AOC Thinks Concentrated Wealth Is Incompatible With Democracy. So Did Our Founders.


No Paine, no gain. Photo: White House Collection; US House of Representatives; National Portrait Gallery

On Wednesday night, Sean Hannity took de Tocqueville to task. In the Fox News’ host’s telling, general economic equality is not a precondition for the American dream, but rather, an insurmountable obstacle to it — because the American dream is (apparently) to earn more than $10 million year without having to pay a top marginal tax rate higher than 37 percent.

After popularizing the idea of a 70 percent top marginal tax rate earlier this month, the freshman congresswoman recently suggested that the mere existence of billionaires was both immoral, and a threat to American democracy. “I do think that a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health is wrong,” Ocasio-Cortez told the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, during an interview on Martin Luther King Day… and argued that the purpose of high taxes on the wealthy wasn’t merely to generate revenue, but rather, to safeguard “democracy against oligarchy.”

In reality, there’s nothing foreign or communistic about the idea that concentrated wealth is incompatible with democracy, or all-too compatible with mass poverty. Republicans might call such notions radical. But many of our republic’s founders would have called them common sense. MORE

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These Islands Are Leading The Drive For Hydrogen Energy

Orkney – Island of the Future | Fully Charged JUN 4 2015 BYMARK KANE

Orkney is the only place in the United Kingdom that generates its entire power supply from clean energy and has become one the most promising sites for low-carbon energy research in the world. Made up of seventy islands of which less than a third are inhabited, the 22,000 Orcadians who call the island group home long had to rely on the Scottish mainland’s coal and gas power plants for its energy. In 1980, the UK government decided to invest in wind power, designating Orkney as the first place to trial the new alternate power source.

Today, Orkney is home to 700 micro wind turbines producing over 120% of their electrical needs, the archipelago has become a poster child for sustainable development

The excess energy produced has led to a debate on how to appropriately use it. Although a cable connects to the mainland, it was designed to import energy to the islands and lacks the capacity to export all of the extra electricity generated. Many Orcadians have already traded in their diesel or petrol powered cars for electric ones, and several discussions were had regarding laying down new cables to the mainland to inject Orkney’s energy into the Scottish grid. But then they had an idea: why not turn it into fuel?

The excess energy produced by Orkney’s wind turbines has provided engineers with a rare opportunity to create and store hydrogen fuel on a larger scale than previously done before. MORE

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Orkney – Island of the Future | Fully Charged

BC Hydro in court to keep Site C expenditure details from public

Transparency in publicly-funded hydro project even more essential in wake of B.C. Legislature expense scandal, expert says

Image result for BC Hydro in court to keep Site C expenditure details from public

BC Hydro has gone to court to avoid revealing the names of public employees who decide which companies are awarded lucrative Site C project contracts during construction of the $10.7 billion hydro dam.

B.C.’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) ordered BC Hydro to release the information after Vancouver freelance journalist Bob Mackin lodged a complaint about missing data in Freedom of Information responses and the OIPC conducted an inquiry.

“We’ve got a right to know who is being paid to build and operate and make decisions on any public project or any public office,” Mackin told The Narwhal. “There’s no reason why we can’t have it.”

In a claim rejected by the OIPC, BC Hydro says in court documents that making the names public could constitute a threat to employees’ physical and mental health and safety.

Mackin said journalists and the public must be able to verify that people making decisions about Site C project contracts are free of conflicts of interest and that they are “not awarding contracts to friends or co-workers, or people they’ve worked with before or companies that they might hold shares in.” MORE

The news on nature isn’t all bad

While the challenges are huge and daunting, there are signs we’re getting some things right, at least, writes Dan Kraus.

Swift fox
If you conserve and restore it, they will come: In Canada, one of the greatest wildlife recovery stories (so far) is the return of the swift fox. – Ludwig Carbyn via The Canadian Press

For the first time in human history, our environmental impacts are happening at a scale that is affecting all life on Earth. Our list of globally threatened wildlife has grown to over 26,500 species, and many wildlife populations are declining. In Canada, iconic wildlife like caribou are in trouble, and the Atlantic whitefish, perhaps Canada’s most endangered species, may be doomed to extinction.

