Gardens Growing on Tokyo Rooftops

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — About three years ago the Grand Hyatt Tokyo built an organic garden along the urban skyline, allowing the head chef to boast that some of the vegetables being consumed by his patrons had been grown right there on location by the restaurant staff.

“That was probably the first organic hotel garden in Tokyo,” comments Jon Walsh, the New Zealander who was brought in as a consultant to establish this little garden in the sky.

Walsh, who describes himself as probably being “the only native English-speaking professional urban farming consultant in Japan,” first established his company Business Grow in 2002. At first, it was simply a boutique corporate communications company, but for most of the past decade he has shifted its focus to urban farming.

Recently, he says, the business is “going skyward.”

For Walsh, the rising popularity of urban farming is really a no-brainer. It can bring multiple benefits to Japan, including the improvement of the nation’s low food self-sufficiency rate, as well as climate change benefits such as the reduction of heat usage through better insulation and less need to truck food in from the countryside.

Moreover, such organic food is also more healthy: Being fresher means higher nutritional content. People would also consume fewer pesticides.

Much of the infrastructure for urban farming already exists. Basically any sunlit space can be used. “Rooftops are the best places because they typically get the best sunshine,” he observes. “There’s huge potential to grow food in any major city.”

Walsh has many ideas about where we might see such urban farms in the future. “Every supermarket with a flat roof should be growing food up there in a greenhouse,” he contends. He also envisions hospitals with rooftop gardens where patients can get some outdoor time and enjoy gardening for therapeutic purposes.

So far, Walsh has built or supported over forty urban farms in Tokyo.

He notes that “our grandparents basically grew food organically” and now it is time for urbanites to regain some of the skills that people used to take for granted.

The post Gardens Growing on Tokyo Rooftops appeared first on Akihabara News.

Source: Akihabara News – Gardens Growing on Tokyo Rooftops

Urgent Policies Needed To Steer Countries To Net Zero, Says IEA Chief

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: New energy policies are urgently needed to put countries on the path to net zero greenhouse gas emissions, the world’s leading energy economist has warned, as economies are rapidly gearing up for a return to fossil fuel use instead of forging a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of the world’s biggest economies now have long-term goals of reaching net zero by mid-century, but few have the policies required to meet those goals, said Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA’s latest figures show global coal use was about 4% higher in the last quarter of 2020 than in the same period in 2019, the clearest indication yet of a potentially disastrous rebound in the use of the dirtiest fossil fuels, following last year’s lockdowns around the world when emissions plummeted. Birol told the Guardian: “We are not on track for a green recovery, just the opposite. We have seen global emissions higher in December 2020 than in December 2019. As long as countries do not put the right energy policies in place, the economic rebound will see emissions significantly increase in 2021. We will make the job of reaching net zero harder.”

He urged governments to support clean energy and technology such as electric vehicles, and make fossil fuels less economically attractive. “Governments must provide clear signals to investors around the world that investing in dirty energy will mean a greater risk of losing money. This unmistakable signal needs to be given by policymakers to regulators, investors and others,” he said. Birol said stronger 2030 targets were essential to meet net zero. “Looking at the energy sector, the next 10 years will be very, very critical,” he said. “If governments put money in clean energy finance, in the context of their economic recovery plans, that will make the challenge less difficult.” Birol called on the U.S. to lead the way on setting out a national plan, called a nationally determined contribution (NDC), for cutting emissions strongly in the next 10 years. He also urged governments to put in place strong policies to discourage drivers from buying SUVs, which make up nearly half of all cars sold in key economies.

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Source: Slashdot – Urgent Policies Needed To Steer Countries To Net Zero, Says IEA Chief

Factory mix-up spoils 15 million doses of J&J COVID vaccine

A sign at the Johnson & Johnson campus on August 26, 2019 in Irvine, California.

Enlarge / A sign at the Johnson & Johnson campus on August 26, 2019 in Irvine, California. (credit: Getty | Mario Tama)

About 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine were ruined, and future vaccine shipments will be delayed. This all follows a mix-up at a manufacturing facility in Baltimore, according to multiple media reports.

Johnson & Johnson had partnered with Emergent BioSolutions to manufacture the active ingredient of its vaccine. But according to two US officials who spoke with Politico, workers at the West Baltimore facility mixed up the ingredients in Johnson &Johnson’s vaccine with those for a different coronavirus vaccine. Emergent BioSolutions is also a manufacturing partner of AstraZeneca, according to the New York Times, which first reported the problem.

