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Archive for September 4th, 2014

How the Universal ‘Anger Face’ Evolved

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

How the Universal ‘Anger Face’ Evolved
Science Daily: The next time you get really mad, take a look in the mirror. See the lowered brow, the thinned lips and the flared nostrils? That’s what social scientists call the “anger face,” and it appears to be part of our basic biology as humans. Now, researchers at UC Santa Barbara and at Griffith University in Australia have identified the functional advantages that caused the specific appearance of the anger face to evolve. Their findings appear in the current online edition of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Joan Rivers Dies
The comedian Joan Rivers died Thursday at age 81, her daughter announced. “It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Joan Rivers,” Melissa Rivers said. “She passed peacefully at 1:17 p.m. surrounded by family and close friends.” Joan Rivers suffered cardiac arrest Aug. 28 during surgery. She had been performing stand-up comedy since the 1960s, first appearing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1965, later becoming his permanent guest host. “When I started out, a pretty girl did not go into comedy. If you saw a pretty girl walk into a nightclub, she was automatically a singer. Comedy was all white, older men,” Rivers wrote in 2012. “I didn’t even want to be a comedian. Nobody wanted to be a comedian!”


Fashion reflects on Joan Rivers’ love-hate legacy

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Fashion reflects on Joan Rivers’ love-hate legacy
NEW YORK (AP) — In the intense, high-stakes world of fashion, Joan Rivers helped change the game.

Stocks drop as oil drop offsets ECB stimulus
A slump in oil prices is weighing on the stock market, pushing the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its third straight loss.

Obama taps Google, Twitter execs for tech jobs
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has named executives from Google and Twitter to tops spots on his technology policy team.


Obama and NATO face uncertainty instead of closure in Afghanistan

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Obama and NATO face uncertainty instead of closure in Afghanistan
NATO allies expected to celebrate this week the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, but the country’s political turmoil has upended those plans


Fox’s Tantaros: Obama “Has A World View That Is Very Anti-American”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Fox’s Tantaros: Obama “Has A World View That Is Very Anti-American”

From the September 4 edition of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor:

Previously:

Fox Host Says Obama Is “Tipping His Hat” To ISIS By Calling Them ISIL

A Fox News Analyst Blames Obama For Islamic State’s Beheading Of Steven Sotloff

Fox Host Requests Putin Be US President For 48 Hours To Deal With Islamic State


Democrat Withdraws From U.S. Senate Race in Kansas

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Democrat Withdraws From U.S. Senate Race in Kansas
John Hanna, RealClearPolitics
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Democrat challenging three-term Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has ended his campaign without explanation. Chad Taylor sent a letter to the Kansas secretary of state on Wednesday withdrawing from the race, which also has a viable independent candidate, Olathe businessman Greg Orman, as well as a Libertarian candidate, Randall Batson of Wichita. Taylor issued a separate statement saying he made the decision after consulting with his staff, supporters and Democratic Party leaders. “Effective today, my campaign is terminated,” he said. Originally, the statement said…

Eric Holder: A More Dangerous Race-Card Hustler Than Al Sharpton
Larry Elder, RealClearPolitics
It’s one thing to watch race hustlers like the Rev. Al Sharpton bellowing, “No justice, no peace.” But when the attorney general of the United States makes false but racially incendiary claims about today’s alleged “pernicious racism,” we are in uncharted territory. Holder complains about different prison rates, different school expulsion rates and longer prison sentences for black boys and men compared to white boys and men. He equates “equal rights” with “equal results.” In Ferguson, Missouri, after announcing federal investigation into the cop-shooting death of an unarmed black teen,…

Dems Ignore Blowback Risks in Harsh Rhetoric Barrage
Scott Conroy, RealClearPolitics
It’s easy to forget now, but there once was a time when the Democratic Party was accustomed to chastising itself over some candidates’ timidity. But with two months until the midterm elections, visions of Michael Dukakis and John Kerry failing to go on the offensive amid Republican attacks are just distant memories. This year, the bigger concern for Democrats appears to be that some of their own histrionic broadsides against GOP opponents will trigger a voter backlash. In three key midterm races over the last few days, Democrats have launched the kind of invective that might have made Lee…


Lib Dems pushing for early Budget

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Lib Dems pushing for early Budget
The Lib Dems want the 2015 Budget to be brought forward to stop the chancellor using it as a pre-election giveaway, BBC Newsnight understands.

Nato summit a ‘historic moment’
The eyes of the world are on Wales as the Nato summit begins in Newport bringing together more than 60 heads of state and government.

Miliband: SNP are ‘conning’ voters
Ed Miliband claims the SNP would continue Tory policies after independence, and predicts Labour will win the next election.


New Light on Hamas Role in Killings of Teenagers That Fueled Gaza War

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

New Light on Hamas Role in Killings of Teenagers That Fueled Gaza War
Israeli documents cite no evidence that the top leaders of Hamas had prior knowledge of a plot involving the abduction and killing of three Israeli teenagers.



