September 27th, 2010
September 27th, 2010
September 26th, 2010
The Democrats, in an uncharacteristically thoughtful mood, took care of their final arrangements for the upcoming elections very recently. The Democratic Memorial Service will be held on Tuesday November the 2nd, 2010 by the American people for those of you who might like to attend. A massive turnout is expected to be followed by, what will most likely be, one of the largest and most joyful Wakes in US history.
So what did they do, you might inquire? Nothing is the simplest and most direct answer. Had the Democrats chosen to clear their baffles and simply continue the current tax code "as is," this memorial would have been somewhat premature. However, as is typical, the Democratic Leadership could not hold their now unruly ranks together long enough to arrive at a tax code version that would have been satisfactory.
The Leaders in both the House and the Senate stated on Thursday that there was simply no consensus among Democrats in either House to support a continuing the effort towards resolution. Another looming fact being that the upcoming election atmosphere, once again, much like a funeral to many Democrats, has subdued what would previously be described as a robust legislative acumen among the Democrats. The other problem, rather ironically, is simply that members of both Houses have decided to adjourn this legislative session earlier than at any other time in recent American history.
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September 26th, 2010
TEHRAN, Iran — A complex computer worm capable of seizing control of industrial plants has affected the personal computers of staff working at Iran's first nuclear power station weeks before the facility is to go online, the official news agency reported Sunday.
The project manager at the Bushehr nuclear plant, Mahmoud Jafari, said a team is trying to remove the malware from several affected computers, though it "has not caused any damage to major systems of the plant," the IRNA news agency reported.
It was the first sign that the malicious computer code, dubbed Stuxnet, which has spread to many industries in Iran, has also affected equipment linked to the country's nuclear program, which is at the core of the dispute between Tehran and Western powers like the United States.
Experts in Germany discovered the worm in July, and it has since shown up in a number of attacks — primarily in Iran, Indonesia, India and the U.S.
The malware is capable of taking over systems that control the inner workings of industrial plants.
In a sign of the high-level concern in Iran, experts from the country's nuclear agency met last week to discuss ways of fighting the worm.
The infection of several computers belonging to workers at Bushehr will not affect plans to bring the plant online in October, Jafari was quoted as saying.
The Russian-built plant will be internationally supervised, but world powers are concerned that Iran wants to use other aspects of its civil nuclear power program as a cover for making weapons. Of highest concern to world powers is Iran's main uranium enrichment facility in the city of Natanz.
Iran, which denies having any nuclear weapons ambitions, says it only wants to enrich uranium to the lower levels needed for producing fuel for power plants. At higher levels of processing, the material can also be used in nuclear warheads.
The destructive Stuxnet worm has surprised experts because it is the first one specifically created to take over industrial control systems, rather than just steal or manipulate data.
The United States is also tracking the worm, and the Department of Homeland Security is building specialized teams that can respond quickly to cyber emergencies at industrial facilities across the country.
On Saturday, Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported that the malware had spread throughout Iran, but did not name specific sites affected.
September 26th, 2010
By Alan Caruba
In mid-September, Cathy Zoi, an Assistant Secretary of Energy, said that the U.S. Department of Energy has a “mandate” to issue regulations about what household appliances should be available to Americans in the future.
A CNSnews story reported that while speaking at the inaugural meeting of the recently reestablished Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Ms. Zoi “pointed to four tactics the Obama administration intended to use to advance the ‘deployment of clean energy.’ The first three were government subsidies, special tax incentives, and low-interest government-backed loans for green energy projects.”
The likelihood that any of these “green energy” projects will yield any electrical power comparable to a single coal-fired or nuclear plant is negligible. Two recent huge wastes of taxpayer money involve a $57 million program that includes $11 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—the failed “stimulus” plan—to support clean energy technology commercialization projects for 33 small businesses across the country.
Among the projects is “harvesting/dewatering technology for algal biofuels”, money devoted to algae as a source of power. Other projects include organic light-emitting diodes, and advanced materials and bio-fueled oxide fuel cells. Meanwhile, the moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico restricts the provision of an energy source on which the nation is dependent.
In September the DOE also awarded $37 million for “marine and hydrokinetic energy technology development.” The object of this is to “accelerate the technologies and commercial readiness of technologies “to generate renewable electricity from the nation’s oceans and free-flowing rivers and streams.” Meanwhile the nation already generates six percent of its electricity from hydroelectric systems among which the Hoover Dam is one of the best known.
The Department of Energy was created in the wake of the oil crisis of the 1970s and was signed into existence by President Jimmy Carter on August 4, 1977. Its responsibilities were the nation’s nuclear weapons program, a nuclear reactor for the U.S. Navy, energy conservation, energy-related research, radioactive waste disposal, and domestic energy production.
It currently employs 16,000 federal workers and, in 2009, had an annual budget of $24.1 billion. President Obama appointed Dr. Steven Chu as its Secretary. Dr. Chu is perhaps best known for recommending that global warming can be avoided by painting the roofs and highways white in order to reflect back the sun’s radiation. Will someone please get a net and throw it over Dr. Chu?
One might think that the DOE would have taken an active role in the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but that responsibility was handed over to the U.S. Coast Guard while the Department of the Interior was a key player as well.
Meanwhile, over at the DOE, Ms. Zoi was gloating that the fourth tactic “which the Secretary and I love is where we have a mandate. Where we can actually just issue regulations and do market transformation.”
Where is it written in the U.S. Constitution that the government should play an active role in “market transformation”? The DOE intends to “set efficiency standards for energy-consuming products.”
These will include commercial clothes washers, small electric motors, water heaters, direct heating equipment and pool heaters, among the countless products consumers use on a daily basis.
Instead of encouraging the building of more coal-fired, natural gas, and nuclear plants to generate the electricity a population in excess of 300 million use daily, the DOE wants to get between consumers and manufacturers to “mandate” how much electricity products can use!
“We’re going to make people save money for themselves,” said Ms. Zoi.
I have a great idea how to save billions. Shut down the Department of Energy.
Alan Caruba Most recent columns