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Environmental Scanning through a collection of:
SIGNS OF THE TIMES, TRENDS AND TREND BABIES 1999-2009



 

What is a Sign of the Times? Signs of the times are the result of information gathering that looks for inventions, innovations, attitudes and actions. Signs of the times come from many sources, are systematically gathered and have meaning for the future.

What is a Trend? A trend is long-range and persistent; it effects many societal groups, grows slowly and is profound. In contrast, a fad is short-term, "in", effects particular societal groups, spreads quickly and is superficial.

What is a Mega-trend? A mega-trend extends over many generations, and in cases of weather, mega-trends can cover periods prior to human existence. They describe complex interactions with many factors and they often represent the introduction of several new paradigms or worldviews that arise in hunting and gathering, agriculture, and industrial societies.

Trend babies: Here you find general trends or signs of new trends ("trend babies") from the categories social, technical, ecological, economic or political. Trend babies grow from innovations in the above categories that have the potential of going mainstream in the future (for example: just a few years ago, alternative medicine was truly alternative. Now it is big business and very respectable). The choice of trends is naturally influenced by the author's values.

Trend families: Very often, the chosen Signs are members of a trend family. A parent trend (for example, the change from an industrial society to a knowledge-based society) is well documented. The ways in which such sweeping trends play themselves out in various parts of the community represent the "members of that trends family".

Examples: Jobs in the industrial sector have shrunk causing widespread unemployment.

 

Many countries see small business as a solution to unemployment, driving unprecedented attention to small business in many countries legislatures.

Another example of a trend related to the move from industrial to knowledge society is the privatization of the education industry.

As in all cases in Signs, sustainability is one of the larger branches from which many other twig-sized trends grow. Sustainability is "the property of being sustainable", "using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged". In Signs, I use it to mean sustainable development, "an approach to economic planning that attempts to foster economic growth while preserving the quality of the environment for future generations."

Confirming Trends: When does a "trend baby", gain acceptance as a bona fide trend? When it gets enough confirmation in the various media to show it is an increasingly accepted value, behavior or technology.

Geographical trend growth and "bellwether" geographic sites: There is also an attempt to follow the global spread of trends that have started in the West (for example, Women's rights are a generally accepted topic in the media and on the Internet. Just how and when women's rights develop in various countries can represent global growth of that trend.) Some places seem to lead development in one or a variety of areas and are looked to as the source of new trends. California has long been considered as bellwether for the United States. The Nordic countries of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark have been considered bellwether in social innovation.

All trends, to a greater or lesser degree affect our lives, our work and our futures. Our ability to understand that effect can many times make a positive difference in the quality of our lives.

 

Back to Signs of the Times.

 

from April 25, 2007
 
For commentaries on these Signs of the Times see the Blog entitled Signs Commentaries at visionscentret.blogspot.com
 

Search Signs of the Times:

 

Trend

Sustainable Neighborhoods

America's Best Eco-Neighborhoods

The article lists the 10 best urban, ecological neighborhoods in the United States. The criteria includes: “community involvement; shopping, libraries and schools within a walkable area; public transportation; and locally owned businesses. Some are more affordable than others, but most have mixed-income housing and relatively diverse populations. They encompass environmental and/or social programs; parks, green spaces and neighborhood gathering spaces; farmer’s markets and community gardens; and sometimes alternative-energy programs and green building practices”.

The cities that had winning neighborhoods were: Asheville, North Carolina, Austin, Texas, Bozeman, Montana, Brooklyn, New York, Chicago, Illinois, Denver, Colorado, Indianapolis, Indiana, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Seattle, Washington. You will have to look up the article to see which neighborhoods are the actual prize winners.

Source: Natural Home
 
Date: January 30, 2007
 
Author: Karen Romer
 
URL: www.naturalhomeandgarden.com/good-to-know/
2007-01-01/#storycontinues

 


 
 

Trend

Technology and human beings merge

Emotion robots learn from people

There are two trends growing parallel to one another, one is the development of robots to be more like people, and the other is the addition of many technical and electronic parts to human. In this case, robots are learning to respond to the emotions of real people.
The goal is to build robots that "learn from humans and respond in a socially and emotionally appropriate manner". It is intended that they are being prepared to play a part in human society.

“Feelix Growing” is the name of the project made up of six countries, 25 roboticists, developmental psychologists and neuroscientists. Each of the six countries is concentrating on different emotional interactions. The other side of the picture is the “transhuman” which started as human, but is implanted with many mechanical and electronic devices that will allow sight, locomotion, heartbeat, arm and hand movement and much more.

Source: BBC News
 
Date: January 23, 2007
 
URL: news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6389105.stm

 


 
 

Trend

Sustainable - economy

Urbanization's Green Outgrowth

Many of us are not used to thinking of urban South America as the basis of economic leadership. Recycling started in Bogotá as early as the 1970’s. World Watch Institute points out, in State of the World, 2007, that some of the most aggressive examples of sustainable activity are coming from South America.

Examples are Loja, Ecuador, where ten years ago the city suffered from deforestation, pollution and uncontrollable sprawl. In land use and environmental protection policies, Loja requires developers to set aside 20 percent of the land for public space. The resulting parks and green spaces have improved water management and public health. The cities recycling program has a compliance rate of 95 percent while recycling "all organic waste and over 50 percent of the inorganic waste," according to the World Watch Institute. If citizens do not recycle the city will eventually shut off their water supply. The metro transport system developed in Curitiba, Brazil, became the model for other such transportation systems.  The model was applied to Bogota and now transports 53,000 passengers per direction per hour. Their campaign to take back the space that private automobile use usurped is known as "the world's most aggressive campaign to recapture public space from private automobile users". Bogotá, commandeered traffic lanes and used them for a rapid-transit bus system. The gains have been new parks, pedestrian-only streets and miles of dedicated bike lanes. The concept has spread to TransJakarta in Indonesia and Los Angeles.

Source: Washington Post.com
 
Date: January 12, 2007
 
Author: Marcela Sanchez
 
URL: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/
article/2007/01/11/AR2007011101165.html

 


 
 

Trend

Sustainability – green building trend grows

S.F. JOINS THE GREEN TREND
NEW DEVELOPMENT: Many companies eager to build in environmentally friendly manner

Construction according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards is growing. A McGraw-Hill study predicted that 2007 would be a "tipping point'' in residential housing. At that time most builders will be constructing green houses at least 15% of the time and non-residential construction would be at 10%.  School construction appears to be the fastest growing sector using LEED standards.

