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Bombardier Awarded Contract for 50 V300ZEFIRO Very High Speed Trains in Italy
With firm orders for 210 trains the ZEFIRO family has become one of the most successful platforms in the global high speed rail market
Bombardier Transportation announced today it has signed a contract with Trenitalia (Italian Railways) for the delivery of 50 very high speed trainsets V300ZEFIRO, a model of theBOMBARDIER ZEFIRO high speed trains family. The V300ZEFIRO (known as ETR 1000 in Italy) is developed in partnership with AnsaldoBreda, a subsidiary of the Finmeccanica group of Italy. The total contract is valued at 1.54 billion euro ($2.10 billion US). Bombardier's share of the contract is valued at 652 million euro ($889 million US).
The V300ZEFIRO has a capacity for 600 passengers and is capable of commercial speeds of up to 360 km/h. Its unusually high acceleration enables the train to ensure excellent travel times even in winding routes. It is fully inter-operable and will provide cross-border service, taking Trenitalia's passengers to other European countries without the need for changing trains.
André Navarri, President and COO, Bombardier Transportation, commented on Bombardier's successes in the global high speed rail market. He said, "We are very proud to have received the confidence of Trenitalia. It is another demonstration of our leadership in the development of new generation very high speed trains, a flagship segment of the railway industry market.. Today, Bombardier holds top level presence in this exciting market segment and we are committed to continue to support customers around the globe offering our ZEFIRO technology."
With the award announced today, Bombardier has won contracts for the delivery of a total of 210 trains of the ZEFIRO family. The first order for this platform came from China in October 2007, with a contract to supply ZEFIRO 250 km/h trains. Since then, Bombardier was awarded contracts to deliver 80 units of the ZEFIRO 380 model and additional 80 ZEFIRO 250 km/h trains, all ordered by the Ministry of Railways in China (MOR). The first-generation ZEFIRO 250 is already operating in China.
Stephane Rambaud Measson, President, Passengers Division, Bombardier Transportation commented: "Our success in this market segment demonstrates that customers have welcomed the innovation we have brought into making the ZEFIRO high speed family about more than just speed." He added, "The ZEFIRO is a game changer in this industry as in addition to high speed it also offers cost-efficiency, coupled with high capacity capabilities, pleasing aesthetics, reliability, safety, durability and environmentally friendly transportation solutions."
Under the technical leadership of Bombardier, the production, testing and commissioning of the V300ZEFIRO for Italy will take place in Italy at AnsaldoBreda sites and the Bombardier site in Vado Ligure. Other Bombardier sites will also participate in the development of the new train, such as the Bombardier high speed trains engineering hub site located in Hennigsdorf, Germany.
Roberto Tazzioli, Chief Country Representative, Bombardier Transportation, Italy, further illustrated Bombardier's commitment to the market in Italy. He said, "We are delighted to receive this contract as it represents a further endorsement of our position in the Italian market, across a range of speed and vehicle sectors, strengthened by our partnership approach. We intend to demonstrate continued excellence in terms of productivity and build on our partnerships in the Italian market."
Bombardier Transportation in Italy
Bombardier Transportation is one of the most important manufacturers of rolling stock in Italy and is involved in some of the country's most important rail projects: Trenitalia's various types of electric locomotives - including the E464 which is the largest single line in the Trenitalia fleet (628 vehicles). In addition, Bombardier delivered the high-speed train ETR500 (as a member of the Trevi consortium), the Rome-Fiumicino airport people-mover, the tram vehicles in Milan and Palermo, the propulsion systems of the new Rome metro vehicles and the traffic management system installed in various sections of the Italian rail network (SCMT).
The group employs some 700 people in Italy. 500 people are located in Vado Ligure, the plant set up in 1905 where close to 2,000 locomotives have been manufactured to date. 200 people work at its engineering centre in Rome, dedicated to the development of rail control solutions, signalling equipment and rail traffic management systems.
About Bombardier Transportation
Bombardier Transportation, a global leader in rail technology, offers the broadest portfolio in the rail industry and delivers innovative products and services that set new standards in sustainable mobility. BOMBARDIER ECO4 technologies – built on the four cornerstones of energy, efficiency, economy and ecology – conserve energy, protect the environment and help to improve total train performance. Bombardier Transportation is headquartered in Berlin, Germany and has a presence in over 60 countries. It has an installed base of over 100,000 vehicles worldwide.
A world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2010, were $19.4 billion US, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at www.bombardier.com
Photo: V300ZEFIRO very high speed train
BOMBARDIER, ZEFIRO and ECO4 are trademarks of Bombardier Inc. or its subsidiaries.
For information North America: +1 450 441 3007 USA: Maryanne Roberts
Russian Expatriates Win Nobel 2010 Physics Prize
Scientists' discovery could revolutionize electronics, other industries
By Thomas H. Maugh II
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — Two Russian expatriates working in Britain have been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery of Graphene, a two-dimensional layer of carbon molecules whose unexpected properties promise to revolutionize the electronics industry, the production of lightweight materials and a host of other applications.
At a time when multi billion-dollar particle accelerators and orbiting telescopes are often deemed necessary for major breakthroughs in physics, Andre Geim, 51, and Konstantin Novoselov, 36, both of the University of Manchester, laid the foundation for their discovery with an ordinary piece of Scotch tape. The pair, who will share the $1.5-million award, used the tape to peel successive layers of carbon from a small chunk of graphite similar to that found in a pencil,
eventually obtaining a layer a single atom thick that they dubbed Graphene. That's when the real work began, Geim said at a news conference organized by the Nobel committee.
Researchers had thought such two-dimensional materials would be very un stable, but Graphene con founded their expectations. It is 100 times stronger than steel and conducts heat and electricity better than cop per. Unlike pencil lead, Graphene is transparent, and it stretches up to 20 percent when stressed.
"For the past five or six years, we have been intensively studying the proper ties of these materials, try ing to figure out what they can be useful for," Geim said. "I would compare this situation with the one 100 years ago when people dis covered polymers. It took some time before polymers went into use in plastics and became so important in our lives."
But it may not take nearly as long with Graphene, said H. Frederick Dylla, executive director of the American Institute of Physics. "Within a year or so of Andre Geim's and Konstantin Novoselov's first work with Graphene, it became the subject of dozens of sessions at large scientific meetings. Many scientists, seeing a rich research opportunity, stopped what they were doing and turned to Graphene."
Among potential applications cited by the Swedish Nobel committee are replacing carbon fibers in compos ite materials to produce even lighter aircraft and satellites and replacing silicon in tran-sistors to produce faster and more efficient electronic devices.
The material could be embedded in conventional plastics to enable them to conduct electricity, and be cause it is transparent, it could be used to produce touch screens for computers and telephones. Konstantin Novoselov shares the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics with Andre Geim, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences says. Both Russian expatriates are associated with Britain's University of Manchester.
- QUOTATION OF THE DAY -
"The Constitution is the rock upon which our nation rests. We must follow it not only when it is convenient,
but when fear and danger beckon in a different direction.
To do less would diminish us and undermine the foundation upon which we stand."
- JUDGE LEWIS A. KAPLAN OF UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT IN MANHATTAN, who barred testimony from a crucial witness in the first
trial of a former Guantánamo detainee.
|Fiscal Woes Deepening for Cities
Published: October 6, 2010
The nation's cities are in their worst fiscal shape in at least a quarter of a century and have probably not yet hit the bottom of their slide, according to a report released on Wednesday.
The report, by the National League of Cities, found that many cities, which are in their fourth straight year of declining revenues, are only now beginning to see lower property values translate into lower property tax collections, which are the backbone of many city budgets.
It can take several years for city assessors to catch up to real estate market conditions, and this year, for the first time since the housing bubble burst, cities are projecting a 1.8 percent decrease in property tax collections.
With sales tax collections still down, and unemployment and stagnant salaries taking a toll on cities that rely on income-tax revenues, cities are seeing their revenues drop even faster than many of them have been able to cut spending.
They also face the additional burden of paying rising health care and pension costs for their employees. "The effects of a depressed real estate market, low levels of consumer confidence, and high levels of unemployment will likely play out in cities through 2010, 2011 and beyond," the report said.
Cities around the country have made steep cuts to stay afloat, from layoffs of firefighters and police officers to turning off street lights. The report, which surveyed finance officers in 338 cities, found that two-thirds of them were canceling or delaying construction and maintenance projects, a third were laying off workers and a quarter were cutting public safety.
Christopher W. Hoene, one of the authors of the report, said in an interview that the length of the downturn had dealt cities an unusual blow: in most recessions, he said, sales tax collections start to improve by the time property tax collections drop to reflect lower home values. "This time around, the recession has been deep enough that we have the two major sources of revenue down at the same time," Mr. Hoene said. And cities have few places to turn for help, leaving tax increases and service cuts as their main options.
"Right now there isn't really anywhere to turn," Mr. Hoene said, noting that many states are now cutting aid to cities, not increasing it. "The state budgets are in a position where they are more likely to hurt than to help."
The above plot provides an indication of how unlikely it is the Recession will end soon.
The San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank issued a warning that "It could also relaunch its bond-buying program if it felt the Recovery was about to stall. This policy would not come without risks, however. It could expose the central bank to accusations it is printing money to help fund the large US government budget deficits, something Fed officials have said they would never do.
The idea behind further assets purchases would be to prevent a deflationary cycle of falling prices and depressed consumption from taking hold -they may be concerned. Consumer prices, outside food and energy rose just 0.9 percent in the 12 months through June, holding for a third straight month at the lowest level since January 1966. Hourly compensation for US workers fell at an annual rate of 0.7 % in the 2nd Quarter, the Feds said Tuesday in report that underscored lack of an inflationary threat.
A San Francisco Fed study released a month ago, found a significant chance the economy would slip back into Recession in the next two years, while a monthly survey of economists found that 55 % believe the Fed will take more steps to support growth in the next 12 months."
This plan will deal with job-creation in two ways to bring new businesses.
For the last 9 Quarters, every Quarter, compared to the one a year earlier, showed a loss of jobs. For as long as no significant changes are made on the relation between salaries, taxes and prices, there is no reason to expect different results in the national economy and currently we buy more from foreign countries than we sell to them by about $2 Billion per day, which cuts production jobs. 10 Aug, 2010, MSNBC, NY Times.
To Promote Jobs in USA Limiting Parameters:
a) Not designed for any specific city in USA.
b) New Work Areas Considered:
1. High School Education and Vocational Training and
2. Health and Emergency Care.
The cities are expected to have these common factors:
A. Ample supply of trainable workers living in places with transportation to the job sites.
B. Adequate transportation with access to the railways and major highways.
Many cities seem driven by developers with funds to build houses. This has not worked well, and in some cases the builder and owner lost most of their investment. I was a "Relief Driver" a newspaper and, on a Sunday, I found myself lost at midnight, in housing site under construction with many workers fluent in Spanish, most probably native Spanish-speaking, with accents familiar to me while growing in another country. Estimates of illegal workers grew from 5 million in 1996 to 11 million in 2005.
A key part of the proposed approach to select the optimum site for specific industries that may lead to the most effective use of industrial sites, and provide housing and transportation to the new Low Income Workers to process the cargo and assemble products like electric trucks, instal air conditioners, furniture, solar panels, etc.
Common factors expected in a new industrial site:
1. Good rail and truck transportation to key cities and states and an airport with the ability to handle Boeing 747-8 cargo flights which will be the standard in the future.
2. Local industrial sites with roads, electricity and water with bus lines routes modified to reach a site, near work shift change.
3. Ample supply of low price homes, and
4. Ample supply of trainable Low Income Workers. These workers have the key role to rescue our national economy.
Clean industry may be located near dense housing and busses will reduce the need of cars and new roads. But we cannot compete unless we lower labor costs, increase productivity or produce leading high-tech products.
Recent bridges and electronic devices in California were build elsewhere and brought by ship to California.
The scandal that followed when it became known that a state-funded bridge would provide no jobs in the state, led to an addition task that required unloading segments nearby and adding the pavement before it was returned to the bridge site. This led to some jobs for a couple of months and an increase in cost to the state.
The value of Low Income Workers, is evident in our growing Trade Deficit, which will not improve for as long as we build products too costly for us to buy. Evident in "big box" stores with few "Made in USA" labels, our Foreign Trade Deficit is about two (2) Billion a day, with proportional and predictable production and job reductions -every day.
A factor recognized elsewhere is that, like the "wise old manual tool worker" that no longer exists, next in line to extinction is the "highly skilled, high-price assembly line worker", other nations put assembly skills in relatively cheap computers with computer programs that can be easily upgraded and reduce the costly skill level of Assembly work.
For over ten years Japan operated a factory without workers or lights, unless tourists visit; it builds Universal Assembly Line Robots for other factories -worldwide. The world has them except, until recently, Detroit.
Our industry is adopting "smart" assembly lines, previously, companies could not fire those replaced by robots, therefore they had no incentive to use or develop that technology and now we see, like the Luddites of Britain in 1850s that a delay in progress only transfer the jobs elsewhere.
We have ample numbers of Low Income Workers that could be properly trained on whatever is required, including how to operate assembly-line, computer-controlled, robots. The periodic upgrades are no harder to implement than the updates for your Internet provider.
Summary of Requirements
I: Vocational training in High Schools and, after 5 pm, for anyone that seeks to upgrade job skills, like others do for office work but, in the service and construction areas. In many cases, the teacher could be an experienced day-time worker on the same field or, even, in the company that seeks well trained workers. Some formerly highly paid workers will have to be retrained for future work too after they are replaced by a computer program. The Mayo Clinic ran a test between computers and live doctors and the computers were always error free and much faster, live doctors took much longer, were often wrong and always far more expensive.
II. No high school student should be allowed to graduate without proof of skill for local work or meeting requirements for acceptance to a college or a university. Night courses should be available to the Unemployed and Low Income Worker, for free.
III. Provide Work Sites with good transportation services. Some investment and Zone Use Code changes will be necessary to replace existing housing with job intensive work sites in industry, finances or health care. In some cases, legal procedures will be necessary for the "common good" of providing means of support for local residents.
We can do it now, or do it later, after the competition is stronger and their reputation is established. Our choice!
See video here:
MOJAVE, Calif. -- Virgin Galactic's space tourism rocket SpaceShipTwo achieved its first solo glide flight Sunday, marking another step in the company's eventual plans to fly paying passengers.
SpaceShipTwo was carried aloft by its mothership to an altitude of 45,000 feet and released over the Mojave Desert. After the separation, SpaceShipTwo, manned by two pilots, flew freely for 11 minutes before landing at an airport runway followed by the mothership. The entire test flight lasted about 25 minutes.
"It flew beautifully," said Virgin Galactic chief executive George Whitesides. The six-passenger SpaceShipTwo is undergoing rigorous testing before it can carry tourists to space. In the latest test, SpaceShipTwo did not fire its rocket engine to climb to space.
Until now, SpaceShipTwo has flown attached to the wing of its special jet-powered mothership dubbed WhiteKnightTwo. Sunday was the first time the spaceship flew on its own. The news was hailed by space tourism advocates. The "flight marks another key milestone towards opening the space frontier for private individuals, researchers, and explorers," John Gedmark, executive director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said in a statement.
