Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category
East Coast residents were buzzing on social media sites and elsewhere Friday night after a brief but bright flash of light streaked across the early-evening sky –in what experts say was almost certainly a meteor coming down.
Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environmental Office said the flash appears to be “a single meteor event.” He said it “looks to be a fireball that moved roughly toward the southeast, going on visual reports.”
“Judging from the brightness, we’re dealing with something as bright as the full moon,” Cooke said. “The thing is probably a yard across. We basically have (had) a boulder enter the atmosphere over the northeast.”He noted that the meteor was widely seen, with more than 350 reports on the website of the American Meteor Society alone.
“If you have something this bright carry over that heavily populated area, a lot of people are going to see it,” he said. “It occurred around 8 tonight, there were a lot of people out, and you’ve got all those big cities out there.”
Matt Moore, a news editor with The Associated Press, said he was standing in line for a concert in downtown Philadelphia around dusk when he saw “a brilliant flash moving across the sky at a very brisk pace… and utterly silent.”
“It was clearly high up in the atmosphere,” he said. “But from the way it appeared, it looked like a plane preparing to land at the airport.”
Moore said the flash was visible to him for about two to three seconds — and then it was gone. He described it as having a “spherical shape and yellowish and you could tell it was burning, with the trail that it left behind.”
“Set as it was against a cloudless sky over Philadelphia, it was amazing,” he said.
Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, agreed that the sightings had all the hallmarks of a “fireball.” These include lasting 7-10 seconds, being bright and colorful, and seeming to cross much of the sky with a long stream behind it.
He said what people likely saw was one meteor — or “space rock” — that may have been the size of a softball or volleyball and that fell fairly far down into the Earth’s atmosphere.
He likened it to a stone skipping across the water — getting “a nice long burn out of it.”
Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society told USA Today “it basically looked like a super bright shooting star.”
The newspaper reports that the sky flash was spotted as far south as Florida and as far north as New England.
Pitts said meteors of varying sizes fall from the sky all the time, but that this one caught more eyes because it happened on a Friday evening — and because Twitter has provided a way for people to share information on sightings.
He said experts “can’t be 100 percent certain of what it was, unless it actually fell to the ground and we could actually track the trajectory.” But he said the descriptions by so many people are “absolutely consistent” with those of a meteor.
When Solyndra went bankrupt and cost taxpayers up to $530 million, the Obama administration’s green energy loan program was subjected to congressional hearings and became an election-year issue. Now, another solar panel company may be headed for a similar fate.
SoloPower, which makes thin-film solar panels at a new plant in Portland, Ore., opened Sept. 27 with an upbeat ribbon-cutting ceremony. Local and state politicians gushed about the company eventually operating four production lines and creating 450 well-paid green jobs.
Just a few months later, those predictions, and SoloPower’s future, are on shaky ground.
The first production line was never completed. In January, the company had a round of layoffs. SoloPower won’t say how many of its 60 employees received pink slips.
A management shakeup soon followed — gone are the chief executive, president and chief technology officer. The company is now trying to raise money by selling some of its equipment through a third party and is attempting to restructure its $197 million federal loan guarantee.
Many are not surprised.
“What we’re seeing in Oregon, what we’re seeing in California and what we’re seeing in Washington, D.C., is eventually the money runs out, and these programs go with them,” said Todd Myers, author of “Eco-Fads: How the Rise of Trendy Environmentalism is Harming the Environment.”
Despite the warning signs, the state of Oregon is continuing to put taxpayer money at risk. In December, the agency Business Oregon issued SoloPower a $20 million tax credit. The company sold the tax credit for $13.5 million in cash.
In order to secure the money, SoloPower had to employ 39 people and convince bureaucrats that it would still be in business in five years. The state is not giving up hope.
“This company’s still in operation,” said Nathan Buehler of Business Oregon, “and we’re certainly paying attention, and we’re looking forward to seeing what they do in the coming years.”
Solar industry analysts are not optimistic. The same economic factors that took down Solyndra and a host of other U.S. solar companies still exist. A glut of cheap solar panels on the worldwide market has driven prices so low, U.S. companies with their higher production costs can’t compete.
The former mayor of Portland seems to suggest the answer is more help from U.S. taxpayers.
“They survive by downscaling and being responsible with the resources they have,” said Sam Adams, “by reducing costs and being able to wait out, hopefully, until Congress passes new energy tax credits.”
The city of Portland issued SoloPower a $5 million loan along with other tax incentives. All told, the state and local investment is $58 million.
But some Oregonians are not amused. Richard Leonetti of the Oregon Tax Foundation said politicians are proving to be lousy venture capitalists with this and other green energy subsidies.
“The state is short of money for schools,” said Leonetti. “This is the same pot of gold, and it’s being put down this sinkhole. Not just this company — there are others that have gotten these credits.”
Business Oregon maintains the program is working, citing the creation of 1,300 direct jobs and 3,000 indirect jobs created in the past six years at the four solar companies that received loans and tax credits. Officials say those jobs have generated $28 million in tax revenue and $787 million in total labor income.
Todd Myers remains skeptical.
“If you don’t get money from the government, the policies simply don’t work,” he said. “Only with government favoritism, taxpayer bailouts and those sorts of things can these things work.”
The biggest pot of taxpayer money is apparently still just out of reach for SoloPower. A spokesman for the Department of Energy confirmed the company has not met the benchmarks required to draw on its $197 million federal loan guarantee.
But the DOE would not say what the benchmarks are or if the feds will lower the bar in order to help the company survive.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/03/20/taxpayer-backed-solar-firm-faces-layoffs-shakeup-amid-calls-for-more-government/?intcmp=trending#ixzz2OHEZewG1
The port of Norfolk, Virginia, seen here in 1970, is the largest U.S. facility for exporting coal. It saw a surge of activity last year as U.S. coal exports increased 17 percent to set a new record.
Thomas K. Grose For National Geographic News
Published March 15, 2013
Ready for some good news about the environment? Emissions of carbon dioxide in the United States are declining. But don’t celebrate just yet. A major side effect of that cleaner air in the U.S. has been the further darkening of skies over Europe and Asia.
The United States essentially is exporting a share of its greenhouse gas emissions in the form of coal, data show. If the trend continues, the dramatic changes in energy use in the United States—in particular, the switch from coal to newly abundant natural gas for generating electricity—will have only a modest impact on global warming, observers warn. The Earth’s atmosphere will continue to absorb heat-trapping CO2, with a similar contribution from U.S. coal. It will simply be burned overseas instead of at home.
“Switching from coal to gas only saves carbon if the coal stays in the ground,” said John Broderick, lead author of a study on the issue by the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at England’s Manchester University. (Related Quiz: “What You Don’t Know About Electricity”)
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released data this week showing that United States coal exports hit a record 126 million short tons in 2012, a 17 percent increase over the previous year. Overseas shipments surpassed the previous high mark set in 1981 by 12 percent. The United States clearly is using less coal: Domestic consumption fell by about 114 million tons, or 11 percent, largely due to a decline in the use of coal for electricity. But U.S. coal production fell just 7 percent. The United States, with the world’s largest coal reserves, continued to churn out the most carbon-intensive fuel, producing 1 billion tons of coal from its mines in 2012.
The EIA estimates that due largely to the drop in coal-fired electricity, U.S. carbon emissions from burning fossil fuel declined 3.4 percent in 2012. If the numbers hold up, it will extend the downward trend that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlined last month in its annual greenhouse gas inventory, which found greenhouse gas emissions in 2011 had fallen 8 percent from their 2007 peak to 6,703 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (a number that includes sources other than energy, like methane emissions from agriculture). In fact, if you don’t count the recession year of 2009, U.S. emissions in 2011 dropped to their lowest level since 1995.
