Daily Archives: October 10, 2008

Traditional lightbulbs banned by EU

Incandescent filament light bulbs use up to five times as much energy as efficient lights Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Traditional light bulbs are to be banned from 2010, EU energy ministers have decided.

Telegraph | Oct 10, 2008

By Louise Gray

The high energy filament bulbs are being phased out in order to improve energy efficiency and meet climate change targets.

The switchover, which will affect all of the European Union’s 500 million citizens, was first ordered at a Brussels summit last year as part of an ambitious energy policy to fight climate change.

A meeting of EU energy ministers, including the UK’s new secretary of state for energy and climate change Ed Miliband decided to go ahead with the ban.

The move has previously proved controversial.

Traditional light bulbs are around 38p compared to £1.38 for the cheapest low energy models and campaigners have complained about affordability, as well as the cost of having to adapt fittings for the new bulbs.

The fluorescent bulbs generally take time to warm up and there have been complaints the light is too dim and has a tendency to flicker.

There are also worries over how the bulbs will be disposed of. Under new regulations for hazardous waste, councils are obliged to recycle low energy bulbs at considerable cost to the tax payer.

Incandescent filament light bulbs use up to five times as much energy as efficient lights such as “compact fluorescent lamps” (CFLs).

Advocates claim that replacing the worst-performing lamps with today’s best available technology will reduce domestic energy consumption for lighting by 60 per cent in the EU, equivalent to saving 30 million tons of CO2 pollution every year.

However questions remain over the cost, health impact and aesthetic quality of the new low-energy fluorescent bulbs.

There have been concerns low energy bulbs can cause headaches, rashes and even sunburn. If the bulbs break the toxic mecury inside can cause migraine and dizziness. The bulbs are also too big for some old-fashioned fittings, can look out of place in historic homes and are generally more expensive – although the EU has vowed cost will come down before 2010.

The Health Protection Agency warned consumers they should not stay close to open energy saving bulbs for more than an hour.

Environmental groups welcomed the ruling.

Mariangiola Fabbri , World Wildlife Fund energy policy officer, said legislation is needed to ensure energy efficiency.

She said: “Keeping energy efficiency as an optional tool will not lead us towards the much needed 30 per cent greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2020.”

Energy ministers also discussed the controversial target to generate 20 per cent of energy from renewables by 2020 at the meeting. The UK has argued that aviation should be removed from the target because it is not yet possible to run aeroplanes on renewables and it could ground the industry. But most other EU ministers at the meeting agreed aviation should remain part of the target.

The EU council is due to meet next week to discuss the target to reduce carbon emission by 20 per cent by 2020. Previously the EU had pledged this will be increased to 30 per cent as long as the rest of the developed world does the same.

But environmentalists fear this pledge will be dropped in the light of the economic crisis, scuppering hoped of an ambitious world target at the UN climate change talks planned for Copenhagen next year.

Ancestry.com Reveals Who Would be King of America

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Both Bush, Kerry: kin to Dracula?
“Blood is a requirement in politics,” said Beau Sharbrough, a genealogist for MyFamily.com, who couldn’t be certain which candidate would take the vampire vote next week.

What if America had its own Royal family?

Ancestry.com Reveals Who Would be King of America and Candidate Roots as Presidential Election Approaches

Intl Business Times | Oct 8, 2008

PROVO, Utah, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ — If George Washington had been America’s king instead of its first president, an 82-year-old retired regional manager from San Antonio, Texas would be King of America today. As red and blue battleground states emerge in the upcoming presidential election, Americans may be interested to know that Senator Barack Obama has deep roots in Ohio or that Senator John McCain has family members from North Carolina on both sides of his family tree. And research into Governor Sarah Palin’s family history revealed she is the 10th cousin to Lady Diana Spencer, Britain’s beloved Princess Di, as well as a distant cousin to Franklin D. Roosevelt, one of the country’s most popular presidents.

As the country prepares to elect the 44th U.S. president, genealogy experts at Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online family history resource, researched answers to some interesting questions surrounding this year’s landmark presidential election. From the lineage of the first president, tothe family roots of today’s presidential and vice presidential candidates, the findings may evoke an interesting debate.

KING OF AMERICA

Many Americans are fascinated by the British royal family — but what ifAmerica had its own Royal family? The experts at Ancestry.com asked, “Who would be sitting on America’s throne today if George Washington had become theking instead of the first U.S. president?” After countless hours of researchto trace Washington’s family lineage, the following facts emerged to determine which of his descendents would likely be King of America today had the U.S.become a monarchy rather than a democracy in 1789:

— King George? – According to sources, Washington’s leadership duringand after the Revolutionary War was held in such high esteem, there were thosewho suggested he become America’s first king.

