Category: Urban Homesteading


Originally posted on Survival Sherpa:

by Todd Walker

“To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” Lao Tzu

 

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I use to look at all the preparedness blogs and books and turn green drooling over all the cool stuff these folks say I needed to survive an emergency, SHTF situation, or TEOTWAWKI.

I’d wake up at crazy hours of the night wondering how I’d get my family to safety in an emergency. I still envy some of my self-reliant heroes and heroine. It’s addictive. But I’ve come to realize that only makes me more stupid.

I’m no expert on anything. I’m a self-professed serial multi-tasker. I consider myself the stupidest survivalist on the planet. I’ve added lots of preparedness knowledge to my brain, but I have to balance my knowledge with wisdom. Taking away things like prepper envy adds wisdom. It’s so unwise to envy what many in…

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by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com

chicken
(NaturalNews) Raising chickens is smart. It provides you a healthy supply of food in the form of chicken eggs, and you’ll even have a source of emergency meat if times get really bad.

Chickens largely take care of themselves. They’re friendly, curious and smart enough to come running when you call them. They’ll devour scorpions, ticks, crickets, and even the occasional small lizard, removing all sorts of insect pests from your property.

I’ve been raising chickens for several years now, both in South America and in Central Texas, and I’d like to pass along what I’ve learned so that you can raise healthy chickens, too!

The secret to avoiding disease: Nutrition and oregano

To keep your chickens healthy, you’ve got to feed them trace minerals. They need strong nutrition to fight off infectious disease. Because they’re literally cooped up during the night, chickens are especially susceptible to diseases that spread easily from one chicken to the next, so you’ve got to keep their immune systems in high gear.

I feed my chickens an organic feed recipe made with things like sea kelp, ground-up crab shells, whole grains and supplemental vitamins and minerals. It’s very nutrient dense.

On top of that, I put a dropper full of oregano oil extract into their water each day. My experience is that chickens who are raised on oregano are far more resistant to disease than chickens without oregano. Oregano replaces antibiotics in chickens, it seems, at least in my experience. I’ve never had to resort to using antibiotics.

I lost several chickens along the way while trying to figure this out. I discovered that colloidal silver in their water didn’t do much, at least not for the Avian Pox disease that some of my chickens caught. (Yeah, chicken pox, literally!)

Sunshine

I am absolutely convinced that chickens need sunlight to stay healthy. My chickens will often lie down on one side and extend one wing in order to allow sunlight to penetrate all the way into (and underneath) that wing. This seems to be a king of “sunning therapy” that chickens pursue by instinct.

If you keep chickens in an artificial indoor environment, you will only encourage the spread of disease, the growth of fungus, and will end up raising weaker chickens with weak immune systems. Sunlight makes chickens stronger, so the more your chickens can get outdoors and run around in the real world, the healthier, happier and more productive they will be.

Cold and wind

A lot of people who are new to raising chickens make the mistake of trying to keep them artificially warm during cold winter nights. As long as you keep chickens out of the wind, they can stay warm on their own, usually with just the help of some cracked corn in the evening. (Food equals warmth when it comes to chickens.)

Birds and ducks do just fine in freezing weather during the winters, have you noticed? So why would chickens need special heaters? Unless you’re living in the frigid north, you don’t need to provide supplemental heat to adult chickens, even in freezing weather.

Baby chicks, of course, will freeze to death very easily, even in mildly cold weather, so you’ve got to keep them warm. But adult chickens are well equipped with their own insulation. The important thing is to keep them out of the wind. That’s why you’ll need a wind-proof chicken coop so that the wind doesn’t sap the warmth out of them during a cold winter’s night.

Chicken breeds

I’ve raised all the following breeds of chickens, and here are my comments about each one:

• Golden Sex Link – Weak immune systems. Not a very hardy breed. Easily bullied by other breeds. Not recommended.

• Americana – Moody and strange. Sometimes anti-social. Beautiful show birds, but not the kind of “utilitarian” birds you really want on a working farm for producing food.

• Leghorn – Great egg layer, not very trusting of people, however. You’ll have trouble catching these birds.

• Delaware (white) – Great hybrid bird for creating eggs and meat, but not the best at either one. They get quite large compared to other breeds, and they have strong appetites. One major drawback to these birds is that they are pure white, making them easy for predators to spot from long distances. More natural-colored birds blend in better with the terrain.

• Barred Rock – I like these birds, they’re easy to handle, fairly productive and seem to be a hardy breed. This is my second-favorite breed.

• Rhode Island Red – By far the strongest survivors of all these breeds, Rhode Island Reds are very close to a perfect breed of farm chicken in my opinion. They’re also relatively friendly and easy to handle. During the spring and summer, my Rhode Island hens are laying 6 – 7 eggs per week, each!

Overall, if you’re new to chickens and you’re looking for the best breed, go with Rhode Island Reds. They’re fantastic layers.

Protecting chickens from predators

Everything in the world wants to eat your chickens. To the wild animals living in the country, your chickens are like walking Happy Meals, just ready to be devoured. So the first thing you need to realize about keeping your chickens alive is that you’ll have to protect them from predators.

If you live in a suburb or a city, you might not have very many natural predators, but if you live out in the country, you’ll attract all sorts of them. To effectively protect your chickens from predators, you’ll need to own, at minimum, one shotgun and one rifle and know how to use them.

Here’s what they’ll be facing (and how to deal with it):

Snakes. When your chicks are small, they’re bite-sized snacks for all sorts of snakes. You’ll need to keep your chicks in a snake-proof cage at night (that’s when snakes hunt). You can also expect to lose a fair number of chicken eggs to non-venomous snakes during the day.

How to deal with snakes? You can lay down some snake repellant made out of cedar wood, but that stuff only lasts a couple of weeks before losing its potency. Here’s my strategy: If it’s a rattlesnake, shoot it and throw it to the birds of prey (far from your chickens, of course). If it’s not a rattlesnake, capture it with a snake grabber (be careful, obviously), drive it at least a mile away, and release it there. Try not to release it in your neighbor’s farm, as that would be rude.

Owls. Owls are vicious, silent night hunters. They can devour fully-grown chickens. Fortunately, owls only hunt at night, so locking your chickens up in an owl-proof coop or cage takes care of that. But if you forget to close the coop, you can fully expect to lose chickens during the night.

Feral cats. Cats love to attack your chickens, just for the fun of it, it seems. Dealing with cats is up to you, but if it’s a domestic cat, I suggest you try to capture it and return it to its owner. I have a “three strikes and you’re out” policy when dealing with cats that attack my chickens. The cat and its owner gets three warnings. After the third attack, the cat gets 62 grains of lead traveling at 2900 fps. Again, people who have never lived in the country can’t imagine this because they’ve never experienced the real world, but out in the country you sometimes have to choose between keeping your chickens alive or shooting a feral animal that’s trying to kill them. This is why every rancher needs an AR-15 or some other rifle (Mini-14, Ruger 10-22, etc.) to take care of persistent predators.

Coyotes. Coyotes would love to eat your chickens if only they could reach them. Fortunately, coyotes are scared of humans, so if your chickens are close enough to your house (and well protected at night), coyotes shouldn’t be able to threaten them. On the rare occasions that coyotes have ventured to within eyesight of my chickens, I’ve simply grabbed my AR-15, fired a single shot in their general direction, and watched them scatter. Coyotes are smart animals and seem to learn from warning shots. (I don’t have experience with foxes so can’t speak about them.)

Raccoons. If you raise chicken with raccoons anywhere around, you will have to deal with raccoons. They can smell chickens a mile away, it seems. I am very reluctant to shoot raccoons and have tried everything imaginable to scare them away without killing them. I’ve hit them with slingshots, tried to scare them with shotgun blasts, and even tried to get my dog to scare them away. So far, the results have been less than ideal. Roxy has killed two or three raccoons already, usually after loud and spectacular battles that left Roxy bloodied more than once. I’ve personally avoided killing at least half a dozen other raccoons that I could have easily shot. Instead, I’ve invested in raccoon traps that cage the animals without harming them. You can then cart them off to a distant location and release them there.

Warning: Be sure to wear very thick leather gloves when handling caged raccoons. They can reach right through the bars of most rodent cages and rip your hand to shreds with their razor-sharp claws.

Hawks and falcons. It wasn’t too long ago that a large falcon — complete with a shrieking falcon cry — tried to eat one of my chickens just a hundred yards from where I’m writing this. I heard a terrible chicken cry, rushed outside to see what was going on, and saw a falcon flying away from one of my chickens, which was still barely alive. Upon inspection, the chicken turned out to be mortally wounded and missing a large part of its chest, so I did the moral thing and put it out of its misery with a couple of shots from my Benelli 12 gauge. I cursed the falcon, blessed the chicken, and made up my mind to mount a 20 gauge Remington on my farm ATV so that I could better defend my chickens in the future.

Are you shocked to read all this? Raising free-range chickens in the country requires a high level of vigilance against predators. Sure, you can raise chickens in a chicken factory without worrying about any of these things, but I want my chickens to eat weeds, bugs and wild foods. I want them to be happy, running around the farm, enjoying their lives while they provide me with eggs. So I refuse to coop them up in an artificial environment, and that means I have to take precautions to protect them from predators.

The good news in this is that all the practice with rifles and shotguns keeps me in top form with firearms — essential tools for living in the country. Like most ranchers and farmers, I now consider it fairly easy to hit a 10″ target at 300 yards, even with a semi-auto battle rifle that isn’t really very accurate compared to bolt-action hunting rifles. It pains me to actually have to shoot something with them, however, so I tend to use guns only as a last resort.

Chicken coops

Whatever chicken coops you decide to use, make sure the bottoms are protected, too. Raccoons and other animals will actually dig underneath the walls of your coop to get inside and steal some chickens.

You’ll also need to clean out your chicken coops from time to time, and this is really one of the great “joys” of owning chickens: raking or shoveling poop by the bucket-load. Chickens are messy, and they produce a lot of poop and dropped feathers. So throw on a pair of gloves and a respirator, and get to it! Somebody’s gotta clean up all the s%*# around the farm, and the sooner you get the job done, the happier (and healthier) your chickens will be.

Make sure your coops can receive some direct sunlight inside by propping open the doors or windows. Sunlight helps prevent mold and fungus from growing inside your coop.

Processing chickens

This is where my experience with chickens comes to a grinding halt. I have absolutely no experience “processing” chickens for food, and I’m not even sure I ever want to do that. For me, it would take a serious global food crisis to get me to start butchering my own chickens, and even then I would first try to barter something with somebody else first. Yes, I’d rather eat somebody else’s chickens than my own!

Fortunately, I’ve stored away a sufficient supply of ranching ammo to barter my way into almost any kind of food I might need in the future. I consider my chickens to be part of the worker team here on the ranch, not a source of food.

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of NaturalNews.com

(NaturalNews) One thing you don’t want to be during the coming “crunch” — a polite word for “collapse” — is dependent on the system. The more you can take care of yourself, the better off you’ll be physically, financially, emotionally and even spiritually. Here are 20 ways to become more self-sufficient while you still can:

1) Get a small solar system that can be used to run a laptop or recharge batteries

2) Drill a water well and install a hand pump or solar-powered DC pump

3) Set up a rainwater collection system or barrel

4) Stash some cash: stock away some green dollar bills and lots of U.S. nickels

5) Own and learn how to use a handgun, rifle and shotgun

6) Store some ammunition

7) Own and know how to use a water filter

8) Start a garden this spring and acquire more food production skills

9) Save garden seeds so you can plant the next generation of food

10) Acquire a wood-burning stove for heat and cooking

11) Possess a large quantity of stored food; enough for at least 90 days

12) Get to know your local farmers and ranchers

13) Store up valuable barter items that are relatively cheap today: Alcohol, coffee, ammo, matches, etc.

14) Safely store extra vehicle fuel (gasoline, diesel) at your home or ranch
Be sure to use fuel stabilizers to extend their life.

15) Learn emergency first aid skills and own first aid supplies
This could save a life or possibly save a trip to the emergency room.

16) Start growing your own medicine
Plant and grow aloe vera, oregano, garlic, cayenne pepper and other medicinal herbs that can replace a surprisingly large number of prescription drugs. Oregano, for example, is a potent antibiotic. Aloe vera treats cuts, scrapes and burns.

17) Own emergency hand-cranked radios so you can tune in to news and announcements
My #1 recommended brand is Freeplay.

18) Boost your immune system with vitamin D and superfoods

19) Increase your level of physical fitness

20) Learn how to raise animals such as rabbits, chickens, goats or cows.

Published on Oct 17, 2012 by

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Environmental

Geoengineering could disrupt rainfall patterns

by Staff Writers
Brussels, Belgium (SPX)


Volcanic eruptions, such as the one of the Karymsky volcano (Russia) in 2004, release sulphur dioxide to the atmosphere, which has a cooling effect. Geoengineering an ‘artificial volcano’ to mimic this release could be a solution to global warming, but one that may have undesirable effects for the Earth. Credit: Photo by Alexander Belousov of the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

A geoengineering solution to climate change could lead to significant rainfall reduction in Europe and North America, a team of European scientists concludes. The researchers studied how models of the Earth in a warm, CO2-rich world respond to an artificial reduction in the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface. The study was published in Earth System Dynamics, an Open Access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).

Tackling climate change by reducing the solar radiation reaching our planet using climate engineering, known also as geoengineering, could result in undesirable effects for the Earth and humankind.

In particular, the work by the team of German, Norwegian, French, and UK scientists shows that disruption of global and regional rainfall patterns is likely in a geoengineered climate.

“Climate engineering cannot be seen as a substitute for a policy pathway of mitigating climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” they conclude in the paper.

Geoengineering techniques to reduce the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface range from mimicking the effects of large volcanic eruptions by releasing sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere to deploying giant mirrors in space. Scientists have proposed these sunlight-reflecting solutions as last-ditch attempts to halt global warming.

But what would such an engineered climate be like?
To answer this question, the researchers studied how four Earth models respond to climate engineering under a specific scenario. This hypothetical scenario assumes a world with a CO2 concentration that is four times higher than preindustrial levels, but where the extra heat caused by such an increase is balanced by a reduction of radiation we receive from the Sun.

“A quadrupling of CO2 is at the upper end, but still in the range of what is considered possible at the end of the 21st century,” says Hauke Schmidt, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany and lead author of the paper.

Under the scenario studied, rainfall strongly decreases – by about 15 percent (some 100 millimetres of rain per year) of preindustrial precipitation values – in large areas of North America and northern Eurasia.

Over central South America, all models show a decrease in rainfall that reaches more than 20 percent in parts of the Amazon region. Other tropical regions see similar changes, both negative and positive. Overall, global rainfall is reduced by about five percent on average in all four models studied.

“The impacts of these changes are yet to be addressed, but the main message is that the climate produced by geoengineering is different to any earlier climate even if the global mean temperature of an earlier climate might be reproduced,” says Schmidt.

The authors note that the scenario studied is not intended to be realistic for a potential future application of climate engineering. But the experiment allows the researchers to clearly identify and compare basic responses of the Earth’s climate to geoengineering, laying the groundwork for more detailed future studies.

“This study is the first clean comparison of different models following a strict simulation protocol, allowing us to estimate the robustness of the results. Additionally we are using the newest breed of climate models, the ones that will provide results for the Fifth IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] Report,” explains Schmidt.

The scientists used climate models developed by the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre, the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace in France, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Norwegian scientists developed the fourth Earth model used.

Related Links
European Geosciences Union
Water News – Science, Technology and Politics

Scientists uncover evidence of impending tipping point for Earth

by Staff Writers
Berkeley CA (SPX)


The Earth may be approaching a tipping point due to climate change and increasing population. Credit: Cheng (Lily) Li.

A prestigious group of scientists from around the world is warning that population growth, widespread destruction of natural ecosystems, and climate change may be driving Earth toward an irreversible change in the biosphere, a planet-wide tipping point that would have destructive consequences absent adequate preparation and mitigation.

“It really will be a new world, biologically, at that point,” warns Anthony Barnosky, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of a review paper appearing in the journal Nature.

