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December 17 2016


For California, fighting climate change is good for the environment and the economy

To the editor: Since the passage of ambitious climate legislation 10 years ago requiring greenhouse gas cuts, Californias economy has grown robustly while carbon dioxide emissions have decreased. In defeating Proposition 23 in 2010, California voters further revealed that, in their view, the benefits of taking responsibility for our emissions outweighed the costs. (California's climate fight could be painful especially on job and income growth, Dec. 11)

The Times article fails to recognize the resulting clean technology innovations and job creation, now numbering in the hundreds of thousands, that are now signature features of Californias economy. More importantly, it fails to recognize that the state has adopted measures to financially protect moderate- and lower-income consumers during the transition to a cleaner economy.

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation calculated that Californians could find hundreds of dollars extra in their pockets because of climate credits that directly reduce electricity bills and other measures that help households lower expenditures on electricity, natural gas and gasoline.

J.R. DeShazo, Los Angeles

The writer, a professor of public policy at UCLA, is director of the universitys Luskin Center for Innovation.


To the editor: Your article on the implementation of Californias world-class climate change policies completely ignores statutes put in place that require extensive study and review of impacts on jobs, the states economy, the departure of businesses to other states and numerous other economic factors before the adoption of any regulations.

The critics of Californias emissions reduction efforts cited in the article made the same arguments when we first started these programs a decade ago, and they have been proved wrong ever since. Californias economy has grown into the sixth largest in the world and has created a thriving clean-energy sector that has sped up innovation and job creation.

California leads with vision in the energy sector, so it is disappointing your readers have to settle with reporting that is so shortsighted.

Sen. Kevin de Len (D-Los Angeles)

The writer is president pro tempore of the California Senate.


To the editor: Congratulations to The Times for this stellar report. This information on the economic costs of Californias aggressive effort to fight climate change is long overdue.

Ive been dismayed to read about the stringent greenhouse gas emissions reduction legislation signed into law this summer. These bills appear to have passed with virtually no discussion or understanding on the part of the parties involved of the severe costs this will entail to our businesses and consumers, Gov. Jerry Browns reassurances notwithstanding.

In my view, California is sacrificing itself on the altar of a vainglorious belief that we will provide some kind of moral leadership despite the fact that our actions will affect global temperatures to an almost meaningless extent. Meanwhile, we will drive businesses out of the state and hurt our own people.

Deborah R. Castleman, Santa Monica


To the editor: Contrary to your article, the negative effects of fighting climate change would be largely eliminated if California were to adopt a carbon fee and dividend approach. This regime has been in effect in British Columbia and was proposed for the state of Washington in the last election.

Research has shown that a revenue-neutral carbon tax, in which all funds collected on fossil fuels are returned to each citizen equally, would improve the finances of a large majority of families and would be an engine for economic growth in many sectors.

If the federal government wont do it, California should.

Dennis Thompson, Santa Barbara

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

September 24 2016


FBI dumps new batch of Clinton probe documents

AP CAMPAIGN 2016 CLINTON A ELN USA FLDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign stop in Orlando on Wednesday.(Photo: Matt Rourke, AP)

WASHINGTON -- Nearly 200 additional pages released late Friday from the FBI's now-closed investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server show an often-haphazard handling of sensitive information and devices by top aides who scrambled to keep their boss in the loop on important digital information.

One aide recalled helping Clinton replace BlackBerry devices three or four times during her tenure, once after the secretary spilled coffee on a device and again when one of the new devices began to "slowly fail over time.''

Each time, confidential assistant Monica Hanley told FBI agents in a January interview, that a new device was secured and a technical aide would "sync'' it with Clinton's server and then "talk Hanley through the process of wiping the old device.''

"Hanley would provide the new BlackBerry to Clinton along with the old/wiped BlackBerry,'' the FBI reported. "However, Hanley was not sure what Clinton did with the old BlackBerry after Hanley turned them over.''

An initial release of investigation documents earlier this month showed that Clinton used13 BlackBerry devices assecretary of State.All of those devices, the report said, could not be located for analysis.

In July, FBI Director James Comey recommended that no criminal charges be brought against Clinton, though he described the handling of classified information by Clinton and others as "extremely careless.''

