Volume 11, Number 07
Edited by John L. Petersen
See past issues in the Archives
In This Issue:
SEMINAR IN BERKELEY SPRINGS – Lee Carroll/Kryon
Annual Lindbergh Foundation Awards event
Future Facts – From Think Links
Think Links – The Future in the News…Today
A Final Quote
SEMINAR IN BERKELEY SPRINGS, VW – Lee Carroll/Kryon
If you were in the futures business and ran into someone who accurately and regularly told you what was going to happen, say, a year or two from now, would you listen to him or her? What if they did it for 17 years, telling you about upcoming scientific discoveries (18 months before they showed up in Scientific American or Science)…. or explained how things like global warming really work, which, though at odds with the common understanding of such things, nevertheless made a great deal of sense?
Obviously you’d think this person was pretty special, and even if they didn’t tell you how they knew these things, a reasonable person (you’d think), would look at the track record and say: “In this time of extraordinary change, with major disruption on the horizon it would make sense to get as much input as possible from any reliable source – particularly one that can help anticipate futures.”
That’s how I feel about Kryon. As has happened throughout recorded history, certain people have been “plugged in” to unusual sources of knowledge, seemingly not of this world, but with information that turns out to be very important for how we humans live and the future that we experience. The Bible and other religious teachings are full of this stuff, so in one sense, it’s not unusual when such a source comes along. They have been doing so for a long time.
Lee Carroll had Kryon show up in his life many years ago quite against his will and interests. It was only after a couple of years of very explicit prodding that he caved in and agreed to tell others what was being said to him from an extraordinary source who called itself Kryon. Kryon said that he/it was an angelic entity responsible for all of the science related to this world and, in fact had had a role in putting the whole thing together many eons ago. The engineer in me generates a very big and immediate question when people say such things, since none of this can be proved. So I’ll be quick to say that I don’t know who Kryon is any more than the next guy.
But I do know that reading his 12 books of 17 years of verbatim revelations over the past couple of years I have been mightily impressed with not only the extraordinary wisdom and knowledge but also the spirit of this being. And after all, he predictably predicts the future… and that’s a pretty good gig.
So, since we’re looking at a VERY muddled future in the next few years (beginning with the global financial system which may be starting to rapidly unravel), we thought it might be interesting and worthwhile to invite Kryon to come to Berkeley Springs and listen to what he says about the future we’re all going to have to experience – and maybe shape. After all, these are certainly unusual times – perhaps we should start to listen to some unusual sources.
So I invite you to join us for a special Sunday afternoon on May the 4th here in Berkeley Springs with Lee Carroll and Kryon. My guess is that it will be quite memorable. If all of this is a bit weird for you, just think of it as a second opinion from an admittedly strange but very credible source – kind of like a guy who dresses really funny but is very smart and wise. You don’t have to believe it . . . and it won’t hurt to listen… and if it’s not your cup of tea, we’ll give you your money back! Can’t lose on that.
Come along. You might like it.
Kryon Seminar with Lee Carroll
Hosted by John Petersen, Berkeley Springs, WV
Sunday May 4th, 2008, 1:00pm-6:30pm
Click here for more details.
If you have other questions, please email:email@example.com
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FUTURE FACTS – FROM THINK LINKS
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
- A contest is offering a $1million to the first producer to make in vitro chicken.
- A single virus gene is thought to be responsible for some cases of obesity.
- The Canadian government is said to be ready to declare as toxic a chemical widely used in plastics for baby bottles, beverage and food containers.
- Stein’s Law says: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop”. More specifically, when a trend cannot go on, it always stops – even when nothing is done about it.
Google Wants to Index Your DNA, Too
He Wrote 200,000 Books (but Computers Did Some of the Work)
Intelligent Paint Turns Roads Pink in Icy Conditions
$1 Million Reward to First to Make in Vitro Meat
Google Wants to Index Your DNA, Too – (Business Week – April 18, 2008)
The Web search giant’s investment in Navigenics is further proof it wants an early stake in direct-to-consumer genetic screening. Your DNA falls into the realm of “the world’s information,” and it seems that Google, as part of its corporate mission, is making a play to organize that, too.
