Aug 31, 2011

U.S. Solar Product Exports Rose 83% Last Year on Sales to China

BloomBerg - U.S. exports of solar products climbed 83 percent last year to $5.63 billion as increasing production in China drove up sales of manufacturing equipment and raw materials, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Buyouts Driving Weakest Solar Companies Into Bankruptcy

'Green Scissors' Proposes Hundreds of Billions in Cuts to Federal Giveaways

(ENS) - Eliminating $380 billion in subsidies to industries that damage the environment could go a long way toward resolving U.S. budget challenges, a coalition of groups from across the political spectrum said today in a new report.

The report, "Green Scissors 2011," identifies cuts to "wasteful spending that harms the environment," that would save $380 billion over five years, the groups said in a statement.

That amounts to about a quarter of the savings the new congressional Super Committee has been charged with achieving, in half the time, the groups point out. "The place to start trimming government spending is where Congress is putting money into the pockets of polluters," they say.

Bureau of Land Management Timber Sale marker near Garnet, Montana (Photo by Heather Andrews)

The groups propose cutting many fossil fuel, nuclear and alternative energy subsidies. Other targets include giveaways of publicly-owned timber, precious metals, oil and natural gas; "poorly conceived" road projects; and a host of "questionable" water projects planned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"These common sense cuts represent the lowest of the low hanging budgetary fruit," said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, one of the four groups that wrote the report.

"Lawmakers across the political spectrum should be scrambling to eliminate these examples of wasteful spending and unnecessary tax breaks that are squandering our precious tax dollars while the nation is staring into a chasm of debt," Alexander said...

"We can go a long way toward solving our nation's budget problems by cutting spending that harms the environment, and this report provides the Super Committee with a road map," said Friends of the Earth climate and energy tax analyst Ben Schreiber. "At a time of great polarization, Super Committee members can and should find common ground by ending wasteful polluter giveaways."

Read full at ENS News

Making Fuel With Newspapers and Bacteria

"Scientists at Tulane have found a natural bacteria (dubbed TU-103) that produces butanol. While butanol-producing bacteria aren't new, there are a few important points about this particular bacterium. It is the first natural bacteria that converts cellulose directly to butanol without the cellulose needing to be processed into sugar first, and it can do this in the presence of oxygen, which kills other butanol-producing bacteria. The simplification of the process could significantly decrease the production costs of butanol. This bacteria could allow virtually any plant product, such as newspaper or grass clippings, to be used to produce fuel for conventional vehicles." - SlashDot

Alloy Could Produce Hydrogen Fuel Using Sunlight

"The University of Kentucky-University of Louisville team demonstrated that an alloy formed by a 2 percent substitution of antimony (Sb) in gallium nitride (GaN) has the right electrical properties to enable solar light energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, a process known as photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. When the alloy is immersed in water and exposed to sunlight, the chemical bond between the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in water is broken (abstract).

Because pure hydrogen gas is not found in free abundance on Earth, it must be manufactured by unlocking it from other compounds. Thus, hydrogen is not considered an energy source, but rather an 'energy carrier.' Currently, it takes a large amount of electricity to generate hydrogen by water splitting. As a consequence, most of the hydrogen manufactured today is derived from non-renewable sources such as coal and natural gas. The team says the GaN-Sb alloy has the potential to convert solar energy into an economical, carbon-free source for hydrogen." - SlashDot

Earthquake may have exceeded Virginia nuclear plant's safeguards earthquake that prompted the shutdown of a Virginia nuclear power plant last week may have been more severe than the plant’s reactors were designed to withstand, federal regulators said.

The revelation is likely to put increased pressure on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to quickly implement a series of safety recommendations intended in part to protect plants from major natural disasters like earthquakes.

NRC said Monday that its preliminary analysis indicates that the ground motion caused by the magnitude-5.8 earthquake near the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Va., exceeded the maximum level the two reactors at the plant were built to handle.

"We have informed the NRC that preliminary reports from instruments show the earthquake potentially exceeded the design basis," Dominion spokesman Ryan Frazier said. "All reports are not final, and probably will not be until the end of the week." Frazier stressed that inspections have found no major damage to the plant. "All safety systems operated as designed and built," he said.

Dominion restored power to the plant late Tuesday night and lifted an emergency alert the following day.

While there have been no reports of major damage at the plant, nuclear critics have pounced on the incident, arguing that it highlights the vulnerability of the U.S. nuclear fleet to major natural disasters.

A federal task force said in a report released last month that the NRC should make wide-ranging improvements to the “existing patchwork of regulatory requirements and other safety initiatives.” The task force was mandated by President Obama in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Read full at TheHill

Aug 28, 2011

Gibson Guitar Frets: Environmental Enforcement Leaves Musicians in Fear

"Even if you have no knowledge—despite Herculean efforts to obtain it—that some piece of your guitar, no matter how small, was obtained illegally, you lose your guitar forever," Prof. Thomas has written. "Oh, and you'll be fined $250 for that false (or missing) information in your Lacey Act Import Declaration."

Federal agents swooped in on Gibson Guitar Wednesday, raiding factories and offices in Memphis and Nashville, seizing several pallets of wood, electronic files and guitars. The Feds are keeping mum, but in a statement yesterday Gibson's chairman and CEO, Henry Juszkiewicz, defended his company's manufacturing policies, accusing the Justice Department of bullying the company. "The wood the government seized Wednesday is from a Forest Stewardship Council certified supplier," he said, suggesting the Feds are using the aggressive enforcement of overly broad laws to make the company cry uncle.

"Surprisingly, musicians, who represent some of the most savvy, ecologically minded people around, are resistant to anything about changing the tone of their guitars," he said.

You could mark that up to hypocrisy—artsy do-gooders only too eager to tell others what kind of light bulbs they have to buy won't make sacrifices when it comes to their own passions. Then again, maybe it isn't hypocrisy to recognize that art makes claims significant enough to compete with environmentalists' agendas.

Read more from WallStreetJournal

Raising food prices on poor and middle class investors move to food stocks

WOW - first they outsourced your job (to save a nickle) then the sold you an impossible home loan foreclosing on your house and then they nearly emptied your pension after draining your savings account.... Finally when you thought you gave all you could, they go after your food.

