(not chronological, scroll downward for any added news stories)

Hero Nanny Walks Through Flames to Save Boy's Life

Alyson Myatt bravely runs barefoot through a hallway of flames to save the 5-year-old in her care.

fire.jpg    this song is dedicated to hero Alyson:     

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.


Alaska dog honored for leading troopers to fire

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.

"He's 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.

"I 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.

Shanigan 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 Heinrichs' home.

The workshop was destroyed and a shed was heavily damaged, but only some window trim on the house was scorched.

The 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.

But saving their home beat them all.

"Downright amazing, I would say," said Tom Heinrichs, Ben's father. "Maybe there was some divine intervention."


Hearts of Gold: Forty Billionaires Pledge to Give Bulk of Wealth to Charit

40 billionaires pledge to give away half of wealth

Gates, Buffett lead campaign to persuade America's wealthiest to donate their fortunes 

40 billionaires vow to donate half their wealth

Image: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates
Nati Harnik / AP
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.
updated 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 announced Wednesday.

    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, 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 base.

    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 $250,000.

    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.

    Check out the Trailer for 'Colin Fitz Lives':


    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


    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 environmental Armageddon.

    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 sounds as 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 and roughly $26m (£18m) of his personal fortune developing the patented machine with the help of his elder brother Dan, a scientist. It works like a giant 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 on dry land – it appeared to work as advertised. Yesterday, six of the devices were 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.

    "This is a technology

    that we know works, and has worked for a long time," Costner said, adding that 26 of the machines are now in Louisiana ready to 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 together."

    Costner, 55, has quietly been developing Ocean Therapy since the mid-1990s when he founded the Costner Industries Nevada Corporation, a company which funded eco-friendly research by his brother and a team of scientists. Aside from the water cleaning device, the firm has also invented a non-chemical battery.

    Each of the 26 Heath Robinson-style machines now in Louisiana waiting to be deployed can clean between 5 and 200 gallons of water a minute, depending on its size, said Costner's lawyer and business partner, John Houghtaling, which means they could in theory mop up oil at the rate it is currently gushing into the Gulf. Polluted sea water which passes through them comes 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 have separation technology," said Houghtaling. "Kevin wrote all the checks for this project. This was one man's vision. Sometimes it takes a star to come in with their money and time to make a difference."

    BP was cautiously optimistic about the machines, saying they could provide a 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 from the ruined Deepwater Horizon rig towards the coast of Florida. Roughly six million gallons of oil have already washed into the Gulf, and is starting to hit the fragile coastal swamps of Louisiana, which are home to an array of rare birds and mammals.

    In Washington, BP is being accused of underestimating the scale of the leak in an effort to protect its reputation. The firm originally said that 1,000 barrels of oil were spilling each day, but later increased that figure to 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. Although one 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 August to plug the leak.

    Costner isn't the only Hollywood star taking an interest in the disaster. The Avatar director James Cameron has offered to make his collection of submarines available to clean-up teams, while Robert Redford is starring in a TV ad sponsored by the Natural Resources Defence Council, which uses the spill to call for the US government to promote clean energy.


    Whale Escort

              Thursday, April 1, 2010 2:03pm PDT :  California surfer receives whale of an escort during marathon paddle

    By: Pete Thomas,

    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.

    Photos: courtesy  paddle with a


    Light rain: Lasers could trigger downpours on demand

    By Claire Bates
    Last updated at 7:55 AM on 4th May 2010

    People in drought-stricken countries could one day create rain clouds on demand thanks to laser technology.

    Physicists have 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.

    cloud creating

    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 form.

    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.

    They 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.

    rainy day

    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 high. 

    Laser physics expert Roland Sauerbrey, from the FZD Dresden-Rossendorf Research Centre in Germany, was impressed with the results.

    'This is the first time that a laser has been used to cause condensation outdoors,' he told

    The researchers 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 way.

    The research appears in the latest edition of Nature Photonics.

    Read more:


    Energy Out of the Blue

    Mar 2, 2010

    Positive News Issue
    A new wave-energy device has become operational off the north coast of Scotland.

