Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gene-Based Job Recruitment

Gene-Based Job Recruitment
Sifting Through Genetics for the Best Employees

The preeminent research work of the Human Genome Project has managed to receive both acclaim and criticism from the global scientific audience.
While the main purpose of the project’s establishment was to better understand the genetic makeup of the human species and our genetically inherited diseases, the outcome of this international scientific research can come to benefit future recruiters as well.

Knowledge about the effects of DNA variations among individuals can lead to revolutionary new ways to diagnose, treat, and someday prevent the thousands of disorders that affect us. Besides providing clues to understanding human biology, learning about nonhuman organisms' DNA sequences can lead to an understanding of their natural capabilities that can be applied toward solving challenges in health care, agriculture, energy production, environmental remediation, and carbon sequestration

What is the Human Genome Project?

Begun formally in 1990, the U.S. Human Genome Project was a 13-year effort coordinated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. The project originally was planned to last 15 years, but rapid technological advances accelerated the completion date to 2003. Project goals were to

* identify all the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA,
* determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA,
* store this information in databases,
* improve tools for data analysis,
* transfer related technologies to the private sector, and
* address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project.

Social unrest is increasing

Social unrest is increasing in Europe

Saturday January 31
In this week we witnessed growing social unrest in Greece, France and the U.K.
Strikes, blockades, occasional riots and picket lines, it's a sign of the times.
Last month, it was only in Iceland and in Greece. As the recession is spreading, the housing market worsening and currencies dropping, people really begin to fear for their future, and tempers are getting shorter.
In the U.K. we noticed an increase in anti-European sentiment and strikes after remarks from the Britsh Prime Minister Gordon Brown about 'British Jobs for British Workers', Mr. Brown obviously likes to play with fire.

January was the worst month for the U.S. job market with a 100.000 job cuts in every sector of the industry. President Obama spoke out against the shameful bonus culture in Wallstreet. In general people in the banking sector and in high financial positions do not show much social responsibility.
In economic lesser times social unrest always increases and with the economy and politics globally intertwined the effects of social unrest show up sooner and stronger.
These are testing times for the old political elite, in 2009 we will see if they have inner wisdom and can keep their nerve.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Stimulus to Include Tax Credit to Buy Fuel Efficient Cars?

Stimulus to Include Tax Credit to Buy Fuel Efficient Cars?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that legislators are likely to add a tax credit worth $4,500 to the stimulus bill for consumers that replace their older cars with more fuel efficient cars.
The problem for lawmakers, and Big Three lobbyists, is how to ensure that Americans don't trade in their old cars and purchase foreign car makers hybrids. Heaven forbid. There is also no indication of how long this "cash for clunkers" plan might last.
With auto sales plummeting and Obama's plan to force auto makers to get their emissions under control, the tax credit makes sense as a compromise. Unfortunately, with the ever ballooning stimulus package, the timing is a bit off, as it turns the program into another piece of pork. Then again, the time is ripe for pork.
If we're going to spend a trillion dollars on the economy, why not let everyone get something. Obama is close with Oprah, so this could be his, "You get a new car, you get a new car, you get a new car!!!" moment.

150 Years after Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species

Darwin Day Celebration website

Darwin Day is a global celebration of science and reason held on or around Feb. 12, the birthday anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth.
CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN February 12, 1809 to April 19, 1882

Darwin Day is an international celebration of science and humanity held on or around February 12, the day that Charles Darwin was born on in 1809. Specifically, it celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin -- the man who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor. More generally, Darwin Day expresses gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity.
The Darwin Day Celebration website provides resources and publicity for individuals and institutions across the world to celebrate science and humanity every year, on, or near, February 12, Darwin's birthday. In addition to information about the life and legacy of Charles Darwin, this website provides practical examples, advice and templates for organizing and publicizing Darwin Day events. It also provides a directory of events where you can find celebrations taking place near you or register your own event for others to find.

Symposium: Evolutionary islands 150 years after Darwin

150 Years after Darwin's On the Origin of Species, island evolution is entering a new phase. By habitat fragmentation, we humans create more and more islands, while at the same time, by transporting species from their native biomes, we remove the dispersal barriers that kept habitats isolated. To explore the implications of this new era of island evolution, the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden, the Netherlands, together with the Darwin Center for Biogeology in Utrecht, the Netherlands, will organise an international congress on "Island Evolution 150 Years After Darwin" 11-13 February 2009 Museum Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands
The meeting will bring together traditional students of island biotas, experimental/theoretical community ecologists, and evolutionary biologists, to explore the role of island-biological processes in a world in which the "island processes" of isolation and dispersal are being drastically altered.

Eating on a discount in New York, Restaurant Blues

Restaurant Blues
(01:57) Reuters Video Report

Jan. 29 - Many New York City restaurants facing economic pressures are closing or offering discount deals.
To keep luring customers, some upscale restaurants have introduced fixed price meals and cheaper wines.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

World Economic Forum Report: US $ 515 Billion needed in Green Investments

World Economic Forum Report: US $ 515 Billion needed in Green Investments

Press release
Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 29 January 2009 − The World Economic Forum today released the Green Investing: Towards a Clean Energy Infrastructure report. The report outlines the scale of the investments needed to develop a clean energy infrastructure and move to towards a low-carbon economy.

New Energy Finance, which collaborated with the World Economic Forum on the report, warns that unless at least US$ 515 billion per annum is invested in clean energy between now and 2030, carbon emissions will reach a level deemed unsustainable by scientists, causing temperatures to rise by two degrees globally.

The report identifies eight emerging, large-scale clean energy sectors that are expected to significantly contribute in the move to a clean energy infrastructure of the future: onshore wind, offshore wind, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal electricity generation, municipal solar waste-to-energy, sugar-based ethanol, cellulosic and next generation biofuels, and geothermal power.

Agreement on the need for ethics-based capitalism was tempered by concerns from panellists that business has sidelined social values up until now. “You can have laws on the books but it’s personal compliance with those laws that is important,” said Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo, USA. Nooyi was building on an idea proposed by Tony Blair, UN Middle East Quartet Representative, who said, “the best free enterprise is stakeholder free enterprise where the wider economy is at the service of wider society.”

Forum Report: US $515 Billion needed in Green Investments (Download PDF)

Health amid a financial crisis: a complex diagnosis

Health amid a financial crisis: a complex diagnosis

The global financial crisis could have profound implications for the health spending plans of national governments. Unless countries have safety nets in place, the poor and vulnerable will be the first to suffer. Jane Parry and Gary Humphreys report. “In a recession it is important for governments to protect the poor and vulnerable, but most countries have not yet done this,” Evans says, adding that WHO has long been helping countries develop universal health protection mechanisms that are a vital safety net in times of economic turmoil.
The current financial crisis that started with the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market in North America and parts of Europe in 2007 has since extended to low- and middle-income countries. Hungary has received emergency financial support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other countries are in talks to secure similar IMF packages. But such support could limit governments’ ability to spend on health. And while developing countries are not yet in recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth – economists are concerned about the global downturn. Some fear it could be as bad or even worse than the great depression of the 1930s.