The mishap with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine began before the Food and Drug Administration had authorized the facility to produce the vaccine. Now, that authorization has been delayed and shipments are stalled.

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Source: Ars Technica – Factory mix-up spoils 15 million doses of J&J COVID vaccine

LF Energy Spring Summit 2021: Lighting Up the Future

Click on the image above for TFiR coverage of the LF Energy Spring Summit To avert the worst of the climate crisis, the decarbonization of our power systems leads the way. We have ten years. With a greener grid, we can wholly embark on the electrification of automobiles, decarbonization of our built environments, and the […]

Source: LXer – LF Energy Spring Summit 2021: Lighting Up the Future

Scientists Create Simple Synthetic Cell That Grows and Divides Normally

Five years ago, scientists created a single-celled synthetic organism that, with only 473 genes, was the simplest living cell ever known. However, this bacteria-like organism behaved strangely when growing and dividing, producing cells with wildly different shapes and sizes. Now, scientists have identified seven genes that can be added to tame the cells’ unruly nature, causing them to neatly divide into uniform orbs. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reports: Scientists at JCVI constructed the first cell with a synthetic genome in 2010. They didn’t build that cell completely from scratch. Instead, they started with cells from a very simple type of bacteria called a mycoplasma. They destroyed the DNA in those cells and replaced it with DNA that was designed on a computer and synthesized in a lab. This was the first organism in the history of life on Earth to have an entirely synthetic genome. They called it JCVI-syn1.0.

Since then, scientists have been working to strip that organism down to its minimum genetic components. The super-simple cell they created five years ago, dubbed JCVI-syn3.0, was perhaps too minimalist. The researchers have now added 19 genes back to this cell, including the seven needed for normal cell division, to create the new variant, JCVI-syn3A. This variant has fewer than 500 genes. To put that number in perspective, the E. coli bacteria that live in your gut have about 4,000 genes. A human cell has around 30,000.

NIST’s role was to measure the resulting changes under a microscope. […] The result was stop-motion video that showed the synthetic cells growing and dividing. This video shows JCVI-syn3.0 cells — the ones created five years ago — dividing into different shapes and sizes. Some of the cells form filaments. Others appear to not fully separate and line up like beads on a string. Despite the variety, all these cells are genetically identical. These videos and others like them allowed the researchers to observe how their genetic manipulations affected the cell growth and division. If removing a gene disrupted the normal process, they’d put it back and try another. Of the seven genes added to this organism for normal cell division, scientists know what only two of them do. The findings have been published in the journal Cell.

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Source: Slashdot – Scientists Create Simple Synthetic Cell That Grows and Divides Normally

Xinuos sues IBM

A company called Xinuos has announced a
against IBM and Red Hat that has a familiar echo to it.
Xinuos alleges that the IBM and Red Hat conspiracy has harmed the
open-source community and specifically Xinuos’ OpenServer 10 product, which
is based on FreeBSD, an open-source UNIX-based operating system and
alternative to Red Hat’s Linux-based open-source operating system,
RHEL. ‘By dominating the Unix/Linux server operating system market,
competing open-source operating systems, like our FreeBSD-based OpenServer
10, have been pushed out of the market.’
” The full
text of the suit [PDF]
is available for those wanting the details.

Source: – Xinuos sues IBM

Biden Infrastructure Plan Promises Broadband To All Within 8 Years

One of the many promises made in President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan is to deliver “future proof” broadband to every home in American within eight years. It sets aside $100 billion to accomplish this feat. Motherboard reports: While specifics are murky, a new fact sheet on the proposal states the plan won’t just involve throwing more subsidies at America’s deep-pocketed incumbents, an American pastime studies show historically hasn’t delivered on the promise of faster, better broadband. Instead, the Biden administration says it plans to “prioritize support” for broadband networks owned, operated, or run in concert with local governments. Frustrated by limited competition and substandard service, some 750 U.S. communities have built local broadband networks that studies have shown are faster and less expensive than traditional options.

“President Biden’s plan will promote price transparency and competition among internet providers, including by lifting barriers that prevent municipally-owned or affiliated providers and rural electric co-ops from competing on an even playing field with private providers, and requiring internet providers to clearly disclose the prices they charge,” the plan states. The problem: neither the Biden FCC nor broader administration can do much about such state-level restrictions. Previous efforts by the Obama FCC to eliminate state barriers to community broadband were shot down in court. Still, clear support for such efforts is a course change from the GOP, which has repeatedly tried to ban community broadband entirely.

