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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hydrail, steam locomotive - in a way

Hydrogen technology may be years from realization but in Europe, Japan and deep in a mine shaft in Ontario it already has enthusiastic proponents who can attest to this clean fuel alternative’s success.

Digital concept: Greener Magazine
Because indoor or underground locations prohibit the use of standard combustion energy sources such as diesel, to get the job done, business and emergency applications have turned to battery energy in mining and where ever access to fuel supplies are limited. Chemical batteries have improved over the decades to the point that they are both reliable and safe and yet batteries present other problems. However powerful, chemical batteries are limited and a potential hazard to both workers and the environment.

Hydrogen technology derives its energy by converting simple water to its basic components, hydrogen and oxygen and then recombining the hydrogen and oxygen, pure water is the only byproduct. The temporarily free hydrogen electrons pass through a circuit and produce electricity. Multiplying these cells as they are called in stacks can produce a virtually unlimited source of clean, renewable power.

The military is interested in hydrogen technology and in 2003 initiated a seven year joint venture with the U.S. Department of Energy, the government of Japan, and the National Automotive Center to produce a 1.2 megawatt power plant for a locomotive. The cells are being developed by Nuvera Fuel Cells Inc., Cambridge, Mass. The army plans to develop peace time applications for this new technology including emergency generators driven by locomotives capable of supplying power to a hospital or even a small town in the event of a disaster such as Katrina.

In Italy as well as Japan, development of commuter rail line capability powered by hydrogen is on track; in Bergamo, Italy at Nuvera’s research facility and in Tokyo at the Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) where they are developing a two-car locomotive - one carrying electric motors, a transformer, and a battery charged by regenerative braking, and the other, fuel-cell stacks and a hydrogen storage cylinder. The train’s top speed will be 120 kilometers per hour, and it will travel 300 to 400 km before its hydrogen needs replenishing.

Nuvera’s Forza™ Rail Power plant will be showcased this summer at the 3rd annual International Hydrail Conference at the Centro Congressi Giovanni XXIII in Bergamo, Italy on June 25-26, 2007. Conference attendees will be able to interact with other leaders in the alternative energy and railway fields, learn about the latest technological advancements in hydrail, hear the most recent developments in hydrail installations from around the globe and see an actual fuel cell for hydrail applications in action!

Expected Speakers:

Stan Thompson, Hydrogen Economy Advancement Team
Prashant Chintawar, Nuvera Fuel Cells
Tarun Huria, Indian Railways’ Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Engineering
Tom Mack, Ahl Tech
Seky Chang, Korea Railroad Research Institute
Maria Marsilla, Vossloh Espana
Peter Holt, Hydrogen Highway, Vancouver
Jurgen Schulte, ISE Corporation
Carlos Navas, NTDA Energia

To register or for more information on the conference, log on to www.hydrail.com or contact Danielle Andre at Nuvera Fuel Cells.

Danielle Andre
Marketing Communications Coordinator
Nuvera Fuel Cells
Tel: +1-617-245-7571
Fax: +1-617-245-7511
Email: DAndre@nuvera.com

Greener News Room



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2:36 PM

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Liberian leader Sirleaf, launches global initiative

Ms. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the first black, woman president of Liberia and often referred to as “The Iron Lady”, is launching a global campaign to raise funds in hopes of repairing her country’s debt-ridden economy.

Photo ULLA Liberia President Ellen Johnson-SirleafRecently Johnson accepted an invitation to visit Canada where she met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. During her 2-day visit, Johnson sought Harper’s support for debt waiver ahead of the upcoming G-8 meeting. Canada is a member of the G-8.

While in Canada Johnson presented a keynote speech at the Canada 2020 Conference on social policy and global leadership, where it was announced that Spread the Net and UNICEF Canada have purchased 33,000 long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets for distribution to children and pregnant women in Liberia. Liberia is facing a significant health challenge from malaria, the number-one killer of children there. Liberian parents often have large families, 6 or more children, in the hope that at least one or two will survive to adulthood.

Spread the Net is raising funds in Canada for the purchase of additional bed nets for children under the age of five and pregnant women in both Liberia and Rwanda. The two-year campaign, launched in November 2006, aims to raise $5 million to provide bed nets to these two countries.

