November 13, 2022

Posted by orrinj at 7:23 PM


Posted by orrinj at 3:49 PM

60-40 NATION:

Posted by orrinj at 3:15 PM


Molten salt reactors could save nuclear power (Kristin Houser, 11/13/22, Big Think)

In the 1950s, U.S. researchers started exploring the concept of molten salt reactors, which use molten salt -- salt that's solid at room temperature, but liquid at high temperatures -- in place of water as the material transferring the heat and keeping the fuel at a stable temperature.

The type of salt proposed for these reactors remains liquid at temperatures as high as 2,500° F -- without any pressurization. That higher temperature would increase the reactor's efficiency and generate more electricity, while the lack of pressurization would reduce the risk of a leak.

The nuclear fuel can't melt if it's already liquid.

Instead of solid fuel rods, separate from the water that transports the heat, some molten salt reactor designs call for the fuel to be dissolved in the molten salt itself.

This eliminates the risk of a meltdown -- the fuel can't melt if it's already liquid -- and if there was a leak, any salt and fuel that escaped would rapidly solidify into rock as it cooled. This would be easier to clean up than the radioactive water or steam released if a pressurized water reactor leaks.

Molten salt reactor designs also include a safety feature called a "freeze valve" or "freeze plug." This plug separates the molten salt mixture above from a holding tank below it. If the mixture ever gets too hot, the valve melts, and the molten salt falls into the tank under the pull of gravity -- stopping a disaster even if all the backup systems failed.

molten salt reactor
An example of solid (left) and molten (right) salt. (Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)
While we don't know for sure what it would cost to build a molten salt reactor, analysts expect that construction would be cheaper than standard water reactors since the design includes fewer parts.

The reactors may also be more reliable -- today's reactors typically have to go offline every 18-24 months for refueling, but the spent fuel dissolved in molten salt could potentially be processed out and new fuel added while the reactor was operational.

Posted by orrinj at 3:11 PM


Did Trump hurt Republicans in the 2022 elections? The numbers point to yes. (Sahil Kapur, 11/13/22, NBC News)

Nationally, 32% of voters in 2022 said their vote was "to oppose Joe Biden." But 28% said their vote was "to oppose Donald Trump," even though Trump was out of office. That suggests Trump's continued dominance over the GOP made the 2022 election, in the minds of voters, almost as much about a defeated former president as it was about the current president and party in power.

"It was a Trump problem," a Republican operative involved in the 2022 election told NBC News, speaking candidly about the de facto leader of the GOP on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. "Independents didn't vote for candidates they viewed as extreme and too closely linked with Donald J. Trump."

Independent voters made up 31% of the electorate and they favored Democrats over Republicans by a margin of 49% to 47%, a stark break from the past four midterms in which they voted by double digits for the party out of power, according to exit polls.

Posted by orrinj at 1:04 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:01 PM


Gretchen Whitmer says her win was a rejection of political violence (OLIVIA OLANDER, 11/13/2022, Politico)

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Sunday she "would like to think" her reelection was a repudiation of political violence.

"Good people need to call this out and say we will not tolerate this in this country. And perhaps part of that message was sent this election," Whitmer said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union."

Whitmer was the target of a kidnapping plot in 2020, and the threat of political violence became especially prevalent late last month, following the brutal attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Ben Gvir calls for revoking state recognition of Reform conversions (JUDAH ARI GROSS , 11/13/22, Times of Israel)

Far-right leader Itamar Ben Gvir on Sunday demanded that the presumed incoming coalition pass a law to end recognition of Reform conversions for the purposes of citizenship.

This latest demand in the ongoing coalition negotiations was quickly denounced by religious rights groups, particularly the Reform movement's legal arm, the Israel Religious Action Center. The outgoing diaspora affairs minister called the proposal an unnecessary provocation as only an exceedingly small number of Reform converts request Israeli citizenship while the symbolism of the move would ostracize non-Orthodox Jews from Israel.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Electricity prices in Sweden are falling. Here's why (The Local, 13 November 2022)

There are several reasons why analysts expect somewhat more moderate electricity prices this winter.

Some are weather-related, such as the fact that Norway, after a lot of rainfall, has now sorted out its previous water shortage in the reservoirs in the south of the country.

Furthermore, the weather has been mild - and is expected to stay that way for quite a while.

Another decisive factor is that gas prices have fallen strongly in Europe (note: gas is largely used for electricity production).

The reason? Full gas stocks despite cuts in Russian gas imports. Right now, it is almost difficult to take in all the gas flowing into Europe.

"There are a lot of tankers (with liquefied gas) outside the ports waiting to be unloaded," Johan Sigvardsson, an analyst at the electricity trading company Bixia, pointed out.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Kevin McCarthy's Faustian bargain (Elle Gyges, 11/12/22, The Spectator)

Victorious politicians often talk about "trusting the voters," but this time the voters really seem to have had a sense of humor. Just as they are deposing House Democrats, they are also tying would-be speaker Kevin McCarthy to the whipping post.

By dethroning Speaker Pelosi but denying McCarthy a commanding majority, they've ensured that he must negotiate with the conservative-leaning House Freedom Caucus if he is to hold the gavel.

