Dirty Coal

by: the Common Constitutionalist

Elections have consequences. There will be many that surface due to the reelection of Barack Obama.

I’d like to speak of one; energy and more specifically, the coal industry.

111 US coal plants have already closed due to the Obama administrations EPA regulations. That’s a full fifth of all US coal plants so far.

An additional 200 plus coal plants are slated for closure within the next 3 to 5 years.

The coal plant closures represent between 31,000 and 36,000 MW of power lost. That’s the equivalent of shutting down the electricity supply for the entire state of Ohio.

In October president Obama signed yet another executive order setting a national goal, or better put, arbitrary mandate of 40 GW of new “Combined Heat and Power” (CHP) generation.

CHP captures waste heat and uses it to generate steam to run turbines and for manufacturing.

The administration claims that “Investment” in CHP could save around $100 billion in energy costs over 10 years.

Well, the president can certainly hang his hat on that kind of savings.

Once again it seems Obama is looking out for the folks. Getting rid of those dirty coal plants will actually save us money. That’s a win-win. Getting rid of those planet killing, fossil fuel emitting coal plants and saving money to boot. That is until one examines the numbers.

So we the people, through the intelligent policies of this president reap $100 billion in savings.

I wonder if there are any costs involved in the savings?

Why yes, there just happens to be. Once again the Obama administration will cost business.

Obama’s own White House estimates it will cost American manufacturing facilities between $40 and $80 billion to upgrade.

Okay, well that’s not too bad. That still leaves a savings of between $20 and $60 billion.

But wait, we are not done.

Another $70 to $180 billion will have to be spent on new power plants or further, and in my opinion, unnecessary pollution controls for existing plants.

So the wonderful and highly touted $100 billion savings will cost the private sector between $110 billion and $240 billion.

Aren’t mandates great?

And who do you suppose might have to pay for all these new items and upgrades? Why the consumer, of course.

Power companies will have to raise their rates to pay for all the new equipment and upgrades.

But hey, do we not recall what the president said several years ago? It’s not as if he was trying to hide anything when he stated that, “Electric rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

Oh, and did I mention jobs?

It is estimated that for every job in the coal industry about 3.5 jobs are created to service it. New coal regulations alone are expected to cost the U.S. an additional 1.4  to 1.5 million jobs.

So when you people who voted for Obama get laid off because of coal related regulations fear not, for at least you will be able to call the unemployment office on your new “Obama phone”.

Rare Photos

These rare and candid photos of the Rolling Stones were taken during their American Tour in 1965.

In and around the landscape of Savannah, Georgia and Clearwater, Florida, the compelling subjects are Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts,
Bill Wyman and founding member/road manager, Ian Stewart.

I’m not even a fan of the Rolling Stones, but these are cool.

Bill Wyman
Brian Jones-original leader of the band, drowned in 1969
Mick Jagger
Charlie Watts with Mick Jagger in the background
Keith Richards
Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts
Brian Jones in Shades
Mick Jagger and Ian Stewart
Mick Jagger in Shades

Attribution: UK Telegraph

POW Revelations

To an untrained eye, the small room must have looked like a telephone exchange. A console of sockets and plugs was placed on top of a table, at which was sat an operator who was wearing a pair of headphones.

Occasionally, he would swap some of the plugs around, but there would be little more movement than that.

Wearing the uniform of a British sergeant-major, the operator was, however, no telephone operator. In fact, he was taking part in one of the most secret operations ever conducted during World War  II.

Spy game: British officers listened to conversations of German prisoners-of-war incarcerated in Trent Park House, a Hertfordshire mansion British officers listened to conversations of  German prisoners-of-war incarcerated in Trent Park House, a Hertfordshire  mansion

The man was part of a team of eavesdroppers — fluent in German, quite often Jewish, and more than likely to have fled from Nazism to Britain during the Thirties — who were listening to conversations of German prisoners-of-war incarcerated in Trent Park, a Hertfordshire mansion that housed the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Center, or CSDIC.

Between 1939 and 1945, no fewer than 10,191  German and 567 Italian prisoners passed through Trent Park and its two related POW listening centers. The operation was unimaginatively nicknamed ‘Operation Eavesdrop’, and what the listeners heard appalled them, as the German soldiers, sailors and airmen reminisced about committing some of the most barbaric atrocities imaginable.

