Monthly Archives: July 2013

Q&A: Veteran War Photographer Tim Page on Cambodia, Conflict and Getting High

World

Tim Page covered three decades of conflict across Indochina after falling into the industry as a 21-year-old during the attempted Laos coup of 1965. Page smuggled the only pictures of the putsch out of the country and was offered a staff job at the UPI press agency as a result. A native of Kent, England, he was shot four times during the Vietnam War and underwent extensive therapy after losing a sizable chunk of his brain. His penchant for chemical inebriation and eccentric personality was the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s tripped-out journalist in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, but it is his stunning pictures that have adorned countless publications the world over that remain the real stuff of legend. Now 69 and living in Brisbane, Australia, Page was in Cambodia during last week’s disputed general elections and spoke to TIME about the changing atmosphere there as well as the shifting…

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Japan Automakers Team Up to Add Number of Electric Chargers

Thanks;Anna Mukai and Yuki Hagiwara
July 29, 2013 2:55 AM EDT

Japanese automakers led by Nissan Motor Co. (7201), the producer of the zero-emission Leaf car, said they’ll cooperate to increase the number of the charging stations in the country to speed up adoption of electric cars.
Nissan, Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), Honda Motor Co. (7267), and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (7211) agreed to share costs to help build an additional 12,000 charging stations — including 4,000 fast-charging points — they said in a statement today, without specifying a timeframe. Japan now only has about 4,700 chargers, a third of which are of the rapid variety, which is generally seen as insufficient, they said.
Japanese automakers have led the auto industry in production of low- and zero-emission vehicles in recent years, though electric cars have struggled to catch on because of issues including higher prices and range anxiety. More recently, competition has been intensifying, with Model S-maker Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) last month unveiling a system that can replace a depleted car battery in 90 seconds — faster than it takes to fill up the tank in a gasoline car.
“Japanese auto manufacturers have been global leaders in developing and commercializing electric vehicles,” said Ali Izadi-Najafabadi, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst in Tokyo. “To achieve higher volume sales, manufacturers need to address the higher initial cost and the perceived limitations of electric vehicles, particularly driving range.”
Fast Chargers
The most common type of fast charger in Japan is called CHAdeMO, which can charge electric cars within 30 minutes.
Sales of electric vehicles, including those that have a small backup gasoline tank like General Motors Co. (GM)’s Chevrolet Volt, will probably increase more than 80 percent to 225,000 units this year, according to estimates at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Japan ranked second behind the U.S. in terms of electric-vehicle sales during the first half and led the world in terms of regular hybrid-vehicle sales amid the popularity of Toyota’s Prius cars, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
In terms of infrastructure, Japan had the third-highest number of regular electric-vehicle charging stations during the first quarter, behind China and the U.S., while ranking second behind China in the number of fast chargers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Government Subsidies
Toyota, maker of the Prius, is the top producer of gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles though it lags behind Leaf-maker Nissan in electric vehicle sales.
Japanese automakers are also seeking to expand the number of charging stations after the government set aside 100.5 billion yen ($1 billion) to subsidize new electric chargers.
Aside from sharing costs, the four Japanese carmakers said they plan to jointly promote installations of chargers, develop ways of making the charging stations more convenient to use and work with the government, according to today’s statement.
To contact the reporters on this story: Anna Mukai in Tokyo at amukai1@bloomberg.net; Yuki Hagiwara in Tokyo at yhagiwara1@bloomberg.net

Special admin zone may be established in South Thailand

Thanks;Anapat Deechuay,
Supitcha Rattana
The Nation
NSC chief denies BRN issued a 9-point proposal

BANGKOK: — Ahead of its dialogue with separatists today, National Security Council (NSC) secretary-general Paradorn Pattanata-butr yesterday dismissed as untrue a report that the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN) had prepared a preliminary nine-point proposal. Paradorn said the report was in fact released by a group that disagreed with the dialogue.

Affirming that the purpose of the dialogue was to reduce violent attacks in the region – not to discuss a “Pattani Metropolis” special administration zone as widely speculated – Paradorn said Thailand’s 15-member team would travel to Kuala Lumpur for the first meeting with 15 militant representatives from more than nine groups. The groups are led by BRN executive Hassan Taib.

“We will submit our proposal before reaching any deal. We would like to see a drop in the daily attacks, and a stop to attacks on innocent people and car bombs in downtown areas,” he said.

Denying a report that ousted prime minister Thaksin Shina-watra would be in Malaysia during the event, Paradorn said Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra had approved the names of the 15 Thai delegates for the dialogue.

