Monday, October 31, 2011

California Solar Subsidies Used By Rich But Not Poor

Based on how California policymakers giving subsidies for solar panels placed on the residential roofs, the poorest parts of California have not sufficiently utilized the benefits.

California's ambitious program to convert to solar energy is partially paid for with $3.3 billion provided by the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC), spread over 10 years, taken in small slices from utility customers' monthly bills.  The Public Utilities Commission reported earlier this year that California Solar Initiative subsidies have amounted to $885 million so far. They've created 924 megawatts of power spread across 94,900 locations owned by large and small commercial users, and residential customers.

The piece of program reserved for lowest income customers is not quite so robust. The PUC reports solar has been installed on the homes of 862 low-income Californians. People with low income can't afford any piece of it, rebate or no rebate.

The California Public Utilities Commission reports that one residence in the Sonoma County wine town of Glen Ellen received a $372,000 subsidy on a $2.2 million solar installation. A Newcastle residence received a $319,000 subsidy on a $1.45 million installation. In all, 22 residential solar projects received subsidies in excess of $100,000 each, and 71 others received subsidies of $50,000 or more.

The Public Utilities Commission reports that the ZIP code covering the eastern end of Clovis, one of the most tony areas of the Fresno region, received $3.5 million in solar roof subsidies. Down in the flatlands of Fresno, in the southern and western ends of the city, subsidies totaled $40,000.

In three ZIP codes for Malibu, rebates for residential solar installations have amounted to more than $1.5 million. About 13,000 people live there. In three ZIP codes in Compton, home to almost 140,000 people, there was one solar subsidy for $2,269. The same is true in Granite Bay, where there have been $1.3 million in subsidies, and El Dorado Hills, where there have been $1.5 million in subsidies.

In April, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation requiring that utilities get a third of their electricity from renewable sources, in an event at a new solar panel factory in Milpitas, owned by SunPower, the largest manufacturer of solar panels used in the California Solar Initiative.

SunPower executive, called the initiative "wildly successful" with installation prices dropping significantly. The initiative helped spawn an industry that employs several thousand people. The clean energy generated by the panels displaces other types of electricity generated by fossil fuel.

But the rooftop solar business wouldn't exist, at least not in its current form, without various subsidies, including the state rebates and 30 percent federal tax credit.

San Diego Gas & Electric is raising issues related to rooftop solar in filings with the PUC. The utility is seeking to charge solar customers an average of $22 a month to cover transmission, distribution and other overhead costs.

Sempra also is seeking approval of midsize solar arrays that could be installed at power substations, on the roofs of large warehouses, on land that is too polluted for other uses. The company would sell the electrons to apartment dwellers and customers who couldn't afford rooftop solar. It would be far more efficient than placing panels on individual roofs. (Sacramento Bee, 10/31/2011)

Prince George's County Remains Black By Choice

Blacks Have Moved In and Whites Have Moved Out

America has a black president and every city in the country also has a black side of town and a white side of town.  This scenario is clearly illustrated in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.  In Prince George's County, Maryland, Whites have congregated in Bowie and Blacks are the majority in most of the other neighborhoods.

From Loudoun to Fairfax to Montgomery, communities that are growing in the Washington Metro Area are also growing more integrated, with people of every race and ethnicity living side by side. Prince George’s stands virtually alone as a place that is gaining population yet has an increasing number of residents living in neighborhoods that are overwhelmingly one race, African American.

Census data shows that the number of Prince George’s neighborhoods where more than 85 percent of residents are the same race or ethnicity — what demographers consider a high level of segregation — has inched up, from 25 percent in 1990 to 27 percent last year. Though the increase is small, any uptick is interesting in comparison with everywhere else in the region. While the all-white neighborhood has all but disappeared from Northern Virginia, Montgomery and the District, the all-black neighborhood is on the rise in Prince George’s.

Prince George’s is a beacon for middle-class African Americans who want to live around other blacks and few whites are moving in. It appears that the majority of Blacks and Whites prefer to live among their own. Twenty years ago, fully a third of Prince George's County’s segregated neighborhoods were white.  Today, none are.  Meanwhile, the arrival of affluent and accomplished blacks — not only from the District and surrounding counties but from throughout the nation — has transformed vast swaths of the county.  More than a third of the county’s African American residents live in neighborhoods that are more than 85 percent black. FromBowie to Brandywine, threequarters of the neighborhoods where household incomes surpass $100,000 are majority African American.

The Prince George’s experience also illustrates the limits of integration.  Most blacks and whites still live in separate neighborhoods, despite the dismantling of legal segregation decades ago.  Prince George’s has neighborhoods that are like almost no others in the United States: segregated African American enclaves with median household incomes above $100,000. The only other black enclaves in the
country with incomes that high are two small tracts in Queens and one in Brooklyn. The much larger DeKalb County in suburban Atlanta may offer the best point of comparison. Like Prince George’s, DeKalb is an affluentmajority black county that is both growing and growing more segregated.

In the Washington region, 90 percent of whites still live in neighborhoods where they are a majority or the largest group.  Many whites remain unwilling to buy houses in black neighborhoods. A lot of white people don’t want to live around black people. Conversely, Blacks in Prince George's County are where they want to be. They’re not thinking about integration. It’s not on their radar screen. Their goal is to live in a community of like-minded, like-valued people, and these are other middle-class blacks.

Over the past decade, the county’s white population dropped by 50,000. At the same time, the county gained 72,000 Hispanics. There are now more Hispanics than whites in Prince George’s. (Wash Post, 10/31/2011)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

CNN "Blacks in America 4" : Blacks in Silicon Valley?

CNN's "Black in America 4" displays the difficulties of African-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.  Some Black Silicon Valley enrepreneurs say there's plenty of evidence that active -- if often subconscious -- bias plays a role in their limited participation prospects.

Some ask: Where are the roots of the problem? Is it that venture capitalists shy away from funding minorities, or are there too few minorities entering the field? Others respond: The problem isn't that there are barriers, the problem is that Blacks aren't entering the field in the first place.  (CNN Money, 10/28/2011)

BLACK FOUNDERS: Mission: To increase the number of successful black entrepreneurs in tech.