— Wading Through the Washingtons – George Washington had no children, soresearching the descendants through all of his half- and full-siblings meantapproximately 8,000 people could factor into the succession equation, withless than 200 of them bearing the Washington surname.

— Would-be Royal – Since George Washington had an older half brother and a younger full brother, ultimately there were four possible succession paths.Two of the four paths, with male-only heirs, converge into one heir — Paul Emery Washington, 82, of San Antonio, Texas — making him the strongest candidate for king today. Paul Emery Washington also has a son, Bill, who heaffectionately calls “Prince William.”

— Valley Forge Connection – Paul Emery Washington was a regional managerat Certain-Teed Corp., a manufacturer and distributor of wholesale buildingmaterials for 40 years. The company was headquartered in Valley Forge, Pa., where coincidentally General Washington and his army camped during the difficult winter of 1778-79.

BATTLEGROUND STATES

In every presidential election, certain U.S. states emerge as criticalbattleground states key to winning the White House. The experts at Ancestry.com researched the family history of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates to learn which of the often referred to battle-ground states could claim the candidates as their own, with some surprising discoveries.

— Senator John McCain – McCain has North Carolina roots on both sides ofhis family tree, extending to the mid 1700s. He is also connected to the stateof Arkansas through his paternal grandmother, Katherine Vaulx, a teacher whowas born in Arkansas. Katherine’s parents, James Vaulx and Margaret Garside, were long-time residents of Arkansas where James was a minister. Familymembers in his tree served in both the military and the financial sector: hisfather and grandfather both had careers in the U.S. Navy and great grandfather John S. McCain is documented in the 1900 U.S. Census as the treasurer of Carroll County, Mississippi.

— Senator Barack Obama – Obama has deep roots in the state of Ohio thatgo back to 1850. Obama’s heritage can be traced back to Ireland, to the smalltowns of Moneygall and Shinrone in County Offaly, Ireland. Obama’s thirdgreat-grandfather, Falmouth Kearney, immigrated to the U.S. at age 19, landing in New York harbor on March 20, 1850 and then settling in Fayette County, Ohioamong Irish relatives. In addition, Obama has roots extending into the swingstates of Virginia, Indiana and Missouri.

— Senator Joe Biden – Biden also has a strong Irish heritage; hisancestors arrived in the U.S. within six months of Obama’s Irish family. BothObama’s and Biden’s Irish relatives were shoemakers by trade. Biden has deepPennsylvania ties: Patrick and Catherine Blewett, Biden’s 2ndgreat-grandparents, settled in Scranton, Pennsylvania, around 1860, wherePatrick worked as a surveyor and a civil engineer.

— Governor Sarah Palin – Palin has roots in several battleground states,including Ohio, Minnesota and Virginia, however, most of her roots are plantedin Connecticut and Massachusetts. Palin descends from three consecutive generations of Michael Sheerans, who originate in Ireland; hergreat-great-grandfather Sheeran ran a firm called Sheeran & Filler Bottling Company, which shipped products across the Northwest. According to published family and local histories — through a common ancestor, Rev. John Lothrop who arrived in Massachusetts colony in 1634 — Palin is a distant cousin to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who is touted in history as one of the country’s most popular presidents. Gov. Palin is also a 10th cousin to Lady Diana Spencer,Britain’s beloved Princess Di, through common ancestors John Strong and Abigail Ford.

ALL IN THE FAMILY

According to a recent independent survey from Ancestry.com, Americans would choose to be a member of the Obama family more than any of four other prominent political families.(1) When asked which family they would like to join most, 21 percent chose the Obamas, followed by 15 percent for the Palins and 15 percent for the Clintons, 14 percent for the McCains and 3 percent forthe Biden family. Nearly one-third of Americans surveyed (30 percent), however, said they wouldn’t want to become a member of any of these political families.

“Most presidential elections bring up issues about where we’ve come from and where we’re headed as a nation, and this election year is no different,”said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com. “This is an ideal time for our family history experts to play historical what-ifs and conduct research to answer intriguing questions, as well as look into the family trees of our candidates to learn about where they come from and the ties they have in our great country.”

Go to a climate party — change your lifestyle

The movement Climate Action has grown explosively since the start in May 2008, which shows that people are passionate about climate change. Photo: http://www.klimataktion.se

Sweden.Se | Oct 3, 2008

by: Christine Demsteader

Open your front door to friends and the future of the planet. The climate party is the new Tupperware party in Sweden, where the only thing on offer is a change of lifestyle.

