Friday, December 11, 2009

2009: a great year for open access

2009 has been a good year for open access; for details, see my December 11, 2009 Dramatic Growth of Open Access.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Irreversible Catastrophic Climate Destabilization

Global average radiative forcing estimates and...Image via Wikipedia

Last Friday's edition of NOW on PBS asks, "Is a coastal catastrophe approaching, and what should we be doing about it?" It specifically addresses the issue of flooding in Bangladesh, currently the 7th most populous country on the planet and one of the most densely populated (1063 per sq km). (The next most populous country is Russia with a mere 8.4 per sq km!) Featured is Dr A. Atiq Rahman, the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) and a Lead Author of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) Chapter-19 on “Assessing Key Vulnerabilities and the Risk from Climate Change”, co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Dr Rahman says terms like Global Warming and Climate Change are deceptively euphemistic, and says Irreversible Catastrophic Climate Destabilization is much more accurate and impactful. Where I come from, people might say, "It's time to get the finger out!"

You can watch the segment below. I recommend you view the NOW page also, as the comments are enlightening. For instance, commenter Forrest M. Mims III says,"... land subsidence alone may account for an elevation change of -30 cm over the past several decades," which for me is in the category of "things you never thought of".


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Saturday, October 10, 2009

California Water Policy

I got this letter from my state legislator last week. Posted without comment.

Dear Mr. Xxxxxxxxx:

California’s lack of water could result in more than 800,000 acres of farmland going unplanted this year. And if the current water shortage doesn’t improve, the Central Valley could lose $1.8 billion in agricultural revenues by the end of the year.

But what many people don’t realize is that a large part of our water supply crisis is due to a man-made drought. In 2007, environmentalists persuaded a federal court to drastically cut back intake at the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water pumps in order to protect a 3-inch fish known as the Delta smelt. These environmentalists argue that the pumps harm the smelt’s habitat and are therefore in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

And now the Delta pumps have been turned off. Officials are predicting that the Central Valley won’t receive any federal water this year and it will only get 15% of the normal supply of state water.

These Delta pumping restrictions must be lifted in order to save our region’s economy and reduce record unemployment. As your representative in the State Assembly, I am taking action to prioritize the economic needs of our region and stop this man-made drought.

If you have any questions about our water supply, or any other topic, please do not hesitate to contact me. It is an honor to serve you in the State Assembly.


Assemblymember, District 34

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize goes to US President Obama

Congratulations to Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States of America, who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples". Here's what President Obama had to say:

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Good News

Good news are a good place to blog.

First of all, winning the Astellas USA award for doing work that has an impact on global health we have written "drug production in Africa" into the history books!
We are pleased that the Astellas USA Foundation in conjunction with the American Cheical Society chose us for this recognition and the $30,000 that came with it.

Please read more about the award on our web site.

Secondly you have to read todays The Los Angeles Times story that I quote here:

Antibodies found that prevent HIV from causing severe AIDS
Scientists were able to isolate two antibodies responsible for resistance to the disease in an African patient. The discovery could be key to the development of a vaccine.

A team based at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla reports today in the journal Science that they have isolated two so-called broadly neutralizing antibodies that can block the action of many strains of HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS.

"This is opening up a whole new area of science," said Dr. Seth F. Berkley, president and chief executive of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, which funded and coordinated the research. Read more....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Medal of Freedom: President Barak Obama & Dr. Muhammad Yunus

Once again, Muhammad Yunus tells it like it is. See the abstract of his talk at the National Press Club the same day: I haven't found any more video yet, so please let me know if you find a link to that.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Welfare for wild horses

This isn't necessarily a chemistry-related subject, but irony abounds, as the band I am in started working on the song 'Wild Horses' just last Sunday... I used to love to ride when I was younger, and I thought the Mustang was an icon of power and freedom....


Click on the title for the link.


Quote of the day re: OPEC

I thought this was well said:

...But what the bloc's members seem to keep forgetting, he said, is that "the Stone Age didn't end because the world ran out of stones, but because there were viable alternatives."

Click the title for the link to the story.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Chemists Without Borders has moved!

Hi, Everybody,

Sorry to have been gone for so long. Chemists Without Borders has a new mailing address and phone numbers, shown near the top of the left column under the Donate button (which, of course, we encourage you to use often).



Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Biomass Chemicals: From Green Plants to Chemistry, by Mitch Jacoby

Look Inside >>
July 6, 2009

Chemicals from the Garden: Advances in Biomass Chemistry transform plant matter to valuable chemicals. I recommend this 3-page update on an important area of development.

Another aspect of importance here is emphasized in Mr Jacoby's opening sentence: "Sound scientific ideas sometimes lie in limbo for decades until some event, discovery or urgent need triggers a wave of research." Once again, the Information Age allows us to solve a common problem: saving and storing ideas, etc., with effective retrieval at a later date by people unseen. Inexpensive storage and efficient hypertext search engines make this possible in ways that Dbase, Rbase, etc., never could.

Picture this: Your walking down the company corridor, empty coffee cup in hand, going for a refill. Walking towards you is a colleague with filled coffee cup in hand. You stop and chat to each other about an issue facing you, the company, colleagues, etc. Being the thoughtful, inventive folks that you are, you come up with some relevant ideas. "Oops, got to get back to my office," and you both part ways. The ideas are left hanging in the ether in the corridor like a transient ghost, never to be heard from again. Lost opportunity, lost intellectual property.

It is important for organizations to have systems in place where such ideas can be saved, much like a suggestion box. A wiki or blog is more than adequate to the task because searching is so easy, although more sophisticated tools may be even better. To quote Neil Larson, creator of the award-winning MaxThink and other tools, "The value of information is in how it is organized."
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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Liver function and acetaminophen....

ParacetamolImage via Wikipedia

I was just reading an interesting article on a potential dialysis for the liver in acute cases, and ran across this (From SFGate):

"About 28,000 Americans die each year of chronic liver disease, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The cause is often the result of alcohol abuse or Hepatitis C. There also can be other medical reasons. A much smaller number - about 2,000 people a year - go into acute liver failure without an underlying disease, the leading cause being an inadvertent overdose of acetaminophen..."

Personally, I use aspirin. Please be careful if you use acetaminophen.


The entire article on the artificial liver is here:
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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Rural China farmers joining the motor age.

By Don Lee
May 27, 2009


Copyright 2009 Los Angeles Times 202 West 1st Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012 (108)

"Beijing is offering incentives to spur vehicle sales in the countryside. Sales are so brisk that dealers often run out of stock.
"Reporting from Chuzhou, China -- Like everybody else in his farming village, Zhan Changchun used to get around on a bicycle. This month, the 29-year-old walked into a local dealership, pulled out $7,300 in cash from his leather satchel and drove away with the family's first car: a seven-seat micro-minivan that's jointly produced by China's Wuling and General Motors."

[Top 10 highlights automatically generated by GreatSummary]
  • Zhan Changchun, who lives in a farming village in China, drained his savings and borrowed from relatives to buy a Wuling micro-minivan. (16)
  • But they couldn't resist a slew of government incentives: a 50% sales tax reduction, elimination of hundreds of dollars in road maintenance fees, plus the biggest of them all, a 10% rebate for rural residents buying vehicles with engines smaller than 1.3 liter (27)
  • Since buying the lowest-end model of Wuling's minivans, the Sunshine, for $5,270 this month, Zhang Wenming has been putting in 30 to 40 miles a day making calls on customers and loading materials for his home-decorations busines (54)
  • Wu Gaifeng, sales director at one of two Wuling dealerships here, says he could have doubled his sales of about 400 units so far this year if only he had supply. (48)
  • Zhu, the agricultural economist, estimates that half of the farmers in the eastern half of China can afford to buy a car, which translates to as many as 200 million people. (71)
  • While new-vehicle purchases in the U.S. plunged 37% in the first four months of this year, they jumped more than 9% in China, to 3.8 million, with record volumes in March and Apri (35)
  • This month, the 29-year-old walked into a local dealership, pulled out $7,300 in cash from his leather satchel and drove away with the family's first car: a seven-seat micro-minivan that's jointly produced by China's Wuling and General Motor (24)
  • At the end of last year, there were only 65 million automobiles on the roads in all of China (71)

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

NIH to develop drug pipeline for rare diseases. But. . . .

