“Ten years ago I could never have imagined I’d be doing this,” says Greg Pal, 33, a former software executive, as he squints into the late afternoon Californian sun. “I mean, this is essentially agriculture, right? But the people I talk to – especially the ones coming out of business school – this is the one hot area everyone wants to get into.”

He means bugs. To be more precise: the genetic alteration of bugs – very, very small ones – so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

Unbelievably, this is not science fiction.

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I have to share this video with NowPublic to put paid to all those conspiracy theories:

9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says

but I will confess it's from The Onion.

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Great Sphinx of GizaImage via Wikipedia
Rising water tables and birds and bats attracted by water seeping up into stone, threaten the Great Sphinx and other monuments of Ancient Egypt.

Water seeping into the stone creates calcium deposits that attract more and more birds.

El Shammaa says rising humidity levels threaten the Sphinx.

CAIRO: The crowds of pigeons, doves and sparrows that have been landing regularly on several parts of the Sphinx indicate that the level of humidity is dangerously increasing within the stone structure of the statue, senior tour guide Bassam El Shammaa warned.

Visitors to the site have noticed birds settling on the statue’s head and the shaded northern part of the structure. Other birds sit in the shaded gaps that make up the Sphinx’s eyes and ears.

Besides leaving behind acidic droppings, the birds also slowly eat into the fragile stone as they pick the tiny grains of sand.

El Shammaa launched an on-line campaign last year called “Save the Sphinx!”
Daily News Egypt - Full Article: By Ahmed Maged

Will bird repellent solve the problems? Other temples throughout Egypt are also suffering damages from birds and bats. But it will not solve the problems of water damage.
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Ancient Egyptian glass jar from the New KingdomGlass Jar - New Kingdom
via Wikipedia

Daily News Egypt - Full Article: "Dying for that ancient treasure By Emad El-Sayed, June 6, 2008

Although prospecting for antiquities has been going on for several decades, recently monument trafficking in Egypt has been spreading like wildfire, with several big families in Upper Egypt in particular implicated in the illegal practice.

Dreams of striking gold and finding that long-lost treasure have made those who prospect for monuments ready to sacrifice their lives for it. That distant dream has, however, claimed the lives of thousands of youth who die in tunnels they believe will lead them to a yet undiscovered Pharaonic era tomb."

Fortunetellers, sheikhs, dreams and metal-detectors fuel the dreams of Egyptians seeking relief from the deteriorating economy.
But many have lost their lives, in tunnels, and some even under their own homes.
In the past, mostly metal was taken, now any pharaonic artifact is fair game. Over 15.000 antiquities were stolen in the last 7 years.
The Department of Retrieving Stolen Artifacts was established in 2003, and one judge called for the death penalty to deter this growing crime.
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René O'Deay

CAIRO: Pope Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Church, called for heavy security presence around the Upper Egyptian Abo Fana monastery during a phone-in on Channel 2’s El Beit Beitak show on Saturday.

The Pope also accused the Arab tribes living in the area of stealing LE 1 million worth of precious belongings from the monastery, adding that the cause of the clashes was not a land dispute.

“It was a criminal act perpetrated by criminals,” he said.

The Pope also condemned the kidnap and torture of two monks, who, the Pope alleged were asked to renounce their faith.

“The attacks began 150 meters away from the monastery, and they got closer and closer until they were next to the monastery where the monks were kidnapped and violently tortured. They were pressured to renounce their religion by spitting on the cross. When they refused, they were beaten.

They were then asked to declare the Islamic shahada [There is no God but Allah and Mohamed is his Prophet] and when they refused, they beat them again,” said the Pope.

It is a curious sign of the times that the mainstream media, which receives billions of dollars in advertising from drug companies, now finds itself in the business if misinforming Americans, trying to convince them that day is night, up is down, and nutrition is dangerous. War is peace, ignorance is strength and freedom is tyranny. It's right out of the book 1984 by George Orwell, and sadly, it has become reality with the mainstream media today.


