Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quake brings down houses on Indonesia's Sumatra

Reuters, Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:13am EDT

PADANG, Indonesia, Sept 30 (Reuters) - A major earthquake of magnitude 7.6 struck off the city of Padang on the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island on Wednesday, damaging houses, bringing down bridges and starting fires, a witness said.

It was unclear if there were any casualties.

The quake was felt around the region, with some high-rise buildings in the city state of Singapore, 275 miles (440 km) to the northeast, evacuating their staff.

A regional tsunami warning was issued, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre. Japan said no tsunami was expected there.

"Hundreds of houses have been damaged along the road. There are some fires, bridges are cut and there is extreme panic here maybe because water pipes are broken and there is flooding in the streets," said a Reuters witness in the city.

Phone lines were down.

Padang, the capital of Indonesia's West Sumatra province, sits on one of the world's most active fault lines along the "Ring of Fire" where the Indo-Australia plate grinds against the Eurasia plate to create regular tremors and sometimes quakes.

A 9.15 magnitude quake, with its epicentre roughly 600 km (373 miles) northwest of Padang, caused the 2004 tsunami which killed 232,000 people in Indonesia's Aceh province, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, and other countries across the Indian Ocean.

The depth of Wednesday's earthquake was measured at 85 km (53 miles), the United States Geological Survey said. It revised down the magnitude of the quake from 7.9 to 7.6.

A series of tsunamis earlier on Wednesday smashed into the Pacific island nations of American and Western Samoa killing possibly more than 100 people, some washed out to sea, destroying villages and injuring hundreds.

Geologists have long said Padang, with a population of 900,000, may one day be destroyed by a huge earthquake because of its location.

"Padang sits right in front of the area with the greatest potential for an 8.9 magnitude earthquake," said Danny Hilman Natawidjaja, a geologist at the Indonesian Science Institute, in February.

"The entire city could drown" in a tsunami triggered by such a quake, he warned.

Several earthquake-prone parts of the country hold tsunami practice drills, and the national disaster service sends alerts via telephone text messages to subscribers.

But some experts have long said Indonesia needs to do more to reduce the risk of catastrophe.

Padang needed to invest in better infrastructure, including more roads and other escape routes, said Hugh Goyder, a consultant for the United Nations' International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, earlier in the year.

"The road goes parallel to the coast, which means it's difficult in some areas to get away from the coast," Goyder said, adding that in one part of the city, the only escape route is a narrow bridge. (Reporting by Telly Nathalia, Writing by Nick Macfie, Editing by Sanjeev Miglani))

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Massive backlog

The Jakarta Post | Wed, 09/30/2009 9:34 AM

Police in Paser, East Kalimantan, inspect timber logged illegally in Panajam and Paser districts on Tuesday. Recent police raids have netted more than 16,000 logs, making it the largest haul in several years. National Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri visited the site Tuesday. JP/Nuni Sulaiman

Monday, September 28, 2009

Govt to make ‘temulawak’ ‘jamu’ an icon of Indonesia

The Jakarta Post | Mon, 09/28/2009 8:38 AM

The government is working to establish temulawak, or Java turmeric, as an icon of Indonesia, on the grounds that the country has the most varieties of the herb.

State Minister for Research and Technology Kusmayanto Kadiman told a press conference in Jakarta on Sunday that research is currently underway to prove that the medicinal plant, whose Latin name is Curcuma xanthorrhiza Roxb, merits to be recognized as a classic Indonesian icon.

“Our researchers in etnobotany are confident that they can prove that Indonesia has the most varieties of ‘temulawak’,” he said.

“We also have social-anthropology researchers tracing the existence of the herb in the past, by looking at paintings in caves or reliefs in temples,” he added.

The next step, he said, would be to research how to use the herb, which naturally tastes bitter, in cooking.

“We have to make ‘temulawak’ part of our daily lives, in food, cosmetics, medicine or supplements; we don’t want other countries claiming it as their own,” he added.

Temulawak is used as an ingredient in most traditional herbal medicine, known locally as jamu. It is said to have anti-inflammation, anti-microbe, cholesterol reducing, and anti-cancer properties, and is widely used to treat stiff muscles and liver disease.

Charles Saerang, chairman of the Indonesian Herbal and Traditional Medicines Entrepreneurs Association (GP Jamu), said Indonesia was the largest temulawak producer in the world, with the best varieties of the herb found in Central Java, particularly in the Semerang area.

Indonesia, however, lags behind other countries that have long patented some properties of the herb and developed temulawak products.

Charles said South Korea, a major player in the international market for herbal medicines with ginseng, had researched the use of the herb as an ingredient in daily products.

Yaya Rukayadi, an Indonesian scientist working as a research professor at Yonsei University in South Korea, said his research had been used by corporate giant LG as an ingredient for toothpaste products.

