Slick roads, blowing snow delay air, road travel in Midwest
By NOREEN NASIR
Tuesday, November 27
CHICAGO (AP) — A wintry storm brought blizzard-like conditions to parts of the Midwest early Monday, grounding hundreds of flights and causing scores of accidents and at least one death on slick roads crowded with people returning to work after the Thanksgiving weekend.
The Chicago area was slammed with up to a foot (30 centimeters) of wet snow, and whiteout conditions stalled commuter traffic on the roads. The National Weather Service said 7.5 inches (19 centimeters) of snow fell at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and 4.9 inches (12.5 centimeters) fell at Midway International Airport.
The Chicago Department of Aviation says more than 1,200 flights were canceled at O’Hare between midnight and 3 p.m. Monday, after 700 flights at the airport were canceled Sunday. At Midway International Airport, where 123 flights were canceled on Sunday, another 71 flights had been canceled as of midnight.
One Chicago native trying to fly to Orlando, Florida, chided himself for not heeding the forecast, but maintained his sense of humor.
“I knew it was right around the corner, and behold I stayed that one extra day and paid the price. So I was able to spend the evening here at beautiful O’Hare and had plenty of company,” said Mark McCoy, referring to all the other travelers stranded at the travel hub.
“It’s all part of the Thanksgiving travel experience,” McCoy said.
One couple was faced with an unexpectedly long layover in Chicago after spending two weeks with their son in Thailand. Bob Kernez, 61, said he and his wife were contemplating getting a hotel room in the city but were unsure if they wanted to leave the airport.
“We’re not really dressed for the weather now,” said Kernez, of Duluth, Minnesota.
The storm also dumped wet snow on parts of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, creating treacherous driving conditions. Police responded to dozens of crashes Monday morning in the Lansing area and in nearby Ionia County, officials encouraged people to stay off “treacherous” roads after a 48-year-old woman died when she lost control of her car on icy M-66 on Monday morning.
The Illinois State Police, which responded to many spin-outs and collisions — but no reports of serious injuries — had a similar message to stay off the roads unless necessary, particularly since falling temperatures were expected to make the roads even more slippery.
Farther south, Gov. Jeff Colyer declared a state of emergency in Kansas on Sunday after 2 to 14 inches (5 to 36 centimeters) of snow fell in parts of the state. The state Department of Transportation reported several road closures Monday, mostly in the extreme northeast, but said a stretch of Interstate 70 that had been closed on Sunday was reopened.
The National Weather Service said that 3 to 9 inches fell across northern Missouri on Sunday. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported multiple fender-benders but by midmorning on Monday the Department of Transportation said all roads were opened. Flights were mostly on time Monday at Kansas City International Airport, one day after the storm caused widespread delays.
Roads in much of Nebraska and the southern half of Iowa remained covered in snow and ice early Monday, even after the storm had passed those states. Several state and U.S. highways were impassable in Nebraska, but traffic was moving on Interstate 29 in the southwestern corner of Iowa and Interstate 80 in the eastern of the state, despite a blanket of snow.
Roads were slick in northern Indiana early Monday after about 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow fell, and more was forecast through the afternoon.
Parts of southeastern Wisconsin, just north of Chicago, suffered a glancing blow from the storm, with about 9 inches (23 centimeters) of blowing and drifting snow.
Associated Press video journalist Teresa Crawford contributed to this story.
Opinion: Green Groups Continue to Push for Costly, Unfair Net Metering Schemes
By Ross Marchand
Over the last few months, lawmakers, regulators and consumer advocates have been fighting the good fight against forced, expensive solar energy. Advocates of “net metering,” or the cross-subsidization of residential solar power at the expense of the poor, have had a tough time persuading lawmakers to back their flawed policies. In New Hampshire, a bill expanding net metering was vetoed by Governor Chris Sununu, who called the policy a “handout” to developers. Meanwhile, Arizona’s Arizona Corporation Commission nixed net metering all together in September as the state implements its “Value of Solar” decision issued two years ago.
