Please Recycle; Not Just a Slogan

By: Siobhan Rahilly

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) – Recycling has become a more and more visible part of our daily lives in Chattanooga over the last few years.  Collection centers are sprinkled across the city and surrounding suburbs.  The UTC campus features a few well-placed cans in campus buildings, as well as recycling bins in all the dorms.

Energy efficiency has become a more common phrase, as well.  The 2 Northshore complex, home to Greenlife and Rock Creek Outfitters, is LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), as is the brand new Carmike movie theater in downtown Chattanooga.  Motion sensors have been installed in all UTC classrooms so that the lights will be automatically turned off when a room has been left empty.

Chattanooga even has a recycling mascot: Rocky the Recycling Racoon

Chattanooga's recycling mascot: Rocky the Recycling Raccoon

All of this attention to the environment is definitely needed, but how much attention are Chattanooga residents paying to the environment?  Trashcans in UTC classrooms are still full of bottles and cans.  Those trashcans are not sorted to remove recyclable materials the same way city trashcans are not sorted to remove recyclable materials.

Some Chattanooga residents have curbside pickup provided by the city.  “I have curbside recycling, every two weeks,” said Becca Stone, a North Chattanooga resident.  “Except for glass, which I take to Warner Park.  Why the city won’t pick up glass is beyond me.“

The reason for this is that people, with “human hands” sort recyclables at the Orange Grove recycling center.  Glass recyclables break easily in curbside pickup and the shards of glass that become mixed in with the plastic and paper recyclables could injure someone.

Vincent Betro is also a North Chattanooga resident, but he and his family have chosen to pay for curbside recycling.  Scenic City Recycling provides weekly residential recycle pickup for $15 per month, or $150 per year.  Going with this option means having your glass picked up along with your paper, plastics, cans, and even computers and small electronics.  Betro made the choice because it’s easier to have all of his recycling picked up at once, but also because he likes helping to create jobs and support Chattanooga’s recycling efforts.

Jaclynn Rhodes lives in East Ridge and doesn’t have curbside pickup, but still recycles anyway.  “I do not have curbside recycling, so I take my recycling to the many facilities around town.  I am thankful that Chattanooga has those.”  This is a refreshing thing to hear after seeing so many trashcans and dumpsters filled with aluminum cans and cardboard boxes.

Dr. David Aborn is a professor in UTC’s Department of Biological and Environmental sciences and is also a faculty advisor for the student group Ecological Decisions for a Global Environment (EDGE).  He says that initial recycling efforts in the dorms failed miserably because of a lack of education directed at the students in the dorms regarding how, where and what to recycle.

Green living

Green living

“Fast forward to 2007 when the campus environmental group, EDGE, successfully campaigned to have students vote in favor of a green fee.”  Students now pay ten dollars each per semester.  “A university-wide environmental task force that’s made up of faculty, staff and students was formed to oversee the spending of that money.”  In the fall of 2008, things were worked out with Orange Grove so that UTC could have a recycling program in the dorms and in the University Center.

The reason for putting recycling bins in those locations was that they were chosen as the highest traffic areas with the highest likelihood of recyclables needing to be tossed out.  Recycling bins have popped up here and there in a few additional spots on campus, but more money and more education is needed before the university can expand the campus recycling program.

Expanding the program also depends on the success of the program so far.  “If people have been participating, then we’ll start talking about expanding to other parts of campus,” Aborn said.  Both the library and Fletcher Hall requested recycling bins and have received them as part of the recycling initiative.

Some students, like Jennifer Long, rely mainly on a re-usable bottle like a Nalgene filled with water to get them through the day.  If Long purchases a bottle of juice from the UC, she’ll hold onto the bottle until she finds a recycling bin to toss it into.  When another option exists, sending a plastic bottle to a landfill just doesn’t seem like the smart thing to do.

Despite it being inconvenient to have to take glass to one of the recycling centers when she has curbside pickup for all the rest, Daisy Elliott, a Brainerd area resident, doesn’t mind.  When asked if she would still recycle if she had to take all of her recyclables to Warner Park, her closest recycling location, she said yes with no hesitation.  “We can’t keep burying our trash,” Elliott said.  “We can re-use instead of making new.”

Students who want to learn more about Chattanooga’s recycling programs and guidelines, as well as more information about recycling should head to any of the following sites for more information.