He Wrote 200,000 Books (but Computers Did Some of the Work) – (New York Times – April 14, 2008)
Philip M. Parker has generated more than 200,000 books, as an advanced search on Amazon.com under his publishing company shows, making him, in his own words, “the most published author in the history of the planet.” And he makes money doing it. But these are not conventional books, and it is perhaps more accurate to call Mr. Parker a compiler than an author. Mr. Parker, who is also the chaired professor of management science at Insead (a business school with campuses in Fontainebleau, France, and Singapore), has developed computer algorithms that collect publicly available information on a subject — broad or obscure — and, aided by his 60 to 70 computers and six or seven programmers, he turns the results into books in a range of genres, many of them in the range of 150 pages and printed only when a customer buys one.
Intelligent Paint Turns Roads Pink in Icy Conditions – (New Scientist – April 4, 2008)
A new temperature-sensitive varnish developed by researchers at French company Eurovia can be applied to road surfaces to warn drivers about dangerous conditions. The technique – still at the testing stage – might help prevent ice-related traffic accidents in future, the researchers say. The varnish is made of a polymer containing a thermochromic pigment.
$1 Million Reward to First to Make in Vitro Meat – (PETA – no date)
In vitro meat production would use animal stem cells that would be placed in a medium to grow and reproduce. The result would mimic flesh and could be cooked and eaten. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is offering a $1 million prize to the contest participant able to make the first in vitro chicken meat and sell it to the public by June 30, 2012. The contestant must do both of the following: 1)Produce an in vitro chicken-meat product that has a taste and texture indistinguishable from real chicken flesh to non-meat-eaters and meat-eaters alike, and 2) manufacture the approved product in large enough quantities to be sold commercially and successfully sell it at a competitive price in at least 10 states.
Meteorites Delivered the ‘Seeds’ of Earth’s Left-hand Life – (PhysOrg – April 6, 2008)
Flash back three or four billion years — Earth is a hot, dry and lifeless place. All is still. Without warning, a meteor slams into the desert plains at over ten thousand miles per hour. With it, this violent collision may have planted the chemical seeds of life on Earth. Scientists have evidence that desert heat, a little water, and meteorite impacts may have been enough to cook up one of the first prerequisites for life: the dominance of “left-handed” amino acids, the building blocks of life on this planet. In a report at the 235th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, Ronald Breslow, Ph.D., University Professor, Columbia University, and former ACS President, described how our amino acid signature came from outer space.
Stem Cell Advance Yields Over 140 Cell Types from Human Embryonic Stem Cells
How It Feels to Have a Stroke
Identical Twins’ Genes Are Not Identical
Single Virus Gene May Cause Obesity
Infected with Insanity: Could Microbes Cause Mental Illness?
Peering into the Heart, Safely
We Have the Technology that Can Make a Cloned Child
The Kanzius Machine: A Cancer Cure?
In Lean Times, Biotech Grains are Less Taboo
Stem Cell Advance Yields Over 140 Cell Types from Human Embryonic Stem Cells – (Medical News Today – April 2, 2008)
A team of North American scientists has unveiled a new technology that could revolutionize the industrialization and commercialization of stem cell therapies. Since the first isolation of human embryonic stem cells in 1998, researchers have struggled to find a means to isolate purified populations of the many hundreds of medically-relevant cell types. Scalability has therefore been a major barrier for development of therapies on a population scale. However, a new technology has been devised that yields over 140 previously uncharacterized cell types, many on an industrial scale.
How It Feels to Have a Stroke – (TED – March 13, 2008)
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes!). Presenter Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist, had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened – as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding – she observed and remembered the entire progression. This is a startling story of the ways in which our brains structure our perception of the world around us and connect us to it. We highly recommend other YouTube clips from the TED conference.
