Reid and Boehner meet for first time since election

November 17, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Washington (CNN) – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and expected Speaker-to-be Rep. John Boehner met Wednesday morning for the first time since the election.  The unannounced meeting the two men who will lead the next Congress took place in Reid’s office suite in the Capitol.

Aides to the New Mexico Democrat and the Republican from Ohio said the two leaders agreed neither office would provide advance notice of the meeting or any read-out of what they discussed.

The ability of Reid and Boehner to forge a working relationship could play a major role in whether much gets done in the new Congress. One key challenge for them will be melding competing House and Senate bills into legislation that both the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate can adopt.


CNN Political Ticker

Obama Awards The Medal of Honor to the First Living Recipient Since the Vietnam War

November 16, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Noting that as a soldier he is as “humble as he is heroic,” President Obama awarded Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta the nation’s highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, in a celebratory East Room ceremony this afternoon.



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Political Punch

Mom Tina Herrmann, Children Sarah Maynard & Kody Maynard, and Friend Stephanie Sprang Missing in Ohio Since 11/10/2010

November 14, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

What happened to the 4 missing individuals in a rural Ohio town?

32 year old Tina Herrmann, her 41 year old friend Stephanie Sprang, and Herrmann’s 13 year-old daughter Sarah Maynard, and 10 year-old son Kody Maynard have been missing since Wednesday, November 10, 2010. The search continues for the four who have vansihed without a trace.

  • Sarah M. Maynard is 5 feet tall, weighing 90 pounds, with blonde hair and green eyes.
  • Kody A. Maynard was described as 4 feet, 10 inches tall, weighing 70 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.
  • Sprang is 5 feet, 3 inches tall, weighing 110 pounds, with blonde hair and green eyes.
  • Herrmann was described as 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighing 122 pounds, with sandy blonde hair and blue eyes.

 

Missing: Stephanie Sprang (top lft), Tina Herrmann (top rt), Kody Maynard (bottom lft) and Sarah Maynard (bottom rt)

Tina Herrmann failed to show up to work at a Dairy Queen in Mount Vernon, Ohio on Wednesday; however, the children were in school Wednesday, but not Thursday. Police went to the home  Herrmann on Wednesday and saw her pickup truck in the yard, some light was on; however, no one answered the door. On Thursday, the manager of the Dairy Queen entered the home on Thursday and discovered blood and some things out of place. The blood was referred to an an“unsual” amount of blood. Investigators are testing samples the blood discovered.

The sheriff described their disappearance as a missing persons case.

“Detectives are interviewing family members, friends and acquaintances,” Barber told CNN affiliate WBNS on Saturday. “Right now, there is no indication that they were abducted.”

Herrmann failed to report to work at a Dairy Queen in Mount Vernon, in central Ohio, on Wednesday. A deputy came twice to the house and saw Herrmann’s pickup truck. Lights were on in the house, but no one answered the door, Barber said.

“There were no signs of anything out of place,” he said.

A Dairy Queen manager entered the home on Thursday and discovered the blood.

“There is blood in the house. There is a sign of injury to a person or persons,” Barber said Friday.

 

 On Thursday, Herrmann’s pick up truck discovered Thursday night near Kenyon College in Gambier, OH which prompted a college lockdown. Police alerted the college that there might be a dangerous person in the area who might have left the vehicle of the 4 missing persons. The college lifted the lock down on Friday.

What would cause four people to simply disappear at what seems to be separate times? Tina Herrmann’s ex-boyfriend, Greg Borders, stated that the couple lived together but were in the process of breaking up … RUT-ROH! Borders said, We were fairly civil, as civil as you can be living in the same house when you’re broken up.” Um, “AS CIVIL AS YOU CAN BE”? That is hardly a good sign.

Herrmann’s boyfriend Greg Borders told the Columbus Dispatch that the couple lived together but were in process of breaking up. He last said he last heard from her Wednesday via text message.

“We were both going to go our separate ways,” he told the paper “We were fairly civil, as civil as you can be living in the same house when you’re broken up.”

What are the odds that the initial crime took place after the children had went to school on Wednesday and they came home and walked into the middle of the cover up of the crime? The fact that Herrmann’s pick up was located would indicate that they are not on the run. If this crime was committed by a stranger, why the need to move the vehicle?

For more information, updates and to provide your own opinions, go to Scared Monkeys.net Missing Persons Forum.

If anyone has any information regarding the whereabouts of the missing persons or information regarding the case, please call the Knox County Sheriff’s Office at 740-397-3333.

