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Member since: Sun Jul 31, 2011, 05:36 PM
Number of posts: 5,005

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More Evidence of Climate Change

Surface temperature over the land and ocean temperature is rising across the globe. These plots show land, ocean, and merged land and ocean surface temperature (radio buttons) for both the Nothern Hemisphere and the globe (tabs).

This temperature reconstruction dates back to 1880, and is typically current through the last month. The solid red line is the yearly temperature average, and the shaded pink area illustrates the potential uncertainty associated with the data.
Data source: NOAA MLOST.


Poll Question: Do historical graphs contribute to understanding climate change ? Any suggestions on how to present better or more informative facts?

Scientists call for rethink on consumption, population

(Reuters) - Scientists have called for a radical rethink of our relationship with the planet to head off what they warn could be economic and environmental catastrophe.

In a report published on Thursday by the London-based Royal Society, an international group of 23 scientists chaired by Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston called for a rebalancing of consumption in favor of poor countries coupled with increased efforts to control population growth to lift the estimated 1.3 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day out of poverty.

"Over the next 30-40 years the confluence of the challenges described in this report provides the opportunity to move towards a sustainable economy and a better world for the majority of humanity, or alternatively the risk of social, economic and environmental failures and catastrophes on a scale never imagined," the scientists said.

The 133-page report, which Sulston describes as a summary of work done over the last two years, comes against a backdrop of austerity-hit governments reducing subsidies for renewable energy, global car companies falling over themselves to meet demand for new cars in rapidly growing economies like China and Brazil, and increasing pressure to exploit vast reserves of gas locked in rocks around the globe through the controversial process known as ‘fracking'.


Poll Question: Do you think our current political environment can react to climate change?
If No, do you have any suggestions to effect change

Is Romney the Wrong Kind of Rich?

Do Americans – or at least a significant portion of them — resent success? To hear some tell it, the biggest division in the country today is between those striving for success – and those who want to tear down the successful. According to presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Obama and the Democrats fall into the latter category.

When President Obama remarked in a recent speech that “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth,” Romney took the opportunity to accuse the president of scapegoating the successful. “I’m not going to apologize for my dad’s success, but I know the president likes to attack fellow Americans,” Romney told Fox News. “He’s always looking for a scapegoat, particularly those that have been successful like my dad, and I’m not going to rise to that.”

The real issue, of course, isn’t success – Obama, after all, has been successful enough in his life to get elected to the Presidency, and he’s not apologizing for that. It’s whether those from a wealthy background, like Romney, have an unfair advantage.


The choice is Community Organizer or Community Disorganizer....?

NASA | Warm Ocean Currents Cause Majority of Ice Loss from Antarctica

You can see that happening in this NASA video which shows warm ocean currents attacking the underside of ice shelves. Ice shelves colored red are thicker (greater than 1,800 feet / 550 meters). Those colored blue are thinner (less than 650 feet / 200 meters).

The ice2sea project team behind the new paper will be releasing its projections on sea level rise into the 21st and 22nd centuries later this year.


Are We Lonelier on Facebook, Online?

A year can’t go by now without some pundit, writer, or researcher weighing in on how the more technology infiltrates our lives, the lonelier we’ve become.

Stephen Marche, a novelist writing in the May 2012 Atlantic, weaves together a bunch of anecdotes to suggest that Facebook is making us lonelier.

Renowned MIT researcher Sherry Turkle, who bases her conclusions on an endless stream of in-vitro interviews with teens and young adults, suggested over the weekend in the New York Times that technology is certainly making us more connected… but those connections are more shallow and less rich that traditional face-to-face connections.

These are interesting observations, but are they offering us a false dichotomy? Or suggesting a causal relationship where none has yet been established?

Marche kicks off the false dichotomy argument by asking questions like:

The question of the future is this: Is Facebook part of the separating or part of the congregating; is it a huddling-together for warmth or a shuffling-away in pain?

