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Wormfood archive

News > global news letter repository

The wormfood newsletter covers important news from around the globe. It's been curated by Except since 2010. This page documents the wormfood newsletter from before our transition to our new website.

Read our current wormfood newsletters here.

 

Wormfood News Digest - May 2, 2012  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

In this edition of the Wormfood News Digest, we track the development of many important "game-changing" news stories, including the foundation of an asteroid-mining company, China's decision to construct two mega-dams, Google's plan for self-driving cars, and so much more...

 

Global News

 

The iconic white-capped volcano known as Popocatepetl, located less than a two-hour drive from Mexico City, awoke in April after more than a decade of silence. Spurting lava and steam for kilometres, the volcano threatens to dump ash on the more than 25 million people that live within a 100km radius.

 

Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to win $500 billion in investment for Russian offshore field development over 30 years to tap the country's full energy potential with the help of foreign expertise. There will also be tax breaks and other incentives.

 

 

Business & Economy

 

A group of US billionaires - including director James Cameron and the co-founders of internet search company Google - have announced plans to mine asteroids in space for resources such as ice, fuel and precious minerals.

 

If the damages related to climate change mount in the coming decades, insurance companies may face the prospect of paying larger disaster claims and being dragged into global warming lawsuits. But many firms, as this report shows, have barely begun to confront the risks.

 

Spain has joined seven other euro-zone nations in recession, according to datareleased Monday, providing new evidence that austerity policies are failing to spark confidence in the region's economies ahead of a week of expected anti-austerity protests and a string of important national elections.

 

Energy & Environment

 

The government of China is planning to construct two hydro dams, each of which will be twice as large the Three Gorges dam; currently the largest power station, in terms of installed capacity.

 

In its quest to find new sources of energy, China is increasingly looking to its western provinces. But the nation’s push to develop fossil fuel and alternative sources has so far ignored a basic fact — western China simply lacks the water resources needed to support major new energy development.

 

A new study published in the journal Science suggests that the cycle of evaporation and rainfall over the world’s oceans has accelerated 4 percent in the last half-century as a result of global warming, a development that could portend more extreme weather in the decades to come.

   

Science, Technology, & Design

 

The most transparent, lightweight and flexible material ever for conducting electricity has been invented by a team from the University of Exeter. Due to these multi-dimensional improvements, this finding could revolutionize the electronics industry.

 

Search engine giant Google Inc. thinks self-driving cars can be on U.S. roads in the next few years and is in talks with automakers to roll out the technology. Google is already talking with auto-makers, insurance companies, and suppliers. See the video of one of these cars in action!

 

The aim of the new "Wind Challenger Project" is to substantially reduce fuel consumption by large merchant vessels. Next generation cargo ship with 50m high sails uses 30% less fuel

   

Urban Environment

 

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. recently announced the successful development of the world's first technology to detect the potential for traffic congestion and determine whether the driving pattern of the vehicle is likely to create traffic jams.

 

To eliminate landfills and encourage local agriculture, a new program lets residents exchange their recyclable trash in exchange for credits with nearby farms.

 

 

Unexpected and Intriguing

 

Why are some people more religious than others? Answers to this question often focus on the role of culture or upbringing. While these influences are important, new research suggests that whether we believe may also have to do with how much we rely onintuition versus analytical thinking.

 

A new report shows that psychedelic drugs may work by dialing down brain activity in control centers, contrary to popular belief that drugs stimulate and speed up brain activity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl. Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

 

 

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - March 15, 2012  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

In this edition, we include many notable science and technology news updates such as Google's augmented reality project, new farming systems for significant water reduction, and new software that intelligently supplies power to electric vehicles. In addition to this, we keep you updated on key global, economic, and environmental news developments.

 

Global News

 

A 6.5-magnitude earthquake has struck near the Chilean capital, causing hundreds of people to flee from buildings in Santiago in panic.

Earlier this week, an offshore earthquake measured at 7.0-magnitude earthquake has shaken Papua New Guinea, according to the US Geological Survey.

 

North Korea accused the U.S. of hostility on Tuesday for suspending an agreement to provide food aid following Pyongyang’s widely criticized rocket launch, and warned ofretaliatory measures in response.

 

 

Business & Economy

 

At the recent TEDMED conference, leaders in health-care infrastructure compiled a very interesting list of top problems that will be facing doctors, health care systems, pharma, and biotech organisations in the next century.

 

A new study is putting a number on the value of the world’s oceans. The report, which was presented at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London, estimates that if human impacts on the ocean continue unabated, the cost to the world’s economy will be $428 billion per year by 2050, and $1.979 trillion per year by 2100.

 

Energy & Environment

 

U.S. consumers want to buy environmentally friendly products, but so far they haven’t been doing that on a large scale. In the midst of the economic crisis, a host ofcompanies and nonprofits are trying to use new technology — from smartphones to social networking — to make it easier for buyers to make the green choice.

 

The UK has re-launched a £1 billion ($1.6 billion) competition to promote the large-scale adoption of carbon-capture technology, an investment that government officials hope will make the UK a global leader in the emerging low-carbon energy sector.

 

As globalized supply chains make the origins of the food you eat so murky, companies are investing in technology to track the exact places its ingredients were grown by looking at their molecules.

   

Science, Technology, & Design

 

Google has started working on "Project Glass" - an augmented reality interface that "helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment" See the videohere.

 

With water efficiency in mind, Dubai-based Agricel recently launched a farming system that uses a film-like material instead of soil and allows farmers to use 90 percent less water.

 

NASA has developed a system capable of growing large amounts of algae for biofuel production within a network of floating plastic bags, an innovation its developers say could ultimately produce a new fuel source.

   

Urban Environment

 

No more guessing about what the impact of improvements to cities might be. Now urban planners have software to fully visualize what will happen when projects become reality.

 

Can power companies handle every car owner plugging in at the same time?Probably not, but new software will let the company figure out which cars need charging most so that everyone is powered up by morning.

 

 

Unexpected and Intriguing

 

Fiddle with a goat’s genes a little and all of a sudden its milk has some impressive properties. One lab in Texas has a herd of a goats that can cure malaria a lot cheaper than the drugs big pharma pumps out.

 

Will it be just like a walk through an Ikea store? Will there be meatballs? Finally, details emerge from the furniture company’s urban planning scheme.

 

Watch this time-lapsed video of one of the country’s largest and least sustainable cities as it inexorably expands and sucks up the resources around it.

 

 

 

 

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl. Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

 

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - April 3, 2012  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

This edition of the Wormfood News Digest covers important updates on the Syrian conflict, the first published World Happiness Report, a full range of scientific advancements, and several very interesting and highly unusual news stories. Enjoy!

 

Global News

 

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is preparing to unveil a missile capable of striking mainland U.S., according to government sources in neighbouring South Korea.

The US has recently suspended food aid to North Korea because Pyongyang has broken its promise to refrain from missile launches, and japan has promised to deploy guided-missile destroyers to shoot down a North Korean rocket if it falls toward Japanese territory

 

Syria has pledged to withdraw all military units from towns by April 10 to pave the way for a ceasefire with rebels two days later, though Western envoys were skeptical on Monday about Damascus’ intent to halt its year-long assault on opponents.

The United States says the U.N. Security Council must respond urgently and seriously if Syria fails to keep its pledge to halt offensive military operations by April 10.

 

 

Business & Economy

 

A surge in gas and oil drilling in the U.S. is helping drive the economic recoveryand is enhancing energy security. But as the situation in Ohio shows, cheaper energy prices and the focus on fossil fuels has been bad news for the renewable energy industry.

 

The first ever World Happiness Report, published by Columbia University's Earth Institute, reflects a new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness in addition to existing economic indicators for prosperity.

 

Energy & Environment

 

A new study finds that even low doses of hormone-disrupting chemicals — used in everything from plastics to pesticides – can have serious effects on human health. These findings, the researchers say, point to the need for basic changes in how chemical safety testing is conducted.

 

For decades, farm bills in the U.S. Congress have supported large-scale agriculture. But with the 2012 Farm Bill now up for debate, advocates say seismic shifts in the way the nation views food production may lead to new policies that tilt more towardlocal, sustainable agriculture.

 

The Planet under Pressure Conference has ended with 6 key declarations focusing on the increasing need for science to take a more central role in shaping and influencing policy discussions ahead of Rio+20.

   

Science, Technology, & Design

 

In a recent paper, researchers from MIT reported successful tests in mice with a new drug that holds the promise of being a cure to all viruses. The drug, "DRACO" works as a broad-spectrum antiviral, killing virus-hijacked cells by targeting double-stranded RNA produced in the viral replication process.

 

A replacement limb that moves, feels and responds just like flesh and blood. It’s the holy grail of prosthetics research. The Pentagon’s invested millions to make it happen. But now a team of scientists believe they’ve overcome that massive barrier.

 

UCLA Researchers have exploited a recently-discovered mammalian system for the mitochondrial import of nuclear-encoded RNA to import, express, and demonstrate functional protein translation from engineered mRNA and tRNA constructs. In plain English - this is a breakthrough for extending life in a big way!

   

Urban Environment

 

A Dutch company says it can add infrastructure to expanding coastal cities with adjustable floating pieces that could change with different municipal needs. Bring your life jackets!

 

U.S. scientists have developed a fuel cell capable of converting 13 percent of the energy found in sewage into electricity, a process that its developers say could also more efficiently treat municipal wastewater.

 

If the ET3 company can get its proposed maglev tube system off the ground, science fiction could become reality, with travel times between New York and Beijing being around 2 hours.

 

 

Unexpected and Intriguing

 

A New Jersey middle school has banned hugging to prevent excessive physical contact between students.

 

Doctors in the US say new study involving weight-loss surgery has shown dramaticresults.

 

What would a city look like if the ocean rose 200 feet? Not like much of a city at all. Check out these maps of the island community that S.F. could be in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl. Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

 

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - March 15, 2012  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

In this edition of the Wormfood News Digest, we bring you a number of exciting news updates from around the world, including the conviction of warlord Thomas Lubanga, two important developments in the agricultural sector, a breakthrough in stem cell research, and much more!

 

Global News

 

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday warned Iran that the window for diplomacy to solve a nuclear showdown was "shrinking," stiffening his rhetoric ahead of looming new talks on the issue.

 

In the same week as the viral "KONY 2012" video, the ICC made a critical and historic ruling with the conviction of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. The ruling firmly establishes as an international crime the use of children in war — a practice that still enslaves tens of thousands of the young.

 

 

Business & Economy

 

India Plans To Create 12 Times The Number Of Colleges As The U.S. By 2020. Thanks to progressive polices and globalization, India has reduced poverty and helped its middle class thrive. But now, the country faces a seemingly insurmountable task: educate a generation of workers over the next decade to compete in a global workforce.

 

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in South Africa as a trade union federation called a nationwide strike to demonstrate for improved worker rights. The country's system of casual labour, known as "labour broking" in which middlemen act between employers and workers, amounts to "modern day slavery".

 

Energy & Environment

 

Essentient, a new start up in the US is testing a system that maximizes nutritional production on minimal arable land. Their "nutriculture" technique combines protein science, a molecular understanding of nutrition, and low-cost, sustainable production systems, all in an attempt to improve agriculture-based systems

 

A team of Australian scientists involving the University of Adelaide has bred salt tolerance into a variety of durum wheat that shows improved grain yield by 25% on salty soils.

 

Twin Creeks Technologies—a startup has developed a way to make thin wafers of crystalline silicon that it says could cut the cost of making first generation silicon solar cells in half.

   

Science, Technology, & Design

 

Teenager makes important discovery in unlocking potential pathways for breast cancer treatment, Wins 2012 Intel Science Talent Search and $100,000.

 

Researchers at the UCLA stem cell center and the departments of chemistry and biochemistry and pathology and laboratory medicine have identified, for the first time, a generic way to correct mutations in human mitochondrial DNA by targeting corrective RNAs, a finding with implications for treating a host of mitochondrial diseases.

 

A new technique called Transcranial Direct Stimulation is a controversial way of boosting learning capability, and while bioethicists are debating whether or not it's ethical to use it to enhance learning in children, hobbyists have figured out how to try it out athome.

   

Urban Environment

 

The winner of a biomimicry design challenge solves the problem of keeping houses cool in the desert by looking to the animal that already has a house that’s been working perfectly for millennia.

 

The era of truly autonomous automobiles might be right around the corner. And in anticipation, Peter Stone, a professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, has designed a new kind of traffic intersection for them.

 

According to a recent report, by 2050, there is a 1 in 6 chance a storm could force water above the 4 foot level in Southern Florida. That would mean that 3.7 millionAmericans living in urban areas would be under water.

 

 

Unexpected and Intriguing

 

Leveraging the power of the social network, a new startup wants to eliminate the blood shortages that plague the developing world by connecting people directly to others with their same blood type.

 

Around the World Without a Drop Of Gasoline – Solar-Powered Catamaran Nears End Of More Than Two Years At Sea

 

For all men: a more healthful diet will not only help you get fitter, but, new research indicates, it might also increase the odds that your sperm are in better shape, too.:

 

 

 

 

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl. Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

 

 

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - March 6, 2012  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

In this edition of the Wormfood News Digest, we bring you a number of exciting news updates from around the world, including the result of the Russian Presidential election, the discovery of our oldest ancestor, new Chinese designs for super-busses, and a promising experiment for carbon sequestration.

 

 

Global News

 

Russia's recent presidential elections were "clearly skewed" in favour of Vladimir Putin and "lacked fairness", international election monitors have reported as Putin celebrated returning to the Kremlin for a third term.

 

The U.S.-North Korea announcement of an agreement to freeze North Korea's nuclear activities in exchange for food aid was seen in Washington as a promising first step toward discussing nuclear disarmament. North Korea's military, meanwhile, repeated threats of a "merciless sacred war" against South Korea

 

Israel's prime minister, has stated his country's right to defend itself against the possible threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and said "all options on table and containment arenot an option" after talks on Iran with Barack Obama this week.

