SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

January 31, 2012

Dr Donohue on BPA

TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH

Jury still out on use of BPA in plastics

PAUL G. DONOHUE

Q: I refill plastic water bottles with regular tap water. When the bottle is empty, I wash it and the cap, and refill it with water.

I hear that toxins are released from plastics when reusing them.

Reusing is cost-efficient and saves the planet from more trash, but it’s not worth the risk if it endangers health. What’s the potential harm in reusing these bottles?

A: The plastic story is complicated and has no unimpeachable, authoritative answer. Most of the attention focuses on bisphenol A, or BPA, an ingredient in many plastic containers and in the lining of many food cans.

A relationship between BPA and heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and liver damage has been suggested. It might affect the fetus. And BPA is a weak estrogenlike substance.

Some European nations and Canada have banned the use of BPA in baby bottles.

One good aspect of BPA is its quick exit from the body. The American Chemical Council views it as safe. The World Health Organization says it’s premature to ban it. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t taken it off the market.

  • The decision to use BPA plastics is up to the user.

Safety tips are worth passing along:

  • Don’t use plastics in the microwave or in any reheating . Heat increases the release of BPA.
  • Limit the consumption of food from cans lined with BPA plastics, or seek canned goods in containers without the material.
  • Don’t put BPA-containing plastics in the dishwasher. Find labels that say “BPA-free.” A “7” on the bottom of plastics indicates BPA.

How great the BPA threat is can’t be determined. It has been used in plastic products for more than 40 years.

(I do understand that Dr Donohue is functioning within his allopathic climate as he is expected to do.  And as expected, if the FDA does not contraindicate – it must be Okay! Right?   No!  Not Okay.    How often does the FDA let us down, refuse to protect the public – – that which it is supposed to be doing.  Instead, it serves the corporate structure and meanwhile everyone keeps getting sicker, more toxic and there seems no end.    I am printing a small excerpt re: the FDA with regard to BPA:

The Food and Drug Administration, true to form, has sided with the chemical industry and against independent scientists in determining the safety of Bisphenol-A, an ingredient in some plastics and in the lining of plastic cans.
. *key in BPA in search bar
It released a draft assessment, declaring the controversial chemical safe*, Friday, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, which has led the major media coverage of that and other chemicals, and the apparent bias the FDA has shown for industry studies that often are not peer-reviewed and published in scientific literature.

Independent research has uncovered worrying qualities to Bisphenol A; it mimics hormones, could affect normal development and reproduction and would have its most dramatic effects on young bodies undergoing rapid development. The list of potential effects is long and damning: breast and prostate cancer, obesity, diabetes, brain and liver damage.

(Dr Donohue mentions a good aspect of BPA is the “quick exit” from the body.  That is not true.  I have done numerous articles on the destructiveness of BPA and all it’s various ramifications, which do build up in the body thereby causing great harm to organs throughout.  One that comes to mind is TOXIC WOMBS. . .my god! 12-23-09.  The traces are found in the placenta and cord blood.   There can be damage to our  liver, heart and brain,    as well as a disruptor to the hormone system.

  So to the querant – those plastic bottles are not safe to use.  There are some plastic bottles that are a good deal more expensive which are safer.  Of course, there are the stainless steel choices as well.    You would serve your body so much better if you could find some way to drink water that does not come from the tap.  Municipal water is notorious for chemical infusion.   The chlorine, the fluoride and countless others are damaging every cell in your body, day after day.  Let’s face it – – we are living in a toxic world.  One must take all kinds of steps if we are to survive in any way that seems healthy.   As long as you’ve got your brain to think with and mouth to communicate with, you are 1/2 way there. . .keep thinking, asking questions and speaking up.  . .just keep on keeping on. . . . Jan)

Q: Do 40 years of so-called social drinking have any effect on your muscles or strength? By “social drinking,” I mean three to four drinks at dinnertime.

I play a lot of golf and am losing distance on driving the ball.

I am 80 and in good shape. I am active, too: I swim and exercise. Should I cut down on alcohol?

A: The safe alcohol intake for a healthy man is two drinks a day; for women, it’s one. A drink is considered 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled alcohol.

