Sunday, May 31, 2009

Videos of Lake Cowal

A Wiradjuri elder exposes a pit collapse at the Barrick's gold mine at Lake Cowal.

Peaceful protest at Lake Cowal. Some good photos of the lake.

There's Gold in Them Thar Wetlands

All photos courtesy of

Lake Cowal is situated 47 km north east of West Wyalong in central New South Wales (NSW). It is the state’s largest natural inland lake and is part of the Wilbertroy-Cowal Wetlands within the large flood plain of the Jemalong Plain. Lake Cowal receives most of its water from its major tributary, Bland Creek, buffered by occasional floods from the Lachlan River. However, this enough to keep the lake full only seven out of ten years. As the flood waters begin to recede, the lake drains back into the Lachlan River.

Lake Cowal has earned a place in the Australian Register of the National Estate and in its Directory of Important Wetlands. The National Trust of Australia (NSW) has listed the lake as a “Landscape Conservation Area”. The Australian Heritage Commission has suggested the NSW government consider the lake Cowal region for listing under the Ramsar Convention as a Wetland of International Importance.

Under the Ramsar Convention on Wetland, members (Australia is one) are obligated to promote conservation, repair and wise use of all that member’s wetlands. Australia has lost 89% of its wetlands over the last century making Lake Cowal a potentially contentious issue.

The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Services (NSW NPWS) states:
“Lake Cowal is listed on the National Estate because of the diversity and number of species that inhabit the lake. For example, Lake Cowal has at least three recorded accounts of more than 1% the Australian population of some wader species. As such, Lake Cowal also meets the Ramsar Wetlands of Importance listing criteria. The NPWS is of the opinion that Lake Cowal provides significant wetland habitats and drought refuge both in area, diversity of habitat types and duration of availability of resources.”

Unfortunately, there is gold in the land around Lake Cowal and greed has raised its ugly head. There is a proposed ‘Mining Lease Application’ which would encompass approximately 2,650 hectares (10.23 sq.mi.) under consideration for Lake Cowal and area.

One hundred and twenty-eight million tons of low to medium grade ore would be excavated from an open cut pit 1 kilometer wide by 325 meters deep on the lake shore. This operation would be partly within the high water level of Lake Cowal. It is estimated that 2.7 million ounces of gold could be realized from this site.

In February, 1999, following the findings of a second Commission of Inquiry, the New South Wales Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, the Hon. Craig Knowles, signed a Consent to the development application made by North Gold (WA) Ltd for an open-cut cyanide leach gold mine.

The only barrier between the lake and the open pit would be an earth wall or bund. Tailings would be stored in dams 3.5 kilometers from the lake. Water would be supplied from a bore in the Bland Creek Paleochannel borefiled, 20 km east of the mine site and would pump up to 16 megalitres per day.

Besides being one of the last in a long line of dwindling wetlands, Lake Cowal is a wealth of biodiversity and home to many endangered flora and fauna species.

Some of the endangered bird/bat life it supports are the Austral Pillwort (Pilularia novae-hollandiae), Winged Peppercress (Lepidium monoplocoides), Australasian Bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus), Blue-billed Duck (Oxyura australis), Painted Snipe (Rostratula benghalensis), Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa), Yellow-bellied Sheathtail-bat (Saccolaimus flaviventris), and the Little Pied Bat (Chalinolobus picatus). This list is by no means exhaustive as 227 species of birds have either been recorded or are considered as possible stopovers in the Lake Cowal region.

Significant numbers of migratory species listed in the China - Australia Migratory Birds Agreement, (CAMBA) and the Japan - Australia Migratory Birds Agreement (JAMBA) use the lake as habitat. As a signatory to these two agreements, Australia is responsible for the conservation of the habitat of these listed species.

There are protected species under the water as well as on top. The lake is home to such fish as the Silver Perch (Bidyabus bidyabus) which is protected in New South Wales; the Freshwater Catfish (Tandanus tandanus) which is subject to a voluntary ban by commercial fishers; and the Macquarie Perch (Macquaria australasica) also protected.

Lake Cowal / The Bland is an important sacred region for the Aboriginal Traditional Owners and is often called "the Heartland of the Wiradjuri Nation".

When explorers first came to Lake Cowal they recorded how tribal Aboriginals used the area as a campsite and sacred site. There are many thousands of artifacts and relics at the Lake Cowal site that are testimony to this usage.

Barrick Gold and their predecessors have not consulted with the traditional Aboriginal owners from the region, many of whom have declared their opposition to the Lake Cowal gold mine project. No attention was paid to the fact that this land is interwoven with their ancestors, their lives today, and their identity.

Developing a gold mine at Lake Cowal has already meant much destruction of this Aboriginal Sacred Site including Aboriginal artifacts, scar trees (used to mark graves of the people) and other cultural objects. Barrick Gold has now been granted a “Consent to Destroy” from the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Services. This permit has allowed Barrick Gold to proceed with this destruction.

See Valentines Day Action.

Click here for media releases about court actions of Wiradjuri Elder Neville Williams.

Cyanide is so lethal only one teaspoon of a 2% solution can kill an adult human. It is even more toxic to aquatic biota than to birds. Despite the fact that the gold mining industry claims that leaks, spills and other accidents are few, far between and not as harmful as the public fears; cyanide leaks and spills are commonplace in the industry. These mining accidents have poisoned entire river systems devastating the bird life.

Another fallacy is that cyanide breaks down rapidly into safe chemicals. The truth is that many potential breakdown products are nearly as lethal as cyanide itself.

A spill of wastewater containing cyanide, arsenic and potentially other toxins could severely damage the entire Cowal wetland (one of the 11% of wetlands left in Australia) and related waterways including the Murray River System. The Murray River system is already over-stressed by salt, nitrogen, acidity and agricultural chemicals. As well as the risk of killing fish, bird-life and farm stock; toxins could enter the food chain jeopardizing fishing industries and drinking water. (See CYANIDE ACCIDENTS – unfortunately only updated to December 2006).

Dr Barry Noller, Deputy Director of the National Research Center for Environmental Toxicology, in “Cowal Gold Project: Comments on the Environmental Impact Statement” writes, “longer term generation of seepage under alkaline pH and more alkaline conditions may give solubilization of arsenic. Note that arsenic is soluble under alkaline conditions and that the predominant form is arsenite. Arsenite is extremely toxic to biota and is a carcinogen. Evidence the effect of population drinking groundwater in Bangladesh, through contraction of skin cancer.”

Noller also notes, "Data for trace elements in mine waste rock is not given, although it is indicated that arsenic levels are high. This data should be made public. Waste rock emplacement is close to Lake Cowal and seepage may reach Lake Cowal.”

For further information; or, to volunteer to help: contact

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sixty Ways To Use Salt

1. Soak stained hankies in salt water before washing.

2. Sprinkle salt on your shelves to keep ants away.

3. Soak fish in salt water before descaling; the scales will come off easier.

4. Put a few grains of rice in your salt shaker for easier pouring.

5. Add salt to green salads to prevent wilting.

6. Test the freshness of eggs in a cup of salt water; fresh eggs sink; bad ones float.

7. Add a little salt to your boiling water when cooking eggs; a cracked egg will stay in its shell this way. If the egg cracks before putting it in boiling water, seal the crack with salt and boil as usual.