It’s a Saturday afternoon in the Stockholm suburbs and Eva Brandtell has invited six friends over to her place for a party. In the last year, Eva has become increasingly aware of the threat to the environment, having seen the climate change debate hitting the headlines in newspapers and on TV.

Eager to find out more, she’s throwing a climate party, with coffee, cake and a portion of planet saving on the side. Tomas Walch — IT consultant, campaigner and brains behind the idea — introduces himself: “Hi, my name is Tomas,” he says. “I’m a fossil fuel addict.”
Spreading the word

The causes and effects of global warming are on the agenda with the underlying message that it’s time to act now.

“The climate party is a very powerful way of getting the message through,” Walch says. “It’s personal, through somebody you trust; a friend who has invited you to her/his home.

“People are open-minded and prepared to listen. It’s not only about encouraging people to adopt a new lifestyle but influencing them to spread the word.”

Only 10 minutes into his presentation and the guests are already responding: “So what can I do to help?” one climate partygoer asks.

Power to the people

Walch’s diary is filling up with party requests, especially since he joined forces with the recently formed Swedish movement Climate Action (Klimataktion).

Lina Hjort, a Stockholm mother of two and Climate Action board member, promotes the climate party idea. “Climate Action is about activating people and these parties are a good example of the way the organization works,” she says.

“Having kids is perhaps one reason why I got involved. It’s about what kind of planet we give to our next generation.”

Climate party goers listen attentively to Tomas Walch preaching about a greener lifestyle. Photo: Lars Epstein / Scanpix

Formed in May 2008 by a group of like-minded people, Climate Action is a non-religious, non-partisan organization, founded by the people, for the people.

“It’s important that everyone feels they have a place in this movement, regardless of background, profession or age,” Hjort says. “It’s doesn’t matter how many books you have read or how knowledgeable you are. What matters is that you have passion and want to do something about climate change.”

The grass roots group has grown rapidly into a national network, with 16 local branches spread around the country. On a local level, Climate Action is working toward influencing policy change in transportation and infrastructure. Operational groups have been set up in areas such as energy, city planning and traffic and information sharing. Collectively, the aim is to lobby policymakers on a national level to achieve further carbon emission cuts and the introduction of a climate budget.

“It’s early days, but our first achievement is probably that we have grown so quickly and we have a truly diverse membership,” Hjort says. “It proves there was a need for this kind of movement.”
Grass roots are greener

Climate Action achieved early recognition through a petition in a national newspaper, when 56 scientists, journalists and commentators pledged to support their cause.

Katarina Eckerberg, professor in political science at Umeå University and deputy director at the Stockholm Environment Institute, signed up. “I sympathize with what the movement is doing and, as a citizen, I also want to make my voice heard,” she says.

Many parents want to be able to offer their kids a climate friendlier future.

“If you really want change, the local level is the place to start. It’s necessary for politicians to listen and take action, and I believe this kind of bottom-up organizations can really make a difference.

“Newspapers are full of information about consequences, but not the solutions. This is a way for people to find solutions and act on them.”

Waste of energy

Yet, parts of the scientific community have a different opinion on the matter. According to Lars Franzén, professor in physical geography at the University of Gothenburg, the media is doing society a disservice.

“The media are simply adding to the hysteria, blaming everything on climate change,” he says. “And here in Sweden, people have a conscience about environmental problems and feel the need to act.”

Franzén believes the hype is part of a misleading, global political agenda and lack of energy is the burning issue. “Fossil fuels as an energy resource are not endless,” Franzén says. “Politicians need us to stop consuming them, and the trigger they are using is climate change.”

However controversial an issue, climate change continues to be widely debated, reported on and acted upon in Sweden. Climate change has even become the reason for a rather unconventional celebration, the climate party.

EU flag and anthem viewed as threats to national sovereignty


‘Sovereignty threat’ after European parliament adopts flag and anthem

The European parliament has officially adopted an anthem and flag which were left out of the Lisbon treaty for fears they appeared federalist.

Telegraph | Oct 9, 2008

Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the final movement of his choral ninth symphony, will be used to open the parliament after each election and for formal sittings where heads of state are present.

The blue flag with 12 gold stars will be flown on all parliament buildings and displayed in parliament meeting rooms and official events.

While the symbols were agreed on in 1985 by EU heads of state, they have not been formally enshrined lest the union appear too like a sovereign state.

Timothy Kirkhope, a Conservative member of the European parliament, said he would refuse to stand for the anthem at sessions.