Our current environmental issues — from climate change to biodiversity loss — are all the result of many collective impacts. However, there are examples of hope from 2018 as we enter 2019.

The number of protected areas continues to grow: The total area of parks and protected areas now tops over 20 million km2, or about 15 per cent of the planet’s lands and inland waters. Through the collective conservation efforts of all nations, it appears we will meet the global target of protecting 17 per cent by 2020. In Canada, more than 20 per cent of Nunavik in northern Quebec is now protected from industrial development, and our first Indigenous protected area was established: the Edéhzhíe Protected Area in the Northwest Territories. MORE

Four things Canada can do to stop wildlife loss

Earth is losing biodiversity at a rate seen only during mass extinctions. But we can reverse that decline – if we act now.

So says a report from WWF, showing that global populations of vertebrate species have declined by 60 per cent on average in less than 50 years.


Barren-ground caribou (c) Francoise Gervais

Half of the wildlife species in Canada are declining, and of those, the decline is 83 per cent. Protected at-risk species haven’t shown signs of improvement either, the report finds.

Reversing the decline of wildlife requires immediate action from governments, businesses and individuals. Here’s how we can start heading in the right direction: MORE

Young scientists see bright future despite threats such as climate change

Moon tourism and automated farming are the next big things, according to survey

More than 450 students, out of 1,131 people exhibiting at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, participated in the Gengage survey. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
More than 450 students, out of 1,131 people exhibiting at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, participated in the Gengage survey. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Young scientists are an optimistic bunch, believing technology will transform people’s lives this century despite the threat of climate change.

The coming decades might not see hover cars, time travel or a real life Jurassic Park but moon tourism and automated farming is just around the corner, according to a survey of participants at this year’s BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition (BTYSTE).

61 per cent think technology will be a force for good for future generations.  One in six think moon tourism will be mainstream by 2029. Despite the uptake of electric cars, 72 per cent of participants do not think hover cars will be mainstream in the next 10 years. Nearly three in four think fully automated farms are around the corner (74 per cent). Two-thirds (67 per cent) think virtual schools, with classes on live stream, will be the norm by 2029. MORE

 

John Horgan announces policy reforms to rebuild coastal forest sector

Premier John Horgan says his government plans to rebuild the solid wood and secondary timber industries by ensuring more logs are processed in British Columbia.

BC Premier John Horgan

Plans are in the works to rebuild the wood and secondary timber industries in British Columbia by ensuring more logs are processed in the province, said Premier John Horgan.

The forest sector revitalization plan will be done through incentives and regulation changes, he said in a speech at the annual Truck Loggers Convention on Thursday.

The policy changes include increasing penalties for late reporting of wood waste, and reducing the waste by redirecting it to pulp and paper mills.

The actions will reverse a systematic decline that has taken place in the coastal forest sector over the past two decades, he said, adding the plan will be implemented through a series of legislative, regulatory and policy changes over the next two years.

More timber can be processed here in B.C. and to accomplish that the government will reform raw log export policy, discourage high grading and curtail the export of minimally processed lumber, he said. MORE

Horgan bullish on Site C, LNG

horgan-speech-at-forum.24_1.jpg

Premier John Horgan speaks with an attendee at the Northern Resource Forum on Wednesday.- BRENT BRAATEN, PHOTOGRAPHER

Horgan also noted that some of the things done by the current government might seem surprising to an industrialist/business crowd.

He was bullish on developing liquefied natural gas. After careful review, he supported Site C Dam construction which he described as a “very controversial but fundamental project.”

He also stressed that two sub-topics of government were actually keystone enablers of natural resource development.

He said all the investment a government could make in the burgeoning tech sector was tantamount to investment in mining, forestry, oil and gas, agriculture and so forth because contrary to mental image, the tech sector did not mean making better video games, but rather making better tools for the natural resource sectors to use.

That might mean software, but it also might mean the 18-storey all-wood skyscraper now standing on the campus of UBC in Vancouver. SOURCE

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