Transportation & Infrastructure

Border Chief Just Gave Trump A Brutal Reality Check About His Border Wall (VIDEO)

by Vera – During his presidential campaign, former reality television star Donald Trump received a lot of criticism for his highly controversial (and completely wasteful and illogical) U.S.-Mexican border wall — a concept his supporters latched onto despite the fact that it was shot down by several experts. Just days after officially becoming the 45th President of the United States, Trump is getting another brutal reality check about why this stupid wall won’t work. Now, the outgoing chief of the Customs and Border Protection agency is speaking out against the idea, crushing every racist’s hopes and dreams. In an interview with ABC News’ Brian Ross, border chief Gil Kerlikowske basically said that Trump’s border wall was a massive waste of both time and money, and not a viable solution to tackling illegal immigration. Completely humiliating Trump for being an ill-advised moron, Kerlikowske said: “I think that anyone who’s been familiar with the...

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Israel Approves Permits for 566 Settler Homes

Building plan in East Jerusalem approved by local council after being held up until Donald Trump took office in the US. Israeli authorities have approved building permits for 566 settler homes in occupied East Jerusalem, according to local officials, a move that has drawn condemnation from Palestinian leaders. The approval of the building plan on Sunday came two days after the inauguration of Donald Trump in the United States, with Israeli official saying the permits had been held up until the end of Barack Obama’s administration, which had been critical of Israeli settlement activity. “The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’s arrival as president,” Meir Turgeman, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor, told AFP news agency. “We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build.” Turgeman said that city officials approved the plans that had been previously postponed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s...

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Fiat Chrysler says Trump had Nothing to do with its Jobs Announcement

by Bryce Covert – The company says it has already invested $9.6 billion in the U.S. and created 25,000 jobs since 2009. On Sunday, FCA US, the parent company of Fiat and Chrysler, announced that it will spend $1 billion to expand plants in Michigan and Ohio and create 2,000 more jobs in the U.S. The move, as the company made clear in its press release, is simply the next phase in an expansion plan it announced last year and comes on top of billions of previous investments that created thousands of jobs. “This plan was in the works back in 2015,” Jodi Tinson, a spokeswoman for FCA, told ThinkProgress. “This announcement…was just final confirmation.” When asked directly if it was true that politics and the election had no influence on the announcement, she said, “Correct.” But that didn’t stop President-elect Donald Trump from tweeting about it without that context. “It’s finally...

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Homeland Security Pick, John Kelly, Calls for Border Wall (VIDEO)

The retired marine general says tightening the US border would be his top priority at homeland security secretary. John Kelly, the US President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the department of homeland security, has said tightening the country’s border would be his top priority at his new role. In a questionnaire released on Tuesday ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing, Kelly said achieving that goal starts with “physical obstacles like a border wall and supporting surveillance technologies”. The retired marine general said it also requires constant patrols from federal and local law enforcement. Trump vs America: Presidential conflict of interest? – Counting the Cost Trump has pledged to build a wall on the Mexican border and carry out mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. Deportations reached record levels under President Barack Obama, whose administration deported more than 2.5 million people between 2009 and 2015. A large wall already exists on much of the...

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Ending DACA Will Cost States Billions of Dollars

by Silva Mathema – Since June 2012, more than 752,000 people who came to the United States as children have benefitted from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. This initiative has provided recipients with a temporary reprieve from deportation and renewable work permits. DACA has lessened the barriers for these recipients to reach their full potential—they have been able to secure good jobs, obtain driver’s licenses, and pursue higher education—so that they might better contribute to their communities. A 2016 survey of DACA recipients shows that they work across many different industries ranging from educational and health services to nonprofits. Along with receiving higher wages, DACA recipients are buying cars, homes, and other goods and services to boost local economies. But this quintessential embodiment of the American dream is under attack. During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump threatened to end DACA, along with other executive actions. While it remains to...

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Trump to Cede Millions of High-Wage Jobs to China

by Joe Romm – Beijing will create 13 million jobs by 2020, investing $360 billion in clean energy, while Trump vows to abandon the sector.   Renewable energy jobs in select countries (excluding large hydropower). CREDIT: IRENA China is preparing to go big on the only major new source of sustainable high-wage employment in the coming decades. Beijing’s newest 5-year energy development plan invests a stunning 2.5 trillion yuan ($360 billion) in renewable generation by 2020. Of that, $144 billion will go to solar, about $100 billion to wind, $70 billion to hydropower, and the rest to sources like tidal and geothermal power. The Chinese National Energy Administration said in a statement Thursday the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.” China is already doing way better than the U.S. in this regard, and President-elect Trump’s commitment to opposing clean energy will not make things any better. As the International Renewable...

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Global Economic Realities Confirm, the ‘Future is Not in Fossil Fuels’

by Deirdre Fulton – While oil and gas companies falter, ‘renewable energy has reached a tipping point,’ says World Economic Forum expert. Underscoring the need for a global shift to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds a record number of U.K. fossil fuel companies went bust in 2016 due to falling oil and gas prices. The Independent reported the analysis from accounting firm Moore Stephens which found “16 oil and gas companies went insolvent last year, compared to none at all in 2012.” And the trend was not unique to the U.K.—a year-end bankruptcy report from Texas-based Haynes and Boone LLP showed there have been 232 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and Canadian energy sector since the beginning of 2015. “As the warnings from climate science get stronger, now is the time to realize…that the future is not in fossil fuels,” Dr. Doug Parr of Greenpeace U.K. told The Independent....

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Democrats Aim to Slam Brakes on Key Members of Trump’s “Rigged Cabinet”

by Deirdre Fulton – Tillerson, Sessions, DeVos, and Mnuchin among those set for messy confirmation process. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been warned that Senate Democrats are planning to “aggressively target” eight of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, aiming to delay as long as possible the confirmation hearings slated to start next week. “President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged cabinet with nominees that would break key campaign promises and have made billions off the industries they’d be tasked with regulating,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Sunday reported by the Washington Post. “Any attempt by Republicans to have a series of rushed, truncated hearings before Inauguration Day and before the Congress and public have adequate information on all of them is something Democrats will vehemently resist,” Schumer said. “If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a...

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Netanyahu, Obama, and the United Nations

by Gwynne Dyer – Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is very, very cross about last Friday’s United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the creation of illegal Jewish settlements all over the occupied West Bank and in East Jerusalem. He called in the ambassadors of all the Western countries that voted for the resolution to tell them off: Britain, France, Spain, even New Zealand. He also had the US ambassador on the carpet, although Washington merely abstained in the Security Council vote. But, Netanyahu said, Donald Trump’s incoming administration has promised to fight “an all-out war” against the resolution. The resolution is only words, of course, but they are words that have not found their way into any UN Security Council resolution since 1979, because the United States always used its veto to kill any resolution that contained them. Words that describe the settlements as having “no legal validity” and constituting a...

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Rick Perry Wanted to Eliminate the U.S. Department of Energy: Trump Nominates Him to Head It

by Ronald Bailey – Reform or just substituting fossil fuel crony capitalism for Obama’s renewable energy crony capitalism? Rick Perry, the former Republican Governor of Texas, has been nominated by Donald Trump to head the U.S. Department of Energy. During the 2011 CNBC Republican presidential candidate debate Perry was listing three Federal agencies that he would eliminate were he to become president. Perry said that he would get rid of the Department of Education, and Department of Commerce, but then he faltered, forgetting the third agency he would put on the chopping block. Fellow Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul tried to help him out by suggesting that he should eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. Perry responded that the EPA needed reform, but that it wasn’t the one on his list. Some fifteen minutes later, Perry recalled the agency he’d close down: the Department of Energy. The Washington Post notes that...