Financial crisis: long-term perspective needed
21 January 2009 -- The health sector needs to take steps to counter the negative consequences of the financial crisis on global health. Countries also need to take a longer term perspective so their health systems are more resilient in the future, said participants in a recent consultation.
Download the consultation report [pdf 87kb]
Listen to our podcast on financial crisis and health

WHO Warns Economic-Motivated Suicide Will Increase in 2009

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the number of suicides could increase as millions of people worldwide grapple with the economic crisis.
“There is a clear evidence that suicide is linked to financial disasters,” Director of the Department of Mental Health for the WHO, Benedetto Saraceno, told Reuters. “I am not talking about the millionaire jumping out of the window but about poor people,” he said.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Japan electric car buzz

Japan electric car buzz
(01:01) Report Video Reuters

Jan 28 - Gas prices have fallen sharply, but carmakers are still eyeing a market for electric cars, based on tighter fuel emission standards and eco-friendly consumer demand.
In Tokyo, some of the latest in electric cars are on display, along with the lithium ion batteries to power them from concept to reality.

Obama Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education

Education (New York Times Permalink)
Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education
By SAM DILLON - Published: January 28, 2009
Schools, universities and child care centers would receive $150 billion in new spending in the stimulus package scheduled for a vote in Congress.

Profile: Arne Duncan is President Obama's secretary of education. He was confirmed on Jan. 20, 2009.
In his Senate confirmation hearing, he said he would work for “real and meaningful change” in the nation’s schools and said he hoped that Mr. Obama’s example as a model student could inspire millions of American children.
“Never before has being smart been so cool,” Mr. Duncan said.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

From Antarctica: Feeling the heat (Video)

From Antarctica: Feeling the heat
(02:30) Reuters Video Report
Jan 22 - Antarctica is getting warmer rather than cooling as widely believed, according to a study that fits the icy continent into the wider trend of global warming.
A review by a group of U.S. scientists of satellite and weather records for Antarctica showed that freezing temperatures had risen by about 0.5 Celsius (0.8 Fahrenheit) since the 1950s.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Obesity in America

Obesity in America

(From 'The Waisteland' Mother Jones)
In 2006, the surgeon general called obesity "the terror within" and said it could "dwarf 9/11 or any other terrorist attempt."
A recent anti-obesity ad campaign featured a "suicide bomber" with bars of butter strapped to his chest.
A 2002 study found that 13% of men and 17% of women of recruitment age are too fat to serve in the military.
Recent studies have attributed obesity to low-fat foods, lack of sleep, ear infections, intestinal bacteria, pollution, plastics, poverty, air conditioners, socializing with obese people, your mom's age when you were born, and your maternal grandmother's diet.
Researchers say obese Americans contribute disproportionately to global warming by consuming 18% more food and 938 million extra gallons of gas every year.

The Obesity Crisis: What's it all about?
The nation's scales are going up...up...up...and it's clear that we have an obesity health crisis on our hands. So what can we do about America's obesity epidemic? It's not just a case of telling people to eat fewer doughnuts and walk around the block each day. Scientists--including specialists called endocrinologists--are looking into the many biological angles behind adult obesity, childhood (pediatric) obesity, and obesity-related health problems (diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, and are working to figure out how to combat the obesity epidemic.

The Domestic Impact
While obesity rates have increased in adults nationwide, the obesity epidemic has increased more dramatically in specific areas of the country. The following chart depicts a regional breakdown of the obesity epidemic among people in the U.S. The prevalence of overweight and obesity is highest overall in the Southern region of the country.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

26 Creative Casual Tee Shirts

26 Creative Casual Tee Shirts
Putting on your favorite tee shirt?
We found this on, some very cool, artistic and original T Shirts.
There's a lot more to see about Tees, just check out the various galleries and slides.
You can order online as well.

If you live (or are) in Amsterdam (Netherlands) you can go to Bas Beima in the Govert Flinckstraat 116, near the Albert Cuyp Market. Bas Beima is an Artist and can print Tee Shirts with text, images, designs, drawings and logos in a personalized and original way. His website is on

Deceptively Naughty Fashion Gallery

Scandinavian Style Influencers Edit
Swedish 'Cheap Mondays' Makes Casual Sexy

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Smarter Planet, getting from A to B. (IBM)

(IBM) Smart Planet, a smarter planet, getting from A to B.

Clogged roadways need new approaches
Next time you're stuck in traffic ground to a halt, think about this: as smart as our cars have become, our roadways are about to get a whole lot smarter.
It's certainly needed. Cities everywhere are battling an increase in demand and an inability to build sufficient infrastructure to cope. For example, in the U.S., as population grew nearly 20% between 1982 and 2001, traffic jumped 236%.
Building new roads and new lanes often just isn't possible any longer, but building intelligence into the roads and the cars—with roadside sensors, radio frequency tags, and global positioning systems—certainly is.
In Stockholm, a new smart toll system has reduced traffic and carbon emissions by impressive percentages.
In London, a congestion management system has lowered traffic volume to mid-1980s levels.
In Singapore, a traffic prediction system is helping re-route and manage traffic citywide, preventing major back-ups and congestion.

IBM issues rosy 2009 outlook
BUCKING the trend of high-tech competitors, IBM posted a 12 per cent gain in fourth-quarter profit and gave an upbeat outlook for 2009.
Although facing "an extremely difficult economic environment," IBM said it expects to continue to benefit from the increasing profitability of its software and services businesses. Despite the global slowdown, IBM said customers are continuing to sign up for outsourcing and other services contracts.

IBM Global Innovation Outlook (Download PDF)

IBM Driving Innovation, new technologies and ideas (Download PDF)

Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address

Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
Published: January 20, 2009 (Permalink New York Times)
Following is the transcript of President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions.

President Obama’s Inaugural Address (Read more on this siote)
Placing his hand on the Bible once used by Lincoln, Barack Obama took the Oath of Office at 12:05 p.m. on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Immediately following, he delivered his Inaugural Address to a sea of flag-waving Americans, which stretched down the National Mall to the Lincoln Memorial and beyond. The full text of his address is below.

"My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans".