“Ode to Joy may be a very nice tune, but so is Jingle Bells and like Jingle Bells it heralds a fantasy – the fantasy that the EU is good for you,” he said. “But unlike Jingle Bells, it will damage your national sovereignty and the right to control your own destiny.”

Supporters of the symbols said they would send “a political message to our citizens”.

The Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff, a European federalist, said opposition to the move was nothing but “petty nationalism”.

The Labour MEP Richard Corbett said Conservative MEPs who voted against the symbols were going against the wishes of Baroness Thatcher, who helped choose them in 1985.

Barack Obama Joined Marxist Third Party In 1990s

Obama: ‘Theoretically’ OK for Courts to Redistribute Wealth
Back in 2001, Barack Obama gave an interview to a Chicago public radio station in which he talked about using the Supreme Court, the most undemocratic of the three branches of government (nonelected, lifetime terms), to “spread the wealth.”
Blogger News | Oct 9, 2008

by Bob Hayes

Democratic candidate Barack Obama was a member of the socialist New Party during the 1990s, according to new evidence unearthed by web bloggers, receiving the party’s endorsement for his state Senate run in 1996. Reports earlier this summer that Obama was associated with the New Party were vigorously denied by the Obama campaign and the New Party, but researchers examining Internet archives have found New Party documents clearly indicating Obama was a member of the party, received its endorsement, encouraged Party members to work with him in the Illinois statehouse, and signed a contract agreeing to maintain a relationship with the Marxist-led party during his senate term.

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The New Party was active in the United States from 1992 to 1998, and was strongly affiliated with Marxist and socialist organizations including the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). The Party’s Chicago chapter included a large number of Maoist and communist members, and a large number of members of the leftist organizing group ACORN. The New Party practiced electoral fusion, an attempt to make third parties more viable by allowing candidates to run on the tickets of more than one party and “fuse” the votes received on those party lines. For example, a candidate could run as both a Democrat and as a New Party member, and accumulate votes from both entries on the ballot. A handful of US states permit fusion-type ballots (Illinois not among them), and the New Party achieved some success in promoting the campaigns of far-left candidates in liberal areas of the country. The avowed purpose of the New Party was to push the Democratic party to the left and to usher in socialist governance in the United States under a Democratic label.

A 1997 Supreme Court ruling held that there was no right to the fusion mechanism if a state did not permit it, shutting down New Party hopes that the fusion model could be spread through judicial fiat to all 50 states. The party dwindled in significance and although it maintains a web presence, does not appear to be currently active in politics.

There will be considerable wailing from the left about McCarthyism and guilt by association as this story gains circulation and traction. I believe these complaints to be unfounded. It is one thing to smear artistic figures for their perhaps-naive participation in a totalitarian political movement; it is another thing to accurately report on the political affiliations of a candidate for the nation’s highest office. The American people have a right to know what their candidates truly espouse, and we have a right to know the truth about what our candidates have done in their lives before they threw their hat into the ring. It is not illegal to belong to a socialist, even a communist, party in the United States. As part of our political freedoms, we are entitled to believe what we wish, and to work peacefully to have those beliefs enshrined into law. Free marketeers, communists, socialists, classical liberals, protectionists – all are welcome in our free polity to advocate for their beliefs. However, a key element of our electoral system’s integrity is the idea that people must stand up for their beliefs.

It is not acceptable to run for office as a mixed-market liberal while hiding a socialist or communist agenda, though. Is that what Barack Obama is doing? The fact is, we don’t know – because he will not tell us. He has denied or minimized these affiliations with hard-left figures, denied his membership in these Marxist political parties, and denied holding these beliefs. He has refused to discuss his college years, refused to discuss his membership and participation in hard-left groups and his activism on hard-left issues. We are told to ignore the past and to simply trust him on his intentions for the future. I would have a hard time mustering that trust for any political figure; to extend that trust to a figure with a track record of belonging to socialist political groups and lying about that membership would be a dangerous folly.

Will the mainstream media cover what once were allegations but which now appear to be proven facts? It will be difficult for them to justify not covering them, after the extensive coverage of the connections between Todd Palin and the Alaska Independence Party. The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and MSNBC, among others, are MSM outlets which devoted considerable ink and pixels to covering the Palin-AIP connection. If the media do not cover this story, conservatives can easily be forgiven for seeing that as another truckload of evidence that many figures in the media are not covering the election, they are working as adjunct staffers for the Obama campaign. If the husband of a vice-presidential candidate’s membership in a political party is news, then it is manifestly and undeniably obvious that the membership of a presidential candidate in a political party is news. Some elements of the MSM have recognized that they must cover these issues; CNN has broken from the herd and begun to report the truth about Obama’s long-time and substantial association with unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers.

