Merkel says Germany past ‘crest of 2nd wave,’ urges patience

first_imgBERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel says Germany is over the peak of its latest surge in coronavirus cases but she wants to wait for data on the spread of new variants before deciding on lifting lockdown restrictions. In an interview with German broadcaster RTL on Thursday, Merkel said that “the crest of the second wave has been passed.” But the long-time leader urged Germans to “hold out a little longer.” Merkel said she wants to get new data on the prevalence of new variants of the virus before deciding whether to discuss easing restrictions at a meeting with state governors Wednesday. Germany is nearing a death toll of 60,000 in the pandemic,last_img read more

Burlington Electric, not Telecom, sparks mayoral race

first_imgBurlington Electric Department,Republican mayoral candidate Kurt Wright dropped the first bomb shell of the Burlington mayoral race yesterday with his suggestion that the city should sell the Burlington Electric Department. Wright explained that the sale would help pay for mounting debt in the city’s largest city, in particular a looming $50 million shortfall in the pension fun, a $17 million budget deficit and the on-going mess with Burlington Telecom, which along with being a financial failure to date is dragging the city’s, BED’s and Burlington International Airport’s credit rating down with it.Wright, a state representative and former chairman of the City Council, emphasized that this would not be a ‘fire sale.’ He said BED is a valuable city asset. If the city could not get a reasonable price, then it should not be sold. He said the utility could fetch more than $100 million net of debt and go a long way toward restory the city’s financial situation. BED employs about 130 and last year had revenues of $54.3 million. The McNeil generating facility is in the city’s Intervale section and its headquarters or on Pine Street. BED owns half of the 50 megawatt McNeil plant (for perspective, the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is 605 MW).BED’s overall rates are 13.41 cents per kilowatt hour (state of Vermont, 2009), compared to the statewide average of 12.69 cents. Green Mountain Power was 11.89 cents and CVPS was12.67. The New England average was 15.86 cents; the US average was 9.98 cents.Along with paying off debt, shedding the city of BED would get rid of some risk for the city. BED has thrived in recent years as the price of natural gas has come down. The power it produces also looks relatively cheap compared to the rest of New England, which has high electric costs compared to most of the rest of the nation.Vermont in general has relatively lower rates than most other New England, and indeed Northeast, utilities, with only Maine having lower overall rates in the region for 2010 (For 2010, New England rates generally went down slightly and Vermont’s went up, putting Vermont second to Maine for 2010 where it was first in 2009). BED is lower than nearly all of them, giving ratepayers in Burlington a bit of a break.The McNeil generating plant burns wood or gas (and can burn fuel oil). When needed, BED contracts to buy power from sources that are in sync with the overall ethos of the city’s progressive politics. It does not have any contracts with nuclear plants.But this current rosy picture was not always the case and if the cost of wood or natural gas were to skyrocket, or other sources, such as nuclear is now seen doing, become much cheaper, then BED power could be relatively expensive.Needless to say, the reaction from the mayor’s office was swift.Progressive Mayor Bob Kiss said in a statement soon after Wright’s announcement that: ‘Kurt Wright’s proposal to sell the Burlington Electric Department is short-sighted and irresponsible. BED is a tremendous asset of the City. As a municipally-owned utility, it reflects important values of local rate-payer control and public accountability. BED is widely-acknowledged as one of the nation’s leading utilities with respect to the use of renewable energy sources. Selling an asset like BED for a one-time benefit undercuts Burlington’s future. It’s a short-term gimmick that lacks prudence and vision.‘The urgency suggested by this proposal is misplaced,” the mayor said. “The City is working towards constructive solutions for issues such as Burlington Telecom and the pension fund. Despite the national economy Burlington has been successful in attracting new businesses and jobs, strengthening the City’s infrastructure, and building sustainable municipal budgets that have continued to deliver quality services without the need for a general city tax increase over the last 6 years. Proposing to sell BED under these circumstances is an erratic solution to circumstances that require steadiness and careful consideration.’Vermont State Representative and Democratic mayoral candidate Jason Lorber also decried Wright’s suggestion to sell Burlington Electric.‘Kurt Wright is trying to sell out our city and Burlington values,’ said Lorber.‘Selling out Burlington Electric to private hands would be committing financial malpractice,’ he said. ‘Burlington Electric saves residents money, while reducing energy consumption. I believe that energy-independence and efficiency are paramount to sustainability. That’s what Burlington Electric does, while saving money. Burlington Values our people, our environment, and workers far above a fast buck.’last_img read more