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart

Porsche Panamera, the 4th Dimension

The Porsche Museum in Stuttgart

The Porsche Museum enlightens the visitor in an impressive, clear, and interesting manner about the entire history of what is now Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG. Production cars have been just as important to the name recognition of the Porsche brand as many vehicles designed specifically for racing. Numerous vehicles and many small exhibits are displayed at the Porsche Museum in an unique ambience.

The successful record of Stuttgart’s sports-car manufacturer – Porsche is both the smallest independent German automaker and the world’s most profitable automaker – is based on decades of experience in automotive manufacturing and in motorsports. The history of Porsche sports cars begins in 1948 with the legendary Type 356 "No. 1,” but the conceptual basis of the brand is the result of the lifelong work of Professor Ferdinand Porsche (1875–1951), which was continued by his son Ferry (1909–1998).

By establishing an independent engineering office in Stuttgart in 1931, Ferdinand Porsche laid the foundations for the House of Porsche, and he made automotive history by pioneering developments for his client companies. During the past six decades, Porsche has experienced many high points as well as low ones. But thanks to efficient production methods, distinctive positioning of its brand, and innovative models such as the 356, 911, 914, 924, 944, 928, and the Boxster and the Cayenne, the former sports-car specialist has developed into one of the world's most successful automobile manufacturers.

Stars come out for Obama concert

Stars come out for Obama concert
(01:32) Reuters Video Report
Jan. 18 - Tens of thousands brave the winter cold for a concert on the National Mall in honor of Obama's inauguration.
Performers included Mary J. Blige, Bon Jovi, Garth Brooks, Beyonce and U2. Katharine Jackson reports.
SOUNDBITE: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama

Former Realtor: Benefits of Selling a House Without a Realtor

Former Realtor: Benefits of Selling a House Without a Realtor

(Source Associated Content) As a former Realtor, I would never have admitted this, but if you are willing to work a little harder then you can sell your home without a Realtor. The main benefit of a Realtor is the MLS - Multiple
Listing Service. This is a computerized listing serve that is open to real estate agents and brokers. Now there are companies that will simply list your home on the MLS without representing you. You pay a nominal fee (about $500) for the listing and that's it. It's far cheaper than the 5-7% commission you would pay a realtor.

About that 5-7% commission, a real estate agent will charge you that commission for selling your home, but he or she does not get the entire commission. Let's say that the commission is 6% and your home sells through an agency for $200,000.00. That would be $12,000.00 commission. Unless the agent is the buying agent also (working both ends of the deal) then the selling agent's side is 3% and the buyer's side is 3%. In other words, the buyer's agent gets the other 3%. That means that the selling agency gets $6000.00. Then the agency will pay the agent from that $6000.00, and if it is a 50-50 split, then the agent will make $3000.00 from the sale of your house.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In times of economic crisis, people turn to yoga

In times of economic crisis, people turn to yoga

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - As layoffs loom and pensions plummet, more people are unrolling their yoga mats and polishing their poses to find flexibility and sanity amid the financial chaos.
Fitness experts say gym memberships are holding steady, or rising, and yoga classes are thriving.
"The economy may have taken a downturn, but attendance in our yoga classes has grown," said Jess Gronholm, National Yoga Coordinator for the Crunch health club chain.
"A yoga practice becomes a refuge from the negativity of an economic recession, and the studio becomes the sanctuary," said Gronholm, whose employer has over 100,000 gym members in five U.S. states.
Yoga, which originated in India, uses movement and postures to strengthen the body and breathing techniques and meditation to quiet the mind.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Inaugural fashion for Michelle Obama (Video)

Inaugural fashion for Michelle Obama
(01:39) Reuters Video Report

Jan. 16 - As inauguration day approaches, fashion experts guess what future First Lady Michelle Obama will wear on the day.

Michelle Obama's appeal stems from her youthfulness, her fashion sense and her every woman quality, says magazine US weekly. The American public's fascination with celebrities continues to grow and magazines like US Weekly are chronicling their every fashion choice. So the magazine says that it is to be expected that a young, modern couple like the Obamas have transcended the political realm and become celebrities in their own right. It is worth noting that the Obamas are the first political couple to make it onto the magazine's cover. Cindy Martin reports.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Plot to Save the Planet

The Plot to Save the Planet
The Plot to Save the Planet is an illuminating look at the “conspiracy” to make green technology the Silicon Valley of the twenty-first century—the creator of massive numbers of jobs and huge amounts of wealth.
Suddenly, the ugly mudslinging between environmentalists and big business has abated, and these two previously opposed forces are now strange bedfellows in a race to head off climate change.

In his new book The Plot to Save the Planet, Fortune Small Business editorial director Brian Dumaine chronicles how entrepreneurs are tapping into what could be the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century: clean, money-saving technology.

Working on a Dream is Bruce Springsteen's twenty-fourth album To Be Released: January 27, 2009

Working on a Dream is Bruce Springsteen's twenty-fourth album
To Be Released: January 27, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hong Kong fashion

Fashion & Style: Hong Kong fashion
East meets West as designers showcase their latest creations at Hong Kong fashion week. Slideshow
A model displays a creation by Japanese designer Naoko Tsuruta at the Hong Kong Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2009, January 14, 2009.

Breakthroughs IBM's Sharp New Focus

Breakthroughs IBM's Sharp New Focus
Jonathan Fahey, 01.12.09, 05:45 PM EST

A new technique could let biologists better see how proteins fit together and make life happen.
Proteins are giant jumbles of amino acids shaped like a tangle of curled ribbons and crimped strings. But they are jumbled and tangled just so. How they are built and shaped determines whether they can help digest a bite of steak au poivre or play a role in crippling a flu virus.
The beautiful, messy collection of proteins in our bodies are made from a mere 20 amino acids. Figuring out what intricate shape they take, or "seeing" their structures, however, is hard.
Now researchers at IBM (nyse: IBM - news - people ) think they may be able to do just that: In a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists describe the results of a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that could give biologists a glimpse of the tangles and crimps of proteins down to a resolution of four nanometers (or billionths of a meter). That's 100 million times sharper than the best research machines currently available.
IBM does not have a new MRI machine yet. Instead, the researchers are revealing the latest results of a technique they've been working on for a decade. It could still use some refining, but researchers report that they trained their device on a tobacco mosaic virus; for the first time, they have been able to create an image of a native organic molecule in three dimensions. Read more...

Paris art gallery's Obama exhibition

Paris art gallery's Obama exhibition
(01:57) Reuters Video Report

Oct 15 - An American art gallery owner in Paris has opened an Obama-inspired exhibition one month ahead of the closely contested U.S. election.
"Barack Obama in Paris" will be on display through the month of October at Dorothy's Gallery, a cosy space in Paris's 11th arrondissement.
The exhibition includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and videos inspired by the Democratic nominee for next month's U.S. presidential election, created by 30 French and American artists.

