London’s New Tax Aims to Lower Pollution

London is the latest city to decide its skies are still too polluted. After efforts in recent years from fellow European cities (including a carless day in Paris in 2015) helped to raise awareness though little else, London has settled upon a plan to make a serious dent in its air pollution problem.

In recent years, London has raised its commuting rates to extremely high levels, but the city still feels not enough has been done. Now, it will add an incredible 13 dollar charge per day for older cars that don’t meet the most recent emissions standards. The price is surely designed to force owners of old cars to either buy new or else start commuting by public transportation.

The increasing pollution of major cities, even in the West, has lead many to demand greater and more drastic steps like those taken by London.

Though such drastic steps are popular in big cities across the West, including in America, such issues tend to fail on the macro scale of whole countries, in particular, America.

Recent steps from the Trump administration have, if anything, done the opposite of London’s new law, by removing clean air regulations on a number of industries.

At the same time, many industries are still willing to accommodate the demands of cities and are keeping up with regulations even if they are (or soon will be) rescinded by President Trump. Many are using novel new technology in order to bring their factories and other industrial businesses into compliance with recent US standards and those set by the Paris Accord (which President Trump has promised to back out of).

With renewable energy and natural gas producing increasingly larger amounts of America’s energy, some suggest the country may yet meet the Paris Accord demands regardless of White House policy.

None of that will come close to the plans of London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, however. Khan hopes to put London on the path to being a zero-emissions city by 2040. While such ambitious plans may leave many skeptical, a number of London’s big steps are being followed by other cities.

Los Angeles and Seattle (and London) are among the 12 cities that have pledged to only buy zero-emission busses from 2025 onward. Los Angeles, in particular, is eager to improve its air quality, since it is the most polluted city in the US.

While the efforts of London and elsewhere have generally been lauded in principle, London’s new tax is not getting universal praise. The Conservatives have come out against the policy, suggesting it will disproportionately hit small business owners and the city’s shrinking poor population.

On the other side, many environmentalists feel the efforts, while moving in the right direction, are not doing enough to deal with London’s serious pollution issues. They would like to see far more extreme policies implemented.

Chicago ordinance beautifies city

It is common knowledge that greener landscapes lead to a variety of health and economic benefits. A beautiful and lush city can hide unsightly buildings and parking garages, provide a natural habitat for native insects and birds, and can increase the number of people who choose to live and work in the area. Some cities like Chicago have their own landscaping ordinances that mandate landscaping be taken into account when designing and putting up new buildings, but not every building project needs to adhere to this rule.

According to cityofchicago.org, the city’s official website, the landscaping ordinance has been in effect since 1991 for the purpose of beautifying the city, alleviating noise and air pollution, cooling the streets, and increasing the local property values (which would then lead to more property taxes being collected). Not only limited to new buildings, but construction companies must also have a landscaping plan in place for proposed additions to buildings if those additions are larger than 1500 square feet. Interestingly enough, parkway plantings are also required if repairs are being done on a building that is not expanding, as long as the structural repairs exceed 50% of the cost to replace the entire building; this even applies to interior decorating and repairs. Greenery must also be included in parking lots if they are going to be larger than 3000 square feet, and if a parking lot is be expanding beyond 25% of its current size, then planting standards must be met. However, if the proposed parking lot is smaller than 1200 square feet, then the ordinance does not apply to them.

What this ordinance neglects is personal dwellings and residential buildings that have fewer than three living units. This is understandable because this ordinance is meant to beautiful the inner city where there are relatively few single family homes. In addition, there would likely be much opposition to legislation that tries to dictate the amount of greenery you must plant in your yard (even though most HOAs do so anyway). However, just because an ordinance of this sort may not apply to you, it is still generally a good idea to undertake personal beautification projects. Many landscaping companies, like Ware Landscaping in the Chicago area, can help you choose the perfect selection of trees and plants to fit your home and raise your property value as well as your standard of living.

All large cities should have an ordinance of this sort to ensure that there is sufficient greenery around to keep residents and visitors healthy and happy. The Chicago ordinance has a few workarounds, however. Construction companies could easily get around the parking lot rule by building separate parking lots that are all under 1200 square feet, for example, and businesses would take care to make sure their repair costs are under half of the replacement cost. Even though this ordinance may not be perfect, it is certainly a step in the right direction to having more beautiful cities.

The Causes of Car Accidents

Around 2.35 million people are injured or disabled due to automobile accidents each year on US roads and many affected Americans may be uncertain what to do following an accident, especially in the face of mounting medical costs. Fortunately, even if you aren’t harmed in an accident, there are many legal options that you might consider if you have any reason to believe that the accident was not your fault. Law firms like Habush Habush & Rottier S.C offer services for car accidents if they result from any of the following:

  • Driver Error
  • Reckless Driving
  • Speeding
  • Drunk Driving
  • Mechanical Defects/Malfunctions
  • Highway Defects

Driver Error is probably the most common cause of automobile accidents. If any of the other drivers involved in the accident were distracted by the radio, failed to check their blind spot, or turned without signaling, they may be wholly or partially liable for any expenses incurred in the accident. If your accident resulted from any of these or similar behaviors, you may be eligible for representation and compensation.

Reckless Driving includes many of the behaviors covered by driver error. If any other drivers involved in your accident were driving irresponsibly or recklessly, you may not be liable for the damages incurred by the accident.

