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All Foxed Up; Only Two Minutes to Idle?; To Bee or Not to Bee; By the Numbers

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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

All Foxed Up

Don’t like that your guys forced a government shutdown to avoid the looming specter of widespread health care coverage? Well, if you’re Fox News, there’s an easy solution to all that unseemliness. “Shutdown” is just so negative. How about calling it something that, perversely, conjures images of health, sleekness and youth? How about dubbing it a “government slimdown”?

Fox has already shown its ultimate hand, asking if the “slimdown” reveals that we may not really need all those pesky federal agencies anyway. Slim indeed.

 

Only Two Minutes to Idle?

You may be surprised to hear that it’s against the law, or rather the regulations, to leave your vehicle idling in Massachusetts for more than five minutes, even to warm it up on a cold day. The rule, which carries fines ranging from $100 to $25,000 a day, is aimed chiefly at larger vehicles—in 2009 Boston-based Paul Revere Transportation was hit with a $650,000 fine by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state for letting its buses belch too long—but it covers cars as well. (Vehicles being repaired, unloading goods or powering another devices are exempt.)

Now before the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation is a bill that would cut the allowed idling time to two minutes. Energy experts say your car won’t be harmed by being turned off and then on again, and state officials say two minutes should be time enough to warm your jalopy up.

Yes, if you drive a Prius. But truckers, who need to idle in order to cool as well as warm their large rigs and are sometimes stuck at unloading docks with poorly managed traffic flows, are livid about idling laws. As one poster wrote in Truckers’ Report, “...these laws are NOT just popping up in the East Coast but are rearing their ugly head all over the U.S. We all can empathize with a driver who gets a $25,000 ticket for trying to stay warm in Connecticut in 10 degree temps.” A Colorado idling law that carries a possible penalty of a year in jail led another poster to fulminate, “It takes 10 min JUST to warm a truck up, you rocket scientist! A year in prison? Well I guess we’d stay warm then & even have cable!”

 

To Bee or Not to Bee

How far-reaching are the effects of colony collapse disorder, the mysterious disease that’s wiped out an estimated 10 million bee colonies since 2006?

According to a 2010 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, of the roughly 100 crops that provide 90 percent of the world’s food supply, 71 rely on bees for pollination. “Pollination is vital to our ecosystems and to human societies,” the UN report said. “The health and wellbeing of pollinating insects are crucial to life, be it in sustaining natural habitats or contributing to local and global economies.” 

On Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., the Amherst Cinema will screen More Than Honey, a 2012 documentary by filmmaker Martin Imhoof that looks at the possible causes and implications of the loss of so many bee colonies. “Without bees, there is no pollinization (sic), and fruits and vegetables could disappear from the face of the Earth,” the movie’s promo materials note. “Apis mellifera (the honey bee), which appeared on Earth 60 million years before man … is as indispensable to the economy as it is to man’s survival.”

The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with beekeeper Dan Conlon,  co-owner of Warm Colors Apiary in South Deerfield, and Ben Clark, a fourth-generation farmer at Deerfield’s Clarkdale Fruit Farms. The event is co-sponsored by Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, or CISA; for more information, go towww.buylocalfood.org/events or www.amherstcinema.org.

 

By the Numbers

$2.5 million: The cost to Massachusetts for each day the government shutdown closes national parks. According to ClimateProgress, Massachusetts is tenth of the top 10 states who will lose money because the National Park Service is closed.

 

Worth Quoting

“Two years ago, [Helene Florio, president of the Holyoke Taxpayer Association and a leader in the city’s charter reform campaign] led the effort to make Mayor Alex Morse the ‘czar’ of Holyoke and to destroy the checks and balances in our city government. I exposed her expensive, foolhardy and reckless proposal for what it was and the people of Holyoke convincingly rejected her proposal. Then, with clipboard in hand, she vowed to put it back on the ballot this November. In the end she turned in zero signatures. Now she has cooked up a new scheme to go around the citizenry: have the City Council pass her charter changes on their own because she cannot get the signatures. According to state law and in my view, it is clear that the Council cannot pass her proposals. Moreover, it is clearly illegal for the Council to put binding questions on the ballot.”

—Kevin Jourdain, president of the Holyoke City Council, in a recent letter to the Springfield Republican

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