March 16, 2014 |
DE KALB, Miss. - Looming like a spaceship over pine and sweet-gum forest, the high-tech power plant under construction in rural Kemper County is a $5-billion wager on an energy future that includes coal. The Kemper plant is scheduled to open this year as the first in the United States to ramp up technology to remove carbon dioxide emissions on a large scale. If it works as planned, up to 65% of the plant's potential carbon dioxide emissions would be removed. But if its progress is any indication, building a coal plant that can sharply reduce greenhouse gas pollution is a white-knuckle ride.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 14, 2014 |
Most of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County are failing to adequately protect historically important structures that are in danger of being razed, according to a new study by the Los Angeles Conservancy. The "Preservation Report Card" assigns an F to 51 cities and all of the county's unincorporated communities - some that made no effort to save their historic places since the group's last county-wide assessment was completed six years ago. Conservancy leaders said some newer communities mistakenly believe they have no historic preservation resources while officials of other communities have delayed creating programs because of budget cuts tied to the recession.
March 14, 2014 |
A recent trip to Europe was an exercise in saving money. Here is some of what I discovered. Ground transportation: Taxis may seem like the most convenient and civilized way to get around, and sometimes they are, but sometimes they're expensive and annoying. They're also subject to all the traffic everyone else is sitting in. Subway systems are efficient and traffic-proof (unless there's a problem on a line). They can get you to most tourist destinations faster, and they are actually easy to use - easier than figuring out the rules for hailing a cab in the same city.
March 14, 2014 |
Three community groups sued Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, demanding he restore more than $350 million in mortgage settlement funds that were used to plug state budget holes two years ago. The money - from California's slice of the $25 billion national mortgage settlement with banks in 2012 - was supposed to fund housing counseling and foreclosure relief programs. But with the state facing a $16-billion budget deficit that spring, Brown diverted it to the state's general fund and to pay down interest on housing bonds.
March 13, 2014 |
Out to prove that the comic-book movie needn't be mega-financed behemoths, the scrappy superhero-noir indie "Sparks" busks its 1940s saga of dark redemption with considerable visual energy, if not always coherence or competence. Starting with wounded, wanted vigilante Ian Sparks (Chase Williamson) barging into a newspaper to report his own murder, the movie flashbacks - and flashbacks - to unravel a convoluted story stemming from a superpower-bestowing meteorite crash, Sparks' teaming with masked crime fighter Heavenly Lady (Ashley Bell)
March 6, 2014
Re "Rep. Ryan calls for cuts in anti-poverty programs," March 4 So Rep. Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) proposes to reduce college Pell grants and child-care and welfare assistance programs. Odd that I didn't see any proposal to tax at ordinary income rates the so-called carried-interest income of hedge fund managers, whose tax-favored earnings frequently run into seven and eight figures. If Ryan's "use your oars to push everyone else away from the life raft" mentality is the economic plan of the GOP, despite the downward economic pressure the middle and lower middle classes have experienced over the last 30 years, I can only hope that the foundering middle class will vote against those who are causing it. And if Republicans think they'll somehow get even with the "takers" by this approach, they might want to remember that eight of the 10 states with the highest percentage of people who paid no federal income taxes in 2010 were red states in 2012.
March 5, 2014 |
President Obama unveiled a budget proposal Tuesday that's more of a Democratic Party wish list than a realistic spending blueprint for a divided government. Higher taxes on the wealthy? Check. More spending on anti-poverty programs, research, infrastructure and schools? Check. But while Republicans in Congress were quick to dismiss Obama's proposal - "[P]erhaps his most irresponsible budget yet," asserted House Speaker John A. Boehner, conceding only the vague possibility that Obama had done worse before - they should at the very least act on his suggestions for promoting employment and economic growth that dovetail with their own ideas.
March 4, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - Looking beyond the deficit battles and financial crises of years past, President Obama put forward a $3.9-trillion budget proposal Tuesday that set out a wish list of programs on education, infrastructure, job training and urban revitalization, adding policy details to his rhetorical promises to bridge the gap between rich and poor. Like any president's annual budget blueprint, Obama's stands no chance of being adopted as is by Congress. This year, the prospects are especially dim since Congress recently approved a two-year spending deal after years of ugly budget fights, and there is little interest in reopening the debate.
March 4, 2014 |
Like many Democrats, President Obama greeted last December's budget deal the way a hungry child greets a carrot stick: It wasn't what he wanted, but it was acceptable under the circumstances. “This agreement doesn't include everything I'd like, and I know many Republicans feel the same way,” Obama said Dec. 10. “That's the nature of compromise. But it's a good sign that Democrats and Republicans in Congress were able to come together and break the cycle of shortsighted, crisis-driven decision-making to get this done.” But hey, that was 2013.
March 4, 2014 |
NASA's budget for the 2015 fiscal year wouldn't budge much from last year under the White House's proposal for nearly $17.5 billion, as officials reaffirmed the commitment to extending the life of the International Space Station, funding potential missions to Mars and Jupiter's moon Europa and sending a manned mission to nab an asteroid and bring it back to Earth orbit. The proposed $17.46-billion budget for 2015 is roughly $200 million less than the 2014 fiscal year request, and the planetary science division would receive about $1.28 billion -- not quite up to last year's $1.35 billion.