The documents released Friday largely included summaries of interviews with former top aides to the now Democratic presidential nominee who outlined their activities on the former secretary's behalf, including the shuttling of secure documents to Clinton's homes in New York and Washington.

One unidentified aide, who was responsible for channeling a range of information to Clinton, from benign ceremonial notifications to "top secret intelligence briefings,'' was "unaware'' that Clinton was working off a personal server. When the aide did receive emails from Clinton, the aide thought it "a little odd'' that that were marked as having come from "H,'' because State Department emails usually contained the senders full names.

Another unidentified aide who worked in the State Department's Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS) told FBI agents that although Clinton took office in January 2009, the IPS office was unable to locate any emails between the time of her swearing in through April of the same year.

"At some point, the determination (by State's Office of Legal Counsel) was made that the emails would not be considered official State records,'' the official told agents.

Hillary Clinton will be devoting the majority of her time working out how she will confront Trump next Monday night at Hofstra University. USA TODAY

The IPS official described a rush last year to vet 296emails, culled from a review of 30,000, that were found to relate to a congressional review of the 2012 attack of the U.S., diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya. The official said she did not believe that the attorneys assigned to prepare the congressional response had the "appropriate training.'' Later the official told agents that she believed "there was interference with the formal (Freedom of Information Act) review process.''

State Department spokesman John Kirby disputed the claims late Friday, saying that the matter was reviewed by State's inspector general who "found no wrongdoing.''

"We have been clear all along that our Freedom of Information Act review of former Secretary Clintons emails was a complex and multi-step process which included consultations with State Department policy experts and legal advisors, as well as other government agencies,'' Kirby said.

Meanwhile, Jacob Sullivan, a top Clinton aide at State, told agents that he, too, was unaware of Clintons use of a private email server.

Though Sullivan said that he sometimes used a personal gmail account. On one occasion, while attending a bachelor party in Idaho, Sullivan recalled receiving an email to his private gmail account from State Department watch officer regarding a pending military activities of a foreign military.

Questioned about the sensitivity of the email, Sullivan told agents that the officer must have had reason to believe it could be sent on an unclassified system.

Sullivan stated everyone he worked with at (State) worked hard while under pressure and used the best judgment they could to accomplish the mission, according to a summary of the FBIs interview.

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Asked about another email referring to a drone strike that had transited on an unclassified system, Sullivan told agents that the sender may have believed the strike had already been reported by news outlets.

In an extended interview with one of Clintons closest aides, Huma Abedin, agents pressed on her knowledge of Clintons communications with President Obama.

Abedin said that the president received emails only from approved addresses and that each time Clinton changed her primary email address, the White House had to be notified so that her communications would not be rejected.

Presented with a June 28, 2012, email chain, Abedin said she did not recognize the name of the sender--a pseudonym used by the president. '"How is this not classified?'' Abedin told agents.

"Abedin then expressed her amazement at the president's use of a pseudonym and asked if she could have a copy of the email,'' the FBI summary stated.

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June 22 2016


Baidu Creates Own Indexes to Paint Picture of China's Economy - Bloomberg

Baidu Inc. is using its own trove of data to measure Chinas economy, devising new gauges that may paint a better picture than the governments.

The countrys leading search engine has begun using location and search information collected from its more than 600 million users to create indicators and indexes it says could shed light on whats happening with the worlds second largest economy.

Investors and analysts have long questioned the veracity and methodology of Chinas government-issued statistics. An example is jobless data, with an unemployment rate staying between 4 percent and 4.3 percent in every quarter since the end of 2002, through a domestic boom, the global financial crisis and now an economy growing at its slowest pace in 25 years.

The economy is slowing down but the unemployment rate published by the government remains steady about 4 percent, senior data scientist Wu Haishan said. So a lot of people are suspicious about that data.

As a company that handles 70 to 80 percent of all online searches in China, Baidu amasses enormous quantities of data -- information it now wants to put to use commercially and scientifically. The company is among the countrys leaders in artificial intelligence and big data application and it hopes to employ that to further its lead in the domestic internet arena.

Baidus Big Data Lab will use its tracking of people across the country to help produce new measures of Chinas economy.Those include its own employment index, and a consumer spending index that will be issued monthly starting late June or early July alongside additional measures tracking key consumer segments. More advanced versions of the data could be sold to investors willing to pay for that extra edge.

