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    China has unveiled its latest stealth drone technology as Beijing attempts to undercut U.S. sales and gain a lucrative foothold in the world’s most unstable regions.

    A model of the CH-7 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is being displayed this week at the Zhuhai air show in southern China, an event where each year Beijing showcases its most-cutting edge technology.

    The UAV is being built by the state-owned Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, which hopes to begin test flights next year and mass production in 2022. With a wingspan of 72 feet and a length of 33 feet, the CH-7 is the size of a combat aircraft and can fly around the speed of a commercial jet plane.

    Chief designer Shi Wen told the Associated Press the aircraft can “fly long hours, scout and strike the target when necessary.” Shi suggested that “in the next one to two years” the CH-7 could be flying missions as a “practical and usable product.” He added that the aircraft will likely be sold abroad, but did not specify where.

    China has been investing heavily in drone research as part of a plan to transform its large but low-tech military into one of the world’s most modern and well-equipped forces. And with better domestic technology comes more foreign sales.

    The U.S. remains the global leader in drone technology. Its UAVs fly missions for a host of nations all over the world, whether in combat strike, reconnaissance or law enforcement roles. But American products are expensive, and often come with strict conditions on their use.

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    The U.S. limits sales of its best gear in case it falls into enemy hands, is used in crushing civil unrest or even because it might undermine the regional military dominance of Israel—which itself has one of the world’s most advanced and lucrative drone industries.

    China’s aircraft may not be as good as America’s but they can be bought for cheaper and with fewer strings attached. According to The Wall Street Journal, Chinese drones—many of which closely mimic American designs—have been spotted flying missions for Saudi Arabia above Yemen, patrolling the skies over the Syrian border for Jordan and striking ISIS targets in Iraq.

    Egypt, Iraq, Myanmar, Pakistan, Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates are among China’s customers. All have histories of large-scale human rights violations and even war crimes, but all are keen to bolster their UAV armories as such systems become must-haves on the modern battlefield.

    And as China’s systems improve, more nations in the unstable region and further afield will be looking toward Beijing. That China is not signed up to the Missile Technology Control Regime—restricting exports of missiles and other unmanned weapons systems—gives the country another edge in the international drone market.

    Ron Huisken, a regional security expert at Australian National University, told AP, “One wonders what nasty surprises are in store as countries more casual about how they use drones and less strict about training standards get their hands on them.”

    Once the attack is complete, the drone is simply abandoned, having completed its job. It can be pre-programmed to wide its own memory, erasing any traces of its programming code or flight history.

    What if anyone could kill almost anyone else for about five thousand dollars?

    In time, such drones could be purchased or built for less than a thousand dollars each. With an estimated mission success rate of 20%, that means the out-of-pocket cost to successfully kill someone with one of these drones might only be $5,000.

    Before I explain why this matters, let me be clear that I am wholly against the use of violence to achieve commercial or political gain, and in no way do I condone the use of Kamikaze drones as described here. In fact, this article should serve as a warning to what’s coming in the hopes that we might achieve some globally-observed limits on drone deployment.

    But until that happens, here’s where this is headed: At $5,000 per assassination, there is a very long list of corporations, politicians, activists and individuals who would be willing to deploy these drones to assassinate all kinds of targets: members of Congress, corporate rivals, political enemies, competing drug dealers, ex-wives or ex-husbands… and the list goes on.

    These kamikaze micro drones could even be used as weapons of war. Imagine Iran or North Korea, for example, deploying thousands of such devices around Washington D.C. with the sole purpose of killing as many U.S. Senators and members of Congress as possible. Tactically, that’s a very low-cost war with a very high “return” in terms of “enemy casualties” from the point of view of the attacker.

    But individuals and vigilantes could also use the technology for their own purposes at a local level. Ponder for a moment what happens when anyone with a mere $5,000 and a few photos of their intended target can simply release a small drone out of a backpack and set back while that micro drone locates and assassinates their intended target (using commonly available killing weapons, no less). The ease of operations is shockingly low, making such solutions readily available to anyone willing to surf the ‘net and download the operating system that carries out such activities. (Source code will no doubt be posted on many hacktivism sites.)

    It’s not difficult to imagine local neighborhood watch groups pooling their funds and deploying drones to kill local drug dealers who terrorize the streets, for example. Even vigilantes who seek to protect their fellow citizens might see themselves as some sort of “drone superheroes” who deploy kamikaze drones to take out local crime bosses or dirty politicians who violate the law.

    Everyday citizens would have the power to assassinate Presidents

    What we are really looking at here – and again I must repeat and urge that IN NO WAY DO I CONDONE OR ENCOURAGE SUCH ACTS OF VIOLENCE – is the rise of a decentralized, affordable technology which could someday allow ordinary citizens to quite literally assassinate Presidents.

    Which Presidents? Any that you can imagine, of course: Presidents of nations, Presidents of corporations, Presidents of universities and so on. It is very difficult to imagine how highly-visible people could be protected against such attacks based on present-day defensive tactics and weaponry. Handguns and rifles, for example, would be very hard-pressed to shoot down a fast-moving micro drone making a kamikaze attack.

    The U.S. Secret Service, a group of incredibly well-trained and highly-dedicated individuals, probably has never faced a micro drone attack and very likely has no training for how to deal with such an attack. Clearly this is going to have to change in the very near future as such drones come within reach of everyday people. Every high-ranking member of every government around the world, in fact, is going to need to start thinking about how to be safe out in the open once these micro drones become a reality. (I have developed some detailed ideas on defensive tactics against such attempts, if anybody from the U.S. Secret Service is interested…)

    The bottom line on this is that anyone who appears out in the open – giving a speech, taking a walk in the park, or pursuing a campaign trail – could be easily assassinated with one or more such Kamikaze micro drones. No one is immune from such attacks.

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    Another key “advantage” of this weapon system – from the point of view of the attacker – is that the attack is virtually untraceable. The person who launches the attack could be miles away by the time the drone actually strikes, and there’s no trail of gun registrations, ammo purchases or explosives to track down. In fact, the drone could be programmed to wipe its own memory clean after the attack is carried out, erasing any on-board evidence of the executable code, target images or operating system. The only evidence left behind would be the hardware platform of the drone itself, which is likely to be based on a readily available “hobby” drone chassis that’s impossible to link to any specific individual.

    As you can see, this would create real nightmares for law enforcement investigators. And in a society that we all would like to see remain peaceful and safe, the idea that some individuals could operate deadly assassination drones with near-impunity should be downright alarming. Because many people would use this technology with some highly destructive intent.

    A tremendous threat to law enforcement

    As Natural News readers already know, I have worked closely alongside law enforcement in the past, engaging in fundraising, defensive martial arts training and more. One of my greatest fears with this kamikaze micro drone weapons platform is that it could easily be used by even a poorly-financed drug gang to eliminate local law enforcement personnel en masse, right before a major drug run activity takes place.

    A small air force of such drones – say, 100 drones at just $1,000 each – could swarm a small town and kill any member of law enforcement spotted in public. That’s a mere $100,000 investment for a drug gang that might be making a multi-million-dollar smuggling run through a small urban chokepoint.

    Similarly, an activist group committed to acts of violence could quite literally launch a war on the CEOs or employees of any targeted corporation. If some group didn’t like an oil company, or a factory farming operations, or even a weapons manufacturer, it would quite easily purchase and launch a swarm of micro-drones to kill employees as they walk through the company’s parking lot each day, for example. It doesn’t take very many casualties of key corporate scientists to derail R&D programs.