Some of the features in green constructions are natural lighting, solar power, low-flow water fixtures, no-flush urinals that use a chemical trap instead of water, and even use of nontoxic paints, glue, carpets and varnishes. A popular new product is an elevator that produces electricity as it descends. Green roofs, which insolate and green walls which clean grey water are also increasing every year.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle
 
Date: February 4, 2007
 
Author: Patrick Hoge
 
URL: www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?
file=/c/a/2007/02/04/MNG9ONUKVR1.DTL

 


 
 

Trend

Democracy- The development of female political participation

Politikerskola för kvinnor (School for political women)

In Turkey women are learning how to play a more active roll in Turkish politics. Totally 200 women in lobbying, gender questions, debate and control techniques are being trained to increase female participation in parliament. They learn to identify those situations when they give away their power. Some of the participants are already in politics and some desire to be. They have been invited to a course in politics, especially those seeking president and parliamentary positions. Women in Turkey have been able to vote since 1926 but their female participation in parliament is among the worst in the world at 4.4%. The women have different political backgrounds but work together to develop their common interests.

The financing for this program comes from Sweden to the tune of 600 thousand kronor. Turkey is at this time struggling with entry to the European Union. The women identify those issues stopping their participation and learn how to deal with them. The female fight is where money and power meet. In Turkey, the money and power is still in the political realm where as in Sweden the money and power have moved to the business world.

Source: P1-morgon
 
Date: January 26, 2007
 
Reporter: Caroline Salzinger
 
URL: www.sr.se/cgi-bin/p1/program/arkiv.asp?ProgramID
=1650&formatID=116&Max=2038-04-15&Min=2004-04-21
&PeriodStart=2007-02-01&Period=3&Artikel=1223043

 


 
 

Trend

Towards the elimination of autism

Scientists Find Genetic Links to Autism

The rate of autism is going up and there are no clear reasons why. However recent studies of the genetic make-up of almost 1200 families with two or more members affected have revealed a couple of areas that were genetically similar. The genetic studies are a cooperative arrangement between nineteen (19) countries and involve fifty (50) institutions.

In the United States one in every 150 people has autism. That has risen from 2004 when there were 1 in every 166 people afflicted. The Autism Society of America says that the rate of increase is between 10 and 17 percent per year. In May of 2004, Signs of the Times cited a report stating that high fetal testosterone levels can be involved in Autism. It is good to see that the disorder is being looked at from different viewpoints. It also indicates just how much more work is needed.

Source: Red Herring, The Business of Technology
 
Date: February 19, 2007
 
Author: Marisa Taylor
 
URL: www.redherring.com/Article.aspx?a
=21358&hed=Scientists+Find+Genetic+Links+to+Autism

 


 
 

Trend

Values change- greater rights to animals

Jays travel in time to be sure of breakfast

This research is one of several looking for traditionally-labeled human attributes such as feeling pain, feelings in animals and now the ability to plan for the future. In this case, Western scrub jays (Aphelocoma californica) who normally store food were studied. They were feed morning and evening with the exception that breakfast was withheld periodically. The birds learned to store some of dinner for the next morning. In earlier research with the same birds, researchers found that they were able to discern the mind states of other birds (those thought to steal from them) and hid there food-stores more carefully, revealing the propensity for planning against shortages and potential robberies.

The idea that human beings are different from other animals in that they can plan for the future is well established in the mind of the general public. An old prejudice of birds’ small size has kept people from seeing their intellectual capacities. We have learned that it is our large brains that have contributed to our superior intellect. This current line of research can lead us to evaluate our relationship with birds and animals in general.

Source: Nature
 
Date: February 21, 2007
 
Author: Kerri Smith
 
URL: http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070219/full/070219-6.html

 


 
    Back to Signs of the Times.  
       
  from March 24, 2007  
 

Trend

Changing paradigms

Sneaking God into science by the back door: Time for the UK to confront 'Intelligent Design'

The difference in beliefs regarding the earth’s creation and how we came to be has been centered in the United States. A public opinion poll in England in 2006 of 2000 individuals suggests the dichotomy of beliefs exists there as well. Over half no longer accept the scientifically tested theory of evolution.
  • 22% chose creationism
  • 17% opted for intelligent design
  • 48% selected evolutionary theory
  • the rest didn't know

It isn’t so shocking that such thinking would be similar in the U.S. and the U.K. What will be interesting is if this trend spreads throughout Europe and into other cultures.

Source: Social Issues Research Center
 
Date: March 16 2006
 
Author: Elanor Taylor
 
URL: www.sirc.org/articles/intelligent_design.shtml

 


 
 

Trend

The portable trend

Mobiloperatören 3 släpper in Skype (Mobil Telephone operator 3 lets in Skype)

Soon you will have one tool that will allow you to watch television, listen to radio, telephone (without the per-minute charge), write, calculate (work on statistical worksheets) and access into all your computer files.
Naturally, you will have all your own music in the same device along with the traditional messaging, e-mail and internet.

All the communications technologies are moving into the same small instrument we can carry with us when we move about. Prices appear to be coming together as well. A monthly fee will be charged for all services. One of the companies introducing the technology says that getting people to buy into the new services is a mater of “education”. It is easiest to introduce the product in Asian countries where these portable services are more easily accepted. When Europeans see that others use the enhanced equipment they will be more motivated to try it themselves.

Source: P1 Vetenskapsradio Tekno (Swedish channel P1)
 
Date: January 28, 2007
 
Editor: Per Gustafsson
 
URL: www.sr.se/cgi-bin/p1/program/index.asp?programid=2116

 


 
 

Trend

Fine tuning economic globalization

Fractal Transactions: Launching a New Era in the Future of Money

Futurist Thomas Frey offers an economic scenario for internet payment. When you make a purchase on the internet, several related businesses will be paid simultaneously. The example given is of an Amazon (mainly known for its internet book sales) purchase. When you make a payment it will be divided instantly between the author, the publisher, Amazon and the shipping company. Several patents have been filed in the area. Working models are still experimental so reality is not far off.

These transactions have been given the name “Fractal Transactions. Programs are taking consideration of security and accountability factors. This new way of doing business will be a challenge due to the use of automated spreadsheets, the speed with which they occur.

Source: DaVinci Institute
 
Date: January 27, 2007
 
Author: Thomas Frey
 
URL: www.davinciinstitute.com/page.php?ID=141

 


 
 

Trend

Sustainable water methods

New Developments in Sustainable Technology

Clean water shortages are not news. What is news are methods for building new infrastructures in to housing development that will clean water and re-introduce it back into the environment.

