Sunday, June 27, 2004
Barry Bearak ("Poor Man's Burden," June 27) describes Brazil's deep economic inequality, citing that 10% of the population controls 50% of the country's wealth. It is wise to recognize such disparity as sign of a serious problem. If Bearak's figures are correct, it is even worse here in the U.S., where, according to Inequality.org, only 5% of the population accounts for well over 50% of the wealth. Fully one third of the U.S.'s net worth is owned by less than 1% of the population. Where is our Lula?
On the campaign page inside is a story about Howard Dean saying that Ralph Nader is the biggest threat to John Kerry. Maybe the biggest threat, Howard, is the perception that the Democratic party is a bunch of spineless Republican wannabes. Maybe the threat is seeing your impassioned anti-war campaign in the primary, Howard, readily locked back into the closet to instead pretend Kerry is the best we can hope. Maybe if Kerry tried stealing some of Nader's issues instead of just Bush's, you wouldn't have to worry so much. In 2000, the general trend was that where Nader did well so did Gore. Which side are you on?
Meanwhile, the Canadian Conservative party is rising with a brilliant political philosophy: more military spending and lower taxes. And they might win! The only way such a ridiculous platform -- one that both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. endorse -- makes sense is that as the government's social services have to be cut off from a lack of funds, the larger and better-equipped military will be needed to keep the increasingly disenfranchised population subdued. I don't think that's how they explain it, though.
Finally, in a story about Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, a viewer is described providing one-word characterizations of the players on screen: Rumsfeld: dangerous. Ridge: idiot. Wolfowitz: traitor. Bush: clueless.
Saturday, June 26, 2004
'And it is believed the President's staff have now withdrawn from an exclusive interview which was to have been given to RTE this morning by First Lady Laura Bush.
'It is understood that both RTE and the Department of Foreign Affairs were aware of the exclusive arrangement, scheduled for 11am today. However, when RTE put Ms Coleman's name forward as interviewer, they were told Mrs Bush would no longer be available.
'The Irish Independent learned last night that the White House told Ms Coleman that she interrupted the president unnecessarily and was disrespectful.
'She also received a call from the White House in which she was admonished for her tone.
'And it emerged last night that presidential staff suggested to Ms Coleman as she went into the interview that she ask him a question on the outfit that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern wore to the G8 summit.
© Irish Independent
Friday, June 25, 2004
Monday, June 21, 2004
"The five great saints and many other leaders in the spirit world, including even communist leaders such as Marx and Lenin, who committed all manner of barbarity and murders on Earth, and dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, have found strength in my teachings, mended their ways and been reborn as new persons. Emperors, kings and presidents who enjoyed opulence and power on Earth, and even journalists who had worldwide fame, have now placed themselves at the forefront of the column of the true love revolution. ... They have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent."
Sunday, June 20, 2004
'... the House by a 229-186 vote approved a bill [see earlier post] that would ease environmental regulations for production of renewable energy, including electricity developed from wind, solar, biomass and hydropower.But in the U.K., Friends of the Earth issued a press release calling for an even more drastic stand, automatic approval of renewable energy projects:
'Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., the bill's sponsor, argued it would speed up permit approval for renewable energy facilities. But environmentalists strongly opposed the measure and maintained that it would lead to construction of dams and garbage incinerators without adequate environmental review.
'"This bill is a cynical wolf in sheep's clothing," said Andrew Fahlund of American Rivers, an environmental advocacy group.'
'In its submission to the Government's consultation on PPS22, the national planning policy statement on renewable energy, Friends of the Earth says that there must be a presumption in favour of renewable energy sources, such as wind, wave and solar power. This would mean that planning authorities could only reject applications in exceptional circumstances.'
Friday, June 18, 2004
But industrial-scale wind plants designed to supply the grid do not work well, even where the wind is superb. The grid is meant to respond to demand, constantly modulating the various suppliers to match the demand exactly. Wind plants respond only to the wind, forcing the more controllable "conventional" plants to change their output in response to wind production as well as grid demand. And the need to respond within seconds to a drop in wind production requires a plant that runs more inefficiently than one that could run if the grid didn't have to cope with the fluctuations of significant wind-powered sources. That is to say, wind farms may actually cause more fossil fuel burning.
The huge turbines designed for the grid can't work without electricity from the grid, either. They produce on average 25%-35% of what they are capable of, but they are using electricity (apparently free) 100% of the time.
