Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition!
I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Today I have a quite long list of articles dedicated on renewables in USA. The reason why I looked more carefully on the subject was because I heard some people think that congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' attempt of assassination was actually ordered by someone. Of course, their thinking was more conspirative than rational but then I investigated a little and I found out that the lady was involved in the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. And then I found that Obama's top adviser on energy and climate is also leaving. Which I found little odd. And then I continued to read.
I pasted exempts from news on renewables and so on. As you can see the issue actually is quite controversial. From one side, it's clear that Obama's administration is lacking the inertia and political will to make serious reforms in this industry. From other side, however, we see that it still has the desire to get a piece of the giant cake called Green Technologies. A cake that is currently dominated by China. And here comes the interesting part - US companies relocate to China, because of the better production conditions. Will USA try to improve local conditions to attract producers? Eventually. But what is their immediate course of actions? USA will try to make a case against China for subsidizing the same industry USA ignores! Obviously, we have something weird going on here. Whether there is connection between it and the shooting, it's hard for me to say. I'm deeply sympathetic with Mrs. Giffords, because I also got trough a head trauma, even if much much lighter than her own. But as you know, I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories.
What I'm interested in, however, is why some things happen. And I see that there is "action" in this field. How and why, I don't know. Obviously, Obama's administration sees very well that the future is in green technologies, but it still cannot fight the "fossil" lobby. Which is bad.
I also disagree with their efforts to slow down China in this particular field. It's not going to work and going to WTO on this is profoundly stupid. Whose fault is that US companies have bad working climate in USA? China exports a lot of things and they subsidize one way or another many exporting industries. If USA wants to take China to WTO, it will be a very long list of infractions. But they won't do that, just as I'm sure they won't do it in the case either. And all that finger pointing is obviously just for distraction. What I still can't see is a distraction from what!? Interesting, huh?
Anyway, I think that it's about time that the new age comes to USA and people get it that green technologies are not matter of politics or of climate change! They are here, because they are needed and because they are better. And because it's their time. If you ask a normal person, without mentioning the climate change or Al Gore what will they prefer - fossil fuels with ever growing price (and the price will grow, there's no doubt about it) or solar/wind energy that will be clean, locally produced and cheap, what would they chose? Of course the cheaper option. The key moment here is that clean energy is not that cheap yet. And the key question is "Why". The answer of which is because it's under-produced, relatively new and not enough commercially developed. But from the moment China enters in our equation as a producer of the same technology, that is poised to change. And it does change. So, it's about time people figure it and act upon it. Otherwise...well, anybody who fails to see the trends of the future will lose - financially, economically and even ecologically. I speak of both USA and EU. Because we're all in the same pathetical lot when it comes to energy efficiency and green technologies. Well, let's hope that will soon change. Because I have the deep conviction that green technologies have much much more to offer once they get endorsed.
Articles:

  1. AP sources: Browner leaving as Obama adviser
  2. E.P.A. Official Seeks to Block West Virginia Mine
  3. For Giffords, Tucson Roots Shaped Views
  4. U.S. to Investigate China’s Clean Energy Aid
  5. Solar Firms Frustrated by Permits
  6. New Tactic in California for Paying Pollution Bill
  7. Solar Panel Maker Moves Work to China
  8. Pentagon Must ‘Buy American,’ Barring Chinese Solar Panels


For Giffords, Tucson Roots Shaped Views

By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and WILLIAM YARDLEY,  January 14, 2011
"A fluent Spanish speaker with a Mexican half-brother, Ms. Giffords fought hard for legislation that would have granted citizenship to students who are illegal immigrants, but she also wants the tough border security favored by many in her Republican-leaning district.
She is a champion of solar energy, important to the Tucson economy. She opposes the death penalty, but backs gun rights. A victim of two home burglaries, she owns a 9-millimeter Glock." source

AP sources: Browner leaving as Obama adviser

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's top adviser on energy and climate matters is stepping down, two White House officials confirmed Monday. The departure of Carol Browner underscores that there will be no major White House push on climate change, given that such efforts have little chance of succeeding on Capitol Hill.
Browner, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President Bill Clinton, will be leaving the White House just as Republicans in Congress prepare to take on the Obama administration over global warming and the administration's response to the massive Gulf oil spill.
Browner successfully helped negotiate a deal with automakers boosting federal fuel economy standards and requiring the first-ever greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles. She also pushed for billions of dollars for renewable energy in the economic stimulus bill.
But the administration fell short on it key domestic priority of passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill to place a firm limit on the pollution blamed for global warming. Just after the November elections, which gave Republicans a majority of seats in the House, Obama admitted the legislation was dead.
Browner's resignation comes amid a series of high-profile staff changes in Obama's White House. source