I would advise you to cut back to one drink, partly because of your age.

Are you doing any strength-enhancing exercises with weights? They can keep your muscles strong.

Aging probably has more to do with your strength loss than has alcohol, but cut back all the same.

(Well Healthy Man,  I would say you can do just about anything you want to do.  Sounds like you are doing fine to me.  Its a question of preference isn’t it?  I too, imbibe around the dinner hour and have regarded this as one of life’s gracious pleasures.  .  .  tho not always, just when I feel like it.

As to the muscle strength question,  there are many approaches to be sure,   including  bands and/or resistance exercises.  I would however, defer to my son Jeff at Fit2Play (in the blogroll)  You can call or Email him with the same question you have presented here and tell him his Mom over at smokinchoices suggested that you call.  Jeff’s life has pretty much been devoted to  athleticism and sports area and he would certainly be better equipt to advise on whether or not some form of supplement might be helpful along with any ideas  for strengthening those muscles. 

I say, keep on doing what you’re doing and stay happy.  Jan)

Dr. Donohue answers letters only in his North America Syndicate column but provides an order form of available health newsletters. Write him at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

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6 Coal-burning plants closing

NEW EPA REGULATIONS

FirstEnergy to close six coal-burning power plants

ASSOCIATED PRESS

AKRON — FirstEnergy Corp. said yesterday that new environmental regulations led to a decision to shut down six older, coal-fired power plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland, affecting more than 500 employees.

The plants, in Cleveland, Ashtabula, Oregon and Eastlake in Ohio;  Adrian, Pa.;  and Williams-port, Md.,  will be retired by Sept. 1. They have generated about 10 percent of the electricity produced by FirstEnergy in the past three years, the company said.

James Lash, head of the company’s generation unit, indicated in a statement that a review of the company’s coal-fired plants determined that it would not be economical to get the older ones into compliance with environmental regulations that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced in December.

The new standards are designed to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxic pollution from coal- and oil-fired power plants. An Associated Press survey found that the changes were likely to result in the mothballing of dozens of units in the Midwest and in the coal belt — Kentucky, West Virginia and Virginia.

  • The Obama administration was under court order to issue the new rules after a court threw out an attempt by the Bush administration to exempt power plants from controls for toxic air pollution.

Two factors have made it easier for utilities to close old coal plants in recent years. Power demand has been weakening in recent years because of the slow economy and energy-efficiency programs. And natural-gas prices, which have fallen to decade-low levels in recent weeks, have allowed utilities to switch from coal to natural gas without raising customers’ bills. Meanwhile, demand from China and elsewhere has driven up the price of coal.

FirstEnergy said its decision would directly affect 529 employees. Some of them could end up working at other FirstEnergy facilities and work sites, while others could take advantage of a retirement benefit being offered to employees 55 years and older, the company said.

FirstEnergy has a total of 17 coal power plants, including those that will close by September.

The plants targeted to shut down have been producing less power over the past few years, mainly during times of peak demand, the company said.

Eastlake, a community of about 18,500 people alongside Lake Erie northeast of Cleveland, will lose $590,000 a year in taxes, or about 4.5 percent of its regular budget, Mayor Ted Andrzejewski said.

FirstEnergy’s electricity system has 6 million customers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia. Coal and nuclear power plants generate about 80 percent of the company’s output.

The company employs about 17,000 people.

Power rates STUN small business

New AEP rates STUN  small businesses

By Dan Gearino THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Some small-business owners are furious about a sudden rise in electricity costs, the result of a new American Electric Power rate plan that took effect this month.   With immediate increases of up to 40 percent, business owners said they are faced with cutting workers, reducing investment and making other changes as they struggle to deal with an increased expense that many of them did not see coming.

“Honestly, am I going to put my next machine here or in my plant in Tennessee?” asked Patrick Castro Jr., vice president of Electro General Plastics in Grove City, whose electricity costs have risen 35 percent.    “Tennessee is looking a little bit more business-friendly.”