Look Inside >>
May 25, 2009
Check out this article. The NIH is to find solutions for orphan diseases (possibly schistomiasis, among others) with its Therapeutics for Rare & Neglected Disease (TRND) effort. This kind of program is all too rare. Apparently, when drugs are discovered, they will be handed over to private companies for further development, clinical testing, and marketing.
  • Where will these companies be, and who will own the results?
  • Will they be US pharmaceutical companies or will they be companies or organizations such as AIDSfreeAFRICA in the developing countries where the diseases occur?
  • Will they be manufactured at US costs or at local costs in country?
  • Will the prices reflect US development and manuafacturing or in country development and manufacturing?
  • Will the profits stay in country or end up back in the US?
These countries need to develop their own pharmaceutical industries where they can meet local needs at local prices. Since the NIH is doing this work for the good of the disadvantaged, let it go the full monty and help these countries create their own capacity, even if they can't do the basic research themselves.
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Jazz for Peace benefit for AIDSfreeAFRICA - be there or be square!

This is from Erika Power. Even if you can't go yourself, you can always send a check or click the Jazz for Peace picture and donate in support. Please remember to promote this event to others whom you know, encouraging them to promote it to others whom they know, etc., etc., etc. The Power is in the Network!

I am part of a non-profit based in Ossining, NY, called AIDSfreeAFRICA and we are benefiting from a Jazz for Peace concert with The Swim Strong Foundation on June 25th at Iguana Restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. Because of our work in African countries aiding pharmaceutical production, our executive director, Dr. Rolande Hodel, just won the Astellas USA Foundation Award that is administered by the American Chemical Society (ACS). This $30,000 prize is awarded for Dr. Hodel's pioneering work to help establish facilities for the production of pharmaceuticals, in particular, generic drugs for the African continent. I believe that this event is a great way for anyone who believes in social justice and equality to hear wonderful jazz music, eat good food (at Iguana), and sponsor worthwhile causes. Here is the event information:

Event Date: June 25th, 2009
Meeting Time: 6 pm- 10 pm
Event Title: Jazz for Peace Concert
Event Location: Iguana New York, 240 West 54th Street (bet. Broadway and 8th Ave. ), New York, NY 10019
Event Description: Jazz for Peace concert series ( is benefiting AIDSfreeAFRICA and Swim Strong Foundation by hosting a special night with Rick DellaRatta, renowned jazz pianist and vocalist. The event is to be held at Iguana New York and tickets can be purchased through the The Swim Strong Foundation website ( for $35.00. Rick DellaRatta and Jazz for Peace play a fusion of Israeli, Middle Eastern, Asian, European, and American jazz music. The concert series chooses organizations that strive to obtain goals that are different from the norm which is perfect for AIDSfreeAFRICA ( because it is an organization that supports the production of pharmaceuticals in African countries. Most Africans die from the diseases that result from AIDS and not necessarily from the actual disease thus making the treatment of tuberculosis and the flu more attainable than curing AIDS. Through this support, AIDSfreeAFRICA has helped African companies produce necessary medications at reduced prices making the entire process cost-effective. The Swim Strong Foundation ( is a non-profit that inspires youth to swim competitively by creating swimming programs and summer camps.

Contact Name
: Dr. Rolande Hodel, 125 South Highland Ave. #3-B1 Ossining, NY 10562
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 914-923-2073
Web site URLs: or

If you have any questions or suggestions, please don't hesitate to email me or Dr. Rolande Hodel (at I hope to see you at the Iguana Restaurant on June 25th for the concert. Thank you very much for your time. Have a nice day!


Erika Power
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Persistent Organic Pollutants Treaty Now Includes PFOS and Brominated Flame Retardants

Cheryl Hogue, a senior editor at C&EN, published the following note (Chemical & Engineering News Digital Edition - May 18, 2009):

PERSISTANT ORGANIC POLLUTANTS: Treaty now includes PFOS and brominated flame retardants.

Nine chemicals, including the widely used chemicals in perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and brominated flame retardants, have been added to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, an international treaty to which the US is not party.

The chemicals are targeted for worldwide elimination or restriction of production and use because they are carcinogens, interfere with reproduction or development, or damage the immune system, according to a United Nations statement.

PFOS, a substance that imparts stain and stick-resistance, is listed for restriction. However, treaty partners added a number of exemptions, including the use of PFOS and its related chemicals in textile finishes, firefighting foam, and the manufacture of semiconductors.

Other treaty listings essentially call for the phaseout of chemicals. Among those to be eliminated are commercial-grade pentabromodiphenyl ether and octabromodiphenyl ether, which are mixtures of closely related brominated compounds. Uses of these compounds include fire suppression for polyurethane foams and the plastic housing of electronics such as cell phones and computers.

