Evidence of oceanic ‘green rust’ offers hope for the future

by Staff Writers
Newcastle UK (SPX) Jun 28, 2012

The high reactivity of green rust is the reason it could be so much help in cleaning up polluted sites. The rust reduces elements like chromium, uranium and selenium, significantly reducing their solubility and mobility in the environment, and in some cases absorbing them into the rust’s molecular structure.

A rare kind of mineral which scientists hope could be used to remove toxic metals and radioactive species from the environment played a similar, crucial role early in Earth’s history. Research carried out by an international team of leading biogeochemists suggests for the first time that ‘green rust’ was likely widespread in ancient oceans and may have played a vital role in the creation of our early atmosphere.

Led by Newcastle University, UK, the study shows that during the Precambrian period, green rust ‘scavenged’ heavy metals such as nickel out of the water. Nickel availability is linked to the production of methane by anaerobic organisms, which is a major sink for oxygen produced during photosynthesis, and thus green rust played a crucial role in the oxygenation of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Only discovered in the last decade, green rust is a highly reactive iron mineral which experts hope could be used to clean up metal pollution and even radioactive waste.

Newcastle University’s Professor Simon Poulton said this latest discovery – published this month in the academic journal Geology – proved the effectiveness of green rust as an environmental cleaner.

“Because it is so reactive, green rust has hardly ever been found before in nature and never in a water system like this,” explains Professor Poulton, who led the research team involving experts from the Universities of Newcastle, Nancy, Southern Denmark, Leeds, Brussels and Kansas, and the Canadian Light Source and Indonesian Institute of Sciences.

“The discovery of green rust in Lake Matano, Indonesia, where we carried out our experiments shows for the first time what a key role it played in our ancient oceans – scavenging dissolved nickel, a key micronutrient for methanogenesis.”

Dr Sean Crowe of the University of Southern Denmark explains: “We still know relatively little about green rust but our research shows that it is likely to be much more prevalent in the environment than has previously been recognised and the role it plays in cycling elements such as nickel and other metals is significant.

“Understanding the important role it played in our past and its effectiveness at removing metals from the environment will help us to understand how we might be able to use it to clean up polluted land and water in the future.”

The high reactivity of green rust is the reason it could be so much help in cleaning up polluted sites. The rust reduces elements like chromium, uranium and selenium, significantly reducing their solubility and mobility in the environment, and in some cases absorbing them into the rust’s molecular structure.

Professor Poulton adds: “Green rust has received a lot of attention recently due to its possible role as a pollutant mediator, but it is particularly exciting to think that this may have been a natural process throughout huge periods of ancient Earth history.”

Related Links
Newcastle University
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up


Offshore drilling ‘likely’ in Arctic, feds say

Oil exploration will probably begin in Alaskan waters this summer, according to a top U.S. official, with more lease sales likely in the next four years.

Beaufort Sea SHELL FREEZES OVER: Alaska’s Beaufort Sea, pictured above, is one of the areas where Royal Dutch Shell is expected to begin drilling for oil this year. (Photo: Mark Patsavas/National Ocean Service)
Royal Dutch Shell will win federal permits to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean this summer, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar predicted Tuesday, foreshadowing what could become a watershed event for the remote, oil-rich region.
Addressing reporters via conference call from Norway, where he’s attending an international summit on Arctic drilling, Salazar also revealed plans for two future sales of offshore oil leases in Alaska: one for the Chukchi Sea in 2016 and one for the Beaufort Sea in 2017. This is part of the Obama administration’s “all of the above” energy strategy, he said, which includes a pledge to “do everything possible to proceed safely and responsibly” and to be ready “in the event of an incident.”
By “incident,” Salazar means oil spill — the main concern of environmentalists who have spent years fighting to keep oil rigs out of Alaskan waters. Salazar says he shares that concern, acknowledging critics’ arguments that rough seas, severe weather and remote geography make the Arctic impractical for oil drilling. “I can tell you that President Obama and his administration take very seriously the complexities and unique conditions in the Arctic,” he said Tuesday. “It is a frontier.”
Nonetheless, Salazar contends Shell is committed to safety, from its updated emergency plans to a new oil-spill containment device it successfully tested Monday in Puget Sound. Along with other recent safety measures, the company has convinced Salazar it can handle a worst-case scenario like the 2010 Gulf oil spill. “I believe there will not be an oil spill,” he tells the New York Times. “If there is, I think the response capability is there to arrest the problem very quickly and minimize damage. If I were not confident that would happen, I would not let the permits go forward.”
Shell’s quest to drill off the Alaskan coast dates back to 2005, when it began leasing sections of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. It has spent $4 billion on its Arctic aspirations since then, and now that investment seems poised to pay off. While Salazar emphasized that regulators are still reviewing Shell’s applications — which seek rights to drill up to five wells in the Beaufort-Chukchi region — his confidence in the outcome suggests a sea change is in store for Alaska’s continental shelf.


