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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Watch the World's Forests Disappear on Google Earth | Mother Jones

"The result, published today in Science, is a stunning series of time-lapse maps, along with an interactive mapping tool, that reveal the Earth lost about 888,000 square miles of forest between 2000 and 2012, roughly the area of the US east of the Mississippi River. The loss, which was most dramatic in the tropics, was primarily due to logging, urban development, strip mining, and other human impacts, Hansen said, but the figure also includes loss from fires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. The maps are accurate to 11-square-mile units, close enough to see logging roads and individuals stands of trees, which gave the researchers an unprecedented look at the complete extent and rate of deforestation on a global and hyper-local scale."

Monday, April 27, 2015

"Our Nation Is Moving Toward Two Societies, One Black, One White--Separate and Unequal": Excerpts from the Kerner Report

“Our Nation Is Moving Toward Two Societies, One Black, One White—Separate and Unequal”: Excerpts from the Kerner Report

President Lyndon Johnson formed an 11-member National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders in July 1967 to explain the riots that plagued cities each summer since 1964 and to provide recommendations for the future. The Commission’s 1968 report, informally known as the Kerner Report, concluded that the nation was “moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” Unless conditions were remedied, the Commission warned, the country faced a “system of ’apartheid’” in its major cities. The Kerner report delivered an indictment of “white society” for isolating and neglecting African Americans and urged legislation to promote racial integration and to enrich slums—primarily through the creation of jobs, job training programs, and decent housing. President Johnson, however, rejected the recommendations. In April 1968, one month after the release of the Kerner report, rioting broke out in more than 100 cities following the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. In the following excerpts from the Kerner Report summary, the Commission analyzed patterns in the riots and offered explanations for the disturbances. In 1998, 30 years after the issuance of the Report, former Senator and Commission member Fred R. Harris co-authored a study that found the racial divide had grown in the ensuing years with inner-city unemployment at crisis levels. Opposing voices argued that the Commission’s prediction of separate societies had failed to materialize due to a marked increase in the number of African Americans living in suburbs.




"Our Nation Is Moving Toward Two Societies, One Black, One White--Separate and Unequal": Excerpts from the Kerner Report

"A riot is the language of the unheard" - Martin Luther King


CLIP: President Obama's Anger Translator (C-SPAN)

Sunday, April 26, 2015

We are limiting our future by leaving humanities out of higher education. Starving for Wisdom - NYTimes.com

"In the policy realm, one of the most important decisions we humans will have to make is whether to allow germline gene modification. This might eliminate certain diseases, ease suffering, make our offspring smarter and more beautiful. But it would also change our species. It would enable the wealthy to concoct superchildren. It’s exhilarating and terrifying.

To weigh these issues, regulators should be informed by first-rate science, but also by first-rate humanism. After all, Homer addressed similar issues three millenniums ago.

In “The Odyssey,” the beautiful nymph Calypso offers immortality to Odysseus if he will stay on her island. After a fling with her, Odysseus ultimately rejects the offer because he misses his wife, Penelope. He turns down godlike immortality to embrace suffering and death that are essential to the human condition.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Here's What You Need to Know About the Trade Deal Dividing the Left | Mother Jones

"Robert Reich's widely circulated video take on the TPP (see above), produced in coordination with the progressive MoveOn.org, explains some of the major concerns: Beyond the potential for increased corporate power and jobs sent overseas, a clause that sets up an "Investor State Dispute Settlement," would let corporations challenge domestic regulations that interfere with their profit-making. 

Elizabeth Warren, in an op-ed in the Washington Post emphasized that this aspect of the deal violates American values across the board:

Conservatives who believe in U.S. sovereignty should be outraged that ISDS would shift power from American courts, whose authority is derived from our Constitution, to unaccountable international tribunals. Libertarians should be offended that ISDS effectively would offer a free taxpayer subsidy to countries with weak legal systems. And progressives should oppose ISDS because it would allow big multinationals to weaken labor and environmental rules."


