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Friday, July 13, 2007

News of Interest 7/13/07

Human greed takes lion's share of solar energy
More cold water to splash on those who hope we can use so-called "green energy" to maintain our imperialist First World lifestyle.
HUMANS are just one of the millions of species on Earth, but we use up almost a quarter of the sun's energy captured by plants - the most of any species. The human dominance of this natural resource is affecting other species, reducing the amount of energy available to them by almost 10 per cent, scientists report. Researchers said the findings showed humans were using "a remarkable share" of the earth's plant productivity "to meet the needs and wants of one species". They also warned that the increased use of biofuels - such as ethanol and canola - should be viewed cautiously, given the potential for further pressure on ecosystems.
Teacher pleads for CCTV in classrooms
The pressure to make the surveillance society ubiquitous comes from all sides. With a dialectic like this, does freedom need enemies?
A TEACHER who was unfairly dismissed wants to see CCTV in classrooms - to protect teachers...

...Now the father-of-two says he would like to see cameras installed in all classrooms to protect the rights of teachers wrongly accused of misconduct.

He said: "If CCTV was installed in classrooms it would solve a lot of problems."

He knows his plea will raise concerns over costs and loss of

civil liberties. But he said: "Coventry City Council has spent well over £100,000 on my case. And what about my civil liberties? My career and my health have been taken away from me.

"Bankers and shop assistants work with CCTV around them all the time without any problems, so why shouldn't teachers?"
Farms Fund Robots to Replace Migrant Fruit Pickers
More evidence that the white middle and working classes are not foreseeing the many-sided assault on their privileged position in relation to immigrant labor. When the immigrants are gone, the capitalists will just use machines to undermine the power of what remains of the working class. The only solution is unity against the machines and the bosses.

Vision Robotics, a San Diego company, is working on a pair of robots that would trundle through orchards plucking oranges, apples or other fruit from the trees. In a few years, troops of these machines could perform the tedious and labor-intensive task of fruit picking that currently employs thousands of migrant workers each season.

The robotic work has been funded entirely by agricultural associations, and pushed forward by the uncertainty surrounding the migrant labor force. Farmers are "very, very nervous about the availability and cost of labor in the near future," says Vision Robotics CEO Derek Morikawa...

...But it wasn't just technological challenges that held back previous attempts at building a mechanical harvester –- politics got involved, too. Cesar Chavez, the legendary leader of the United Farm Workers, began a campaign against mechanization back in 1978.

Chavez was outraged that the federal government was funding research and development on agricultural machines, but not spending any money to aid the farm workers who would be displaced. In the '80s, that simmering anger merged with a growing realization that the technology was nowhere near ready, and government funding dried up.

Scientists find drug to banish bad memories
Did I ask for that raise last week or not? Did I get my ass kicked by the police? Have I been exposed to harmful chemicals in my neighborhood? Has Oceania ALWAYS been at war with East Asia? What's that weird taste in the tap water? Oh well, I don't remember...
Researchers have found they can use drugs to wipe away single, specific memories while leaving other memories intact. By injecting an amnesia drug at the right time, when a subject was recalling a particular thought, neuro-scientists discovered they could disrupt the way the memory is stored and even make it disappear.

The research has, however, sparked concern among parliamentary advisers who insist that new regulations are now needed to control the use of the drugs to prevent them becoming used by healthy people as a "quick fix".

But the US scientists behind the research insist that amnesia drugs could be invaluable in treating patients with psychiatric disorders such as post-traumatic stress...

...Scientists at New York University have published another new study where they claim to have erased a single memory from the brains of rats while leaving the rest of the animals' memories still intact.



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