Cyber Space

Use Google Now with Caution, Security Experts Say

By Antone Gonsalves, CSO

Google Now, the smart assistant in the latest upgrade of the Android operating system, draws an uneasiness among security experts evaluating the risks the search-based feature for mobile devices brings to businesses.

Google introduced Now on Wednesday in unveiling Android 4.1 Jelly Bean at the company’s I/O developer conference in San Francisco. Now is designed to use a person’s search history, calendar, location and Google Maps to deliver useful information, such as the next bus for that appointment downtown or a weather warning on the day you plan to bike to work.

Several security experts told CSO they were concerned about Now, while acknowledging it was too early to say for sure whether there are risks to businesses. Like companies, consumers may also be uneasy with the amount of information going to Google and what the company can do with it.

Jon Oberheide, chief technology officer for mobile security vendor Duo Security, said: “I’m sure there will be opinions on both sides of the aisle: Privacy-focused users who are spooked by knowledge of Now and everyday users who are impressed and drawn to the utility of Now.”

While consumer advocates worry about privacy, corporations will be thinking about the implications of having Now on the same device an employee is using to tap a company’s web application or e-mail server. At the very least, companies will want to have control to shut off the feature.

“Google states that you must opt-in to use these services, but it is unclear whether the management APIs (application programming interfaces) provided by Google will allow centralized control of these settings,” Chester Wisniewski, security research analyst for Sophos, said.

Read Full Article Here

Firefox Security Bug Not a Bug at All

By John P. Mello Jr., PCWorld

A “bug” in the latest version of Firefox that exposes secure information in the browser’s New Tab window may not be a flaw at all, according to one security researcher.

The New Tab feature in Firefox 13 displays thumbnails of previously visited web pages whenever a new tab is opened in the browser. Those thumbnails include information from secure, or HTTPS, websites, too.

One Firefox user reported that he discovered information in the thumbnails from previous online banking and webmail sessions that included account numbers, balances, and subject lines, according a report in The Register. That means anyone opening up the browser in your computer could have easy access to some of your most sensitive information. It also creates a rich target for cyber criminals trying to snatch info from your computer remotely.

Mozilla has pledged to fix the problem.

The New Tab bug, though, may not be a bug at all, contends Sophos security researcher Paul Ducklin. He pointed out in a blog Friday that information from secure websites has been routinely stored in the history cache of Firefox for some time. That’s because communication from a browser to a secure website is encrypted in transit but not at either end of the communication. So if someone intercepts the information in transit, it will look like garbage to them. If they grab it from the cache, though, it won’t.

While acknowledging that the New Tab flaw is a security problem that should be fixed, the root of the problem is likely to remain, he argues. For example, anyone that has access to a computer running Firefox, or for that matter Chrome, can view everything in the cache opening it up by typing “about:cache” or “chrome://cache/.”

“So the newfound data leakage due to the thumbnails is a bit of a red herring,” Ducklin writes. “The information from which Firefox 13 builds its thumbnails has been there all along in previous Firefox versions.”

Several workarounds address the New Tab problem, but they fail to address the root problem, he maintains. They will hide the New Tab thumbs, but they won’t affect the information in the cache used to construct those thumbs.

A measure of security can be obtained by changing the privacy settings in Firefox so that the browser’s history is cleared each time software is closed, Ducklin notes. He also recommends that every time you perform a task in Firefox that involves personal identifying information, you clear the recent history in the software through its tool menu.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

Legal Battle Over LinkedIn Breach Could Be Costly

By Taylor Armerding, CSO

LinkedIn, the professional social networking site facing a $5 million-plus lawsuit for a massive breach earlier this month, may win its impending legal battle. But victory will probably not come cheap. Legal bills mount up quickly, especially with an “aggressive” defense, which LinkedIn has promised.

Unless the suit, filed on behalf of lead plaintiff Katie Szpyrka and a potential cast of millions of other coplaintiffs, is settled quickly and quietly, it is likely to provide regular public reminders, for months or possibly years, of what happened and why. That, as marketing people say, is not good for “brand identity.”

The 6.5 million member passwords, which were posted on a Russian hacker forum, had been easily decrypted because LinkedIn was using only a rudimentary hashing algorithm that is not even close to the current industry standard.