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Ensure an Infrastructure Plan Benefits Workers, Not Wall Street

by Rejane Frederick and Angela Hanks – Investing in infrastructure is crucial for the nation’s competitiveness and long-term economic growth. President-elect Donald Trump has indicated that rebuilding America’s infrastructure will be one of his first priorities upon taking office. Unfortunately, the plan he has put on the table would provide enormous tax breaks to elite Wall Street investors instead of real dollars to communities facing significant infrastructure needs. A true 21st century infrastructure plan should create good jobs for all communities while strategically targeting investments to communities that have the highest need for infrastructure investments and job creation. It should create high-quality jobs that enable all families to get ahead, not just get by. And it should prioritize smart, clean investments, such as improving and expanding existing public transportation, modernizing energy infrastructure and water systems, and rebuilding the nation’s crumbling housing stock. Here are three ways to make real infrastructure investments that would...

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Deadly Oakland Fire Was Symptom of Bay Area Housing Crisis: Advocates

by Nadia Prupis – ‘No one should die this way. No one should have to live without proper fire safety measures in their home just to try to make ends meet, just to try to make art, just to be in the city’ The deadly warehouse fire in Oakland, California that claimed the lives of at least 36 people at a Friday night dance party was a symptom of the Bay Area’s massive housing crisis, artists and advocates are saying. The Fruitvale-area warehouse, known as Ghost Ship, was a live-work space that supported underground artists and provided makeshift residences for people priced out of rapidly gentrifying Bay Area cities. It lacked basic fire safety mechanisms, which came into play on Friday as the blaze broke out at the electronic music party and engulfed the building, blocking the main escape path—a rickety staircase—and quickly becoming what may be the deadliest structural fire...

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Carson, Who Called Fair Housing a ‘Failed Social Experiment,’ Tapped to Run HUD

by Lauren McCauley – Under Dr. Ben Carson, ‘millions of low-income Americans and residents of color could stand to lose critical protections and housing resources’. Dr. Ben Carson, the former Republican presidential candidate who once called fair housing a “failed socialist experiment,” on Monday was officially nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to head the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Poverty and rights organizations are concerned, particularly given the retired neurosurgeon’s lack of experience in the area, as well as his politicized view of many of the programs he would be charged with overseeing. “Under Carson, millions of low-income Americans and residents of color could stand to lose critical protections and housing resources,” warns a call-to-action put forth by the Campaign for American Progress. In particular, a 2015 Obama administration rule that was passed to address systemic racial and income neighborhood segregation, known as the “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing”...

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How Donald Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Fails America

by Kevin DeGood – “Wisdom, itself, is often an abstraction associated not with fact or reality but with the man who asserts it and the manner of its assertion.” — John Kenneth Galbraith1 Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump boasted frequently and with great vigor that he would rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure as part of his pledge to make America great again. This claim turns out to be as bankrupt as many of his businesses. In the place of actual federal spending on critical projects, President-elect Trump has pushed the idea of authorizing a pool of tax credits that would flow to equity investors in large public-private partnership, or P3, deals. These project debts would be repaid by tolls and other fees levied on the people and businesses that use the new facilities.2 The plan suffers from five fatal flaws: The plan would push state and local governments to use...

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Indigenous Resolve ‘Stronger Than Ever’ as Feds Order DAPL Protest Camp Shut Down

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘If the Army Corps tears down this protest camp hundreds more will spring up in its place,’ says filmmaker Josh Fox. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday informed Indigenous water protectors and their allies that they have nine days to vacate the main Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp—or else face arrest. “This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontation between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions,” Col. John Henderson of the Corps said in a letter to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II. The Oceti Sakowin camp, on the banks of the Cannonball River, will be closed Monday, December 5, the letter warned. Any individuals found on Army land north of the river...

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Veterans Plan “Deployment” to Join Water Protectors’ Battle Against DAPL

by Nika Knight – “Let’s stop this savage injustice being committed right here at home. If not us, who? If not now, when?” Over 1,000 U.S. military veterans are planning to “deploy” to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and peacefully support the water protectors’ fight against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. “If we’re going to be heroes, if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do when we took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.” —Michael Wood Jr., Veterans Stand for Standing Rock“We are calling for our fellow veterans to assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation on Dec 4-7 and defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police...

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Obama Administration Blocks Oil Drilling in the Arctic Ocean and off the Atlantic Coast

by Samantha Page – The new five-year plan protects parts of U.S. oceans until 2022. The Obama administration finalized its plans for offshore drilling on Friday, protecting much of the Arctic Ocean and all of the Atlantic coast, but staying the course on Gulf of Mexico drilling. Environmentalists applauded the new five-year plan from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which covers offshore leasing from 2017 to 2022 and is slightly stronger than its draft iterations. The Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska have been removed, with only a reduced parcel in the Cook Inlet near southern Alaska remaining. “We are hopeful that this announcement will help chart a new course forward in the Arctic Ocean,” Jacqueline Savitz, a senior vice president at Oceana, said in an emailed statement. “Companies have been given every opportunity to find oil and have failed at every turn because of the extreme conditions and limited...

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Trump Voters: Here’s What You’ve Won

by Jon Perr – So a former reality TV star won the 2016 presidential election on Nov. 8th. While deeply disturbing, that victory by Donald Trump was somehow altogether fitting. After all, as research from Harvard revealed, throughout the 2016 election cycle “policy issues nearly absent in presidential campaign ‘coverage.'”  Even during the four weeks surrounding the parties’ nominating conventions, policy stories represented only 8 percent of the media coverage surveyed (13 percent for Trump and only a paltry 4 percent for Hillary Clinton). Instead, scandals, gaffes, unexpected revelations, horse race coverage and other “medialities” represented more than two-thirds of the reporting from the 10 media sources studied. Ultimately, the “policy-free” 2016 election was a lot like the first season of CBS reality game show Survivor: the surprise winner was Richard Hatch, an off-putting, conniving white guy few viewers liked—and even fewer trusted. Now that Clinton has been voted off the island, the...

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What Trump Promised America, Specifically

by Josh Israel – The country will try it his way. Here’s what we’ve been asked to expect from his presidency. In his first speech as president-elect, Donald Trump pledged to “ be president for all Americans” and to work with supporters and critics alike to “unify our great country.” Now that it is apparent that — likely without a plurality of the votes — the nation has selected him to lead the country, it will now be up to him to deliver on his promises to “make America great again.” With GOP majorities in both houses of Congress for at least the next two years and what will likely be a friendly Supreme Court, Americans will now see what happens trying things his way. Here is what the Trump administration must now deliver to keep his promises: Bringing back jobs Trump’s acceptance speech promised “millions of new jobs.” He later put a number on...

