Hertha Berlin Players, Officials Kneel in Solidarity with American Athletes


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Michael Sohn

❝ Players and coaches from Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin kneeled prior to Saturday’s game against Schalke in a stand “for diversity and against violence.”

“Berlin is colourful,” the public address announcer at Olympiastadion Berlin said, according to ESPN FC’s Stephan Uersfeld. “Hertha BSC stands for diversity and against violence. For this reason, we are joining forces with the protest of our fellow American athletes to take a stand against discrimination. For a tolerant Berlin, both now and forevermore.”

❝ …Ivorian forward Salomon Kalou told reporters Hertha Berlin got the idea to kneel from NFL players who have protested social injustice and racial inequality during the American national anthem.

“As Hertha we always fight against racism,” he said, per Uersfeld. “For us, kneeling down is a way of fighting against this kind of behaviour. It should not exist in any kind of sport. Not in NFL, and not in football or soccer, like they call it in the U.S.—it shouldn’t exist in any sport, period. For us, it’s a good example to show.”

Meanwhile, individual gutless owners of American sports teams, NFL officials and candyass politicians kissed Trump butt. They have taken a constitutional symbol of protest and tried to turn it into an act worthy of the sort of pseudo-patriotic witch-hunt we haven’t witnessed since the inglorious days of McCarthyism.

I’ll take constitutional guarantees over quasi-religious breast-beating any day

N.F.L. Protests Across the United States, Across the Atlantic

❝ N.F.L. players across the country demonstrated during the national anthem on Sunday in a show of solidarity against President Trump, who scolded the league and players on Twitter this weekend. With the support of team owners, some of whom joined their teams on the field, dozens of players knelt in silent protests, while Tom Brady and others opted to stand and lock arms.

❝ The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans both stayed in their respective locker rooms prior to their matchup in Nashville.

The young woman who sang the national anthem for their match – also took a knee in solidaruity.

Solar = 6¢ per kilowatt-hour, beating Obama’s goal by 3 years


Formerly the largest piggery in Massachusetts

❝ The Department of Energy has announced that utility-grade solar panels have hit cost targets set for 2020, three years ahead of schedule. Those targets reflect around $1 per watt and 6¢ per kilowatt-hour in Kansas City, the department’s mid-range yardstick for solar panel cost per unit of energy produced (New York is considered the high-cost end, and Phoenix, Arizona, which has much more sunlight than most other major cities in the country, reflects the low-cost end).

Those prices don’t include an Investment Tax Credit which makes solar panels even cheaper. The Energy Department said that the cost per watt was assessed in terms of total installed system costs for developers. That means the number is based on “the sales price paid to the installer; therefore, it includes profit in the cost of the hardware,”…

❝ The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a DOE-funded lab that assesses solar panel cost, wrote that, compared to the first quarter in 2016, the first quarter in 2017 saw a 29-percent decline in installed cost for utility-scale solar, which was attributed to lower photovoltaic module and inverter prices, better panel efficiency, and reduced labor costs. Despite the plummeting costs for utility-scale solar, costs for commercial and residential solar panels have not fallen quite as quickly — just 15 percent and 6 percent, respectively…

❝ Now that utility-grade solar panels have crossed the finish line almost three years early, the DOE says that it’s setting a new goal line for 2030…Through the DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, the federal department says it will start funding early stage projects focusing on “grid reliability, resilience, and storage.”

Too bad – for the moment – we’re saddled with an administration, White House, Congress and all – wholly committed to pimping for fossil fuel extraction and energy industries. Hopefully, the American electorate will learn to skip over idjits who prefer pimps to progress and elect some useful folks in 2018 and 2020.

Trump fiddles while China leads World Trade Recovery

Bloomberg’s Tom Keene displays the performance of the renminbi against the U.S. dollar in 2017. He speaks with Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics, on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

Often appearing on Bloomberg TV, Dr. Weinberg is one of several economists who wastes no time on the ideological blather coming out of the Washington Beltway. Regardless of which of the two Tweedledee/Tweedledumb parties we’re allowed – is in power.

I think if you asked the average American college graduate about the Silk Road or the Silk Route – you’d get a profound silence. Listen to what Dr. Weinberg says in passing about the increase in trade this year. Understand that this is a startup barely in its beginning. Understand that regardless of Trump’s compounded ignorance and lies, the United States isn’t China’s biggest customer and consumer of goods exports. The European Union is. And they don’t consider his whines and wailing important enough to be anything more than a footnote to American electoral gullibility.

The Europeans, workers and investors alike do not suffer the disparity in income and distribution we have in the United States. Europeans get income – not fear and trembling – from global trade. Their trade with China is leading to greatly expanded trade for all the Euro nations with all the nations in between China’s hubs and the industrial centers of the European Union.

