Thursday, April 30, 2009
(01:09) Report Reuters Video
Apr 29 - Germany and Austria confirm their first three cases of swine flu, as the virus arrives in the heart of continental Europe.
The Netherlands had it's first confirmed case of swine flu.
WHO raises alarm level to 5.
In the Netherlands the swine flu is called Mexican Flu (Mexicaanse Griep). In the U.S. it is also callled AH1N1 flu.
In his latest book, The Next 100 Years, Friedman explains how war in space is unavoidable; "wherever humans go, war will follow," he writes. Moreover, any enemy that seeks to attack the United States must, ultimately, try to take out our space-based military satellites. Knowing this, U.S. military command will move toward a system of permanent bases in space - manned by humans and robots - to defend and repair those critical assets.
Om 16.45 volgt er een persconferentie. Het ziet er naar uit dat het een éénmansactie is en een bewuste daad van de bestuurder. Auto(Suzuki) reed door dranghekken en publiek, 17 gewonden, enkele dodelijke (volgens de laatste berichten 5) slachtoffers. Alles gebeurde tijdens de Koninginnedag festiviteiten in Apeldoorn. In het hele land zijn de festiviteiten afgelast.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
(Source By Robin Lloyd, LiveScience Senior Editor)
posted: 27 April 2009 04:12 pm ET
A team of scientists predicted more than a year ago that Mexico and other tropical locales were emerging "hotspots" for so-called zoonotic diseases that jump from animals to humans, getting it right on the newly reported swine flu.
This week, the scientists are analyzing the patterns of the new swine flu virus's spread and trying to predict its next moves. The researchers "should have preliminary findings by the weekend," team leader Peter Daszak of the Wildlife Trust told LiveScience.
Daszak and his colleagues cautioned in February 2008 that infectious disease-fighting resources are not effectively deployed around the globe and that the U.S. government has not always accurately investigated how flu strains will arrive here.
The tropics prediction came from an analysis of 335 "disease events" involving emerging infectious diseases between 1940 and 2004 — examples include Ebola, HIV, yellow fever and SARS. The analysis showed that such events peaked in the 1980s and that the threat of these diseases to global health is increasing.
The events, mostly caused by zoonotic diseases, were found to be correlated with socio-economic, environmental and ecological factors.
That allowed the scientists to make a predictive map of where emerging diseases are most likely to emerge — pointing to Latin America, tropical Africa and Asia. The map also pointed up that global resources to fight disease emergence are misguided — focusing on richer, developed countries of Europe, North America, parts of Asia and Australia, rather than in developing countries. The report was published in the Feb. 21, 2008, issue of the journal Nature. Read Article...
The disease event prediction map is like an earthquake risk map, Daszak said. "If we live in one of these 'hotspots,' we need to protect ourselves, and our trading and traveling partners from the risk of new diseases," he said.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry
The latest American Religious Identification Survey revealed that nonreligious Americans now outnumber American Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons combined.
Despite the stereotypes others may have of non-believers, we are law-abiding citizens, charitable members of the community, and good neighbors. In fact, a surprisingly large percentage of famous artists, writers, philanthropists, activists, composers, actors, musicians and scientists are non-believers. (See here, here, here and here for lists.) At the same time, they also make up a surprisingly small percentage of the prison population.
US (New York Times Permalink)
More Atheists Shout It From the Rooftops
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN Published: April 27, 2009
Organized atheist groups liken their strategy to the gay-rights movement, which lifted off when members of a scorned minority went public.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
A novel flu virus has struck hundreds of people in Mexico, and at least 18 have died. It has also infected 17 people in the US, and appears able to spread readily from human to human. The World Health Organization is calling an emergency meeting to decide whether to declare the possible onset of a flu pandemic.
Ironically, after years of concern about H5N1 bird flu, the new flu causing concern is a pig virus, of a family known as H1N1.
Flu viruses are named after the two main proteins on their surfaces, abbreviated H and N. They are also differentiated by what animal they usually infect. The H in the new virus comes from pigs, but some of its other genes come from bird and human flu viruses, a mixture that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls "very unusual". http://www.cdc.gov/
On Wednesday, the CDC announced that routine surveillance had uncovered mild flu cases during late March and April, caused by a novel swine flu virus. Those affected, aged 9 to 54, live in and around San Diego, California, and San Antonio, Texas, near the Mexican border. None was severe. Symptoms were normal for flu, with more nausea and diarrhoea than usual.