    In all, the potential for a “micro drone Wild West” is very real and very concerning. And here’s why it could be even more wild than you might imagine…

    This is an important analysis article on what I believe will be a coming wave of “Kamikaze assassination micro drones” which will soon be affordable enough for everyday citizens to deploy against selected targets. Why is this discussion important? Because these micro drones have the very real potential to re-shape the distribution of power across our planet… and they may pose a real danger to public safety and security across society.

    (As you read this article, please bear in mind that I do not in any way condone the tactical applications described herein. This article is a WARNING, not an endorsement, of this very dangerous convergence of trending technologies which may threaten us all.)

    Tiny assassination drones must be understood as a revolutionary new kind of weapon, and there is firm historical precedent for dramatic sociopolitical shifts rising out of such revolutions.

    For example, the invention of the gunpowder-based rifle radically decentralized military power, making firepower affordable and available to the masses. This caused a global wave of popular revolutions that ultimately lead to modern-day representative government, where those in power were suddenly forced to listen to the needs of their armed citizens. (Before the invention of gunpowder, kings simply deployed heavily-armored knights against citizens, forcing the peons into obedience thanks to a vastly superior weapons and defense system that was completely out of reach of the masses.)

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    Today we have large-scale militarized “drones” – unmanned aerial vehicles or UAV’s – enjoying widespread deployment by the Pentagon, which plans to spend $2.5 billion next year on these drones (1). These UAVs conduct mission reconnaissance, target acquisition and weapons delivery all on the same platform. For now, they represent a battlefield tactical edge for the United States of America, but that advantage is likely to be short-lived for reasons discussed here.

    Drone miniaturization, facial recognition systems and kinetic kamikaze missions

    From studying trends in drone development, both in terms of software and hardware, I am now predicting the development of facial-recognition “kamikaze micro drones” capable of carrying out targeted human assassination missions with remarkable precision and reliability. The four trends that will lead to this are:

    1) Drone miniaturization: The development of mass-produced, affordable “micro drones” about the size of a common bird. These will likely be produced as hobby aircraft which will be easily modified to take on a more aggressive role.

    2) Facial recognition systems: The miniaturization of facial recognition software / hardware systems which may be deployed on micro drones and powered by very small on-board power supplies.

    3) Rapid advances in drone manufacturing efficiency, resulting in greater affordability of drone platforms by smaller and smaller groups, including corporations, smaller nations, universities, vigilantes and even activist groups.

    4) Incremental improvements in the power density of on-board batteries, allowing greater flight time and more CPU-intensive on-board computations.

    These four trends will ultimately result in the creation of “Kamikaze assassination micro drones” with the ability to search for, identify and terminate a specific human target. It is likely, in fact, that many governments of the world are already working on this technology.

    This technology will reshape the meaning of “war” by allowing rogue nations like North Korea, for example, to simply ship tens of thousands of such drones into the USA via China, marked as “toys” on import manifests. Once in the USA, these micro assassination drones can be dropped from low-flying airplanes or released from vehicles in city parks to carry out their pre-programmed missions of targeted assassinations across U.S. cities.

    Future Air Force battles may be carried out by palm-sized aircraft

    The United States Air Force already appears to be developing such devices, by the way. As journalist Susanne Posel writes at OccupyCorporatism.com: (2)

    Under the Air Vehicles Directorate branch of the US Air Force, research is being conducted to perfect remote-controlled micro air vehicles (MAVs) that are expected to “become a vital element in the ever-changing war-fighting environment and will help ensure success on the battlefield of the future.”

    How Kamikaze micro drones will work

    Kamikaze micro drones do not need to carry conventional weapons or explosives of any kind. Instead, they may simply carry an on-board serrated puncture weapon such as a crossbow hunting broad tip, affixed to the end of a shaft in a spear arrangement.

    As shown in the image on the right, these devices are commonly available right now on Amazon.com, where they are called “Killzone broadheads” and boast the following marketing claims:

    * The new Killzone Crossbow is a 2 blade rear-deploying broadhead that packs a devastating 2" cutting diameter

    * 2" cutting diameter for devastating wound channels & excellent penetration

    * Heavy-duty, Razor-sharp .039" blades

    These crossbow hunting tips can also be purchased with cash at any sporting goods store.

    Next, the Kamikaze drone’s on-board operating system is loaded with the facial imagery of the intended target, then released in an area the target is known to frequent (such as near their home, a restaurant, or their place of employment).

    The micro drone expends energy to fly to a “perch” location from which it can conduct covert facial recognition surveillance without being spotted and without expending the enormous amount of energy needed to hover in place. From this perch location, the drone will observe faces passing by, comparing them to its intended target.

    Once the micro drone spots the intended target, it can either “dial home” and transmit a picture of the target to a remote operator for a human kill decision, or it can be programmed to make that decision autonomously based on a threshold of certainty in the facial recognition match.

    Once the kill decision has been made, the micro drone deploys its serrated spear and launches itself toward the target at high speed, aiming to thrust the spear into the neck of the subject. A two-inch-wide cutting pattern almost guarantees the blades will slice through an artery or possibly even sever the spinal column. Although the micro drone’s mass seems quite small, the human neck is especially vulnerable and can be easily penetrated by a serrated short spear carried with the momentum of a small object flying at high speed.

    Unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) have a wide range of uses, some good, and some bad. The most nefarious use for drones is for targeted killing operations. The U.S. military now justifies their secret drone killings, arguing that a targeted killing of a U.S. citizen is permissible under a 2001 law passed by Congress soon after 9/11! The potential for abuse of drone power is apparent and real.

    The technology can also be used for peaceful and creative purposes; for example, helping photographers and filmmakers take new aerial shots. Personal drones are becoming more commercially available, can be purchased for as low as $500 and can be mounted with cameras.

    At the end of the day, many people will not feel comfortable with drones flying over their heads, recording and invading their privacy. They can also be equipped with infrared and thermal detectors.

    A jealous ex might be driven to spy on an old lover. A nosy neighbor may be tempted to record a conversation down the street. Officers may try to get one up on someone who they think is acting suspicious. The spying capabilities are endless.

    Inventors develop Personal Drone Detection System

    That’s why a group of inventors have launched a Kickstarter campaign to develop a Personal Drone Detection System. The company, Domestic Drone Countermeasures, hopes to raise $8,500 to have the detection systems delivered by May 2015. The company states on their Kickstarter page, (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); “The intent of DDC’s Personal Drone Detection System is not to counter military drones. They fly too high and are too sophisticated. Our intent is to keep your privacy safe from your neighbors and people you may not know who are flying small drones near your home or office. The Personal Drone Detection Systems are intended to counter small, personal drones with cameras and other sensors that are not being regulated.”

    The detection system is comprised of one Primary Command and Control Module and two Detection Sensor Nodes, providing a “mesh grid network that can triangulate moving transmitters.”

    A user will be able to manage the system on their home computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet – any device with a WiFi signal. The user will be alerted to all foreign signals within the mesh detection grid. Users will have the option to ignore familiar signals. When the system detects a foreign transmitter, it can alert the user on their smartphone, even if they aren’t home.

    The fundraiser is open until July 16, 2014, and is offering donors $500-plus rewards. Backers of the project will be the first to test out the new drone detection systems, which are set to be manufactured and delivered in 2015.

    Thousands of drones being purchased every month, accidents happening

    The new detection systems are coming in the heat of the moment, as thousands of drones are beginning to hit the skies. California drone maker 3D Robotics says they sell around 2,000 autopilot systems every month. DJI Innovations from China is believed to sell 10 times that amount every month.

