Archive for the 'Articles' Category

27
Mar
15

Making The Environment Safer For All. Thanks, President Obama

Obama signs greenhouse gas executive order in Washington

President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order, titled “Planning for Sustainability in the Next Decade,” which will cut the Federal Government’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent over the next decade from 2008 levels, in the Oval Office. Behind President Obama are senior advisor Brian Dreese and Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy Kate Brandt

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White House: Leading by Example On Climate Change: Our New Federal Sustainability Plan

Late last year, in an historic joint announcement with China, President Obama set an ambitious goal for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change – a clear sign that the United States’ commitment to leadership on climate change at home and abroad is stronger than ever. In the latest effort to continue that push, this morning, President Obama signed an executive order that will help us stay on track to meet the new target pledged in China and ensure that the federal government leads by example as the United States moves boldly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while boosting clean energy. This new sustainability plan for the next decade directs federal agencies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025.

That means big cuts to the dangerous emissions driving climate change – and also big savings. In addition to 21 million metric tons of emission reductions – the same as taking 4.2 million cars of the road for a year — achieving this goal will save taxpayers up to $18 billion in avoided energy costs between 2008 and 2025. Today’s action builds off of the strong progress the federal government has made over the past six years. Already, federal agencies have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent since the President took office, and increased the share of electricity consumed from renewable sources from 3 percent to 9 percent in 2013. Agencies have also made progress on a number of other fronts, like reducing water use by 19 percent since 2007. But there is much more work to do – and that’s what today’s announcement is all about.

More here

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Barack Obama, Eric Haukdal, Liz Sherwood-Randall, Kate Brandt

President Barack Obama is given a tour of solar panels on the roof of the Department of Energy (DOE). With President Obama (L-R) are DOE HQ Energy Manager Eric Haukdal, DOE Deputy Secretary Liz Sherwood and Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy Kate Brandt

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President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting at the Energy Department

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Michele Richinick: Obama Orders Cuts To Government’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In his ongoing effort to combat climate change both at home and abroad, President Barack Obama signed an executive order on Thursday to reduce the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40%. Although the government contributes only a small percentage of total emissions, the cuts are expected to keep 26 million metric tons of greenhouse gases out of the air by 2025 – equal to taking about 5.5 million cars off the road for a year. The order also directs the government, which is the single largest U.S. consumer of energy, to increase its use of renewable energy to 30% of its consumption, giving a further boost to green industries.  The executive order comes just days after an international team of scientists reported that the Totten Glacier of East Antarctica –

the largest and most rapidly thinning glacier in the region – is shrinking because of warm ocean water developing beneath it. The process could have “global consequences,” including rising sea level by at least 11 feet, the researchers wrote Monday in Nature Geoscience. On Thursday morning, Obama toured an installation of solar panels at the Energy Department’s headquarters and discussed the new emissions targets with federal suppliers, part of a larger effort to lead by example on the climate change issue. In November, Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached an agreement on a climate deal to reduce carbon emissions and tackle the growing crisis of global climate change. The pact includes a first-ever commitment by the Asian country to stop its emissions from increasing entirely after 2030.

More here

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24
Mar
15

The President’s Day

President Obama meets with Afghan President Ghani in the Oval Office. This marks the first meeting between the two presidents at the White House following the 2014 presidential election, which produced the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan’s history

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U.S. President Obama speaks at a joint news conference at the White House in Washington

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Boston Globe: US To Slow Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan

President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that the U.S. will slow its military withdrawal from Afghanistan, maintaining 9,800 troops in the country through the end of 2015 instead of cutting the number by about half as originally planned. ‘‘Afghanistan remains a very dangerous place,’’ Obama said in explaining his decision at a press conference after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s first visit to the White House since his election six months ago.

Obama added that the size of the U.S. troop presence for 2016 will be decided later this year. Ghani had asked Obama to slow the withdrawal because Afghan security forces are bracing for a tough spring fighting season and are also contending with Islamic State fighters looking to recruit on their soil. The original plan was to cut the U.S. force to 5,500 by the end of this year. ‘‘This visit is an opportunity to begin a new chapter between our two nations,’’ Obama said after meeting with Ghani in the Oval Office.

