Power Struggle: Electric Utilities Fight Solar Advocates

October 1, 2014

Power Struggle: Electric Utilities Fight Solar Advocates

“As solar technology gets dramatically cheaper, tens of thousands of Americans are putting photovoltaic panels up on their roofs, generating their own power. At the same time, 43 states and Washington DC have ‘net metering’ laws that allow solar-powered households to sell their excess electricity back to the grid at retail prices.

That’s a genuine problem for utilities. All these solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid. Indeed, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory argues that, without policy changes, this trend could soon put utilities in dire financial straits. If rooftop solar were to grab 10 percent of the market over the next decade, utility earnings could decline as much as 41 percent.

To avoid that fate, many utilities are now pushing for reforms that would at least slow the breakneck growth of rooftop solar — say, by scaling back those ‘net metering’ laws. And that’s opened up a war with many fronts.”

– “Solar power is growing so fast that older energy companies are trying to stop it,” Brad Plumer, Vox

More:

“Solar Advocates Fight Utilities Over Grid Access,” Jeff Brady, NPR

“Taxes, fees: the worldwide battle between utilities and solar,” Tracy Rucinski and Byron Kaye, Reuters

“Old Energy’ Utilities See Rising Threat from Solar,” Taegan Goddard, Wonk Wire

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The Umbrella Revolution

September 30, 2014

The Umbrella Revolution

Student protesters in Hong Kong’s Central District have been protecting themselves with umbrellas and plastic sheets. It’s raining tear gas and pepper spray.

Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 with the promise of “One Country, Two Systems,” a pledge that HK citizens could choose their own leaders by 2017. Beijing has reneged on this, hence the pro-democracy protests and the umbrellas. But don’t try to email, text, post, or tweet the word “umbrella” in the city today or you’ll get in trouble with Chinese authorities.

Some Hong Kong protesters put down their umbrellas to meet police with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture they learned from Ferguson’s protesters, but they wear surgical masks and goggles because it doesn’t stop the pepper spray.

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Backyard Chickens Spread Salmonella

September 29, 2014

Backyard Chickens Spread Salmonella

Backyard chickens rule the roost at local regulation hearings, and designer coops and exotic chickens are the new status symbols. The media and Web may abound with pictures of cute kids cuddling hens, but pet family fowls are not an unmixed blessing:

“As of September 23, 2014, a total of 344 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, or Salmonella Hadar have been reported from 42 states and Puerto Rico.

31% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.

Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio.

78% of ill people reported contact with live poultry in the week before their illness began.”

– “Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Live Poultry in Backyard Flocks,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

More:

“Backyard Chickens: Cute, Trendy Spreaders Of Salmonella,” Nancy Shute, NPR

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Image from the National Nursery Book

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How to Write a Joke

September 28, 2014

How to write a joke: Jerry Seinfeld explained it to the New York Times.

Related:

“Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up,” Jonah Weiner, New York Times Magazine

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What’s In a Name? Plenty.

September 27, 2014

More:

“‘Daily Show’ airs segment pitting Redskins fans against Native Americans,” Ian Shapira, Washington Post

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Putin May Be Planning to Shut Off the Internet

September 25, 2014

Putin May Be Planning to Shut Off the Internet

“The Kremlin is considering radical plans to unplug Russia from the global internet in the event of a serious military confrontation or big anti-government protests at home, Russian officials hinted on Friday.

President Vladimir Putin will convene a meeting of his security council on Monday. It will discuss what steps Moscow might take to disconnect Russian citizens from the web “in an emergency”, the Vedomosti newspaper reported. The goal would be to strengthen Russia’s sovereignty in cyberspace. The proposals could also bring the domain .ru under state control, it suggested.”

– “Putin considers plan to unplug Russia from the internet ‘in an emergency,'” Luke Harding, The Guardian

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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India Reaches Mars

September 24, 2014

India Reaches Mars

India’s Mars Orbital Mission (MOM), the unmanned probe also known as Mangalyaan, launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on November 5th, and went into orbit around Mars last night. India’s project cost under $80.3 million, lots less than NASA’s $455 million Maven Mars probe.

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Banned Books Week 2014

September 23, 2014

Banned Books Week 2014

Q: What do the books The Adventures of Captain Underpants andThe Kite Runner have in common?

A: Both books have been banned. Frequently.

It’s Banned Books Week (September 21−27, 2014). The freedom to read what we will is firmly rooted in the First Amendment, yet many who rant about upholding the Constitution would restrict our access to written art, enlightenment, and information. Celebrate liberty and literacy —read a banned book today.

Banned Books Day Events listed by state here.

More:

Banned Books That Shaped America

“Ban This Book,” Grant Snider, Incidental Comics

“Too Graphic? 2014 Banned Books Week Celebrates Challenged Comics,” Lynn Neary, NPR

“6 Historical High Points For Book Banning,” Claire Fallon, Huffington Post

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Image (“Freedom to eRead, after Roger Roth”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,NotionsCapital.com

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Cartoon Lampoons Cartoonish DC NFL Team Owner

September 23, 2014

– “South Park runs anti ‘Redskins’ ad during live Washington game,” James Dator, SB Nation

– “‘South Park’ Takes on Washington’s NFL Team and Its Terrible Name,” Aisha Harris, Slate

– “‘South Park’ blasts Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder in new promo,” Ken Lombardi, CBS News

Related:

“A Super-Simple, Step-by-Step Guide to Determine if Your Team Mascot Is Offensive,” Neil Irwin, New York Times

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Internet fast lanes: ‘It’s bribery.’

September 22, 2014

Internet fast lanes: ‘It’s bribery.’

 

Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web in 1989, recently spoke with the Washington Post‘s Brian Fung about proposed FCC rule changes that would allow Internet Service Providers to charge content companies for higher speed access to consumers, so-called “fast lanes.”

 “If businesses are to move here and start here rather than start in Europe or Brazil or Australia — they’re going to look around and make sure, ‘Oh, does the power stay up?’ And they’ll look for other things. ‘Is the Internet open?’ Will they have to effectively bribe their ISPs to start a new service? That’s what it looks like from the outside. It’s bribery.”

– “World Wide Web inventor slams Internet fast lanes: ‘It’s bribery.’” Brian Fung, Washington Post

Related:

“We Can Win the Fight for an Open Internet — If We Keep up the Pressure,” Michael Copps, Moyers & Company

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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