15 Obama Street Art Masterpieces + Commercial Graffitisements

President-elect Obama is one of the most polarizing figures of modern history. He’s successfully marketed himself to represent a feeling or an aspect of the American dream in a number of different ways.

In no other realm is this more apparent than street art. Graffiti artists have long had their careful and beautiful work lambasted as an eyesore, a public menace, a piece of unwanted art to be washed away. With the rise of Barack Obama, his message of hope and change was manifested in the growing acceptance and celebration of street art.

Shepard Fairey has been one such benefactor of Obamamania. Prior to the election, Fairey’s work was subversive and widespread. After Shepard Fairey produced the now-ubiquitous Obama ‘Hope’ poster, however, he became a household name, and his work adorned tee shirts, posters and art galleries. And now, Fairey has been commissioned to produce the official artwork for all Inauguration Day merchandise.

World Future Energy Summit (WFES09) on January 19-21, 2009 in Abu Dhabi.

World Future Energy Summit (WFES09) on January 19-21, 2009 in Abu Dhabi.

Top government officials, heads of global organisations, leading environmentalists and the largest international investors are meeting once again at the World Future Energy Summit, 19-21 January 2009, Abu Dhabi to discuss, debate and plan the world's future energy.
The Summit is the platform for policy decision making, investment and high-level business deals. This is your opportunity to attend and become a part of an evolving industry with unlimited opportunity.

The conference will cover a wide range of themes including:

# Energy policy
# Investment and funding
# Green buildings
# Clean transport
# Solar
# Wind
# Biofuels
# Ocean power
# Geothermal
# Waste to energy
# Fuel cells
# Carbon management
# Environmental strategy

Obama-mania hits the shops

Obama-mania hits the shops
(01:22) Reuters Video Rough Cut

Jan 14 - President-elect Barack Obama has the Midas touch, as shoppers, ahead of the inauguration, are snatching anything with his name or image.
Political souvenir shops say they are bringing in a small fortune on anything bearing Obama's image.
Even his calendars are selling like hotcakes -- not since Kennedy have Americans been willing to give a president 12 months of calendar wall space.
And the Obama-mania is not just an American phenomena.
One shop owner says 25 percent of his business comes from overseas customers.
In fact, the enthusiasm for Obama merchandise is so great, he's opening his first stores in London and Berlin

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Prado Museum works with Google Earth, masterpieces on Internet

Prado Museum works with Google Earth, masterpieces on Internet

Obama to give extra push to climate talks: U.N. official said.

Obama to give extra push to climate talks: U.N. official said.

TOKYO (Reuters) - Barack Obama will give fresh momentum to talks for a new global pact to fight global warming, although countries still need to clear up issues such as funding for developing nations, a top U.N. official said on Wednesday.
About 190 countries are trying to craft a broader climate treaty by December to replace the Kyoto Protocol that only binds wealthy nations to emissions targets between 2008 and 2012.
Rich and poor countries remain divided over funds for clean energy investment and technology transfer, as well as new targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions blamed for causing droughts, floods and disease.
"President-elect Obama has said some very encouraging things about his domestic ambitions and his will to engage internationally," Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, told Reuters.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stanford launches $100 million initiative to tackle energy issues

Stanford launches $100 million initiative to tackle energy issues
Stanford Report, January 12, 2009

Recognizing that energy is at the heart of many of the world's tribulations—economic, environmental and political—Stanford is establishing a $100 million research institute to focus intently on energy issues, President John Hennessy announced today. The $100 million in new funds will enable the hiring of additional faculty and support new graduate students, in addition to the more than $30 million in yearly funding now spent on energy research.
The new Precourt Institute for Energy will draw on deep scientific expertise from across the campus and around the world. From the minuscule—materials scientists prying loose more electricity from sunshine through more efficient photovoltaic cells—to the national effort to develop sustainable energy and the global search for ways to reduce atmospheric levels of carbon, the new institute will be at the forefront.
The institute is being brought to life through the generosity of donors, led by founding donors Jay Precourt and the husband-and-wife team of Thomas Steyer and Kat Taylor. Precourt is an energy executive; Steyer is a Stanford trustee and managing partner of Farallon Capital Management, and Taylor is active in a variety of public benefit and philanthropic ventures. They are all Stanford alumni.

The Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency

PIEE was founded in October 2006 at Stanford University by a generous gift from Stanford Alumnus Jay Precourt.
As a Stanford University research institute, PIEE draws upon intellectual resources from the entire university. At the core of the Precourt Institute is an increasing number of faculty-led research teams including graduate and undergraduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Research teams include researchers and analysts from across the university, bringing expertise from many different disciplines.

What is the Precourt Institute's mission?
The mission of the Precourt Institute is to promote energy efficient technologies, systems, and practices, emphasizing economically attractive deployment. PIEE works to understand and overcome market, policy, technology, and human behavioral barriers to economically efficient reductions of energy use and to inform public and private policymaking. Energy Efficiency is vital for the U.S. and world economy, for environmental protection, and for energy security.

ManagEnergy is an initiative of the European Commission Directorate-General for Energy and Transport, which aims to support the work of actors working on energy efficiency and renewable energies at the local and regional level. The main tools are training, workshops and online events. Additionally information is provided on case studies, good practice, European legislation and programmes.
This website includes a partner search system with some 4000 organisations, including 380 energy agencies, which can provide valuable expertise and partnerships on energy activities at local and regional levels. You are most welcome to register for the ManagEnergy Initiative including the monthly newsletter.

International / Middle East
Gulf Oil States Seeking a Lead in Clean Energy
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL - Published: January 13, 2009 (Nes York Times Permalink)
Well aware of the limits of oil, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are aggressively pouring billions of dollars into green technologies.

Detroit Auto Show 2009, what's new?

Detroit Auto Show, what's new?
See the slide show of 15 cars on CNN Money

An industry in crisis rolls out its latest weapons as some of the industry's biggest names fight for survival.
Hybrid sales have fallen along with gas prices, but you can count on gas prices rising again before too long. The Prius, all by itself, owns half the hybrid market so Toyota needs to be ready.

The redesigned 2010 Prius will manage combined city and highway fuel economy of about 50 miles per gallon, according to Toyota. That's four mpg better than the current Prius.
Toyota Prius
Lincoln MKT
Lincoln Concept C
2010 Ford Taurus
Chrysler 200C EV
Lexus HS 250h
and more...