But advocates of regressive net metering policies aren’t throwing in the towel yet, as environmental groups gear up for battle in New York and Michigan. Despite the claims of pro-solar advocates in both states and across the country, net metering would do little to further “green” goals but come at a gargantuan cost to consumers.
Far from “leveling the playing field,” net metering forces utilities to pay more for rooftop solar energy (the “retail” rate of electricity) versus the typical wholesale price they pay for all other electricity. In no uncertain terms, rooftop solar owners get a unique offer not extended to any other electricity provider. And because of this mandate, utilities need to recoup costs elsewhere. Too often, utility customers in net metering states wind up footing the bill. This distribution has consequences, given that residential solar adopters have household incomes roughly 50 percent higher than non-solar households according to 2016 data reported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Advocates of net metering scoff at the characterization of solar household as subsidy hoarders, and point to resulting carbon emission reductions that benefit society as a whole. If the environmental costs of burning fossil fuels are high enough, then moving away from traditional energy sources will avert disaster and outweigh the current costs of net metering. In reality, however, the situation is considerably more complex, as net metering can drive investment away from cheaper, more efficient forms of renewable energy. The reason for this is that even if you accept that these schemes produce an environmental benefit, the studies that have found small benefits to utility consumer fail to account for different types of solar power, or that similar results might be achieved at far lower cost.
Even in states with few “green” tax credits and subsidies, utility-scale (ie. mass generation) solar is growing by leaps and bounds. Utility-holding companies such as Southern and Berkshire Hathaway, for example, are ditching fossil fuel generation in favor of wholly renewable projects going forward. Large-scale solar projects promise to deliver the same carbon reductions as distributed solar but at a far lower price. Data from GTM Research shows that rooftop panel installation is more than twice as expensive as utility panel projects, on a per-watt basis. The cost of utility solar installation is also falling faster. Utility project prices plummeted roughly 70 percent in the 2010-2015 period, versus 50 percent for residential solar.
Therefore, net metering schemes have the potential to crowd out utility solar projects, forcing utility consumers to pay far more for the same reduction in carbon emissions. This is likely to happen in states like Indiana where utilities own their own power plants and generate their own power.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory warns that diminished revenue for these utilities resulting from “high PV penetration” can result in large “utility investment deferrals.” Since utility companies own 50 percent of existing utility-scale solar, revenue declines will directly eat into capital improvements. Fitch Ratings has repeatedly warned that onerous net metering mandates “could damage the creditworthiness of investor-owned utilities,” making it harder for utilities to gain the investment capital needed for new generation.
If regular utility consumers are to be bilked to pay for their richer neighbors’ rooftop panels, there better be large benefits for everyone down the road. But that’s simply not the case; large solar arrays in the desert can deliver the green gains absent a ludicrous and unfair subsidy scheme. States taking this into account can avoid an unfair scheme that bilks the working poor at little bang for the buck.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Ross Marchand is the director of policy for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Dortmund bus attacker convicted of 28 attempted murders
Tuesday, November 27
BERLIN (AP) — A German court on Tuesday convicted a man of 28 counts of attempted murder in last year’s attack on the Borussia Dortmund soccer team’s bus and sentenced him to 14 years in prison.
The Dortmund state court found the defendant, who has been identified only as Sergej W. in line with German privacy rules, guilty of 28 counts of attempted murder as well as bodily harm and setting off an explosion, the dpa news agency reported.
Dortmund defender Marc Bartra and a police officer were injured when three explosions hit the team’s bus as it left a hotel in the western German city for a Champions League game on April 11, 2017.
Tuesday’s verdict ended an 11-month trial that featured testimony from players and then-Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
Prosecutors alleged that W. took out a loan to place a bet that Borussia Dortmund’s shares would drop in value, then bombed the bus and tried to disguise the attack as Islamic terrorism. Dortmund is the only German soccer club whose shares are listed on the stock exchange.
The blasts shattered a window of the bus and hit Bartra with shrapnel, leaving the team without the Spanish defender for about a month after he had to undergo surgery on a broken bone in his wrist.
