Brazilian-Made Plastic Solar Panels, a Clean Energy Breakthrough

By Alice Marcondes

Tiago Maranhão Alves with a strip of the newly developed solar plastic. Credit: Courtesy of CSEM Brazil/Rafael Motta - Agência Nitro
Tiago Maranhão Alves with a strip of the newly developed solar plastic. Credit: Courtesy of CSEM Brazil/Rafael Motta – Agência Nitro

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, Mar 12 2013 (IPS) – As part of the country’s growing emphasis on green tech research, Brazilian scientists have developed plastic solar panels that could revolutionise power generation from this clean, renewable energy source.

What looks like a thin, flexible sheet of regular plastic is actually a solar panel printed with photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. This new material, totally unlike the heavy and costly silicon-based panels commonly used to generate solar power today, was created by scientists at CSEM Brasil, a research institute based in the southeast Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.

Made by incorporating organic photovoltaic cells into common polymers, the new panels resemble transparent sheets of plastic with stripes where they have been printed with carbon-based organic polymers. Continue reading Brazilian-Made Plastic Solar Panels, a Clean Energy Breakthrough

Statement by His Excellency Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi

Statement by His Excellency Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi
Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva at the 22nd  Session of the Human Rights Council – Item 3 –
“Report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography”

Geneva, 7 March 2013

Mr. President,
Far from abating, the scourge of human trafficking is growing and it becomes more diversified with the increase of human mobility and with the globalization of communication and trade. The focus on the sale, prostitution of children and child pornography by the latest Report of the Special Rapporteur underlines a global trend of human trafficking. The latest Report by the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime on Human Trafficking (2012) paints a grim picture of the millions of people trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor: they come from at least 136 different nationalities and have been found in 118 countries. Although the majority of such persons are women (55-60 %), the flow of children is growing alarmingly quickly from 20% between 2003-2006 to 27% between 2007-2010. Among the total of trafficking cases identified globally, trafficking for sexual exploitation accounts for 58%. Continue reading Statement by His Excellency Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi

Fighting Sex Trafficking in Brazil – in Fiction and Reality

By Fabiana Frayssinet

Minister of the Secretariat of Policies for Women Eleonora Menicucci, in her office. Credit: Courtesy of SPM

Minister of the Secretariat of Policies for Women Eleonora Menicucci, in her office. Credit: Courtesy of SPM

RIO DE JANEIRO, Mar 11 2013 (IPS) – The story generally begins in Brazil’s hinterland, with a pretty, young woman from a disadvantaged background and with little formal education, who is drawn in by false promises and ends up in a sex trade network that stretches overseas.

The disturbing trend has begun to be addressed by the government, the justice system, the legislature and even a popular soap opera, with encouraging results.

Sex trafficking is such a complex phenomenon that there is little systematic, reliable data on it. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates the number of victims of what the U.N. describes as modern-day slavery at 2.5 million people or more. Continue reading Fighting Sex Trafficking in Brazil – in Fiction and Reality

When to Say No

New York Times

The State Department’s latest environmental assessment of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline makes no recommendation about whether President Obama should approve it. Here is ours. He should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem.

The 875-mile pipeline avoids the route of an earlier proposal that traversed the ecologically sensitive Sand Hills of Nebraska and threatened an important aquifer. It would carry 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta to pipelines in the United States and then onward to refineries on the Gulf Coast. From there, most of the fuel would be sent abroad. Continue reading When to Say No