More here

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Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice listen during the press conference

Barack Obama

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry greets Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah prior to joint news conference at the White House in Washington

Secretary of State John Kerry greets Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah

U.S. President Obama reacts to comment by Afghanistan President Ghani during joint news conference at the White House in Washington

U.S. President Obama and Afghanistan President Ghani depart a joint news conference at the White House in Washington

21
Mar
15

What the Affordable Care Act means to me…. coverage for $1/month!

I’m not sure where to begin…so let me go back to a little over three years ago when I had to begin the process of purchasing health care on the individual market.

I was no longer able to stay on my parents plan and my COBRA coverage had run out from my previous employer (somewhat ironically selling Healthcare/Life insurance) and thus began an exhaustive search for an affordable option.

I had several pre-existing conditions due to basketball/tennis related injuries that required several surgeries and had moved backed to Indianapolis to help my father recover from serious heart problems. The job market wasn’t great at the time so I figured I would work part-time and go back to school.

After finally settling on what I thought would be the kind of coverage ideal for me, I purchased a plan from Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield. They are the largest insurance provider in the state and had a decent plan that fit my needs. It was called the Lumina 2500.

The plan was pretty cheap (139/month) considering it was on the individual market. The crux of the plan was I would have no co-pay for doctor visits/ER/pharmacy, but I had to pay the negotiated price between the provider/insurance companies in full.

For example: If I got sick and went to the family physician and the bill was ~ $200 I would end up paying $80, if the medicine was ~ $60 I would pay ~ 25 depending of if there was a generic available (the ~ $85 total all of went toward my deductible of $2500 which was also the maximum out-of-pocket for the year).

This plan worked for me because I knew no matter what happened in a given year I would never have more $4000 in expenses (including my premium). I only got one major cold during the three  following years so I thought this was great. ABBS did jack my rate up ~20% every year (2014 premium was $180) but I  could live with that since the Affordable Care Act would be available shortly.

 To my chagrin, Gov. Pence did not set up a state exchange last year and also didn’t expand Medicaid.

At the end of 2013 I decided to go to school full-time in the hopes to get into a radiology program. At the same time I was hoping to find a better option on the national healthcare marketplace once it was rolled out. I came to find out that Anthem dominated the insurance market here in the state of Indiana (they were essentially the only company that joined the marketplace that had good in-network providers)….. the kicker was being a pseudo monopoly all their comparable plans were actually closer to $400/month. Since I didn’t have enough taxable income, I also didn’t qualify for any subsidies so I was stuck with my current plan & the expectation of a rate hike ever year…. or so I thought.

Around early Nov. 2014, Anthem announced that it was discontinuing my insurance plan and I had to find another one through them or another insurance company. The insurance commissioner of our state was one of only two in the country (according to Anthem, Connecticut was the other) that were not extending the grandfather clause of allowing you to keep your insurance plan if you liked it.

Continue reading ‘What the Affordable Care Act means to me…. coverage for $1/month!’

20
Mar
15

On #RaceTogether and conversations we don’t have

Earlier this week, Starbucks—in a misguided PR stunt—announced that it would direct its employees to initiate conversations on race with customers.

The company received much derision for this initiative. It seemed less of an honest effort to engender difficult conversations than as a way to make the company look good to its core clientele. And the idea of forcing $8/hr baristas to initiate fraught conversations with people who might either not be receptive or violently hostile had an air of feudal lords imposing extra work on their serfs.

If Starbucks were truly interested in starting discussions on race, one place to start would be why its executive positions are staffed mostly by whites.

However, the hamhandedness of #RaceTogether does bring up one glaring point: We ignore the elephant in the room.

Continue reading ‘On #RaceTogether and conversations we don’t have’

20
Mar
15

This Is The Pain That Racism Causes

Black Lives

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GlobalCitizenLinda

Now that I have halted my crying, I can tell my story –  when you hear/read all those stories of unarmed civilians being shot/harmed/killed by law enforcement, you, as a racial minority, wonder when you will find yourself in that situation and what you would do to come out of it alive.

