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Car Sharing Goes Electric

Car-sharing services around the world are starting to embrace electric vehicles.


Either paying by the hour for their car curbs drivers’ wanderlust, or car sharers just don't have far to go. While the average American drives between 30 and 40 miles a day, Zipcar users' average trip length clocks in below 25 miles. Since most existing electric vehicles can make it triple that distance, it makes sense that car-sharing services around the world are starting to embrace EVs.

This weekend, Autolib launched 66 electric “Bluecars” on the streets of Paris. The French company, backed by the government, plants to have a fleet of 250 EVs by the end of the year, and thousands available in the next few years. Autolib is planning one of the more ambitious shared electric vehicle rollouts, but the company isn't the first to turn out electric cars to the masses. In Montreal, Communauto launched 50 Nissan Leafs. In Nice, Auto-Bleue has 84 EVs available. Car2go, a Daimler project, has hundreds of electric vehicles in car sharing program in the German cities Ulm and Hamberg and in Austin, Texas, and is planning to lend out hundreds more in Vancouver and in San Diego.


In some cases, car shares are giving their members first crack at driving vehicles that aren’t available commercially. Zipcar members in Boston have had all year to test-drive Prius’ plug-in hybrids, which won’t be available for purchase in America until this coming spring, and then only in 14 Northeastern states.

Car shares could be electric vehicles’ back-door entrance to the mainstream. Most people aren’t eager to plunk down tens of thousands of dollars for technology that’s probably going to improve dramatically over the lifetime of a car purchased today. But the idea of taking an EV out for a spin is exciting, and with a car-sharing service, there’s little risk. Once potential car owners realize they can make it to the store and back without running out of juice, they’ll have that much greater a chance of getting over range anxiety and buying a car they can plug in.

But although Europeans are embracing EVs and smaller car shares programs in cities like Philadelphia and Chicago are jumping on board, Zipcar, America's biggest and best-known car service, has yet to incorporate many electric vehicles. Back in 2002, the company started using Toyota RAV4 electric SUVs, but most of its efforts have focused on hybrids. The eight plug-in Priuses the company put on the road in January can make it 13 miles at speeds up to 62 miles per hour on its battery alone, which means many trips would burn no gas.

The company is “actively testing” EV models this year and participating in grant programs to understand how well electric cars will work in a car-sharing model, says Greg Winter, a company spokesman.

“A shared model adds a layer of complexity to general concerns around the EV ‘state of charge’ since shared vehicles are used more heavily and by more people than personally-owned vehicles,” he says.

In other words, it’s no good planning to pick up your car share if you get in the driver’s seat and find it only has enough power to make it around the corner.

Photo via (cc) Flickr user justinpickard

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via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

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For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

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In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Communities
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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