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Pennsylvania Pipelines Bursts, Leaks 55,000 Gallons Of Gas Into One Of US’ Most Endangered Rivers

by Whitney Webb – A pipeline owned by the same company behind Dakota Access leaked 55,000 gallons of gasoline into a major river, endangering the drinking water of six million people. A pipeline managed by Sunoco logistics burst Thursday night after heavy rainfall in Pennsylvania. The spill dumped 55,000 gallons of gasoline into Wallis Run, a tributary of the Loyalsock Creek that drains into the Susquehanna River. The breach was detected at 3 am when the pressure of the pipeline dropped significantly, leading Sunoco to shut down the pipeline. Though the pipeline has been shut down, the heavy rains that led to the leak are expected to continue, so the actual break in the pipeline will remain unidentified until the weather clears. The Pennsylvania water authorities have warned customers to refrain from using water from the river as a precaution. No official data has been released regarding how long the...

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BUSTED: Donald Trump Screwed Over American Steel Workers By Buying Metal From China Instead

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Donald Trump claims he will “make America great again,” but what he really means is he will continue helping China destroy America. In yet another example of how Trump has screwed over American workers in order to enrich himself and his own family, Newsweek has revealed that the Republican nominee purchased steel and other metals from China to use in the construction of his buildings instead of buying it from American companies. “A Newsweek investigation has found that in at least two of Trump’s last three construction projects, Trump opted to purchase his steel and aluminum from Chinese manufacturers rather than United States corporations based in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin,” Kurt Eichenwald wrote. Eichenwald painstakingly discovered that Trump built his Trump International Hotel Las Vegas by ditching American steel companies in favor of cheaper steel produced by Chinese companies who pay their...

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Louisiana Flood Relief Worker Rips Donald Trump For Doing Nothing To Help Victims

by Stephen D Foster Jr – All Donald Trump did is unload some play-doh for a photo-op in flood ravaged Louisiana instead of doing anything tangible to help. And he just got shredded for it. Trump traveled to the state this week in order to boast that he somehow cares about the flood victims because President Obama and Hillary Clinton have yet to make the trip down. However, that’s only because Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards asked them not to come because first responders are still rescuing people and their arrival would only divert effort and resources away from those who need it. Trump, however, doesn’t care about anyone but himself so he visited anyway. Edwards said that Trump is welcome but he has to volunteer or write a check to help victims. But Trump barely did anything at all, and he certainly didn’t write a check. Neva Butkus is...

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Republicans Killed Hundreds of Jobs and Stole Nearly $1 Billion from Milwaukee’s Central City

by Windtalker – I’m writing this in response to Donald Trump’s speech to the exurban, white crowd in West Bend, Wisconsin, yesterday about the problems in Milwaukee’s largely black central city. Scott Walker sat there like a lump. That’s because he is a lump when it comes to creating jobs in Milwaukee. To wit… Several years ago, Milwaukee had a fantastic plan to: 1) create hundreds of jobs in the central city; 2) create thousands of jobs across the state; 3) build a high-tech factory in the central city that could attract other businesses;  and 4) build part of a high-speed rail system that would connect Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett, Democratic Governor Jim Doyle and area business leaders applied for and received a federal grant for over $800 to carry out the project. It was a very big deal! With help from the City of Milwaukee, the Talgo...

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Housing, Race, And Police Stops: The Backstory To Philando Castile’s Killing

by  BRYCE COVERT – Last week, the internet watched a Facebook live video of Philando Castile’s death after he was shot by police during a routine traffic stop for a broken tail light. His killing took place in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, a St. Paul suburb nestled between the region’s white suburban enclaves and areas where the minority population is quickly rising — a racial and economic border where aggressive police encounters are much more common. Castile was pulled over in a place that is rapidly segregating by race, a phenomenon afflicting many American cities but is relatively new to this area. “In the Twin Cities, it’s particularly sad, because 20 years ago we were one of the most integrated places in the country,” said Myron Orfield, director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota Law School. “And the last 20 years we’ve segregated really fast.” Orfield’s...

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The Next Apple? Why Tesla’s Model 3 Had $12 Billion In Presales In 3 Days

by JOE ROMM – “Will Tesla be the next Apple … or will Apple be the next Tesla?” I asked back In September. For now it’s clear Tesla has pulled off an Apple-style product launch with the remarkable pre-sales success of Tesla’s Model 3 electric car. Demand for the Model 3 was so great that Tesla’s $1000 pre-sales down payment brought the company $276 million in its first weekend. That’s bigger than the mere $248 million in sales brought in by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in its opening weekend! The staggering pre-sales of the Tesla Model 3 electric car seems to have caught everyone by surprise, including CEO Elon Musk, who arguably should have asked for more than $1000 down — especially since that money is refundable until Tesla starts building your car. “Tesla’s Model 3 Preorder Numbers Are Way Bigger Than Anyone Expected,” explained Gizmodo, noting that one “survey...

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Flights Resume at Brussels Airport After Terror Attacks

First passenger flight headed to Portugal as airport opens 12 days after bombings killed 32 in Belgian capital A passenger flight headed to Faro, Portugal, took off from Brussels Airport on Sunday, the first passenger flight to depart from the airport 12 days after suicide bombings killed more than 30 people in the Belgian capital. According to the airport’s website, flights to Turin and Athens were also due to take off later in the day, with a longer list of departing flights scheduled for Monday. Belgium’s biggest airport should be back to about 20 percent capacity from Monday and able to process 800 passengers an hour, Arnaud Feist, the CEO of Brussels Airport Co, said earlier. The airport has been closed since March 22, after suicide bombings hit the airport’s departure hall and a Brussels subway train, killing 32 people and wounding 270. Feist called it “a sign of...

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GOP Senator says no Federal Funding Needed, Stops $100 Million in Emergency Funding for Flint Water

by Walter Einenkel – Senator Mike Lee from Utah has decided that a good way to make a (grand)stand on the “federalization” of water infrastructure is to keep emergency funds away from American citizens whose water supply has been poisoned by incompetent Republican lawmakers. Michigan has an enormous budget surplus this year and a large rainy-day fund,” Lee said. “Relief and repair efforts are already in the works. The people and policymakers of Michigan right now have all the government resources they need to fix the problem. … The only thing Congress is contributing to the Flint recovery is political grandstanding.”  Stabenow, who worked with Peters for weeks to secure a group of Republican and Democratic cosponsors for the legislation, expressed surprise that Lee has placed a hold on the measure, which effectively keeps the Senate from voting on it, even though it is fully paid for. Lee is blocking a...

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Why 175 Oil And Gas Companies Could Go Bankrupt This Year

by KATIE VALENTINE – About a third of U.S. oil and gas production and exploration companies are at high risk of going bankrupt in 2016, according to a new report. The report, published Tuesday by consulting and business services firm Deloitte, looked at more than 500 oil and natural gas exploration and production companies worldwide. It found that 175 of the companies — or nearly 35 percent — were at high risk of going bankrupt, due largely to low oil prices. Together, these companies have more than $150 billion in debt. “2016 will be the year of hard decisions. We could see bankruptcies surpass Great Recession levels as companies struggle to remain solvent,” John England, vice chairman and U.S. oil and gas sector leader for Deloitte, said in a statement. “Access to capital markets, bankers’ support and derivatives protection, which helped smooth an otherwise rocky road for...

