January 2012

Solar Panels Cheapest Energy Source In Third World

Thanks to plummeting prices in solar and component markets, solar energy has become a boon to the extreme poor of the third world.

Solar panels’ cost have fallen precipitously in the last couple of years, and are approaching the cost of natural gas, which is itself at an almost record low cost. In addition a number of other technological components have dropped in price, which have all served to make solar energy the most affordable source of energy in many third world countries. This could spell major differences in the life of the poorest families and individuals in these countries; the difference between having clean water, a warm bed, or access to emergency healthcare.

One of the largest reasons that solar panels have seen such a dramatic upsurge in these areas has been the plummeting cost of LED lights. In the past, homes and businesses would need to buy solar panels capable of generating 20 to 30 watts of energy to light conventional incandescent light bulbs, which were the only ones available. Now, with lower cost and much higher-efficiency LED lights, they can buy solar panels that only need to generate 2 or 3 watts of power. One of the most common uses of these new cheaper solar panels, however, is to charge cell phones. Cell phones have become ubiquitous in Africa over the previous decade, and many individuals who previously had to rent a charger can purchase a small solar panel, which will pay for itself in a matter of months.

2012 State of the Union Speech

Facts and Logic part 10

On Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 President Barack Obama gave his “State of the Union” speech. Some wondered if the claims he made were “true” or “factual”; or were they a spun a bit to make himself look good in the next election. The “facts and logic” forum has taken a break from fact chasing the GOP candidates and pointed their microscope at the Commander-in-Chief.

Kansas GOP House Speaker Urges Prayers for President Obama's Death, Then Denies It

Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal (R) is under fire for forwarding an email about President Obama that contained Psalm 109, a prayer for the death

 of a leader which says, among other things, to let his wife be a widow and his children fatherless beggers that no one extends kindness to.  It’s pretty harsh. The verse became popular after President Obama’s election but conservatives defending it insist it’s tongue in cheek.

Not surprisingly, O’Neal’s email caused quite an uproar along with demands he resign. He has refused, saying the passage was used only to refer to his days in office and insisting he was not calling for the president’s death. Most people aren’t buying it and neither am I. After what happened to Gabrielle Giffords, it’s beyond irresponsible to toss around dangerous speech like that, and let’s not forget that the president’s daughters are more than old enough to be able to hear and read what’s being said about their father. I don’t know if Speaker O’Neal has a family but if he does I am sure he would not appreciate having such prayers said about him!

Seriously folks, if you don’t like the man’s politics, personality, or skin color, that’s your prerogative. You’re entitled to your opinions, even if many would be disgusted by them. However you are not entitled to publicly wish death on him or pain and hardship on his family. You are not entitled to indirectly incite violence. That’s when free speech goes to far. Stop wasting so much time spreading hate and instead use that time to do something truly productive like finding compromises and working together to improve the economy, create jobs, fix the health care system, and make this country better than ever. 

See The Truth For Yourself

Livestream From Occupy Oakland

There's more than one way to look at what just happened in Oakland, and what it might mean for the Occupy Movement. You can interpret these events as a violent and totally unjustified assault by riot police on a peaceful protest march, as a riot by militant anarchists who have successfully hijacked Occupy Oakland, or as a case of escalation, with unpredictable and complex consequences.


Violence In Oakland

Who Was Responsible?

To all the liberals and progressives howling with outrage against Occupy Oakland- the Oakland Police Department is for all practical purposes a criminal organization. The actions of the Oakland PD have been so egregious and so violent to such a huge segment of the Oakland community for such a long time that the department is on the verge of being put into receivership, judged to be incapable of reforming itself or managing its own affairs. Protesters were treated with extreme violence and a blatant disregard for law and order by the official defenders of law and order. If you turn your criticism on the protesters while giving the Oakland PD a free pass, you are in effect saying that the appropriate methods for crowd control in the United States of America ought to include the brutal suppression of marches and protests.

What Happened In Oakland

A Few Thoughts

Here's a video of the violence in Oakland, and a few thoughts.

One- this is a tremendous show of force in order to protect “property rights” in an empty building no one is using for anything. It is estimated that one billion of the world's seven billion people are currently squatters. Squatting on unused “private property” was a central issue of many peasant rebellions in medieval Europe, and for good reason. If a man can legally “own” property he isn't using for anything while others have no roof over their heads at all, then something is very wrong. The state's determination to protect this unjust situation with such an extreme show of force says volumes about its real priorities. Is Occupy trying to destroy “property rights”? I would argue that we are not, but that there is no legitimate property right to an unused building. If a building is lying vacant, let it be claimed by those who need it.

