April 30th, 2012
The Washington Post / Associated Press
NEW YORK — One World Trade Center, the monolith being built to replace the twin towers destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks, claimed the title of New York City’s tallest skyscraper on Monday, as workers erected steel columns that made its unfinished skeleton a little over 1,250 feet high, just enough to peek over the roof of the observation deck on the Empire State Building.
The milestone is a preliminary one. Workers are still adding floors to the building once called the Freedom Tower. It isn’t expected to reach its full height for at least another year, at which point it is likely to be declared the tallest building in the U.S., and third tallest in the world.
Those bragging rights, though, will carry an asterisk.
Crowning the world’s tallest buildings is a little like picking the heavyweight champion in boxing. There is often disagreement about who deserves the belt.
In this case, the issue involves the 408-foot-tall needle that will sit on the tower’s roof.
Count it, and the World Trade Center is back on top. Otherwise, it will have to settle for No. 2, after the Willis Tower in Chicago.
“Height is complicated,” said Nathaniel Hollister, a spokesman for The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats, a Chicago-based organization considered an authority on such records.
Experts and architects have long disagreed about where to stop measuring super-tall buildings outfitted with masts, spires and antennas that extend far above the roof.
Consider the case of the Empire State Building: Measured from the sidewalk to the tip of its needle-like antenna, the granddaddy of all skyscrapers actually stands 1,454 feet high, well above the mark reached by One World Trade Center on Monday.
Purists, though, say antennas shouldn’t count when determining building height.
An antenna, they say, is more like furniture than a piece of architecture. Like a chair sitting on a rooftop, an antenna can be attached or removed. The Empire State Building didn’t even get its distinctive antenna until 1952. The record books, as the argument goes, shouldn’t change every time someone installs a new satellite dish.
Excluding the antenna brings the Empire State Building’s total height to 1,250 feet. That was still high enough to make the skyscraper the world’s tallest from 1931 until 1972.
From that height, the Empire State seems to tower over the second tallest completed building in New York, the Bank of America Tower.
Yet, in many record books, the two skyscrapers are separated by just 50 feet.
That’s because the tall, thin mast on top of the Bank of America building isn’t an antenna but a decorative spire.
Unlike antennas, record-keepers like spires. It’s a tradition that harkens back to a time when the tallest buildings in many European cities were cathedrals. Groups like the Council on Tall Buildings, and Emporis, a building data provider in Germany, both count spires when measuring the total height of a building, even if that spire happens to look exactly like an antenna.
This quirk in the record books has benefited buildings like Chicago’s recently opened Trump International Hotel and Tower. It is routinely listed as being between 119 to 139 feet taller than the Empire State Building, thanks to the antenna-like mast that sits on its roof, even though the average person, looking at the two buildings side by side, would probably judge the New York skyscraper to be taller.
April 30th, 2012
One of the most basic theories of Communist Marxism is the fact that Karl Marx, the originator of Marxism, felt that the State should take whatever it needed from the people in order to pay for its costs of providing services to the proletariat, in this case healthcare services to US Citizens, as a Collectivist economic necessity.
BLS note: In Marxism, once all of the expenses had been paid by the State or the entity under the State's authority, whatever was left over was mandated to be directed back towards the people and redivided amongst the workers according to each individual's efforts or initial investment.
In Marxist theory, one of the repeatedly illustrated quotes is this one:
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"
Read the full story below...
More than 3 million health insurance policyholders and thousands of employers will share $1.3 billion in rebates this year, thanks to President Barack Obama’s health care law, according to a nonpartisan research group.
The rebates should average $127 for the people who get them, and Democrats are hoping they’ll send an election-year message that Obama’s much-criticized health care overhaul is starting to pay dividends for consumers. Critics of the law call that wishful thinking.
The law requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect on medical care and quality improvement or return the difference to consumers and employers. Although many large employer plans already meet that standard, it’s the first time the government has imposed such a requirement on the entire health insurance industry.
“This is one of the most tangible benefits of the health reform law that consumers will have seen to date,” said Larry Levitt, an expert on private insurance with the Kaiser Family Foundation, which analyzed industry filings with state health insurance commissioners to produce its report. Kaiser is a nonpartisan information clearinghouse on the nation’s health care system.
Still, with employer coverage averaging about $5,400 a year for an individual, $15,100 for a family, $127 isn’t a whole lot of money. It amounts to 2 percent of an individual plan, and a little less than 1 percent of the family premium.
And the insurance industry says consumers should take little comfort from the rebates because premiums are likely to go up overall as a result of new benefits and other requirements of the law.
“The net of all the requirements will be an increase in costs for consumers,” said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group.
“Given that health care costs are inherently unpredictable, it’s not surprising that some plans will be paying rebates to policyholders in certain markets,” Zirkelbach added.
But the Kaiser report said the rebate requirement may be acting as a brake on the industry, discouraging insurers from seeking big premium increases to avoid having to issue refunds later and face possible criticism.
