Israeli Settlers desecrate West Bank mosque

An overnight attack on the West Bank village of Huwwara is believed to be the work of Israeli settlers, the Israeli army said Wednesday.

More than 300 olive trees were uprooted, two cars were set afire and a mosque in the town was spray painted with racist slogans, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.

Tensions between Palestinian residents of Huwwara and Jewish residents in the nearby Israeli settlements of Yitzhar flared up in recent weeks after two settlers were wounded in a stone-throwing incident.

Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon, commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, called the vandalism to Huwwara “unacceptable” and ordered an immediate investigation, The Jerusalem Post reports.

Uh-Huh.

Telecom with a heart – and 50 customers

A UK village which raised £37,000 to offer 200 homes the super-fast broadband that BT could not deliver has launched its network.

Rutland Telecom will offer the residents of Lyddington speeds of up to 40Mbps. Other telecom firms had said it was not economical to provide fast services to the village…

The Rutland Telecom scheme was a joint effort between villagers fed up with slow broadband speeds and a local ICT firm that was reselling BT’s broadband.

“We found that any company could do, on a smaller scale, what Carphone Warehouse has done and take over BT’s network,” said Dr David Lewis, managing director of Rutland Telecom.

They asked Openreach, the BT spin-off that has responsibility for the UK’s telephone network, to supply fibre-optic cable to a street cabinet in the village. It was a slow process and required the intervention of regulator Ofcom but two years later the telco is up and running and already has 50 customers.

“For the first time in UK telecommunications history the telephone lines of customers are completely cut off from the local BT exchange,” said Rutland Telecom director Mark Melluish.

Rutland Telecom has been approached by 40 other rural community groups to see if a similar solution is possible in their area.

We have one community east of my neck of the prairie that’s done something similar. It can be done – though it may not surprise anyone to learn that state and local governments can be your enemy, opposing access as strongly as a national Telcom might.

As for the folks who created Rutland Telecom – Bravo!

Whale meat in sushi restaurants came from Japan


4 species of whale + 1 dolphin on this plate

An international team of Oregon State University scientists, documentary filmmakers and environmental advocates has uncovered an apparent illegal trade in whalemeat, linking whales killed in Japan’s controversial scientific whaling program to sushi restaurants in Seoul, South Korea, and Los Angeles, Calif.

Genetic analysis of sashimi served at a prominent Los Angeles sushi restaurant in October of 2009 has confirmed that the strips of raw meat purchased by filmmakers of the Oscar-winning documentary, “The Cove,” came from a sei whale – most likely from Japanese “scientific whaling.”

“The sequences were identical to sei whale products that had previously been purchased in Japan in 2007 and 2008, which means they not only came from the same area of the ocean – but possibly from the same distinct population,” said Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University, who conducted the analysis.

“And since the international moratorium on commercial hunting (1986), there has been no other known source of sei whales available commercially other than in Japan,” Baker added. “This underscores the very real problem of the illegal international trade of whalemeat products.

“Our ability to use genetics as a tool to monitor whale populations around the world has advanced significantly over the past few years,” Baker said, “but unless we have access to all of the data – including those whales killed under Japan’s scientific whaling – we cannot provide resource managers with the best possible science.

The hypocrisy and deceit of fishery managers in Japan matches the lowest standards in commercial history. It will take individuals around the world voting with their non-purchase of Japanese goods to change things.

Fortunately, most governments haven’t figured out how to make boycotts illegal. Though some have tried.

Giant natural particle accelerators forming above thunderstorms

A lightning researcher at the University of Bath has discovered that during thunderstorms, giant natural particle accelerators can form 40 km above the surface of the Earth…

When particularly intense lightning discharges in thunderstorms coincide with high-energy particles coming in from space (cosmic rays), nature provides the right conditions to form a giant particle accelerator above the thunderclouds…

These are energetic events and for the blink of an eye, the power of the electron beam can be as large as the power of a small nuclear power plant…

The zone above thunderstorms has been a suspected natural particle accelerator since the Scottish physicist and Nobel Prize winner Charles Thomson Rees Wilson speculated about lightning discharges above these storms in 1925.

