report, defended
it, saying that it was clear that the numbers were rough estimates. The
report appeared aimed at world leaders, who will meet in Copenhagen in
December to negotiate a new international climate treaty.
While the numbers may be rough, the message is important. Climate
change is already impacting millions of people across the world, and
it’s going to get worse. There’s no time to waste.
Here's another reason to avoid soft drinks: It
can significantly increase your risk of pancreatic cancer
The damage to your teeth by consuming sugar and soft drinks may seem
trivial now that research has shown they may also increase the risk of
pancreatic cancer, writes Roger Dobson.
A new study at Georgetown University in the US looked at
sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages or soft drinks and the risk of
pancreatic cancer in 60,000 men and women in Singapore over a 14-year
It found that those who drink more than two soft drinks a week
almost double the risk of developing the disease.
And a second study over 16 years by the University of East
Anglia, monitoring 25,000 adults in the UK, shows that those who had the
most sucrose (table or white sugar) in their diet were twice as likely
to get the disease as those who had the least.
Some 7,500 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year
in the UK. It is difficult to detect and treat, and there are few early
symptoms. Little is known about the exact causes, and it can develop for
no obvious reason.
But new research is shedding light on possible risk factors.
Another extensive study of 160,000 people at the University of
Hawaii looked at diet and pancreatic-cancer risk, and showed that higher
intakes of fructose (a sugar that occurs naturally in fruits,
vegetables and honey) and sucrose led to a 35 per cent higher risk of
During the research at the University of East Anglia,
participants kept daily food diaries and sucrose intake was calculated
for each person.
The researchers have been looking for any
dietary differences between those who went on to develop pancreatic
cancer and those who did not.
Results show that those who consumed the most sucrose were twice
as likely to develop the cancer, although why is not clear.
A key role of the pancreas is to produce insulin, which helps
keep sugar levels in the blood at a stable level. One theory is that
excess sucrose intake could trigger pancreatic cancer through increased
Excess insulin may result in an increase in growth factors and
other compounds that may stimulate growth of cancer cells.
Tree frogs are threatened by the developing
world's rising consumption
ANIMAL and plant species are being killed off faster than ever before
as human populations surge and people consume more, a United Nations
report is expected to say this week.
It will warn that the expansion of countries such as China, India and
Brazil is adding hugely to the environmental threats already generated
by developed western nations, and that a third of species could face
extinction this century.
The report is one of the starkest issued by the UN and the decision
to draw an explicit link between extinction rates and economic growth
makes it politically sensitive.
It will point out that the extinction threat extends across all main
ecosystems, affecting living things as diverse as tree frogs, coral
reefs and river dolphins.
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“It’s a problem if we continue this unsustainable pattern of
production and consumption,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, the UN’s leading
figure on biological diversity. “If the 9 billion people predicted to be
with us by 2050 were to have the same lifestyle as Americans, we would
need five planets.”
Djoghlaf said humans would suffer too because many threatened species
were important for food and raw materials.
Some green groups fear the relentless rise of China and India risks
undoing years of conservation work in the West.
“The magnitude of the damage [to ecosystems] is much bigger than
previously thought,” said Djoghlaf. “The rate of extinction is currently
running at 1,000 times the natural historical background rate of
The most recent study by the International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN) found that 17,291 of the 47,677 species assessed are
threatened with extinction. They include 21% of all known mammals, 30%
of amphibians, 35% of invertebrates and 70% of plants.
Of the world’s 5,490 mammals, 79 are classified as extinct in the
wild by the IUCN Red List, regarded as the most authoritative assessment
of the world’s species. A further 188 are categorised as critically
endangered, 449 are endangered and 505 are classed as vulnerable.