Imagine what is going on to the starving in our nation and then get you head around the 1 Billion who will die of starvation in the next 5 years as you read this "investors guide" to getting rich on food stocks.

MSN - "Forget stocks; buy food"
Agriculture commodities are on the move, breaking out of consolidation for the first time since last summer.
It's been a tough summer for stocks and other risky assets -- but the same can't be said for agricultural commodities. Hot, dry drought conditions have ruined crops all across the American growing regions. At the same time, demand remains robust thanks to the big appetites of newly empowered eaters in the developing world

The combination of tighter supply and stronger demand is sending prices higher once more. As a result, as a group agricultural goods are pushing up and out of a long seven-month downtrend dating back to February. A powerful new uptrend is being established. Here's how to take advantage. - Read full report here if you can stomach it

1 in 5 children in poverty in the...USA becomes Food Stamp Nation

Nearly 1 in 5 children lived in poverty in the U.S. in 2009. That’s 15 million kids. Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi ranked lowest on the study’s 10 indicators of child well-being. New Hampshire, Minnesota and Massachusetts ranked highest.

Altogether, there are now almost 46 million people in the United States on food stamps, roughly 15 percent of the population. That's an increase of 74 percent since 2007, just before the financial crisis and a deep recession led to mass job losses.

At the same time, the cost doubled to reach $68 billion in 2010 -- more than a third of the amount the U.S. government received in corporate income tax last year -
Read full at Yahoo News

Aug 26, 2011

Project Uses Nature’s Inspiration to Create Zero-Waste Farms

The ABLE project is a social enterprise based on a former landfill site in Wakefield in the U.K. The scheme combines the production of fish and horticultural produce with a unique outdoor learning facility, training young people in horticulture, aquaculture and environmental skills. Among other activities, the ABLE project is demonstrating a “closed-loop” no-waste agricultural system inspired by nature.

It begins with waste cardboard, which is shredded and used as animal bedding. Once the cardboard bedding deteriorates over time it is added to animal manure and fed to worms, which compost the materials. The worms are in turn fed to fish which are harvested for human consumption. Worm-made compost is used to help grow crops on land that was previously unused for agricultural purposes.

Brazilian wind power cheaper than natural gas

 The Brazilian authorities have this week confirmed that wind power in the country currently costs less than natural gas, after a series of energy auctions saw wind farm operators undercut other forms of energy generation.
A photo of a line of at least seven wind turbines stretching into the distance, with the wind turbine blades blurred by their motion.
Seventy-eight wind power projects won contracts in last week's energy auctions held by Brazil's National Electric Power Agency, totalling 1,928MW and priced at approximately 99.5 reals (£37.4) per MWh.

By comparison, the average price for power generated with natural gas is currently 103 reals (£38.7) per MWh in Brazil, while the average price for energy determined through the auctions was 102.07 reals per MWh.

According to Brazil's Energy Research Company (EPE), wind power is also now trading around 19 per cent cheaper per MWh than the average price in Brazil last year, suggesting the price of the technology is becoming a more competitive.

EPE president and chief executive Mauricio Tolmasquim said the auctions show that wind and natural gas are competitive, predicting wind prices will continue to fall in Brazil.

"That wind power plants have been contracted at two digit prices, below 100 reals per MWh, showcases the energy market competition through auctions," he said. "That wind power could reach these lows versus natural gas was unimaginable until recently."
Read more from buisnessgreen

Russia Green Lights $65 Billion Siberia-Alaska Rail and Tunnel to Bridge the Bering Strait

Peak Energy
Inhabitat reports (quoting World Architecture News and The Times - the LaRouchies also seem to have an interest in the topic) that Russia has "approved" the long talked about Bering Strait rail tunnel / energy corridor - a critical component in Bucky Fuller's vision of a global energy grid - Russia Green Lights $65 Billion Siberia-Alaska Rail and Tunnel to Bridge the Bering Strait!.

The Register notes "this time its chances of actually being built are strengthened by a 500-mile link from the existing Trans-Siberian line to the Eastern Siberian city of Yakutsk, scheduled for completion in 2013" - however I don't think anyone is holding their breath waiting for tunnel construction to start.

The high speed railway and tunnel will be a private public partnership whose economic impact could be startling. 100 million tons of freight could be moved per year using the most efficient known way of transport. Proposed tidal energy plants could provide 10 gigawatts of energy and a string of wind power fields could churn a constant supply of clean energy, serving as a vital link to a worldwide energy grid. The tunnel alone would take fifteen years to complete — and an energy and railway network would take many more — but the project would significantly change the shipping and energy industry.

Aug 24, 2011

Portable House, Simple Life

 Embarrassed by her middle class affluence after a visit to Guatemala, Dee Williams grabbed her hammer, built a tiny house on wheels, downsized to less than 400 possessions, and parked her house in a friendapos;s yard. Her living arrangement then blossomed into a multi-generational family / community.

Dee shows us her warm and comfy 7x12 foot house, how she meets city codes, and some unusual ways this life has affected her. Her advice to wannabe tiny home builders: Take on the experiment. Just do it!

German Village Produces 321% More Energy Than It Needs, those Germans are just showing off now. Not only has the nation announced plans to shut down all of its nuclear power plants and started the construction of 2,800 miles of transmission lines for its new renewable energy initiative, but now the village of Wildpoldsried is producing 321% more energy than it needs! The small agricultural village in the state of Bavaria is generating an impressive $5.7 million in annual revenue from renewable energy. Read full at Inhabitat

Aug 23, 2011

Germany Makes Facebook “Like” Button Illegal“Websites in Schleswig-Holstein must remove their Facebook Like button by the end of September 2011 or they will face a fine of up to €50,000 ($72,000).”

Northern Germany has announced that the Like button, with its ability to track a user’s movement across the internet, violates German and European privacy law. But without tracking plugins, how will corporations and advertisers record our activities and interests, so that they can better serve and satisfy?

