Saturday, October 1, 2011

President Obama at the 2011 Congressional Black Caucus: "Press On"

Via ClimateProgress:

Posted: 01 Oct 2011 05:08 AM PDT

Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) signed a bill to allow mountain lions to be stuffed and displayed.
His signing letter tweaks state lawmakers for overwhelmingly supporting that “presumably important bill,” and then asked them to bring the same “energetic bipartisan spirit” to “creating clean energy jobs.”   Here’s a copy of Brown’s awesome statement:

TP amusingly notes, the bill may have had such strong bipartisan support “perhaps in a celebration of this recent viral video hit“:

Related Post:

Morning Walk / Caminhada de hoje - magic circle in Pilar // novos plantas no jardim

there is a fun little acoustic anomaly to this circle

new plants in the garden

two for the garden Buddha

Friday, September 30, 2011

Via The Los Angeles Times: What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us

From The Los Angeles Times, Friday, September 30, 2011. See,0,7613779.story
What the 'American Teacher' has to teach us
The U.S. education system is shedding teachers at an alarming rate. This documentary, directed by Vanessa Roth and narrated by Matt Damon, delves into the problem.

By Kenneth Turan    [Los Angeles Times Film Critic]

It's titled "American Teacher," but this unsettling look at what's wrong with our culture's attitudes toward that beleaguered profession could just as well have been called "The Vanishing Americans."

That's because our education system is shedding teachers at an alarming rate. As narrated by Matt Damon, this documentary tells us that 20% of teachers in urban area schools leave every year, with 46% of teachers nationwide quitting before their fifth year. With more than half of our teachers eligible for retirement within the next 10 years, we are looking at serious trouble.

It's trouble not only because educating young people is crucial to our economy and our democracy but also because studies of the subject invariably come to the conclusion that the Gates Foundation, headed by Bill Gates, did: "Having great teachers is the very key thing."

Given that individuals continue to be drawn to education in the abstract, why aren't young people lining up to actually teach? As directed by doc veteran Vanessa Roth, "American Teacher" answers this two ways, by talking to experts and by looking closely at the lives of four teachers.
Reason 1 for the lack of teachers is that, almost against reason, commentators on networks such as Fox News and in films such as "Waiting for Superman" have consistently demonized the profession.

As Dave Eggers and Ninive Calegari, two of the film's producers, wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece that likened teachers to soldiers, "When we don't get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don't blame the soldiers. We don't say, 'It's these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefit plans! That's why we haven't done better in Afghanistan!' No, if the results aren't there we blame the planners.... No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition."

That lack of basic respect is joined by a litany of other difficulties: lack of support from the education system, especially in terms of training; long hours that never quit and low salary. Teachers, we are told, make 14% less than other similarly educated professionals.

As a result, if you count coaching and advising in the mix, 62% of teachers have to take second jobs to make ends meet. And it's not just the money that matters: As one expert says, "Money has a catalytic effect." In other words, if salaries went up, perceptions about the profession would change as well.

In addition to laying out these general principles, "American Teacher" shows how they apply to the personal and professional lives of:

Erik Benner. A seventh-grade history teacher in Keller, Texas, Benner grew up in a trailer and teaches in part to show his students that education offers hope for all. Having to take time-intensive second and third jobs has a major effect on his family life.

Jonathan Dearman. A rare African American teacher in his San Francisco high school, Dearman is proud of being a role model for his students but faces pressures to leave the profession for the family real estate business.

Jamie Fidler. A second-generation educator who teaches first grade in Brooklyn, N.Y., Fidler is a dedicated professional who has difficulty balancing being a new mother with the demands of her job.

Rhena Jasey. A New Jersey teacher with a bachelor's degree from Harvard and two advanced degrees from Columbia, Jasey says her friends were frankly aghast that she chose such a low-paying, low-status job as her career.

Not surprisingly, the three countries whose students do best on standardized tests - Finland, Singapore and South Korea - approach the care and recruitment of teachers totally differently than we do.

As we watch the individuals in "American Teacher" struggle with the burdens the system places on them, it's hard not to feel like crying, both for them specifically and for our national culture. As one education authority laments after revealing his son's salary-based job choice, "Something's wrong when selling cellphones is more important to society than being a teacher."
PHOTO SIDEBAR:  Jonathan Dearman, a high school teacher in San Francisco, faces pressure to leave the profession and join his family's real estate business. ( / September 30, 2011)


California pulls out of nationwide wrongful foreclosure settlement

Citing a troubling surge of recent foreclosures in California, state Attorney General Kamala Harris today pulled out of a pending nationwide settlement with major U.S. banks over foreclosures abuses.

