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Jul. 30 2010 — 8:26 pm | 82 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Americans to Iran: Free Sarah, Shane and Josh

Josh, Sarah and Shane

As T/S takes its leave, my thoughts are with the three Americans hikers, Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal, who, exactly a year ago Saturday were taken prisoner by Iran. Three hundred and sixty-four days later they remain in prison, Sarah, ill and in solitary confinement.

The three were merely hiking in the Iraq/Iran border region when they were seized by the Iranian national police. For some time it was thought that the hikers had accidentally crossed the border in the forest. Now, some area residents say that the young Americans were inside Iraq when the Iranians themselves crossed the border and seized them — to hold for ransom.

Either way, Shane, Sarah and Josh are innocent of any criminal acts and should have been released long ago. Their families and friends have spent the last year in hell, pleading with Iranian authorities to free #SSJ (as they’re known on twitter), with no success.

Today, President Obama issued this statement:

I call on the Iranian government to immediately release Sarah, Shane and Josh. Their unjust detention has nothing to do with the issues that continue to divide the United States and the international community from the Iranian government. This is a humanitarian imperative, as these three young people are innocent of any crime. As a signatory to multiple conventions on human rights, the government of Iran should act in line with the principles of justice, and allow Sarah, Shane and Josh to be reunited with their families. This call has been echoed by people in many countries, and is shared by all who respect human freedom and decency.

For those who share the sense of outrage, there are many ways you can help. The place to begin is at the website created their families and friends.

Sarah, Shane and Josh: our hearts and thoughts are with you. Sometime soon, we’ll celebrate your release.

Thanks for reading. Love each other.

Jul. 30 2010 — 2:45 am | 545 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

The 22 ‘Smart Energy’ cities in America

Columbus, Ohio

Columbus, Ohio. Image by SWolfeNI8W via Flickr

Well, hello, Columbus. ( Click here if you’re not a Philip Roth fan.)

Some people were surprised when Columbus, Ohio, appeared on the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) list of the top twenty-two energy “Smarter Cities,” sharing the spotlight with towns better known for their deep green glow. Places like Portland, Seattle, Boston and San Francisco.

One person who was not surprised was Michael Coleman, mayor of the city that in the 1990s still had the reputation as being just another bleak hole in the Midwestern Rust Belt. Coleman has led efforts to make Columbus a model of energy efficiency, one of the main priorities under a program called “Get Green Columbus.”

The program was already well underway when it received a huge boost from $7.4 million in federal stimulus funds. More than a score of city fire stations and several other city buildings are getting energy efficiency make overs. Businesses and homes are given incentives to lower energy consumption.

Well before the infusion of cash from Washington, Columbus had already completed its first energy efficient affordable housing, called, fittingly, Greenview Estates. The city also developed a recycling program, an initiative clean up air pollution and an infrastructure overhaul to ensure that residents had clean, safe water.

Energy efficiency has been at the core of the Columbus revitalization, however, which is why the NRDC included it as one of the 22 “Smarter Cities” for 2010.

The other cities, grouped by size are -


Austin, TX

Boston, MA

Chicago, IL

Columbus, Ohio

Dallas, TX

El Paso, TX

Long Beach, CA

New York, NY

Oakland, CA

Portland, OR

San Francisco, CA

Seattle, WA


Berkeley, CA

Fort Collins, CO

Huntington Beach, CA

Reno, CA

Springfield, IL

Santa Clarita, CA


Beaverton, OR

Denton, TX

Dubuque, IA

Santa Cruz, CA

To lean more about how the NRDC picked these cities from among 655 considered, visit the Smarter Cities site.

Jul. 29 2010 — 11:09 am | 202 views | 0 recommendations | 3 comments

The Senate climate disaster: GOP vs the future

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 27:  Senate minority Whip...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Score 1 for the Party of ‘No.’

The losers this time, however, aren’t just Democrats or President Obama. By maintaining a united front against a climate bill with teeth — or even a single tooth — the GOP has prevailed over future generations. In one sense, the GOP has achieved paradoxical victory: they’ve won a party-line, non-partisan battle. Paying the price for the GOP-enforced inaction on climate and energy policy will be Republicans and Democrats, Independents and Tea- Partiers, liberals and conservatives. Natural disasters don’t give a hoot about partisan politics.

Little has changed in the 104 years since Ambrose Bierce penned his definition of the Senate: “A body of elderly gentlemen charged with high duties and misdemeanors.”