The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley, the fourth installment in CNN's Black in America series, will premiere November 13 at 8 p.m. ET.

Watch the trailer on, and check out CNNMoney's full coverage of the project

Friday, October 28, 2011

Miquela Craytor: Leaving Sustainable South Bronx

Miquela Craytor

Dear SSBx Supporter,
After five years at Sustainable South Bronx, I will be moving on: Friday, November 4, will be my final day as Executive Director. I have accepted a position with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to oversee the City's Industrial Policy.

After my experience at SSBx I am acutely aware of the critical need to devise ways to ensure that the industrial sector can thrive in urban areas, while remaining responsive to the needs and concerns of local communities. I'll now be able to use this knowledge at a citywide level. Of course I will remain an active and committed part of SSBx's work going forward.

In May 2008, when I became the Executive Director, SSBx had trained nearly 100 individuals in five years of running our BEST ECO program. Today, only three years later, the program has expanded significantly-now known as BEST Academy-and we have trained 300 more people. BEST has expanded, to offer training in two different green collar sectors, and is continuously evolving to stay innovative in this dynamic and now competitive field of green-job training. We have also enriched our programming to connect homeowners to retrofits in the South Bronx. Starting just this year, our work has already led to 50 homes receiving free energy audits, with several retrofits now underway. And in the next month we will be taking this work borough-wide. Additionally, we have constructed 4 greenroof/wall projects, and currently are completing our largest project ever, a 10,000-square-foot greenroof. And our catalyst project, the South Bronx Greenway, is now seeing completion of several of the first phase projects-which began only a year ago.

These achievements are the result of a lot of hard work on the part of our staff and our BEST graduates, but none of our program's growth or advocacy successes would have been possible without our supporters. So I would like to offer my most heartfelt thanks to the generous donors, dedicated volunteers, partner organizations and businesses, not only in the Bronx and but the City as a whole. I would also like to thank SSBx's Board of Directors for giving me the opportunity to lead the organization and for working closely with me over the past three years.

I am so thankful to you for all of your support of the organization and our efforts over the years. Because of that support, and the support of the staff and board, I feel confident about SSBx's next chapter.

I am also pleased to introduce you to our newly appointed interim Executive Director, Michael Brotchner. Michael has been working with me over the past several weeks in advance of my departure. Michael comes to us from Generation Rwanda, having run offices in both New York and Rwanda. He brings tremendous expertise, confidence, personality and energy to the table. He graduated from Wesleyan and has an MBA from Berkeley. I am positive that both Michael (whose email address is and SSBx will flourish in his stewardship.

SSBx serves as an amazing model of what is possible when environmental and economic development are addressed simultaneously. We are an action organization that exemplifies the idea that sustainability is possible in every community.

I hope that you will continue to support these efforts going forward.


Miquela Craytor
Executive Director (Emeritus)

Black Environment Network - BEN

Based in the United Kingdom, Black Environment Network (BEN) is a unique organization, recognised nationally and internationally as the pioneer working for ethnic environmental participation. BEN was established to promote equality of opportunity with respect to ethnic communities in the preservation protection and development of the environment.

BEN proposes there is no such thing as a pure environmental project - a so called pure environmental projects is one which has rejected its social and cultural context. BEN therefore works to integrate social, cultural and environmental concerns in the context of sustainable development. In order to achieve this, we work across diverse sectors. Our current themes integrate the areas of natural environment, the built environment, heritage, social justice, health and housing.


To have representation and participation, at all levels, of ethnic communities in the built and natural environment, which reflects the profile of the ethnic population in Britain

Organizational Aims

To represent issues and concerns relating to ethnic participation in the built and natural environment

To develop training and consultancy services in order to underpin ethnic participation

To develop, strengthen and maintain the Network

To secure resources in order to maintain and increase operations across the UK

To address current issues and concerns relating to ethnic participation in the natural and built environment

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blacks Not Part of DOE's Loan Guarantee Program


By Norris McDonald

Blacks are effectively locked out of benefiting from the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program.  At a 2009 Congressional Black Caucus energy forum, I asked Secretary of Energy Steven Chu about how the Department of Energy could help Blacks to get ownership of energy companies.  His response was that Blacks should buy stock.  Well I already knew that.  You could also sense the collective groan of the Blacks in the room.

What about half billion dollar loan guarantees Mr. Secretary?  Yet no Black company has the experience and infrastructure to qualify for the loans.  But some of these companies, such as Solyndra, are out of business soon after receiving half billion dollar loan guarantees [Solyndra collapsed despite receiving a $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee in 2009].  A start up could not do any worse than that.  So Secretary Chu should have said the department would be looking into loan guarantees for start-up Black-owned energy companies. I got the impression that Mr. Chu had no clue about suggesting such a thing.

I say all of that because of the current controversy related to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) attack on a potential $730 million Energy Department loan to a Russian steel company for manufacturing high strength automotive steel in Michigan.  If the Russian company Severstal North America – a subsidiary of Russian steel giant OAO Severstal – can receive public financing to re-tool and expand facilities in Dearborn, Michigan, then so should a Black-owned company receive subsidies to particiapate in energy-sector-related endeavors.

Issa argues that Severstal was already moving ahead with production plans “with apparently no need for federal financing” and also questions whether the project is even eligible under the requirements of the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) program. Issa also notes the wealth and connections of Alexei Mordashov, the CEO of the Russian parent company, who according to Forbes has a net worth of $18.5 billion. Issa argues the company could self-finance the project or find funding on the open market.  Even the 1% of Russia trumps the Black part of the 99% in the United States. 

I complain because Blacks do not own any energy infrastructure and resources in the United States.  Now one can sit back and complain or one can try to do something about it.  But one is challenged to 'get in' when Big Boys are getting the really big supports from the public.  And those who groan at the mention of race should ask themselves if it is okay that no Blacks own energy infrastructure and resources in the USA.  If this is okay with them, then I have to dismiss their view and proceed to do whatever it takes to get equity in the energy sector.

