Sunday, 30 April 2017

NationofChange: Exxon to pay $20 million for violating Clean Air Act 16,386 times

NationofChange — Progressive News and Activism


Exxon to pay $20 million for violating Clean Air Act 16,386 times

“We will not stand idly by when polluters put our health and safety at risk.”

By Alexandra Jacobo -
April 29, 2017 | News Report

A Texas judge has ordered ExxonMobil to pay nearly $20 million in fines after finding that one of the company’s chemical plants released millions of pounds of pollutants into the environment.

The ruling was part of a suit brought against the mega-corporation by Environment Texas and the Sierra Club in 2010. The groups argued that Exxon failed to implement technology to curb emissions at its facility in Baytown, Texas. Between the years of 2005 and 2013 Exxon gained more than $14 million in benefits by failing to follow provisions of the Clean Air Act.

Judge David Hittner sided with the environmental groups. His findings include the fact that Exxon illegally released more than 10 million pounds of pollutants between 2005 and 2013.

The final ruling found Exxon violated the Clean Air Act 16,386 times, with each violation carrying a fine of up to $37,500 per day. Judge Hittner fined the company $1.4 million for the pollution and $19.9 million for penalties, an amount that was proposed by the two plaintiffs.

Neil Carman, clean air program director for the Sierra Club released a statement saying:

    “Today’s decision sends a resounding message that it will not pay to pollute Texas. We will not stand idly by when polluters put our health and safety at risk.”

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, stated that he believes the ruling is “the largest penalty resulting from a citizen suit in U.S. history” and “It means that private citizens victimized by the world’s biggest polluters can get justice in the American court system, even when government regulators look the other way.”

Of course Exxon disagrees with the ruling and may appeal. The company told Reuters in a statement:

    “We disagree with the court’s decision and the award of any penalty. As the court expressed in its decision, ExxonMobil’s full compliance history and good faith efforts to comply weigh against assessing any penalty.”

Those Trying To Destroy Ibrahim Mahama From The Shadows Must Not Be Allowed To Succeed

As a people we must encourage Ghanaian entrepreneurs - so that their dynamism and creativity will help transform our nation in the shortest time possible.

If we want an entreprebeurial culture to evolve in Ghana, it should never be the case that hardworking individuals running businesses providing jobs for hundreds of young people, are hounded for political reasons.

Ibrahim Mahama is a case in point. It is now pretty obvious that there are dark forces at work trying hard to destroy him - come what may. But they will fail. For sure.

There are powerful forces in this new era ranged against him that Ibrahim ought to be wary of - and work hard to thwart.

In light of that secret agenda to destroy Ibrahim, come hell or high water, former President Mahama must now use his own personal network to rescue his brother.

Former President Mahama must find partners willing to inject cash into his brother Ibrahim's businesses - to enable him stabalise his diverse conglomerate as it goes through turbulence: and faces strong headwinds.

Ibrahim Mahama is neither a crook nor a criminal.That is a fact. And for anyone  to try to make out that somehow he is a rogue who milked Ghana dry is outrageous. And abominable.

In any case, whatever difficulties Ibrahim Mahama faces today, result directly from his generous sponsorship of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) over the years - mainly for his elder brother former President Mahama's sake.

The question is: Is it the case that a hardworking and humble  gentleman renowned for his generous nature, and famous for his preparedness to help those facing temporary  difficulties, today faces a temporary difficulty himself?

If that indeed is the case then let his elder brother for whom he made sacrifice upon upon sacrifice when he was Ghana's leader, step up to the plate and find help from outside the country to bail him out.

There is no law preventing him from doing so, is there? From what is going on, the plain truth is that many in Ghana will be surprised if any of formepr President Mahama's  brother Ibrahim's companies are paid what the Republic of Ghana owes them.

Alas, the aim of Ibrahim's powerful enemies is to cripple his businesses - and eventually have him put behind bars. Precious few in this regime will try to stop them - for obvious reasons.

That is why fair-minded Ghanaians must not allow those trying so hard to destroy Ibrahim Mahama from the shadows  to succeed in their aim. They must not succeed in destroying Ibrahim Mahama. And they will not. Insha Allah.

Dr. J. Mercola: The Connection Between Insulin Resistance and the High-Carb, Low-Fat Diet
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The Connection Between Insulin Resistance and the High-Carb, Low-Fat Diet
April 30, 2017 | 34,694 views

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Story at-a-glance -

    Dr. Tim Noakes, a well-respected scientist, researcher, physician and professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the world’s foremost experts on low-carb diets
    Legal action was taken to strip him of his medical license for promoting the low-carb diet. It’s the first time in history that a diet has been put before a legal jury to decide whether or not it’s correct
    A low-carb, high-fat diet is crucial for preventing or reversing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes; treating type 2 diabetes with insulin is one of the worst mistakes you can make

By Dr. Mercola

Dr. Tim Noakes, a well-respected scientist, researcher, physician and professor at the Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the world's foremost experts on low-carb diets. In fact, he was instrumental in getting the low-carb diet revolution off the ground.

He's also an accomplished athlete. As a long-distance endurance runner with 70 marathons under his belt, he had long promoted high-carb diets, himself consuming 400 grams of carbs a day or more when preparing for a race.

Eventually, he discovered this wasn't the best way to improve athletic endurance and health, and ended up writing a number of popular books on low-carb diets.
From High to Low Carb

Noakes graduated from medical school in 1974. At the time, he was also running, and this was when the high carbohydrate diet really started to become popularized.

Following the advice of one of his professors at the cardiology unit where he worked, he changed to a high-carb diet and began promoting it in his writings, including the book, "Lore of Running," which was widely read.

"There it says that you must eat lots of carbohydrates for both health and performance. I continued to do this for 33 years until 2010," Noakes says.

One day in 2010, he went for a run and had one of the worst runs of his life. He also admitted he was overweight, which didn't help. By chance, that same day he received an advertisement for Dr. Eric C. Westman's book, "The New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great."

It claimed you could lose 6 kilos (13 pounds) in six weeks, which he didn't believe because he'd tried many diets and none worked. Despite that, he bought the book, and within two hours of reading, he realized he'd had it all wrong all this time.

    "I decided then and there that I was going to go low-carb. I started at lunchtime on that day. I've been on that diet now for the last six years. I've dropped 20 kilograms (44 pounds) in weight. My running returned to what it had been 20 years earlier," he says.

    "I subsequently discovered that I have type 2 diabetes because of a strong family history and all these carbohydrates. But I'm glad to say today all my blood tests are within the normal range. I am taking medication. But … in six years with diagnosed diabetes, I have not worsened.

    In fact, I'm probably slightly better than I was six years ago, which is completely contrary to what would happen if you followed conventional advice. Anyway, I decided that I'd start reading. I read all your work. I read all the books. I started doing research.

    That convinced me that this is a really important change that we need to promote throughout the world. Clearly, the diabetes and obesity epidemics started in 1977. It's caused by the dietary guidelines. I slowly began to understand [how] industry has driven the bad guidelines …

    I also do intermittent fasting. I only eat between lunchtime and … 8 p.m. … I found that that's been really helpful. It's about a 16-hour fast and an eight-hour period where I eat."

Diet Revolution Leads to Legal Wrangling

In 2013, Noakes published "The Real Meal Revolution: Changing the World, One Meal at a Time," which turned into the best-selling book ever in the history of Southern African literature. The success of this book produced major changes in dietary understanding in Southern Africa.

Alas, its success also led to legal action being taken against him by the Health Professions Council of South Africa, which is a professional medical licensing and regulatory board. The action came after he posted low-carb advice to a pregnant woman on Twitter.

As a result, the president of the Association for Dietetics in South Africa wrote a long letter to the Health Professions Council, challenging his ability to practice medicine.

    "It is so bad that my own university dissociated itself from me," Noakes says. "At my hospital, Groote Schuur Hospital, you are not allowed to prescribe a low-carbohydrate diet for any condition. You're not allowed to discuss the diet among the doctors.

    If you do practice it or if you were to prescribe it, something would happen to you. That's how strong the movement against it is. It's absolutely astonishing. The worst bit for me actually wasn't the trial and being accused of malpractice and so on. The worst bit was my university.

    The dean of medicine wrote to the local newspaper and said they dissociated themselves from my views and all those who support the low-carbohydrate diet.

    Of course, they had no evidence for it, but here I'd worked at this university for 35 years or so, and was one of the better-known scientists. That they could do that was absolutely astonishing. But … it does seem that industry was strongly involved."

Overwhelming Evidence

During the hearing, he presented five and a half days of testimony about the low-carb diet. He was also cross-examined for three and a half days. Then for another three days, expert witnesses were heard, including Nina Teicholz, Zoe Harcombe and Caryn Zinn, all three of whom presented a remarkably sturdy case for its use.

    "For example, when Nina — [who] wrote the book 'The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet' — when she finished, the lawyer for the prosecution could not cross-examine her.

    He just threw up his hands and quit. He didn't have anything to say. Zoe Harcombe was the same. She has just completed her Ph.D., showing there was never any proven evidence to change the dietary guidelines in 1977.

    She presented her Ph.D. thesis. Again, the evidence is absolutely overwhelming. The end result is that we've had 23 days in court so far, and we won every single moment for 23 days.

    We won everything. They have not been able to pin one thing on me. I think it's the first time in history that a diet has been put before a legal jury to decide whether or not it's true."

The final decision, more than three years after the Tweet was posted, was that Noakes was found not guilty of misconduct.

