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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
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On the Chopping Block: State Budget Battles and the Future of Public Media

On the Chopping Block: State Budget Battles and the Future of Public Media

Since 2008, budget battles at the state level have eroded funding for public broadcasters around the country. Free Press and SaveTheNews.org have completed the first inventory of state funding cuts and examined the impact these cuts have had on local stations.

Download the full report: On the Chopping Block: State Budget Battles and the Future of Public Media.

Since 2008, state support for public broadcasting has declined at an alarming rate. More than $85 million in state funding has been cut from public broadcasters’ budgets since 2008.

However, that is only part of the story. If we use the 2008 appropriations as a baseline, we see that the cumulative loss in state funding over the past four years in these 24 states amounts to approximately $202 million. In other words, if the appropriations had remained level with those from 2008, more than $200 million in additional funding would have been allocated in these 24 states during this four-year period.

In this year’s round of state budget negotiations alone, state governments have slashed nearly $30 million from public media budgets.

In many states, the cuts are......

More at: http://www.savethenews.org/state_funding

Energy giant pulls plug on nuclear power

Energy giant pulls plug on nuclear power
Published: 18 Jun 12 12:17 CET

German power giant RWE will build no more nuclear power stations - not only in Germany, where nuclear power is to be phased out by 2022 - but anywhere in the world, the company announced on Monday.

RWE "will not build any nuclear power plants abroad," a company spokeswoman said, confirming a corresponding report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily.

At the end of March, RWE and its bigger rival E.ON decided they would pull out of their British nuclear power joint venture, Horizon Nuclear Power, the spokeswoman pointed out.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper said the management of Germany's second biggest energy company held a secret meeting in an exclusive hotel in Istanbul on Friday and Saturday to discuss the major strategy change.

...The new plan is to pull out of the nuclear power business completely, and invest heavily in solar...


Zealots of the Atom: The Nuclear Cult

Zealots of the Atom: The Nuclear Cult

Nuclear scientists and engineers embrace nuclear power like a religion. The term “nuclear priesthood” was coined by Dr. Alvin Weinberg, long director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the laboratory’s website proudly notes this. It’s not unusual for scientists at Oak Ridge and other U.S. national nuclear laboratories to refer to themselves as “nukies.” The Oak Ridge website describes Weinberg as a “prophet” of “nuclear energy.”

This religious, cultish element is integral to a report done for the U.S. Department of Energy in 1984 by Battelle Memorial Institute about how the location of nuclear waste sites can be communicated over the ages. An “atomic priesthood,” it recommends, could impart the locations in a “legend-and-ritual…retold year-by-year.” Titled “Communications Measures to Bridge Ten Millennia,” the taxpayer-funded report says: “Membership in this ‘priesthood’ would be self-selective over time.”

Currently, Allison Macfarlane, nominated to be the new head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, says she is an “agnostic” on nuclear power—as if support or opposition to atomic energy falls on a religious spectrum. Meanwhile, Gregory Jaczko, the outgoing NRC chairman, with a Ph.D. in physics, was politically crucified because he repeatedly raised safety concerns, thus not revering nuclear power enough.


But when it comes to nuclear power, it’s more than that—it’s a religious adherence. Why? Does it have to do with nuclear scientists and engineers being in such close proximity to power, literally? Is it about the process through which they are trained—in the U.S., many in the nuclear navy and/or in the insular culture of the government’s national nuclear laboratories? These laboratories, originally under the Atomic Energy Commission and now the Department of Energy and managed by corporations, universities and scientific entities including Battelle Memorial Institute, grew out of the World War II Manhattan Project crash program to build atomic bombs. After the war, the laboratories expanded to pursue the development of all things nuclear. And is it about nuclear physics programs at universities serving as echo chambers?

Whatever the causes, the outcome is nuclear worship....


Saab Now Only Producing Electric Cars

The Evolution of Saab: After Filing For Bankruptcy, Iconic Swedish Company Now Only Producing Electric Cars
By Climate Guest Blogger on Jun 15, 2012 at 11:32 am

Saab, the Swedish automaker left for dead after being jettisoned by General Motors in 2010, has been purchased by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS). The company plans to turn Saab into an electrical vehicle maker.

NEVS is owned by Kai Johan Jiang a Chinese entrepreneur educated in Sweden, and Sun Investments, a Japanese company. The plan, according to NEVS is to “meld Swedish car design and manufacturing know-how with Japanese electric vehicle technology to promote premium electric vehicles in China.”