Via JMG: NASA's Photo Of The Day

A sunspot so massive it can be seen without a telescope is expected to remain active for another week. (For scale, an image of the Earth was inserted above.) Scientists recently concluded that sunspot activity has an effect on the Earth's weather, but to what degree remains unknown.

reposted from Joe

My number is 2,747,215,121. What's yours?

What's Your Number?

Dear Daniel Orey :
On October 31st, the world's 7 billionth person will be born. Each of us is part of that population. With the world growing by more than 200,000 people a day it's hard to know where you fit in. Until now.
A new social application by Population Action International lets you enter your birth date to:
  • Find and share your number on Facebook and Twitter
  • Put yourself on the map
  • Watch videos and download resources to learn more about world population issues, including a new documentary on women and climate change.
I was born on May 21, 1971 and my number is 3,810,167,897. Someone born on November 7, 1988 would be 5,187,509,342. What's your number?
here's your number

Population Action International
1300 19th Street, NW Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036-1624
Phone: +1 (202) 557-3400 Fax: +1 (202) 728-4177


Carlsberg stunts with bikers in cinema

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Via Political Loudmouth:

Via Climate Progress:

The A.P. Slams U.S. Deniers in 2,000-Word Essay: “The American ‘Allergy’ to Global Warming: Why?”

An Associated Press journalist draws on decades of climate reporting to offer a retrospective and analysis on global warming and the undying urge to deny.
The headline on the 1975 report was bold: “Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” And this article that coined the term may have marked the last time a mention of “global warming” didn’t set off an instant outcry of angry denial.In the paper, Columbia University geoscientist Wally Broecker calculated how much carbon dioxide would accumulate in the atmosphere in the coming 35 years, and how temperatures consequently would rise. His numbers have proven almost dead-on correct. Meanwhile, other powerful evidence poured in over those decades, showing the “greenhouse effect” is real and is happening. And yet resistance to the idea among many in the U.S. appears to have hardened.
What’s going on?
The desire to disbelieve deepens as the scale of the threat grows,” concludes economist-ethicist Clive Hamilton.
He and others who track what they call “denialism” find that its nature is changing in America, last redoubt of climate naysayers. It has taken on a more partisan, ideological tone. Polls find a widening Republican-Democrat gap on climate. Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry even accuses climate scientists of lying for money. Global warming looms as a debatable question in yet another U.S. election campaign.
The A.P. has published journalist Charles Hanley’s nearly 2000-word essay on U.S. climate denial, “The American ‘allergy’ to global warming: Why?
The piece is an excellent edition to a growing group that includes, WashPost stunner: “The GOP’s climate-change denial may be its most harmful delusion” and National Journal: “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones.”
Here is more:

The basic physics of anthropogenic — manmade — global warming has been clear for more than a century, since researchers proved that carbon dioxide traps heat. Others later showed CO2 was building up in the atmosphere from the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels. Weather stations then filled in the rest: Temperatures were rising.“As a physicist, putting CO2 into the air is good enough for me. It’s the physics that convinces me,” said veteran Cambridge University researcher Liz Morris. But she said work must go on to refine climate data and computer climate models, “to convince the deeply reluctant organizers of this world.”
The reluctance to rein in carbon emissions revealed itself early on.
In the 1980s, as scientists studied Greenland’s buried ice for clues to past climate, upgraded their computer models peering into the future, and improved global temperature analyses, the fossil-fuel industries were mobilizing for a campaign to question the science.
By 1988, NASA climatologist James Hansen could appear before a U.S. Senate committee and warn that global warming had begun, a dramatic announcement later confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a new, U.N.-sponsored network of hundreds of international scientists.
But when Hansen was called back to testify in 1989, the White House of President George H.W. Bush edited this government scientist’s remarks to water down his conclusions, and Hansen declined to appear.
That was the year U.S. oil and coal interests formed the Global Climate Coalition to combat efforts to shift economies away from their products. Britain’s Royal Society and other researchers later determined that oil giant Exxon disbursed millions of dollars annually to think tanks and a handful of supposed experts to sow doubt about the facts.
In 1997, two years after the IPCC declared the “balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate,” the world’s nations gathered in Kyoto, Japan, to try to do something about it. The naysayers were there as well.
“The statement that we’ll have continued warming with an increase in CO2 is opinion, not fact,” oil executive William F. O’Keefe of the Global Climate Coalition insisted to reporters in Kyoto.
The late Bert Bolin, then IPCC chief, despaired.
“I’m not really surprised at the political reaction,” the Swedish climatologist told The Associated Press. “I am surprised at the way some of the scientific findings have been rejected in an unscientific manner.”
In fact, a document emerged years later showing that the industry coalition’s own scientific team had quietly advised it that the basic science of global warming was indisputable.
See “Scientists advising fossil fuel funded anti-climate group concluded in 1995: The scientific basis for the Greenhouse Effect and the potential impact of human emissions of GHGs such as CO2 on climate is well established and cannot be denied
Kyoto’s final agreement called for limited rollbacks in greenhouse emissions. The United States didn’t even join in that. And by 2000, the CO2 built up in the atmosphere to 369 parts per million — just 4 ppm less than Broecker predicted — compared with 280 ppm before the industrial revolution.
Global temperatures rose as well, by 0.6 degrees C (1.1 degrees F) in the 20th century. And the mercury just kept rising. The decade 2000-2009 was the warmest on record, and 2010 and 2005 were the warmest years on record.
Costal threat prediction
Satellite and other monitoring, meanwhile, found nights were warming faster than days, and winters more than summers, and the upper atmosphere was cooling while the lower atmosphere warmed — all clear signals greenhouse warming was at work, not some other factor.
The impact has been widespread.
An authoritative study this August reported that hundreds of species are retreating toward the poles, egrets showing up in southern England, American robins in Eskimo villages. Some, such as polar bears, have nowhere to go. Eventual large-scale extinctions are feared.
The heat is cutting into wheat yields, nurturing beetles that are destroying northern forests, attracting malarial mosquitoes to higher altitudes.
From the Rockies to the Himalayas, glaciers are shrinking, sending ever more water into the world’s seas. Because of accelerated melt in Greenland and elsewhere, the eight-nation Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program projects ocean levels will rise 90 to 160 centimeters (35 to 63 inches) by 2100, threatening coastlines everywhere.
“We are scared, really and truly,” diplomat Laurence Edwards, from the Pacific’s Marshall Islands, told the AP before the 1997 Kyoto meeting.
Today in these low-lying islands, rising seas have washed away shoreline graveyards, saltwater has invaded wells, and islanders seek aid to build a seawall to shield their capital.
The oceans are turning more acidic, too, from absorbing excess carbon dioxide. Acidifying seas will harm plankton, shellfish and other marine life up the food chain. Biologists fear the world’s coral reefs, home to much ocean life and already damaged from warmer waters, will largely disappear in this century.
Arctic ice cap
The greatest fears may focus on “feedbacks” in the Arctic, warming twice as fast as the rest of the world.
The Arctic Ocean’s summer ice cap has shrunk by half and is expected to essentially vanish by 2030 or 2040, the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center reported Sept. 15. Ashore, meanwhile, the Arctic tundra’s permafrost is thawing and releasing methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
These changes will feed on themselves: Released methane leads to warmer skies, which will release more methane. Ice-free Arctic waters absorb more of the sun’s heat than do reflective ice and snow, and so melt will beget melt. The frozen Arctic is a controller of Northern Hemisphere climate; an unfrozen one could upend age-old weather patterns across continents.
Science questioned
In the face of years of scientific findings and growing impacts, the doubters persist. They ignore long-term trends and seize on insignificant year-to-year blips in data to claim all is well. They focus on minor mistakes in thousands of pages of peer-reviewed studies to claim all is wrong. And they carom from one explanation to another for today’s warming Earth: jet contrails, sunspots, cosmic rays, natural cycles.
“Ninety-eight percent of the world’s climate scientists say it’s for real, and yet you still have deniers,” observed former U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a New York Republican who chaired the House’s science committee.
Christiana Figueres, Costa Rican head of the U.N.’s post-Kyoto climate negotiations, finds it “very, very perplexing, this apparent allergy that there is in the United States. Why?”
The Australian scholar Hamilton sought to explain why in his 2010 book, “Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change.”
See “Clive Hamilton Video: Manufacturing a scientific scandal.”
In an interview, he said he found a “transformation” from the 1990s and its industry-financed campaign, to an America where climate denial “has now become a marker of cultural identity in the ‘angry’ parts of the United States.”
“Climate denial has been incorporated in the broader movement of right-wing populism,” he said, a movement that has “a visceral loathing of environmentalism.”
An in-depth study of a decade of Gallup polling finds statistical backing for that analysis.
On the question of whether they believed the effects of global warming were already happening, the percentage of self-identified Republicans or conservatives answering “yes” plummeted from almost 50 percent in 2007-2008 to 30 percent or less in 2010, while liberals and Democrats remained at 70 percent or more, according to the study in this spring’s Sociological Quarterly.
A Pew Research Center poll last October found a similar left-right gap.
The drop-off coincided with the election of Democrat Barack Obama as president and the Democratic effort in Congress, ultimately futile, to impose government caps on industrial greenhouse emissions.
Boehlert, the veteran GOP congressman, noted that “high-profile people with an ‘R’ after their name, like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, are saying it’s all fiction. Pooh-poohing the science of climate change feeds into their basic narrative that all government is bad.”
A political split
The quarterly study’s authors, Aaron M. McCright of Michigan State University and Riley E. Dunlap of Oklahoma State, suggested climate had joined abortion and other explosive, intractable issues as a mainstay of a hardening left-right gap.
“The culture wars have thus taken on a new dimension,” they wrote.
Al Gore, for one, remains upbeat. The former vice president and Nobel Prize-winning climate campaigner says “ferocity” in defense of false beliefs often increases “as the evidence proving them false builds.”
In an AP interview, he pointed to tipping points in recent history — the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the dismantling of U.S. racial segregation — when the potential for change built slowly in the background, until a critical mass was reached.
“This is building toward a point where the falsehoods of climate denial will be unacceptable as a basis for policy much longer,” Gore said. “As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘How long? Not long.’ ”
Even Wally Broecker’s jest — that deniers could blame God — may not be an option for long.
Last May the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, arm of an institution that once persecuted Galileo for his scientific findings, pronounced on manmade global warming: It’s happening.
Said the pope’s scientific advisers, “We must protect the habitat that sustains us.”
See “Vatican on climate: Pray for science“:  The cost of action “pales in comparison to the price the world will pay if we fail to act now.”