Via ZDNet

Aug 22, 2011

More talk and do nothing campaigns ... latest social engineering $hit by MTV make our youth sheep

MTV is promoting its latest social engineering program pushing a generation of sleeping sheep to believe that if you just simply "Give a Sh*t" about the world's problems, they will go away.

So to spread the word and make a difference, MTV's asking people everywhere to tweet or post what they give a shit about in the world, while they... well... take a sh#t.
No this is not a "onion joke site" this is really a campaign.

Haase - I'm pretty sure just giving a sh*t ain't gonna do sh%t

Lighting Improvements Provide Easy Energy Savings Including New Florescent and LED Lamps - Free P2 Webinar

Join us for a Webinar on August 31

Lighting improvements are one of the easiest and most cost-effective energy improvements for businesses. Financial incentives are often provided by utility companies and local energy efficiency programs. Learn how to save money and energy through lighting improvements. This seminar will focus on industrial and warehouse applications. It will cover information about various light sources and control devices plus important aspects to consider when making changes. Case studies of lighting changeouts including analysis and cost savings will be presented.

Title:     Lighting Improvements Provide Easy Energy Savings
Date:     Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Time:     1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CDT

Click here to Reserve your Webinar seat now

This webinar will provide background information on lighting terms, trends in lighting (including new florescent and LED lamps),  legislation which will change what's available to purchase, and technology comparisons, plus case studies from the heartland.  It should be well worth your hour to learn this information, especially if you're considering changing your lighting any time soon.

This webinar is the last of four webinars designed to help companies reduce energy use and conserve materials.  A booklet of case studies (Easy Material and Energy Savings) and the other webinars (energy savings from compressed air, material savings from packaging, and solvent substitution) are available at

Costco Removes Electric Vehicle Chargers...Citing a Lack of Usage

Costco was an early leader in offering electric-vehicle charging to its customers, setting an example followed by other retailers, including Best Buy and Walgreen. By 2006, Costco had installed 90 chargers at 64 stores, mostly in California but also some in Arizona, New York and Georgia. Even after General Motors crushed its EV1 battery cars, the Costco chargers stayed in place. Yet just as plug-in cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt enter the market, Costco is reversing course and pulling its chargers out of the ground, explaining that customers do not use them. Read full at NY Times

Getting ready for a wave of coal-plant shutdowns

Washington Post - Over the next 18 months, the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize a flurry of new rules to curb pollution from coal-fired power plants. Mercury, smog, ozone, greenhouse gases, water intake, coal ash—it’s all getting regulated. And, not surprisingly, some lawmakers are grumbling.

Industry groups such the Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, and the American Legislative Exchange Council have dubbed the coming rules “EPA’s Regulatory Train Wreck.” The regulations, they say, will cost utilities up to $129 billion and force them to retire one-fifth of coal capacity. Given that coal provides 45 percent of the country’s power, that means higher electric bills, more blackouts and fewer jobs. The doomsday scenario has alarmed Republicans in the House, who have been scrambling to block the measures. Environmental groups retort that the rules will bring sizeable public health benefits, and that industry groups have been exaggerating the costs of environmental regulations since they were first created.

"The CRS report also agrees with green groups that the benefits of these new rules shouldn’t be downplayed...EPA estimates that an air-transport rule to clamp down on smog-causing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide would help prevent 21,000 cases of bronchitis and 23,000 heart attacks, and save 36,000 lives. That’s, at the high end, $290 billion in health benefits, compared with $2.8 billion per year in costs (according to the EPA) by 2014. “In most cases,” CRS concludes, “the benefits are larger.”

So, who’s right? This month, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, which conducts policy research for members of Congress, has been circulating a paper that tries to calmly sort through the shouting match. Thanks to The Hill’s Andrew Restuccia, it’s now available (PDF) for all to read. And the upshot is that CRS is awfully skeptical of the “train wreck” predictions.

CRS notes that many of the plants most affected by the new EPA rules were facing extinction anyway: “Many of these plants are inefficient and are being replaced by more efficient combined cycle natural gas plants, a development likely to be encouraged if the price of competing fuel—natural gas—continues to be low, almost regardless of EPA rules.”... Granted, those upgrades and changes won’t be free. The CRS report doesn’t try to independently evaluate the costs of the new rules, noting that they will depend on site-specific factors and will vary by utility and state. (Matthew Wald recently wrote a helpful piece in The New York Times looking at how utilities might cope.) But, the report says, industry group estimates are almost certainly overstated. For one, they were analyzing early EPA draft proposals, and in many cases, the agency has tweaked its rules to allay industry concerns. And many of the EPA’s rules are almost certain to get bogged down in court or delayed for years, which means that utilities will have more time to adapt than they fear.

...Granted, few would expect this report to change many minds in Congress. Just 10 days ago, Michele Bachmann was on the campaign trail promising that if she becomes president, “I guarantee you the EPA will have doors locked and lights turned off, and they will only be about conservation.” That doesn’t sound like someone who’s waiting for a little more data before assessing the impact of the new regulations.

Read full at Washington Post

Aug 21, 2011

Chevy VOLT sales die... after costing tax payers million$

While Chevy VOLT sales continue to die (MSNBC) with bleak sales forecast (YAHOO)... tax payers are stuck with the bill.
The Chevy Volt has only sold about 3,200 units thus far...Nevertheless, Government Motors is ramping up for more Volt production.  According to Yahoo Auto news, GM is forecasting “sales of around 16,000 for the year as a whole, with 40,000 sold by 2012.

The problem is said to be the price of the Volt, which is a massive understatement, because everyone buying a Volt is understating the price.  No one purchasing a Volt has the faintest clue what it really costs, because of all the taxpayer subsidies plowed into production, and hefty rebates offered at the point of sale.  $400 million in federal subsidies were extracted from the taxpayer to fund Volt production, and buyers have enjoyed a $7500 federal tax credit.

That means each of the 3200 Volts sold thus far has rolled out of the lot with $132,500 in taxpayer subsidies stuffed in the glove compartment.  They sticker at $41,000, so that means each Volt sold thus far actually costs $173,500, with only $33,500 paid by the actual purchaser.

