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Bill USA

Bill USA's Journal
Bill USA's Journal
January 31, 2013

The World's Dirtiest Oil: U.S. Tar Sands Threatens the American West

(emphases my own)

Climate Disruption

Producing a barrel of tar sands oil generates three times more carbon emissions than producing a barrel of conventional oil. In the United States, growing interest in tar sands development, especially in the Western states, could increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from new tar sands projects from 27 to 126 million tons by 2015.

Water Quality, Water Supply

Tar sands extraction is extremely water-intensive. It takes three barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil.2 This decreases surface water flow, which can harm stream habitats for fish and other species that depend on local water supplies. [font color="red"]Less than 10 percent of the water used by tar sands extractions can be returned to its original source, while large amounts of contaminated wastewater must be discarded[/font]3. In Albertan tar sands developments, this toxic wastewater is held in massive tailings ponds that are large enough to be seen from space.

Wildlife and Human Health

These poisonous mining sites have harmful implications for human health and local wildlife. Local communities
near tar sand sites suffer higher-than-average rates of cancer and autoimmune diseases. For example, in some
areas near tar sands the number of cases of bile duct cancer is 30 percent higher than the national average.4
Tar sands developments also pose direct threats to bird populations that have historically used the area
for nesting and mating – the toxic tailings ponds are responsible for the deaths of an estimated 58,000 to
400,000 birds.5 In Alberta alone, the government has recorded the death of countless deer, moose, bear, and
other mammals in the areas surrounding the tar sands developments.
January 31, 2013

Deforestation in Amazon down 83% since peak in 2004.

Since Brazil started enforcing laws against illegal logging and other activities which destroy rainforests they have made considerable progress in reducing deforestation. In 2004 10,722 sq.miles of forest were lost. In 2012, 1,800 sq. miles were lost.

According to Mongabay the biggest factor in deforestation is the expansion of pastureland for cattle.

(emphasis my own)

A Closer Look at Brazilian Deforestation (Update: Future threats to the Amazon)

Like other places in the tropics, deforestation in Brazil is increasingly the result of urban consumption and trade rather than subsistence agriculture.

Today deforestation in the Amazon is the result of several activities, the foremost of which include:
Clearing for cattle pasture
Colonization and subsequent subsistence agriculture
Infrastructure improvements
Commercial agriculture

Clearing for Cattle Pasture

Cattle ranching is the leading cause of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. This has been the case since at least the 1970s: government figures attributed 38 percent of deforestation from 1966-1975 to large-scale cattle ranching. Today the figure is closer to 60 percent, according to research by Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and its Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa). Most of the beef is destined for urban markets, whereas leather and other cattle products are primarily for export markets.

Brazil is today the world's largest exporter and producer of beef. Much of its expansion has taken place in the Amazon, which currently has more than 80 million head of cattle, up from 26.6 million in 1990 and equivalent to more than 85 percent of the total U.S. herd. The Brazilian Amazon has more than 214,000 square miles of pasture, an open space larger than France.

January 29, 2013

Battery Material (developed by Oak Ridge Natl Lab) Prevents Fires, Stores Five Times the Energy

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a solid electrolyte to replace flammable ones used in lithium-ion batteries.

(...yes that is Oak Ridge National Laboratory part of the "problem" government. LOL)

(emphasis my own)

An electrolyte developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could enable lithium-ion batteries that store five to 10 times more energy and are safer than the ones that recently caught fire on Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

While the cause of the Boeing fire hasn’t yet been determined, Boeing could have reduced the risk of fire by choosing a safer electrode chemistry (see “Grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliners Use Batteries Prone to Overheating”). But it would have had fewer options for the electrolyte—the material that allows current to flow through a battery. Lithium-ion batteries, even the ones that use relatively safe electrodes, still use flammable liquid electrolytes.

Solid electrolytes would be much safer, but it’s been difficult to make them conductive enough for use in batteries. The ORNL researchers, in work published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Chemistry Society, have an easy method for making a nanostructured form of one solid electrolyte. The nanostructure improves the material’s conductivity 1,000 times, enough to make it useful in lithium-ion batteries. The researchers also showed that the new material is compatible with high-energy electrodes.

The solid electrolyte isn’t as conductive as liquid electrolytes, but the researchers say they can compensate for this by making the electrolyte very thin, among other measures. Even then, the batteries might not charge as quickly or provide the same boost of power possible with liquid electrolytes, but this would be okay in many applications, such as in electric cars, where the sheer number of battery cells makes it easy to deliver adequate bursts of power.
January 29, 2013

Americans for Prosperity Provides "Grassroots" for Controversial Wisconsin Mining Bill


David Koch's Americans for Prosperity (AFP) chapter in Wisconsin is throwing its support behind a proposed mine in the state's far North. A mining bill -- almost identical to the one that failed last year in the Wisconsin State Senate -- was reintroduced this week in the state legislature. What changed? Republicans picked up two more Senate seats in 2012, which may give mining supporters the slim margin they need.