“The data suggests that there will be a reduction in biodiversity and severe impacts on much of what we depend on to sustain our quality of life, including, for example, fisheries, agriculture, forest products and clean water. This could happen within just a few generations.”

The Nature paper, in which the scientists compare the biological impact of past incidences of global change with processes under way today and assess evidence for what the future holds, appears in an issue devoted to the environment in advance of the June 20-22 United Nations Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The result of such a major shift in the biosphere would be mixed, Barnosky noted, with some plant and animal species disappearing, new mixes of remaining species, and major disruptions in terms of which agricultural crops can grow where.

The paper by 22 internationally known scientists describes an urgent need for better predictive models that are based on a detailed understanding of how the biosphere reacted in the distant past to rapidly changing conditions, including climate and human population growth. In a related development, ground-breaking research to develop the reliable, detailed biological forecasts the paper is calling for is now underway at UC Berkeley.

The endeavor, The Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology, or BiGCB, is a massive undertaking involving more than 100 UC Berkeley scientists from an extraordinary range of disciplines that already has received funding: a $2.5 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and a $1.5 million grant from the Keck Foundation. The paper by Barnosky and others emerged from the first conference convened under the BiGCB’s auspices.

“One key goal of the BiGCB is to understand how plants and animals responded to major shifts in the atmosphere, oceans, and climate in the past, so that scientists can improve their forecasts and policy makers can take the steps necessary to either mitigate or adapt to changes that may be inevitable,” Barnosky said.

“Better predictive models will lead to better decisions in terms of protecting the natural resources future generations will rely on for quality of life and prosperity.” Climate change could also lead to global political instability, according to a U.S. Department of Defense study referred to in the Nature paper.

“UC Berkeley is uniquely positioned to conduct this sort of complex, multi-disciplinary research,” said Graham Fleming, UC Berkeley’s vice chancellor for research. “Our world-class museums hold a treasure trove of biological specimens dating back many millennia that tell the story of how our planet has reacted to climate change in the past.

“That, combined with new technologies and data mining methods used by our distinguished faculty in a broad array of disciplines, will help us decipher the clues to the puzzle of how the biosphere will change as the result of the continued expansion of human activity on our planet.”

One BiGCB project launched last month, with UC Berkeley scientists drilling into Northern California’s Clear Lake, one of the oldest lakes in the world with sediments dating back more than 120,000 years, to determine how past changes in California’s climate impacted local plant and animal populations.

City of Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, chair of the Bay Area Joint Policy Committee, said the BiGCB “is providing the type of research that policy makers urgently need as we work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare the Bay region to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change. To take meaningful actions to protect our region, we first need to understand the serious global and local changes that threaten our natural resources and biodiversity.”

“The Bay Area’s natural systems, which we often take for granted, are absolutely critical to the health and well-being of our people, our economy and the Bay Area’s quality of life,” added Bates.

How close is a global tipping point?

The authors of the Nature review – biologists, ecologists, complex-systems theoreticians, geologists and paleontologists from the United States, Canada, South America and Europe – argue that, although many warning signs are emerging, no one knows how close Earth is to a global tipping point, or if it is inevitable. The scientists urge focused research to identify early warning signs of a global transition and an acceleration of efforts to address the root causes.

“We really do have to be thinking about these global scale tipping points, because even the parts of Earth we are not messing with directly could be prone to some very major changes,” Barnosky said. “And the root cause, ultimately, is human population growth and how many resources each one of us uses.”

Coauthor Elizabeth Hadly from Stanford University said “we may already be past these tipping points in particular regions of the world. I just returned from a trip to the high Himalayas in Nepal, where I witnessed families fighting each other with machetes for wood – wood that they would burn to cook their food in one evening. In places where governments are lacking basic infrastructure, people fend for themselves, and biodiversity suffers. We desperately need global leadership for planet Earth.”

The authors note that studies of small-scale ecosystems show that once 50-90 percent of an area has been altered, the entire ecosystem tips irreversibly into a state far different from the original, in terms of the mix of plant and animal species and their interactions. This situation typically is accompanied by species extinctions and a loss of biodiversity.

Currently, to support a population of 7 billion people, about 43 percent of Earth’s land surface has been converted to agricultural or urban use, with roads cutting through much of the remainder. The population is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2045; at that rate, current trends suggest that half Earth’s land surface will be disturbed by 2025. To Barnosky, this is disturbingly close to a global tipping point.

“Can it really happen? Looking into the past tells us unequivocally that, yes, it can really happen. It has happened. The last glacial/interglacial transition 11,700 years ago was an example of that,” he said, noting that animal diversity still has not recovered from extinctions during that time. “I think that if we want to avoid the most unpleasant surprises, we want to stay away from that 50 percent mark.”

Global change biology

The paper emerged from a conference held at UC Berkeley in 2010 to discuss the idea of a global tipping point, and how to recognize and avoid it.

Following that meeting, 22 of the attendees summarized available evidence of past global state-shifts, the current state of threats to the global environment, and what happened after past tipping points.

They concluded that there is an urgent need for global cooperation to reduce world population growth and per-capita resource use, replace fossil fuels with sustainable sources, develop more efficient food production and distribution without taking over more land, and better manage the land and ocean areas not already dominated by humans as reservoirs of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

“Ideally, we want to be able to predict what could be detrimental biological change in time to steer the boat to where we don’t get to those points,” Barnosky said. “My underlying philosophy is that we want to keep Earth, our life support system, at least as healthy as it is today, in terms of supporting humanity, and forecast when we are going in directions that would reduce our quality of life so that we can avoid that.”

“My view is that humanity is at a crossroads now, where we have to make an active choice,” Barnosky said. “One choice is to acknowledge these issues and potential consequences and try to guide the future (in a way we want to). The other choice is just to throw up our hands and say, ‘Let’s just go on as usual and see what happens.’ My guess is, if we take that latter choice, yes, humanity is going to survive, but we are going to see some effects that will seriously degrade the quality of life for our children and grandchildren.”

Related Links
University of California – Berkeley
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

Carbon storage ‘may cause small earthquakes’

US report finds injecting fracking wastewater underground can trigger seismic activity – with implications for CCS viability

Fracking for shale gas in Pennsylvania Brings Risks and Rewards

A hydraulic fracturing drill rig in Troy, Pennsylvania. Scientists don’t yet know why it appears storing fracking by-product underground carries a higher seismic activity risk than fracking itself. Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground could give rise to small earthquakes, according to a new report from the US National Research Council.

But the authors said there was too little research to be firm on the findings, and called for more work to be done.

The report examined sites where hydraulic fracturing – the practice of blasting dense rocks apart with water, sand and chemicals in order to release tiny bubbles of natural gas trapped within them – had been used. The authors found that fracking in itself carries only a low risk of causing earthquakes of sufficient magnitude to be felt by people.

The finding comes despite a report into the only major shale gas fracking site in the UK, near Blackpool, that found two earth tremors – far too small to do any damage but enough to be felt in nearby villages – were directly linked to the fracking activities.

However, the US report did find evidence that where wastewater was injected underground as a by-product of fracking – a procedure not used in the UK – earthquakes could occur. It is not clear why injecting wastewater underground carries a higher risk of seismic activity than fracking in itself. But the finding has clear implications for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, because that process would also require the injection of large volumes of gas or liquid – in the case of CCS, carbon dioxide under high pressure.

The authors called for more research to show whether these problems occurred with carbon capture and storage and whether they could be avoided.

The report also noted that despite the potential for earthquakes, no significant damage had been caused by fracking in the US. However, some tremors have been felt – similar to those in the Blackpool region – and have given concern to local residents.

The scientists said: “Technologies designed to maintain a balance between the amount of fluid being injected and withdrawn, such as most geothermal and conventional oil and gas development, appear to produce fewer induced seismic events than technologies that do not maintain fluid balance.”

They recommended closer oversight of such activities.

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Cyber Space

Napster Founders Launch Video Chat for Facebook

By Sophie Curtis, Techworld.com

Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning, the founders of music-sharing site Napster, have launched a new browser-based video chat service called Airtime, that allows users to converse with friends and strangers via their Facebook networks.

An Airtime screen session. Source: Ben Baker/AirtimeIn some ways, Airtime is similar to Skype, enabling users to engage in one-to-one video chat with people they know. However, Airtime offers a split video-chat window, so that users can watch YouTube clips together while engaging in video chat.

Airtime also connects strangers based on location and shared Facebook interests. When users log on, they are not only presented with a list of friends they might want to talk to, but also a list of topics they might want to talk about, based on their Facebook “likes.”

By clicking on a topic, such as the TV show “Desperate Housewives,” the user is entered into a video chat with someone else who likes that show. Similar connections can be made on the basis of geographic location.

When the user no longer wants to talk to that person, they can press the Next button to move onto somebody different — a bit like Chatroulette, the once-popular online speed dating site which lost traction when it was overrun by users exposing their body parts.

Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning. Source: Ben Baker / Airtime”There’s something exciting about bringing spontaneity to the internet,” said Parker. “All of your interactions online are constrained by the people you already know. That wasn’t always the case.

“As we move from a social graph to an interest graph, there are great possibilities for our world. That’s what we’re trying to tap into with Airtime,” he added.

The founders made the point that all users are anonymous until they decide to reveal themselves. However, a report in Forbes states that Airtime will monitor video interactions by taking “snapshots of users periodically to ensure site safety.”

Airtime has raised a total of $33 million (£21m) in funding from investors including venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Google’s venture arm, actor Ashton Kutcher and pop star Will.i.am.

The new service was launched at an event in New York last week, attended by celebrities including Jim Carrey, Ed Helms, Alicia Keys, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Joel McHale, Olivia Munn, and Snoop Dogg. However, the event was reportedly riddled with technical glitches, leaving many of the attendees nonplussed.

Facebook already partners with Skype for video chat, and was rumoured to be interested in buying the voice-over-IP service, ahead of Microsoft’s acquisition.

10 Terrible Tech Laws That Have You in Their Bull’s-Eye

Think what Congress and state legislatures do is boring? Read on to see what Internet and/or privacy rights you might lose if some of this misguided legislation passes.

By Christina DesMarais, PCWorld

10 Terrible Tech Laws That Have You in Their BullseyeChild pornography, cyberbullying, online piracy–these are real-world problems that need solutions. But does legislating them away work?

You may think what your state capital or what Capitol Hill is up to is boring and not worth keeping tabs on. But see if you don’t get your juices flowing after reading how your tech freedoms could be reined in by some of the dumb bills we’ve pinpointed in this story.

If lawmakers don’t think through the implications of the legislation they create, they just muck things up further. In fact, this slew of bills at the national and state levels–as well as several international treaty proposals in the works–are outright stupid.

You should be concerned about some of these proposed changes to U.S. law–how will they infringe upon your privacy? And note that a couple of them are in negotiations behind closed doors without public input at all.

H.R. 1981: Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011

The Legislation: If passed, this legislation could force any business offering paid Internet access–airports, hotels, coffee shops, and ISPs–to keep records of users’ online activities, so that if the government ever wants to inspect them, it can.

Why It’s Terrible: Most people want to keep kids safe, but having the government spy on everyone who uses the Internet is not the answer. You’d think there would be other ways to catch perverts that don’t involve such a frightening infringement on the privacy of innocent people.

Status: H.R.1981 is out of committee; it has been placed on the calendar and is slated for discussion in the U.S. House of Representatives at some point.

Why You Should Care: Don’t let the title on this one fool you. H.R. 1981, if made into law, will let the government spy on and keep records of everything you do online.

Hawaii H.B.2288: Hawaiian Data Retention Bill

The Legislation: H.B.2288 would mandate that any company that provides Internet access in Hawaii–not only ISPs, but coffee shops, libraries and workplaces–keep two years of usage records, including the sites users visited and the IP addresses used.

Why It’s Terrible: We’re not talking about the long-term tracking of people suspected of a crime, but everyone who uses the Web in the entire state of Hawaii. Imagine if all that data got into the wrong hands or could be used against people in some way.

Status: The politician who proposed the bill, Rep. Kymberly Pine, an Oahu Republican and the House minority floor leader, backed down from the bill, and it’s been tabled.

Why You Should Care: The Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose motto is “Defending Your Rights in the Digital World,” says H.B.2288 “is one of the most poorly drafted pieces of data retention legislation” that it has ever seen.

New York State S.6779 and A.8688

The Legislation: These bills require a website administrator, upon request, to remove any anonymous comments unless the person who posted it “agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms his or her IP address, legal name, and home address.” It also requires that websites make visible in any section where comments are posted a contact number or e-mail address that people can use to put through removal requests.

Why It’s Terrible: According to EFF analyst Rebecca Jeschke, these bills are flatly unconstitutional. “We have a First amendment right to speak anonymously and certainly people who host their own websites can decide that they only want people to use their real names…But what you can’t do is have the government force people to speak using their real names. We have a history of anonymous speech here in the U.S. from The Federalist Papers through to today.”

Status: Both bills are still in committee.

Why You Should Care: Yes, folks who comment online can be rude and cyberbullying is a problem, but imagine how important discourse on a myriad of topics would decrease if people had to associate their names with them.

Trans Pacific Partnership

What It Is: U.S. negotiators are pushing for copyright measures far more restrictive than currently required by international treaties. According to the EFF, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-nation trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property laws across the globe.”

Why It’s Terrible: It’s even worse than ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) and puts intellectual property governance in the hands of lobbyists. The EFF says the TPP will have a broad impact on citizens’ rights, the future of the Internet’s global infrastructure, and global innovation. And again, this one is being forged largely without input from the public.

Status: The next round of TPP negotiations will be held in San Diego, California, on July 2-10.

Why You Should Care: SOPA backers such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), plus plenty of other corporate entities, are behind the TPP. For more ugly details about the TPP, visit the EFF, where you can use an automated action alert to tell your congressional representatives that you’re against the agreement.

DMCA: Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The Legislation: This one isn’t new, but it’s bad enough to deserve a mention. The DMCA made it illegal to produce and share technology or services that circumvent digital rights management (DRM) technologies that keep you from using digital content in ways that content providers didn’t intend.

Why It’s Terrible: Instead of working against people stealing copyrighted content, DMCA is often used against consumers, scientists, and legitimate competitors. For instance, in 2009 Google said that more than half of the takedown notices it had received under the DMCA were sent by businesses targeting competitors and that more than one third were not valid copyright claims.

Status: The DMCA became law in 1998.

Why You Should Care: Clearly the DMCA didn’t do away with content pirating, or we wouldn’t still see Hollywood trying to push legislation like SOPA or ACTA.

Next: More bad bills (CISPA, SOPA, PIPA, and more).

How Quickly Can Your Password be Cracked?

Analysis: “Strong” isn’t a detailed password-rating; go for a quintillions possible combos, add a symbol.

By Kevin Fogarty, ITworld

Security breaches of mind-numbing size like those at LinkedIn and eHarmony.com set crypto- and security geeks to chattering about weak passwords and lazy users and the importance of non-alphanumeric characters to security.

And insisting on a particular number of characters in a password is just pointless security-fetish control freakishness, right?

Nope. The number and type of characters make a big difference.

[ Stupid security mistakes: Things you missed while doing the hard stuff ]

How big? Adding a symbol eliminates the possibility of a straight dictionary attack (using, literally, words from a dictionary. Adding a symbol, especially an unusual one, makes it much harder to crack even using rainbow tables (collections of alphanumeric combinations, only some of which include symbols).

How big a difference to length and character make?

Look below and pick which password-cracking jobs you’d want to take on if you were a computer. The examples come from the Interactive Brute Force Password Search Space Calculator: at GRC.com, the love child of from former InfoWorld columnist and freeware contributor Steve Gibson

How long would it take to crack my password: (Includes letters and numbers, no upper- or lower-case and no symbols)

Six Characters: 2.25 Billion Possible Combinations

  • Cracking online using web app hitting a target site with one thousand guesses per second: 3.7 weeks.
  • Cracking offline using high-powered servers or desktops (one hundred billion guesses/second): 0.0224 seconds
  • Cracking offline, using massively parallel multiprocessing clusters or grid (one hundred trillion guesses per second: 0.0000224 seconds

Ten Characters: 3.76 Quadrillion Possible Combinations

  • Cracking online using web app hitting a target site with one thousand guesses per second: 3.7 weeks.
  • Cracking offline using high-powered servers or desktops (one hundred billion guesses/second): 10.45 hours
  • Cracking offline, using massively parallel multiprocessing clusters or grid (one hundred trillion guesses per second: 37.61 seconds.