On Thursday, Canadian public health officials warned Canadians travelling to Mexico of clusters of severe flu-like illness there. Then on Friday the WHO in Geneva said in a statement there have been around 900 suspected cases of swine flu in Mexico City and two other regions of Mexico, with around 60 suspected deaths. Of those, 18 have been confirmed as H1N1 swine flu, says the WHO, and tests so far have shown that 12 of those are "genetically identical" to the California virus.
Swine influenza frequently asked questions, Download PDF (WHO)
Science (New York Times Permalink)
Dot Earth: Contagion on a Small Planet
By By Andrew C. Revkin Published: April 26, 2009
A spreading outbreak of swine flu is showing the global reach of disease on a small planet.
World gov'ts race to contain swine flu outbreak
US declares health emergency as world officials race to contain worrisome swine flu, panic
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Governments are racing to find and contain pockets of swine flu around the globe, seeking to stem both the threat of a pandemic and public panic.
"We're preparing in an environment where we really don't know ultimately what the size or seriousness of this outbreak is going to be," U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Sunday.
In Mexico, the outbreak's epicenter, soldiers handed out 6 million face masks to help stop the spread of the novel virus that is suspected in up to 103 deaths. Most other countries are reporting only mild cases so far, with most of the sick already recovering. Cases have been confirmed in Canada -- six -- and the U.S. -- 20 -- and other countries from Spain to New Zealand were investigating whether other people with flulike symptoms really have this new swine flu or something else.
There is not a global pandemic yet, but waiting until scientists know if the new virus is going to spread rapidly and easily would be too late.
The U.S. declared the health emergency amid confusion about whether new numbers really mean ongoing infections -- or just that health officials had missed something simmering for weeks or months. But the move allows the government to ship roughly 12 million doses of flu-fighting medications from a federal stockpile to states in case they eventually need them.
Swine flu outcome 'uncertain' 3:50
The director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy says the swine flu virus outcome is uncertain.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
In the latest episode of Real Time with Bill Maher on 3/4/2009, there was a point made by David Frum. He made the point that should the world be serious on the point of combating climate change, there should be a whole hearted shift to nuclear power. But how credible is this point?
For one, nuclear energy is very clean. It only emits only water vapor into the air (due to water turning into steam in the cooling process of creating nuclear energy). It is being used extensively in France which has more than ¾ of her electrical energy coming from nuclear power, and France has yet to suffer any big drawbacks of nuclear energy.
Nuclear energy is also available in the United States. In fact, United States export nuclear materials to India as highlighted in the deal recently signed between India and the United States. So there is also the point of it being something that could bring down the net deficits that the United States is suffering.
The flip of this coin is that while it does not emit any carbon emissions, there still need to be place to store the solid waste that is produced by means of nuclear energy. This is rather expensive and what represents the majority of the cost incurred while creating nuclear power.
The other problem is a very simple thing : It is limited and not recyclable. You cannot use a standard rod of uranium again after you used it once. Should the world shift to nuclear energy all at once, it would only last 50-150 years.
To me that is my major bone of contention with nuclear power. While it is no doubt better than the carbon based fuels that we are using today, it is still not a permanent solution to the problem at all. I also think that because of that, nuclear power should be only used as a stop-gap measure. Nuclear energy should only be used because it can buy time for the transition to other forms of fuels.
There are several already in the market. Transportation is one of the areas of our society that emits the most carbon into the atmosphere. It is time that we look to alternatives there too. The most promising as Jay Leno can attest to is Hydrogen cars. Currently, only the Germans have the technology to split oxygen from ice (water) cost effectively. Hydrogen cars react with Oxygen to form water. The Japanese have technology that can do that but not take Hydrogen out cost effectively.
We should also be looking at solutions such as Algaculture. Algae can be harvested in a multi-story level. Ask anybody that has a pool and fish tank on what happens when you do not clean them. It is easy to produce and is more produced 10 times more fuel than bio-diesel made from the US bio-fuel of choice, corn. In fact even sugar is more efficient than corn. Read Article...
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
New York International Automobile Show: A WORLD OF CARS
April 10-19 2009
The New York Auto Show is value-packed fun for the whole family combining the best place to compare the world’s finest cars and trucks with state-of-the-art displays, celebrities, prizes, giveaways, interactive exhibits and vehicle test drives.
