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Chris Christie is still trying to force a pipeline through the New Jersey Pinelands

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In January, on the heels of the embarrassing revelation that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) staffers created a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge to punish an obscure political rival, Christie and his allies were handed a defeat. The New Jersey Pinelands Commission rejected a proposed 22-mile natural-gas pipeline that would go through a national reserve of forests and wetlands. Though Christie went so far as to bully a commissioner who was skeptical of the pipeline into recusing himself from the decision, that wasn’t enough to secure approval. But now the pipeline is back. The state’s leading power brokers want the commission to reconsider and are pressuring commissioners to change their votes, working both behind the scenes and through public statements and symbolic votes in county and town legislative bodies. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported, “A growing number of elected officials from Gov. Christie to lawmakers including Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) have joined county freeholders and township officials in support of the project. They are considering ways of returning the issue to the Pinelands Commission, possibly as a ‘compelling public need’ for energy security and scores of jobs.” The promise of merely “scores” of jobs in a state with 8.9 million residents is a clue that job creation is not the real issue. One of Christie’s top cronies is involved in the proposal. The law firm of David Samson, whom Christie appointed as chair of the Port Authority, represents Rockland Capital, owners of the power plant that the Pinelands pipeline would supply with natural gas. As Wayne Barrett noted in the New York Daily News, “Christie … was so eager to help Rockland that his [Department of Environmental Protection] and Board of Public Utilities (BPU) decided to support the pipeline, paid for by rate increases, despite that the fact that … it would run underground through 15 miles of the million-acre Pinelands, the country’s first natural preserve and a United Nations Biosphere Reserve.” (Samson resigned from the Port Authority last month after the Bridgegate debacle and media reports that he is under federal investigation for lobbying for companies with business before the Port Authority.) The B.L. England power plant, which would be served by the pipeline, currently burns coal. Christie’s Democratic predecessors had forced it to sign agreements to reduce its pollution or switch to natural gas. The Christie administration gave it a reprieve until 2015. Switching from coal to gas could be beneficial to the climate — when burned, gas emits roughly half the CO2 that coal does (though that’s not so impressive compared to wind or solar). But in practice, natural gas drilling operations and pipelines often leak methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas, which can neutralize any climate benefit. And beyond climate change, the pipeline would pose obvious threats to the local environment. Environmental critics say the proposal has such strong backing because the beneficiaries, such as Samson, are politically connected. “It’s not the jobs, it’s the power,” says Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. Tittel also speculates that Christie, seeking support from anti-environment conservatives in the Republican presidential primary, is trying to bolster his pro–fossil fuel bona fides. “The governor had been pro-wind until he went national,” says Tittel. “This [project] is in the middle of an area that was set aside for big wind farms. Cheap gas power will kill offshore wind.” The Christie administration did not respond to a request for comment. Environmentalists and neighbors would like to see the B.L. England plant shut down. Ironically, climate change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, makes its shoreline location especially precarious. “The power plant is in an area that floods with storm surges,” notes Tittel. And the plant is a blight on the shore. “It’s a big ugly smokestack in a scenic area, Ocean City, which is a tourist hub,” Tittel says. If you decommissioned the plant, Tittel argues, you could create more jobs with development of condos, hotels, and restaurants in the area. (Although any development in a future flood plain could be risky, power plants are especially vulnerable to a storm surge, as all of Lower Manhattan learned when it lost power for days after a transformer station on the East River got hit during Superstorm Sandy.) Unfortunately, New Jersey politicians are notorious for making these types of decisions on the basis of cronyism rather than empiricism. Christie’s latest heavy-handed tactic was to veto 5 percent raises for the Pinelands Commission staffers.Filed under: Article, Business & Technology, Climate & Energy, Politics

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Student’s mother pleads for release

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The mother of a London student who is to be deported to her native Mauritius pleads with MPs to release her from Yarl’s Wood immigration centre.

