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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

New York Times apologises for mocking India's Mars mission

NEW DELHI: The New York Times has apologised after having been severely criticised by many readers over a demeaning, ‘racist’ cartoon ridiculing India’s successful Mars mission.

India garnered worldwide appreciation as it triumphed in its first interplanetary attempt by putting a satellite into orbit around Mars but in all the obsession around the 'Mangalyaan' a cartoon carried by The New York Times, that showed an Indian farmer with a cow knocking at the door of a room marked 'Elite Space Club', came in for severe censure for being racist.

The caricature shows two members of the 'Elite Space Club' reading a newspaper on India's feat and look perturbed with the Indian farmer knocking at their door.

The cartoon was criticised for overlooking the importance of the Mars mission that is seen by many as a major boost in India's space programme.

Following scores of complains from its readers, The New York Times newspaper had decided to tender an apology.



The cartoon:

Radioactivity in Norway's reindeer hits high

Much higher levels of radioactivity than normal have been found among Norway's grazing animals, especially its reindeer population, a study revealed on Monday.

Almost 30 years after the nuclear plant explosion in Chernobyl, this autumn, more radioactivity has been measured in Norwegian grazing animals than has been noted in many years.

Lavrans Skuterud, a scientist at the Norwegian Radiation ProtectionAuthority (Statens strålevern), said: “This year is extreme.”

In September, 8200 becquerel per kilo of the radioactive substance Caesium-137 was measured in reindeer from Våga reinlag AS, in Jotunheimen, central Norway.

In comparison, the highest amount at the same place was 1500 becquerel among the reindeer in September 2012.



Report: Teacher has wife phone in bomb threat to get him out of staff meeting

A New York City charter school teacher could face disciplinary action this week after he jokingly texted his wife to call in a bomb threat during a boring staff meeting, and she followed through.

The employee at Renaissance Charter High School for Innovation in East Harlem, identified only as Eric, reportedly texted his wife to “call in a bomb threat during” the school’s dull morning staff meeting last week, and followed up with a test “haha,” but his wife didn’t see the second message until after she called police, the New York Post reports.

“She called the cops, reporting a bomb threat at the school, which shares a building with three other charter schools at 410 E. 100th St., police sources said,” according to the news site.

The woman immediately called back when she realized the mix-up, but eight uniformed officers went to check out the report, anyway.



Mike Luckovich Toon- Congrats!

A momentous victory for justice and transparency at Guantánamo

by Alka Pradhan

“Fairness” is not a word often associated with Guantánamo Bay, with its hope-starved prisoners who have sat in steel cells, away from their families, for 12 years. “Openness” is not a concept typically applied to the infamous camp, about which President Barack Obama’s administration has hidden more information than even the George W. Bush administration did — down to the current number of hunger strikers protesting their continued detention without charges.

Last week my hunger-striking client Abu Wa’el Dhiab — with the help of an engaged public — managed to win victories for both openness and fairness at Guantánamo. In a pitched court battle, on Thursday we stopped a last-minute bid by the government to hold the first-ever trial of abusive force-feeding at the prison almost entirely in secret. Per Judge Gladys Kessler’s decision on Thursday, the public has the right to hear in court on Monday about the suffering our client endures every day.

Then on Friday afternoon, in perhaps the most significant Guantánamo decision in years, Kessler ordered the release of videotapes showing the cell extractions and force-feedings of Dhiab. For the first time, public knowledge of Guantánamo will not be restricted to U.S. government press releases. Everyone will be able to view and judge for themselves the daily treatment of innocent men such as Dhiab.

It was a long road to get here. More than a year has passed since Dhiab first went to court to try to stop horribly abusive force-feeding techniques used to punish him for his peaceful hunger strike. Arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and eventually transferred to Guantánamo, Dhiab has never been charged with a crime and has been cleared for release since 2009. During his 12 years of imprisonment, one of Dhiab’s sons died, and his family fled the violence of their homeland, Syria. Abu Wa’el means “father of Wa’el,” his preferred name after his son’s passing. Dhiab does not want to die and does not oppose being fed if his health demands. But he will not stop protesting his unjust detention by hunger strike and should not suffer in silence the inhumane methods of his force-feeding.



Australia’s Clean Energy Investment Plummets Below Algeria, Myanmar, Thailand, And Uruguay

Australia’s investment in clean energy projects has slumped 70 percent since 2013, according to a new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). This means the country has slipped from the world’s 11th largest investor in clean energy to the 31st — below Algeria, Myanmar, Thailand, and Uruguay. This is the latest result of Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s broad attack on the country’s previously ambitious clean energy and climate goals. Abbott came into power in September 2013 and in July, Australia became the first country to repeal its carbon price, despite the fact that it was successfully working to cut carbon emissions.

