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by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 12:44:25 PM EST
IPS - Reviving Family Farming in Angola, Carrot by Carrot | Inter Press Service

CAPANDA, Angola, Dec 28 2012 (IPS) - "We never used to eat carrots, but now we like them," said Rebeca Soba, admiring her vegetable garden, an island of diversity in the midst of a vast sugarcane plantation.

Vegetable gardening has been introduced at the Capanda Agroindustrial Pole (PAC) as a source of income for local small farmers.

The vegetable gardens are part of a social programme, Kulonga pala Kukula ("education for development" in Kimbundu, the local African language), which also includes actions to promote health, water availability and education.

Women and a few men plant a variety of seeds brought from Brazil in 10 villages close to the Capanda hydroelectric plant, 360 kilometres from Luanda.

Some species were unknown to the local population, like parsley and arugula, which they cook rather than eat in salads. "It's very bitter," said Soba, a 45-year-old mother of five, who is one of the leaders of the agriculture programme for small farmers.

She and her group grow cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, kale and other vegetables on low-lying land that is too wet to be suitable for sugarcane.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 03:07:37 PM EST
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Oil and natural gas exploration in East Africa - The Ecologist
The disconnect between what oil and petrol companies say is happening in East Africa and what global bodies, international NGOs, academics, activists and ecologists say is going on should worry us all, writes Thembi Mutch

We've already done a great deal of damage, and appear to have learnt little. A recent (October 2010) UNEP report, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), put the damage done to the natural world by human activity in 2008 at between US$2 trillion (£1.3 trillion) and US$4.5 trillion (£3 trillion).

It's really important we don't screw up in East Africa, and it's vital we draw attention to the people and organisations who are pushing the agenda in the right direction. We cannot go on wilfully ignoring the voices - whether of the UN, the IUCN, activists against Canadian tar sands and in the Niger Delta, Ghana and Angola who have to some extent seen it all before, or of informed academics - who are seriously sounding the alarm.

This is not an oblique problem: how oil and natural gas are extracted in Africa has direct impacts on our lives.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 03:37:39 PM EST
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US Navy sailors sue Japan's TEPCO over radiation

Eight US Navy sailors are suing Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) for hundreds of millions of dollars over allegations the Japanese firm lied to them about radiation dangers after a tsunami-triggered meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The sailors accuse TEPCO of deceiving their commanders about radiation levels as the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan took part in relief operations following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, according to a complaint filed in US federal court in southern California.

The devastating tsunami swamped cooling systems at the Fukushima plant, sending reactors into meltdown and spewing radiation over a large area.

TEPCO and the Japanese government "kept representing that there was no danger of radiation contamination to the USS Reagan and/or its crew, that 'everything is under control, all is OK, you can trust us,'" the sailors' lawyers wrote.

Japanese officials insisted there was "'no immediate danger' or threat to human life, all the while lying through their teeth about the reactor meltdowns" at Fukushima, it said.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 03:39:52 PM EST
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Fukushima operator boosts compensation estimate

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant on Thursday sought yet more money to pay ballooning bills for compensating victims of last year's disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said it had newly estimated the compensation costs at 3.24 trillion yen ($38 billion), up 697 billion yen from its last calculation in March.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 03:44:13 PM EST
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China sets first-half rare earth export quota for 2013

China on Friday announced its export quota for rare earth resources for the first half of next year amid declining prices and weak demand in the global market.

China produces more than 95 percent of the world's rare earths, 17 elements critical to manufacturing everything from iPads to low-emission cars.

The country has set production caps and export quotas on rare earths, saying it aims to protect resources and the environment in an effort to promote sustainable development.

But China's control over the sought-after resources has sparked a dispute with major trading partners.

The government will initially allow exports of 15,501 tonnes of the resources in the first six months of 2013, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 03:43:42 PM EST
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2MW vertical axis prototype under construction | Windpower Monthly
FRANCE: The world's largest vertical axis turbine is set to enter its first trial stage next month as part of the 2MW Vertiwind floating offshore turbine project.

The 2MW Vertiwind project is being led by Lille-based designer Nenuphar, Technip and EDF EN, and has been underway since January last year when a 35kW prototype was launched.

Nenuphar founder Charles Smadja said the company was planning to test the turbine in three stages. The first one, in January, would be on the generator and electrical systems which will be housed in the tower.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 03:48:00 PM EST
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Increased calls for German Energy Ministry - The Local
More and more politicians are calling on the German government to establish an Energy Ministry after the next election, in the face of slow progress in the country's transition to renewable power sources.

"The significance of energy policy for our country would justify this step in my opinion," said Gerda Hasselfeldt, regional head of the Bavarian Christian Social Union.

The European Union's energy commissioner Günther Oettinger chimed in with the call, pointing out that other EU members already had their own energy ministry.

Oettinger added that Germany had suffered in the past from not being able to assert itself quickly and strongly enough in Brussels when it came to important energy issues.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2012 at 03:50:42 PM EST
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BBC News - Wind power deadline sees US firms rush to build turbines

US energy companies are racing to install wind turbines before a federal tax credit expires at the end of this year.

Experts say that wind power has exceeded the construction of natural gas plants in recent months.

However the financial incentive for wind could be lost as congress struggles to avoid financial deadlock.

Even if the credit is extended it is expected that new installations will decline in 2013.

According to industry analysts, the federal government's production tax credit has played an important role in the expansion of wind energy across the US since it was first introduced in 1992.

At that point there was less than 1.5 gigawatts of power generating capacity provided by wind across the country. That figure has grown dramatically. This year has seen around 12 gigawatts of wind power capacity installed, outpacing even natural gas projects which have boomed on the back of cheap shale.

The government subsidy works out at 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour of power produced over ten years. This amounts to around $1m (£620,000) for every large turbine. However the deadline is absolute - to get the money the blades on new installations must be turning and generating power before the 31st of December.

"There's a lot of rushing right now to get projects completed by the end of the year," says Rob Gramlich, senior vice president at the American Wind Energy Association.

"It is not a great way to run a business with this policy-induced uncertainty."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2013 at 01:06:24 PM EST
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