Thursday, November 30, 2017

UN envoy to Libya speaks to UN about situation in Libya and his action plan

UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame spoke to the UN Security Council about the situation in Lbya on November 16. He announced his action plan back in September of this year.

The Action Plan for Libya
Salame notes that it is now two months since he set out his Action Plan for Libya. The Action Plan he describes is made up of a number of ingredients including: amending the Libyan Political;Agreement (LPA), organizing a National Conference, as well as preparing for elections.
I discussed Salame's plan in an article back in September. The plan he argues is based on article 12 of the LPA. He failed to note that there are two articles 12, one in the main text and one in the additional provisions. He does not say which one he refers to.
Only article 12 in the additional provisions is relevant because it does make reference to the House of Representatives (HoR) and the State Council (SC). However, the article is not about amending the LPA at all. It is about amending the Constitutional Declaration.
Even then the amendment can take place only after the LPA has been endorsed and adopted in its entirety. Surely this has not happened. The amendments are surely designed so that the HoR will accept the LPA and agree to the Government of National Accord (GNA) as restructured among other things. They also have yet to incorporate the GNA in the constitutional declaration. The whole edifice of the GNA as it is now has no legitimacy according to Article 12.
What does article 12 in additional provisions say?
Although in his original statement of the plan and this report Salame refers to article 12 to explain what he is doing, he never actually quotes it. The full text of the LPA as signed in December of 2015 at Skhirat Morrocco can be found here at a UN site in PDF form.
Article 12 of the additional provisions reads:"Article (12)All institutions stipulated in the Libyan Political Agreement shall derive their legitimacy from the Constitutional Declaration and its amendment as annexed to this Agreement after its endorsement and adoption in its entirety, signing and entry into force.
Should it be necessary to introduce subsequent amendment to the Constitutional Declaration that affects, whether directly or indirectly, the Agreement or any of the institutions that emanate from it, the House of Representatives and State Council shall commit to achieve consensus among themselves to agree on the format of such amendment. The final endorsement of this amendment shall be given by the House of Representatives, without amendment, based on the mechanism stipulated in the ConstitutionalDeclaration."
Notice there is not a word about amending the Libyan Political Agreement itself, but only the Constitutional Declaration. Even this can take place only after everything has been endorsed and implemented. Is it any wonder that Salame never actually quotes the article he is supposedly using?
Here is what Salame reports as progress:"I am pleased to report that over the last two months, the Action Plan has made significant headway. The United Nations convened two sessions of the Joint Drafting Committee, composed of members from both the House of Representatives and of the High Council of State to agree on a set of amendments to the Libyan Political Agreement in UNSMIL’s offices in Tunis. For the first time, with these meetings, Article 12 of the Libyan Political Agreement has been implemented. I welcome the mutual recognition of the two assemblies, and their acknowledgment of the Libyan Political Agreement as the sole available framework to end the crisis in Libya."
Salame does not explain how the two meetings implement Article 12 of the LPA. Where are all the experts on Libya? Why is nothing said about this issue? The LPA is not used as a basis for a process. It is avoided while the UN continually claims that it is being used as a basis for a way forward.
The enclosed video shows that the meetings ended with no agreement and with no date set for a future meeting.
Salames remark about the HoR and High Council of State(HCS) glosses over the fact that the HoR supports only an amended LPA without section 8 that gives the PC the job of commander in chief . The HCS wants to ensure that Haftar does not remain commander in chief. This is why there is no final agreement.
The National Conference
Salame also is preparing for a National Conference to take place next February 18. There is nothing in the LPA about such a conference. It appears to be an attempt to bring important stakeholders together.
Salame says: "The National Conference will give Libyans from all across the country the opportunity to come together in one place; to renew their common national narrative; and to agree on the tangible steps required to end the transition. I insist that the Conference be inclusive, in order to allow the adoption of a true National Charter, and provide guidelines for the legislation needed to end the transition."
This appears all quite idealistic and vague.
It remains to be seen if the conference actually takes place and has any effect.
Recent Developments
The HoR has met and apparently accepted some amendments to the LPA. Chris Stephen tweets:More
#Libya Libya reform: Today's Tobruk parliament vote sees UN-backed GNA government's executive in Tripoli, the 9-strong Presidential Council, cut to 3 members, to be chosen by Tripoli + Tobruk parliaments. As before, PC recommends cabinet, Tobruk votes yes/no. In theory, anyway.
6:10 AM - 21 Nov 2017
Where in the LPA does it say the HoR can amend the LPA? Note there is no mention of deletion of article 8 or whether they have amended the Constitutional Declaration as required.
Apology: I had all sorts of problems with the editing of this article. An earlier posted article had material that I used as reference that I deleted but it was not deleted but saved. This is a shortened version of the article with the extraneous material hopefully deleted.

