Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

read me


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

current events


i'm the hiphopopotamous and the world sings the chorus
my rhyming's so erudite you'll need a thesaurus

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Current Events

thanks for the oil guys

climate change

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



Monday, September 14, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fish and Chips


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Kenyan Drought


today we learn current events.
click HERE.

On a fresh sheet of paper:

Write the
Title, Source, Author, Date.

Summarize the Material in 3-7 sentences.
"Who, What, When, Where, why"

Analyze the material in 3-7 Sentences
"Why is this material important in the world we live in?"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Biofuel Myths

"We Need to Do Everything Possible to Promote Alternative Energy."

Not exactly. It's certainly clear that fossil fuels are mangling the climate and that the status quo is unsustainable. There is now a broad scientific consensus that the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more than 25 percent by 2020 -- and more than 80 percent by 2050. Even if the planet didn't depend on it, breaking our addictions to oil and coal would also reduce global reliance on petrothugs and vulnerability to energy-price spikes.




More... But though the world should do everything sensible to promote alternative energy, there's no point trying to do everything possible. There are financial, political, and technical pressures as well as time constraints that will force tough choices; solutions will need to achieve the biggest emissions reductions for the least money in the shortest time. Hydrogen cars, cold fusion, and other speculative technologies might sound cool, but they could divert valuable resources from ideas that are already achievable and cost-effective. It's nice that someone managed to run his car on liposuction leftovers, but that doesn't mean he needs to be subsidized.

Reasonable people can disagree whether governments should try to pick energy winners and losers. But why not at least agree that governments shouldn't pick losers to be winners? Unfortunately, that's exactly what is happening. The world is rushing to promote alternative fuel sources that will actually accelerate global warming, not to mention an alternative power source that could cripple efforts to stop global warming.

We can still choose a truly alternative path. But we'd better hurry.

"Renewable Fuels Are the Cure for Our Addiction to Oil."

Unfortunately not. "Renewable fuels" sound great in theory, and agricultural lobbyists have persuaded European countries and the United States to enact remarkably ambitious biofuels mandates to promote farm-grown alternatives to gasoline. But so far in the real world, the cures -- mostly ethanol derived from corn in the United States or biodiesel derived from palm oil, soybeans, and rapeseed in Europe -- have been significantly worse than the disease.

Photo by Gisel Florez for FPResearchers used to agree that farm-grown fuels would cut emissions because they all made a shockingly basic error. They gave fuel crops credit for soaking up carbon while growing, but it never occurred to them that fuel crops might displace vegetation that soaked up even more carbon. It was as if they assumed that biofuels would only be grown in parking lots. Needless to say, that hasn't been the case; Indonesia, for example, destroyed so many of its lush forests and peat lands to grow palm oil for the European biodiesel market that it ranks third rather than 21st among the world's top carbon emitters.

In 2007, researchers finally began accounting for deforestation and other land-use changes created by biofuels. One study found that it would take more than 400 years of biodiesel use to "pay back" the carbon emitted by directly clearing peat for palm oil. Indirect damage can be equally devastating because on a hungry planet, food crops that get diverted to fuel usually end up getting replaced somewhere. For example, ethanol profits are prompting U.S. soybean farmers to switch to corn, so Brazilian soybean farmers are expanding into cattle pastures to pick up the slack and Brazilian ranchers are invading the Amazon rain forest, which is why another study pegged corn ethanol's payback period at 167 years. It's simple economics: The mandates increase demand for grain, which boosts prices, which makes it lucrative to ravage the wilderness.

Deforestation accounts for 20 percent of global emissions, so unless the world can eliminate emissions from all other sources -- cars, coal, factories, cows -- it needs to back off forests. That means limiting agriculture's footprint, a daunting task as the world's population grows -- and an impossible task if vast expanses of cropland are converted to grow middling amounts of fuel. Even if the United States switched its entire grain crop to ethanol, it would only replace one fifth of U.S. gasoline consumption.

This is not just a climate disaster. The grain it takes to fill an SUV tank with ethanol could feed a hungry person for a year; biofuel mandates are exerting constant upward pressure on global food prices and have contributed to food riots in dozens of poorer countries. Still, the United States has quintupled its ethanol production in a decade and plans to quintuple its biofuel production again in the next decade. This will mean more money for well-subsidized grain farmers, but also more malnutrition, more deforestation, and more emissions. European leaders have paid a bit more attention to the alarming critiques of biofuels -- including one by a British agency that was originally established to promote biofuels -- but they have shown no more inclination to throw cold water on this $100 billion global industry.

