2013 AIM winners for rebuilding April ‘13 quake site in China

Architects In Mission (AIM) recently revealed the winners of their 2013 “Post Earthquake Reconstruction” competition to rebuild Lushan County in Ya’an, Sichuan province, China, which was the epicenter of the deadly 6.6-magnitude earthquake on April 20, 2013. The province was also devastated by the major Sichuan earthquake in 2008.

With Snow Mountain village serving as this year’s competition base model, AIM had entrants develop the village’s master planning and new business models to stimulate local economic growth.

The following four teams were awarded as such:

  • Architecture Renovation Award: Tianxiang Zhang/ Hai Xie/ Xiaoxu Yan/ Lin Yang (Tianjin University)
  • Innovative Production Award: Pengwei Xing/ Wei Liu/Junhao Huang/ Yulong Li/ Puzhao Qiu/ Xiaotian Luo/ Chang Liu/ Wanyu Wu/ Jinhai Wu (South China University of Technology)
  • Scenic Village Planning Award: Zhe Peng/ Zhenru Zhou/ Zhang Qu (Tsinghua University)
  • Sustainable Development Award:  Xiaoxiao Dong (Tsinghua University) /Yu Jing (Huazhong University of Science and Technology)

Architecture Renovation Award: Tianxiang Zhang/ Hai Xie/ Xiaoxu Yan/ Lin Yang (Tianjin University)

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Japan Approves A $182 Billion Stimulus Package

shinzo abe japan

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved a $182 billion economic package on Thursday to pull the economy out of deflation, but doubts remain about the economic impact.

The package has a headline value of 18.6 trillion yen ($182 billion), which is an exaggerated figure as the bulk of the package includes loans from government-backed lenders and spending by local governments that was already scheduled.

The core of the package is 5.5 trillion yen in spending measures Abe ordered in October to bolster the economy ahead of a national sales-tax hike in April, and the government does not have to sell new debt to fund this spending.

The package has raised concerns that Japan’s government has not broken away from the stop-gap measures and piecemeal policymaking that some say has hampered long-term growth.

“Market participants want the government to focus even more energy on economic policy,” said Hiroshi Miyazaki, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

“Some of these items, like reconstruction from the earthquake, were already scheduled and don’t really constitute an economic strategy.”

The measures approved on Thursday will add 1 percentage point to gross domestic product and create around 250,000 jobs, according to the Cabinet Office.

Miyazaki was less optimistic, saying the measures may only contribute around 0.4 percentage point as a lot of the direct government payouts to the elderly and families will go straight to savings.

The steps approved on Thursday include measures to boost competitiveness; assist women, youth and the elderly; accelerate reconstruction from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami; and build infrastructure for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The overall size of the package is on a par with Abe’s 20 trillion yen burst of spending early this year as part of his campaign to end 15 years of falling prices and tepid growth.

The headline figure usually announced by the Japanese government on economic measures often includes spending that has already been committed, and tends to far exceed the amount of actual new government spending.

New debt issuance is not required as new spending will be covered by tax revenues that have exceeded initial budget projections due to the economic recovery, as well as using unspent funds from other accounts. ($1 = 102.6550 Japanese yen)

Harvard Research Finds Link Between Fluoridated Water, ADHD & Mental Disorders

Fluoride_ADHD_Harvard

New research published in The Lancet by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) found that various chemicals that many children are exposed to are having a direct effect on the creation of disorders labelled under the name ADHD as well as other mental disorders. One of the chemicals said to be having an effect is fluoride, or variations of fluoride. Governments have been performing artificial fluoridation for a number of years regardless of the lack of effectiveness it has in preventing tooth decay.

The research began in a study published in 2006 which initially looked at the effects of various industrial chemicals on neuro-development.[1] The research continued with an analysis of more industrial chemicals including fluoride. 27 additional studies, including one that linked fluoride to the lowering of IQ in children, clearly illustrated the fact that fluoride is detrimental to brain development and can lead to autism spectrum disorders and other mental issues. The issue is being coined “a silent epidemic” and most health authorities continue to turn a blind eye to the issue.

The two main researchers involved in the study, Philippe Grandjean from HSPH and Philip Landrigan, both agree that the reason for the increase in incidences of chemical-related neuro-developmental disorders is due to the increasing number of untested chemicals that are being approved without proper testing. The public is also not fully being told of the dangers which is causing many to perform independent research to find out the true effects. The issue is not just in water fluoridation, but also in the vaccination of our children.