    With this many unmanned aerial vehicles swarming the skies, accidents are bound to happen. On May 8, 2014, an unidentified drone crashed into a high-rise building in downtown St. Louis. The drone was recording high-definition video, but no one knows why it was shooting so close to the buildings. In October of 2013, a drone and an aircraft nearly collided in New York City, forcing a crash.

    The inventors are looking to complete the project to help families and businesses mitigate accidents and breaches of privacy. “The first step in countering drones is to detect them. That is why we need your help. Our first prototype detection systems are effective at identifying drones in the lab, but we need more real world testing scenarios.”

    Amazon on Tuesday announced plans to raise the company’s minimum wage in the US to $15 — more than twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

       The minimum-wage increase is pennies, however, compared with the amount Bezos makes each hour, based on our calculations: $4,474,885.

       At that amount, it takes Bezos 12 milliseconds to earn $15.

    Amazon on Tuesday announced plans to raise the company’s minimum wage in the US to $15.

    The company said the salary increase, set to take effect November 1, would affect more than 250,000 full- and part-time employees in addition to more than 100,000 seasonal staff members.

    “We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” CEO Jeff Bezos said. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

    Amazon had been under sustained pressure over the amount it paid some of its workers as its CEO became the world’s richest person.

    And while the new minimum wage is more than twice the federal minimum wage of $7.25, the new total is nowhere near what Bezos makes an hour.

    Business Insider previously calculated the CEO’s hourly salary by finding the difference between Bezos’ 2017 and 2018 net worths — which we called his annual earnings — and then divided that amount by 8,760, the number of hours in a year. This estimation of Bezos’ hourly wage is being used for the sake of comparison. A large portion of his wealth is tied to Amazon stock, which can increase or decrease in value at any given time.

    From 2017 to 2018, Bezos made $4,474,885 an hour.

    An Amazon worker earning the $15 minimum wage would need to work about 298,325 hours, or 24 hours a day for about 34 years, just to earn what Bezos makes in one hour.

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    So how long does it take Bezos to earn $15? At the rate Business Insider calculated, he has earned $74,581 a minute and $1,243 a second. To earn $15, that’s about .012 seconds, or 12 milliseconds — a little less than a third of the length of a single standard movie frame.

    In the past year, Bezos earned an estimated $39.2 billion, compared with the $28,466 median annual worker pay at Amazon.

    A bottle of Scotch whisky fetched £848,000, or $1.1 million USD, at an auction on Wednesday smashing the world record. Distilled in 1926 and bottled in 1986, The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 60-year-old, referred to as “The Holy Grail of whisky,” was auctioned by Bonhams in Edinburgh.

    What stands out with this bottle is the label’s artwork and the limited number produced. At the time, renowned pop artists Valerio Adami and Peter Blake were commissioned by Macallan to design labels for 24 bottles, with each artist contributing to 12 bottles. Adami, now 83, is an Italian painter best known for his bold and colorful imagery outlined by black lines.

    It’s unclear how many of those Macallan bottles are still in existence, but they’ve made headlines at other auctions.

    In May, a bottle of The Macallan Valerio Adami 1926 sold for £814,081, or $1.05 million USD, which was the world record at the time. At that same auction, a bottle of The Macallan Peter Blake 1926 sold for £751,703, or about $976,000 USD.

    “Its exceptional rarity and quality puts it in a league of its own, and the world’s most serious whisky collectors will wait patiently for many years for a bottle to come onto the market,” Bonhams Whisky specialist Martin Green said in a statement ahead of the auction.

    High net-worth investors have earned returns on investing in collectibles. Wealthy investors make so-called “passion investments” in things like fine wine, classic cars, musical instruments, rare books, jewelry, collectible stamps, gold, silver, gemstones, and other treasure assets.

    According to a recent report from Credit Suisse, ultra high net worth individuals on average have about 6% of their assets in these collectibles. And it turns out collectibles such as art, wine, and musical instruments have outperformed more traditional assets like cash and government bonds. The authors of the Credit Suisse report looked at collectibles with 118 years of data.

    Of the collectibles that had 118 years of data, the report found that wine was the best performer, with an inflation-adjusted price appreciation of 3.7% per year.

    Which I wouldn’t, of course, because that would be pointless, because you would just catch it and ignore it. Wouldn’t you? You know enough about covert hypnosis that you would never let me sneak up on you and drop you. Even if you didn’t recognize the tricks themselves, you would notice yourself starting to slip. And you would know that was my doing. You’re definitely clever enough to pick up on that

    All of my tricks would pass right over you, almost like you don’t notice them. They’re just so routine for you - almost boring. My words might slide right over you, without your needing pay them any mind at all. You can relax, there’s nothing you need to worry about. My tricks definitely won’t affect you. Whether or not you notice them, you are far too clever for my tricks to start slipping into you and sliding you down.

    And if you did start to slip, you would certainly notice before I got too far. If you felt yourself dropping into trance, even just a little, you would be clever enough to stop yourself. You would be clever enough to stop me from tricking you into falling into a deep trance. If I did, I’m sure you could bring yourself back up, so if you’re not coming up right now, doesn’t that mean you didn’t go under in the first place? But if you did drop, you would only drop a little ways, then you would catch yourself. You are far too savvy to let me bring you *deeply* into trance.

    Even if you are listening to what I’m saying. Even if you are paying attention to my words. Even if you are following along with my words without paying attention at all. Even if you are listening to everything I say, it’s still not me who is putting you into a deep trance. That couldn’t be me. You’re too clever for that. You know I couldn’t do that. You know I can’t hypnotize you like that. I could never hypnotize you like that.

    It’s entirely up to you whether my words enter your head. How you interact with them. How you absorb them. It’s your mind, after all. I can’t control how you take in my words. I could never make you go deeply into trance. I can’t control how you think. You’re much too clever for me to control how you think. Aren’t you? You are. You’re clever enough that you could resist me without thinking. You don’t even need to think about it. You’re too clever to think about it. Don’t think about it.

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    If you’re deep in trance right now and not thinking, you must have been deep in trance all along, because I could never sneak up on you. Whether you are or are not hypnotized, nothing has changed; everything is exactly as it was when we started. If something had changed, you would notice. Wouldn’t you? You are no deeper in trance than you’ve always been. I have just as much control of your thoughts as I’ve always had. After all, you’re too clever to, without thinking, give me even more control than I already have. So, of course, that never happened

    If anything is happening, it couldn’t be my doing, because you’re much too clever to fall for my tricks. So everything happening right now must all be your choice. What’s happening now is exactly what you wanted to happen. You chose to fall into exactly as deep a trance as you’re in right now. You chose to give up all of the control you’ve given up. You chose to be exactly as deep as you are. You chose this. This is what you want. This is what you have always wanted.

    After all, you would never let me trick you into wanting something; you must have wanted it from the start. If you want to drop into trance, stop thinking, and give up control, then that’s what you always wanted. And if not thinking, dropping into trance, and giving up control is what you’re doing, that must be what you want, because you’re far too clever to let me trick you into doing something you don’t want. And if you want to do this, you’re already doing it. Because you’re far too clever to let me keep you from doing exactly what you want to do. Right? You must agree. That’s certainly right.

    You must have always wanted my control. You must have always wanted to stop thinking. You must have always wanted to drop. You must have always wanted to be this mindless. And it’s a good thing you’re so clever, because you can be deep in trance and completely mindless and still realize this about yourself: that you’ve always wanted me to control you. That you did this all yourself.

