Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Seals Forced Onto Nova Scotia Beaches - Forbes.com

Several islands off Nova Scotia are being inundated by thousands of pregnant seals forced to give birth on shore by unusually mild weather that has prevented the Gulf of St. Lawrence from freezing.

About 3,000 gray seals are hunkered down on Pictou Island, a narrow, six-mile long island in the Northumberland Strait that is home to only about 15 people year-round.

Scientists with the federal Fisheries Department say the mammals have moved to at least two other islands in the area.

The warm weather has persisted across the Maritimes for months, reflecting a trend that has left a string of broken weather records across the country.

"From time to time we see seals coming onshore to give birth, but the ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are extremely unusual this year," Fisheries Department spokesman Leroy MacEachern said Tuesday from Antigonish, Nova Scotia. "There's been no cold weather and no ice formed in the gulf."

Monday, January 30, 2006

CBC News: Many parts of Canada experiencing warm January

Last Updated Mon, 30 Jan 2006 18:09:03 EST
CBC News
British scientists say global warming may be a greater danger than previously thought, after a new report by the British Antarctica Survey was released saying the huge west Antarctic ice sheet may be starting to disintegrate.

INDEPTH: Climate Change

Wired News: Global Warming Risks Severe

Associated Press12:00 PM Jan, 30, 2006 EST

The threat posed by climate change may be greater than previously thought, and global warming is advancing at an unsustainable rate, Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a report published Monday.

The government-commissioned report collates evidence presented at a conference on climate change hosted by Britain's Meteorological Office last year. It says scientists now have "greater clarity and reduced uncertainty" about the impacts of climate change.

In a foreword, Blair said it was clear that "the risks of climate change may well be greater than we thought."

"It is now plain that the emission of greenhouse gases, associated with industrialization and economic growth from a world population that has increased six-fold in 200 years, is causing global warming at a rate that is unsustainable," he wrote.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Warming debate shifts to �tipping point� - washingtonpost.com Highlights - MSNBC.com

Warming debate shifts to 'tipping point' - washingtonpost.com Highlights - MSNBC.com"Some scientists worry it�s too late to reverse climate change"

Hurricanes Shape New Natural Order - Forbes.com

Last year's record hurricane season didn't just change life for humans. It changed nature, too.

Everywhere scientists look, they see disrupted patterns in and along the Gulf of Mexico. Coral reefs, flocks of sea birds, crab- and shrimp-filled meadows and dune-crowned beaches were wrapped up in - and altered by - the force of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Dennis.

"Nothing's been like this," said Abby Sallenger, a U.S. Geological Survey oceanographer, during a recent flight over the northern Gulf Coast to study shoreline changes.

For him, the changes are mind-boggling: Some barrier islands are nearly gone; on others, beaches are scattered like bags of dropped flour.

Hurricanes have been kneading the Gulf Coast like putty for eons, carving out inlets and bays, creating beaches and altering plant and animal life - but up to now, the natural world has largely been able to rebound. Trees, marine life and shoreline features tourists and anglers enjoyed in recent years were largely the same types as those 17th century buccaneers and explorers encountered.

But scientists say the future could be different. Nature might not be able to rebound so quickly. The reason: the human factor.

VOA News - Canada-US Arctic Dispute Sparks Sharp Exchange

By Craig McCulloch
27 January 2006

McCulloch report (Real Media) - Download 613k audio clip
Listen to McCulloch report (Real Media) audio clip

Even though he has not yet been sworn in, Canada's prime minister designate is already in a diplomatic dispute with the United States. At issue is claims of sovereignty in the northern Arctic.

The dispute is over Canada's claim to the area of the Arctic Ocean that is offshore from the country's northern territories.Canada, the United States and Russia have had conflicting claims in the Arctic for years.

The prime minister designate's retort came after the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Wilkins, made a comment earlier this week disputing Canada's assertion of sovereignty over Arctic waters the United States considers international territory. "We don't recognize Canada's claim to those waters," he said.

Ambassador Wilkins added that there is no reason to create a problem that does not exist.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper gives thumbs up in Calgary, Canada, Monday, Jan. 23, 2006
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper gives thumbs up in Calgary, Canada, Monday, Jan. 23, 2006
For incoming Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who will formally take office on February 6, this issue clearly is a problem.

