30 June 2012

29 June 2012

No Comment Required

27 June 2012

US Sows the CEED for Energy-Efficient Education

Reposted from Australian Green Building

Passive housing, modeled from the original German Passivhaus technology, is commonly known for high insulation, low or no reliance on grid energy, and all around energy efficiency.
This kind of green building is associated with some of the most stringent design and building practices and running analysis in the sector. It is founded on the notion of sustainable operation through a natural moderation of interior temperatures – achieved through an airtight design – with ventilation taking place through a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) or Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV).
“What Passivhaus technology is, is basically a building-physics methodology for modeling the energy performance of buildings very accurately and fairly easily,” said Adam Cohen, Passivhaus planner and co-founder of Structures Design Build.
Creating a building using these principles – and in so doing, becoming the first of its kind – is the Center of Energy Efficient Design (CEED) in Rocky Mount, Virginia. CEED stands as the first public school to be built using Passivhaus principles and currently uses 68 per cent less energy to run than conventionally-developed schools.
“We knew Passivhaus technology would deliver on results, but it’s always gratifying to get a year’s worth of data to see how accurate the predictions turn out,” says Cohen. “It’s clear this relatively new technology is here to stay.”

The results to which he refers consist of the 10,050 kWh of energy used within the first year of running, which compares incredibly favourably to a relative standard building’s output of 33,852 kWh of energy. The building will stand as an education prototype, teaching both students and the US industry, though the latter has not yet shown a notable interest in that particular green building practice. “The idea is that the CEED building will be a central piece of the teaching in this county,” says Cohen. “The other piece of this that’s really cool is that the teachers are going to take all the lesson plans from the CEED and put it on the Web for any teacher, anywhere in the world to access. They can use the real-time data of the building, in terms of energy saved and water conserved, in their lessons.” Much like a number of developments in educational facilities here in Australia, the Virginia-based school will use its own monitoring systems as dual teaching/learning tools, using the building as an instrument of – in addition to being a site for – learning. CEED stands as one of the strongest promotional examples of the passive building technique in the US. However, as Cohen attests, as the running results of these building are collected, their popularity only increases. By Tim Moore

26 June 2012

Check this out!

25 June 2012

Fuke You!

The horrible news from Japan continues to be ignored by the western corporate media. 

Fukushima's radioactive fallout continues to spread throughout the archipelago, deep into the ocean and around the globe---including the US. It will ultimately impact millions, including many here in North America.

The potentially thankful news is that Fukushima's three melting cores may have not have melted deep into the earth, thus barely avoiding an unimaginably worse apocalyptic reality.

But it's a horror that humankind has yet to fully comprehend.

As Fukushima's owners now claim its three melted reactors approach cold shutdown, think of this:

At numerous sites worldwide---including several in the US---three or more reactors could simultaneously melt, side-by-side. At two sites in California---Diablo Canyon and San Onofre---two reactors each sit very close to major earthquake faults, in coastal tsunami zones.
Should one or more such cores melt through their reactor pressure vessels (as happened at Fukushima) and then through the bottoms of the containments (which, thankfully, may not have happened at Fukushima), thousands of tons of molten radioactive lava would burn into the Earth.
The molten mass(es) would be further fed by thousands of tons of intensely radioactive spent fuel rods stored on site that could melt into the molten masses or be otherwise compromised.
All that lava would soon hit groundwater, causing steam and hydrogen explosions of enormous power.
Those explosions would blow untold quantities of radioactive particles into the global environment, causing apocalyptic damage to all living beings and life support systems on this planet. The unmeasurable clouds would do unimaginable, inescapable injury to all human life.
Fukushima is far from over. There is much at the site still fraught with peril, far from the public eye. Among other things, Unit Four's compromised spent fuel pool is perched high in the air. The building is sinking and tilting. Seismic aftershocks could send that whole complex---and much more---tumbling down, with apocalyptic consequences.

Fukushima's three meltowns and at least four explosions have thus far yielded general radioactive fallout at least 25 times greater than what was released at Hiroshima, involving more than 160 times the cesium, an extremely deadly isotope.

Reuters reports that fallout into the oceans is at least triple what Tokyo Electric has claimed. Airborne cesium and other deadly isotopes have been pouring over the United States since a few scant days after the disaster.

Overall the fallout is far in excess of Chernobyl, which has killed more than a million people since its 1986 explosion.

Within Japan, radioactive hotspots and unexpectedly high levels of falloutcontinue to surface throughout the archipelago. The toll there and worldwide through the coming centuries will certainly be in the millions.

And yet....it could have been far worse.

In the US, in the past few months, an earthquake has shaken two Virginia reactors beyond their design specifications. Two reactors in Nebraska have been seriously threatened by flooding. Now a lethal explosion has struck a radioactive waste site in France.

We have also just commemorated a 9/11/2001 terror attack that could easily have caused full melt-downs to reactors in areas so heavily populated that millions could have been killed and trillions of dollars in damage could have permanently destroyed the American economy.

The only thing we now know for certain is that there will be more earthquakes, more tsunamis, more floods, hurricanes and tornadoes....and more terror attacks.

Horrifying as Fukushima may be, we also know for certain that the next reactor catastrophe could make even this one pale by comparison.

Japan will never fully recover from Fukushima. Millions of people will be impacted worldwide from its lethal fallout.

But the next time could be worse---MUCH worse.

The only good news is that Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and others are dumping atomic power. They are committing to Solartopian technologies---solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, ocean thermal, sustainable bio-fuels, increased efficiency and conservation---that will put their energy supplies in harmony with Mother Earth rather than at war with her.

