Daily Archives: January 19, 2008

Global Warming Hype Sparks ‘Eco-Anxiety’ Syndrome

News 14 | Jan 16, 2008

By: Claudine Chalfant

NORTH CAROLINA — Former Vice President Al Gore isn’t the only one concerned about the environment, as more and more people are starting to become aware of global warming and experiencing ‘eco-anxiety.’

“People are afraid of the future, they’re afraid of what’s going to happen,” said licensed therapist Melissa Pickett, saying of one patient, “She brought up during the course of our session that she had just read an article about the polar bears and the loss of habitat and she started crying … she said ‘I just don’t understand this.'”

Pickett said fears about the environment are sending some people into a panic. The mental health disorder has grown enough to gain the ‘eco-anxiety’ name.

“It’s causing them to feel anxiety, it’s causing them to feel depression, it’s causing them to have insomnia,” said general practitioner Cynthia Knudsen of patients.

Debra Kincaid is so gripped by the environment and the future of the planet, she can’t even force herself to throw away a broken coffee maker. She has chosen to have it repaired instead.

“It can almost make you want to bury your head in the sand with a sense of hopelessness,” she said. “If everybody tosses their coffee maker into the landfill then pretty soon that’s all we have.”

Pickett said patients think they have to make big changes in their life, when the little things might be what matters most. Things like recycling, turning off lights, unplugging electrical items and carpooling can go a long way to ease the problem.

Children can also suffer from anxiety over the planet. Experts suggest getting them involved in a recycling program or planting a garden.

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“Accidental” War With Iran Feared

Could US, Iran Stumble Into War?

AP | Jan 18, 2008


CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Just how close might a military confrontation between Iran and the United States be?

Though a war of words eased a bit recently, President Bush’s strong Iran warnings during his just completed Mideast trip, coupled with a ship standoff, are raising fears that a small incident could someday spiral — even by accident — into a real fight.

Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Bush Thursday of sending “a message of confrontation” during his trip to the region. It was a sharp response to Bush’s tough rhetoric that Iran remains a serious threat.

Tensions slackened somewhat late last year when a U.S. intelligence report concluded Iran had halted a nuclear weapons program four years ago. But Bush went out of his way while visiting Gulf countries to reiterate that “all options” against Iran remain on the table.

Pointedly, he also warned of “serious consequences” if Iran attacked a U.S. ship in the Gulf, even if it had not been ordered by the Tehran government but was the result of a rash decision by an Iranian boat captain.

At the same time, Bush said he has told leaders of Sunni Arab states — who want the U.S. to keep Shiite Iran’s ambitions in check but are nervous about the impact of any military confrontation — that he wants a diplomatic solution.

In part, the president seemed to be trying to assure both Arab allies and Israel that the United States remains intent on pressuring Iran. He also seeks reluctant European support for another round of Iran sanctions.

But the scenario Bush outlined — a rash decision on the water, spilling over into real fighting — is just the thing that many U.S. military officers, and much of the Gulf Arab world, are sweating over.

Adm. William J. Fallon, the top U.S. military commander in the Mideast, told The Associated Press last week that Iran runs the risk of triggering an unintended conflict if its boats continue to harass U.S. warships in the strategic Gulf.

“This kind of behavior, if it happens in the future, is the kind of event that could precipitate a mistake,” Fallon said. “If the boats come closer, at what point does the captain think it is a direct threat to the ship and has to do something to stop it?”

Key details of the Jan. 6 incident — when five small Iranian boats swarmed three U.S. warships in the Gulf’s narrow Strait of Hormuz — remain unclear, including the source of an accented voice heard warning in English: “I am coming to you … You will explode after … minutes.”

Iran called the tapes fabricated.

Notably, the U.S. commanders did not fire any warning shots and the Iranians eventually retreated. But in a mid-December incident, publicized by the Navy for the first time last week, a U.S. ship did fire a warning shot at a small Iranian boat that came too close, causing the Iranians to pull back.

The worry: That in a heated political climate, such cat-and-mouse maneuvers could spiral into a more-serious exchange of fire, difficult for either side to pull back from.

Of course, Bush could succeed in getting Iran to be less aggressive with his strong words.

But a major Gulf paper, the Khaleej Times, fretted publicly about the potential for an “ugly flare-up,” comparing the confrontation to last year’s Iranian seizure of British sailors.

Iran eventually freed the British sailors, but then — as now — its motivations were deeply obscure.

