DOE’s clean-energy loan guarantees costing taxpayers 46% less

If the mainstream media has reported on the U.S. Department of Energy’s loan guarantees for advanced technologies, it’s been about the controversy. Solyndra! But here’s the news you probably haven’t heard: the federal government loan guarantees will cost the American public about 46 percent less than originally estimated because many of the green tech companies are paying back the loans quicker than expected…

U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantees will cost Americans about $2.7 billion, down from the $5 billion originally estimated, Think Progress is reporting, citing Herb Allison, ex-national finance chairman for Sen. John McCain. The DOE had already recently forecast the loans, which were committed to companies that produced everything from wind farms to cellulosic ethanol and solar power plants, to cost about $3 billion. For comparison, taxpayers subsidized Big Oil to the tune of $70 billion between 2002 and 2008

DOE loans towards clean-energy projects have been a divisive issue as the government looks to narrow its budget deficit and analysts and politicos debate over the dynamics of weaning the country off of fossil fuels…DOE loans have also been a point of contention among start-up automakers looking for funding for alt-fuel vehicles.

Last month, extended-range plug-in utility vehicle maker Bright Automotive shut down after accusing the federal government of taking too long to process its $400 million in loan requests. The future of Fisker Automotive, maker of the extended-range luxury sedan Karma, has also been called into question because of that company’s inability to secure most of the $520 million in loans it was slated to get from the DOE.

Efficiencies, proof of the loan granting-process over almost all of the companies involved means nothing to beancounters – whether the whine derives from intellectual dishonesty or right-wing ideology.

There are set and stable procedures for federal loans. Believe me, the paperwork isn’t reduced by any comparison with private loans. The essential difference is aid to small business and advancing the public good. There isn’t anyone left other than True Believers who accept the Republican Party fiction about any concern for small business or the public in general.

Some of these pundits and panderers blather on about these loans as if we the people lose money on every one. Folks, it’s just like banks – you don’t lose money unless there’s a default. The whole program has not only been sound – with damned few flops – it’s been profitable. That’s the significant difference between several billions of dollars the Feds have loaned in the quest for alternative energy savings – and the tens of billions Congress and the last Republican administration handed over on a silver platter to Big Oil as subsidies.

Encyclopaedia Britannica will end print editions

Encyclopaedia Britannica has said that it will stop publishing print editions of its flagship encyclopedia for the first time since the sets were originally published more than 200 years ago.

The book-form of Encyclopaedia Britannica has been in print since it was first published in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1768. It will stop being available when the current stock runs out, the company said. The Chicago-based company will continue to offer digital versions of the encyclopedia.

Officials said the end of the printed, 32-volume set has been foreseen for some time.

“This has nothing to do with Wikipedia or Google,” Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. President Jorge Cauz said. “This has to do with the fact that now Britannica sells its digital products to a large number of people.”

The top year for the printed encyclopedia was 1990, when 120,000 sets were sold, Cauz said. That number fell to 40,000 just six years later in 1996, he said. The company started exploring digital publishing the 1970s. The first CD-ROM version was published in 1989 and a version went online in 1994.

The final hardcover encyclopedia set is available for sale at Britannica’s website for $1,395…

Online versions of the encyclopedia now serve more than 100 million people around the world, the company said, and are available on mobile devices. The encyclopedia has become increasingly social as well, Cauz said, because users can send comments to editors.

A printed encyclopedia is obsolete the minute that you print it,” Cauz said. “Whereas our online edition is updated continuously.”

Search is the deciding factor. There will be those raised with print who find it difficult to adapt and change. They will be followed by generations that will read about that question — on their digital devices.

Dumb teen text message of the day

A northwest Arkansas teenager thought it would be funny to text a random phone number saying she hid a body, but the joke backfired.

Of all the local phone numbers she could have chosen, the 15-year-old Rogers girl picked one that belonged to a police detective. Police found the girl’s address by tracing her cellphone number.

The…text: “I hid the body … Now what?” to a random phone number. The teen said she got the idea for the prank from a posting on the website Pinterest.

Police didn’t find the prank funny and say it tied up some of the department’s resources.

The girl was released with a warning.

No one ever said teen pranks has to be bright or creative. Texting a copper? Terrific!

Schools get to choose between Pink Slime and ground beef


“Pink slime” just went from a simmer to a boil.

In less than a week this month, the stomach-turning epithet for ammonia-treated ground beef filler suddenly became a potent rallying cry by activists fighting to ban the product from supermarket shelves and school lunch trays. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is set to announce Thursday it will offer schools choice in ground beef purchases in response to requests from districts…

“It sounds disgusting,” said food policy expert Marion Nestle, who notes that the unappetizing nickname made it easier for the food movement to flex its muscles over this cause.

