Showing posts from August 1, 2010

Vincent Kituku: Idaho leaders jeopardize the future of our children | Reader's Opinion | Idaho Statesman

Traditional wisdom has it that when you are drowning, you don't want to ignore your swimming skills, you want a life preserver thrown to you and you must know where the shores are. No one denies the serious thought and analysis that preceded the cutting of school budgets. But should such a reduction have even entered the picture? Is it a long-term solution given that it affects (negatively) the future of our children? Do our leaders know that we have entered a world market that is already forcing our children to compete for jobs with their international peers? Shortly after the Idaho Legislature cut school budgets, The Economist ran a piece on what's going on in the global market that challenged the wisdom of that action. It reported that IBM has more employees outside the United States than it does here at home. Given that the future growth of any community will be (if it isn't already) dictated by technological advances as opposed to traditional resources such as

Andrea Shipley: Areva will process uranium for the world and Idaho will get the waste | Reader's Opinion | Idaho Statesman

The Department of Energy intends to give a $2 billion federal loan guarantee to Areva, a giant nuclear corporation owned by the French government. The move essentially tags U.S. taxpayers as co-signers for the loans Areva would need to build a uranium-enrichment plant in eastern Idaho. The federal handout comes on top of substantial sales and property tax breaks the state of Idaho had already granted and was followed by a $750,000 highway construction grant that didn't even go through normal Transportation Department review. The nuclear fuel made here would be used all over the world (though not in Idaho). Areva's profits would presumably be sent home to France, since the company is in dire financial straits. So what would we get for all this? The answer, such as it is, appears in the draft environmental impact statement on Areva's uranium-enrichment plant plans the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) just released. It's not a pretty picture. The plant would pr

Your next Pepsi might be made with beet sugar processed in Nampa | Business | Idaho Statesman

A soft-drink bottler said Friday that is about to begin distributing Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback sodas sweetened with 100 percent sugar from Amalgamated Sugar Co.’s Nampa plant. The new products aim to appeal to Baby Boomers and younger people who find all things retro appealing, Pepsi Bottling Ventures LLC said in a news release. Pepsi Bottling Ventures is the nation’s largest independent Pepsi bottler, based in North Carolina and operating manufacturing, distribution and sales facilities in seven states including Idaho. “We are very excited about launching Throwback into our lineup,” said Tim McGee, vice president and general manager for PBV Idaho. “Additionally, we are very close to securing approval from the Idaho Agricultural Commission, which will create even more excitement in a local Idaho product. “We will literally be buying sugar from our neighbors across the street here in Nampa to manufacture these products.” Amalgamated Sugar Co. is owned by more than 800 grower-mem

Boise River diversion dams can be deadly | Boise, Garden City, Mountain Home | Idaho Statesman

It's called a "keeper hole," and it can be one of your worst nightmares if you fall off your raft or inner tube into one at any of the diversion dams on the Boise River - particularly the Thurman Mill diversion dam near Quinn's Pond. A keeper hole has more than just powerful undertow. "It can take you under and spin you around like a washing machine," said Chris Crawford, who spends hundreds of hours on the Boise River each summer. Some swim or get flushed out. Others never make it. A Garden City woman who was flipped out of her inner tube at the Thurman Mill diversion dam Sunday was trapped in the current for several minutes. Cassie Conley, 20, never regained consciousness and died at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center Wednesday. Conley's family members, who plan to donate her organs, hope their tragic loss will serve as a cautionary tale. Some say the undertow of the Thurman Mill dam is much stronger than the upstream dams between Barber Park an

Green garbanzos - Idaho's next big crop? | Local News | Idaho Statesman

Doug Moser still winces about the time he introduced J.R. Simplot to green garbanzo beans. "It was at a lunch in Boise about five years ago," Moser said. "I spent 10 minutes telling him about them, and he leaned across the table and said, 'You know what? If I was 20 years younger, I'd be all over this. This is a one-in-a-million opportunity.' "I wish he had been 20 years younger." These days, Moser's beans are doing all right without Simplot. They're being sold at Treasure Valley Costco stores as of this month, along with Costco stores in other Northwestern states, Alaska, Montana, Nevada and Utah. By spring, they could be the newest addition to Treasure Valley crops. "It's one of the areas we have targeted," said Moser, who began growing garbanzo beans on his Genesee farm, near Moscow, in 1979. "Most are grown now in North Idaho, but they're an arid season legume, so obviously they'd do well in southern Idaho as

