New Yorkers get a nuclear New Year’s present

❝ Entergy Corp. has reached an agreement with New York officials to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant in 2021, bringing an end to a long-running dispute over the future of the reactors located just 25 miles north of New York City.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had pushed for years to close Indian Point because of what he says are radioactive risks it poses to the city. The company agreed to the shutdown as the plant struggled to compete with lower-cost energy sources, including natural gas and renewable energy. The closure completes Entergy’s exit from its merchant power business…

❝ Five nuclear plants have shut in the U.S. in the past five years with about 20 gigawatts of capacity expected to retire by 2040, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Cuomo has supported measures that would keep reactors in upstate New York operating despite lower power prices. Workers will get access to retraining, according to the statement…

Entergy will take a non-cash impairment charge of $1.5 billion after tax in the fourth quarter of 2016. In addition, the company said it will record additional charges of about $180 million related to severance and other employee expenses through 2021…

❝ Meanwhile, environmental groups praised the landmark deal led by Riverkeeper, which has filed legal challenges to Indian Point and was part of the negotiations with the state and Entergy.

Ordinary folks keeping to their principles, willing to commit to the long fight against one of the most entrenched segments of American capitalism – get themselves a victory.

You know, living in a society generally governed by ideologues maintained in office by an ignorant electorate, it’s easy to let cynicism overwhelm the optimism derived from science, a liberal knowledge base and confidence in history’s advances. Best to get the word out and about when a long hard struggle heads into a win.

Brazil pledges the restoration of 85000 square miles of forest


Alstom Foundation workers in Brazil – doing it on their own

❝ Brazil will restore 22 million hectares of land in what’s being called “the largest restoration commitment ever made by a single nation.”

“We are a country of forests,” says Rachel Biderman, director of the World Resources Institute in Brazil. “The national strategy for the restoration of forests and degraded areas positions Brazil as one of the global leaders in the development of a forest economy.”

❝ Between now and 2030, Brazil plans to rehabilitate 12 million hectares of forest land that is degraded or deforested. The balance of the area will be restored and developed through the country’s Low-Carbon Agriculture Plan for crops, managed forests, and pastures. Brazil made the plan public at the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity in Cancún, Mexico, on December 3rd…

❝ Biderman said in a statement. “Restoring 22 million hectares — an area larger than Uruguay — will absorb huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, generate clean and plentiful water, and boost agricultural productivity.”

In addition, she said that the healthier, more productive landscapes will generate new jobs and boost Brazil’s economy. According to the WRI, Brazil’s Ministries of Environment and Agriculture teamed up to put together the deal.

Biderman added: “We have all the conditions — ecological, economic, and material — to be internationally competitive, improving technical knowledge and creating jobs.”

Regional collective action seems to continue apace in a number of areas on this planet with a healthy conscience – and an even healthier understanding of the economics of building a Green economy.

Don’t throw away those Amazon Boxes!

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-5-52-48-pm

❝ Amazon and Goodwill have a great new program they are doing to make it even easier to donate household goods, clothes, etc. Using the Give Back Boxplatform, a free shipping service, you can donate items you no longer need to Goodwill with ease and bring new life to your empty Amazon box…

❝ 1. Open Your Box: Unpack your merchandise from your Amazon shipping box.

2. Pack Your Box: Fill the box with clothing, accessories and household goods you no longer need and print your free shipping label from GiveBackBox.com.

3. Send Your Box: Let UPS or the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliver your box of donations to Goodwill for you.

❝ Donations go directly to your nearest participating Goodwill organization using a free shipping label and empty Amazon (or other) box. Goodwill sells the donated goods, and the revenues help support employment placement, job training and other community-based services to create strong families and communities.

Here’s the url for GiveBackBox.com. Click through some of the links to learn a bit more of their history.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Mormon Tabernacle Choir member quits rather than perform for Trump

❝ A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned in protest over the group’s decision to sing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, saying “it will appear that [the] Choir is endorsing tyranny and [fascism] by singing for this man.”

