Archive for March 29th, 2011
I had the great honor of being on the Martha Stewart Living Show today. A little secret: Through all the years I have been working to educate consumers about “smarter living” — which by the way is the name of NRDC’s new consumer portal that I edit — I have always imagined that people might see me as the green Martha Stewart. Dream on, I know, but if you could have seen me today, on the set — with the beautiful kitchens, the green house, and the friendly fans (see the contingent from NRDC!) in the studio audience — you’ll know just what a thrill it was.
Of course, Martha, the gardener and doyenne of home-cooking, is a model of green and healthy living, so it was natural for “the environment” to be the theme of the show. First up was the actor, Ted Danson who talked with Martha about his new book, Oceana, which documents the plight of our oceans — from the ravages of overfishing and habitat destruction to the devastating effects of ocean acidification (continue reading…)
These are not great times for workers — or for unions. One bright spot, though, are new laws that protect workers from being cheated out of their wages. On April 9, New York will become the largest state yet to enact a law designed to reduce wage theft by employers. The law could mean, literally, tens of millions of more dollars in the pockets of workers.
Wage theft is a pervasive problem (continue reading…)
What if we look at the life of gang members through the experience of child soldiers in Africa? Is the experience of children manipulated and dragged into war in Uganda all that different from the one of teenagers recruited by gangs in our own cities? Are the fears and the fight for survival and the sense of power that comes with carrying a weapon of a child soldier in Somalia different from the ones of our teenagers patrolling the neighborhoods of our cities with a gun under their shirt?
These questions spun in my mind a few days ago while witnessing the first encounter on Rutgers University’s campus in Newark between Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone and author of A Long Way Gone, and DaShaun “Jiwe” Morris, author of War of the Bloods in My Veins, a compelling memoir about his life as a gang leader.
In a room filled to capacity by students and faculty, Ishmael and Jiwe compared notes about their lives. How, still children, in an environment surrounded by violence they were recruited by armed groups. How that at the time seemed the best choice if one was to survive. How they both embraced violence fully, moving around at ease in the space of death (continue reading…)
The most important content of presidential speeches is often what they don’t say. Here are some things that President Obama didn’t say about Libya in his speech Monday night.
The president did not answer his critics who asked why he took America into war without authorization by Congress. This question was made sharper on Sunday when Jake Tapper of ABC asked Defense Secretary Gates,
“Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?”
“No, no,” was Gates’ reply (continue reading…)
Beijing Capital Airport Terminal 3, designed by Foster + Partners, opened in 2008. Sue Frause photo.
I wasn’t surprised when I read how few Americans have passports. According to Grey’s Blog, the top five states with passport ownership include New Jersey, Alaska, Massachusetts, New York and California. But at the bottom of the travel bin are Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia and Mississippi (continue reading…)
Afghanistan’s economic and security futures are intertwined; neither will be secure without the other. After ten years of NATO engagement in Afghanistan, President Karzai recently announced a military milestone: Afghan army and police are to take full responsibility for security in several regions of Afghanistan including Kabul, several cities in the North, and Lashkar Gah in the contentious Helmand province. As we watch this handover begin, we should also encourage a similar transition within the economic development sphere. The key to establishing long-term stability in Afghanistan lies in the country’s ability to create a business environment that provides jobs, income, and sustainable economic growth for its people (continue reading…)
China invested $54.4 billion on clean energy in 2010, $20 billion more than the U.S., according to the latest report from Pew Charitable Trusts and Bloomberg New Energy Finance released today. This is one-fifth of a global market that is growing at a record 30% pace. The competitive position of the U.S. has “deteriorated” so much that it slipped down to number three in private investment, as small-scale solar installations launched Germany into the number two spot (continue reading…)
The page which appeared on the social networking site was called Third Palestinian Intifada after two previous uprisings against Israeli occupation.
It was removed for featuring calls for violence, a company spokesman said.
Israel had raised concerns about the page. Facebook has helped spread calls for protests in Arab states (continue reading…)
The education department said the school broke federal law when it waited two hours after the first killings to warn students of a gunman on campus.
The university in Blacksburg, Virginia, said it would appeal against the fine.
In April 2007, 32 were killed when a student went on a two-and-a-half-hour rampage before killing himself.
“Because Virginia Tech failed to notify its students and staff of the initial shootings on a timely basis, thousands continued to travel on campus, without warning,” the department wrote announcing the fine (continue reading…)
“Wind and solar are great but strictly supplemental,” declared Al Velshi on CNN on March 26 in a report on the nuclear power disaster in Japan.
