Category: Progressive

Coming – $470M GM plant to build and sell electrified vehicles in China


SAIC already plans to build an electric Lavida with Volkswagen

Building on its current momentum within the region, General Motors announced it will be part of a new venture to construct an electrified vehicle factory in China.

GM is joining SAIC Motor Corp Ltd and Wuling Motors to build the $470 million plant. A GM representative said the factory will be dedicated to producing only “new energy vehicles,” China’s term for battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Annual capacity is expected to be 200,000 vehicles per year…

This new factory expands on a collaboration already in place between GM and SAIC Motors. Last month, GM announced that it is creating a new vehicle family from the ground up, which will replace several existing models. SAIC Motors is working alongside GM to develop the powertrain architecture and engine for this new line…

GM noted that this product line will be manufactured and sold in China, Mexico and India, among other regions.

“There are no plans to export the vehicles to mature markets such as the United States,” said GM.

GM does well in China. They sell more Buicks there than anywhere else in the world. Yes, they still look like Buicks to me. But, informed consumers + government support = equals an opportunity to market products more in line with forward-looking values.

Which is why there are no plans to offer any of these cars in the United States.

Welcome to Dismaland — Banksy’s dystopian theme park

Inside the walls of a derelict seaside swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare, UK, mysterious construction over the last month—including a dingy looking Disney-like castle and a gargantuan rainbow-colored pinwheel tangled in plastic—suggested something big was afoot. Suspicion and anticipation surrounding the unusual activity attributed to fabled artist and provocateur Banksy has reached a Willy Wonka-esque fervor. Well, if Banksy’s your bag, continue fervoring

The spectacle has since been revealed to be a pop-up art exhibition in the form of an apocalyptic theme park titled Dismaland – “The UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction” – that will be open to the public for five weeks.

Hardly a better reason to book travel to the UK under – way under – a Conservative government.


More photos inside the article

Thanks, Honeyman

Price of wind energy in United States drops to an all-time low

old and new on the farm
Click to enlargePhoto by DoriL

Wind energy pricing is at an all-time low, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Energy and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory…The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged under 2.5¢/kWh for projects negotiating contracts in 2014, spurring demand for wind energy.

“Wind energy prices–particularly in the central United States–have hit new lows, with utilities selecting wind as the low cost option,” Berkeley Lab Senior Scientist Ryan Wiser said. “Moreover, enabled by technology advancements, wind projects are economically viable in a growing number of locations throughout the U.S.”

Wind is a credible source of new electricity generation in the United States. Wind power capacity additions in the United States rebounded in 2014, with $8.3 billion invested in 4.9 gigawatts of new capacity additions. Wind power has comprised 33% of all new U.S. electric capacity additions since 2007. Wind power currently meets almost 5% of the nation’s electricity demand, and represents more than 12% of total electricity generation in nine states, and more than 20% in three states…

Low wind turbine pricing continues to push down installed project costs. Wind turbine prices have fallen 20% to 40% from their highs back in 2008, and these declines are pushing project-level costs down…

The manufacturing supply chain continued to adjust to swings in domestic demand for wind equipment. Wind sector employment increased from 50,500 in 2013 to 73,000 in 2014. Moreover, the profitability of turbine suppliers has generally rebounded over the last two years…Exports of wind-powered generating sets from the United States rose from $16 million in 2007 to $488 million in 2014…

Despite the significant growth in the domestic supply chain over the last decade, however, far more domestic manufacturing facilities closed in 2014 than opened. With an uncertain domestic market after 2016, some manufacturers have been hesitant to commit additional long-term resources to the U.S. market.

Despite growth in manufacturing, lower costs for consumers – despite extended growth in domestic consumption and exports – everyone has to sit on their hands and wait to see if the know-nothings in the Republican Party can turn out sufficient numbers of the stupid vote to turn our power generation back to coal and the Koch Brothers Brigade.

The age-old questions remain: will what remains of the American middle class figure out how to vote for their own economic best interest, better health for their children and grandchildren – or will the plutocrats prevail and buy another election?

