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On the Blogs: A Better Future for Coal Workers

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Adele Morris for the Brookings Institution:Some politicians call climate or other environmental policies a “war on coal,” framing the measures as an attack on the well-being of hard working Americans. Others chafe at such rhetoric, arguing it is aimed at derailing sensible measures to reduce the risks of global climatic disruption and harmful air pollution. Whatever the merits in each side’s arguments, it is increasingly clear that owing to both market-driven trends and environmental policies, workers in the coal industry and their communities are rightly concerned about their future.The coal sector is already changing dramatically, particularly but not only in Appalachia. Job losses are mounting. Longstanding firms are facing bankruptcy, and retiree benefits are under threat. Some communities are experiencing deteriorating fiscal conditions, and many residents in the coalfields have important unmet healthcare needs. In addition, even while coal improved countless lives by fueling affordable, reliable electricity, many decades of coal production have scarred landscapes and impaired waterways, and reclamation liabilities could be underfunded. Federal policies to control carbon dioxide emissions, if they are implemented as planned, will decrease coal consumption further, exacerbating all of these challenges.Addressing these concerns is urgent. A well-designed well-funded package of federal policies could help hard-hit communities and families make the necessary transitions to a more diverse economic base, to new careers, and through retirement. A truly effective set of measures could also assure policymakers that environmental protection doesn’t have to kick people when they’re down, and if done well may even make them better off than they would have been absent climate policy.This paper reviews the challenges facing the coal workforce and the case for significant federal investment those workers and the areas in which they live.Section 2 examines recent trends and the outlook for the industry under current and alternative policies with an eye to understanding the implications for the associated workforce.Section 3 explores the specific needs of the affected individuals and communities and summarizes literature on previous transition programs.Section 4 reviews current legislative and budget proposals. It concludes that they include promising approaches, but their funding levels are unlikely to be sufficient to address appropriately the myriad needs outlined in Section 3.Section 5 argues that replacing Clean Air Act regulations with a tax on the carbon content of fossil fuels and other greenhouse gas emissions could provide more-than-ample resources to advance the well-being of coalfield workers and communities, while at the same time producing superior environmental and macroeconomic outcomes.The paper draws on insights from a November 2015 workshop at Brookings that gathered a high level group of experts and stakeholders. The conclusions are strictly those of the author.Build a better future for coal workers and their communities On the Blogs: A Better Future for Coal Workerslast_img read more

Bears & Motorcycles Play Montauk Music Festival – May 16-19

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Long Island-based band and this year’s Break Contest winners Bears & Motorcycles head to the East End this weekend for The Montauk Music Festival, a four day musical celebration featuring talented up-and-coming independent artists.Forged in the summer of 2012, Long Island’s Bears & Motorcycles began with three members: Dillon Mealey, Jeff Alvarado, and Brendan McGrath. The trio started writing raw, unpolished blues-rock in the backyard of a long island suburb in the heat of that summer. What soon would develop into heart wrenching anthems and fiery hooks had begun to take shape.Within a few months two new members were added to complete the lineup. Professionally trained jazz/blues keys player Will Mahlan and the promising young drummer Jonathan Brick. With sounds drawing from the influences of the acid-washed, blues driven rock of the ’60s and ’70s and the catchy fervor of newer band from the 2000s and beyond this sound is something you can’t quite put your finger on.Bears and Motorcycles won The Break Contest two weeks ago at the Encore Event Center in New Jersey and GameChanger is featuring the band’s music in a video game that will be released in early 2014.More than 100 artists boasting a wide variety of musical styles (from alternative, rock, folk, pop, Americana, reggae, blues, jazz, bluegrass, to flamenco, rap, hip-hop, country, metal, and more), will be performing for free in the spirit of sharing original music with audiences and fellow musicians at this weekend’s event.In its third year of production, the festival has cultivated an atmosphere of goodwill promoting local charities, connecting local New York “island” musicians with those from as far away as Vermont and California.  Music lovers and performers alike are drawn to the beautiful oceanside playground of Montauk to promote and share art.Click here for full schedule and details on The Montauk Music Festival.last_img read more

