31 March 2012

30 March 2012

29 March 2012


28 March 2012

Recent Attacks On Women's Rights

Reposted from Jobsanger

The wonderful organization called Emily's List is dedicated to electing more progressive women to all levels of government. It is a very worthy goal and I support their efforts (and if you have a few extra dollars, they would put it to good use). That's why it comes as no surprise that they are upset (like all decent people are) about the recent Republican ramping-up of the war on women. Over at their blog, one of their writers (Allison McQuade) has written a piece about the 10 most egregious attacks on women's rights in the last few months. I thought it was excellent, and repost their list here:

Here are our Top 10 Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Attacks on Women’s Rights (just in the last 6 months!)
1. The Blunt Amendment. Reasonable religious exemptions weren’t enough for Roy Blunt. This amendmentwould have allowed your employer – not your doctor - to decide what kind of health care you could get based on his or her own personal moral or religious convictions.
2. The All-Male Birth Control Panel, or the Man Panel. Congressman Darrell Issa convened a panel to discuss the coverage of birth control – but refused to include any women.
3. Susan G. Komen Foundation defunds Planned Parenthood. Komen opted to cut off funding to the largest provider of reproductive health services in the US because of their new VP’s objection to a mere 3% of their activities.
4. Rush Limbaugh Calls Sandra Fluke a Prostitute and a Slut. After Sandra Fluke stood up for women everywhere, Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves and called her a prostitute and a slut for speaking out in favor of birth control coverage. He also said she should have to put videos of her having sex online to compensate the taxpayers who “are going to pay for your contraceptives." Classy.
5. Forced Trans-Vaginal Ultrasounds. Republican legislators in Virginia invited the commonwealth into the exam room when they proposed a bill that would require women seeking abortions to undergo an invasive, medically-unnecessary vaginal probe before their procedure.
6. Texas defunds Planned Parenthood. Under Governor Rick Perry, the state of Texas banned funding to Planned Parenthood because it provides abortion services. In the end, though, this fight has only served tohurt low-income women looking for breast cancer screenings, birth control and pap smears.
7. Women in the Military Should “Expect” to be Raped. Responding to a 64% increase in the reports of rape and violent sexual assaults in the military, Fox News pundit Liz Trotta responds, “What did they expect?” She goes on to say that there is a bureaucracy of people to support these women who are being “raped too much.”
8. Foster Friess Suggests Women Put Aspirin Between Their Knees. Rick Santorum supporter, Foster Friess, reminisced about back in his day when ladies put aspirin between their knees for birth control. Back in his day, people also died of polio.
9.Santorum wants to deny birth control coverage because he thinks it’s available and affordable. Despite the fact that most forms of birth control still require a prescription and 1 in 3 women have reported struggling to afford birth control. Santorum feels there is no barrier to access, so it shouldn’t be covered by insurance.
10. Mitt Romney doesn’t understand a woman’s reproductive system. Romney has publicly supported “personhood amendments,” which would ban abortion by declaring life begins at conception. When asked about how this affects birth control, Romney seemed to be completely unaware that hormonal forms of birth control stop implantation, not conception and would be banned under any personhood amendment.

26 March 2012

Vote Repube?

25 March 2012

An Oldie but a Goodie

24 March 2012

Minimum Wage Is A "Slave" Wage

After looking at this chart, I don't understand how anyone can think the current minimum wage is a fair wage for any worker. And the congressional Republicans would like to eliminate the minimum wage so employers could pay even less. It's just more proof that Republicans don't care about workers -- they only care about the rich.

From Jobsanger

23 March 2012

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22 March 2012

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20 March 2012

CEED Website

Click on the image to go to the new website!

19 March 2012

What Insurance Companies Know.


Written by Richard Schiffman

When they woke up in the morning, my mom used to ask my dad what the weather was going to be like that day. “Stick your fool head out the window,” he would reply. I say the same thing to the Republican presidential candidates. If you want to know if climate change is for real, stick your fool heads out the window. You might notice– what the rest of us already have– that the weather has been changing. A lot.