Whitesides said SpaceShipTwo will make a series of additional glide flights before rocketing to space. SpaceShipTwo, built by famed aircraft designer Burt Rutan, is based on a prototype that won a $10 million prize in 2004 for being the first manned private rocket to reach space.
Tickets to ride aboard SpaceShipTwo cost $200,000. Some 370 customers have plunked down deposits totaling $50 million, according to Virgin Galactic.
Commercial flights will fly out of New Mexico where a spaceport is under construction. Officials from Virgin Galactic and other dignitaries will gather at the spaceport Oct. 22 for an event commemorating the finished runway. The event will also feature a flyover by SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo.
Read more: http://www.sacbee.com/2010/10/10/3094005/private-spaceship-makes-1st-solo.html?mi_pluck_action=comment_submitted&qwxq=6952557#Comments_Container#ixzz120LszM77
Psychology and the Abolition of Meaning -Jeffrey Burke Satinover
First Things February 1994
It is of course a commonplace nowadays to observe that we are living in the era of "psychological man." By this we mean that psychology in one of its various incarnations-psychoanalysis and psychiatry included-has become the primary means whereby we try to understand the meaning and purpose of our existence.
Psychological understandings of the ultimates in human nature are characterized by the fact that rather than making appeal to traditional theological understandings, the psychoanalytic, psychological, and psychiatric endeavors fit themselves as best they can within the scientific framework that has slowly emerged in the West over the six or seven centuries since the beginning of the Renaissance. The term "Renaissance" means, of course, rebirth. It is so called because the era was characterized by a rebirth of classicism (which means paganism).
But the Renaissance could just as easily, from an opposite perspective, have been called, for example, "The Great Death," since it marked the beginning of a great dying off of a particular cultural synthesis-and a particular understanding of man's ultimate nature. This cultural synthesis was based on Judaism and Christianity, and in the previous two-and-one-half millennia it had largely conquered paganism and thus come to dominate much of the civilized world.
Among the set of human accomplishments that emerged from the Renaissance transformation of human thought, science-and the technology that derives from it-is certainly one of the most powerful to which we are heir. In keeping with the Renaissance spirit, and with the apotheosis of that spirit in the Enlightenment, a primary goal of any modern, scientific psychology has been to understand human subjectivity and behavior- including those areas that touch on morals, meaning, purpose, and value, and therefore on human motivation and choice -not in terms of ultimate purpose but in terms of prior causes.
In the domain of psychology or psychoanalysis proper, this search for causes inevitably means the reduction of what appears to be a freely acting or choosing agent -man- to prior, more elementary influences: complexes, structures of the psyche, family influences, earlier experiences, archetypes. In the complementary domain of biological psychiatry, this same reduction is to the organic substrates of these functional subsystems at ever finer levels of detail.
From within this truly analytic framework-analysis consisting of the lysis or breaking down of a whole into constituent parts -all areas of seeming autonomy within human experience are illusory, the residue, as it were, of our ignorance of the true causes that lie "beneath" our experience and cause it, and which only for the time being remain obscured.
Unwittingly, and unacknowledged, the scientific study of man thus aims ultimately at his abolition as man-as free agent-and his reconstruction as mechanism.
"No, that's not entirely true," the analytically informed and guided psychotherapist is apt to object. "Yes, we try to explain our patients' behavior in terms of the conflict among various forces: the instincts in conflict with material and social exigency, for example. But each individual arrives at his own unique solution to these conflicts. And, indeed, when he becomes aware of the conflicting forces that influence him, he is better able to make an informed and creative decision."
But upon closer examination, this notion of free-indeed creatively free-choice remaining somewhere outside the scope of analytic reduction is just a comforting illusion. All that has occurred is that the process of analyzing motives at some point stops, and what remains we decide not to examine further.
From a therapeutic perspective this makes sense: the surgeon cuts away the diseased tissue and allows the healthy tissue to remain, better functioning after the operation than before. But the analogy quickly breaks down: the "surgery" of psychotherapy does not consist in the physical elimination of a section of the psyche, it consists of "seeing through" psychic structures, the dissolving of them into their constituent parts, in which state they no longer need be taken seriously.
And of course once we believe we've seen through the parts of our selves we don't care for, it's hard not to start seeing through the ones we do care for. Even though at a certain point, pragmatically determined, most of us stop the analytic process, at some level we and our patients know, or at least sense, that our understanding of selfhood, its very integrity, has been unalterably changed and even damaged.
The method itself "sets the ball rolling," as it were, in one inevitable direction: if our choices prior to analysis were only thought to be free, and were, in fact, the result of unconscious conflict (or biochemistry), then why should I believe that my current, post-analytic choices are anything more than the result of other as-yet-unanalyzed influences? And indeed, the study, for example, of ego psychology (which came later in psychoanalytic history), of pre-oedipal influences, of individual differences, of family patterning, of intrauterine milieu, of the genetics of mental disorders (and of character itself) all whittle away at whatever remaining area of true choice there might seem to be. In its very essence the analytic, scientific method is reductive without limit. Applied to man, it is the universal solvent.
The alchemists, who first conceived such a thing, of course, never found the universal solvent, and were fortunate not to. For they never considered what would happen if ever they laid hands on it: nothing could contain it; it would eat its way through everything, devouring even its creators. Freud, whatever his flaws, had the courage of his convictions, and so followed the implications of his vision through to their ultimate end. What he found was a universe devoid of meaning; to explain his own mental state he was driven near the end to postulate a "death instinct," a concept no more scientific or measurable than "God" or "purpose" or "meaning," but considerably more grim, and in the end he chose to die by his own hand.
Consider the current debate over homosexuality once (in the pre- psychoanalytic era), homosexual behavior was considered purely a matter of choice. Then, during the psychoanalytic era, it began to be seen as a rough composite of choice and family influences. Now, at least among mental health professionals, a vaguely emerging consensus points toward a complex mixture of genetic and environmental influences with choice being squeezed out altogether. To translate into statistical language: as the number of studies increase, and correlation is found with an increasing number of factors extrinsic to "free will," the amount of variance in human sexual behavior that remains unaccounted for by known factors will continue to shrink, and so the amount left over to attribute to choice will by default likewise shrink. But more importantly, the experience of a line of progress consisting of an ever-smaller proportion of variance left unaccounted for will inevitably suggest-quite plausibly-that with sufficient effort and advances in technique all the remaining variance could be accounted for and nothing of it left to choice. And even if this theoretical end point is never quite achieved, the remaining proportion left unexplained is apt to be so small that we shall dismiss it anyway.
The example of homosexuality is particularly useful in the context of this discussion because the social and political forces arrayed around the question just happen, at this moment, to be constellated in such a way as to make many people want to find little or no choice involved in it. The homosexuality debate is thus configuring itself in precisely the reverse way of most debates about the medical bases of human behavior: people usually resist the idea that their behavior is driven by unchangeable, biological factors (consider the feminist arguments). But in the case of homosexuality, many people are today quite open to the idea of a line of research progress that will reduce this particular behavior mostly to prior causes, and even to the end point this line marches toward, that of no choice involved in homosexuality at all.
But, if we think about it carefully, all aspects of human behavior are at least in principle subject to a similar analysis. That is, after all, the end point of all scientific research. From a scientific perspective there is never any room whatever for freely acting agents. At best, a given analysis only leaves us with remaining areas for which we have not (yet) discovered, or are (as yet) incapable of discovering, the true, prior causes.
It is in the very nature of science and the scientific method that it cannot at all address or understand free agency. If there is such a thing, it lies entirely outside the domain of scientific analysis, for to the extent that an analysis of the behavior of any agent is successful, to that extent the agent's behavior has been demonstrated no longer to be free, but predetermined.
Freud observed that psychoanalysis was resisted by so many people- including many of his erstwhile followers-because of the wound it inflicts on their self-regard. But we can go even further with this keen, if somewhat infuriating, insight (infuriating because, on an ad hominem basis, it implies that the mere fact of an objection to psychoanalysis a priori supports it). All scientific method applied to human behavior gives rise not just to resistance, but to dread and even revulsion, because its end point-even if only sensed inchoately and not faced fully-is appalling: the elimination of the possibility of choice, meaning, and purpose in human existence.
For from the scientific perspective, "meaning" and "purpose," like "free will," are but illusions of human subjectivity, ultimately reducible to other, prior causes. While this certainly wounds man's pride, it does more than that: it demonstrates that the object of his deepest longings is utterly illusory, and hence his longings are utterly unfulfillable.
Here we have introduced a new observation, namely, that there is such a thing as a profound common human longing for meaning and purpose. If it is true that, unlike our longings for food, water, nurturance, accomplishment, and romance (to name a few), our longing for meaning and purpose has no attainable object, then it makes perfect sense to label such a longing as neurotic. The repetitive, compulsive pursuit of illusory and therefore unattainable goals is, after all, almost a definition of the term.
The tacit goal, then, of a rigorous psychoanalytic, and hence reductionist, worldview is a unique kind of renunciation. One is, on the one hand, meant to attain a stoic abstemiousness [adjective, not self-indulgent, especially as regards eating or drinking] with respect to spirit, while embracing, with all due practicality, the world of matter (practically speaking, the instincts). Anatomy, gross and fine, especially that of the nervous system, indeed becomes destiny.
*Along with the majority of his fellow psychoanalytic adventurers, Freud seems to have assumed that to understand the sources of our neurotic longing for meaning would somehow relieve us of it, in the same way that understanding may relieve us of other, more mundane, neuroses; or that a more creative solution to the problems caused by instinctive conflict would ipso facto translate into a subjective and satisfying, even if ultimately meaningless, feeling of meaningfulness.
This has not proven true. Either psychoanalytic theories about the source of religious longings are false, or if they are not, then mere knowledge of how these longings come about no more satisfies them than would a lengthy discourse on gastronomy serve as food to a starving man. Granted, there are some individuals who seem to us at first blush to be exemplars of this new kind of maturity of character. They appear entirely abstemious with respect to spirit, and are quick to let us know it. But a careful examination of this particular post-Enlightenment vanity allows us on closer look to acknowledge that all of us -psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoanalysts of whatever stripe, or simply laymen who have inhaled the reductionist worldview with the spirits of the air-merely recreate within our supposedly secular domains all the same structures of dogma, devotion, and worship (of our fellow creatures) that we criticize as neurotic among the religious. The mature psychoanalyst works through his projections onto his family and friends, and his transference of all this onto his analyst, only to re-project it all over again onto his Institute, or onto Freud or Jung or -mirabile dictu- John Bradshaw [top of the class fellow university student -mfs].
Nor do we count it as an advance should he find some way to mutilate his soul and so never again fall in love. No, it is clear that the thirst for ultimate meaning and purpose is not at all slaked by simply describing, classifying, and analyzing it.
No more so than is deconstructing a poem (or doing a word count on it) the same as loving it. When we have no higher object of our devotion, we make gods of the lower objects at hand. When we do not, or feel we cannot, worship God, we worship our own instinctive cravings instead, mostly not knowing what we are doing, and certainly not admitting it. But willy-nilly, one way or the other, worship we will.
Picture the field of individual human action-more precisely, of the motivation to action-as a triangle resting on its base. At a certain stage of our understanding, this triangle is empty, signifying our working assumption that all human action is determined by choice and free will. Again, in statistical language, we know of no factors whatever that account for the variability of action from one person, or group of people, to another. You will also note in this the subtle corollary that, with respect to cause, an utterly (100 percent) unpredictable event is indistinguishable from one that is freely willed, for were it not free, the action would in some measure be predicted by correlation to some other factor. ("Whose will?" in this case is, of course, another question we might ask.)
Now draw a line across the triangle about one-quarter of the way up from the base and fill it in. The area below this line represents, say, genetic influences, the biological differences among individuals that account for a significant proportion of the variability in action. The remaining area, still blank, represents what is left to us to attribute, if we wish, to choice and free will. Next, draw a second line, perhaps another quarter of the way up, and fill in that space with a different color. This second area represents, say, nongenetic biological factors: intrauterine influences, diet, the effect of pollutants, viruses, and bacteria, etc.
Again, the remaining even smaller area left blank above the line constitutes, presumably, what remains of free will and choice. Now draw a third line yet further up and fill in this space with a third color representing family influences, and then a fourth line to demarcate the area of social influences, and so on.
Each successive space we so delineate accounts for less and less of the remaining variability because the analyses grow increasingly complex and costly to perform and contribute less and less to our explanatory model. But slowly, relentlessly, the area remaining to "free will and choice" grows progressively smaller. Will it perhaps disappear altogether?
Well it may, and it will certainly grow ever smaller, perhaps asymptotically, as our scientific analysis grows ever more precise. But here is an astonishing thing: when it comes to almost every action that matters to us, no matter how small this space becomes, even if it shrinks to a mere point, we all-the most rigorous, rational, insistent scientist, even the Bertrand Russells among us-will live our lives just as though that tiny point were as dense as a neutron star, weightier by magnitudes than the weight of all the rest of the triangle, no matter how densely and fully filled in. And when that tiny point at the very peak of the triangle finds itself in a struggle against the pressing impact of all the rest, from the biological base on up; when the odds seem hopeless, and the struggle ordained to fail; not only will we ourselves still wrestle, our fellows will cheer us on as well, sometimes with tears barely choked back, at this quintessential manifestation of the human spirit.
Under what circumstances do we experience this sense of higher triumph? Do we cheer the Ivan Boeskys of this world who, overcoming not just the constraints of modest birth, but of modesty as well, have attained solid gold bathroom fixtures?
Do we cheer the man who in spite of his physical unattractiveness beds a thousand women and, undefeated by the threat of sexually transmitted diseases, lives to tell of it? Hardly. Rather, we cheer, at the deepest levels of our being, the triumph of good over evil- over the evil that lies outside ourselves, and also the evil that lies within. Upon reflection, we realize that the only domain of potential choice that means anything to us and which, if it exists at all, needs be a priori free is that of moral choice.
As a science, psychology thus inevitably tends toward an amoral view of man, in just the same way that it tends toward a view of him that has no place for free will and choice. Some psychologists have had the courage- if that is indeed what it is: foolhardiness might be a better term; intellectual consistency, at least-to claim that if the scientific view of man is both true and complete, and if this view leads inevitably to the abolition of "man" as embodied in such concepts as "freedom" and "goodness" (and consequent upon these, such concepts as "dignity" and "nobility of character"), why then, let us be truly abstemious and do away with them entirely, as has proposed B. F. Skinner.
But no more than Freud can Skinner pull himself up by his bootstraps to an Archimedean point of psychological leverage above his own dual being, instinctively selfish as anyone else, yet longing for something good beyond mere selfishness. For when asked, "Who shall lead us into this brave new world?" he chooses ... himself, of course, and can find no better metaphor for this vaunted role than that of Jesus Christ the savior of mankind. Yet when asked to what end, he replies that it will make a better-not merely "an inevitable," "a better"-world.