And that encryption weakness is what the lawsuit cites repeatedly in its seven allegations, including violation of California business and professional code; violations of California civil code; breach of contract; breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; breach of implied contracts; negligence; and negligence per se.

Szpyrka, listed on LinkedIn as a senior associate at the Chicago offices of UGL Equis, a global real estate firm focused on business clients, is represented by Sean P. Reis of Edelson McGuire LLP, a law firm in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. The suit is seeking certification as a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all LinkedIn users compromised by the hack.

The suit doesn’t allege violations of any specific cybersecurity law, but complains that the company violated its own privacy policy, which asserts that it will, “safeguard its users sensitive PII (personally identifiable information), specifically that: ‘All information you provide will be protected with industry standard protocols and technology.'”

By its own admission, LinkedIn was not in compliance with the industry standard, which is to “salt” the hashes — merge the hashed passwords with another combination and then hash them for a second time.

LinkedIn, however, invokes the classic defense in data breach cases to contend the suit is “without merit.”

LinkedIn spokeswoman Erin O’Harra told Cameron Scott of the IDG News Service: “No member account has been breached as a result of the incident, and we have no reason to believe that any LinkedIn member has been injured. Therefore, it appears that these threats are driven by lawyers looking to take advantage of the situation.”

So, now that the dueling sound bites have been issued, how vulnerable is LinkedIn really?

The likelihood is, not very much. The courts have so far declined to award damages to plaintiffs who cannot prove actual damages. Legal experts viewing a string of lawsuits, also in California, over breaches of personal medical information, told CSO in April that judges are well aware that 100-percent security on the Internet simply does not exist, due to the rapidity and sophistication of attacks.

Read Full Article Here


Survival / Sustainability

How to maintain your relationships and keep prepping when the ‘better half ‘ thinks you’re nuts…….

by M.D. Creekmore (a.k.a Mr. Prepper)  

This guest post is by SurvivorDan and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

Quite a few preppers have had to deal with the strain on a relationship from one-sided prepping commitment. Often one person in a relationship does not share the zeal, the sense of urgency that drives the other partner to prep vigorously. Sometimes the other partner does not believe in the need to prepare for a major disaster at all. Many of us have had to deal with that very situation.  It has been suggested on this blog and others that the prepper should make every attempt to get the ‘other half ‘ involved. I think that’s sound advice though I may have come to that conclusion a bit too late.

Firstly, you may believe in an imminent polar shift disaster, super tornadoes, coming comet/asteroid impact, a New World Government takeover and ensuing social enslavement, the total Collapse of the U.S. Government, world monetary collapse and world wide depression, global warming, global cooling, ad infinitum. There is an element of reality in all of them. Rather than  trying to convince your partner that such is the case, try pushing the more comprehensible rather than the extreme.

Such beliefs, right or wrong, are hard for the average person to embrace. So hedge a little…   Wink  …you are mainly preparing for natural disaster, economic depression and possibly a temporary loss of services such as power and water, civil upheaval (rioting etc.). These are ‘reasonable’ and foreseeable crises which most people (and your ‘better half’) can agree are possible. Acquire some videos on the tsunami in Indonesia, the flooding and rioting at Katrina, the earthquake generated devastation of Haiti. Make it real for your spouse/sig-other.

Next involve them in prep related activities. What are their interests? Do they love to cook? Experiment with dutch oven or solar oven cooking. Do they like to garden or have they always wanted to garden. Encourage him/her to start or enlarge a garden. Get involved as much as you can. Expand the gardening activity to include composting and canning. You can learn to can together. Get it? Together. Mutually shared activities (prepping related) and interests.

Bring the other half into your related hobbies such as shooting, hunting, fishing, ham radio, etc.  Take CPR classes together. Maybe even EMT courses. Go camping. Teach them primitive fire making techniques and make it fun. I showed my wife how to make primitive powered traps and she really got a kick out of it. Naturally I taught her to look for sign and scat so she could site her traps if necessary. She now has a basic capability (and confidence) to make traps to acquire food if needed. I taught her how to track someone with the reasoning that one of the grandkids could get lost when we’re camping. She took an immediate and avid interest. Now she at least has the rudiments of tracking and interpreting sign at her disposal. Could come in handy in the event of TEOTWAWKI.

Often the non-prepping wife/girlfriend or husband/boyfriend tolerates a certain amount of disaster preparations. Bur occasionally, the ‘crazed’ prepper spouse/significant-other drives them over the brink.