   

Business & Economy

 

Resource Efficiency and a Circular Economy could save up to 3.7 trillion. Resource productivity improvements, using existing technology, could satisfy nearly 30 percent of demand in 2030. Just 15 areas, from more energy-efficient buildings to improved irrigation, could deliver 75 percent of the potential for higher resource productivity.

 

Since 2010, Chinese companies have invested more than $17 billion into oil and gas deals in the U.S. and Canada, giving their energy-thirsty nation a long-coveted foothold in a region known for innovative new drilling techniques.

 

Energy & Environment

 

Recent satellite data reveals that the scope of China's pollution problem issignificantly worse than originally thought.

 

It is a pattern seen in various parts of the world — children being sickened from exposure to lead from mining activities. But the scale of the problem in Nigeria’s gold-mining region of Zamfara is unprecedented: More than 400 children have died and thousands more have been severely poisoned by exposure to lead dust.

 

The long-held contention that rural forest communities are the prime culprits in tropical forest destruction is increasingly being discredited, as evidence mounts that the best way to protect rainforests is to involve local residents in sustainable management.

   

Science, Technology, & Design

 

British and Canadian researchers have confirmed that a 505 million-year-old creature is the most primitive known vertebrate - and therefore the ancestor of us all.

 

Scientists have observed a cloud of dark matter with characteristics that challenge fundamental physics. The cloud has a bit of stickiness to it that wasn't expected, and that stickiness is vital to understanding how galaxies like our own Milky Way come together.

 

A thin layer of Oxygen has been discovered on one of Saturn's moons, Dione. The discovery is important because it suggests there is a process at work around the solar system's gas giants. It seems that highly charged particles from the planets' powerful radiation belts split the water in the ice into hydrogen and oxygen.

   

Urban Environment

 

In order to wean people off of cars, the Chinese cities of Beijing and Hangzhou are taking delivery of mega-busses that are designed to maximize passenger capacity, minimize traffic interference, and dramatically reduce cost.

 

Set to be the largest public food forest in the country, Seattle's new Beacond Food Forest will feature chestnuts, walnuts, apple and mulberry trees, berry shrubs, vegetables, edible arboretums, community garden plots, and tree patches (garden plots containing trees).

 

In a new experiment, Iceland is looking to replace its smokestacks with well injectors to permanently sequester its carbon dioxide emissions. Researchers are now pumping CO2 underground in a process that will convert the greenhouse gas into rock. This technique may be a model for other power plants and factories to control their emissions, creating a climate change solution literally set in stone.

 

 

Unexpected and Intriguing

 

WikiCells is a new way to keep your food fresh and stop plastic waste: Make food packaging edible--and even part of the seasoning of the food.

 

A collection of 13 new studies about Titan show previously undetected craters and river deltas, and provide extremely highly detaield maps of its surface and interior.

 

A new report is out that monitors antibiotic resistance in animals, retail meat and people, and the news is not good. The report notes a number of instances where either the percentage of bacteria that are antibiotic resistant, or the complexity of the resistance, is rising.

 

 

 

 

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl. Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - February 15, 2012  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

In this edition, we cover updates on the Syrian crisis, new austerity legislation in Greece, tech solutions for tackling e-waste, a variety of strategies for a changing urban environment, and more...

 

Global News

  Syrian troops have shelled the central city of Homs for a 10th day, opposition activists say, amid suggestions by the UN's human rights chief that the UN Security Council's failure to pass a resolution condemning Syria has encouraged the government to intensify its attacks on civilians.

 

Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari has been deported from Malaysia back to Saudi Arabia. The 23-year-old columnist had sparked outrage following controversial Twitter comments on the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed which were seen to be blasphemous. Blasphemy is punishable by death in Iran.
  The Obama administration has announced it would hold its first talks with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program since the death of the country's previous leader, Kim Jong-il, in December. The talks, to be held in Beijing on February 23, will be the third since the middle of last year to explore the possibility of resuming negotiations to get North Korea to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.
   

Business & Economy

  Greece's parliament has approved the government's 2012 budget intended to shrink the country's debt mountain with tax rises and spending cuts, hours after protesters against further austerity measures clashed with police outside parliament.
  China is ready to increase its participation in efforts to resolved the eurozone's debt crisis, but will stop short of committing to buying bailout bonds, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has told European leaders at summit talks in Beijing.
  Obama called for new taxes on the wealthy and short-term spending measures in his $3.8 trillion budget. Republicans dismissed the plan as a political document.
 

Energy & Environment

  Researchers have found that empowering women to reduce unplanned pregnancies is one of the most cost-effective ways to combat greenhouse pollution, as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson discussed at the Durban climate conference last December
  People often talk about how computers have paved the way for a "paperless office," but a new innovation in making plastics means that turning our discarded paper into electronics might be the best way to get rid of all that problematic e-waste
  Barack Obama’s 2013 Budget Revives 1603 Solar Tax Credit, Eliminates $4B in Fossil Fuel Subsidies
   

Science, Technology, & Design

  The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration is looking into setting up a base near the moon to further space exploration. Essentially, a spacecraft in a halo orbit goes around the moon.
  Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are an essential component of modern shopping, logistics, warehouse, and stock control for toll roads, casino chips and much more. Researchers in France have developed a way to deposit a thin aluminum RFID tag on to paper that not only reduces the amount of metal needed for the tag, and so the cost, but could open up RFID tagging to many more systems.
  Biotech crops reached 160 million hectares, helping double food production and keeping food affordable for the poor, as the global population reached a historical milestone of 7 billion on 31 October 2011.
   

Urban Environment

  America is changing how it works. As more people start their own entrepreneurial businesses out of their bedrooms, is it time to rethink how we divide work and living? This new home design makes space for both.
  Global warming will make New York spectacularly vulnerable to flooding. U Penn students think New York can protect itself with an intelligent, lace-like membrane would be draped over building bases in low-lying parts of the city, guarding precious infrastructure from incoming floods.
  A new study from MIT looks at Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, finds that fleet owners could plug in their trucks when not in use and sell electricity back to the power grid. Depending on when trucks get plugged in, fleets could earn between $900 and $1400 per vehicle in electricity sales.
 

 

Unexpected and Intriguing

  The NASA Biocapsule—made of carbon nanotubes—will be able to "diagnose" and instantly treat an astronaut without him or her even knowing there's something amiss. Dr. David Loftus is the man who invented the NASA Biocapsule and has been awarded a patent for it. Loftus said we could be using Biocapsule on Earth within 10 to 15 years
  The US has strict measures for keeping track of convicted sex offenders once they've served their time. But unfortunately there's one large organization that's managed to circumvent these rules and seems to be fine with some 200 suspected child molesters living unchecked and within range of other potential victims: it's the Catholic Church, no surprise.
  According to a recent study, drinking vodka improves word associationand verbal creativity. Somebody pass the bottle.
 

 

 

 

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

 

 

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - February 1, 2012  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

In this edition, we cover many exciting global developments over the past few weeks, including the crackdown on internet piracy and the spread of censorship online, the results of the Egyptian election, an update on the euro debt crisis, advice for joggers, and so much more...

 

Global News

 

European Union governments have released new economic sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme last week, which include plans to phase in an oil embargo.

The sanctions follow financial punishments signed into law by the United States on December 31 last year and will mainly target the oil sector, which accounts for some 90 per cent of Iranian exports to the European Union

 

Two Islamist parties won about 70% of the seats in the Egyptian election for the lower house of parliament, according to electoral commission figures released last Saturday.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won 235 seats and the conservative Al Nour party gained 121 seats in the People's Assembly, according to final results.

 

A series of bombings and attacks claimed by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram has left at least 120 dead and many more injured in northern Nigeria's largest city, witnesses and the Red Cross have said.

 

Turkey has threatened retaliatory measures against France following a French senate vote approving a bill that would outlaw denial that the mass killings of Armenians in 1915 constituted genocide.

 

 

Business & Economy

 

President Barack Obama offered Americans a populist economic vision in his State of the Union address last Tuesday, seeking to draw a contrast with his eventual Republican rival and demonstrating the widening policy gulf between the two political parties.

 

The dramatic, unexpected shutdown of Megaupload last week - which had 180 million registered users and more than 50 million daily visitors - might have a chilling effect on the growing online storage industry, which some people place in the "cloud computing" business.

 

Two themes seem set to dominate this year's gathering of the World Economic Forum - Gloom over Europe, and Asia's continued rise. The general gloom about Europe should be tempered by the more positive mood in emerging economies—even if growth has slowed slightly from recent years.

 

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos headed for Brussels last Sunday to negotiate a new bailout for his country after weekend talks with private creditors over a planned debt restructuring neared a deal, and following a renewed commitment by political leaders in Athens to pursue fresh reforms.

 

Energy & Environment

 

The US state department has formally recommended the rejection of a controversial crude oil pipeline. Barack Obama said he was disappointed that the deadline set by Republicans in Congress had caused the state department to reject the project before afull study could be undertaken.

 

A genetically modified strain of common gut bacteria may lead to a new technology for making biofuels that does not compete with food crops for arable acreage

 

Can The World’s Volcanoes Be Used As Power Plants? This summer, scientists will begin pumping water into the sides of a dormant volcano in Oregon at pressures great enough to cause small earthquakes. It’s not the start of an evil plot--it may be a genius way to make geothermal energy viable.

 

"Confessions of a recovering environmentalist" is a thought provoking essay on thedangers of the sustainability movement.

Science, Technology, & Design

 

If you’re a runner, start striking with your forefoot. And wear those goofy minimalist shoes while you’re at it. Your body will thank you.

 

Kim Dotcom, the founder of the file-sharing website Megaupload, insists he is innocent after police raided his mansion last Friday and removed him from a safe roomwhere they say he barricaded himself.

  In a very significant move which has the potential to impinge upon privacy rights, from March 1, 60 Google products will be consolidated into one single database.
 

Twitter came out with some plans to allow country-specific censorship of tweets that might break local laws. Twitter, since its launch in 2006, has been a central instrument of communication and organisation for protestors and activists around the world. The current plan has made triggered much uproar and global outrage.

   

Urban Environment

 

One of the most crowded and polluted cities on the planet, Dhaka might not seem like a place for a massive new clean development. And yet, Green Leaf--a new “sustainable garden city”--is currently under construction there.

 

Sweden is planning on connecting two cities with a major artery that’s for bikes only. This superhighway is wide, spans a long distance, and is made with the cyclingcommuter in mind, not just the recreational weekend biker.

 

A Seattle-based think tank, released a study this week showing that, in the think tank’s words, "the greenest building is the one that’s already built, in almost every case." It’s something that intuitively makes sense, but up until now, the evidence hasn’t been quantified quite to this extent.

 

Whether you are looking to eat out or eat in, Real Time Farms allows you to see your food, learn how it was grown and visualize the journey it took to reach your table!

 

 

Unexpected and Intriguing

 

It started peacefully enough: A midday rally at City Hall and a march. But as the day wore on, Oakland was hit by the most turbulent protests in weeks as Occupy demonstrators clashed repeatedly with police, leaving more than 400 people arrested

 

Over the last few weeks, GOP Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has been repeatedly saying he wants to send Americans past our lower Earth orbit prison, to apermanent settlement on the Moon "by the end of my second term".

 

A Montreal couple and their son have been convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of four family members in a case the judge called "despicable," "heinous," and stemming from "a completely twisted concept of honour."

 

 

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

 

Wormfood News Digest - January 15, 2012  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

The commencement of the new year has already seen a number of important developments, forecasts, and strategies on how to move civilization forward in 2012.

In this edition, we provide you with an update on the Middle-East, recent economic and political movements, exciting technological achievements, and a variety of other stories from around the world.

 

Global News

 

Libya's new leaders have been given more time to answer questions about Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam. Saif al-Islam has been held captive since November, without much access to the outside world. The International Criminal Court (ICC) wants to know how he is being treated and if he should stand trial in the Hague.

 

In a blistering attack on those who criticize his security forces’ deadly crackdown on dissent, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad laid all the blame on “a conspiracy of outsiders” for the prolonged unrest in his country. The UN chief demands Assad to 'stop the killing'

 

A series of car and roadside bombs strike Ramadi, west of Baghdad, in an alleged attempt to free al-Qaeda prisoners.

 

As tensions continue to grow between ultra-Orthodox Jews and the Israeli state, historian Yehuda Bauer discusses Jewish identity and extremism in a region where there are as many versions of history as there are people telling them.

 

 

Energy & Environment

 

As climate change alters the temperatures of reptile habitats around the globe, tests of one lizard species suggests warmer nests could make some reptiles smarter.

 

More than a billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. The best way to bring it to them — while reducing greenhouse gas emissions — is to launch a global initiative to provide solar panels and other forms of distributed renewable power to poor villages and neighborhoods.

 

The Japanese government is launching a large-scale cleanup of the fields, forests, and villages contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. But some experts caution that an overly aggressive remediation program could create a host of other environmental problems.

 

Business & Economy

 

According to the Economist, with a little less ineptness the world economy could muddle through. There is no excuse for the lack of clarity around the euro zone’s future, nor for America’s fiscal paralysis. Europeans do not need to compound the peripheral economies’ problems with even deeper austerity. A more calibrated approach with more financing and more structural reforms makes far more sense.

 

Obama has unveiled a new trajectory for the US military: one that refocuses the armed forces on threats in Asia and the Pacific region, continues a strong presence in the Middle East but makes clear that American ground forces will no longer be large enough to conduct prolonged, large-scale counterinsurgencycampaigns like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

Saturday marked a major victory for opponents of proposed anti-piracy legislation as the White House stated that it will not support SOPA and PIPA. Meanwhile, Dutch and German governments have jumped ahead of the proposed SOPA bill by blocking whole websites.