Identical Twins’ Genes Are Not Identical – (Scientific American – April 3, 2008)
Identical twins derive from just one fertilized egg, which contains one set of genetic instructions, or genome, formed from combining the chromosomes of mother and father. But experience shows that identical twins are rarely completely the same. Until recently, any differences between twins had largely been attributed to environmental influences, but a recent study contradicts that belief. In some cases, one twin’s DNA differed from the other’s at various points on their genomes. At these sites of genetic divergence, one bore a different number of copies of the same gene, a genetic state called copy number variants.
Single Virus Gene May Cause Obesity – (New Scientist – April 4, 2008)
If obesity seems to be spreading like a virus, that could be because it is. We’re now closer to understanding how adenovirus-36 (Ad-36), thought to be responsible for some cases of obesity, causes fat cells to grow. Last year Nikhil Dhurandhar at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge showed that Ad-36 causes precursor cells to differentiate into fat cells, and could promote obesity in humans and animals. Now he has shown that a single viral gene is responsible for triggering this process, meaning that one day it may be possible to treat “viral obesity” by altering the action of that gene.
Infected with Insanity: Could Microbes Cause Mental Illness? – (Scientific American – April, 2008)
Mental illnesses once thought to be the result of neurological or psychological defects may be caused by viral or microbial infections. The strongest evidence links schizophrenia to prenatal influenza infection; pregnant women who become ill with the flu are more likely to give birth to children who will develop schizophrenia. The body’s immune reaction, rather than the infections themselves, may be to blame for the resulting brain damage and psychiatric symptoms.
Peering into the Heart, Safely – (Technology Review – April 7, 2008)
Getting a high-resolution picture of the interior of a coronary artery is difficult: to take a scan using existing technology, the heart has to be kept free of blood for 30 seconds. A new approach could dramatically reduce the time required for imaging, making it safer and easier for doctors to check stents for stability and keep track of new scar tissue. The new method builds on an old technique called optical coherence tomography (OCT). But OCT is problematic because it cannot see through blood, so any area being scanned has to be flushed with saline. During the procedure, a special balloon is used to block incoming blood, which can cause damage to the tissue. Two US companies are working individually on a scanning method that would take a fraction of the time, greatly reducing the risk of damage to the heart.
We Have the Technology that Can Make a Cloned Child – (Independent – April 14, 2008)
A new form of cloning has been developed that is easier to carry out than the technique used to create Dolly the sheep, raising fears (and hopes) that it may one day be used on human embryos to produce “designer” babies. Scientists who used the procedure to create baby mice from the skin cells of adult animals have found it to be far more efficient than the Dolly technique, with fewer side effects, which makes it more acceptable for human use.
The Kanzius Machine: A Cancer Cure? – (CBS News – April 13, 2008)
It was the worst kind of luck that gave Kanzius the idea to use radio waves to kill cancer cells: six years ago, he was diagnosed with terminal leukemia and since then has undergone 36 rounds of toxic chemotherapy. Basically, here’s how it works: one box sends radio waves over to the other, creating enough energy to activate gas in a fluorescent light. Kanzius thought he had found a way attack cancer cells without the collateral damage caused by chemotherapy and radiation. Today, his invention is being tested in the laboratories of two major research centers.
In Lean Times, Biotech Grains are Less Taboo – (International Herald Tribune – April 17, 2008)
Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops. In Japan and South Korea, some manufacturers for the first time have begun buying genetically engineered corn for use in soft drinks, snacks and other foods. Until now, to avoid consumer backlash, the companies have paid extra to buy conventionally grown corn. But with prices having tripled in two years, they can no longer afford that. In the United States, wheat growers and marketers, once hesitant about adopting biotechnology because they feared losing export sales, are now warming to it as a way to bolster supplies.
A Shift in the Debate Over Global Warming
Climate Models Look Good When Predicting Climate Change
Canada Likely to Label Plastic Ingredient ‘Toxic’
Why Flowers Have Lost Their Scent
U.S. Nears the Limits of Its Water Supplies
March the Warmest on Record over World Land Surfaces
Jet Stream, America’s Storm Maker, Moving Slowly Northward
Researchers Warm Up to Melt’s Role in Greenland Ice Loss
A Shift in the Debate Over Global Warming – (New York Times – April 6, 2008)
The charged and complex debate over how to slow down global warming has become a lot more complicated. With recent data showing an unexpected rise in global emissions and a decline in energy efficiency, a growing chorus of economists, scientists and students of energy policy are saying that whatever benefits the cap approach yields, it will be too little and come too late. What is needed, Mr. Sachs and others say, is the development of radically advanced low-carbon technologies, which they say will only come about with greatly increased spending by determined governments on what has so far been an anemic commitment to research and development. A Manhattan-like Project, so to speak.
