Coal Finance for Climate Activists

I’ve been in New York since Monday for a short workshop on the finances of the coal industry and coal burning utilities.  It was put together under the auspices of the NYU Law School’s Institute for Policy Integrity.  The audience was mostly grassroots campaigners from all over the country — people working to shut down coal mining and coal based power plants for environmental reasons, both climate related and more traditional pollution.  The two day program included panels of utility specialists from rating agencies Moody’s and Fitch, Bruce Nilles from the Sierra Club’s Bloomberg funded Beyond Coal campaign, as well as financial analysts from UBS, Bloomberg New Energy and Jeffries.  Tom Sanzillo, the former comptroller of the state of New York, gave us a run down on how to read a utility company’s 10-K.  Several community leaders in successful fights to keep new coal plants from getting built told their stories too.  All in all, it made for some strange bedfellows.  It was great overall, and I think pretty much everyone learned something.  Here’s what I remember learning.

Continue reading Coal Finance for Climate Activists

Senate Wants The Military To Lock You Up Without Trial

Uh… so a bill in the US Senate with bipartisan support would allow the military to lock up citizens indefinitely without trial.  That would be unconstitutional, right?  Like, the Supreme Court would overturn it, right?  Obama will veto it, right?  Am I dreaming here?  And both parties are in favor of this?  Are you kidding?  How fucking timid can you be?  Any statement even remotely resembling this should be a clear poison pill, with the bill going down in flames, even if it is the Defense Authorization.

New bike and pedestrian ordinances in Boulder

A city-scale bike and pedestrian omnibus bill is coming before City Council.  Among other things, it creates a well-defined cross walk speed limit for bikes (8 mph), requires bikes and peds to activate the blinking lights at mid-block crossings, and legalizes back-in angled parking, which the city wants to experiment with on University, near the intersection with 17th, to make the bike lane safer.

Chaos Computer Club analyzes government malware

A scathing review of an official German government trojan by the Chaos Computer Club.  They decompiled the binaries and reverse-engineered the software, and found that not only did it fail to comply with the German constitutional court’s mandate to limit its capabilities, but was so poorly designed and secured as to enable “even attackers of mediocre skill” to completely compromise any machine on which it had been installed.  Clearly not the best of German engineering!

Legalizing Crowdfunded Startups

Crowdfunding, Why the SEC Bans It, Obama Wants It, and Banks Fear It.  Kickstarter would be illegal if you were making investments in a business, instead of donations to a cause.  Even so, people have raised on occasion hundreds of thousands of dollars via the site for honor-system bound innovation.  Hopefully this will be legitimized soon.

Multi-agency armed raid takes down raw milk and cheese producer

Apparently the agricultural industrial complex is willing to take down its competition with a hail of lead if necessary.  A multi-agency SWAT team descended upon a raw milk and cheese buying club in SoCal, and is holding the proprietor without bail.  How can this be a serious law enforcement priority?