Two- only a small minority of protesters engaged in violence, but the others cannot be considered completely blameless because they did not attempt to prevent the violence from happening. This was not a perfectly non-violent march. Protesters can be seen throwing various objects at the police.


Three- the level of violence used by the protesters was very much lower than the level of violence used by the police.

Overeager Fans Causing Problems at Alcatraz

The National Park Service says fans of the popular TV show “Alcatraz” are starting to cause problems at the historic prison, which the park 

service now runs. The series highly fictionalizes the prison, highlighting features like an underground lab, secret tunnels, and other made up areas. The problem is fans aren’t doing their homework and are assuming what they see on TV is real. That’s resulted in some real issues for the National Park service, which says tourists have started trying to find these non-existent locations and trying to poke around in areas marked off-limits to the public. It’s gotten so bad they’ve had to erect signs telling visitors the show doesn’t accurately portray the facility and the places they are looking for don’t exist. The service is worried the overeager fans could get hurt or cause security issues.

Hey I understand the excitement of seeing a location from your favorite TV show. It’s why studio tours are so popular! I’m even guilty of looking for locations from some of my favorite shows, like the 12th Precinct from the classic sitcom Barney Miller (it’s fictional) and the police station from the 70’s favorite “CHiPs” (it’s real and the CHP will even give you a tour!), but I did my research ahead of time. It’s foolish to believe everything you see on TV is real! Common sense should tell you that. Enjoy what you see on TV, but check before you go looking for the locations in real life to save yourself from any disappointment-or worse.

Brewer and Obama: Who Was Condescending to Who?

Jan Brewer: How Much Respect Does She Deserve After Signing Her Anti-Immigration Laws into Policy?

Remember Arizona Governor Jan Brewer? Friend to the masses and immigrants? The governor who initiated the most draconian immigration laws within the United States? When she met President Barack Obama on an airport runway, the two actually spoke.

The conversation between Jan Brewer and Barack Obama might have been a little bit awkward since he is suing her over the restrictive legislation which targets immigrants within the state of Arizona.  

What is it with single issue voters?

"Single issue voters have a distorted impression of political reality."

I have a family member who voted for President Obama in the last general election.  She is a moderate who generally voted Republican in the past.  However, in the last election she was concerned that the country would continue going down the same path with McCain as with Bush.  So, she voted for Obama.  Now, after the State of the Union (2012) speech, she has decided that she will most likely vote for  Republican in the presidential election, no matter who that is.

Celebrity Cancer Survivors Who Inspire and Raise Awareness

Many who are suffering with cancer as well as many who love someone who is suffering with cancer take heart from the many survivors who have walked the path and came out the other end okay. Here is a look at some famous survivors of cancer. 
Olivia Newton-John is perhaps one of the most well known survivors of breast cancer because she took it upon herself to speak up about her journey and truly be an activist for other survivors. Olivia was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 when she was only in her early forties and had a very young daughter, Chloe. Also, Olivia had just been through the tragic death of her goddaughter to a rare form of cancer so the disease had already hit home. 
However, Olivia was determined to make it, and she tried everything she could from chemotherapy to a variety of treatments to compliment the things her medical doctors did for her. Amazingly enough, as she was recovering from cancer, she wrote an extremely positive album called ‘Gaia: One Woman’s Journey.” In my opinion, “Gaia: One Woman’s Journey” is her masterpiece album. It featured such songs as ‘Not Gonna Give Into It” which was written after a chemotherapy treatment. Olivia has thrived ever since.

There’s No Right Way to Store Nuclear Waste

U.S. is Still Confounded by Growing Tonnage of Radioactive Sludge

It might surprise you to know that the U.S. still has no long-term plan to store its nuclear waste. Nuclear waste lasts thousands of years and, if stockpiled, will have to be housed in a facility that will last just as long. Thanks to major scientific and political flaws, the proposed repository in Yucca Mountain, Nevada was quietly canceled by President Obama late in 2011. However, since nuclear plants worldwide create about 200,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste per year, a permanent solution for storing the current tons of waste will have to be part of any plan to leave nuclear energy behind permanently.

In The Washington Post article above, contributor Brad Plumer describes a plan that was enacted in Sweden. The Swedish government developed a list of locations where it might be feasible to “dump” nuclear waste. In each of these locations, the local population was given the power to veto the entire plan, avoiding situations like Yucca Mountain. After several years of local consultation, the running was down to two communities that actually competed for the nuclear waste dump. Even with a “soft touch” plan like this, though, the possible environmental damage from the repository is incalculable.