Take New York City, where I live. Nobody remembers a winter this warm. Daffodils are already coming up in a community garden on my block– over a month early. In January, a cherry tree was in full bloom, fooled perhaps by the “spring rains” we’ve been having all winter. In the fall, a freak October storm took down thousands of still leafing trees in Central Park with the weight of wet snow. And a year earlier, the five boroughs were raked by several tornadoes, an almost unprecedented event.

New York is hardly alone. Last year over a thousand tornadoes ripped across the Midwest killing 500 people, the Mississippi river flooded inundating millions of acres, Texas had its driest summer in memory, an estimated 15,000 people died in a Russian heat wave, there was a major drought in China and famine in Somalia. 2010 was the hottest year on earth since record keeping began, with 2011 not far behind. Last year saw 14 separate billion dollar weather disasters, almost double any other year to date. And there was far more extreme weather– over half the country experienced either flood or drought.

So what’s going on? No single storm or spell of unseasonable weather can be laid categorically at the feet of climate change. But the growing consensus amongst scientists is that the rise we’ve been seeing in catastrophic weather events worldwide is no coincidence, but the inevitable result of a warming trend which produces more water vapor in the atmosphere and an increase in severe wind events like hurricanes, monster thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Yet as the scientific evidence mounts with every passing year, the deniers become more vocal in their rejection of climate change. Even Mitt Romney, the ostensible moderate amongst the Republican presidential hopefuls, asserts that, “We don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.” Never mind that in his 2010 book, No Apology, Romney wrote, “I believe that climate change is occurring. … I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor.”

Others like Santorum, Gingrich and Paul flat out assert that climate change is a liberal hoax. But, while these ideologues evince little faith in what science is saying, they do have a habit of listening to the big corporations. So they would do well to heed the warnings of the insurance industry, a group with no political axes to grind on the question of global warming, and billions of dollars riding on their ability to accurately prognosticate future risks. On March 1st, senators Bernie Sanders and Sheldon Whitehouse met with insurance industry officials on Capital Hill to discuss their concerns about climate change and the escalating costs of damage from extreme weather.

The worldwide insurance industry is huge, three-times bigger than the oil industry. And right now these companies are running scared. Some are threatening to cancel coverage for homeowners within 200 miles of the coast, where destructive hurricanes are on the increase, and in drying areas of the West, where wildfires have wreaked havoc in recent years.

Marsh & McLennan (MMC), one of the world’s largest insurance brokers, called climate change “one of the most significant emerging risks facing the world today,” while the insurance giant AIG has established an Office of Environment and Climate Change to review and assess the risks to insurers in the years ahead.

2011 was a bad year for insurance companies due to the steep rise in catastrophe-related losses. And the industry’s own scientists are predicting that things could get a lot worse in the years ahead.

The Republicans say that we can’t afford to pay for cutting the carbon emissions which climatologists assert are largely responsible for rising global temperatures and the spike in violent weather. What we truly cannot afford, according to our nation’s leading insurers, is to continue to deny a problem whose price tag is slated to go through the roof if we don’t act quickly.

Richard Schiffman is the author of two books and is a poet based in New York City, as well as a freelance journalist. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, Salon.com, The Christian Science Monitor, NPR and leading literary journals. His “Spiritual Poetry Portal” can be found here.

17 March 2012

Check it out!!

16 March 2012

Rooftop revolution: How to get solar onto 100 million U.S. homes

It’s about the spread of “solar grid parity” over the next 10 years, where grid parity is defined as “when the cost of solar electricity — without subsidies — is equal to or lower than the residential retail electricity rate.” People often talk about grid parity as if it’s some magic moment, but in fact it will happen in different places at different times, depending on local conditions and electricity prices. And it’s a moving target: It depends on how fast the cost of solar falls and how fast electricity rates rise.

Farrell says that the “installed cost of solar has fallen 10% per year since 2006 and grid electricity prices have averaged a 2% annual increase in the last decade.” In his projections, he uses 7 percent annual decline for solar costs and 2 percent for electricity increases, which seems conservative but reasonable. Obviously either of those rates could change, but almost everything I’ve read and heard predicts rising electricity rates; the rate of solar cost decline is somewhat harder to predict. As a technophile, my money is on the cost of solar falling faster than expected.

Anyway, given those assumptions, here’s a map that shows how and when solar grid parity will spread.