(Comment: It looks fantastic, but they have to come up with much better customer value to regain market share and get out of trouble!)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Massive Greenland meltdown? Not so fast, say scientists

Massive Greenland meltdown? Not so fast, say scientists

No sunbathing on the beaches of Greenland in our lifetime?

A general view shows the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Greenland. The recent acceleration of glacier melt-off in Greenland, which some scientists fear could dramatically raise sea levels, may only be a temporary phenomenon, according to a study published Sunday.
The stakes are enormous: the rate at which the global ocean water mark rises could have a devastating impact on hundreds of millions of people living in low-lying areas around the world.
But a team led by Faezeh Nick of Durham University in Britain found that neither of these scenarios matched the data.
"They simply don't fit what we have observed," said colleague and co-author Andreas Vieli in an interview.

Arctic sea ice reflects sunlight, keeping the polar regions cool and moderating global climate. According to scientific measurements, Arctic sea ice has declined dramatically over at least the past thirty years, with the most extreme decline seen in the summer melt season.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Detroit's North American International Auto Show, focus on Technology

Detroit's North American International Auto Show, focus on Technology
The Detroit show - which opens Jan. 11-13 to the media and Jan. 17-25 for the public

Detroit in January is still The Big One, for North America.

The focus is on New Technology, not much on the Bailout.
The North American International Auto Show 2009 is where the global automotive community comes together to catch up on the latest. Join more of your peers from around the world at the industry’s most substantive annual event. In addition to 60 new vehicle premieres – including some of the automotive world’s most eagerly anticipated – you’ll gain unprecedented access to more of the industry’s top leaders and thinkers in one place than anywhere else in the hemisphere.

2009 Detroit Auto Show: International Car of TheYear Awards
Nissan GTR 2009 International Car of the Year

Motor Trend 2009 Car of the Year: Nissan GT-R - The best video clips are right here

TrendHunter luxury electric cars from GM

Luxury Electric Cars - GM Builds Cadillac Converj (GALLERY)

(TREND HUNTER) General Motors’ new model, the Cadillac Converj, is an exciting luxury twist on highly anticipated Chevrolet Volt. The Converj, just like the Volt (using Voltec technology), is able to travel 40 miles,… [More]

Wat is het belang van 'sociaal netwerken'?

Wat is het belang van netwerken of 'sociaal netwerken'?

Dat is nou net zo'n gedachte voor een rustige zondagochtend als je heel vroeg wakker bent en na wat lezen in tijdschriften het woord 'netwerken' door je hoofd blijkt spoken.
Netwerken als bezigheid bestaat al heel lang maar is in de laatste 20 jaar tot een soort hype geworden.
In beginsel is het niet meer dan het verzamelen rond de dorpspomp en het uitwisselen van nieuwtjes of roddels. Tenslotte zijn we allemaal vanuit dorpsgemeenschappen geëvolueerd.
De opkomst van Internet en de massa acceptatie van mobiele communicatie heeft -vooral sinds het begin van deze eeuw- tot een grote opkomst van het 'sociaal netwerken' geleid. De wereld is inderdaad hard op weg naar het concept van de 'Global Village' (Marshall McLuhan)

Maar wat is nou het directe belang en voordeel van een sociaal netwerk?
Is het -in de moderne vorm- niet meer dan een tijdrovend oeverloos geouwehoer aan het worden? Overigens is dat een mening van iemand die een nogal uitgebreid - maar betrekkelijk eenzijdig sociaal netwerk heeft. De vraag is dan: Wat is een optimaal sociaal netwerk?
Had, in een wat meer geavanceerde setting, bijvoorbeeld de beurscrash (krach) en de recessie voorkomen kunnen worden? Is de wereld zo gecompliceerd geworden dat er plotseling een ernstige situatie kan ontstaan zonder dat het tot een kritische massa doordringt?
Kan de informatie 'overload' een rol spelen?
Wat zijn de werkelijk fundamentele vernieuwingen?
Zijn de sociale netwerken over het algemeen misschien meer behoudend geworden, of zijn ze dat al altijd geweest, niet bijzonder creatief, niet echt vernieuwend, of is er weinig of geen plaats voor afwijkende opinies en opvattingen?
Creeërt het digitale tijdperk zijn eigen inteelt?

Op deze en andere vragen zullen we in de komende tijd proberen een antwoord te vinden.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cars of the Future

Nova TV ( has a very good research item about The Car of the Future. Check out this site!

Model of Efficiency

Two decades ago, physicist and energy expert Amory Lovins came up with a notion he called "Hypercar," a general class of vehicles so fuel-efficient it might, Lovins hoped, radically reduce oil consumption in the U.S. and worldwide. A tailpipe dream? Perhaps not. While the Hypercar SUV that Lovins and colleagues designed in 2000 remains a one-of-a-kind concept vehicle, many automakers are beginning to embrace the underlying principles of Hypercar. In this audio slideshow, Lovins describes the key characteristics that any Hypercar would have, and he offers a glimpse of a Hypercar-like Toyota vehicle that may soon be driving through your neighborhood.—Susan K. Lewis

Beyond Technology

Plug-in hybrids, carbon-fiber composites, hydrogen fuel cells—a wide range of innovative technologies may make our future vehicles more efficient and less reliant on oil. But as David Greene of the National Transportation Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory* explains in this interview, technology alone will not solve the looming crisis we face with our petroleum-powered fleet. We also need smart government policies.

NOVA Open Content: Car of the Future on YouTube

PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans – from every walk of life – the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each week, PBS reaches more than 65 million people and invites them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life.

Friday, January 9, 2009

President-elect Obama calls for laying the groundwork for a 21st century economy

President-elect Obama calls for laying the groundwork for a 21st century economy

President-Elect Barack Obama today delivered a stark warning about the state of America’s economy in a speech clearly aimed to rally public and political support to get a massive stimulus and economic re-orientation policy in place ASAP.
He called for laying the groundwork for a sound 21st century economy — but the real, hard-nosed question now will be: if the political and financial systems failed all these years to fix the problem will Obama run smack, dab into the “realities” that the political system is still geared to the 20th century? And there are signs that Obama may have some work to do in winning over his some members of his own party.

Here’s a video of his speech today:

Beijing to build offices, fun park at "Water Cube"

Beijing to build offices, fun park at "Water Cube"

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Beijing's Olympic swimming venue, the National Aquatic Center or "Water Cube," will mix white-collar workers with thrill-seekers as part of plans to erect an office building next to a water-themed fun park.
The distinctive bubble-wrapped building has been left largely intact since hosting the swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events at August's Beijing Games, but developers are due to start major renovations within the next few months, the Beijing News said on Friday
"Work (on the office building) is forecast to take 10 months, and be finished by the end of the year at the earliest," the paper paraphrased Wang Chun, a senior official in the Olympic Green Management Committee, as saying.
Developers would build "Beijing's largest water amusement park" on the south side of the $143 million venue, complete with a fake beach and a wave machine. A "high-class" members-only swimming club would round out the north and west sides, Wang said.