Currently, urban water is partially cleaned or not cleaned at all and dumped into rivers, lakes and the ocean with unsustainable results. Septic tanks used in rural areas require lots of land in order to filter and clean the water. The land eventually becomes “plugged”. In addition, septic systems require a lot of land in order to work, land which is increasingly short in supply. One suggested method is to cluster housing on small lots where pastures once existed. Forested areas, wetlands and drainage ways would be used to purify the water before it returns to the ground water system. In Wyoming, USA, development of 136 homes will be built near a constructed wetland area which will purify water for these homes. A process called Dip irrigation will be used to return the water back into the system.

Source: Environmental News Network
 
Date: January 27, 2007
 
Author: George Furukawa interviewing Curtis J. Sparks
 
URL: www.enn.com/greenb.html?id=1303

 


 
 

Trend

Decolonization of native lands

Aboriginer ges rätt till attraktivt landområde (Aborigines given the right to attractive areas)
Indiskt djungelfolk får laglig rätt till sin skog (Indian jungle dwelers get legal right to their forests)

Two articles strengthen the trend to decolonization or giving back at least some of the rights and lands taken by “National” governments who were often immigrants or invaders. In the first article, in Australia, where 6000 square kilometers of rainforest and national parks in the East were returned to local native populations. Australia’s Aborigines are some of the first to begin to use protests and the court system to get back what little they can. In India, there are 40 million Indians living deep in the jungle. There substance comes from farming fishing, hunting and gathering roots and plants.

In Australia the 250 members of the Githabul tribe will be taking over hunting and fishing rights in the national parks. They also have rights when it comes to hunting protected species. The Githabul will also be able to run businesses associated with the National Park. As in India, native peoples were seen as criminals when carrying out a life style that was their cultural heritage. Now they will be able to live off the land if they so choose. The reality is that living off the land requires a lot of territory, just as it did for their hunting and gathering forefathers. That kind of lifestyle will not support many individuals. The others will still have to get educations and move into a 9-5 working life with a salary.

Source 1: Miljömagasinet
Source 2: Miljömagasinet
 
Date 1: January 5, 2007
Date 2: January 5, 2007
 
Author 1: TT-Reuters
Author 1: TT-Reuters

 

 


 
 

Trend

Ending addiction problems

Damage to the Insula Disrupts Addiction to Cigarette Smoking

Scientists have discovered the brain system responsible for maintaining the addiction to cigarette smoking has been identified. The discovery was made when it was found that individuals with damage to a portion of the brain called the insula lost the urge to smoke and never relapsed unlike the four out of five smokers who have tried to quit.

The next step is to discover the signals for nicotine and other addictive substances sent by the insula and learn to turn them off. There was no time table given for practical implementation of the discovery. The implications could be revolutionary.

Source: Science Magazine, Vol. 315. no. 5811, pp. 531 - 534
 
Date: January 26, 2007
 
Authors: Nasir H. Naqvi, David Rudrauf, Hanna Damasio, Antoine Bechara
 
URL: www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/315/5811/531

 


 
 

Trend

Chinese hegemony trend questioned

China Scrambles for Stability as Its Workers Age

It has been believed that China may be the next hegemonic (ruling) country of the world, taking over from the United States. The worlds investors look at the high growth rates in the Chinese economy and see the trend continuing for quite some time. One aspect of the economy in China speaks against the continued growth rate of the economy. That is the growing numbers of people 60 and older. China has low retirement ages and the proportion of people 60 and older is growing at a greater speed than other major countries. In the period between 2005 and 2015, the United Nations calculates that 200 million people will be age 60 or older in China. This will more than double by 2050 to 430 million or 1/3rd of the total population. Some of the contributors to this situation, the shortage of cheep labor is drying up, changes in the Chinese family due to the one-child policy, laid off’s from failed state owned enterprises, the need for a young couple to care for four elderly parents, high unemployment rates for university graduates as well as for those who have not studies at university and a promise for lifelong promise of retirement. All of this poses a huge threat to the Chinese economy.

The government is trying to do some things to alleviate the problem without angering large groups of citizens. In trying to move from a structured state economy to a market economy they have revised the pension system so that the fixed contributions of older workers continue while those working in market economic industries have individual accounts.  Additions of funds have been made using the sale of lottery tickets and the initial offerings for stocks by foreigners. Adjustments to who is eligible for government retirement have been a failure, with women loosing out. Attempts are being made to slowly rise the retirement age. There is a huge group out in the countryside that are outside the current system who require some solution as well.

Source: New York Times
 
Date: March 22, 2007
 
Author: Howard W. French
 
Publisher 2: Natur& Trädgård
 
URL: www.nytimes.com/2007/03/22/world/asia/22china.html?ex=
1332216000&en=538eb6ef3b7b1942&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

 


 
    Back to Signs of the Times.  
       
  from February 20, 2007  
 

Trend

More inclusive education through technology

1. Javelin project
2. The Campus School EagleEyes project

1. This for profit project provides schools in remote areas of Ghana with educational Web sites and e-mail at low cost. Each school is provided with a local server on which educational web sites are stored. UHF data radios and cashing/mirroring software are used to store both web sites and e-mail. Moving within the server is fast and efficient (LAN speeds for e-mails). Updates and e-mails are periodically received/sent at a slower rate by the UHF data radios.
 
2. Those with severe physical disabilities and communication disorders can now use a computer by moving their eyes or head. Two technologies are used in this project called EagelEyes. Those who move only their eyes have electrodes placed upon their heads. Those who have head control have a “camera mouse”, a video camera which records their movement and makes the appropriate move. With this technology The EagelEyes project realizes the humanity of adults and children when they become able to express themselves and their needs and students can participate in formal learning tailored to their developmental level.

These are just a few of The Tech Museum Awards for 2006. See the rest at: www.techawards.org/laureates/search/results.php?Year=2006

Source 1: Arrow
Source 2: Boston College
 
Date 1: 2006
Date 2: 2006
 
URL 1: www.arrownetworks.net
URL 2: www.bc.edu/schools/csom/eagleeyes

 


 
 

Trend

The non-trend trend toward cleaner vehicles

 

The green car market is wide open. While we can say that the car market is looking a lot at hybrids at the moment there are a growing number of versions available or soon available. All the manufactures are coming with one or several versions. For now most hybrids run on electricity and gasoline. Hybrids are expected to take over a significant share of the market share in the next ten years. There are other choices here or on the way. Here are some examples: near-zero emission gasoline vehicles, advanced diesels, hybrids, and vehicles running on ethanol, electricity, natural gas, LPG, and hydrogen.

“Signs of the Times” tends to present energy trends in its technical choices. Naturally there are technical advances in medicine, communication etc. However, this author feels that energy is the pivot point on which we make the transition from carbon energy to non-polluting energy sources. Since transportation is one of our biggest polluters, what happens with vehicles is an important part of the transition. It appears that things will not change overnight, that hybrids are only a first step. Hydrogen is a possible next step as the technology continues to develop. In Sweden, there is a dominance of support for bio fuels, while nearby countries seem to be showing some interest in hydrogen.

