31 March 2011

Fox News' Lies Keep Them Out of Canada

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Reader Supported News

As America's middle class battles for its survival on the Wisconsin barricades - against various Koch Oil surrogates and the corporate toadies at Fox News - fans of enlightenment, democracy and justice can take comfort from a significant victory north of the Wisconsin border. Fox News will not be moving into Canada after all! The reason: Canadian regulators announced last week they would reject efforts by Canada's right-wing Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, to repeal a law that forbids lying on broadcast news.

Canada's Radio Act requires that "a licenser may not broadcast ... any false or misleading news." The provision has kept Fox News and right-wing talk radio out of Canada and helped make Canada a model for liberal democracy and freedom. As a result of that law, Canadians enjoy high quality news coverage, including the kind of foreign affairs and investigative journalism that flourished in this country before Ronald Reagan abolished the "Fairness Doctrine" in 1987. Political dialogue in Canada is marked by civility, modesty, honesty, collegiality, and idealism that have pretty much disappeared on the US airwaves. When Stephen Harper moved to abolish the anti-lying provision of the Radio Act, Canadians rose up to oppose him fearing that their tradition of honest non-partisan news would be replaced by the toxic, overtly partisan, biased and dishonest news coverage familiar to American citizens who listen to Fox News and talk radio. Harper's proposal was timed to facilitate the launch of a new right-wing network, "Sun TV News" which Canadians call "Fox News North."

Harper, often referred to as "George W. Bush's Mini Me," is known for having mounted a Bush-like war on government scientists, data collectors, transparency, and enlightenment in general. He is a wizard of all the familiar tools of demagoguery; false patriotism, bigotry, fear, selfishness and belligerent religiosity.

Harper's attempts to make lying legal on Canadian television are a stark admission that right-wing political ideology can only dominate national debate through dishonest propaganda. Since corporate profit-taking is not an attractive vessel for populism, a political party or broadcast network that makes itself the tool of corporate and financial elites must lie to make its agenda popular with the public. In the Unites States, Fox News and talk radio, the sock puppets of billionaires and corporate robber barons, have become the masters of propaganda and distortion on the public airwaves. Fox News' notoriously biased and dishonest coverage of the Wisconsin's protests is a prime example of the brand of news coverage Canada has smartly avoided.

30 March 2011

Republican Scheme To Support The Rich

This chart from the Center for American Progress shows why the Republicans want to slash the programs that help most Americans. It's their way of paying for their giveaways to the rich and the corporations.

29 March 2011

Battle-proof Wind Farms Survive Japan's Trial by Fire

As the world collectively holds its breath to see how the Fukushima crisis plays out (the quote of the day has got to be: "The worst-case scenario doesn't bear mentioning and the best-case scenario keeps getting worse...") there's a positive story which is not yet being reported.

Despite assertions by its detractors that wind energy would not survive an earthquake or tsunami the Japanese wind industry is still functioning and helping to keep the lights on during the Fuksuhima crisis.

Colleagues and I have been directly corresponding with Yoshinori Ueda leader of the International Committee of the Japan Wind Power Association & Japan Wind Energy Association, and according to Ueda there has been no wind facility damage reported by any association members, from either the earthquake or the tsunami. Even the Kamisu semi-offshore wind farm, located about 300km from the epicenter of the quake, survived. Its anti-earthquake "battle proof design" came through with flying colors.

more & photos....

28 March 2011

Oregon Sets Efficiency Precedent

Oregon Sets Efficiency Precedent:
Passive House Building Energy Standard to be High Level Option Within State Reach Code