Previously published in Digital Journal

SpaceX delays indefinitely launch of the Zuma mission

(November 18) SpaceX on Thursday postponed again the launch of a secret government payload named Zuma. The mission is a mystery and no US agency has claimed responsibility for it.
The planned launch was described in a recent Digital Journal article.
Thursday launch called off just hours before take off
Just about a mere two hours before the launch window was to open on Thursday SpaceX said in a statement: "We have decided to stand down and take a closer look at data from recent fairing testing for another customer. Though we have preserved the range opportunity for tomorrow, we will take the time we need to complete the data review and will then confirm a new launch date." The fairing is the nose cone part of the rocket that protects the payload.
Neither SpaceX or the Pentagon would clarify the nature of the mission. The maker of the payload the US defense contractor Northrup Grumman said only that it was for the US government and would be delivered to low-Earth orbit. The company would not provide any other details.
SpaceX has launched other classified payloads
Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX founded by Elon Musk in 2002 has the goal of reducing space transportation costs. Musk is also the founder of Tesla the EV maker. SpaceX has many firsts including a rocket which can land after delivering its payload.
Earlier this year, SpaceX launched a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. It also launched an X-37B space plane for the US Air Force.
When SpaceX finally does liftoff with its payload the first stage portion of the Falcon9 rocket will attempt to return to earth and land near Cape Canaveral. If the landing is successful this will represent that 20th time SpaceX has successfully landed the cone to be reused saving money on costly rocket parts.
SpaceX concerned about possible payload fairing problems
Wikipedia describes the fairings as follows:A payload fairing is a nose cone used to protect a spacecraft (launch vehicle payload) against the impact of dynamic pressure and aerodynamic heating during launch through an atmosphere...
Outside the atmosphere the fairing is jettisoned, exposing the payload. ..The standard payload fairing is typically a cone-cylinder combination, due to aerodynamic considerations; however specialized fairings are in use as well. The type of fairing which separates into two halves upon jettisoning is called a clam-shell fairing by way of analogy to the bifurcating shell of a clam.
The Zuma launch was postponed until SpaceX examined data from testing of the fairings. Failures of the fairings have caused problems with previous flights by other rockets.
SpaceX had said on Thursday as mentioned earlier: “We have decided to stand down and take a closer look at data from recent fairing testing for another customer." The fairings encapsulate the payloads and are designed to protect it during and after launch.
When the launch does take place, the first stage is scheduled to land at Cape Canaveral Landing Zone 1 about 8 minutes after liftoff. There is expected to be a loud sonic boom associated with the landing. However, there is no word when that will be.
No doubt SpaceX is following the old adage: Better safe than sorry.
Previously published in Digital Journal

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Canada installing 54 EV charging stations on Trans-Canada in Manitoba and Ontario

Canada is teaming up with three different companies to install 34 EV fast-charging stations along the Trans Canada Highway in Manitoba and Ontario in an attempt to encourage more motorists to use EVs on longer trips.
Funding for the program
The $173 million charging network announced earlier this year will allow charging of EV's in about 20 minutes. The different types of charging units are described in this Manitoba Hydro release.
The project is being funded by $8 million of a repayable contribution from Natural Resources Canada as part of the Canadian Energy Innovation Program. There is also private investment from eCamion, a Toronto energy storage system developer, Leclanche an energy storage provider and SGEM a Geneva-based power producer.
Canadian government wants to encourage EV use
In a news release, Jim Carr, the Canadian federal government Minister of Natural Resources said the increased use of EVs would help reduce emissions: “With more electric vehicles becoming available, we want to make them an easy choice for Canadians. The strategic investment brings us closer to having a national coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle charging stations while growing our economy and creating good jobs for Canada’s middle-class.”
Experts agree that developing and installing an adequate infrastructure throughout Canada is crucial in order increase EV sales across Canada.
The nature of the EV charge stations
Every new station will have a storage system that uses large-format lithium-ion batteries. There will be multiple outlets so that several cars will be able to charge at once. Each unit will be able to charge 3 cars at once.
The chargers are level 3 and typically use a 480 volt system. A vehicle can be fully charged in about half an hour. Level two chargers with 240 volt systems take about 8 to 100 hours. Ordinary level one 120 volt chargers take even longer. The different levels are described in this Manitoba Hydro release.
The 34 new stations will have 102 charging units spaced about 100 kilometres apart along 3,000 kilometres of the Trans-Canada Highway. The exact locations are not yet determined.
EV owners must wait a while before starting a trip
The stations are scheduled to be in operation by 2019.
Nevertheless Robert Elms, president of the Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association said: "I think it's terrific."
Elms noted that now the trip from Winnipeg Manitoba along the Trans Canada through northern Ontario is not practical for EV owners. There are at most level 2 chargers that can take up to 10 hours to charge a car. The newer level 3 chargers take only half an hour to an hour at most.
Bryan Urban, executive vice president of Leclanche North America, who is also president of Fast Charage a joint venture between Leclanche and eCamion said: "Vehicles will be able to power up during peak hours using off-peak energy and continue on their journey in a relatively similar amount of time it would take to fuel a fossil-fuel vehicle, grab a snack and visit a bathroom."
A study by Simon Fraser University in 2016 showed that there are only about 125 fully electric cars in Manitoba although there appear to be many hybrids often used by taxi companies. Ontario has more with 7,248 but no doubt most of those are in southern Ontario in larger cities.
The Canadian Automobile Association lists 18 charging stations within the city of Winnipeg. Going east on the Trans-Canada the next charging station is in Kenora a distance of 209 kilometers.
An EV charge station locater in Canada is provided by the CAA. The stations are rated in terms of the level of charge provided. There are nearly 6,000 across the country.
Previously published in Digital Journal

