Thursday, January 28, 2010

"People's History" Author Howard Zinn Dies

(AP) Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose leftist "A People's History of the United States" became a million-selling alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday. He was 87. Zinn died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, Calif., daughter Myla Kabat-Zinn said. The historian was a resident of Auburndale, Mass. Published in 1980 with little promotion and a first printing of 5,000, "A People's History" was - fittingly - a people's best-seller, attracting a wide audience through word of mouth and reaching 1 million sales in 2003. Although Zinn was writing for a general readership, his book was taught in high schools and colleges throughout the country, and numerous companion editions were published, including "Voices of a People's History," a volume for young people and a graphic novel "I can't think of anyone who had such a powerful and benign influence," said the linguist and fellow activist Noam Chomsky, a close friend of Zinn's. "His historical work changed the way millions of people saw the past." Read More

Saturday, January 23, 2010

NASA: Last decade was warmest ever

(CNN) -- The first decade of the 21st century was the warmest ever on Earth according to data released by scientists at NASA. The U.S. space agency's data also revealed that 2009 was the second warmest year since temperature records began in 1880, and only narrowly cooler than 2005, the warmest year ever. 2008 was the coolest year of the decade but this was attributed to a strong La Nina which causes extensive cooling of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) said in a statement: "There's substantial year-to-year variability of global temperature caused by the tropical El Nino-La Nina cycle. When we average temperature over five or ten years to minimize that variability, we find global warming is continuing unabated." Read More

Bruising storm leaves damage across the state

Arizona: "High winds late Thursday blew a huge tent sheltering the cars onto a nearby freeway at about the same time there were unconfirmed reports of a tornado in the area..."

Arizona took stock of the damage Friday from a powerful winter storm that swept a 6-year-old boy to his presumed death, flooded a handful of communities, caved in roofs in Flagstaff and made a shambles of a host of expensive collector cars set for auction.
Though much of Arizona, including the Valley, was relieved that the brutish winter storm had not delivered as strong a punch as was feared, there remained a possibility that more precipitation could be on its way to some parts of the state. The Phoenix forecast calls for partly cloudy skies today with a chance of showers, while more storms could hit the high country next week. Read More

Meteorite colour mystery 'solved'

(BBC News) The Earth "changes the colour" of asteroids by shaking them up as they pass, according to scientists. Researchers report that this solves the mystery of why the meteorites that land on the Earth often do not match the colour of asteroids in space. Previous research had already shown that the solar radiation in space reddens the the surfaces of asteroids. Read More

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Extreme Winter Weather

Scotland Still Preparing For Extreme Weather
After almost a month in operation, during which the country experienced its worst weather in decades. The last meeting of the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Scottish Government Resilience took place today. Rural Affairs secretary Richard Lochhead praised the continuing work to address and monitor the aftermath of the four-week freeze and warned that, although the worst of the recent cold snap may be over, we are still only halfway through winter and should remain prepared for ice and snow. Read More

Snowstorms Cause Travel Chaos In China
Four people have died and more than 1.6 million have been affected by blizzards and extreme cold weather in northwestern China. Read More

California Tornado Warning: More Intense Weather Expected
Destructive weather seems to be in the news constantly and the weather in California is causing big headaches for residents of Southern California. Southern California's Long Beach, Los Angeles, San Diego, Huntington Beach and San Pedro were some of the areas affected by high winds, massive rainfall and a tornado that touched down outside of Los Angeles. Read More

Why Big Ag Won't Feed the World

A year ago I sat in a room at the Earth Institute at Columbia surrounded by executives from big food companies. One of them, I believe from Unilever, clicked to a slide that read "The solution to global hunger is to turn malnutrition into a market opportunity." The audience—global development practitioners and academics and other executives—nodded and dutifully wrote it down in their notebooks; I shuddered. The experience stayed with me and I haven't gotten over it. Last month, I had a flashback.
On a Tuesday evening I sat in a room on the 44th floor of a building in the financial district of lower Manhattan with representatives from General Mills, Monsanto, Dean Foods, Deutsche Bank, and the Rainforest Alliance. We were there to speak to institutional investors—the hedge fund managers, bankers, and others who invest in big food companies—about sustainability and food. In particular, we were there to talk about how sustainability and hunger issues may give these companies both exposure to risk and access to opportunity. Read Entire Article

