Tight living spaces in residence call for creative packing, repurposing

When New Yorker Wendy Koch’s son Bob headed off to Ithaca College freshman year, the car was loaded with great stuff – too much of it. That the nice Pottery Barn rug barely fit in the car should have been the tip-off.

“We were taking our seventh trip up three flights of stairs to the tiny dorm room in stifling temps when his roommate turned to Bob and said, ‘You could probably make a lot of money selling all this stuff on eBay,” Koch recalls. “There just wasn’t room in the room.”

Making the shopping list for the first college or university living experience is exciting, but pros say to be prudent about how much stuff you buy. Rooms often seem smaller than the floor plans indicate. That spacious-looking common room? More like a foyer. And as one veteran of the dorm wars notes, you’ll never again have the closet space you did at home.

So think about smart storage that maximizes space yet looks good.

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Unless you’re able to repurpose them as tables, suitcases may not be the best option; they might not fit under the bed or in the closet. Collapsible, storable bags work great. Samsonite’s sturdy nylon Tote-a-Ton bag has 105,729 cubic centimetres of space. Dormco杭州夜网 has the Clothes & Go system, which lets you take hanging clothes right out of the closet into foldable bags with a shoulder strap – at the dorm, just rehang.

Bed, Bath & Beyond has a ventilated, clear vinyl six-shelf sweater rack that hangs on a rod – easy to see what’s in it. Some online shoppers have raved about the retailer’s Dorm Space Saver, which assembles with no tools and, being the same width as the bed, serves as an extra headboard or footboard with shelves.

Meg Volk, who graduated this spring from the Fashion Institute of Technology and has traded a tiny dorm room for an equally tiny studio apartment in New York City, recommends “small, lightweight, wheeled dress racks that will fit in your closet” for added hang space. If you do need to come with suitcases, she suggests, use them for out-of-season storage and last semester’s papers.

Dorm gear is often grouped by classic gender colours and patterns – pinks, purples, baroque and animal prints for females, and surfer, sports, blues and browns for guys. It’s better to choose neutral bedding that you won’t tire of, and put the pattern and colour punch in posters and memorabilia collected during the school year.

Ikea’s Dokument series of functional mesh metal desk accessories might appeal to girls or guys. Their Kassett boxes are cheap and sturdy storage options for papers; choose from an array of colours including white, black and orange. The Oleby lamp is a good-looking task light. And Ikea’s giant plastic shopping bags make great dirty clothes totes, for the Laundromat or for the bus ride home to free cleaning.

Dormco’s Bunk Pocket is a convenient neoprene catchall for electronics that slips over a bedpost.

Kenyon College junior Trevor Ezell, who recently returned from a semester studying in England and travelling around Europe, says a duffel bag was brilliant for studying abroad.

“They can be expanded to hold lots of stuff, yet collapsed to store away easily,” he says. What not to pack for long-distance study? “Anything other than clothes,” advises Ezell.

“Students studying abroad run the risk of bringing things that might prevent them from absorbing local culture. If you bring a basketball, you might not throw a rugby ball. Bring one overcoat, not several. And one dress-up outfit.” Good advice even for students not headed to foreign lands.

Both Bed, Bath & Beyond and Wal-Mart offer services that let you shop online and pick up the items in or near the college town. If your child is flying or your car is small, it’s a great option.

Sourcebook:

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活dormco杭州夜网 – Bunk Pocket, $6.94; Clothes & Go bag, $19.99;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活ikea杭州夜网 – Oleby work lamp, $9.99; Dokument files, waste bin and letter tray, two for $1.99-$7.99; Kassett boxes, $5.99;

杭州桑拿按摩论坛杭州夜生活bedbathandbeyond杭州夜网 – Dorm Space Saver, $59.99; Samsonite Tote-a-Ton bag, $29.99; clear vinyl sweater rack, $19.99.

Canadian surveillance planes join propaganda war; urge Gadhafi forces to go home

CATANIA, Italy – Canada has joined an air war of a different kind in the skies over Libya, one where persuasion and sometimes insults are the weapons.