The fishing cat in south Asia, for example, has moved from vulnerable
to endangered because of threats to its habitat from agriculture,
pollution, excessive hunting and logging. The Iberian lynx, whose
numbers have fallen to between 84 and 143 in Spain and Portugal, is
Djoghlaf said the threat to marine ecosystems had increased
significantly and had now become “one of the most important threats to
the future of mankind”. The Irrawaddy snubfin dolphin and the south
Asian river dolphin are listed by the IUCN as vulnerable and endangered
The new UN report, using research from 120 nations, will show that no
country in the world has succeeded in halting the loss of biodiversity
and that 89% of those who submitted reports had identified climate
change as a cause. Pollution and the spread of invasive species have
also taken their toll.
By 2050, the global population is predicted to soar from 6.8 billion
to 9 billion and two-thirds of people will live in cities. In China
alone, 400 new cities with populations greater than 1m have been
Palo Alto, California (CNN) -- In the 1990s, a researcher
named Kris Pister dreamed up a wild future in which people would
sprinkle the Earth with countless tiny sensors, no larger than grains of
These "smart dust" particles, as he called them, would
monitor everything, acting like electronic nerve endings for the planet.
Fitted with computing power, sensing equipment, wireless radios and
long battery life, the smart dust would make observations and relay
mountains of real-time data about people, cities and the natural
Now, a version of Pister's smart dust fantasy is
starting to become reality.
"It's exciting. It's been a long time
coming," said Pister, a computing
professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
coined the phrase 14 years ago. So smart dust has taken a while, but
it's finally here."
Maybe not exactly how he envisioned it. But
there has been progress.
The latest news comes from the computer
and printing company Hewlett-Packard, which recently announced it's
working on a project it calls the "Central Nervous System for the
Earth." In coming years, the company plans to deploy a trillion sensors
all over the planet.
The wireless devices would check to see if
ecosystems are healthy, detect earthquakes more rapidly, predict traffic
patterns and monitor energy use. The idea is that accidents could be
prevented and energy could be saved if people knew more about the world
in real time, instead of when workers check on these issues only
HP will take its first step toward this goal in
about two years, said Pete Hartwell, a senior researcher at HP Labs in
Palo Alto. The company has made plans with Royal Dutch Shell to install 1
million matchbook-size monitors to aid in oil explorationby
measuring rock vibrations and movement, he said. Those sensors, which
already have been developed, will cover a 6-square-mile area.
will be the largest smart dust deployment to date, he said.
just think now, the technology has reached a point where it makes basic
sense for us ... to get this out of the lab and into reality," Hartwell
Smart dust (minus the 'dust')
recent excitement, there's still much confusion in the computing
industry about what exactly smart dust is.
For starters, the
sensors being deployed and developed today are much larger and clunkier
than flecks of dust. HP's sensors -- accelerometers like those in the
iPhone and Droid phone, but about 1,000 times more powerful -- are about
the size of matchbooks. When they're enclosed in a metal box for
protection, they're about the size of a VHS tape.
So what makes a
smart dust sensor different from a weather station or a traffic
Size is one factor. Smart dust sensors must be
relatively small and portable. But technology hasn't advanced far enough
to manufacture the sensors on the scale of millimeters for commercial
use (although Berkeley researchers are trying to make one that's a cubic millimeter).
connections are a big distinguisher, too. A building's thermostat is
most likely hard-wired. A smart dust sensor might gauge temperature, but
it would be battery-powered and would communicate wirelessly with the
internet and with other sensors.
The sheer number of sensors in
the network is what truly makes a smart dust project different from
other efforts to record data about the world, said Deborah
Estrin, a professor of computer science at the University of
California, Los Angeles, who works in the field.
researchers tend to talk in the millions, billions and trillions.
say reality has diverged so far from the smart dust concept that it's
time to dump that term in favor or something less sexy. "Wireless sensor
networks" or "meshes" are terms finding greater acceptance with some
Estrin said it's important to ditch the idea that
smart dust sensors would be disposable.