"If Today's Biofuels Aren't the Answer, Tomorrow's Biofuels Will Be."

Doubtful. The latest U.S. rules, while continuing lavish support for corn ethanol, include enormous new mandates to jump-start "second-generation" biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol derived from switchgrass. In theory, they would be less destructive than corn ethanol, which relies on tractors, petroleum-based fertilizers, and distilleries that emit way too much carbon. Even first-generation ethanol derived from sugar cane -- which already provides half of Brazil's transportation fuel -- is considerably greener than corn ethanol. But recent studies suggest that any biofuels requiring good agricultural land would still be worse than gasoline for global warming. Less of a disaster than corn ethanol is still a disaster.


Is a Green World
a Safer World?
A guide to the coming green geopolitical crises.
By David J. Rothkopf
Back in the theoretical world, biofuels derived from algae, trash, agricultural waste, or other sources could help because they require no land or at least unspecific "degraded lands," but they always seem to be "several" years away from large-scale commercial development. And some scientists remain hopeful that fast-growing perennial grasses such as miscanthus can convert sunlight into energy efficiently enough to overcome the land-use dilemmas -- someday. But for today, farmland happens to be very good at producing the food we need to feed us and storing the carbon we need to save us, and not so good at generating fuel. In fact, new studies suggest that if we really want to convert biomass into energy, we're better off turning it into electricity.

Then what should we use in our cars and trucks? In the short term … gasoline. We just need to use less of it.

Instead of counterproductive biofuel mandates and ethanol subsidies, governments need fuel-efficiency mandates to help the world's 1 billion drivers guzzle less gas, plus subsidies for mass transit, bike paths, rail lines, telecommuting, carpooling, and other activities to get those drivers out of their cars. Policymakers also need to eliminate subsidies for roads to nowhere, mandates that require excess parking and limit dense development in urban areas, and other sprawl-inducing policies. None of this is as enticing as inventing a magical new fuel, but it's doable, and it would cut emissions.

In the medium term, the world needs plug-in electric cars, the only plausible answer to humanity's oil addiction that isn't decades away. But electricity is already the source of even more emissions than oil. So we'll need an answer to humanity's coal addiction, too.

"Nuclear Power Is the Cure for Our Addiction to Coal."

Nope. Atomic energy is emissions free, so a slew of politicians and even some environmentalists have embraced it as a clean alternative to coal and natural gas that can generate power when there's no sun or wind. In the United States, which already gets nearly 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear plants, utilities are thinking about new reactors for the first time since the Three Mile Island meltdown three decades ago -- despite global concerns about nuclear proliferation, local concerns about accidents or terrorist attacks, and the lack of a disposal site for the radioactive waste. France gets nearly 80 percent of its electricity from nukes, and Russia, China, and India are now gearing up for nuclear renaissances of their own.

iStockPhoto.comBut nuclear power cannot fix the climate crisis. The first reason is timing: The West needs major cuts in emissions within a decade, and the first new U.S. reactor is only scheduled for 2017 -- unless it gets delayed, like every U.S. reactor before it. Elsewhere in the developed world, most of the talk about a nuclear revival has remained just talk; there is no Western country with more than one nuclear plant under construction, and scores of existing plants will be scheduled for decommissioning in the coming decades, so there's no way nuclear could make even a tiny dent in electricity emissions before 2020.

The bigger problem is cost. Nuke plants are supposed to be expensive to build but cheap to operate. Unfortunately, they're turning out to be really, really expensive to build; their cost estimates have quadrupled in less than a decade. Energy guru Amory Lovins has calculated that new nukes will cost nearly three times as much as wind -- and that was before their construction costs exploded for a variety of reasons, including the global credit crunch, the atrophying of the nuclear labor force, and a supplier squeeze symbolized by a Japanese company's worldwide monopoly on steel-forging for reactors. A new reactor in Finland that was supposed to showcase the global renaissance is already way behind schedule and way, way over budget. This is why plans for new plants were recently shelved in Canada and several U.S. states, why Moody's just warned utilities they'll risk ratings downgrades if they seek new reactors, and why renewables attracted $71 billion in worldwide private capital in 2007 -- while nukes attracted zero.