E.P.A. Official Seeks to Block West Virginia Mine

By JOHN M. BRODER,  October 15, 2010
WASHINGTON — A top federal regulator has recommended revoking the permit for one of the nation’s largest planned mountaintop removal mining projects, saying it would be devastating to miles of West Virginia streams and the plant and animal life they support. 
In a report submitted last month and made public on Friday, Shawn M. Garvin, the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator for the Mid-Atlantic, said that Arch Coal’s proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine in Logan County should be stopped because it “would likely have unacceptable adverse effects on wildlife.”
In 2007, the Bush administration approved the project, which would involve dynamiting the tops off mountains over 2,278 acres to get at the coal beneath while dumping the resulting rubble, known as spoil, into nearby valleys and streams. The Obama administration announced last year that it would review the decision.
In its review, the E.P.A. found that the project would bury more than seven miles of the Pigeonroost Branch and Oldhouse Branch streams under 110 million cubic yards of spoil, killing everything in them and sending downstream a flood of contaminants, toxic substances and life-choking algae. source



U.S. to Investigate China’s Clean Energy Aid


The economic tension between the United States and China escalated on Friday, as the Obama administration pledged to investigate Beijing’s subsidies to its growing clean energy industries while delaying a politically volatile report on the Chinese currency.
Hours after the Office of the United States Trade Representative announced an investigation into China’s support for makers of wind and solar energy products, advanced batteries and energy-efficient vehicles, the Treasury Department said it would delay its semiannual report on foreign-exchange rates, which was due Friday, and could be critical of Beijing’s efforts to keep its currency artificially low.
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, Wang Baodong, called the steelworkers’ allegations “unwarranted and of a protectionist nature, and it’s not a right step by the U.S. side to decide to probe it.” He said China’s green technology industries conformed to W.T.O. rules and were a big contribution to sustained global development.
The lead example of unfair Chinese trade practices in the United Steelworkers’ petition involved China’s restrictions on the export of rare earth minerals. source

Solar Firms Frustrated by Permits

The industry’s analysis, which has been shared with officials at the White House and the Energy Department, urges the federal government to create incentive programs that would nudge municipalities to adopt common codes, fee structures and filing procedures. Germany, Japan and some other countries that aggressively promote solar power have already used such streamlined permitting.
Administration officials said that they were seriously studying the issue, and that they planned to reveal initiatives and funding opportunities to address it.
The analysis suggests that permit standardization could make solar power — still typically an expensive proposition even with various subsidies — competitive for roughly half of the nation’s 128 million homes within just two years. Today, only about 80,000 households have installed solar power in the United States. source

New Tactic in California for Paying Pollution Bill

STOCKTON, Calif. — Officials who have tried and failed to clean the air in California’s smog-filled San Joaquin Valley have seized on a new strategy: getting millions of drivers to shoulder more of the cost.
Faced with a fine of at least $29 million for exceeding federal ozone limits, the San Joaquin Valley’s air quality regulators are proposing an annual surcharge of $10 to $24 on registration fees for the region’s 2.7 million cars and trucks beginning next year. A decision is expected when the governing board meets on Thursday.   source

Solar Panel Maker Moves Work to China

BEIJING — Aided by at least $43 million in assistance from the government of Massachusetts and an innovative solar energy technology, Evergreen Solar emerged in the last three years as the third-largest maker of solar panels in the United States.
But now the company is closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China.
Chinese solar panel manufacturers accounted for slightly over half the world’s production last year. Their share of the American market has grown nearly sixfold in the last two years, to 23 percent in 2010 and is still rising fast, according to GTM Research, a renewable energy market analysis firm in Cambridge, Mass.
In addition to solar energy, China just passed the United States as the world’s largest builder and installer of wind turbines.
source

Pentagon Must ‘Buy American,’ Barring Chinese Solar Panels

HONG KONG — The military authorization law signed by President Obama on Friday contains a little-noticed “Buy American” provision for the Defense Department purchases of solar panels — a provision that is likely to dismay Chinese officials as President Hu Jintao prepares to visit the United States next week.
The American military is a rapidly growing consumer of renewable energy products, because it is extremely expensive and frequently dangerous to ship large quantities of fuel into remote areas of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The solar panel provision is carefully written to help it comply with the free trade rules of the World Trade Organization, which would make it hard for China to ask a W.T.O. tribunal to overturn the provision, trade lawyers said. source

Nature knows best, 2011

Happy new 2011 year to everyone! 
May it be healthier, more successful and a lot happier than the previous one. 