Obama Just Called Out Florida's Climate Deniers in Their Own Backyard | Mother Jones

"President Barack Obama just marked Earth Day with a speech on climate change, given from a podium in Florida's Everglades National Park. The choice of venue was appropriate from an environmental perspective—the Everglades is already acutely feeling the impacts of sea level rise—but it was also telling from a political standpoint. Although our swampiest national park has a long history of bipartisan support, it's located in a state that has recently produced some of the most absurdist climate denial in recent memory—and Obama didn't forget to mention it.

Florida is home not just to Sen. Marco Rubio, a GOP presidential contender who maintains that humans can't affect the climate, but also to Gov. Rick Scott, who landed in headlines last month after apparently barring state employees from talking about climate change.

"Climate change can no longer be denied," Obama said today. "It can't be edited out. It can't be omitted from the conversation…Simply refusing to say the words 'climate change' doesn't mean climate change isn't happening."

Should Congress Decide Foreign Policy? - The New Yorker

"The conduct of foreign policy for almost eight decades, but its admonitions have made little impression on the Republicans now on Capitol Hill. They have meddled in unprecedented fashion to undermine President Obama’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran, as he seeks—with Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China—to cap Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. The most egregious example came in March, when forty-seven Senate Republicans signed an open letter to Iranian leaders, which contained a dubious analysis of the Constitution and warned the mullahs not to rely on any deal that Congress failed to approve."

Nuclear deal gives Tehran a powerful hand | The National

"Iran’s adversaries grumble that it has emerged as the big winner from the nuclear deal, usually exaggerating the implications of the agreement.

But in a bigger sense, Iran has clearly won an important victory, not by actually building nuclear weapons, but by simply demonstrating the capacity to do so. The grim reality of the international geopolitical order since the Second World War has been that it is nuclear-weapons capability that buys nation states a seat at the grown-ups’ table."

Use of ‘African-American’ Dates to Nation’s Early Days - NYTimes.com

"The O.E.D.’s entry, revised in 2012, traces the first known occurrence to 1835, in an abolitionist newspaper. But now, a researcher has discovered a printed reference in an anti-British sermon from 1782 credited to an anonymous “African American,” pushing the origins of the term back to the earliest days of independence."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Sad But Self-Inflicted Fall of Cornel West - The Daily Beast

"Apparently, it was the release of Race Matters in the mid-’90s that placed West at the pinnacle, and he intended on staying there for life. He did not need to publish new, thought-provoking works. His lack of output was disappointing, and so were his verbal attacks toward others in the black community, especially at MSNBC contributor and professor Melissa Harris-Perry.

Still, he potentially could have recovered from both of these errors. Yet he decided to rest on his laurels from here to eternity, and as he did so, time, unbeknownst to him, began passing him by. When Obama showed up, and politely challenged West’s idyllic place at the summit, West responded venomously to challenge this young, brash usurper.

West became incredulous when Obama chose to speak in front of the people who elected him instead of those within the black community.


West was not the only person to challenge Obama’s place within the black community—Jesse Jackson had very choicewords for Obama, too—but he is one of the few whose perspective has not evolved with the passage of time, and nothing could be more damning for an intellectual. Yet the key thing to remember is that Obama did not take West’s position at the summit; he instead built a taller mountain and sat atop it."

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

This Is Jon Stewart's Biggest 'Daily Show' Regret

"In a discussion with The Guardian, the host said he wishes he questioned former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld harder about his role in the Bush administration's post-9/11 conflicts.Rumsfeld visited "The Daily Show" in 2011 to discuss his memoirKnown and Unknown.

"I should have pushed, but he’s very adept at deflecting," Stewart told The Guardian. “That interview with Rumsfeld went shitty, but it’s still just an interview. He’s the one who has to live with the repercussions of what he really did, so there’s nothing that could happen on my show that carries that same level of regret.”

