Assange gets 50 weeks in UK jail. Extradition to US probable

Judge's remarks at Assange sentencing
Judge’s remarks at Assange sentencing

Julian Assange was just sentenced to 50 weeks in British jail for jumping bail. The judge was clearly annoyed at Assange and his lame arguments, like him saying time spent in the Ecuador embassy should count against his sentence. Nope, she said, you were there voluntarily and could have left at any time.

Assange will probably serve 25 weeks, assuming he doesn’t violate any conditions of his imprisonment. The US has an indictment against Assange for one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, and presumably will attempt to extradite. A superseding indictment of far more serious charges is almost certain. The current charge is basically a placeholder. It is not a given Assange will be allowed bail out after being released if the US wants extradition.

Judge’s remarks:

Whilst you may have had fears as to what may happen to you, nonetheless you had a choice, and the course of action you chose was to commit this offence in the manner and with the features I have already outlined. In addition, I reject the suggestion that your voluntary residence in the Embassy should reduce any sentence. You were not living under prison conditions, and you could have left at any time to face due process with the rights and protections which the legal system in
this country provides.

In respect of this offence you would fall to be released after serving half of the sentence, subject to
being returned to custody if you commit any further offences during the remainder of your licence
period. That of course is subject to the conditions and outcome of any other proceedings against
you.

Human Rights lawyer Karen Todler says Assange may try various ploys to avoid extradition however she doubts they will be successful.

“I think he’s got a chance, but I think it’s going to be very, very difficult for him and I can’t see him being successful.

“He has worn down the patience of the judiciary by hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years.

“I feel quite confident that the judiciary will have to be impartial, but if there was any good will, it’s been exhausted.”

Wave energy for Hawaii now a real possibility

Ocean Energy wave energy buoy, with turbine above water.
OceanEnergy

Ocean Energy in Ireland is teaming with Vigor Engineering in Portland to build an 826 ton wave energy turbine that will be tested in Hawaii after three years of testing similar devices in the Atlantic. Oceans are punishing places. Gale force storms and corrosion from salt can destroy machinery.

Hawaii imports much of its energy and plans to be 100% island-based renewable energy. If wave energy can work on grid-scale they will be much closer to that goal.

The platform has three open underwater chambers. Water pushed by waves enters and forces air upwards to power the turbine. When the water recedes, it create a vacuum and air rushes in. There is only one moving part. The turbine moves in the same direction continually through the entire process.

Triple Pundit on Hawaii going renewable.

This year, Hawaii seeks to prove that wave power can help electrify the remote, energy-strapped islands. Residents and businesses across the state have long been frustrated by high electricity costs, and occasional reliance on diesel-powered generators also hurt the state’s air quality. Add the fact these sources of power have to be hauled to Hawaii across long distances, and it is easy to understand the state’s quest to become energy independent.

In 2015, Hawaii’s government announced a long-term plan to run entirely on renewables by mid-century. The state has been edging closer to that goal, and by most accounts it’s leading all U.S. states in just about every single clean energy category. Nevertheless, plenty of hurdles, frustrations and setbacks remain.

Wave power could provide another step toward achieving Hawaii’s renewable energy goals.

Carole Cadwalladr. Facebook’s role in Brexit is a threat to democracy

Cadwalladr. Wales and EU. Brexit

UK journalist Carole Cadwalladr played a major role in exposing Facebook-Cambridge Analytica ties. In her recent TED talk, she eviscerates Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and the rest of Silicon Valley for deliberately interfering in the Brexit referendum, the 2016 Presidential election, and for being on the wrong side of history. She says they are “handmaids to authoritarianism.”

Facebook’s response to her talk was to get huffy and claim there were factual inaccuracies. But when challenged to say what the inaccuracies were, said nothing.

At the very least, Facebook and Zuckerberg are amoral, caring only about profits and not a whit about any damage they do. At worst, they were and are deliberately complicit in Brexit, Trump’s election, and Russia interference.

Cadwalladr went to a Welch town after Brexit won. People she talked with were sure immigrants were invading Wales and that the EU was horrible. Yet there are few immigrants in that town and the EU had just financed many new projects there.

So, why the disconnect?

Facebook ads, that’s why.

Many were financed with dirty hidden money, were sleazy and duplicitous, and used stolen data. These Facebook Brexit ad tactics were later used to elect Trump, with many of the same people involved. Yet Facebook pretends to know nothing about it as they stonewall releasing data about it.

Some excerpts:

And this entire [Brexit] referendum took place in darkness, because it took place on Facebook. And what happens on Facebook stays on Facebook, because only you see your news feed, and then it vanishes, so it’s impossible to research anything. So we have no idea who saw what ads or what impact they had, or what data was used to target these people. Or even who placed the ads, or how much money was spent, or even what nationality they were.
But Facebook does. Facebook has these answers, and it’s refused to give them to us. Our parliament has asked Mark Zuckerberg multiple times to come to Britain and to give us these answers. And every single time, he’s refused. And you have to wonder why. Because what I and other journalists have uncovered is that multiple crimes took place during the referendum. And they took place on Facebook.