 

 

Science, Technology, & Design

 

A total of 577,190 deaths from cancer are projected to occur in the U.S. in 2012. Between 1990/1991 and 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, overall death rates decreased by about 23% in men and 15% in women. This translates to more than 1 million deaths from cancer that were avoided.

 

Researchers from the NUS Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative(NUSNNI) have developed the world's first energy-storage membrane. It is claimed to hold 20 times the charge of a traditional lithium ion battery and to be ten times cheaper. How fast can this technology with superior charasteristics be scaled up to large scale commercialization ?

 

EOS Energy Storage is developing a high-energy rechargeable zinc-air battery for use in the grid. It’s expected to store three times the energy of lithium-ion batteries for half the cost. Initial manufacturing is expected next year with megawatt-scale systems delivery is anticipated for 2013.

   

Urban Environment

 

Super-fast, beautifully-designed trains are the all the rage again in China, but safety, pricing, and technology concerns now need to be bumped to country's rail priority list to make it work.

 

Davy Smith Architects transformed an oddly shaped triangular lot into a modern affordable housing complex lined with Europe’s tallest living wall!

 

Bere Architects’ recently constructed London home has four roof gardens, forty trees, ponds, and meadows, among a host of other technologies to maximize its efficiency and ecosystem impact.

 

 

Unexpected and Intriguing

 

What happens if you feed a transparent image to Google Image Search and ask it to find similar images - then taking the top result and feeding it back into the similarity algorithm, 2951 times? Here is a video of just that, which is a wonderful look at an evolutionary process.

 

A luxury hotel built on a former aircraft carrier in North China's Tianjin municipality will hold its grand opening at the end of January, 2012.

 

A London-based designer has reused discarded leather belts for a beautiful flooring solution, reworked into 12- and 18-inch square tiles. Each belt is hand selected to ensure a high grade of leather and then the belts are stripped of their metals, hand cleaned with chemical free substances and prepared for use.

 

 

 

 

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - December 31, 2011  
 


Happy New Year fellow Digesters,

This year saw the rise of a new country, the fall of long-time leaders, and numerous tragedies and triumphs in between. In addition to covering the latest developments around the world, we cover many of the top stories of 2011 from here.

 

Global News
 

In global news, North Korea is under new leadership, Syrian violence continues despite international pressure, and the Jamaican opposition party has reclaimed leadership in their recent general elections.

 

Kim Jong Un, the new Supreme Leader of North Korea has warned South Korea and"other foolish politicians around the world" should not expect it to change its policies, a day after the reclusive state finished the mourning period for its late leader Kim Jong-il.

 

The presence of Arab League monitors in Syria has re-energized the anti-government protest movement, with tens of thousands turning out over the past three days in cities and neighbourhoods where the observers are expected to visit. The huge rallies have been met by lethal gunfire from security forces apparently worried about multiple mass sit-ins modeled after Cairo's Tahrir Square.

 

Jamaican opposition leader Portia Simpson Miller has reclaimed leadership of the country in a dramatic political comeback. The ruling Labour party conceded defeat on Thursday after winning just 22 of the 63 parliamentary seats at stake in the general election.

 

 

Energy & Environment
 

Top stories in the past few weeks include China's plan to use pollution-free fuel for its future rockets, research points to the impact of climate shifts on mass extinction.

 

In a white paper that described China space programme’s five-year plan, a China National Space Administration (CNSA) pronounced a Long March-5 rockets “will use non-toxic and pollution-free propellant”. This would catch up to Russian and American rockets that have been using non-toxic fuel for a few decades.

 

Warming temperatures associated with climate change are already affecting vineyards from France to Chile, often in beneficial ways. But as the world continues to warm, some traditional winemaking regions are scrambling to adapt, while other areas see themselves as new wine frontiers.

 

Paleo research shows that the five true mass extinction events in Earth´s history can all be linked to large climatic shifts, mostly as a consequence of rare geological events, like the breakup or collision of continents.

 
Business & Economy
 

In recent financial news, the euro continues its steady decline in value, while Facebook and Google are growing enormously.

 

The euro hit a 15-month low against the dollar. While the wholesale crash of the common currency that some have predicted hasn't arrived, many are calling for furtherdeclines early in 2012.

 

Google Inc. is adding 625,000 new users a day to the Google+ social-networking service, which may total 400 million members by the end of next year, according to independent analysis of its growth.

 

In a victory for refiners and ethanol producers, a federal judge halted enforcement of California's low-carbon fuel rules, saying they discriminated against crude oil and ethanol imported into the state.

 

As they gear up for their initial public offering, Facebook executives have held a new round of meetings, where hundreds of millions of dollars in potential fees and bragging rights on the line. Facebook's stock sale could be as big as $10 billion, valuing the company at $100 billion or more.

 

 

Science, Technology, & Design
 

In science news, a new design for a flying wind farm takes flight, an energy-absorbing wheel is tested, and a book has been puclished predicting the biggest scientific advances in the next decade.

 

The Institute for the Future has published "A Multiverse of Exploration - The Future of Science 2021" which looks at some of the edgiest science research being conducted and developed in the next decade.

 

The Energy Return Wheel is another concept of a non-pneumatic tire. As its name implies, the ERW spins shock absorption events into a modicum of forward motion.

 

A time-lapse photo shows the flight path of an airborne wind turbine. The vehicle is tethered to a converted fire engine during a test in a remote area of Sherman Island, California.

   
Urban Environment
 

This edition of urban environment news looks at an earthquake-proof building design, the world's new fastest train, and chameleon homes that blend into their environment.

 

Earthquake-proof architecture is a reality for many new urban development projects around the world. This new building in California showcases suspended meeting rooms.

 

A new wave of residential architecture is sweeping the U.S. with homes that blend so well into their locations they're sometimes hard to see. The architects aim to create homes that connect to their surroundings, using local materials and ideas that borrow from the region's historical structures.

 

The first test train that can reach speeds of up to 500 km/h stands on a railway line in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Thursday. Many high-tech materials, including carbon fiber, magnesium alloy and sound insulation materials, have been used in the train.

 

 

Culture and Beyond
 

This section looks at some of the mezmerizing headlines from 2011, including a stunning photo gallery, and political humour.

 

2011 was a year of double takes in photo fakery. This photo gallery shows the top digitally altered images that made headlines in fashion and world politics.

 

Boston Globe's Big Picture features a 3-part set of amazing images from 2011,capturing the death of Gaddafi, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs, fire, famine, flood and protests

 

Teens React to Rick Perry's anti-gay commercial

 

Wormfood News Digest - Dec 15th, 2011  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

As 2011 nears an end, we bring you the top stories making news around the world. This edition includes Canada's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, England's veto on European Union treaty, an update from scientists at CERN, Time Magazine's "Person of the Year", and much more.

 

Global News
 

Top news developments from around the globe include demonstrations in Russia, an unexpected outburst of violence in Belgium, and an update on the situation in Syria.

 

Russia's December 4 parliamentary vote has prompted mass demonstrations over allegations of electoral fraud and, in part, due to public frustration with former president and now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's decision to run again for president in March.Russia's third richest man has moved to challenge Vladimir Putin for the presidency, prompting speculation that the surprise move could be part of a Kremlin attempt to manage growing middle-class opposition to Mr Putin's regime.

 

A gunman opened fire on passers-by and threw grenades in a central square of the Belgian city of Liege, before apparently killing himself. Late on Tuesday a Liege hospital announced that a 17-month-old girl had become the fourth victim of the shooting spree, after two teenage boys and a 75-year-old woman were earlier confirmed killed. Officials said at least 120 others were also wounded in the attack, which occurred 90km east of Brussels.

 

Syrian army defectors killed seven government security forces in an attack on a convoy Tuesday. The group said security forces had opened fire "indiscriminately" in the villages of Maarat Masreen and Kafr Bahmoul near the city of Idlib, killing 11 and wounding many others.

 

 

Energy & Environment
 

Canada's decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol ironically coincides with a report warning of global warming trends. And for those celebrating Christmas, we look at the environmental costs of Christmas trees.

 

Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels have increased by 49 per cent in the last two decades, stated in a report from the University of East Anglia.

 

Canada will formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the country's minister of the environment has said, making it the first nation to pull out of the global treaty.

 

Fake Christmas trees might be convenient and seem eco-friendly at first glance, but their environmental costs—measured in greenhouse gas emissions and landfill space—far outweigh their benefits, say conservationists who urge consumers to "stay real" this holiday season.

 
Business & Economy
 

In financial news, European leaders are at odds over the eurozone, secret Fed loans gave banks $13 Billion undisclosed to the US congress, and comedian Stephen Colbert prompts a referendum on corporate personhood.

 

The leaders of France and Germany will not leave the negotiating table until a "powerful deal" to bolster the eurozone is agreed, France's finance minister said as the threat of a British veto of proposed changes to the European Union treaty clouded last week's crucial summit in Brussels. David Cameron, Britain's prime minister, has told the UK parliament he was right to reject proposed changes to the European treaty.

 

The US Federal Reserve failed to disclose which banks were in troubleso deep that they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates

 

Stephen Colbert, American comedy TV host, political journalist, and infiltrator managed to get a referendum question placed questioning corporate personhood. This move is a major breakthrough in politics and governance in itself, and the question asked is a fundamental choice that impacts all of our society, which needs to be asked. Watch the full TV episode here.

   
Science, Technology, & Design
 

In science news, researchers at CERN provide an update on their search for the Higgs boson particle, and a new study looks at consumption trends in developed countries.

 

The Higgs boson fills in the missing chapter in the "Standard Model" of physics, a collection of theories which amount to accepted wisdom about the behaviour of particles and the make-up of the Universe. While the experiments on the Large Hadron Collider this week have not revealed the particle, scientistssay they have found encouraging signs of its existence.

 

The Australian government will begin imposing a tax on carbon emissions in mid-2012. But large giveaways to industry mean Australia’s scheme doesn’t go nearly far enough in reducing the nation’s CO2 emissions or providing economic stimulus.

 

A new study finds that Britons are consuming less than they did a decade ago, with similar patterns being seen across Europe. Could this be the beginning of a trend in developed countries? Might we be reaching “peak stuff”?

   
Urban Environment
 

This edition of urban environment news looks at how New York is re-zoning to promote green buildings, what Washington would look like without public transit, and some of the top design trends in the urban environment in 2011.

 

New York has created new zoning rules, now officially under review for approval, that combat the current zoning's sometimes impeding effect on green building. The city's roughly one million buildings cost $15 billion a year to power and heat and account for80% of the city's greenhouse gas emissions. The changes will promote the installation of solar panels on rooftops, which will reduce electrical bills and carbon emissions.

 

Antos, a transportation analyst for Washington DC, has been managing a study that models transit in the D.C. area, and what would happen without it. People, it turns out, do something very interesting. They stop making long car trips because the traffic is so bad.. "The congestion was forcing people to regress into a more local economy," Antos says.

 

The strongest design trends of the past year are direct and smart responses to shifting priorities occasioned by tough economic conditions and anxious times. See thetop 10 designs of 2011.

 

 

Culture and Beyond
 

In the past two weeks, Time Magazine has released their "Person of the Year", scientists show us a rare glimpse at a supernova, and a spoken word artist gives an inspiring performance about society's behaviour on our planet.

 

"Who Cares About This Planet?" is a spoken word poem that expresses this conflict between concern and ignorance for our planet, written and performed by Made Wade.

 

Time magazine has chosen the protester as its person of the year, in tribute to the popular demonstrations that defined 2011.

 

A supernova 21 million light years away has offered a rare glimpse of how exploding stars can breathe life into the universe. Scientists captured images of the titanic blast just 11 hours after the explosion in an outer spiral arm of the Pinwheel Galaxy in the Great Bear constellation.

 

 

A Special Announcement from Except
 

In addition to sharing news stories that are actively shaping our world, the Wormfood News Digest intends to highlight projects and initiatives that contribute to a sustainable society. As 2011 comes to a close, Except has just released two inspiring publications that are dedicated to exploring sustainable innovation - and they are both available to download!

 

What is an energy neutral home? What are the benefits? The costs? What are the choices? What does it look like? And what kind of people live there? "Huis Vol Energie" is a book filled with examples, inspiration, interviews tips and technical details: a book filled with energy!

 

From eco-houses and neighborhoods to streetlamps on moonlight, social innovations, and urban agriculture, "Greenprint" features over 150 pages of innovations in our homes, cities and daily life, and shows how sustainability can change your world from the smallest to the biggest scale. 

 

 

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people.  Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - Dec 1st, 2011  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

In this edition of the Wormfood News Digest, we cover the latest political developments in the Middle East, financial developments in Europe, an array of exciting new technological developments, and more.

   
Global News
 

Developments in the Middle East dominate headlines this week as Egypt heads to the polls, Saif-al-Islam is detained in Libya, and sanctions against Syria come after months of violent attacks on pro-democracy demonstrators.

 

Muammar Gaddafi's son and one-time heir apparent Saif al-Islam has been detained in the southern desert, Libya's interim justice minister and other officials have said.

Saif al-Islam was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in June on crimes against humanity charges relating to the Gaddafi regime's efforts to put down the uprising. Libya's prime minister has promised a fair trial.

 

Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has apologised for the deaths of demonstrators during six straight days of anti-military rallies. The apology came amid a tense calm across the country following street battles which left 36 people dead and more than 3,000 wounded.

Meanwhile, this week Egypt's first free elections for decades has entered a second day, with turnout so far described as "very high"

 

A leaked memo shows that the banking world takes OWS seriously enough to suggest an $850.000 smear campaign.

 

 

Energy & Environment
 

In recent envrionrmental news, we look at the Chinese influence on illegal harvesting of wood, an interactive website that reveals remarkable insights on your consumer lifestyle, and a look at what post-carbon harvesting machinery might look like.

