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|And this is the problem—the corporation, empowered with the rights of a person, does not share any of the responsibilities of a person." - Brian Mahoney |
Good Wednesday Morning,
Google Books. Riveting titles such as "The Right Way To Do Wrong: An Exposé of Successful Criminal" and "Miracle Mongers and their Methods" and you'll certainly not want to miss, "The Unmasking of Robert Houdin".
The United States is poised to spend $167 million on the arts, up from $150 million in the last budget cycle. England, that quasi-European lapdog to the US and cheapskate of the EU, is going to spend $900 million which, if transferred here to the USofA, would be about $4.6 billion. Read more about all this in David Wilson McKay's interview with Rocco Landesman.
Let's say you cannot afford to pay the full amount due on your income taxes by April 15th because of some financial hardship such as loss of employment or you've incurred medical expenses. Fear not! Just fill out IRS Form 1127 and if you qualify you'll get an extension on taxes due until October 15th. But here's the killer: they'll charge you interest. And if you've ever had to pay off the IRS you'll know the interest rates,combined with the penalties and fees they charge makes Shylock look like Santa Claus. So if you can't afford to pay your taxes now they make it even harder for you later. Where were we when Congress let the credit card companies take over the IRS?
Let's say you're planning on attending Tea Party Nation's first convention being held in Tennessee this week, you'd best come prepared with a pocket full of cash since it's going to be expensive.
Registration is $549. (Currently sold out.) If you'd just like to hear Sarah Palin speak at the Big Dinner you're going to have to cough up $349 for the pleasure. Then there's transportation and hotels and meals which could easily raise the total outlay to $1000 or more per person. No one ever said the price of freedom was cheap.
Can someone parse that last part for me, especially that last part. Then there's this dire warning:
An on duty police officer in Atlanta was chatting away on Facebook when Chandler Brown snapped his picture. For his efforts he was arrested and hauled off to jail. When he got his cellphone back... yeah, you know it's coming... the picture was gone. Mr. Brown appeared in court where the judge threw out the case but that hasn't stopped him from filing a formal complaint. Brown said, “I can’t sit on Facebook at work all day and neither can you. Why should someone whose salary is being paid by the taxpayers?” Well, there are different rules and Mr. Brown should know what they are. If he didn't before he sure does now.
Santa Fe, NM police officer David Smoker was caught on video viciously beating a handcuffed 17 year old boy. The city paid out $15,000 in a lawsuit and fired the officer. But the Cuba, NM police department has hired him back on the force. Cuba's police chief said that he wasn't going to judge an officer's record based on one incident but that one incident, especially one of that type, should be enough to disqualify a police officer from employment in that field again. If a teacher beat a student would you expect to see him in the classroom again? Of course not.
There's a new organic drink coming out of the Metro-Atlanta area called kenari (note the lower case "k") produced by Jonathan Hosseini, a civil engineer. The drink is essentially a tea made from herbs grown organically in his backyard in Roswell, Ga, a ritzy, upper class suburb, and is produced in the kitchen of his home and sells for a $3.50 a pint at area health food stores. Yes, $3.50 a pint, four times more expensive than gasoline.
The 'farm' sits on 11 acres though maybe 2 and a little more are generally arable, with a 6 bedroom mansion overlooking a small lake. There, Jonathan lives with his wife and children, his mother and three dogs. Also living there were 4 employees, three of whom were itinerant volunteers with one earning $100 a week plus room and board.
By all accounts the drink is fine and the concept of an urban farm producing a healthful drink is an excellent one. But the flagship operation lost three of its four employees last week and all on the same day. One was fired for not helping out enough in the kitchen, even after his 40 hours were taken into account, and was then given only hours to vacate the premises. Two other employees escaped hours later and are now working on a farm in Texas.
Beginning this past Monday, the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, took a huge step towards civil rights when it inaugurated a place of worship for Wiccan cadets. Admittedly there are few enrolled for whom an earth-centered religion is a personal creed. But a 2004 survey of the 4500 students at the Academy showed a high level of intolerance and harassment towards those not practicing a Christ-based religion. With those findings in hand Superintendent Michael Gould embarked on a campaign to teach the cadets to accept that the world is a complex place and to deal with it. Congratulations to the Air Force Academy.
