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Sanders focuses on Vermont jobs in keynote speech at energy conference

first_imgUS Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) delivered the keynote address Tuesday at a conference on a cutting-edge Vermont initiative to improve energy efficiency, save consumers money and create good-paying jobs.Vermont was awarded $69 million in federal funds in 2009 to match an equal investment by the state’s utilities to develop a more efficient and more reliable electric system. The so-called smart-grid project will make Vermont the first state in the nation to provide high-tech meters in virtually all businesses and homes. By 2013, real-time information on energy consumption will let consumers make smarter choices.Sanders spoke at the conference hosted by the University of Vermont and Sandia National Laboratory, a world leader in energy research working with the state on implementation of the smart grid.‘I am excited about the partnership with the Sandia National Lab because of what that partnership can do to not only make us a leader in energy efficiency and sustainable energy but also in the process to create good-paying jobs for Vermonters,’ Sanders said afterward.A member of the Senate energy committee, Sanders has been instrumental in persuading the New Mexico-based national energy lab to open a New England satellite center at the University of Vermont.‘This is a big deal. We have before us an extraordinary opportunity â ¦ to be a leader for the nation,’ Sanders told the conference. ‘If we can pull off half of what I think we can, this will be a significant step forward.’A new Sandia-Vermont Center for Excellence would conduct advanced research that will bring the nation closer to energy self-sufficiency, increase energy efficiency, and develop a new green economy. This partnership will work with businesses and academic researchers to develop new technologies, new policies and new procedures.‘What Vermont offers Sandia, the Department of Energy, and the nation is a real-world model for this new research and technology,’ Sanders said.‘Over the long-term, this center will help create jobs and new educational opportunities for Vermont students and workers. It will make Vermont’s and America’s businesses more competitive both in the new technologies of the smart grid and locally distributed sustainable energy.’  Source: Sanders’ office. BURLINGTON, Vt., May 17, 2011last_img read more

Top Ten List of Things I Wish I Had Known About College Admissions

first_imgSpring at last! Seniors have agonized over essay topics, ranted about the Collegeboard, visited the Common Application website far too many times, and finally made it through college applications. As I sent off my last Admissions Office-destined envelope, hindsight (and a dose of should have, could have, would haves) hit me straight on. Here is my Top Ten List of Things I Wish I Had Known About College Admissions.Keep a list of every book that you read: Some college applications will ask you for a list of books that you’ve read in the last 12 months, while others ask you to write about characters in literature that intrigued you or made you think. I somehow imagined that I would be able to remember all the books I read over the past four years. Learn from my mistake!Community Service: Service is a chance for you to give back to the community, helps you grow as a person, and keep things in perspective. If you need a more direct incentive, 90 hours of service are necessary to enter the National Honor Society (quiet a few of my fellow seniors this year didn’t qualify solely because of this requirement). Many upperclassmen regret not doing more community service early on in high school. Key tips: Choose one major community service project or club and stick with it throughout high school. If you don’t have time … make it! Log your service hours in a notebook (or on an online site like https://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov ), getting phone numbers and signatures of adult supervisors whenever you can (this is also required for National Honor Society and can be helpful in applying for scholarships). If you log at least 100 community service hours, you’ll also be eligible for the President’s Volunteer Service Award — another excellent opportunity.Quality Not Quantity: Choose two or three clubs or activities and put in time and effort into them. Ninth grade is a great chance to try out many different clubs, but once you’re in tenth grade, don’t fall into the trap of trying to attend every club under the sun. This will sap you of energy and make you less eligible for leadership positions in the long run. The opposite extreme can be just as bad. Categorizing yourself as the “non-involved” type could come back to haunt you when you have to fill up nearly a half page on your favorite club on the common application. Lately, the school newspaper, Model UN, student government, debate, and community service clubs have been favorites with colleges and universities, since they show a student has leadership potential. Getting involved in a unique sport or instrument can help you stand out among other students. Instead of just tennis or track, try crew or fencing. And rather than signing up for piano or violin lessons, try the harp or sitar. I have a close friend who attributes his admission to Yale to his playing the bagpipes!College nights and college info sessions can be distractions: Talking with students at colleges (alumni from your school for starters) and doing research on the school’s website can be