 

Anthropocene mapping shows the extent of human's habitation over the surface of the Earth. The amazing video can be seen here.

 

A new website and mobile app looks at your purchases and determines the amount of forced labor that’s gone into everything you own. The number may surprise you. Take the survey and find out!

 

What might agriculture machines look like in a post-fossil fuel world? What machines do we need to do sustainable farming, while creating a food surplus? (article is in Dutch)

 

More than half of the timber now shipped globally is destined for China. But unscrupulous Chinese companies are importing huge amounts of illegally harvested wood, prompting conservation groups to step up boycotts against rapacious timber interests.

 
Business & Economy
 

Bolstering of the ongoing European debt crisis remains the center of focus for financial institutions around the world, while strikes in Britain this week adds to the wave of social unrest barreling through Europe.

 

Eurozone ministers have met in Brussels this week, and have agreed on options to give the rescue fund more leverage power and build up resources to help bigger troubled European Union members such as Italy and Spain.

 

Border workers joined teachers and hospital staff in Britain on Wednesday for a public-sector strike over government spending cuts they say will make them pay more and work longer for their pensions, but airline travel has so far been unaffected in the one-day walkout.

 

Central banks from developed nations Wednesday took coordinated action to shore up the global financial system as Europe's rolling debt crisis continues to trouble markets. The purpose of these actions is to ease strains in financial markets and thereby mitigate the effects of such strains on the supply of credit to households and businesses and so help foster economic activity

   
Science, Technology, & Design
 

In this edition of science and technology news, we explore technologies that allow us to see in new ways - from inside buildings to the surface of another planet.

 

One of the most ancient forms of scientific investigation, the post-mortem autopsy, may be ripe for a technological upgrade. Computerised tomography (CT) uses X-rays to collect information from many angles, and a lot of processing power to convert that information into cross-sectional images of a body’s inner tissues.

  An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket carrying a $2.5bn NASA Mars probe has lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Mars Science Laboratory, a nuclear-powered rover as big as a compact car and nicknamed Curiosity, is scheduled to touch down on the 'Red Planet' on August 6, 2012, and will search for signs of whether it is or ever was suitable for life.
 

Google Maps 6.0 for Android launched Tuesday with a bold initiative: indoor mapping. Partnering at launch with a selection of businesses and public service structures, the new mobile Maps version allows users to see the entire layout of a mapped building, switch between floor plans if the structure has multiple levels, and locate indoor points of interest like retail stores, bathrooms and ATMs.

   
Urban Environment
 

This edition of urban environment news looks at some interesting solutions to using space and infrastructure more intelligently to better service the needs of urban dwellers.

 

Eight million people living in Kenya’s slums lack access to adequate sanitation, but a new solution is changing this rapidly. Low-cost sanitation centers, each one designed to service 77 people with hot showers and clean toilets. These centers are then franchised to local entrepreneurs, financed by a local microfinance bank, who earn income through pay-per-use fees, membership plans and sales of additional products.

 

Households have evolved, but New York’s housing stock hasn’t. New housing models for this changing city offer a fascinating glimpse into how we can use space better and more dynamically.

 

Bombardier has announced the next generation BOMBARDIER TRAXX diesel electric multi-engine locomotive. The concept, which fulfils the latest emission norms, is based on four diesel-electric engine-generator sets replacing the typical large unit. The concept also allows the implementation of an intelligent engine control system, allowing each engine to be operated independently to maximise fuel efficiency.

 

 

Culture and Beyond
 

In this edition we catch up with the Occupy Wall Street movement, as well as other developments in recent news.

  The Anti-Wall Street movement feels the heat in the US as tents are dismantled and arrests made in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
 

US authorities announced on November 16 the discovery of a "major" drug-smuggling tunnel under the border, running up to 400m long, equipped with electricity supplies and a ventilation system.

 

A group of Mexican activists has lodged a war-crimes complaint against President Felipe Calderon at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

 

 

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - Oct 16, 2011  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

In this Mid-October edition of the Wormfood News Digest we look at several breaking news stories, including the spread of the Occupy Wall Street protests, future hopes for solar energy in the United States, the influence of China in the EU debt crisis, the discovery of titanium ores on the moon, and so much more.

 

   
Global News
 

Among the major developments in global news over the past couple of weeks, "occupy" protests are spreading across the world, Syrian troops fire on civilians, and the NTC in Libya are closing in on Gaddafi.

 

Civilians came under attack from Syrian troops in two communities on Sunday, while another round of mass arrests was carried out in the suburbs of Damascus. Security forces opened fire on a funeral procession for a slain activist in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, witnesses said.

  The Occupy Wall Street movement, which dubs itself a "NYC protest for American Revolution", has spurred similiar grassroots demonstrations against corporate bailouts, income inequality and high rates of unemployment. The movement has flourished online with groups organizing on social networks around the globe.
 

Libya's National Transitional Council says that Muammar Gaddafi, the country's toppled leader, is in the southern desert region of the country, and that it is only a matter of time before he is captured

 

 

Energy & Environment
 

In this edition of energy and environment news, China sticks to its target for nuclear power by 2015 despite of the Fukushima incident in Japan. Also, economists weigh in on why carbon taxes might be bad, and an insightful look into the Solyndra bankruptcy in the United States.

 

Carbon tax is an elegant solution to a complicated problem, which allows the everyday business of consumer decision making to do the work of emission reduction. While almost all serious economists think that carbon tax is a good strategy in general, here are some enlightening contrarian points.

 

Solyndra, a would-be solar energy manufacturer that went belly up, has been in the news a lot lately because, before the company failed, the United States government gave it a sweet financing deal. However, the reason it failed is actually a really good signfor the future of solar energy.

 

Jiang Kejun, a director of the Energy Research Institute at the National Development and Reform Commission, the top Chinese economic planning agency, said that the government was sticking to its target of 50 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2015, compared to just 10.8 gigawatts at the end of last year.

 
Business & Economy
 

As political pressure in both Europe and the United States is growing to resolve the debt crisis, we take a closer look at the increasingly important role of the Chinese economy in the crisis. Also, an interesting study showing the income disparity between the rich and the rest.

 

In global news, "Occupy Wall Street" protests are spreading internationally.Justifying their raison d'etre, a recent study shows that the average salary of bankers are five and a half times the average salary in the rest of the private sector.

 

As the debtor economies of the developed world sputter, the health of China grows ever-more central to the fate of the global economy. China’s model is unbalanced and its economy has misallocated capital, but its policy makers are using the country’s plentiful reserves and policy tools to keep inflation under control and growth on a sustainable path.

 

US politicians, including President Barack Obama, have been calling on Europe to fix its debt crisis, amid fears it will have a negative impact on the fragile US economy. According to former financial regulators, Goldman Sachs made a dozen derivative deals with Greece a decade ago, writing its debt off its balance sheet for a number of years.

   
Science, Technology, & Design
 

Surprising new science developments this week include a discovery of massive titanium ore deposits on the moon, highly-efficient semiconductor chips, and an ultra-realistic flight simulator technology for fighter pilots.

 

A new map of the moon has uncovered a trove of areas rich in precious titanium ore, with some lunar rocks harboring 10 times as much of the stuff as rocks here on Earth do.

 

"Floppy-thin" silicon wafer of power semiconductor chips have been developed this week. This type of power is claimed to possibly reduce global power consumption by 25%

 

A Belgian company has unveiled the ultimate fighter jet training tool, a fully immersive 360-degree flight simulator designed to reproduce reality exactly as a pilot sees it.

   
Urban Environment
 

In this edition, two women were seized from the Dadaab refugee camp in Somalia, a look at the growing African middle class, and new designs for a landscape icon.

 

The shortlist has just been announced for a new pylon design in Britain, a government-sponsored competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Thefinalists have all come up with possible replacements to the 1927 construction of Sir Reginald Blomfeld, which continues to march across the landscape barely changed

 

Gunmen have kidnapped two Spanish doctors working for the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) near Kenya's border with Somalia. The BBC's Nawaz Shah, in Nairobi, says it is highly likely that the Islamist militants of the Somali al-Shababgroup carried out the kidnapping.

 

Africa's middle class will triple to more than one billion people in the next half-century, but that still won't suffice to close the gap between the continent and Asia's new economic powers, a report from the African Development Bank says.

Culture & Beyond
 

A variety of interesting news stories have come up in the past weeks, including the discovery of a cyclops shark, a summary of some (not-so) insightful observations about the Occupy Wall Street protests, and for those of you celebrating halloween - some costume inspiration

 

A cyclops shark skeleton has been found. Cyclopia is a rare form of holoprosencephaly and is a congenital disorder characterized by the failure of the embryonic prosencephalon to properly divide the orbits of the eye into two cavities.

 

AHHH! Halloween is coming! If you are in need of inspiration for costume ideas, look nofuther.

 

The Occupy Wall Street protests are making top headlines everywhereHere is a collection of some stange and "dumb" things said by several news pundits over the past couple of weeks.

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - Sept 14, 2011  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

Several important developments in the past weeks are found in this edition of the Wormfood News Digest. Shifting relations in the Middle-East, China's possible role in the European debt crisis, and a look at promising technologies are all covered below.

 

   
Global News
 

Of the many developments in global news, a selection of intriguing stories include Middle-East relations and conflict, and an update on Catholic sex abuse scandals.

 

An international group for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests has asked the International Criminal Court to prosecute Pope Benedict XVI and three other senior Vatican officials for crimes against humanity.

 

A trio of attacks targeting Iraqi security forces have killed at least 17 people and wounded more than 50 others in locations near the capital Baghdad.

 

Israel's relations with Turkey have worsened steadily over the past three years, ever since Israel's "Operation Cast Lead". Relations with Egypt have also been rocky in recent months, despite repeated assurances by the interim government in Cairo that it will stand by the 30-year peace treaty between the two countries.

 

 

Energy & Environment
 

Several new developments in Energy and the Environment include new insights into the ecological damage caused by expanding cities, an update on the BP oil spill, and an initiative from Shell in the Netherlands.

 

Growth of cities intensify environmental damageconclude a multi-party team from various research institutes. Threats such as habitat loss, agricultural land conversion, and changes in local and regional climate.

 

US oil spill panel finds BP guilty of mistakes. A "complacent" attitude to safety and a cost-cutting culture by BP's management and that of its partners contributed to the oil spill that ravaged the Gulf of Mexico last year.

 

A new Shell initiative aims to promote their shift from its Oil & Gas notoriety toward one focusing R&D on future energy and renewables such as solar PV.

 
Business & Economy
 

The European debt crisis has taken center stage in the past weeks. While European banks receive persistent scrutiny, the Chinese have made steps toward supporting European recovery.

 

Too many European banks are too big and need to shrink their balance sheets. European banks rival or in some cases exceed the economic size of their native European economies, making a rescue package in Europe difficult

 

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has outlined conditions that Europe must meet before China will increase support for debt-laden Europe in a sign of Beijing’s reluctance to be cast as a saviour for the global economy.

 

Italian Economy Minister Tremonti meet officials from a Chinese delegation last week. Italy had asked Beijing to buy "significant" quantities of Italian debt to help calm market turmoil caused by worries over the sustainability of its 1.9 trillion euro debt load.

   
Science, Technology, & Design
 

Science is continuing to affect the prospects of the future. In this edition we cover latest developments from NASA, geoengineering trials, and tools that help us cope with thinking about the long-term.

 

The design for NASA's newest behemoth of a rocket harkens back to the giant workhorse liquid rockets that propelled men to the moon. But this time the destinations will be much farther and the rocket even more powerful.

 

A huge helium-filled balloon attached to a 1km length of hosepipe is to be launched next month to help investigate the feasibility of climate engineering. They predict that 10 or 20 giant balloons at 20km altitude could release enough particles into the atmosphere to reduce the global temperature by around 2 degrees.

 

Behavioural modelling tools are fast-developing and providing interesting insights that can gratly affect business strategy. Just the use of modelling tools makes business clients more inclined to adopt longer-term strategies.

 

 

Urban Environment
 

Urban development must take many forms to accomodate new technologies and new policies. In this edition, we look at electric vehicle infrastructure in China, and high tech neighbourhoods in USA and Canada.

 

The Chinese government has taken a clear stand to develop electric vehicles.Long-term urban planning is the key to easing traffic congestion, in part through providing free or inexpensive parking places near subways or bus stations, said Pan.

 

The first carbon-neutral and zero-energy multifamily community in the United States. Builders constructed fortress-thick walls, a solar array on each unit and a heat pump to pull heat from the earth to achieve carbon neutrality and zero net energy use, hence the name zHome.

 

Progress in sustainable urban development is often varied in the developed world, and is rarely exemplified well. Could this city in Canada be in fact the worlds "greenest" neighbourhood?

Culture & Beyond
 

A variety of interesting news stories have come up in the past weeks. A remarkable effort to save a trapped man, an astounding construction-speed record, and progress in the fight against malaria are all presented in this edition, below.

 

After a collision between a car and a motorcycle, the rider was trapped under the car as flames burst out. A flood of people swarmed the car and managed to lift it into the air, and pull out the unconscious rider. See the amazing video here.

 

The global campaign to fight malaria reported achievements in reducing death from the mosquito-borne disease by 38 per cent and restated its goal of eliminating nearly all malaria deaths by 2015.

 

A construction crew in the south-central Chinese city of Changsha has completed a 15-story hotel in just six days.

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

 

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - Sept 1, 2011  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

Many new developments are found in this September 1st edition of the Wormfood News Digest. Libyan rebel forces capture Tripoli, One step closer to a pipeline to the Canadian Oil Sands, far-out future concepts, and a special tribute to the Dutch. All this and more, found below ...

 

   
Global News
 

In the most recent Global news, Libyan rebels capture Tripoli, pushing Gaddafi into a corner. New Yorkers narrowly avoid the devestating Hurricane Irene. We also follow up on rioting in England, and offer an in-depth look at the relationship between food prices and mass protests.