However, he declined to provide details of the representatives drawn from social sectors, out of safety concerns.

The state officials in the team are Paradorn, Special Branch Police commissioner Saritchai Anek-wiang, deputy permanent secretary for defence Nipat Thonglek, Internal Security Operation Command officer Nakrob Boonbuathong, Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre chief Thawee Sodsong, National Intelligence Office executive Maj-General Surawat Butwong, an unnamed representative from the Foreign Affairs Department’s Department of Treaties and Legal Affairs and King Prajadhipok’s Office of Peace and Governance director Ekkachai Srivilas.

Meanwhile, the Patani and Peace-Loving People Network yesterday submitted an open letter in support of the dialogue to Paradorn at Government House.

Core member of the network Hakim Pongtikoh said the letter reflected the opinions of more than 7,000 people living in the deep South. He said they backed Thai authorities’ dialogue with militants on condition that no agreement with negative impacts on the deep South residents is signed. Thai delegates must not agree to withdraw military troops from the South or lift the emergency decree, Hakim said. Paradorn said proposals from his network would be summarised and forwarded to the Thai delegates.

In related news, an insurgency suspect identified as Abdulromeng Dueloh, 34, was found dead in a ditch early yesterday after a clash with security forces in a village in Narathiwat’s Joh I Rong on Tuesday night. Police said an arrest warrant had been issued for him on October 21, 2008, in connection with the murder of state officials.

Security forces raided the village after a tip-off that members of a militant group ,which allegedly attacked a military base at Ban Yue Loh in Bacho district last month were hiding there. Two defence volunteers were wounded in the ensuing firefight. Some suspected militants were also wounded but escaped.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Teachers of Three Southern Border Provinces, which is today hosting its fifth annual memorial event for 159 slain teachers and educational personnel, at CS Pattani Hotel, urged Thai delegates to push for an end to violence against teachers in the region. The memorial event will be attended by 3,000 teachers from across

Police: Toxic levels of pesticide in kids’ lunch

Thanks;INDRAJIT SINGH / Associated Press / July 20, 2013 /Boston.com
PATNA, India (AP) — Samples of cooking oil and leftover food taken from an Indian school where 23 children died after eating lunch this past week were contaminated with ‘‘very toxic’’ levels of an agricultural pesticide, police said Saturday.

Ravindra Kumar, the additional director general of police in the city of Patna, told reporters that forensic tests revealed that the samples contained the pesticide monocrotophos in levels that were ‘‘very toxic’’ for humans.

The free midday meal was served to the children Tuesday in Gandamal village in Masrakh block, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Patna, the Bihar state capital.

Twenty-three children between the ages of 5 and 12 died from eating the meal and many others fell ill.

No arrests have been made in the case.

Authorities discovered a container of insecticide in the school’s cooking area next to the vegetable oil and mustard oil, but it wasn’t yet known if that container was the source, officials have said.

India’s midday meal plan is one of the world’s biggest school nutrition programs. State governments can decide on menus and timings of the meals, depending on local conditions and availability of food rations.

It is seen as an incentive for poor parents to send their children to school and currently covers some 120 million children across the country.

It’s also part of an effort to address concerns about malnutrition, which the government says nearly half of all Indian children suffer from.

While complaints about the quality of the food served and the lack of hygiene in the program are routine, the incident in Bihar appeared to be unprecedented for the massive food program.

Ex-supervisor at Indian Point nuclear plant charged with falsifying test reports

Thanks;Gil Aegerter
Staff Writer, NBC News

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A former supervisor at the Indian Point nuclear plant in New York has been accused of falsifying test results involving emergency generators so the plant would not have to shut down.

Daniel Wilson, 57, of Walden, N.Y., was charged in federal court for the Southern District of New York with engaging in deliberate misconduct and making false statements, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement Tuesday.

The charges stem from tests of the diesel fuel used in emergency power generators that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires the plant to maintain as part of its license.

A criminal complaint says that 2011 tests showed particulate matter in the diesel fuel exceeded NRC limits. Wilson, chemistry manager at the plant from 2007 through 2012, is accused of fabricating resample tests to show that the fuel was within limits, then lying to other employees at the Buchanan, N.Y., plant about it.

The complaint says that Wilson later admitted to NRC personnel that he “fabricated the test results so that Indian Point would not have to shut down.” He resigned in April 2012.

The nuclear plant, which is about 35 miles north of midtown Manhattan in New York City, later replaced one of the tanks involved in the tests that showed the excess particulates.

Plant owner Entergy said other employees of the Indian Point plant uncovered the deception.