The rest of humankind must do the same---and fast. Our species can't survive on this planet---ecologically, economically or in terms of our biological realities---without winning this transtion.

The only question is whether we do it before the next Fukushima times ten thousand makes the whole issue moot.

24 June 2012

Fuked Again!

(NaturalNews) The mass radioactive contamination of our planet is now under way thanks to the astonishing actions taking place at the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan. As of last night, TEPCO announced it is releasing 10,000 tons of radioactive water directly into the Pacific Ocean. That 2.4 million gallons of planetary poison being dumped directly into the ocean.

This water is being released because they have run out of places to keep it on land. It's too deadly to transport anywhere else, and all the storage pools around Fukushima are already overflowing. So they're dumping it into the ocean, then calling it "safe" because they claim the ocean will "disperse" all the radiation and make it harmless.

But because there's more radioactive water being produced every day at Fukushima, this process of releasing radioactive water into the ocean could theoretically continue for years, easily making Fukushima the worst nuclear disaster in the history of our world.

Quick, fudge the numbers before anybody notices!

Fukushima, you see, is doing to the Pacific Ocean what BP and the Deepwater Horizon did to the Gulf of Mexico last summer. Except that in the case of Fukushima, that radiation doesn't just disappear with the help of millions of gallons of toxic chemicals. Nope, that radiation sticks around for decades.

So what to do? If you're the United States Environment Protection Agency, there's only one option: Declare radiation to be safe!

Yes indeed, friends, we have reached a moment of comedic insanity at the EPA, where those in charge of protecting the environment are hastily rewriting the definition of "radioactive contamination" in order to make sure that whatever fallout reaches the United States falls under the new limits of "safe" radiation.

The EPA maintains a set of so-called "Protective Action Guides" (PAGs). These PAGs are being quickly revised to radically increase the allowable levels of iodine-131 (a radioactive isotope) to anywhere from 3,000 to 100,000 times the currently allowable levels.

The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is all over this issue, having obtained internal emails from a FOIA requests that reveal some truly shocking revelations of the level of back-stabbing betrayal happening inside the EPA. For example, under the newly-revised PAGs, drinking just one glass of water considered "safe" by the EPA could subject you to the lifetime limit of radiation. (http://www.peer.org/news/news_id.php?row_id=1325)

"In addition," PEER goes on to say, "it would allow long-term cleanup limits thousands of times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These new limits would cause a cancer in as much as every fourth person exposed."

These new PAGs would also vastly increase the allowable levels of radiation in soil and food, too. That way, when the radioactive fallout from Fukushima's massive release of raw radioactive water begins to rain down upon the West Coast, the EPA can officially announce that all the radiation is "below accepted limits." That's very comforting to many people, you see.

And why is it below the limits? Because the EPA just raised the limits by as much as 100,000 times!

Quack science is alive and well as the government

Truly, this is science at its most delightful. When the facts don't fit your fairy tale, simply rewrite the fairy tale to discard the facts! That's science for you today, folks: There's nothing that can't be denied, censored, oppressed or ignored if you just fudge the numbers with enough determination and arrogance.

The U.S. government does the exact same thing with vitamin D, of course. By lowering the definition of vitamin D deficiency to mean only those with a blood level below 30, the government magically and instantly transforms a wildly deficient American population into a "sufficiently nourished" population! It's magic, friends. Magic with numbers.

But even the EPA's sleight-of-hand magic isn't fooling very many people this time around. Even the most TV-obsessed, CNN-watching news zombie has by now figured out that too much radiation is bad for you. After all, the media has been screaming at people about the dangers of sunlight radiation for years, insisting that the mere act of sunlight touching your skin could kill you from skin cancer.

And yet, thanks to the EPA's magically-morphing numbers, even though sunlight radiation might kill you, Fukushima radiation is perfectly safe for ya!

You have a front row seat in this entertaining charade

Isn't it amazing? Watching the U.S. government try to fudge its way out of the physical realities of Fukushima probably beats the best stage magic show you'll ever find in Vegas. Sure, in Vegas they can make white tigers disappear right in front of your very eyes, but with the help of the U.S. government, they can cause the world's largest nuclear catastrophe to vanish by simply redefining radiation exposure limits.

You may wonder, dear readers, where the U.S. government learned these amazing and fantastic tricks of fudging the numbers. The answer, as regular NaturalNews know all too well, is that they learned it from the U.S. Treasury, where fudging the numbers is an essential skill to keep things running. After all, if the federal government can pretend that trillions of dollars in toxic debt have no impact on the U.S. economy, it's a no-brainer to also pretend that massive doses of radioactive fallout have no impact on environmental health, either.

That's the new mantra in Washington: We just wish it away! It should be Obama's new campaign slogan, actually: Are you ready to wish it all away? Watch the distraction in my right hand while I steal the money out of your wallet with my left...

British scientists have the solution: Spread it all around!

Getting back to the absolutely glowing situation in Fukushima, if you can't believe the U.S. EPA, then perhaps you can take comfort in the authoritative words of a British newspaper, which assures us that:

"Scientists also confirmed that ocean currents will swiftly dilute the radioactive iodine-131, eliminating risks to human health and the environment." (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/8425719/Japan-nu...)

Surely this logic is impeccable, no? Any amount of toxic radiation can simply be declared safe by dumping it into the ocean and watching the waves sweep it all away. By this same logic, you could clean up a toxic chemical spill by swishing it around with wet mops and then declaring the zone to be safe again.

Didn't we try this already with pesticides, herbicides and agricultural runoff? And didn't it create massive ocean dead zones all around the planet? Now we're going to add Chernobyl-sized radiation releases to that equation, too?

