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Can the F-35 Be Stopped?

Huffington Post, 12 January 2015

At a price tag of $1.5 trillion to build and operate over its lifetime, the F-35 combat aircraft is the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken by the Pentagon. It is overpriced, underperforming and unnecessary. It is being asked to do too many things, from serving as a fighter and a bomber, to landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier, to doing vertical takeoff and landing. With all of these conflicting demands, the F-35 is likely to do none of its assignments well.

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Dubai replaces Heathrow as busiest airport

Financial Times, 12 January 2015

Dubai leapfrogged Heathrow to become the world’s busiest airport for international passengers in 2014, the head of the Gulf hub said on Monday. Dubai International airport dealt with about 71m international passengers in 2014, according to chief executive Paul Griffiths, surpassing the 68.1m that passed through Heathrow.

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USPS OIG: Suitability of Rail Transportation Suggest It Is Time To Use Rail Once Again

Clean Technica, 10 January 2015

Once upon a time, the United States Postal Service enjoyed a successful relationship with the nation’s railroads. The California State Railroad Museum Foundation reminds us of the once-speeding postal trains, rather than today’s trucks, where post office workers sorted letters during the trip. Moreover, they did so in “swaying cars filled with canvas bags and wooden pigeon holes.” That must have been fun.

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The secret of eternal youth: skin-tight Lycra and a bicycle

The Independent, 6 January 2015

Dressing up in skin-tight Lycra and pounding the highways on a road bike may not sound like the way to age gracefully but scientists have found that older cyclists show fewer signs of ageing compared with non-cyclists. Cycling – and heavy exercise in general – may be exhausting but it also appears to be the route to Shangri-La or something approximating the fountain of youth, according to one interpretation of the findings.

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How increased inefficiency explains falling oil prices

Resilience, 6 January 2015

Since about 2001, several sectors of the economy have become increasingly inefficient, in the sense that it takes more resources to produce a given output, such as 1000 barrels of oil. I believe that this growing inefficiency explains both slowing world economic growth and the sharp recent drop in prices of many commodities, including oil.

The mechanism at work is what I would call the crowding out effect. As more resources are required for the increasingly inefficient sectors of the economy, fewer resources are available to the rest of the economy. As a result, wages stagnate or decline. Central banks find it necessary lower interest rates, to keep the economy going.

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A gentle cough!

Bit Tooth Energy, 13 December 2014

When I last wrote about the global supply of oil, it was back in October, as the fall in oil prices was developing. Since then the price has continued to fall, with prices now below $60 a barrel. I was doubtful back then that the price would fall as far as it has, and remain cynical that it will remain down for very long. Since this seems to go against much current wisdom, let me explain why I remain pessimistic that the boost to the global economy from access to cheaper fuel will continue for any great length of time.

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A building industry scandal regulators want to ignore

Climate Spectator, 19 December 2014

A review of the energy efficiency requirements applying to new homes has found that there is widespread flouting of the rules, which means homeowners are buying houses that fall well short of the 5- and 6-star efficiency levels they have been promised. In addition, while this is well known by government authorities, they have shown little interest in addressing this widespread breaking of the law.

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Germany & Denmark Join Britain In Smashing Wind Energy Records

Clean Technica, 7 January 2015

The UK smashed wind energy records in 2014, according to figures provided earlier this week, but it wasn’t the only one — Denmark and Germany also released wind energy production figures, with both countries setting impressive new records of their own.

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Suburbs and the New American Poverty

The Atlantic, 7 January 2015

Every weekday around 3:15 p.m., a big, yellow school bus stops on Pelican Drive outside Norcross Extended Stay, near the intersection with Best Friend Drive. Dozens of children file out, carrying their heavy backpacks away from the Wendy’s and the AutoZone, towards the cluster of aging three-story yellow buildings where they live. Some are met by waiting parents, others trek by themselves to the shabby motel rooms, marching past broken-down cars, their tires flat, scattered around the parking lot, and discarded mattresses piled next to some of the residences.

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Oil prices: eventually the Gulf states will run out of power

The Conversation, 6 January 2015

Oil prices have now almost halved in six months to below $60/barrel thanks to OPEC’s refusal to cut production. This means all the member countries are revising their government spending policies. While countries such as Iran and Venezuela face an imminent fiscal crisis, the short-term ramifications for the Arabian peninsula’s oil monarchies are less dramatic. In the long run, however, their very high dependence on oil poses a more fundamental challenge than for almost any of their rivals.

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