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UK Crematorium looking to cash in on death gas

Photo courtesy rtseablog.blogspot.com

Talk about looking in all the wrong places.

According to Mother Jones, a crematorium in the United Kingdom is looking in to using the gasses that are used for cremation to produce energy.

The Durham Crematorium plans to install turbines in two of its burners which will use the heat generated during cremation to create nearly enough energy to power 1,500 TVs, the Telegraph reports.

“If there is genuine spare capacity to generate electricity then we are certainly interested in investigating that [and] if it was thought to be acceptable in the eyes of the public we would almost certainly pursue that,” Alan José, superintendent at Durham Crematorium, said in an interview with the Telegraph. “Apart from it being common sense for us to try to conserve energy, it also enables us to keep the fees down…We don’t want to become known as a power station rather than a crematorium because we try to provide a reverend and decent place for people to have a cremation service.”

It’s all part of its $3.6 million furnace replacement project and it plans to sell off the power generated to the UK’s National Grid. It would keep a third of the energy generated to heat its own offices and chapel.

Many crematoria in the United Kingdom are updating their furnace programs to meet new government standards on the amount of mercury the emit. According to the Telegraph, up to 16 percent of mercury emissions in the United Kingdom actually come from crematoria because of fillings in teeth (insert British dental humor here.)

In a suffering world economy, and in a nation where more than 70 percent of dead bodies are cremated, it may not be a bad idea to put that unholy gas to good work.

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UAlbany gets paid to play superior opponents

UAlbany vs. Pittsburgh

Photo Courtesy The Troy Record

The Great Danes of the University at Albany traveled to Pittsburgh on Nov. 11 to take on the defending Big East champions, the Pittsburgh Panthers. While the school typically opens the season against a lesser opponent, the players and coaches were excited to test their skills against one of the nation’s best teams. But despite their best efforts, UAlbany was pummeled 89-56.

This didn’t surprise the heads in the second floor office level of UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena because the school was paid nearly $100,000 to lose that game.

UAlbany’s $100,000 contract with Pittsburgh was hardly a large one compared to what other schools have been paid in the past. In 2009, the Michigan Wolverines football program paid $550,000 to Delaware State in exchange for allowing them to beat down on them for 60 minutes.

Money games are hardly anything new in the arena of college sports nor are they anything new at UAlbany. In the early part of last decade, when UAlbany’s Division I program was first getting its legs, the university signed a contract with Syracuse University in which Syracuse agreed to play one game at the Times Union Center if UAlbany agreed to play a few games at the Carrier Dome plus some extra cash.

“Obviously it helps to support the overall operations of our programs,”said Associate Athletic Director Rick Coe.

Coe pointed out that while the largest contracts come from the men’s basketball and football programs, other sports also play in these “guarantee” games. Sometimes UAlbany doesn’t turn a profit, the school they go to will simply cover travel and lodging expenses.

But don’t expect to see the Orange or any similarly skilled team to show up at SEFCU Arena anytime soon.

“Most of those type of institutions, they’re not going to come here and play us for fear they don’t want to lose a game,” said Coe. “They don’t want to play an away game that’s not going to be of significance for them with the opportunity that there could be a loss.”

UAlbany will play in another guarantee game Dec. 28 against Maryland.

Even out of office, New York lawmakers still spending cash

Former Senator Vincent Leibell heads into court to find out his sentencing.

Photo Credit Politics on the Hudson, LoHud

In December, former Buffalo Sen. Antoine Thompson spent $750 at a TGI Friday’s from his campaign account.

The Senate committee for disgraced Sen. Vincent Leibell, R-Patterson, Putnam County, spent $931 on tires in November and $267 on two trips to Barnes & Noble in Danbury, Conn., late last year. His Senate committee had just $1,882 left as of last month.

And former Assemblyman David Koon, D-Perinton, Monroe County, treated his outgoing staff to a steak dinner at an upscale Pittsford steakhouse at a cost of $504 through his campaign.

The lawmakers all lost on Election Day last November, but they continued to dip into their campaign accounts for meals, expenses and even $10,000 for a car, a review of campaign-finance records shows.

And it’s legal.

State law allows ex-elected officials to continue to use their campaign funds even if they are out of office, and the law is so vague that there are few limits on how they can spend the money, watchdog groups said.

“Right now it’s to help out a few organizations and contemplate what I’ll do politically in the future,” Thompson, a Democrat who lost to Republican Mark Grisanti, said of his leftover money.

He said he has not yet made contributions to any organization with the nearly $4,000 left in his account, but he has helped fund his weekly radio show on WUFO in Buffalo with $600 of it.

Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said ex-lawmakers should be required to give their campaign donations back to donors or to charity.

“Campaign contributions were given to be used in the campaign,” he said.

“There’s always a chance,” he said about the possibility for reform in the campaign-finance law. “But lawmakers are reluctant to give up their war chest.” Read more…

Madness ensues as Black Friday gets earliest start ever

The Black Friday buy-fest wouldn’t be complete without the customary incidents of violence and destruction – and this year didn’t disappoint.

