TGIF: Silly News From South Park And The Onion; Plus The RNC Pays For Abortions!
This week's episode of South Park hits upon pretty much every single thing that is relevant in today's world: American patriotism, the rise of Glenn Beck, the tribulations of elected office and smurfs. If you don't watch this clip, does that mean that you're practically the love spawn of Josef Stalin and Pol Pot? I don't know. I'm just asking questions.
By CHRISTINE SIMMONS (AP) – 10 hours ago
WASHINGTON — The Republican National Committee's health insurance plan covers elective abortions for its employees, an option Republicans strongly oppose in health overhaul legislation that Democrats are trying to push through Congress.
Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele learned of the policy's abortion coverage Thursday through a news report and immediately instructed staff to inform the insurance carrier that the RNC wanted to opt out of elective abortion coverage, RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said.
"Money from our loyal donors should not be used for this purpose," Steele said in a statement. "I don't know why this policy existed in the past, but it will not exist under my administration. Consider this issue settled."
Gitcho said the policy has been in effect since 1991.
A memo earlier from RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay to the organization's members said Steele was taking the issue very seriously and "has been engaged by phone on this issue."
The GOP platform traditionally includes strong anti-abortion language. All House Republicans, except one, voted for an amendment imposing restrictions of coverage for abortions in the health care bill that passed the House last Saturday. Inclusion of the abortion restrictions prompted an angry backlash from liberal House Democrats, and some are now threatening to vote against a final bill if the curbs stay in.
The memo said the RNC received a phone call from a reporter on Wednesday asking whether the RNC's health care policy, through Cigna, covered elective abortions for employees. On Thursday, Politico.com published a report citing two sales agents for Cigna who said the RNC's policy covered elective abortion.
The Cigna employees said the RNC didn't choose to opt out of abortion coverage when given the opportunity, Politico.com reported.
"Upon learning of this story, at the chairman's direction, we immediately contacted the Executive Committee," the RNC memo said. "We will be scheduling a call with the Executive Committee in the immediate future to discuss this matter more fully."
The memo said the RNC health insurance policy has been in review for some time.
"Chairman Steele had already called for an official review of our health insurance policy along with a number of other operational items," the memo said.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
All Eyes On This One Please!
(PhysOrg.com) -- A spinoff company from Arizona State University plans to build a new battery with an energy density 11 times greater than that of lithium-ion batteries for just one-third the cost. With a $5.13 million research grant from the US Department of Energy awarded last week, Fluidic Energy hopes to turn its ultra-dense energy storage technology into a reality.
The new Metal-Air Ionic Liquid battery is being designed by Cody Friesen, a professor of materials science at Arizona State and founder of Fluidic Energy, along with other researchers. The key to the new battery is that it uses ionic liquids as its electrolyte, which could help it overcome some significant problems faced by previous metal-air batteries. In the past, metal-air batteries have usually used water-based electrolytes, but due to water evaporation, the batteries tended to fail prematurely.
The advantage of ionic liquids, like those used in Fluidic Energy's new battery, is that they don't evaporate. Ionic liquids are salts that are a liquid at room temperature. Compared to water, ionic liquids are much more viscous, and they also conduct electricity fairly well. The challenge will be finding an inexpensive ionic liquid that works well in the new batteries, although Friesen has not yet discussed the specific ionic liquids his company has been investigating.
A metal-air battery that uses ionic liquids as its electrolyte could have several advantages. For one thing, it can function for a longer period time since its electrolyte doesn't evaporate. Also, the batteries could offer better electrochemical stability, which means they could use materials that have a greater energy density than zinc. Friesen and his research team hope to achieve energy densities of anywhere from 900 to 1,600 watt-hours per kilogram. This density could lead to electric vehicles that could travel 400 to 500 miles on a single charge, Friesen said.
Finally, Fluidic Energy is tackling another problem facing rechargeable batteries: the growth of dendrites that occurs on the electrodes during charging. Dendrites limit the number of charging cycles and decrease the lifetime of the battery. To combat this problem, Fluidic Energy has designed a porous electrode scaffold that prevents dendrite formation.
"I'm not claiming we have it yet, but if we do succeed, it really does change the way we think about storage," Friesen said.
via: Technology Review
© 2009 PhysOrg.com