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Ticketing service MoviePass lowers price with promotion

MoviePass a subscription service that allows viewers to pay a monthly fee to watch movies across the US has slashed its prices again but just temporarily as part of a promotion to entice subscribers to take out a one-year subscription plan.
What is MoviePass and how does it work?
MoviePass is a US subscription-based movie ticketing service. It has headquarters in New York City.
The service allows subscribers to buy a single movie ticket each day with a monthly fee.
The service uses a mobile app. When users check into a theatre they choose a film and showing time. The cost of the ticket is then loaded to a prepaid debit card that is then used to buy the ticket in the usual way.
Savings when signing up for a one-year plan
The company announced a limited-time promotion, and it will lower its fee to $6.95 per month, three dollars less than the current $9.95, if customers sign up for a one-year plan. This would work out to a flat fee of $89.95 annually including a one time fee for starting the plan.
The new plan is being made available to both new and existing subscribers. If existing subscribers switch over, they receive a 25 percent saving on their present monthly plan.
This is just the latest pricing change by MoviePass
Originally, MoviePass charged $15 dollars for two movies a day per month and even more in select markets.
In August of this year it introduced a new plan of $9.95 per month with one movie per day. This move was so successful that the company had trouble meeting the demand.
Within a few days MoviePass gained 150,000 new users. The company claimed it had 400,000 by September and through October this had incresed to 600,000 subscribers. The turnover after a month and two month's use had declined as well.
Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY) now are majority owners
In August HMNY bought a $27 million stake in the firm and in October raised its stake to 53.71 percent of the company. HMNY announced this month that it intends to raise $100 million to increase its investment even more.
This capital influx has made it possible for MoviePass to subsidize the cost of its subscriptions to the benefit of subscribers. However, the company is operating in the red in order to grow its subscriber base.
The company hopes to convince theater owners that they are growing their customer base so that they will profit. It also believes that it can collect valuable data on its subscribers which it can sell in the future.
The company's MoviePass works at fully 91 percent of theaters across the US.
Some theater chains are not happy with MoviePass
Business Insider named MoviePass as one of the "25 most disruptive apps of 2012" and also part of "The Best of Everything in 2012". However, not all theaters are happy with Movie Pass.
After the price lowering in August this year, the chain AMC said that it was "actively working now to determine whether it may be feasible to opt out and not participate in this shaky and unsustainable program". AMC pointed out that MoviePass was losing money on every subscriber who saw two or more movies a month. With recent cuts to the fees, the company will lose even more. The issue is discussed on the appended video.
The business model the company used is similar to that of some health clubs. Customers pay for the service regularly but may use it only occasionally.
Other theater chains such as Regal and Cinemark are so far content to take a wait-and-see approach.
Ted Farnsworth, CEO of HMNY said about the new lower prices: " HMNY continues to be the biggest supporter of MoviePass, as it outpaces any other movie theater subscription service and continues to disrupt the movie theater industry. We look forward to helping MoviePass continue to broaden its reach and modernize the movie theater industry.”
reviously publishede in Digital Journal

Monday, November 27, 2017

Anit-piracy group targets illegal Kodi add ons

An anti-piracy alliance that is supported by major U.S. and U.K. movie studios has been able to force add on developers including jsergio 123 and The Alpha to no longer support their Kodi creations and shut them down.