This tiny, empty point at the apex of causality is indeed, to use T. S. Eliot's phrase, "the still point of the turning world." And toward this infinitesimal point of ultimate weight there emanates downward, as it were, a second, inverted triangle-one with no topmost boundary-a world of spirit utterly irreducible to the material world of causation below. The essential feature of this, the Jewish and Christian view of reality, is that it turns on the entirely nonmaterial, unnatural question of individual moral choice. With laser-like intensity, at every moment of our existence, this question is aimed and focused at the invisible apex of our being. In answering this question, over a lifetime, again and again, in thought, word, and action, a man discovers the only source of true and lasting joy, or else of deceptive, fleeting pleasure. He turns left, and legions of demons descend in flaming torture; he turns right, and a chorus of angels raise their voices in a holy song of which Handel's Messiah is but the dimmest foreshadowing.
The spiritual dimension of reality has, in this view, little to do with "magic," or altered states of consciousness, or healthy ego development, or the Goddess, or n-dimensional parallel universes, or the Earth as God's body, or archetypes that have a representation in the world of instinct; it claims, rather, that the overarching principle of existence, and therefore especially of man, is the revealed moral law. It is from this upper triangle alone that pours out upon us the living water that alone can slake our deepest thirst. Invisible and intangible, no "thing" whatsoever, this dimension exerts the greatest possible impact on our lives, as much in the myriads of tiny decisions that constitute our quotidian existence in relation to ourselves and others as in the rarer moments of genius that define a culture.
Freud said, "Before Art, psychoanalysis lays down its arms," but in this he was being rather too like Nietszche (for whom, also, art was the only appropriate metaphysical arena). Before all manifestations of the Spirit in man, psychoanalysis lays down its arms, or should.
From the perspective of a classical, antireligious form of psychoanalysis, the faith that guides men in their moral choices is not only a fable, but a neurosis. Whether it acknowledges doing so or not, it unabashedly gives pride of place-above all other forms of understanding-to biological reductionism.
A more tolerant form of psychoanalysis treats the religious impulse, and therefore the human spirit, as a kind of sublimation akin to art: in essence derivative, still, of unconscious instinctive conflict, but acceptable as a better compromise-a story we tell ourselves because we are creatures of "narrative." This approach, too, bows (sometimes unwittingly) to mechanical reductionism as the superordinate form of understanding, but adds to it a kind of condescending noblesse oblige. The patient, unaware that his spirit is being so perceived, may benefit indeed from the kindly tolerance of the wise and caring therapist, but the therapist himself, ironically, is left to shoulder the burden of a frame of mind in which all of his own nobler impulses are subtly undermined by the keen edge of his own understanding. When men do not worship God, they do not worship nothing, they worship anything. In my view, a proper psychoanalysis, and psychiatry, should assume a welcome place at the table of human understanding, not at its head but as a guest. It should recognize in a faith that orients itself toward the moral order the highest expression of human character, whose place at the head of table it would be abashed to supplant. It should not claim for itself an ability to stand above that faith and "understand" it, thereby itself turning into an ersatz faith; it can, and should, however, help people to clear away the neurotic obstacles that make faith-and hence a moral life-as difficult to achieve as it has of late become for so many. The largely invisible cost exacted by the usurpation of faith by psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry has been great, both in our private lives and in the public order. Shelley said of the romantic poets that they were "the unacknowledged legislators of mankind." The description, it seems to me, is more apt today (and equally grandiose) with regard to Freud, Jung, and their many fractious heirs. What is frightening is that this very influential faction of society should be as secular as it is: more than 90 percent of Americans believe in God, fewer than 10 percent do not; the figures are the reverse among mental health professionals. We professionals by and large also continue to believe, however improbably, that a better, not a worse, society will result from the more widespread adoption of our secular perspective. In fact, the reverse is true, and the evidence is all around us.
Jeffrey Burke Satinover, M.D., a psychiatrist in private practice in Westport, Connecticut, is past-President of the C.G. Jung Foundation of New York and a former Fellow of the Yale Child Study Center and Lecturer in Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine.
The costs of rising economic inequality. By Steven Pearlstein Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010
Although much of the Republicans'"Pledge to America" is given over to a discussion of economic issues, there is one topic that is never mentioned: the dramatic rise in income inequality. As with global warming, Republicans seem to have decided that the best way to deal with this fundamental challenge is to deny it exists. Price tag for 'basic economic security' rising, report says Comparing cost of living in the region
More U.S. women pull down big bucks
If you asked Americans how much of the nation's pretax income goes to the top 10 percent of households, it is unlikely they would come anywhere close to 50 percent, which is where it was just before the bubble burst in 2007. That's according to groundbreaking research by economists Thomas Piketty, of the Paris School of Economics, and Emmanuel Saez, of the University of California at Berkeley, who last week won one of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius" grants.
It wasn't always that way. From World War II until 1976, considered by many as the "golden years" for the U.S. economy, the top 10 percent of the population took home less than a third of the income generated by the private economy. But since then, according to Saez and Piketty, virtually all the benefits of economic growth have gone to households that, in today's terms, earn more than $110,000 a year.
Even within that top "decile," the distribution is remarkably skewed.
By 2007, the top 1 percent of households took home 23 percent of the national income after a 15-year run in which they captured more than half - yes, you read that right, more than half - of the country's economic growth. As Tim Noah noted recently in a wonderful series of articles in Slate, that's the kind of income distribution you'd associate with a banana republic or a sub-Saharan kleptocracy, not the world's oldest democracy and wealthiest market economy.
In trying to figuring out who or what is responsible for rising inequality, there are lots of suspects. Globalization is certainly one, in the form of increased flows of people, goods and capital across borders. So is technological change, which has skewed the demand for labor in favor of workers with higher education without a corresponding increase in the supply of such workers. There are a number of other culprits that come under the heading of what economists call "institutional" changes - the decline of unions, industry deregulation and the increased power of financial markets over corporate behavior.
Over time, more industries have developed the kind of superstar pay structures that were long associated with Hollywood and professional sports. And then there is my favorite culprit: changing social norms around the issue of how much inequality is socially acceptable.
Economists spend a lot of time trying to quantify precisely how much responsibility to assign to each of these, but in truth the death of equality is much like Agatha Christie's "Murder on the Orient Express": They all did it.
There are moral and political reasons for caring about this dramatic skewing of income, which in the real world leads to a similar skewing of opportunity, social standing and political power. But there is also an important economic reason: Too much inequality, just like too little, appears to reduce global competitiveness and long-term growth, at least in developed countries like ours.
We know from recent experience, for example, that financial bubbles reduce equality by siphoning off a disproportionate share of national income to Wall Street's highly-paid bankers and traders. What may be less obvious, but not less important, is that the causality also works the other way: Too much inequality can lead to financial bubbles.
The liberal version of this argument comes from former Labor secretary Robert Reich in his new book, "Aftershock." Because so much of the nation's income is siphoned off to the super-rich, Reich says, a struggling middle class trying to maintain its standard of living had no choice but to take on more and more debt. I have some problem with the argument that the middle class had no choice, but it's certainly true that the middle class and the economy as a whole would be in better shape today if households weren't burdened with so much debt.
The more conservative version of this argument comes from University of Chicago economist Raghuram Rajan. In his new book, "Fault Lines," Rajan argues that in order to respond to the stagnant incomes of their constituents, politicians took a number of steps to keep the "American Dream" within reach, including subsidization of home mortgages and college loans. He might have added that politicians also were quick to cut taxes for the middle class even when it meant running up the national debt to pay for popular entitlement programs and government services.
Concentrating so much income in a relatively small number of households has also led to trillions of dollars being spent and invested in ways that were spectacularly unproductive. In recent decades, the rich have used their winnings to bid up the prices of artwork and fancy cars, the tuition at prestigious private schools and universities, the services of celebrity hairdressers and interior decorators, and real estate in fashionable enclaves from Park City to Park Avenue. And what wasn't misspent was largely mis-invested in hedge funds and private equity vehicles that played a pivotal role in inflating a series of speculative financial bubbles, from the junk bond bubble of the '80s to the tech and telecom bubble of the '90s to the credit bubble of the past decade.
The biggest problem with runaway inequality, however, is that it undermines the unity of purpose necessary for any firm, or any nation, to thrive. People don't work hard, take risks and make sacrifices if they think the rewards will all flow to others. Conservative Republicans use this argument all the time in trying to justify lower tax rates for wealthy earners and investors, but they chose to ignore it when it comes to the incomes of everyone else.
It's no coincidence that polarization of income distribution in the United States coincides with a polarization of the political process.
Just as income inequality has eroded any sense that we are all in this together, it has also eroded the political consensus necessary for effective government. There can be no better proof of that proposition than the current election cycle, in which the last of the moderates are being driven from the political process and the most likely prospect is for years of ideological warfare and political gridlock.
Political candidates may not be talking about income inequality during this election, but it is the unspoken issue that underlies all the others. Without a sense of shared prosperity, there can be no prosperity. And given the realities of global capitalism, with its booms and busts and winner-take-all dynamic, that will require more government involvement in the economy, not less.
Neatly ignored is the feedback loop.
The very existence of inequality leads to unequal voice in politics and government, which leads to preferred access to power, which leads to more inequality, etc.
Not So Dirty
Diesel fuel may help jump-start green-car success
Decades from now, electric cars may come to dominate the auto industry. But when the first mass-market all-electric vehicles hit showrooms in the coming months, high prices coupled with limited range and little to no ability for quick and convenient recharging means that the next generation of green cars will likely be a mishmash of old and new technologies. Many will be powered in part by a fuel with a dirty reputation: diesel.
Often derided as loud and foul--smelling in the United States, in Europe diesels have long been popular. Over the past five years, a new generation of clean cars has emerged, and the newest iterations are only getting better. Next year, Peugeot and Mercedes will introduce the first diesel-hybrid vehicles to the mass market. Volvo and Peugeot will follow suit with plug-in versions in 2012 and 2014. These new vehicles will be as clean and fuel-efficient as gasoline hybrids, but with much more power. With emissions standards expected to rise and battery costs unlikely to fall significantly in the near future, analysts say the prospects for clean diesel in Europe are strong, despite the higher price tags compared with traditional cars. Diesel has always been more fuel-efficient than gasoline, but for a long time it also emitted heavy amounts of sulfur and nitrous oxide. In recent years, however, thanks to stringent emissions requirements in both the United States and Europe, automakers have found a way to reduce almost all of these noxious gases and retrofit older vehicles to meet current standards. Today's best clean-diesel automobiles such as the Audi A3 TDI and the Volkswagen Jetta TDI are quiet, low--emitting cars with lots of pep. Their combined miles-per-gallon average is only slightly less than hybrids like Toyota's Prius and far better than their gasoline-engine counterparts. In fact, Green Car Journal, a magazine devoted to energy-efficient automobiles, rated the Jetta TDI and A3 TDI as its Green Car of the Year in 2009 and 2010, respectively. "Clean diesel is gathering momentum," says Ron Cogan, the magazine's publisher.
The next generation of diesel vehicles will be even cleaner. Next spring Peugeot plans to release its 3008 Hybrid4, a crossover vehicle that will be the first diesel hybrid on the market. The car consumes 35 percent less fuel than its ordinary diesel sibling. It emits just 99 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, 10 grams more than the smaller Prius. Yet the Peugeot gets slightly better gas mileage and is far more powerful. Controlling the front wheels is a 163-horsepower, 2-liter turbo diesel engine, while a 37-horsepower electric motor that runs on a nickel-metal-hydride battery, controls the back. Sum Total: Being Green Isn't New Behind every statistic, there's a good story: facts and figures can add up to something greater than themselves.
The vehicle generated considerable buzz at the 2010 Paris Motor Show and is expected to do quite well in European markets, especially France and Germany. This is due in part to the fact that European regulators, unlike their American counterparts, have taxed gasoline at far higher rates than diesel for roughly a decade; thus, 50 percent of all cars sold in Western Europe run on diesel. In France, that percentage is more than 70. The availability of cheap, powerful, and clean diesel cars is why gasoline hybrids account for less than 1 percent of auto sales in Europe, says Julie Boote, an auto analyst for Pelham Smithers Associates in London. Diesel hybrids do, however, have a major limiting factor: price. Diesel engines add as much as $2,000 to the cost of making an automobile, and hybrid technology can tack on an additional $5,000. This added price tag is why automakers such as Toyota and Volkswagen have balked thus far at introducing their own diesel-hybrid vehicles, according to analysts. "People like to be environmentally friendly but not if it costs them too much," says Jay Baron, the president of the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan.
That's why, with the exception of the Prius, most Americans continue to buy cars that use conventional gasoline engines. Yet Peugeot and others are hoping their diesel hybrids will become exceptions to the trend. They're also hoping that tax rebates for hybrids in Europe (France offers close to $3,000 for instance) will spur consumers to choose a more powerful and fuel-efficient vehicle. For those who don't want to buy, Peugeot plans to lease its diesel-hybrid crossover at a lower monthly rate than its nonhybrid sibling. And eventually, says the company, costs will come down due to economies of scale, and sales of its diesel hybrids and plug-in hybrids for the 3008 will reach 100,000 in 2015.
It took about five years for Toyota to reach that sales mark with the Prius, so if Peugeot does the same, that would certainly be a success. With European emissions regulations expected to increase considerably by 2014, the success of Peugeot and other diesel hybrids will likely be determined by how fast auto companies can make an affordable electric car without all the expected hassles. As Baron puts it, if battery costs do not come down quickly, "the ultimate way to get high fuel economy would be a diesel hybrid."
With Azriel James Relph and Tania Barnes in New York
|U.S. Aids Taliban to Attend Talks on Making Peace
By THOM SHANKER, DAVID E. SANGER and ERIC SCHMITT
Published: October 13, 2010
BRUSSELS — United States-led forces are permitting the movement of senior Taliban leaders to attend initial peace talks in Kabul, the clearest indication of American support for high-level discussions aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan, senior NATO and Obama administration officials said.
While the talks involve senior members of the Taliban, officials emphasized that they were preliminary, and that they could not tell how serious the insurgents — or the weak government of President Hamid Karzai — were about reaching an accord.
But comments by administration officials in Washington and a senior NATO official in Brussels on Wednesday indicated that the United States was doing more to encourage a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan than officials had previously disclosed, and might reflect growing pessimism that the buildup of American forces there will produce decisive gains against the Taliban insurgency.
The NATO official confirmed that "there has been outreach by very senior members of the Taliban to the highest levels of the Afghan government." Though the talks are preliminary, he said, the prospect of negotiating a settlement of the war effort, now nine years old, is alluring enough that personnel from NATO nations in Afghanistan "have indeed facilitated to various degrees the contacts" by allowing Taliban leaders to travel to the Afghan capital.
Mr. Karzai has been trying for many months to persuade Taliban leaders to join his government, and the efforts intensified late last year after President Obama said that he intended to begin scaling back American troop levels in Afghanistan by the summer of 2011. American officials had earlier insisted that such talks were a sideshow to the main war effort and that they were unlikely to produce results until the Taliban felt weakened by the intensified NATO assault.
Now, some officials appear eager to show that they are pursuing a new approach in Afghanistan that explores a possible political settlement even as the military tries to step up pressure on the Taliban.
