04 July 2006

Top 10 New Environmental Technologies


From Treehugger: "TreeHugger sees a lot of different technologies that, in some way, proclaim to be part of the solution to creating a more modern, green world. We have a whole category dedicated to it, and think that some or all of it probably has a role in helping us break away from the oil-centric, fossil fuel-based energy and economic systems that rule most of the world. An article over at Live Science breaks down ten such emerging technologies; some have been around for awhile and are already making a difference, and some are a bit more out there, still emerging from the fringes to make a serious run at displacing existing "dirty" technology. From making "paper" as we know it obsolete, to allowing plants and microbes to help clean up after us to harnessing waves and tides, the list is full of ideas to make our planet a better place for all TreeHuggers to live. ::Live Science via ::Hugg"

Shitting Bricks


From Treehugger: "While flicking or rather clicking through Core 77 the other day I came across the Ecobrique. It sounded interesting, but the explanation was vague at best, ‘bricks which incorporate waste treatment plant residue in the clay matrix.’ Unfortunately the company’s website is only in french, so being the curious TreeHugger that I am, and in the hope that I could explain the Ecobrique to you, the TH reader, I asked them for an English translation. And this is what I’ve understood so far : The french company vBc 3000 has patented a process of making ceramic products from sewage sludge. Partially dried sewage sludge is mixed with clay to create bricks or expanded clay aggregates, such as lightweight concrete. The bricks can be fired in traditional kilns and the clay aggregates made in the rotary furnaces that they use in cement factories. The resulting materials are lightweight and as durable as traditional building materials. (This post continues on the site) "

How to Build Your Own 1000 Watt Wind Turbine!


From Treehugger: "The latest project over at DIY site Instructables (the same place we found Microwave Mitten Warmers) is a 1000 watt wind turbine. Complete with pictures of the construction, from the magnet disks to coils and other necessary parts to a home-made wind turbine, it looks like a work in progress, so we're interested to see how it turns out. For anyone interested in the technical details, it's a permanent magnet alternator, generating three-phase AC, rectified to DC, and fed to a charge controller; if you can't decode the last sentence, beware that this project is for mechanically-inclined DIYers only. It's still fun to look at and track its progress, though, and is worth a look. ::Instructables via ::Digg"

Don't buy Palm Oil products! Destroyer of Orangutans!


From Treehugger: "In September we wrote about how bakers were switching from cheap transfats to highly saturated but transfat free palm oil, and that rainforests and primate habitats were being destroyed to enlarge palm oil plantations. Now the Center for Science in the Public Interest has started a major awareness campaign with full-page ads in papers like the New York TImes, stating that "Keebler, Oreo, Mrs. Fields, Pepperidge Farm and other companies use palm oil in some of their cookies. It's found increasingly in crackers, pastries, cereals, and microwave popcorn." They also have an online petition to Wal-Mart to "adopt a corporate policy on sustainable palm oil. CSPI says that as the nation’s biggest grocery retailer, Wal-Mart should reformulate its house brands to use as little of the ingredient as possible, to seek out sustainable sources for the palm oil it does use, and to insist that its suppliers to do the same." Read the ::Press Release and ::sign the petition"

McDonald's = Amazon Destruction


From Treehugger: "I don’t believe we have many McDonalds devotees in the audience (please correct me if I am wrong), so this news is probably not going so shatter any treehugger’s illusions! Nevertheless the article that John Vidal published in the Guardian yesterday makes for some startling reading. A recent report on the Brazilian soy bean industry, led by Greenpeace investigators, ‘follows a 7,000km chain that starts with the clearing of virgin forest by farmers and leads directly to Chicken McNuggets being sold in British and European fast food restaurants.’ There are however several steps in the food chain before they arrive at the conclusion that McDonalds is to blame for the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. First stop, after the farmers, is the ‘US agribusiness giant Cargill, which has built a port and 13 soya storage works in the Amazon region. It provides farmers with seeds and agrochemicals to grow hundreds of thousands of tonnes of beans a year.’
(This post continues on the site) "

Solar power at Home


From Treehugger: "With summer on the way, most of us will be seeing an increase in daylight hours and, thus, solar radiation. While more sunlight and heat isn't all good (as it's increasingly trapped in our atmosphere and slowly warming our globe), we've discovered numerous ways to harness some of it for good, to reduce your load on the grid and relieve your house of some of its electrical duties. Here are our picks for cranking up solar around the house.

