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Shumlin’s Surrender: Vermont Democrats Go South On Single Payer

Socialism OnLine! -

URL: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/19/vermont-democrats-go-south-on-single-payer/

Shumlin’s Surrender: Vermont Democrats Go South On Single Payer. "On Wednesday, December 17, the governor called a statehouse press conference to make a “major announcement.” That turned out to be good news for single payer foes locally and nationally—and bad news for campaigners to make “health care a human right.” Shumlin declared that “now is not the right time” to proceed with any fundamental overhaul of health care financing and delivery in Vermont..."

Topic(s): Geography:  Vote Up/Down

Penguin Lifelines

Raspberry Pi -

We quite frequently get asked about optimum operating temperatures for the Raspberry Pi – frequently enough that this was a very early addition to our FAQs page back in 2012:

The Raspberry Pi is built from commercial chips which are qualified to different temperature ranges; the LAN9512 is specified by the manufacturers being qualified from 0°C to 70°C, while the AP is qualified from -40°C to 85°C. You may well find that the board will work outside those temperatures, but we’re not qualifying the board itself to these extremes. And we left it at that. I hadn’t really thought much about extreme environments for a while – but then I bumped into our friend Jonathan Pallant, from Cambridge Consultants, a couple of weeks ago; and he started telling me about the progress of a project he’s been working on with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), which pushes the Raspberry Pi’s working temperature down further than any other we’ve seen. How? By the simple expedient of sticking them on poles in Antarctica for a year, in order to monitor penguins. That means the Pis have to work reliably at temperatures which can consistently be below -42°C  (-45ºF). And they’ve been coping with those temperatures just fine for a year now.

Image: Alasdair Davies, ZSL

The Penguins Lifeline project, headed up by Dr Tom Hart, is a multi-organisation enterprise. ZSL are working with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Oxford University, Oceanites, and Stony Brook University to monitor Adelie penguin populations throughout the year, and to find out how external events like weather and disease, and human influences like pollution and fisheries, affect them. The cameras have been in situ since January 2014 (so very nearly a year’s data has been collected and sent back to researchers by the very cold Raspberry Pis). It’s summer in Antarctica right now, but most places where these are installed will still be well below freezing.

Credit: Alasdair Davies, ZSL

The penguins trigger the cameras (there are two in each unit: a regular camera and one with no IR filter for taking pictures in the dark with an infra-red flash – sound familiar?) by moving near them; each unit is equipped with an motion detector. The pictures are then sent to the researchers by the Pi via the Iridium satellite network. Each setup is powered by external lead batteries, which are topped up (when the sun’s out) by solar panels.

Researchers count the penguins from the images, and are able to track when they arrive to breed, and monitor populations. In previous studies, a human would have to go out to the camera installation and pick up the data by hand: networking the cameras, using Raspberry Pis, means that this doesn’t need to happen any more.

There are a few ways in which you can help Penguins Lifeline. The researchers are crowdsourcing some of the work that needs doing in classifying images: the pictures the project is creating need sorting to establish how many adults, chicks and eggs are visible in each.

Orange circles identify adults, green circles chicks, and yellow circles eggs.

804,303 images have been classified so far, but there are plenty more to help sort.

You can also make a donation. Adopting a colony will help fund the placing of more Raspberry Pi cameras in remote regions to monitor penguin populations.

You can read much more about the project over at the Penguin Lifelines site. And because we think penguins are brilliant, here are a couple more pictures.

Setting up. Credit: Alasdair Davies, ZSL

Credit: Alasdair Davies, ZSL

Russia’s longest hydroelectric construction project completed

RT -

The Boguchany hydropower plant (HPP) will now be able to deliver 3,000 megawatts of cheap ‘green’ and reliable electricity to residential areas and industrial enterprises in the Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk regions.

Construction started in 1974, and the job is being finished by the children of those who started it.

The opening of Boguchany will be a lifetime event for the hundreds of builders who didn’t leave the place in the 90's even when construction was mothballed and they had no work.

There has been a race to finish the hydroelectric plant, as plans had to change from the original 1970s design after the tragic accident at Sayano-Shushenskaya.

READ MORE: Giant Russian hydroelectric plant relaunched at full capacity after 2009 catastrophe

More than half of the electricity generated by the plant is intended to be used at the nearby Boguchansky aluminum smelter which produces 600,000 tons per year.

The power station was built jointly by RusHydro and Rusal under the state program for the integrated development of the Lower Angara region. Commissioning of the first generators took place on October 15, 2012.

The project has been criticized by a number of organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace for the flooding caused by the dam.

Flying pigsh*t! Drone catches Smithfield pork farms spraying animal waste into air (VIDEO)

RT -

This environmental problem “has for some reason received very little attention in the American press,” says documentary filmmaker and activist Mark Devries, whose drone captured footage of cesspools at over 2,000 industrial pork factory farms in the US state.