The latest Senate energy bill, which Reid claims is the best he could get through his chamber, raises the cap on damage payments by oil companies involved in harmful spills and contains billions in financial incentives for home weatherization and natural gas-powered vehicles. But not only does it jettison cap and trade, it doesn’t even contain a renewable energy standard — a set percentage of electricity that must come from renewable sources such as the sun and wind. That’s not just a disappointment to environmentalists; it’s a blow to the stalled renewable power industry.

via Senate’s energy bill: What a disappointment – latimes.com.

Jul. 28 2010 — 3:25 pm | 160 views | 0 recommendations | 4 comments

Arizona now toughest in the nation – on energy efficiency

Bureau of Energy Efficiency

Image via Wikipedia

While the national media are focused on Arizona because of the state’s controversial immigration law, there was virtually no coverage of a momentous leap in an area President Obama himself has declared “sexy.”

I’m talking about Arizona’s adoption, Tuesday, of a toughest-in-the-nation rule on energy efficiency.

The new rules require state-regulated utilities to cut the amount of electricity they sell 22 percent by the year 2020, through a variety of measures that help customers increase energy efficiency. These include rebates for insulating homes, planting shade trees, and buying more efficient air conditioners.

“This is huge,” says Jeff Schlegel, of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “It puts Arizona in a leadership position in energy efficiency across the country.”

The rules, which still need to be approved by the state attorney general’s office, will save Arizona residents $9 billion in reduced utility bills over ten years, according to a study commissioned by SWEEP.

The Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, voted 5-0 in favor of the measure last night.

ACC chairwoman Republican Kris Mayes, who as been called “a rock star” of the solar power movement for her past work making Arizona a leader in renewable energy production, told a local reporter she considers the energy efficiency measure “the most important thing I will ever do in my life.”

Fellow commissioner Democrat Paul Newman, in an email this morning, also stressed the importance of the new rule.

“EE [energy efficiency] is absolutely the cheapest way to reduce power costs, and carbon and toxic emission,” he wrote. “It’s an ambitious goal to be sure, but one that’s achievable and will force Arizona to pull out all the stops to reduce power use.”

Those comments were echoed by what might seem to be an unlikely source: APS, Arizona’s largest utility.

“APS is supportive of the new Energy Efficiency Standard,” said Jim Wontor, manager of the utility’s energy efficiency programs, in an email. “It is aggressive and challenging, but achievable.”

In addition to saving money for costumers, the new rule ultimately benefits the utility, wrote Wontor, by “reducing the cost to APS of meeting the increasing demand for electricity in the future.”

Not all utilities agree. Tucson Electric Power, for example, has objected to the measure it called unreasonable and costly.

SWEEP’s Jeff Schlegel, dismisses those claims. He points, instead, to additional benefits of the new rules:

“This will create 12,000 jobs, mostly in construction. It benefits consumers with lower electric bills, and it’s good for the environment.”

If the program is successful, Schlegel think the Arizona standard will spread to other states, and beyond.

“We hope,” he said, “that Arizona’s lead will have an impact on federal policy.”

Jul. 27 2010 — 4:45 pm | 170 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Poor Tony

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26:  Tony Hayward, the ...

Image by Getty Images Europe via @daylife

Tony Hayward is having a sad day.

You see, BP had to let their CEO go. Even the mutli-million dollar parachute his now-former employer slipped him at the door can’t assuage the pain of getting his life back. But Tony is trying his best to keep a stiff upper lip, in the best British tradition.

Whether his sacking is fair or unfair “is not the point,” he gamely told reporters today, before adding the purely philosophical observation that “life isn’t fair.”

Eschewing the kabuki ritual of publicly taking responsibility for what happened on his watch, Tony cowboyed-up (in his own way) and gave a bluntly honest assessment of what had transpired since that day in April when the Deepwater Horizon well exploded, killing eleven workers, flooding the Gulf of Mexico with a torrent of crude oil and nearly spoiling what had looked to be a promising yachting season.

“Sometimes,” Tony confessed, speaking of his own personal loss in being forced out, “you step off the pavement and get hit by a bus.”

And so, Tony Hayward exits the American stage as he entered it some 99 long days ago: an oily disaster.

Poor Tony. We knew thee well enough.

Mr Hayward, who will make way in October for US citizen and fellow board member Bob Dudley, told reporters he had no major regrets about his leadership of the group since 2007 and that his decision to leave was a purely practical one.

He said: “This is a very sad day for me personally. Whether it is fair or unfair is not the point. I became the public face (of the disaster) and was demonised and vilified. BP cannot move on in the US with me as its leader…”

via BP chief ‘demonised and vilified’ – Mid Sussex Today.

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