Competition? The more the merrier.


Suzlon wind farm at Sanodar, India
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Demand for new wind power could far outstrip supply under a new global climate deal, the founder of Asia’s largest wind turbine maker said this week, calling for new manufacturers to help industry to fill orders. Tulsi Tanti, also chairman of India’s Suzlon Energy, said due to the size of the $53.5 billion wind turbine market, he does not consider existing manufacturers as competition.

“The market is so large. With a deal agreed here it will grow even bigger, so there’s a lot of room for the new players,” Tanti said on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen. “The industry hopes to grow more aggressively. The 10 (leading manufacturers) are not able to satisfy these targets, so we need more players…”

“We don’t see much immediate benefit in terms of existing technology, but a clean technology transfer agreement will mobilize resources for new technology, to develop the next generation of wind turbines,” Tanti told Reuters. “It will bring economies of scale that will give us an opportunity to standardize the technology … but the cost of wind technology has to come down to accommodate mass production,” he added, likening it to the auto industry.

With its stake in Germany’s REpower, Suzlon is the world’s third largest wind turbine manufacturer behind Denmark’s Vestas and Spain’s Gamesa.

Wind power could help meet up to 65 percent of the emissions reductions pledged so far by developed nations, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. Tanti said that without a new climate deal, wind power is still forecast to supply some 20 percent of global energy by 2030. With a deal, he said that that could grow to 30 percent, resulting in a 10 percent cut in global carbon emissions.

Come on down and join the fun!

We’ve had decades of oil-based conservatives formulating U.S. energy policy. No wonder we have no one in the top three.

5 indicted – including 3 coppers – in hate crime


Luis Ramirez with his fiancee, Crystal Dillman, before his murder
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Five people, including three police officers, have been indicted on charges related to the beating death of a Latino man in rural Pennsylvania in July 2008…

The indictments come almost six months after a Schuylkill County jury acquitted two teens of aggravated assault and one of murder in the death of Luis Ramirez.

The undocumented Mexican immigrant was beaten into a coma during a street brawl involving the teens and their friends on a residential street in Shenandoah. The incident divided the small, rural mining town along racial lines and became a flash point for racial tensions nationwide.

After the verdict, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell denounced the attack as racially motivated and called on the Justice Department to intervene.

A federal grand jury handed up the indictments last week, and they were unsealed Tuesday. The two young men, Derrick Donchak and Brandon Piekarsky, are accused of a hate crime for beating Ramirez while shouting racial epithets at him, according to the department.
If convicted of hate crime charges, Donchak and Piekarsky face a maximum penalty of life in prison. Donchak also faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted of obstruction, and an additional five years on the charge of conspiring to obstruct justice.

Donchak also faces three counts of conspiring to obstruct justice and related offences. He is accused of attempting to orchestrate a coverup with members of the Shenandoah Police Department, the Justice Department said.

Shenandoah Police Chief Matthew Nestor and Lt. William Moyer and Officer Jason Hayes are charged with conspiring to obstruct justice in the Ramirez investigation. Moyer faces additional charges of witness and evidence tampering and making false statements to the FBI.
Nestor, Moyer and Hayes intentionally failed to “memorialize or record” statements made by Piekarsky about the incident, and “wrote false and misleading official reports” that “intentionally omitted information about the true nature of the assault and the investigation,” the indictment said.

A tragic example of bigotry grounded in a community and its officials – not just points on a compass. The first thing I learned in the civil rights movement – decades ago – is that you can be killed just as dead by a bigot in the North as the South. And the cop pulling up outside your home might not be there to help you.

Fortunately, sometimes you can find a good cop to help you deal with the bad cop.

Does Google dream of electric lawsuits?

Isa Dick Hackett, daughter of the paranoid science fiction genius Philip K Dick, isn’t happy about the new Googlephone. The still unofficial handset may or may not be called the Nexus One, but Isa is already “shocked and dismayed” about intellectual property infringement: Roy Baty and his replicant cohorts in Dock’s novella Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep were all Nexus-6 models.

This is utter nonsense, of course, but the fact that PKD’s daughter is taking legal counsel about the naming of a still non-existent product certainly has a fitting irony. The word “nexus” existed before the Voight-Kampff test was even imagined. Here is the definition from the New Oxford American dictionary: “a connection or series of connections linking two or more things.” The origin of the word the 17th century. It is also a Dark Horse comic book.

We wouldn’t be surprised if Hackett did actually manage to make a case, though, and further leech money from her father’s legacy. Motorola licensed the name “droid” from Lucasfilm to avoid legal troubles, although in that case the shortening of the word “android” could actually originate in Star Wars. Hackett is rather more sure of things than her father ever was. “In my mind, there is a very obvious connection to my father’s novel” she told the New York Times.

