Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stolen Idea number two

Make corporate tax rates adjustable depending on how a company scores on a "good citizenship" scorecard. If a corporation provides good wages and benefits and is good to the environment, let it pay a lower tax rate. Otherwise a higher tax rate.

Stolen Idea number one

One way to silence the bitching and moaning that is sure to come from universal health care opponents would be to make enrollment in the program voluntary. Just structure the program such that it has more benefits and less cost than comparable commercial programs. Make it more attractive to employers than commercial insurance. Yet allow every individual an opportunity to opt in or opt out. Those who have strong convictions against it don't have to use it. The pool of participants will be quite adequate without them. By the same token we should allow like-minded people to opt out of Social Security. No pay, no play. Let them try the investment route.

TC DL 1 year old

The Tri-City's Drinking Liberally chapter celebrated its first year of existence this evening. And it did so in fine style with many of the old guard who were there at the beginning as well as some brand new faces. Here's to you all.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Watch this space

...for details of a coming Central Washington Democrats blog. It's the brainchild of the fine folks in Yakima. When I know more about it, you will know.

Ethanol production gets more efficient

Technical improvements do the trick.
"Carnegie Mellon University Chemical Engineers have devised a new process that can improve the efficiency of ethanol production, a major component in making biofuels a significant part of the U.S. energy supply.

Carnegie Mellon researchers have used advanced process design methods combined with mathematical optimization techniques to reduce the operating costs of corn-based bio-ethanol plants by more than 60 percent.

The key to the Carnegie Mellon strategy involves redesigning the distillation process by using a multi-column system together with a network for energy recovery that ultimately reduces the consumption of steam, a major energy component in the production of corn-based ethanol.

'This new design reduces the manufacturing cost for producing ethanol by 11 percent, from $1.61 a gallon to $1.43 a gallon,'' said Chemical Engineering Professor Ignacio E. Grossmann, who completed the research with graduate students Ramkumar Karuppiah, Andreas Peschel and Mariano Martin. 'This research also is an important step in making the production of ethanol more energy efficient and economical .''"

Jim Wallis expresses my kind of religion

Jim Wallis at Davos:
"What we need is nothing less than a whole new set of religious actors and new religious actions for the world to see - from those called 'the moderates.' Specifically, the world needs to see faith leaders and communities from around the globe on the front lines of social movements seeking to change the planet - working on all the big issues that the people at Davos are here discussing, such as climate change, global poverty, pandemic diseases, basic education access (80 million children in the world don't have it), and, crucially, helping to resolve our most pressing and violent conflicts.

The 'religious moderates' must become the most passionate of all for social justice. If we did that, we would accomplish two things at the same time. First, we would provide a clear and compelling alternative to extremist religion. And, second, we would be helping to change the facts on the ground - the oppressive circumstances that often lead to and help recruit for extremist religion.

I just came out of an extraordinary panel on 'The Promises to Africa,' with Tony Blair, Bill Gates, Bono, South African President Thabo Mbeki, and other political, business, and civil society leaders from Africa, Germany (the site of the 2007 G-8 Summit), and Japan (the site of the 2008 G-8).

The moderator's opening comments were these: 'I am the moderator, but I hope I am not 'moderate' about Africa. I hope, today, that I will be an accelerator, not just a moderator.' After hearing the panel, I was convinced that that's just what we need - religion that doesn't just moderate, but rather accelerates the struggle for social justice and peace."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Remembering what Bush (hswib) really wanted

Let we forget, Bush originally wanted to take us to war completely without Congress.
"There you have it. From a Senator's mouth to all our (virtual)ears: the Bush/Cheney cabal had no intention of stopping in Iraq. Iran was always in the scope and all this recent talk about sizing them up as they have been supplying munitions is as we all knew: complete and utter bullshit! We need to not just hope, but make the calls as I did after reading this to our civil servants to let them know we will in no way accept any such action by this administration; which will not only be a moral and military fiasco, but a perilous one for our already weakened standing as a Nation."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Libby Trial Begins

In one corner you have the clear, crisp, and concise time-line of events laid out by Patrick Fitzgerald. In the other you have an equally high-powered lawyer doing all that he can to muddy the waters. Right now it looks like a loser case for the White House. There was some really bizarre behavior that can only be explained as a White House strategy to hide the truth. And the only way Scooter wins is if they throw Karl Rove onto the subway tracks. In the end I predict that Karl, Scooter, and Dick Cheney will all be big losers in this one. That calls for a beer!