What is Kodi?
Kodi is a free software media player platform that is available for many operating systems and also hardware platforms. Kodi has no content of its own but it allows users to play and view most streaming media, including videos, music, podcasts as well as all digital media files that are on local and network storage media.
The problem with Kodi is that third parties have created plug-ins or add ons that enable users to have access to copyrighted media content, that should only be available through subscription. There are many boxes available for playing material through Kodi. Some of the more popular are shown on the appended video.
The big media giants clamp down on Kodi's pirate add ons

The Alpha shut down support for its add ons after receiving a letter from the Motion Picture Association (MPA) that represents Columbia Pictures, Disney Enterprises, and Paramount Pictures among many other big players along with the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment(ACE) that includes Sky U.K. plus the Football Association Premier League.
The Alpha shut down the development and hosting of add ons such as urlresolver, metahandler, Bennu, DeathStreams and Sportie.
The letter identified the developer as responsible for third-party software that is able to provide "unlawful access to protected copyright material" The letter noted that The Alpha had been involved in the collection and upkeep of various streaming Kodi add ons. The development has frightened other developers enough that some other popular streaming devices are no longer available.
This is not the first attempt to stop piracy through Kodi add ons. In June, Dish Network sued TVAddons repository and was able to force ZemTV and Phoenix off line.
Although this is described in a recent article as bad news for Kodi, Kodi itself has from time to time tried to distance itself from the illegal add ons.
Often those interested in pirating find ways around attempts by authorities to shut them down as is shown by the continuation of sites such as Pirate Bay the torrent downloader.
My own experience with Kodi
Kodi is free. There is a download site here with downloads for all the systems it supports.
I have a Roku streaming media player connected to my TV. I use it to replace cable TV. I have not used Kodi as a streaming device to my TV since Roku achieves much the same purpose. Many no doubt purchase boxes that stream Kodi add ons replacing their cable channels.
While Kodi cannot be installed on Roku, material from Kodi can be mirrored on it.
I installed Kodi on two of my computers that run Windows ten but have used it for little except to add a global radio add on.
The are a huge number of video add ons and other types as well. However, there is also the free radio garden live which will also give you access to numerous stations around the world without the need of Kodi.
I also use Kodi to play video and music files I have stored on my hard drives and also on external hard drives.
Kodi also has a version that runs on Linux. No doubt many people will still find Kodi useful even without the illegal add ons.
I intend to download Kodi to a laptop I have connected to my TV through an HDMI cable. I can then stream content from the Kodi add ons to my TV.

Previously published in Digital Journal

Germany-based Siemens plans to slash around 6,900 jobs

Siemens announced it will cut about 6,900 jobs or close to two percent of its global work force. Most cuts, about 6,100 will be made at the Power and Gas division and will happen before 2020.

Solar and wind electricity production cut demand for turbines
The division once thrived as a it supplied large gas turbines used to generate electricity. The global surge in solar and wind power production has dampened demand.
Lisa Davis, a member of the Siemens management board said: “The power generation industry is experiencing disruption of unprecedented scope and speed. With their innovative strength and rapidly expanding generation capacity, renewables are putting other forms of power generation under increasing pressure. Today's action follows a nearly three-year effort to right-size the business for this changing marketplace."
The Process and Drives division that makes large drives for oil and gas extraction as well as turbines will also suffer a hit and could face forced layoffs.
The division had a low profit ratio last quarter of just 2.9 percent.
About half of the jobs cuts will be in Germany
The company did not specify the costs of the layoff which will be unpopular with many German politicians busy trying to form a new government.
IG Metall, the largest trade union in Germany was critical of Siemens management for not responding earlier to the crisis in conventional power generation. The union demanded there be no forced redundancies.
Juergen Kerner, of IG Metall and also a member of Siemens' supervisory board said: “Job cuts of this magnitude are totally unacceptable given the company is in an outstanding overall position.”
Brigitte Zypries, the German Economy Minister urged Siemens to treat workers fairly. She said that the company should ensure that sites in structurally weak areas be preserved: “The workers are very concerned and uncertain about their future. I hope that Siemens works closely with the unions to find fair solutions for the affected sites.”
Large Egyptian order kept turbine production humming up to now
As discussed in a recent Digital Journal article. Siemen's competitor General Electric (GE) is also cutting back on staff including in its power division.
A huge order from Egypt of 8 billion Euros or $9 billion for power generation kept Siemen's factories going for the last two years. Now that order is finished.
Demand and prices are down for turbines
There is now a huge overcapacity in the market and prices have plunged 30 percent since 2014.
Total demand for the turbines is expected to bottom at 110 turbines a year whereas there is a global manufacturing capacity of about 400 turbines according to Siemens.
Janina Kugel, in charge of group human resources at Siemens said: “The market is burning to the ground”.
A new company focus
As well as shedding some operations, Siemens appears poised to remodel itself as an industrial software company.
As well as listing its healthcare unit, Siemens is putting its wind and rail business into joint ventures.


Previously published in Digital Journal

Sunday, November 26, 2017

New Firefox 57 Quantum browser may challenge champion Chrome

Mozilla released its new Firefox Quantum browser. The new Firefox 57 is much faster than an earlier Firefox browser, twice as fast. Mozilla promised the new browser would deliver a big bang and it does.