 

Libyan rebels are pushing through Tripoli, and are negotiating with the remaining Gaddafi loyalists to persuade them to surrender.

It will likely take the rebels more than 10 days to take control of Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi's home town and one of his last major bastions of support.

The rebels have no concrete information on the whereabouts of Muammar Gaddafi or his sons, Mustafa Abdel Jalil.

 

From the United States, 370,000 New Yorkers, ordered to evacuate their homes are now told they can return, as Hurricane Irene spared most of the Big Apple.

Amazing pictures of the hurricane can be found at National Geographic, here.

 

Studies how a specific food price threshold where protests become likely. These observations suggest that protests may reflect not only long-standing political failings of governments, but also the sudden desperate straits of vulnerable populations.

 

England's streets are calm again. But there's still plenty of interesting debate going on as to the causes of the riots that swept across London, Birmingham, Manchester and several other towns, and have now resulted in well over 2,000 arrests.

Energy & Environment
 

New developments this month on the Keystone pipeline to Canadian tar sands, surprising domestic solar trends in the United States, and new insights into the relationship between biodiversity and the overall performance of ecosystem services.

 

Ecosystem services found to depend on greater biodiversity than previously expected. Even species that seem not to matter for these services turn out to improve the overal performance of the ecosystem.

 

Daunted by high up-front costs, U.S. homeowners continue to shy away from residential solar power systems, even as utility-scale solar projects are taking off.

 

Canada's oil sands companies have scored a major victory in their battle to win a bigger share of the American petroleum market.

The U.S. State Department gave an environmental thumbs-up to a pipeline expansion from Alberta to the world's largest refining hub on the Gulf Coast.

 
Business & Economy
 

Economic news remains a mixed bag. The head of the World Bank warns of new dangers, we explore reasons to be optimistic about our economic future, and to top it off - Steve Jobs, CEO of one of the world's most popular companies has stepped down.

 

Just about one month ago, Apple (briefly) claimed the top spot on the DOW-Jones index as the most valuable company. Now it has been learned that CEO Steve Jobs will be stepping down.

What's next for this dynamic and innovative company without its iconic leader?

 

There may be one bright spot left in the rubble of the West's crumbling economy:Software. Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape and now mega-investor in software ventures lays out the reasons for optimism about software-driven growth.

 

Robert Zoellick, the head of the World Bank, has warned that markets have been pushed into a new danger zone that policy makers have to take seriously.

   
Science, Technology, & Design
 

Strange and wonderful concepts for the future. In this edition, we look at plans for floating cities, a light-cooled fridge, and a pain-free technology for rebuilding your perfect smile.

 

Architectural plans for a prototype "Seasteading" vessel involve a movable, diesel-powered, 12,000-ton structure with room for 270 residents, with the idea that dozens—perhaps even hundreds—of these could be linked together.

Full-time settlement is the idea, and full diplomatic recognition by the United Nations, well, that'll take some lawyers and time.

 

Researchers at the University of Leeds have discovered a pain-free way of tackling dental decay that reverses the damage of acid attack and re-builds teeth as new.

The pioneering treatment promises to transform the approach to filling teeth forever.

 

Electrolux Design Lab winner - a fridge that does not need Electricity. It just needs light to keep stuff cool in a green blob.

If the fridge is full, the green blob will stick out like a full belly. One draw back, the design will probably be on the market in the year 2050.

 

There may not only be metal electrical appliances in the future, but bacteria as well. Scientists from the American University of Massachusetts have discovered thatbacteria as well as metals can conduct electricity.

Urban Environment
 

Like it or not, road-vehicles have such an integrated role in the urban environment. In this edition, we look at the latest developments in this aspect of urban development.

 

The Dutch goverment accepted the NTA 8080 certification system to demonstrate the sustainability of the Biofuels.

The European Union states that by 2020 at least 10% of all fuel in road traffic consists of sustainably produced alternatives to fossil fuels.

 

The Obama administration recently announced that it was gradually raising fuel-efficiency standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

A better solution would be raising the federal gas tax, according to Freakonomics' Eric Morris.

 

The idea of a vehicle-mileage tax (VMT) hasn't caught on in the United States, however if a VMT ever does find its way back to American negotiating tables, a recent six-month trial conducted in the Netherlands could serve as a good model.

Culture & Beyond
 

Why is it that the Dutch are always making news. In this edition, we look at three interesting stories from the world's flattest country.

 

A few week ago we presented a story from Seattle regarding a "happiness test". Apparently Dutch women are the happiest in the world.

 

A sustainable organization has an exchange program at the 2011 Lowlands festival. People can change there old underwear for a new sustainable one. From the old underwear are nice bracelets made.

 

The fantasy of seeing banknotes fluttering down from the sky came true for Dutchmotorists after a package containing cash apparently fell from a bank transport truck and broke open.

 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

 

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - August 15, 2011  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

In the August 15th edition of the Wormfood News Digest, we keep you updated on the latest international developments, including the English riots, Canadian Tar Sands, European and American finances, a promising new anti-viral drug, and much more.


   
Global News
 

Rioting in England has dominated front-page news for the past week. This story and other updates are presented in this section.

 

Widespread rioting, looting and arson occurred across parts of England during 6–10 August 2011. Prime Minister David Cameron has responded with a US-style 'zero tolerance' approach, using closed-circuit security cameras to identify looters. So far, hundreds of arrests have been made, and many homes and businesses have been lost. Follow the developments, as they happen - here.

 

A train packed with about 280 passengers has derailed in central Poland as it was travelling from Warsaw to Katowice, killing one passenger and injuring more than 40 others.

 

Legislation to prevent female genital mutilation "is the first step to ensuring this practice does not take hold in Ireland". The Bill deals with this by making it an offence to remove a girl or woman from the State for the purpose of such mutilation.

 

An attack on a pipeline in eastern Turkey has halted the flow of Iranian gas into the country, Turkey's energy ministry has said, adding that it may take up to a week before it will be operating again. The suspected Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) are regarded as terrorists by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.

Energy & Environment
 

New developments this month on China's nuclear plans, Canadian tar sands, and C02 sequestration are covered in this section.

 

Things are moving ahead on the exploitation of the Canadian tar sands. A new pipe line, the Keystone XL, will transport oil containing 150 million tons of CO2 every year from Alberta to Oklahoma and Texas. The volume transported by this pipeline is almost as much as the total current annual emissions of the Netherlands.

 

In the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns, some nations are looking to move away from nuclear power. But not China, which is proceeding with plans to build 36 reactors over the next decade. China has 26 reactors now under construction — nearly half of all the nuclear reactors being built worldwide, and has also become the world's living laboratory for new nuclear reactor designs.

 

If only it were as easy to collect and reuse carbon dioxide—that greenhouse gas waste product that the world is generating in huge volume each day by burning fossil fuels. A handful of start-up companies and researchers are aiming to do just that. Relying on data in the public domain, the American Physical Society panel expressed pessimism about the technology's prospects, at least in the short term.

 

A recent graph from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that many EU countries are behind their interim targets. Among the EU nations, only Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, and Portugal are expected to meet their targets.

 
Business & Economy
  Markets, business, and the economy have been inexorably linked with political strategy since 2008. In this section we capture developments between these two spheres over the last two weeks.
 

The German chancellor Angela Merkel is coming under criticism for not providing more leadership during the Eurozone financial crisis. Germany pays the lion's share of bailout money – some 30% under European Union rules but most people there seemed resigned to simply being Europe's paymaster.

 

Businesspeople enjoy huge advantages from being in America, the civil war inWashington is squandering this capital. As it revoked America's triple-A credit rating on August 5th,the gulf between the political parties was becoming unbridgeable, and that policymaking was becoming unpredictable.

 

On August 9th, Apple's market capitalisation surpassed that of Exxon Mobil, Apple's ascension is a sign of changing times in the technology industry. On its way to the top of the valuation stakes, the company, which focuses primarily on consumer technology, has leap-frogged more business-oriented tech giants such as Microsoft and IBM.

   
Science, Technology, & Design
 

Over the past two weeks, several developments have taken place in the field of medicine, martian geology, and hybrid technology.

 

A new drug, called DRACO (for double-stranded RNA activated caspase oligomerizers), has been tested on 15 viruses, MIT news reported. All of which, including the common cold, polio, H1N1, and a stomach virus, have been successfully killed by the treatment.

In essence, the drug combines the protein in human cells, which instigate a series of reactions that prevent the virus from multiplying, with a protein that tells the infected cells to "commit suicide," or apoptosis.

 

NASA scientists have discovered new evidence that briny water flows on Mars during its warmest months, raising chances that life could exist on the Red Planet, the space agency said on Thursday.

 

Cadillac has given the go-ahead for a production car based on the Converj concept it showed off at the 2009 Detroit auto show. The Converj concept is driven by the same series hybrid system as the Chevy Volt. The Converj is a two-door sport coupe using an electric motor to drive the wheels. A gas engine works in conjunction with a lithium ion battery pack to provide electricity.

   
Urban Environment
 

Whether they are pristine villages, or quake-damaged city-centers, many urban areas worldwide are testgrounds for exploring different ideas on what a 'sustainable urban environment' could look like.

 

When it comes smart grid, Italy is best known for its aggressive smart meter rollout. The country embraced advanced metering infrastructure mostly to cut down on theft, and not to empower customers, although that is starting to change. Enel, Italy's largest electric company and the second largest in Europe, has installed smart meters for all of its 32 million customers.

 

Along the Mumbai-Delhi Industrial Corridor, a 'smart city' would be developed on a 100 to 150 square kilometer area. The authorities plan major development work in the area that includes revamp of the Jodhpur-Udaipur Road that will be made into a six-lane.

 

New Zealand has announced plans to rebuild the centre of the quake-damaged city of Christchurch as a safe, sustainable "city in a garden". They propose limiting the height of buildings in the centre and giving over much more space to parkland. The 22 February quake killed 181 people and largely wrecked the city centre.

Culture & Beyond
 

Money doesn't buy you happiness. In this edition we look at the disparity between the richest and poorest in America, the Seattle Happiness survey, and more.

 

With 1% of Americans controlling 40% of the country's wealth, this videoexamines the gap between the rich and the rest.

 

Seattle tries to gauge happiness of its citizens. Watch the video here, and take the survey here!

  The Day the Dollar Died (De dag dat de dollar valt) - an intriguing 2008 film of a scenario where the American dollar fell. Watch online here.
   
 

That's all for this edition, folks.

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? Email matthew.fraser@except.nl.

 

 

 

Wormfood News Digest - August 1, 2011  
 


Dear fellow Digesters,

The August 1st edition of the Wormfood News Digest keeps you updated on the latest developments in the heat of the summer. In this edition you will find the latest details in the Syrian conflict, new insights on global warming, escalating tensions of a U.S. debt deadlock, and a major discovery in fighting influenza.

 

 

Global News
 

As summer peaks, new waves of violence are emerging from around the world. This edition covers the latest developments.

 

Syrian security forces have launched a major assault on Hama, the country's third-largest city. At least 121 people have already been killed.

This assault is the latest event in a long escalation of violence in Syria. For an in-depth look at the evolution of the conflict, review a timeline of the Syrian state.

 

Twelve Afghan policemen and a child have been killed in a suicide attack in the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah, officials say. The Taliban said it had carried out the attack, which also wounded an additional 12 people.

This latest shift in Taliban tactics is sparking panic within the Afghanistan government.

 

Desperately-needed food aid is being threatened by religious violence in Mogadishu, one of the most lawless and dangerous cities in the world.

For a closer look into the effects of the famine in East Africa, view a sobering photo gallery here.

  Anders Behring Brevik, who admitted to the July 22 shooting on an island summer camp and a car-bomb blast in Oslo earlier the same day, also wanted to hit the royal palace and the ruling party headquarters.
 
Energy & Environment
 

As new insights into environmental problems unfold, perceptions of the future change. In this edition we have included some of this month's newest developments.

 

Water vapor can create a feedback loop that accelerates the effects of other greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. Most climatologists think the planet's total humidity seems likely to rise in the coming years.

 

The UN's top nuclear official says the world's reliance on atomic power will continue to grow, despite the crisis at Japan's Fukushima plant.

 

We might consider the climate crisis as a carbon bubble on the financial market. All the reserves listed by mining companies amount to roughly four times as much carbon as they will (or should) be allowed to burn. That means that these companies' valuation is based on false assumptions. They are sitting un 'unburnable carbon'.

 

A cow's stomach could hold the key to creating more environmentally friendly versions of petrol and diesel, according to Edinburgh scientists.

 
Business & Economy
  With the August 2nd deadline fast approaching, the world is watching the U.S. careen toward a possible default, with officials warning that failure to reach a deal could root out an already fragile global economic recovery.
 

There is "zero chance" that the United States will default on its debt even under the worst-case scenario. More fundamentally, it is wrong to look upon the current impasse as a symptom of a deeper crisis of governability.

 

"When countries across the world hold breath watching the debt negotiations between the Democrats and Republicans in Washington, they are once again 'kidnapped' by U.S. domestic politics," complains Beijing

 

Euro-zone businesses and consumers became significantly less confident about their prospects in July, as manufacturers experienced a drop in export orders, and consumers fretted about the outlook for the economy and the jobs market.

   
Science, Technology, & Design
 

Technological innovation has indeed revolutionized our society. New developments this month seem extremely promising for creating the foundations for a sustianable society of tomorrow.

 

The N-Solv Corporation has developed a process for oil extraction that uses no water and 85% less energy than current methods. They have been awarded with $10.5 million by the Canadian government.

 

Printing Planes enables designs that were known to be more efficient but were too costly with conventional manufacturing, possibly revolutionizing the economics of aircraft design.

 

A team at the Tokyo University of Science have developed an electric car without any rare earth elements. Video here.