“These pools are near people’s homes, people’s schools, people’s neighborhoods,” Devries said in an interview Monday to RT. “And in order to get rid of these giant open-air cesspools, the manure is actually sprayed into the air with giant spraying devices, which causes it to turn into a fine mist.”

Spread by the wind later on, the mist containing pig waste “has serious health impacts and also deeply affects people’s lives,” he said. There have been studies investigating respiratory diseases, such as childhood asthma, which is quite common in the area, along with blood pressure problems.

“You think it’s raining,” Elsie Herring, a woman who lives near a pig farm said in the video. “We don’t open the doors or the windows, but the odor still comes in. It takes your breath away.”

“I was shocked,” Devries commented in his video. “Pig manure is fairly similar to human waste, so it would be similar to having a pit of untreated human sewage the size of several football fields out in the open – and in many cases, right in the vicinity of people’s homes.”

Describing the situation with air pollution, the chemicals and the smell as “lax,” Devries said that North Carolina has a law that makes it more difficult for local residents to take the pig farms to court over the waste.

“The law is really acting on the side of these giant industrial pig farms, and the neighbors have very little – if any – reprieve,” he said. “I hope that with my investigation and with others there will be more public discussion and thus more pressure on these corporations to change and improve their practices.”

The drone video was released a few days ago, but there have already been some improvements, “both from environmental perspective and from an animal welfare perspective,” Devries said.

He told RT that in recent years experts have reported fewer major cesspool spills, leaking manure into the ground. The animals’ welfare also has improved, he said, with farms reportedly ending the practice of using so-called “gestation crates” for pregnant pigs, where they are kept in metal cages so small they can barely move for months.

The owner of the farms in Devries’ video, either directly or through contractors, is Smithfield Foods Corporation, the world’s largest pork producer.

“On our farms we strive to be good neighbors and respect the rights and property of those who live near our operations,” Kathleen Kirkham, a spokeswoman for Smithfield Foods, said in an emailed statement to the International Business Times. “We work closely with all of our farmers to meet strict environmental management policies that encourage continuous improvement and exceed most state and federal compliance standards.”

Environmentalists and animal rights groups have long criticized the meat processing giant, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had a special campaign to improve conditions and reduce water pollution from its North Carolina and Virginia factory farms. According to Rolling Stone magazine, the company was fined $12.6 million for 6,900 violations of the Clean Water Act in Virginia in 1997, in the third-largest civil penalty in the history of the EPA.

Major Security Vulnerabilities Uncovered At Frankfurt Airport

Slashdot -

jones_supa writes "According to a report published in this Sunday's edition of the mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper, investigators sent by the European Commission found it surprisingly easy to smuggle banned items past security at Frankfurt Airport. It said undercover investigators posing as passengers were able to smuggle weapons or other dangerous items through security every second time they tried to do so. One of the biggest problems was improperly trained staff, who were often not able to recognize dangerous items when viewing the screens they use to look at x-ray images of baggage. The staff is sourced via a privately owned service provider. Germany's Federal Police said they introduced new measures immediately after learning of the security deficits to ensure that passenger safety was guaranteed. Fraport AG, the company that operates the Germany's biggest airport, also took the findings seriously and begun an operation to retrain a total of 2,500 workers."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

\'Bitcoin Millionaire\' Charlie Shrem Sentenced To 2 Years In Prison

Bitcoin feeds -

Charlie Shrem, the Bitcoin entrepreneur accused of helping users of drug marketplace The Silk Road move money around the internet, has been sentenced to two years in prison, Engadget reports.

Shrem was the CEO of Bitcoin exchange BitInstant, which let people buy and sell the cryptocurrency online.

The entrepreneur used his business, BitInstant, to transfer money deposited in bank accounts by customers of The Silk Road, the notorious deep web drug marketplace which has been shut down twice by police.

Shrem was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York in January, accused of conspiring to sell over $1 million worth of bitcoin to Silk Road users, with the police accusing him of being aware that the currency would go on to be used to buy and sell illegal drugs.

In the months while he waited for his case to be dealt with by the courts, Shrem spent time shopping for Nazi paraphernalia and sitting around the house drinking and watching Netflix.

In court, Shrem argued that he was better off outside, helping educate people about Bitcoin:

I screwed up. The Bitcoin community, they\'re scared and there is no money laundering going on any more. They\'re terrified. Bitcoin is my baby, it\'s my whole world and my whole life, it\'s what I was put on this earth to do. I need to be out there. If your honor grants me that, I can be out there in the world, making sure that people don\'t do the same stupid things that I did.

But Judge Rakoff didn\'t buy that claim, instead telling Shrem he needed a "substantial prison sentence." Shrem was sentenced to two years in prison, and he is set to surrender to police in 90 days. In a tweet posted after the sentencing, Shrem seemed content with the ruling, remarking that "justice has been served."

SEE ALSO: Meet The \'Bitcoin Millionaire\' Arrested For Allegedly Helping Silk Road Launder $1 Million

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