They would recall machine-gunning civilians  from their fighter planes, or knowingly torpedoing boatloads of children. They would laugh about raping Russian women and Jews before slaughtering them, or wiping out inhabitants of Russian villages with grenades and petrol.

As one CSDIC officer said at the time: ‘If we didn’t know why we were fighting the war before this, we sure as hell knew afterwards.’

‘I had an hour to spare and we went to a kind of barracks and slaughtered 1,500 Jews. There were some 20 men there with tommy-guns. It only took a second, and nobody thought anything of it.’

Recordings and transcripts were made of these conversations, and then, for several decades, they remained under lock and key, before they were sent to the National Archives, where they gathered  dust.

It was not until 2001 that they were finally unearthed by a German historian called Sönke Neitzel, who quickly realized that the conversations constituted some of the most important testimony to have emerged from the war.

And, most controversially of all, Dr Neitzel realized that the CSDIC transcripts gave the lie to the notion that the regular  German armed forces — the Wehrmacht — had more or less behaved honorably, and that it was only the fanatical members of the armed SS that had committed the most repellent of war crimes.

After working on the transcripts for a decade, Dr Neitzel published his book about the recordings in Germany last year, and now it is published in Britain.

The fact that ordinary German soldiers were likely to be complicit in acts of barbarity has shocked modern German readers.

The fact that ordinary German soldiers were likely to be complicit in acts of barbarity has shocked modern German readers
Onslaught: Nazi soldiers rush into action against Red Army positions during the invasion of the Soviet Union in this October 1941 Nazi soldiers rush into action against Red Army positions during the invasion of the Soviet Union in this October 1941

What emerges most strongly in the recordings, is the fact that many German soldiers did not see their acts as crimes, no matter how horrific. As one soldier put it: ‘the fact that we were soldiers was enough to justify any crimes and corruption, and was sufficient basis for an existence in hell.’

Between them, the German Army, Navy and Air  Force most successfully did create their own version of hell, and they created it all over Europe. A Luftwaffe corporal called Müller recalled how he had travelled around the Ukraine by truck, from which he had observed women being forced to work.

‘They were employed on road-making,’ he told his companion in his cell at Trent Park. ‘Extraordinarily lovely girls; we drove past, simply pulled them into the armored car, raped them and threw them out again. And did they curse!’

These women were fortunate compared with those living in the Belgian village of Hilay, who found themselves at the receiving end of the anger of Private Franz Diekmann and his comrades. The Germans had just lost one of their men to a ‘terrorist’.

‘We fired MGs [machine guns] into the midst of thirty Belgian women,’ Diekmann said. ‘They wanted to raid the German supply dump. But they were chased away in no uncertain manner.’

When Diekmann’s cellmate asked whether the women managed to run away, Diekmann simply replied: ‘No, they were all dead.’

Even women in Britain were not safe from the murderous impulses of members of the Wehrmacht. The operators at Trent Park once heard two Luftwaffe officers sharing tales of how they had machine-gunned civilians in British towns.

‘We once made a low-level attack near Eastbourne,’ recalled a pilot called von Greim. ‘When we got there, we saw a large mansion where they seemed to be having a ball or something; in any case we saw a lot of women in fancy-dress, and an orchestra. We turned round and flew towards it. The first time, we flew past, and then we approached again and  machine-gunned them. It was great fun!’

Similar atrocities were carried out by other members of the Luftwaffe. First Lieutenant Hans Harting from Fighter Wing 26 recalled how he had raided southern England in 1943: ‘We were ordered to fire at everything, except military targets,’ he claimed. ‘We killed women and children with baby carriages.’

At sea, submariners were just as likely to kill children as from the air. In September 1940, the vessel U-48 spotted the civilian passenger ship the City Of Benares, which was carrying 90 evacuee children from Britain to Canada.

Target: Passenger ship City of Benares was sunk by a German U-Boat in September 1939 as it was taking evacuee children to CanadaPassenger ship City of Benares was sunk by a German U-Boat in September 1939 as it was taking evacuee children to Canada
Lucky ones: Two survivors from the unprovoked attack on the evacuee ship the City of Benares Two survivors from the unprovoked attack on the evacuee ship the City of Benares
Prisoners: German soldiers are marched through an English village to a PoW camp in June 1944 German soldiers are marched through an  English village to a POW camp in June 1944

On board the U-boat was a corporal called Solm, who later claimed that the Germans knew that the boat was carrying children, and yet they still decided to attack.