 1 of 2 
In a speed test, the new Firefox 57 beat out Google Chrome the most popular browser at present.
Mozilla wants to keep the web open and competitive

Mozilla famously undermined the dominance Microsoft's Internet Explorer had over the browser field back in 2004. However its fortunes have sagged of late and Chrome has become dominant in the browser market. On phones and tablets Firefox has largely been sidelined.
David Smith an analyst at Gartner said: "Their mission is a good one and does keep pressure up to keep the web open." Gartner recommended that surfers use multiple modern browsers.
Mozilla wants to continue Firefox improvements

Mozilla undertook a complete overhaul of Firefox spending more than a year to achieve the new release. Firefox 57 represents an attempt to start fresh. This time around it will need to change to challenge the dominance of Chrome.
Mark Mayo senior vice president of Mozilla said: "We pulled ourselves up to and in some cases ahead of Chrome. We doubled the performance of Firefox this year. The tentative goal is can we double it again in 2018."
Firefox has a long way to go to catch Chrome
Once a person finds a browser that works for them, it may be difficult to persuade them to change. Microsoft, first with Internet Explorer and now with Edge, produces the default browser shipped with most computers with Windows operating systems. This was a huge advantage to Internet Explorer but Firefox was able to overcome this. Perhaps it can again as Chrome does not have that advantage.
According to a Cnet article Firefox has only a six percent share of the browser market while Chrome has 55 percent versus 15 percent for Apple's Safari.
If one just considers personal computers, Firefox still has just 13 percent to Chrome's 64 percent.
Trial versions released earlier have had a favorable response. Mayo said:"It's the biggest jump in sustained upswing in sentiment since I've been here." However, it remains to be seen whether this optimism is justified
Project Quantum overhauling FIrefox
Some improvements were released over the summer and perhaps helped stem the defections from Firefox. The Photon project changes tabs to rectangles and brings a new "page actions" menu within the address bar eliminating the need for a separate box to begin searches.
Another large part called Webender is due in early 2018.
Mayo said of the major overhaul: "Everything major we wanted to get in made it. ... It's almost certainly the biggest refactoring ever done in software engineering, at least in public. Seventy-five percent of the code base had to be touched. Almost five million lines of code were impacted."
There is also a new tool for taking screenshots and sharing them through Firefox.
The new Firefox is also described in another recent Digital Journal article. There may be some problems integrating the new Firefox with older extensions which will not be supported.
Yahoo search engine replaced by Google in U.S. and Canada
In spite of Google being a competitor with Chrome, Firefox has made Google the default search engine in the U.S. and Canada.
Denelle Dixon, Mozilla's Chief Business and Legal Officer said: "We exercised our contractual right to terminate our agreement with Yahoo based on a number of factors including doing what's best for our brand, our effort to provide quality web search, and the broader content experience for our users."
Outlook for the future
The new Quantum Render project should arrive with Firefox 59. This has just entered the testing stage. Render derives from Mozilla's experimental browser project called Servo.
The new Firefox architecture loads the part of websites you want first. Ads are a lower priority according to Mayo. There are many little speed boosts so that websites such as Facebook load faster.
Mayo touts Mozilla as the little guy taking on the giants: "What we've shown is you don't need to be one of the Frightful Five (Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook) to build software. People like that story. They want to believe it. At some level, everyone likes the David versus Goliath, little guy versus big guy thing."
The little guy needs to show a lot of browser users that there are good reasons to leave the Google giant Chrome.
To find out for yourself if Mayo's hype is justified, you can download the new Firefox 57 Quantum here.


Previously published in Digital Journal

In spite of more EVs on the road peak oil production not yet reached

In a new report the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) says that the demand for oil will decline only modestly in spite of the increasing use of electric vehicles (EVs) over the next two decades.