SALEM, Ore.—Wednesday (3/16), the Oregon Reach Code Committee unanimously adopted the Passive House Building Energy Standard as an option within the new Reach Code. The Committee, initiated by S.B. 79, is developing an optional, aspirational building code with a two-fold purpose: to incentivize high performance buildings, and to allow jurisdictions & builders to field test state-of-the-art construction methods
The Passive House Building Energy Standard, which cuts energy use by 70-90%, is the world’s most rigorous standard for energy efficiency. Although still relatively new to the U.S., it has been widely practiced and is being phased in as minimum building code in Europe.
“While still only an option within an option, we can all be proud that Oregon has taken this historic step to continue as a leader for the country by including the Passive House Building Energy Standard in the new Oregon Reach Code,” stated Sam Hagerman, President of Portland contractor Hammer and Hand and the national Passive House Alliance. “We applaud the Reach Code Committee for taking this important action towards addressing the climate challenge we face.”
“The Passive House Standard is not only cost effective related to standard construction, these buildings also have superior comfort, health, performance, and durability,” said Stephen Aiguier, President of Portland Design-Build Firm, Green Hammer. “This is a great indication that Oregon is starting to take the steps needed to solve climate change and reduce our dependence on foreign energy.”
The measure garnered strong support, having been endorsed by 14 nonprofit organizations, many individuals, and 29 businesses including Oregon CUB, Oregon Environmental Council, Climate Solutions, Rocky Mountain Institute, and VOIS Business Alliance. Jana Gastellum of Oregon Environmental Council testified in support of the adoption, and the Chair of the Oregon Global Warming Commission sent a letter of support aligning the Passive House Standard with their October 2010 Roadmap to 2020 report calling for greenhouse gas emissions reductions of 80%.
The Reach Committee voted the Passive House Building Energy Standard into a high level of the commercial building portion of the Reach Code (Section 301.1.1) and indicated they will likely do the same for the residential portion when they reach that section in an upcoming session.

27 March 2011

Passive house concept drastically reduces energy use


This column often explores the exciting transformation taking place in the building industry. Green building programs have grown and multiplied at an amazing rate in recent years. We've looked at Energy Star, LEED and even the Living Building Challenge. These programs are important because they raise the bar and provide real-world examples of what is possible, not just what is permissible. They drive innovation and change.

Each program has its own unique approach but they all share a common goal of creating a better world by improving the built environment. Energy efficiency is a key to every meaningful green building program but one program in particular takes it to an entirely new level of performance. I'm talking about the passive house movement, where energy-use reductions of 90 percent are not uncommon. The term applies to many types of buildings, not just homes.

The passive house concept is a relatively simple blend of ancient wisdom and modern technology. For thousands of years, people have used solar orientation and thermal mass to help keep warmer in winter and cooler in summer. When combined with modern technology that includes super-insulated, air-tight building envelopes and ultra-efficient fresh air ventilation systems, the results are impressive to say the least.

Passive houses are so efficient that the energy they do require can be easily supplied using relatively small photovoltaic and thermal solar arrays for electricity and hot water, respectively. Thus, the goal of carbon-neutral, zero-energy buildings is achieved at minimal cost.

Just how much does a house like this cost? Obviously there is no set answer since most projects of this type are custom and costs vary significantly, but so far the results are promising. Many passive house projects claim minimal construction cost premiums compared to standard construction practices. Considering that the building's operating costs are drastically reduced by the energy savings, it's clear why more people are building to passive house standards.

It takes a very good contractor to build a passive house. Attention to detail and proper product selection is essential. For example, triple-pane, ultra-high-quality windows push the envelope of thermal performance. The building envelope must avoid thermal bridging and incorporate very high levels of insulation, even under the slab.

Specialized energy-recovery ventilation systems replace the typical forced-air heating and cooling equipment found in most homes. The ERV brings in just the right amount of fresh air, preconditioned by the outgoing stale air via a high-efficiency heat exchanger. At that point, small amounts of additional heat or cooling is added as necessary. The result is a draft-free, quiet and comfortable living space filled with plenty of healthy, fresh air.

The passive house certification program started in Germany. There have been tens of thousands built in Europe and it's no wonder since their energy costs are higher. My last column discussed higher energy prices. Passive house construction is a perfect example of how we can live better with less energy, save money and avoid the distress of rising energy costs.

It's good to know that people are developing solutions to our most pressing issues, yet we must push strongly for rapid change. We've already lost the battle to avoid climate change. We're only beginning to feel the effects and they will intensify over time.

Mitigation is still important, but so is adaptation. Deep green building programs like passive house provide a solution that addresses both. We can reduce our carbon footprint while creating structures that are much better suited to the challenges of a changing world.

There's much more to the story, including how we can adopt passive house concepts to our huge inventory of existing homes and buildings. I invite you to explore these ideas and prepare for the inevitable change we must all face. It might turn out to be the best investment you'll ever make.

Steve Rypka is a green living consultant and president of GreenDream Enterprises, a company committed to helping people live lighter on the planet. For more information and links to additional resources relating to this column, or to reach Steve, please visit www.greendream.biz.