Fukushima is a massive dirty bomb

I'm reminded that if an Islamic-looking individual conducted such an act anywhere near a U.S. shoreline, it would be considered an act of terrorism. A dirty bomb, actually. And those individuals would be shipped off the Guantanamo Bay to be interrogated in a facility that President Obama once promised the voters would be closed down if he were elected. He was lying, of course. But that's not even the news here. Everybody already knows he was lying about Gitmo.

So why is unleashing a dirty bomb an act of terrorism if you're Islamic-looking, but if you're Japanese suddenly it's all officially safe? And by what contortions in its twisted agenda of anti-public service does the EPA go to these extraordinary lengths to redefine the very margins of radiation exposure? If Fukushima goes into a total meltdown, will the EPA just add more zeroes to the end of its safety margin numbers until we're all assured our food is U.S. government approved 100% safe even while our hair falls out from eating it?

Will the FDA soon tell us that radioactive milk is safe to drink, but RAW milk is deadly?

Canada tries to out-stupid the USA

Ah, the fascination of watching this tragic comedy of errors unfold in the U.S. government almost cannot be exceeded. But Canada is sure trying. Its own nuclear monitoring network has simply been shut off, and its website now reads "Please note that as of March 25, 2011, the frequency of data collection by NRCan using the mobile surveys has been decreased due to the low levels of radiation being detected."

Seriously, see the bottom of the page: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/ed-ud/respond/nuclea/_data/nrcan-rncan-e...

Yep, since they're detecting low levels of radiation, this is apparently justification for turning off the monitors altogether, which of course is the kind of brilliant early warning plan that could have only been dreamed up by a brain-dead bureaucrat. It's as if these morons are sitting around a table having a conversation that goes something like this:

Bureaucratic Moron #1: Remember how we spent a hundred million dollars installing a national network of radiation detectors?

Bureaucratic Moron #2: Yeah.

Bureaucratic Moron #1: And remember how we started to detect some of the radioactive fallout from Fukushima as it began raining down upon Canada?

Bureaucratic Moron #2: Yeah.

Bureaucratic Moron #1: Well, I have a great idea. Let's turn OFF all the detectors so that we stop detecting radiation!

Bureaucratic Moron #2: That's brilliant! You're a genius!

Bureaucratic Moron #1: I know I am. And we wouldn't want to waste this expensive equipment, you know.

Bureaucratic Moron #2: Right, we want to save it for a scenario when we might really need it, eh?

Bureaucratic Moron #1: Exactly! And we'll save millions of dollars in operating fees, because the best way to save money on radiation detectors is to not use them.

Bureaucratic Moron #2: You're a genius! You should run for Prime Minister!

Yes there is a plan, but you're not in it

Obama, of course, is trying to best his Canadian counterpart by simply urging the American people to do nothing in the case of radioactive fallout. Don't worry, my little consumer sheeple, you don't need to prepare in any way whatsoever, Obama says from his nuclear fallout shelter that's stocked with 10 years of food, water, emergency medical supplies, government ammunition and military communications equipment. It's okay for the President to prepare for emergencies, I guess. Just not YOU.

There is a plan, you see, for the government to survive every disaster that comes our way. You're just not part of it. The government feels that its own survival is far more important than yours. And just to make sure you don't interfere with its own plans, the government is going to turn off the radiation detectors, raise the official EPA limits of radioactive exposure, urge Americans to avoid preparing for fallout, and then pretend absolutely nothing's wrong. Keep on buying, consuming and paying your bills, all you voters! Punch your time clock at your job if you still have one, and don't ask any questions about radiation, vaccines or the chemical additives they put in hot dogs.

Some food ingredients, you see, are only disclosed on a need-to-know basis. And you don't need to know.

Run for the cure. Vote in the next election. Buy diet sodas and watch lots of sports programs on television with occasional interruptions from the news programs now featuring "info babes" regurgitating scripted mindless propaganda bracketed by flying news network logos. Report suspicious activities at Wal-Mart (http://naturalnews.tv/v.asp?v=5A4B5D4B84344D5D9CBD262A53D8B071). Call 911 on your Arab-looking neighbors just because they look Arab-looking. Watch "Ow, My Balls!" on your television set (http://www.naturalnews.com/021558_Idiocracy_Hollywood.html) and stop thinking about your future.

Your government already has your future planned for you. That's why there's no need for you to expend any effort considering it yourself. Why bother thinking when you can just passively consume everything you're being spoon-fed by the State? And don't worry about the radioactive fallout. It's all safe now. I've been assured of that by the EPA.

Learn more: http://naturalnews.com/031963_radiation_exposure.html#ixzz1wge8TbYa

23 June 2012

Melting Arctic Ice Is Releasing Massive Amounts Of Methane

The melting Arctic ice is causing huge quantities of methane gas to be released into the atmosphere. Concerns about climate change-inducing greenhouse gases are often centered on carbon dioxide (CO2), but methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20-30 times more potent than CO2. Each methane molecule is actually about 70 times more potent in terms of trapping heat than a molecule of carbon dioxide, however, methane breaks down more quickly in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

The sub-sea layer of permafrost traps methane, preventing it from escaping, but as it melts it allows the methane to rise from underground deposits. According to scientists, large releases of methane gas can cause rapid climate changes.

There are historical precedents to back-up this assertion. Scientists believe that long ago, sudden releases of methane were responsible for rapid increases in global temperatures, dramatic changes to the climate, and even the mass extinction of species.

The Paleocene/Eocene thermal maximum (55.5 Million years ago) is a period with drastic climate change due to massive releases of methane. It has also been suggested that large temperature swings during the last glacial period have been caused by abrupt releases of methane.

