One of the largest coal-fired power plants in the Southwest U.S. would undergo a $1.4 billion overhaul as part of a proposal to keep the plant operating for at least another decade while meeting stricter environmental requirements
SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN Associated Press
October 5, 2020, 11:47 PM
• 4 min read
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One of the largest coal-fired power plants in the U.S. Southwest would undergo a $1.4 billion overhaul as part of a proposal to keep the plant operating for at least another decade while meeting stricter environmental requirements aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes was in New Mexico on Monday to discuss the project, saying he believes carbon capture, use and storage technology — or CCUS — could be a game changer for fossil-fuel generation in the U.S. and around the world.
“Rather than driving out fuels that produce emissions, we drove emissions down while producing from these same fuels. We want to build on that amazing process,” he said. “CCUS is an an incredible example of innovation, one that has the potential to drive emissions down to zero, making fossil fuels as emission-free as renewables.”
Menezes released a report prepared for the Energy Department that concluded retrofitting the San Juan Generating Station would result in significantly more jobs for northwestern New Mexico than plans that involve replacing the plant with a mix of new natural gas-fired generating stations and solar and battery storage systems.
The report also looked at the economic impacts of the different scenarios on the Navajo workforce that has depended on the plant and adjacent coal mine for decades.
The San Juan Generating Station is set to close in 2022, and local elected leaders have warned that shuttering it will result in a loss of more than 1,500 jobs and $53 million in annual state and local tax revenues.
Enchant Energy and the city of Farmington are negotiating with Public Service Co. of New Mexico and the other owners to acquire the plant and outfit it with new technology. Under the plan, the company says 90% of the carbon dioxide could be stripped from emissions, with some being sold to the oil and gas industry to use in the recovery process and some being injected into the ground as part of a research project.
The technology was used on a much smaller scale in Texas. Company and government officials said if Enchant gets the green light, that would make the San Juan Generating Station the largest carbon capture project and the lowest carbon-emitting, large-scale fossil fuel power plant in the world.
Menezes said the goal is to commercialize the technology and move it from the prototype stage to the market place where it could be used on power plants around the world.
He acknowledged that the cost is still a hurdle and that the work being done by Enchant and research by New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, national laboratories and others is helping to bring it down. He said the Energy Department has made its own investments through grants and other funding.
The project also was the topic of a recent legislative meeting. A bipartisan contingent of state lawmakers noted that the project has the potential to stave off negative economic effects on rural communities while meeting New Mexico’s environmental mandates to be emissions-free by 2045.
“If we make this happen here, all of a sudden we become the world leader in carbon capture, use and sequestration and I mean world leader. There are places all over the world that are looking at this, thinking about it, but they want to see it really happen. And this is where it can really happen,” said Sen. Bill Sharer, a Republican whose district includes the power plant.
Enchant Energy CEO Cindy Crane said the San Juan plant was an attractive candidate because it has a stable coal source just next door at the San Juan Mine and already has low emissions of nitrogen and sulfur oxides, mercury and particulate matter. It’s also situated at the center of the Southwest’s electricity transmission system and is close to a pipeline that could funnel carbon dioxide to the some of the busiest oilfields in the nation.
A Northern California prosecutor says she’s reopening an investigation into the killing of a 22-year-old Black man at a train station by a transit officer 11 years ago
The Associated Press
October 5, 2020, 11:26 PM
• 2 min read
OAKLAND, Calif. — A Northern California prosecutor announced Monday that she will reopen qn investigation into the killing of a Black man at a train station by a transit officer 11 years ago.
Oscar Grant, 22, was fatally shot in the back by Bay Area Rapid Transit Officer Johannes Mehserle while he laid on the floor of a train station on New Year’s Day in 2009.
Mehserle was charged with murder, but a Los Angeles County jury found him guilty only of involuntary manslaughter and he served 11 months.
Mehserle claimed he mistakenly grabbed his gun instead of his Taser.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley’s announcement came just hours after Grant’s family held a news conference at the train station asking her to investigate the role of another officer in Grant’s death, the Mercury News of San Jose reported.