Obama: "This is not just another public works program,"

Obama: "This is not just another public works program,"

He said the overwhelming majority of the three million jobs he wants to "save or create" would be in the private sector. (Lawrence Summers, chief architect of the plan and Obama's National Economic Council chair, has promised that 80% of those jobs would be in the private sector.)
Obama promises an "unprecedented" routing of wasteful government spending and a transparency process that will put details of his new spending online for public review. On Wednesday, he appointed a McKinsey & Co. director, Nancy Killefer, as his top cop to monitor the hundreds of billions to be spent.
But the Obama plan is also defiantly long-term: doubling the production of alternative energy, outfitting public buildings with energy efficient windows and insulation, constructing a "smart grid," investing in science and research and schools, building and repairing roads and bridges. The broad sweep of his plan begs the question: Once the federal spigot is turned on for these projects, however worthy each may be, how does it get shut off?
As Washington veterans well know, "temporary" doesn't usually appear in Congress' vocabulary - since every program comes with a built-in, and generally noisy, constituency. It took Congress 108 years to eliminate a 3% excise tax on long-distance calls - a levy imposed on "the wealthy" in 1898 to help fund the Spanish-American War.

Keynesian-style stimulus
A wide range of economists - including conservatives who met with Republican senators Wednesday - agree that the U.S. economy needs a massive injection of Keynesian-style spending to avoid a freefall.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Atheist Bus Campaign in London began when comedy writer Ariane Sherine saw an advert on a London bus featuring the Bible quote, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find Faith on this Earth?” [sic]. A website URL ran underneath the quote, and when Sherine visited the site she learned that, as a non-believer, she would be “condemned to everlasting separation from God and then spend all eternity in torment in hell”.

Bus Locations
This map shows the locations of all the atheist buses across the UK. In towns other than London atheist buses can appear on a number of routes. In London the buses can be seen on Route 18: Euston-Wembley, Route 29: Palmers Green-Trafalgar Square, Route 38: Clapton Pond-Victoria, Route 73/149: Edmonton-London Bridge, Route 207: Shepherds Bush-Uxbridge.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Apple to expand DRM-free iTunes content, revise pricing

Apple to expand DRM-free iTunes content, revise pricing

(Source: Free Mobile Content)
Macworld rumor du jour: Apple will announce a series of new licensing deals that will expand its catalog of DRM-free iTunes downloads across all four major record labels--in addition, the computing giant will also embrace a more flexible iTunes pricing structure. CNet reports that Apple has inked deals with Sony BMG, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group to offer iTunes downloads free of digital rights management protections--the agreements follow close to two years after Apple announced a similar deal with the fourth major, EMI Music. Per terms of that agreement, iTunes introduced DRM-free EMI content at a higher-quality 256 kbps AAC encoding for a premium $1.29 per-song price tag, but as CNet points out, the EMI catalog accounts for less than 10 percent of all music sold in the U.S.

In conjunction with the new label agreements, Apple will reportedly trim the cost of catalog music to 79 cents per song, down from the current 99 cents for each DRM-encoded track. CNet adds labels will now be given the flexibility to price some current chart blockbusters for more than 99 cents, but as those songs lose steam at radio and retail, their prices will fall back to the new 79 cents standard as well. The report adds Apple will also confirm the availability of over-the-air iTunes downloads, an announcement rumored since version 2.2 of the iPhone software appeared in late 2008: Citing leaked screenshots depicting an iPhone user downloading a podcast from iTunes via 3G connection, pundits have speculated that Apple would sooner or later activate an iTunes premium music download application as well

The Population Growth of the World's Largest Country

China Population
The Population Growth of the World's Largest Country

Jul 30 2008
With just over 1.3 billion people (1,330,044,605 as of mid-2008), China is the world's largest and most populous country.
As the world's population is approximately 6.7 billion, China represents a full 20% of the world's population so one in every five people on the planet is a resident of China.
As recently as 1950, China's population was a mere 563 million. The population grew dramatically through the following decades to one billion in the early 1980s.
China's total fertility rate is 1.7, which means that, on average, each woman gives birth to 1.7 children throughout her life. The necessary total fertility rate for a stable population is 2.1; nonetheless, China's population is expected to grow over the next few decades. This can be attributed to immigration and a decrease in infant mortality and a decrease in death rate as national health improves.

China's population officially passed 1.3 billion citizens, with the birth of a baby boy early on Jan 6, 2005.
The boy was born Thursday at the Beijing Maternity Hospital at 12:02 a.m. (1602 GMT Wednesday) to a father who works for Air China and a mother employed by Shell China, Xinhua said. The newborn baby's overjoyed father was quoted as saying his son would be blessed his whole life.
China's population is expected to increase by about 10 million a year, hitting a peak of 1.46 billion in the 2030s.

Millionaires' Net Worth Down 30% in Current Financial Crisis

Millionaires' Net Worth Down 30% in Current Financial Crisis
Most Fear Long Downturn, Insufficient Assets for Present Lifestyle; Many Unhappy With Advisors' Performance

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - January 6, 2009) - America's millionaires are feeling significant pain.
U.S. households worth $1 million or more have seen their assets decline 30% during the current financial crisis, according to a new report released today by Spectrem Group ( Nearly one-fifth (17%) of millionaires have absorbed declines greater than 40%, according to the report, titled "Attitudes of Affluent Investors on Surviving the Economic Crisis."
Nearly all the millionaires surveyed (90%) fear a prolonged economic downturn. Altogether, they believe it will last for another 22 months, and more than half (55%) are concerned they will not have sufficient assets to maintain their present lifestyles.
"The current financial crisis has had a dramatic impact on America's millionaires, reducing their net worth substantially and threatening their ability to maintain both lifestyles and retirement plans. While they blame the government and Wall Street directly for the situation, many millionaires are not happy with their advisors' performance and few say they will increase the work they give to advisors," said Catherine S. McBreen, Managing Director of Spectrem Group.
Indeed, just 36% of millionaires feel their advisor performed well during the crisis and only 14% say they will increase their use of financial advisors in the future.
The Spectrem Group report, "Attitudes of Affluent Investors on Surviving the Economic Crisis," is based on the online polling of 750 households with over $1 million of net worth. Polling was conducted in November 2008. The data have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Information was also gathered during focus groups conducted in New York, Palm Beach, Seattle, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Attitudes of Affluent Investors On Surviving The Economic Crisis