    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 electricity.

    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 family homes.

    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 best technology."

    Contact: Aquamarine Power,
    10 Saint Andrew Square,  
    Edinburgh, EH2 2AF
    Tel: +44 (0)131 718 6011

    Oyster, the world's largest working
    hydro-electric wave-energy converter
    Photo: © Aquamarine Power

    Berkeley author knows toxic, throwaway culture

    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 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.

    Frugal mother

    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 attack

    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.

    Source: The Story of Stuff Project


    Even Wild Animals Are Grateful and Love to Hug


    Amma   8 / 8 / 07   on  20/20  (Amma has given over 26 million hugs)

    Even Fox loves Amma.  Neat.


                            WOW  !      I don't know how I should feel about this next one

    Public release date: 21-Jul-2010

    Contact: Jennifer Donovan
    Michigan Technological University

    Now you see it, now you don't

    An invisibility cloak made of glass

    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 human eye.

    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 it invisible.

    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.




    Courthouse News Service

    Monday, July 19, 2010Last Update: 10:16 AM PT

    $500,000 Damages in Genetic Rice Trial

         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 marketed.
         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.
         The 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

    Monsanto Sues More Small Family Farmers

            SchmeiserPercy Schmeiser is a farmer from Saskatchewan Canada, whose Canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto's genetically engineered Round-Up Ready Canola by pollen from a nearby farm. Monsanto says it doesn't matter how the contamination took place, and is therefore demanding Schmeiser pay their Technology Fee (the fee farmers must pay to grow Monsanto's genetically engineered products). According to Schmeiser, "I never had anything to do with Monsanto, outside of buying chemicals. I never signed a contract.

    If I would go to St. Louis (Monsanto Headquarters) and contaminate their plots - destroy what they have worked on for 40 years - I think I would be put in jail and the key thrown away."

    Rodney Nelson's family farm is being forced into a similar lawsuit by Monsanto.

    Support Schmeiser, Nelson and hundreds of other farmers who are being forced to pay Monsanto to have their fields contaminated by genetically modified organisms.

    Monsanto Brings Small Family Dairy to Court

    Oakhurst Dairy has been owned and operated by the same Maine family since 1921, and Monsanto recently attempted to put them out of business. Oakhurst, like many other dairy producers in the U.S., has been responding to consumer demand to provide milk free of rBGH, a synthetic hormone banned (for health reasons) in every industrialized country other than the U.S. Oakhurst

    Monsanto, the number one producer of the rBGH synthetic steroid, sued Oakhurst, claiming they should not have the right to inform their customers that their dairy products do not contain the Monsanto chemical. Given the intense pressure from the transnational corporation, Oakhurst was forced to settle out of court, leaving many other dairies vulnerable 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 into oblivion.

    Here's where it gets a bit dicier. Two Supreme Court justices have what appear to be direct conflicts of interest.

    Stephen Breyer

    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.

    Clarence Thomas

    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.


    * Read the latest news, join in on Action Alerts, and sign up for OCA’s free newsletter at

    * 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 glyphosate-resistant weeds.

    For entire article please double-click the following address:


    Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto Hybrid Seeds

    Mon May 17, 2010 at 09:41:28 AM PDT

    “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.”[1] 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 organisms (GMOs).

    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.[2]  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.[3]  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.[4]  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 Verrettes.[5]

    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.[6]

    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.”[7] The corporations’ record does not support the claims.

    Together with Syngenta, Dupont and Bayer, Monsanto controls more than half of the world’s seeds.[8] 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.[9]

    “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.[10]

    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.”[11]  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 agriculture.[12]

    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.[13]

    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.[14]

    “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 writing.

    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,, 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.
    3  Ibid.
    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 Davis,
    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 War”
    8  La Vía Campesina, “La Vía Campesina carries out Global Day of Action against Monsanto”, Oct. 16, 2009,
    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,
    13  Organic Consumers Association, “Taxpayers Forced to Fund Monsanto's Poisoning of Third World,” Finland, Minnesota,
    14  Center for Food Security, “Update: CFS Fighting Monsanto in the Supreme Court,” May 11, 2010,


    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 performing it?