Students who live in the area or in the dorms should remember that the Warner Park recycling center is only a few blocks from the heart of campus.  Items that cannot be recycled on campus like batteries and old computer hardware can be recycled there.

Help make a difference

Help make a difference

While the statistics on recycling are encouraging, many feel that we could be doing more.  Those who make an active effort to recycle seem to agree that people need to be more aware that their actions affect the planet.  If one person decides to toss a bottle into a recycling bin instead of into the trash, that one person and that one bottle make a positive difference in and for the community.

For a related story on energy efficiency in Chattanooga, please see Brooke Fontana’s article on the new Carmike theatre.

A Treatise on Christmas

By: Siobhan Rahilly

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) – Christmas seems to come earlier every year.  Christmas trees pop up before the fall leaves drop.  Commercials for Christmas shopping begin airing in the late summer.  Christmas shopping itself has become one of America’s time-honored pastimes.

The day after Halloween is literally the day that Walmart begins rolling thousands of Christmas items out into their stores.  Has the emergence of an earlier Christmas season been the effect of a society with less free time?

Kmart encourages shoppers to begin their holidays early by utilizing their layaway program, meaning that parents can multitask by shopping for back-to-school items and presents for the holidays at the same time.  This allows parents to take their time squirreling away those holiday goodies.

The barrage of advertisements for toys, décor, decorations, and every other item that can possibly be associated with the holidays reaches a fever pitch by Thanksgiving, a day that has been co-opted by both Christmas and the NFL.  Our holiday season seems to be longer now, but perhaps more focused on the ephemeral aspects instead of the heart of the matter.

The holiday season is a time when families and friends gather for a quick batch of quality time amidst otherwise jam-packed schedules.  This holiday season may find more people focused on homemade memories than store-bought prizes due to the fragile status of our economy.  Despite the advertising and the stress that holidays can bring, this time of the year seems to still bring people joy.  Plastic decorations, and presents under the tree provide many of the glittering aspects of the holidays.  However, some magic does still come from the interactions of loved ones at this rushed, but still treasured time of the year.

Phils top Yanks in World Series opener

NEW YORK (The Loop/AP) — The ho-hum catch that tickled his teammates, the behind-the-back snag that looked so easy.

Cliff Lee could have been clowning around with his kids. Hard to believe it was Game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium, of all places.

Lee outdueled CC Sabathia, Chase Utley homered twice and the Philadelphia Phillies kept rolling through October, beating New York 6-1 on a misty Wednesday night in the opener.

“To be honest I really never have been nervous in the big leagues. This is what I wanted to do my whole life,” Lee said.

The defending champion Phillies shut down Alex Rodriguez & Co. in the first Series game at the new billion-dollar ballpark. Trying to become the first NL team to repeat since Cincinnati in 1975-76, the Phils’ 17-4 postseason run is the best in league history.

Big Red Machine, meet the New Red Machine.

“We have confidence. We know we have a good team,” Utley said.

Game 2 is Thursday night, with wily Pedro Martinez pitching for the Phillies against jumpy A.J. Burnett.

Lee bamboozled the Yankees with a spiked curveball, deceptive changeup and his usual pinpoint fastball, pitching a six-hitter while striking out 10 without a walk. He became the first since Don Newcombe in 1949 to fan double digits with no walks in a Series game.

The lefty blanked the Yankees until a run scored on shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ throwing error in the ninth inning. Lee improved to 3-0 with an 0.54 ERA this postseason.

He really seemed to enjoy himself, too.

“Game time is the time go out there and have fun and let your skills take over. It’s kind of weird. Boils down to confidence and trusting your teammates,” he said.

If Lee felt any anxiety in his Series debut, facing the team that led the majors in wins, homers and runs, it didn’t show. And if the Phillies were supposed to be intimidated by the pictures of Babe Ruth and all the Yankees greats on the giant videoboard, it didn’t happen.

Pitching in short sleeves on a blustery evening, Lee worked a wad of gum while he worked his spell over the Yanks.

Lee did a lot of the work himself. When Johnny Damon hit a little popup to the mound, Lee merely stuck out his glove hand to the side and caught the ball as if it were an apple falling from a tree.

“You know, it was pretty cool,” Lee said. “It was 15 feet in the air. Pretty simple catch. It came right to me.”

That play left the Phillies laughing. Later, he made a nifty, behind-the-back stop on Robinson Cano’s one-hopper. He threw the ball to first and shrugged. Easy.