It's also why U.S. nuclear utilities are turning to politicians to supplement their existing loan guarantees, tax breaks, direct subsidies, and other cradle-to-grave government goodies with new public largesse. Reactors don't make much sense to build unless someone else is paying; that's why the strongest push for nukes is coming from countries where power is publicly funded. For all the talk of sanctions, if the world really wants to cripple the Iranian economy, maybe the mullahs should just be allowed to pursue nuclear energy.

Unlike biofuels, nukes don't worsen warming. But a nuclear expansion -- like the recent plan by U.S. Republicans who want 100 new plants by 2030 -- would cost trillions of dollars for relatively modest gains in the relatively distant future.

Nuclear lobbyists do have one powerful argument: If coal is too dirty and nukes are too costly, how are we going to produce our juice? Wind is terrific, and it's on the rise, adding nearly half of new U.S. power last year and expanding its global capacity by a third in 2007. But after increasing its worldwide wattage tenfold in a decade -- China is now the leading producer, and Europe is embracing wind as well -- it still produces less than 2 percent of the world's electricity. Solar and geothermal are similarly wonderful and inexhaustible technologies, but they're still global rounding errors. The average U.S. household now has 26 plug-in devices, and the rest of the world is racing to catch up; the U.S. Department of Energy expects global electricity consumption to rise 77 percent by 2030. How can we meet that demand without a massive nuclear revival?

We can't. So we're going to have to prove the Department of Energy wrong.

"There Is No Silver Bullet to the Energy Crisis."

Probably not. But some bullets are a lot better than others; we ought to give them our best shot before we commit to evidently inferior bullets. And one renewable energy resource is the cleanest, cheapest, and most abundant of them all. It doesn't induce deforestation or require elaborate security. It doesn't depend on the weather. And it won't take years to build or bring to market; it's already universally available.

iStockPhoto.comIt's called "efficiency." It means wasting less energy -- or more precisely, using less energy to get your beer just as cold, your shower just as hot, and your factory just as productive. It's not about some austerity scold harassing you to take cooler showers, turn off lights, turn down thermostats, drive less, fly less, buy less stuff, eat less meat, ditch your McMansion, and otherwise change your behavior to save energy. Doing less with less is called conservation. Efficiency is about doing more or the same with less; it doesn't require much effort or sacrifice. Yet more efficient appliances, lighting, factories, and buildings, as well as vehicles, could wipe out one fifth to one third of the world's energy consumption without any real deprivation.

Efficiency isn't sexy, and the idea that we could use less energy without much trouble hangs uneasily with today's more-is-better culture. But the best way to ensure new power plants don't bankrupt us, empower petrodictators, or imperil the planet is not to build them in the first place. "Negawatts" saved by efficiency initiatives generally cost 1 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour versus projections ranging from 12 to 30 cents per kilowatt-hour from new nukes. That's because Americans in particular and human beings in general waste amazing amounts of energy. U.S. electricity plants fritter away enough to power Japan, and American water heaters, industrial motors, and buildings are as ridiculously inefficient as American cars. Only 4 percent of the energy used to power a typical incandescent bulb produces light; the rest is wasted. China is expected to build more square feet of real estate in the next 15 years than the United States has built in its entire history, and it has no green building codes or green building experience.

But we already know that efficiency mandates can work wonders because they've already reduced U.S. energy consumption levels from astronomical to merely high. For example, thanks to federal rules, modern American refrigerators use three times less energy than 1970s models, even though they're larger and more high-tech.

The biggest obstacles to efficiency are the perverse incentives that face most utilities; they make more money when they sell more power and have to build new generating plants. But in California and the Pacific Northwest, utility profits have been decoupled from electricity sales, so utilities can help customers save energy without harming shareholders. As a result, in that part of the country, per capita power use has been flat for three decades -- while skyrocketing 50 percent in the rest of the United States. If utilities around the world could make money by helping their customers use less power, the U.S. Department of Energy wouldn't be releasing such scary numbers.

"We Need a Technological Revolution to Save the World."

Maybe. In the long term, it's hard to imagine how (without major advances) we can reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050 while the global population increases and the developing world develops. So a clean-tech Apollo program modeled on the Manhattan Project makes sense. And we do need carbon pricing to send a message to market makers and innovators to promote low-carbon activities; Europe's cap-and-trade scheme seems to be working well after a rocky start. The private capital already pouring into renewables might someday produce a cheap solar panel or a synthetic fuel or a superpowerful battery or a truly clean coal plant. At some point, after we've milked efficiency for all the negawatts and negabarrels we can, we might need something new.