Just over two hours ago, I found myself being placed in the back of a police cruiser and answering questions from 3 police officers who had pulled out behind my car in two police vehicles.

What was my crime: apparently someone (the only person I had last seen in my vicinity was a middle-aged white male) had called the police and told them that I was trying to steal a car packed in the parking lot of an auto-mechanic shop.

How did I end up in this situation: my car was having problems so I dropped it off at the workshop of my regular mechanic. This repair shop is just a street away from where I live and a few feet from where I can catch and get off that public city bus.

The neighborhood is at the edge of the largest public university and so the majority of the residents are students, university employees, or those who work in the two very large hospitals (university hospital and a huge private hospital); my mechanic’s shop is just opposite the offices of the city’s local NBC TV affiliate; multiple restaurants and eatery/restaurants of different price structures abound …

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… so people are always walking around and this would not be a good place to commit a robbery in broad day light from a shop that is adjacent to a fast food joint.

I started the day very early (5.00 a.m.) so that I could get my two buses to get to work on time; my car was at the mechanic’s shop during the course of the day, the mechanic gives me a call and says the repairs have been completed and that I could pick up the car any time. I inform him that the bus would get me to the shop after hours and he offers to leave the car key hidden in a place where I could pick it (spare one was at home) when I got off the bus.

A few hours later, I get to the shop, call the mechanic and he guides me to locate the car key; I am seated in my car talking to my mechanic telling him that whatever repairs he had made were not sufficient as the car had refused to start & that I would leave it on the lot for him to look over; just then I see two police cruisers pull up behind me.

Two officers approach my car – one on either side of the car; one police officer asks to me to roll the window down while another asks me what I am doing and is touching the belt where his pistol is hanging.

I am confused at this time about who to answer first; at this time all the recent episodes of police interaction with minorities are flashing through my mind. One persistent thought was that “hey, whatever you do, don’t make any sudden moves that will get you killed, you have to get through this situation alive”.

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Of course, this is when I realize that whatever trouble was happening to the car meant that the automatic windows could not roll down, so I decide to open the driver’s door. I made sure that my hands could be seen and that I repeated each question from the officers; was asked what I am doing – I said I came on the bus and I am picking up my car. One officer asked me are you sure that this is your car because someone called you in that you are trying to steal cars here…. this is not your car … you are trying to steal two cars …. how come car won’t start?

My response was that whatever repairs the mechanic made failed and I just informed him of the same … do you want to talk to him? Officer: no, why are you picking up your car now when mechanic is not here? Me: because the bus got here after hours and I really need to run errands so mechanic told me to take it – errand in this case being trying to go to a money transfer place and send my family money because my father was hospitalized.

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Another officer: can we see your ID? Which was inside my bag … so I asked for permission to get it. When I handed them the ID, then I was ordered to step out of the car and one officer pulled both my hands behind my back and took me to the back of one of the police cruisers and closed the door – thank heavens I was not hand cuffed.

Police officers call in my information for a check about the registration of the car and also if I have any outstanding legal issues or tickets. Police record comes back clean. Once again, they tell me that a person called me in as a suspicious person stealing cars but that all my information checked out and so I could go. I left my car there and I walked away crying & asking myself this question:

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What about me made someone immediately think that I am a thief rather that a “damsel in distress?”

If I had looked different, could the person who called in the police report have first thought that maybe I was having car trouble rather than the first thought being that I am a thief trying to steal two cars …. all by my lonesome self?

Questions, questions…questions.

Something that has always bothered me about these incidents in the news about fatal shootings of unarmed people (especially racial minorities) is the role that ordinary citizens played in bringing about the subsequent killings.

Who do we immediately think of as suspicious and how is this feeling influenced by our biases and stereotypes? Of course I could not go to send money to my family to help with my hospitalized father. I just proceeded walking home to resume the errand tomorrow because I think my luck for today may have just run out.

That is a day in the life of this immigrant.

Yes, of course, I am crying again.




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