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Erdogan vows revenge on plotters after victory in Turkish elections

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory for his Islamic-based party in key regional elections and warned his foes they would “pay the price” for plotting his downfall. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Modest outsider Anne Hidalgo Paris’ first female mayor

<!– google_ad_section_start –> As she bid to become the first female mayor of Paris, Spanish-born Socialist Anne Hidalgo had to endure taunts from her opponents about her modest origins and lack of Parisian roots. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Liberal academics push compromise 2017 plan

<!– google_ad_section_start –> The blueprint, spearheaded by the vice-chairman of the SynergyNet think tank, Dr Brian Fong Chi-hang, and Community Care Fund chairman Dr Law Chi-kwong, dispenses with public nomination, a point that radical pan-democrats consider is indispensable. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Politics is second to solving people’s problems: New People’s Party’s Judy Chan Ka-pui

<!– google_ad_section_start –> Four months ago, few in Hong Kong – not to mention the political arena – would have heard of the name Judy Chan Ka-pui. Yet, the New People’s Party freshman shot to fame in the small hours of March 24 when she defeated Democratic Party lawmaker Sin Chung-kai and People Power chairwoman Erica Yuen Mi-ming to win a Southern District Council by-election. <!– google_ad_section_end –>

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Turkish prime minister: ‘Our people will tell the truth today’

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Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers withering assessment of opposition parties after casting his vote in local electionsThe Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, voted in nationwide local elections on Sunday, and said he was confident that “our people will tell the truth today”.More than 52 million people are eligible to vote in the elections, which are the first popular test for Erdogan since last summer’s large anti-government protests and allegations of massive corruption inside the Turkish government. The votes in Istanbul and Turkey’s capital, Ankara, in particular, are expected to be a test of the prime minister’s style of ruling.

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Afghans register for polls despite attacks

Voters remain defiant and rush to register for Saturday’s election despite numerous recent Taliban attacks.

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Thais vote for senators as PM showdown looms

Outcome of upper house ballot could influence decision to remove prime minister which requires three-fifths vote.

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French elections: Hollande braces for drubbing amid far-right gains

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Municipal election misery forecast for president with Marine Le Pen’s Front National poised to win record number of seatsFrance is going to the polls on Sunday for a second-round vote that is likely to see François Hollande punished with a rise in support for the far right.The Front National (FN), led by Marine Le Pen, is on track to win an unprecedented number of local council seats and even take control of a handful of town and city halls.

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Coalition keen to sell ‘budget repair job’ as focus shifts to Western Australia

Despite agreeing to big ticket budget items of the NDIS and Gonski reforms, the Coalition says it is working towards curtailing spending to ensure a sustainable budget is delivered in MayFinance minister Mathias Cormann is pointing to efforts to curtail spending as the government intensifies its May budget preparations arguing that outlays for signature programs like the National Disability Insurance Scheme must be efficient and well targeted.With national politics about to shift west for the next few days in the lead-up to the critical senate by-election in Western Australia next weekend, both the prime minister and the finance minister were talking up budget sustainability on Sunday.

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French Front National eyes real power after startling gains in local elections

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The FN already has a new mayor and could end up in control of five towns or cities after a strong showing at the polls, with Marine Le Pen declaring 2014 ‘year zero’ for French politicsThe historic city of Avignon is up for grabs. So is Perpignan, as is Fréjus on the south coast.In local elections on Sunday, Marine Le Pen’s Front National (FN) is hoping to snatch up to 15 towns and cities from the ruling Socialist party or the opposition centre-right UMP, validating its claim to be the third force in French politics. Across Europe, where Eurosceptic, anti-immigration parties are on the rise, the results will be taken as a sign of things to come

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Italian government sells Jaguars, Maseratis on eBay to cut costs

Luxury cars out of style as economy struggles to grow

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Saks Fifth Avenue
7 For All Mankind, a division of VF Contemporary Brands
Bren-Books.com, Modern first editions and collectible fiction<

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Burberry
New July 2013