Add a symbol, make the crack several orders of magnitude more difficult:

Six Characters: 7.6 trillion Possible Combinations

  • Cracking online using web app hitting a target site with one thousand guesses per second: 2.4 centuries.
  • Cracking offline using high-powered servers or desktops (one hundred billion guesses/second): 1.26 minutes
  • Cracking offline, using massively parallel multiprocessing clusters or grid (one hundred trillion guesses per second: 0.0756 seconds

Ten Characters: Possible Combinations: 171.3 Xextillion (171,269,557,687,901,638,419; 1.71 x 1020)

  • Cracking online using web app hitting a target site with one thousand guesses per second: 54.46 million centuries.
  • Cracking offline using high-powered servers or desktops (one hundred billion guesses/second) 54.46 years
  • Cracking offline, using massively parallel multiprocessing clusters or grid (one hundred trillion guesses per second: 2.83 weeks.

Take Steve’s advice: go for ten characters, then add a symbol.


For more computing news, visit ITworld. Story copyright © 2011 ITworld Inc. All rights reserved.

‘Do Not Track’ Trend Draws Advertisers’ Ire

Analysis: Microsoft’s plan to make Do Not Track the default in IE10 has been killed dead by the ad industry. Anybody surprised?

By Dan Tynan, ITworld

It seems Microsoft’s decision to turn on the Do Not Track feature in its upcoming Internet Explorer 10 browser by default did not sit well with the online advertising community.

At first, the ad trackers whined really loudly. Then they threatened to hold their breath until they turned blue. When those things didn’t work, they decided to take their Do Not Track toys and go home. (See also “Do-Not-Track Tools: Hands-On Showdown.”)

As of today, the folks building the Do Not Track spec the ad industry and FTC are working to create decided to exclude browsers that have Do Not Track (DNT) turned on by default. The new proposed language [PDF] is here: “An ordinary user agent MUST NOT send a Tracking Preference signal without a user’s explicit consent.”

That means that any browser like IE10 will not be compliant with that spec, and thus its DNT settings will be ignored by the servers dishing out those ads and tracking cookies. Game over. That sound you hear is the fat lady gargling.

The DNT spec is being drafted by three highly respected privacy wonks – Peter Eckersley of the EFF, Jonathan Mayer of Stanford University, and Tom Lowenthal of Mozilla. But it’s pretty clear the ad industry is driving the bus here by refusing to even consider DNT as a default.

To recap the ad industry’s point of view here, if I may: Setting a browser to block tracking by default takes the choice away from consumers. Setting a browser to allow tracking by default doesn’t. That make sense to anyone else out there?

Now the proposed spec also offers a couple of options to be considered. One is that users can access Do Not Track options via some kind of menu option (the state of affairs as it exists today in the major browsers). The other option is that users are prompted the first time they use the browser to make a choice whether they want to be tracked or not.

Of the two, the latter is by far the more preferable. It is the only true way to obtain explicit consent for tracking. But I’d be shocked if the ad industry went along with that, either. Why? Because they know that a lot of people – maybe not a majority, but a large number – would say ‘Don’t track me, bro.’

In fact, according to a survey by Omnicom Media Group, more than 90 percent of Internet users know they are being tracked and would consider using a DNT feature. More than half say they want complete control over what’s being tracked.

(The folks at Ensighten, who make tag management systems for enterprises to help them comply with privacy requirements, have worked up a wicked cool infographic showing the Do Not Track story from all perspectives. You can view the whole schmear here.)

The ad industry is doing everything it can to look like it is playing along with the FTC’s desire to assuage concerns about online tracking, while putting as many barriers in front of consumers as they possibly can.

Whenever I write about Do Not Track (and I’m usually strongly in favor of that notion) I hear from sources in the online ad community who feel very strongly that I am advocating the demise of sites like ITworld and its ilk, if not the entire “free” Internet, by destroying the advertising model these sites rely on. (Though they apparently don’t feel strongly enough to attach their names to any of these statements.)

So I have a question for the ad guys in the audience. Let’s say a miracle happens and it’s suddenly easy for tens of millions of Netizens to say they don’t want their movements tracked across the Web by 800+ companies they’ve never heard of. Let’s say it’s even a majority of the people who go online.

What are you going to do – stop advertising on the Web? Are you going to take the $32 billion you spent last year on Internet ads and pour them into bus benches and billboards? I don’t think so. But you will pour more money into smart TVs and smart phones, where the tracking battles have yet to be fought.

This is why it’s important to set DNT straight now – and give consumers the right to Just Say No.

There’s another option, of course. Split the Internet into free and paid versions. Offer an ad-supported version where tracking is explicit and the surfing is free, and an option where privacy is guaranteed for a fee. Will people actually pay for stuff they’re used to getting for free? I don’t know.

But the fact is, we’re not getting this stuff for free. We are paying for it with our data. The ultimate price for that is something no one can put a dollar figure on.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynanmay have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasmor follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitterand Facebook.

Now read this:

Facebook’s ‘man in the middle’ attack on our data

Making Facebook private won’t protect you

Google’s personalized search results are way too personal

ITworld Today Newsletter


For more computing news, visit ITworld. Story copyright © 2011 ITworld Inc. All rights reserved.

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Survival / Sustainability

 

 

 

A Comprehensive Supply List for Economic Collapse

by M.D. Creekmore (a.k.a Mr. Prepper)  

This guest post is by Bam Bam  and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

The article M.D. posted in last week’s Friday Miscellany on living conditions in Greece really hit home with me. I did a bit more research. There are food shortages. There are shortages of life-saving medications. There are concerns about the power grid. And if the electric grid goes down, clean water may not flow from the tap. In an economic collapse, debit cards may not work; cash will be king. Once awareness of the situation sets in, rioting, looting and violent crime will be the new norm.

If Europe collapses, the United States is sure to follow. This makes me nervous. And when I get nervous, I make lists. This is my best shot at formulating a comprehensive supply list for prepping. Sure, there are other lists on the Internet that claim to be comprehensive. And I have learned much from the lists that I have read. But I wanted to come up with my own list and present it to the Pack. And now for the 50 million dollar question: what have I missed?

If your debit card stopped working tomorrow, would you be ready? Let’s put our minds together and see if we can come up with a comprehensive list of items needed for survival. (I am assuming in what follows that I will not be bugging out. Hence, I have omitted discussion of my BOB.) Assuming you are staying put, what items would you definitely want on hand? Remember the motto: plan today because tomorrow your debit card may not work.

Please note that the order in which the following items are listed is not indicative of their perceived importance—i.e., I did not place cleaning supplies ahead of weaponry and hunting because I felt the former was more important than the latter. Each category is important, hence its inclusion on this list.

Comprehensive Supply List

1. Water Purification

  • Bottled Water
  • Canteen/Camelback
  • Rain Barrel
  • Water Bottle with Filter
  • Water Purification Tablets
  • Pool Shock/Bleach
  • Kettle w/ Lid for Boiling Water
  • Propane Stove
  • Matches/Fire Starter
  • Charcoal and Sand
  • Mosquito Netting
  • Coffee Filters

2. Shelf Stable Foods

  • Wheat
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Beans
  • Dry Milk
  • Honey
  • Sugar
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice
  • Cooking Oil
  • Coffee/Tea
  • Canned Goods
  • Spices
  • Condiments
  • Water Enhancers
  • Baking Essentials (Yeast, Salt, etc.)
  • Sprouting Seeds
  • Non-hybrid Garden Seeds

3. Hygiene Supplies

  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Dental Floss
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Shaving Supplies
  • Baby Wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Insect Spray
  • Sunblock
  • Lotion/Lip Balm
  • Manicure Set (Nail Clippers, Nail Brush, File)

4. First-Aid

  • First-Aid Kit
  • Extra Band-Aids
  • Dental Kit
  • Wound Care
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Listerine Mouth Rinse
  • Antibiotic Ointment
  • Snake Bite Kit
  • Respirator Masks
  • Latex Gloves
  • Scissors

5. Medications

  • Prescription Medication
  • Birth Control
  • Foot Care Products
  • Pain Reliever (Tylenol, Aleve, Aspirin, etc.)
  • Cold Medicine
  • Diarrhea/Constipation Medications
  • Antacid
  • Antibiotics
  • Allergy Medication
  • Vitamins/Supplements
  • EmergenC

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Why raise livestock when I can just hunt?

by M.D. Creekmore (a.k.a Mr. Prepper)  

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  by Chris J

When I bring up survival or preparedness to my friends, family, or co-workers, most just scoff and say things like “Well, I can keep food on my table by hunting.” Apparently, they think that they are the only ones with this idea, and that they will be in the woods alone to have their fill at nature’s table.

What they fail to understand is that others will be doing the same thing. They are right for the first few days of a disaster, when most people are not running out of food yet.

However, if the disaster lasts longer than a couple of weeks, all but the true survivalist will be out of food. Once their meager supplies of food are consumed or spoiled, the village will empty into the surrounding countryside. Deer, squirrels, rabbits, and other choice game will be hunted out within a few weeks. Hungry people will start turning to the less desirable table fare such as raccoons, possums, and rodents. This happened during the Great Depression in my home state of Tennessee.

Deer were made virtually extinct as poor families did their best to live off the land. A wildly successful restocking program in the sixties made deer available to everyone, but let the wood become the sole provider of food for just 5% of the people and you would see deer all but disappear again.

Even if you own thousands of acres, you won’t be able to keep every poacher off your land, and you can’t protect every wild animal that passes through your land. You can more easily protect livestock, though, because it is generally kept close to the farmstead and will rely on you for care.

Defending something in your yard is easier than defending something moving unseen through the woods a mile away. Livestock comes with its own set of issues for the survivalist, though. Most people don’t own enough land to have enough livestock to truly provide for them. In today’s modern agriculture, even large farms don’t raise all of their own animal feed. If the feed truck stopped running, would their livestock simply starve to death?

Below are a few suggestions and thoughts regarding putting food on your table during an extended crisis:

 

 

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

A Cheap and Easy At-Home Survival Food

by M.D. Creekmore (a.k.a Mr. Prepper)  

This is a guest post and entry in our non-fiction writing contest  by Kim B.

Many years ago, my family knew a gentleman in his late fifties whom was living off-the-grid. He had his own garden to supplement his grocery bill, used lanterns for lighting his home and outhouse, heated his home and cooked all of his food with a wood stove and even caught fish once or twice a week right from his own back yard setup.

In all the time that we knew him, normally running into one another at our local post office, we had visited his residence only once as we had not received an invitation until one special day in which he wanted us to see what he had just installed onto his land.

Taking him up on his invite, we drove to his house and upon arrival we received a smile and an outstretched hand. After a bit of conversation and explanation about how he was living he excitedly began to tell us that he turned a pickup canopy upside down and filled it with water which he let warm up for a few weeks before putting several Gold Fish in. He explained that he set it up so that if the fish were to die then he would know that the water was not safe to drink.

Although we have never seen him since, I have never forgotten him and I still think that his creativity was unique and interesting even though it may not have been a foolproof means of ensuring the safety of that water. Personally, I would not use a canopy because it is made of metal that may not be good for ingestion but I think that if he had lined it with the right materials he would have had something there.

Currently, I am preparing to return to an off-the-grid lifestyle on five acres and planning for a live food supply. To save myself some money, time and labor, I have decided to build a few four-foot long by four-foot wide, two-and-a-half to three-foot high, wooden frames in the style of boxes with the corners reinforced with two-by-two’s, line the bottom with several inches of sand and the interior with a thick food-grade plastic. To not only clean up the exterior but to give the walls a little extra support, which I know is not necessary as I have already built and used an identical tank for years, I will use some small concrete blocks all the way around.

Because there may be little to no usage of the grid for many people and stores may no longer have fish and other “cold” or “frozen” foods available, I have planned to fill a few tanks with Gold Fish of different ages so that when I want a fish dinner I can go to the tank, slide open a lightweight one-fourth inch Carpenter cloth-covered top frame that will help to keep vipers and other creatures out, and catch and supplement my diet with the oldest of them. Unless I have enormous tanks with hundreds of adults and babies in them, the supply will not be for eating from on a daily basis but will be there when truly needed.

Fish are cheap to feed, easy to care for and have quite a few offspring when the time comes due and, with proper quarantine, I should be able to keep many of the babies from being eaten by their grandparents and thus a food supply going and ready for another day.

 

Read Full Article Here

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Activism

75% of Japan’s NW Pacific whale hunt unsold: official

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP)

Three-quarters of the tons of meat from Japan’s controversial whale hunt last year was not sold, despite repeated attempts to auction it, officials said on Wednesday.

The Institute of Cetacean Research, a quasi-public body that organises the country’s whaling, said around 75 percent of roughly 1,200 tons of minke, Bryde’s and sei meat from the deep-sea mission did not find buyers.

It is separate from the smaller coastal whaling programmes in northern Japan, whose meat still attracts buyers because it is fresh — as opposed to frozen — and sold in regions with deep whale-eating traditions.

The institute held regular auctions between November and March to sell frozen meat from creatures caught in Northwestern Pacific waters last summer. It was intended to promote whale consumption and increase revenue.

A spokesman for the institute blamed the “disappointing” auction results on food sellers wishing to avoid trouble with anti-whaling activists.

“We have to think about new ways to market whale meat,” he told AFP.

Japan exploits a loophole in the international moratorium on whaling allowing for lethal research.

Anti-whaling nations and environmentalist groups routinely condemn the missions as a cover for commercial whaling that they say threatens the population of the giant marine creatures.

Japan however says the research is necessary to substantiate its view that there is a robust whale population in the world.

Japan also argues that whaling is part of its tradition and accuses Western nations of cultural insensitivity. The country’s powerful fishing industry, as well as right-wing activists, have urged no compromise.

In a recent report, Japanese anti-whaling campaigners said the poor auction results confirmed that Japanese consumers no longer ate a lot of whale meat.

However, the public supports whaling missions, mainly as a demonstration of their outrage against anti-whaling groups which have harassed Japanese whalers, said a report by freelance journalist Junko Sakuma, released by the Iruka and Kujira (Dolphin and Whale) Action Network.

Sakuma, who studied the institute’s auction outcomes, said the top-grade whale meat from the Northwestern Pacific missions still attracted buyers.

But the low general demand for whale meat and Icelandic whale meat imports are creating oversupply, which in turn makes Japan’s whaling programme unsustainable, Sakuma said.

“Among (Japanese whaling officials) who continue research whaling by relying on Japanese sentiment that ‘anti-whalers are outrageous’, there must be people who are secretly thanking Sea Shepherd,” she said.

Sea Shepherd is a militant environmental group that has routinely attacked Japanese whalers on the high seas to hinder the hunt.

Related Links
Follow the Whaling Debate

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Human Rights

Chinese Abortion Photo Causes Controversy

Published on Jun 14, 2012 by

An online photo of Feng Jiamei with her aborted 7-month fetus has sparked outrage in China over its one-child policy.

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Articles of Interest

DARPA Spends $7 Million On Robot Avatar Project

DARPA hopes to create real-life “Avatars” in the near future.

Science fiction fans and robot fanatics are familiar with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the United States Government (more familiarly known as DARPA). They are also familiar with James Cameron’s largely successful movie, Avatar. When the two come together, the line between what is fiction and what is real gets blurred beyond all recognition.

Straight out of the movie, the agency has set aside a $7 million of its $2.8 billion budget to essentially create “autonomous bi-pedal machines” that a handling soldier is able to manipulate on the battlefield. This removes the soldier from the heat of battle, reducing real life casualties and adding a greater degree of safety when performing menial but essential tasks.

Some of these tasks include clearing buildings of enemy hostiles, handling the wounded on the field, and controlling other sentries in the area. DARPA robotics has certainly entertained the concept before, so creating unmanned ground troops may not be as impossible as it seems. While we certainly aren’t expecting to see any Jake Sully-controlled giant blue aliens anytime soon, it’ll definitely be interesting to see what DARPA comes up with in the following years.

