Brits who want an end-run around the Brexit nonsense can opt-in to remain EU citizens

❝ EU negotiators will offer British people the chance to individually opt-in and remain EU citizens as a proposal in Brexit negotiations, the European Parliament’s chief negotiator has confirmed.

The plan, first revealed in its early stages by The Independent last month, was being considered as a long-term aim by the European Parliament – but has now been fast-tracked to the negotiating table by Guy Verhofstadt, who is in charge of thrashing out a post-Brexit deal.

Mr Verhofstadt said the “very important” proposal had “captured the imagination and hopes” of many British people who wished to retain their rights as EU citizens and would be in his negotiating mandate.

Capturing the imagination and hopes is putting it mildly. Verhofstadt and his peers have been swamped with requests. Folks want those EU passports NOW – not at some later date when the Tories in charge of Parliament have figured out some way to screw it up.

❝ The plan would see Brits offered individual “associate citizenship”, letting them keep free movement to live and work across the EU, as well as a vote in European Parliament elections.

The proposal could potentially give Brits who live and work across borders a workaround to the disruption caused by the Leave vote – and young people looking to flee an increasingly isolated UK greater choice over where to move to.

Yes. I imagine there are beaucoup Americans taking a second look, right now.

RTFA for the gory details.

Looks like a trend to me — louder than the whining from public utility companies

net metering
Click to enlarge

Furthermore:

A charitable fund of the Rockefeller family – who are sitting on a multibillion-dollar oil fortune – has said it will withdraw all its investments from fossil fuel companies.

The Rockefeller Family Fund, a charity set up in 1967 by descendants of John D Rockefeller, said on Wednesday that it would divest from all fossil fuel holdings “as quickly as possible”.

The fund, which was founded by Martha, John, Laurance, Nelson and David Rockefeller, singled out ExxonMobil for particular attention describing the world’s largest oil company as “morally reprehensible”.

Can President Kim end World Bank backing for coal-fired power?


Creeps like the Koch Bros. should be required to live downwind

In a closed meeting on Tuesday evening, the World Bank put before its executive directors a proposal to stop funding the development of new coal plants globally. Despite provisions that would grant exceptions to allow funding for a few rare coal plants, this proposal is a big step forward for an agency that has supported some of the world’s largest and dirtiest coal plants for years. It is also a key opportunity for World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim to lead the World Bank into a clean energy future.

Kim is already poised to be a leader in the fight to address climate disruption. Shortly after joining the World Bank as president one year ago this month, he commissioned a report that detailed the catastrophic effects the world would see if global temperatures rose by just four degrees Celsius. Since then, Kim has repeatedly called on countries around the world to take action now in order to avert such a crisis in the future.

Unfortunately, the World Bank’s actions haven’t lived up to Kim’s rhetoric. In the past five years alone, the bank has financed more than $5bn in carbon-intensive coal plants. Currently, it is considering financing a new coal power plant in Kosovo that would burn lignite coal – the dirtiest and most toxic form of coal available. This plant would be built in a country where, according to the World Bank’s own statistics, coal already kills 835 people every year.

…The tide at the World Bank may be turning. In his “climate action” speech last month, President Obama called for an end to public financing of dirty coal plants abroad. On the heels of that announcement, the World Bank released a draft energy strategy that would ban funding for new coal generation, with some rare exceptions. Although we would prefer to see the door closed on coal for good by eliminating even those loopholes, the bank’s new energy plan still marks real progress under Kim’s leadership.

Ending the financing of coal plants globally would also free up scarce public funds for investment in decentralized clean energy projects. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the only way the 1.3 billion people who still do not have access to electricity will be able to get it is through this type of off-grid, decentralized clean energy. Indeed, the IEA argues that to achieve universal electrification, the 70% of rural areas currently without power must be serviced with off-grid renewable energy…

Jim Yong Kim showed he was up to the test, but we’ll be watching closely to make sure this policy is backed up by real action.

Keep on rocking in the Free World!

Even if you get to wear thousand-dollar-suits and arrive at meetings in a Mercedes S-class chariot, confronting the fossil fuel flunkies ain’t ever anything more than a polite version of mud wrestling. And they control both the dirt and the gold.

BRICS development bank ready to roll

The New Development Bank being launched by the BRICS group of emerging economies plans to raise money both on local markets and internationally…

The bank, with an initial capital of $50 billion, is being introduced at an organisational summit of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – in the Russian city of Ufa…

Kundapur Vaman Kamath, 67, a former executive with India’s largest private bank, ICICI Bank, was appointed president of NDB in May this year. The bank is headquartered in Shanghai, China.