Don Farrall/Getty ImagesBut we already have all the technology we need to start reducing emissions by reducing consumption. Even if we only hold electricity demand flat, we can subtract a coal-fired megawatt every time we add a wind-powered megawatt. And with a smarter grid, green building codes, and strict efficiency standards for everything from light bulbs to plasma TVs to server farms, we can do better than flat. Al Gore has a reasonably plausible plan for zero-emissions power by 2020; he envisions an ambitious 28 percent decrease in demand through efficiency, plus some ambitious increases in supply from wind, solar, and geothermal energy. But we don't even have to reduce our fossil fuel use to zero to reach our 2020 targets. We just have to use less.

If somebody comes up with a better idea by 2020, great! For now, we should focus on the solutions that get the best emissions bang for the buck.

"Ultimately, We'll Need to Change Our Behaviors to Save the World."

Probably. These days, it's politically incorrect to suggest that going green will require even the slightest adjustment to our way of life, but let's face it: Jimmy Carter was right. It wouldn't kill you to turn down the heat and put on a sweater. Efficiency is a miracle drug, but conservation is even better; a Prius saves gas, but a Prius sitting in the driveway while you ride your bike uses no gas. Even energy-efficient dryers use more power than clotheslines.


Oil: The Long Goodbye
An FP Special Report
More with less will be a great start, but to get to 80 percent less emissions, the developed world might occasionally have to do less with less. We might have to unplug a few digital picture frames, substitute teleconferencing for some business travel, and take it easy on the air conditioner. If that's an inconvenient truth, well, it's less inconvenient than trillions of dollars' worth of new reactors, perpetual dependence on hostile petrostates, or a fricasseed planet.

After all, the developing world is entitled to develop. Its people are understandably eager to eat more meat, drive more cars, and live in nicer houses. It doesn't seem fair for the developed world to say: Do as we say, not as we did. But if the developing world follows the developed world's wasteful path to prosperity, the Earth we all share won't be able to accommodate us. So we're going to have to change our ways. Then we can at least say: Do as we're doing, not as we did.

Health Care Myths.

The Most Outrageous U.S. Lies About Global Healthcare
As the U.S. Congress this summer holds its first serious health-care reform debate since the Clinton era, the resulting public furor has featured increasingly overheated claims about everything from so-called "death panels" to the supposed prowess of America's homegrown medicine. Many of the most wildly inaccurate statements have been directed abroad -- sometimes at the United States' closest allies, such as Britain and Canada, and often at the best health-care systems in the world.

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty ImagesThe lie: Stephen Hawking (who has Lou Gehrig's disease) and U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (who has brain cancer) would not receive treatment in Britain, which has a government-run health-care system.

The liars: An editorial in Investor's Business Daily on July 31 claimed: "People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service [NHS] would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa -- the senior-most Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which must approve health-care bills -- said Aug. 5 during a radio interview with Iowa City's KCJJ, "Ted Kennedy -- with a brain tumor, being 77 years old as opposed to being 37 years old -- if he were in England, would not be treated for his disease because ... when you get to be 77, your life is considered less valuable under those systems."

The debunking: In both cases, this is nonsense.

Hawking, who is British, receives intensive treatment for his degenerative motor neuron disease at a local Cambridge hospital. Upon hearing the rumors of his non-treatment, the prizewinning theoretical physicist told The Guardian, "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived."

In Kennedy's case, it is true that Britain assesses the cost-effectiveness of procedures and medicines before deciding whether to prescribe them. And the NHS does deny some procedures and drugs based on considerations such as the severity of a patient's sickness, the cost of treatment, and the quality of life afforded. But doctors and NHS officials have stressed that Britons with Kennedy's condition, regardless of age, would receive aggressive treatment, including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.

The chief executive of Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which determines the rationing system, told The Guardian, "It is neither true nor is it anything you could extrapolate from anything we've ever recommended" that Kennedy would be denied treatment by the NHS.

Thus far, neither Kennedy nor Grassley have commented since Grassley's initial remark.


Flickr user no22a The lie: Canada's government-run health care is so bad that needy patients need to pay for care in the United States.

The liars: The advocacy group Patients United Now is running a television ad featuring Ontario resident Shona Holmes, who claims, "I survived a brain tumor, but if I had relied on my government health care, I'd be dead." She says she traveled to the United States for lifesaving treatment.

In June, Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said, "For cardiac bypass surgery, patients in Ontario are told they may have to wait six months for a surgery that Americans can often get right away."

The debunking: Holmes did indeed pay $100,000 for care she received from Minnesota's famed Mayo Clinic, considered one of the best medical centers in the world.