26 March 2011

I Love This Guy

25 March 2011

No Comment Necessary

22 March 2011

No Comment Necessary

21 March 2011

One of the biggest lies being told by Republicans is that unions hurt Americans by stifling business and job creation. The truth is that the unions are the only force that workers have to insure they are treated fairly by business, and these unions even affect the conditions of workers who are not unionized. This chart, from the excellent blog Think Progress, shows what has happened to middle class income as union membership has decreased. It is quite clear the the destruction of unions would be devastating for the middle class.
Posted by Ted McLaughlin

20 March 2011

I could not have said it better myself

Reposted from Badtux

Guess what. If you paid $5 in income tax last year, you paid more income tax than CitiBank, JPMorganChase, ExxonMobil, General Electric, Boeing, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and probably a shitload of other big corporations--combined!

As I pointed out a couple of weeks ago, corporations paid 30% of income taxes paid in 1950, and 7% of income taxes paid today. Who pays the 23% that corporations no longer pay? Look in the mirror!

At this point the libertarian fucktards say, "Corporations don't pay taxes. The taxes are passed along to the purchaser of their goods and/or services or a reduction is made in the dividend payout to the stockholders. Either way, people pay. Lower the corporate tax rate to zero and see how may jobs are created." At which point, I say... wha the fuck? First of all, corporations don't set prices. The *MARKET* sets prices. Secondly, you stupid ass libertard motherfucker, CORPORATIONS do not create jobs. *DEMAND* creates jobs. Corporations are sitting on TRILLIONS of dollars of money right now (at least $1.7T according to the Federal Reserve) and NOT CREATING A SINGLE GODDAMNED JOB WITH IT because, look. Libertards seem to be ignorant of the most rudimentary and FUNDAMENTAL law of business, which is that YOU DON'T HIRE UNLESS YOU GOT DEMAND TO JUSTIFY HIRING because the whole POINT of a business is to maximize profits. Corporations are not welfare agencies. They don't hire people just out of the goodness of their hearts. They hire people because they HAVE to hire people, otherwise they have no product to sell. And if demand for their product is low, it doesn't matter HOW many trillions in tax breaks you give them -- they will hire NO workers. None. Zero. Nada. ZILCH.

You don't have to believe me. In fact, please DON'T believe me. Believe the actual DATA. Because the DATA says that anybody who says that corporations will hire just because they have money is a LYING COCKSUCKER WHO PROBABLY LICKS HIS CORPORATE MASTER'S ASS EVERY MORNING and then takes it up the rear while cheerfully saying "Thank you sire, give me more!" Because the data says that corporations are already sitting on trillions of dollars and doing nothing -- nada -- zero -- hiring with it. What, you think giving them two MORE trillions will make them suddenly start hiring out of the goodness of their heart? If you believe in such a deranged notion, you're either the dumbest motherfucker on this whole goddamned planet, or you're stuck so far up your corporate master's ass that you probably can't even remember what your own dick looks like.

And that's my response to the libertards on this issue. The data simply refutes their notion that giving corporations more money or reducing their tax liability to zero will cause them to hire more people. The data is the data, and doesn't give a shit what moronic ideology you have. But oh I forget, in THEIR universe, where unicorns are pink and cotton candy grows on trees, poor beleaguered corporations hire people just out of the goodness of their stockholder's hearts. What a strange, strange universe libertards must live in! Too bad it's not ours... I just wish they'd keep their nonsense in their novels, where it's okay to have that kind of nonsense alongside the unicorns and cotton candy trees, and quit spouting that nonsense in *this* universe where it just plain is not true

19 March 2011

Short answers to easy questions

When Mike Huckabee (R-Huckleberry) says that Obama grew up in Kenya, is he an idiot, or a liar?


18 March 2011

Cookie Monster

"A public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO sit at a table with a dozen cookies on a plate. The CEO reaches across, takes eleven of the cookies, looks at the tea partier and says, 'Watch out for that Union guy: He wants a piece of your cookie.'"

17 March 2011

16 March 2011

15 March 2011

“why we did not save them”

A generation ago we faced two very clear warnings that were heeded. The first was an oil spill off California in 1969 that led to the passage of the Clean Water Act and moratoriums on oil drilling on much of the continental shelf. The second happened 10 years later, as Three Mile Island suffered a partial melt down and this led to no nuclear power plants being built for the last 30 years.
I only hope that this generation will heed the warnings of the BP oil spill and Japan nuclear disaster so our children do not ask “why we did not save them”.