As the U.S. economy begins to understand the impact of the largest financial crisis since The Great Depression, investors will reassess how to invest (or save) their assets and who they turn to for advice. How has this crisis impacted these households and are they changing their portfolios? Their attitudes? Their Providers? Their lifestyles?
Spectrem Group, the market leader in research of households with over $1 million, plans to quickly assess the attitudes, behaviors and outlooks of wealthy households to allow financial services providers and others to review and adjust their strategic plans as well as the products and services they will be offering to these investors in the next twelve to twenty-four months. Now, more than ever, investment and financial services providers, must understand how to position themselves to obtain and even retain current customers. It is critical for providers to understand these households to increase their fee based services.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Heineken 'Experience' reopens in Amsterdam, includes high-tech exhibits

Heineken 'Experience' reopens in Amsterdam, includes high-tech exhibits

(From Canadian Press)
One of Amsterdam's most popular attractions among young adults, the Experience has reopened after a year of renovations.
Long gone are the days when the tour, located on the site of Heineken's former brewery in Amsterdam, was mostly a way to drink unlimited amounts of booze.
The remodelled version lives up to its name, a cross between corporate museum and a chance to achieve rapture with one of the world's most-recognized beer brands.
Though for cynics the Experience may feel like one long advertisement, for those who love the beer it's "a pilgrimage," says Bob Rogers, a branding expert who advised Heineken on the museum's renovations.
The new Experience updates its offerings with several high-tech exhibits targeting the "YouTube" generation.
For instance, visitors can perform karaoke of the cheesy Dutch classic song "Tulips from Amsterdam" against a backdrop of canals - and instantly send a video clip of the event by e-mail to their friends.
The tour begins with a short film designed to praise Heineken's history, in which the word "quality" is mentioned a dozen or more times.

Map Amsterdam Heineken 'Experience' Stadhouderskade

Grotere kaart weergeven

CBS in uw Buurt (Nederland)

CBS in uw Buurt (Nederland)

Kies een buurt en leer hem kennen op basis van statistische informatie. Wonen er jongeren of juist ouderen, staan er dure of goedkope huizen? En hoe is dat vergeleken met de gemeente waar hij in ligt? De statistische informatie over uw buurt, gemiddelde huizenprijzen en meer met kaarten, grafieken en tabellen. Printen en downloaden, publicaties en documenten van uw gemeente.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Europa volgt installatie Aboutaleb

Europa volgt installatie Aboutaleb

De installatie van Ahmed Aboutaleb als burgemeester van Rotterdam kan maandag rekenen op enorme mediabelangstelling. Niet alleen kranten, radio- en televisiestations uit Nederland zullen verslag doen, ook media uit België, Duitsland, Frankrijk, Turkije en Marokko hebben zich aangemeld.
Aboutaleb is in Nederland de eerste burgemeester van Marokkaanse afkomst. Of alle aangemelde media ook daadwerkelijk aanwezig zijn, betwijfelt een woordvoerder. ''In de raadzaal is maar een beperkt aantal plaatsen, maar via onze website is de installatie live te volgen. En bovendien verschijnt de speech van Aboutaleb in meerdere talen op internet.''

Rede van dhr. Ahmed Aboutaleb ter gelegenheid van zijn installatie tot burgemeester van Rotterdam op maandag 5 januari 2009. Klik op deze link

The dangers of too much detox

The dangers of too much detox

A woman was left disabled after following a "detox" diet which involved drinking large quantities of water.
Although doctors stress the need to avoid dehydration by drinking enough fluids, drinking more than enough is a different matter.
The human body may be mostly water, but you can have too much of a good thing.
In the most serious cases, "water intoxication" can kill, and there is, say experts, scant evidence that drinking even slightly more water than usual can improve your health.
The current popularity of detox diets which recommend drinking many litres of water a day, and drinking even when not thirsty, could cause problems if taken to extremes, they say.
The claim is that drinking more than usual can do everything from improving your skin tone to "flushing out" toxins from your body.
Ursula Arens, a dietician, said that there was a difference between normal consumption of one or two litres a day, not just in the form of water, but also from coffee, tea, and juice, and constant, ritualistic consumption of water throughout the day.
"You shouldn't be drinking massively over and above what you feel with comfortable with, when you're not thirsty, in a mechanical way."
She said that the evidence supporting the whole "hydration industry" was flawed.

Consumer Electronics Show The 2009 International CES, January 8-11, Las Vegas, Nev.

Consumer Electronics Show
The 2009 International CES, January 8-11, Las Vegas, Nev.

Organizers optimistic, but data suggest expo's draw will drop.

The last time the International Consumer Electronics Show opened in a recession this deep, pocket calculators, bar codes and rudimentary word processors were cutting-edge technology.
How the current recession -- the worst since 1974, according to some recent national unemployment numbers -- affects the 2009 edition of North America's biggest gadget show remains to be seen.
Indicators to measure the success of CES, which opens Thursday, are mixed.
Organizers at the Consumer Electronics Association say preregistration numbers are similar to 2008 when about 142,000 people attended the event.
The 2009 show also boasts about 300 new exhibitors, including mobile telecommunications giant Verizon Wireless, and CES could get another boost from an announcement that Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs won't be participating in the competing Macworld show in California.

Las Vegas tech show shrinks
The annual Consumer Electronics Show will likely feel the economic recession, with fewer manufacturers, retailers and people turning up to check out the newest gadgets.
With shoppers in a funk and companies scaling back, the annual Consumer Electronics Show extravaganza in Las Vegas this week is likely to be subdued, with fewer manufacturers, retailers and people expected in attendance.
The focus is likely to be on smaller, more connected and greener devices that can help consumers save on bills. That is a change from years past, when companies trafficked in excess, offering items such as massive 150-inch TVs that were beyond the financial reach of most consumers.

CNET CES Preview, video link

Future technology unveiled at CES (BBC Video)

CES Widget

Waterford Wedgwood Collapses

Waterford Wedgwood Collapses, Iconic British brand names in trouble

Waterford Wedgwood, which employs around 7,700 worldwide, is the latest in a burgeoning list of iconic British companies to succumb to the global economic slowdown and credit squeeze. Department store veteran Woolworths, the queen's tailor Hardy Amies, tea and coffee merchant Whittard of Chelsea and fellow ceramics stalwart Royal Worcester and Spode have all filed for bankruptcy protection in recent months.
Wedgwood has been an iconic name in British pottery for 250 years, after its founder Josiah Wedgwood opened the first factory in Stoke-on-Trent, central England, in 1759. It began making bone china in the 19th century.