1) The solar address light will insure the pizza delivery guy never gets lost again.
2) The $600 solar kit is a good start for anyone not ready to totally write off the local utility just yet.
3) Solarbrick will light your driveway or pathway with LEDs.
4) Take one room off-grid if you're ready for more than address lights or pathways.
5) FindSolar.com and the Affordable Solar Store are two great places for a serious solar upgrade.
6) The Solar Dorm room and Bob's Solar Project are good how-to guides for the burgeoning solar DIYer."

DIY bank


From Treehugger: "Here’s a great example of disintermediation designed around the social trend of pro-active and self-organising consumer behaviours ie, people actively choosing and creating their own ways to get things done, often together, and sharing opinions of organisations with each other to inform their choices. (Let’s refer to these as “prosumers” – where the role of producer and consumer is blurred). Zopa.com is a peer-to-peer bank: it is the world’s first online lending and borrowing exchange for individuals. It introduces lending members (people with cash to lend) to borrowing members (people who want a personal loan). And it is a hot service innovation in our book.
Okay, so how might this ‘change the world’?
(This post continues on the site) "

LA's South Central Farm Shut Down and Bulldozed


From Treehugger: "After weeks of tension, waiting, and nightly vigils, supporters of downtown South Central Farm in Los Angeles were awakened before dawn yesterday by sheriff’s deputies forcing entry into the property. (See our prevous coverage here and here). Advocates of the farm, working with The Annenberg Foundation and the Trust for Public Land, were able to meet the $16 million asking price, albeit after the set deadline. Although the asking price was eventually met, landowner Ralph Horowitz rejected the offer and initiated the eviction. Supporters, both those camping inside and those in the surrounding streets, staged civil disobedience protests resulting in almost 50 arrests. Deputies in a 100 ft. fire department ladder truck cut away branches to remove and arrest Daryl Hannah and veteran tree-sitter John Quigley from the walnut tree they had been sitting in.
(This post continues on the site) "

"EcoSystem" PC Uses Only 75 Watts!


From Treehugger: "From custom computer maker Jinglehorse comes this new PC called the EcoSystem. Designed around the Core Duo processor and energy efficient components, the EcoSystem PCs are built to match the performance of their Pentium 4 counterparts while using 75% less energy. The basic Jinglehorse EcoSystem configuration uses no more than 44 watts while idle and an average of 75 watts while under full load. The makers claim that it's the most energy efficient PC available today. The EcoSystem PCs are also very quiet — lower power consumption means a cooler running temperature, so minimal fans are needed and are required to run less frequently. Prices start at $895. Thanks to Nick for the tip!"

Hong Kong 5-star hotel wins Green award


From Treehugger: "Strange where one finds a greening going on. No usually anticipated in a 258 room five star hotel, with harbour views, and a rooftop heated outdoor swimming pool. But seemingly the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong has been doing its bit for a few years now. Just this month they were awarded the 2006 ‘Eco-Hotel Champion’ award by the Hong Kong Sustainable Communications Association (HKSCA) a group that promotes the eco-fying of businesses. This is not the first time the hotel has scored a prize. In 2004 they picked up the Gold Award for Green Innovative Practice from the Hong Kong Eco-Business Awards and they were certified under ISO14001 in 2000 for Environmental Management Systems.* While details are scarce as to exactly what changes have been made, the hotel has a ‘green policy’ that commenced back in 1999, and now includes a Green Committee, which works with all the hotel staff to promote the virtues of recycle, repair, reuse, refill, replace and reduce. In winning the award, the General Manager observed that, “We firmly believe that a good green policy makes good business sense.” Hear, hear. ::InterContinental Grand Stanford, via Daily Travel News.
(This post continues on the site) "

Get Rid of Excess Packaging!


