by Tom Bosschaert

March 1, 2013

Tom Bosschaert

This edition of Wormfood covers several exciting news stories, including the surprising rise of the Bitcoin, elections in Italy and South Korea, several intriguing science and environment stories, and much more found below.

Global News

  • Italy is in political deadlock after a stunning election that saw a comedian's protest party lead the poll and no group secure a clear majority in parliament. The Italian stock market fell and state borrowing costs rose on Tuesday in response to the outcome.
  •  Park Geun-hye sworn in as South Korea president. Ms Park is the first woman to lead South Korea, promising a tough stance on national security and an era of economic revival.

Business & Economy

  • Nearly three years after a catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a multi-billion dollar civil case against British Petroleum and the other companies involved is set to open in court.
  • JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has tried his best to suggest that the financial crisis was someone else's fault. But a batch of court documents released this week undermine this claim, indicating that the bank knew the mortgage investments it sold were seriously flawed.
  • Top European Union officials have struck an agreement on a package of financial laws that includes capping bankers' bonus payments at a maximum of one year's basic salary, in a move politicians hope will address public anger at financial sector greed.
  • The value of virtual currency Bitcoin has reached an all-time high, trading at more than $33 (£22).

Energy & Environment

  • Lion populations have fallen by 68% in just 50 years – from 100,000 to 35,000 today. What can be done to protect them?
  • An energy revolution is taking place in East Africa as the price of solar technology tumbles and huge resources of geothermal steam beneath the Great Rift Valley start to be exploited, moves which have the potential to lift millions out of poverty and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Wild Bees Are Good For Crops, But Crops Are Bad For Bees

  • Public concern about environmental issues including climate change has slumped to a 20-year low since the financial crisis, a global study reveals.

Science, Technology, & Design

Urban Environment

  • Guangzhou Liwan Planning department announced two winning schemes for the Guangzhou Huadi Fangchun Sustainable Master Plan Competition. Check them out here.
  • Berliners are outraged at plans to demolish part of the world-famous East Side Gallery, the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall, to make way for luxury apartments and a pedestrian bridge across the River Spree.
  • Japan is already making headway with autonomous heavy duty trucks. In order to save fuel, the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) has programmed a convoy of four trucks to drive just four meters (about 13 feet) apart. That cuts down on air resistance, reducing drag (and thus improving fuel efficiency) similar to drafting with a race car.

Unexpected and Intriguing

  • On Bastoy prison island in Norway, the prisoners, some of whom are murderers and rapists, live in conditions that critics brand 'cushy' and 'luxurious'. Yet it has by far the lowest reoffending rate in Europe
  • This month the Canadian mint stopped distributing the penny, or one-cent piece, as it costs more to make than it is worth. It's far from being the lowest-value coin around, however. Some central banks are clinging on to coins that are truly "small change".
  • Worrying takes years off your life, right? Well, maybe not. Pessimists rejoice: happy-go-lucky, care-free peers of yours probably won’t live as long as you. New research suggests that the downers wind up outlasting the uppers.

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.

March 1, 2013