Saturday, March 28, 2009

MN: State House energy panel votes no on lifting nuclear ban`

A state law prevents new nuclear power plants from being built in Minnesota, and some say that means nuclear can't even be part of a discussion about the state's future energy needs.

******Environmental opposition chills plans for coal plants

But even here, lawsuits over global warming and the changing political landscape in Washington are pummeling an industry that has long been the backbone of America's power supply.

Online, planted deniers drive a blinkered fiction

In cyberspace, by contrast, the response spreading fastest and furthest is flat-out denial.

Skeptic Arguments

This is a list of every skeptic argument encountered online as well as how often each argument is used. How this is calculated...

Number of chronically hungry tops 1bn

The number of chronically hungry people has surpassed the 1bn mark for the first time as the economic crisis compounds the impact of high food prices, the United Nations' top agriculture official has warned.

A timeline of the planned G20 protests

Friday, 27 March: _ Early morning — Activists begin distributing alternative literature at London subway stations.

Saturday, 28 March: _ 11 a.m. — Church leaders hold an ecumenical service for protesters in Westminster....

****Gauging the Prospects for Nuclear Power in the Obama Era

On Capitol Hill and elsewhere, there are growing doubts over just how much the Obama administration really means it [commitment to nuclear].

Three Mile Island still haunts U.S. nuclear industry

Thirty years later, the U.S. nuclear power industry is attempting a revival, citing reactors' ability to generate electricity without the climate-threatening carbon emissions that spew from coal-fired generators.

*****Halt All Carbon Emissions by 2050, Says Worldwatch

To avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, world carbon emissions will have to drop to near zero by 2050 and "go negative" after that, the Worldwatch Institute reported.

***** Coal-fired electricity costs [ARE REALLY!!!] double!!!


****G.E.’s Green Chief: Bullish on Clean-Tech Future

Steve Fludder, the vice-president of General Electric's "Ecomagination" unit, which concentrates on developing green technologies, expressed optimism Wednesday that deals would start flowing again in the wake of the stimulus bill — but said that his business was still feeling the force of the financial crisis.

UN lauds effort to reforest Appalachia's mountains

Sam Adams laid his tools aside and gently pushed fresh dirt around an oak sapling he hopes one day will be part of a hardwood forest high above this Appalachian community.

Millions to flick the switch for climate change

Millions of people across the globe will kill their lights for one hour this Saturday, in what organisers hope will be a resounding call for tough action on climate change. The waters of Sydney Harbour will be plunged into darkness for an hour from 8:30 pm (0930 GMT) as the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge dim their lights.

Key Senate panel backs Obama's budget blueprint

A key Senate panel stacked with allies of President Barack Obama approved his ambitious budget blueprint Thursday, giving the president a symbolic endorsement of efforts to boost clean energy, fight global warming and improve access to health care.

Why the Copenhagen climate change cliffhanger could drag on a little longer

Wrangling between China and US threatens to put back December deadline

Minister insists UK is on track to meet its Kyoto targets as emissions fall 2%

BRITAIN'S greenhouse gas emissions fell 2 per cent in 2008. Statistics from the Department for Energy and Climate Change show that UK emissions are now about a fifth lower than they were in 1990.

Sweden committed to climate change reforms

CLIMATE CHANGE "will be an absolute focus" of Sweden's presidency of the European Union from July 1st when it takes over from the crisis-stricken Czech Republic, according to Swedish environment minister Andreas Carlgren.

Climate Talks Look to U.S. Role

When the Obama administration makes its debut in the international climate-change debate at talks next week, expectations will be high: Europe hopes the U.S. can help end a standoff between rich and poor countries over how to share the burden of cutting carbon emissions.

What is the smart grid?

At the Green: Net '09 Conference in San Francisco, Jesse Berst, managing director of Global Smart Energy, breaks the smart grid down into three components: smart devices, two-way communication, and advanced control systems.

Ethernet co-inventor offers advice on smart grid

At the GreenNet conference held in San Francisco this week, Ethernet co-inventor Bob Metcalfe said the smart grid should capitalize on the abundance of alternative energy.

U.S. Raises Auto Fuel-Economy to 27.3 MPG for 2011

Cars and light trucks will be required to meet a U.S. fuel-economy average of 27.3 miles per gallon for 2011 models, a 2 mpg increase from the previous year's level, the Transportation Department said.

Thai protesters bar PM from office as rally drags on

Thousands of anti-government protesters stopped Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva from entering his office on Friday and vowed to continue their siege until he stepped down.