Sensors have to be
designed for specific purposes and spread out on the land intentionally
-- not scattered in the wind, as smart dust was initially pitched, she
Despite these differences,
researchers say the smart-dust theory that monitoring everything will
benefit humanity remains essentially unchanged.
And there are a
number of real-world projects that, in one way or another, seek to use
wireless sensors to take the Earth's vital signs.
sensors currently monitor farms, factories, data centers and bridges to
promote efficiency and understanding of how these systems work,
researchers said in interviews.
In all of these cases, the sensor
networks are deployed for a specific purpose.
For example, a
company called Streetline has installed 12,000 sensors on parking
spots and highways in San Francisco. The sensors don't know everything
that's going on at those parking spots. They are equipped with
magnetometers to sense whether or not a huge metal object -- hopefully a
car -- is sitting on the spot.
That data will soon be available
to people who can use it to figure out where to park, said Tod Dykstra,
It also tells the cities if the meters have
Other sensors are equipped to measure vibration in
factories and oil refineries to spot machine problems and inefficiencies
before they cause trouble. Still others might pick up data about
temperature, chemistry or sound. Tiny cameras or radars also can be
tacked onto the data-collecting network to detect the presence of people
The power of these networks is that they eventually
can be connected, said David Culler,
a computer science professor at UC Berkeley.
Culler says the
development of these wireless sensor networks is analogous to the
creation of the World Wide Web. What's being created with the smart dust
idea is a "Real World Web," he said.
But he said we're still
early on in that progression.
"Netscape [for the wireless sensor
network] hasn't quite happened," he said.
Big Brother effect
Even when deployed for science or the public, some people still get a
Big Brother feeling --the uncomfortable sense of being under
constant, secret surveillance -- from the idea of putting trillions of
monitors all over the world.
"It's a very, very, very huge
potential privacy invasion because we're talking about very, very small
sensors that can be undetectable, effectively," said Lee Tien,
an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy advocate.
"They are there in such numbers that you really can't do anything
about them in terms of easy countermeasures."
That doesn't mean
that researchers should stop working on smart dust. But they should be
mindful of privacy as the work progresses, he said.
the wireless frequencies that smart dust sensors use to communicate --
which work kind of like Wi-Fi -- have security built into them. So the
data is public only if the person or company that installed the sensor
wants it to be, he said.
"Clearly, there are security concerns
and privacy concerns," he said, "and the good
news is that when the radio technology was being developed for this
stuff, it was shortly after all of the big concerns about Wi-Fi
security. ... We've got all the security tools we need underneath to
make this information private."
Further privacy concerns may
arise if another vision for smart dust comes true. Some researchers are
looking into making mobile phones into sensors.
scenario, the billions of people roaming the Earth with cell phones
become the "smart dust."
researchers say their theory of monitoring the world -- however it's
realized -- will benefit people and the environment.
information is better information, Pister said.
sensors improves the efficiency of a system and reduces the demand and
reduces waste," he said. "So all of that is just straight goodness."
Hartwell, the HP researcher, says the only way people can combat
huge problems like climate change and biodiversity loss is to have more
information about what's going on.
"Frankly, I think we have to
do it, from a sustainability and environmental standpoint," he said.
Even though the first application of HP's "Central Nervous System
for the Earth" project will be commercial, Hartwell says the motives
behind smart dust are altruistic.
me what my job is, and I say, well, I'm going to save the world," he
Cynthia Dunbar is one of a clutch of US
Christian evangelists who have grasped control of the Texas education
board. Photograph: Harry Cabluck/AP
Cynthia Dunbar does not have a high regard for her local schools.
She has called them unconstitutional, tyrannical and tools of
perversion. The conservative Texas lawyer has even likened sending
children to her state's schools to "throwing them in to the enemy's
flames". Her hostility runs so deep that she educated her own offspring
at home and at private Christian establishments.