Canada's northern sovereignty became a recurring issue during the 46-year-old economist's recent election campaign. Mr. Harper is promising to build three new armed icebreaking ships for the Arctic in addition to establishing underwater sensors to listen for foreign vessels, including U.S. submarines. He is also vowing to establish aerial surveillance and install more military personnel. In addition, he supports plans for building a new port in the Arctic town of Iqaluit to house the additional personnel and new ships.

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him - New York Times

Published: January 29, 2006

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
Skip to next paragraph Multimedia
Video Dr. James Hansen on Global Warming
Dr. James Hansen on Global Warming
Related Dr. Hansen's Recent Lectures and Papers (columbia.edu)

Dr. Goklany's Papers on Climate Change

The Big Melt
Andrew C. Revkin and Simon Romero look at how the changing climate is affecting people and industry in the Arctic.

The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Gore accuses big oil of bankrolling Tories

Election laws only allow $1,000 corporate donations

"The election in Canada was partly about the tar sands projects in Alberta," said former U.S. vice-president Al Gore.

Renata D'Aliesio and Katherine Monk, Calgary Herald; CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2006

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore has accused the oil industry of financially backing the Tories and their "ultra-conservative leader" to protect its stake in Alberta's lucrative oilsands.

Canadians, Gore said, should vigilantly keep watch over prime minister-designate Stephen Harper because he has a pro-oil agenda and wants to pull out of the Kyoto accord -- an international agreement to combat climate change.

"The election in Canada was partly about the tar sands projects in Alberta," Gore said Wednesday while attending the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

"And the financial interests behind the tar sands project poured a lot of money and support behind an ultra-conservative leader in order to win the election . . . and to protect their interests."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

NewsTrolls ~ News Under the Radar

Hamas sweeps to victory in Palestinian elections, winning a clear majority. The vote was called free and fair and an "expression of the will of the Palestinian people" by international observers, though the Jerusalem Post calls the result a terrorist regime, saying "It is hard to consider an election free when the voters go to the polls at gunpoint." Would they say the same of the Iraq elections? Or consider their own guns, which are frequently fired at Hamas targets? Western governments are reported to be stunned, which is possible only if they know nothing about Palestine. Bush says simply that he won't deal with hamas until it renounces violence - I'm waiting for Hamas to say the same to the U.S. Hamas leaders now have some decisions to make. Submitted on January 26, 2006 4:38 p.m. by StephenDownes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A New Alarm Sounds for Amphibians - Los Angeles Times

# Study, called a 'realistic picture,' finds a mix of low-level pesticides like those found on farms may play a role in species' endangerment.

By Marla Cone, Times Staff Writer

Frogs exposed to a mix of pesticides at extremely low concentrations like those widely found around farms suffer deadly infections, suggesting that the chemicals could be a major culprit in the global disappearance of amphibians, UC Berkeley scientists reported Tuesday.

When tadpoles were exposed in laboratory experiments to each pesticide individually, 4% died before they turned into frogs. But when atrazine and eight other pesticides were mixed to replicate a Nebraska cornfield, 35% died.

The frogs developed an array of health problems, including meningitis, because the chemicals suppressed their immune systems. They also took longer to complete the transformation from tadpole to frog, which reduces their chances of survival.

At least one-third of amphibians worldwide, or 1,856 of the known species of frogs, toads, salamanders and caecilians, are in danger of extinction, according to an international group of conservation biologists.

A variety of factors are thought to be involved, including climate change, ultraviolet radiation, disease, parasites and habitat destruction.

"We demonstrated that a realistic pesticides mixture [based on a mixture applied to an actual field] at low, ecologically relevant concentrations can have dramatic effects on amphibian development and growth and ultimately, we predict, survivorship," Tyrone Hayes, a professor at the university's department of integrative biology, and his colleagues reported in the online version of the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Science News Article | Reuters.co.uk

y Deborah Zabarenko

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Last year was the warmest recorded on Earth's surface, and it was unusually hot in the Arctic, U.S. space agency NASA said on Tuesday.

All five of the hottest years since modern record-keeping began in the 1890s occurred within the last decade, according to analysis by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

In descending order, the years with the highest global average annual temperatures were 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004, NASA said in a statement.

"It's fair to say that it probably is the warmest since we have modern meteorological records," said Drew Shindell of the NASA institute in New York City.

"Using indirect measurements that go back farther, I think it's even fair to say that it's the warmest in the last several thousand years."

Rodale to publish Al Gore book : The Morning Call Online

The politician's take on global warming fits with publisher's history.
By Dan Shope
Of The Morning Call

Rodale Inc. will publish former Vice President Al Gore's book on global warming, the company said Tuesday.

