Rabobank will fund first Dutch brothel run by hooker co-op

Dutch lender Rabobank Groep has agreed to fund the Netherlands’ first prostitute-run brothel.

The bank will provide a credit line of “a few hundred thousand euros” for the renovation, furniture and other startup costs of 14 rooms spread over four buildings in the center of Amsterdam, said Carlo Verhart, a Rabobank spokesman. The brothel will be run by My Red Light, a foundation led by five sex workers.

“Their business plan looked really good,” Verhart said by phone. “We’re a cooperative bank and we’re proud to support a fellow cooperation.” He declined to disclose the terms of the loan or details of the business plan…

…Rabobank, a closely held cooperative formed in 1898 to serve Dutch farmers, is the second-largest lender in the Netherlands by assets.

Cooperatives have a long and democratic history in many nations. Even in the GOUSA. Not this liberated, of course.

Broad range driving growth of atheists, agnostics and religious “nones” in the U.S.

The share of Americans who do not identify with a religious group is surely growing: While nationwide surveys in the 1970s and ’80s found that fewer than one-in-ten U.S. adults said they had no religious affiliation, fully 23% now describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.”

…Two, or even three, closely related things seem to be going on. Americans who are not religiously active and who don’t hold strong religious beliefs are more likely now than similar people were in the past to say they have no religion. But that’s not the whole story, because the share of Americans with low levels of religious commitment (on a scale combining four common measures) also has been growing…

Another factor is generational change. If you think of America as a house of many different faiths, then instead of imagining the “nones” as a roomful of middle-aged people who used to call themselves Presbyterians, Catholics or something else but don’t claim those labels anymore, imagine the unaffiliated as a few rooms rapidly filling with nonreligious people of various backgrounds, including young adults who have never had any religious affiliation in their adult lives.

Indeed, our Religious Landscape Study finds a clear generational pattern: Young people who are not particularly religious seem to be much more comfortable identifying as “nones” than are older people who display a similar level of religious observance. Nearly eight-in-ten Millennials with low levels of religious commitment describe themselves as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular.” By contrast, just 54% of Americans in the Silent and Greatest generations who have low levels of religious commitment say they are unaffiliated; 45% claim a religion. A similarly striking gap between Millennials and others is also seen among those with a “medium” level of religious commitment…

…Whether Millennials will become more religious as they age remains to be seen, but there is nothing in our data to suggest that Millennials or members of Generation X have become any more religious in recent years. If anything, they have so far become less religious as they have aged.

Education, evidence-based factors, accumulated knowledge appear to be working as you might expect. Even in the United States.

Cripes! Optimism may yet surpass my cynicism.

Progress building clean power in the USA even while conservatives drag their feet

❝ As the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hear challengers’ arguments against the Clean Power Plan on September 27th, the most up-to-date analysis shows that the Clean Power Plan’s goals have become even more readily achievable as the electricity sector is already shifting to clean energy. Many power companies are not waiting for the courts to resolve the legal challenges. Instead, they are accelerating the shift to clean energy, assisted by the rapid cost declines of renewable technologies. This steady and continuing shift in our power sector makes clear that the goals set forth by the Clean Power Plan are eminently attainable.

❝ The Clean Power Plan — the centerpiece of U.S. action on climate change — places the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, our nation’s largest source of the dangerous pollution that drives climate change…In fact, the pace of investments in clean energy is accelerating in the power sector, continuing the strong climate progress of the last several years…Several recent studies have projected that renewable energy may double from 2015 levels by 2021…

❝ Dynamic maps in the article show the dramatic renewable energy progress that has been made across the country over the past several years. In the span of just five years, solar generation in Nevada increased more than seven-fold, and North Carolina has seen its solar generation increase five-fold in the past two years alone. Iowa and Texas, which were already leaders in wind power back in 2010, have both nearly doubled their wind generation over the past five years, and both states are expected to continue their shift to a clean energy future over the next several years.

The Clean Power Plan reinforces and builds on these market trends by embracing the kind of flexible strategies that the industry already employs. The CPP gradually phases in the required emissions limits starting in 2022, and by 2030 is projected to result in carbon cuts of roughly 32 percent below 2005 levels, or 19 percent below 2012 levels. Even though the CPP emissions limits don’t go into effect for another six years, carbon emissions from the power sector have already fallen by more than 5 percent since 2012. That means that in the past three years alone the power sector achieved more than one-quarter of the pollution cuts required by 2030…

The benefits are economic as well as environmental, they affect our public health as much as our economic health. Progress towards the time when global energy is dominated by renewables is no longer a dream but an obvious and growing reality. RTFA and take a look at those maps chugging along. Reflect upon the fact that the do-nothing, know-nothing Congress has been owned by fossil fuel industries so long they may as well change the name of the building to the Koch Bros. Lobbying Center. Yet, change is upon us all. Costs continue to reduce through the economies of scale, design and research.