‘We bagged a kiddie ship!’ Solm triumphantly told his Trent Park cellmate. ‘Six thousand tons. We heard on the radio what was on board. No one survived.’ In fact, 13 of the children did survive, but 260 of the 407 on board were killed.

Often during the conversations, the German prisoners justified their crimes by claiming that they were a reaction to the brutalities carried out by the Russians.

An army Lieutenant called Leichtfuss recalled how he had come across six dead German soldiers on the Eastern Front who had had their tongues nailed to a table, as well as another dozen who had been thrown down a well and stoned to death.’These incidents were taken for a reason for repaying it tenfold, twenty and a hundredfold,’ said Leichtfuss.

‘When a small detachment of about ten or 15  [enemy troops] was captured there, it was too difficult for the soldier to transport them back 100 or 120km. They were locked in a room and three or four hand grenades were flung in through the window.’

Such reprisal killings by the army were not uncommon, especially in Russia. Attacks by partisans often meant nearby villages were razed, and their inhabitants slaughtered.

Private Müller recalled how he and his comrades disobeyed an order to kill every tenth man in a village, and decided  instead to simply kill everybody.

Brutality: A Nazi firing squad guns down prisoners in Poland in 1941 A Nazi firing squad guns down prisoners in  Poland in 1941
Warmongers: This photo, taken on April 19, 1943, shows a group of Jews, including a small boy, being wscorted from the Warsaw Ghetto by German soldiersThis photo, taken on April 19, 1943, shows a  group of Jews, including a small boy, being escorted from the Warsaw Ghetto by German soldiers

‘We filled beer bottles with gas,’ he said, ‘and put them on the table and, as we were going out, we just threw hand grenades behind it. Immediately everything burned merrily — all roofs were thatched.

‘The women and children and everyone were shot down; only a few of them were partisans. I never took part in the shooting unless I was sure that they were proved to be partisans; but there were a lot of fellows who took a delight in it.’

The idea that mass murder could be ‘fun’ was also shared by some members of the Luftwaffe. Even in the very earliest days of the war, during the invasion of Poland, members of the German air force would take similar delight in mowing down people and horses from the air.

‘On the first day, it seemed terrible to me,’  said Lieutenant Pohl, a Luftwaffe airborne observer, ‘but I said to myself, “Hell! Orders are orders”. On the second and third days I felt it didn’t matter a hoot, and on the fourth day I enjoyed it. But, as I said, the horses screamed.  I hardly heard the plane, so loud did they scream. One of them lay there with  its hind legs torn off.’

Of course, the most infamous crime to have occurred during the war was the Holocaust, and although much of it was carried out by units such as the SS, the Gestapo, and the SD — the SS Security Service — there were men and officers of the Wehrmacht who also participated.

When talking in their cells at Trent Park, German officers would often try to convince themselves it was only really the SS that carried out mass killings, but there were some, such as Colonel Eberhard Wildermuth, who knew better.

‘In carrying out the mass executions, the SS did things which were unworthy of an officer,’ said Wildermuth, ‘and which every German officer should have refused to do, but I know of cases where officers did not refuse, and did do them, those mass executions. I know of similar things that were done by the army, and by officers.’

One of them was a First Lieutenant in the Luftwaffe called Fried, who was flying transport planes during the campaign in Poland. ‘I was at Radom once,’ he was recorded saying, ‘and had my midday meal with the Waffen SS battalion who were stationed there. An SS captain or whatever  he was said, “Would you like to come along for half-an-hour? Get a tommy-gun and let’s go”.

‘So I went along. I had an hour to spare and we went to a kind of barracks and slaughtered 1,500 Jews. There were some 20 men there with tommy-guns. It only took a second, and nobody thought anything of it.  They had been attacked at night by Jewish partisans and there was a lot of indignation about those damned Poles. I thought about it afterwards — it wasn’t very “pleasant”.’

When Lieutenant Fried was asked by his cellmate, a First Lieutenant Bentz, whether he had fired as well, Fried replied:  ‘Yes I did. Some of the people who were inside there said, “Here come the swine”, and swore and threw stones and things at them.

‘There were women and children there too! . . . There were whole families, some were screaming terribly and some were just stupid and apathetic.’

Although participation by members of the Wehrmacht in the ‘Final Solution’ was relatively infrequent, Fried’s admission shows the German armed forces knew exactly what the SS was doing to the Jews.

