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Showing posts from January 6, 2013

Cubans See Internet as Crucial to Future Development

By Ivet GonzálezReprint

HAVANA, Jan 5 2013 (IPS) - The Cuban government’s economic reforms must consider the myriad opportunities offered by the Internet, a key platform of the dominant economic model on the planet, according to interviews with both experts and average people.

“It is not an option for our future development, it’s an imperative of our time,” economist Ricardo Torres told IPS. “Without the mass application of the New Information and Communications Technologies (NICT), to production processes and social life, there are no contemporary possibilities of development.”

Meanwhile, people who participated in the interactive section of Cafe 108, the website of the IPS office in Cuba, felt that mass access to the worldwide web would mean first of all, “Finally landing in the 21st century”, and more job opportunities together with the expansion of state enterprises and small private businesses.

However, the NICT and especially the Internet issue, is a complicated one in Cuba due …

Current velocities of the Gulf Stream

Current status of the Gulf StreamRelative Gulf Stream velocity fields are derived from near-realtime data from the radar altimeters of the satellites Envisat, Jason-1, and Jason-2.

This page presents four maps of current velocities of the Gulf Stream in the vicinity of the East coast of North-America. Velocities are represented in meters per second. To get the approximate velocity in knots you have to multiply by 2 (1.9438445 to be precise). The maps represent the situations on four different days, each separated by one week from the next.

Figure 1. Gulf Stream velocities one week ago: Saturday 29 December 2012

Figure 2. Gulf Stream velocities two weeks ago: Saturday 22 December 2012

Figure 3. Gulf Stream velocities three weeks ago: Saturday 15 December 2012
Figure 4. Gulf Stream velocities four weeks ago: Saturday 8 December 2012

Why Taliban are so strong in Afghanistan

Nato has invested hundreds of billions of dollars over the past 10 years trying to raise a modern army for Afghanistan and to rebuild the country's infrastructure.
But if a leaked classified report prepared by the alliance is to believed, all this will go to waste soon after foreign combat forces withdraw in 2014.

The latest in a series of leaks suggests that Nato is much more worried about the course of the war than it lets on in public.

Nato has tried to play down the importance of the report by calling it a "compilation of opinions expressed by Taliban detainees", but it highlights many failures in the decade-long war in Afghanistan.

Senior Taliban representatives... maintain residences in the immediate vicinity of ISI headquarters”Nato report  Nato report excerpts

The harsh reality is that an increasing number of Afghans are turning to the Taliban, having grown mistrustful of Nato and Afghan forces.

In remote parts of the country where the government rules only on paper, …

Who are the Taliban?

The Taliban are active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan

The hardline Islamic Taliban movement has proved to be a formidable fighting force in Afghanistan and a major threat to its government.

The Taliban also threatens to destabilise Pakistan, where they control areas in the north-west and have been blamed for a wave of suicide bombings and other attacks.

Many observers now believe that future peace in Afghanistan can only come if the government in Kabul negotiates with the Taliban.

The announcement of Taliban plans to open an office in Qatar is seen as a positive step in those negotiations, but mistrust on both sides remains high.

There has also been speculation that some of the Taliban-linked groups in Pakistan have held talks with the government in Islamabad - although this is not confirmed.Austere rule

The Taliban emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

A predominantly Pashtun movement, the Taliban came to prominence in …

Afghanistan suicide attack 'kills four' in Spin Boldak

Four people have been killed in a suicide attack in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar, officials say.

At least 15 other people were hurt when two suicide attackers struck in Spin Boldak, the district governor of the area told the BBC.

The attackers shot dead a guard at a meeting of tribal elders before detonating suicide vests.

Spin Boldak, close to the border with Pakistan, has seen numerous militant attacks in the past.

It is seen as a major smuggling route for weapons and an infiltration point for militants passing over the two nations' border.

The roof of the building in Spin Boldak was reported to have collapsed.

It is unclear how many people were inside at the time and there are fears the death toll could rise.