That play stumped Ryan Howard.

“I was like … wow. Am I missing something? It was so nonchalant, so casual,” the Phillies first baseman said.

Said Lee: “I try not to go over the edge and be cocky.”

Howard reprised his NL championship series MVP performance, doubling twice and driving in the final run. Barely looking like the 2-to-1 underdogs they are, the Phillies were in such control that many fans left before the final out.

Lee beat his good friend and former Cy Young teammate Carsten Charles Sabathia in the first game at this ballpark back in April, and got this chance after the Phillies traded four minor leaguers to Cleveland in July to get him.

Rodriguez went hitless and struck out three times in his Series debut.

“I did keep it simple today. He kept it even more simple,” Rodriguez said. “He threw the ball well. When a guy comes out like that, you tip your cap and move on. He made some pretty good pitches.”

Derek Jeter did the most damage against Lee, doubling and singling twice.

“He was great. He’s been pitching like that the whole year, the last two years, the postseason,” Jeter said. “I don’t think it’s much of a surprise.”

So Game 1 went to the Phils. But as Yankees manager Joe Girardi observed, “One thing, he can’t pitch every day.”

Playing in their 40th World Series, and first in six years, the Yankees went quickly. “As the game went on, it got quieter,” Utley said.

Utley’s solo home runs in the third and sixth innings gave Lee all the support he needed. Raul Ibanez hit a two-run single in the eighth and Shane Victorino added an RBI single in the ninth.

The Phillies’ may have been a bit overdue — in their only other October meeting, the Whiz Kids from Philadelphia got swept by the Yankees in the 1950 World Series and totaled just five runs.

Even though he’s an All-Star, Utley was an unlikely candidate to rock Sabathia, the MVP of the ALCS. Utley was 0 for 7 with five strikeouts against the big Yankees lefty going into the game.

Utley won a nine-pitch duel with Sabathia in the third, pulling a 95 mph fastball barely over the right-field wall. The shot was the first by a left-hander allowed by Sabathia at home this year.

Utley struck again in the sixth, sending another 95 mph heater deep into the right-center field bleachers.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had little to do except watch from the top step of the dugout. Girardi was busier, bringing in five relievers after Sabathia left following the seventh inning with Phillies ahead 2-0.

First lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden were among the crowd of 50,207, as were a few specks of fans dressed in Phillies red. Yankees owner George Steinbrenner watched from an upstairs box — he has yet to see his team win in the palace he built.

After a rocky postseason, umpires faced just one tricky call and got it right. They huddled after Rollins trapped a popup and threw to first, and correctly ruled it a double play.

NOTES: Besides Lee and Newcombe, the only pitcher to strike out at least 10 without a walk was Deacon Phillippe in the first Series game in 1903, STATS said. … Utley set a postseason record by safely reaching in his 26th straight game, breaking a tie with Baltimore’s Boog Powell. “I didn’t know that happened,” he said. … Before Utley, the only other left-handed hitter to homer twice off a lefty pitcher in a Series game was Babe Ruth in 1928 off Bill Sherdel of the Cardinals. … The last six teams to win the Series opener won the title. … Rodriguez fanned three times in a game for the first time since July 30. The last pitcher to strike him out three times in a game was Cole Hamels of the Phillies on May 24. … The Yankees went 64-36 in Series games at their old park.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Small Business Survives Hard Times

By: Siobhan Rahilly

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) – The New Moon Gallery opened on the new moon in June of 1989.  Over twenty years later, this local business has survived two moves and economic roller coasters to become a fixture in Chattanooga.

Colored glass to color your world

Colored glass to color your world

The first location of New Moon, as it is affectionately called, was on Tennessee Avenue in St. Elmo.  The space was roughly 300 square feet, or just a bit bigger than the back room at the current New Moon location.  It began as a joint project between seven partners, including David Wheeler, the current and sole owner of New Moon.  Each one of the partners had different interests that were highlighted in the inventory that New Moon carried.  There was a feeling that Chattanooga needed a bookstore where different titles could be found.

“I knew of some galleries in California and in Asheville, N.C., and some bookstores that I was really fond of, so I thought it would be cool to combine those aspects,” Wheeler said.  Wheeler had always been interested in music and art, and made things from leather goods to baskets.  In fact, most of the wood furniture that can be found at New Moon was made by Wheeler specifically for the store to hold pottery, jewelry, and myriad other treasures.