Soldiers and officers in the Army often witnessed killings first hand, and in the CSDIC recordings,  feelings of regret or sorrow are rarely expressed. One who witnessed a mass shooting of Jews was Major General Walter Bruns, who watched a pit fill up with slaughtered families.

‘I can still see it all in my memory,’ said  Bruns in his cell. ‘A pretty woman in a flame-colored chemise. Talk about keeping the race pure! At Riga, they first slept with them and then shot them to prevent them from talking.’

German Soldiers, sailors and airmen were caught by operatives at Trent Park listening centre in the UK reminiscing about committing some of the most barbaric atrocities imaginableGerman Soldiers, sailors and airmen were caught by  operatives at Trent Park listening centre in the UK reminiscing about committing  some of the most barbaric atrocities imaginable
Although participation by members of the Wehrmacht in the 'Final Solution' was relatively infrequent, the transcripts show German troops knew exactly what the SS was doing to the JewsAlthough participation by members of the Wehrmacht in  the ‘Final Solution’ was relatively infrequent, the transcripts show German troops knew exactly what the SS was doing to the Jews

Nazi concepts such as physical and racial purity were not just expressed by the SS. The chief quartermaster of  submarine U-187, Heinrich Skrzipek, maintained that ‘cripples should be put out of the way painlessly’.

‘It’s just a question of not being sensitive,’ Skrzipek insisted. ‘After all, we aren’t women! . . . Because the half-wits are the very people who have very large families and for one mental-defective you could feed six wounded soldiers. Of course you can’t please everybody. Several things don’t suit me, but it’s a question of the good of the people as a whole.’

But it appears Nazi ideology was not the chief motivating factor that made ‘ordinary’ members of the German armed forces commit atrocities. Dr Neitzel argues they took part in such actions because they saw it as their job, and that war normalizes violence and creates a context in which men can commit bloodthirsty acts with little or no conscience.

Although war crimes were undoubtedly committed by all sides during the war, the  Trent Park transcripts reveal that the German military machine was uniquely  brutal.

This tendency was even identified by the commander-in-chief of the Germany Army, General Walter Brauchitsch, who lamented the behavior of some his officers during the Polish campaign. ‘The image that results,’ he wrote, ‘is that of a pack of marauding mercenaries who cannot be reprimanded sharply enough.’

Thanks to the recordings made in Hertfordshire 70 years ago, it is an image that remains today.

Attribution: Guy Walters

Now That’s a Snake

It lurks just inches below the surface coiled and ready to strike – and yet you wouldn’t know it was there.

These remarkable images show the enormous  26-foot (eight meter) anacondas of Mato Grosso in Brazil searching for prey in the murky depths.

They were captured by brave diver and snake enthusiast Franco Banfi, 53, who joined the beasts in their natural habitat armed only with a camera.

Ready to strike: Brave diver and snake enthusiast Franco Banfi captured this image of an enormous anaconda snake lurking beneath the surface of a river in Mato Grosso do Sul, BrazilBrave diver and snake enthusiast Franco Banfi captured this image of an enormous anaconda snake lurking beneath the surface of a river in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil
Hunting: This anaconda scans the surface of the water looking for prey such as mice, fish or birdsThis anaconda scans the surface of the water looking for prey such as mice, fish or birds
Enormous: This coiled anaconda was about eight metres in length. Swiss diver Franco Banfi captured the photographs on a ten-day visit to the Mato Grosso do Sul region in Brazil This coiled anaconda was about eight meters (26 ft) in length. Swiss diver Franco Banfi captured the photographs on a ten-day visit to the Mato Grosso do Sul region in Brazil

In another shot, Banfi gets up close to a huge anaconda that is lying on the riverbank and glistening in the ferocious tropical heat.

Thankfully for the photographer, it had just  gobbled up a capybara rodent and wasn’t interested in devouring him as a second course.

Banfi, a father-of-two from Switzerland,  said: ‘As the snake had just eaten it didn’t take much interest in us.’

‘Everything is possible but I don’t think it would have eaten us. I was very close, I could have touched it if I wanted to.’

Time for your close-up: Banfi was able to reach out and touch this massive anaconda sunbathing on the riverbank having devoured a capybara rodent Banfi was able to reach out and  touch this massive anaconda sunbathing on the riverbank having devoured a capybara rodent

He saw six different female anaconda snakes on his ten-day trip to the Mato Grosso do Sul region, right in the heart of South America.