North Sea Gas Leak: Experts Assess Climate Impact of Ongoing Accident

The sizeable leak from a plugged well raises fresh concerns about accidents and methane's role in global warming. By Elizabeth Grossman, InsideClimate News

The infrared camera image taken by Greenpeace on Tuesday shows the scale of the gas cloud from energy giant Total's Elgin platform.

The French energy company Total estimates that its North Sea Elgin field gas well is leaking about 200,000 cubic meters of natural gas per day, enough, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, to supply more than 100 average homes with natural gas for an entire year. Total estimates that it may take six months to stop the leak.

If the gas continues escaping at that rate, and all of it reaches the atmosphere, it would approximate the annual global warming impact of 35,000 Americans, says Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Global Ecology director, Christopher Field.

At a news conference on Monday, Total’s chief financial officer, Patrick de la Chevardiere, said that because the l…

40 Seafloor Gas Seeps Found Off US East Coast

Digsby IM, Email, and Social Networks in one easy to use application! Two different perspectives of the seeps, made by bouncing sound waves off rising plumes of gas.

View full size imageA research cruise has discovered 40 previously unknown gas seeps on the seafloor off the U.S. East Coast. The plumes of gas are almost certainly methane, also known as natural gas, according to government scientists.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas due to its ability to absorb heat, but the released gas is not likely to reach the ocean surface in significant quantities and affect the climate, said Carolyn Ruppel, a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey, which collaborated in the research. Neither is the amount of gas likely to warrant commercial interest, she said.

The seeps were found in four clusters, three of them about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Nantucket, Mass. The other cluster, consisting of 17 of the seeps, was mapped about 90 miles (147 kilometers…

Pulling Carbon Dioxide Out of Thin Air

Published: January 5, 2013

WHETHER streaming from the tailpipes of cars or the smokestacks of so many power plants and factories, carbon dioxide emissions keep growing around the globe.

Geoffrey Holmes/Carbon Engineering

David Keith, center of back row, is president of Carbon Engineering. By the end of next year, this Canadian company plans to build a pilot plant for capture of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Geoffrey Holmes/Carbon Engineering

Prototypes of parts of its system, including one at lower left, have been tested.

Now a Canadian company has developed a cleansing technology that may one day capture and remove some of this heat-trapping gas directly from the sky. And it is even possible that the gas could then be sold for industrial use.

Carbon Engineering, formed in 2009 with $3.5 million from Bill Gates and others, created prototypes for parts of its cleanup system in 2011 and 2012 at its plant in Calgary, Alberta. The company, which recently closed a $3 million second…

Assad, in Speech, Says Syria ‘Accepts Advice but Not Orders’

Syrian refugees watched a television broadcast of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaking in Damascus, at the Al-Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

Published: January 6, 2013

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, sounding defiant, confident, and, to critics, out of touch with the magnitude of his people’s grievances, proposed on Sunday what he called a plan to resolve the country’s 21-month uprising with a new constitution and cabinet.


President Bashar al-Assad of Syria spoke at the Opera House in Damascus on Sunday.

But he offered no new acknowledgment of the gains by the rebels fighting against him, the excesses of his government or the aspirations of the Syrian people. Mr. Assad also ruled out talks with the armed opposition and pointedly ignored its central demand that he step down, instead using much of a nearly hourlong speech to justify his harsh military crackdown.

Mr. Assad waved to a cheering, chanting crowd as he strode to the stage of th…

Blame for Extinction Spreads to Methane Gas

Kyrtomisporis speciosus and other fossils' carbon isotopes helped date a mass extinction.

Two hundred million years ago, at the end of the Triassic period, a mass extinction, often attributed to major volcanic activity, wiped out half of all marine life on Earth. But new research published in the journal Science suggests that the extinction was more likely to have been caused by the release of at least 12,000 gigatons of methane from the seafloor into the atmosphere.

Volcanic activity occurred over a period of 600,000 years at the end of the Triassic, while the extinction took place over a period of just 10,000 to 20,000 years, said Micha Ruhl, an earth scientist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and the study’s lead author.

Dr. Ruhl and his colleagues studied carbon isotopes of sediments from the period and found that the extinction event coincided with the giant release of methane into the atmosphere.

Volcanoes still played in a role in the process, Dr. Ruhl sa…