The verdict fell short of prosecutors’ call for a life sentence. However, defense lawyers had argued that W. should be convicted only of setting off an explosion and given a much lower sentence.
In January, the defendant testified that he carried out the attack but didn’t intend to kill or hurt anyone. The 29-year-old German citizen told the court he was trying to fake an attack and designed the explosives in such a way “that no harm to people could be expected.”
The court didn’t buy that explanation.
“The defendant anticipated the possibility that people could be killed,” judge Peter Windgaetter said as he delivered the verdict. “He could not have controlled the direction of the explosion.”
“His aim was to send as loud a signal as possible, leading to declines in the share price,” Windgaetter added.
The suspect built the bombs himself, using metal pins — some of which flew more than 200 meters (over 650 feet) in the explosions, which he set off by remote control from the hotel. He was arrested 10 days after the attack.
The bombing happened as the Dortmund team set off for a Champions League match against Monaco. The game was rescheduled for the next day, when Dortmund lost 3-2.
The club had no comment on the verdict.
“Today, we are concentrating only on the game,” club spokesman Sascha Fligge said, referring to Wednesday’s Champions League match against Club Brugge. “The issue was dealt with internally a long time ago.”
The Time Is Up. The Time Is Now.
An Essay of the Man from the North
by Rivera Sun
[Editor’s note: The Man from the North is a fictional character from Rivera Sun’s first series of novels. She has him offering essays beyond her novels.]
The time is up. The time is now. Gather the people to do the work: the healing, transformative, deepening work of building community, solutions, understanding, skills, knowledge, and hope. You must be the one to make a change, to step out of the rutted tracks of the looming train wreck that is our culture. You must have the courage to walk into the wilderness of what you don’t know and embrace the solutions that will save our lives.
All quests and hero’s journeys begin with this: the yearning for change; the hope of saving graces; the long shot of wished-for miracles. In each of us, our willingness to make a change begins with equal measures of fear, courage, and purpose rolled into an electric jolt to the soul … a spark that launches you toward danger and potential.
Our world will be saved by billions of ordinary heroes and sheroes who decide to do hundreds of humble and extraordinary actions. Hour by hour, minute by minute, we change our world by withdrawing our support, cooperation, and participation from old destructive systems. By making these shifts, we starve the monster we have become. We share with neighbors to dismantle consumer-capitalism. We gather to tell stories and unplug the corporate media. We build solar panels and shut off the switches of fossil fuels. One small action multiplied by millions of people adds up quickly to massive change. One small action done strategically by a small group of people can catalyze a hundred million more.
Change requires that we live differently. All of us must make changes: from the most committed activist who knows she must reconnect to her heart; to the average citizen who suspects he could be doing more; to the terrified investors in fossil fuels who must choose between their industry and their planet; and everyone in between. Real change is never handed to us on a silver platter, nor served by powerful people. When suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton wanted to vote, she strode into the polling place and cast her ballot. When Rosa Parks wanted to desegregate the Montgomery buses, she sat down and refused to give up her seat. When tribes among the Anishinaabe wanted to use their promised treaty rights, they walked on to the land to hunt, fish, and gather traditional foods and medicines.
All of them faced violence, danger, arrest, and even death threats. All of them organized, mobilized, struggled, and ultimately prevailed. None of them sat on the couch waiting for the right people to be put into the right offices to do the right thing. Deep, meaningful change is not handed to us. We wrest it out of the unknown and bring it into existence in our lives.
As Thomas Paine wrote, “we have it in our power to begin the world over again.” Our actions, day in and day out, shape this ever-evolving world. We are the potter’s hands forming the wet clay vessels of our existence. We are the weavers at the loom, casting the threads of our lives through the wool of the world. We are the stone cutter with chisel and hammer, chipping away at the hard realities that block our forward progress. With such power to shape our world comes the responsibility to wield our lives with intention and skill.