“The presence of these thresholds and the corresponding rebate requirement have provided an incentive for insurers to seek lower premium increases than they would have otherwise,” the report said. “This `sentinel’ effect on premiums has likely produced more savings for consumers and employers than the rebates themselves.”
The study found the largest rebates will go to consumers and employers in Texas ($186 million) and Florida ($149 million), where Govs. Rick Perry and Rick Scott have been among the staunchest opponents of the federal law. Both states applied for waivers from the 80 percent requirement and were turned down. Hawaii is the only state in which insurers are not expected to issue a rebate.
Here’s how the rebates break down nationally:
More than 3 million individual policyholders will reap rebates of $426 million, averaging $127 apiece. These are consumers who are not covered through an employer and buy their policy directly. Consumers in Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Arizona are most likely to be eligible.
Insurance companies must notify policyholders, and the rebates are due by Aug. 1. Some companies have already begun to pay.
In the small-employer market, plans covering nearly 5 million people will receive rebates totaling $377 million.
Employers do not have to pass their rebates on to workers, and can also take them as a discount on next year’s premiums.
Insurers serving large employers face a stiffer requirement. Under the law, they must spend 85 percent of premiums on medical costs. The study found that 125 plans covering 7.5 million people at large employers will give back a total of $541 million.
Most plans operated by major national employers are exempt from the requirement. The biggest companies usually set aside money to cover most of their workers’ medical expenses. Typically they hire an insurer to administer their plan, but they do not buy full coverage from the insurer.
Supporters of the requirement say it will keep insures from padding their profits at the expense of unsuspecting consumers. An efficiently run insurer should not have any problem earning a healthy return after devoting 80 percent of premiums to medical care, they say.
“Millions are benefiting because health insurance companies are spending less money on executive salaries and administrative costs and more on patient care,” said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., a leading advocate of the rebate provision.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the report shows how Obama’s law is “already strengthening the health care system for millions of Americans.”
Like everything else about the overhaul, the future of the rebates depends on whether the Supreme Court upholds the law in a decision expected by early summer.
Seventeen states applied for waivers from the 80 percent standard, producing evidence that it would destabilize their private health insurance markets. Federal regulators granted adjustments to seven states, usually meeting each state’s request part way.
The Kaiser report has one significant gap. Data from the nation’s most populous state, California, were not ready and thus were not included. Final statistics on the rebates will be issued by the federal government in early summer.
April 30th, 2012
By Barry Secrest
Matthews, NC-- When we look at the various industries and the risks involved in each, coal mining seems to top the list as an extraordinarily hazardous occupation operated on the basis of profit. But in fact, there is another type of operation, run also for the sake of commercial success, which would appear to make US coal mining seem relatively benign in retrospect.
There were 21 coal mining deaths in the US in 2011; however, that number pales noticeably in comparison to the number of journalists killed on the job in 2011. There were, in fact, 46 deaths in the world of news reporting in 2011, making international journalism twice as deadly an occupation as US coal mining in 2011.
However, the year of 2011 appeared to be a relatively lucky year for international journalists.
The lowest recorded number of US coal miners killed was in 2009, when there were only 18 deaths. However, even here, in a head to head comparison, a whopping 74 journalists met their untimely demise in 2009, which is a rate of over 400% the number of US coal miners killed. Even worse, in 2009, 72% of all journalists' deaths were by murder, while, according to available MHSA numbers, none of the coal miners were victims of actual foul play on the job.
April 30th, 2012
By Henry Goldman and Esmé E. Deprez
Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose anti-greed message spread worldwide during an eight-week encampment in Lower Manhattan last year, plan marches across the globe tomorrow calling attention to what they say are abuses of power and wealth.
Organizers say they hope the coordinated events will mark a spring resurgence of the movement after a quiet winter. Calls for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no shopping have sprung up on websites in Toronto, Barcelona, London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, among hundreds of cities in North America, Europe and Asia.
In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s 55-story tower.
“We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.
Occupy groups across the U.S. have protested economic disparity, decrying high foreclosure and unemployment rates that hurt average Americans while bankers and financial executives received bonuses and taxpayer-funded bailouts. In the past six months, similar groups, using social media and other tools, have sprung up in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
The Occupy movement in New York has relied on demonstrations and marches around the city since Nov. 15, when police ousted hundreds of protesters from their headquarters in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, where they had camped since Sept. 17.
Banks have pooled resources and cooperated to gather intelligence after learning of plans to picket 99 institutions and companies, followed by what organizers have described as an 8 p.m. “radical after-party” in an undetermined Financial District location.
“If the banks anticipate outrage from everyday citizens, it’s revealing of their own guilt,” said Shane Patrick, a member of the Occupy Wall Street press team. “If they hadn’t been participating in maneuvers that sent the economy into the ditch, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”
New York police can handle picketers, according to Paul Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.
“We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity, and we’re prepared to do both,” he said in an interview.
About 2,100 Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York have been arrested since the demonstrations began, said Bill Dobbs, a member of the group’s media-relations team.