President Barack Obama counted the trend among his environmental accomplishments in his State of the Union address last month: “Over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.”
The reason is clear: Coal, which in 2005 generated 50 percent of U.S. electricity, saw its share erode to 37.4 percent in 2012, according to EIA’s new short-term energy outlook. An increase in U.S. renewable energy certainly played a role; renewables climbed in those seven years from 8.7 percent to 13 percent of the energy mix, about half of it hydropower. But the big gain came from natural gas, which climbed from 19 percent to 30.4 percent of U.S. electricity during that time frame, primarily because of abundant supply and low prices made possible by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. (Related: “Natural Gas Stirs Hope and Fear in Pennsylvania” and interactive, “Breaking Fuel From the Rock”)
The trend appears on track to continue, with U.S. coal-fired plants being retired at a record pace.
But U.S. coal producers haven’t been standing still as their domestic market has evaporated. They’ve been shipping their fuel to energy-hungry markets overseas, from the ports of Norfolk, Baltimore, and New Orleans. Although demand is growing rapidly in Asia—U.S. coal exports to China were on track to double last year—Europe was the biggest customer, importing more U.S. coal last year than all other countries combined. The Netherlands, with Europe’s largest port, Rotterdam, accepted the most shipments, on pace for a 24 jump in U.S. coal imports in 2012. The United Kingdom, the second largest customer, saw its U.S. coal imports jump more than 70 percent. (Related: “Natural Gas A Weak Weapon Against Climate Change, Study Says”)
The hike in European coal consumption would appear to run counter to big government initiatives across the Continent to cut CO2 emissions. But in the European Union, where fracking has made only its initial forays and natural gas is still expensive, American coal is, well, dirt cheap. (Related: “U.K. Dash for Gas a Test for Global Fracking”)
European utilities are now finding that generating power from coal is a profitable gambit. In the power industry, the profit margin for generating electricity from coal is called the “clean dark spread”; at the end of December in Great Britain, it was going for about $39 per megawatt-hour, according to Argus. By contrast, the profit margin for gas-fired plants—the “clean spark spread”—was about $3. Tomas Wyns, director of the Center for Clean Air Policy-Europe, a nonprofit organization in Brussels, Belgium, said those kinds of spreads are typical across Europe right now.
The EU has a cap-and-trade carbon market, the $148 billion, eight-year-old Emissions Trading System (ETS). But it’s in the doldrums because of a huge oversupply of permits. That’s caused the price of carbon to fall to about 4 euros ($5.23). A plan called “backloading” that would temporarily extract allowances from the market to shore up the price has faltered so far in the European Parliament. “A better carbon price could make a difference” and even out the coal and gas spreads, Wyns said. He estimates a price of between 20 and 40 euros would do the trick. “But a structural change to the Emissions Trading System is not something that will happen very quickly. A solution is years off.”
The Tyndall Center study estimates that the burning of all that exported coal could erase fully half the gains the United States has made in reducing carbon emissions. For huge reserves of shale gas to help cut CO2 emissions, “displaced fuels must be reduced globally and remain suppressed indefinitely,” the report said. (Related Quiz: “What You Don’t Know About Natural Gas”)
It is not clear that the surge in U.S. coal exports will continue. One reason for the uptick in coal-fired generation in Europe has been the looming deadline for the EU’s Large Combustion Plant Directive, which will require older coal plants to meet lower emission levels by the end of 2015 or be mothballed. Before that phaseout begins, Wyns says, “there is a bit of a binge going on.”
Also, economic factors are at work. Tyndall’s Broderick said American coal companies have been essentially selling surplus fuel overseas at low profit margins, so there is a likelihood that U.S. coal production will decrease further. The U.S. government forecasters at EIA expect that U.S. coal exports will fall back to about 110 million tons per year over the next two years, due to economic weakness in Europe, falling international prices, and competition from other coal-exporting countries. The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) calls Europe’s “coal renaissance” a temporary phenomenon; it forecasts an increasing use of renewables, shuttering of coal plants, and a better balance between gas and coal prices in the coming years.