“We are also developing anti-dandruff shampoo and an anti-aging cream from ‘temulawak’,” he added.

Kusmayanto said scientists like Yaya are what the country needs if it wants to advance in developing its natural biodiversity.

He acknowledged that Indonesia’s best scientists were opting for institutions abroad because of lack of appreciation at home.

However, he said, the ministry was working to attract more researchers on medicinal plants for jamu in the coming years.

“We will increase the funding for research tenders; we have spent Rp 100 billion [US$10 million] for 2009 and will allocate Rp 300 billion for 2010,” he said.

Charles lamented the government had taken so long to see that jamu could be a superior product.

“I tried to put it before the minds of many ministers before Kusmayanto, but to no avail. Now, I finally succeeded and made one realize the potential of jamu, but it’s only days before his term ends,” he said. (adh)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dieng crater lake spews hot mud

The Jakarta Post | Sun, 09/27/2009 5:53 PM

Authorities in the vicinity of Mount DIeng, Central Java, are checking for toxic gas emissions, after the Sileri crater lake on the volcano spewed hot mud into the air Saturday.

"The seismic activity ran from 8 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. yesterday," Mt. Dieng observation post official Tunut Pujiarjo said as quoted by

"We’ll check whether hazardous gases have been leaked."

Tunut added the area would temporarily be closed off to tourists.

"They’ll only be allowed to view the crater from 500 meters away," he said.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Watermelon 'has same effect as Viagra'

BBC, By Tulip Mazumdar, Newsbeat health reporter

Eating watermelon has a similar effect on the body to Viagra, according to researchers in the US.

It's down to a chemical called citrulline which is found in the juicy fruit.

Watermelons are loaded with anti-oxidants which are good for the skin

Citrulline is an organic compound which affects the body's blood vessels in the same way as the sex enhancement pills.

It helps relax the blood vessels which means blood gets around the body more easily.

The research comes from the US' Texas Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Centre.

Dr Bhimu Patil led the research. He said: "We've always known that watermelon is good for you, but the list of its very important healthful benefits grows longer with each study.

"Watermelon may not be as organ specific as Viagra... but it's a great way to relax blood vessels without any drug side-effects."

It's also claimed watermelons are good for your heart and immune system.

The vast majority of watermelon (92%) is made up of water. But the remaining 8% is loaded with the anti-oxidant lycopene which is also good for your skin.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Strong quakes hit Bali, North Maluku

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 09/19/2009 8:58 AM

Two earthquakes, each measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale, hit Bali and North Maluku on Saturday.

An official at Sanglah Hospital in Bali's capital, Denpasar told The Associted Press that the quake in resort island Bali has injured at least seven people and sent many others fleeing outside.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency reported in its website that one of the quakes hit Bali at 07:06 a.m. local time, with its epicenter located 101 kilometers southeast of Nusa Dua at 36 kilometers under the seabed.

The other quake hit North Maluku at 01:34 a.m. The epicenter of the quake was located 117 west of Ternate Sea at 92 kilometers under the seabed.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Strong quake strikes off Indonesian coast

World News Australia, 02 September 2009 | 06:55:14 PM

7.3 shock: An earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale jolted the southern part of West Java at 2:55 p.m. on Wednesday, 2 sep 2009. The tremor was felt as far as Jakarta and Yogyakarta in Central Java. (The Jakarrta Post)

A powerful earthquake caused buildings to sway in Indonesia's capital on Wednesday, damaging buildings and prompting a regional tsunami alert, witnesses and media said.

People waiting outside The Mandarin Hotel in Jakarta for possible after shocks (Photos: AFP)

The quake struck at 2.55pm local time (1755 AEST) on the southern coast of the main island of Java with a preliminary magnitude of 7.4.

It had a depth of 63 kilometres and the epicentre was about 200 kilometres south of Jakarta, the US Geological Survey said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said it was powerful enough to cause a local tsunami, but there were no immediate reports of high waves.

Buildings in Tasikmalaya, the town closest to the epicentre, were damaged, the news portal reported.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

The shaking was strong in the capital, Jakarta, where panicked office workers ran outside onto the streets.

It was not possible to immediately contact anyone in the quake area.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bogor’s Silk House works with farmers

Theresia Sufa , The Jakarta Post , Bogor | Tue, 09/01/2009 11:48 AM

Natural spinner: Rumah Sutera Alam is currently the only cottage industry in West Java’s Bogor to work on silk yarn spinning. JP/Theresia Sufa

Rumah Sutra Alam or the Natural Silk House in Ciapus district, Bogor regency, is the cottage industry most frequently visited by students, lecturers and retirees across Indonesia.

In addition to its mulberry plantations, the natural silk center also has a silkworm nursery and undertakes silk yarn spinning and silk cloth weaving.