Kobad Bhavnagri, an analyst at BNEF, told the Guardian Australia that the country’s renewable energy sector is “in the doldrums” and that “the government’s position has caused this.”

Australia’s government “has had some pretty strong anti-renewables rhetoric, particularly anti-wind, and wants to close certain clean energy programs,” Bhavnagri said. “The review has been particularly protracted. The industry was fearful the recommendations would be extreme and they were. It has been shattering.”

Bhavnagri is referring to the government’s review of the country’s Renewable Energy Target, which mandates that 41,000 gigawatt hours of Australia’s energy comes from renewable sources by 2020. The government has said it will review, and possibly scrap, the target in the coming months.


Cleaning Up The Chesapeake Bay Would Bring $130 Billion In Annual Economic Benefits

Fully implementing an EPA policy that aims to clean up the Chesapeake Bay would result in billions of dollars in economic benefits, according to a new report.

The peer-reviewed report, published Monday by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, analyzed the economic benefits of implementing the EPA’s Clean Water Blueprint for the Chesapeake Bay, a plan that sets a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for how much nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment can enter the bay each year, with the potential of cutting this pollution by 20-25 percent.

The group started with the 2009 environmental conditions of seven kinds of land in the bay region: agricultural land, forest, wetland, open water, urban open space, “other” urban spaces (such as paved areas) and “other,” a category that included mostly barren land. Then, the researchers calculated what the productivity of these land types would be if the Clean Water Blueprint were fully implemented, using economic studies to figure out what the monetary benefit of the land would be under the plan.

The report found that the economic benefits of the restored Chesapeake Bay would total nearly $130 billion each year — an annual increase of more than $22 billion from the $107 billion the bay’s ecosystem services are valued at currently. If the Blueprint were to be scrapped entirely, the annual benefits of the land would decrease by $5.6 billion.



Anti-Obamacare Congressman Urges Obama To Use Obamacare To Fight Ebola

A Republican congressman, who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than 30 times, called on the federal government on Monday to use a fund embedded in the law to help prevent a national outbreak of Ebola.

“It’s section 4002 in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it’s called the Prevention and Public Health Fund, and this is a self-replenishing fund, at the first of the fiscal year every year,” Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) explained during an appearance on 660AM’s Mark Davis Show.

“Two billion dollars washes into the Secretary’s offices of Health and Human Services for her to use, do whatever she wishes,” he added, before asking, “But how about we take these $2 billion and we fight this darn disease?”

Republicans have previously described the Prevention Fund — which invests in community and clinical prevention, research, public health infrastructure, immunizations and screenings, tobacco prevention and public health workforce and training — as a “slush fund” and have repeatedly voted to cut its funding.


South Dakota GOPer Jokes That Obama, Taxi Drivers Were Sent Here By ISIL

South Dakota state Rep. Betty Olson's newspaper column last month opened innocently enough.

Writing for the Rapid City Journal, Olson (R) noted that the area had received "a lot of rain," which made for a "soupy mess" at a local rodeo event.


But Olson, who spearheaded the legislative effort to arm South Dakota teachers, saved the best material for last.

After expressing grief over the beheading of American journalist Steve Sotloff, Olson closed on a "lighter note," sharing a faux warning from the Islamic State that's made the rounds on conservative message boards.

This morning ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood warned the United States that if the United States continued meddling in Iraq, Libya, and other potential hot spots in the Middle East, they intend to cut off America's supply of 7-11 and Motel 6 managers.
If this action does not yield sufficient results, cab drivers will be next, followed by Dell, AT&T and AOL customer service reps.

Finally, if all else fails, they have threatened not to send us any more presidents either.

the rest

Student Course Evaluations Get An 'F'


At Denny's, diners are asked to fill out comment cards. How was your meal? Were you satisfied with the quality of service? Were the restrooms clean?

In universities around the world, semesters end with students filling out similar surveys about their experience in the class and the quality of the teacher.

Student ratings are high-stakes. They come up when faculty are being considered for tenure or promotions. In fact, they're often the only method a university uses to monitor the quality of teaching.

Recently, a number of faculty members have been publishing research showing that the comment-card approach may not be the best way to measure the central function of higher education.

Philip Stark is the chairman of the statistics department at the University of California, Berkeley. "I've been teaching at Berkeley since 1988, and the reliance on teaching evaluations has always bothered me," he says.


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