Now Dunbar is on
the brink of fulfilling a promise to change all that, or at least point
Texas schools toward salvation. She is one of a clutch of Christian
evangelists and social conservatives who have grasped control of the
state's education board. This week they are expected to force through a
new curriculum that is likely to shift what millions of American
schoolchildren far beyond Texas learn about their history.
board is to vote on a sweeping purge of alleged liberal bias in Texas
school textbooks in favour of what Dunbar says really matters: a belief
in America as a nation chosen by God as a beacon to the world, and free
enterprise as the cornerstone of liberty and democracy.
fighting for our children's education and our nation's future," Dunbar
said. "In Texas we have certain statutory obligations to promote
patriotism and to promote the free enterprise system. There seems to
have been a move away from a patriotic ideology. There seems to be a
denial that this was a nation founded under God. We had to go back and
make some corrections."
Those corrections have prompted a blizzard
of accusations of rewriting history and indoctrinating children by
promoting rightwing views on religion, economics and guns while
diminishing the science of evolution, the civil rights movement and the
horrors of slavery.
Several changes include sidelining Thomas
Jefferson, who favoured separation of church and state, while
introducing a new focus on the "significant contributions" of
pro-slavery Confederate leaders during the civil war.
curriculum asserts that "the right to keep and bear arms" is an
important element of a democratic society. Study of Sir Isaac Newton is
dropped in favour of examining scientific advances through military
There is also a suggestion that the anti-communist
witch-hunt by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s may have been
The education board has dropped references to the slave
trade in favour of calling it the more innocuous "Atlantic triangular
trade", and recasts the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as driven by
"There is a battle for the soul of
education," said Mavis Knight, a liberal member of the Texas education
board. "They're trying to indoctrinate with American exceptionalism, the
Christian founding of this country, the free enterprise system. There
are strands where the free enterprise system fits appropriately but they
have stretched the concept of the free enterprise system back to
medieval times. The president of the Texas historical association could
not find any documentation to support the stretching of the free
enterprise system to ancient times but it made no difference."
curriculum has alarmed liberals across the country in part because
Texas buys millions of text books every year, giving it considerable
sway over what publishers print. By some estimates, all but a handful of
American states rely on text books written to meet the Texas
curriculum. The California legislature is considering a bill that would
bar them from being used in the state's schools.
In the past four
years, Christian conservatives have won almost half the seats on the
Texas education board and can rely on other Republicans for support on
most issues. They previously tried to require science teachers to
address the "strengths and weaknesses" in the theory of evolution – a
move critics regard as a back door to teaching creationism – but failed.
They have had more success in tackling history and social studies.
backed amendments to the curriculum that portray the free enterprise
system (there is no mention of capitalism, deemed to be a tainted word)
as a cornerstone of liberty and argue that the government should have a
minimal role in the economy.
One amendment requires that students
be taught that economic prosperity requires "minimal government
intrusion and taxation".
Underpinning the changes is a particular
view of religion.
Dunbar was elected to the state education board
on the back of a campaign in which she argued for the teaching of
creationism – euphemistically known as intelligent design – in science
Two years ago, she published a book, One Nation Under
God, in which she argued that the United States was ultimately
governed by the scriptures.
"The only accurate method of
ascertaining the intent of the founding fathers at the time of our
government's inception comes from a biblical worldview," she wrote. "We
as a nation were intended by God to be a light set on a hill to serve as
a beacon of hope and Christian charity to a lost and dying world."
the education board, Dunbar backed changes that include teaching the
role the "Jewish Ten Commandments" played in "political and legal
ideas", and the study of the influence of Moses on the US constitution.
