News ArticlesExcerpts of Key News Articles in Major Media
The First Amendment protects public employees from job retaliation when they are called to testify in court about official corruption, the Supreme Court ruled [on June 19]. The unanimous decision cheered whistleblower advocates, who said it could encourage more government workers to cooperate with prosecutors in public fraud cases without fear of losing their livelihoods. The justices decided in favor of Edward Lane, a former Alabama community college official who says he was fired after testifying at the criminal fraud trial of a state lawmaker. Lower courts had ruled against Lane, finding that he was testifying as a college employee, not as a citizen. Writing for the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Lane's testimony was constitutionally protected because he was speaking as a citizen on a matter of public concern, even if it covered facts he learned at work. In past cases, the court has said that public employees generally do not have free-speech rights when they discuss matters learned at their jobs. "This ruling gives a green light to all public employees who have information concerning official corruption and fraud and want to expose these crimes," said Stephen Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center. He predicted the decision [will] have a "wide impact" on investigations of securities, banking and tax fraud. Lane was director of a college youth program at Central Alabama Community College in 2006 when he discovered that a state lawmaker, Sue Schmitz, was on the payroll but not showing up for work. Lane fired Schmitz despite warnings that doing so could jeopardize his own job.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing civil liberties news articles from reliable major media sources.
Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it's a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core. Last month, Steele presented a startling paper at the Libtech conference in New York, sponsored by the Internet Society and Reclaim. Drawing on principles set out in his latest book, The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth and Trust, he told the audience that all the major preconditions for revolution ... were now present in the United States and Britain. His interdisciplinary 'whole systems' approach dramatically connects up the increasing corruption, inefficiency and unaccountability of the intelligence system and its political and financial masters with escalating inequalities and environmental crises. But he also offers a comprehensive vision of hope that activist networks like Reclaim are implementing today. Today's capitalism, he argues, is inherently predatory and destructive: "Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditised without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditised by the Industrial Era." Open source everything, in this context, offers us the chance to build on what we've learned through industrialisation, to learn from our mistakes, and catalyse the re-opening of the commons, in the process breaking the grip of defunct power structures and enabling the possibility of prosperity for all.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
WikiLeaks has published what it calls "the secret draft text for the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) Financial Services Annex," apparently covering 50 countries and most of the world's trade in services. "The draft Financial Services Annex sets rules which would assist the expansion of financial multinationals — mainly headquartered in New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt — into other nations by preventing regulatory barriers," the website says in a statement. The draft deal is seen as a way to prevent more regulation of financial services, despite calls for tighter regulatory measures that followed the 2007-08 world financial crisis. That market meltdown set the world's biggest banks up against critics who said governments needed to rein them in. The last round of TISA talks took place April 28 to May 2 in Geneva. WikiLeaks also [stated] that the U.S. is "particularly keen on boosting cross-border data flow" and that this would include personal and financial data. During his teleconference, [Assange] urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to end a four-year-long grand jury investigation of Assange and WikiLeaks. "National security reporters are required by their profession to have intimate interactions in order to assess and verify and investigate the nature of the material that they are dealing with," he said. "So I call on Eric Holder today to immediately drop the ongoing national security investigation against WikiLeaks or resign."