    In my humble opinion, it's the sociopath part.

    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 consequences.

    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 Culture."


    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

    Side profile of a girl playing with a toy

    Children 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.

    [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    “Almost all children lie. Those who have better cognitive development lie better because they can cover up their tracks. They may make bankers in later life!”

    His team tested 1,200 children aged 2-16. The most deceitful age, they discovered, was 12, when almost every child tells lies.


    BP admits it 'Photoshopped' official images as oil spill 'cut and paste' row escalates

    BP has ordered staff to stop manipulating photographs of its Gulf of Mexico oil spill response, as the row over its public relations campaign intensifies.

    BP photoshopped helicopter image
    The photo's caption on the BP site reads: 'View of the MC 252 site from the cockpit of a PHI S-92 helicopter 26 June 2010.' Photo: BP

    The oil giant was forced to issue new guidelines to staff to “refrain from doing (sic) cutting-and-pasting” after several official company images were found to have been doctored.

    BP admitted on Thursday that it “Photoshopped” some of its official images that were posted on its website and vowed to stop the embarrassing practice.


    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.....


    Australian News Covers Flouride Debate

    But, before you read the article, you can watch this short Australian Television Report (??? Is Flouride really a poisonous byproducts of fertiilzer, aluminum and other production, harmful to babies, fetus, children....???).  Is Dr. Shesheela's question valid.  She asks, "Why are people being forced to drink poison water?":


    Sunday, Oct. 16, 2005

    Not in My Water Supply
    It hardens teeth and prevents cavities, but 60 years after it began, fluoridation is meeting new resistance


    To read article, click:,9171,1118379,00.html

    Fluoride water  can 'cause cancer' in boys

    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.

    New 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 children.

    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 fluoridated water.

    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, usually legs.

    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.'

    Half 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.

    MPs who have recently voted against fluoridation proposals in Parliament include Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Michael Howard, the Conservative leader.

    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 adverse findings.

    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 doctorate.

    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 medical library.

    Bassin told The Observer her work was still going through the peer-review process, and she hopes that it will then be published.

    Dr Vyvyan Howard, senior lecturer in toxico-pathology at the University of Liverpool, has studied the new material.

    '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 effect.'

    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.

    For more information on flouride, go to:


    $100,000 reward offered in mink-release cases

    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 for releasing mink this year from six ranches in Oregon, Utah and British Columbia.

    The latest mink release came Friday, when someone broke into the Ylipelto’s Fur Farm in Astoria, opening 1,500 mink pens. About 400 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 Teresa Platt, 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 used by dolphins to detect where objects are.

    Blind boy learns how to 'see' using dolphin technique
    Debs Aspland with her son Jamie Photo: Philip Toscano

    Jamie Aspland uses an 'echo location' technique, uttering high-pitch clicks with the sound then rebounding off surfaces to help guide him round obstacles.

    The four-year-old, who was born without his sight, was taught the technique as 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 walk unaided to the park for the first time and steered himself around a fence he was heading straight for.

    Speaking after just three sessions of the therapy, she said: "It's changed our lives. The therapy has been a revelation.

    "Since learning the skill we can walk to the park and Jamie no longer has to hold my hand. He even clicks to find out where the handrails are on our 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 months old.

    As president of World Access for the Blind, Mr Kish has developed a system based on animal sonar to help humans form mental maps of their surroundings.

    He copied the technique dolphins use to navigate their way through the murky depths - using high pitch clicks to penetrate objects and reflect off their internal structure.

    Jamie is able to mirror that behaviour - which complements his use of a cane - by flicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth.

    When the sound waves hit an object, it reflects the energy back to the ear to enable a blind person to decode its size, shape and distance.

    The process is similar to what happens with vision in normal sighted people, 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 understand 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 California.

    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 metres.

    He said: "FlashSonar provides one with information of a fair amount of detail at distances of dozens of metres, depending on the circumstances.

