Greenland begins to come in from the cold

First timber cut in Greenland – July, 2005

As world leaders grapple with the perils of climate change, there are parts of the globe where warmer temperatures are welcomed.

The last decade has brought with it markedly higher summer temperatures in the arctic North. In southern Greenland farmers have planted fields of potatoes as the growing season has lengthened.

Plans are afoot to establish forests of Siberian Larch on this windswept and treeless island.

For Greenlanders, all 56,000 of them, the long-term prospect of being able to “grow their own”, from tomatoes to timber, is little short of intoxicating.

Eighty percent of Greenland is covered in ice. For thousands of years Inuit peoples have eked out a precarious living along the coastal fringe, reliant on the sea’s bounty: fish, seals and whales.

But now the climate is changing, and so too are the traditional rhythms of Inuit life…

“We understand that this is a global issue,” Greenland’s softly-spoken premier Kuupik Kleist told me in the capital Nuuk, “but we see opportunities as well as challenges. I want a Greenland that is open to those opportunities.”

This summer Greenland was granted self-rule by Denmark, the old colonial power. Crucially, the new settlement puts control of potentially vast resources in local hands.

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For all you students who would like to major in beer…

A fully functioning micro-brewery is to be built at The University of Nottingham. The facility will enhance its world leading teaching and research in brewing science.

The £2 million state-of-the-art brewing research facility is being built and operated by SABMiller — one of the world’s largest brewing companies. It will be used to research new technologies for the brewing industry aimed at reducing the amount of energy required in the production process by optimising the fermentation process while maintaining beer quality.

The 1000 litre plant, located in the School of Biosciences at Sutton Bonington, will be one of the largest micro-breweries at any university in the world and is due to open its doors in 2011. The facility will be used to deliver courses to train brewers in the production of beer and deliver the University’s flagship masters degree in brewing science. It will be used by SABMiller and the University to develop and rigorously test new technologies and processes to enhance beer quality and shelf life, while improving the sustainability of brewing…

In collaboration with experts from the University’s Faculties of Science and Engineering a series of novel technologies will be developed to optimise the brewing process…

My favorite slogan of all time remains – Better Living Through Chemistry.

Bush/Cheney considered using the military on U.S. soil

President George W. Bush considered using U.S. soldiers to arrest terror suspects in New York.

bush cheney

Quoting unnamed former Bush administration sources, Saturday’s Times reported that Bush in 2002 mulled using federal troops to arrest six men suspected of connections to al-Qaida in Lackawanna, N.Y., despite constitutional prohibitions against using U.S. soldiers in domestic operations.

The officials said former Vice President Dick Cheney, armed with a post-Sept. 11 Justice Department memorandum, argued in a high level meeting that using federal troops to arrest terror suspects on U.S. soil could be justified legally, reportedly saying that since there may not be enough evidence to convict the “Lackawanna Six” in criminal courts, they should be arrested by the U.S. military and held as enemy combatants.

Bush ultimately opted to let the FBI arrest the men, who later pleaded guilty to terror charges. Had he approved the move, the deployment of active-duty military on domestic soil in a law enforcement capacity without specific statutory authority would have been a first since the Civil War.

Shades of posse comitatus, gang! Is there any desecration of the Constitution that wasn’t advocated by the Dark Prince Cheney?

CDC calls for people to quit hoarding, wasting Tamiflu!

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Summer camps should cease handing out Tamiflu to healthy campers to stop camp flu outbreaks, said one leading influenza official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The official, Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center on Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said she “strongly recommended” giving the drug only to people already seriously ill, or to their family members who are pregnant, have asthma or have other conditions that could be life-threatening if they caught the flu.

Giving the drug to healthy people wastes the world’s limited supplies of Tamiflu and increases the chances of drug-resistant strains developing, Dr. Schuchat said, and the disease centers are working with camp associations and local health departments to discourage the practice…

The director of Camp Modin, one of the Maine sleep-away camps that offered prophylactic Tamiflu, disagreed with Dr. Schuchat’s recommendation…

“I understand the concerns of the C.D.C.,” Mr. Salzberg added, “but there is a uniqueness to the camp environment, similar to health care centers and nursing homes. We would have had to release campers and staff members, who would have had to travel all over the world to get home, and probably make the situation worse.”

Camp Modin took the advice of Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor at N.Y.U. Langone Medical Center who writes frequently about the fear of epidemics and whose son attended the camp. Dr. Siegel said he respectfully disagreed with the C.D.C., which he said was “relying on an old protocol” for Tamiflu use…

In her weekly swine flu update, Dr. Schuchat also said the disease centers would follow the lead of the World Health Organization and stop releasing counts of confirmed cases and deaths. It will instead track cities where many people are sick and will release case estimates. There have been more than one million cases in the United States thus far, but only 43,771 are laboratory-confirmed, and the 302 laboratory-confirmed deaths are probably lower than the real number.