Dunbar says these are important steps to overturning what she believes
is the myth of a separation between church and state in the US.
been this amorphous changing of how we look at religion and how we
define religion within American history. One concern I have is that the
viewpoint of the founding fathers is very clear. They were not against
the promotion of religion. I think it is important to present a
historically accurate viewpoint to students," she said.
face of it some of the changes are innocuous but critics say that closer
scrutiny reveals a not-so-hidden agenda. History students are now to be
required to study documents, such as the Mayflower Compact, which
instil the idea of America being founded as a Christian fundamentalist
Knight and others do not question that religion was an
important force in American history but they fear that it is being used
as a Trojan horse by evangelists to insert religious indoctrination into
the school curriculum. They point to the wording of amendments such as
that requiring students to "describe how religion and virtue contributed
to the growth of representative government in the American colonies".
the advisers the board brought in to help rewrite the curriculum is
David Barton, the leader of WallBuilders which seeks to promote religion
in history. Barton has campaigned against the separation of church and
state. He argues that income tax should be abolished because it
contradicts the bible. Among his recommendations was that pupils should
be taught that the declaration of independence establishes that the
creator is at the heart of law, government and individual rights.
have been accused of an assault on the history of civil rights. One
curriculum amendment describes the civil rights movement as creating
"unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes" among minorities. Another
seeks to place Martin Luther King and the violent Black Panther movement
as opposite sides of the same coin.
"We had a big discussion
around that," said Knight, a former teacher. "It was an attempt to taint
the civil rights movement. They did the same by almost equating George
Wallace [the segregationist governor of Alabama in the mid-1960s] with
the civil rights movement and the things Martin Luther King Jr was
trying to accomplish, as if Wallace was standing up for white civil
rights. That's how slick they are.
"They're very smooth at
excluding the contributions of minorities into the curriculum. It is as
if they want to render minority groups totally invisible. I think it's
racist. I really do."
The blizzard of amendments has produced the
occasional farce. Some figures have been sidelined because they are
deemed to be socialist or un-American. One of them is a children's
author, Bill Martin, who wrote a popular tale, Brown Bear, Brown Bear,
What Do You See? Martin was purged from the curriculum when he was
confused with an author with a similar name but a different book,
Rick Nauert PhDSenior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
on December 1, 2009
A new research effort has a
provocative outcome as University of California-Berkeley researchers
suggest substituting cannabis for treatment of heavy alcohol abuse.
Research published in BioMed Central’s open access Harm Reduction
Journal features a poll of 350 cannabis users, finding that 40
percent used cannabis to control their alcohol cravings, 66 percent as a
replacement for prescription drugs and 26 percent for other, more
potent illegal drugs.
Amanda Reiman carried out the study at the UC-Berkeley Patient’s
Group, a medical cannabis dispensary.
She said, “Substituting cannabis for alcohol has been described as a
radical alcohol treatment protocol. This approach could be used to
address heavy alcohol use in the British Isles – people might substitute
cannabis, a potentially safer drug than alcohol with less negative side
effects, if it were socially acceptable and available.”
Reiman found that 65 percent of people reported using cannabis as a
substitute because it has fewer adverse side effects than alcohol,
illicit or prescription drugs, 34 percent because it has less withdrawal
potential and 57.4 percent because cannabis provides better symptom
Reiman believes this discovery brings up two important points.
“First, self-determination, the right of an individual to decide
which treatment or substance is most effective and least harmful for
them. Secondly, the recognition that substitution might be a viable
alternative to abstinence for those who can’t or won’t completely stop
using psychoactive substances.”
Speaking about legalization of cannabis, Reiman added, “The economic
hardship of the Great Depression
helped bring about the end of alcohol prohibition. Now, as we are again
faced with economic struggles, the U.S. is looking to marijuana as a
potential revenue generator.
“Public support is rising for the legalization of recreational use
and remains high for the use of marijuana as a medicine. The hope is
that this interest will translate into increased research support and
the removal of current barriers to conducting such research, such as the
Schedule I/Class B status of marijuana.”
enormous wildlife "dead zone" in the Gulf continues to grow, and is
expected to be even larger this summer.
Animal toxicology experts believe the Gulf dead zone is man-made.
Gulf wildlife continue to face other threats, ranging from agricultural
run-off to pharmaceutical pollutants.
