Archive | April 21, 2013

Deforestation Intentions Soar With Carbon Prices Low

Picture: NASA (PD)

Picture: NASA (PD)

Brian Fallow writes at the New Zealand Herald:

Deforestation intentions have soared as the emissions trading scheme, at least at current rock-bottom prices, is no longer seen as a barrier to switching to other land uses.

A survey of large forest owners (with over 10,000ha) by Professor Bruce Manley of Canterbury University has found they intend to deforest 39,000ha between now and 2020, mainly in the central North Island and mainly to switch to dairy farming.

They represent three-quarters of the plantation forests with trees older than 20 years, which are likely to be harvested within the next eight years.

Assuming smaller forest owners only replant 80 per cent of the forests they harvest in the same period, the total area deforested would be 55,000ha or 12 per cent of the area of plantation forest maturing in that period.

On an annual basis it would represent only a modest increase on deforestation over the past five years – the period of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period, through which forest owners have had liabilities under the ETS.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Computers That Can’t Fail

legofthesixtiesVia PCWorld:

When you see reports about the small, remote-controlled drones that the military uses to gather intelligence and target enemies in Pakistan and Afghanistan, it’s easy to assume that all our weaponry is equally modern. Some significant weapons systems that our military depends on today, though, run on technology that dates back, in some instances, to the Vietnam War era.

The U.S. Navy’s ship-based radar systems and Britain’s Atomic Weapons Establishment, which maintains that country’s nuclear warheads, use PDP minicomputers manufactured in the 1970s by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Another user of the PDP is Airbus, the French jetliner manufacturer.

The PDP was among the second wave of mainframes called minicomputers because they were only the size of a couple of refrigerators instead of big enough to fill a room.

The F-15 and F-18 fighters, the Hawk missile systems, parts of the U.S. Navy submarine fleet, and Navy fighter test systems on aircraft carriers use DEC’s VAX minicomputers from the 1980s for various purposes, according to Lynda Jones of The Logical Company in Cottage Grove, Oregon, which helps keep these antiquated systems functioning.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Beyond the Marathon Massacre: Questions, Questions, and Questions

Two_suspects_wanted_by_the_FBI_for_the_bombingI started writing on Patriots day in Massachusetts, the State holiday commemorating America’s revolutionary war in one of the cities in which it began. It was also the anniversary of the Waco FBI massacre aimed at right-wing fanatics and the demolition of the Murrah federal office building in Oklahoma City by right-wing fanatics.

But I was writing about the events in Boston with the bomb attacks on the Marathon, and the manhunt that locked the city down in a military maneuver.

I worked in Boston media for 12 years, many of them at WBCN when it was located in the Prudential Center, for many years the destination of the race. I also lived on Norfolk Street in Cambridge where the two men alleged to have of triggered the bloody mayhem were said to be living. I took my daughter to the Cambridge Hospital where the other “suspect, “ Dzhokhar Tsarnaev  may or may not recover.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Monsanto Threatens To Sue Vermont If It Passes GMO Labeling Bill

monsanto foodAre Monsanto and the state of Vermont headed for a historic showdown in court? Or are the corporation’s threats enough to make lawmakers scuttle plans for a law that the public is overwhelmingly demanding? Alternet writes:

Despite overwhelming public support, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if it passes.

What happened to the formerly staunch legislative champions of Vermont’s “right to know” bill? They lost their nerve after Monsanto representatives recently threatened that the biotech giant would sue Vermont if they pass the bill. [Officials] expressed concern about Vermont being the first state to pass a mandatory GMO labeling bill and then having to “go it alone” against Monsanto in court.

During the hearings the Vermont legislature was deluged with calls, letters, and e-mails urging passage of a GMO labeling bill – more than on any other bill since the fight over Civil Unions in 1999-2000.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

The Strange Case Of Edward Mordake’s Two Faces

edward mordakeThe physical manifestation of what we all possess inside? Wikipedia on historical figure Edward Mordake, who allegedly had a second, “evil” face which would spasm, cry, and make horrid expressions:

Edward Mordake was reportedly the 19th century heir to an English peerage. He supposedly had an extra face on the back of his head, which could neither eat nor speak, although it could laugh and cry. Edward begged doctors to have his “demon head” removed, because, supposedly, it whispered satanist language to him at night, but no doctor would attempt it. He committed suicide at the age of 23.

This is the story as told in Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine:

He was a young man of fine attainments, a profound scholar. But upon the back of his head was another face, that of a girl, ‘lovely as a dream, hideous as a devil’. The eyes would follow the movements of the spectator, and the lips ‘would gibber without ceasing’.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Koch Brothers Set To Buy Major Newspapers

koch brothers exposedCharles and David Koch, the billionaires who own companies like Georgia Pacific and bring you products like Brawny paper towels, are notorious for their singularly harsh vision for a more conservative America, with the Tea Party movement their most visible political mouthpiece. Both they and the Tea Party movement have been largely pigeon-holed as extreme and outside the mainstream by the media (Fox News excepted, of course), so now they are looking to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun.

In case you’ve forgotten just how mean the Kochs’ vision for America is for the average American, check out the powerful documentary Koch Brothers Exposed. The New York Times has the story on the planned newspaper acquisitions:

Three years ago, Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists and supporters of libertarian causes, held a seminar of like-minded, wealthy political donors at the St.

Read the rest

Continue Reading