  First Solar announced that it has produced a cadmium telluride solar cell with a 17.3 percent efficiency, shattering a ten-year-old record set by NREL.
Urban Environment
 

City infrastructure doesn't always have to be taken so seriously. Among other stories in this edition, we look at some Dutch urban designs that incorporate play into the everyday.

 

A way to save urban New York: Sign legislation allowing cities to establish land banksas a way to reclaim neighborhoods from the blight that abandoned buildings bring.

 

Vancouver ranks second to San Francisco in a green city index published last week by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a business and economic research group.

 

Dutch train passengers running late to their appointments have a quicker option for getting across Overvecht Station (and that option isn't a new flight of stairs or an elevator). See the video here. Past installations in Utrecht include illuminated poetry light plates, an outdoor public kitchen and a cheeky little car filled with astroturf called "Rent-a-park."

Culture & Beyond
 

In this edition, we look at a range of stories from shoplifting trends to the latest wikileak.

 

shoplifting is flourishing worldwide - and steak of all things seems to be on everyone's list.

 

The first antibody which can fight all types of influenza A virus, which cause flu in humans, has been discovered, researchers claim.

  The Bulgarian subsidiary of LukOil, which pays some 20% of all the taxes collected in Bulgaria, has been revealed to be a sponsor of the Socialist Party
   
 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people.  Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E- mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

     

 

   
  Wormfood News Digest - July 17, 2011
   
 

Dear fellow Digesters,

In this Mid-July edition of the Wormfood News Digest we advance discussions from the previous edition, while exploring developing stories. This edition covers the challenges to liberalism in Africa, developments in the financial crisis, the need for an urban revolution, and a farewell to NASA's space shuttle program.

   
Global News
 

During the first half of 2011, the African continent has been wrestlessly confronting its incumbent leaders, common identity, and shared values for moving into the future. while we view these convulsions from afar, what exactly are the forces that are challenging the prospects for many of these nations?

 

South-Sudan is the 193rd, and latest country welcomed into the community of nations. Despite South Sudan's declaration of independence, it is already combatting at least half a dozen rebel movements from within.

 

As the NATO conflict in Libya draws on, many Western politicians find themselves losing perspective: "Qaddafi's sick intransigence in Libya threatens the local population, the evolving neighboring countries of Tunisia and Egypt, and—by a potential crisis of emigration and refugees—the stability of Europe's southern frontiers. This is why we have had such frank appeals, from Europe as well as from the Arab League, to contribute more to what is in any case ineluctable—a post-Qaddafi future. For Bachmann to choose this moment to say that the loony of Libya poses no threat is to disqualify herself from any consideration for high office."

 

The reactionary Islamist group (Al-Shabab) battling Somalia's weak government has conveniently lifted a ban on humanitarian agencies supplying food aid to millions of citizens amid one of the region's worst droughts in 60 years.

In the past, Al-Shabab have preached that food aid creates dependency, all the while using aid for themselves, and charging foreign organisations enormous fees to operate.

   
Energy & Environment
 

Many decisions regarding energy and the environment are made in haste and can be ill-informed. Panicked policy-reversals in reaction to the Fukushima meltdown, discussed in the last edition, is one example of

 

In the last newsfeed edition, we touched on the opposing sides of the nuclear debate. Indeed, one must admit that nuclear power is prone to a form of 'panic transference'. Should a nuclear reactor of one design go wrong, all reactors of that type will be shut down instantly around the world. But in rapidly developing countries like India, how ought they cope with soaring energy demands? India's dilemma is this: it has 20 nuclear plants in operation, with an additional 23 on order. With the country desperately short of power, and requiring energy to grow, concerned citizens are asking if nuclear is still the answer for India.

 

While the thought of oil-soaked birds and dead fish floating onto the Florida shoreline might leave you misty-eyed, the damage caused by the BP-Horizon oil spill in 2010 might not have been as devestating after all. Scientists have found that young fish remained abundant last summer and fall in some areas of the Gulf of Mexico.

 

In the United States, continued ethanol subsidies are under attack. Described as wasteful and unnecessary, they force the price of food to increase, but they benefit a small but politically powerful group of agribusiness and energy interests.

 
Business & Economy
  Five years ago, the euro zone enjoyed robust growth and an extraordinary financial boom. Five years from now, there is a good chance that the monetary union will no longer exist. In both Europe and North America, we are gradually getting a sharper picture of the financial crisis.
 

A congressionally appointed panel investigating the roots of the US financial crisis in 2008 has said that the meltdown occurred because regulators, politicians and bankers ignored warning signs and failed to manage risks. The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) said in its final report released on Thursday that the crisis could have been avoided.

 

As the clock ticks down on a possible default by the U.S. government, investors from Wall Street to Beijing are getting increasingly jittery about the rancorous stalemate in Washington.

 

The European Banking Authority said five banks in Spain, two in Greece and one in Austria flunked the "stress test," which made 90 lenders reveal for the first time their profit forecasts, a breakdown of their sovereign bond holdings and funding costs.

   
Science, Technology, & Design
 

In the face of the current financial crisis, governments find themselves authorizing difficult budget cuts, especially to science and technology. But how much of these cuts represent a false economy?

 

The ongoing battle between US solar developers and conservationists took another twist yesterday when the Department of the Interior announced that it would conduct a review of "solar energy zones" that could see areas earmarked for development scaled back or eliminated.

 

The Netherlands spends more than 300 million euros a year on electricity for street lighting. The network of street lighting also emits over 1.6 million tons of CO2 a year. TU Delft is currently testing an intelligent street lighting system on its campus, which uses up to 80% less electricity than the current systems and is also cheaper to maintain.

 

Superconductors have already helped build amazing technologies - but the next step willrevolutionise physics itself

   
Urban Environment
 

So much of sustainable development is hinged on how we design our urban environments in the coming century. It is expected that 70% of the world population will be urban by 2050, and that most urban growth will occur in less developed countries.

 

Humanity is close to breaching the sustainability of Earth, and needs a technological revolution greater – and faster – than the industrial revolution to avoid "a major planetary catastrophe," according to a new United Nations report.

 

As social, economic and ecological conditions continue to worsen and with the increasing sophistication and connectivity of information technology and social media, design for sustainability is now moving towards a new qualitatively different area of exploration.

 

In the last newsfeed edition, we discussed urban agriculture as a bottom-up solution to reshape urban environments. Filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette set out this summer to learn about urban agriculture and how it is affecting the urban-rural divide in America.

Culture & Beyond
 

This month marks the end of NASA's 30-year space shuttle program. While space programs including NASA are facing difficult budget cuts, what can we expect for the future of space exploration?

 

Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 11:29 a.m. EDT, July 8, 2011 on the STS-135 mission and final flight of the Space Shuttle Program. Atlantis' final flight will cap off an amazing 30-year program of exploration, which launched great observatories, built an International Space Station, and taught us how humans can live, work and thrive in space. See the video of the launch here

 

NASA recently disclosed a "wish list" of its next possible projects. Among these are: returning the rover to Mars, investigating Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, or maybe going all the way out to Uranus.

"What new wonders undreamt of in our time will we have wrought in another generation and another? How far will our nomadic species have wandered by the end of the next century and the next millenium?" - Carl Sagan

   
 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

   

 

   
  Wormfood News Digest - July 1, 2011
 

Dear fellow Digesters,

I am pleased to present the July 1st edition of the Wormfood News Digest. As this is the first News Digest that I have put together, I humbly propose to try a slightly different approach to how Wormfood is written.

Undoubtedly we enjoy being exposed to a wide range of news stories. However, it is oftenhow these stories are told that ignite meaningful discussion, and in turn, challenge how we perceive our world.

Certainly we live in a very exciting time, and as the Wormfood editor, I aim to explore developing news stories from different, and sometimes contrarian perspectives. My hope is that this format will provide a platform to spark conversation and debate among us both at home and at work. After all, the creative mind is an engaged mind.

In this vein, I would encourage you to join this conversation by submitting news stories and editorials that are important to you, and reflect the voice that you want to be heard.

- Matthew Fraser

   
Global News
 


With the arrival of summer, be sure to gather your sunscreen, a fresh molotov cocktail, and AK-47, for a political heatwave is extending from the Mediterranean through to Mesopotamia.

 

The initial enthusiasm and optimism inspired by the Arab Spring united protesters across the region, but it is still unclear how the situation will play out in many countries. Indeed, as the seemingly unified front disperses into a plurality of regional diversions, we are left to wonder what happens when the Arab Spring turns into summer?

  "Justice will be done in Libya" vows the International Criminal Court, which has formally agreed that warrants should be issued for the arrest of Col. Muammar Qaddafi, as well as his son, Seif al-Islam, who has been acting as Prime Minister along with Libya's intelligence chief, Abdullah Senussi. However, some think the motivation for the warrant seems quite sinister.
 

Despite Greece's internal political opposition to budget cuts, the ruling socialist party has passed a second austerity bill needed to secure more funds from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). With violent protests and fierce union opposition, national finance experts all around Europe warn that a bankrupt Greece is a real threat to all European economies.

   
Energy & Environment
 


Certainly one of the most incendiary developments on the topic of energy and environment is the debate on nuclear power. After the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan that resulted in the meltdown of three nuclear power plants in March, the debate over the future role of nuclear power has ignited fierce debate worldwide.

 

Germany’s well established suspicion of nuclear power grew into mass revulsion after news of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. The response of Chancellor Angela Merkel has been called the swiftest change of political course since the country's unification.

 

Conversely, the British government has boldly announced its plan to go ahead and push the development of 8 new Nuclear power plants.

 

The Nuclear debate is extremely divisive, especially within groups concerned with sustainable development. Where groups like Greenpeace condemn nuclear power for being neither safe nor clean, science and technology blog Next Big Future claim that nuclear still compares very, very well to the other energy sources.

 
Business & Economy
 
Globally, growth is at its weakest since the recovery began almost two years ago. Is today's softness just a sticky patch, or is the global recovery beginning to melt away? How much responsibility do politicians share in turning a temporary softening of the global recovery into something worse?
  The World's Economic Growth must Slow, says Bank for International Settlements. There is little or no slack left for rapid non-inflationary expansion, and central banks need to begin raising interest rates quickly to ensure that an inflationary spiral does not emerge. Politicians will likely face the unpopular choice of introducing EU-wide taxes in order to raise revenue.
 

Silvio Berlusconi has dominated politics since 1994 and is now Italy's longest-serving prime minister since Mussolini. He has survived countless forecasts of his imminent departure. Yet despite his personal successes, he has been a disaster as a national leader, and will haunt Italy's economy for years to come.

 

The chances of a Greek-style crisis in America are low, given the dollar's reserve-currency status, but not zero. On today's trends America's debt is rising unsustainably. By 2016 its overall government deficit will be well above the comfort level for debt stability. Meanwhile US president urges opponents to accept tax rises for richer Americans,warning of consequences unless debt deal agreed.

   
Science, Technology, & Design
 

We are all told that technology is disruptive, but to what extent? As humans have changed the way the world works, we have to change the way we think about it, too.

 

Hackers group LulzSec, famous for its Sony Playstation hack which left the network of the device unusable for over a month, and hacking of the CIA website, announced its dissolution on the 26th of June, likely in fear of prosecution. This after a continuous hacking spree of months, where passwords and user information of over 750.000 accounts of a wide variety of media were made public. This was one of the most intense periods of internet crime ever recorded. LulzSec was famous for its sarcastic and humorous reporting.

 

PhD researcher Emile Chappin at TU Delft succesfully models energy transition scenario's, showing fascinating details about a wide variety of policy tools, such as carbin tax, outlawing the incandescent lightbulbs, and germany's nuclear power shift. While the thesis has just been presented, it already resulted in a Wall-street Journal article on Europe's 'flawed' CO2 trading scheme. His thesis can be found here.

 

Power satellites are an idea that has been around since the late 1960's, but not developed commercially because we don't know how to build an inexpensive space transport system. That may have changed recently, at least in theory.

   
Urban Environment
 

Re-thinking and redesigning our urban environments to handle future challenges is an essential process in sustainable development. But how should this come about? While many grassroots initiatives are economically unviable, geo-scale engineering projects are enourmously expensive and risky.

 

While gas prices fall in the United States, surging food costs are still causing consumers to get gored at the grocery store. A little bit of inflation in the United States is actually a long-term fiscal problem because of the proportion of low-income earners. But how viable is urban agriculture as a strategy for protecting food security at a national scale?

 

Not atypically, the Chinese government has a grand and expensive solution for the water crisis in the North - divert at least six trillion gallons of water each year hundreds of miles from the other great Chinese river, the Yangtze, to slake the thirst of the north China plain and its 440 million people.

 

 

Culture & Beyond
 

Freedom of speech is a most precious human right - as long as we agree with what is being said. But if we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.

 

Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei released on detention. The outspoken and critical artist's disappearance on April 3rd sparked international condemnation, with political leaderscalling for his release and sustained protests throughout the art world. He vanished after he was stopped by officials at Beijing airport, where he was due to board a flight to Hong Kong.

 

Freedom of speech continues to survive in the Netherlands - for now at least. While Judge Marcel van Oosten described Dutch MP Geert Wilders' statements as, "gross and degenerating" he issued an acquittal of all charges of hate speech. Despite the verdict, left-wing attorneys who first brought the charges against Wilders have pledged to bring the case to the United Nations - the same United Nations that attempted to pass a'blasphemy law' in 2009.

  Pakistan's blasphemy law is notorious as it is routinely misused to target Christians and other religious minorities. Lest we forget Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who was assassinated in Islamabad on January 2011. Killed by his own bodyguard, Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri. Qadri reportedly said afterwards, "Salman Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer." Some in Pakistan consider Qadri to be a hero.
   
 

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail matthew.fraser@except.nl.