“A lot of people have been writing about it. Therefore, more people know about it, therefore more people are queasy about it, particularly when you start thinking about how this stuff turns up in school lunches,” said Nestle, a professor at New York University…

The controversy centers on “lean finely textured beef,” a low-cost ingredient in ground beef made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated to about 100 F and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product, made by South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc., also is exposed to “a puff of ammonium hydroxide gas” to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.

There are no precise numbers on how prevalent the product is, and it does not have to be labeled as an ingredient. Past estimates have ranged as high as 70 percent; one industry officials estimates it is in at least half of the ground meat and burgers in the United States.

It has been on the market for years, and federal regulators say it meets standards for food safety. But advocates for wholesome food have denounced the process as a potentially unsafe and unappetizing example of industrialized food production…

Continue reading

Gay Rights group files suit against homophobe evangelist for inciting persecution in Uganda

A Ugandan gay rights group filed suit against an American evangelist, Scott Lively, in federal court in Massachusetts on Wednesday, accusing him of violating international law by inciting the persecution of gay men and lesbians in Uganda.

The lawsuit maintains that beginning in 2002, Mr. Lively conspired with religious and political leaders in Uganda to whip up anti-gay hysteria with warnings that gay people would sodomize African children and corrupt their culture.

The Ugandan legislature considered a bill in 2009, proposed by one of Mr. Lively’s Ugandan contacts, that would have imposed the death sentence for the “offense of homosexuality.” That bill languished after an outcry from the United States and European nations that are among major aid donors to Uganda, but was reintroduced last month.

Mr. Lively is being sued by the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda under the alien tort statute, which allows foreigners to sue in American courts in situations asserting the violation of international law. The suit says that Mr. Lively’s actions resulted in the persecution, arrest, torture and murder of gay men and lesbians in Uganda.

…Mr. Lively said he did not know about the lawsuit…he said…I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue…”

Mr. Lively is…the author of “The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,” which says that Nazism was a movement inspired by homosexuals, and “Seven Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child,” a guide to prevent what he calls “pro-homosexual indoctrination.”

He has traveled to Uganda, Latvia and Moldova to warn Christian clergy members to defend their countries against what he says is an onslaught by gay rights advocates based in the West…

Mr. Lively is one of many conservative American evangelicals who were active in Uganda. He and others tried to distance themselves from the legislation after the international outcry over the death penalty provision. Ms. Spees said the lawsuit singled him out because “his role was critical…”

Yup. Let’s carry the message of hate and harm around the world from American Christian fundamentalists. What a gift to give.

Creeps like this have a long and contemptible history inside American Christian sects. Over the centuries you only need to substitute one word for another. You can substitute Jew or Catholic, Negro or Puerto Rican, peacenik or feminist – for homosexual – and you see the face of their hatred.

New Jersey capitol [temporarily] survives toilet paper emergency

City employees are flush with relief today after officials with Mayor Tony Mack’s administration said they’d moved forward with an emergency purchase of toilet paper and paper towels as supplies dwindle in city buildings.

Meanwhile, Mack’s office announced last night it had accepted donations from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to provide a six-month supply of toilet paper…The move ends a stalemate between council and Mayor Tony Mack’s administration that has lasted since September when council first rejected the $46,000 contract over concerns about a $4,000 price tag for hot drink cups.

Stocks of toilet paper have been dwindling for weeks and are nearly depleted at City Hall and police headquarters. The emergency contract with the Pennsauken-based Amsan authorizes the city to purchase $16,000 worth of toilet paper, paper towels, and toilet-seat covers…

In a letter to Mack earlier this week, PETA offered to step in with a six-month supply of toilet paper for city buildings. The catch: it’s printed to say, “Slaughterhouses are so filthy that more than half of all meat is contaminated with fecal bacteria. Wipe cruelty from your diet. Go vegan. PETA.”

“If Trenton’s City Council cannot reach an agreement today, I have a cheeky solution that will help offset your financial troubles and call attention to public health and cruelty to animals at the same time,” PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman wrote. “This unique bathroom reading material would help city employees consider a vegan diet, and prevent their health from going down the toilet.”

Meanwhile, Dyson is donating 15 of its Airblade hand-dryers, machines that produce 400-mile-per-hour sheets of wind that push water off hands instead of drying them with the use of a heating element.

“Using paper to dry hands can be costly and creates waste,” said James Dyson, inventor of the machines. “With Airblade, our engineers have developed a way to dry hands hygienically and efficiently.”

The company claims the machines can dry 22 pairs of hands for the cost of a single paper towel and could generate $220,000 in savings over five years.

Sounds like the City Council would probably refuse to pay the electric bill for the hand dryers, as well.

Dontcha love beancounters?