Source: Green Car Journal Online
 
Date: November 13, 2006
 
URL: www.greencar.com/index.cfm?content=features

 


 
 

Trend

Economic sustainability – saving rural communities

A small town, rural success story

When the local community of Trångsviken, Sweden saw that a gloomy future scenario was becoming increasingly more credible, they decided on a more positive version. The citizens decided to fight against prevailing trends, people moving out, student population decreasing in schools and the threat of vital public services disappearing (postal, banking, pharmacy etc.). They realized they could not depend on anyone else but themselves to change the tide of trends that affected the whole of northern Sweden as well as trends that were a prevalent in rural areas all over the world. All this began twenty years ago, long before other areas were willing to face the problem.  Their strategy was to build a community center. Due to the fact that they began early, they were still able to finance this construction. Their goal was to create more companies, improve the conditions for a growing economic life and all those in the community.  In the new community center they located their newly built, for-profit company. Most of the board members are involved in businesses outside the area. The company offers mentor services, advice and financial help that no banks were willing to provide. A daughter firm takes responsibilities for communal services and activities such as banking, library and pharmacy. A restaurant serves lunch to students, the business community as well as international guests and citizens. All this is housed within the community center. They also offer rooms for conferences, private parties and dinners. In other words, they created a meeting place for all members of the community.

Currently there are almost 80 companies in Trångsviken, a community in Northern Sweden of 700 people. Several of the companies are world leaders in their fields. Children are encouraged in school to think about having their own business. They bake bread and make jelly from local berries, which are sold within the community. There are no empty houses or apartments in this community and new homes are being built including an exclusive area of ecologically built homes. There is an emphasis on building networks and the success of this turnaround is being visited by delegations as far away as Mongolia.

Source: Trångsviken
 
Date: November 13, 2006
 
URL: www.trangsviken.se/sv/content/trangsviksbolaget

 


 
 

Trend

Natural Resources -To use or not to use

Damm väcker heta känslor på Island (Damn awakens heated emotions in Iceland)

A damn project has divided public in Iceland into two groups, for and against. Fish and energy have been two staples of the Icelandic economy, this project is intended to increase energy supplies to provide for a aluminum smelting facility intended to provide another export product. Critics point out that the damn has been built in the middle of the countries volcano and earthquake zone. Supporters point out that Iceland has nothing else to sell. They feel their critics want to preserve the highlands untouched, without regard for the economy.
 
For twenty years the oil industry has been attempting to get permission to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska ANWR. The arguments against have been the harm that would come to caribou, polar bears and huge numbers of migratory birds.  Those for feel it is critical to energy security in the United States. The fight seems to have been won with a compromise. The latest move is legislation, American Made Energy Act (HR 5890), which creates an energy trust fund providing funds for a energy research, primarily an new technology for ethanol production, storage and distribution. It is to be funded by leases and production in the ANWR.

The factor that ties these two situations is the debate between using natural resources we have now to survive in the present, or not to use them at all and find other solutions. In this time of paradigm change from fossil fuels to renewable energy there will be many such battles. There will always be two sides, those focused on the present and the near future and those focused on the longer term.

Source: Swedish Radio ! Science program
 
Date: October 13, 2006
 
URL 1: www.sr.se/cgi-bin/p1/program/artikel.asp?ProgramID=415&Artikel=97028
URL 2: www.anwr.org

 


 
 

Trend

New solutions to election problems

Getting Clean in Main - the power of public campaign funding

One of democracies greatest symbols is voting and the right to vote. In the United States this process has been plagued by electronic voting machine problems, an increase in corporate voting to get favorable conditions for their company, contributions by lobby’s to get favors for their field, plain old fashion cheating and a massive name calling and dirty politics, and down right lying about opponents.

Clean Elections is a process where by candidates collect a preset number of individual contributions from individuals at the rate of five dollars each. When they have collected the agreed number, they receive public funding from which to run their campaigns. Politicians using these process are called Clean Elections candidates and their potential voters have that information when they make their decisions. Such candidates have agreed that they will not take money from any other industry or lobbyist. In the state of Maine, in the U.S. eighty percent ran as Clean Elections candidates in the recent 2006 elections. A number of others states are taking on the same laws.  This seems to work for state elections where the costs are not as high as national elections.

Source: Yes! Magazine
 
Date: Fall 2006
 
Author: Nancy Waltzman

 

 


 
 

Trend

Reaching critical mass in US health care

A Growing Movement

From a European and Canadian perspective the health care system in the United States has been a subject of criticism and admiration. The research and the services available to the richer few was the subject of admiration. The lack of health insurance for many citizens of lesser means has been a subject of criticism. Even inside the United States health insurance and availability of care has been discussed for a long time. At least one writer, Linda Walling, points to a growth in the movement for universal health care, growth that appears to be reaching a critical mass.

The struggle for universal health insurance has been going on for almost 100 years. It is the crisis proportions of the problem that are spurring change, mostly at local and state level. Some examples of statewide action: California’ s attempt to pass a bill requiring employers to pay for health insurance for workers over 50 years old; The Main Dirigo Health Reform Act- which covers 10,000 people without previous insurance; Illinois’ process for forming health legislation which resulted in the Illinois Health Car for all Children law; health care plan in Maryland which requires employers with more than 10,000 workers to pay for health care benefits; Massachusetts health reform package passed by a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor; Vermont’s newly passed the Health Care Affordability Act.

Source: Yes! Magazine
Date: Fall 2006
Author: Reverend Linda H. Walling
 
URL: www.yesmagazine.org

 


 
 

Trend

Healthier foods

Mitt på det skotska höglandet finns en prunkande lustgård (In the middle of the Scottish Highlands there is a dazzling Garden of Eden)

1. As the earth becomes increasingly depleted of nutrients and petrochemical fertilizers are on the outs, new ideas on how to grow healthier, more nutritious fruits and vegetables come into vogue. Our ill health and obesity problems are also drivers of a healthy food trend. In Scotland, a couple has found that volcanic rock, crushed to a powder was the original source of nutrition that each ice age contributed to the soil. Then, it was crushed over tens of thousands of years of ice movement, but by mining and pulverising it, one can mimic nature on a small scale and apply this mineral rich powder to ones soil with excellent results.
2. A Swedish author, Nils Åkerstedt, proposes grass clipping mixed with sand as the ideal growing medium for vegetables and flowers.  He has worked on his theory for 20 years with good results.