In a statement Tuesday, Entergy said: “At no time was the plant in an unsafe condition. We completed an evaluation of the fuel oil and determined that all the generators would have performed as designed.”

Wilson could not be reached for comment and it was not known if he had a lawyer.

Entergy is involved in a long-running battle to get new 20-year licenses for the plant’s two reactors but faces stiff opposition from the state and environmental groups. The license for one reactor expires this September; the NRC said it can continue operating pending a decision on the relicensing.

After the 2011 earthquake and meltdown in Japan, it was revealed that Indian Point was rated by the NRC as having the highest risk of catastrophic failure because of an earthquake of any nuclear plant in the United States.

Other incidents have provided fodder for opponents of the relicensing. In February, one of the reactors was forced to shut down because two pumps stopped working.

In 2009, an estimated 600,000 gallons of radioactive steam was released during a shutdown. The NRC said the level of tritium released was within acceptable federal levels for drinking water. But the New York Daily News noted that the release was in steam not drinking water and that the Environmental Protection Agency does not set a safe level for inhaled tritium.

The NRC has said it believes the plant is safe and gave the reactors a “green rating” for safety in 2012.

Heart-warming moment lost baby sperm whale jumps for joy 5ft above the waves after being reunited with its family

Thanks;HARRIET ARKELL
PUBLISHED: 17:03 GMT, 19 July 2013 | UPDATED: 17:03 GMT, 19 July 2013

Every small child knows the panic of losing sight of its mother in the supermarket, and as these delightful pictures show, small whales obviously feel the same way.
Taken by a British diver who was following the sperm whale calf, they show the minute the baby – who had lost track of its mum – found her again in the sea off the Azores.
Soaring 30ft across the waves, the euphoric newborn slammed its body onto the water with joy after becoming separated from its family group in the chilly waters.

Every small child knows the panic of losing sight of its mother in the supermarket, and as these delightful pictures show, small whales obviously feel the same way.

Taken by a British diver who was following the sperm whale calf, they show the minute the baby – who had lost track of its mum – found her again in the sea off the Azores.

Soaring 30ft across the waves, the euphoric newborn slammed its body onto the water with joy after becoming separated from its family group in the chilly waters.

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The newborn sperm whale calf leapt out of the water and slammed its 12ft-long body onto the sea to tell its mother it had found her again

But the adorable whale calf was doing more than just jumping for joy.

British biologist and dive guide Justin Hart, 44, who took the pictures, says that young whales communicate with older ones in the ocean by creating a slamming sound which travels through the water to the ears of the adults deep below.

By leaping out of the water and slamming its 12ft long body onto the surface of the sea up to 30 times, the baby whale is telling its relatives where it is so they can regroup.

He said: ‘We had been following the sperm whale calf for most of the day.

‘Sperm whales, of all the whales and dolphins, are the species that dive the deepest and for the longest time.

‘The calves have to follow what’s going on below them from the surface as best they can – probably listening to the echo location clicks of the adults.

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The newborn whale had become separated from its family group when they swam deeper to hunt squid

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Breath-taking sight: Despite being only a few months old, the whale calf measures 12ft long

‘However sometimes the adults re-surface far out of sight of the calf – and in this situation the whales often breach or leap out of the water causing a large bang as their bodies hit the surface.

Mr Hart, who is originally from London but now lives on Pico Island in the Azores, said in this way, the whale family could regroup and the calf could suckle if it needed to.

He added: ‘When I took the photo two adults females had just resurfaced and the calf quite literally began jumping for joy.’

Mr Hart captured the rare image four miles from the port of Lajes do Pico while he was working as a crewman on an underwater documentary with special licence to film sperm whales in the area.

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The baby whale slams its body onto the water to tell the adults where it is so that they can regroup

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The sperm whale pod was photographed four miles off the island of Pico in the middle of the Atlantic

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Diver Justin Hart, who is originally from London, is living in the Azores and working on a whale documentary

Sperm whales live in nearly all the world’s oceans in pods of about 15 to 20 animals and they practise communal childcare.

When the baby is fully grown adult it will weigh up to 45 tonnes and be nearly 60ft long – around the same as two double decker buses end-to-end.

Mr Hart said the sperm whales dived deep to hunt squid in what is called the mesopelagic zone, around 600 metres under.

He said: ‘This is a problem for the calves as they do not have the capacity to follow their mothers there when they leave the surface to forage.

‘The calves do not have to follow their mother too closely as sperm whales have a system of surrogacy whereby the calf can take milk from any milk-producing female in its social group.’