Ahmadinejad is struggling to retain domestic political support, in dire need of a boost to keep any real political influence during his last year and a half in office before seeking re-election.

Standoffs with the United States often give him just such a boost, as the country draws together despite the bitter differences dividing its hard-line and pragmatic factions.

“Whenever there is a potential for confidence-building, there are actors, entrenched actors, in the Iranian system (who) have an incentive to keep the crisis going,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

In both the Jan. 6 confrontation and last year’s British sailor seizure, the Iranian boats were manned by the country’s hard-line Revolutionary Guards, not its regular navy, “which has been better behaved and much more professional,” Fallon said.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his sometime-protege, Ahmadinejad, are believed to be the two high officials in Iran with the most control over the Guards.

There have been some attempts to cool down the rhetoric.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told an interviewer this week that he did not view Iran as a direct military threat to the United States, although he considered it a “challenge” to keep Iran contained.

But people often listen the most closely to presidents. And as long as Bush and Ahmadinejad are both in office and focused on each other, said Gulf political analyst Mustafa Alani, the threat of “accidental war” will keep many people on edge.

NY hospital forced rectal exam

AP | Jan 16, 2008

NEW YORK – A construction worker claimed in a lawsuit that when he went to a hospital after being hit on the forehead by a falling wooden beam, emergency room staffers forcibly gave him a rectal examination.

Brian Persaud, 38, says in court papers that after he denied a request by NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital emergency room employees to examine his rectum, he was “assaulted, battered and falsely imprisoned.”

His lawyer, Gerrard M. Marrone, said he and Persaud later learned the exam was one way of determining whether he had suffered spinal damage in the accident.

Marrone said his client got eight stitches for a cut over his eyebrow.

Then, Marrone said, emergency room staffers insisted on examining his rectum and held him down while he begged, “Please don’t do that.” He said Persaud hit a doctor while flailing around and staffers gave him an injection, which knocked him out, and performed the rectal exam.

Persaud woke up handcuffed to a bed and with an oxygen tube down his throat, the lawyer said, and spent three days in a detention center.

A request by the hospital to dismiss Persaud’s lawsuit was denied by Justice Alice Schlesinger, who ordered a trial to start March 31.

Hospital spokesman Bryan Dotson said, “While it would be inappropriate for us to comment on specifics of the case, we believe it is completely without merit and intend to contest it vigorously.”

Persaud’s lawsuit, filed in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court, seeks unspecified damages. A judge dismissed a misdemeanor assault charge against him.

7-year plan aligns U.S. with Europe’s economy

Rules, regs to be integrated without congressional review, a step toward world government

WorldNetDaily.com | Jan 16, 2008

By Jerome R. Corsi

Six U.S. senators and 49 House members are advisers for a group working toward a Transatlantic Common Market between the U.S. and the European Union by 2015.

The Transatlantic Policy Network – a non-governmental organization headquartered in Washington and Brussels – is advised by the bi-partisan congressional TPN policy group, chaired by Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah.

The plan – currently being implemented by the Bush administration with the formation of the Transatlantic Economic Council in April 2007 – appears to be following a plan written in 1939 by a world-government advocate who sought to create a Transatlantic Union as an international governing body.

An economist from the World Bank has argued in print that the formation of the Transatlantic Common Market is designed to follow the blueprint of Jean Monnet, a key intellectual architect of the European Union, recognizing that economic integration must inevitably lead to political integration.

As WND previously reported, a key step in advancing this goal was the creation of the Transatlantic Economic Council by the U.S. and the EU through an agreement signed by President Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel – the current president of the European Council – and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at a White House summit meeting last April.

Writing in the Fall 2007 issue of the Streit Council journal “Freedom and Union,” Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., a member of the TPN advisory group, affirmed the target date of 2015 for the creation of a Transatlantic Common Market.

Costa said the Transatlantic Economic Council is tasked with creating the Transatlantic Common Market regulatory infrastructure. The infrastructure would not require congressional approval, like a new free-trade agreement would.

Writing in the same issue of the Streit Council publication, Bennett also confirmed that what has become known as the “Merkel initiative” would allow the Transatlantic Economic Council to integrate and harmonize administrative rules and regulations between the U.S. and the EU “in a very quiet way,” without introducing a new free trade agreement to Congress.

No document on the TEC website suggests that any of the regulatory changes resulting from the process of integrating with the EU will be posted in the Federal Register or submitted to Congress as new free-trade agreements or as modifications to existing trade agreements.