Over the course of the six years that New Moon was in St. Elmo, the business expanded three times until it took up the entire building.  It evolved from a tiny business run entirely by its founding partners to a one-man operation that had a staff and had finally started to turn a profit.  By 1995 New Moon was ready to move to 36 Frazier Avenue on Chattanooga’s North Shore.  “Moving to Frazier was probably the best thing for the store; much easier access for a lot more people,” Wheeler said.  While New Moon was now in a more visible location, the area was very different than it is today.  Coolidge Park did not yet exist – there was simply a gravel lot behind the store.

As Chattanooga continued to beautify its downtown and North Shore areas, more businesses and restaurants sprang up on Frazier Avenue.  This was great for business, but led to the eventual and continuing problem of parking.  Parking became a real issue, Wheeler said, mainly because the people who worked over there used so much of the parking space.  While Wheeler opposed the installation of parking meters, he notes that it did solve the employee parking problem.

Tote bags that carry messages

Tote bags that carry messages

In 2007, after 12 years on Frazier, New Moon moved to its current location at 307 Manufacturer’s Road.  New Moon moved to the Two Northshore complex not only to once again expand its business, but to be in an environmentally friendly environment.  The Two Northshore complex is LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  Much of the materials used to construct the complex were recycled or reclaimed from old buildings, the rainwater is recycled for irrigation, and all the buildings have energy-efficient heating and air systems.  Being environmentally aware and being a part of that type of business complex was a factor for Wheeler.  Free parking and plenty of it didn’t hurt either.

New Moon had been in its new location for about two months when the economy “tanked” in January 2008.  Business “has bumped along since then.  It’s not been an exceptional two years, but we’re still here,” Wheeler said.  He is optimistic that the economy will turn around, and he sympathizes with people who are afraid to spend money because they’re afraid that they might lose their job or home.  He knows exactly how they feel.

People are still very supportive of New Moon and make an effort to shop there.  Wheeler stresses that while it’s not all about money, it does have to be a concern when it comes to being able to keep the doors open.  He hopes to continue to bring more and different kinds of things to Chattanooga.  The better business is, the more artists we can support, and the funkier we can make it, Wheeler said.  There was a time when people who were into music and art would leave Chattanooga, because there was nothing here.  Wheeler grew up in Chattanooga, has family here, and thought that staying in Chattanooga and trying to do something would be better than moving.

new moon 4

Just for the smell of it

New Moon has been a labor of love through all of its twenty-plus years.  As an employee, but more importantly a devotee of New Moon, I encourage people to visit the store; if for no other reason, than to walk in and be greeted by the amazing smell created by the wall of incense and stacks of fragrant candles.

Visit New Moon on its brand new Facebook page for updates and more pictures.

‘Critical Habitat’ Designated for Polar Bear

WASHINGTON (AP/The Loop) — The Obama administration said Thursday it is designating more than 200,000 square miles in Alaska and off its coast as “critical habitat” for polar bears, an action that could add restrictions to future offshore drilling for oil and gas.

Federal law prohibits agencies from taking actions that may adversely affect critical habitat and interfere with polar bear recovery.

Assistant Interior Secretary Tom Strickland called the habitat designation a step in the right direction to help polar bears stave off extinction, while recognizing that the greatest threat to the bear is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change.

“As we move forward with a comprehensive energy and climate strategy, we will continue to work to protect the polar bear and its fragile environment,” Strickland said at a news conference.

The total area proposed for critical habitat designation would cover about 200,541 square miles — about half in the rugged Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast. About 93 percent of the area proposed for the polar bear is sea ice, with the remaining 7 percent made up of barrier islands or land-based dens of snow and ice.

Designation as critical habitat would not, in itself, bar oil or gas development, but would make consideration of the effect on polar bears and their habitat an explicit part of any government-approved activity.

Thursday’s announcement starts a 60-day public comment period, with a final rule expected next year. Interior faces a June 30 deadline for critical habitat designation under terms of a settlement agreement between the government and three environmental groups.

The Bush administration last year declared polar bears “threatened,” or likely to become endangered. The May 2008 order by then-Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne cited the bear’s need for sea ice, the dramatic loss of such ice in recent decades and computer models that suggest sea ice is likely to recede further in the future.