California drops electric car support

California has dropped their $5,000 electric car rebates - LA Times

NASDAQ - will gas be $5 soon, causing next great depression?

NASDAQ - No one knows precisely at what point oil begins to substantially hinder consumer spending and slow commercial activity - but this much is known: every $1 per barrel rise in oil decreases U.S. GDP by about $100 billion per year and every 1 cent increase in gasoline decreases U.S. consumer disposable income by about $600 million per year.

....psychological levels and outlook are important factors in the oil-GDP equation.

If the average U.S. price of gasoline, currently about $3.69 per gallon for regular unleaded as measured by , rises and stays above $4 per gallon, that would cause consumers to forecast that 'higher gasoline prices here to stay,' and they'll likely adjust their discretionary spending. Similarly, an oil price that rises and stays above $100 per barrel has a similar psychological effect.

Now here's the sobering news: there are scenarios that could push U.S. gasoline prices above $5 per gallon in 2011:

a) a U.S. Government default that causes institutional investors to dump U.S. Government bonds, triggering a plunge in the dollar, pushing up oil's price

b) any sustained unrest in another oil producing nation in the Middle East; or

c) stronger growth in Asia/Latin America emerging market economies, most of which are registering large annual percentage increases in oil consumption.

Energy/Economic Analysis: Again, the U.S. economy can still grow with oil at $100 per barrel and gasoline at $3.70 per gallon, but the chance for strong GDP growth above 4% with those energy prices is slim. Further, if Brent oil ventures toward $120, then $130, with gasoline trending toward $4.50 per gallon, oil enters the danger zone -- compelling wide-spread consumer and commercial cutbacks - Read on at NASDAQ

The explosive truth behind Fukushima's meltdown

Japan insists its nuclear crisis was caused by an unforeseeable combination of tsunami and earthquake. But new evidence suggests its reactors were doomed to fail - Independent

Related U.S. Problems???

Alabama Nuclear Reactor, Partly Built, to Be Finished - The directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority unanimously approved a plan on Thursday to finish the partly built Bellefonte 1 nuclear reactor, a project on which the authority spent billions of dollars in the 1970s and ’80s but dropped in 1988 because of cost overruns and declining estimates of power demand.

Aug 19, 2011

13-Year-Old Teen Finds Solar Power Breakthrough

7th grader Aidan Dwyer, who used phyllotaxis — the way leaves are arranged on plant stems in nature — as inspiration to arrange an array of solar panels in a way that generates 20-50% more energy than a uniform, flat panel array. Aidan wrote, "I designed and built my own test model, copying the Fibonacci pattern of an oak tree. I studied my results with the compass tool and figured out the branch angles. The pattern was about 137 degrees and the Fibonacci sequence was 2/5. Then I built a model using this pattern from PVC tubing. In place of leaves, I used PV solar panels hooked up in series that produced up to 1/2 volt, so the peak output of the model was 5 volts. The entire design copied the pattern of an oak tree as closely as possible. ... The Fibonacci tree design performed better than the flat-panel model. The tree design made 20% more electricity and collected 2 1/2 more hours of sunlight during the day. But the most interesting results were in December, when the Sun was at its lowest point in the sky. The tree design made 50% more electricity, and the collection time of sunlight was up to 50% longer!"- SlashDot

Oil Rising Again from Old Deepwater Horizon Site?

Oil from the Macondo Well site is fouling the Gulf – and BP is scrambling to contain both the crude and the PR nightmare that waits in the wings.
Reliable sources tell us that BP has hired 40 boats from Venice to Grand Isle to lay boom around the Deepwater Horizon site – located just 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. The fleet rushed to the scene late last week and worked through the weekend to contain what was becoming a massive slick at the site of the Macondo wellhead, which was officially “killed” back in September 2010.

The truly frightening part of this development, as reported in a previous post , is the oil may be coming from cracks and fissures in the seafloor caused by the work BP did during its failed attempts to cap the runaway Macondo Well – and that type of leakage can’t be stopped, ever.

Read full from Stuarth Smith

Aug 18, 2011

EIA reports 3.9% increase in U.S. energy-related emissions in 2010

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from the consumption of fossil fuels were 5,638 million metric tons carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) in 2010, an increase of 3.9 percent from the 2009 level, according to Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2010, an online analysis released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). This is the largest percentage increase in U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions since 1988. However emissions are still 6 percent below the 2005 level.

Among the factors that influenced the rise in emissions was an increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 3.0 percent. In addition, the energy intensity of the U.S. economy, measured as energy consumed per dollar of GDP (Energy/GDP), increased by 0.7 percent in 2010. There was also a slight increase in the carbon dioxide intensity of U.S. energy supply (CO2 per unit of energy) in 2010, which is in contrast to a drop of 2.4 percent in 2009. Consumption of coal, the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel, rose by 6 percent in 2010 after falling by 12 percent in 2009.

"The 3.9 percent increase in emissions in 2010 was primarily driven by the rebound from the economic downturn experienced in 2008 and 2009. The Reference case in our latest energy outlook projects significantly slower emissions growth over the next decade, averaging 0.2 percent per year," said Acting EIA Administrator Howard Gruenspecht.

This analysis can be found at:

For First Time, More Corn Used for Ethanol Than Livestock

While nations are struggling to feed their starving people pushing U.S. corn export to record profits... supplies run short as food prices boom. the first time ever, more of the corn crop may go into gas tanks than into the stomachs of cattle and poultry destined for kitchen tables.

The prediction drew little response last week when it was released by the USDA in its Crop Production and Supply/Demand Report for the 2011 crop season. The USDA kept its prediction for ethanol production demand for corn at 5.05 billion, but lowered demand projections for livestock feed by 100 million bushels to 5 billion bushels.

That fuel now tops livestock as the primary user of corn struck at least one observer as noteworthy.

“That’s a first-time-ever type of change,”  University of Missouri Extension economist Ron Plain said in a statement released by the university.

“For forever,” Plain said, “ feed was the largest single use of corn.”

The news comes as criticism that pro-ethanol subsidies and policies are raising food prices globally seems to be reaching a crescendo.  Critics didn’t seem to latch onto the USDA’s market prediction, however.