The IEA report "World Energy Outlook 2017" claims the global energy scene is in a state of flux. There is a rapid deployment of renewable technologies as there is a steep decline in their costs. Electricity is of growing importance as electric vehicles become more common.
The report notes that there are profound changes taking place in China's economy and energy policy with moves away from the use of coal. In the US there is a continued surge in shale gas and light oil production.
A recent update report released just this week points out that consumption of petrochemicals is still growing even as oil is facing competition from cheaper and more environmentally friendly energy sources.
Oil prices will continue to rise over next decade
Although the IEA has cut its longer term projection for oil prices, due to lower costs of renewable and conventional sources of energy as well as global attempts to mitigate climate warming, the price of oil is predicted to continue to rise toward $83 a barrel by the mid-2020s.
Over the longer term the IEA expect oil prices to settle within a range of $50 to $70 a barrel.
Untitled
Oregon Department of Transportation
A huge increase in number of EV's
By 2025 the IEA estimates that there will be about 50 million EV's in use. By 2040 this should climb to 300 million.
As of now there are only close to 2 million EVs on the road.
However even by 2040, EV use will cut only 2.5 million bpd or a mere 2 percent of global oil demand.
Laura Cozzi head of the Energy Demand Outlook division of the IEA said: "It's quite spectacular, because you're going to see the number of cars on the road (globally) double from 1 billion to 2 billion, thanks to electric vehicles and fuel economy standards. Many commentators say we are writing the obituary for oil demand ... it is certainly true in the passenger car segment and in power generation, but it is not true in the other two elements of oil demand: transportation and petrochemicals."
More power generation to come from renewables
Power generation will increasingly rely on renewables rather than on coal and oil.
The IEA estimates that more solar power capacity will be added each year than any other energy source, with an annual average increase of almost 70 gigawatts.
The IEA claims: "There are many possible pathways ahead and many potential pitfalls if governments or industry misread the signs of change."
United States appears poised to become leader in oil and gas production
The U.S. may become the most disruptive force on the supply of fossil fuels with its huge growth in shale oil production. By 2040 it may be the clear leader in oil and gas production.
Tim Gould head of the Energy Supply Outlook division of IEA said: "We are now witnessing a period of expansion in U.S. oil and gas production that matches or exceeds any historical records ever achieved by the oil and gas industry."
The IEA estimates the peak of US oil production will reach about 17 million bpd and will be reached during the 2020's.
The military as energy consumer
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is one of the largest energy consumers on the globe and is responsible for 93 percent of all U.S. government fuel consumption.
In 2006 the DoD used almost 30,000 gigawatt hours of electricity at a cost of close to $2.2 billion. This would be enough to supply about 2.6 million average US homes.
If the DoD were a country it uses slightly less than Denmark and a bit more than Syria.
Annually the DoD uses a humongous 4,600,000,000 of fuel annually. This is an average of 12,600,000 gallons or 48,000,000 liters a day. As a country the DoD would come just ahead of Sweden in daily oil usage.
The U.S. armed forces are making some attempts to become more green. The U.S. Air Force in particular is changing its planes to run on liquid synthetic fuel blends and also to use Hydrotreated Renewable jet fuel.


Previously published in Digital Journal


Bitcoin prices recover while bitcoin cash declines

(November 13)While bitcoin prices plunged over the weekend and bitcoin cash prices soared, today bitcoin is recovering and bitcoin cash prices are suffering a steep decline.

On Sunday, the price of bitcoin cash reached as high as $2,500 before falling back. On Monday, it dropped nearly 60 percent from that high. Bitcoin itself reversed course from its steep decline to as low as $5,550 and is reported in a Fortune article as being at $6,700.
Differing views as to what caused bitcoin prices to fall
It appears that after the original bitcoin failed to increase its block size many of those who had supported the plan to double the size sold off their bitcoin and bought bitcoin cash as they had already increased their block size by eight times the original.
The huge drive to buy bitcoin cash had cooled by Monday and was as low as $1,250 as of mid-morning.
Those supporting bitcoin cash claim that the surge in support for the coin showed that many supported the newer coin whereas others claimed that the whole rise and fall resulted from Chinese and others carrying out a "pump-and-dump " maneuver.
Some other analysts claim that part of the price gains of bitcoin cash were fueled by Korean speculators who were buying in the hopes that bitcoin cash did not lose its momentum.
Many speculators may have lost a bundle overnight
Those who bought bitcoin cash (BCH) near its peak of 2,4000 to 2,500 will find themselves with half of their money gone today.
However, the price at $1,250 is still over twice what it was as recently as November 7th when it was around $600 dollars. Not everyone is losing.
Business is booming for cryptocurrency exchanges

Price volatility has been accompanied by a surge in trading as there is a large value of transactions. The CEO of Chainalysis a firm specializing in forensic analysis of digital transactions claims that weekend volumes were high and resulted in fat trading fees.
Bitcoin cash does not appear to be dethroning bitcoin for now.
During bitcoins' crash and bitcoin cash's rise some were predicting that bitcoin cash would soon replace bitcoin as the dominant cryptocurrency.
Today's developments show that such a dramatic shift could be far in the future. The recovery of bitcoin's price also shows that the bubble may not have burst as many had been predicting-- that is assuming there is a bubble. What we can be sure of is that we cannot be sure what will happen next.
Present prices

As I write this on Monday evening bitcoin cash is priced at $1,239. Bitcoin itself is at $6,663.. Check the links for the prices at the time you read this. They could be quite different given the volatility of the coin prices.
The appended video has a lot of conspiracy flavoring.

Previously published in Digital Journal

Friday, November 24, 2017

US military spending incurs huge costs as US debt totals $20 trillion

Instead of defense and military spending in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere being accompanied by increased taxes or sale of bonds, taxes are about to be cut.