But Holmes' treatment was not a lifesaving anti-cancer measure. The Mayo Clinic's own Web site explains that she had a cyst -- not a brain tumor -- which was not necessarily life-threatening. (It also explains that Mayo is a nonprofit cooperative and strongly supports health-care reform.)

In general, Canadians are not flocking south for health care, and for good reason. According to a report from the Fraser Institute, a prominent Canadian think tank, both the Canadian and U.S. governments spend about 7 percent of their GDPs on health-care costs. (The United States, including private expenditure, spends about 16 percent of GDP on health care.) But all Canadians are covered for all medical care, plus some prescription drug costs. In the United States, 47 million are uninsured, and hundreds of thousands declare bankruptcy every year due to medical bills.

There are wait times in Canada, but nobody waits for emergency surgery; McConnell's claim about bypass patients is untrue. In 2007, a non-emergency patient in Ontario waited about 61 days for elective bypass surgery, according to Canada's health service. Such collected data is not made public in the United States.


Alex Wong/Getty ImagesThe lie: European countries all have long-standing single-payer systems -- which is why their health-care systems work.

The liar: Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, recently said, "The Europeans all have single-payer [systems] because essentially their health-care systems were destroyed during World War II. And they went to a single payer ... and then it turned out they loved it and didn't want to get away from it afterwards."

The debunking: This is an overgeneralization.

Europe has a broad range of health-care systems and health insurance plans; not all European countries are single-payer. It's an amorphous term, but usually denotes a system in which the government pays the medical bills, but doctors and hospitals are private, such as in Canada, France, and Germany. (In socialized systems, such as Britain's NHS or the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department, the government pays the doctors and owns the hospitals.)

Rather than a single post-World War II wave of health-care reform, numerous European countries have experimented to find systems that work. For instance, both Switzerland (in 1994) and the Netherlands (in 2006) moved to models the United States is now considering. Hospitals, doctors, and insurers are for-profit and private. But the systems are highly regulated, and insurance is mandatory and government-subsidized.


The lie: In Canada and Britain, individuals lose the right to make their own health-care choices.

The liars: The advocacy group Club for Growth and the Republican National Committee (RNC)

The debunking: Both the RNC and the conservative Club for Growth have warned that a government takeover of health care would put a bureaucrat in between patient and doctor -- as in Britain and Canada.

The latter group's ad ominously announces: "$22,750. In England, government officials decided that's how much six months of life is worth. Under their socialized system, if a medical treatment costs more, you're out of luck."

This is not true. Patients in Canada and Britain retain autonomy to help decide upon their courses of treatment and to choose their own doctors.

In England, the $22,750 figure represents not what "six months of life is worth," but the price at which the NICE determines a single drug is not cost-effective. Exceptions to the ceiling are permitted in some cases; and Britons retain the option to pay for private care. (In which case, rationing occurs as it does in the United States: Those with ability to pay do so.) The system is designed to prevent one of the key reasons for high health costs in the United States: With limited medical knowledge, patients assume the most expensive option is the best.

A NICE representative told The Guardian the ad is "a gross misrepresentation of how [the agency] applies health economics to try and address the central issue: how to allocate health care rationally within the context of limited health-care resources."


John Moore/Getty ImagesThe lie: The United States has the best health care in the world.

The liars: A slew of U.S. presidents, politicians, journalists, commentators, and everyday citizens

The debunking: There is one yardstick by which U.S. health care distinguishes itself: cost. The United States spends more -- in total dollars, percentage of GDP, and per capita -- than every other country on Earth.

On virtually every other broad metric, the claim that U.S. health care stands for global excellence is demonstrably false. The United States doesn't take a top spot in either the World Health Organization or nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund rankings. The American health-care system is not best in terms of coverage, access, patient safety, efficiency, or cost-effectiveness. It does not produce the best outcomes for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, or diabetes; for the elderly, the middle-aged, or the young; or in terms of life expectancy, rates of chronic diseases, or obesity.

Which countries do come out on top? Often -- France, Switzerland, Britain, Canada, and Japan. On the World Health Organization's list, the United States comes out 37th.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009


How does this relate to full faith and credit?

China and the economy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wednesday CE

The Dalai Lama on China

This life would not be cool.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

news of the day.

How's the economy?

Schools might change.

Monday, March 9, 2009

News you can use.

An Article on Stem Cells

Life in China for protesters

More issues from torturing of prisoners.

What Genocide?