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When Government ‘Saves Money’ And Gets ‘Smaller,’ We All Lose

by Dave Johnson – Many say we should “run government like a business” and “save money” by “cutting spending” and “making government smaller.” Does this work? Do We the People really save money by doing these things? Have you heard the phrase “penny-wise and pound-foolish”? How about “a stitch in time saves nine”? Maybe “eating the seed corn?” When government “saves money,” all of these snippets of time-honored wisdom, warning of what happens to those who try to “do it on the cheap,” should come to mind. Infrastructure You can “save money” by not changing the oil in your car. But have you ever seen a car that has never had its oil changed? After a while white smoke pours out the back because the rings are ruined. Other parts of the engine are also being ruined. Eventually the engine will seize up and quit and you have to either...

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Hundreds Of Union Plumbers Spent The Weekend Installing Water Filters For Flint Residents For Free

by JUDD LEGUM – Due to the inaction of state and federal officials, thousands of people in Flint have been exposed to unsafe levels of lead in their water. Now a group of union plumber are taking matters into their own hands. On Saturday, 300 plumbers from unions across the country descended on Flint to install new faucets and water filters for free. Many Flint residents needed new faucets because their existing faucets were so old they could not accommodate water filters provided by the state. The effort was coordinated by the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry, known as the United Association. The fixtures were donated by the Plumbing Manufacturers International. For some in Flint, however, even new faucets with modern water filters won’t be enough to fully abate the lead contamination. New tests released recently revealed that, in some Flint homes,...

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The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Aspects Of Obama’s Latest Presidential Report Card

by BOB CESCA – With President Obama’s final State of the Union address is receding into history, FactCheck.org has released its presidential report card for January, and the news is mostly positive for the administration. –Homicides have dropped 13 percent, but gun sales have surged. –The economy has added more than 9 million jobs, and the jobless rate has dropped to below the historical median. –The number of long-term unemployed Americans has dropped by 614,000 under Obama, but it is still 761,000 higher than at the start of the Great Recession. –Corporate profits are up 166 percent; real weekly wages are up 3.4 percent. –There are 15 million fewer people who lack health insurance. –Wind and solar power have nearly tripled, and now account for more than 5 percent of U.S. electricity. –The federal debt has more than doubled — rising 116 percent — and big annual deficits have continued....

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Behind Hillary Clinton’s $250 Billion Infrastructure Plan

by KIRA LERNER – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced on Monday her plan to spend $250 billion over five years to improve the nation’s infrastructure, a plan that could create 3.25 million jobs, according to government projections. The plan — which includes proposals to improve roads and bridges, transit systems, energy systems, and electric grids — is the first phase of Clinton’s month-long focus on jobs. In addition to a $250 billion federal investment, her plan calls for establishing a $25 billion national infrastructure bank to encourage private investments. The campaign said the proposals will be paid for through business tax reforms. “Investing in infrastructure makes our economy more productive and competitive across the board,” she said when previewing the plan in Boston on Sunday. “It cuts costs for families and businesses. It spurs more private investment. It boosts wages up and down the supply chain and throughout the...

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TransCanada Asks State Department To Suspend Review Process For Keystone XL Pipeline

by KATIE VALENTINE – Canadian oil company TransCanada has asked the State Department to suspend the review process for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. The company announced Monday that it had sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, asking him to pause the permit application review process for the tar sands pipeline. “We are asking State to pause its review of Keystone XL based on the fact that we have applied to the Nebraska Public Service Commission for approval of its preferred route in the state,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “I note that when the status of the Nebraska pipeline route was challenged last year, the State Department found it appropriate to suspend its review until that dispute was resolved. We feel under the current circumstances a similar suspension would be appropriate.” In the letter, TransCanada notes that an ongoing...

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Ford Motor Just Called Out Trump For Being The Liar He Is, And It’s Magnificent (TWEETS)

by SARAH – When it comes to people who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and those who are egomaniacs, they tend to think that the world revolves around them. They see anything bad as another person’s fault, and anything good, they take full credit. For instance, if Donald Trump starts to slip in the polls, it’s obviously the dumb voters in that state who don’t realize he’s the cat’s pajamas. Or say if Fox News says something bad about him – well, then, they’re just stupid and have no clue what they’re talking about. So, in turn, he takes his ball and goes home saying he never wants to see them again. However, just like when people give a whining child what they want, they come back, and come back with a vengeance as if their shit doesn’t stink. Recently, Trump seems to think he can take credit for a number...

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Donald Trump Thinks Kelo-Style Eminent Domain is ‘a wonderful thing’

by Matt Welch – Donald Trump was asked by Fox News anchor Bret Baier, “What do you think of eminent domain?” Here was the GOP frontrunner’s answer: I think eminent domain is wonderful, if you’re building a highway, and you need to build, as an example, a highway, and you’re going to be blocked by a holdout, or, in some cases, it’s a holdout—just so you understand, nobody knows this better than I do, because I built a lot of buildings in Manhattan, and you’ll have 12 sites and you’ll get 11 and you’ll have the one holdout and you end up building around them and everything else, okay? So, I know it better than anybody. I think eminent domain for massive projects, for instance, you’re going to create thousands of jobs, and you have somebody that’s in the way, and you pay that person far more—don’t forget, eminent domain, they...

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In Win for KXL Opponents, ‘Desperate’ TransCanada Shifts Strategy

by Deirdre Fulton – Bold Nebraska calls development ‘a major victory for Nebraska landowners who refused to back down in the face of bullying by a foreign oil company.’ In a move that environmental activists and local landowners hope puts another nail in the Keystone XL coffin, pipeline giant TransCanada announced it will withdraw lawsuits seeking to gain access to the property of landowners who oppose the project. Jane Kleeb, director of the advocacy group Bold Nebraska, called the decision “a major victory for Nebraska landowners who refused to back down in the face of bullying by a foreign oil company.” In a press statement on Wednesday, the pipeline giant said it was switching course and would file an application with the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) to seek approval for the Keystone XL route through the state—an approach it previously tried to avoid. The company said it is withdrawing its current...

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Volkswagen Blames Emissions-Cheating Scandal on Low-Level Technicians

by Sarah Lazare – Dodging responsibility, VW CEO and other leaders point fingers at ‘engineers and technicians involved in engine development’ Top-ranking Volkswagen officials on Friday cast blame for the company’s large-scale diesel emissions-fixing scandal on a small number of unidentified and relatively low-level engineers and technicians. In public statements issued at the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, new CEO Matthias Müller condemned the “unlawful behavior of engineers and technicians involved in engine development.” Müller, former head of Porsche, took over after Martin Winterkorn resigned from the position of CEO earlier this week claiming he is “not aware” of any wrongdoing on his part. The company built a software “defeat device” that allowed cars to cheat on emissions control tests and spew up to 40 times the level of pollutants legally permitted. The scandal is now known to have affected 11 million cars worldwide. Echoing Müller, other high-ranking officials publicly condemned...

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Fearing Blow to Corporate Trade Deal, Auto Industry Buried Car Safety Report

by Deirdre Fulton – Observers have pointed out that ‘cars form a big part of the EU’s case for TTIP’ For fear of sabotaging the corporate-friendly TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the U.S. and European Union, the car industry buried a report showing major discrepancies between the safety records of U.S. and EU vehicles, according to exclusive reporting in The Independent on Wednesday. Citing a leaked version of the analysis (pdf), which has since been “quietly posted on the University of Michigan’s website,” reporter Paul Gallagher wrote: The major study was commissioned by the car industry to show that existing EU and U.S. safety standards were broadly similar. But the research actually established that American models are much less safe when it comes to  front-side collisions, a common cause of accidents that often result in serious injuries. The findings were never submitted – or publicly announced – by the...

