Carrie Fisher Fast Facts

(CNN)Here’s a look at the life of actress and writer Carrie Fisher, who was best-known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movie franchise.

Death date: December 27, 2016
Birth place: Beverly Hills, California
    Birth name: Carrie Frances Fisher
    Father: Eddie Fisher, singer
    Mother: Debbie Reynolds, actress and singer
    Marriages: Paul Simon (August 1983-July 1984, divorced)
    Children: with Bryan Lourd: Billie Catherine Lourd
    Education: Attended Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London
    Other Facts:
    Was nominated for two Emmy Awards.
    Acted in film, plays, and television, and wrote a number of best-selling books.

    Photos: Fisher through the years

    Story: A champion for mental health

    Video: Her most memorable moments

    Story: Hollywood royalty, but a writing jester

    Video: Her affair with Harrison Ford

    CNN interview: ‘I didn’t want to be famous’

    Fisher lobbied as an advocate for mental health awareness and treatment and had spoken before the California State Senate.
    She credited the psychiatric hospital Silver Hill in New Canaan, Connecticut, with helping her get her life back together after treatment for alcohol addiction and bipolar disorder. “It was one of the best places I was ever institutionalized.”
    Timeline:
    1972 –
    Drops out of high school at age 15 to appear on Broadway in the musical, “Irene,” starring her mother, Debbie Reynolds.
    1975 – Film debut in the movie, “Shampoo,” starring Warren Beatty.
    1977 – Stars as Princess Leia in the first “Star Wars” film.
    1980 – Stars in “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.”
    1983 – Stars in “Star Wars: Episode VI – The Return of the Jedi.”
    1990 – Release of the film adaptation of Fisher’s novel, “Postcards from the Edge,” starring Meryl Streep. The screenplay is also written by Fisher.
    February 26, 2005 – Friend and Republican media adviser R. Gregory “Greg” Stevens is found dead in Fisher’s home.
    November 15, 2006 – Her one-woman biographical play, “Wishful Drinking,” is produced in Los Angeles.
    December 2008 – Publishes the memoir, “Wishful Drinking,” based on her 2006 one-woman play.
    December 12, 2010 – Fisher’s documentary, “Wishful Drinking,” airs on HBO.
    November 2011 – Her memoir, “Shockaholic,” is published.
    December 14, 2015 – Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens premieres, with Fisher, along with Mark Hamill (“Luke Skywalker”) and Harrison Ford (“Han Solo”) reprising their original 1977 roles.
    November 16, 2016 – Fisher reveals to People magazine she and co-star Harrison “Han Solo” Ford had an affair during the 1976 filming of “Star Wars.”
    December 27, 2016 – Fisher dies four days after suffering a cardiac event on a flight from London to Los Angeles.
    June 16, 2017 – The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner concludes that “sleep apnea and other undetermined factors” contributed to Fisher’s death in December at the age of 60. The autopsy report notes the significance of the “multiple substances that were detected in Fisher’s blood and tissue” with regard to the cause of death could not be established.

    Read more: www.cnn.com

    New Chevy Silverado ad attacks aluminum Ford F-150…with stones

     (Chevrolet)

    Chevrolet has a new ad campaign designed to crush Ford. Literally.

    In it, Chevy takes aim at the Ford F-150’s aluminum bed by dropping an 825-pound load of landscaping stones into it, which puncture the surface. A Silverado subjected to the same punishment suffers only scrapes and dents to its high-strength steel bed. Metal toolboxes are then pushed off of the side rails of both trucks and into the beds, with the same result.

    Chevrolet says it conducted the rock test 12 times, with the Silverado suffering no punctures and the F-150 a total of 53. The tool box test was conducted 14 times, resulting in 2 punctures in the Chevy and 13 in the F-150. The company released additional video evidence backing up its claims along with the results of additional laboratory tests.

    Chevys marketing has previously touted studies that found the Silverado to have lower costs of ownership and repairs than the F-150, but the effort hasnt appeared to put much of a dent into the Fords sales. Through the end of May, F-Series sales were up over seven percent to 324,307, while the Silverado’s dropped nearly 13 percent to 223,990 compared to last year. Those figures include super and heavy duty versions of the pickups, Fords not featuring aluminum beds.

    Ford has not directly refuted the results of the new Chevrolet tests, but issued a statement that reads:

    When you’re the market leader for 39 years, competitors sometimes try to take shots at you with marketing stunts. The fact remains that F-150’s high-strength, military grade, aluminum alloy cargo box offers the best combination of strength, durability, corrosion resistance, capability, safety and fuel efficiency ever offered in a pickup. We have built nearly a million new F-150s, and our lead over the competition continues to grow.

    Ford switched to an all-aluminum body on the F-150 to improve its fuel efficiency and hauling capability. While the current Silverado uses an aluminum hood, many analysts expect the next generation to expand the use of the lightweight material to other parts of its body.