Gov. Scott Walker with mine workersSB 1/AB 1, commonly called the "Mining Reform Bill," is a renewed effort by supporters of a Florida-based mining company called Gogebic Taconite, or GTAC, to loosen environmental rules so the company can build an open-pit, iron ore mine in rural Northern Wisconsin. The mine is a top priority for Governor Scott Walker who is stung by continued reports placing Wisconsin at the bottom of the nation in terms of job creation. He featured the mine and a small group of miners in hard hats in his State of the Union address last week.

Curiously, the original bill was introduced last session without a sponsor, and it was later uncovered that GTAC itself had helped draft the legislation. This year's incarnation of the bill tracks the same legislative language as before and allows iron-ore mining companies to apply for state permits without permitting "the state of Wisconsin or citizens to challenge the information provided by the mining company in any of their documents," according to the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. Essentially, this would allow GTAC and other mining companies to procure permits in short order without a thorough examination of the environmental impacts of their mines on water resources and communities around the state.

AFP Gathers Mine Supporters from Southeastern Wisconsin

The bill has sparked controversy and heated debate this year, just as it did last year, but with a few unlikely players throwing in their support. Americans for Prosperity, David Koch's Tea Party-affiliated astroturf group, organized buses to carry some thirty-odd supporters of the mine to the Capitol from Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Racine, Waukesha and Milwaukee. The group gathered in the Wisconsin State Capitol to get their talking points from Bill Williams, CEO of GTAC.

January 28, 2013

Virginia Electoral College Rigging Scheme Would Further Disenfranchise Minority Voters


(emphasis my own)

As the Virginia Senate’s Privileges and Elections Committee prepares to take up a bill to rig bill the state’s electoral college vote, Democrats and even Republicans are distancing themselves from the effort, calling it “a bad idea,” “skewing,” and a “partisan bill aimed at defying the will of the voters.” A ThinkProgress analysis of Virginia voter demographics reveals another major flaw with the proposal: it would significantly dilute the influence of minority voters.

The 2012 Virginia Congressional maps, authored by Delegate Robert Bell (R) based on the 2010 U.S. Census, divided the state’s estimated 8,001,024 people into 11 Congressional districts. Though the state population is more than 20 percent African American — and more than 31 percent non-white — just one Congressional district contains a majority of non-white voters (the Third District, which is majority African American). Though white non-Hispanic Virginians makeup just 68.6 percent of the population, they comprise at least 58 percent of the population in all of the other 10 districts.

While many of the electoral college-rigging schemes being pushed by Republicans nationally would still allocate two electors based on the popular winner in the state — the Virginia plan would not even do that. State Sen. Charles “Bill” Carrico Sr.’s Senate Bill 723 would allocate 11 electors based on the popular winner in each of the House districts and two to whichever candidate won the majority of those gerrymandered House districts.

So, with more than one-fifth of the population, African American Virginians would go from having about 20 percent of the say to just controlling one-thirteenth of the state’s electoral votes under the Carrico plan. And racial minority voters overall would go from having about 31 percent of the say, to also controlling just 7.7 percent of the state’s electors.(more)
January 25, 2013

Who Started The Benghazi 'Real time' video Falsehood


Washington Post media writer Erik Wemple has been working doggedly (Fox News and Benghazi Video: for Real?) to correct one of Sean Hannity's favorite false claims about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi: that State Department officials watched "real-time" video of the assault from an office in Washington, DC. Wemple's efforts got an assist from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on January 23: "There was no monitor, there was no real time." As Wemple's debunking of the falsehood makes clear, Hannity has been the primary driver of this claim by repeating on a near-daily basis. But the "real-time" video falsehood did not start with the Fox News host. In fact, one of the first mentions -- perhaps the first -- of the spurious Benghazi video was on Jennifer Rubin's Washington Post blog.

The whole story starts with an October 10, 2012, hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. At that hearing, Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary of state for international programs, had this exchange with Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), describing how she followed via telephone the developments in the Benghazi attack as they were happening:

[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #000000;"]LANKFORD: Mrs. Lamb, can you clarify for me, where -- where were you working September 11? Were you in the Washington area -- were -- in the main facility there?

LAMB: Yes sir. I was in the D.S. Command center on the evening of the event.

