China’s environmental goals are reshaping global car design


BMW I3 electric testing by the LAPD

For global automakers, China is becoming the new California.

The U.S. state grabbed the lead a few years ago in establishing fuel-efficiency standards to clean up urban smog. Now, as China struggles with its air-pollution crisis, Beijing increasingly influences the models and technology Detroit, Europe and Japan sell around the world.

In response to government rules and incentives that have spurred electric-car sales in China, automakers are beefing up their global electric-vehicle and plug-in offerings. General Motors Co. plans to make a plug-in hybrid version of every Cadillac model. Ford Motor Co. has budgeted $4.5 billion to develop 13 new EVs and plug-in hybrids by 2020, and China is a big reason for both automakers. Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz is selling five plug-ins in China, two of which also sell in the U.S. Similarly, BMW AG is engineering plug-in hybrids it sells worldwide to meet China’s electric-drive mandates.

❝“Originally we started with California rules, so the starting point for us was clearly the U.S.,” said Klaus Froehlich, BMW’s global head of product development. “Now, China is a key market. It is very important and the regulations are quite difficult.”

Decisions made in Beijing already are affecting cars people drive in Dallas and Los Angeles. That’s because automakers tend to design new models to sell in multiple regions — and China is the world’s largest auto market…

Even gasoline engines are getting a global tweak to meet Chinese fuel-efficiency standards: Cadillac specifically designed the most powerful engine in its CT6 sedan, a twin-turbo 3 liter, to avoid stiff Chinese taxes on any engine over 3 liters…

While China wants to boost sales and become a key destination for global automakers to sell new models, it also wants cleaner air. So it now requires that agency- and government-owned companies’ fleets consist of at least 30 percent plug-in hybrids or electric cars. If they don’t comply, they risk losing important subsidies for utilities such as electricity and water. The subsidies can be the difference between profit and loss, said Michael Dunne, president of Dunne Automotive…

The country already sells far more electric-car models than the U.S., with 30 available now. That will rise to 80 by 2020, though many of them will come from China’s small domestic producers, according to IHS Automotive. The U.S. has just a handful of models now; 44 will be available in 2020…

“The Chinese government will do whatever is possible to make people feel comfortable with EVs,” Dunne said.

The American government will do whatever is possible to make people feel comfortable with lots of guns.

Aside from my cynicism, the article makes me pleased that an alternative to the short-range stupidity of the American market exists. Like anyone concerned with environmental issues I get to stand back in awe of the blank brains of my fellow citizens who look ahead at a couple years of lowered gasoline prices and rush right out to buy the biggest SUV on the block.

No thought about environmental impact. No consideration for what cars add to the sum of a deteriorating climate. Not even a trace of reflection about what it will cost to feed and maintain the beast when oil prices get back up to the “standards” fossil fuel barons from Saudi Arabia to Texas require to support their own addictions.

Previous fallbacks existed in a vacuum. Now the world’s economics are shifting and Uncle Sugar no longer is the only game in town. Manufacturers who want to be profitable on a global scale will have to design products for a global market.

Homeland Security chose to ignore anti-government movement, militias


Daryl Johnson + whistle blowing = office shutdown by Homeland Security

Daryl Johnson once worked in the branch of the Department of Homeland Security that studied the threats posed by antigovernment groups. His former office was shut down more than five years ago.

But when members of an armed group took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon last week, Mr. Johnson was not surprised.

In 2009, the former analyst wrote a report that warned of a growing antigovernment movement and the possible recruitment of returning military veterans that could “lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone-wolf extremists.

His words drew fierce criticism from Republican lawmakers and conservative news media, labeling the report an unfair assessment of legitimate criticisms of the government. The document was retracted after Janet Napolitano, who was then the Homeland Security secretary, apologized to veterans, and the Extremism and Radicalization Branch was quietly dismantled.