A small dead crab lies in
hypoxic sediments off the coast of Louisiana. Experts say the Gulf dead
zone is expected to expand. AP Photo/Oceanic and
Atmospheric Research, National Undersea Research Program and the
Louisiana University Marine Consortium, N. Rabalais
An over 7,000-square-mile
wildlife "dead zone" located in the center of the Gulf of Mexico has
grown from being a curiosity to a colossus over the past two decades,
according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and scientists are
now concerned the recent oil spill and other emerging chemical threats
could widen the zone even further.
The NWF describes the dead zone as being "the largest on record in
the hemisphere in coastal waters and one of the biggest in the world."
During the summer months, it is nearly devoid of wildlife, save for
the dead bodies of crabs, shrimp and other marine species that succumb
to oxygen depletion in the polluted water.
Animal toxicology experts believe the Gulf dead zone is a man-made
"Outside of widespread impacts from oil release, the drainage of the
Mississippi River into the Central Gulf has deposited massive amounts of
agricultural chemicals and fertilizers from agricultural activities in
the Central United States," Ron Kendall, director of The Institute of
Environmental and Human Health, told Discovery News.
"Basically, this has created the large dead zone in the Central
Gulf," added Kendall, who is chairman of Texas Tech's Department of
Environmental Toxicology and was part of the assessment team for the
He has just edited the first textbook -- "Wildlife Toxicology:
Emerging Contaminant and Biodiversity Issues" -- to address
environmental threats to wildlife in a single volume and recommend
mitigation techniques to protect and sustain Earth's wildlife
He and other scientists are particularly concerned now about sea
turtles and certain bird and fish populations near the dead zone and
within the Gulf region.
Many sea turtle species are endangered, and "if oil reaches the shore
and exposes turtle nests, the eggs will probably not hatch." The eggs
of terns and brown pelicans could also "be at great risk for reduced
"The blue fine tuna are also reproducing in the Gulf at this time,"
Kendall said. "Their populations are seriously low and any impact on
hatching rates and/or survival will continue to depress their
He believes the recent oil spill is "much more complex than the Exxon
Valdez crisis," since marine areas, salt marshes and other contaminated
regions cannot be cleaned without destroying the habitats themselves.
Richard Dodge, executive director of the National Coral Reef
Institute, told Discovery News that "mangrove forests are at high risk
because of their intertidal location" since "floating oil can enter,
coat roots and cause forest mortality at a large scale."
Dodge, who is also a professor and dean at Nova Southeastern
University's Oceanographic Center, is additionally worried about
Florida's coral reef ecosystems, which "have been subject to a host of
stresses that include the effects of a warming ocean from global
warming, ocean acidification from dissolved CO2 , and even from this
past winter which was unusually cold."
Although climate change is often associated with global warming, it
can result in such hot and cold extremes.
Dodge further said that development, fishing and pollution are other
stressors to the reefs and the wildlife they support.
Kendall and his colleagues have determined that pharmaceuticals,
including antibiotics and hormones, are getting into the environment and
may cause impacts to fish and wildlife. Nanomaterials from the growing
nanotechnology industry could cause "considerable" impacts, he believes.
But, as the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig off the coast of Louisiana
continues to spew oil into the Gulf, experts must continue to focus
their attention on the predicted summer dead zone growth and efforts to
stop and contain the spill.
Kendall said, "If we cannot get the oil head shut off in the next
month or so and a hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico, the resulting
impacts could be of major catastrophic proportion."
India aims to export $1 bn organic products in
next 5 yrs
2010, 1423 hrs IST, PTI
DELHI: India aims to export $1 billion worth of organic products in the
five years as there is greater demand for non-food products such as
"Five years from now, we should aim at achieving $1 billion
in organic products export by harnessing the potential in other products
organic cotton and other," Commerce Secretary Rahul Kullar said after
inaugurating a software here on the occasion of 10th anniversary of
implementation of National Programme for Organic Production
India's organic products exports jumped to $125 million from
$12 million in a span of eight years, he said.
