Archive for the ‘News’ Category

 

By Michael Millar BBC Business News

Two heads Human-to-human “mind control” has, until now, been a concept in science fiction and fantasy

With one tap on his space bar, Andrea Stocco fires the cannon on his computer game and blows a rocket out of the sky.

The game itself is unremarkable – in fact it looks like a relic of the 1980s.

What is remarkable is the way it is being played because the University of Washington researcher can’t actually see it.

 

The person who can, fellow scientist Rajesh Rao, is sitting across campus looking at the screen.

He is wearing a cap with wires coming out of it (which looks like something you might have seen in a 1950s sci-fi programme that was imagining this moment).

Without moving a muscle, or using a communication device, Mr Rao told his colleague to fire the cannon at just the right moment.

The only thing Mr Rao had was the power of his mind, so, at the right moment, he imagined firing the cannon.

This sent a signal via the internet to Mr Stocco, who, wearing noise-cancelling earphones (and a purple swimming cap) involuntarily moved his right index finger to push the space bar.

Imperius curse

What has just happened seems to be the first documented case of human-to-human “mind control”.

The researchers gave it the rather less alluring title of human-to-human brain interface, but that’s scientists for you.

Researchers doing the experiment University of Washington researcher Rajesh Rao, left, plays a computer game with his mind. Across campus, researcher Andrea Stocco, right, carries out the command

Until now this concept remained in the realms of theory, or more likely science fiction and fantasy.

Those of a wizarding persuasion will see parallels with the evil Voldemort’s Imperius curse, used to manipulate people in the Harry Potter stories.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

It could lead to better-linked teams of people – who may speak different languages – working together to solve hard problems faster”

Daniel Wilson Robopocalypse author

Mr Stocco jokingly refers to the experiment as a “Vulcan mind meld”, after a technique employed by Mr Spock in Star Trek to share thoughts.

“The internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains,” Mr Stocco says.

He compares the feeling of his hand moving to that of a nervous tic.

Mr Rao says it was “both exciting and eerie” to watch an imagined action from his brain get translated into actual action by another brain.

“The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains,” he adds.

Brain activity

There are already numerous examples of the human brain being used to control technology.

For example, Samsung is experimenting with a mind-control tablet.

Technology firm Interaxon is marketing a “brain sensing headband” that it hopes will allow people to control devices with their minds.

It is already widely used to help those with physical disabilities.

Indeed the technology for recording and stimulating the two researchers’ brains in this experiment are both well-known.

Cycle of the experiment Brain signals from the “Sender” are recorded. When the computer detects imagined hand movements, a “fire” command is transmitted over the internet, causing an upward movement of the hand of the “Receiver”

Electroencephalography – the technique used to send the message from Mr Rao – is routinely used by the medical profession to record brain activity from the scalp.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation – which made Mr Stocco’s finger move – is a way of delivering stimulation to the brain to prompt a response.

But putting the two together, effectively allowing one person to direct the responses of another, is new.

‘Trivial’

The researchers are quick to point out that this experiment is very basic in terms of the concept.

But Daniel Wilson, who has a PhD in robotics and is the author of Robopocalypse, says it remains important as a “proof of concept” experiment.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

There’s no possible way the technology that we have could be used on a person unknowingly or without their willing participation”

Chantal Prat University of Washington

“It has sparked a discussion of how brain-to-brain interfaces might impact society in the future,” he says.

“Although the experimental set-up is too narrow to have practical value, it certainly makes us think.”

However, others are unimpressed.

Dr Ian Pearson, a futurologist with a background in science and engineering, compares it to experiments by Australian performance artist Stelarc 15 years ago.

He enabled people to remote control his limbs via the internet.

“Adding a simple thought recognition control system is pretty trivial,” Dr Pearson says.

“If they were taking a thought from one person and directly creating a thought in another then I’d be impressed.”

Collaboration

There is more general agreement on the impact that future developments in this field could have on the way humans collaborate and communicate.

Mr Stocco says that one day it could be used to enable someone on the ground to help a passenger land an aeroplane if the pilot becomes incapacitated.

Spock “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Star Trek character Mr Spock used the “mind meld” to share thoughts

Dr Pearson cites the example of a complex project where numerous different types of professionals are involved.

“Say you’re trying to design a building and you have engineers, designers and artists,” he says.

“Even if they are far apart, the artist could conjure up an idea and perhaps the engineer thinks that won’t work for some reason, so they refine it.

“Working together they could come up with something complex, very quickly.”

Dr Pearson, who gazes in to the future for a living, is pretty sure this scenario will one day be real, based on nano-technology placed directly onto the brain.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

When we have full links into the brain directly and you can control someone like a robot then we might have problems”

Dr Ian Pearson Futurologist

But we’ll have to wait another 30 to 40 years for that, he says.

