Driver loses control – lands car on church roof


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A German motorist missed a bend in the road, broke through a barrier and hurtled up a bank, crash-landing on a church roof in eastern Germany.

The bank acted like a springboard, propelling the black Skoda about 35 meters (115 ft) forward and straight into the church’s roof frame, where it remained wedged 7 meters off the ground, police said in a statement.

We’ve never ever had a case of a car landing in a church before,” said Frank Fischer, a spokesman for Chemnitz police in the state of Saxony.

The 23-year-old driver suffered serious injuries. The damage to the car, which was extracted from the roof by a crane, amounts to about 10,000 euros ($13,000), police said. The cost of damage to the church has not yet been estimated.

Har!

Portugal starts to revive their salt industry


Traditional salt-making, hand harvesting
Daylife/AFP/Getty Images

In the early 1990s, João Navalho, a microbiologist fresh out of graduate school, came to the salt marshes in the Algarve region with a handful of young partners to grow and harvest microalgae. The business foundered…After years of frustrated effort, the partners suddenly changed course. “We looked around and said, ‘We’re stupid!”‘ Navalho recalled. “We have a lot of land here. What we should do with the salinas is produce salt!”…

Like everything else in this undertaking, the answer was staring them in the face. Living on the edge of the marshes was Maximino António Guerreiro, a sunburned retired salt worker with a grizzled beard and missing teeth, who started harvesting here with his father more than four decades ago.

In 1997, the salt project began. Guerreiro cleaned out and rebuilt the long-abandoned patchwork of rectangular, clay-lined salt beds. With young workers from Eastern Europe, he opened sluices from the sea and set up a damming system to control the water flow. He shared the secrets of salt: how to measure evaporation levels and determine the correct salt density and water temperature, when to add water and to rake and skim.

Two years later, Necton, the salt company that Navalho created here, produced its first salt crop. Now it is one of the region’s new salt pioneers, struggling to revive what was once a flourishing trade in this part of Portugal. They are trying to persuade consumers of the health and taste benefits of handmade, nonindustrial salt and to compete in an increasingly sophisticated global salt market. “Life begins in the ocean,” Navalho said. “What we are selling is ocean salt water without the water. Call it sea dust.”

To many people, salt is salt. But to those for whom it is a gourmet condiment, few varieties compare to the crème de la crème of salt known as fleur de sel, harvested by gently skimming the white, lacy film from the surface of salty beds when weather conditions in summer allow.

RTFA. Lots of interesting history. A fair piece of info about the craft.

I have a favorite sea salt – though I won’t bring it up since it has naught to do with the article. I think all the methods and styles have a place – just like all the denominations of olive oil or where your favorite scallops grow. The flavor is in the taste buds of the taster.

Gaza aid appeal blacklisted by BBC and Sky-TV

gaza

The usual crap excuses apply. Regardless, it still boils down to the gutting of BBC integrity by Blair – and right-wing business as usual from Murdoch and his Sky flunkys.

They could perform just the tiniest bit of good by allowing these appeals for aid on their networks. That is not as important as space under the sheets with reactionary politicians.

Wallet-sized malaria tests for developing world


Paul Yager

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a prototype malaria test printed on a disposable Mylar card that could easily slip into your wallet and still work when you took it out, even months later.

Paul Yager, UW bioengineering professor, and colleagues described the prototype cards in the December issue of the journal Lab on a Chip. These cards are a critical step in a long-term project funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative to develop affordable, easy-to-use diagnostic tools for the developing world.

“A pivotal issue in having this technology work is making these tests storable for long periods of time at ambient temperatures,” Yager said. “Normally people work with wet reagents. We’re saying we can dry the reagents down in order to store them without refrigeration. It’s the astronaut-food approach.”

The malaria cards contain reagents that would normally require refrigeration, but the researchers figured out a way to stabilize them in dry form by mixing them with sugar. Results showed that malaria antibodies dried in sugar matrices retained 80 percent to 96 percent of their activity after 60 days of storage at elevated temperatures.

While the prototype developed by the UW researchers only tests for malaria, Yager and his collaborators are working towards cards that also will test for five other diseases that, like malaria, cause high-fever symptoms: dengue, influenza, Rickettsial diseases, typhoid and measles. The “fever panel” of six diseases is merely a starting point, Yager said. The UW technology could be adapted to include other diseases in the future.

Third World, developing nations, anyplace with substandard access to medical diagnosis – all will benefit from research like this. RTFA. The Bil and Melinda Gates Foundation is picking up the tab.

Monster.com hacked – user data stolen

monster

Monster.com is advising its users to change their passwords after data including e-mail addresses, names and phone numbers were stolen from its database. The break-in comes just as the swelling ranks of the unemployed are turning to sites like Monster.com to look for work.

