by Tom Bosschaert

Oct. 13, 2012

Tom Bosschaert

In this edition of the Wormfood News Digest, we cover many developments including an update on the Syrian crisis, new legal updates on financial institutions, several amazing environmental and technology news stories, and much more...

Global News

  • The former Prime Minister of Syria, Riad Hijab, speaks out for the first time since he fled Syria to Jordan. He said that morals are down in the Assad regime, there are cracks in the military, and the regime is on the brink of crumbling.
  • New Delhi: The country has witnessed a 56 per cent drop in HIV related cases in the last one decade. "This has been possible due to political support at the highest levels to the various interventions under National AIDS Control Programme, including from Parliamentarians and elected leaders at the State and Local Levels and cooperation received from NGOs, and civil society"

Business & Economy

  • Britain's fifth-largest bank has agreed to pay $340 million to settle charges by New York regulators that it laundered money for Iranian clients.
  • The US Justice Department has said it will not prosecute Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs or its employees in a financial fraud probe.

Energy & Environment

  • Scientists say the notoriously dry continent of Africa is sitting on a vast reservoir of groundwater. They argue that the total volume of water in aquifers underground is 100 times the amount found on the surface.
  • Two recent studies highlight the harm that industrial fisheries are doing to the world’s seabirds, either by overharvesting the birds’ favorite prey or by drowning birds hooked on longlines. But tighter regulations and innovative technologies are starting to significantly reduce seabird “bycatch,” slashing it by 90 percent in some regions.
  • Proponents of fast-breeder nuclear technology argue that it can eliminate large stockpiles of nuclear waste and generate huge amounts of low-carbon electricity. But as the battle over a major fast-breeder reactor in the UK intensifies, skeptics warn that fast-breeders are neither safe nor cost-effective.
  • Breeding crops with roots a metre deeper in the ground could lower atmospheric CO2 levels dramatically, with significant environmental benefits, according to research by a leading University of Manchester scientist.

Science, Technology, & Design

  • Two researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College have deciphered a mouse's retina's neural code and coupled this information to a novel prosthetic device to restore sight to blind mice. The researchers say they have also cracked the code for a monkey retina — which is essentially identical to that of a human — and hope to quickly design and test a device that blind humans can use.
  • The US military has conducted a test flight of its hypersonic jet Waverider, aiming to reach Mach 6 (4,300mph; 6,900km/h) above the Pacific Ocean. WaveRider is one of several projects currently under way to create an aeroplane able to reach much higher speeds than today's jets, after Concorde was decommissioned in 2003.

Urban Environment

  • Despite having a fast-growing economy, 40% of India's children are malnourished. A BBC News video explains how there have been consistent food surpluses in India and there are warehouses full of grain capable of providing food for millions. However there is corruption and mismanagement in the existing internal food aid programs."
  • About 3 percent of the electricity consumed in the United States and other developed nations is used to treat wastewater. But, a technology breakthrough from engineers at Oregon State University could be a key in turning the world’s waste treatment facilities into mini-power plants.
  • Levels of some automobile-related pollutants in Los Angeles have plummeted by 98 percent since the 1960s, even as gasoline consumption nearly tripled during the same period, a new study says. 

Unexpected and Intriguing

  • Conspiracy theorists, eat your heart out. Documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation reveal the full agenda of the 2012 Bilderberg meeting. 
  • Al-Qaeda’s ‘suicide bombers wanted’ ad job offer on closed Internet forum seeks applicants who are utterly committed to completing their mission
  • All The Places In The World That Are Running Out Of Water (map)

This bi-weekly digest is made by assembling items from all of Except’s people. Have questions, comments, or news items to suggest? E-mail Read past Wormfood global news reports here.

Oct. 13, 2012