USA is now ranked a ‘Second Tier’ country at well-being

❝ Some 17 others, including all of Scandinavia, outperform the U.S. by a wide margin when it comes to well-being.

❝ America leads the world when it comes to access to higher education. But when it comes to health, environmental protection, and fighting discrimination, it trails many other developed countries, according to the Social Progress Imperative, a U.S.-based nonprofit.

❝ The results of the group’s annual survey, which ranks nations based on 50 metrics, call to mind other reviews of national well-being, such as the World Happiness Report released in March, which was led by Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, or September’s Lancet study on sustainable development. In that one, Iceland, Singapore, Sweden, and the U.S. took spots 1, 2, 3, and 28 — respectively…

❝ Of course it’s easy enough to dismiss or belittle these occasional reports, each with their unique methodologies and almost identical conclusions. Another approach, however, would be to look at them all together and conclude that they represent “mounting evidence.” In that case, Houston (and Dallas, New Orleans, Tulsa, St. Louis, Baltimore, Chicago, and New York), we have a problem.

❝ SPI produces the report in part to help city, state, and national policymakers diagnose and (ideally) address their most pressing challenges. The group’s chief executive, Michael Green, said America “is failing to address basic human needs, equip citizens to improve their quality of life, protect the environment, and provide opportunity for everyone to make personal choices and reach their full potential.”

How many politicians – either of the pallid flavors we’re allowed – offer you the opportunity to vote in support of a platform containing similar ideals?

High school admin shut down this valedictorian graduation speech

❝ Wyoming Area Secondary Center’s high school valedictorian and class president, Peter Butera, did not mince words during his valedictory speech at his graduation ceremony June 16…Butera — who is due to attend Villanova University come fall — took the opportunity to thank his fellow students and the teachers and administrators who enriched his high school experience — and to stand up to those who had not.


Class president all 4 years of high schoolDave Scherbenco/AP

“Good evening, everyone. The past four years here at Wyoming Area have been very interesting to say the least. To give you an idea of what it was like, I’m going to take this time to tell you all a bit about what my Wyoming Area experience was like and the people who were a part of it.

I would like to start off by thanking my mom, my dad, and my baba, who have raised me since the day I was born and have helped me become the person I am today. Every one of us graduating have those special people in our lives that care for us every day, and love us unconditionally. And to all of you here today, we cannot thank you enough for everything you’ve done for us.

I would now like to recognize a few teachers who are extremely committed to their jobs as educators, and have worked to make me and many others, better students every day: Mr. Hizynski, Mr. Pizano, and Mr. Williams. In addition to these three, there are a number of other very good teachers at our school as well. It is dedicated teachers like these that truly help to develop students and prepare them to further their educations.

Not only does Wyoming Area have some great teachers, but a couple great administrators as well. Mr. Quaglia had been our principal for 3.5 years, and was as great a leader as they come, always extremely caring and reasonable. Over the summer, our school hired a new principal, Mr. Pacchioni, and despite the hesitancy that some students may have had about getting a new principal our senior year, he quickly put that to rest by coming in and always looking out for the students here since day 1.

Throughout my time at Wyoming Area, I have pursued every leadership opportunity available to me. In addition to being a member of Student Council since I was a freshman, my classmates have also elected me Class President the past 4 years, which has been my greatest honor, and I would like to thank you all for that one final time, it really means a lot. However, at our school, the title of Class President could more accurately be Class Party Planner, and Student Council’s main obligation is to paint signs every week. Despite some of the outstanding people in this school, a lack of real student government and the authoritative attitude that a few teachers, administrators, and board members have, prevents students from truly developing as leaders.

Hopefully in the future, this will change. Hopefully for the sake of future students, more people of power within this school, who do not do so already, will begin to prioritize education itself as well as the empowering of students. Because at the end of the day, it is not what we have done as Wyoming Area students or athletes that will define our lives, but what we will go on to do as Wyoming Area Alumni. And I hope that every one of my fellow classmates today, as well as myself, will go on to do great things in this world, and find true happiness and success. Thank you all for coming out to this great celebration today.”

I’m hard-pressed to understand why the drones in charge of education in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, felt they had to shut this lad’s speech down. When I graduated high school – a couple centuries ago in the bowels of McCarthyism – I think there were plenty of schools with sufficient gumption and commitment to traditional American ideals to support a speech like this one.

More than ever, I fear for the future of American education if this pretty moderate challenge to obedience is considered dangerous enough to pull the plug on the sound system.

Where is Global Growth Happening?


Click to enlarge

❝ According to forecasts from earlier this year by the World Bank, the global economy is expected to average a Real GDP growth rate of 2.8% between 2017-2019.

But where will this growth actually happen? Is it in giant countries that are growing at a stable 2% clip, or is it occurring in the smaller emerging markets where 8% growth is not uncommon?