    When asked during a conference call about the new ads if Chevy would ever offer an aluminum bed on the Silverado, Engineering Group Manager: Advanced Technology for Body Systems Mark Voss said only that the company will consider anything that can exceed roll formed high strength steel.

    Read more:

    Slump in oil prices drives green energy takeup in top exporting nations

    With oil at below $30 a barrel, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran and Kuwait are looking to curb fossil fuel use at home to maximise exportation profits

    The oil price slump below $30 barrel is spurring some of the worlds biggest oil exporters to curb domestic consumption of fossil fuel and invest in wind and solar power, according to government officials session in Abu Dhabi.

    A month after the historic climate agreement in Paris, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and other petroleum exporters are in the midst of overhauling domestic energy policies and seeking alternatives to oil and gas for electricity.

    The main motive is not reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but cutting back on domestic energy demand that is taking up a rising share of production. Oil exporters would rather sell their fossil fuel abroad than burn them at home, government officials attending meetings of the International Renewable Energy Agency( Irena) said.

    Since oil prices began their precipitous slide, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, the UAE and other big oil producers have cut energy and water subsidies, imposed energy conservation measures, and encouraged homeowners to install solar panels in an effort to cut back on domestic consumption.

    Speaking on the sidelines of Irenas annual meetings and Abu Dhabis sustainability week, officials said the slide in prices offered further incentive to get off oil at least as a source of electricity.

    It is just common sense in my opinion, said Saad Salem Al Jandel, a research scientist at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research and a delegate to the Irena meeting.

    We are expending so much, something like$ 8bn( PS5. 6bn) to $10 bn on gasoline and power stations, so we want to replace part of it with renewables, and we can also do better with energy conservation and energy efficiency.

    Al Jandel went on: Instead of using oil in power generation we might sell it and get hard currency.

    Iranian officials have arrived at a similar conclusion. With the lifting of sanctions, Iran was looking to free up more oil and gas for export by cutting domestic demand, Jafar Mohammadnejad Sigaroudi, deputy planning and development in Irans ministry of energy, told the Guardian.

    We hope to use our gas for other uses, such as exporting, he told. Draft regulations, due to be adopted by the Iranian parliament in the coming weeks, define a new energy conservation target and realigned costs for gale and solar energy, imposing a social cost for carbon that will help bring the cost of renewables almost at a par with fossil fuel even with oil below $30 a barrel.

    Renewables can be the same as fossil fuel because the price of oil is decrease but the cost of transmitting is very high, he said.

    The initiatives confound the conventional wisdom that low oil prices deter the transition to renewable energy, a position reiterated by the head of the International Energy Agency in Davos on Wednesday, but are born of harsh necessity.

    Since 2000, energy demand among the Middle Eastern oil producers has grown at 5% a year, outstripping China and India. Saudi Arabia, the worlds biggest oil exporter, is now the seventh largest customer of fossil fuels, according to a report from Irena published on Wednesday.

    The United Nations agency, which was founded to promote renewable energy and is based in Abu Dhabi, warned the rise in domestic energy risked eating into exports.

    Across the oil-producing region, countries are taking measures to cut domestic demand.

    Saudi Arabia, which faces a $98 bn budget deficit and is considering listing the state-owned Aramco oil company on the stock exchange, has set a goal of cutting energy demand 8% by 2021.

    The UAE, which diverts about a quarter of its production for domestic energy use, this month began charging households for water and electricity. The whole mentality of our people will have to change, said Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the director of energy and climate change. I think in the upcoming 10 years we will see a major change in the whole region.

    Kuwait set a target of sourcing 15% of its electricity from wind and solar by 2030, and stimulating houses 10% more energy efficient, Al Jandel said.

    Qatar planned to get 20% of its electricity from renewables and reduce water consumption by 35%, according to Irenas report.

    Egypt set a renewables target of 30% by 2030, Mohamed Shaker El-Markabi, the countrys energy and renewable energy minister, told the Irena meeting.

    Jordan, which imports virtually all of its oil and gas, installed solar panel on the royal household and define a target of sourcing 20% of its energy from solar and wind power by 2025. The monarch imported Tesla electric cars for himself and senior ministers, and the authorities concerned waived the countrys prohibitive automobile import obligations on hybrids and plug-ins.

    The reforms just made sense, told Ibrahim Saif, the countrys energy minister.

    We had the kind of consumption patterns that were detached or disconnected from international reality, he told the Guardian. It was not that we were utilizing the energy to render commodities or goods. We were utilizing it for transportation. We were use it for cooling down.

    Beyond the Countries of the middle east, Russia, the worlds second largest petroleum exporter, is also scaling up its use of renewables, targeting remote regions such as the far east and northern territories.