The USDA Thursday lowered its soybean and corn harvest estimates for the 2011 crop significantly and said ethanol plans will consume more corn than livestock.

This year’s corn crop will be down 556 million bushels, or 4 percent less than projected in July, according to the Crop Production and Supply/Demand Report.

Soybean yields will be 169 million bushels, or 5.24 percent lower than the July estimate of 3.225 billion bushels, the report indicated.

A primary reason for the shift in grain demand away from livestock is the thinning of herds and flocks in order to reduce red ink and improve prices for producers, University of Missouri Extension said in a statement released Thursday.

Plain said yield estimates were cut due in part to excessive heat in July, flooding, and other weather events. He said corn does not grow as well when temperatures at night remain high.

The USDA projected that carryover stocks of corn will drop to 714 million bushels, a level last not seen since 1996.

“The very, very tight carryover is why corn prices are going to be record-high this year,” Plain said. “We really need to plant more acres to corn next year than this year, and this was the second most acres planted in 67 years.”  Read full at TheGazette

"Made in China" accounted for only 2.7% of U.S. Consumer Product Spending and services from China accounted for only 2.7% of U.S. personal consumption expenditures in 2010, of which less than half reflected the actual costs of Chinese imports. The rest went to U.S. businesses and workers transporting, selling, and marketing goods carrying the "Made in China" label. Although the fraction is higher when the imported content of goods made in the United States is considered, Chinese imports still make up only a small share of total U.S. consumer spending. This suggests that Chinese inflation will have little direct effect on U.S. consumer prices.
The United States is running a record trade deficit with China. This is no surprise, given the wide array of items in stores labeled “Made in China.” This Economic Letter examines what fraction of U.S. consumer spending goes for Chinese goods and what part of that fraction reflects the actual cost of imports from China. We perform a similar exercise to determine the foreign and domestic content of all U.S. imports...
Share of spending on “Made in China”
Although globalization is widely recognized these days, the U.S. economy actually remains relatively closed. The vast majority of goods and services sold in the United States is produced here. In 2010, imports were about 16% of U.S. GDP. Imports from China amounted to 2.5% of GDP.
Table 1
Import content of U.S. personal consumption expenditures by category
Import content of U.S. personal consumption expenditures by category
Table 1 shows our calculations of the import content of U.S. household consumption of goods and services. A total of 88.5% of U.S. consumer spending is on items made in the United States. This is largely because services, which make up about two-thirds of spending, are mainly produced locally. The market share of foreign goods is highest in durables, which include cars and electronics. Two-thirds of U.S. durables consumption goes for goods labeled “Made in the USA,” while the other third goes for goods made abroad.
...However, it does not seem that so far Chinese exporters are fully passing through their domestic inflation. In May 2011, prices of Chinese imports only increased 2.8% from May 2010. This is partly because a large share of Chinese production costs consists of imports from other countries. Xing and Detert (2010) demonstrate this by examining the production costs of an iPhone. In 2009, it cost about $179 in China to produce an iPhone, which sold in the United States for about $500. Thus, $179 of the U.S. retail cost consisted of Chinese imported content. Geography of U.S. PCE, 2010However, only $6.50 was actually due to assembly costs in China. The other $172.50 reflected costs of parts produced in other countries, including $10.75 for parts made in the United States.
Figure 2 shows the share of U.S. PCE based on where goods were produced, taking into account intermediate goods production, and the domestic and foreign content of imports. Of the 2.7% of U.S. consumer purchases going to goods labeled “Made in China,” only 1.2% actually represents China-produced content. If we take into account imported intermediate goods, about 13.9% of U.S. consumer spending is attributable to imports, including 1.9% imported from China.
Read more from The U.S. Content of “Made in China”

Westinghouse Reactor Takes a Step Forward

The reactor at the leading edge of what has been cast as a “nuclear renaissance” has taken a step forward.

The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Tuesday that it had finished its evaluation of the safety of the proposed Vogtle 3 and 4 reactors, a Southern Company project near Augusta, Ga. The staff has also completed work on Southern’s application for a license to build and run the reactors.

Scott Burnell, a commission spokesman, said that the basic question facing the commission is whether it is satisfied with its staff’s work on safety and environmental evaluations related to the reactor, the new Westinghouse AP-1000. If the commission votes yes, “then things are good,’’ he said.

The AP-1000 (the letters stand for “advanced passive” technology and the number is the reactor’s approximate capacity in megawatts) has a complicated history. It was approved once before but after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and other considerations, it needed more work.

There are still opponents, and they may still seek to delay approval.

Read full at NY Times

HealthCare Blackmail Alert - life-saving drugs average 650% mark-ups

Amid growing shortages of life-saving drugs, some back-door suppliers are capitalizing on the problem, jacking up prices for medications for cancer, high blood pressure and other serious problems by as much as 4,500 percent, a new hospital survey shows.

So-called “gray market” medical suppliers — vendors who operate through unofficial channels — inflated prices by an average of 650 percent on drugs that were either back-ordered or completely unavailable. They included widely used but hard-to-get drugs aimed at fighting cancer, ensuring sedation during surgery or treating patients who need emergency care.

...Federal Food and Drug Administration officials say the shortages are caused by manufacturing problems, firms that simply stop making drugs and production delays. The agency has no power to compel manufacturers to make certain drugs, or even to inform health care providers in a timely fashion. Shortages often occur without warning and with no clear indication of when they’ll end.

A bill pending in Congress, the S.296 -- Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act, would require that drug makers notify FDA early if shortages are likely to occur. A Senate work group is focused on stopping the shortages.

Patients and doctors have grown increasingly desperate as the shortages have forced ill people to delay or cancel treatment, or to substitute medications that can be less effective or have unwanted side effects.

“It’s like having a revolver to your head,” said Bob Dierker...who couldn’t get a vital colorectal cancer drug, leucovorin, during his treatments last year. Gray-market vendors offered leucovorin at a 3,170 percent mark-up, the new report showed.