Johnson is faced with the challenge of not only reducing her nation’s crippling financial debt and eradicating malaria she must also find a way to eradicate persistent, endemic corruption, address human rights abuse and investigate war crimes at the same time her government struggles to foster goodwill among surrounding countries that were former enemies.

As part of her mission to wrest Liberia from the brink of disaster and educate the world about the need for parity among people and nations, Johnson has accepted an invitation to deliver the commencement address to the Spelman College Class of 2007 on Sunday, May 20 at 4P.M.

Considering the serious issues of illiteracy, abject poverty, sexual violence, domestic abuse and political disenfranchisement that exist in her country, it is not surprising that Johnson would pick Spelman, this private, historically black women's college in Decatur, Georgia boasts such outstanding alumnae, as Children's Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman; U.S. Foreign Service Director General Ruth Davis; authors Tina McElroy Ansa and Pearl Cleage and actress LaTanya Richardson

Spelman’s graduating class will be fertile ground over which to reiterate the promise Johnson made during her inaugural speech: “This administration must endeavor to give Liberian women prominence in all affairs of our country. We will empower all Liberian women in all aspects of our national life…. We will enforce without fear of failure the laws against rape. We will encourage all families to educate all children, especially the girls.”

By Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine

ABOUT SPELMAN:: Founded in 1881, Spelman College is the only historically Black college in the nation to be included on the U.S. News and World Report's list of top 75 "Best Liberal Arts Colleges. http://www.spelman.edu.

Further information:: Bed Nets - Nothing But Nets


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12:49 PM

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Orleans now: the Versailles Vietnamese community

Along the East Bank of the Mississippi River, just outside of New Orleans in Saint Bernard Parish lies the community of Versailles. This is home to a largely unknown, but deeply-rooted, Vietnamese-American community. After Katrina, the area was virtually washed out. Now, nearly two years later, it's a community on the mend.

Young Katrina refugee. Photo: huongduong.org
On this edition, correspondent Ngoc Nguyen takes us to Versailles. As the community struggles to rebuild, they face yet another threat to their homes, history and way of life.


Mo Thi Nguyen and Nguyen Tho, Versailles residents; Christina Wadhwani, volunteer and student from George Washington University; Mary Tran, Executive Director, Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation; Father Luke Nguyen Hung Dung, Pastor, Mary Queen of Vietnam Church; Susan Do, Deputy Director, Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation and West Bank resident; Nguyen Thanh Minh, Chairman, Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans; Father Vien Nguyen,
Pastor/Reverend, Mary Queen of Vietnam Church; Nga, Versailles resident and
social worker.

Senior Producer/Host: Tena Rubio
Contributing Producer: Ngoc Nguyen
Mixing Engineer: Phillip Babich
Intern: Alexis McCrimmon

For more information::

Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation (MQVNCDC)
4626 Alcee Fortier Blvd.
New Orleans, LA 70129

Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans (VAYLA-NO)
P.O. Box 870366
New Orleans, LA 70187-0366

National Alliance of Vietnamese American Service Agencies (NAVASA)
1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 310
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-587-2781 or 301-587-2782; navasa@navasa.org

Greener News Room


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9:59 AM

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Swimming in Winter

There is still a lot of swim in Winter, though she may not know it yet, and if the staff of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida has anything to say about it, the tiny dolphin that lost her tail will soon be swimming with the best of them.

Animal care director Diane Mitchell and associate swim with Winter prior to measuring the young dolphin for new prosthetic. Photo, H Weikle Winter, a bottlenose dolphin, that became entangled in a crabber’s buoy line when just two months old was rescued near Cape Canaveral in December 2005. Abandoned by her pod and severely injured, she would eventually lose her tail fluke; Winter’s prognosis was dire as she was transported to the sea mammal rehabilitation facility in Clearwater, FL. There, veterinarians, therapists, volunteers and well wishers began with Winter the longest swim she would ever make, her journey back to health and a new life with humans.