US told to increase nuclear arsenal as China threat looms

The report said the US had allowed its nuclear stockpile to ‘deteriorate’  Photo: AP

The US must increase its nuclear arsenal in response to China’s growing military might, according to a State Department report.

Telegraph | Oct 9, 2008

By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai

The International Security and Advisory Board (Isab), which reports to Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, warned that “holding the US homeland hostage to missile attack is important to Chinese military goals”.

It claimed that China will have “in excess of 100 nuclear-armed missiles that could strike the United States” by 2015.

By contrast, it said the US had allowed its nuclear stockpile and expertise to “deteriorate and atrophy across the board” for the last two decades.

The ISAB is chaired by Paul Wolfowitz, the former World Bank president who was often referred to as the “major architect” of the war in Iraq while he was deputy defence secretary.

Mr Wolfowitz was appointed by Miss Rice last year. Other hawkish members of the Isab are Robert Joseph, the former undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs, and James Schlesinger, the former defence secretary. Executives from arms companies such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing also sit on the board.

The ISAB was asked to draft a report on how the US could bring its relationship with China “towards greater transparency and mutual confidence”.

Hans M Kristensen, a director at the Federation of American Scientists, an anti-nuclear think tank in Washington, said that instead the report “appears to have drawn up a very effective plan for a Cold War with China”.

He added: “The authors land on a set of recommendations and observations that strongly resemble a China-version of the Reagan administration’s aggressive military posture against the Soviet Union.” Mr Kristensen also called on Miss Rice to disown the Isab’s conclusions.

The ten-page report, which was leaked onto the internet, seems to justify a decision by the US to sell $6.5 billion (£3.6 billion) of arms to Taiwan, a move that has infuriated China and led it to cut several high-level military ties with the US. Mr Wolfowitz is also chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council.

The report suggests that a conflict between the US and China could be triggered by the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty and claims China will invade the island in the near future. “If China is to become a global power, the first step must include control [of Taiwan],” it states.

It adds that there has been a “substantial expansion” of China’s nuclear arsenal in order to force America to “back away rather than fight”. The report claims China has “new thermonuclear warheads as well as tactical arms, encompassing enhanced radiation weapons, nuclear artillery, and anti-ship weapons”. Current US intelligence reports paint a less dramatic picture and there is no evidence of a tactical nuclear arsenal.

It also claims that “Chinese espionage in the United States is comprehensive and pervasive” and that there is no point in trying to shape Chinese policy by “educating” the Chinese. Instead, the US must build a new missile shield and “undertake the development of new weapons […] to convince China that it will not be able to overcome the US militarily.”

China’s military build-up has also unsettled Japan, after a series of large-scale spending increases. The defence budget rose by 17.8 per cent in 2007 and then by 27 per cent in 2008 to £35.4 billion.

The Chinese ambassador to the US, Zhou Wenzhong, has urged America to stop selling weapons to Taiwan and to recognise China’s authority over the island.

“The US has made a very serious commitment to China as far as the question of Taiwan is concerned,” he said, referring to a joint communique inked in August that states the US will reduce its arms sales to the island.

“Obviously that is not happening. We hope the US will honour its commitment by not just words but action”.

American Royalty: Palin related to Princess Diana and Roosevelt

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is distantly related to the late Princess Diana and late U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.

Red Ice | Oct 9, 2008

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is distantly related to the late Princess Diana and late U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, genealogy experts said on Wednesday.

The governor of Alaska and the princess are tenth cousins, while Palin and Roosevelt are ninth cousins once removed, said Ancestry.com, online genealogists based in Provo, Utah.

The genealogical connections are not the first to gain attention in the U.S. presidential campaign. Last year, Lynne Cheney said she found while tracing her family roots that her husband Vice President Dick Cheney was a distant cousin of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Other researchers discovered Obama is distant cousins with actor Brad Pitt.

“When you’ve got candidates who have deep roots in America, there’s a good chance that they’re going to have some famous cousins,” said Ancestry.com’s chief family historian Megan Smolenyak.

“We’ve all got literally millions of cousins. The trick is finding that one little connection that results in something like Sarah Palin being related to FDR or Diana,” she said.

Palin and the late princess descended from John Strong and his wife Abigail Ford, Ancestry.com said.

Strong was born around 1605 in England and emigrated to the United States, where he died in Massachusetts in 1699, Ancestry.com said.

Palin and Roosevelt share ancestor John Lothrop, who was born in England in 1584 and also emigrated to America, where he died in Massachusetts in 1653, Ancestry.com said.
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