The Las Vegas Cyclery Saves Money the Old Fashioned Way: Innovation

Las Vegas has more green buildings per capita than any city in the United States, with the only close competitor being Washington, D.C., where sustainability minded laws and regulations are more prevalent than anywhere else in the country.LV Cyclery LEED 2013 2

Las Vegas has taken the lead in the realm of private innovation, with the Strip’s Casinos and the all new Downtown taking center stage. Yet, in the face of billion dollar projects and world renowned enterprises, according to LVC tour guide Aaron Barborka, the first net-zero-energy and LEED Platinum Certified building in the country, is the Las Vegas Cyclery (LVC).

No other property in the city, and apparently in the country, has so adhered to the “Triple Bottom Line” philosophy of “People, Planet, Profits,” perhaps even prioritizing profits below the “people and places” aspects.

The Las Vegas Cyclery has tied their success tighter with the environmental mindset than most could imagine. The designers covered their alternative transportation concerns by selecting a location adjacent to a bus stop, prioritizing parking for carpoolers, and sustainable vehicles, even installing an electric-car charging station.

Continue reading

The U.S. and China, Saving the World with Super Powers

Obama1Washington, D.C. – President Barack Obama and Chinese Prime Minister Xi Jinping announced, on Wednesday, an unprecedented agreement between the world’s leading carbon emitters, promising tighter regulations on waste and emissions, as well as investments in renewable energy.

According to the White House, Mr. Obama promised that the United States will cut carbon emissions down to 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, twice the pace of current plans aimed through 2020. The new goals fall in line with the long term plans to reduce carbon deduction by 80% for the year 2050.

Mr. Jinping pledged that China would reach its peak carbon emissions in the year 2030, with the intention of peaking early, and thereafter keeping its levels at or below that ceiling. The Chinese also agreed to increase the country’s capacity of renewable energy by 800 to 1,000 gigawatts, more than double current levels and increasing non-fossil fuel share of energy production up to 20% of the total.

The White House has stated that the agreement between the world foremost two polluters lays the groundwork for real progress to be made next year at the 2015 Conference of the Parties on Climate Change, the 21st such conference revisiting the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate (U.N. FCCC) Change, which was adopted in 1992.

Continue reading

The EPA and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Finally in the Game

In the United States’ recent history, republican administrations have not been the best friends of the environment, but that was not always the case. Decades ago the quality of the ecosystem was much less of a partisan issue, recognized as a necessity for all citizens, and it was actually President Richard Nixon that proposed the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA was established shortly thereafter on December 2, 1970, yet. Since its inception the agency has done a lot to protect many aspects of our environment from waste and pollution, including the air we breathe, under the Clean Air Act, signed into law the same year. But it wasn’t until January 2, 2011, that the EPA first began regulating Greenhouse Gasses (GHG).

The road to our new protections was a long and hard fought one, at first fought against the EPA itself. On October 20, 1999 the International Center for Technology Assessment petitioned the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases emitted by new motor vehicles in order to reduce the effects of global warming. The agency, however initially declined to take action on the petition, claiming not to have the authority to act on climate change, as the issue did not fall under its traditional powers to regulate emissions directly harmful to humans.

Furthermore the agency went on to explain that even if it were within their power to act on the petition they would not do so, for two reasons: the first being that to do so would not be effective in combatting global warming. The second, and more troubling reason, was that such action would go against the Bush administration’s policies, which aimed at further investigation into the legitimacy of the climate change issue and its causes, as well as encouraging efforts by private parties such as voluntary reductions and technological advances. EPA Logo

On April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court found, in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), that GHGs, are air pollutants covered by the CAA. The Court found that the “EPA was required to determine whether or not emissions of GHGs from new motor vehicles cause or contribute to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” So under pressure from the courts the agency began the investigative process they had been putting off for nearly a decade.