The Best Viral Political Videos of 2008

The Best Viral Political Videos of 2008
In the final episode of "The Power Recap," Slate V looks back at the top 20 viral videos of the 2008 presidential campaign.

China launches crackdown on pornography, targeting Google, other portals, search engines

China targets Google in crackdown on pornography
China launches crackdown on pornography, targeting Google, other portals, search engines

(From Yahoo Business News) BEIJING (AP) -- China launched a major crackdown on Internet pornography Monday targeting popular online portals and major search engines such as Google.
Seven government agencies will work together on the campaign to "purify the Internet's cultural environment and protect the healthy development of minors," according to an announcement on the government's official Chinese-language Web site,
Pornography is banned in China, though the government's Internet police struggle to block Web sites based abroad.
The government announcement said Google and Baidu, China's two most heavily used search engines, had failed to take "efficient" measures after receiving notices from the country's Internet watchdog that they were providing links to pornographic material.
The statement also named popular Web portals Sina and Sohu, as well as a number of video sharing sites and online bulletin boards, that it said contain problematic photos, blogs and postings.
It said violators will be severely punished, but did not give details or say how long the campaign will last.
A Google spokeswoman in China, Cui Jin, defended the site's operations, saying it does not contain any pornographic content.

China has the world's largest population of Internet users with more than 250 million. The central government has blocked access to many Web sites it considers subversive or too political, including The New York Times' Web site on Dec. 19. It was unblocked a couple days later and remained open Monday.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

What Have You Changed Your Mind About in 2009?

What Have You Changed Your Mind About?

What have you changed your mind about? This year’s Edge question is the preceding one, and John Brockman gets answers (many of them interesting and/or unpredictable) from a long list of people, including scientists, economics, psychiatrists, writers, etc.

(From Paul Kedrosky Infectious Greed Blog)

* Whether there are institutions that are too big to fail (No)
* Whether phones need keyboards (No)
* Why TV exists (I don’t know anymore)
* Whether bond yields can go negative (Yes, obviously)
* The important of ignorance (Vastly underrated)
* Whether economics matters (Maybe)
* Mountain-biking (Not just for wahoos who don’t ski)
* The role of contrarianism (Important, but entirely misunderstood too)
* Whether blogs matter (More than I thought they did)
* Whether Twitter is any use (Yes)
* Whether AM radio is a wasteland (Yes, but still matters)
* Large data sets (Way more dangerous than I thought they were)
* Reading books on screen (Totally doable)
* Venture capital (Much closer to unnecessary)
* Hedge funds (I’ve gone from it being mostly about chance to it being almost entirely about chance)
* Sincerity (Under-rated)
* Market valuation (Historical numbers matter only minimally)
* Technical analysis (It works until it doesn’t, but it can work)
* Agnosticism (It’s a cop-out. I’m an atheist.)
* Warren Buffett (Smart, but also the ultimate market limit order that will one day be disastrously taken out)
* Babies (I now smile inanely at other people’s)
* China recession (Better than 50% chance it happens, up from near zero)
* Vanity Fair (Worth reading for more than the pictures)
* Eschatological leanings (Rational response to universal entropy)
* Current account deficits (Hugely important, but can last far longer under unique circumstances)
* Wholesale funding model (Works until it doesn’t)
* Debt (Even more necessary more dangerous than I thought it was)
* 50-year Treasury (Has to happen)
* Lessons from Japan bubble/decline (It is a cop-out to say they didn’t try hard enough)
* Marx (Funnier than I thought he was)
* Bonds and bond market (Baffled why I was under-allocated for so long)
* Professional sports (Gone from being a waste of time to a _complete_ waste of time with looming bankruptcies)
* This time it’s different (Sometimes it really is different)
* Whether oil can get to $200/$20 again in 12 months (Yes and yes)

Iceland After the Fall

Iceland After the Fall

How is this Viking descendant credit-hooked mini state coping with the economic crisis?

Slate Magazine's Nathan Heller visits Iceland, where a financial collapse has spawned deep-set unrest in the nation of 313,000. "Iceland is, for many of us, the waist of the hourglass: the narrowest point in the flow of culture and commerce that buoys modern life, a place where the First World is winnowed and exposed," Heller writes in the first entry. During a rally in the capital, Reykjavik, a "vandal in a cheap Santa suit and gremlin mask" dumps a sack of potatoes on the steps of the parliament house--a sign that the nation is now so poor that this is the main staple of your average Icelander's diet. In the second entry, Heller encounters a group of people throwing raw meat and cheese wedges at the prime minister's office. "This, I learn, is 'rat food,' left for Geir Haarde, the prime minister.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Four Ways for Detroit to Save Itself

Four Ways for Detroit to Save Itself (New York Times)

THESE days, as we contemplate the future of the automotive industry, we would do well to remember the words of Henry Ford: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
For Detroit, there is plenty of failure. But there are also plenty of opportunities to begin again. In fact, there are many new technologies to make cars safer, cheaper, cleaner and more convenient. All these could be adopted by the automobile industry in the near future and without too much trouble.
Here are just four technologies that could be put on the road in the next several years. These technologies — some of which we invest in — are win-wins. They have the potential to improve energy efficiency, cut down on accidents, reduce pollution and make commuting more convenient. They might even help put the American car industry back in the driver’s seat.

U.S. consumers have trouble paying their credit card debts.

Happy New Year? Not for credit card companies

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Credit card companies have little to celebrate as many analysts brace for 2009 to be one of the worst years on record for consumer credit.
Losses for the industry could top $70 billion, but it is hard to predict how bad the pain will be.
U.S. consumers have never before been so deeply in debt. There was nearly $1 trillion of credit and charge card debt outstanding as of October, up more than 25 percent since 2003, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. That is in addition to $10.54 trillion in mortgage debt.
Unemployment, already at 15-year highs, is expected to rise to its highest levels since the early 1980s, when credit cards were not nearly as widespread.
In short, there's more debt than ever and fewer people are able to pay it.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Toyota is secretly developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy

Toyota is secretly developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy
Tokyo, Japan - Toyota Motor Corp. is secretly developing a vehicle that will be powered solely by solar energy in an effort to turn around its struggling business with a futuristic ecological car, a top business daily reported Thursday.
Toyota is also likely to indirectly gain expertise in solar energy when its partner in developing and producing hybrid batteries, Panasonic Corp., takes over Japanese rival Sanyo Electric Co., a leader in solar energy, early next year.
The solar panels on the roofs add up in size to the equivalent of 60 tennis courts and produce enough electricity to power 500 homes, according to Toyota. That reduces 740 tons a year of carbon dioxide emissions and is equal to using 1,500 barrels of crude oil.

See also to get an insight of what Toyota is working on.