November 9, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 4:38 PM


Renewable electricity will hit a record this year and knock off coal's 50-year reign by 2025: IEA (Rachel Koning Beals, 11/10/20, Market Watch)

The IEA report published Tuesday said roughly 90% of new electricity generation in 2020 will be renewable, with just 10% powered by gas and coal. The trend puts green electricity on track to become the largest power source in 2025, displacing coal, which has dominated globally for the past 50 years. By 2025, renewables are expected to supply one-third of the world's electricity.

Posted by orrinj at 11:15 AM


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Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Deceptive Deregulation: The Trump Administration's claims about its deregulatory accomplishments do not withstand scrutiny. (Cary Coglianese, Natasha Sarin, and Stuart Shapiro, 11/02/20, Regulation Review)

President Donald J. Trump and his supporters like to point to the positive economic trends the United States experienced prior to the COVID pandemic. They argue that these positive conditions stemmed from the President's policies, especially his emphasis on deregulation. But what has the Trump Administration really accomplished when it comes to regulation?

The answer is much less than the Administration has claimed--and much less than probably most members of the public would surmise. In a report released today, we attempt to match up the claims the Administration has made about its deregulatory accomplishments with what the evidence actually shows. Drawing in part on new data we compiled from over the last four years, we find that virtually every major claim the Trump Administration has made about deregulation is either wrong or exaggerated. The reality is that the Trump Administration has done less deregulating than regulating, and its deregulatory actions have not achieved any demonstrable boost to the economy.

We can all understand the need of reluctant Trumpers to lie to themselves about the upside of his presidency, but the reality is there was none. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


What happens when psychedelics make you see GodDrugs like 'shrooms don't just make people hallucinate. They can also help ease anxiety, depression, and other woes--but the effects may be even better when trips get spiritual. (Sarah Scoles, 11/09/20, Popular Science)

In 2010, almost 20 years into his battle with cancer, Martin read about a strange research program. Participants wouldn't take a magic pill that might shrink their tumors in a novel way. No. They'd be getting drug-drugs: Brain scientists wanted to see how hallucinogens that alter thinking patterns and sensory perceptions might affect afflicted people's mental health. "I had always been interested in psychedelics but never had taken any," says Martin, a retired clinical psychologist. "I was terrified that I would mess up."

With someone else guiding him, though, the experience seemed less risky. Those someones--scientists in the psychiatry department of Johns Hopkins University--are part of the burgeoning field of psychedelic studies. Recently invigorated by a more permissive regulatory environment, the sector investigates if, how, and why reality-bending substances might help human brains. So far, research from all over the world suggests the drugs can break old mental patterns and help fight addiction, alleviate depression, shrink existential fears, and improve relationships.

Additionally, investigators have been surprised by another consistent finding: When people have spiritual experiences while tripping, they're even more likely to kick bad habits and be happier or more satisfied with their lives in the long term. The mysterious encounters take many forms. Sometimes people feel they're in the presence of God, or of a more nebulous entity like Ultimate Reality--a higher power that reveals the truth of the universe--or they just feel a novel connectedness to everything from now back to the big bang and beyond. Because of the link between the mystical and the medical, scientists like those at Johns Hopkins are probing why people have transcendent tendencies at all, how that might help our brains, and what it means for how we perceive the world.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Forget Tesla, Volvo will have electric trucks ready in two years (Matthew Beedham, 11/09/20, Next Web)

As electric passenger cars (EVs) become an increasingly common sight on our roads, there's one classification of vehicle that is still firmly attached to fossil fuels: trucks. I don't mean SUV-type trucks, I mean the real deal: semi-articulated trucks, haulage trucks, 18-wheelers, and so on.

However, that looks like it will start to change for real over the next few years, as companies start to produce electrically powered large-scale commercial vehicles.

Last week, Swedish automaker Volvo Trucks announced that it will start taking orders in Europe for its range of electric heavy-duty work vehicles next year, Business Insider reports. The company says the vehicles will go into production in 2022.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Peter Navarro's No-Good Economic Nationalism Navarro is the missing link between the democratic socialists on the left and the economic nationalists on the right. (ERIC BOEHM, DECEMBER 2020, reason)

By anointing Navarro as, effectively, the czar of a new "economic nationalism" project that disdains free trade and delivers corporate handouts to favored firms, the Trump administration--and, by extension, the GOP--hasn't found a new formula for winning elections or countering China. Instead, Republicans have embraced a warmed-over variant of what they once would have recognized and denounced as the losing economic policies of the political left.

"I don't know why so many people in America hate Hillary Clinton; I found her to be one of the most gracious, intelligent, perceptive, and, yes, classy women I have ever met," wrote Navarro--yes, the same Peter Navarro--in 1999's San Diego Confidential. The book is a thoroughly egotistical exercise: a first-person, beat-by-beat account of Navarro's failed 1996 bid for a seat in Congress. From the perspective of 21 years later, it is also an intriguing historical artifact that is equal parts jarring and illuminating.