It remains to be seen whether the health professional council, the statutory party that took action against Noakes, will have to change their nutritional guidelines and update all nutrition and dietetics teaching in South Africa. As noted by Noakes, "That could be a huge moment for South Africa and perhaps for the rest of the world."
Corporate Influence

At the request of CrossFit founder Greg Glassman, investigative journalist Russ Greene visited Noakes in South Africa. He went through all the transcripts of the trial, and then began digging into the backgrounds of all the expert witnesses testifying against Noakes. Most of them turned out to be linked to an organization called the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), which is a Coca-Cola funded organization.

ILSI is basically a front-group for the beverage industry, and has links to Monsanto, Pfizer, Unilever and, in the past, the tobacco industry. Green wrote an exposé, "Big Food vs. Tim Noakes: The Final Crusade," which is posted on his website,

    "It's an amazing exposé, which suggests there was a coordinated effort in South Africa to bring me [down] and that it was driven by industry. The reason was we were getting too close to questioning the role of sugar and carbohydrates in ill health. We haven't proved it, but there's enough evidence out there to suggest there were things behind the trial that one would not have thought about," Noakes says.

Beverage Industry Hurt Athletes With Manipulated Science

This isn't the first time Noakes has taken on big industry. In 2010, he published "Waterlogged: The Serious Problem of Overhydration in Endurance Sports," a book exposing how industry influences science, and how the beverage industry has influenced the drinking guidelines for athletes.

He wrote the book because he was angry about people being hurt as a result of these manipulated guidelines. While rarely discussed, exercise-associated hyponatremia — drinking too much or overhydrating — actually contributes to many unnecessary deaths. Noakes explains:

    "When I started running marathons in the 1970s, we didn't drink during races. In fact, I ran a 56-mile race and I think I had four drinks. You'd have a drink every hour and you would literally swirl your mouth out with water and that would be about it. No one came to any harm. Then in about 1974 I began actively to promote drinking during marathon races. I became very active in South Africa saying there was not enough fluid available to marathon runners …

    By 1981, the race … had a drinking station every mile. They had 56 drinking stations in a 56-mile race. At the end of that race, a lady was unconscious. She was hospitalized ... Her blood sodium concentration had fallen. She wanted to know what had happened. She said, 'Maybe I took too little sugar or salt during the race. What should I do about it?' I said, 'I have no idea.'

    I then decided to investigate. Over the next 10 years, we were able to show that … she had overdrunk fluids. She'd retained the fluids, [which] caused her brain to swell, [causing] her to go unconscious. She'd remained unconscious for four days. We provided definitive evidence that it was overdrinking that caused the problem."

In 1993, the first American marathon runner died from overhydration. Still, in 1996, the American College of Sports Medicine, funded by Gatorade, produced new drinking guidelines stating that dehydration is the killer when you exercise, and you should drink "as much as tolerable" during exercise.

Other deaths followed, all of which were completely unnecessary. In 2002, a young female runner died shortly after completing the Boston marathon. Cause of death: water intoxication. As recently as last year, two American football players died from overhydration. An estimated 3,000 athletes have also been hospitalized for hyponatremia, but fortunately almost all have survived. Yet, there have been at least 16 completely unnecessary deaths of which we are aware.
How Industry Controls Information

Finally, in 2007, the American College of Sports Medicine revised their guidelines to what Noakes had suggested, which is that you should drink to thirst.

    "It took a lot of time to change. The only reason we could change was because two scientific journals in the entire world were independent of the sports drink industry. [The] industry … makes sure its key opinion leaders, who have funds to do research, also happen to be the people who draw up the guidelines, whether they be dietary, cholesterol or drinking. In addition to that they are the main reviewers of journal articles.

    Over a 10-year period, we would submit papers and I knew they went to exactly the same reviewers every time. It didn't matter which journal we sent them to … But there were two journals that were independent, the British Journal of Medicine and the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. They published our work. I always knew that if there were two journals open to our papers … we would win in the end. In the end, we did win, because in the end all that matters is the truth.

    But if those two journals had also been controlled, if they'd had the same editorial boards, we wouldn't have ever done it. That was how I learned that is how industry controls information. They actively do it. They actively support people to make sure that only guidelines that benefit industry are ever published."

With Fewer Carbs, You Don't Need Insulin

One of the absolute worst things conventional medicine does is treat type 2 diabetics with insulin. This only exacerbates the problem. The key to treating and reversing type 2 diabetes is to cut down on net carbs, replacing them with high amounts of healthy fats and moderate amounts of protein. Noakes has researched reversal of type 2 diabetes in South Africans, coming to the same conclusion.

    "It seems to me that provided you remove the carbohydrates, you don't need the insulin," he says. "We're looking at the whole body … [W]e're looking at every organ in the body that we believe has been influenced by type 2 diabetes.

    We're seeing how they differ in people who reversed their type 2 diabetes on this diet, versus those who continue to be treated with standard therapy, including insulin … [This has] not been done anywhere else in the world. It's just the most exciting work I can think of."

Removing net carbs is only one side of the equation, though. That will reverse the insulin resistance, but equally important is having the ability to burn fat as your primary fuel. Paradoxically, driving your insulin level too low can result in a rise in blood sugar. The reason this can happen is because the primary function of insulin is not to drive sugar into the cell, but to suppress the production of glucose by the liver (hepatic gluconeogenesis).

In situations like this, eating a piece of fruit, for example, will actually lower your blood sugar. This is what happened to me, as I went a bit too extreme in my ketogenic approach. That got me to explore this whole process, eventually concluding that continuous ketosis may not be a wise long-term approach.

You actually need this cycling, where you go through a one-day-per-week fast and one or two days a week of feasting, where you eat maybe 100 or 200 grams of carbs. Noakes is planning clinical trials with type 2 diabetics where they will be looking at these kinds of variations.
Are Carbs Bad for All Athletes?

It's worth noting that some athletes may not perform at their best on a ketogenic (high-fat, low-carb diet). I believe that if you're doing ultra-endurance events like marathons, the ketogenic diet is the way to go. But for high-performance spurt, interval types, it might not be your best bet. It'll help you from a health perspective, but it may not optimize your performance like it will for long-distance running. Noakes weighs in on the topic, saying:

    "I say the ideal diet for sports is the one that's ideal for life as well … I spent 20 years of my life studying glucose metabolism in the body during exercise. The question I want to know is, how can adding a little bit of carbohydrate make you run faster? For example, if you ingest carbohydrate during exercise, because you've got plenty of fat on board, why would you need a little bit of carbohydrate?

    To some extent, I think the carbohydrate effect is a drug effect, particularly during exercise. If you're taking carbohydrates, I think it's acting like a drug, because metabolically, I can't see how it would make any difference. It's really interesting.

    When we do these studies, we take people on high-carbohydrate diets and we put them on a high-fat diet. The performance does come down. But I wonder to what extent, as to the withdrawal of the drug effect as much as a metabolic effect … I think even if you're cycling the Tour de France, you don't need more than 200 grams of carbohydrate a day."

Insulin Resistance Is the Real Killer

According to Noakes, "[I]nsulin resistance is the real killer and … we need to understand that … [the] main driver [of chronic disease] is insulin resistance and a high-carbohydrate diet."

Unfortunately, most medical schools around the world still do not teach medical students about insulin resistance, and one of the primary reasons for this is because medical schools are strongly influenced by the food industry, which wants you to believe that eating fat is dangerous and eating sugars and grains (net carbs) is healthy.

Neither is true, but these ideas are driven by financial motives. We need to remember that diabetes is one of the greatest growth industries in the world. If it can be reversed or prevented by a relatively simple dietary change, then that industry collapses.

    "What I would like to dedicate the rest of my time to is trying to get medical schools to change the focus of the teaching of nutrition and to admit that we failed by telling people to eat a high-carbohydrate diet, and that we have to replace that with an understanding that carbohydrates and insulin resistance are the problem. The broad range of diseases that we see is linked to that," Noakes says.

    "There's a paper in the Journal of American Medical Association … Chinese people with diabetes were compared to Chinese people without diabetes. The risk for all the common chronic diseases was two to three times greater. It was frightening. There wasn't a condition that wasn't listed there.

    We have to realize we're heading toward a disaster because we don't understand that you must treat insulin resistance with a low-carbohydrate diet. Unless we do that, we're not going to address the health of our nations … We used to be very lean. That's what we're designed to be. We have to somehow get back to that original state, because humans are … not designed to be fat."

Sugar Addicts Are Particularly Intolerant to Carbohydrates

While I believe limiting protein is just as important as cutting carbs, Noakes believes restricting carbs is the primary key for diabetics. As for how much carbohydrate is too much, we agree that an ideal limit for health is 25 grams of net carbs per day. My recommendation for diabetics is stricter than his, however, as I recommend a maximum of 15 grams of net carbs per day until your insulin resistance is resolved.

Noakes suggests a range of 25 to 100 grams, depending on your levels of exercise and of insulin resistance, with 25 grams being the maximum for those with marked insulin resistance/Type 2 diabetes. He also notes that people with sugar addiction or carbohydrate addiction who are morbidly obese tend to be incredibly intolerant to carbohydrates, and need to be particularly mindful not to exceed 25 grams of net carbs.

    "The people that I've helped lose 80, 100 kilograms, that's 160 to 200 pounds, they literally cannot eat 26 grams of carbohydrates. They have to stick to 25. Once they get up to 50 grams … they move back toward the addictive nature," Noakes says.

