Mar 31, 2012

Kidney cancers: Major rise 'linked to obesity.'

Obesity is fuelling a major increase in the number of cases of kidney cancers diagnosed in Britain, experts say. Obesity increases kidney cancer risk by about 70%, compared with smoking which increases it by about 50%.

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Chances of cancer cluster recovery dim for Acreage residents.

Chances that Acreage residents will recover any money for a mysterious cancer cluster that rocked the western Palm Beach County community three years ago are getting dimmer.

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China Beats U.S. With Power From Coal Processing Trapping Carbon - Bloomberg

...By 2006, Wang had his breakthrough in sight. He’d found a way to unlock a chemical stored in the coal that was poisoning his country and to put it to an unlikely use: cleaning China’s air.

The catalyst he discovered speeds reactions that convert methanol extracted from coal into a substance called dimethyl carbonate. By adding dimethyl carbonate to diesel fuel, Wang now plans to cut 90 percent of black carbon soot from the tailpipe emissions of 1,800 Shanghai buses by year-end.

“We said, ‘Let’s go to China, where we can leverage brainpower that’s cheaper and do something important for mankind,” says Wang, 55, a wiry, self-described workaholic who, on this January day, is taking a break from his laboratory to greet visitors in a conference room at Yashentech Corp., the couple’s Shanghai-based company.

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Wasting Our Waterways 2012: Toxic Industrial Pollution and the Unfulfilled Promise of the Clean Wate

Industrial facilities continue to dump millions of pounds of toxic chemicals into America's rivers, streams, lakes and ocean waters each year -- threatening both the environment and human health. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pollution from industrial facilities is responsible for threatening or fouling water quality in more than 14,000 miles of rivers and more than 220,000 acres of lakes, ponds and estuaries nationwide. The continued release of large volumes of toxic chemicals into the nation's waterways shows that the nation needs to do more to reduce the threat posed by toxic chemicals to our environment and our health and to ensure that our waterways are fully protected against harmful pollution. Industrial facilities dumped 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals into American waterways in 2010, according to the federal government's Toxic Release Inventory. Toxic chemicals linked to serious health effects were released in large amounts to America's waterways in 2010. To protect the public and the environment from toxic releases, the United States should prevent pollution by requiring industries to reduce their use of toxic chemicals and restore and strengthen Clean Water Act protections for all of America's waterways.

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Clean & Green: Best Practices in Photovoltaics @glrppr

This report highlights the best practices of photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers to protect workers and the environment during the production of solar panels. The report is divided into three sections: 1) Environmental, social, and governance considerations used by socially responsible investors and examples of how PV manufacturers are already implementing these practices; 2) Cross-platform technical opportunities; 3) Environmental health and safety risks in manufacturing particular to each technology and the best practices companies are using to mitigate these risks. Company practices were obtained as responses to a survey distributed to over 100 solar companies internationally. Best practices were determined via consultation with scientists, engineers, academics, and industry consultants.

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Student Sustainability Educators: A Guide to Creating and Maintaining an Eco-Rep Program @glrppr

The guide includes: -- Step by step action items and tips for creating, maintaining and evaluating a campus Eco-Rep program; -- Brief descriptions of actual programs and their best practices; -- Case studies of successes and road blocks -- Activity, event, marketing and outreach examples -- Eco-Rep recruiting tools, sample job descriptions, and other resources.

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Baby boomers had it all, now we and our children are stuck with the mess| The Guardian

The baby boomers have been accused of stealing their children's future. Then they were hit with the 'granny tax'. 

Emine Saner-  
They had free education, cheap housing and some even have final-salary pensions – and still the baby boomers complain about the "granny tax". Meanwhile, according to Financial Times research, twentysomethings will be the first generation who won't be better off than their parents. Geraldine Bedell, editor of Gransnet, and Ed Howker, co-author of Jilted Generation: How Britain has Bankrupted its Youth, discuss whether a generational war really has broken out.

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Wil Wheaton #penny4 nasa... Not enough money to explore future dreams.

How to pay less for healthy food | MNN

MNN...  when you make fair comparisons — you see that yes, eating healthy is more expensive. Wait, what?

Well it is! I’m not going to lie to you. But look, it’s only just barely more expensive. Seriously, I’m talking a few nickels here, a few quarters there. If you do it right, it adds up to a few extra dollars per trip, depending on how often you shop.

What’s that old saying? “You can pay for your health now, or you can pay for it later — with interest.” Because let me tell you, prescription medications, surgery, and disease-induced disability? Now that’s what I call expensive! And those are the kinds of diet-related results that make wholesome food suddenly seem pretty dang cheap.

So even at a little extra cost (and I do mean little) in the short term, I think it’s very well worth it. Here are a few ways to keep those costs as low as you can, while assuring that your health is soaring sky-high.