The bank, which the BRICS countries see as an alternative to the World Bank, will have its capital expanded to $100 billion within the next couple of years. It plans to issue its first loans, yet to be agreed, in April – a plan K.V. Kamath said was on track…

He added that the NDB will seek international and local agencies ratings – a necessary step for issuing debt…

K.V. Kamath added that there were no specific deals yet in the pipeline and no limit had been set on the size of loans.

The size of the loan “will depend on what is the structure of the loan, what is a need of a borrowing country and then we will look at it,” he said.

One positive side of global growth is the new capability of banking based in developing nations – for developing nations. Not the least of which is the absence of colonial-era strictures required by present and former imperial governments.

Cure constipation by swallowing a vibrator!

constipation

According to Dr. Yishai Ron, a researcher at Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, nearly half of the people who take medication for chronic constipation are unsatisfied with the results. That dissatisfaction can stem from unwanted side effects, concerns over the long-term safety of the medication, or “the fact that it simply doesn’t work.” That’s why he and his colleagues have created an oral capsule that relieves constipation by vibrating its way along the intestinal tract.

The capsule contains a tiny motor, that is programmed to start vibrating six to eight hours after being swallowed – this gives it enough time to reach the large intestine. Once it starts up, the vibrations reportedly stimulate the intestine into contracting, which in turn helps move stools through…

“Sometimes, drug therapies bring more issues than relief for these patients,” Dr. Ron said. “The results of this study point to the potential for an alternative treatment that avoids the typical drug side effects, such as bloating and electrolyte imbalance, by imitating the body’s natural physiology.”

Um, OK. I’m glad they don’t have a YouTube video.

A 100% renewable power system could have been bought and paid for – instead of the Iraq War


American leadership skills in Iraq

Wind energy expert Paul Gipe reported this week that – for the amount spent on the Iraq war – the U.S. could be generating 40%-60% of its electricity with renewable energy…

The war in Iraq has cost $1.7 trillion through fiscal year 2013, according to Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies. That’s trillion, with a “t”. Including future costs for veteran’s care, and so on, raises the cost to $2.2 trillion.

Because the war was financed with debt, we should also include a charge for interest on the debt. The Iraq war’s share of cumulative interest on the US debt through 2053 will raise the total cost of the war to $3.9 trillion…

…If we want to develop an integrated system that will replace the mix of fossil fuels and nuclear power we use today, we will need a mix of renewable resources as well. Ideally, we would develop our wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass resources simultaneously. However, it is wind and solar that will provide the bulk of new generating capacity. So I’ve simplified this analysis by only considering a mix of wind and solar…

Based on a conservative estimate, the US could have built between a quarter-million to nearly a half-million megawatts of wind energy, and 300,000 to 600,000 megawatts of solar capacity.

For comparison, today there are only 60,000 MW of wind in the US, and a paltry 7,000 MW of solar.

If we had invested the $2.2 trillion in wind and solar, the US would be generating 21% of its electricity with renewable energy. If we had invested the $3.9 trillion that the war in Iraq will ultimately cost, we would generate nearly 40% of our electricity with new renewables. Combined with the 10% of supply from existing hydroelectricity, the US could have surpassed 50% of total renewables in supply…

…Unlike the war in Iraq, which is an expense, the development of renewable energy instead of war would have been an investment in infrastructure at home that would have paid dividends to American citizens for decades to come…

Moreover, given that war is very harmful for the economy, the costs of the Iraq war including the drag on the economy raises the price tag well above $6 trillion. So 100% of renewable energy funding may be realistic.

It is ironic, indeed, that the Iraq war was largely about oil. When we choose subsidies for conventional energy sources – war or otherwise – we sell our future down the river.

Unfortunately, selling our future down the river doesn’t bother the bottomfeeders in Congress or the White House a whole boatload of heartache. While I differentiate between Republicans and Democrats on many social issues, when the question is one of war – especially one which profits truly “important” corporations – our elected officials fall over one another in the rush to Armageddon.

We debate the differences between “stupid” and just plain “ignorant” a lot on the Web. Fact remains that the average American – for whichever excuse – rarely has the backbone or independence to challenge war cries from on high. While reticence may appear after a few thousands kinfolk are sentenced to death along with tens of thousands crippled for life, it takes a mighty heap of dead bodies to get my fellow Americans to reconsider the glory of war deemed crucial by priests, pundits and politicians.

