Northwest China to be home for world’s biggest solar power plant

Two Chinese companies have announced plans to build a solar power plant in northwestern China that could one day be the largest photovoltaic solar project in the world…

China Technology Development Group Corp and privately held Qinghai New Energy Group will begin building a 30 megawatt solar power station in China’s Qaidam Basin this year with an initial investment of $150 million. The project, which will combine thin-film and traditional silicon-based technologies that turn the sun’s rays into electricity, ultimately will produce 1 gigawatt of power, the companies said, without giving a timeframe…

The initial phase of the project is … itself one of the largest solar farms ever announced in China,” Pavel Molchanov wrote in a client note, adding that the Chinese government is beginning to offer more incentives for solar power projects.

“While PV demand has been historically driven by a small number of key countries, the demand profile should become more geographically diverse over time,” Molchanov added.

Who – besides me – is not surprised.

Bust Out the Weed: It’s Legal Now (Kinda Sorta Not Really)

Thanks to Massachusetts voters passing Question 2 on the ballet in November, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is decriminalized as of Friday.

Now, getting caught with weed is like getting a parking ticket, or as the Globe puts it, a building code citation. If caught with pot, you’ll have to pay $100 or dispute the citation in court within 21 days.

Sounds like less of a hassle than getting arrested, if nothing else. Anyway, we’d like to declare January 2 Marijuana Possession Day in Massachusetts.

It’s a “token” holiday. Har!.

When is a school not a school? When it’s run by politically-correct dimwits who drop the word “school” as too negative!

A new £4.7m primary school in Sheffield is facing criticism for dropping the word “school” from its title after governors decided the term had “negative connotations”.

The headteacher of Sheffield’s Watercliffe Meadow, Linda Kingdon, said the south Yorkshire school, which is due to open on Monday, will instead be called a “place for learning”.

“We decided from an early stage we didn’t want to use the word ‘school’,” she told local newspaper the Sheffield Star.

“This is Watercliffe Meadow, a place for learning. One reason was many of the parents of the children here had very negative connotations of school.

If you drink too much Earl Grey tea your brain goes soft.

Jack Russell finds plans of Queen’s residence

All right. I couldn’t resist it. Jack Russell is the breed of dog in the story.

Secret agent – with Frisbee
Daylife/Reuters Pictures

Royal security chiefs have launched an investigation after plans of the Queen’s official residence in Scotland were found near a footpath.

The drawings, with an accompanying letter, were discovered under a bush on a path leading to the Water of Leith, in Roseburn, Edinburgh, by the Daily Record newspaper’s agony aunt, Joan Burnie, as she took her Jack Russell terrier, called Polly, for a walk.

She told the paper: “Polly saw them underneath a bush on the path and came out with the plans in her mouth.

The Daily Record said it would hand the plans to security staff at the palace.

Patriots to the core.

U.S. plans to expand Afghan military operations. Anything else?

Chuckle. It hasn’t been long since the drive to Taos looked like this.

The United States and NATO are planning to open and expand supply lines through Central Asia to deliver fuel, food and other goods to a military mission in Afghanistan that is expected to grow by tens of thousands of troops in the months ahead, American and alliance diplomats and military officials say.

The plan to open new paths through Central Asia reflects an American-led effort to seek out a more reliable alternative to the route from Pakistan through the strategic Khyber Pass, which was closed Tuesday by Pakistani security forces when they opened an offensive against militants in the region.

The militants have shown they can threaten shipments through the pass into Afghanistan, burning U.S. cargo trucks and Humvees over recent weeks. More than 80 percent of the supplies for U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan now flow through Pakistan. But the new arrangements could leave Washington more reliant on cooperation with such authoritarian countries as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which have poor human rights records.

They’re different from Pakistan?

Continue reading

Matron leaves disabled man in freezing bus. She was late for church.

A severely disabled Manhattan man spent 17 terrifying hours trapped alone on a dark and frigid school bus when he was abandoned in a parking lot on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Bus matron Linda Hockaday, who has been charged with reckless endangerment,told police she left Ed Wynn Rivera sleeping in his seat “because she was late for church,” police sources said.

She knew he was there,” the source said. “She was hoping one of the other workers would notice him.”