Psst! Pass it on … Passwords aren’t enough

first_imgWe’ve had a heck of a summer for data breaches, but the June hacking of LastPass is beyond simple irony. If a password management company fails to protect customer information, what’s it going to take for anyone to get serious about data security? And whose job is it? The short answer is “everyone’s.” But the better answer is it’s time for online organizations – most especially financial service providers – to step up to the available technology and take real action to safeguard the sensitive information they store on behalf of members.For their part, consumers are catching on that passwords aren’t adequate protection when making online purchases or doing their banking. In fact, only about 30 percent feel confident in the safety of their passwords for online accounts, according to TeleSign’s June 2015 study, Consumer Account Security Report. And in its own study, consulting and technology firm Accenture found that nearly three-fourths of American consumers are open to alternatives to user names and passwords.What’s the matter with passwords?Passwords are frustrating and hard to manage, so people tend not to use them correctly. Most opt for simple ones because it’s a hassle to come up with and remember complex character combinations. And the average consumer has 24 accounts, according to TeleSign, meaning 24 passwords to remember. No wonder consumers reuse the same ones over again! Yet, passwords are the low-hanging fruit for cybercriminals wanting to break into someone’s account. And people often help them along by using basic word or number combinations, such as “password” or “1-2-3-4-5.”The most damning evidence comes from research by Daniel Solove of George Washington University, and Woodrow Hartzog of Samford and Stanford universities (“Should the FTC Kill the Password? New Paper Investigates”) a 2015 report published by the George Washington University Law School. Revealing the flawed nature of passwords the authors say we need better authentication … now.The staggering rate of data breaches is largely attributable to problems authenticating the identity of account holders, according to Solove and Hartzog. “It is clear that passwords are being used incorrectly in ways that make them a weak security mechanism … understandable given that authentication is needed on so many sites and systems – there are too many passwords for even those with the best memories to remember.”What should replace them?It’s well accepted that current password verification methods are weak, but what should replace them?Some security experts believe biometrics could be the answer to password security, although they aren’t widely available on most commercial devices, partly because of the expense and inconvenience. Plus, biometrics aren’t all that secure against serious hackers. Fingerprints can be lifted and voice recognition won’t work if you come down with laryngitis. Even using your retina is suspect, as the Europe-based Chaos Computer Club proved using high-res photography to hack iris scanners.Instead, experts say the most realistic consumer solution is multi-factor authentication, using passwords as part of at least a two-step process that includes something you know with something you have. In their research, Solove and Hartzog note that this protocol also can be flexible for organizations needing stronger measures, “the multi-factor approach to authentication can be adapted and made as strong as necessary. Companies could require three authentication factors in some contexts.”The authors believe the level of authentication should correspond to the degree of risk, noting that high-risk data, such as health records or financial information, would require extra precautions. If organizations that handle consumers’ sensitive data online don’t get serious about security, Solove and Hartzog believe the Federal Trade Commission should step in to require it.What can we do now?Use multifactor authentication with all customer PII. Place multi-factor authentication in front of your online banking platform and integrate single sign-on into the process to add customer convenience and lessen frustration. Then make sure members know it is available and how to turn it on. TeleSign’s survey revealed consumers want better security but 61% don’t even know what 2FA/MFA is. Help members understand the need for it to augment passwords.  Choose a service provider that uses best-practice encryption technology. Right now, most business protocol includes encryption in transit; e.g., encoding documents when they are emailed. But if those documents carry sensitive information, they are vulnerable when they reach their destination. Instead, documents with personal data should be encrypted both in transit and at rest. All financial institutions should use encryption at rest for their members’ PII. Explain the difference between authentication and secondary questions. Websites often ask for answers to queries like, “What’s your hometown?” But these “security” questions are not authentication-driven; they just make it easier for tech staff to reset lost passwords. Such a question is actually risky because the answer may be shared on social sites or elsewhere with the response always be the same. Instead, Huffington Post security writer Jeff Fox advises giving questions like “What’s your favorite sports team?” nonsensical answers like “vegetable soup.” Tell members the differences between types of cloud storage. Consumers fear having their personal information stolen, yet most don’t know how so-called “secure” cloud storage works. Help them understand that traditional, cloud-based services like Dropbox or Google Drive are meant for temporary, run-of-the-mill files – not their PII. Instead, offer them today’s version of a safe-deposit box, such as My Virtual StrongBox®, which offers data encryption from the moment documents are loaded throughout the time they are stored.Data breaches are reaching epic proportion, and securing information takes more vigilance and better processes than those used even five or 10 years ago. For financial institutions, whose reputations rest on the integrity of their customer information security, it’s time to get serious and use today’s best-of-breed technology. 158SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Ron Daly Ron Daly is the president and CEO of Virtual StrongBox, a secure, end-to-end member engagement platform that can be integrated into various workflow processes to provide high-risk Enterprise IT firms … Web: www.virtualstrongbox.com Detailslast_img read more