Obama Afghan strategy not just about bullets, bombs

The new Afghan war strategy unveiled Friday by US President Barack Obama goes beyond "bullets and bombs" to a plan to overhaul international aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

Dismissing past aid efforts as ill-organized and underfunded, it calls for a civilian surge in Afghanistan to match the military one as well as for a 7.5 billion dollar development plan and special economic zones for Pakistan.

Friday, March 27, 2009

An All-Electric Sedan, Awaiting Federal Aid
Tesla Motors on Thursday unveiled its Model S, an all-electric sedan it hails as the beginning of a generation of fossil-fuel-free cars and a profitable company.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Barack Obama's pledges in peril as Blue Dogs take a bite at budget

President Obama was huddled in talks yesterday with congressional Democrats over proposals that would pare his $3.6 trillion budget, raising question marks over how he would fund promises on healthcare, climate change and tax cuts.

Although the President was braced for ferocious opposition from Republicans, who warn that his spending plans will bankrupt America, he also faces growing hostility from a group of fiscally conservative Democrats alarmed by forecasts of a $9.3 trillion (£6.3 trillion) deficit over ten years.

Water Worries Shape Local Energy Decisions
Scarcity Forces Electricity Companies to Rethink Power-Plant Plans, Providing an Opening for Renewable Sources

Fake Punt: Obama’s Energy Plans Mean Climate Plans, Too
President Obama spoke plenty about energy and the environment in last night's press conference. So, did the president punt on plans to tackle climate change?

The Washington Post edit page thinks so. Asked twice if including a cap-and-trade plan was a pre-condition for signing any congressional budget, "Mr. Obama demurred," the Post says.

Did he? While he didn't straight out say that cap-and-trade is a deal breaker for his budget, he made clear two things: Climate legislation is an inextricable part of his energy agenda; and his energy agenda is non-negotiable.

*** Obama makes bold climate bill prediction: 'We'll get it done'
President Obama struck an optimistic note last night on the prospects for signing a major global warming law, pledging also to craft a bill that takes into account economic concerns and the country's regional differences over energy production.

ENVIRONMENT: Has Mountaintop Mining Peaked?
Activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is praising the Obama administration for moving to stop "the greatest environmental tragedy ever to befall our nation" while the coal industry says the administration has put tens of thousands of jobs at risk throughout Appalachia. But federal officials say they have done neither. Still, it was easy to see why people might be confused.

Corps escalates mountaintop removal mining fight
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials on Wednesday escalated a fight with the Environmental Protection Agency over the regulation of mountaintop removal coal mining. Read more in Coal Tattoo

At the same time, coalfield politicians rushed to insist that new policies should not threaten strip-mining jobs, while environmental groups urged a broader discussion of transitioning to more underground mining and finding "green jobs" for the Appalachian region.

Better Health For All: Critical To Reduce Population Growth & Poverty

Ensuring basic health care for people in low-income countries is critical to the Plan B goal of eradicating poverty and stabilizing population.

At the Earth Policy Institute, we note that while heart disease, cancer, obesity, and smoking dominate health concerns in industrial countries, in developing countries infectious diseases are the overriding health concern. Besides AIDS, the principal diseases of concern are diarrhea, respiratory illnesses, tuberculosis, malaria, and measles. Child mortality is high.

Overpopeulation: The Church’s Condom Code and Demographic Disaster
Last week, Pope Benedict XVI told reporters that condoms exacerbate the spread of the HIV virus. Put another way: Last week, the Catholic Church confirmed, yet again, that it is stubbornly dogmatic, shamefully tone-deaf and far too willing to wield its influence in a grossly irresponsible and socially destructive way.

Why the Copenhagen Climate Change Cliffhanger Could Drag on a Little Longer
Officials are reluctant to admit as much, but Bob Watson, chief scientist at the UK environment department Defra, broke ranks when he told the Guardian last year: "If there's major agreement but they can't get everyone to sign on the dotted line they might have to come back a few months later. I say let's really push for Copenhagen, but there may have to be what I call a Copenhagen plus one."

The climate cliffhanger could drag on a little longer yet.