As Oil Prices Soar, Restaurant Grease Thefts Rise - NYTimes.com: "By SUSAN SAUL, NYTimes, May 30, 2008

The bandit pulled his truck to the back of a Burger King in Northern California one afternoon last month armed with a hose and a tank. After rummaging around assorted restaurant rubbish, he dunked a tube into a smelly storage bin and, the police said, vacuumed out about 300 gallons of grease.

Nick Damianidis, an owner of Olympia Pizza and Pasta in Arlington, Wash., has had oil stolen.

The man was caught before he could slip away. In his truck, the police found 2,500 gallons of used fryer grease, indicating that the Burger King had not been his first fast-food craving of the day.

Outside Seattle, cooking oil rustling has become such a problem that the owners of the Olympia Pizza and Pasta Restaurant in Arlington, Wash., are considering using a surveillance camera to keep watch on its 50-gallon grease barrel. Nick Damianidis, an owner, said the barrel had been hit seven or eight times since last summer by siphoners who strike in the night.

“Fryer grease has become gold,” Mr. Damianidis said. “And just over a year ago, I had to pay someone to take it away.”

Much to the surprise of Mr. Damianidis and many other people, processed fryer oil, which is called yellow grease, is actually not trash. The grease is traded on the booming commodities market. Its value has increased in recent months to historic highs, driven by the even higher prices of gas and ethanol, making it an ever more popular form of biodiesel to fuel cars and trucks.

In 2000, yellow grease was trading for 7.6 cents per pound. On Thursday, its price was about 33 cents a pound, or almost $2.50 a gallon. (That would make the 2,500-gallon haul in the Burger King case worth more than $6,000.)

Biodiesel is derived by processing vegetable oil or animal fat with alcohol. It is increasingly available around the country, but it is expensive. With the right kind of conversion kit (easily found on the Internet) anyone can turn discarded cooking oil into a usable engine fuel that can burn on its own, or as a cheap additive to regular diesel.

“The last time kids broke in here they went for the alcohol,” said Mr. Damianidis, who fries chicken wings and cheese sticks. “Obviously they’re stealing oil because it’s worth something.”

“Once you put something in the trash, it’s abandoned property,” said Jon A. Jaworski, a lawyer in Houston who represents accused grease thieves. “A lot of times, it’s not theft.”

Healy Biodiesel, a company in Sedgwick, Kan., says it offers a top-quality fuel made from local cooking oils.

Ben Healy, the owner, has contracts to collect the raw grease from several franchises around town.

“One particular night not too long ago, 9 out of 15 were stolen,” he said of the grease bins. “That’s a majority of the oil and it was a big kick in the stomach.” "

The competition is fierce now that the price of diesel is skyrocketing daily.

Wow! Who'd've thought?


by The Times-Picayune, Monday June 02, 2008, 8:02 AM

For the second time this year a winning Powerball ticket has been purchased in the New Orleans area.

The latest, worth $34.1 million, was sold in Gretna. The ticket matched all the numbers in the Saturday drawing, state lottery officials said.

A second ticket sold in Belle Chasse is worth $800,000. It matched the first five numbers, but missed the Powerball. The ticket included the multiplier of four.

In January, a Powerball ticket worth $97 million was purchased at a Metairie gas station. The winner, Carl Hunter of Metairie, claimed his winnings in May. It was the largest lottery payout ever recorded in Louisiana.

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Am I the only one who can see that the figures just don't add up?

Why do they need $600 million to fix $50 million worth of damage?

Besides the total unethicalness in the first place.

Last week, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson approved a plan that will divert $600 million in congressional funds specifically earmarked for Hurricane Katrina-related low-income housing relief along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Where’s the loot going? To expand the port at Gulfport, Miss., which state officials say suffered $50 million in damage during the Category 4 storm. An uncivilized move when you consider that according to most estimates more than 30,000 people in the region are still living in FEMA trailers and mobile homes. The Rockefeller Institute of Government, during its study of the Gulf Coast region, found that, “By far, the one issue that dominates the recovery effort is housing -- that is, the lack of it. In all of the hard-hit areas -- even those where economies seem to be mending -- the problem of affordable housing continues.”

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