No Comment Necessary

14 March 2011

No Comment Necessary

13 March 2011

12 March 2011

No Comment Necessary

11 March 2011

Justices Thomas and Scalia Should Have Recused Themselves...But Didn't

This past weekend, at the exclusive Rancho Las Palmas resort near Palm Springs, California, the infamous Koch brothers hosted a gala for some of the largest titans of industry and government; the influential and the moneyed. It wasn't necessarily a celebratory gathering to praise and applaud those who participated in a hard-fought election, but rather a secretive planning and strategizing session for the prominent conservative elected (and un-elected) officials, donors and strategists that have been shaping American political thought and policy the last few years. The twice-a-year gathering has been framed as a session "to review strategies for combating the multitude of public policies that threaten to destroy America as we know it."

It's not known whether two Supreme Court justices, namely Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were attending the Rancho Las Palmas festivities, but it is known that both have had dealings with David and Charles Koch in the past and have been guests of the notorious pair at similar occasions. This has raised red-flags, appropriately so, by legal ethicists and other groups who want to see more disclosure. Although supreme court justices are not barred, like federal judges, from appearing at partisan events, they are ethically-bound from attending overt political planning functions. Obviously, their presence at these conferences greatly raises questions of transparency and, for some, broader concerns about judicial independence.

Last spring, in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and signed by Common Cause President & CEO Bob Edgar and Vice President Arn Pearson, they asked that the Justice Department promptly investigate whether Justices Thomas and Scalia should have recused themselves from the Citizens United case. If the Department finds sufficient grounds for disqualification of either Justice, they have requested that the Solicitor General file a motion with the full Supreme Court seeking to vacate the judgment.

Although sufficient evidence may be unattainable, questions included in the petition include: (1) Would a reasonable person question the impartiality of Justices Thomas and Scalia based on their attendance at secretive Koch Industries retreats?, and (2) Does attendance of a closed-door Koch Industries retreat constitute political activity? Common Cause argues, “We believe it is inappropriate for a Supreme Court judge to be ‘featured’ at or attend closed-door strategy meetings with political donors, corporate CEOs, candidates and political officials, and thereby lend the prestige of their position to the political goals of that event” and “A reasonable person would question the impartiality of Justices Thomas and Scalia in the Citizens United case based on their attendance at political strategy meetings sponsored by a corporation that raises and spends millions to defeat Democrats and elect Republicans”.

And there's another fly in the ointment that may add credence to Common Cause's request: As you can probably imagine (simply because you undoubtedly consider yourself a "reasonable person"), federal judges -- and justices -- are required by law to disclose their spouse's income. This prohibits unsavory organizations and individuals from influencing the judiciary by channeling money (i.e., "influence") through their wife or husband. Yet, Justice Thomas has not complied with this requirement for years. Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, Justice Thomas' wife, earned $686,589 from the Heritage Foundation, according to a Common Cause review of the foundation’s IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his Supreme Court financial disclosure forms for those years, instead checking a box labeled “none” where “spousal noninvestment income” would be disclosed. It's also known that Virginia Thomas has been active in the political group, Liberty Central, an organization of her founding, that's predominately guided by the Tea Party's vague philosophies of limited government, free enterprise, national security, and personal responsibility, and is also funded charitably by Koch Industries, the second largest private corporation in America.

Thus, the Common Cause petition to the Department of Justice also asked a third very critical question: Did Justice Thomas have a conflict of interest based on his wife’s interest in the subject matter of the Citizens United case? If so, and this is an equally important question to ask (again, assuming you're a "reasonable person"): Does Koch Industries' ties to Virginia Thomas' organization, Liberty Central, create an additional appearance of bias for Justice Thomas?

Knowing what we know now -- that Koch Industries, a major beneficiary of the Citizens United decision, and benefiting from the ruling to expand its multi-million dollar investment in political campaigns and causes -- should the Citizens United ruling be vacated? If there were a such thing as justice, and rule of law, it would be. But given the American mainstream media, and its refusal to report this, the vast majority of Americans will never even be aware of this blatant and obvious conflict of interest. And not being aware creates no pressure by We the People to force and elicit change through the Obama Administration. If the Common Cause petition ever sees the light of day, I'll be surprised. In just about all areas, this administration has shown it's more concerned with the welfare of corporate America than with the rights of We the People. I'm sure this will be no exception.
Posted by Jefferson's Guardian

10 March 2011

No Comment Necessary

09 March 2011

Repube BullSH**

Reposted from Jobsanger

The Republicans have convinced much of the American populace that this country is in trouble because the deficit has grown too large. And since taxes can't be raised for ordinary Americans in the midst of a recession, people have been led to believe that the only thing that can be done is to cut programs, even programs that are necessary to educate our youth, take care of the elderly, provide for medical care, and help Americans in financial distress.