    Alexey Teksler, the first deputy minister of energy, told the Irena meeting that Russia planned to source about 10% of its electricity from renewable sources over the next 20 years.

    A

    A field of solar panel at the King Abdulaziz city of Sciences and Technology, Al-Oyeynah Research Station in Saudi Arabia. Photograph: Fahad Shadeed/ Reuters

    Al Jandel said the shifting suggested that the old assumption about competition between renewables and fossil fuels no longer held. The world is genuinely witnessing that there is a distinction between the price of renewables and oil. Oil is going down at the same time as renewables are going down, he told. That means they are separate technologies, separate notions and they do not affect each other.

    Its unclear what effect the energy overhaul will have on climate pollution in a region with some of the worlds highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions.

    Countries of the states of the region, while breaking their reliance on petroleum, are not necessarily embracing renewable energy sources. The UAE, which committed to diversifying its energy supply several years ago, plans to source 24% of its energy from non-fossil sources by 2021 but about 20% of that would be nuclear, with the first of four reactors at a site near the Saudi border scheduled to come on line in late 2017 or 2018.

    Last October, the UAE signed off on a new $1.8 bn coal-fired power plant.

    Even so, Anthony Hobley, chief executive of the Carbon Tracker Initiative, said the moves indicate the beginning of the end for the dominance of fossil fuel. The writing is clearly on the wall that we are facing the end of the fossil fuel era, and if your economy depends on that it would be prudent in the extreme to plan for that transition while you still have respectable revenue, he said.

    Read more: www.theguardian.com

    ‘Uber should be shut down’: friends of self-driving car crash victim seek justice

    Loved ones are in shock over the death of Elaine Herzberg in Arizona, but questions remain as to whether Uber will be held accountable

    Friends of the first known pedestrian to be killed by a self-driving car have called for Uber to be held accountable as questions mount about how the autonomous technology failed to stop the vehicle from hitting a human in its path.

    Two days after an Uber SUV fatally struck the 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona, while traveling in autonomous mode, friends of the victim have argued that the ride-share company should face consequences and criticized government officials for encouraging car companies to test the vehicles on the state’s public roads.

    “This shouldn’t have ever happened,” said Carole Kimmerle, a Mesa resident who said she had been friends with Herzberg for more than 10 years and had previously lived with her. “I think this should be a negligent homicide … and the government should also be held accountable.”

    Elaine
    Elaine Herzberg had struggled with homelessness, but was turning her life around, friends say. Photograph: Courtesy of Carole Kimmerle

    Herzberg’s loved ones said they were still in shock on Tuesday after police announced that the Uber car, an SUV Volvo, was driving roughly 40 miles per hour on its own and did not appear to slow down when it collided with the victim, who was walking her bicycle in front of the car at 10pm on Sunday. There was a human operator in the front seat, but police said the car was in autonomous mode, which meant the radar technology may not have detected the pedestrian or the vehicle did not stop for another reason.

    Tempe police said Herzberg was not in a crosswalk when she was hit, though some have argued that the car still should have stopped. Uber said it was temporarily pausing its self-driving operations in Phoenix and other cities, but the company has not commented on the cause of the crash.

    As federal investigators have begun their inquiry, local police officials have appeared to cast blame on the victim, saying Uber may not have been at fault, sparking further backlash from the woman’s friends.

    “Uber should be shut down for it,” one friend, Deniel Klapthor, told the Guardian. “There has to be a bigger punishment than not allowing them to drive it on the street.”

    Kimmerle added, “She was not in anyway unsafe. She rode a bike everywhere. She was very cautious of the laws.”

    Herzberg had struggled with homelessness, according to her friends, who said she had recently turned her life around and was in the process of starting a new job.

    If her family were to pursue a civil case, attorneys could potentially make a range of negligence claims, said Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina and a legal expert on autonomous cars.

    Depending on what might have gone wrong, the victim’s family could argue that a number of players were liable, including the car maker, the operator behind the wheel, the manufacturers of various specific technologies, and Uber itself, he said.

    “The attorney would want to say to a hypothetical jury, ‘These are really scary systems. They demand the utmost care and responsibility.’ And the lawyer would suggest that’s not the case here,” said Smith.

    Ryan Calo, a University of Washington law professor and self-driving expert, predicted the company would try to resolve any case quickly and privately: “Uber will settle this immediately for an undisclosed amount of money.”

    The first reported fatal self-driving car crash happened in 2016 when a Tesla on “autopilot” did not detect a white truck in its path. There have since been a series of high-profile incidents involving Teslas, Ubers and other companies, and some have raised concerns that even if self-driving technology is a safer mode of travel, the industry is entering a particularly dangerous phase of development when the vehicles aren’t yet fully autonomous and require humans to intervene.

    Arizona has lured self-driving car operators to the state by arguing it has fewer regulations than other jurisdictions – a fact that upset Herzberg’s friends, who said the government should have done more to prevent these kinds of crashes.

