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Feb 05, 15

Jeffrey Ball, a writer on energy and the environment, is scholar-in-residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance.

Advocates revenue neutral carbon tax.

Feb 04, 15

Staples to Buy Office Depot for $6.3 Billion
By David Gelles

Staples has agreed to acquire Office Depot for $6.3 billion in cash and stock, a deal that would unite the two biggest providers of office supplies if approved.

The agreement to combine the two companies comes after months of pressure from Starboard Value, a hedge fund that had threatened to press a management change at Staples if it did not pursue an acquisition of Office Depot.

. . . When Office Depot acquired OfficeMax in 2013, the Federal Trade Commission said the deal was “unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the retail sale of consumable office supplies.”

. . . Ron Sargent, Staples’ chief executive, said that the company expected at least $1 billion of savings through the merger.

Feb 04, 15

Roger Angell, a senior editor and a staff writer, has contributed to The New Yorker since 1944, and became a fiction editor in 1956.


Feb 04, 15

“The implications for trusting our memories, and getting others to trust them, are huge,” Phelps says. “The more we learn about emotional memory, the more we realize that we can never say what someone will or won’t remember given a particular set of circumstances.” The best we can do, she says, is to err on the side of caution: unless we are talking about the most central part of the recollection, assume that our confidence is misplaced. More often than not, it is.

Feb 04, 15

Jill Kelley, who triggered the David Petraeus scandal, was eager to become a diplomatic player and wartime commanders obliged.

Feb 04, 15

Better grid sensors give more local information on cuts - better pinpointing of problems.

Feb 04, 15

10 richest districts - mostly Democratic:

New York 12 Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Democrat
Per capita income: $75,479
California 33 Rep. Henry Waxman, Democrat
Per capita income: $61,273
New York 10 Rep. Jerry Nadler, Democrat
Per capita income: $56,138
California 18 Rep. Anna Eshoo, Democrat
Per capita income: $ 54,182
Connecticut 4 Rep. Jim Himes, Democrat
Per capita income: $50,732
Virginia 8 Rep. Jim Moran, Democrat
Per capita income: $50,210
New Jersey 7 Rep. Leonard Lance, Republican
Per capita income: $48,556
California 12 Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Democrat
Per capita income: $48,523
New York 3 Rep. Steve Israel, Democrat
Per capita income: $47,991
Virginia 10 Rep. Frank Wolf, Republican
Per capita income: $47,281

Feb 04, 15

In highly unusual testimony inside the federal supermax prison, a former operative for Al Qaeda has described prominent members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family as major donors to the terrorist network in the late 1990s and claimed that he discussed a plan to shoot down Air Force One with a Stinger missile with a staff member at the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

Feb 04, 15

The revelations unsettled the anonymous mathematician. “For people who share my motivations,” he says, “the ethics of the NSA's mission matter a great deal.” The news has also roiled the mathematics community and led some to question its long, symbiotic relationship with the spy agency, which nurtures budding mathematicians in school, supports the field with research and training grants, and offers academic mathematicians the chance to take part in the murky world of spy craft. Mathematician David Vogan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who finishes his term as president of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) this week, has urged the society to rethink its long-running, close-knit ties with the agency—though he won little support from other AMS officials.

In a sign of the difficulty of convincing the most talented mathematicians and computer scientists to work for the agency, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers has hit the road himself to make the pitch. “Many of you are potential future employees that I want to compete for,” he told an audience at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, last November. “The biggest challenge for us … is getting people in the door in this environment.

Feb 03, 15

With a fifth of the world’s oil reserves, Saudi Arabia is the leading player in OPEC and has great sway over any move by the cartel to raise prices by cutting production. Its refusal to support such steps despite dizzying price declines has prompted myriad theories about the Saudi royal family’s agenda, and Saudi officials have hinted that the country is happy to let the low prices punish rival producers who use more expensive shale-fracking techniques.

“They have almost total leverage,” said Senator Angus King, an independent of Maine who recently returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia.

“They have more breathing room than these other countries,” he said. “It’s like the difference between someone having a million dollars in the bank and someone who is living paycheck to paycheck.”

Feb 02, 15

Alarmism has encouraged the pursuit of a one-sided climate policy of trying to cut carbon emissions by subsidizing wind farms and solar panels. Yet today, according to the International Energy Agency, only about 0.4% of global energy consumption comes from solar photovoltaics and windmills. And even with exceptionally optimistic assumptions about future deployment of wind and solar, the IEA expects that these energy forms will provide a minuscule 2.2% of the world's energy by 2040.