Erez Crossing Journal: Between Gaza and Israel, a Border Crossing in Need of Travelers
The Erez crossing, which has been dramatically restricted since 2007, is a critical part of the effort to maintain a cease-fire.



Sergio Rodrigues, Father of Brazilian Furniture Design, Dies at 86
His tables, chairs and other living accessories were said to reflect the sociable, witty nature of the Brazilian national character.




America’s First Cellulosic Biofuel Plant To Use Corn Waste Is Open In Iowa

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

America’s First Cellulosic Biofuel Plant To Use Corn Waste Is Open In Iowa

The $275 million Project LIBERTY plant is the second cellulosic plant to begin operation in the U.S., and the first to use corn waste as its feedstock.

The post America’s First Cellulosic Biofuel Plant To Use Corn Waste Is Open In Iowa appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Guests tour the POET-DSM cellulosic ethanol plant on September 3, 2014.

Guests tour the POET-DSM cellulosic ethanol plant on September 3, 2014.

CREDIT: AP Photo / Charlie Neibergall

This Wednesday, a cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa opened for business. It’s the second cellulosic plant to begin operation in the United States, and the first to use the waste from corn crops as its feedstock.

The $275 million plant — dubbed “Project LIBERTY” — is a joint project between South Dakota-based ethanol producer POET, and the Dutch science and chemical company Royal DSM. The facility is expected to produce seven to twelve million gallons of cellulosic ethanol this year, but should be able to scale up to its total capacity of 25 million gallons annually after that.

The significance of cellulosic ethanol is that it’s made from the tough, fibrous, inedible parts of plants — as opposed to standard biofuels, which are traditionally made from corn. This allows it to avoid the two pitfalls that tend to plague biofuel production. First off, it avoids the risk of driving up food prices because it doesn’t compete over the same products people are purchasing to eat. And second, because it uses waste from agriculture that would’ve occurred anyway, it avoids driving up demand to change more virgin land into cropland — a shift which reduces the land’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide, and thus exacerbates the very climate change biofuels are meant to combat.

For instance, the United States’ other cellulosic ethanol plant — which started up in August of 2013 in Vero Beach, Florida — is producing around 8 million gallons a year through a gassification process that uses vegetable, lawn, and wood product waste. Meanwhile, the POET-DSM plant uses the stalks and husks left over from corn harvests.

According to the Sioux City Journal, the POET-DSM plant will take in 770 tons of biomass daily, and will pay farmers $65 to $75 per dry ton of corn waste. POET founder Jeff Broin also told the Journal that the plant should hit sales of $250 million in 2020 from its cellulosic ethanol and associated licensing, assuming continued support for biofuels from the government’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

The RFS is a federal mandate originally passed in 2007 requiring a certain amount of biofuel be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply each year, with the overall number broken down into different requirements from traditional biofuel, advanced biofuels, biodiesel, and cellulosic biofuels specifically. The initial goal was to ratchet the numbers for each category up higher each year, thus increasing market demand and driving the technology forward. But after that, the RFS hit a series of massive speed bumps.

Cellulosic biofuel technology, it turned out, was proceeding much slower than anticipated. So the original law’s goals for 2010 and 2011 had to be massively scaled back, and then revised all the way to zero for 2012. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been slowly trying to scale the requirements back up, but even its initial hope for 6 million gallons in 2013 had to be dropped to around 800,000 gallons. The RFS’ cellulosic goal for 2014 is currently 17 million gallons, though that rule remains in flux.

The RFS total mandate for all biofuels in 2014 also took a hit, when EPA proposed cutting it from 18.15 billion gallons to 15.21 billion — the first time the total mandate had ever been reduced. Finalization for that decision is still pending, and EPA has pushed the deadlines for meeting the 2013 numbers back multiple times.

This gets especially thorny because — along with the challenges facing cellulosic technology and concerns about traditional biofuels’ effects on food prices and land use — pressure from the oil industry has been instrumental in pushing EPA’s revisions. Their claim is that American infrastructure currently can’t handle a mix of biofuel beyond a certain percentage. But oil producers and refiners also have a vested market interest in preventing biofuels from pushing out their own product. Meanwhile, the cellulosic ethanol industry is deeply intermingled with traditional biofuels — POET itself owns 27 other standard corn ethanol plants. So while many policymakers, environmentalists, and other activists would like to try to cleave off cellulosic ethanol as worth promoting, and leave the rest of the biofuel industry behind, the fight between the oil and cellulosic industries themselves tend not to differentiate between the two.

Beyond the RFS, the state of Iowa pumped around $20 million into the POET-DSM plant through tax credits and job training programs, and the U.S. Department of Energy also provided the project a $100 million investment grant to support its research into enzyme-based cellulosic ethanol production.

Iowa’s government estimates the plant will add $24.4 billion to the state’s economy over the next two decades and create thousands of jobs.