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Jon Stewart Mysteries Presents: The Case of the Iranian Agent! - The Daily Show - Video Clip | A classic Jon Stewart take down of former Vice President Dick Cheney


The Jon Stewart Mysteries Presents: The Case of the Iranian Agent! - The Daily Show - Video Clip | Comedy Central

If U.S. Bombed Iran What Would Actually Happen?

NYTimes: Germanwings Crash Exposes History of Denial on Risk of Pilot Suicide

From Loretta Lynch to Iran, Obama's had enough of the GOP - CSMonitor.com

In the final quarter of his presidency, Barack Obama is going on the offensive, targeting Republican lawmakers on topics from climate change to the Iran nuclear deal to the delayed confirmation of attorney general Loretta Lynch.
WASHINGTON — With a tone of outrage and eye-rolling dismissiveness, President Barack Obama and his White House team are working out their aggressions on Republicans. Well into the final quarter of Obama's presidency the White House approach is, if you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Elizabeth Warren Hammers The Endless Failures Of Wall Street Regulators

"WASHINGTON -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) assailed the nation's top bank regulators on Wednesday for coddling Wall Street offenders and ducking the responsibilities Congress assigned them in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Media News, Opinion and Analysis - HuffPost Media



Media News, Opinion and Analysis - HuffPost Media

Best, Brightest — and Saddest? - NYTimes.com

"He made these observations apart from the suicides, for which, he emphasized, “There is no single cause.” He recommended lightening children’s schedules, limiting the number of times that they take the SAT, lessening the message that it’s Stanford or bust, "

A New Phase in Anti-Obama Attacks - NYTimes.com

"It is a line of attack that echoes Republicans’ earlier questioning of Mr. Obama’s American citizenship. Those attacks were blatantly racist in their message — reminding people that Mr. Obama was black, suggesting he was African, and planting the equally false idea that he was secretly Muslim. The current offensive is slightly more subtle, but it is impossible to dismiss the notion that race plays a role in it."

A New Phase in Anti-Obama Attacks - NYTimes.com

"It is a line of attack that echoes Republicans’ earlier questioning of Mr. Obama’s American citizenship. Those attacks were blatantly racist in their message — reminding people that Mr. Obama was black, suggesting he was African, and planting the equally false idea that he was secretly Muslim. The current offensive is slightly more subtle, but it is impossible to dismiss the notion that race plays a role in it."

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Gay conversion therapy survivor speaks about experience As the White House calls for a state-level ban on therapy aimed at “converting” or “repairing” LGBT youth, Alex Wagner talks with Matthew Shurka, the spokesperson for NCLR's Born Perfect campaign, and a survivor of gay conversion therapy. 

http://www.msnbc.com/now/watch/what-gay-conversion-therapy-is-actually-like-425765956001

Gay conversion therapy survivor speaks about experience As the White House calls for a state-level ban on therapy aimed at “converting” or “repairing” LGBT youth, Alex Wagner talks with Matthew Shurka, the spokesperson for NCLR's Born Perfect campaign, and a survivor of gay conversion therapy. 

http://www.msnbc.com/now/watch/what-gay-conversion-therapy-is-actually-like-425765956001

Gay conversion therapy survivor speaks about experienceAs the White House calls for a state-level ban on therapy aimed at “converting” or “repairing” LGBT youth, Alex Wagner talks with Matthew Shurka, the spokesperson for NCLR's Born Perfect campaign, and a survivor of gay conversion therapy. 

http://www.msnbc.com/now/watch/what-gay-conversion-therapy-is-actually-like-425765956001

Rand Paul's outreach to minorities stands out in 2016 campaign | MSNBC

"But the inclusiveness on display during Paul’s announcement soon grew complicated. Critics pointed out that Stephenson, the aforementioned pastor, said in 2010, “the greatest slave owner we’ve ever had is in Washington D.C. and it’s time to stop him.” After introducing Sen. Paul on Tuesday, Stephenson reportedly told members the press “In five years we’ll find out what [Obama’s] real religion is.” 