Barack Obama may be forced to delay signing up to a new international agreement on climate change
Obama may delay signing up to Copenhagen climate deal Barack Obama may be forced to delay signing up to a new international agreement on climate change in Copenhagen at the end of the year because of the scale of opposition in the US Congress, it emerged today.Senior figures in the Obama administration have been warning Labour counterparts that the president may need at least another six months to win domestic support for any proposal.Such a delay could derail the securing of a tough global agreement in time for countries and markets to adopt it before the Kyoto treaty runs out in 2012.American officials would prefer to have the approval of Congress for any international agreement and fear that if the US signed up without it there would be a serious domestic backlash.

Pres. Obama speaks against mountaintop removal

"This is one of those things where I want science to help lead us," Obama said. "I will tell you that there's some pretty country up there that's been torn up pretty good. "I will also tell you that the environmental consequences of the runoff from some of these mountains can just be horrendous. … Not taking that into account because of short-term economic concerns, I think, is a mistake. I think we have to balance economic growth with good stewardship of the land God gave us."

****EPA to review mountaintop removal's impact on water quality
U.S. EPA announced plans today to review permitting for mountaintop mining to assess the impacts of those projects on water quality and aquatic life.

Activist or terrorist? Mild-mannered eco-militant serving 22 years for arson
Mason's lawyer, John Minock, who filed an appeal against the sentence last week, argues that 22 years is excessively harsh. Mason got a much longer sentence than several militants recently convicted of setting fire to logging camps and vehicles in Oregon and Washington states – including Stanislas Meyerhoff who received 13 years for setting 11 fires and causing $30m in damage.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stimulus Appears to Be Sparking Alt-Energy Revival
There are signs that the federal stimulus might be pumping a little life into the alternative-energy industry.

Financiers and law firms specializing in renewable energy say they see growing interest in reviving moribund projects and breaking ground on new deals. And while big banks that have braced the industry's backbone are still on the fence, some hedge funds and private equity and venture capital firms are cautiously looking to take advantage of stimulus provisions that temporarily eliminate the need for tax equity financing, which has long been a mainstay for renewable energy projects.

Carbon cap-and-trade system coming soon, energy adviser says
'My goodness, this is a president who clearly campaigned as if he believed what he was saying.' That comes as a shocker to a lot of people."

Obama's system would force coal-fired power plants -- which generate half of U.S. electricity -- and other large emitters, including oil and gas producers, to buy permits to release carbon into the atmosphere.

The ice caps are in trouble

Polar ice is melting at such an alarming rate the rest of the world can't help but feel the heat, reports Marian Wilkinson.

Before the summer heatwave hit Australia in January, climate scientists around the world were already turning their attention in our direction.

The popular belief that Antarctica might be resistant to global warming was punctured with new research based on data from satellites and weather stations, confirming that for the past 50 years, much of the continent has been warming at the same rate as the rest of the planet.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Obama pledges billions for renewable energy projects

Barack Obama today declared the billions of dollars he is planning to spend on renewable energy projects off-limits to the usual bartering over the next few weeks with Congress.

The president, on the first day of a week-long blitz aimed at selling his ambitious $3tn (£2tn) spending budget, said the $129bn allocated for encouraging the use of solar power, hybrid cars and renewable energy projects would not be subject to any of the usual wheeling and dealing between the White House and Congress.

******The potential catastrophe that global climate change could unleash on America makes every other foreign policy crisis pale in comparison.
Scott Ritter:  The potential catastrophe that global climate change could unleash on America makes every other foreign policy crisis pale in comparison. Recognizing the importance of proactive, as opposed to reactive, policy to head off these looming problems, President Obama has crafted a national policy designed to address the principal underlying cause of global climate change: greenhouse gas emissions.

******Democrats to shelve fast-track process on climate bill, for now
Capitol Hill Democrats are expected to bypass the fast-track budget process for global warming legislation but plan to keep the option open later this year if they cannot win bipartisan support on one of President Obama's signature agenda items.

EPA Presses Obama To Regulate Warming Under Clean Air Act
The Environmental Protection Agency's new leadership, in a step toward confronting global warming, submitted a finding that will force the White House to decide whether to limit greenhouse gas emissions under the nearly 40-year-old Clean Air Act.

I'd Rather Go Naked Than Burn MTR Coal: Abolitionist Movement Grows

It is time to abolish mountaintop removal mining, not regulate it. That is the fervent message being spread from community to community, and state to state, now that scores of ANFO explosive-packing mountaintop removal permits stand at the doors of the Army Corps of Engineers, ready to be issued after the recent 4th Circuit Court ruling.

Three million pounds of ammonium nitrate fuel oil explosives are being detonated daily in Appalachia.