The Energy Department announced conditional approval of the Severstal loan in July but has not given final approval. The Energy Department says the Severstal’s application is for a project that would help make American car manufacturers be more competitive as demand for lighter, more fuel efficient vehicles increases, strengthen the American steel industry and support more than 2,500 construction jobs and over 260 permanent manufacturing jobs in Michigan.

The auto loan program was authorized in a 2007 energy law (H.R. 6: Energy Independence and Security Act) that passed with wide bipartisan support and was signed by President George W. Bush.

Finally, Turner Station, an African American community in Baltimore is suffering from pollution from a nearby Severstal plant.  Not only are Blacks locked out of participating as owners in the energy sector, but then Black communities are disproportionately impacted by pollution from some of those facilities. (The Hill, 10/27/2011)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

EPA Student Diversity Internship Program Spring Term

EPA Annnounces the Spring Term (February 6 - April 13, 2012)

The internship  is offered under a U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP), Minority Academic Institutions (MAI) Program, Student Diversity Internship Program (SDIP) contract. This contract was awarded on March 17, 2011, to AGi Mission Support Services, Incorporated (AGi). AGi is 8(a) certified and a service disabled veteran-owned small business located in Silver Spring, Maryland. As part of their contract, AGi is managing the recruitment and administrative procedures applicable to the SDIP contract.

EPA's SDIP is unique because it provides EPA headquarters, regional offices, and laboratories with the option of retaining a student for the summer, fall and spring. You can have a student participate in your program for ten weeks for each period. The contract may also be used as a mechanism to help you meet your MAI and Small Business goals.

EPA's MAI Program was created to increase opportunities for Minority Serving Institutions to participate in federal programs.  Increased participation in federal programs will strengthen these schools, and the entire nation, by promoting faculty development; increasing institutional capacity; and fully developing the diverse
talent pool that constitutes our nation. Success in fulfilling these critical objectives will help our economy to thrive and keep America competitive in the global market.
The SDIP is not limited to MAI colleges and universities, it is open to all college students that are enrolled in an accredited college, university, institution or graduate program. Students must be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, a sophomore, junior or senior, and have maintained an overall GPA of 2.8 or above on a 4.0 scale. Apply on-line.

The cost per Spring Term intern is $9,000. For each student hired, you must complete an Assignment Description Form (Attached), and funding must be processed through the EPA Acquisition System (EAS). You must email the completed Assignment Description Form to M. Saida Agostini, Managing Director and courtesy copy Tammy Thomas, Alternate Project Officer (APO)  When preparing your funding document in the EAS system, please reference your document as contract number EP-W-11-027, Student Diversity Internship Program (SDIP), and add Tammy Thomas as a courtesy copy to your routing history. To expedite your request for the Spring Term interns, submit the Assignment Description Form and the EAS documents by COB Friday, January 20, 2012. Once the contractor receives your Assignment Description Form, they will send you three resumes for review and selection per student. Each program office will be responsible for supplying their intern(s) with a work station, computer, and telephone.

On February 6, 2012, EPA will host a “Welcoming Orientation Program” at headquarters for the interns and their mentors (additional information forthcoming). Interns and mentors who are located in EPA regions and laboratories will be able to participate via a webinar. This orientation will also be videotaped.

If you need additional information regarding the SDIP, please feel free to contact Patricia Durrant, Project Officer (PO) at (202) 566-2458 or Tammy Thomas, APO,, at (202) 566-1209.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Job at Greenpeace


Summary Description:

The Executive Assistant is a high level administrative position that works closely with the Executive Director and the Senior Management Team. This position manages the Executive Director’s time, correspondence, travel, and speaking engagements, ensuring that the Director’s time is spent focused on managing and communicating to the organization. The Executive Assistant works directly with the Executive Director in support of his or her work with the Senior Management Team and Greenpeace International to make certain that information is communicated in a timely, accurate and appropriate manner. This position handles and assesses the Executive Director’s time to ensure that he or she is focused on tasks that create the most value in service of key objectives to the organization.


• Manage Executive Director’s scheduling, email communication, travel and speaking engagement coordination
• Draft original and routine correspondence for Executive Director’s signature
• Manage Senior Management Team calendar, plans, and action items
• Provide assistance to the Executive Director and Senior Management Team for meeting preparation and planning events
• Handle staff requests that come in for the Executive Director and the Executive Assistant role
• Plan and prepare materials for Senior Management Team meetings
• Support Governance and Internal Communications Coordinator on board and internal communication needs
• Manage deliverables to Executive Director and provide any necessary reporting
• Develop relationships with high level contacts
• Perform Greenpeace USA liaison duties for Greenpeace International
• Create and edit PowerPoint presentations for the Executive Director upon request
• Project manage special projects
• Pitch in with office management responsibilities as a true team member


• Bachelors degree or equivalent experience
• 5+ years stable administrative experience, with at least 2 years executive experience
• Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to draft correspondences and other communications quickly with minimum direction
• Experience facilitating meetings
• Keen attention to detail with ability to track and manage multiple projects at one time
• Familiarity working with organizational budgets
• Ability to act efficiently on last minute projects
• Proficiency with Microsoft Excel, Word and Power Point / general computer literacy
• Demonstrated ability to coordinate and facilitate the completion of large administrative projects in a timely manner, including meeting strict deadlines
• Proactive and service-oriented but easy going personality
• Self-starter with demonstrated ability to work both independently and within a team
• Ease in getting along with team members at all levels
• Ability to manage up
• Consistency and a high degree of quality in work
• Excellent execution – a perfectionist
• Curiosity and a constant interest in learning
• Excellent judgment, discretion, and diplomacy
• A high level of energy and enthusiasm
• Commitment to environmental issues and principles of non-violence central to Greenpeace’s mission

To Apply:

Please send cover letter, including where you heard of this position, and resume to . Please use the email subject line: Executive Assistant Applicant – YOUR NAME. Application deadline is November 8, 2011. No phone calls.

