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Kochs go after solar panels

our new solar panels (10)

Can’t be cutting into their oil bidness, you know!

Homeowners and businesses that wish to generate their own cheap, renewable energy now have a force of conservative political might to contend with, and the Koch brothers are leading the charge. The L.A. Times, to its credit, found the positive spin to put on this: Little old solar “has now grown big enough to have enemies.”

The escalating battle centers over two ways traditional utilities have found to counter the rapidly growing solar market: demanding a share of the power generated by renewables and opposing net metering, which allows solar panel users to sell the extra electricity they generate back to the grid — and without which solar might no longer be affordable. The Times reports on the conservative heavyweights making a fossil fuel-powered effort to make those things happen:

The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation’s largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.

…The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates.

“State governments are starting to wake up,” Christine Harbin Hanson, a spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, said in an email. The organization has led the effort to overturn the mandate in Kansas, which requires that 20% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources.

“These green energy mandates are bad policy,” said Hanson, adding that the group was hopeful Kansas would be the first of many dominoes to fall.

The group’s campaign in that state compared the green energy mandate to Obamacare, featuring ominous images of Kathleen Sebelius, the outgoing secretary of Health and Human Services, who was Kansas’ governor when the state adopted the requirement.

What’s especially disappointing is that for a while now, we’ve been hearing about how solar power is actually gaining traction in red states, with conservatives switching the focus from that liberal scourge, renewable energy, to something their base hates even more: taxes. Even Barry Goldwater Jr. has spoken out against the idea of allowing utilities to charge a monthly fee to the owners of rooftop solar panels, or what he and other advocates refer to as a “solar tax.”

The sliding scale of justice

Photo
Matt Taibbi’s new book is about how the rich are never punished for their crimes.

“The Divide” marks a shift in Taibbi’s tone. More Lincoln Steffens than Hunter Thompson, Taibbi drops most of the histrionics to reveal the corruption and injustice at hand. He even goes out of his way to be reasonable. He acknowledges that prosecuting financial cases can be expensive and risky, especially when the alleged crimes are complex and the defendants have vast legal resources at their disposal. That fact motivates prosecutors to settle such cases rather than try them in criminal court. He also concedes that many disadvantaged neighborhoods may benefit from tough policing. But he maintains that when combined, the two law-enforcement strategies add up to a glaring injustice. He also notes that it’s far too easy to introduce jurisdictional complications in financial cases that would never be allowed in less consequential cases. To make that point, he recounts a horrific case in which high-profile Wall Street financiers escaped punishment after trying to destroy a company they bet against as well as harassing its executives and their family members.

Taibbi’s is an important voice, especially in today’s media ecology. Support for investigative reporting has never been a given; when it comes to muckraking, you take it where you can get it. Taibbi has shown that he can deliver the goods, and “The Divide” is his most important book-length contribution to date. One wonders what the future holds for him. In February, he announced he was leaving Rolling Stone to join First Look Media, where his website will feature investigative stories with a satirical edge. In describing his new venture, he linked his Russian experience to his current interests. “There was a certain kind of corruption that I got to see up close in the ’90s,” he said, “and I think that a version of it is being repeated here in the United States.”

Government = protection racket for the 1%

Brother Orchid: Oddball Movie, But Intriguing

Bill Moyers:

The evidence of income inequality just keeps mounting. According to “Working for the Few,” a recent briefing paper from Oxfam, “In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.”

Our now infamous one percent own more than 35 percent of the nation’s wealth. Meanwhile, the bottom 40 percent of the country is in debt. Just this past Tuesday, the 15th of April — Tax Day — the AFL-CIO reported that last year the chief executive officers of 350 top American corporations were paid 331 times more money than the average US worker. Those executives made an average of $11.7 million dollars compared to the average worker who earned $35,239 dollars.

As that analysis circulated on Tax Day, the economic analyst Robert Reich reminded us that in addition to getting the largest percent of total national income in nearly a century, many in the one percent are paying a lower federal tax rate than a lot of people in the middle class. You may remember that an obliging Congress, of both parties, allows high rollers of finance the privilege of “carried interest,” a tax rate below that of their secretaries and clerks.

And at state and local levels, while the poorest fifth of Americans pay an average tax rate of over 11 percent, the richest one percent of the country pay — are you ready for this? — half that rate. Now, neither Nature nor Nature’s God drew up our tax codes; that’s the work of legislators — politicians — and it’s one way they have, as Chief Justice John Roberts might put it, of expressing gratitude to their donors: “Oh, Mr. Adelson, we so appreciate your generosity that we cut your estate taxes so you can give $8 billion as a tax-free payment to your heirs, even though down the road the public will have to put up $2.8 billion to compensate for the loss in tax revenue.”

Long distance love

Little Feat:

Blinded by the light

Manfred Mann:

These eyes

The Guess Who:

Buncha hippies to hold Bundyfest!

Since Cliven Bundy has declared the area around his ranch to be a rule-free zone, a bunch of hippies from Burning Man have decided to take advantage of it.

Inspiring story

Joan Baez - Diamonds And Rust

Very moving story of an encounter between Joan Baez and a protest outside her show by some Vietnam vets. Go read it.

Studies of Bloated CEO Pay Miss the Fattest Cats in America (via Moyers & Company)

Each year The New York Times creates a furor by publishing a list of the highest paid CEOs. (This year the top 10 averaged $30.3 million in total compensation.) And each year “the paper of record” misses the real story: Yes, CEOs of public firms…


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Preppy drug dealers on the Main Line

AR-15

I got a kick out of these Haverford School grads doing their upscale alma mater proud! And of course they were serving the kind of high schools where parents relax, knowing they’re away from “bad influences.” I wonder what kind of sentences they will get. Just kidding, I already know!

LOWER MERION, Pa. – April 21, 2014 (WPVI) — Eight people have been arrested following an investigation into a drug ring that allegedly targeted local high schools and colleges.

The ringleaders were Haverford School graduates Neil Scott, 25, and Timothy Brooks, 18, District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said.

The two named their network “The Main Line Takeover Project,” investigators said.

“Their intention, as the name suggests, was the two of them would take over drug distribution – in particular, marijuana distribution – in schools and colleges on the Main Line,” Ferman said.

Ferman said Scott would receive bulk shipments from a California supplier which would be shipped to his Haverford apartment, which allegedly served as his base of operations. He also allegedly used his parents’ home in Paoli and Brooks’ home in Villanova.

Ferman said local students would be drafted into the drug distribution operation as sub-dealers to allegedly distribute cocaine, marijuana, hash oil and ecstasy.

[...] She said investigators found approximately eight pounds of marijuana, three pounds of hash oil, 23 grams of cocaine, 11 grams of ecstasy, $11,000 in cash, a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, a loaded 9mm pistol, and a loaded .22 AR-15 style rifle along with ammunition for all of those guns.

Officials say the drug trafficking operation focused on distributing drugs to students at:

-Lower Merion High School
-The Haverford School
-Harriton High School
-Conestoga High School
-Radnor High School
-Haverford College
-Lafayette College
-Gettysburg College

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