But the fact is that these good and much-needed programs are not the problem. The real problem is that we keep cutting taxes for the rich and giving corporations sweetheart tax deals that result in putting the tax burden on workers and the middle class. And this is happening at a time when the rich and the corporations are making more money than ever. They don't need all the tax breaks they are getting.

Take General Motors (GM) for instance. A few years ago they were in deep trouble, but the combination of declaring bankruptcy and a government bailout has them back in the black. But even though they are making a nice profit this year, they won't be paying any taxes. That's because the government is letting them mark off their losses from previous years -- to the tune of $14 billion in taxes they won't have to pay.

While it is normal to let a company write off previous years losses on their taxes, it is not normal to let them do this after they have declared bankruptcy and had much of their debt forgiven. But the government is going to let GM do it anyway. And that is just wrong. They have enough of the taxpayer's money already.

And GM is not the only U.S. corporation that is avoiding paying its fair share of taxes. While Exxon pays billions of taxes to other countries, they pay nothing to the United States government in taxes. And this is true of far too many large corporations. Some even get tax breaks for outsourcing American jobs (a tax provision the Republicans protected in the last session of Congress).

The truth is that cutting programs that benefit ordinary Americans and cutting taxes for the rich and the corporate interests will not help this country out of recession -- only creating jobs will do that. But job creation requires the government spend some money -- money they would have if the rich and the corporations paid their fair share of taxes.

Some of you may think that lowering taxes for corporations means they will hire more workers. That has been proven to not be true. Businesses only hire workers when they need them to deliver the goods or services they offer, regardless of what the tax rate is. If a corporation doesn't need more workers to deliver their product properly, then those tax breaks just go into their bank accounts (and into huge bonuses for management).

The Republicans are just wrong with their subsidies and tax breaks for the corporations. They don't need the help, but the American people do. And the people could get the needed help if the corporations (and the rich) paid taxes.

08 March 2011

Passive House Seeks Broader Appeal

From the Journal of Light Construction

The Passive House concept is an approach to energy-efficient building that - compared with conventional code-compliant construction - reduces energy use for heating and cooling by up to 90 percent. The "passive" part of the name is meant to emphasize that those savings are achieved through passive heat gain, building-envelope efficiency, and high levels of insulation, rather than through "active" strategies like on-site power generation or collection and storage of solar heat. While quite popular in northern Europe - particularly in Germany, where it was developed during the 1990s - the method has only recently drawn much attention from designers, builders, and homeowners in North America.

For more on this click here.

07 March 2011

Gov. Cheesehead is as Smooth as a Double-Cream Muenster

Reposted from The Omnipotentpoobah

Dude! You’ve been punked!

Wisconsin Governor Scott “Cheesehead™” Walker has run afoul of a liberal newspaper editor running a reverse ACORNization on him. The Big Cheese™ believed he was speaking with conservative gajillionaire/amateur tea brewer David Koch. And judging from the conversation, he poured out his heart to Koch as though channeling Ayn Rand.

Much of what transpired isn’t particularly surprising nor unusual in the political arena – purely standard playbook stuff really. Possibly planting trouble stirrer uppers in the crowd? Meh. Saying the current hoopla is all about Wisconsin’s budget? If so, he’s also hoping the anti-union movement will spread across the country.Or, in Chester Cheetos’ words, “Yep, this is our moment.” Imagine that! Two birds with one brick of cheddar!

And his idea of bipartisanship? Well, lure recalcitrant Democrats back to the Capitol and then pass the bill while they’re still in talks. And if you’re a Dem patting yourself on the back about how smooth the Cheese Dems are, remember this: The old “living at a secret undisclosed location” ploy was pioneered by Texas state Repubs and endorsed by Ex-Hammer and soon to be present Prisoner No. BR-549, Tom “Dancin’ as Fast as He Can With Bum Ankles” Delay.

Card Carrying Member of the Cult of St. Ronnie of Reagan

SCOTT CHEESEHEAD WALKER - If the cheese fits, wear it.

But other things? Other things were, um… Well Gov, perhaps you should have your people call their people at the Mendota Mental Health Institute. Oops, Mendota is a union shop they might be on strike or something. You should call ahead..providing the union switchboard operator at the capitol isn’t out on strike.

It seems Gov. Cheeseburglar is also a huge devotee of the Cult of St. Ronnie of Reagan. According to Scottie, Ronnie’s firing of the air traffic controllers was, “the first crack in the Berlin Wall and led to the fall of the Soviets.”