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Scared Monkeys

Study Finds That 100,000 Latinos Have Left Arizona Since The Implementation Of Its Radical Immigration Law

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

This past summer, Arizona began the implementation of its draconian new immigration law, SB-1070. Now, a new study from BBVA Bancomer Research, using data collected by the U.S. Current Population Survey, finds that as many as 100,000 Latinos may have left the state in the time period between when the law was enacted and October of this year:

A new study suggests there may be 100,000 fewer Latinos in Arizona than there were before the debate over the state’s tough new immigration law earlier this year.

BBVA Bancomer Research, which did the study, worked with figures from the U.S. Current Population Survey. The study says the decline could be due to a new law that would allow police to question the immigration status of those they suspect are in the country illegally, which partly took effect in July.

The study is careful to note that it is not claiming that the exodus was a result of Arizona’s new immigration law; another possible factor is a worsening economy. But Mexican government figures show that “23,380 Mexicans returned from Arizona to Mexico between June and September” of this year.

ThinkProgress

Freshmen Orientation Update: Fewest Incumbents Since 1992

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

More than one-fifth (22%) of the 112th Congress will be new members, the largest proportion since 1992, according to First Read at MSNBC News. Depending on the results of nine remaining House races, the House’s level of incumbents could be the lowest since 1948. This information updates a post from last week, Electeds’ Freshman Orientation: More Like A Hangover Than a Party which includes a comment or two wondering if in fact the incoming frosh class is any bigger than any other year. It would appear to be hitting some records indeed.


The Moderate Voice

Fewest Incumbents Elected Since 1948

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Based on results of Tuesday’s election, NBC News finds that 22% or more of the next Congress will be comprised of new members — the most since 1992.

“There are still nine uncalled House races, all involving Democratic incumbents. The results of those races could change the numbers slightly. Republicans lead in five of those, and if they do win, the incumbent reelection rate would still appear to be high 85%, but it would be the lowest in the House since 1948.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Fewest Incumbents Elected Since 1948

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Based on results of Tuesday’s election, NBC News finds that 22% or more of the next Congress will be comprised of new members — the most since 1992.

“There are still nine uncalled House races, all involving Democratic incumbents. The results of those races could change the numbers slightly. Republicans lead in five of those, and if they do win, the incumbent reelection rate would still appear to be high 85%, but it would be the lowest in the House since 1948.”
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire

Energy and Global Warming News for November 1: Sunshine State first to get high-speed rail; Swiss solar plane breaks multiple records; England’s wettest autumn since records began in 1697

November 2, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Florida will build nation’s first high-speed rail corridor

As the Obama Administration pushes for high-speed rail networks across the country, Germany’s Siemens has secured a place for its Valero ICE trains in the Sunshine State.

Earlier this month, Siemens presented its vision of U.S. high-speed rail to the people of Florida with the “Future of Florida High-Speed Rail Tour,” a traveling exhibit featuring a full-sized model of the Velaro high-speed train.

Apparently, the strategy worked, as Florida recently announced that it would make transportation history as the first state to build a high-speed rail corridor, with trains connecting Tampa to Orlando and then to Miami in a second phase.

“We want to give Floridians a taste of what a true high-speed rail train looks and feels like,” added Oliver Hauck, president of Siemens Mobility in the U.S. “Siemens Velaro trains are successfully running on some of the fastest and most important routes in the world today.”

Swiss solar plane confirmed as multiple record-breaker

Aeronautical authorities on Friday confirmed world records for a Swiss solar-powered aircraft that flew around the clock in July, including those for the longest and highest flight by such an aircraft.

Solar Impulse was credited with the longest flight in the category of solar powered aeroplanes, by staying aloft for 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds, the International Aeronautical Federation (FAI) said.

It also set an altitude record by flying at 9,235 metres (30,298 feet), and a record for the biggest height gain (8,744 metres) during the pioneering flight.

“The FAI congratulates (pilot) André Borschberg and the whole team involved in Solar Impulse on these splendid achievements.”

The experimental single-seater with solar panels cast across a wingspan matching that of a large airliner flew in 14 hours of sunshine to power, also allowing it to charge up its batteries and fly on through darkness.

Majority of Americans support increased funding for clean energy research

In an era of concern about federal spending and deficits, a large majority of Americans (even among Republicans) support federal investment in energy research and development, finds a recent Pew survey.

“There is broad public support for a variety of other proposals to address the nation’s energy situation. About eight-in-ten (79%) favor requiring better fuel efficiency for cars, trucks and SUVs, and 74% support increasing federal funding for research on wind, solar and hydrogen technology.”

While the poll finds an overall decline in Republican support since 2008, a majority of Republicans still support these policies, with 64% of Republicans favoring increasing federal funding for alternative energy technology, down from 85% in 2008, and 79% supporting better fuel efficiency for automobiles, down 13 points from two years ago.