Durban Climate Change Conference

November 28 - December 9, 2011

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, will bring together representatives of the world's governments, international organizations and civil society. The discussions will seek to advance, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Bali Action Plan, agreed at COP 13 in 2007, and the Cancun Agreements, reached at COP 16 last December.

[United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]

Race Riots are Back: "White Girl Bleed a Lot"

A New book from award winning reporter Colin Flaherty


Race riots are back.

Along with widespread racial crime and violence.

In hundreds of episodes in more than 50 cities since 2010, groups of black people are roaming the streets of America -- assaulting, intimidating, stalking, threatening, vandalizing, stealing, shooting, stabbing, even raping and killing.

But local media and public officials are silent. Crime is color blind, says a Milwaukee police chief. Race is not important, a Chicago newspaper editor says.

That denies the obvious: America is the most race conscious society in the world.

We learn that every day from black caucuses, black teachers, black unions, black ministers, black colleges, black high schools, black music, black moguls, black hair business owners, black public employees, black art, black names, black poets, black inventors, black soldiers.

Everything except black violent crime. That is Taboo.

Result: Few know about it. Fewer still are talking about it.

The list of cities under attack is long and getting longer -- with some cities suffering dozens of attacks in the last year alone:

Almost as astonishing is the willingness of people in authority and in the media to deny it. Ignore it. Explain it away. Even condone and lie about it.

A member of Congress from Chicago, Bobby Rush, said black violence in Chicago was routine and the only reason anyone was paying attention to the race riots in downtown Chicago was because it was it was black on white violence. This is a theme heard in Rochester, Washington, D.C., and dozens of other places: ‘What’s the big deal? This has been happening a long time in black neighborhoods.’

Congressman Rush is probably right. Which means this problem is hundreds of times worse than we think.


Reaction from the press

University of Pittsburg Conference on the Black Male

The news media’s depictions of Black males can have a profound effect on readers and viewers. How Black men are portrayed can often reinforce stereotypes, which can lead to negative perceptions and result in racial bias in everything from court decisions to policymaking.

A group of scholars, experts, and news media executives will discuss these issues at a one-day summit at the University of Pittsburgh Nov. 1 titled “Evolving the Image of the African American Male in American Media.” The by-invitation-only event will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the second-floor Ballroom B of Pitt’s University Club, 123 University Place, Oakland. The summit, presented by Pitt’s Office of Public Affairs, is made possible by a grant from the Heinz Endowments.

8:45 a.m. Opening Remarks and Introduction of the Keynote Speaker

Robert Hill, vice chancellor for Public Affairs, University of Pittsburgh

Keynote Address

Marc Lamont Hill, associate professor of English education at Teachers College of Columbia University, host of the nationally syndicated TV show Our World With Black Enterprise, and regular commentator for CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News.

9:30 a.m. Imagery in the News

A discussion of the power of major news media to shape opinions and the problems that result from unbalanced news coverage.

Travis Dixon, professor of communications, UCLA;
Robert Entman, J.B. and M.C. Shapiro Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University; and
Paul Hitlin, senior researcher, Pew Research Center.

Moderator: Paula Poindexter, vice president, Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and associate professor of journalism and graduate advisor, University of Texas at Austin.

10:30 a.m. A Conversation Among Young African American Males

Seven teenage and young adult Black males will discuss their perceptions of the news media as well as how their communities are depicted.

Amani Davis, senior at Winchester Thurston High School, Pittsburgh;
Antoine Allen, freshman at Syracuse University;
Ashton Gibbs, senior student athlete, University of Pittsburgh;
Tosen Nwadei, sophomore, University of Pittsburgh;
Raymont Hopkins, Pittsburgh youth who attended Pittsburgh Carrick High School;
Jasiri X, Pittsburgh-based entertainer; and
Jay Oriola, senior, University of Pittsburgh.

Moderator: Chris Moore, producer and host of WQED Horizons.

Noon : Luncheon Speaker

Larry E. Davis, dean of the School of Social Work, Donald M. Henderson Professor, and director of the Center on Race and Social Problems at Pitt, will address the psychological impact on Black men of negative stereotypes promulgated by the media.

1:30 p.m. A Conversation Among Black Media Executives

Executives from traditionally African American-focused news outlets will discuss the role of the “Black Press” in the 21st century.

Tene’ Croom, former news director, American Urban Radio Network;
Rod Doss, editor and publisher, New Pittsburgh Courier;
Pamela Newkirk, professor of journalism, New York University; and
John B. Smith, publisher, Atlanta Inquirer.

Moderator: George E. Curry, president and CEO, George Curry Media, LLC, and former editor-in-chief, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) News Service.

2:30 p.m. A Conversation Among News Decision Makers

Panelists will reveal how decisions are made in the coverage of the African American community, providing an insider’s view into how race and race-based issues are discussed and managed at major news outlets.

Shirley Carswell, deputy managing editor, The Washington Post;
James N. Crutchfield, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Journalism and Multimedia Arts, Duquesne University, and former president and publisher, Akron Beacon Journal;
Rick Henry, former president, WTAE-TV; and
David Shribman, executive editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Moderator: Lorraine Branham, dean, S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University.

4 p.m. Town Hall Meeting

This session, moderated by Robert Hill, is designed for open feedback and discussion. A representative from each of the panels will engage with the audience about topics discussed during the day and answer questions.

5 p.m. Concluding Remarks

Ervin E. Dyer, senior editor, PITT Magazine, and former news reporter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

About the Heinz Endowments: The Heinz Endowments was formed from the Howard Heinz Endowment, established in 1941, and the Vira I. Heinz Endowment, established in 1986. Its vision is for Southwestern Pennsylvania to prosper as a premier place to both live and work, as a center for learning and educational excellence, and as a region that embraces diversity and inclusion.

The foundation’s mission is to help the region thrive as a whole community—economically, ecologically, educationally, and culturally—while advancing the state of knowledge and practice in the fields in which people work. Its fields of emphasis include philanthropy in general and the disciplines represented by its five grant-making programs: Arts & Culture; Children, Youth & Families; Education; Environment; and Innovation Economy.