No zombies

Of course, the whole concept of mind control is often overshadowed by the disturbing implications of its misuse.

Although he has written a book about a dystopian, robot-controlled future, Mr Wilson is sanguine about the implications of the experiment.

“I see nothing inherently dangerous about increasing the communication bandwidth between human beings,” he says.

“If anything, it could lead to better-linked teams of people – who may speak different languages – working together to solve hard problems faster.

“The intricate technical requirements of transcranial magnetic stimulation make covert mind control unfeasible.”

Chantal Prat is assistant professor in psychology at the University of Washington and helped conduct the experiment.

She agrees with Mr Wilson’s analysis.

Ian Pearson Dr Pearson believes these techniques will be used in the future by teams carrying out complex tasks

“I think some people will be unnerved by this because they will overestimate the technology,” she says.

“There’s no possible way the technology that we have could be used on a person unknowingly or without their willing participation.”

Just beware of someone coming at you holding a swimming cap with wires poking out of it.

But these are early days; what will come as the technology develops is anyone’s guess.

“We are not in the realms of creating zombies,” Dr Pearson says.

“When we have full links into the brain directly and you can control someone like a robot then we might have problems.

“Whether it turns to slavery or state control – who knows; you could write any number of sci-fi books about that.”

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October 27, 2013 By Leave a Comment

21st Century Wire says…


The state will use intimidation and force, in order to preserve corporate cartel market price-fixing and control of the supply chain. 

British authorities have raided a workshop, for allegedly ‘printing illegal gun parts’. Police believe that that the basis of their raid in Manchester, England, was that:

“Police believe the parts represent the “next generation” of firearms, which can be created by gangsters in the privacy of their own homes and smuggled with ease due to the fact they can avoid X-ray detection.

Police found what is suspected to be a 3D plastic magazine and trigger which could be fitted together to make a working gun.”

3-D printers are still in their infancy, but they pose a threat to corporate hegemony, so it’s expected that both US and UK authorities will seek to make this new technology heavily regulated and licensed, if not illegal. Their main point of attack on the technology will be the ability to make a gun or extended magazine with a 3-D printer

Making guns for personal use has been legal for decades, but doing so has required machining know-how and a variety of parts. You can make a crude shotgun, or a deadly sling shot with materials available in most garden sheds. With 3-D printers, users download blueprints from the Internet, feed them into the machine, and make the parts they need. 

The Washington Post reported earlier this year on the impact of this new technology for the better of humanity:

“Restrictions are difficult to enforce in a world where anybody can make anything,” said Hod Lipson, a 3-D printing expert at Cornell University and co-author of the new book, “Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing.” “Talking about old-fashioned control will be very ineffective.”


21WIRE reported on the man who tested the forst 3-D printed gun, Cody Wilson (photo, above), founder of Defense Distributed back in May 2013, as well is information you can go to now to see how to create your own 3-D printed item.

RT reports…

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Lock, stock and a smoking printer? UK police seize ‘3D-printed gun parts’

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A handout picture taken on October 24, 2013 and released by Greater Manchester Police on October 25, 2013 shows a 3D printer seized by British police during an operation that also resulted in the seizure of plastic 3D components that police believe could be used to make a viable 3D-printed gun in the Baguley area of Manchester, northwest England on October 24, 2013. (AFP Photo)

A handout picture taken on October 24, 2013 and released by Greater Manchester Police on October 25, 2013 shows a 3D printer seized by British police during an operation that also resulted in the seizure of plastic 3D components that police believe could be used to make a viable 3D-printed gun in the Baguley area of Manchester, northwest England on October 24, 2013. (AFP Photo)

British police say they’ve seized a 3D printer and 3D-printed gun components, including a trigger and a magazine capable of holding bullets, during a raid in Manchester. Critics, however, say they found nothing more than spare printer parts.

The alleged gun parts were discovered, along with the 3D printer, when officers from the Greater Manchester Police force carried out a search Thursday in the Baguley area of Wythenshawe, in the south of Manchester. 

If the parts prove to be legitimate, the bust would represent the first-ever seizure of the next-generation weapon, which can be constructed by a 3D printer almost entirely out of plastic – creating the possibility of evading detection by airport security metal detectors. 

The components are now being forensically examined by firearms specialists to establish if they could be used to construct a functional device. 

A man has been arrested on suspicion of making gunpowder and is currently in custody for questioning. 

Police fear such weapons can be created by criminals in the privacy of their own homes, thus evading detection by security scanners at airports and other high-risk targets. 

“If what we have seized is proven to be viable, components capable of constructing a genuine firearm, then it demonstrates that organized crime groups are acquiring technology that can be bought on the high street to produce the next generation of weapons,”
 Greater Manchester Detective Inspector Chris Mossop told Sky News. 