a lot more useful than info-nights. If you do choose to go to a local college night, make a list of schools to look into with your guidance counselor beforehand. But, if you already have a definite list of schools that you are set on applying to, college night can just be an intimidating and awkward use of time, where you sign up for mailing lists you could have signed up for online. Sign-up early on; after you read mailings, you’ll be more prepared to ask questions on college visits or even at your interview. However, at many town or high-school college nights, Ivy League schools send alumni instead of actual admissions representatives. I was pretty shocked to see my next door neighbor instead of an admissions official at the Stanford University table. So if you are hoping to make an impression on admissions, college night is probably not the place to do it.Visits: Visit schools in the spring of junior year. If you go earlier, you’ll quickly forget what the school was like. During summer, classes won’t be in session, so you won’t get a true flavor of the campus. And senior year fall is already filled with so much that you won’t want to pack in college visits. After the visit, write a quick index card (some of my friends used a postcard from the college) of your most memorable experiences and things you liked and disliked. This will come in useful when you are writing “Why (fill in college name here)” application essays on what inspired you to apply. The cards are also lifesavers when you are deciding between which schools to apply or to attend. Be careful of overnight visits. These are best saved for when you make the key decision on the early decision school you decide to apply to, or when you have already gotten into schools and are trying to select the one to attend. If you overnight in other situations, you risk getting your hopes up even higher if you absolutely love your visit.Beware of false lures: While being in the “Who’s Who” book may be a bit of an ego boost, it’s not really worth it (read: it’s a money-making scheme). The college admissions process is difficult and plenty of people try to take advantage of your confusion. Trust a girl who has sat through one too many slide shows with “college-admission professionals” trying to push their product. The best advisor in this process is often a trusted teacher, an experienced guidance counselor, or your high school’s college or career center staff.Instead of camp, consider getting a summer job: College applications have an entire section asking you about your employment during high school and the rule of thumb is to leave as few boxes on the application blank as possible. And yet, students are increasingly spending their summers on extremely expensive summer adventure or college-prep camps. Pre-college camps, specifically, are often a major waste of money. Parents, students spend almost no time in class at these camps! And students, while it is nice to dream, going to a college’s camp often does not give you an edge in getting into the school! A summer job can teach you so much and earn you income (instead of dishing out a six-figure camp fee!). Also, a summer job can provide you with much more of a self-esteem boost, build up your street-smarts skills and show colleges your responsibility.Essays: Start off with making a list of qualities about yourself that you would like to show colleges and then think of examples and experiences that would back up these qualities. This approach will make sure that you cover your major traits and that your college essay is meaningful. Check for spelling errors many (many) times, and with the help of others, especially when you are submitting online. I definitely lost sleep over my misspelling “awarness”!The Interview: Plan out the key attributes about yourself that you were not able to communicate in your application. Also, have a couple of questions ready to ask your interviewer (eg. What was their personal experience like at the college? What surprised them most about the college?) A “Thank you” note to your interviewer sent within a day or so of your interview is definitely recommended. The note leaves a nice impression of you as they sit down to write their recommendation, which the admissions committee will read in evaluating your application.Passion: All this said, the best advice I have to offer is to avoid thinking too much about what might look good on your college application and just to be passionate about what you do! Related Itemslast_img read more

First Edition August 1 2014

first_imgToday’s headlines include more questions about how healthcare.gov will function during the next open enrollment period. Kaiser Health News: Florida’s Largest Health Insurer Is Raising Exchange Rates An Average Of 17.6 PercentKaiser Health News staff writer Phil Galewitz reports: “Florida Blue, the state’s largest health insurer, is increasing premiums by an average of 17.6 percent for its Affordable Care Act exchange plans next year, company officials say. The nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield affiliate blames higher health costs as a result of attracting older adults this year who previously lacked coverage and are using more services than expected” (Galewitz, 8/1). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Good News On California ACA Rates. But Why?KQED’s Lisa Aliferis, working in partnership with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: “Covered California’s executive director and other analysts pointed to specific factors for this moderate increase. For starters, enrollment was very strong in 2014, more than a million people. In addition, healthy people signed up, spreading the risk. But the state’s insurance commissioner, Dave Jones, sees a different force in play. He believes that a statewide ballot measure, Proposition 45, has insurers scared” (Aliferis, 8/1). Read the story.Kaiser Health News: Health On The Hill: House Panel Focuses ‘Microscope’ On Marketplace Open EnrollmentHouse members examined concerns raised in a GAO report about the healthcare.gov website during a subcommittee hearing Thursday. Kaiser Health News’ Mary Agnes Carey and CQ Roll Call’s Melissa Attias discuss the action (7/31). Listen to the audio or read the transcript.Kaiser Health News: A Reader Asks: With Job-Based Coverage, Can I Still Qualify For Cost-Sharing SubsidiesKaiser Health News’ consumer columnist Michelle Andrews explains that if the insurance offered through an employer is considered affordable, you can’t qualify for the health law’s program to provide financial help to cover costs such as deductibles and co-payments (8/1). Read her response.Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Unfavorable Views Of Health Law Spike In July: Poll; Covered California Rates Up Modest 4.2 PercentNow on Kaiser Health News’ blog, Jordan Rau reports on new poll findings: “The health law’s unpopularity among the public rose sharply in July with a surge of disapproval from people who had been agnostic about it in recent months, a poll released Friday shows. The law is as unpopular as it has been since it was enacted four years ago” (Rau, 8/1). Also on the blog, Capital Public Radio’s Pauline Bartolone reports on Covered California’s rates: “Covered California says health care premiums will go up modestly for most people buying coverage on the state exchange next year by an average of 4.2 percent” (Bartolone, 8/1). Check out what else is on the blog.The New York Times: Work To Bolster Health Website Is Raising Cost, Officials SayObama administration officials said Thursday that the cost of the federal health insurance exchange was growing because they were assigning new work to contractors in an effort to prevent a repetition of the problems that crippled HealthCare.gov last fall. Andrew M. Slavitt, the No. 2 official at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told Congress that the agency was changing requirements for its contracts to expand the scope of work that must be done (Pear, 7/31). Politico: Questions Linger About Obamacare Website, Year 2HealthCare.gov is expected to enroll millions of new people in Obamacare this fall and re-enroll millions more who signed up the first time around. It’s likely a more demanding task than the one that it buckled under last year. Will it be up to the task? (Norman and Haberkorn, 7/31). Los Angeles Times: Obamacare Premiums To Rise A Modest 4.2% In 2015Defying an industry trend of double-digit rate hikes, California officials said the more than 1.2 million consumers in the state-run Obamacare insurance exchange can expect modest price increases of 4.2% on average next year. On Thursday, Covered California announced the results of its negotiations with Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente and other major insurers, an important yardstick for President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (Pfeifer, Terhune and Karlamangla, 7/31).The Wall Street Journal: California Sees Health-Law Premiums Rising 4.2% In 2015Premiums for health-law plans in California will go up 4.2% on average next year, an increase that the state’s insurance marketplace said was limited partly due to the large and relatively healthy pool of enrollees it had attracted. Nationally, 2015 rate changes for plans sold through marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act will vary widely, with a mix of increases and some declines. But California is seen as a bellwether. According to federal statistics released May 1, the state had about 1.4 million of the 8 million total people who selected a marketplace plan during the open-enrollment period for 2014 coverage (Wilde Mathews, 7/31).Los Angeles Times: Lawyers Challenging Health Subsidies Seek Quick Supreme Court RulingLawyers challenging President Obama’s healthcare law filed a quick appeal with the Supreme Court on Thursday, urging justices to take up the issue this fall and throw out insurance subsidies for nearly 5 million Americans. “The monumental significance of this legal issue requires the court’s immediate, urgent attention,” they said in a filing. “The longer the lawless IRS rule is in effect, the greater the upheaval when it is ultimately vacated” (Savage, 7/31). The Wall Street Journal: Health-Law Opponents Seek Supreme Court ReviewOpponents of health-insurance subsidies tied to the Affordable Care Act moved quickly Thursday to get an appeal in front of the Supreme Court. The challengers, Virginia residents who objected to the subsidies, filed a petition with the high court just nine days after the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., upheld an Obama administration regulation that said subsidized insurance was available to qualifying consumers nationwide. That appeals court decision was one of two issued on the same day in mid-July that reached conflicting conclusions on the legality of the administration’s approach. A federal appeals court in Washington ruled against the government, siding with a different group of challengers who argued language in the 2010 health-care law prohibited subsidies for those who buy insurance on a federal exchange, instead of one run by a state (Kendall, 