From Treehugger: "Yesterday the Women's Institute (think Helen Mirren in Calendar Girls) held a national day of action against excess packaging of food in supermarkets. Across the country, members dumped piles of old food wrappings at supermarkets' doors to make their point about unnecessary waste. Given that it generates 4.6M tons of garbage a year, this is an important campaign (see Treehugger). In fact many supermarkets have started already to reduce packaging because it saves them money. Marks and Spencer led the way and has won the National Recycling Award for its efforts. They removed all the little trays in take-out sandwiches and put recycling bins at the front of four central London stores. Asda sells its ready-made meals without a cardboard sleeve now. Sainsbury’s is using compostable wrapping on its organic apples and potatoes in 140 stores and within the next six months intends to use it for all of its organic produce. The Co-Op sells fully bio-degradable carrier bags and Tesco plans to follow suit by September. “You’ve got to listen to your customers” said a manager at Asda. Quite so. :: Financial Times"

Clean Up Your Kitchen

From Treehugger: "The kitchen can be a minefield when you are trying to be eco-friendly. Start with paper towels and paper napkins—a definite no-no. But how can we give up aluminium foil—it saves hours of pot scrubbing. The answer: 100% recycled aluminium foil, which uses a fraction of the energy needed to smelt aluminium. And the clingy plastic film that is so essential for wrapping up leftovers and covering smelly food? Instead use food covers made of 100% food-grade silicone which are reusable, pliable to fit all types of dishes and containers and good for the freezer. And then there are those plastic bags—so bad and so handy for just about everything… The answer: biodegradable corn starch bags which come in every size. They are now officially certified as fully compostable and made from 100% GM-free cornstarch. For the garbage can: large bin bags made from potato starch or 100% recycled polythene, also bio-degradable. And a special treat—a professional, high-specification digital scale made out of hemp plastic. The base is made from a blend of natural hemp fibres fused into a plastic compound to create a strong and lightweight new material. Keeping a greener kitchen suddenly seems like a real possibility. Incidentally, these products are all from Natural Collection which just won the Observer Ethical Award 2006 for Best Retailer."

Pressuring Starbucks On Bovine Growth Hormone

From Treehugger: "This month, the Organic Consumers Association is organizing a series of protests and leafleting events at Starbucks coffee shops, calling on the corporation to ban genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) milk from its cafes and to brew organic and Fair Trade coffee on a regular basis. Facing mounting consumer opposition major dairies such as Dean Foods and retailers such as Wal-Mart are reportedly telling suppliers to stop using rBGH. Read more about rBGH in this previous post. :: Organic Consumers Association via Hugg"

PS: Did you know there is a Starbucks in the centre of the Forbidden City in Beijing??!!

Make your own ... Solar Thermal Panel!


From Treehugger: "Can you build your own solar thermal panel for under $5? The guys at the The Sietch group say you can. They gives you step-by-step on how to build one yourself. You'll need the back grill of a fridge, a floor mat, some window glass, tape, tubing, and foil. Put it all together and you’ve got a pretty efficient water heater — over 110 degrees on sunny days. They also show you how to make a thermo siphon. Great for heating a pool. :: Via Groovy Green"

Non-Toxic Computers


From Treehugger: "We should be seeing some non-toxic computers coming soon, in reponse to the RoHS deadline which goes in effect on July 1. RoHS is a "Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive" from the Eueropean Union. The EU directive requires lead free electronics in personal computers, as well as banning mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) or polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE). So which computer manufacturers are the producing least toxic PCs so far?
(This post continues on the Treehugger site) "

26 April 2006

Clouds, Clouds, and more Clouds!

Here's a fabulous website that celebrates beautiful clouds, in all there varieties.
Not a lot more to say, other than get over there and have a look - they are amazing!


25 April 2006

Protest Treehouses

From WorldChanging: "Maynard_WC.jpg The vigilant protection of endangered forests represents an enduring legacy of environmental activism, from the Chipko movement in India in the early 70s to Julia Butterfly Hill's long sit in the redwoods. Few things deter a logger from felling a tree more effectively than a protester clinging fiercely to its trunk. Except maybe a protest structure that clings to three trunks at once.