Hundreds of millions of tons of methane gas are locked beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.

Researchers at the Russian Academy of Sciences, the University of Alaska and Stockholm University have been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years. Early in December, they reported dramatic and unprecedented volumes of methane being released from the Arctic seabed. They estimate that eight million tons of methane is currently leaking into the atmosphere every year.

Vast amounts of methane have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean. There are fields in the Arctic where the release is so intense that the methane does not have time to dissolve into the seawater but rises to the surface as large bubbles.

In an exclusive interview with the Independent, lead scientist Igor Semiletov said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed. Dr Semiletov made his findings public early in December at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco

"Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It's amazing," Dr. Semiletov said. "I was most impressed by the sheer scale and high density of the plumes. Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them."

Recent observations suggest that previous surveys may have significantly underestimated the amount of methane being released into the atmosphere from the Arctic seabed.

This new information was recorded in late summer 2011 by Dr. Semiletov and his team of researchers. The scientists onboard the vessel Academician Lavrentiev conducted an extensive survey of 10,000 square miles of sea off the East Siberian coast. The scientists made their observations with the help of four highly sensitive seismic and acoustic instruments that monitor the methane seeping from the ocean floor.

"In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed," Dr. Semiletov said. "We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere."

Expeditions in the Laptev Sea in 1994 did not detect elevated methane levels. However, since 2003 a rising number of methane "hotspots" have been detected.

Research prepared for publication by the American Geophysical Union in 2008 by Dr. Orjan Gustafsson of Stockholm University in Sweden indicated that anomalies were recorded in the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea. These preliminary findings were uncovered by scientists aboard the research vessel Jacob Smirnitskyi. At the time, Gustafsson was quoted as saying:

"The conventional thought has been that the permafrost 'lid' on the sub-sea sediments on the Siberian shelf should cap and hold the massive reservoirs of shallow methane deposits in place. The growing evidence for release of methane in this inaccessible region may suggest that the permafrost lid is starting to get perforated and thus leak methane… The permafrost now has small holes. We have found elevated levels of methane above the water surface and even more in the water just below. It is obvious that the source is the seabed."

In 2011, the scientists aboard the vessel Academician Lavrentiev revealed much higher concentrations of methane covering thousands of square miles of the Siberian continental shelf. These researchers found Arctic seabed methane up to 100 times background levels.

According to Natalia Shakhova, of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, "The concentration of atmospheric methane increased three times in the past two centuries from 0.7 parts per million to 1.7ppm, and in the Arctic to 1.9ppm. That's a huge increase, between two and three times, and this has never happened in the history of the planet."

The Arctic is warming faster than any other region on earth. As a whole, the Arctic has experienced an average temperature increase of 4C over recent decades. The World Meteorological Organization said that northern areas like the Russian Arctic experienced the greatest increases in temperature in 2011. They also report that since 1970, the Arctic has warmed at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the globe.

Scientists predict that over the next thirty years 45 billion metric tons of carbon from methane and carbon dioxide will seep into the atmosphere as the permafrost thaws. By the end of the century it is expected that about 300 billion metric tons of carbon will be released from the thawing Earth.

Adding in that gas means that warming would happen "20 to 30 percent faster than from fossil fuel emissions alone," said Edward Schuur of the University of Florida. "You are significantly speeding things up by releasing this carbon."

The release of trapped methane will cause higher temperatures, leading to even more melting of the permafrost and the release of yet more methane. This troubling trend of melting permafrost on the floor of the Arctic Ocean is accompanied by a dramatic decline in summer sea ice covering the surface. The loss of sea ice will further accelerate the warming trend because open ocean absorbs more heat from the sun than a reflective ice surface. This represents a strong positive feedback that amplifies anthropogenic warming.

Scientists have estimated the amount of methane stored beneath the Arctic to be greater than the total amount of carbon locked up in global coal reserves. Subsea permafrost is losing its ability to be an impermeable cap and models suggest that if even only one percent of the methane were released from the ocean floor, it would radically accelerate global warming.

Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. 

22 June 2012

Another American Utility Scam!

As part of the case against Pacific Gas and Electric’s fines levied after their deadly explosion, CA state Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D) has introduced legislation to save rate payers the money PG&E will use to upgrade its pipeline system. Or as Hill says, “These funds are not going to be budgeted this year, regardless, and it could be years down the road before those fines are imposed. This gets more to the issue of equity and fairness.” Great idea Jerry…except for one thing. Your plan to “save” innocent rate payers up to 95 percent of PG&E’s plan for the first phase of work – and up to $9 billion for Phase 2 – is genius – for PG&E and it’s stockholders. Instead, Hill’s legislation – co-sponsored by CA Sen. Mark Leno (D), who also represents overwhelmingly wealthy districts in the Bay Area – effectively transfers those costs from the poor, over-regulated back of PG&E and its stockholders directly to rate payers. BTW, let’s also excuse the rate payer-funded millions granted to PG&E to fix those pipeline problems BEFORE the tragedy murders occurred too. Money they used instead to pay executive compensation and dividends during some less than profitable years. And oh yeah, let’s ice the case by allowing PG&E stockholders an 11.1 percent dividend for all their fine – and by fine, I mean fine sarcastically – work on paying fines intended to be punitive. Initial fines, BTW, a court laughably low and sent back for renegotiation. The stunning ineptitude of years of PG&E cock ups was partially caused by the equally stunning failure of CA’s Public Utilities Commission to regulate. The PUC levied years of slap-on-the wrist fines which PG&E simply wrote off as the costs of doing business. Newsflash here Mark and Jerry, the rate payers already paid for the upgrades and you saved us zilch. This case is exactly what makes claims of corporate over-regulation a farce. It also highlights the fact that corporations routinely pretend to be good corporate citizens – while whining about rate payer-funded, artificially low fines actually paid by someone else – levied only when their reprehensible conduct is too big to ignore. If by “too big to ignore” we mean blowing up entire neighborhoods. You guys, I can do without “help” like this.

