Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oakland, Be a Good Citizen in the Fight for Health

 Margaret Gordon. Courtesy of

Be a good citizen and fight for the rights of decent, it might be the motto that you want to convey by this nice lady, Margaret Gordon.

As a resident of West Oakland, Margaret Gordon was used to living with pollution. Soot-spewing diesel trucks carrying goods to and from the port there routinely crisscrossed her neighborhood, or even worse, idled for long stretches on city streets. The area is dotted with industrial facilities, many of them older and more polluting. Like Gordon, who has asthma, many of the residents there live with respiratory problems. When three of her 10 grandchildren developed asthma, Gordon began to wonder if the environment was making her family sick.

Twelve years ago, at the age if 51, she became a volunteer with a neighborhood resident research project to measure “indicators” of well-being and quality of life, such as air quality, that could be tracked over time to see if the situation improves.

The neighborhood research project sought to turn residents into citizen-scientists, not use them as passive subjects. They came up with their own study questions and could use the data to advocate for change in their neighborhood.

That decision put Gordon on the path to become a community health advocate and researcher. She founded the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, training residents and youth to analyze their surroundings through a research lens. Over the years, Gordon has grown her reputation in the Bay Area as a passionate and effective community health advocate, who has the ability to bring diverse stakeholders together toward a common goal. Gordon is the first community resident appointed to the Port of Oakland commission, a powerful decision-making body that sets policies affecting thousands of residents. And now Gordon, 63, was just honored with a Purpose Prize, a prestigious award given to social innovators 60 and over, and will receive a $100,000 prize.

Two of the most “eye-opening” findings from the initial environmental indicators research project, Gordon said, were the following: In 1998, West Oakland had the highest level of toxic air releases of any neighborhood in the city, and children there were seven times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than other children in the state.

Gordon says the data verified what residents were experiencing, but more importantly it gave the community ammunition to confront policymakers.

“With the knowledge of science, we could communicate on a technical level with them,” she said. “We weren’t in this place of [being uninformed] and saying, ‘What are you talking about?'”

The data showed that one of the biggest polluters in the neighborhood was the former Red Star Yeast facility. The factory was dumping 30,000 pounds of acetaldehyde, a possible carcinogen, into the surrounding area, according to Brian Beveridge, co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicator’s Project.

“[Emissions from the plant] were hard on people,” said Beveridge. “It’s an irritant for people who had a respiratory problem, and so many in West Oakland had asthma.”

He said neighbors had complained to the regional air quality officials, but the complaint process back then made it difficult to document the pollution. Beveridge said inspectors would be sent out after five complaints, but they weren’t always on the clock when the releases happened, sometimes during the night.

The factory had been around for decades, so its air permits were “grandfathered,” Beveridge said, allowing it to perform less stringent air quality standards. Gordon and community members pushed the company to upgrade their facility.

“We’re not anti-business,” said Gordon. “We’re trying to make the community healthier. So businesses that do harm to the community should go someplace else to do business or put technology in place where you’re not doing harm to the community.” Red Star Yeast shut down in 2003.

Since then, Gordon’s organization has worked with residents to tackle the issue of diesel truck pollution in West Oakland, where there are 10,000 truck trips per day. To get more fine-grain data about truck routes, the residents-turned-researchers staked out busy street intersections or freeway on- and off-ramps and counted the number of trucks that went by.

The organization used the truck-count data to develop a plan to re-route trucks away from places with many people or children, such as schools. The group spearheaded the city’s first truck route ordinance.

Beveridge described Gordon as “tireless” and a believer in self-education.

“The key to how I see Margaret teach, she often tells people, ‘you need to see it, lay your hands on it, see reality in context, and you can’t sit and expect someone to tell it all to you. You have to commit some time to your own self-education,’” he said.

Gordon makes a point of saying that she doesn’t have academic credentials. “I’ve never taken a biology class," she said, "but I’ve learned a lot of science in the last 12 years.”

A few years ago, Gordon was nominated for a public service award and received $10,000. She used the money to subsidize an internship at a community organization to improve her writing and advocacy skills.

“Someone else would have bought a new car," said Beveridge. "Margaret will find an education experience for herself."

“Margaret is an amazing advocate for the community, and she’s just really blossomed in this role,” said Meena Palaniappan of the Pacific Institute, which sponsors the indicators project. “It’s amazing the way she’s able to connect with actors on many different sides of the issue. As a member of the port commission, she interacts with people with a clear economic interest, and she’s able to verbalize and articulate the community perceptive in a compelling and convincing way.”

In January, the Port of Oakland implemented a state mandate to phase out older, more-polluting diesel trucks. Gordon’s presence on the board, Palaniappan says, ensured that the regulations were adopted in a way that benefits the communities who are most impacted by port pollution.