Doran experiences life as Notre Dame ‘Leprechaun’ mascot

first_imgThe room was full of Notre Dame fans but John Doran was singing alone. He was in the middle of a two-week-long tryout to be the Notre Dame Leprechaun — the mascot who leads the Fighting Irish out of the locker room, clenches his fist to mimic college football’s most famous logo and maintains a red chin strap beard. Doran had known the Notre Dame fight song by heart since high school and rehearsed it in front of his mirror many times. The fans in the room knew it too. Their silence was a test. “The people that are choosing you are just looking at you, not moving,” Doran said. “And you’re thinking, ‘Come on, sing along.’ I just kept going and the second time through they joined in.“Now that I’m the Leprechaun, it’s crazy how hard it was to get the spot.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn a lot of ways, Doran is living a normal college experience as a junior in South Bend, Indiana. He’s an accounting major taking 18 credits a semester to get his CPA in four years, competes in intramural leagues with his friends from O’Neill Hall and frequents all Notre Dame sporting events.But he’s also traded his less-recognizable face for one only rivaled by Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and the Irish’s top players. The Notre Dame Leprechaun doesn’t wear a suit or mask, just a green costume that has made Doran the mascot and the mascot Doran — surreal notability for a Troy, New York, native who can’t name any other student mascot without a secret identity.Now he starts his gamedays earlier than a lot of the team and when he belts the fight song, tens of thousands of people sing along. “My brother is one of the most famous people on the campus on gameday, and if not that, than the most accessible,” said John’s older brother James Doran. “He better put a sweatsuit over his costume if he doesn’t want a five-minute walk across campus to turn into an hour.”Growing up, Doran joked about being the Leprechaun but was turned off to the idea when he first got to Notre Dame. The Leprechaun is part of the cheerleading team and — after noting that he has nothing against being a male cheerleader — said he wasn’t sure if he wanted to spend time on the team before becoming the mascot. But the cheerleading team allows guys to try out just for the Leprechaun position and he took that opportunity at the end of his sophomore year.Tryouts for the cheerleading team lasted two weeks and 15 aspiring Leprechauns were cut to six in that time. Doran had to take part in push-up competitions, rally Notre Dame support in a make-believe New York bar while being booed by make-believe Connecticut fans and do a mock interview with a local TV station.The most difficult part, though, was growing a big enough beard to chisel into a red chinstrap. He started to a day after interviewing for a job with Deloitte, a financial consulting firm. Then Deloitte called him back for an interview a week later and he had to explain the patches of red scruff on his face.He still got the job, and has had the same beard ever since. “I really can’t grow a beard,” Doran said. “People ask me, ‘Can you do a backflip?’ and things like that. And I say I’m working on it, but I also have to make sure I keep the chin strap.”Being the Leprechaun has drawn attention to Doran both in the uniform and out. When he, James Doran and a friend were at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York last summer, close to 100 people asked for a photo with him when James and the friend announced who Doran was. On Saturdays, the number of photos can reach the thousands. Sometimes Doran needs cheerleaders to help get him out of crowds and move to the next pregame pep rally. He said he always makes sure to tell those waiting where they can meet him next. Hours later he’ll be looking at the crowd from the field whether the game’s at Notre Dame Stadium or on the road — and the faces will include his friends and family when Syracuse faces Notre Dame at MetLife Stadium this weekend. “It’s just a symbol of the university and football team,” Notre Dame senior Tyler Wagner said. “He’s a big deal here.”While Doran’s identity is in the open, he has to make sure no one steals it. By his door, a green suit, green hat, gold vest and white socks drape a hanger. But that’s the uniform he was given when he first got the spot. He wears a tailored one that he got before the season, and it’s location is probably the only secret that John Doran the Leprechaun keeps. Said James Doran: “There’s a history of people stealing the uniform. I don’t know where he hides it. I bet no one does.” Comments Published on September 25, 2014 at 12:07 am Contact Jesse: | @dougherty_jesse Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more