Look for more research on nutritional levels in various foods, land prices to vary depending on their nutrient content and other methods to enrich soil, both at home an in large-scale agriculture production. Higher nutrition foods may continue to cost more just as biodynamic foods cost more than regular foods.

Source 1: Svenska Dagbladet
Source 2: Min Trädgård – vecka för vecka, ISBN: 91-973755-1-9
 
Date 1 : November 12, 2006
Date 2 : November 12, 2006
 
Author 1 : Henrik Ennart
Author 2 : Åkerstedt
 
Publisher 2: Natur& Trädgård
 
URL 1: www.svd.se/dynamiskt/inrikes/did_14048633.asp
URL 2: www.naturochtradgard.se

 


 
    Back to Signs of the Times.  
       
  from January 20, 2007  
 

Trend

Behavioral change antidote to global warming

Offset Your Vehicle CO2 Load through TerraPass

The process by which we make large scale societal change has been and is being studied in a cross disciplinary field called innovation diffusion. One such study finds that some of the population can consider a changed situation as long as it doesn’t impact their life style. The Terrapass web site caters to those of us who just can’t, for any number of reasons change our personal routines and practices. Driving and car ownership are too integral to our definition of who we are. We can use our bad habits to help finance clean energy development and reduce the source of global warming.

After having calculated the CO2 emissions from your automobile (or your plane travel) on a yearly basis you pay an amount “as little as” $29.95 per year (small fuel efficient vehicles). This amount is then invested in one of three types of energy, wind or biomass.  Industrial plants can also calculate their usage and invest in clean energy. Your CO2 still pollutes the atmosphere, but as you drive you increase the proportion of clean energy that is available. A third party (or several parties) monitor this transaction to make sure everything is “on the up and up”

Source: terrapass
Date: August 11 2006
 
 
URL: www.terrapass.com/

 


 
 

Trend

Sustainability - energy

Engineer Designs System To Put Wastewater To Work

Society is and will be trying any number of methods to find new ways of providing clean energy. An enterprising assistant professor of chemical engineering at Washington University in St. Louis is perfecting a method for energy creation from used and dirty water that comes from industry. The final product is clean water and energy.

Using hungry bacteria, the researcher produces both cleaner water and food. The bacteria ingest the organic material in the waste water. At the same time they release the electrons to an “anodic electrode” via copper wire. The resulting electrons are drawn to the cathodic electrode via en copper wire which forms them into protons. Once in, the protons go through a membrane where a reaction is formed with electrons, resulting in water.

Source: Power Online
Date: August 8, 2006
 
 
URL: www.poweronline.com/content/news/article.asp?
DocID={297F44A0-98A3-41D0-8CE2-62B458C688C5}&
Bucket=Latest+Headlines&VNETCOOKIE=NO

 


 
 

Trend

Future of Economic leadership

A discussion on the world's biggest economies with Daniel Franklin, editor, The World in 2006

In the year 2026 we will still find the United States in the top five. The top purchasing powers will be in China (22% or 1/5th), U.S.A., India and Japan with 1/10th of the world economi each. And the European countries of Germany and France with three to four percent each.

It is interesting to note that “superpowership” is predicted to be split between military power and economic power. Many are predicting the fall of the U. S. as a world power and some say that economically it began to go down hill in the seventies. If a country looses economic power, how long can it maintain military power?

Source: Economist
Date: August 30, 2006
Speaker: Daniel Franklin
 
URL: www.economist.com/theworldin/podcast/?d=2006

 


 
 

Trend

Global government?

UN Reform

A reform package has been submitted to the U. N. this summer. The reforms range from bureaucratic to political. There are two essential views of the goal of “reform”, which has occurred about every eight years, but has recently taken on speed. The superpower view is that of a weak UN with a small budget and little to say about economic matters. The opposing view comes from a variety of countries who feel that the UN should be stronger and more effective in its multilateral policy making. Essentially, UN’s problems stem from the differences in values and approaches of the member states themselves.

The United Nations is seen by many as the only democratic global organ on the planet. However, if it is ever to be effective, some of the proposed reforms will have to be met. Specifically, proposed changes in the Security Council structure. The battle continues without any mutually acceptable suggestions.

Source: Global Policy
Date: August 30, 2006
 
URL: www.globalpolicy.org/reform/index.htm

 


 
 

Trend

Sustainability - Recycling

Resource Conservation and Recycling Eco-Friendly Recycled Candy Wrapper Handbags, Belts & Accessories

The talk of recycling is beginning to disappear and refurbished  or new products made with recycled materials are becoming available.
Your next copier, computer, can be made with reused parts. You will find recycled paper in tissue products, Cereal boxes and newsprint. Recycled plastics are used in making new bottles. The asphalt, concrete, and the metal in new cars is recycled again and again.

A whole book on art, jewelry, practical household items, toys and even a measuring scale made of two sardine cans has been written by Charlene Cerny. Other recycled materials used are candy wrappers, movie billboards, Many carrying and handbags, belts and jewelry are produced for high-end, trendy and fashion markets.

Source 1: Google search “global recycled product sales” Tanzania Development Gateway
Source 2 : Tanzania Development Gateway
Date 1 : August 29, 2006
Date 2 : August 29, 2006
 
URL 1: www.google.com/search?hl=en&newwindow=
1&rls=RNWE%2CRNWE%3A2005-13%2CRNWE%3Aen&q=
global+recycled+product+sales&btnG=Search&lr=

URL 2: www.tanzaniagateway.org/news/news/article.asp?ID=128
URL 3: www.ecoist.com/

 

 


 
 

Trend

Longer, more thoughtful travel

The future of travel: where do we go from here?

A number of pressures may change the airline industry and our way of vacationing. In retrospect, the present may be seen as the period of peak travel. High oil prices, generally high stress, growing concern about the planet and security issues may all work to keep us from flying less and taking longer vacations where we really get to know an area. The growing discomfort of air travel may not seem worth it for the shorter trip, where as a longer trip may make the discomfort less of a disadvantage. The weekend getaway may have seen its final days. Mark Ellingham and Tony Wheeler, founders of Rough Guide and Lonely Planet are encouraging travelers to travel less and spend more time when they arrive. The result could be better relations between hose communities and increased cultural sensitivity.

Guide books will turn into pod casts, and iris scanners come into greater use, speeding boarding time. The future looks a little bleak for low-cost flying. It appears that English companies are beginning to make a distinction between “soft” holidays which are days where employees must work a number of hours at a freely chosen location or “hard” holidays which are the days where the employer can not reach them.