What’s the West Oakland Environmental Indicator’s Project’s next research question: “What’s in the air we breathe,” said Beveridge, who said the group is working with technology company Intel to test mobile devices that will allow residents to monitor air quality in real-time.

Beveridge says the goal is to compare the data they collect with that collected by the regional air quality agency, which takes air samples in towers located two-miles apart and hundreds of feet in the air.

“From that they tell us what the air in like in the air basin, so it’s always been an interest to know what do we really breathe,” said Beveridge. “Everybody breathes the same air, but there’s some local variation. Is it worse where we live.” He says the data they are collecting could reveal “pockets of pollution” that may arise if people are next to a factory, for example.

Residents plan to meet with regional air quality officials to share their findings, and push for changes.

“As long as we don’t have public education, we’ll always have disproportionate impacts on how policy is going to be formed,” Gordon said. “It is important for those who have the sophisticated capacity and resources to come back to the most vulnerable communities and…support what they are doing.”

“I’m just working and doing my job to leave other people with the same kind of education.”

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Chrysler 300C "Real Muscle American style"

The history ofChrysler Company was founded by Walter Chrysler (1875–1940) on June 6, 1925, when the Maxwell Motor Company (est. 1904) was re-organized into the Chrysler Corporation.

Walter Chrysler had originally arrived at the ailing Maxwell-Chalmers company in the early 1920s, having been hired to take over and overhaul the company's troubled operations (just after a similar rescue job at the Willys car company). In late 1923 production of the Chalmers automobile was ended.

And now 300C launch is currently scheduled for December 23, 2010. An eight-speed automatic is reportedly to be available late in the year, as we predicted, but it seems to be optional even in non-SRT8 trim; a model so equipped can reportedly hit 30 mpg.

The base models will have a V6 pushing out 292 horsepower, with better highway mileage than the 2010 V6. The optional Hemi will go up slightly to 363 horsepower, but gas mileage reportedly increased. There are to be four models (and a possible SRT8): Touring (with V6), Limited (with V6, leather, heated front seats, fog lamps, backup camera, 18-inch chrome wheels, bright door handles, and more), 300C (standard V8), and 300C AWD.

Oh2o wrote that “Chrysler is going to launch a new series of large-screen radios in several 2011 models, which will feature an 8.4" touch screen, with and without navigation. The new radios will be offered in the 2011 Dodge Charger, 2011 Chrysler 300, and 2011 Dodge Journey. 8.4" non-nav touch-screen radios will be standard and the 740N navigation version will be an option on some models and standard on others.”

Pricing data from a yet-unconfirmed source suggests that the 300 will start at around $33,000, in Touring form; the Limited adds nearly $7,000, and the 300C checks in at a starting price of around $42,000. AWD, available only on 300C, adds around $2,200. The 392 SRT8, if it appears at all, will do so as a 2012 model.

How close is the photo above? A source said, “The lines have been refined. They focused on the weaknesses. The grille was addressed. The interior is different from the spy shots now, the steering wheel is a little different, and the speedometer is more refined. The gauge cluster looks like a contemporary Swiss watch.”

On the inside, we were told not surprisingly to expect much better materials, fit, and finish. The flat instrument cluster and straight, square dashboard have been replaced, with the new one having more contours and curves, with contrasting materials in both color and texture. Blind-spot detection is also in the works for all upper level Chrysler cars and multipurpose vehicles, along with other new-to-Chrysler safety features.

People have been told to expect:

  • Far better interiors, matching the best sedans in the price range
  • Higher gas mileage, especially from the V6
  • Europeans will, according to “mrmopar,” get a 3.0 V6 VM Motori diesel instead of the  MercedesV6 diesel, but it will still use the W5A580 transmission.
New versions of the 2011 Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, and 2011 Dodge Charger will be shown in calendar-year 2010, and will be made exclusively in Brampton, including models for sale in Europe. The revised Challenger may or may not lag the others. There has been no hint of a luxury version yet, but (speculation) it is possible that the 300 will be on a longer wheelbase than the Charger. (That would make room for the 200C).