The company disclosed on its Web site that it recently learned its database had been illegally accessed. Monster.com user IDs and passwords were stolen, along with names, e-mail addresses, birth dates, gender, ethnicity, and in some cases, users’ states of residence. The information does not include Social Security numbers, which Monster.com said it doesn’t collect, or resumes.

USAJobs.com, the U.S. government Web site for federal jobs, is hosted by Monster.com and was also subject to the data theft. USAJobs.com also posted a warning about the breach.

The company advised users to change their passwords and reminded them to ignore e-mails they may get that purport to be from the company and that ask for password information or instruct the user to download anything.

I think it’s reasonably creepy that monster.com isn’t directly contacting users whose accounts were compromised. Is that arrogance or are they just cheapskates?

Should Auschwitz be left to decay – and disappear?


Reminder at the edge of Track 17, Grunewald Station, Berlin
Daylife/Getty Images

On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, two experts on Auschwitz argue for and against the idea that the former Nazi death camp should be allowed to crumble away.

ROBERT JAN VAN PELT, HISTORIAN AND AUTHOR

Many Auschwitz survivors have told me that a visit to the camp can teach little to those who were not imprisoned there.

Their view is best summarised in the text of Alain Resnais’ celebrated movie Night and Fog (1955), written by the camp survivor Jean Cayrol. As the camera pans across the empty barracks, the narrator warns the viewer that these remains do not reveal the wartime reality of “endless, uninterrupted fear”. The barracks offer no more than “the shell, the shadow”.

Should the world marshal enormous resources to preserve empty shells and faint shadows?

Continue reading

Is Sarah Palin is shopping a book for $11 million?


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If you thought being governor of Alaska and a new grandmother would be enough to fill the cold, dark nights in the Arctic state, you underestimate Sarah Palin, the failed vice presidential candidate.

Palin has reportedly enlisted the services of Robert Barnett, the Washington lawyer who represented President Obama, would-be President Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton in their multimillion-dollar book deals.

Barnett declined to comment. But a variety of published sources, including the Hollywood Reporter, said that Barnett was on board in helping to sell a Palin book. Presumably, the book would tell her side of the 2008 presidential election, when the GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, plucked Palin out of relative obscurity and offered her the vice presidential spot. Though she was a darling of conservatives and ignited the Republican base whenever she appeared in public, Palin has made it known that she had a difficult time with McCain’s strategists…

Sources close to Palin today rejected the reports of the $11-million figure and said the governor had not talked to any publisher or given any number…In any case, there is more than money at stake. Palin has been trying to stay in the spotlight, presumably with an eye on 2012, and a book could help her extend her reach beyond Alaska.

Poisonally, I hope she stays in the forefront – along with all the other rightwing populist-pretenders – in control of the Republikan Party through the 2012 elections. Should help Obama get a second term – and hopefully clear out more R&D deadwood along the way.

Thank, Mr. Justin

Shock revelation of sources of South Asia’s Brown Cloud


Daylife/AP Photo by Sucheta Das

A gigantic brownish haze from various burning and combustion processes is blanketing India and surrounding land and oceans during the winter season. This soot-laden Brown Cloud is affecting South Asian climate as much or more than carbon dioxide and cause premature deaths of 100 000s annually, yet its sources have been poorly understood.

Uh, if there’s anyone who doesn’t have a clue about the origins of this Brown Cloud they must work either in newspaper publishing or for one or another government of half-wits.

In the journal Science Örjan Gustafsson and colleagues at Stockholm University and in India use a novel carbon-14 method to determine that two-thirds of the soot particles are from biomass combustion such as in household cooking and in slash-and-burn agriculture.
Brown Clouds, covering large parts of South and East Asia, originate from burning of wood, dung and crop residue as well as from industrial processes and traffic.

These findings provide a direction for actions to curb emissions of Brown Clouds. Örjan Gustafsson…leader of the study, says that the clear message is that efforts should not be limited to car traffic and coal-fired power plants but calls on fighting poverty and spreading India-appropriate green technology to limit emissions from small-scale biomass burning. “More households in South Asia need to be given the possibility to cook food and get heating without using open fires of wood and dung” says Gustafsson.

South Asia has to deal with the worldwide whine – based in Wall Street and Washington, DC – which uses the Brown Cloud as an excuse for reactionary nationalist politics.

Some of us recall exactly the same brown cloud over Glasgow and London when they still were urban centers of cesspool-level air quality – because half the population cooked and heated in their homes with open coal fires [as does China, today]. It took decades but the “Auld Reekie” syndrome eventually dissipated with access to sufficient electricity and gas for cooking and heating.

No doubt Asian nations will achieve the same.