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Archive for July 22nd, 2012

Landslip uncovers hundreds of deadly WW2 bombs and rockets

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A holiday beach was cordoned off after a landslip sent more than 1,000 deadly bombs and rockets embedded in the cliffs for more 60 years tumbling onto the sands.

The East Riding beach of Mappleton, near Hornsea, was used as a practice bombing range during the Second World War – but the bad weather has led to ground movement which exposed one of the biggest arsenals ever uncovered yesterday…

Coastguards say the odd item of explosives often turn up in dribs and drabs after being embedded in the cliffs for decades in the area.

But over the weekend, a landslip caused by the combination of heavy rain and coastal erosion exposed at least 1,000 weapons.

Coastguards say that most of them are probably dummy or practice rounds – but they still contain enough explosive to cause terrible injuries…

Army experts are hoping to remove some of the smaller items but some will have to be blown up on site in controlled explosions, Humber Coastguard said…

“Because there is such a great number of them what we do not want is people wandering around picking up the odd trophy to put on the mantel piece.

I wonder where I put the practice hand grenade I’ve been carrying around from place to place for 50 years or so? :)

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Written by Ed Campbell

July 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm

“We took a rat apart and rebuilt it as a jellyfish”

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Using rat heart cells and silicone polymer, researchers have bioengineered a “jellyfish” that knows how to swim.

The odd jellyfish mimic, dubbed a “Medusoid” by its creators, is more than a curiosity. It’s a natural biological pump, just like the human heart. That makes it a good model to use to study cardiac physiology, said study researcher Kevin Kit Parker, a bioengineer at Harvard University.

“The idea is to look at a muscular pump other than the heart or other muscular organ and see if there are some fundamental similarities, or design principles, that are conserved across them,” Parker told LiveScience. “This study revealed that there are…”

The ingredients were rat heart muscle cells and a thin silicone film…Along with researchers from the California Institute of Technology, he and his team engineered the cells and silicone in a pattern that mimicked the structure of a real jellyfish. They then stuck the creature in a tank full of electrically conducting fluid and zapped it with current.

The result was a swimming, pulsating creature that acts not unlike a real jellyfish

Parker is interested in using the Medusoids for cardiovascular drug development and as a step in new designs for artificial hearts. He also has plans to go bigger.

The next step, he said, is to “pick another animal that has a more difficult anatomy and function, and build it. Give me a year or two!”

My kind of scientist. As interested in the next challenge as the success of his last work.

Written by Ed Campbell

July 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm

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Written by Ed Campbell

July 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm

“Quote approval” is another media sellout

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A New York Times front-page article Monday detailed a new phenomenon in news coverage of the presidential campaign: candidates insisting on “quote approval,” telling reporters what they can and cannot use in some stories. And, stunningly, reporters agreeing to it.

This, folks, is news. Any way you look at it, this is a jaw-dropping turn in journalism, and it raises a lot of questions. Among them: Can you trust the reporters and news organizations who do this? Is it ever justified on the candidate’s side or on the reporter’s side? Where is this leading us..?

Essentially, what the Times described was the rapid rise of “quote approval” — a strategy deployed by campaigns requiring reporters to send quotations they intend to use to candidates’ press officers, to be sliced, diced, edited and drained of color or unwanted consequences, and reporters going along, fearing that if they don’t, they won’t get access…

Let us mark well this Faustian bargain. It is for the benefit of the politicians, at the expense of readers, listeners and viewers. It is not in the public interest; it is designed to further the candidates’ interests.

Political operatives cannot be blamed for wanting this. We, the press, should be held accountable for letting them have it.

The practice described in the Times is something new and different. This is the officials or candidates regularly insisting that reporters essentially become an operative arm of the administration or campaign they are covering.

“Quote approval” nullifies, or at least seriously dilutes, reporters’ ability and duty to be honest brokers of information. When the quotes are sanitized, then delivered intact with full attribution, the public has no way of knowing what the concealed deal was…

But we journalists can do better. We must.

I generally watch Rather’s Tuesday night program on AXS TV. It’s rewarding to see what he offers now that he has no corporate editor overseeing content.

His best quote in the body of this article is…”One of the most important roles of our journalists is to be watchdogs. Submitting to these new tactics puts us more in the category of lapdogs”. All too often what we get from our journalists is the work of lapdogs satisfied with the tidbits they’re handed by corporate PR hacks.

Why should we expect any different from their relationship with politicians? They serve the same masters.

Written by Ed Campbell

July 22, 2012 at 10:00 am

Global elite hide $21 trillion from tax collectors worldwide

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A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary $21 trillion of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.

James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released exclusively to the Observer.

He shows that at least $21 trillion – perhaps up to $32 trillion – has leaked out of scores of countries into secretive jurisdictions such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands with the help of private banks, which vie to attract the assets of so-called high net-worth individuals. Their wealth is, as Henry puts it, “protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy”. According to Henry’s research, the top 10 private banks, which include UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, as well as the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, managed more than $6.5 trillion in 2010, a sharp rise from $2.5 trillion five years earlier.

The detailed analysis in the report, compiled using data from a range of sources, including the Bank of International Settlements and the International Monetary Fund, suggests that for many developing countries the cumulative value of the capital that has flowed out of their economies since the 1970s would be more than enough to pay off their debts to the rest of the world…

The problem here is that “the assets of these countries are held by a small number of wealthy individuals while the debts are shouldered by the ordinary people of these countries through their governments,” the report says…

Leaders of G20 countries have repeatedly pledged to close down tax havens since the financial crisis of 2008, when the secrecy shrouding parts of the banking system was widely seen as exacerbating instability. But many countries still refuse to make details of individuals’ financial worth available to the tax authorities in their home countries as a matter of course…

And here in the United States, we are told we should kneel and pray in the direction of the Republican Party, vote to elect a leading representative of the tax cheats this report is all about – to be president of the country.

Written by Ed Campbell

July 22, 2012 at 6:00 am

Oops! C-17 Globemaster in surprise landing at small island airport

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Click on photo for video of landing – and takeoff

A military cargo plane that typically requires 3,500 feet for takeoff landed unexpectedly Friday at Peter O. Knight Airport, where the longest runway is 95 feet short.

Work began immediately to lighten the load of the 174-foot-long aircraft so that it might leave Davis Islands safely.

The drama ended at 8:27 p.m., when the C-17 Globemaster III took a hop over Hillsborough Bay to MacDill, the original destination. It landed just a few minutes later.

It was unclear why the plane, headed to MacDill, made an unscheduled landing at the small airport near downtown Tampa. Master Sgt. Bryan Gatewood, a spokesman for MacDill Air Force Base, said authorities are investigating…

Peter O. Knight is a general aviation airport operated by the Aviation Authority.

It has two runways, including a smaller one that is 2,688 feet and a larger one that is 3,405 feet. The longest runway at MacDill is 11,421 feet.

Focus, concentrate, pay attention to your job. :)

Written by Ed Campbell

July 22, 2012 at 2:00 am

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