Speeding is driving at speeds that exceed the posted legal limit. If you believe that any other drivers involved in the crash were driving at speeds that exceed the posted limit for the site of the accident, you should contact a lawyer to see if you are eligible for legal representation.

Drunk Driving and alcohol use, unfortunately, result in many car accidents, injuries, and deaths in the United States. The legal limit in all 50 states is BAC .08%. If any of the other drivers involved in your accident were under the influence of alcohol, you may be eligible to receive compensation for any medicals and legal costs.

Mechanical Defects/Malfunctions, just like people, can cause automobile accidents. This category includes things like airbag defects, engine malfunctions, faulty brake design, etc. Car manufacturers have a legal responsibility to the safety of their customers. If you have reason to believe that any structural problems in the design of your vehicle caused or contributed to your accident, it is possible that you may have limited or zero liability in the accident.

Highway Defects can also cause car accidents. Like corporations, the government has a legal obligation to ensure the safety of drivers by safely constructing and maintaining roads. Insufficient signage, potholes, poor road design, and lack of shoulder space are common contributors to automobile accidents. If your accident resulted from any of these highway defects, you might not hold all liability for the accident.

If you have been involved in an automobile accident that resulted from anything described above, you might be eligible for legal representation and financial compensation. Take the time to research the above topics and contact a lawyer to see if you can get help dealing with your car accident.

Long Term Disability Insurance and Social Security Disability Benefits

Injuries or illnesses that result to long-term disability have long-lasting effects that can render any person unable to perform work for at least six months. For those who are employed and enjoy an employer-sponsored comprehensive employee benefits package that includes a long term disability (LTD) insurance policy, the cash benefits their (LTD) insurance policy pays can serve as a financial safety net for the duration of 5 or 10 years, or until the insured employee reaches the age of 65 (duration actually depends on the plan purchased).

Long-term disability insurance (LTD) is a type of insurance policy that is designed to protect an employee from loss of income in the event that he/she becomes incapable of work, due to illness, injury, or accident, for a long period of time.

Though long-term disability insurance ensures that an employee will still receive a percentage of his/her income, typically about 50% – 70%, it will not pay cash benefits to employees who sustain work-related accidents or injuries that are covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance program.

LTD is usually employer-sponsored. If a company, however, does not offer long term disability insurance, then an employee has the option to purchase an individual long-term disability plan from his/her preferred insurance agent; he/she can also purchase a personal supplemental long term disability insurance policy for additional coverage (unlike an LTD insurance policy, which is subjected to taxes, a supplemental LTD insurance is tax exempt). Some employees actually consider purchasing supplemental long-term disability insurance because an employer-sponsored long term disability insurance is usually insufficient to meet a disabled employee’s needs.

Additional information provided by Fields Disability lawyers regarding LTD says that most long-term disability policies require that any extra income you receive be deducted (off-set) from your payable long-term disability benefits. This requirement is usually put in place to alleviate the long-term disability carriers’ costs in paying out benefits. Thus, to reduce the amount an LTD carrier will be required to pay you, it will have you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, which are considered as “income” and, therefore, can be off-set from the amount a carrier will pay.

Child Custody: How much do You Want to be Your Child’s Custodian?

Child custody is one of the issues that lengthen a divorce process. In many divorce cases, both parents do not want to be separated from their child. Long before, child custody was awarded solely to the mother, due to the observance of a practice called “maternal preference.” This preference was based on the presumption that mother were better equipped with the love and concern necessary in raising children.

Today, many courts consider awarding custody of a child to both parents, especially if this will be in the child’s best interest. This joint custody is most probably the decision a court would arrive at, unless one parent is deemed and proven unfit by the court. Being judged as an unfit parent can be due to many different reasons, such as a parent: being abusive to his/her child; a bad influence to the child (can be due to use and dependence to illegal drugs and/or alcohol); exposing the child or allowing the child to be exposed to pornographic elements; using excessive forms of disciplinary acts; or was charged or convicted of a crime.

Two other important factors considered by the court when deciding who gets child custody are parent’s involvement in the child’s activities and the environment where the parent resides. Spending time with the child and being there when he/she needs the parent most, like in school plays, school meetings and other activities are greatly considered and appreciated by the court.

If the environment can put the child’s health at risk, though, or compromise his/her safety, maybe due to the regularity of crimes in the neighborhood or open use of illegal drugs, then these may affect the court’s decision.

The ill behavior of a new partner, which may have an unfavorable effect on the child, can also keep the court from deciding in favor of one parent. Many other things are considered by the court, including the possible custodian’s health, age and financial opportunities. Some parents look for really good lawyers who can strongly defend their interests and fight for their right in court in order to have the advantage of winning custody of their child.

As explained in the website of the law firm Marshall & Taylor, PLLC, “A court will never side with the parent who violates the terms of the child custody agreement specified in the court agreement. Even if the parent has noble reasons for doing so, in the eyes of the law he or she will always be wrong. In addition to that, if the ex-couple agrees to an amendment of the terms of the child custody agreement, this amendment should be formalized in written form before being acted on. Otherwise, the resulting action will always be a violation.”

A divorce process is not only emotionally draining and painful, but complex as well. Having an experienced lawyer guiding you through its whole process may help you see to it that your rights and interests are recognized and respected.