Winter Energy Efficiency Tips from Energy Star

The average family spends $2,200 a year on energy bills, nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling.

With winter approaching and Americans heading indoors, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program is offering easy energy saving tips that increase household efficiency while helping Americans save money and stay warm.

EPA recommends taking the following steps this winter:

Maintain your heating equipment. Dirt and neglect are the top causes of heating system failure. If your heating equipment is more than 10 years old, now is a good time to schedule a pre-season checkup with a licensed contractor to make sure your system is operating at peak performance. Check your system’s air filter every month and when it is dirty, change it. At a minimum, change it every three months.

Use a programmable thermostat. Control your home’s temperature while you’re away or asleep by using one of the pre-programmed settings. When used properly, programmable thermostats can save up to $180 every year in energy costs.

Seal air leaks in your home. If rooms are too hot/cold or you have noticed humidity or excessive dust problems you should consider taking action to seal air leaks. Sealing air leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a significant impact on improving your comfort and reducing energy bills. If you are adding insulation to your home, be sure to seal air leaks first, to ensure you get the best performance from your insulation.

Utilize the Energy Star website. Use Energy Star’s Home Energy Yardstick to compare your home's energy use to similar homes across the country and see how your home measures up. Energy Star’s Home Energy Advisor can give recommendations for energy-saving home improvements for typical homes in your area.

Look for Energy Star qualified products. Whether you are replacing light bulbs or appliances in your home, Energy Star qualified products can help you save energy and reduce energy bills. The label can be found on more than 60 types of products ranging from heating and cooling equipment to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).

Energy Star was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy-efficiency. Energy Star offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions to decrease energy consumption, save money, and help protect the environment. More than 20,000 organizations are Energy Star partners, committed to improving energy-efficiency in homes, products, and businesses. (EPA)

Information on cutting energy costs this winter

Information on other ways to save energy year round

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Remembering The Anthrax Attack Ten Years Later

AAEA Only Group To Protest Disparate Treatment

On Friday, Joseph P. Curseen Jr. and Thomas L. Morris Jr. were remembered by postal workers and officials with prayer vigils and memorials. Their deaths are a reminder of the slow horror and mystery of the anthrax attacks as they unfolded from the elite world of Capitol Hill to the Brentwood facility, where workers had been assured by health officials that theywere safe.  Postal workers at Brentwood felt that they were treated differently from Capitol Hill personnel because the Senate office was closed immediately while the closure of Brentwood was delayed.

Norris McDonald speaking at Brentwood press conference

The letter-borne anthrax terrorism killed five people and sickened 17 more, including several postal workers in New Jersey. In 2008, federal prosecutors declared a scientist named Bruce Ivins, who worked at the government’s biodefense labs at Fort Detrick, Md., as the culprit. Ivins had killedhimself daysbefore. The FBI closed its investigation last year.  Some have questioned whether Ivans was guilty. (Wash Post, 10/22/2011)

AAEA organized a rally to support the plight of the postal workers at the Brentwood postal facility, now known as the Joseph Curseen, Jr. and Thomas Morris, Jr. Processing & Distribution Center. The rally was held on October 30, 2001 in front of the closed Brentwood building to show support for the postal workers. The rally was cosponsored by EPA Victims Against Racial Discrimination, Friends of the Earth, Gray Panthers, Urban Protectors, EPA-Nat'l Treasury Employee’s Union, Chapter 280, Women Like Us (Brenda Richardson), Donald Temple Law Offices, and the DC Statehood Green Party. The rally was covered by numerous news outlets.

Herman Cain: Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Zones & The 9-9-9 Plan

The 9-9-9 Plan will essentially turn the whole country into one giant Opportunity Zone. Some of the most attractive features of the original Enterprise Zones, such as a zero capital gains tax, immediate expensing of business equipment, and no payroll taxes are “factoryinstalled” in the 9-9-9 Plan for the whole countryto benefit.

In addition, districts designated as Opportunity Zones will have the following additional benefits:

• Deductions to employers for the total amount of payroll employed within in the Zone, subject to income limits. By basing it on payroll and not income, it reduces “gaming” and helps new businesses which generally don’t generate profits in early years.

• Value-added businesses that are more labor intensive get the most “bang for the buck.” This will match the existing labor pool better than, say, a high tech R & D lab or a law firm.

• Deductions will not be limited to “new” businesses or “new” jobs but are designed to benefit all within the Zone. Why not provide relief and reward to those already struggling in the Zone, many of whom have been doing so for a long time. They are most likely to lead to economic renewal.

• Anyone living in the Zone will get a deduction (not a credit) and anyone working in the Zone will get a deduction (subject to income limits).

• Means tested benefits should be restructured or reformed so they don’t counteract the incentives for work. (Scribd)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Environmental Justice Blog

AAEA has been managing and producing the Environmental Justice Blog for five years.  The first article was published on December 30, 2006 and featured Samara Swanston.  The blog was created to address environmental justice issues as a supplement to The State of Environmental Justice in America Conference(s).  The conference brings together federal employees, academics, business and industry, non-profit organizations, faith-based organizations, local community activists and others to participate in dialog on achieving equality of environmental protection.  The first conference was held in May 2007.  The 6th Annual State of Environmental Justice in America Conference is scheduled for April 3-5, 2012.

AAEA will continue to publish the blog and support the conference.  In addition to the blog, AAEA has been a cosponsor of the conference.  We have also conducted forums on Nuclear Power and Environmental Justice and Converting Carbon Dioxide Into Gasoline.

AAEA compliments John Rosenthall for coordinating the conference for the past five years and we look forward to working with him on the 2012 conference. 

African American

The use of the taxonomic category African American fundamentally reflects the historic and contemporary systems of racial stratification in American society. The term "African American," as a categorical descriptor, includes many different segments of the American population referred to as "Black" or Americans of African ancestry. It is also a product of the group self-definition process in which African Americans have historically engaged as an expression of identity, power, defiance, pride, and the struggle for human rights. These designations were often in contradistinction to official government classifications and popular characterizations, which frequently reflected prevailing ideas about white supremacy intended to denigrate African Americans.