The top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, told reporters in Afghanistan recently that high-level Taliban leaders were reaching out to senior Afghan officials to start discussions. General Petraeus seems determined to show progress on achieving American goals in Afghanistan — both military and political — ahead of a December review of the war effort ordered by Mr. Obama.
Support for talks also comes as American officials have expressed a growing frustration with the complex role played by Pakistan, which provides safe haven for many insurgents and has ambitions of dictating the postwar political situation in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has insisted that any lasting solution in Afghanistan must involve reconciliation with the Taliban, and has urged the United States to participate in peace talks. At the same time, Pakistan has disrupted some efforts by Mr. Karzai to reach out to Taliban leaders hiding in Pakistan, presumably because he made those overtures without Pakistan's approval.
It is not clear which Taliban leaders have been allowed to travel to Kabul to conduct talks with Mr. Karzai's government. The NATO official also did not disclose what members of NATO's Afghanistan force, the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, have done to support the talks beyond offering safe passage to insurgents participating in the discussions.
"It would be extremely difficult for a senior Taliban member to get to Kabul without being killed or captured if ISAF were not witting," the official said. "And ISAF is witting."
In Washington, officials have been more cautious about prospects for a peaceful settlement. One senior American official noted recently that the Taliban, while war-weary, had little incentive to make concessions because they still had the sense that they could outlast the American presence in the country. Mr. Karzai, others noted, can be an erratic negotiator, and part of the mystery in Kabul is whether he is keeping American and NATO allies abreast of his conversations.
Mr. Obama signed off on a policy early this year that talks were possible as long as Taliban leaders, at the end of the process, agreed to renounce violence, lay down their arms, and pledge fidelity to the Afghan Constitution. As recently as August, two senior American officials said, Mr. Obama was updated on the progress of those efforts, officials said, and reaffirmed that the United States should aid the process, even if the Taliban involved in the talks represented only breakaway factions of the insurgent group.
"We're not expecting Mullah Omar to walk in the door," one senior administration official said recently, referring to the Taliban figure Mullah Muhammad Omar. "But there have been pings from commanders a few notches down."
The NATO official said: "These are in the very preliminary stages of discussions. So you would not yet characterize this by any means as a negotiation."
The NATO official discussed developments in Afghanistan on standard diplomatic ground rules of anonymity because of the delicacy of the reconciliation discussions. The official spoke in advance of a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday that will include alliance ministers of foreign affairs and of defense. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates are scheduled to attend.
Next month, President Obama is expected to attend a NATO summit meeting in Lisbon, where the United States must make the case to nervous — and in some cases, soon-departing — allies that there is a viable plan for turning more of Afghanistan over to the government. That effort will have little chance of success, many officials believe, if there is no political path for integrating low-level Taliban fighters and reconciling with their leaders.
Congressional officials and independent experts voiced skepticism on Wednesday that the current discussions would lead to any immediate breakthrough.
"We've now got two years of reports of talks about talks, but none of it has panned out as serious," said Bruce O. Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who led Mr. Obama's first Afghanistan policy review.
But the increased NATO military operations in southern Afghanistan aimed at killing or capturing midlevel Taliban commanders has caused some Taliban leaders "nervousness about life and fortune," Mr. Riedel said.
"It's a more dicey game. You're starting to see people wanting to put money down on all bets."
Gamesa and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding Join Forces in Offshore Wind Technology
-- The companies will work to launch Gamesa's first offshore prototype in the US, the totally new G11X-5.0 MW offshore wind turbine
-- The agreement calls for the installation of two prototype Gamesa G11X-5 MW turbines in Q4, 2012
-- Additionally, the companies plan to jointly develop next generations of offshore wind systems
MADRID and NEW YORK, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Gamesa, a global technology leader in the wind energy business (through its U.S. based subsidiary), and the Newport News Shipbuilding operations of Northrop Grumman Corporation, a leading American defence company and America's largest shipbuilder, have signed an agreement to work together on offshore wind technology. The agreement calls for the companies to cooperate on the launch of Gamesa's first G11X -5.0 MW offshore prototype, in the United States, using Gamesa's multi-megawatt technology and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding's broad experience in challenging marine environments.
Gamesa is currently designing and developing a G11X- 5.0 MW offshore Wind Turbine (WTG), specifically for the marine environment, built upon the technologies already extensively tested and validated in the G10X-4.5 MW platform. Gamesa is teaming with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News to utilize their proven expertise in heavy load logistics, systems performance and reliability and the applications of such technologies in the marine environment.
To install in the US the first Gamesa G11X-5.0 MW offshore prototype Gamesa and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding said they are setting up an initial team of as many as 40 engineers in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia over the next month. This highly skilled team will perform all of the preliminary work required to install in the US the first Gamesa G11X-5.0 MW offshore prototype by Q4-2012, including site selection, permitting, final construction and installation of the prototype and testing. "Gamesa has said before that it intends to play a significant role in the offshore market to ensure that it can tap the demand generated in the Northern European market, specifically the United Kingdom, starting in 2015, as well in the United States. Our alliance with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding will give us the opportunity to test our technology on a short-term horizon, as well as to enhance and strengthen it, thanks to the skills and experience offered by a global leader in naval structures," said Dirk Matthys, CEO of Gamesa in the US. "This partnership further demonstrates Gamesa's continuing commitment to and expansion in the North American market with both land and sea-based wind turbine technology."
Matthew J. Mulherin, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding- Newport News, said, "We are pleased to collaborate with Gamesa, a world leader in the wind turbine industry, as we work together to launch and install a new generation of offshore wind turbine systems." This announcement by Gamesa and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding comes as federal and state governments intensify their focus on developing offshore wind energy. Offshore wind projects totaling more than 5,000 megawatts have been proposed and are in the planning or development stages in the United States. The turbine and foundation systems created by Gamesa and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding address the market's main concerns, namely efficiency of civil engineering infrastructures (the No. 1 investment expense in offshore wind), turbine reliability, low maintenance and servicing requirements, and minimizing the cost of generating electricity.
Next generations of offshore wind systems
New generations of offshore turbine systems offering higher installed capacity will be required in order to meet the expected rising demand in the offshore wind energy market in the medium and long term. To this end, Gamesa is already working on the rollout of another family of offshore turbines, with a capacity of 6-7 MW, with a pre-series potentially available in 2014.
About Gamesa (www.gamesacorp.com)
With more than 15 years' experience, Gamesa is a world leader in the design, manufacture, installation and maintenance of wind turbines, with more than 19,000 MW installed in 26 countries on four continents.
The company is also a global benchmark in the market for the development, construction and sale of wind farms, with more than 3,500 MW installed and a wind farm portfolio totalling 22,000 MW at varying stages of development in Europe, America and Asia.
With 30 manufacturing facilities in Europe, the United States, China and India, and 4,400 MW of annual manufacturing capacity, Gamesa has an international workforce of more than 6,300 people.
Gamesa started operations in the U.S. in 2005 which includes two manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania, and Gamesa currently employs 900 people in North America.
About Northrop Grumman (www.northropgrumman.com)
For more than a century, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, the largest shipbuilder in America and a business sector of Northrop Grumman Corporation, has been designing, building, overhauling and repairing a wide variety of ships for the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and world navies.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a leading global security company whose 120,000 employees provide innovative systems, products, and solutions in aerospace, electronics, information systems, shipbuilding and technical services to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.
Australia's first saint: Nun who exposed abuse
Mary MacKillop exposed sexual abuse and was briefly excommunicated
Jeremy Piper / AP
Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010.
msnbc.com news services updated 10/17/2010 8:28:45 AM ET
SYDNEY — Pope Benedict on Sunday gave Australia its first saint, a 19th century "whistleblower" nun who activists say should be the patron of victims of sexual abuse by priests because she was punished for exposing it.
At a solemn ceremony in St Peter's Square, the pope canonized Mother Mary MacKillop as well as five other church figures from Poland, Canada, Spain, and Italy who lived in the 15th to 20th centuries. Tens of thousands of Australian pilgrims traveled to Rome to attend the mass where the pope read a sainthood decree for MacKillop, one of the few saints in Church history who were excommunicated and later rehabilitated.
Chants of "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi" echoed throughout St. Peter's Square as a raucous crowd of flag-and-balloon-bearing Australians cheered their native Mary MacKillop. In Sydney, huge images of the nun were projected onto the sandstone pylons of the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge.
Speaking in Latin on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict read out the names of each of the six new saints, declaring each one worthy of veneration in all the Catholic Church. Also among them was Brother Andre Bessette, a Canadian brother known as a "miracle worker" and revered by millions of Canadians and Americans for healing thousands of sick who came to him.
"Let us be drawn by these shining examples, let us be guided by their teachings," Benedict said in his homily, delivered in English, French, Italian, Polish and Spanish to reflect the languages spoken by the church's newest saints.
A cheer had broken out in the crowd when MacKillop's name was announced earlier in the Mass, evidence of the significant turnout of Australians celebrating the humble nun who was briefly excommunicated in part because her religious order exposed a pedophile priest.
A maverick and feisty upstart in the spirit of her young nation, MacKillop, the daughter of Scottish immigrants, founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1867 to help the poor and educate their children.
Independent-minded, she regularly clashed with the church's male hierarchy and the tensions led to her excommunication — the Catholic Church's harshest penalty, which denies the sacraments to a person — in 1871. The order was later lifted.
Documents recently uncovered in Australia showed that MacKillop was banished from the Church in part because her order uncovered a case of sexual abuse of a boy by an Irish priest.
In his homily at the mass, the pope did not mention any of MacKillop's travails with the male Church hierarchy but spoke of her "saintly example of zeal, perseverance and prayer" and the many challenges she faced. In the wake of the new documents, some activists in the Church have called on the Vatican to declare her the patron saint of those who suffered sexual abuse by priests.
Priests were "annoyed that somebody had uncovered it ... and being so angry, the destruction of the Josephites was decided on," said Rev. Paul Gardiner, the chaplain of the Mary MacKillop Penola Center, a state-run historic site.
The exposure of the priest was just one of many factors — including bitter rivalries among priests — that led to her excommunication, the Sisters of St. Joseph said in a statement.
Australia's first saint: Nun who exposed abuse
She and 47 other nuns were thrown onto the streets of Adelaide, relying on the charity of friends to survive. Five months later, the bishop revoked his ruling from his deathbed, restoring MacKillop to her order and paving the way for her decades of work educating the poor across Australia and New Zealand.
"It is a great day," Sister Monica Cavanagh, acting secretary general of MacKillop's order, told Reuters."We are proud of Mary. We are proud that she's Australian, that she's a woman and she's a Josephite. We are just filled with great joy. We have probably even had a few tears today," Cavanagh said from MacKillop's tomb, a short distance from Sydney's famous harbor.
In the town of Penola in South Australia state, where in 1866 MacKillop founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, a special mass was celebrated with children dressing up in 19th century costume. In Melbourne where she was born, Australia's atheist Prime Minister Julia Gillard joined celebrations commemorating her life. Near MacKillop's tomb in Sydney, giant screens were set up to broadcast the canonization ceremony live.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, a Catholic who has traveled to Rome for the event, commended MacKillop for "extending education services to girls, to the poor, to the far flung parts of Australia." Opposition leader Tony Abbott, also a Catholic, called MacKillop "inspirational."
Around 5 million of Australia's 22 million people are Catholic, making it the country's largest religion. Born in Melbourne in 1842 to Scottish parents, MacKillop's worked to provide Catholic education at a time when many poor children in colonial Australia received no education at all.
The Catholic Church has credited MacKillop for interceding with God in what the Church considers two miracle cures, the latest that of Kathleen Evans, who was cured of lung and brain cancer in 1993 after praying to MacKillop.
Another Australian woman, Veronica Hopson, 72, was inexplicably cured of leukemia in 1961 after praying to MacKillop. A special cross made from timber taken from MacKillop's original school has toured Australia over the past two months in preparation for her canonization.
Today's Josephites work in several countries, including Australia's neighbor East Timor. They no longer wear the traditional nun's habit, but wore a blue scarf on Sunday to denote membership of the order.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bangladesh, India most at risk from climate change; Floating wind turbines?
Posted: 20 Oct 2010 08:47 AM PDT
New Floating Wind Turbines to Make Wind Energy Cheaper More Reliable?
Floating wind turbines are a little more complicated and require higher initial costs. But a new study, Project Deepwater, by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) in the UK has found that due to their greater ability to access stronger and more consistent winds deeper out at sea, they are more economically efficient in the long term.
"The traditional view is that the cost of offshore wind becomes increasingly expensive as turbines are located in deeper water, due to the additional costs of supporting traditional turbine structures," said ETI chief executive Dr David Clarke.
"The cost of foundations does get more expensive as you go into deeper water, but the wind speeds in much of the UK's deep water are significantly stronger and more consistent, which results in a more reliable and higher energy output. Over time, this more than outweighs the additional foundation costs and gives an overall lower cost of energy."
Bangladesh, India most at risk from climate change
Bangladesh and India are the countries most vulnerable to climate change, according to an index on Wednesday that rates the Nordic region least at risk.
British consultancy Maplecroft said its rankings showed that several "big economies of the future" in Asia were among those facing the biggest risks from global warming in the next 30 years as were large parts of Africa.
It said poverty and large low-lying coastal regions prone to floods and cyclones were among factors making Bangladesh the most exposed country. India, in second place, was vulnerable because of pressures from a rising population of 1.1 billion.
Madagascar was in third place, followed by Nepal, Mozambique, the Philippines, Haiti, Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Myanmar. Vietnam, in 13th place and flood-hit Pakistan in 16th were also in the most exposed group.
They left out the 2 Billion at risk in Central Asia that depend on the Himalaya Glacier for survival. The first casualty: Aral Sea, once the fourth largest lake in the world. It has lost 2/3 its water. Great many are out food and unable to farm.
An Analysis of Gubernatorial Candidate Meg Whitman's Economic Policy Proposals
SOURCE: AP/Paul Sakuma
By Michael Reich. Economics Professor, UC Berkeley | August 10, 2010
This paper analyzes Republican candidate for Governor Meg Whitman's economic policy proposals for California, as stated in her 48-page policy document, Meg 2010, Building a New California, Meg Whitman's Policy Agenda. Since Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown has issued policy documents related to green jobs and pension policy, but not an economic policy program, we could not conduct a side-by-side analysis of the two candidates' economic policy programs at this time. Nonetheless, Whitman's Meg 2010 is well worth individual analysis.
Meg 2010 presents a diagnosis of California's current woes and a set of policies to address them. Whitman asserts that California has lost its competitive edge because it has a poor business climate caused by too much public spending, a bloated publicemployee structure, too high taxes, and excessive regulation. Whitman promises to restore economic growth and create two million private-sector jobs by cutting $15 billion in state spending, eliminating 40,000 state employees, redefining publicemployee pension plans, cutting state taxes on the wealthiest Californians, reducing some worker protections, and reducing regulations, such as delaying and effectively ending California Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming and Solutions Act of 2006.
What would be the consequences of such deeply conservative economic policies on the future economic fortunes of our state and our citizens? This paper assesses the damage that Whitman's economic program would deliver to most Californians. We find that Whitman's proposed:
Tax cuts for wealthy people and businesses would reduce the state's economic growth while exacerbating the state's budget deficit problems.
