Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 29 n° 307

Posts Tagged ‘death’

The death of the internal combustion engine

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 13 agosto 2017

the economist“HUMAN inventiveness…has still not found a mechanical process to replace horses as the propulsion for vehicles,” lamented Le Petit Journal, a French newspaper, in December 1893. Its answer was to organise the Paris-Rouen race for horseless carriages, held the following July. The 102 entrants included vehicles powered by steam, petrol, electricity, compressed air and hydraulics. Only 21 qualified for the 126km (78-mile) race, which attracted huge crowds. The clear winner was the internal combustion engine. Over the next century it would go on to power industry and change the world.
But its days are numbered. Rapid gains in battery technology favour electric motors instead (see Briefing). In Paris in 1894 not a single electric car made it to the starting line, partly because they needed battery-replacement stations every 30km or so. Today’s electric cars, powered by lithium-ion batteries, can do much better. The Chevy Bolt has a range of 383km; Tesla fans recently drove a Model S more than 1,000km on a single charge. UBS, a bank, reckons the “total cost of ownership” of an electric car will reach parity with a petrol one next year—albeit at a loss to its manufacturer. It optimistically predicts electric vehicles will make up 14% of global car sales by 2025, up from 1% today. Others have more modest forecasts, but are hurriedly revising them upwards as batteries get cheaper and better—the cost per kilowatt-hour has fallen from $1,000 in 2010 to $130-200 today. Regulations are tightening, too. Last month Britain joined a lengthening list of electric-only countries, saying that all new cars must be zero-emission by 2050.
The shift from fuel and pistons to batteries and electric motors is unlikely to take that long. The first death rattles of the internal combustion engine are already reverberating around the world—and many of the consequences will be welcome.To gauge what lies ahead, think how the internal combustion engine has shaped modern life. The rich world was rebuilt for motor vehicles, with huge investments in road networks and the invention of suburbia, along with shopping malls and drive-through restaurants. Roughly 85% of American workers commute by car. Carmaking was also a generator of economic development and the expansion of the middle class, in post-war America and elsewhere. There are now about 1bn cars on the road, almost all powered by fossil fuels. Though most of them sit idle, America’s car and lorry engines can produce ten times as much energy as its power stations. The internal combustion engine is the mightiest motor in history.
But electrification has thrown the car industry into turmoil. Its best brands are founded on their engineering heritage—especially in Germany. Compared with existing vehicles, electric cars are much simpler and have fewer parts; they are more like computers on wheels. That means they need fewer people to assemble them and fewer subsidiary systems from specialist suppliers. Carworkers at factories that do not make electric cars are worried that they could be for the chop. With less to go wrong, the market for maintenance and spare parts will shrink. While today’s carmakers grapple with their costly legacy of old factories and swollen workforces, new entrants will be unencumbered. Premium brands may be able to stand out through styling and handling, but low-margin, mass-market carmakers will have to compete chiefly on cost.Assuming, of course, that people want to own cars at all. Electric propulsion, along with ride-hailing and self-driving technology, could mean that ownership is largely replaced by “transport as a service”, in which fleets of cars offer rides on demand. On the most extreme estimates, that could shrink the industry by as much as 90%. Lots of shared, self-driving electric cars would let cities replace car parks (up to 24% of the area in some places) with new housing, and let people commute from far away as they sleep—suburbanisation in reverse.Even without a shift to safe, self-driving vehicles, electric propulsion will offer enormous environmental and health benefits. Charging car batteries from central power stations is more efficient than burning fuel in separate engines. Existing electric cars reduce carbon emissions by 54% compared with petrol-powered ones, according to America’s National Resources Defence Council. That figure will rise as electric cars become more efficient and grid-generation becomes greener. Local air pollution will fall, too. The World Health Organisation says that it is the single largest environmental health risk, with outdoor air pollution contributing to 3.7m deaths a year. One study found that car emissions kill 53,000 Americans each year, against 34,000 who die in traffic accidents.
And then there is oil. Roughly two-thirds of oil consumption in America is on the roads, and a fair amount of the rest uses up the by-products of refining crude oil to make petrol and diesel. The oil industry is divided about when to expect peak demand; Royal Dutch Shell says that it could be little combustion enginemore than a decade away. The prospect will weigh on prices long before then. Because nobody wants to be left with useless oil in the ground, there will be a dearth of new investment, especially in new, high-cost areas such as the Arctic. By contrast, producers such as Saudi Arabia, with vast reserves that can be tapped cheaply, will be under pressure to get pumping before it is too late: the Middle East will still matter, but a lot less than it did. Although there will still be a market for natural gas, which will help generate power for all those electric cars, volatile oil prices will strain countries that depend on hydrocarbon revenues to fill the national coffers. When volumes fall, the adjustment will be fraught, particularly where the struggle for power has long been about controlling oil wealth. In countries such as Angola and Nigeria where oil has often been a curse, the diffusion of economic clout may bring immense benefits.Meanwhile, a scramble for lithium is under way. The price of lithium carbonate has risen from $4,000 a tonne in 2011 to more than $14,000. Demand for cobalt and rare-earth elements for electric motors is also soaring. Lithium is used not just to power cars: utilities want giant batteries to store energy when demand is slack and release it as it peaks. Will all this make lithium-rich Chile the new Saudi Arabia? Not exactly, because electric cars do not consume it; old lithium-ion batteries from cars can be reused in power grids, and then recycled.The internal combustion engine has had a good run—and could still dominate shipping and aviation for decades to come. But on land electric motors will soon offer freedom and convenience more cheaply and cleanly. As the switch to electric cars reverses the trend in the rich world towards falling electricity consumption, policymakers will need to help, by ensuring that there is enough generating capacity—in spite of many countries’ broken system of regulation. They may need to be the midwives to new rules and standards for public recharging stations, and the recycling of batteries, rare-earth motors and other components in “urban mines”. And they will have to cope with the turmoil as old factory jobs disappear.Driverless electric cars in the 21st century are likely to improve the world in profound and unexpected ways, just as vehicles powered by internal combustion engines did in the 20th. But it will be a bumpy road. Buckle up.(This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline “Roadkill” by The Economist)