The goal, according to comments made Wednesday at the announcement of the purchase, is to design an electric vehicle for sale in China based on the existing Saab 9-3 small sedan platform using Japanese-made batteries. The car would go on sale in late 2013 or early 2014. Meanwhile, a team of roughly 200 designers — far fewer than the 3,000 employees Saab employed until recently — would be working in Trollhatan, Sweden, site of the Saab factory, on an entirely new vehicle.

Some analysts have questioned the acquisition, particularly the use of the 9-3 as the model for the first electric car:
“Because of the challenges of battery capacity, most electric cars were small and designed for city driving, while the Saab 9-3 was a midsize car, something that could leave it with a short driving range in its usual environment.”

But the shift for Saab is an illustration of the broad changes that car companies are....


"Shibuya museum showcases last photo of loyal pooch Hachiko"

Hachiko's statue at Shibuya station:

Shibuya museum showcases last photo of loyal pooch Hachiko

Owner Yaeko Ueno, front row, second from right, and workers at Shibuya Station pray for the repose of “Chuken Hachiko” (Loyal Dog Hachiko) in Tokyo on March 8, 1935. (Provided by Shibuya Folk and Literary Shirane Memorial Museum)

By KAZUYA OMURO/ Staff Writer
Pretty much everyone who has visited Japan knows the story of Hachiko, a dog revered for its incredible loyalty to his owner, even long after his master's death.

Now, a museum in Tokyo is showcasing an exhibition of a snapshot of the Akita dog taken immediately after Hachiko's death in 1935.

Measuring 12 centimeters by 16 centimeters, the photograph can be viewed at the Shibuya Folk and Literary Shirane Memorial Museum in Shibuya Ward until July 22 as part of the "Shin Shuzo Shiryoten" (Exhibition of newly stored materials).

As the story goes, the dog, whose name was Hachi, waited at Shibuya Station every day for its owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo, to return from work, and continued to do so for 10 years even after Ueno's death.

According to the museum...


Qmilch = ?

From the "What will they think of next" department...


Qmilch is a natural textile created from milk. Searching for an alternative to traditional chemically-treated fabrics, German microbiologist and fashion designer Anke Domaske developed a process that transforms the casein protein from milk into a biocompatible textile.
Qmilch has a texture similar to that of silk, and is...


Gaia's Lovelock abandons nuclear in favor of fracking

James Lovelock: The UK should be going mad for fracking
Scientist James Lovelock is the man behind Gaia theory, and once predicted doom for our climate. He discusses nuclear (good), wind power (bad) and why fracking is the future


"Adapt and survive," he says, when asked why he has decided to move. After more than three decades living amid acres of trees he planted himself by hand, he and his wife Sandy have decided to downsize and move to an old lifeguard's cottage by the beach in Dorset. "I'm not worried about sea-level rises," he laughs. "At worst, I think it will be 2ft a century."

Given that Lovelock predicted in 2006 that by this century's end "billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable", this new laissez-faire attitude to our environmental fate smells and sounds like of a screeching handbrake turn.

Indeed, earlier this year he admitted to MSNBC in an interview reported around the world with somewhat mocking headlines along the lines of "Doom-monger recants", that he had been "extrapolating too far" in reaching such a conclusion and had made a "mistake" in claiming to know with such certainty what will happen to the climate.


Nestled deep into an armchair, Lovelock brushes a biscuit crumb from his lips, and lowers his cup of tea on to the table: "I'm neither strongly left nor right, but I detest the Liberal Democrats."



See also:
James Lovelock on shale gas and the problem with 'greens'


Report: U.S. Solar Power Shines, Will Increase 75 Percent This Year

Report: U.S. Solar Power Shines, Will Increase 75 Percent This Year
CARL FRANZEN JUNE 15, 2012, 6:02 AM 515

A new report on the state of the solar industry in America indicates that despite a global oversupply and a potential trade war with China, the U.S. solar industry had its second-best quarter ever in terms of installations, during the first quarter of 2012.

The number of installations, 506 megawatts worth, enough to power just over 350,000 homes, was bested only by the fourth quarter of 2011, which saw a whopping 708 megawatts worth of solar installed.

On top of that, the report, drafted by clean-energy market analysis firm GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association and released Tuesday, a trade group, forecasts that total U.S. installed solar power will increase 75 percent his year alone, with 3.3 gigawatts-worth of solar power installed, compared to the 4.4 gigawatts that are currently installed in the country and were added over years of development.

“This will be by far the largest year we’ve ever had for solar in the U.S.,” said Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM, in a phone interview with TPM. “Relative to expectations, the first quarter was very strong. We saw both the commercial and residential markets grow.”

