pickens writes: The Washington Post reports that President Obama repeatedly declared the imperative to "win the future," in his State of the Union address comparing the current need for innovation to the 1950s space race against the Soviet Union and calling for more dedication to research and technology as he raised the specter of a rapidly growing China and India, "This is our generation's Sputnik moment." Obama's proposals — some of them left over from last year's State of the Union address — ranged from increasing math and science teacher training to investing more in developing clean-energy technology. "Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't even there yet. NASA didn't exist," he said. "But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs."
Hugh Pickens writes: "Federal ethanol subsidies reached $7.7 billion last year and the bio-fuel industry faced criticism in 2008 as food prices rose with ethanol consuming ever more of the corn crop and drawing down feedstocks. Now Al Gore says his support for corn-based ethanol subsidies while serving as vice president was a mistake that had more to do with his desire to cultivate farm votes in the 2000 presidential election than with what was good for the environment. "It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Gore said at a green energy conference in Athens, Greece adding that the energy conversion ratios — how much energy is produced in the process — "are at best very small." Gore now favors second-generation ethanol, using farm waste and switchgrass. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, representing ethanol producers, responded that "the contributions of first generation ethanol to our nation's economy, environment and energy production are not a mistake, but a success story.""
pickens writes: TorrentFreak reports that with 95 percent of the votes counted it is clear that the Pirate Party will not enter the Swedish Parliament. The Party is currently stuck at about 1 percent of the total vote, nowhere near the 4 percent threshold it needs. This means that neither Wikileaks nor The Pirate Bay will be hosted under Parliamentary immunity and the Party won't get the chance to legalize non-commercial file-sharing or criminalize "copyright abuse" as they planned. “The Swedish Pirate Party did its best election campaign ever. We had more media, more articles, more debates, more handed-out flyers than ever. Unfortunately, the wind was not in our sails this time, as it was with the European elections,” says party leader Rick Falkvinge. The party will now have to wait four more years before they have another shot at entering the Swedish Parliament. "Each generation must reconquer democracy," adds Falkvinge. "Nobody said it was going to be an easy fight."