The U.S. government has been operating at a deficit since 2002 and the debt now totals $20 trillion. Yet the Republican tax plan is estimated to add $1.7 trillion to the national debt over the next decade.
Senator Jack Reed, of the Senate Armed Services Committee said: “We have to recognize that we have been borrowing for 16 years to pay for military operations. It’s the first time really in history with any major conflict that we have borrowed rather than ask people to contribute to the national defense directly, and the result is we’ve got this huge fiscal drag… that we’re not really accounting for or factoring into deliberations about fiscal policy as well as military policy.”
Pentagon cost estimates leave out important costs
The Pentagon's most recent estimate of what was spent on foreign wars since 2001 is also $1.5 trillion.
However many of the costs associated with the wars are not included. The Cost of War Project includes in costs security funding, care for veterans, and interest on the debt being created. Their latest report claims war-related costs from 2001 to 2017 come to over $4.3 trillion.
Interest on borrowing for war costs is humongous
Interest alone on borrowing to fund Overseas Contingency Operations has been so far $534 billion according to estimates of the Cost of War Project at Brown University.
Neta Crawford author of the report of the project and a political science professor at Boston University said: .“Even if the U.S. stopped spending on war at the end of this fiscal year, interest costs alone on borrowing to pay for the wars will continue to grow apace. By 2056, a conservative estimate is that interest costs will be about $8 trillion unless the U.S. changes the way that it pays for the wars.”
Congress committees pass $700 billion defense bill for 2018
The bill was passed by the Armed Service Committees of both the House and the Senate. The total amount is $85 billion more than the 2011 Budget Control Act allows.
Although Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia) claimed that the greatest threat to U.S. security was the national debt, he also argued that the Republican tax cuts were not increasing the problem. He called the cuts a short-term investment.
Perdue said: “You can’t fix this long-term problem unless you grow the economy and you’re not going to grow the economy unless you fix taxes."
Even if Democrats manage to block the Republican tax cuts the way in which U.S. overseas wars are funded still requires change.
Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies notes that earlier the U.S. had a relatively low debt but now that has changed and there will be downward pressure on defense budgets: “I think we’re in a different place now than we were in 2001. All of these factors did not exist then and now start to conspire to depress defense spending. They very well may weigh on the defense budget in the 2020s…Then when you combine that with tax cuts which are also going to make the deficit higher, it’s all putting downward pressure on defense budgets.”
Yet, US presence is continuing in both Iraq and Afghanistan and all signs are that borrowing will continue as before.


Published earlier in Digital Journal

Thursday, November 23, 2017

First all-weather road to Canadian Arctic Coast finally complete

Finally there is an all-weather gravel road from the hamlet or small town of Tuktoyaktuk on the Arctic coast of the Canadian Northwest Territories to the town of Inuvik to the south.
+ Add Image 1 of 2 
This is Canada's first permanent link to its Arctic coast.
The old ice road is replaced
For many years the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road, an ice road connected Inuvik with Tuktoyaktuk across the frozen MacKenzie River delta channels, and the frozen Arctic Ocean. The ice road was permanently closed on the 29th of April 2107 to be replaced this year by the new highway.
The new highway includes eight bridges and 359 culverts along its 120 kilometer length.
Tuktoyaktuk

The name in Inuvialuktun the language of the Inuvialiut means "looks like a caribou". The hamlet lies north of the Arctic Circle on the shore of the Arctic Ocean.
It used to be called Port Brabant but was renamed in 1950. It was the first place in northern Canada to revert to its traditional indigenous name. Often it is just referred to as "Tuk" as in the appended video.
The census of 2016 listed the population as 898 but the hamlet's website puts it at over 900.
Inuvik is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada and is the administrative centre for the Inu...
Inuvik is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada and is the administrative centre for the Inuvik Region.
© Town of Inuvik
Inuvik
The name means "place of man" in the native language. The town is the administrative center for the Inuvik region.
Inuvik is a larger town than Tuktoyaktuk with a population of 3,243 according to the 2016 census. The population varies from year to year as economic conditions change.
Inuvik has its own website.
Celebration of the highway opening
Darrel Nasogaluak, mayor of Tuk, is traveling down the highway to Inuvik for opening ceremonies to be held there. Later, he will join an official motorcade that will head back up north to Tuk.
There are to be parties celebrating the opening then in Tuk. As well as the mandatory speeches, there will be songs, fireworks and a community feast. Included will be favorite foods including caribou, reindeer, char, whale and muktuk.
Nasogaluak said: "It's something that's been on the community's want list for 40 years... I've traveled a lot of highways, but the scenery on this one is quite different."
A varying landscape
The road passes through a rolling landscape with tundra, lakes, and many stream crossings. It cost $300 million to build.
Wally Schumann Infrastructure Minister of the Northwest Territories (NWT) said: "When you come out of Inuvik, for about 20 kilometres you don't realize how much you're going uphill. The trees just get smaller and smaller and smaller and all of a sudden you're on the top of a mountain and there's no trees and you can see about 100 kilometres on both sides of the highway. It's an amazing feeling."
The highway was a long time coming
As early as the 1960's people began talking about the project. Surveys were begun way back in 1974.
The NWT government made the first proposal to the federal government in Ottawa in 1998. In 2009 after years of lobbying from the NWT as well as aboriginal and business groups the federal government granted $200 million in funding.
Construction began in earnest only in 2014.
Preparing for change
Nasogaluak says that the slow pace of construction has given the Tuk community plenty of time to prepare for the social and environmental impacts the new road will have on the community.
As shown on the appended video one plan is to paint buildings in the community. 2,000 cans of paint were donated by a southern company.
The local bed and breakfast has added rooms. The hamlet is also developing RV sites with public facilities.
Road should reduce costs
The road is expected to reduce the cost of living in Tuk by about $1.5 million a year by providing a year round reliable route for supplies. The saving is equivalent to about $1500 a year for each man, woman, and child in Tuk.
More roads needed
Schumann claims that the NWT infrastructure deficit is horrendous. The NWT will ask for other new roads that will open the huge territory to tourism and mineral exploration.
Schumann said: "Every dollar invested by the federal government into this type of infrastructure in the territories is not only going to benefit us, it's going to benefit all Canadians."