That's particularly true whenever the Clintons enter the picture. In the book, Navarro lavishes praise on the then-first lady, who flew to San Diego to host a Navarro rally less than two weeks before the election. He describes the event as "a heavenly experience," even including a copy of the next day's front-page story in The San Diego Union-Tribune, which features a picture of Navarro and Hillary standing side-by-side onstage. When it comes to then-President Bill Clinton, Navarro takes a sharper tone: He criticizes Clinton for working with then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and selling out the left wing of the Democratic Party in the process--a wing with which the Navarro of 1999 clearly identifies.

Indeed, San Diego Confidential is chock full of anecdotes that seem out of place for someone who would eventually rise to power in a Republican White House. Navarro recalls marching in a pride parade in San Diego and makes an appeal for Democrats to recognize gay rights as a political strategy. He describes how excited he was to have Ed Asner--a famously left-wing actor who helped organize a Screen Actors Guild strike in 1980 to protest President Ronald Reagan's foreign policy--record a "powerful and perfect" campaign ad on Navarro's behalf. "I do not trust the Republican Party to do anything but trash the environment under the phony banner of economic progress," he writes.

Joe Matthews, a longtime California political commentator, recently wrote in wonderment that a guy who seemed like "San Diego's Bernie Sanders in the 1990s and 2000s"--though without the electoral success Sanders has enjoyed--could morph into a leading figure in a Republican presidential administration. The explanation, according to Matthews, offers "a lesson about what kinds of people prosper when a nation's civic conversation becomes dominated by anger and accusation."

Navarro was practicing a sort of quasi-populism built around resentment and self-aggrandizement long before Donald Trump appeared on the political scene. As different as the Trump of today and the Navarro of the 1990s might appear at first blush, there is an undeniable similarity that may help explain why the two have been able to work side-by-side for so long in an administration where top advisers have tended to come and go quickly.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Virgin Hyperloop pod transport tests first passenger journey (Zoe Kleinman, 11/09/20, BBC)

In the trial, two passengers - both company staff - travelled the length of a 500m test track in 15 seconds, reaching 107mph (172km/h).

However, this is a fraction of Virgin's ambitions for travel speeds of more than 1,000km/h.

Virgin Hyperloop is not the only firm developing the concept but nobody has carried passengers before.

Sara Luchian, director of customer experience, was one of the two on board and described the experience as "exhilarating both psychologically and physically" to the BBC shortly after the event.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Progressives made Trump's defeat possible -- now it's time to challenge Joe Biden (NORMAN SOLOMON, NOVEMBER 9, 2020, Common Dreams)

The defeat of Donald Trump would not have been possible without the grassroots activism and hard work of countless progressives. Now, on vital issues -- climate, health care, income inequality, militarism, the prison-industrial complex, corporate power and so much more -- it's time to engage with the battle that must happen inside the Democratic Party.

Joe Biden's margin is roughly as wide over Democratic House candidates as it is over Donald.  This election repudiated the Left/Right.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Truth and De-Trumpification (JAN-WERNER MUELLER, 11/05/20, Project Syndicate)

[T]here is no reason, in principle, why a political leader cannot be properly punished for a crime he has committed. Many leaders have been, and some have even returned to political life. Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was forced to perform community service following his conviction on charges of tax fraud (his age brought a more lenient sentence). Today, he is sitting in the European Parliament, which makes it hard for anyone to claim that liberal judges simply wanted to silence the Cavaliere. But the point of enforcing the law was to send a clear signal that Berlusconi's strategy of entering politics in order to gain immunity and distract from his shady business dealings would not become a precedent.

Then there is the question of Trump's actual record in office. One can find plenty of deeply objectionable policies, but it would be a mistake to abandon what President Thomas Jefferson, upon succeeding his archrival John Adams in 1801, called "the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated, where reason is left free to combat it."

The same cannot be said for the corruption and systematic cruelty that the Trump administration has exhibited in its response to the COVID-19 crisis, and in separating children from their parents at the border. As the Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet has suggested, a commission of inquiry should be established to investigate policies and acts that went beyond incompetence into the realm of politically motivated malevolence. It is critical that we establish a proper record of these events, perhaps by offering leniency in exchange for candid accounts. The latter should help thinking about structural reforms, making at least quid pro quo corruption and blatant human-rights abuses less likely. 

Finally, Trump has broken plenty of informal presidential norms, from the relatively trivial - calling people names on Twitter - to the serious: hiding his tax returns. As many US jurists have argued, a prudent response would be to establish a separate commission to study the structural vulnerabilities of the presidency. Such an investigation may find that many informal norms - from financial transparency to relations with the Department of Justice - need to be codified. There would be nothing vengeful about this particular approach. After Watergate, Congress enacted a series of important ethics laws, which both parties tended to accept.