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July 19, 2010

On the terrible cost of Air Conditioning

Air conditioning and its impact on American life and culture - latimes.com
Running full blast, a car's air conditioner dramatically increases levels of noxious exhaust in the surrounding air, guaranteeing that other drivers will have to keep their windows closed and the air running. In that, as in many other ways — by aggravating global warming, by encouraging poor building ventilation, by increasing our own biological susceptibility to heat — dependence on air conditioning always seems to generate demand for more air conditioning. Air conditioning buildings and cars in the United States has the climate impact of half a billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. That exceeds the total annual carbon dioxide emissions of any one of these nations: Australia, France, Brazil or Indonesia. In an effort to reduce energy use and curb greenhouse emissions, industry and government are pursuing more efficient cooling technologies for cars and buildings. But greater efficiency can't reverse the unsustainable living, working and transportation patterns that air conditioning has helped foster. Greener building designs that favor natural ventilation will help, but in the millions of existing homes, workplaces and schools that we'll be using for decades to come, the most important adjustment will be not in our thermostats but in our own comfort expectations.

July 15, 2010

BP using local police to harass, search, and intimidate press

In Gulf Spill Area, Reporters Face Security Hurdles : NPR
In early July, the freelance photographer Lance Rosenfield was standing on a public street in the town of Texas City, Texas, on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. He was taking shots of street signs and of a nearby BP oil refinery — one of the largest in the country. A few minutes later, as he filled his car's tank at a gas station, Rosenfield found himself penned in by police cars. A BP security guard was close behind. And, beckoned by his colleagues, a local police official assigned to an FBI task force arrived as well. They asked Rosenfield about the story he was working on. Over the next 20 minutes or so, the photographer gave his name, address, driver's license and Social Security number — and was convinced — or pressured, take your pick — to show his photographs. All of the material was shared with the BP security guard. . . . "This is in no way, in any newsroom in the United States, considered acceptable behavior," said Steve Engelberg, managing editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative news site Pro Publica. The site had hired Rosenfield for a project conducted with the PBS documentary series Frontline to report on toxic pollution from the refinery. "You are not allowed, as a police officer, to rummage through the notebooks and photographs — not published — of newspapers," Engelberg said. "That's not how we do it in this country." And yet related complaints have been heard throughout the Gulf Coast in the months since the oil spill. Back in May, CBS's Kelly Cobiella told viewers that when she and a film crew tried to take footage of a beach in South Pass, La., "a boat of BP contractors, with two Coast Guard officers on board, told us to turn around — under threat of arrest."

July 14, 2010

Utah group publishes list of 1,300 suspected undocumented people

Many of the names on the list are pregnant mothers and the list includes their projected delivery dates. Herbert calls for investigation into list of 1,300 identified as illegal immigrants | Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — An anonymous group says it quietly watched Hispanics in their neighborhoods, schools, churches and "public welfare buildings" to compile a list of 1,300 people it says are illegal immigrants living in Utah. The group sent the list to law enforcement agencies and news media demanding that those named "be deported immediately." It is not known who produced the list, although Gov. Gary Herbert has called for an investigation to see if the list was compiled by someone with access to state databases containing personal information. The list contains birth dates, workplaces, addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers. Names of children are included. Several pregnant women have their exact due dates listed. All the names seem to be Hispanic. "This is a way to terrorize people," said Tony Yapias, director of Proyecto Latino and a former state director of Hispanic affairs. He spent much of Tuesday calling people on the list to warn them and to figure out who may have collected the information. "I'm nauseated," he said through tears. "All of these people are terrified. I don't have words to describe how scared they are. It just breaks my heart what they are telling me." While some are worried about deportation, others fear that "crazy people" could use the list to hurt them or their families, Yapias said.