Ford repackages factory investment plan, will add 900 jobs
By TOM KRISHER
AP Auto Writer
Wednesday, March 20
DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. is repackaging a previously announced manufacturing investment in the Detroit area and now says it will spend $900 million and create 900 new jobs over the next four years.
Most of the new workers will build a new generation of electric vehicle at Ford’s existing factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, south of Detroit, which will see an $850 million investment. The company also plans a roughly $50 million autonomous vehicle manufacturing center at an undisclosed site near Detroit that will add hardware to existing vehicles.
The announcement comes just after a three-day string of venomous tweets by President Donald Trump condemning crosstown rival General Motors for shutting down its small-car factory in Lordstown, Ohio, east of Cleveland. Trump demanded that GM reopen the plant, criticized the local union leader and expressed frustration with GM CEO Mary Barra.
Joe Hinrichs, Ford’s president of global operations, wouldn’t directly answer questions about whether Trump’s actions influenced the moves, but said Wednesday that the investment is part of the company’s plans to run its business more efficiently. The timing of the announcement was due to requirements that parts suppliers be notified of manufacturing plans, Hinrichs said.
“We’ve been running our business this way for 10-plus years,” he said in an interview. Hinrichs said Ford is aware that auto manufacturing gets a lot of attention these days, and said he is proud that Ford employs more workers represented by the United Auto Workers union than any other manufacturer. A union spokesman confirmed that statement.
In January of 2017, Ford announced that it would invest $700 million at the Flat Rock plant to make hybrid, electric and autonomous vehicles. Later the company moved an all-electric SUV to a factory in Mexico, freeing more space at Flat Rock to build future electric and self-driving cars and adding $200 million to the investment. At that time, it was promising 950 new jobs.
Hinrichs said that company projections of electric vehicle sales made it clear that Ford needed more space to build them. “We had to change some of our plans,” he said, adding that the new plan is a better use of capital spending dollars.
The company intends to add a second shift at Flat Rock to build an electric vehicle, which Hinrichs would not detail. Ford said production would begin in 2023.
The Flat Rock plant now builds the Mustang muscle car and the Lincoln Continental luxury car, which has a murky future because Ford has announced it intends to stop selling all cars in the U.S. but the Mustang. Last November it transferred 650 workers from Flat Rock to other factories.
Hinrichs said the new autonomous vehicle center will start modifying existing Ford models with plans to deploy them in 2021, as previously announced.
Illinois organizations prepare for important 2020 Census
CHICAGO (AP) — There’s a lot at stake in next year’s U.S. Census, including congressional seats and billions of dollars in federal funding, according to experts in Illinois who are pushing to educate the public about the importance of the count.
An analysis by George Washington University’s Institute of Public Policy found that at least $34 billion in federal funding for programs that directly assist Illinois residents is tied to census figures, The Chicago Tribune reported.
The state could also lose up to two congressional seats if the upcoming count finds a population loss, according to a report by the Illinois Complete Count Commission, which was formed in 2017 to help educate communities, organizations and residents about the importance of the census.
Concerns about data privacy and distrust in the government are the main factors that keep people from participating in the census, according to the census bureau.
Jay Young, of the watchdog group Common Cause Illinois, said he’s also concerned about reaching populations that typically don’t participate in the census, such as African-Americans and rural communities.
“I’m worried that not enough thinking is being done for folks outside of the city,” Young said.
The commission is working with various state agencies to educate the public about how census figures influence things including road construction and social services, said Jeanine Stroger, the commission’s designated chair.
“Those kinds of decisions are based on census data and that’s why it’s so crucial to have an accurate and complete count,” Stroger said.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who leads the commission, has launched a grant program to encourage participation in the April 1, 2020, Census. Forefront, a statewide coalition of nonprofits, is also working to fundraise for census outreach initiatives.
Forefront is using different outreach strategies for specific communities, since some groups may respond better on social media, while other will respond more to in-person interactions, said Anita Banerji, the director of the democracy initiative for Forefront.
Forefront also supports a Senate bill in the Illinois General Assembly that seeks to give the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity $25 million to distribute as census outreach grants.
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com
EPA bans consumer sales of paint stripper linked to deaths
By ELLEN KNICKMEYER
Friday, March 15
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is banning consumer sales of a paint stripper after personal appeals by families of men who died while using the product.