Source: The Independent
Date: August 15, 2006
Author: Simon Calder
 
URL: travel.independent.co.uk/news_and_advice/article1219376.ece

 


 
 

Trend

Hegemonic power – The future of American politics

The Future of the Bush Doctrine on US Foreign Policy

Neo conservatism is the name given the political thinking which describes much of the statements, policy and action under the Bush presidency. In less than two years Bush’s second term of office ends. Both terms have been connected with a great deal of criticism. Hate comes from within and without, from the rest of the world. Some of this is to be expected when directed to the hegemonic world power, but the rest has been a direct dislike of neo conservatism, here defined by the author: “unapologetically encourages the United States to embrace the burdens of a superpower and to be unafraid to resort to military action. Neoconservatives also wish to give “moral clarity” to US foreign policy, hence the language in Bush’s speeches on freedom and liberty. Neoconservatives want greater political and military flexibility for the United States to act unilaterally and preemptively because they share a disdain for what they see as ineffective international organizations that have failed to spread democratic values and curb oppressive regimes.” Naturally, there are different ideas as to just what neo conservatism means, but the above is that which is agreed upon.

The author does not see neo conservatism continuing with a new administration because of previous: inability to move from rhetoric to action, inflammatory talk, drive to handle things alone and the relationship to unbridled free trade policy. This will result loss of position as a guiding force behind American politics and loss of support from voters. What will remain is discussion of liberty and democratic values.

Source: Harvard International Review
Date: 2006
Author: International Review staff
 
URL: hir.harvard.edu/articles/1452/2/

 


 
    Back to Signs of the Times.  
       
  from November 26, 2006  
 

Trend

More inclusive education through technology

1. Javelin project
2. The Campus School EagleEyes project

1. This for profit project provides schools in remote areas of Ghana with educational Web sites and e-mail at low cost. Each school is provided with a local serves on which educational web sites are stored. UHF data radios and cashing/mirroring software are used to store both web sites and e-mail. Moving within the server is fast and efficient (LAN speeds for e-mails). Updates and e-mails are periodically received/sent at a slower rate by the UHF data radios.
 
2. Those with severe physical disabilities and communication disorders can now use a computer by moving their eyes or head. Two technologies are used in this project called EagelEyes. Those who move only their eyes have electrodes placed upon their heads. Those who have head control have a “camera mouse”, a video camera which records their movement and makes the appropriate move. With this technology The EagelEyes project realizes the humanity of adults and children when they become able to express themselves and their needs and students can participate in formal learning tailored to their developmental level.

These are just a few of The Tech Museum Awards for 2006. See the rest at:
www.techawards.org/laureates/search/results.php?Year=2006

Source: 1.Arrow 2. Boston College
Date: 1. 2006, 2. 2006
 
 
URL 1 : www.arrownetworks.net/
URL 2 : www.bc.edu/schools/csom/eagleeyes/

 


 
 

Trend

The non-trend trend toward cleaner vehicles

 

The green car market is wide open. While we can say that the car market is looking a lot at hybrids at the moment there are a growing number of versions available or soon available. All the manufactures are coming with one or several versions. For now most hybrids run on electricity and gasoline. Hybrids are expected to take over a significant share of the market share in the next ten years. There are other choices here or on the way. Here are some examples: near-zero emission gasoline vehicles, advanced diesels, hybrids, and vehicles running on ethanol, electricity, natural gas, LPG, and hydrogen.

Signs of the Times” tends to present energy trends in its technical choices. Naturally there are technical advances in medicine, communication etc. However, this author feels that energy is the pivot point on which we make the transition from carbon energy to non-polluting energy sources. Since transportation is one of our biggest polluters, what happens with vehicles is an important part of the transition. It appears that things will not change overnight, that hybrids are only a first step. Hydrogen is a possible next step as the technology continues to develop. In Sweden, there is a dominance of support for bio fuels, while nearby countries seem to be showing some interest in hydrogen.

Source: Green Car Journal Online
Date: November 13, 2006
 
 
URL: www.greencar.com/index.cfm?content=features

 


 
 

Trend

Economic sustainability – saving rural communities

A small town, rural success story

When the local community of Trångsviken, Sweden saw that a gloomy future scenario was becoming increasingly more credible, they decided on a more positive version. The citizens decided to fight against prevailing trends, people moving out, student population decreasing in schools and the threat of vital public services disappearing (postal, banking, pharmacy etc.). They realized they could not depend on anyone else but themselves to change the tide of trends that affected the whole of northern Sweden as well as trends that were a prevalent in rural areas all over the world. All this began twenty years ago, long before other areas were willing to face the problem.  Their strategy was to build a community center. Due to the fact that they began early, they were still able to finance this construction. Their goal was to create more companies, improve the conditions for a growing economic life and all those in the community.  In the new community center they located their newly built, for-profit company. Most of the board members are involved in businesses outside the area. The company offers mentor services, advice and financial help that no banks were willing to provide. A daughter firm takes responsibilities for communal services and activities such as banking, library and pharmacy. A restaurant serves lunch to students, the business community as well as international guests and citizens. All this is housed within the community center. They also offer rooms for conferences, private parties and dinners. In other words, they created a meeting place for all members of the community.

Currently there are almost 80 companies in Trångsviken, a community in Northern Sweden of 700 people. Several of the companies are world leaders in their fields. Children are encouraged in school to think about having their own business. They bake bread and make jelly from local berries, which are sold within the community. There are no empty houses or apartments in this community and new homes are being built including an exclusive area of ecologically built homes. There is an emphasis on building networks and the success of this turnaround is being visited by delegations as far away as Mongolia.

Source: Trångsviken
Date: November 13, 2006
 
URL: www.trangsviken.se/sv/content/trangsviksbolaget/

 


 
 

Trend

Natural Resources -To use or not to use

Damm väcker heta känslor på Island (Damn awakens heated emotions in Iceland)

A damn project has divided public in Iceland into two groups, for and against. Fish and energy have been two staples of the Icelandic economy, this project is intended to increase energy supplies to provide for a aluminum smelting facility intended to provide another export product. Critics point out that the damn has been built in the middle of the countries volcano and earthquake zone. Supporters point out that Iceland has nothing else to sell. They feel their critics want to preserve the highlands untouched, without regard for the economy.
 
For twenty years the oil industry has been attempting to get permission to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska ANWR. The arguments against have been the harm that would come to caribou, polar bears and huge numbers of migratory birds.  Those against feel it is critical to energy security in the United States. The fight seems to have been won with a compromise. The latest move is legislation, American Made Energy Act (HR 5890), which creates an energy trust fund providing funds for energy research, primarily a new technology for ethanol production, storage and distribution. It is to be funded by leases and production in the ANWR

Historically, governments don’t like to give bad news to the citizenry. They are afraid of panic and mass demonstrations and that they will be blamed. The reality is that our media is so strong now that it can reach out to many levels of society that traditionally would not have earlier had access. There will still be groups that will not be interested in hearing the message and many who will believe it is a plot of one kind or another. Others will find opportunities in the change and still others will finally feel that the world is beginning to wake up to what they have known all along. The larger middle group will begin to make some changes in their personal lives and in their beliefs.