    "They start to eat more carbohydrate, and very quickly, they're eating 100, 200, back to 400 grams. People don't understand that if you have a real weight problem and you're morbidly obese, you've really got to be strict 25 grams and no more. I think it's the same with type 2 diabetes. You've got to stick to 25 grams."

Dr. Noakes was one of the experts I sought to help edit my new book "Fat for Fuel" for accuracy. Unfortunately, he was in the middle of his trial and could not edit it. However, there is little doubt in my mind that "Fat for Fuel" is the finest resource you can obtain to give you the practical details of how to implement the strategies that Noakes discusses.
To Learn More, Join Me at My Upcoming Live Lectures

There are many professionals or others who would like to dive deep into the details and if you fall in that category, I want to offer you some opportunities to learn more. On June 14 and 15, 2017, I will be in Colorado Springs for the SopMed’s third medical ozone and ultraviolet light therapy training. The 14th I will be giving a three-hour course that goes into many of the details that are not discussed in my new book “Fat for Fuel,” either because I learned of them later or there was not room to fit them in the book.

If you are specifically interested in nutritional ketosis, there will be a large number of experts lecturing at the Low Carb USA event in San Diego August 3-6. I will be one of the speakers along with Gary Taubes and Stephen Phinney. You can see the entire list of invited speakers lower on the page. The Early Bird Special, which saves you $100 on the ticket price, ends on April 30.

I am also speaking in Florida in November. If you are a physician and are interested in learning about how you can use the ketogenic diet and other therapies for cancer, heart disease, Lyme and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, please be sure and come to our ACIM conference in Orlando, Florida on November 2 through 4 at the wonderful Florida Conference and Hotel Center.

If you are a patient, there will be a separate and less expensive track on the same date and location.  However, you will need to come back to this page in a few days as the registration page for the event is still not up. The Early Bird Special, which saves you $100 on the ticket price, ends on April 30.
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Global Voices: Maldives Blogger and Activist Yameen Rasheed Stabbed to Death

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Maldives Blogger and Activist Yameen Rasheed Stabbed to Death
Posted 23 April 2017 17:51 GMT
Maldivian blogger and activist Yameen Rasheed, 29, was stabbed to death in the country's capital Male in the early morning hours of April 23, 2017.

Through his blog The Daily Panic and Twitter account @Yaamyn, Rasheed had become known as an outspoken critic of the government and radical Islamism. Shocked by this death, Maldivians expressed their grief and concerns on social media, while some demanded an international probe.

Rasheed was found in the stairwell of his apartment at 3 a.m. with multiple stab wounds and died soon after he was taken to the hospital. He suffered 16 stab wounds to his body, including 14 on the chest, one on the neck and one on the head. He had received several death threats via text messages and social media for his views against the government and religious extremists, which he had reported to the police.

Besides his online writings, Rasheed was an activist. On May 1, 2015, he was arrested with dozens of other activists for being part of anti-government protests and was held in custody for 21 days.

Rasheed was working for the Maldives Stock Exchange as an IT professional. In honor of Rasheed, the Stock Exchange office was closed on April 23.

The spokesperson of President Abdulla Yameen tweeted that the government “will deliver justice”. The public are also urged to provide information in order to help solve the case.

Former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom tweeted the sentiment of many netizens:

Another former president, Mohamed Nasheed, called for an open investigation:

Rasheed's friends in civil society also mourned his death:

His friend, expat Maldivian Muju Nasim, wrote about the online video series featuring the work of Rasheed:

    Anyone who would like to know more about Yameen Rasheed and the kind of human being that he was, you can watch the web video series (This week in Maldives) we were doing together.

    We were only able to record a few episodes when we were forced to stop the series fearing for his safety as I have been based overseas for the last 5 years.

Maldives has a troubling history of extrajudicial killings targeting journalists, activists, and bloggers.

Blogger, LGBT activist and journalist Ismail Khilath Rasheed, also known as Hilath, was stabbed in June 2012 by radical Islamists.

Quite similar to Rasheed's murder, Dr Afrasheem Ali, a member of parliament of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), was brutally stabbed to death outside his home in October 2012.

Rasheed was a close friend of Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, another well-known Maldivian journalist, blogger and human rights advocate, who was abducted and disappeared in 2014 (see Global Voices report). Since 2014, Rasheed had been pushing hard to get justice for Rilwan, and was recently working with Rilwan’s family to file a case against the Maldives police related to the investigation into Rilwan's death.

Blogger Amira thought that Rasheed's murder was not an isolated incident:

    This cannot be an isolated incident of a lunatic running around killing people. I feel very strongly that this had been planned and executed.

Writing on Facebook, Mickail Naseem criticized the police for failing to act on the death threats made against Rasheed:

    Cannot trust people at Maldives Police Service who turned a blind eye to death threats against Yameen Rasheed to conduct an impartial investigation into his death.

Also writing on Facebook, Naafiz Abdulla was worried about the killings targeting ordinary citizens:

    “So called” Paradise on Earth has no public safety for it's citizens. Tomorrow, it could be me, you, or any of us.

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MIT News: Going off grid: Tata researchers tackle rural electrification

MIT News
MIT Energy Initiative

Going off grid: Tata researchers tackle rural electrification

At MIT’s Tata Center for Technology and Design, researchers are exploring ways to extend electricity access to rural communities in India using microgrids.

By   Kathryn M. O'Neill | MIT Energy Initiative
January 21, 2016

More than 300 million people in India have no access to grid electricity, and the problem is especially acute in rural communities, which can be difficult and expensive to reach with grid power.

At MIT’s Tata Center for Technology and Design, researchers are exploring ways to extend electricity access to such communities using microgrids — independent electricity generation and distribution systems that service one village or even just a few houses. In addition to being flexible in size, microgrids can run on whatever power sources are available, including wind, hydropower, and the source accessible at all sites: solar power.

“A large number of people, particularly in rural India, won’t be electrified for decades, and the situation is similar in other parts of southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The statistics say that 1.5 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, but many more don’t have reliable access,” says Robert Stoner, deputy director for science and technology at the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and director of the Tata Center. “We’re looking for ways to make electricity available to everyone without necessarily having to go through the costly and time-consuming process of extending the [national] electric grid. With policy support in the form of regulation and financing … it’s conceivable that microgrids could proliferate very quickly. They might not supply a level of access equivalent to that offered by a well-managed grid but would provide an affordable and significant step forward in quality of life.”

Microgrids can be powered by diesel generators or by renewable technologies, among them solar power, which is becoming more attractive as the cost of solar technology falls. “If you use solar, [the fuel is] essentially free,” says Rajeev Ram, MIT professor of electrical engineering and a Tata Center researcher. In addition, he says, “micro­grids are attractive because they let you pool resources.”

Nevertheless, the widespread adoption of microgrids has been stymied by several challenges, including the high cost of setting up private generation and distribution systems and the business risk of investing in a system that’s susceptible to being undercut by an extension of the electric grid.

At the Tata Center, researchers are addressing such concerns from multiple angles — from mapping out national electrification networks, to providing planning assistance to rural entrepreneurs, to developing technology that can make it easier to build microgrids organically, from the grassroots up. Indeed, the researchers say that properly designed microgrids can be grid-compatible, reducing the risk to investors and providing an intermediate stage to grid connection where this is technically and economically viable.

“Everyone agrees we have to scale microgrids” to address the rural electrification gap, says Brian Spatocco, a Tata Fellow who worked on micro­grids as a PhD candidate in materials science and engineering at MIT. The problem, he says, is that “not one size fits all.”

Reference electrification model

To address the microgrid challenge at the macro level, Tata researchers led by Stoner and Ignacio Pérez-Arriaga, a visiting professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management from IIT-Comillas University in Madrid, Spain, have been developing and implementing a sophisticated computer program that can help government planners determine the best way to provide electricity to all potential consumers.

The Reference Electrification Model (REM) pulls information from a range of data sets — which in India include satellite imagery, the Census of India, and India’s National Sample Survey, which gathers statistics for planning purposes. REM then uses the data to determine where extending the grid will be most cost-effective and where other solutions, such as a microgrid or even an isolated home solar system, would be more practical.

“We are approaching the problem of rural electrification from the perspective of planners and regulators,” Stoner says.

Satellite imagery is used to map the buildings in a given location, and demand is estimated based on the types and profiles of the buildings. REM then uses pricing and technical data on such equipment as solar panels, batteries, and wiring to estimate the costs of electrification on or off the grid and to make preliminary engineering designs for the recommended systems. The model essentially produces a snapshot of a lowest-cost electrification plan as if one could be built up overnight.

“This is a technology tool that [officials] can use to inform policy decisions,” says Claudio Vergara, a MITEI postdoc working on the REM project. “We’re not trying to tell them what the plan should be, but we’re helping them compare different options. After a decision has been made and detailed information about the sites is gathered, REM can be used to produce more detailed designs to support the implementation of each of the three electrification modes.”

Currently, Tata researchers are using REM to model an electrification plan for Vaishali, a district of 3.5 million people in the state of Bihar in India. “We’re designing the system down to every house,” Stoner says.

In the project, results from REM were used to identify the best locations in Vaishali for microgrids (see Figure 1 in the slideshow above). In July 2015, the team visited two candidate sites, each with between 70 and 250 houses, and REM will now be used to produce a detailed technical design showing all the equipment and wiring needed to electrify them. Then, Vergara says, a local Tata partner will put REM to the test by actually building the microgrids. “The pilot will help us improve the model,” Vergara says. “We’re making many modeling assumptions now, so we need real-world validation.” Once the software has been perfected, Stoner says, the researchers plan to make it openly available.


