Ohio voters get to decide on marijuana legalization in November

Ohio citizens will vote on whether to legalize recreational and medicinal marijuana use in November, a decision that could concentrate the state’s legal marijuana business to 10 growers.

Ohio’s secretary of state Jon Husted said…that a measure to legalize marijuana had collected enough signatures to appear on the ballot in the state’s 3 November election.

The measure includes a provision that would allow only 10 growers to grow and sell pot commercially.

Critics, including the state legislature, say this could create a monopoly. The legislature added a measure, called Issue 2, to the ballot that would block monopolies from operating in Ohio.

According to Husted, if both measures are approved, the one introduced by the legislature would take precedence.

Pro-legalization group ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James celebrated the news in a statement.

“Drug dealers don’t care about doing what’s best for our state and its citizens,” James said. “By reforming marijuana laws in November, we’ll provide compassionate care to sick Ohioans, bring money back to our local communities and establish a new industry with limitless economic development opportunities.”

Hope they can make it – or try again in 2016 if this try fails. Presidential elections turn out the most significant cross-section of voters – which would give a progressive move like decriminalizing weed a better chance.

Off-peak elections like the coming turn out the higher proportion of folks afraid of change as a general rule. We’ll see. Good luck, Ohio.

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?

AT&T is BFF with NSA

The telecoms giant AT&T has had an “extraordinary, decades-long” relationship with the National Security Agency…Citing newly disclosed NSA documents dating from 2003 to 2013, the New York Times said in a story published with ProPublica that AT&T was described as “highly collaborative” with an “extreme willingness to help” with government internet surveillance.

In June 2013, the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked thousands of documents to media outlets including the Guardian. The following April, the Guardian and the Washington Post were awarded a Pulitzer prize for reporting on the story.

The new documents show that AT&T gave the NSA access to “billions of emails as they have flowed across its domestic networks”, the Times and ProPublica said. The reports also said AT&T provided “technical assistance” in “wiretapping all internet communications at the United Nations headquarters” in New York City.

The documents also show that the NSA’s budget for its relationship with AT&T was twice as large as that of the next-largest such programme, and that the company placed surveillance equipment in 17 of its US internet hubs.

The Times said the new documents did not name AT&T, but said analysis by its reporters and ProPublica revealed “a constellation of evidence” that pointed to the company…

The Times quoted an AT&T spokesman, Brad Burns, as saying: blah, blah, blah, blah.

You can fill in the gaps with any of the several varieties of bullshit offered on occasions like this by some corporate mouthpiece for the alphabet snoops in question, the government in question and the even more questionable cowards and collaborators in Congress who keep this crap flowing into the waters of our lives.