SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Austerity enraged protesters broke into a government building and threatened the labor minister, Wednesday. Riot police then intervened with tear gas, batons and pepper spray, with one person taken to hospital.
The protest, by a few hundred people, was organized by a Communist backed labor union, and took place in front of the Labor Ministry building. The protesters were voicing their anger by the severe austerity measures that have gripped Greece since the financial crisis took hold in the country in late 2009.
At least one person was hospitalized and two others collapsed from the effects of pepper spray and were treated at the scene by other protesters. The government said damage was caused inside the office of minister Yianni Vroutsi and threats had been made against the minster himself.
Over 30 protesters were detained and scuffles broke out when the crowd outside attempted to stop the bus taking them to police headquarters from leaving. Some of the protesters followed on foot and continued their demonstration outside the police station.
“Violence in all its forms must be condemned, not only in words but also by actions. The raid on the office of the labour minister, the material destruction and the threats against Yianni Vroutsi are practices which aim to dynamite the political climate at a very critical time for the country," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told reporters.
Union members involved were protesting planned reforms to the pension system – part of the latest spending cuts in the Greek bailout program.
Other spending cuts that took affect this year include a 25% cut in the incomes of most civil servants.
Public transport workers and hospital doctors are to hold a 24 hour strike in Athens on Thursday, while dockers and port workers will also stage a 48 hour walkout, which will leave the many Greek islands without crucial ferry services.
Since the financial crisis took hold in 2009, Greece has been kept going by billions of euros in rescue loans from other euro zone countries, particularly Germany, as well as from the International Monetary Fund.
In return for these handouts the Greek government has had to impose a raft of stringent austerity measures, including spending and salary cuts and tax hikes. Unemployment in Greece has spiraled to more than 26%.
The government response to recent protests in Greece has been heavy handed and is part of a deliberate zero tolerance campaign by the authorities in Athens, lawyer and professor of constitutional law, George Katrougalas, told RT.
“The government has decided to follow a policy of zero tolerance against, as it says, the resistance to the austerity measures. So we have seen the government take emergency measures that are not constitutional, against the recent strikes. Now we have seen the police act very violently against a generally peaceful and calm demonstration,” he said.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – An architect in Holland has revealed plans to 3D print buildings inspired by the Earth's landscape.
The buildings are designed to resemble a giant mobius strip - a continuous loop with only one side.
Janjaap Ruijssenaars hopes to create the buildings, which he estimates will cost 4-5 million euros (£3.3- £4.2m), all around the world.
Museums, visitor centres and private individuals had already expressed interest, he said.
Mr Ruijssenaars is working with large-scale 3D printing expert Enrico Dini on the project.
According to his company's website, Mr Dini's industrial sized 3D printer uses sand and a special binding agent to create a "marble like material" stronger than cement.
But the 1,000-sq-m buildings would still require concrete reinforcements, Mr Ruijssenaars said.
"3D printing is amazing," he told the BBC.
"For me as an architect it's been a nice way to construct this specific design - it has no beginning and no end and with the 3D printer we can make it look like that.
"In traditional construction you have to make a mould of wood and you fill it with concrete and then you take out the wood - it's a waste of time and energy.
"You can print what you want - it's a more direct way of constructing."
The first "landscape house" should be in position by 2014, said Mr Ruijssenaars.
"We would like to construct one per country," he said.
"A private individual who lives by a national park in Brazil would like one to display the native American art they have found in the park.
"For a museum, the price is around the right mark."-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Arson is suspected as the cause of two apartment fires in Germany's Bremen province early Sunday morning that sent 30 people to hospital; the buildings were located on the same street and both are owned by Germans of Turkish descent.
A blaze broke out on the basement floor of an apartment building belonging to a Turkish man, Engin Sarıkaya, in Bremen's Gröpelingen neighborhood at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday. The residents of the building were quickly alerted, but both the entrance of the building and the fire escape were on fire, forcing residents to rush to the top floor of the building to escape the blaze. Just an hour and a half later another apartment building belonging to a Turkish family on the same street in the predominately immigrant neighborhood was allegedly set ablaze. There was no loss of life in either of the incidents as people noticed the fire quickly enough. Residents who escaped to the top floors to escape the fire were rescued by firefighters.