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes 'FAIR USE' of any such copyrighted material.]

Environmental

Blowing in the wind: How hidden flower features are crucial for bees

by Staff Writers
Cambridge UK (SPX)


File image.

As gardeners get busy filling tubs and borders with colourful bedding plants, scientists at the Universities of Cambridge and Bristol have discovered more about what makes flowers attractive to bees rather than humans. Published in the British Ecological Society’s journal Functional Ecology, their research reveals that Velcro-like cells on plant petals play a crucial role in helping bees grip flowers – especially when the wind gets up.

The study focuses on special cells found on the surface of petals, whose stunning structure is best seen under an electron microscope. According to lead author, Dr Beverley Glover: “Many of our common garden flowers have beautiful conical cells if you look closely – roses have rounded conical petal cells while petunias have really long cells, giving petunia flowers an almost velvety appearance, particularly visible in the dark-coloured varieties.”

Glover’s group previously discovered that when offered snapdragons with conical cells and a mutant variety without these cells, bees prefer the former because the conical cells help them grip the flower. “It’s a bit like Velcro, with the bee claws locking into the gaps between the cells,” she explains.

Compared with many garden flowers, however, snapdragons have very complicated flowers; bees have to land on a vertical face and pull open a heavy lip to reach the nectar so Glover was not surprised that grip helps. But she wanted to discover how conical cells help bees visiting much simpler flowers.

“Many of our garden flowers like petunias, roses and poppies are very simple saucers with nectar in the bottom, so we wanted to find out why having conical cells to provide grip would be useful for bees landing on these flowers. We hypothesised that maybe the grip helped when the flowers blow in the wind.”

Using two types of petunia, one with conical cells and a mutant line with flat cells, Glover let a group of bumblebees that had never seen petunias before forage in a large box containing both types of flower, and discovered they too preferred the conical-celled flowers.

They then devised a way of mimicking the way flowers move in the wind. “We used a lab shaking platform that we normally use to mix liquids, and put the flowers on that. As we increased the speed of shaking, mimicking increased wind speed, the bees increased their preference for the conical-celled flowers,” she says.

The results, Glover says, give ecologists a deeper insight into the extraordinarily subtle interaction between plant and pollinator. “Nobody knew what these cells were for, and now we have a good answer that works for pretty much all flowers,” she concludes. “It’s is too easy to look at flowers from a human perspective, but when you put yourself into the bee’s shoes you find hidden features of flowers can be crucial to foraging success.”

Katrina Alcorn, Heather Whitney and Beverley Glover (2012). ‘Flower movement increases pollinator preference for flowers with better grip’, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2012.02009.x is published in Functional Ecology on Tuesday 29 May 2012.

Related Links
University of Cambridge
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology

Some butterfly species particularly vulnerable to climate change

by Staff Writers
Corvallis, OR (SPX)


Southern Gatekeeper butterfly.

A recent study of the impact of climate change on butterflies suggests that some species might adapt much better than others, with implications for the pollination and herbivory associated with these and other insect species.

The research, published in Ecological Entomology, examined changes in the life cycles of butterflies at different elevations of a mountain range in central Spain. They served as a model for some of the changes expected to come with warming temperatures, particularly in mountain landscapes.

The researchers found that butterfly species which already tend to emerge later in the year or fly higher in the mountains have evolved to deal with a shorter window of opportunity to reproduce, and as a result may fare worse in a warming climate, compared to those that emerge over a longer time period.

“Insects and plants are at the base of the food pyramid and are extremely important, but they often get less attention when we are studying the ecological impacts of climate change,” said Javier G. Illan, with the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University.

“We’re already expecting localized extinctions of about one third of butterfly species, so we need to understand how climate change will affect those that survive,” he said. “This research makes it clear that some will do a lot better than others.”

Butterflies may be particularly sensitive to a changing climate, Illan said, and make a good model to study the broader range of ecological effects linked to insects. Their flight dates are a relevant indicator of future responses to climate change.

The research was done by Illan’s group in the Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid. It examined 32 butterfly species for five years at various elevations in a Mediterranean mountain range, and the delays in flight dates that occurred as a result of elevation change.

Related Links
Oregon State University
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

A ‘B12 shot’ for marine algae

by Staff Writers
Woods Hole MA (SPX)


Via photosynthesis, marine algae draw huge amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the air, incorporating carbon into their bodies. The algae provide food that sets the food chain in motion. When they die or are eaten, some of the carbon ends up sinking to the ocean depths, where it cannot re-enter the atmosphere.

Scientists have revealed a key cog in the biochemical machinery that allows marine algae at the base of the oceanic food chain to thrive. They have discovered a previously unknown protein in algae that grabs an essential but scarce nutrient out of seawater, vitamin B12.

Many algae, as well as land-dwelling animals, including humans, require B12, but they cannot make it and must either acquire it from the environment or eat food that contains B12. Only certain single-celled bacteria and archaea have the ability to synthesize B12, which is also known as cobalamin.

Studying algal cultures and seawater samples from the Southern Ocean off Antarctica, a team of researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and the J. Craig Venter Institute found a protein they described as “the B12 claw.”

Stationed at the algae’s cell walls, the protein appears to operate by binding B12 in the ocean and helping to bring it into the cell. When B12 supplies are scarce, algae compensate by producing more of the protein, officially known as cobalamin acquisition protein 1, or CBA1. The team reported their findings May 31 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Discovery of CBA1 illuminates a small but vital piece of the fundamental metabolic machinery that allows the growth of marine algae, which have critical impacts on the marine food web and on Earth’s climate.

Via photosynthesis, marine algae draw huge amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from the air, incorporating carbon into their bodies. The algae provide food that sets the food chain in motion. When they die or are eaten, some of the carbon ends up sinking to the ocean depths, where it cannot re-enter the atmosphere.

The discovery also opens the door for industrial or therapeutic applications. Since CBA1 is essential for marine algae growth, it could provide clues to how to promote growth of algae used to manufacture biofuels. Learning to manipulate the B12 biochemical pathways of beneficial or detrimental microbes could eventually lead to antibiotic or antifungal medicines.

To discover CBA1, Erin Bertrand, a graduate student in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography, and her advisor, WHOI biogeochemist Mak Saito used an approach now common in biomedical research but only recently applied to marine science: proteomics, the study of the proteins organisms make to function in their environment and respond to changing conditions.

Among thousands of other proteins present in the algae, they identified the novel CBA1 protein when it increased in abundance when the algae were starved of vitamin B12. They then worked with colleagues at the Venter Institute to demonstrate CBA1’s function and its presence in the oceans.

Bertrand, the study’s lead author, earned a Ph.D. from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography in September 2011 and is now a postdoctoral scientist at the Venter Institute. In addition to Saito, co-authors of the papers are Andrew Allen, Christopher Dupont, Trina Norden-Krichmar, Jing Bai and Ruben Valas of the Venter Institute. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s Marine Microbial Initiative program.

Related Links
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Water News – Science, Technology and Politics
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Cyber Space

Report: Dozens Arrested After Riot at Foxconn Factory

Foxcon  Riot

Dozens of workers at a Foxconn plant in Chengdu, China were arrested this week after a clash with security staff, according to a report.

Taiwan-based Want China Times (WCT) reported that the clash broke out Monday night at a male dormitory for Foxconn workers. Security guards had attempted to stop a thief, when several employees with grudges against the officers forced them away.

The situation rapidly escalated, and up to 1,000 workers eventually joined in, WCT reported. Workers threw trash bins, chairs, pots, bottles, and even fireworks from the upper floors of the building, destroying public facilitates.

The riot ended after two hours, after dorm administrators reported the case to local police and hundreds of officers arrived at the scene to suppress the violence. Dozens were arrested.

In a statement to PCMag.com late Wednesday, Foxconn Technology Group said the incident actually occurred an an off-campus residence.

“We were informed by local law enforcement authorities that late Monday night, several employees of our facility in Chengdu had a disagreement with the owner of a restaurant located in that city,” Foxconn said. “We were also informed that the employees subsequently returned to their off-campus residence, owned and managed by third-party companies, at which time a number of other residents also became involved in the disagreement and local police were called to the scene to restore order. Foxconn is cooperating with local law enforcement authorities on their investigation into this incident.”

Foxconn, the world’s largest electronic contract manufacturer, employs up to 120,000 people at its plant in Chengdu, located in southwestern China. The factory mainly produces liquid crystal displays for electronic products such as Apple’s iPhone.

Foxconn has repeatedly come under fire for harsh working conditions. Late last month, a watchdog group released a study that criticized Foxconn for limited freedoms, inhumane treatment, and unsafe working conditions, among other things. An earlier Apple-commissioned report from the Fair Labor Association found abuses at Foxconn facilities, but said that the firm had agreed to make changes.

ABC’s Nightline also gained access to a Foxconn factory recently, and did not uncover any particularly shocking conditions, while This American Life was forced to retract a controversial episode about Apple factories in China that featured storyteller Mike Daisey. An explosion at the Chengdu factory last year killed two workers and injured 16 others.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated Thursday at 8:40 AM ET to include a statement from Foxconn Technology Group. 

For more from Angela, follow her on Twitter @amoscaritolo.

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Survival / Sustainability

Convert your Lawn by Sheet Mulching

Uploaded by on Dec 17, 2010

An informative slide show with Kat Weiss showing us step by step how to convert your lawn the Bay-Friendly way by using sheet mulching techniques.

Building the Sheet Mulch Garden – pt 1 of 2.wmv

Uploaded by on Jan 6, 2011

The Sheet Mulch Garden can be built on almost any surface. It requires no soil. It is constructed of materials such as lawn clippings, yard waste, and shredded tree trimmings. Part 1 outlines the process.

Building the Sheet Mulch Garden – pt 2 of 2b.wmv

Uploaded by on Jan 6, 2011

The Sheet Mulch Garden can be built on almost any surface. It requires no soil. It is constructed of materials such as lawn clippings, yard waste, and shredded tree trimmings. Part 2 reviews the process with some additional information on community gardens..


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Whistle Blowers

US government withholding evidence in Bradley Manning case?

Published on Jun 6, 2012 by

On Wednesday, Army Private First Class Bradley Manning officially started pre-trial hearings after being held in captivity for more than two years. Manning is being charged for allegedly having a roll in the largest government leak in US history, and if convicted of one of the 22 crimes, aiding the enemy, Manning could end up with a life sentence behind bars. The US government is withholding thousands of documents relating to Manning’s case and Kevin Gosztola, blogger for Dissenter.FireDogLake.com, joins us to discuss if a fair trial for the suspected Wikileaks contributor is possible.

Senior DOJ Officials Knew About & Approved Fast And Furious Gun Running Operation

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Articles of Interest

Californians stock up ahead of foie gras ban

Published on Jun 6, 2012 by

As a state-wide ban on foie gras looms closer in California, chefs and consumers alike are trying to get as much of the French delicacy as they can, including attending foie gras festivals and last dinners.

The ban on its sale, which takes effect on July 1, comes as a result of a controversy over the way it is harvested from ducks and geese.

Foie gras, which means “fatty liver” in French, is produced by force feeding corn to the animals with a tube-like device in order to enlarge their livers.

Al Jazeera’s Bhanu Bhatnagar reports

Where Is The Outrage? US government to deploy thousands of drones over US cities

Judge Andrew Napolitano
TownHall.com

The drones are coming home to roost

For the past few weeks, I have been writing in this column about the government’s use of drones and challenging their constitutionality on Fox News Channel where I work. I once asked on air what Thomas Jefferson would have done if — had drones existed at the time — King George III had sent drones to peer inside the bedroom windows of Monticello. I suspect that Jefferson and his household would have trained their muskets on the drones and taken them down. I offer this historical anachronism as a hypothetical only, not as one who is urging the use of violence against the government.

Nevertheless, what Jeffersonians are among us today? When drones take pictures of us on our private property and in our homes, and the government uses the photos as it wishes, what will we do about it? Jefferson understood that when the government assaults our privacy and dignity, it is the moral equivalent of violence against us. The folks who hear about this, who either laugh or groan, cannot find it humorous or boring that their every move will be monitored and photographed by the government.

Don’t believe me that this is coming? The photos that the drones will take may be retained and used or even distributed to others in the government so long as the “recipient is reasonably perceived to have a specific, lawful governmental function” in requiring them. And for the first time since the Civil War, the federal government will deploy military personnel inside the United States and publicly acknowledge that it is deploying them “to collect information about U.S. persons.”

It gets worse. If the military personnel see something of interest from a drone, they may apply to a military judge or “military commander” for permission to conduct a physical search of the private property that intrigues them. And, any “incidentally acquired information” can be retained or turned over to local law enforcement. What’s next? Prosecutions before military tribunals in the U.S.?

The quoted phrases above are extracted from a now-public 30-page memorandum issued by President Obama’s Secretary of the Air Force on April 23, 2012. The purpose of the memorandum is stated as “balancing … obtaining intelligence information … and protecting individual rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution…” Note the primacy of intelligence gathering over freedom protection, and note the peculiar use of the word “balancing.”

Chicago cops Taser 8-month pregnant woman for parking violation

AFP Photo / Cengiz Yar Jr.

AFP Photo / Cengiz Yar Jr.

 

The superintendent of the Chicago Police Department says that the reason one of his officers used a Taser stun gun on a woman days away from giving birth because “you can’t always tell whether somebody is pregnant.”

At eight-months pregnant, Tiffany Rent says she would think officers would have been aware of her condition before they assaulted and arrested her on Wednesday morning outside a South Side drug store.

“I was standing at the squad car close enough for him to see that I was pregnant,” Rent tells the Chicago Tribune.

The department says nothing was wrong with the ways officers acted, though. According to the police report, Rent “attempted to take off” after being ticketed for parking her car in a space reserved for handicap persons outside of a Chicago Walgreens when she was subjected to an electric pulse from a Taser gun. The maximum fine for using a handicap parking space without authorization in Chicago is $350.

Moments earlier, Rent tore up the citation and said, “I ain’t giving you (expletive),” according to the official report. That, apparently, was enough for cops to use force.

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy says he believes that it isn’t always possible to determine if a suspect is or isn’t pregnant so in the end it’s matter of upholding the law.

“Well, first of all, you can’t always tell whether somebody is pregnant. So, you want to use it where you are overcoming assault or preventing escape. That’s what it boils down to,” Supt. McCarthy tells the Tribune.

To do as much, Rent was shocked by the Taser, then dragged out of her car, forced to the ground and handcuffed — in front of two of her young children and her boyfriend. Joseph Hobbs, the father of the child, suffered a dislocated elbow and was also arrested by police for trying to intervene. Sharita Rent, Tiffany’s sister, tells the Tribune that some officers on the scene reportedly made “nasty, cruel comments” and suggested to the expectant parents that they “call Jesse Jackson.”

“How could you be that cruel to a human being? A pregnant human being?” asks the sister.

Later Wednesday, a nursing supervisor at the Roseland Community Hospital ran tests on Rent and said her unborn child appeared to be in good health, but the expectant mother still has concerns — she has lost two children during pregnancy before.

“That policy has been in effect for quite some time,” McCarthy adds. “Whether or not the policy has been adhered to is going to be examined separately from the investigation into the use of force. So we’ll keep you posted on that, and we’ll see how it plays out.”

The latest incident follows an episode earlier this year in Dekalb County, Georgia where Officer Jerad Wheeler was accused of kicking a woman nine months pregnant, prompting her to receive emergency surgery.

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes 'FAIR USE' of any such copyrighted material.]

Environmental

Genetic engineering: The world’s greatest scam?

Uploaded by on Sep 11, 2009

(French version — http://www.greenpeace.org/ogm)
Genetic engineering is a threat to food security, especially in a changing climate. The introduction of genetically manipulated organisms by choice or by accident grossly undermines sustainable agriculture and in so doing, severely limits the choice of food we can eat.

Once GE plants are released into the environment, they are out of control. If anything goes wrong – they are impossible to recall.

GE contamination threatens biodiversity respected as the global heritage of humankind, and one of our world’s fundamental keys to survival.