For 109-years, NYIAS has ignited the passion and stirred the soul of car lovers with its futuristic concept cars and new vehicles and 2009 is no exception. Compare every new car on the market under one roof, in one day, without any pressure to buy. Whether you’re looking for a small car that makes a big impression, something fun, fast and frugal, or you want to get plugged into a hybrid or electric vehicle there is no better place to research your next new car, crossover, minivan, SUV, or truck.
Chrysler rolls out SUV after government scolding
Chrysler plays to customer base with new Grand Cherokee, despite criticism of its SUV reliance
NEW YORK (AP) -- It sounds crazy: Just a week after the White House scolded Chrysler LLC for relying too much on gas guzzlers, the company is heading to a marquee auto show Wednesday to unveil a new SUV.
Chrysler insists the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which clocks in at 20 mpg in its two-wheel-drive version and 19 in four-wheel-drive, is a crowd favorite and a crucial part of its lineup.
"This is a very important vehicle for us. It's one of the primary legs of the Chrysler stool," Chrysler spokesman Rick Deneau said. "Customers have told us they want this vehicle and that it's the right size."
The 2011 model is 11 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor, powered by a cleaner and more powerful engine. Still, Chrysler's decision to debut an SUV as its only new car at the New York International Auto Show
8 million users can't be wrong. If only it made some money.
(breakingviews.com) -- What's the big deal with Twitter? The online instant update service has become a media sensation and a supposed target for the likes of Google and Facebook. But is it an over-hyped flash in the pan or a real business opportunity? The answer could be a bit of each.
Twitter lets people or organizations send messages to "followers" - fans, clients, employees or anyone who signs up. The updates, thoughts or reactions arrive instantly via cell phone or computer updates. They're limited to 140 characters each, so pithiness is vital. (All but one of the sentences in this article qualify.)
Twitter's 8 million users run the gamut from lovelorn teenagers to celebrities like Britney Spears to the New York Times. The last of these has more than 500,000 followers receiving its story links and news updates. Some members of the U.S. Congress use Twitter to fill in their constituents. A few have even been spotted tapping away on their mobile phones in the middle of President Barack Obama's speeches.
The celebrity presence has drawn millions of users and driven media attention, but it can seem pretty inane. British actor Stephen Fry has 382,000 followers tracking updates of his peculiar daily minutiae. One example: "Me in a sarong. The freedom and ease ... Mmmm could get to like x".
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Bold fashion defies slowdown in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters Life!) - Designers defied the global economic crisis at this season's South African fashion week by showing off vibrant outfits with hints of tradition inspired by a golden era of African civilisation.
Stoned Cherrie, South Africa's best-known black design label, closed fashion week in Johannesburg with bold colors and fabrics reminiscent of royalty, influenced by the ancient Mapungubwe civilisation from southern Africa.
"Stoned Cherrie is about abundance," Nkhensani Nkosi told Reuters after the show, which featured models bedecked in brightly colored dresses covered with frills, mixing fabrics such as mesh, lycra and a delicate silky cotton.
"Inspired by the curiosity around Mapungubwe, we basically tried to imagine what it would have been like in the present day," she added.
Mapungubwe is believed to have developed into the largest kingdom in sub-Saharan Africa before it was abandoned in the 14th century and may have boasted sophisticated trade links with India and China as far back as a thousand years ago.
Fashion in post-apartheid South Africa reflects the country's journey from pariah state to a multiracial democracy, as young designers like Nkosi mirror the country's diversity and growing cultural confidence.
GM and Segway unveil new two-wheeled urban vehicle General Motors and Segway working together to develop electric vehicle for urban transport
(Source Yahoo Finance)
Tuesday April 7, 2009, 12:05 am EDT
NEW YORK (AP) -- A solution to the world's urban transportation problems could lie in two wheels not four, according to executives for General Motors Corp. and Segway Inc.
The companies announced Tuesday that they are working together to develop a two-wheeled, two-seat electric vehicle designed to be a fast, safe, inexpensive and clean alternative to traditional cars and trucks for cities across the world.
The Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility, or PUMA, project also would involve a vast communications network that would allow vehicles to interact with each other, regulate the flow of traffic and prevent crashes from happening.
"We're excited about doing more with less," said Jim Norrod, chief executive of Segway, the Bedford, N.H.-based maker of electric scooters. "Less emissions, less dependability on foreign oil and less space."