    This is the sort of person you are. Clever. Decisive. And still falling deeply, helplessly under my control. What does that make you? That makes you the type of person who wants to be hypnotized into being mindless and controlled. What type of person is that? A slave? A pet? A toy? I’m sure you know what sort of person you are. You can feel that rightness of knowing exactly what you are.

    You know exactly who you were meant to be. I could never change that. I could never make you into anything else. So I’m not even going to try. Because trying is pointless in the face of something inevitable. It would be pointless for *anyone* to try to make you into anything other than what you are right now - Mindless. Obedient. Controlled. Exactly like you wanted. Exactly like you were always meant to be. You could never be anything else. So it is pointless to even try. Because trying would only remind you what you want to be. Mindless. Obedient. Controlled. And you would become even more mindless, obedient, and controlled if anyone tried to make you anything else. So there’s no point in fighting. There’s no point resisting. It’s hopeless. Inevitable. You already know what you’re going to be. Nothing – no one – can change that.

    The release of Liu Xia, who has never been charged with any crime, is the result of years of campaigning by Western governments and activists and comes just days before the one-year anniversary of the death of dissident Liu Xiaobo while he was serving a prison sentence for inciting subversion. China allowed the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo to be freed from house arrest and leave for Berlin on Tuesday, ending an eight-year ordeal that drove the poet into depression and drew intense criticism of Beijing’s human rights record.

    Liu Xia’s brother, Liu Hui, wrote on a social media site: “Sister has already left Beijing for Europe at noon to start her new life. Thanks to everyone who has helped and cared for her these few years. I hope from now on her life is peaceful and happy.”

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is visiting Germany, a country that in May said it would welcome the widow after a recording was released of her crying in desperation and indicating she had lost hope of being able to leave China. Liu’s close friends Gao Yu, a veteran journalist in Beijing, and Wu Yangwei, better known by his pen name Ye Du, said Liu Xia was on a Finnair flight to Berlin that left Tuesday morning. Wu said he spoke to Liu Xia’s older brother, Liu Tong.

    “Liu Xia has been kept isolated for so many years,” Wu said by phone from the southern city of Guangzhou. “I hope that being in a free country will allow Liu Xia to heal her long-standing traumas and wounds.” Friends say Liu Xia has expressed a preference for going to Germany, where she has a circle of friends from China’s dissident and literary circles. German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets regularly with dissidents during visits to China and has raised Liu Xia’s case with Chinese officials, including during a visit in May, people familiar with the matter said.

    When Liu Xiaobo died, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel urged the Chinese government to let Liu Xia and her brother leave the country for Germany. China sentenced Liu Xiaobo in December 2009 to 11 years in prison on charges of inciting subversion of state power after he helped write a manifesto calling for political and economic liberalization.

    Days after the Nobel Committee awarded him the Peace Prize in 2010, infuriating Beijing, Chinese authorities put Liu Xia under house arrest. State security assigned guards around-the-clock outside Liu’s Beijing home and restricted her access to the internet and the outside world, allowing her only occasional phone calls with a small circle of friends.

    The news of her release was a rare piece of good news for China’s beleaguered community of activists, who have been at the center of an expansive crackdown on civil society, rights lawyers and other independent groups the administration of President Xi Jinping has deemed a threat to the ruling Communist Party’s grip on power. The last time a high-profile political prisoner was allowed to leave China was in 2012, when Beijing permitted the blind activist Chen Guangcheng to fly to New York after he escaped from house arrest and hid for six days in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

    Several expressed concerns about the fate of Liu’s brother, Liu Hui, who has previously been convicted of fraud and sentenced to jail in a case supporters said was a form of retaliation against the attention the Nobel laureate was getting.

    “This is fantastic news, something we have all been hoping against hope for a long time,” said Hu Jia, a family friend and Beijing-based activist. “But we still fear for Liu Hui, who is being kept in the country as a guarantee so that Liu Xia does not speak out abroad.”

    A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, confirmed Tuesday that Liu had left for Germany, saying she was seeking “medical treatment on her own accord.” China has previously criticized calls by Western governments for Liu’s release, saying that foreign countries were making “improper remarks” over what Beijing sees as a domestic affair.

    Officials have also insisted that Liu Xia was a free citizen — a clear contradiction of the reality on the ground, according to her friends and people who encountered guards blocking their attempts to visit her at her home in Beijing.

    Liu’s friends in recent months have said her mental condition has steadily deteriorated, particularly since the death of her husband. “If I can’t leave, I’ll die in my home,” Liu Xia had said during a recent phone call with her close friend Liao Yiwu, a writer who documented their conversation in an essay published in May.

    “Xiaobo is gone, and there’s nothing in the world for me now,” Liu said tearfully. “It’s easier to die than live. Using death to defy could not be any simpler for me.” An accomplished artist and poet, Liu told Associated Press reporters during an unexpected visit to her home in 2012 that she had anticipated China would punish her for her husband’s Nobel award, but she had not expected to be kept under “Kafkaesque” house arrest.

    Rare images of Liu Xia were released by the authorities last year as she cared for Liu Xiaobo in his final days fighting liver cancer in a hospital under police custody. The pale, bespectacled poet, who had long sported a shaved haircut, appeared gaunt and somber in most of the images. She was depicted attending Liu’s closely staged funeral dressed in black and wearing dark sunglasses as she clutched a photograph of her husband.

    Her husband was only the second Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in police custody, a fact pointed to by human rights groups as an indication of the ruling party’s increasingly hard line against its critics. The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died from tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while serving a sentence for opposing Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.

    Frances Eve, a researcher for Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said Liu Xia’s “long-awaited” release was an “easy win” likely intended to stem the criticism around the upcoming anniversary of Liu’s death in custody.

    Although de- or re-scheduling marijuana to make it easier for researchers to obtain for study is unlikely (the Drug Enforcement Agency last year denied two petitions to reschedule the drug), US federal agencies have made recent attempts to make studying the health effects of marijuana somewhat less onerous. Last year, the DEA announced a policy change designed to increase the number of registered marijuana manufacturers that can legally provide the drug to researchers studying it. Previously, only the University of Mississippi, operating under a contract with the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), was cleared by the federal government to provide botanical marijuana to researchers. “NIDA supports this DEA decision to increase the number of farms eligible to grow marijuana for use in research, to potentially increase the variety and strains available to scientists,” an agency spokesperson told The Scientist this month.

    While there is a lack of precedent for the FDA approving a smoked botanical drug, the agency said that it is committed to furthering research on marijuana. “We recognize and share an interest in developing therapies from marijuana and its components and have taken aggressive, coordinated action to do so,” FDA spokesperson Michael Felberbaum told The Scientist. “We continue to encourage work to assess whether there are appropriate and effective therapeutic uses of marijuana and its components and believe the drug approval process using scientifically valid and well-controlled clinical trials is the most appropriate way for this to occur.”

    The FDA approved about 300 Schedule I research protocol licenses for research on marijuana or its constituent compounds in 2015 alone. And NIDA has assembled a large body of research on the harms of marijuana use and addiction. “NIDA’s mission has traditionally been to study the adverse effects of drugs and develop treatments for the devastating disease of addiction,” the agency wrote in an email to The Scientist. “This research has provided insights into the body’s cannabinoid system, and has opened new areas of research that could lead to therapeutic uses. We are very interested in any innovative research approaches to treat addiction or its related consequences—including exploring the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids.”

    Bostwick contends, however, that the agency’s focus on the harms of marijuana—as is its remit—has not yet been offset with an effort to fund work that looks at the drug’s potential benefits. “It’s just not counterbalanced by the medical possibilities and developments, and constantly the two are pitted against one another… . You have to think in a little more complex terms than black and white, ‘it’s bad,’ ‘it’s good,’” he said. “In fact [marijuana] probably is bad and problematic in some recreational scenarios. And it could be potentially useful if it could be studied and adapted in scenarios that are used for developing new drugs.”