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Setting the Record Straight...on War Spending. $625 billion of savings comes entirely from the lower caps

Americans for Tax Reform has made the claim that the budgetdoes not account for war spending at all. Thus, when you add back in about $425 billion of post-drawdown war spending and net it against $625 billion of claimed discretionary savings, it comes out to only $200 billion of discretionary savings. However, this is inaccurate. The $625 billion of savings comes entirely from the lower caps compared to realistic projections that assume a drawdown in war spending, not from omitting war spending.

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EPA pulls order forcing driller to provide water... Driller is pleased

The EPA and some Parker County residents had argued fracking had contaminated the water with benzene, methane and other toxic gases. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a drilling method used to extract oil and natural gas embedded in impermeable layers of rock. The process involves pumping chemical-laced water at a high pressure into the ground to release once out-of-reach gas and oil.

"We are very pleased to see that the EPA's order has been withdrawn," Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella said. "It's important for people to know that their environment, health and safety is protected and hopefully this provides them with that comfort."

Abuse cases in child welfare system hit historic low @jsonline

In the months that followed the beating death of 13-month-old Christopher Thomas in 2008, child welfare officials vowed to improve the safety and well-being of Milwaukee County children who are removed from their homes because abuse or neglect.

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Threefold increase in the microbial production of biodiesel from glucose

A new technique – dubbed a dynamic sensor-regulator system (DSRS) – can detect metabolic changes in microbes during the production of fatty acid-based fuels or chemicals and control the expression of genes affecting that production. The result in one demonstration was a threefold increase in the microbial production of biodiesel from glucose.

The DSRS is an amazing and powerful new tool, the first example of a synthetic system that can dynamically regulate a metabolic pathway for improving production of fatty acid-based fuels and chemicals while the microbes are in the bioreactor,” says Jay Keasling, CEO of JBEI and one of the world’s foremost practitioners of synthetic biology, who led this research.

Keasling, who also serves as the Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is the corresponding author of a paper describing this research in Nature Biotechnology. The paper is titled “Design of a dynamic sensor-regulator system for production of FAbased chemicals and fuels.” Co-authors are Fuzhong Zhang and James Carothers of JBEI’s Fuels Synthesis Division, which is directed by Keasling.

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EPA just released a much anticipated and groundbreaking report on black carbon, its effects on the environment.

Illegal ocean dumping persists despite DOJ crackdown

iWatch News...The ship’s owner, Cooperative Success Maritime S.A., was fined $850,000 and sentenced to five years’ probation after its guilty plea. And the chief engineer — after cooperating with authorities — was sentenced to one year of probation. “The oceans must be protected from being used as dump sites for waste oil or other hazardous substances,” said Maureen O’Mara, special agent-in-charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal enforcement program in Atlanta, in June 2010. A company attorney declined comment.

That Department of Justice prosecution is one piece of a larger federal crackdown targeting dumping on the high seas, a form of pollution that taints global waterways and is drawing increased scrutiny.

The weapons in the government’s arsenal: whistleblowers who can reap six-figure rewards for reporting dumping and sometimes providing secret cell phone photos to inspectors; investigators who hunt for “magic pipe” diversion devices hidden aboard massive ships; and ship operators pressed to change their ways or risk a ban from U.S. waters.

Over the past 10 years, a Justice Department Environment and Natural Resources Division report shows, the Vessel Pollution Program has triggered more than $200 million in fines and 17 years in prison for ship officers and executives. Four corporations that own and operate a Panamanian cargo vessel were fined $1 million last July — and banned from doing business in the U.S. for five years for deliberately dumping waste overboard and trying to hide their crimes.

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LEED Commercial Certifications: 12,000 Served @USGBC

earthtechling “Twelve years after the first 12 projects earned LEED certification, the green building community has reached a significant milestone,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO & founding chair, USGBC, in a statement. “The momentum for green buildings is rippling around the globe, enhancing the built environment for generations to come.”

image via U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The 12,000th commercial project to earn LEED designation, in case you were wondering, is the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge (Texas) headquarters and visitor center, which earned certification at the Gold level. The building—funded through the Recovery Act and rebuilt after the original center was destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008—will house new wildlife exhibits, an environmental education center and National Parks employees.

The project takes its place among  more than 137,000 LEED registered and certified projects, homes, communities and neighborhoods around the world. (One day, we hope, the website of the USGBC will simply say, “billions and billions served.”)

This announcement comes at a significant time for the USGBC, which is currently deciding on the changes to its current standards via its trademark open voting process among member organizations. These changes are aimed at strengthening the benefit of the program to the environment, as well as to increase its utility to architects, home builders, and other building design professionals seeking those all-important LEED points. (Though this year’s proposed changes, as you may recall, have been met with less than love from the Forest Stewardship Council.)

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Denmark's 50% wind commitment and a path to fully renewable power

Denmark's 50 percent wind commitment and a path to fully renewable power
Denmark's Horns Rev offshore wind farm as it stands today

Denmark has committed to generating 50 percent of its electricity from wind sources by the year 2020, by which time the country hopes to have reduced CO2 emissions by 34 percent compared to 1990 levels. This renewed commitment to wind forms the central pillar in an energy bill that commits to obtaining 35 percent of the country's energy from renewable sources by that time. And Denmark actively aims to lower energy consumption, with 2020 usage 12 percent lower than that of 2006.

