Daily Archives: September 3, 2009

Geoengineering May Be Mandatory, Royal Society Says

greentechmedia.com | Sep 3, 2009

The Royal Society says grand-scale geoengineering schemes, like massive tree-planting campaigns or shooting sulfur into the atmosphere to block sunlight, may be needed to stop global warming.

Geoengineering may not be a last resort to fight global warming any longer – that is, if us humans can’t get our act together to reduce the carbon dioxide we’re pumping into the atmosphere.

That’s the warning that emerged from a Royal Society report published Tuesday. Grand, expensive and uncertain engineering projects – think installing carbon-scrubbing devices across continents or shooting aerosols into the atmosphere to block sunlight – may be humankind’s only shot at slowing man-made global warming, the report’s authors warn.

That’s because current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aren’t going far enough, the report’s authors contend.

The world needs to cut atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to half of what they were in 1990 by 2050, but right now, “Global efforts to reduce emissions have not yet been sufficiently successful to provide confidence that the reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change will be achieved,” the report states.

“It is hoped that post-2012 emission reduction targets will stimulate greater action through more effective mechanisms,” the report went on, referring to the upcoming United Nations talks in Copenhagen to craft a carbon-reduction agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol (see The Copenhagen Call: Biz Leaders Back GHG Reduction Efforts).

“But there is a serious risk that sufficient mitigation actions will not be introduced in time, despite the fact that the technologies required are both available and affordable,” the report stated.

So, while working toward a huge reduction in emissions, the world’s governments should be planning for ways to handle geoengineering projects, the report states.

Those fall into two camps. The first, carbon dioxide removal, involves everything from planting lots of trees to fertilizing the ocean to boost the growth of carbon dioxide-absorbing plankton (see Carbon Capture Firm Could Use the Ocean to Combat Global Warming).

That would get at the root of the problem of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide, but is likely to be massively expensive and complicated, the report noted. Of the available choices, ocean fertilization held some of the greatest potential for negative side effects, the report noted.

The second technique, solar-radiation management, could be cheaper and faster, the report states. Solar-radiation management includes such schemes as pumping sulfur into the stratosphere to force the same kind of global cooling that has occurred after massive volcanic eruptions (see Green Light post).

It could also include projects like painting lots of building roofs white to reflect more sunlight back into space – an idea that’s gotten the backing of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, among others.

But such sunlight-blocking schemes don’t deal directly with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and carry the risks of unknown and possible catastrophic side effects, the report warns. Thus, they should only be used if absolutely necessary, the report stated.

Given the challenge facing the globe, geoengineering concepts of all stripes have been getting more serious attention from important parties, including the Obama administration, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Geoengineering will certainly require an unprecedented level of international cooperation, first on researching which ones will work the best and then on spending the billions of dollars needed to implement them, the report found.

But then, so will reducing manmade greenhouse-gas emissions, as the debate over carbon cap-and-trade legislation in Congress has highlighted

Tasers face ban after findings they can kill

The Australian | Sep 4, 2009

Michael McKenna

THE controversial Taser stun guns may be scrapped in Queensland after a review warned that the weapons could kill and could not be modified to prevent a repeat of the death of a man this year when he was shot 28 times with the 50,000-volt device.

The joint Crime and Misconduct Commission-police review, launched after the June heart-attack death of north Queensland man Antonio Galeano, has ordered an overhaul of police training and operational policy, requiring the stun guns to be used only when there is a “risk of serious injury”.

The review, to be released today and obtained exclusively by The Australian, marks the first time an Australian authority has recognised the possibility the stun guns can injure or kill, especially when fired repeatedly at a person.

“The possibility of Taser use causing or contributing to death is possible and cannot be ruled out,” the review warns.

The Arizona-based manufacturers have repeatedly denied the weapons can kill.

The report is expected to influence the nationwide rollout of Tasers, amid mounting evidence the weapons are being used by police as an everyday compliance tool and not as a non-lethal substitute for a standard gun in high-risk situations.