Environmental groups hailed the habitat announcement, but noted that it came in the same week that the Interior Department approved a plan by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell to drill exploratory wells on two leases in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s north coast. The proposed drilling sites are within the area proposed for critical habitat designation.

“If polar bears are to survive in a rapidly melting Arctic, we need to protect their critical habitat, not turn it into a polluted industrial zone,” said Brendan Cummings, a lawyer with the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity, which filed a lawsuit in the polar bear case.

Cummings called the Interior Department “schizophrenic” — on the one hand declaring its intent to protect polar bear habitat in the Arctic, yet at the same time “sacrificing that habitat to feed our unsustainable addiction to oil.”

The announcement comes one day after the state of Alaska filed a new complaint in its effort to overturn the listing of the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin filed suit last year, saying that Interior did not respond to the state’s concerns in a timely manner before listing the polar bears as threatened. State officials say the listing could cripple offshore oil and gas development in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, which provide prime habitat for the polar bears.

Gov. Sean Parnell, who succeeded Palin upon her resignation last summer, said the Endangered Species Act was being used as a way to shut down resource development along Alaska’s northern coast. Parnell said he does not intend to let that happen.

Environmental groups monitoring the Arctic have long complained that federal regulators routinely grant permits for petroleum exploration without adequately considering consequences for whales, polar bears, walrus and other marine mammals. They say boats, drilling platforms and aircraft will add to bears’ stress by causing them to flee and expend more energy.

Conservation groups also say oil companies have not demonstrated they can clean up an oil spill in broken ice. Cleanup off Alaska’s coast could be slowed by extreme cold, moving ice, high wind and low visibility.

Andrew Wetzler of the Natural Resources Defense Council said designation of critical habitat is a powerful tool to protect threatened species, but said more must be done to save the polar bear from extinction.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Unsafe abortions kill 70,000 annually

NEW YORK (The Loop/AP) — Increased contraceptive use has led to fewer abortions worldwide, but deaths from unsafe abortion remain a severe problem, killing 70,000 women a year, a research institute reported Tuesday in a major global survey.

More than half the deaths, about 38,000, are in sub-Saharan Africa, which was singled out as the region with by far the lowest rates of contraceptive use and the highest rates of unintended pregnancies.

The report, three years in the making, was compiled by the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights and is a leading source of data on abortion-related trends. Researchers examined data from individual countries and multinational organizations.

The institute’s president, Sharon Camp, said she was heartened by the overall trends since Guttmacher conducted a similar survey in 1999, yet expressed concern about the gap revealed in the new report.

“In almost all developed countries, abortion is safe and legal,” she said. “But in much of the developing world, abortion remains highly restricted, and unsafe abortion is common and continues to damage women’s health and threaten their survival.”

The report calls for further easing of developing nations’ abortion laws, a move criticized by Deirdre McQuade, a policy director with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

“We need to be much more creative in assisting women with supportive services so they don’t need to resort to the unnatural act of abortion,” she said.

Guttmacher estimated previously that the number of abortions worldwide fell from 45.5 million in 1995 to 41.6 million in 2003 — the latest year for which global figures were available.

A key reason for that drop, the new report said, was that the portion of married women using contraception increased from 54 percent in 1990 to 63 percent in 2003 as availability increased and social mores changed. Guttmacher’s researchers said contraceptive use had increased in every major region, but still lagged badly in Africa — used by only 28 percent of married women there, compared with at least 68 percent in other major regions.

The report notes that abortions worldwide are declining even as more countries liberalize their abortion laws. Since 1997, it said, only three countries — Poland, Nicaragua and El Salvador — substantially increased restrictions on abortion, while laws were eased significantly in 19 countries and regions, including Cambodia, Nepal and Mexico City.

Despite this trend, the report said 40 percent of the world’s women live in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, virtually all of them in the developing world. This category includes 92 percent of the women in Africa and 97 percent in Latin America, it said.

The survey concluded that abortion occurs at roughly equal rates in countries where it is legal and where it is highly restricted. The key difference, according to the report, is the high rate of deaths and medical complications from unsafe clandestine abortions in the restrictive countries.

“Legal restrictions do not stop abortion from happening. They just make the procedure dangerous,” Camp said. “Too many women are maimed or killed each year because they lack legal abortion access.”

In one example, the report told of a Nigerian woman named Victoria who first tried to induce an abortion by drinking an herbal concoction, then consulted a traditional healer who inserted leaves in her vagina that caused internal injuries.

The report estimated that 19.7 million of the 41.6 million abortions in 2003 were unsafe — either self-induced, performed by unskilled practitioners or carried out in unhygienic surroundings.

“Almost all of them occurred in less developed countries with restrictive abortion laws,” said the report, which estimated that — beyond the tens of thousands of women killed annually from unsafe abortions — another 8 million women suffer complications because of them.

The report makes three major recommendations:

  • Expand access to modern contraceptives and improve family planning services.
  • Expand access to legal abortion and ensure that safe, legal abortion services are available to women in need.
  • Improve the coverage and quality of post-abortion care, which would reduce maternal death and complications from unsafe abortion.

Camp, in an interview, said sub-Saharan Africa is the area of greatest concern to Guttmacher and like-minded groups. The status of women remains low in many of those countries, she said, while political and religious conservatives block efforts to liberalize abortion laws.

Although the Vatican remains officially opposed to use of contraceptives, Camp said her institute had detected a shift in approach.

“The Catholic Church has informally at least stopped fighting against contraception to the degree it once did and put more of its energies into fighting abortion,” she said. “On the ground there are priests and nuns who refer people to family planning services.”

McQuade, of the Catholic Bishops Conference, said any priest or nun making such referrals was veering from church policy. She contended that use of artificial contraception could increase a women’s health risks and said they would fare better using natural family planning methods approved by the church.

Overall, the report is “a good news/bad news story,” said Susan Cohen, the Guttmacher Institute’s director of government affairs, who hailed the decline in abortions and unintended pregnancies.

“The bad news is that where most of the poor women live, throughout the developing world, unsafe abortion remains high, and women are dying as a result of it,” she said. “It’s so preventable, and that’s the tragedy.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Financial Aid Woes? Help is Here

By: Siobhan Rahilly

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) – The financial aid office wants you to know that they are here to help.  With more students on campus than ever before coupled with a sagging economy, students are facing tougher financial challenges when it comes to paying for college.

The staff in UTC’s financial aid office is aware of how tough it can be to wade through all the paperwork and websites that students have to deal with when applying for financial aid, grants, scholarships and loans.

The FAFSA (Free Application For Student Aid), should be filled out by every incoming and current student every year that they are enrolled in college.  The FAFSA, however, uses your family’s financial information from the previous year’s tax returns.  Given the current unemployment situation in the country, students need to know that a negative change in their financial situation does not spell certain doom.

Dianne Cox, the director of financial aid at UTC urges students to be aware that if their family’s financial situation has changed because a parent has lost a job, they can come in and have their eligibility for aid reviewed.  “A student may be receiving aid based on a parent’s situation last year, which if the parent has lost a job, then that’s something that we can help a student with, going through what’s called an income adjustment to reflect that the family’s situation has changed and now the family doesn’t have the same ability to pay as they had the year before.”

However, if a student is receiving all the federal and state aid available to them, as well as taking advantage of scholarships and grants, but is still falling behind financially, there is only so much the financial aid office can do.  It is at this point that a student should consider alternative or private loans.  Cox says that this may not be what students want to hear, but that may be the main thing the financial aid office can offer at that point.

Pat Boyer is an Accounting Specialist in the bursar’s office at UTC.  Being in the office where students come to pay their tuition and collect their refunds at the beginning of every semester, she knows a thing or two about the financial process, although she reminds students that, “This is where the checks are distributed, not where the money is.”

Boyer urges students to make sure that they’ve got all their financial aid paperwork in order before the semester starts.  “Get all your ducks in a row,” Boyer says, referring to the need for diligence when it comes to submitting correct paperwork to the financial aid office.  She also recommends that students work with the financial aid office when problems arise.

Cox’s advice for students who are feeling frustrated is to make an appointment to talk with someone in the financial aid office.  “We can do that for them, and sometimes at that point, that’s just really what they need to do, just sit down and talk through it with somebody.  Because sometimes you do just feel like, maybe I’m getting an answer but still it’s just not all coming together for me.”

She also urges students to become self-advocates, and to be proactive when it comes to seeking out the answers to their financial questions, whether it’s through the financial aid office directly, or through one of the many websites designed to guide students through the financial aid process.

Students should visit these websites to find more information about financial aid, federal loans, grants, private loans and scholarships:

For a related story, please see: Students Missing Money?

