Fellow Liberians and International Partners,One of the cardinal pillars of democracy is the right of the people to elect their leaders. This is a fundamental exercise that must take place at certain times. As you know, we were supposed to have election this year, on October 14th, to elect those legislators, who would fill seats of members whose term would expire. However, in October this year, our country was deep in a health crisis that did not allow the process to take place.After consultations with the leadership and political bodies of the country, the National Elections Commission has decided to hold the senatorial elections on December 16, 2014, in a month’s time.These elections are important, but they are being held under very difficult circumstances. We still have the deadly Ebola virus in our country and in the neighboring countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone. This puts a new responsibility on all of us, to ensure that the political activities that will be carried out during the campaign and the voting do not lead to a resurgence of the epidemic. People will be meeting at places in groups for campaigning. When the time comes to vote, we will line up to vote. These could lead to serious risks.While we are sustaining our democracy, we have decided to put in place measures that would safeguard us all. Therefore, in consultation with relevant local and international partners and political parties, the National Elections Commission will issue guidelines and protocols that we must all abide by. We can only enjoy democracy if we are healthy and alive.Although we continue to see decline in the number of new cases of Ebola, we must not relent our efforts, we must not lay down our guards and we must not become complacent.As campaigning starts in the next day, it is my responsibility and my duty to remind you all, politicians, voters and elections workers that we will put in place stringent measures, contained in our health laws that everyone must and will abide by. When we say no hugging, or shaking hands and rubbing shoulders, we mean it and we want people to take this seriously. We want democracy, we want to elect people, but we want to do so keeping all of us healthy. Making sure that we do not return to those difficult days must be our common priority number one.We all remember how things were bad several few weeks ago. Now we are seeing progress, but we cannot talk about success as long as there is one case of Ebola. We all know what to do to avoid catching the disease. When someone is sick, don’t play doctor, take them to a health center. Wash your hands constantly. When passing in front of a store or anywhere where people have thermometers, take your temperature. If somebody passes away, call the health care respondents and they will come and do what is necessary. We all like our traditions but these are not normal times and we have to let go some of our habits.The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with agencies and partners, under the Public Health Law, will be announcing a number of preventive measures tomorrow to ensure that we are all safe especially during this electoral process. In so far as they are intended to keep our people safe, I will endorse all of the preventive measures and will direct that they be strictly followed. These rules would not stop anyone from campaigning or interacting with the people but are there to ensure that people are protected.Let it be known: We do not conduct these important elections because we feel it is easy or okay to do so. We do this with the support of other leaders of the government, because it is a right and a duty which must be fulfilled.Finally, the true essence of democracy is to compete on the basis of ideas – ideas about how we improve the lives of the people we aspire to lead. This will mean that candidates will disagree. But I know we can disagree and exchange our ideas, as well as afford the voters a chance to understand our values, without resorting to mudslinging or violence. I therefore urge all of our candidates, even as I wish all of them well, to stand up for tolerance – to lend their campaigns to civil discussions from which our people will know them better, and the final decisions of the people will benefit their communities and the nation.May God continue to bless our Republic.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) read more
Equipment efficiency mattersThird, the amount of useful heat obtained from a given fuel depends on how efficiently it’s burned. Combustion efficiency varies widely — from as low as 30% for the worst of the outdoor wood boilers to over 95% for a top-efficiency, condensing gas boiler. Baseboard electric-resistance heat can be thought of as 100% efficient — since the electrons you’re paying for in the electric current are converted entirely into heat, while heat pumps typically deliver two to three units of heat energy for every unit of electric energy consumed (these can be thought of as 200% to 300% efficiency, though it’s really a coefficient of performance, not efficiency).Note that these electric heat efficiencies don’t account for the “upstream” energy costs of electricity generation, such as the waste heat at a coal or nuclear power plant — but for the purposes of comparing your heating costs, that doesn’t matter. RELATED ARTICLES GBA Encyclopedia: Green Heating OptionsA Heating Fuel Cost Comparison CalculatorComparing the Costs of Different Fuels How many BTUs per gallon?For starters, different fuels are sold in different units. Heating oil, kerosene, and propane are sold by the gallon; natural gas by the hundred cubic foot (ccf) or therm (defined as 100,000 Btus); firewood by the cord; wood pellets and coal by the ton; and electricity by the kilowatt-hour (kWh). Second, different fuels have different energy densities. According to The Engineering Toolbox (a great source of facts related to energy), a gallon of propane contains 91,330 Btus, while a gallon a #2 heating oil contains 139,600 Btus. Pellets contain 16.5 million Btus per ton, and natural gas contains 950 to 1,150 Btu per cubic foot. Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. He also recently created the Resilient Design Institute. To keep up with Alex’s latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed. Heat distribution efficiencyTo further complicate fuel cost comparisons, a fourth factor is how efficiently heat is distributed. With electric baseboard radiators, the heat is produced right in the room, so the distribution is 100% efficient. Baseboard hot water (hydronic) heat is also usually very efficient, though uninsulated hot water pipes running through an unheated basement can lower that efficiency to some extent.With a forced-air furnace and ducts to carry the heat, however, the distribution efficiency can be quite low, especially if poorly insulated, leaky ducts run through an unheated attic or crawl space — distribution efficiency as low as 50% is not uncommon.To calculate the actual delivered efficiency of your heating system, you have to multiply the heat content of the fuel by the combustion efficiency and by the distribution efficiency. For example, if you have a 78% efficient propane furnace and an average duct system running through an unheated attic (65% efficient distribution), your overall efficiency of delivered heat is just over 50% (.78 x .65) — meaning that only half of the energy you’ve paid for is actually being used to keep you warm! Comparing apples to applesFinally, to compare different fuels (sold, as described above, in different units), you have to convert the costs to an equal basis so you’re comparing apples to apples. The most common standard is dollars per million Btus of delivered heat. The easiest way to do this is with an online calculator like the Heating Fuel Cost Calculator our company provides.This allows you to enter the cost for a particular fuel, your heating system efficiency, and its distribution efficiency. The end result is a figure in dollars per million Btu that reflects your real costs of delivered heat and allows you to compare that with other options. Say you heat with oil and pay $3.77 per gallon (the average retail price in Vermont last week), using an Energy Star boiler (83% efficient) and hot water baseboard distribution (98% efficient). Your cost of delivered heat with these assumptions will be $33.42 per million Btu.By comparison, electric baseboard heat at the current Green Mountain Power rate of 16.9¢/kWh converts to $49.53 per million Btu of delivered heat — that’s 48% higher than the oil option above.Using a heat pump with a coefficient of performance of 2.25 (225% efficient) and ducts fully within the insulated house envelope drops the cost of delivered heat to $22.46 per million Btu (33% less that the oil-heat option).And firewood, at $250/cord burned in an EPA-compliant wood stove (70% efficient), converts to just $16.23 per million Btu of delivered heat (see image). The beauty of an online calculator is that you can quickly and easily vary any of the inputs to compare lots of fuels and heating options. It’s hard to predict the futureKeep in mind that energy costs are volatile. It doesn’t make sense to replace an oil boiler with a propane boiler based only on the heating cost savings given today’s rates, since they could change dramatically tomorrow. But if you’re thinking about replacing equipment anyway, you should consider the fuel costs of the alternatives. If there’s one thing that we can predict with certainty about fuel costs, it’s that they fluctuate a lot. That wasn’t always the case. The price of electricity, natural gas, propane, and heating oil were remarkably stable for decades — up until the 1970s.Since then, prices of most fuels have gyrated wildly, driven by political unrest in some parts of the world, periods of greater or lower demand driven by periods of strong economic growth or contraction, resource limitations (real or perceived), and the situation in China and other parts of this increasingly connected world.With regulated energy sources (particularly electricity), there is often less volatility, because regulators have to approve changes in pricing.What does this mean for you as you compare one heating option to another or try to figure out whether to buy a pellet stove this winter? How does oil compare with propane or electricity as a heating source? Those sound like simple enough questions, but it’s actually fairly complicated. read more
Debt waiver for farmers is all set to be the key issue of confrontation between the ruling Congress government and the Shiromani Akali Dal in the budget session of the Punjab Assembly beginning on Tuesday.The SAD has announced that it will “gherao” the State Assembly on March 20 to protest against the alleged “betrayal” of farmers by the Congress government, which they say has taken a U-turn on the “complete farm loan waiver” — a key 2017 Assembly election promise.‘Theatrics’, says CMReacting to the announcement, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh termed it as “theatrics” and dared the Akalis, led by Sukhbir Singh Badal, to “gherao” Parliament instead so as to pressurise the Central government into waiving off farmers’ debts.“Akalis are now shedding crocodile tears for the farmers after failing to do anything for them during the 10 years of SAD-BJP rule. Not only had the Akalis failed to extend even an iota of support to Punjab’s distressed farmers during their regime, they also could not persuade the BJP-led Central government in the past four years to come out with a debt waiver scheme for the farmers,” said Capt. Singh, adding, “If Sukhbir Badal was really concerned about the plight of the farmers, he would have taken up the issue with the Centre and managed to secure some relief for the aggrieved community.”‘State of despair’Meanwhile, Mr. Badal reviewed arrangements for the party’s rally in Chandigarh ahead of proposed “gherao” of the Assembly. “Party workers were determined to reach the State Assembly to make the Congress government hear the voice of the farmers, who are in a state of despair and frustration at the government’s turnaround on the loan waiver promise,” he said.Waiver certificatesCapt. Singh, however, pointed out that around 82,000 farmers had already been issued debt waiver certificates by his government, with a clear road map for settling the loans of all the 1.25 million small and marginal farmers covered under the debt waiver scheme by November 2018.The principal opposition Aam Aadmi Party’s MLAs also had a meeting to discuss the floor strategy for the budget session. As many as 15 of the 20 AAP MLAs attended the meeting.“The party has decided to forcefully take up the issues of farmer and farm labourers’ suicides, betrayal of the youth on the promise of giving jobs besides the failure of the government to curb drugs and illegal mining,” Leader of Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Sukhpal Khaira said here. read more
Senior BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday accused Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath of spreading lies over the loan waiver issue and deceiving farmers. The former Chief Minister hit out at Mr. Gandhi over his claim at a rally in MP on Wednesday that his brother was among those who received loan waiver. Showing the panchayat’s documents pertaining to farmers of his native village Jait (in Sehore district), Mr. Chouhan said the records showed his brother was not eligible for loan waiver scheme. “He is an income tax payer and it’s written (in records) that my brother Rohit hasn’t even filled the application for farm loan waiver,” he said.