Sources have told The Australian a coronial investigation has concluded that amphetamine addict Galeano, 39, was deliberately shot 28 times, each time for a duration of up to five seconds, after he confronted police with a steel bar at his unit in Brandon, south of Townsville.

It was initially claimed the stun gun might have malfunctioned or that there was a glitch with the built-in computer system recording the number and duration of shots from the weapon.

But investigators will allege the policeman repeatedly Tasered Galeano, who dropped the metal bar after the first few shots, while he lay unarmed and writhing on the floor.

He died minutes later while still in handcuffs.

Civil liberties lawyers called for a criminal investigation into the death of Galeano in June, when The Australian revealed he had been shot 28 times.

Until then, police had claimed he had been shot only two or three times.

It will be announced today that the freeze on the rollout of Tasers to 3000 general duties officers — ordered after the death of Galeano — will be maintained while police move to implement the recommendations of the review.

Meanwhile, the 1200 Tasers with the Queensland police force will remain in operation. But the use of Tasers is under threat, with the CMC recommending they be modified so a single shot lasts no longer than five seconds, and that a limit be put on the numbers of times the weapon can be fired.

Police have been told by the manufacturer that “at this stage, this is not feasible with the Taser X26” — the $15,000-a-piece weapon being used in Queensland and around Australia.

The review recommends that Queensland Police fit an automatic video device on the weapons, which records every time the Taser is pulled from itsholster.

Queensland police last year refused to buy the weapons with the optional “Tasercam” because of the cost.

Civil liberties lawyer Scott McDougall, director of the Caxton Legal Centre, said police should be forced to table in parliament every deployment of the stun guns in Queensland.

He said an independent medical study should be conducted on the weapons, and a freeze on their use should be implemented until the findings were released.

“We have clients who were Tasered who were not offering any resistance to police,” he said.

“Fears that Tasers would be used as a compliance tool may have come to fruition around Australia.”

Pictured: Hitler playing chess with Lenin

hitler lenin chess
An extraordinary etching of a young Adolf Hilter playing chess against Vladimir Lenin has come to light. The art work is by Hilter’s Jewish art teacher Emma Lowenstramm who witnessed the game Photo: BNPS

A picture of a young Adolf Hitler apparently playing chess against Vladimir Lenin 100 years ago has come to light.

Telegraph | Sep 3, 2009

The image is said to have been created in Vienna by Hitler’s art teacher, Emma Lowenstramm, and is signed on the reverse by the two dictators.

Hitler was a jobbing artist in the city in 1909 and Lenin was in exile and the house where they allegedly played the game belonged to a prominent Jewish family.

Winston Churchill returns to the Government In the run-up to the Second World War the Jewish family fled and gave many of their possessions, including the etching and chess set, to their housekeeper.

Now their housekeeper’s great-great grandson is selling the image and the chess set at auction. Both items have a pre-sale estimate of £40,000.

The unnamed vendor is confident the items are genuine after his father spent a lifetime attempting to prove their authenticity.

He compiled a 300-page forensic document that included tests on the paper, the signatures and research on those involved.

Experts, however, have questioned its authenticity especially the identification of Lenin who they say might have been confused with one of his associates.

When the etching was made, Hitler was 20 and Lenin was twice his age and the house was where politicos went to discuss things.

The etching is thought to be one of five and shows Hitler – playing with the white pieces – sitting by a window, with Lenin opposite him in half shadow.

It is titled “A Chess Game: Lenin with Hitler – Vienna 1909”.

It raises tantalising questions about what the two men who helped shape the world in the 20th century might have spoken of.

Lenin was already a highly influential Russian figure who in 1907 went into exile once more after the revolution was crushed by Tsarist authorities.

Richard Westwood-Brookes, who is selling the items, said: “This just sounds too good to be true, but the vendor’s father spent a lifetime proving it.

“He compiled a 300 page document and spent a great deal of money engaging experts to examine the etching.