"Denmark will once again be the global leader in the transition to green energy," said Martin Lidegaard, Denmark's Minister for Climate, Energy and Building. "This will prepare us for a future with increasing prices for oil and coal. Moreover, it will create some of the jobs that we need so desperately, now and in the coming years."

The bill passed with a near-unanimous 171 votes out of the parliament's 179 seats.

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Managing an OSHA Inspection: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Certain questions are asked frequently by clients when the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) shows up unexpectedly at their doorsteps. These questions and many more are addressed in Epstein Becker Green’s OSHA Inspection Checklist desk reference guide, found on its OSHA Law Update blog.

Scenario 1: An OSHA Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) arrives unannounced to begin an inspection, but the representative who the employer wants to manage the inspection is not present. Can the employer request that the CSHO return later or wait to start the inspection until the chosen representative is available?

Answer: Yes, the employer can request that the CSHO return at a later time or wait a reasonable amount of time until the employer’s chosen inspection representative is available. The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act grants to employers the right to be represented during an OSHA inspection and to accompany an OSHA CSHO during on-site inspection activities. The employer has the right to designate whoever it wants to fill that role. If that person is not available at the moment OSHA arrives but can be available in a reasonable amount of time, the employer can request that the CSHO wait or return later.

OSHA’s Field Operations Manual explains that OSHA believes that waiting approximately one hour is a reasonable amount of time to delay the start of an inspection to wait for the employer’s selected representative to become available:

When neither the person in charge nor a management official is present, contact may be made with the employer to request the presence of the owner, operator or management official. The inspection shall not be delayed unreasonably to await the arrival of the employer representative. This delay should normally not exceed one hour.

Notwithstanding OSHA’s purported one-hour rule, unless the CSHO has a warrant or other exigent circumstances exist (i.e., imminent danger in plain view), the employer can refuse to consent to the inspection until its chosen representative arrives, so OSHA  could not proceed with the inspection without obtaining a warrant, which generally takes at least a couple of days.

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Reports: Environment Agency gives go-ahead for fracking

BusinessGreen: A controversial method for extracting shale gas should resume now the potential dangers are better known, the Environment Agency has said. Exploratory drilling in Lancashire was temporarily halted after the process, known as fracking, was linked to localised earth tremors, prompting the government to launch a study into the possible effects. The results are not expected for a few weeks, but speaking at a conference earlier this week, Tony Grayling, head of climate change and communities at...

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Feds, 5 states to push for Great Lakes wind farms

Associated Press: The Obama administration and five states announced an agreement Friday to speed up consideration of plans for offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes, which have been delayed by cost concerns and public opposition. Under the deal, state and federal agencies will craft a blueprint for speeding regulatory review of proposed wind farms without sacrificing environmental and safety standards. The Great Lakes have no offshore wind turbines, although a Cleveland partnership announced plans last year for...

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Canada to speed up approval of big energy projects

Reuters: Canada, intent on boosting development of the oil-rich tar sands, will speed up the process for approving big energy and industrial projects such as pipelines. The federal budget, released on Thursday, also said the right-of-center Conservative government would crack down on political activity by charities, some of which have strongly criticized Ottawa's focus on energy exports. The government, which has long complained about the complex approval system for pipelines and mines, said it would...

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OSHA reaccredited as an authorized continuing education provider

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Directorate of Training and Education has been reaccredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training to continue providing Continuing Education Units for work-related injury and illness prevention training.

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Nuclear Commission Clears $10.2 billion Reactors in South Carolina -

Yep... $10.2 billion. Add in the lifetime cost of monitoring and nuke waste insurance and cleanup and how is this profitable?

Seriously, do the stakeholders in this own calucators?

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#EarthHour 2012 – A dissent and poll

#EarthHour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines

On March 23, 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) released its highly anticipated final Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines. The Guidelines present a tiered approach for the consideration and analysis of potential impacts to wildlife and habitat from onshore wind energy development. The five-tier process and other guidance found in the Guidelines aim to efficiently avoid and minimize impacts to wildlife and habitat by guiding the decisions of developers from the initial stages of site selection through the development of project design and the ultimate construction and operation of a project.

While the Guidelines are voluntary, this new publication represents the informal rulebook by which the USFWS will judge the appropriateness of a site or project design and the adequacy of mitigation, including for purposes of enforcement. The new Guidelines replace the interim guidance published by the USFWS in 2003 and are effective immediately. The final version of the Guidelines does not significantly differ from the September 2011 draft version that was issued for public comment.

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New wastewater treatment system could generate electricity too

Sonia Renthlei: The problem of how to deal with growing sewage is a reasonable one....Current waste water treatment methods involve many steps to separate solid and liquid components. The cleaning process is time consuming and expensive which is why not all regions can afford to invest in the technology. While this is understandable, it has led to more water shortage than ever before. The energy needed to treat waste water has found to be 2 percent of the overall power consumption in the US.

