Archive for the ‘Politico’ Category

U.S. to require 42 mpg for new cars

May 19, 2009

New cars and trucks will have to get 30 percent better mileage starting in 2016 under an Obama administration move to curb emissions, sources said Monday.

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Report: Most Heavily Taxed Nations Are the Happiest

May 19, 2009

Northern Europeans are the happiest people on the planet, according to a new survey.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says people in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands are the most content with their lives. The three ranked first, second and third, respectively, in the OECD’s rankings of “life satisfaction,” or happiness.

There are myriad reasons, of course, for happiness: health, welfare, prosperity, leisure time, strong family, social connections and so on. But there is another common denominator among this group of happy people: taxes.

Northern Europeans pay some of the highest taxes in the world. Danes pay about two-thirds of their income in taxes. Why be so happy about that? It all comes down to what you get in return.

The Encyclopedia of the Nations notes that Denmark was one of the first countries in the world to establish efficient social services with the introduction of relief for the sick, unemployed and aged.

It says social welfare programs include health insurance, health and hospital services, insurance for occupational injuries, unemployment insurance and employment exchange services. There’s also old age and disability pensions, rehabilitation and nursing homes, family welfare subsidies, general public welfare and payments for military accidents. Moreover, maternity benefits are payable up to 52 weeks.

Simply, you pay for what you get. Taxes in the U.S. have taken on a pejorative association because, well, we are never really quite sure of what we get in return for paying them, other than the world’s biggest military.

Follow link for the rest of the story By Thomas Kostigen at Market Watch.

Obama Offers Farmers $50 Million to Go Organic

May 19, 2009

Organic farming just got gubernatorial. The US Department of Agriculture just announced funding for a new organics initiative–and Obama’s going to give $50 million in funding for farmers to make the switch to organic. Farmers will now be able to apply for funds that will aid them in making the transition to organic. And even though $50 million isn’t a whole hell of a lot in the $787 billion stimulus scheme of things, it’s nonetheless a nice boost for the organic industry–here’s how it’ll help.

While the funding itself is a positive move indeed, the publicity and credibility the move lends organic farming are indispensable. The Obamas have already thrown local farming into the limelight with the White House garden, but now it’s official: the government deems organic farming worthy of funding directly. Which is encouraging. The funds will support non-organic farmers as they learn skills like natural nutrient management, crop rotation, and pesticide-free pest control.

However, a few problems with the move remain: first, there’s a fairly tight deadline on the application for funds–May 29th is the cutoff. Not a lot of time for non-organic farmers pondering making the switch to take the plunge. Second, as I said before, $50 million isn’t enough–it’s a nice public pat on the back for the practice, as opposed to throwing some real support behind it. It could also be seen as a move designed to appease those small and organic farmers concerned with some new controversial farming laws.

But, a nice public pat on the back is better than getting ignored, right? And $50 million could go a long ways in getting more farms on the organic track.

For more details, check out the USDA press release

US EPA Clears Most Mountaintop Removal Permits

May 19, 2009

The Obama administration has approved 42 mountaintop removal coal mining permits in the Appalachian Mountains, dashing hopes among many environmentalists that the president would crack down on the destructive and controversial practice. U.S. Rep. Nick J..

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Dept. of Energy Favors Renewables, Cuts Yucca Mountain

May 10, 2009

The Obama administration solidified its plans today to kill the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository while seeking new increases for science and renewable-energy programs in a proposed $26.4 billion Energy Department budget for fiscal 2010.

The total proposal is essentially flat compared to current DOE funding. But that does not include nearly $40 billion showered on the department from the stimulus law for alternative-energy and efficiency initiatives.

The White House’s budget summaries cite $38.7 billion in stimulus cash steered to and through DOE in 2009-2010. DOE has already made several funding announcements and solicitations in areas such as science and biofuels.

Instead of funding Yucca Mountain, the proposed budget would provide almost $197 million for exploring alternatives to the proposed Nevada waste site. All funding for Yucca development would end, the White House says, because President Obama has “made clear that the nation needs a better solution” for disposing high-level nuclear waste.