Canadian CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes recently started broadcasting propaganda messages aimed at forces loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

It’s a psychological warfare operation, or PSYOPS, initially started by the Americans but now overseen by NATO _ the kind of mission western militaries are reluctant to talk about openly.

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The Canadian broadcasts are relatively benign in comparison to some of the harsher messages NATO has aimed at Gadhafi’s troops, in which women’s voices are telling them to stop “killing the children.”

The Canadian messages, in English, are read hourly during patrols along the Libyan coast over AM/FM frequencies that Libyans usually monitor.

“For your safety return to your family and your home,” says the message, which can be heard over unencrypted frequencies the military uses to broadcast basic information.

“The Gadhafi regime forces are violating United Nations resolution 1973.”

The message goes on to urge Gadhafi’s troops not to take part in further hostilities and not to harm their fellow countrymen.

The Libyans have apparently yelled back telling the “Yankee pigdogs” to go home. On at least one occasion last week, an Arabic sounding voice challenged the broadcasts.

“Who are you talking to?” the voice asked.

“Anyone who will listen,” replied the other voice who had read the message.

Gadhafi’s regime has tried to jam the transmissions.

A Canadian air force spokeswoman wouldn’t talk about the broadcasts, calling it “a NATO policy.” She referred all questions to the alliance’s southern headquarters in Naples.

NATO officials were also reluctant to talk and asked not to be quoted on the record.

“Since the start of operations NATO have been encouraging pro-(Gadhafi) forces to lay down their arms,” said one military official on background.

The “NATO mission is to prevent attacks and threats against civilians and we are doing it with care and precision. NATO will continue to keep up the pressure on those forces which are attacking or threatening civilians and civilian populated areas until that violence comes to an end.”

The messages are part of a stepped up PSYOPS campaign which is sometimes referred to in the army as the “black art.” Italian aircraft dropped propaganda leaflets over Tripoli last May as part of the increased pressure.

At the beginning of the air war, the United States dispatched its secret, specially outfitted C-130J transport plane known as “Commando Solo” to warn Libyan ships to stay in port or risk being destroyed by NATO.

Although propaganda broadcasts have been around a long time and reached their zenith during the Second World War, the use of radio and sometimes television messages broadcast from aircraft to bend the mind of enemies goes back to the Vietnam War era.

The two Aurora surveillance planes, with crews and support teams from Nova Scotia and B.C., were initially tasked with monitoring the sea lanes around Libya to watch for ships trying to skirt the UN arms embargo.

They have also been searching for some of the mines the pro-Gadhafi forces have dropped into the water near major ports.

“We support the maritime commander in whatever he requires,” said Maj. Jeff Rodger, the Aurora detachment commander who belongs to 407 Squadron out of Comox, B.C.

But as the Libyan conflict unfolded, the aircraft have been used more for their ability to spy on ground threats and to catalogue possible Gadhafi regime vehicles and command centres.

It is patient and precise work for aircrew who end up on the extended missions that fly right up to the Libyan coastline. Some of the aircrew compared it to cops on a stakeout.

“Sometimes, it just as simply as following something for a while to see where it goes and what it does,” said Capt. Jerry Collins, of 405 Squadron, based in Greenwood, N.S.

Occasionally, they end up witnessing battles – or the aftermath of fighting – through their high-resolution cameras and sensors.

“They’re always jockeying back and forth for position,” said Collins. “All we do is take note of it. Times. Places. Positions.”

It can be tough sometimes to turn away from the displays. “People are losing their lives,” said Collins.

He added that bearing witness and passing information back so that NATO jet fighters can target Gadhafi forces is “why we’re here, to make this stops.”

The patrols can sometimes be gruelling in the 30-year-old Auroras, which are used for coastal surveillance and fisheries patrols back home.

Designed as an anti-submarine warfare plane, the crews jokingly describe it as a “flying Winnebago” for its 1980s decor and aft kitchen where meals can be taken on long flights.