Two-in-one device uses sewage as fuel
Two-in-one device uses sewage as fuel

The scientists’ report stated that commercial productions of the machine could prove to be a boon for areas facing sewage problems. The prototype is capable of processing five times more sewage than conventional technology at six times the efficiency. Moreover, it is doubly cost effective than its predecessors.

The scientists also improved the prototype’s energy recovery capacity from 2 to 13 percent, a significant leap that could pave the way for generating substantial electricity. According to them, future generations of the machine could provide for efficient waste water treatment for free. If successful, the issue of water scarcity could be addressed to a degree in areas facing water shortage.

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'Muckbusters' help in converting food waste to usable, clean electricity

Dattatreya Mandal:mWhen we talk about sustainable electricity generation, perhaps the very last thing that comes to our mind is food. But, the next time you guiltily scrap off your plate over the dustbin, remember that all of such discarded stuff can actually help in producing electricity. How so? Well, designers from a green technology based company called SeaB have ingeniously contrived shipping container like systems, in which your leftover food can be filled. And, Voila! After a whirlwind of processing through various components of internal circuitry, the end result is ‘clean’ electricity.

How to get leftover spaghetti to power your iPad
How to get leftover spaghetti to power your iPad

...The technical side of affairs entails the natural processing of the food by bacteria. This process of biological ‘chewing’ results in emanation of gases, which the machine can automatically filter for deriving of methane. This internal stream of methane is then passed through a heat and power system for generation of electricity.

Now, beyond the uniqueness of its functionality, there is clear practical side to this sustainable scope. According to the company, food is the largest single source of waste in California at 15.5 percent, which amounts to a whopping 6 million tons of food being dumped annually by Californians. In fact, figures show that the discarded food from San Francisco alone could account for clean electricity for 22,000 households!

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Increase in US Oil Production...Biofuels have made the largest contribution,

The above graphs shows US liquid fuel production, 1980-2011, broken out into its major components...You can see that at this point a large fraction of the liquid fuel numbers are not actually crude coming out of the ground. 

This next picture shows the same data but putting the non C&C components onto the other axis so that they are not stacked on top of the C&C line:

This makes it clear that most of the production resurgence of recent years has come from the non-crude components. Biofuels have made the largest contribution, but NGLs and refinery gains have contributed also.
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American Spending Goes Into Overdrive As Savings Plunge To 2008 Levels

ZeroHedge - 
in February personal spending soared ...while incomes barely rose... Which means the balance had to be savings funded. So even as we have seen retail weakness in the past three months, we now know that it was not only credit funded, but also forced US consumers to burn through their meager savings. And all this before the gasoline price shock hit....

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The Consumption Dysfunction | ZeroHedge

The latest reports from the Bureau of Economic Analysis on economic growth and personal income and spending have, on the surface, appeared to show improvement.   Spending is up more than expected and economic growth is clipping along at a 3% annual growth rate in the fourth quarter.  That  is the good news.  As we have discussed in the past the consumer is the key to this whole economic equation.  Consumption is 70% of the economy and, as long as the consumer has the ability to consume, the economy can chug along.  However, therein lies the dysfunction as well.

The first chart shows GDP on a 10 year rolling percentage change basis.  That massive decline in economic growth occurred even as consumption expanded from below 60% to over 70% of the economy.  The belief is that expanding consumption should drive stronger economic growth but in reality the strongest economic growth was occurring while spending and debt levels remained at lower ranges and savings rate were high.  Savings, as a function leads to productive investment as money is loaned to businesses for expansion or startup, real estate development, or the purchases of equipment.  In turn production is increased which leads to higher levels of employment and income.  During the 60-70's savings rates ranged between 6% and 15% versus 3.7% today.

Today, the belief is that if the system is flooded with cheaper dollars that the near-term dysfunction of the economy can be fixed through a consumption driven recovery.  The problem, however, as we just discussed, is that production must come first.  Production is the real source of healthy consumption in the economy.  The debt driven consumption of the 80-90's was a slow moving cancer through the economy.  Debt has to be serviced which, as debt levels increased without commensurate increases in income, diverted more and more income away from savings and ultimately productive investment. 

The problem is that with the media viewing data from only one month, or quarter, to the next the long term trends are being missed.

dpi-real-033012Incomes On The Decline

In order for consumers to continue to consume at rates high enough to support long term economic growth they need increasing wage growth to offset the effects of inflation over time.  This is currently not the case.  In fact wages have been stagnant and declining since October of 2010.  As of today's latest read - the year over year change in real disposable incomes fell 50% from where it stood in January.  Even on a monthly basis real disposable incomes fell in both January and February.  Mortgage and debt payments, insurance, utilities, food and auto payments must be met every month and these are just the bare essentials that consume a very large portion of the monthly household budget. 

