Archive for September 2011
” “Wangari Maathai combined the protection of the environment, with the struggle for women’s rights and fight for democracy,” he said.
Maathai said during her 2004 Peace Prize acceptance speech that the inspiration for her life’s work came from her childhood experiences in rural Kenya. There she witnessed forests being cleared and replaced by commercial plantations, which destroyed biodiversity and the capacity of forests to conserve water.
After arap Moi left government, Maathai served as an assistant minister for the environment and natural resources ministry.
Although the tree-planting campaign launched by her group, the Green Belt Movement, did not initially address the issues of peace and democracy, Maathai said it became clear over time that responsible governance of the environment was not possible without democracy.
“Therefore, the tree became a symbol for the democratic struggle in Kenya. Citizens were mobilized to challenge widespread abuses of power, corruption and environmental mismanagement,” Maathai said.
Maathai’s work was quickly recognized by groups and governments the world over, winning awards, accolades and partnerships with powerful organizations. Meanwhile, her dedication to nature remained, as could be seen in her role in a movie called “Dirt! The Movie,” where Maathai narrated the story of a hummingbird carrying one drop of water at a time to fight a forest fire, even as animals like the elephant asked why the hummingbird was wasting his energy.
“It turns to them and tells them, ‘I’m doing the best I can.’ And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always feel like a hummingbird,” she said. “I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching as the planet goes down the drain. I will be a hummingbird. I will do the best I can.”
Recognizing that never-say-die attitude, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Maathai’s death “strikes at the core of our nation’s heart.” Odinga said Maathai died just as the causes she fought for were getting the attention they deserve.
The United Nations Environment Program called Maathai one of Africa’s foremost environmental campaigners and recalled that Maathai was the inspiration behind UNEP’s 2006 Billion Tree Campaign. More than 11 billion trees have been planted so far.”
via First African woman to win Nobel Peace Prize dies | The Associated Press | News | Washington Examiner.
Declaration of Dissidents for Universal Human Rights
September 26, 2011
“We, former prisoners of conscience, dissidents, victims of torture, persecution, and repression, fighters for freedom, democracy and the dignity of all human beings, gathered here at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, on 22 September 2011, do hereby declare:…… “
via We Have A Dream.
“Signed on this 22nd day of September, 2011, at the opening of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, for the We Have A Dream: Global Summit Against Discrimination and Persecution.
Yang Jianli, Former Chinese political prisoner, founder of Initiatives for China
Ahmad Batebi, Former Iranian political prisoner
Fidel Suarez Cruz, Cuban dissident and former prisoner
John Dau, Survivor of war in Sudan and founder of John Dau Foundation
Rebiya Kadeer, Uyghur dissident and former political prisoner in China
Grace Kwinjeh, Zimbabwean dissident and torture victim
Berta Antunez, Women’s rights activist in Cuba with Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White)
Adeeb Yousif, Darfur human rights activist
Jacqueline Kasha, Ugandan activist for LGBT rights, recipient of Martin Ennals 2011 Human Rights Defenders Prize
Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, Iranian human rights ctivist
Prof. Irwin Cotler, Canadian MP, former Minister of Justice & Attorney General, McGill U. law professor, international human rights lawyer, counsel to prisoners of conscience
David Lowe, Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs, National Endowment of Democracy
Ambassador Alfred H. Moses, Chair of UN Watch
Katrina Lantos Swett, President of Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice
Philippe Robinet, French publisher of human rights testimonies
Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch
John Suarez, Directorio
Human Rights Foundation
Novel and innovative way of tangentially describing components of a movie.
“Whats the difference between Crank 2: High Voltage and Rushmore? Depends who you ask, and theres no accounting for taste. I love both, for what its worth. But what if there were a way to quantify the pure cinematic DNA of any film–using signals such as shot length, amount of camera movement, color palette, and more–and distill it all into a visual “fingerprint” that can be taken in at a glance, and compared instantly with any other film?”
via Infographic Of The Day: Taking The “Visual Fingerprints” Of Famous Films | Co. Design.
“Ms Savage suggests a role in captive breeding programmes – the last resort for species that cannot remain in their native habitat because it is infested with chytrid.