Note: Why is this important release getting so little news coverage? For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The energy world is not keeping up with Elon Musk, so he's trying to take matters into his own hands. Musk, chairman of the solar installer SolarCity, announced [on June 17] that the company would acquire a solar panel maker and build factories "an order of magnitude" bigger than the plants that currently churn out panels. Musk is also a founder and the CEO of the electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors, which is planning what it calls a "gigafactory" to supply batteries for its cars. In both cases, Musk's goal is to make sure that the components critical to his vision of the future — electric cars and solar energy — are available and cheap enough to beat fossil fuels. Musk's future customer could ignore traditional energy companies completely. They'd have SolarCity panels on their roof that would generate enough power [to] charge up a Tesla [car] in the garage. A Tesla battery could then power the home at night with stored solar power. Musk has made a career of thinking far into the future. He is also the CEO of SpaceX, the rocket company with an ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. SolarCity says it won't try to turn out more of the garden-variety panels now clogging the market. Instead, it wants to make panels that are more efficient, and make them at a low cost in huge factories in order to reduce the overall cost of solar electricity. Just as he drew customers to electric vehicles by making sleek, fast sports cars, Musk wants to attract homeowners to solar with pretty panels. "We want to have a cool-looking aesthetically pleasing solar system on your roof," he said.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing new energy development news articles from reliable major media sources. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
It’s not enough, apparently, that some of the wealthiest Americans spend millions to elect their candidates to Congress. Now they are using their fortunes to lobby Congress against any limits on their ability to buy elections. Koch Companies Public Sector, part of the industrial group owned by a well-known pair of conservative brothers, has hired a big-name firm to lobby Congress on campaign-finance issues, according to a registration form filed a few weeks ago. The form doesn’t say what those issues are, but there are several bills in the House that would reduce the role of anonymous big money in campaigns, and restrict the kinds of super PACs and nonprofit groups that the Koch brothers and others have inflated with cash. Clearly, it’s vital to the Kochs and others like them to prevent such limits from being enacted; their network raised $400 million in 2012, and it has been extremely active again this year. To that end, they have done something ordinary citizens cannot do: They hired the lobbying firm of a well-known former senator, Don Nickles, Republican of Oklahoma, to press their interests. Mr. Nickles started his firm a few months after leaving the Senate in 2005, and he takes in up to $8 million a year from big firms like Exxon Mobil, General Motors and Walmart. This is a perfect illustration of the cumulative power of cash in today’s Washington. Members of Congress get elected with substantial help from check writers like the Kochs and others. Once there, they do the bidding of former members paid by the Kochs to preserve their business interests and fight off campaign-finance reforms.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources.
Open source is going commercial. Once an esoteric philosophy that called for people around the world to collectively create and give away software, Silicon Valley is increasingly embracing the open source ethos as a way to make money. To expand the small market for electric cars, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk this week said he would share the company's technology with competitors. He follows industry leaders like Google, which has long allowed outside companies to customize its mobile operating system at no charge. Even Facebook is extolling the virtues of open source, which enables outside programmers to spot security flaws and helps preserve a spirit of innovation. As defined by the Open Source Initiative, the phrase ... means people not only can access and modify software code but redistribute it for free. The valley is starting to sense that enforcing patents doesn't always make sense. "Patents are so incompatible with the open source software philosophy," said Daniel Nazer, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. That's Musk's mantra. The Tesla CEO didn't decide to give away his company's technology because he is a nice guy. Instead, Musk realized that electric cars won't gain mass acceptance if he is the only one making them. "Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport," Musk said this week. "If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property land mines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal."