Time, place and how wood is used are factors in carbon emissions from deforestation

by Staff Writers
Davis CA (SPX)


File image.

A new study from the University of California, Davis, provides a deeper understanding of the complex global impacts of deforestation on greenhouse gas emissions. The study, published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, reports that the volume of greenhouse gas released when a forest is cleared depends on how the trees will be used and in which part of the world the trees are grown.

When trees are felled to create solid wood products, such as lumber for housing, that wood retains much of its carbon for decades, the researchers found. In contrast, when wood is used for bioenergy or turned into pulp for paper, nearly all of its carbon is released into the atmosphere. Carbon is a major contributor to greenhouse gases.

“We found that 30 years after a forest clearing, between 0 percent and 62 percent of carbon from that forest might remain in storage,” said lead author J. Mason Earles, a doctoral student with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. “Previous models generally assumed that it was all released immediately.”

The researchers analyzed how 169 countries use harvested forests. They learned that the temperate forests found in the United States, Canada and parts of Europe are cleared primarily for use in solid wood products, while the tropical forests of the Southern hemisphere are more often cleared for use in energy and paper production.

“Carbon stored in forests outside Europe, the USA and Canada, for example, in tropical climates such as Brazil and Indonesia, will be almost entirely lost shortly after clearance,” the study states.

The study’s findings have potential implications for biofuel incentives based on greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, if the United States decides to incentivize corn-based ethanol, less profitable crops, such as soybeans, may shift to other countries. And those countries might clear more forests to make way for the new crops. Where those countries are located and how the wood from those forests is used would affect how much carbon would be released into the atmosphere.

Earles said the study provides new information that could help inform climate models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading international body for the assessment of climate change.

“This is just one of the pieces that fit into this land-use issue,” said Earles. Land use is a driving factor of climate change. “We hope it will give climate models some concrete data on emissions factors they can use.”

In addition to Earles, the study, “Timing of carbon emissions from global forest clearance,” was co-authored by Sonia Yeh, a research scientist with the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, and Kenneth E. Skog of the USDA Forest Service.

The study was funded by the California Air Resources Board and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Related Links
University of California – Davis
Forestry News – Global and Local News, Science and Application

Nearly one-tenth of hemisphere’s mammals unlikely to outrun climate change

by Staff Writers
Seattle WA (SPX)


The percentage of mammal species unable to keep pace with climate change in the Americas range from zero and low (blue) to a high of nearly 40 percent (light orange). Credit: U of Washington.

A safe haven could be out of reach for 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals, and as much as 40 percent in certain regions, because the animals just won’t move swiftly enough to outpace climate change. For the past decade scientists have outlined new areas suitable for mammals likely to be displaced as climate change first makes their current habitat inhospitable, then unlivable.

For the first time a new study considers whether mammals will actually be able to move to those new areas before they are overrun by climate change.

Carrie Schloss, University of Washington research analyst in environmental and forest sciences, is lead author of the paper out online the week of May 14 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We underestimate the vulnerability of mammals to climate change when we look at projections of areas with suitable climate but we don’t also include the ability of mammals to move, or disperse, to the new areas,” Schloss said.

Indeed, more than half of the species scientists have in the past projected could expand their ranges in the face of climate change will, instead, see their ranges contract because the animals won’t be able to expand into new areas fast enough, said co-author Josh Lawler, UW associate professor of environmental and forest sciences.

In particular, many of the hemisphere’s species of primates – including tamarins, spider monkeys, marmosets and howler monkeys, some of which are already considered threatened or endangered – will be hard-pressed to outpace climate change, as are the group of species that includes shrews and moles. Winners of the climate change race are likely to come from carnivores like coyotes and wolves, the group that includes deer and caribou, and one that includes armadillos and anteaters.

The analysis looked at 493 mammals in the Western Hemisphere ranging from a moose that weighs 1,800 pounds to a shrew that weighs less than a dime. Only climate change was considered and not other factors that cause animals to disperse, such as competition from other species.

To determine how quickly species must move to new ranges to outpace climate change, UW researchers used previous work by Lawler that reveals areas with climates needed by each species, along with how fast climate change might occur based on 10 global climate models and a mid-high greenhouse gas emission scenario developed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The UW researchers coupled how swiftly a species is able to disperse across the landscape with how often its members make such a move. In this case, the scientists assumed animals dispersed once a generation.

It’s understandable, for example, that a mouse might not get too far because of its size. But if there are many generations born each a year, then that mouse is on the move regularly compared to a mammal that stays several years with its parents in one place before being old enough to reproduce and strike out for new territory.

Western Hemisphere primates, for example, take several years before they are sexually mature. That contributes to their low-dispersal rate and is one reason they look especially vulnerable to climate change, Schloss said. Another reason is that the territory with suitable climate is expected to shrink and so to reach the new areas animals in the tropics must generally go farther than in mountainous regions, where animals can more quickly move to a different elevation and a climate that suits them.

Those factors mean that nearly all the hemisphere’s primates will experience severe reductions in their ranges, Schloss said, on average about 75 percent. At the same time species with high dispersal rates that face slower-paced climate change are expected to expand their ranges.

“Our figures are a fairly conservative – even optimistic – view of what could happen because our approach assumes that animals always go in the direction needed to avoid climate change and at the maximum rate possible for them,” Lawler said.

The researchers were also conservative, he said, in taking into account human-made obstacles such as cities and crop lands that animals encounter. For the overall analysis they used a previously developed formula of “average human influence” that highlights regions where animals are likely to encounter intense human development. It doesn’t take into account transit time if animals must go completely around human-dominated landscapes.

“I think it’s important to point out that in the past when climates have changed – between glacial and interglacial periods when species ranges contracted and expanded – the landscape wasn’t covered with agricultural fields, four-lane highways and parking lots, so species could move much more freely across the landscape,” Lawler said.

“Conservation planners could help some species keep pace with climate change by focusing on connectivity – on linking together areas that could serve as pathways to new territories, particularly where animals will encounter human-land development,” Schloss said.

“For species unable to keep pace, reducing non-climate-related stressors could help make populations more resilient, but ultimately reducing emissions, and therefore reducing the pace of climate change, may be the only certain method to make sure species are able to keep pace with climate change.”

The third co-author of the paper is Tristan Nunez, now at University of California, Berkeley. Both Schloss and Nunez worked with Lawler while earning their master’s degrees. Lawler did this work with support from the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences using, in part, models he previously developed with funding from the Nature Conservancy and the Cedar Tree Foundation.

Related Links
University of Washington
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

One Quarter Of Grouper Species Being Fished To Extinction

by Staff Writers
San Francisco CA (SPX)


Groupers are among the highest priced market reef species (estimated to be a multi-billion dollar per year industry), are highly regarded for the quality of their flesh, and are often among the first reef fishes to be overexploited.

Groupers, a family of fishes often found in coral reefs and prized for their quality of flesh, are facing critical threats to their survival. As part of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, a team of scientists has spent the past ten years assessing the status of 163 grouper species worldwide.

They report that 20 species (12%) are at risk of extinction if current overfishing trends continue, and an additional 22 species (13%) are Near Threatened. These findings were published online on April 28 in the journal Fish and Fisheries.

“Fish are one of the last animal resources commercially harvested from the wild by humans, and groupers are among the most desirable fishes,” said Dr. Luiz Rocha, Curator of Ichthyology at the California Academy of Sciences, and one of the paper’s authors.

“Unfortunately, the false perception that marine resources are infinite is still common in our society, and in order to preserve groupers and other marine resources we need to reverse this old mentality.”

The team estimates that at least 90,000,000 groupers were captured in 2009. This represents more than 275,000 metric tonnes of fish, an increase of 25% from 1999, and 1600% greater than 1950 figures. The Caribbean Sea, coastal Brazil, and Southeast Asia are home to a disproportionately high number of the 20 Threatened grouper species. (A species is considered “Threatened” if it is Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable under IUCN criteria.)

Groupers are among the highest priced market reef species (estimated to be a multi-billion dollar per year industry), are highly regarded for the quality of their flesh, and are often among the first reef fishes to be overexploited. Their disappearance from coral reefs could upset the ecological balance of these threatened ecosystems, since they are ubiquitous predators and may play a large role in controlling the abundance of animals farther down the food chain.

Unfortunately, groupers take many years (typically 5-10) to become sexually mature, making them vulnerable for a relatively long time before they can reproduce and replenish their populations.

In addition, fisheries have exploited their natural behavior of gathering in great numbers during the breeding season. The scientists also conclude that grouper farming (mariculture) has not mitigated overfishing in the wild.

Although the prognosis is poor for the restoration and successful conservation of Threatened grouper species, the authors do recommend some courses of action, including optimizing the size and location of Marine Protected Areas, minimum size limits for individual fish, quotas on the amount of catch, limits on the number of fishers, and seasonal protection during the breeding season.

However, the scientists stress that “community awareness and acceptance, and effective enforcement are paramount” for successful implementation, as well as “action at the consumer end of the supply chain by empowering customers to make better seafood choices.”

These findings are posted online here.

Related Links
California Academy of Sciences
Darwin Today At TerraDaily.com

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Cyber Space

Debut of Cut-Rate Mobile Plan Marred by Alleged Malicious Attack

The launch of a cut-rate unlimited $39-a-month mobile plan offered by upstart Voyager Mobile was marred Tuesday by what the company claims is “a malicious network attack to its primary website.”

By Daniel Ionescu, PCWorld

The launch of a cut-rate unlimited $39-a-month mobile plan offered by upstart Voyager Mobile was marred Tuesday by what the company claims is “a malicious network attack to its primary website.” The company now says it’s postponing the launch of its budget plan until an unspecified date.

The company had generated buzz for its low prices. Voyager Mobile had planned to offer a contract-free $19 per month that included unlimited calls and texts. A second plan included a $39 plan that included unlimited calls, text and 3G/4G data. Voyager Mobile had planned to piggyback its service on Sprint’s network and operate as a mobile virtual network operator (MNVO).

Voyager Mobile would also resell some of the most popular Android smartphones on Sprint such as the Motorola Photon 4G, Samsung Galaxy Epic 4G Touch, and some yet-unnamed Windows Phone 7 devices, USB dongles and mobile hotspots. The company was meant to unveil its website on Tuesday at 6AM ET.

Voyager Posted a note to its website: “Due to the network outage, Voyager Mobile is postponing its launch to a time and date in the very near future. Our goal of low cost wireless service for all will not be undermined and we strive to continue the voyage for a better wireless world.”

Voyager declined to comment when asked about the alleged attack. It’s also unclear why any group or individual would target this company.

US Postal Service Won’t Fly iPads, iPhones, MacBooks out of Country

By Karen Haslam, macworld.co.uk

From 16 May it will not be possible to ship iPads, iPhones or laptops overseas from the US using the United States Postal Service (USPS).

USPS believes that lithium batteries – which feature in devices including the iPad, iPhone, MacBooks, and other smartphones, laptops, and tablets – pose too great of a risk to be shipped overseas. An amendment to the company’s documentation states: “lithium batteries are not permitted in international mail.”

The USPS will still allow these products to be shipped within the US. UPS and FedEx will continue to ship such items overseas, however.

The revised Mailings of Lithium Batteries document states: “Primary lithium metal or lithium alloy (nonrechargeable) cells and batteries or secondary lithium-ion cells and batteries (rechargeable) are prohibited when mailed internationally or to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location”.

USPS will lift the restriction in January 2013, however. The document explains: “On 1 January 2013, customers will be able to mail specific quantities of lithium batteries internationally (including to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location) when the batteries are properly installed in the personal electronic devices they are intended to operate.”

The January 2013 modification is due to changes in international standards that USPS is aware of following discussion with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU). “International standards have recently been the subject of discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU),” states USPS in its documentation.

Apple is reported to have opposed stricter regulations restricting lithium-battery shipments by air.

The reason for regulations regarding the transportation of lithium-batteries by air is that they can spontaneously combust. The UN rules, which will become effective on 1 January 2013, state that pilots must be notified when lithium batteries are on a flight, shipments should be labelled as hazardous materials, and employees should have training in handling such cargo.

There have been several plane crashes directly attributed to exploding lithium batteries in the last few years, according to reports.

Facebook Users Don’t Trust Site on Privacy Issues

By Ian Paul, PCWorld

Facebook Users Don't Trust Site on Privacy IssuesFacebook lays claim to more than 900 million members across the globe and may have a massive initial public offering in the coming days, but a new poll says users have trust issues with the social networking site. More than half of those surveyed, 59 percent, said they had little to no trust that Facebook would keep their information private, according to an AP-CNBC poll. The study also found that 54 percent of the survey’s 1,004 respondents would not “feel safe at all” purchasing goods and services through the world’s largest social network.

The news that Facebook users do not trust the company to keep their information private is hardly surprising given the social network’s shady past with privacy-related issues. Concerns over privacy changes involving new products such as Beacon, frictionless sharing, Instant Personalization, and Places always make headlines. And seemingly never-ending changes to Facebook’s terms of service and privacy policy allow users to think twice about trusting Facebook.

Despite Facebook’s privacy challenges, however, the social network keeps on growing, and users continue to share their most personal information with a company they reportedly don’t trust. Facebook in July 2010 claimed 500 million users and in the less than two years since the social network has nearly doubled its user base. And despite Facebook’s privacy woes, it is still one of the most popular sites for sharing photos with an average of more than 300 million images uploaded daily for the three months ending March 31, according to the company.

Facebook Users Don't Trust Site on Privacy IssuesDespite Facebook’s privacy trust problems, the finding that Facebook is not trusted when it comes to online purchases is a little surprising. To purchase items on Facebook you need to buy Facebook credits, which are only available through Facebook itself. Users can then use these credits to buy virtual items in popular games such as Zynga’s Farmville, rent movies, and, perhaps coming soon, self-promote your own posts.

Facebook does have to contend with malicious software stealing user credentials and clickjacking scams, but the company is also pretty active when it comes to security (sometimes too much so). Facebook has also offered secure SSL encryption since 2011. Some users may be wary about Facebook now, but I wonder if that will change as more services start using Facebook credits.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter and Google+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news andanalysis.

Apple E-Book Lawsuit: Steve Jobs Swayed Publisher, Complaint Alleges

By John P. Mello Jr., PCWorld

Apple E-Book Lawsuit: Steve Jobs Swayed Publisher, Complaint AllegesApple cofounder Steve Jobs got directly involved in an alleged conspiracy to fix e-book prices after a publisher balked at participating in the scheme, according to a court document filed by 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

The document, an amended complaint to an antitrust lawsuit by the states and others against Penguin, Macmillan and Apple, was filed in a New York federal district court. A similar lawsuit against the publishers and Apple has been filed by the Department of Justice.

According to the complaint, when one of the conspiring publishers dragged its feet on entering the e-book pricing deal with Apple, Jobs was enlisted to sell high-ranking officials in the publisher’s parent company on the wisdom of the proposed pricing scheme.

“As I see it,” Jobs wrote, the publisher had the following choices:

1. Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99.

2. Keep going with Amazon at $9.99. You will make a bit more money in the short term, but in the medium term Amazon will tell you they will be paying you 70% of $9.99. They have shareholders too.

3. Hold back your books from Amazon. Without a way for customers to buy your ebooks, they will steal them. This will be the start of piracy and once started, there will be no stopping it. Trust me, I’ve seen this happen with my own eyes.

“Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t see any other alternatives. Do You?” he wrote.

Within three days of the letter, the amended complaint noted, the foot-dragging conspiring publisher and its co-conspirators agreed on an “agency” e-book pricing scheme and signed an agency deal with Apple.

In their complaint, the states and others allege that Apple joined publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster in a price-fixing conspiracy and facilitated their scheme to increase e-book prices.

Apple facilitated the alleged conspiracy, the states argue, by bringing the publishers into agreement with one another on how to go about increasing e-book prices.

The publishers’ plan was carried out in two steps, the complaint explained. First, the existing wholesale model for selling books — where retailers decided the price consumers paid for e-books — would be replaced with an agency model in which the publishers controlled the price consumers paid for an e-book. Second, retail e-book prices would be increased.

As a result of the alleged conspiracy, Apple and the publishers “agreed to eliminate e-book retail price competition between Apple and Amazon and other outlets.