    “In Tempe, they’re everywhere,” said Jerry Higgins, another friend of Herzberg, who said he keeps his eye on the self-driving cars and said he was struggling to understand how the collision occurred: “Don’t they have a driver in the car that’s supposed to keep stuff like this from happening? … I don’t see how they didn’t work something like this into the programs.”

    Herzberg loved to read and write and was always generous and offering to help others even when she was dealing with her own struggles, said Kimmerle.

    “She was very loving,” she said. “The world lost a good person.”

    Read more: www.theguardian.com

    Stormont: New NI power-sharing executive formed – BBC News

    Media captionClaire Sugden says taking the role of justice minister was a ‘difficult decision’

    A new team of ministers has been appointed to the Northern Ireland power-sharing executive.

    Most of the posts have been shared out between the two biggest parties, the Democratic Unionists and Sinn Fin.

    The executive was formed after independent unionist MLA Claire Sugden was appointed as justice minister.

    Last week, Secretary of State Theresa Villiers warned there would be fresh assembly elections if the justice post was not filled.

    The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) are forming an opposition.

    The posts have been shared out using a system called D’Hondt, in which ministerial posts are allocated according to parties’ representation in the assembly.

    Under this system, the DUP, Sinn Fin, SDLP and Ulster Unionists would have been entitled to nominate. However, the SDLP and UUP declined to nominate a minster and are, instead, forming the first formal opposition in the assembly.

    Ms Sugden said that while it would be a huge challenge, she felt she was “up to” the job of justice minister – a job that had been turned down by the Alliance Party.

    “This is an opportunity for me, not only for me, but for the people of my constituency and the people of Northern Ireland,” she said.

    “I am a progressive person, I do look forward to working with my executive colleagues.”

    Image caption All of the executive ministers have now been announced

    The DUP ministers are:

    • Simon Hamilton – minister for the economy
    • Peter Weir – minister for education
    • Paul Givan – minister for the department of communities
    • Michelle McIlveen – minister for agriculture, environment and rural affairs.

    The Sinn Fin ministers are:

    • Mirtn Muilleoir – minister for finance
    • Michelle O’Neill – minister for health
    • Chris Hazzard – minister for infrastructure.

    Analysis: BBC News NI’s economics editor John Campbell

    Mirtn Muilleoir is the first Sinn Fin minister to hold a major economic brief in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

    Read more

    The DUP’s Simon Hamilton is only 39, but by the standards of this youthful executive he is a veteran, having previously served as minister of both finance and health.

    Read more

    Ms Sugden, 29, an assembly member for East Londonderry, succeeds Alliance Party leader David Ford as justice minister.

    Shortly after her appointment, the DUP leader and First Minister Arlene Foster said: “This is a good day for Northern Ireland, the people will have a government in place today.”

    She added: “Martin [McGuinness] and I are delighted that Claire has agreed to be the new justice minister for the new mandate.”

    Analysis: BBC News NI’s health correspondent Marie-Louise Connolly

    The issues awaiting Northern Ireland’s new health minister, Sinn Fin’s Michelle O’Neill, are familiar and urgent.

    Read more

    Mr McGuinness, who formally nominated Ms Sugden, said that even though the independent MLA had sat in what he called “the naughty corner” in the assembly, he had been impressed by her.

    “She is a very progressive young woman, someone who I think clearly understands the need to be a minister for everybody within our community.”

    Image caption Deputy First Minister Mr McGuinnesss said Ms Sugden is “a very impressive young woman”

    However, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt described Ms Sugden’s appointment as a “corruption of the Good Friday Agreement”.

    “With one seat in the assembly, you get a seat at the executive table,” he said.

    “No wonder the Ulster Unionist Party opposed the devolution of policing and justice.”

    Image caption Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt described Ms Sugden’s appointment as a “corruption of the Good Friday Agreement”

    SDLP leader Colum Eastwood also said Ms Sugden’s appointment was a corruption of the d’Hondt voting system for the Northern Ireland Executive.

    He added: “It’s very clear to our electorate that this is a position for which no nationalist need apply.”

    Announcing that his party would be going into opposition, Green Party leader Steven Agnew said it was no secret that he had previously taken part in discussions about accepting the justice post.

    “We were very clear that we would only serve in government if we felt we could progress our agenda, if we thought we could achieve more in government than out of government,” he said.

    “But I think the reality was our agenda was completely different from the DUP’s and Sinn Fin’s, which is why I’m delighted that myself and Claire Bailey will be in opposition.”

    Analysis: BBC News NI’s education correspondent Robbie Meredith

    For the first time since the establishment of the assembly in 1998, Northern Ireland has a DUP education minister.

    Read more.