AEP says the new rates reflect the cost to provide service , and that what might seem like a big increase is because the previous rates were unusually low for certain types of customers.  (Well, duh,  those rates were established in Courts with the help of the Consumer’s Protection agency which Ohio had – paid for from a small stipend  in our utility bills.  This was a most effective agency who fought for the Ohio consumer with regard to utilities.  Consequently,  this was one of the first thing Gov Kasich went after when he started.  Boom it was gone.  He creatively did that by stripping down their operating costs more than 50%, effectively, paralyzing them. Staff was slashed, their director of 6 – 7 years was gone.  It was just a question of time. . .all knew that.    Jan)

The Dispatch reported last month that the AEP plan would lead to large rate increases for small businesses, much larger than the average rates disclosed by the utility. The story cited internal emails from a Public Utilities Com- mission of Ohio staff member who raised concerns that the rates were unfair and would be harmful to many businesses.

At Plastic Packaging Technologies on the Northwest Side, executives are reconsidering plans to expand. The company is based in Kansas City, Kan., and could shift its resources elsewhere. (Kasich calls himself a business-friendly governor.)

“This is very dangerous and very damaging,” said David Potter, the vice president and general manager. “We’re in a very competitive market, and to slap us with a $28,000 (annual) increase is just outrageous and could definitely dampen expansion plans.”

The PUCO has fielded about 25 complaints about rates from small businesses this week, said commission spokesman Matt Butler(About all they do is ‘receive complaints’.  They side with the utility companies thus are ineffective for the consumer.)    “We certainly do understand the impact this has had on certain small-business customers,” he said.

Jeff Rennie, an AEP spokesman, said the new rates are the result of a compromise between AEP, the PUCO and many other companies and groups. The plan calls for AEP to change gradually to prices set by market forces.    “In the past, those rates might have been subsidized by other rate classes, but now those rates will reflect the cost to provide service to that customer,” he said.

The PUCO and several other groups crafted the rates in a way that provides a discount for large manufacturers, one that essentially is paid for by rate increases for others, including small businesses. Supporters of the plan say it helps the economy by reducing costs for the largest employers. (Is this supposed to be a joke?.  If so, I am not laughing.  Jan)

The largest rate increases are hitting businesses in the “General Service 2” rate class, which represents about 15 percent of AEP’s customer base in Ohio. Within that rate group, the average increase is less than 10 percent in AEP’s Columbus Southern Power service territory and less than 20 percent in AEP’s Ohio Power territory, according to the PUCO.

  • The end result: Electricity costs are rising for many small businesses but falling for many large ones.

Debbie Taranto, owner of Taranto’s Pizzeria in Lewis Center, said this approach is unfair. She said she might have to raise prices or lay off workers.   “While the small-business owner is struggling to hold their head above the quicksand of the national recession that torpedoed us, our fine state has allowed this increase, thus showing how ‘pro-business’ they are and working to help the middle class,” she said in an email.

But some customers are seeing even-larger increases. They are:

  • Companies that buy their electricity-generation service from a company other than AEP. The new rate plan increases AEP’s distribution charges, the part of the electricity bill that everybody pays, and decreases the generation charge for small businesses that get this service from AEP. This leads to a disproportionately large increase for many of the customers that have chosen an alternative provider.
  • Businesses with a low “load factor,” which means they have high electricity usage for short periods of time and low usage the rest of the time. This describes many small manufacturers.

Together, those two categories include thousands of businesses.

The rate changes vary from customer to customer because of different usage patterns and the complexity of the rate structure.

  • The rate increases are the result of a process that lasted most of last year. The PUCO staff oversaw private talks that included AEP, the PUCO staff and several dozen other companies or groups. The framework of the current plan came from those talks and was modified and approved by the PUCO’s governing board.

Several groups participated and signed on to the plan, including the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association. None of those groups exclusively represents small businesses.

“I guess if you’re big enough and have people who can lobby for you, you can get your rates down,” said Fran Vendetta, owner of Appian Manufacturing on the South Side.

Robert Fortney, the PUCO staff member who helped oversee the case, wrote several emails last summer in which he called the rates unfair to small businesses. He warned that the state faced a public-relations nightmare once businesses saw their bills. The messages were obtained through a public-records request.

