Monday, April 23, 2012

UNHRC to Investigate plight of US Native Americans

 I guess there are some in Sri Lanka who will be happy to hear this. from the Guardian via finance blog Naked Capitalism
The UN human rights inquiry will focus on the living conditions of the 2.7 million Native Americans living in the US

The human rights inquiry led by James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples, is scheduled to begin on Monday.

Many of the country's estimated 2.7 million Native Americans live in federally recognised tribal areas which are plagued with unemployment, alcoholism, high suicide rates, incest and other social problems.

The UN mission is potentially contentious, with some US conservatives likely to object to international interference in domestic matters. Since being appointed as rapporteur in 2008, Anaya has focused on natives of Central and South America.

A UN statement said: "This will be the first mission to the US by an independent expert designated by the UN human rights council to report on the rights of the indigenous peoples."

Anaya, a University of Arizona professor of human rights, said: "I will examine the situation of the American Indian/Native American, Alaska Native and Hawaiian peoples against the background of the United States' endorsement of the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples."

The US signed up in 2010 to the declaration, which establishes minimum basic rights for indigenous people globally.

Anaya said: "My visit aims at assessing how the standards of the declaration are reflected in US law and policy, and identifying needed reforms and good practices."

Apart from social issues, US Native Americans are involved in near continuous disputes over sovereignty and land rights. Although they were given power over large areas, most of it in the west, their rights are repeatedly challenged by state governments.

Most Americans have little contact with those living in the 500-plus tribal areas, except as tourists on trips to casinos allowed on land outside federal jurisdiction or to view spectacular landscapes.

Anaya is originally from New Mexico and is well versed in Native American issues.

He will visit Washington DC, Arizona, Alaska, Oregon, Oklahoma and South Dakota, and will conclude his trip with a press conference on 4 May. He will present his findings to the next session of the UN human rights council.

Anaya's past record shows a deep sympathy with Native Americans' plight. In one development dispute, he told the council that the desecration of sacred sites was an urgent human rights issue.

The Tucson Sentinel reported in 2011 that he had testified to Congress on the need for the US to pass legislation that abides by the declaration.

Also in 2011, he wrote to the Canadian government requesting information about the poor living conditions of aboriginal groups in the country.

Disable your Cell Phone if Stolen: IMEI Number

*#06# into Keypad to get IMEI number.  If phone gets lost or stolen the phone let the company know IMEI number. Does Dialog Mobitel etc support "blacklist IMEI number" of lost phone.

The International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI  is a number, usually unique,[1][2] to identify GSM, WCDMA, and iDEN mobile phones, as well as some satellite phones. It is usually found printed inside the battery compartment of the phone. It can also be displayed on the screen of the phone by entering *#06# into the keypad on most phones.

The IMEI number is used by the GSM network to identify valid devices and therefore can be used for stopping a stolen phone from accessing the network in that country. For example, if a mobile phone is stolen, the owner can call his or her network provider and instruct them to "blacklist" the phone using its IMEI number. This renders the phone useless on that network and sometimes other networks too, whether or not the phone's SIM is changed.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

'Eggless' chick laid by hen in Sri Lanka

from the BBC via finance blog Naked Capitalism

Only in Sri Lanka
A Sri Lanka hen has given birth to a chick without an egg, in a new twist on the age-old question of whether the chicken or the egg came first. Instead of passing out of the hen's body and being incubated outside, the egg was incubated in the hen for 21 days and then hatched inside the hen.
The chick is fully formed and healthy, although the mother has died.
The government veterinary officer in the area said he had never seen anything like it before.
PR Yapa, the chief veterinary officer of Welimada, where it took place, examined the hen's carcass.
He found that the fertilised egg had developed within the hen's reproductive system, but stayed inside the hen's body until it hatched.
A post-mortem conducted on the hen's body concluded that it died of internal wounds.
The BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says that the story has made headlines in Sri Lanka, with the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror's concluding: "The chicken came first; not the egg."

Friday, April 20, 2012

Agni Putri: Tessy Thomas Project Director of the Agni-V missile

Tessy Thomas is the first woman scientist to head a missile project in India. An expert of solid system propellants which is used in Agni missile, Dr. Tessy Thomas earlier has worked as Assistant Project Director in the successful launch of India's longest range nuclear capable Agni III Inter Ballistic missile

The tranquil backwaters of Alappuzha, advertised as the perfect setting to lazily watch houseboats that glide past, is the home town of DRDO project director Tessy Thomas, who guided a team of scientists to successfully test Agni-V, the fiercest weapon in India's armour.

Other Indian Nuclear Program Notables
Excerpt from IndiaTimes
A rare woman in a male bastion, the 48-year-old was hooked on to science and mathematics from school days, especially wonder-struck at the rocket launches from Thumba on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram.