Dover Plains, New York - Asher Durand
Remember all that complaining about how Senator Leibell was using his State Senate franking privileges for what would appear to any common person to be taxpayer funded political mailings? And remember how we asked y'all to send them back "return to sender"? Well, maybe that worked since my email box is now the recipient of several mailings instead of my snail-mail box. There is a cost savings there and the overt political tone has been muted, if only to a small degree. Whether it was something we've done here or the Senator simply decided to save a few bucks, pat yourselves on the back.
At a gathering last weekend it was suggested that I'm too hard on Senator Leibell. I was told that he's an expert at bringing money back into the district and that few politicians work as hard as he does. His voting record shows that he's a political moderate, if not more than a little aware of where the political winds are blowing. He's a stalwart member of his Party, ready to come to bat for them when he needs them or they need him. And he did step in at the last minute (though only after civil disobedience was promised,) to save Mt. Nimham from being logged off. All of this is true. Overall, as a politician, he's doing just fine.
On the other hand there's his connection with the inability of Albany to function as a government, its lack of accountability and refusal to cut state spending and his 10th seat ranking (out of 62) for Senate expenditures which, during the period between October 2008 and March 2009 was $439,502. (This includes $35,098 for bulk rate mailings.) Fifty-one other Senators ran more cost efficient offices. Actually, out of the 20 top spenders in the state Senate, all but one, Carl Kruger, was a Republican.
And now The News:
NEW YORK—Through the rain-pocked window of his Prius heading east on the Queensboro Bridge, Stuart Gaffin sees a black, watery sea of missed opportunities.
"Look at all those. Another 100,000 square feet!"
Gaffin, a climatologist at Columbia University's Center for Climate Systems Research, is on his way to the Con Edison power plant in Queens's Long Island City neighborhood. His view from the 40-meter-high bridge is bleak, and not just because of the rain.
"Just sitting there," he sighs. "Useless black roofs."
Since 2003 Gaffin has been studying "green" roofs—those covered with vegetation growing on top of a waterproof membrane—and their potential to mitigate urban climate change.
* Every billion dollars spent on public transportation produced 16,419 job-months.
* Every billion dollars spent on projects funded under highway infrastructure programs produced 8,781 job-months.
As Congress and the Administration discuss a possible jobs bill, the implication is clear: shifting available funds toward public transportation will increase the resulting employment.
Two New York Times articles published earlier this month illustrate the highs and lows of land protection right now. One, "Preservation Groups Find Bargains in Housing Bust," described how plummeting real estate prices have provided once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for land-conservation organizations to protect irreplaceable natural treasures once destined for sprawling development. From Idaho to Florida and Virginia to Oregon, groups have preserved fields and forests, marshland and ocean waterfronts that as little as a year ago were slated for massive housing projects. Many of these scenic wonders now will be turned into parks.
That's the high. The low, "New Year but No Relief for Strapped States," noted the challenges many state governments face to rein in skyrocketing deficits. Actually, the earlier article hinted at this dilemma's environmental implications: dedicated funds for protecting land and creating new parks already have been a casualty of fiscal belt-tightening in statehouses from Olympia to Albany – just when they could do the most good. With red ink continuing to rise, even more drastic cuts are likely. There's a trickle-down effect, too. With less state support, county and municipal governments are being forced to slash their own budgets, so land preservation and parks often take another hit on the local level.
“We wanted to alert the public that the lights may be turned on for varying lengths of time over the coming weeks to test them,” said Walkway’s Executive Director Amy Husten. “This signals completion of the overall electrical installation project, which will activate a range of new features on the bridge, including security monitoring equipment and electrical outlets among other things.”
The electrical contract is being carried out by All Bright Electric of West Nyack which installed a specialized LED lighting system along the Walkway’s nearly 1.25-mile southern railing. The lights will illuminate the bridge while conserving electricity and reducing “light pollution,” allowing night time visitors to experience an unobstructed view of the night sky. Additionally, the project included the installation of security cameras that will provide high resolution, recorded video coverage along the entire length of the bridge.
