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Showing posts from May, 2008

Probing Oil Market

I have my doubts on market speculations being the prime force driving oil price higher recently. Dwindling supply and outstripping demand in the energy market, the basics in world economics mostly are playing major part in rising fuel price in the pump. However, there should be government and independent organizations monitored procedures in place so that no abuse of the system like market manipulation is taking place from various active players. Last year in U.S., The Commodity Futures Trading Commission started a probe in possible price manipulation in energy market. Here is a few quotes from Globe and Mail:
"The CFTC said in a statement that in December, its enforcement unit “launched a nationwide crude oil investigation into practices surrounding the purchase, transportation, storage, and trading of crude oil and related derivative contracts.”
It added that all enforcement inquiries are focused on ensuring markets are properly policed for manipulative and abusive practices. “In…

Batteries Not Included

This CBC program on recycling batteries was re-broadcast today. Here is a quote from CBC site:

"Rechargeable batteries are loaded with heavy metals. Non-rechargeable alkaline ones contain potassium hydroxide, a potent corrosive. The button cells used in hearing aids and watches have mercury in them. Long story short, there is no such thing as a battery that is friendly on the inside."

The interview by Erica Johnson with a representative who is part of battery recycling process shows how inept this program is, less than 10% battery being recycled in Canada after more than ten years of this recycle program had started, rest of them goes to landfill, poisoning the earth. But when the program host Erica took recycle matter on her own, she inspired and collected thousands of batteries from school children, offices, and ordinary people in a small town came forward bringing all those hazardous "dead" batteries. It proves, once again, that ordinary folks are willing to take…

Pickens: Oil Going to $150, So Move to Gas

Oil tycoon Boone Pickens' is in several news this week. First was his multi billion dollar investment in Texas wind firms. Now his simple talks on the very finiteness of oil and world's outstripping demand comparing to peaked out supplies may influence some more upward price for oil soon, very soon. Here are a few quotes from CNBC article:
"The Saudis claim they have more oil," Pickens told CNBC. "They don't. The President wasted his time to go to Saudi Arabia, to say, 'Give us more oil.' They can't give any more oil...they're stacking up the money as fast as they can stack it up."Pickens expects the price of oil to continue rising."Eighty-five million barrels of oil a day is all the world can produce, and the demand is 87 million," he said. "It's just that simple. It doesn't have anything to do with the value of the dollar."
He expects the price of a barrel of oil to reach $150 this year, and he insists spec…

A Policy of Intolerance

While Iran's bitter battle of gaining nuclear technologies gets abundant news coverage, the horrific human rights abuse, intolerance and point blank hatred toward Iranian minorities do not get much attention it seems. Any questions raised against Iran's violating of human rights are labeled as "Pro Western" conspiracy against Iran and its state sponsored religion. For ordinary civilians these bloated words don't mean anything. What matters are being put into prison for simply having different religious belief than the Iranian state condones, that should be condemned for every instance of abuse, torture and questionable deaths while in custody happens.

In Iran, 350,000 Baha'is "are not recognized as a legitimate religious minority, unlike the country's Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians. According to the hard-line clerics, this reduces them to the status of “infidels” beyond the protection of the law. This radical interpretation of sharia is clearly co…

Robot removes Calgary woman's brain tumour

A promising news from Calgary:
"Doctors used remote controls and an imaging screen, similar to a video game, to guide the two-armed robot through Paige Nickason's brain during the nine-hour surgery Monday.

Surgical instruments acting as the hands of the robot -called NeuroArm - provided surgeons with the tools needed to successfully remove the egg-shaped tumour. This is the first time a robot has performed surgery of this kind, but it will not be the last.

Already, the University of Calgary has patients lined up to receive similar surgeries.

"Paige's brain surgery represents a technical achievement in the use of image-guided robotic technology to remove a relatively complex brain tumour," said Dr. Garnette Sutherland, professor of neurosurgery at the University of Calgary faculty of medicine and NeuroArm team leader."Link:
Robot removes Calgary woman's brain tumour

The "Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch

Randy Pausch is dying from pancreatic cancer. An accomplished professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, Randy's "Last Lecture" video is deeply affecting and inspiring. See this video below or from following
link:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3115188410730134929

Instant Extinction Lotto

Buried deep in LA Times' archived articles for the past week is Mark Slouka's article on "gambling" on our very existence by experiments in laboratories. Questioning the risk factors of any scientific experiments, however remotely theoretical that may be, and particularly if that risk factors have the slight chance of annihilating the entire world as we know of it is not "anti-rationalism", as the writer points out, shouldn't there be more open discussions on this experiments that is scheduled to take place in summer of this year? Here is an extract from Mark Slouka's article:
"there exists the remote possibility that the Large Hadron Collider, a proton-smashing machine located at the European Organization for Nuclear Research outside Geneva and due to be fired up this summer, could conceivably produce particles that would instantly end all life on Earth: the jay on the house across the street, the cat on the bed, my daughter walking back from t…

Did the solar system ‘bounce’ finish the dinosaurs?

Every 35 to 40 million years our solar system goes through the dense part of the galaxy. It increases the chance of collisions with comets, asteroids, etc, that might have caused mass extinctions in our world in the past, like the extinction of dinosaurs around 65 million years back though there are other conflicting theories abound. Life also gets dispersed when comets bombard earths, as microorganisms take ride in resulting debris across the universe.