Put some folks into elective office with backbone and principle. Who knows how much more will be accomplished?

Syrian refugees bring new life to Italian village


Mohamed al-Okla and his wife Amal fled Syria’s civil war with their five children in order to resettle in Italy…Hoping for a fresh start away from the horrors of war, the family has found a place they can call home.

In stark contrast to the transitory way of life in migration centres, the small village of Camini in southern Italy has helped bring a sense of normality to the Syrian family.

“The children are happy here, and so am I,” Mohamed told Al Jazeera. “Here, it’s calm, tranquil, it’s good. We’re now living in a democratic country and, most importantly, there is peace.”

While the continuous influx of refugees is seen as a concern for most European nations, the Camini community has welcomed their arrival as it has helped bring new life to the village.

Half a century ago, hundreds of locals were driven away by poverty and lack of opportunities.

But with homes being refurbished and children filling up classrooms, the town in the region of Calabria is undergoing a revival…

Rosaria Zulzolo, who leads the cooperative, appreciates the increased business the inflow of refugees and migrants has brought.

“We never thought it would be like a resource for us,” said Zulzolo. “We just wanted to receive people who were running away from war and offer them hospitality.

“And in this hospitality, we saw that shopkeepers were selling more goods, more work was being created.”

Around 105,000 refugees and migrants have reached Italy by boat so far this year, according to data from the International Organization for Migration.

A brief description of life springing into fruition in a couple of ways. Syrian refugees finding a new life in freedom. A village returning to full life as a community with children, new ways, new crafts and trade from the spirit of fresh citizens.

Half my antecedents came from just such a village. From an Italy worn and beaten down by war over a century ago. This was an important part of the story of how America grew. Isolated from European wars. Room to grow.

Yes, it is a curious thing how different people find opportunity in the same places other have left behind.

Existing dams could supply electricity for 35 million homes — that’s right, no new dams!

Click to enlargeDanita Delimont/Getty

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the nation could increase its hydroelectric capacity 50 percent by 2050 without building new dams.

Rather, the new capacity would come from upgrading existing hydropower facilities with more efficient technology and by constructing hydropower storage facilities that pump water uphill into reservoirs during off-peak hours, when electricity is cheap. When demand and power prices spike, the water is released downhill through turbines to generate electricity.

Such a strategy could grow hydropower capacity from 101,000 megawatts to 150,000 megawatts by 2050, according to the report.

❝ “If this level of growth is achieved, benefits such as savings of $209 billion from avoided greenhouse gas emissions could be realized, of which $185 billion would be attributable to operation of the existing hydropower fleet,” said a Department of Energy spokesperson. “With this deployment level, more than 35 million average U.S. homes could be powered by hydropower in 2050.”…

…About 2,000 of the country’s dams produce power, supplying 6 percent of electricity demand…But hydropower’s growth has stalled because of aging infrastructure, concerns over environmental impacts on rivers and wildlife, and a rise in alternative renewable sources…

Jim Bradley, vice president of policy and government relations at conservation group American Rivers, said increasing hydropower could be a good thing environmentally.

“Typically, to get approval to upgrade existing dams with more efficient technology means they will have to consider the environmental performance at that site as well,” Bradley said. “So if they’re going to be improving them, they’ll be improving the environmental issues as well.”…

Still, hydropower could be key to ensuring that the power grid operates smoothly as more renewable but intermittent sources of energy come online.

Solar and wind power only produce energy when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. To keep the lights on when solar and wind farms aren’t generating electricity, grid operators rely on carbon-spewing fossil fuel power plants. That’s where pumped storage comes into play: Reservoirs can act as giant batteries, storing energy generated by solar power plants and wind farms.

Nothing new, of course, about hydropower or pumped storage. The engineering has been a lock for centuries. The significant upgrades are in the actual power generation and digital control of both local and interconnected regional systems. None of this is beyond the understanding of builders or consumers.

Only politicians, especially those paid to pimp for fossil fuel, stand in the way.

Jobs, jobs, jobs

Click to enlarge

There are now more job openings than there are people who stopped looking for work because there are no jobs.

Morgan Housel ‏@TMFHousel

Yes, folks forget stuff. Especially conservatives who forget their concept of a free market opened the door to the worst financial crash since the Great Depression. It’s been eight long hard years since – and we’re just back to the point where jobs unfilled are greater than the number of those who gave up looking for work.

Lots of reasons in that equation. Most of them affecting mobility in the most mobile society on earth. Education, family, education, fear, cash-on-hand – and education. Many have accepted the option of any kind of job vs. something equivalent or better than what they used to have. It’s still easier to get a job if you have a job. Just as it’s easier to borrow money – if you have money.

But, it’s nice to see we’ve gotten back to where we are in the jobs market. Even though it took longer because of the conservative scumbags in Congress.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz