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Green Buildings Cut CO2 Fastest

| Mon Mar. 17, 2008 5:29 PM EDT

The fastest and cheapest way to cut deeply into CO2 emissions is to overhaul old buildings for efficiency and build new ones green from the start. Turns out that buildings are responsible for more than one-third of North America's CO2 emissions, says a new report by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Promoting green design, construction, renovation and operation of buildings could cut North American building emissions from more than 2,200 megatons of CO2 annually to 500 megatons. Rapid deployment of emerging advanced energy-saving technologies could bring about these savings by 2030.

Currently, green buildings routinely reduce energy usage by 30 to 50 percent over conventional buildings. The most efficient now outperform them by more than 70 percent. The authors recommend ways to accelerate greening our homes and offices, calling upon government, industry and nongovernmental leaders to:

 

Create national, multi-stakeholder task forces for achieving a vision of green building in North America • Support the creation of a North American set of principles and planning tools for green building • Set clear targets to achieve the most rapid possible adoption of green building in North America, including aggressive targets for carbon-neutral or net zero-energy buildings, together with performance monitoring to track progress towards these targets • Enhance ongoing or new support for green building, including efforts to promote private sector investment and proper valuation methods • Increase knowledge of green building through research and development, capacity building, and the use of labels and disclosures on green building performance.

 

We need some national vision here. Yet another reason why 308 days, 19 hours, 37 minutes, and 1 second left (as of this writing) can't fly by fast enough.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, lecturer, and 2008 winner of the John Burroughs Medal Award. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

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SF Chronicle to No Longer Run Stories of Cats, Celebrities on Page A2

| Mon Mar. 17, 2008 5:15 PM EDT

funny-cats-a10.jpg


Baby steps. But perhaps there's hope that under new leadership the Chron will no longer suck quite so bad.

That would deprive locals and industry watchers a reliable source of cocktail party chatter (why does it suck) since at least as far back as 1976, when Jason Robards playing WaPo editor Ben Bradlee in "All the President's Men" cracked that the Chron was the place to place "yesterday's weather report."

Still, worth the sacrifice.

Fox News Sunday Introduces "Obama Watch"

| Mon Mar. 17, 2008 4:21 PM EDT
Obamawatch.png

There have been subtle and not so subtle messages to voters throughout this election painting Barack Obama as radical and un-American. Most recently, over the weekend, there was wide-spread media coverage of Obama's "anti-American" and "racial" reverend in Chicago.

But none of these are quite as dramatic as Fox's new "Obama Watch." If you aren't already convinced that Barack Obama is an extremist, you might want to tune in to Fox News Sunday. The new feature, announced by Chris Wallace, will give its viewers "a weekly update on Barack Obama." Under the auspices of the network's ongoing hopes to urge the Dems to debate on Fox, "Obama Watch" will be set to a ticking time clock a la 24. I'll give Fox News credit for one thing, they left no subliminal message unturned. If the beep beep, beep beep of Jack Bauer's hit show doesn't say "Obama is a terrorist" I don't know what does.

Are Genetically Engineered Organics the Future of Farming?

| Mon Mar. 17, 2008 4:12 PM EDT

corn200.jpg This past weekend in the Boston Globe, Pamela Ronald, a U.C. Davis plant pathologist, tackled the debate over genetic engineering in organic farming. Without mincing words.

It is time to abandon the caricatures of genetic engineering that are popular among some consumers and activists, and instead see it for what it is: A tool that can help the ecological farming revolution grow into a lasting movement with global impact.

Bold, to be sure. But are these fightin' words? Probably.

Under for Fire for Pastor's Remarks, Obama To Give Major Speech on Race

| Mon Mar. 17, 2008 4:05 PM EDT

I was at a fancy Washington party of politicos this weekend and the No. 1 topic of conversation was the Reverend Jeremiah Wright--that is, what could Barack Obama do about Wright's assorted controversial statements. (Was Jesus really black?) With Fox News and others leading the charge--the cable news network had found videos of Wright's over-the-top sermons for sale at his church's gift shop--Obama quickly distanced himself from his onetime pastor's more provocative statements. ("No one ever said it was going to be easy to elect a black man president," an Obama supporter told me at this party.)

But Obama is not just hunkering down. Today his campaign announced he would deliver a "major address on race, politics, and how we bring our country together at this important moment in our history." Do you think this was scheduled prior to the Wright dustup? Not likely. Will it do anything to counter whatever political damage has been (or can be) done by Wright's remarks? Probably not. Still, it might be necessary. Then again, Obama has done rather well so far by not emphasizing matters of race. With the racial divide apparently growing starker in the recent Democratic primaries (with whites voting for the white candidate and blacks voting for the black candidate), one can only wonder if addressing race explicitly in this rather political manner is to Obama's advantage. But when a preacher speaks, sometimes you have no choice but to take action.