Also, newly listed under the Stockholm Convention on the elimination of the pesticide lindane, which is also used in some pharmaceuticals as well as alpha- and beta-hexachlorocyclohexane, both unintentional by-products of the manufacture of lindane.

Another new treaty listing for elimination is pentachlorobenzene, once used in polychlorinated biphenyl ether products and dyestuffs carriers and as a fungicide and a flame retardant.

The two other newly listed substances to be banned are chlordecone, a pesticide, and hexabromobiphenyl, once used as a flame retardant. -- Cheryl Hogue

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Children Accused of Witchcraft

Persecution of witches.Image via Wikipedia

Image via WikipediaAccording to ABC News, yesterday, throughout the Congo children are being accused of practicing witchcraft (click the title to see the news video). To me, as a parent and as a former court appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children, this is serious child abuse which leads to the orphaning of these children. I don't know who has the necessary influence to change these practices and educated the parents accordingly, but if you readers do, please encourage them to make a difference. Thousands of children are affected.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

11th Annual Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants

{{w|Skeletal formula}} of polybrominated diphe...Image via Wikipedia

Dr. Arlene Blum (Executive Director, Green Science Policy Institute) provided this report from the 11th Annual Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants. This is a topic that that deserves more of our attention than it currently gets.

Dear All,

I am just back from an informative and fun Brominated Flame Retardant meeting in Ottawa where I presented my talk, Do Flame Retardants Save Lives? How Peer-Reviewed Science Can Impact Regulatory Decision-Making.

Upcoming Fire Retardant Dilemma symposia hosted by GSP will be held in August in Beijing and the next will be on September 25th at U.C. Berkeley.

I’m attaching the abstracts from the BFR meeting. There were presentations showing levels of fire retardant chemicals in albatross, kestrals, belugas, stellar sea lions, snapping turtles, great blue herons, and a variety of other animals and birds.

Scientists reported on connections between exposure to fire retardant chemicals and indicators of reproductive success such as smaller broods, thinner egg shells, changes to courtship behavior, decrease copulation rates, fewer pairs laying eggs, decrease in parental care, smaller reproductive organs, delays in puberty, and others in a variety of species. Although some of the species are in decline, it is difficult to make a causal connection between chemical exposure and health impacts.

Some connections between PBDE levels and hormonal changes in humans were documented as well as higher PBDE levels in beef, pork, chicken, and turkey from California compared to other states. Also levels in sediments, biosolids, lake water and sewage sludge were reported.

All this information is motivational for our work to bring science into regulatory processes to reduce the use of toxic chemicals.

The next BFR meeting will be in Kyoto Japan in April, and I’m planning to attend. More information at

On another note, Obama has nominated Paul Anastas to be EPA Asst Administrator for Research and Development. Paul Anastas is an outstanding green chemist. This should help toxics be included in the national environmental agenda.

More at


Arlene Blum PhD
Visiting Scholar, Chemistry
University of California, Berkeley
Executive Director, Green Science Policy Institute
Telephone: 510 644-3164 Mobile: 510 919-6363
Web: www,

Elana Fishman

Green Science Policy Institute

Phone: 510-644-3164

Mobile: 818-468-5931

The Green Science Policy Institute provides unbiased scientific information to government, industry, and non-governmental organizations to facilitate more informed decision-making about chemicals used in consumer products in order to protect health and environment world-wide.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

China Marks First Anniversary of Deadly Earthquake | Online NewsHour | PBS

An SVG map of China with Sichuan province high...Image via Wikipedia

This is a great segment from the NewsHour on PBS. I recommend both the Streaming Video segment (8 minutes) and the two related links which include a slide show with commentary (3 minutes). Some 90,000 people died in this earthquake, and countless others remain in cramped, makeshift conditions as reconstruction progresses. Check it out . . . . .

Slide Show

NPR Reporter Revisits China One Year After Earthquake

Man surveys photos before and after the earthquake. Photo: Andrea Hsu/NPRA 7.9 magnitude earthquake battered China's Sichuan province on May 12, 2008. A year later, National Public Radio's Melissa Block and photographer Andrea Hsu revisited some families to report on their progress recovering from the quake.

audioDownloadvideoStreaming Video

In-depth CoverageWorld View

ResourceChina Earthquake: A Year of Recovery [NPR]
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