7/31). Politico: Supreme Court Asked To Hear Obamacare Subsidies CaseThe four Virginians whose challenge to Obamacare subsidies suffered a defeat last week are now asking the Supreme Court to hear the case. Their lawsuit was dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which ruled that the Obama administration can legally award the subsidies through federally run insurance exchanges — not just those run by the states themselves. The individuals behind King v. Burwell say the subsidies are being improperly awarded through Virginia’s federally run exchange (Winfield Cunningham, 7/31). The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog: A Primer On Boehner V. ObamaThe House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 225-201 to authorize Republican Speaker John Boehner to bring a lawsuit against the Obama administration accusing the president of overstepping his legal authority. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the unprecedented constitutional battle unfolding in Washington (Gershman, 7/31). The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: Suddenly, Obamacare Is More Unpopular Than EverEven after survey after survey has recently shown a major drop in the nation’s uninsured rate, Obamacare just had its worst month in a key health-care poll. Kaiser Family Foundation, which has done arguably the best and most consistent polling on the health-care law in the past four-plus years, found that public opinion on the law sank to a record low in July. More people than ever (53 percent) last month said they viewed the law unfavorably, an increase of 8 percentage points since June — one of the biggest opinion swings ever (Millman, 8/1). NPR: Congress Approves $16.3 Billion VA Health Care BillWith a 91-3 vote in the Senate Thursday, Congress has passed a massive $16.3 billion bill to address problems with health care for veterans and other problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill now moves forward to the White House for President Obama’s signature. The House voted overwhelmingly to approve the bill on Wednesday (Mullins, 7/31). The Associated Press: Congress Sends VA Overhaul to White HouseThe legislation is a response to reports of veterans dying while awaiting appointments to see VA doctors and cover-ups of the delays at several of the VA’s 1,000 hospitals and outpatient clinics. The bill devotes $10 billion in emergency spending over three years to pay private doctors and other health professionals to care for qualifying veterans who can’t get timely appointments at VA hospitals or clinics or who live more than 40 miles from one of them. It includes $5 billion for hiring more VA doctors, nurses and other medical staff and $1.3 billion to open 27 new VA clinics across the country (7/31). The Wall Street Journal: Senate Passes $17 Billion Bill To Help Pay For VA OverhaulsThe Senate passed an approximately $17 billion compromise bill Thursday evening that would help pay for overhauls to the Department of Veterans Affairs, sending the measure to the White House for President Obama to sign. The measure, passing 91-3, cleared the last legislative hurdle following nearly two weeks of debate and parliamentary jujitsu. No date has been set for when the bill will be sent to the White House. Mr. Obama is expected to sign the measure (Kesling, 7/31). The Washington Post: Senate Sends VA, Transportation Bills To Obama On Eve Of Summer RecessOn veterans affairs, senators voted 91 to 3 to approve legislation injecting more than $16 billion into VA to help deal with extensive treatment delays and a recent record-keeping scandal. Republican Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.), Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.) voted no because the legislation lacked spending cuts to match the new funding (Hicks and Halsey, 7/31). Politico: Senate Sends VA Reform Bill To ObamaThe legislation was approved as Robert McDonald prepares to take control of the VA. There has been an acting head in charge of the agency since Eric Shinseki resigned as secretary in May (French, 7/31). The Wall Street Journal: Q&A: How Can Lenders Navigate Health Care Bankruptcies?When a health-care company, particularly a hospital, files for Chapter 11 protection, it’s not your typical bankruptcy case. And that can be especially hard on lenders, according to a new report (Palank, 7/31).The New York Times: F.D.A. Acts On Lab Tests Developed In-HouseThe Food and Drug Administration announced on Thursday that it would start regulating medical laboratory testing, saying that tests used to make important treatment decisions must be vetted and validated before they go into use (Pollack, 7/31). The New York Times: Wisconsin Justices Uphold Union Limits, A Victory For The GovernorSome labor leaders said that Mr. Walker’s measure all but eviscerated many public sector unions, leaving members wondering exactly what bargaining ability they were getting for their dues, which under the law can no longer be automatically withdrawn from their paychecks. Act 10 limited bargaining rights to pay raises within the rate of inflation. And with higher contributions from workers for their health care and pensions under the law, some union members said they could no longer afford dues. One Wisconsin union said it had lost as much as 60 percent of its membership (Davey, 7/31). Check out all of Kaiser Health News’ e-mail options including First Edition and Breaking News alerts on our Subscriptions page. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. First Edition: August 1, 2014last_img read more