Search for crocodiles freed in southern Africa floods continues

As many as 10,000 farmed crocodiles are still on the loose in the Limpopo river between Botswana and South Africa, following the worst floods in more than a decade.

Surging waters forced the owners of the farm where some 15,000 of the animals are kept to open flood gates to stop the crocodiles being crushed.

The farmers say the hunt for the escaped crocodiles is continuing each night, and they have urged locals who spot any not to try to capture them without help.

I can’t keep a straight face. The BBC weather dude reminds me of no one more than Eric Idle.

VW switches on largest solar park at a US auto factory

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This mostly is a VW press release; so, forgive the first person language. It’s still an achievement.

In December 2011, the Volkswagen plant near Chattanooga, TN was certified LEED Platinum. That’s a difficult level to reach – as we described at the time – but the one billion dollars the company spent there fit snugly into the VW corporate storyline: we’re going to make cleaner cars at cleaner plants. We’re going to reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent (between 2006 and 2015). We’re going to make sure our production facilities are 25 percent more “environmentally compatible.” We’re going to Think Blue.

No other factory, so far, has achieved the Platinum award.”

Today, VW made good on one important piece of its LEED Platinum promise: generating its own clean energy. The huge new solar park that was turned on today was always part of the Chattanooga plan, but its official start marks one more way that VW is at the forefront when it comes to building cars cleanly…

Located just a short bus ride away from the factory, the 65-acre solar park (33 of which are the solar panels themselves) is the largest single array in Tennessee. It is also the largest solar park at a US auto factory. It is made up of 33,600 individual solar panels that together generate 9.58 megawatts of DC power (that’s at the panels, it’s 7.6 MW of AC power going into the plant) and 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity a year. That’s 12.5 percent of the plant’s power needs. In CO2 terms, this means emissions are reduced by 6,675 tons a year, or the amount that 360 average US homes would generate.

VW currently builds the Passat in Tennessee, and last year – the first year of full operation – the company built 152,546 vehicles there, beating the target of 145,000. While most of these are sold in the US, some are exported to our North American neighbors as well as South Korea and the Middle East. The solar park is international as well, since VW partnered with Phoenix Solar, a German solar company with operations around the world, and Silicon Ranch…

Wolfram Thomas, Group Chief Officer for the Environment, Energy and New Business Areas, said today that, “All our 100 plants are to be environmentally optimized. All our plants must become 25 percent more environmentally compatible.” We look forward to seeing how this all plays out, wherever the sun shines.

Good for you, VW. Corporate monsters round the world talk a lot about environmental goals. Nice to see one put their money where their mouth is.

Honest rating agency punished for telling the truth – the Big 3 frauds carry on as usual

The big 3 government backed ratings agencies (technically known as Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization) – S&P, Moody’s and Fitch – all committed massive fraud, which was a prime cause of the 2008 economic crash.

They took bribes for higher ratings, “sold their soul“, engaged in a “culture of covering up improper ratings“, and said that anyone who believed them was an idiot…

They also played games to avoid downgrading U.S. credit. Basically, they scratched the government’s back, so the government scratched their back.

On the other hand, government-backed rating agency Egan-Jones has consistently been more honest and forthright in its ratings of countries and corporations, and more aggressive than Moody’s or S&P in downgrading U.S. credit (and see this).

So guess which rating agency just got stripped for a year and a half of its government-backed rating agency status?

Yup … Egan-Jones.

Given that the government’s whole strategy in dealing with the financial crisis is to cover up the fraud (the “financial reform” legislation didn’t do anything much to reform rating agency shenanigans), honesty cannot go unpunished.

I brought up the attempt to slap down Egan-Jones for truth-telling a few months back. Bill Cohan wrote a great piece about this crap over at Bloomberg News. This article by Barry Ritholtz shows the world the result of playing fair with Wall Street and the Washington Wizards.

Republican War on Women – New Mexico style

If a Republican legislator in New Mexico gets her way, women who have abortions after being raped could face jail time for “tampering with evidence.”

State Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R-Carlsbad) introduced a bill yesterday that requires rape victims to see their pregnancies through during the course of their sexual assault trial, or be charged with third-degree felony evidence tampering.

Tampering with evidence shall include procuring or facilitating an abortion, or compelling or coercing another to obtain an abortion, of a fetus that is the result of criminal sexual penetration or incest with the intent to destroy evidence of the crime.

If convicted, a rape victim could face up to three years in prison.

The dimwit Republican who introduced this piece of crap legislation has changed her story a couple of times over the course of the day as it finally sank into her brain that normal human beings were outraged. By this evening’s news cycle, she was trying to claim that someone in the legislature printing office must have misprinted her bill. She will withdraw it – “correct it” – and reintroduce it, tomorrow.

Just another link in the chain that Republicans would fasten to the ankles of every American woman – if we let them.