by Tom Bosschaert

Oct. 13, 2012

Tom Bosschaert

In this edition of the Wormfood News Digest, we cover several amazing developments including the first person to be cured of AIDS, decisive action against financial institutions in Iran, significant melting of the Greenland ice sheet, two interesting insights on urban crime, and much more.

Global News

  • An influential group of scientists gathered this week at the International AIDS Conference in Washington is committing to a goal that just five years ago would have seemed ludicrous: to cure HIV. Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the “Berlin patient,” says doctors have told him he’s “cured of AIDS and will remain cured.”
  • A new report reveals conservative American Christian groups behind efforts to criminalise homosexuality in Africa.
  • Four people have been sentenced to death for their roles in Iran's biggest-ever bank fraud scandal.

Business & Economy

  • Rich individuals and their families have as much as $32 trillion of hidden financial assets in offshore tax havens, representing up to $280bn in lost income tax revenues, according to research published last week. One researcher exclaims: "What's shocking is that some of the world's biggest banks are up to their eyeballs in helping their clients evade taxes and shift their wealth offshore."
  • Revelations of lax anti-money laundering controls at HSBC are "shameful and embarrassing" for Europe's biggest bank, its boss said on Monday, and it may have to pay out well over $2 billion for the scandal and in compensation for UK mis-selling.
  • HSBC has also been fined $27.5m in Mexico for lax controls in its anti-money laundering systems."

Energy & Environment

  • Greenland sees unprecedented ice melt - According to measurements from three separate satellites analysed by NASA and university scientists, an estimated 97 per cent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July, the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.
  • Vehicles that virtually drive themselves are no longer the stuff of science fiction, with Google and other companies working to develop self-driving cars. These automated vehicles not only offer improved safety and fewer traffic jams, but real environmental benefits as well.
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has been weakening Canada’s environmental regulations and slashing funds for oversight and research — all while promoting aggressive resource development. Critics warn these unprecedented actions pose a major threat to the nation’s vast natural heritage.

Science, Technology, & Design

  • Japan using nuclear saves about $1 trillion versus Fossil fuels
  • Ramesh Raskar presents femto-photography, a new type of imaging so fast it visualizes the world one trillion frames per second, so detailed it shows light itself in motion. This technology may someday be used to build cameras that can look “around” corners or see inside the body without X-rays.

Urban Environment

  • 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.
  • Plant Tomatoes. Harvest Lower Crime Rates. A growing body of research might show that urban farms reduce violence. 
  • How your windows could be the future of electricity: Scientists create transparent solar panels out of 'glass-like' plastic

Unexpected and Intriguing

  • Every year around 20,000 young women in the UK and France are "at risk" from female genital mutilation (FGM), but the way each country's authorities deal with those who carry it out are very different.
  • 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.
  • An important piece of history from the Second World War may be sitting in a river in Labrador.

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