The final rule announced Friday bars the manufacture and import of consumer products containing methylene chloride. The products have been popular with do-it-yourselfers.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls the product “extremely hazardous.” The EPA is urging consumers not to use it.
The consumer bans begins 180 days after the rule is published. The EPA says it expects retailers to implement it sooner.
The rule doesn’t affect commercial uses.
California says it’s tracked at least five deaths since 2014 among people overcome by the fumes from methylene chloride.
Families of victims had met with Trump administration officials and lawmakers urging the ban.
Our Green New Deal
By Samantha M., age 12, and Angelica Perkins, age 17
On Friday, February 22, 2019, Sunrise Bay Area, Youth Vs. Apocalypse and Earth Guardians Bay Area Crew gathered together for a rally held outside of Senator Feinstein’s office in San Francisco in an attempt to persuade her to vote yes on the Green New Deal.
We attended the rally at Feinstein’s to show support and help in whatever ways we could as this movement is one that matters to us and our future— we hadn’t planned to talk with Feinstein directly. In spite of this, when the opportunity presented itself YVA and Earth Guardians accepted gladly and were more than excited when we learned that we would actually be allowed into her office to speak to her personally. For us at least, this excitement turned quickly into fear as our peers and Senator Feinstein began to converse.
This fear was not because we felt that we were being “Taught a lesson” or “Told off”. It was because we could see ourselves talking to our future grandchildren about what breathable air used to be like. We could see workers in impoverished communities whose children’s lives depended on risking their own. We were afraid because, at that moment, we could see the world around us shrinking – becoming something small and unimportant, and with it so did we.
However, we only felt this way. As we sit here and write this piece, we know that we are not small and we are definitely not unimportant. Our words speak for all youth, as we demand a future. And that future will only be possible through the Green New Deal. Because as we advocate for the Green New Deal, we are also advocating for the future of our Earth and all of its inhabitants. A promised future. The future we deserve. Because the adults that decide our future, got theirs. So who are they to cancel ours?
We are not fighting for the Green New Deal because we are brainwashed youth or because we are being manipulated and used for political gain. We fight for the Green New Deal because we are in charge of our future, and know exactly what it means. It lies in our hands, only ours. It is our future, whether or not elected officials like that and the only way to protect what belongs to us is through bold and transformative action.
We cannot separate ourselves from all the animals, plants and all other life because we are all interconnected. We are all affected by the destructive aftermath of climate change. Just because we are human, it does not negate the fact that we are also in danger because of our actions. We are in also in danger from inequality and lack of economic opportunity. We can’t leave behind anyone.
That is why we believe in the Green New Deal, and we know what the Green New Deal is. We have read it and we understand it because we know exactly what we have to do to secure our future. Youth have a right to be in this conversation because in the long run, this is more than a debate. It is our life and future.
Samantha and Angelica write for PeaceVoice, are Oakland students and members of the youth-led climate justice group, Youth Vs. Apocalypse. To contact their adult advisor: email@example.com
Designing a Business Plan: Six Ways New Entrepreneurs Can Keep the Environment in Mind
Kate Harveston March 18, 2019
The public has spoken: More people than ever prefer to do business with companies who keep the environment in mind. Fortunately, many young entrepreneurs agree. Since nearly everyone understands the value of going green, how can business leaders make sure their new venture is eco-friendly?
Running a business while keeping the environment in mind doesn’t happen automatically. It takes a variety of steps and means incorporating green practices into everyday company choices and practices. Here’s how to make your brand soar as an industry leader with a solid environmental strategy starting from your business plan on forward.
1. Eliminate Lengthy Commutes
This isn’t 1919 — it’s 2019 — and most people are as connected via technology at home as they are at work. Before declaring that all employees commute to the office for the 8-to-5 grind, reconsider whether it’s necessary for all workers to do so every day.
Obviously, those in the restaurant and retail sector need on-site employees. But these days, even some in the health care industry work remotely at least part of the time, as do many teachers, bookkeepers and call center representatives. Strive to allow for remote work as much as possible.