Visitors to the house mostly wish to learn how to breed silkworms and at the same time observe the process of spinning and weaving.

Owner Tatang Gozali Gandasasmita started his silk yarn spinning business in 2001, with the cottage industry set up on a 2.5-hectare block of land, as something to do during retirement.

“As a retiree I love keeping busy in a way that benefits a lot of people, and this spinning work provides jobs for youths in the Bogor vicinity and helps raise the income of mulberry growers,” he said.

“I call it a silk house because the entire process of making silk takes place here.”

The former employee of Bandung’s PTP-15 state estate company explained that it all begins with the hatching of silkworm eggs that he buys from Candi Roto, Central Java, and Soppeng, South Sulawesi.

“We buy 15 to 20 boxes of silkworm eggs each month, each containing 25,000 eggs,” Tatang said.

“Two weeks later, after they hatch into larvae, we deliver them to mulberry growers, who nurse the young worms to develop into cocoons.”

In running the silk industry, Tatang works with farmers from Bogor, Sukabumi and Cianjur, all in West Java.

“We have 80 farmers as partners but only 40 of them focus on mulberry planting, while the rest grow vegetables as their main crops, handling mulberries as their side business,” he said.

So far, Tatang added, his cocoon production has reached only about half a ton per month, compared with his industry’s monthly capacity of around 2 tons.

“We’re still short of cocoons as we need 2 tons a month for spinning into silk yarn. So we’re trying to approach more farmers, particularly in Bogor, in order to raise silkworms that we supply on the condition that they first have their own mulberry plantations to feed the worms,” he said, adding that he pays Rp 25,000 per kg of cocoons produced, based on national standards.

Downstream process: Workers at Rumah Sutra Alam further weave the spun yarn into silk cloth. JP/Theresia Sufa

The hatching of worms and their growth into cocoons takes 30 days. The cocoons are then spun into silk yarn for further sale, mostly to weavers in Garut, Tasikmalaya and Cirebon, all in West Java, at a price of Rp 350,000 per kg. A cocoon produces around 800 to 1,000 meters of yarn on average; the remaining yarn is woven for sale to any visitors to the silk house.

The woven fabric in the silk house is sold at prices ranging from Rp 50,000 to Rp 3 million depending on the thickness of the material — the thicker the material, the more expensive, because it consumes a lot more yarn.

Besides plain silk cloth, there are also pieces with batik motifs. The silk batik is processed in Cirebon and Pekalongan in Central Java, which usually takes four months to complete.

“I’m very eager to help mulberry growers to develop their business by also cultivating silkworms, so that every time the Bogor regency administration and the Makassar Natural Silk Center offer aid to boost our silk house, I always recommend that the aid be given to mulberry farmers,” Tatang said.

A gift from nature: The cottage industry required monthly some two tons of silk cocoons to be processed into silk yarn. JP/Theresia Sufa

I’ve made a proposal for aid to develop silkworm nurseries for all mulberry farmers in Bogor, in response to the Makassar silk center’s offer. When they join the silkworm raising effort, we won’t face cocoon shortages anymore.”

Ilyas, a mulberry farmer who lives in Pasir Eurih village in Bogor’s Tamansari district, said he started growing mulberries in 2001, after receiving training in the method of mulberry planting from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB). He owns a 3,500-meter-square block of land for his mulberry trees; his main focus is rice paddy.

“I’m growing mulberries only as a side job because I earn very little from the trees. Mulberry leaves are harvested every two months and I sell them to the silk house for Rp 300,000 per ton,” he said.

“I can increase my income if I join silkworm breeding, but I have no proper place to do it. The nursery for silkworm raising has to be sterile and protected from predators.”

According to the secretary of Bogor regency’s Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Office, Siti Nurianty, the silk house is the only silk processing place in Bogor.

“We hope this silk house can truly serve as a silk center and at the same time a tourist destination for silk cloth shopping,” she said. “We therefore always offer our assistance for its development and invite Pak Tatang to various exhibitions. But the most important thing is to support mulberry farmers’ silkworm breeding by providing proper facilities.”

Building with green bricks

Anissa S. Febrina, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 09/01/2009 9:36 AM

All natural: The Green School in Bali features bamboo construction engineered into a more modern look. JP/ Zul Trio Anggono

Steel or stone? Bamboo or brick? Concrete or composites? A wiser choice of construction materials could go a long way to transforming our cities into “greener” urban jungles.

An environmentally friendly building is not only about choice of site and the play of the layout. The actual materials that are laid down for the foundations, frames, walls, roof and cladding determine how green a building really is.

To date, our vocabulary on building materials has been limited to bricks, cement, timber and glass with steel occasionally popping up when needed.

But experts agree that so much more can be done to make the already widely used materials greener or to maximize the potential of currently underused ones.

Bamboo is among the latter. The pipe-like plant that can grow and be harvested faster than conventional wood is earning the label of 21th-century building material.