“When you’re desperate, you’re willing to pay anything,” said Dierker, whose disease is in remission. “At a 10,000 percent mark-up, I would have paid it, if I could have.”
Read more at MSNBC

Comet Elenin Doomsday October 16, Predictions Clarified by NASA

elenin trackThe comet Elenin which will pass by Earth October 16 has generated such an inordinate amount of doomsday reports from a number of different sources that NASA today issued a release meant to address a variety of them.

To address the myriad concerns, NASA said its scientists compiled a list of the most popular questions it has received about Elenin.  The answers were provided from Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and David Morrison of the NASA Astrobiology Institute at the NASA Ames Research Center. 

Read list at Networkworld or see the information NASA has on Elenin is readily available on the Internet.  If this comet were any danger to anyone, you would certainly know about it. For more information, visit NASA's AsteroidWatch site.

LCD that converts sunlight, ambient light, and their own backlight into energy.

UCLA Engineers Create Energy-Generating LCD Screen that allows gadgets like smartphones and laptops to convert sunlight, ambient light, and their own backlight into energy. Equipping LCD-enhanced devices with so-called polarizing organic photovoltaics will recoup battery loads of lost power, and enable smartphone users to scour Yelp, scan Twitter, and update their Facebook page without fear of draining the charge before a real communication crisis arises." - Read more at UCLA

Electric Vehicle Sets 1,000 Miles-Plus Record on Single Charge

'Boozer' EV sets 1,000 miles-plus record on single chargeAn experimental electric vehicle called “Schluckspecht” (“boozer,” or “tippler” in German) has set the record for achieving the longest drive in a battery-powered vehicle on a single battery charge. Its record-breaking distance was 1,013.8 miles (1,631.5 km). The trip lasted 36 hours and 12 minutes.

The Schluckspecht E, as the winning machine is called, was developed at Germany’s University of Applied Sciences, Offenburg, in collaboration with other academic groups. The test drive took place in Boxberg at the Bosch corporate test track, where a team of four drivers made the trip, as they took turns navigating over the long stretch of hours.

Read on at PhysOrg

Aug 17, 2011

How Did Fish in Vermont Get so Radioactive?

Forbes - One of the most lethal by-products of nuclear fission, Strontium-90 was found in the bones of nine of 13 fish collected from the Connecticut River last summer, and for the first time, in the edible flesh of one fish. Images from Fukushima Daiichi

That fish was collected nine miles upstream from the Connecticut Yankee Nuclear Power Plant, a distance that encouraged Entergy officials to cast doubt on the source of the contamination:

We are aware that the Vermont Department of Health may have detected strontium-90 in some fish from the Connecticut River. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Vermont Yankee is the source for the strontium-90. We have 31 monitoring wells on site that are tested regularly. No groundwater sample from any well at Vermont Yankee has ever indicated the presence of strontium-90, or any other isotope other than tritium. We do not know why the Governor would suggest Vermont Yankee is the source, but there is no factual basis for that suggestion.”


Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin seemed to tie the contamination to the plant in a statement he released on Tuesday, but he backed off that claim on Wednesday after his own Health Department echoed Entergy:

“We cannot associate low levels of Sr-90 in fish in the Connecticut River with Vermont Yankee-related radioactive materials without other supporting evidence,” the Vermont Department of Health said in its statement on the finding. The strontium-90 was only slightly above the lower limit of detection. The state’s radiological health chief, Bill Irwin, told the Burlington Free Press he would eat the fish:

“It would not be of concern to me,” he said. “The risk is very small.”

Gov. Shumlin, however, said he would pass on eating the fish.

Shumlin wants Vermont Yankee shut down when its license expires in 2012. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a 20-year extension for the plant, but Entergy also needs approval from the state. Expecting denial, Entergy is preparing to sue Vermont.

Although no strontium has been found in groundwater samples taken at the plant, strontium-90 has been found in soil samples taken near a pipe that leaked tritium into groundwater, according to the Burlington Free Press.

A “bone-seeker,” strontium-90 is chemically similar to calcium, so the body deposits it in bone and marrow, where it is known to cause cancer. Radioactive isotopes of strontium are particularly dangerous to the growing bones of fetuses and children.The Vermont fish were taken from the river months before the Fukushima accident. Another dangerous isotope found in Hawaiian milk this Spring, strontium-89, has been associated with Fukushima.

Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA) - Clean Energy Financing Act of 2011

CBO -  Report ordered by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
This legislation would establish the Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA) within the Department of Energy (DOE) and authorize that new agency to provide various forms of financial assistance for clean energy projects developed by nonfederal entities. CEDA’s financial liabilities would be limited to the amounts available in a newly created Clean Energy Investment Fund, which would consist of federal appropriations and income from certain fees. Finally, the bill would modify some of the terms and procedures governing DOE’s Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program, which was established by title 17 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Clean Energy Deployment Administration
This bill would expand the scope of federal financial assistance for clean energy projects relative to existing law. CEDA would be authorized to provide direct loans, loan guarantees, letters of credit, insurance, and other forms of credit enhancement for clean energy projects. Such assistance would be available for investments in the energy, transportation, manufacturing, commodities, residential, commercial, municipal, and other sectors of the economy. This assistance would supplement DOE’s existing credit programs for energy and automotive projects that use advanced technologies and meet certain environmental emissions standards. Although the legislation would express a sense of the Senate that the initial funding for CEDA’s activities should total $10 billion, the figures in this analysis reflect CBO’s estimate of CEDA’s likely obligations over the next five years.
FRead full CBO PDF report

U.S. Navy Gets a Solar Power Upgrade

The U.S. Navy's help is coming from an unexpected source: the sun.
The Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 2 in Virginia has been testing five prototype lightweight field power kits that include solar cells as a key component. The kits replace fifty pounds of equipment with a compact system that weighs only about nine pounds. - TalkingPoints

Floating Nuclear Power Plant Seized By Court

"The world's first nuclear barge has been impounded while still under construction — but not because of looming safety or environmental concerns. The shipyard's parent companies are embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings, and Russia's state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, was worried that a creditor would end up with this valuable nuclear asset, and asked the bankruptcy court to seize the barge to protect it." - SlashDot

WTF - Cigarette companies sue FDA over health warnings?