8. A tiny pinch of salt with egg whites makes them beat up fluffier.

9. Soak wrinkled apples in a mildly salted water solution to perk them up.

10. Rub salt on your pancake griddle and your flapjacks won't stick.

11. Soak toothbrushes in salt water before you first use them; they will last longer.

12. Use salt to clean your discolored coffee pot.

13. Mix salt with turpentine to whiten you bathtub and toilet bowl.

14. Soak nuts in salt brine overnight and they will crack out of their shells whole. Just tap the end of the shell with a hammer to break it open easily.

15. Boil clothespins in salt water before using them and they will last longer.

16. Clean brass, copper and pewter with paste made of salt and vinegar, thickened with flour.

17. Add a little salt to the water your cut flowers will stand in for a longer life.

18. Pour a mound of salt on an ink spot on your carpet; let the salt soak up the stain.

19. Clean your iron by rubbing some salt on the damp cloth on the ironing surface.

20. Adding a little salt to the water when cooking foods in a double boiler will make the food cook faster.

21. Use a mixture of salt and lemon juice to clean piano keys.

22. To fill plaster holes in your walls, use equal parts of salt and starch, with just enough water to make a stiff putty.

23. Rinse a sore eye with a little salt water.

24. Mildly salted water makes an effective mouthwash. Use it hot for a sore throat gargle.

25. Dry salt sprinkled on your toothbrush makes a good tooth polisher.

26. Use salt for killing weeds in your lawn.

27. Eliminate excess suds with a sprinkle of salt. This is way sticking your finger in the foam from pop or beer will cause it to disappear. It's the salt on your finger.

28. A dash of salt in warm milk makes a more relaxing beverage.

29. Before using new glasses, soak them in warm salty water for awhile.

30. A dash of salt enhances the taste of tea.

31. Salt improves the taste of cooking apples.

32. Soak your clothes line in salt water to prevent your clothes from freezing to the line; likewise, use salt in your final rinse to prevent the clothes from freezing.

33. Rub any wicker furniture you may have with salt water to prevent yellowing.

34. Freshen sponges by soaking them in salt water.

35. Add raw potatoes to stews and soups that are too salty.

36. Soak enamel pans in salt water overnight and boil salt water in the next day to remove burned-on stains.

37. Clean your greens in salt water for easier removal of dirt.

38. Gelatin sets more quickly when a dash of salt is added.

39. Fruits put in mildly salted water after peeling will not discolor.

40. Fabric colors hold fast in salty water wash.

41. Milk stays fresh longer when a little salt is added.

42. Use equal parts of salt and soda for brushing your teeth.

43. Sprinkle salt in your oven before scrubbing clean.

44. Soaked discolored glass in a salt and vinegar solution to remove stains.

45. Clean greasy pans with a paper towel and salt.

46. Salty water boils faster when cooking eggs.

47. Add a pinch of salt to whipping cream to make it whip more quickly.

48. Sprinkle salt in milk-scorched pans to remove odor.

49. A dash of salt improves the taste of coffee.

50. Boil mismatched hose in salty water and they will come out matched.

51. Salt and soda will sweeten the odor of your refrigerator.

52. Cover wine-stained fabric with salt; rinse in cool water later.

53. Remove offensive odors from stove with salt and cinnamon.

54. A pinch of salt improves the flavor of cocoa.

55. To remove grease stains in clothing, mix one part salt to four parts alcohol.

56. Salt and lemon juice removes mildew.

57. Sprinkle salt between sidewalk bricks where you don't want grass growing.

58. Polish your old kerosene lamp with salt for a better look.

59. Remove odors from sink drainpipes with a strong, hot solution of salt water.

60. If a pie bubbles over in your oven, put a handful of salt on top of the spilled juice. The mess won't smell and will bake into a dry, light crust which will wipe off easily when the oven has cooled.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Get Cracking, McDonalds

I will only eat eggs from free-range, organically-fed chickens. The photo below shows what I think is the idyllic setting for raising poultry. There is a totally different taste to eggs from free-range, organically-fed hens. The yolks are a brilliant golden in colour coming from the variety in the chickens’ diet – grass, insects, worms, and seeds that are full of nothing but natural goodness.

Photo courtesy UBC Chicken Feed Project.

However, the taste of the end product (pun, intended!) is a very small concern when you consider the unnatural, unhappy, life of the battery hen. These poor birds are condemned to a shortened life in a barn with no fresh air, tiny cages, drugged-up food, no mental stimulation, no way to indulge in any natural behaviours and an artificial night/day environment.

Fortunately, battery operations seem to be losing ground in the court of public opinion.

Photo courtesy Public Record Office Victoria.

Lately, McDonald’s has been accused of being slow to act in fulfilling its promise to use 100% cage-free birds in supplying the 3 billion eggs used annually by 2010.

While the Chicago-based burger empire is taking part in a trial of alternatives to the battery cages that are used at farms across the US, it would appear that public opinion plays a major role in some of their decision making.

Some animal rights activists are accusing McDonald’s of engaging in unnecessary research to delay the change to switching to free-range hens. They point out that in Britain, where animal rights are a prominent public concern; almost all of the chain’s eggs come from free-range chickens.

McDonald’s might even been seen as trying to get out of their commitment to be cage-free by 2010 when one listens to Bob Langart, McDonald’s head of corporate social responsibility. He says: "Our experience and the evidence suggests that there's room for both, and that there are pros and cons to both."

He went on to state that there was a "lack of objective information and science" over the benefits of abandoning cages. He said free-range farms had disadvantages, including "issues with aggressive behaviour, issues with increased mortality rates and issues with cleanliness".

Part of McDonald’s success has been its unwavering uniformity of product no matter where on the planet you purchase it; so, this differing international approach to animal welfare is a rare area of variation.

Steve Easterbrook, the chain’s UK chief executive has taken every opportunity to emphasize his country’s operation's progressive policies citing the UK’s use of free-range eggs, fair-trade coffee and organic milk.

He told a conference last year that McDonald's wanted to stay ahead of the national debate on animal rights: "Animal welfare across the next couple of years will become a mass topic of discussion in the general public."

The Humane Society of the United States said the US chain lags behind competitors such as Burger King, Quiznos, Denny's and Hardee's – all of which use cage-free eggs.

However, despite everything, eggs laid by tens of thousands of birds in the study will begin appearing in Egg McMuffins and other breakfast offerings by 2011 at the company's 14,000 US restaurants. The study will be exploring free-range chickens or enlarged cages with perches and nests.

A McDonald's restaurant on 42nd Street in Times Square, New York. Photograph Reuters.

Still not my idyllic picture of where my egg should come from. Let McDonald’s know how you feel about their hesitancy to change from using battery hens.

1. Go to the USA headquarter's website and use their "contact us" feature to send an email protesting the use of caged hens and urging them to use eggs from free-range chickens only.

2. Write a letter to your local McDonald's expressing your concern. Point out that the UK McDonalds use 95% free-range hens.

3. Ask your friends who eat at McDonald's if they realize the eggs they are eating are from battery hens. I bet most of them have never thought about it.

4. Have a blog or website? Do a short article on this and inform your readers of what's happening.

5. Let McDonald's know you will take your breakfast business (if not all your business) to an establishment that uses free-range eggs.

6. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper and send a copy to McDonald's.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

World Oceans Day - June 8

Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch.

With all the land-based activities of celebrations such as Earth Day, it’s easy to forget that there is an entire oceanic world that also needs our help.