''An Inconvenient Truth'' is scheduled to be released in April.

The deal was announced at the Sundance Festival in Park City, Utah, during a screening of a documentary about climate change.

The partnership between Gore and Rodale, an Emmaus publisher of books and magazines on health and fitness, made sense to those in the publishing industry. Rodale has been known for more than a half century for its support of environmental causes, and in recent years has increased its publishing power.

''It's a nice combination of longstanding interest in a topic and an increased presence in the publishing industry,'' said Jim Milliot, senior editor for news and business at the trade magazine Publisher's Week.

''Five years ago, Rodale wouldn't have tried for Gore and he wouldn't have even thought of Rodale. That was before the success of [Rodale-published] 'South Beach Diet.' This is a further stamp of approval that Rodale is now a mainstream publisher.''

In the book, Gore will discuss global warming and share his story about how the issue became of urgent importance to him. He published another book in 1992, ''Earth In The Balance.''

Gore is featured in a documentary also titled ''An Inconvenient Truth'' that was screened at Sundance. In the film, Gore gives evidence of the environmental impact of global warming.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

U.S. 'outsourced' torture, investigator says - International Terrorism - MSNBC.com

No evidence of secret CIA prisons but suspects sent to other countries

Updated: 4:15 a.m. ET Jan. 24, 2006
STRASBOURG, France - The head of a European investigation into alleged CIA secret prisons in Europe said Tuesday there was evidence the United States outsourced torture to other countries and it was likely European governments knew about it.

But Swiss senator Dick Marty said there was no formal evidence so far of the existence of clandestine detention centers in Romania or Poland as alleged by the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

“There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of ’relocation’ or ’outsourcing’ of torture,” Marty said in a report presented to the Council of Europe, the human rights watchdog investigating the alleged secret prisons.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

ABC News: Iceland the First Country to Try Abandoning Gasoline

: "REYKJAVIK, Iceland, Jan. 18, 2005 — Iceland has energy to spare, and the small country has found a cutting-edge way to reduce its oil dependency. Volcanoes formed the island nation out of ash and lava, and molten rock heats huge underground lakes to the boiling point.

The hot water — energy sizzling beneath the surface — is piped into cities and stored in giant tanks, providing heat for homes, businesses and even swimming pools.

he volcanoes melted ice, which formed rivers. The water runs through turbines, providing virtually all the country's electricity.

Iceland wants to make a full conversion and plans to modify its cars, buses and trucks to run on renewable energy — with no dependence on oil.

Icelanders say they're committed to showing the world that by making fuel from water, it is possible to kick the oil habit."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Independent Online Edition > Europe

By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Published: 21 January 2006

A study by German scientists has established that global warming is the likely cause of chronic water shortages in the river Elbe, and that they threaten to bring shipping to a standstill along one of the continent's main inland waterways.

The study by the Institute of Climate Impact Research in the east German city of Potsdam is the result of six decades of continuous observation of water levels on the Elbe, which runs from the Czech Republic to the North Sea at Hamburg.

The scientists found that water levels had dropped so much during the past two decades that they had rendered the waterway impassable for barge traffic for periods of between four and six months in 1991, 1992, 2000 and 2003. Dr Frank Wechsung, who compiled the study, said: "If this trend continues, we can expect more frequent and more extremely low water levels on the river, which will make it even more difficult to use as a shipping route."

The institute's study says that the cause is lack of rain during the summer which has been induced by global warming. The scientists found that rainwater was not filling the Elbe as reliably as it did in the period 1950-1980, and that mean temperatures had increased in the region by 1C over the past 50 years.

Over the past 30 years there had been an average of 123 days when no rain fell in the Elbe region, whereas during the preceding 30 years, there had been only 85 days without rain.

"Even if we assume that rainfall stays at its present level, it is still certain that temperatures will increase," Dr Wechsung said. "This means that moisture in the drainage areas which feed the Elbe will dry up before it reaches the river. But there is a high possibility that there will be even less summer rainfall in future," he added.

The institute's findings coincide with an extensive German government improvement programme for the Elbe, which aims to increase its use as a thoroughfare for commercial barge traffic. German environmental groups say that it will lead to the destruction of marshlands which are home to rare plants, birds and mammals.

