Archive for March 17, 2009

federico_solmi_crucifix

Certainly very appealing 🙂 . Federico Solmi‘s crucifix related to his 2008 hand-drawn animation video, “The Evil Empire”, according to jameswagner.com a satirical look at the outrageous exploits of a fictive pope, and a part of his “ongoing desire to satirize tyrants”. The crucifix caused a bit of furor while recently being shown at Bologna’s Arte Fiera. One could guess that it was the prominent red and white sub-object that aroused local judge Bruno Giangiacomo – even though he apparently had only heard about it second hand. He sent in the equally local Carabinieri who seized the crucifix from its display booth and charged the arist with blasphemy and obscenity. Problem though was that it had already been sold to a collector and that the statute had been allowing the blasphemy charge had been rendered null by a constitutional court in 2000 – the judge hadn’t kept up his frequent reading of legal literature one could guess. So the whole thing was a bit of a storm in a teacup, although it might have been a good marketing campaign for Solmi, as these backfiring conservative censorship attempts often are (not sure what happened to the obscenity charge).

Interesting that the whole event took place in Bologna, which always was a centre of the political left. jameswagner pointed out that the city “has the reputation here of being Italy’s most politically and socially radical. The artist’s own home town and the capital of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna led the country’s socialist movement early in the twentieth century, was extremely active in the revolt against the fascists in 1944, and after the war, until the last decade, the city consistently voted for communist governments”. But then, the socialists probably have become social democrats and the communists socialists; therefore with the whole spectrum maybe having moved to the right, conservative attacks on artistic freedom might not be unusual anymore. And: Italy for a long time now has always had strong politcal extremes.

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scec_paper

An interesting concept: a complementary currency to the Euro trialled in parts of Italy that encourages discount trading in local communities.

SCEC stands for Solidarietà che Cammina – Solidarity that walks. It is a complementary currency that is designed to start its life circulating in parallel to the official currency, the Euro. Adapted to the Italian situation where alternative currencies are looked upon as competition to the official one, SCEC defines itself as a complementary currency. It circulates together with the official currency.

SCEC comes in the form of a discount chit denominated in Euro equivalents (in denominations of 0.50 Euro, 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 Euro). It is distributed for free and acquires value only when used. Businesses and professionals agree to give a discount to buyers who pay (in part) with SCEC, usually around 20 %, but ranging mostly between 10 and 30 %.

SCEC is putting first emphasis on actually supporting local production and commerce over imports from far away and world wide commerce by multinationals. The currency makes local exchanges more convenient for people who use the system by virtue of getting substantial discounts on the normal price.

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tim_david

Photo: Verus Energy Ltd. Co-Founders Tim Jervis and David Diracles

Verus Energy is a development company focused on creating renewable power plants that use waste as the feedstock. Waste has been used to make heat or electricity on a commercial scale for quite some time, at least for the past 75 years. However, until recently the primary method of extracting energy from waste was incineration. The drawback of incineration is that it produces undesirable emissions which are difficult and expensive to get rid of. In addition, incineration plants often distribute electricity only, as opposed to electricity and heat, because they are too large to be located near commercial heat customers or district heating schemes. In such cases approximately 2/3 of the energy in the waste is lost as heat emitted to the atmosphere.

Verus is taking a very different approach. Instead of large scale mass burn incinerators, we are developing small scale, community based solutions that use advanced technologies such as anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis. Because these technologies can be deployed on a small scale, the facilities can be located next to a large heat user. For example if a plant were located next to a factory, the waste heat from the electricity generation process could be used by the factory. Typically this would displace the factory’s reliance on natural gas or other fossil fuels used to fire an on-site boiler.