The Associated Press: Milwaukee teachers fight for Viagra drug coverage

Milwaukee teachers fight for Viagra drug coverage By RYAN J. FOLEY (AP) – 9 hours ago MADISON, Wis. — With the district in a financial crisis and hundreds of its members facing layoffs, the Milwaukee teachers union is taking a peculiar stand: fighting to get its taxpayer-funded Viagra back. The union has asked a judge to order the school board to again include Pfizer Inc.'s erectile dysfunction drug and similar pills in its health insurance plans. The filing is the latest in a two-year legal campaign in which the union has argued, so far unsuccessfully, that the board's policy of excluding erectile dysfunction drugs discriminates against male employees. The union says Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and others are necessary treatment for "an exclusively gender-related condition." But lawyers for the school board say the drugs were excluded in 2005 to save money, and there is no discrimination because they are used primarily for recreational sex and not out of medica

Feeding Fewer Than 9 Billion - Dot Earth Blog

Ruth Fremson, The New York Times Wheat is harvested in India’s Punjab state. Discussions of food policy, climate change, international security and many other global issues often take place in isolation, cut off from consideration of other factors delineating the pinch points as humanity’s population and appetites crest in the next couple of generations. Robert J. Walker, executive vice president of the Population Institute, noted this tendency in a commentary responding to the package of reports on feeding 9 billion humans in the journal Nature that   I wrote about here yesterday . He e-mailed me a link to his piece on the institute’s blog. Here’s the opening section and a link to the rest. I encourage you to ponder his points about the relative value of investments in initiatives that can increase the amount of food or reduce the number of mouths. Have a look and weigh in below. The writers and editors at Nature this past week boldly proclaimed, with some carefull

Ice Chunk Four Times Size of Manhattan Breaks Off Greenland Glacier | LiveScience

Satellite image from Aug. 5, 2010, shows the huge ice island calved from Greenland's Petermann Glacier. Credit: Andreas Muenchow, University of Delaware. Full Size 1 of 2 Satellite image from Aug. 5, 2010, shows the huge ice island calved from Greenland's Petermann Glacier. Credit: Andreas Muenchow, University of Delaware. Greenland's Petermann Glacier in 2009. Credit: Andreas Muenchow, University of Delaware. A chunk of ice four times the size of Manhattan has calved from Greenland's Petermann Glacier, scientists announced today. The last time the Arctic lost such a large chunk of ice was in 1962. "In the early morning hours of August 5, 2010, an ice island four times the size of Manhattan was born in northern Greenland," said Andreas Muenchow, associate professor of physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware. Satellite imagery of this remot

New Ways to Scrub Out the Carbon - Green Blog

Three technologies lead the pack for capturing the carbon dioxide in coal while also harnessing the energy. On Thursday, the Energy Department endorsed the “oxyburn” strategy, which involves filtering the nitrogen out of air and burning coal in pure oxygen, with a resulting flue gas that is almost pure carbon dioxide; it will attempt that in Illinois. The other two technologies involve scrubbing the carbon dioxide out of flue gases in coal that is conventionally burned, something that American Electric Power is trying out at a decades-old plant in West Virginia, and cooking the coal into a hydrocarbon gas and taking the carbon dioxide out before combustion, which Duke Energy is planning to do in Edwardsport, Ind. But there are some others.  Not far from the Illinois plant that the Energy Department said it planned to retrofit for oxyburning, Tenaska, a company that builds power plants around the country, has purchased land and is designing an “integrated” plant with a

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BBC News - Social tenants in England to get wider home swap choice

4 August 2010 Last updated at 05:03 ET Share this page Facebook Share Email Print Social tenants in England to get wider home swap choice Advertisement Housing Minister Grant Shapps: "This will be nothing to do with people who are in existing council houses"' People who live in social housing in England will be able to swap homes more easily with other tenants anywhere in the country, under government plans. The Freedom Pass will allow them to see details of every council and housing association tenant looking to exchange. They have previously only been able to do this in their local area, or through a more complicated system elsewhere. It comes after David Cameron said council houses should no longer be allocated "for life". The prime minister said future tenants could move out after a

BBC News - Life's unfair? Do something! Or just get used to it...