Elimination of climate change regulation would harm to the environment, would sharply reduce clean-tech venture capital spending in the state, and would reduce employment.
Spending cuts would have negative consequences on employment.
In short, Whitman's diagnosis of the California economy is deeply flawed and her "solutions" would be deeply damaging. Her approach to economic policy, which she calls "my kind of supply-side economics," is wrong for California. As we document, the economic "studies" she draws upon are unscientific and an unsound basis for policy. If implemented, her policy proposals are likely to have negative effects on jobs and economic growth and to deepen the state's budget crisis.
Can California recover from the Great Recession and grow again?
Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's economic policy program, Meg 2010, claims that the California economy grew more slowly than it could have over the past decade, based on a report from the conservative Milken Institute. She wants California to become more competitive with neighboring states by reducing taxes and regulations.
In fact, until the Great Recession of 2007-2009, California's performance in the 2000s exceeded the national average, with GDP growth of 2.3 percent per year, compared to 2.1 percent for the nation as a whole. The Milken study selected seven comparison states that had high-tech manufacturing centers, each of which had grown faster than California. Were these representative comparisons? No. In another analysis of all the other states that also had high-tech manufacturing centers, California's growth was higher than those in all of the other states. The Milken study is inaccurate and unscientific because it selected unrepresentative states for its comparisons.
California remains the economic powerhouse of the United States. Our nation's high-technology industry is heavily concentrated here. The state receives over half of all venture capital investment in the country, a higher share than a decade ago, and nearly two-thirds of all clean-tech venture capital—a sector that barely existed a decade ago and that grew rapidly after the passage of California Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming and Solutions Act of 2006, or AB32. California ranks third among the states in the proportion of new businesses and it is a leader in research and education, with over one-quarter of the top 25 engineering schools. California's comparative advantages are still rooted in its innovative industries, technically-skilled workforce, and world-class universities, not in competing with other states or countries for low-wage industries.
Contrary to Whitman's diagnosis, the state's current economic woes result primarily from the deep national economic downturn, combined with a particularly severe hit from the U.S. mortgage finance crisis. California's unemployment rate is higher than the national rate primarily because the state's residential construction and associated real estate and finance sectors overexpanded during the housing bubble more than in the rest of the United States. The mortgage sector was notably more deregulated than in other states. The collapse of these sectors has been more intense as well. Meg 2010 neither mentions the housing and credit bubbles and their aftermath nor how the state should respond to them.
Fortunately, a tentative national economic recovery is underway, generated by action in Washington—including the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—as well as a moderate upswing in business and consumer spending and international trade. California's economy is beginning to recover as well. According to forecasts from the State Department of Finance and from independent forecasters, California should gain 1.25 million jobs by 2015 without any of Whitman's policies.
For the state to help speed recovery, some policies are more effective than others.
Meg 2010's proposed policies will send the state backwards. Whitman proposes to cut spending and taxes, even though government spending has a much greater "multiplier effect" than tax cuts. A multiplier is economic parlance for the amount of "bang for the buck"—the amount of economic activity related to every dollar spent or invested— that a particular policy proposal will deliver to an economy. According to Moody Analytics's Mark Zandi, Whitman's favored tax cuts for those in the highest income tax brackets would have the lowest multiplier effect on the California economy. This implies that tax increases on top incomes to help close the budget gap would have the smallest adverse effect on the state economy of any of the proposed budget solutions.
To balance the state budget with the least adverse impact on the state economy, smaller cuts in state spending should be balanced with increases in the highest marginal tax brackets. Whitman wants to do the opposite. So let us first look at her proposals to tackle California's budget deficit and then examine her underlying assumptions about what ails the state.
Whitman's proposals to fix the state budget
California's estimated budget deficit for the coming fiscal year stands at $20 billion. Whitman proposes to cut $15 billion in spending in her first year in office, while also reducing taxes by billions of dollars a year. Alas, these numbers do not add up to $20 billion. And her plan does not specify where most of the cuts will fall. Whitman asserts that the state government can provide the same level of services while reducing costs by 20 percent. While some efficiency gains may be achievable there is no evidence to support this claim.
California's revenues and expenditures rise in boom years while revenue falls sharply and demand on human services increase in bust years, creating a "cyclical" deficit. As the noted Berkeley economist Alan Auerbach argues, mandating that California put more of its revenue in good years into a "rainy day" reserve fund would go far toward limiting spending growth to sustainable levels and eliminating the cyclical deficit.8
In fiscal year 2009-10 California's general fund budget amounts to $86 billion, of which $34.6 billion is for K-12 education, $10.6 billion for higher education, $25 billion for health and human services, $9.8 billion for corrections, and $6.1 billion for everything else. Most of these funds are spent directly on programs and services.
Whitman's plan to cut $15 billion from the budget therefore necessarily implies significant reductions in spending on education, health, and social service programs on top of the deep cuts already made in the past two years. But additional cuts in these areas would further reduce the level of current economic activity in the state. Education, health, and social service expenditures are investments that will make Californians more productive. Cuts in these programs will therefore reduce the state's potential to grow in the future.
Cuts to health and social service programs would also have a particularly large depressing effect on the state's economy because federal matching rates for state spending are high and because these funds are spent predominantly within the state.
California currently ranks 36th among states in high school graduation rates, 48th or 49th in fourth grade and eighth grade reading and math scores, 45th in per pupil education spending, and last in teachers per student. According to Next 10, a San Francisco-based, nonprofit research institute, current policies will leave per pupil spending in California $3,200 (23 percent) below the national average by 2015. Cutting K-12 spending further thus will only make these disparities greater.
Whitman wants to fix education by reducing spending on overhead and putting more money into the classroom. She claims that only 60 percent of education funding reaches the classroom and that 40 percent is spent on wasteful bureaucracy, even though the number of principals and administrators per student in California is onethird to one-half the national average. The proportions for the counselors, librarians, secretaries, custodians, cafeteria workers, and school bus drivers that make up the rest of the staff are also lower. California's K-12 system would benefit from constructive financial and regulatory reforms, but education experts across the political spectrum agree that such reforms will require more resources, not less.
Whitman proposes to increase funding for higher education by $1 billion. Such an increase is much needed. Other than a general statement about cutting the $86 billion budget elsewhere, Meg 2010 does not specify how she will pay for this increase.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
California's Medicaid program, Medi-Cal, currently accounts for $11.2 billion of the state's budget. The recently passed national health care reform will greatly expand eligibility for Medi-Cal. Funding for the newly eligible Medi-Cal populations will be paid 100 percent by the federal government in 2014, when the expansion begins, and phase down to 90 percent by 2019.
The federal health care reforms include so called "maintenance-of-efforts" requirements on the states that receive federal funding. For Medi-Cal to maintain the services it provides to currently covered Californians, it will need to maintain these efforts to ensure a high federal matching rate. Cuts to state health care spending as proposed by Whitman would therefore have particularly large multiplier effects on reducing employment in California.
Whitman also proposes to reduce eligibility for CalWorks, California's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. California currently spends $2.4 billion on TANF from its own funds and an additional $3.7 billion from federal funds. Cutting CalWorks beyond Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's previous cuts would result in significant loss of federal funding for this program, too.
Cutting education, health, and human services not only causes poor school performance for students and personal pain for the sick and needy but also eliminates thousands of jobs. University of California, Berkeley researchers Ken Jacobs, T. William Lester, and Laurel Tan estimate that a tax increase of $1 billion for the top income stratum would reduce spending and lead to a loss of 6,000 jobs in California. By comparison, under Whitman's proposed plans, equivalent cuts in Medi-Cal and CalWorks spending would lead to a loss of 63,200 jobs.
PRISON CORRECTIONAL SERVICES
Whitman proposes to reform spending on health care for prisoners, arguing that the state spends more on health care per prisoner than any other state in the nation. California is currently under federal court order and in receivership to improve health care for prisoners. While some savings may be achieved in this area, they are not likely to be significant.
Whitman proposes to harness the power of technology by upgrading the state government's antiquated computer systems. Although upgrading the state's computers is a good idea, it will require a major upfront investment with a payoff in future years. This represents another cost Whitman does not take into account in her economic policy program.
Can California afford to experiment with economic policies based on Whitman's economic assumptions?
Meg Whitman's economic policy proposals are predicated on her understanding of what she thinks ails the state economy. But is she correct in assuming that the state government is too large, or that Californians are over-taxed, or that California businesses are over-regulated? Let's look at each of these assumptions to see how they square with the facts.
Is California government too large?
Is the state's deficit due to bloated government employment, as Whitman claims? In a word: No. The deficit is chiefly caused by severely reduced revenues due to the Great Recession and the absence of a mandated "rainy day" fund. In 2008, the most recent year available, California's government employment per capita was 28 percent below the U.S. average, ranking 48th among the states, and California state employment per capita has not increased since the early 1980s.
Nonetheless, Whitman proposes to reduce the state workforce by 40,000 workers, excluding the University of California system, corrections, and public safety. This number would equal nearly 25 percent of the remaining state workforce of 162,000. That many employees cannot be cut without substantially reducing state services, from DMV to foster care. As already mentioned, most of the cuts would fall on education, health, and human services.
Whitman wants to cut retirement benefits by moving all new public employees to so called defined- contribution plans, in which employees select investments to save for their retirement. This change would enable the state government to make smaller contributions to public pension plans compared to what it must contribute to its current employees' defined-benefit plans—which define the level of benefits upon retirement. The likely savings from this proposed move in the first five years would do little to balance the state budget because the number of new hires will be small while commitments to the public sector's incumbent workers will remain.
What's more, California's state employees are paid 8 percent less in salaries and benefits than comparable workers in California's private sector. And cutting benefits further by shifting to defined-contribution plans for new employees would make it more difficult to attract talented employees into the state workforce.
Whitman's ambitious proposals to move entirely to defined-contribution plans for new employees are problematic for another reason, too. Without the contributions to the defined-benefit plans from new employees, the state's required employer contributions to those plans would very soon become larger.
Defined-benefit plans share risk across employees so that retirement is not put at risk if the economy is in recession when individual employees reach retirement age. Moving entirely to defined-contribution plans over time both weakens the funding basis for current retirees and shifts additional risk to new employees.
Whitman claims that pension-fund costs for the state have spun out of control because benefits are too high. Yet in 2009 employer contributions remained lower than they were in the early 1980s. The state's contributions fell especially during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when tax revenue was declining and Republicans held the governor's office. California does not face higher costs today just because of the stock market crash in 2008. If the state had maintained its earlier contribution levels to public pension funds in the 1990s and 2000s, and not gambled that higher stock market returns would continue, then California state pension funds would not be so substantially underfunded today.
Some public pension reforms—such as increasing the retirement age to 60 or 65 to align more with the private sector and eliminating pension "spiking," or sudden increases in defined benefits for employees nearing retirement—are desirable. But they would help only somewhat in reducing under-funding problems in our state's public pension system. And anyway, average benefit levels are not overly generous.
Is California overtaxed?
Meg 2010 repeats the claim of the pro-business Tax Foundation that California ranks 48th in its "tax climate." This claim is based almost entirely on the rates of the top nominal income tax brackets in different states and ignores California's lower taxes on property. In 2007 California's state and local tax revenue, as a proportion of personal income, was only 2.4 percent higher than the average for all states. In recession years, the ratio falls to below average.
In any case, research shows that taxes play a secondary role in the location of business and attraction of skilled workers compared to investments in education, infrastructure, and public services. A literature review by economist Terry Buss concludes, "tax literature, now in hundreds of publications, provides little guidance to policy makers trying to fine tune economic development."
The upshot: Whitman's proposed cuts in taxes and fees paid by businesses are likely to have little positive effect relative to the number of jobs that would be lost by the resulting drop in public investment. These cuts could result in a loss of revenue of $6 billion to $10 billion a year or more, depending on how they were implemented. These tax cuts would add substantially to the state's budget crisis.
Capital gains cuts
Whitman proposes to eliminate entirelythe state personal income tax on capital gains, or profits realized from investments instead of earnings. Moderate cuts in federal capital gains taxes in the past produced small one-time increases in revenues as some investors take advantage of the newly lowered rates, but research shows that soon thereafter the net effect of lower rates on revenues is negative and the effects on economic growth are extremely small at best.
The problem is that Whitman's proposal to eliminate entirely state capital gains taxes would not produce even a one-time revenue gain, although it would benefit the richest people in the state. How do we know that? In 2007, taxes on capital gains generated approximately $11 billion in revenue for the state. After taking into account stock market declines since 2007, eliminating the capital gains tax would reduce revenue by about $4 billion to $4.5 billion a year over each of the next five years, and the revenue losses would increase in subsequent years.
Eliminating the state capital gains tax would do very little to spur investment in the state. Most California investors' portfolios are diversified nationally and internationally. Consequently, the vast majority of private income retained by investors would be spent on stock purchases of companies outside the state.
Moreover, Californians who benefit from cuts in the state capital gains tax would pay about one-third of it back to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service because state income taxes are deductible from federal income taxes. So the more Whitman reduces the state capital gains tax the more Californians will have to pay in federal taxes.
Would the elimination of income taxes on capital gains induce some multimillionaires to move to California, bringing their spending with them? The available evidence indicates that the highest-income households have not been leaving the state because of the state's income tax. This finding suggests that the relocation back to California of any of its multimillionaires who did leave would not be substantial either.
Other proposed Whitman tax cuts
Whitman's Meg 2010 proposes other ways to find savings in the state budget. These savings are either too small to be meaningful from a fiscal perspective (even if some of them are desirable in terms of government efficiency) or could in fact increase the state budget deficit. Some of her proposals include:
Eliminate the filing fee for new businesses. The cost of eliminating the fee would reduce state revenue by approximately $68 million a year.
Eliminate so-called sales taxes and use taxes on manufacturing equipment in the state. Analyses of similar proposals (AB 1812; AB 829) place the costs at between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion a year.
Increase the research and development tax credit to 20 percent from 15 percent. The Legislative Analyst Office estimates this change would result in a loss of $40 million in FY 2009-10, $65 million in FY 2010-11, $57 million in FY 2011-12, and $60 million in FY 2012-13, for a total of $222 million in lost revenue over a four-year period.
A $10,000 tax credit for home purchases. The cost of the proposal would depend on the exact specifications, but similar proposals (in Assembly Bill 183) are projected to cost about $200 million a year.
A series of other business tax reductions that are specified too generally to analyze their cost, among them a water conservation tax credit, the creation of academic enterprise zones, an acceleration of business tax depreciation, and a green-tech tax credit.
These proposals have some merit. But their combined effect would still increase California's budget deficit. During a time of economic hardship and high unemployment, reducing taxes while cutting services for low- and middle-income Californians is likely to depress rather than spur economic growth.
Is California over-regulated?
The Whitman plan assumes that all business regulations can only increase business costs and that they do not create any economic benefits. But that is often not the case. Some regulations generate benefits that are greater than their costs.
