Toyota

Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon



Friday, December 31, 2010

Energy common sense

The rest of the world moves forward while the U.S. remains hostage to dirty energy, and folks like Koch.

Working together for a cleaner energy future, energy security and fostering policies that make sense for the future makes great sense.



From
ENN --

Denmark Boasts a 100% Renewable Energy Community

Denmark, like, Germany, her neighbor to the south, is a country that takes renewable energy seriously. The wind energy industry alone in Denmark is booming with companies like Vestas and Siemens Wind Power both having production facilities and bases of operation on Danish soil. Denmark's own wind based energy also grows exponentially each year leaving many optimistic that the nation might be one of the few who can achieve 100% renewable energy in the next several decades. However, wind based renewable energy is not the only kind of clean energy the country has going for it. In one location, Denmark has proven that wind and hydrogen can be king when it comes to being green.

Called the Lolland Hydrogen Community, the project began in the middle of 2007 as a way of taking the excess wind energy produced by the island community and putting it to use. Since they were generating an impressive fifty percent more wind energy than was needed, they set about finding a way to convert that excess wind into hydrogen for use in powering the island and acting as way to demonstrate to Europe the viability of hydrogen as a renewable energy source
.

The way the project began was with the installation of a Fuel Cell Combined Heat and Power plant that took the wind energy that was being produced in excess and using it to power an electrolyser that worked to separate the oxygen and hydrogen molecules that comprised water. Once the hydrogen is separated it is stored in pressure tanks and it is then used to power fuel cells that provide the community with electricity.

Although powering the community’s power grid with the hydrogen fuel cells proved to be a success the Lolland Hydrogen Community knew they could take the renewable energy a step forward. To achieve this end, the researchers on the community developed smaller hydrogen fuel cells that could be placed in a home and act similar to a boiler in order to provide heating, air, and energy.

Article continues: http://blog.cleantechies.com/2010/12/29/denmark-boasts-100-renewable-energy-community/



Every once in a while ....

the two devoted readers of my blog get bored and require a bone to be tossed to rectify their boredom with a new topic. For the New Year, here goes --

Democracy for sale to the highest bidder!

In Money-Changers We Trust
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/in_money-changers_we_trust_20101228/

By Robert Scheer

Two years into the Obama presidency and the economic data is still looking grim. Don’t be fooled by the gyrations of the stock market, where optimism is mostly a reflection of the ability of financial corporations—thanks to massive government largesse—to survive the mess they created. The basics are dismal: Unemployment is unacceptably high, the December consumer confidence index is down and housing prices have fallen for four months in a row. The number of Americans living in poverty has never been higher, and a majority in a Washington Post poll said they were worried about making their next mortgage or rent payment.

In a parallel universe lives Peter Orszag, President Barack Obama’s former budget director and key adviser, who even faster than his mentor, Robert Rubin, has passed through that revolving platinum door linking the White House with Wall Street. The goal is to use your government position to advance the interests of your future employer, and Orszag and Rubin’s actions in the government and then at Citigroup provide stunning examples of the synergy between big government and high finance.

As Bill Clinton’s treasury secretary, Rubin presided over the dismantling of Glass-Steagall, the New Deal legislation that would have prohibited the creation of the too-big-to-fail Citigroup. He was rewarded with a $15-million-a-year job at Citigroup, where he became a leader in the bank’s aggressive move into high-risk ventures. An SEC report in September claimed that Rubin as Citigroup chairman was aware that the bank failed to disclose $40 billion it held in subprime mortgages before the collapse.

During those years at Citigroup, Rubin financed the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project, an economic policy program, and named Orszag, a Clinton economic adviser, as its director. The Hamilton Project continued to celebrate Rubin’s deregulation philosophy up to the point of utter embarrassment. Clearly, Orszag is not easily embarrassed, for upon taking his new job recently he boasted “I am pleased to be joining Citi, with its unmatched global platform and dedication to providing clients with service and advice.”

The most damning comment on this corrupt syndrome was offered by former Citigroup co-chief executive John Reed, who had worked with Rubin to get Glass-Steagall reversed and now is a sharp critic of the result. “We continue to listen to the same people whose errors in judgment were central to the problem,” Reed told Bloomberg News. “I’m astounded because we basically dropped the world’s biggest economy because of an error in bank management.” Reed estimated that the financial deregulation proposals contained in the Dodd-Frank bill and other reforms of the Obama administration represent only 25 percent of the change needed.

The failure to provide serious regulation of the financial industry to avoid future downturns is documented in devastating detail in that Dec. 28 Bloomberg report, written by Christine Harper: “The U.S. government, promising to make the system safer, buckled under many of the financial industry’s protests. Lawmakers spurned changes that would wall off deposit-taking banks from riskier trading. They declined to limit the size of lenders or ban any form of derivatives.”

The reason for that failure is obvious from the president’s choice of advisers featuring Rubin acolytes from the Clinton years. Harper writes: “While Obama vowed to change the system, he filled his economic team with people who helped create it,” referring to, among others, Timothy F. Geithner, who had gone from the Clinton Treasury Department to head the New York Fed, where he presided over the salvaging of Citigroup and AIG. As Obama’s treasury secretary he was quick to appoint a Goldman Sachs lobbyist as his chief of staff. Geithner’s subservience to Wall Street was reinforced by White House top economic adviser Lawrence Summers, Rubin’s deputy and then replacement in the Clinton administration who pushed through the repeal of Glass-Steagall and fought against the regulation of derivatives.

And with the decisive assistance from both a Republican and Democratic president, all has worked out just as planned for the banks. Harper reports: “The last two years have been the best ever for combined investment-banking and trading revenue at Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and Morgan Stanley, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.”

It’s all wonderfully bipartisan. Recently it was announced that Carlos Gutierrez, commerce secretary under George W. Bush, had been named to a high position at Citigroup. For President Obama, there’s no cause for worry about the loss of indispensable talent from his administration. Orszag’s replacement as head of the Office of Management and Budget, Jacob J. Lew, was both a member of Rubin’s Hamilton Project and a former Citigroup executive—thus ensuring that government of the banks, by the banks, for the banks shall not perish from the Earth.



New consumer agency is frightfully necessary — and late


No one has missed the headlines: Haphazard and possibly illegal practices at mortgage-servicing companies have called into question home foreclosures across the nation.
The latest disclosures are deeply troubling, but they should not come as a big surprise. For years, both individual homeowners and consumer advocates sounded alarms that foreclosure processes were riddled with problems.

While federal and state investigators are still examining exactly what has gone wrong and why, two things are clear.

First, several financial services companies have already admitted that they used “robo-signers,” false declarations, and other workarounds to cut corners, creating a legal nightmare that will waste time and money that could have been better spent to help this economy recover. Mortgage lenders will spend millions of dollars retracing their steps, often with the same result that families who cannot pay will lose their homes.

Second, this mess might well have been avoided if the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had been in place just a few years ago.

The new consumer agency is one of the signature accomplishments of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by President Obama this summer.

The new agency will take on oversight responsibilities that had been scattered among several federal agencies, and it will be a new cop on the beat that will end big loopholes in the regulatory system.

For the first time, banks and non-bank lenders (such as payday lenders, check cashers and mortgage brokers) will be subject to the same federal oversight to ensure that they are all playing by the same rules-no more turning sideways and slipping through the regulatory cracks.