A total of 29 people suffered smoke inhalation and were taken to area hospitals. The injured were mainly Turks who live in Germany, while there were also people of Bulgarian and Arabian descent among the injured, including nine children and a baby. Furthermore; an Arabian teen that jumped from the first floor of the building was seriously injured and taken to hospital for treatment. Damages to the buildings are estimated at 100,000 euros.
A 22-year-old German man, who has mental disorder, was detained by German police at the scene under suspicions of arson. A spokesperson for Bremen Police Department said the suspect was taken to psychiatry clinic as he has mental problems.
Bilal Yazıcı, who lives in the building, in which 40 residents live, said some people aimed to burn them alive inside the building.
Bremen's Social Democrat Interior Minister Ulrich Maeurer, who arrived at the scene following the incidents, wished the victims of the incidents a speedy recovery and asserted that what is necessary will be done regarding the incidents. He also said he cannot comment until the exact details surrounding the fires are revealed.
Maeurer, who also held a press conference on the incidents on Sunday, further said they still haven't yet had any exact evidence that can prove these incidents stem from racism or xenophobia, adding that an investigation has been launched and details will be shared with the public.
Chairman of the Bremen Islamic Federation Zeki Başaran and his vice-president Şanver Çoban also went to the scene to look at the damage first hand.
Pertaining to the fires in the Turkish buildings, Turkish Consul General of Hannover Tunca Özçuhadar, speaking to the Sabah Daily, said that they will closely monitor the details revealed surrounding the incidents. Stating that he appointed the vice consul, the attaché and the presidents of Turkish associations to follow the investigation into the incidents, Özçuhadar said, “The only consolation to us is that no loss of life occurred in the incidents.”
These incidents are not the first in Germany. A total of three children from a Turkish family died in an apartment fire in Dortmund, Germany on Aug. 3. Rescue teams found the bodies of 4-year-old Mustafa Tüfekçi and 12-year-old Dilan Tüfekçi, while 10-year-old Mehmet Tüfekçi was taken to hospital with severe burns, but later died from his injuries. A spokesperson for the Dortmund Police Department, Peter Schulz, said there were strong indications the fire might have been the result of arson.
In another deadly incident, nine Turks, including five children, were killed in a blaze in an apartment building in the western German city of Ludwigshafen on Feb. 5, 2008, which is considered the biggest fire in the post-World War II history of the city. All nine victims were immigrants from Turkey's southern province of Gaziantep, and most of them were from the same family, officials said.
Another outstanding brutal attack in which Turkish people were targeted in Germany occurred in the western German city of Solingen in 1993 when a group of extreme rightist neo-Nazis burnt the homes of Turkish families in the town of Solingen, killing five members of a Turkish family.— www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Todays Zaman
SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — It doesn’t take much to be considered smart if you’re a building. Add some lights that turn themselves off when nobody is around or install an “intelligent” air conditioning system to regulate the ambient temperature and you’re well on your way. But compared to the living buildings proposed by Akira Mita, today’s smart buildings are the architectural equivalent of single-celled organisms.
Mita is an engineer, not an architect, and it shows in both the sophistication of his designs and the scale of his ambition. Using swarms of robotic sensors that “chase” a structure's human occupants, he wants buildings to understand everything about us, down to our emotional state. These robot sensors will learn from their mistakes, self-regulate using digital “hormones”, and record information over the course of years, building up a record of experiences to be used as “DNA” to program future versions of themselves, or even other buildings.
"Living organisms give birth to the next generation, and have immunity to viruses such as influenza," says Mita in a video promoting his work. "Our idea was that we wanted to give architecture this kind of biological response capability."
Mita's vision of buildings that know more about us than we know about ourselves is enabled by a fundamental re-think of how "smart" buildings should be constructed. In conventional smart homes, arrays of sensors and control systems are built into the walls – for example, sensors that detect whether or not anyone is in a room turn on and off lights or control the ambient temperature. The problem with systems like these is that they are obsolete as soon as they are embedded into a structure, and replacing them in the future could be costly or impossible.