“You’re wrong,” environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a guest, shot back. Indeed, Velshi was wrong — as have so many in media been this week — in declaring that the choice in energy in the wake of the nuclear disaster in Japan is between nuclear on one side and coal, oil and gas on the other.
In fact, there’s no need for nuclear power because there are safe, clean, renewable energy technologies, not coal, oil and gas, here to substitute for nuclear power.
Scientific American, a most conservative scientific publication, in a cover story on October 26, 2009 — unveiled its “A Plan for a Sustainable Future.” It declared in its “Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables” that, “wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels.”
The British magazine New Scientist, in a special October 11-17, 2009, issue on safe, clean, renewable energy technologies — titled “Our Brighter Future” — presented a United Nations report declaring that “renewable energy that can already be harnessed economically would supply the world’s electricity needs.”
From solar to wind (now the fastest-growing and cheapest new energy technology) to wave-power to tidal-power to bio-fuels to small hydropower to co-generation (combining the generation of heat and electricity) and on and on, a renewable energy windfall is at hand.
A while back, I visited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado (continue reading…)
London has so many cultural and shopping options that even though I am a foodie, I don’t always get the time to checkout the newest and hottest restaurant openings between meeting friends, going to parks, shopping and enjoying nightlife. This time my friends insisted that I check out Heston Blumenthal’s eponymously named restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge.
For those of you who are not familiar with Mr. Blumenthal, he is a self-taught molecular gastronomist, food-historian, and has been seriously cooking since the mid-90′s. He has helped pioneer the contemporary slow cooking process; a combination of a slow cook time and very low temperatures (continue reading…)
PLAY > SKIP: New Music for the Week of March 29
There’s a war being fought for your music player this week. Divas are looking for mainstream redemption, rappers are searching for street cred, a Swedish indie band is hoping to invade U.S. radio waves, and a Texan trio wants to break out of the Lone Star State. Play on, brothers and sisters (continue reading…)
Climate funds such as the Prototype Carbon Fund and the European carbon market prioritize support for renewable energy technologies, and exclude large hydropower from this definition. There are good reasons for this: Big dams irreversibly damage freshwater ecosystems, which are already reeling under the impacts of climate change. Slow, lumpy investments in large dams are not well suited for the uncertainties of climate change, which call for nimble, decentralized and flexible energy strategies. Finally, the purpose of carbon credits is to facilitate emission reductions that would not happen without them (continue reading…)
Creative expression does not come cheap. But in spite of surges in public appreciation for art, tangible economic support for creativity — particularly the most innovative forms — is still on the back burner.
Since the late eighties and the disembowelment of the National Endowment for the Arts, support for individual visual artists has been primarily a trickle-down exercise. Instead of direct grants, almost all sources taken the NEA’s lead and moved the control of granted funds to organizations that support or present the work of artists, with a particular emphasis on artists whose work involves defined educational or community service activities (continue reading…)
Why are Republicans forcing a government shutdown and doing other things aimed at blowing up the economy? The question isn’t “are they,” it is why are they? Their election strategy for 2010 was to obstruct everything and keep the economy from creating jobs, and then blame Democrats. It worked. So now they’re doing it even more. But is that the whole plan?
In every instance Republicans are obstructing the very things that can help the economy recover and provide the jobs people need (continue reading…)
Earlier this month I wrote about LAX and its shameful public transit connections. Nothing I have seen or done since then has changed my thinking any. In fact, to add insult to LAX’s injury I made the threatened trip to San Francisco that I wrote about in my last piece and it was further confirmation of how far LA still has to travel public transit-wise.
It turns out my LAX piece was one of several recent articles debating the merits of spending hard-to-find transportation dollars on construction of a true mass transit connection to the airport when options like the Flyaway Bus and an airport shuttle that connects to the Metro Green Line and local buses already exists. Suffice it to say, YES, we still need to make this investment (continue reading…)
There is significant finger pointing going on around education. Those fingers would be better off used for finger painting, for all the good it does. Blame the system, not the people. I believe everyone in the equation is doing the best they can with the tools they have.
In this budget cutting environment, a vast, valuable resource has been overlooked in the quest to reduce the cost of education: the kids (continue reading…)
The question above is the one I get asked most often in my role as president of Macalester College and also happens to be the title and subject of a new book by Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman, both professors of economics and public policy at William and Mary. It is a book that should be read by anyone with even a passing interest in the answer and certainly by those policy makers who seem convinced that the answer is simply, “for no good reason.”
Rather than looking chiefly at the internal workings of colleges and universities, Archibald and Feldman take a macro-economic approach and examine whether forces in the larger economy have led during the past three decades to a phenomenon with which every tuition-paying parent (and I happen to be one of those, too) is familiar: college costs have risen and continue to rise at a much faster rate than inflation or the cost-of-living index.