But IEA does not expect that the global appetite for coal will slacken appreciably. The agency projects that, by 2017, coal will rival oil as the world’s primary energy source, mainly because of skyrocketing demand in Asia. (Related: “Pictures: A Rare Look Inside China’s Energy Machine”)
U.S. coal producers have made clear that they aim to tap into that growing market.
Currently, U.S. exports to Asia are somewhat constrained because there is little port capacity for big coal ships on the U.S. West Coast, and because metallurgical coal, the high-heat content rock that is used for steelmaking, is mined exclusively on the U.S. East Coast. Nevertheless, demand for U.S. “met” coal is so great in Asia that the shipments make a round-the-world journey from Appalachia. They are sent by train to the port of Baltimore, where they steam to sea through the Chesapeake Bay, then south across the Atlantic Ocean and around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope to reach Asian ports.
Whether U.S. exports to Asia expand will depend largely on the fate of controversial proposals to expand port capacity in Bellingham and Longview, Washington, and Corpus Christi, Texas. (Related: “Seeking a Pacific Northwest Gateway for U.S. Coal” ) Those new ports would allow easier transport of the abundant coal of the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana, which is especially well suited for generating electricity. Powder River Basin coal is prized because it is low in sulfur and can cut acid rain emissions, but as with all coal, carbon dioxide emissions remain a major problem.
John Eaves, chief executive officer of St. Louis, Missouri-based Arch Coal, which saw the bulk of its exports last year go to South Korea, told investors last month that the company would be proactive in working to gain greater port capacity. Despite the low price currently fetched for coal overseas, Eaves said the company expects the international market to improve even as domestic demand for coal recedes. “As we look to the U.S. over the next three to five years, let’s face it, demand’s going to be pretty flat,” he said. “We see exports as a long-term development opportunity.” (Related Interactive: “World Electricity Mix”)
This story is part of a special series that explores energy issues. For more, visit The Great Energy Challenge.
The Progressives in both parties may be the establishment now but they have always been and continue to be revolutionaries seeking to turn the American dream into a socialist nightmare.
Since the 1890s the Progressives have worked to change our American Experiment from a federal republic operating on democratic principles that recognized our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness into a democracy where the government grants rights and pursues its own happiness.
Inch by inch, step by step they have worked to change one aspect and then another until today the cacophony of minute changes has become a centrally-planned federally orchestrated symphony playing Hail to the Chief.
We have transitioned from federal republic into an imperial bureaucracy controlled by a Chicago raised Alinsky style outfit determined to reduce us to abject obedience. This is the direct result of an education system captured by the Progressives delivering generations of uninformed voters and of the entitlement society delivering a near majority of citizens who get more than they give from the federal trough.
This should be no surprise to anyone. A country once famous for the political engagement of its citizens has raised generations on the dictum that neither religion nor politics were the subject of polite debate. The culture of media-hyped sports addiction and hedonistic indulgence has produced millions who know more about their favorite team or about the latest fashion than about their own government.
I don’t know about you but I’m so tired of being lectured by people who get their news from Leno, Colbert, or the Daily Show that I have all but stopped speaking of anything of substance with most people. We have all developed ways to identify fellow patriots. We listen for anyone to say anything that will give us an indication that here is another American who realizes where we are and from where we have fallen. Then we have great conversations, comparing observations and trying to encourage each other that the United States as we have known it will survive four more years of America’s Chavez.
Often I wonder, are we just singing to the choir, lighting a candle in the dark, or sticking our thumb in the dyke? Will our clandestine discussions on the fringes of a complacent society make any difference? Or are we merely whistling in the wind as our beloved country changes forever into the dead letters of a living constitution?
