Kansas politicians aren’t bright enough – yet – to halt stupid economics. Getting close, though.

❝ It was only two months ago that Governor Sam Brownback was offering up the steep tax cuts he enacted in Kansas as a model for President Trump to follow. Yet by the time Republicans in Congress get around to tax reform, Brownback’s fiscal plan could be history — and it’ll be his own party that kills it.

❝ The GOP-controlled legislature in Kansas nearly reversed the conservative governor’s tax cuts…as a coalition of Democrats and newly-elected centrist Republicans came within a few votes of overriding Brownback’s veto of legislation to raise income-tax rates and eliminate an exemption for small businesses that blew an enormous hole in the state’s budget. Brownback’s tax cuts survive for now, but lawmakers and political observers view the surprising votes in the state House and Senate as a strong sign that the five-year-old policy will be substantially erased in a final budget deal this spring. Kansas legislators must close a $346 million deficit by June, and years of borrowing and quick fixes have left them with few remaining options aside from tax hikes or deep spending cuts to education that could be challenged in court. The tax bill would have raised revenues by more than $1 billion over two years.

❝ The Brownback blowback has been a long time coming. Though he won reelection in 2014, the governor has presided over one budget mess after another since then, and all but his staunchest conservative allies have blamed the crisis on reductions in personal tax rates and a provision that exempted 330,000 owners of small businesses from paying income taxes. Brownback has resisted efforts to undo the policies, preferring instead to raise taxes on tobacco, fuel, and other consumer goods. His relationship with Republicans in the legislature deteriorated, and in primary and general elections last year, a wave of Democrats and centrist Republicans defeated many of the conservatives who had stood by him.

The constant Republican fallback to stupid economics experiments. When it falls apart, bills come due, regressive taxes on goods for personal consumption are always the the ultimate quick fix. For corrupt conservative pols.

❝ The GOP may retain a majority in both chambers, but Brownback most definitely does not. “What we’re having is a standoff with the governor holding on to the old days where he had all these people elected,” said Senator Barbara Bollier, a moderate Republican who voters promoted from the state House last year. “They aren’t there anymore, and he can’t let go and follow the will of the people.”

As for Brownback’s legacy, Bollier said: “It’s going down in flames.”

RTFA. Brownback is the kind of economic dunce that Trump and his neo-con cadre in Congress count on for ideas. Hopefully, he’ll screw-up sufficiently that it won’t take the dullest American voters 2 terms to perceive what smells like shite — probably is.

Scientists in Oz crack the carbon-fibre code


Would be nice to have carbon-fibre for less than $450K

❝ Australia’s CSIRO has cracked the carbon-fibre code, and in doing so has opened the floodgates to mass-production of the composite material in Australia.

❝ Currently only a handful of companies around the world are able to manufacture carbon-fibre, each with their own closely-guarded secret recipe. But none have, as yet, cracked the method to producing ultra-lightweight, ultra-strong composite in significant quantities.

But now, CSIRO and Deakin University have, as they put it, “cracked the code” to mass-production through the use of a patented wet spinning line which can produce carbon-fibre that is both stronger and of a higher quality than previously produced…

❝ The CSIRO has patented the technology which has the potential to be a game-changer for the automotive industry. With current technology cost-prohibitive for wider use, carbon-fibre is usually found only on high-end luxury cars or supercars.

With the potential to now mass-produce the composite material, carbon-fibre is set to be cheaper than ever before, possibly leading to application in mass-produced vehicles. Lighter body panels would make cars even more fuel efficient, no bad thing in this day and age of climate change.

❝ The Director of CSIRO Future Industries, Dr Anita Hill, said the development was an important discovery that has the potential to disrupt the status quo in the carbon-fibre industry.

“This facility means Australia can carry out research across the whole carbon fibre value chain: from molecules, to polymers, to fibre, to finished composite parts,” said Dr Hill.

“Together with Deakin, we’ve created something that could disrupt the entire carbon-fibre manufacturing industry.”

More geek globalism providing a market common to existing and emerging industrial nations. It’s enough to make a parochial knee-bender sweat.

Thanks, Honeyman

How a Cold War major asked a forbidden question — it cost him his career.

❝ It was a risk. Dedicating a book to someone I’d had had a five-minute phone conversation with three decades ago. Someone who, last I’d heard, had become a long-haul trucker and whom I’d given up trying to track down.