Rivera,who is 22 but has the mental capacity of a toddler, might have been rescued sooner, but Brooklyn cops missed him in a search of the bus depot. Cops searched the wrong lot while Rivera sat strapped helplessly in his seat in a lot hidden behind a corrugated steel fence.

He sat there all night long on New Year’s Eve as the mercury plunged to 15 degrees.

He’s lucky he didn’t die from hypothermia. Good thing his family kept pushing everyone “in charge” to keep up the search.

‘Safest’ seat discussion gets Muslim family kicked off plane

AirTran officials meet the public
Daylife/AP photo by PR Newswire

A Muslim family removed from an airliner Thursday after passengers became concerned about their conversation say AirTran officials refused to rebook them, even after FBI investigators cleared them of wrongdoing…

Atif Irfan said federal authorities removed eight members of his extended family and a friend after passengers heard them discussing the safest place to sit and misconstrued the nature of the conversation.

Irfan, a U.S. citizen and tax attorney, said he was “impressed with the professionalism” of the FBI agents who questioned him, but said he felt mistreated when the airline refused to book the family for a later flight…

“The FBI agents actually cleared our names,” said Inayet Sahin, Irfan’s sister-in-law. “They went on our behalf and spoke to the airlines and said, ‘There is no suspicious activity here. They are clear. Please let them get on a flight so they can go on their vacation,’ and they still refused.”

Irfan said he believes his family is owed an apology.

“Really, at the end of the day, we’re not out here looking for money. I’m an attorney. I know how the court system works. We’re basically looking for someone to say… ‘We’re apologizing for treating you as second-class citizens.'”

Air Tran tries to pass off this stupidity as the responsibility of Homeland Insecurity and the TSA. Personally, I don’t care which dimwit initiated the boorish behavior. When you get past whatever paranoia caused this family to be mistreated, you apologize and try to get their life and travels back on course – if you’re actually an airline worth doing business with.

The only logic in this event reflects the bigotry of our nation after eight years of fear and hatred, American-style.

Update: AirTran apologizes. Thanks, K B

Virginity Pledges Don’t Work


The U.S. government spends more than $200 million annually on abstinence-promotion programs, including virginity pledges.

A new study of a federal survey taken in the 1990s finds that teens who took virginity pledges are just as likely as other teens to have sex before marriage. Importantly, when the pledgers broke their vows they were less likely to use birth control, including condoms.

Taking a pledge doesn’t seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior,” said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose led the study. “But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking.”

These teens who’d promised to avoid premarital sex actually ended up exposing themselves to greater risk of pre-marital pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, despite the hopes of those who support federally funded virginity pledge programs.

Is anyone surprised that dimwit programs run by self-deluded ideologues produced nothing of value?

Air New Zealand flies an engine with Jatropha biofuel

Daylife/AP Photo by Paul Esrcourt

Some in the aviation industry say they could one day be flying the biggest jets across the planet without contributing to climate change — using biofuels.

They also say that it will be easier to convert planes to biofuels than land transport, because there are fewer planes than cars, trucks and buses, and there is a far less complex infrastructure to deal with, comprising only a few hundred airport fueling stations across the globe.

Air New Zealand has joined a clutch of other commercial airlines in testing out alternative fuels.

During a two-hour flight to and from Auckland International Airport, the Air New Zealand crew sought to test how the fuel, made from jatropha plants and blended 50:50 with Jet A1 fuel in the tank of one of four Rolls-Royce engines on a 747-400, stood up to use at high altitudes and in other demanding conditions.

Using jatropha-based fuel still emits carbon dioxide, but the gas is typically recycled in the growing of the feedstock, so there is ostensibly no additional CO2 added to the atmosphere.

The usual teaparty clot of critics who babble about foodstocks – who don’t know a damned thing about how much corn and soy goes into growing hamburgers which they don’t eat – worried about the tests, of course.

The crew over at Reuters who can usually be counted on to be close to reality objected to Jatropha which they called a “poison shrub”. Pretty bloody laughable unless they’re pouring a tot or two of jet fuel into their Starbucks – and not dying from it.

I’ve written before about Jatropha and I’m proud to consider myself an advocate for folks like Tree Oils of India who, like most alternative fuel “growers” aren’t replacing anything other than scrub or fracking cows with the lipid vegetation. Let’s credit Air New Zealand for having more brains and conviction than either nutball neocons or the vegetarian Left.