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Electric car manufacturer Tesla has confirmed that it will be opening up its patents to other manufacturers in order to boost the adoption and technological development of electric cars. Tesla’s billionaire founder Elon Musk said that the decision had been made “in the spirit of the open source movement” and “for the advancement of electric vehicle technology”. “If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal,” wrote Musk in a blog post announcing the move. Tesla's first electric car has been launched this month in the UK. The Tesla Model S, a luxury saloon car priced between Ł50,000 and Ł100,000, has a range of 300 miles and will be supported by a fledgling network of Tesla's 'supercharger' stations. Musk notes that there is a global fleet of some 2 billion cars with 100 million new vehicles added to this every year, and that if electric cars are to help address the carbon crisis they must be produced in far greater volumes than they are currently. In comparison Tesla only sold 22,500 Model S cars in 2013 and even the best-selling all-electric vehicle (the Nissan Leaf) has only sold 100,00 units. “Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day,” wrote Musk. “We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Elizabeth Holmes founded her revolutionary blood diagnostics company, Theranos, when she was 19. It’s now worth more than $9 billion, and poised to change health care. In the fall of 2003, Elizabeth Holmes, a 19-year-old sophomore at Stanford, plopped herself down in the office of her chemical engineering professor, Channing Robertson, and said, “Let’s start a company.” As a freshman, Holmes had taken Robertson’s seminar on advanced drug-delivery devices–things like patches, pills, and even a contact-lens-like film that secreted glaucoma medication–but now she had invented one the likes of which Robertson had never conceived. It was a wearable patch that, in addition to administering a drug, would monitor variables in the patient’s blood to see if the therapy was having the desired effect, and adjust the dosage accordingly. With Robertson’s blessing, Holmes started her company and, a semester later, dropped out to pursue it full-time. Now she’s 30, and her private, Palo Alto-based corporation, called Theranos–the name is an amalgam of the words “therapy” and “diagnosis”–has 500 employees. Theranos today is a potentially highly disruptive upstart in America’s $73 billion diagnostic-lab industry. It currently offers more than 200–and is ramping up to offer more than 1,000–of the most commonly ordered blood diagnostic tests, all without the need for a syringe. Theranos’s tests can be performed on just a few drops of blood, or about 1/100th to 1/1,000th of the amount that would ordinarily be required–an extraordinary potential boon to frequently tested hospital patients or cancer victims, the elderly, infants, [and] children.
The discovery of a grave containing the remains of as many as 800 babies at a former home for unmarried mothers in Ireland is yet another problem for the Irish Catholic Church. The mother and baby home at Tuam in County Galway was run by the nuns of the Sisters of Bon Secours and operated between 1925 and 1961. It took in thousands of women who had committed the “mortal sin” of unwed pregnancy, delivered their babies and was charged with caring for them. But unsanitary conditions, poor food and a lack of medical care led to shockingly high rates of infant mortality. Babies’ bodies were deposited in a former sewage tank. Sadly, the mass grave at Tuam is probably not unique. Tuam was only one of a dozen mother and baby homes in Ireland in the years after the Second World War, all of which treated their inmates in a similar fashion. During 10 years of research into the Catholic Church’s treatment of “fallen women” — [a] book, Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty-Year Search, later turned into a feature film starring Dame Judi Dench — [revealed] that the girls were refused medical attention, including painkillers, during even the most difficult births; the nuns told them the pain was the penance they must pay for their sin. Philomena and thousands like her were forced to look after their babies for up to four years, bonding with them before they were taken away to be adopted. Many went to families in the United States in return for substantial “donations”; lack of proper vetting meant some were handed over to abusive parents.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on child abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.
The deputy described beating inmates unprovoked, slapping them, shooting them with a Taser gun and aggressively searching them to pick a fight — something he learned "on the job." He would huddle with other jail guards to get their stories straight and write up reports with bogus scenarios justifying the brutality. If the inmate had no visible injuries, he wouldn't report the use of force, period. He did all this with impunity, former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Gilbert Michel testified ..., knowing that even if inmates reported the abuse it "wouldn't go anywhere." If they were to put it in writing and drop it in a complaint box, it was his fellow deputies who opened that box too. Michel, 40, took the stand at the obstruction of justice trial of six sheriff's officials accused of impeding a federal civil rights investigation into allegations of excessive force at L.A. County jails. Michel, the first sheriff's deputy to be charged in the wide-reaching, ongoing investigation, faces a maximum of 10 years in prison after pleading guilty in 2012 to a count of bribery and agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors. Michel ... described a culture among deputies guarding the high-security floors of the jails that led to excessive force and frequent coverups. He matter-of-factly recounted incidents in which he said he and at least five other sheriff's employees brutalized inmates on the third, or "3000," floor of Men's Central Jail, then falsified reports to legitimize their actions.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Buried in February’s $956 billion farm bill is an amendment ... that legally distinguishes industrial hemp from marijuana, after decades of conflation [of the two]. It defines hemp as an agricultural crop rather than a drug — and effectively frees American farmers to grow it for the first time in almost 60 years. For 20 years, legislators, farmers, hippies, activists, agency heads and agronomists have worked to recast hemp as a game-changer, an American cash crop that could jump-start the country's next economic revival. Colorado, Vermont and Kentucky wasted no time launching their industrial hemp research and the pilot programs provided for in the farm bill. In an obscure notice dated April 16th, the USDA alerted state and county officials that farmers in states that [approved] hemp production (15 so far) could now include hemp acreage in their crop reports. The floodgates have opened. The current American hemp market is estimated at nearly half a billion dollars, with hemp’s oil, seed and fiber used in food, carbon-negative building materials, and automobile composites that are already inside millions of cars. Hemp cultivation is ... as old as the country itself. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew it, hemp was once legal tender, and several drafts of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper. During WWII, American farmers were paid to grow it, cultivating more than 150 million pounds of industrial hemp to support the American war effort.