“Since 2006, the number of chemicals known to damage the human brain more generally, but that are not regulated to protect children’s health, had increased from 202 to 214,” writes Julia Medew for The Sydney Morning Herald. “The pair said this could be the tip of the iceberg because the vast majority of the more than 80,000 industrial chemicals widely used in the United States have never been tested for their toxic effects on the developing fetus or child.”

The fact is, fluoride is a known developmental neurotoxin and practices of water fluoridation have long been proven to be ineffective. If individuals choose to use fluoridated tooth paste or choose fluoride treatments at their dental office, that is acceptable but two things should happen:

  1. People should be taught about the harmful effects of fluoride and the damage it can cause to your teeth and your body.

  2. Water fluoridation should be stopped everywhere immediately as it is nothing more than a legal way for chemical companies to get rid of toxic waste while profiting.

Fluoride accumulates in the body over time, so even though the amounts being ingested might be small each time, it builds up over years and can cause serious health issues. Research has found that fluoride affects normal endocrine function, causes kidney disease, bone weakness, dental fluorosis, cancer, lowering of IQ, calcification of the pineal gland, arthritis, immune deficiencies, skeletal fluorosis and much more.

“The problem is international in scope, and the solution must therefore also be international,” stated Grandjean in a press release, calling for improved regulatory standards for common chemicals. “We have the methods in place to test industrial chemicals for harmful effects on children’s brain development — now is the time to make that testing mandatory.”

Sources:

1. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(13)70278-3/abstract

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/study-finds-toxic-chemicals-linked-to-autism-adhd-20140215-32snz.html

http://fluoridealert.org/

‘Xaver’ flies to Hamburg Braces for Storm Tides

Cranes Stand at the Port of Hamburg

A low pressure system dubbed Xaver may reach hurricane force with wind speeds of more than 140 kilometers (87 miles) an hour as it traverses southern parts of the North Sea before reaching landfall on the northern German and Danish coast around noon today, according to the German Weather Service. Xaver may trigger as many as four storm tides in coastal areas and in Hamburg, according to the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency BSH.

Oil-Rig Evacuations

BP Plc, ConocoPhilips and Talisman Sinopec Energy UK Ltd. evacuated more than 350 workers from North Sea oil platforms earlier in the week as a precautionary measure. As Hamburg prepared to close some of its flood gates ahead of the storm, fire services said they expect the area around the fish market, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors every week, to succumb to flooding.

City officials closed Hamburg’s biggest fun fair, Dom, which in its first week in November attracted 1.5 million people.

Danish National rail operator DSB said it’s canceling some train services to pre-empt damage and make post-storm repairs easier.

The heavy winds are boosting power generation, with wind output in the U.K. forecast to peak at a record 6,065 megawatts at 3 p.m. London time today, according to Bloomberg’s wind model. Current output is 2,693 megawatts or 6.1 percent of total supply, according to National Grid data.

Wind power in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, is set to reach a record 31,195 megawatts at 6 p.m. Berlin time, according to the Bloomberg model. The price of power for today fell 28 percent to 34.32 euros a megawatt-hour in an Epex Spot auction yesterday. Wind output is forecast to remain high with a peak of 30,024 megawatts at 6 a.m. tomorrow. Power for tomorrow is trading at 25 euros, the lowest since Nov. 8, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg.

The last time northern Germany was hit by storm tides on a similar scale to the levels expected this week was in November 2007, when water levels rose 3.5 meters above the medium-high tide level in Hamburg, BSH’s Mueller-Navarra said.

Flood Memories

Kyrill, which battered countries including the U.K., the Netherlands and Germany six years ago, didn’t cause major flooding as the heaviest winds struck the German coast three hours before high tide, he said.

World-renowned neurosurgeon describes brain injuries racing legend may have suffered

Schumacher is fighting for his life in intensive care after falling and hitting his head on a rock in the French Alpine resort of Meribel

World-renowned neurosurgeon Munchi Choksey has described the brain injuries racing legend Michael Schumacher could have suffered during his skiing accident.

The Formula I motor racing legend is fighting for his life in intensive care  following the incident in the French Alpine resort of Meribel yesterday morning.

The 44-year-old’s head hit a rock following an off-piste fall.

Following Schumacher’s accident, an emergency evacuation airlifted him off the slopes by helicopter while still conscious.

The hospital he was taken to confirmed he is in a coma and is rated as being in a critical condition.