Machine-learning algorithms are utilized to identity the employee, consumer and passersby, he said.

Starting from simple location data and gradually adding other clues such as search destinations and keywords, Baidu says its data scientists can make pretty accurate estimates about everything from a shoppers purchasing intent to staffing levels in a factory. The Chinese search service handles more than 25 billion location requests from some 700million users daily, with that data stored on servers, Wu said. Data from general internet searches will be combined in future to boost accuracy.

While other companies such as e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and payments network UnionPay run indexes off their own data, Baidu has experience handling valuable information beyond banking and shopping transactions.

Baidu will focus on the anonymous data of users collected from 3,000 business and shopping centers and districts as well as 2,000 industrial parks across China. The accuracy of information is difficult to verify but Wu said the search giant will run spot checks of falls in staff levels at industrial parks to make sure they matched fluctuations in the Baidu Employment Index. It can resort to sources such as media reports about job losses, or falls in the amount of users.

The Baidu Consumer Index will track visits to everything from shops to cinemas and restaurants. It will then use this to infer how much Chinese people are splurging on retail therapy.

This goes well beyond a purely academic exercise: Baidu says its indexes and data can have real business implications.

Baidu says it can infer demographic details such as gender, ages and wealth of people in any given area. By blending that with search queries and comparing it to existing demand, say for coffee shops, chain stores like Starbucks can decide where to place their next outlet for maximum profit, Wu said. As an experiment, in late 2015 it worked out the optimal location to plant a cafe, and by January 2016 the U.S. brand had opened a store just 200 meters away.

We can measure how many people visit the Apple store in China and by this we can predict their revenue for the next quarter, he said.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE


April 06 2016


Texas 'vampire' killer set for execution Wednesday

635955033652405131-Pablo-vampire-killer.JPGThis undated handout photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Pablo Lucio Vasquez. The south Texas man who told police that voices convinced him to kill a 12-year-old boy and drink his blood is facing lethal injection Wednesday, April 6, 2016.(Photo: Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

A Texas man who told police that voices convinced him to kill a 12-year-old boy and drink his blood is facing lethal injection this week in Huntsville, Texas.

Pablo Lucio Vasquez said he was high and drunk when he killed David Cardenas in 1998.

The 38-year-old Vasquez is set for execution Wednesday evening.

Cardenas was a friend of Vasquezs 15-year-old cousin, and the killing occurred after all three left a party together.

His would be the nations 11th execution this year, and the sixth in Texas.

Courts as recent as last month have rejected arguments Vasquez was mentally ill and should be exempt from the death penalty.

Vasquezs lawyer, James Keegan, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution so the justices can consider arguments that several potential jurors were excluded improperly at Vasquezs trial because they either were opposed to the death penalty or not comfortable making such a judgment.

Vasquez declined an interview request from The Associated Press as his execution date neared.

Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/1MRybFJ

January 24 2016


Ample Ideas For HVAC Around The Nation

Facility Maintenance Companies will help you get going. In many parts of the country, the summers can be hot and the winters can be cold. If you want to live comfortably, you need a high-quality heating and cooling system in your home. However, choosing the right one can be tricky. Read this article for advice on choosing an HVAC system.

Check the entire house before contacting someone to come for repairs if problems arise with the HVAC system. Know what part of the house is cold and which is hot. That knowledge can help the technician figure out what is going on.

Think of what you wish to have done, before choosing an HVAC contractor. This will make the quote process much easier. It will be way more hard if you can't figure out what they need to do. Know this stuff ahead of time.

Use plants to increase your air conditioner's effectiveness. An AC unit fully shaded by shrubbery and trees can operate up to 10 percent more efficiently. Do keep spacing in mind, however. Air flow must not be constricted, and technicians need room to work when they come out to service your unit.

Make sure you ask for an estimate in writing before choosing a specific HVAC vendor. There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to purchasing these big items. Also the set up and the overall energy costs, though you'll want to compare not only the cost of the equipment.

Have your cooling and heating system inspected twice a year. The normally recommended time for HVAC system inspections is once before the peak cooling season when it gets hot and you'll be using your AC, and once before the peak heating season, during the cold months when you're likely to be using your heat. Even if everything seems okay, it doesn't hurt to check things out.

Have the HVAC system checked twice a year at the least. This should be checked often for malfunctions and debris. Whether you know of problems or not, good maintenance will help you to avoid future issues.