Research has some answers to these questions, which Marche explores to some degree in his 5,344 word essay. What the data actually demonstrate is a fairly complicated relationship — one mediated by personality, psychological resilience, social factors, and frequency of use of the technology. It’s not going to be this nice, clean, black-and-white false dichotomy that so many writers yearn for.

In other words, it’s a dumb question to ask because the answer isn’t one that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Facebook has no more power to “make” us lonely than reading a book or watching television does.


Fireball Over California/Nevada: How Big Was It?

A bright ball of light traveling east to west was seen over the skies of central/northern California Sunday morning, April 22. The former space rock-turned-flaming-meteor entered Earth's atmosphere around 8 a.m. PDT. Reports of the fireball have come in from as far north as Sacramento, Calif. and as far east as North Las Vegas, Nev.

Bill Cooke of the Meteoroid Environments Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., estimates the object was about the size of a minivan, weighed in at around 154,300 pounds (70 metric tons) and at the time of disintegration released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion.

"Most meteors you see in the night's sky are the size of tiny stones or even grains of sand and their trail lasts all of a second or two," said Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Fireballs you can see relatively easily in the daytime and are many times that size - anywhere from a baseball-sized object to something as big as a minivan."

Elizabeth Silber of the Meteor Group at the Western University of Canada, Ontario, estimates the location of its explosion in the upper atmosphere above California's Central Valley.

Eyewitnesses of this fireball join a relatively exclusive club. "An event of this size might happen about once a year," said Yeomans. "But most of them occur over the ocean or an uninhabited area, so getting to see one is something special."

NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them, and establishes their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet. JPL manages the Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

More information about asteroids and near-Earth objects is at:
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroidwatch .


Southern California Tribes Unite to Show Support for Reinstating the Violence Against Women Act

Roughly 200 Indians from various Southern California Indian tribes held a walk to increase awareness of sexual assault against Native women and to show support for the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that Congress has allowed to expire for the first time in more than 15 years, according to a press release from the Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition and the La Jolla Band of Indians Avellaka Program.

The act is expected to hit the senate floor this week. In the past, the legislation has had strong bi-partisan support. Enacted in 1994, the act was subsequently reauthorized in 2000 and 2005 by unanimous consent of Congress.

“We are walking today to raise our voices to members of Congress to support this life-saving legislation,” said Juana Majel, the first vice president of the National Congress of American Indians, while speaking to those gathered at the walk. “We send our heartfelt appreciation to our California Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for their defense of the Violence Against Women Act and provisions to protect Native women.”

Tribal leaders at the event expressed outrage that some senators do not support the bill to reauthorize the act. The legislation is crucial to tribal members, because it contains provisions intended to address the epidemic levels of violence committed against American Indian women.

One provision of the bill recognizes the authority of Indian tribes to investigate and prosecute misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, and orders of protection that occur in Indian country. It would not alter the current criminal jurisdiction of the federal or a state government.

“Right now tribes have no authority over an abuser that is a non-Indian even when he lives on tribal land, works for the tribe, and beats or rapes his wife or girlfriend on tribal lands,” said Wendy Schlater, program director for the La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians Avellaka Program. “These perpetrators commit these crimes on tribal land knowing nothing will happen.”

According to S.1925, the tribe must prove that any defendant being prosecuted under Section 904 either: resides in the Indian country of the prosecuting tribe, is employed in the Indian country of the prosecuting tribe, or is either the spouse or intimate partner of a member of the prosecuting tribe. “Abusers who live, work, or date tribal women on tribal land should not be allowed to abuse them just because they are of another race. The law leaves Native women wondering not “if” they will be raped, but “when they will be raped,” said LaVonne Peck, the tribal chair of the La Jolla Band.

“It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Justice that 1 of 3 Native women will be raped in their life time and that 5 of 6 will be the victims of domestic violence. This is more than double that of any other population of women. It is unacceptable and must stop,” said Laurie Gonzalez, councilwoman of the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians.


Wells Fargo Turns Away Its Own Shareholders From Its Shareholder Meeting

"I would not want to work for Wells Fargo," one woman on lunch break in downtown San Francisco loudly told her friend.

