In Iraq, the country's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al- Sistani, decried the drawings but did not call for protests.
"We strongly denounce and condemn this horrific action," he said in a statement posted on his Web site and dated Tuesday.
Al-Sistani, who wields enormous influence over Iraq's majority Shiites, made no call for protests and suggested that militant Muslims were partly to blame for distorting Islam's image.
He referred to "misguided and oppressive" segments of the Muslim community and said their actions "projected a distorted and dark image of the faith of justice, love and brotherhood."
"Enemies have exploited this ... to spread their poison and revive their old hatreds with new methods and mechanisms," he said.
[Thx. to reader A.] 2:55 A.M.
Bush jumps on the alcohol wagon: When making the case for an alcohol-based economy, Robert Zubrin argues
(1) Our main energy problem is obtaining liquid fuel that can power cars, not obtaining electricity:
Today's favorite alternatives to oil are wind, solar, hydroelectric, and nuclear power. They each have strengths and weaknesses, but the bottom line is that these are all methods of generating electricity—and electricity is far from the central issue of energy independence. The United States has plenty of coal, and if necessary could easily generate all of its electric power that way.
(2) The idea of a "hydrogen economy" is entirely fraudulent, because "[h]ydrogen is not a source of energy. In order to be obtained, it must be made—either through the electrolysis of water, or through the breakdown of petroleum, natural gas, or coal."
When hydrogen is made by electrolysis, the process yields 85 units of hydrogen energy for every 100 units of electrical energy used to break down the water. That is 85 percent efficiency. If the hydrogen is then used in a fuel cell in an electric car, only about 55 percent of its energy value will be used; the rest is wasted to heat and so forth. The net result of these two processes: the amount of useable energy yielded by the hydrogen will be only about 47 percent as much as went into producing it in the first place.
Well, sure. Still, if we have plenty of electricty, but not enough portable fuel to power cars, it might make sense to convert that electricty into portable hydrogen fuel even if only 47% of the electricity's energy actually made it to the car's driving wheels, no? True, if the electricity were made from coal, there would presumably be a pollution problem. But Zubrin isn't making an environmental argument about obtaining alternative clean fuels. He's making a geo-strategic argument about how "to liberate ourselves from the threat of foreign economic domination, undercut the financiers of terror, and give ourselves the free hand necessary to deal with Middle Eastern extremists." It's not at all clear to me he's shown hydrogen to be "entirely fraudulent" as an answer to that strategic problem. ...
Backup: Here's a detailed, geeky, seemingly dispassionate report on the difficulties facing a "hydrogen economy." It agrees with Zubrin that hydrogen is only an energy "carrier"--because its energy content is "less, often significantly less, than the energy it takes to produce it." But it doesn't agree that this knocks hydrogen out of consideration, noting that energy carriers'
use can be justified only by special benefits associated with their use. In the case of hydrogen, a special benefit is that it can be converted into electricity for transportation using fuel cells with an efficiency that is at least twice as high as the conversion in thermodynamic heat engines. Other benefits include the reduction of pollutants and greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere by transportation. [Emph. added]
So there. ... [Tks to reader F.B.] 2:39 A.M.
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