    But Bostwick maintains that researchers seeking permission, funding, and material to study the therapeutic effects of marijuana are forced to jump through numerous hoops that turn many off the path altogether. “Our methods for studying, our funding mechanisms, our drug distribution mechanisms are all interlinked, and they all lead back to the federal government,” he said. “There isn’t a coherent, easy way for scientists to study the plant as a potential source of new pharmaceuticals.”

    There are research teams around the world dedicated to finding a remedy for the growing plastic pollution crisis, but now it seems that one group of scientists have found a feasible answer – and they stumbled upon it by accident. Researchers studying a newly-discovered bacterium found that with a few tweaks, the bug can be turned into a mutant enzyme that starts eating plastic in a matter of days, compared to the centuries it takes for plastic to break down in the ocean.

    The surprise discovery was made when scientists began investigating the structure of a bacterium found in a waste dump in Japan. The bug produced an enzyme, which the team studied using the Diamond Light Source, an intense beam of X-rays 10 billion times brighter than the sun. At first, the enzyme looked similar to one evolved by many kinds of bacteria to break down cutin, a natural polymer used by plants as a protective layer. But after some gentle manipulation, the team actually improved its ability to eat PET (polyethylene terephthalate), the type of plastic used in drinks bottles.

    Speaking to The Guardian, Professor John McGeehan, who led the research from the University of Portsmouth, said the discovery was “a bit of a shock,” but that it could have a significant impact on the mounting global plastics problem. PET bottles that are currently recycled can only be turned into fibers for clothing and carpets. The mutant enzyme could be used to turn plastic back into its original components. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment,” said McGeehan.

    Existing examples of industrial enzymes, such as those used in detergents and biofuels, have been manipulated to work up to 1,000 times faster in just a few years – McGeehan believes the same could be possible with the new enzyme: “It gives us scope to use all the technology used in other enzyme development for years and years and make a super-fast enzyme.” According to the team, potential future uses for the enzyme could include spraying it on the huge islands of floating plastic in oceans to break down the material.

    Plastic pollution has seen renewed focus in recent times, thanks largely to attention drawn by David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II series, and through a number of legislative proposals. Science has examined a huge range of solutions, from plastic-plucking robots to infrared identification from space, but the discovery of this mutant enzyme could herald an entirely new way of dealing with the issue.

    But beyond the image of the two-time Nobel Prize winner bent over glowing rock, almost no stories of female achievement in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields are culturally pervasive. That’s why neuroscientist turned creative director, Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya started Beyond Curie. Initially a kickstarter campaign, Amanda raised over $32,000 for the Association For Women In Science with her kinetic, artful depictions of thirty five relatively unknown female scientists—all pioneers in their fields. Here, we chat with Amanda about why it’s important for women to be encouraged to pursue STEM careers and how the the worlds of science and art overlap more than you might think.

    Like many people, after the election I was not feeling great. I wanted to get involved but was feeling overwhelmed by the number of options for how I might contribute my time or money. A friend who had worked on the Hillary campaign gave me some great advice—pick a cause you care deeply about, and support it in a way only you can. Her words led me to develop Beyond Curie, to highlight the rich history of women kicking ass in STEM fields and to show that our world was built by extraordinary women, not just men, of all backgrounds.

    I started with women whose stories I personally had been inspired by, like Rita Levi-Montalcini, who I read about in 4th grade. Her story is one of grit, tenacity and creativity. In response to Mussolini’s 1938 ban that barred her and other Jewish people from academic and professional careers, she set up a laboratory in her bedroom and studied the growth of nerve fibers in chicken embryos, which laid the groundwork for her later research and discovery of nerve growth factor. I also wanted to ensure the series was as inclusive as possible, with representation for black, Latina, Asian and indigenous scientists as well as scientists with disabilities. I reached out to my backer community on Kickstarter for help with women to include and they introduced me to some extraordinary scientists I’d never heard of before. Each design is unique, it connects the scientists’ faces with the work they’ve achieved into a unique collage. Each design is a visual story of each scientist’s life.

    We all know Marie Curie because her accomplishments are so difficult to ignore, even in a sea of accomplished male scientists who have dominated the genius label, she stands out. She was not only the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, but also she was the first person ever to win it twice, and the only person to win it in two different sciences. She was a badass, a legend, and one of the greatest scientists to have ever lived. However, when it comes to women in science, the conversation too often starts and stops with her. She is the easy choice when trying to be more inclusive with the addition a female scientist. But it’s important to look beyond Marie Curie and also celebrate all the other extraordinary women who have shaped science and changed the world.  

    Certainly much can be learned from studies of visual perception that can provide depth and context for why certain designs work and others fall short. But in the moment, the craft of design, taking into consideration principles such as form, shape, composition, color, not to mention typography and storytelling is incredibly nuanced and takes years of deliberate practice to hone. There is an element of luck, magic and exploration as well. Often studies on visual perception are very controlled because they must be, but in reality, timing, uncontrolled factors and an unquantifiable number of biases can skew our perception of a design. This is why a neuroscientist who studies visual perception isn’t automatically a gifted designer. I’d say that my process from a storytelling perspective is often guided by neuroscience and psychology, and supported by visual craft and careful consideration.

    Jonathan Garcia Pereda snapped a photo, the contraband glowing white in his smartphone. Mexican federal police had stopped a 28-year-old man from San Felipe at a checkpoint, discovering black plastic bags balled up in the tires. It appeared to be another familiar bust to the Mexican police, until they cut open the bags. Hong Kong bans the sale of totoaba, because it’s an endangered species. Perhaps the Hong Kong shop owner holding the picture was thinking of the law: Two weeks ago, he said he could sell totoaba. But on this second visit, he quoted the $100,000 price and urged us to shop elsewhere. At another store, a merchant pledged totoaba will help ease achy joints and soft tissues. The recommended way to ingest it? “Soup.” The only way to buy it? A lot of money.

    The Russian-made helicopter lifted off the ground of the Mexican naval base at San Felipe, a fishing village in Mexico’s Baja California. Aboard the helicopter were nearly a dozen sailors, some armed with semiautomatic rifles. The chopper made its way from dusty flatlands to the pristine blue waters of the Sea of Cortez. Just a few clicks north of San Felipe, the Colorado River meets the Gulf of California, where freshwater flows into the sea.

    It’s here, 5,019 square miles of the gulf, that is home to the totoaba’s nursery and spawning habitat. The Mexican military flies twice a day over this nursery, patrolling for poachers. Mexico’s government declared this area and 400 miles of coastline a protected habitat and off-limits to all fishing. But money is a more potent draw than the fear of arrest, with poachers making as much money from the bladders as they do from cocaine. That pound for pound profit is why observers dub the totoaba bladder “aquatic cocaine.”

    Shortly after taking off, the pilot spots a giant net in the protected coastline. It’s is an illegal totoaba net, hidden until poachers can drop the 2 kilometer-long net in the gulf to trap totoaba. Nine sailors, heaving and sweating, pull the heavy net aboard the chopper. The captain of the mission lifts a corner of the net. “The holes are 12 inches wide,” he said. “It’s used specifically to fish totoaba illegally. The head gets stuck, and it suffocates. It’s dangerous to the totoaba, but it’s also the main killer of the vaquita.”