Another project under way at the Tata Center addresses the barriers to entry for potential microgrid entrepreneurs. Such businesses face several hurdles, including the high cost of determining the most cost-effective sites for their projects. India’s government and public utilities often provide no information about where the electric grid is likely to be extended next, and calculating the likely demand for electricity in a village typically requires costly, on-the-ground research — all of which makes it tough for any potential microgrid entrepreneur to make the case for profitability and to secure financing.

Three MIT graduate students and a postdoc are working to develop GridForm, a planning framework that rapidly identifies, digitizes, and models rural development sites, with the goal of automating some of the work required to design a microgrid for a small village.

“Doing a custom system for every village creates so much work for companies — in time and in the human resources burden — that it can’t scale,” Spatocco says. “We’re trying to expedite the planning piece so [entrepreneurs] can serve more people and reduce costs.”

Like REM, GridForm begins with satellite data, but GridForm goes on to use advanced machine learning to model individual villages with a high level of detail. “We’ll say this is a house and this is a house, hit run, and the machine learns the properties of a house, such as size and shape,” Spatocco says. The goal is to produce a hardware and cost model of a target village that is 90 percent accurate before anyone even visits the site.

GridForm also develops load estimates, based on factors such as demographics and the proximity of buildings, and provides entrepreneurs with potential microgrid designs and even lists of necessary equipment. The program incorporates data sets on solar radiance and uses an algorithm to determine the best configuration of solar panels, battery packs, and distribution wires to power the greatest number of houses at the lowest cost.

“We’re providing everything from siting to planning to implementation — the whole process,” says Kendall Nowocin, a PhD student in electrical engineering and computer science working on GridForm. The other two researchers working on the project are George Chen PhD ’15, an MITx postdoctoral teaching fellow, and Ling Xu, a PhD student in health sciences and technology.

The main difference from REM, the researchers say, is that GridForm envisions electrification being built from the ground up rather than from the top down. “We think rural entrepreneurs will electrify themselves,” Spatocco says. “We want to create insights that are immediately useful to practitioners on the ground — what to buy, what it will cost, where to put it.”

Already GridForm has been used to develop detailed microgrid plans for four villages in the state of Bihar, and the team is working with Indian social enterprise SELCO Solar to do the installations, providing service to 2,000 to 3,000 people.


A third Tata Center project focuses on fostering the organic growth of microgrids by enabling residents to share extra power-generating capacity with their neighbors via an inexpensive piece of hardware, the uLink power management unit (PMU).

A “demand response” system that meters and controls the flow of electricity, uLink can adjust the demands it serves based on the supply of electricity that’s available. The system reflects an innovative approach to electrification, Ram says — one that acknowledges that the standards for electrification common in the developed world are unrealistically high for poor, remote areas. Building in the system redundancies necessary to ensure 99.9 percent availability is simply too expensive — and particularly unrealistic in India, where even the areas served by the grid are plagued by power outages.

“Here we can guarantee a basic level of service, but we don’t guarantee 99.9 percent,” Ram says. “This is a very powerful way to manage the cost of electricity infrastructure. Demand response allows you to size the system for average demand, versus peak demand.”

What that means is that when the sun is shining and batteries are fully charged, microgrid customers can run all of their appliances, but when it’s been cloudy for a few days and the system is low on power, uLink can signal users to shut off loads; as a last resort, it can even shut off loads automatically. Automating this function eases the social difficulty of sharing electricity, the researchers say. Once users have pooled their resources, there’s no need to argue over who can use which appliances; uLink allots electricity based on which loads have been predetermined as “critical” and therefore not subject to shutoff when system demand peaks. Everything else can be shut off by uLink as needs arise.

Users themselves determine which few loads are “critical,” providing an element of choice not typically seen in home solar systems, which hardwire their loads. uLink features several out­lets, enabling users to plug in a variety of appliances. At maximum capacity, the initial prototype low-voltage, DC system provides about 25 watts per household, enough to run a fan, a cellphone charger, and a couple of lights.

“The hardest part is making a box with all these functions at a cost people can afford,” Ram says, noting that the uLink consumer unit is designed to cost about as much as a cellphone, making it affordable for most Indian villagers.

uLink was field-tested in June 2015 — five houses were wired together for two weeks — and the delivery, metering, and networking systems worked well. The next milestone for the developers is to test the algorithm designed to estimate how much electricity is available from the system’s batteries and solar panels and optimally shed loads. “This is definitely a work in progress,” Ram says.

Indeed, all three Tata Center projects are still being refined, but together they offer a rich portfolio of potential solutions to the problem of rural electrification, the effects of which many of the researchers have seen firsthand.

“Electricity is not just empowering. It’s an enabling force. Electricity goes right into livelihood activities,” Spatocco says, noting that just a few lights make it possible for residents to work in the evenings, for example, or to improve their efficiency with simple machinery, such as sewing machines. “People can double or triple their economic output.”

There are also benefits few in the West might imagine, as Ram discovered by interviewing residents of one non-electrified Indian village: “They conveyed how frightening it can be to have a snake in the village if no one has a light.”

This research was supported by the MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design. Work on GridForm also received support from the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge. The REM program also benefited from other studies undertaken outside India supported by ENEL Foundation and Iberdrola.

This article appears in the Autumn 2015 issue of Energy Futures, the magazine of the MIT Energy Initiative.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

McKinsey & Company: Good to great: What B2B companies do to raise their Digital Quotient

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Good to great: What B2B companies do to raise their Digital Quotient

April 11, 2017 – by Christopher Angevine, Bertil Chappuis, Dieter Kiewell, Christina Sheffield, and Jennifer Stanley

Many B2B companies have a general sense of what they need to do to become more digital. But B2B leaders move beyond “accepted wisdom” to focus on the differentiators of success.

Our research shows that B2B digital leaders drive five times more revenue growth than their peers and 8 percent higher shareholder returns. While B2B companies tend to trail B2C counterparts, those with the highest Digital Quotients® are particularly strong in moving far beyond their competitors in three areas:
Customer insights

    Good: Focus on understanding their customer preferences and demographics.
    Great: Pick one or two high-value customer segments, then map decision journeys front-to-back to understand how customers buy, what channels they use, what turns them on—and off. More than 90 percent of B2B buyers use a mobile device at least once during the decision process, yet fewer than 10 percent of the B2B companies in our survey indicate that they have a compelling mobile strategy.

Process improvement

    Good: Relentlessly improve existing processes.
    Great: Use agile development techniques, automation, and design thinking to reconceive, even reinvent, supporting processes. Effective presales activities—the steps that lead to qualifying, bidding on, winning, and renewing a deal—can help B2B companies achieve consistent win rates of 40 to 50 percent in new business and 80 to 90 percent in renewals. Incorporating agile techniques forces product development, marketing, sales, and IT to come together and use digital design practices, such as launching minimally viable products (MVP). That can ramp up the cultural changes needed as well.

Capability building

    Good: Build important capabilities for digital initiatives
    Great: Identify and augment the capabilities critical to achieving scale. B2B leaders create an organizational structure that supports their digital transformation. That involves identifying which skills need to be reallocated, what data and analytics resources are needed, and which customer opportunities require capabilities that need to be built, hired, or acquired. Systematic performance tracking needs to be in place to keep the efforts on track and make sure they having the desired impact (only one in five B2B companies systematically tracks digital performance indicators).

A commitment to “great” is really what allows companies to reap the rewards from digital and build a sufficient DQ™. Without it, businesses will find their improvements provide only modest benefits that cannot be scaled.

Christopher Angevine is an associate partner in our Atlanta office, Bertil Chappuis is a senior partner based in Palo Alto, Dieter Kiewell is a senior partner in our London office, Christina Sheffield is a senior practice manager based in Dallas, and Jennifer Stanley is a partner in our Boston office.

© 1996-2017 McKinsey & Company

Should Patriotic Ghanaians Be Grateful To Jon Benjamin Britain's High Commissioner To Ghana?

When today the U.S. has a president who tweets his thoughts to the world on a regular basis,  is it any wonder that Britain's high commissioner to Ghana, Mr Jon Benjamin, is a diplomat who enjoys the fun-loving lifestyles and welcoming natures of the citizens of the modern African nation, to which he is accredited?

The classic stuffy, stiff upper-lipped diplomat of yesteryear, representing Britain in the Ghana of today, will not make many friends for Britain. That is for sure.

This blog is of the view that Jon Benjamin has been one of the most effective diplomats accredited to Ghana by the government of Great Britain, ever. He has been phenomenal. And cool.

We must thank him for naming and shaming the hypocrites-in-Parliament, who stooped so low as to embroil themselves in shabby connection-man-schemes, in which diplomatic passports were deployed to get constituents, friends and family  members visas allowing them entry into the UK - so they could overstay,  work and live illegally in the UK. Disgraceful.

The question is: After the revealation of this scandalous and egregious abuse of diplomatic passports by some MPs, what sane Ghanaian in the upper reaches of society, will be prepared to risk their good name by becoming  enmeshed in the visa  applications of dubious people whose sole aim is to obtain visas to enable them  overstay,  live and work illegally in the countries they obtain those visas to visit as tourists?

Henceforth, it will be well nigh impossible to find any important  person in Ghanaian society willing to allow  his or her good name to be dragged through the mud by dishonest people wanting to use them to obtain  visas to go and live illegally abroad. That is as it should be. We expect priveleged people to be positive role models not fraudsters.