Obama officials in 'transition' on mountaintop removal rules
Obama administration officials are reviewing possible changes in how mountaintop removal coal mining will be regulated, a government lawyer told a federal judge Monday morning.

But administration officials are not ready to release more detailed information about their review of the issue or what new policies they are considering.

EPA rules under the Clean Air Act aren't the way to do the job. But a carefully crafted tax might be.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency has told the White House that global warming is endangering public health and welfare, The Post's Juliet Eilperin reported yesterday. This "finding" under the Clean Air Act may seem like a no-brainer, given the potential ill effects of climate change. But that law, enacted in 1970, was never intended to deal with greenhouse gases and is not suited to that task. The Bush administration's failure to tackle climate change directly drove states and environmental advocates to seek back-door paths to regulation. If this one goes forward, the EPA would have to regulate greenhouse gases from all sources, including cars, houses and commercial buildings. This would create what Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) has called "a glorious mess." Congress should avert it putting a price on carbon.

Economy Trumps Environment in Poll
For the first time in Gallup's 25-year history of asking Americans about the trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth, a majority of Americans say economic growth should be given the priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.

How Do You Build the World’s Biggest Wind Farm?
We recently learned that Denmark plans on building the world's largest wind farm. With a net installed capacity of 209 MW, Horns Rev 2 (companion to Horns Rev 1) will provide power to 200,000 homes. The North Sea offshore wind farm is scheduled for completion later this year.

Opposing wind farms should be socially taboo, says Ed Miliband

Opposition to wind farms should become as socially unacceptable as failing to wear a seatbelt, Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, has said.

Speaking at a screening in London of the climate change documentary The Age of Stupid, Miliband said the government needed to be stronger in facing down local opposition to wind farms.

Erosion causing Lake Victoria to shrink

Indiscriminate destruction of forests and other forms of environmental degradation on the slopes of Mt Elgon pose a major threat to the survival of Lake Victoria.

The Western provincial commissioner said that about 20 million tonnes of silt are washed down the lake daily, causing the water level to fall. The slopes account for 80 percent of this soil.

Currently, the water levels have dropped by 10 metres.

Monday, March 23, 2009

****Worldchanging Interview: Amory Lovins

JL: How long do you think it would take to build a carbon-neutral prosperity in America?

AL: Several decades, partially because of the amount of capital stock we have to fix up or turn over. But it's time to get started. There's a Chinese proverb that the best time to plant a tree is 100 years ago, and the second best time is today.

****** Thatcher’s Science Adviser To GOP: Fighting Global Warming Is Winning Issue
"Connecting with ordinary people as opposed to the chattering classes, and standing up to the Goebbels-like persistent noise from the liberal media on global warming is imperative for Republicans.  If they can do this and make the case that environmental regulation dealing with this issue will hurt the middle-class and the poor, then they can win [in 2010]."

World Must Work Together To Use Water Wisely
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has underscored the potential of water as a unifying force rather than a catalyst for conflict, stressing that the world's collective future depends on how it manages this precious resource. "More than ever we need to work together to use it wisely," Mr. Ban said in a message to mark World Water Day, observed annually on 22 March.

500 People Protest Coal Mining Exploration and Export, Newcastle Coal Mine Port Brought To a Standstill
More than 500 people protested coal mining and exports currently underway. Newcastle Harbour is already the world's biggest coal port.

Several hundred paddled into the harbour on a fleet of canoes provided by protest organisers. Others brought their own canoes or surfboards, or even homemade rafts.

Too Many People, Too Much Consumption
However, in the last several centuries we've increasingly been using our relatively newly acquired power, especially our culturally evolved technologies, to deplete the natural capital of Earth — in particular its deep, rich agricultural soils, its groundwater stored during ice ages, and its biodiversity — as if there were no tomorrow.

The point, all too often ignored, is that this trend is being driven in large part by a combination of population growth and increasing per capita consumption, and it cannot be long continued without risking a collapse of our now-global civilization.

Japan Joins the Race for Uranium Amid Global Expansion of Nuclear Power
Energy-hungry Japan is revving up its drive to secure uranium abroad as global demand for nuclear power rises amid stubbornly high oil and gas prices and growing environmental concerns. Major Japanese trading and energy firms are looking at multibillion yen investments in uranium mine projects, with electronics conglomerate Toshiba in February purchasing Westinghouse, the US power plant arm of British Nuclear Fuels, for about US$5.4 billion. Meanwhile, the government, which attaches great importance to nuclear power as a key to ensuring national energy security, is also considering assistance to help domestic firms in the intensifying global competition for fuel at nuclear power plants.