The lax regulation of the California mortgage market, for example, led to the foreclosure of a quarter-million homes, while stricter regulation on mortgages in Texas kept foreclosures much lower there. Meg 2010 is silent on the mortgage finance fiasco and the need for better financial regulation at the state level.
Similarly, regulatory incentives imposed 20 years ago to conserve energy have created jobs in California while reducing energy use. Yet Whitman would effectively eliminate AB32, California's Global Warming Solutions Act. Meg 2010 says the full implementation of AB32 will cost $100 billion and destroy one million jobs, based on a report by Sacramento State University business school professors Sanjay Varshney and Dennis Tootelian. These estimates diverge radically from all the other studies of AB32, such as that of energy economist Matthew Kahn of UCLA.28
Meg 2010 depends upon another Varshney and Tootelian study that purports to find that business regulation in California costs about $17,000 per resident. This estimate—one- third of the state's gross product!—is simply not credible. Indeed, their study was called "useless" by the nonpartisan California Legislative Analysts Office, was labeled "one of the worst examples of shlock science" by economists John Haveman and Christopher Thornberg, the founders of the Beacon Economics forecasting firm, and was said to have "no basis in reality," according to economics professor David Neumark of UC Irvine.
Undoubtedly, some state regulations need to be improved. But Varshney and Tootelian ignore any benefits of regulation and treat all regulations as equally harmful. Their indices of regulatory burdens are seriously flawed because they are based upon arbitrary indices to rank California's business climate. One of these indices is based only upon the top nominal corporate and personal income tax rates, which is not a measure of regulation. Their underlying index of business regulation is based upon subjective discussions by editors at Forbes and surveys of business leaders' attitudes that basically reflect a political agenda without any statistical relationship to economic growth.
Finally, their statistical methods are remarkably outmoded. The problems include not controlling for a state's size, improper tests for statistical significance, and no attempts to distinguish correlation from causality. For non-economists, this means Varshney and Tootelian fail to provide credible evidence that business regulations in California have reduced economic growth. While there are undoubtedly many individual regulations that need modification, their study does not contribute to our understanding of how regulations function.
Whitman wants, further, to create "enterprise zones" near UC campuses where regulations and taxes on business would be lower. There is no evidence that such zones work to encourage spin-offs from university research, which are not based on cheap labor and low taxes. Spin-offs develop with a critical mass of high-tech workforce expertise, entrepreneurial and business management talent, access to venture capital, and proximity to leading universities. Most "science parks" around the world attempt to recreate this kind of critical mass, though some in developing countries also sometimes offer lower taxes and cheap labor to attract start-up companies from other countries, including the United States. California's competitive advantage, however, lies in its overwhelming mass of intellectual prowess, business talent, and venture capital. Several UC campuses, such as UC San Diego and UC San Francisco, already attract biotech and other high-tech companies. Whitman's proposal for tax breaks is not helpful.
Whitman also proposes to reduce worker protections, such as overtime pay after eight hours and meal breaks. Current law permits employees to agree to alternative work schedules, such as four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour days, through a secret ballot election or collective bargaining agreement. Whitman wants to eliminate the daily overtime provision, which would give employers but not employees the choice over schedules.
Daily overtime was eliminated for most workers in California in 1998 and then reinstated in 2000. It was also suspended temporarily for employers rebuilding Los Angeles freeways after a 1994 earthquake. These policy changes allowed researchers to study its effects. The studies found that the daily overtime policy generates significant negative effects on the use of overtime, and that repeal of daily overtime would reduce employment by between 1.6 percent and 2 percent.
Employers' savings from not having to pay overtime would transfer over $1 billion from workers to employers. This transfer of wealth from low- and middle-income salaried employees who spend almost all of their overtime pay to employers who will spend and invest significantly less in the state economy means slower economic growth and less tax revenue.
Meg 2010 is based on faulty economic theories and on studies that are fundamentally unsound. The nonpartisan California Legislative Analysts Office states that one of these studies is "unreliable" and that the other "contains a number of serious shortcomings that render its estimates of the annual economic costs of state regulations essentially useless."
Because Meg 2010 is not based on facts or experienced analysis its economic policy prescriptions are equally dubious. If implemented, Whitman's program would worsen California's budget malaise and its economic performance. Californians need to examine carefully her faulty economic assumptions as well as understand the consequences of her misguided conservative economic proposals.
Michael Reich is professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley.
She made no mention of Vocational Training and Low Income Workers.
This show her lack of awareness of the economic world. The San Francisco Airport is well aware of the importance of Low Income Workers and BART made special arrangements for them to get to work. It was not an act of generosity, it was a mean to survive in the competitive world. Failure to constantly keep busy places in excellent state does drive business away.
Failure to make an allowance would make the Low Income Worker in Bay Point pay $20 a day, to work at SFO. This is a self-contradiction.
We need that and more. The unemployed ought to have special fares to reach job sites and apply for work and, commute to work. A minor investment that would cut Unemployment compensation and increase tax revenues -obviously! But, none of that was mentioned!
Boeing 787 Flight Simulator Lands in U.K
Posted by Rupa Haria at 10/20/2010 12:18 PM CDT
In advance of the delivery of the first Dreamliner next year, Boeing has started launching its worldwide 787 training facilities. The company already has 80 simulators across 17 campuses located in 12 countries. Eight new 787 simulators are now located in Seattle, Singapore, Tokyo and Gatwick – the latter two ideal for launch customers ANA and Thomson Airways.
At London's Gatwick Boeing had some impressive stats today for the 787 simulator launch. The company forecasts that by 2029, commercial airlines will require 30,900 new aircraft valued at $3.6 trillion. The large majority of that requirement is made up of single-aisle and twin-aisle airplanes. Almost 477,000 new pilots will be required to fly those, as well as almost 600,000 technicians to maintain them. Unsurprisingly, Asia-Pacific has the largest chunk of the requirement at around 40%, and the US and Europe each need around 20%.
By Boeing's estimates, one million people will be required the next 19 years to support aviation growth. Excluding cabin and ground crew, airport personnel and the other millions of indirectly employed workers that support the business of commercial aviation.
Boeing's UK training facility employs 60 people, hosts seven full flight simulators and a training suite for the 787. The 787 brings with it a true paper-free environment. Boeing has done away with the stacks of training manuals usually issued to pilots and technicians, and each student is instead given an array of gadgets including a tablet PC. It's on this laptop that desktop simulation can really be brought to life, and this is where the smartness of Boeing's training comes in.
The loaded software application replicates the aircraft, allowing maintenance trainees to "walk" around and inside a 3-D aircraft, operate the various functions and get a practical feel for the environment. The ultra-realistic setting better allows technicians to virtually diagnose and fix the aircraft rather than rely on theoretical training.
Pilots also use desktop simulation stations in a classroom environment. The instruments on the touch screens are identical to those found in the flightdeck, allowing pilots to get familiar with the 787's instrument panel. The new electronic technology allows users to make notes on the panels with a stylus, store it all on a Boeing-issued USB and review it offline.
To celebrate the launch of the simulator, the media were set loose on the facility. We headed for the flight training device, a static flight management system designed by Thales, that has exactly the same instrument functions as a full flight simulator, albeit a lot cheaper to operate. It was here that I took my place in the right seat and used the touch-screen display to help fly the plane. As we were flying in autopilot mode, aside from touching screens, pulling up the flaps was the only physical effort required on my part. The instrument that impressed me most was the electronic checklist. It double-checks everything the pilots should manually complete and puts a tick next to each one, ensuring virtually no room for pilot error during take-off and descent.
Next we went onto the full-flight simulator. Boeing wouldn't say how much this FFS costs, but it gave a rough estimate of $15-20 million. The 6-degree movement was disabled for media tour. The instrument panel was identical to earlier flight training device, but felt much more realistic being inside a virtual cockpit. The 3-D graphic display is jaw-dropping too with every detail of the London skyline accounted for. On our short flight from Gatwick to Heathrow, we passed Canary Wharf where I gave a virtual wave to my colleagues in Aviation Week's London bureau.
The fully electronic, computer-based facility at Gatwick will dramatically reduce training time. Crews flying 777s can expect to complete training of the 787 in as little as five days. Given the cost of flight training, this is an ideal advantage for airline customers with existing Boeing aircraft in their fleets. Boeing has undoubtedly succeeded in bringing the aircraft to the classroom.
The excellent cargo-carrying capabilities of the A330/A340 boost their revenue-earning power on daily operations with airlines around the world. The proof: Orders for 330/340/350: 2051
Delivered 1,100; In Operation 1,090
As of Oct. 2010.
Thanks to Airbus' trademark 222-inch fuselage cross-section, the front and rear cargo holds on the A330/A340 accept a full range of underfloor cargo containers and pallets – including the LD-3, which is the most common container in the world with more than 200,000 in use worldwide.
With volume for 60-100 per cent more freight than the largest competing aircraft on the market, the A330/A340 Family's unrivaled operating economics mean the aircraft can even operate profitable cargo flights without a single passenger on board, as demonstrated by some airlines that have flown regional overnight freight-only services with the A330 after a full day's passenger service.
Capacity: The A340-300, A340-500 and A340-600 are all able to accommodate markedly more cargo on passenger services than their closest rivals. The A340-600, with a full load of passengers and baggage, can carry up to 19,700 kg.(20 tons, metric) of freight compared to just 11,400 kg. of freight carried by its competitor.
Religious MiseducationIslam is the current target of religious intolerance. But it is not the first religion—and will probably not be the last—to face public opposition based on ignorance, writes Brian Thorn.
More: Why Religious Education Matters
From the Cartoonist Group.
Monday, October 25, 2010; 4:08 PM
Walking may preserve gray matter and stave off memory problems
THE QUESTION Might a regular walking regimen protect against the memory loss that occurs when the brain shrinks in old age?
THIS STUDY involved 299 people who averaged 78 years old and had no cognitive problems at the start of the study. The distances they walked weekly were recorded, MRI scans measured their brains' gray matter (the part of the brain responsible for thinking) and they were given standardized cognitive tests. After 13 years, 116 participants had diagnoses of mild cognitive impairment or dementia. Those who walked six to nine miles a week had greater gray matter volume nine years after the start of the study than those who walked less or not at all; walking farther showed no added benefit. They also were half as likely to have developed memory problems in the 13-year span as were the others.
WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Older people. Walking has been shown to boost a person's energy and mood, benefit muscles and bones, help control weight and lower the risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.
CAVEATS Data on walking distances were based on the participants' reports and were obtained only at the start of the study. The study did not rule out that other factors, such as ill health, might have led to reduced amounts of walking and loss of gray matter volume.
FIND THIS STUDY Oct. 19 issue of Neurology.
LEARN MORE ABOUT memory loss at www.familydoctor.org and www.nia.nih.gov.
- Linda Searing
The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.
Gorbachev: Victory in Afghanistan Is 'Impossible'
Lauren Frayer Contributor
(Oct. 27) -- Mikhail Gorbachev, who pulled Soviet troops out of Afghanistan more than 20 years ago after a bloody decadelong war there, says victory in Afghanistan is "impossible," and that America is risking another Vietnam if it doesn't withdraw its own troops soon.
The Red Army was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989, after being routed by U.S.-backed mujahedeen fighters -- some of whom later joined the Taliban and are NATO's enemies in the war today. Gorbachev recognized that irony in an interview with the BBC.
Valentina Petrova, AP: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said in an interview with the BBC that "Obama is right to pull the troops out" of Afghanistan.
"We had hoped America would abide by the agreement that we reached that Afghanistan should be a neutral, democratic country that would have good relations with its neighbors and with both the U.S. and the USSR," the 79-year-old former Soviet leader said. "The Americans always said they supported this, but at the same time they were training militants -- the same ones who today are terrorizing Afghanistan and more and more of Pakistan."
The complex history of the U.S. in Afghanistan, where it first armed Islamist fighters during the Cold War and is now fighting against them, makes it more difficult for U.S. troops to abandon the country, Gorbachev said. "But what's the alternative -- another Vietnam? Sending in half a million troops? That wouldn't work," he said. "Victory is impossible in Afghanistan. [Barack] Obama is right to pull the troops out. No matter how difficult it will be."
More than 150,000 NATO troops, mostly Americans and Britons, have been fighting in Afghanistan for nine years. The Obama administration has pledged to begin drawing down the number of U.S. troops there next year, though American forces are expected to remain in smaller numbers for several years. Meanwhile, Russian troops may once again be pulled into conflict in Afghanistan, according to new NATO proposals for cooperation with Moscow. The plans, which are being discussed ahead of a NATO summit next month in Lisbon, include Russia's possible contribution of helicopters and crews to train Afghan pilots, and increased cooperation on counternarcotics and border security, The Guardian reported.
Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, dismissed the report today, telling the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, "We've already been in Afghanistan, and we didn't like it much."
Gorbachev's comments to the BBC come amid of flurry of interviews he's given recently, including several in which he's been boldly critical of Russia's current leadership. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who once had Gorbachev's support, has now undermined his country's democracy, the former Soviet leader told The New York Times. "He thinks that democracy stands in his way," Gorbachev said. "I am afraid that they have been saddled with this idea that this unmanageable country needs authoritarianism," Gorbachev continued, referring to both Putin and his close ally, President Dmitry Medvedev. "They think they cannot do without it."
Gorbachev said officials of Putin's United Russia party are too concerned with clinging onto their own power and don't want Russians to participate in their nation's civic life. It's the same frustrated tone he struck in another interview with Moscow-based Snob magazine last week, in which he warned that Russia's leadership must start listening to the people or risk mass protests and disorder. "Our government fears its own citizens," Gorbachev told the magazine, according to Bloomberg News. "When people finally realize that their opinion is ignored and that nothing depends on them, they'll go out on the street. "The most dangerous thing is if the tension building up in society suddenly bursts onto the street with such a force that we'll all be in trouble."
Gorbachev would probably vote for the Democratic Candidates that support Pres. Obama plan to pull the troops out, this year. Republicans objected and criticized him, over and over, for announcing last year we will pull the troops out now. They argued that "we should not tell them ahead of time, what we are going to do."
If Republicans win a majority in Congress, will they make sure we keep our soldiers in Afghanistan?
Do they have the courage to keep, or die, for their convictions?
Or, was it all posturing and daring bravado, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Like the Bard said.
Or, will our soldiers die to give some of them a "tough" look? The candidates, that is, not the buried or wounded soldiers.
Study Finds Street Stops by NYPD Unjustified
Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Residents in an area of Brooklyn's 73rd Precinct were among the most likely in the city to be stopped and frisked by officers.
By AL BAKER and RAY RIVERA
Published: October 26, 2010
Tens of thousands of times over six years, the police stopped and questioned people on New York City streets without the legal justification for doing so, a new study says.
And in hundreds of thousands of more cases, city officers failed to include essential details on required police forms to show whether the stops were justified, according to the study written by Prof. Jeffrey A. Fagan of Columbia Law School. The study was conducted on behalf of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is suing the New York Police Department for what the center says is a widespread pattern of unprovoked and unnecessary stops and racial profiling in the department's stop-question-and-frisk policy. The department denies the charges.