    Analysis: BBC News NI’s home affairs correspondent Vincent Kearney

    Claire Sugden will not have too far to look for a controversial issue in the world of justice.

    Read more

    Analysis: BBC News NI’s agriculture and environment correspondent Conor Macauley

    One challenge faced by the new agriculture minister, Michelle McIveen, will be to balance the executive’s push for growth of the agri-food industry, without compromising environmental protections.

    Read more.

    Read more: www.bbc.co.uk

    Auto industry’s Trump fear: ‘Everyone dreadeds being subject of a tweet’

    Auto executives and analysts are fretting about how Trump will use the bully pulpit of his office and his Twitter account to try and force radical change

    I like the car Im in now. Its a Chevrolet Suburban. Made in the USA, Donald Trump told the Detroit News last year when the then presidential hopeful was asked to name his favorite car from his 100-plus vehicle fleet that includes a scissor-door Lamborghini Diablo and a 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.

    For General Motors, Chevys owner, it was nice PR, the latest in a series of endorsements from the Trumps that reach back like a stretch limo to the Cadillac Trumps landlord father Fred used to pick up his rent checks. In the 1980s Donald Trump even worked on building a Trump-branded Cadillac, complete with VCR and paper shredder. The Trumps may be fans of the USs largest car manufacturer but GM, and the car industry in general, should have been paying more attention to the final sentence of his pre-election endorsement: Made in the USA.

    Trump hit out at the car industry last week like a drive-by shooter, firing off a series of angry tweets about their outsourcing of US jobs. Those tweets will be the hottest topic this week as Detroits annual car jamboree, the North American International Auto Show, gets started. Its a chance for the industry to show off all its latest products and for its executives to address the media about the future. Trumps blimp-like shadow is overhanging the event as executives and analysts fret about how this overtly interventionist president will use the bully pulpit of his office, and his Twitter account, to try and force a radical change in the way they do business.

    Pretty much everybody is dreading being the subject of a tweet. Getting hauled out into the court of public opinion with virtually no warning is not something anybody wants to get engaged with, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the industry, labor and economics group at the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research (CAR).

    Inside
    Inside Donald Trumps 1988 Cadillac: the best limo in the world had rosewood interiors and was equipped with a fax machine, TV, VCR, paper shredder and built-in safe. Photograph: Jules Annan / Barcroft Images

    The auto industry matters to the US and to Trump. Six years after a recession that almost destroyed it, the US car industry has made a miraculous recovery. Last week it reported record sales for 2016. Auto manufacturers, suppliers and dealers employ over 1.5 million people and directly contribute to the creation of another 5.7m jobs, according to the CAR.

    Trump won thanks in large part to states where the auto industry is strongest. The Republican candidate took Michigan, home to the auto show and still the industrys hub, from the Democrats for the first time since 1988 with a campaign that tore into companies that have sent those voters jobs abroad, especially to Mexico. Ford bore the brunt of Trumps attacks during the election. Last week it was GMs turn. Then Toyotas.

    General Motors is sending Mexican-made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in USA or pay big border tax! the president elect warned via his favorite megaphone, Twitter.

    Two days later, he was after Toyota. Toyota Motor said will build a new plant in Baja, Mexico, to build Corolla cars for US. NO WAY! Build plant in US or pay big border tax, he tweeted. Toyotas plans were old news but the tweet came on the same day that its president, Akio Toyoda, had told reporters he was keen to work with the president-elect.

    Auto industry jobs across the US.

    These were the latest in a series of attacks on major US employers, including Carrier, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, that have so far brought CEOs running, cap in hand, to Trump Tower to make up for their alleged corporate misdeeds. Shortly after the GM tweet, Ford announced it had canned plans to open a $1.6bn plant in Mexico and would add new jobs building electric and hybrid vehicles at a plant in Flat Rock, Michigan. Trump hailed the move: Thank you to Ford for scrapping a new plant in Mexico and creating 700 new jobs in the US. This is just the beginning much more to follow, he tweeted.

    Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book, said Trump was playing to his base and a lot of the voters who put him in office were industrial midwest, blue collar, union workers. All his tweets and pronouncements have been geared to addressing that audience, said Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for Kelley Blue Book.

    Ford had already warned that the car industry was expecting a slowdown in sales, especially of smaller vehicles like the ones that would have been built in Mexico. So scrapping the plan makes economic as well as political sense for the company, but market watchers doubt the industry and Trumps agendas will remain compatible.

    GM is expected to start laying off more than 3,000 factory workers in Michigan and Ohio, another state that voted for Trump, starting later this month. Will they defend that decision if Trump goes on the attack?

    The car industry is truly international and China is its largest market. GM and its joint venture partners sold 3.87m vehicles in China in 2016, up 7.1% from the previous year. China accounts for a third of GMs sales. Like its corporate peers, GM has so far remained silent over Trumps anti-China rhetoric, but a trade war would be a disaster for the company.

    Read more: www.theguardian.com

    How Tech Giant Are Get Out the Vote, From Uber to Tinder

    Maybe the most welcome trend among tech companies this fall? Over 300 of them have pledged to give their employees time off to go out and vote today. Silicon Valley’s civic spirit doesn’t stop there, though; several tech luminaries are also doing their best to get the general public to the polls.

    Uber : With the help of Google, the Uber app will remind users that it’s election day, help you not only situate their polling place on the basis of their registration address, and take them there with a tap. If you’re new to Uber, you can also score $20 off your first ride using the promotional code VOTETODAY.

    Lyft : Lyft doesn’t have any fancy team-ups, but it does offer up to 45 percent off election day rides in 20 select marketplaces. A couple of caveats apply, though. The discount maxes out at $10, and is merely good for a one-way trip. Free rides : This isn’t due to Uber and Lyft’s largesse, and it’s only for a few states, but worth mentioning anyway: If you live in Pennsylvania, Florida, or North Carolina, you can get a free round trip ride up to $30 through My Ride to Vote. Use the codes VOTEPA, VOTEFL or VOTENC when you order your vehicle, but do it quick before they run out.

    Facebook : Need some last minute cramming on the issues and local vote initiatives? The social media giant is giving you one place to help you make all of your decisions. The site’s prove guests reminders to vote at the top of their News Feeds( or right here ), with personalized vote previews for nation and local government elections, and easy access to each candidate’s endorsements, recent posts, and official websites.

    Google : Click the Google Doodle logo, and Google will help you find your polling place. Just type in your address, and you’ll get your polling place address, voter requirements, and a preview of your local ballot.

    Twitter : Get out the vote by sliding into a DM. Send a direct message with your home address to Twitter’s @gov and it’ll send back voter info that includes polling place, ballot measures, local candidates, and more.

    Snapchat : This election cycle, Snapchat is targeting the millennial election with special Election Day filters. Suppose of it as the ephemeral version of an” I Voted” sticker. There will be partisan involvement as well; the Clinton team has sponsored both an” I’m With Her” filter and a lens that turns you into Hillary, while the You-Know-Who campaign has ponied up for a sponsored geofilter to go live Tuesday, though it’s unclear what that will comprise. Periscope : Snapchat’s not the only app with election filters. Not to be outperform, Periscope has introduced Hillary Clinton and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named masks for the occasion, which are more terrifying than inspirational. Still!

    Spotify : You’re listening to your” Tuesday Has No Feel” playlist, and a message comes up. Its not Tesla or Macklemore, its President Obama, with a friendly reminder to referendum, and a push for you to visit Headcount.org, which allows you register( too late for that for most of you) and find relevant voter information.

    Zipcar : For all you hard workers out there that cant get to the polls in the morning, Zipcar devotes an after-hours alternative. From 6-10 pm local period, the company will let members rent automobiles for free( plus taxes and fees ), and get to the polls before they shut. Vroom, vroom.

    Tinder : Tired of swiping through faceless torsos and different faces? Tinder now allows you to swipe your route through the questions. But you wont be matched with your soulmate, instead your soul-candidate. Sure, you’re almost definitely already decided between Clinton and You-Know-Who by now. But at least this should help you kill time in the voting line.

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    BMW’s New Electric SUV Looks Shockingly Normal

    The electric vehicle market is in the midst of a transition, moving from the early models that introduced drivers to batteries and motors, to cars whose lack of a fuel tank is more afterthought than raison d'être. Nissan's new generation Leaf is considerably less funky than the original. Same goes for the second generation Chevrolet Volt hybrid. And now, BMW is putting what it hopes will soon be mainstream technology in a very much mainstream package.

    BMW, like its competitors, made its first battery-powered foray an out of the ordinary affair. The $147,500 i8 is a stunning two-door coupe plug-in hybrid, the $44,450 i3 a cool but kooky four-seater made of carbon fiber and featuring suicide rear doors, with a two-cylinder backup generator as a range extender. Maybe the cars were too clever, or their designs too polarizing. Or maybe BMW never planned for them to be huge sellers. Whatever the reasons, they're not exactly common sights on the road.

    Having dipped its ugliest toes in the water, the German automaker seems ready to take the full plunge, with 12 new electric models by 2025. In September, it showed off the electric i Vision Dynamics, a concept sedan that looks a lot like, well, a production sedan. And today at the Auto Show China in Beijing, it unveiled the Concept iX3, which looks exactly like the original, totally conventional X3 luxury crossover. The battery-powered concept even keeps the famous BMW double kidney grille at the front, but it’s just for looks (electric drivetrains don't need air intakes). The main visual difference comes from the blue accents around that grille, and on the bumper, where the exhausts usually go.

    BMW says the iX3 will carry its fifth generation electric drive system, with the electric motor (good for 200kW or 270 hp), power electronics, and transmission made into one drive component. It’s promising a range of around 250 miles from a 70-kWh battery, which puts it right in the middle of the EV pack (ahead of Maybach, behind Tesla). The vehicle will come ready for 150kW fast chargers—not many of those have been built yet, but they’re promised soon, and will allow an 80 percent charge in under 30 minutes. And while it's technically a concept, its lack of zany features and close resemblance to a production-ready car means it's almost certainly headed for the mass market in the next few years.

    The Beijing reveal underlines the importance of China in the newly surging EV sphere—the country is the planet's largest auto market, and has some of the strictest emissions rules in the world. It has even publicly mulled the idea of banning gas- and diesel-powered cars. BMW says it will build the iX3 in Shenyang, northeast of Beijing, via its joint venture with China's Brilliance Auto.

    Making an electric SUV with mass market appeal is a smart move. Crossovers have bumped sedans as the go-to vehicle for families and rich folk. Lamborghini, Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, and Alfa Romeo—all companies for which an SUV used to be unthinkable—are boarding the gravy train. That also makes for a competitive market. Jaguar’s iPace goes on sale this summer. VW’s ID range, including the ID Crozz SUV and Buzz bus, will hit the market starting in 2020. Audi is introducing the e-tron Quattro at the start of next year. Porsche is teasing a Mission E Cross Turismo. And Tesla, the crusty veteran in this space, is still building its Model X and promising a smaller Model Y.

    BMW has won many a customer with its crowing about building the "ultimate driving machine." Now, it's got to convince them that swapping the engine and gas tank for a motor and a battery doesn't break that deal.

    It’s Electric!

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    China’s get into solar in a big style, and Aussie giant mirrors could help

    CSIRO’s solar thermal research facility in Newcastle .
    Image: John Marmaras

    If Trump induces good on his rantings against wind and solar, it will be countries like China and India that muscle in, the International Energy Agency( IEA) predicted in November.

    And Australia? Australia can sell the 21 st century world powers the technology to get them to a greener future.

    On Tuesday, Australia’s peak science body announced it would be selling solar heliostat technology to China as part of a major new deal.

    Working with the Chinese company Thermal Focus, CSIRO’s technology will be used for concentrating solar thermal( CST) electricity generation.

    The CSIRO’s heliostat system uses small mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy and assistance store energy at low cost.

    “In a commercial field, we have thousands of heliostats or mirrors that move across the day and keep the sunlight focused onto one point on a receiver tower, ” Wes Stein, CSIRO’s chief solar energy research scientist, told Mashable .

    The resulting high temperatures can then be used to melt and store moltens salt in big tanks. The salt’s steam can move a turbine for electricity generation, “whether it’s cloudy, night period, it doesn’t really matter.”

    A heliostat field.

    Image: CSIRO

    Stein said their technology helps tackle the “critical” issue of green power storage. “As our electricity system moves to renewables, and with the retirement of coal-fired[ power] stations, we’re going to need solar energy that’s got storage, ” he said.

    Thermal Focus will commercialise CSIRO’s heliostat design and the software that controls its positioning.

    “CSIRO’s solar thermal technology combined with our manufacturing capability will help expedite and deliver solar thermal as a major source of renewable energy in China, ” Wei Zhu from Thermal Focus said in a statement.

    While still a heavy user of coal, China has been turning away from the fossil fuel in recent years and upping its clean energy investments.

    “It’s really important that we start to get the Australian industry involved right now.”

    A September report from CoalSwarm found that there had been a 14 percent drop in the total amount of coal-fired power capability in early planning stages globally in 2016, of which China accounted for about three-fourths of canceled capacity.

    In other terms, it’s a bad time to be in the coal business( hear that, Australian government and Adani ?)

    Stein told China recognises renewable energy storage will become critical.

    “Everyone’s installing wind, installing photovoltaics that’s great. But because they are variable you can’t control when they produce, you need the storage as well, and China’s exactly the same, ” he said.

    “When they start something, they are generally run pretty big pretty quickly.”

    China and Australia are both signatories of the Paris climate change agreement, which calls on countries to keep the rise in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius( 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels by 2100.

    While Australia has been a leader at solar research, Stein warned the country needs to get these new technologies to the marketplace locally, and not just overseas.

    “If Australia is going to need storage in five years time, it’s really important that we start to get the Australian industry involved right now, ” he said.

    “You can’t wait for five years and say, ‘OK, we need it now.'”

    BONUS: NASA timelapse indicates just how quickly our Arctic sea ice is disappearing

    Read more:

    Californias Aliso Canyon Methane Leak: Climate Disaster Or Opportunity?

    This October, a large leak was discovered at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in northwest Los Angeles. The leak is a serious health risk to nearby residents, and because methane the primary component of natural gas is a potent greenhouse gas, some have called this leak a disaster for climate change.