Um Gov? Ronnie was responsible for lots of things (though contrary to popular belief, not single-handedly bringing down the Evil Empire), but legally firing union workers who had no collective bargain nor strike rights? That he did, according to the letter of the law. He didn’t gut an already legal union. He fired workers conducting an illegal strike by simply following the existing law.

Richer Than a Double-Cream Muenster
Oh, and word to the deunionization hotheads…by firing almost all controllers at the same time we still suffer cyclical problems with ATC staffing as nearly the entire workforce turns over every 20 years or so. And BTW, almost none of the non-monetary issues – which for many controllers were as important as the money – have been looked at since. The air traffic system is still circa 1981 which was already circa 1941.

It also seems Gov Extra Sharp has a nascent anger management problem. He promised to never give in, preferring the liberal application of “a slugger with my name on it” to get his own way.

Is he misleading the public lying? It would be charitable to answer yes, but so do most politicians. Is he crazy? Perhaps not in the clinical sense, but certainly in that curious way true ideologues are. Do I really think he’d tee up a Dem’s head for an out of the park HR? No, but I bet it gives him morning wood. Hey! Maybe THAT’s the “slugger” he’s talking about!

The false-flagged Koch asked, “I’ll tell you what, Scott, once you crush these bastards, I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time.”

“All right, that would be outstanding,” Walker said. It’s “all about getting our freedoms back.”

Now that’s richer than a double-cream Muenster.

06 March 2011

Now More Than A Thousand Hate Groups in US

Posted by Ted McLaughlin

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has released its annual intelligence report on hate groups in the United States, and it paints a pretty grim portrait of America. Hate groups are still proliferating in this country, and as the chart shows, for the first time since the SPLC began keeping tabs on them the number of different hate groups has topped 1,000. These groups grew from 932 of them in 2009 to 1002 of them in 2010 (a rise of 7.5% in the last year and a rise of 66% since the year 2000).

The SPLC says the reasons for this continued growth is "resentment over the changing racial demographics of the country, frustration over the lagging economy, and the mainstreaming of conspiracy theories and other demonizing propaganda aimed at minorities and the government."

Mark Potok, editor of the SPLC Intelligence Report, said, "Far-right extremists remain highly energized, even as politicians across the country co-opt many of the radical ideas and issues that are important to them. This success in having their voices heard in the political arena, where they have long occupied the fringe of conservative thought, might eventually take the wind out of their sails, but so far we're not seeing any sign of that."

While there are hate groups in all states, some have many more than others. You can go here to see the numbers for all states. The states with the most hate groups are:

New Jersey...............47
New York...............31
South Carolina...............30

In addition the the groups designated as hate groups, the SPLC also tracks two other kinds of groups -- "nativist extremist" groups and "patriot" organizations (including militias). The nativist extremist groups are defined as those "organizations that go beyond mere advocacy of restrictive immigration policy to actually confront or harass suspected undocumented immigrants or their employers." These groups grew from 309 groups in 2009 to 319 in 2010 -- an increase of 3%.

But the Patriot movement groups, who see the federal government as their primary enemy, had the most explosive growth in the last year. They grew an astounding 61% -- from 512 groups in 2009 to 824 groups in 2010. The militias, a part of this movement, grew from 127 groups in 2009 to 330 groups in 2010 -- a growth of 160%.

When the hate groups, the nativist extremist groups and the patriot groups are added together, we have a pretty scary scenario. Collectively these groups grew from 1,753 in 2009 to 2,145 in 2010 -- a frightening increase of 22% in just the last year.

None of this is happening in a vacuum. With the election of an African-American president and the growth of the minority population far outpacing the white establishment, these groups have seized on these things to once again come forward with their hate-filled agenda. The really sad part is that this agenda has been embraced by many on the right -- especially the teabaggers and the Republican Party (who are using these people in an effort to return to power).

There is a discussion to be held on immigration, the deficit, and other issues, but appealing to the darkest side of human nature is not the way to hold that discussion. An immigrant nation such as ours must never abandon its goal of tolerance and diversity.

05 March 2011

No Comment Necessary

04 March 2011

RESNET Enters Into Strategic Partnership with the Passive House Institute US

RESNET and the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) have entered into an agreement that synchronizes standards, modeling, quality assurance and quality control for low energy homes and buildings.