Almost exactly two years later, in April 2009 under the new democratic presidential administration, the EPA proposed a finding that greenhouse gasses do in fact contribute to air pollution that may threaten public health. In early December of that year the Administrator signed two findings on GHG, under section 202 of the CAA: Continue reading

If You Can’t Turn a Profit, You Must be in Div. I College Sports

CollegeSportsIn December of 2011, The Chronicle of Higher Education produced a series of articles entitled “What the Hell Has Happened to College Sports?” The publication gathered eight experts, a collection of former athletes, educators and sports writers, and asked them the title question about the state of major athletics in higher education and what they would suggest to fix the problems that currently stain the reputation of the NCAA and its members.

In his contribution “Bust the Amateur Myth,” Frank Deford, a sports journalist who has written for Sports Illustrated and other notable sports news outlets, contends that the amateur model is an “indefensible, antiquated system,” that cannot succeed. His solution is to end it and move towards a professional way of doing things that sees the players paid for their efforts.  C Thomas McMillen, a former college and professional basketball player who has also served in Congress and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, does not feel the ideals of the amateur system need to be abandoned so recklessly. In his piece, “Eliminate the Profit Motive,” McMillen admits the NCAA is facing a tough road, but sees the possibility of saving college athletics not by giving more money to the students, but by seeing less of it in the hands of a few powerful schools and individuals.

Deford states that college football and basketball players are the only premier athletes in the world “denied payment for their services in sports where significant sums of money are involved.” He points out that the inevitable corruption of a system wherein large sums of “money is mixed with forced pro-bono performing,” has been recognized by organizations across the world, from tennis to rugby to the Olympics. Nowhere else has it been condoned and allowed to survive. He points out that while the student athletes work for free, coaches are paid multi-million dollar contracts and scores of others, from journalists to apparel companies, make plenty of money off the work of these young adults.

Continue reading

Pimpin’ Aint Easy, But it Pays the Bills

CocaineBrooklyn is a prostitute who frequents the bars in the downtown scene on a regular basis, always with a different man on her arm. She is young and brunette, speaks with a distinct New York accent and generally has a smile on her face. But she did not feel comfortable giving an interview. She wasn’t sure her man would like it and she wasn’t sure she’d be comfortable being quoted. So she pointed the way to her pimp “Downtown Brown.”

I met Brown at his condo Friday afternoon. Tall, skinny and muscular at age 37, he met me at the door in a pair of slacks, a tank top undershirt and a do-rag on his head. He welcomed me, told me that Brooklyn had said I was nice and he’d be happy to talk to me for a while. On the counter stacks of twenties stand beside a toaster and a pile of cocaine. We sat across from one another at his kitchen table and talked: first, for a few minutes, about my bar and how long I’d been bartending, before moving into my time at UNLV and his time at college at Fresno State.

Brown came from Minneapolis Minnesota and spent some time in Georgia as well. He went to college in Fresno on a basketball scholarship. He was successful and enjoyed it but in school he was injured and did not garner enough attention to get drafted to the NBA. Instead Brown pursued his dream in the less fashionable way, playing briefly in Japan, before joining the Las Vegas Rattlers, now known as the Aces, of the American Basketball Association.

It was a way to live his dream, but the pay was not good and he lived in a city that whose nightlife demanded attention and a better paycheck. Growing up hustling had always been around Brown’s life. His uncle Billy lived down the block and had been pimping as long as he could remember. His cousin across the street was known as the Prince of Darkness.

Continue reading

Climate Changing Priorities – Editorial

windmill and plantIf you watch the news, it is difficult to identify a single problem facing the United States to name as the most dire, as our around the clock news cycle bombards viewers with crisis after crisis, it seems to be a litany of woes.

Some would say it is the quagmire that is the Affordable Care Act, others would say the Tea Party’s obstructionism or the tragically frequent gun violence in the, while many would argue there is nothing hurting our country more than the ever widening wealth gap. While these concerns certainly carry their fair share of problems, no issue threatens the future of the U.S., and every other nation, more than the connected damages of rampant over consumption and climate change.