Organizers describe the May Day events as a coming together of the Occupy movement, with activists also calling for more open immigration laws, expanded labor rights and cheaper financing for higher education. Financial institutions remain a primary target of the protests.
“Four years after the financial crisis, not a single of the too-big-to-fail banks is smaller; in fact, they all continue to grow in size and risk,” the group’s press office said in an April 26 e-mail.
Planning Since January
Five banks -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C), Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) together held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal to 56 percent of the U.S. economy, compared with 43 percent in 2006, according to central bankers at the Federal Reserve.
Occupy Wall Street began planning for May Day in January, meeting in churches and union halls with a decision-making system that avoids a single leader. Instead, participants rely on group “break-out” sessions in which clusters discuss such tasks as crowd-building, logistics and communications.
About 150 attended an April 25 meeting at the Greenwich Village headquarters of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union, making last-minute preparations for how to deploy legal and medical help; site selection for picketing; purchasing, production and distribution of protest signs; and how to talk to reporters.
The meeting convened inside the union hall basement, where attendees arranged chairs in a circle as three facilitators asked each of the assembled to identify themselves by first name and gender -- he, she or they. Most appeared under age 30, though gray-haired baby boomers also participated. One of the older attendees pulled a ski mask over his head to protest the presence of a photographer from Tokyo.
Tom Morello of the Grammy Award-winning rock band Rage Against the Machine along with 1,000 other guitar-playing musicians will accompany a march to Union Square at 2 p.m., according to the maydaynyc.org website. That will be followed by a “unity rally” at Union Square at 4 p.m.; a march from there to Wall Street at 5:30 p.m.; and a walk to a staging area for “evening actions,” which organizers at the April 25 meeting said would be the so-called after-party.
Golden Gate Bridge
Across the bay in Oakland, protesters said they intend morning marches on banks and the Chamber of Commerce, followed by an afternoon rally and a march downtown.
“We’re looking forward to vigorously asserting our constitutional right to protest and giving a loud outcry about Wall Street and greed,” Dobbs said. “We’re hoping this will make a splash. We hope it will bring a lot of more people into the Occupy movement.”
Tops at Bloomberg
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at
April 30th, 2012
BLS note: So, in essence, geen energy impacts the environment more than even fossil fuels. The below study refuses to suggest this fact, and yet the data clearly represents this remarkable eventuality. Which the dovetails perfectly with our historical observations and the Liberal mindset.
In the Progressive's dash to correct non-existent problems, they actually create the very problem they were trying to correct in the first place. Remember the 2008 meltdown, for instance?
BBC News / By Richard Black
Wind farms can affect weather in their immediate locality, raising night-time temperatures on the ground, researchers working in Texas have shown.
They used satellite data to show that land around newly constructed wind farms warmed more than next-door areas. The result - published in the journal Nature Climate Change - confirms an earlier, smaller study from 2010.
The scientists believe the effect is caused by turbines bringing relatively warm air down to ground level.They suggest that turbines in other places might not produce the same value of ground temperature change.
The study area, in west-central Texas, saw a major turbine building programme in the middle of the last decade, with the number soaring from 111 in 2003 to 2325 just six years later.
Researchers used data from the Modis instruments on Nasa's Aqua and Terra satellites to measure ground temperatures across the study region and between the beginning and end of the construction boom, defined as as the difference between the average for 2003-5 and that for 2009-11.
The entire region saw a rise, but it was more pronounced around wind farms.
The researchers looked for other factors that could have affected the results, such as changes in vegetation, but found these were too small to produce the observed change.
The change was not identical across all of the wind farms. Having averaged the data, the researchers say the scale of the effect they saw is equivalent to a warming of about 0.72C per decade.
Recognising that this could wrongly be interpreted as suggesting the local temperature will continue to rise, lead researcher Liming Zhou cautioned: "The estimated warming trend only applies to the study region and to the study period, and thus should not be extrapolated linearly into other regions or over longer periods.
"For a given wind farm, the warming effect would likely reach a limit rather than continue to increase if no new wind turbines are added."
At night, air above ground level tends to be warmer than the ground. Dr Zhou and his colleagues believe the turbine blades are simply stirring up the air, mixing warm and cold, and bringing some of the warmth down to ground level.
"The result in the paper looks pretty solid to me," commented Prof Steven Sherwood from the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
"Daytime temperatures do not appear to be affected. This makes sense, (and) this same strategy is commonly used by fruit growers who fly helicopters over their orchards to combat early morning frosts."
The 2010 study, also from the US, used data from a single location and computer modelling to show that wind turbines could produce local warming.
Dr Zhou, from the State University of New York in Albany, US, now plans to look across bigger scales and to decipher the mechanisms better.
"This article is a first step in exploring the potential of using satellite data to quantity the possible impacts of big wind farms on weather and climate," he told BBC News.
"We are now expanding this approach to other wind farms, and building models to understand the physical processes and mechanisms driving the interactions of wind turbines and the atmospheric boundary layer near the surface."