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G_j's Journal
G_j's Journal
March 30, 2012

Americans Still Prioritize Economic Growth Over Environment

March 29, 2012

Americans Still Prioritize Economic Growth Over Environment
But eight-percentage-point gap in favor of economic growth is smaller than last year's gap

by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist


For most of the last three decades, Americans have prioritized "the environment, even at the risk of curbing economic growth" over "economic growth … even if the environment suffers to some extent." Prior to 2001, about two-thirds of Americans routinely favored protecting the environment. Even as the recession and financial crisis were getting underway in early 2008, more Americans favored the environment than economic growth, by a seven-point margin.

This trend changed as the recession deepened in 2009, with economic growth taking priority over the environment and continuing to do so through this year. Gallup found half of Americans choosing the environment after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in May 2010, but the data suggest that this major environmental event had only a temporary effect on the trend.

The modest improvement in the U.S. economy in early 2012 may have led some Americans to be somewhat less concerned about unemployment and economic growth, perhaps explaining this year's slight shift in favor of the environment.

Gallup finds a similar trend this year in Americans' preferences for the trade-off between environmental protection and energy production.

Young People, Democrats, and Liberals Prioritize Environment

Most subgroups of Americans favor economic growth over the environment. In fact, at least half of Americans 30 or older, conservatives, and Republicans prioritize economic growth. However, half or more of younger people aged 18 to 29, Democrats, and liberals instead prioritize the environment, as they have in past years.



March 30, 2012

Climate change: world is reaching tipping point


Climate change: world is reaching tipping point

March 27 2012 at 10:20am
By Nina Chestney

London - The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday.

Scientific estimates differ but the world's temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably.

As emissions grow, scientists say the world is close to reaching thresholds beyond which the effects on the global climate will be irreversible, such as the melting of polar ice sheets and loss of rainforests.

“This is the critical decade. If we don't get the curves turned around this decade we will cross those lines,” said Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University's climate change institute, speaking at a conference in London.

Despite this sense of urgency, a new global climate treaty forcing the world's biggest polluters, such as the United States and China, to curb emissions will only be agreed on by 2015 - to enter into force in 2020.


March 30, 2012

Michael Hintze revealed as funder of Lord Lawson's climate think tank


Michael Hintze revealed as funder of Lord Lawson's climate think tank

Michael Hintze is a Tory party donor and financially supporting former chancellor Nigel Lawson's climate sceptic thinktank.
Tuesday 27 March 2012

Michael Hintze financially supporting organisation that regularly casts doubt on the science and cost of tackling climate change

Michael Hintze, a leading Conservative party donor who runs the £5bn hedge fund CQS, has emerged as a financial backer of the climate sceptic thinktank founded by former chancellor, Lord Nigel Lawson.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation, launched by Lawson in 2009, regularly casts doubt on the science and cost of tackling climate change in the media and has called on climate scientists to show greater transparency, but has refused to reveal details of its donors. Leading Nasa climate scientist James Hansen calls it "one link in a devious manipulation of public opinion [regarding climate change]."

On Monday, Downing Street was forced to reveal that Hintze was among the leading Tory donors who were invited to privately dine with David Cameron at a "thank you" dinner following the general election in 2010. The revelation that Hintze, who has also donated £1.5m to the Tory party, is connected with climate change scepticism will be an embarassment for David Cameron, who has pledged to lead the "greenest government ever".

March 24, 2012

Wow! This, IMO, may be Obama's finest action (to date):

As one who has been bitterly depressed over drone strikes and immunity for war criminals and other related issues, I am REALLY impressed with this appointment. This is BIG! and I believe it will have a tremendously positive effect on our world. Thank you Mr. President!


Obama nominates educator as next head of World Bank

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's choice to lead the World Bank isn't the usual politician, lawyer or economist.

Jim Yong Kim, the White House's surprise nominee, is an educator, a doctor and an anthropologist who has waged a sometimes audacious campaign to improve the health of the world's poorest.

In the 1990s, defying skeptics, he found a cost-effective way to fight tuberculosis in the slums of South America. And he began a program to treat millions of Africans for HIV, that virus that causes AIDS.

Since 2009, the Korean-born Kim, 52, has been president of Dartmouth College.

"He's an outstanding choice," Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University economist who had been lobbying on his own behalf for the World Bank post, said in an interview.

"For the first time in the bank's history, it will have a president whose life mission is what the bank aims for: the elimination of poverty ... It's a brash decision which breaks the standard practice of going with a banker or a political insider."


March 23, 2012

Undocumented youth activists found 'not guilty' on all charges!