On Friday a team, which includes scientists Stephen McCulloch director of dolphin and whale research at Florida's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, Dr. Juli Goldstein, also of Harbor Branch, Michael Walsh of the University of Florida Marine Mammal Program and Kevin Carroll, Vice President of Prosthetics for Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics Inc. in Bethesda, MD held a news conference to announce their plan to fit Winter with the world’s first complete prosthetic tail fluke.

Currently a 34-year old female bottlenose named Fuji at the Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa, Japan wears a partial prosthetic device following the loss of 75 % of her fluke.

The process to develop a prosthetic tail for Winter began Friday after the press conference as aquarium staff carefully lifted the dolphin onto a pad beside her swim tank. Using a hand held laser scanner, technicians generated a 3-dimensional image of Winter’s tail stub. The image will be used to cast a snug fitting socket for Winter’s backside, which in turn will anchor an artificial ball joint and fluke assembly made of titanium steel and a special, light weight rubber. With this tail like apparatus Winter will be able to swim using a normal up and down fluke motion rather than the alligator-like side to side motion she has adopted since losing her tail.

Kevin Carroll of Hanger Prosthetics demonstrates new artificial dolphin tail during Friday's press conference in Florida. Photo, H Weikle“Our goal,” said Dr. Walsh, “Is to provide a sense of realism for Winter. She is going to have to relearn how to swim.”

Although Winter will be able to use the new tail just a few hours a day it will, the scientists believe, counter spinal damage her current swim motion is causing. “Winter just has the will to survive”, said McCulloch, “She’s an amazing personality.”

As Winter grows she will have to be refitted with 2 or 3 new tails but the team sees a benefit in that as well; the continued research project will most likely result in unseen benefits for other stricken animals as well as human patients.

Hanger Prosthetics is paying the cost of research and development of Winter’s new tail. Hanger spokesperson Jennifer Bittner said, “We are confident in the chances for Winter’s success.”

By Harlan Weikle
Greener Magazine


Related news: Shippers make way for dolphins


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3:29 PM

Monday, April 16, 2007

Earth's dirty little secret

Past civilizations have fallen when they wore out their supply of soil, and in his new book "Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations,"University of Washington scientist David R. Montgomery says the same thing appears to be happening again -- with potentially far more serious consequences.

Hugh Hammond Bennet, first Chief of the Soil Conservation Service, inspects wind eroded farmland near Ottawa Co., Michigan, 1977. (in the public domain)
Throughout history civilizations expanded as they sought new soil to feed their populations, then ultimately fell as they wore out or lost the dirt they depended upon. When that happened, people moved on to fertile new ground and formed new civilizations.

That process is being repeating today the geomorphologist argues and the results could be far more disastrous for humans because there are very few places left with fertile soil to feed large populations, and farming practices still trigger large losses of rich dirt.

"We're doing the same things today that past societies have done, and at the same rate," said David Montgomery, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences who studies the evolution and structure of the various aspects of the Earth's surface. In essence, he said, we are slowly removing our planet's life-giving skin.

"It only takes one good rainstorm when the soil is bare to lose a century's worth of dirt."

Montgomery examines how soil is slowly created over time, the vital role it has played in the rise and fall of civilizations from Mesopotamia to Rome and the way it has shaped where and how we live today.

In the past, as soil was depleted in a particular region – the American South during the height of tobacco plantations, for example, or the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s – people moved to new areas that could support their crops. But Montgomery argues that their primary farming method – plowing under any crop residue and leaving the surface exposed to wind and water erosion for long periods – was a major cause of the conditions that drove them from the land.

Flat lands and areas with thicker, richer soil tend to have less natural erosion, while steeper areas have greater erosion from both wind and water. Removing vegetative cover just worsens the problem, Montgomery said.

When the Earth's population was smaller people could move from one place to another and give soil a chance to regenerate. But now, with more than 6 billion people on the planet, that option no longer exists, Montgomery said.

"We're farming about as much land as we can on a sustainable basis, but the world's population is still growing," he said. "We have to learn to farm without losing the soil."

He advocates a wholesale change in farming practices, moving to no-till agriculture, which he says would reduce erosion closer to its natural rate. That method would eliminate plowing and instead crop stubble would remain in the field, to be mixed with the very top layer of the soil using a method called disking. Farmers might need more herbicides to control weeds, but it would take fewer passes of farm machinery – and thus less fuel – to tend crops.