The study examined police data cataloging the 2.8 million times from 2004 through 2009 that officers stopped people on the streets to question and sometimes frisk them, a crime-fighting strategy the department has put more emphasis on over the years.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly has rejected the accusation of racial profiling, and said the racial breakdown of the stops correlated to the racial breakdown of crime suspects. Mr. Kelly has also credited the tactic with helping to cut crime to low levels in the city and with getting guns off the street.
But as the number of stops has jumped — to more than 570,000 last year from 313,000 in 2004 — the practice has come under increasing scrutiny, from lawmakers at City Hall and Albany and from civil libertarians including the constitutional rights center and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Professor Fagan found that in more than 30 percent of stops, officers either lacked the kind of suspicion necessary to make a stop constitutional or did not include sufficient detail on police forms to determine if the stops were legally justified. The study also found that even accounting for crime patterns in the city's various neighborhoods, officers stopped minorities at disproportionate rates. Nearly 150,000 of the stops — 6.7 percent of all cases in which an officer made a stop based on his own discretion, rather than while responding to a radio call in which some information had already been gathered — lacked legal sufficiency, the study concluded.
Stops were considered unjustified if officers provided no primary reason articulating a reasonable suspicion for the stop. For example, if an officer conducted a stop solely because a person was in a high-crime area — without listing a primary reason, like the person "fits a description" of a crime suspect or appeared to be "casing" a store — the stop was considered unjustified.
If an officer cited only "other" as the reason for the stop, with no other details, it was deemed unjustified in the study.
An additional 544,000 cases, or 24 percent of all discretionary stops, did not have enough information on the forms that officers are required to fill out after such encounters.
The United States Supreme Court has held that in order for police officers to stop someone, they must be able to articulate a reasonable suspicion of a crime. To frisk them, they must have a reasonable belief that the person is armed and dangerous.
Darius Charney, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the study crystallized the primary complaints in the lawsuit. "It confirms what we have been saying for the last 10 or 11 years, which is that stop-and-frisk patterns — it is really race, not crime, that is driving this," Mr. Charney said. Mr. Kelly, responding to the professor's study, said on Tuesday, "I think you have to understand this was an advocacy paper." He also noted that Professor Fagan was paid well to produce the report. "We haven't had a chance to look at it," Mr. Kelly added, "but I wouldn't take the position that this is an objective document."
The commissioner acknowledged that the department was paying its own expert, Dennis C. Smith, a professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, to produce its own study in the case. Police officials have pointed to a 2007 study of the practice by the Rand Corporation, which found no racial profiling being done by officers. They said the study, commissioned by the Police Department, showed that stops mirrored crime - that while a large percentage of stops involved blacks, an even larger percentage of violent crimes involved suspects described as black by their victims.
Professor Fagan challenged the Rand report's findings and methodologies because the report used as a benchmark violent crime, which accounts for 10 percent of all criminal cases. And in half of those, his study found, the races of the suspects are not known.
Another of the Fagan study's main areas of focus was where stops were concentrated.
It found that the highest proportion of stops occur within police precincts that cover areas with large numbers of black and Hispanic residents. A chart in the study shows that in the quartile of the city with the highest concentrations of black residents, the police stopped people at a rate two to three times as much per criminal complaint than in the quartile of the precincts with the lowest percentage of black residents.
A report in The New York Times in July found that the highest concentration of stops in the city was in a roughly eight-block area of Brownsville, Brooklyn, that was predominately black. Residents there were stopped at a rate 13 times as much as the city average.
Professor Fagan said he would not speak about the study until he was deposed in the case. He was chosen to do it based on his experience in studying race and policing for three decades, Mr. Charney said. Other findings in the study echoed some familiar ideas about the practice. Force was 14 percent more likely to be used in stops of blacks and 9.3 percent more likely for Hispanics, compared with white suspects.
Guns were not often found (they were discovered in 0.15 percent of all stops). And weapons and other contraband were seized nearly 15 percent less often in stops of blacks than of whites, and nearly 23 percent less often in stops of Hispanics. If stops that resulted in some form of sanction, blacks were 31 percent more likely than whites to be arrested than issued summonses.
Mr. Charney said Professor Fagan could serve as a witness in a potential trial.
BMW finding skilled workers for less
Foreign companies find cheaper wages for better talent in U.S.
By Peter Whoriskey The Washington Post
GREER, S.C. — When German automaker BMW put out the call recently to hire a thousand factory workers here, the people who responded reflected the upheaval occurring in the U.S. economy. Among the applicants: a former manager of a major distribution center for Target; a consultant who oversaw construction projects in four Western states, and a supervisor at a plastics recycling firm. Some held college degrees and resumes in other fields where they made more money. But they're all in the factory now making $15 an hour — about half of what the typical German autoworker makes. The trade debate in the United States usually focuses on the jobs lost to factories in the developing world. But the recession has forced countless skilled workers in this country to consider jobs they would have rejected in the past. They now offer foreign manufacturers a resource that was far less common just a few years ago: cheaper wages for better talent. "We are a low-wage country compared to Germany," said Kristin Dziczek, director of Labor and Industry Group at the Center for Automotive Research. "And that helps put jobs here." But the price of having a more globally competitive workforce means more in America could fall well short of the middle-class living standards that manufacturing workers once could expect. Wages adjusted for inflation have declined for these workers since 2003.
At GM and Chrysler, new hires make $14 an hour, or half the amount that existing workers take home. Likewise, at the BMW plant, which is not unionized, new workers earn a little more than half of what those hired earlier make. Some still seemed stunned by their change of circumstances. But they are almost uniformly grateful for the opportunity. "It's the best place I've ever worked in my whole life, I can honestly say that," said Debra Harrison, 50, who was laid off at an Electrolux factory 2½ years ago and began at BMW in July.
While U.S. manufacturing employment has been in a decades-long slide, the BMW campus here has grown in the 16 years since opening, and is viewed by some as a model of what manufacturers — American or not — might achieve.
It employs 7,000 and has generated thousands of additional jobs in the region at auto parts shops and suppliers. Moreover, more than 70 percent of the vehicles produced at the factories here are exported, and an Obama administration commerce official who visited the campus last week, Rick Wade, called the plant an "example" of what is possible to move toward the president's goal of doubling exports in five years.
"We live in a global economy, and this is an example of what can be a win-win," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who last week attended the opening of a new 1.2 million square-foot facility. Because of BMW's success in this Greenville suburb, "Southern politicians are tripping over themselves to attract foreign manufacturers." Indeed, among the other large private employers in the area are Michelin, the French tire maker and Robert Bosch, another German manufacturer.
The wage differential between German and U.S. workers is just one advantage BMW finds here. The primary reason for the factory, executives emphasized, is that the United States is the automaker's largest foreign market. Locating here, among other things, helps moderate the effects of currency fluctuations between the two countries.
"We needed a bigger production capacity `here~ to balance production and sales in the U.S.," BMW Group Chairman Norbert Reithofer said at the opening. "And for me that is the most important point." New hires at the plant are not directly employed by BMW, but come through a contractor, though the automaker says some of the new workers might eventually be hired by BMW and work their way up to the higher wage. BMW declined to say what their factory workers in Germany make, explaining in part that comparisons are difficult to make because of benefits packages and differing job categories. The United States is the automaker's biggest foreign market.
This is the exact example of the future. We can do what BMW is doing and upgrade the skills of Low Income Workers or we can wait for the Recession to end, as if that was a real choice.
A definition of insanity is to keep repeating the same actions and expect difference results.
Have we waited long enough for the Recession to end... by itself? Like waiting for a candle to end and expect the sun to come out, as soon as the candle burns out?
Accelerated Southwest Warming & Adaptation
Recent warming in the southwestern United States has been among the most rapid in the nation, according to a recent report from United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). The report lists several impacts for the Southwest region, including increasing temperature, drought, wildfire, and invasive species, which are already accelerating the transformation of the landscape.
One of the groups working on assessing these impacts at a local level is the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) in Taos, New Mexico. Last year, through the recommendation of TCP Presenter Bill Brown, RMYC enrolled in Climate Solutions University (CSU). This innovative online program, which includes The Climate Project as a partner, trains rural forest and water-dependent communities about climate adaptation. To receive additional resources from Climate Solutions University, visit www.mfpp.org/csu.
Extreme Drought May Affect Much of World in Just 30 Years
According to a new analysis, climate change will likely make drought more widespread and severe over the next 30 years. Droughts are temporary dry periods caused by below-normal rain or snowfall. They are often accompanied by unusually high temperatures, and can be made worse by local wind patterns, changes in land use and other factors. Drought is one of the most disruptive types of extreme weather, affecting agriculture, water availability, tourism and wildlife.
National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Aiguo Dai used an ensemble of 22 climate models and a review of previous studies to update global drought projections. Dai found a long-term drying trend over much of the world's surface from 1900 to 2008, which was largely driven by increases in temperature. Models relying on the best available emission scenarios project increased drying in just the next 30 years, with the worst impacts in the western U.S., Central America, western South America, much of Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and southern Australia. "If the projections in this study come even close to being realized," Dai said, "the consequences for society worldwide will be enormous." The study was published in the October 19, 2010 Early View of WIREs Climate Change.
2010 Sea Ice Extent Third-Lowest on Record
Due to higher-than-normal sea surface temperatures and a series of storm fronts, September 2010 saw the third lowest extent of Arctic sea ice since satellite observations began in 1979. Since that time, sea ice extent has declined about 11% per decade.
The remaining ice was younger than in most previous years. By the end of summer 2010, less than 60,000 square kilometers (23,000 square miles) of old ice (5 years or older) remained, compared to 2 million square kilometers (722,000 square miles) during the 1980s.
"All indications are that sea ice will continue to decline over the next several decades," said Mark Serreze, Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. "We are still looking at a seasonally ice-free Arctic in 20 to 30 years."
Tianjin Talks Take Small Step Closer to Deal in Cancun
From October 4-9, over 2,300 participants — including government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions — from more than 176 countries met in Tianjin, China for the final negotiating session before COP 16 in Cancun. (The COPs, or "Conferences of the Parties," are annual meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The goal of the Tianjin meeting was to prepare for COP 16 by identifying issues of convergence and clarifying what can be accomplished in Cancun.
During the weeklong negotiations, the delegates discussed a package of decisions they will need to finalize in Cancun. Components include a long-term shared vision, an adaptation framework, a technology transfer mechanism, mitigation efforts, key operational elements of climate finance (such as a new climate fund) and capacity building.
At the close of the talks, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres commented on the progress made: "This week has got us closer to a structured set of decisions that can be agreed [to] in Cancun. Governments addressed what is doable in Cancun, and what may have to be left to later."
While disagreement persists on politically charged issues such as transparency, accountability and the future of the Kyoto Protocol, parties are aiming for a balanced package of decisions that delivers results in the short-term as well as sets the framework for long-term commitments. "There is no magic bullet," Christiana Figueres said earlier this year, "[but] it is in everyone's ultimate interest to accelerate action in order to minimize negative impacts on all."
COP 16 will take place in Cancun, Mexico, November 29-December 10, 2010.
Read more about the Tianjin climate talks:
"At Tianjin climate gathering, governments come closer to defining what can be achieved at Cancun UN Climate Change Conference"
"Countries agree on next steps for upcoming UN climate change negotiations"
"Summary of Tianjin Climate Change Talks"
Is Climate Change Accelerating the Global Water Cycle?
Two new studies provide evidence that climate change is intensifying the global water cycle, with implications for food and water availability and the risk of extreme weather.
For the first study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS), scientists from the U.S. and India analyzed the discharge of freshwater from continents to the ocean over a 13-year period. Although the amount of discharge varied significantly on an annual basis, the scientists found that discharge increased 1.5% per year (540 km3, or 19 trillion cubic feet per year) from 1994-2006. The analysis also suggested that increased ocean evaporation — related to a rise in sea surface temperature — drove the discharge trend.
"In general, more water is good," said co-author James Famiglietti. "But here's the problem: Not everybody is getting more rainfall, and those who are may not need it. What we're seeing is exactly what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted."
The second study, published in Nature, focused on evapotranspiration (the movement of water from soils and plants to the atmosphere). Like freshwater discharge, worldwide evapotranspiration rates significantly increased from 1982-1997. Since 1998, however, evapotranspiration has stayed steady or potentially decreased. The increase appears to have been halted by a lack of soil water, particularly in Africa and Australia. You can read the PNAS paper, which was published September 29. The abstract of the Nature paper, published online on October 10.
Both teams of scientists warn that the trends, as well as the proposed reasons for those trends, should be "interpreted with caution" because they were based on relatively short-term data sets.
"We didn't expect to see this shift in evapotranspiration over such a large area of the Southern Hemisphere," said co-author Beverly Law. If the soil water deficit is indeed related to human-made climate change, the world may experience reduced plant productivity and accelerated warming of the land surface as carbon emissions continue to climb.
Carbon Dioxide is Earth's Thermostat
Two studies published this month in Science and Geophysical Research Letters find that, although CO2 is a relatively small component of our atmosphere, it acts like a thermostat by maintaining earth's temperature . The finding clarifies the relationship between CO2 and other greenhouse gases and confirms the contribution of CO2 to climate change.
Scientists from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) used a model based on well-understood physical processes to assess the relative contribution of greenhouse gases and other "absorbers" (e.g., black carbon) to the greenhouse effect. Their results suggest water vapor and clouds account for about 75% of the greenhouse effect, whereas CO2 (from all sources) accounts for about 20%.
The team then examined whether doubling the CO2 in the atmosphere from 1980 levels would change its relative importance. Surprisingly, the answer was no. The model suggested that the magnitude of the greenhouse effect changes when more CO2 is added to the atmosphere, but the relative contribution of each gas remains the same.
A second team from GISS found that water vapor and clouds dominate the greenhouse effect because they amplify the warmth generated by CO2. But because water vapor and clouds are so sensitive to changes in temperature, they are also dependent on that CO2-driven warmth. As Andrew Lacis, the lead author on one of the studies puts it, CO2 and some of the other greenhouse gases "provide the temperature environment that is necessary for water vapor and cloud feedback effects to operate," making CO2 the "thermostat" of earth's climate.
"Humans are at a difficult crossroad," writes Lacis. "Carbon dioxide is the lifeblood of civilization as we know it. It is also the direct cause fueling an impending climate disaster. There is no viable alternative to counteract global warming except through direct human effort to reduce the atmospheric CO2 level."
Think Again: Collapsing Infrastructure? Who Knew?
SOURCE: AP/Paul Sancya
Crews clean up oil from a ruptured pipeline where Talmadge Creek meets the Kalamazoo River in Marshall Township, MI, July 30, 2010. Politics notwithstanding, America's infrastructure is approaching a crisis point.
Though it somehow felt all but forgotten by Thursday, this past Monday morning designated beltway oracle Mike Allen informed the wired political world that the idea "driving the day" would be President Barack Obama's 10:50 a.m. Rose Garden statement on infrastructure investment, designed "to build support for the $50 billion `roads, railways and runways' proposal he unveiled on Labor Day."
