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Photo Credit: bigblacklincoln

See this?  See this gas-guzzlin’ boat of a 1959 Lincoln Continental Mk 4?

This, my friends, is getting an extreme make-over by rocker Neil Young.

Neil has concluded that “Just singing a song won’t change the world“so he and hottie Jonathan Goodwin, an eco-mechanic in Witchita (sic) have teamed up to transform the 10 mile per gallon beast into an electric car, called the LincVolt.

This is more than just a rock-star project.  Young doesn’t hesitate to point out that if they pull this off, it’s something GM could mass produce.  In fact, that’s the whole point:  to “RePower the American Dream“.   By linking green technology with USA classic (not to mention, when it’s not running on electricity, it now gets 100 miles per gallon), this could propel smart cars miles ahead in public acceptance.

Readers:  what do you think?  Will people be more inclined to go green on vehicles if they don’t look like, well, squashed and tinny machines?

Honest to goodness, I don’t know why we yawn at the word “economics” when there are stories like this. Beats the pants off any Britney Spears blah-blah-blah.

(for some of you this is old news. sorry – new to me. and read on; there may be some new details here).

Dec. 3, 1984, just past midnight. Bhopal, India.

Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, began leaking 27 tons of the deadly gas methyl isocyanate (a chemical used in rubber). None of the six safety systems designed to contain such a leak were operational, allowing the gas to spread throughout the city of Bhopal. Worse, the plant had been built close to a dense population instead of the other side of town.

The gas cloud, composed mainly of materials more dense than the surrounding air, stayed close to the ground and spread outwards through the surrounding community. The initial effects of gas exposure were coughing, vomiting, severe eye irritation and a feeling of suffocation. People awoken by these symptoms fled away from the plant. Those who ran inhaled more than those who had a vehicle. Due to their height, children and other people of lower stature inhaled relatively higher concentrations. Many people were trampled trying to escape.

Thousands of people had succumbed to gas exposure by the morning hours. There were mass funerals and mass cremations (approx 8000) as well as some bodies being disposed of in the Narmada river. 170,000 people were treated at hospitals and temporary dispensaries. 2,000 buffaloes, goats, and other animals had to be collected and buried. Within a few days, leaves on trees went yellow and fell off. Supplies including food became scarce due to safety fears by the suppliers. Fishing was prohibited as well which caused further supply shortages. (source: bhopal.org)

In short: a freaking industrial disaster of biblical proportions.

Dec. 7, 1984
Indian police arrest CEO Warren Andersen, and release him on bail. He hightails it back to the good old USA.

Dec. 14, 1984
CEO Warren Anderson promises US Congress that it won’t happen again.

Spring 1985
India passes the “Bhopal Gas Leak Act” and acts as the legal representative of the victims.

1986
CEO Warren Andersen retires, and lays low.

1989
Out-of-court settlement kinda/sorta reached – Union Carbide to pay $470 million in damages. I say kinda/sorta because while the Indian Gov’t was cool with this, the victims weren’t (keep reading) – it worked out to about $2200 per dead person.  What do you think:  if a US corporation had done this in the western world, would they get away with $2200 per dead person?

1991
Bhopal police charge Andersen with manslaughter and order him to appear in court. He doesn’t, of course, so India starts exerting pressure on the USA to turn him over (or in formal parlance, “extradite”). Nothing really happens, but then, Greenpeace hunted him down.

1994
Union Carbide offloads the plant by selling it to EverReady (yes, as in the batteries. Think of THAT next time you turn on your flashlight) and in …

2001
Dow Chemical buys Union Carbide (now sans the plant) and claims they have no responsibility for what happened way back in 1984 when they didn’t even own Union Carbide.

BUT THE PEOPLE WILL SPEAK

and Dow has not found itself off the hook:

Dec. 2004
a fake dude (a precursor of the fake steve jobs?) got himself on BBC claiming to be a DOW spokesperson (brand hi-jacking, hello) and claimed full responsibility on Dow’s behalf for the disaster. He even announced a $12Billion plan for the victims! (vid is totally worth watching! Wish I had guts like fake dude!)

Present
and then there’s the disconcerting website dowethics.com . It will take a while before you realize … hey, wait just.one.minute!

And there was this:
(yay, internet!)And finally …. there’s GOOD NEWS. On August 8, 2008, the prime minister pledged to meet the survivor’s demands. And DOW? Seems like they’re able to continue washing their hands of buying a lame-ass company, despite this. Same with CEO Andersen enjoying retirement in the Hamptons. As for you and me, well, we can buy Energizer batteries, xnay DOW -chemical based products like SaranWrap and Fantastik Cleaner, and donate directly to help.

And no, it isn’t my Canada’s-best-kept-secret day-job bank.

This is: DREAM BANK.

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It’s the kind of bank any money coach would love. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say you want to … take a trip to Europe. Reno your kitchen. Buy a vespa (did I say that?). Or it can be more noble things like feeding hungry people in Haiti, or funding a peace march.

And rather than receive less-than-desired gifts for birthdays and christmas, what you really want is cash to help your dream come true. Enter Dreambank.

You post your dream,

then tell friends and family about it. They can then go contribute to your dream.

One of the aspects I really like is that you can only withdraw once from your pool, then the dream is deactivated. I know from personal experience as well as from clients that its always tempting to plunder your savings when something more immediate comes up. This will help keep the savings intact until the dream is realized.

Another aspect I like is that each dreamer is required to choose a charity and donate something, and also the business itself will donate to charities. There are a lot of wins here!

Last: is it a bona fide business? Yes. It’s created in Yaletown (part of Vancouver), and promoted by Darren Barefoot.

So, over to you: What’s your dream? Go make it happen.

You can guess what I’d do with it:  social housing.

But there are lots of other great options:

  1. increased/improved public transit
  2. investing in alternative energy
  3. helping out the Cambie merchants

 Readers:  it’s your money!  (if you’re in BC).  What would you want the provincial gov’t to do with it?  (and giving it back to us is an option too!)

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Well, well, well.

It’s about bloody time Canadians refused to bend over, and fought back, nice and loud, about the iphone. Or rather, about how Rogers planned to personally bankrupt Canadians foolish enough to purchase the bright, shiny object under Rogers Rule.

So here’s what happened:

Rogers data plan was so obscene some good folks created a blog: RuinedIphone and started collecting signatures. (And as a point of interest, the original domain name was not so polite. The original name started with an f.) Within hours it had the 10,000 signatures needed to bring it to the competition bureau; within days, it had 50,000 signatures and Rogers had a serious PR nightmare on its hands. The story got picked up by the globe, the sun, 24 hours …

and the blogosphere

and rumour has it that apple itself was disgusted, and a) diverted 20% of the phones from Canada to Europe and b) will not be selling the iphones in their own retail stores.

and this morning, Rogers finally dropped their rate from $100 to $30 for the 6G data plan – provided you lock in for 3 years, and pay for a voice and voicemail (?) plan. And of course there are always those hidden fees.

Personally, I’m staying in touch with Peter’s Useful Crap to weigh my cel phone options. (err, Peter, will you be sharing your thoughts on iphone v instinct etc.?)

Meanwhile, I really am wondering: where are our politicians in all this?

A. Conservatives: let the free market rule, even if it screws our peeps

B. Liberals: what will get us elected again? what will get us elected again?

C. NDP: there are people starving. apple-what?

_______________________

Readers: do you believe politicians should have any interest in this? or is something like obscenely overcharged consumer goods not worth the time and energy of our government?

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