If you want change, live differently. But remember, you alone are not enough. One of our changes is that we must work together. We must reach out from our isolated lives. We must join hands with millions and take collective steps toward the future. You cannot go on a hero’s journey alone. Not this time. You must ask others – many others, millions of others – to change their lives, too. Ask your family, friends, and colleagues. Use outreach and organizing tools to ask your neighbors, faith communities, and co-workers. Put nonviolent action to work to compel our society to adopt a change for justice. Mobilize to demand that institutions and industries shift their massive resources into systems that are just, fair, sustainably, and non-harming. In this way, our ordinary actions – multiplied by millions – add up to extraordinary change.
Do not wait another minute to change your life. The time is up. The time is now.
Author/Activist Rivera Sun, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author ofThe Dandelion Insurrection and the sequel, The Roots of Resistance, and a nationally known movement trainer in strategic nonviolence. The essays were originally published on Dandelion Salad, and are reposted with permission.
Supreme Court could allow suit over Apple iPhone apps’ sales
By MARK SHERMAN
Tuesday, November 27
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court seemed ready Monday to allow an antitrust lawsuit to go forward that claims Apple has unfairly monopolized the market for the sale of iPhone apps.
Apple faced skeptical questions from justices who seemed concerned about the control the Cupertino, California-based company exerts over iPhone users who must purchase software for their smartphones exclusively through its App Store.
The arguments dealt with the fruits of technology that, over the past 10 years, have made more than 2 million apps available to iPhone users, but in the courtroom there were also references to older antitrust cases involving concrete, aluminum, natural gas and shoes.
The suit by iPhone users could force Apple to cut the 30 percent commission it charges software developers whose apps are sold through the App Store. A judge could triple the compensation to consumers under antitrust law if Apple ultimately loses the suit.
But the issue before the high court at this early stage of the suit is whether the case can proceed at all. Justice Stephen Breyer, who used to teach antitrust law at Harvard Law School, said the consumers’ case seemed straightforward and in line with a century of antitrust law.
Apple argues it’s merely a pipeline between app developers and consumers, and that iPhone users have no claims against Apple under federal laws that prohibit unfair control of a market.
Tens of thousands of software developers set the prices and agree to pay Apple a 30 percent commission on whatever they sell, the lawyer representing Apple said in the courtroom. If anyone should be able to sue Apple, it’s a developer, Daniel Wall said. “There have been plenty of disputes, but none has ever gone to litigation,” he said.
Chief Justice John Roberts was alone among the nine justices who seemed prepared to agree with Apple.
Among the justices who appeared to be on the other side, Justice Elena Kagan said consumers appear to have a direct relationship with Apple. “I pick up my iPhone. I go to Apple’s App Store. I pay Apple directly with credit card information that I’ve supplied to Apple. From my perspective, I’ve just engaged in a one-step transaction with Apple,” Kagan said.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh said if consumers are paying more than they should, then perhaps they should be able to sue. The relevant federal antitrust law says “any person injured” can sue, Kavanaugh said.
His comments could align him with justices who would allow the suit to proceed. In other cases, the court has ruled there must be a direct relationship between the seller and a party complaining about unfair, anti-competitive pricing.
Consumers can choose from among more than 2 million apps, compared with the 500 apps that were available when Apple created the App Store in 2008. “The phrase ‘there’s an app for that’ is now part of the popular lexicon,” Roberts noted in a 2014 decision limiting warrantless searches of cellphones by police. Apple has trademarked the phrase.
But the company says the popularity of software for iPhones and its App Store shouldn’t obscure that consumers buys apps from developers, not Apple. Developers set the prices, though Apple requires prices to end in .99, Wall said. The Trump administration is backing Apple at the high court.
Representing consumers, lawyer David Frederick said the monopoly Apple has over iPhone apps is unique in the digital age. “Apple can’t point to another e-commerce distributor that does what it does,” Frederick said. Even Apple allows third parties to sell computer software directly to purchasers of its laptop and desktop computers, he said.
A trial court initially dismissed the suit. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revived it.
A victory for Apple could severely restrict consumers’ ability to sue over antitrust violations even though Congress envisioned such suits “would form a central component of enforcement of the antitrust laws,” warned 18 scholars of antitrust law in a Supreme Court filing.
A decision in Apple Inc. v Pepper, 17-204, is expected by late spring.