Rather than hinder competition, Apple claims its deal with the publishers fostered competition. “The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry,” it said in a statement issued after the Justice Department filed its lawsuit against the company.

“Just as we have allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore,” it added.

However, there’s evidence that the deal Apple cut with the publishers to sell e-books wasn’t as common as the high-tech firm would like the public to believe.

Apple E-Book Lawsuit: Steve Jobs Swayed Publisher, Complaint AllegesThat agreement contains something called a “most-favored nation” clause. Typically, those clauses are included in contracts to protect a buyer from wholesale price fluctuations.

Apple’s most-favored nation clause was different, according to the Justice Department. “[I]nstead of [a clause] designed to protect Apple’s ability to compete, this [clause] was designed to protect Apple from having to compete on price at all, while still maintaining Apple’s 30 percent margin,” the Justice Department said in its complaint against Apple and the publishers.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

LightSquared Declares Bankruptcy After GPS Worries Sank Its Mobile Dream

By Stephen Lawson, IDG News

LightSquared, the startup that planned a nationwide wholesale mobile network only to be shot down by regulators because of GPS interference concerns, is declaring bankruptcy.

The move came after lengthy negotiations with lenders and does not shut down the company’s only commercial operation, a satellite-based mobile service. The bankruptcy is expected to give Philip Falcone, the hedge-fund chief who built LightSquared out of two satellite acquisitions, several months of control over how the company addresses its troubles.

LightSquared wanted to run an LTE mobile broadband network using frequencies next to those used by GPS, which historically had been reserved for satellite service. Part of the promise of LightSquared was the prospect of a wholesale-only provider of LTE capacity to both large and small mobile operators, potentially making the high-speed mobile business in the U.S. more competitive.

However, in February, the FCC said it would kill LightSquared’s planned network because it would interfere with GPS receivers. As a result, LightSquared’s main asset, its spectrum, has little value unless the company can reach another deal with the agency that would give it other spectrum to work with.

Documents detailing the bankruptcy are expected to be released later Monday.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen’s e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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Survival / Sustainability

Three Things Every Newbie Survivalist Should Have

by M.D. Creekmore  

It’s a question I hear a lot from new preppers: “what should I buy first and where do I start?”

And while there are a lot of different answers depending on individual situations and needs, usually my recommendation to those starting out, is to start a food storage program, buy a good water filter and a dual purpose firearm for foraging and protection.

Food Storage Program

Let’s face it most people aren’t familiar with basic foods such as hard red wheat, whole corn, soybeans etc, nor are they conversant with their preparation. So I suggest, beginning survivors start out with foods they are familiar with.

Most canned foods off the grocers shelf have a shelf life of three to five years, make a list of everything your family eats for a week, then buy 10 cases of every non-perishable item on the list.

Even though canned foods have a limited shelf life you’re going to rotate so you’ll always have a fresh supply.

Say you start out with ten cases of chili. Mark each case from 1 to 10. You start with case number 1, when you finish eating it, buy another case and mark it as case number 11. Start on case number 2, when done buy another case and mark it as case number 12 and so on.

Read Full Article Here

Solar Cookers  How to make  your  own and how to use it

CooKit

CooKit.jpg

Panel solar cookers are the first solar cookers that are truly affordable to the world’s neediest. In 1994, a volunteer group of engineers and solar cooks associated with Solar Cookers International developed and produced the CooKit, based on a design by French scientist Roger Bernard. Elegant and deceptively simple looking, it is an affordable, effective and convenient solar cooker. With a few hours of sunshine, the CooKitmakes tasty meals for 5-6 people at gentle temperatures, cooking food and preserving nutrients without burning or drying out. Larger families use two or more cookers.

The CooKit is made of cardboard and foil shaped to reflect maximum sunlight onto a black cooking pot that converts sunlight into thermal (heat) energy. A heat-resistant bag (or similar tranparent cover) surrounds the pot, acting like a greenhouse by allowing sunlight to hit the pot and preventing heat from escaping. It weighs half a kilogram and folds to the size of a big book for easy transport.

The CooKit folds to be about the size of a large notebook when not in use.

CooKits are now produced independently in 25 countries from a wide variety of materials at a cost of $3 – $7 US. Note that you can either build your own CooKit using the plans below or you can order a pre-built Cookit from Solar Cookers International. Your purchase helps support SCI’s work around the world.

CooKits complement other cooking methods needed at night and on cloudy days. Coming about twenty years after the first efforts to replace open fires with improved cooking stoves, the CooKit uses no fuel at all. The CooKit is both user-friendly and environmentally friendly. Families can save scarce, expensive fuel for when they cannot solar cook and when economically capable, add other, higher cost cooking improvements such as modern biomass, smoke hoods, biogas, or liquefied petroleum gas. A single CooKit of normal dimensions (see below) is not able to cook a pot of food large enough to feed a large family. To cook larger amounts of food a box-style cooker may be a better choice.

Solar Cooker Diagram (English)

Solar Oven detailed instruction PDF (English)

For other languages  please  see the  site,  they  have  many  languages  available

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Activism

Occupy organic vegetable gardens – Rebirth of the Victory garden

By JB Bardot, 
(NaturalNews) During World Wars I and II, private citizens were encouraged to plant Victory gardens in an effort to support the war effort and take the strain off the food industry, providing more food for citizens living at home. Little gardens popped up all over the country and they were called Victory gardens because people envisioned a victorious end to strife, sadness and hardship. Victory gardens in the U.S. produced a staggering 40% of the food supply. The Victory garden campaign resulted…

FILE – In this Friday, June 17, 2011 file image made from video released by Change.org, a Saudi Arabian woman drives a car as part of a campaign to defy Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Change.org, File)

OSLO — In May 2011, Manal al-Sharif did something revolutionary: She drove a car.

In most societies this would be far from noteworthy, but in Saudi Arabia, where women are prohibited from getting behind the wheel, it was an act of extraordinary courage. The protest, which she put on YouTube, landed al-Sharif in jail for nine days. It also made her an international figure. In the last year, she has been named one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine and one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people of 2012.”

And last week, the 32-year old Saudi was one of three people awarded the first annual Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the Oslo Freedom Forum.

To attend the conference in Norway, al-Sharif says she was pressured out of her job at the Saudi oil company Aramco. Considering she is a working-class single mother, it couldn’t have been an easy decision to continue her human rights fight in the face of such economic pressures. But, as al-Sharif told The Daily Caller, “if you stand up for your beliefs, there is a price to pay.”

“They pressured me a lot and it was like too much to take,” she said, explaining that while she was not explicitly fired, she was increasingly marginalized at the company for her activism, leading to her exit after coming into conflict again with her bosses over attending the conference.

After first stating that she didn’t “want to talk about” the pressure she has suffered under since her Rosa Parks-like act of defiance, she conceded that the Saudi government does “pressure you a lot, whether directly or indirectly.”

“So they can cause a lot of trouble,” she went on. “They scandalize you, they smear you … they spread all these rumors about you … But it’s up to you how to deal with that pressure. The more pressure it is, the more attacks I get, the more impact I know that I’m making.”

Environmentalist group laud Supreme Court move to look into country’s GMO approval system

A recent move by the Supreme Court stop commercial production of genetically-modified Bt eggplant in the Philippines was welcomed by a group of environmentalists and concerned individuals

    • By Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent

Manila: A recent move by the Supreme Court stop commercial production of genetically-modified Bt eggplant in the Philippines was welcomed by a group of environmentalists and concerned individuals.Greanpeace said the Supreme Court decision to grant a Writ of Kalikasan in favour of stopping Bt eggplant field trials in the country while further studies are being conducted is a step forward in the fight against so-called “Frankenstein” food that harm not only the human body but the environment as well.

Many independent scientific studies provide clear evidence that GMOs such as Bt eggplant, as well as Bt corn, can negatively impact the liver, kidneys or blood when ingested”

               Greenpeace

“Greenpeace believes the granting of the Writ of Kalikasan to be a recognition of the threats that GMOs pose to human health and the environment. We welcome this as a positive development: GMOs and GMO field trials clearly violate every Filipino’s constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology, and their invasion into our fields and our diets must be stopped,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The Writ of Kalikasan (Nature) is a legal remedy designed for the protection of one’s constitutional right to a healthy environment.

In the same breath, Greenpeace called for greater scrutiny of the country’s GMO approval system as it welcomed the Supreme Court decision to stop field trials of the genetically-modified organism (GMO) Bt eggplant in the Philippines.“The Supreme Court has given hope to Filipinos as its decision now puts into the spotlight the country’s flawed GMO approval system which has never rejected any GMO application, allowing dangerous GMO crops to be eaten and planted by Filipinos. This is an outrage and such a regulatory system which clearly disregards public good must be scrapped,” he added.

According to Greenpeace, there are serious uncertainties regarding the safety and long-term impacts of GMOs.

“Many independent scientific studies provide clear evidence that GMOs such as Bt eggplant, as well as Bt corn, can negatively impact the liver, kidneys or blood when ingested,” the group said.

Last April 26, petitioners led by Leo Avila of Davao City Agriculturist Office, Atty. Maria Paz Luna, former Senator Orlando Mercado and Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Von Hernandez filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Kalikasan against GMO field trials.

The petition seeks to immediately stop the field trials of Bt eggplant. It also puts into question the flawed government regulatory process for approving GMOs and ensuring the safety of GMOs first on health and environmental grounds before they are released into the open.

Despite the scientific doubt that surrounds GMO food crops, the Philippines has never rejected any GMO application, approving, since 2002, a total of 67 GMOs for importation, consumption and propagation.

Most of these GMOs are approved as food for Filipinos.
While other countries are taking the precautionary approach to GMOs, Greenpeace said the Philippine Department of Agriculture has done exactly the opposite.

Walker’s World: Europe’s voters revolt

by Martin Walker
Munich, Germany (UPI)

The anti-austerity revolt of European voters continued Sunday when electors in a key German province gave Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats just 28 percent of the vote, the party’s lowest perentage since 1948.

This is a grim time to be in office in Europe. Voters have turned out governments in Britain, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Spain, France and Greece. And while Merkel remains in office at the national level and remains personally popular, her own coalition with Bavaria’s Christian Social party is fraying badly.

How much of Sunday’s vote was against the austerity that Merkel is forcing upon Europe and how much a reaction against the way Germany continues reluctantly to bail out the bankrupt European partners is an open question. Either way, it means voters are losing trust in Merkel’s economic stewardship, even though Germany has recovered more strongly from the crisis than any other European economy.

Sunday’s vote also reflected the ongoing crisis of the traditional two-party system, with smaller German parties continuing to take votes from the big two — Merkel’s Christian Democrats and the moderate-left Social Democrats. The Greens got 12 percent, the centrist Free Democrats recovered to 8 percent and the bizarre new Pirate Party, committed to Internet freedom and votes for teenagers, repeated its earlier success in Berlin.

All this took place as Greece slid further down the slope toward what the markets are calling “Grexit,” a Greek exit from the euro, which many fear would trigger Europe’s biggest crisis since World War II. After their chaotic elections and inability to form a coalition government, it isn’t easy to see how Greece musters the political will to make the budget cuts and suffer the economic pain required to remain inside the euro.

But if Greece goes, it is also not easy to see how to prevent the contagion spreading to Portugal, Spain and even Italy as depositors take their euros from their own national banks and deposit them in safer German banks, rather than see savings eroded by devaluation.

The dirty secret here is that on close examination Germany’s economic situation, despite its strong manufacturing sector and massive export trade, isn’t nearly as strong as it looks.

Germany’s Market Economy Foundation reports that in addition to the official national debt of roughly $2.6 trillion, there are $5.9 trillion in future benefit promises to retirees, the sick and people requiring nursing care. These are commitments that aren’t documented in official budgets nor has any provision been made to finance them. When these commitments are included, Germany’s real debt isn’t the “official” 80 percent of gross domestic product but 276 percent.

Moreover, the disguised way in which Germany has continued to bail out the weaker Europeans is becoming a serious public issue. This is done through the “Target2″ system of the European Central Bank, where the debits and credits of the various eurozone members are held.

There has been a sharp jump in the Bundesbank’s Target2 claims within the European Central Bank’s internal payment network from $706 billion in February to $795 billion in March. Bundesbank claims have risen six-fold since 2008. Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann is demanding collateral from weaker states for Target2 transfers.

These German credits, equivalent to $800 billion, are balanced by debts of Greek, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian central banks of almost $850 billion. So long as the German central bank doesn’t demand its money, it is in effect bankrolling the other European partners. And since this is done between central banks, there has been no parliamentary authorization for this hidden bailout.

“The euro-system is near explosion,” said Professor Hans-Werner Sinn, head of Germany’s IFO Institute, addressing Austria’s Economics Academy on April 19. “This enormous international credit should have been subjected to the parliaments of Europe.”

He may well be right. But the voters seem intent on throwing the parliaments of Europe into disarray or into coalitions that are either unworkable or impotent to take the decisive action required.

This might not be so alarming, were it not that even bigger political challenges lie in wait for Europe. Its social contract and generous welfare state is becoming steadily less sustainable as the society ages. More and more people are qualifying for pensions and expensive elderly healthcare while fewer and fewer young people are coming into the labor market and when they do there are few jobs for them.

If things look grim for Europe’s incumbent politician now, they will soon look even worse as they are forced to push through new laws raising the retirement age, curbing pension and welfare payments and raising taxes.

Related Links
Democracy in the 21st century at TerraDaily.com

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Environmental

Michigan growers say disaster unfolding as erratic spring weather zaps cherries, other fruits

  • JOHN FLESHER  Associated Press

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — A disaster is unfolding in Michigan orchards as erratic spring weather causes some of the biggest losses in decades of cherries, apples and other fruits, growers said Thursday.

A rare extended period of summerlike temperatures in March caused trees to blossom early, only to be zapped by an unrelenting series of April frosts and freezes. The one-two punch killed many buds, while recent cold snaps and rainstorms have discouraged honeybees from pollinating those that survived.

Farmers and agricultural extension agents said the tart cherry crop is all but wiped out in most places, while sweet cherries, apples, pears and other fruits are heavily damaged. Juice grapes are another casualty. Many growers probably won’t bother harvesting their meager yields, focusing instead on keeping trees healthy for next year, said Ken Nye, commodity specialist for the Michigan Farm Bureau.

“This is the worst that Michigan has experienced in the past 50 years at least,” Nye said. “I don’t know how far you’d have to go back to find something similar.”

Michigan produces three-fourths of the nation’s tart cherries, used primarily in pies and other food products, and 20 percent of its sweet cherries, a popular table fruit. It ranks third nationally in apple production, behind Washington and New York.

The state is no stranger to spring cold snaps, and experts say orchards remain vulnerable throughout May. The tart cherry crop was a near-total loss a decade ago. What sets this year apart is not just the severity of the damage but the variety of fruits affected.

“We’ve had freezes before, but you’d always have something come through OK,” said David Rabe, who grows apples, tart cherries, peaches and asparagus in Oceana County. “This year, just about everything’s devastated. Asparagus might be the only crop we can harvest.”

Read Full Article Here

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Cyber Space

New York judge rules an IP address is not a person

Published on May 4, 2012 by

A judge in New York has ruled that Internet searches and downloads and other activities done on your personal computer do not mean you are the person behind them. This ruling could cause a problem when it comes to CISPA. In this case, an individual allegedly downloaded an adult film illegally and the judge’s ruling has made many Internet freedom advocates happy. Mitch Stoltz, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, joins us with more.

Android Malware Used to Mask Online Fraud, Says Expert

By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld

Android Malware Used to Mask Online Fraud, Says ExpertAndroid malware being automatically distributed from hacked websites looks like it’s being used to mask online purchases, and could be part of a fraud gang’s new push into mobile, researchers said today.

“The malware essentially turns your Android phone into a tunnel that can bounce network traffic off your phone,” said Kevin Mahaffrey, co-founder and CTO of Lookout Security, a San Francisco-based firm that focuses on Android.

Lookout first published information about the new malware, dubbed “NotCompatible,” on Wednesday. Further analysis, however, has revealed the most likely reason why cyber criminals are spreading the malware.