Japan’s prime minister renews call to reduce nuclear power dependency as some defend its use

TOKYO – Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Friday called for a long-term and careful effort to scale back the nation’s reliance on nuclear power over the next four decades and make more use of solar energy and other renewable power sources.

Responding to concerns raised by Japan’s March 11 tsunami, Kan called for investment in renewables, a re-examination of the national policy promoting the private development of nuclear power and a reworking of the control regional power companies have over their markets.

His broad-brush announcement calls for a “planned and gradual” reduction of nuclear dependence by 2050 and is an attempt to unify the government’s stance on nuclear policy.

“We aim for a society that does not depend on nuclear power,” Kan said. “It is very important for us to have a meaningful debate on this issue.”

Kan has already said he intends to step down as soon as the country’s recovery is on track, and his government is deeply divided over what approach it should take toward nuclear power.

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Earlier this month, he said he would like to see his country completely phase out nuclear power in light of the crisis at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. But he was opposed in that stance by members of his own Cabinet and slammed by the opposition as irresponsible.

He later clarified that his remarks reflected only his “personal opinion.”

The plan announced Friday has the basic support of his Cabinet.

Resource-poor Japan has long pursued an aggressive nuclear power policy. Before the disaster it relied on nuclear for about a third of its electricity and was aiming to increase that share to about one-half by 2030.

Amid a public outcry over nuclear safety, Kan has led a rethinking of that policy.

Public opinion toward nuclear energy has been harsh since the earthquake and tsunami touched off fires, explosions and meltdowns at the Fukushima facility. Some 80,000 residents near the plant were evacuated, and a 12-mile (20-kilometre) ring around it remains off-limits.

Powerful segments of government and industry, however, argue that nuclear is necessary for Japan’s economy, that it is relatively safe and clean despite the recent dissater and that alternative energy sources are too expensive to make up the difference.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that runs the plant, says although the worst of the crisis has subsided, it will likely take years to conduct the cleanup and repairs. The Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors will not be operational again.

Currently, 35 of Japan’s 54 reactors are idle, causing electricity shortages amid sweltering heat. The government has ordered safety checks on all reactors after the disaster – the worst nuclear crisis since Chornobyl.

With the loss of the Fukushima plant, which used to supply power to Tokyo areas, companies, factories and shopping malls are making government-ordered cutbacks in the amount of energy they use.

New fuel standards aim to save consumers money and cut back on heat-trapping gases from autos

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama and automakers ushered in what could be the largest cut in fuel consumption since the 1970s on Friday with a deal that would save drivers money at the pump and dramatically cut heat-trapping gases coming from tailpipes.

The agreement pledges to double overall fuel economy to 54.5 mpg by 2025, bringing even greater under-the-hood changes to the nation’s autos starting in model year 2017 and introduce more electric and hybrid technology to pickup trucks. Cars and trucks on the road today average 27 mpg.

“This agreement on fuel standards represents the single most important step we have taken as a nation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Obama said, sharing the stage with top executives of 11 major automakers and a top automobile workers union official, before a backdrop of some of the most cutting-edge cars and pickup trucks on the road.

“Just as cars will go further on a gallon of gas, our economy will go further on a barrel of oil,” Obama said.

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When achieved, the 54.5 mpg target would reduce U.S. oil consumption from vehicles by 40 per cent and halve the amount of greenhouse gas pollution coming out of tailpipes. It builds on a 2009 deal between the Obama administration and automakers, which committed cars and trucks to averaging 35.5 mpg by model year 2016.

For American families, the president said the agreement – which will be subject to a midcourse review – means filling up the car every two weeks, instead of every week. That would save $8,000 in fuel costs over the life of a vehicle purchased in 2025, compared with a 2010 model, a White House analysis said.

The changes also are likely to push up the cost of a new vehicle, but just how much is unclear because the regulation still has to be written. That process will get started in September.