To understand their answer, ask yourself another, perhaps unfamiliar question: what do colleges and dental offices have in common? (A good opening to a joke, I agree.) The serious answer is that higher education and the provision of dental services share at least three important characteristics that impact cost: both rely heavily on highly educated workers; both rely heavily on close interaction between “providers” and “customers”; and both have been made better, but not cheaper, by technology (continue reading…)
Santa Monicas Broad Stage Offers The Merchant of Venice With an Academy AwardWinning Actor No Its Not Pacino
F. Murray Abraham in The Merchant of Venice. Photo courtesy of The Broad Stage.
On April 14th I will be attending the opening night performance of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice at the wonderfully intimate 499-seat venue, The Broad Stage (1310 Tenth St, at Santa Monica Blvd, 310-434-3200), which will run at the Santa Monica playhouse until the 24th of the month. May I suggest that you call or go online (thebroadstage.com) and order tickets immediately, ’cause this is going to be a real winner of a production (continue reading…)
The 2010 election was a mandate for one thing: creating jobs and strengthening our economy for the long term. I heard that message loud and clear from New York families in every corner of our state, and I am working with my colleagues in Congress on solutions that will help create good-paying jobs and get the economy moving again for everyone.
But, instead of focusing on rebuilding the economy, House Republicans have unleashed an extreme ideological attack on America’s women and working families with HR 1, the first bill they introduced this Congress.
The House-passed bill slashed critical funding for prenatal care, including $750 million from nutrition programs for pregnant women and infant children.
It denies more than 5 million American women access to breast and cervical cancer screenings that could potentially save their lives.
Their budget cuts affect early childhood education deeply — cutting more than $1 billion from Head Start, and nearly $40 million from child care, depriving nearly 370,000 children from the early learning needed to put them on a path to a bright future.
And despite the overwhelming demand from the American people for Democrats and Republicans to work together to invest in job creation policies, House Republicans slashed nearly $1.5 billion from the job training programs we need to prepare America’s workforce for the jobs of today and the high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
But, more than these dollar figures and the irresponsible budgeting and priorities from Republicans, this debate is about the working families who rely on these resources to make ends meet each day. From the single mother who will no longer be able to provide nutritious meals for her young children to the young woman in who will no longer have access to the early cancer screenings that could save her life to our children who will never walk through the doors of a university years from now because the doors to early education are being closed to them today. We cannot slash and burn our way to a healthy society and a thriving economy.
These are the wrong priorities for New York and the wrong policies for America.
Instead of marginalizing women, Congress must get to work on policies that can foster job creation and fuel economic growth (continue reading…)
The ‘GNR’ is also now available on your cell phone via Stitcher Radio’s mobile app!.
IN TODAY’S RADIO REPORT: Fallout from the nuclear nightmare in Japan leads to a political shift in Germany; Plutonium found in the soil around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant; Americans trust the EPA more than Congress… so the GOP attacks the EPA — again … PLUS: Questioning America’s emergency response to a Fukushima-style nuclear nightmare … All that and more in today’s Green News Report!
Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below (continue reading…)
The Good Book: A Humanist Bible
By A.C. Grayling
$35; Walker & Company
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then British philosopher A.C. Grayling has just paid the Bible the ultimate compliment. After centuries of being the best-selling work of all time, the Bible will now face a direct competitor: The Good Book: A Humanist Bible by Grayling ($35; Walker & Company) is a distillation of wisdom and insight from some of the world’s greatest thinkers explicitly modeled on the approach of the Bible published on the 400th anniversary of the King James Version.
It’s cheeky, audacious, almost scandalous in a way (continue reading…)
One of the hottest events in the fall of 1971 was the arrival from San Francisco of a drag troupe called The Cockettes. They were being produced in New York by such eminent personages as Truman Capote and Rex Reed. It took place in a huge, long unused theater on lower second avenue.
The hosts had invited le tout New York (continue reading…)
What I described as “Malpractice at the Bernanke Federal Reserve” has now turned into billion dollar annuities to the stock holders of the large banks. The Bernanke Fed began paying interest on reserves held by the banks in October 2008 when the financial crisis heightened after large financial firms went bankrupt or were bailed out. It was essential policy to safeguard the banking system with loans, but not with incentive payments to reduce their lending and increase their reserves at the expense of businesses and employment.
The excess reserves, reserves that banks are not required to keep, exploded: from $1.875 billion on September 1, 2008 to $1.191 trillion on February 2, 2011 (continue reading…)