“In theory, the technology essentially allows offenders to produce their own guns in the privacy of their own home, which they can then supply to the criminal gangs who are causing such misery in our communities,” he said. “Because they are also plastic and can avoid X-ray detection, it makes them easy to conceal and smuggle. These could be the next generation of firearms.”
 

A commenter on the California tech-blog GigaOM noted, however, that the parts being paraded in the media “are actually spare parts for a 3D printer,” and not components for a weapon. 

“If the police thinks that the part on the photo is a trigger, just search mk8 on thingiverse.com and you will see that it’s a upgrade part for a printer. I really don’t get this media/police fascination relating to 3d printers with guns… it’s a tool to make 3d parts, not guns,” user nuno gato wrote. 

A handout picture taken on October 24, 2013 and released by Greater Manchester Police on October 25, 2013 shows a plastic component that British police suspect to be a trigger that could be used to make a viable 3D-printed gun, seized by police during searches as part of an operation in the Baguley area of Manchester, northwest England on October 24, 2013. (AFP Photo)

A handout picture taken on October 24, 2013 and released by Greater Manchester Police on October 25, 2013 shows a plastic component that British police suspect to be a trigger that could be used to make a viable 3D-printed gun, seized by police during searches as part of an operation in the Baguley area of Manchester, northwest England on October 24, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Hours later, New Scientist came to the same conclusion, noting the “trigger” identified by police appears to be part of a MakerBot 3D printer designed to extrude 3D-printing plastic to make an object. The “clip,” incidentally, looks like a part intended to hold spools of plastic. 

“It does look like the MakerBot part,” Stuart Offer, of 3D-printing firm 3T RPD in the UK city of Newbury, told the magazine. “These 3D printed guns seem to have hit the headlines, but I’ve no idea why they take off so much,” he said, noting that homemade weapons were not that difficult to manufacture. ”A little engineer in his shed with a mill down the bottom of the garden could make a proper metal barrel capable of firing a high-velocity bullet.” 

A handout picture taken on October 24, 2013 and released by Greater Manchester Police on October 25, 2013 shows a plastic component that British police suspect to be a magazine that could be used to make a viable 3D-printed gun, seized by police during searches as part of an operation in the Baguley area of Manchester, northwest England on October 24, 2013. (AFP Photo)

A handout picture taken on October 24, 2013 and released by Greater Manchester Police on October 25, 2013 shows a plastic component that British police suspect to be a magazine that could be used to make a viable 3D-printed gun, seized by police during searches as part of an operation in the Baguley area of Manchester, northwest England on October 24, 2013. (AFP Photo)

3D printed weapons first came to the attention of law enforcement officials worldwide after Defense Distributed announced it had successfully test-fired a handgun created with a 3D printer. 

In May, the organization, founded by a 25-year-old crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson, posted blueprints for the single-shot .380-caliber Liberator online. 

The files were downloaded more than 100,000 times in just two days before the US State Department demanded that they be removed. Britain was the No. 5 downloader of the plans upon publication, with Germany, Brazil, the United States and Spain filling out the top four positions. 

A working version of the Liberator went on display in September in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 

The only non-plastic part of the Liberator is a tiny nail that acts as the firing pin, as well as a .380 cartridge it fires. Wilson is reportedly working on fabricating plastic bullets, a move that would make it nearly undetectable at security screenings.  3D-printed firearms can also be manufactured without serial numbers or unique identifiers, tripping up ballistics testing. 

Anyone with a sufficiently sophisticated 3D printer, which can be bought for $1,725 or even less, can make such weapons. 

After users download designs for guns or components, the printers themselves ejects molten plastic to produce 3D shapes of whatever design has been downloaded. 

An actual 3D gun can be made for as little as $25, according to a report by Forbes magazine. 

Police agencies in Germany, Austria and Australia (http://rt.com/news/3d-gun-australia-police-758/) have been testing 3D weapons to get a better sense of their efficacy. Preliminary tests indicate a strong likelihood users could maim or kill themselves instead of the intended target, however, though the guns are expected to become increasingly sophisticated as technologies advance. 

“In Germany and in most European countries, the possession of an unregistered weapon, even if it is manufactured at home, is illegal and punishable by law,” Michael Brzoska, a security expert and director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Studies at the University of Hamburg, recently told the New York Times. “But the temptation to try, if it’s technically possible, is a great one.” 

While it is currently legal for a person to manufacture a firearm for personal use in the US, the production of weapons using 3D printers is already banned by a European Union directive to member countries.

The UK imposed a ban on handguns after the 1996 Dunblane Primary School massacre, when a gunman shot 16 children and one adult before committing suicide. 

So far, there are no reported violence crimes committed with 3D printed weapons.

More than 70 million sharks were killed last year, largely to satisfy rapacious demand from China’s newly rich. But now there may fresh hope after all for sharks worldwide

 
 

Once a rare delicacy served to honored guests, shark fin soup had become so popular among China’s fast-growing elite in recent years that it was pushing some shark species close to extinction.