“Such a solution must be based on sound science and capable of securing broad support, including support from those who live in areas that might be affected by the solution,” the White House said in a document outlining proposed cuts. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is forming a “blue ribbon” commission to weigh nuclear-waste solutions.

The New Rush Limbaugh?

May 10, 2009

Must be a complicated theory that conservatism. Bringing it back old school, how isn’t every ‘bully’ at this kids school giving him swirlies (sp)?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Obama Makes Endangered Species Less Endangered

May 4, 2009

The Obama Administration has revoked a Bush-era rule that allowed government agencies to decide on their own whether a project would harm an endangered plant or animal without consulting the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). President Obama called for a review of the rule last month, and his administration has determined that scientific evidence justified restoring the independent reviews that had previously been conducted by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the NOAA.

“By rolling back this 11th hour regulation, we are ensuring that threatened and endangered species continue to receive the full protection of the law,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department oversees Fish and Wildlife. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, whose department oversees NOAA, added that “our decision affirms the administration’s commitment to using sound science to promote conservation and protect the environment.”

For more than twenty years, federal agencies were required to consult with experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service or the NOAA to ensure that their activities did not harm endangered plants or animals. In the final weeks of his presidency, George W. Bush made the consultations optional. Business and industry groups argue that the consultation process delays projects and increases costs. Environmentalists welcome the change, but say the administration needs to do more to lift a rule that limits the protection of polar bears.

Article here.

Special screening of “Crude” April 29 in San Francisco

April 27, 2009

Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet. An inside look at the infamous $27 billion “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking as it examines a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.

Find out more here.

Oops. Republicans stripped $900 million in pandemic preparedness funds from the stimulus bill.

April 27, 2009

When House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who has long championed investment in pandemic preparation, included roughly $900 million for that purpose in this year’s emergency stimulus bill, he was ridiculed by conservative operatives and congressional Republicans.

Obey and other advocates for the spending argued, correctly, that a pandemic hitting in the midst of an economic downturn could turn a recession into something far worse — with workers ordered to remain in their homes, workplaces shuttered to avoid the spread of disease, transportation systems grinding to a halt and demand for emergency services and public health interventions skyrocketing. Indeed, they suggested, pandemic preparation was essential to any responsible plan for renewing the U.S. economy.

Now, as the World Health Organization says a deadly swine flu outbreak that apparently began in Mexico but has spread to the United States has the potential to develop into a pandemic, Obey’s attempt to secure the money seems eerily prescient.

And his partisan attacks on his efforts seem not just creepy, but dangerous.

The current swine flu outbreak is not a pandemic, and there is reason to hope that it can be contained.

But it has already killed more than 80 people in a neighboring country and sickened dozens of Americans — causing the closing of schools and other public facilities in U.S. cities.

On Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that a national “public health emergency” had been declatred. (Notably, the second question at the White House press conference on the emergency had to do with the potential impact on the economic recovery.)

Dr. Anne Schuchat, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Interim Deputy Director for Science and Public Health Program, explained to reporters on Saturday that, because the cases that have been discovered so far are so widely spread (in California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Texas), the outbreak is already “beyond containment.”

Article here.

The four biggest ‘green’ marketing scams

April 23, 2009

n greenwashing, as in life, there are seven sins. There’s the sin of the hidden trade-off, for example, the sin of vagueness, and the sin of no proof. So says sinsofgreenwashing.org, which takes on companies that offer seemingly green benefits — often at a hefty price tag — with little results. As the green trend continues, companies in almost every industry vie for a piece of the green market, even the embattled General Motors has taken a chance on its own green product initiative.

But as the field of green products grows, so does the number of impostors. The following is a list of some of the most perplexing green products out there-and an assessment of just how scammy they might be:

Clorox “Green Works” products

Gas-saving magnets

Sephora’s “Natural Standards”

“Green” hand sanitizers

Article here.