Both anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis produce very clean emissions. The US and the UK have very tight limitations on power plant emissions and both of these technologies fall well below the allowed rates. With anaerobic digestion, waste is converted into biogas via the age old process of decomposing organic matter with bacterial digestion. As the bacteria digest the waste, they naturally produce biogas. The pyrolysis process also decomposes waste but instead of a biological process, it relies on the application of high heat. Waste is exposed to high heat in the absence of oxygen. Because oxygen is not present, the material does not burn. The high temperature environment converts the waste into a synthetic gas. The biogas and synthetic gases created in anaerobic digestion and pyrolysis can then be combusted in much the same way that natural gas is combusted to produce electricity and heat.

In addition to the clean exhaust in these processes, they allow large amounts of waste to be diverted from landfill. This reduces the leachate problems and methane, a green house gas 21 times as potent as CO2, associated with landfill.

How much energy could be generated from waste? The UK for example sends about 50 million tones of municipal, commercial, and industrial waste to landfill each year. If the UK could change its waste patterns so that 25 million tones was used to create energy, approximately 25 million MWhs of electricity and 50 million MWhs of heat could be produced. This roughly translates into enough electricity to power 2 million homes. While it’s definitely not enough to power the UK, it would make a meaningful and valuable contribution to the countries renewable energy targets and divert a vast amount of waste from being dumped in landfills.

For more information about Verus Energy, check out their website.

This is an edited version of an interview done by Green Is Sexy with the founders of Verus Energy

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spy-blimp

Just what we need – more spying by the Yanks. Engadget today reported that the “US Air Force has announced that it will do its part for economic stimulus by spending $400 million on a dirigible designed to float 20 km above the Earth, where it will provide constant surveillance of an area (such as the Afghanistan-Pakistan border). ISIS (Integrated Sensor Is the Structure) is being billed as a cross between a satellite and a spy plane, kept aloft by helium and powered by hydrogen fuel cells that are recharged with solar panels. The thing will remain in place for up to ten years providing, as one Air Force scientist gushed, ‘constant surveillance, uninterrupted’. If successful, the Air Force would like to see a whole fleet of these things. DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) of course has signed on, agreeing to deliver a prototype by 2014″.

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Mike Adams
NaturalNews

lg_reubenThe health community is up in arms over the discovery that a highly-respected and influential clinical researcher, Dr. Scott Reuben, fabricated the data used in over twenty pharmaceutical studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals. Read the full NaturalNews report on this topic here. These studies promoted the safety and “benefits” of drugs like Bextra (Pfizer), Vioxx (Merck), Lyrica, Celebrex and Effexor. The lead researcher on these studies, Dr. Scott Reuben, was being paid by Pfizer and Merck, so there’s a verified financial connection between this clinical researcher and at least two of the drug companies that benefitted from his fabricated findings.

Note carefully the names of the medical journals that published Dr. Reuben’s fabricated data (see below). These so-called “science journals” claim to be peer-reviewed, which means these studies were approved by multiple scientists who agreed with the findings. What this scandal reveals is that even peer-reviewed medical journals cannot be trusted to publish truthful, accurate information about pharmaceuticals. In fact, they are just as much a part of the Big Pharma / FDA conspiracy as the pill-pushing researchers who fabricate these studies, in my opinion. The only honest medical science journal I’ve found is PLoS Medicine (http://medicine.plosjournals.org). Everything else I’ve seen is just tabloid medicalized fiction sandwiched in between pages of false advertising.

And conventional doctors, for all their self-proclaimed intelligence and scientific skepticism, were universally hoodwinked by this faked data! Apparently the best way to convince doctors that a drug is safe and effective is to just invent whatever story you want and submit it to a medical journal, which then gladly publishes it.

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ocean_dead_zone(NaturalNews) The number of “dead zones” in coastal regions around the world continues to rapidly increase, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the University of Gothenberg, and published in the journal Science.

“It’s not sort of a local or regional problem, which is how it was thought of in the past,” researcher Robert Diaz said. “It is actually a global problem.”

Dead zones are areas where oxygen has become so depleted that little or no marine life is able to survive. They form when excessive plant nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, run off from the coast and lead to an explosion of algae blooms. When this vastly increased biomass dies and sinks to the bottom, its decomposition leads to the proliferation of oxygen-consuming bacteria.