Note: Hemp is derived from the cannabis sativa plant, which also produces marijuana. For news on mind altering substances, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Why are Americans spending billions on gluten-free products? Is it just a fad or does it make a difference? Perhaps the latter. Several of my patients avoid gluten without any apparent need to do so, and they are convinced their health has improved. One told me that her abdominal bloating, gas and pain have improved. Another says her skin cleared up, and she no longer retains water. Another claims that her "brain fog" is gone, and still another believes that her chronic neck pain due to muscle tension has improved significantly. What are they self-treating? None of them has celiac disease [or] a wheat allergy. They suffer from a syndrome that has yet to be clearly defined. The term "non-celiac gluten sensitivity" (NCGS) appears to be gaining traction. NCGS is what we call a "clinical diagnosis," a syndrome defined by symptoms alone, not by tissue biopsy or blood test. What are the symptoms of NCGS? Abdominal pain, eczema and/or rash, headache, "foggy mind," fatigue, diarrhea, depression, extremity numbness and joint pain. There is nothing unique about these symptoms, which occur in many other conditions. Though the small intestine of those with NCGS looks normal, symptoms appear to go away when gluten is removed from the diet and reappear when gluten is reintroduced. Ultimately, a powerful medical group, such as the American Gastroenterological Association, needs to issue criteria by which someone can be said to have gluten sensitivity.
Note: Some speculate that modern wheat strains, GMOs, and processing methods are behind the increase in gluten sensitivity. For more on this, see this merocla.com article and this article on the history of wheat.
The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents. The spy agency’s reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world. The agency’s ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its effort have not previously been disclosed. The agency intercepts “millions of images per day” — including about 55,000 “facial recognition quality images” — which translate into “tremendous untapped potential,” according to 2011 documents obtained from the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. It is not clear how many people around the world, and how many Americans, might have been caught up in the effort. Neither federal privacy laws nor the nation’s surveillance laws provide specific protections for facial images. Civil-liberties advocates and other critics are concerned that the power of the improving technology, used by government and industry, could erode privacy. “Facial recognition can be very invasive,” said Alessandro Acquisti, a researcher on facial recognition technology at Carnegie Mellon University.
Note: For another New York Times article showing how the NSA is using mobile phone apps to "snatch data revealing the player’s location, age, sex and other personal information," see this article.
