Indonesia hosting world’s biggest Geothermal energy forum

Geothermal power plant in Iceland

Indonesia is hosting what is being called the world’s biggest Geothermal energy conference.

The congress in Bali is an attempt to look at how to better develop geothermal power as an environmentally friendly fuel for the future…

It is often dubbed volcano power but the correct scientific explanation for geothermal energy is power extracted from the heat stored in the Earth’s core.

Indonesia has ambitious plans to tap geothermal power…The archipelago of more than 17,000 islands sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” – one of the most active regions in the world for volcanic activity…

Scientists say that in theory the planet’s geothermal power is enough to supply mankind’s energy needs and could certainly help to solve Indonesia’s fuel problems.

But the issue is cost. While environmentally friendly, the harnessing of geothermal power is also a very expensive endeavour.

Reports from the conference just might provide some info, some hope, some idea of folks realizing that a little extra time and money means a great deal to the future of energy production.

Or we can continue with the same short-sighted analysis of commerce and production that gets the world – repeatedly – into disaster-laden corners.

Mass rally in Japan against US base on Okinawa

Supporters rally in Tokyo

Demonstrators have gathered at a rally in Okinawa, Japan, to protest against a US military air base on the island.

Sunday’s rally, near Kadena air base, the largest US military facility in the Asia-Pacific region, is expected to include Hirokazu Nakaima, Okinawa’s governor, and more than 30 town mayors.

Many on the island are unhappy with the heavy American military presence – a legacy of Japan’s World War II defeat – complaining of noise, pollution and frictions with US soldiers.

The issue threatens the political future of Yukio Hatoyama, the prime minister, who has staked his job on settling the issue.

The row centres on the unpopular Futenma US Marine Corps Air Station, which under a 2006 deal between Tokyo and Washington, was to be moved from the crowded city of Ginowan to the quieter coastal Henoko area of Okinawa.

After taking power in September in a landslide election, Hatoyama said the base may be moved off the island entirely instead…

Under the 2006 agreement – which requires legal approval from Nakaima, the Okinawa governor – Futenma facilities would be shifted to reclaimed land around Camp Schwab in Henoko and about 8,000 marines would move to the US territory of Guam.

Japan, which committed to pacifism in its post-WWII constitution, relies heavily on the US, its treaty partner, for its security.

And we all know how important that has been.

Crap! Japan never exactly faced invasion by Chinese hordes throughout the Glory Days of the Cold War. China’s more likely to send someone over with a checkbook, nowadays – and buy the Ginza!

Get the bloody troops off Japanese territory, bring ’em home, quit spending 6-figures apiece on sustaining each soldier-ambassador of American democracy.

Chicken antibodies may help prevent H5N1 pandemic

Scientists have discovered for the first time that antibodies in common eggs laid by hens vaccinated against the H5N1 virus can potentially prevent a possible H5N1 pandemic, raising the possibility that the same principle could be applied to the current H1N1 influenza pandemic…

“Our tests show proof-of-concept that antibodies, or the antiviral proteins ‘immunoglobulins Y (IgY),’ found in consumable eggs laid by vaccinated hens may be an affordable, safe, and effective alternative for the control of influenza outbreaks, including the current H1N1 pandemic,” said Dr. Huan Huu Nguyen, an immunologist at the IVI and the lead author of the study.

The scientists isolated H5N1-specific antibodies from consumers’ eggs sold in Vietnam, where hens are vaccinated against the pathogen, and tested them against infections with H5N1 and related H5N2 strains in mice. When delivered into the nose before infection, the antibodies from the egg yolk prevented the infection. When administered after infection, the same antibodies reduced the severity of the infection, enabling mice to recover from the disease.

The chicken antibodies could be administered as a nasal spray. This form of ‘passive vaccination’ could also be applied to prevent disease caused by the current pandemic H1N1, using egg yolk antibodies from hens vaccinated against the H1N1 virus…

The International Vaccine Institute (IVI) is the world’s only international organization devoted exclusively to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines for the world’s poorest people, especially children in developing countries.

Obviously part of the worldwide socialist plot against American insurance companies and Congress.

Kudos to the researchers for the many children whose lives may be saved.

More security holes in smart cards – and American passports

Since 2007, every new U.S. passport has been outfitted with a computer chip. Embedded in the back cover of the passport, the “e-passport” contains biometric data, electronic fingerprints and pictures of the holder, and a wireless radio frequency identification (RFID) transmitter.