Lost in much of the back-and-forth over wrongful foreclosures is the question of whether the scandal could have been prevented. The answer is yes.

The practices now under investigation took root and grew because there was no single federal regulator with both the responsibility and the tools to look out for consumers.

Had it existed, the new consumer agency could have stopped these problems before they multiplied. Many of the failures already admitted were not sophisticated scams that had been carefully concealed. By enforcing existing laws and involving state authorities early on, the agency could have made sure that the law was respected. No one would need to wonder whether the world of borrowing and lending works only one way: Families have to follow the legal rules, but the rules are optional for big banks.


Once it is fully operational, the new consumer agency will have supervisory authority over all large mortgage servicers. It will be able to examine them on a regular basis to make sure they follow the rules. If those servicers decide it is cheaper or faster to circumvent federal law, the consumer agency will have the tools to hold them accountable.

No one will be allowed to break the rules without triggering a strong and prompt federal response.

Currently, the federal interagency foreclosure task force, including the members of the Financial Services Oversight Council, is working along with the state Attorneys General to get to the bottom of these problems. The implementation team for the new consumer agency is also working to assemble and coordinate teams to deal with servicing and other issues.

These efforts are critical, but there is more work to do: We must ensure this kind of scandal-or some close cousin-does not happen again.

A mortgage is the biggest financial commitment most Americans will make in a lifetime, and the toll on Florida has been especially heavy and the need for oversight particularly apparent. A few weeks ago, I watched proceedings in a Fort Lauderdale foreclosure court and saw firsthand the painful outcomes for numerous families.

Unfair servicing practices can worsen a family’s already difficult economic situation, and the injury echoes from the family to the community and ultimately throughout the economy. Cops on the beat can stop problems before the damage spreads. If there ever was any doubt that the new consumer agency is necessary, the latest foreclosure developments should put that to rest.


Such a deal!

Waiting for Superman

Davis Guggenheim was a guest on Charlie Rose discussing his new documentary that has changed the dialogue about the failures of American Education.


The US ranks:
25th in math
21st in science

Just thinking.....Senator Brown to the rescue?

Doesn't it seem contradictory that Republicans who eschew Big Government, the "Nanny State," government bailouts, increased taxes, entitlements, should suddenly seek funding to address the dilemma's of their constituents?

In
Let's ship jobs overseas......
there's a list of state senators and representatives who oppose increased taxes.
It seems a simple equation. If you oppose taxes, don't you also oppose the expectation of government services?

Brown surveys storm damage in Scituate
Politicians seek money for repairs; community reaches out to help victims

SCITUATE — Carmen Tirado has been stranded in the cafeteria of Scituate High School for five days. She and her family have been stuck at the town’s evacuee shelter since their house on Jericho Road flooded during Sunday’s nor’easter, and they are still waiting on any sort of aid to come through.

The Tirados’ situation was among those Senator Scott Brown witnessed during his tour of Scituate yesterday afternoon. The Massachusetts Republican toured the breach of the sea wall caused by the big storm and visited the evacuees remaining at the shelter.

“There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle,’’ Brown said. “We’ll need cooperation from the federal, private, and state agencies to solve the problems, and they are very large.’’

State and local officials say it could cost millions of dollars to repair damage left by the storm, which flooded dozens of residences, cut power to 1,000 residents, severely damaged the sea wall, and led to fires at two waterfront homes.

Even before the recent storm, Scituate was seeking other help. A storm damaged a stretch of the sea wall in 2007, and the town is still waiting for most of the estimated $800,000 in federal help for repairs from that incident.

The federal government, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, awarded $100,000 to Scituate in 2007 as part of a small sea wall project. But the rest of the money will not come to the town until it begins the repairs, and the work has not yet started.

“The way FEMA works is the project work has to start before reimbursement can begin. . . . It’s still moving forward,’’ said James Mannion, the state Emergency Management Agency representative for Scituate.

State Representative James M. Cantwell, Republican of Marshfield, who represents Scituate, is attempting to secure funds from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation, an agency that awarded $100,000 to Marshfield for sea wall damage from a storm in May.

In addition, he is hoping to establish a statewide fund in the future to assist with sea wall repairs for other communities.

“There are no current funds available, so what I’m trying to do is go at it from several different angles,’’ he said.

Cantwell is also pushing for more flexibility in Community Preservation Funds, which can only be used for low-income housing, creation of open space and recreation areas, and preservation of historic structures.

In the meantime, Brown and his field representatives collected information from Scituate evacuees to help them contact other government agencies for help.

For Brown, the story gave him hope for optimism.

“A lot of the folks down there have been saying that they are in fact very grateful for the response the community of Scituate has given them,’’ Brown said. “I mean, someone offered up their home, said, here, take it. . . . You don’t just see that anymore. It’s really refreshing to see and uplifting.’’


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Beacon Hill: Bottle Bill Bottled Up?

Beacon Hill has allowed the Bottle Bill to be bottled up, is spite of overwhelming support. It's time for Beacon Hill to represent the best interests of the residents they represent and pass this important legislation.

We're all in this together and it's time for Beacon Hill to do what's right and work to save municipalities money.


MASSPIRG offered the comments below --

It’s common sense, and I’d estimate nine out of 10 citizens are completely in favor of the idea: Putting a $.05 deposit on all beverages not covered by the current Bottle Bill. It will help clean up litter, increase recycling, and save cities and towns money in disposal costs.

So why has the updated Bottle Bill stalled in the Massachusetts Legislature for more than a decade? The answer is three simple words: powerful special interests.

That’s why I have a request, also in three simple words: special holiday contribution.

Last week, I got a copy of a letter from the Massachusetts Beverage Association and other special interests. It was sent to state legislators and it called the updated Bottle Bill, among other things, a "tax." There's an undisputed difference between a deposit and a tax, if only the special interests were interested in facts.

But it will take more than a dictionary to defeat these powerful special interests. Help us get started.

Updating the bottle bill is just one example of how MASSPIRG is promoting common-sense, broadly supported solutions to public problems. We come up against the narrow, self interested lobbying forces that will stop at nothing to thwart our efforts. The chemical industry pushes back against safer alternatives. The banks balk at consumer protections and transparency. The list goes on.

Click here to help MASSPIRG defeat the special interests and win common sense laws for the rest of us.

Thanks.


Janet S. Domenitz
MASSPIRG Executive Director

P.S. The majority of our income is from citizen donors like you, and funds our campaigns to protect consumers from big banks, health insurers, agribusiness and other special interests. Please consider making a year-end contribution to MASSPIRG today.

We're all in this together

Whichever side of this issue you consider: Global Warming, Energy Security, Peak Oil, Peak Coal, Environmental Pollution, it certainly seems Cape Wind is a winner we should unite behind, except for a few with a vested interest, like Koch and Christy Mihos.

When the wealthy and politically connected oppose alternative energy projects that make sense for all of us, shouldn't we question their motives? Are they representing our best interests or protecting their ocean views? or what?


Baker backer linked to attack ad
Spot skewered Patrick, wind farm
A controversial radio ad attacking Governor Deval Patrick’s support for an offshore wind farm that aired during the final days of the governor’s race was funded in part with a donation from a prominent fund-raiser for Patrick’s Republican rival, Charles D. Baker.

The fund-raiser, Christopher F. Egan, was cochairman of Baker’s finance committee, according to Baker campaign materials, and personally contributed $1,500 to Baker and his running mate during the last two years, as well as $5,000 to the Republican State Committee.

The ad, which ran on five radio stations covering Greater Boston, the South Shore, and the Worcester area, was paid for by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a nonprofit that has led the opposition to the Cape Wind proposal for nearly a decade. Egan is a former board member of the Alliance.

The Globe has reported that the ad may have breached federal tax law that bars educational and charitable organizations, known as 501(c)(3)s, from engaging in activities supporting or opposing political candidates.

Internal Revenue Service guidelines say such organizations are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.’’ Donations to 501(c)(3)s are tax deductible because they are considered contributions to the betterment of society.

Audra Parker, the president of the alliance, has said the ad was meant to educate voters about the candidates’ views on Cape Wind and fell within the bounds of legally permissible activities. Cape Wind is planning to build 130 turbines over 24 square miles in Nantucket Sound.

“We’ve been very careful to live within the letter of the law as a 501(c)(3),’’ Parker said in a recent interview.

Egan did not returns calls to his office yesterday.

The Alliance ad initially generated controversy when Common Cause of Massachusetts, which tracks the influence of money in politics, filed a complaint with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, suggesting that the Alliance was required to report the expenditure and had failed to do so.

Subsequently, the Alliance reported spending more than $32,500 on the ad with money donated by Joan Hill, a California resident; Christy Mihos, a cochairman of the alliance and a two-time gubernatorial candidate; and Egan.

Greenpeace, the global environmental group, then filed complaints with the IRS and Attorney General Martha Coakley, asking for investigations into whether the alliance violated its nonprofit status by sponsoring the ad. Greenpeace filed a third complaint asking state regulators to investigate whether the Alliance should have registered as a political committee and whether the three donors violated a prohibition against coordinating political expenditures with a candidate for elective office.

Rob Gray, a top strategist for the Baker campaign, said Egan never mentioned the ad to campaign operatives.

“The Baker campaign never consulted with any entity that has to be independent about advertising,’’ he said.


The Massachusetts Coal Ash Myth

Beacon Hill, unable to walk and chew gum at the same time, allowed itself to become so immersed in secret meetings with Gambling Lobbyists that they have failed to act on pressing issues, including that of regulating COAL ASH.

Dirty Coal: Time To Kick Ash! included Massachusetts COAL ASH SITES --

Included in Environmental Terrorism, are the MASSACHUSETTS DIRTY COAL PLANTS listed below. I guess we can't believe we're exempt from having a comparable COAL ASH accident with this much ash hanging around.

BRAYTON POINT 190,000,000 POUNDS

SOMERSET 60,100,000 POUNDS

SALEM HARBOR 140,800,00 POUNDS

WEST SPRINGFIELD 40,000,000 POUNDS

MOUNT TOM 75,200,000 POUNDS

Whether it's MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL, COAL ASH or AIR POLLUTION, COAL remains the dirtiest energy source, yet industry prevails, thanks to generous contributions.

From MINING --

Coal Mining
This industry provides the biggest source of campaign dollars within the mining industry, and has supported Republicans in each of the past 10 election cycles. Coal companies gave Democrats only 27 percent of their donations in the 2008 cycle.

That was actually a leap from previous cycles. Between 2000 and 2006, the Democrats secured a paltry 12 percent of these companies’ contributions.



From the Institute for Southern Studies,


SPECIAL REPORT: Two years after Tennessee coal ash disaster, still waiting for federal oversight


From COAL'S DIRTY SECRET INDEX


Tons of coal ash generated each year by U.S. coal-fired power plants: 150 million

Gallons of coal ash that spilled from a failed impoundment at TVA's Kingston power plant in Tennessee in 2008: 1 billion

Number of homes that disaster destroyed, damaged: 3, 42

Pounds of toxic pollutants the spill dumped into the nearby Emory and Clinch rivers: 2.66 million

Year that red flags were first raised about the safety of the plant's impoundments: 1985

Number of similar impoundments located nationwide: 584

Number that have been rated as high hazards, meaning a failure like TVA's would likely kill people: 49

Number of proven and suspected environmental damage cases caused by coal ash across the U.S.: more than 100

Chance that people who live near coal ash impoundments and drink from wells will get cancer due to water contamination: 1 in 50

Cubic yards of TVA's spilled coal ash slated to be disposed of in a landfill near Uniontown, Ala.: 3 million

Percent of Uniontown residents who are African-American: 88

Percent of Uniontown residents who live below the poverty line: almost 50

Times by which the arsenic found in runoff from that landfill exceeded the safe drinking water standard: 80

Percent of coal ash generated in the U.S. that is recycled for other uses, such as a substitute for fill dirt in construction projects: about 44

Number of such coal ash fills that have been linked to groundwater contamination in North Carolina: 3

Percentage points by which the average poverty rate of N.C. counties with coal ash fill contamination exceeds the state poverty rate rate: almost 10

Percent of those fill sites in North Carolina that have failed to comply with the state requirement to record the coal ash's presence on the deed: 44

Estimated cubic yards of TVA's spilled coal ash expected to remain in the river after cleanup: 500,000

Number of lawsuits TVA is now facing over the Kingston disaster: more than 50

Estimated bill for the Kingston cleanup, to be paid by TVA's customers: $1.2 billion

Year that Congress exempted coal ash from the federal law governing hazardous waste: 1980

Year that the Environmental Protection Agency first said federal regulations were needed for coal ash: 2000

In the lobbying blitz that ensued, factor by which the electric power industry's estimate of the regulation's cost exceeded the government's: 13

Year when EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson again called for federal regulatory action on coal ash: 2009

In the lobbying blitz that ensued, number of meetings the White House Office of Management and Budget held with industry officials: 30

Number of meetings OMB held with environmental and public health groups: 12

Date that EPA released the first-ever proposed federal regulations for coal ash: 5/2010

Length of comment period that will begin as soon as the regulations are published in the Federal Register, which could happen as soon as next week: 90 days



The Institute for Southern Studies contains an abundance of information worth perusing.

Note to Beacon Hill: Maybe you could pass the Bottle Bill while you're at it! That's a No Brainer wanted by consumers.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Let's pretend MassHealth was something it wasn't

As usual, Jeff Jacoby's presentation of MassHealth is a little skewed.

Governor Willard Romney was purchasing Dunkin' Donuts, one of the largest employers in the Commonwealth that does NOT provide health care for its employees and prevented inclusion of an employer mandate.

Why should anyone reasonably expect a profitable company to provide for its poorly paid employees? After all, WalMart doesn't.



Personal responsibility? How about corporate responsibility?

A recent report indicated that uninsured people using the emergency rooms costs something like $69 billion annually. The exact amount isn't important.

What is important is that it costs each person who has health care, $1,000 to pay for those who are uninsured.

There have been a number of other Constitutional challenges, most have failed, until a judge who was a Bush appointee rendered a flawed decision that seems to have escaped Jeff Jacoby's comprehension.

Universal health care is a concept whose time has long since passed.

The bogey man arguments don't work with everyone.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Climate Deniers' Hoax

The science is in!

CO2 is rising to unprecedented levels.

Some reports indicate we have passed PEAK OIL and some predict PEAK COAL.

Our coral reefs are being destroy. Our Oceans are being acidified. Glaciers are melting at accelerated rates.

Many wrongly believe Nuclear is the solution, ignoring the costs and subsidies.

We've sold our Democracy to the highest bidder and many haven't figured out that we've lost the 'freedom of press' as well!

Pity!

From the Color of Change:

Damning new evidence proves what we've known all along — that Fox News is willing to lie and distort the truth to the political advantage of the far-right.

Yesterday, a memo leaked from Fox News's managing editor, Bill Sammon, instructing Fox journalists never to report on global warming without IMMEDIATELY questioning the prevailing scientific consensus.1 It's exactly that kind of false controversy that has shifted public opinion and helped delay real action on global warming from the U.S.

Bill Sammon is exactly what's wrong with Fox. If the network wants to be treated as a real news outlet, they need to fire Sammon immediately. But it can't stop there — Fox should also submit to an external review of their climate coverage and agree to correct the record based on the findings.

Please join us in holding Fox News accountable, and ask your friends and family to do the same:

http://colorofchange.org/turnofffox/climate/tof.html


The memo establishing Fox's climate reporting policy was written on December 8, 2009, shortly after Fox White House correspondent Wendell Goler reported that 2000-2009 would be the warmest decade on record, and that the scientific community remained united behind their belief in human-induced climate change.

Just 15 minutes later, Managing Editor Bill Sammon made clear that that kind of truth-based reporting had no place at Fox News, telling reporters to "...refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question..."2

While it's long been clear that Fox News is the anchor of the conservative message machine, this latest revelation takes Fox to new lows. Fox isn't just lining up on one side of a partisan debate, they are taking a stand against the planet. And Sammon's memo shows that climate change denial isn't just the bias of particular reporters, it's company policy.

And this is by no means an isolated incident. Weeks earlier, Sammon sent another memo to Fox News' reporters ordering them to refer to the public health insurance option as the "government option" — a phrase suggested by noted GOP strategist Frank Luntz because it would create opposition to the plan.3

According to watchdog group Media Matters, "Sammon instructed staff to refer on air to 'government-run health insurance,' the 'government option,' 'the public option, which is the government-run plan,' or — when 'necessary' — 'the so-called public option."'4

Its another outrageous demonstration of Fox News Channel's war on truth, led by a key lieutenant — Bill Sammon. More important, it's an opportunity to hold Fox accountable and expose them for what they are. Please join TurnOffFox.org in demanding that Fox News fire Sammon, and correct their record of lies.

http://colorofchange.org/turnofffox/climate/tof.html



Thanks and Peace,

-- James, Becky and the rest of the TurnOffFox.org team
December 17th, 2010

References:

1. "Liberal media watchdog: Fox News e-mail shows network’s slant on climate change," WashingtonPost.com, 12-15-10
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/15/AR2010121503181.html?hpid=topnews


2. "Fox editor urged climate skepticism," Politico.com, 12-15-10
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/46409.html


3. "Fox News VP: Don’t Call the Government-Run Health Care Plan by the Name People Like," New York Magazine, 12-9-2010
http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2010/12/fox_news_vp_dont_call_the_gove.html


4. "LEAKED EMAIL: Fox boss caught slanting news reporting," Media Matters for America, 12-9-2010
http://mediamatters.org/blog/201012090003




Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Remember the Mihos ad?

That old Christy Mihos ad was sure amusing, but now it seems to be where Christy Mihos' head is at!

Christy, just another NIMBY "Don't Spoil My Expensive View" Cape resident hasn't figured out that the Chinese are aggressively moving forward with alternative energy and will bury us, all while Christy has his head buried you-know-where.

Posted here: Does this even make sense?

Consider this -- Nuclear Energy costs

$7,500 per kilowatt to build


That’s more than double the capital costs for solar power and three and a half times the cost for wind.

And this is interesting --

In his address, Alexander criticized Democrats' for proposing billions of dollars in subsidies for renewable energy -- but he failed to note that nuclear power is already

the most heavily subsidized industry in the energy sector.

In 2005, Congress handed the nuclear power industry $13 billion in federal aid, and two years later went on to approve an additional $20.5 billion in loan guarantees, making U.S. taxpayers the cosigners on loans for new nuclear projects -- half of which are expected to end in defaults.

Taxpayers and ratepayers have also forked over $11 billion for the Yucca Mountain high-level waste disposal dump, which the Obama administration recently scrapped over concerns about long-term safety.

Christy, that's a windmill you're fighting, not wind turbines!






Nonprofit’s political ad may have violated tax law
Wind farm foe criticized Patrick
By Michael Rezendes
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the nonprofit group that has spearheaded opposition to the nation’s first offshore wind farm for nearly a decade, may have breached federal tax law by airing a radio ad critical of Governor Deval Patrick in the final days of the governor’s race, according to a Globe review of the Internal Revenue Service code and agency guidelines.

The ad, which aired on five stations covering Greater Boston, the South Shore, and the Worcester area, criticized Patrick for supporting the Cape Wind energy proposal while noting that “the other candidates for governor’’ opposed the project.

“Tired of paying high electric bills?’’ the ad began. “If Governor Patrick has his way, 172 communities across Massachusetts will soon be paying even more.’’ The ad also referred listeners to an Alliance website that drew a sharp contrast between Patrick and Charles D. Baker, his Republican opponent, while urging readers to “get out and vote on Nov. 2.’’

The federal tax code defines a nonprofit group organized for charitable or educational purposes as one that “does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for political office.’’ Donations to such organizations, known as 501(c)(3)s, are tax deductible because they are considered nonpartisan contributions to the betterment of society.

Audra Parker, president of the Alliance, said the organization’s radio ad did not violate the IRS tax code’s prohibition on political activity by nonprofit groups because it did not specifically tell listeners to vote for or against a candidate, and because its aim was to educate voters about Cape Wind and the candidates’ views on the proposal.

“We can say that Governor Patrick supports this irresponsible, exorbitantly expensive project. We just can’t say, ‘Don’t vote for Governor Patrick,’ ’’ Parker said. “We’ve been very careful to live within the letter of the law as a 501(c)(3).’’

But IRS guidelines available on the agency’s website say that “501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.’’

The guidelines also say that “even if a statement does not expressly tell an audience to vote for or against a specific candidate, an organization delivering the statement is at risk of violating the political campaign intervention prohibition if there is any message favoring or opposing a candidate.’’

In general, 501(c)(3) organizations differ from so-called 527 organizations, advocacy groups that have been active in national politics, because 527s are formed for the purpose of participating in political campaigns, often by funding “issue ads.’’ In addition, contributions to 527s are not considered tax deductible, and many 527s are required to disclose the names of their donors.

Laura J. Kenney, the New England executive director of nonprofit tax services for the accounting firm Grant Thornton, would not comment specifically on the Alliance ad. But she said her general advice to 501(c)(3) clients is to avoid any issue advocacy that appears to favor or oppose a political candidate, “even if they do not make a specific endorsement.’’

Kenney said that nonprofit groups found to have violated the prohibition on political activity are often required to pay an excise tax and report the payment on their tax returns the following year. But violators may also face the loss of their tax-exempt status, she said.

In a recent TaxAlert sent to its nonprofit clients, Grant Thornton said organizations with the same nonprofit tax status as the Alliance “are strictly prohibited from directly or indirectly participating or intervening in any political campaign.’’ The TaxAlert also warned clients that “undertaking any political activity may jeopardize the tax-exempt status of a section 501(c)(3) organization.’’

Earlier this month, Common Cause of Massachusetts, a group that tracks the influence of money in politics, asked the state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance to investigate the Alliance for failing to report spending on its radio ad.

A law that took effect in January requires all organizations that pay for ads that mention the name of a candidate within 90 days of an election to report the amount of money spent, along with the names of donors who provide the funds.

Shortly after learning of the Common Cause letter, the Alliance reported spending more than $32,500 on the ad with money given by three individuals, including Christy Mihos, a cochairman of the Alliance and a Cape Cod resident who waged an independent campaign for governor four years ago and, briefly, this year.

The Cape Wind proposal calls for building 130 turbines, each 440 feet high, over 24 square miles in Nantucket Sound. The project is expected to add less than $2 a month to the bills of National Grid customers.


Tax Deal: Just say "NO" !

This is one of the simplest explanations of a few of the reasons the 'Tax Deal' is bad:

Top 5 Problems with the Tax Deal
Everyone knows that the "deal" that President Obama agreed to with Republicans will extend George W. Bush's reckless millionaire tax bailout--but what a lot of folks don't realize is that there are lots of other terrible parts of it, too.

Unemployed Americans desperately need their benefits extended to get by in this economy—so Republicans held them hostage to force through a slew of horrible economic policies in this deal.

Problem #1: The deal is a stealth attack on Social Security.

The deal will lower the payroll tax—the tax that funds the Social Security trust. This is a trap for Democrats. Republicans have been coming after Social Security for years and this cut is the biggest threat to the vital program in decades. It will cut one-third of Social Security's funding this year alone and when we need to restore the payroll tax back to its current level, Republicans will cry "tax increases" and could gut it permanently. 1


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Problem #2: For nearly one in three workers, it's a tax increase.

Nearly 50 million working Americans—including all workers making less than $20,000 per year—and millions of federal, state, and municipal workers will see their taxes go up because of the deal.2


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Problem #3: The deal has not one but TWO millionaire bailouts.

In addition to extending all the Bush income tax breaks for the top 2%, the deal will slash the estate tax. If Congress did nothing, next year the estate tax would be 55% and apply to everyone inheriting $1 million or more. But the deal reduces it to 35% and only people who inherit more than $5 million will have to pay. This second bailout will give a gigantic tax giveaway to a few thousand of the richest families in the country and add hundreds of billions to the national debt.3


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Problem #4: Unemployment help is insufficient and inadequate.

While the deal extends unemployment benefits for another 13 months for people currently receiving it, millions of unemployed workers who've struggled the most and been out of work more than 99 weeks—since the giant Wall Street banks wrecked the economy—will get no help at all under the deal.4 It's a gamble that there will be jobs in the next 13 months when the insurance runs out, but the tax cuts will go well beyond that. Better to just pass a stand-alone unemployment extension to help all struggling Americans.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Problem #5: Tax giveaways to the rich are a terrible way to create jobs.

Tax breaks for the rich are the least efficient way to create jobs and help the economy grow. In fact the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says extending all tax cuts would lower unemployment only 0.1% to 0.3% over the next year5 and that the cost of the tax deal would be $900 billion over the next five years.6


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sources:

1."Tax Cut Deal A Hidden Threat To Social Security" The Huffington Post, December 8, 2010
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/tax-cut-deal-a-hidden-thr_n_793983.html

2. "Obama-Republican Deal Could Mean Tax Hike For One In Three Workers" The Huffington Post, December 10, 2010
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/10/obamarepublican-deal-coul_n_795187.html

3. "Estate tax deal: worst part of a bad tax compromise" The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2010
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Tax-VOX/2010/1207/Estate-tax-deal-worst-part-of-a-bad-tax-compromise

4. "Unemployment benefits: Extension won't help '99ers'" The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2010
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2010/1207/Unemployment-benefits-Extension-won-t-help-99ers

5. "The Deal" Paul Krugman, The New York Times, December 7, 2010
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/07/the-deal/

6. "CBO score shows tax plan ups deficit $900 billion in 5 years" CNN.com, December 10, 2010
http://articles.cnn.com/2010-12-10/politics/tax.plan_1_tax-cuts-tax-plan-bush-era-tax?_s=PM:POLITICS

Lame Duck is Lame!

Below, is just one more objectionable item tossed into the Lame Duck Congress's Lame package.
Please sign the email request.

Urgent: Last Chance to Stop Government from Funding Wild Horse Roundups in 2011


Federal Budget/2011 Funding of Wild Horse Removals
Action Needed: Email your U.S. senators immediately and urge them to vote NO on any bill that allows continued spending on the removal of wild horses from public lands in the West in fiscal year 2011.

In Fiscal Year 2010, the BLM rounded up and removed more than 10,000 wild horses and burros from public lands. Those who survived the cruel ordeal of these "gathers" will be maintained for life in government holding facilities at taxpayer expense. Meanwhile, enormous herds of privately owned livestock are allowed to graze on these same lands.

Congress is currently trying to pass a federal spending bill for fiscal year 2011.

Unfortunately, the House of Representatives has already approved increased funding for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) broken, mismanaged Wild Horse and Burro Program. The BLM plans to use this funding to remove another 10,000 wild horses from public lands. If this happens, the population of mustangs warehoused in holding facilities would swell to 45,000, leaving fewer than 30,000 horses free in the wild. The removal and warehousing of America's wild horses is projected to cost taxpayers over $50 million in fiscal year 2011.

We do have a chance to stop this: the Senate is still debating the 2011 federal spending bill, but the deadline to make changes and pass it is midnight on Saturday, December 18.

Now is the time for the Senate to hear, loudly and clearly, that Americans are tired of wasteful spending on broken, inhumane government programs such as this one.

What You Can Do
Please act fast—send the email
here to your two U.S. senators, urging them to vote NO on any version of a fiscal year 2011 spending bill that allots money for the removal of wild horses from our public lands.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Public Hearing January 5, 2011, Route 105 Improvements

Notice of a Public Hearing
A Design Public Hearing will be held by MassDOT - Highway Division to discuss the proposed Route 105 at I-495 traffic signals and intersection improvement project in Middleborough, MA.

WHERE:
Middleborough Town Hall
Selectmen's Meeting Room
15 Nickerson Avenue
Middleborough, MA 02346
WHEN:
Wednesday January 05, 2011
at 7:00 P.M.

Project#:
602603



PURPOSE:
The purpose of this hearing is to provide the public with the opportunity to become fully acquainted with the proposed Route 105 at I-495 traffic intersection improvement project. All views and comments made at the hearing will be reviewed and considered to the maximum extent possible.


PROPOSAL:
The proposed project consists of: installing new traffic signals at the intersection of Route 105 (North Main Street) and the two I-495 ramp systems (for I-495 Northbound and I-495 Southbound); adding turn lanes on the I-495 ramps and Route 105; and geometric improvements at the intersection of Route 105 and East Clark Road. This project includes traffic signal coordination with the Lakeville Hospital Redevelopment, the Route 79 relocation, and the Route 105/Route 28 traffic signal projects. Shared accommodations for all users have been provided in accordance with applicable guidelines.

A secure right-of-way is necessary for this project. Acquisitions in fee and permanent or temporary easements may be required. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is responsible for acquiring all needed rights in private or public lands. MassDOT's policy concerning land acquisitions will be discussed at this hearing.

Written views received by MassDOT subsequent to the date of this notice and up to five (5) days prior to the date of the hearing shall be displayed for public inspection and copying at the time and date listed above. Plans will be on display one-half hour before the hearing begins, with an engineer in attendance to answer questions regarding this project. A project handout will be made available on the MassDOT website listed below.

Written statements and other exhibits in place of, or in addition to, oral statements made at the Public Hearing regarding the proposed undertaking are to be submitted to Frank A. Tramontozzi, P.E., Chief Engineer, MassDOT - Highway Division, 10 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116, ATTN: (Project Management, Project File No. 602603). Such submissions will also be accepted at the hearing. Mailed statements and exhibits intended for inclusion in the public hearing transcript must be postmarked within ten (10) business days of this Public Hearing. Project inquiries may be emailed to
dot.feedback.highway@state.ma.us


The community has declared that this facility is accessible to all in compliance with the ADA / Title II. However, persons in need of ADA / Title II accommodations should contact Angela Rudikoff by phone VOICE (617) 973-7005, TDDY (617) 973-7306 or email angela.rudikoff@state.ma.us. Requests must be made at least 10 days prior to the date of the public hearing.

In case of inclement weather, hearing cancellation announcements will be posted on the MassHighway website
http://www.massdot.state.ma.us/Highway/.

Where is Beacon Hill?

Putting 4,400 people out of work, not because they're losing money but because they're not making enough? Does that even make sense?

That's more than the number that would be employed in Beacon Hill's "Destination Resort Slot Barn" proposal.

How about some intervention here?


TJX to shut A.J. Wright chain and trim about 4,400 jobs

FRAMINGHAM — The TJX Companies Inc. is closing its A.J. Wright chain early next year in a move that will trim about 4,400 positions from the discount giant’s payroll.

TJX plans to convert 91 A.J. Wright stores into T.J. Maxx, Marshalls or HomeGoods stores. The Framingham-based company will close the remaining 71 stores.

The 12-year-old A.J. Wright chain is profitable – the division’s estimated, after-tax profit for the year is $10 million – but apparently not profitable enough for the executives at TJX. They say that they believe the converted stores will be more profitable and that many of A.J. Wright’s target customers are already choosing to shop at TJX’s other discount brands.

The stores that will close for good include 10 in Massachusetts, including the A.J. Wright store in Quincy. The other Bay State stores to be closed are located in Fitchburg, Malden, Medford, Methuen, New Bedford, Somerville, Springfield, Waltham and Worcester.

TJX is also shutting down two distribution centers in Fall River and in South Bend, Ind., as well as the A.J. Wright corporate operations in Framingham and certain regional offices. TJX said it will try to offer jobs at other stores to many of the displaced store workers, and that about one-fourth of the displaced corporate employees will be offered positions within the company.

TJX will close all 162 A.J. Wright stores between late January and the middle of February. The conversion process for the 91 stores that TJX is keeping will take about eight weeks before they are reopened.

TJX plans to report $150 million to $170 million in onetime, after-tax costs to close the A.J. Wright business, and another $12 million to $15 million to convert the 91 stores that the company is keeping.

But the company said it expects an annual boost in profit of about $25 million to $30 million, after taxes, from the conversion of those stores, and a boost in traffic and growth opportunities for the company’s T.J. Maxx-Marshalls division.

TJX originally launched A.J. Wright in September 1998, with three stores in Brockton, Malden and Somerville.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mining

Join Robert Redford in protesting Pebble Mine!


Please watch our new video about the Pebble Mine --
an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Then, send a message telling Anglo American that you won't allow them to destroy Bristol Bay's wildlife Eden. Urge the foreign mining giant to abandon its disastrous plans for the Pebble Mine.




Sample letter:

One thing the American people have learned from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is that sometimes the worst-case scenario really happens -- despite corporate promises to the contrary. As Anglo American continues its environmental and socioeconomic studies of the proposed Pebble Mine, I am standing with the communities of Bristol Bay who are overwhelmingly opposed to your risky plans, even more so in the wake of the ecological catastrophe caused by BP.

No matter how many assurances you give, we do not want another corporate giant gambling with the future of a critical ecosystem that supports prolific salmon runs, a vast array of wildlife, Native communities and thousands of sustainable jobs in fishing and tourism. The people of the Gulf states were given similar assurances that have proven to be hollow. BP claimed that a major spill was unlikely and that, in any case, a spill could be cleaned with little damage done. Today, we know better.

Anglo American is making similar promises, stating that it will develop a plan for the mine that is "environmentally responsible." But given that the Pebble Mine will generate some 10 billion tons of waste at the very headwaters of the pristine watershed that feeds Bristol Bay, even a small chance of catastrophe is too much to let you roll the dice with this irreplaceable ecosystem. Some risks are simply unacceptable. I urge you to accept the will of local residents, more than 80 percent of whom oppose the Pebble Mine.

If you do proceed, you will face relentless opposition from the Natural Resources Defense Council and our 1.3 million members and activists, who stand in solidarity with the Alaskan opposition and are helping take their cause to the international stage.

Now more than ever, in the wake of the environmental disaster in the Gulf, the world is watching your actions. I call on you to abandon the Pebble Mine.

Warming's Tragic Effects

Global Warming Is Happening Right Here, Right Now

Graphic Video Shows Polar Bears Starving to Death in Hudson Bay
Warning: This video includes disturbing footage of a malnourished polar bear mother and her two cubs in western Hudson Bay, Canada. Some may choose not to watch, because it includes graphic scenes of a malnourished cub experiencing seizures.

Both cubs died within two days of the November 23, 2010, filming.

As difficult as the images are to watch, they show the real-life struggle polar bears face each day trying to survive on a warming planet. Malnourishment, starvation and even cannibalism have become facts of life for polar bears in western Hudson Bay and other areas.



A Warming Climate Takes its Toll on the Polar Bears of Hudson Bay. from Daniel J. Cox on Vimeo.


Polar bears are completely dependent upon large expanses of sea ice to hunt, feed and survive. They use the sea ice as a platform to capture seals and other prey. Global warming is rapidly melting their ice and lengthening the ice-free season, forcing bears to spend ever-longer periods of time on land, where there is little for them to eat. The longer bears like the ones in this video are stranded on land, the more likely they are to starve.

Polar bears were listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2008 due to sea-ice declines and dwindling populations. The U.S. population is projected to go extinct by 2050 if climate change in not reined in soon; the entire species may disappear by the end of the century. The polar bears of western Hudson Bay are on the front line of global warming impacts: their population declined by 22 percent between 1987 and 2004 and may be the first driven extinct by climate change.

The Center for Biological Diversity wrote the 2005 scientific petition to protect the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act. We later filed suit to ensure the listing occurred and to win 187,000 square miles of protected “critical habitat” in Alaska in December 2010. The Center is currently in court to upgrade the polar bear’s status from “threatened” to “endangered” and to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions in the lower 48 states, which are contributing to the melting of Arctic sea ice, are subject to Endangered Species Act regulation.

We hear a lot these days about 'bullying'

We are writing to you from UN climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, where diplomatic cables exposed by WikiLeaks this week confirm what we'd already been hearing: The U.S. is bullying poorer countries into accepting an unjust and dangerous climate deal.1

Do you want your government to stop pushing poor countries around and start acting as a constructive force in international negotiations?

If the answer is yes, then we need your signature on our petition to the chief U.S. diplomat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The leaked cables show how the Obama administration used its foreign aid budget to bribe some developing countries into supporting a deeply flawed climate proposal called the Copenhagen Accord, which could set the world on a path to devastating levels of global warming -- up to nine degrees Fahrenheit by this century's end.2

The U.S. followed up by cutting off aid funding to other poor countries that refused to do its bidding.

Just yesterday, the deputy prime minister of Tuvalu, a small island that could be wiped off the map by climate change, declared, "We cannot afford to be held hostage by the domestic political backwardness of one large developed country. It is now time to act."

Will you stand with Tuvalu and call on U.S. negotiators to stop undermining strong global action to fight climate change?

When President Obama came into office, he promised to engage cooperatively with other countries to address the climate crisis. But at last year's climate talks in Copenhagen, and now in Cancun, his negotiators have done the opposite.

The planet desperately needs industrialized countries like ours to commit to steep, science-based emissions reductions. But the Copenhagen Accord is based on a system of voluntary pledges that would allow each country to cut emissions however much it likes, without regard to science or what's fair.

Bullying poor countries into accepting the Copenhagen Accord undermines the global cooperation required to solve the climate crisis. The bullying must stop now. As American citizens, we need to demand better.

It's not too late for President Obama and his administration to change course.

Progress is still possible here in Cancun, and the work of achieving a comprehensive climate agreement will carry over into next year's UN climate summit in South Africa.

But progress is only possible if the bullying stops. Tell Secretary Clinton to give U.S. diplomats a fresh mission: acting as a constructive force for fair and effective climate solutions.

In solidarity from Cancun,

Nick Berning, Kate Horner and Karen Orenstein
Friends of the Earth

Notes:

1. The Guardian. "WikiLeaks cables reveal how US manipulated climate accord":
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-us-manipulated-climate-accord?mobile-redirect=false

2. United Nations Environment Program. The Emissions Gap Report:
http://www.unep.org/publications/ebooks/emissionsgapreport

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Have yourself a Merry Green Christmas!

This has been a challenging time for the environment and the climate. Below are some recent articles and broadcast worth reading and listening to in their entirety.

At the bottom, are some Holiday gift ideas for those seeking alternative gifts.



Big Polluters Freed from Environmental Oversight by Stimulus
BP, Westar, and DuPont Among Companies Exempted from Environmental Law





Ocean acidification may threaten food security: U.N.
CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) - Acidification of the seas linked to climate change could threaten fisheries production and is already causing the fastest shift in ocean chemistry in 65 million years, a U.N. study showed on Thursday.

Production of shellfish, such as mussels, shrimp or lobsters, could be most at risk since they will find it harder to build protective shells, according to the report issued on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks in Mexico.

It could also damage coral reefs, vital as nurseries for many commercial fish stocks.

"Ocean acidification is yet another red flag being raised, carrying planetary health warnings about the uncontrolled growth in greenhouse gas emissions," said Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Dirty Secret of Declining Global Coal Supplies

Americans Fail The Climate Quiz
LISTEN


Military Goes Green For An Edge On The Battlefield
LISTEN


Rising Seas, Climate Change & the Viriginia Coast
As the U.N. talks about climate in Cancun, coastal Norfolk, VA, is already dealing with rising sea levels.

Norfolk, Virginia is one of the oldest cities in America. It’s a city on the water, at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.

And if you live in Norfolk, what you see is the water rising. Norfolk’s land base is settling. The seas are getting higher.

The combination has put Norfolk out front in confronting what cities all over the world may face in a century of climate change: water in the streets; big decisions on what to save and where to retreat; and huge costs.

Climate change deniers hate the conversation, but in Norfolk, it’s reality time. We look at getting real about high water, and what’s to come.

LISTEN



thedailygreen which includes:
Green gift ideas
30+ Surprising Ways to Save Money by Going Green
19 Easy Home Winterization Projects
11 Ways to Give Without Giving Stuff
9 Great Free and Ultra-Cheap Christmas Gifts
Keep holiday spending under control, without being Scrooge.


Environmental News Network does a superlative job offering information from around the world.

From Have yourself a Merry Green Christmas!

I'm guessing Christmas shopping has already started for many and I know of some people who have put up trees already. Christmas is a nice season: it wraps up the end of the year, gives us time to contemplate, spend time with families, shop and eat. Who doesn't like all of that? Modern Christmas is also supremely consumerist, so like with other holidays, it is essential to consider your personal footprint.

The recent survey released by price comparison site GoCompare via the Energy Saving Trust of British householders revealed just how much energy is wasted by Christmas lighting. 52% of respondents intended to display decorative Christmas lighting outside their house. With this in mind, GoCompare calculated that a display of 100 five-watt bulbs switched on for six hours a day over the festive period will consume 207 Kwh, the equivalent of 22.8 days of the average British household's
electricity consumption.

According to the American Environmental Defense Fund one of the easiest ways to lower Christmas electricity bills is by buying energy-saving LED decorative lighting, suitable for both outdoor and indoor displays. Though LED Christmas lighting often costs more than traditional alternatives, in the long term it consumes far less energy, which leads to lower electricity bills and reduces the environmental impact of the festive season. They also last longer.

Lighting is not the only way to reduce your festive footprint, as ethical consumer this can be extended to the food and drinks you serve as well as the presents you give, cards, the tree you choose - the list is endless. There are now many options when it comes to trees as well. A real tree wins, because artificial trees are made of PVC which is hard to recycle. Christmas tree farms, have sustainability built into the business: when you cart your tree off for trimming, they'll plant another one to sell a few years down the line. However, make sure that you opt for an organic farm that does not use pesticides and fertilizers. Additionally find out if you can rent a Christmas tree, or plant one in your backyard which you can use year after year.

Article continues:
http://www.justmeans.com/Have-yourself-a-Merry-Green-Christmas/38049.html

NRDC

From Rainforest Action Network:
Make Sure Your Holiday Shopping Is Rainforest-Safe

From The Center for Biological Diversity:
STOREFRONT
The Greener Giving Guide

From Jetson Green:

Green Gift Guide: The Gift of Giving

From Defenders of Wildlife:
Marketplace

From WorldWildlife Fund:
Gift Center


From Sierra Club:
Christmas gift ideas

Democracy for sale

Cape Cod Times offered an interesting article about campaign funds, Outside groups stoked 10th District campaign that's worth reading in its entirety, and the KOCH name continues to stand out:

Both men reported a nearly identical amount in donations from political action committees in the final days of the campaign — Keating netting $140,000, most of it from unions, and Perry getting $133,500, including $5,000 from the Koch PAC.

Middleboro/Lakeville get left behind....again

Middleboro business owners who generate electricity say green-energy program doesn’t make sense

Business owners who generate electricity say program doesn’t make sense

By Alice C. Elwell

MIDDLEBORO — A commercial bricklayer who had been in discussions with Middleboro officials to build a federally subsidized solar-power station says the deal is off because the town’s power utility wants to buy the power from him at a bargain rate, then charge him full price for it.

“It does not make financial sense, it killed the deal for me,” said Walter J. Zaverucha, principal owner of 4M 16 Commerce LLC, who proposed a 200-kilowatt solar field on the roof of the former Computer Boards building on Commerce Boulevard. “The town of Middleboro has killed that deal.”

Zaverucha said the proposed solar array would have supplied about 60 percent of his energy, but Middleboro Gas & Electric Commissioners adopted a policy that will buy the power produced for about 10 cents a kilowatt hour and charge him 16 cents, “I was blown away by that.”

“The power I produce would never leave the building,” Zaverucha said. “Why sell what I’m consuming? I should be able to consume all the electricity I produce. Why do I have to pay them anything?”

Zaverucha received $489,000 in state and federal grants to build the array in Middleboro.

“The whole incentive behind this is to produce more green energy,” Zaverucha said, but he’s backing out of the project because he said the commissioner’s buy-back policy offers no incentive. “I pleaded with the Gas & Electric give us some kind of a deal that made sense.”

“If I was a mile down the street in Bridgewater, I’d go forward with this project,” Zaverucha said.

Electricity in Bridgewater is provided by National Grid.

Zaverucha said investor-owned utilities offer a better buy-back policy and he’s going forward with a similar project in Plymouth for the Rising Tide Charter School, that is serviced by NStar.

“I thought the whole world was going green,” said Brenton Tolles, administrator of the Island Terrace Nursing Home in Lakeville, owned by his family. Tolles said the commissioner’s policy will hinder green energy.

Tolles already started installing a $245,000 solar array this week, using federal and state grants to fund half of the construction costs. But in light of the commissioner’s policy, he said it’s uncertain if he’ll break even. Tolles expects to produce between 10 and 15 percent of power used at the nursing home with the solar panels.

“I’m disappointed with the commissioner’s policy, but they’re a municipal utility and they can do anything they want,” said Tolles. “We’re losing with money Middleboro Gas & Electric; I wish they’d reconsider.”

Tolles said the policy targets those that use green energy to cut consumption of fossil fuel.

“If I cut back my use some other way they’re not going to penalize me. To me, this is just one more way to cut my energy. Why are they penalizing me for cutting my energy use?”

On Nov. 9, commissioners approved a policy to buy back renewable energy produced by commercial customers. Gas & Electric spokeswoman Sandra Richter said the town-owned utility is not required to pay customers for the power they produce, unlike regulations for their larger counterparts such as NStar and National Grid.

Richter said investor-owned utilities are mandated by the state to buy renewable energy from their customers who produce it, but she said expenses are passed along to other customers. Richter said state law prohibits a public utility like Middleboro G&E from passing on costs.

“One customer can’t be subsidized by another at a public utility,” she said.

Richter said power companies are required to have enough power on hand to supply customers who are producing renewable energy, in the event the sun doesn’t shine or the wind stops blowing. She said it’s a fixed cost that renewable energy producers are liable for, rather than passing it on to the rate payers.

“We still have to have the power ready, even if it’s not used,” Richter said.

This is the first time the Middleboro utility has had a policy in place for renewable power, and Richter couldn’t estimate the fixed costs associated with a project such as Zaverucha’s.

Michael Durand, spokesperson for NStar said “We have more renewable energy projects on our systems that any other utility in the state.” He said there are several benefits in being a customer of a regulated utility, “This is one of them.”

Friday, December 3, 2010

Middleboro school bus driver sues employer for retaliation

According to the Massachusetts web site Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect :


Mandated Reporters
Massachusetts law defines the following professionals as mandated reporters: What is DCF?

•Physicians, medical interns, hospital personnel engaged in the examination, care or treatment of persons, medical examiners;
•Emergency medical technicians, dentists, nurses, chiropractors, podiatrists, optometrists, osteopaths;
•Public or private school teachers, educational administrators, guidance or family counselors;
•Early education, preschool, child care or after school program staff, including any person paid to care for, or work with, a child in any public or private facility, home or program funded or licensed by the Commonwealth, which provides child care or residential services. This includes child care resource and referral agencies, as well as voucher management agencies, family child care and child care food programs;
•Child care licensors, such as staff from the Department of Early Education and Care;
•Social workers, foster parents, probation officers, clerks magistrate of the district courts, and parole officers;
•Firefighters and police officers;
•School attendance officers, allied mental health and licensed human services professionals;
•Psychiatrists, psychologists and clinical social workers, drug and alcoholism counselors;
•Clergy members, including ordained or licensed leaders of any church or religious body, persons performing official duties on behalf of a church or religious body, or persons employed by a religious body to supervise, educate, coach, train or counsel a child on a regular basis; and
•The Child Advocate

Child Abuse and Neglect Overview
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the Massachusetts state agency charged with the responsibility of protecting children from child abuse and neglect. To report abuse or neglect, call the Child-at-Risk Hotline anytime of the day or night at 1-800-792-5200.


The intent of the law was to include ANYONE dealing with children who might be in a position to become aware of any possible abuse or neglect, but one would hope that others not included on the list who become aware of suspected abuse would step forward and speak out as well.

To nit-pick that a school bus driver is not included within the definition is disingenuous. Next door neighbors aren't included on the list either. To suggest that they shouldn't report suspected abuse because they're not specifically listed ignores common sense.

The parent's reaction and the bus company's makes one question how this was handled.

The Middleboro School System has revealed itself failing one child in the past and it appears they have handled this case inappropriately.

Having met Colleen, the love of her job shines through. It takes a special person!

RELATED ARTICLE:
Middleboro school bus driver sues employer for retaliation
Woman claims she was punished for reporting case of suspected child abuse in Middleboro

By Alice C. Elwell

MIDDLEBORO — A school bus driver has sued her employer, First Student Inc., for $1 million, saying the company retaliated against her for telling school officials about a suspected case of child abuse.

According to the lawsuit, Colleen M. Anderson, a bus driver for 25 years, said the child in question told her about an alleged case of abuse. Anderson, in turn, reported the matter to Terrance J. Brooks, assistant principal of the Burkland Elementary School, in March 2009.

The child is related to a supervisor. In the lawsuit, Anderson said she was removed from the company’s list of employees eligible for overtime pay, among other retaliatory measures, after she reported the alleged abuse.

“I would love to comment, but I am afraid of further retaliation. I love my job,” she said.

The company is asking the court to dismiss Anderson’s suit on the grounds that she was not required by law to report suspected abuse to authorities and therefore does not qualify for the protection granted to those who are.

Mandated reporting laws require people who work with children to tell authorities whenever they see or hear something that would give them reasonable cause to believe a child is being abused.

Matthew A. Porte, the attorney representing First Student, declined to comment.

Anderson’s attorney, Adam M. Bond of Middleboro, also declined to comment as the case is in litigation.

In Anderson’s statement to the court, Bond wrote, “Indeed, it is stunning that a national school bus company would actually assert such a counter-intuitive argument that boils down to an absolute elimination of a child-safety obligation that they should embrace, rather than attack.”

Bond asserts in his argument that any retaliation against Anderson would violate her right to protection under mandatory-reporting laws.

School Superintendent Michael Malone did not speak specifically to Anderson’s case, but said state law is vague in designating bus drivers as mandatory reporters.

“I would assume they would be mandated reporters. If not, they are required to report under our procedures,” Malone said. “The law says anyone who works for the school, or a person paid to care and work with children in a public or private facility.”

Bond’s court brief uses the Middleboro School Handbook as evidence to support Anderson’s claim.

“The bus driver has the responsibility to maintain control of behavior on the bus and shall be considered to have the same authority as the teacher in the classroom.”

The case is headed for the U.S. District Court in Boston on Dec. 20.

According to court documents, Anderson alleges that a month after she reported the child’s allegations, the charges of child abuse were turned against her.

She said the victim’s mother complained that Anderson was “engaging in inappropriate behavior” with the victim and other children.