Compared with the current LX series, the next generation — also termed LX (previously tagged LY) — will be:

  • Aerodynamics. Less boxy. Not back to cab forward, but enough to improve noise, fuel economy, and make the cars more elegant. Charger will have more “retro cues” but will be recognizeably modern.
  • More fuel efficient.
o Far better aerodynamics (Styling now reports to Engineering’s Frank Klegon)
o Modified axle ratios
o Pentastar V6 engine — the 3.6 liter provides 290 hp with better mileage than the current 250 hp 3.5 liter  more quietly than the Toyota V6. The 300 might have higher horsepower  than the Grand Cherokee.
o More gears in the transmission (an eight-speed was being studied but is unlikely). A six-speed automatic might be used or all models might use the Mercedes-designed WA580 until the supply contract expires. (See below for a later rumor.)
  • Better interiors. The next generation of full-sizers will set the standard for the rest of the brands in the divisions.
  • Comfort features. New entertainment systems and driver comfort options.
  • Improve on all-around performance.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cadillac One, The United States presidential car

Luxurious Presidential Limousine by GM the best production car
Body concept of Cadillac One Limousine
For Security and Comfortable President United State of America

Do you know what the safest cars in the world? The answer is a car manufactured by General motors in dedicated to ensuring the safety and comfort such as the atmosphere of the office for the president of the United States.

Current model

The-current presidential limousine entered service on January 20, 2009. According to GM, the manufacturer, the "2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine" is the first not to carry a specific model name. The vehicle's outward appearance carries many current Cadillac styling themes, but doesn't exactly resemble any particular production vehicle. The body itself seems to be a modification of the immediately previous DTS-badged Presidential limousines, but the vehicle's chassis and driveline are assumed to be sourced from the GMC Topkick commercial truck. Many body components are sourced from a variety of Cadillac vehicles; for example, the car apparently uses Cadillac Escalade headlights, side mirrors and door handles. The tail of the car seems to use the taillights and back up lights from the Cadillac STS sedan. Although a price tag has not been announced, according to London-based newspaper The Guardian, each limousine cost the U.S. tax payers US$300,000. During his presidency, Barack Obama has also used the limousine of former President George W. Bush consistently, during visits nationwide and internationally.

General specifications

Most details of the car are classified for security reasons. It is completely fitted with military grade armor at least five inches thick, and the wheels are fitted with run flat tires. Due to the thickness of the glass, much natural light is excluded, so a fluorescent halo lighting system in the headliner is essential.

The car can seat seven people, including the president. The front seats two, and includes a console-mounted communications center. A glass partition divides the front from back. Three rear facing seats are in the back, with cushions that are able to fold over the partition. The two rear seats are reserved for the president and another passenger; these seats have the ability to recline individually. A folding desk is between the two rear seats. Storage compartments in the interior panels of the car contain communications equipment. The Secret Service refers to the heavily-armored vehicle as "the beast".
On domestic trips, Cadillac One displays the American and Presidential Standard flags, which are illuminated by directional flood lights mounted on the hood. When the President performs a state visit to a foreign country, The Presidential Standard is replaced by the foreign country's flag. The limousine is airlifted for domestic and international use primarily by a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III.

The United States government also operates similarly designed limousines for VIP guests, visiting heads of government, and heads of state.

Every inch of the limo's metal skin is backed by military-grade armor, which offers the highest level of protection with the least weight and bulk penalty. The car's windows—which do not open—are actually transparent armor. All the car's armor is at least 5 in. thick, giving the president maximum protection in the event of any attack. The interior is also environmentally sealed to protect the occupants from chemical and airborne germ-warfare terrorism.

Careful study shows that the wheel openings are larger than stock to accommodate the size of the Goodyear run-flat tires. The front fenders, which carry the flag stanchions, have small spotlights to illuminate the flags. The car's front bumper houses foglights and special flashers--a red one on the driver's side, white or clear on the passenger's side. Connected to the trunklid are five antennas.

Inside, there is room for six people to join the president, all on leather seating. Two sit up front, flanking a console-mounted communications center. In back, behind a glass partition, there are three rear-facing seats with cushions that can be folded up separately against the partition. The president and another passenger sit in the individually reclining rear seats.

A folding desk separates the two rear seats, and storage compartments in the interior panels contain communications equipment. The presidential motorcade includes a special rolling communications center, so the limo need not carry as much communications equipment as Air Force One. Since the glass surrounding him is so thick, blocking out most natural light, the president gets needed light from a fluorescent halo lighting system in the headliner.

And naturally, the president has his own switches for the climate-control and sound systems.

After all, presidential comfort is as important as presidential security.

With 5 in. worth of ballistic armor under its skin, and added height and length, the presidential limo tips the scales at close to 4 tons. It's probably based on a modified Escalade platform, riding on run-flat tires. The dark leather interior is environmentally sealed against chemical attack.

Contact GM Automotive Brands

Have a question, comment or concern about one of GM’s brands? Contact a GM brand by e-mail, phone or mail with comments or questions regarding dealers. Just Click Here for detail.

P.O. Box 33170
Detroit, MI 48232-5170

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