We owe Jon Benjamin a huge debt of gratitude for this new development in Ghanaian society. Thanks to him, going forward into the future,  decency will rule OK in high society when it comes to visa applications to travel abroad.  Fantastic.

StartUp/David Bailey: Why Raising Money For a Startup Idea Has The Opposite Effect

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David Bailey

Entrepreneur, Early-Stage Investor, Coach
Apr 25

Why Raising Money For a Startup Idea Has The Opposite Effect

When entrepreneurs ask me how to raise money to build their product idea, my answer is always the same: you’re asking the wrong question.

I managed to raise investment off a PowerPoint presentation twice over the last 10 years. It sounds like a great idea to start off with money in the bank — but it turns out that it’s not that simple.

The cost of investment goes beyond equity dilution. Raising capital changes your mindset — often in unhelpful ways. Here’s why I’d never raise outside capital at the idea stage ever again.
1. Investor discussions lock down bad assumptions.

As you pitch an early-stage idea, investors probe into your business assumptions. Over time, a consensus naturally forms around the most ‘investable’ assumptions. When the investor finally says ‘yes’, it feels like a form of market validation. As focus turns to planning, the latest set of bad assumptions are locked down and only come back to haunt you later on.
2. Hiring people puts a layer between you and ‘the front line’.

When you build out an idea, hundreds of tiny decisions need to be made. Raising money allows you to recruit other people to take some of those decisions for you. However, every designer, developer, marketer and salesperson you hire takes you one step further away from your customers and technology. It creates a communication overhead that’s really hard to manage — especially at the idea stage, where the learning curve is steepest.
3. Raising capital is an excuse to not skilling up.

Every successful founding team I know has had to painfully learn the basic skills needed to build their ideas themselves. This includes how to design, develop and sell their idea. A desire to raise money early often signals a lack of skills on the founding team. I’d always suggest looking for ways to fill the gaps that don’t require funding. For example, recruiting, partnerships, or — my personal favourite — learning new skills.
4. Early money encourages ‘over-building’.

To quote product development guru, Marty Cagan, “the really good teams assume that at least three-quarters of the ideas won’t perform like we hope”. The scope of ‘minimal viable product’ tends to increase proportionally with the amount of money available. All too often, funded teams tend to over complicate their products just because they can say ‘yes’.
5. Investors sound more helpful than they really are.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge believer in connecting with and taking advice from people that understand startups. However, forming a solid board of voluntary advisors can be equally as helpful without raising any money at all. The truth is investors aren’t as helpful as you might think.
6. Investment requires you to ‘go all in’.

Raising money might sound like a less risky way to leave your job and focus full-time on the idea. However, given the low chance of success, it’s worth working on it on nights, holidays and weekends before putting all your chips on the table. It’s less risky for investors that can spread their risk across multiple projects.
7. Bad legal precedents will really hurt you later.

At the idea stage, you have virtually no negotiating power. Yet the first round of funding is where many important terms are agreed that form the basis of every future round of funding. Giving away the wrong terms could prevent you from raising professional investment further down the road.
8. You begin a never-ending addiction.

I meet funded founders all the time looking to raise more money in order to start selling, marketing or shipping their products. It becomes this never-ending excuse to put off the most important things they should be doing today. Herein lies the greatest dark-side to raising money. It consumes you. The easier it feels at the earliest stage, the more it takes hold of you. That’s how they get you!
So what should you if you have a business idea?

Maybe you read this and thought ‘my case is different’. While I can’t slap you out of it, I can offer you some absolutely real alternatives to raising money.

    Learn a skill. Over the last 10 years, I’ve taught myself how to write good copy, how to manage products, how to code, how to design, how to write articles, how to recruit people, how to build a following and anything I’ve needed to get to the next level. Skills are your leverage at the early stage and not money.
    Simplify your idea. It’s time to get creative. Can you serve earlier customers manually at the beginning? Can you use SMS and email instead of creating an expensive mobile app? When you take the possibility of money off the table, you’ll be surprised with how you can simplify things to get going.
    Focus on ‘ramen-profitability’. You need to think small before you can think big. Set your first goal to make enough money to live on. Maybe this is £2000 a month. Figure out how many customers you need to achieve this and how you can make it happen. Good businesses make money — the days of Twitter are long gone.

When you’re ready for funding.

Funding is appropriate for products that have some traction in a large market. For the 99 percent of companies that don’t fit this bill, external capital can be a recipe for disaster. If you’re at the invention stage, just remember that necessity is the mother of invention, not money.

This article was originally published on If you liked this, click the 💚 below so other people will see this here on Medium.

About Dave Bailey:
I’m a Venture Partner at Downing Ventures in London, Mentor at Google Launchpad and a serial startup founder. Previously, I built and sold tech businesses in the UK, US and Brazil. I studied at Oxford University, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Singularity University. Find my contact details on

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Dr. J Mercola: New Technologies Offer Hope in Creating a More Transparent and Sustainable Food System

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New Technologies Offer Hope in Creating a More Transparent and Sustainable Food System
April 29, 2017 | 6,717 views
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Story at-a-glance +

By Dr. Mercola

Modern-day food practices are reliant on a series of unsustainable methods — including fossil fuels and chemical-dependent genetically engineered (GE) organisms — that pollute Earth's valuable resources such as our air, soil and water, as well as damage public health.

Our current food system, heavily treated with crop chemicals, is linked to myriad health problems including food allergies, gluten intolerance, gut and neurological dysfunction, immunodeficiency disorders and more.

Making healthy food choices is incredibly important, but can be a daunting task due to the extreme disconnect many of us have with the food we eat, as illustrated in the featured documentary "Digital Food."
'Food has Become a Black Box'

Food journalist Michael Pollan, who's authored many books and articles explaining how nature and culture intersect on our plates and in our farms and gardens,1 says not knowing where our food comes from creates a vicious cycle of unhealthy choices that results in sickness and disease not only for humans, but our planet too.

"Food has become a black box," says Pollan. "When you're buying a pound of hamburger, you know very little. You don't even know what kind of animal it is."

Most of the time, consumers have little to no details about the food they eat, including how the animal lived, where it came from, what it ate or how long ago it was slaughtered, says Pollan, who through his many thought-provoking books has educated millions about the downfalls of our current food system.

"It's always been my conviction that the more people know about how their food is produced, the better choices they will make," says Pollan.

"That can be very disruptive to the food industry," he adds while being interviewed in the featured film, which explores the potential new technologies have in bringing transparency to our food system.
Two Children in Every US Classroom Have Food Allergies

About 90 percent of the money Americans spend on food goes to buy processed food. What's worse, new research shows that, astonishingly, more than half — nearly 60 percent, in fact — of the food Americans eat is ULTRA-processed meaning the food could be purchased at a gas station.

The implications of this, in terms of public health, stretch far and wide. Researchers estimate that about 15 million Americans now have food allergies.2

This condition, which can be deadly, affects 1 in every 13 children in the U.S. or two in every classroom, resulting in an economic burden of roughly $25 billion per year, according to Food Allergy Research & Education.3

Food allergies among children increased about 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, according to a 2013 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.4

This steep increase in food-related illness has caused consumers to lose faith in the food system and, as a result, to grow very fearful, says Julian Baggini, author of "The Virtues of the Table: How to Eat and Think."

"They're worried about being poisoned and about their health," says Baggini in the film, adding that there's this interesting tension between the desire for cheap and plentiful food and at the same time, also a desire for clean, healthy food that's produced sustainably.
Silicon Valley Sets Its Eyes on Food Technology

In an attempt to help consumers regain their trust in food, companies such as San Francisco-based Nima Labs, featured in the documentary, are working to develop new technologies that allow consumers to avoid foods or key ingredients such as gluten that may trigger an allergic reaction.

Shireen Yates and Scott Sundvor, both of whom suffered food allergies and sensitivities for years, founded Nima Labs in 2013. Tired of wondering whether a food was safe to eat, Yates and Sundvor created a portable device that allows consumers to test liquid and solid foods for gluten in about two minutes.5

The Nima Starter Kit, costing around $300, allows users to insert a tiny sample of food into a capsule that uses chemical measurements to determine if there is 20 parts per million (ppm) or more of gluten in your food sample.

    "The sensor combines an electronic sensor with antibody-based detection in a disposable capsule. This process turns a complicated eight-step laboratory food testing process into an easy three steps," according to the company's website.6

    "Nima also syncs to an app that will record test results and restaurant reviews for future reference and community sharing."

Please note that this is merely a review of technology featured in the documentary, and I have not investigated its validity.

The device is one of many new technologies aimed at empowering consumers to make healthier and more confident food choices. Other emerging technologies include devices that measure anything from calories to pesticides to antibiotics, notes the film.
The Preference for Health Food Isn't Just a Trend; It's a Lifestyle

More than ever before, consumers have a heightened awareness regarding the food they eat, as well as an increased preference for organics and grass fed beef and dairy.

In the U.S., the organic sector grew 11.5 percent in 2016, while grass fed increased about 50 percent. As a result, for the first time in nearly 20 years, the amount of GE crops grown around the world has decreased in terms of acreage.

This preference for health food isn't just a trend; it's a lifestyle — and for good reason.  Studies suggest that organic fruits and vegetables may contain as much as 18 percent to 69 percent more antioxidants than pesticide-treated produce.

As antioxidants play a critical role in the prevention of diseases and illnesses, these higher levels of nutrients, in combination with a lower toxicity level, make organically grown foods a superior choice.