Now, there is fresh hope for sharks around the world. The demand for shark fins has plunged, providing a rare victory for conservationists that could have wider implications for other endangered wildlife.

Thanks to a former NBA star, a coalition of Chinese business leaders, celebrities and students, and some unlikely investigative journalism, eating shark fin soup is no longer fashionable here. But what really tipped the balance was a government campaign against extravagance that has seen the soup banned from official banquets.

“People said it was impossible to change China, but the evidence we are now getting says consumption of shark fin soup in China is down by 50 to 70 percent in the last two years,” said Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid, a San Francisco-based group that has promoted awareness about the shark trade. The drop is also reflected in government and industry statistics.

“It is a myth that people in Asia don’t care about wildlife,” Knights said. “Consumption is based on ignorance rather than malice.”

The dramatic expansion in China’s middle and upper classes has transformed the country into a major driver of global wildlife trafficking. The Obama administration is so concerned about Chinese demand for endangered wildlife that it made the subject an important part of its bilateral dialogue this year.

More than 70 million sharks were killed last year, largely to satisfy rapacious demand from China’s newly rich for shark fin soup.

Lavish spending by China’s wealthy has also sent demand for ivory skyrocketing, fueling a massive expansion in elephant poaching in Africa.

The consequences of the traffic go beyond a crisis for wildlife. The illegal ivory trade has financed global crime networks and local insurgents, including Somalia’s al-Shabab — responsible for last month’s attack on a Nairobi shopping mall.

“Conservation is more about China now than it is about Africa,” said Knights. “China can be the savior of wildlife or it can be the demise of it.”

Shark fin soup is believed to have been created more than 1,000 years ago by an emperor in the Sung dynasty who was trying to show off to his guests. Consumption of the expensive soup was revived in recent years at banquets and weddings as a sign of social status.

But it became so popular that 10 of the 14 species of oceanic sharks most commonly fished for their fins are at “very high” or “high” risk of extinction — including iconic species like the Great Hammerhead — and the other four are approaching that status, according to conservation groups.

Just a few years ago, most Chinese people were oblivious to what was happening. One survey carried out in 2005-2006 showed 80 percent of respondents did not even know the soup — known in Chinese as “fish wing” soup — was made with shark fins.

But in 2006, WildAid enlisted Chinese professional basketball player Yao Ming, who played for the Houston Rockets, to front a public awareness campaign. One ad showed diners refusing the soup when confronted with the gory reality of sharks whose fins have been sliced off. The finless fish are often tossed back into the sea to die.

A successful businessman, Jim Zhang, was so moved that he began working to change attitudes about sharks, eventually becoming a full-time environmentalist.

In 2010, he conducted a poll on the popular microblogging service weibo that drew 30,000 participants, 99 percent of whom supported a ban on shark imports. “That really encouraged me,” he said. “I realized that we have a voice here, and we have to take action.”

Zhang convinced about 30 members of China’s 2,987-delegate parliament, the National People’s Congress, to sign a proposal in 2011 calling for a ban on shark fin imports.

The initial proposal was rejected by the government, but a second one had more success. It came amid a growing effort by many countries to limit the trade in endangered shark species and their fins.

In July 2012, the Chinese government pledged to ban shark fin soup from official banquets within three years. Then, as part of its new campaign against extravagance, instructions went out to officials all around the country in February and March to ban lavish banquets. Instead, they were told to serve “ordinary food” and not to offer shark fin soup or dishes made with protected wildlife.

In September, similar instructions were sent out by the government in Hong Kong — a major center for the shark fin industry — “to demonstrate its commitment to green living and sustainability.”

There was also help from state-run media: China Central Television ran a series of reports this year that found that restaurants were serving up fake shark fin soup — using starch, gelatin and seaweed gum. Even more damaging was the finding that many soup samples contained dangerous levels of cadmium and methyl mercury.

The effects of the campaigns have been dramatic. In February, China’s Commerce Ministry said the consumption of shark fin soup during the Spring Break holiday had declined by 70 percent from a year earlier. In Hong Kong, industry groups say imports of shark fin have declined by between 20 and 30 percent this year. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that prices of shark fin are falling globally and fishermen in parts of Africa are turning away from the trade.

In interviews this month at Beijing’s Lianhong Marine Dry Products Market, traders said business was down by about 70 percent. A half-kilo (1.1 pounds) of dried shark fin that once might have sold for $165 had been reduced to $110 in one shop to clear stocks.

“Since the rule came out, who dares to eat shark fin?” said one shop owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In high-end seafood restaurants in Beijing, shark fin soup is still on the menu — for between $60 and $325 a bowl — but some hotels and restaurants no longer offer it.