The agreement provides for:

PHIUS to become an affiliate member of RESNET
PHIUS will adopt the RESNET HERS Index – the minimum requirement for this would be that PHIUS would use the RESNET HERS Index as a template to assign an Index Score to its certified buildings.
PHIUS will adopt rating standards and procedures that harmonize with the RESNET provisions for Certified Passive House Project certification, quality assurance, codes of ethics and standards of practice
PHIUS will work with RESNET in adopting a uniform calculation of carbon savings from improving a building’s energy performance.
PHIUS is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization working to further the implementation of Passive House standards and techniques nationwide by:

Constructing, measuring, and verifying performance of Passive Houses in all US climate zones
Conducting nationwide training and certification of Passive House Consultants
Contributing to the development of minimized mechanical systems for heating, cooling, and dehumidification
Creating design guidelines for Passive Houses in all climate zones
PHIUS has been authorized by the Passivhaus Institute in Germany as the official certifier of passive houses in the U.S. For more information click on Passive House Institute US Passivahus is a growing movement in Europe and recognized by such organizations as the International Energy Agency,

Steve Baden, Executive Director of RESNET commented on the agreement, “This is an important agreement for both organizations, and promises to help the building industry meet the fast-growing need for low energy building design, testing and modeling.”

“We’ve seen awareness and acceptance of the Passive House Building and Energy Standard grow dramatically in the United States. By harmonizing standards with RESNET—one of the most respected standards organizations in the country—we expect Passive House to vault into the mainstream, where it belongs,” said Katrin Klingenberg, founder and Executive Director of PHIUS.

For more information about PHIUS and how the agreement with RESNET affects quality assurance and quality control for the Passive House building energy standard, email your questions and contact information to: info@passivehouse.us.

03 March 2011

No Comment Necessary

02 March 2011

Bernie Sanders - A Real American Patriot

"I have got a lot of problems with the president’s budget. I think it’s bad.

But I think the Republican budget is a lot worse. And my job, along with other progressive members of Congress, is to help create a budget which is fair and which protects the most vulnerable people in this country at a time when the poverty rate now is higher than at any time since 1948.

I think the answer is you have got to look at what’s happening economically in America. And what that’s about is that our middle class is collapsing. Our median family income has gone down. Poverty is going way, way up. And the gap between the very, very rich and everybody else is going wider.

So, I think, before you look at budgets or how you deal with the deficit, you have got to take that into consideration. For example, the top 1 percent today earn more income than do the bottom 50 percent. They earn about 22 percent of every dollar earned in America. And that gap is growing wider.

Meanwhile, what this budget includes are massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. So, you have a situation. The rich are getting richer. Their tax rates have gone down for many, many years. Their effective tax rate right now — people like Warren Buffett talk about this — at 16 percent, is lower than at any time in recent history, and yet we’re giving them huge tax breaks, while poverty in America is increasing.

We have the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world for our children, and we’re cutting programs for those people. So, the first thing we have to deal with is revenue. And, as a nation, we have got to say, sorry, the rich are getting richer. They’re doing really well. Our friends on Wall Street, we shouldn’t have to worry about. They get huge amounts of compensation.

We cannot continue to give huge tax breaks to the wealthy, cut back on programs for the vulnerable. So, that’s the first issue I think we have to deal with.

The other issue that I think we have to talk about is, in the president’s budget, he talks about Social Security. And he makes me a little bit nervous, because I think, as many of our listeners know, the Social Security trust fund today has a $2.6 trillion surplus.

Social Security can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 27 years. Social Security, because it is funded by the payroll tax, hasn’t contributed one nickel to the deficit.

Of course the Republicans have long wanted to privatize Social Security and destroy it. But Social Security has been the most important and valuable social program in the history of the United States. For 75 years, it’s worked perfectly. It can pay out every nickel for the next 27 years, at which time it pays out 78 percent.

And, in my view, when you have 16 percent of our people who are unemployed or underemployed, that’s an issue that we have got to deal with, not worry so much about a program which can pay out every nickel for the next 27 years.

If the president is concerned — concerned about the long-term sustainability of our budget, then he should not have caved into the Republicans and provided huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires.

What I get a little bit frustrated about is, we’re giving money away to people who don’t need it, and then we’re really tough on students who are trying to get by on Pell Grants. You got the Community Service Block Grant. You know what that is? That is the infrastructure by which we protect low-income people all over America. The president has proposed a 50 percent cut in that.

So, I think what the American people understand is that, when we have such an unequal distribution of income right now, you don’t give more to the people who don’t need it and cut back on people who are hurting.

The deficit primarily has been caused by two wars unfunded, huge tax breaks to people who don’t need it, an insurance-company-written Medicare Part D prescription drug program, and the bailout of Wall Street.