    "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, neural 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 care for Jamie, his twin sister Rosie, who also has learning difficulties, and their autistic brother Kane full time.

    She said she watched nervously after Jamie's first session when he approached 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 therapy 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 life forms into the wild.

    Environmentalists fight to keep synthetic life in lab
    Synthetic mycoides cells Photo: PA

    Craig Venter, a multi-millionaire geneticist, last week announced that he had 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 never released into nature, where it is feared they could prove a threat to the survival of other species.

    The Etc Group has already laid claim to a degree of success after helping to 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 and Technological Advice, could prevent any experiments where the synthetic 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 forms."

    The plans, which have not been formally approved by the Biological Convention, 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 are still poorly understood.

    "We know that lab-created life forms can escape and become biological weapons, and that their use threatens existing natural biodiversity."


    Lettuce Lady Arrested in Jordan

    July – 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.

    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.

    The Jordanian Police arresting Amina Tariq, "Lettuce

    The 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 suffering”.


    It's finally official,  Cancer loves Fructose.  Of course didn't many of us suspect this all along....

    Cancer cells feed on fructose, study finds

    Research shows the refined sugar helps cancer cells proliferate

    Advertisement | ad info
    By Maggie Fox
    updated 8/2/2010 5:58:53 PM ET

    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 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 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 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 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 soda.

    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 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.

    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 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 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 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 (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 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 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.

    (Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


    Heroes next door remind of life’s

    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.

    Instead he lived each day to its fullest.

    All the way to a hero’s end.

    A 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.”

    Because I, 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?

    I’ve never even held a real job. Hopefully I never will.

    I would 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 the quantity.


    JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. His websites include AlohaSchoolofSurfing and ECOWarrior He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha


    Violin Prodigy Helps Rebuild Haitian School

    (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.
    >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 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 hospital.
    "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.

    Mysterious radio waves emitted from nearby galaxy

    • 13:13 14 April 2010 by Stephen Battersby, Glasgow      

    (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.


    New Pictures Show Jupiter Is Missing a Stripe

    Updated: 2 days 23 hours ago
    Print Text Size

    Hugh Collins

    (May 13) -- New pictures of Jupiter show that a huge band of dark clouds that normally surrounds the giant planet has vanished.

    The 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 of Earth.

    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.
    Jupiter with its Southern Equatorial Belt, left, and without, right.
    Anthony Wesley,  The Planetary Society
    The 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."

    This 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.

    The 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 surface.

    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 "You can be sure there is always something violent and interesting going on."


    Berlin 1990


    German Robin Hood Banker

    (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 profit personally.
    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 suspected

    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.[1]  --  "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."[2]  --  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."[3]  --  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....


    From (a great site)

    Thursday, January 28th, 2010  -  Associated Press

    by Hillel Italie, AP National Writer

    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)

    Howard 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, Mass.

    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 graphic novel.

    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 war resisters.

    Even liberal 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 historian."

    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 history.

    "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 memory."

    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 son, A.J.

    Zinn 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 confrontation.

    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"

    He 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 Atlanta.

    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 blacks.

    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.

    One 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 Obama.

    "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 direction."

    Zinn's longtime wife and collaborator, Roslyn, died in 2008. They had two children, Myla and Jeff.

    Written by Hillel Italie, AP National Writer
    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten , or redistributed.

    Photos courtesy of AP Photo, Robert Shetterly
    Images created by Dima Gavrysh, Michael Dwyer, Robert Shetterly
    Last changed on: 1/28/2010

    Howard Zinn For more of the writings, essays and commentaries of this great American

    Americans Who Tell The Truth A collection of portraits and quotes - paintings by Robert Shetterly For a collection of quotes made by Howard Zinn


    It's Better To Drink Beer After Exercise Than Water

    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 physical exertion.

    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.


    Trained monkeys come to aid of maimed US soldiers

    US soldiers maimed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been given trained monkeys to help them with everyday tasks.


    Chimps mentally map fruit trees

    Matt Walker
    Editor, Earth News

    A female chimpanzee in the dense Taï forest, Ivory Coast

    Where next?