On top of being a wildly inventive architect, Andrew Maynard - whose prefabs have been widely lauded for their astounding multiplicity and brilliant design - turns out to be a cleverly scheming activist. Maynard's Global Rescue Station fastens semi-permanently to the body of three trees, promising not only to shelter and protect protestors during their demonstration, but to take out anything beneath or around it if a logger dares to cut down its supports.

A native of Australia, Maynard's Global Rescue Station initially emerged in the midst of opposition to clearcutting in Tasmania's Styx Valley Forest. The first iteration consisted of two platforms roped into the canopy of a single gum tree (affectionately named Gandalf). Maynard has since advanced his protest design strategy to create the concept for GRS Generation 2, which uses far more refined methods and materials to create a bi-level shelter replete with solar panels and sleeping quarters. Those Earth Firsters might be wishing they'd had Mr. Maynard in their posse a few years back…

Zone Interdite

From WorldChanging: "The military world is hidden from civil society by fences and prohibitive signs. Nevertheless, Swiss artist Matthias Jud and Christoph Wachter have spent five years scanning search engines and atlas to collect information, pictures and map over these restricted areas and they documented their findings in Zone Interdite (restricted area).

Level 1 shows a map of the world with about 1,200 restricted areas marked by green dots. Click on one of the dots and a window will pop up with a short description of the place. Any user who has further information about that location can add it on the website.

The LEVEL_02 part of the project reconstructs particular areas as 3D worlds. A PC-version is freely downloadable and can be personally explored as a virtual walkthrough. So far, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba with its prison camps as well as an Islamic training camp in Sudan are available."
Via Bright.

Huge Coal Fires affect Climate

From WorldChanging: "Here's a problem I didn't know existed. Coal fires are underground fires that burn in coal mines and seams. In China alone, they may spew as much CO2 into the atmosphere as all the cars in the US.

These fires are exceedingly difficult to put out. Indeed, some well-known ones have been burning for decades.

Finding a way to put out coal fires and prevent new ones would seem to me to be an area where some worldchanging innovation could yield profound benefits for everyone. A brief online search turned up some interesting projects -- Remote sensing GIS tools to support fire fighters, an ambitious-looking Sino-German project, some new coal fire-fighting techniques -- but I'm not at all confident that these are the best (or even good) ideas.

But I know some of you guys must have ideas and information. Are there better tools out there? What might be done to address this problem? Why isn't this a better-known issue? If we were going to make fighting coal fires a priority, what would we do, and how would we best go about it?

(Posted by Alex Steffen in To Know It for the First Time – Place, Environment and Ecology at 05:24 PM)

25 Ways to Save the Planet


From TreeHugger: "Earth Day is great; it's a wonderful opportunity for millions of people around the world to take action to help save our delicate planet; the only bummer is that it's only one day each year. With the big day squarely in our collective rear-view mirror, but still fresh in our minds, now is a good time to mention our favorite ways to make every day a little bit more like Earth Day. Each day this week, we'll bring you five things to do to take action and be a good TreeHugger.

25) Get a reel (human-powered) lawn mower (like this one -- they really work! Read our review here) instead of a loud, noxious gasoline grass-cutter.
24) Compost your garbage instead of throwing it all away; over 60% of solid household waste is fit for the compost pile, heap or bin. Check out our picks for composters here.
23) Buy clothes and other linens made from organic cotton. Conventional cotton farming uses only about 3% of the farmland but consumes approximately 25% of the chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and if you want it, you can get it organic: jeans and denim, towels and sheets, even designer couture and upholstery fabric
22) Ride a bicycle. The most efficient form of transportation ever devised was named the most significant innovation in a UK survey; in 2005, more bikes than cars were sold in the US, and it's certainly one of our favorites, from a myriad of killer folding bikes to bamboo bikes to bikes with an electric boost.We don't know how you can't love something that will alternately charge your iPod or make you a daiquiri.
21) Use eco-friendly household cleaners. It's never made any sense to us to use "dirty" chemicals and volatile organic compounds to try to get things cleaner around the house; we recommend ECover, Seventh Generation (if it's good enough for Liv Tyler, it's good enough for us), Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day (read our review of their products), B_E_E and method; between them all, there isn't anything you can't clean without dirtying yourself or the rest of the environment."

