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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Sanders Introduces Solar Initiative

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday introduced legislation to make solar energy more accessible to low-income families.

“While the cost of solar panels has gone down in recent years, it is still out of reach for millions of low-income families that need it the most,” said Sanders. “Families across this country struggle to pay electricity bills and access to solar energy can help reduce these costs.”

The Low Income Solar Act of 2015 was introduced on the same day the White House proposed an initiative to make solar power more accessible to households and businesses. The Sanders bill would provide $200 million in loans and grants through the Department of Energy to offset the upfront costs for solar arrays on community facilities, public housing and low-income family homes. These projects would be required to prioritize loans for woman- and minority-owned small businesses and set aside funding for developing solar arrays in Appalachia, Indian tribal lands and Alaskan native communities.

While low-income families are the hardest hit by rising utility prices, they are also the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the poor spend more than 60 percent of their income on basic necessities including electricity and food, compared to less than 45 percent for wealthy families. Helping low-income families use solar power addresses both of these issues.



Bernie Sanders and ‘the American mainstream’

By Jay Bookman

The headline at Politico is pointed and seemingly ominous:

“The Socialist surge: The rise of Bernie Sanders is proving awkward for the Democratic Party”

Certainly, Bernie Sanders is surging. In Iowa, Wisconsin and most recently in Maine, the Vermont senator is drawing the largest, most passionate crowds of the political season. Polling indicates that while he is still well behind Hillary Clinton, the gap is closing. He has also raised some $15 million, which may not sound like much in the post-Citizens United world. But unlike Clinton, Jeb Bush and others, Sanders is drawing most of his contributions from small donors, and $15 million is more than enough to sustain a modest campaign.

It’s interesting watching the political world try to account for it all. The Politico story, for example, cites Sanders’ statement that the economic crisis in Greece should not be resolved by cutting programs for “the poor, the children, the sick and the elderly.” Those comments, we are told, “are a reminder of just how far the second-place Democratic presidential candidate stands from the American mainstream on some issues, and the looming reckoning Democrats face with their party’s leftward drift.”

The story goes on to note that Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other liberals have pushed the Democrats leftward on issues such as same-sex marriage, equal pay and paid sick leave. The result is allegedly a party that is being drawn away from the American mainstream, with a “looming reckoning” ahead.

But there’s one very large problem with that argument:

When you poll people on same-sex marriage, equal pay for women, the minimum wage, paid sick leave for lower-income workers, and yes, higher taxes on the rich, the positions taken by Sanders almost always get majority and in some cases overwhelming public support.

As Sanders puts it, “I don’t believe it is a terribly radical idea to say that someone who works 40 hours a week should not be living in poverty.” And 78 percent of the American people agree with him. Go through the list of issues, and the story repeats itself...



David Brock, a Clinton enemy from the '90s, is now integral to Hillary's run

Among the familiar figures from Bill Clinton's White House days now reemerging to help propel his wife’s campaign, one stands out not for his record of trusted counsel or unyielding loyalty, but for salacious reporting on Clinton's sex life that nearly undid his presidency.

Although Hillary Rodham Clinton tries to run a highly disciplined campaign, the outsized role that David Brock plays is a reminder that this is, after all, still a Clinton operation, with all the psychodramas that implies. Brock is the once-ruthless right-wing reporter who nudged Paula Jones into public view with her accusations of sexual misconduct by the former president, who once suggested Hillary Clinton had an affair with a White House advisor who took his own life, who was a key architect of what she once dubbed the “vast right-wing conspiracy” to bring down the Clintons.

Brock apologized long ago for his role as a Clinton attacker and dramatically shifted sides. Now, he is central to Clinton's run for the White House as a linchpin of her shadow campaign.

"What kind of a movement would we be if we rejected converts?” said Paul Begala, a veteran of the Clinton White House who now collaborates with Brock. “He saw the permanent intellectual and ideological infrastructure they have on the right and brought it to the left.”



Hawaii Becomes First State in The Nation to Ban Plastic Bags

In the past couple of years, cities and towns across the nation have started to ban plastic bags. Less than one percent of plastic bags are recycled, and it costs more to recycle a plastic bag that create a new one. That’s why Oahu, the most populated Hawaiian island, decided to join the other Hawaiian islands and officially ban plastic and other non-compostable bags from their stores. Beginning Wednesday, Hawaii will become the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags.

According to Mashable, the ban contains several important exemptions worth examining. Bags will still be allowed to wrap fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, and take-out home deliveries. Still, retailers caught violating the ban face heavy penalties: anywhere $100 to $1,000 dollars a day, per violation. The island is encouraging businesses to offer alternative bags, including reusable totes, 100% recyclable paper bags, and compostable plastic bags.

Over 100 billion plastic bags are handed out in the United States every year. Chicago just banned plastic bags, and California is considering a similar ban. It remains to be seen whether Hawaii’s ban will trend nationwide, but either way, it’s a lovely blow to the highly profitable plastics industry, and a big step forward.


New Leaked TPP Chapter Shows Countries Converging on Anti-User Copyright Takedown Rules

A draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership's "Intellectual Property" chapter from May 11, 2015 has recently been leaked to journalists. This is the fourth leak of the chapter following earlier drafts of October 2014, August 2013, and February 2011. The latest leak is not available online and we don't have a copy of it—but we have been briefed on its contents.

In most respects the chapter follows previous drafts pretty closely; for example, the text on DRM circumvention and copyright term are both largely unchanged. But there is one area in which significant progress has been made since the last draft, and this is in the text on intermediary liability rules. Specifically, the new change involves the immunity that Internet companies enjoy from copyright liability, provided that they satisfy certain safe harbor conditions.

Under the United States' Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), these safe harbor conditions require Internet intermediaries to comply with a “notice-and-takedown” process. This has seen legitimate content taken off the Internet in response to bogus claims of infringement, as in the famous dancing baby case, as well as being misused for political censorship. Until now, one point of contention among the TPP partners has been whether countries that don't already have an equivalent to the DMCA's broken notice-and-takedown rules would be forced to adopt one.



Elizabeth Warren allies delay Obama's SEC pick


Elizabeth Warren and her allies appear to be on the verge of another victory in their battle to stop the White House from choosing financial regulators with ties to Wall Street.

President Barack Obama was planning to nominate corporate attorney Keir Gumbs to fill a Democratic seat on the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, according to four sources familiar with the matter. But now that’s on hold at least until August after activist groups aligned with Warren raised an outcry over Gumbs’ work, including his advice to companies on how to dodge scrutiny from shareholder activists.

The White House will begin vetting additional candidates who don’t have corporate relationships to fill the seat being vacated by Democrat Luis Aguilar, whose term expired last month, two people said.

It’s the latest attempt by the progressive movement that’s coalesced around Warren to set a litmus test for financial regulatory jobs. In January, banker Antonio Weiss withdrew his name for nomination to a Treasury post after Warren and others criticized his background on Wall Street. With the five-member SEC divided along partisan lines, liberals want to ensure the two Democratic commissioners won’t compromise on rules governing everything from shareholder activism to executive pay.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/barack-obama-elizabeth-warren-sec-wall-street-119780.html#ixzz3fCxPDkKZ

Tuesday Toon Roundup 3: The Rest









Tuesday Toon Roundup 2: Greece is the Word

Tuesday Toon Roundup 1- Trump and Plump

Slowpoke Toon: Dawning of the Obvious

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