In addition to Bennett, the advisers to the Transatlantic Policy Network includes the following senators: Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Chuck Hagel, R-Neb.; Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; and Gordon Smith, R-Ore.

Among the 49 U.S. congressmen on the TPN’s Congressional Group are John Boehner, R-Ohio; John Dingell, D-Mich.; Kenny Marchant, R-Texas; and F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc.

WND contacted Bennett’s office for comment but received no return call by the publication deadline.

A progress report on the TEC website indicates the following U.S. government agencies are already at work integrating and harmonizing administrative rules and regulations with their EU counterparts: The Office of Management and Budget, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A step toward world government

The Streit Council is named after Clarence K. Streit, whose 1939 book “Union Now” called for the creation of a Transatlantic Union as a step toward world government. The new federation, with an international constitution, was to include the 15 democracies of U.S., UK, France, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and South Africa.

Ira Straus, the founder and U.S. coordinator of the Committee on Eastern Europe and Russia in NATO, a group dedicated to including Russia within NATO, credits Bennett as TPN chairperson with reviving Streit’s work “seven decades later.”

A globalist with leftist political leanings, Straus was a Fulbright professor of political science at Moscow State University and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations from 2001 to 2002.

The congruity of ideas between Bennett and Streit is clear when Bennett writes passages that echo precisely goals Streit stated in 1939.

One example is Bennett’s claim in his Streit Council article that creating a Transatlantic Common Market would combine markets that comprise 60 percent of world Gross Domestic Product under a common regulatory standard that would become “the de facto world standard, regardless of what any other parties say.”

Similarly, Streit wrote in “Union Now” that the economic power of the 15 democracies he sought to combine in a Transatlantic Union would be overwhelming in their economic power and a clear challenge to the authoritarian states then represented by Nazi Germany and the communist Soviet Union.

Also writing in the Fall 2007 issue of the Streit Council journal “Freedom and Union,” World Bank economist Domenec Ruiz Devesa openly acknowledged that “transatlantic economic integration, though important in itself, is not the end.”

“As understood by Jean Monnet,” he continued, “economic integration must and will lead to political integration, since an integrated market requires common institutions producing common rules to govern it.”

Transatlantic Common Market by 2015

Last February, the Transatlantic Policy Network formed a Transatlantic Market Implementation Group to put in place “a roadmap and framework” to direct the activity of the Transatlantic Economic Council to achieve the creation of the Transatlantic Common Market by 2015.

The Transatlantic Economic Council is an official international governmental body established by executive fiat in the U.S. and the EU without congressional approval or oversight. No new law or treaty was sought by the Bush administration to approve or implement the plan to create a Transatlantic Common Market.

The U.S. congressmen and senators are involved only indirectly, as advisers to the influential non-governmental organization.

In a February 2007 document entitled “Completing the Transatlantic Market,” the TPN’s Transatlantic Market Implementation Group writes, “The aim of this roadmap and framework would be to remove barriers to trade and investment across the Atlantic and to reduce regulatory compliance costs.”

The document further acknowledged the impact the Transatlantic Common Market agenda would have on U.S. and European legislators: “The roadmap and framework will necessarily oblige legislative and regulatory authorities in both Europe and the United States to take into consideration from the outset the impact their acts may have on transatlantic economic relations and to ensure that their respective governmental bodies involved have the necessary budgetary and organizational resources to work closely with each other.”

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Canada puts U.S. and Israel on torture watch list

Training manual for diplomats says prisoners are at risk of abuse in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, the US and Israel

MSNBC | Jan 18, 2008

TORONTO – A Canadian Foreign Affairs Department document includes the United States and Israel in a series of countries where prisoners are at risk of being tortured and abused, according to the document released Friday.

The training manual for Canadian diplomats also includes Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Syria as places where inmates could face torture.

The manual lists such U.S. interrogation techniques as stripping prisoners naked, blindfolding them and sleep depravation as torture, and names Guantanamo Bay as a site of possible torture and abuse. Canada said the manual is for training and does not amount to official government policy.

A Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr, is in custody at Guantanamo, but Canada has long publicly said it accepts U.S. assurances that Khadr is being treated humanely.

One of Khadr’s lawyers, Dennis Edney, said the document shows Canada says one thing publicly but believes something else privately.