Why? This not only helps the planet by slashing vehicle emissions caused by commuting — it benefits your bottom line. Most office space rents by the square-foot, so fewer daily in-person workers mean needing less space equaling lower rent payments. You also save a ton in supply costs. There’s no need to buy 30 desks for each staff member when only five or six come in most days per week.
2. Kick the Can
Ah, the ubiquitous vending machine, that lovely 3 p.m. pick-me-up device laden with Funyuns and Fresca. Most every office building has at least one pop dispenser on site, but how many have recycling bins available for the empty cans? While I had a bit of trouble locating precise statistic, I know from personal experience from the last five offices I worked in that if I didn’t provide the bins and run the cans to the center weekly, those cans ended up in the trash.
Terrible, huh? And it’s not just pop cans filling landfills and oceans. The amount of Keurig cups offices go through could circle the globe multiple times, and while today’s cups are made from recycled materials, few office workers properly break down the cup components prior to hitting the bins.
Stick with regular drip coffeemakers. Harness the skills of that former barista on your team to brew the office pot. Invest in a can crusher and a bin for pop cans — as an added plus, a hand-operated can crusher serves as a great stress reliever on tough days!
3. Utilize Recycled Materials
Starting out green makes incorporating other environmentally friendly practices easier. Also, when you’re a business owner, your choice of what suppliers and manufacturers you purchase parts from further bolsters your business as one which cares about protecting our planet.
Partnering with the right suppliers can even result in more revenue. Nearly 73 percent of millennials say that they prefer to patronize sustainable businesses. Your green reputation will indeed proceed you and draw more up-and-coming young adults to your company’s doorstep.
4. Clean Green
Office cleaning products have a notorious yet deserved reputation for leaving those of us with allergies sneezing and even breaking out in hives. Toss chemical cleaners and contract with an office cleaning team that uses all-natural cleaners made from vinegar, baking soda and clear dish soap.
Even if your office uses green cleaning products, other offices in the same building may not. And fumes can drift through cracks and air ducts. Improve the indoor air quality of your workplace by adding numerous houseplants.
5. Save a Tree
The average office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper per year. Depending on the size of your organization, that’s a lot of trees! And many offices fail to recycle the paper they use.
Consider making your office as close to paperless as possible by utilizing secure cloud storage to handle documents several team members collaborate upon and secure backup servers to ensure copies of important docs are available in a few keystrokes. Whenever possible, communicate through email, chat and phone rather than sending paper memos.
6. Be Thrifty
Remember going to grandma’s house and having to search through multiple “butter” containers until you actually found the one holding your sandwich spread of choice? The generation who lived through the Great Depression learned to reuse what they had when money for new items grew scarce.
Take a hint from their practices. Re-purpose boxes from reams of paper and use them to hold other items, or even use them as recycle bins. Save packing materials like egg crates to protect future fragile objects from damage during shipment. If you haven’t already established a supply closet protocol, limit keys to only a few designated employees to decrease shrink (we’ve all worked with that one person who treats the office supply closet like their own personal shopping center where every item is marked as “free”).
Green Business Plans Lead to Success and Profit
Business plans designed with sustainability in mind save employers money by reducing overhead costs. Additionally, such plans build repeat customer loyalty, as more and more consumers opt to do business with companies who take concrete measures to protect the planet. Green business plans lead to a more successful, safe and beautiful world.
EarthTalk, a California-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Diets can do more than help you lose weight – they could also save the planet
Updated March 12, 2019
Author: Adrienne Rose Bitar, Postdoctoral Associate, Cornell University
Disclosure statement: Adrienne Rose Bitar does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Fad diets have long been brushed off as selfish, superficial quests to lose weight.
But if you study the actual content of popular diet books, you will discover that most tell a different story. Many inspire dieters to improve the health of their bodies, society and the planet.
It’s a topic I explore in my research, as well as my 2018 book, “Diet and the Disease of Civilization.” More than merely guides for getting thin, diet books tell rich stories that urge people to change their lives to save the world.
Diets inspire change not because one is more effective than another, but because they tell stories worth believing in.
Peel away the nutrition advice and you’ll find that, while most popular diets ennoble seemingly selfish goals, they also insist that individual health is inextricably linked to the larger environment.
A quick review of diet books reveals their grand aspirations. Think of the Paleo diet. Hundreds of Paleo diets describe peaceful prehistoric communities rich with singing, dancing and storytelling. Today, leaders promise that “eating Paleo can save the world.”
