Without Free Knowledge
Posts Tagged ‘World’
Without Free Knowledge
Every year (and a lot more often actually) we take a look at which stories people read, which stories bring rushes of eyeballs to the site. Sometimes our most important stories get the most traffic, but a lot of times it is fun stories, off-beat stories that attract the most readers. We all know that car crashes and sex scandals sell newspapers.
This year, the most read stories had to do with marijuana, earthquakes, Big Bird, Al Gore (come back tomorrow for Gore and Big Bird) and the end of the world. Today, we list stories 10-6. Tomorrow 5-1, plus a look at some of the more important stories that might not have drawn such crowds.
10) The 10th most read story was our take on Jon Stewart‘s take on the impending (or not) end of the world. Pretty much any time we can sneak a Jon Stewart video into a story, people are going to look at it, at least if it has some tenuous connection to Colorado politics.
Because doomsday preacher Harold Camping had once lived in Colorado, we had the local connection we needed to write about his end-of-the-world rantings.
Where other publications found a mildly amusing story, though, we took a hard look at Camping’s gay-bashing.
9) This was certainly a year when medical marijuana was in the news, and we covered most angles of this story at one time or another. Our ninth most-read story of the year was one in which we examine the IRS’s attack on medical marijuana businesses.
We also covered Rep. Jared Polis’s efforts to get to the bottom of why the IRS and other branches of the federal government are so intent on making life difficult for legal medical marijuana businesses in Colorado and elsewhere.
When Oklahoma got hit with a raft of earthquake activity a few months ago, we wrote about the possible connection between fracking activity and seismic activity.
While anecdotal evidence might suggest a connection — as fracking has gone up in Oklahoma so have earthquakes — the science is simply not that clear yet.
7) The Cash Hyde story — about a three-year-old using cannabis to fight a brain tumor — has continued to draw a steady stream of readers months after it was originally published. It’s easy to see why as a recent Google search for “Cash Hyde” delivered nearly 15 million results.
The once seemingly happy ending, though, can no longer be taken for granted as Cash’s tumor is back and he is back in the hospital receiving radiation therapy.
Visit The Cash Hyde Foundation here.
6) Only one story from the 2011 Colorado Legislature made our top 10 and of course it had to do with medical marijuana. When the Legislature was considering a bill to more tightly regulate edible marijuana products, the medical marijuana community came out in droves to protest.
Seems some legislators equate cannabis soda, granola bars or suckers as candy and didn’t think medical marijuana should be made into candy that might appeal to kids. What they might not have counted on is that a lot of medical marijuana patients aren’t stoners and don’t want to smoke a joint but do want to ingest cannabis. They got organized and they affected change.
Later this week, stories 1-5. firstname.lastname@example.org
As the planet heats up, forests die. Pine beetles–formerly killed during harsh winters, thrive, turning much of Colorado a dirty brown. As forest die, they trap less carbon dioxide, causing the earth to get warmer still.
In Colorado and southern Wyoming alone, more than four million acres of forest are already under siege by beetles.
It’s a cycle that may be starting to spin out of control, reports today’s New York Times.
Across millions of acres, the pines of the northern and central Rockies are dying, just one among many types of forests that are showing signs of distress these days.
From the mountainous Southwest deep into Texas, wildfires raced across parched landscapes this summer, burning millions more acres. In Colorado, at least 15 percent of that state’s spectacular aspen forests have gone into decline because of a lack of water.
The devastation extends worldwide. The great euphorbia trees of southern Africa are succumbing to heat and water stress. So are the Atlas cedars of northern Algeria. Fires fed by hot, dry weather are killing enormous stretches of Siberian forest. Eucalyptus trees are succumbing on a large scale to a heat blast in Australia, and the Amazon recently suffered two “once a century” droughts just five years apart, killing many large trees.
Experts are scrambling to understand the situation, and to predict how serious it may become.
Scientists say the future habitability of the Earth might well depend on the answer. For, while a majority of the world’s people now live in cities, they depend more than ever on forests, in a way that few of them understand.
The Times reports that scientists have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done to prevent catastrophic global deforestation, but that funds and political will are lacking.
“Like any other scheme to improve the human condition, it’s quite precarious because it is so grand in its ambitions,” said William Boyd, a University of Colorado law professor working to salvage the plan.
The New York Times has published an article chronicling the rise of the German Green Party and its effects on sister parties around the globe:
The Greens surprised Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party when it took control of the affluent southern state of Baden-Württemberg this spring, which is akin to capturing the Texas statehouse. In the [...]
Green Party Watch
Based on a national Green Party press release. As posted at onthewilderside.com
Green Party leaders urged President Obama to reverse his decision to withdraw from participation in the third World Conference against Racism (“Durban III”). US Green Party members will attend the conference.
The conference, sponsored by the United Nations, will take place in New York City on September 22, 2011, marking the tenth anniversary of the first World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance in 2001, which was held in Durban, South Africa. The Obama Administration has cited widespread anger against Israel and the US at past conferences, perceived to be antisemitic and anti-American, as the reason for the withdrawal.