What can we take away from this? First, clearly, that copyright lengths should be reduced (PKD died in 1982, 27 years ago). And second, that the Googlephone will almost certainly be called the Nexus One. The name has been used by Google in a United States Patent and Trademark Office filing, and by the handset’s manufacturer, HTC, in an FCC filing.

One of the few categories of almost-human being that I hate with a passion is sleazy, opportunist lawyers. Even those who don’t become politicians.

The only thing worse are the creeps who keep them in business.

Secrets of noctilucent clouds unlocked by NASA’s AIM satellite


Noctilucent clouds over Budapest

NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite has captured five complete polar seasons of noctilucent (NLC) or “night-shining” clouds with an unprecedented horizontal resolution of 3 miles by 3 miles. Results show that the cloud season turns on and off like a “geophysical light bulb” and they reveal evidence that high altitude mesospheric “weather” may follow similar patterns as our ever-changing weather near the Earth’s surface…

These bright “night-shining” clouds, which form 50 miles above Earth’s surface, are seen by the spacecraft’s instruments, starting in late May and lasting until late August in the north and from late November to late February in the south. The AIM satellite reports daily observations of the clouds at all longitudes and over a broad latitude range extending from 60 to 85 degrees in both hemispheres.

The clouds usually form at high latitudes during the summer of each hemisphere. They are made of ice crystals formed when water vapor condenses onto dust particles in the brutal cold of this region, at temperatures around minus 210 to minus 235 degrees Fahrenheit. They are called “night shining” clouds by observers on the ground because their high altitude allows them to continue reflecting sunlight after the sun has set below the horizon. They form a spectacular silvery blue display visible well into the night time.

Continue reading

Lord of the Nerds – Ben Bernanke is Time’s “Person of the Year”

Time magazine on Wednesday announced Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as its 2009 Person of the Year. Bernanke will be featured on the cover of the magazine that hits stores Friday…

Time called Bernanke “the most powerful nerd on the planet.”

“The story of the year was a weak economy that could have been much, much weaker. Thank the man who runs the Federal Reserve, our mild-mannered economic overlord,” the article said.

Bernanke is considered a scholar of the Great Depression. A series of his writings were compiled into the book “Essays of the Great Depression.”

Michael Grunwald, who authored Time’s article, on Wednesday told NBC’s “Today” that “basically [Bernanke] saw what looked like another depression coming, and he decided he would do whatever it takes to forestall that. And basically, I think he did. It could have been a lot worse.”

Grunwald said, “There are things that he could have done better. One of his responsibilities is for full employment in society, and he hasn’t really stepped up on that, but basically in terms of influencing how the economy went this year, Bernanke was the guy…”

Bernanke was sworn in as Federal Reserve chairman in February 2006. He spent years in academia, as a professor at Princeton, Stanford and New York universities and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology…

Grunwald’s piece aims a little below the lowest common denominator. Even a few Republicans comprehend that Bernanke is not responsible for implementing programs to miraculously provide full employment overnight. Not that they will admit it during the coming mid-term elections.

Bernanke’s expertise in Keynesian reforms and programs derives from his study of what happened when our government did just about everything wrong in the 1930’s – until Roosevelt paid attention to Maynard Keyne’s suggestions. And that great depression was exacerbated by foolishness centered in European banks – not the US crew. Bernanke has the tools added by Leontiev’s macro-economics.

Obama’s implementation is slow and steady as it should be. I doubt we’ll ever hit more than a small percentage of people [and bloggers] who understand that “full employment” means only about half the current number of unemployed – and has been so since the days of Eisenhower.

European Muslims prefer living in mixed communities

Most of Europe’s Muslims want to live in mixed communities, not segregated neighbourhoods, a new report says.

The work by the Open Society Institute (OSI), an independent think-tank, looked at the social integration of Muslims in 11 West European cities…

The report says religious discrimination remains a critical barrier to their participation in European society, and the situation has worsened in recent years…

Nazia Hussein, who supervised the work, says many Muslims are still seen as outsiders.

“The majority of Muslims that we’ve spoken to across 11 cities feel very strongly attached to their neighbourhood and city, they feel quite strongly attached to their country,” she told the BBC. “But at the same time they don’t believe that their fellow countrymen or the wider society sees them as either German or French or English…”

New laws forbidding the wearing of visibly religious symbols or clothing in schools have had a detrimental impact, it says…

City authorities were “fighting residential segregation”, it acknowledged, but educational segregation remains a problem.

The authors conclude that social segregation does matter, but it is of most concern to Muslims themselves.

One of the most interesting points – indicating who is really trying to build a new society – was the success of cities trying to foster an inclusive city identity.

RTFA for more of the points covered.