Currently about 5 percent of the world's farmers engage in no-till agriculture, the vast majority of them in the United States and Latin America, Montgomery said.

"We don't have to farm the way we do. It's as much a matter of culture and habit as it is of economics, and our habitual ways of farming have gotten people into a lot of trouble through the years," Montgomery said.

"It's more of a conceptual shift than anything else, but it's a conceptual shift that conserves the soil."

Greener Magazine


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3:53 PM

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Who would Jesus tax?

Taxes are something we all have to deal with, whether we like it or not. They fund basic infrastructure and much needed social programs. The tax cuts of the Bush administration were supposed to create more jobs and redistribute the wealth for average Americans, but have they?

Listen to programTo find out, we talk with a single mom and a tax fairness advocate to debunk some myths about how wealth is created and what people can do to change tax policy. We also look at how an under-reported union between political conservatives and the Christian right preserves the gap between the haves and have-nots.

Bonus audio: Interview with the Urban Institute's Adam Carasso (NOT broadcast-quality)


Harmony Langford, single mom in Flint, Michigan; Anisha Desai, Deputy Director, United for Fair Economy; Tom McClosky, vice president of government affairs and chief lobbyist of the Family Research Council; Rich Meagher, PhD candidate, City University of New York; Max Sawicky, economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

Senior Producer/Host: Tena Rubio
Contributing Producer: Abby Scher
Mixing Engineer: Phillip Babich
Intern: Alexis McCrimmon
Recording assistants: Richie Duchon, Geoff Brady, Doug George and Robert Frazier

Greener Newsroom

For more information::

United for A Fair Economy
29 Winter Street
Boston, MA 02108
617-423-2148; info@faireconomy.org

UFE's Racial Wealth Divide Project

Urban Institute
2100 M Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20037

The Public Eye magazine
1310 Broadway, #201
Somerville, MA 02144

Citizens for Tax Justice
1616 P Street NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036

Economic Policy Institute
1333 H Street, NW
Suite 300, East Tower
Washington, DC 20005-4707

Family Research Council
801 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

Other helpful links::

Economic Self-Sufficiency Coalition of Western New York
716-887-2717; tkerr@uwbec.org

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
820 First Street, NE, Suite 510
Washington, DC 20002
202-408-1080; center@cbpp.org

Public Eye: "Tax Revolt as a Family Value - How the Christian Right Is Becoming A Free Market Champion"


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12:16 PM

Friday, April 13, 2007

"They poured fire..." The lost boys

In 1987, at the age of 5, Ajak fled his village in Southern Sudan joining 20,000 other boys in a journey across the country that would be plagued with imprisonment, murder and starvation...

Ultimately ending up at a refugee camp in Northern Kenya, these boys (now adults, and many living in the United States) came to be called "The Lost Boys." Ajak's story and the story of many others are the source for the book "They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky," and the film "God Grew Tired of Us," winner of the 2006 Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award.

In 2001, with the help of the International Rescue Committee, Ajak was relocated to the United States. He boarded a flight on September 11 that was diverted to Canada from New York after a view from the plane revealed the twin towers aflame. Two weeks later Ajak arrived in San Diego, where he currently resides.

Sudanese refugee, "Lost Boy" and co-author of Los Angeles Times Best-Seller "They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky" Benjamin Ajak will address attendees of Alliant International University's Multicultural Community-Clinical Psychology Spring Forum and Alumni Reception on April 19th at Bistro restaurant in Alhambra.

Ajak will be joined by co-author Judy Bernstein who met the authors through her work with the International Rescue Committee in San Diego. Along with Alliant Professor Elaine Burke, they will present "Refugee Experiences & Coping with Trauma," a discussion of the ethno-political crisis in the African country of Sudan, which has led to the displacement and refugee status for many citizens including a number of young men who were subsequently called the "Lost Boys of Sudan." Oscar Githua, M.A. (a Kenyan national and a student in our Forensic Program), who has worked with African refugees, will be facilitating the discussion.