“There are a couple of ways they can profit from this,” said Mahaffrey in an interview. “One is general online fraud, the other is targeted attacks against enterprises. We haven’t seen any evidence [of the latter], and have confirmed that it is engaged in online purchasing activity.”

Once installed, NotCompatible turns an infected Android device into a proxy, through which hackers can then direct data packets, in essence disguising the real source of that traffic by using the compromised devices as middlemen.

Read Full Article Here

FBI Wants Backdoors in Facebook, Twitter, Skype & Instant Messaging

Eddie Sage | 05 May 2012

http://worldtruth.tv/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/afp-photo-thomas-coex.jpg

CNET learns the FBI is quietly pushing its plan to force surveillance backdoors on social networks, VoIP, and Web e-mail providers, and that the bureau is asking Internet companies not to oppose a law making those back doors mandatory.

The FBI have drafted a proposed law which would extend the abilities of the 1994 CALEA act which established their ability to tap phones across the USA. This law would work with communications companies across the states to establish a threshold for number of users which, once met, would require said communications company to activate surveillance-friendly functions on their network for use by the FBI.

Currently the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act covers telecommunications providers and allows the FBI to tap your phone if they have good cause. That’s all you need to know – it’s a law, it exists, and it’s very real. This most current legislation asks that the government add communications providers beyond what they’ve got covered now – chatting on your computer in any way at all may soon be covered, for example.
The FBI is getting impatient and wants a backdoor to Facebook, Skype, Google Hangouts and other services now to catch evildoers.

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Survival / Sustainability

Free, Homemade Liquid Fertilizers

Make these easy liquid fertilizers — then sit back and watch your seedlings and plants thrive!

By Barbara Pleasant
Liquid Fertilizers
Homemade liquid fertilizers made from free, natural ingredients — such as grass clippings, seaweed, chicken manure and human urine — can give your plants the quick boost of nutrients they need to grow stronger and be more productive.
ILLUSTRATION: ELAYNE SEARS

Many organic gardeners keep a bottle of liquid fish fertilizer on hand to feed young seedlings, plants growing in containers and any garden crop that needs a nutrient boost. But liquid, fish-based fertilizers are often pricey, plus we’re supporting an unsustainable fishing industry by buying them. So, what’s a good alternative?

MOTHER EARTH NEWS commissioned Will Brinton — who holds a doctorate in Environmental Science and is president of Woods End Laboratories in Mt. Vernon, Maine — to develop some water-based, homemade fertilizer recipes using free, natural ingredients, such as grass clippings, seaweed, chicken manure and human urine. His results are summarized on our chart of Homemade Fertilizer Tea Recipes.

Why and When to Use Liquids

Liquid fertilizers are faster-acting than seed meals and other solid organic products, so liquids are your best choice for several purposes. As soon as seedlings have used up the nutrients provided by the sprouted seeds, they benefit from small amounts of fertilizer. This is especially true if you’re using a soil-less seed starting mix (such as a peat-based mix), which helps prevent damping-off but provides a scant supply of nutrients. Seedlings don’t need much in the way of nutrients, but if they noticeably darken in color after you feed them with a liquid fertilizer, that’s evidence they had a need that has been satisfied. Liquid fertilizers are also essential to success with container-grown plants, which depend entirely on their growers for moisture and nutrients. Container-grown plants do best with frequent light feedings of liquid fertilizers, which are immediately distributed throughout the constricted growing area of the containers.

Out in the garden, liquid fertilizers can be invaluable if you’re growing cold-tolerant crops that start growing when soil temperatures are low for example, overwintered spinach or strawberries coaxed into early growth beneath row covers. Nitrogen held in the soil is difficult for plants to take up until soil temperatures rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit or so, meaning plants can experience a slow start because of a temporary nutrient deficit in late winter and early spring. The more you push the spring season by using cloches and row covers to grow early crops of lettuce, broccoli or cabbage in cold soil, the more it will be worth your time to use liquid fertilizers to provide a boost until the soil warms up.

Homemade Fertilizer Tea Recipes

Make these easy liquid fertilizers — then sit back and watch your seedlings and plants thrive!

By Barbara Pleasant

Add the amount of dry ingredients shown in the chart below to a 5-gallon bucket, then add water to fill, and steep for three days. Strain or decant the tea and dilute as shown below. To make fertilizer tea from urine, simply dilute the urine in 20 parts water, and it’s ready to use. Water plants with these solutions no more than once every two weeks.

Check out Free, Homemade Liquid Fertilizers for more information about liquid fertilizers and the many benefits of making your own.

Type Amount Dilute
Dried chicken manure with wood shavings 1/5 bucket 1:1
Seaweed 1/5 bucket none
Fresh grass clippings 2/3 bucket 1:1
Urine 1:20

Best Chicken Breeds for Backyard Flocks

Our latest survey results can help you choose the best chickens for eggs, meat, temperament and more.

By Troy Griepentrog
Hens on pasture
With so many chicken breeds (plus hybrids and crossbred chickens), you’re sure to find the kind of chickens that are just right for your needs.
PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO/KEVIN EAVES

Chickens are the perfect starter livestock for your homestead — whether you have a small backyard in an urban area or 20 acres in the boondocks. Chickens provide eggs, meat and fertilizer, plus they’re small and easy to manage. Several chicken breed charts are available online and in books, but their information is often based on old data. So, to get current information on the best chicken breeds, we developed a survey of our readers who have lots of experience with various breeds. (Many thanks to more than 1,000 readers who participated in the survey.) The summaries below include only results from people who have more than three years’ experience raising chickens. And we only included breeds or hybrids if at least three people responded to questions about them.

Our survey didn’t ask which chicken breeds are prettiest. That’s important, too, but it’s subjective. If you’d like to see what each breed looks like, check out Feathersite.com or get a copy of Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds by Carol Ekarius. It’s an excellent book with outstanding photos.

Pick Your Chicks

Before you decide which chicken breeds to raise, you’ll want to decide which attributes are most important to you: egg production, meat production, temperament or other qualities. If you try a breed for a year or two and decide it isn’t quite what you were  looking for, try another — or try two or three breeds each year to find out which one best suits your needs.

After you’ve selected a breed, use our Hatchery Finder to find mail-order sources near you, or our Directory of Hatcheries and Poultry Breeders to find a chicken hatchery or poultry breeders. Then, ask a few questions before you place your order. Breeders and hatcheries select for different traits. For example, some breeders may select Orpingtons for egg production; others, to meet a certain “type” described in a standard for shows. All birds of a certain breed won’t have identical characteristics. Some people who took our survey said Javas lay dark brown eggs; others said Javas lay tinted eggs. That doesn’t necessarily mean someone is wrong — certain flocks may have been bred to produce darker eggs than others.

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Activism

MK Occupy Minnesota: Drugs & the DRE Program at Peavey Plaza

Published on May 2, 2012 by HongPong

Video documentation by local activists and independent media shows that police officers and county deputies from across Minnesota have been picking up young people near Peavey Plaza for a training program to recognize drug-impaired drivers. Multiple participants say officers gave them illicit drugs and provided other incentives to take the drugs. The Occupy movement, present at Peavey Plaza since April 7th, appears to be targeted as impaired people are dropped off at the Plaza, and others say they’ve been rewarded for offering to snitch on the movement.
~ Got a couple coins? Support our media expenses at http://roguemedia.org

Local independent media activists and members of Communities United Against Police Brutality began investigating police conduct around the Plaza after witnessing police dropping off impaired people at the plaza and hearing rumors that they were offering people drugs. We videotaped police conduct and interviewed participants, learning some very disturbing information about the DRE program.

Officers stated on record the DRE program, run by the Minnesota State Patrol, has no Institutional Review Board or independent oversight. They agreed no ambulances or EMTs were on site at the Richfield MnDOT facility near the airport where most subjects were taken. Multiple times, participants left Peavey Plaza sober, returned intoxicated, and said they’d been given free drugs by law enforcement. We documented on more than one occasion, someone being told they were sober by one officer, and then picked up by a different officer, and returning intoxicated.

Given the dangers of impaired driving, there is value in training law enforcement officers to distinguish between the effects of various drugs and several common medical conditions. However, we have captured video footage of instances in which DRE trainees recruited subjects who are not already impaired, and those participants say they were given drugs by the officers.

Although program documents indicate that participants must sign a waiver, https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/msp/forms-reports/Documents/SFSTSponsorResponsib… there was no indication from any of the participants interviewed that a waiver was offered or obtained. Further, video footage seems to validate the recollections of participants that no medical personnel or ambulance were on site during the observation and testing in Richfield. A DRE officer told one of our investigators that no Institutional Review Board assessment of the program has been made, a requirement of all experiments involving human subjects. Since it’s unethical to encourage people to take drugs–whether by giving them drugs directly or enticing them with food, cigarettes, or other rewards (which participants say they were given)–it is unlikely such a program would pass IRB review as it endangers the test subjects.

According to the WCCO article from May 2011, officer trainees in the past have worked with various non-profit organizations to recruit drug users. It would appear now that they are no longer relying solely on this tactic, instead recruiting users directly and, participants say, providing them with drugs. After the sessions, these individuals are then dropped off in public areas without supportive care, creating a public safety hazard. In an example at Peavey Plaza caught on film, an individual who said he’s been smoking courtesy of the police for an hour, crossed a line of Minneapolis police barricades, climbed to the top of a large sign and sat 15 feet above the sidewalk swinging his arms and legs in front of a police camera.

Our investigation points to particular efforts to target and recruit youth. Further, law enforcement officers have been taped recruiting people from the Peavey Plaza area of Nicollet Mall and have dropped off a number of impaired individuals at Peavey Plaza. In some instances, Minneapolis police squad cars were present while DRE trainees recruited people at Peavey Plaza. After receiving drugs, some subjects were asked to snitch on the Occupy movement or asked about various people and activities of Occupy, they said. Given efforts by the Minneapolis city council to pass an ordinance designed to restrict access to Peavey Plaza by the Occupy movement, the conduct of DRE trainees points to the possibility that they are working hand-in-glove with Minneapolis police to discredit and disrupt the Occupy movement.

“I think most people would be very surprised to have our tax dollars used to get people high,” states Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality. “These activities call into question the methods and motives of this DRE training.”

 

Occupy clashes mark May Day in Seattle, Oakland

License photo

NEW YORK, May 1 (UPI) — May Day protests in Seattle’s retail area turned violent Tuesday when an estimated 50 demonstrators broke windows and clashed with police, authorities said.

The demonstrators, wearing black and wielding poles, dispersed when police in riot gear confronted them, The Seattle Times reported.

Mayor Mike McGinn said at a news conference those demonstrators got rid of their black clothing and rejoined the crowd. He said he had issued an order banning items at the demonstrations that would be used as weapons, the newspaper said.Some Occupy protesters in Oakland came under tear gas attack Tuesday by police who arrested nine demonstrators, authorities said.

The Oakland rally was one of many that took place across the United States.

The nine taken into custody on suspicion of interfering with officers, failing to disperse and related counts were among more than 400 people who showed up at Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza near City Hall, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Police said they used “small amounts of gas” three times against “small groups of people who were committing violent acts,” the newspaper said. Police said yellow paint was thrown at one officer, who was hit by a metal paint can and kicked in the ribs, the newspaper reported.

A television news van and a police van were vandalized, and there were other minor acts of vandalism and graffiti, authorities said.

Mostly, though, the rally was peaceful, the Times said. Among the protesters was Shaina Burnette, 31, who brought her 2-year-old son in a stroller decked with signs that read “Dear Corporate State, Can you please spare some clean air, water and food for my generation? Maybe a couple schools? Animal species? Trees? PLEASE…”

In Chicago, dozens of demonstrators blocked the entrance to a downtown Bank of America branch, police said.

More than two dozen city police officers were at the scene of the sit-in but no arrests had been made, WBBM-TV, Chicago, reported. About 15 of the protesters were ejected from the branch when they tried to go inside to open accounts, the TV station said.

Read Full Article Here

Occupy movement strikes a chord in Seattle

Beyond the few on the streets, many in the middle are taking up the cause.

By Tyrone Beason

 

Karrsen Brannon-Young participates in the Seattle-area Occupy movement almost full-time. He is photographed on Beacon Hill in front of graffiti (left by another person) that reflects the movement's intended inclusiveness.

Enlarge this photoJOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Karrsen Brannon-Young participates in the Seattle-area Occupy movement almost full-time. He is photographed on Beacon Hill in front of graffiti (left by another person) that reflects the movement’s intended inclusiveness.

THERE’S A SMALL sign in the living-room window of Barbara Strindberg and Linnea Skoglund’s home in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood that tells everyone driving or walking by, “We are the 99 Percent.”

It’s a show of support for the Occupy movement that started with protests on Wall Street last year and branched out to cities across the country, including Seattle.

Strindberg and Skoglund, both 60, are the picture of working-class Seattle. Strindberg worked at an electrical-sign company as a graphic designer up until last year.

Skoglund is a retired drawbridge operator who worked for years on the span connecting the Roanoke neighborhood to the University District.

From the outside, they appear to live a comfortable life.

But once you walk through Strindberg and Skoglund’s front door and probe the reasons they’ve joined the Occupy movement in spirit, the full complexity of that “99 percent” idea comes into high relief.

Skoglund, who boasts of being one of the first female longshoremen in Seattle, has multiple sclerosis, and she increasingly requires help performing some tasks and moving around the house she and her partner purchased in 1984, shortly after they began their relationship.

Strindberg left her job a year ago, not to retire and rest easy but to care for Skoglund full time.

The couple lives primarily on Skoglund’s pension, Strindberg’s IRA and regular savings. Skoglund has a generous insurance plan, but it doesn’t cover some equipment she needs. They may have to pay for a wheelchair to go with a special lift they’ve spent their own money to install in the house — an expense that could total thousands of dollars they really can’t afford to spend.

“We were living quite nicely with both of us working,” Strindberg says. Now she’s worried about how long the savings will last, considering the monthly mortgage and insurance premiums of about $400 each per month. “I’m not sure how much longer we can do it.”

Skoglund says her mother, a Swedish immigrant who came through Ellis Island in the 1920s, taught her that “to be self-sustaining is best.”

Lately, though, it’s hard for her and her partner to live by that principle.

Given the kitchen-table concerns of Americans like them, Strindberg and Skoglund say they can’t believe politicians speak of cutting social programs and tax breaks for the middle class while preserving perks for the wealthy and well-connected.

It’s not just that regular folks and the powerful aren’t playing on an even field — it appears to this couple, at least, that those at the top are playing an entirely different game that enriches only themselves.

“More people are fed up than are not fed up” with the nation’s politicians in particular, Strindberg says. “They’re not governing — they’re arguing and fighting.”

Harvard law professor and ethicist Lawrence Lessig put it another way in a recent television appearance: “The most interesting political divide in America right now is between the inside and the outside. The inside is from Mars and the outside is from Earth.”

In his book “One Way Forward: The Outsider’s Guide to Fixing the Republic” he says “movements today are movements without leaders. They are movements of ideas mixed with passion.” This observation perfectly captures the Occupy campaign.

Organizers of the Occupy movement, many of whom are disillusioned with electoral politics, are not like their equally frustrated counterparts in the Tea Party, which had a significant impact in some 2010 congressional races. In fact, Occupy is not set up to morph into an actual party with clear leaders and a platform.

Its members are less interested in running candidates than in amplifying the public’s murmuring unease about the state of politics and the economy.

Signs of the “passion” Lessig talks about are visible everywhere: from the placard someone recently hung above Interstate 5 on Capitol Hill proclaiming “Corporations are not People,” to the cutout of a closed fist hung on a fence along Yesler Way in the Central District that beckons drivers to “Rise,” to the letter board on an industrial building across the street from yacht marinas on Lake Union that screams, “Wake up America . . . Everyone benefits when everyone benefits,” to the more personal message in Strindberg and Skoglund’s living-room window.

Who is the 99 percent? Consider these two answers:

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

Penn State Cooks Up Ouchless Bandages Made of Edible Starch

By Kevin Lee, PCWorld

Kitty!!The general rule for pulling off a bandage is to rip it right off in one instant. But what if it the adhesive melted all over the place or it was applied it to an extremely hairy leg? Ouchies always seem to ensue.