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Marijuana associated with three-fold risk of death from hypertension

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 9 agosto 2017

marijuana plant in flowering, bid bud cannabis

marijuana plant in flowering, bid bud cannabis

Sophia Antipolis. Marijuana use is associated with a three-fold risk of death from hypertension, according to research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. “Steps are being taken towards legalisation and decriminalisation of marijuana in the United States, and rates of recreational marijuana use may increase substantially as a result,” said lead author Barbara A Yankey, a PhD student in the School of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, US. “However, there is little research on the impact of marijuana use on cardiovascular and cerebrovascular mortality.”
In the absence of longitudinal data on marijuana use, the researchers designed a retrospective follow-up study of NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) participants aged 20 years and above. In 2005–2006, participants were asked if they had ever used marijuana. Those who answered “yes” were considered marijuana users. Participants reported the age when they first tried marijuana and this was subtracted from their current age to calculate the duration of use.Information on marijuana use was merged with mortality data in 2011 from the National Centre for Health Statistics. The researchers estimated the associations of marijuana use, and duration of use, with death from hypertension, heart disease, and cerebrovascular disease, controlling for cigarette use and demographic variables including sex, age, and ethnicity. Death from hypertension included multiple causes such as primary hypertension and hypertensive renal disease.Among a total of 1 213 participants, 34% used neither marijuana nor cigarettes, 21% used only marijuana, 20% used marijuana and smoked cigarettes, 16% used marijuana and were past-smokers, 5% were past-smokers and 4% only smoked cigarettes. The average duration of marijuana use was 11.5 years. Marijuana users had a higher risk of dying from hypertension. Compared to non-users, marijuana users had a 3.42-times higher risk of death from hypertension and a 1.04 greater risk for each year of use. There was no association between marijuana use and death from heart disease or cerebrovascular disease.Ms Yankey said: “We found that marijuana users had a greater than three-fold risk of death from hypertension and the risk increased with each additional year of use.”
Ms Yankey pointed out that there were limitations to the way marijuana use was estimated. For example, it cannot be certain that participants used marijuana continuously since they first tried it.She said: “Our results suggest a possible risk of hypertension mortality from marijuana use. This is not surprising since marijuana is known to have a number of effects on the cardiovascular system. Marijuana stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, leading to increases in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen demand. Emergency rooms have reported cases of angina and heart attacks after marijuana use.” The authors stated that the cardiovascular risk associated with marijuana use may be greater than the cardiovascular risk already established for cigarette smoking.“We found higher estimated cardiovascular risks associated with marijuana use than cigarette smoking,” said Ms sigaretteYankey. “This indicates that marijuana use may carry even heavier consequences on the cardiovascular system than that already established for cigarette smoking. However, the number of smokers in our study was small and this needs to be examined in a larger study.”“Needless to say, the detrimental effects of marijuana on brain function far exceed that of cigarette smoking,” she added.Ms Yankey said it was crucial to understand the effects of marijuana on health so that policy makers and individuals could make informed decisions. She said: “Support for liberal marijuana use is partly due to claims that it is beneficial and possibly not harmful to health. With the impending increase in recreational marijuana use it is important to establish whether any health benefits outweigh the potential health, social and economic risks. If marijuana use is implicated in cardiovascular diseases and deaths, then it rests on the health community and policy makers to protect the public.”