21 June 2012

From Helen - Tell it sister!

By Helen

Margaret, only in America can a white, Christian woman grow up to marry a white, Christian man and live in a lovely home and shop at a Piggly Wiggly.  Maybe I should run for President.  Of course I would need to go back to school and get a degree from Harvard or Yale first.

Now I thought the American public was smarter than this…   Or maybe they are but the Republican base is just messing up the grading curve.  Dress him however you want, but Romney is a rich son of a bitch.  Period.  He can talk all he wants about “Only in America…” but honest to God doesn’t anyone in the Republican Party see the irony in that?  Only in America?  He should say In America Only a wealthy guy in a business suit can get the Republican nomination.   For Christ’s sake, the other guy is a black man raised by a single white woman.  He’s a Christian mulatto who gets confused for a Kenyan Muslim. Now there’s your Only in America story.  And evidently only in the Democratic Party as well.

I don’t have issues with a poor man becoming wealthy any more than I do with a wealthy man becoming President.  But is that all you’ve got?  Mitt’s father’s family was temporarily poor during the depression?  Get in line. His Dad had a pet pony named Monty.   Wow.  Life was real a pile of shit for that guy.  Who names their pony Monty?

Mitt Romney is George Bush all over again. Wealthy kid of a wealthy politician who has no earthly idea what it means to make the money stretch from one paycheck to another…  Only in America my ass.  Only in the Republican Party is more like it:

Only in the Republican Party can a college dropout, married four times with no children call women sluts for using birth control. Maybe the addiction to Oxycontin made Rush sterile?

Only in the Republican Party can a blonde with big feet claim the widows of the 9/11 attacks “enjoyed their husbands’ deaths” and then go on to be a NY Times best-selling author and conservative analyst for Fox News.

Only in the Republican Party can an idiot from Alaska run for Vice President on a platform of abstinence only while keeping an early pregnancy test strip in her purse for when the kids want an after school snack.

Only in the Republican Party can Newt Gingrich, divorced twice (cheated thrice?),  give stump speeches about the sanctity of marriage.

Only in the Republican Party can John Boehner and Donald Trump get their skin that orange.

And only in the Republican Party can Mitt Romney claim to be an example of the American Dream. Of course, in this case the dream is that a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, liberal governor from Massachusetts grew up to become the conservative nominee for the Republican Party.

Honey, I’m not scared of Romney.  I’m scared of the idiots who vote for him.  I mean it. Really.

20 June 2012

No Comment

19 June 2012

Suck it Repubes!

18 June 2012

No Comment

17 June 2012

How Many Jobs Did GOP Clean Energy Obstruction Just Cost Virginia?

Reposted from the green miles

Congressional Republicans, led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), have been blocking extension of several key clean energy tax credits, investments that represent a tiny fraction of the subsidies received by the oil, gas & nuclear industries over time. And here in Virginia, officials have dragged their feet on encouraging offshore wind and been accused of letting Dominion Virginia Power slow down the process.

Now the GOP's ideological war is having real consequences and costing Virginia jobs at a critical time for the fragile economic recovery. Wind energy giant Gamesa has announced that if the U.S. and Virginia can't commit to wind energy, it can't commit to the U.S., building key new wind prototypes off Spain & Africa instead:
While still committed to developing a U.S. market, a Gamesa spokeswoman said the slow pace of regulatory actions, uncertainty over the future of tax credits for offshore development and the lack of a federal energy policy all conspired against investment in the prototype.

"Without a mature offshore wind market in the United States, it is extremely difficult to justify the enormous expenditure of capital and utilization of engineering and technical resources that would be needed to build and install a prototype in the U.S.," Gamesa spokesman Susana Sanjuan wrote in an email to The Associated Press. The prototype was to rise in the lower Chesapeake Bay, about three miles off the town of Cape Charles. It had a late 2013 completion date, which would have made it the first wind turbine in offshore U.S. waters.

The prototype was the first publicly announced product to emerge from a partnership between Gamesa and Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding. Gamesa also announced that partnership will "wind down" by year's end with the design of a new offshore platform completed.
Just a couple of months ago, Gov. Bob McDonnell had raved about the project. "This wind turbine prototype will bring jobs, jobs and more jobs, and it positions Virginia to be a leader in clean energy technology," said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech.

Will Cantor and McDonnell now idly sit by while Virginia gets left in the dust by leaders that are serious about creating jobs and protecting public health with offshore wind?

16 June 2012


15 June 2012

Choose The Children

14 June 2012

Minimum Wage Is Too Small To Live On

Reposted from Ted McLauglin

The chart above (which you can click on to get a larger and easier to read version) shows the complete inadequacy of the minimum wage ($7.25 an hour, or about $15,080 a year) in this country. It shows the number of hours that a minimum wage worker would have to work to pay for a two bedroom apartment (at the fair market rate in each state).

The awful truth is that a person who works 40 hours a week (a full-time job) for the minimum wage would not be able to pay for a two bedroom apartment in any state. And in more than half of the states, it would take working 71 hours or more at the minimum wage to pay for that apartment. This fact alone should make it clear that no one can support a family (which would require at least a two bedroom apartment) on a minimum wage salary -- and we haven't even considered items such as food, clothing, transportation, and assorted other expenses that it takes to raise a family.