Undocumented youth found 'not guilty' on all charges
From a news release

CHICAGO — The six undocumented immigrants who were arrested last August 17, 2011 were found 'not guilty' of all charges. Nadia Sol Ireri Unzueta Carrasco (24), Fanny Lopez-Martinez (22), Jorge Mena (24), Arianna Salgado (19), and Carla Navoa (22) were facing State and City charges of blocking traffic, mob action, and reckless conduct. Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas declared that the prosecutors had not met their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and that therefore the protesters were found not guilty of all charges.

"I'm glad that we tested the system, as undocumented youth, and found community support," said Jorge Mena, a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and an organizer with the Immigrant Youth Justice League. "However, Secure Communities is still being enforced and we need to continue bringing attention to how it is putting people into deportation proceedings and tearing families apart," he added.

The undocumented activists also expressed excitement over the court's decision, as well as frustration over the length of the proceedings. "While I'm excited that we were found not guilty, I was disappointed at how long the city and the state dragged it out without getting their information straight," said Mena. His comment is in reference to two separate occasions when police officers did not show up to court to testify, which led to continuances of the trial, as well as several changes and amendments to the charges.

On her part, Lopez-Martinez added, "After 7 months of court dates we won the case! After I heard the judge's decision I felt that not only our commitment and courage were recognized, but also our movement's cause," she explained.

This is the first action of civil disobedience by undocumented immigrants in the history of the U.S. where all participants have been declared 'not guilty.' The action took place as a collaboration between the local undocumented immigrant led organizations, the Immigrant Youth Justice League (IYJL), Nuestra Voz, and the Latin@ Youth Action League (L@YAL). The Chicago 6 were represented by Janine Hoft, a lawyer with the People's Law Office, which has also represented protesters from the Occupy Chicago, and other social justice movements.

March 23, 2012

Women on Afghan peace council say they are sidelined

(NO surprise here)

Women on Afghan peace council say they are sidelined


By Miriam Arghandiwal

KABUL | Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:01am EDT

KABUL (Reuters) - Women members of an Afghan government council charged with seeking reconciliation with the Taliban have been sidelined from main consultations and are trying to forge a united voice within the council, one of the members said.

The 70-member High Peace Council, which has been struggling to carve out a role in the negotiations since the assassination of its chief, Burhanuddin Rabbani, last year, has nine women.

While the women attend peace workshops and meetings both in the country and abroad, Gulali Noor Safi said they were not involved in making major decisions.

"We are trying to be involved in the peace process but in my opinion, most of the time we're not included in major discussions," she said.



Somehow, the Word ‘Peace’ Got Lost



Somehow, the Word ‘Peace’ Got Lost

by Cora Weiss • March 9, 2012

This essay was adapted from a speech that Cora Weiss, president of the Hague Appeal for Peace, a network of peace and justice groups, read as a panelist on the “Women, War and Peace” debate held during the 56th Commission on the Status of Women this month at the UN. The debate that Weiss spoke at, on March 1, showed a film, “Peace Unveiled,” about women in Afghanistan.

Who comes from a place where there has been violence or war?

I have enormous admiration and respect for the women of Afghanistan. I mourn with them for the loss of life, the wounded, the babies frozen to death in refugee camps, the destruction to their homes and communities. And I celebrate their determination to be at the peace table.

The question after so many years of war and waste is: When will we stop making war? When will the currency of foreign policy stop being weapons? When will be become exhausted from exhausting all nonlethal means of resolving conflict before resorting to violence? When will we implement the Charter of the United Nations, dedicated to preventing the scourge of war? When will women be at all the decision-making tables to prevent war and to design the peace?

Humanity has abolished slavery, colonialism, apartheid and the prohibition of women voting. Why can’t we abolish war?

We gather for the annual Commission on the Status of Women conference at this time of year because March 8 is International Women’s Day, voted by the General Assembly in 1975 to be the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

Somehow, peace has gotten lost.


March 22, 2012

Why the World Bank has no real intentions of reducing poverty


Why the World Bank has no real intentions of reducing poverty

The World Bank congratulates itself for slashing poverty, while global hunger soars. "It's a massive crime against humanity."

Joel ElliottMarch 22, 2012 06:26

WALTHAM, Massachusetts — It’s time for the World Bank to stop pretending significant progress is being made in reducing extreme global poverty. The self-congratulatory report it issued recently claimed it had achieved its stated goal of cutting global poverty in half. This was extremely misleading at best, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPOVCALNET/Resources/Global_Poverty_Update_2012_02-29-12.pdf

This goal (the first of the eight Millennium Development Goals) was originally announced as being to cut in half the total number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. When it became obvious that the economic policies of the Bretton Woods Institutions of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and also the World Trade Organization would never allow for that to happen — because they were not intended to reduce global poverty, as will be explained — the UN General Assembly redefined the goal as being to cut in half the proportion of the global population of those living in extreme poverty. This redefinition enabled the World Bank to put forth the illusion of progress when none was actually occurring.