Senate climate bill tougher than House version

By: Siobhan Rahilly


A 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions should be attainable by 2020 based on the six percent reduction already achieved since 2005.

A 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions should be attainable by 2020 based on the six percent reduction already achieved since 2005.

Loop/AP) — A Senate climate bill calls for a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2020, deeper than the reductions mandated by the House but also includes stronger measures to try to avoid energy price spikes, according to a draft of the bill.

The draft obtained by The Associated Press, remains subject to change. But the overall carbon reduction requirements are expected to stand. The Democratic bill is to be released Wednesday by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee with a vote by the panel likely in late October.

The draft includes an economy-wide cap and trade system that would require power plants, industrial facilities and refineries to cut carbon dioxide and other climate changing pollution. While there would be an overall emission cap, polluters would be able to purchase emissions allowances to limit reductions. But the Senate bill does not lay out how emission allowances would be distributed, leaving that for later.

The bill is viewed widely as an early focus of Senate negotiations over climate in the coming months, but just a starting point as Democratic leaders seek to work out compromises — adding new provisions and dropping others — to garner the 60 votes that will be needed for passage.

The 800-page draft calls for a ceiling on greenhouse gas emissions beginning in three years, to be tightened annually so that emissions would be 20 percent lower in 2020 than they were in 2005. Emissions would have to be 83 percent lower by 2050. While the long-term cuts are the same as required by the House in June, the Senate bill has a faster early ramp-up, something many in industry had wanted to avoid. The House called for a 17 percent emission cut by 2020 and President Barack Obama originally had sought only a 14 percent cut.

But Democratic aides involved in crafting the bill said the legislation also includes measures that would make early reductions easier to achieve. And, they argued that information released since the House acted shows carbon dioxide emissions in the United States today already are 6 percent lower than what they were in 2005, a reduction attributed largely to the economic recession.

The bill also includes provisions that its sponsors argue would help avoid severe energy price spikes as the economy shifts more and more away from cheaper fossil fuels, especially coal for electricity production. The bill, for example, calls for more emission allowances to be held in reserve so they can be made available if energy prices soar, said the Democratic aides who spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the bill’s release.

The Democratic bill will be co-sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., the environment committee’s chairman, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., two of the Senate’s strongest advocates for aggressive action to counter global warming. It is expected to be taken up, and likely be approved, by Boxer’s committee in the coming weeks despite opposition from GOP members.

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the committee’s ranking Republican and a sharp critic of climate legislation, said he expects that Democrats will be able to push the bill through committee. But he urged Boxer to have a “fair, open and transparent process” and not add key parts of the bill “at the last minute” as did House Democrats.

As the draft began to circulate Wednesday among environmental organizations, it became clear the legislation is viewed by both supporters and opponents as largely a beginning for what is expected to be intense and difficult discussions and debate among senators in the coming months over climate legislation.

“It’s a starting point for negotiations,” said Anthony Kreindler, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, a leading proponent of cap-and-trade measures to deal with climate. “There are going to be efforts to strengthen it and efforts to weaken it.”

While a stronger bill than the one passed by the House, it leaves gaps to be filled, said David Doniger, climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “It’s a bill with all comers in mind,” he said.

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s trade group, said the bill fails to make clear how it will constrain carbon dioxide emissions and “appears to be following the (House) pattern … which resulted in a political bidding process that picked winners and losers.”

Republicans, with the exception of a few, have voiced strong opposition to cap-and-trade climate legislation calling it a massive energy tax on consumers as energy prices increase amid the shift away from fossil fuels. And many centrist Democrats — especially from rural areas and from states with energy intensive industries — have expressed reluctance to support any bill that does not protect against energy cost spikes and protect domestic industries.

The Senate draft does not spell out how emission allowances will be distributed, leaving one of the most contentious issues to further negotiations. The House would provide for free 85 percent of emission allowances to various industries, especially electric utilities to help reduce the cost to consumers.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press

Students Missing Money?

By: Siobhan Rahilly

CHATTANOOGA, TN (UTC/The Loop) Three out of four UTC students receive some form of financial assistance.  But how does that break down for the students who rely on financial aid?

Some students receive aid that covers the majority or entirety of their tuition plus living expenses. Others rely on grants, scholarships and loans to supplement their income as they work their way through college.

