How General Electric Gambled on Fossil Fuel Power, and Lost

February 22nd, 2018

Disclosure: I sell solar power systems in New Zealand.

Via: Reuters:

Rather than rising, GE Power’s profit fell 45 percent last year, forcing GE to slash its overall profit outlook and cut its dividend for only the second time since the Great Depression. Its shares have plunged more than 50 percent since the March forecast. Former CEO Jeff Immelt was replaced in August.

John Flannery, GE’s new chief executive, blamed the forecast, along with poor management and other factors, for the power business meltdown. In January, he warned the pain would continue this year “and potentially be worse than expected.”

What GE has not emphasized is that wind and solar now cost substantially less than gas and other conventional energy sources – and have for years, according to a widely respected energy cost report Lazard has published since 2008.

But according to more than a dozen former executives, rivals and energy experts interviewed by Reuters, GE’s reading of the market left the company deeply vulnerable to the sudden drop in demand for conventional power plants, as sales of wind and solar surged.

“There are just fewer gas turbines being bought,” one former GE executive said. “The market is not flat, it’s down.”


Ex-CIA Director: U.S. Meddles in Foreign Elections for a ‘Very Good Cause’

February 21st, 2018

Via: The Hill:

Following a federal indictment of Russians accused of meddling in the U.S election, a former CIA director on Friday said the U.S. “probably” meddles in other countries’ elections, as well.

The Russian embassy flagged his comments.

When asked whether the U.S. interferes in other countries’ elections, James Woolsey said, “Well, only for a very good cause in the interests of democracy.”

“Oh, probably, but it was for the good of the system in order to avoid communists taking over,” he told Laura Ingraham on her Fox News show on Friday night.

Woolsey served as CIA director under former President Clinton.


The Car of the Future Will Sell Your Data

February 20th, 2018

No.

Via: Bloomberg:

Picture this: You’re driving home from work, contemplating what to make for dinner, and as you idle at a red light near your neighborhood pizzeria, an ad offering $5 off a pepperoni pie pops up on your dashboard screen.

Are you annoyed that your car’s trying to sell you something, or pleasantly persuaded? Telenav Inc., a company developing in-car advertising software, is betting you won’t mind much. Car companies—looking to earn some extra money—hope so, too.


South Korean Cryptocurrency Regulator Found Dead at Home

February 20th, 2018

Via: Wall Street Journal:

A South Korean official who guided Seoul’s regulatory clampdown on cryptocurrencies was found dead on Sunday, according to a government spokesman.

Jung Ki-joon, 52, was head of economic policy at the Office for Government Policy Coordination. He helped coordinate efforts to create new legislation aimed at suppressing cryptocurrency speculation and illicit activity, the spokesman said.

Semiofficial news agency Yonhap reported that Mr. Jung was presumed to have suffered a heart attack and police had opened an investigation into the cause of death. Yonhap also reported that Mr. Jung was found at home. The government spokesman said later that “he died from some unknown cause. He passed away while he was sleeping and [his] heart [had] already stopped beating when he was found dead.”

Mr. Jung’s colleagues said he had been under heavy stress in recent months as South Korea worked to tackle cryptocurrency speculation, Yonhap reported.


Academic Investigating Chinese Influence Peddling in New Zealand Had Break-Ins at Home and Work

February 19th, 2018

Via: New Zealand Herald:

A New Zealand academic who made international waves researching China’s international influence campaigns has linked a number of recent break-ins to her work.

University of Canterbury professor Anne-Marie Brady, speaking today from Christchurch to the Australian Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee in Canberra, outlined three recent events which caused her concern.

“I had a break-in in my office last December. I received a warning letter, this week, that I was about to be attacked. And yesterday I had a break-in at my house,” she said.

She said this weeks’ burglary at her Upper Riccarton home was particularly suspicious.

“I had three laptops – including one used for work – stolen. And phones. [Other] valuables weren’t taken. Police are now investigating that.”

Brady also said her employer at Canterbury University had been pressured following earlier work on China’s Antarctic policy and – following a recent visit to China – sources she had talked to were subjected to visits from authorities.

“People I’ve associated with in China, just last year, were questioned by the Chinese Ministry of State Security about their association with me.”

Her outspokenness became extremely public after she published in September a “Magic Weapons” paper using New Zealand as a case study in explaining China’s extra-state exertion of influence.

The paper highlighted a river of campaign donations to governing parties, and how a cluster of former senior politicians – including former prime ministers and mayors – and family members of current government ministers had been appointed to boards of state-owned Chinese banks, companies and think tanks.