The proposition to create a World Oceans Day was first made in 1992 at the Earth Summit by the Government of Canada. However, it took activists from Oceana, other conservation groups and ocean protection groups signing petitions by the thousands to “encourage” the UN to finally declare June 8 as official World Oceans Day. Finally, after 16 years of tabling it, the United Nations has acted. It was a long time coming.

A quote from the C.E.O. of Oceana, Andrew Sharpless.
“We applaud the United Nations for formally establishing a day for the other 71 percent of the planet.” Making World Oceans Day official will help us and other ocean groups to engage more people and to increase public support for efforts to reverse the declining health of marine ecosystems.”

The U.N. will organize events to be held on World Oceans Day at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Oceana is also working on a big event, planning its largest-ever celebration in 2009 in honor of the now official World Oceans Day.

Ways in which we can help our oceans: (taken from The Ocean Conservancy)
1. Not all fish are created equal: If you eat fish, choose sustainably harvested seafood, which helps keep fish stocks healthy and ensures that marine mammals aren't caught by mistake. Speak up at your favorite restaurant and let them know you'd like sustainable seafood on the menu. (To read about one man's plight to save fisheries and fish stocks in the North Atlantic, check out our recent post on Goldman Environmental Prize Winner Orri Vigfusson).

2. Get down and dirty: Help spruce up beaches and shorelines. Trash is unsightly and it threatens the lives of birds and animals that ingest it and get entangled in it.

3. Fishmongers beware: If you can't kick your fishing hobby, at least be sure to retrieve your lines right after you're finished angling. Just be careful not to tug too hard on snagged lines-they could disrupt habitats below the surface.

4. Drain your brain: Mapping out local drains will help you understand where things that get dumped end up. Illegal dumping into pipes that drain to the ocean or other waterways can severely damage coastal habitats.

5. Be a good guest: Enjoy the beach, but keep a respectful distance from wildlife, especially at night, when animals may be nesting.

6. Brag about it! Tell your friends and family about your ocean conservation efforts and get others involved.

7. Boat but don't gloat: Be responsible about fueling up and cleaning up. If spilled, a single quart of oil can create a two-acre oil slick. Releasing untreated sewage from a 20-gallon holding tank has the same impact as discharging several thousand gallons of treated sewage from a treatment plant.

8. Relax without guilt: Take vacations in places where locals are protecting endangered sea animals, such as sea turtles. Your financial support keeps conservation alive in areas that need it most.

9. Just say no: When shopping, decline plastic bags and take reusable ones with you instead. Too much plastic ends up in our oceans, where it can choke and drown marine life.

10. Use your voice: Join an online activist network such as the Ocean Conservancy, which makes contacting your legislators easy.

For more wet-n-wild ways to take action, visit the Ocean Conservancy.

A Quote From John Burroughs

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order".

In my mind, there is no better place to sweep the cobwebs from your mind than out in nature. A short time there and the right thing always becomes apparent.

Did You Know That...

The Beluga whale is the only whale that can bend its neck, giving it increased mobility compared to other whales.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mankind - 2; Orangutans - 0

Orangutans at Pringen Safari park in Pasuruan. Part of a national park on Borneo island home to hundreds of endangered orangutans has been turned into a development zone complete with an airport and brothels, Indonesian activists said. (Photo courtesy: AFP/File/Aman Rahman)

At the risk of causing my good friend, K, to cry, I regretfully post this further violation to the Orangutan population.

The Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) released a statement revealing that almost 600 orangutans have disappeared from the Kutai National Park over the last seven years. The Park is located in the East Kalimantan province which, coincidentally, has seen unchecked construction for the past seven years.

"The number of orangutans in the area, which was 600 individuals in 2004, has fallen to only 30 to 60 individuals at present," Hardi Baktiantoro from the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) told AFP.

The main cause of this incredible decrease in the Orangutan population lies with the East Kalimantan administration. In 2002, they received permission from the national Forestry Ministry to build a 60 km (37.2 mi) road through the park, the COP says. Commercial and residential development stole 23,712 hectares (58,569 acres) of forest from the “old people of the jungle”. Almost overnight, seven new villages sprung up causing the Orangutans to retreat even further into the forest.

"The Kutai National Park has been changing into a city, complete with an airport, gas stations, marketplace... a bus terminal and prostitution complex," COP habitat campaign manager Yon Thayrun said in a press release.

Thayrun elaborates: "The root of the problem with the Kutai National Park is a breach of duty committed by officials to get political and financial advantages. They gave away land spaces to people to win their votes in the local administration elections. They also mobilize people to seize the national park area."

As one would expect, Forest Ministry spokesman Masyhud denied that the forest had been badly damaged. In an effort to downplay the claims of conservationists he accused them of exaggerating the impact of the road on the orangutans.

"Its scale is not as dramatic as they have said. The road development has not sacrificed the national park. Like in many countries, a national park isn't meant to be completely sterile of social and economic development. It's true that this road development affected the orangutan habitat; but, it's only temporary as they have adapted to it. We have also implemented some conservation programmes involving local communities."

Following is a video of Kutai National Park.

Ghent, Belgium Goes Vegetarian

Photo courtesy of: care2

Ghent, Belgium (pop. 200,000) is 30 miles west of Brussels. Two weeks ago, this small city decided to try an unusual approach in reduce global warming. Despite the fact that the city is renowned for its fish and shellfish, Ghent has decided to go meat and seafood free every Thursday.

The Guardian praises the move:
"On the eve of what is being touted as an unprecedented exercise, the biggest queue in the Flemish university town of 200,000 yesterday was for signatures – to collect a bag of wholefood goodies and sign up for 'Donderdag – Veggie Dag', turning the burghers of Ghent into pioneers in the fight against obesity, global warming, cruelty to animals and against the myth that meat-free eating amounts to a diet of soggy lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a foul-tasting bean burger."

Ghent's officials are teaming up with Belgium's national vegetarian organization, EVA (Ethical Vegetarian Alternative). An EVA statement said: "Ghent, in co-operation with the vegetarian organization EVA, is determined to go the extra mile in our common battle against climate change. Other Belgian cities have already shown interest in following Ghent's example."

Apparently, the city council was persuaded to back the idea when vegetarian chef Philippe van den Bulck served a gourmet banquet at the town hall. It appears that Chef Philippe managed to change minds about how delicious vegetarian cooking can be.

As any self-respecting city should do when promoting an idea as great as this one, Ghent threw a party to celebrate the first veggie Thursday. The city distributed vegetarian recipes; lists of vegetarian restaurants, food samples, fair-trade wine and demonstrations were given on how to cook a 'green' meal.

We hope that the university, other institutions, enterprises and other towns will jump on the train," said the director of the local branch of EVA. Already other towns in Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada are making inquiries regarding the planning and promotion of this type of event.

As explained in Kathy Freston's article, Vegetarian is the New Prius,
"For a decade now, the image of Leonardo DiCaprio cruising in his hybrid Toyota Prius has defined the gold standard for environmentalism. These gas-sipping vehicles became a veritable symbol of the consumers' power to strike a blow against global warming. Just think: a car that could cut your vehicle emissions in half - in a country responsible for 25% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions… Last year researchers turned their attention to another gas guzzling consumer purchase… The researchers found that, when it's all added up, the average American does more to reduce global warming emissions by going vegetarian than by switching to a Prius."