Climate Models Look Good When Predicting Climate Change – (Science Daily – April 6, 2008)
The accuracy of computer models that predict climate change over the coming decades has been the subject of debate among politicians, environmentalists and even scientists. A new study by meteorologists at the University of Utah shows that current climate models are quite accurate and can be valuable tools for those seeking solutions on reversing global warming trends. Most of these models project a global warming trend that amounts to about 7 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 100 years.
Canada Likely to Label Plastic Ingredient ‘Toxic’ – (New York Times – April 16, 2008)
The Canadian government is said to be ready to declare as toxic a chemical widely used in plastics for baby bottles, beverage and food containers as well as linings in food cans. A person with knowledge of the government’s chemical review program said the staff work to list the compound, called bisphenol-a, or B.P.A., as a toxic chemical was complete and was recently endorsed by a panel of outside scientists. B.P.A. has been shown to disrupt the hormonal systems of animals.
Why Flowers Have Lost Their Scent – (Common Dreams – April 25, 2008)
Researchers at the University of Virginia say that pollution is dramatically cutting the distance travelled by the scent of flowers. Professor Jose Fuentes, who led the study, said: “Scent molecules produced by flowers in a less polluted environment could travel for roughly 1,000 to 1,200 meters. But today they may travel only 200 to 300 meters. This makes it increasingly difficult for bees and other insects to locate the flowers.” Working on the scent given off by snapdragons, the study found that the molecules are volatile, and quickly bond with pollutants such as ozone and nitrate radicals, mainly formed from vehicle emissions. This chemically alters the molecules so that they no longer smell like flowers.
U.S. Nears the Limits of Its Water Supplies – (AlterNet – April 8, 2008)
Public water systems are failing, several states are setting severe water use restrictions, and key water sources are drying up. Orme, a small town tucked away in the mountains of southern Tennessee that has become a recent symbol of the drought in the southeast. Orme has had to literally ration its water use, by collecting water for a few hours every day — an everyday experience in most developing countries, but unusual for the U.S. This is an extreme experience from the southeast region that has been under a year long dry spell. In fact, the region’s dry spell resulted in the city of Atlanta setting severe water use restrictions and three states, Georgia, Florida and Alabama, going to court over a water allocation dispute.
March the Warmest on Record over World Land Surfaces – (Associated Press – April 17, 2008)
Planet Earth continues to run a fever. Last month was the warmest March on record over land surfaces of the world and the second warmest overall worldwide. For the United States, however, it was just an average March, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. While Asia had its greatest January snow cover this year, warm March readings caused a rapid melt and March snow cover on the continent was a record low.
Jet Stream, America’s Storm Maker, Moving Slowly Northward – (Associated Press – April 17, 2008)
America’s stormy weather maker — is creeping northward and weakening, new research shows. That potentially means less rain in the already dry South and Southwest and more storms in the North. And it could also translate into more and stronger hurricanes since the jet stream suppresses their formation. The study’s authors said they have to do more research to pinpoint specific consequences.
Researchers Warm Up to Melt’s Role in Greenland Ice Loss – (NASA – April 17, 2008)
In July 2006, researchers afloat in a dinghy on a mile-wide glacial lake in Greenland studied features of the lake and ice 40 feet below. Ten days later the entire contents of the lake emptied through a crack in the ice with a force equaling the pummeling water of Niagara Falls. The entire process only took 90 minutes. Their first-of-a-kind observations confirm the structure of the Greenland Ice Sheet plumbing, and go further to show that summertime melt indeed contributes to the speed up of ice loss. They also conclude, however, that summertime melt is not as critical a factor as other causes of ice loss.