❝ But I went ahead and dedicated my new book, How the End Begins: The Road to a Nuclear World War III, to Maj. Harold Hering because Maj. Hering sacrificed his military career to ask a Forbidden Question about launching nuclear missiles. A question that exposed the comforting illusions of the so called fail-safe system designed to prevent “unauthorized” nuclear missile launches…

❝ Get ready to twist your launch keys in their slots and send anywhere from one to 50 missiles rocketing toward Russia. World War III is under way.

Or is it? Your launch order codes are “authenticated,” everything seems in order, the seconds tick away. But in what may be the last seconds of your life — for all you know Soviet missiles are about to rain down on the plains — a thought crosses your mind. About “authentication.” It’s supposed to ensure that the launch order comes from the president himself, or (if the president has been killed) from the surviving head of the nuclear chain of command.

❝ But what about that person at the top of the chain of command, the person who gives the order? Has he been “authenticated”? Who authenticates the authenticator? Can the president start a nuclear war on his own authority — his own whim or will — alone?…

Maj. Hering decided to ask his question anyway, regardless of consequences: How could he know that an order to launch his missiles was “lawful”? That it came from a sane president, one who wasn’t “imbalance[d]” or “berserk,” as Maj. Hering’s lawyer eventually, colorfully put it?

RTFA. It’s long, complex, a couple different narratives bound together by Hering’s question. Stick with it and read it all.

How America looked like before the EPA cleaned it up

This is what America looked like before the EPA cleaned it up…It wasn’t pretty


Outflow Pipe from the Oxford Paper Company into Androscoggin River

❝ In 1970, Republican President Richard Nixon signed an executive order creating the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It was a time when pollution made many of our nation’s rivers and streams unsafe for fishing or swimming. Back then, New York City’s air pollution was so thick that you often couldn’t see the city’s iconic bridges. Forty-seven years later, there is serious talk of dismantling the agency, or at least slashing its size by two-thirds.

A present from populist America. Racism and bigotry wasn’t enough.

❝ But what does America look like without the EPA?

❝ From 1971 to 1977 the nascent agency, in an act of prescience, enlisted the services of freelance photographers to help us remember. These photographers captured images of America’s environmental problems before we’d cleaned them up. In 2011, the US National Archives digitized more than 15,000 pictures from the series “Documerica”. Here are some of the most compelling.

…Please read our series on the EPA past and present. It begins here.

Or you could work at putting Trump and his chumps in charge for several years. They will bring all this poison back into our lives.

Sailing Through a Garbage Ocean

The Pacific is full of plastic, home to one of the most famous pollution hotspots in the world, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. There, plastic trash swirls around in a circular ocean current, or gyre, all around the Pacific between California and Hawaii.

❝ I was invited aboard the Christianshavn by Plastic Change, a Danish nonprofit fighting plastic pollution, to see the group’s plastic monitoring work in action. (Plastic Change also invited American artist Chris Jordan, who’s famous for his photographs of plastic-filled albatrosses, to come aboard and document their work.)

Henrik Beha Pedersen, an environmental biologist and co-owner of Christianshavn, founded Plastic Change just three years ago and has set out to collect the latest scientific data on ocean plastics. His biggest focus isn’t on the large pieces of trash that we see floating by the ship every 15 minutes or so—an abandoned plastic fishing buoy, a jagged piece of an orange laundry basket, a tangled mass of colorful nylon ropes and fishing nets. Plastic Change’s biggest focus is on the tiny white specs that cloud the ocean’s surface in large blobs, plastic particles five millimeter or less in size called microplastic.

❝ Microplastic is tiny, with some pieces too small to be seen with the naked eye. Because it’s so small, microplastic is accidentally consumed by small ocean creatures from zooplankton to larval fish, where it then moves up the food chain. Larger pieces of plastic also pose a risk to marine wildlife, such as sea turtles, which often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, and seabirds like Laysan albatross, which are regularly found with lighters and children’s toys in their stomachs.

Besides posing a choking hazard, plastic poisons the animals that consume it. Scientists says this poisoning effect is currently a growing concern with plastic pollution.

Click the link and carry on reading from there. The human species in all its classes and conveniences is killing the seas.

French historian nearly deported from U.S. – we are governed more and more, every day, by fearmongers


Henry RousoMémorial de la Shoah

❝ A French historian on his way to a conference in Texas was detained for 10 hours by US border officials and threatened with deportation.

Officials at Texas A&M University said Henry Rousso was going to be returned to Paris as an illegal alien “due to a visa misunderstanding”…The university stopped the deportation with help from a law professor, local news website The Eagle reported.

❝ “I have been detained 10 hours at Houston International Airport about to be deported,” Mr Rousso, 62, confirmed in a tweet on Saturday…

The Egyptian-born Jewish scholar, a senior researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research, is a specialist on French World War Two history.