If you don't want to install ductwork in your home, consider a mini-split system instead. They work form the outside in, allowing your whole home to cool without a central air conditioner. This allows you to enjoy all of your indoor space in a cool, comfortable way all summer long.

If you want to turn off your air conditioning at night to save money, consider putting a standing fan next to your bed. You can set it to oscillate from your toes to your head, blowing cool air over your body and letting you sleep comfortably all night long.

Preferably twice, per year, though you should have your HVAC system inspected at least once. This visit will include a motor inspection and checking the freon. This will keep you energy comfortable and efficient.

To help your heating and cooling system run efficiently, install a radiant barrier in your attic. It blocks the heat from inside out, reducing the energy that's needed for your home to get cooled during the summer. If you do it right, you may be able to expand your living space into your attic.

Try looking for leaks in the ducts if your system isn't working right. Your utility company will usually test the unit for free or for a small fee. Paying for the test is fine as repairing the leaks will pay for itself quickly.

Make sure your HVAC is clear when working outside. You should try keeping any vegetation about two feet away from your outdoor units. Keep the areas above it and on each side of it clear. Make sure you aim your grass clippings away from the unit when mowing. Keep leaves from getting inside your unit in the fall.

When you are looking to buy a new air conditioner, consider your climate. Dry area, then an evaporative cooler will be your best bet, if you live in a hot. If you live in a humid area, opt for a compressor-style unit as it's the only one which will work.

Before you allow anyone to start doing work on your HVAC system, always ask for references. Call several of them to make sure that they are legitimate. Many people take the word of the contractor when it comes to customer satisfaction and that can prove to be a mistake in the end.

Before hiring an HVAC professional, learn the regulations and rules regarding insurance and licenses. This way you can check to make sure that any contractor you consider hiring meets any requirements. This can prevent a costly legal process, especially in case of an accident on site. Without insurance, you could be held liable for damages.

Any contractor that gives you a quote over the phone shouldn't be trusted. To truly evaluate your needs, they must come into your home and check it out basement to attic. There is no way they'll be able to keep them if they make promises without even seeing your house.

Make sure you wipe up any water that is close to the air intake of the vents of your HVAC system. Clean up any water that is standing around because water can cause mold to easily expand. If you're picking up water more than once every six months you might have a problem, so contact a HVAC technician, some water buildup is normal but.

Having windows and doors in place is essential to make sure your HVAC system runs well. Be sure their seal is tight so no exterior air gets in or interior air gets out. A professional can easily have this tested for you, and oftentimes, this service is free.

Never hire anyone to work on your HVAC system unless they are licensed and bonded. This industry is one where mistakes happen often and you want to make sure that you are protected. You do not want to be stuck paying for medical bills that are more expensive than the work you were having done.

Proper maintenance is key to having a good working HVAC system. Don't let your system go bad, use the tips here to inspect it for problems to ensure that you don't have costly repairs down the road. Keep checking it and remember the tips here to use as guide so you know what to look for.

facilities maintenance companies

Reposted bytaswyq taswyq

December 03 2015


Putin Calls for United Front Against Terror as He Lashes Turkey - Bloomberg

President Vladimir Putin called on the international community to form a joint front under the United Nations to defeat terrorism, as he lashed out at Turkey over the downing of a Russian warplane.

No single country can overcome terrorism by itself and each civilized state must make its contribution, Putin said Thursday in his annual state-of-the-nation address to parliament. He compared the fight against Islamic State to the struggle against Nazism, saying the battle against terrorism is a fight for justice in which Russia is playing its part.

He attacked Turkish leaders for the shooting down of the Russian jet on a bombing mission in Syria, saying only Allah knows why they did it. Turkey is making money from Islamic States illegal oil sales and Russia wont forget those who shot our pilots in the back, Putin said.

The president spoke after Russia imposed sanctions against Turkey for shooting down the Russian jet last month, the worst confrontation with a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization since the Cold War. Islamic State claimed responsibility for downing a Russian tourist plane in Egypt in October, killing 224. Putin has offered support to French President Francois Hollande, whos seeking to form an alliance with Russia and a U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State after last months attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

Putin began his presentation by asking for a moments silence to honor the memory of Russian servicemen killed in Syria, where Russia is conducting airstrikes in support of President Bashar al-Assad against Islamic State and other groups.