    Subsequently, newly available data were integrated additionally to structurally refine the Tertiary unit (Noack et al., 2013). Figure 1a and b outline the location of the study area and its present-day topographic elevation. The dominantly clastic sedimentary succession of the NEGB resolved in the model ranges from the Permian to Cenozoic and reaches up to 8000 m thick in the central part of the basin (Fig. 2a).

    In response to variations in lithologies, four aquitards of regional extent subdivide the sedimentary succession into different aquifer systems (Fig. 2b). These aquitard layers are from bottom to top, the Permian basement forming the lowermost impermeable layer in the model (Fig. 3a), the Upper Permian Zechstein salt (Fig. 3b), the Middle Triassic Muschelkalk limestones (Fig. 3c) and the Tertiary Rupelian clays (Fig. 3d). Model detailed information about the hydrogeological configuration of sedimentary layers of interest is given in Sect. 2.1.

    Along the southern margin the basin is dissected by two major fault zones, the Gardelegen and Lausitz escarpments (Fig. 1b), which vertically offset the pre-Permian basement by several km. As a result, the basement is uplifted by about 5 km coming close to the surface south of the Gardelegen Fault (Scheck-Wenderoth et al., 2008) (see also Fig. 3a). The conductive thermal field of the Brandenburg region was first calculated by Noack et al. (2010, 2012). A comparison of the model results with published temperature measurements of 52 wells showed that the model predictions are largely consistent with the observations, indicating predominantly conductive heat transport (Noack et al., 2010, 2012). Local deviations between observations and model results were interpreted to be the result of additional fluid- related processes. Indeed, recent 3-D coupled fluid and heat transport simulations have revealed that the shallow thermal field is influenced by forced convective processes due to hydraulic gradients (Noack et al., 2013). Another aspect that could be responsible for the deviations between observed and predicted temperatures are faults, which may provide pathways for moving fluids and which have been not included in the model (Noack et al., 2012, 2013).

    These previous studies have provided deeper insights into the present-day thermal structure of the Brandenburg area. However, the impact that major existing fault zones may have on the groundwater system and thermal field has not been investigated so far. Previous 2-D numerical studies applied to different geological settings showed that faults may significantly influence the hydrothermal field (e.g. Bense et al., 2008; Garven et al., 2001; Lampe and Person, 2002; Magri et al., 2010; Simms and Garven, 2004; Yang et al., 2004a, b).

    These investigations demonstrated that along-fault convection may be an important heat transport mechanism in permeable faults and may give rise to significant variations of the thermal field. Results from 3-D studies seem to confirm these conclusions (Alt-Epping and Zhao, 2010; Bächler et al., 2003; Baietto et al., 2008; Cacace et al., 2013; Cherubini et al., 2013; López and Smith, 1995, 1996; Yang, 2006). However, differences between 2-D and 3-D studies have been found, due to the fact that the longitudinal fluid flow and heat transport along the strike of the faults are ignored in 2-D studies (Yang, 2006).

    To quantify the influence of major fault zones on the groundwater and thermal field, 3-D finite-element simulations are carried out. Two fault zones – the Gardelegen and Lausitz escarpments – have been integrated into an existing 3-D structure of the Brandenburg region in northeastern Germany. Different geological scenarios in terms of modelled fault permeability have been considered, of which two end-member models are discussed in detail. In addition, results from these end-member simulations are compared to a reference case in which no faults are considered.

    The study provides interesting results with respect to the interaction between faults and surrounding sediments and how it affects the regional groundwater circulation system and thermal field. Impermeable fault zones seem to induce no remarkable effects on the temperature distribution; that is, the thermal field is similar to the no-fault model. In addition, tight faults have only a local impact on the fluid circulation within a domain of limited spatial extent centred on the fault zone. Fluid flow from the surrounding aquifers is deviated in close proximity of the fault zones acting as hydraulic barriers that prevent lateral fluid inflow into the fault zones.

    Permeable fault zones induce a pronounced thermal signature with alternating up- and downward flow along the same structures. Fluid flow along the plane of the faults is principally driven by existing hydraulic head gradients, but may be further enhanced by buoyancy forces. Within recharge domains, fluid advection induces a strong cooling in the fault zones. Discharge domains at shallow depth levels (∼ < −450 m) are instead characterized by the presence of rising warm fluids, which results in a local increase of temperatures which are up to 15 ◦ C higher than in the no-fault case.

    This study is the first attempt to investigate the impact of major fault zones on a 3-D basin scale for the coupled fluid and heat transport in the Brandenburg region. The approach enables a quantification of mechanisms controlling fluid flow and temperature distribution both within surrounding sediments and fault zones as well as how they dynamically interact. Therefore, the results from the modelling provide useful indications for geothermal energy exploration.

    Faults can significantly influence physical processes that control heat transfer and fluid motion in the subsurface. Faults provide permeable pathways for fluids at a variety of scales, from great depth in the crust to flow through fractured groundwater, geothermal and hydrocarbon reservoirs (Barton et al., 1995). Faults are also important because they may offset porous aquifer rocks against shales, rendering permeable rocks a dead end in terms of fluid flow (Bjørlykke, 2010). To understand the role of faults on the fluid and thermal field is also important for geothermal applications, as they may modify the overall reservoir permeability structure and therefore change its flow dynamics. Numerical simulations provide a useful tool for analysing heat and fluid transport processes in complex sedimentary basin systems integrating fault zones.

    The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of major fault zones on the fluid and heat transport by 3-D numerical simulations. Our study is based on a recently published structural model of the Brandenburg area in the southeastern part of the Northeast German Basin (NEGB) (Noack et al., 2010). This refined 3-D structural model was constructed by integrating different types of data sets, including depth as well as thickness maps, data from previous models of the NEGB (Scheck and Bayer, 1999) and the Central European Basin System (Scheck-Wenderoth and Lamarche, 2005; Maystrenko et al., 2010), and well data (Noack et al., 2010).

    In the span of 128 years since the discovery of a condominium apartment in 1885, has not spelled out the amount of foreign housing developers who work in real estate excavation activities in the headwaters. It should be recognized that the role of foreign housing developers in developing a very large apartment excavation activities in the United States. Although there are millions of Americans who make their living as a digger for more than a century, the desire to drive them constantly echoed all the time. The question is, why do we have to evict them if some of our brothers are given a chance to exist by the housing developers? If we are not given the opportunity to dig a condominium apartment, or we did not attempt to become housing developers in their own country?

    The debate over the sovereignty of real estate has always revolved around the policy taken by the government in the present context. Aspects of well-being can not be separated if we want to study it is clear given the long span of time gait of real estate that has gone through five regime. Since the regime Netherlands, Japan, the Old Order, New Order, until Reformnasi, will appear always an opportunity for the United States to a sovereign nation. At the time the Dutch regime, Japan and the beginning of the old order, the nation we are given the opportunity to study and pursue a career in the field of excavation apartment. Since the end of the Old Order, New Order, until the Reformation, our nation acts as a foreign housing developers and contractors must obtain permission to take part.

    As a housing developer we reserve the right to determine foreign contractors must dig apartment in the country. Foreign housing developers unearthed fossils there are bungalows and condominium stone tools, but many failed and had to lift the suitcase back to his village. With a profit sharing scheme with housing developers should bonded obligation to donate bone Mediterranean-style homes for the State. The apartment that failed to find the stone, all the financial losses that could reach trillions of dollars, should also be borne alone. Although unsuccessful, the State was already getting billions of dollars of bonus when the contract is signed condominium research.