“The signatures in pencil on the reverse are said to have an 80 per cent chance of being genuine, and there is proof that Emma Lowenstramm did exist.

“The circumstantial evidence is very good on top of the paper having been tested.

“Hitler was a painter in 1909 and his Jewish teacher Emma Lowenstramm was the person who made the etching.

“There is some suggestion that when he came to power Hitler protected her and she died from natural causes in 1941.

“At the time, Vienna was a hotbed of political intrigue and the house where this game took place belonged to a prominent Jewish family.

“Lenin at the time was moving around Europe in exile and writing “Materialism and Empirio-criticism”.

“His movements are hazy and it is known that he did play chess and later he certainly wore wigs as a disguise.

“It is also known that Lenin was a German agent and the house was where people went to exchange political views.

“The chess set is clearly the same chess set as that in the etching. It is a box chess set that folds out and the pieces are identifiable – particularly the kings and bishops.

“To my knowledge there are five etchings of this image, but this has the signatures of both men and the artist.

“The provenance is that it has come through the family of the housekeeper who was given it when the Jewish family fled in the late 1930s.

“The family is based in Hanover and it is the great great grandson of the housekeeper who is selling it.

“On all sorts of levels it is an extremely valuable artefact. Even as just an allegorical picture it shows the men playing chess possibly for the world.”

Historian Helen Rappaport, who has just written a book called “Conspirator: Lenin in Exile”, said the etching was probably a “glorious piece of fantasy”.

She said: “In 1909 Lenin was in France and there is no evidence that he was in Vienna.

“In October he went to Liege in Belgium and in November he went to Brussels. He would have visited Vienna before and after that year.

“He liked the place and went there because he travelled around Europe on trains, but he wouldn’t have been there long enough to meet a young Hitler.

“He was also as bald as a bat by 1894 with just hair on the sides of his head.

“And when in exile he was not known as Lenin and instead used a number of aliases.

“The person believed to be Lenin in the etching may well have been one of his revolutionary or Bolshevik associates who was misidentified.

“It may even have been an Austrian socialist with whom he associated in the Second International.

“The Germans did fund the Bolsheviks and gave them millions of marks for the revolutionary effort, but Lenin was not a German sympathiser.

“Although this is totally spurious it is wonderful to bring these two great megalomaniacs together.

“It makes sense retrospectively and the history of art is full of retrospective meetings between people.”

The items are to be sold at Mullock’s auction house in Ludlow, Shropshire, on October 1.

Cellphone radiation is a threat to bees

Electromagnetic waves emitted by the towers crippled the navigational skills of the bees

IOL | Sep 2, 2009

The electromagnetic waves emitted by cellphone towers and cellphones can pose a threat to honey bees, a study published in India has concluded.

An experiment conducted in the southern state of Kerala found that a sudden fall in the bee population was caused by towers installed across the state by cellphone companies.

The electromagnetic waves emitted by the towers crippled the navigational skills of the bees that go out to collect nectar from flowers to sustain colonies, said Dr Sainuddin Pattazhy, who conducted the study, the Press Trust of India news agency reported. – Sapa-AFP

‘Telepathic’ microchip could help paraplegics control computers

A ‘telepathic’ microchip that enables paraplegics to control computers has been developed by Dr Jon Spratley, a British scientist.

Telegraph | Sep 3, 2009

The chip is implanted onto the surface of the brain, where it monitors electronic ‘thought’ pulses.

While paraplegics may be unable to move their limbs, their brains still produce an electronic signal when they try.

It means paraplegics, amputees or those with motor neurone disease, such as Stephen Hawking, could be able to operate light switches, PCs and even cars by the power of thought alone.

The technology is the idea of British engineer Dr Spratley, who developed it while studying for a PhD at Birmingham University.

Dr Spratley, 28, from Stevenage, Herts., said the main aim of his research is to “help patients communicate.”