For first post for this year, I chose something very positive. It's about the power of nature and its mechanisms of insuring the well-being of the living things.
I'm not going to comment, since I'm not in commenting mood, but I hope you'll enjoy the articles I picked for you. Especially the first, since it's so impressive! And I really can't understand why this kangaroo care is not used more often even in developed countries. After all, the less unneeded intervention with Nature, the better. And it looks like those babies do at least as good as those in incubators. Which means that it's safe to take them home. And if it's safe, then why not? 
Enjoy!

The Human Incubator

Rey thought about the basics. What is the purpose of an incubator? It is to keep a baby warm, oxygenated and nourished — to simulate as closely as possible the conditions of the womb. There is another mechanism for accomplishing these goals, Rey reasoned, the same one that cared for the baby during its months of gestation. Rey also felt, something that probably all mothers feel intuitively: that one reason babies in incubators did so poorly was that they were separated from their mothers. Was there a way to avoid the incubator by employing the baby’s mother instead?
What he came up with is an idea now known as kangaroo care. Aspects of kangaroo care are now in use even in wealthy countries — most hospitals in the United States, for example, have adopted some kangaroo care practices. But its real impact has been felt in poor countries, where it has saved countless preemies’ lives and helped others to survive with fewer problems.

In Rey’s system, a mother of a preemie puts the baby on her exposed chest, dressed only in a diaper and sometimes a cap, in an upright or semi-upright position. The baby is strapped in by a scarf or other cloth sling supporting its bottom, and all but its head is covered by mom’s shirt. The mother keeps the baby like that, skin-to-skin, as much as possible, even sleeping in a reclining chair. Fathers and other relatives or friends can wear the baby as well to give the mother a break. Even very premature infants can go home with their families (with regular follow-up visits) once they are stable and their mothers are given training.
The babies stay warm, their own temperature regulated by the sympathetic biological responses that occur when mother and infant are in close physical contact. The mother’s breasts, in fact, heat up or cool down depending on what the baby needs. The upright position helps prevent reflux and apnea. Feeling the mother’s breathing and heartbeat helps the babies to stabilize their own heart and respiratory rates. They sleep more. They can breastfeed at will, and the constant contact encourages the mother to produce more milk. Babies breastfeed earlier and gain more weight.
The physical closeness encourages emotional closeness, which leads to lower rates of abandonment of premature infants. But kangaroo care also had enormous benefits for parents. Every parent, I think, can understand the importance of holding a baby instead of gazing at him in an incubator. With kangaroo care, parents and baby go through less stress. Nurses who practice kangaroo care also report that mothers also feel more confident and effective because they are the heroes in their babies’ care, instead of passive bystanders watching a mysterious process from a distance.
The hospitals were the third beneficiaries. Kangaroo care freed up incubators. Getting preemies home as soon as they were stable also lessened overcrowding and allowed nurses and doctors to concentrate on the patients who needed them most.
Kangaroo care has been widely studied. A trial in a Bogota hospital of 746 low birth weight babies randomly assigned to either kangaroo or conventional incubator care found that the kangaroo babies had shorter hospital stays, better growth of head circumference and fewer severe infections. They had slightly better rates of survival, but the difference was not statistically significant. Other studies have found fewer differences between kangaroo and conventional methods. A conservative summary of the evidence to date is that kangaroo care is at least as good as conventional treatment — and perhaps better.
In 2003, the World Health Organization put kangaroo care on its list of endorsed practices.
Kangaroo care, however, is modern medical care, by which I mean that its effectiveness is proven in randomized controlled trials — the strongest kind of evidence. And because it is powered by the human body alone, it is theoretically available to hundreds of millions of mothers who would otherwise have no hope of saving their babies.
source

Scientists identify pomegranate juice components that could stop cancer from spreading

December 12, 2010 
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have identified components in pomegranate juice that both inhibit the movement of cancer cells and weaken their attraction to a chemical signal that promotes the metastasis of prostate cancer to the bone. The research could lead to new therapies for preventing cancer metastasis.
The Martins-Green lab applied on laboratory-cultured that were resistant to testosterone (the more resistant a cancer cell is to , the more prone it is to metastasizing).
The researchers – Martins-Green, graduate student Lei Wang and undergraduate students Andre Alcon and Jeffrey Ho – found that the pomegranate juice-treated tumor cells that had not died with the treatment showed increased cell adhesion (meaning fewer cells breaking away) and decreased cell migration.
Next, the researchers identified the following active groups of ingredients in pomegranate juice that had a molecular impact on cell adhesion and migration in metastatic prostate cancer cells: phenylpropanoids, hydrobenzoic acids, flavones and conjugated fatty acids. source
 