Chen Jun, a chef in the western city of Lanzhou, said business was down by more than half, some restaurants had closed and some chefs had been laid off. “Of course I know shark fin is controversial — I learnt it from Yao Ming’s advertisements,” he said by telephone. “I feel guilty in my heart, but what else can I do?”

Conservationists said the campaign had been so successful partly because it had mobilized young people. With social media allowing them to express themselves more freely, the shark fin campaign almost became part of pop culture.

A 12-year-old student, Huang Weilan, said in an interview that she had collected nearly 200 signatures on an anti-shark-fin petition from friends of her parents. “It’s quite easy to convince people because I am a kid, ” she said. “Generally adults don’t like to say no to children.”

On a recent sunny Saturday morning in Beijing, students from the China University of Mining and Technology gathered in a park collecting pledges from young and old not to consume the soup.

Sixty-eight-year-old Zhang Xianying, walking his grandson in a stroller, said he had barely had enough food to survive when he was young, and he had tasted shark fin soup more recently “just so I could tell people I had eaten it.”

But he said he was happy to sign the pledge after learning how cruel the trade was, and how important sharks were to the marine food chain.

Buoyed by the results of the shark fin campaign, conservationists are now turning their attention to the trade in ivory and rhino horn. Some 25,000 elephants were poached last year, and 668 rhinos killed in South Africa alone; China is the largest market for ivory and the second largest for rhino horn behind Vietnam.

The Chinese government is more defensive about the ivory trade, seeing carving as part of traditional culture. Licensed workshops are allowed to use existing stockpiles of ivory to make ornaments, jewelry and chopsticks, but this legal business has provided the cover for a vast illegal trade.

But attitudes can change, and the Chinese government is not intransigent. A major investor in Africa, it does not want to be seen as the reason for widespread insecurity caused by poaching. In September, it started sending text messages to every Chinese cellphone user who touched down in Kenya, warning them to “not carry illegal ivory, rhino horn or any other wildlife.”

Zhang Jie contributed to this report.

Copyright Washington Post 2013

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/in-china-shark-fin-soup-is-losing-its-fashion-8894495.html

The lone wolf propaganda carries on in Britain and the UK.

A Ukrainian white supremacist tried to start a one man race war in the UK by murdering a Muslim pensioner and exploding bombs near three mosques.

Pavlo Lapshyn pled guilty at the Old Bailey Photo: CENTRAL NEWS
 
Tom Whitehead

By , and Miranda Prynne

6:24PM BST 21 Oct 2013

Pavlo Lapshyn, 25, a PHD technology student, was in Britain just five days before he stabbed defenceless 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem in Birmingham, launching a three month race-fuelled frenzy.

He told police he wanted to “increase racial conflict” and his bombs were detonated at a time of high community tension around the country in the wake of the alleged murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, east London.

But the Home Office faced questions over why he was allowed in the UK in the first place after it emerged he had previously been questioned by police in his native Ukraine over a small explosion in his flat there.

The Lapshyn attacks also fuelled concerns of a new terror threat facing Britain from “lone wolf” far right, white supremacists, especially in the wake of the Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik.

Police believe he was preparing to set off more homemade bombs when he was caught and his last, most powerful explosion could have killed or injured hundreds of people but for a blunder by Lapshyn.

The nail bomb, detonated next to a mosque in Tipton in July, sprayed shrapnel more than 200 feet and had been timed for 1pm, when worshippers would normally be arriving at the Mosque.

But that day’s prayers had been put back an hour due to Ramadan and no one was injured as a result.

He had previously detonated bombs near mosques in Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Lapshyn admitted murdering Mr Saleem, causing an explosion and engaging in terrorist acts when he appeared at the Old Bailey.

Mohammed Saleem, 82, who was murdered as he walked home from his local mosque (PA)

During a police interview, Lapshyn said: “I would like to increase racial conflict.

“I did it because they are not white and I am white.

Asked why he had attacked Mr Saleem, in April, he said: “I have a racial hatred, so I have a motivation, a racial motivation and a racial hatred.”

He was described by officers as “calm, calculated, committed” throughout the interview and remained emotionless as he admitted his crimes yesterday.

Lapshyn had arrived in the UK just five days before the murder to take up a work placement with a company called Delcam Plc in the Small Heath area of Birmingham.

Police later discovered he had extreme right wing literature such as the 1978 novel The Turner Diaries, in which a violent revolution evolves into a race war in the US and leads to the extermination of all non-white, gay and Jewish people.

He also researched information about Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Speaking outside the court, West Midlands Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale described Lapshyn as “dangerous and evil”.

“His motivation was very much that he thought the white man was better than everybody else and he was attacking for that reason.

””He was extremely dangerous. It is of great relief that he is not free to walk the streets any further.

“He’s a dangerous, evil and completely ill-informed man. There is no justification for the crimes he committed or the intent that he has.

“He was operating alone, he was a lone actor.”