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An Egyptian court revokes the death sentence for Muhammad Morsi

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 21 novembre 2016

morsiTHE Egyptian state has taken several steps lately that have defied expectations. In October the government instituted a value-added tax, after years of consideration, and passed reforms to the civil service. Then, in November, its central bank floated the Egyptian pound, which had been overvalued for months, and allowed the price of subsidised fuel to rise. An Egyptian court has now added to the trend by showing leniency to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that won Egypt’s first elections following the revolution of 2011.The Brotherhood-led government, headed by Muhammad Morsi, the president, infuriated many Egyptians, who saw it as abusing its power to impose an Islamist agenda. Thousands of people took to the streets in 2012 and 2013 to protest against the group’s rule. By July 2013 the country had become so divided as to warrant intervention, claimed the army, which tried to impose a resolution and, after that failed, deposed Mr Morsi. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the general who led the coup, then crushed the group, declaring it a terrorist organisation, killing hundreds of its members and imprisoning many more.Mr Sisi has since been elected president, while Mr Morsi and his colleagues have languished in jail. They have endured several trials on charges ranging from murder to espionage. In October Mr Morsi exhausted his appeals in a case dealing with the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012, for which he had received a 20-year sentence. But on November 15th Egypt’s high court revoked a death sentence imposed last year on Mr Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders, including Muhammad Badie, the group’s spiritual guide, over a prison escape (which involved the death of prison guards) during the revolution of 2011. The court also overturned the life sentences for 21 others in the same case. Retrials have been ordered.
Mr Morsi is also appealing against two other verdicts. In one he is accused of spying for Qatar and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. In the other he is accused of conspiring with foreign groups—such as Hamas, a racial Palestinian faction; Lebanon’s Hizbullah; and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards—to destabilise Egypt. He and other Brotherhood leaders were sentenced to 25 years in prison. In yet another case, still to be heard, Mr Morsi is accused of insulting the judiciary. That trial is scheduled to begin on December 10th.Though they were sentenced to death, Mr Morsi and his colleagues were never likely to be killed. The Brotherhood’s popularity has plummeted since its spell in power, but it still has a significant following. Under Mr Sisi’s draconian rule, many members have fled the country, but others stayed and some have turned violent. Making a martyr of the group’s leaders would escalate tension at a time when the president is trying to lure foreign investment back to Egypt. And anyway, Mr Morsi is not about to leave prison. The government shows few signs of wanting to reconcile with the Brotherhood.Egypt’s judicial system has issued other surprising verdicts of late. In June a court overturned Mr Sisi’s decision to transfer sovereignty over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia; a month earlier a different court overturned the jail sentences for 47 people convicted of protesting against the deal. But the system still has a reputation for being influenced by politics. For example, while Mr Morsi has been held accountable for the killing of protesters by his men, no one in the army, then led by Mr Sisi, has been brought to justice for the killing of hundreds of Islamist protesters in Cairo in August 2013. (photo: morsi font: The Economist)