One reason for the attention African Americans have given to group designations is that group classifications by the white majority were highly instrumental in attempting to justify slavery, deny basic human rights, and restrain social opportunities.  About 30 million persons were identified as African American in the U.S. Census of 1990.

Being classified as African American is quite significant because it reflects an important social group transformation and reality in terms of group identity, political orientation, life chances or social opportunity, normative standards and lifestyles, and discriminatory behavior. It is only when the reality of racial classification carries little social impact that the term will become obsolete. At the present time, it is unlikely that serious consideration can be given to eliminating the use of racial designations such as "African American."  (Answers)

Wadi Muhammad

New Public Engagement Specialist at EPA

AAEA welcomes Wadi Muhammad to Washington, DC.

Mr. Muhammad transferred to EPA Headquarters from EPA New England (Region 1) where he worked with faith and community leaders as a resource and advocate for energy efficiency in their respective organizations.

Wadi Muhammad
Public Engagement Specialist
Office of the Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

America's Biggest Land Owners

#1 John Malone. Owns: 2.2 million acres in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, Maine and New Hampshire. The cable-television billionaire was outed as one of the nation's largest property owners by The Land Report two years ago and dramatically increased his holdings last year with the purchase of New Mexico's 453-square-mile Bell Ranch. Now he passes longtime No. 1 Ted Turner with the purchase of 1 million acres of timberland in New Hampshire and Maine from an investment firm.

#2 Ted Turner.  Owns: 2 million acres in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Florida and several other states. An ardent conservationist, Turner began buying ranches in the 1970s and revived the nation's bison herd to 55,000 head on his ranches across the upper Great Plains. No regrets about losing the title as the nation's No. 1 land baron to John Malone: "I consider John a good friend and have great respect for him," Turner said.

#3 Archie "Red" Emmerson. Owns: 1.87 million acres in California and Washington. #3 Archie "Red" EmmersonIn 1949 Emmerson and his father, Curly, leased a sawmill and built the business into Sierra Pacific Industries. Red borrowed $460 million to buy 522,000 acres in California, a position since increased to almost 2 million acres.

#4 Brad Kelley. Owns: 1.7 million acres in Texas, New Mexico and Florida. This Nashville, Tenn., farmer's son sold his Commonwealth Brands cigarette company for $1 billion in 2001 and began investing in land. Big time. The Land Report estimates the tightlipped Kelley owns 1.7 million acres. Most recently he's reported to have bulked up his holdings with ranchland in the Big Bend region of Texas.

#5 Irving family. Own: 1.2 million acres in Maine. Pictured: Arthur Irving.These Canadian descendants of a Scottish sawmill operator are secretive and all business. They've amassed roughly a 20th of the state of Maine and will plant 28 million seedlings this year to keep the timber coming.

#6 Singleton family. Own: 1.11 million acres in New Mexico. Henry Singleton was a brilliant engineer who co-founded Teledyne and began buying land in New Mexico in the mid-1980s. Now his heirs run the massive Singleton Ranches, headquartered in Santa Fe, one of the nation's biggest cattle and horse-breeding operations.

#7 King Ranch Heirs. Own: 911,215 acres in Texas and Florida. Henry King ran away from the drudgery of indentured servitude in New York to make his fortune as a steamboat captain. But his fame comes from the massive King Ranch, which he assembled in the 1800s. It sprawls across four counties, including ranching, hunting, farming and oil and gas operations.

#8 Pingree heirs. Own: 830,000 acres in Maine. The Pingree family, now into its seventh generation of timber management, is descended from a Massachusetts shipowner who decided to diversify into land in the 1800s. Pingrees are still actively cutting on their Maine properties, but in 2001 they sold a conservation easement to 762,000 acres to the New England Forestry Foundation for $28 million, or $37 an acre, to prevent any future development.

#9 Reed family. Own: 770,000 acres in Washington. Sol Simpson was a Canadian lumber raftman who immigrated to Nevada to find gold but made his fortune in Washington timber. Descendents of Simpson and Mark Reed, an early manager who married into the family, still run Simpson Investment Co., a diversified lumber-products company that owns hundreds of thousands of acres of timberland to help supply its raw materials.

#10 Stan Kroenke. Owns: 740,000 acres in Montana and Wyoming. Husband of Wal-Mart heiress Anne Walton, Kroenke has added to his growing sports franchise (St. Louis Rams, Denver Nuggets, England's Arsenal soccer team) by assembling ranchland in Montana and Wyoming. Kroenke's, Q Creek Ranch, at 570,000 acres, is the largest contiguous ranch in the Rocky Mountains.


AAEA would be willing to speculate that two to three of these individuals owns more land than all African Americans combined.

Between 1865 and 1915, African Americans purchased 15 million acres of land, most of it in the rural south.

Today black farmers own less than 2 million acres. (Lawyer's Committee, African American Land Loss)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument

President's Corner

By Norris McDonald

Martin Luther King, Jr. now stands tall on the National Mall and looks out over the Tidal Basin towards the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.  How fitting that Dr. King should be honored so.  It is a unique monument.  Very natural.  Very esthetic.  Very calming.

I met Harry Johnson at the monument.  He is the president and CEO of the MLK Jr. Memorial Foundation.  I also met Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at the memorial along with Bob Stanton (Senior Advisor to the Secretary) and Jon Jarvis (Director of the National Park Service).  These men cooperated to assure a wonderful tribute to Rev King.

"Free at last, free at last.  Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

Thank you Dr. King.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Marsha Coleman-Adebayo Story: The Video

SEC Writing 'Conflict Minerals' Rules for Corporations

Congress in ordering the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to write new rules intended to tackle a humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A law enacted last year calls for companies listed on U.S. stock markets to disclose whether their products contain “conflict minerals” — substances that originate in the DRC or neighboring countries. International trade in the minerals is fueling the brutality in the DRC.
Businesses have argued that the mandate, though inspired by the noblest of motives, would be costly and difficult to implement. The SEC has been having a hard time translating the law into a rule for companies to follow because of the complexities of global supply chains for products as varied as refrigerators, fighter jets, jewelry, biscuits (packaged in tin) and the chemical derivatives of minerals such as columbite-tantalite. The value of the minerals is being driven up by consumers’ insatiable appetite for iPads and BlackBerrys and cellphones.

