by Tom Bosschaert

Oct. 13, 2012

Tom Bosschaert

Dear fellow Digesters, In this edition of the Wormfood News Digest, we update you on many top stories including the pursuit of legal action against banks involved in the libor scandal, embargo developments in the Strait of Hormuz, some really amazing technological developments, and an important update from the physicists at CERN.

Global News

  • A woman in Afghanistan was discovered by the Taliban to have had an adulterous encounter (either through rape or romantic involvement) The righteous punishment for the woman was to torture, and then kill her. Only a few weeks ago, a 30-year-old woman and two of her children were beheaded in eastern Afghanistan by a man police said was her divorced husband, the latest of a string of so-called "honour killings."
  • A Dutch-Iranian young man recently posted criticism of "infallible" Imam on Facebook. Soon after, back in Iran, his father was arrested, and jailed in a prison notorious for its torture practices. 

Business & Economy

  • The United States hit Iran with a raft of economic restrictions, as well as stepping up military presence in the Strait of Hormuz, alongside the Royal Navy. This move coincides with the recent European Union oil embargo on Islamic Republic.
  • The US justice department is preparing a criminal case against major banks and individuals over international interest rate manipulation The "Libor" scandal so far has been most acute in London, with public outcry that regulation in Britain was lax. But concern has grown about the wider impact on consumers and the involvement of US regulators.

Energy & Environment

  • New project in Florida Keys restores vital organisms in world's largest reef restoration programme.
  • The Dead Sea — the lowest terrestrial point on the planet — is dropping at an alarming rate, falling more than 1 meter a year. A $10 billion proposal to pipe water from the Red Sea is being opposed by conservationists, who point to alternatives that could help save one of the world’s great natural places.
  • The European Union has just introduced strict new auto emissions standards that officials say would cut carbon dioxide emissions by a 1/3 by 2020.

Science, Technology, & Design

  • Nanobubbles can revive polluted lakes, clean computer chips and might even make wonder drugs. Not bad considering they shouldn't exist.
  • This "airbag" helmet is certainly a new way of approaching the aesthetics and effectiveness of bicycle safety.
  • New aerographite material is worlds lightest. It is composed of 99.99% air, aerographite has an ultra low density of just 0.2 mg/cm³ and is said to demonstrate extraordinary electrical properties. Because it is electrically conductive and chemical-resistant, the researchers believe it could potentially find its way into devices such as batteries.

Urban Environment

  • Georgia is planning a fantastical, 'Dubai-style' economic zone in what is currently a poverty-sodden wetland. The new city is expected to hold half million people, but critics say the plan will be both an environmental and financial calamity.
  • Of the 600 highest-growth cities today, over 440 cities will be in emerging economies (242 cities will be in China) by 2025. One billion people will enter the global consuming class by 2025. They will have incomes high enough to classify them as significant consumers of goods and services, and around 600 million of them will live in the Emerging 440.
  • The "Plantagon" is something like a vertical greenhouse. Inside, it would house a conveyor belt that would carry produce from seedlings until they reach full maturity, ready for harvest. Plantagon is a Swedish company; currently the first structure is under construction in Sweden, with another in the works in China.

Unexpected and Intriguing

  • What is all this fuss about the Higgs boson? The physics community is abuzz that a fundamental particle expected by the largely successful Standard Model of particle physics may soon be found by the huge Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Europe.  Here is a little video to bring you up to speed.

  • A recent study suggests that computers could be better than seasoned police analysts at predicting when and where crime will strike next in a busy city.
  • The forecasts for the shape of the "global talent pool" in 2020 show China as rapidly expanding its graduate numbers - set to account for 29% of the world's graduates aged between 25 and 3
  • Here is a report (Dutch only) where several natural processes are given as examples of how we can solve some large sustainability issues.

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