|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Monday, August 29, 2005
The Observer: Iraq takes a step closer to civil war: "it appears it was not the Shias, as Bush feared, but the Sunnis who have torpedoed consensus on the constitution, first forcing a number of concessions from the Shias, then deciding to walk out on the whole process. 'The Sunnis made the tactical decision to negotiate for as much as they could get out of the document and then walk out to protect their own positions within their community,' said one diplomat. 'It is a dangerous tactic. It will take a lot of patching up.'..
While Bush could pick up the phone to try to cajole or mollify Hakim as a representative of Shia desires, on the Sunni side, despite more than two years of effort, there is no one of a similar stature and influence to call. ..
pessimism has been reflected in the new and chilling conversation that has repeatedly taken place among government and intelligence officials in the past few weeks on both sides of the Atlantic - how do you know when you are on the brink of civil war? And which, out of the available models, Iraq might follow if it follows down that path. It is not Vietnam that officials are looking to for their model of a worst-case scenario in Iraq, but to the fratricide of Lebanon's civil war." 11:55:15 PM
Juan Cole on success and frustration in Iraq: "Sullivan says that given US and British forces on the ground, the "insurgency" "cannot win." The problem is that the "insurgency" doesn't have to win in order to succeed. All it has to do is spoil everyone else's successes. By sabotaging the oil pipelines and the electricity grid that supports them, the guerrillas have reduced Iraqi government revenue by a third to a half of what it otherwise would be. They can go on doing that a very long time. They have put the lives of every senior member of the new government in danger, and have managed to assassinate a whole roster of high-ranking officials, even two members of the new parliament and two members of the constitution drafting committee.
They have kept the new government, and even the US military, from truly controlling the major Sunni Arab cities, and have even made mixed cities such as Baqubah big security problems. They have increasingly succeeded in provoking deep hatred between Sunni and Shiite Arabs, contributing to a low-intensity, uncoventional war between the two that seemed unlikely as recently as a year ago. These tactics are proving successful and can be maintained for a very long time." The article also makes some predictions for 2006.
In a similar vein from Cole's March 05 op-ed, U.S. Caught in the Crossfire: "For all of these reasons, the United States will increasingly find its hands tied in Iraq. Caught between a popularly elected government dominated by fundamentalist Shiites and a determined guerrilla movement led by Arab nationalists and radical Sunnis, the United States is left without a safe and secure escape hatch." 11:41:53 PM
Major advance producing carbon nanotube sheets
: "University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) nanotechnologists and an Australian colleague have produced transparent carbon nanotube sheets that are stronger than the same-weight steel sheets and have demonstrated applicability for organic light-emitting displays, low-noise electronic sensors, artificial muscles, conducting appliqués and broad-band polarized light sources that can be switched in one ten-thousandths of a second.
Carbon nanotubes are like minute bits of string, and untold trillions of these invisible strings must be assembled to make useful macroscopic articles that can exploit the phenomenal mechanical and electronic properties of the individual nanotubes. In the Aug. 19 05 issue of the prestigious journal Science, scientists from the NanoTech Institute at UTD and a collaborator, Dr. Ken Atkinson from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), a national laboratory in Australia, report such assembly of nanotubes into sheets at commercially useable rates.
Starting from chemically grown, self-assembled structures in which nanotubes are aligned like trees in a forest, the sheets are produced at up to 7 meters per minute by the coordinated rotation of a trillion nanotubes per minute for every centimeter of sheet width. By comparison, the production rate for commercial wool spinning is 20 meters per minute. Unlike previous sheet fabrication methods using dispersions of nanotubes in liquids, which are quite slow, the dry-state process developed by the UTD-CSIRO team can use the ultra-long nanotubes needed for optimization of properties. " More about applications, to solar cells, batteries, fuel cells, medicine, and engineering at WorldChanging. 9:17:47 AM
How Portland does Kyoto: "Portland announced that it had succeeded in cutting greenhouse gas emissions levels to within 1% of 1990 levels, on the way to a targeted 10% reduction below 1990 levels by 2010. .. As Portland officials count it, overall greenhouse gas emissions have dropped to 0.7% above 1990 levels. Transportation-related emissions essentially have been flat, combined emissions in homes, offices and industry have decreased slightly, and waste gases--largely extrapolated from methane gas escaping from rotting landfill waste--have decreased significantly...
