Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bird flu outbreak in Iowa

Many of the 3.8 million egg-laying hens in an Iowa flock probably have bird flu as the biggest single outbreak of the virus reported in the U.S. added to concerns that turkey and egg supplies will be hampered by the disease.

“Despite best efforts, we now confirm many of our birds are testing positive” for avian influenza, closely held Sonstegard Foods Co. said in a statement dated April 20. The company said its Sunrise Farms unit close to Harris, Iowa, in Osceola County has 3.8 million hens. (Bloomberg)
It is scary to contemplate that millions of live stocks can be wiped out by a single strain of virus. But this is a direct consequence of industrial farming. This type of industrialization is very profitable and can scale to meet demand of consumers however they are also very fragile.

We need to introduce more resilience into our system and society. We are facing more and more of environmental consequences of our actions.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Cool cities in Europe to check out this summer

Where else can you find a vegan kebab shop? A refuge for disenchanted Berliners, Leipzig has risen from its industrial past thanks to a new generation of young creatives looking for a cheap, fun and urban place to pitch up in. This May, the Spinnerei Galerien celebrates 10 years since this vast former cotton mill was converted into an art studio complex – it’s just one of many contemporary art spaces in the city that now includes the likes of Kaufhaus Held, a department store repurposed into a creative venue in 2013. Meanwhile, the nightlife scene spans from hip, cheap pubs and bars to the legendary Distillery – one of Germany’s oldest techno clubs. (Guardian)
This is an awesome list. I have been only to one of the 10 cities they listed here. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The earth opened up in Siberia

Scientists are baffled by the phenomena of large craters appearing in Siberia

 Until now, only three large craters were known about in northern Russia with several scientific sources speculating last year that heating from above the surface due to unusually warm climatic conditions, and from below, due to geological fault lines, led to a huge release of gas hydrates, so causing the formation of these craters in Arctic regions.(Siberian Times

Friday, February 27, 2015

Egypt is a petri dish of terrorism innovation

A wave of explosions killed a passer-by and wounded at least nine other people early Thursday morning across the Nile from Cairo, raising alarms about a pattern of attacks by diffuse groups against retail stores.

An obscure group calling itself the Popular Resistance Movement claimed responsibility. Six bombs exploded on main arteries of the Giza district in what appeared to have been a well-coordinated attack. The ability to carry out the attacks highlighted the growing threat posed by such previously unknown outfits cropping up in Cairo and around the Nile Valley. NY Times

For those of us who live in Cairo, the waves of small scale attacks against Egypt's security apparatus in the past 18 months have been sideshow. Life continued normally. We take comfort that the majority of the casualties belong to the state. We, the civilian, can live our life normally in most parts. You have to be so unlucky to be a victim of these attacks as civilians.

Yesterdays' attack Cairo yesterday changed this equation.

Four mobile phone shops were attacked almost at the same time in a business district of Cairo. They fortunately did not produce any death casualties although we don't really know about the extent of the victims' injuries.

Another attack happened in a pizzeria in a working class enclave, which killed one worker of the place.

You can see the theme of the mobile phone shops attacks because they represent international brand (Vodafone (UK)/Etisalat (UAE)). However, a small pizzeria in a working class neighborhood really does not represent anything.

The various militant groups have always tried to maintain some sort of 'good relation' with the local populace by targeting just the security apparatus. It does not seem that the populace is returning the favor.

The massive support for Egyptian's Air Force retaliation over 21 beheaded Egyptian Coptic Christians also indicates that the majority of Egyptians are against the ideology that many of these militant groups subscribe to. The various militants group might have decided that their 'restraints' are not working and it is time to escalate.

We are all waiting for the other shoe to drop, an attack to a supermarket chain or a local market, that produce large number of casualties.

If this happens in the near future, then you can point back to yesterday's attack as a turning point.

CITIZENFOUR, the Oscar winning documentary about Edward Snowden is available online for free

The movie is available online as public domain as unsealed record as part of a lawsuit. You can have access to it here (German) 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The risk of ISIS invasion to Europe

Whether the time is right or not, there is no question that there is a palpable tension in Italy over the ISIS threat—Libya is just 109 miles away from the island of Lampedusa and 300 miles from Sicily—made worse by a 64 percent increase in illegal migrant arrivals by sea since last year. In all of 2014, more than 170,000 people arrived from Libya and Turkey, the highest number ever recorded. Last weekend, as the embassy staff made their way to Italy on a mercantile ship, 2,164 migrants left the same Libyan shores en route to Sicily. The week before, more than 300 people were lost in the same seas as their rickety fishing boats capsized before rescuers could save them. The Daily Beast

Some security related news is simply fear mongering without any basis on realistic assessment of reality. This news piece is not

UNHCR reported that more than 87,000 people landed in Italy in the first 7 months of 2014, primarily on the island of Lampedusa.

The Italian government knows that Lampedusa is a vulnerable place on the face of chaos and growing regional security threat from Libya. IS knows that Lampedusa is a soft target.

Libya has plenty of people traffickers and smugglers that do numerous boat launches full of African and Middle East war refugees to Europe. It is quite simple to do a militarized version of these boat launches. A dozen guys with RPGs and rifles can do a lot of damage against local population in a small island far away from the mainland Italy.

I have much sympathy for Italy in trying to deal with the migrant influx to its shore because they have not had enough support from EU. The rapidly growing lawlessness in Libya makes their job even harder.