Cancer Leading Cause of Death in China

Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China. Chinese Ministry of Health data implicate cancer in close to a quarter of all deaths countrywide. As is common with many countries as they industrialize, the usual plagues of poverty — infectious diseases and high infant mortality — have given way to diseases more often associated with affluence, such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

While this might be expected in China’s richer cities, where bicycles are fast being traded in for cars and meat consumption is climbing, it also holds true in rural areas. In fact, reports from the countryside reveal a dangerous epidemic of “cancer villages” linked to pollution from some of the very industries propelling China’s explosive economy. By pursuing economic growth above all else, China is sacrificing the health of its people, ultimately risking future prosperity.

Lung cancer is the most common cancer in China. Deaths from this typically fatal disease have shot up nearly fivefold since the 1970s. In China’s rapidly growing cities, like Shanghai and Beijing, where particulates in the air are often four times higher than in New York City, nearly 30 percent of cancer deaths are from lung cancer.

via Cancer is now the leading cause of death in China | Grist.

Oil in Shale – New US Energy Source

Based on the industry’s plans, shale and other “tight rock” fields that now produce about half a million barrels of oil a day will produce up to three million barrels daily by 2020, according to IHS CERA, an energy research firm. Oil companies are investing an estimated $25 billion this year to drill 5,000 new oil wells in tight rock fields, according to Raoul LeBlanc, a senior director at PFC Energy, a consulting firm.

“This is very big and it’s coming on very fast,” said Daniel Yergin, the chairman of IHS CERA. “This is like adding another Venezuela or Kuwait by 2020, except these tight oil fields are in the United States.”

In the most developed shale field, the Bakken field in North Dakota, production has leaped to 400,000 barrels a day today from a trickle four years ago. Experts say it could produce as much as a million barrels a day by the end of the decade.

The Eagle Ford, where the first well was drilled only three years ago, is already producing more than 100,000 barrels a day and could reach 420,000 by 2015, almost as much as Ecuador, according to Bentek Energy, a consultancy.

via Oil in Shale Sets Off a Boom in Texas –

The US$465,000 Lexus LFA Nurburgring – the most expensive Japanese car ever

The decade long development campaign could not possibly be amortized effectively across just 500 cars – the LFA Nurburgring is a bargain, even at this price.  To which my wife, who loves a bargain, reminded me that her Birthday was coming up soon… 

via The US$465,000 Lexus LFA Nurburgring – the most expensive Japanese car ever.

Somali Pirates Still Going Strong

Twenty-five vessels and 560 people are currently being held for ransom by pirates. Continuing to expand their geographical reach, pirates are the maritime industry. Mixed opinions about how best to moderate the effects of piracy were revealed during a Wednesday session at the 2011 Breakbulk Europe Transportation Conference and Exhibition.

Dirk Steffen, Director of Consultancy for Risk Intelligence, outlined the extent of the problem, saying that one out of every five pirate attacks is successful.

Pirate tactics continue to evolve. For example, many have managed to extend the period of time during which they can attack, Steffen said. Until late last year most piracy attacks were linked directly to the monsoon season, but now there is a new tactic in that the Somali pirates are capturing large fishing vessels and using them as mother ships, which enables them to continue operating in monsoon-hit areas.

In another twist, the main “commodity” captured is now considered to be the crew rather than the vessel, Steffen said. In several cases vessels have been captured and later set adrift once the pirates had taken the crew prisoner. Continue reading “Somali Pirates Still Going Strong”

Peak Oil? Now it’s Peak Cars

Australian and world peak car ownership per capita was in 2004 and since has shown a slow decline. It marks an end to car dependence. Teenage car ownership has dropped markedly. Figures suggest a big cultural shift as well as structural change within cities. Some very large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have made it almost impossible to buy a new car. Car transport has reached a limit. Shanghai built a metro system in 10 years, which covers 80% of the city and carries 8 million passengers each day. Metros are being built in 82 Chinese cities and 14 Indian cities. Peter Newman compares the cost of constructing roads and railways and says both cost about $50million per kilometre. But rail carries 8-20 times the passengers carried by road. With the price of gasoline heading north, people are moving back into cities and not wanting to be as dependant on cars as they were. Thanks to Carlton Palmer

via Peak oil? Now it’s peak cars – Science Show – 7 May 2011.

Of Ferrari Speeding Fines and Horrific Crashes

Driver and passenger both survived

This month’s column focuses on three related points. First, I do a lot of expert-witness work, so I’m consulted on many horrifically wrecked Ferraris, which is very sobering.

I also get emails from Ferrari Internet chat groups monitoring the relatively new trend of punitive traffic fines in Europe and Canada.

Finally, because I drive most of the modern Ferraris, I’m all too aware just how staggeringly fast today’s supercars are relative to real-world speeds.

Let’s explore each of these topics, with my goals being that I testify fewer times each month, and that we see fewer owners lose their licenses and cars through ever-more Draconian laws. Continue reading “Of Ferrari Speeding Fines and Horrific Crashes”

The Secret Life of Russian Prison Tattoos

The Mark of Cain documents the fading art form and language of Russian criminal tattoos, formerly a forbidden topic in Russia. The now vanishing practice is seen as reflecting the transition of the broader Russian society. Filmed in some of Russia;s most notorious prisons, including the fabled White Swan, the interviews with prisoners, guards, and criminologists reveal the secret language of The Zone and The Code of Thieve.

The prisoners of the Stalinist Gulag, or “Zone,” as it is called, developed a complex social structure (documented as early as the 1920s) that incorporated highly symbolic tattooing as a mark of rank. The existence of these inmates at prisons and forced labor camps was treated by the state as a deeply-kept secret. In the 1990s, Russia’s prison population exploded, with overcrowding among the worst in the world. Some estimates suggest that in the last generation over thirty million of Russia’s inmates have had tattoos even though the process is illegal inside Russian prisons.

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