In other words, for at least the next two decades, solar and wind energy are simply expensive, feel-good measures that will have an imperceptible climate impact. Instead, we should focus on investing in research and development of green energy, including new battery technology to better store and discharge solar and wind energy and lower its costs. We also need to invest in and promote growth in the world's poorest nations, which suffer the most from natural disasters.

Climate-change doomsayers notwithstanding, we urgently need balance if we are to make sensible choices and pick the right climate policy that can help humanity slow, and inevitably adapt to, climate change.

Mr. Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, is the author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" (Cambridge Press, 2001) and "Cool It" (Knopf, 2007).

Feb 01, 15

Tech leaders say Madison shouldn't be Silicon Valley, but it can grow

Video with key leaders saying their piece (4 minutes)

Feb 01, 15

As we prepare for elections next month, amid severe security concerns, this remains an essential and poignant need: a government that will create the environment for steady and stable electricity, and the simple luxury of a monthly bill.

Feb 01, 15

President Barack Obama's fiscal 2016 budget would impose a one-time 14 percent tax on some $2 trillion (1.3 trillion pounds) of untaxed foreign earnings accumulated by U.S. companies abroad and use that to fund infrastructure projects, a White House official said.

-- and would tax foreign earnings as accrued, whether repatriated or not.

Feb 01, 15

By David Roberts on 26 Jan 2015

Pretty much everyone who acknowledges the problem of climate change is hungry for good news about it, which makes sense, as most of the news is overwhelming and awful. There is high demand for optimism — I hear it every time someone asks me to write or speak on climate — so inevitably there is supply.

But . . Tthe economic models from which IPCC and others draw these numbers are just this side of wild guesses, based on assumptions about economic growth, resource prices, and technological development decades in the future.

. . . we need to think about feasibility. And we need metrics through which to assess it. That brings me to a paper I’ve been meaning to get to for a while: “A critical review of global decarbonization scenarios: what do they tell us about feasibility?” (It came to me via Jesse Jenkins, who used to work at the Breakthrough Institute and now is out at MIT getting into all sorts of interesting stuff, including being a co-author on this paper.)

It’s a great project: The researchers pulled together 11 studies on global decarbonization, all of which describe scenarios for “50 to 90 percent reductions in global CO2 emissions by mid-century.” . . . . Using those 11 studies as their dataset, they look at a couple of key metrics that get at feasibility: At what rate does energy intensity (the energy used to produce a unit of GDP) decline in the scenarios? And at what rate are various technologies deployed? “This kind of benchmarking can (and should) both guide the scenario building community in constructing and testing actionable decarbonization strategies,” they write, “and help policy makers interpret the results of such studies.”

. . . . . if we want a 100 percent renewables world, with no coal, gas, or nuclear, we’ll need to build more power generation capacity, faster, than at any time in history. . . . . . . most decarbonization scenarios are thought experiments, not practical roadmaps. But when they are reported to the public, that distinction is often lost.

More to the point, we are past the time when thought experiments are enough. We need to start thinking in practical terms about how to get the technologies we need ready — as the authors say, “deep energy system decarbonization is likely to require an ambitious, focused agenda of rapid innovation and improvement in every critical technology area, even those commercially available today, as well as substantial ‘demand pull’ efforts and policies to ensure early demonstration, industry maturation, scale-up, and ‘learning by doing.'” . . . . social and political barriers are likely to be more difficult to overcome than technology or modeling challenges.. . . possible is a long way from practical or likely, and farther yet from “cheap” or “easy.” Let’s not fool ourselves about the huge task ahead.

Feb 01, 15

While evidence for asteroids at the other mass-extinction boundaries was hard to come by, researchers did find a coincidence in time with continent-flooding cascades of lava on a scale unimaginable today.

How these lava flows, known as large igneous provinces, rendered their destruction is an active area of study, but some clear signatures appear at many of the episodes, including huge injections of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, intense global warming and ocean acidification as carbon dioxide was absorbed by the seas.

In Siberia, one such volcanic province spewed so much carbon into the air that parts of the ocean reached — as one paleontologist put it — the temperature of “hot soup.” Seas became more acidic, as they are becoming today, and calcifying animals like corals died en masse, along with 96 percent of ocean life during the End-Permian extinction.

We now know, through the dating of the Palisades across from New York City, that 50 million years later, virtually the same thing happened at the end of the Triassic, when lava gushed from the seams of the supercontinent Pangaea as it tore apart.

That brings us, 135 million years later, to the most recent of the Big Five: the extinction of the nonbird dinosaurs

=== Argues that superasteroid and Deccan Traps vulanism may have correllated.

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