It’s not often that a U.S. first lady’s gift makes news — years after the fact — but Michelle Obama’s 2009 present to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has sparked some comment among free trade boosters and guitar pickers. The gift in question: a Gibson Hummingbird guitar.
Gibson Guitar Corp. has been making some news of its own this week, which is why those in Washington with long memories recalled the gift to the music-loving French first lady. Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz was in town to raise awareness about a problem he has with a long-standing U.S. law aimed at curbing illegal trafficking in tropical hardwoods, among other materials. Federal agents raided two of his Tennessee factories and confiscated more than $1 million worth of rosewood, ebony and finished guitars. No charges have been filed but Gibson’s chief says he is being investigated for possible violation of the Lacey Act of 1900. Read more about that here.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Clean cookstoves that burn more efficiently and channel smoke outside could save millions of lives around the world, but only if the cooks themselves are part of the solution, scientists reported on Thursday.
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (cleancookstoves.org), headed by the United Nations Foundation and championed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, seeks to cut down on indoor air pollution in some of the globe’s poorest countries, where the most common way to cook is on an open fire inside the home.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Gibson Guitar Corp.’s chief slammed the U.S. government on Wednesday for sending armed agents to raid two Tennessee factories under a law aimed at curbing the illegal harvest of tropical hardwoods.
“Armed people came in our factory … evacuated our employees, then seized half a million dollars of our goods without any charges having been filed,” Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz told reporters and others at a Washington lunch.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hate mornings, especially on Mondays? You may be surprised to know that much of the world doesn’t share that grumpy feeling.
Twitter shows people are more cheerful in the morning, get gloomier as the day wears on and rebound in the evening, with a peak right before bedtime. They’re also happier from December to late June, when days gradually lengthen in the Northern Hemisphere.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Mercury may have a lot in common with Earth, but close-up images and data captured by NASA’S MESSENGER probe this year show it’s still a bit of a planetary weirdo.
Just like Earth, Mercury has lava flows. But these are deep flows that smoothly cover the small planet’s northern polar region, with no Earth-type volcanoes in sight.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Summer monsoons that provide up to 80 percent of the water South Asia needs have gotten drier in the past half century, possibly due to aerosol particles spewed by burning fossil fuels, climate scientists said on Thursday.
Monsoon rains are driven by looping air circulation patterns over India, and the aerosols appear to have interfered with these patterns, researchers reported in the journal Science.
Amid the worry about water and food scarcity, some hints of good news: a five-year, 30-nation analysis suggests there might be enough water – and therefore enough food — for Earth’s hungriest and thirstiest as the human population heads toward the 9 billion mark sometime around mid-century.
Anxiety about food and water supplies stems in part from the effects of climate change, with its projected rise in droughts, wildfires, floods and other events that cut down on food production. Another factor is the increase in population, much of it grouped around water sources in the developing world. But water experts said at a conference this week in Brazil that there could be plenty of water over the coming decades if those upstream collaborate with those downstream and use water more efficiently.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A solar storm born of a monster sunspot delivered a “glancing blow” to Earth, with little impact on electrical systems, U.S. space weather experts said on Tuesday.
“The current storm is probably at its end,” said Joe Kunches, a scientist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. “It seems that the solar wind that was really energized … seems to have passed us by.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Major river basins in Africa, Asia and Latin America could sustainably double food production in some of the poorest parts of the globe in the next few decades, water experts reported on Monday.
But myriad competing claims on the water — from industry, cities and power producers among others — may stand in the way of a big increase in food production.
At the U.S. Energy Department’s Solar Decathlon, visitors can try on — OK, tour — these avant garde houses, knowing at least that they’re supremely energy efficient. And with the solar power industry on the defensive after the Solyndra bankruptcy, it’s a decent showcase for new technologies.