The family wants charges to be filed against former officer Anthony Pirone, who pinned Grant down with a knee to his neck in a manner similar to that used in the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis.
“We have listened closely to the requests of the family of Oscar Grant,” O’Malley said in a statement.
A 2009 BART police internal investigation report, released last year after a public records request, concluded that Pirone contributed significantly to Grant’s shooting, the newspaper reported.
Pirone was fired for his role and his statements that contradicted video surveillance and other officers’ and witnesses’ accounts of that night. The report found that he disregarded his training and rushed through the initial investigation, starting a “cascade of events that ultimately led to the shooting of Grant.”
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Grant’s mother, Wanda Johnson. “We should not have to wait another 11 years. … We were told then that it should happen, and it should happen now.”
The Associated Press could not immediately reach Pirone. A phone listing for him was disconnected.
O’Malley said she has assigned a team of lawyers “to look back into the circumstances that caused the death of Oscar Grant. We will evaluate the evidence and the law, including the applicable law at the time and make a determination.”
The transit agency later agreed to pay Grant’s daughter $5.1 million in a settlement.
As the European Union gets more serious about a digital euro, most central bank digital currencies intend to remove the anonymity of cash.
Our main discussion: central bank coins and financial privacy.
The EU recently released a new research paper on a possible digital euro. Like many other official central bank reports, it assumes there is no possibility of an anonymous digital bank currency. NLW dissects arguments from people including JP Koning and CoinCenter’s Jerry Brito on why this shouldn’t be true.
Bitcoin’s price is steadily increasing after last week’s bad news dump; while Ethereum’s fees fall.
Bitcoin (BTC) trading around $10,734 as of 20:15 UTC (4:15 p.m. ET). Gaining 0.51% over the previous 24 hours.
Bitcoin’s 24-hour range: $10,621-$10,775
BTC above its 10-day and 50-day moving averages, a bullish signal for market technicians.
Bitcoin’s price has been on a steady rise since Saturday, topping out at $10,775 Monday on spot exchanges such as Coinbase. Cindy Leow, portfolio manager for 256 Capital Partners, a multi-strategy trading firm, notes bitcoin’s capacity to rebound from recent unpleasant news. “Bitcoin has quickly recovered from back-to-back news about the [Commodity Futures Trading Commission] and the Department of Justice’s indictment against BitMEX as well as news of [Pres. Donald] Trump contracting COVID, speaking to its short-term resilience.”
Despite bitcoin’s bounceback, Constantin Kogan, partner at crypto fund-of-funds BitBull Capital, is concerned as the derivatives market indicates many traders are still sitting out. “Bitcoin has been stuck in a $10,000-$11,000 channel for the last month,” he said. “Lending yields have fallen across the board as investors await the return of volatility and measure the potential impacts of BitMEX’s stunning downfall.”
A sign of distress can be seen by comparing bitcoin’s funding rates with those of competitors. Funding rates are fees paid by one side of a futures contract to the other. When they’re positive, it usually reflects bullish sentiment, while negative rates are bearish.
But BitMEX’s negative funding rate might be a sign that investors are leaving the venue, according to Vishal Shah, an options trader and founder of derivatives exchange Alpha5.
BitMEX’s funding rate is currently around -0.0124%, while funding rates for major competitors have been at or close to zero for the past three days.
“It’s a function of unwinds,” Shah said. “Long positions are coming unwound to an extent, open interest has fallen materially, as expected.”
“This makes BitMEX a relatively cheaper venue for BTC-denominated players to gain topside leverage,” Shah said. “But that discount isn’t material; you’d have to justify the risk for a 5-10% annualized gain given the regulatory overhang.”
While many investors are justifiably losing interest in BitMEX due to its looming legal issues, bitcoin’s dominance, its market share in relation to the total crypto capitalization, has been bouncing back from 2020 lows in September.
Dominance starting to trend upwards could affect price, especially if there is sell pressure on both bitcoin and altcoins, said 256 Capital’s Leow. “While this may seem bullish for BTC, it is also a cautionary signal: When low-cap alts dump while BTC stays flat, BTC tends to follow suit in the short-term.”