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‘Uninhabitable’: UN Report says Total Destruction of Gaza Nearly Complete

by Jon Queally – Under constant threat of war and a devastating economic blockade, occupied territory is being ‘de-developed’ – a process by which development is not merely hindered but reversed Citing a series of vicious military attacks in recent years coupled with severe shortages of water, medical supplies, and shelter created by an internationally-backed blockade, a new report issued by the United Nations warns that if current trends continue the Gaza Strip will be virtually “uninhabitable” within five years. Home to approximately 1.8 million people, Gaza is often referred to the largest open-air prison in the world and the latest report, published by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), is just the latest official assessment (pdf) to paint a devastating picture of life inside the sealed borders of Gaza which has now faced eight years of economic blockade and three large-scale military operations by Israel since 2009. According...

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World’s First Solar Powered Airport Has Arrived

By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch – If you’ve been tracking Solar Impulse 2, the solar airplane circumnavigating the globe, then you will be excited to hear this news: the Cochin International Airport in the southern state of Kerala, India is officially the world’s first airport thats runs exclusively on solar power. The entire facility is “absolutely power neutral”—meaning it creates just as much energy as it consumes, according to a statement from the airport. The airport just launched a 12 megawatt solar power plant earlier this week made up of more than 46,000 solar panels laid across 45 acres. This capacity should allow the airport to generate 50,000 to 60,000 thousand units of electricity per day, which is just over what the airport consumes in a typical day. That is no small feat for India’s fourth largest international airport in terms of passenger traffic. It’s terminal space — 1.5 million square feet — is about the same...

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NYC’s LaGuardia Airport to Receive $4 Billion Redesign

By Adam Williams, Gizmag – New York City’s much-maligned LaGuardia Airport is to receive a significant redesign, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has revealed. The redesign will totally change the airport’s existing layout in favor of a new unified terminal, at an estimated total cost of US$4 billion. Originally constructed back in 1939, LaGuardia has been widely criticized in recent years as outdated and over-capacity. The new plans call for the airport to be moved closer to the Grand Central Parkway and for Terminal B to be completely demolished in favor of a larger terminal building. This terminal will be physically linked to existing Delta Air Lines Terminals C and D (each of which are also due for renovation), creating one unified space. Terminal A, the Marine Air Terminal, will also be better integrated. The redesigned airport will boast a larger taxiway and improved transportation links, including a direct...

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Chris Christie’s Tunnel Tango

What happened to the money after the New Jersey governor killed a new commuter rail tunnel five years ago? By Cezary Podkul, ProPublica – When we wrote in April about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s budget “sins,” one of the biggest was the money shuffle he engineered after his 2010 decision to kill an $8.7 billion commuter rail tunnel from New Jersey to New York City. That decision, which boosted him to national prominence, was a major bragging point for years. But now he’s playing tunnel defense rather than his customary offense amid a torrent of terrible tunnel news: lengthy delays in the century-old rail tunnel commuters are stuck with now; jockeying among New Jersey, New York and Amtrak over how to pay for a new $14 billion tunnel; and warnings of chronic failures and shutdowns if something isn’t done soon to add rail capacity. Had Christie not spiked...

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These are the Fastest Production Cars of Every Decade

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience – Cars have revolutionized the world we live in, and fast cars have fascinated people from the start – often times for no real reason other than fame and glory. But for whatever reason, we like fast cars – so let’s learn a bit more about them. Here’s a list of the fastest cars, decade by decade 1880-1889 | Horse carriage | 10-30 mph (16-48 km/h) I know, I know, this is not a car, it’s a horse-drawn carriage – but we needed a reference point. This is the Benz Motorwagen, one of the sleekest carriages ever. There’s no definite maximum speed for carriages, but since bred horses can reach some 40 mph free, it seems safe to say that 30 mph should be the top speed with the weight of the carriage and the passengers. Now, let’s move on to some real cars! 1890-1899...

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Swincar Tilting 4-Wheel-Drive ‘Spider Car’ Makes Light Work of Bizarre Terrain

By Loz Blain, Gizmag – We love our tilting vehicles here at Gizmag, but we’ve never seen anything quite like the Swincar Spider before. It’s a remarkable tilting 4-wheeler concept that boasts absolutely ridiculous rough terrain capabilities. Each wheel has its own electric hub motor and is independently suspended on a spider-like limb. The result is a vehicle that leans into fast turns like a motorcycle, but can also happily go up or down a 70-percent gradient, ride across a 50-percent gradient that puts the left wheels a couple of feet higher than the right ones, or ride diagonally through ditches that send the wheels going up and down all over the place like a spider doing leg stretches. It looks absolutely bonkers. Frenchmen Pascal Rambaud, Jerome Arsac and Thierry James have been working away on their bizarre all-terrain vehicle for some eight years now. It now looks almost...

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Airbus Patents Design for Mach 4-plus Supersonic Jet

By David Szondy, Gizmag – If there’s one area where the 21st century has gone backwards technologically, it’s in supersonic passenger flight. With the grounding of the Concorde fleets in 2003, flying faster than the speed of sound reverted to a military monopoly, but that hasn’t kept engineers from trying for a revival. Now Airbus’ Marco Prampolini and Yohann Coraboeuf have been granted a US patent for an “ultra-rapid air vehicle” designed to fly at 20 km (12.4 mi) higher than conventional aircraft and over four times the speed of sound – twice the speed of Concorde. Even in its heyday, civilian supersonic flight held on by the skin of its teeth. Concorde may have carried the wealthy and glamorous across the Atlantic in under three hours, but only 20 were ever built after an Anglo-French development program in the 1960s that was compared to the Apollo Moon landings...

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At Stockholm Arlanda Airport, The Weather Abroad Comes to You

By Stu Robarts, Gizmag – Have you ever wished you could change the weather to be more like somewhere else in the world? Well, travelers at Stockholm Arlanda Airport in Sweden can now experience just that. The airport’s new Climate Portal simulates the weather from other locations in real time. The Climate Portal houses three separate rooms, each of which hosts the conditions of a different location around the world. The rooms are themed around the concepts of “hot,” “cold” and “big.” An example of a hot location might be a one of the world’s deserts, while a cold location might be in some snowy mountains and a big location might be one of the world’s big cities. To recreate the weather conditions of a location in real time, the Climate Portal units are connected to several online weather services that monitor weather stations around the world. That data...

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Human Error, Inadequate Training Blamed for SpaceShipTwo Crash

By David Szondy, Gizmag – The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released the conclusions of its accident investigation into the crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo last year over the Mojave Desert. According to the report, the accident was due to an error by the co-pilot, who prematurely released the spacecraft’s feather system, placing too much stress on the fuselage and causing it to break up. At about 10:07 PDT on October 31, 2014, SpaceShipTwo (SS2-001) broke up in midair 13 seconds after being dropped from the WhiteKnightTwo mothership, resulting in the death of the co-pilot Michael Alsbury and severe injury to the pilot, Peter Siebold, who was thrown clear as the craft disintegrated. It was the 55th test flight and fourth powered flight of the suborbital spacecraft built by Scaled Composites, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Northrop Grumman Corporation, for Virgin Galactic. The spacecraft uses a hybrid...