"The latest findings about dropping Elbe water levels make it clear that the government's plans to develop the river are complete nonsense because there will not be enough water under the keels of commercial vessels," said Paul Doerfler of the German environment association, Bund.

German environmentalists have urged the government to drop its plans and concentrate instead on measures to reduce soil erosion in the river basin which contributes to rapid fluctuations in water levels.

A German transport ministry spokesman said that the government's plans for the Elbe merely aimed to strengthen breakwaters that prevented the river silting up. "We have an international obligation to keep the river open to traffic and these breakwaters have been there for centuries. Some of them have fallen into disrepair," he said.

There are similar concerns about the river Rhine, which is Europe's most frequented commercial inland waterway. In the summer of 2003, a drought reduced water levels in the river to their lowest in four decades and brought river traffic almost to a complete halt.

Environmentalists and Juergen Trittin of the Green party, who was then the Environment Minister, blamed decades of regional and central government development projects on the Rhine. They argued that government planning had led to the deforestation of river banks and the channelling of streams feeding the river into concrete water runs which exhausted the Rhine's natural water supply within days of rainfall.

Germany's water authorities have measured unusually low water levels in the Rhine during the first weeks of 2006, a period when traditionally the river often bursts its banks. However, regional officials say that over the past century the volume of water carried by the Rhine has increased as a result of overall increases in rainfall during the period.

A study by German scientists has established that global warming is the likely cause of chronic water shortages in the river Elbe, and that they threaten to bring shipping to a standstill along one of the continent's main inland waterways.

The study by the Institute of Climate Impact Research in the east German city of Potsdam is the result of six decades of continuous observation of water levels on the Elbe, which runs from the Czech Republic to the North Sea at Hamburg.

The scientists found that water levels had dropped so much during the past two decades that they had rendered the waterway impassable for barge traffic for periods of between four and six months in 1991, 1992, 2000 and 2003. Dr Frank Wechsung, who compiled the study, said: "If this trend continues, we can expect more frequent and more extremely low water levels on the river, which will make it even more difficult to use as a shipping route."

Thursday, January 19, 2006

16/12/2005 -- 2005 Continues the Warming Trend

This year has been one of the hottest on record, scientists in the United States and Britain reported yesterday, a finding that puts eight of the past 10 years at the top of the charts in terms of high temperatures.

Three studies released yesterday differ slightly, but they all indicate the Earth is rapidly warming. NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies has concluded 2005 was the warmest year in recorded history, while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.K. Meteorological Office call it the second hottest, after 1998. All three groups agree that 2005 is the hottest year on record for the Northern Hemisphere, at roughly 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit above the historical average.

Jay Lawrimore, who heads NOAA's Climate Monitoring Branch in its National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., called the new data "one of the indicators that the climate is changing." He added: "It's certainly something the administration is taking seriously."

The three teams used the same set of ocean and land temperature records, but they analyzed the data and compensated for gaps in the climatic record differently. As a result, NASA scientists estimate that 2005 average global land and sea temperatures were 1.04 degrees Fahrenheit above average, just beating out 1998's 1-degree elevation. NOAA researchers, by contrast, say this year's global average is 1.06 degrees Fahrenheit above average, compared with 1.1 degrees in 1998.

The analyses were based on data through the end of November and projections of December temperatures.

Scientists said yesterday that these differences should not detract from their common conclusion that the world is experiencing serious climate change, driven in part by human activity. Researchers recently found by drilling ice cores that there is a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than in any time in the last 650,000 years, which reflects that humans are burning an increased amount of fossil fuels to power automobiles and utilities.

asahi.com��Global warming shrinking size of 'world's rooftop' in Tibet�-�ENGLISH


MEILI SNOW MOUNTAIN, China--The "rooftop of the world" is melting.

Thanks to global warming, glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau are rapidly liquefying, possibly causing many of the region's water woes--especially flooding--in the past decades. The huge meltdown could cause serious ecological trouble in the future, including water shortages, Chinese experts say.

The Tibetan Plateau is the source of many major rivers in Asia.

CBC News: Global warming and fungus disease lethal to frogs

The loss of more than 70 species of brightly coloured harlequin frogs in the Central and South American tropics can be blamed on a lethal mixture of global warming and fungal growth, says their study, to be published Thursday in the journal Nature.

Climate change had been suspected as a cause, but the link was not immediately clear. The scientists' answer is this:

Global warming has accelerated cloud formation, which, paradoxically, has a moderating effect on temperature, producing warmer nights and cooler days.