Minerals are embedded in millions of parts from thousands of shifting suppliers and no manufacturer can trace these all the way back to the mine. Unreasonable requirements could cost the aerospace industry hundreds of millions — if not billions — of dollars, which would be passed on to customers such as the Defense Department

Companies want flexibility, for example, the ability to rely on statistical sampling.  Companies believe complying with it would be overwhelming, because some companies use tens of thousands of suppliers to make tens of thousands of products. Even discussing

Some believe the rule could unintentionally inflict economic harm on Africans. Should the disclosure requirement be limited to tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold? Or should it extend to niobium? Congress said it
should cover substances “necessary to the functionality or production” of manufactured items. What should the SEC do about ornamental embellishments or naturally occurring impurities? And should there be an exception for substances used in only tiny quantities?

The conflict minerals disclosure is not the only rule of its kind the SEC must write. The agency is also working on requirements that mine operators disclose health and safety violations and that companies involved in the development of oil, gas and minerals disclose payments they make to foreign governments.
These payments at times have become the subject of bribery investigations. (Wash Post, 10/19/2011)

Dr. James West Honored at John Hopkins University

Legendary Black Scientist Honored

Dr. James West
Scientists, mathematicians, engineers and doctors, Noble Prize winners, professors and other intellectuals came to John Hopkins University in Baltimore to honor a living legend in the field of science, Dr. James West, an ASI Fellow. At the age of 80, Dr. West has dedicated 60 years of his life to the advancement of science and to provide opportunities for minorities and women in the field of science.

Dr. West has over 250 patents, but his most significant invention is the electric microphone, which he along with German scientist, Gerhard Sessler invented in 1961. To this date the electric microphone has been made over a billion times and is used in cell phones, cameras and many other devices.

While at Temple University, West interned at Bell Labs where he would work after he graduated. West would wind up working at Bell Labs for over 40 years. During his time there, he would not only advance science but would provide many opportunities for African Americans, other minorities and women to follow in his footsteps, which he would continue to do as a professor at John Hopkins University.

Dr. West co-founded the Association of Black Laboratory Employees (ABLE), in order to provide give African Americans a chance to excel in the field of science. ABLE has helped to establish more that 500 Phds for minorities and women through a summer research program at Bell Labs.

Several of the people who James West provided opportunities for came to John Hopkins University to honor the man who had guided them. Some of the people who came to honor James West were 1996 physics Nobel Prize winner, Douglass Osheroff, 2008 Presidential Medal Of Freedom winner, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and Princeton Professor William Massey, who was a colleague of Dr. West’s at Bell Labs.

Dr. Massey showed James West’s legacy by bringing three African American protégés from the ABLE Bell Labs summer internship program to present scientific research in their various fields. Otis Jennings, a professor at Columbia Business School presented scientific research on the inequality of the American Justice system. Robert Hamshire, a professor at Carnegie Mellon presented research on energy saving through shared usage of public cars and bicycles.

James West’s legacy is firmly implanted in history. Not only did he win the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering, but he is also an inductee to the National Inventors Hall of Fame and one of Bill Nye The Science Guys “real cool scientists.” Still, the true test of Dr. West’s legacy is the hundreds of African American scientists he guided, mentored and inspired. (ASI-Org . net Press Release)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Funds to Support Internships to Develop Next Generation of Leaders

The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) today announced a $1 million grant from Walmart to support the CBCF/Walmart Emerging Leaders Internship Program. The announcement marks Walmart's renewed commitment to supporting deserving African-American college students who are interested in internships on Capitol Hill or with government agencies. Walmart has donated $2 million to this program since 2006.

The CBCF/Walmart Emerging Leaders Internship Program is a semester-long internship program that prepares participating students for careers in public service or the private sector. As a result of Walmart's funding, interns also receive a stipend and housing during their internships.

Walmart's first grant to the CBCF in 2006 - an initial $1 million, three-year grant, established the CBCF/Walmart Strive for Excellence Scholarship Program and the CBCF/Walmart Emerging Leaders Internship Program. The programs were created to provide students with the funding and experiences needed to reach their educational and career goals. Since 2007, more than 80 exceptional college-aged students have participated in the internship program.

The funding also supports the CBCF partnership with the George Washington University's Semester in Washington Program to give interns an opportunity to earn academic credit. This partnership offers a combination of hands-on coursework and networking opportunities with like-minded peers and professional politicos.

More information about CBCF's internship programs, application criteria and deadlines.

Herman Cain Wants To Close The U.S. EPA

Surely He's Kidding Again

We have not read presidential candidate Herman Cain's explanation about how he or the marketplace would protect our air, land and water.  The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act are no small matters. He would have to repeal all of those laws in order to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency.  The late President Richard Nixon must be turning over in his grave about this Cain proposal.  Nixon signed the law that created the EPA.  Nixon also signed all of the aforementioned environmental laws.  Of course, in the Republican camp, Nixon is no Reagan.

How would Herman Cain implement the requirements of the Clean Air Act without EPA?  Relaxing regulations are one thing, but leaving air pollution mitigation completely to the marketplace would be a disaster.  Don't get us wrong, AAEA is marketplace oriented.  Just look to the smog-filled skies of China for the reality of unbridled economic development without sufficient clean air regulations.  We are still baffled too about the flip flop of both parties on Cap-&-Trade.  First it was a Republican strategy and then it was a Democratic strategy.  Now it is not a strategy at all.  But we digress. 

How would Cain manage clean water permits?  Industry already self reports.  Does Cain really believe that unscrupulous companies would not maximize profits by indiscriminately dumping its waste into our waterways?  Come on Herman.  What about our drinking water plants and safe drinking water standards?  Does Herman really think the public will trust oversight of our drinking water systems to private companies? 