Turbines will soon churn in 11 Minnesota cities
Recycled turbines that turn renewable wind energy into electricity are expected to begin appearing this summer in Anoka, Buffalo, North St. Paul and eight other Minnesota cities that are part of a power agency.

As climate changes, is water the new oil?
If water is the new oil, is blue the new green?

Translation: if water is now the kind of precious commodity that oil became in the 20th century, should delivery of clean water be the same sort of powerful political force as the environmental movement in an age of climate change?

And, in another sense of green, is there money to be made in a time of water scarcity?

***** Case against climate change melting away
large corporations such as Exxon Mobil, which in the past financed the Heartland Institute and other groups that challenged the climate consensus, have reduced support. Many such companies no longer dispute that the greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels pose risks.

Start L. has been quite ill - slowing the rate of posting. Health returning. Rate of posts should improve now.

**** Texas to become, as some put it, the Saudi Arabia of carbon disposal.
Nearly two dozen bills before the Legislature, by Republicans and Democrats, would thrust Texas into the national debate on dealing with climate change. Their aims range from capping the state's CO2 emissions to positioning Texas to become, as some put it, the Saudi Arabia of carbon disposal.

We have 100 months (now 93) until the irreversible Tipping Point  (click on the countdown clock)
We calculate that 100 months from 1 August 2008, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases
will begin to exceed a point whereby it is no longer likely we will be able to avert potentially
irreversible climate change.


Powerful wind turbines churned the air above La Muela last week but the stir in this small Aragonese town was caused by the arrest of the mayor and 18 other people on charges that reveal a new phenomenon in Spain: eco-corruption.

Windswept La Muela, with its 500 giant windmills, has become one of Spain's richest towns on the back of what is the new gold for rural communities - renewable energy. Eight years ago, the wind energy companies that provide up to 40% of Spain's electricity on blustery days came looking to plant their turbines. These now line the hills outside the town and form neat patterns across the plain.

Global Green New Deal needed to save planet
Scientists are no longer mincing their words on the dangers posed by global climate change

LAST WEEK'S international scientific conference in Copenhagen, Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges Decisions, was intended to inform the agenda of next December's UN summit in the Danish capital and to put pressure on politicians worldwide to deal with the growing threat posed by global warming.

5 Myths on Nuclear Power
Thirty years ago this week, a chain of errors and equipment malfunctions triggered the defining event in the history of American nuclear power: the accident at Three Mile Island.

******Recession Killing Obama Climate Plan

Congress is trying to fast track healthcare reform. But Obama's cap-and-trade plan? Not so much. And these Gallup poll numbers give you some perspective as to why: "For the first time in Gallup's 25-year history of asking Americans about the trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth, a majority of Americans say economic growth should be given the priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent."

Economy 51 percent, environment 42 percent. Here is the party ID breakdown: Republicans 64-31, Independents 50-42, Democrats 44-50. (A new Gallup poll also shows support for nuclear energy soaring.)

US installed solar capacity up 17 pct in 2008

"Increasingly, solar energy has proven to be an economic engine for this country, creating thousands of jobs, unleashing billions in investment dollars and building new factories from New Hampshire to Michigan to Oregon," said Resch.

Solar lags behind wind energy in terms of installed U.S. capacity. Wind energy grew in 2008 by 8,538 MW, more than the total installed solar capacity. The annual survey by the American Wind Energy Association issued in January showed total installed capacity of about 25,170 MW.

The top states in wind power were Texas at 7,116 MW, Iowa at 2,790 MW and California at 2,517 MW.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stimulus seen sowing seeds for renewable energy's revival
Financiers and law firms specializing in renewable energy say they see growing interest in reviving moribund projects and breaking ground on new deals. And while big banks that have braced the industry's backbone are still on the fence, some hedge funds and private equity and venture capital firms are cautiously looking to take advantage of stimulus provisions that temporarily eliminate the need for tax equity financing, which has long been a mainstay for renewable energy projects.

Marching for water in Los Angeles

Organizers of a Los Angeles March for Water, part of an international World Water Day movement, are expecting thousands to turn up for the three-mile march Sunday. Participants will protest water waste and pollution in Southern California, as well as draw attention to a global water crisis, according to the group.