Promoters of detox diets make similar claims. Detoxers believe that environmental pollution and toxins cause stress, obesity and other modern ills.
A detox book from 1984 argued that humans cannot “dissociate our fate from the fate of the earth” and insisted that “what we have learned about freeing our bodies from harmful substances must also apply to cleaning up the world.”
Today’s diets go a step further, intimating that if you’re not “eating clean” you could be eating “dirty” foods full of pesticides, toxins and carcinogens. One diet book explains that clean foods are “not only good for one’s health, but equally important for the environment.” “The Kind Diet,” a popular vegan book written by actor and animal rights activist Alicia Silverstone and Victoria Pearson, is subtitled “A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight and Saving the Planet.”
Arguably, today’s food world could use some saving.
The health consequences of how Americans eat have long been cataloged. For example, 2 in 3 Americans are overweight or obese, costing the U.S. economy an estimated US$190 billion a year.
But the environmental consequences of these food choices are just as stark. Agriculture is responsible for about one-tenth of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Farming consumes more than two-thirds of the planet’s fresh water.
And it’s specific dietary choices that are driving these environmental pressures. Animal products, for example, provide just 18 percent of the typical American’s calories yet take up 83 percent of all farmland. Just cutting down on beef would be more effective at reducing your carbon footprint than giving up your car.
The government’s role
This is where the government could learn from popular diet plans and promote sustainable diets for public health and the environment.
In its dietary guidelines, the U.S. Department of Agriculture encourages Americans to consume a healthy diet that focuses on foods high in nutrients and low in sugars and saturated fats. But despite the recommendation of an advisory committee, it does not include language about food system sustainability or how such diets have a well-established link to human health.
The government is also discouraging other steps toward an environmentally friendly diet. Consider the new technologies of culturing meat from living animal cells – a technology that could cut out 14.5 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the government is bending to industry concerns and enforcing needlessly strict definitions of meat, preventing soy- and lab-based products using the label.
History shows that today’s Department of Agriculture is missing a valuable opportunity. During World War I, the American government used diets to do more than improve individuals’ health. As the head of the Food Administration, Herbert Hoover urged Americans to stop wasting food so the U.S. could use it to prevent starvation in Europe. His efforts are now credited with saving the lives of about 7 million Belgians and 2 million French people.
Popular diets also picked up the humanitarian cause. One 1918 diet included a program dubbed “Watch Your Weight Anti-Kaiser.”
Today’s food authorities could do the same: urge Americans to eat better because the food system is actually a web. Our food choices have a profound impact on our health and the planet.
Terrence Treft: thanks for making these important points, many of which were factors for me when i choose vegetarian eating 30 years ago. but i think we need to change one of our/your principal denominators about eating and our diet, that we choose to eat “healthier foods” rather than “healthy foods”. we are slowly learning about the independent, individual genetic and epigenetic factors that influence our bodies/metabolisms such that two people who otherwise appear to eat and exercise the same can have much different outcomes, health and even body types.
there is a general consensus that sugars/carbs are greatly detrimental to our american lifestyle, yet when, with a few exceptions, one watches the popular cooking shows on pbs, the recipes feature high carbs/sugars and meat. but during pledge drives, the infomercial “health diet” doctors are the featured players.
this is the time for women’s ncaa basketball conference tournaments, and during one game they showed a clip of the first women’s ncaa championship game in the 1970’s. every player was slim, yet today that is not the case. some basketball players, men and women, who exercise strenuously 2-3 hrs a day and have controlled diets, are still overweight. not the case 50 years ago, nor with our general population, either.
something other than diet alone may be a contributing factor to our obesity epidemic. in a “the conversation” article some time ago, a researcher suggested that obese men can epigenetically pass their weight tendencies by way of their sperm to their male offspring. he (or another author) suggested too, that the “battle” for nutrients between mother and fetus (as well as the father’s present dna) may also account for weight gain.
here are two observations, not clinical at all. first, as more men are overweight and obese, the need expands for women to fill their absence in the military. and, as many/most police officers are overweight/obese, the need increases to use firearms to subdue suspects rather than chasing and/or using physical restraint.
thanks again for the article.