Chytridiomycosis can kill amphibians in less than a week – depending on their genes
The idea would be to screen amphibians’ MHC genes before breeding, to increase the odds of producing Bd-resistant tadpoles.
Prof Reid Harris, an amphibian specialist at James Madison University in Virginia who is trying to develop new treatments for chytrid, described the latest news as “very exciting”.
“The study goes a long way toward understanding the genetic basis of resistance to the amphibian chytrid, and it opens up the possibility of selecting for resistance to the disease,” he told BBC News.
“However, amphibian defences are multidimensional and include innate immune components and microbial defences.
“It is likely that a successful mitigation strategy will be multidimensional as well.”
However, chytrid is only one of the many threats that amphibians face today.
The most profound is loss of habitat, as marshes are drained, forests cleared, and wild areas tamed for human use.
“Although our study provides a new hope that amphibians may bounce back from chytridiomycosis, it does not eliminate the need for human conservation efforts,” Ms Savage stressed.
“Habitat loss, invasive species and habitat degradation are other major factors leading to amphibian declines; and if we can work to provide good habitats so that amphibian population sizes and genetic diversity can increase, they will be much more likely to have the genetic capacity to adapt to Bd.” “
via BBC News – Frog killer immune genes revealed.
A road we dont want to cross or put it another way….we have a choice as to which road we will take in respect of biodiversity.
“At some point, probably in the 1980s, probably in a small brackish lagoon near Chichester, the last Ivell’s sea anemone in the whole world died. That species, like many others, lived out its last days on this planet, in England, in the last few decades.
So what? I have a job and an iPad and a busy life, why should I care about one less sea anemone?
Species extinctions may seem peripheral to modern life, but they matter. They matter to me and they matter to a surprising number of people who believe society has a duty to protect the wondrous diversity of life on Earth.
Why? Because the health of our natural environment is vitally important for our economy and our wellbeing. And that’s not me talking, it comes from government’s chief scientist Prof Bob Watson, who on Thursday signalled a new way of thinking about our natural habitats and the life that lives there, in the first ever UK National Ecosystems Assessment (NEA).”
via The future of conservation is at a crossroads | Martin Harper | Environment | guardian.co.uk.
LEGO is still so astounding in its range and creativity. Here is a beautiful example of an architectural application .
“When Frank Lloyd Wright presented his brilliant vision for Fallingwater®, he surprised everyone. The imagined residence wasn’t placed beside the waterfall that ran through the property, but above it, which almost totally eliminated its visibility. He argued that hearing the water instead of looking at it would connect the owners closer to nature, making it a thoroughly integrated part of their life.
In his design, Wright made use of similar shapes as those found in its surroundings.It consists of climbing levels shaped by large sandstone ledges so the house seems to hover above ground, stretching itself across the diving stream.
The entire house is composed of projected balconies jutting out above the rock. The rooms themselves, with their adjacent outdoor terraces appear to reach out to the branches of the surrounding trees.
Constructed using local craftsmen building with local sandstone, the daring, groundbreaking project would catch instant fame after being featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1938, making it the world’s most famous Private Residence.”
“The Palestinian Arab bid for Unilateral Declaration of Independence this week appears to be strongly influenced by the same principles of hate and destruction.
A Wall Street Journal editorial earlier this week questioned the logic of the UN efforts, even from a Palestinian Arab perspective asking, “A vote at the U.N. won’t create a Palestinian state and will likely retard the creation of one, perhaps for years. It won’t remove any Israeli settlements from the West Bank and might well give Jerusalem reason to accelerate the pace of construction. It could also lead Israel to take various punitive measures against the Palestinians, including freezing tax transfers worth about $100 million a month. The U.S. Congress might follow by cutting off the $600 million in annual aid to the Palestinians.”
This week Mahmoud Abbas acknowledged what he stood to destroy in the wake of these efforts, saying, “the Palestinian people and their leadership will pass through very difficult times after the Palestinian approach to the United Nations.” Saying further, “We decided to take this step and all hell has broken out against us.”
In seeking to understand the move, The Journal referenced an opinion piece that Abbas wrote in the New York Times in May, which said that “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only as a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Criminal Court.”"