The mileage target announced Friday isn’t exactly what consumers will see in their future cars. A formula that gives credits to manufacturers for electric cars, the use of low-emission air conditioning refrigerant and technology that shuts down engines at traffic lights means the actual fuel economy is likely to come in closer to about 40 mpg. Stickers on future cars and trucks will also display different numbers because they’ll be based on real-world mileage tests.

The deal was less than what environmentalists and public health advocates wanted but more than desired by the Detroit Three – General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. In a letter to the president last week, Michigan lawmakers called the White House’s initial proposal of 56.2 mpg “overly aggressive,” after automakers had said they’d work to get vehicles averaging 42.6 to 46.7 mpg. Green groups, meanwhile, had pushed for a 62 mpg target by 2025.

For Obama, who watched his campaign promise to limit global warming pollution die when Republicans retook control of the House, the compromise provides a way around political roadblocks and a down payment on climate change.

The deal also provides an answer to critics who say the president has not done enough to address high gasoline prices. It promises to reduce demand at a time when Republicans in Congress have criticized Obama for being too slow to drill and not opening up more areas to oil and gas exploration after the massive Gulf oil spill last year.

And at a time when a consensus in Congress is elusive on the debt ceiling and curbing the federal deficit, the president said the fuel economy deal was a “valuable lesson to” Washington.

“You are all demonstrating what can happen when people put aside differences,” Obama said. “These folks are competitors, you’ve got labour and business. But they said we are going to work together to achieve something important and lasting for the country.”

But by Friday evening, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, had sent letters to the 13 automobile manufacturers that agreed to the deal saying they should preserve all records because he was launching an investigation. Issa alleges that the new mandate was decided without the input of consumers and Congress and could harm consumers.

“It appears that these actions will have the effect of determining the types of vehicles available to consumers, their use, and other factors otherwise best left to consumer choice,” Issa said in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press.

For automakers, particularly the Detroit Three, the deal signalled a turnaround from the days when they resisted boosting fuel economy targets, arguing that consumers would not buy smaller and more efficient cars and that the technology to reduce fuel consumption was too expensive.

That stance has been challenged in recent years by a 2007 energy law that mandated the government evaluate and set new fuel economy targets, by a Supreme Court decision that said the Environmental Protection Agency had the authority to control global warming pollution from vehicles, and by a state – California – that has set stricter emissions standards than the rest of the country.

Mary Nichols, chairman of the California Air Resources Board, said auto companies wanted “one set of cars they could sell anywhere in the U.S.” and the changes the deal would bring would meet state targets. “We will accept standards that were announced today as being compliant with California standards through 2025 unless and until there is a change,” she said.

A $62 billion taxpayer-funded bailout for GM and Chrysler added to the White House’s leverage.

Some environmentalists lauded the agreement Friday but said that manufacturers owed taxpayers a bigger deal after bailing them out.

“An auto industry that owes its survival to taxpayer bailouts ungratefully flouted the public’s demand for fuel efficiency and less pollution, fighting for loopholes until the bitter end,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign.

For consumers, the new requirements are well beyond the gas mileage of all but the most efficient cars on the road today.

By the time the new standards take effect, the government expects gas-electric hybrids to make up about half the lineup of new vehicles, with electric vehicles making up about 10 per cent of the fleet.

Currently hybrid and electric vehicles combined amount to less than 3 per cent of U.S. vehicle sales, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

They’d also force auto companies to get rid of some less-efficient models as they try to boost gas mileage of their lineups. But that depends on how quickly new technology can be developed. Pickup trucks, which rank as some of the biggest sellers for American automobile companies, get a slight reprieve under the agreement. They will only have to increase fuel economy in the first five years by 3.5 per cent. After that time, they will have to match the 5 per cent annual increase for cars.

Automakers are far better prepared with a much stronger line up of small cars, as well as hybrid and electric vehicles. General Motors and Nissan are selling mass-market electric vehicles, while Mitsubishi, Ford, Toyota and others are about to enter the market.