Lowe’s manager fired after switching delivery driver for a racist customer

HIstorical_marker_Last_Confederate_Capitol_Danville_Virginia
Some folks never learn what year they’re in

Marcus Bradley, a delivery driver for Lowe’s Home Improvement in Danville, Va., was making a routine delivery last week when, he said, he received a call from a manager asking him to return the shipment to work.

“I asked him why I couldn’t do it, and he said because you’re black and they don’t want you at the house,” Bradley told ABC affiliate WSET.

Bradley said his manager told him the customer gave the company specific instructions not to send a black employee to the home. When Bradley returned to the store, he was replaced by a white driver…

Bradley, an 11-year veteran of the company, said he was shocked, and so was fellow deliveryman Alex Brooks, who has worked with Bradley for years and was sitting next to him in the delivery truck when the manager called…

Brooks, who is white, told the station he refused to get back in the truck and complete the delivery without his longtime partner.

Bradley told WSET that he didn’t expect his employer to accept the customer’s demand.

“I mean, I thought that Lowe’s would take up for me,” he said.

Chris Ahearn, a Lowe’s spokeswoman, told The Washington Post that the manager involved in the incident has been fired and that the company wants its drivers to know that “we back them completely.”

“We’ve reached out to the drivers and one of our senior executives went to the store to apologize to them in person,” she said. “We have zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and we should never have accepted the terms of the sale with the individuals who were delivered to.”

Of course, I’m pleased to see Lowe’s stand up for civil rights. Their official statement is in the article.

The local TV station interviewed the customer who made the request and she remains unabashedly self-justified in her racism. She fits the mold too often forming American economic and political practices – regardless of the lies used to mask bigotry.

Ignore conservative whiners – Medicare improves your health

In a 15-year study of older Medicare patients, Yale School of Medicine researchers saw an estimated 20% drop in mortality, about 30% fewer hospitalizations, and 40% reduction in deaths after hospitalization…

Published in the July 28 JAMA theme issue on Medicare and Medicaid at 50, the study took a comprehensive look at national trends in mortality, hospitalizations, outcomes, and expenditures from all causes from 1999 to 2013. The team, from the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Yale-New Haven Hospital, analyzed data on 68,374,904 Medicare recipients 65 years of age or older from key demographic groups and geographic areas.

“We are in the midst of a remarkable era of improvements in health and health care in America,” said lead author Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D….co-director of the Clinical Scholars Program. “This decline represents millions of hospitalizations averted and hundreds of thousands of deaths delayed.”

“The news should give us reassurance about our current efforts, but not make us complacent. We should seek to continue our advances in technology, health behaviors and policies, and quality of care — and seek to continue this remarkable trend,” Krumholz added.

Krumholz and his team also found that the total number of hospitalizations for major surgery decreased over the course of the study. The average length of time spent in the hospital declined from 5 to 4 days, and the average inpatient costs per Medicare fee-for-service recipient declined from $3,290 to $2,801. The findings were consistent across geographic and demographic groups.

Now, imagine how much better this good news might be – if we kicked whiners and ideologues out of Congress and concentrated on solid science, best administrative practices and took as the single goal improving health and healthcare for all Americans.

That would really be good news.

Idjits ready to whine about “Death Panels” all over again!

foxnation-death-panels (1)

You’ll probably be hearing a lot about death panels these next few days.

That’s because Medicare, the federal insurance program for elderly Americans, wants to start reimbursing doctors for having conversations with their elderly patients about death. Those talks might cover things like how much medical treatment a person is willing to endure in exchange for the chance of a few more months on the planet, and the circumstances under which a person would prefer to let go.

Similar ideas were stripped out of the the Affordable Care Act after that great medical intellect Sarah Palin started using the provocative term “death panels” to describe them. It was picked up by Obama-haters everywhere and the end-of-life counseling notion was soon declared DOA. A lot of [opportunist] media outlets used the language to describe Medicare’s announcement…

You can pretty much count on the death-panel trolls crawling back—some of them might even be running for president. Times have changed, and we’ve probably gotten smarter on this, but you can count on some of the old death-panel trolls to come crawling back—and some of them might even be running for president. We’ll see. In any case, they will be profoundly and tragically wrong. The proposed conversations will not only save the healthcare system a bundle, they will improve the quality and duration of people’s final days. Even tea partiers will benefit from the policy, which, if it survives its critics, will almost certainly be adopted by private insurers. (Some are already doing it.)