❝ The famous choir, which is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), first announced its decision to perform at Trump’s inauguration last week. The news sparked controversy among Mormons—many of whom are deeply ambivalent about Trump—but organizers justified the decision by noting that the group has performed at the inaugural celebrations of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

❝ …The reasoning was not enough for at least one performer: Jan Chamberlin, a member of the choir, published a Facebook post on Thursday morning announcing she would rather quit than sing for Trump…

“Since ‘the announcement,’ I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony…I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in choir for all the other good reasons. I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.” Chamberlin wrote. “But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect.”…

❝ “Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth,” she wrote. “We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.”…

“I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him,” she wrote.

Bravo! A courageous stand against bigotry. An evil Mormons have often faced in their young history. Too bad so many mainstream and evangelical sects in this land haven’t the same sense of history and justice.

Simple lifestyle changes will prevent heart disease


Jack Sachs

❝ Billions of dollars are spent every year on medications that reduce the risk of heart disease — the No. 1 killer in the United States…But some people feel powerless to prevent it: Many of the risk factors seem baked into the cake at birth. Genetic factors can have a huge impact on people’s chances of dying of heart disease, and it has long been thought that those factors are almost always outside of one’s control.

Recent research contradicts this, though, and that should give us all renewed hope…

❝ Researchers gathered data from four large prospective cohort studies that followed thousands of people for years, looking at the relationships between various risk factors and heart disease. The first began enrolling patients in 1987 and the last in 2008. Even though specific genes of interest weren’t known when these studies began, data were available that allowed scientists to evaluate genetic risk decades later. Using about 50 different variations — single-nucleotide polymorphisms (otherwise known as SNPs) — researchers created a risk score.

They also looked at how lifestyle factors were associated with outcomes. These included not smoking cigarettes, not being obese (having a B.M.I. less than 30), performing physical activity at least once a week and having a healthful diet pattern.

❝ That last criterion was defined as doing at least half of the following recommendations: eating more fruits, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, fish and dairy products and eating less refined grains, processed meats, unprocessed red meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fats and sodium. Every one of the four lifestyle factors was associated with a decreased risk of coronary events…

❝ That’s the first bit of good news. Doing any one of these things makes a difference.

But the effect is cumulative. The researchers divided people into three groups based on these factors. “Favorable” required at least three of the four factors, “intermediate” required two of them, and “unfavorable” required one or none. Across all studies, those with an unfavorable lifestyle had a risk that was 71 percent to 121 percent higher than those with a favorable lifestyle.

More impressive was the reduction in coronary events — heart attacks, bypass procedures and death from cardiovascular causes — at every level of risk. Those with a favorable lifestyle, compared with those with an unfavorable lifestyle, had a 45 percent reduction in coronary events among those at low genetic risk, a 47 percent reduction among those with intermediate genetic risk, and a 46 percent reduction among those at high genetic risk.

RTFA, folks. It’s filled with information. Yes, it would be great if most of you already know most of this. Can’t wait until I get hundreds of comments telling me you do! Until then, I will continue to post useful advice on behaving like you want to live a long, long time.

Oh, yeah, like the American Heart Association, I recommend more exercise than the researchers accept as minimum.

Just like my politics. I’d like all of us folks, who work for a living, physically, intellectually, professionals or pieceworkers – to have as enjoyable life as our society and economy is really capable of. Not what we’re allowed by political pricks whose only role in life seems to be as guard dogs for the rich and powerful.

Top UK football league players and officials support LGBT community with rainbow weekend


Click to enlargeGary Cahill, captain of 1st place Chelsea FCGetty

❝ The Premier League showed their support for the LGBT community this weekend with players and officials alike wearing rainbow laces in matches across the country…

Players from the 20 top flight clubs wore rainbow laces as a show of support while captains from each side had their armbands donned with the rainbow colours.

❝ “The Premier League is all about exciting, passionate and unpredictable football that is for everyone, everywhere.

“The Rainbow Laces campaign complements the work clubs are doing to promote inclusion and diversity in their stadiums, and across all levels of the sport”…PL chief Richard Scudamore on the campaign.