A new book by Gareth Porter, an American historian and researcher specializing in U.S. national security, shows how the actual state of the Iranian nuclear program does not match the Iranian threat narrative. Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Nuclear Scare ... is a highly detailed and well-documented book for all interested in understanding how we arrived at the Iranian nuclear crisis, and the “attack scenarios” and invented facts and intelligence reports. The story begins with U.S. support for the Iraqis during the 1980s Iraq-Iran war. The critical point [came] with the collapse of the Soviet empire. According to Porter, that event and the end of the Cold War pulled out the rug from under the CIA’s raison d’ętre. The solution the Americans found to continue providing the [CIA] with a tremendous budget was the invention of a new threat – the merging of weapons of mass destruction (an ambiguous term in itself) and terror. Iran ... provided the threat that “saved” the CIA. Running through Porter’s book is the well-substantiated claim that U.S. and Israeli policies on Iran derived from their political and organizational interests, and not necessarily from careful factual analysis of the Iranian nuclear program, which was subject to IAEA monitoring, or of the intentions of the Iranian leadership. According to Porter, no systematic analysis was made of the goals of the Iranian nuclear program, and neither U.S. nor Israeli policy makers devoted any thought to why all of Iran’s official declarations on the subject were in line with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Note: For more on the realities of intelligence agency operations, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Talk of economic mobility and the wealth gap is hardly new. From the Occupy movement to President Obama's re-election campaign, income inequality has been in the spotlight for years. Even so, the "inclusive capitalism" conference in London ... broke new ground. Not because of the conversation, but because of the people having it. The 250 people from around the world invited to attend this one-day conference do not represent "the 99 percent," or even the 1 percent. It's more like a tiny fraction of the 1 percent. "We have $30 trillion of assets under management in the room," says conference organizer Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who runs E. L. Rothschild, a major investment firm she and her husband, of the storied Rothschild banking family. That amount — $30 trillion — is roughly one-third of the total investable wealth in the world. "If this bulk of capital decides that they are going to invest in companies that aren't only thinking about the short-term profit," says Rothschild, "then we will see corporate behavior change." The titans of commerce and finance didn't necessarily fly to this meeting in London out of a sense of ethics or moral duty, though that may be a motivation for some. For many, says Rothschild, it's a sense of self-preservation. Capitalism appears to be under siege. "It's true that the business of business is not to solve society's problems," she says. "But it is really dangerous for business when business is viewed as one of society's problems. And that is where we are today."
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing income inequality news articles from reliable major media sources.
A group of mothers, scientists and environmentalists met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulators on [May 27] over concerns that residues of Roundup, the world's most popular herbicide, had been found in breast milk. The meeting ... followed a five-day phone call blitz of EPA offices by a group called Moms Across America demanding that the EPA pay attention to their demands for a recall of Roundup. "This is a poison and it's in our food. And now they've found it in breast milk," said Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America. "Numerous studies show serious harm to mammals. We want this toxic treadmill of chemical cocktails in our food to stop." Roundup is an herbicide developed and sold by Monsanto Co. since the 1970s, and used in agriculture and home lawns and gardens. The chief ingredient, glyphosate, is under a standard registration review by the EPA. The agency has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if glyphosate use should continue as is, be limited or halted. Environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists from several countries have said in recent years that heavy use of glyphosate is causing problems for plants, people and animals. They say some tests have raised alarms about glyphosate levels found in urine samples and breast milk. In 2011, U.S. government scientists said they detected significant levels of glyphosate in air and water samples. Glyphosate is sprayed on most of the corn and soybean crops in the United States, as well as over sugar beets, canola and other crops.
Note: For further studies showing the grave dangers of Roundup and Glyphosate, see this article.
The Supreme Court has been quietly revising its decisions years after they were issued, altering the law of the land without public notice. The revisions include “truly substantive changes in factual statements and legal reasoning,” said Richard J. Lazarus, a law professor at Harvard and the author of a new study examining the phenomenon. The court’s secretive editing process has led judges and law professors astray, causing them to rely on passages that were later scrubbed from the official record. The widening public access to online versions of the court’s decisions, some of which do not reflect the final wording, has made the longstanding problem more pronounced. Unannounced changes have not reversed decisions outright, but they have withdrawn conclusions on significant points of law. The larger point, said Jeffrey L. Fisher, a law professor at Stanford, is that Supreme Court decisions are parsed by judges and scholars with exceptional care. “In Supreme Court opinions, every word matters,” he said. “When they’re changing the wording of opinions, they’re basically rewriting the law.” The court does warn readers that early versions of its decisions, available at the courthouse and on the court’s website, are works in progress. A small-print notice says that “this opinion is subject to formal revision before publication,” and it asks readers to notify the court of “any typographical or other formal errors.” But ... the court almost never notes when a change has been made, much less specifies what it was. And many changes do not seem merely typographical or formal.