November 29 2015


Attorneys for Tamir Rice Family Want Own Experts to Testify - NBCNews.com

Upset over a series of experts' reports commissioned by Cleveland prosecutors that conclude the police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice was justified, attorneys for the boy's family released reports from its own experts that say deadly force shouldn't have been used.

"We think it is important that the grand jury be given the opportunity to consider the testimony and findings of true experts to explain why this killing was unjustified," attorneys for the Rice family say in a letter to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty dated Friday.

The attorneys want their experts to testify before a grand jury deciding whether to bring charges against the officer who shot Tamir. They called the reports that found the shooting justified "utterly biased and deeply flawed" and object to the use of experts' reports in the grand jury proceedings.

Tamir was shot by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann after he and another officer responded to a report of a man with a gun outside a recreation center on Nov. 22, 2014.

Related: Tamir Rice Shooting Was 'Reasonable,' Police Consultant Concludes

This combination of still images taken from a surveillance video and released Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office, shows Cleveland police officers arriving at Cudell Park on a report of a man with a gun. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann, Nov. 22, 2014, after he reportedly pulled a replica gun at the city park. AP

Loehmann shot Tamir within two seconds after arriving, surveillance video shows. Police have said Tamir was reaching for his waistband before he was shot. It turned out Tamir had an airsoft-type gun that resembled a real firearm, police said.

The Rice attorneys released reports from two former Southern California law enforcement officials and consultants who concluded the shooting was not justified.

Roger Clark, a consultant formerly with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, said the speed with which the video shows Loehmann firing indicates neither he nor the officer he was with, Frank Garmback, tried to deescalate the situation.

"There was no time in those 1.7 seconds for officers Loehmann or Garmback to have issued any intelligible commands to Tamir, much less for Tamir to respond to any commands," Clark said.

Related: One Year After Tamir Rice's Death, Case Drags On

Former Irvine, California, deputy police chief Jeffrey Noble said in his report that the officers made a reckless tactical decision by driving up to what they believed was an armed suspect normally officers would stop at a distance and use their car as cover to call out commands, he said.

"The officers' grossly reckless tactics placed Officer Loehmann in a position where he was within a few feet of Tamir," Noble wrote. "Any claim by Officer Loehmann that he had to make a split-second decision was a result of his and Officer Garmback['s] actions."

Garmback was driving, but Noble said Loehmann had a duty to object to what he called "reckless tactical decision making."

The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office commissioned the three previous reports and released them on its website in October and November. Those reports say the officers didn't know the airsoft gun wasn't a real firearm, and said the shooting was justified.

McGinty said he released the expert reports in the interest of transparency.

On Saturday, the prosecutor's office released more than 300 stills from a video enhancement showing the frame-by-frame sequence of events captured by surveillance cameras that recorded the shooting.

October 07 2015


Illinois Officer's Death Investigation Cost Tops $300,000

More than $300,000 has been spent on an investigation into the unsolved shooting death of a police lieutenant that sparked a massive manhunt in northern Illinois, according to a review of personnel records from 50 suburban Chicago police agencies.

About $196,000 of that total was related to overtime, according to an analysis by the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald ( http://bit.ly/1RtHXvy ).

The killing of Fox Lake Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz on Sept. 1 prompted a manhunt for three suspects, and authorities later confirmed Gliniewicz, 52, had been shot twice with his own weapon. But despite a month of detective work, police haven't made any arrests, identified any suspects or established a motive.

The county coroner has said he is unable to rule Gliniewicz's death a homicide, suicide or an accident.

The review found that 283 people from 50 suburban Chicago police departments and sheriff's offices either assisted in the investigation or covering shifts for others during the three weeks that followed the shooting, amounting to more than 5,700 hours of work.

The review found that departments with employees assigned to the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force had some of the highest costs. The Lake County Sheriff's Office sent 93 employees to help with the investigation at a cost of nearly $46,000 in overtime. Mundelein Village Manager John Lobaito, whose suburb spent about $23,000 of taxpayer funds, said it was worth it.

Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Chris Covelli said that once a major crimes task force investigation starts it's understood that individual departments will pick up the cost of the employees they send to work on it.

Information from: Daily Herald, http://www.dailyherald.com

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