The march comes at a time when Los Angeles, the nation's second largest city,  faces a possible water shortage and has raised rates for heavy users.

Seven in 10 biologists believe that mass extinction poses a colossal threat to human existence
Throughout the 20th century the causes of extinction - habitat degradation, overexploitation, agricultural monocultures, human-borne invasive species, human-induced climate-change - increased exponentially, until now in the 21st century the rate is nothing short of explosive. The World Conservation Union's Red List - a database measuring the global status of Earth's 1.5 million scientifically named species - tells a haunting tale of unchecked, unaddressed, and accelerating biocide.

China dust storm: Global dimming starts here
If the stars seem a little less bright and the skies less clear later this year, then part of the reason will be the Gobi gunk that has been blown into the Earth's atmosphere over the past few days.

Global dimming has many causes, but new research and recent weather reports from China suggest soil erosion and industrial development is a major element in the loss of clarity in the planet's skies.

A Great Wave Rising: The Coming Crisis in Water Policy in America
One of the greatest crises ever experienced in fish and wildlife management is currently building — the great wave of water policy conflict. The combination of rapid development and climate change will change everything we know about water availability and water quality in America. The clock is ticking. The time of crisis is nearly upon us.

When it comes to global warming Americans trust scientists most, family and friends second
According to the poll, 82 percent of Americans trust scientists on climate change with 28 percent saying that they strongly trust scientists. Americans also trust those close to them: 77 percent said they trusted family and friends when it came to information about climate change. Environmental organizations were trusted by 66 percent of those polled, making it third.

Chinese hold U.S. feet to fire on global warming

But tough talk came from Xie Zhenhua, a member of the central committee of the Chinese Communist Party and head of China's Climate Change and Coordinating Committee.

"China is not a country that does nothing: On the contrary, we have done a lot," Xie said Wednesday. He ticked off a list of market-based measures such as financial incentives and taxes used by China to cut emissions.

Cantwell and Xie both spoke at a Washington, D.C., symposium sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"The United States is in the same boat," Xie added. "They just talk about it but there are no actions, and we don't even know whether Congress will pass it."

Pioneering ecologist to head NOAA,0,373783.story
Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State says she's eager to take on issues including global warming, polluted coastal waters and severely depleted fish populations.

UK: Climate change protest in City

CLIMATE change activists who are planning a protest in the City at next month's G20 summit are to begin their demonstration tonight.

More than 1,000 activists are expected to arrive in Bishopsgate for a "weekend of activity" ahead of a plan to camp out for the duration of the convention of world leaders.

The group Climate Camp will spend this evening playing hunting games to familiarise themselves with the area and tomorrow there will be a day-long seminar discussing the problems of carbon trading.

Violence at Indonesian Greenpeace protest
Greenpeace activists and security guards clashed outside the headquarters of Indonesia's biggest logging and palm oil company, the Sinar Mas Group, in Jakarta Thursday, environmentalists said.

Activists said they were punched and kicked by guards and police as they tried to protest against alleged illegal land-clearing in Indonesia's vast eastern Papua region and on Borneo island.

"The excessive violence today by Sinar Mas security is testament to the way this company does business," Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest campaigner Bustar Maitar said in a statement.

Quake-hit town split over reactor restart
Residents of a remote village in Niigata Prefecture must choose between jobs and safety as they weigh a request to restart the world's biggest nuclear plant, shut for more than a year after a deadly earthquake triggered a fire and radiation leaks.

Support for Nuclear Energy Inches Up to New High

Support for nuclear energy had been fairly steady in the mid-50% range since Gallup first asked about it in 1994, apart from a 46% reading in 2001. The percentage who say they strongly favor nuclear energy had also been fairly stable at around 20%, before increasing to 27% this year.

Gallup has always found consistent and large gender differences in Americans' views of nuclear power, and the same applies this year -- 71% of men favor the use of nuclear energy, compared with only 47% of women. Both groups show their highest level of support for nuclear power to date.

The push for a more intelligent grid
Electrocrats have been plugging the "smart grid" for years. Now others have joined them. Barack Obama's stimulus package contains about $4.5 billion in grants for smart-grid investments and regional demonstrations. GE is promoting the smart grid with ads that show a scarecrow singing "If I only had a brain" from "The Wizard of Oz" while bouncing along an old power line. In January Mr Obama declared that a smart grid could "save us money, protect our power sources from blackout or attack, and deliver clean, alternative forms of energy to every corner of our nation"—grand goals indeed.