Cigarette companies sue FDA over health labelsCigarette companies are suing to try to stop the latest government health warnings ordered for packs of cigarettes. - CBS News

Seriously??? WTF is the problem with having accurate warnings depicting what really happens.

Haase - Last Time I checked:

Smoking Deaths Cost U.S. $92 Billion a Year. Total costs, including health care, more than $167 billion yearly.

I think the "death stick" manufactures can afford a little dip in sales... unless the are REQUIRED to pay the $167 Billion (Why aren't they?).

Also, what of the loss to the families of a lifetime of lost income or the obvious "value of life"?

Jon Stewart: Why is Everyone Still Ignoring Ron Paul?

Ron Paul came in second in last weekend's Iowa straw poll, finishing less than 200 votes behind Michele Bachmann. Why is the longtime Texas congressman, an early champion of many of the ideas that are so popular with Tea Partiers at the moment, not considered a serious contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination? That was the question on Jon Stewart's mind tonight on The Daily Show. A clip of the segment is below.
Even when the media does remember Ron Paul, it's only to reassure themselves that there's no need to remember Ron Paul.

Aug 16, 2011

Shell detects second Gannet Alpha North Sea leak point -  A second leak point has been found in the flow line beneath the Gannet Alpha oil platform, 113 miles (180km) off Aberdeen.
Shell has been dealing with the release of an estimated 216 tonnes - 1,300 barrels - from a leak near the platform discovered last week.
The oil company said it was working to tackle what was described as a "second pathway" of leakage.

"They are working to completely halt any further leakage.

"DECC's environmental inspectors will continue to monitor the situation and have been working closely with the company and counterparts from the Health and Safety Executive, Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Marine Scotland since the spill was reported last week."

The spokesman added: "Although small in comparison to the Macondo, Gulf of Mexico, incident, in the context of the UK Continental Shelf the spill is substantial.

"But it is not anticipated that oil will reach the shore and indeed it is expected that it will be dispersed naturally.

"Current estimates are that the spill could be several hundred tonnes."

Organic farming careers take off as more than a quarter milllion organic farmers sue Monsanto

More colleges offering organic, sustainability agriculture programs as consumer interest grows of others are doing the same at dozens of universities that now offer courses, certificates or degree programs focused on organic and sustainable agriculture. Experts said those graduates shouldn’t have trouble finding jobs as the agriculture industry replaces aging farmers — the average age of a U.S. farmer is 57 — and farmers increasingly look to diversify their operations.

“We’re always looking at the university for our future ag workers,” said Roger Pepperl, spokesman for Wenatchee, Wash.-based Stemilt Growers, the nation’s largest organic tree fruit producer.

Thirty percent of Stemilt’s crops are organic, comprising 3 million boxes of apples, pears, cherries, peaches and nectarines annually.

Experts said the growth in alternative agriculture programs is fueled by continued consumer demand for food seen as healthier and rising demand for food that is produced on sustainable farms that are environmentally responsible and treat workers and animals humanely. - Read more at WashingtonPost

While more than 270,000 organic farmers are taking on corporate agriculture giant Monsanto in a lawsuit .
Led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the family farmers are fighting for the right to keep a portion of the world food supply organic—and preemptively protecting themselves from accusations of stealing genetically modified seeds that drift on to their pristine crop fields.

Did space storms drive riots, wild markets???

Riots, wild markets: Did space storms drive us mad? (Reuters)
Everyone is pointing fingers -- at blundering politicians, hooded thugs, disaffected youths, bumbling police and greedy bankers -- but could the cause for all the madness really be the star at the center of our solar system?

There isn't a lot of evidence pointing to little green men involving themselves in Earthly affairs, but the sun has been throwing bursts of highly charged particles into space in a phenomenon known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs.

Three large CMEs prompted U.S. government scientists to warn of solar storms that can cause power blackouts and the aurora borealis, or northern lights, caused by disturbances in the Earth's atmosphere, have been spotted as far south as England and Colorado, NASA said.

"Earth's magnetic field is still reverberating from a CME strike on August 5th that sparked one of the strongest geomagnetic storms in years", website SpaceWeather said.

Some academics have claimed that such geomagnetic storms can affect humans, altering moods and leading people into negative behavior through effects on their biochemistry.

"Unusually high levels of geomagnetic activity have a negative, statistically and economically significant effect on the following week's stock returns for all US stock market indices," the authors found in their report.

Haase Comment - My short answer is NO... just a unethical societies way of finding excuses for their behavior (i.e. Clinton effect ;-)

Did we lose $10 trillion?

Accounting Problems: You think Enron's accounting was troubled?

The Pentagon has very little accountability when it comes to its books. Since first submitting financial accounts in 1991, the Pentagon "has been unable to account for trillions of dollars, well over almost $10 trillion by my own account," says Glain.

Ending the Wars: Ending operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will instantly save the defense department $180 billion per year. According to Joseph Stiglitz the wars have cost the government $3 trillion and counting.

The United States military budget accounts for over 40% of the world's annual military expenditures and, at around $700 billion per year, more than 20% of the federal budget. The Federal government wants to curb that spending as part of deficit reduction.

Last week's deficit deal calls for up to $350 billion in cuts over the next decade on the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, among others. And, if the debt "super-committee" fails to reach a deal on $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, it will automatically trigger an additional $500 billion in cuts over the next decade.

Read more at Yahoo

Wired Science News for Your Neurons Food Prices Could Hit Tipping Point for Global Unrest

As U.S. leaders fail to pass sustainable debt deal, $4 Trillion was Wiped Off World Stocks In Two Weeks and may be leading to a global tipping point:

When food shortages and rising prices drive people to desperation, social unrest soon follows. It’s as true today as it was in 18th-century France. According to a new analysis of food prices and unrest, the 2008 global food riots and ongoing Arab Spring may be a preview of what’s coming.

“When you have food prices peak, you have all these riots. But look under the peaks, at the background trend. That’s increasing quite rapidly, too,” said Yaneer Bar-Yam, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute. “In one to two years, the background trend runs into the place where all hell breaks loose.”