The Rise of the Emotional Robot – (New Scientist – April 5, 2008)
The notion of humans relating to their robots almost as if they were family members or friends is more than just a curiosity. “People want their Roomba (robo-vacuum cleaner) to look unique because it has evolved into something that’s much more than a gadget,” a researcher notes. US soldiers serving in Iraq developed strong emotional attachments to Packbots and Talon robots, which dispose of bombs and locate landmines, and admitted feeling deep sadness when their robots were destroyed in explosions. Some ensured the robots were reconstructed from spare parts when they were damaged and even took them fishing, using the robot arm’s gripper to hold their rod. Figuring out just how far humans are willing to go in shifting the boundaries towards accepting robots as partners rather than mere machines will help designers decide what tasks and functions are appropriate for robots. Further complicating the matter, researchers have also shown that the degree to which someone socializes with and trusts a robot depends on their gender and nationality.
A One Step Conversion Process from Plant Cellulose into Gasoline Components – (Smart Economy – April 7, 2008)
Researchers have made a breakthrough in the development of “green gasoline,” a liquid identical to standard gasoline yet created from sustainable biomass sources like switchgrass and poplar trees.The UMass researchers rapidly heated cellulose in the presence of solid zeolite catalysts, materials that speed up reactions without sacrificing themselves in the process. They then rapidly cooled the products to create a liquid that contains many of the compounds found in gasoline. The entire process was completed in under two minutes using relatively moderate amounts of heat.
Being Human – Human/Computer Interaction in 2020
Quantum Cryptography Broken
25 Leading-edge IT Research Projects
Being Human – Human/Computer Interaction in 2020 – (Microsoft – 2008)
This is a report based on a two-day forum that brought together academics from the fields of computing, design, management science, sociology and psychology to debate, contribute to, and help formulate the agenda for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) in the next decade and beyond. Participants also came from the commercial world, including representatives from software companies, hardware manufacturers, and content providers. If there was one thing that the participants in this forum had in common, it was a recognition that any new direction for HCI would need to place human values at its core. The real HCI issues now include what might be our aspirations, our desires for self-understanding and expression, and our willingness to use imagination to create a different future.
Quantum Cryptography Broken – (KurzweilAI – April 20, 2008)
Two Swedish scientsts, Jorgen Cederlof, now of Google, and Jan-Ake Larsson of Linköping University, have found a security weakness in the quantum cryptography authentication process–and have devised a proposed solution. They point out that an eavesdropper could gain partial knowledge on the key in quantum cryptography that may have an effect on the security of the authentication in the later round.
25 Leading-edge IT Research Projects – (Network World – April 18, 2008)
While universities don’t tend to shout as loudly about their latest tech innovations as do Google, Cisco and other big vendors, their results are no less impressive in what they could mean for faster, more secure and more useful networking. Here’s a roundup, in no particular order, of some of the most amazing and colorful projects in the works.
TERRORISM, SECURITY AND THE FUTURE OF WARFARE
Six Disruptive Civil Technologies with Potential Impacts on US Interests out to 2025
Nearly 1 in 5 Troops Has Mental Problems after War Service
Researchers Fear Southern Fence Will Endanger Species Further
Six Disruptive Civil Technologies with Potential Impacts on US Interests out to 2025 – (National Intelligence Council – April, 2008)
Six civil technologies offer the potential to enhance or degrade US power over the next fifteen years according to National Intelligence Council (NIC) sponsored contractor research. These include biogerontechnology, a energy storage technology, biofuels and bio-based chemical technology, clean coal technology, service robotic technology, and information technology devoted to increased connectivity of people and things.