 

 

   

 

   
  Wormfood 12 - News Digest - June 15 2011
   
 

Dear Readers,

Does growth happen Bric by Bric or byte by byte?  

We work to measure carbon, mitigate climate change, numericize the sustainability of our cities, digitize the way we and our money travel, curb inflation, stimulate growth, and keep entropy churning in our favor. But can prosperity truly be quantified; is reality quantized? 

Will we eventually reach the limits of our networks, whether in the synapses between neurons, or the spaces between streets? How to reconcile the tangible movements of refugees and the rerouting of rivers; the exchange of words in negotiating peace treaties, aid packages, and conferences; and the electrical impulses of our dreams of digital sheep. 

This week's News Digest asks the questions, even if it doesn't provide the answers. 

- Rebecca Blum

   
Global News
   
  Syrian Refugees Flee to Turkey as Turks Take to Polls
  Syrian refugees, fleeing a crackdown that began Sunday in the north of the country, are crossing over into Turkey by the thousands. Turkey's prime minister, after carefully avoiding criticisms of Syrian President Bashar Assad for fears of destabilizing the region, has accused the regime of "savagery." The flood of refugees came on the eve of Turkey's elections, but didn't seem to hurt Erdogen's reelection and the ruling AK party's increasing share of the vote. 
   
  China Reroutes the Yangtze
  China's $62 billion solution to the drought plaguing the north of the country is to divert 6 trillion gallons of water each year from the Yangtze, hundreds of miles away. Apart from financial and potential environmental costs, the NYTimes reports that the project's "human cost is staggering" with some 350,000 villagers relocated.
   
  Fighting, From Above and Below, in Libya and Sudan
  While NATO resumed air strikes on Libya's capital this week, President Barak Obama called for an end to the fighting in Sudan that threatens the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The CPA was meant to bring an end to the country's 21-year civil war. 
   
Energy & Environment
   
  Pretty in Plastic
  Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been competing recently to see who can eschew plastic in the loudest, most attention gathering (i.e. market-share gaining) way. They've been going back and forth with headlines such as "World's First 100 Percent Plant-Based, Renewably Sourced PET Bottle" (Pepsi), "Odwalla First to Market with up to 100 Percent PlantBottle™ Packaging" (Coke), and as the eco-identity bidding war escalated: "Pepsi bottles: no more plastic" (Christian Science Monitor), "Coca Cola—designing bottles from recycled plastic and plant by-product" (Guardian). But as Slate reports, while the bottles are now made with ethanol from renewable sources instead of fossil fuels, they're as plastic as ever.
   
  Bad Karma for Carbon Offsetters
  The IPS reports that a large carbon emission credit fraud scheme has been uncovered, with businesses and governments taking advantage of the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) to 'offset' their excess greenhouse gas emissions through phony emission reduction credits. 
   
  Biofuel Breakthrough
  Researchers at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences have discovered a new type of enzyme that may help catalyze the sustainable production of biofuels by allowing a switch from the use of food plants, such as sugar cane and maize, to biomaterials. The new enzyme type helps break down cellulose and other robust sugar polymers, speeding up enzymatic decomposition and thus making the use of less "valuable" biomass (straw, food-production by-products etc.) more viable.
   
Business & Economy
   
  Year of the Piggy Bank
  Soros says China has missed its chance to curb inflation, and that there are signs China is "losing control." The 80-year-old Soros, speaking at a press conference in Oslo, did not spare Europe or the U.S., adding that they are not "out of the woods at all." Bloomberg reports
   
  Socratic Method
  Euro-zone officials are still arguing about the direction and details of a new aid package for Greece. Deep divisions remain, principally between Germany and the European Central Bank, over how best to involve Greece's private creditors in the financing of the country's increasing public debt. 
   
  Does the Elephant Dance?
  India's economic growth, or lack thereof, and ambitions on the world stage were in the spotlight in several media outlets in the past couple weeks. While the NYTimes focuses on India's rising inflation and stagnating growth, The Economist looks at India's foreign policy in their aim to move beyond Pakistan and share the scene with China. The article takes a recently published book as its starting point (Does the Elephant Dance?: Contemp orary Foreign Policy in India, Dr. Malone). You can read (about) the book even if we're denied access the "subscribers only" article.  
   
Science, Technology, & Design
   
  Do You Dream of Electric Sheep?
  Analog vs. digital, continuous vs. discretized - The winners of the Scientific American and Foundation Questions Institute co-sponsored essay contest, on "Is Reality Digital or Analog", have been announced. The essay contest was open to the public, with 70% of submissions coming from people who were not academic physicists or philosophers. You can see the winning essays here, as they weigh in on both sides of a multi-dimensional debate. 
   
  Google Set to Launch Cell-phone Credit Card 
  Google's emerging Mobile Wallet project is not the first project of its kind to turn the cell phone into a new kind of credit card. But it could be the first project to expand the technology outside of Japan and South Korea. A new study suggests commuters could be key to the m-wallet's success. Maybe Google's expanding live transit data project will help woo the commuters. Check i f the subway is coming on your phone, then swipe it at the turnstile as you run to catch it. 
   
  IQ Speed Limits
  Several months ago this News Digest shared the findings of physicists who were mapping the city in equations. Now, new findings are applying similar principles of physics to the neuronal networks of the human brain. Scientific American has a brief summary here, and will have an online web special within the next few days, here.
   
Urban Environment
   
  Alice in Wunderland 
  After Germany announced its plans to phase out nuclear power by 2022, the question remains of what to do with the country's nuclear plants once the gears stop whirring. InHabitat doesn't have the answer, but it does have pictures of an abandoned German nuclear plant very creatively re-purposed as an amusement park, called Wunderland Kalkar. 
   
  Latino Urbanism
  Plantetzin talks to James Rojas, L.A.-based urban planner, on what he calls "Latino Urbanism," which he describes in part as the way Latino residents have "forged a syncretic vernacular and open-air culture out of streetscapes, buildings, and public facilities that were not intended for them."  It is an unofficial  place-making that often bears little relation to zoning,  formal design elements, and top-down visions. 
   
  Measure for Measure
  The fourth biennial C40 Cities Large Cities Climate Summit took place at the beginning of this month in Sao Paulo, marking the first time it has been held in Latin America. One of the many key moments of the conference was the announcement of the C40 partnership with ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability, to develop a standard for measuring city greenhouse gas emissions. 
   
Culture & Beyond
   
  X Marks the Spot
  V.S. Naipaul has managed to mire himself in controversy again, after claiming he could tell within a paragraph whether it was written by a woman, and that there is no woman writer he considers his equal. Read the Guardian article for his comments, and Harper's for a reaction "On Women Writers and V.S. Naipaul
   
  The Gospel According to the Guardian
  The Guardian gives us its list of top 100 non-fiction books. You can check out the list here , or read their thoughts about the list and add your own suggestions here. 
   
  Designer Backpacking
  Traveling and writing have always gone hand in hand - the book as journey, the journey re-experienced in words. A new travel guide, "Graphic Europe: An Alternative Guide to 31 European Cities" provides a visual twist on the classic travel-writing trope. It puts designers in the front seat, giving us their take on cities across Europe, in a range of graphic styles. The book is a visual journey in itself. Dwell has excerpts.
   
  All right, that's it!

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail us.
 

 

   

 

   
  Wormfood 11 - News Digest - June 1 2011
   
 

Dear Readers,

It's the beginning of June, we're on the cusp of summer, and longer days means more hours to make headlines. This week's news is a study in contradictions, with migrating peoples, shifting trends, more millionaires, constant unemployment, and rising food prices. Egypt's revolution may not mean freedom for all, while the MIT Cities Lab suggests the real transformations in our cities will be subtle. New studies highlight the benefits of migration, bilingualism, and sustainability. Bloomberg looks at how to foster creativity and social entrepreneurs are creatively addressing development. Manifesto Architects have turned bike parking on its head, while Brazil's environmental legacy is being uprooted. 

All this and more in this week's News Digest.

- Rebecca Blum

   
Global News
   
  Syria's Brutal Crackdown
  Syria is waging a brutal repression of protesters. Reports include a body count of approximately 830 people killed in protests so far, and the gruesome torture of a 13 year old boy. The crackdown has been condemned by the U.S., which has also imposed new sanctions on al-Assad and other senior Syrian officials. CNN has a (somewhat graphic) video. This Tuesday Syria claimed it would offer "amnesty" to protesters accused of committing crimes, but it is unclear what this means as the crackdown continues.
   
  The Underbelly of a Revolution
  The revolution in Egypt may not promise equality for all. Women protesters have reportedly suffered abuses in the streets, and been discriminated against in the halls of the still-emerging government. The constitutional committee that shaped the new political process excluded women entirely, while reports of female protesters subjected to "virginity tests" have been confirmed by a senior general. Many from the Coptic Christian minority, like the women who took to the streets, fought for democracy and are now less certain about what the revolution will bring. Christian-Muslim tensions now pose "one of the gravest threats to the revolution's stability" according to the NYTimes.
   
  Serbia: EU Candidacy & Mladic's Arrest
  Ratko Mladic's arrest means he'll be heading to the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague. But does this also mean the path is cleared for Serbia's entrance to the EU? Foreign Policy argues that there are still remaining obstacles. Mladic's arrest is the culmination of a 16 year international effort to bring the long-time fugitive and suspected war crimes suspect to justice. 
   
Energy & Environment
   
  Brazilian Environmental Legacy Threatened
  Brazil has suffered two setbacks to its environmental ambitions: the Brazilian congress approved more lenient laws for farmers that clear Amazon rain forest, on the same day that two prominent anti-logging activists were ambushed and shot dead.
   
  Smart Grids Successful
  The first Smart-Grids trial in the Netherlands is a success. The project, implemented in a 25 house trial in the Northern Netherlands, proved to be functionally and economically viable. This follows a recent successful experiment in Denmark. You can read the article, in Dutch, here.
   
  World Environment Day
  Wednesday June 5th is World Environment Day (WED). This year's WED theme is 'Forests: Nature at Your Service' and celebrations are planned around the world, according to the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP). You can read more about the day on UNEP's website, enter your WED plans here(UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen has pledged to plant a tree for every entry), or browse an A-Z of ideas. 
   
Business & Economy
   
  Millionaires Rising, Despite Recession
  Against the backdrop of an ongoing recession, the rich are getting richer. The number of millionaires increased by about 12% in 2010, led by Singapore and largely fueled by gains in financial markets. Singapore now also has the highest proportion of millionaire households, at 15.5% of the population, followed by Switzerland and Qatar. Read the Boston Consulting Group press release, or the Bloomberg article
   
  The Global Food Crisis, Geocoded 
  The Guardian takes an interactive look at rising food prices. They have keyed in on nine areas around the world that represent distinct aspects of the food crisis. e.g. Kenya and the impact of biofuels, Chinese 'land grabs' in Argentina, etc. See the interactive feature here.
   
  Sustainability Pays
  A recent survey of hundreds of executives in the U.S., Canada, and China reports that execs are surprised by how much it pays to conserve. 72% said that the benefits of sustainability initiatives introduced at their companies exceeded their expectations. According to the survey, the top two motivations for an increased focus on sustainability were investor pressure and increased regulation, as opposed to consumer pressure. The survey, by Accenture, also emphasized the need for better metrics to measure sustainability performance and results. Read the CSRwire Press Release, or the GOOD article here.
   
Science, Technology, & Design
   
  The Revolution Will Not Be Obvious
  BigThink interview with Dr. Mitchell, who passed away this past summer. He was formerly the director of the MIT Smart Cities Lab, who says the real transformations in cities are discrete and unobtrusive, like the smart phone in your pocket. Blade Runner may be further away than we think. 
   
  The Benefits of Bilingualism
  Except seems to attract multilinguals, and now the bilinguals among them have cause to celebrate. New science suggests bilingualism provides benefits at any age, whether its helping strengthen the brain's "executive control system" in the young, or helping stave off Alzheimer's later in life. The NYTimes hasan interview with cognitive neuroscientist, Ellen Bialystok, who has spent nearly 40 years studying the mental benefits of bilingualism. 
   
  Five Innovators Take On Development
  GOOD profiles five most innovative approaches to development. These five social enterprises and non-profits put the creative back into development: from text messaging to fight counterfeit drugs to truly affordable glasses. 
   
Urban Environment
   
  Migration: The Future in Flux
  A new book argues that migration is the "most effective tool yet for reducing global poverty." The book,Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future, makes a compelling case for the net gains for rich countries opening their borders. Read the Economist review here, or see the book on Amazon
   
  Ferris Wheel Bike Storage
  NY-based Manifesto Architecture has designed a vertical, pedal-powered bike storage system that can be installed on the sides of buildings and in alleys, helping cities cope with increased bikers and decreasing space. The structure looks a lot like a multi-colored ferris wheel, and could soon be brightening up city streets.
   
  World's Best Street Food
  Cheap, quick, and authentic - knowing where to get good street food is an essential part of savoring a city, and some cities have a lot more to offer than others. Frommers has just released its World's Best Street Food list. Check out the top 12 cities here.
   
Culture & Beyond
   
  When in Venice
  The 54th Venice Biennale starts this Saturday. Many of the show-stoppers have left the wall and the frame behind, taking over whole rooms, and even cathedrals, to put the experimental at the art of contemporary art. Can't make it to Venice? See the Guardian's photo series here.
   
  How to Foster Creativity
  This Bloomberg editorial looks at how companies and managers can foster creativity, and the common mistakes and best practices that stifle or encourage the alpha brain waves that typically precede an ¨aha!¨ moment. 
   
  Museum Hackers
  For as long as there have been museums, and their hallowed curators' pantheon, there have been disgruntled outsiders challenging those ever-white walls. Flavorpill offers a retrospectives on "museum hackers," with photos and descriptions of the most provocative boundary-breaking pieces throughout the ages. 
   
  All right, that's it, see you in two weeks!

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail us.
 