Mr Saleem’s daughter Shazia Khan said of her father: “He did not do anything to deserve this horrific killing other than being a Muslim.”

On Lapshyn, she added: “It’s such a pity that he has lost his whole life for some personal hatred or opinion that he has of a particular faith. To kill someone because of what they look like and what they believe in is unforgivable.”

She said that when she saw Lapshyn in court, she pitied him.

“We just looked at him and we felt pity. He looked pathetic. He looked frightened and stressed.”

Her husband Hanif Khan said: “How can you get closure? I thought today we would get that, but you can’t. It opens up wounds. How can you weigh up a sentence to a life? What does it mean?”

He added: “I tried to weigh up what this individual has done, the most selfish act. It’s beyond comprehension.”

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said: “This is a satisfying outcome to a highly distressing case where Pavlo Lapshyn’s hatred has robbed a family of a loved one and attempted to cause fear and division within our communities.”

 

 

Lapshyn, who had a Master’s degree in the technology of machine building, made the bombs from chemicals and equipment he had purchased from the internet, local shops and market stalls after arriving in the UK.

His first device exploded on June 21 next to a mosque in Walsall then a week later he set off a bomb near a Wolverhampton mosque.

On July 12 he detonated a nail bomb next to a mosque in Tipton which blasted shrapnel and debris over a 230-foot area.

Lapshyn set off the Tipton device, which contained 600g of nails, at 1pm to coincide with daily prayers when hundreds of people would usually congregate at the mosque.

Fortunately, due to Ramadan, the mosque’s prayer time had been put back an hour to 2pm meaning the building and car park were empty when the device exploded.

“Luckily the bomb went off at 1pm.

“An hour later the building and car park outside would have been filled with people and cars,” said Dept Supt Edwards.

“At least 200 people attend prayers at the mosque and during Ramadan this could go up into thousands.”

He added: “He increased the amount of explosive that he put in each bomb. He openly admitted he wanted the Tipton bomb to hurt people.”

Police initially linked Lapshyn to the Walsall bombing using CCTV which showed a man arriving at the scene with a children’s “Shark” lunch box containing the bomb and leaving empty-handed a few minutes later.

They trawled through thousands of hours of footage from all over the area to trace the unknown man back to the Small Heath area of Birmingham, where Lapshyn was living in accommodation provided by his employers.

Community policing teams finally uncovered Lapshyn’s identity when they presented CCTV images of him at Delcam’s offices on July 18.

Lapshyn was arrested the same day in connection with the Walsall bomb and immediately admitted to the attack.

During his questioning he also informed police that he had been behind the Tipton bombing and the mystery explosion in Wolverhampton.

Subsequent searches of his room and computer revealed material linking him to the murder of Mr Saleem.

When confronted with this evidence on July 20, Lapshyn admitted killing the grandfather and was charged with his murder.

He first appeared at the Old Bailey on July 25 and was remanded in custody

Lapshyn came to the UK after winning third place in a competition for a work placement at Delcam, where colleagues described him as a “loner”.

He had been awarded a Master’s degree with honours from Ukraine’s Natural Metallurgical Academy in 2010 before starting his PhD.

He then won the scholarship to come to the UK in 2011 but it is not known if he started planning his attacks before arriving.

West Midland Police are working closely with their Ukrainian counterparts to build up a picture of Lapshyn’s life before he came to Britain.

Lapshyn will be sentenced on Friday and can expect a life sentence.

 

Power plant deal leaves the UK handing £90bn to France and paying DOUBLE the going price of electricity for 35 years

By Jon Rees, Financial Mail On Sunday

PUBLISHED: 22:26, 19 October 2013 | UPDATED: 08:34, 21 October 2013

President Francois Hollande will be rubbing his hands with glee this week when the British Government is expected to sign a deal on nuclear power that could funnel £90billion into French coffers.

The agreement with French state-owned EDF Energy will create a price the Government guarantees will be paid for the electricity generated. This is likely to provoke fury as it is twice the market level.

Osborne last week announced plans to allow Chinese firms to take a minority stake in Britain’s nuclear power industry. But remarkably, even after that announcement, the Department of Energy issued a terse statement saying the exact terms of the deal with EDF were ‘still being negotiated’.

 
Nuclear power deal: The agreement with EDF could see electricity prices doubling

Nuclear power deal: The agreement with EDF could see electricity prices doubling

The Government appeared to have made promises to the Chinese before agreeing the guaranteed price with the French, though it refused to comment on its apparent blunder.

Critics say the Government found itself ‘over a barrel’, with the French and Chinese the only bidders left offering to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset – the first in the UK since 1995 – at a price of £14billion.

With the inflation-linked price per megawatt hour likely to be about £90, many are questioning whether this is too much or simply what Britain must pay to keep the lights on and meet environmental targets.