A year after Obama laid out new conditions for drone attacks around the world, U.S. forces are failing to comply fully with the rules he set for them: to strike only when there is an imminent threat to Americans and when there is virtually no danger of taking innocent lives. Although Obama promised greater transparency in his speech at the National Defense University, U.S. lawmakers are increasingly critical of the secrecy surrounding the operations. There are growing concerns in Washington that the net effect of the targeted-killing program may be counterproductive. [Obama] is showing no sign of relinquishing what has become his counterterrorism weapon of choice since he took office in 2009. Drones are spreading to new areas ... in far-flung places like Somalia and in Nigeria. "Here we are, a year later, asking 'what has really changed?'" said University of Notre Dame law professor Mary Ellen O'Connell, a leading expert on extrajudicial killings who has testified before U.S. congressional committees. "The drones are still flying and the president still sees the attractiveness of this cold and antiseptic means of killing." Obama's vision of shifting control of the drone program from the shadowy paramilitary arm of the Central Intelligence Agency to the more publicly accountable Pentagon is moving at what one national security source described as a "glacial pace." The Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command is widely believed to have been behind the December 12 drone strike in a remote part of Yemen that hit a convoy later identified as a wedding procession, killing 15 people.
Note: For more on the expansion of drones in skies worldwide, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
In an almond orchard outside Turlock in the Central Valley, two large tanks hold water, minerals - and more importantly, energy. The tanks ... are part of a "flow battery" that stores energy from nearby solar panels. It's the largest battery of its kind in the world. And it could play a role in California's push to develop bigger and better ways to store large quantities of energy. This particular flow battery ... was built by EnerVault of Sunnyvale, part of the Bay Area's fast growing energy-storage industry. Like most of its competitors, EnerVault is young, founded in 2008, with about $30 million in venture funding to date. Some companies try to perfect the lithium-ion batteries found in laptops and electric cars. Others, including EnerVault and Primus Power of Hayward, specialize in flow batteries, which store energy in tanks of electrolytes. The fluid is then pumped through the battery's cells when power is needed. In contrast, the batteries found at a grocery store contain the electrolyte, cathode and anode all in one package. "Flow batteries are batteries turned inside out," said Jim Pape, EnerVault's chief executive officer. His company's flow batteries use iron and chromium, blended into the water inside its tanks. Both materials are safe to handle. Iron and chromium also have the benefit of being cheap. "That's our special sauce," Pape said. "Iron and chromium are very, very abundant, and abundance equals low cost."
While the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that installing solar panels on every home in America would produce 3.75 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity a year, ... photovoltaics still account for no more than 1.13 percent of America’s power production. [What] can municipalities do? It’s not like they can pave the streets with solar panels. That’s where the husband and wife team of Scott and Julie Brusaw would beg to differ. Since the mid-2000's, Scott, an electrical engineer, and Julie, a psychotherapist, have been developing special solar cells encased in rugged, hexagonal-shaped glass. Lay enough of these mechanical cobblestones together and you’ve built yourself a kind of hybrid driveway/solar array. For the Brusaws, the prototype, while impressive, makes up but a tiny chunk of a much more ambitious vision. According to their calculations, covering the nation’s nearly 28,000 square miles worth of roads, highways and parking spaces with these special panels would produce three times the nation’s total energy consumption. [In their vision], the panels would serve as the foundation for a do-it-all “smart” roadway system that’s capable of not only harvesting energy, but also making roads safer by using heat to remove surface ice and lighting up dark pathways with embedded LEDs. The “Solar Roadway” project, which the Brusaws proposed, was promising enough that, in 2009, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration awarded them a series of contracts to further their concept.
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