And the dog that didn't bark: There's been no Hillary Clinton campaign conference call in which Clinton aides decry Wright's remarks and push reporters to devote more attention to this matter. After the South Carolina primary and after Geraldine Ferraro, the Clintonites certainly realize they must treat gingerly any matter that involves race. And why yelp when there's already plenty of noise?

GOP Hatchet Man "Predicted" Spitzer's Downfall

| Mon Mar. 17, 2008 12:28 PM EDT

Robert Novak's column yesterday carried this interesting nugget: Apparently Spitzer-nemesis and longtime GOP operative Roger Stone predicted the New York governor's political downfall a good three months before it came to pass, telling a talk radio host in early December that ''Eliot Spitzer will not serve out his term as governor of the state of New York." This would seem to suggest that Stone can either see the future—or had a hand in shaping it. According to Novak, though, the former is closest to the truth: "Stone had nothing to do with the investigation and said he had not heard about it when he made a prediction based on his general view of Spitzer."

However, Stone was coy when asked point blank by Newsday columnist Ellis Henican if he had any role in outing Mr. Clean as Client 9:

"No comment on that," Stone said. "I will say I knew it was coming. That's why I wasn't too upset about the results of the special election," where a Democrat grabbed a supposedly safe Republican State Senate seat, leaving Democrats just one vote shy of control.

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Hillary Clinton Talks Withdrawal

| Mon Mar. 17, 2008 10:32 AM EDT

Hillary Clinton delivered a major speech on the Iraq War this morning. She didn't say anything groundbreaking, but the speech did provide her with a nice opportunity to reiterate her support for a sensible and well-planned withdrawal, the bread and butter of many Democratic voters. Here are chunks of a summary the Clinton campaign blitzed out to reporters.

The basics of her plan have been known for months:

As President, one of Hillary's first official actions will be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council. She will direct them to draw up a clear, comprehensive plan for withdrawal that starts removing our troops within 60 days...
Hillary knows that as we bring our troops and contractors home, we cannot lose sight of our very real strategic interests in this region. Al Qaeda terrorist cells continue to operate in Iraq, cells that did not exist before President Bush's failed policy. Under Hillary's plan the United States will retain counterterrorism forces in Iraq and the region to fight al Qaeda and will not permit terrorists to have a safe haven in Iraq from which to attack the United States or its allies.

According to the speech, Clinton will ensure that for every month a member of the military spends in the field, they get one month here at home. She will reign in the use of no-bid contracts and private contractors will get the boot:

Clinton's Super Delegate Problem

| Mon Mar. 17, 2008 10:28 AM EDT

From MSNBC's First Read:

By our count, the Clinton campaign hasn't publicly announced the support of a new superdelegate since just after February 5. Indeed, since Super Tuesday, Obama has gained 47 new superdelegates, while Clinton has lost seven (including Eliot Spitzer).

Maybe the superdelegates have been reading Jonathan Alter.

Obama Ups the Ante on Disclosure

| Mon Mar. 17, 2008 10:17 AM EDT

Obama went before reporters from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times on Friday and cleared the air on the Rezko situation in a big way. Here's the beginning of the Trib's write-up:

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama waited 16 months to attempt the exorcism. But when he finally sat down with the Tribune editorial board Friday, Obama offered a lengthy and, to us, plausible explanation for the presence of now-indicted businessman Tony Rezko in his personal and political lives.
The most remarkable facet of Obama's 92-minute discussion was that, at the outset, he pledged to answer every question the three dozen Tribune journalists crammed into the room would put to him. And he did.

You can read the whole thing here. It's pretty remarkable; it's the closest thing to an acquittal that the press can issue. The Obama campaign tried to use it to push the Clinton-as-serial-nondiscloser story line, immediately urging the Clinton campaign to match their moment of forthrightness by releasing all of Clinton's tax records, disclosing all of her earmarks, and making the donations to Bill Clinton's presidential library and foundation public.

I'm guessing the Clinton campaign will reject all three parts of that suggestion. The question is whether voters in Pennsylvania care. I'm guessing they are a little more worried about things like NAFTA, the economy, and the Iraq War. But that said, if Obama's push on the issue of disclosure reminds just a few people that they are tired of the Clintons and their drama, he might poke a few critical percentage points into his column on election night.

Greenspan on the Economy: Double Ouch

| Mon Mar. 17, 2008 10:00 AM EDT

greenspan.jpg You have to have an online subscription to the Financial Times to read Alan Greenspan's latest take on the American economy. But even without a subscription, you can read the first line:

The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the second world war.

Commenting on the economy recently, billionaire/media tycoon Sam Zell said, "Obviously what we have going on is an attempt to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.... We have two Democratic candidates who are vying with each other to describe the economic situation worse." Somebody tell him that Greenspan, something of an authority, sees things the way HRC and BHO do.