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As Rent Skyrockets, More Cities Look to Cap It

By Teresa Wiltz, Stateline – The city council in Richmond, California, voted last week to cap how much rent landlords could charge tenants in the San Francisco Bay Area city where rents have increased an estimated 30 percent over the last four years. In Seattle, where tenant activists say some renters complain their rent has increased by as much as 150 percent, two city council members last week hosted a packed town hall meeting to debate whether to impose rent controls — a move that could put the city at odds with the state. Similar proposals to limit what landlords can charge each month are emerging in other California cities, such as Lafayette City and Alameda, as the price of rental housing skyrockets nationally amid greater demand and flat wages. “Rents are higher than they’ve ever been. Wages are declining. There’s a huge, huge gap between wages and housing costs,”...

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Drama Finally Settled, the House Set to Pass a Highway Bill

by Joan McCarter – Nothing motivates Congress like impending recess, particularly when that recess is five weeks long. So the House will vote Wednesday on that one thing they absolutely had to get done this week: yet another short-term funding bill for highway and surface transportation projects. This is after more than a week of drama in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House leadership have been racing to see who could jam up the other first. House Speaker John Boehner won. The fight over highways has split Senate and House Republican leaders, with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) saying his chamber would not consider the six-year highway bill crafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).But on Tuesday, Republicans in both chambers sought to get on the same page, arguing that they all backed a long-term highway bill. Republicans in both chambers said passing the three-month bill would...

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OSHA Chief: Accidents Reflect Lax Safety Culture in Texas

By Jim Malewitz, Texas Tribune – Federal regulators have slapped three construction firms with nearly $800,000 in total penalties, saying the companies “put workers in tremendous danger” in Houston-area accidents that highlighted a lax safety culture that extends across Texas. “More construction workers in Texas die on the job than in any other state,” David Michaels, who heads the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), told reporters Wednesday. “Workers are not being given adequate protection.” Michaels was announcing thousands of dollars in proposed fines after the agency wrapped up investigations at two Houston-area construction sites where workers were seriously injured and “could have easily died,” he said. In February, an 8-foot trench collapsed at an excavation site in Richmond, Texas, burying an employee for Hassell Construction Company. His colleagues dug him out with their bare hands just before the trench collapsed again. The worker was sent to the hospital...

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Plastic Road Surface Might be Streets Ahead of Asphalt

By Nick Lavars, Gizmag – Asphalt covers more than 94 percent of the paved streets in the US, but have we gone down the wrong road with our choice of building material? Dutch firm VolkerWessels thinks so and has unveiled plans for roads crafted from recycled plastic, claiming the approach would significantly cut construction and maintenance time, as well as extend their expected lifespan. VolkerWessels details a long list of potential benefits of pure plastic roads. First up, it is claimed the road could better withstand extreme temperatures, as low as -40° C (-40° F) and as high as 80° C (176° F). It would also be more resistant to corrosion and last three times as long as asphalt, while minimizing the need for maintenance (otherwise known as pesky roadworks and detours). Because sections of the road could be prefabricated and installed on sand in a single piece, the...

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Republicans Want To Take Money From The Elderly And Injured To Pay For Roads

by JUSTIN ROSARIO – It takes a pair of brass ones to tell the American people that some of the ways we should pay to fix our crumbling roads and bridges is to take money away from Social Security, people’s retirements and money spent on the disabled. But if you’re Mitch McConnell and the Republicans, the message for everyone not in the 1% is “Fuck you”: Senate Republicans have floated a package of options to fund a multi-year extension of the Highway Trust Fund that includes a controversial change to federal employee retirement plans, according to a list obtained by The Washington Post. The total package of spending cuts and program changes would raise about $80 billion, enough to pay for between three to four years of federal funding for road, bridge and transit projects while fulfilling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise to introduce a long-term highway bill this...

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Facebook to Power New Data Center With 100% Wind Energy

By Stefanie Spear, EcoWatch – Facebook announced Wednesday that it will power a new data center in Texas with 100 percent wind energy. Facebook has also committed to setting a new goal of powering its operations with 50 percent renewable energy by the end of 2018. “Thanks to our continued focus on efficiency and our investments in renewables in recent years, the carbon impact of one person’s use of Facebook for an entire year is the same as the carbon impact of a medium latte,” according to Tom Furlong, vice president of infrastructure at Facebook. “Facebook’s new goal of using 50 percent renewable energy and commitment to powering its Texas data center with clean wind power demonstrates the kind of transparency needed to show that it is making steady progress toward its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy,” said David Pomerantz, Greenpeace senior climate and energy campaigner. Facebook is not the only leader in transitioning its data centers to...

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Bernie Sanders’ Plan To Make Solar Power More Accessible

By ARI PHILLIPS, ThinkProgress – On Tuesday, Vermont Senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders introduced legislation aimed at making it easier for low-income families to take advantage of solar power. The bill, called the “Low Income Solar Act,” came the same day that the Obama Administration announced a similar program aimed at installing 300 megawatts of renewable energy in federally subsidized housing by 2020. The Sanders bill would aid in this effort by providing $200 million in Department of Energy loans and grants to help offset the upfront costs associated with installing solar panels on community facilities, public housing and low-income family homes, according to a press release. The projects would also have to prioritize loans for female- and minority-owned businesses, as well as target specific regions including Appalachia, Indian tribal lands, and Alaskan native communities. “The scientific community tells us very clearly if we’re going to reverse...

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Colorado Pot Shops Are Saving The State In Yet One More Way

By WENDY GITTLESON, Addicting Info – While the U.S. will have spent between $4 and $6 trillion dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and while Republicans are pushing for more war here at home, our roads, bridges, trains and all the other forms of infrastructure are crumbling – because we’re too broke to fix them, or something. Republicans don’t tend to fret much over the fact that the nation is crumbling. They simply think that citizens should pay it as a sort of sales tax for everything we buy instead of a direct tax. In other words, corporations should pay for infrastructure out of their profits, which come from us. Or, it doesn’t get fixed until there’s a disaster. No matter what, we pay and like I said, Republicans are fine with that. One business in Colorado is picking up the slack and Republicans may not be happy about it,...

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Kepler Energy Reveals Plans for Tidal Energy Scheme in Bristol Channel

By David Szondy, Gizmag – According to some estimates, if the tides that flow in and out of the Bristol Channel could be properly harnessed, they could supply up to five percent of Britain’s energy needs. It’s a challenge that has attracted engineers for over a century, but while on paper there’s a tremendous amount of energy waiting to be tapped, a viable plan of how to actually go about it has proven elusive. The main stumbling block is the nature of tidal power technology. Most conventional systems rely on horizontal axis turbines. This is like an underwater wind turbine and, like its terrestrial counterparts, it has severe limitations as to where it can be placed and under what conditions it can generate a practical amount of energy without ripping itself apart. Larger outputs require larger blades, which is a tricky enough problem with wind turbines, but water turbines...

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Growing Underground Farms Greens in Forgotten Tunnels Below London

By Stu Robarts, Gizmag – The “world’s first underground urban farm” is set to start selling herbs and salads grown 33 m (108 ft) below the streets of London. Growing Underground is based in disused World War II tunnels. At less than two miles from the city-center, it promises farm-to-fork produce in less than four hours. Growing Underground is the brainchild of West Country entrepreneurs Richard Ballard and Steven Dring and has been developed in partnership with Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr. It was conceived as a means of producing local and environmentally friendly high-quality produce, with the disused tunnels providing the ideal location. The tunnels are located below London’s Northern Line underground rail link in the Clapham area of the city and were previously used as a bomb shelter for residents. The site currently being used was able to accommodate 8,000 people when needed. Now it provides a steady...

