Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pro Environment and Pro Keystone Pipeline

This is one of those political topics where common sense seems to have been lost.  I'm a pro-environment voter, and here are the basic reasons why I support this project.  First, the biggest environmental risk is in Canada at the source of the drilling.  Canada has cleared the project and is ready to go; they're drilling with or without the U.S.  Second, the pipeline itself has been studied, and studied, and studied some more.  The environmental risks are not significant.  While it's understandable that people often don't like the 'risk is not significant' assessment as it infers there is still a risk, remember 'no risk' is virtually non-existent. There are risks to transporting oil by truck, train, or tanker.  The alternative to no pipeline is not 'no risk.'

The maddening and hyper-political piece of this puzzle that some seem to have trouble grasping the fact that Canada is going drill regardless of what the U.S. does or thinks.  The only question is whether we will accept Canada's oil via pipeline.  Why would we not do this?  Would it be better if the oil was shipped to China?  In an ideal world the U.S. would energy independent, in the next best scenario the U.S. would get it's energy from Canada.

High energy costs burden those with the lowest incomes most.  It acts as a regressive tax, because people can't really live without it.  Simple supply and demand economics dictate that the Keystone Pipeline would mean lower energy costs.  The building of the pipeline would also translate to more jobs, another economic boost. Finally, sourcing our energy from North American sources is so much better than purchasing oil from countries that are hostile to the United States.  Ideally one day we'll be using only renewable energy sources.  However, that day is not today and is certainly not likely to occur in the next decade.  So until that day arrives, how about a practical approach to energy... Canada is good, and so is their pipeline.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tesla Motors A Good Sign for the Future of Electric & Hybrid Cars

A couple months ago Rambling Web noted that Porsche was breaking the mold for hybrid cars by developing a true hybrid super car - Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid Blows Up Stereotypes. Yet the major question was whether the 918 Spyder would sell.

Well Tesla Motors, taking a different tact, is showing the an upscale electric car can sell quite well. According to 'Wall Streets Cheat Sheet,' Tesla's Model S is actually outselling BMW and Mercedes the competing cars in its class.

This is great news for the future of electric and hybrid cars.  It shows that as the quality of these cars increases that demand will likely increase too.  As 'Wall Streets Cheat Sheet' notes the success of the Model S opens the door for a more affordable model in the future.

Tesla’s Model S Is Shaming BMW and Mercedes
While Tesla faced huge criticisms about the Model S being too expensive, which would result in a stagnancy of demand, it appears the concerns were unfounded, and that the demand is leading the segment. Given the company’s limitations as a start-up with a product that has yet to become mainstream, these figures are especially impressive.

Moreover, the Model S was never meant to be an affordable, mass market car; the company was never aiming to build the next GM Chevy (NYSE:GM) Volt or Nissan Leaf. The Model S was designed from the ground up as a luxury car, meant to compete with the likes of the 7 Series and A8.

The company’s business model suggests that as electric cars become more accepted, and concerns over range anxiety and other problems subside, the high cost of electric car technology will slope downward. And when that happens, Tesla will be ready and waiting with an entry-level, ballpark $30,000 model to market to the masses.
Tesla Motors

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Three Students Charged In Connection with Boston Marathon Bombings

Boston news stations had all day coverage yesterday of the arrest of three students charged with covering up evidence in the Boston Marathon Bombing case.

From The Guardian - Boston bombing: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's college friends charged with cover-up

Three teenage college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect, were charged on Wednesday with covering up evidence in an attempt to obstruct the investigation into the attack, which killed three people and injured more than 260.

Two Kazakh students and a third man, a US citizen, all 19, are alleged to have disposed of Tsarnaev's laptop and a backpack containing fireworks in the frenzied hours after the names of the two Boston bombing suspects were made public.

Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both from Kazakhstan, and Robel Phillipos, a US citizen, appeared before a federal judge in a brief court hearing in Boston on Wednesday afternoon. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a fine of $250,000. Phillipos was charged with making false statements to federal investigators, which carries a maximum sentence of eight years and a fine of $250,000.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Senate Special Election Underway in Massachusetts

RePost from The Independent Blogger: Surprise in Massachusetts Special Election

An upcoming election to watch started with an upset in the Republican Primary last night. Massachusetts Senate seat special election Republican candidate is Gabriel Gomez. He will face off against long time Democrat Congressman Ed Markey.

From the National Review Gomez’s Upset Victory Shakes Up Mass. Senate Race

Massachusetts voters will fill Secretary of State John Kerry’s Senate seat on June 25. The choices couldn’t be more of a contrast. Democrat Ed Markey is a 66-year-old liberal who was first elected to Congress in 1976, when eight-track tapes were the rage. Republican Gabriel Gomez, is a 47-year-old with an MBA from Harvard, who is the son of Columbian immigrants and a former Navy SEAL. He raised $1.2 million in yesterday’s GOP primary, which enabled him to buy TV ads that led to an upset 51 percent to 36 percent victory over Michael Sullivan, a conservative former district attorney.

Massachusetts is a deeply blue state but surprises can happen in elections that don’t feature presidential levels of voter turnout. Four of the last six governors have been Republicans, and in 2010 Scott Brown shook the political world with his upset special-election victory. He went on to lose his reelection bid in 2012, as Barack Obama swept the state.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Syria Human Rights Violations Now War Crimes?

A fascinating debate occurred on CNN's AC360 last night.  Christiane Amanpour and Senator John McCain made a strong argument that Syria's use of chemical weapons on its own people crosses a line from human rights violation into international war crime.  Amanpour compared the situation to Bosnia, where a blind eye was turned to genocide because of a reluctance to commit military assets. Today there is a piece in the Washington Post, Obama should remember Rwanda as he weighs action in Syria, that compares Syria's atrocities to those in Rwanda, and quotes an exchange between Reuters and a spokes person for the state department...

Elsner: “How would you describe the events taking place in Rwanda?”

Shelly: “Based on the evidence we have seen from observations on the ground, we have every reason to believe that acts of genocide have occurred in Rwanda.”

Elsner: “What’s the difference between ‘acts of genocide’ and ‘genocide’?”

Shelly: “Well, I think the — as you know, there’s a legal definition of this. . . . Clearly not all of the killings that have taken place in Rwanda are killings to which you might apply that label. . . . But as to the distinctions between the words, we’re trying to call what we have so far as best as we can; and based, again, on the evidence, we have every reason to believe that acts of genocide have occurred.”

Elsner: “How many acts of genocide does it take to make genocide?”

Shelly: “Alan, that’s just not a question that I’m in a position to answer.”

As President Obama and his advisers look for “more conclusive evidence” that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against his people, he would do well to remember this shameful moment. The evidence Obama is reviewing first surfaced in December, when the U.S. consul in Istanbul sent a cable detailing interviews with victims and observers of an attack in Homs just before Christmas and concluding that it was likely that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Questions About the Boston Bombings

Unfortunately with the Boston bombings, there will likely never be a satisfactory answer to the question 'why?' However, Time does do a good job in summarizing some of the most pressing questions that do need to be answered about recent attacks. Four Enduring Mysteries About the Boston Bombings

Did They Really Act On Their Own? During his initial interrogation, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev reportedly said that he and his brother Tamerlan acted alone, motivated by anger over America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that they learned how to construct their bombs online. Officials have disclosed no evidence to the contrary, but there are hints of a more complex plot. By some accounts, their bomb detonators–exploded via remote controllers for toy cars–required a sophistication that the Tsarnaev brothers didn’t otherwise show when, for instance, they failed to wear disguises to the marathon site, or when they carelessly allowed a hostage to escape. “There was some outside counsel to these individuals on how to build and how to detonate,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers told Fox News last week, although a national security source also told Fox that the toy-car detonator is not a known al Qaeda technique.