As the Wall Street Journal concluded, “In other words, what Palestinians seek out of a U.N. vote isn’t an affirmation of their right to a state, but rather another tool in their perpetual campaign to harass, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel.”
Understand this: ‘peace’ is no goal of the Palestinians, only to hurt, maim, isolate and ultimately destroy the sovereign Jewish presence in the Mediterranean.”
via Suicide Diplomacy – Op-Eds – Israel National News.
“Worse, as far as the men seated in the room were concerned, Ms. Lagarde was partly responsible for the collapse of confidence bedeviling the financial markets. She had dared to state what few of them would admit publicly: European banks were not as sheltered from this storm as they might seem.
Ms. Lagarde has backed off in the past. But this time, she did not climb down from her principal point: That many banks still need a bigger cushion against potential losses in the event of a Greek default. Last week, the monetary fund warned that Europe’s banks had as much as 300 billion euros at risk on various European government bonds but stopped short of saying they needed to raise that much in new capital.
Whatever the figure, it is almost certainly far more than the 2.5 billion euros that European regulators said the banks might need last spring. For some, the fact that so many European leaders are biting back proves that Ms. Lagarde has touched a nerve.”
via Lagarde, New I.M.F. Chief, Rocks the Boat – NYTimes.com.
“Until recently, the development of the smart grid in Europe was largely centered around the integration of the significant amount of large-scale and micro renewable generation that Europe is planning to install. Currently, 10% of Europe’s power is generated from renewable sources, compared to 2.5% in the U.S., and this share is set to reach 20% by 2020.
Utilities throughout Europe are now starting to roll out smart metering as part of a European mandate to have smart meters installed in 80% of European households by 2020. On the basis of ambitious plans announced by utilities and regulators in France, Spain, the U.K. and a gradual rollout in other European member states, GTM Research forecasts an additional 100 million smart meters will be installed between now and the end of 2016. However, so far, most utilities have used advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) more with the objective of reducing operational costs and non-technical losses rather than for empowering consumers through improved access to information about their power consumption.”
“Smart metering rollouts are not only about technology; they are also very much about the process of rollout and the level of engagement achieved with consumers. Denmark’s SEAS-NVE, for example, paid careful attention to this aspect, to the point of training installers in how to talk to customers in their homes. As a result, the utility’s complaint rates dropped significantly and customers now save an average of 16% on their power bills.
Rather than focusing solely on technology, the key to persistent and effective consumer engagement is the provision of clear, timely and detailed information and actionable advice, placed in the context of larger societal objectives. Lowering transaction costs for consumers and strengthening social interaction, norms and values around energy use are key levers for increasing consumer engagement that are largely underutilized by utilities and regulators. ”
via 100 Million Smart Meters to Be Installed in Europe by 2016, but Are End-Users Engaged? : Greentech Media.
“The current operating structure of F1 is such that it gives nothing to race circuits except a global calling card. But it’s a card opens many, many doors….”
“F1 is controlled by Formula One Management (FOM), in which private equity firm CVC Partners holds 70% and financial services firm JP Morgan holds 20%. But the face, voice and spirit of FOM is minority shareholder Bernie Ecclestone-a diminutive, 80-year-old, with a clump of white hair.
He is the gregarious power broker who negotiates with teams and circuits, among others. He tends to give them a deal they resent, after they see what he has kept for the people he represents, but grudgingly play along because what is left is still a fair bit. Fom is the supreme power in the sport. So, it receives all revenues from the sale of TV and Internet rights, gaming rights, and event and track sponsorships.
And the $1.5 billion entity doesn’t pay a circuit to host an F1 race-the circuit pays it an annual fee. Since FOM is a private company, official numbers are unavailable, but it’s widely quoted that 50% of its revenues are divided among the teams in a certain formula. However, nothing from that central pool comes to circuits. Circuits reportedly pay FOM $35-45 million a year as licence fee; the initial contract is for five years. Jaypee will also spend $15-20 million in operational costs-track and event management, logistics, and transport. That’s a total operating cost of $50-65 million.”
via Why Jaypee invested $400 million in F1 race when the project will make the group lose $35 million every year – The Economic Times.