by Tom Bosschaert

Nov. 30, 2012

Tom Bosschaert

This edition of the Wormfood News Digest covers many recent developments, including the recent election in Egypt, climate talks in Doha, some truly amazing science and technology stories, and much more below.

Global News

  • Voters in Spain's Catalonia region have given a majority to parties seeking  Catalan independence.
  • In Egypt, president’s power grab unites those who once battled over Mubarak - With Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s decision to assume near-absolute power over his country, at least for now, secularists of all stripes have mobilized in ways unimaginable just a week ago.
  • More European states joined France on Wednesday in backing a Palestinian bid for limited statehood, but Britain held back, saying it wanted an assurance that the Palestinians would not pursue Israel through the International Criminal Court.

Business & Economy

  • "States and banks have made a deal with the devil." Banks buy the sovereign bonds needed to prop states up in the tacit understanding that the states will bail them out in a pinch. But experts warn that this symbiotic arrangement might be putting the entire financial system at risk.
  • Over 500 Bangladesh clothes factories for Walmart, H&M, Tesco & others declare wild-cat "holiday", fearing rising protests against bad labor conditions - Garment workers demanding end to "deathtraps" after new blaze sparks fresh panic & terror following worst-ever textile factory fire in country.

  • Bulging in the middle. A boom in sub-Saharan Africa is attracting business talent from the rich world.

Energy & Environment

  • Climate Talks Begin In Doha, A City With The Highest Per Capita Carbon Footprint In The World (See infographic: The politics of climate change. The positions of key countries and political blocs on climate change measures before the COP18 in Qatar.)

  • No broad-based international agreement on sharing rivers currently exists, even though much of the world depends on water from rivers that flow through more than one nation. But that may be about to change, as two separate global river treaties are close to being approved
  • The killing of rhinoceroses has escalated dramatically, especially in South Africa, which is home to 75 percent of the world’s rhino population. The slaughter is being orchestrated by brazen, highly organized gangs that smuggle the rhinos' horns to black markets in China and Southeast Asia.

Science, Technology, & Design

  • Rice University researchers demonstrate a mechanism to generate steam in seconds by focusing sunlight on a mixture of water and nanoparticles, before the water is even warm to the touch.
  • Blind people could soon be able to read street signs using an implant that translates the alphabet into Braille and beams an image of the Braille directly to visual neurons at the back of the eye.
  • New research suggests asteroid belts could be the key to life in a solar system

Urban Environment

  • 5 American towns leapfrogging toward a greener future: These places aren’t waiting for the rest of the world to set an example.
  • The first of a new generation of high-speed, magnetic levitation trains has been unveiled in Japan, designed to operate at speeds of more than 310mph.
  • Spinning flywheels boost subways: A technology normally associated with the steam age could make a comeback in tomorrow's trains.

Unexpected and Intriguing

  • a designer has created a low cost solution to landmine clearance.
  • People of the internets rejoice, as a Japanese study shows that looking at cute pictures of baby animals can actually improve concentration
  • Smells like the holiday spirit. WSU researchers tie simple scent to increased retail sales
  • "This data is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good," John Grotzinger, lead scientist of the MSL Mars mission 


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.

Nov. 30, 2012