Here is an extract from an article from Cardiff University News Center that discusses a computer model of our solar system's movement built by scientists at Cardiff University:
"we pass through the galactic plane every 35 to 40 million years, increasing the chances of a comet collision tenfold. Evidence from craters on Earth also suggests we suffer more collisions approximately 36 million years. Professor William Napier, of the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology, said: “It’s a beautiful match between what we see on the ground and w…

Does your brain have a mind of its own?

We set up goals, things to do, task lists, etc. Then comes short term and long term visions. We motivate ourselves losing weight, learning new technologies, meditations or musical instruments. As time passes by, most of our goals, things to do and task lists simply disappear from our mind or get pushed back further from newer goals, things to do, task lists and instant gratifications. If "selfish genes" were the sole answers of evolution, why wouldn't "selfish genes" fulfill the goals and tasks that are more rewarding?

Gary Marcus answers:
"The fact that evolution is entirely blind, unable to look forward, backward or to the side. As Charles Darwin observed, evolution invariably proceeds through a process called "descent with modification." In lay language, this means that Mother Nature never starts from scratch, no matter how useful an overhaul might be. Everything that evolves necessarily builds on that which came before. Our arms, to take one si…

A Disaster in Myanmar

Brutally efficient in suppressing protests, Myanmar's military junta is horribly incompetent in dealing with cyclone disaster unfolding in this impoverished nation. "The government, sensibly, has said it will welcome foreign aid, showing a small glint of humanity and gaining some credit from the outside world. However, it is wise never to overestimate the common sense or underestimate the callousness of this, one of the world’s most paranoid regimes."

World's growing food crisis may get another jolt from disaster in Burma, as urgent help is needed in cyclone stricken areas while taking humanitarian resources away from other regions where shortages of food is becoming acute. "Worse, the cyclone, which hit Myanmar’s main rice-growing areas, may intensify the worldwide panic over scarce rice supplies that have led to food riots in dozens of countries."

Link to The Economist article:
A Disaster in Myanmar

An Electrifying Startup

This is a good development in business side. Lithim-Ion battery from A123 Systems has already attracted huge interests and capitals from venture capitalists, receiving 148 million dollar investments already. What can this new technology do? Read the following extract:
"The A123 batteries for GM's Volt store enough energy for 40 miles of driving, enough to cover daily commutes. (On longer trips, the small gasoline engine would kick in to recharge the battery, extending the range to more than 400 miles.)"Link to article:
An Electrifying Startup

Imagine how it feels to be chronically hungry

"When thinking of food shortages, we envision empty shelves, rather than empty bellies. When we think of feeding the hungry can we really imagine the effect of hunger on 100 million people? We can all imagine what it would be like to be hungry for a day, or even two days. But can we imagine the impact of chronic hunger from not enough food if it happened to us every day for the foreseeable future? How would we feel? What impact would it have on our lives?"Read Stanley Zlotkin's article:
Imagine how it feels to be chronically hungry

Two America

In one bakery shop in Waco, Texas, "thumbs up for prejudice, and emphatic thumbs down for the same prejudice", what a stark contrast of two strikingly dissimilar America.



Video Link:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=YF1aO3dAZbY

Multinationals make billions in profit out of growing global food crisis

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With increased demand for biofuels and meat consumption from India and China come food speculation that is also part of current food crisis. "Index-fund investment in grain and meat has increased almost fivefold to over $47bn in the past year, concludes AgResource Co, a Chicago-based research firm. And the official US Commodity Futures Trading Commission held special hearings in Washington two weeks ago to examine how much speculators were helping to push up food prices."

Link to article:

Multinationals make billions in profit out of growing global food crisis

Seed Newsvine

Blood and Sand

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Very few writers can avoid being "one sided". In the more than a century old Israeli Palestinian "blood and sand" saga, this is true more so. Benny Morris is a world wide respectable writer whose scholarly and impartial work portrayed the grim reality of Israel and Palestinian conflict, even giving equal weights to two "righteous victims", rightfully rejecting virulent anti-semitic fervors in despotic Arab leadership and manipulated populace, but also highlighting the suppressed historical facts of forceful exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland, massacres and rapes committed by zealot Israelis.

In The New Yorker, the writer David Remnick chronicled a writer's slow progression from preserving journalistic neutrality to being trapped in the middle of prejudicial notions of contemporary "us and them" mentality. The same Benny Morris who was so remarkable in depicting the plight of both Israeli and Palestinian comple…

Hunger affects us all

Food riots around the world have grabbed our attention. Slowly but surely pouring of news articles, and TV and radio coverages only started to unravel the depth of this problem which is not new, but only beginning to get into "well-fed's" eye sight.

James Carroll observes, "Not only do the well fed fail to perceive the despair and fear that hunger breeds, until it explodes in riots of rage, but the well fed are equally incapable of seeing the causal link between their own privilege and the suffering of the dispossessed - although the substitution of bio-fuel corn production for the growing of edible wheat makes that link unusually apparent. Filling gas tanks of automobiles matters, in effect, more than filling bellies of children."

Article link:
Hunger affects us all