Meanwhile, Democrat support has steadily increased in the past few years, with 84% in favor of increased federal investment in clean energy technologies and 89% endorsing higher fuel efficiency standards.

California unveils final plan for cap-and-trade scheme

California unveiled the final draft proposals for its planned emissions cap-and-trade programme late last week, prompting a mixed reception from business leaders.

While some Californians see the regulations as a positive spur for green jobs, others have criticised the policy as being too ambitious given the current economic challenges faced by the state.

The Californian scheme largely mirrors the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) and as such will be initially restricted to large emitters of greenhouse gases. Participants in the scheme will receive tradable emissions allowances and those exceeding their emissions caps will be required to purchase additional allowances. The caps have been set in line with the state’s 2006 AB 32 law, which requires California to return to 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

As with the EU ETS, the initial impact of the scheme will be minimised as regulators have chosen to give away between 97 per cent and 98 percent of the necessary allowances to polluters for free when the program starts in 2012. Environmental groups had hoped that firms would be forced to buy all the allowances they need at auction, providing a further financial incentive for them to cut emissions, but officials have moved to limit the costs associated with the scheme.

For example, oil drilling, cement and some other selected industries will be granted 100 per cent of permits through to 2020 for free, although more efficient firms are set to receive more free allowances.

England’s wettest autumn since records began

Ten years ago England was drenched by prolonged downpours that led to the three months ending 30 November being the wettest autumn since records began in 1697. There was a respite until February, and then the rains returned. Southern counties were particularly affected; some places had three times as much rain as average. Substantial flooding followed in Kent and Sussex.

One result of this extraordinarily prolonged wet period, which broke records both for intensity and volume of rain, was that the aquifers which supply southern England’s rivers and drinking water overflowed. Springs that had long disappeared, some built over by unwise developers, flowed freely and caused delight or despair depending on where they suddenly came to life. The Thames became much longer when its traditional source, a spring just south-west of Cirencester, produced a vigorous stream after being dry for years. Other forgotten springs upstream joined the flow.

By 2005, after a prolonged dry period, those springs had dried up. Rainfall had been so low for two winters that 12 million people in the south endured water restrictions, mostly hosepipe bans. Unusual short-term extremes do nothing to alter the climate change prediction that the UK will have wetter winters, but they do make planning for water needs difficult. Hydrologists say that to top up the aquifers for 2011, southern England could do with prolonged rainfall between now and Christmas.

$ 57 Million available for new green processes

Last month, the Department of Energy announced $ 57 million in awards to 33 small businesses dealing in the world of clean energy production in order to “accelerate commercialization of clean energy techniques, increase American competitiveness and create jobs.” The money is intended to help businesses who already have proven new technologies to bring up production in order to allow these businesses to hire new people and move further within their industry.

While many people carp about the government going out of its way to hurt small business owners through its policies, the DoE’s money is going, 100%, to small businesses working with larger ones, with universities, and with laboratories. The DoE is awarding money in amounts between $ 500,000 and $ 3 million, helping them to continue expanding in the face of a brutal job market and difficult economy.

Some of the organizations cited as recipients include Renewable Algal Energy, LLC, in Kingsport, Tennessee, which develops technology to transform algae into biodiesel and took the largest award at $ 3 million. Universal Display Corporation of Ewing, New Jersey, received $ 2 million to continue development of organic LED-based lighting products (such as bulbs and fixtures), moving a step further from the fluorescent bulbs now popular in much of the world.

Bacteria can build better roads for our peak oil years

Local jurisdictions in Red state America, increasingly unable to agree to taxes to jointly afford repaving at peak oil prices are simply letting roads decline – in the same way as after the fall of the Roman Empire, in the dark ages there, many roads in Europe returned to mud tracks.

But an innovative new oil-free way of surfacing roads could be on the way to save us from peak oil. This “sandstone” road surface is built by bacteria just using sand, so it’s cheaper. The idea from Thomas Kosbau + Andrew Wetzler is the winning entry in the Korean green design iida awards, announced by designboom.

The idea is to use an abundant resource – sand – and to mix the sand with a solution containing the microbe Bacillus Pasteurii, which cements the sand into a biologically engineered hardened sandstone. Then the sand-and-microbe solution is sprayed onto a layer of sand underneath and hardens the whole thing into a tough road surface made of bio-sandstone.

Currently roads are built of asphalt – a toxic material made of crude oil, that creates heat islands and is subject to peak oil. The advantages of replacing asphalt are both financial and environmental.

It takes 320 barrels of oil to build one kilometer of asphalt roadway.
Made from crude oil, asphalt had a price rise of 222% between 2003 and 2008, which is symptomatic of peak oil and likely to keep happening as we use up the remainder of a finite resource.

