USA to Stop Landmine Procurement and Production

Unfortunately not every country has signed the Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personal land mines. Recently the largest producer of armaments, the USA, has opted to stop production of landmines. The army has also committed to not purchasing new landmines.

“Our delegation in Maputo made clear that we are diligently pursuing solutions that would be compliant with and ultimately allow the United States to accede to the Ottawa Convention – the treaty banning the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of APL,” Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokeswoman, said in the statement.

Now mines are rarely used in conflicts, and even countries that have not signed up abide by most of its rules.

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Obama Takes On Coal Power Plants

Coal is one of the worst sources for energy given that its contribution to destruction of our planet is unmatched. There have been attempts to make coal branded as “clean coal” but even then, the radiation emitted from coal power plants is too high and the pollutants released into the air is still too much.

President Obama has decided to transition America’s power supply system away from coal and to better, cleaner alternatives. This is a good step in stemming the amount of pollution the country dumps into the air. Let’s hope that there is more money into sustainable power systems and that other countries (like Canada) will follow Obama’s lead.

If the new rules for power plants and the fuel-emissions standards are both maintained and adhered to, the Administration says, the United States will be on track to meet the targets that President Obama set in 2009, when he pledged, as part of a United Nations accord, to reduce U.S. greenhouse-gas-emission levels seventeen per cent by 2020 and eighty-three per cent by 2050, relative to the 2005 level. Of course, this calculation is a hypothetical one. Congress, ever since it refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto agreement, has blocked a number of efforts to tackle climate change, including a cap-and-trade bill that would have set an over-all limit for carbon emissions. With the midterm elections on the horizon, its members are unlikely to have a general change of heart now.

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High Speed Rail Coming to……Texas?

Texas is an American state best known for its gun-loving, big truck driving, cowboy, remember the Alamo culture. It is the last place I’d expect high speed rail infrastructure to actually get support in the USA. The good news here is that not only are Texans in favour of high speed rail – the private sector is going to fund.

This is a great contrast to other states where governments are even apprehensive to do feasibility studies. The private company will use Japanese technology and pay for building the infrastructure. With luck, this Texas push for rail will spread further than that state’s borders. Getting more people onto trains instead of driving everywhere is good for everyone.

Five years ago, the company started work on bringing Japan’s bullet train to the U.S. It studied 97 potential city pairs.
Which route would pay for construction and operating costs and generate a return for investors? Which would serve as a showcase so the model might be replicated elsewhere?
Weigh all the factors, and Dallas to Houston was the top choice.
“This is a golden market to deploy our system,” said Richard Lawless, CEO of Texas Central Railway and a former CIA employee who served in Asia and Europe.
Dallas and Houston are the ideal distance for high-speed rail, about 230 miles apart. A one-way rail trip is expected to take less than 90 minutes.

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The Day We Fight Back Against Spying

Thanks HuffPo!

The Day We Fight Back against mass surveillance is today!

Thanks to Edward Snowden we have learned about America’s and other countries illegitimate and immoral mass surveillance operations. More revelations about the extent of the surveillance programs are sure to come. Just in the past couple of days it was revealed that the NSA operates a kill list based on SIM cards in cell phones regardless of who actually uses the phone.

The argument that we shouldn’t care about the surveillance because they only look at metadata is bunk. SIM cards are an example of the metadata the NSA (et. al) care about and it has led to too many civilian deaths from drone strikes.

People like myself find this type of surveillance to be rather problematic and insanely dangerous. If you’re in Canada be sure to tell your local MP that you are opposed to the spying done by Canada’s NSA: CSEC.

More than 5,300 web-based companies and other organizations, including Reddit, Imgur, Tumblr, Mozilla the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, have joined forces to protest National Security Agency surveillance on Feb. 11.

More at the Huffington Post.

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4 Theories Why US Teenagers Are Driving Less

Cars are horrible for the environment and car infrastructure can have very negative impact on local economies so it’s nice to see enthusiasm for driving diminishing in younger generations. American teens are less likely to have a license and less likely to want to own a car than previous generations.

Does this mean the end of car culture in the States? Maybe, but for now all we do know is that their lower driving rates are already having an impact on energy policy in the states.

Growth in “vehicle-miles traveled” (VMT)—that key gauge of America’s love affair with the automobile that once reliably ratcheted up year after year—will slow dramatically, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says in its new Annual Energy Outlook. The EIA slashed its projected annual VMT growth rate to 0.9 percent, a drop of 25 percent compared to its forecast only a year ago.

The change is partly due to slower population growth, but also because of a generational shift confirmed by at least four studies in the past year. In the United States, young people are not only driving less than teens did a generation ago, they aren’t even getting licenses.

Put that demographic trend together with the dramatic increase in fuel economy expected in the years ahead, and U.S. energy consumption to fuel cars is expected to drop one-quarter to 12.1 quadrillion Btu by 2040.

Read more at Nat Geo.

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