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Submission + - Obama Targets $110B Nuclear 'Boondoggle' (usnews.com)

mdsolar writes: The president hopes to pull the plug on the MOX facility in South Carolina, where scientists hoped to blend fuel from nuclear weapons.

One of the most radioactive federal projects in recent memory is finally getting a thumbs-down from the Obama administration.

After spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year to prop-up the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina, where the Energy Department once hoped to turn weapons-grade plutonium into civilian nuclear fuel, the White House would "terminate" the troubled program and replace it with a less-expensive alternative in its final budget request to Congress.

Submission + - LIGO Scientists Will Make Gravitational Waves Announcement Thursday (rdmag.com)

mdsolar writes: First proposed by Albert Einstein 100 years ago, gravitational waves set off a media frenzy last month when theoretical physicist Lawrence M. Krauss tweeted about their potential discovery using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), which is run by Caltech and MIT.

Now, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration has invited journalists to Washington, D.C.’s The National Press Club for an update on the search for gravitational waves, which will be held Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

According to the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, the announcement is meant “to update the scientific community on the efforts to detect (gravitational waves).”

LIGO, designed to detect the tiny vibrations from gravitational waves, consists of two identical detectors, one located in Livingston, La. and the other in Hanford, Wash.

Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space-time, and are thought to be caused by some of the largest objects in the universe. Their discovery would give scientists a new way to view the cosmos and may lead to new information about tumultuous cosmic events, such as black hole collisions and supernovae explosions.

Last week, the rumor flames were fanned when Science Magazine reported that LIGO physicists observed gravitational waves stemming from two black holes merging with one another. The media outlet based its report on an email from McMaster Univ. theoretical physicist Clifford Burgess, which ended up posted on Twitter. In the email, Burgess wrote that the discovery will be published in Nature on Feb. 11.

“This is just from talking to people who said they’ve seen the paper, but I’ve not seen the paper itself,” said Burgess to Science Magazine. “I’ve been around a long time, so I’ve seen rumors come and go. This one seems more credible.”

Submission + - Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright Scold Young Women Backing Bernie Sanders (nytimes.com)

mdsolar writes: Hillary Clinton’s older feminist supporters have a message for young women who are not backing her candidacy: Shame on you.

Women were expected to help power Mrs. Clinton to the Democratic nomination, but as she struggles to overcome a tough challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders, her support among them has been surprisingly shaky. Young women, in particular, have been drawn to the septuagenarian socialist from Vermont, and the dynamic has disappointed feminists who dreamed of Mrs. Clinton’s election as a capstone to the movement.

Two feminist icons of Mrs. Clinton’s generation made their frustration known over the weekend, calling on young women who view Mr. Sanders as their candidate to essentially grow up and get with the program.

Submission + - NY to probe 'radioactive' water leak at Indian Point (lohud.com)

mdsolar writes: New York will investigate the Indian Point Energy Center after Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he learned that "radioactive tritium-contaminated water" leaked into the groundwater at the nuclear facility in Westchester County.

Cuomo, in a letter Saturday to the state Health Department and the Department of Environmental Conservation, called for the probe after he said Entergy Corp., the Buchanan plant's owner, reported "alarming levels of radioactivity" at three monitoring wells.

Submission + - Speeches That Earned Clinton Millions Remain a Mystery (go.com)

mdsolar writes: Hillary Clinton told voters in the latest Democratic debate there's "hardly anything you don't know about me."

Just minutes later, she got tangled in a question about a part of her resume that is an enduring mystery.

In the 18 months before launching her second presidential bid, Clinton gave nearly 100 paid speeches at banks, trade associations, charitable groups and private corporations. The appearances netted her $21.7 million — and voters very little information about what she was telling top corporations as she prepared for her 2016 campaign.

What she said — or didn't say — to Wall Street banks in particular has become a significant problem for her presidential campaign, as she tries to counter the unexpected rise of Democratic rival Bernie Sanders. He's put her in awkward position of squaring her financial windfall with a frustrated electorate.

Asked in the debate — and not for the first time — about releasing transcripts of those speeches, she said: "I will look into it. I don't know the status, but I will certainly look into it." She added, "My view on this is, look at my record."

Submission + - New paper finds cost ranking same as pollution ranking for energy (ssrn.com)

mdsolar writes: Three recent “roadmap” analyses outline routes to a low-carbon economy that model the decarbonization of the electricity sector and the pervasive electrification of the transportation and industrial sectors. Two of these also impose a pollution constraint on electricity resources that rejects the use of nuclear power and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage. Using independent cost estimates and sequentially “relaxing” the constraints on resource selection, this paper compares the resource costs of the resulting portfolios of assets needed to meet the need for electricity. Reflecting the continuing decline of the cost of renewable resources, the paper supports the claim that the long run costs of the 100% renewable portfolios are not only less than business-as-usual portfolios, but that the “environmental merit order” of asset selection is quite close to the “economic merit order.” Neither fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage nor nuclear power enters the least-cost, low-carbon portfolio. As long as a rigorous least-cost constraint is imposed on decarbonization, the pollution constraint is superfluous. The paper evaluates the Paris Agreement on climate change in light of these findings. The Agreement is described as a progressive, mixed market economic model with a governance structure based on a polycentric, multi-stakeholder approach for management of a common pool resource. The paper argues that this approach reflects the underlying techno-economic conditions and the fact that national governments have authority over local energy policy. It also notes that the political economy of the Agreement is consistent with current academic analysis of policy responses to the challenges of climate change and management of a large, focal core resource system.

Submission + - Another natural born citizen leaves the race for president (washingtonpost.com)

mdsolar writes: Following Martin O'Malley, Rand Paul has suspended his campaign for president. This time however, the participation of an ineligible candidate played a role. Ted Cruz, who took the lead in delegates in Iowa in not a natural born citizen http://www.salon.com/2016/01/2... and is thus not eligible to be president. The fairness of the process that led to Paul's suspension seems in doubt.

Submission + - Former DoE employee pleads guilty in secret selling sting (washingtonpost.com)

mdsolar writes: A former Energy Department employee accused of attempting to infiltrate the agency’s computer system to steal nuclear secrets and sell them to a foreign government pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of attempting to damage protected government computers in an email “spear-phishing attack.”

Charles Harvey Eccleston, a former employee at the department and at the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was arrested March 27 by Philippine authorities after an undercover FBI sting operation.

Eccleston, 62, a U.S. citizen who had been living in the Philippines since 2011, was “terminated” from his job at the NRC in 2010, according to the Justice Department. In January 2015, the department said, he targeted more than 80 Energy Department employees in Washington at four national nuclear labs with emails containing what he thought were links to malicious websites that, if activated, could infect and damage computers.

Submission + - Hinkley Point nuclear fiasco spooks Hitachi boss (telegraph.co.uk)

mdsolar writes: The head of Hitachi has warned that the debacle surrounding the construction of Hinkley Point nuclear plant throws up “very serious concerns” about its own investment in the UK.

Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman and chief executive of the Japanese industrial giant, said the setbacks experienced by Hinkley’s developer EDF raised questions about how future plants including its Wylfa Newydd project are funded.

Hitachi’s subsidiary Horizon is planning to build a nuclear plant on Anglesey that is expected to start generating power by the mid-2020s.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Nakanishi revealed that he had expressed concerns about the expected costs of the project with Philip Hammond during the Foreign Secretary’s visit to Japan this month.

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