Bar-Yam and his colleagues are hunters of mathematical signals in social data: market trends and economic patterns, ethnic violence, Hollywood movies. In their latest expedition, described Aug. 11 in the prepublication online arXiv, they focus on the 2008 food riots and the Arab Spring, both of which followed year-long surges in basic food prices.

FAO Price Index at current prices (black curve) and corrected for inflation (blue curve) between January 2004 and May 2011. Red dashed lines signify the beginning dates of food riots and unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. Black and blue horizontal lines represent the current-price and inflation-adjusted food price thresholds for riots. Bar-Yam et al/arXiv

The researchers are hardly the first to portray food problems as a spark that inflames social inequality and stokes individual desperation, unleashing and amplifying impulses of rebellion. The role of food prices in triggering the Arab Spring has been widely described. Their innovation is a pair of price points on the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index: about 215 in current prices, or 190 when corrected for inflation.

It’s at those points where, on a graph of food prices and social unrest between 2004 and 2011, unrest breaks out. But whereas they were crossed by price jumps in 2008, Bar-Yam and colleagues calculate that the underlying, steady trend — driven primarily by commodity speculation, agricultural crop-to-fuel conversion and rising prices of fertilizer and oil — crosses those points between 2012 and 2013.

“Once we get there, the peaks aren’t the problem anymore. Instead it’s the trend. And that’s harder to correct,” said Bar-Yam. At that point, widespread political unrest and instability can be expected, even in countries less troubled than those in North Africa and the Middle East.

“When the ability of the political system to provide security for the population breaks down, popular support disappears. Conditions of widespread threat to security are particularly present when food is inaccessible to the population at large,” write Bar-Yam and colleagues in arXiv. “All support for the system and allowance for its failings are lost. The loss of support occurs even if the political system is not directly responsible for the food security failure, as is the case if the primary responsibility lies in the global food supply system.” - Read full at Wired

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Found in Nature

Mussels With Hydrogen Fuel Cells Found  - "According to scientists, there are mussels at the bottom of the ocean that are efficiently converting hydrogen into energy in their very own, nature-made hydrogen fuel cells (abstract). The mussels were found near hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor and have onboard symbiotic bacteria that convert hydrogen into energy. With this discovery, researchers might be able to clone the hydrogen eating bacteria to create all-natural hydrogen fuel cells to power things other than sea life."

Microorganism Used to Remove Radioactive Cesium

A research group for the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) has been studying the use of bacteria in the measurement and decontamination of radioactive cesium. The group cultured bacteria in soil and investigated its cesium accumulation ability, confirming that about one-tenth of the bacteria in the soil were able accumulate cesium.

The group then placed the cesium-accumulating bacteria into a dialysis tube, which was immersed it in an aqueous solution containing radioactive cesium. The concentration of radioactive cesium in the solution decreased over time, reaching 25 percent of the initial concentration at 32 hours. At this point, the radioactive cesium present in the cells was 7,500-fold higher than the initial concentration of the solution. Read on at JFS

New Paint that Can Cut Power Costs by 40%

JFS -  a Japanese manufacturer of paints and coatings, announced on April 26, 2011, that it has developed a new type of paint with high solar reflectance called "Alescool." Simply applying this paint, the company says, can help cut electric power cost of air conditioning by 40 percent during summer in Japan. The paint will go on sale across Japan through Kansai Paint's affiliated sales company. Read on here

Aug 15, 2011

Rice Futures and Imports/Trades Halted as Radiation Weighs On First Since ’39

Bloomberg reports that radiation fears are pushing up Japanese rice prices - Rice Futures Halted in Tokyo as Radiation Weighs On First Trades Since ’39.
Rice futures in Tokyo surged in their first appearance on the bourse since 1939, triggering a suspension of trade, on concern radiation from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant may spread to crops and curb supply. ...

The exchange listed rice contracts today for the first time since the start of World War II to boost flagging volumes and profit. The resumption comes as fallout from the Fukushima Dai- Ichi power plant may spread after it was found cattle had been fed cesium-tainted rice straw. Spinach, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tea, milk, plums and fish have been found to be contaminated with cesium and iodine as far as 360 kilometers (224 miles) from the station operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Read more at PeakEnergy

More updates on Fukushima

Aug 14, 2011

Government legally required to create jobs?

TPR -... the law requires the government, in particular the President and the Federal Reserve, to create jobs. This legal duty comes from three sources:
  1. full employment legislation including the Humphrey Hawkins Full Employment Act of 1978,
  2. the 1977 Federal Reserve Act, and
  3. the global consensus based on customary international law that all people have a right to a job with favorable remuneration to provide an adequate standard of living.

Nice 180 mpg MotorCycle

...This custom-built machine is a throwback to the aesthetics of 1920s boardtrack racers, right down to the copper rivets, Brooks leather saddles and even, if you so wish, white tires. Derringer pitches its hybrids as ‘the next generation motorbike’—a claim that some electric moto makers might disagree with. (We’re told that ‘The ultra-clean four-cycle powerplant meets stringent CARB tier 3 emissions standards’)
Derringer Cycles
The engine is a 49cc OHV 4-stroke that offers an impressive 180 mpg; the transmission has a centrifugal clutch and freewheel, so the pedals can remain stationary while the engine is doing the hard work. No two Derringers are the same, and they’re absolutely guaranteed to stop the traffic.From Bike EXIF

Aug 13, 2011

Apple Now Offering Free Recycling For PCs

WOW - "Do you have a few old, dusty beige-box computers kicking around that you'd like to turn into money? Or perhaps you'd just like to get rid of them, but you lack the means to dispose of them properly? Well, if you're in the US you're in luck: Apple will now provide postage-paid packaging to allow you to recycle your old laptop or desktop PC and its monitor for free, and if it's worth anything, you'll even get an Apple Gift Card in return. In addition, your old iPhone or iPad can now be returned for an Apple Gift Card, too."

I hope these are not being exported:
Exporting e-waste overseas, where it's dismantled and processed in unimaginably dangerous and harmful.