Via Climate Progress: Stephen Colbert: “I Know Global Warming is Real Folks”

Colbert:  The United States emits more CO2 per capita than the European Union and China combined.  Just think what those emissions numbers would be if America still made anything.  Right now it’s all coming from hobo fires and Vin Diesel movies.

Sadly (and comically), Stephen Colbert’s sarcastic conservative pundit persona is often grounded firmly in reality.

His rants on climate change are particularly spot on. While going on another diatribe this week about our changing climate (this time by admitting it’s happening), Colbert pinpointed the reason why many Americans are still skeptical of the science in spite of the mounting evidence:  “America has not hit bottom yet.”

Here’s the video:

Speaking of not knowing what to do — global warming. I know global warming is real folks…. And the evidence for global warming is mounting….

In the face of all this mounting evidence, America has stood with one voice and boldly proclaimed: ‘Eh.’
Indeed, the gap between our understanding of the problem and our willingness to act is widening. Sometimes it takes a good comedian to point out how bad the situation is.

Via Every now and then, someone comes along and says something that makes everything clear. Elizabeth Warren just did that, and the world is taking notice.

Via AmericaBlogGay: L-Word star: "One modest kiss" got us kicked off SW Airlines

You'll recall that we wrote yesterday about L-Word star Leisha Hailey being kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for kissing her girlfriend. Apparently, it gave the other passengers the cooties. Well, today Leisha has released a statement explaining that it was "one modest kiss" that got her thrown off the flight. Southwest is in trouble. 

We have always promoted tolerance, openness and equality both as a band and as individuals. We both come from loving homes where our parents not only love and accept us, but are also proud of who we are. We believe everyone has the right to live openly in this society as equals. In no way were our actions on Southwest Airlines excessive, inappropriate or vulgar. We want to make it clear we were not making out or creating any kind of spectacle of ourselves, it was one, modest kiss. We are responsible adult women who walk through the world with dignity. We were simply being affectionate like any normal couple. We were on the airplane less than 5 minutes when all was said and done. We take full responsibility for getting verbally upset with the flight attendant after being told it was a “family airline.” We were never told the reason the flight attendant approached us, we were only scolded that we “needed to be aware that Southwest Airlines was a family oriented airline.”

No matter how quietly homophobia is whispered, it doesn’t make it any less loud. You can’t whisper hate. We ask this airline to teach their employees to not discriminate against any couple, ever, regardless of their own beliefs. We want to live in a society where if your loved one leans over to give you an innocent kiss on an airplane it's not labeled as "excessive or not family oriented" by a corporation and it’s employees. We find it very disturbing that the same airline who lauds itself as being LGBT friendly has twisted an upsetting incident that happened into our behavior being "too excessive." The above is not an apology and we are in the process of filing a formal complaint with the airline. We hope that when all is said and done a greater tolerance without prejudice will evolve.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"My Conservative Girlfriend" - by Roy Zimmerman featuring Sandy Riccardi

Via JMG: Quote Of The Day - Barack Obama

"I mean has anybody been watching the debates lately? You've got a governor whose state is on fire denying climate change. It's true. You've got audiences cheering at the prospect of somebody dying because they don't have healthcare. And booing a service member in Iraq because they're gay. That's not reflective of who we are." - Barack Obama, speaking at a Democratic fundraiser yesterday.

reposted from Joe

EXCLUSIVE: The GOP Vagina Rules (A DC Douglas Tweak)

Via Utne: The Soldier Activist

Iraq War veteran and author Paul Chappell talks about his journey from West Point to the frontlines of the peace movement.

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