Plant-derived scavengers prowl the body for nerve toxins

November 23, 2010 
The brain is forever chattering to itself, via electrical impulses sent along its hard-wired neuronal "Ethernet." These e-messages are translated into chemical transmissions, allowing communication across the narrow cleft separating one neuron from another or between neurons and their target cells. Of the many kinds of molecules involved in this lively chemical symposium, acetylcholine is among the most critical, performing a host of functions in the central and peripheral nervous system. This delicate cholinergic design however is highly vulnerable. It can fall victim to inadvertent or deliberate poisoning by a class of compounds known as organophosphates—chemicals found in a range of pesticides as well as weaponized nerve agents.
Now Tsafrir Mor, a biochemist in the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University has shown that human butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), a so-called bioscavenging molecule, can be produced synthetically—from plants. Further, Mor and his colleagues have demonstrated the effectiveness of plant-derived BChE in protecting against both pesticide and nerve agent organophosphate poisoning.
The group's research, recently reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), shows promise not only for protecting the nervous system from the effects of organophosphates, but also for gaining a firmer understanding of acetylcholine-linked diseases such as Alzheimer's Dementia and possibly for use against drug overdose and addiction, particularly cocaine.
Bioscavengers, Mor explains, act as sentries in the body, seeking out and binding with unwanted substances and neutralizing or destroying them. The most heavily studied bioscavengers are the two human cholinesterases—acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which is produced by in the brain and BChE, which is produced mainly by the liver and circulates in blood serum. In addition to their role in defending the body from damaging chemicals, cholinesterases perform a vital housekeeping function, mopping up molecules of , once their signaling tasks are complete.
While other neurotransmitters like serotonin are eliminated through reuptake, cholinesterases remove molecules of acetylcholine by hydrolyzing them. AChE is supremely efficient in its catalytic activity, degrading about 25,000 molecules of acetylcholine per second.The solution Mor and his group have come up with is to use transgenic tobacco plants, modified to synthesize human BChE in their leaves. In a series of experiments outlined in the new paper, Mor's group was able to demonstrate successful protection from both pesticide and nerve agent organophosphate poisoning in two animal models. The team was also able to extend the half-life of the plant-derived BChE, more closely replicating the persistence in the bloodstream of naturally occurring BChE, thereby improving its effectiveness. This was accomplished by decorating the outer portion of the enzyme with Polyethylene glycol (PEG). source

New clues uncover how 'starvation hormone' works

December 27, 2010
Dec. 26, 2010 – New findings by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers may solve a 17-year-old mystery about how the so-called "starvation hormone" affects multiple biological systems, including preventing insulin sensitivity and promoting cell survival.
The results connect multiple observations about how the hormone adiponectin functions and eventually could lead to new treatments for conditions ranging from diabetes and weight loss to heart disease and cancer.
In this study, the researchers used models of inducible cell suicide in both , which produce insulin, and cardiomyocytes, which are specific muscle cells located in a part of the heart known as the myocardium, to determine how the single hormone could exert such different influences."This paper shows that the common theme among all these different activities relies on adiponectin's interaction with a specific subset of lipids known as ceramides," said Dr. Scherer, who directs the Touchstone Center for Diabetes Research.
Ceramides are a family of lipid molecules known to promote cell suicide, or apoptosis. High levels of ceramides have been shown to promote diabetes by sabotaging signaling pathways induced by insulin and killing beta cells.
When the researchers introduced adiponectin into cells, they found that the hormone triggers the conversion of ceramides from a destructive force into one that helps cells survive and inhibits cell death.
"Adiponectin essentially provides a makeover of this ugly cousin," Dr. Scherer said.
Dr. William Holland, lead author and postdoctoral fellow in internal medicine, said the new findings have implications for the treatment of numerous diseases including diabetes and cancer.
Adiponectin, which Dr. Scherer discovered in 1994, not only controls sensitivity to insulin but also is known to play an integral role in metabolism and obesity.source

Newly identified self-cloning lizard found in Vietnam

November 11, 2010 by Lin Edwards
 (PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists have just discovered that a small lizard, long known as a restaurant food item in southeastern Vietnam, is an all-female species that reproduces through "cloning" itself.
The newly described species is not the only one that reproduces through cloning, since around one percent of lizard species reproduce with no contribution from males, by a process known as parthenogenesis (from the Greek for virgin birth). In this process the ovum contains a full complement of chromosomes and develops into an embryo without being fertilized. Parthenogenesis also occurs, but rarely, in fish and invertebrates, especially insects such as aphids, and has been artificially induced in mice and other species. source

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