German scientists develop fast-acting germ killer

LONDON (Reuters) - A new fast-acting disinfectant that is effective against bacteria, viruses and other germs could help stop the spread of deadly infections in hospitals, German scientists said on Wednesday. Researchers from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin said they had developed a fast-acting, practical formula which would kill germs on surgical instruments without damaging them through corrosion. Disinfectants are the first line of defense against the spread of hospital-acquired infections and effective cleaning of surgical instruments is vital to beating them. Read Entire Article

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake Hits Haiti: the Science Behind the Destruction

(ABC News) The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti at 4:53 p.m. Tuesday, displacing and possibly killing thousands of people, was the most violent quake the country had experienced in more than a century, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The quake occurred along the fault line that separates the Caribbean and North American tectonic plates. It is a strike-slip fault line, and it runs east to west through Haiti, the government agency said.
When the quake hit, the massive plates, located about 10 miles southwest of the densely populated capital, Port-au-Prince, moved horizontally, causing the pieces of rock to move past each other.
"The North American and Caribbean tectonic plates are sheering the island, crushing it, grinding it and, as that occurs, earthquakes pop off," Michael Blanpeid, associate coordinator for the Geological Survey's Earthquake Hazards Program, said in a podcast on the agency's Web site Tuesday.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+ | Video on TED.com

Dan Buettner: How to live to be 100+ Video on TED.com

As if Things Weren't Bad Enough, Russian Professor Predicts End of U.S.

By ANDREW OSBORN, Wall Street Journal
MOSCOW -- For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media.
In recent weeks, he's been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. "It's a record," says Prof. Panarin. "But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger."
Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations.
But it's his bleak forecast for the U.S. that is music to the ears of the Kremlin, which in recent years has blamed Washington for everything from instability in the Middle East to the global financial crisis. Read Entire Article

Monday, January 04, 2010

Earthquake and Volcanic Eruption

7.2 magnitude quake hits near Solomon Islands
Sydney, Australia (AP)- The Solomon Islands archipelago in the Pacific was hit by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake today, less than an hour after a 6.5-magnitude temblor triggered a warning of possible local tsunamis.The quake hit at 9:36 a.m. local time about 103 kilometers (64 miles) south-southeast of Gizo, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The earthquake was 30.5 kilometers deep. Read Entire Article

Colombian volcano erupts, evacuation ordered
BOGOTA (Reuters) - The Galeras volcano in southern Colombia erupted on Saturday, shooting rock and ash and prompting authorities to order the evacuation of about 8,000 people. Read Entire Article

“Waste Heat” a Potential Threat to the Climate

A new paper argues that cutting greenhouse gas emissions, switching to nuclear or geothermal power, and even sequestering carbon in the earth won’t stave off massively disruptive climate change. Greenhouse gases are less a threat to stable climate than is the excess heat produced when fuel is burned to create energy, say Swedish researchers Bo Nordell and Bruno Gervet.
About half of the energy that humanity creates becomes waste heat. Depending on the method of energy creation or manner in which it’s used, such as to raise the temperature of water, waste heat can be as high as 70% or 80%. In terms of electricity usage, even extremely efficient devices, appliances, and gadgets give off a lot of warmth in their operation. This is why your laptop needs a fan and why a car that’s been turned off is still hot to the touch after it’s been driven. But most of this excess thermal activity comes from energy generation itself: the burning of fuel to create electricity. It’s commonly believed that this excess heat escapes into space, but that’s only true at very high temperatures, Nordel and Gervet contend. Read Entire Article

Beijing battles heaviest snowfall in decades with shovels and bamboo

No plows? No problem. Residents, workers, and soldiers in China’s capital dug through eight inches of snow using shovels and – at the new international airport – bamboo twig brushes.
By Peter Ford
The Chinese capital is not used to snow. Winters here are among the driest I have ever experienced. So when a storm on Sunday dumped nearly eight inches of powder onto the city – the most since 1951 – life pretty much ground to a halt.
By Monday morning, though, armies of citizens (and the Army itself in some districts) were clearing the aftermath using the tactic that the Chinese so often use in tackling unusual challenges – mass manpower. Read Entire Article