In the next few years five different planned space missions (the TARANIS, ASIM, CHIBIS, IBUKI and FIREFLY satellites) will be able to measure the energetic particle beams directly.

Dr Martin Fullekrug comments: “It’s intriguing to see that nature creates particle accelerators just a few miles above our heads. Once these new missions study them in more detail from space we should get a far better idea of how they actually work. They provide a fascinating example of the interaction between the Earth and the wider Universe.”

Recently watched a documentary on this phenomenon – minus this latest analysis and understanding – on one of the HD documentary channels. Some superb aerial photography.

RTFA to see how these were predicted and measured.

As natural as these occurrences are – we should be able to get some nutballs going out of their minds on the likelihood of a spontaneous black hole emerging from a thunderstorm and gobbling up the Earth. Or at least Hull.

The Decline and Fall of the Capitalist Empire, Part Two: CEO gets $4 million to cutback personal use of corporate jet!

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The chief executive of Abercrombie & Fitch is being paid $4 million to curb his personal use of the company plane. Michael Jeffries previously had unlimited use of the firm’s aircraft.

In 2008, his personal use incurred costs of $1.1 million. Now, if he exceeds $200,000 a year he must reimburse the teen retailer.

Mr Jeffries would also have to pay some of the $4 million back if he were to leave the company without “good reason” before his contract runs out in February 2014.

Mr Jeffries’ personal use of the plane averaged about $850,000 a year between 2006 and 2008, according to previous company regulatory filings.

The “let ’em eat cake” mentality of our corporate overseers seems boundless.

Our most notorious politicians ape teabagger slogans to claim leadership of current populist hypocrisy – then play kissy-kissy with lobbyists representing the same corporate slugs as soon as legislation with any potential of affecting profits tries to sneak under the door of Congress – or Parliament.

I admit, sometimes, I’m in a quandary over who deserves the most contempt. Corporate leeches, political lackeys – or the ignorant fools who re-elect the political crud running our nation on the basis of 18th-Century religious slogans.

‘Clever Little Bag’ reinvents the shoebox

Spending 21 months redesigning a shoebox might not seem like the most effective use of a person’s time, let alone a multinational company. But that’s precisely how long German sports lifestyle company Puma has invested creating a new shoe bag aimed at reducing waste.

The “Clever Little Bag,” which was unveiled Tuesday at a press conference at the UK’s Design Museum in London, aims to cut paper usage by 65 percent and lower manufacturing waste by 60 percent.

The new packaging system has been created for Puma by industrial designer Yves Behar, the Swiss-born founder of the San Francisco design studio, fuseproject, and creator of the jawbone bluetooth headphone and One Laptop Per Child computer.

The bag — made from recycled plastic — encases a single sheet of ink-free recycled cardboard. When the bags are made available in the second half of 2011, customers will be encouraged to reuse the bag and recycle the cardboard.

RTFA. Delightful. Real industrial design is one of those crafts – combining engineering and art – that can be one of the most useful segments of the whole design-production-marketing cycle.

Behar did a lovely job. Came up with a winner. And kids can still store sea shells in it.

Boy Scouts of America must pay sexual abuse damages

A Multnomah County Circuit Court jury found this morning that the Boy Scouts were negligent and awarded non-economic damages of $1.4 million to a man who was sexually abused as a Scout in the 1980s.

Punitive damages will be determined in a second phase of the trial.

Nine out of the 12 jurors found Boy Scouts of America and its local body, the Portland-based Cascade Pacific Council, negligent in the lawsuit brought by plaintiff Kerry Lewis, who is now 38…

The jury found that the Boy Scouts of America was liable for 60 percent of the negligence and the Cascade Pacific Council was responsible for 15 percent. Together they will have to pay Lewis $1.05 million.

The jury determined that the remaining 25 percent — $350,000 — is the responsibility of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had coordinated Lewis’ Scout program in Southeast Portland. But the church will not have to pay its share of the $1.4 million verdict because it settled with Lewis last year for an undisclosed amount…

Overdue.

We covered this at the start of the trial. The molesting – apparently – went on for years.

The pedophile responsible has admitted to molesting seventeen boys.