Choksey, who practices at University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire, told The Mirror that controlling any bleeding in or around the brain was vital following major head injuries.

“The treatment depends very much on the nature of the bleeding and the particular compartment it has occurred in,” he said.

“You can have bleeding inside the brain itself, which tends to be present from the time of the injury. Usually the patient is unlikely to be conscious.

“That’s called a primary brain injury. Then there’s bleeding in the membranes that surround the brain and the patient is not likely to be conscious.

“Then you have bleeding in the subdural space immediately outside the brain but inside a very tough membrane. That is associated with a primary brain injury, so again not usually associated with consciousness.

“Finally you can get the dreaded extradural haemorrhage, which tragically killed the actress Natasha Richardson on the ski slope.

“The blood accumulates between the membrane that surrounds the brain and the skull.”

Choksey said the “haematoma expands so the pressure builds up inside the head, the brain loses blood supply and death can be quite rapid.

“That’s the classic lucid interval – where the patient has the injury, might be knocked out briefly, wakes up talks and then dies if they are not treated properly.

“It’s also possible Schumacher could have secondary brain swelling, which can be compatible with somebody talking afterwards,” he said.

This Wi-Fi-enabled smart mailbox will only worsen your Amazon addiction

Mr-Postman-Smart-Mailbox-app-2

Mailboxes are in desperate need of a 21st-century update, and thanks to a recently-launched Kickstarter campaign, they might finally get one.

It’s no secret that ever since the advent of the Internet and email, traditional hand-written letters have disappeared almost entirely. This doesn’t, however, mean that physical mail is dying off. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. The rise of the Internet has also caused a widespread shift in the way we purchase goods, and today more and more people are ordering things online and having them shipped to their homes instead of traveling to brick-and-mortar retailers to purchase them.

These changes have led to a handful of different dilemmas. The first is that, because most of us do our billing/mailing via electronic means, many of us don’t think to check our physical mailboxes unless we know something is coming. Second, our current mailboxes – those rusty roadside vestiges of a dying era – are often too small for the things we commonly order online these days, so large packages are often left on our doorsteps, completely unsecured and unmonitored.

Meet Mr. Postman, a modern reimagining of the traditional mailbox that comes with a myriad of useful features. For starters, its bigger. Sporting a 9.8-inch girth, the enclosure is a full 3.5 inches wider than a standard box, which makes it better for packages.

Mr Postman screenshots

Second, it’s self-aware. Not self-aware in the sense that it’s sentient or conscious of its existence or anything – that’d be creepy. Instead, it’s outfitted with an array of different sensors that make it aware of its physical status. It’s got one that detects when the door is opened and closed, one that detects if the flag is up or down, and an interior scanner that can detect the presence of boxes and envelopes. And then there’s the Wi-Fi transceiver. Using this little radio, it can hook into your home wireless network and shoot you notifications whenever you’ve got new mail. In a lot of ways, this device makes snail mail function more like email.

As an added bonus, Mr. Postman is also more secure than a traditional mailbox. It’s equipped with an internal lock that you can control remotely via your smartphone, no matter where you are. Using the companion app, you can set your box to lock itself after an important package arrives, and even send virtual keys to housemates if you need someone to pick it up for you.

The project launched on Kickstarter earlier this month, and (assuming it reaches its $50,000 goal) expects to complete production and ship to backers in August of 2014. If you back it now, you can lock one down for a pledge of just $200 bucks. Find out more here.

Scientists discover a naturally occurring hormone that blocks marijuana buzz

via farm8.staticflickr.com
A group of scientists from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research may have discovered the buzzkill in hormone form. It’s called Pregnenolone, and a new study suggests it may be released as a natural response to counteract the mental effects of marijuana. Researchers discovered the effect by administering massive doses of marijuana to lab rats. Monitoring the rats’ brains, they discovered elevated quantities of Pregnenolone being metabolized in response to the marijuana, which in turn reduced many of the mental effects of the drug. The same effect was replicated in human cell lines, indicating the human brain might show the same response.

It’s not the first time researchers have isolated the intoxicating effects of marijuana orf ound ways to counteract them, but this study has drawn particular interest because of its mechanism. Unlike synthesized compounds, Pregnenolone occurs naturally in the body, which potentially means doctors could stimulate the body into producing more of it in response. According to the researchers, it could open the door to a new generation of addiction treatments or on-the-stop intoxication remedies. According to AFP, the group will begin human trials in a year and a half.

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