The last decade has produced nine of the ten hottest years on record leading to severe droughts that have led to near constant forest fire threats across the southwest, especially in California, dwindling harvests in the heartland and devastated fish populations across the country. Changing weather patterns have led to unprecedented natural disaster damage across the Northeast and a mind boggling stream of storms disrupting travel and commerce on a regular basis.

Continue reading

Viva Las Loathing

IMG_1125It’s shortly after 9 p.m. Monday when we pull into the Circus Circus parking garage. I’m three beers in and four shots to the wind, glad not to be driving. My girlfriend and I watched the football game at our bar a few blocks away and indulged in a goodly number of adult libations. I figured that for a school assignment, it would likely be deemed inappropriate were I to get into a Raoul Duke state of mind, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to walk in Thompson’s footsteps sober.

We parked on the bottom floor of the abandoned lot, only steps from the door. “This place is dead as disco,” Chrystal said skeptically as she flicked the totally legal, doctor prescribed marijuana cigarette away from the car. “I mean, I know it’s a Monday, but really? This is depressing.”

She was right, there were few people to be seen as we walked through the glass doors into the lobby. “Don’t worry,” I assured her confidently as I held the door like a damn gentleman. “It’ll be great, I just have to find the Carousel bar real fast, that and the American Dream.”

Continue reading

All Sides Report Obama Will Find Support to Punish Assad, Most Don’t Seem to Mind

Obama v Assad 

Secretary of State John Kerry appeared before Congress Tuesday to pitch the White House’s case for military action against Syria. Coverage of the discussions on the floor in congress have led the front page of the website of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, the Daily Beast and Fox News.

In the wake of the murder of over 1,400 Syrian civilians by sarin gas, President Obama and his staff have been pushing for consensus support in punishing the nation’s president, Assad, and his military capabilities for the war crimes committed against their own people. It seems, according to each web site, that Mr. Obama is likely to be granted 90 days to conduct military operations as well as a an option for congress to allow an extra 30 days if needed to accomplish military objectives.

After initially reading proffered by the New York Times I moved on to the Wall Street Journal, the flag ship paper of Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch. One might expect such an entity to subscribe to a position contrary to the Time’s report of support from all sides of the President’s request. But such was not the case.

According to the Journal, though Kerry spent hours in front of congress fielding questions from both parties, he left with support from many Republicans and Democrats alike.

Continue reading

Alicia Shepard, UNLV’s 2013 Guest Professor Makes a Difference in Student’s Lives, Sets Example with Her Own.

Alicia Shepard

“I never worked on the high school newspaper, never worked on the college paper, I was lucky the guy that I worked for saw something in me … basically I’m very nosy.”

Alicia Shepard’s career in journalism took her by surprise, then led her across the country and halfway around the world. She wrote for a number of years for “American Journalism Review” and has contributed to the “New York Times,” “The Washington Post” and the “Chicago Tribune.”

Shepard served as the public editor for “National Public Radio,” and has taught journalism across the nation. In 2012 she joined the UNLV Greenspun School of Journalism as a guest professor, bringing the school the instant credibility of a nationally renowned media figure.

In her undergraduate studies at George Washington University, Shepard focused neither on journalism nor communications, instead majoring in English and minoring in biology. “I always thought I wanted to be a high school English teacher,” she confessed.  Her senior year however, fate intervened. “I needed a part time job and I saw there was a news bureau the needed an assistant,” Shepard remembers. “I had no interest or knowledge of journalism other than getting the newspaper every morning at home.”

But she was in the door. “It was at a place called ‘Scripts League Newspaper’, a small family owned chain that had papers all over the country.” Once there she learned the ropes as she was taught to rewrite press releases and do smaller stories. “I had an aptitude for it and I liked it and he offered me a job when I graduated. I thought what the heck I’ll do it for a year. And of course I loved it.”

Continue reading