  • He speculated that his agency would have to find a way to fix the problem.
  • Now, a few weeks after those bills began to arrive, the PUCO is considering appeals from several groups.

“Although I can’t speculate as to whether the small-business issue will be revisited, applications for rehearing on a variety of AEP rate issues are currently pending before the commission and will be addressed in the near future,” Butler said.

dgearino@dispatch.com

January 30, 2012

Really, How are you?

(On this blog, it is stressed  “You are what you eat,”  but one could take it just a little further;  you are what you think, or in other words.  .  .  we are out-sourcing  from mind into our every-day life – – that which we dwell on.   As above, so below. Jan)

You will notice that those who speak most of prosperity, have it. Those who speak most of health, have it.        Those who speak most of sickness, have it. Those who speak most of poverty, have it. It is Law. It can be  no other way… The way you feel is your point of attraction, and so, the Law of Attraction is most understood when you see yourself as a magnet getting more and more of the way you feel. When you feel lonely, you attract more loneliness. When you feel poor, you attract more poverty. When you feel sick, you attract more sickness. When you feel unhappy, you attract more unhappiness. When you feel healthy and vital and  alive and prosperous—you attract more of all of those things.

— Abraham

Excerpted from “The Law of Attraction, The Basics of the Teachings of Abraham” # 334

Our Love,
Jerry and Esther

Hey there Tiger!

GOLF NOTEBOOK

Woods shoots 66 for share of lead

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Tiger Woods put himself in position yesterday to win his second straight tournament.

He shot a 6-under-par 66 for a share of the lead with Robert Rock going into the final round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates.

More than being atop the leader-board, it’s how Woods got there.

“It’s fun when I’m able to control the golf ball like I did,” Woods said.

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods finish their 3rd straight day of playing together in the United Arab Emirates.

He had six birdies in a bogey-free round that was    memorable mostly for his ability to hit fairways, tame the par 5s and make clutch putts — including a six-footer for birdie on the final hole.

“It just seemed like I didn’t do a lot of things right but I didn’t do a lot of things wrong today, it was just very consistent,” Woods said. “You know, made a couple putts here and there. … I stayed away from trouble and tried to keep the ball toward the fat side of some of these pins, and I think I did a pretty good job.”

Woods finished the round at 11-under 205.

“There’s a ton of guys with a chance to win,” Woods said. “I can’t go out there and shoot even par and expect to win. I’ve got to go out there and go get it.”

Rock, ranked 117th in the world, birdied his final two holes to join Woods in the last group, along with Peter Hanson, who had a 64 and was two shots behind.

Rock admitted he was star-struck at the prospect of teeing off alongside Woods, calling him “the best guy I’ve ever seen play golf.”

Also two back at 9-under 207 was Rory McIlroy, who played with Woods for the third straight day and had a 68.

“I definitely felt today was a lot better than yesterday,” McIlroy said. “So, hopefully, I can just keep that going tomorrow and maybe get off to a fast start and put pressure on the guys in front of me.”

Francesco Molinari (66) and Paul Lawrie (68) also were tied for third. George Coetzee (65), James Kingston (67), overnight leader Thorbjorn Olesen (71) and Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (69) were another shot back.

Top-ranked Luke Donald (73) is 11 shots behind Woods, with second-ranked Lee Westwood (68) seven off the lead.

PGA Tour

Kyle Stanley overpowered Torrey Pines and opened a five-shot lead in the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego.

Stanley missed a four-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that would have broken the 54-hole tournament record set by Woods in 1998.

Stanley still managed a 4-under 68, a spot alongside Woods in the record book at 18-under 198 and great position for his first victory.

Stanley built a three-shot lead with a birdie on the second hole and was never really challenged.

“This is something you dream about as a kid,” Stanley said. “But there’s still one more round.”

John Huh, a 21-year-old rookie who spent three years on the Korean Tour, and John Rollins each had 68 and were at 13-under 203.

FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas (70) and Sang-Moon Bae (72) were another shot behind. Bae was 5-over through five holes until he ran off four straight birdies to start the back nine to get back on the leader-board.

Urban Meyer – go get ’em!

COMMENTARY

Meyer knows how to fight to win recruits

During the uncivil war of college football recruiting, it is instructive to study how the chief overseer of that other War Between the States handled the doom and gloom of the day.

Looking for a general who would advance and not sit still, Abraham Lincoln considered the qualities of Ulysses S Grant and remarked,  “I cannot spare this man.  He fights.”

ROB OLLER

Urban Meyer fights, too,  so much that Ohio State football recruiting – – once in danger of falling on i’s face – – is landing on its feet in most spectacular fashion.  The Buckeyes’ 2012 recruiting class has jumped from mediocre two months ago into the top three, behind Alabama and Texas, in rankings by several national recruiting sites.

Tom Luginbill, who analyzes recruiting for ESPN (which ranks the Buckeyes’ class No. 8), said that Ohio State pulled a perfect flanking maneuver by hiring Meyer, who rates among the nation’s top recruiters.    “As it turns out, they must be going, ‘Whew,’ ” Luginbill said of OSU’s impressive buoyancy, despite NCAA sanctions that include a bowl ban for next season and the loss of nine scholarships over three seasons. “Fans don’t want to hear this, but at the end of the day, it is a college coach’s job to win games, and you need talent to win. Urban knows you need great players.”

Recruiting can be compared with a child’s formative years, when foundations are cemented. Begin on the wrong foot, in life or recruiting, and it affects future success.

The Buckeyes’ recruiting went into limbo the moment Jim Tressel resigned under pressure on May 30. Luke Fickell did a decent job of holding things together as coach for one season, but the real test would come when recruiting season rolled around in early December, with the results showing up Wednesday on national signing day.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith could not afford to hire a George McClellan, the Civil War Union general who was capable enough at organizing and inspiring his troops but who too often sat on his hands when the Army of the Potomac required aggressive action.

Recruiting is not complicated science.  It mostly is measuring a need and relentlessly sending all available resources into that area. Meyer fits that form, but there is more to the game of offering scholarships than fixing bayonets and rushing into the fray.

“Urban not only knows how to evaluate talent, but he knows the other little things that fans are not privy to,” said Luginbill, who crossed paths with Meyer while Meyer worked as an ESPN analyst between leaving Florida in 2010 and joining Ohio State on Nov. 28. “There is tremendous stock in the type of program a prospect comes from.”

Meyer also excels when addressing the strategic component of recruiting, which is knowing how to build a team through the college game’s version of the draft.    “He places a premium on building a team from the inside out — quarterback, offensive line, defensive line and go from there,” Luginbill said. “He understands that if you’re not premier up front, it doesn’t matter how good your skill people are.”

Meyer’s moves appear to support Luginbill’s observations. He concentrated his initial recruiting efforts on securing defensive linemen, snaring Se’Von Pittman, Noah Spence and Tommy Schutt. Meyer also received commitments from highly rated offensive linemen Joey O’Connor and Taylor Decker. He already has the quarter- back in Braxton Miller. Of those recent recruits, all but Spence had committed to other schools before changing their minds when Meyer charged in. A sometimes messy business, this recruiting. But the Buckeyes, who not long ago faced a threatening signing-day smackdown, are back in business thanks to the man in the saddle. When it comes to recruiting, Meyer will not spare you. He fights.

Rob Oller is a sports reporter for The Dispatch. roller@dispatch.com

(After all that has happened to Ohio State Football this past year, I have been prepared to give up on football.  How could any team be expected to carry on after that horrible fiasco?  Our wonderful Quarterback, Terell Pryor and the other guys followed by the ultimate loss of our coach, one of the finest men to ever coach a football team, Jim Tressel.   I couldn’t handle it – gave up football.  No more.  

With the events of this year and further restrictions, who needs it?    But, I really like Urban Meyer, have watched his career since he went to Florida.  Good man.   Braxton is not Tyrell, but he is damned good and I really like him too.       