Pygmies Sing to Save Their World

gati.jpg From TreeHugger: "Seven African pygmies have arrived in Britain from Cameroon to publicize the destruction of their homeland. They will be performing in concerts featuring traditional bird-like singing used to enchant animals in the forest. These musicians, members of the Baka tribe, will be launching their first album, Gati Bongo next week. The album was recorded using a mobile solar-powered studio under a giant tree in Cameroon. Martin Cradick created the Global Music Exchange to help the Baka fight for their traditions and their way of life. He describes the wonder of their music: "I think it's because, to survive in the rainforest, you have to learn to listen, whereas almost everywhere else our brains learn to filter out sound. Being a musician is 90 per cent about listening, which is why the Baka are so phenomenally musical and can pick up new instruments so quickly". The Baka are nomadic and live a forest lifestyle, hunting elephants with poisoned arrows and spears. They are being driven out of the rainforests by tourism, logging companies and the government which wants to resettle them elsewhere. A Baka musician said: "We were born and grew up in the forest. We do everything in the forest, gathering, hunting and fishing. Now where do they want us to make our lives? ::" Independent

SAAB - First Fossil Fuel Free Hybrid


From TreeHugger: "If you are living in Europe, you might have to drop your feeling of superiority over the SUV-driving Americans, because this week it was announced that after an extremely weak reduction in CO2 emissions for the new autos sold in 2005 (from 162,2 to 160), the European Auto Industry cannot possibly succeed to meet voluntary commitments to reduce the average fleet emissions to 140gm/km. Sweden and Finland lead the pack as the worst performers in Europe, followed up by Germany in third place. Hmmm. Performance car culture = poor performance in sustainability. But motorheads fear not: Saab to the rescue! Saab now has three engines giving hope to the sportscar enthusiast in the face of probable action by EU regulators to give teeth to CO2 commitments. (This post continues on the site) "

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"


From TreeHugger: "Al Gore's new film "An Inconvenient Truth" was a hit at Sundance, the trailer is all over the internet, and now we've found a review of it, courtesy of Ben Jervey (author of The Big Green Apple: Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Living in New York City) at 3r Blogging. His conclusion? "'An Inconvenient Truth' isn't perfect, but it's damn effective." Al Gore has been tirelessly championing his cause to fight global warming of late, and Ben thinks his hard work has paid off: "The result is truly moving, even to someone who feels rather tuned into the issue." Could the film serve as a signal that Gore is prepping a return to politics? Read the whole review to find out, and go pledge to see the film opening weekend (it opens May 24). ::An Inconvenient Truth via ::3r Blogging"

More LOCAL Organic Food in Supermarkets

From TreeHugger: Consumer pressure works! British shoppers have demanded that more organic fruits and vegetables grown locally be made available in their supermarkets. As in North America, there has been criticism of the supermarkets for flying in organic food from great distances. In response a report from the Soil Assocation reveals that five out of the eight big foodstores now buy at least three quarters of their organic staples from Biritish suppliers. This is compared with only two stores in 2003. Kudos to Waitrose and Marks & Spencer which both get 89 percent of the food surveyed from Britain. Organic food sales are big business in Britain, as we have previously reported--they are expected to hit £1.5M this year alone. :: earlier treehugger post"

(This post continues on the site)

Three Gadgets that Save Money & Environment


From TreeHugger: "Here are three gadgets that can actually pay for themselves, and can even start to save you money in the long run.

The first is the Spin-X dryer which uses centrifugal force to dry clothes quickly and efficiently. By rotating at 3300 RPM, the dryer removes a quart of water from clothes using the same amount of energy a regular clothes dryer uses in the first 15 seconds of operation."