Food & Energy On The Rise - Savings On The Decline

Therein lies the obvious problem.  As the rate of increase in income declines as food and energy costs rise - the deficit between income and expenses is made up with either decreased  personal savings, increased debt or both.  However, with credit tight, limited savings and engaged, either by force or choice, in debt deleveraging - consumers are struggling with higher food and energy prices as they try to maintain their current standard of living. 

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Food Poisoning's Hidden Legacy: Scientific American @marynmck

...It is a scary idea that food poisoning—which we think of as lasting just a few days—could instead have lifelong aftereffects. The incidence of such “sequelae,” in medical parlance, has been thought to be low, but not many researchers studied the problem until recently. New findings by several scientific teams suggest the phenomenon is more common than anyone thought.

A Common Problem?
Foodborne disease has an enormous public health impact even if you count only the initial, acute episodes of illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2011 that the U.S. sees 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths every year from foodborne organisms. (The European Union had 48,964 cases and 46 deaths in 2009, the most recent year tallied.) The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service calculates the cost of foodborne illnesses just from bacterial infection to be at least $6.7 billion, counting medical care, premature deaths and lost productivity. Re­searchers who attempt to track chronic effects say that the actual bill is much higher.

“People don’t understand the full consequences of foodborne disease,” says Kirk Smith of the Minnesota Department of Health, which lends its investigators around the U.S. “They think you get diarrhea for a few days and then you are better. They don’t understand that there is a whole range of chronic sequelae. And although any of them may not be common individually, when you put them together they add up to a lot.”

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Does Foodborne Illness Trigger Lifelong Health Problems? @marynmck

The few studies that have followed victims of foodborne illness for years show that later in life, they suffer higher-than-usual rates not only of digestive trouble, but of arthritis and kidney problems, as well as greater risk of heart attack and stroke. Superbug author and blogger Maryn McKenna reports at:

Does Obamacare have a $17 trillion funding gap?

Senate Republican staffers continue to look though the 2010 health care reform law to see what’s in it, and their latest discovery is a massive $17 trillion funding gap.

“The more we learn about the bill, the more we learn it is even more unaffordable than was suspected,” said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Republicans’ budget chief in the Senate.

“The bill has to be removed from the books because we don’t have the money,” he said.

The hidden shortfall between new spending and new taxes was revealed just after Supreme Court justices grilled the law’s supporters about its compliance with the Constitution’s limits on government activity. If the court doesn’t strike down the law, it will force taxpayers to find another $17 trillion to pay for the increased spending.

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GreenWashing is killing longterm environmental protection efforts

A new Gallup poll reports that Americans are still broadly skeptical of the Green agenda, currently putting economic growth ahead of the environment by 49 percent to 41 percent. And moderates are increasingly joining conservatives in the opinion that economic growth should be a priority even if it incurs some environmental damage. Gallup polls show that trends have been going against the greens for years now, which makes the recent claims of a “tipping point” toward a green consensus seem especially dubious.

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Geothermal energy could generate 3 million megawatts power in US alone

nationwide geothermal energy potential
nationwide geothermal energy potential

But David Blackwell, one of the leading minds in the field of geothermal energy has reiterated the fact that there is endless potential that is going untapped across the globe in form of the heat generated by earth’s core. While the general perception is that we can harvest geothermal power only in places where there are hot natural springs, much like the Yellowstone national Park and its spectacular geyser field, the fact is that there are many other ways in which we can generate clean power from the endless heat engine that we call Earth’s core.

According to experts, United States alone could easily generate around three million megawatts of power from geothermal energy if the proper infrastructure is in place. This can be done by injecting liquids into sites and creating artificial geysers that can generate clean energy and the use of old and discarded crude oil stations, where an underground reservoir for injection of liquids would be already in place thanks to fuel companies.

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Cooking up Energy: Waste gases from fried chicken offer clean power

New green technology converts fried chicken into electricity
New green technology converts fried chicken into electricity

In essence, the idea of Yu Chin’s invention is to create a cooking unit that will be independent from external power sources and can power itself on with ease. The process of frying a chicken obviously produces plenty of heat and all this heat and the gas produced can be channeled to generate energy in a unique way. It would be interesting to know if other cooking processes too can produce the same result. There are many kitchens across the globe that get uncomfortably hot while cooking and this technology might be translated to achieve similar results.

This special chicken cart is currently on display at the exhibition of dual use military technology in Lung-Yuan Research Park, Taiwan. The fried chicken power was inspired by military technology that uses heat from vehicles to produce additional power for the vehicle. While the technology in itself might not be revolutionary, it could help those many scores of fried chicken stands that you normally see and could improve quality of working conditions a whole lot.

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iZen's Bamboo Keyboard for iPad Takes the Plastic Out of Electronics

Colorado startup iZen's bamboo keyboard works for the iPad and other Bluetooth enabled devices.

Mississippi Residents Find Death Along Oily Gulf Shores

Since BP’s catastrophic oil blowout nearly two years ago, Laurel Lockamy has gotten pretty good at photographing the dead. She’s snapped images of dozens of lifeless turtles and dolphins, countless dead fish, birds, armadillos and nutria and pretty much anything that crawls, swims or flies near the white sandy Mississippi beaches of her Gulfport home.