Although the system was designed to operate at close range, hackers were able to access it from afar — until research by Prof. Avishai Wool of Tel Aviv University’s School of Electrical Engineering helped ensure that the computer chip in American e-passports could be read only when the passport is opened. The research has been cited by organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Now, a new study from Prof. Wool finds serious security drawbacks in similar chips that are being embedded in credit, debit and “smart” cards. The vulnerabilities of this electronic approach — and the vulnerability of the private information contained in the chips — are becoming more acute. Using simple devices constructed from $20 disposable cameras and copper cooking-gas pipes, Prof. Wool and his students Yossi Oren and Dvir Schirman have demonstrated how easily the cards’ radio frequency (RF) signals can be disrupted…

RTFA. How to win friends and influence elections, border crossings and other security-conscious installations – with just a little investment and ingenuity.

Alan Sillitoe dies

Novelist Alan Sillitoe died today at the age of 82, his family said.

The Nottingham-born writer, whose novels marked him out as one of the Angry Young Men of British fiction who emerged in the 1950s, died at Charing Cross hospital in London.

His son, David, said he hoped his father would be remembered for his contribution to literature…

There was a period when Sillitoe was the most widely read writer in the English language in the world. Not just for his first two novels; but, his heartfelt contempt for Western politics and the move from serious dialectical conflict to media management.

He rejected Cold War ideology out of hand.

Sillitoe left school at 14 and worked in a bicycle factory in his native Nottingham before serving in the RAF.

His breakthrough came with the publication of the novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning in 1958.

It was made into a film, starring Albert Finney, as was his next novel The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner, which featured Tom Courtenay in the lead role.

The opening scene in the film version of “Saturday night and Sunday morning” rolls down from the polluted clouds over industrial Nottingham into the clatter of the Raleigh factory and Albert Finney describing the day-by-day lot of industrial workers like himself – “but, you don’t let the bastards grind you down!”

Both are seen as classic examples of kitchen sink dramas reflecting the reality of life in Britain at the mid-point of the 20th century.

Just as clear, just as sharp, his description fit the alienation of young industrial workers in America. The joyless days of a nation climbing onto the imperial throne recently departed by the Brits.

“Saturday night and Sunday morning” and his later works were about me and my mates here in the States just as much as the industrial heart of England.

The Muslim virginity industry

Young Arab women wait in an upmarket medical clinic for an operation that will not only change their lives, but quite possibly save it. Yet the operation is a matter of choice and not necessity. It costs about 2,000 euros and carries very little risk.

The clinic is not in Dubai or Cairo, but in Paris. And the surgery they are waiting for is to restore their virginity.

Whether in Asia or the Arab world, an unknown number of women face an agonising problem having broken a deep taboo. They’ve had sex outside marriage and if found out, risk being ostracised by their communities, or even murdered.

Now more and more of them are undergoing surgery to re-connect their hymens and hide the any sign of past sexual activity. They want to ensure that blood is spilled on their wedding night sheets…

Although born in France, Arab culture and traditions are central to Sonia’s life. Life was strict growing up under the watchful eyes of a large traditional Arab family.

I thought of suicide after my first sexual relationship,” she says, “because I couldn’t see any other solution.” But Sonia did find a solution.

She eventually went to the Paris clinic of Dr Marc Abecassis to have surgery to restore her hymen. She says she will never reveal her secret to anyone, especially her husband to be.

“I consider this is my sex life and I don’t have to tell anyone about it,” she says. It’s men that are obliging her to lie about it, she says.

RTFA. Just another insight into one more major religion stuck into tradition and foolishness, ignorance that is centuries old.

After time, you cease wondering why people maintain the ideology of superstition in their lives and chalk it up to cowardice, even laziness. Why run away from every iota of science and reason and wrap your existence in fear and useless beliefs?

Why are Republicans afraid of women?

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry has vetoed two abortion bills that he said were an unconstitutional attempt by the Legislature to insert government into the private lives and decisions of residents.

One measure would have required women to undergo an intrusive ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus before having an abortion. Mr. Henry, a Democrat, said Friday that the legislation was flawed because it did not exempt rape and incest victims…

Mr. Henry said that “it would be unconscionable to subject rape and incest victims to such treatment” because it would victimize them again.

Like, uh, Republicans want folks to think they care about anything more than their wallets.

“State policymakers should never mandate that a citizen be forced to undergo any medical procedure against his or her will,” Mr. Henry said, “especially when such a procedure could cause physical or mental trauma.”

Under the ultrasound legislation, doctors would have been required to use a vaginal probe in cases where it would provide a clearer picture of the fetus than a regular ultrasound.

The governor vetoed similar legislation in 2008 but was overridden by lawmakers. The bill was struck down by a judge before it went into effect…

The second bill the governor vetoed was one that would have prohibited pregnant women from seeking damages if physicians withhold important information or provide inaccurate information about their pregnancy.

They all belong to the same country clubs. Can you imagine the shock and horror on the first tee if the state legislature supported rights for women?