The cause of it is not hungry children in this country or people who are sleeping out on the street. So, we have got to deal with the deficit, but you do it in a fair and progressive way. For example, this year alone, we’re losing a hundred billion dollars in revenue because corporations, the wealthy, are stashing their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands.

This year, ExxonMobil, the most profitable corporation in the history of the world, is not paying a nickel in federal income taxes, despite having made $19 billion last year. In 2005, one-quarter of corporation — large corporations in America making a trillion in revenue didn’t pay a nickel in taxes. You have got a military budget which in many ways is still fighting the old Cold War.

So, I believe that we have to move toward significant deficit reduction, but you don’t do it on the backs of the middle class and working families who are already suffering as a result of this Wall Street-caused recession."

01 March 2011

Republicans Assure Government Shut-Down With "Poison Pill" Amendments

by Ted McLaughlin

For the last few days the House of Representatives have been arguing over a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for the rest of the year. Time after time, Republicans have taken to the floor of the House to claim they are just doing what the people of America wanted them to do -- cut the deficit. But that is just not true, because they have ignored all of the biggest things that have caused the deficit in the first place.

When George Bush took office, he inherited a budget surplus from President Clinton. But with the help of his Republican cohorts, he went on an enormous spending spree and turned the budget surplus into a massive deficit. As the chart above shows, the current deficit was caused by Bush's huge tax cuts for the rich, the TARP bailout which he signed into law, the two unnecessary wars he started (and which are still draining the treasury), and his trickle-down economic policies which threw the nation into recession. In addition, the largest item in the discretionary budget, the Defense Department, continued to radically expand.

Any serious effort to cut the budget deficit would need to address most (or all) of those budget-busting measures. But the House Republicans haven't touched any of those areas in their "cuts". They still practice trickle-down economics, extended the huge tax cuts for the rich, killed funds for the government official who was overseeing repayment of TARP, continued funds for the two wars, and gave the Defense Department another raise. All they have done is play politics and try to defund some programs they never liked -- cutting only a drop in the bucket compared to their own spending.

This is no real surprise. I didn't expect the Republicans to do any real budget cutting (or create any new jobs). I knew it was going to be a very hard couple of years for everyone but the rich. However, I did hope the cuts wouldn't be too painful for most people and the government could go on operating -- albeit at a reduced and painful level. And in the last couple of weeks it looked like that could happen, as several top Republicans said they had no intention of shutting down the government to push their radical agenda.

But after watching the House for the last couple of days, I can see that's not going to happen. Either those Republican leaders have no control over House Republicans (a distinct possibility) or they lied. After seeing the vicious amendments to the continuing budget resolution passed by House Republicans, it is obvious that they are playing to their base and have every intention of shutting down the government.

The current budget resolution runs out on March 4th -- less than two weeks from now. If a new resolution is not passed by both the House and the Senate and signed by the president by that date, the government will run out of operating funds and will have to shut down (and government checks and payments will stop). There is time to get a new resolution approved and signed, but not with the amendments tacked on to it in the House -- amendments that amount to nothing more than "poison pills" that will make the resolution unacceptable to the Senate and the White House -- and the Republicans know that.

They have attached these "poison pill" amendments to make the Senate or the president kill the resolution and precipitate a shut-down crises in government. Consider just a few of these amendments. First is a total defunding of Planned Parenthood and an equally devastating defunding of Head Start programs. These are cuts that will be hard for Democrats to stomach, and the Senate is likely to kill these amendments.

But even if the Senate and the president could take those cuts, there are a couple of others that could never be agreed to by Democrats. The House has made huge cuts to the EPA. And they have voted to ban the EPA from regulating toxic emissions. Then they went even further to ban the EPA from enforcing any of their new rules regarding carbon dioxide emissions. In other words, they have gutted the ability of the EPA to do its job.

Then they passed a variety of amendments that would completely defund all aspects of the new health care reform law. Without funds, the health care reform is dead. Democrats (and the president) will never accept these amendments and kill health care reform. The Republicans know this. That's why they put them in the budget resolution -- so it would not be approved by the Senate and signed by the president. They want to shut down the government.

So we're left with only a couple of weeks to get a new budget resolution and a House resolution that is sure to be killed by the Senate or vetoed by the president. Unless the House gives up these "poison pill" amendments, the government will be shut down.

Are the right-wingers serious about shutting down the government? It sure looks like they are. We'll know in a few days. I have the feeling though that most Americans are not going to be happy about this.