Greener Newsroom



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10:27 PM

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Maize may have driven earliest destruction of rain forest

A Florida State University anthropologist has new evidence that ancient farmers in Mexico were cultivating an early form of maize, the forerunner of modern corn, about 7,300 years ago - 1,200 years earlier than scholars previously thought.

Source - Convention on Biological Diversity/U.N.Professor Mary Pohl conducted an analysis of sediments in the Gulf Coast of Tabasco, Mexico, and concluded that people were planting crops in the "New World" of the Americas around 5,300 B.C.

This young Mexican girl could be a direct descendant of the earliest Mesoamerican agricultural people, the Olmec

The results of Pohl's study, which she conducted along with Dolores R. Piperno of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Republic of Panama, Kevin O. Pope of Geo Arc Research and John G. Jones of Washington State University, will be published in the April 9-13 edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The shift from foraging to the cultivation of food was a significant change in lifestyle for these ancient people and laid the foundation for the later development of complex society and the rise of the Olmec civilization, Pohl said. The Olmecs predated the better known Mayans by about 1,000 years.

"Our study shows that these early maize cultivators located themselves on barrier islands between the sea and coastal lagoons, where they could continue to fish as well as grow crops," she said.

During her field work in Tabasco seven years ago, Pohl found traces of pollen from primitive maize and evidence of forest clearing dating to about 5,100 B.C. Pohl's current study analyzed phytoliths, the silica structure of the plant, which puts the date of the introduction of maize in southeastern Mexico 200 years earlier than her pollen data indicated. It also shows that maize was present at least a couple hundred years before the major onset of forest clearing. Traces of charcoal found in the soil in 2000 indicated the ancient farmers used fire to clear the fields on beach ridges to grow the crops.

"This significant environmental impact of maize cultivation was surprisingly early," she said. "Scientists are still considering the impact of tropical agriculture and forest clearing, now in connection with global warming."

The discovery of cultivated maize in Tabasco, a tropical lowland area of Mexico, challenges previously held ideas that Mesoamerican farming originated in the semi-arid highlands of Mexico and shows an early exchange of food plants.

Greener Newsroom



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10:33 AM

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Angela Davis, a case of acquired activism

Angela Davis, activist, organizer and philosopher once associated with the Black Panther Party as well as the Communist Party of the United States of America is still an activist, she now works for racial and gender equality and for prison abolition.

Angela Davis in FBI custody following her arrest as a Soledad conspirator
Born: January 26, 1944, Birmingham, Alabama, Davis received a B.A. from Brandeis University in 1965. She later studied as a doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego, under the Marxist professor and 'One Dimensional Man' (1964) author Herbert Marcuse.

She joined the Communist Party in 1968, and like many American Blacks during the late 1960s, suffered discrimination for her personal political beliefs and commitment to revolutionary ideals. But it was not until 1969 that she came to national attention after being removed from her teaching position in the philosophy department at UCLA by the California Board of Regents, under then CA Governor Ronald Reagan's administration.

Davis had worked to free the Soledad (Prison) Brothers, African-American prisoners held in California during the late 1960s. She befriended George Jackson, one of the prisoners accused in an August 7, 1970 abortive escape attempt from Marin County's Hall of Justice, the trial judge and three people were killed, including George Jackson's brother Jonathan. Davis was implicated when police claimed that the guns used had been registered in her name.

Davis fled and was subsequently listed on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted list sparking one of the most intensive manhunts in American history. That August, Davis was captured and imprisoned in New York City but freed by an all white jury eighteen months later, cleared of all charges.

Today Davis is a professor of history of consciousness at the University of California-Santa Cruz. Davis is known internationally for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the United States and abroad.

Davis remains an advocate of prison abolition and has developed a powerful critique of racism in the criminal justice system. She is a member of the advisory board of the Prison Activist Resource Center, and is currently working on a comparative study of women's imprisonment in the United States, the Netherlands, and Cuba.

During the last 25 years, Davis has lectured around the world. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and she is the author of five books, including “Angela Davis: An Autobiography; Women, Race, and Class” (Vintage, 1983), “Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday” (Vintage, 1999), and “The Angela Y. Davis Reader” (Blackwell Publishing Limited, 1998).

Greener Magazine

Davis video segment

Davis' writing: History is a weapon



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9:11 PM