“Canada was well aware that Omar Khadr’s allegations of being tortured had a ring of truth to it. Canada has not once raised the protection of Omar Khadr when there are such serious allegations,” Edney said. “What does that say to you about Canada’s commitment to the rule of law and human rights. It talks on both sides of its face.”

Manual inadvertently released

The government inadvertently released the manual to lawyers for Amnesty International who are working on a lawsuit involving alleged abuse of Afghan detainees by local Afghan authorities, after the detainees were handed over by Canadian troops.

“The document in question is a training manual. It is not a policy document or any kind of a statement of policy. As such it does not convey the government’s views or positions,” said Neil Hrab, a spokesman for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department. “The training manual purposely raised public issues to stimulate discussion and debate in the classroom.”

A call to the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa seeking comment was not immediately returned Friday. A spokesman at the Israeli embassy said Israel forbids torture.

“Israel’s Supreme Court is on record as expressly prohibiting any type of torture. If Israel is included in the list in question, the ambassador of Israel would expect its removal,” spokesman Michael Mendel said.

The training material in question offers a section on laws prohibiting torture and what to do when cases are suspected. It also discusses how to spot signs a Canadian abroad has been abused.

Canada asked to pressure U.S.

Human rights groups have long called on Canada to pressure the United States to return Khadr from Guantanamo. They say not done enough for Omar Khadr, who has been in custody since he was 15. Khadr is accused of tossing a grenade that killed one U.S. soldier and injured another in Afghanistan in 2002.

He is the son of an alleged al-Qaida financier, and his family has received little sympathy in Canada, where they’ve been called the “First Family of Terrorism.”

In a documentary by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., one of Khadr’s brothers, Abdurahman Khadr, acknowledged that their Egyptian-born father, Ahmed Said Khadr, and some of his brothers fought for al-Qaida and had stayed with Osama bin Laden.

The father was killed in Pakistan in 2003 when a Pakistani military helicopter shelled the house where he was staying with some senior al-Qaida operatives. One brother, Abdullah Khadr, is being held in Canada on a U.S. extradition warrant, accused of supplying weapons to al-Qaida.

General Anticipates Another Decade In Iraq

American air support and ground troops will likely have to stay for another five or ten years.

WITN TV |  Jan 18, 2008

The number-two U.S. commander in Iraq says the military should be able to draw down forces at a slow but consistent pace as security conditions improve.

Army Lieutenant General Ray Odierno says he thinks Iraqi forces will be able to take over security much more quickly than they have suggested.

Still, he says American air support and ground troops will likely have to stay for another five or ten years.

Odierno says officials don’t want to suddenly pull out “a whole bunch of U.S. forces” and turn things over to Iraqi security forces.

Odierno’s comments come after Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed hope that the pace of troop drawdowns will keep up through the second half of the year.

Odierno says that depends on the results of withdrawals under way right now.

Former secretary of Homeland Security says waterboarding is torture


‘No doubt,’ says Tom Ridge, first Homeland Security secretary

MSNBC | Jan 18, 2008

Former Bush official: Waterboarding is torture

WASHINGTON – The first secretary of the Homeland Security Department says waterboarding is torture.

“There’s just no doubt in my mind — under any set of rules — waterboarding is torture,” Tom Ridge said Friday in an interview. Ridge had offered the same opinion earlier in the day to members of the American Bar Association at a homeland security conference.

“One of America’s greatest strengths is the soft power of our value system and how we treat prisoners of war, and we don’t torture,” Ridge said in the interview. Ridge was secretary of the Homeland Security Department between 2003 and 2005. “And I believe, unlike others in the administration, that waterboarding was, is — and will always be — torture. That’s a simple statement.”

Waterboarding is a harsh interrogation tactic that was used by CIA officers in 2002 and 2003 on three alleged al-Qaida terrorists. The tactic gives the subject the sensation of drowning.

The CIA has not used the technique since 2003, and CIA Director Michael Hayden prohibited it in 2006, according to U.S. officials. The debate was recently revived when the CIA revealed it had destroyed videotapes showing the interrogations of two alleged terrorists, both of whom were waterboarded.

Fuzzy message on waterboarding

Ridge’s comments come a week after a report that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said he would consider waterboarding torture if it were used against him.

In a separate interview Thursday, the current Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff, refused to say what he thinks of the interrogation technique. Chertoff, a former federal prosecutor and judge — who was also assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in 2002 — said the question should be asked in the context of a specific set of facts and a specific statute and should not be posed abstractly.