(This post continues on the site)

Yurts: the New Hotel


From TreeHugger: "The nomads in Outer Mongolia created them out of necessity, now eco-tourists in France and Spain are vacationing in them for fun. Yurts, those large round tents, last seen in geography book photos with hairy warriors standing in front of them, have been re-invented. At the Hoopoe Yurt Hotel, near Ronda, Spain, you can choose between traditional Mongolian yurts with hand-painted roof poles, or Afghani style ones, which are more rustic. They stand above ground on a wooden bse. The owers are committed to environmental conservation and maintaining the natural beauty of the locale. Each yurt has compost toilets, uses recycled water and has iits own solar system for heat. Set amongst the cork trees, visitors can wander the olive groves, swim in the pool or watch films projected onto the side of the yurt." ::Yurt Hotel

1,000 home 'Eco-City' for London


From TreeHugger: "London Mayor Ken Livingstone has unveiled plans for London's first mini "eco city." It will have approximately 1,000 homes, and will aim to demonstrate that homes can be built in Britain without contributing to global warming. The London project stems from a proposal by Greenpeace and will be taken forward by the London Development Agency (LDA) with help from British engineering firm Arup. Stephen Tindale, executive director of Greenpeace, said: "Once again London is leading the way in the UK and Ken Livingstone is showing what can be done when a politician has the drive to turn aspirations into action. It's time central government took note of what is happening across the Thames." Livingstone said the capital's eco city should set standards for the rest of London and Britain when building houses in the future, adding "I think it will be mandatory. This is the model we want." The mayor hopes to break ground within a year. ::Gulf Times via ::Alternative Source"

Solar Pyramids Being Built in India

solar pyramid

From Treehugger: "A Singapore-based company, MSC Power Corp, is building its first "solar pyramid" in India. The solar pyramid works by drawing in air, heating it with solar energy and moving it through turbines to generate electricty. The company aims to be listed this year on NASDAQ in an initial public offering that it says could be worth more than $5 billion."

HappyMais - an Ecological Toy in Every Aspect


From Treehugger: "It’s fun, it’s biodegradable and it’s ethical, great for kids and the environment. I am talking about HappyMais, the new toy by the Italian company Ecotoy made from Mater-Bi, a natural GM-free corn starch material that is totally biodegradable, and from non-toxic compostable food colourings.
Imagination runs wild moulding the different coloured pieces and sticking them to each other, windows, cardboard or other surfaces to create 2D or 3D shapes by making them moist. The natural starch works as adhesive.
HappyMais not only provides endless fun but is also used as a creative learning tool.
To make the whole product even greener, Ecotoys make a donation to the Earth Fund Association for every box they sell. This helps protecting and conserving large areas of the tropical rain forests. HappyMais is sold in boxes, ranging from ‘ladybird’ (2.5 litres) to ‘elephant’ (60 litres), with the latter helping to save up to 250 square meters of forest per box." ::HappyMais

China Points Finger Back at U.S. over Human Rights Abuses

From OneWorld: "The U.S. released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights practices for 2005 last Wednesday. China wasted no time in offering its annual retort, drawing on dozens of U.S. media reports to hold the mirror up to the "self-styled 'guardian of human rights.'"

Dangerous GM Organisms leaked

From OneWorld: "A disturbing picture of widespread contamination, illegal planting and negative agricultural side-effects is unveiled in what is claimed to be the first report into the extent to which genetically engineered organisms have "leaked" into the environment."

New Sustainability Code for New Homes

From OneWorld: "The Code for Sustainable homes is to become mandatory for all new homes--and possibly all existing homes--in Britain, setting new energy and water efficiency standards beyond building regulations. "

God and Blair

From OpenDemocracy: "empty Church pews A prime minister invokes faith, and his people are bemused or outraged - a signal of the death of "Christian Britain"

The Secret Weapon Against 'Peak Oil'

From OneWorld: "Plans to inject CO2 into oilfields could quadruple U.S. oil reserves, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Applied around the world on a large scale, this technology could hugely increase amounts of easily recoverable oil. How can this process be considered carbon neutral when the whole point is to recover more oil to burn? asks Mark Lynas.