In some cases, this may lead to increased crowding pressure in other parts of the ocean. “Fish are the best at avoiding dead zones,” Diaz says. “When the oxygen starts to decline, they’re smart – they leave, they don’t hang around. Crabs and shrimp are pretty good at getting away, too, as are lobsters.” Many slower moving animals such as clams, worms and small crustaceans, however, simply die.

In the current study, researchers found that the number of dead zones has steadily increased from 39 at the end of the 1960s through 63 at the end of the 1970s, 132 at the end of the 1980s and 301 at the end of the 1990s to the current number of 405. The total area consumed by dead zones now measures no less than 95,000 square miles.

The major sources of the pollutants that produce dead zones are fertilizer runoff from industrial agriculture and nitrogen-based byproducts of fossil fuel use. “Most of it is agricultural-based, but there is a lot of industrial nitrogen in there, too, if you consider electric generation,” Diaz said.

Dead zones now function as one of the primary stresses on marine biodiversity, along with overfishing and habitat loss.

Sources for this story include: www.reuters.com.

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A couple of days ago I published an article by George Monbiot on the privatisation of prisons causing deaths, corruption and the ethical and legal violation of human rights and criminal law. Monbiot was talking about the UK and US, but in Australia we of course have very strategies in place that ‘outsource’ the prison system to multi-national so-called security companies. And because profit maximisation comes before the respect for human lives it is not surprising that an Aboriginal man whose only ‘crimes’ were driving offences died of heat-stroke in a GSL van.

Elder in prison van death had severe burns

Natasha Boddy, 11th March 2009
The West Australian

An Aboriginal elder who died in custody suffered third-degree burns to his stomach following his collapse in the rear of a prison van where the air-conditioning was not working, a coronial inquest was told yesterday.

prison-vanState Coroner Alastair Hope heard Mr Ward died from heatstroke on the 42C day he was transported in the non-air-conditioned rear sealed compartment of a prison van for the 360km trip from Laverton to Kalgoorlie. The inquest was told Mr Ward had burns to his stomach and elbow, which were consistent with being in contact with a very hot surface. After being taken to Kalgoorlie Hospital he was put in an ice bath. His body temperature was 41.7C and he later died. The inquest, at Warburton, was told Mr Ward, 46, was given only a 600ml bottle of water and a pie for the four-hour journey.

More than 50 people gathered outside the tiny community court for a public broadcast of the inquest, which heard Mr Ward was “an extremely hardworking and valuable member of the community”. Counsel assisting the coroner, Felicity Zempilas, said the inquest would examine several issues, look at the decisions of the private prisoner transport contractor Global Securities Limited and ask why Mr Ward had not been given comfort breaks or extra water.

Mr Ward had been remanded in custody after his arrest on January 26 by Laverton police, who charged him with driving under the influence of alcohol when he returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.22.. He was serving a suspended sentence for a driving offence.

GSL was responsible for transporting Mr Ward from Laverton to the Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison. Det-Sgt Bradley Robinson, who investigated Mr Ward’s death, said that the air-conditioning unit in the rear compartment of the van had not been working. He said the unit was the only source of ventilation. Evidence revealed that faults with the airconditioning unit had been reported to GSL more than a month earlier. The inquest was told the GSL security officers heard a loud noise when Mr Ward collapsed in the van about 5km from Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The officers stopped and opened both rear doors, with the inner door only opened partially and secured by a security chain. “Both guards felt the heat coming from the back of the vehicle,” Sgt Robinson said. Mr Ward was unresponsive and the female security officer felt a faint pulse in his ankle. The guards took him to Kalgoorlie Hospital where staff spent more than an hour attempting to resuscitate him. Sgt Robinson said medical reports indicated that after 20 minutes of unsuccessful resuscitation, Mr Ward was placed in an ice bath with a fan and his body temperature was 41.7C.

The family have requested that Mr Ward’s first name not be published.

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