November 27, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 8:58 PM


Obama quietly signs bill shielding airlines from carbon fees in Europe (Keith Laing, 11/27/12, The Hill)
President Obama has signed into law a bill that requires U.S. airlines be excluded from European carbon emissions fees. 

Environmentalists had framed the bill as the first test of the president's commitment to fighting climate change in his second term and urged him to veto it. Obama quietly signed it Tuesday over their objections.

Posted by orrinj at 5:34 AM


U.N. chief says crises show need for interfaith amity (Tom Heneghan, Nov 26, 2012, Reuters)

Spurred into action by the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States - in which most of the militants involved were Saudi nationals - and radical Islamist bombings in Saudi Arabia two years later, the king has brought together Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims in Mecca to discuss how to counter extremism in Islam.

He hosted an interfaith conference in 2008 but had to hold it in Madrid because the kingdom is so conservative. However, Saudi officials at the Vienna conference stressed the dialogue message was being spread back home as well.

"The aim is to promote acceptance of other cultures, moderation and tolerance," said Fahad Sultan AlSultan, deputy head of a Saudi national dialogue effort launched in 2003. "There are problems but we have achieved some success."

KAICIID is managed by a board with three Muslims, three Christians, a Jew, a Buddhist and a Hindu. It aims to help religions contribute to solving problems such as conflicts, prejudice and health crises rather than be misused to worsen them.

"The prime purpose is to empower the active work of those in the field, whether in the field of dialogue, of social activism or of conflict resolution," said Jerusalem-based Rabbi David Rosen, representing Judaism on the nine-seat board of directors.

Unlike other interfaith projects run by churches or non-governmental organizations, KAICIID is an international body sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain, with strong backing from the Vatican as a "founding observer".

Posted by orrinj at 5:30 AM


Nanoparticles Make Steam without Bringing Water to a Boil : A new trick could reduce the energy needed for many industrial processes and make solar thermal energy much cheaper. (Phil Muncaster on November 27, 2012, Technology Review)

Steam is a key ingredient in a wide range of industrial and commercial processes--including electricity generation, water purification, alcohol distillation, and medical equipment sterilization.

Generating that steam, however, typically requires vast amounts of energy to heat and eventually boil water or another fluid. Now researchers at Rice University have found a shortcut. Using light-absorbing nanoparticles suspended in water, the group was able to turn the water molecules surrounding the nanoparticles into steam while scarcely raising the temperature of the remaining water. The trick could dramatically reduce the cost of many steam-reliant processes.