Tuesday, January 31, 2012


A great piece on Alabama's noxious, hateful anti-immigrant law — intended to make life as miserable and unwelcoming as possible for undocumented immigrants that they'll choose to leave the state rather than deal with the never-ending barriers to living life — from This American Life:
(To warn you: the piece will leave you absolutely furious and seething with anger towards the ignorant assholes in Alabama who are making life hell for all Latinos there.  And let me just note how ridiculous it is that the man who authored the law, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, like most proponents of the Alabama — and the similar Arizona — law, thinks of himself as a Christian. That's a whole lot of loving thy neighbor that he's spreading across the country. Ah yes, what could be more Christian than fanning the flames of hatred and intolerance, encouraging bigotry, and trying to make peoples' lives absolutely miserable? It's not an unintended consequence, either: the very point of these laws is destroy lives — both through state actions and through tacitly encouraging private citizens to treat all dark-skinned folk as suspect and thus deserving of no dignity or respect.)

Peter Gleick righteously rails against a thoroughly unsustainable water-mining project that exemplifies the sort of supply augmentation scheme we must move beyond:
We need new thinking about water in California and new innovative solutions. We must modify how we use water, and we must find new sources of supply. But the Cadiz Project is old thinking, based on the pillage-and-run philosophy of the past centuries, where water was seen as a resource to be mined and consumed, not managed in a sustainable way. This project is an insult to the notion of sustainability, to the efforts to protect the Eastern Mojave's beauty and unique nature, and to the idea that resource development should respect more than just narrow economic gain. The good news is there are excellent alternatives, including recycling and reuse of water, improved efficiency of use by our cities and farms, smarter and renewable groundwater use and recharge projects, and even desalination of brackish waters or the ocean if the economics and environmental challenges can be properly overcome. Cadiz might have made some sense a century ago when we didn't know better, but today it is neither appropriate for California nor necessary, and it should be cancelled.
We definitely need to start thinking about water supply differently, given that the supply is dwindling in many cities, thanks to climate change. Curbing sprawl would be one large part of the solution. While repopulating the Rust Belt and other more water-rich cities could be another.

As Gleick himself notes in an interview with the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment's new magazine, making a point he's made before:
With respect to water; if there is any reason for optimism, it is in the fact that it is not a technological problem. We do have solutions. There are success stories out there. We are making progress. But we have to get away from the idea that there is a single solution, and we have to get away from the idea that what worked in the 20th century is going to work everywhere in the 21st century.

The fact that we failed to solve these problems is sad and inexcusable, but it doesn’t mean the problems can’t be solved. We just have to be smarter and be more committed to solving them.

Who's giving away their money? Turns out America's poorest give the most:
The generosity of poor people isn't so much rare as rarely noticed, however. In fact, America's poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What's more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.

"The lowest-income fifth (of the population) always give at more than their capacity," said Virginia Hodgkinson, former vice president for research at Independent Sector, a Washington-based association of major nonprofit agencies. "The next two-fifths give at capacity, and those above that are capable of giving two or three times more than they give."

Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of America's households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.

The figures probably undercount remittances by legal and illegal immigrants to family and friends back home, a multibillion-dollar outlay to which the poor contribute disproportionally.

None of the middle fifths of America's households, in contrast, gave away as much as 3 percent of their incomes.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/05/19/68456/americas-poor-are-its-most-generous.html#storylink=cpy
This chart shows the reality of who gives quite well:
Poor give most to charity

The reality-denying fools published in the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page are lying liars who love to distort, obfuscate, and lie. Says Bill Nordhaus regarding the climate change denial op-ed pulished in the WSJ last Friday:
The piece completely misrepresented my work. My work has long taken the view that policies to slow global warming would have net economic benefits, in the trillion of dollars of present value. This is true going back to work in the early 1990s (MIT Press, Yale Press, Science, PNAS, among others). I have advocated a carbon tax for many years as the best way to attack the issue. I can only assume they either completely ignorant of the economics on the issue or are willfully misstating my findings.
MediaMatters, with help from Gleick and others, thoroughly dismantles the op-ed here.

Awful news from the world of those charged with protecting us: NYC police are using anti-Muslim films to train cops (and now that it's public, the police commissioner suddenly regrets it), while cops in East Haven, CT, seem to be inspired by Phoenix's Sheriff Joe and intimidate and harass Latinos for no reason other than their ethnicity (and the mayor doesn't care, but does like making racist comments in response). And after the revelations of the last year, the NYTimes editorial board calls for greater oversight of the out-of-control NYPD.

Leon Panetta  offers a pathetically weak — and unconstitutional — defense of the government's claim that we can now summarily execute US citizens without any judicial involvement: “If someone's a terrorist, they're a terrorist. Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism. He's a terrorist, damn it. Screw due process. Terrorism! Didn't you hear me? Terrorist. Yes, we will continue shitting on the Constitution, thank you very much. TERRORISM!

Hmm, I wonder why the Iraqi people aren't enamored with America.

Keystone XL will never die, so long as the GOP continues to try to find ways to promote dirty energy.

Not good news on wheat yields and global warming.

Pythons are killing everything in the Everglades.

We're not only altering the Amazon through deforestation, but through climate change, as well.

The state of the economy, in 11 charts.

Batshit insane demagogue Newt Gingrich is a complete hypocrite.

Batshit insane demagogue Frothy Mix Santorum is a complete hypocrite.

Toilet texting: everyone's doing it.

Happy 75th birthday to minimalist master Philip Glass.

!!! 5,000 hours of Alan Lomax field recordings will soon be streaming for free online! (h/t Nate) And even more excitingly:
The Association for Cultural Equity also has what it calls a repatriation program, meant to make Lomax’s work available to the communities where it was obtained and to pay royalties to the heirs of those whose music was recorded. On Friday recordings, photographs, video and documents are to be donated to the public library in Como, Miss., where in September 1959 Lomax made the first recordings of the blues guitarist Fred McDowell, whose songs were later covered by the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bonnie Raitt and Jack White of the White Stripes.

“My father always felt that part of his job was to give something back to the people whose culture it was,” Ms. Wood said. “It’s a way of saying, ‘What you do is worth something,’ and what we do is an extension of that.”

Let's start labeling foods containing GMOs:

Kittens! Cute, cute kittens. Get ready for the Kitten Halftime Show. (h/t Megan D-J)

And finally, Heather's Happy Link Of The Day:

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