One of the strongest selling points for eating organic foods had been to reduce your exposure to pesticides and insecticides. Now, a recent study demonstrates that organic foods hold more benefits for your future health and the health of your children.

The study conducted by the European Parliamentary Research Service reviewed existing research and made several determinations.7

From their analysis they concluded that eating organic foods reduces pesticide exposure, improves the nutritional value of the food, lessens disease risk and improves early childhood development.8 They also found those who ate organic foods tended to have healthier dietary patterns than those who ate foods treated with chemicals.
Conventional Food Production Accounts for Up to 30 Percent of Manmade Greenhouse Gases

Organic and grass fed beef and dairy products aren't only better for human health, but for the planet too. Organic and regenerative agriculture involves holistic land management practices that improve soil health, biodiversity and water scarcity, while also mitigating the effects of climate change.

"Regenerative agriculture keeps the natural cycles healthy — like water and carbon — so that land can keep growing food and keep carbon and the climate in balance," said Tim LaSalle, Ph.D., former head of the Rodale Institute and co-director of the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative at California State University, Chico.9 Put another way, organic food keeps people healthy, and regenerative agriculture keeps the planet healthy, said Ronnie Cummins, founder of the Organic Consumers Association.10

Moving toward a system where 100 percent of food is produced using organic and regenerative agriculture practices is imperative for regenerating our planet's precious resources, on which human survival depends. Unfortunately, our current food system remains largely dependent on nonrenewable resources that, when used, have adverse effects on human health and the environment.

"The food system is responsible for somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gases we produce," says Pollan in the featured film.11 Consumers are aware of the environmental impacts of the burning of fossil fuels when it comes to the cars they drive and the homes they heat, but are much less aware about the role fossil fuels play in food production, he adds.
Sustainable Food Production Relies on Human Innovations, Not Chemicals

    "We turn fossil fuels into food in many ways. The main ingredient in fertilizer — ammonium nitrate — is a fossil fuel product that's spread all over the world. The process of making it consumes a lot of fossil fuels and then when it leaches into the atmosphere, it is a very potent greenhouse gas itself," says Pollan.

Our modern-day food system also relies on nonrenewable energy inputs to ship products around the world, but the most damaging aspect is fossil fuel fertilizer, he adds. "It takes 26 ounces of oil to produce that one hamburger — an astonishing amount of oil," says Pollan. Sustainable agriculture, such as organic and regenerative agriculture, requires far less inputs.

    "The most sustainable farms buy the least amount of stuff," says Pollan. "Are the solutions in your head or in a bottle?" he asks. "The most important solutions are in the farmer's head."

Producing Food Without Fossil Fuels

One way to produce food without fossil fuels includes gardening indoors through the use of LED lighting. Based in the Netherlands, Deliscious produces food using LED lighting in a greenhouse equipped with seven layers, one on top of the other, of various types of lettuce. Started by twin brothers Roy and Mark Delissen, the company is the first in the gardening business to move a part of their cultivation to a completely closed space.12 

The brothers, who together share a background in logistics and plant cultivation, say their seven-layer design (area-wise) is seven times more efficient than a traditional greenhouse. In nature during the winter, it can take plants up to 100 days to reach 4 inches tall from the moment they are sown. But in the LED cells at Deliscious, the plants never need more than 30 days to go from a seed to 4 inches, expressed Mark Delissen in the film "Digital Food."

Together, the brothers have perfected the right light recipe to support optimal growth. "In the end you need red, blue and far-red for photosynthesis," says Mark Delissen, adding that the right combination of colors — which took the brothers four years to identify — optimizes growth. "You can even manipulate the flavor by using more blue or red. But it's only just now that people are starting to research this," he adds.

    "Every color has its own effect — and the plants are very sensitive to this. So we use blue, red and far-red. The combination of these three makes the lettuce grow the way we want," says Mark Delissen. "But if you add just a bit more blue, you would get very different plants. It's amazing how nature responds to this."

Growing Plants Indoors With LED Lighting

The brothers say the best part about gardening indoors with LED lighting is that you're in control, meaning you can manipulate the plants with different kinds of lights. For example, adding more blue light causes the plant to be longer and stretch more. While vastly different than outdoor agriculture, the brothers stress that plant knowledge is still necessary and predict that in the future farmers will go from being growers to engineers. 

"You still need knowledge of plants, but there will be more technology," says Mark Delissen. Growing plants indoors using LED lighting certainly has its advantages, including the fact that no pesticides are needed during cultivation. Another great advantage is that the process uses far less water; the Delissen brothers say they use 80 percent less water, in fact. It would also allow the crops to avoid any rain that is contaminated with glyphosate.

However, there are also downfalls associated with gardening indoors with LED lighting. Firstly, LED technology is still relatively new and therefore expensive. "It's like computers in the 1980s," says Mark Delissen. Secondly, growing plants indoors with LED lighting does not include soil, which is a natural and important part of the food-growing process. Because they aren't grown in soil, the plants cannot be certified organic, either.

Thirdly, gardening indoors with LED lighting does nothing to combat climate change because the growing process does not involve soil. As discussed previously, soil-based agriculture — including organic and regenerative agriculture — is extremely important for combating climate change by building healthy soils capable of drawing down excess carbon in the atmosphere.13
Why Our Current Food System Must Evolve

As technology continues to advance, hopefully so will our food systems, and in a way that's healthier for the planet and us. Like Pollan said, the ideas are in our heads and not in a bottle of Monsanto's Roundup. While the U.S. government has done little to nothing to support a healthier and more environmentally conscious food system, an improved model continues to emerge through methods like organic and regenerative agriculture — a phenomenon made possible only through consumer demand.

    "This is because people understand this public health crisis has now spread worldwide, and this environmental crisis and its relationship to the climate crisis are all due to an out-of-control, industrial, chemical-intensive GMO agriculture," said Cummins in response to the sharp growth in organics and grass fed farming. "People are turning away."

Most everyone can agree that our current food system model is failing miserably and won't hold up much longer. However, the key to fixing our broken food system relies on a combination of old, less environmentally impactful techniques and new technologies that allow better use of our natural resources.
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Will A More Tolerant Society Not Serve Ghana Better?

The polarisation of Ghanaian society resulting from the divisive nature of our nation's politics is one of the greatest drawbacks to the transformation of our country,

It is preventing our nation from moving forward at a much faster pace.

Tolerance of opposing views is a vital ingredient in any society that commits to upholding and protecting its democratic system of government.

Younger generation Ghanaians need to understand that democracy is not only just about institutions of state, constitutions, elections etc., etc.

Above all, democracy is a way of life based on tolerance. We need to be more tolerant of each other's  viewpoints and foibles as a people - and to undrstand that tolerance ensures peace  coexistence. 

For the sake of this blog's many  younger generation Ghanaian readers, we have culled and posted an inspiring article by a University of California at Berkley student, Pranav Jandhyala, who founded BridgeUSA to bring together fellow-minded open-minded students on the Berkley campus.

One hopes that members  of  the two affiliates of the  governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), and the main opposition party the National Democratic Congress (NDC),  on university campuses across Ghana,  the Tertiary Students Confederacy of the NPP (TESCON), and the NDC'sTertiary Education Institutions Network (TEIN), will read Pranav Jandhyala's   very interesting article - and learn from it. Ditto Ghana's current crop of active young politicians..

 Please read on:

 "The Washington Post

Democracy Dies in Darkness
PostEverything Perspective

I invited Ann Coulter to speak at UC Berkeley. Here’s why.

My group doesn't agree with her, but we believe in free speech.

By Pranav Jandhyala April 27

Pranav Jandhyala is a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley, where he is the founder and co-president of BridgeUSA at Berkeley.

"Here's why a UC Berkeley freshman invited Ann Coulter to speak on campus

Play Video2:56  president of BridgeUSA, the nonpartisan organization that invited conservative commentator Ann Coulter to campus. (Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

I am the founder of BridgeUSA at Berkeley, the nonpartisan organization that worked with College Republicans to invite Ann Coulter to the University of California at Berkeley’s campus. Our organization hopes to create a future in which our campus and our country are venues for free and fair political discussion and debate from all sides. We stand for the preservation of spaces where political ideas can be shared and challenged without fear of violence.

To that end, we decided to help bring Coulter to Berkeley today to speak to a body of mainly liberal students on immigration. Unfortunately, threatened attacks from extremist groups forced the cancellation of this event. Let’s be clear: Blame for the cancellation of Coulter’s speech does not rest solely on the shoulders of any individual. The administration, student groups including ours, external resistance groups and the media all made mistakes that need to be corrected. Fundamentally, though, the system of political dialogue and debate is broken, not just on this campus, but across the nation.

We formed our organization earlier this year after the infamous Milo Yiannopoulos event here, where an incendiary speaker, violent rioters and a divided nation combined to create the perfect storm of political controversy. The university canceled a speech in February by Yiannopoulos, a prominent conservative writer, after intense protests that led to a campuswide “shelter in place” order. That day, instigation and violence replaced mediation and conversation — and we wanted to repair this breakdown in communication. Our goal since then has been to facilitate dialogue between political opposites, allowing everyone to engage with and understand opposing viewpoints. We have so far been successful in hosting forum sessions and debates on a series of different issues. We’ve hosted five events in about two months. Many students were immediately interested in our mission, and our membership has expanded rapidly — we have 40 officers and about 150 to 200 members.

Coulter was the choice of conservative groups on campus to represent their perspective in a larger campus debate about illegal immigration we were hosting. Liberal groups on campus had chosen Maria Echaveste, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton. She spoke on April 17 and answered questions from conservative students in the audience.

