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Getting to Zero: Energizing the Green New Deal

first_imgEditor’s note: This is the first in a series on Energizing a Real Green New Deal. You can read the introduction to the series here. Both climate denial and the Green New Deal fail to solve the crucial challenge of our era: How will we create and implement a plan for reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions that is effective, practical, affordable, and rapid. Denial is obviously not a solution and leaves society with the enormous cost of coping with the worst impacts of climate change. On the other hand, the Green New Deal offers solutions that are heavily reliant on federal government control, borrowing, taxation, and spending. And it includes social goals which extend beyond climate change and are destined to become mired in side issues and political gridlock. Neither approach is viable. In this first of three installments, we present a model for an incentive-driven plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ways that enhance social equity and job creation, while minimizing government regulation.RELATED ARTICLESAmerica Can Afford a Green New Deal — Here’s HowIs the Green New Deal Just a Pipe Dream?New York City Gets Its Own Green New DealLos Angeles Updates Its Plan to Cut Carbon EmissionsGreen New Deal: Just As Dangerous As Climate Denial? Key goals, objectives, and incentives As with all effective strategies, we must first determine our key goals and supporting objectives followed by the specific tasks needed to achieve them. In a market-based economy, the most pain-free and effective way to achieve objectives is to create incentives for actions that support our objectives. To encourage a reduction in fossil fuel use, we need to set specific carbon reduction targets and outline an array of actions needed to reach the objectives. Offering a range of potential actions allows businesses and the public to choose a set of actions they can implement, consistent with their economic and personal situations. Finally, we need to be sure the actions have a positive return on investment. For example, if we want farmers to rebuild soil so it can store significant amounts of carbon, they need to be economically rewarded to make this transition. If we want homeowners to install solar panels, their return on investment needs to be not only positive, but rapid. Incentives can be extrinsic (coming from outside), based on regulations, taxes, subsidies, favorable financing, and tax breaks, or intrinsic (coming from within), based on a positive return on investment, or other less tangible benefits such as improved health and comfort. In most cases, all that is needed to get people and businesses to take action based on intrinsic incentives is to provide education and motivational appeal—a commonly recognized strength of the marketplace. Combining small extrinsic incentives to support intrinsic incentives may create the quickest and most effective road to significant change. State and local governments and utilities have a long history of creating successful financial rebates and educational programs that utilize this strategy to reduce energy use. Defining our goal  Unlike the numerous, diverse goals embodied in the Green New Deal, we should be laser focused on the one central goal that is the challenge of our era: To incentivize individuals, companies and governments at all levels to bring greenhouse gas emissions low enough to keep global warming within 2 degrees C or lower. In the U.S., we will do our part to achieve this by reducing fossil fuel and other greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2040 in a manner that promotes equity, good paying jobs, and prosperity and that utilizes the minimum government involvement needed to leverage our free market system to rapidly reach this goal. The following low- or no-cost approaches are minimally intrusive: Market the intrinsic incentives already in existence, such as the lower cost of ownership and improved performance of electric vehicles and zero-energy homes. Shift tax breaks from fossil fuels to clean energy development, including energy efficiency in buildings and transportation, renewable energy sources, energy storage, and a smart electric grid. Apply a modest tax to carbon-based fuels where they are produced, stored, or refined. Create attractive financing packages for making energy efficiency improvements and adding renewables to homes, businesses, and transportation. Build job growth and social equity into all greenhouse gas reduction efforts. Pursue infrastructure improvements that directly address carbon reductions. Enhance existing government R&D programs and develop new ones in conjunction with industries and universities to create or improve energy efficiency and renewable technologies. Market existing intrinsic incentives at little or no cost The good news is that the intrinsic incentives for all players to move to zero greenhouse emission technologies and strategies already exist and are growing rapidly. One reason is that more and more people, small businesses, large corporations, and local governments are internally motivated to take positive steps to help avoid catastrophic climate change. More importantly, many technologies, such as zero-energy homes, electric vehicles, solar panels, and large-scale renewable electric power, give a greater return on investment and offer more benefits than fossil fuel alternatives. Many of the actions advocated for in this series are intrinsically incentivized because they are good investments for homeowners, car owners, businesses, utilities, and governments. The return on investment and the improvements to people’s lives these new technologies offer will drive the market. The only action needed for these technologies to become the new normal is for utilities and the companies who offer them to harness the marketing powers of American free enterprise. Businesses can readily identify needs, research possible solutions, develop products and services, manage supply chains and distribution networks, set competitive prices, and advertise with gusto. The government’s role is to set overarching goals, provide adequate direction, level the playing field, offer strategic incentives, and build public infrastructure. Local, state, and federal governments can catalyze the formation of marketing alliances to mount effective campaigns that promote the intrinsic benefits of clean energy technologies to the general public. These alliances would include energy utilities, manufacturers of energy-related products, and committed non-profits. Utilities and manufacturers will benefit from business growth. The general public will benefit from positive financial returns. All this with no, or very low, cost to taxpayers. Redirecting existing tax breaks Without creating an additional tax burden, we can realign existing tax breaks and subsidies at the state and federal level to promote measures that will help us reach our net zero greenhouse gas emission goal. According to one estimate, over $20 billion a year in state and federal tax credits are going to the fossil fuel industry. Redirecting these tax credits could make this whopping $20 billion available to incentivize the industries and initiatives focused on greenhouse gas emission reduction while removing support for fossil fuels. The Clean Energy for America Bill, introduced in the Senate, would replace 44 different existing energy tax incentives with incentives for clean electricity, clean transportation fuel, and energy conservation. Passing this bill would be an important step in the right direction. Tax credits should be designed to have the maximum effect on the market. Priority should be given to encouraging those projects where money invested in greenhouse gas reduction will bring a positive return on investment, such as zero-energy homes and buildings, a smart grid, zero-carbon electricity production, and electric vehicles. Because of their positive return on investment, incentives for these new technologies can be modest, effective, and quickly phased out when goals are met or market momentum grows. Tax credits should not be targeted at more expensive, less mature technologies such as electric or hydrogen planes, trains and ships, until R&D has reduced the price enough so that incentives will promote rapid market acceptance. Low- and middle-income households should be offered more generous tax credits to purchase zero energy vehicles, homes, and buildings so they can reap the energy/cost savings and health benefits of these superior technologies. A national advisory board of experts should be created to adjust these tax credits based on market conditions and the evolution of prices in order to leverage the maximum return from each and reduce them as soon as sufficient market momentum is established. A modest carbon tax at the source The market can only make good decisions when it has good information. Unfortunately, the price of fossil fuels ignores many hidden costs, such as increased sickness, toxic spills, mining waste, air pollution and a rapidly changing global climate. Currently, carbon-dependent industries get a free ride with cheap access to public lands, a huge and unregulated dumping area for their waste, i.e., the air we breathe, and even direct government subsidies. These have a real cost to citizens and society. To provide the free market with the information it needs on these costs so it can make rational decisions about fossil fuel use versus clean carbon alternatives, a modest, predictable and stabilizing carbon tax should be levied at the source of fossil fuel production or distribution. While it is not a complete solution in itself, a small carbon tax will begin to price in the hidden costs of fossil fuels, and will be the most cost-effective, least intrusive, and most equitable way to reduce carbon emissions to zero. It is a market-based approach that is supported by more than 3,500 economists, including 27 Nobel laureates. An optimal carbon tax will add a very small but steadily increasing fee to fossil fuels at their source, which will create a predictable, long-term incentive to move toward clean energy. As it gradually increases, it will change the decisions made by citizens, business people, and government officials about cars, trains, aircraft, buildings, generating plants, manufacturing plants, agricultural operations, and military installations. Business and industry will respond to new opportunities, resulting in widespread carbon emission reductions. Electric and hybrid vehicles will become the new normal; all electric zero-energy and positive-energy buildings and homes will dominate the housing stock; clean-fueled trains, ships and airplanes will move goods and people; government and military facilities and operations will be more secure and resilient; and a non-fossil fuel-based, smart electric grid with battery storage will connect it all. This tax can be easily be collected on oil, gas, and coal as they come through pipelines or at refineries or storage facilities. It can be adjusted by a formula to stabilize fuel prices during both price declines and price spikes. Over 30 years, it will very gradually increase the base cost of all fossil fuels. The scheduling of this gradual tax increase along with stabilization of prices gives businesses and families the predictability they need to plan for the future. Revenues from the tax, combined with internal and external incentives, can be used to jump start us on the path to zero in ways that create equity for low income people faced with higher energy costs. Loans and financing Everyone agrees that energy-saving improvements pay off over time. The problem has been that initial costs for these improvements act as disincentives. To overcome this first-cost obstacle, we must create clean energy financing vehicles that make the monthly payments for loans on building, transportation, and infrastructure improvements lower than the monthly energy savings. When the monthly earnings from energy savings exceed the monthly loan costs, it is called profit. When structured properly, loans for energy saving and renewable investments, provide a profit from the very first month, not only benefiting the borrower, but also benefiting suppliers, local economies, and the global climate. Tax credits and/or income from the carbon tax can be used to encourage lenders of all types to offer or underwrite low cost revolving loans to low income people and small businesses for electric vehicles, for zero-energy and positive-energy homes, for solar panels, and for energy efficiency upgrades to existing homes. Similar low cost loans can be offered to small farmers and small forest landowners to provide funds to lower their carbon footprint and to sequester more carbon. Whether they are homeowners, landlords, farmers or small businesses, these revolving loans would be structured to make the earnings from lower energy costs exceed the financing cost so everybody wins. Equity The first priority for tax credits and some of the revenue from the carbon tax will be to create higher tax credits and rebates for low income people to make their homes energy efficient, install solar collectors, buy zero energy homes, upgrade to hybrid and electric vehicles, including used EVs. Landlords of low- and middle-income apartment dwellers should be incentivized to upgrade the energy efficiency of their units and add solar panels, provided they reduce their tenants’ energy bills or rents. Landlords should also be incentivized to provide EV chargers for tenants. Helping lower income families acquire zero-energy homes and electric vehicles will allow them to reap the benefits of low or no utility costs for their homes and reduced fuel costs for their vehicles, and can be a major factor in helping minimize the disproportionate impact of the carbon tax on them. A small portion of the revenue can be returned directly to very low-income individuals by means of a monthly check or a refundable tax credit, as the carbon tax gradually increases. But unlike the current carbon tax bill before Congress, which only uses the tax revenue to give all citizens—rich and poor alike—a check each month, a portion of the carbon tax revenue, along with other incentives, should be used to help lower income individuals reduce their fossil fuel consumption to zero. This approach would save them more money than if they were to continue using fossil fuels while receiving a check to cover some of the higher costs. Infrastructure and jobs The market incentive provided by the carbon tax can be supercharged by devoting a significant portion of the funds to build out a carbon-free infrastructure. For example, revenue could be used to construct a network of highway rest areas with charging stations for electric cars and trucks, to incentivize utilities to convert to non-carbon-emitting energy sources connected by a smart grid, to finance the decommissioning and recycling of fossil fuel facilities that can no longer be used, to transform coal mines and power plants into wind and solar farms, and to retrain the workforce for new clean energy jobs. Fossil fuel companies can be rewarded for restructuring their energy businesses to become clean energy utilities, as Royal Dutch Shell is planning on, so they can enjoy continued success in business and save jobs. And where still needed, federal grants can be made to schools, hospitals, airports, rail lines, and local governments to incentivize building out their share of this carbon-free infrastructure. Using some of the revenue to build out a carbon-free infrastructure will create thousands of good-paying jobs that can’t be replaced by automation or exported. Research and development Some of the revenue form the carbon tax should be used to increase the budget for R&D. To make that funding go even further, national research laboratories can be refocused to conduct more basic research and development to get us quickly and as cheaply as possible to zero greenhouse gas emissions. This can be done in conjunction with university researchers and industry innovators to make it even more cost effective. Areas for R&D should include increasing solar PV and battery efficiency, developing electric and/or hydrogen planes, trains and ships, creating safer, more efficient, and less costly nuclear power, and a developing a highly-effective, renewable-powered smart grid with battery storage. Joseph Emerson is a co-founder of the Zero Energy Project where this article originally appeared. Emerson writes that this series of blogs on the Green New Deal is inspired by Chris Martinsen’s Deconstructing the Green New Deal.last_img read more

Quinto saves Letran late, outwits Perpetual for 3rd straight win

first_imgCatriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. K-pop star Jung Joon-young convicted of gang rape, spycam crimes WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief View comments AVC: PH yields to unbeaten Kazakhstan, still moves on to QF UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension LETRAN 63 – Quinto 14, Nambatac 12, Balanza 12, Calvo 11, Pascual 5, Vacaro 4, Ambohot 2, Balagasay 2, Caralipio 1, Taladua 0, Bernabe 0.PERPETUAL 61 – Eze 18, Dagangon 10, Ylagan 7, Yuhico 5, Sadiwa 5, Tamayo 5, Coronel 4, Hao 3, Pido 2, Mangalino 2, Singontiko 0, Lucente 0.Quarters: 14-7, 24-19, 39-36, 63-61.center_img Bong Quinto. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netBong Quinto drilled the go-ahead layup in the waning seconds to lift Letran to a thrilling 63-61 win over Perpetual Friday for the Knights’ third straight victory in the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.The fourth-year forward shrugged off an inadvertent elbow from Prince Eze and scored off an assist from Rey Nambatac to push the Knights up, 63-61, with 12.6 seconds to spare.ADVERTISEMENT LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Eze muffed a hook shot in the ensuing possession, but King Caralipio dove for the leather and forced a jumpball, with the possession arrow awarding the ball to Letran.Quinto, though, committed a huge miscue as he inbounded the ball to Rey Nambatac in the backcourt with 2.6 ticks left which kept the window wide open for the Altas.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutUnfortunately, Gab Dagangon could not gather the ball from GJ Ylagan’s inbound pass as Letran kept its winning streak.Quinto paced the Knights with 14 points, nine rebounds, and three assists, while Nambatac got a huge double-double of 12 markers, 15 boards, and three dimes in the win to pull their side up to 4-3. Read Next For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity. “The tempo of the game wasn’t favoring us, but luckily, the boys didn’t give up even though Perpetual was making a rally. Credit to them because they really worked hard to get the win,” said coach Jeff Napa. “They didn’t give up and they showed the character of the team, especially our veterans. They really stood up and led our team.”Jerrick Balanza chimed in 12 points and two rebounds, as JP Calvo got 11 markers, with his biggest bucket coming in the final 1:33 as he drained the game-tying corner three to knot the score at 61 and set up the tight finish.Eze led the skidding Perpetual with 18 points, 16 rebounds, and two blocks, while Dagangon got 10 markers and four boards.The Altas have now lost back-to-back games, sending them sprawling to a 2-4 card.The Scores:ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Gameslast_img read more

10 months agoMinotti warns Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella against Chelsea move

first_imgMinotti warns Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella against Chelsea moveby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the loveFormer Italy international Lorenzo Minotti has warned Cagliari midfielder Nicolo Barella against a move to Chelsea.Minotti, who used to play for Cagliari, has questioned whether Barella would get a game with the Blues.He told TMW: “Risk of a [Marco] Verratti-situation? The Premier [League] is a competitive championship.”Now the Italian teams are not ready to spend a similar amount, and those with chances [to] have [full squads].”If he goes to Chelsea he will struggle to find a starting shirt and be ready for the national team.” TagsTransfersAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img

Canada to apologize for turning away Naziera ship of Jews Trudeau says

first_imgTORONTO – Canada will formally apologize for turning away a boat full of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany in 1939, resulting in scores of them dying, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday.In a well-received speech to a sold-out Jewish fundraising event, Trudeau said the decision by Canada to force the German ocean liner “MS St. Louis” to return to Europe was a blight on our collective past.“An apology in the House of Commons will not rewrite this shameful chapter of our history,” Trudeau said. “It will not bring back those who perished or repair the lives shattered by tragedy. But it is our hope that this long overdue apology will bring awareness to our failings, as we vow to never let history repeat itself.”In the run-up to the Second World War and the ensuing Holocaust, the Canadian government heeded anti-Semitic sentiment by severely restricting Jewish immigration. From 1933 to 1945, only about 5,000 Jewish refugees were accepted due to what Trudeau called “our discriminatory ‘none is too many’ immigration policy” in place at the time.He called the turning away of the ship a “most egregious” example of the misguided policy.The “St. Louis” was carrying 907 German Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. Its captain, Gustav Schröder, tried in vain to find homes for his passengers. In addition to Cuba, the United States also turned away the refugees.Forced to return to Europe, 254 of those aboard eventually died in the slaughter that became the Holocaust.“We cannot turn away from this uncomfortable truth, and Canada’s part in it,” Trudeau said. “We must learn from this story, and let its lessons guide our actions going forward.”The March of the Living program has seen thousands of Holocaust survivors and others travel to Poland to honour the memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps.Trudeau spoke eloquently of his own pilgrimage to Auschwitz, the infamous concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.“We stared at the barbed wire fences that once separated the enslaved from their captors. We marched along the railways that delivered so many Jews to their deaths,” Trudeau said.“My visit to Auschwitz will forever stay with me and guide my time — as prime minister, but also as a father, husband, son, brother and citizen.”In a statement, the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre applauded Trudeau’s announcement as a “meaningful step” toward acknowledging the shameful chapter.“While an apology can never change the past, it can awaken the national conscience to ensure such grave mistakes are never repeated in the future,” centre president Avi Benlolo said.Trudeau also said recent figures indicate 17 per cent of all hate crimes in Canada target Jewish people. He said it pained him that Jews “more than any other religious group” are the victims of hate crimes.“We need to do more, as a society, to end xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes that still take root in our communities, in our schools, and in our places of work,” the prime minister said.The Toronto-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs also applauded Trudeau’s announcement.“A formal apology will be a powerful statement to Holocaust survivors and their families, including St. Louis passengers who live in Canada today, said CIJA CEO Shimon Koffler Fogel in a statement.“It will also affirm Canada’s continued vigilance in the ongoing fight against antisemitism.”Trudeau said he looked forward to offering the apology himself on the floor of the House of Commons, but he gave no date. The audience applauded loudly at the announcement.Tuesday was the first official recognition of May as Jewish Heritage Month, a designation passed by the Commons earlier this year.The fundraiser raised more than $1.1 million.last_img read more

Trudeau leans on Trump to help Canadians detained in China at G20

first_imgOTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves for a G20 summit Wednesday, expecting to lean on the power and influence of U.S. President Donald Trump to raise the issue of two detained Canadians during a meeting with China’s president.Trump pledged his support during his own meeting with Trudeau last Thursday in the Oval Office, where he vowed to do anything he could to help Canada.The G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, comes as Canada continues to push for the release of Canadians in China, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.The Prime Minister’s Office has said little on the possibility of Trudeau getting his own meeting with the Chinese president.David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, says it should not come as a surprise China is not interested in a meeting, adding Trump will be Canada’s best shot and the prime minister could use the G20 to talk to other leaders about the issue as well.Christopher Sands, the director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University, agrees that Canada doesn’t play offence very much but he suggests that Canada try to enlist other G20 leaders to help.The Canadian Presslast_img read more