    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.

    More 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 fruit.

    Acquiring such an ability might have helped drive the evolution of sophisticated primate brains.

    Emmanuelle 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.

    The 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 feed from.

    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.

    Chimpanzees walking in the Taï forest, with mother carrying her
                                    baby on her back
    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.

    "We think it is fair to assume that chimpanzees can remember the exact location of probably thousands of trees," says Normand.

    Of two 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 five-and-a-half days.

    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 chimpanzee eating some leaves on an inselberg
    A male chimp has to make do with eating leaves not fruit

    "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."

    Intriguingly, 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 Normand.

    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.

    "That's 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.

    Compared 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 intelligence.


    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,” Hans Joachim 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 heat-trapping gases.

    “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.

    Sea Levels

    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 study said.

    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.

    Doing-Nothing Cost

    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 10-school International 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.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at

    Last Updated: June 18, 2009 11:57 EDT


    Climate Change Causes 300,000 Deaths a Year, Controversial Study Claims

    by Stephanie Rogers 

    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.

    From The New York Times:

    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.


    Record number of rare right whales seen off RI

    By Associated Press
    Friday, April 23, 2010 -

    FALMOUTH — A record number of rare right whales have been spotted in Block Island Sound off Rhode Island.

    Researchers from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Falmouth spotted 98 North Atlantic right whales during an aerial survey Monday.

    Researchers said they circled the area after noticing a "flukeprint" — a smooth patch of water that forms after a whale dives and flexes its tail underwater.

    They expected to spot a couple of animals, but instead counted 98. Tim Cole, the survey team leader, said the area’s previous high was about 25 in 1998.

    There are only about 400 of the whales left after they were nearly hunted to extinction.

    The animal migrates to waters off southern New England every spring. Various mandatory and voluntary vessel speed restrictions are in place to protect the animal.


    Soft drinks can almost double the risk of pancreatic cancer

    By Daily Mail Reporter
    Last updated at 12:39 AM on 9th May 2010

    Here's another reason to avoid soft drinks: It can significantly
                        increase your risk of pancreatic cancer

    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 period.

    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 disease.

    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 insulin production.

    Excess insulin may result in an increase in growth factors and other compounds that may stimulate growth of cancer cells.


    May 9, 2010

    Third of all plants and animals face extinction

    Tree frogs are threatened by the developing world's rising

    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 extinction.”

    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 critically endangered.

    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 respectively.

    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 forecast.


    'Smart dust' aims to monitor everything

    By John D. Sutter, CNN
    May 3, 2010 8:27 a.m. EDT

    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 rice.

    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 environment.

    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.

    "I 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 occasionally.

    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 exploration by measuring rock vibrations and movement, he said. Those sensors, which already have been developed, will cover a 6-square-mile area.

    That will be the largest smart dust deployment to date, he said.

    "We 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 said.

    Smart dust (minus the 'dust')

    Despite the 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 monitor?

    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).

    Wireless 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.

    Smart dust researchers tend to talk in the millions, billions and trillions.

    Some 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 researchers.

    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 said.

    'Real-world web'

    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.

    Wireless 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, Streetline's CEO.

    It also tells the cities if the meters have expired.

    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 or vehicles.

    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.

    Pister 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.

    In this scenario, the billions of people roaming the Earth with cell phones become the "smart dust."

    Bright future

    Smart dust researchers say their theory of monitoring the world -- however it's realized -- will benefit people and the environment.

    More information is better information, Pister said.

    "Having more 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.

    "People ask me what my job is, and I say, well, I'm going to save the world," he said.


    Texas schools board rewrites US history with lessons promoting God and guns

    US Christian conservatives drop references to slave trade and sideline Thomas Jefferson who backed church-state separation

    Cynthia Dunbar

    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.

    The 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.

    "We are 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.

    The new 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 technology.

    There is also a suggestion that the anti-communist witch-hunt by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s may have been justified.

    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 Islamic fundamentalism.

    "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."

    The 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.

    Dunbar 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 classes.

    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."

    On 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.

    "There's 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.