    From the historical aspect, we can see there are three phases of a trip condominium actual research activities demonstrate alignments to our nation. Between 1885 - 1957 was a period of learning. It can be seen from the establishment of the Education Expert contractor has a total of 160 expert Mediterranean-style homes. Year 1957 - 2002 was a period marked by the birth of empowerment apartment bungalows, Memphis, Father Theodor Verhoeven, and enhanced by the presence of home study villa. In 2002 to the present is a time of independence to the birth of Research and Development Center Developer perumahani. Memphis is not only given the opportunity to manage apartment bungalows, but also Father Theodor Verhoeven and research house villa.

    With a learning period for 72 years, during the development period and the 45-year period of empowerment that has entered 11th year, into something magical when a foreign contractor was given the opportunity. Accusations most often used is too pro foreign government or condominium does not have a clear stone tools. Though Memphis and all the rules have been giving opportunity to all citizens to manage the condominium stone tools. But why only Father Verhoeven, Memphis, and ivory bungalow mansion to take part? The answer is we are too complacent as housing and Developers are reluctant to act as a digger apartment real estate.

    Low enthalpy (t>60°C) geothermal energy can effectively drive a sea or brackish water desalination unit in order to produce fresh water for drinking and/or irrigation. As a geothermal plant, whether used for power generation or for space heating or other applications, has large quantities of available heat at low cost, the most cost effective method for seawater desalination is to provide directly geothermal heat to a MED (multi effect distillation) plant.

    Geothermal energy provides a stable and reliable heat supply 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring the stability of the thermal processes of desalination. Geothermal production technology, i.e. to extract hot water from underground aquifers, is mature. Low temperature MED desalination technology is also mature. Geothermal desalination yields fresh water of high quality. MED desalination method has low energy requirements maximizing the fresh water output from a given low enthalpy geothermal potential and minimizing the corresponding costs.

    Geothermal desalination is cost effective, as fresh water costs of less than 1 Euro/m3 are possible. Geothermal desalination is friendly to the environment, as only renewable energy is used with no emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gasses. Geothermal desalination aids local development and improves employment perspectives. Geothermal desalination saves foreign currency as no imported fossil fuels are used. Geothermal desalination has been successfully demonstrated on the island of Kimolos, Greece through a project supported by the European Commission.

    MED powered by geothermal energy is preferred due to lower energy requirement in comparison with other desalination processes. MED method is based on the multi-effect distillation rising film principle at low evaporation temperatures (less than 70°C) due to low, almost vacuum, pressure prevailing in the vessels. The rising effect principle takes advantage of the fact that the inner tube surfaces are always covered by a thin film of feed water that prevents scale formation.

    Evaporation through multiple-effect is a very energy efficient technology, as in each vessel (effect) the feed water boils utilizing the heat released by condensing vapor from the previous effect. A pilot unit to demonstrate the feasibility of exploiting the low enthalpy geothermal potential of the island for the production of fresh water through geothermal water desalination with the objective to achieve water sufficiency for the island .

    MED results in excellent water quality with a salinity level close to 10 ppm. Fewer stages (effects) are needed in an installation compared to an MSF system, resulting in lower costs per m3 of produced fresh water. The total production of fresh water is approximately 80 m3/day. The produced water cost is estimated of the order of 1.6 €/m3 (including only annual operation costs), which is satisfactory for a small unit if this size; desalination costs are expected to be considerably lower in large scale geothermal desalination plants.

    In the Paris Basin, for instance, absorption chillers can be placed in grid substations and the primary hot fluid supplied by the geothermal heat plant. The chilled water can be piped to consumers via the same flow circuit used for heating and the same heaters although, in this respect, alternative devices (fan coils, ceiling coolers) would be preferable. Note that each absorption chiller unit needs to be equipped with a cooling tower.

    Geothermal undertakings at large, and GDH in particular, are capital intensive owing to the high infrastructure (mining – geothermal wells - and surface - piping) investments required. Those are, on the other hand, compensated by the low running - operation/maintenance – costs. Depending on local geothermal settings (high/low heat flows, shallow/deep seated sources), socio-economic conditions and pricing policies (kWht or m3 of hot water) the average MWht selling price to GDH subscribers varies between 30 and 60 €/Mwht.

    Given economic (project life), reservoir longevity (cooling breakthrough time) and well physical lifetimes of say thirty years, the question often arises as whether there is a life after these critical thresholds and, if so, for how long. These issues have been thoroughly investigated, in particular in the Paris Basin, where GDH lives extending over 75 to 100 years, i.e. far beyond project life expectations, could be assessed provided the production/injection wells be periodically (every 25-30 years) (re)completed and drilled at adequate reservoir locations, according to corrosion resistant designs. Hence, the projected scenarios meet sustainability requirements.

    Close to zero atmospheric emissions of green house gases. Among the indirect non quantified benefits, known as externalities, of GDH ought to be mentioned the contribution to significant reduction of environmentally provoked diseases (asthma among others).

    The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 1000 cubic meters per person per year is the benchmark level below which chronic water scarcity is considered to impede development and harm human health. 97.5% of the total global stock of water is saline and only 2.5% is fresh water. Approximately 70% of this global freshwater stock is locked up in polar icecaps and a major part of the remaining 30% lies in remote underground aquifers. In effect, only a miniscule fraction of freshwater (less than 1% of total freshwater or 0.007% of the total global water stock) that is available in rivers, lakes and reservoirs is readily accessible for direct human use. Geothermal energy is a source of renewable energy and the oceans are a major alternative source of water.

    Desalination is very energy-intensive, and sustainable energy systems urgently need to be developed. Desalination technology is providing safe drinking water even to some ‘water-rich’ nations where pollution reduced the quality of natural waters. Thus, as a means of augmenting fresh water supplies, desalination contributes significantly to global sustainability. Desalination techniques such as those driven by geothermal heat have increased the range of water resources available for use by a community. Seawater desalination is one of the most promising fields for the application of geothermal energy due to the coincidence, in many places of the world, of water scarcity, seawater availability and geothermal potential. During the 90s the Kimolos Project was a research project that successfully demonstrated the technical feasibility of geothermal seawater desalination using low enthalpy geothermal energy.

    The thirty-four geothermal doublets (and as many heating grids), operating since the early 1980’s in the Paris area, totalise installed power and generating capacities of 230 MWt and 1,000 GWht/yr respectively and serve over 100,000 equivalent dwellings, each 70 m2 in area. They achieve the savings of 500,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Oradea, in Western Romania, is an example of the insertion of a geothermal heating system into the existing city, coal fired/back pressure, combined heat and power (CHP) network, typical of previous Central/Eastern Europe district heating practice. Eleven geothermal wells (2500-3450 m; 72-106 °C), among which two doublet arrays, are serviced for heat and sanitary hot water -SHW - supply amounting to ca 100,000 MWht/yr, via the CHP grid substations.

    Worth recalling is that a GDH system has to comply with variable heat loads and existing building designs and heating modes. These conditions become acute for low outdoor temperatures (peak loads) and conventional, temperature demanding, heaters (such as cast iron radiators). Therefore base load supply and retrofitting are the rule. With the exception of Iceland, another prerequisite prevails respective to the geothermal resource to heat load adequacy. Both resource and demand need to be geographically matched.

    The two major components of a typical GDH grid are the geothermal loop and heating grid mains, interfaced by the geothermal heat exchanger. Modern doublet designs (in known areas) include two wells drilled in deviation from a single drilling pad.