❝ A number of Premier League clubs…changed their social media backgrounds to the rainbow colours as did various media outlets.

The Premier League has also become a member of TeamPride, an organisation’s whose mission is to make sport everyone’s game…TeamPride works with fans and supporters and encourages them to show their support for the LGBT community so as to create an environment in which they can feel safe and accepted.

Every top flight team took part in the awareness push…Officials also wore the laces with massive rainbow flags opening each game…

The rainbow laces campaign was designed by charity Stonewall UK with the Scottish FA following the Premier league’s lead with their own efforts this weekend.

Anyone holding their breath for a campaign this all-encompassing in American professional sport?

Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In — by Bernie Sanders

❝ When Bernie Sanders began his race for the presidency, it was considered by the political establishment and the media to be a “fringe” campaign, something not to be taken seriously. After all, he was just an independent senator from a small state with little name recognition. His campaign had no money, no political organization, and it was taking on the entire Democratic Party establishment.

❝ By the time Sanders’s campaign came to a close, however, it was clear that the pundits had gotten it wrong. Bernie had run one of the most consequential campaigns in the modern history of the country. He had received more than 13 million votes in primaries and caucuses throughout the country, won twenty-two states, and more than 1.4 million people had attended his public meetings. Most important, he showed that the American people were prepared to take on the greed and irresponsibility of corporate America and the 1 percent.

❝ In Our Revolution, Sanders shares his personal experiences from the campaign trail, recounting the details of his historic primary fight and the people who made it possible. And for the millions looking to continue the political revolution, he outlines a progressive economic, environmental, racial, and social justice agenda that will create jobs, raise wages, protect the environment, and provide health care for all―and ultimately transform our country and our world for the better. For him, the political revolution has just started. The campaign may be over, but the struggle goes on.

As usual, I will be wending my own Leftward way through this life politic. Been this way for over 60 years. May as well keep it up.

For most, early in your life of confronting the conformity of capitulation in the American class struggle – I suggest you at least stay in touch with Bernie. He’s one of the few in Washington worth listening to. Or reading.

Renewables capacity for energy passes coal in US, Europe

Click to enlargeSteve Braund

According to the International Energy Agency, 2015 was a banner year for renewable power, marking the first time that total installed renewable capacity passed coal. The agency just released its analysis of the medium-term prospects for renewables, which includes a look at the state of the global market in 2015. The report predicts that 2015 is only the beginning; by 2021, renewables will generae enough electricity to handle all of the demand in the US and Europe.

As of 2015, hydropower remained the largest global source of renewable electricity, accounting for just over 70 percent of it. But wind power is now 15 percent, and solar has grown from negligible to four percent. The new additions of capacity, however, indicate that these two power sources are just getting started.

…The addition of renewables will account for more than 60 percent of the new generating capacity and add up to 800GW over the coming five years, keeping them well ahead of any other power source. That’ll be driven in part by continued drops in the cost of renewables; while wind is expected to drop by low double digits, photovoltaics are expected to be 25 percent lower than they are already.

RTFA for regional differences, rates of change. The direction remains progressive and positive; but, economics demand independent patterns.

Rabobank will fund first Dutch brothel run by hooker co-op

Dutch lender Rabobank Groep has agreed to fund the Netherlands’ first prostitute-run brothel.

The bank will provide a credit line of “a few hundred thousand euros” for the renovation, furniture and other startup costs of 14 rooms spread over four buildings in the center of Amsterdam, said Carlo Verhart, a Rabobank spokesman. The brothel will be run by My Red Light, a foundation led by five sex workers.

“Their business plan looked really good,” Verhart said by phone. “We’re a cooperative bank and we’re proud to support a fellow cooperation.” He declined to disclose the terms of the loan or details of the business plan…

…Rabobank, a closely held cooperative formed in 1898 to serve Dutch farmers, is the second-largest lender in the Netherlands by assets.

Cooperatives have a long and democratic history in many nations. Even in the GOUSA. Not this liberated, of course.