Indeed, commercial solar installations, those put in place on corporate properties...


Fukushima Watch: Looking for New Nuclear Revenue — A Spent Fuel Tax?

Fukushima Watch: Looking for New Nuclear Revenue — A Spent Fuel Tax?
By Mari Iwata

The town of Genkai on Japan’s western island of Kyushu is one of many in this country whose livelihood depends on the nuclear reactors it hosts. Since those reactors have been shut down for nearly six months, with no restart in sight, the town is proposing another way of squeezing revenue from the power plant: tax it.

That at least was the idea proposed by Hideo Kishimoto, Genkai’s mayor, in a municipal parliament session on Monday. One specific suggestion: a tax on the storage of the Genkai plant’s spent nuclear fuel rods.

“We can’t avoid a future drop in revenue, so we have to think of new taxes in order to maintain services for residents,” Mr. Kishimoto was quoted as saying in local media.

Genkai’s revenue problem is acute. All of the four nuclear reactors in the Genkai power plant are now offline — as are Japan’s 46 other reactors — as utilities hold off on restarting them to assuage public fears raised by the Fukushima Daiichi accident in March 2011. The Japanese government is expected to order the first two back online since the accident on Saturday.

The idling has pummeled finances at small, out-of-the-way communities...


Status of Production Tax Credit in Congress

Wind Energy PTC Snubbed In Congressional Talks On Tax Extenders
by Laura DiMugno on Thursday 14 June 2012

The Senate Finance Committee met this week to discuss the importance of extending expired or soon-to-expire energy tax provisions. Based on similar recent hearings, expectations were that the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy would figure prominently in the talks.

Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., led off the hearing hoping to spur a conversation on how reforming the tax code could reduce the nation's reliance on fossil fuels and add more wind power to the mix.

"We are still too reliant on fossil-based energy resources - 94 percent of the energy used in the transportation sector comes from oil," Baucus said in his opening remarks. "Only 10 percent of our electricity consumption is generated from renewable or clean energy resources. Our country needs a diverse energy sector like we have in my home state of Montana."

However, the two-hour discussion was dominated by talks about support for the oil and gas industries. One panelist - Harold Hamm, CEO of oil giant Continental Resources - defended tax breaks for oil, saying it gave the industry the opportunity to “try and fail, and try again.”

The wind industry, however, has not been afforded that opportunity...


Senator To Push Congress Every Morning For Wind Energy PTC Extension
by NAW Staff on Wednesday 13 June 2012

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., one of the most vocal congressional supporters of an extension of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy, is stepping up his PTC push.

Udall - who co-sponsored a bipartisan bill in March to extend the PTC for an additional two years - says he will open every morning's Senate session with a speech urging his colleagues to review and extend the PTC. He will also discuss how the PTC affects each state and the implications of failing to pass the tax credit.

"It is one thing for Congress to take the time to consider a new proposal and have an open, honest debate, but the production tax credit is widely supported, will create jobs and has already helped our economy grow," Udall said in a statement.

"Until Congress acts, businesses here and across the country will shed jobs and take our economy backward,” he added. “Americans have had it with dysfunction and inaction on Capitol Hill. It is unacceptable for Congress not to pass this commonsense and badly needed piece of legislation. I plan to remind my colleagues of that every morning until the production tax credit passes."

Udall noted that the PTC has helped attract clean energy businesses to invest in ...


Microsoft, Sprint Urge Congress To Extend PTC For Wind Power
by NAW Staff on Wednesday 13 June 2012

Microsoft and Sprint have joined the push for an extension of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy.

The companies wrote a letter to congressional leaders, urging them to extend the PTC. Microsoft and Sprint are the largest "wind customer" companies to call on Congress to extend the PTC, ranking 37th and 90th, respectively, in the Fortune 500, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

They join 15 other major U.S. companies and consumer brands - including Starbucks, Nike, Campbell’s Soup, Staples and Yahoo! - which signed a similar letter in February.

“The PTC has enabled the wind industry to slash wind energy costs - 90 percent since 1980 - a big reason why companies like ours are buying increasing amounts of wind energy,” the letter states. “Failure to extend the PTC for wind would tax our companies and thousands of others like us that purchase significant amounts renewable energy and hurt our bottom line at a time when the economy is struggling to recover.”

The companies warned Congress that “eliminating the PTC will sharply increase prices for wind energy and particularly affect the many large and influential companies that are already committed to buying and using wind energy.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...

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