❝ Today’s chart looks at individual countries between 2017-2019, based on their individual growth projections from the World Bank, to see where new wealth is being created.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Colorado hasn’t reached peak pot sales, yet!


Colorado regulators tour grow facilityAP/Kristen Wyatt

❝ Three years, billions of dollars, and thousands of new jobs into Colorado’s legal marijuana experiment, we’re still nowhere near the economic ceiling of retail cannabis.

New monthly revenue figures indicate the state is on track to exceed last year’s massive sales totals for medical and recreational weed. Retail stores sold more than $125 million in product statewide in April, The Cannabist calculates based on state revenue numbers.

❝ Through the first four months of 2017, the state has collected over $76 million in taxes and fees on almost half a billion dollars in sales.

The figures project out to a wild increase over the previous year’s sales and revenue numbers. Raw-dollar sales totals are up about 27 percent despite falling prices, according to The Cannabist’s metrics.

State revenue collections from taxes and licensing fees are almost 50 percent above where they stood at the same point a year earlier. Colorado ended up netting about $199 million in public revenue from cannabis that year…

❝ Colorado’s own industry won’t keep lapping itself like this perpetually, of course. At some point — when enough other states have legalized, and when Coloradans have fully abandoned the black and “gray” markets for weed in favor of the fully sanctioned marketplace — the growth rates will soften.

The real story of the 2017 growth, Marijuana Policy Group research associate Clinton Saloga told ThinkProgress, is that legalization is still moving pot activity out of back alleys and into the light…“The continued rise in sales is due more to people leaving the black market and starting to shop in the regulated market, as opposed to a huge surge in total use,” said Saloga…

❝ Opponents of softer marijuana laws have often argued that decriminalization or legalization will increase usage. That’s not what MPG’s numbers show in Colorado, Saloga said…When masses of smokers, brownie aficionados, and chronic pain sufferers shift their dollars from illicit sources to official ones, they aren’t just providing a “peace dividend” to public spending for schools and other services. They’re depriving the organized drug networks and cartels of a major revenue stream.

Living in New Mexico – a state with a pretty straightforward medical marijuana protocol and with one ailment I recently learned responds well to cannabis treatment – sooner or later I figure I’ll check out the brownie cure. I quit smoking cigarettes 59 years ago. I don’t see myself starting, again, as treatment.

Still, getting our chickenshit politicians over the hump with the example of Colorado just next-door is sort of amazing. Not the Republicans. They’re mostly of the bible-thumping, Tea Party, Earth is 6000 years old variety. Nope, many of our Democrats have a great tradition of understanding class loyalty, supporting essential needs for the mass of low-income families in our state. They just need to get beyond their fear of [1] condemnation by the Catholic Church and [2] doing something newer than the government of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Should be, progressives – who helped drag the Roundhouse, our state legislature, back from a couple years of doing even less for the working class than our do-nothing-for-anyone-who-doesn’t-drill-for-gas-or-oil Republican governor – will succeed in including this issue more pointedly in electoral campaigns over the next few years. Overdue.

China Switches On World’s Largest Floating Solar Farm — On A Lake Over A Closed Coal Mine


Click to enlarge

❝ Last week, workers switched on a solar energy plant capable of producing 40 megawatts of power, which floats on a manmade lake in China’s Anhui province near the city of Huainan…The array is the largest floating solar project in the world, though at the brisk pace China is building new renewable projects it’s unlikely to hold that title very long.

❝ Built by the company Sungrow Power Supply, the power plant will produce enough energy to power 15,000 homes…While the company has not revealed the exact size of the operation, it produces twice as much energy as the previous holder of the largest-floating-solar-plant title, which is located in the same area and was launched by the company Xinyi Solar in 2016.

❝ Anhui province is a coal-rich region, and the Sungrow plant is located on a lake that was once the site of intensive mining. Heavy rains filled the area with water…

So why build solar plants on top of lakes and reservoirs?…Building on bodies of water, especially manmade lakes that are not ecologically sensitive, helps protect agricultural land and terrestrial ecosystems from being developed for energy use. The water also cools the electronics in the solar panels, helping them to work more efficiently…

❝ While the floating solar plant is the largest in the world, it pales in comparison to some of China’s non-floating solar projects. The Longyangxia Dam Solar Park on the Tibetan plateau hosts 4 million solar panels that produce 850 megawatts of energy. Even that will soon be eclipsed by a project in the Ningxia Autonomous Region, which will have 6 million solar panels and produce 2 gigawatts of power.

If Trump’s chumps continue to keep the Republican Party in power, say, until 2024 — we may yet see coal become the cheapest source of mediocre construction stone in the United States. Keeping fewer people employed than Arby’s just to maintain welfare checks flowing into certain corporate bank accounts is an important part of the 18th Century lifestyle so beloved of today’s conservative politicians.