"The world of missiles opened up for me after I happened to be picked as one of 10 youngsters from around the country for a DRDO programme in 1985," Thomas told ET in a telephone interview, while awaiting a flight from Bhubaneswar after being the toast of the nation earlier in the day.

Right after she landed in DRDO, everything just happened, she says. And that includes a stint as faculty for guided missiles for DRDO in Pune, and having former President APJ Abdul Kalam as her director.

Her own career went ballistic, when she headed the Agni-IV team as project director for vehicles and mission, and was project director (mission) for the more sophisticated Agni V launch.

What does she have to say about a country which has women defence mission directors and, at the same time, rampant female infanticide? "Science shows no gender discrimination, and in that sense offers hope to a society where discrimination is practised.

Here in DRDO, we have a good example of a number of women scientists, who try and balance work and family," she says. Her husband Saroj Kumar Patel is a naval officer based in Mumbai, and son Tejas - named after India's light combat jet - is completing his engineering in Vellore.

Thomas would ideally like to unwind with a game of badminton and some cooking, but "that hasn't happened over the past two years", thanks to the latest editions of the Agni missile programme.

Now that Agni-V has been successfully test launched, would she care more for the trajectory of the shuttle cock? "Well, I now have my sights on the multiple independent re-entry vehicle," says the multi-tasking scientist.

Back home in Alappuzha, where her mother stays, the land phone rings incessantly after Tessy Thomas' contribution to India's pride at Wheeler Island. Yet, she may not get time to relax and have a backwater cruise one of these days.

Bob Marleys father

Norval Sinclair Marley was Robert Nesta "Bob" Marley's father. Norval Marley was born in Jamaica to Albert Thomas Marley, an English man from Sussex, and Ellen Broomfield a coloured Jamaican. The Marleys considered themselves as descendants of Syrian Jews who had emigrated to England and from there to Jamaica.

Norval Marley in his later life was an overseer in Jamaican plantations. One of his lovers was 18-year-old gospel singer Cedella Booker. Their son, Robert Nesta Marley, was born in 1945 and spent his formative years living in considerable poverty in the slums of Jamaica. Norval Marley did not stay long after Bob Marley but gave some financial support. When Bob Marley was 28 and his mother 28 Norval Marley died. Mother and son then moved to Kingston and settled in a corrugated-iron shack in a street with open sewers in the Trenchtown area, one of the roughest parts of the capital.

Excerpts from the Daily Mail Article
In the Kingston slums, Marley was confronted in the starkest terms with the reality of his mixed parentage.
He was taunted mercilessly by his peers for standing out from the crowd. Indeed, he longed so much to fit in that, as his 65-year-old widow Rita has recently revealed, he used to black his face with boot polish. She says he even married her when he was 21 and she 19 —because, unlike him, she was completely black.
But family and friends, speaking out for the first time in the new film, reveal that because Bob was so single-minded about his career those close to him were often neglected.
His daughter Cedella, named after Bob’s mother, seems during conversations in the film to be quite bewildered at having to share her father with so many fans across the globe — not to mention his ten other children, many of them  illegitimate and the result of the many affairs he conducted during his marriage.
Marley had at least seven mistresses, including 1976 Jamaican Miss World Cindy Breakspeare.
The women themselves say he was so shy that they made all the  running. Several even fell pregnant by him at the same time: this year, three of his sons by different women will all turn 40.
His daughter Cedella is 44, a successful businesswoman with three children who lives in Miami.

Eating Meat helped Humans have a shorter Breast Feeding period

New research appears to explain that eating meat was why humans breast feed less than great apes.
Below excerpt from the  Daily Mail
The research compared 67 species of mammals, including humans, apes, mice and killer whales, and found a clear correlation between eating meat and earlier weaning.
The research compared 67 species of mammals, including humans, apes, mice and killer whales, and found a clear correlation between eating meat and earlier weaning.
They found young of all species stop suckling when their brains have developed to a particular stage, but that carnivores reached this point more quickly than herbivores or omnivores. 
Eating meat enabled the breast-feeding periods and thereby the time between births to be shortened,' said Elia Psouni, lead author of the study. 'This must have had a crucial impact on human evolution.'
Among natural fertility societies, the average duration of breast-feeding is 2 years and 4 months. This is not much in relation to the maximum lifespan of our species, around 120 years.
It is even less if compared to our closest relatives: female chimpanzees suckle their young for 4 to 5 years, whereas the maximum lifespan for chimpanzees is only 60 years.
Below excerpts from the  Psouni, Elia et al abstract at PLoS

Our large brain, long life span and high fertility are key elements of human evolutionary success and are often thought to have evolved in interplay with tool use, carnivory and hunting. 
Crucially, carnivory predicted the time point of early weaning in humans with remarkable precision, yielding a prediction error of less than 5% with a sample of forty-six human natural fertility societies as reference. Hence, carnivory appears to provide both a necessary and sufficient explanation as to why humans wean so much earlier than the great apes.
While early weaning is regarded as essentially differentiating the genus Homo from the great apes, its timing seems to be determined by the same limited set of factors in humans as in mammals in general, despite some 90 million years of evolution.
Our analysis emphasizes the high degree of similarity of relative time scales in mammalian development and life history across 67 genera from 12 mammalian orders and shows that the impact of carnivory on time to weaning in humans is quantifiable, and critical.
Since early weaning yields shorter interbirth intervals and higher rates of reproduction, with profound effects on population dynamics, our findings highlight the emergence of carnivory as a process fundamentally determining human evolution.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ibogaine to Treat Heroin and Cocaine Addiction

Ibogaine appears to be successful in  treating Heroin, Cocaine and other Addiction.

The drug, derived from the root of a central African plant called iboga, had been used for centuries by the Bwiti people of Gabon and Cameroon, as part of a tribal initiation ceremony.  The total alkaloid extract of the Tabernanthe iboga plant, which also contains all the other iboga alkaloids and thus has only about one-fifth the potency by weight as standardized ibogaine hydrochloride.
Currently, pure crystalline ibogaine hydrochloride is the most standardized formulation. It is typically produced by the semi-synthesis from voacangine in commercial laboratories.  There is also a synthetic derivative of ibogaine, 18-methoxycoronaridine.

Excerpts from BBC Article
In 1962 a young heroin addict called Howard Lotsof took iboga to get high, but when the hallucinogenic effects wore off, he realised he no longer had the compulsion to take heroin. He became convinced that he had found the solution to addiction and dedicated much of his life to promoting ibogaine as a treatment.

Howard Lotsof's early campaign had little success and ibogaine was banned in the US, along with LSD and psilocybin mushrooms, in 1967.

They began working together and in 1995 secured full approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate its potential in humans. But these tests cost millions of dollars, and Mash applied for five separate public grants but each one was declined.

Usually, this money would come from big pharmaceutical companies but drugs like ibogaine offer little potential for profit. It only has to be taken once, unlike conventional treatments for heroin addiction such as methadone which is a substitute and addictive itself.

"One very cynical reason they are not being developed is that there is no patent on these drugs anymore so there is no pharmaceutical company involvement," says Ben Sessa.
Pharmaceutical companies make money by patenting new chemicals but ibogaine is a naturally occurring substance and is difficult to secure a patent on.

Awesome photo of Lightning Strike

This was a photo caught by Phil McGrew from his office window in San Francisco.  The camera lens was was set up to a long exposure and as he says "I shot this from my office window because I was too chicken to get my new camera wet (or worse)".

Phil says on Flickr, "This shot has been on my list since moving to San Francisco. Unfortunately, I've only seen lightning 3 times in the 2 years I've lived here. Tonight, I got lightning in 3 separate 20 second exposures. This is a single exposure."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Porn Bigger Than CNN

Sunny Leone Indian Porn Star
Xvideos, the largest porn site on the web with 4.4 billion page views per month, is three times the size of CNN or ESPN, and twice the size of Reddit. LiveJasmin isn’t much smaller. YouPorn, Tube8, and Pornhub — they’re all vast, vast sites that dwarf almost everything except the Googles and Facebooks of the internet.

Four billion page views sure sounds like a lot, but it’s only when you factor in what those porn surfers are actually doing that the size and scale of adult websites truly comes into focus.

For a news site like Engadget or ExtremeTech, an average visit is usually between three and six minutes; enough time to read one or two stories. The average time spent on a porn site, however, is between 15 and 20 minutes.

To put that 800Gbps figure into perspective, the internet only handles around half an exabyte of traffic every day, which equates to around 50Tbps — in other words, a single porn site accounts for almost 2% of the internet’s total traffic.

Via Naked Capitalism to how big are porn sites

Best Wishes for Sri Lankan New Year

Best wishes for the Sri Lankan New Year, Not Sinhala/Tamil New Year.
Like Chinese New Year, not Hakka or Cantonese New Year.
The YouTube below is from Sunil Shantha singing in Sinhalese and beautiful art work.
Wish I knew enough Tamil  to pick an equivalent.

My young years from age 5 to 12 were growing up in Koralaewella (98 Vinitha), Moratuwa.  My father ( a Tamil)  built three Swings on the trees in the garden.  The easy swing was wide and the top end of swing 5 feet off the ground, that held three kids. The top of the best swing was 12 feet off the ground, and my sisters and me  could get it to a good sixty degrees off the ground. Then how many Colombo School students knew how to get swing moving without a push and getting it moving to sixty degrees off the ground. It was much more "cool" to know how to play cricket or rugby even then.

How many Colombo (Kandy, Galle etc) school boys or girls wanted to be Avurudu Kumara/Kumari even in the 70's  Among the Diaspora Sinhalese or Tamil, its only recent immigrants who want their children to compete in the local Avurudu Kumari.  As a good friend said  "There was a time that rural people of Sri Lanka were conservative enough to keep the beauty of the village and village life intact.  We lost this little by little, but still could find a remote village to go to and enjoy the village life even in the 80's".

Just as much as my friend , I too have lived many years in other countries and we would love to see  the "old ways".  Maybe we should emulate  "the colonial masters, English in particular, who go to great pains to preserve their country side".  
Simple things, beautiful life which we are loosing.

Other  Avurudu videos

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Indian Man Plants 1,360 Acre Forest over 30 years

Maybe we all should do something like this even if its 10 perch plot.
Jadav “Molai” Payeng started his project 30 years ago when he was still a teenager. Then, in 1979, flood waters washed a large number of snakes ashore on the local sandbar in Jorhat, some 350 km from Guwahati. When the waters receded, Payneg (who was 16 at the time) noticed the reptiles had died due to a lack of forestry.
“The snakes died in the heat, without any tree cover. I sat down and wept over their lifeless forms. It was carnage. I alerted the forest department and asked them if they could grow trees there. They said nothing would grow there. Instead, they asked me to try growing bamboo. It was painful, but I did it. There was nobody to help me. Nobody was interested,” said Payeng, who is now 47, to the The Times of India.
Payeng chose to live on the sandbar, starting a life of isolation as he began work to create a new forest. Planting the seeds by hand, watering the plants in the morning and evening, and pruning them when required, he cultivated a huge natural reserve. After a few years, the sandbar was transformed into a bamboo thicket.
“I then decided to grow proper trees. I collected and planted them. I also transported red ants from my village, and was stung many times. Red ants change the soil’s properties . That was an experience,” Payeng recalled.
Over the years, the reserve has seen a huge variety of flora and fauna blossom on the sandbar, including endangered animals like the one-horned rhino and Royal Bengal tiger. “After 12 years, we’ve seen vultures. Migratory birds, too, have started flocking here. Deer and cattle have attracted predators,” claims Payeng . Unfortunately, locals reportedly killed a rhino which was seen in his forest, something that Payeng clearly disapproves of.  ”Nature has made a food chain; why can’t we stick to it? Who would protect these animals if we, as superior beings, start hunting them?”
Read more: Indian Man Single-Handedly Plants 1,360 Acre Forest | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Marriage and fatherhood have both been shown to decrease testosterone levels

Excerpt of an Article in Zero Hedge (a Financial blog)

Newsweek reported in 2009:
Monkeys that see sexually active females register as much as a 400 percent jump in testosterone (nature’s own performance-enhancing drug) promoting lean muscle and quick recovery times, according to the Yerkes Center for Primate Research at Emory University. In humans, German researchershave found that just having an erection is enough to spur testosterone levels. it makes no difference whether a man is watching sex on a screen or having it in real life, his testosterone levels will go up. Just having an erection, in fact, is enough to spur production.

Such findings, along with work that shows family life to be a drain on testosterone levels, prompted Rutgers University sex researcher Helen Fisher to advise this month that males in the “captivity situation”-her term for married with kids-”go on the Internet and look at porn” as a kind of hormone-replacement therapy. “[Porn] drives up dopamine levels, which drives up your testosterone,” she tells NEWSWEEK, while kissing your wife or hugging your kids drives it down.
Indeed, marriage and fatherhood have both been shown to decrease testosterone levels.

Other stuff to Boost Testosterone Levels.

Monday, April 2, 2012

US Supreme Court: Strip-Searches for Any Offense

Wonder how this can be interpreted when there is reasonable suspicion of suicide vests, grenades on dead enemy (citizen, terrorist insurgent or whatever).  David Blacker can you weigh in.

officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if the officials have no reason to suspect the presence of contraband. 
According to a supporting brief filed by the American Bar Association, international human rights treaties also ban the procedures.
A nun was strip-searched, he wrote, after an arrest for trespassing during an antiwar demonstration. So were victims of sexual assaults and women who were menstruating.
Justice Kennedy responded that “people detained for minor offenses can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals.” He noted that Timothy McVeigh, later put to death for his role in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, was first arrested for driving without a license plate. “One of the terrorists involved in the Sept. 11 attacks was stopped and ticketed for speeding just two days before hijacking Flight 93,” Justice Kennedy added.

via NY Times: