Monday, May 31, 2010

Fwd: The Battle Over Taxing Soda ANS

Subject: The Battle Over Taxing Soda  ANS

this was in the New York Times.  It's about the wisdom of taxing soda at a penny an ounce. 
Find it here:


Economic Scene

The Battle Over Taxing Soda

Change in price of items since 1978, relative to overall inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. The price of carbonated drinks, for example, has fallen 34 percent relative to all other prices.

The classic way for lobbyists to defend their client's interest is to insist that they are not actually defending their client's interest. Really, they say, they are just looking out for ordinary Americans.

Tobacco lobbyists spent years fighting regulation by claiming to be defending individual freedom, not the profits of tobacco companies. Detroit's lobbyists did much the same to push back against seat belt and pollution laws. Wall Street has spent months opposing the financial regulation bill in the name of families and small businesses.

The latest example comes from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and the rest of the soda industry, which is trying to defeat a soda tax now before the District of Columbia Council. The industry has succeeded recently in beating back similar taxes in New York and Philadelphia, and in keeping one out of the federal health overhaul bill. But the Washington Council seems to be seriously considering a penny-per-ounce tax on nondiet sodas, energy drinks and artificial juices. Council members are set to vote on the issue next week.

This soda debate is probably going to be around for some time. Cities and counties, desperate to find money to pay for schools and roads, are starting to see a soda tax as a way to raise revenue. The tax also appears to be one of the most promising ways to attack obesity, given the huge role sugary drinks play in the epidemic.

"It's wrong for the government to stand idle in the face of an epidemic of obesity that's hurting the quality of life and the health of our residents," says Mary Cheh, the Council member who has proposed the tax, "when we have policy choices in front of us that can materially affect the problem."

The soda industry, of course, is fighting back with newspaper and radio advertisements, among other things. It says a tax would most hurt "hard-working, low- and middle-income families, elderly residents and those living on fixed incomes" and would destroy jobs. Ellen Valentino, an industry official, recently told The Washington Post that companies would spend "whatever it takes" to make their case.

The argument for a soda tax is the same as the argument for a tax on tobacco, pollution or, for that matter, banks that take big, expensive risks. When an activity imposes costs on society, economists have long said that the activity should be taxed. Doing so accomplishes two goals: it discourages the activity, and it raises money to help pay society's costs.

In the case of soda, those costs come in the form of medical bills for diabetes, heart disease and other side effects of obesity. We're all paying these bills, via Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance premiums. Obesity has become a significant cause of our swelling long-term budget deficit.

And soda is a huge reason the country is so much more obese. The typical American consumes almost three times as many calories from sugary drinks as in the late 1970s. This increase accounts for about half the total per-capita rise in calorie consumption over the same period. Remember, many of these drinks have zero nutritional benefit ­ unlike meat, cheese or juice.

As Kelly Brownell, a Yale researcher, says, the link between obesity and soda is scientifically stronger than the link between obesity and any other type of food or beverage.

We're drinking more soda for several reasons. Above all, the inflation-adjusted price has fallen 34 percent since the late 1970s, largely because it can be manufactured more cheaply than in the past. Meanwhile, the average real cost of fruits and vegetables has risen more than 30 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Coincidentally, Ms. Cheh's proposed tax would roughly reverse the drop in the price of soda over the last three decades, at least for the popular 12-pack of cans. An extra penny per ounce on a 12-pack would add $1.44 ­ or about 30 percent ­ to the current typical $4.75 price. (The tax rate would be lower for single-serve bottles and higher for bulk purchases.)

Most of the revenue would then be used to improve the miserable quality of many school lunches in Washington. One blog, Better D.C. School Food, has taken to documenting these lunches, with a series of photographs of bland bread, processed cheese and reconstituted beef.

So what about Coke's and Pepsi's arguments against the tax?

They are certainly right that less soda consumption could cost the soda industry some jobs. But it would eliminate jobs from the overall economy only if people put the money they had been spending on soda into their savings accounts. That's highly unlikely. Instead, people will probably spend more on other food and drinks or, say, go to the movies more often ­ and create jobs in those industries.

The argument that the tax will hurt the poor is a little more serious. The average American now drinks almost a gallon of sweetened beverages each week. If the tax passes, any Washington resident who continued to do so would have to pay about $1.20 each week in soda taxes.

Yet even that number overstates the cost, because the tax would surely affect how much soda many people drank. One of the lessons of the recent rise in cigarette taxes is that big price changes can lead to big behavior changes, even with an addictive product like tobacco. Teenagers, the biggest soda drinkers of all, are especially price sensitive. People who cut their soda drinking from a gallon a week to merely three-quarters of a gallon ­ that's still 96 ounces, more than twice the consumption level of the late 1970s ­ would be spending no more on soda than they are now.

I suspect that some Washington Council members, in the face of opposition from the soda makers and distributors, may be tempted to support a weakened version of the tax. One option would simply be to extend the normal 6 percent sales tax to sweetened beverages. Like food, they are currently exempt.

But here's the problem with that idea: small tax changes don't always change behavior, as a recent study by the RAND Corporation found. So a small soda tax could actually have a worse impact on some families' budgets than a substantial one ­ by raising the price of soda without affecting consumption. No wonder the American Heart Association supports the penny-per-ounce proposal.

Such a tax would certainly raise the cost of living for some heavy soda drinkers, just as cigarette taxes have stretched the budgets of some smokers and mandatory seat belts have added costs to car production. But consider the benefits from those other public health initiatives. They have vastly outweighed the costs.

Someday, we will probably look back on our gallon-a-week soda habit the way we now look back on allowing children to ride without seat belts or listening to doctors who endorsed Camel cigarettes. We will wonder what we were thinking.

Coke and Pepsi, unfortunately, seem willing to do whatever it takes to delay that day.


A version of this article appeared in print on May 19, 2010, on page B1 of the New York edition.

Fwd: Behind the Arizona Immigration Law: GOP Game to Swipe the November Election ANS

Subject: Behind the Arizona Immigration Law: GOP Game to Swipe the
  November Election ANS

Here is Greg Palast's idea on what the Arizona immigration law is really about. 
Find it, and much discussion, here:


Behind the Arizona Immigration Law:
GOP Game to Swipe the November Election

Monday, April 26, 2010


Our investigation in Arizona discovered the real intent of the show-me-your-papers law.

by Greg Palast for

[Phoenix, AZ.] Don't be fooled. The way the media plays the story, it was a wave of racist, anti-immigrant hysteria that moved Arizona Republicans to pass a sick little law, signed last week, requiring every person in the state to carry papers proving they are US citizens.

I don't buy it. Anti-Hispanic hysteria has always been as much a part of Arizona as the Saguaro cactus and excessive air-conditioning.

What's new here is not the politicians' fear of a xenophobic "Teabag" uprising.

What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote -- and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.

In 2008, working for Rolling Stone with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters ... directed by one Jan Brewer.

Brewer, then Secretary of State, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer's command, no less than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanics, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.

That statistic caught my attention. Voting or registering to vote if you're not a citizen is a felony, a big-time jail-time crime. And arresting such criminal voters is easy: after all, they give their names and addresses.
[]  Reporter Palast in guard tower over Joe Arpaio's jail, Maricopa County, Arizona

So I asked Brewer's office, had she busted a single one of these thousands of allegedly illegal voters? Did she turn over even one name to the feds for prosecution?

No, not one.

Which raises the question: were these disenfranchised voters the criminal, non-citizens Brewer tagged them, or just not-quite-white voters given the José Crow treatment, entrapped in document-chase trickery?

The answer was provided by a federal prosecutor who was sent on a crazy hunt all over the Western mesas looking for these illegal voters. "We took over 100 complaints, we investigated for almost 2 years, I didn't find one prosecutable voter fraud case."

This prosecutor, David Iglesias, is a prosecutor no more. When he refused to fabricate charges of illegal voting among immigrants, his firing was personally ordered by the President of the United States, George W. Bush, under orders from his boss, Karl Rove.

Iglesias' jurisdiction was next door, in New Mexico, but he told me that Rove and the Republican chieftains were working nationwide to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria with public busts of illegal voters, even though there were none.

"They wanted some splashy pre-election indictments," Iglesias told me. The former prosecutor, himself a Republican, paid the price when he stood up to this vicious attack on citizenship.

But Secretary of State Brewer followed the Rove plan to a T. The weapon she used to slice the Arizona voter rolls was a 2004 law, known as "Prop 200," which required proof of citizenship to register. It is important to see the Republicans' latest legislative horror show, sanctioning cops to stop residents and prove citizenship, as just one more step in the party's desperate plan to impede Mexican-Americans from marching to the ballot box.

[By the way, no one elected Brewer. Weirdly, Barack Obama placed her in office last year when, for reasons known only to the Devil and Rahm Emanuel, the President appointed Arizona's Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano to his cabinet, which automatically moved Republican Brewer into the Governor's office.]

State Senator Russell Pearce, the Republican sponsor of the latest ID law, gave away his real intent, blocking the vote, when he said, "There is a massive effort under way to register illegal aliens in this country."

How many? Pearce's PR flak told me, five million. All Democrats, too. Again, I asked Pearce's office to give me their the names and addresses from their phony registration forms. I'd happily make a citizens arrest of each one, on camera. Pearce didn't have five million names. He didn't have five. He didn't have one.

The horde of five million voters who swam the Rio Grande just to vote for Obama was calculated on a Republican website extrapolating from the number of Mexicans in a border town who refused jury service because they were not citizens. Not one, in fact, had registered to vote: they had registered to drive. They had obtained licenses as required by the law.

The illegal voters, "wetback" welfare moms, and alien job thieves are just GOP website wet-dreams, but their mythic PR power helps the party's electoral hacks chop away at voter rolls and civil rights with little more than a whimper from the Democrats.

Indeed, one reason, I discovered, that some Democrats are silent is that they are in on the game themselves. In New Mexico, Democratic Party bosses tossed away ballots of Pueblo Indians to cut native influence in party primaries.

But what's wrong with requiring folks to prove they're American if the want to vote and live in America? The answer: because the vast majority of perfectly legal voters and residents who lack ID sufficient for Ms. Brewer and Mr. Pearce are citizens of color, citizens of poverty.

According to a study by prof. Matt Barreto, of Washington State University, minority citizens are half as likely as whites to have the government ID. The numbers are dreadfully worse when income is factored in.

Just outside Phoenix, without Brewer's or Pearce's help, I did locate one of these evil un-American voters, that is, someone who could not prove her citizenship: 100-year-old Shirley Preiss. Her US birth certificate was nowhere to be found as it never existed.

In Phoenix, I stopped in at the Maricopa County prison where Sheriff Joe Arpaio houses the captives of his campaign to stop illegal immigration. Arpaio, who under the new Arizona law, will be empowered to choose his targets for citizenship testing, is already facing federal indictment for his racially-charged and legally suspect methods.

I admit, I was a little nervous, passing through the iron doors with a big sign, "NOTICE: ILLEGAL ALIENS ARE PROHIBITED FROM VISITING ANYONE IN THIS JAIL." I mean, Grandma Palast snuck into the USA via Windsor, Canada. We Palasts are illegal as they come, but Arpaio's sophisticated deportee-sniffer didn't stop this white boy from entering his sanctum.

But that's the point, isn't it? Not to stop non-citizens from entering Arizona -- after all, who else would care for the country club lawn? -- but to harass folks of the wrong color: Democratic blue.

Greg Palast has investigated the illegal disenfranchisement of voters for BBC Television, Rolling Stone (with Robert Kennedy Jr.), Harper's, The Nation and Palast co-authored the investigative comic book, "Steal Back Your Vote" with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., available in full color print or for download at for a donation to the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund.

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GOP Game to Swipe the November Election

Fwd: New Rule: Let's Not Fire the Teachers When Students Don't Learn -- Let's Fire the Parents ANS

Subject: New Rule: Let's Not Fire the Teachers When Students Don't
  Learn -- Let's Fire the Parents  ANS

This is another article from Brad Hicks' list.  It's Bill Maher though.  More sarcasm than info, but why are people firing teachers when there are so many other factors involved in school failure?
Find it here:


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Bill Maher  

Bill Maher

Host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher"
Posted: March 12, 2010 06:44 PM
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New Rule: Let's Not Fire the Teachers When Students Don't Learn -- Let's Fire the Parents

New Rule: Let's not fire the teachers when students don't learn - let's fire the parents. Last week President Obama defended the firing of every single teacher in a struggling high school in a poor Rhode Island neighborhood. And the kids were outraged. They said, "Why blame our teachers?" and "Who's President Obama?" I think it was Whitney Houston who said, "I believe that children are our future - teach them well and let them lead the way." And that's the last sound piece of educational advice this country has gotten - from a crack head in the '80s.

Yes, America has found its new boogeyman to blame for our crumbling educational system. It's just too easy to blame the teachers, what with their cushy teachers' lounges, their fat-cat salaries, and their absolute authority in deciding who gets a hall pass. We all remember high school - canning the entire faculty is a nationwide revenge fantasy. Take that, Mrs. Crabtree! And guess what? We're chewing gum and no, we didn't bring enough for everybody.

But isn't it convenient that once again it turns out that the problem isn't us, and the fix is something that doesn't require us to change our behavior or spend any money. It's so simple: Fire the bad teachers, hire good ones from some undisclosed location, and hey, while we're at it let's cut taxes more. It's the kind of comprehensive educational solution that could only come from a completely ignorant people.

Firing all the teachers may feel good - we're Americans, kicking people when they're down is what we do - but it's not really their fault. Now, undeniably, there are some bad teachers out there. They don't know the material, they don't make things interesting, they have sex with the same kid every day instead of spreading the love around... But every school has crappy teachers. Yale has crappy teachers - they must, they gave us George Bush.

According to all the studies, it doesn't matter what teachers do. Although everyone appreciates foreplay. What matters is what parents do. The number one predictor of a child's academic success is parental involvement. It doesn't even matter if your kid goes to private or public school. So save the twenty grand a year and treat yourself to a nice vacation away from the little bastards.

It's also been proven that just having books in the house makes a huge difference in a child's development. If your home is adorned with nothing but Hummel dolls, DVDs, and bleeding Jesuses, congratulations, you've just given your children the gift of Duh. Sarah Palin said recently she wrote on her hand because her father used to do it. I rest my case.

When there are no books in the house, and there are no parents in the house, you know who raises the kids? That's right, the television. Kids aren't keeping up with their studies; they're keeping up with the Kardashians. We're allowing the television, as babysitter, to turn us into a nation of slutty idiots. By the way, one sign your 9-year-old may be watching too much One Tree Hill: if she has an imaginary friend with benefits.

Follow Bill Maher on Twitter: Related News On Huffington Post:
[]   Rhode Island Teachers FIRED: Central Falls High School Officially Fires All Teachers
Seventy-four Rhode Island teachers have been fired from Central Falls High School, as well as 19 staff members, including the principal, USA Today reports. The...

Fwd: Indredible! How can they be so stupid? ANS Bullitin

>Subject: Fwd: Indredible! How can they be so stupid? ANS Bullitin
>Hi -- Joyce sent this to me. It's from the AP wire I believe. They
>are now going to drill for oil in the Arctic. They ignored what is
>going on in the Gulf.
>I've heard that if they don't contain this BP spill, it will kill
>all life on Earth eventually. Maybe they just want to make enough
>money to buy their way into heaven before we all die....
>>ANCHORAGE AP, Alaska - A federal appeals court Thursday removed a
>>legal challenge standing in the way of Shell Oil's plans to drill
>>wells off Alaska's shore this summer.
>>A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
>>rejected a case that challenged federal approval of Shell's
>>exploratory drilling plans in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.
>>The expedited ruling followed oral arguments last week in Portland, Ore.
>>The court determined that the federal Minerals Management Service
>>met its obligations to consider the potential threat to wildlife
>>and the risk for disaster before it approved Shell's Arctic Ocean project.
>>Shell Oil, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, hopes to drill three
>>exploratory wells in the Chukchi and two in the Beaufort this
>>summer with a 514-foot drilling ship, the Frontier Discoverer.
>>Chris Krenz, Arctic project manager for Oceana, one of the
>>plaintiffs, said the decision was disappointing in light of the
>>ongoing BP crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
>>"Oil companies have tapped the easy oil off of our coasts," he
>>said. "They are now pushing the limits and increasing the risk by
>>heading to the deep water of the gulf and the remote and unforgiving Arctic."
>>He said BP was not ready to deal with an oil spill tragedy in the
>>gulf, and "Shell will have far fewer resources to contain and
>>address an accident in the Arctic."
>>Pete Slaiby, Shell Alaska vice president, said the decision again
>>demonstrates that Shell has submitted robust, safe plans for
>>exploration in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. He said Shell faces
>>several other hurdles before it can drill.
>>"In light of the recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we are working
>>hard to identify additional measures that could be incorporated
>>into the program to make it even stronger," he said in an e-mail.
>>"That said, this decision is a very large step in the right direction for us."
>>The case merged three lawsuits brought by environmentalists and
>>Native Alaskan groups challenging the Minerals Management Service's
>>environmental review of Shell's exploratory drilling plan.
>>The concerns included drilling's effect on endangered bowhead
>>whales, such as a possible interruption of feeding patterns, and
>>whether Shell had made adequate plans to deal with an emergency,
>>such as a major spill.
>>Kathleen Sullivan, an attorney for Shell, argued last week that the
>>company had spent at least $3.5 billion on Alaska operations and
>>had waited years to recover its investment.
>>Shell's Chukchi exploration plan concluded that a large oil spill,
>>such as a release from a blowout, would be rare. MMS agreed and
>>said the probability of a large spill during exploration was "insignificant."
>>Chief Judge Alex Kozinski and Circuit Judges Carlos Bea and Sandra
>>Segal Ikuta said in a two-paragraph decision that they had
>>carefully reviewed thousands of pages of record. They concluded
>>that in both exploration plans, MMS had met its obligations under
>>the National Environmental Policy Act and the Outer Continental
>>Shelf Lands Act.
>>Krenz said the court did not have the BP incident in front of it
>>for consideration.
>>"The decision is somewhat out of context with that the reality is," he said.

Fwd: Nemitz: Call it class struggle: How politics went too far ANS

Subject: Nemitz: Call it class struggle: How politics went too far  ANS

this is about free speech, and how the Right thinks it should have free speech, but the Left shouldn't.  I got it from Brad Hicks, but he didn't write it. 
Find it here:


May 12

Nemitz: Call it class struggle: How politics went too far

By Bill Nemitz
Staff Writer

Some called it a political convention. But in reality, it was where worlds collided.
click image to enlarge

This poster, "War Has Begun," is part of the decor in teacher Paul Clifford's classroom at King Middle School in Portland.

Late Friday afternoon, as Maine's Republican State Convention fanned out from the Portland Expo to county caucuses at nearby King Middle School, GOP loyalists from Knox County found themselves directed to Classroom 110 – the domain of eighth-grade social studies teacher Paul Clifford.

Now this, in case you haven't heard by now, was no ordinary county delegation.

The insurgent Knox County conservatives, heavily steeped in the Tea Party Movement, would manage by the time the convention was over to replace a run-of-the-mill party platform with a new set of planks imported from, well, another political planet.

It's a place where all of the borders are sealed, global warming is a myth (and a potentially illegal one at that), health care is by no means a right, Austrian economics rule and you will never, ever witness the creation of "a one world government."

It's also a place where, according to Section V, item k, "It is immoral to steal property rightfully earned by one person, and give it to another who has no claim or right to its benefits."

Which brings us back to the worlds colliding – and a more-than-slightly irritated Paul Clifford.

When he went home for the weekend on Friday, one of Clifford's most prized teaching tools – a collage-type poster depicting the history of the U.S. labor movement – was affixed to his classroom door. Clifford uses it each year to teach his students how to incorporate collages into their annual project on Norman Rockwell's historic "Four Freedoms" illustrations.

The poster includes this quote from the labor organizer and one-time presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs: "Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation."

"It's one of my favorite posters," said Clifford. "I've had it sitting there for seven years."

Enter the Knox County Republicans, whose weekend convention coup has attracted national attention as a harbinger of a movement that knows a thing or two about agitation.

Details are sketchy – as they often can be when political passion gives way to apparent criminal activity. But this much we know: When Clifford returned to school Monday morning, his cherished labor poster was gone.

In its place, taped to the same door, was a red-white-and-blue bumper sticker that read, "Working People Vote Republican."

"So I start laughing at first, thinking, 'All right, that's funny,"' said Clifford. "But then I go inside my room thinking the poster will be on my desk – and it isn't. And so now I'm like, 'You know what? This is baloney!"'

It gets worse.

While Clifford used his break time Monday to bang out a few pointed e-mails to GOP leaders asking for help in getting his poster back, King Middle School Principal Mike McCarthy started getting phone calls from rank-and-file Republicans who were upset by what they said they had seen in Clifford's classroom.

They objected to other "freedom" posters produced by kids from past years – one depicts former President George W. Bush with no eyes over the caption "I feel like I can see evil."

They objected to a sticker attached to a filing cabinet in the corner that reads, "People for the American Way – Fight the Right." (Clifford says he didn't put the sticker there – it was on the cabinet when he salvaged it from another classroom.)

They also objected to the contents of a closed cardboard box they found near Clifford's desk. Upon opening it for a look-see, they found copies of the U.S. Constitution printed and donated to the school by (gasp) the American Civil Liberties Union.

McCarthy, who happens to be this year's Maine Middle Level Principal of the Year (for the second time), tried to reason with the one of the anonymous callers.

"What you saw was a snapshot after school of what was up in the room on that day," he noted. "You haven't been privy to all of the different ideas that have been talked about in that classroom."

The caller's reaction?

"She just got more and more agitated," McCarthy said.

That's when McCarthy reminded the caller that a teacher's poster actually had been stolen. Her response, he recalled, was, "Well, it should have been because it shouldn't be in that classroom!"

"Well, that's not how we do business around here," replied McCarthy, by now somewhere between simmer and full boil. "We're more than willing to discuss ideas, but we don't steal."

Contacted on Tuesday at his home in Rockport, Knox County Republican Chairman Bill Chapman said he has no idea who took Clifford's poster.

As for the classroom's decor, Chapman said, "We were wondering just what kind of picture he was painting to the students. (The posters) all, as I saw them, had the same theme behind them, which was very anti-American, anti-free enterprise, anti-religious."

Christie-Lee McNally, executive director of the Maine Republican Party, struck a more apologetic note. While she has no idea who took Clifford's poster, she said, she'll do everything she can to have it returned or replaced.

"That's not something we condone," McNally said. "I apologize for the bad behavior of a few people. It's unfortunate that it happened. It does give us a black eye."

As for the critiques of Clifford's classroom, McNally said, "If my child was in that particular classroom, it might be a different story. But other than that, I don't think it's my place" to call the principal and complain.

Speaking of the children, they got into the act Tuesday after a note from "a Republican" was found in Clifford's classroom. "A Republican was here," it read. "What gives you the right to propagandize impressionable kids?"

Responded eighth-grader Lilly O'Leary, one of several students who sent e-mails to this newspaper decrying the behavior of their weekend guests, "I am not being brainwashed in his class under any circumstances. I am being told that I have the right to my own opinion."

She added, "These people were adults and they were acting very immaturely."

Time will tell whether its dust-up with the Knox County Republicans will land King Middle School back on the national stage – only three years ago, the school's policy on contraception for sexually active students was the buzz of the cable news circuit.

But should the fallout continue, Principal McCarthy just might supplement that Republican platform plank about how it's "immoral to steal property" with a wall hanging of his own.

He's thinking something authoritative. Something weighty. Something that will remind future visitors, in no uncertain terms, to keep their sticky fingers to themselves.

Mused McCarthy, "Maybe we should have the Ten Commandments up there."


Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

Fwd: America's Carbon Addiction: This Is An Intervention ANS

Subject: America's Carbon Addiction: This Is An Intervention ANS

this is another article by Sara Robinson.  It's about energy.  It's time to push the government into doing something about it.  And push ourselves into doing something about it. 
Find it here:

«« The Senate Should Debate "Too Big to Fai...  | Blog Home The Blue Green Alliance: The Clean Ener...  »»

America's Carbon Addiction: This Is An Intervention

Sara Robinson's picture  

By Sara Robinson

May 5, 2010 - 1:23pm ET


George W. Bush -- who knew a thing or two about addiction -- was right about one thing: America is addicted to fossil fuels.

And that addiction is coming to a swift end, one way or another. Gaia, our economy, and our neighbors have all had enough. Look at the headlines. Look at their faces. They mean it: they're staging an intervention.

Denial is no longer an option. Twenty-nine miners are dead in Virginia. A record-breaking flood has put much of Nashville underwater. A volcano of oil in the Gulf of Mexico has taken another eleven lives, and is spewing death into the nation's richest fisheries.

The line of truth that runs through all these recent disasters is thin, bright, and uncompromising. Our insane addiction to carbon-based fuels is literally killing America. It's not abstract. It's not some fate that awaits us in the future if we don't mend our ways. The devastation is happening here and now, shouting at us from every new headline in the papers. It's forcing us to take serious stock of what our addiction has cost us already, and will continue to cost us every day we don't reckon with it.

Some of our best people -- strong and competent soldiers and workers -- are dying, every day, to feed our addiction to coal and oil.

Vast areas of our land and water are being destroyed, every day, to feed our addiction to coal and oil.

An enormous cartel of carbon-based industries has taken over our government, corrupting our democratic processes and raising an army of would-be brownshirts, to feed our addiction to coal and oil.

We have indebted ourselves to the world's worst tyrants and empowered our biggest economic competitors to feed our addiction to coal and oil.

We have put ourselves at the mercy of terrorists to feed our addiction to coal and oil.

We have sold off the greatest democracy in modern times, forfeited our most noble principles, and shredded the most astonishing political document in history to feed our addiction to coal and oil.

We are willfully mutilating the breathtaking beauty of this continent to feed our addiction to coal and oil.

We are killing this exquisite blue planet, creating an ecological genocide that extincts 100 species a day and will in short order put an end to 100,000 years of human civilization, to feed our addiction to coal and oil.

Look, people: we are doing precisely what addicts do. They wantonly, thoughtlessly annihilate their marriages, their children, their finances, their careers, and their communities -- in fact, pretty much everything they touch -- out of their single-minded focus on feeding their addictions. As a nation, we are behaving exactly the same way -- not caring who we hurt or what we destroy, as long as we get to mindlessly suck down our next barrel or carload of the black stuff. In the end, like all addicts, we will also destroy ourselves.

This run of recent news is a massive intervention -- history's way of sitting us down and letting us know, beyond doubt, that the bottom is now coming up fast and hard upon us; and we'd better fracking pay attention, because the party is over. The price of our irresponsibility is suddenly going way, way up -- and that rise is just getting started. Because, increasingly, our enablers are refusing outright to enable, excuse, or support our self-destructive behavior any more.

The only solution left, if we're ready to get real about this, is to take that first, hardest step: admit that we're addicted, and confess that the way we've been is no longer acceptable to us. And we need to do it right now, right here, not next year or in 2020 or when the last fish dies or the last beach is gone. We're the last ones in the world to see what everybody around us already knows, which is that our addiction is out of control. From here, there's only one way this goes -- unless we commit ourselves, right now, to restoring true sanity and balance to our national relationship to energy.

Recovery means we're going to be struggling with the decades of cumulative consequences of our addiction moment by moment, day by day, for a long while. It also means that we're going to have to take our eyes off the barrel, and keep them fixed firmly on the better carbon-free future ahead.

It means a lot of other things, too.

It means we don't replace the Deepwater Horizon with another oil rig, but with an offshore wind or wave generation farm instead.

It means we face the hard reality that oil has always been an insanely dirty, destructive, corrupt business, and nothing we can do will ever change that. Drill, baby, drill cannot help but lead to a lot more spill, baby, spill -- the Sierra Club estimates that Obama's offshore drilling plans will result in one coastal oil spill per year, on average, forever. We can have oil, or we can have fish and beaches and wetlands and a future. But we cannot have both.

It means we don't just get tougher about coal mine safety; we start shutting down the mines. This will be wrenching for the miners; but they've been a dwindling minority for so long that there are already more workers in the US wind generation sector than there are working in the coal industry. That's where the jobs of the future are, and we need to be creating more of them.

It means we amend the tax code to incentivize companies to invest in energy-saving technologies.

It means that we reconsider our obsession with cars and planes, and consider going back to our first love -- trains. (We're not about talking pokey old Amtrak. We're talking about sexy, sleek electric maglev trains that go 300 mph and run in near silence on overhead rails so thin they fit into the center median of an interstate, and cost a tenth of what a subway track does per mile. We're talking about hauling fresh tomatoes from California to New York in a totally carbon-free 10-hour overnight hurry that FedEx will envy. We're talking about becoming the world's next railroad barons as we build them for ourselves; then build them for the world. What's not to love?)

It means we start seriously investigating biochar as a truly effective and viable carbon-capture-and-sequestration technology -- one that also restores our topsoil, reduces our reliance on petroleum-based fertilizers, and improves our watersheds...while also generating carbon-negative energy.

And. most of all, recovering from this addition means we need to commit to taking specific steps, today, that will take us to a different future.

The Five Percent Solution
One very reasonable step might be The Five Percent Solution (the name is a play on a book about Sherlock Holmes' addiction) which climate blogger A Siegel describes here. We simply decide, as a matter of personal, regional, and national policy, to cut our carbon output by 5% a year, every year, until we hit zero. At that rate, we'd be down to about 10% of our current production by 2050, and at zero by 2060. The climate scientists tell us that this should probably be fast enough to keep the planet from parboiling by 2100. The technology to do this much -- and more -- is already well within reach.

Our past history more than proves that we're extremely competent at conservation, once we put our minds to it. Whenever we've committed to energy or water conservation goals in the past -- even when the goals were far more aggressive than a mere 5% -- we've almost always overshot them with room to spare. Time and again, we've discovered that it's really just a matter of making up our minds, and doing it. Once you open yourself up to this kind of change, the opportunities to cut output suddenly appear everywhere you look.

The five percent solution is critical to our emotional and spiritual recovery as well. Like most addictions, ours has been accompanied by industrial-sized quantities of self-loathing. We've been using carbon-fueled consumption to mask and self-medicate for a lot of existential pain. Getting ourselves straight has to include confronting and resolving that pain directly. And that means deciding to do something right for a change, and then seeing that decision all the way through to the end.

There's nothing like this kind of commitment to bring out the best in Americans. Back in 1960, John F. Kennedy committed the United States to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. It's hard to imagine now what an outrageously daring proposal that was in its time. A lot of the technology needed for a moon landing didn't even exist yet (though NASA had a pretty clear idea of what would be involved, and some confidence that the missing inventions could be created within the time frame). The window he gave was impossibly short -- just nine years. And the goal itself was the stuff of science fiction, skirring the very edges of what might be humanly possible.

And yet he also projected supreme confidence that we could do this. We very quickly believed it ourselves; and it fueled a lot of the optimism of the 1960s. The space challenge crystallized a certain vision of American greatness. It made an irrefutable statement about America's technological and intellectual leadership. As we were reminded over and over through the decade that followed, it wasn't just about beating the Russians (though that certainly mattered). It was about showing ourselves and the world exactly what we were made of. We were convinced (probably rightly) that this was the thing that, a thousand years from now, history would remember us for. In the year 3000, we reckoned, children would be taught that "The Americans were one of the greatest nations in history. They were the first humans to go to leave the earth and explore space, starting with the moon."

If that's all they ever knew about us, it would be a legacy we could be proud of.

How the mighty have fallen. That strong, confident sense of our own potential is far behind us. At this late stage, our self-worth has degraded to the point where, like a lot of addicts, we think can only command respect by either buying off or beating the crap out of anybody who dares to cross us. That's an ugly self-image, rooted in an ugly kind of power. It's made us mean and abusive. It's led us to financial and foreign policy ruin. It's made us the world's town drunk -- blustering, bullying, out of control, and scary, unless we're passed out and oblivious, which we often are.

Any real and lasting recovery is going to have to address that deep soul pain. It's going to have to heal the damage, defuse our grandiosity and restore our humility, repair our connections to each other and the world, and get us back to where we can see ourselves as authentically positive contributors to history and the human enterprise again.

Committing to a vision of a carbon-free America, accomplished at a very visible 5% per year for the next 50 years, could go a long way toward restoring our own faith in ourselves. It could revive JFK's old 1960 definition of "American greatness" -- the one that said that we deserved to lead not to the extent to which we could become the biggest bully, but to the extent that we could establish ourselves as the smartest, most creative, most innovative, most democratic people on earth. Climate change is an existential challenge that, well met, can absolutely re-define who we are, both in our own eyes and in the eyes of the rest of the planet.

Stepping up to that five percent challenge in a positive and inspiring way will have some immediate practical and political benefits, too. For one thing, it will put a fast end to the pseudo-populist whining from the right, embarrass resistant corporatists into getting on board, and rally the country around a truly positive and inclusive vision of its own future. For another, it would put progressives, once and for all, on the moral offensive as the guardians of the true American vision.

What -- are you against American greatness? Are you not willing to sacrifice for a stronger, more secure, more independent, more resilient nation? Are you one of those small-minded, stingy whiners who don't believe in your country, and aren't willing to invest in great things?

If so: shame on you. Also: please shut up.

This kind of turnaround is well within the reach of any truly visionary leader. President Obama could do it tomorrow -- and would, if he was willing to live up to even half his promise. It would, absolutely, be his defining JFK moment -- the moment that we foreswore our addictions, reclaimed our national soul, seized this day and our entire future, and put ourselves back on the path to greatness.

We should want the second line in those 3010 history books to read: "Forty years later, the Americans were the foresighted visionaries who led the world off carbon-based fuels and put a stop to global warming, thus saving civilization." Today could easily be the first day of the rest of that marvelous history. But that will only happen if get our heads out of the barrel, reclaim our greatness, and become the country we once were -- and still have it within us to be again.

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Fwd: Red Family, Blue Family (More on this subject) ANS

Subject: Red Family, Blue Family (More on this subject)  ANS

Here's a follow-up article to one I sent out last night.  It includes some criticism of the progressive "blue" model of family, so I thought I should include it for your consideration.  It's pretty short.  It was sent in by one of our readers.
Find it here:


Op-Ed Columnist

Red Family, Blue Family


Published: May 9, 2010

Fifty years ago, American family structures were remarkably uniform. The rich married at roughly the same rate as the poor and middle class. Divorce rates were low for the college educated and high school graduates alike. Out-of-wedlock births, while more common among African-Americans, were rare in almost every region and community.
Skip to next paragraph
Susan Etheridge for The New York Times

That was a long time ago. The intact two-parent family has been in eclipse for decades now: last week, the Pew Research Center reported that in 2008, 41 percent of American births occurred outside of marriage, the highest figure yet recorded. And from divorce rates to teen births, nearly every indicator of family life now varies dramatically by education, race, geography and income.

In a rare convergence, conservatives and liberals basically agree on how this happened. First, the sexual revolution overturned the old order of single-earner households, early marriages, and strong stigmas against divorce and unwed motherhood. In its aftermath, the professional classes found a new equilibrium. Today, couples with college and (especially) graduate degrees tend to cohabit early and marry late, delaying childbirth and raising smaller families than their parents, while enjoying low divorce rates and bearing relatively few children out of wedlock.

For the rest of the country, this comfortable equilibrium remains out of reach. In the underclass (black, white and Hispanic alike), intact families are now an endangered species. For middle America, the ideal of the two-parent family endures, but the reality is much more chaotic: early marriages coexist with frequent divorces, and the out-of-wedlock birth rate keeps inching upward.

When it comes to drawing lessons from this story, though, the agreement between liberals and conservatives ends. The right tends to emphasize what's been lost, arguing that most Americans ­ especially the poor and working-class ­ would benefit from a stronger link between sex, marriage and procreation. The left argues that the revolution just hasn't been completed yet: it's the right-wing backlash against abortion, contraception and sex education that's preventing downscale Americans from attaining the new upper-middle-class stability, and reaping its social and economic benefits.

This is one of the themes of " Red Families v. Blue Families," a provocative new book by two law professors, Naomi Cahn and June Carbone. The authors depict a culturally conservative "red America" that's stuck trying to sustain an outdated social model. By insisting (unrealistically) on chastity before marriage, Cahn and Carbone argue, social conservatives guarantee that their children will get pregnant early and often (see Palin, Bristol), leading to teen childbirth, shotgun marriages and high divorce rates.

This self-defeating cycle could explain why socially conservative states have more family instability than, say, the culturally liberal Northeast. If you're looking for solid marriages, head to Massachusetts, not Alabama.

To Cahn and Carbone's credit, their book is nuanced enough to complicate this liberal-friendly thesis. They acknowledge, for instance, that there are actually multiple "red family" models, from the Mormon West to the Sunbelt suburbs to the rural South.

More important, Cahn and Carbone also acknowledge one of the more polarizing aspects of the "blue family" model. Conservative states may have more teen births and more divorces, but liberal states have many more abortions.

Liberals sometimes argue that their preferred approach to family life reduces the need for abortion. In reality, it may depend on abortion to succeed. The teen pregnancy rate in blue Connecticut, for instance, is roughly identical to the teen pregnancy rate in red Montana. But in Connecticut, those pregnancies are half as likely to be carried to term. Over all, the abortion rate is twice as high in New York as in Texas and three times as high in Massachusetts as in Utah.

So it isn't just contraception that delays childbearing in liberal states, and it isn't just a foolish devotion to abstinence education that leads to teen births and hasty marriages in conservative America. It's also a matter of how plausible an option abortion seems, both morally and practically, depending on who and where you are.

Whether it's attainable for most Americans or not, the "blue family" model clearly works: it leads to marital success and material prosperity, and it's well suited to our mobile, globalized society.

By comparison, the "red family" model can look dysfunctional ­ an uneasy mix of rigor and permissiveness, whose ideals don't always match up with the facts of contemporary life.

But it reflects something else as well: an attempt, however compromised, to navigate post-sexual revolution America without relying on abortion.
Sign in to Recommend Next Article in Opinion (10 of 22) » A version of this article appeared in print on May 10, 2010, on page A23 of the New York edition.

Fwd: The Economics of Killing Workers ANS

Subject: The Economics of Killing Workers   ANS

Here is a short article about why we are seeing so many industrial accidents with worker deaths.  I think it is correct about the reasons. 
I feel the Great Question the current generation must answer is: Is business the tool of humans or are humans the tool of business?Which is more important, people or money?
This article tells you that Big Business, as currently constituted, (that is, with no conscience) firmly comes down on the side of business over humanity, money over people. 
I say that means, if corporations are "people", then they are legally insane people. 
Find this article here:


April 26, 2010, 12:15 AM ET

The Economics of Killing Workers

By Teresa Ghilarducci

Last week a British Petroleum oil rig blew up, killing 11 workers. A Massey Coal Explosion killed 29 miners three weeks ago. Obama eulogized over empty coffins today.

British Petroleum and Massey Coal are in a race for top prize on how to make profits by shaving worker safety. Both Massey and BP work sites were nonunion, and unions usually help corporations lose that prize.

In 2009, four years after a BP explosion in a Texas refinery that killed 15 workers and injured 170, the Occupational Safety and Health administration imposed the largest fine in its history­$87-million on British Petroleum. BP also paid billions in criminal charges and civil claims for the accident: $50-million in criminal fines for violating the Clean Air Act and over 4,000 claims from a $2.1-billion claims fund.

Why does this company still operate in this country? How many more workers does it have to kill?

In my economics classes, I teach the economics of health and safety. The two-minute version has the same conclusion as the two lecture version: If it is cheaper for the company to kill workers than it is to safeguard the workplace so they are not killed, workers will be killed. Unions and hefty government fines would raise the price of killing workers. Both Massey and BP work sites were nonunion. And the rate of unionization in this nation is at a all time low: 7.2 percent.

No other developed nation has a weaker labor movement than the United States and this country kills more workers per year than most.

Even these numbers are suspect. And the United States, unlike other rich countries, does not count fatalities due to occupational disease as a fatality. Seven countries impose safety obligations upon either directors or senior managers of companies­Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Japan, Canada, and Australia­while the United Sates imposes none.

The U.S. Department of Labor classifies on-the-job fatalities as misdemeanors, even if the employer was negligent by willfully failing to follow OSHA safety standards. The maximum civil penalty OSHA can levy for a safety violation is $70,000,  and the maximum prison sentence for a willful violation of a safety standard that leads to a worker's death is six months. Six months.

Check out Fair Warning for direct commentary on corporate health and safety practices.

These workplace fatalities are not accidents of nature; they are caused by the Congress's and the president's failure to regulate and protect workers who attempt to unionize.

Fwd: Do 'Family Values' Weaken Families? ANS

Subject: Do 'Family Values' Weaken Families?  ANS

This is from National Journal Magazine, which I've never heard of.  It was linked to by Brad Hicks.  It sounds right to me; what do you think?
It's about family values and how there are really two basic kinds; one suitable for the past and the other suitable for the present world. 
It continues the stuff about two really different world views between "conservatives" and "progressives". 
find it here:


Click here   advertisement
About National Journal Magazine


Do 'Family Values' Weaken Families?

If you want to find stable two-parent families, bypass Palin country and go to Pelosi territory.

by Jonathan Rauch

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Can it be? One of the oddest paradoxes of modern cultural politics may at last be resolved.

The paradox is this: Cultural conservatives revel in condemning the loose moral values and louche lifestyles of "San Francisco liberals." But if you want to find two-parent families with stable marriages and coddled kids, your best bet is to bypass Sarah Palin country and go to Nancy Pelosi territory: the liberal, bicoastal, predominantly Democratic places that cultural conservatives love to hate.

The country's lowest divorce rate belongs to none other than Massachusetts, the original home of same-sex marriage. Palinites might wish that Massachusetts's enviable marital stability were an anomaly, but it is not. The pattern is robust. States that voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in both 2004 and 2008 boast lower average rates of divorce and teenage childbirth than do states that voted for the Republican in both elections. (That is using family data for 2006 and 2007, the latest available.)

You can do a good job of predicting how a state will vote in national elections by looking at its population's average age at first marriage and childbirth.

Six of the seven states with the lowest divorce rates in 2007, and all seven with the lowest teen birthrates in 2006, voted blue in both elections. Six of the seven states with the highest divorce rates in 2007, and five of the seven with the highest teen birthrates, voted red. It's as if family strictures undermine family structures.

Naomi Cahn and June Carbone -- family law professors at George Washington University and the University of Missouri (Kansas City), respectively -- suggest that the apparent paradox is no paradox at all. Rather, it is the natural consequence of a cultural divide that has opened wide over the past few decades and shows no sign of closing. To define the divide in a sentence: In red America, families form adults; in blue America, adults form families.

Cahn and Carbone's important new book, Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture, from Oxford University Press, is too rich with nuance to be encompassed in a short space. But here is the gist.

For generations, American family life was premised on two facts. First, sex makes babies. Second, low-skilled men, if they apply themselves, can expect to get a job, make a living, and support a family.

Fact 1 gave rise to a strong linkage between sexual activity, marriage, and procreation. It was (and still is) difficult for teenagers and young adults to abstain from sex, so one important norm was not to have sex before marriage. If you did have premarital sex and conceived a child, you had to marry.

Under those rules, families formed early, whether by choice or at the point of a shotgun. That was all right, however, because (Fact 2) the man could get a job and support the family, so the woman could probably stay home and raise the kids. Neither member of the couple had to have an extended education in order to succeed as spouse or parent.

True, young people often make poor marital choices. But that, too, was usually all right, at least from society's point of view, because divorce was stigmatized and fairly hard to get. Even a flawed marriage was likely to be a stable one. Over time, the spouses would grow into their responsibilities.

That is what "families form adults" means. Many teenagers and young adults formed families before they reached maturity and then came to maturity precisely by shouldering family responsibilities. Immature choices and what were once euphemistically called "accidents" were a fact of life, but the unity of sex, marriage, and procreation, combined with the pressure not to divorce, turned childish errors into adult vocations.

But then along come two game-changers: the global information economy and the birth-control revolution. The postindustrial economy puts a premium on skill and cognitive ability. A high school education or less no longer offers very good prospects. Blue-collar wages fall, so a factory job no longer cuts it -- if, that is, you can even find a factory job.

Meanwhile, birth control separates decisions about sex from decisions about parenthood, and the advent of effective female contraception lets men shift the moral responsibility for pregnancy to women, eroding the shotgun marriage. Divorce becomes easy to obtain and sheds its stigma. Women stream into the workforce and become more economically independent -- a good thing, but with the side effect of contributing to a much higher divorce rate.

In this very different world, early family formation is often a calamity. It short-circuits skill acquisition by knocking one or both parents out of school. It carries a high penalty for immature marital judgment in the form of likely divorce. It leaves many young mothers, now bearing both the children and the cultural responsibility for pregnancy, without the option of ever marrying at all.

New norms arise for this environment, norms geared to prevent premature family formation. The new paradigm prizes responsible childbearing and child-rearing far above the traditional linkage of sex, marriage, and procreation. Instead of emphasizing abstinence until marriage, it enjoins: Don't form a family until after you have finished your education and are equipped for responsibility. In other words, adults form families. Family life marks the end of the transition to adulthood, not the beginning.

Red America still prefers the traditional model. In 2008, when news emerged that the 17-year-old daughter of the Republican vice presidential nominee was pregnant, traditionalists were reassured rather than outraged, because Bristol Palin followed the time-honored rules by announcing she would marry the father. They were kids, to be sure, but they would form a family and grow up together, as so many before them had done. Blue America, by contrast, was censorious. Bristol had committed the unforgivable sin of starting a family too young. If red and blue America seemed to be talking past one another about family values, it's because they were.

When you understand all of that, you also understand why you can do a good job of predicting how a state will vote in national elections by looking at its population's average age at first marriage and childbirth. In 2007, for example, the states with the lowest median age at marriage in 2007 were all red (Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Utah). The states with the highest first-marriage age were all blue (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island). The same pattern holds for age at first childbirth. Massachusetts is highest (about 28 years old), Mississippi lowest (about 23 years old).

A further twist makes the story more interesting, and more sobering. Cahn and Carbone find an asymmetry. Blue norms are well adapted to the Information Age. They encourage late family formation and advanced education. They produce prosperous parents with graduate degrees, low divorce rates, and one or two over-protected children.

Red norms, on the other hand, create a quandary. They shun abortion (which is blue America's ultimate weapon against premature parenthood) and emphasize abstinence over contraception. But deferring sex in today's cultural environment, with its wide acceptance of premarital sex, is hard. Deferring sex and marriage until you get a college or graduate degree -- until age 23 or 25 or beyond -- is harder still. "Even the most devout overwhelmingly do not abstain until marriage," Cahn and Carbone write.

In any case, for a lot of people, a graduate education or even a bachelor's degree is unrealistic. The injunction to delay family formation until you are 24 and finish your master's offers these people only cold comfort.

The result of this red quandary, Cahn and Carbone argue, is a self-defeating backlash. Moral traditionalism fails to prevent premarital sex and early childbirth. Births precipitate more early marriages and unwed parenthood. That, in turn, increases family breakdown while reducing education and earnings.

"The consequential sense of failure increases the demands to constrain the popular culture -- and blue family practices such as contraception and abortion -- that undermines parental efforts to instill the right moral values in children," Cahn and Carbone say. "More sex prompts more sermons and more emphasis on abstinence." The cycle repeats. Culturally, economically, and politically, blue and red families drift further apart as their fortunes diverge.

Whether Cahn and Carbone are right will take time and subsequent scholarship to learn; but their story is both plausible and sobering. Plausible, because it brings so many aspects of the culture wars into sharper focus. Sobering, because the economic and cultural forces battering traditional family norms show no signs of abating -- but the new, education-centered pathway to adulthood is often least accessible to those who need it most.

Fwd: Toyota Targets $50,000 Price for First Hydrogen Car ANS

Subject: Toyota Targets $50,000 Price for First Hydrogen Car ANS

This is the latest news on hydrogen cars.  It's from Bloomsberg Businessweek.  I got it from Google.  Find it here:



Toyota Targets $50,000 Price for First Hydrogen Car (Update2)

May 06, 2010, 4:14 PM EDT

More From Businessweek

  • GM Says No Plan to Abandon Hydrogen as It Readies Plug-In Volt
  • GM to Maintain Hydrogen Push as Plug-In Volt Readied for Sale
  • Toyota Leads Increase in Japan?s April Vehicle Sales (Update1)
  • NEC to Spend $542 Million Raising Lithium-Ion Output (Update1)
  • Lieberman Bill Strips Terror Suspects of Citizenship (Update2)

(Updates with closing ADR price in seventh paragraph.)

By Alan Ohnsman

May 6 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp., the biggest seller of hybrid cars, said it has cut the cost of making fuel-cell vehicles by about 90 percent since the mid-2000s and may be able to price its first retail hydrogen model at about $50,000.

The first model will be a sedan with driving range equal to a gasoline-powered car, �with some extra cost,� Yoshihiko Masuda, Toyota�s managing director for advanced autos, said in an interview. The Japanese carmaker has cut production costs to about one-tenth of earlier estimates that ran as high as $1 million a car and would need to reduce current expenses by about half before starting retail sales, he said.

�Our target is, we don�t lose money with introduction of the vehicle,� Masuda said in Torrance, California, where Toyota�s U.S. sales unit is based. �Production cost should be covered within the price of the vehicle.�

Hydrogen cars that don�t sell at a loss may boost support for the technology, which has lagged behind electric cars in U.S. research funding amid criticism it�s too expensive. Toyota, General Motors Co., Honda Motor Co., Daimler AG and Hyundai Motor Co. have all said they will be ready to sell fuel-cell vehicles to retail customers by about 2015.

Toyota plans to sell an �affordable� model in the U.S. and elsewhere, the Toyota City, Japan-based company has said, without providing details. Were the carmaker to set a U.S. price at about $50,000, the market for the vehicles would be �small, but with some support,� Masuda said, without elaborating.

Potential Advantage

�On a cost basis per car, range and performance, fuel-cell vehicles can have an advantage over battery vehicles,� said Jay Whitacre, a professor of materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. �On a system basis, infrastructure, battery cars win.�

Toyota�s American depositary receipts fell 64 cents to $75.13 at 4:07 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have declined 11 percent this year.

Masuda declined to discuss Toyota�s sales volume goal for the car.

California, Japan, Germany and South Korea are promoting fuel-cell vehicles to help curb greenhouse gasses, as the only exhaust from the cars is water vapor. Fuel cells, layers of plastic film coated with platinum sandwiched between metal plates, make electricity in a chemical process combining hydrogen and oxygen.

Less Platinum

Toyota cut expenses to make the vehicles by reducing platinum use to about one-third the previous level and finding cheaper ways to produce the thin film used in the fuel cells and the carbon-fiber hydrogen fuel tanks, Masuda said yesterday at a conference in Long Beach, California, held by the National Hydrogen Association, a trade group that lobbies for the fuel.

Toyota and GM now use about 30 grams (1.06 ounces) of platinum per fuel-cell vehicle and aim to reduce it to about 10 grams, according to Masuda and Charles Freese, GM�s executive director of global powertrain engineering. Platinum futures for July delivery rose $25.90, or 1.6 percent, to $1,675.60 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Shifting from low-volume assembly to mass-scale production would lead to further cost reductions, he said.

Hydrogen vehicles are typically larger and offer greater range and faster fueling than battery models. A lack of fuel stations, high production costs and limited durability have slowed their introduction beyond test fleets.

Honda, GM

Honda has leased FCX Clarity fuel-cell sedans to 19 Los Angeles-area retail customers since 2008 and GM has more than 100 fuel-cell-powered Equinox sport-utility vehicles that it loans to individuals and fleets.

�Our target is at least 100,000 miles, 10 years� of use for each vehicle, Toyota�s Masuda said.

The U.S. Energy Department gave out more than $10 billion in low-cost loans and grants for advanced battery and electric- car production in 2009, while cutting hydrogen funds to $68 million. Congress later raised the amount for hydrogen research to about $190 million.

�Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and we can have it forever,� California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said at the conference in Long Beach. �We need to wake up the federal government.�

An initial goal for the start of retail sales is to have at least 40 hydrogen fuel stations in Southern California, or four times the current number, GM�s Freese said in Long Beach. That would be enough to accommodate as many as 15 million drivers in the region, he said.

--With assistance from Pham-Duy Nguyen. Editors: Terje Langeland, Chana Schoenberger, John Lear

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Ohnsman in Los Angeles at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kae Inoue at

Fwd: Fears for Crops as Shock Figures From America Show Scale of Bee Catastrophe ANS

Subject: Fears for Crops as Shock Figures From America Show Scale of
  Bee Catastrophe  ANS

This is an article about what's happening to honeybees, and at the end there is a list of some crops that need honeybees to pollinate them.  We would lose a tremendous amount if there were no honeybees.  And they still don't know for sure what's causing the die-off, and the English government is still denying it. 
One of our readers linked to this on Facebook, but you can see it's from The Observer. 

Published on Sunday, May 2, 2010 by The Observer/UK

Fears for Crops as Shock Figures From America Show Scale of Bee Catastrophe

The world may be on the brink of biological disaster after news that a third of US bee colonies did not survive the winter

by Alison Benjamin

Disturbing evidence that honeybees are in terminal decline has emerged from the United States where, for the fourth year in a row, more than a third of colonies have failed to survive the winter.

[Bernard Vallat, the World Organisation for  Animal Health's dBernard Vallat, the World Organisation for Animal Health's director-general, warned: "Bees contribute to global food security, and their extinction would represent a terrible biological disaster." (photo by Flickr user Steve Punter)
The decline of the country's estimated 2.4 million beehives began in 2006, when a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD) led to the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of colonies. Since then more than three million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died and scientists are no nearer to knowing what is causing the catastrophic fall in numbers.

The number of managed honeybee colonies in the US fell by 33.8% last winter, according to the annual survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the US government's Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, which means that bees contribute some £26bn to the global economy.

Potential causes range from parasites, such as the bloodsucking varroa mite, to viral and bacterial infections, pesticides and poor nutrition stemming from intensive farming methods. The disappearance of so many colonies has also been dubbed "Mary Celeste syndrome" due to the absence of dead bees in many of the empty hives.

US scientists have found 121 different pesticides in samples of bees, wax and pollen, lending credence to the notion that pesticides are a key problem. "We believe that some subtle interactions between nutrition, pesticide exposure and other stressors are converging to kill colonies," said Jeffery Pettis, of the ARS's bee research laboratory.

A global review of honeybee deaths by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) reported last week that there was no one single cause, but pointed the finger at the "irresponsible use" of pesticides that may damage bee health and make them more susceptible to diseases. Bernard Vallat, the OIE's director-general, warned: "Bees contribute to global food security, and their extinction would represent a terrible biological disaster."

Dave Hackenberg of Hackenberg Apiaries, the Pennsylvania-based commercial beekeeper who first raised the alarm about CCD, said that last year had been the worst yet for bee losses, with 62% of his 2,600 hives dying between May 2009 and April 2010. "It's getting worse," he said. "The AIA survey doesn't give you the full picture because it is only measuring losses through the winter. In the summer the bees are exposed to lots of pesticides. Farmers mix them together and no one has any idea what the effects might be."

Pettis agreed that losses in some commercial operations are running at 50% or greater. "Continued losses of this magnitude are not economically sustainable for commercial beekeepers," he said, adding that a solution may be years away. "Look at Aids, they have billions in research dollars and a causative agent and still no cure. Research takes time and beehives are complex organisms."

In the UK it is still too early to judge how Britain's estimated 250,000 honeybee colonies have fared during the long winter. Tim Lovett, president of the British Beekeepers' Association, said: "Anecdotally, it is hugely variable. There are reports of some beekeepers losing almost a third of their hives and others losing none." Results from a survey of the association's 15,000 members are expected this month.

John Chapple, chairman of the London Beekeepers' Association, put losses among his 150 members at between a fifth and a quarter. Eight of his 36 hives across the capital did not survive. "There are still a lot of mysterious disappearances," he said. "We are no nearer to knowing what is causing them."

Bee farmers in Scotland have reported losses on the American scale for the past three years. Andrew Scarlett, a Perthshire-based bee farmer and honey packer, lost 80% of his 1,200 hives this winter. But he attributed the massive decline to a virulent bacterial infection that quickly spread because of a lack of bee inspectors, coupled with sustained poor weather that prevented honeybees from building up sufficient pollen and nectar stores.

The government's National Bee Unit has always denied the existence of CCD in Britain, despite honeybee losses of 20% during the winter of 2008-09 and close to a third the previous year. It attributes the demise to the varroa mite – which is found in almost every UK hive – and rainy summers that stop bees foraging for food.

In a hard-hitting report last year, the National Audit Office suggested that amateur beekeepers who failed to spot diseases in bees were a threat to honeybees' survival and called for the National Bee Unit to carry out more inspections and train more beekeepers. Last summer MPs on the influential cross-party public accounts committee called on the government to fund more research into what it called the "alarming" decline of honeybees.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has contributed £2.5m towards a £10m fund for research on pollinators. The public accounts committee has called for a significant proportion of this funding to be "ring-fenced" for honeybees. Decisions on which research projects to back are expected this month.


Flowering plants require insects for pollination. The most effective is the honeybee, which pollinates 90 commercial crops worldwide. As well as most fruits and vegetables – including apples, oranges, strawberries, onions and carrots – they pollinate nuts, sunflowers and oil-seed rape. Coffee, soya beans, clovers – like alfafa, which is used for cattle feed – and even cotton are all dependent on honeybee pollination to increase yields.

In the UK alone, honeybee pollination is valued at £200m. Mankind has been managing and transporting bees for centuries to pollinate food and produce honey, nature's natural sweetener and antiseptic. Their extinction would mean not only a colourless, meatless diet of cereals and rice, and cottonless clothes, but a landscape without orchards, allotments and meadows of wildflowers – and the collapse of the food chain that sustains wild birds and animals.
© Guardian News and Media Limited 2010

Fwd: The latest on electric cars ANS

Subject: The latest on electric cars   ANS

Here are a couple of articles about what's happening in the world of electric cars. 

from Sunpluggers:

Fisker Automotive Ready to Roll Out Plug-In Karma on Cross-Continent Tour

Submitted by admin on Fri, 04/16/2010 - 23:39
The Fisker four-door Karma and the
company's convertible "Sunset" model.

Published April 16, 2010

Fisker Automotive, a California-based startup company that will manufacture plug-in hybrid electric cars, is setting up a cross-continent tour to introduce its Karma model.

The wheels of the Karma will be driven by electric motors, but the car will include a gasoline engine to charge the battery pack when its power runs low. The car is expected to have an all-electric range of about 50 miles. The total range, with the engine charging the battery pack, is expected to be about 300 miles before the car would need more gas or an electric charge.

The four-door version of the Karma, which is being marketed as a luxury car, is priced at $87,900. After a federal tax credit of $7,500 is considered, the price is $80,400. The company is accepting orders now and expects to begin making deliveries toward the end of 2010.

The car will come in a four-door version that seats four, and later as a two-door convertible. The price of the convertible has not yet been released. Deliveries of this model are not expected to begin until late 2011.

The Karma will contain a 23-kilowatt-hour battery pack and will have power output equivalent to about 400 horsepower. For comparison, the Chevrolet Volt battery pack will have a capacity of 16 kwh and the all-electric Nissan Leaf's battery capacity will be about 24 kwh.

The Karma is expected to have fast acceleration, from zero to 60 mph in 6 seconds.

In September 2009 Fisker Automotive was approved for a conditional U.S. Department of Energy loan of $528.7 million, which will go toward the development of a line of lower-priced plug-in hybrids as well as the purchase of a former General Motors assembly plant in Wilmington, Del. The company expects to create up to 5,000 direct and indirect U.S. jobs in the coming years.

fisker hq  
Fisker's headquarters in Irvine, Calif.

�This tour provides local retailers the opportunity to introduce the beautifully styled and environmentally friendly Karma to their customers and potential prospects,� said Marti Eulberg, vice president of global sales and marketing at Fisker Automotive, in a news release. �Fisker Automotive has established a network of proven retailers that will deliver the highest level of customer satisfaction.�

The tour is scheduled to kick off Tuesday, April 27, from the company�s Irvine, Calif.,  headquarters. The two-month tour is expected to stop in 42 cities in 26 states and three Canadian provinces. An intended schedule is published below. Interested consumers should check with local retailers for exact dates and times.

April 27, Irvine, Calif.: Depart Fisker Automotive

April 28, Las Vegas: Gaudin Automotive

May 1, San Antonio: Barrett Holdings

May 3, Austin, Texas: Roger Beasley Highline Group

May 4: Houston: McDavid Auto Group

May 5, Fort Worth: Frank Kent Motor Co.

May 6, Plano, Texas: McDavid Auto Group

May 7, Tulsa, Okla.: Don Thornton Cadillac

May 10, Huntsville, Ala.: Century Automotive Group

May 11, Atlanta: Classic Cadillac

May 13, Tampa Bay, Fla.: Elder Automotive Group

May 14, West Palm Beach, Fla.: Palm Beach Motor Cars

May 15, Miami: Warren Henry Automobiles

May 17, Orlando, Fla.: Fields Auto Group

May 19, Winston Salem, N.C.: Flow Companies

May 20, Greenbelt, Md.: Capitol Cadillac

May 21, Fairfax, Va.: Ted Britt Auto Group

May 22, Wilmington, Del.: Union Park Automotive

May 24, Langhorne, Penn.: H.A. Ott Motor Cars

May 25, Paramus, N.J.: Bergen Jaguar

May 26, Great Neck, N.Y.: Jaguar Great Neck

May 27, Greenwich, Conn.: Miller Motor Cars

May 28, Norwood, Mass.: Jake Kaplan�s Ltd.

June 1, North Olmsted, Ohio: M2 Motors, Inc.

June 2, Grand Blanc, Mich.: Serra Automotive

June 3, Toronto, Ontario: Dilawri Group

June 7, Glencoe, Ill.: Fields Auto Group

June 8, Schaumburg, Ill.: Patrick Dealer Group

June 9, Neenah, Wis.: Bergstrom Corp.

June 10, Minneapolis: Borton Automotive

June 12, St. Louis: Plaza Motor Group

June 15, Denver: Rickenbaugh

June 18, Calgary, Alberta: Dilawri Group

June 21, Centerville, Utah: Hadley Auto Company

June 24, Vancouver, British Columbia: Fields Auto Group

June 25, Bellevue, Wash.: O�Brien Auto Group

June 26, Portland, Ore.: Ron Tonkin Family of Dealerships

June 27, Marin, Calif.: Price Family Dealerships

June 28, Sacramento, Calif.: Price Family Dealerships

June 29, Silicon Valley, Calif.: Price Family Dealerships

June 30, Santa Monica, Calif.: Sullivan Luxury Cars

July 3, Irvine, Calif., Orange: Shelly Automotive Group

July 5, San Diego: Marvin K. Brown Auto Group
[]   ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

from Reuters:

Quirky, 3-wheeled Aptera EV edges closer to launch

Dana Ford
CARLSBAD, California
Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:56am EDT

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CARLSBAD, California (Reuters) - The space-age Aptera might look like something straight out of a futuristic cartoon, but executives at the California start-up behind the electric vehicle say its time is now.

Delivering on that promise might be tough.

The company, which delayed production plans because it could not find financing during the 2009 credit crisis, now says it will start production of the car next year.

The Aptera, which has a 100-mile range per charge and gets some 200 miles per gallon equivalent, has three wheels and looks like a sleek, aerodynamic egg. It's often compared to a vehicle from the futuristic 1960s cartoon "The Jetsons."

The vehicle's structure and feel give the immediate impression it's nothing like the hybrid sedans and electric sports cars being produced by most of the big automakers -- which are planning to roll out electric vehicles of their own in the next two years.

"We still have a little bit of work before we can say that we're fully funded and ready to start production," said Aptera's Chief Executive Paul Wilbur, who unveiled Aptera's latest design in Carlsbad, California, this week.

The company has applied for and is counting on a $184 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. The loan would help to fund Aptera's capital needs for five years, executives said, adding they expect to hear a decision on it soon.

Once funding is secured, Aptera would take about 11 months to start production, Wilbur said.

The company has partnered with several firms to supply parts for the Aptera, including A123 Systems and Wind River, a subsidiary of Intel Corp.

The newest version of the vehicle features roll-down windows, a redesigned suspension, and front and back bumpers. It has a body that rides low to the ground, which makes getting in and out easy, and both front and side airbags.

Aptera's makers say it would meet crash safety standards.


Electric vehicles are widely seen as a key weapon in the fight against climate change, by cutting emissions and helping reduce the need for gasoline.

But the market for them right now is extremely small. Battery electric vehicles are expensive and the charging infrastructure for the cars still needs to be built out.

Aptera would also have to go up against big automakers like Nissan, Ford and General Motors, which are planning to launch electric cars soon. Small players like Tesla Motors already sell them.

Still, Aptera executives say they have the world's most efficient vehicle and aren't worried about their competition.

Demand for electric cars is expected to grow sharply over the next two decades as fuel economy and emissions rules strengthen.

The cost of the vehicle is expected to be between $25,000 and $40,000, depending on features and whether buyers want an electric, hybrid or traditional powertrain.

The car can be recharged by plugging into a regular electric outlet, which Tom Reichenbach, Aptera's chief engineer, said should feel as comfortable and eventually as common as charging a cell phone.

"We think this is going to be America's poster child for efficient vehicles," he said.

(Reporting by Dana Ford; Editing by Poornima Gupta, Phil Berlowitz)