This may be shaping up to be a good year after all, even tho, we shall not be allowed to “win” anything.  Jan)

January 29, 2012

Cultured (fermented) foods redux

Fermented Stuff  Redux

It’s been a while since I have done a mini-rave about “fermented foods.”   Since it is simply one of the best things one can do for health;   there is nothing hard about doing it — and the rewards are so very high in health benefits, I’m just curious – is anybody out there doing it?  Has anyone tried it?   One can make one jar or gallons. Customize.

One of the outstanding things about eating your own fermented food, made at home – – it is expensive to buy, but fairly cheap to make at home (even buying organic produce).   There is no other way to get such a high quality of the  B vitamins into your diet without the need to buy anything else. And it helps to repopulate your intestinal flora with the high quality bacteria needed to help establish and maintain your immune system to a healthy level.  You know, rebuilding your own inner eco-flora.

Most people here in the U.S. have become accustomed to  sweet tastes – – we crave it. This is unfortunate.  It can so easily lead us astray, putting taste buds in charge of our well-being and health future.  Once accustomed to the sour tastes, an unexpected blessing is the falling away of the “need” to have sweets.   I noticed that when I first went on the fermented veggie.  I didn’t like them at all first time I ate them.  Was dumfounded cause I hadn’t even thought there may be a problem. My time, effort and money was invested, so I wasn’t willing to just give up.  By next day and each passing day, I became more comfortable with them.  Then I liked them – a lot.   With all the ‘getting used to’  I hadn’t even noticed that I was not eating my chocolate – hadn’t missed it.  Now that’s a big blessing as I had been a chocoholic all my life.

Going big on a plant-based diet also helps to change your tastebuds, naturally.  Has a lot to do with the body’s needs being met – – cravings start to fall away.

As can be seen, the Health Ranger’s NaturalNews site has a couple of videos (following).  Such a great video library at his blog  I hope you enjoy them.  Even more, I hope you try some fermented veggies.

How to Make Sauerkraut (homemade sauerkraut)
http://tv.naturalnews.com/v.asp?v=41DD50F0535E9A5156C0D43CC3097CB1

How to Make Cultured Vegetables with Donna Gates
http://tv.naturalnews.com/v.asp?v=A8412383FE971E61EEDC4B4067B3320F    This is XLNT, a 3-part video from Kevin and Annemarie Gianni of the Renegade Health site

Finally, I have spoken of Dom down in Australia  in my previous how-to on how to make fermented foods:  the first one being January 29, 09 in which I relate a bit of my experience, but not the how to.  Then in Sept 21-09, I do attempt to explain how I made the fermented veggies.  With regard to DOM,  it is still there and well laid out.  You may be hard-pressed to find another site as interesting.  It is rather large with many options.  You can reach it here:

http://user.sa.chariot,nat.au/~dna/kefirkraut.html    Just copy and paste into your browser     Jan

January 28, 2012

Green Biologics (motor fuel)

Small Gahanna chemical-maker merges

Butylfuel, with 10 employees, combines with British company

By Dan Gearino THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

A Gahanna-based chemical-maker has merged with a British company.

Butylfuel Inc., which has offices and a lab in Gahanna, says it has combined with Green Biologics Limited and will use the Green Biologics name. The combined company has about 40 employees, 10 of whom come from Butylfuel and are located in Ohio. The corporate headquarters is in England.

The main product is “biobutanol, a fuel developed from plant waste that has the same properties as butanol, a petroleum-based fuel.

  • Biobutanol can be blended with gasoline, much like ethanol.

“This merger creates a truly global leader in biobutanol and represents a transformational deal for both companies,” Sean Sutcliffe, CEO of the combined company, said in a statement.

Tom Grote, who was chief financial officer for Butylfuel, will have the same title with Green Biologics. Grote, along with his father, Jim Grote, the founder of Donatos Pizza, have owned the chemical company since 2007.

Butylfuel has mainly sold chemicals for use in paint and plastics. With the merger, the new company will devote more resources to making motor fuel, Tom Grote said.