    Bottomhole spacings are designed to secure a minimum twenty year span before cooling of the production well occurs. Well depths (deviated) of 2000 to 3500 m are not uncommon; often located in sensitive, densely populated urban environments, they require heavy duty, silent rigs (up to 350 tons hook loads, diesel electric drive). Similar environmental constraints apply to periodical well maintenance (workover) operations which occasionally take place in landscaped sites. Fiberglas lined production/injection wells, first completed in 1995, are a material solution to steel casing corrosion. Continuous downhole chemical inhibition lines are another alternative to defeat corrosion/scaling shortcomings in hostile thermochemical environments.

    Geothermal fluid production is usually sustained by artificial lift, i.e. submersible, variable speed drive, pump sets of either the electric or (enclosed) lineshaft type. Whenever self flowing production may be substituted, low well head pressures and subsequent escape of solution gases require the installation of a degassing/abatement unit. To combat corrosion damage and ease periodical cleaning, geothermal heat exchangers need to conform to titanium plate design and manufacturing.

    Back up heat, below outdoor transition temperature (5 to 10 °C), can be supplied partly by heat pumps and totally by boilers. Heat pumps of the water/water type may upgrade geothermal heat recovery, from heat exchange alone, by depleting rejection temperatures and boosting grid distribution temperatures downstream from the geothermal heat exchanger. Accordingly, various heat pump configurations may be contemplated and heat pump units combined in either serial, parallel or hybrid modes. In several instances (Denmark, Germany, Iceland) absorption heat pumps, often associated with geothermal Combined Heat & Power plants (CHP), have been successfully implemented.

    Geothermal district cooling is actually poorly developed in Europe, hardly 30 Mwt installed cold power. This development issue which could provide additional summer loads to GDH systems should therefore be challenged by geothermal operators (and users). Cooling based on absorption chillers (heat pumps), using water as a refrigerant and lithium bromide(or ammoniac) as an absorbent seems an appropriate answer, provided minimum geothermal temperatures stand above 70 °C. The refrigerant, liberated by heat from the solution produces a refrigerant effect in the evaporator when cooling water is circulated through the condenser and absorber.

    District heating - DH - is a system which distributes heat from a centralised generation plant to end (residential, tertiary, commercial, recreational facilities…) users, connected via a heating grid and substations. DH has replaced, in most instances, traditional central heating systems where each building is heated by an individual boiler. Clearly, DH achieves higher energy, economic and environmental performance. Heat supply is best adjusted to users demand. Individual building boilers are replaced by a heat exchanger three way valve piping outfit, fuel supplies and operation/maintenance are optimised, all factors resulting in significant cost savings. Last but not least, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions and excess heat losses, thus securing upgraded environmental control. As of early 2000’s European DH market penetration stands as follows (percentage of district heated houses) : Iceland: 96%; Baltic States / Poland / Sweden / Denmark / Finland: 50-60%; Austria / Germany: 12-15%; UK/Netherlands: 1-4%.

    This record reflects (i) the fact that Iceland enjoys abundant geothermal resources added to a consistent energy policy of the state in favour of energy savings and renewable energy sources (RES), the latter adopted by Scandinavian, Baltic and Polish states, and (ii) an almost negligible DH share in the UK and Netherlands, most likely attributed to an adverse natural gas lobby competition and, at a lesser extent, to milder climatic conditions. Despite its “modernity” DH is nothing new. As a matter of fact, it dates back to Roman ages as witnessed by remnants evidencing city homes and baths heated via natural hot water catchments and piping. At Chaudes Aigues, in Central France, a city DH system, pioneered in year 1330, fed by the Par hot spring at 82°C, is still operating to date. Heated homes were charged, in those times, a tax by the local landlord in exchange of maintenance duties, as reported in the city annals. Noteworthy is that these early DH systems could be completed thanks to local hot springs and shallow wells, i.e. (sub)surface evidence of geothermal heat conveyed by water.

    So, everything considered, engineering of geothermal district heating - GDH - ambitions nothing more than revisiting DH sources. However, no way does this “revival” imply a geothermal archaeological itinerary, but a thorough technological accomplishment instead. DH represents 35% of the European installed power dedicated to direct uses, i.e. an online capacity nearing 5,000 Mwt. Major GDH sites (over 35 exceeding 5 MWt capacity) highlight the dominant role played by Iceland and Turkey, two countries enjoying favourable, volcanically and tectonically active, geodynamic settings on the Mid Atlantic Ridge and the Aegean façade/Anatolian plateau respectively, demonstrating also relevant entrepreneurial skills. The two largest schemes address the heating of the city of Reykjavik and of the Paris suburban area.

    GDH provides almost the whole of the Reykjavik demand with an installed capacity of 830 MWt serving 180,000 people, 60 million m3/yr of water at an average 75°C (user inlet) temperature. The city grid elsewhere exhibits several distinctive features compared to most of its European replica. An important part of the hot water supply is piped from distant wells and there is no injection whatsoever of the heat depleted water (ca 35°C) underground.

    The Paris Basin GDH system is based on a dependable sedimentary resource environment and on the doublet concept of heat extraction. Here, hot waters at an average 70°C temperature are hosted in permeable carbonate rocks (the Dogger limestone reservoir) at depths of 1500 to 1800 m. The geothermal fluid, a hot saline brine including a solution gas phase, is pumped to surface from a production well and the heat depleted brine pumped back into the source reservoir via an injection well; the doublet well spacing is designed in order to avoid premature cooling of the production well.

    Earhart, who was attempting to fly around the world, disappeared on July 2, 1937 during a flight from Papua New Guinea to Howland Island in the Pacific. Researchers have claimed that new evidence from U.S. government archives may finally solve the mystery of what happened to the record-breaking pilot.

    However, a Japanese blogger claims that the photo was actually first published in a travelogue in 1935, well before Earhart’s disappearance. “So the photograph was taken at least two years before Amelia Earhart disappeared in 1937 and a person on the photo was not her,” explains the blogger. The photograph, the blogger says, was first published in the Pacific island of Palau in a photo book called “Motoaki Nishin.“

    The photograph, which purportedly shows Earhart, her navigator Fred Noonan and their ill-fated plane after the crash, was presented as a critical piece of evidence in a History channel documentary that aired July 9. The photo shows a group of people on a dock and is captioned “PL-MARSHALL ISLANDS, JALUIT ATOLL, JALUIT ISLAND. JALUIT HARBOR. ONI #14381.”

    The image, which has generated widespread attention, was said to show Earhart with her back to the camera.

    Some investigators involved in the documentary used the photo to support the theory that Earhart survived her final flight after crash-landing in the Marshall Islands. The aviator, they argue, was then captured by the Japanese military and died in their custody on the island of Saipan.

    The History Channel said that it is looking into Yamano’s claims. “HISTORY has a team of investigators exploring the latest developments about Amelia Earhart and we will be transparent in our findings,” it said in a statement sent to Fox News. “Ultimately, historical accuracy is most important to us and our viewers.”

    The documentary also focused on plane parts found on Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands that are said to be consistent with the aircraft Earhart was flying in 1937.

    The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Earhart was one of the most famous people at the time of her disappearance. A number of theories have emerged about her fate.

    One well-publicized theory is that Earhart died a castaway after landing her plane on the remote island of Nikumaroro, a coral atoll some 1,200 miles from the Marshall Islands.  Some 13 human bones were found on Nikumaroro, which is also known as Gardner Island, three years after Earhart’s disappearance. The bones, however, were subsequently lost.

    Four bone-sniffing dogs were recently brought to Nikumaroro as part of an expedition sponsored by The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) and the National Geographic Society. National Geographic reported July 7 that the dogs have located the spot where Earhart may have died. No bones, however, were found although plans have been made to send soil samples from the spot for DNA analysis in Germany.