A spokesman for the Energy Intensive Users Group, representing big business users of electricity, said: ‘Major industry needs security of supply and nuclear power can give us that – but not at any price.

‘This deal will cost the consumer more than coal and gas would, but as we decarbonise it is vital that nuclear is part of the mix. Renewable energy, like wind power, is just not reliable enough.

‘Nuclear is not going to come cheap, but it is secure and that is what big users need.

‘Given that we have lost control of our energy industry it is far better that this project is going ahead than not.’

 
Invitation: George Osborne has opened the door for China to enter the UK power market

Invitation: George Osborne has opened the door for China to enter the UK power market

China has even been told it may be allowed to operate nuclear power plants in the UK on its own in the future. Angela Knight, chief executive of the energy companies’ trade body Energy UK said: ‘Energy is a global business and the massive sums needed mean we must attract multi-national investment.’

The £90 per megawatt hour will be guaranteed to EDF through customers’ bills no matter what happens to prices in the wholesale energy market. Offshore wind power has a higher price, at £155 per megawatt hour, but that will last only 15 years.

EDF will make an estimated £90billion over the length of the contract, which is likely to be 35 years, almost as much as the £110billion that the Government estimates is needed to invest in the UK energy market over the next decade. It is a far cry from the £80 per megawatt hour the Treasury was apparently seeking originally.

The Government strongly denies that it is a subsidy. If it were, the whole deal could fall foul of European Union rules against state aid.

Current guidelines do not explicitly exclude nuclear power from receiving state aid and the EU declined to comment on the deal, since it has yet to be signed, but there has never been a test case on the issue so Britain’s would be the first.

Germany, which abandoned its nuclear power programmes after the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011, is expected to raise questions about what it may regard as a UK subsidy.

The guaranteed price has been at the crux of tortuous negotiations between the Government and EDF for months.

But as coal-fired power stations are forced to close to meet EU climate-change rules, the UK’s spare capacity in the electricity market is predicted by the National Grid to be as low as 5 per cent this winter, which compares badly with an average of about 15 per cent in America.

Green energy schemes are not able to take up the slack and any doubt over the provision of nuclear power would throw the energy industry into chaos.

Upset over U.S. fiscal crisis, China urges a ‘de-Americanized world’

Bloomberg¿s David Ingles reports on China criticizing the U.S. over the political deadlock, calling for a new reserve currency. He speaks to Susan Li on Bloomberg Television¿s ¿First Up.¿

By Jim PuzzangheraOctober 14, 2013, 6:43 a.m.

WASHINGTON — Upset that the fiscal stalemate in Washington is threatening the global economy, China called for the U.S. dollar to be replaced as the international reserve currency as well as for broader steps to create a “de-Americanized world.”

China also called for an end to the “pernicious impasse” in the U.S. over the raising the debt limit and ending the partial government shutdown, saying the world needed another reserve currency so nations could protect themselves “from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil in the United States.”

Most countries hold their foreign exchange reserves in U.S. dollars because the currency is viewed as the world’s most stable. China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, with about $1.3 trillion in Treasury bonds, and is concerned about the impact of a U.S. failure to raise the debt limit on those holdings.

With Washington politicians still far from a deal as the Thursday deadline for raising the $16.7-trillion debt limit looms, China’s official state-run news agency published a sharply worded editorial Sunday criticizing U.S. leadership.

QUIZ: Test your knowledge about the debt limit

“As U.S. politicians of both political parties are still shuffling back and forth between the White House and the Capitol Hill without striking a viable deal to bring normality to the body politic they brag about, it is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world,” the Xinhua news agency said in an English-language commentary.

China’s concerns echo those of economic officials around the world about the effects of a failure to raise the U.S. debt limit, which could trigger the federal government’s first-ever widespread default.

Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that global finance ministers are worried the uncertainty surrounding a U.S. default “would mean massive disruption the world over, and we would be at risk of tipping yet again into a recession.”

The Xinhua editorial took swipes at the U.S. for claiming “the moral high ground” while “covertly doing things that are as audacious as torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks, and spying on world leaders.”

While slamming the U.S. for the Iraq war and military activity around the world, the article focused much of its fire on the U.S. role in the global economy, saying “the world is still crawling its way out of an economic disaster thanks to the voracious Wall Street elites.”

“Most recently, the cyclical stagnation in Washington for a viable bipartisan solution over a federal budget and an approval for raising debt ceiling has again left many nations’ tremendous dollar assets in jeopardy and the international community highly agonized,” Xinhua said.

Xinhua called for a “a new world order” in which “all nations, big or small, poor or rich, can have their key interests respected and protected on an equal footing.”

That new order should start with respect for the sovereignty of other nations, the editorial said. It also should include major financial reforms, such as allowing developing and emerging economies to have more say in the operations of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, it said.