One of the next steps for Green Biologics will be to build a refinery to produce the fuel, which will likely be in Ohio, he said. He estimates that a plant would employ 50 people and cost at least $50 million. He describes this as a “bolt-on” plant, meaning it would likely be constructed as an addition to an existing ethanol plant, working in partnership with the plant’s owner.

Ohio has six ethanol plants. The closest to central Ohio are in Marion and Fayette counties.

dgearino@dispatch.com

OH’s good car year – ’11

Paving the way to a good year

Models leap ahead as car dealers post solid 2011 sales figures

By Dan Gearino | THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

WIECK PHOTOS

Central Ohio car dealers, after battling a bad economy for several years, finally gained some traction in 2011. New-car sales jumped 17 percent in the Columbus area last year, significantly better than for the country as a whole.

The surge was driven in part by a few models that posted triple-digit percentage increases, led by the Kia Optima, up 535 percent, the Ford Explorer, up 360 percent, and the Chevrolet Cruze, up 180 percent, according to registration figures from Autoviewonline.com  .

The big gains contained a common thread: new designs.

The midsize Optima, with 502 units sold, benefited from a sporty redesign, helping Kia become the fastest-growing of any brand in the market with at least 1,000 vehicles sold.

Several other Kia models also had big increases in sales, such as the Soul crossover, which was up 86 percent. Kia dealers say the growth in sales is attributable to a combination of strong designs and low to moderate prices.

“When the recession hit, it forced people to live within their means and say, ‘I’m going to give this car a shot,’” said George Kauffman, vice president of Byers Automotive, which has a Kia store in Lewis Center.

Meanwhile, the Ford Explorer was part of a surprisingly good year for sport-utility vehicles and a strong year for the Ford brand. The Explorer, which sold 556 units locally, had a new design that was the 2011 North American Truck of the Year.

“We went from selling a few to selling quite a few,” said Doug Krieger, co-owner of Krieger Ford on the North Side.

The model improved on its main drawback — poor fuel economy — and added many features, he said.

Overall, SUV sales have grown for several reasons, including new designs, an increase in the supply of vehicles and relatively stable fuel prices. Among the other standouts in the segment is the Ohio-made Jeep Grand Cherokee, local sales for which were up 129 percent.

The Ohio-made Cruze had its first full year on the market, demolishing the sales of the compact-car model it replaced, the Cobalt, and helping lead a resurgence for General Motors. For this model, the 180 percent increase includes Cruze and Cobalt sales. The Cruze sold 118 units in 2010 and 1,457 in 2011; the Cobalt sold 405 in 2010 and seven in 2011.

“It’s well-built with good mileage, and much higher quality than Cobalt,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Edmunds.com  .

Despite the sudden gains of several models, the region’s top-five sellers were unchanged from 2010 to 2011. Honda continued to dominate the market, with Accord, CR-V and Civic, which ranked first, second and third, respectively. Next were the Hyundai Sonata and Toyota Camry.

The top five were the same in 2010, except that the CR-V rose from third to second, switching places with the Civic. The Sonata also switched places with the Camry.

Honda’s strength in the region is tied to its presence as a major employer. The automaker has assembly plants in Marysville and East Liberty.

The brand’s success came despite some major setbacks, starting with the earthquake and tsunami last March in Japan, which disrupted the supply of parts. Honda dealers spent much of the summer waiting for inventory to arrive.

Central Ohio dealers sold more than 64,000 new vehicles last year, up 17 percent from the year before. That was better than the 10 percent increase in national new-car sales, according to Ward’s Auto.

The region’s strong showing may be tied to Honda’s performance. The brand’s national sales fell by 7 percent in 2011, largely because of the inventory problems, but increased by 9 percent in central Ohio. dgearino@dispatch.com

January 27, 2012

Seals Rescue in Somalia

SEALS RESCUE TWO CAPTIVES IN SOMALIA

Nine kidnappers killed after Obama orders mission to save ill American

By Jeffrey Gettleman, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker THE NEW YORK TIMES

Aid workers Poul Hagen Thisted of Denmark and Jessica Buchanan, formerly of Ohio, had been held for ransom by Somali kidnappers since October.