Reports surfaced from across the nation of people rioting for things like $2 waffle makers and others pepper spraying fellow shoppers to deter them from buying the goods they wanted.

Here’s a collection of a few of the more prolific incidents that took place across the country:

Black Friday sales may not be what they seem

Shoppers rush to get the famous Black Friday deals

Photo Courtesy Radionowindy.com

“Black Friday” has earned a reputation as America’s national day of unabashed consumerism, and this year’s sales numbers were higher than ever before.

According to the National Retail Federation, sales spiked up from $365.34 to $398.62 from last year’s biggest shopping weekend, with an additional 14 million shoppers joining in on the late-night madness, up to 226 million from 212 million.

But numbers can be deceiving. This year many of the country’s largest retailers opened their doors at midnight rather than the typical 5 a.m. opening times from last year.

That’s 30 percent more time to shop leading to just a 7 percent increase in sales.

“The appetite for these early openings is only getting stronger among holiday shoppers, and retailers did a great job providing Americans just what they wanted this weekend – the ability to shop on Black Friday without having to get out of bed before dawn,” said BIGresearch Executive Vice President Phil Rist. “Consumers are clearly demonstrating their desire to spend this holiday season, and shopping early and often seem to be their new mantra as they seek the best value for all their holiday purchases.”

Black Friday shows its dark side

According to the NRF, 24.4 percent of shoppers were at stores by midnight, either waiting for them to open or at a retailer that opened on the eve of Thanksgiving. That’s up from 9.5 percent last year and 3.3 percent in 2009.

Trusting reports of a 7 percent increase in sales is also questionable. As TheStreet.com points out, many statistical analyses fail to adjust for inflation, rendering them “utterly useless.”

What this means for the overall economic outlook is that things aren’t as good as they seem. TheStreet.com along with other reputable market-watch sites have questioned the integrity of the tools used to gauge the increase in sales traffic because they were designed to measure foot traffic.

Historically, Black Friday sales have been greatly over exaggerated by retailers and the media, sometimes because of faulty data, but often also because it provides a glimmer of hope during an otherwise dismal economic period.

“Occupy” movements losing sight of the goal

An Occupy Protestor gets carried away by the police.

Photo Courtesy ABC News

When I first started following the Occupy movements around the country, I thought they had a noble goal even though they wouldn’t admit to having one.

I thought that causing a scene and making mainstream media, businessmen and politicians start talking about the underlying problems of America’s dire economic situation was a nice change of pace.

I thought not allowing the network talking heads to drive the conversation on what was important for our country was noble.

But now that message is slowly fading into the recesses of a movement that had the potential to steamroll what has become the conventional American political narrative.

Recently, police forces around the country have begun to physically take control of the various demonstrations and tent towns that are propping up nationwide. And protestors, rightfully so, have been resisting and getting arrested because of it.

Changing the conversation has been the goal of those most affected by these movements from the beginning. With all these arrests and beatings and early morning attacks, the conversation has taken a turn from how big business is crushing the mom and pop store and how the richest 1 percent of the country control a vastly incomparable amount of the wealth compared to the rest of the country to a conversation about police brutality and the right to peaceful protest.

These causes are just and ought to be defended, but that can’t be what this movement becomes, because that’s just what “the 1 percent” wants.

It seems now that protestors have focused more on how to get arrested rather than how to spread their message. What’s sad is that they think that getting arrested helps to send their message and makes it stronger.

It doesn’t.

During the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, black protestors would sit-in at white-only lunch counters and refuse to be removed until the police came and carried them away in handcuffs. Their message was intensified by getting arrested because the cops were arresting them on the basis of the very injustice they were fighting against.

Occupy protestors didn’t first set up their tents in Zuccotti Park to speak out against the injustices of the government stifling peaceful protest, they set out to show the injustice of American economic disparity.

In the video below, students at CUNY Baruch are attempting to gain access to some building for some reason…the details aren’t clear and I haven’t read anything about it. But the point is if you look, about 10 percent of the people there are actually actively involved in protest, carrying signs and chanting.

The rest of the crowd is simply there to capture the moment so they can tweet it out and post it to Facebook for their friends to see.

“The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching.”

That is the most prevalent chant in the video and that is the rotten core of these protests. They want the world to watch, but not to spread a message – they want to get more hits on their YouTube page.

A popular phrase has been “the revolution will be televised.” Well if anything is going to get done, the revolutionaries ought to leave the filming part to the professionals and just worry about carrying on their message.

For this movement to be successful, and it already has been wildly so, the occupiers need a little less Terminator and a little more John Galt. A bit more subtlety before leading up to the big bang.

If the revolution is going to be televised, it has to be because you earned it, not because it’s easy for a news camera to capture a cop cracking a student across the ribs.

So Occupiers, I get what you’re doing, but you can’t lose sight of it for yourselves. Don’t let the government change the narrative of your movement. Turn the conversation back to where it started and act like the