Will Veggie Thursdays catch on? I hope so!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Asian Pulp & Paper - 1; Orangutans - 0

Photo: James Gagen via flickr.

It has been a case of one step forward, two steps back for the orangutans of Sumatra. The first orangutans to be reintroduced to the wild were released in 2002. Since that time, they have established themselves in the area, breeding and forming new family groups. They have been an environmentalist’s dream – thriving, breeding, increasing in numbers – and blissfully unaware of Asian Pulp and Paper (APP) and the Sinar Mas Group (SMG).

Enter Asian Pulp & Paper and the Sinar Mas Group. They are planning to log the only area in which orangutans have been so successfully reintroduced. The area in question is the forest surrounding the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. Unfortunately, not only the orangutans are being threatened.

Map courtesy of WWF (World Wildlife Fund)

The Bukit Tigapuluh National Park in addition to orangutans contains about one quarter of the world's remaining Sumatran tigers, and a significant population of Sumatran elephants. Also in danger are the Talang Mamak and Orang Rimba forest-dwelling indigenous people along with the traditional Malay peasants who inhabit the forest edges. Both the Malay and the tribal people represent a living tradition of interaction with the rainforest and the use of its resources in harmony with. The rapid deforestation of this area is quickly increasing the marginalization of these peoples.

The park also provides vital catchment protection for several large rivers that sustain downstream agricultural communities. Without this system intact, there is a very real danger that food crops downstream from the Park will be affected with possible food shortages in those areas.

The Bukit Tigapuluh area was surveyed by NORINDRA (Norwegian-Indonesian Rainforest and Resource Management Project). Researchers observed and recorded 660 plant species (including 246 medicinal plants used by the local population) preserving 550 of the species found. Many rare and threatened non-utilized plant species were also recorded.

Many rare and threatened non-utilized plant species were also recorded. One example is the locally named Cendawan muka rimau ("Tiger-face mushroom"), which is none other than Rafflesia hasseltii previously observed in only two locations (West Sumatra and Pulau Tioman, Malaysia). Photo courtesy Kki-WARSI website.

Also discovered were 192 species of birds, almost 1/3 of all bird species known from Sumatra. Breeding was confirmed of 18 species of birds not previously known to breed on Sumatra, including the Garnet pitta (Pitta granatina) which had not been recorded for this island for more than 70 years. At least 10 of the bird species recorded are globally threatened.

Some 59 species of mammals were recorded, 5 of which are globally threatened, including the Oriental small-clawed otter (Aonyx cincerea), Clouded leopard (Neofelic nebulosa), Tiger (Panthera tigris), Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus), and Elephant (Elephas maximus).

Of the 98 species of fish collected and preserved, one of these, a Glass-perch, turned out to be a previously undiscovered species. It has been given the name Gymnochanda limi.

Here’s the situation as WWF sees it.
APP/SMG pushed a legally questionable logging road through both areas last year, opening up access for rampant illegal logging and clearing linked with increased fatalities as tigers are driven into closer contact with humans.

With the latest acquisition, APP/SMG now holds the majority of the buffer areas to the national park, including large areas the Forestry Service of Jambi and the National Park management authority agreed in 2008 to designate as the Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem which would be sustainably managed as natural forest.

Less than one third of the 2007 forest cover is within the National Park, with the areas most preferred by animals and indigenous peoples lying in the surrounding lowland forests now vulnerable to clearing.

Peter Pratje of the Frankfurt Zoological Society has this to say: “It took scientists decades to discover how to successfully reintroduce critically endangered orangutans from captivity into the wild. It could take APP just months to destroy an important part of their new habitat.”

He continues, “these lowland forests are excellent habitat for orangutans, which is why we got government permission to release them here beginning in 2002. The apes are thriving now, breeding and establishing new family groups.”

Things we can do to help preserve one of Indonesia’s key areas of biodiversity:

1. Send an email to Asian Pulp & Paper explaining your boycott of their products -
2. Visit the website and leave a comment on their "Ethics" section.
3. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper drawing attention to this environmental disaster in the making.
4. If one of their products is stocked locally, let the store owner what AP&P is planning.
5. If anyone you know and/or your company use these products, let them know what AP& P is planning and request their assistance in your boycott of their products.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

California Condor Endangered Due To Lead Poisoning

Image courtesy of: Audubon Arizona (The California Condor © Chris Parish, Peregrine Fund)

On July 11, 2007, Audubon California, Defenders of Wildlife and Ventana Wildlife Society issued a joint press release highlighting a Statement of Scientific Agreement. It has already been accepted that lead ammunition causes lead poisoning and eventual death in California Condors. The press release stressed the importance of a broad coalition of scientists backing the conclusion that lead ammunition should be banned in condor country.

Audubon Arizona is partnering with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Peregrine Fund, Audubon California and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to disseminate information about lead toxicity and the California Condor. They will also disseminate information on the need to remove lead ammunition from the environment.

Here are the Condor statistics from 2007:

Condor Numbers (updated 4/26/07)
Total population 285
Captive population 144
Wild population 141
Arizona population 63
California population 69
Baja population 12

Many hunters are getting the message. Most apparently have switched to steel and copper shot; but, some farmers and ranchers who are worried about wild pigs and vermin harming their livelihood still use lead bullets. The lead ends up digested by some condors, leading to poisoning and eventual death.

In northern Arizona, condors are located primarily near the Vermilion cliffs and Grand Canyon. The Marble Canyon Important Bird Area is being considered for global designation based upon the importance of the canyon to condors.

A recent condor death from lead poisoning marked the 14th since 1992.

Image courtesy of: USFWS (US Fish and Wildlife Service)

A Few Changes

Hi Readers:

I've moved the "Food and Other Products Recall" list to the right-hand side of the page. I won't use any blog space printing them; but, if you are interested, click the link. I have posted the two that I know of. If I discover any more I will add them as found.

I have also started a "Environmental Groups Needing Help". I have posted links to groups that require help with a cause. Many times the help required is just a signature on a petition; a request to help spread the word on an environmental issue; send one e-mail; or other similar request.

I do not/will not post a link to some organization that is ONLY requesting a donation.

Hope this helps make me more readable. Leave me a comment, request, criticism, musing or whatever anytime.

Turning Prayers Into Energy

Photo courtesty Inhabitat

Tibetan prayer wheels. Who hasn’t seen pictures of the huge wheels in motion as person after person, tourist after tourist, penitent after penitent, walk the line spinning each prayer wheel as they pass mumbling prayers.

Tibet's prayer wheels are believed to generate positive energy that helps refresh the soul and helps carry the petition from the penitents’ lips to God’s ear. An enterprising student has found a way that they can be used to harness another form of energy. One that refreshes the earth – kinetic energy.

Taikkun Yang Li, a student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s GFRY Studio, inventor of the Prayer Wheel Energy Generator, has entered it in the Milan Furniture Fair. The Prayer Wheel Energy Generator uses parts that are available globally – used bicycle parts and a discarded fan motor – making it ideal for third-world countries.

The idea couldn’t be simpler! Each spin generates a small amount of energy. The Prayer Wheel Energy Generator would harness that energy sending it straight into the electrical grid of the nearest county.

The picture below shows the inner workings of the Energy Generator.