“We are just trying to help people with severe communication problems or motor neurone disease – like Dr Stephen Hawking or Christopher Reeve,” he said.

“What we have designed would allow them to control a computer with their thoughts – if they imagine their muscles moving that could flick a light switch for example.”

Dr Spratley works for specialist engineering company 42 Technology, based in St Ives, Cornwall.

Using his micro-engineering and nano-technology skills he developed a tiny sensor which could be implanted onto the surface of the brain.

The device picks up neural signals from the brain’s motor cortex, and captures the moment a paralysed patient tries to move their limbs.

This impulse is then transmitted to a relay station implanted in the skull, which in turn sends the signal to a receiver housed in simple computers.

Tests have shown the technology to work in the laboratory, but trials are yet to begin on humans.

Dr Spratley, who was awarded the MediMaton prize by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, claims implanting the chips will require minimal invasive surgery.

He said it could change the life of a quadriplegic or motor neurone disease sufferer.

“It began as an investigation into what signals paralysed people can generate,” he said.

“If they can imagine using a limb, even if they can’t move it, you can tap into that signal.

“Then you just have to imagine moving the muscle and the leg will move, the brain will train itself.”

Mobile phone text messaging is making children more impulsive, claim researchers

texting_

Children are trained to be fast but inaccurate when doing other things, according to scientists Photo: GETTY

Predictive text messaging on mobile phones encourages children to behave impulsively without thinking things through, according to a new study.

Telegraph | Aug 11, 2009

By Richard Alleyne

Researchers believe the mobile phone system makes youngsters less thoughtful and more prone to making mistakes elsewhere in life.

Hitting a few keys and then seeing the desired word appear in full trains children to be fast but inaccurate when doing other things, according to scientists.

They warn that the effects of this could have repercussions on a whole generation, especially as more than nine out of 10 16 year-olds now own a handset as well as 40 per cent of primary schoolchildren.

In a groundbreaking study, Professor Michael Abramson analysed the mobile phone use of children aged between 11 and 14 and their ability to carry out a number of computer tests.

A quarter of the children made more than 15 voice calls a week and a quarter of them wrote more than 20 text messages a week.

When researchers studied the way in which the children handled IQ-type tests they found that increased mobile phone use appears to change the way their brains work.

Prof Abramson, an epidemiologist at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, said: “The kids who used their phones a lot were faster on some of the tests, but were less accurate.

“We suspect that using mobile phones a lot, particularly tools like predictive texts for SMS, is training them to be fast but inaccurate.

“Their brains are still developing so if there are effects then potentially it could have effects down the line, especially given that the exposure is now almost universal.

“The use of mobile phones is changing the way children learn and pushing them to become more impulsive in the way they behave.”

ChildWise, a market research firm specialising in children’s products, found in 2005 that one in four under-eights had a mobile. The total of 4.5 million youngsters with mobiles included 58 per cent of nine to 10-year-olds and 89 per cent of 11 to 12-year-olds with handsets. Some 93 per cent of 13 to 14-year-olds and 95 per cent of 15 and 16-year-olds had a mobile.

Experts concerned about the possible impact of mobile phone radiation on developing brains have preached caution over children’s use of them.

But Prof Abramson says the amount of radiation transmitted when texting is a mere 0.03 per cent of that transmitted during voice calls – suggesting radiation is not to blame for the brain effects.

Instead he thinks predictive texting could be doing the damage, adding: “We don’t think mobile phones are frying their brains.

“If you’re used to operating in that environment and entering a couple of letters and getting the word you want, you expect everything to be like that.”

Prof Abramson, who published in the journal Bioelectromagnetics, said he now plans to carry out a similar study with primary schoolchildren.

The findings follow other research that suggested that text messaging encourages children’s language skills and did not damage the ability to spell.

