Friday, March 30, 2012

Time to end the war on coal

By Rebekah Rast
Forty-five percent of America’s energy needs are met by a single industry — coal.

And it is this industry that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy and President Obama himself continues to burden with heavy regulations, rules and guidelines.

Though 90 percent of coal consumed in the U.S. is used for electricity, the power is also used for making steel, paper and cement.

As this administration continues to lay burdensome rules on this industry, attempting to push coal out of the energy sector completely, where is America expected to make up for losing almost 50 percent of its electric energy source? Not to mention the other affected industries that are also dependent on coal?

Those questions are likely to remain unanswered as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues writing even more rules and regulations that negatively affect the coal industry.

The latest set of rules stem from concerns reached in 2009.  It was then the EPA decided greenhouse gas pollution poses a huge risk to human health and well being.  Interestingly, these rules to cap carbon emissions on power plants, affect all future power plants — those being built 12 months from now and beyond.
But while the EPA worries about regulating the air of future America, coal power plants will have a big problem complying with these rules.
Get full story here.

Flexible Enough

Permalink here.

A vote of no confidence?

By Robert Romano
What one would have given to be a fly on the wall as the House voted March 29 on the Republican Study Committee (RSC) alternative budget proposal, which ultimately found a majority of the House Republicans voting in favor of ditching the proposal favored by leadership.

By a vote of 136 to 104, Republicans clearly favored the alternate measure proposed by Rep. Scott Garrett and Rep. Jim Jordan over the plan that had been proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan.

The major difference between the two was the RSC would get the budget to balance in five years, whereas the Ryan plan would not do so until 2040. This was after Republicans pledged in 2010 to “put us on a path to balance the budget and pay down the debt.”

Surprisingly, just 49 out of 94 freshmen Republican representatives voted in favor of the RSC plan. GOP veterans actually voted in favor of the proposal at a higher rate than did the freshmen, with 87 in favor and 59 opposed, providing the margin for the RSC’s symbolic victory.

Nonetheless this could be viewed internally — and externally to anyone who cares to pay attention — as a vote of no confidence in the more tepid Ryan approach.
Get full story here.

One Big Question Remains In Trayvon Martin Case: How’s It Affecting Skittles?

by Jon Bershad
Ever since the horrible case of Trayvon Martin’s shooting first broke, it’s been clear that was opening a Pandora’s Box of touchy subjects and hard questions for the nation. Instantly, we were thrown into a veritable field of conversational landmines such as racial profiling, gun control, and police malfeasance. But, now that our calm and collected media figures have totally wrapped all those subjects up cleanly instead of just yelling at each other like idiots (right?), one final question remains; Is Skittles making too much money off a dead child?

As everyone knows, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was gunned down because George Zimmerman thought he looked “suspicious” when, in actuality, he was just carrying Skittles, Arizona Iced Tea, and wearing a hoodie (or, as Geraldo Rivera calls it, “Satan’s Shroud”). As tons of rallies have occurred throughout the country, those calling for Martin to have justice have shown their support by buying tons of iced tea and the fruity candy. Tasting the defiant rainbow, as it were.

It’s a fairly beautiful message; showing solidarity as well as reminding people just how young Martin was when he was taken from this earth. However, when you continuously buy products as a political message, that product’s parent company starts to make a lot of money. And that’s started to make people a little uneasy.

Yesterday, The New York Times brought the question to the forefront in an article entitled “For Skittles, Death Brings Both Profit and Risk,” which, honestly, would be an awesome new slogan for the candy. In it, they point out that the sales of the candy have skyrocketed which has led supporters to ask that Wrigley, the candy’s parent company, give some of the money back to charity.

This has put the company in a bind. Do they risk angering the Martin supporters who are buying tons of their product or do those risk other people who are really mad about the case but are totally not racist and just happen to think that that guy who shot the black kid might not be such a bad dude. Seriously. When President Obama can ignite a national debate just by making the controversial statement that “Hey, a young boy dying is tragic,” it’s clear how ridiculously fraught this subject has become.

Wrigley released a statement about a week ago. Watch them attempt this high wire act:
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Trayvon Martin’s death and express our sincere condolences to his family and friends. We also respect their privacy and feel it inappropriate to get involved or comment further as we would never wish for our actions to be perceived as an attempt of commercial gain following this tragedy.”
Unsurprisingly, that settled little. Things have continued to keep getting worse and worse for Wrigley and Arizona.

These things happen whenever a brand name product becomes a symbol. It’s similar to that time it came out that the Guy Fawkes masks favored by Anonymous protesters were owned by Time Warner. It’s just an unwinnable situation. Supporters don’t want to give up their powerful symbol, one that people have rallied around, but they also don’t want to keep helping some faceless corporation.
The whole thing is pretty ridiculous. After all, it’s fairly amazing that the conversation about a horrible killing has somehow morphed into a conversation about candy sales. Still, it’s much better than when this was all about politics. Sheesh.

Wikileaked: Bin Laden Body Not Buried At Sea

The body of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was not buried at sea, according to leaked emails of intelligence firm Stratfor, as revealed by WikiLeaks.

Stratfor’s vice-president for intelligence, Fred Burton, believes the body was “bound for Dover, [Delaware] on [a] CIA plane” and then “onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda [Maryland],” an email says.

The official version is that the body of Al-Qaeda’s top man, who was killed by a US raid in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, was buried at an undisclosed location at sea in a proper Muslim ceremony.

“If body dumped at sea, which I doubt, the touch is very Adolph Eichman like. The Tribe did the same thing with the Nazi’s ashes,” Burton commented in another email. Eichman was one of the masterminds of the Holocaust by Nazi Germany. He was captured by Mossad agents in Argentina and, tried in Israel, found guilty and executed in 1962. His body was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea over the Mediterranean.
“Eichmann was seen alive for many months on trial before being sentenced to death and executed. No one wanted a monument to him so they cremated him. But i dont know anyone who claimed he wasnt eicjhman [sic]. No comparison with suddenly burying him at sea without any chance to view him which i doubt happened [sic],” Stratfor CEO George Friedman replied.