“This is too important a discussion to have based on throwing one question at somebody,” Chertoff said.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey has declined so far to rule on whether waterboarding constitutes torture. An affirmative finding by Mukasey could put at risk the CIA interrogators who were authorized by the White House in 2002 to waterboard three prisoners deemed resistant to conventional techniques.

‘No idea’ how CIA got intelligence
Ridge, homeland security adviser and then secretary from 2001 to 2005, said he was not involved in the discussions about CIA interrogation techniques. Rather, his department was a consumer of any intelligence gleaned from them.

“I have no idea how any of the intelligence community extrapolated any information from anybody — where they got it, how they got it, and from whom they got it. But waterboarding is torture.”

Ridge, a lawyer, wades into the waterboarding debate with both a military and civilian background. He is also a former Pennsylvania governor and congressman. He has since started his own homeland security consulting firm.

Fury escalates as energy bosses scoop up ‘obscene’ profits but STILL raise fuel bills to record high

This is London | Jan 19, 2008

Energy suppliers were attacked yesterday for scooping a £9billion cash windfall at the same time as driving fuel bills to record highs.

MPs, consumer groups and poverty action campaigners described the bonanza as obscene.

The windfall comes from a complicated EU initiative called the Emissions Trading Scheme, designed to reduce pollution.

The electricity generators have been given ‘permits’ to emit climate-warming gases between 2008 and 2012, the second phase of the scheme.

Despite not paying for the permits, they have raised the price of wholesale electricity to reflect their supposed cost.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, estimates the firms will make about £9billion from this.

Their extraordinary payday comes as a typical family’s typical fuel bill has almost doubled over the last five years to £1,000.

Some four million Britons are living in “fuel poverty”, defined as those who spend more than 10 per cent of their income on fuel.

Over the last fortnight, two more energy companies have stung customers with inflationbustingprices rises of up to 27 per cent and Ofgem has urged ministers to use the windfall to help those struggling to pay their fuel bills.

But Chancellor Alistair Darling, who met Ofgem officials on Tuesday, is rejecting calls for a super-tax. It would be similar to the windfall tax imposed on privatised utilities after Labour’s election in 1997.

Energy companies including the German- owned Npower, which raised its prices a few days after Christmas, fiercely oppose the move.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: “It is totally wrong that the companies should be given a licence to print money on this scale.

“Electricity companies, which are already pushing up prices, should not be gifted with £9billion.

“With 25,000 people predicted to die from the cold this winter alone, the Government must act on the recommendations of its regulator.’

Alistair Buchanan, chief executive of Ofgem, said: “We said, ‘Look, there’s a £9billion windfall there and you could somehow take part of that to pay for your programmes for the fuel poor’.”

A spokesman for independent conbeensumer group Energywatch said: “How can Ofgem tell the Chancellor that the market is sound and then in the next breath say there is £9billion of unearned income sitting there that could be super-taxed without their heads spinning?”

Labour MP Elliot Morley described the profits as “obscene” in the Commons last week.

Elderly man arrested and locked up for shouting at gang of youths

Pensioner arrested and locked in cell for shouting at yobs who threw stones at ducks

This is London | Jan 19, 2008

A pensioner who ordered a gang of youths to stop throwing bricks at ducks on a canal was arrested and thrown into a cell by police.

When police officers knocked on his door Bill Marshall, 73, was expecting them to investigate his complaints about the unruly gang.

Instead the stunned great-grandfather was hauled off to a police cell accused of attacking the youths on the canal bank.

Yesterday the retired miner – who has a heart condition and diabetes – spoke of his shock and humiliation over the arrest.

He said : “I was shocked when a police officer turned up on my doorstep. I had made a number of complaints about anti-social behaviour from these yobs so I expected it was a response to that.

“I was quite happy to invite him in but then he said I was being arrested and taken to the station accused of assault. I thought it was a joke at first but then I realised he was perfectly serious.

“The officer ordered me to take the laces out my shoes as I was being arrested for common assault. I didn’t know what to think.”

Mr Marshall was driven to the police station and put into a cell before having to wait two hours for a duty solicitor.

He was interviewed by officers over the alleged assault before finally being released pending further inquiries.

But weeks after the incident police have now formally dropped any charges against the pensioner and apologised.

Mr Marshall’s ordeal began shortly before Christmas when he spotted the group of teenage boys throwing bricks at ducks as he walked along the banks of the Chesterfield Canal.

He shouted at them to stop but received a barrage of abuse from the aggressive gang who continued to throw stones.