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Source: Slashdot – Biden Infrastructure Plan Promises Broadband To All Within 8 Years

Microsoft Sells Three Bethesdas Worth Of Minecraft Goggles To The US Military

In 2015, Microsoft showed off its fancy new HoloLens augmented reality goggles with a very impressive Minecraft demo. In 2021, the company has just agreed to sell “up to 22 billion” worth of headsets based on that original tech to the US military.

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Source: Kotaku – Microsoft Sells Three Bethesdas Worth Of Minecraft Goggles To The US Military

Facebook Blames 'Technical Issue' For Shorting Video Creators Thousands of Dollars In Ad Revenue

The Verge spoke with several Facebook video creators, all of whom say the company shorted them on cash and ignored their requests for help. From the report: The creators had no reason to initially question the amount they were paid since Facebook’s estimated revenue tool almost always mirrored their actual payouts. Usually, they’d be short only a couple hundred dollars. But after their revenue seemed off two months in a row, the creators say they looked into the issue. All three say the problems began in January, around the time Facebook transitioned to its new Pages experience and made updates to how creators can monetize. […] [T]hese creators say Facebook only cares about advertisers, leaving them with no one to turn to when their payments are unexpectedly short. They reached out for help, but the company gave them no feedback on what could be wrong.

After The Verge reached out for comment, however, Facebook said it “resolved a technical issue that prevented a small number of video creators on Facebook from receiving their full in-stream ads payouts.” “We’re notifying these partners that they’ll receive those remaining in-stream payments during the April payout cycle, and we apologize for any inconvenience,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. It’s good news for the creators getting a rebate but still an alarming precedent — holding thousands of dollars back for months with little explanation or guarantee the same problem won’t pop up again in the future.

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Source: Slashdot – Facebook Blames ‘Technical Issue’ For Shorting Video Creators Thousands of Dollars In Ad Revenue

Godzilla vs. Kong Director on Why Now Is the Right Time for ThunderCats

When you heard the news earlier this week of a new ThunderCats movie, there’s a chance you paid it no mind. These days so many projects are announced, directors attached, and scripts developed that so few of them ever see the light of day. That goes doubly for huge fantasy adaptations. Think about how many Voltron or

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Source: io9 – Godzilla vs. Kong Director on Why Now Is the Right Time for ThunderCats

Disco Elysium Is Basically Banned In Australia, But Steam Is Selling It Anyway

Even though it’s officially refused classification in Australia, it doesn’t look like Steam has paid much attention to Disco ElysiumA Final Cut‘s ban because Aussies can still buy it as of this morning.

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Source: Kotaku – Disco Elysium Is Basically Banned In Australia, But Steam Is Selling It Anyway

Amazon's Twitter Army Was Handpicked For 'Great Sense of Humor'

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: Amazon’s small Twitter army of “ambassadors” was quietly conceived in 2018 under the codename “Veritas,” which sought to train and dispatch select employees to the social media trenches to defend Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, according to an internal description of the program obtained exclusively by The Intercept. Amazon ambassadors drew attention this week as they responded to a wave of online criticism for the company’s treatment of workers amid a union drive at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.

Anticipating criticisms of worker conditions at their fulfillment centers in particular, Amazon designed Veritas to train fulfillment center workers chosen for their “great sense of humor” to confront critics — including policymakers — on Twitter in a “blunt” manner. The document, produced as part of the pilot program in 2018 and marked “ Confidential,” also includes examples of how its ambassadors can snarkily respond to criticisms of the company and its CEO. Several examples involve Sen. Bernie Sanders, a longtime critic of the $1 trillion firm who has been targeted by it in recent days. It also provides examples of how to defend Bezos.

“To address speculation and false assertions in social media and online forums about the quality of the FC [Fulfillment Center] associate experience, we are creating a new social team staffed with active, tenured FC employees, who will be empowered to respond in a polite — but blunt — way to every untruth,” the project description reads. “FC Ambassadors (‘FCA’) will respond to all posts and comments from customers, influencers (including policymakers), and media questioning the FC associate experience.” Kelly Nantel, an Amazon spokesperson, said via email: “FC Ambassadors are employees who work in our fulfillment centers and choose to share their personal experience — the FC ambassador program helps show what it’s actually like inside our fulfillment centers, along with the public tours we provide.” According to the BBC, accounts claiming to be Amazon workers are using the @AmazonFC handle followed by a first name to praise their working conditions on Twitter. Twitter has now suspended many of the accounts, and Amazon has confirmed at least one is fake.

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Source: Slashdot – Amazon’s Twitter Army Was Handpicked For ‘Great Sense of Humor’