NCUA finalizes formal appeals framework

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr At Thursday’s Board meeting, the NCUA quickly finalized regulations which will give credit unions a much more structured and formal process for challenging supervisory determinations with which they disagree. The new regulations begin in January 2018.Judging by the lack luster response to this proposal—NCUA only received nine comment letters—this new regulation hasn’t sparked all that much interest in credit union land. I don’t know why. For as long as I have worked in the industry, I have heard complaints about how difficult it is to challenge examiner determinations. This new process has the potential of giving credit unions, and examiners for that matter, a fair and dispassionate way of resolving disputes. It also has the potential of providing a body of written decisions that all credit unions could use to help guide their interpretation of regulations.The list of material determinations for which appeals can be taken includes: (1) a composite examination rating of 3, 4 or 5; (2) a determination relating to the adequacy of loan loss reserve provisions; (3) the classification of loans and other assets that are significant to an insured credit union; (4) a determination regarding an insured credit union’s compliance with federal consumer financial law; (5) a determination on a waiver request or an application for additional authority where independent appeal procedures have not been specified in other NCUA regulations; and (6) a determination by the relevant reviewing authority that an appeal filed under this subchapter does not raise a material supervisory determination. continue reading »last_img read more

WHO seeks urgent push for pandemic flu vaccines

first_imgOct 23, 2006 (CIDRAP News) –Warning that the world is billions of doses short of the amount of vaccine needed to prepare for an influenza pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) today called for an urgent and coordinated international effort to make up the deficit.The agency recommended an immediate campaign to boost vaccine production capacity and develop vaccines that would provide broader and more durable protection—while cautioning that such efforts will not bear fruit for another 3 to 5 years.”We are presently several billion doses short of the amount of pandemic influenza vaccine we would need to protect the global population,” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, director of the WHO Initiative for Vaccine Research, said in a news release. “This could lead to a public health crisis.””Importantly, none of the strategies will be able to fill the gap in the immediate short term but, if action is taken now, should bear fruit within a future time frame of three to five years,” states the official summary of the WHO’s “Global pandemic influenza action plan to increase vaccine supply.”The report is the product of a meeting of 120 experts in Geneva in May.The WHO estimates the cost of the needed initiatives at US $3 billion to $10 billion.The world’s current production capacity for seasonal flu vaccine is estimated at 350 million doses a year, which could perhaps be pushed to 500 million doses with round-the-clock operation (each dose containing 15 micrograms of antigen for each of three flu strains), the report says.  Current expansion plans are expected to add another 280 million doses of annual capacity over the next 2 to 3 years, pushing the total to a maximum of 780 million doses.Under the most optimistic assumptions, if all facilities converted to making a single-strain pandemic flu vaccine, maximum world capacity by 2008 or 2009 would be about 2.34 billion doses, the report says. Given a world population of 6.7 billion, this would fall several billion doses short of the expected demand in a pandemic, it states.Further, it says that current egg-based production methods don’t work nearly as well for H5N1 flu vaccines as they do for seasonal flu vaccines. As a result, the current maximum capacity to make H5N1 vaccine is only about 500 million (single-strain) doses a year. Because each person would probably need two doses, only 250 million people could be fully vaccinated in a year.The WHO lays out three main steps for closing the vaccine supply gap:Increase use of seasonal flu vaccine to stimulate industry to produce more (while protecting more people from seasonal flu)Increase vaccine production capacity by improving yields and building new plantsIncrease research to (1) develop better vaccines that provide more protection with fewer doses and (2) produce vaccines faster and more efficientlyThe most direct way to improve production capacity is to increase the production yield and immunogenicity of H5N-based vaccines, the report says. The WHO hopes to improve coordination of efforts in this area by “creating a collaborative consortium of laboratories with the objective of developing better candidate prototype vaccine strains.”The plan lists various possibilities for building new vaccine production facilities, including transferring egg-based or cell-culture production to potential new manufacturers and partially converting veterinary vaccine production facilities to produce human flu vaccines.The report says various strategies may help increase production yields. Several candidate vaccines containing adjuvants—chemicals that stimulate the immune system—will be tested over the next 2 years, but funding will be needed to accelerate the systematic evaluation of the formulations under development, the WHO says.The agency also calls for more research on live attenuated flu vaccines, saying they may be more effective than inactivated vaccines, cost less to produce, and have higher yields. The plan also advocates further assessment of killed, whole-virus vaccines and of administering vaccines intradermally rather than intramuscularly.The WHO estimates the cost of all the strategies for boosting vaccine yields and production capacity at anywhere from $2 billion to $9 billion.Concerning the quest for better vaccines, the report says the ideal vaccine is one that is safe and effective in all target groups with a single dose, is easily produced on a large scale, is thermostable, provides protection for at least a year, and protects against “antigenically drifted” flu strains.The report recommends a number of approaches for developing better vaccines:Evaluate new adjuvantsAssess the molecular basis for the immunogenicity of hemagglutinin, one of the two surface proteins on flu virusesDevelop new-generation vaccines, such as ones that target viral proteins other than hemagglutininDetermine the potential benefits of giving a pre-pandemic vaccine to prime the immune system to respond to later vaccination with a pandemic vaccine.The plan also advocates standardizing protocols for evaluating new vaccine candidates and defining immune responses in lab animals that correlate with protection in humans.See also:Oct 23 WHO news releasehttp://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2006/pr58/en/index.htmlWHO reporthttp://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/influenza/CDS_EPR_GIP_2006_1.pdflast_img read more