“2011 is both the International Year of Afrodescendants and the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the US Civil War. As such, it is vitally important the United States of America have an official presence at Durban III, to join an open discussion with the rest of the world on racism and how to end it; racism here in the USA, as well as in other countries,” said Marian Douglas-Ungaro, co-chair of the Green Party’s International Committee (http://www.gp.org/committees/intl/) and a member of the Green Party Black Caucus (http://www.gp.org/caucuses/black/index.php).
“Any statement expressing religious or ethnic intolerance or incitement to hatred against the Jewish people deserves swift condemnation. But the U.S. and other western countries have often interpreted legitimate criticism of the state of Israel, which has maintained its brutal and illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and internal apartheid, as ‘antisemitic’. They’ve used this thinly-veiled excuse to withdraw from the Durban conferences to avoid situations where certain rights-violating policies would face scrutiny and criticism on the world stage,” said Muhammed Malik, Co-Chair of the Miami-Dade Green Party (http://miamidadegreenparty.org/) and former Racial Justice and Voting Rights Projects Associate at the ACLU Florida. Mr. Malik recently spoke about racial justice as a panelist on the opening plenary of the Rights Working Group’s Southeastern Regional Conference and is organizing a rally at the Israeli Consulate in Miami in support of
Palestinian rights and the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza (http://ustogaza.org).
Greens said that the White House has avoided the Durban conferences also because of the failure of the US to address internal racial inequality, including continuing economic disparities and disadvantages suffered by people of color (such as the disproportionate loss of black families’ homes during the recent sub-prime mortgage crisis), the unaddressed call for reparations for the descendants of slavery, harassment and deportation of undocumented immigrants, the targeting of people of color in the War on Drugs, and record incarceration rates, with black, brown, poor, and young people locked up to feed the for-profit private prison industry.
Referring to Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent announcement that he will authorize the release of 5,500 federal prisoners to begin correcting sentencing disparities between crack and cocaine offenders, Green Party co-chair Theresa El-Amin said, “In this International Year of People of African Descent it’s beyond disappointing that the Obama Administration lifts a release of [only] 5,500 for nonviolent drug offenses when there are 2.4 million incarcerated in the United States. The fact that the majority of the 2.4 million are people of color makes the 5,500 release a non-event. The US is number one in the whole world in incarceration rates. China, which is four times more populous than the US, is a distant second with 1.6 million people in prison. The US pulling out of the Durban process is simply unacceptable.”
Ms. El-Amin, who plans to attend Durban III, was one of several human rights activists who participated in a special White House conference call briefing on Thursday, June 2. During the briefing, White House official Samantha Powers explained that the US delegation to the UN would withdraw from Durban III and cited “Israel” when asked why, drawing several statements of disappointment by other participants before the White House abruptly terminated the call.
Greens, including 2008 Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney, have participated in the first World Conference against Racism in 2001 and the second meeting (“Durban Review Conference”) in Geneva in 2009, both of which the US shunned. On August 8, 2001, the Green Party issued a strongly worded resolution on the withdrawal (http://www.gp.org/press/pr_08_13_01.html).
UN: One-day plenary event on the 10th anniversary of the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intorelance
2001 World Conference against Racism (UN site)
US Human Rights Network
Advocates celebrate, but critics warn: A few details—like, er, funding—have yet to be worked out.
Mon May. 30, 2011 3:15 AM PDT
As Gov. Peter Shumlin took his spot on the granite steps of the Vermont State House, a row of people fanned out behind him wearing bright red t-shirts proclaiming, “Health care is a human right.” The slogan sounded noble, and wildly unrealistic. Until the governor spoke
“We gather here today to launch the first single payer health care system in America,” began Shumlin, a Democrat who has been governor barely four months. “To do in Vermont what has taken too long: have a health care system, the best in the world, that treats health care as a right, and not a privilege.”
Moments later, the governor made history, signing a law that sets Vermont on a course to provide health care for all of its 620,000 citizens through a European-style single payer system called Green Mountain Care. Key components include containing costs by setting reimbursement rates for health care providers and streamlining administration into a single, state-managed system. To move to single-payer, the state will need a waiver from the federal government, which under the federal health care reform law would become available by 2017; Vermont is asking the administration to let it get there even faster, by 2014.
The push for single payer system in Vermont was built slowly and methodically over the last decade, but has moved with remarkable speed since Shumlin took office in January. A few weeks after the new governor’s inauguration, the Democratic-controlled Legislature convened a rare joint session to hear from Dr. William Hsiao, a Harvard economist who has been involved in designing health care systems in seven countries. Last year, the legislature commissioned Hsiao to analyze the costs and benefits of various health care options, ranging from single payer to a fully privately managed system. The soft-spoken economist told a packed state House that a single payer plan would be about 25 percent cheaper for consumers, businesses, and the government than the current system of private health insurance, saving about 0 million in just the first year.