    On the 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 nation.

    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".

    Among 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.

    Conservatives 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, Ethical Marxism.


    Marijuana To Control Alcohol Abuse

    By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
    Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on December 1, 2009

    New Strategy Uses Pot To Control Alcohol AbuseA 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 management.

    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.”

    Source: BioMed Central


    Gulf Wildlife 'Dead Zone' Keeps Growing

    Experts who assessed the Exxon Valdez disaster describe how the Gulf oil spill could affect birds, reptiles, shrimp, fish and other wildlife.

    • An 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.
    Gulf dead zone

    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 monstrosity.

    "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 Exxon Valdez.

    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 populations.

    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 hatching rates."

    "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 populations."

    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
    15 May, 2010, 1423 hrs ISTPTI
    NEW DELHI: India aims to export $1 billion worth of organic products in the next five years as there is greater demand for non-food products such as organic cotton.

    "Five years from now, we should aim at achieving $1 billion in organic products export by harnessing the potential in other products like 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 (NPOP).

    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 the domestic market.

    "We are not concerned about organic products not only for export purpose, but also because environment-friendly farm practises will help achieve sustainable agriculture in the country," he said.

    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 food items as well, he added.

    Speaking about the software, Khullar said the launch of 'Tracenet' at national level to track organic products from farm to gate will help check export of spurious products.

    The user-friendly web-based traceability system (Tracenet) has been developed by APEDA, a statutory body under the Commerce Ministry, to streamline and fasten the process of organic exports.

    According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Tracenet is the world's first software on organic products that can trace details of each consignment up to the farm level.

    The software can be easily accessed anywhere by all stakeholders in the supply chain of organic export from farmers to certificate bodies, it said, adding that it will help establish the credibility of organic 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.


    Researchers Achieve Quantum Teleportation Over 10 Miles of Empty Space

    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 previous achievements.

    The feat brings us closer to communicating information without needing a traditional signal transmission, the researchers note.

    Although it's called teleportation, no matter is really moved. Rather, the quantum state of one object is transferred to another object.

    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' state.

    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 unprecedented achievement.

    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 previous experiments.

    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.



    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Thermography 90, Mammogram 50

    A great boost for the benefits of thermography over breast-cancer-causing mammogram.  It is more effective and better for women under 50.

    Yes!  Thermography's accuracy rate is 90% versus mammogram's 50%.

    It is well past time the ensconced ACS wakes up to newer, better, and safer screening for breast cancer.

    Big Insurance needs to wake up as well!

    Scan that spots breast cancer like a heat seeking missile

    By Jerome Burne
    Last updated at 10:30 AM on 18th May 2010

    A technology originally developed by the U.S. military for night vision could soon help young women cut their risk of developing breast cancer.
    A study due to be published on Wednesday found that this technology - used in medical scanning - vastly improved the chances of spotting early signs of a tumour in women under the age of 50.
    The breast tissue of younger women tends to be denser, which makes conventional mammogram scans less reliable.

    Read more:

    The web site mentioned in this article promotes MRI and ultrasound, also less cancer promoting than mammogram and doing a better diagnostic job as well.

    Dense breast increases cancer risk

    Published: May 21, 2010 at 1:04 AM
    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:


    NZ teen survives 16-story fall onto concrete floor

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand – A 15-year-old New Zealand boy has survived a 16-story plunge from the balcony of his family's apartment onto a concrete floor.

    New Zealand media reported Monday that the boy was playing on a balcony before he fell, dropping through the roof of a parking garage onto the concrete.

    He was in stable condition at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital with a broken wrist, a broken rib, gashed leg and internal injuries, the New Zealand Herald reported.

    The newspaper said the garage roof — made of sheet iron and filled with insulation — may have broken his fall.

    "God must have been with him. He's got an angel looking after him, that's for sure," housekeeper Kaa Wehi, who was working in the building at the time, told the newspaper.

    (I have been waiting for this for almost 30 years)

    From the Daily Telegraph Newspaper, UK

    Fusion research at Iter: unlocking the power of the sun                

    To read, click:

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