Nissan’s vice-president Scott Becker in a statement said the Obama administration has issued some extremely challenging greenhouse gas reduction and fuel economy improvement targets, but Nissan was “up to the task.”

Nissan introduced the LEAF, the world’s first and only 100 per cent electric car for the mass market, in December 2010. More than 4,000 of the 99 miles-per-gallon vehicles are already on the road.

GM and Ford already have small gasoline-fueled cars that get 40 mpg or better on the highway, and Chrysler will have one next year. Small car sales are up 21 per cent so far this year, showing consumer interest is up.

That is perhaps the deal’s best selling point.

“It is hard to call higher fuel economy standards job killing when all of the automotive companies support it, and the United Auto Workers support it,” said Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

Ron Bloom, the White House’s chief negotiator on the deal, said Friday it was “an example of industry starting to lead the parade.”

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Krisher contributed reporting from Detroit.

Follow Dina Cappiello on Twitter: (at)dinacappiello.

British lawmakers probing phone hacking scandal ask James Murdoch to clarify testimony

LONDON – British lawmakers on Friday demanded James Murdoch clarify why testimony he gave to a parliamentary committee probing the phone hacking scandal conflicted with a statement from two former executives.

Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer of media giant News Corp., and his father, tycoon Rupert Murdoch, testified about the widening allegations of phone tapping and bribery at the Murdoch-owned News of the World tabloid.

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The Culture, Media and Sport Committee said Friday it now wanted more information from the younger Murdoch because his testimony was disputed by former News of the World editor Colin Myler and Tom Crone, former lawyer for News Corp.’s British arm, News International.

The two men released a statement contradicting Murdoch’s claim that he was not aware of an email containing information about hacked voicemails, saying they did inform him of the document.

John Whittingdale, the parliamentary committee’s chair, said he was writing Murdoch, Myler and Crone for clarification.

“We are going to write to ask for further details from various areas where evidence is disputed,” Whittingdale said.

He said the committee decided not to take the additional step of recalling Murdoch to another hearing, saying they wanted to consider his written answers first.

“We want to hear exactly how they dispute that. I suspect it very likely that we will want to hear oral evidence. If they do come back with statements that are quite plainly different from those given by James Murdoch, we will want to hear James Murdoch’s response to that,” he said.

James Murdoch had said he stood by his testimony but would provide a written response to follow-up questions.

His father said during the July 19 hearing that he accepted no responsibility for wrongdoing amid widening claims that News of the World illegally accessed cellphone messages and bribed police to get information on celebrities, politicians and crime victims.

The latest potential hacking victim is Sara Payne, mother of an 8-year-old girl murdered by a pedophile in 2000. On Thursday a charity co-founded by Payne said her details had been found in the files of Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective employed by the News of the World.

Mulcaire was jailed in 2007, along with reporter Clive Goodman, for hacking into the voicemail messages of royal staff. For years, News International maintained hacking was limited to the two rogue employees. Executives now admit it went wider – but James Murdoch and others insist they had no knowledge of it.

Mulcaire issued a statement through his lawyer Friday admitting phone hacking and apologizing “to those who have been hurt and affected by his activities.”

But he insisted he had not acted alone.

“As an employee he acted on the instructions of others … any suggestion that he acted in such matters unilaterally is untrue,” he said.

Earlier Friday, a British man who interrupted the hearing when he threw a shaving-cream pie at the tycoon was convicted of assault and causing harassment.

Jonathan May-Bowles hurled a paper plate with a pile of shaving cream at Murdoch as he was giving evidence to the committee. The activist, who admitted the crime during an appearance at a London court, was due to be sentenced Aug. 2.

Also Friday, the head of Britain’s press watchdog stepped down amid heavy criticism about the organization’s handling of the scandal.

Peta Jane Buscombe said she will not continue as chairman of the Press Complaints Commission after her term ends next year.

The body has been widely criticized for failing to curb tabloid excesses. A judge-led inquiry into hacking will consider whether Britain needs a tougher system of media regulation.