LANKFORD: You -- you -- you note that in your testimony that you were in the Diplomatic Security Command Center and then you make this statement, "I could follow what was happening almost in real time."

LAMB: That's correct.

LANKFORD: So once they hit the button in Benghazi, you're alerted, it says you could have. Did you follow what was happening in real time at that point?

LAMB: Sir, what was happening is they were making multiple phone calls and it was very important that they communicate with the annex in Tripoli because this is where additional resources were coming from. So they would hang up on us and then call back.

LANKFORD: But you're -- but you're tracking it back and forth what's going on.

LAMB: Yes absolutely. [Transcript via Nexis, emphasis added]

That night on Fox News' Hannity, Liz Cheney seized on Lamb's testimony, but characterized it correctly:

[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #000000;"]
CHENEY: Today, we learned from Charlene Lamb under oath that she followed, you know, the diplomatic security official, that she followed what was going on, minute by minute. She was following it in real time. So the administration knew in real time, there wasn't a mob, they knew in real time that this was a well-coordinated attack. They knew in real time that it involved heavy weaponry, this was clearly a terrorist attack and the American people have clearly, as you've said, been lied to.

The following morning, October 11, Jennifer Rubin posted a video of Cheney's Hannity appearance in a post headlined "Real-time Libya: Who knew what, when?" In that post, Rubin claimed (citing no other sources) that Lamb had watched a "real-time video" of the attack -- something neither Lamb nor Cheney had said:

[div class="excerpt" style="border: 1px solid #000000;"]
Seriously, something doesn't make sense. Do we think no one else ever got the benefit of that information that mid-level bureaucrat Charlene Lamb had? This was the most urgent issue of the moment in which everyone (the White House, the public, the media) wanted to know what happened in Benghazi. So why not look at the real-time video? Why not ask Lamb what she saw and heard?


also on GOP's 'reality tv' act at Benghazi hearings show: http://www.democraticunderground.com/1251280586
January 25, 2013

Barbara Boxer infuriated at Rand Paul's exhibition at Sec of States expense - Politico


“When I heard him say those words, I walked out of the hearing room and listened to him from behind the stage because I was so infuriated at what that man said,” Boxer told the Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s Politics Nation on Wednesday. Boxer sits on the the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was hosting one of Clinton’s hearings on the Hill. “To suggest that she’s retiring from this post after traveling a million miles and being one of the greatest secretaries of state because of Benghazi is unbelievable.”

.. I commented:

The whole thing was an opportunity for the GOP to act out in public (well, without an audience it's not worth it!)
Whole 'show' was a farce

The whole show was a farce. The Republicans are typical reality show exhibitionists. What they say doesn't mean anything. They live for a chance to make outrageous criticisms of Democrats just to get attention of the air-heads they appeal to.

THE GOP 'questions' the Secretary of State

When it comes to getting anything done or running a Government, the Geo. 'the shrub' Bush's administration was a typical example. The Repubs got everything they wanted. Tax cuts mainly for the rich, making the tax code even more regressive, and Deregulation of the financial services industry (thank you Phil Gramm). What was the inevitable result? we would have had a second Great Depression without the TARP and stimulus efforts (though greatly compromised and sabotaged by the GOP) by President Obama.

I don't remember hearing these Repugnants raising any questions about the lies that got us into Bush's 'Excellent adventure' going after Saddham Hussein...."WEapons of mass destruction", paid for phony intelligence - which the CIA told that administration was not to be trusted. That whole ecapade into invading IRAQ cost several thousand U.S. soldiers lives and helped add to the the World economy's Near Death experience.

When it comes to incompentence the GOP has no equal.


Rand Paul joining in at the Punk Hillary party:

Paul isn't a quarter the 'man' that Hillary is and he has all of 1/10th her smarts. He never fails to be the funniest clown in the Party of Clowns.
January 25, 2013

A Free Database of the Entire Web May Spawn the Next Google

[font size="3"]Common Crawl supplies a database of over five billion Web pages in the hope that it will inspire new research or online services. [/font]


Google famously started out as little more than a more efficient algorithm for ranking Web pages. But the company also built its success on crawling the Web—using software that visits every page in order to build up a vast index of online content.

A nonprofit called Common Crawl is now using its own Web crawler and making a giant copy of the Web that it makes accessible to anyone. The organization offers up over five billion Web pages, available for free so that researchers and entrepreneurs can try things otherwise possible only for those with access to resources on the scale of Google’s.

“The Web represents, as far as I know, the largest accumulation of knowledge, and there’s so much you can build on top,” says entrepreneur Gilad Elbaz, who founded Common Crawl. “But simply doing the huge amount of work that’s necessary to get at all that information is a large blocker; few organizations … have had the resources to do that.”