 

   

 

   
  Wormfood 10 - News Digest - May 18 2011
   
 

Dear Readers,

Fact and fiction, art and life - where does the street end and the screen begin?
This week's News Digest takes it cues from the ongoing Cannes International Film Festival, sharing the bright lights, big city news updates with you in cinematic style. 

A new Gravity Probe circles earth to test the spacetime vortex, Spanish students probe the government by sleeping in plazas, and artists inspire by putting the public back in public space. Scotland looks to Whiskey for energy, biofuel companies shy away from renewables, and pesticides may be breeding invincible bacteria. A combination of simple solutions and smart systems helps us re-envision the mobility of our urban futures, while others question the box-office-defined well-being of our urban present.  The Queen's historic and controversial visit to Ireland, coupled with the recent polemical arrests of Strauss-Kahn and Lauren Gbagbo, confirm that today's headlines are not shot in black and white.

All this and more in this week's Global News Digest, so sit back, relax, and enjoy...

- Rebecca Blum

   
Global News
   
  Some Like it Hot
  This week's arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French head of the IMF and formerly the leading socialist party presidential candidate, turned heads around the globe. He was charged with sexual assault and attempted rape of a hotel housekeeper.Read Matthew Lynn's Bloomberg op-ed on what this means for the IMF, and the Economist's read on what this means for French politics and Greece. 
   
  Far and Away
  The Queen is on a historic first visit to the Republic of Ireland, marking the first time in 100 years that a monarch from the United Kingdom has visited the country, and the first time ever since it gained independence. King George V visited in 1911, when Ireland was still part of the UK. The BBC reports
   
  Out of Africa
  Laurent Gbagbo, former leader of the Ivory Coast, was arrested this April by what was reported to be a mix of U.N. troops, French soldiers, and Ouattara forces (Ouattara was declared winner of the Ivory Coast 2010 presidential elections, a declaration Gbagbo ignored). This week, a London Review of Books article examines his arrest, France's muddy role in the history of the Ivory Coast, and Gbagbo's rise to power. 
   
Energy & Environment
   
  Children of the Corn
  Many biofuel companies are finding the best way to make money is to stay away from biofuels, at least for the time-being. CNET has more
   
  Return of the Killer Tomatoes
  More and more sources of resistant bacteria are cropping up. Last week, antibiotic resistant ESBL was found on more than 12% of vegetables in Dutch supermarkets, roughly half of them of the bio (organic) variety. Researchers suspect fertilizers are the culprit. Dutch readers can access the full article here
   
  Bottle Rocket
  Scotland uses Whiskey to make energy. A new biomass plant in the Scottish village of Rothes has just been approved, and will convert spent grains from distilleries around Scotland into electricity. The plant will also use a Whiskey byproduct called "pot ale", which normally collects unused in the distilleries copper stills, to make fertilizer and animal feed. Read more here.
   
Business & Economy
   
  Students on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
  On the brink of Spanish national elections, and in the wake of the highest unemployment levels in the E.U., protests and sleep-ins are cropping up in Madrid, and beginning to spread to other cities. While the BBC may be overeager in its association of the Madrid protests with those of Egypt, the movement has spread through social media, and is certainly gaining strength and attention. 
   
  Mala Educación
  Last August, student loans surpassed credit cards as the USA’s single largest source of debt, edging ever closer to $1 trillion. Since 1978, the price of tuition at US colleges has increased over 900 percent, 650 points above inflation. To put that number in perspective, housing prices (the bubble that nearly burst the US economy, and then the global one) have increased only fifty points above the Consumer Price Index in the same time-span. N+1 has the full article
   
  It's a Wonderful Life
  Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab, writes in the Harvard Business Review about the "yawning chasm" he sees between "what our economy produces and what you might call a meaningfully well-lived life." He argues that our current economy fosters a vision of the good life based on "hedonic opulence" as opposed to "eudaimonic prosperity." Read the HBR article here. For another take on well-being and eudaimonia read about Dr. Seligman's new book Flourish, in which he talks about ways to gauge flourishing that depart from current happiness indicators. His favorite measures put Denmark and Switzerland at the top of the E.U. pack, while France, Russia, Hungary and Portugal land at the bottom. 
   
Science, Technology, & Design
   
  Modern Times
  An elegant experiment puts Einstein to the test. Gravity Probe B (GP-B), currently orbiting Earth, is designed to test the bending of spacetime around Earth. Einstein's Theory of General Relativity predicts that the Earth's rotation creates a vortex in the fabric of spacetime enveloping our planet, a phenomenon known as "frame dragging." The probe puts this theory to the test. NASA also kindly has a less tech-heavy explanation of the experiment. 
   
  The Blob
  Artist Reuben Margolin has created a building-sized kinetic sculpture starring sign waves and bicycle reflectors, called Nebula. WIRED has a video of the piece in process. 
   
  Tron
  Project Aura, developed by two industrial design students at Carnegie Mellon University, uses rim-mounted LEDs to make night cycling safer, and more colorful. The LEDs change color depending on how fast you ride. You can watch a video and read about the project here
   
Urban Environment
   
  WALL-E
   U.S. artist and designer Candy Chang has transformed a wall in New Orleans into a collective "Before I die..." blackboard wish list.
   
  Blade Runner
  Cisco and Living PlanIT have teamed up to create what they hope will become the largest sustainable development center in Europe. The Global Innovation Center, located in Northern Portugal, will focus on developing business models for smarter, more sustainable, and more connected cities. Read the Cisco press release here
   
  Back to the Future
  The Audi Urban Future Award aims to puts mobility at the heart of future urban development (and they wouldn't mind if Audi could play a critical role as well). In 2010, the Germany-based firm J. Mayer H beat out five other internationally renowned architectural firms to win the competition with their proposal "A.Way", displayed as part of the Venice biennial. The 2011 initiative launched this month in New York as part of the Festival of Ideas for the City
   
Culture & Beyond
   
  Cinema Paradiso
  The Cannes International Film Festival began last week with a splash, flash, and a fistful more fanfare than the recession-sobered festival has boasted in recent years. The Tree of Life, director Terrence Malick's new film, and his fifth in 30 years, has been garnering a lot of the attention, both celebratory and critical. 
   
  Pay It Forward
  A group of Yale University graduates has founded GiftFlow, a non-profit website that facilitates non-monetary exchanges and an economy of giving. They are currently in the Alpha stage of development.
   
  The Man with the Camera
  French street artist/photographer JR won the 2011 TED prize, awarded annually to an "exceptional individual" who is then given $100,000 to fulfill one wish to change the world. In his TED acceptance speech, JR announced his wish to launch a global participatory art project called Inside Out. See some of the project's first urban incarnations here.
   
  All right, that's it, see you in two weeks!

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail us.
 

 

   

 

   
  Wormfood 9 - News Digest - May 5 2011
   
 

Dear Readers,

This week, the world turns on numbers, ballots, bullets, and kilometers. Osama bin Laden's death was heard round the world, 10 years after the man-hunt began. 1,000 gardens are taking root across Africa, while 1/6th of the population is now rootless in China. While Peru readies itself for run-off presidential elections, NASA halted the Endeavor launch 3 hours before take-off. The 10 most innovative companies are named, sustainability branding may be broken, and the U.S. dollar becomes the world's worst performing currency. Demonstrations in England, artistic and traditional, protest the Tate's financial friendship with BP and Barclays' furthering of food price spikes. 

Smart grid parking, record breaking trains, and computer-vision city-modeling now provide new ways to travel. A Dutch scientist traces pigs' love of mud back to fish, while director Werner Hertzog says cave art is at the heart of what makes us human.

All this and more in this week's News Digest...

- Rebecca Blum

 

Bonus: Except has just launched its Polydome Project, a revolutionary approach to commercial agriculture that offers the possibility of net-zero-impact food production. Visit the newly-minted project web page here. Secret extra bonus: Except's Artifical Light Guide released this week.

Global News
   
  Osama bin Laden: Mission Accomplished?
  Osama bin Laden has been killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan. What this actually means, beyond the symbolism, is unclear. The Huffington Post is one of the media outlets questioning how much impact this could actually have, while FastCodeDesign looks at the PR war.
   
  The Year in Numbers
  The Economist presents the year in numbers, drawing on census data from around the world, including China, India, the U.S., Mexico and Britain.  China, the world's most populous country, is aging faster, increasingly urban (at nearly 50% up from 36% in 2000), and increasingly uprooted. The number of migrant workers has nearly doubled since 2000, with 1/6th of the population now working away from their registered home.
   
  Peru: Controversial Presidential Elections
  The runoff round of the Peruvian presidential elections are gaining worldwide attention, as both candidates seek to recast themselves as economic moderates. The elections pit  Keiko Fujimori, daughter of infamous former president Alberto Fujimori, against left wing Ollanta Humala, whom Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa has said he will vote for "unhappily and with fear" as the lesser of two evils.
   
Energy & Environment
   
  Radioactive Rain
  Fukushima leaks are now affecting European rain and, by extension, our vegetable and dairy chain,according to CRIIRAD, the French research body on radioactivity. CRIIRAD is advising pregnant women and babies to forgo eating leafy vegetables or recently made dairy products such as young cheese or milk, since these products concentrate the radioactive iodine-131 isotope that falls from the sky in small concentrations. For the rest of us, there is (apparently) no need to cut back on our spinach milkshakes.
   
  Slow Food Gardens Across Africa
  The international NGO Slow Food has helped plant 1000 gardens across Africa, from Egypt to the Ivory Coast. The 1,000 Gardens in Africa project has connected with local schools, villages, and communities, helping increase indigenous crops and decrease dependence on imported produce. 
"The final objective of this project is food sovereignty and helping local farmers recreate their farming traditions,” says Serena Milano, Secretary General of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity.
   
  Re-branding Sustainability
  Creative Director and GreenBiz writer Marc Stoiber argues that the branding of sustainability is broken, and suggests a shift in language, from "green" to "innovation." 
   
Business & Economy
   
  Food Price Speculating: Edible Commodities
  Anti-poverty campaigners staged demonstrations at the annual meeting of the U.K.-based global financial services company Barclays on Wednesday (April 27), protesting the firm's role in global food price hikes. The protests follow on the heels of research published by the World Development Movement which suggests Barclay's made as much as  £340 million in profit in 2010 alone by speculating on food price fluctuations. The research named Barclay's as one of the top three food commodity traders, along with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
   
  U.S. Dollar Doing Poorly
  The U.S. dollar is the world's worst performing currency over the past three months. Bad news for anyone states-side (ahem). Decelerating growth is not a vote of confidence for the U.S. economy, or president Obama, but could help Obama's goal of doubling exports by 2015, and possibly reduce unemployment. The Economist suggests the U.S. may have something to learn from Europe.
   
  The Magic of Sales
  FastCompany  looks at the 10 most innovative companies in retail. The pantheon boasts a  healthy mix of web-sites, start-ups, and  chains, including Ikea, Groupon, and Apple.
   
Science, Technology, & Design
   
  Endeavor Launch Postponed
  NASA's launch of the space shuttle Endeavor has been postponed until at least May 8th because of mechanical problems (complications in the aft load control assembly box (ALCA-2) for the science buffs out there). The launch of the historic penultimate space shuttle launch was postponed less than four hours before lift off, with the six astronaut team already en route to the shuttle. This will be the last flight in the shuttle's nearly two decade lifespan, due to deliver a 2 billion USD physics experiment to the International Space Station.
   
  IDEO Turns to Crowd sourcing and Development
  Global design and creative consulting firm IDEO has launched OpenIDEO, to explore the possibilities of crowd sourced design. This Fall they will also be launching IDEO.org, the non-profit wing which puts human-centered design at the heart of social change.
   
  A Pig in a Poke
  A Dutch scientist looks at why pigs love mud, examining the relationship between pigs and other "wallowing" mammals such as whales and hippos. The scientist, Marc Bracke of Wageningen University, published research suggesting pigs may not have developed sweat glands because they spent so much time in cool mud, inverting the usual idea that pigs' love of mud comes from a lack of sweat glands. He also suggests the wallowing behavior could have a reproductive role, and be a behavior preserved from the very early evolution from fish.
   
Urban Environment
   
  From Guiding Missiles to Virtual Tourism
  The Swedish company C3 Technologies uses computer-vision technologies to make eerily detailed 3-D models of cities accurate down to 6 in./15 cm. The computer-vision technology was first developed to help guide missiles.
   
  San Francisco Brings Parking into the 21st Century
  San Fran's Smart Parking System uses technology to monitor available parking spots and change prices according to demand. To get a very different, handmade and low-tech vision of the city, take a toothpick tour of San Francisco that an artist spent 35 years constructing. No parking spaces included.
   
  Bullet Train, Eat Your Heart Out
  China now has the fastest train in the world, racing at a speed of more than 380km/h from the central city of Wuhan down to the southern coast.
   
Culture & Beyond
   
  Oil Spill at the Tate
  Artist-activists staged an unsanctioned performance piece in the Tate Britain on the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill. The piece, created by a group called Liberate Tate, was a public critique of the Tate's financially lucrative relationship with BP. GOOD magazine has a video and details.
   
  Mapping the Arab World in Colored Pencils & Pie Charts
  Le Monde Diplomatique has colored-pencil map-graphics charting uprisings, literacy rates, higher education, Internet connectivity, and poverty rates in countries across the Arab world (in English).
   
  Cave Art
  Director Werner Hertzog talks about cave art, the subject of his new eponymously titled documentary. On the impulse to create art, he says "It is all that we have to distinguish ourselves as human beings." Watch for this and other quietly intense observations in this NYTimes video interview.
   
  All right, that's it, see you in two weeks!

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except's people
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Except Integrated Sustainability

Matthew Fraser
Industrial Ecologist, Designer

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Phone   +31 10 7370215

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  • Matthew Fraser

    Industrial Ecologist, Designer