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Showing exceptional sculptures

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 2 settembre 2010

Paris 14 September to 26 October 2010 Galerie Ratton-Ladriere11 quai Voltaire,  Opening day: Monday 13 September From 14 September to 26 October 2010, the Ratton-Ladrière gallery will be unveiling some thirty sculptures from the 15th, 17th, and 18 th centuries. Some of them depict historical scenes, such as the Death of Cleopatra, while others show religious scenes, such as the Beheading of Saint Paul, while others still are based on mythology, such as the Lady with the unicorn or the Faun with Kid. Located on quai Voltaire, the Ratton-Ladrière gallery has been one of the must-see antiquity galleries of the “Carré Rive Gauche” for some thirty years. Having been established on the Right Bank (14 rue Marignan, Paris 8th district) for several decades by Charles Ratton and Guy Ladrière, the Ratton-Ladrière gallery is now known internationally for its sculptures and art objects, but also its paintings and drawings, which primarily cover the Renaissance and Baroque periods.
A genuine aficionado, Guy Ladrière conveys his passion for art to those around him, starting with his daughter Sandrine who has been working for the gallery since 2001. Together, they are delighted to count among their regular clientele numerous demanding private collectors, to which can be added the most renowned international museums, such as Cluny, Versailles, and the Getty Museum (Los Angeles)… not to mention the Louvre which faces it from the other side of the Seine. In the autumn of 2010, the Ratton-Ladrière gallery will be inviting art collectors and aficionados to see some thirty sculptures from the 15th, 17th, and 18 th centuries, displayed by
Pierre-Hervé Walbaum.
Among the prominent pieces, let us mention the Beheading of Saint Paul, a terra cotta sculpture hand-crafted in the 17th century by Alessandro Algardi, or the Faun with kid, a white marble sculpture made in the 18th century by a certain Jacques François Saly, inspired by the statuary of antiquity. Fauns are generally rustic beings that are half-man and half-beast; Saly’s faun, however, is of a youthful grace and completely civilized, one worthy of being shown at the Court of Louis XV where the marble piece was on display. The Ratton-Ladrière gallery regularly organizes thematic exhibitions of exquisite refinement and quality. Its previous exhibitions had themes of “Animals in art”, “Sculpted heads”, and “Old masters drawings from the 16th to the 18th centuries”.

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Tragic death of H.E. Mgr Luigi Padovese

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 4 giugno 2010

We are greatly moved by the shocking news concerning the violent death of H.E. Mgr Luigi Padovese, the Apostolic Vicar of Anatolia and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Turkey. It is with deep sorrow that we express closest solidarity with the entire Catholic Church in Turkey.  On behalf of the CCEE Presidency (Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe) and of all Bishops of Europe, we wish to show our communion in prayer and express our closeness to the Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and the Christian people in Turkey. Their suffering is our suffering.  The profoundly tragic death of H.E. Mgr Luigi Padovese takes place on the Solemn Feast of Corpus Domini, uniting him therefore in a special way to Jesus the Lord, Who gave His life for His people. We are certain that Divine Mercy will welcome him and fill him with the glory of His love. We also wish to stand close to the Holy Father and to the Capuchin Fathers, the religious family His  Excellency belonged to, as such an event wounds the Church in its entirety, and calls us with even greater zeal to be united and faithful in the service of the Lord. Only from the Lord can we expect the Justice that a man of peace and goodwill, and one who has always shown true apostolic zeal and a strong dedication to his people deserves. We also pray for those who have committed such a crime, as only the Lord is able to read and change the hearts of men. May Mary Mother of the Apostles and St Paul of Tarsus help us to stand firm in faith and hope at this time of suffering. (Cardinal Péter Erdő  Archbishop of Ezstergom-Budapest  President of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe)

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