Daily Ethereum fees drop
The second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, ether (ETH), was down Monday trading around $351 and slipping 0.37% in 24 hours as of 20:15 UTC (4:15 p.m. ET).
Fees on Ethereum totalled 5,560 ETH Saturday, the lowest amount spent on the network since August 8. Used to conduct transactions and interact with smart contracts that constitute decentralized finance or DeFi, Ethereum fees have been hitting all-time highs as of late. On Sept. 17, for example, a record 42,763 ETH in fees were paid to miners.
Jean-Marc Bonnefous, managing partner of Tellurian Capital, an investment firm, doesn’t expect Ethereum fees, also known as gas, to stay low. “I suspect this is a temporary lull only as the structural issue of the gas costs has not gone away,” he said. Traders could take advantage of the respite in fees to rebalance, Bonnefous noted. “It may be a good time to readjust portfolios at a cheaper cost.”
Digital assets on the CoinDesk 20 are mostly green Monday. Notable winners as of 20:15 UTC (4:15 p.m. ET):
A high school principal in Florida who was fired last year after telling a student’s mother “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” might be rehired this week
The Associated Press
October 5, 2020, 9:58 PM
• 2 min read
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A high school principal in Florida who was fired last year after telling a student’s mother “not everyone believes the Holocaust happened” might be rehired this week.
Superintendent Donald Fennoy has recommended that the Palm Beach County school board rehire former Spanish River High School Principal William Latson and give him $152,000 in back pay, news outlets reported. The board is set to meet Wednesday. The recommendation follows a Florida administrative judge’s August ruling that Latson should not have been fired.
The school board voted 5-2 last October to fire Latson on grounds of “ethical misconduct” and “failure to carry out job responsibilities.” The official justification for his termination was failure to return messages from school district officials in the days after his comments made international news.
Latson had initially been reassigned from the Boca Raton school to a district office job because of the outcry over his email to a mother who inquired whether the school’s students study the Holocaust. Latson, who had been at Spanish River for eight years, replied to the mother that as an educator his job was to be “politically neutral.”
“I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee,” he wrote.
The mother, thinking Latson had expressed himself poorly, wrote back, saying, “The Holocaust is a factual, historical event. It is not a right or belief.”
Latson replied, “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened.” He added, “You have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”
The Germans under Nazi rule killed 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. The Nazis also exterminated another 5 million people during World War II including Slavs, Roma, also known as Gypsies, gays and people with disabilities.
Based around Frank Herberts bestselling sci-fi novel, the story revolves around a power struggle for the remote desert planet Arrakis — the galaxy’s only source of “spice” — used for interstellar space travel.
The Acer Predator Triton 500 is everything I want in a gaming laptop. It checks all the boxes, and then it checks boxes in those boxes, like zooming in on a fractal of dope gaming laptop credentials.It’s “cool” but subtle enough for a coffee shop. It’s got significant horsepower but doesn’t bog it down with pointless software. It’s capable of on-the-go gaming (power supply recommended) but can power through nearly four hours of work on a single charge. Perhaps the most seductive feature of all is the display – a 15.6-inch IPS screen that’s capable of a 300hz refresh rate. That’s a display fluid enough to warrant a “silky smooth” cliche.
Acer Predator Triton 500 – Specs
Model: Acer Predator Triton 500
Display: 15.6” IPS with 300hz refresh rate (1,920 x 1,080)
I usually hate the “gaming aesthetic.” It’s often carelessly done, lumping neons and shiny blacks as a catchall design sensibility. I would gladly trade RGB and neon plastic for clean lines and premium materials. But the Triton 500 is somehow able to walk that tightrope, meshing an almost timeless aesthetic with enough cool RGB bells and whistles to win over even a hater like me.The best part of the Triton’s design is doubtlessly its brushed aluminum chassis. It looks fantastic and feels sturdy and expensive. Closed, the Triton is impossibly thin – just shy of 18mm (not even three-quarters of an inch!). Along the chassis, you’ll find a deluge of ports. There are three USB type-A ports, one USB-C, an HDMI port, an E3100 Ethernet Controller, and even a MiniDisplay Port. Where there aren’t ports there are exhaust vents each tied to the Triton’s triple-fan cooling system.