And a problem about sites with good steady strong winds is that they are too windy. The turbines can't handle strong gusts and automatically shut down (typically around 55 mph). So "good" sites turn out to be very little more productive than less windy ones.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
'Diana Head, the chairwoman of the local taxpayers' association in Pringle Bay, an hour's drive east of Cape Town, told AFP that baboons broke into the local nursery school -- located in a church -- three times, using the same method. "The baboons lifted a window latch and stormed a church hall where the children were," she said. "They grabbed sandwiches and cold drinks out of the children’s hands. "The kids were traumatised afterwards. One teacher was so upset that she resigned." Head said baboons were breaking into houses about 15 times a month on average.
'"They have strong nails which they use to pull sliding doors off the hinges. When they get inside the houses they ransack the cupboard for food and have parties on the beds. "On a few occasions they have pulled clothes out of the cupboards and urinated on them."
'... Head said the problem escalated late last year when the head male in the baboon troop changed. "An alpha male who we named Charlie kept the troop under control but then he was replaced by a newcomer ..."'
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
The industrialists have successfully bought off their usual opponents, even placing themselves on the boards of environmental groups to show how much they care (not to steer decisions in their favor -- perish the thought!). In Australia, their response to the threat to the aboriginal "dreaming" is to -- hold hard, now! -- buy them off.
Nothing more than vandalism with a "green" label.
Click here for links about Australia's sacred sites.
Monday, June 14, 2004
It might have helped Bush to remember that John Kerry is against gay marriage, too. And both candidates go against the church on almost every other issue: judicial murder, shafting the poor to further enrich the robber barons, invasion of Iraq, Israel's intransigence against the Palestinians, justice around the world, and so on.
Reagan a great communicator? Geoffrey Nunberg's essay (Week in Review, June 13) compares him to several fictional characters, and indeed Reagan's rhetoric conveyed little more than his self-absorbed Hollywood version of the world. By this standard, Hitler and Mussolini were great communicators. Reagan may have been a good storyteller. Reality, however, was flagrantly missing from his speeches, and the U.S. with the rest of the world is suffering the consequences still.
Friday, June 11, 2004
"There should be no doubts when it comes to wind power."Well, sorry -- there are doubts, aren't there.
"Vermont would not have to send millions of dollars out of state to pay for power."True, the president and vice president of the East Haven project live in Vermont. Some of their investors might live here, too. That won't make giving them my money feel any better. And the major wind player in the region, Enxco, is a multinational consortium based in France. In addition, we'd still be paying for the same electricity as before, since wind's contribution would be fickle and minuscule.
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
"The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote soon on a dangerous proposal that would completely bypass all public input on energy projects affecting marine mammals, sea turtles, and migratory birds. Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) is planning to amend the federal Energy Bill to gut one of the strongest and most important public interest laws on the books -- the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) [of 1969]. NEPA mitigates the threats to wildlife and the environment by requiring careful review of major federal projects that will harm the environment.Pombo is not coy about being against environmental protections that raise the direct costs of exploiting our energy resources. He is shrewd enough to see that the environmentalist promoters of renewable energy sources, particularly wind, find themselves opposed to thorough environmental impact studies for their projects. For example, the developers of the project in East Haven, Vermont, complain about the state Agency of Natural Resources requiring a year-long study of birds at the site. They argue that whatever the localized impact on birds, the project itself -- by mitigating greenhouse and acid rain gases -- will allow more birds to live.
"But the Pombo amendment seeks to limit this review for projects involving alternative energy development.
Vermont utilities don't buy any coal-generated electricity, around 1% from oil, and around 3% from natural gas. Electricity accounts for about 1% of the state's greenhouse gas emissions. The East Haven 6-MW "demonstration" project will likely produce less than 0.2% of Vermont's electricity, so it would theoretically mitigate about 0.002% of the state's CO2 output. If all the current proposals in the state were to go forward, we would have power plants on several prominent ridges, more power lines and roads, erosion, and pollution, and birds and bats killed by the hundreds and thousands every year -- and the mitigation effect might reach 0.05%. It's no wonder that these "environmentally friendly" projects don't want serious environmental reviews.
As promoters of renewable energy, they are by definition environmentalist and good, and environmental laws are for bad guys. Pombo's seat is being challenged by a wind developer. His amendment cleverly undercuts the wind industry's sense of righteousness, forcing them to make a clear choice between their beloved profits and their claims of environmentalism.
Sunday, June 06, 2004
Like the aesthetics of the jumbo-jet sized blades on giant towers rising from formerly wild mountain ridges, "extensive" is a matter of opinion. But also like the installation of power plants on the ridges, where you ought to have a damn good reason for forcing their presence on everyone, whatever their aesthetic values, another power line is another power line. If it doesn't do any good, we shouldn't have to see it go in. In fact, the smallness of the single though long transmission line that will be needed from the East Haven project to the Burke Mountain substation is proof of the small amount of electricity expected to be generated. That line is likely to be supplying more power to the facility than it will be taking away.