Addicted to myths about opiates

This guy starts out with a potentially truthful and damning hypothesis that the drug policing and treatment industry creates more addicts. It keeps them in well-funded careers. However he devolves into hyperbole instead of actually making his case.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

What's That?

The Washington Post says our anointed President is "flat wrong". What gives them the right? What could they have been drinking?

Let's Talk Nuclear

A colleague of mine has started a string of discussion on the GNEP.

From the DOE we have this:
January 4, 2007

Department of Energy Releases the Notice of Intent for the GNEP Environmental Impact Statement

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced that a Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for President Bush’s Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) Initiative is posted in the Federal Register. The NOI outlines the programmatic and project-specific proposals of GNEP.

“We continue to mark significant progress with GNEP and we look forward to gaining a broader understanding of the environmental conditions under which we will be operating,” DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon said. “Our need for nuclear power – a safe, emissions-free and affordable source of energy – has never been greater and GNEP puts us on a path to encourage expansion of domestic and international nuclear energy production while reducing nuclear proliferation risks.”

The GNEP PEIS will analyze the potential environmental impacts for both programmatic and project-specific proposed actions, as well as reasonable alternatives, and will also evaluate, at a programmatic level, the potential environmental impacts associated with the international initiatives.

GNEP will recycle spent nuclear fuel and destroy its long-lived radioactive components. To accomplish this, DOE proposes to design, build, and operate three facilities:

1. A nuclear fuel recycling center, which would separate spent nuclear fuel into reusable and waste components and then manufacture new nuclear fast reactor fuel using the reusable components.
2. An advanced recycling reactor, which would destroy long-lived radioactive elements in the new fuel while generating electricity.
3. An advanced fuel cycle research facility, which would perform research and development into spent nuclear fuel recycling processes and other advanced nuclear fuel cycles.

At this time, DOE contemplates that the PEIS will consider 13 sites as possible locations for one or more of the proposed GNEP facilities. Eleven of these sites were selected based on responses received regarding the Funding Opportunity Announcement (http://www.energy.gov/news/4492.htm), as well as 2 additional DOE sites that the Department has preliminarily identified as a possible location for a DOE-directed advanced fuel cycle research facility.

GNEP also includes two international initiatives: 1) Ensure reliable fuel services, in which the U.S would cooperate with countries that have advanced nuclear programs to supply nuclear fuel services to other countries that refrain from pursuing enrichment or recycling facilities to make their own nuclear fuel; and, 2) Development of proliferation-resistant nuclear power reactors suitable for use in developing economies.

To further define the GNEP PEIS and identify key issues, DOE invites the public to comment on the proposed scope during the 90-day comment period that begins with the Federal Register notice and continues through April 4, 2007. All comments received during the public scoping period will be considered in preparing the GNEP PEIS.

To encourage public participation in the GNEP PEIS process, DOE will host scoping meetings, as follows:

February 13 Oak Ridge, TN
February 15 North Augusta, SC
February 22 Joliet, IL
February 26 Hobbs, NM
February 27 Roswell, NM
March 1 Los Alamos, NM
March 6 Paducah, KY
March 8 Piketon, OH
March 13 Pasco, WA
March 15 Idaho Falls, ID
March 19 Washington, DC

As part of President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, GNEP encourages expansion of domestic and international nuclear energy production while minimizing proliferation risks, and reductions in the volume, thermal output, and radiotoxicity of spent nuclear fuel before disposal in a geologic repository.

For more information on GNEP or to review the full text of the GNEP PEIS NOI, visit: http://www.gnep.gov/.

Media contact(s):
Julie Ruggiero, (202) 586-4940

A string of comments follow.