That cooling system is called the 4th Gen Aeroblade 3D technology. It’s a fancy name, but gaming laptops get hot no matter how fancy their cooling system’s name. While playing the most part, they won’t stop your computer from getting hot (and loud). At peak performance, this laptop runs so hot, it can actually be uncomfortable, especially in the vent just above the keyboard. That being said, I rarely experienced any thermal throttling, thanks in part to the jet engine-like fans.
Speaking of loud, the Triton’s speakers are plenty loud, but you might not like what you hear at higher decibels. Audio quickly gets distorted at louder volumes and sounds a bit muddled at lower ones. PredatorSense has a multitude of options to adjust the audio for Movies, Shooters, Music, Voice, even Strategy whatever that means. But no matter what I tried, I couldn’t make the speakers sound clean at low or high volumes.
The metal of the chassis picks up its fair share of smudges and fingerprints, especially on the top cover, which can make the laptop look grimy, but I’d still take it over a shiny plastic in a heartbeat. It’s all fairly subtle, save for the sharp, illuminated Predator logo on the back, which is one of the only things you can’t customize.
That’s because, thanks to a suave software companion called “PredatorSense,” you can customize just about everything. You can control your fans, set audio profiles, change your boot logo, or customize your keyboard RGB lights on a per-key basis and save it to a profile. I had way more fun with this than expected, and I made an embarrassing number of profiles. One “Gaming” profile, I leaned into the kitschy aesthetic I usually detest. Every keystroke sent a ripple of bright green lights from my fingers in what can only be described as Matrix-esque fever dream. I also made one sexy coffee shop guy profile, where the keys remained white, save for a red delete key for good measure.
There are some comically bad options in there too. Settings that make the lights zoom distractingly from left to right and back again, or one reasonably innocuous option called “Breathing” that lights up your keyboard, then totally dims it. Or “Snake” which lights up keys like a game of, well, snake on your keyboard. One favorite is “Afterglow,” which briefly makes each struck key glow for a moment before dimming, giving each keystroke a subtle consequence.
Acer Predator Triton 500 – Performance and Gaming
If the Triton’s design is demure, its internals are anything but. You’ll find a 10th gen Intel Core i7 Mobile processor and GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q under the keyboard. Its DDR4 RAM is configurable up to 32GB and up to 1TB of PCIe NVMe storage.
It’s a powerhouse, in other words. I never had any issue with any game even playing at the top of the line. When I felt the computer could utilize a little extra horsepower, I popped the Turbo button that sits above the F1 and F2 buttons. Doing so overclocks the CPU and delivers some serious extra juice. In fact, I ran every benchmark test twice – once with the Turbo button on and once off. It consistently delivered across-the-board performance improvements, including an extra 5+ frames per second.
Overclocking comes at a price, and that’s heat and battery life, the two areas where the Triton already struggles. If you’re ever planning on actually putting this laptop on your lap, you’ll need to be careful. While the top vents get hot to the touch, they’re nothing in comparison to the bottom of the computer where the intakes sit. After a 30 minute session of Metro Exodus, the system was 120 degrees Fahrenheit – and likely much warmer on the bottom.
To counteract that molten core, the Predator requires you to plug in to utilize the Turbo button, which solves two problems. One, it prevents people from using it in their laps and two, it leviates the battery concerns. Activating Turbo instantly kicks all the fans into overdrive. Those fans are loud. Loud enough to hear from the opposite end of my apartment. And they’re frankly loud enough to make me think long and hard about activating them for most games’ negligible performance boosts. But when a game finally tests the laptop, like Metro Exodus or Death Stranding, the choice is obvious.