❝ Texas A&M University had announced to the conference on Friday that Mr Rousso had been detained upon arriving at Houston airport on Wednesday.

Senior official Richard Golsan said there had been a misunderstanding regarding the parameters of his visa, The Eagle reported.

“When he called me with this news two nights ago, he was waiting for customs officials to send him back to Paris as an illegal alien on the first flight out,” Mr Golsan told the meeting.

❝ He said the university enlisted the help of law school professor and immigrant rights expert Fatma Marouf…

Ms Marouf described the behaviour of customs officials as an “extreme response”…”It seems like there’s much more rigidity and rigour in enforcing these immigration requirements and the technicalities of every visa,” she said…

❝ Mr Rousso went on to attend the conference and thanked his supporters in a post on Twitter.

“Thank you so much for your reactions. My situation was nothing compared to some of the people I saw who couldn’t be defended as I was,” he said.

The pettiness of government flunkies can be distressing under the best of circumstances. Civil service at the base level in the United States is often akin to traditional jobs for “Cousin Ernie” who can’t find employment anywhere – so, you pay to stick him into the state highway department. Add the stress of our so-called president and his demented band of bigots to the equation and this sort of crap will become more and more common.

Legality, common courtesy, sense and sensibility have little or nothing to do with a job chartered in the mind of populist mobs as pest control. The horde will be served. Their Fearless Leader demands obedience.

NASA Receives First Audio From New Planets

BREAKING NEWS, WORLD NEWS

❝ RADIO signals emerging from the newly-discovered ‘TRAPPIST-1’ planetary system have been decoded by linguistic experts at NASA, confirming the existence of extraterrestrial lifeforms who want ‘no part of Earth’s bullshit’.

❝ There was great excitement from astronomy enthusiasts earlier this week following the discovery of seven planets in the ‘habitable’ zone of a nearby solar system; planets which seemingly had all the criteria for supporting life.

However, this was eroded somewhat today when NASA announced that lifeforms on the third of these planets seemed to be ‘standing very still as if not to be noticed’, much like how someone would hide behind the sofa in their house if a TV licence inspector or debt collector came to the door.

❝ …A signal from the planet was received and later translated, and appears to show that the alien lifeforms were well aware of the existence of Earth.

“The transmission begins ‘Oh fucking bollocky bollocks’” said a spokesperson for NASA…

❝ “‘They’ve found us, well that’s just tickety-fucking-boo’. The conversation then breaks down into a series of back-and-forth arguments where the aliens appear to blame each other for being found, with one very vocal creature appearing to be furious that Earthlings may now attempt to travel to the new planet. ‘Why did you have to have the telly on so fucking loud?’, they say”.

Click through to the article. Sounds like they really don’t care to have anything to do with Earth cultures. Hmmm.

Thanks, UrsaRodinia

Wind Overtakes Coal Power in Europe — Turbines Increase Offshore


Dong Energy

❝ Wind farm developers installed more power than any other form of energy last year in Europe, helping turbines to overtake coal in terms of capacity…

European wind power grew 8 percent, to 153.7 gigawatts, comprising 16.7 percent of installed capacity and overtaking coal as the continent’s second-biggest potential source of energy, according to figures published Thursday by the WindEurope trade group. Gas-fired generation retained the largest share of installed capacity.

❝ With countries seeking to curb greenhouse gas emissions that causes climate change by replacing fossil fuel plants with new forms of renewable energy, investment in wind grew to a record $29.3 billion in 2016, WindEurope’s annual European Statistics report showed.

Wind and coal are on two ends of the spectrum,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for WindEurope, in an e-mail. “Wind is steadily adding new capacity while coal is decommissioning far more than any technology in Europe.”

❝ The group underscored that wind, which only produces power intermittently, hasn’t yet overtaken coal share in total power generation.

And, so, good sense marches hand-in-hand with a positive commitment to better living.

Bernie Sanders Just Blind-Sided Trump With Reality — in four words

❝ If President Donald Trump is in need of an ego boost on Saturday, Twitter may not be the place to find it.

The president was slapped with a scalding reality check, compliments of Sen. Bernie Sanders, after suggesting his supporters have their own rally.

“It would be the biggest of them all!” Trump proclaimed on Twitter Saturday.

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-6-50-25-pm

❝ Exciting idea, except that Trump had a rally just last month, for Inauguration Day, as Sanders reminded him.

“They did. It wasn’t,” Sanders smartly snapped.

screen-shot-2017-02-25-at-6-51-55-pm

Har!