What about toxic wastes?  Would Mr. Cain get rid of all of the regulations that control the generation, transportation and disposal of hazardous wastes?  We don't think so.

So Mr. Cain is kidding again.  Plus, we know he could never do it anyway.  The legendary President Ronald Reagan came to Washington with grandiose plans to reform and reduce government.  He didn't do it.  In fact, Bill Clinton implemented more of Ronald Reagan's plans than the Gipper ever achieved.  Herman has to get the Republican nomination first.  And then he has to defeat the best politician in the history of the United States. 

AAEA is here to advise you Mr. Cain on energy and environmental issues if you are so inclined. Give us a call.  We are nonpartisan.  And stop joking around when it comes to protecting our environment.

What Would Ron Paul's Plan Mean To Black America?

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has released an 11-page "Plan To Restore America" that is full of budget cuts and spending freezes. Here is a 7-point summary of the plan:

1) Cuts $1 trillion in one year and more in following years through attrition.
2) Reduces other funding to 2006 levels.
3) Eliminates 5 cabinet secretaries (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education).
4) Block grants Welfare Programs to remove federal strings and let states work out their best solutions.
5) Eliminates subsidies and Corporate Welfare.
6) Slashes perks and salaries for congressman and Bureaucrats. President Paul will take a salary of around $39,000 per year, the median salary for an American worker.
7) The corporate tax rate would fall to 15% from the current 35%.

One thing is sure, Prince George's County, Maryland would be devastated.  It is the richest majority Black county in the United States because of those six-figure government jobs.  Paul would kill thousands of those jobs by closing 5 cabinet agencies and reducing the budgets of other agencies. 

Some of his other ideas might help Black America.  Cutting corporate tax rates would be beneficial.  Cutting the president's salary would be a symbolic gesture, however, when proposals such as this (along with getting rid of Air Force One and First Helicopter fleet) are proposed when there is the first black president, it can be perceived as being a bit biased.

Eliminating corporate welfare would be beneficial to everybody in America, including Black America. 

Paul wants to sell federal assets and federal lands.  This could be a major benefit to Black America because it could provide access, ownership and development of natural resources.

Paul keeps the Environmental Protection Agency but cuts the budget from $10 to $5.8 billion.  EPA should be able to get by with this amount, particularly when compared to the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of the Interior, which he eliminates.  Black America benefits from DOE's Weatherization and other conservation programs, but the largest parts of the agency's budget goes to other activities, such as nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons facilities cleanup.  Not much of that money going to blacks.  The same can be said of the Department of the Interior (DOI).  No black owned offshore oil and gas leases or any other  natural resources leases.  So does Black America need DOI?

HUD, Commerce and Education?  Most Blacks would probably say these agencies are beneficial.  But they do not seem to be making a dent in the Black unemployment rate and home ownership.  In fact, home foreclosures have decimated many Black communities. 

Maybe it is incumbent upon Blacks to more fully engage the marketplace to find solutions to intractable problems.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What Do We Do About Energy Now?

Green jobs and nuclear power had Renaissance potential for a minute.  Now both are sputtering.  What are we left with if these juggernauts are treading water.  Admittedly we need clean green jobs, but wind and solar hover around 1% in providing electricity compared to other sources.  The nuclear renaissance has produced relicenses for numerous commercial nuclear power plants.  Virtually all or most of the current fleet (104 plants) will be relicensed.  This is the equivalent of building new nuclear power plants. 

Clearly natural gas and coal will lead the way in new electricity generation.  That is the real world.  And American coal is a very valuable commodity in Asia, particularly China.  Hydraulic fracturing is being touted as the next new wave in natural gas production.  If it gets going seriously along the Marcellus Shale region, and if it lives up to industry expectations, natural gas could pick up several percentage points in terms of use.

Natural gas and coal currently make up 70% (20% and 50%, respectively) of electricity generation fuel.  Nuclear will remain steady at 20%.  Hydro provides another 8 percent with wind, solar and others making up 2% of the electricity production marketplace.  These percentages will probably remain stable.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

MLK Site, Occupy Wall Street, Bryant Park & Times Square


By Norris McDonald

This was an interesting week.  I visited four very interesting locations that represent significant history and current events.  It feels good to get on the road.  It feels good to look around and examine natural places.  And unknown faces.

I toured the 'Occupy Wall Street' headquarters (Occupy Together . org). It was 7 in the morning so the protesters were still in their sleeping bags in Zuccotti Park.  Zuccotti Park, formerly called Liberty Plaza Park, is a 33,000-square-foot rivately owned, publicly accessible park in Lower Manhattan in New York City. It is located between Broadway, Trinity Place, Liberty Street and Cedar Street. The park's northwest corner is across the street from the World Trade Center site.  I walked down Wall Street too, which is barricaded and not open to vehicle traffic. I wanted to go the the World Trade Center memorial site but you have to get tickets online first. Plus there is a lot of construction going on at the site.

I went to Bryant Park.  I love that park.  Beautiful and right in the heart of New York City.  Bryant Park is a 9.603 acre privately managed public park located in the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is bounded by Fifth Avenue, Sixth Avenue, 40th Street and 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan. Although part of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Bryant Park is managed by a private not-for-profit corporation, the Bryant Park Corporation.

I walked through Times Square and it was just a delight.  I go to Times Square often and it is always fun to soak up the surroundings.  Times Square is a major commercial intersection in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. The extended Times Square area, also called the Theatre District, consists of the blocks between Sixth and Eighth Avenues from east to west, and West 40th and West 53rd Streets from south to north, making up the western part of the commercial area of Midtown Manhattan.

One of my oldest friends, Mutter D. Evans, came to town to meet at The White House and to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial site. Mutter is also Godmother to my son, Sandy. I introduced Mutter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Senior Advisor to the Secretary Robert (Bob) Stanton, Director of Park Service Jon Jarvis and MLK, J.r Memorial Foundation President & CEO Harry E. Johnson. I  took a picture of them (below).

Bob Stanton, Jon Jarvis, Ken Salazar, Mutter Evans, Harry Johnson