    To be sure, this leak, which is projected to continue for several weeks, is very significant. But because natural gas leaks every day from thousands of locations across the United States, Aliso Canyons emissions are actually quite small when measured on a national scale less than one percent of natural gas’ contribution to national emissions.

    Given its relatively modest greenhouse gas impact, research on energy and climate policy tells us that this leak is not by itself a climate disaster. Instead, it is more productive to think of Aliso Canyon as an opportunity: while fixing the leak must be a high priority for local, state and federal officials, it should also provide the impetus to tackle the dispersed sources of methane from the oil and natural gas industry that contribute far more to climate change than any single well ever could.

    Natural Gas And Methane In The U.S.

    Natural gas production and consumption have grown substantially in the United States over the past 10 years, and debate has raged over a variety of issues related to producing gas from shale using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

    Because it has displaced a substantial amount of coal for electricity generation, natural gas has helped reduce U.S. CO2 emissions from our power plants by 18 percent since their peak in 2005.

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important greenhouse gas, but methane comes in second. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that methane contributed roughly 10 percent of domestic greenhouse gas emissions in 2013, and that the largest source was the oil and natural gas sector. These emissions occur when natural gas is either (unintentionally) leaked or (intentionally) vented from well sites, compressor stations, pipelines and other facilities.

    In recent years, EPAs estimates of methane emissions from the natural gas system have come under question, generating debate over whether natural gas helps or hurts in the fight against climate change.

    The most comprehensive research, supported by the environmental advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund, suggests that methane emissions from natural gas systems may be roughly 50 percent higher than EPAs estimates, though substantial uncertainty remains.

    Aliso Canyons Overall Climate Effect

    As shown in startling infared videos, Aliso Canyons faulty well is leaking methane at an astonishing rate.

    If the well is plugged by March 31 (reported estimates range from late February to late March), Aliso Canyon will likely have leaked methane equivalent to roughly four million metric tons of CO2, about one third more than all of what Washington, D.C. emitted in 2013.

    These calculations are based on estimates from the California Air Resources Board, assuming a steady leak rate from January 8 through March 31. It uses a 100-year global warming potential (GWP) a method to compare other greenhouse gases to carbon dioxide of 32.

    While this leak is indeed substantial, perhaps the more startling fact is that it is small compared with methane emissions from other oil- and gas-related sources.

    By some estimates, EPAs figures for methane leaks from natural gas wells and pipelines, like this one in Michigan, is 50 percent lower than the actual amount. Consumers Energy, CC BY-NC-ND

    The EPA estimates that annual methane emissions from the domestic natural gas system were roughly 130 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2-e) in 2012. If they are underestimating this number by 50 percent, we get roughly 195 MMTCO2-e of methane. Using this estimate, we can say that Aliso Canyon will increase the methane footprint of the U.S. natural gas system by about 2 percent over 12 months.

    When we account for the entire natural gas system, including methane and CO2 emissions (this includes all emissions from producing, transporting and burning natural gas), Aliso Canyon would add about 0.3 percent to the 12-month total.

    A Bigger Problem

    So does Aliso Canyon matter?

    Absolutely. First, the leak has forced families in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles to temporarily relocate, disrupting thousands of lives.

    Second, the leak has a real, if modest, effect on climate change. As demonstrated above, any single emissions source measured against the herculean scale of the energy system will look small, but Aliso Canyon reminds us that aging facilities that produce, transport and store natural gas need to be closely monitored.

    An infrared camera shows the leak of methane stored in an underground cavern in northwest Los Angeles.

    But perhaps most importantly, Aliso Canyon should be a signal to businesses and policymakers: methane emissions across the natural gas (and oil) supply chain need to be addressed.

    One recent study estimated that most leaks can be fixed at extremely low cost, and others have found that a large portion of emissions come from a small number of super-emitters, unmonitored facilities that belch methane into the air.

    This research suggests that well-designed state or federal regulations targeting methane emissions can get a lot of bang for the buck. The EPA has for years operated a voluntary program to encourage companies to reduce their emissions, and recently proposed rules to reduce methane emissions at new natural gas facilities. In addition, some states are now requiring oil and gas producers to limit their methane emissions.

    But these initiatives represent exceptions rather than the rule. Methane emissions from oil and gas systems are poorly understood, and in most cases unmonitored and unregulated by governmental agencies.

    As the United States and the world move forward to tackle the challenge of climate change, Aliso Canyon should focus minds and encourage businesses and policymakers to address the broader issue: its time to reduce methane emissions across our oil and natural gas systems.

    Daniel Raimi, Lecturer on Public Policy (UM Ford School), Research Specialist (UM Energy Institute), Associate in Research (Duke Univ. Energy Initiative), University of Michigan

    Read more: www.iflscience.com