I’m afraid I’ve driven MrsSurvivorDan over the precipice. It’s not that I did anything different or on a grander scale than I have ever done heretofore. It is merely that the cumulative effect has driven her ‘sane’.  Sometimes your loved one has a different vision and you can’t change them. You can’t make them see the ‘wisdom’ of your parsimonious, TEOTWAWKI focused lifestyle as you make adjustments prior to what you see as an inevitable Collapse. She says that she thinks I’m a good man but a little ‘nuts’. And indeed, I am a little  nuts, I just think the Collapse is coming. Being a nut doesn’t make me wrong.

Read Full Article Here

How to Prepare for Emergency Situations Using Your Coupons

Most emergency preparedness experts recommend having enough food, water, and supplies to last at least two weeks in the case of a disaster. It can be difficult to find the money to set aside enough to see your family through a fourteen day period, however. With coupons, you can easily find great deals on the things that you need for your emergency supplies without making a big dent in your regular monthly budget.

Start With the Basics

Water, food, and medical supplies are all important to have on hand. But which of these items should you begin purchasing and storing first? When you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend, you will want to start with the basics and purchase items when they are on sale. By using a coupon for an item that is already at a reduced price, you stock up on the things that you need at a much faster rate than buying items at full price.

According to the website Ready.Gov, you need the following on hand:

·    One gallon of water per person, per day.
·    Enough food for each person, preferably dried or canned foods.
·    Pliers, scissors, and other common tools.
·    Medical supplies, such as bandages, prescription medications, and over the counter medicines for pain, fever, and minor injury.
·    Batteries and a battery powered radio.

You can find the full list of emergency supplies recommended online at http://www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit.

You can find coupons for most common household goods, such as canned food, chlorine bleach, and batteries both through local sources and online. Your Sunday newspaper is a great place to find coupons on extra household supplies that you can store for emergencies. For example, some things that you may not think of, like toothpaste, asprin, and plastic bags can be purchased using a coupon from your newspaper.

Read Full Article Here

Wildfire Survival Tips

Whether you live in or visit a densely wooded area that is susceptible to wildfires, it is extremely important to understand the risks and causes of these unfortunate and often preventable disasters. Wildfires are very dangerous and can rip through acres of land in no time at all, leaving nothing but ashes behind. This is why you must take action as soon as a wildfire is reported near you. If you would like to know how to survive a wildfire, take some time to look over the following wildfire survival tips.

Have a Plan

Many people make their homes in heavily wooded areas, while others camp, hunt, or hike these areas on a regular basis. Regardless if you live in or visit these areas for sport or leisure, you should always have a plan in place in case a wildfire happens to strike. If your home is in a wildfire-prone area, make sure your family has an emergency evacuation plan. You should also make arrangements for temporary housing, as this will be necessary if you need to evacuate. The same goes for visitors (hunters, campers, etc.) of heavily wooded areas. Before visiting, you should research the area so you are familiar with it and are prepared if there happens to be a wildfire.

Take Some Precautions

Both residents and visitors alike also need to understand that most wildfires can be prevented by taking some easy precautions. Do not burn carelessly or start fires near dry brush or grasslands, especially when rain has been scarce. Also, you should always have a water supply nearby in case a fire happens to get out of control. These simple measures can usually prevent a fire from spreading and growing into something more disastrous. It is good to keep in mind though, that some wildfires start as the result of a lightning strike and therefore cannot be prevented by man.


Should a wildfire be reported in your area, you may be ordered to evacuate immediately. Be sure to choose an evacuation route that leads away, not into, the fire hazard. If you encounter smoke while in your vehicle, drive slowly with your lights on. Roll up windows and close all air vents to keep smoke out. When you reach your safe haven, stay there and do not return to your property until you have received the okay to do so.

Read Full Article Here

‘Preppers’ stock up on guns’n’gear as financial doom looms

Uploaded by on Aug 11, 2011

With political instability spreading across the globe and fears of more Fukushima-style nuclear disasters, the number of doomsday believers is on the rise. But now it’s also the struggling global economy that’s increasingly making people stock up on basic neccessities. RT’s Anastasia Churkina met some Americans, who are ready for the worst.


Whistle Blowers

Fast and Furious whistleblowers now supervised by ATF manager who allegedly threatened retaliation

By Sharyl Attkisson
Issa: "There's still time" to avoid Holder contemptHouse Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

(CBS News) Two Fast and Furious whistleblowers have reportedly been placed under the supervision of an ATF official who allegedly threatened to “take them down.”

That’s according to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who have asked the Inspector General to immediately investigate.

When the ATF whistleblowers, Special Agents John Dodson and Pete Forcelli, went public last year, Scot Thomasson headed up ATF Public Affairs. According to an eyewitness, Thomasson stated “We need to get whatever dirt we can on these guys (whistleblowers) and take them down.” Now, Grassley and Issa say the agents have been put under the charge of ATF’s Scot Thomasson who is Division Chief of the Firearms Operations Unit.