Source: Swedish Radio ! Science program
Date: October 13, 2006
 
URL 1: www.sr.se/cgi-bin/p1/program/artikel.asp?ProgramID=415&Artikel=97028
URL 2: www.anwr.org

 


 
 

Trend

New solutions to election problems

Getting Clean in Main- the power of public campaign funding

One of democracies greatest symbols is voting and the right to vote. In the United States this process has been plagued by electronic voting machine problems, an increase in corporate voting to get favorable conditions for their company, contributions by lobby’s to get favors for their field, plain old fashion cheating and a massive name calling and dirty politics, and down right lying about opponents.

Clean Elections is a process where by candidates collect a preset number of individual contributions from individuals at the rate of five dollars each. When they have collected the agreed number, they receive public funding from which to run their campaigns. Politicians using these process are called Clean Elections candidates and their potential voters have that information when they make their decisions. Such candidates have agreed that they will not take money from any other industry or lobbyist. In the state of Maine, in the U.S. eighty percent ran as Clean Elections candidates in the recent 2006 elections. A number of other states are taking on the same laws.  This seems to work for state elections where the costs are not as high as national elections.

Source: Yes! Magazine
Date: Fall 2006
Author: Nancy Waltzman
 

 


 
 

Trend

Reaching critical mass in US health care

A Growing Movement

From a European and Canadian perspective the health care system in the United States has been a subject of criticism and admiration. The research and the services available to the richer few was the subject of admiration. The lack of health insurance for many citizens of lesser means has been a subject of criticism. Even inside the United States health insurance and availability of care has been discussed for a long time. At least one writer, Linda Walling, points to a growth in the movement for universal health care, growth that appears to be reaching a critical mass.

The struggle for universal health insurance has been going on for almost 100 years. It is the crisis proportions of the problem that are spurring change, mostly at local and state level. Some examples of statewide action: California’ s attempt to pass a bill requiring employers to pay for health insurance for workers over 50 years old; The Main Dirigo Health Reform Act- which covers 10,000 people without previous insurance; Illinois’ process for forming health legislation which resulted in the Illinois Health Care for all Children law; health care plan in Maryland which requires employers with more than 10,000 workers to pay for health care benefits; Massachusetts health reform package passed by a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor; Vermont’s newly passed the Health Care Affordability Act.

Source: Yes! Magazine
Date: Fall 2006
Author: Reverend Linda H. Walling
 
URL: www.yesmagazine.org/

 


 
 

Trend

Healthier foods

Mitt på det skotska höglandet finns en prunkande lustgård (In the middle of the Scottish Highlands there is a dazzling Garden of Eden)

1. As the earth becomes increasingly depleted of nutrients and petrochemical fertilizers are on the outs, new ideas on how to grow healthier, more nutritious fruits and vegetables come into vogue. Our ill health and obesity problems are also drivers of a healthy food trend. In Scotland, a couple has found that volcanic rock, crushed to a powder was the original source of nutrition that each ice age contributed to the soil. Then, it was crushed over tens of thousands of years of ice movement, but by mining and pulverising it, one can mimic nature on a small scale and apply this mineral rich powder to ones soil with excellent results.
 
2. A Swedish author, Nils Åkerstedt, proposes grass clipping mixed with sand as the ideal growing medium for vegetables and flowers.  He has worked on his theory for 20 years with good results.

Look for more research on nutritional levels in various foods, land prices to vary depending on their nutrient content and other methods to enrich soil, both at home an in large-scale agriculture production. Higher nutrition foods may continue to cost more just as biodynamic foods cost more than regular foods.

Source 1: Svenska Dagbladet
Source 2: Min Trädgård – vecka för vecka, ISBN: 91-973755-1-9
Date 1: November 12, 2006
Date 2: November 12, 2006
Author 1: Henrik Ennart
Author 2: Nils Åkerstedt
 
URL 1: www.svd.se/dynamiskt/inrikes/did_14048633.asp
URL 2: www.naturochtradgard.se/

 


 
    Back to Signs of the Times.  
       
  from Oktober 08, 2006  
 

Trend

Education integrating learning and brain research

1. Learning how to teach boys
2. Grafton OKs all-boys class for 8th-graders; District might add girls

For those following changes in education theory, it is not news that boys have a harder time learning and get lower grades than girls. They get more negative attention because they are louder and move around more.  Gender learning differences have long been a topic for discussion. A group called the National Association for Single Sex Public Education say that over 200 public schools in the the USA offer single sex classes. A school district in Chicago, USA, plans to prioritize the hiring of more male teachers, monitor grades and test scores long-term, build awareness among parents and teachers. In general they will review the arrangement in classrooms and the teaching techniques used.

One way of building awareness included including parents in a committee with teachers and administrators who looked at grades and test scores from a four year period. In particular they looked at differences between boys and girls and specifically at brain research on the way they process information. In classes where the children were between eleven (fifth grade) and fourteen years (eight grade) old, the girls had higher grades in reading, writing, science and math. The gap between the grades of boys and girls got even larder in the older grades. Boys are found in special education classes to a higher degree and are disciplined more often. This fall all boy classes will be offered to 8th graders in Wisconsin. They will have science, math and literacy from the same teacher. The rest of their courses will be in mixed classes. If enough girls are interested there will be all girl classes as well.

Source: 1.Chicago Tribune, 2. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Date: 1. September 1, 2006, 2. June 15 2006
Author: 1 .Lisa Black, 2. Katharine Goodloe
 
URL 1 : www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/north/
chi-0609010206sep01,1,5533671.story?coll=
chi-newslocalnorth-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

URL 2 : www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4196/
is_20060615?pnum=2&opg=n16497097

 


 
 

Trend

From centralized to decentralized energy

The Hydrogen Economy

Distributed power generation provides electric power at a site closer to customers on a small-scale bases. Distributed power unit can be connected directly or in close proximity to the consumer while also being linked to larger distribution system. Technologies used in DP systems are a mix of turbine generators, internal combustion engine/generators, microturbines, photovoltaic/solar panels, wind turbines, and fuel cells. DP are used for standby generation (if something happens to the main system), peak shaving capability (adding to a over loaded system during peak hours), baseload generation (primary energy source), or cogeneration (selling unused power to the larger distribution system).

