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Germany

How To Make A Tree Talk -- And Tweet

Researchers in Germany are using special sensors and data software to both gather and broadcast real-time updates on how the surroundings are affecting the health of oak trees. And you can follow the tree's feed on Twitter.

Are you feeling Oakay today?
Are you feeling Oakay today?

Worldcrunch *NEWSBITES

When these German scientists "listen to the trees," it's not the sound of rustling leaves they are trying to hear. Instead, researchers at the University of Erlangen in Germany are using special sensors and data software to get oak trees "talking" about their state of health and the effects of the environment – and then broadcasting it all straight away on Twitter.

The magnificent common oak in Erlangen's Botanical Garden has a story. It might have been harmed by the vagaries of climate, acid rain, ground-level ozone, fine dust, an infestation of caterpillars -- but much to the chagrin of scientists, it can't tell us about it.

Modern technology to the rescue: the venerable old tree has been equipped with measuring devices that will provide authentic reports about its health.

Along with environmental data from a weather station mounted on the tree, sensors monitor the tree's health. One device measures how much water the oak soaks up from the soil and transports to its leaves. Another measures diameter growth of the trunk and makes it possible to draw conclusions about photosynthesis over the course of the year.

Data flows through to a research project on the effect of climate change on trees, and is available (in German) to the public not only at www.talking-tree.de but on Twitter. Special software translates the scientific data into easily understandable information about how the old oak is doing.

Read the full version of the article in German by By Silvia von der Weiden

Photo – tibchris

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations of the original text.

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Ideas

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

American and Southwest Airlines have been refusing to allow Cubans on board flights if they've been blacklisted by the government in Havana.

How U.S. Airlines Are Doing Cuba's Dirty Work On American Soil

Boarding a plane in Camaguey, Cuba

Santiago Villa

On Sunday, American Airlines refused to let Cuban writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez board a Miami flight bound for Havana. It was at least the third time this year that a U.S. airline refused to let Cubans on board to return to their homeland after Havana circulated a government "blacklist" of critics of the regime. Clearly undemocratic and possibly illegal under U.S. law, the airlines want to make sure to cash in on a lucrative travel route, writes Colombian journalist Santiago Villa:

-OpEd-

Imagine for a moment that you left your home country years ago because you couldn't properly pursue your chosen career there. It wasn't easy, of course: Your profession is not just singularly demanding, but even at the top of the game you might not be assured a stable or sufficient income, and you've had to take on second jobs, working in bars and restaurants.

This chosen vocation is that of a writer or journalist, or perhaps an artist, which has kept you tied to your homeland, often the subject of your work, even if you don't live there anymore.

Since leaving, you've been back home several times, though not so much for work. Because if you did, you would be followed in cars and receive phone calls to let you know you are being watched.

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