The Future

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A world redrawn: US coronavirus response fatally ‘chaotic,’ says Noam Chomsky

first_imgQuestion: How do you read the current situation in the United States, where coronavirus has killed more residents than any other nation in the world?Answer: There’s no coherent leadership. It’s chaotic. The presidency, the White House, is in the hands of a sociopathic megalomaniac who’s interested in nothing but his own power, electoral prospects — doesn’t care what happens to the country, the world. The president himself has said that it’s none of his business. He’s said that the federal government can’t do anything.Nothing really matters except his personal power and gain. Of course he has to maintain the support of his primary constituency, which is great wealth and corporate power. The United States is on a chaotic path with no federal plan against the coronavirus pandemic as it reduces public health funding and ignores the advances of climate change, according to activist scholar Noam Chomsky, considered the founder of modern linguistics.What follows are extracts, edited for clarity, from an AFP interview with the 91-year-old leftist intellectual, who has authored more than 100 books and is currently a professor at the University of Arizona.For two months he’s been confined in Tucson with his Brazilian wife Valeria, his dog and a parrot who can say “sovereignty” in Portuguese. There’s 90,000 deaths and there will be a lot more…. There’s no coordinated plan.How do you view the political landscape emerging from this crisis in the US and elsewhere?As soon as Trump came in, his first move was to dismantle the entire pandemic prevention machinery. At the start, defunding the Center for Disease Control, which would deal with this. And canceling programs that were working with Chinese scientists to identify potential viruses. So the US was singularly unprepared.It’s a privatized society, very wealthy, with enormous advantages — far more than any other country — but it’s in the stranglehold of private control.It doesn’t have a universal health care system…. It’s the ultimate neoliberal system, actually.Europe in many ways is worse, because the austerity programs just amplify the danger, because of the severe attack on democracy in Europe, the shifting decisions to Brussels…. So Europe has its own problems, but at least it has the residue of some kind of social democratic structure, which provides some support, which is what I think is lacking in the US.As severe as this pandemic is, it’s not the worst problem. There will be recovery from the pandemic at severe cost … but there isn’t going to be any recovery from the melting of the polar ice caps and the rising of sea levels and the other deleterious effects of global warming.Several countries are using technology to track citizens, storing DNA to fight the virus. Are we entering a new era of digital surveillance, and what does this mean for privacy?There are now companies developing technology which make it possible for the employer … to look at what’s on your computer screen and to check your keystrokes and if you get up and walk away for a minute, they’ll send you a warning.That’s being installed right now…. It’s not the future.The so-called Internet of Things is coming along. It’s convenient. It means if you’re driving home you can turn on the stove — but it also means that that information is going to Google and Facebook, to the government, the American government, the French government, it’s an enormous amount of potential control ,surveillance and invasion. But this has happened. It’s not the future.If we allow the huge tech companies, the state, to control our life that’s what will happen. They’ll turn it into something like China, where you have social credit systems and in some cities you get a certain amount of credits, there’s face recognition technology all over the place and everything you do gets monitored.If you cross the street in the wrong place, you can … lose some credits, and so on.It’s not inevitable, just like global warming, that it’s going to happen — unless people stop it.Could it be justified to halt the virus’ spread?It might be — during the period of threat. There’s controls needed during wartime, you have rationing. But it doesn’t have to be permanent…. ‘Yes, we’ll let you have this authority now, but it can be revoked at any time.'”Topics :last_img read more