Some might respond that the minimum wage was never meant to support a family, but was intended to be paid to single people (primarily young people entering the work force). But that argument just doesn't hold water. Wages are not paid according to a worker's age, but according to the job he/she is doing. And millions of people of all ages are working for minimum wage in America.

In fact, the minimum wage is not even adequate for single people of any age. After you include the cost of food, transportation and clothing, it would be extremely difficult (if not impossible in most states) for a person to even be able to afford an efficiency apartment.

The truth is that the minimum wage would need to be about $3.00 an hour higher than it is now to provide even a minimal decent level of living. At $10 an hour, the yearly wage would only be about $20,800. Could you maintain a decent level of living on less than that? Of course not.

And while most congressional Democrats don't have the political courage to support a truly decent minimum wage, the Republicans are far worse. Many, if not most, Republicans would like to eliminate the minimum wage altogether, and let businesses pay workers even less than $7.25 an hour (while supporting tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires). Doesn't that prove that they care only for the rich?

These same Republicans point to Texas as the example of how well their economic policies work, calling it an economic "miracle". But here in Texas, we have both the largest number of people and the largest percentage of the workforce that are working for minimum wage (or less). We also have the largest number and percentage of workers with no benefits, including health insurance. That's not an economic miracle -- it's an economic disaster.

The minimum wage needs to be raised significantly. It would not only be the decent thing to do, but also the moral thing. If we want people to work their way out of poverty, we must give them the tools with which to do it -- and the two best tools we have are a decent minimum wage and an opportunity for a decent education.

13 June 2012

Election Cycle

12 June 2012

11 June 2012

GOP Tries Another Faux Issue & Fails

By Ted McLauglin

The issue that will probably determine the upcoming election will most likely be the economy (and jobs), but the Republicans can't compete on that. They still support the same old trickle-down economics that cost this nation millions of jobs, created a vast gap of wealth and income, and threw the country into recession. And they are far too invested in party ideology to alter those views.

That's why they are doing their best to change the electoral narrative to take the public's mind off of the economy and on to social issues, like same-sex marriage. Their latest effort has been to dredge up an old, but lasting issue -- abortion. They know they can't outright ban abortion (thanks to the Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade), so they are once again trying to chip away at the edges of current abortion law.

This time it was a bill introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Arizona), pictured above. Franks bill would have outlawed a woman having an abortion because of the sex of the fetus. The bill got 246 votes, but failed because it was brought to the House floor under an expedited process -- which limited debate on the issue, but required a two-thirds majority for passage.

I'm sure the Republicans will now try to sell the idea that Democrats are in favor of allowing abortions solely because of the sex of the fetus. Of course that is ridiculous. Most Democrats simply believe a woman should have control over her own body. It's a fake issue anyway, for a couple of reasons.

The idea was that women would abort a female fetus because boys are favored. That may be true in some other countries (like China, where there is a limit on the amount of children a woman can have), but there is no evidence of selective abortion in this country. In fact, the evidence shows just the opposite of that. Back in 1983 there were 1,053 boys born for every 1,000 girls. In 2009, that had shrunk to 1,048 boys for every 1,000 girls. The ratio of boys to girls has gone down instead of climbing (as it would have if selective abortion was a problem).

In addition, at least 92% of all abortions are performed before the sex of the fetus can even be determined.  Obviously this was a bill with little meaning or purpose, other than to try and change the electoral debate -- and increase the Republican's war on women.

10 June 2012

Gay Marriage

09 June 2012

Appeals Court Strikes A Blow For Equality

By Ted McLaughlin

Several federal district courts have ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional because it denies gays and lesbians the same rights that heterosexual couples have when they get married. But a federal appeals court had never ruled on DOMA. Now the United States 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston has ruled the heart of DOMA to be unconstitutional.

DOMA was passed to prevent the states from making same-sex marriage legal (as several have now done). The Republicans, who claim to be for states' rights, tried to deny states the right to make this decision for themselves. Massachusetts was the state challenging DOMA, in a case called Massachusetts vs. U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Massachusetts is one of the states that has legalized same-sex marriage. In their decision, the court said:

If we are right in thinking that disparate impact on minority interests and federalism concerns both require somewhat more in this case than almost automatic deference to Congress' will, this statute fails that test.

Many Americans believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and most Americans live in states where that is the law today/ One virtue of federalism is that it permits this diversity of governance based on local choice, but this applies as well to the states that have chosen to legalize same-sex marriage. Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress' denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest.

The best part is that two of the three justices that ruled against DOMA were appointed by Republican presidents. The three judge panel was made up of Michael Boudin (appointed by Bush I), Juan Torruella (appointed by Reagan), and Sandra Lynch (appointed by Clinton).

Earlier this month, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that California's proposition 8 (which denied the right of same-sex marriage in that state) was unconstitutional because it violated the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by causing "meaningful harm to gays and lesbians". It is likely that both court decisions will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has been putting off making any decision regarding same-sex marriage, but in light of these two decisions they will probably now have to take up the issue. They could combine the two suits and make a broad decision on same-sex marriage rights, but it is more likely they will just decide each separately and give the states the right to make their own decision (since heterosexual marraige rights are granted by each state, rather than the federal government). Either way, it will be interesting to see what happens.

08 June 2012


07 June 2012

Are We Already At War With Iran ?

Reposted from Jobsanger

Some of you may be shocked at my title question. After all, hasn't the president done all that he can to avoid war with Iran? Hasn't he joined with the European countries to put economic pressure on Iran, in an effort to avoid attacking them? Well yes, he has done that -- but that may just be a cover for the much more aggressive actions this country has initiated.