Thomas Pogge, Director of the Global Justice Program and a professor of philosophy at Yale University, is deeply skeptical both of the World Bank’s findings and its methodologies. In his 2010 book, Politics as Usual, Pogge argues that, besides the troubling redefinition of MDG1, the World Bank’s methods of calculating consumer price indices (CPI) and purchasing power parity (PPP) fail to count many people who actually are experiencing extreme poverty, which is defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.

“It’s a massive crime against humanity,” he said in an interview. “How can this be? How can people be less and less poor, and more and more people are hungry?”

The number of chronically undernourished as tracked by the United Nations increased from about 800 million in 1992 to 925 million in 2010, according to this UN report, and increasing food prices are likely to have pushed it much higher since.

March 22, 2012

Study leaves little doubt, ill-effects of toxic gases associated with oil and gas drilling


Colorado study assesses potential health risks of toxic gases associated with oil and gas drilling
Posted on March 20, 2012 by Bob Berwyn

Pollution from oil drilling has potential health impacts.
Data leaves little doubt about ill-effects of toxic gases

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Just a few weeks after NOAA researchers revealed findings that oil and gas development leads to elevated levels of air pollution along the Front Range, a Colorado School of Public Health study shows that air pollution caused by fracking may contribute to acute and chronic health problems for those living near natural gas drilling sites.

“Our data show that it is important to include air pollution in the national dialogue on natural gas development that has focused largely on water exposures to hydraulic fracturing,” said Lisa McKenzie, Ph.D., MPH, lead author of the study and research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health.

The report is based on three years of air quality monitoring. It found a number of potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air near the wells including benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene. Benzene has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen. Other chemicals included heptane, octane and diethylbenzene but information on their toxicity is limited.

“Our results show that the non-cancer health impacts from air emissions due to natural gas development is greater for residents living closer to wells,” the report said. “The greatest health impact corresponds to the relatively short-term, but high emission, well-completion period.”

March 21, 2012

A Doctor on Transvaginal Ultrasounds


Guest Post: A Doctor on Transvaginal Ultrasounds

March 20, 2012 By John Scalzi 548 Comments

A friend of mine is a physician who wants to speak about transvaginal ultrasounds but whose position makes it precarious to speak publicly about it. So I’m letting this doctor borrow my site for an entry to speak anonymously on the matter. Obviously, I will vouch for the doctor being a doctor and being qualified to speak on the subject.

Where Is The Physician Outrage?

Right. Here.

I’m speaking, of course, about the required-transvaginal-ultrasound thing that seems to be the flavor-of-the-month in politics.

I do not care what your personal politics are. I think we can all agree that my right to swing my fist ends where your face begins.

I do not feel that it is reactionary or even inaccurate to describe an unwanted, non-indicated transvaginal ultrasound as “rape”. If I insert ANY object into ANY orifice without informed consent, it is rape. And coercion of any kind negates consent, informed or otherwise.

In all of the discussion and all of the outrage and all of the Doonesbury comics, I find it interesting that we physicians are relatively silent.

After all, it’s our hands that will supposedly be used to insert medical equipment (tools of HEALING, for the sake of all that is good and holy) into the vaginas of coerced women.

Fellow physicians, once again we are being used as tools to screw people over. This time, it’s the politicians who want to use us to implement their morally reprehensible legislation. They want to use our ultrasound machines to invade women’s bodies, and they want our hands to be at the controls. Coerced and invaded women, you have a problem with that? Blame us evil doctors. We are such deliciously silent scapegoats.

It is our responsibility, as always, to protect our patients from things that would harm them. Therefore, as physicians, it is our duty to refuse to perform a medical procedure that is not medically indicated. Any medical procedure. Whatever the pseudo-justification.

It’s time for a little old-fashioned civil disobedience.

Here are a few steps we can take as physicians to protect our patients from legislation such as this.


March 21, 2012

Israel hearts Iran, Online campaign challenges tensions between the two countries.

Israel hearts Iran, Online campaign challenges growing tensions between the two countries.


Amid growing tensions between Israel and Iran, two Israeli graphic designers have created a Facebook campaign aimed at challenging the warmongering rhetoric, as first reported by +972 magazine.

Ronnie Edri and Michal Tamir designed an emblem that reads, “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We <3 you” and now dozens of Israelis have added it to their Facebook photos. The campaign also spurred the creation of similar emblems by Iranians.

Here are some examples of the online campaign:

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