The Freedom Caucus denied McCarthy once before, after Speaker John Boehner abruptly resigned in 2015. It began when they moved to vacate Boehner's chair, essentially a vote of no confidence. Fighting the motion would have been contentious -- and so rather than force the vote, Boehner resigned, leaving the path open for McCarthy. But McCarthy dropped out of the race when the Freedom Caucus put up another candidate, denying him the 218 votes he needed to secure the post. After some back-room dealing, it was Paul Ryan who ended up controlling the House.

In the years since, both McCarthy and the Freedom Caucus have changed.

Where the Freedom Caucus first organized around holding the line on federal spending -- a wonky if unpopular stance -- today's Freedom Caucus is best understood as the Trump Palace Guard.

Jeb for Speaker.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


November 12, 2022 (Heather Cox Richardson, 11/12/22, Letters from an American)

A little before 9:30 p.m. Eastern time, NBC called Nevada's tight Senate race for the incumbent: Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto. Cortez Masto defeated Adam Laxalt, a former attorney general for the state, whom former president Trump had endorsed.  

This means that the Democrats keep control of the Senate. 

Democrats will have 50 votes in the new Congress just as they did in the current one, enabling Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties in their favor. 

Harris may not need to break ties, though, if the last Senate seat goes to the Democrats. That last seat is the one outstanding seat from Georgia. In the election there, Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock garnered about 35,000 more votes than Trump-endorsed Republican Herschel Walker, but neither man won 50% of the vote. Under Georgia law, this forces a runoff, which will be held on December 6.

Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp Perez defeats Republican Joe Kent in WA House race (Jim Brunner  and David Gutman , 11/12/22, Seattle Times)

Gluesenkamp Perez's victory sends a Democrat to Congress in a district that has voted Republican for more than a decade, and means eight of Washington's 10 House members will now be Democrats, along with the state's two U.S. senators.

It also bolsters Democrats' chances of possibly hanging onto their House majority, with several races too close to call in states including California, Oregon and Arizona. Republicans remain favored to gain the edge to flip House control.

Kent had appeared confident of victory after the August primary, declaring the district to be "deep red MAGA country." [...]

Kent's loss was another stinging defeat for a Trump-endorsed candidate in the midterm elections and provided Democrats with a surprise House seat pickup in a year in which the party was mostly playing defense.

Before the election, the political news site FiveThirtyEight gave Kent a 98% chance of winning, but there had been little polling in the race.

Kent did not concede Saturday, tweeting "this is not over." He said supporters are working on "curing" 6,000 rejected ballots to get them counted. That represents the total number of ballots not counted because of signature or other problems, and those likely include Democratic voters in addition to Republicans.

Kent had become a star in conservative media, appearing frequently on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show, and almost daily at times on the podcast of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon. [...]

The path to Gluesenkamp Perez's improbable win started when six-term Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler last year voted to impeach Trump over his role in stoking the violent Jan. 6 , 2021 attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters seeking to halt certification of Joe Biden's win.

Trump took revenge by endorsing Kent, who succeeded in ousting Herrera Beutler in the August primary, but went on to lose what had been considered a safe Republican seat.

Jeb for Speaker.

MAGA Election Denier Jim Marchant Just Lost His Bid for Nevada Secretary of State (Noah Lanard, 11/12/22, Mother Jones)

Last month, I published an investigation showing that Nevada Republican secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant was deceiving voters by wildly misrepresenting his business history. After the story came out, Marchant told fellow election denier Steve Bannon, "Mother Jones did some sort of colonoscopy on me and they came up with everything." He contested nothing.

"Everything," in this case, included a former employee who said he "would not want Jim to be secretary of a preschool," overwhelming evidence that Marchant's most prominent company quickly imploded, and previously unpublished divorce records that revealed that his career ended in financial ruin. Marchant was betting that it wouldn't matter--having a R next to his name would be enough in 2022. He was wrong.

Marchant narrowly lost his race for secretary of state to Democrat Cisco Aguilar, a lawyer and former aide to the late Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. Marchant was one of the most extreme candidates running for statewide office this year. He claimed that all Nevada elections since 2006 had been rigged and that the winners had been "installed by the deep-state cabal." Nevertheless, he nearly found himself in charge of all elections in the state. (Marchant didn't answer when I called him on Friday evening to see if he was conceding.)

The origin story for Marchant's campaign would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. In 2020, Marchant lost his race for Congress by more than 16,000 votes. Instead of accepting defeat, he claimed that he and Donald Trump had been victims of voter fraud. The day after the election, he checked himself into the Venetian so that he could work with Trump's team to try to overturn the results of both contests.

His lawsuit to try to force Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas, to hold a new election was quickly thrown out. But while on the Strip, he's said he received a visit from Wayne Willott, a fringe QAnon influencer who goes by the alias Juan O. Savin. Willott told Marchant to run for secretary of state in 2022 so that he could control Nevada elections. He also pushed Marchant to build a coalition of like-minded candidates in other states. Marchant followed Willott's advice.