Unluckily for the frogs, this keeps temperatures within a range that fungus loves. More extreme temperatures, both high and low, would hold back growth.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

CNN.com - U.S. opening some private mail in terror fight - Jan 9, 2006

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. officials are opening personal mail that arrives from abroad when they deem it necessary to protect the country from terrorism, a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman said Monday.

News of the little-known practice follows revelations that the government approved eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without judicial oversight after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which sparked concern from civil liberties advocates and some lawmakers, who called for congressional hearings.

"Customs and Border Protection is charged with making sure that terrorists and terrorists' weapons don't enter the country," said Suzanne Trevino, a spokeswoman for the customs agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

"One of our areas of responsibility is to inspect international mail coming into our country," she said. "We respect privacy and always keep that at the forefront, but at the same time we need to make sure we do our job in keeping U.S. citizens safe."

Customs and Border Protection's Web site notes that "all mail originating outside United States Customs territory that is to be delivered inside U.S. Customs territory is subject to Customs examination."

Grant Goodman, an 81-year-old retired history professor, drew attention to the policy after a letter he received from a colleague in the Philippines was opened and resealed by Customs and Border Protection, and only then sent on to him.

He said he was shocked and amazed that the letter -- which he received last month from another retired history professor with whom he has corresponded for 50 years -- had been screened.

Macleans.ca | Top Stories | Air strike in Pakistan kills 17 in reported attacks on top al-Qaida leaders

hree houses, hundreds of metres apart, were destroyed, with wreckage scattered in craters some three metres deep. Five women were weeping nearby, cursing the attackers. Dozens of others gathered to express condolences.

"My entire family was killed and I don't know whom should I blame for it," said Sami Ullah, a 17-year old student, as he shifted debris from his ruined home with a hoe.

"I only seek justice from God."

He said 24 of his family members were killed - among them his parents, four brothers, three sisters-in-law, three sisters and five nephews. He said his father, Bakht Pur, had been a labourer.

Digging through the cement rubble of his home, Shah Zaman, who lost two sons and a daughter, recounted hearing planes at about 2:40 a.m. local time.

"I ran out and saw planes were dropping bombs," said Zaman, 40.

"I saw my home being hit."

"I don't know who carried out this attack and why. We were needlessly attacked."

"We are law-abiding people. I think we were targeted wrongly," he said.

Friday, January 13, 2006

01.11.2006 - Deep-rooted plants have much greater impact on climate than experts thought

BERKELEY – Trees, particularly those with deep roots, contribute to the Earth's climate much more than scientists thought, according to a new study by biologists and climatologists from the University of California, Berkeley.

While scientists studying global climate change recognize the importance of vegetation in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and in local cooling through transpiration, they have assumed a simple model of plants sucking water out of the soil and spewing water vapor into the atmosphere.

The new study in the Amazonian forest shows that trees use water in a much more complex way: The tap roots transfer rainwater from the surface to reservoirs deep underground and redistribute water upwards after the rains to keep the top layers moist, thereby accentuating both carbon uptake and localized atmospheric cooling during dry periods.

The researchers estimate this effect increases photosynthesis and the evaporation of water from plants, called transpiration, by 40 percent in the dry season, when photosynthesis otherwise would be limited.

"This shifting of water by roots has a physiological effect on the plants, letting them pull more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they conduct more photosynthesis," said co-author Todd Dawson, professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley. "Because this has not been considered until now, people have likely underestimated the amount of carbon taken up by the Amazon and underestimated the impact of Amazonian deforestation on climate."

Emigre ends: The end

The Iraqi blogger Emigre ends his blogging experience... "You can all have your war, the war you all want. You can have your racists, you can launch your rockets at your Israelis, you can suicide bomb Baghdad. You can have your oil. You can finish dehydrating the marshlands. You can have your Guantanamo, and your Abu Ghraib. You can have your morons pretending to be Iraqis. You can have all of the propaganda in the world. You can have Al Sadr and Zaqawi and Moqtada and you can have Bin Laden. You can topple more towers. You can use depleted uranium with impunity and smart bombs without my raising a hair. I am, from hereon in, mute. This is my vow of silence. My complicity. You can spy and pry. I do not care. The war is yours, your gift from me in absence." Submitted on January 13, 2006 5:07 p.m. by StephenDownes.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

CBC Toronto - Drug squad defendant arrested

On Jan. 7, 2004 six former members of the downtown Toronto Police drug squad were arrested and criminally charged with offences including assault, extortion, perjury and robbery. The charges followed an internal investigation, begun in August 2001 by Toronto detectives and led by Chief Superintendent John Neily of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The probe looked into repeated complaints and allegations that a core group of drug cops had beaten and robbed suspected drug dealers.