Much of the keyboard seems designed to be quickly familiarized. There’s a significant spread between each key, which makes it easy to single out individual keys, and small ridges on the “F” and “J” keys help ensure your hands are in the right spot. The WASD, arrow keys, and special PredatorSense keys are outlined in a clear cap that makes them easy to hunt and peck when needed. As mentioned earlier, the customizable RGB lighting is a nice touch too. The keys can feel a bit mushy at times, especially when writing long documents like, say, a “Laptop Review.”
And then there’s the PredatorSense button, aka the bane of my existence. It sits lodged to the right of the backspace key, and while I tested this laptop, I accidentally triggered it no fewer than 25 times. Doing so doesn’t just bring up the PredatorSense window, it minimizes your current window. That goes from annoying to infuriating real quick, especially during gaming sessions where the game’s on the line – though mercifully, this is also when I’m much less likely to press “backspace.” Instead, it’s most likely to occur when you’re working, aka the last time you’d ever need to overclock your laptop. Unfortunately, I never found a way to disable the button, so I just had to live with the annoying interruptions.
On the flip side of the keyboard is one of the Triton’s hallmark features, an IPS FHD display capable of a 300hz refresh rate with G-Sync. It bears repeating: that is a shockingly fast refresh rate. It’s a display deserving of the cliche, “Silky Smooth” and easily one of the best gaming displays I’ve seen on a laptop. In action, everything looks so fluid you might just begin to resent other panels.
However, the sad truth is that the refresh rate is something you’re going to experience most often when you’re not gaming. Getting that kind of refresh rate while playing a graphically demanding game is just not going to happen. I was able to achieve more than 200 FPS playing games like Age of Empires: Definitive Edition and I got more than 144 FPS in Valorant, too. And the Triton 500 let me experience the glory of every one of those frames. But in anything graphically demanding, 300hz is a far cry from what’s achievable.
It bears repeating: that 300Hz is a shockingly fast refresh rate
And not to sound ungrateful, but I did occasionally feel a bit claustrophobic with the 1080p FHD display. Games that don’t depend on high refresh rates but benefit from larger fields of view – like certain real-time strategy games – had me longing for a UHD monitor. Unfortunately, the hit to battery life and stress on the GPU to achieve 4K would likely require Acer to rework the Triton 500 from the ground up.
Acer Predator Triton 500 – Battery Life
Despite packing a decently large 5,400mAh battery, the Acer Predator Triton 500 has mediocre battery life. Our PCMark Modern Office test simulates desk job conditions – it pegged the battery around 3 hours and 58 minutes. My real-world testing had the battery drained much faster, in a measly 2 hours and 21 minutes. But suppose you’re just planning to work. In that case, there are myriad options for extending your battery life, including lowering the performance, turning off G-Sync, dropping the RGB, and reducing the display refresh rate to 60hz.
Unsurprisingly, gaming eviscerated the battery. It took just one hour and nine minutes to completely power down the device with middle of the road performance (things like the Turbo button are unavailable without being connected to power).
Despite the sub-par battery life, I’m okay with the compromise if it’s part of what contributes to the laptop’s thin form factor.
Egypt has unearthed 59 ancient mummies from 2,600 years ago and fortunately for Brendan Fraser, no curse has been detected.Egypt’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister, Khalid el-Anany, announced on October 3 that a team of archaeologists discovered dozens of coffins in a necropolis south of Cairo, according to a report from The Washington Post. This led to the discovery of 59 sealed sarcophagi, many of which had mummies inside. It was determined that these sarcophagi were buried more than 2,600 years ago.
“I consider this the beginning of a big discovery,” el-Anany said.
That’s because el-Anany said this discovery was just the first of many that he believes will lead to even more sarcophagi from the area. As if Brendan Fraser, who played famed adventurer and tomb raider Rick O’Connell in 1999’s The Mummy, wasn’t already sweating over what might lie within, one of the 59 sarcophagi was opened at a press conference on October 3 to reveal the mummy inside. Fortunately, no curses were released and Imhotep and his army of undead were nowhere to be found.