Nearly 1 in 5 Troops Has Mental Problems after War Service – (Associated Press – April 17, 2008)
A study from the Rand Corp. estimated that 18.5% of current and former service members contacted in a recent survey reported symptoms of depression or post-traumatic stress. Based on Pentagon data that more than 1.6 million have deployed to the two wars, the researchers calculated that about 300,000 are suffering mental health problems. 19% — or an estimated 320,000 — may have suffered head injuries, the study calculated. Those range from mild concussions to severe, penetrating head wounds. Only about half of those with mental health problems have sought treatment. Even fewer of those with head injuries have seen doctors. A précis of the study report may be accessed at http://rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG720/
Researchers Fear Southern Fence Will Endanger Species Further – (Washington Post – April 20, 2008)
The debate over the fence the United States is building along its southern border has focused largely on the project’s financial costs, feasibility and how well it will curb illegal immigration. But the price of security may be more far-reaching that we had realized. One of its most lasting impacts may well be on the animals and vegetation that make this politically fraught landscape their home. Some wildlife researchers have grown so concerned about the consequences of bisecting hundreds of miles of rugged habitat that they have talked of engaging in civil disobedience to block the fence’s construction.
Bird Flu Worries Increase in South Korea – (USAA – April 18, 2008)
South Korean agriculture officials boosted the country’s bird flu risk level to ‘orange’ this week after recent outbreaks on poultry farms. Confirmation of an outbreak in Pyeongtaek, about 43 miles from Seoul, has raised concerns that bird flu may be spreading nationwide, Yonhap News Agency said. Officials said there were 20 confirmed cases of bird flu and another 16 that are under investigation.
Nano Switch Hints at Future Chips – (BBC News – April 17, 2008)
Researchers have built the world’s smallest transistor – one atom thick and 10 atoms wide – out of a material that could one day replace silicon. The transistor, essentially an on/off switch, has been made using graphene, a two-dimensional material first discovered only four years ago. Graphene is a single layer of graphite, which is found in the humble pencil.
CONTACT AND THE EXPLORATION OF SPACE
Universal ‘Babelfish’ Could Translate Alien Tongues – (New Scientist – April 18, 2008)
If we ever make contact with intelligent aliens, we should be able to build a universal translator to communicate with them, according to a linguist and anthropologist in the US. Such a “babelfish”, which gets its name from the translating fish in Douglas Adams’s book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, would require a much more advanced understanding of language than we currently have. But a first step would be recognizing that all languages must have a universal structure, according to Terrence Deacon of the UC Berkeley. Testing that theory might be tough because we would have to make contact with aliens advanced enough to engage in abstract thinking and the use of linguistic symbols. But Denise Herzing of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, US, points out that we might be able to test it by studying dolphins.
Five Delectable Examples of “Stein’s Law” – (FXStreet – April 15, 2008)
The most basic statement of Stein’s Law says: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop”. More specifically, when a trend cannot go on, it always stops – even when nothing is done about it. This yardstick of common sense is particularly apposite today, as we see in the following five examples of economic trends whose time has come and gone. For example: excess leverage. More note should be taken of the distinctive role of excess leverage not only as the principal culprit, but perhaps the only variable than can and should be regulated by government- as it once was.
What the World Eats
Riots, Instability Spread as Food Prices Skyrocket
A Drought in Australia, a Global Shortage of Rice
Japan’s Hunger Becomes Dire Warning for Other Nations
Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World
The Incredible Shrinking City
Arab World Sees U.S. in Poor Light, Poll Shows
What the World Eats – (Time Magazine – no date)
This series of photos by Peter Menzel from the book “Hungry Planet” shows you what’s on family dinner tables in fifteen different homes around the globe, with a per person cost in the local currency and its dollar equivalent. However, due to currency conversion issues, be a little careful about interpreting the cost of food in different countries; the average cost of food for a week is not given as a percentage of average weekly earnings.
Riots, Instability Spread as Food Prices Skyrocket – (CNN – April 14, 2008)
Riots from Haiti to Bangladesh to Egypt over the soaring costs of basic foods have brought the issue to a boiling point and catapulted it to the forefront of the world’s attention. “This is the world’s big story,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “In just two months,” Zoellick said in his speech, “rice prices have skyrocketed to near historical levels, rising by around 75% globally and more in some markets, with more likely to come. In Bangladesh, a 2-kilogram bag of rice … now consumes about half of the daily income of a poor family.” The price of wheat has jumped 120% in the past year, he said – meaning that the price of a loaf of bread has more than doubled in places where the poor spend as much as 75% of their income on food.