Mita's solution is to replace all those sensor networks with something like an iPhone on wheels. Early prototypes, called the "e-bio", are about as big as the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners. They're equipped with a pair of bat-like ears that can determine the precise location of sounds. They also have an "eye" that sweeps a laser beam around the robot, allowing it build a complete, three-dimensional picture of its surroundings ten times a second.
Like our phones, these mobile, independent "e-bio" sensors can be upgraded with new technology as it becomes available, and are easily replaced if they fail. In other words, they're robust in all the ways that traditional home sensor networks aren't.
Another unconventional dimension of Mita's approach is his replacement of a whole variety of sensors with humans themselves. In contrast to a home automation system that strives to maintain a particular temperature set-point, Mita's team is concentrating on making his robots hyper-attuned to signals given off by the human beings in a building.
Take the body language or words we use to express the discomfort we feel with the temperature in a building. In cases like this, the attendant robots would communicate via a "hormonal" signal. In our body, hormones have the power to change how our entire nervous system operates, and over an extended period of time. When Mita’s fire off a hormonal signal, it’s more than a conventional communication – it’s like an override that changes how the entire network behaves. In the case of temperature, the network shifts into a state in which it prioritises the climate of a room. In this way, control over temperature, humidity, fans and whatever other climate control measures are present is automatic and invisible to the building’s occupants.
The more of these robots we have in our homes, the more intelligent they could be. Picture a carpet of cockroach-like insectoid sensors on your living room floor but, hopefully, less creepy. Borrowing ideas from "swarm robotics" – the study of robots that make decisions in the same distributed way that ants and other insects do – Mita wants his robots to make consensus decisions about how to alter a building's environment
It's very similar to how our immune system operates through a kind of "swarm intelligence", where individual cells aren't that smart, but collectively they constitute an extremely adaptable system. For example, your immune system learns to identify and combat an invader without central coordination – instead, individual elements try a variety of strategies, and whatever works is eventually copied across your entire immune response.
In one example of swarm intelligence solving a thorny problem, Mita’s team figured out how to program a building’s ambient music to shape the mood of its human occupants. The system has pre-set goals – in this case, keeping people productive during the day – and accomplishes them by experimentally adjusting both the familiarity and the tempo of the music piped through a building. By integrating observations of all the humans present, the system used a relatively unsophisticated but “swarm intelligent” algorithm to increase productivity by 69% versus a no-music control.
Another characteristic of living things that Mita is copying is a concept called "homeostasis," which is just a fancy word for the fact that organisms are good at maintaining their state of being, even in the face of things that would perturb them, like an injury or a change in temperature. (A conventional thermostat is actually a primitive homeostatic system, in that it reacts to changes in temperature by trying to bring the house back to a particular set-point, regardless of the source of the disturbance.)
For example, rather than simply being programmed with simple instructions like "if a person walks into a room, turn the light on", Mita's "e-bio" sensors might learn how much light a user likes. Equipped with their own light sensors, they can adjust ambient light levels to fit a user's demonstrated preferences. This way, the system automatically takes into account time of day, clouds, even whether or not the blinds are drawn, all without actually knowing the state of any of those variables. (This sort of thing makes even more sense with next-generation LED lighting systems, which are dimmable and can be formed into almost any shape, not just that of a lightbulb.)
Reaching Mita's goals for really advanced living buildings may require something of a handover of the world of architecture, from designers to engineers. "I think the most interesting thing is that this research theme has been very hard to handle in previous architectural faculties," says Mita. "For example, the researchers need to know about sensors, and to know a lot about information processing as well."
In re-thinking buildings as responsive structures, Mita doesn't place any limits on how much he thinks we can borrow from biology. "Ultimately, it would be good if buildings themselves could make their own DNA and build the next building. But that's a really difficult subject, so all of us, including the students, are having fun working towards it step by step."—www.shafaqna.com/english