Now, as the takeover of the remote federal wildlife preserve enters its second week, a renewed focus is being placed on the so-called militia movement and on the efforts of the federal government, particularly the Department of Homeland Security, to identify and combat potential threats.

First, RTFA. It describes the abandonment of any consideration of right-wing domestic terrorism once the furor over Timothy McVeigh’s mass murder in Oklahoma City had died down. This was followed by Bush’s bright, shiny new Department of Homeland Security – cowed by the Republican Party, cringing in the corner they painted themselves into through fear of right-wing mobs like the Tea Party created by creeps like the two Dicks, Armey and Cheney.

The rebirth of proto-fascist militias was inevitable. Between a racist base, redemption-seeking religious fundamentalists and the lineage of conservative anarchists who reject republican government, American history is always ready to reap what was sown by the Confederacy.

The cowardice of Establishment Liberals from the time of Bill Clinton through Barack Obama parallels their distant kin before the Civil War. Importing slaves was made illegal in 1808. The law was never enforced. The market for slave-produced profits was too great for Union liberals to confront. Peace at any price is always acceptable to both liberals and conservatives if the profits are dispersed sufficiently.

So, we can expect studies, panels, reports, press conferences and more tiptoeing around the fact that American-born right-wing extremists kill a helluva lot more Americans than any Islamist nutballs.

Gun-toting idjit militias grew by more than one-third in the last year


Just another militia — less camo

In its annual count of militias…the Southern Poverty Law Center identified 276 militia groups – up from 202 in 2014, a 37 percent increase.

The number represents a renewal of growth after several years of declines. The movement grew explosively after President Obama was elected, from 42 groups in 2008 to a peak of 334 in 2011 before declining in recent years.

What’s happening in Oregon was entirely predictable.

“We believe these armed extremists have been emboldened by what they saw as a clear victory at the Cliven Bundy ranch and the fact that no one was held accountable for taking up arms against agents of the federal government,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project.

Among the militiamen occupying buildings at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, Oregon, are Cliven Bundy’s sons, Ammon and Ryan Bundy.

“When the federal government was stopped from enforcing the law at gunpoint, it energized the entire movement,” Beirich said. “The fact is, Bundy is still a free man and has not paid the money he owes to the federal government – and the militiamen who aimed rifles at federal agents have gotten away with it.”

Take a peek sometime at the Hatewatch Blog — another jog in the road to insanity preferred by the mixture of gun nuts and racist rightwing anarchists.

1 percenters — The League of Extraordinary Assholes

The psychologist Paul K. Piff has shown that there is a reliable correlation between wealth and inconsiderate behaviour. Wealthy people are more likely to exhibit rudeness in cars, take more than equal shares of available goods, and think they deserve special treatment…When the sheer luck of the birthright lottery is converted via psychological magic into a sense of entitlement, expectations of special treatment are predictable. Piff has coined a memorable label for the phenomenon: the asshole effect.

The asshole effect confirms experimentally the arguments of philosopher Aaron James’s 2012 book, Assholes: A Theory. Like George W. Bush, some people are born on third base and think they’ve hit a triple…Resentment, after all, is the rational response of non-jerks when faced with the over-entitled behaviour of jerks. It’s not the rudeness that people hate so much as the assumption jerks make that they are allowed to be rude.

This isn’t always a function of wealth — often it’s just of narcissism and assumed superiority. I know several witless academic egomaniacs who routinely give themselves a free pass to be uncivil. But because wealth is the most obvious marker of status in capitalist societies, it is also the most powerful lever of assholery. It is no coincidence that the depredation of such people occurs most often in cases where they are confronted with the tedium of dealing with service people or, worse, of competing with other citizens for the attention of such service people…

RTFA. Kingwell evolves [devolves?] into a comparison of assholes and simple jerks. Opportunity exists – greater or lesser depending on context – for the jerk to achieve self-realization of jerkitude and change their behavior.

More discussion ensues.

I would thank someone for suggesting this; but, I forgot to write it down. Sorry. I’m a jerk.