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Japanese Company Repurposes Golf Course into Huge Solar Power Plant

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience – Environmentalists and planners have often argued against golf courses (especially abandoned golf courses), considering them a waste of space and resources, and for good reason. Golf courses cover huge areas of ground which could be used for something more productive. Now, Japanese company Kyocera is building a huge solar power plant on such an abandoned course. With lots of sunny exposure and little shade, abandoned golf courses in both Kyoto and Kagoshima Prefectures will soon host two new solar power plants with a combined capacity of 115MW. Together, they will provide enough energy to power some 35,000 houses. “Solar can provide a particularly productive and environmentally friendly use for defunct golf courses, which are characterized by expansive land mass, high sun exposure, and a low concentration of shade trees,” Kyocera said in an announcement yesterday. Overdevelopment of golf properties during the real-estate boom of the 1990’s and...

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States Eye Investments in Low-Carbon and Resilient Energy, Transportation Infrastructure

By Cathleen Kelly, Center for American Progress – Ask 50 governors or 100 mayors or 1,000 city council members to name their biggest challenges in serving their constituents and it’s a safe bet that a lack of money will top the list. Across the country, state and local leaders face budget shortfalls that, in some cases, are preventing them from accomplishing even the most basic tasks, from repairing roads, to training first responders, adequately maintaining schools, and providing critical social services. The need to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure looms large. In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America’s aging energy and public transit infrastructure grades of D+ and D, respectively. In the nation’s first Quadrennial Energy Review, or QER, released in April 2015, federal energy experts highlight the growing vulnerability of the nation’s electrical grid to extreme weather and terrorist threats and the need for public and...

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Amid Drought and Flooding, States and Localities Look to Harness the Rain

By Sarah Breitenbach, Stateline – As drought grips California, floods overpower Texas and Eastern cities grapple with crumbling sewers that pump contaminated runoff into waterways, state and local governments are revisiting how they get, use and manage water. One method is to harness the rain. Some governments are doing this through massive systems that treat and pump stormwater back to residents, while others are looking to the installation of rain collection systems for homes and businesses. A few cities are introducing green infrastructure designed to put water back into the ground rather than letting it flow down the street. Sally Brown, an associate professor at the University of Washington, said the last time governments spent significant amounts of money on water issues was after the Clean Water Act in the 1970s, when they had to change how they treated water and wastewater. Today, environmental factors coupled with water availability...

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Scotland Got Half Its Electricity From Renewables In 2014

By ARI PHILLIPS, ThinkProgress – New data from the Scottish government shows that the country generated 49.8 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2014, effectively meeting its target of generating half of electricity demand from clean sources by the end of this year. The milestone means the 50 percent target was met a year early, with overall total renewable generation up 5.4 percent from 2013. The next benchmark in the government’s plan is to generate enough renewable energy to power 100 percent of the country’s demand by 2020. Results from the first quarter of 2015 show that growth is continuing at a rapid rate. Scottish wind farms produced a record amount of power in the first three months of this year, up 4.3 percent from the first quarter of 2014. The wind farms produced a total of 4,452 gigawatt hours (GWh), enough to power some one million U.K. homes...

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New Samsung ‘See-Through’ Truck May Help Save Lives, Looks Very Cool

By Walter Einenkel, Daily Kos – Samsung is creating a truck they hope will cut down on traffic by utilizing screen technology. The Safety Truck consists of a wireless camera attached to the front of the truck, which is connected to a video wall made out of four exterior monitors located on the back of the truck. The monitors give drivers behind the truck a view of what is going on ahead, even in the dark of night.This allows drivers to have a better view when deciding whether it is safe to overtake. Another advantage of the Safety Truck is that it may reduce the risk of accidents caused by sudden braking or animals crossing the road. In places like Argentina, this kind of technology could save countless lives. Samsung Argentina is hoping its new trucks will reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers overtaking trucks on single lane...

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New Pipeline Safety Chief Raises Eyebrows Amid Concerns Over Oil Transport

By Marcus Stern, Al Jazeera – It’s a small agency with a long name and big responsibility — ensuring the safety of more than 1 million shipments of hazardous materials a day, including a nonstop flow of oil and gas through 2.6 million miles of energy pipeline and along 140,000 miles of rail. For Americans living in the path of this energy torrent, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is their main defense against fiery derailments, gas line explosions and pipeline leaks, like the May 29 rupture that contaminated ocean waters off Santa Barbara, California. As domestic oil and gas production hurtled toward record levels in recent years, the agency has become a pincushion for criticism from Congress, environmentalists, safety advocates and even industry for its inability to produce timely regulations. They complain the agency, known by its acronym, PHMSA,  is stagnant, unproductive and opaque. Against this backdrop, Barack...

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FCC To Ensure That AT&T’s Data Throttling Comes Back To Bite Them

By RIKA CHRISTENSEN, Addicting Info – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to fine AT&T over their practice of throttling broadband speeds for customers who use high amounts of data. The problem is not that they do that, but that customers purchase what they believe are unlimited data plans, only to see their speeds slowed down significantly after they use a certain amount of data each month. Those slow speeds persist until the end of the customer’s billing cycle. According to a story on NBC New York, that fine is $100 million right now. In December 2014, Ars Technica reported that customers on the non-LTE network were getting throttled after using 3GB of data each month. Supposedly, this happened only when the network was congested, after AT&T first came under fire for throttling speeds. Those who were on the LTE network were only throttled for the remainder of their billing...

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5 Eco-Cars Taking the Industry by Storm

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch – When Henry Ford’s assembly-line Model T debuted at the start of the 20th century, it completely revolutionized transportation as we knew it. But now—as we enter an era where we know burning fossil fuels contributes to climate change and renewable energy alternatives are working — transportation is clearly changing once again. Cars, from battery-poweredto (Ford’s own) solar-powered vehicle, now come in all shapes and sizes to save on fuel—and help preserve the environment. Here are five favorites: 1. Google’s Self-Driving Car After years of anticipation, Google recently announced that it will roll out a handful self-driving car prototypes on the streets of Mountain View, California. Google touts that their cars could cut time in traffic and reduce time spent looking for parking, which uses up a lot of gasoline. And since these cars are fully electric, it means no gasoline needed and no emissions. 2. LINDO...

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20 Most Bike-Friendly Cities in the World (Find Out Which U.S. City Made the Cut)

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch – We all know that bicycling is green and healthy, but some cities just make it easier for you to ride a two — or three — wheeler. That’s why urban design consultancy firm Copenhagenize has released its annual index of the best cities in the world for cyclists, with Copenhagen topping this year’s list after coming in second for the past two years. Notably, only one U.S. city cracked the top 20, with 18th-ranked Minneapolis. To come up with the list, 122 cities around the planet were ranked based on 13 pieces of criteria including: advocacy; bicycle culture; bicycle facilities (such as bike racks, ramps on stairs, space allocated on trains and buses); bicycle infrastructure (or designated lanes); bike share programs; gender split (ideally 50-50 men and women); modal share for bicycles; modal share increase since 2006 (the year that urban cycling started to kick off); perception of...