This counterpoint of the common good versus dedication to death and destruction is only an exercise in semantics and logic until and unless the voters of nation declare truth and progress more important than, say, parades for mission accomplished.

Rock beyond belief – and superstition – at Fort Bragg, NC

Fort Bragg has reached a truce of sorts with a group of Army atheists that opens the door for an event called Rock Beyond Belief on post next spring featuring music and speeches by noted secular humanists, including the writer Richard Dawkins .

On his Web site, Rockbeyondbelief.com, Sgt. Justin Griffith, the driving force behind the event, said this week that the post commander, Col. Stephen J. Sicinski, had authorized the group to hold the event on the post’s centrally located parade field, a major sticking point in earlier negotiations. Sergeant Griffith, who Fort Bragg officials said was currently deployed in Kuwait, said the event would be held March 31.

“This just might be the turning point in the foxhole atheist community’s struggle for acceptance, tolerance and respect,” Sergeant Griffith wrote on the Web site. “It’s an amazing time to be a nonbeliever in the U.S. military on the cusp of a major breakthrough.”

A spokesman for the fort, Benjamin Abel, confirmed that Colonel Sicinski had approved use of the parade field because Rock Beyond Belief had come up with enough money to pay for a stage, lighting, sound system and other expenses involved in setting up the grounds…Mr. Abel added that the fort would provide electricity, water and security for the event but not any direct financial assistance.

“This is not a Fort Bragg sponsored event,” he said. “We’re dealing with it the same as for other private organizations who have events on the installation.”

The idea behind Rock Beyond Belief began last year when the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association held an event at Fort Bragg called Rock the Fort. The base command, at the urging of its chaplains, provided some money and manpower for the event as well as a choice location on the parade field. Sergeant Griffith and other atheists at the post protested, arguing that the event was an Army-sponsored platform for the Graham organization to recruit converts, though the post command denied that…

Sergeant Griffith and other atheists in the military say their ultimate purpose is to gain acceptance within the Christian-dominated armed forces, including by winning the appointment of secular chaplains.

Amazing isn’t it? How long has it been since our freedoms were recognized by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights? Yet freedom from religion still takes political pressure and the threat of litigation for something as simple as an equal opportunity to address the public.

Especially within the military.

Rock on, folks. A little freedom of speech is a powerful thing.

Volcano drilling suggests magma could be stable energy source

Geologists drilling an exploratory geothermal well in 2009 in the Krafla volcano in Iceland encountered a problem they were simply unprepared for: magma (molten rock or lava underground) which flowed unexpectedly into the well at 2.1 kilometers depth, forcing the researchers to terminate the drilling…

Currently, a third of the electric power and 95 percent of home heating in Iceland is produced from steam and hot water that occurs naturally in volcanic rocks.

The economics of generating electric power from such geothermal steam improves the higher its temperature and pressure,” Wilfred Elders explained. “As you drill deeper into a hot zone the temperature and pressure rise, so it should be possible to reach an environment where a denser fluid with very high heat content, but also with unusually low viscosity occurs, so-called ‘supercritical water.’ Although such supercritical water is used in large coal-fired electric power plants, no one had tried to use supercritical water that should occur naturally in the deeper zones of geothermal areas…”

Elders and his team studied the well within the Krafla caldera as part of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project, an industry-government consortium, to test whether geothermal fluids at supercritical pressures and temperatures could be exploited as sources of power…

“When the well was tested, high pressure dry steam flowed to the surface with a temperature of 400 Celsius or 750 Fahrenheit, coming from a depth shallower than the magma,” Elders said. “We estimated that this steam could generate 25 megawatts of electricity if passed through a suitable turbine, which is enough electricity to power 25,000 to 30,000 homes. What makes this well an attractive source of energy is that typical high-temperature geothermal wells produce only 5 to 8 megawatts of electricity from 300 Celsius or 570 Fahrenheit wet steam.”

Elders believes it should be possible to find reasonably shallow bodies of magma, elsewhere in Iceland and the world, wherever young volcanic rocks occur.

Hmmm. A significant portion of the Rio Grande Valley is a volcanic rift. The youngest areas of volcanic activity are less than 6,000 years old.

Most sensible New Mexicans are aware of potential energy alternatives from sun and wind. We have lots of each. Tapping geothermal power drilling into magma is beyond the budgets of most researchers – of course, excepting our two national laboratories which are essentially devoted to death and destruction.

Maybe they could slip a wee bit of their ever-increasing budget into something with this kind of environmental potential, eh?