Photo courtesty Inhabitat

Friday, May 22, 2009

Food and Other Products Recall

May 21---Oregon Food Bank recalls Frozen BLUEBERRIES
May 21---Valley Meats recalls GROUND BEEF Products
May 21---St. Clair Food recalls Pimento Cheese SPREAD
May 21---McFarling Foods recalls Harvest of Eden Cut GREEN BEANS
May 21---San Mar Manufacturing recalls Cool River FRUIT PUNCH
May 21---Nutro Products recalls Dry CAT FOOD Products
May 21---Rio Pluma recalls Several PEANUT PRODUCTS
May 21---Domega International issues allergy alert on Fmd SPICED BEANS
May 21---Arsenic levels high in RICE research---U.K.
May 21---Substandard RICE found in 99 Taipei schools---Taipei
May 21---Ross Stores recalls 39” St. Anne Acacia BENCHES
May 21---Bunn-O-Matic recalls Single Cup Tea/COFFEEMAKERS
May 21---Ely and Walker recall Cumberland Outfitters Girl’s Hooded SWEATSHIRTS
May 21---Gothic Cabinet Craft recalls Twin/Twin Extra-Large/Twin Over Full BUNK BEDS
May 21---Cunningham's Warehouse recalls Several CHILDREN'S TOYS---Australia
May 21---Ridge Tool recalls Ridgid 300 Power Drive Threading MACHINES---Australia
May 21---Triple Play Products recalls Sit'n'Stroll Child Restraint SYSTEMS
May 21---Arvinmeritor recalls Haldex Quick Release VALVES
May 21---Mozo Products recalls Several HID Headlight KITS
May 21---Kenworth recalls Several 2005-2009 TRUCKS
May 21---Jaguar recalls 2007-2009 XK VEHICLES
May 21---Autocar recalls 2008-2009 WXLL Class 8 VEHICLES
May 21---Volkswagen recalls 2006-2009 Jetta VEHICLES
May 21---Fleetwood recalls 2009 Tradition MOTORHOMES
May 21---Ducati recalls 2008 Desmosedici RR MOTORCYCLES
May 21---Nissan recalls 2003-2007 Murano VEHICLES
May 21---Scania recalls Several 2005-2008 TRUCKS---Australia
May 21---Hoffmann La Roche recalls Klonopin WAFERS
May 21---First Aid Only Inc. recalls Sore Throat LOZENGES
May 21---Hospira Inc. recalls Hydrocortisone Sodium SUCCINATES
May 21---Roche recalls MagNA Pure LC Robotic WORKSTATIONS
May 21---Draeger Medical recalls Carina Home VENTILATORS
May 21---Diagnostics Chemical recalls Limited Iron ASSAYS
May 21---CHS Nutrition recalls Safeguard Hog/Beef DEWORMER---Veterinary
May 21---TEVA Animal Health Inc. recalls Several Animal INJECTIONS---Veterinary
May 21---Ethicon Inc. updates ongoing SUTURE recall---International
May 21---DH recalls Qian Yan Cosmetic CREAMS---Hong Kong
May 21---Zimmer recalls Sirus Intramedullary NAILS---International
May 21---Smiths Medical recalls BCI Advisor Vital Signs MONITORS---International
May 21---GE Healthcare recalls Centricity TriWin Laboratory Information SYSTEMS---International

Stay safe, friends!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Food and Other Products Recall

May 20---Kelloggs recalls MorningStar Farms Mini CORN DOGS
May 20---New Jersey ShopRite recalls Store Made GROUND MEAT
May 20---Tiger Retail issues allergy alert on Rotstern CRISPY ROUNDS---U.K.
May 20---UWG Global updates Shine It Jewellery CLEANER recall---Canada
May 20---Target recalls Girls 1-6 Ladybird Hooded SWEAT TOPS---Australia
May 20---Norcold recalls Several RV REFRIGERATORS
May 20---Toyota recalls 2008 Highlander VEHICLES
May 20---Vertex Automotive recalls HID Conversion Kit BULBS
May 20---Terex Telelect recalls 1999-2001 HR37/HR40 Utility TRUCKS
May 20---Prowin Laboratories recalls Several Mouth Ulcer GELS---Hong Kong
May 20---Medtronic issues follow up action on Kappa/Sigma PACEMAKERS---Hong Kong

Stay safe, friends!

Food and Other Products Recall

May 19---Waitrose issues allergy alert on Oriental SUPPER FOR TWO w/ Spring Rolls---U.K.
May 19---MAF recalls Pork Liver SAUSAGES---France
May 19---10,000 tons of contaminated Chinese RADISH seized---China
May 19---European Food & Feed Recalls---Week 20
May 19---Cannondale recalls BICYCLES w/JD Suspension Forks
May 19---Trek recalls BICYCLES w/JD Suspension Forks
May 19---Norco recalls Bicycle FRAMES
May 19---Marine Power recalls Savage/Bermuda Aluminium/Fiberglass BOATS---Australia
May 19---Ford recalls 2008-2009 LV Focus/MA Mondeo VEHICLES---Australia

Stay safe, friends!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Homelessness Hits The Chelsea Flower Show

Set in the midst of the 86th Chelsea Garden Show is a fascinating and thought-provoking social experiment. The Garden Show is the pinnacle of the horticultural social scene boasting such attendees as the Queen and various celebrities on Opening Day.

The surprise entry at this year’s show is The Key – a major garden developed through a collaboration between a government agency working with the homeless, prisoners and the Eden Project. The Key is a worthy contender for Best In Show.

Paul Stone, the designer, member of Architecture sans Frontieres--U.K., developed it with Places of Change, a capital improvement programme. This programme was funded by government agencies seeking to improve services for people who are homeless or otherwise disenfranchised. Stone wanted the garden to symbolize the journey anyone could find themselves taking in these challenging economic times.

The garden is laid out with the intention of making the viewer experience the feeling a homeless/disenfranchised person feels trying to survive in the world today. When one enters the garden, they are overwhelmed with a feeling of foreboding. It is overgrown and decaying, with narrow winding obstacle paths. It is meant to show the hardship of working through life on the outside.

Take a close look at this bench!

There are brambles and thorns and poisonous plants in the garden. They reflect the difficult journey that prisoners must take. Mid-way are huge reclaimed timber pieces set into the ground much like totem poles. They are the storywall. Painted on them is a poem on homelessness done by a homeless person. They welcome you to the back area of the garden.

At the back it turns into a large, open, welcoming social space with a big table and chairs. There is a feeling of inclusion, abundance and bounty. There are vegetables growing and herbs in a shelf unit with a car's windshield as a protective roof.

Old keys are scattered all over the garden floor. They represent the key into society and a return to the real world.

Ninety per cent of the plants were grown from seed by the homeless. They also built the garden physically on site, dug the holes and made the structures. The garden is completely sustainable, the materials are from recycled sources and it will be broken down and reused afterwards.

Will it be prize worthy? There are many who think so.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cuttlefish TV - Coming Soon to a Television Near You?

Image: Getty & Samsung

When most people think of animals changing colour, the first one that pops to mind is the chameleon. However, very few people think of the cuttlefish – a member of the squid/octopi family. Not only can cuttlefish change colours in less than a second; but, they can make various patterns, such as waves of colour. Check out the videos below to see more of the amazing cuttlefish.

Science has for many years been interested in biomimicry – the adaptation of naturally-found processes to solve problems mankind has made themselves. Scientists at MIT are using the cuttlefish as inspiration to build electronic-ink and TV screens that could use less than one-hundredth the power of traditional television screens; yet, remain cheap, easy and safe using polystyrene.

"Cuttlefish change their color by secreting different chemicals to change the spacing between membranes," said Edwin Thomas, a professor at MIT. Thomas recently co-authored a paper describing his team's new screen in the journal Advanced Materials.

"We have created an artificial electrical system to control the spacing between layers," he said which enables the changing the colors on the screen.

Photo courtesy: Discovery News

From Discovery News:
The current screen prototype is several square inches across but only one micron thick. Crammed into that narrow space are 20 to 30 layers of alternating "dirt cheap polystyrene that doesn't do anything," said Thomas, and "responsive" poly-2 vinyl.

At rest, with no electrical charge, the screen is clear. As the voltage increases, the poly-2 vinyl expands, becoming thicker and thicker while reflecting ever longer wavelengths of light, starting with blue and finishing with red at 10 volts.

There are several drawbacks with the present screen: the viewing angle can be limited; the screen needs to be viewed it a lit room; in a dark room the screen would remain blank. However, this is “early days” yet; and, there is plenty of time to fine-tune the screen. Meanwhile, it can still be used in certain specialized applications.

The screen is so easy to assemble, said Thomas, that he that is working with a Boston area science teacher to produce a version cheap enough, safe enough and simple enough for middle and high school students to build in chemistry class.

Apparently, MIT isn't the only institution working on these reflective screens. Microsoft, Sun Chemical Corp., the University of Cincinnati and Cornell University are all actively researching the reflective screen research units. Each group is pursuing these screens for a variety of different purposes. Electronic ink applications, pressure sensors and advertising billboards are only a few of the potential applications.

"The tune-ability of these systems is fantastic," said Stephen Foulger, a professor at Clemson University also working on reflective screens. "There is a huge span of colors and applications."

I have included two videos that show the cuttlefish's amazing ability to change colour. There is nothing wrong with your speakers. The first video is silent.

Food and Other Products Recall

May 18---Edaleen Dairy recalls Tin Roof Sundae/Chocolate Peanut Butter Nut ICE CREAMS
May 18---Troy Food Company recalls PISTACHIOS w/Chile
May 18---Pat's Pantry recalls Ponsonby Steak PIES---New Zealand
May 18---Clarion recalls Personal Navigation DEVICES---Japan
May 18---Supersharaizudo recalls Roubaix Pro Frameset BICYCLE FRAMES---Japan
May 18---Kmart recalls Children's Zip JACKET'S---New Zealand

Stay safe, friends!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Food and Other Products Recall

May 16---L&M Companies/Wal-Mart recall Whole CANTALOUPES
May 16---Los Corrales recalls Dried CHORIZO Products
May 16---Meatworld Fishworld recalls Sliced PASTRAMI---Australia
May 16---Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corporation recalls Low-Priced RICE WINES---Thailand
May 16---Rocky Mountain Grain Products recalls "More Than a Square Meal" BARS w/Raisins---Canada
May 16---Fromagerie Couland recalls Couland CHEESE---Canada
May 16---Canon recalls EOS-1Ds Mark III CAMERAS---U.S./Puerto Rico
May 16---Heartland recalls 2010 Eagle Ridge Fifth Wheel TRAILERS
May 16---Norcold recalls 1200LR/1200LRIM COOLING UNITS
May 16---Airstream recalls Several 2002-2009 TRAVEL TRAILERS
May 16---GM recalls 2009 Spark VEHICLES---China
May 16---Respironics recalls SmartMonitor2 Infant Apnea MONITORS

Stay safe, friends!

The Sliding House

dRMM Architecture has been an innovator in home design for many years; but, possibly their most ambitious and an eco-interesting design so far is the Sliding Home featured in the above video.

dRMM Architecture based in London, England built the home to fit the English countryside. You might be tricked into thinking that you are looking at a typical European barn-style home with a 45 degree pitch to the roof. However, if you watch it for a day, you will notice that it changes form and shape to match the season, weather or time of day.

The Sliding House transforms between a glass and a solid exterior. The glass exterior houses the actual living space while the solid exterior pulls over the glass exterior much like a letter slides into an envelope.

The result is a home that can take full advantage of the sunlight and its warmth; show off a starry night to its best advantage; or close itself off, allowing maximum protection from the elements.

The solid exterior moves by a track system with wheels and four tiny electric motors connected to standard 12-volt car batteries. The entire transformation (open to closed) takes about 6 minutes.

dRMM Architecture is also the brains behind the Glide House and the Accordion House.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Protection For The Maleo Bird

Life's a beach ... the chicken-sized maleo now lives exclusively on Sulawesi island. Photograph: Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society/AP

Inroads are being made into the conservation of some of the lesser-known endangered species on this planet.

One of these lesser-known endangered species is the Maleo bird shown in the picture above. The amazing Maleo is able to fly immediately after hatching from eggs buried beneath the tropical sand. The chicks struggle to the sand’s surface and can fly with no encouragement or training from the parents.

Maleos are chicken-sized birds that have a prominent black helmut-like forehead: reminiscent of the dinosaurs, I feel. In the wild, this species numbers somewhere 5,000 – 10,000; but, can only be found on Sulawesi Island in Indonesia. They rely on sun-baked sand or volcanically-heated soil to incubate their eggs.

The US-based Wildlife Conservation Society said it has teamed up with a local environmental group to purchase and protect a 14-hectare (36-acre) stretch of beach in northern Sulawesi that contains about 40 nests. The groups paid $12,500 for the beach-front property on Sulawesi, one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands.

"The protected area is already helping raise awareness about this bird," said John Tasirin, WCS programme coordinator on the island. He added that one of the greatest threats to the Maleos’ survival is none other than mankind. The natives often harvest the eggs shortly after being laid and use them as an important source of protein for both themselves and their families.

The Maleo lays a gigantic egg for its size and the chicks emerge able to defend and/or fend for themselves the moment their beaks break the surface of the sand. This again is reminiscent of the dinosaur to me.

"The population of maleos are decreasing quite steadily," Martin Fowlie of the UK-based BirdLife International said of their new white-sand beach. "So any protection is going to be a good thing."

The following video is not of a Maleo bird; but, of a mutant budgie that was born in New Zealand. You have to see this guy. So without further ado, here's Whipper, the mutant budgie.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What Can You Do With An Abandoned Railroad Line?

You see them everywhere. Lengthy tracks of overgrown weeds, debris, broken railroad ties, shifting track beds. In this era of "reduce, reuse, recycle" you would think something could be done with these miles of abandoned railroad line.

Detroit, Michigan has the answer.

A Detroit railroad line that has been abandoned since the 1980s has now been turned into a 1.2 mile biking and walking path named the Dequindre Cut.

Detroit officials state this only the beginning and that many other abandoned lines will receive similar treatment. Officials state: "The Dequindre Cut is the latest in a growing network of greenways -- nonmotorized community links -- that eventually could encompass 100 miles of such trails throughout Detroit."

Photos: Heartland Research.

This photo was taken during construction before the landscapers filled in the greenery. They kept some of the best graffiti, and to make the Cut safer, it has security cameras and boxes. Kudos, Detroit. Now keep going.

This a video of someone riding the Cut on opening day May 14, 2009. The video shows the amazing transformation from abandoned, dangerous eyesore to thing of beauty.