We already know about the American rocket that killed civilians in Iran. According to the government, that rocket was meant to explode in Iraq and just went awry. And then there's the matter of the drones we have been sending over Iran. One of them was actually shot down by the Iranians, so we can't deny doing that anymore. Again, the official story is that they just got off course.

But there is another matter that is even more serious -- an intentional attack on Iranian property by the United States government. The attack tool is called "Stuxnet". It's a computer "worm" created by the United States (and Israel) to wreak havoc on the Iranian government's computers. It was first discovered when a screw-up in the program sent the worm around the world instead of just to Iran's computer system. And it's been going on for years now.

The cyber-attacks were started by the Bush administration, but President Obama made the decision to continue, and even increase, them after he took office. The attack was a unilateral one, and another example of the United State's policy of "preventative war" -- a Bush doctrine that seems to have been adopted by President Obama.

This brings up a valid question. Isn't an attack on another country's computer system an act of war? If another country were to attack our own government's computers, you can bet our government would consider it an act of war (just as surely as if they had attacked one of our ships or airplanes or military bases). And we would retaliate.

Ask yourself what the United States would do if Iran killed American citizens with a missile, sent drones over U.S. territory, or launched a cyber-attack on our nation's computer system? You know the answer. At the very least the U.S. would bomb the hell out of Iran, and it very well could lead to all-out war.

Too many Americans will deny it (because they believe the U.S. can do no wrong), but our government has already launched the first strikes against Iran. The only reason we are not already in a shooting war is that Iran is showing remarkable restraint (and good sense). Perhaps they know we are trying hard to prod them into responding, so we'll have an excuse to launch our bombers.

06 June 2012

Denying Reality

05 June 2012

04 June 2012

Rushpubliscum Economic Magic: 2012 as 2008, as 1929

Reposted from Plutocrap

The Rushpubliscums have no idea for the economy in 2012 that they didn’t have in 2008: slash taxes on the wealthy, make offshoring jobs easier, and allow things like pollution of the air and water. Their sudden belief in budget-balancing added a new twist, as millions more Americans became unemployed and prevented any kind of a meaningful economic recovery.
Don’t kid yourself: this was all deliberate. But that isn’t why the May numbers were so dismal.
The May numbers were dismal for the same reason they’ve been dismal countless times in the past-namely, the price of gasoline. The people wetting themselves over this one report are extremely shortsighted. They’d have done much better to wring their hands over the deliberate Rushpubliscum destruction of the economy, but for some reason, that got overshadowed by all the deffy-cit talk in the MSM. Gosh, I wonder WHY?!?
The Republican Depression never ended, and has not ended. It will not end until the Rushpubliscums are relegated to the sidelines. That isn’t to say that the dems are much better, but you fight the fire in the kitchen before you put out the embers in the trash pit out back. The dems, at the very least, can be persuaded to do something to SAVE a few jobs.
That simply isn’t going to happen as long as the Rushpubliscums have a way to prevent it.
As I said, this is a harsh indictment of Rushpubliscum destruction-as-politics, more than anything else. But the price of refined oil products, as we will see in the next couple of months, has more to do with this particular number than anything else.
Now would be a wonderful time to actually debate the root of the economic slumps here and in Europe, which happens to be greed-driven austerity. In spite of austerity having been tried, and failed, countless times, for some reason or other people send politicians back to fail at it, time and time again. I wish that someone here would mention how devastating austerity has been to the economies of the world, but the only guy who has even gotten close to admitting it is Willard.
How scary is that?

03 June 2012

Italy tops Germany as world solar leader

Finally, a sunny country is numero uno in the global rankings of photovoltaic installations, as Italy this year will knock Germany into second place.

According to research firm IHS iSuppli, the Mediterranean nation’s new installations of PV electricity in 2011 will reach 6.9 gigawatts (GW) by the time the year ends. That’s the equivalent of about 6 nuclear power stations.

Italy will edge out Germany, which will install 5.9 GW, down from 7.4 GW last year. Although not known as a sunny country, Germany has long held a leading place among PV countries because of government policies. It was an early adopter of feed-in-tariffs (FiTs).

Policy also helps explain why Italian installations nearly will nearly double from 3.6 GW last year to this year’s 6.9 GW.

“The Italian government’s attractive incentives boosted the country’s installations massively, giving it the top position worldwide,” said Henning Wicht, IHS iSuppli’s director and principal analyst for photovoltaics. An IHS press release attributed the increase to “attractive tariffs and changing subsidy schemes from the government in Rome.” The European Photovoltaic Industry has estimated that the value of electricity from business-scale PV installations in Italy will fall to equal the cost of buying it from the grid as early as 2013.

According to IHS, German buyers held off in the first half of the year as they anticipated - correctly as it turns out - that prices would drop precipitously.  Earlier this year, IHS also noted a second-half German rush to buy PV products before a planned reduction in FiT support in 2012.

Rounding out the leaders, the U.S. earned third place, with 2.7 GW, followed by China’s 1.7 GW,  Japan’s 1.3 GW and France’s approximately 1.0 GW. Global installations will reach 23.8 GW, an impressive 34 percent gain from 17.7 GW in 2010.

The IHS listings differed from another recent ranking by One Block Off The Grid in which Germany remained on top and Italy was fourth, behind Spain and Japan.

02 June 2012

Nukes down CO2 UP

Like or dislike nuclear power, its reactors do not emit carbon dioxide - the global warming culprit. So guess what’s happened to Japan’s CO2 footprint since it started shutting down its nuclear plants and replacing them with CO2 spewing fossil fuels?

In case you need a clue:  Japan has switched off all but two of the 54 reactors that had provided 30 percent of the country’s electricity before Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant meltdown a year ago.