There are a number of groups researching, fighting for law changes, uniting equipment manufactures, energy companies trying to implement Distributed Power. This concept has been building since approx. 1997. Drivers encouraging the Distributed Power trend are:  

Source: 1. The Hydrogen Economy 2. EM&C
Date: 2002, February 27, 2004
Author: 1.Jeremy Rifkin 2. George Zirnhelt, P.E., Power Systems Research, Inc.
 
URL: www.ecmweb.com/news/electric_future_small_scale/

 


 
 

Trend

Cross Disciplinary trend

Psychology & Behavioural Finance

Signs of the Times has been reporting on the cross- disciplinary trend for many years. Behavioral Finance is a “new” area (over 20 years) where research tries to understand emotions and non-rational thought processes in investing and decision-making. The fields of psychology, social psychology can help explain investments, stick market anomalies, market bubbles and crashes. The field has increased in intensity in the last five years.

Some of the research has looked at people’s reaction and behavior in relation to prospective gains and losses. Individuals respond more strongly and take larger risks in the face of prospective losses than they do with prospective gains. Others have looked at the feelings associated with losses due to bad decision making (where sorrow and grief play a role). When investing, people tend to give too much attention to recent experiences. The longer term averages and statistical odds give way to extrapolation of recent experiences. A market upswing or down swing causes more optimism and pessimism than the actual situation justifies.

Source: Harvard Business Review, JP Morgan, Yale School of Management
Date: September 13, 2006
 
URL 1: harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b01/en/search/
searchResults.jhtml?N=511936

URL 2: www.jpmorganfunds.com/jpmam/index.jsp?p=Research+%26+Forms/
Behavioral+Finance+Research&s=2

URL 3: www.mba.yale.edu/news_events/CMS/Articles/4450.shtm
URL 4: www.investorhome.com/psych.htm

 


 
 

Trend

Environmental education

Two films on global warming playing at the same time

Two films on global warming are playing in the same time in Sweden. They are both documentaries intended to raise public consciousness. One is Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth and the other The Planet, produced by Swedish Television.

Historically, governments don’t like to give bad news to the citizenry. They are afraid of panic and mass demonstrations and that they will be blamed. The reality is that our media is so strong now that it can reach out to many levels of society that traditionally would not have earlier had access. There will still be groups that will not be interested in hearing the message and many who will believe it is a plot of one kind or another. Others will find opportunities in the change and still others will finally feel that the world is beginning to wake up to what they have known all along. The larger middle group will begin to make some changes in their personal lives and in their beliefs.

Source: PA Ståhlberg
Date: September 13, 2006
 
URL 1: www.climatecrisis.net
URL 2: http://svt.se/svt/jsp/Crosslink.jsp?d=55174&from=program_ao

 


 
 

Trend

Political structure of schools changing

Charter Changeover

New Orleans schools are taking advantage of the chaos of Katrina to reinvent their school system. Traditionally schools fall under local school boards in school districts. In an attempt to free schools from old patterns a concept of Charter schools was developed. Charter schools are schools are only responsible to State Education authorities for their results, not their curriculum or methods. Generally speaking Charter schools have done well and have a good reputation. It is this model that is taking root in the renewed New Orleans.

This new school structure is being in established in an environment filled with question marks. Will the students and teachers return? Will more flooding wipe out the new schools? There are many other infrastructure questions. However, the chance to totally redo the worst school system in the country is a huge incentive. Schools in the state of Louisiana have a academically unacceptable level of 8% (which is bad enough), but almost 2/3 of New Orleans public schools were in that category before Katrina. The danger is that as the new Charter schools fill up there will be a huge competition for students. Parents will be able to choose which school they want for their children. If schools don’t get the students, they don’t get funding. The consequences could be better education for the children of New Orleans or a huge amount of pressure on both teachers and students on success over learning.

Source: Governing’s
Date: September 2006 issue
Author: Rob Gurwitt
 
URL: www.governing.com/articles/9schools.htm

 


 
 

Trend

Changing migration patterns

PRB 2006 World Population Data Sheet: International Migration Is Reshaping United States, Global Economy

Migration patterns have typically been from undeveloped countries to OECD (developed) nations. However, a new pattern is emerging. Instead of moving from poor to rich ones, the almost 3 million people who move for economic reasons are moving from less developed countries to “developing” or more developed countries. It is predicted that the pattern will increase. Examples given are movement from Bangladesh to India, from India, Egypt and Yemen to the Persian Gulf States.

The drivers of this pattern are high birth rates coupled with poverty. Developed countries, with low birth rates will benefit this trend. Even developing countries can benefit as birth rates go down for them as well.

Source: Population Reference Bureau
Date: 2006
 
URL: www.prb.org/Template.cfm?Section=PRB&template=/
Content/ContentGroups/Datasheets/2006_World_Population_Data_Sheet.htm

 


 
 

Trend

Healing brain

Doctors Say Man's Brain Rewired Itself
Vegetative patient 'communicates'

Two articles and an earlier article in Signs of the Times report discoveries having to do with regenerative brain functions hitherto unknown. After a severe brain injury and having lived in a state of minimal consciousness for over 19 years, a man returns slowly to life. His speech function and ability to count are improving while he still can not fully feed himself nor walk. It appears that if the brain cells are still alive, new connections can grow, but there is no guarantee that the connections will lead to function development. Dr.’s caution there is still much to learn.
 
After an auto accident in 2005, a woman lived in an unresponsive vegetative state with an inability to communicate. She is now recovered and uses a keyboard to communicate. Using FMRI, healthy brain activity was compared to the accident victims and all were asked to perform the same tasks. The brain patterns were the same for both groups. The tasks had to do with picturing home and thinking about different scenarios.

While both cases used different scanning techniques, the theme is that brain cell activity can still be in place and that nerve cell connections can regenerate. Scanning gives us knowledge as to what is happening in the brain of an unconscious, minimally conscious or vegetative person. The doctors in both cases report their findings with cautions, particularly about generalizing as brain activity depends upon the kind of damage. They are also clear that brain cells must be alive in order for newly developed nerve cells to function. Earlier Signs reported that new nerve cells develop in normal brains in adult hood and old age breaking the age old myth that the brain stopped developing in adulthood.

Source 1: Forbes.com
Source 2: BBC News
Date 1: July 3, 2006
Date 2: September 7, 2006
Author 1: Marilynn Marchione
Author 2: BBC News
 
URL 1: www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/feeds/ap/2006/07/03/ap2856360.html
chi-0609010206sep01,1,5533671.story?coll=chi-newslocalnorth
-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

URL 2: news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/5320234.stm
is_20060615?pnum=2&opg=n16497097

 


 
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