Boing Boing: Correcting the Record: Wikipedia vs The Register

The difference between errors you can fix and errors you can't, or, why Wikipedia is better than the Register... "With Wikipedia, anyone can roll back the clock and see what was published, when, and by whom: Wikipedia's History and Discuss pages are palimpsests recording the process by which the truth was eventually negotiated. With The Register, the negotiation of the truth took place behind closed doors. I never got a response to my emails to Orlowski nor was I informed when the article was corrected. No retraction notice was published, and there's no way for a reader of the article to discover how it was edited, by whom, and when." Submitted on January 12, 2006 1:14 p.m. by StephenDownes.

Wired News: Negroponte: Laptop for Every Kid

By Kevin Poulsen Kevin Poulsen | Also by this reporter
2005-11-21 18:08:00.0

TUNIS, Tunisia -- If tech luminary Nicholas Negroponte has his way, the pale light from rugged, hand-cranked $100 laptops will illuminate homes in villages and townships throughout the developing world, and give every child on the planet a computer of their own by 2010.

The MIT Media Lab and Wired magazine founder stood shoulder to shoulder with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to unveil the first working prototype of the "$100 laptop" -- currently more like $110 -- at the U.N. World Summit on the Information Society here Wednesday. The Linux-based machine instantly became the hit of the show, and Thursday saw diplomats and dignitaries, reporters and TV cameras perpetually crowded around the booth of One Laptop Per Child -- Negroponte's nonprofit -- craning for a glimpse of the toy-like tote.

With its cheery green coloring and Tonka-tough shell, the laptop certainly looks cool. It boasts a 7-inch screen that swivels like a tablet PC, and an electricity-generating crank that provides 40 minutes of power from a minute of grinding. Built-in Wi-Fi with mesh networking support, combined with a microphone, speaker and headset jack, even means the box can serve as a node in an ersatz VOIP phone system.

Under the hood, it's powered by a modest 500-MHz AMD processor, and uses a gig of flash memory for storage. But the key to building it cheaply enough to educate the world's children is an innovative, low-power LCD screen technology invented by Negroponte's CTO, Mary Lou Jepsen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

U.S. troops getting additional body armor - Conflict in Iraq - MSNBC.com

WASHINGTON - The Army plans to send thousands of ceramic body armor plates to Iraq this year to better protect soldiers while the Marine Corps already is delivering such gear, military officers said Wednesday.

In a private appearance before members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the officers defended the body armor available to U.S. troops. A Pentagon study done last summer but only disclosed recently found that improved armor may have prevented or minimized torso wounds that proved fatal to Marines in Iraq.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

CBC Manitoba - Warm weather devastates ice fishery

Lake Winnipeg ice fishers say warm temperatures this winter have prevented them from dropping even a single net into the lake – and with no end in sight to the balmy weather, some are calling on the government for help.

The mild weather has prevented thick ice from forming, which means fishers can't drive their equipment onto the lake's surface. The warm weather has also delayed construction of winter roads that allow trucks to haul out caught fish.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Create an e-annoyance, go to jail | Perspectives | CNET News.com

Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime.

It's no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Internet News Article | Reuters.co.uk

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Forgetting computer passwords is an everyday source of frustration, but a solution may literally be at hand -- in the form of computer chip implants.

With a wave of his hand, Amal Graafstra, a 29-year-old entrepreneur based in Vancouver, Canada, opens his front door. With another, he logs onto his computer.

Tiny radio frequency identification (RFID) computer chips inserted into Graafstra's hands make it all possible.

"I just don't want to be without access to the things that I need to get access to. In the worst case scenario, if I'm in the alley naked, I want to still be able to get in (my house)," Graafstra said in an interview in New York, where he is promoting the technology. "RFID is for me."

The computer chips, which cost about $2, interact with a device installed in computers and other electronics. The chips are activated when they come within 3 inches of a so-called reader, which scans the data on the chips. The "reader" devices are available for as little as $50 (29 pounds).

Information about where to buy the chips and readers is available online at the "tagged" forum, (http://tagged.kaos.gen.nz/) where enthusiasts of the technology chat and share information.

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