Noteworthy Links - Current

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Homeless during the holidays

December 25, 2013 | By Les Gapay,

"Recently, in my old hometown in Montana, a man died of exposure. According to news reports, he was a Wal-Mart employee in the town of Miles City, homeless and living in his car when the weather plunged to 27 degrees below zero.

"We tend to shrug off the homeless when we see them pushing their shopping carts or holding up signs asking for money. They're mentally ill, we assume, or drug addicts. But I know from experience that a lot of the homeless are like that man in Montana: struggling to make it but not quite able to."

Kiribati faces its future, and a rising ocean

By J. Maarten Troost, Special to the Los Angeles Times
November 17, 2013

"Recently, a curious case appeared before New Zealand’s High Court. The plaintiff, Ioane Teitiota, a resident of the island nation of Kiribati, was seeking refugee status in New Zealand. His reasoning? Climate change and rising sea levels were making Kiribati uninhabitable. 'There’s no future for us when we go back to Kiribati,' Teitiota argued."

"I used to live in Kiribati, a remote nation of 33 atolls in the equatorial Pacific scattered over an area nearly two-thirds as large as the continental United States. When I lived there, in the late 1990s, the island elders were beginning to notice a strange new phenomenon. The spring tides, or king tides as they are sometimes called, were beginning to breach the typical high-water mark on the beach, inundating homes, flooding pig pens and streaming over the causeways that linked the islets of South Tarawa, where most of the nation’s 100,000 inhabitants resided."

"...Not long ago, I visited Kiribati and was struck by the changes. Those sea walls, built with hope, now look like the grim remains of ancient fortresses destroyed long ago. The coconut trees near shore — the source of the nutritious toddy that children drink for breakfast and provider of the copra that Kiribati depends on for its meager income — stand like mute sentries, dead and useless as they succumb to the tide. The groundwater is now so brackish that gardens refuse to grow."

Pope Francis denounces 'trickle-down' economic theories in critique of inequality

By Zachary A. Goldfarb and Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post
Published: November 26

"Pope Francis on Tuesday sharply criticized growing economic inequality and unfettered markets in a wide-ranging and decidedly populist teaching that revealed how he plans to reshape the Catholic Church.

"'Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,' Francis wrote in the papal statement. 'This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.

"'Meanwhile,' he added, 'the excluded are still waiting.'"

Full story at:

The Price Is Right

By Paul Begala for The Daily Beast and Newsweek | May 6, 2013
Will supporting guns finally cause politicians to lose their jobs?

"BACK WHEN I was President Clinton’s political adviser, I cited poll numbers to try to talk him out of even a tiny tax increase on the middle class, in the form of a four-cent hike in the gas tax. But the final word went to Lloyd Bentsen, Clinton’s Treasury secretary. 'Mr. President,' he said, 'I’m sure Paul’s polls are correct. But I never saw a fella lose his seat for voting for a four-penny gas tax.'

"...Bentsen’s political observation comes to mind in the current discussion of gun control. Sure, the polls say 90 percent of Americans support expanded background checks. But have you ever seen anyone lose his or her seat for voting against gun control? I’ve seen more than I care to recall lose their seat for supporting it."

Former BP Boss Tony Hayward Wins 2010 Rubber Dodo Award

BP's 200-million Gallon Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Was Worst Environmental Disaster in U.S. History, Killing Thousands of Rare and Endangered Species

"TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity today [October 4, 2010] awarded former BP CEO Tony Hayward its 2010 Rubber Dodo Award. The award is given annually to the person who has done the most to drive endangered species extinct."

Hot Times in Antarctica

Posted by Michael Lemonick Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Read more:

"The world's polar regions are warming up faster than the global average, but the western edge of the Antarctic Peninsula is especially steamy. Over the past 50 years, winter temperatures have shot up by an almost unbelievable 6°C—more than five times the global average, according to a paper just published in Science."

Real-Time Gulf-Crisis Web site Goes Live

The Center for Biological Diversity has launched a Gulf-Crisis Web site that will be updated daily with information on how big the spill is, where it's hitting shore, what species are suffering the impacts, and how the rescue effort is going.

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