Khullar also called
concerned stakeholders to focus more on promoting organic products in
"We are not concerned about organic products not
only for export purpose, but also because environment-friendly farm
will help achieve sustainable agriculture in the country," he
So far, the focus on export has been on organic food items,
such as, tea and spices. But there is a greater scope in non-organic
as well, he added.
Speaking about the software, Khullar said the
launch of 'Tracenet' at national level to track organic products from
gate will help check export of spurious products.
web-based traceability system (Tracenet) has been developed by APEDA, a
statutory body under the Commerce Ministry, to streamline and fasten the
of organic exports.
According to the Agricultural and Processed Food
Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Tracenet is the world's
software on organic products that can trace details of each consignment
the farm level.
The software can be easily accessed anywhere by all
stakeholders in the supply chain of organic export from farmers to
bodies, it said, adding that it will help establish the credibility of
certification and deliver commercial assurance.
At present, the
European Union, Switzerland and the US recognise the accreditation and
certification standards set up by NPOP for export of organic products.
Beam Us Up
Teleportation doesn't work for humans — yet — but it works over long
distances, a new study reports.Time Magazine
Scientists in China have broken the record for
quantum teleportation, achieving a distance of about 10 miles, according
to a new study in Nature Photonics. That's a giant leap from
The feat brings us closer to communicating information without
needing a traditional signal transmission, the researchers note.
It works by entangling two objects, like photons or ions. The first
teleportation experiments involved beams of light. Once the objects are
entangled, they're connected by an invisible wave, like a thread or
umbilical cord. That means when something is done to one object, it
immediately happens to the other object, too. Einstein called this
"spooky action at a distance."
Until now, this has only been achieved with particles that are at
most a couple hundred feet apart. And those distances have been
accomplished with fiber channels, which help preserve the photons'
In the latest experiment, researchers entangled two photons and
zapped the higher-energy one through a special 10-mile-long free-space
tunnel, instead of a fiber one. The distant photon was still able to
respond to the changes in state of the photon left behind, an
It worked because the team "maximally entangled" the photons, using
spatial and polarization modes, according to Ars Technica. About 89
percent of the information was maintained, also an improvement over
The work was done at the Hefei National Laboratory for Physical
Sciences at Microscale and the Department of Modern Physics, University
of Science and Technology of China, Hefei.
Though a 10-mile teleportation is impressive, there's still a long
way to go before information can safely be sent this way. Photons are
good at transmitting information, but ions are better at allowing
manipulation, which would be necessary for encryption, Ars Technica notes.
ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 21 (UPI) -- Seventy-four percent of
U.S. woman say they have had a mammogram, while 66 percent say they get
mammograms on a regular basis, a survey indicates. However, the national poll by Harris Interactive of 599
adult women age 40 and older, conducted April 28 to 30, indicates 95
percent of women age 40 and older do not know their breast density and
nearly 90 percent do not know denser breast increases the risk of breast
cancer. Nancy M. Cappello, founder of Are You Dense, a non-profit
organization dedicated to informing the public about dense breast
tissue, says the survey indicates 9 percent of doctors discuss breast
density with women. "Prior to finding out I had advanced breast cancer, I had
annual mammograms, I ate healthy and exercised and didn't have a
first-degree relative with breast cancer. But I didn't have all the
information I needed," Cappello says in a statement. "What I didn't know
was that I have dense breast tissue and like two-thirds of
pre-menopausal women and one quarter of post-menopausal women, I have a
much lower chance of having breast cancer detected by a mammogram." However, Dr. Rachel Brem of George Washington University
Medical Faculty Associates in Washington says although ultrasound is a
proven tool in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, it has not
typically been used for screening. "Several studies have shown that for women with dense breast
tissue, supplementing mammograms with ultrasound can increase detection
from 48 percent to 97 percent." More information is at: areyoudense.org.