Sterling spends most of his letter pointing out that the "demonstration" project is on private land, so the concerns of its impact on the Champion lands are irrelevant. I hope he is not really so unrespectful of his neighbors.
But even so -- getting back to the ice throw "myth" -- if the blades will be hurling ice far and wide, then the facility's bordering a public recreation area is indeed relevant. The following is from a letter by John Zimmerman, Enxco's area representative, sent to an American Wind Energy Association discussion list in January 2000, describing his experience at the facility in Searsburg.
... [T]he danger from ice being release from rotor blades overhead is real ... When there is heavy rime ice build up on the blades and the machines are running you instinctually want to stay away. They roar loudly and sound scarey. Probably you would feel safe within the .5 mile danger zone however.The turbines proposed for East Haven have much larger blades and are on much higher towers than the ones at Searsburg, so the danger would be even greater. This should be considered as well by all the snowmobilers that Mathew Rubin has courted by promising to open the area for them. They certainly won't be bothered by the noise, but they may take exception to large blocks of ice hurling down on them.
One time we found a piece near the base of the turbines that was pretty impressive. Three adults jumping on it couldn't break. It looked to be 5 or 6 inches thick, 3 feet wide and about 5 feet long. Probably weighed several hundred pounds. We couldn't lift it. There were a couple of other pieces nearby but we wondered where the rest of the pieces went.
In the winter, icing is a real danger and GMP therefore restricts public access to the site(s).
Sterling closes, of course, with a threat: If you oppose the East Haven project, you must be for global warming. Something like 1% of Vermont's greenhouse gas emissions comes from generating the electricity we use. In the worst electricity environment, mitigation by wind turbines is minuscule. Here, the effect on global warming would be zero. With that being the case, their installation would add to Vermont's greenhouse gas emissions.
Friday, June 04, 2004
'That's simplistic nonsense.
'... [L]et the Western Morning News stress for the umpteenth time that we are not anti–renewable energy. We do accept the need to tackle global warming. But as the newspaper which represents the people of the Westcountry, we cannot accept that the desecration which is about to be inflicted upon our lovely landscapes is justified or necessary.
'THE factual evidence from other countries of the failure of windfarms to make a really significant contribution, while damaging the local environment, is in itself sufficient reason to stop and take sensible stock.'
Who is the man when all the gallant nations run to war
Goes home to have his dinner by the very first cablecar
And as he eats his cantelope contorts himself in mirth
To read the blatant bulletins of the rulers of the earth?
It’s Mr Dooley,
The coolest chap our country ever knew
‘They are out to collar
The dime and dollar’
Says Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Since pope and priest and parson left the poor man in the lurch
And taught their flocks the only way to save all human souls
Was piercing human bodies through with dumdum bulletholes?
It’s Mr Dooley,
The mildest man our country ever knew
‘Who will release us
From jingo Jesus’
Prays Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
About the yellow peril or problem of Siam
And disbelieves that British Tar is water from life’s fount
And will not gulp the gospel of the German on the Mount?
It’s Mr Dooley,
The broadest brain our country ever knew
‘The curse of Moses
On both your houses’
Cries Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
With pages of the pandect, penal code and Doomsday Book
And wonders why bald justices are bound by law to wear
A toga and a wig made out of someone else’s hair?
It’s Mr Dooley,
The finest fool our country ever knew
‘They took that toilette
From Pontius Pilate’
Thinks Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Before he pays the income tax or license for a dog
And when he licks a postage stamp regards with smiling scorn
The face of king or emperor or snout of unicorn?
It’s Mr Dooley,
The wildest wag our country ever knew
‘O my poor tummy
His backside gummy!’
Moans Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Or serve Nebuchadnezzar or proletariat
But thinks that every son of man has quite enough to do
To paddle down the stream of life his personal canoe?
It’s Mr Dooley,
The wisest wight our country ever knew
‘Poor Europe ambles
Like sheep to shambles’
Sighs Mr Dooley-ooley-ooley-oo.
Thursday, June 03, 2004
'In a letter to tgo, Ms [Lisbet] Rausing asks if Britain can afford to savage its natural beauty. "For the same taxpayers' money that wind farms cost," she wrote, "many more C02 emissions could be saved by more conventional means -- by cleaning up coal power plants globally, by saving energy, and so on.
'"My husband and I may be getting a wind farm on the border of our Scottish home at Corrour, by the Blackwater Reservoir. At the moment feasibility studies are being carried out but if it does go ahead it will overshadow the single most wild vista in all of mainland Britain, the magnificent sweep of Rannoch Moor and the mountains ringing it, including Ben Nevis."