The Big Idea: Can We Outsmart Climate Change?

Thanks;Clive HamiltonJul 19, 2013 4:45 am EDT

Politicians reluctant to cut emissions are tempted by an easy fix, but Clive Hamilton, author of the new book Earthmaster, says what we actually need is not less politics in the geoengineering debate—but more.

What is your big idea?

President Obama’s long-awaited plan to cut U.S. carbon emissions was met with a sigh of relief by those who get climate change. But the truth is the planned cuts, along with those promised by other major polluting nations, will not limit warming to 2ºC, the agreed safe limit.

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The earth can be saved, at least according to Clive Hamilton. (SSPL/Getty Images)
On the contrary, we are heading for warming of 4 to 5 degrees Celsius, perhaps as soon as the 2060s, which will be catastrophic by any measure. After all, at the peak of the last ice age, when New York was a mile under ice, the globe was on average only 5 degrees Celsius cooler than in the 20th century. Already with human-induced warming of only 0.8 degrees Celsius, we have turbocharged the climate system. A 4-degree world doesn’t bear thinking about.

So what are we to do? For years climate scientists would not talk about “Plan B,” but some have become so anxious about the future they think we have no choice but to prepare for the worst.

“Geoengineering” encompasses a range of schemes aimed at deliberate, large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system to counter the effects of global warming—in short, technologies to stop us crossing a point of no return. They are now the subject of research around the world, notably in the U.S., Germany, Britain, and China.

Plan B includes schemes such as fertilizing the oceans so they soak up more carbon dioxide, brightening marine clouds so they reflect more sunlight, and coating the planet with a shield of sulfate particles to turn down the amount of solar radiation falling on the Earth. Schemes like these involve attempts to regulate the great natural processes that govern the Earth system.

Last month during a big climate change address, President Obama said we need to act before it’s too late.
How is politics overshadowing and muddling the debate on geoengineering?

The problem is that the debate on geoengineering is not political enough. For the most part, it is being carried on in the pages of scientific journals. There, it is presented mostly as a technical problem, and the handful of scientists who have been most prominent in the news media naturally frame it in scientific terms.

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“Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering” by Clive Hamilton. 264 pages. Yale University Press; $28. ()
Yet when we think about what is at stake—taking control of the world’s weather—any attempt to engineer the climate must be an intensely political act. Some geoengineering schemes will have different impacts in various nations, so conflict is built in to them.

Some scientists argue that we should keep politics out of it, at least for the time being, and let them get on with their research. Any regulatory controls should kick in only if experiments could cause significant damage to the environment.

But experiments that do not change the physical environment can certainly change the social environment. In other words, they can change the politics of climate change. After all, which government, reluctant to reduce emissions sharply, would not be tempted by a Plan B that promises to allow it to cut through the “super wicked problem” of climate change?

And in these early days we are seeing some distinctly political characters jump on the bandwagon. Characters like Newt Gingrich have praised geoengineering as a cheaper alternative to cutting emissions. Characters like Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson have said climate change is “an engineering problem and it has engineering solutions.”

And characters like the authors of Superfreakonomics believe that “the task of reversing global warming boils down to a straightforward engineering problem: how to get 34 gallons per minute of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere?” The politics of engineering do not get any cruder than that.

Do you think the issue will be resolved, and if so, when—or will there come a time when it is too late?

No wonder right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and even the Heartland Foundation—organizations that have for years spread disinformation about climate science and attacked policies aimed at cutting emissions—have come out in support of geoengineering.

There is a danger that geoengineering may become the preferred solution of conservatives, because it seems to protect the political-economic system from change. It’s time more progressive opinions, and scientists with a less Promethean view of the world, became involved. There are some of the latter, like Alan Robock, but more need to be heard.

One thing is clear: American citizens need to learn about geoengineering and become engaged in the debate because at present less than 5 percent know what it is. It’s not going to go away. In fact, as I see it, geoengineering as a response to global warming is destined to be the dominant question of the 21st century.

Texas Passes Abortion Bill

Thanks;
Tamir Kalifa/AP

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Well, we didn’t expect it to happen a second time. The abortion bill successfully blocked last month by Wendy Davis and the Democratic bloc of the Texas legislature was given final passage by its Senate on Friday. The vote stood 19–11. Among other restrictions, the bill, which is expected to be signed by Gov. Rick Perry, bans abortions after 20 weeks and subjects abortion clinics to the standards of hospital surgical centers. Although the bill was ostensibly intended to protect women’s health, Perry said after its passage that it would “defend our smallest and most vulnerable Texans and future Texans.”