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Under the cloak of darkness early yesterday, two dozen U.S. Navy SEALs answered the prayers of the many friends of Ohio-born Jessica Buchanan, 32, and Den-mark’s Poul Hagen Thisted, 60.

The SEALs parachuted into Somalia, stormed the hideout of the gunmen who had been holding the two aid workers hostage since October, killed nine of the gunmen and whisked the hostages out of the sweltering desert and into waiting helicopters, Pentagon officials said.

“Ever since Jessica was captured, we all as a community have been praying for her safety and for her safe release,” the Rev. Don Meyer, president of Valley Forge Christian College near Philadelphia, said of the graduate of his school yesterday.

The SEALs were from the same elite Navy commando unit — SEAL Team 6 — that secretly entered Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden in May, senior U.S. officials said, although the rescue mission in Somalia was carried out by a different assault team.

President Barack Obama was closely tracking the raid Tuesday night, which was yesterday morning in Somalia. As he stepped into the House chamber to deliver his State of the Union address, Obama looked at Defense Secretary Leon Panetta standing in the crowd and said: “Leon, good job tonight, good job.”

Minutes after giving his address to Congress, Obama was on the phone with Buchanan’s father to tell him his daughter was safe.

PETE SOUZA WHITE HOUSE    President Barack Obama, accompanied by his wife, Michelle, tells John Buchanan by phone from the Capitol that his daughter is safe. Obama had just completed his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night.

No SEALs were hurt during the operation, Pentagon officials said. The hostages were soon flown to a U.S. military base in neighboring Djibouti.

U.S. officials said they were moved to strike because they had received “actionable intelligence” that Buchanan’s health was rapidly deteriorating and could lead to kidney failure. The gunmen had just refused $1.5 million to let the two hostages go, Somali elders said.

A Danish Refugee Council official said Buchanan was “not that ill” but needed medicine. The family reported that her health is good, Meyer said, but there were no other details on her illness.

Before Buchanan’s family moved from Ohio years ago, she attended the now-closed Ridgeville Christian School in Springboro, north of Cincinnati. Buchanan was an elementary-education major at Valley Forge Christian, which has about 1,100 students, and had done a student-teaching stint at Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of her course work, Meyer said. She had been in Africa about five years when she was abducted.

“She fell in love with Africa,” Meyer said. “She could hardly talk about Africa without tears in her eyes.”

The aid workers had been kidnapped by two truckloads of gunmen as they headed to the airport in Galkayo, a central Somalia town on the edge of pirate territory. The two were representing the Danish Refugee Council, one of the few Western organizations still operating in the area, and were working with a mine-removal unit. The two had finished a workshop on land mines just before they were kidnapped.

Somali elders said the gunmen were part of an established pirate gang. Pirates operate with impunity in much of Somalia, which has languished without a functioning government for more than 20 years. As naval efforts have intensified on the high seas, stymying hijackings, Somali pirates seem increasingly to be snatching foreigners on land. Just last week, pirates grabbed another U.S. hostage not far from where the SEAL raid took place.

Somali pirates have held hostages for months, often in punishing conditions with little food, water or shelter, and past ransoms have topped $10 million. One British couple sailing around the world on a small boat was kidnapped by pirates from this same patch of central Somalia and held in captivity for more than a year.

Obama authorized the operation on Monday.

“As commander in chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission,” he said in a statement yesterday. “The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people.”

Pentagon officials said the SEALs dropped into the area by parachute about 2 a.m. and hiked nearly 2 miles to where the hostages were being held, near a small village called Hiimo Gaabo, south of Galkayo.

According to Pentagon officials, within minutes of the SEALs reaching the encampment, shots rang out. The hostages were quickly located and freed. In the gunbattle, the nine Somali gunmen, described as heavily armed, were killed.

Accounts differed as to whether the SEALs captured any of the gunmen, with local officials saying several had been taken. The Pentagon said no prisoners were taken.

Several hostages are still being held in Somalia, including a British tourist, two Spanish doctors and an American journalist kidnapped on Saturday.

Information from the Associated Press and McClatchy Newspapers was included in this story.

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