Joining the president were Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; a bevy of mayors; Norman Mineta, a Democrat and George W. Bush's transportation secretary; and Samuel Skinner, a Republican and George H.W. Bush's transportation secretary. The president discussed a new report on infrastructure investment from the Department of the Treasury with the Council of Economic Advisers. The report finds that 80 percent of the jobs directly created by investing in transportation infrastructure would be in the construction, manufacturing, and retail trade sectors. It also finds that infrastructure investments have high bang for the buck because construction costs are low due to underutilized resources.
It should surprise no one to see that most in the mainstream media saw fit to treat the issue as an almost purely political skirmish—cast exclusively in the narrative over the election-year fight over jobs. And the politicians played along.
According to The Wall Street Journal, "Obama has proposed the initiative as a way to create more jobs, but Republicans have opposed further infrastructure spending at a time of tight state and federal budgets." Republicans have already signaled they will fight the plan. "If we've learned anything from the past 18 months, it's that we can't spend our way to prosperity," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) said in September.
Infrastructure spending had been in the news the previous week, briefly. Paul Krugmanpointed out that, "Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, canceled America's most important current public works project, the long-planned and much-needed second rail tunnel under the Hudson River" despite the fact that less than a third of its cost was to be borne by New Jersey. (The rest would come, in roughly equal amounts, from the independent Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and from the federal government.)
The Nobel laureate economist and pundit termed Christie's move "a destructive and incredibly foolish decision on multiple levels." This view on infrastructure investment is supported by someone with whom Krugman rarely agrees: the economist and out-going top Obama economic adviser Lawrence Summers. "You run a deficit both when you borrow money and when you defer maintenance that needs to be done," he told The Washington Post's Ezra Klein. "Either way, you're imposing a cost on future generations."
It's not as if we can't afford it. After all, both 2009 and 2010 have turned out to be record years on Wall Street. The three dozen top New York banks, investment banks, hedge funds, money-management firms, and securities exchanges prepared to pay out bonuses calculated by the Wall Street Journal at $139 billion and $144 billion respectively.
The problem is that as a society, we aren't willing to pay for it. The politics notwithstanding, clearly America's infrastructure is approaching a crisis point. A New York Times report last August (cited by Glenn Greenwald) points out:
Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.
Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a Dark Age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters.
And a July Wall Street Journal report notes that "paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue."
Much of our physical infrastructure has corroded to the point of near collapse (or is collapsing). To pick one just example: On July 26, 2010, an oil pipeline burst outside of Battle Creek, Michigan, releasing more than a million gallons of oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River. And an investigation by The Washington Independent found that over 70 percent of America's natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines are now over 30 years old. This should surprise no one, alas.[Been to San Bruno lately? BayPointMike]
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, "More than 26%, or one in four, of the nation's bridges are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete," a problem that would likely cost roughly $17 billion per year to repair, or almost twice what has been budgeted. One-third of America's major roads are, the engineers tell us, "in poor or mediocre condition and 45 percent of major urban highways are congested."
Our drinking water systems "face an annual shortfall of at least $11 billion to replace aging facilities." Inland waterways, wastewater systems, and levees all rate a "D" or lower on the society's infrastructure report card.
What's more, this neglect at the federal level is matched by an equal lack of interest in these topics by the mainstream media. A valuable study by Jodi Enda in the American Journalism Review revealed an appalling apathy with regard to these issues on the part of virtually every major news organization. She noted, in relation to the oil spill, that before the spill occurred not a single editor or producer thought to call a reporter and say, "Hey, why not take a look at what's up over at the Minerals Management Service?"
At the time virtually nothing had been recently written about the Minerals Management Service save its now infamous four-year sex scandal. According to MMS spokesman Nicholas Pardi, "there's not a single reporter in the country who covers its activities full time."
The result of this malign neglect is that post-Bush America is one disaster after another waiting to happen, all of which—when they do—will be laid at the feet of the current president regardless of whether addressing them is consistent with his policy agenda. We shouldn't be surprised the next time it happens.
But we will be.
Eric Alterman is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College. He is also a Nation columnist and a professor of journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His most recent book is, Why We're Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Most Important Ideals. His "Altercation" blog appears sporadically here and he is a regular contributor to The Daily Beast.
It's morning in India and America should pay attention
NEW DELHI — This week's award for not knowing what world you're living in surely goes to the French high school and col lege students who blockaded their campuses, and snarled rail traffic, in a nationwide strike against the French government's decision to raise its pension retirement age from 60 to 62. If those students under stood the hypercompetitive and economically integrated world they were living in to day, they would have taken to the streets to demand smaller classes, better teaching, more opportunities for entrepreneurship and more foreign private investment in France — so they could have the sorts of good private sector jobs that would enable them to finance retirement at age 62. France already discovered that a 35-hour workweek was impossible in a world where Indian engineers were trying to work a 35-hour day — and so, too, are pension levels not sustained by a vibrant private sector.
What is most striking to me being in India this week, though, is how many Indians, young and old, expressed their concerns that America also seems at times to be running away from the world it invented and that India is adopting. With President Barack Obama scheduled to come here next week, at a time when more than a few U.S. politicians are loudly denouncing immigration re forms, free trade expansion and outsourcing, more than a few Indian business leaders want to ask the president: "What's up with that?"
Didn't America export to the world all the technologies and free-market dogmas that created this increasingly flat, global economic playing field — and now you're turning against them? "It is the Silicon Valley revolution which enabled the massive rise in tradable services and the U.S.-built telec-ommunication networks that allowed creation of the virtual office," Nayan Chanda, the edi tor of YaleGlobal Online, wrote in the Indian magazine Business world this week. "But the U.S. seems sadly unprepared to take advantage of the revolution it has spawned. The country's worn-out infrastructure, failing education system and lack of political consensus have prevented it from rid ing a new wave to prosperity." Ouch.
Saurabh Srivastava, co-founder of the National Association of Software and Service Companies in India, explained that for the first 40 years of Indian indepen dence, entrepreneurs here were looked down upon. India had lost confidence in its ability to compete, so it opted for protectionism.
But when the '90s rolled around, and India's government was almost bankrupt, India's technology industry was able to get the govern ment to open up the economy, in part by citing the example of America and Silicon Valley. India has flourished ever since. "America," said Srivastava, "was the one who said to us: `You have to go for meritocracy. You don't have to produce everything yourselves. Go for free trade and open markets.' This has been the American national anthem, and we pushed our government to tune in to it. And just when they're beginning to learn how to hum it, you're changing the anthem? Our industry was the one pushing our govern ment to open our markets for American imports, 100 percent foreign ownership of companies and tough copy right laws when it wasn't fashionable." If America turns away from these values, he added, the socialist/protectionists among India's bureaucrats will use it to slow down any further opening of the Indian markets to U.S. exporters.
It looks, said Srivastava, as if "what is happening in America is a loss of self confidence. We don't want America to lose self-confi dence. Who else is there to take over America's moral leadership? American's lead ership was never because you had more arms. It was because of ideas, imagina tion, and meritocracy." If America turns away from its core values, he added, "there is nobody else to take that leadership. Do we want China as the world's moral leader? No. We desperately want America to succeed." This isn't just so Ameri can values triumph. With a rising China on one side and a crumbling Pakistan on the other, India's newfound friendship with America has taken on strategic impor-tance. "It is very worrying to live in a world that no longer has the balance of power we've had for 60 years," said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. "That is why everyone is con cerned about America."
India and America are both democracies, a top Indian official explained to me, but emotionally they are now ships passing in the night. Because today the poorest Indian maid believes that if she can just save a few dollars to get her kid English lessons, that kid will have a better life than she does. So she is an optimist. "But the guy in Kan sas," he added, "who today is enjoying a better life than that maid, is worried that he can't pass it on to his kids. So he's a pessimist."
Yes, when America lapses into a bad mood, everyone notices. After asking for an explanation of the tea party's politics, Gupta remarked: "We have moved away from a politics of grievance to a politics of aspiration. Where is the American dream? Where is the optimism?"
Thomas Friedman is a syndicated columnist who writes for the New York Times.
Oakland Tribune editorial:
Sending mixed local election messages
Posted: 11/05/2010 12:01:00 AM PDT
AS WE survey the East Bay election results, we see an electorate less likely to spend money than in the past and telling elected officials they need to be more respectful of voters.
To be sure, with about 160 East Bay races and ballot measures, it's hard to draw universal conclusions. In Alameda County, with the exception of Oakland, voters were willing to approve taxes and bond measures. But in Contra Costa, it was a very mixed bag, with a discerning electorate.
Among the lessons voters sent to elected officials:
Talk to us first. In an advisory vote, Richmond voters soundly rejected plans for an urban casino. For six years, the City Council has been pursuing a path aimed at turning the city, West Contra Costa and, indeed, the Bay Area into a gambling center. The casino would be bigger than two football fields with more slot machines than the largest gaming facility in Nevada. Perhaps voters should have been consulted earlier. Perhaps that explains why three of the four candidates elected to the City Council on Tuesday are casino opponents. The voters have spoken. It's time to kill this idea.
Share the pain. Pleasant Hill voters rejected a sixfold increase in the city's utility tax. The city could have saved about the same amount of money by requiring city employees to pay their share of retirement costs. Currently the workers pay nothing. It's not surprising that Jack Weir, the City Council candidate who proposed that the employees kick in a share, received the most votes.
Make the tough decisions. Walnut Creek City Council members hung tough in recent negotiations with their police managers, insisting that they start making contributions to their pensions. When the rank-and-file cops got wind, they feared they were next and launched a drive to unseat Cindy Silva, the only incumbent seeking re-election this year. Voters figured it out and solidly supported her at the polls.
Stop messing with us. San Ramon voters had been clear before: They wanted development contained within reasonable voter-approved growth boundaries. But city leaders ignored those wishes by placing a measure on Tuesday's ballot to open up to development about 3.5 square miles on the east and west sides of the city. That's an area about 19 percent the size of all the land within the current city limits. Seventy-two percent of voters said no. We wonder whether the council finally gets the message.
We expect ethical behavior. In Hercules, nepotism and conflicts of interest have permeated city government. The two incumbents on the ballot Tuesday didn't see a problem with using public money for no-bid contracts and insider mortgage loan deals. Fortunately, the two challengers did, and that's why they were elected. The city manager at the center of the storm has just taken medical leave. He should be fired, as should the city attorney who has publicly excused this behavior.
Enough already. Residents of the West Contra Costa Unified School District pay to retire bonds for one of the largest school construction projects in the state. They also pay two separate parcel taxes to help fund school operations. Five months after voters granted the district's request to issue more bonds, they were asked on Tuesday to support yet another parcel tax. Voters finally drew the line. District officials must find a way to make do.
Stop fighting among yourselves. Oakland residents already pay huge extra property taxes to help fund schools and the city. It was hardly surprising that they overwhelmingly rejected an additional $360 annual tax to help the city pay for police, and narrowly defeated a $195-a-year additional tax for schools. The latter tax might have passed if city and school officials had coordinated, recognized that residents have financial limits and only put up the school measure. However, Oakland did receive a bit of a reprieve when voters removed staffing requirement limits on $20 million worth of funds in a previous measure, even through the funds had been administered poorly.
----------------------------------BayPointMike wrote: It is worth repeating:
Talk to us first.
In an advisory vote, Richmond voters soundly rejected plans for an urban casino. For six years, the City Council has been pursuing a path aimed at turning the city, West Contra Costa and, indeed, the Bay Area into a gambling center. The casino would be bigger than two football fields with more slot machines than the largest gaming facility in Nevada.
Perhaps voters should have been consulted earlier.
Perhaps that explains why three of the four candidates elected to the City Council on Tuesday are casino opponents.
The voters have spoken. It's time to kill this idea.
Schwartz: Get those AF boots off the ground
By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Mar 1, 2010 19:17:02 EST
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz wants lawmakers to give more money to the Army and Marine Corps so airmen don't have to fill in for soldiers and Marines in the combat zones. Schwartz lobbied for his fellow service chiefs at a Feb. 23 congressional hearing on the Air Force's $170.8 billion 2011 budget request. About 4,700 airmen are in Iraq or Afghanistan doing work for the Army and Marine Corps because their ranks have been stretched so thin in nine years of war.
Schwartz often holds up the Joint Expeditionary Taskings as proof of his service's contributions but made clear to the House Armed Services Committee that many warfighting roles on the ground belong to the other services. "The key thing for us is that as the Army grows its pool to its final end state, and likewise the Marines, we need to make sure that this does not become a habit. That is, they establish their combat support and combat service support in greater number, that that relieves the Air Force and the Navy of these augmentation taskings," Schwartz said.
During the three-hour hearing, Schwartz and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley also answered questions from committee members. Among the topics:
JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER
Committee members devoted a chunk of time to discussing the F-35, which is a year behind schedule. Independent reviews show the aircraft, which will make up 95 percent of the Air Force's fighter fleet in 20 years, have flown only 10 percent of the test flights scheduled for 2009. The Air Force wants to buy 23 more F-35s in fiscal 2011, which starts Oct. 1. "It seems like every year the program is slipping and slipping," committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., told the Air Force's top two leaders.
Donley acknowledged the problems but urged committee members to keep supporting the Pentagon's largest weapons systems acquisition. "We're all about getting this program on track as quickly as possible," Donley said. "There is no diminution of the importance of this program or the emphasis that we're putting on its success going forward."
Schwartz and Donley also explained that they don't support an alternative F-35 engine because of the cost, estimated at $2.5 billion to $2.9 billion. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been vocal in his opposition to an alternative engine.
Congressmen on both sides of the aisle argued an alternative engine, made by General Electric, would force Pratt & Whitney, the primary engine maker, to keep down its cost and would be an insurance policy if engine problems arise. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., drove home the point to Schwartz by using the F-16 as an example of an aircraft program that benefited from an alternative engine. "The engine competitions for F-16 saved money, improved engine performance, reliability and contractor responsiveness. …. Why wouldn't a similar program be applicable to the F-35?" Wilson asked.
Schwartz countered, citing the single-engine F-22 and F-18EF. Donley explained the benefits did not out weigh the cost in terms of both dollars and manpower. "It just looks too cloudy to us," he said.
As the Pentagon struggles to pay for both new planes and more people, Schwartz emphasized that his top priority is "human capital."
"If I lose sleep at night, it's concern over our ability to recruit and retain the kind of people that America needs to do this work," he said.
The AirBorne Laser, a Boeing 747 mounted with a chemical laser, impressed committee members with its first successful shootdown of a boosting missile target.
The lawmakers wanted to know what Donley and Schwartz thought of the Feb. 12 test, conducted by Boeing and Missile Defense Agency.
Gates cut the program from the Air Force's fiscal 2010 budget, though the service still has money to pursue the research of directed energy laser weapons.
The leaders were noncommittal at best. Schwartz described the shootdown as "a magnificent technical achievement" but told the lawmakers that the Airborne Laser still "does not reflect something that is operationally viable."
When asked by Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, about the future of directed energy lasers, Schwartz voted for solid-state — not chemical — lasers.
"That's the queen of the realm, sir," Schwartz said.
It looks like legislators know more about engineering design, why is it that this is hard to believe? How do they know the single jet F-35 needs a second engine? Do they have some technical insight on this matter -is it contributions to our elected leaders? Did they learn nothing from this election?
Just address an email to UnboundedEducation@yahoogroups.com
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