Paul’s campaign has not commented publicly on Stephenson’s remarks. 

All this raises an important question: Can Paul be an effective voice for diversifying his party?

When he was first running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky back in 2010, his campaign was nearly derailed during an interview with msnbc’s Rachel Maddow when he expressed ambivalence about the 1964 Civil Rights Act."

Our Founding Fathers included Islam - Salon.com

"At a time when most Americans were uninformed, misinformed, or simply afraid of Islam, Thomas Jefferson imagined Muslims as future citizens of his new nation. His engagement with the faith began with the purchase of a Qur’an eleven years before he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson’s Qur’an survives still in the Library of Congress, serving as a symbol of his and early America’s complex relationship with Islam and its adherents. That relationship remains of signal importance to this day."

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Teacher Tells Chris Christie He Isn't A Good Example For Her Students

"A kindergarten teacher doesn't think New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is doing a very good job of teaching by example.

At a town hall Monday, Cheryl Meyer told the governor "that she'd had trouble explaining to her students why it was fine for the man who holds the highest office in the state to use words like 'shut up' and 'idiot' when they can't," The Associated Press reported.

"How do you defend that?" she asked, advising the potential 2016 presidential contender that it wouldn't play well on a national stage.

"There are some people who just believe that if you're a public figure, that they're allowed to be rude -- that they can say anything to you and because you're a public figure, you have to respond politely because that's the rule. I don't see it that way," the governor responded, according to Bloomberg."

Monday, April 06, 2015

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Government Surveillance (HBO)

The Obama Doctrine and Iran - NYTimes.com

"We are powerful enough to be able to test these propositions without putting ourselves at risk. And that’s the thing ... people don’t seem to understand,” the president said. “You take a country like Cuba. For us to test the possibility that engagement leads to a better outcome for the Cuban people, there aren’t that many risks for us. It’s a tiny little country. It’s not one that threatens our core security interests, and so [there’s no reason not] to test the proposition. And if it turns out that it doesn’t lead to better outcomes, we can adjust our policies. The same is true with respect to Iran, a larger country, a dangerous country, one that has engaged in activities that resulted in the death of U.S. citizens, but the truth of the matter is: Iran’s defense budget is $30 billion. Our defense budget is closer to $600 billion. Iran understands that they cannot fight us. ... You asked about an Obama doctrine. The doctrine is: We will engage, but we preserve all our capabilities.”

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana - NYTimes.com

"The drama in Indiana last week and the larger debate over so-called religious freedom laws in other states portray homosexuality and devout Christianity as forces in fierce collision.

They’re not — at least not in several prominent denominations, which have come to a new understanding of what the Bible does and doesn’t decree, of what people can and cannot divine in regard to God’s will.

And homosexuality and Christianity don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere.

That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway. Beliefs ossified over centuries aren’t easily shaken.

But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.

It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras.

It ignores the extent to which interpretation is subjective, debatable.

And it elevates unthinking obeisance above intelligent observance, above the evidence in front of you, because to look honestly at gay, lesbian and bisexual people is to see that we’re the same magnificent riddles as everyone else: no more or less flawed, no more or less dignified."

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Fox Business News apologizes after commentator calls Apple CEO Tim Cook a 'bigot'

"On Friday, Fox Business Network apologized for a remark made by a commentator earlier in the week in which a regular guest called Apple CEO Tim Cook a "bigot" for his stance on religious freedom laws in Indiana and Arkansas. '

Friday, April 03, 2015

Rachel Maddow slams despicable Alabama lawmaker who tried to repeal a law inspired by his own patient’s death - Salon.com

"In a development that drew national attention this week and inspired a segment on Rachel Maddow’s show last night, GOP state senator Larry Stutts attempted to repeal Rose’s Law, a 1999 measure to protect new mothers by requiring a two-day hospital stay after giving birth. Under the law, mothers with complicated births stay in the hospital for four days."