New search engines are just one of the things that can be built using an index of the Web, says Elbaz, who points out that Google’s translation software was trained using online text available in multiple languages. “The only way they could do that was by starting with a massive crawl. That’s put them on the way to build the Star Trek translator,” he says. “Having an open, shared corpus of human knowledge is simply a way of democratizing access to information that’s fundamental to innovation.”

January 25, 2013

“Hybrid Wing” Uses Half the Fuel of a Standard Airplane - MIT Technology Review

[font size="3"]NASA has demonstrated a manufacturing breakthrough that will allow hybrid wing aircraft to be scaled up. [/font]


Aerospace engineers have long known that ditching a conventional tubular fuselage in favor of a manta-ray-like “hybrid wing” shape could dramatically reduce fuel consumption. A team at NASA has now demonstrated a manufacturing method that promises to make the design practical.

Combined with an extremely efficient type of engine, called an ultra-high bypass ratio engine, the hybrid wing design could use half as much fuel as conventional aircraft. Although it may take 20 years for the technology to come to market, the manufacturing method developed at NASA could help improve conventional commercial aircraft within the next eight to 10 years, estimates Fay Collier, a NASA program manager.

The manufacturing technique lowers the weight of structural components of an aircraft by 25 percent, which could significantly reduce fuel consumption. The advances are the culmination of a three-year, $300 million effort by NASA and partners including Pratt & Whitney and Boeing.

There are two key challenges with the flying wing design. One is how to control such a plane at low speeds. NASA previously addressed this by building a six-meter-wide remote-controlled test aircraft (the X-48B) to demonstrate ways to control hybrid wings. Based on those tests and wind tunnel tests, NASA built a larger remote-controlled aircraft that started test flights last year.
January 24, 2013

Our three-dimensional future: how 3D printing will shape (shake up) the global economy

Neils Bohr said: "Prediction if difficult, especially regarding the future." 3-D printing/manufacturing is a good example of a technology that makes predicting the future difficult. 3-D printers are now being manufacured and sold at modest prices (compared to tooling to manufacture most components) like $4,000 and less. THis makes it easier for smaller operations to get started into business. It also will transform manufacturing in a number of ways.

One of those ways is it will lower many manufacturing costs and thus make transportation a bigger part of the total cost of a delivered item.. And that takes away some of the cost advantages of making an item in cheap labor markets which are far away (like South East Asia). H-m-m-m-m, how very interesting.


Lately, it seems like nearly everything has been reproduced by a 3D printer. Between the group that 3D printed a gun, the people who printed a drone, and the army of items sold at this small marketplace for 3D printed goods, there are plenty of novelty uses for these suddenly trendy machines. We’re a long way from 3D printing a house, but it’s clear that the hobby is inching into the mainstream.

Yet it’s difficult not to wonder: at what point will 3D printing move beyond novelty to industry? Will these machines change the way we manufacture goods, and subsequently change the global economy, too? (Is it already happening before our very eyes?)

The answer: yes and no. The term “3D printing” comprises two very different worlds: hobbyist 3D printing, where people with relatively inexpensive machines print plastic objects in the comfort of their homes; and industrial 3D printing, which is usually referred to by another name: additive manufacturing. They are vastly different and will likely have divergent impacts on the economy. Both, however, are poised to alter the way businesses think about production.

Homeward bound

Right now, home 3D printing is relatively exclusive to hobbyists and makers. A machine for the purpose costs about $4,000, and typically only prints objects from plastic. For now, those objects tend to verge on the trivial: bracelets, puzzle games, figurines. But some envision a future where people will be able to 3D print replacement parts, or even entire products, at home.

3-D Printing Spurs a Manufacturing Revolution - NYT


A 3-D printer, which has nothing to do with paper printers, creates an object by stacking one layer of material — typically plastic or metal — on top of another, much the same way a pastry chef makes baklava with sheets of phyllo dough.

The technology has been radically transformed from its origins as a tool used by manufacturers and designers to build prototypes.

These days it is giving rise to a string of never-before-possible businesses that are selling iPhone cases, lamps, doorknobs, jewelry, handbags, perfume bottles, clothing and architectural models. And while some wonder how successfully the technology will make the transition from manufacturing applications to producing consumer goods, its use is exploding.

A California start-up is even working on building houses. Its printer, which would fit on a tractor-trailer, would use patterns delivered by computer, squirt out layers of special concrete and build entire walls that could be connected to form the basis of a house.

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About Bill USA

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that
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