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Get Ready to Buy a New Suitcase! Airlines Seeking Change to Carry-on Baggage Policy

By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos – Just when you thought flying couldn’t get any more miserable, airlines have found yet another way to pinch consumers: Fliers might either need to buy smaller suitcases or pay a fee to check their bags, typically $25 each way.The recommendation by the International Air Transport Association suggests an “optimal” carry-on size at 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches deep. That’s smaller than the current maximum size allowed by many airlines. For instance, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines all currently allow bags up to 22 inches by 14 inches by 9 inches — although gate agents don’t always enforce those more-generous measurements. Sounds like a small enough change, but it’ll be a $50 per flight difference for many travelers. This comes on the heels of a quiet change last year: Just before actually getting to the TSA agent’s...

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Game-Changing Lamp Powered by Gravity Could Provide Light to Billions

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch – Solar-powered electricity systems have often been touted as a solution for those living without reliable access to electricity, but another Earthly force is also readily available (and doesn’t surrender to inclement weather or nightfall): Gravity. That’s the idea behind the GravityLight — a lamp that only requires the weight of a bag of sand or rocks to provide light. And for the 1.3 billion people in the world who live in “energy poverty,” this simple yet genius idea could be a game changer. For the majority of people without reliable access to electricity, dangerous and polluting kerosene  is the primary source for light. But as designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves said in their Indiegogo campaign, the GravityLight is “a low-cost , safe and reliable alternative to the kerosene lamp, one that costs nothing to run, doesn’t need batteries and pays for itself within weeks...

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Scott Walker’s Baffling War On Bikes

MADISON, WISCONSIN — In just one year, Wisconsin’s bike friendliness ranking from the non-partisan League of American Bicyclists dropped from the third best in country to ninth. If the state legislature approves Governor Scott Walker’s budget, which slashes funding for bike infrastructure, boosts spending on freeways and imposes a new tax on bicycle sales, the ranking could plummet further. As Governor Walker prepares for a likely run for the White House, he’s been traveling the country touting his record of slashing taxes on corporations and the wealthy, saying he has “put more money back in the hands of the hardworking taxpayers.” Yet Governor Walker and his allies in the Madison statehouse have found one corporate sector where they’re willing to raise taxes: bicycles. Though they have been hesitant to hesitant to consider boosting taxes on gasoline or vehicle registration fees, state lawmakers have been pushing a $25 tax on...

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Converted Chicago Railway Line, The 606, Becomes Park in the Sky

By Stu Robarts, Gizmag – A new public park and trail system will open in the US city of Chicago this weekend. The 606, so-called because of the Chicago ZIP code prefix, is built on the former route of the Bloomingdale Line railway track. Its centerpiece is a 2.7-mi (4.3 km) elevated recreation and culture trail. There are, of course, similarities between The 606 and the New York’s well-known High Line. Despite the High Line having been opened before The 606, though, it is thought the idea for The 606 was conceived earlier. What distinguishes The 606 from the High Line and other similar projects like the Sydney Goods Line and the Miami Underline is its integration with other community destinations. In addition to connecting four neighborhoods in the city, the trail will link six neighborhood parks at ground level. The aim of the 606 is to provide Chicagoans...

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Understanding Amtrak and the Importance of Passenger Rail in the United States

By Kevin DeGood , Center for American Progress – Passenger rail is an essential element of America’s surface transportation system. The main provider of intercity passenger rail service is the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, also known as Amtrak. Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states. Passenger rail service supports economic development, connects rural communities to the nation, and helps reduce roadway congestion in major metropolitan regions. In addition, Amtrak facilities and services are vital to commuter rail agencies, allowing 840,000 commuters to reach their destinations every weekday. The most heavily traveled portion of the national passenger rail system is the Northeast Corridor, or NEC, which stretches from Washington, D.C., to Boston, Massachusetts. The Northeast megaregion is home to one in every seven Americans, or more than 50 million people. All told, the region accounts for $1 out of every $5 of economic productivity. Congestion within the region takes a heavy...

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Elon Musk’s Hyperloop ‘Might Be Free to Passengers’

By Mihai Andrei, ZMEScience – As if Elon Musk’s Hyperloop project wasn’t attractive enough, it just got even hotter – Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of the company running the project announced that the super-fast transportation might actually be free for passengers, as they are thinking about other types of monetisation. In case you’re out of the loop (heh), Hyperloop  is a conceptual high-speed transportation system that incorporates reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules ride on an air cushion driven through a combination of linear induction motors and air compressors. The conceptual route runs from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a whopping 35 minutes, at an average speed of 598 mph (962 km/h), with a top speed of 760 mph (1,220 km/h). A capsule would be launched every 30 seconds. “1G is our limit,” seems to be the motto. “When you go to America in an aeroplane right now you are already travelling at...

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10 ‘Radical’ Ideas From Bernie Sanders: Guess Which Ones Most Americans Agree On?

By ELISABETH PARKER, Addicting Info – Still think Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)  is a fringe candidate and a wild-eyed socialist? The GOP candidates, Hillary Clinton, and the billionaires who’ve stolen our country would love for us to think so. But Moyers and Company reminds us that those who underestimate Sanders do so at their peril. Especially since most Americans agree on what he has to say. But Sanders’s positions are quite mainstream from the point of view of the stances of the American public in general. Of course, the 1 percent, for whom and by whom most mainstream media report, are appalled and would like to depict him as an outlier. Sanders has long stood with liberals on education, war, the environment, women’s health, and equal rights for women, people of color and LGBT people. But he’s also the only candidate to take the lead on issues that impact ordinary Americans every single day, and which most of...

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Wind Power Could Become Nation’s Largest Source of Energy by 2050 With Deployment in All 50 States

By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch – Wind power could become even more prevalent in the U.S. than previously expected, according to a new report released last week from the Department of Energy (DOE), Enabling Wind Power Nationwide. The new report, which was announced at the American Wind Energy Association’s WINDPOWER Conference in Orlando, Florida, finds that there is wind power potential in nearly the entire U.S., even in places that were previously thought to have insufficient wind to generate electricity. According to the report, the U.S. has the ability to “unlock the vast potential for wind energy deployment in all 50 states” because of next-generation wind turbines. These taller turbines with longer blades, which are currently under development by the DOE and its private industry partners will be able to capture the wind more effectively at higher altitudes where the wind is usually stronger and more constant, says the report. There’s potential to...

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Reports Say United Airlines Refused To Serve This Passenger A Coke, Because She’s Muslim (IMAGES)

By KERRY-ANNE, Addicting Info – A campaign to boycott United Airlines is gaining traction on social media after reports of an extreme case of Islamaphobia by staff and passengers on a flight this week. Tahera Ahmad, Director of Interfaith Engagement and Associate Chaplain at Northwestern University, took to Facebook during Friday’s flight to share her ordeal. #UnitedForTahera It appears that Ms Ahmad has become yet another victim of the insidious racial profiling, by staff and passengers alike, which is all too common today. When the flight attendants and the reportedly racist passengers look at Ahmad, they saw a potential terrorist, a security threat. They didn’t see Chaplain Tahera Ahmad, a dynamic Muslim “scholar-practioner” raised in Morton Grove, Illinois. They didn’t see the Ahmad that played Varsity basketball at Niles West High School. They didn’t see working her way to the Department of Islamic Studies and Christian Muslim Relations and Islamic Chaplaincy...

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