North American stock indexes finish week flat Canadian dollar up

first_imgTORONTO – North American stock indexes capped of the week on a flat note amid heightened North Korea-U.S. tensions, as the loonie strengthened against a weakening greenback.Rallying gold and materials stocks weren’t enough to lift Toronto’s S&P/TSX composite index out of the red, which dropped 0.69 of a point to 15,454.23 in a largely broad-based decline.Despite the TSX’s minor slip Friday, the commodity-heavy index has gained more than 280 points on the week.“We had a decent run,” said Michael Currie, vice-president of TD Wealth Private Investment Advice. “We’ve got to take the positives out of the week.”In New York, stock indexes finished the day uneven with little movement in either direction.The Dow Jones industrial average gave back 9.64 points to 22,349.59, while the S&P 500 index edged up 1.62 points to 2,502.22 and the Nasdaq composite index added 4.23 points to 6,426.92.The small trades on Wall Street suggested investors were shrugging off the latest wave of ramped-up tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, said Erik Davidson, chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank.He also noted that the VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, was little changed.Geopolitical tensions ratcheted up after President Donald Trump authorized stiffer sanctions in response to North Korea’s nuclear weapons advances, drawing a furious response from Pyongyang. Trump expanded the Treasury Department’s ability to target anyone conducting significant trade in goods, services or technology with North Korea, and to ban them from interacting with the U.S. financial system.North Korean leader Kim Jong Un retaliated by calling Trump “deranged” and saying he’ll “pay dearly” for his threats.In currency markets, the Canadian dollar was trading at an average price of 81.19 cents US, up 0.15 of a cent.On the commodities front, the November crude contract added 11 cents at US$50.66 per barrel and the October natural gas contract was up one cent to US$2.96 per mmBTU.The December gold contract advanced $2.70 to US$1,297.50 an ounce and the December copper contract was up one cent at US$2.94 a pound.– With files from The Associated Press.Follow @DaveHTO on Twitter.last_img read more

Deep freeze offers only cold comfort for natural gas producing firms

first_imgCALGARY – Analysts say the cold snap that continues to blanket many parts of North America is driving short-term natural gas prices higher but the trend is unlikely to significantly affect either Canadian consumer bills or producer profits.Cold weather typically increases demand for the home heating fuel, which draws down storage levels and pushes prices higher, but the affect is being blunted this year because North America is awash in gas from U.S. and Canadian shale wells.Gerry Goobie, a principal with Calgary-based consulting company Gas Processing Management Inc., says higher prices are generally passed through to consumers but the distribution companies that buy the gas have long-term contracts to mitigate price spikes and can draw from storage to handle higher demand.GMP FirstEnergy commodity analyst Martin King says U.S. prices have recently rallied to about $3 per million British thermal units, but points out similar cold weather events in previous years would likely have resulted in prices spiking into the US$4 or US$5 per mmBTU range.King says Western Canada gas production fell by as much as two billion cubic feet per day on some days in the last week of December due to supply interruptions caused by extreme cold weather that froze gas well production equipment.last_img read more

Inspector warned duck boat company of design flaws last year

first_imgA private inspector said Saturday that he warned the company operating duck boats on a Missouri lake about design flaws putting the watercraft at greater risk of sinking, less than a year before the accident that killed 17 people during a sudden storm.Steve Paul, owner of the Test Drive Technologies inspection service in the St. Louis area, said he issued a written report for the company in August 2017. It explained why the boats’ engines — and pumps that remove water from their hulls — might fail in inclement weather.He also told The Associated Press that the tourist boats’ canopies make them hard to escape when they sink — a concern raised by regulators after a similar sinking in Arkansas killed 13 people in 1999.The accident Thursday evening on Table Rock Lake outside the tourist town of Branson also is raising questions about whether storm warnings in the area went unheeded and whether any agency can keep boaters off the water when inclement weather approaches.“If you have the information that you could have rough waters or a storm coming, why ever put a boat on that water?” Paul said.A witness’ video of the duck boat just before it capsized suggests that its flexible plastic windows might have been closed and could have trapped passengers as the hybrid boat-truck went down. It does not show passengers jumping clear.“The biggest problem with a duck when it sinks is that canopy,” Paul said. “That canopy becomes what I’ll call a people catcher, and people can’t get out from under that canopy.”A spokeswoman for Ripley Entertainment, the company operating the duck boats in Branson, did not respond Saturday to telephone and email messages seeking comment. Spokeswoman Suzanne Smagala has noted that Thursday’s accident was the only one in more than 40 years of operation.An archived version of Ripley’s website said it operates 20 duck boats in Branson and described them as “built from the ground up under United States Coast Guard (USCG) supervision with the latest in marine safety.”In central Wisconsin, Original Wisconsin Ducks in the Dells has no plans to change how it operates after 73 years of safe rides, general manager Dan Gavinski said. But his company operates World War II-vintage boats, not the modified modern version.Since 1999, duck boats have been linked to the deaths of more than 40 people, with a troubled safety record on the road and water alike. Their height can obscure cars, pedestrians or bicycles from a driver’s view, and maintenance problems can be severe.Paul said he won’t know until the boat that sank is recovered from the lake whether it’s one of the two dozen he inspected for Ripley Entertainment in August 2017.The U.S. Coast Guard said the boat that sank was built in 1944 and had passed an inspection in February, The Kansas City Star reported . But Paul said the boat would have been heavily modified to make it longer so that only part of it dates to World War II. He said it would still have the design flaw he identified in his report.He declined to share a copy of his report with The Associated Press but said he said he is willing to make it available to authorities.“I’m sure eventually it will be subpoenaed,” he said.Paul said the duck boats he inspected — which the company had just purchased or repaired — vented exhaust from the motor out front and below the water line. He said in rough conditions, water could get into the exhaust system, and then into the motor, cutting it off. With the motor off, he said, its pump for removing water from the hull would not operate.“If you watch that video, that water is definitely being slammed up into that exhaust without a doubt,” Paul said.After the deadly sinking in Arkansas in 1999, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended doing away with the canopies and adding more floatation capacity so duck boats could remain upright and keep floating even if they took on water.The industry took little heed, said Robert Mongeluzzi, a Philadelphia attorney who has represented victims of duck boat crashes. The canopies can protect customers from rain or sun, he noted, and closed windows allow companies to heat the cabins, extending operating hours.The NTSB called the industry’s response to the recommendations disappointing, saying companies cited the cost of engineering and installing additional flotation capacity as prohibitive.“The duck boat is notoriously unstable and unsuited for what they were attempting to do with it,” said Daniel Rose, an attorney whose New York-based law firm has represented victims in several accidents. “It tries to be a boat and a car and does neither, really, except under ideal circumstances.”State officials said the Coast Guard regulates such craft; its officials did not immediately respond to requests for more information. Spokesmen said the Department of Transportation doesn’t regulate duck boats because they’re amphibious, and the Department of Public Safety doesn’t in this case because it’s a commercial vessel, as opposed to a recreational one.It’s also not clear that any agency had the authority to keep boats off the lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built it in the late 1950s, but its officials said they don’t have such authority.Witnesses have said the weather appeared calm before a storm suddenly whipped up strong waves and spray.But nearly eight hours earlier, the National Weather Service had issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the western and central Missouri counties.A severe thunderstorm warning that went out at 6:32 p.m. specifically mentioned Table Rock Lake. The first emergency calls over the accident occurred just after 7 p.m.Meteorologist Elisa Raffa of KOLR-TV in Springfield said in a phone interview Saturday that her station was forecasting the threat of severe weather all morning.“This storm didn’t come out of nowhere,” she said. “That is what pains me. I feel like we did everything, at least we tried to do everything, by the book as meteorologists and we still had this horrible tragedy on our hands.”___Hanna reported from Topeka, Kansas. Johnson reported from Seattle. Jim Salter in St. Louis; Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia; Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kansas, and James MacPherson in Bismarck, North Dakota, contributed.last_img read more

UK to extradite Algerian exmagnate Khalifa to Algeria

first_imgLONDON- Rafik Khalifa, a former magnate from Algeria who once owned an airline and a string of companies, will be extradited to his homeland from Britain by the end of the year, British officials said Monday.“Mr Khalifa was refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on December 3. He will be extradited within 28 days of that date,” said a spokeswoman for the Home Office.Once considered the “golden boy” of  Algeria, Khalifa came from obscurity to build an empire including a bank, an airline and television stations, and employed 20,000 people in Algeria and Europe. He took refuge in Britain in 2003 when his business collapsed, costing the Algerian state and individual savers between $1.5 billion and $5 billion (1.1 billion and 3.6 billion euros).Algeria tried him in absentia in 2007, finding him guilty for criminal involvement and fraud and sentenced to life in prison, and demanding his extradition.He is to go into an appeal hearing on his return to Algeria.French authorities are also seeking to extradite Khalifa on fraud and embezzlement charges, but the Algerian request takes precedence.last_img read more