Eric Sten, a Portland commissioner, insists that the reductions came not because Portland converted all of its citizens into global warming believers but because the city made investments that had tangible environmental and quality of life benefits, in addition to reducing greenhouse gasses. "We made progress on this issue by doing things that make Portland a good place to live," Sten says, "Not because of things that are specific to global warming."
"I knew there were efforts going on but to have that kind of significant reduction was remarkable," says Dennis Wilde, a Portland-based developer. "What's really remarkable is there's been no pain." .. " Key factors are compact developent, mass transit support ("75% of Trimet's 290,000 daily trips are by "choice" riders who leave a car at home"), building codes ("building code upgrades dropped energy bills an average of 40% in new homes"), and utility efficiency programs. 9:04:01 AM
Clean energy incubators: "The Austin Clean Energy Incubator, which is part of the Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas, is a fairly typical incubator. The small, professional staff works with about six companies at a time on issues ranging from business plan development to assistance with acquiring customers or strategic partners, to global expansion. CEI's current portfolio companies include Austin Biofuels, an early stage biofuels distributor; E60 Vision, a company that makes remediation software; and Allied Energy Systems, which manufacturers efficient HVAC systems. Amato and staff are helping Austin Biofuels expand to a regional distributor, E60 to "productize" their service, and Allied Energy to grow to a regional manufacturer. ..
Albany Nanotech [is] located at the University of Albany-SUNY. Two billion dollars in private, state and federal funding financed this state-of-the-art nanotechnology infrastructure. The Albany Nanotech complex includes the new College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering, which provides portfolio companies access to an entire research and teaching organization focused on the field. This advanced facility attracts companies like IBM and GE and other companies from around the world, which make use of the equipment to explore new initiatives and test technologies. .. 8:43:29 AM
The same capital-intensive facilities and equipment are available to startup businesses. They can use the infrastructure there to test their products and get them to the stage where investors are interested. .. E2TAC also offers more typical incubator services such as matchmaking, networking, and joint promotions for partner companies. "
Energy startups raising cash: Many funding events in June 05. "Solar company Energy Innovations, based in Pasadena, California, said it had raised $16.5 million in a second round of venture capital funding, bringing its two-round total to $29 million. In the meantime, Austin, Texas-based solar startup HelioVolt said it closed its first round with an $8-million investment from New Enterprise Associates (NEA) of Menlo Park, California. .. Nanosolar, a nano-based solar outfit, netted $20 million in a round led by MDV (see Nanosolar Raises Funding). And Miasolé, a thin-film solar firm, raised $16 million in a round led by Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (see Clean Energy Firms Get Funds). ..
HelioVolt said it will use the $8 million to build out and test its manufacturing method. .. HelioVolt uses semiconductor-manufacturing methods to apply the copper-indium-selenide coatings to traditional construction materials, such as steel, glass, and roofing. The coated materials would allow new buildings to power themselves, without the installation of separate solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.
Meanwhile, Sunflower uses a series of mirrors with motors to track the sun throughout the day. The mirrors reflect light onto a silicon-based receiver placed about six feet above the mirrors, said Energy Innovations’ President Andrew Beebe. His system uses much less silicon, saving money, Mr. Beebe said. .. The system is expected to last 15 years, compared with the 20- to 25-year life span of most solar panels... We think this round will take us to market,” he said. For now, Energy Innovations is limiting its target market to commercial and institutional customers within the United States, Mr. Beebe said. "
Also, in August, SunPower Files $115M IPO: "SunPower plans to raise $115 million in an initial public offering to help make and market its solar panels, the solar power company said in a filing Friday, as it looks to stay ahead of other venture-backed startups that are gaining ground in the field." Cypress Semiconductor put $26M into the firm in the last four years. 8:40:16 AM