We have to admit that the Progressives have out maneuvered and out organized those dedicated to limited government. They have turned the world upside down. They captured the Corporations Once Known as the Main Stream Media turning them into a propaganda arm dedicated to suppressing the truth and giving the government party all the cover they need to do anything they want. They radically empowered the federal bureaucracy ceding it powers granted to Congress to set policy and make law. This red-tape machine has grown to become the largest organization in the world. It is ever-expanding and filled with career people dedicated to enlarging their private kingdoms and increasing the power of the nomenclature at the expense of the people.
The courts have been packed, the banks have been bought off, and the unions use legally mandated dues to support candidates and policies their unwilling members don’t want. Check and check-mate. The situation has become so dire and the hour so late that it appears the only line of defense we have left between the USA and the USSA is a House of Representatives controlled by Progressive Republicans.
These Progressive Republicans want the same things as their Democrat counterparts: bigger government and more power even if they may want to drive us to the poor house a little slower.
There are a few younger ones who have been elected by the Tea Party such as Rand, Lee, and Cruz who are trying to make a difference. At every step the Progressive establishment in their own party tries to ridicule them into toeing the party line of compromise and surrender. The old bulls talk conservative to get elected then join hands across the aisles in a marriage of despotism with deceit.
The further we get from the puzzle factory in Washington one would think the closer we would get to our American heritage of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. However, the same uninformed disengaged voters form the majority all the way down to the precinct level. The community organizers have done their jobs very well. Try to name a state that isn’t in debt. Try to name a county that isn’t working to install Agenda 21, promote sustainability or cram its Master Plan down the throat of an unsuspecting public. Try to name a city, town, or village that doesn’t have its good old boy network that manages to stay in power year after year.
Several years ago after an unsuccessful attempt to unseat an entrenched state senator from a gerrymandered district my wife and I decided to become involved on the local level to try and make a difference. We spent several years battling Agenda 21 while watching the good old boys win by hook or by crook either ignoring or fooling the voters. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Chicago and was raised on the milk of “You can’t fight City Hall?” Maybe it’s because I have seen bribes work and honest petitions fall on deaf ears? Maybe I’m just a cynic at heart? Maybe it’s true that a pessimist is what an optimist calls a realist?
Although we shall not go gently into that good night it appears we are in the twilight of our Republic and about to enter the sunset of liberty and the dawn of an America with a living constitution, a herd mentality, and a cradle-to-grave welfare state. If the bell has not tolled yet it is about to. Even if the Obama Zombies don’t flock to the polls as directed and return Nancy Polosi as Speaker of the House so that a one party state can drive the final nail in Columbia’s coffin, the swelling debt will eventually bring collapse. This is of course the end result of the Progressive’s long march towards the realization of the Cloward-Piven Strategy for forcing political change through orchestrated crisis. After the collapse these social planners believe they can impose any type of system they want on a public clamoring for relief.
Ready or not here it comes………………………..
So what can we do now that it has been done?
First of all we have to educate ourselves about American History and the principles of limited government. Principles which formed the cornerstone for our two century experiment with personal liberty, individual freedom, and economic opportunity so that we can educate future generations about who we were and what we hope someday to be once again. We can’t teach what we don’t know.
Then we have to build a library of books and DVD’s that tell the story of America. For books look for reading lists at Tea Party sites, also check out conservative media people such as Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck for suggested readings. For DVD’s the History Channel has produced many great series on such things as the Revolution, the Constitution, the Founders, etc. Individually or in local groups create an asset that our people can use to immerse themselves in the heritage of freedom.
Finally we need to stay engaged in the political process. Become involved with likeminded people and figure out what, where, and when is the best place for you to spend our political capital. None of us is as smart as all of us so if we all look for the way back to limited government eventually a spark will be ignited that will burn with the intensity of a thousand suns and a new chapter in freedom will begin.
Until that time do what you can do. It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.