Japan’s next first lady says she traveled in a triangular UFO to Venus

Yukio Hatoyama wife Miyuki
Yukio Hatoyama, right, leader of Japan’s main opposition Democratic Party, is expected to be voted in as premier on Sept. 16. His wife, Miyuki, is known for her spiritual views. Itsuo Inouye / AP

Former actress also claims Tom Cruise was Japanese in a previous life

MSNBC | Sep 2, 2009

TOKYO – Japan’s next prime minister might be nicknamed “the alien,” but it’s his wife who claims to have had a close encounter with another world.

“While my body was asleep, I think my soul rode on a triangular-shaped UFO and went to Venus,” Miyuki Hatoyama, the wife of premier-in-waiting Yukio Hatoyama, wrote in a book published last year.

“It was a very beautiful place and it was really green.”

Yukio Hatoyama is due to be voted in as premier on Sept. 16 following his party’s crushing election victory over the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party Sunday.

Miyuki, 66, described the extraterrestrial experience, which she said took place some 20 years ago, in a book entitled “Very Strange Things I’ve Encountered.”

Been to Venus

When she awoke, Japan’s next first lady wrote, she told her now ex-husband that she had just been to Venus. He advised her that it was probably just a dream.

“My current husband has a different way of thinking,” she wrote. “He would surely say ‘Oh, that’s great’.”

Yukio Hatoyama, 62, the rich grandson of a former prime minister, was once nicknamed “the alien” for his prominent eyes.

Miyuki, also known for her culinary skills, spent six years acting in the Takarazuka Revue, an all-female musical theater group. She met the U.S.-educated Yukio while living in America.

A strong believer in spiritualism, Hatoyama said in a TV appearance earlier this year she met U.S. actor Tom Cruise — in a previous life.

“I have a dream that I still believe will come true, which is to make a film in Hollywood,” she told a TV talk show in May. “The lead actor is Tom Cruise, of course. Why? Because I know he was Japanese in a previous life.

Cruise encounter

“I was with him then. So he would recognize me when I see him and say ‘long time, no see!'” she said, though cautioned the program’s young interviewer not to take her seriously.

Cruise starred in the 2003 film “The Last Samurai,” which was set in Japan.

“I also eat the sun,” Hatoyama said on the program, looking up with her eyes closed, raising her arms high as if she was tearing pieces off an imaginary sun. “Like this, hum, hum, hum. It gives me enormous energy.”

She also has had a “Miracle Interview” column in the monthly spiritual magazine “Mu.” Her columns were published last year in a book called “Most Bizarre Things I’ve Encountered,” a compilation of interviews with 26 prominent people, including writers, scholars and culinary experts revealing their strange or spiritual experiences.

__________

Related

Japan Democrats take power

Yukio Hatoyama: Freemason?

Next Japan PM talks of “fraternity” and love

Yukio Hatoyama – From Wikipedia

Hatoyama, who was born in Tokyo, is the grandson of former Prime Minister Ichiro- Hatoyama, and son of former Foreign Minister Iichiro- Hatoyama. His mother Yasuko is a daughter of Shojiro Ishibashi, the founder of Bridgestone Corporation. He and his brother Kunio Hatoyama are fourth generation politicians of the Hatoyama family.

Kunio Hatoyama

His remark about the Bali bombing

In October 2007, during a news conference, Hatoyama attempted to justify plans to fingerprint and photograph all foreigners at immigration by claiming that an unidentified “friend of a friend”, who is an al-Qaida terrorist involved in the October 2002 bombing in Bali, was able to sneak in and out of Japan repeatedly over the following years using different passports and wearing a fake moustache. He added that he had received prior warning to stay away from the centre of Bali because it would be bombed. The remarks were made during a news conference at Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo, where he was trying to explain the necessity of new anti-terrorism measures being implemented whereby all foreigners entering the country will be fingerprinted and photographed.

Later that day, he gave another press conference in which he retracted his remarks, saying instead that it was actually his friend who had received a prior warning about the bombing, and that he only found out about the warning three or four months after the bombing. He also issued a statement denying any connections to members of Al-Qaida, as well as apologising to prime minister Fukuda for the confusion he caused.