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Government to reconsider nerve agent pesticides - Independent

The Government is to reconsider its refusal to ban neonicotinoid pesticides, the nerve-agent chemicals blamed for the collapse of bee colonies worldwide, the chief scientist at the Department of the Environment, Sir Robert Watson, told The Independent.

...The Government has refused previous requests to consider a precautionary suspension of the chemicals, which have been banned in France and Italy, despite mounting evidence that they are harmful to bees and other pollinating insects, even in minute doses.

Bees' role in pollinating crops is worth billions of pounds annually to global agriculture.

Even on Thursday, after the new studies were published, a spokesman for Defra said the new research did not change the Government's position, and that "the evidence shows that neonicotinoids do not pose an unacceptable risk to honey bees".

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Mar 30, 2012

U.S. Employment by Industry, 1940 and 2010 » How we fell

Matthew Yglesias posted an image from an infographic released by the Census Bureau showing differences in the U.S. population between 1940 and 2010. This section of the graphic focuses on changes in the industries in which the U.S. workforce is employed. For instance, in 1940 23.4% of Americans worked in manufacturing, down to 10.4% in 2010:

Education, health, and social services have emerged as a major employment sector. On the other hand, while agriculture is a minor  sector today (in terms of % of people employed), in 1940 nearly 1 in 5 people worked in agriculture. As Yglesias says,

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Neonicotinoid Pesticides Linked To Bee Colony Collapse Disorder - Slashdot

"Neonicotinoid pesticides, designed to attack insects such as beetles and aphids, have been shown to harm bees' ability to navigate back to the hive. While initially assumed safe in low enough, non-fatal doses for bees, two papers have shown that may not be the case. Although the studies don't directly study the Colony Collapse Disorder, the scientists believe these pesticides are likely a contributing factor."

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Chinese leader asks Apple's Tim Cook to care for workers - Computerworld

...Li, however, also hoped multinational companies would pay more concern to their Chinese workers.

In response to criticism of the working conditions at Foxconn's plants in China, Apple has defended its policies and opened up its Chinese supplier factories for an internal audit by a labor rights group.

On Wednesday, Cook visited a Foxconn factory in China. Apple released photos showing Cook at an iPhone production line at a newly built Foxconn manufacturing plant, which employs 120,000 people.

This is Cook's first visit to China as Apple CEO. Before becoming company head, Cook visited the country in 2010 to investigate working conditions at Foxconn factories following a string of worker suicides.

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A Very Long Road for Military Nuclear Waste -

Slowly, slowly, the Energy Department is moving forward with solidifying the liquid nuclear wastes left over from cold-war weapons production. On Thursday, the department said it had closed two more of the 51 underground tanks at the Savannah River Site in western South Carolina. The high-level waste was mixed with molten glass to keep it chemically locked up for millennia, and the lower-level material was mixed with a kind of cement that is supposed to keep it in place until the radioactivity dies down.

The department has 22 tanks at Savannah River that do not meet Environmental Protection Agency standards, mostly because they are single-wall tanks rather than double-wall. It closed two of them in 1997 but has faced numerous technical problems. Now it says it will have four more done by 2014 or 2015, and all of them by 2028. It is starting with the tanks that are closest to the water table because their contents would spread most rapidly if they leaked. (The area has a high water table.)

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Scripps Institute develops simple blood test to predict heart attacks and strokes

New findings have identified a blood test which could predict heart attack or stroke weeks...

Roughly two and a half million Americans suffer a heart attack or a stroke each year. About 20% of these - half a million people - die in the aftermath. The proximate cause for both heart attack and stroke is a blood clot in the wrong place - a blood clot that could be prevented or minimized by anti-clot therapy IF physicians knew that an attack or stroke was expected shortly. New findings from a research study led by Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) has identified a new blood test which has the promise of predicting heart attack or stroke weeks prior to their occurrence. .. Continue Reading Scripps Institute develops simple blood test to predict heart attacks and strokes

The rise of the machines, as told by workplace safety signs

Featured below is a small sampling from an incredibly amusing set of mechanical warning labels, collected by the folks at NOTCOT during this year's WESTEC manufacturing convention in Los Angeles.

For those unfamiliar with it, NOTCOT describes the convention as "the ultimate manufacturing show from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers… [featuring] amazing tools, waterjets, 3D printers, CNCs, microCNCs, robot arms, welding devices… and SO much more." In other words: The perfect birthplace for a robot insurrection.

May we all learn from the mistakes of these hapless stick figures, that we might be prepared for the very worst in the years ahead.

The rise of the machines, as told by workplace safety signsThe rise of the machines, as told by workplace safety signsThe rise of the machines, as told by workplace safety signsThe rise of the machines, as told by workplace safety signsThe rise of the machines, as told by workplace safety signs

Check out the rest of the set over on NOTCOT.