A Drought in Australia, a Global Shortage of Rice – (New York Times – April 17, 2008)
In Deniliquin, Australia, the largest rice mill in the Southern Hemisphere once processed enough grain to meet the needs of 20 million people around the world. But six long years of drought have taken a toll, reducing Australia’s rice crop by 98% and leading to the mothballing of the mill last December. Ten thousand miles separate the mill’s hushed rows of oversized silos and sheds — beige, gray and now empty — from the riotous streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but a widening global crisis unites them. The collapse of Australia’s rice production is one of several factors contributing to a doubling of rice prices in the last three months — increases that have led the world’s largest exporters to restrict exports severely, spurred panicked hoarding in Hong Kong and the Philippines, and set off violent protests in countries including Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Italy, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, the Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Yemen.
Japan’s Hunger Becomes Dire Warning for Other Nations – (The Age – April 21, 2008)
Japan’s acute butter shortage, which has confounded bakeries, restaurants and now families across the country, is the latest unforeseen result of the global agricultural commodities crisis. A sharp increase in the cost of imported cattle feed and a decline in milk imports, both of which are typically provided in large part by Australia, have prevented dairy farmers from keeping pace with demand. While soaring food prices have triggered rioting among the starving millions of the third world, in wealthy Japan they have forced a pampered population to contemplate the shocking possibility of a long-term — perhaps permanent — reduction in the quality and quantity of its food.
Food Rationing Confronts Breadbasket of the World – (The Sun – April 21, 2008)
Many parts of America, long considered the breadbasket of the world, are now confronting a once unthinkable phenomenon: food rationing. Major retailers in New York, in areas of New England, and on the West Coast are limiting purchases of flour, rice, and cooking oil as demand outstrips supply. There are anecdotal reports that some consumers are hoarding grain stocks.
The Incredible Shrinking City – (CNN – April 24, 2008)
Youngstown, Ohio, has seen its population shrink by more than half over the past 40 years, leaving behind huge swaths of empty homes, streets and neighborhoods. Now, in a radical move, the city is bulldozing abandoned buildings, tearing up blighted streets and converting entire blocks into open green spaces. More than 1,000 structures have been demolished so far. City officials are also monitoring thinly-populated blocks. When only one or two occupied homes remain, the city offers incentives – up to $50,000 in grants – for those home owners to move, so that the entire area can be razed.
Arab World Sees U.S. in Poor Light, Poll Shows – (Reuters – April 14, 2008)
Eight out of 10 Arabs have an unfavorable view of the United States and only six percent believe the U.S. troop build-up in Iraq in the last year has worked, according to a poll of six Arab countries. The poll by the University of Maryland and Zogby International, also found most Arabs did not see U.S. foe Iran as a threat and they sympathized more with Hamas in the Palestinian Territories than U.S.-backed Fatah. “There is a growing mistrust and lack of confidence in the United States,” said Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland professor in charge of the annual poll.
JUST FOR FUN
Modern Art Inspires Bank Employees, Says Head Art Buyer – (Deutsche Welle World – April, 17, 2008)
With over 53,000 individual pieces, Deutsche Bank has amassed one of the largest corporate art collections in the world. Its “Art at Work” initiative was started in 1979. Friedhelm Huette, global head of Deutsche Bank Art, speaks about why it’s important to hang modern art on office walls. He notes, “We believe that collecting and displaying contemporary work is particularly valuable in a company like ours that deals with people. We have to respond to different situations and recognize and develop new ideas. We believe that contemporary art provides a particular opportunity to participate in the present – also through the foresight and seismology of the artists and contemporary art. Thoughts arise over future developments.”
A FINAL QUOTE…
If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it. – Lyndon B. Johnson
A special thanks to: Allan Balliett, Tom Burgin, Bernard Calil, Ken Dabkowski, Neil Freer, Ursula Freer, KurzweilAI, Richard A. Lippin, Sebastian McCallister, Diane C. Petersen, John C..Petersen, the Schwartzreport, Joel Snell, Gary Sycalik, and Steve Ujvarosy, our contributors to this issue.
If you see something we should know about, do send it along – thanks.
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