Beyond the POET-DSM plant and the Vero Beach project, there are several other cellulosic ethanol plants are expected to open soon. Abengoa Bioenergy is expected to start operations at its 25-million-gallon plant in Hugoton, Kansas, later this year. And DuPont is building a plant in Nevada, Iowa, that should be able to pump out 30 million gallons a year when its fully up and running.

So the hope is that commercial production of cellulosic ethanol my finally have found its footing in the United States.

The post America’s First Cellulosic Biofuel Plant To Use Corn Waste Is Open In Iowa appeared first on ThinkProgress.

September Climate Summit In New York City Will Be Missing Key Leaders

The leaders of China and India are not planning to attend this month’s U.N Climate Summit in New York City.

The post September Climate Summit In New York City Will Be Missing Key Leaders appeared first on ThinkProgress.

shutterstock_165315317

CREDIT: Shutterstock

On September 21st, what is being promoted as the “largest climate march in history” will take place on the streets of New York City. But no matter how many concerned citizens show up to express their support for climate action, the absence of two world leaders at the daylong U.N. Climate Summit two days later will be felt throughout the week of climate-related activities.

The leaders of China and India are not planning to attend this month’s summit, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. President Xi Jinping of China and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi oversee the first and third-leading greenhouse gas emitting countries on the planet and their decision to refrain from attending the high-profile meeting is troubling for the prospects of a new climate agreement coming together by the end of 2015.

In late July, the White House confirmed that President Obama, leader of the second largest GHG emitter, will attend the summit. While the U.S.’s carbon footprint has leveled off, China and India’s continue to increase as the demand for power in those countries increases along with economic growth.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is hoping to use the summit to galvanize the ongoing effort for a global climate deal to follow the Kyoto Protocol. While the Sept. 23 summit is not an official negotiating session it will bring together world leaders, business executives, and activist groups to push the discussion forward and generate stated commitments and “ambition announcements.”

The next official negotiating session will be at the U.N. climate conference in Lima, Peru in December. Leaders hope to reach a global agreement a year later, at the session in Paris.

Qin Gang, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, told Bloomberg Businessweek that the country wasn’t ready to confirm who would attend the summit and said it’s “biased” to suggest that who attends the meeting sends any signal about China’s commitment to protecting the climate.

In a joint op-ed in the Guardian on Thursday, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Mario Molina, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, write that the summit offers “a moment in time for heads of state, cities, organizations, and companies to announce bold new initiatives to address climate change in the short to medium term.”

They also write that this needs to coincide with a long-term view that extends 50 years or so. They call that view one of ‘climate neutrality’ — “i.e. not putting in more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than natural processes take out:”

Let us be clear. Climate neutrality is not nirvana or an alternative universe — it is about dramatically reducing current emissions to the point where we reach a balance between those emissions entering the atmosphere and the capacity of the Earth to absorb them.

This will require charting the path from the high emission society we have today — including initially through some level of certified carbon offsets — to a deep, decarbonization of the global economy before arriving finally at a climate neutral family of nations.

China and India together represent a significant chunk of the makeup of that family of nations. They are both struggling to provide more energy to demanding citizens while also fighting to reduce hazardous levels of air pollution found in many of their urban centers. While coal use continues to grow, both countries have made headway recently in a push for renewable energy sources. India’s newly elected PM, Modi, has focused on solar power as a clean, cheap, and distributed way to bring power to the hundreds of millions who lack it in the subcontinent while China is experimenting with pilot carbon markets in an effort to curtail pollution.

Population growth in China and India also means food and water will be in higher demand than ever in the coming decades. With climate models predicting changing rainfall patterns and melting freshwater glaciers, the less proactive these countries are in mitigating their emissions the more domestic security issues they stand to face.

However, even if the top Chinese and Indian leaders are absent at the summit they are still engaged at a high level on climate negotiations. There is no doubt they will be paying close attention to the commitments and cooperation put forth by major developed countries. If the summit yields some tangible and promising results it could still lead to meaningful action from all nations at next year’s conference in Paris.

“I think the important issue for us is really on the commitments that countries will bring,” Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Wednesday. “And the Secretary General expects every member state to come with strong and bold commitments on climate change.”

The post September Climate Summit In New York City Will Be Missing Key Leaders appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Mitch McConnell Reveals His True Colors

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 4th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Mitch McConnell Reveals His True Colors
From: Katrina vanden Heuvel

Audiotape from a strategy session convened by the Koch brothers reveals that McConnell is nothing but a cynical obstructionist. 

Ohio Early Voting Cuts Violate the Voting Rights Act
From: Ari Berman

A big victory for voting rights in a key battleground state

The Fatal Flaw in American Foreign Policy
From: William Greider

The orthodox American policy is that if challenged, the US must go to war to prove itself, to show the world it is still Superman and willing to shed blood and treasure to defend that franchise.

The BRICS: Challengers to the Global Status Quo
From: Foreign Policy In Focus

Can the BRICS wrest control of the global economy from the United States and Europe, or will their internal contradictions tear them apart?