Coulter’s ideas have an audience, and though most members of our group don’t agree with her, we recognize the following she draws. We also understand that many see her as an inflammatory figure with destructive beliefs that disqualify her from appearing at an institution of higher learning. But we believe the only productive way to fight views one sees as bad or dangerous is with better views. So we chose to get involved and include Coulter in our speaker series on immigration so students could hear, and actively challenge, her views. We planned for the event to be a debate-style Q&A with rebuttals to allow for a back-and-forth dialogue. Coulter would have fielded tough questions about her views from students in the audience, and we would have done our part to ensure that she would answer those questions in their entirety and give students the opportunity to respond. Rather than repeating the failures of Yiannopoulos’s event, we wanted to create a national example for what free discourse and the questioning of ideas should look like here at Berkeley, the home of the free speech movement 50 years ago.

Free speech isn’t about provocation, violence, publicity stunts, selling books or testing limits. At their best, universities start and nurture conversations that advance dialogue and understanding further. Regrettably, the developments surrounding this event led it to fall out of line with our beliefs as an organization.

ZwBridgeUSA at Berkeley’s role and our plan for the event, instead reporting that the incident was a repeat of the Yiannopoulos fracas — exactly what  set out to avoid. And as the tensions between student safety and free speech entered the justice system, Yiannopoulos himself announced that he would be organizing a “free speech week” on Sproul Plaza where he and his supporters would attack a new perceived “enemy of free speech” every day. It pains me to see our campus being used as a pulpit for bad actors, people whose goal is to elevate themselves by inciting violence, without a thought for the safety of students who live and attend school here.

Sproul Plaza is becoming a battleground, and the ones who are left to pick up the bill of consequences is the Berkeley student body, which is vilified every day in the press for destruction that outside groups are responsible for. Antifa and other “black-bloc” groups that are able to organize do so far beyond the perimeters of our campus, and they receive an insignificant amount of support from Berkeley students, if any. But in national news, all that’s seen is violence and destruction being used to censor speech.

What’s disheartening to me is seeing the words “free speech” being used as a tool to garner headlines and publicity. The whole purpose behind the idea of free speech has been lost. What’s happening on our campus is no longer about advancing discourse anymore. It’s no longer an attempt to reach a larger truth and understanding about policy issues so that better decisions can be made. It’s just a furious chase to get in front of the news cameras and be trending on Twitter and Facebook.

Conservative groups, in their attempt to frame this complex series of events as a “free speech battle” by suing Berkeley’s administration, have used the label of free speech as a tool for publicity. Our organization prides itself on the values of free inquiry and discourse, yet we understand the impossible trade-off that the university faces: the administration is caught between upholding its commitment to free speech and its responsibility for student safety.

The administration attempted to work with us, to propose alternative dates this semester and next semester where a defensible venue would be available. In balancing the concerns of protecting students and allowing peaceful protest, they never backed down from their commitment to help us bring Coulter to campus. It is easy and expedient to blame the university in this situation, but that avoids the actual problem. The true issue here is not the way that the university handled this situation; rather, it is the fact that this trade-off between student safety and free speech even exists in the first place.

It’s a scary situation when the university cannot perfectly perform its duty, when it cannot guarantee the safety of all speakers at all times in all places. Those who would threaten student safety and destroy our campus to silence speech they disagree with are culpable for the existence of this new trade-off. And violence and threats which restrict the free exchange of ideas constitute fascism under the banner of anti-fascism.

We challenge the Berkeley administration, the Berkeley College Republicans and Coulter to work collaboratively and address the cancellation of the event and the current political climate. These respective parties continue to affirm their commitment to free speech, but they have demonstrated minimal effort in speaking freely with one another. Civil discussions are necessary to progress our democracy and address pressing points of contention.

We can alleviate polarization if we come to the table to talk, but until then, there is no constructive way forward. Threatening violence does not change minds, and instigating controversy for publicity does not fix a broken system. We, as a community, have to recognize that there is a world outside of Berkeley: How can we promote what we believe if we are associated with images of violence? We need to act with the knowledge that everyone is watching.

We refuse to meet speech with violence and oppression. We refuse to invoke the right to free speech to inflame, attack and generate publicity. We refuse to accept the current status quo surrounding speech on university campuses across the country. Instead, we will continue to pursue our mission of creating environments in which students can engage with their peers as free thinkers, express their opinions without fear and have their beliefs, suppositions and prejudices challenged rather than dismissed. Only through these means can we begin to bridge the gap brought on by polarization and allow for a free exchange of political ideas."

Written with additional contributions by Sean Vernon, editor of BridgeUSA at Berkeley’s publication

Pranav Jahndyala is a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley, where he is the founder and co-president of BridgeUSA at Berkeley.

© The Washington Post. All rights reserved.

Transparency In Government's Bailout Programme For Private-Sector Entities Is Vital

It was announced recently that 100 distressed private-sector companies applied to the ministry of trade industry to be given some of the bailout funds earmarked by the government for such companies.

It is extremely important in an exercise of this nature that there is transparency in all aspects of implementing the bailout programme.

It is taxpayers' money after all - in an  era of transparency and  value-for-money  in the utilisation of public funds: an oft-repeated mantra in public of President Akufo-Addo.

If members of the president's  regime  want to be returned to power again in the November 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections, no one in this administration should forget that new good-governance-reality in our public life. Ever.

They must be transparent at all material times in their work for Mother Ghana. Consequently, as a matter of urgency, the ministry of trade and industry ought to produce the list of the 100 companies that applied for bailouts.

The ministry's officials must also let the nation know the criteria used in selecting the 50 companies that were eventually succcessful in receiving the bailout  money and the amounts of money involved in each case. Immediately. Not at some indeterminate point  in the future. No.

That is what Ghanaians expect from President Akufo-Addo's administration. Nothing more. Nothing less. Full stop. That is why the New Patriitic Party (NPP) was voted into power.

The dynamic minister for trade and industry, Hon Alan Kyremateng, must be commended for moving quickly to implement this all-important economic measure.

It is a key building block in the transformation of our homeland Ghana in the shortest possible timeframe within the election cycle.

In light of that, Hon Alan Kyremateng must  ensure that there is transparency in the government's bailout programme from day one of its implementation. That is vital - as it sends all the right signals to the world: about the seriousness the government attaches to the programme's success.

Friday, 28 April 2017

TechCrunch: MIT’s giant mobile 3D printer can build a building in 14 hours, and some day it may be headed to Mars

Posted 18 hours ago by Brian Heater (@bheater)

At first glance, the Digital Construction Platform looks as awkward as its name. A nozzle is attached to the end of a pair of robotic arms atop a rover-like vehicle outfitted with tank treads. Then there’s a flatbed trailer attached to the back, with two big metal tanks strapped to its top. The system is actually a giant, mobile 3D printer, and the MIT team behind it believes it could help revolutionize home construction both here on Earth and other planets in the distant future.
The notion of 3D printing a house isn’t a new one, of course. It’s been tried before with varying degrees of success. What sets this project apart from much of its competition, however, is a move away from modularity, toward a system capable of printing a structure in one single go.

The system is freed of the special constraints of a more traditional 3D printer by the long industrial robotic arm out front. Another, more precise arm is attached to the end of that one, allowing it to be controlled with much more precision. This gives the system much a larger build space than a traditional 3D printer, which is constrained by the limited volume of its print bed.

The team has been working on the ‘bot since 2011, developing it through multiple iterations. This morning, it showcased what it’s been working on in the form of a quick time-lapse YouTube video, which features the platform constructing a 12-foot-high dome made out of a combination of foam and concrete, creating a structure that is solid, while still sporting space for things like wires and pipes to be inserted in its side.

In all, the process took a tad under 14 hours to complete. The video, however, is just the beginning of the team’s ambitious goals. Steven Keating, a recent PhD grad in mechanical engineering, authored the paper on the project that went live this week. He’s speak about his team’s ambitions with a rapid-fire enthusiasm that travels from the MIT labs to housing structures being built on Mars in a matter of seconds.

The project, he explains, was born out of a desire to create machines and structures with clear biological inspiration — something that’s all the rage in the robotics world these days. The system is programmable and can currently be operated with the push of a button. But if the platform is going to do its thing in extreme conditions like the Antarctic tundra (or, for that matter, Mars), it’s going to take full autonomy.

“Our future vision for this project is to have self-sufficient robotic systems,” Keating explains. “Just like a tree gathers its own energy, our platform is being developed toward the design goal of being able to gather its own energy. We’ve shown that through photovoltaic energy. And being able to gather and use local materials.”

With the proper combination of sensors, the system can customize a build based on conditions like light and weather and can utilize its own surroundings as the basis of its structures. The paper even goes so far as proposing walls built from organic living material like cyanobacteria, which can adapt to the environment, furthering the team’s initial goal of creating a biological structure.

Keating is also quick to point out the deliberate move of referring to the machine as a platform, rather than a 3D printer. The goal is to create a robotic system capable of several different functions working in tandem to create a structure, including digging and milling, in addition to 3D printing.

But while many of the team’s goals read like works of science fiction, Keating says he believes that the system will be able to start building real-world structures in the near future.

“My guess is you’ll see it happen in the next few years,” he explains. “You’ll start to see real structures made from these things. It’s going to be widespread and we won’t be able to make your house with this in the next five years, but there will be structures being built.

©  TechCrunch 2017. All rights reserved.

