Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Idaho Nat’l Lab: “Transforming The Energy Infrastructure”

by Andrew Hart November 15th, 2010

SUMMARY: In a July, 2010 report the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory advanced a five point strategy for the country to meet ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals in a way that best serves U.S. economic and security objectives. Key recommendations include: reduce energy consumption fractionally each year; cut gasoline and diesel consumption 70 percent from 2009 levels by 2050; continue to replace coal-fired electric power with that produced from renewable energy sources; increase use of nuclear power to produce electricity; and if technically feasible, deploy carbon-capture and sequestration technology for “clean coal”-derived electricity. The cost of the comprehensive plan detailed in the INL report would be about $3.85 trillion over forty years and would entail a 54 percent increase in the cost of energy by 2050. However, the INL report posits that the costs are justifiable because the strategy would comprise a self-sufficient, predictable and secure approach to meeting our nation’s future energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction needs, versus the current unsustainable approach.

Figure E-2, Emissions Reductions Required To Meet Objectives

U.S. Congressional Commission: China Human Rights Suffer In 2010

by Matt Rosenberg November 1st, 2010

SUMMARY: An annual report issued in October by the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) identifies serious shortcomings in observance of human rights and the rule of law in China in 2010. The U.S. monitors conditions there in accordance with 2000 legislation tied to China’s entrance to the World Trade Organization and in connection with the The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, plus the International Covenant On Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights. The report accents substantial restraints on freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of political expression and freedom of movement. It also highlights illegal detentions, denial of labor rights, forced abortions. To help develop its annual reports and to inform the public, CECC issues detailed news summaries, typically several times weekly, at its Virtual Academy blog on human rights in China, and maintains a database of Chinese political prisoners.

BACKGROUND: The U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000 created the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission On China (CECC), when China was seeking membership in the World Trade Organization. CECC’s mission is to monitor compliance by Chinese authorities with international human rights standards, to assess development of the rule of law in China, and maintain updated lists of Chinese political prisoners. The commission issues an annual report every October. Its membership is nine senators and nine members of the U.S. House. Currently, the exeuctive’s appointments have not been filled.

KEY LINK: Congressional-Executive Commission On China Annual Report, 2010, 10/10/10

KEY FINDINGS:

Political prisoners in Chinese black jails

  • “…human rights conditions in China over the last year have deteriorated.” Changes to the old order “have yet to produce legal institutions in China that are consistently and reliably transparent, accessible and predictable.”
  • The government and private companies operating in accordance with existing law continue to block or remove political and religious content from the Internet and other communications channels “non-transparently and without clearly articulated standards.”
  • The “prior restraint” system has been strengthened. Not only must domestic news publishers and journalists be licensed by the government on the basis of conditions including loyalty, but in March 2010 the government announced that entry requirements to the country for journalists would include passing an exam demonstrating knowledge of “Chinese Communist Party journalism” and “Marxist views” on news.
  • All smaller labor unions must affiliate with the one large official union controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU). Fueled by low wages and a tight labor market, worker actions grew but authorities redirected disputes away from arbitration and litigation to “local government and Party units, the official trade union, and the police and security apparatus.”
  • Public Data Ferret On KOMO 1000: The High Level Nuclear Waste Disposal Challenge

    by Matt Rosenberg September 3rd, 2010

    On my latest regular weekly KOMO-AM 1000 segment featuring the work of our Public Data Ferret project, Wednesday Sept. 1, I spoke with co-anchor Nancy Barrick and guest anchor Bill Rice about the challenge the U.S. faces in developing a policy for long term disposal of high level nuclear waste. The conversation stemmed from a white paper published at the Ferret site. Here’s the audio of the radio segment. The transcript follows.

    Public Data Ferret On KOMO 1000: U.S. Senate Testimony On Fraud At For-Profit Colleges

    by Matt Rosenberg August 12th, 2010

    A federal investigative report on fraud at for-profit colleges plus related U.S. Senate testimony from an industry insider and a financial expert were at the center of my regular weekly segment today on the work of our Public Data Ferret project, at KOMO-AM 1000 News Radio in Seattle. Here’s the original Ferret write-up, as well as the audio of the segment. The transcript follows.

    Brian Calvert: “1.8 million students headed back to a non-traditional classroom this fall. Matt Rosenberg of communityforums.org on the line with us, and Matt, we’re referring in this instance to for-profit colleges. What are some of the names that would be familiar if we’re talking about non-profit institutions?”

    Matt Rosenberg: “Well, University of Phoenix, Art Institute Of Seattle, Everest University, Argosy University, Kaplan University, to name a few.”

    Nancy Barrick: “Alright. These are for-profit colleges. You looked into a report where several of these schools have been investigated. What are they looking at?”

    Matt Rosenberg: “Senate testimony last week has shined a glaring spotlight on ethically and financially troubling practices by the big national corporations and other stake-holders that run these for-profit colleges. There was an investigation by the Government Accountability Office plus reports to the Senate from an industry insider – a recruiter who worked in the boiler room – and a financial expert. And what they told the Senate is disturbing. The picture is this: high pressure sales tactics, price gouging, rocketing default rates on the federal loans to students at these for-profit colleges, plus deceptive marketing. Prices are lowballed, accreditation is fudged, and the credits often don’t transfer to other schools or aren’t accepted by employers. So, the emerging picture is that the issues are systemic, not isolated.”