Vietnam and Japan to mine rare earths together

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam has chosen to partner Japan in mining rare earth minerals and building a nuclear power plant in the Southeast Asian country, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Sunday, as Tokyo seeks to reduce its dependence on China.

Japan, the world’s third-biggest nuclear power generator, is also eyeing fast-growing markets to develop nuclear plants as electricity demand in the country is likely to stay flat or rise slightly due to its aging society and industries going abroad.

“Prime Minister (Nguyen Tan) Dung told me this (rare earths) decision was a political and strategic one,” Kan told reporters after meeting Dung.

China gave repeated assurances at an Asia-Pacific summit in Hanoi that ended on Saturday that it would remain a “reliable supplier” of the high-tech ores used in lasers, superconductors, computers and other electronics.

Nevertheless, Japan and other countries, including the United States, say they want to diversify their sources of supplies.

Last week, Japan and India decided to seek cooperation in developing, recycling and finding substitutes for rare earths and rare metals.

32 companies charging the Super Grid now

In this article, we cover the major fields of super-grid opportunity and the companies, large and small, playing in them. It’s not an exhaustive list, but rather a guide to the companies we believe are currently best positioned to charge up the super grid.

Power generation

One of the biggest challenges for the super grid is integrating sources of renewable energy like wind and solar power. The current electricity grid is most efficient when the power is being consumed at the same time that it is generated and when supply and demand are steady. With renewables, supply peaks unevenly since energy is not generated at a constant rate or at all times of the day.

Many small local sources of energy like homeowners selling back energy to the grid may also become available. A connected collection of these sources is called a microgrid and can be managed like a virtual power station.

The market for software to integrate renewables and microgrids with existing power generation seems to be at an early stage. Gridpointdelivers a suite of smart grid applications that aggregate and manage distributed sources of load, generation and storage including integration of renewables and electric vehicles. Homer Energy provides modeling software to analyze and optimize power grids that incorporate high penetrations of renewable energy sources. Balance Energy produces microgrid and renewable generation solutions which integrate and aggregate distributed generation and storage resources.

Climate Progress

Republicans Will Likely Preserve The Health Insurance Exchanges, Since It Was Their Idea

October 27, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

On Friday, Joel Ario, the Director of the Office of Insurance Exchanges at HHS reiterated his claim that regulators on the state level are far more open to implementing the exchanges in the Affordable Care Act than the current political rhetoric suggests. Speaking at a panel for the Alliance on Health Reform, Ario said “that there was a lot of interest on the state level in these exchanges and that it was very focused and very specific to the fact that state markets are broken.” “It’s hard to see who’s from a red state or a blue state, you just see people who are working in their marketplaces trying to put things together.” Watch it:

Washington and Lee University law professor Tim Jost, also a member of the panel, reiterated that the idea behind an exchange “comes out of free market advocacy groups and has been endorsed by them in the past. The particular way it is shaped, we’ll see blue states taking one approach and red states taking one approach, maybe,” he stressed, referring to the two existing exchange models in Massachusetts and Utah. Blue states may follow California’s lead and adopt the Massachusetts model, which allows the authority that governs the Exchange to bargain with insurance companies on behalf of consumers and requires issuers to meet certain minimum standards. Red states, conversely, may consider the Utah model where consumers can “compare a wide variety of health plans sold by any insurers that want to participate.”

Ario also added that he first heard of exchanges from a Republican legislator in Oregon, “who had a concept paper from Ed Haislmaie at the Heritage Foundation. I followed the idea for several years there, as it made its way through the Heritage foundation. They took credit for getting Governor Romney to support the idea in Massachusetts and to date, the three states that have exchanges have all been led by Republican governors.” (Click here to read Haislmaie’s article praising the exchanges and the individual mandate.)

Heritage may now be downplaying its support for the concept, but the exchanges are still fairly popular in conservative states. Last month, for instance, 48 states — 21 of which are suing the federal government over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — accepted federal grants “to invest in research and planning to get the Exchanges up and running” by 2014.

Wonk Room

Marco Rubio’s Ad: The Best Political Ad This Season, Maybe Since Reagan

October 26, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

My last post touched on American exceptionalism and Katie Couric not getting it. Marco Rubio’s latest ad captures everything I was trying to say in two minutes:

Patrick Ruffini asks about President in 2016 or 2020. Maybe. We’ll see.

But this advertisement catches, now, what Americans are hungering for and it is NOT some American-hating, self-loathing leftist bilge about how we need to settle for being like the rest of the world.

Watch and tell me that you don’t end up with tears in your eyes.

Liberty Pundits Blog

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