Protecting torture: Red Cross's deadly silence

From LeftTurn: "The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confidentiality policy gives detaining powers legitimacy in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay's Camp X-Ray, and many Israeli detention centers. The policy, in effect, allows ICRC to politely ask torturers to stop torturing, while promising not to tell the rest of the world. While ICRC is maintaining "good working relations with authorities," prisoners continue to be tortured. "

US plans for nukes in conventional war

From Greenpeace: "The unclassified document "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations," authored by US Joint Chiefs of Staff, reveals that the Department of Defense plans to dramatically lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons. The document outlines US nuclear warfighting plans, including the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons and the use of nukes in conventional war.
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/US-joint-nuclear-operations "

Iraq: Corporate Carve-Up

First Detailed Analysis Of Role Of Uk Corporations In The Restructuring Of Iraq
From Corporate Watch:
"CorporateWatch, with The Independent, has produced a new report into the impact of UK corporations in post-Saddam Iraq - out now on www.corporatewatch.org

* £1.16bn worth of UK corporate contracts and investment since March 2003
* UK Consultants: Pushing privatisation
* The 'Baghdad boom' in private security
* How UK government and industry groups have facilitated the carve up
* Profiles of the 66 UK companies known to be in Iraq

UK consultants: creating a new Iraq
The UK's long historical involvement in the Middle East, and leading role in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, is paying off for a great number of UK-based consultancy firms.

Bodies of armed men
The 'security issues' in Iraq have led to the 'Baghdad boom' in private security work. While UK companies may be playing a very secondary fiddle to the US as far as main Iraq reconstruction contracts go, British private security companies (PSC) and private military companies (PMC) are easily neck and neck with their US counterparts.

Iraq wasn't sold in a day
UK companies have benefitted from close and frequent contact with both US, UK and CPA officials and later with Iraqi government ministers. This access has been maintained by the efforts of both private and public organisations

Loukas Christodoulou, the author of the article says
'The US/UK-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was about preserving US/UK access to, and control over, the oil reserves of Iraq. UK companies have since played a big part in creating an Iraq run along "free market" lines, with corporate control over its services and natural resources.'

This report is available on our website www.corporatewatch.org.uk
We are currently looking for funding to print it. "

24 April 2006

Mmmmm... chocolate rooms

From BoingBoing: "For about US $4500, a company in the UK will create an "interactive and edible" chocolate room for you, complete with chocolate chandeliers and sugar wallpaper. Diabetics croak on the spot if they put one foot inside, and this definitely violates the old mom-adage: "never try to eat anything bigger than your head." Link (Thanks, Ivy, and Allen Knutson)"

Bomb squad "defuse" life-size Super Mario power-ups

From BoingBoing: "Five girls decorated their Ohio hometown with life-size Super Mario Brothers power-up bricks. The Man responded with full-on terrornoia, dispatching video-game illiterate bomb-squads to "defuse" the bricks, and now the girls face "potential criminal charges."
The Portage County Hazardous Materials Unit and Bomb Detection Unit were called in to downtown Ravenna on Friday morning after seventeen suspicious packages -- boxes wrapped in gold wrapping paper with question marks spray painted on them -- had alarmed residents.

Boxes were found at the Immaculate Conception Church on West Main Street, the Portage County Courthouse, Deluxe Pastries, the corner of Cherry Way and Main Street, Reed Memorial Library, Ravenna High School and a residence at Sanford and Main streets.

Five girls -- age 16 and 17 -- claimed responsibility for making and placing the packages. The girls said they found an Internet site that included step-by-step instructions for creating replicas of blocks featured in the game.

Link (Thanks, Beth!) Update: Ryan sends us this link to a more complete article with pix, and notes that this site inspired the girls to action (also Alexis and Matthew note the same link) "

Water Bears: earth's toughest animal

From BoingBoing: "Bill Gurstelle has fond things to say about tartigrades (AKA water bears), which are tiny invertebrates. I guess they look more like bears than Sea Monkey's look like monkeys. 200603141212Now here's the thing I really like about tartigrades. They are apparently the World's Toughest Animal. You can shoot them into space, take them to the deepest ocean depths and let them go, deprive them of air, water, and food for years and they don't care. Send them into the core of nuclear reactor. They'll be fine. "