The mummies were discovered in Saqqara, which is home to 11 pyramids. These sarcophagi were specifically discovered in the Step Pyramid. The burial sites in Saqqara date back to the 1st Dynasty, which ranges from 2921 B.C. to 2770 B.C.E., and to the Coptic period, which ranges from 395 to 492 C.E.
Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziri, told reporters that the coffins likely belonged to priests and other elite figures of the Pharaonic Late period, which ranges from 664 to 525 B.C.E. These coffins were found with 28 statues of Ptah-Soker, the main god of the Saqqara necropolis, and a 35cm bronze statue of Nefertum, god of the lotus blossom and perfume.
El-Anany said these 59 coffins will join 30 ancient wooden coffins discovered earlier this month in Luxor and all of them will be showcased at the Grand Egyptian Museum currently under construction near the Giza Pyramids.
A white University of New Hampshire chemistry professor has been accused of posing as an immigrant woman of color on Twitter to make racist and sexist comments on the fake account and attack users who supported racial justice and other progressive causes
MICHAEL CASEY Associated Press
October 5, 2020, 9:49 PM
• 4 min read
A white University of New Hampshire chemistry professor is accused of posing as an immigrant woman of color on Twitter to make racist and sexist comments and attack users who supported racial justice and other progressive causes.
The university has not named the professor whom it said was being investigated related to allegations on social media. A spokesperson said that the person “is on leave and not in the classroom.”
“We are deeply troubled by what we’ve learned so far and immediately launched an investigation,” University spokeswoman Erika Mantz said.
The chair of the university’s Chemistry Department, Glen Miller, refused to discuss the case.
But in an email to the department that was shared with The Associated Press by a department source who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation, Miller acknowledged the professor had set up a fake Twitter account and posted tweets that ranged from “unfortunate to hurtful to deeply offensive.”
Several people who have reviewed the account before it was taken down last week said it routinely posted racist, sexist and transphobic comments and images over the past year.
Toby Santamaria, a graduate student studying plant biology at Michigan State who identifies with the gender-neutral term Latinx, was attacked online by followers of the Twitter account.
“I’m disgusted but not really surprised,” Santamaria said.
The person behind the account also detailed how they had fought efforts from their unnamed department to speak out on racial injustice following the death of George Floyd. They also routinely brought up their fake background to criticize users who were pushing for greater diversity in science, mathematics, engineering and technology or STEM fields.
“It just wanted to silent dissent,” said Santamaria, recalling how the user would often suggest trans people didn’t exist and that sexism and racism in STEM was not an issue.
“Every time people would criticize the account and say that we do know racism exist in STEM and we do know sexism is a problem, it would say I am a woman of color so there, it’s not an issue.”
Susanna Harris, who runs a company that supports graduate students and clashed with the person behind the account, agreed the goal of posting as a person of color was to discredit diversity efforts.
“It gives validity to the thoughts of people, in my opinion, that are pushing this racist narrative that these efforts aren’t needed,” she said.
More troubling, Santamaria and Harris said, was the account user’s habit of attacking mostly women of color who disagreed with him and encouraging his followers to do the same. Both women came under attack after calling for the account to be ignored or coming to the defense of those who had been attacked.
The account accused Harris of trying to prevent debate because she was white. In the days that followed, the person also blamed Harris for the suicide of a North Carolina professor, who had recently retired after a backlash over comments he made on social media.
“It was scary,” Harris said of the exchange. “Sometimes, the internet crosses into real life. A lot of work I do is through social media and science communication. Defaming my character online affects my ability to do those things but also there is the very real threat that people could find my personal location.”
The case comes at a sensitive time for the university. It has been working for several years to address racism on campus and diversify the student body. Last week, it held a virtual town hall on racism, diversity, equity and inclusion.
For that reason, many familiar with the case argue the university has to take a tough line against the professor. Some have called for him to be removed while others argued he should be put on extended leave and be required to take extensive racial sensitivity training.
Miller, in his email, said that he was “deeply offended” by the professor’s “words and tactics, but I am not giving up on” him. “I wish to give him an opportunity to repair the damage and move forward, difficult as that may be,” he added.