Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Thursday, December 26, 2002day link 

 Himalaya eco-village
picture Bawani, a small village in the Himalayas got transformed into an eco-village through better watershed management, by seeding different kinds of grass, and by learning to do things in different ways. Read the story. Everybody chipped in and worked as a collective to help make it happen, with some outside guidance. Now they no longer have to walk many miles for fodder for animals or wood for fuel, and they can grow fruit and vegetables next to their homes.
[ | 2002-12-26 04:55 | 0 comments | PermaLink ]

 U.S. greenhouse gas emissions drop
ENN/Reuters: "U.S. greenhouse gas emissions linked to global warming fell by 1.2 percent last year, the largest decrease in a decade, due in part to slow economic growth and a milder winter, the government said recently. Last year's decline was in sharp contrast to the average 1.3 percent annual growth rate in U.S. emissions from 1990 to 2000 and was twice the level of the only other drop since 1990 — a 0.6 percent decline in 1991 — according to a report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA)..."
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 Boston Harbor is cleaning itself
APP/ENN: "Microbes in the water may have a greater capacity to devour fuel waste than originally thought, a new study found, suggesting the harbor could cleanse itself within 20 years, barring any major fuel leaks, according to Derek Lovley, a microbiologist at the University of Massachusetts. [...] The key appears to be the presence of sulfate, a salt of sulfuric acid which is abundant in seawater, Lovley said. The microbes appear to use it as a substitute for oxygen, breaking down the waste in the same way humans use oxygen to break down their food."
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 Nestle sues famined Ethiopia
According to The Guardian, the multi-national coffee and chocolate corporation Nestle is demanding a payment of $6m from the government of the world's poorest country, Ethiopia, which is in the middle of the worst famine in nearly 20 years. The money would be compensation for an Ethiopian business which was nationalized in 1975 by a previous military government. To put it in context, $6m could feed 1 million Ethiopians for a month. Nestle didn't even own that company, but years later they bought a German company, which used to have majority shares in it.
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 EU Expansion
picture Entry talks were recently completed in Copenhagen with 10 mostly ex-communist countries that soon will be joining the European Union. The countries are Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Cyprus. I've never been sure whether the EU is a good or a bad thing - whether it removes unnecessary bureaucratic divisions and increases cooperation, or whether it becomes a bureaucratic big-corporation-lobbied central government. Junius has some interesting thoughts on how the new countries change the equation:
"My take on this, for what it's worth, is that it gives the UK everything that lukewarm Europhiles/moderate Eurosceptics have always wanted. EU will now be so large and will vary so much in cultural and economic conditions that a thoroughgoing federalist project is dead in the water. The centre - Brussels and Strasbourg - will be fatally weakened vis-à-vis the component parts of the union because twenty-five (or more) states will find it almost impossible to reach agreement on anything but the most anodyne proposals. Moreover, the disparities in wealth within the zone mean that it will be much harder to impose anything like common standards in matters like employment and social security for the EU as a whole. Think about it: a common minimum wage for Germany, France and the UK might be a crazy proposal, but it isn't quite so crazy that there isn't someone who might suggest it. A common minimum wage for Latvia and the Netherlands: the most starry-eyed Euroenthusiast, even fortified by several glasses of champagne, isn't going to entertain the notion!"

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