Food and Other Products Recall

May 15---Wayne Provision Co. issues allergy alert on Frozen Pork BREAKFAST SAUSAGES
May 15---Amigo's Mexican Food issues allergy alert on PORK TAMALES Wrapped in Corn Husk
May 15---Parmalat Canada issues allergy alert on Sensational SOY BEVERAGES---Canada
May 15---AG Barr recalls Simply Fruity/Simply Aqua WATER DRINKS---U.K.
May 15---Home Ideas recalls Animated Ocean LAMPS---Canada
May 15---Kobian recalls XtatiK AC ADAPTERS---Canada
May 15---Wonplug recalls International Travel ADAPTORS---U.K.
May 15---Biaoda recalls Animal Shaped TOYS w/Sweets---Cyprus
May 15---Jumbo recalls Children's Brown TROUSER'S---Greece
May 15---V & D recalls Frendz Baby's SLEEPING BAGS---Netherlands
May 15---Free & Easy recalls Toy Jewellery DECORATION SETS---Netherlands
May 15---S.C. Johnson recalls Duck Fresh Gel TOILET DISCS---Italy
May 15---Burton recalls Perfumed TALCUM POWDERS---Italy
May 15---Magie di Fata recalls Ladie's SHOES---Italy
May 15---Universal Travel ADAPTORS recalled---Malta
May 15---Amelia recalls Chocolate Fragranced SOAP SETS---Malta
May 15---Euroriding recalls Horse-rider's Protective WAISTCOATS---France
May 15---Soltera recalls Wooden/Felt DECKCHAIRS---France
May 15---Nature et Découvertes recalls Red WARMING PILLOWS---France
May 15---Bahaus recalls CH-2000C (Turbo) Voltotherm Heizkonvektor---Denmark
May 15---Active Travel recalls All-in-One Travel ADAPTORS---Denmark
May 15---Elworks recalls Travel Universal ADAPTORS---Denmark
May 15---Racing recalls Type R SAFETY VESTS---Lithuania
May 15---Fox Baby recalls Children's Grey TOP---Bulgaria
May 15---Red Metallic Children's WHEELBARROWS recalled---Finland
May 15---New Fashion recalls Red Plastic EARRINGS---Finland
May 15---Elaine recalls Toy DOLLS---Finland
May 15---Accessories recalls Green Linen SCARVES---Finland
May 15---DSH Single recalls Ionic Marcel HAIR IRONS---Poland
May 15---Toys recalls Ean Toy MOBILE PHONES---Poland
May 15---Toys recalls PUSH CHAIRS for Dolls---Poland
May 15---Baby Phone recalls Cartoon Dog Toy MOBILE PHONES---Poland
May 15---Sweet Pony recalls Set of Soft TOY PONIES---Poland
May 15---Orbit recalls Teo Slice Electric TOASTERS---Spain
May 15---Vivanco recalls Cord EXTENSION SETS---Spain
May 15---Disney recalls Several Cartoon Character SOFT TOYS---Spain
May 15---1 to 3/Latinas by Tooc/Golden Mouse/Sprandl/Kaxilu/Bubble Bobble/Lola Rico recall FOOTWEAR---Spain
May 15---Childproof Electrical Socket PROTECTORS recalled---Germany
May 15---Superior recalls Blue 2 Slice TOASTERS---Germany
May 15---Nissan/Dongfeng Motor recall 2004-2009 Teana VEHICLES---China
May 15---Health Canada recalls Rofact (Rifampin) CAPSULES---Canada

Stay safe, friends!

A Black Market For Bees?

Image credit: Chelsea Bay Wills.

The Black Market is driven by a simple principle – supply and demand. As soon as something becomes hard to get, someone will come up with a “steal to order” scheme.

Such has happened in the UK. We are all aware that bees and their keepers have fallen on hard times with disease, climate change and colony collapse disorder taking its toll on bees worldwide.

Britain’s honeybee keepers are being warned to protect their hives from bee rustlers as thefts of hives have risen to unprecedented levels. In the latest incident, more than a million bees were taken from a strawberry farm near Telford, Shropshire.

David Sutton, the National Bee Unit inspector for western England, said: "You used to get the odd one or two, but not like this. People are realising the value of bees now because they are very scarce."

Second-hand hives that used to sell for £30 ($45) can now fetch more than £200 ($305). With each hive capable of producing around 50 lb of honey a year, victims stand to lose thousands of pounds.

To make matters worse, it would appear that the culprits are in the beekeeping community also. Tim Lovett, president of the British Beekeepers Association, said: "To steal bees, you have to know what you are doing. Beekeepers are now on the lookout. It's a vicious circle. You lose more bees, the price of bees goes up and the risk of them being stolen goes up."

So it would seem that you never really know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Food and Other Products Recall

May 14---Sunrise Commodities recalls Nature's Original Cranberry/Oriental/Spicy/Trail MIXES
May 14--- Vitamin Shoppe Ind. recalls Naturals Bayou/ Trail MIXES
May 14---Babco Foods recall Several Anand PRODUCTS
May 14---Safie Specialty Foods recalls Old Fashioned Padre Pio’s Mild PEPPERONCINI
May 14---HP recalls Hewlett-Packard /Compaq Notebook Computer Lithium-Ion BATTERIES
May 14---Build-A-Bear Workshop recalls Folding Toy BEACH CHAIRS---International
May 14---Winners Merchants recalls Asquith & Somerset Coconut Cream BODY MOISTURIZER---Canada
May 14---Life Root Healing recalls Restore and Rejuvenate EYE CREAM---Canada
May 14---HC endorsed important safety information on BHM/Medi-Man Combi SLING---Canada
May 14---The Foir'Fouille recalls Vibrating PLATFORMS---France
May 14---Medtronic Spine recalls KyphX Xpander Inflatable BONE TAMPS
May 14---Siemens Medical recalls Mammomat Novation MAMMOGRAPHY SYSTEMS
May 14---Siemens Medical recalls Axiom Sireskop IMAGING DEVICES
May 14---Zimmer recalls Nexgen Complete Knee Solution Fluted Stemmed Tibial BROACH---Int.
May 14---GE Healthcare recalls CIC Pro SOFTWARE---Int.
May 14---Nova Biomedical Corp. recalls CCX Creatinine Membrane KITS---Int.
May 14---Ethicon Inc. updates ongoing SUTURE recall---Int.
May 14---Tollot/Aaxis Pacific recall Healband Fabric STRIPS---Australia

Stay safe, friends!

The LifeStraw

Image courtesy Treehugger

The results of the fifth Saatchi & Saatchi Award for World Changing Ideas has proclaimed a winner. (drum roll, please!) The winner is a small tube worn around the neck and used like a regular straw. What is so special about this straw, aptly named LifeStraw, is that it filters 99.9999% of bacteria and 98.7% of viruses from unclean water using a halogen-based resin as a filter.

The inventor of LifeStraw, Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, received the award directly from Her Royal Highness Princess Badiya of Jordan. Along with this prestigious honor comes a $50,000 cash prize plus and equal sum in consultancy work. When being handed his award, Frandsen urged the audience to make the sub-Saharan clean-water crisis as prominent as AIDS relief or global warming.

