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The Murky Future of Nuclear Power in the United States

A view into Unit 4 at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating station in Georgia. The complex plans to use AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse. Credit via Georgia Power

Image: A view into Unit 4 at the Alvin W. Vogtle generating station in Georgia. The complex plans to use AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse. Credit via Georgia Power

nytimes.com - February 18th 2017 - Diane Cardwell

This was supposed to be America’s nuclear century.

The Three Mile Island meltdown was two generations ago. Since then, engineers had developed innovative designs to avoid the kinds of failures that devastated Fukushima in Japan. 

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‘A Conservative Climate Solution’: Republican Group Calls for Carbon Tax

James A. Baker, seen here at former first lady Nancy Reagan’s funeral in March 2016, is a member of the Climate Leadership Council. Despite its impeccable Republican credentials, the group faces long odds with its carbon-tax idea. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

nytimes.com by John Schwartz - February 7, 2017

A group of Republican elder statesmen is calling for a tax on carbon emissions to fight climate change.

The group, led by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, with former Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former secretary of the Treasury, says that taxing carbon pollution produced by burning fossil fuels is “a conservative climate solution” based on free-market principles.

Mr. Baker is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with White House officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Jared Kushner, the senior adviser to the president, and Gary D. Cohn, director of the National Economic Council, as well as Ivanka Trump.

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Why Venezuela's Currency Crisis Is A Case Study For Bitcoin

           

People stand in line to withdraw cash from an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a bank in Caracas, Venezuela, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Wil Riera/Bloomberg)

forbes.com - by Kevin Rands - February 3, 2017

As the value of hard currency changes drastically—and often—developing or recession-hit countries are finding Bitcoin as an innovative solution.

Just look at Venezuela, the country with the highest inflation rate in the world. The socialist nation has experienced a swift fall in oil prices, throwing the entire economy into turmoil. Experts say that Venezuelan inflation could go as high as 1,600%, leaving many people without basic necessities. . . .

. . . With the Venezuelan bolivar essentially worthless and supplies rapidly running out, Bitcoin is rising as an answer.

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UN Humanitarian Wing OCHA Lays Off 170, Starts Overhaul

           

Stephen O'Brien visits a camp in Saint Saveur, Central African Republic. Nektarios Markogiannis/MINUSCA

CLICK HERE - OCHA Functional Review - Final Report - 29 July 2016 (155 page .PDF report)

irinnews.org - by Samuel Oakford - 16 January 2017

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will reduce spending by at least $20 million in 2017. The 10-percent cuts, including at least 173 staff layoffs, come along with an internal reform process sparked by a damning independent review.

In notes dated November addressed to OCHA staff and exclusively reported by IRIN, its head – UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien – said donors hadn’t met growing demands.

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UN - Office of Internal Oversight Services - Internal Audit Reports
(click on the link below, and scroll to the bottom . . . click on page 2 for the most recently published .PDFs)
https://oios.un.org/page?slug=report

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The world today looks ominously like it did before World War I

Industrial Age factory and railway engraving. (Washington Post illustration; iStock)

Image: Industrial Age factory and railway engraving. (Washington Post illustration; iStock)

washingtonpost.com - December 29th 2016 - Ana Swanson

A backlash to globalization appears to be gaining strength around the world. U.S. politicians on both the right and left have called for curbing free trade deals they say benefit foreigners or the global elite. President-elect Donald Trump has championed tariffs on imports and limits on immigration, and suggested withdrawing from international alliances and trade agreements. 

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World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That's Cheaper Than Wind

           

Emerging markets are leapfrogging the developed world thanks to cheap panels.

bloomberg.com - by Tom Randall - December 15, 2016

A transformation is happening in global energy markets that’s worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity. 

This has happened in isolated projects in the past: an especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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Economic woes create anti-establishment movements around the world

A protest march against the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in Stuttgart, southern Germany this year. Photograph: Felix Kastle/AFP/Getty Images

Image:  A protest march against the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) party
in Stuttgart, southern Germany this year. Photograph: Felix Kastle/AFP/Getty Images

guardian.com - November 5th 2016 - Katie Allen

The US is not the only western nation to be undergoing political ructions over the faltering post-crisis recovery. New counter-establishment parties have emerged in several countries and, as in the UK, people have voted for dramatic change. Meanwhile, there’s a growing sense in developed economies that workers have yet to benefit from the recovery or rising globalisation.

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The myth of renewables threatening grid stability?

bnef.com - October 31st 2016

Germany’s power grid outage averaged 12.7 minutes last year, 41% less than in 2006, even though renewables have grown to account for as much as a third of power generation in the country, according to data released by the federal regulator last week.

This put to rest concerns about intermittent sources of power threatening grid stability. The country is weaning itself away from nuclear power and embracing renewables generation, providing a working model of transformation of the energy sector for many other countries.

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Congress Approves $1.1 Billion To Fight Zika

After nearly seven months of bickering and finger-pointing, Congress on Wednesday agreed to allocate $1.1 billion to help fight the spread and effects of the Zika virus.

The deal is part of a broader agreement to continue to fund the government after the fiscal year ends on Friday and the current budget expires.

It brings to an end a partisan fight that has had the unusual effect of delaying funding to deal with what all sides agree is a public health emergency.

Congress Stops Bickering And Approves $1.1 Billion To Fight Zika
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/28/495806979/congress-ends-spat-over-zika-funding-approves-1-1-billion?utm_term=nprnews

Congress passes funding bill averting government shutdown
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-idUSKCN11Y1MJ

Congress clears stopgap spending bill, $1.1B to fight Zika
http://unb.com.bd/article/congress-clears-stopgap-spending-bill-dollar11b-to-fight-zika

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Venezuela president Nicolás Maduro declares state of emergency

People queueing to buy food are prey for thieves in Caracas, capital of Venezuela. Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters Image: People queueing to buy food are prey for thieves in Caracas, capital of Venezuela. Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

theguardian.com - May 14th 2016 - Emma Graham-Harrison

Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, has declared a state of emergency, hours after US intelligence officials warned that the South American country could be on the brink of disintegration.

The powers Maduro obtains after Friday night’s declaration allow him “to stabilise our country, and confront all the international and national threats against our fatherland in this moment”, the president said, but he did not detail how he intends to use them.

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