More: ‘Magic Weapons’: China’s Network of Influence in New Zealand


The Secret on the Ocean Floor

February 19th, 2018

Via: BBC:

In the summer of 1974, a large and highly unusual ship set sail from Long Beach in California.

It was heading for the middle of the Pacific where its owners boasted it would herald a revolutionary new industry beneath the waves.

Equipped with a towering rig and the latest in drilling gear, the vessel was designed to reach down through the deep, dark waters to a source of incredible wealth lying on the ocean floor.

It was billed as the boldest step so far in a long-held dream of opening a new frontier in mining, one that would see valuable metals extracted from the rocks of the seabed.

But amid all the excited public relations, there was one small hitch – the whole expedition was a lie.

This was a Cold War deception on a staggering scale, but one which also left a legacy that has profound implications nearly half a century later.


L.A. County’s Homeless Problem Is Worsening Despite Billions from Tax Measures

February 19th, 2018

Build the sprawling San Angeles favelas with autonomous construction drones!

No?

Via: Los Angeles Times:

Los Angeles County’s homeless population is increasing faster than the supply of new housing, even with the addition of thousands of beds in the last two years and millions of dollars beginning to flow in from two ballot measures targeting the crisis, according to a long-awaited report by the region’s homelessness agency.

The report showed that officials two years ago far underestimated how much new housing would be needed when they asked city and county voters to approve the tax measures.

As a result, a $73-million annual shortfall in funding for the county’s comprehensive homelessness program could more than triple, a Times analysis of the report found.

Providing permanent housing for the county’s chronically homeless population would require more than 20,000 new units, about 5,000 more than projected two years ago, the report said.


San Francisco Streets More Filthy Than Third World Slums

February 19th, 2018

Via: NBC:

How dirty is San Francisco? An NBC Bay Area Investigation reveals a dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces throughout downtown San Francisco. The Investigative Unit surveyed 153 blocks of the city – the more than 20-mile stretch includes popular tourist spots like Union Square and major hotel chains. The area – bordered by Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, Post Street and Grant Avenue – is also home to City Hall, schools, playgrounds, and a police station.

“If you do get stuck with these disposed needles you can get HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and a variety of other viral diseases,” said Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease expert at University of California, Berkeley. He warned that once fecal matter dries, it can become airborne, releasing potentially dangerous viruses, such as the rotavirus. “If you happen to inhale that, it can also go into your intestine,” he said. The results can prove fatal, especially in children.

Riley has researched conditions across the poorest slums of the world. His book titled, “Slum Health,” examines health problems that are created by extreme poverty.

Based on the findings of the Investigative Unit survey, Riley believes parts of the city may be even dirtier than slums in some developing countries.

“The contamination is … much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India,” he said. He notes that in those countries, slum dwellings are often long-term homes for families and so there is an attempt to make the surroundings more livable. Homeless communities in San Francisco, however, are often kicked out from one part of town and forced to relocate to another. The result is extreme contamination, according to Riley.


Oregon UFO Incident

February 17th, 2018

Via: The War Zone:

Last November, The War Zone posted an exclusive story detailing a bizarre incident involving an unidentified aircraft that transited the skies of the Pacific Northwest in the early evening of October 25th, 2017. What started as a radar target moving at very high speed over Northern California turned into a series of eyewitness accounts made by nearby airline pilots traveling northward over Oregon. Even F-15 fighters were launched to intercept the mysterious intruder that quickly became invisible to radar.

Now, through the Freedom of Information Act, we present what could be one of the most insightful instances of official documentation surrounding such an encounter that had already been confirmed to have occurred by both the FAA and the USAF. These materials include fascinating audio recordings of radio transmissions and phone calls made as the incident was unfolding, as well as pilot interviews, and conversations between FAA officials made in the aftermath of the highly peculiar incident.


Brazil Military Takes Control of Rio de Janeiro’s Security

February 16th, 2018

Via: Bloomberg:

Brazil’s military will take control of public security in the state of Rio de Janeiro as a wave of violence rattles the population and dominates media coverage ahead of this year’s presidential election.

President Michel Temer will issue a decree on Friday putting the military in charge of Rio’s security forces, his press office said in an e-mailed statement. An army general would be in charge even of the state’s civilian police, according to two sources with direct knowledge fo the order. The intervention, which requires congressional approval, will last until the end of the year, said the people who requested not to be named because the decree isn’t public yet. Temer will address the situation in a nationally-televised speech Friday night.

The move, the first of its kind since Brazil returned to democracy in 1985, is a response to growing demands ahead of the October general elections for a crack down on crime and violence. It may also provide an excuse not to vote an unpopular pension bill, because by law changes to the Constitution can’t be made while a military intervention is in effect.


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