Thomasson was also allegedly heard to have said “ATF needs to f__k these guys.” And when asked if the whistleblower allegations were true, Thomasson purportedly said he didn’t know and didn’t care. The accounts are contained in a May 3, 2012 House Oversight memo attached to Congress’ draft contempt report against Attorney General Eric Holder.

Fast and Furious: GOP says wiretaps revealed ‘Gunwalking’ early on

Read Full Article Here

TerraViva United Nations

U.N. Whistleblowers Muted and Victimized

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 29 2012 (IPS) – A landmark case filed against U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon by a former employee has spotlighted the dangers of whistle-blowing inside the U.N. exposing a faulty accountability system.

In 2007 James Wasserstrom, an ex American diplomat, drew attention to suspected cases of corruption among top U.N. officials of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).

Unwarranted searches of his flat and car ensued and his career as a U.N. employee came to an end.

Currently U.N. officials have recourse to an anti-corruption watchdog titled the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), an ethics office and a whistle-blowing protection policy should they wish to file a complaint or claim.

But these accountability mechanisms were deemed “fundamentally flawed” by the dispute tribunal, an independent adjudicator introduced in 2009, which has ruled in Wassertrom’s favor.

Wassertrom took issue with U.N. sponsored conduct in Kosovo and found evidence to suggest that two senior officials might have been bribed to approve the construction of a coal-fired power plant and mine.

He made his suspicions known to the OIOS and believes that his claims were leaked to the officials he sought to implicate, putting him at risk of reprisals.

The ethics office found a clear case of retaliation by senior U.N. officials implicated in Wasserstrom’s corruption claims, but the OIOS rejected claims of retaliatory intent and tempered its judgment concluding that the conduct of officials “appeared to be excessive”.

According to the Government Accountability Project (GAP), a watchdog organization in Washington, of 297 cases Wasserstrom’s case was only the second time in six years that the ethics office had fully sided with a whistleblower complaining of retaliation whilst seeking to expose misconduct within the U.N.

Numerous cases have been documented in independent media reports, and a recent article in the Guardian gave details of three further whistleblowers that saw their claims rejected and careers terminated.

An article in Foreign Policy similarly documents the case of Georges Tadonki who was sacked amid claims that his attempts to warn his seniors of the impending threat of cholera has been neglected prior to the countrywide outbreak in Zimbabwe in 2009.

In the recent ruling of the tribunal, Judge Goolam Meeran was scathing in his rebuke of the conduct of a global institution renowned for the promotion human rights, for having “condoned humiliating and degrading treatment of a member of its own staff”. Ban is yet to respond to the judgment. Journalist Matthew Lee of Inner City Press raised the issue in a U.N. noon briefing Jun. 25, but Ban’s spokesmen Martin Nesirky declined to comment.

The Guardian newspaper received an email from Nesirky stating, “The U.N. Dispute Tribunal issued a judgment on liability in the case of Mr Wasserstrom, but has not yet ruled on compensation and remedies. In that sense, the matter is still open. The United Nations Secretariat is studying the judgment and, in keeping with its policy on ongoing cases, is not in a position to provide any comment now.


Articles of Interest

U.S. urges action on global cattle disease

by Staff Writers
Bangkok (UPI)

Seed Daily

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

A global strategy to combat foot-and-mouth disease must be based on collective action and solid commitments from all countries, the U.N. food agency says.

Foot-and-mouth disease, which affects all cloven-hoofed animals including sheep, goats, cattle, buffalo and pigs, causes serious production losses and can be fatal, particularly to younger animals.

“Recent FMD outbreaks around the globe demonstrate that animal diseases have no boundaries, can have a devastating impact and require a global response,” Hiroyuki Konuma, Food and Agriculture Organization regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, said.

He was addressing the opening session of a foot-and-mouth disease conference in Bangkok Wednesday.

While the disease does not directly affect humans, the FAO cited the negative impact it has on poor farmers whose livelihoods often depend on just a few animals, the loss of which can lead to hunger and economic ruin.

The agency estimates a $5 billion global annual cost of the disease in terms of production losses and the need for prevention by vaccination.

It cited the effort against another cattle disease, rinderpest, as evidence of the effectiveness of cooperation.

“The successful eradication of rinderpest, a joint effort by scientists, governments, donors, veterinarians and farmers, clearly shows that we can reduce and even eliminate the threat of major diseases,” the FAO’s chief veterinary officer, Juan Lubroth, said in a statement.

Related Links
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology

[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]