Dr. Schuchat also said the centers were now “fully recommending” that children as young as 6 months old get a flu shot every year. In the past, the agency had only “encouraged” shots for children.

Of course, the nutball wing of Libertarians, fundamentalist Christians and just plain ignorant and irascible will continue their complaints against [1] “Forced Vaccination” – which doesn’t exist for flu in the U.S.; [2] the “danger” of flu vaccination – which hasn’t been realistic since production regs were changed in 1975 – thirty-four fracking years ago.

In my personal experience, these are the folks most likely to hoard Tamiflu, as well. Except for those who think they’re protected by praying a lot.

Want to undo your salvation? Our operators are here to help you.

Up until last summer, Jennifer Gray of Columbus, Ohio, considered herself “a weak Christian” whose baptism at age 11 in a Kentucky church came to mean less and less to her as she gradually lost faith in God.

Then the 32-year-old medical transcriptionist took a decisive step, one that previously hadn’t been available. She got “de-baptized.”

In a type of mock ceremony that’s now been performed in at least four states, a robed “priest” used a hairdryer marked “reason” in an apparent bid to blow away the waters of baptism once and for all. Several dozen participants then fed on a “de-sacrament” (crackers with peanut butter) and received certificates assuring they had “freely renounced a previous mistake, and accepted Reason over Superstition….”

Within the past year, “de-baptism” ceremonies have attracted as many as 250 participants at atheist conventions in Ohio, Texas, Florida and Georgia. More have taken place on college campuses in recent years, according to Hemant Mehta, chair of the board of directors for the Secular Student Alliance, a group that promotes atheism among high school and college students….

In Christian theology, baptism can’t be undone. If a Southern Baptist renounces his or her baptism, then that person is usually presumed to have never received an authentic baptism in the first place, according to Nathan Finn, assistant professor of Baptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

Personally I like the Southern Baptist aesopian response best: Your first baptism was sour anyway. Har!

Food tattoos – tasty or just plain demented?

There is a tattoo trend afoot. We’ve had dolphins, ancient symbols, “ironic” sailor tattoos and now I give you … the food tattoo…

When Lulu Grimes of Olive magazine Twittered these food tattoos I thought it was a pretty funny joke. But it turns out these are real tattoos. As in, these people are stuck with them forever.

Don’t get me wrong, I love food. I spend much too much time planning what I will eat next and have many favourite foods. Most of them involve cheese. But, never in all my days of scraping the last crumb of Stilton off the rind, have I considered marking my love of the stinky cheese in a permanent fashion.

The shaven-headed man pictured above loves fried breakfasts so much that he sports a full English on his shiny pate. At least he could grow his hair back to cover it up, although the thought of a baked bean peeking out of his parting makes me feel a little nauseous. A woman has a cherry-topped cupcake on her foot, but look a little closer and the cherry is a skull. Sinister. And weird. Yet another shows a piece of toast, complete with smiling face, spreading itself with jam. The toast looks happy enough, I wonder whether the owner of the tat is quite so jolly?

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McGinnis Company offers barges for electric rivers

Hydro Green Energy’s 4-turbine river package

An Ohio company is seeking to anchor barges at 11 spots along the Ohio River, including Louisville, as part of a potential $22 million “green” initiative to turn river current into electrical current.

The barges, with submerged turbines, would each generate relatively little electricity — enough to power about 260 typical homes…

The Ohio River project, proposed by McGinnis Inc., of South Point, Ohio, would include one barge anchored just below the McAlpine dam in Louisville and near the locks in an area that isn’t used for navigation. The 10 other Ohio River sites also would be located just downstream from existing dams…

The McAlpine project, like its other McGinnis counterparts, would consist of a 100- to 300-foot barge, 20 to 52 feet wide, anchored by steel poles, according to documents filed with FERC.

Ten turbines about 7 feet wide would be mounted along the sides of the barge.

An armored high voltage line would run from the barge to an existing power line nearby, to plug into the electric grid…

I can build these units myself. I can support these units myself,” he said.

McGinnis said he’s willing to invest as much as $2million developing each of the 11 stations, along with two more on the Kanawha River in West Virginia.

Yup. I still get pissed off about the fact that we could have been doing this for thirty years or so. Thank the candyass Blue Dog Democrats who thought the sun rose and set in Ronald Reagan’s butt for that hiatus in alternative energy experiments.

People like McGinnis have always had the smarts and experience to build projects like this. Given the chance – instead of government and corporate opposition.