No kidding. At around noon today, some 2,000 activists launched a blitzkrieg against the bank's annual shareholder meeting at the Merchants Exchange Building, where they blocked entrances, inflated a two-story cigar-smoking rat in the street, and deployed hundreds of shareholder activists to pack the joint.

Citing space constraints, the bank turned away many of the shareholders, a move protesters quickly decried as an illegal attempt to dodge tough questions. A press release from the activist group Cal Organize claimed Wells Fargo packed the meeting with its own employees, and continued to let shareholders who were not part of the protest in through a side door.

A Wells Fargo spokesman did not immediately return my call.

In the building lobby, I ran into Wells Fargo shareholder Andrew Constans, who was wearing a suit and tie and holding a paper copy of his single share of stock. The 19-year-old University of Minnesota student flew halfway across the country to tell Wells Fargo that it should pay more taxes. (Between 2008 and 2010, Wells Fargo paid none, but got $681 million in tax credits.) "I pay taxes, so why can't they?" Constans asked. "I'm not a multinational corporation; I don't have 60 tax shelters."

The Wells Fargo protest is part of an effort on the part of 99% Power, a coalition of dozens of labor and community groups that plans to target some 40 corporate shareholder meetings over the next six weeks. "It's a broader group than normally does shareholders meetings," says Stephen Lerner, an executive board member with the Service Employees International Union. "It's a campaign that's saying, let's gather all the folks who are impacted negatively by these giant corporations and lets figure out ways to illustrate that and challenge them directly at the meetings."


Indian Country’s American Nightmare

If anyone believes the federal government knows what is best for local communities, they should visit an American Indian Reservation. Native Americans are currently immersed in a health care and economic deprivation nightmare that is the consequence of government interference, inefficiency, and inhumane policies. The Native American narrative is one of government creating problems and then, in the name of offering solutions, making matters worse by depriving local communities of their autonomy.

According to research led by Jeffrey E. Holm, professor of psychology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, national data show that American Indians (AIs) have a lower life expectancy than other Americans. In fact, Holm reports, AIs die at higher rates than white Americans and most other ethnic minorities from cardiovascular disease, tuberculosis, alcoholism-related diseases, motor vehicle crashes, diabetes, unintentional injuries, homicide, and suicide. National data show that AIs have a higher prevalence of many risk behaviors including cigarette smoking, obesity, absence of leisure-time physical activity, and binge alcohol use.

Many of the obesity and diabetes related pathologies have one root correlation: poor diet resulting from government programs. In the mid-19th century, under the Indian Removal Act, Native American tribes turned their lands over to the U.S. Government and relocated to Indian Reservations. This relocation disconnected AIs from their usual diet of lean meats, fruits, and vegetables as well as from an active lifestyle of hunting and gathering. By 1890, the government had banned Native Americans from leaving allocated lands to acquire food. In exchange, government offered rations of commodities such as flour, lard and sugar, which today, thanks to corn subsidies, has expanded to highly processed foods rich in carbohydrates and high-fructose corn syrup. These are not the basics of a healthy diet.

Thanks to government regulations, AIs also suffer from the type of economic deprivation that leaves Reservations with virtually no small businesses, including, for example, grocery stores. Communities lacking flourishing businesses are communities that become trapped in cycles of poverty and dysfunction. In fact, the economic malaise in and around reservations stems from a lack of property rights. Terry Anderson, executive director of the Political Economy Research Center, says that AI property rights were also affected by those 19th century treaties which put millions of acres of tribal and individual Indian land under the trusteeship of the Interior department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. As a result these lands cannot be developed, used as collateral for taking out loans to start businesses, easily inherited, or managed productively. Anderson argues that what AIs need is freedom to develop their own property, borrow against it, and make it productive or order to start businesses that lead to wealth creation. The result of a continuation of current policy, says Anderson, is that “Indian economies are likely to remain enclaves of poverty.”


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