By 2021, some 100 million people in the top 40 U.S. metropolitan areas will be at grid parity for residential rooftop solar. The number is larger if you take into account people living outside those areas. It expands again if you assume widespread time-of-use pricing. And of course it expands a whole lot more if you include non-residential (commercial and industrial) rooftops. Like so:

Two big things to note about this:

1. Obviously this doesn’t mean 100 million people will have solar on their roofs in 2021. That’s just the cost-effective potential. To exploit that potential will require smart changes in policy. Farrell mentions several state laws and regulations — lower permitting fees, net metering, the like — but I want to emphasize his recommendations on subsidies.

Right now, there’s a federal solar tax credit of 30 percent that is set to expire in 2016. Tax credits are pretty crappy policy. They exclude the public sector and raise transaction costs to the point that tax credits are twice as expensive as cash grants. Keeping the solar tax credit perpetually in place would mostly enrich big solar developers … but dropping it abruptly would hurt the solar market.

The best option is to phase out the tax credit over time in favor of a less expensive policy responsible for 75 percent of the world’s solar PV and 45 percent of its wind power: feed-in tariffs. Feed-in tariffs — which apparently we’re now supposed to call CLEAN contracts (for Clean Local Energy Accessible Now) — pay people for creating clean energy and feeding it into the grid. If done right, CLEAN contracts could replace America’s entire tangled web of tax rebates, incentives, state mandates, and utility programs with something far simpler, more transparent, and more predictable. CLEAN money could phase out over time as costs drop, as is now happening in Germany.

We could exploit the full potential of solar, but that would require [gasp] planning, and planning is socialist, so oh well.

2. If 100 million people had residential rooftop solar, they’d still only be producing roughly 2 percent of the electricity consumed in the U.S. But electricity generation isn’t the only story here. That’s almost a third of the U.S. population!

That means a whole lot of voters — voters in Florida, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada — with direct experience being energy producers as well as consumers. They will come to understand the value of local, distributed energy in a tangible way and serve as a political force for its expansion. That’s what has happened in Germany. Smart energy policy doesn’t just create energy; it creates a constituency.

It can also be argued that locally owned solar has greater economic benefits (more jobs, spread more widely, and more money circulating in local economies) and greater benefits to the grid (avoided transmission, peak shaving) than absentee-owned power plants.

Energy policy is not just about numbers. It’s not even just about energy. It cannot be separated from economic development or social change. Energy democracy — local ownership, local benefits, local autonomy — ought to be an explicit goal of policy. In part that means planning ahead to take full advantage of solar’s extraordinary potential.

David Roberts is a staff writer for Grist.

15 March 2012

Repube Values

14 March 2012

No Comment Necessary

13 March 2012

Excellent Coomentary by Ted McLaughlin

Reposted from Jobsanger

The early years of the Republican Party were something to be proud of. Their first president, Abraham Lincoln, not only freed the slaves but saved the United States from tearing itself into pieces. Later, Teddy Roosevelt fought for the common man by busting up corporate monopolies and created a lasting treasure for Americans by establishing the National Park system. Any political party would have been proud to have men of the stature of these two.

By the twentieth century, the GOP had turned its back on its progressive roots and became the party of big business and conservative values. But even though they had changed their political and economic ideology, many of the party leaders still honored the Constitution and fought for it in their own way. There were men like Dwight Eisenhower (who had the political courage to send federal troops to Little Rock to enforce integration), Everett Dirksen (who rounded up Republican votes in the Senate to help pass the Civil Rights laws), Barry Goldwater (who defended equal rights for homosexuals when his party would not), and William Buckley (who had mastered the art of political dialogue with those who disagreed with him).

I did not often agree with these men, but I believed they were worthy adversaries who deserved some respect. They did not demonize their political opponents. They could argue forcefully for their conservative point of view, and then enjoy dinner or drinks with their political opponents -- because they did not consider them to be "enemies" or "traitors" for having a different point of view. And after defending their own point of view, they knew how to compromise for the good of the country.