With SOPA and PIPA Gone, Don’t Forget About ACTA

The Internet is the New Battleground for the Right-Wing Corporate Agenda

Left-wing voters and their allies struck a major blow for freedom this month as Sen. Harry Reid and other politicians associated with oppressive internet piracy laws backed away from the bills for now. The key words are “for now,” since the cause of internet censorship could be brought up again at any time -- and almost certainly will. Powerful media interests, the same that are lining the pockets of pro-censorship politicians, will likely try again as soon as attention on their recent failure dies down.

But there are other things for us to worry about if internet freedom is going to become part of a cohesive left-leaning agenda. For example, there is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, an international agreement between the U.S., EU, and key Asian and Oceania economies. ACTA’s provisions will command internet service providers to act as a global internet censorship police in a way very similar to SOPA and PIPA. Many of the details have only just come to light, since ACTA was negotiated in secret.

Christian Voters – Battle Over the Voters

With the Florida primary underway, it becomes even more crucial for candidates to find their ideal followers, but the Christian voters out there are still not set on who to turn to. If they had to give Newt Gingrich, one of the frontrunners, a vote for his conservative stance, he would only do well with on the curve. On the other hand, Mitt Romney's wealth is hurting him with the same voters. So, the question is, who are you voting for?

Who's the Problem

Just a few days ago, it was easy to see that Mitt Romney was the clear favorite in Florida, South Carolina and generally throughout the country. However, recent information is hurting him. Specifically, conservatives who are lower income and even the Evangelical Christian voters are not buying into him.

Romney seems to wealthy and with the recent details about his ability to pay only 14 percent income tax on his earnings last year, there's no doubt many people are wondering if he is able to appeal to the lower income conservative vote.

Republican Voters – Who Will Grab Latino Vote in Florida?

As the Republican presidential primaries are under full swing, one question that many people are wondering is how the Latino vote will sway. There is no clear cut answer here among the remaining presidential nomination candidates. This will be the first election in which these voters will have a big impact on the race for the White House.

If you consider the past and the way locals voted in previous elections, you might say that the conservative Cuban Americans are likely to play the strong suit here. However, some say that is not the case, such as Gary Segura, who is a professor at Stanford University. He says, "The Cuban share of Florida's Latino population has declined even as the Latino population has grown. And, the younger generations of Cuban Americans are simply less Republican than their parents and grandparents."  He also added that "Cubans are only three percent of the Latino population nationwide." The only place this vote makes a big difference, then, is in the Florida primary.

Corporate Personhood Might be the Biggest Threat to Egalitarianism

Supreme Court Decision Shifts Political Power to Faceless Corporate Donors

If you’ve been paying attention to mainstream politics lately, you know that one of the major areas of right-wing incursion in the past few months has been internet censorship. Even with PIPA and SOPA temporarily shelved, the international treaty called ACTA is just as bad -- and there’s much less that can be done, short of direct action affecting the European Parliament, one of the last major bodies where it’s still under consideration.

But as Henry David Thoreau said, “For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.” We would do well to ask ourselves how the democratic institutions of the world are being used to push a one-sided, anti-human agenda. There are many reasons, but the biggest ones stand out and loom large over the political future of the entire planet: “Corporate Personhood” and the idea of money as free speech.

Citizens United, a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, essentially found corporations to have a First Amendment right to unlimited and unreported “free speech” in the form of campaign donations. In the wake of this, it’s no surprise that “legacy media” companies who have the most to gain from oppressive, globalized internet censorship are the ones bankrolling the campaigns of censorship sponsors!

Conservative Voters in Florida

When it comes down to it, conservative voters in the United States will be looking very questioningly at each of the candidates and determining which one is going to be the best choice to protect their values moving forward. Some think that wealth has something to do with it all. Mitt Romney, considered by some a frontrunner for the conservative vote, spent his time in Florida this week displaying his ability to connect. However, some polls indicate that Romney may be too wealthy to be attractive to these voters. Is that your opinion?

Recent news reports that indicate that Romney paid a mere 14 percent in income tax last year soured many Americans to him. Of course, it is not his fault that the tax system provides such a limited accounting for those who are wealthy. Nevertheless, some have turned a bad taste in their mouth - can someone that is this wealthy really be conservative enough? The working class simply does not appreciate this indication.

Balanced Budget - Back in 1955

Balanced budgets have been something people and politicians have fought over for decades. During research for an interesting article, I found a few newspaper articles dating back to the Eisenhower administration and his quest to balance the budget or not. For those who are looking at presidential candidates today and wondering how a balanced budget can happen, it can be interesting to take a step back to see what the thoughts were years ago.

In an article in the Lawrence Journal - World, the author discusses the need to move slowly when balancing the budget. According to the article, questions were raised as to why the budget was not balanced. The difference in balancing or not was just $1.5 billion, a far amount less than the lack of balancing the budget today. However, there were concerns brought up.