Keep the faith. Keep the peace. We shall overcome.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2013 Robert R. Owens email@example.com Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens
Conservative Refocus Editorial
By Barry Secrest
The Conservatives in the Republican Party now appear to be separating themselves from the gang of worthlessly appeasing moderates who, in essence, have no earthly idea as to why they were actually elected as an opposing party, in the first place.
When Senator Rand Paul stood and delivered a 13 hour filibuster articulating precisely why killing American citizens without due process was clearly wrong and against the principles of the United States of America, the partisan divide that acted much like an ideological Berlin Wall, was at least temporarily melted away.
Liberals, Democrats, Libertarians , Independents and Conservatives had finally found something in which they could all agree.
But even better than that? America finally got to see only one of many core principles that sets the Tea Party Conservatives apart, from virtually any other political grouping. The fact that Rand Paul’s filibuster, as being set against a hellbent administration bound to have its authoritarian way no matter what, ultimately brought attention to bear on issues which the Media at large has ignored for over four long years now, was lost on none who have been sounding the alarms for what seems an eternity.
That same administration, in fact, was finally forced to accede defeat and clearly enunciate that drone strikes on Americans were not constitutional, and all because of one man’s courage and defiance against those in power.
Additionally, there are those usual suspects in the Republican Party who merely blow with the congressional winds. They of the lukewarm sect who seem more interested in defending the military-industrial complex, than actually promoting Liberty and Freedom and rights which are at the very core of ideals that our military is constitutionally sworn to protect.
My, how far we have fallen, and yet there always appears to be one who is willing to lead the way back to our core principles. Principles that guarantees individual rights “penultimate” as starkly opposed to the pandering of group rights and Alinksy-style mob rule, which has been the rule for far too long.
Our thoughts, Thanks and prayers go out to Sen. Paul Rand , Sen. Ted Cruz, and all of the others who showed support to Paul in beginning the job that so terribly needs to be done,and in earnest.
The People’s true resurgence, it would appear, is now Paul’s to lead. From Obama, as a leader full of promises unrealized, to Paul, a promising Leader finally realized.
Islam, the supposed religion of peace, has developed a hair trigger when it comes to the slightest hint of blasphemy against their prophet Muhammad. It doesn’t matter if the claims of blasphemy are true or not, as just the suggestion that someone said anything negative about Muhammad is enough to insight a violent reaction. One is guilty until proven innocent, and in most cases that is too late to save the accused.
Case in point is what just took place in Lahore, Pakistan where it was reported that a sanitation worker in the Christian conclave known as Joseph Colony, blasphemed Muhammad. The sanitation worker, a Christian named Sawan Masih was involved in an argument with a Muslim barber named Shahid Imran, last Wednesday evening. Thursday morning, Imran accused Masih of blasphemy. Once the word got out, many of the Christians began leaving their homes for fear of Muslim retaliation.
On Friday, local police began the process of filing charges against Masih. Saturday morning saw several thousand local Muslims armed with guns and batons heading for Joseph Colony. They ransacked and vandalized the homes, businesses and churches of the Christians. A number of buildings were set on fire and when all was done and the last fires put out, the angry Muslim crowd had burned down 178 homes, 18 businesses and 2 churches.
Now keep in mind that the formal charges against Masih had not actually been filed, which also means that there had not been any trial to convict him. And these are the Muslims who are immigrating to the US and telling us that they are a peaceful religion and that they will not interfere with our way of life. If you believe that, I’ve got some property on the Moon I’ll sell you.
Muslims are so intolerant of others that they don’t wait to see if the accusations against someone are true or not. They react without knowing the facts and in many cases, they don’t just take their anger out on the accused, but also on those around him.
Islam is nothing like what America was founded upon. Our Founding Fathers believed it was critically important to treat someone as being innocent until being found guilty. Muslims don’t care about justice. They are hot headed reactionaries that have no place in American culture or society.
Read more: http://politicaloutcast.com/2013/03/muslims-burn-over-150-christian-homes-and-2-churches/#ixzz2NG0ddncK