5 August 2010 Last updated at 05:58 ET Share this page Facebook Share Email Print Life's unfair? Do something! Or just get used to it... By Michael Goldfarb Journalist and broadcaster The word "fair" has been jangling loudly in my ears recently. Out there in the zeitgeist, the new coalition government in Britain can't use "fair" often enough. In America, liberal commentators are trying to reclaim the word from "fair and balanced" Fox News. Meanwhile, at my house, my almost-five-year-old daughter has discovered its use. A pure American sentiment: Life's unfair? Get used to it! "I want an ice cream." "No." "That's not fair!!!" Or: "I want to watch TV." "Not now." "Why?" &qu

BBC News - Why have the Northern Lights moved south?

5 August 2010 Last updated at 10:13 ET Share this page Facebook Share Email Print Why have the Northern Lights moved south? By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC News The Northern lights, it seems, have moved further south and have been visible from countries including Germany and Denmark. So what exactly is causing this spectacle? And how long will it last? A recent increase in solar activity is having an effect on Earth's magnetic field (blue) and the Northern Lights 1. The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are caused by charged particles around the Earth being excited by the interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and the solar wind, a stream of particles and magnetic field from the Sun. 2. The solar wind's magnetic field can "break" Earth's magnetic field l

BBC News - Criticism over breastfeeding 'creepy' article

28 June 2010 Last updated at 07:56 ET Share this page Facebook Share Email Print Criticism over breastfeeding 'creepy' article Breastfeeding has many health benefits for babies and mother An article in a magazine for new mothers that described breastfeeding as "creepy" has drawn widespread criticism. Mother & Baby Magazine's deputy editor Kathryn Blundell said she bottle fed because she did not want to put her "fun bags" in a "bawling baby's mouth". Breastfeeding is seen as the optimum way to nourish a baby in the first six months. Critics say the article could have put off vulnerable mothers. Mother & Baby magazine is read by thousands of pregnant and new mothers, with many looking to it for advice on how to manage early motherhood. 'Dangling boobs' Although she acknowledges breast milk has the edge

New Robot Climbs Walls Like an Ape Going Up a Tree | LiveScience

A new robot with two claws and a tail that sways like a pendulum is the first robot designed to move efficiently like human rock climbers or apes swinging through trees. The small robot , named ROCR (pronounced "rocker"), can scramble up a carpeted, eight-foot wall in just over 15 seconds. A robot of this design could eventually be used for inspection, maintenance and surveillance, according to its makers. But in the meantime, "probably the greatest short-term potential is as a teaching tool or as a really cool toy," said ROCR developer William Provancher, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Utah. In a study appearing this month in Transactions on Mechatronics, Provancher and his colleagues wrote that most climbing robots "are intended for maintenance or inspection in environments such as the exteriors of buildings, bridges or dams, storage tanks, nuclear facilities or

NYT: Russia bans grain exports amid drought - Business - The New York Times

MOSCOW — Russia announced Thursday that it would ban grain exports through the end of the year, a response to a scorching drought that has destroyed millions of acres of Russian wheat and hobbled the country’s agricultural revival. The ban on grain exports by Russia, one of the world’s largest wheat producers, helped propel wheat prices in the United States toward their highest levels in nearly two years and raised the prospect that consumers could pay more for products like flour and bread as Russia tries to conserve its supplies of wheat, barley and other grains for its own people. In announcing the ban, which is in force from Aug. 15 to Dec. 31, Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin said that Russia had sufficient stockpiles of grain but that blocking exports was an appropriate response to the worst drought in decades. “We need to prevent a rise in domestic food prices, we need to preserve the number of cattle and build up reserves for the next year,” he said during a tele