Saatchi's worldwide creative director Bob Isherwood praised the company for its innovative thinking. "I think it's an amazing idea, a world-changing idea," he said. "You have such a huge proportion of the world's population that can't drink safe water; 6,000 children a day dying from polluted water. To have a straw that you wear around your neck that you can put in contaminated water and turn it immediately into totally safe water is incredible; it is world-changing."

The LifeStraw being demonstrated in the above picture is a prototype. The LifeStraw that won the award is approximately the same size and shape as a toilet roll centre – just a little longer. Inside the tube, a series of mechanical screens, carbon particles, and resin beads filter and kill most pathogenic bacteria and microorganisms common in water systems throughout the world.

PuroTech Disinfecting Resin, a patented resin, the filters are rated for 700 liters of water. This is approximately the water consumption for one person for a one-year period. All that is required to use them is the ability to use a straw. Positive test results have been achieved on tap, turbid and saline water against common waterborne bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella, Enterococcus, Diphtheria, Cholera, Diarrhoea and Staphylococcu.

Safe water interventions have vast potential to transform the lives of millions; especially, in crucial areas such as poverty eradication, environmental upgradation, quality of life, child development and gender equality. LifeStraw was developed as a practical response to the billions of people who are still without access to these basic human rights.

A brief technical rundown of the straw is available at MedGadget, the internet journal of emerging medical technologies.

Image via AquaSafeStraw

The above diagram shows the inside of the AquaSafe Straw. The AquaSafe is basically a reworked LifeStraw. Its filtration capacity is slightly less at 132 gallons of water per straw.

This straw is being marketed for affluent travelers, backpackers, and others who may find themselves in a place without safe drinking water. The AquaStraw sells for approximately $35.00.

The LifeStraw was originally going to sell for approximately $2.00 per straw (very affordable); but, the price is being looked at again. It appears that the LifeStraw is available to third-world countries by donation; but, is not available to the public for individual purchase. Hopefully, that will change. I know two little girls - one in Bolivia and one in South Africa - that could use a LifeStraw tucked into their yearly packages.

Are You Having Trouble Viewing Videos on This Blog?


Several of you have mentioned not being able to view the videos that I have embedded in this blog. I may have the solution.

I tried watching some videos from several sites that I was viewing just yesterday. The videos streamed beautifully and I watched quite a few of them. Today, I was unable to stream one video, I just kept getting error messages saying that either I had disabled my JavaScript or I didn't have the latest Flash Player. One of these sites is, the site I usually use for embedded videos.

Overnight, my flash player had become obsolete as these sites had done some upgrading and I needed to update my flash player. This turned out to be more difficult than expected.

The site to visit for a free flash player download (and solutions if it doesn't work the first time):

It didn't work the first time for me and I had to change some computer settings to allow the download. Fortunately, this site also has the solutions.

May your download go better than mine!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Good Connection - Gem #3 (final)

Again from Will Braun, editor of Geez Magazine.

Though the truth can be difficult, it has the power to set us free. Wrapping our heads around economic connections in our global village is complicated and hard on the conscience. We all fall short. This grace, for me, is the gentle path forward. It is what inspires me to try to be a caring member of the global village.

Food and Other Products Recall

May 13---Tofutti Brands recalls Vanilla Cuties FROZEN DESSERTS
May 13---Marks & Spencer issues allergy alert on Chicken Forestier PATE---U.K.
May 13---Haigh's Manufacturing recalls Chocolate/Almond COOKIES---Australia
May 13---Fushin USA recalls Youth Model ATV's
May 13---Louisiana-Pacific recalls Composite DECKING
May 13---Browning/Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recall Skinner Knife SHEATHS
May 13---Polaris recalls 2009 Widetrak SNOWMOBILES
May 13---Dorel/ Eddie Bauer recall Soothe & Sway PLAY YARDS---U.S./Canada
May 13---Houston Tech/JR Home Products recall Portable Free Standing Infrared Electric HEATERS---Canada
May 13---Beauté Cosmétique recalls Magno Spray-on DEODORANT---Canada
May 13---Mothercare recalls Activity Rattle Garden Highchair TOYS---U.K.
May 13---Horizon Hobby recalls Spektrum DX6i TRANSMITTERS---U.K.
May 13---Bunnings Warehouse Stores recalls Talon LAWNMOWERS---New Zealand
May 13---Prodoc Limited recalls 150/300mg Clindamycine CAPSULES---Canada
May 13---Dominion Pharmacal/Pharmascience/Pro Doc recall pms-Gabapentin CAPSULES---Canada
May 13---Ferring Inc. recalls Duratocin IV INJECTION---Canada
May 13---Mission Falls recalls Premium Ionic SOLUTION---Canada
May 13---Novopharm recalls Irinotecan INJECTION---Canada
May 13---PendoPharm/Pharmascience recall Rhinaris Sinomarin NASAL WASH---Canada
May 13---Vita Health Products recalls Several SENNA LAXATIVE Tablets---Canada
May 13---Erfa Canada recalls 75mg Sinequan CAPSULES---Canada
May 13---Cardiac Pacemakers Inc. recalls Cognis/ Teligen Ventricular LEADS---Canada
May 13---BHM Medical Inc. recalls Several COMBI SLINGS---Canada
May 13---Alcon Grieshabe recalls Vertical/MPC MICROSCISSORS---Canada
May 13---B. Braun Medical recalls 2 IV SETS---Canada
May 13---Wallac recalls Delfia Xpress PAPP-A BOTTLES---Canada
May 13---Roche Molecular Systems recalls Factor II (Prothrombin) G20210A KITS---Canada
May 13---Philips Medical Systems recalls Holter SOFTWARE---Canada
May 13---Haemonetics Corp. recalls No. 620 PCS2 Harness SETS---Canada
May 13---Wallac recalls Neogram Amino Acids Mass SPEC KITS---Canada
May 13---Coloplast recalls Philips BOUGIES---Canada
May 13---Bard Access Systems recalls Wizard Replacement Gastrostomy DEVICES---Canada
May 13---Stryker Medical recalls 1550 Electric STRETCHERS---Canada
May 13---Ace Surgical Supply recalls Polyglycolic Acid Absorbable SUTURES---Canada
May 13---Uniprix Inc. recalls Option+ Sterile PADS---Canada
May 13---Arrow International recalls Several Medical PRODUCTS---Canada
May 13---Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics recalls Several Vitros Chemistry SLIDES---Canada
May 13---Bard Peripheral Vascular recalls Max-Core Disposable Biopsy INSTRUMENTS---Canada
May 13---Walter Lorenz Surgical recalls Byrd Self Drilling SCREWS---Canada
May 13---Biomet Orthopedics recalls C2A Ringloc Acetabular SYSTEMS---Canada
May 13---Teleflex Medical recalls 7" Coronary SCISSORS---Canada
May 13---Beckman Coulter recalls Flow-Set FLUOROSPHERES---Canada
May 13---Dentsply Tulsa Dental recalls GT Series X FILES---Canada
May 13---Spacelabs Medical recalls Medical Flat Panel POWER SUPPLY---Canada
May 13---Howmedica Osteonics recalls Restoration Modular CONE BODIES---Canada
May 13---Critical Care recalls Servo 300 CIRCUIT BOARDS---Canada
May 13---Bard Peripheral Vascular recalls Truguide Coaxial Biopsy NEEDLES---Canada
May 13---Apotex Inc. recalls Apo-Clindamycin 300/150 mg CAPSULES---Int.

Stay safe, friends!