The region is known for its diverse natural beauty and attracts thousands of visitors every year. The name literally means ‘Thick Forest of the South’ and it’s easy to see why.

Banfi added: ‘At the first moment it’s scary because you don’t know the animal and everybody says it’s dangerous.’

‘But after a while you understand that nothing happens if you respect the snake.’

‘I have never been so close to a snake like this before. But I think a small poisonous snake is more scary than a big one. At least you can see the anacondas clearly and know what they’re doing.’

Say cheese! Banfi, 53, goes up close to take an underwater shot of one of the anacondas. He saw six huge female snakes during his time in BrazilBanfi, 53, goes up close to take an underwater shot of one of the anacondas. He saw six huge female snakes during  his time in Brazil
On the prowl: The bright sunlight suggests this anaconda is close to the surface and about the attack The bright sunlight suggests this anaconda is close to the surface and about the attack

Attribution: Mail Online

Peaceful Withdrawal

Louisiana residents petition to secede

by: Drew Zahn – WND

On Nov. 6, Americans voted to return Barack Obama to the White House; then on Nov. 7, some folks in Louisiana petitioned the White House to peaceably withdraw their state from the Union.

Coincidence?

According to the White House website, the petition was created by Michael E. (full last name not provided) of Slidell, La., the day after the election and has since been electronically signed by a few hundred people, most – but not all – of whom hail from the Pelican State.

“We petition the Obama administration to: Peacefully grant the State of Louisiana to withdraw from the United States of America and create its own NEW government,” the petition reads.

It continues, “As the Founding Fathers of the United States of America made clear in the Declaration of Independence in 1776: ‘When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.’”

The petition concludes with a further quote from the Declaration of Independence: “‘Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government.’”

The petition has until Dec. 7 of this year to gather 25,000 signatures, at which time, the White House pledges, it will be placed on a queue for response from the administration.

Screen capture of White House petition page for Louisiana secession

The White House created the “We the People” petition site ostensibly as a way of giving all Americans “a way to engage their government on the issues that matter to them.”

“The right to petition your government is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,” the page reads. “We the People provides a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. We created We the People because we want to hear from you. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.”

The page also explains, “You have just 30 days to get 25,000 signatures in order to get a response from the White House.”

Once the White House does draft a response, it has pledged to send it via email to everyone who has signed the petition (registration on the site with a valid email address is required to sign petitions).

To view or even sign the petition, click here.

Joke of the Day

Kenny, a city boy, moved to the country and purchased a donkey from an old farmer for $100.

The farmer agreed to deliver the donkey the following day.
The next morning, the farmer drove up and said, “Sorry, son, but I have some bad news. The donkey died.”

“Well, just return my money to me,” Kenny said.
“Sorry, can’t do that,” said the farmer. “I already spent it.”

“OK then, just unload the donkey,” said Kenny.
“Whatcha gonna do with him?” asked the farmer.

“I’m going to raffle him off,” Kenny replied.
“You can’t raffle off a dead donkey!” the farmer exclaimed.

“Of course I can,” replied Kenny. “Watch me. I just won’t tell anybody he is dead.”
A few weeks later, the farmer met up with Kenny and asked, “So, what happened with the dead donkey?”

“I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $898.00,” explained Kenny.

“Didn’t anyone complain?” inquired the farmer.
“Just the guy who won. So, I gave him his two dollars back,” Kenny proudly replied.

More Light on Obamacare Ruling

More Scorn for Chief Justice Roberts as Details of Switch Leak

As Breitbart News suggested last week, it appears Chief Justice John Roberts did, in fact, switch his vote on the Obamacare decision under pressure from President Barack Obama, the Democrats, and the mainstream media. John Fund at National Review has more details today–including evidence about a bizarre address by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the Judiciary Committee, that singled out Roberts himself:

Indeed, Senator Patrick Leahy (Vt., D.) , the chair of the Judiciary Committee, suddenly took to the floor on May 14 and directly addressed Roberts, urging him in harshly partisan tones to uphold Obamacare and maintain “the proper role of the judicial branch.”

Stewart Baker, a partner at the Washington law firm Steptoe & Johnson, writes at the Volokh Conspiracy that he found the whole campaign against Roberts weird and unusual, given that the justices’ conference vote on Obamacare had been held six weeks earlier. Why “would the chair of the Judiciary Committee risk the appearance of trying to harshly strong-arm the Court when his remarks wouldn’t make the slightest difference?” he asks. “The Leahy speech reads like it was written for an audience of one. It offers flattery and it offers threats, all of them personalized to appeal to Chief Justice Roberts alone.”