 1 of 2 
This is Canada's first permanent link to its Arctic coast.
The old ice road is replaced
For many years the Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road, an ice road connected Inuvik with Tuktoyaktuk across the frozen MacKenzie River delta channels, and the frozen Arctic Ocean. The ice road was permanently closed on the 29th of April 2107 to be replaced this year by the new highway.
The new highway includes eight bridges and 359 culverts along its 120 kilometer length.
Tuktoyaktuk
The name in Inuvialuktun the language of the Inuvialiut means "looks like a caribou". The hamlet lies north of the Arctic Circle on the shore of the Arctic Ocean.
It used to be called Port Brabant but was renamed in 1950. It was the first place in northern Canada to revert to its traditional indigenous name. Often it is just referred to as "Tuk" as in the appended video.
The census of 2016 listed the population as 898 but the hamlet's website puts it at over 900.
Inuvik is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada and is the administrative centre for the Inu...
Inuvik is a town in the Northwest Territories of Canada and is the administrative centre for the Inuvik Region.
© Town of Inuvik
Inuvik
The name means "place of man" in the native language. The town is the administrative center for the Inuvik region.
Inuvik is a larger town than Tuktoyaktuk with a population of 3,243 according to the 2016 census. The population varies from year to year as economic conditions change.
Inuvik has its own website.
Celebration of the highway opening
Darrel Nasogaluak, mayor of Tuk, is traveling down the highway to Inuvik for opening ceremonies to be held there. Later, he will join an official motorcade that will head back up north to Tuk.
There are to be parties celebrating the opening then in Tuk. As well as the mandatory speeches, there will be songs, fireworks and a community feast. Included will be favorite foods including caribou, reindeer, char, whale and muktuk.
Nasogaluak said: "It's something that's been on the community's want list for 40 years... I've traveled a lot of highways, but the scenery on this one is quite different."
A varying landscape
The road passes through a rolling landscape with tundra, lakes, and many stream crossings. It cost $300 million to build.
Wally Schumann Infrastructure Minister of the Northwest Territories (NWT) said: "When you come out of Inuvik, for about 20 kilometres you don't realize how much you're going uphill. The trees just get smaller and smaller and smaller and all of a sudden you're on the top of a mountain and there's no trees and you can see about 100 kilometres on both sides of the highway. It's an amazing feeling."
The highway was a long time coming
As early as the 1960's people began talking about the project. Surveys were begun way back in 1974.
The NWT government made the first proposal to the federal government in Ottawa in 1998. In 2009 after years of lobbying from the NWT as well as aboriginal and business groups the federal government granted $200 million in funding.
Construction began in earnest only in 2014.
Preparing for change
Nasogaluak says that the slow pace of construction has given the Tuk community plenty of time to prepare for the social and environmental impacts the new road will have on the community.
As shown on the appended video one plan is to paint buildings in the community. 2,000 cans of paint were donated by a southern company.
The local bed and breakfast has added rooms. The hamlet is also developing RV sites with public facilities.
Road should reduce costs
The road is expected to reduce the cost of living in Tuk by about $1.5 million a year by providing a year round reliable route for supplies. The saving is equivalent to about $1500 a year for each man, woman, and child in Tuk.
More roads needed
Schumann claims that the NWT infrastructure deficit is horrendous. The NWT will ask for other new roads that will open the huge territory to tourism and mineral exploration.
Schumann said: "Every dollar invested by the federal government into this type of infrastructure in the territories is not only going to benefit us, it's going to benefit all Canadians."


First published in Digital Journal: http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/travel/canadian-arctic-road-finally-completed-from-inuvik-to-tuktoyaktuk/article/507474#ixzz4zGwISyAl

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