Rat Reality Show: Russian Scientists to Broadcast GMO Experiment

Stephan:  I think this is a great idea. A well-designed and conducted study of GMO and its effects on rats being carried out in full view of the public. It will be interesting to see what happens and, if the results replicate those of the French study, I think it will spell the end of GMO.

After a French study suggested that rats fed on Monsanto GMO corn suffered tumors, Russian researches plan their own, this time public, experiment. The unique reality show with rats is expected to prove or deny GMO’s health-threatening influence.

­The Russian scientists, who oppose genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food, expect that their year-long experiment will show whether the controversial cultivation process has effects as dangerous as French revelations claimed on September 19.

Scientists from France’s University of Caen made public the results of their classified study, publishing the images of rats with tumors after they were fed a diet of genetically modified (GM) maize produced by American chemical giant Monsanto.

The revelation stirred fear across Europe and in Russia, where authorities temporarily suspended the import and sale of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn.

Russian researches from the National Association for Genetic Safety (NAGS) believe such experiments should be conducted publicly, so that people can see the process with their own eyes, and thus trust, or not, the study.

So they came up with the idea of public experiment. Web cameras, installed in cages with rats, will broadcast all stages of the experiment online. The unique reality show will be available on the Internet 24/7 worldwide.

‘This is […]

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Convicted TSA Agent: Stealing From Passenger Bags Is ‘Very

Stephan:  On a trip recently the man sitting next to me on the plane told me he had had valuables taken from his suitcase. He said he was convinced it was done by TSA agents, but couldn't prove it. I thought his story improbable but, as this report suggests, I was probably wrong, and he was correct. I would not place anything small and valuable in my suitcase, if you check your luggage. Even going through the checkpoints would concern me. Put it in a small bag and put it in the tubs provided so its absence would be immediately evident and highly noticeable.

A former Transportation Security Administration agent who spent three years in jail for stealing from passenger luggage told ABC News that the practice ‘was very commonplace.

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Top 5 Nations That Use Renewable Energy

Stephan:  Here is a report that may surprise you, and which I take to be good news. Not only is the use of alternative energy technologies rapidly increasing world wide, but the U.S. is the leading producer of such energy.

Solar, wind, tidal and geothermal energy made up only 1.3 percent of total global energy use in 2011, but that’s up 15.5 percent from the previous year. This is increasing due to policy and private investment, as well as commitments to reduce environmental impact and dependence on foreign energy sources. Here are the top five countries which are making use of renewable energy.

5.Brazil, 5 percent of world total

Renowned for its biofuel production, Brazil is also involved with developing technologies such as solar water heating, and for relationships with countries outside its region, such as China. Brazil boosted large investments into the wind sector through government auctions for contracts since introducing them in 2009. Brazil seeks to further renewable development and burnish its green credentials through supporting and attracting foreign investment into solar energy – as well as a pledge to have solar power in all twelve venues for the 2014 World Cup.

4.China, 7.6 percent of world total

China is the largest energy consumer and second-largest net importer of oil (as of 2009). China is also the global leader in clean energy sector investment, with half of its financing in wind.

3.Spain, 7.8 percent of world total

Spain imports the majority of […]

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Recipe for Disaster: The Formula That Killed Wall Street

Stephan:  Little by little the truth leaks out about the financial debacle that has so powerfully impacted all our lives. It is a study of foolishness, poor judgment, and greed. Click through to see the actual equation that caused the crash.

A year ago, it was hardly unthinkable that a math wizard like David X. Li might someday earn a Nobel Prize. After all, financial economists-even Wall Street quants-have received the Nobel in economics before, and Li’s work on measuring risk has had more impact, more quickly, than previous Nobel Prize-winning contributions to the field. Today, though, as dazed bankers, politicians, regulators, and investors survey the wreckage of the biggest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, Li is probably thankful he still has a job in finance at all. Not that his achievement should be dismissed. He took a notoriously tough nut-determining correlation, or how seemingly disparate events are related-and cracked it wide open with a simple and elegant mathematical formula, one that would become ubiquitous in finance worldwide.

For five years, Li’s formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels.

His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and […]

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Antarctica’s Speedy Ice Streams May Trigger Major Melting

Stephan:  Yesterday I gave you a report about the Arctic. Today, here is the latest on the other pole. It is no less alarming, if in a slightly earlier phase.

Antarctica’s ice streams flow like giant frozen rivers on the edges of the icy continent. These narrow glaciers already move more quickly than the ice surrounding them, but their flow will speed up even more in response to warming oceans, new research finds.

And this rapid movement could trigger major thinning in the interior of the Antarctic ice sheet, contributing to global sea-level rise, the study warns.

‘It has long been known that narrow glaciers on the edge of the Antarctica act as discrete arteries termed ice streams, draining the interior of the ice sheet,’ a researcher involved in the study Chris Fogwill, of Australia’s University of New South Wales, said in a statement.

‘However, our results have confirmed recent observations suggesting that ocean warming can trigger increased flow of ice through these narrow corridors. This can cause inland sectors of the ice sheet - some larger than the state of Victoria - to become thinner and flow faster,’ Fogwill added.

In the study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers analyzed simulations of ice-stream movement to see how it would affect the entire ice sheet. They factored in rising ocean temperatures.

In the simulations, ocean warming […]

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