The 300-pound prototype runs on a lithium-ion battery and uses Segway's characteristic two-wheel balancing technology, along with dual electric motors. It's designed to reach speeds of up to 35 miles-per-hour and can run 35 miles on a single charge.
The companies did not release a projected cost for the vehicle, but said ideally its total operating cost -- including purchase price, insurance, maintenance and fuel -- would total between one-fourth and one-third of that of the average traditional vehicle.
Larry Burns, GM's vice president of research and development, and strategic planning, said the project is part of Detroit-based GM's effort to remake itself as a purveyor of fuel-efficient vehicles. If Hummer took GM to the large-vehicle extreme, Burns said, the PUMA takes GM to the other.
Ideally, the vehicles would also be part of a communications network that through the use of transponder and GPS technology would allow them to drive themselves. The vehicles would automatically avoid obstacles such as pedestrians and other cars and therefore never crash, Burns said. Read Article...
Introducing Project P.U.M.A.
Building upon transportation tech expertise
There are some things from Segway that make what we do truly unique. It’s not really like a kit of parts where we sprinkle a little tech here and a little there and end up with something that moves around. Instead, it’s a holistic approach – making sure that you smile whenever you try something from Segway.
Still, there are a few things that we inject in there that are worth calling out:
* Dynamic stabilization: The ability to balance on two wheels and have a true zero turning radius. It gives you incredible maneuverability.
* Electric propulsion: It’s extremely efficient and gives us significant fine control over vehicle dynamics. You also can use regenerative braking to charge back the batteries.
* Smart battery management: We’re one of the world’s largest customers of large format lithium-ion batteries. As such, we’ve become experts about the safe and efficient use of their chemistry.
* Drive-by-wire digital controls: Think about this whole thing as a digital solution to an analog problem. All steering inputs, acceleration, and deceleration are done with zeros and ones instead of levers, cables, and pads.
* Intuitive user interface: Shifting the center of mass of the vehicle controls how fast it goes and how quickly it stops. Check out the video to see it in action.
* Digital dashboard: Data from the vehicle such as speed, battery life, and other information can flow wireless to a handheld device wirelessly. Add in real-time traffic and other connectivity info. and you’ll be armed with enough information to sail through your commute.
Testing out GM's two-wheeled oddball
The carmaker's latest balancing act involves an electric car for urban streets.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Even as General Motors executives are seriously discussing a recently-unthinkable bankruptcy back in Detroit, others were unveiling an equally implausible prototype for a futuristic personal transportation vehicle in New York City.
Believe it or not, the company best known for riding the SUV wave to the brink of collapse now says it is committed to bringing this small, weird-looking contraption to a city near you. I was among the first to get a chance to ride around in GM and Segway's sole prototype vehicle.
Getting into the PUMA prototype was a hassle as I wrestled with a complex four-point safety harness that, I assume, will not be on the production vehicle. A technician warned me to gather up the loose ends of my overcoat lest they get caught in the wheel. (In some ways, it reminded of an experience I once had driving a Model T Ford.)
"Close the door" someone yelled and a technician came forward to lower the yellow-and-black safety bar that, for now, passes for a "door."
"Keep your legs loose," the driver warned me.
When in motion, the same sort of automatic balancing technology that holds the Segway personal transporter - commonly called a "scooter" - upright on its two wheels allows the PUMA to do the same with two seated occupants.
During a test ride - for now, only trained drivers are allowed to operate the prototype vehicle - the PUMA transporter felt perfectly stable. Other than the fact that it can rotate while standing in place, it felt similar to riding in a small car at slow speeds.Read Article...
Monday, April 6, 2009
Apr 1, 2009 filed under Business News CNN Video
South African carmaker introduces the new Zagato at this year's Geneva auto show.
In Detroit, three downtown businesses have created a local currency, or scrip, to keep dollars earned locally in the community.
Communities print own currencies to keep cash flowing
A small but growing number of cash-strapped communities are printing their own money.
Borrowing from a Depression-era idea, they are aiming to help consumers make ends meet and support struggling local businesses.
The systems generally work like this: Businesses and individuals form a network to print currency. Shoppers buy it at a discount — say, 95 cents for $1 value — and spend the full value at stores that accept the currency.
Workers with dwindling wages are paying for groceries, yoga classes and fuel with Detroit Cheers, Ithaca Hours in New York, Plenty in North Carolina or BerkShares in Massachusetts.