'And in a recent article in the Guardian, Philip Stott, professor emeritus of geography at London University, wrote: "Onshore wind power doesn't deliver the environmental benefits it promises and yet it carries substantial environmental costs. Promoting wind farms over other forms of energy generation will surely prove to be a most costly blunder. It is time to roar out against this crass industrialisation of our countryside and our last remaining wilderness."
'However, director of Friends of the Earth and wind farm supporter Tony Juniper says that the opponents of renewables are parochial and shortsighted. "Climate change is the world's most pressing environmental problem and the anti-lobby, helped by nuclear interests, is trying to undermine Britain's role as a leader in tackling it and to fatally delay action," he said. "Wind is the most advanced of all the renewable technologies but it needs to be followed quickly by solar, wave, tidal, biomass and others. No one is arguing that wind generators should cover all the national parks. That would be mad. The landscape can and must be protected."
'But that does not seem to be happening. The Whinash development threatens those who live in the lovely Borrowdale Valley, near Tebay. Similarly the local community of Ullapool in Wester Ross were of the opinion that the quality of the landscape surrounding them would be sacrosanct from such developments but they were wrong. Scottish and Southern Energy plan to run an interconnector cable under the sea from wind farm developments on the Isle of Lewis. The cable is to come ashore just off Ardmair Bay, a notable beauty spot, from where 50-metre high power lines will carry it via the Dirrie Mor and Fannichs to Beauly, where it would join another giant grid to run south as far as Denny in Stirlingshire.
'At the time of going to press there is already active consideration of wind farm projects by the Assynt crofters, the Durness crofters, and landowners in Strathconan and Glen Luichart. Indeed, we could probably fill the magazine with all the other developments that have been proposed for areas of outstanding scenic value.
Iowa has a new subsidy system:
- it establishes 1¢/kW-h tradable tax credit for new wind projects
- any project over 1 MW must forego existing exemption from state sales tax and reduced property tax
- local counties have to give the "extra" property tax to the state to cover the tax credit
- the credit is limited to 320 kW-h per MW capacity.
The joke is the limit, 320 kW-h/MW/year. Reportedly the drafters of the bill simply forgot to multiply by the number of hours in a year, and it was supposed to be 2800 MW-h, representing a very hopeful 32% capacity factor.
They hope to fix the law in 2005. Nice try, folks!
'In a week when Tony Blair was insisting the issue of climate change was "very, very critical" and Margaret Beckett, the environment secretary, claimed the UK was a world leader in reducing emissions, official statistics would have shown an 85% increase in pollutants from the airline industry and 59% for freight transport since 1990.
'Instead, the announcement was withdrawn and another substituted which did not mention transport emissions at all.'
James Joyce's grandson, Stephen Joyce, is notorious for opposing public performance of his grandfather's works. If he doesn't like the project, he will block it out right. If he is willing to tolerate it, he demands a very large fee. J Joyce's most famous work, Ulysses, is set in Dublin on June 16, 1904. Since the 1950s, June 16 has been celebrated around the world as "Bloomsday," after the main character of the book, Leopold Bloom. The centennial of the date in Dublin this year will of course be a huge event, drawing "Joyceans" from around the world.
A couple years ago, the National Library of Ireland bought a lot of Joyce's manuscripts, display of which is planned as a central part of "Rejoyce Dublin 2004." The grandson, however, warned of copyright violations. The Irish parliament responded by amending copyright law to allow public exhibition of "protected" works.
A public reading of Ulysses and a performance of the play Exiles, however, will remain cancelled. An who knows how many other events were never allowed to get started.
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
What sets this paper apart is that it relies solely on information from wind industry proponents. The Wachusetts project borders a public recreation area, and Mollica shows that the proposed expansion doesn't come close to meeting even the industry's own guidelines for safety and nuisance setbacks.
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
It's a bit late for qualms of vanity when the whole enterprise was "in vain" from the start. Remember the looting in Baghdad a year ago? Hospitals, schools, power plants, museums, libraries, government buildings were decimated because the mission of the invading troops was to secure only the oil and interior ministries. Now the dimwits who planned it all are starting to realize there's more to occupying a country than securing Halliburton contracts.
But it's too late. A giant hole has been dug where once was an organized modern society. It was headed by a despicable tyrant, but below him was a fully functioning government. Saddam is gone. Now we too need to leave -- not to keep digging. Rather than keep paying $200 billion a year to continue occupying (sorry -- "providing security for") the country, we should pay for what we've broken and leave Iraq to the Iraqis. That might start to redeem the dead.
The only justice, however, for the dead and maimed on both sides would be to put the man who would be king and his Richelieu -- George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney -- into prison for the rest of their lives.