‘You Don’t Own Me’ presents intriguing questions about ownership

“You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side” by Orly Lobel, 2017, W.W.Norton, $27.95, 304 pages.  As a kid, what was your favorite toy? You can probably remember it instantly: the thing you couldn’t bear to leave at home, the doll you spent hours with, the toy truck that road-tripped your imagination. Just thinking of it gives you a warm feeling and a wistful smile, but in “You Don’t Own Me” by Orly Lobel, you’ll read about two toy companies that weren’t playing around. Years after it happened, Carter Bryant couldn’t tell you what spurred him to think the way he did that sunny afternoon.

Loss of estate tax won’t just affect wealthy

As Congress begins discussion on proposed changes to the tax code, there are often small points that take a while to attract the public’s attention. One of those is the proposed elimination of the federal estate tax. By current law, estates under $5.49 million are not subject to estate taxes. With a bit of planning, a married couple can have $10.98 million of an estate shielded from estate taxes. The current law pegs the taxable level to inflation, so the amount subject to tax will move with the economy.

Photo courtesy of Efficiency Vermont
Christa Alexander at Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho.

Farm grows year-round with efficiency help

Fifteen years ago, Christa Alexander and Mark Fasching started selling extra produce from their prolific vegetable garden. They invested in some chickens, then some livestock, some more land, and before they knew it were farming full-time. Fast forward to today. Jericho Settlers Farm is a thriving diversified, organic farm with a large number of wholesale clients as well as CSA, farmers market offerings and a farm stand. And now, by pairing onsite solar power and biomass heating with energy efficiency, the farm has managed to extend its growing season almost to year-round.

Josh Squier, co-owner of Breezy Meadow Orchard and Nursery in Tinmouth, stands next to a 4 kilowatt photovoltaic array that was destroyed by the wind storm last week.

State assessing storm’s damage to Vermont farms

MONTPELIER — Vermont farms this week continued efforts to recover from the monster wind storm that left nearly one out of three Vermonters without power last week. State officials said they’ve yet to calculate the full extent of the damage from the Oct. 29 storm, or its impact on Vermont agriculture and maple sugar production. “Certainly, it was a doozy (of a storm) — no doubt about it,” said Anson Tebbetts, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets in Montpelier. “One plus is it was warm enough to deal with.”
Tebbetts said about three dozen farms last week reported damage to buildings and equipment or crippling power outages, and “we know there are many more.”
“We have a tremendous amount of farmers that are using generators to power their farms and feed their (livestock),” he said.

Roger Pion, Donna Pion and Luke Persons have researched and built a machine to produce biochar, a carbon soil builder that reduces the need for chemical fertilizers in agriculture.

Farmers exploring ‘super soil’ as alternative to chemicals

BARTON — As any successful farmer or gardener knows, trying to plant in soil starved of nutrients and moisture almost guarantees failure. Working with soil treated with carbon “biochar,” however, is like working with dirt on natural steroids. Biochar is a powerful soil-builder that improves soil fertility and water retention. It reduces the need for chemicals and fertilizers and holds onto nutrients and water like a paper towel. Even better, biochar persists in the soil for hundreds of years, proving its value as a “sustainable” resource in food production.

Freelancers, small businesses struggle to get paid

The Associated Press
NEW YORK — For many freelancers and owners of small businesses, signing up clients and completing projects is just one part of the work. Trying to get paid can be almost as time-consuming. Sandy Sloane needed 11 months of persistence before one client paid in full for her publicity and event-planning work. The client was having cash flow problems, but said he was paying other vendors. He put off paying Sloane although their $4,000 contract stipulated he would pay within 30 days.


‘Power UP’: Survival in a male-dominated economy

“Power UP: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy,” by Magdalena Yeşil, 2017, Seal Press, $27, 230 pages
One. For many years, that’s the number of women there were in your department at work. One (you), or maybe a few more, but not many. You survived it, for sure, but times have absolutely changed since then. And in the new book, “Power UP,” by Magdalena Yeşil, they’re still changing, even now.

Leticia Miranda sits at her doorstep in the former Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics building in the Mangueira favela of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When Miranda, 28, lost her job selling newspapers about six months ago amid Brazil’s worst economic crisis in decades, she had no choice but to move to an abandoned building where several hundred people were already living.
Felipe Dana / AP PHOTO

Millions return to poverty in Brazil, eroding ‘boom’ decade

The Associated Press
RIO DE JANEIRO — When Leticia Miranda had a job selling newspapers on the streets, she earned about $160 a month, just enough to pay for a tiny apartment she shared with her 8-year-old son in a poor neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. When she lost her job about six months ago amid Brazil’s worst economic crisis in decades, Miranda had no choice but to move to an abandoned building where several hundred people were already living. All of her possessions — a bed, a fridge, a stove and some clothes — have been jammed into a small room that like all the others in the building has windows with no glass. Residents bathe in large garbage cans filled with water and do their best to live with the stench of mountains of trash and rummaging pigs in the center of the building. “I want to leave here, but there is nowhere to go,” said Miranda, 28, dressed in a bikini top, shorts and sandals to deal with the heat.

Provided photo
This wind turbine was created by Northern Power Systems of Barre. The company has received a federal grant to refines its designs for smaller turbines.

Barre, East Dorset companies rewarded for wind turbine designs

Two Vermont companies will each share in a federal grant to produce better and less costly smaller wind-turbine energy technology for the global market. The grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Labs is the result of a national competition for the best small wind-turbine design under 52 feet in diameter. NREL awarded Northern Power Systems of Barre a $347,911 competitive cost-shared grant to develop a larger rotor design for its flagship NPS 100 turbine system. Northern Power hopes to reduce the system’s levelized cost of energy production, the value of the unit’s cost of electricity over the lifetime of generating, by 14 percent through expansion of the NPS 100 rotor size from 24 to 32 meters in diameter. “The grant will help Northern research and design a turbine model that will move us even further down the productivity/cost continuum, so that it will be possible for organizations in lower-wind environments to save money by making their own power,” said Maureen McCracken, Northern Power marketing manager.

Gov. Phil Scott visits the Colchester plant of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England with Mike Hammond, general manager, and  Mike Elmer, director of human resources, during a celebration of the plant's 40th anniversary.

NE Coke bottler deal includes Rutland distributor

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England has closed a deal with The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta that includes the purchase of a second distribution center in Vermont, Rutland Coca-Cola. The New England bottler also owns Burlington Coca-Cola of Colchester. The deal represents a significant expansion for the Bedford, New Hampshire-based company, which now owns and manages operations in all of New England and several areas of New York state including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and New York City, and a section of Pennsylvania. The company, which had operated one manufacturing center and 10 sales and distribution centers in Northern New England, has added two manufacturing plants and 19 distribution centers that were formerly part of Coca-Cola Refreshments, a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company. “We’re very excited to grow our presence in Vermont.