Michael Mechanic supplements the article with an earlier interview of author, surgeon, and New Yorker staff writer Atul Gawande, whose best-seller “Being Mortal” covers this topic. A worthwhile read. Click the link up top to RTFA.

I visit this topic from time-to-time. As a cranky old geek, questions of mortality are closer to my own life than most. As I said in January, “We had our first Death Panel get-together with my wife’s doctor a few weeks back. I have nothing but contempt for the conservative idjits who coined that term – so, of course, I deliberately use it as a joke. My wife’s doctor didn’t smile.”

Weed the People

WeedThePeople

“A line this long that never ends and everybody is happy,” marveled Jim Leighton, a 30-year Oregon resident. “Isn’t that great?” He and some 1,300 others stood in a queue that snaked around the block in the sweltering Portland heat Friday afternoon, waiting for entry to an event where they could get up to seven grams of marijuana for nothing more than a smile and a handshake.

Oregon is the fourth state in the United States, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize marijuana for recreational use for adults 21 years and older. But even after parts of the law went into effect Wednesday that legalized possession and growing of small amounts, marijuana still cannot be sold to the general public.

So growers and medical dispensaries at Weed the People found their way around the law by giving away their weed for free, some hoping to use it as a marketing tool later…

On midnight Wednesday as the law went into effect, hundreds gathered on Burnside bridge in downtown Portland in celebration. The bridge was billowing with smoke as the clock struck midnight. But while the original plan was to hand out free samples of marijuana, the overwhelming turnout halted the giveaway.

Two days later, the free handouts proceeded as planned at Weed the People, thought to be the first formal event with free cannabis giveaways – after attendees paid a $40 admission fee to attend.

The alcohol-free event lasted for seven hours, as attendees mulled around to test out smoking devices; relaxed on comfy chairs and listened to records in a “chill out area”; and waited in a line that wound through the inside of a warehouse to enter the “Grow Garden”, the highly secured and roped off area where they could pick up their free goodies. One growing entity, Green Bodhi Gardens, said it brought more than 2,000 grams divided into one-gram jars in anticipation of the crowds…

Restrictions notwithstanding, “people want to celebrate,” said event organizer Josh Taylor. “Oregonians are big on sharing!”

The easiest thing to share still is Good News. As more and more folks are exposed to the reality of attitude-alteration with substances like cannabis versus craptastic amounts of alcohol, mellow stoners versus combative drunks, progress towards an understanding of reality outside the boundaries of conventional politics continues to grow – and grow.

Our culture, our government, our politicians may be characterized by ignorance, stupidity, superstition and bigotry. The fact remains that exposure to reality changes folks’ minds. It’s always too gradual for many; but, it’s inevitable. Even faster if you get on board the freedom train. :)

Girl Scouts turn down $100K from gender bigot

Last May the Girl Scouts took a historic stance for inclusivity and made their long-term policy on accepting transgender girls into their troops official, much to the chagrin of bigots everywhere. Unfortunately, some of those bigots have bank. Fortunately, there are good people in the world too.

An unnamed $100,000 donor sent the Queen Anne offices of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington a note last May asking the chapter to “guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.”

Council CEO Megan Ferland returned the donation, which would have sent 500 girls to camp and helped the troop meet nearly a quarter of their annual fundraising goal, with a note saying “Girl Scouts is for every girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.”

An Indiegogo has now been set up to help raise back the funds returned to the donor.

SeattleMet reports that the Gender Justice League, an organization designed to support Seattle’s transgender community, has offered to help promote the Indiegogo campaign.

$172,690 has so far been donated to the Indiegogo campaign in a single day. The campaign’s stretch goals will go towards helping the estimated 2,000-plus girls who will require financial assistance to participate in Girl Scouts over the next year.

Bravo! An example of real heart, principled courage, rewarding an old organization with the good sense to change with the times – in a progressive direction.