The answer: “They’re swapping (in) fossil fuels for nuclear, and that’s driving up their CO2 emissions and the carbon intensity of their electricity supply,” says Jesse Jenkins, an energy analyst with research firm the Breakthrough Institute, in an article on the NPR website.

The country has made up a good portion of the energy gap by burning liquefied natural gas (LNG), and also coal and fuel oil. While LNG emits less CO2 than coal, it is still a significant emitter (the nuclear value chain, including mining and fuel processing, has a very small CO2 footprint, as do solar and wind). On top of that, the country imports its fossil fuels from far afield - Japan has precious little of its own coal, oil or natural gas. That incurs extra environmental demerits through the high CO2 emissions of overseas shipping.

“A permanent shutdown (of Japan’s nuclear) would boost annual CO2 emission by 60 million tons - or more than 5 percent  - as the nation draws extra power from burning fossil fuels, according to the country’s Institute of Energy Economics,” writes New Scientist, in a kindred story to NPR’s.

There’s a similar CO2 rise in Germany, which began phasing out nuclear power and using more coal after the events at Fukushima. Germany has closed 8 nuclear plants, and plans to shut its remaining 9 by 2022.

“The additional German emissions alone could add up to more than 300 million tons by 2020, which according to the World Nuclear Association, would ‘virtually cancel out the 335-million-ton savings intended to be achieved in the entire European Union by the 2011 Energy Efficiency Directive’,” New Scientist notes.

Both Germany and Japan have significant plans to use solar and wind energy. Germany is already one of the world’s largest generators of solar electricity (the largest by many measures, although some rankings now put Italy on top). But solar and wind generally cannot provide the steady “baseload” power that nuclear can.

Japan has also responded to its nuclear shutdown with impressive conservation efforts. Its Institute of Energy Economics has estimated that the country could eliminate the need for 13 nuclear reactors alone simply by replacing 1.6 million lightbulbs with energy efficient LEDs.

The country has reasons other than environmental to continue to seek energy efficiency gains. The fossil fuel imports are subject to geopolitical instabilities, as the LNG comes largely from the Persian Gulf, threatened by tensions in Iran.

The imports have even flipped the manufacturing powerhouse’s long vaunted trade surplus. As the NPR article notes, “The country now spends more on imports than it earns from exports. What is Japan buying? Fuel.” It sites figures from the International Energy Agency in Paris pegging Japan’s daily fuel import bill at $100 million. One IEA analyst says that Japan would use 20 percent of the world’s supply of LNG if it kept going at its current rate.

And let’s not forget why Japan built up its nuclear energy profile in the first place. As the CIA handbook points out, the country “has virtually no energy natural resources.” It is “the world’s largest importer of coal and liquefied natural gas, as well as the second largest importer of oil,” the CIA says. That’s a dubious distinction in an era of globally intense political and industrial hydrocarbon volatility.

Nuclear power, and its CO2 avoidance, could well rise up the international environmental agenda, especially as post-Fukushima time goes by. Just yesterday, word leaked that the UK government wants the European Commission to include nuclear as a “renewable” source of energy in 2030 targets for the European Union.

Note to EC: heed Britain’s suggestion. But don’t just stick with conventional uranium, water-cooled nuclear. Head into a nuclear world of safer alternative technologies, such as thorium and others. Thorium reactors could have won the day back in the 1960s, when for political reasons they did not. It’s time to go back to the future.

01 June 2012

Solar electricity world record: Germany cranks half its power with PV

Some people believe that Germany’s walk away from nuclear power will lead it down a path to more fossil fuel plants and all the CO2 emissions that come with them.

But for a day or two last week, the country was cranking solar electricity like it or no nation ever has, according to the International Economic Platform for Renewable Energies in Muenster. The group said in a press release last Saturday that photovoltaic operations in Germany were producing at 22 gigawatts for a cloudless stretch beginning at around noon on Friday, May 25.

As the institute pointed out, that was the equivalent of about 20 nuclear power plants.

“There are currently no other countries on earth producing solar plants with a capacity of 20,000 megawatts (20 gigawatts),” director Norbert Allnoch said in the release, translated roughly into English by Google.

Reuters followed that announcement with a story the next day saying the 22 gigawatts furnished nearly 50 percent of Germany’s electricity at the time.  A version of the Reuters story in the Chicago Tribune suggested that German solar was running at 22 gigawatts per hour from around noon on Friday through Saturday afternoon.

I’ve asked the Muenster group to clarify their gigawatts from their gigawatt hours and their gigawatts per hour — a clarification that energy engineers will appreciate. I haven’t heard back yet.

But I take it at face value that German solar panels were rocking at a record rate last week.

Germany has long been the world leader in producing solar electricity, in large measure because over a decade ago it implemented “feed in tariffs” (FiTs) that essentially pay people and businesses for generating solar.

Germany has been cutting those tariffs steadily,  and at an accelerating pace as plunging prices of solar panels makes them less necessary. The FiTs have encouraged solar uptake and have led to lower prices through manufacturing economies of scale. On top of that, Chinese manufacturers have pushed prices down.

German’s Parliament recently sped up FiT cuts in part because the subsidy has led to higher electricity prices, a Bloomberg Businessweek story noted two months ago.

Some rankings still put Germany in the top spot, although according to one report Italy overtook them last year.

The importance of solar is now greater than ever in Germany, following the country’s decision to abandon nuclear power after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear meltdown in March 2011. Germany has already closed down 8 of its 17 nuclear plants and plans to close the remainder by 2022.

Whether renewables like solar and wind can permanently rise to fill the nuclear gap remains to be seen. A geothermal power industry has also taken root in the country. The world is watching this one.