Swiss firm to invest 900 million euros in Tunisia forestry

Switzerland-based Global Wood Holding will invest 900 million euros to grow Eucalyptus trees in Tunisia and export the wood to Europe, creating 45,000 jobs.

The project will be sited on 160,000 hectares in the Tunisian desert some 500 km south of Tunis.

The company’s deputy chairman Aldo Bonaldi, speaking at news conference with Tunisian State Lands Minister Fouad Dagfous, said he expected to export two million tonnes of wood each year.

The project would be completed over 15 years, he said.

Eucalyptus has attracted attention from development researchers and environmentalists. It is a fast-growing wood, its oil can be used for cleaning and functions as a natural insecticide, and it is sometimes used to drain swamps and thereby reduce the risk of malaria…

Generally, anyone who wishes to impede an earth-based project providing both jobs and improvements to the environment [like reforestation] can find some tame “analyst” to back up their criticism. It’s reaching a bit to oppose eucalyptus trees used for forest industries – but, I imagine that some junk science skeptics will come up with something.

Meanwhile, the Swiss and Tunisians are going ahead with providing jobs, income and reversing desertification.

Arizona’s death panels challenged by survivors

First, it was distraught patients awaiting organ transplants who protested Arizona’s decision to no longer cover such operations under its Medicaid program.

Now, Arizonans who received such transplants, and are alive and well as a result of them, are questioning the data that lawmakers relied on to make their controversial benefit cuts

When Arizona lawmakers voted last spring to cut some state-financed transplant coverage, they relied on data provided by state health officials showing that the procedures were rarely successful. But transplant experts and some patients who have undergone the now-discontinued procedures question the state’s numbers…

The cure rate for bone marrow transplants cited in the report to the Legislature was either zero or 7 percent, depending on whether that unidentified 14th patient lived. But transplant experts put the actual survival rate, based on national studies, at over 40 percent.

Dr. Jeffrey R. Schriber, medical director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, has written to Gov. Jan Brewer and state lawmakers telling them that their decisions were based on incomplete data that gave the wrong picture. His data show the success rate for bone marrow transplants covered by Arizona’s Medicaid program at slightly higher than the national average. Of 20 operations performed at Banner in recent years, 9 patients have survived, he said…

Bone marrow transplants are not the only ones in which legislators used questionable data to make their decision, transplant experts say. The American Society of Transplant Surgeons called Arizona’s transplant cuts “decisions with no medical justification.”

Liver transplants for those with hepatitis C, which the state also discontinued, have a survival rate exceeding 80 percent after one year and 60 percent after five years, the transplant group said. Arizona’s study of such procedures was far more pessimistic, saying such transplants “do not significantly affect the diseases they are intended to cure.”

The same liars who invented “death panels” to prop up their opposition to extended healthcare – now, use their own version of death panels to cut off essential medical procedures to stiffen their lame beancounter backbone.

RTFA. Corrupt policies, deceitful, in line with neocon ideology all the way.

Head of France’s King Henri IV found

His assassination was a popular topic

A team of scientists say they have positively identified an embalmed head, presumed lost in the chaos of the French Revolution, as that of King Henri IV of France who was assassinated in 1610.

The head was apparently lost after revolutionaries desecrated the graves of French kings in the royal basilica of Saint-Denis near Paris in 1793.

Few remains of those bodies have ever been found and positively identified since.

But a team of experts using advanced scientific techniques say they have conclusively identified the head, passed down over the centuries by private collectors, as that of the monarch.

Ah, the 19th Century. There’s an epoch that truly could have used eBay and Craigslist, eh?

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is headed for history’s dumpster!

Heroes of the American Military
Daylife/AP PHoto used by permission

With 63 votes, today in the Senate, another disgusting symptom of the mutual diseases of bigotry and elitism fall aside. Cured by more than democracy – for the vote in the Senate required more than a democratic majority to close down another archaic filibuster.

Those who voted against cloture should be voted out of office in 2012 and forced to work for a living. They wouldn’t, of course. They would join the ranks of lobbyists for corporate greed, the predictable job path for ex-members of Congress.

Today’s important moment is passage of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Tomorrow we can return to Throw the Bums Out!

UPDATE: Final vote was 65:31, better than 2 to 1. A further example of the hypocrisy, the anti-democratic backwardness of the reactionaries who tried every foot-dragging stunt in the book to delay the good will of the American people.


Japanese woman sues Google for displaying her clothesline

A Japanese woman is suing Google for displaying images of underwear hanging on her washing line on its Street View function.

The woman, who has not been named, is suing the internet giant for 600,000 Yen (£4,588) claiming the images caused her psychological distress, according to Japan’s Mainichi newspaper…

“I was overwhelmed with anxiety that I might be the target of a sex crime,” the woman told a district court. “It caused me to lose my job and I had to change my residence.”

According to the suit, the woman first saw the photo on Google this spring when she did a search for her own apartment, where she lived alone.

The suit claims her existing obsessive-compulsive disorder was worsened by the anxiety brought on by the photo, as she feared that everything she was doing throughout the day was being secretly recorded.

So, loonybirds are allowed to bring suit over their loonybird delusions?

The clothesline is outdoors, right? Will she sue every neighbor with a view of the clothesline?

Copyright trolls get a kicking in West Virginia court

Legal companies using scatter-gun practices to scare often innocent Internet users into coughing up cash have been delivered another blow by a West Virginia court.

The judge presiding over seven cases, which involve alleged piracy by more than 5,400 unidentified individuals, refused to allow them all to be dealt with at the same time.

In layman’s terms, the judge ruled that the fact that the accused had all used the same ISP and the same P2P file-sharing network wasn’t sufficient reason to lump them all together for the purposes of a trial.

Online rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation said in an ebullient statement: “In these cases – as in many others across the country – the owners of the adult movies filed mass lawsuits based on single counts of copyright infringement stemming from the downloading of a pornographic film, and improperly lumped hundreds of defendants together regardless of where the IP addresses indicate the defendants live. The motivation behind these cases appears to be to leverage the risk of embarrassment associated with pornography to coerce settlement payments despite serious problems with the underlying claims…”

The ISP used by the alleged copyright infringers in the seven West Virginia cases, Time Warner Cable, moved to quash subpoenas seeking the identities of the accused filed sharers.

The judge ruled that the copyright trolls were free to pursue each case individually – but that would lead to the legal companies involved having to do some actual work, spend some actual time in court and produce some actual evidence in order to menace large sums of cash out of their randomly-selected victims.


Med students get teacher’s body for their first autopsy

It was their first ever autopsy, but students at one of Sweden’s top medical schools were faced with a familiar sight in the classroom: the body on the table belonged to their late teacher.

The first autopsy is really, really emotional, and we autopsied someone we knew,” one of the shocked students told news agency TT on Friday…

Chief physician Birgitta Sundelin called the event “extremely unfortunate.”

She said that students were normally informed beforehand whose body they were to examine and that it was also the case this time.

But according to a student, the class did not find out until they saw their teacher’s name on the body’s toe tag.

The head of the department, Tina Dalianis, said she regretted the incident, but added the students needed to learn the tricks of the trade.

“It’s terrible, but it’s part of education sometimes. Unfortunately they have to deal with it,” she told TT.

Phew! It would be a bit much for me. I don’t even do funerals.