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In 2011, the Federal Reserve Purchased a Stunning 61% of U.S. Debt -

Michigan Economy Shifts Into High Gear in January as Economic Activity Index Reaches 6-Year High

Comerica Bank's Michigan Economic Activity Index rose seven points in January, up to a level of 98.  The January index level is 38 points, or 63%, above the index cyclical low of 60, and  marks the highest index reading since January 2006 (see chart above).

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I will be reading the "Hazard Communication Answer Book (Answer Books) by Mark Moran this weekend.

Last time I looked there was only one more hard copy version at Amazon. I am looking forward to reviewing the book and will post a summary here on his map of navigating through the new Hazcom Standards. Have a great weekend fellow readers!

One day, this system will let you flush the toilet to keep the heat on.

Algae: It’s a burgeoning biofuel, a handy ingredient in cosmetics, and a nutritious addition to food. One day, it might be used to generate heat in your apartment, with a little help from a toilet flush or some running water.

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Great Lakes residents clash over water levels.

People around the Great Lakes — the world's most abundant freshwater system — are fighting over water. Complaints that levels are too high or too low are longstanding, but the debate is growing louder as a warming climate raises the specter of more dramatic changes.

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Tightening up antibiotics on US farms.

US farmers may soon be prevented from dosing healthy livestock with antibiotics that encourage faster growth. Pressure for a ban has fallen on the FDA following publication of research showing how a strain of bacteria jumped from humans to farm animals and back again, picking up antibiotic resistance on the way.

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Occupational cancer rates in China climb as Several cancer rates decrease in USA

Is China paying the price of world outsourced manufacturing?

Occupational cancer in China
Li and colleagues estimate that in China about 3% of all cancer deaths in men and about 2% in women are due to workplace exposures. However, these figures are likely to underestimate the true situation.

Several cancer rates decreasing in the USA
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have published the latest "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer", which shows that death rates from all cancers combined for men, women, and children continued to decrease between 2004 and 2008.

A proposed study could help determine a link between living near nuclear facilities and risk of cancer

A proposed study could help determine if there is a link between
living near U.S. nuclear facilities and having a higher risk of
cancer, but challenges and limitations exist, says a new report from
the National Research Council. To evaluate the feasibility of such a
study, the report recommends that a pilot study of seven nuclear
facilities be completed first, although the ultimate decision about
whether to perform either would be the responsibility of the U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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CBO | S. 1023, Haiti Reforestation Act of 2011... environmental recovery of 35% of Haiti’s land area within five years

S. 1023 would authorize assistance to Haiti to reduce deforestation,
increase efforts to restore forest cover, and improve management of
natural resources. The bill would set specific targets for those
efforts: promote the environmental recovery of 35 percent of Haiti’s
land area within five years, restore forest cover to at least 10
percent of Haiti within 30 years, and increase agroforestry (the
simultaneous production of trees with crops or livestock) cover to
more than 25 percent of Haiti within 10 years.

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Mega Millions Perspective | Gary Varvel | The Indianapolis Star

Capsule removes radioactive substances from beverages

Radioactive material in water and beverages may soon be removed with a disposable scrubber...

With airborne radioactivity from Fukushima's still-critical damaged reactors circling the globe and more likely on the way from the mass incineration of earthquake debris, individuals are certainly justified in wanting to shield themselves from the fallout, especially when it shows up in their food and drink. Now, to address concerns about nuclear contamination in juice, milk and even water, a team of researchers led by Allen Apblett from Oklahoma State University (OSU) has announced development of a capsule that, when dropped in liquid, can easily and effectively remove numerous radioactive substances and thus prevent the consumer from ingesting them... Continue Reading Capsule removes radioactive substances from beverages

US $16.394 Debt Ceiling D-Day: September 14, 2012

ZeroHedge...Tim Geithner said that any worries of the US debt ceiling are misplaced, and that at best such an event would occur “late in the year” (and to think the August 2011 extended $16.394 trillion debt ceiling was supposed to last well into 2013)...The answer is that at the current rate of debt issuance, which incidentally is going to accelerate sharply due to the recent extension of the payroll tax cuts which will require an incremental $100-150 billion total debt to be funded, and extrapolating future issuance solely on historical patterns, the US debt ceiling D-Day will be September 14, 2012

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Floating wind turbines to produce low cost renewable energy

Altaeros Energies have created a floating wind turbine that produces low cost, renewable e...

Altaeros Energies has announced the first testing of its Airborne Wind Turbine (AWT) prototype that resembles a sort of blimp windmill. The test took place at the Loring Commerce Center in Limestone, Maine, USA where the AWT floated 350 feet (107 meters) into the sky and successfully produced power, before coming back to earth in a controlled landing. The turbine was deployed into the air from a towable docking trailer, while demonstrating that it can produce over twice the power at high altitudes than generated at conventional tower height.. Continue Reading Floating wind turbines to produce low cost renewable energy

Wind turbines that use human-like learning to improve efficiency

Chinese researchers have developed a biologically inspired control system for wind turbine...