That is no longer true. The party has no real leaders anymore. In an attempt to retain power, they appealed to the racists, homophobes, misogynists, religious fundamentalists, and other haters who had been (justifiably) marginalized in our society. Now those elements have taken over the party. Instead of leading, current Republican elected officials can now only pander to these elements to retain their offices. The lunatics (the base) have now taken over the asylum (the party), and they believe anyone who disagrees with them is an enemy of America. They consider even a small compromise to be utter surrender. The only word they understand is no.

I think one of the best descriptions of the current party was by Hendrik Hertzberg in The New Yorker. He is what he says about the party's base voters:

The Republican “base”—an excitable, overlapping assortment of Fox News friends, Limbaugh dittoheads, Tea Party animals, war whoopers, nativists, Christianist fundamentalists, à la carte Catholics (anti-abortion, yes; anti-torture, no), anti-Rooseveltians (Franklin and Theodore), global-warming denialists, post-Confederate white Southrons, creationists, birthers, market idolaters, Europe demonizers, and gun fetishists.

I certainly can't argue with that, but I would add one more group -- the neo-nazis and holocaust deniers. Just look at this candidate running to represent the Republican Party in the November election for the Illinois 3rd Congressional District seat. His name is Art Jones, and he is a past member of the National Socialist Party (something he is not ashamed of and refuses to disavow). He is also a holocaust-denier. Here's what he says about it:

As far as I’m concerned, the Holocaust is nothing more than an international extortion racket by the Jews. It’s the blackest lie in history. Millions of dollars are being made by Jews telling this tale of woe and misfortune in books, movies, plays and TV. The more survivors, the more lies that are told.

Fifty years ago (or even thirty years ago), this bigot could not have found a place on any Republican ballot -- because he didn't believe in the GOP conservatism of that time. He is simply a Nazi. But the new conservatism of the Republican Party's base is different now, and Jones' brand of bigotry and hatred fits right in. He'll probably get a significant number of votes. Thankfully, the 3rd Congressional District is (and has been for quite a while) a Democratic seat and is likely to stay that way.

But it is a sad commentary on the current state of the Republican Party that such a bigot can consider he has a kinship with the party. But he does. The Republican Party has become a home for all kinds of haters. It is no longer the party of Lincoln and Roosevelt. It is the party of hate.

12 March 2012

11 March 2012

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10 March 2012

The first years data is in!!

We have our first year results from CEED (Center for Energy
Efficient Design) complete.

1. CEED Energy Summary - Shows we were 6% below our predicted energy
usage and 68% below our modeled baseline [i.e., what a building that
size would normally use]!!

2. Thermal comfort survey shows 0% dissatisfied users!!


Thank you everyone for your help!

For more info click here.

09 March 2012

Congressman 'impressed' with CEED

Monday, February 27, 2012

By JOEL TURNER - Staff Writer Franklin News Post

Fifth District Congressman Robert Hurt got a first hand look last week at the Center for Energy Efficient Design at the Gereau Center.

Hurt was given a guided tour of the CEED and the Gereau Center by Kevin Bezy, the principal, and John Richardson, an environmental science teacher.
Hurt also met many of the staff members and told them that he was impressed with the school.
The CEED is the first public school building in the United States with Passivhaus technology and standards to achieve certification from the Passive House Institute U.S.
Richardson explained to the congressman the background and standards of the Passivhaus technology, which is a German term for a new trend in construction that meets new standards in energy efficiency.
"Your enthusiasm is obvious," Hurt told Richardson.
Richardson said that the cost for Passivhaus technology adds only about 5 percent to the cost of construction, but the additional cost can be recovered in 90 percent energy savings.
Richardson told Hurt that Ferrum College and Virginia Western Community College hope to send students to visit the CEED and study its technology.
The building also has a carbon footprint that reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 70 percent over other new buildings.
CEED uses solar panels, rainwater recycling and triple-glass thermal windows, among other innovations.
Richardson also explained the operation of the CEED mechanical room to Hurt.
Hurt also toured the Media Design Studio at the Gereau Center and sat with students at the studio desk. He was interviewed by Gereau students for the school's daily television program.

08 March 2012


07 March 2012

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06 March 2012

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05 March 2012

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04 March 2012

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03 March 2012

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02 March 2012

Ignorati - Priceless

01 March 2012