A note from Shea: I'm out of pocket this week working on a project in Iowa and I've asked a few of my green blogger friends to help me out by writing some guest posts. Enjoy this piece from Jaymi Heimbuch from Treehugger. I'll be back in action next week.
I live in San Francisco and have family in Los Angeles. This past weekend was a family event and I wanted to be there. But, being carless, transportation is a bit of a pain to figure out. Do I do a short-haul flight, do I rent a car, do I take the train, do I try to find someone on a ride-share service? Renting a car is not cheaper than flying or taking the train, and I'd have to actually make that very long drive by myself. Yuck. That ruled that out. A flight was a tempting alternative. It only takes about an hour to
fly from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
And there are dozens of flights a day so I would have been able to pick exactly when I wanted to arrive. But ultimately I chose to go for the train ride — the insanely long train ride. From the first bus outside my apartment to the last train outside my sister's apartment, it took 13 hours. All weekend when people asked how long the train ride was and I replied with, "13 hours," jaws would drop, eyes would widen, and the inevitable, "What? That's awful," would follow. But really, the trip was great. In fact, a 13-hour train ride was better than a 1-hour flight. Here are the perks:
This was at the beginning of the Iraq War. Every journalist trying to get into the daily briefings at CENTCOM headquarters in Doha had to go through the machine. This went on every day for weeks so a certain affability built up between scanner and scannee and, eventually, curiosity willed out.
Here then, in a privileged glimpse, I saw the topology of the human condition, every shadow, line, contour. This is who we really are. Not to boast, but I’ve been running four or five miles a day for 25 years and, frankly, thought I was ready for the machine. But nobody is. This is mercilessness of a most brutal kind. We are all, in the eyes of the machine, a portrait by Francis Bacon.
No vanity can survive it. Pride dies. Narcissism melts. Self-love sickens.
Is this, then, the basis of the mounting Republican objections to having full-body scanners in American airports? Privacy is the buzzword. But what actually does that mean? If everyone is similarly exposed, what’s the issue?
Foreclosing the future of our country should not be confused with defending it.
"Unless miraculous growth, or miraculous political compromises, creates some unforeseen change over the next decade, there is virtually no room for new domestic initiatives for Mr. Obama or his successors," The New York Times reported February 2.
It isn't defense to preclude new domestic initiatives for a country that desperately needs them: for health care, jobs, green technologies, carbon reduction, housing, education, nutrition, mass transit ...
"When a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, social programs must inevitably suffer," Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out. "We can talk about guns and butter all we want to, but when the guns are there with all of its emphasis you don't even get good oleo. These are facts of life."
At least Lyndon Johnson had a "war on poverty." For a while anyway, till his war on Vietnam destroyed it.
Since then, waving the white flag at widespread poverty - usually by leaving it unmentioned - has been a political fact of life in Washington.
—Justice Anthony Stevens, from the majority opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
You probably haven’t seen Hillary: The Movie. I haven’t seen it either, though I did watch the trailer. By most accounts, it’s a scurrilous and decidedly unartful piece of cinema. It was released by the conservative nonprofit corporation Citizens United during the 2008 Democratic primaries to smear candidate Clinton. Robert Barnes of the Washington Post describes Hillary this way: “It is a nonstop montage of Clinton’s changing hairdos, interspersed with reports about various scandals during the Clinton White House years, critiques of her performance as a senator from New York and as a Democratic presidential candidate, and withering testimony about her alleged lack of character and honesty.” (Other stirring feature-length productions from Citizens United include ACLU: At War with America, Broken Promises: The UN at 60, HYPE: The Obama Effect, and Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny.)
Rafal Lisak, spokesman for Krakow's district court, said the warrant had been issued today for Anders Högström, a Swede suspected of incitement to commit theft of a cultural treasure.
The sign – German for "work sets you free" – was stolen from the site of the former Auschwitz death camp, in southern Poland, in December. Polish police found it three days later cut into three pieces, and charged five Polish men with its theft.
Lisak gave no further details but Polish prosecutors have previously identified Högström as having planned the theft.
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