“In just four or five years, bamboo stems are old enough to serve as solid framing. And every year afterwards it can still be harvested,” said Eko Prawoto, a leading architect who since 2000 has tested various types of bamboo construction.

“In a way, bamboo is more renewable than timber.”

While architects in Japan and Germany have started to explore the potential of the plant for the construction industry, not many in Indonesia are willing to take the same path that Eko trod.

“Bamboo has been utilized here for centuries and it has a social aspect, quite apart from the fact that it is a potential green building material,” he said. “Its elasticity makes it suitable for buildings in earthquake-prone areas like Indonesia and it’s a labor-intensive material.”

Because of its hollow cylindrical-shaped segments, bamboo is lighter than steel but can almost match its traction coefficient. It is also stronger than concrete.

Yet despite Indonesia’s abundance of the natural material, bamboo is still viewed as being a building material for the poor. Mention building with bamboo, and the image that most likely first comes to mind is of a makeshift shack in a rural village.

Indonesia is home to some 60 species of bamboo, on a total of around 320 hectares of plantation with an annual production of 726,000 tons, according to Forestry Ministry data.

Most bamboo production and trade is conducted by small and medium enterprises, ranging from traditional bamboo wall weavers to small workshops developing more modern bamboo product manufacturing processes.

Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University researcher Morisco has developed more solid bamboo jointing by combining the woody stalks with steel plates and bolts and filling the hollow segments at the joints with cement.

The result is a roof frame that is cheaper than that made of conventional wood, less prone to termites as the bamboo is pre-treated and can hold up even in the event of earthquakes.

Morisco’s laboratory has also come up with laminated bamboo where the stalks are cut and flattened into planks similar to wooden ones. These “planks” can then be further processed into wall cladding, doors, window sills and furniture.

And, as Eko pointed out, with plaster on both sides, a traditional bamboo wall is as sturdy as one made of brick.

A class of life: Visitors of the Bali Green School give a
try at weaving roof covering from dried tall grass. JP/Zul Trio Anggono

Bamboo is not the only green material. Several researchers have also tried modifying the composition of conventional bricks by utilizing waste.

Yogyakarta’s Islamic State University researcher Fajriyanto adds sludge from paper factories, plastic waste and coir into a composite that could serve as building panels, which would have an elasticity suitable for construction in earthquake-prone areas.

Meanwhile, a researcher at Bandung’s Ceramic Center, Nuryanto, is currently developing permeable ceramic paving, a type of ground cover that would better let water seep into the soil than the currently available concrete blocks do.

Once the prototype is completed and industry gets involved to mass produce these paving blocks, urbanites will be able to pave their car ports while still letting water flow underground, therefore both adding to groundwater reserves and preventing flooding.

“It is made of feldspathic materials which are more porous than concrete,” Nuryanto said. “Mixed with coloring, it can still be aesthetically pleasing as well as environmentally friendly.”

For the current planned production, the feldspar, or tectosilicate minerals, can be found in Banjarnegara in Central Java and Pangaribuan in North Sumatra.

Adding waste material to composites is actually not a new thing in the building material industry.

Researchers have long suggested the addition of fly ash, the waste generated from burning coal, into concrete mix.

Most recently, researcher Puti Farida Marzuki has also suggested replacing Portland cement with a mixture of hydraulic lime with fly ash when building small houses.

“Small houses such as those built by the government public housing program don’t need the strength of Portland cement. It’s too expensive and needs a lot of energy resources in the manufacturing process,” Puti said.

By mixing calcium hydroxide with cement-like pozzolan aggregate in a simple churning sill, locals can produce their own affordable alternative to Portland cement.

Many have tried coming up with more environmentally friendly building materials, but unfortunately, it is not that easy to tempt industries to start mass producing these alternatives.

So far, the research and development of such products has mostly been done independently of the building materials industry.

And apparently, there are no incentives available either to link inventors and producers.

For this, Indonesia might want to learn from its neighbor Singapore, which currently provides incentives for building material producers that develop greener products.

“We want to further develop our subsidy scheme into one where industries can submit an ad hoc proposal so that the support can be channeled when needed,” Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority research division director Ang Kian Seng said.

“But, we only want to support those with a sound proposal. Green construction does not need to be expensive,” he added.

Nevertheless, even without such a scheme, some local building material manufacturers have increased their own research and development efforts to serve the market with a greener product.

“The problem is that sometimes architects who are supposed to choose those greener building materials are not aware that they exist,” said Naning Adiwoso, head of Green Building Council Indonesia.

Naning pointed out that locally made products such as water-based paint, nano-finished ceramics or biofil septic tanks were already available for those looking for more environmentally friendly construction materials.

But, then again it’s always a matter of choice. Steel or bamboo? Concrete or permeable paving?