Penn State food researchers Lingyan Kong and Greg Ziegler want to get past the whole sticky ordeal of plastic-based bandages and make ones out of starch. A starch-based bandage could simply melt over time into nutritious glucose that’s absorbed though your skin.

Of course, this is not your basic supermarket potato starch or cornstarch. The scientists are developing their bandages from tiny, finely spun strings of a starch polymer made of amylose and amylopectin.

The starch polymer is first dissolved in a water-and-solvent solution–if the starch was broken down using water alone, it would have turned into a gel. The solution also helps the starch retains its repeating molecular structure.

From there, an electrospinning device spins the solution until it forms long, thread-like strands. The fibers can be woven into a number of things including bandages, paper, toilet paper, napkins, and other biodegradable materials.

Since starch is made up of organic compounds, it is readily biodegradable. The scientists say that starch polymers could be an abundant and eco-friendly replacement for products that typically use cellulose or petroleum-based polymers.

[Penn State via Phys Org / Photo: Normanack on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes 'FAIR USE' of any such copyrighted material.]

Environmental

Rousseff pressed to veto Brazil forestry law

by Staff Writers
Brasilia (AFP) April 26, 2012

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff came under enormous pressure Thursday from environmentalists to veto a new forestry bill they fear will speed up deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

Brazil’s powerful agribusiness sector scored a major victory with congressional approval Wednesday of the forestry code reforms, which Rousseff repeatedly promised to veto while on the campaign trail in 2010.

The current code, which dates back to 1965 and which farmers argue is not respected anyway, limits the use of land for farming and mandates that up to 80 percent of privately-owned land in the Amazon rainforest remains intact.

The new bill would allow landowners to cultivate riverbanks and hillsides that were previously exempt, and would provide an amnesty from fines for illegally clearing trees before July 2008.

Farmers, whose industry represent more than five percent of Brazil’s GDP, argue that the existing legislation is confused, putting economic development at risk and costing valuable investment.

They say the new code would promote sustainable food production and bring an end to severe environmental restrictions that have forced many smaller farmers off their land.

Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies approved the controversial legislation in a 247-184 vote on Wednesday night. The text now goes to Rousseff for ratification after having been approved by the Senate in December.

Paulo Moutinho of the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) warned that if Rousseff did not use her veto, years of successful efforts to rein in the ruination of the Amazon would be jeopardized.

“Without a veto by President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil will lose the gains of the last few years which led the country to curb deforestation. We will lose leadership and credibility,” Moutinho said.

Opponents say the bill will mean more deforestation and warn it will embarrass the country ahead of hosting the Rio+20 in June, a UN gathering aimed at addressing global threats to the environment.

“It grants amnesty to loggers and raises the risk of environmental disasters in major cities,” opposition lawmaker Ricardo Tripoli said as he left Wednesday night’s vote. “Now it is important that the president veto it.”

Gilberto Carvalho, secretary-general for the presidency, said Rousseff would weigh the decision “with a lot of serenity, without animosity,” adding: “We have a great responsibility toward the country.”

A recent study by the University of Brasilia found that the new forestry code would increase deforestation in Brazil by 47 percent by 2020.

Carlos Rittl, a WWF climate expert, called it the “biggest environmental retreat in Brazil in decades,” while former environment minister Marina Silva urged the public to join a “VetoDilma” online campaign.

But Assuero Doca Veronez, president of the national environmental commission of the National Farming Confederation, said the present code “has long been incompatible with the changes in Brazilian agribusiness.”

The proposed reform threatens 690,000 square kilometers (270,000 square miles) of land and would prevent Brazil from reaching its goal of reducing deforestation by 80 percent, according to the Climate Observatory, a network of 26 non-governmental organizations set up in 2002.

Authorities say key reasons for the deforestation of the world’s largest rainforest — a region of amazing biodiversity that is considered crucial to the fight against climate change — are fires, the advance of agriculture and stockbreeding, and illegal trafficking in timber and minerals.

Deforestation has slowed since Brazil declared war on the practice in 2004, vowing to cut it by 80 percent by 2020.

Between 1996 and 2005, 19,500 square kilometers (7,530 square miles) of forest was cut down on average, peaking in 2004 when more than 27,000 square kilometers was lost.

Better law enforcement and the use of satellite imaging saw the lowest rate of deforestation in 2011 since records began three decades ago. Just over 6,200 square kilometers was cut, a 78 percent reduction on 2004.

Related Links
Forestry News – Global and Local News, Science and Application

 

 

Brazil to boost military presence to protect Amazon wealth

by Staff Writers
Brasilia (AFP) April 26, 2012

Brazil will boost its military presence in the Amazon region to protect its huge natural resources from any external threat, Defense Minister Celso Amorim told the Senate Thursday.

“The commitment to the defense of the Amazon is fundamental. Navy, Air Force, all services will boost their presence in the Amazon in the next few years,” he said without giving further details.

Amorim said Brazil did not feel threatened by any neighboring country but added: “We cannot rule out that some power from outside the region” may covet the natural resources of the Amazon, the planet’s largest rainforest and its main source of fresh water.

“We are working on a plan to deploy (security) forces and the Amazon plays a very important role. It’s the most vulnerable part of our country,” Amorim said.

“We have a wealth of resources which can make us the target of adventures,” he added.

Amorim said the country’s strategic planners were planning to boost “transparent cooperation” with other Amazon countries, referring to plans to set up a security commission with Peru and Colombia.

“We do not feel threatened by any South American countries and we do not want anyone to feel threatened by us. We always want full transparency to avoid suspicions,” the minister said.

Brazil, Latin America’s largest country and the world’s sixth largest economy, shares the sprawling Amazon with Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

Brasilia is also boosting its naval power in the South Atlantic with a ambitious submarine program to protect its huge deep-water oil reserves and project its growing influence.

Under the National Defense Strategy unveiled in 2008, the navy was tasked with developing a blue-water force to protect Brazil’s huge sub-salt oil reserves, the Amazon river basin and its 7,491 km (4,655 miles) coastline.

The sub-salt oil fields, located off the country’s southeast Atlantic coast beneath kilometers of ocean, bedrock and hot sat-beds, could contain more than 100 billion barrels of high-quality recoverable oil, according to official estimates.

The centerpiece of the naval buildup is the ProSub program under which France is to supply four Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines and help develop the non-nuclear components of Brazil’s first nuclear-powered fast attack submarine.

Related Links
Forestry News – Global and Local News, Science and Application

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Survival / Sustainability

 

From Storey Publishing

The Backyard Cow

Have you ever considered raising your own backyard cow? Well, many people haven’t, but they have considered making their own cheeses from scratch. In Sue Weaver’s new book, The Backyard Cow, you can find all the information you need to make simple cheeses and yogurts from scratch. And if you find yourself impressed with your newly developed cheese making skills, then go for it — get yourself the backyard cow of your dreams! The book lays out all you’ll need to know about raising a happy, healthy, and highly productive backyard cow. Until then, enjoy this easy recipe from the book.

Soft Citrus Cheese Recipe

This cheese is delicious on crackers or bagels. Or, purée it in a food processor and add a dash of honey to make a tasty base for fruit dips.

Ingredients:

1/2 gallon milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon or lime juice
Salt (optional)
Herbs (optional)

Instructions:

1. Heat milk to at least 175 degrees Fahrenheit, and no more than 180 degrees. Maintain that temperature and stir for 30 seconds, then slowly whisk 1/8 cup lemon or lime juice into the hot milk. Cover, turn off the heat, and let the milk sit for about 15 minutes, or until the curd clearly separates from the whey. If it hasn’t separated in 15 minutes, add small amounts of the remaining citrus juice until it does.

2. Pour the curds into a colander lined with butter muslin. Tie the corners in a knot and hang the bag to drain for several hours until the curds stop draining.

3. Remove the cheese from the bag. Add salt and herbs to taste. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

By Christopher Nyerges

It turns out I was practicing permaculture before I ever heard the word. The coined word means “permanent agriculture,” referring to finding the way to let nature seek its own balance in gardening and other areas of life.

Here are some sections adapted from my Self-Sufficient Home book.

FIGURING THINGS OUT

When I was still living with my parents, we had no space at all to garden. It was unthinkable then to tear up a front lawn and use it for a garden – something I wouldn’t hesitate to do today. The next door neighbor offered us the use of an empty yard between  our houses. My mother – who grew up on a farm – sat up at night with  me planning how to use that space for gardening. Most of what I learned about what to plant and not to plant was learned by making mistakes.

I began by planting herbs, tomatoes, and corn, all neatly arranged in north-south lines with some pathways in-between. I knew nothing about fertilizer or mulch or pest control. I just went out there and planted what I believed would make the best garden, and I watched the results.

Herbs took care of themselves – mints, fennel, oregano, lavendar, and others. Herbs tended to be drought-tolerant, and required very little of my time and effort.

Tomatoes grew good too, but I learned that they just grew and grew, longer and longer, and only began to produce lots of tomatoes when I pinched back the stems so the branches would not grow as long. Yes, I got tomato worms, which I just picked off and tossed to the birds.

Corn was quite an education. It grew tall and the ears formed. As they got bigger, I noticed that they were very infested with lots of ants, and aphids, and earwigs.  In horror, I would take the hose and wash all the bugs off, and this worked to some extent since it was a small garden.

That first season’s corn was a disaster, with bug-infested, half-developed ears, and I even used some bug poison for the first and last time.  I experimented with some of the natural pest-repellants, and made my own insecticide from a mixture of garlics and hot peppers, liquified in the blender, and sprayed on the plants. I even added a little Basic H to the mix. I had some results, but I was still working with poor soil.

In desperation, I studied all I could on natural pest control.  After all, I had fresh memories of one of my uncles in Chardon, Ohio, who had to dress up in what looked like a bee suit every time he went into his apple orchards so he would be protected from all the pesticides that he sprayed on the apples.  (He died of cancer).  Shouldn’t farming and gardening be about life, not death, I wondered?  Can’t nature take care of itself?  Isn’t there a way to find a balance so that the bugs keep the other bugs in check?

 Read Full Article Here

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Activism

Sometimes Civil Disobedience is the Only Way to be Heard

  by

Leah Bolger, a retired navy officer, talks about her arrest at Congress and plans for NATO protest

Bio

Leah Bolger is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who retired in 2000 at the rank of Commander. She was elected as the first female president of Veterans For Peace. Bolger has been involved in several national efforts and she has been arrested several times for acts of civil disobedience, most recently in a hearing of the Super Committee, where she called on the Committee to “End the Wars and Tax the Rich.”

Read Transcript Here

Occupy v. Whole Foods? Activists Take Over Land Slated for Development and Start a Farm

The Gill Tract is prime agricultural soil that activists hope can feed hundreds. But the UC Berkeley-owned land may be sold to Whole Foods.
 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Konstantin Sutyagin

Invoking the spirit of international peasant farmer movements La Via Campesina and Brazil’s Movimento Sem Terra, hundreds of people entered a five-acre plot of land at the Berkeley/Albany border on Sunday April 22, in one of this spring’s first high-profile actions of the Occupy movement. Their goal? To farm the land and share the food with the local community.

Under the banner “Occupy the Farm,” a coalition of local residents, farmers, students, researchers, and activists broke the lock and entered the UC Berkeley-owned Gill Tract on a sunny Sunday afternoon, bringing with them over 15,000 seedlings, a pair of rototillers and a half-dozen chickens in mobile chicken-tractors. Hundreds of people, including a dozen or so children, went to work clearing weeds, tilling garden beds, filling holes with compost, and planting seedlings. At the end of four hours, they’d planted an estimated three-quarters of an acre.

After last fall’s burst of Occupy actions raised a challenge to corporate control writ large, organizers of Occupy the Farm say they are kicking off the spring season with efforts to reclaim land not just as a way of occupying space, but to meet the needs of communities through food production.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Protesters with the Occupy movement block one of the entrances to the Port of Oakland in California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/BloombergProtesters with the Occupy movement block one of the entrances to the Port of Oakland in California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Bloomberg News

Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Protests in May Day Resurgence

By Henry Goldman and Esmé E. Deprez on April 30, 2012

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose anti-greed message spread worldwide during an eight-week encampment in Lower Manhattan last year, plan marches across the globe today calling attention to what they say are abuses of power and wealth.

Organizers say they hope the coordinated events will mark a spring resurgence of the movement after a quiet winter. Calls for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no shopping have sprung up on websites in Toronto, Barcelona, London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, among hundreds of cities in North America, Europe and Asia.

In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s (BAC) 55-story tower.

“We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.

Occupy groups across the U.S. have protested economic disparity, decrying high foreclosure and unemployment rates that hurt average Americans while bankers and financial executives received bonuses and taxpayer-funded bailouts. In the past six months, similar groups, using social media and other tools, have sprung up in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

 

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

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Psy – Ops

Consuming Kids – The Commercialization of Childhood (Full Film Documentary)

Uploaded by

Consuming Kids throws desperately needed light on the practices of a relentless multi-billion dollar marketing machine that now sells kids and their parents everything from junk food and violent video games to bogus educational products and the family car. Drawing on the insights of health care professionals, children’s advocates, and industry insiders, the film focuses on the explosive growth of child marketing in the wake of deregulation, showing how youth marketers have used the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world. Consuming Kids pushes back against the wholesale commercialization of childhood, raising urgent questions about the ethics of children’s marketing and its impact on the health and well-being of kids.

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes 'FAIR USE' of any such copyrighted material.]

Uploaded by on Sep 26, 2011

Richard Heinberg- whose latest book describes The End of Growth- isn’t looking for when the recession will end and we’ll get back to “normal”. He believes our decades-long era of growth was based on aberrant set of conditions- namely cheap oil, but also cheap minerals, cheap food, etc- and that looking ahead, we need to prepare for a “new normal”.

The problem, according to Heinberg, is our natural resources just aren’t so cheap and plentiful anymore, and he’s not just talking about Peak Oil, Heinberg believes in Peak Everything (also the title of one of his books).

Heinberg thinks for many, adjusting to a life where everything costs a bit more, could be very hard, but he also thinks the transition to a new normal might actually make life better.

“Particularly in the Western industrialized countries we’ve gotten used to levels of consumption that are not only environmentally unsustainable, they also don’t make us happy. They’ve in fact hollowed out our lives. We’ve given up things that actually do give us satisfaction and pleasure so that we can work more and more hours to get more and more money with which to buy more and more stuff- more flatscreen tvs, bigger SUVs, bigger houses and it’s not making us happier. Well, guess what, it’s possible to downsize, it’s possible to use less, become more self sufficient, grow more of your own food, have chickens in your backyard and be a happier person.”

This is not all theoretical. In the backyard of the home Heinberg shares with his wife, Janet Barocco, the couple grow most of their food during the summer months (i.e. 25 fruit & nut trees, veggies, potatoes.. they’re just lack grains), raise chickens for eggs, capture rainwater, bake with solar cookers and a solar food drier and secure energy with photovoltaic and solar hot water panels.

Their backyard reflects Heinberg’s vision for our “new normal” and it’s full of experiments, like the slightly less than 120-square-foot cottage that was inspired by the Small Home Movement. It was built with the help of some of Heinberg’s college students (in one of the nation’s first sustainability classes) using recycled and natural materials (like lime plaster).

Heinberg admits it’s not a real tiny house experiment since they don’t actually live in it- his wife uses it as a massage studio, he meditates there and sometimes it’s used as a guest house (though that’s hush hush due to permitting issues). But their tiny cottage points to the bigger point behind why a transition to a less resource intensive future could equal greater happiness.

“Simplify. Pay less attention to all of the stuff in your life and pay more attention to what’s really important. Maybe for you it’s gardening, maybe for you it’s painting or music. You know we all have stuff that gives us real pleasure and most of us find we have less and less time for that because we have to devote so much time to shopping, paying bills and driving from here to there and so on. Well, how about if we cut out some of that stuff and spend more time doing what really feeds us emotionally and spiritually and in some cases even nutritionally.”

Original story here: http://faircompanies.com/videos/view/richard-heinberg-why-end-growth-means-mo…

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