Energy Voice: UK reactor takes first steps towards fusion

Renewable/Other Energy

UK reactor takes first steps towards fusion

Written by Energy reporter - 28/04/2017 6:02 am

Britain’s newest fusion reactor has been fired up and taken the UK one step further towards generating electricity from the power of the stars.

The heart of the Tokamak ST40 reactor – a super-hot cloud of electrically charged gas, or plasma – is expected to reach a temperature of 100 million centigrade in 2018.

That is how hot it needs to be to trigger fusion, the joining together of atomic nuclei accompanied by an enormous release of energy.
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The same process enables stars to shine and in a less controlled way provides the destructive force of H-bombs.

The new reactor was built at Milton Park, Oxfordshire, by Tokamak Energy, a private company pioneering fusion power in the UK.

It is Tokamak Energy’s third upgraded reactor and represents the latest step in a five-stage plan to bring fusion power to the national grid by 2030.

Fusion power holds out the promise of almost unlimited supplies of clean energy. It uses special forms of hydrogen as fuel, produces no greenhouse gases, and the only waste product is helium.

But harnessing and raining in the mighty forces involved is a daunting challenge.

The plasma, which at 100m C is seven times hotter than the centre of the sun, has to be contained in a doughnut-shaped “magnetic bottle”.

Some way has also got to be found to turn the energy of fast-moving elementary particles into electricity.

Speaking after the ST40 reactor was officially turned on and achieved “first plasma”, Tokamak Energy chief executive Dr David Kingham said: “Today is an important day for fusion energy development in the UK, and the world.

“We are unveiling the first world-class controlled fusion device to have been designed, built and operated by a private venture. The ST40 is a machine that will show fusion temperatures – 100 million degrees – are possible in compact, cost-effective reactors.

“This will allow fusion power to be achieved in years, not decades.”

He said the project, now half way to the goal of fusion energy, still needed “significant investment”.

To date, the company has raised £20 million from private contributors.

Dr Kingham added: “Our approach continues to be to break the journey down into a series of engineering challenges, raising additional investment on reaching each new milestone.”

© Energy Voice 2017. All rights reserved.

Surely, The Ameri Power Agreement Can Be Abrogated?

On grounds it was procured by an illegality, and is merely voidable at the instance of the party innocent of that illegality, the Republic Of Ghana, surely, the AMERI power agreement can be abrogated?

To quote an incensed old wag I know: "Kofi, to use a pidgin English phrase of infamy, 'To chop Ghana small' to the tune of some US$150 million is intolerable, unspeakable, unpardonable and abominable. No question."  Well, said. Patriot.

That a Swedish conman, Umar Farouq Zahoor, wanted by police in Sweden and Switzerland for swindling people out of vast sums in Europe, can come all the way from Dubai to get public officials in Ghana to sign a one-sided power agreement favouring the company he was then representing, AMERI, which relieved taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars without bribing anyone in this country is pretty hard to believe.

The question is: Why does the current government not offer anyone with  knowledge of any such bribery offered by officials of the Dubai-based company in the AMERI power agreement, 10 percent of the US$150 million excess payment and immunity from prosecution, on top, for providing that vital fresh evidence?

Finally, this blog  has dug up the little beauty below from Allen & Overy, for the brilliant Mr. Philip Addison, to help Ghana make the case that the AMERI power agreement is voidable by Mother Ghana, the innocent  party led up the garden path by the wiles of the  forked-tongued-rogue-and-charmer,  Umar Farooq Zahoor, and therefore ought to be abrogated. Asap. Full stop.

Please read on:.

"Enforceability of contract procured by corruption
16 May 2016

​The English High Court ruled in National Iranian Oil Company v Crescent Petroleum Company International Ltd & Crescent Gas Corporation Ltd [2016] EWHC 510 (Comm) that there is no English public policy that would preclude enforcement of a contract procured by corruption (as opposed to a contract illegal in itself, such as a contract to pay a bribe). Under English law, a contract procured by bribery is voidable at the instance of the innocent party.  

National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and Crescent Petroleum Company International (Crescent Petroleum, a UAE entity) entered into a long-term gas supply and purchase contract. The contract was governed by Iranian law and referred all disputes, including disputes in relation to the validity of the contract, to arbitration. In 2003, Crescent Petroleum purported to assign the contract to its subsidiary Crescent Gas Corporation Ltd (Crescent Gas). In 2009, Crescent Petroleum and Crescent Gas (Crescent entities) commenced LCIA arbitration proceedings against NIOC claiming that it had breached its obligation to deliver gas under the contract.

In the arbitration, NIOC argued that the contract was not enforceable because it was procured by a bribe. The LCIA tribunal considered evidence of corruption in the arbitration, including at a 30-day evidentiary hearing. The tribunal rendered an award in favour of the Crescent entities ruling that the contract was valid and binding and that NIOC had been in breach since 2005. On the issue of corruption, the tribunal found that, although there was an attempt to bribe, there was no evidence that the contract was tainted by it and there was no evidence of imbalance in the parties' agreement.

NIOC challenged the award in the English High Court under s67 (lack of substantive jurisdiction) and s68 (award procured by fraud or contrary to public policy) of the English Arbitration Act 1996 (the EAA). NIOC contended that the award was not valid under English law because it resulted from a contract procured by Crescent's corruption, such that enforcement should be denied on public policy grounds (s68(2)(g) of the EAA). NIOC did not rely on any fresh evidence of corruption and argued that, although the arbitral tribunal dismissed the allegations of corruption, the court considering English public policy may take a different view. It also argued, albeit creatively, that even if the attempt to bribe failed, the contract was tainted by Crescent's misconduct, and that the taint was sufficient to deny enforcement.

Burton J ruled that NIOC's challenge was unarguable and had "no reasonable prospect of success".

No English public policy requiring court to refuse to enforce a contract procured by bribery

The principal issues before the High Court on the public policy argument were, in essence:

    Is an award contrary to public policy if the underlying contract was procured by corruption (as opposed to the subject matter of the contract itself being illegal)?
    Can the court reopen public policy issues if they have already been considered and decided by the arbitral tribunal?

On the first issue, Burton J agreed with Honeywell International Middle East Ltd v Meydan Group LLC [2014] EWHC 1344 (TCC), drawing a distinction between the enforcement of: (i) contracts to commit an illegality; and (ii) contracts procured by an illegality. While the former are void, the latter are only voidable at the election of the innocent party with counter-restitution and can accordingly be enforced. The judge noted that there is certainly no English public policy requiring the court to refuse enforcement of a contract which has been preceded, and is unaffected, by an unsuccessful attempt to bribe, on the basis that such contract is allegedly tainted. Introducing a concept of tainting of a contract which is otherwise legal and enforceable would create uncertainty and undermine party autonomy.

On the second issue, the judge agreed with previous decisions of the English courts which generally refuse to reopen the findings of an arbitral tribunal, absent "fresh evidence" or save in "very exceptional circumstances" (see, eg, Westacre Investments Inc v Jugoimport-SDRP Holding Company Ltd [1999] QB 740). Critically, the allegations of bribery were considered and rejected by the arbitral tribunal "after full consideration and evidence" in the arbitration. Burton J ruled that there was no basis to reopen the tribunal's decision on this point because there was no fresh evidence of corruption and no exceptional circumstances that would justify doing so.

Comment: The case confirms previous case law, including Honeywell and Westacre, that there is no English public policy requiring an English court to refuse enforcement of a contract procured by an illegality (to be contrasted with contracts that are illegal per se – for example, a contract to pay a bribe). Where a contract is procured by an illegality, it is merely voidable at the instance of the party innocent of the illegality (in this case, NIOC) as opposed to being automatically void and therefore unenforceable for being contrary to public policy. Here, the contract could have been avoided by NIOC if it had correctly argued that the contract was voidable (but it does not appear to have done so). By contrast, if the tables were reversed and it was NIOC who sought to enforce its rights under the contract against Crescent entities, the latter could not have resisted enforcement because they were not the "innocent" party.

While Burton J held that the court would not interfere with a contract even if one or more of the parties had committed criminal acts for which they could be prosecuted, he considered the claimant's counsel's arguments based on recent international conventions to outlaw bribery and the increase of legislation to criminalise it.  However, these arguments were not sufficient to persuade the court to change English public policy on the enforcement of a contract procured by bribery.

It is worth remembering however that under the English Bribery Act 2010, it is a criminal offence to offer a bribe (even if the bribe is not accepted). Moreover, any proceeds from a contract procured by bribery may constitute criminal property and be covered by money laundering rules. UK companies and foreign companies carrying on business or a part of their business in the UK are caught by the English Bribery Act 2010. 

Parties who are considering making corruption allegations before the English courts in order to resist enforcement of a contract should bear in mind that the evidentiary threshold for proving corruption is high; direct evidence is often unavailable and circumstantial evidence may be insufficient. Moreover, once corruption allegations are made, and regardless of the outcome of these assertions, the commercial relationship between the parties will likely be irreparably compromised. 

This case is also a useful reminder that, where issues of corruption had been considered by an arbitral tribunal, fresh evidence is required in order to reopen the arbitrators' decision before the English courts. The threshold for challenging an award on public policy grounds under s68 of the EAA is very high and the English court will not conduct a review on the merits of an arbitral award.

Further Information

This case summary is part of the Allen & Overy Litigation and Dispute Resolution Review, a monthly publication.  For more information please contact Sarah Garvey, or tel +44 20 3088 3710.

  ©2017 Allen & Overy LLP"

End of culled publication from the website of Allen & Overy LLP.