Wind turbines are exposed to a wide variety of wind conditions, from zephyrs to gales, and ensuring the maximum amount of power is extracted from the turbine across a range of wind speeds is a difficult task. Chinese researchers have now developed a biologically inspired control system that uses “memory” of past experience to learn how to best adapt to changing conditions... Continue Reading Wind turbines that use human-like learning to improve efficiency

Australia: No emission limit on new coal plants.

The Baillieu government has dropped an election commitment to bring in limits on greenhouse gas emissions from new coal-fired power plants.

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CDC - Severe Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Associated with Coxsackievirus A6 — Alabama, Connecticut,

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common viral illness caused by enteroviruses that predominantly affects children aged <5 years. In the United States, outbreaks of HFMD typically occur during summer and autumn months. The most common cause of HFMD in the United States has been enterovirus serotype coxsackievirus A16. Most infections are asymptomatic; persons with signs and symptoms typically have a mild febrile illness with rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet, and sores in the mouth. HFMD also has been associated, often weeks after initial symptom onset, with nail dystrophies (e.g., Beau's lines or nail shedding).

From November 7, 2011, to February 29, 2012, CDC received reports of 63 persons with signs and symptoms of HFMD or with fever and atypical rash in Alabama (38 cases), California (seven), Connecticut (one), and Nevada (17). HFMD is not a reportable disease in the United States; the cases were identified as unusual by health-care providers or by a department of health that contacted CDC for diagnostic assistance. Clinical specimens were collected from patients in 34 of the 63 cases. Coxsackievirus A6 (CVA6) was detected in 25 (74%) of those 34 patients by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction and partial sequencing of the VP1 gene at CDC or at the California Department of Public Health. No enteroviruses were detected in the other nine patients.

Of the 63 patients, 40 (63%) were aged <2 years, and 15 (24%) were adults aged ≥18 years; 44 (70%) of the patients had exposure to a child care facility or school, and eight (53%) of the 15 adults had contact with children in child care where cases of HFMD were reported, or provided medical care or were related to a child with HFMD

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Researchers generate liquid fuel using solar generated electricity.

UCLA researchers have generated isobutanol from CO2 using a genetically engineered microor...

While electric vehicles have come a long way in the past decade, they still have many disadvantages when compared to internal combustion engine-driven vehicles. The lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles have a much lower energy storage density when compared to liquid fuel, they take longer to “refuel,” and they lack the supporting infrastructure that has built up around conventional vehicles over the past century. Now researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a process that could allow liquid fuel to be produced using solar generated electricity... Continue Reading Researchers generate liquid fuel using electricity

The Chart Of The Decade - ZeroHedge & infiniteunknown

The Chart Of The Decade (ZeroHedge):

This chart tells millions of stories. I’m trying to get my head around its implications.

That’s right: since 1984 (surely an appropriate year) while the elderly have grown their wealth in nominal terms, the young are much worse off both in inflation-adjusted terms, as well as nominal terms (pretty hard to believe given that the money supply has expanded eightfold in the intervening years). So why are the elderly doing over fifty times better than the young when they were only doing ten times better before?

Are young people a stupefied generation coddled by parents and government, addicted to welfare, junk food, drugs and reality TV?

To some extent, but are they any less fiscally and morally responsible than the marijuana-smoking, free-love-embracing, national-debt-accruing baby boom generation? That’s a matter of opinion, but my answer is probably not. Baby boomers hate Ron Paul, while the under-35s seem to love him.

Is it due to government policies that favour the elderly and screw the young?

America is suffering from excessive consumer debt:

Net worth is calculated by subtracting debt from assets. The biggest debt for most people is a mortgage. So having more mortgage debt or less mortgage debt tends to be a pretty good determinant of net worth. (And no — unlike in the United Kingdom and Australia which have a severe problem with housing affordability — housing in the USA is still cheap today priced in wages)

The biggest issue though, is this:

The truth may be that the inability of the unemployed to become self-employed is the force that is squeezing the jobless most. Certainly, job migration overseas has changed America, but why should it mean continued elevated unemployment? There is enough money to keep the economy flowing so long as there are opportunities for people to make themselves useful in a way that pays. With the crushing burden of overregulation and the problem of barriers to entry, these opportunities are often restricted to large corporations.

These issues of youth unemployment and growing inequality between the generations are critically important. Unemployed and poor swathes of youth have a habit of creating volatility in response to restricted economic opportunity.

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Update: Apple supplier Foxconn hit on poor working conditions - Computerworld

...A monthlong investigation by FLA revealed compensation issues, health and safety risks, and issues that have led to a "sense of unsafe working conditions among workers," the organization said in a statement.

FLA claimed it gave Foxconn "a full-body scan through 3,000 staff hours," and surveyed more than 35,000 workers, while investigating three of its factories. Foxconn Technology Group, owned by Hon Hai Precision Industry, is Apple's largest supplier and makes the iPad and iPhone. Independent groups have urged Apple to address the poor conditions of factory workers in China.

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