And I’m not even going to go into the lies that Arron Banks has told about his covert relationship with the Russian government. Or the weird timing of Nigel Farage’s meetings with Julian Assange and with Trump’s buddy, Roger Stone, now indicted, immediately before two massive WikiLeaks dumps, both of which happened to benefit Donald Trump. But I will tell you that Brexit and Trump were intimately entwined. This man told me that Brexit was the petri dish for Trump. And we know it’s the same people, the same companies, the same data, the same techniques, the same use of hate and fear.

To Facebook and Silicon Valley:

And so my question to you is, is this what you want? Is this how you want history to remember you: as the handmaidens to authoritarianism that is on the rise all across the world? Because you set out to connect people. And you are refusing to acknowledge that the same technology is now driving us apart.

And my question to everybody else is, is this what we want: to let them get away with it, and to sit back and play with our phones, as this darkness falls?

And this is not a drill — it’s a point of inflection. Democracy is not guaranteed, and it is not inevitable, and we have to fight and we have to win and we cannot let these tech companies have this unchecked power. It’s up to us — you, me and all of us. We are the ones who have to take back control.

Either Silicon Valley comes clean about what happened and genuinely regulates itself or governments will do it for them. And hopefully will put some of them in prison for their obvious crimes.

Intermountain Healthcare in Utah. Low cost, excellent

Intermountain Healthcare logo

We lived in Utah for two years and continue to go back there for healthcare even though we live in Las Vegas. The reason is Intermountain Healthcare, a statewide nonprofit that provides excellent low-cost healthcare. We do use doctors in Vegas, however our primary care is in Utah.

Ok, you’re probably wondering if this is a Mormon thing. Yes, absolutely. And they do a great job. There’s a reason the beehive is the state symbol of Utah. I had surgery at an IMH hospital on Thursday. A plaque at the main entrance says a primary funder is an LDS foundation. My surgeon has what I call the clean-cut Mormon look. I’m not being snarky. He is board-certified and performs the operation he did on me probably 300 times a year. Works for me. My primary care doctor is immediately notified of what happened via their comprehensive online system. It’s a well-run seamless system.

One problem in Vegas is that insurance premiums for doctors went very high. More than a few MDs moved elsewhere, causing a shortage. Sue asked people at her work where they went for healthcare and just about everyone who was from Utah said they go to Utah for primary care.

Obama cited IMH (and others) in a 2009 speech.

“Even within our own country, a lot of the places where we spend less on healthcare actually have higher quality than places where we spend more.”

“We have to ask why places like the Geisinger Health system in rural Pennsylvania, Intermountain Health in Salt Lake City, or communities like Green Bay can offer high-quality care at costs well below average, but other places in America can’t. We need to identify the best practices across the country, learn from the success, and replicate that success elsewhere.”

Intermountain responded.

“The utilization of many different services across the country is highly variable and often higher than it needs to be. In Intermountain Healthcare and in Utah, we’re focused on evidence-based medicine, and we’re more able to provide only the services our patients need. The result is, utilization is lower here, outcomes are better, and costs are dramatically lower. A growing number of healthcare and national leaders are seeing those results, and it’s very nice that the President is among them.”

About:

Intermountain Healthcare is a Utah-based not-for-profit system of 23 hospitals, 170 clinics, a Medical Group with close to 2,300 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health plans group under the name SelectHealth, and other medical services.

Nevada aiming for 50% renewable energy by 2030

Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, Tonopah NV. Wikimedia Commons.
Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project, Tonopah NV

Major players in Nevada including NV Energy, environmentalist groups, casinos, and governments support 50% renewable energy in Nevada by 2030. Solar power is how it will happen. NV Energy will be building six new solar plants. One coal plant will be retired early. Batteries will provide storage for solar plants so electricity can sent into the grid at night too.

A bill gradually raising the portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030 has been re-introduced in the 2019 Legislature and has so far seen a much warmer reception than it did in 2017 with casino industry groups, chambers of commerce and NV Energy all publicly supporting the bill.

But the report, which is required to be submitted by any utility or power purchaser to the Public Utilities Commission annually, also hints at some potential issues for the utility’s ability to meet the credit requirement down the line, summarizing its outlook toward meeting the standard in the future as “cautious.”

To get to 50% renewable energy, all the solar projects need to be functioning efficiently. The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project near Tonopah has been operational for four years. Production has been less than expected up until now. A salt leak shut it down for a while. However, production so far this year looks promising.

Planned energy output was up to 500 GW·h annually but real data place generation at about 200 GW·h/year, less than half. Total electricity supplied to the grid in 2018 was 207 GWh.

The project includes 10,347 heliostats that collect and focus the sun’s thermal energy to heat molten salt flowing through an approximately 640-foot (200 m) tall solar power tower. The molten salt circulates from the tower to a storage tank, where it is then used to produce steam and generate electricity. Excess thermal energy is stored in the molten salt and can be used to generate power for up to ten hours, including during the evening hours and when direct sunlight is not available. The storage technology also eliminates the need for any backup fossil fuels, such as natural gas.