Governor Wolf, Legislators Introduce New Bipartisan Severance Tax Legislation

first_imgGovernor Wolf, Legislators Introduce New Bipartisan Severance Tax Legislation SHARE Email Facebook Twitter Press Release,  Severance Tax Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today was joined by a bipartisan coalition of legislative members to announce the introduction of legislation that will create a reasonable, commonsense severance tax in Pennsylvania. Senate Bill 1000, and its companion House Bill 2253, will give Pennsylvania’s citizens their fair share of revenues from the natural gas industry.“Since day one of my term as governor, I have fought to enact a reasonable severance tax that would give Pennsylvanians their fair share of the energy boom that is powered by resources that belong to all of us,” said Governor Wolf. “I, along with this bipartisan coalition, am here to call on the House and Senate to pass these bills and get them to my desk so that they can become law and Pennsylvanians can begin to get the benefits that other states have had for years.”Pennsylvania is the only gas-producing state in the nation without a severance tax. Other major gas producing states like Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Alaska are collecting billions from the oil and gas industries to help fix roads, build schools, and keep taxes low.Pennsylvania is blowing most other states out of the water when it comes to production and by joining every other gas-producing state and passing a severance tax, the commonwealth could realize billions in new revenue.The proposed severance tax would generate an estimated $248.7 million in the next fiscal year alone to address critical budget needs and would also keep the current impact fee in place, ensuring that this important revenue source for local municipalities stays intact.“The measured severance tax and responsible permitting reforms, embodied in SB 1000, is fair to taxpayers and unleashes the full potential of the natural gas industry to create jobs all across Pennsylvania,” said Senator John Yudichak. “I applaud Governor Wolf who has brought together Republicans and Democrats around the central idea that a fair severance tax is essential to protecting the environment and leveraging broader job growth in the natural gas industry.”“This modest proposal strikes the right balance between asking drillers to pay their fair share and giving them room to grow and continue providing jobs and economic benefits to our state,” said Representative Bernie O’Neill. “The added revenue to the commonwealth will help us provide additional support to education, human services and environmental programs and more.”“As Democratic Chairman of the House Finance Committee I am always working toward fair tax policy,” said Representative Jake Wheatley. “Pennsylvania shouldn’t be the only gas producing state in the country without a severance tax benefiting our communities and the needs of our state.”center_img April 30, 2018last_img read more

Art Deco home pockets a pretty price tag

first_imgThe home at 66 Zillman Rd, Hendra“We had more than 130 people through the first open home,” she said.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus20 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market20 hours ago“It was an exceptional turnout.”Mrs Russell said the home was popular among young families looking to buy. Inside 66 Zillman Rd, Hendra“They also loved the character and charm of the home and the generous block size.“It’s a historical home in the neighbourhood.” 66 Zillman Rd, HendraThis Hamptons styled Art Deco home has sold for $975,000. Inside 66 Zillman Rd, HendraMrs Russell said homes in Hendra weren’t lasting long on the market.“They’re selling fast and achieving good prices,” she said. Inside 66 Zillman Rd, Hendra“It appealed to a lot of people,” Mrs Russell said. “Buyers loved the single-level living layout that flows beautifully straight out onto the big backyard,” she said.center_img The home at 66 Zillman Rd, HendraMarketing agent Anne-Maree Russell of Cape Cod Residential said that the home at 66 Zillman Rd, Hendra, went under contract in under a week of being listed. The home at 66 Zillman Rd, HendraAccording to the latest data from CoreLogic, the median house price for a property in Hendra is $992,500. The home at 66 Zillman Rd, HendraThe home was staged and styled by Cape Cod Residential.last_img read more

Gold Coast home ideal for entertaining hits market

first_img5 Halifax Circuit, PimpamaENTERTAINING is made easy in this modern Pimpama home, which was designed to cater for guests.Owner Leanne Mandrakas and her husband built the home at 5 Halifax Circuit with entertaining in mind about two years ago.They chose the big block in a quiet street to make sure the home was comfortable for the family without compromising space for a large outdoor entertainment area. 5 Halifax Circuit, Pimpama“It was one of the bigger blocks in that area and it’s just a nice little quiet street there – we’ve got nice views of the golf course too,” Ms Mandrakas said.She said her husband drew from his experience as a builder to design the home. “He always liked the bigger entertaining areas and bigger garages, because they are never big enough,” Mrs Mandrakas said.The covered outdoor entertainment area features a Teppanyaki hotplate, built-in barbecue area well as a servery from the kitchen. “We did enjoy the outside area and the entertaining area when we had friends over,” Ms Mandrakas said.“It will be sad to leave there though because our neighbours are all lovely.”A built-in fire pit outside and a theatre room are standout features of the home. 5 Halifax Circuit, PimpamaMore from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa18 hours ago02:37Gold Coast property: Sovereign Islands mega mansion hits market with $16m price tag2 days ago 5 Halifax Circuit, Pimpama 5 Halifax Circuit, Pimpamalast_img read more