The Mystery of Earth’s Oxygen

Posted: October 13, 2013 in News, Science

The Mystery of Earth’s Oxygen

 

Tim Robinson
By CARL ZIMMER

To Donald E. Canfield, there’s something astonishing in every breath we take. “People take oxygen for granted because it’s just there and we breathe it all the time,” said Dr. Canfield, a geochemist at the University of Southern Denmark. “But we have the only planet we know of anywhere that has oxygen on it.”

A mat of blue-green algae in China. Cyanobacteria like this were some of the first organisms on Earth to produce oxygen as a waste product of photosynthesis.

What’s even more astonishing is that the earth started out with an oxygen-free atmosphere. It took billions of years before there was enough of it to keep animals like us alive.

Although scientists have been struggling for decades to reconstruct the rise of oxygen, they’re still making fundamental discoveries. In just the past two weeks, for example, Dr. Canfield and his colleagues have published a pair of studies that provide significant clues about some of the most important chapters in oxygen’s history. They’re finding that our weirdly oxygen-rich atmosphere is the result of a complicated dance of geology and biology.

To study the ancient atmosphere, geochemists examine the chemical fingerprints left behind on rocks. Some rocks contain molecules that could have formed only in the presence of oxygen. The more of those molecules geochemists find in a rock, the more oxygen must have been in the atmosphere at the time.

When they look at the oldest rocks on earth, they find no trace of oxygen in the atmosphere. Instead, their research indicates that earth’s primordial air was made up mostly of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen. The sun’s rays created some free oxygen by splitting it off from carbon dioxide and other molecules. But the oxygen disappeared almost as soon as it was formed.

That’s because oxygen is an enormously friendly element, forming bonds with a wide range of molecules. It attached to the iron in rocks, for example, creating rust. It joined with hydrogen spewed out from volcanoes to form hydrogen peroxide and other compounds. Our planet, in other words, was a giant oxygen vacuum in its early years.

That changed about three billion years ago. In the Sept. 26 issue of Nature, Dr. Canfield and his colleagues reported the fingerprints of oxygen in rocks from that time period. They estimate that the atmosphere three billion years ago had only 0.03 percent of today’s oxygen levels. That may not sound like much, but it marked a huge shift in the earth’s chemistry.

Sunlight alone couldn’t have put that much oxygen in the atmosphere. Only life could.

By three billion years ago, some microbes had evolved the ability to carry out photosynthesis. Floating at the surface of the ocean, they used energy from sunlight to grow on carbon dioxide and water. They gave off oxygen as waste.

Much of the oxygen released by these photosynthetic microbes was sucked out of the atmosphere by the earth’s vacuum. When microbes died, oxygen reacted with their carbon.

But a tiny amount of oxygen remained behind because some of the organic matter from the dead microbes sank from the surface of the ocean to the sea floor, where oxygen couldn’t react with it. The oxygen remained in the air.

Oxygen remained fairly scarce for the next few hundred million years. But during that time, the earth’s vacuum was getting weak. The planet was cooling, and so its volcanoes spewed less hydrogen into the atmosphere to suck up oxygen.

In his forthcoming book, “Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History,” Dr. Canfield suggests that this weak vacuum drove a sudden climb in oxygen that geochemists see in rocks from about 2.3 billion years ago. “Now we get to the point where the earth has calmed down enough that the balance has tipped in the favor of oxygen,” he said.

This oxygen boom may have added fuel to life’s fire. The extra oxygen in the atmosphere attacked rocks exposed on land, freeing up phosphorus and iron to flow into the ocean to act as fertilizer. The microbes bloomed even more, sending up even more oxygen.

Reporting last week in The Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, Dr. Canfield and his colleagues report that there was so much oxygen in the atmosphere that it penetrated down a thousand feet into the ocean. Dr. Canfield speculates that oxygen may have become as abundant as it is today, at least for a while.

But this boom created its own bust. Microbes rained down onto the sea floor, creating carbon-rich rocks. Later, the rocks were lifted up to form dry land, where they could react with the oxygen, pulling it out of the atmosphere.

Life itself, in other words, turned earth’s vacuum back up again. By 2 billion years ago, oxygen levels were down to about 0.01 percent of current levels.

Life and earth have continued to twiddle the oxygen knob over the past two billion years. When plants evolved, for example, they began storing huge amounts of carbon in wood and other tough tissues, leaving less to react with oxygen and pull it out of the atmosphere. By 300 million years ago, oxygen had risen to levels as high as 50 percent higher than today.

But as continents moved across the globe, the planet’s geography came to favor deserts. Forests shrank, bringing down the oxygen levels.

As Dr. Canfield gets better acquainted with the tumultuous history, he gets less certain about its future. Will the earth hold on to its remarkable supply of oxygen, or will it run low again? “I’m not sure we have a good prediction,” Dr. Canfield said. “That depends a lot on the vagaries of geography.”