With the economy still looking bad, have students run into problems getting the financial aid that they need? Jennifer Long, a sophomore from Nashville, relies on federal and private loans so that she can carry a full course load and focus on school, not a full-time job.

When she was denied her loans at the beginning of this semester she was stunned. “Because I dropped to half-time status at UTC last semester I was denied the loans that I rely on for this semester, despite the fact that I get great grades in my classes.”

Other students have been running into similar problems when it comes to paying for a college education. Some, like Long, are lucky enough to have parents who can help out. “Without assistance from my family, I wouldn’t have been able to pay my tuition this semester, not to mention paying for books and other expenses,” Long said.

Students who are falling short when it comes to paying for college can visit the UTC financial aid website. The financial aid office has provided links to websites where students can search for grants and scholarships like and These sites also provide answers and guides for students who may be confused about how to pay for college.

For a related story, please see: Financial Aid Woes? Help Is Here

G-20 opponents, police clash on Pittsburgh streets

By: Siobhan Rahilly

PITTSBURGH (TheLoop/AP) — Police threw canisters of pepper spray and smoke at marchers protesting the Group of 20 summit Thursday after anarchists responded to calls to disperse by rolling trash bins and throwing rocks.

The march turned chaotic at just about the same time that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived for a meeting with leaders of the world’s major economies.

The clashes began after hundreds of protesters, many advocating against capitalism, tried to march from an outlying neighborhood toward the convention center where the summit is being held.

Police in riot gear stood guard near the protesters, who banged on drums and chanted “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ’cause the power of the people don’t stop.”

The hundreds of marchers included small groups of self-described anarchists, some wearing dark clothes and bandanas and carrying black flags. Others wore helmets and safety goggles.

Some held a banner that read, “No borders, no thanks.” Another banner read, “No hope in capitalism.” A few minutes into the march, protesters unfurled a large banner reading “NO BAILOUT NO CAPITALISM” with an encircled “A,” a recognized sign of anarchists.

The marchers did not have a permit and, after a few blocks, police declared it an unlawful assembly. They played an announcement over a loudspeaker telling people to leave or face arrest and then moved in to break it up.

Protesters split into smaller groups. Some rolled large metal trash bins toward police, and a man in a black hooded sweat shirt threw rocks at a police car, breaking the front windshield. Some protesters used pallets and corrugated steel to block a road. Police said the windows at one bank branch were broken.

Officers fired pepper spray and smoke at the protesters. Some of those exposed to the pepper spray coughed and complained that their eyes were watering and stinging.

About an hour after the clashes started, the police and protesters were at a standoff. Police sealed off main thoroughfares to downtown. Some of the protesters were seen ducking into alleyways to change out of their all-black clothing and then milling about in the street.

Twenty-one-year-old Stephon Boatwright, of Syracuse, N.Y., wore a mask of English anarchist Guy Fawkes and walked up and down in front of a line of riot police yelling at them. He then sat cross-legged about eight feet from the riot line, telling the police to let the protesters through and to join their cause.

“You’re actively suppressing us. I know you want to move,” Boatwright yelled, to applause from the protesters gathered around him.

Protesters complained that the march had been peaceful and that police were trampling on their right to assemble.

“We were standing there. We were barely even protesting. We were really just watching the line,” said T.J. Amick, 22, of Pittsburgh. “Then all of a sudden, they come up and tell us we’re gathered illegally and start using force, start banging their shields, start telling us we’re going to be arrested and tear gassed. But we’re just standing there watching them. We haven’t broken any laws.”

Bret Hatch, 26, of Green Bay, Wis., was carrying an American flag and a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.

“This is ridiculous. We have constitutional rights to free speech,” he said.

The march had begun at a city park, where an activist from New York City, dressed in a white suit with a preacher’s collar, started it off with a speech through a bullhorn.

“They are not operating on Earth time. … They are accommodating the devil,” he said. “To love democracy and to love the earth is to be a radical now.”

The activist, Billy Talen, travels the country preaching against consumerism. He initially identified himself as “the Rev. Billy from the Church of Life After Shopping.”

The G-20 summit begins Thursday evening with a welcome ceremony and ends late Friday afternoon after a day of meetings at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Dignitaries were arriving in waves and were heading to a city under heavy security. Police and National Guard troops guarded many downtown intersections, and a maze of tall metal fences and concrete barriers shunted cars and pedestrians.


Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.