Mr Marshall of Shireoaks, near Worksop, Notts admitted shouting back at the group in anger but said he was nowhere near them and did not touch them.

However one youth reported the incident to police claiming the pensioner had struck him during the altercation.

He said: “One of the yobs said I had hit him and so they took his word against mine. I might have lost my temper and shouted at them but I did not hit anybody.

“I am a 73-year-old pensioner and they were a gang of youths. I wasn’t going to try and take them on at my age.”

“It took 73 years for an idiot to put me in jail. All I did was try to stop these louts throwing rocks at the ducks on the canal.

“I felt degraded spending time in that cell. I can’t believe I ended up in jail at my age. I’ve never seen the inside of a cell before and I don’t want to see it again. The police seemed to automatically assumed I was guilty instead of talking to me first.”

Mr Marshall said the same gang had targetted him and his wife, Margaret, 72, at their home in recent months.

His case was taken up by local councillor, Ivor Jones, who thought Mr Marshall had been unfairly treated by police.

State backs off demand to run home thermostats

‘It is of utmost importance that consumers make their own energy decisions’

WorldNetDaily.com | Jan 18, 2008

The state of California has halted, at least for now, a plan that would have allowed utilities to control the thermostats inside residents’ homes remotely, instead making plans to work on a “voluntary” program.

The plan as outlined just days ago would have targeted rolling blackouts and freed up electric and natural gas resources by requiring every new heating or cooling system to include a “non-removable” FM receiver, under the threat of withholding building permits for nonparticipation.

Such thermostats would have been wired to control heating and cooling systems as well as other appliances in the house, such as electric water waters, refrigerators, pool pumps, computers and lights, in response to signals from utility companies.

However, in a new statement on the website of the California Energy Commission, officials are admitting that residents actually should be the ones to make decisions regarding their energy usage.

“Technology can be a powerful tool in managing our energy use. However, it is of utmost importance that consumers make their own energy decisions,” the statement said.

Officials confirmed it was the “considerable discussion” about the programmable communicating thermostats and the state proposal that required their installation in any new construction that triggered the change.

“On Jan. 15, 2008, the Energy Commission’s Efficiency Committee … directed that PCTs be removed from the proposed 2008 energy efficiency building standards,” the state announced.

“The Committee also asked that the value and concerns related to the potential application of PCTs be considered with other demand response technologies in the Energy Commission’s Load Management proceeding that began recently,” the announcement continued. “It is important that consumers have the ability to opt out of or into demand response programs, such as those involving the PCT.”

The website continued to describe the devices as a “valuable tool to dampen peak electricity use” and such strategies are an alternative to “costly new power plants.”

“While more needs to be done to keep up with the needs of our ever-increasing population, it’s not the job of the (state) to go into peoples’ homes and control their thermostats,” Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys and the head of the state Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The proposal was set to be considered by the commission Jan. 30, and would have required each thermostat to be equipped with a radio communication device to send “price signals” and automatically adjust temperature up or down four degrees for cooling and heating, as California’s public and private utility organizations deem necessary.

Claudia Chandler, assistant executive director for the California Energy Commission, had told WND how beneficial to residents the system would be.

“From the Energy Commission’s perspective, all we’re doing is ensuring that this new technology is included in new homes instead of the older programmable technology,” she said.

She said the plan was for utilities to step in and change home and business thermostat settings when “utilities need to implement rolling blackouts and drop load in order to be able to meet their supplies because the integrity of the grid is being jeopardized.”

She explained residents would be able to manually override controls in all cases, but the 2008 Building Efficiency Standards (Page 64), known as Title 24, specifically stated: “The PCT shall not allow customer changes to thermostat settings during emergency events.”

Michael Shames, executive director of California’s Utility Consumers’ Action Network, said denying consumers control over their own appliances is a highly problematic concept.

“The implications of this language are far-reaching and Orwellian,” he said. “For the government and utility company to say, ‘We’re going to control the devices in your house, and you have no choice in that matter,’ that’s where the line is drawn. That sentence must be removed.”

But Jim Gunshinan, managing editor of Home Energy, based in Berkley, Calif., advocated for the plan, citing consumer benefits, such as controlling a thermostat via the Internet.

“That means someone can turn on the air conditioning before they leave work for home and have the house comfortable when they walk in the door. Or if they forgot before leaving home for a ski trip, they can remotely lower the thermostat at home and save money.”