Fund adds that the White House likely benefited from leaks at the Court, and almost certainly knew of Roberts’s switch–just as it almost certainly knew of the initial vote to throw out the individual mandate in March:

The week before the Supreme Court announced its decision, the White House was clearly hinting to many in the media and on Capitol Hill that they expected a 5–4 opinion that would hinge on the taxing-power issue. Did someone leak? Sunday on Face the Nation, Jan Crawford of CBS News said that two reliable

Gimme Five Up Top!

sources told her that Roberts originally voted, in late March, with the four conservative justices to invalidate the individual mandate. According to Crawford, Roberts suddenly changed sides some six weeks later and then resisted “a month-long desperate campaign by the conservative justices to bring him back to the fold.”

I’ve learned from my own sources that after voting to invalidate the mandate, the chief did express some skepticism about joining the four conservatives in throwing out the whole law. At the justices’ conference, there was discussion about accepting the Obama administration’s argument, which was that, if the individual mandate was removed, the provisions governing community rating and guaranteed issue of insurance would have to go too but that the rest of the law might stand. The chief justice was equivocal, though, in his views on that point.

The more the public learns about Roberts’s decision, the more people are likely to hate it. Fund notes that even David Brooks of the New York Times agrees that Roberts “had to get to a certain result, and he was going to find a way by hook or by crook.” It’s a conclusion that aptly expresses how Obamacare was conceived, how it was passed, and now how it has been upheld by one of the worst decisions in recent years.

Common Constitutionalist note: I contend that Justice Sonia Sotomayor was placed on the court expressly for the Obamacare vote and that Justice Elaina Kagan is the leak. In my opinion, it’s common knowledge regarding the wise Latina. I have no proof regarding Kagan, but she is a Obama sycophant, and ran in the same academic circles from her time in Chicago, even hiring the radical friend of Obama, Cass Sunstein.

New Pacemaker

More than 3 million people worldwide have their hearts regulated by a pacemaker, with numbers rising due to an aging population.

Patients face regular operations to replace worn-out batteries, but now scientists believe a person’s own beating heart could generate enough electricity to power the life-saving  devices.

Researchers at the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan have created a prototype that runs of piezoelectricity – the electrical charge generated from motion.

Future of pacemakers? The energy harvester developed at the University of Michigan can harness energy from vibrations and convert it to electricityFuture of pacemakers? The energy harvester developed at the University of Michigan can harness energy from vibrations and convert it to  electricity

Lead author Dr Amin Karami said it could be a promising technological solution for pacemakers, because they require only small amounts of power to operate.

At present the implanted devices, which send electrical impulses into the heart to help  maintain a normal heartbeat, have to be replaced every five to seven years when their batteries run out.

Dr Karami said: ‘Many of the patients are children who live with pacemakers for many years. You can imagine how many operations they are spared if this new technology is  implemented.’

The researchers stumbled across the medical breakthrough by accident. They were looking to design a light unmanned aircraft which could be powered by the vibrations of its own  wings.

They then realized that the properties of  certain power-generating piezoelectric materials could be applied to powering pacemakers.

Dr Karami: Said device could save patients from countless operations to replace batteries
Dr Karami said device could save patients from countless operations to replace batteries

For the latest study the team measured heartbeat-induced vibrations in the chest. They then used a ‘shaker’ to reproduce the vibrations in the laboratory and connected it to a prototype cardiac energy harvester they had developed.

Measurements of the prototype’s performance, based on a wide range of simulated heartbeats, showed the energy harvester generated more than 10 times the power required by modern pacemakers.

‘The device is about half the size of batteries now used in pacemakers and includes a self-powering back-up capacitor’, Dr Karami said. Researchers hope to integrate their technology into commercial pacemakers.

‘What we have proven is that under optimal conditions, this concept is working,’ Dr Karami said.

The researcher, who presented the study at a meeting of the American Heart Association, said the technology might one day also power other implantable cardiac devices, such as  defibrillators.

About 700,000 people worldwide, including 100,000 in the U.S who have heart rhythm disturbances get a pacemaker or defibrillator each year.

In the United States, pacemakers sell for about $5,000, which does not include the cost of surgery, a hospital stay and additional care.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Center for  Advancing  Translational Sciences.

Attribution: Claire Bates