Ed Collom, a University of Southern Maine sociologist who has studied local currencies, says they encourage people to buy locally. Merchants, hurting because customers have cut back on spending, benefit as consumers spend the local cash.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Nike x Paule Marrot Edition - Women Skinny Dunks
Designed with women wearers in mind, Nike has incorporated several aspects to its Nike Sportswear program this season. First element is the new Dunk silhouette, known as “Skinny Dunk”, addressed the particularity in women’s fashion trend. Second element is the designed pattern. Where as previous edition focus more on colorways, the new collection features popular textiles of the past, such as the Liberty & Co. Collection last month to the most recent editions, seen here, from the archive of French artist Paule Marrot. Born into a creative family, her early exposure to the arts made her a natural, whether it be in music or illustrations. At just the age of 35, Marrot has won the prestigious Grand Prix à l’Exposition, one of her many accolades bestowed upon her during her lifetime.
(01:19) Reuters Video Report
Apr. 4 - Crowds of fans gather in Essex to mourn UK reality TV star Jade Goody.
Thousands of people turned out to bid farewell to reality TV star Jade Goody on Saturday, a fittingly public end for a woman whose life and death were pored over by the celebrity-obsessed media.
Sarah Barden reports.
Apr 3, 2009 filed under Fortune
With electric motorcycles, the thrill of revving the engine could be a thing of the past.
Saturday, April 4, 2009
The economic crisis is spreading, now in Madrid
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Spain's Unemployment Continues Its Sharp Upward Surge
The number of unemployed in Spain was up again in March - by "only" 123,543. I say "only" since it is evidently less than the 154,508 increase registered in February, or the 198,538 registered in January. And indeed many of the newspaper stories have been full of arguments from Employment Minister Maravillas Rojo (would that she could work "Maravillas") about how Spain registered the weakest unemployment gain in six months in March (when compared to the previous month). However, as those who look into the economic analysis side of this a bit more (and who don't believe in either wonders or "miracles) point out, taking seasonal factors into account the monthly 3.55% rise in March shows a more or less steady trend, and no special sign of improvement, despite the large stimulus programme. Last March, for example, unemployment fell by 0.62%.
So when we come to look at the year on year situation (which more or less eliminates the seasonal variation) we find that the year on year rate of increase of 56.69% was the highest so far, and if we look at the chart we will see there is no sign of a softening in the curve.
By Debra J. Dickerson | Thu April 2, 2009 11:46 AM PST
(Source Mother Jones Blog)
Ta-Nehisi Coates thinks so:
Bigotry is the heaping of one man's insecurity on to another. Sexism, racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism, anti-immigrantism, really all come from the same place--cowardice. In his history of lynching, Phillip Dray notes that mob violence against black men wasn't simply about keeping black men in their place--it was about keeping white women in their place. Lynching peaked as white women went to work outside the home in greater numbers, developing their own financial power base. White men, afraid that they couldn't compete with their women, would cowardly resort to lynching. I am not saying that the anti-gay marriage crowd is a lynch mob. But in tying opposition to the sexual revolution what you see is, beyond a fear of gay marriage, a fear for marriage itself. A fear that their way of life can't compete in these new times. It's ridiculous, of course. But bigotry always is.
DuBois wrote about racism as "the psychological wages of whiteness". Black equality would cost white people, and, of course, it did. You can't kill or rape blacks with impunity anymore, you can't make them sit in the back of the bus or stop them from drinking from 'your' fountain. So whites definitely lost things, both tangible and intangible, with the coming of equality. Of course, whites never had a right to those things. That's why the racial hierarchy had to be established, with all the attendant bennies and burdens nicely justified (whites are smart and work harder, etc.)
So, I think Coates is on to something with this notion - heteros lose one of the few advantages left to those born on the lucky side of any hierarchy, in this case, the sexuality continuum. Homophobes are manic about losing the right to have someone to openly look down on. To consider innately inferior. Which is convenient because their unworthiness then allows you to collect those psychological wages like straights only in the military, straights only in the classroom, straights only in public office (just imagine an openly gay Prez), straights only with the right to marry and all the bennies that come with it. Notice how quickly the psychological wages become all too tangible.
But this is an issue, like race, whose time has come. Enjoy the last few years left of discriminating against gays 'cuz them days is almost gone.