The data emboldened Shumlin, the legislature, and the single-payer advocates who had organized throughout the past decade, even as Shumlin’s Republican predecessor dismissed their ideas. Last fall, Shumlin had campaigned on twin themes of job creation and health care reform, and he often cited his experience as the owner of a successful travel business. (“I know firsthand that the biggest obstacle to job growth is the 10, 20, 30 percent increases in insurance premiums.”) He slammed the current “unsustainable system that will … bankrupt us.”
Single payer advocates have been a constant and visible presence around the state. The independent Vermont Workers’ Center launched its “health care is a human right” campaign in 2008—inspired, said health care organizer James Haslam, by the desperate calls the Center was receiving on its workers’ hotline. “It was becoming more of a health care hotline,” he said. The group’s members went door to door, conducted numerous forums for legislators and organized health care rallies that drew thousands.
Health care providers also spoke up. Dr. Deb Richter, a family physician, moved to Vermont in 1999 from upstate New York, where she despaired at seeing her patients getting sicker and even dying as a result of problems with health insurance. As chair of Vermont Health Care for All, she gave 500 talks around the state, and helped bring along many reluctant health care providers. Richter was beaming when I saw her in the State House lobby last week. “I feel ecstatic,” she told me. “It’s like giving birth.”
Shumlin, a wiry, hyper-energetic lawmaker who often insists on shaking every hand in the crowd, staked his gubernatorial candidacy on single payer. It was a bold and risky move. The former president of the Vermont Senate, he was narrowly elected governor last fall after winning a five-way Democratic primary by some 200 votes, and defeating a popular Republican Lieutenant Governor by just 2 percent. Shumlin pointedly ignored the national Democratic strategy of tacking to the center, and instead championed progressive issues, from abortion rights to closing the state’s lone nuclear plant, to health care reform. I asked him why he’d hitched his star to single payer.
“It’s first of all a huge jobs creator, secondly we can’t sustain the current system – we are spending money faster than we are able to earn it,” he told me before heading outside to sign the bill. “So we think it’s an economic development issue as well as a human right.” But when I asked whether Vermont might a national model, the governor sounded a humble note. Major questions – such as how the program will be funded—have yet to be worked out. “You know, we are launching an ambitious effort here,” he said. “We want it in place by 2014. But I don’t think we should ask anyone to follow us until we figure it out. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Opponents have focused on the unknowns in the reform effort. Not a single Republican in the House, and only one Republican in the Senate, supported the bill. Republican Rep. Patti Komline, assistant state House minority leader, told me, “When people ask questions like how much is it going to cost and who’s gonna pay for it – they say, ‘Well this bill is more fact finding and information gathering.’ Which doesn’t make it very historic.”
Physicians for a National Health Program has also been ambivalent about the bill, saying Vermont’s law “is much more modest in its actual reach than a single-payer plan would be.” Richter, a past president of the organization, responded, “You have to think positive and continue to take action to try to get to next level and the next step. Some of the criticisms are over details that haven’t yet been worked out.”
Organized opposition to Vermont’s health reform was relatively muted in the last few months, and was mainly led by insurance agents. But advocates are bracing for an influx of national money and media. “There are definitely people who want to see this fail. We cannot let that happen,” said House Speaker Shap Smith. “We need to work together to show the way for the entire country.”
Shumlin’s early success on health care has caught the attention of. In April, Congressional Democrats asked Shumlin to appear opposite Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker before a Congressional committee. In a rebuke to Walker, Shumlin talked about his approach to Vermont’s fiscal challenges. “I don’t start with collective bargaining, and I don’t start with my public pensions. I start with the true costs. In Vermont—and this is true of most of the states of the country—health care is my biggest rising cost.”
On this muggy late-May day, Shumlin reveled in the success of his signature effort. He walked over to shake hands with a group of University of Vermont medical students, conspicuous in their white lab coats. Therese Ray, a first year medical student from Denver, told me that as a result of single payer, “I will absolutely stay in Vermont.” Another med student, Larry Bodden from New Orleans, said he grew up in an uninsured household. “My family had a deep seated fear of having to go to the doctor because we didn’t have insurance. I look forward to Vermonters not having that fear.”
Gov. Shumlin suddenly called for the several hundred people who had gathered to come closer as he signed the bill. “Everybody in,” he shouted.
“Nobody out!” came the reflexive reply, a call and response version of a slogan of the grassroots single-payer campaign. Shumlin chuckled, then made the single-payer bill the law of the Green Mountain State.
David Goodman is a contributing writer for Mother Jones and coauthor of Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders and the People Who Fight Back. For more of his stories, click here.
US & world Greens urge leaders at Cancun meeting on global warming to ‘reverse the failure of Copenhagen’Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
WASHINGTON, DC — Green Party leaders from the US have joined Green elected officials and leaders from countries throughout Latin America and Europe in Cancun, Mexico, to participate in the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 16) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (http://www.cc2010.mx/en/index.php).
Greens are calling on the [...]
Green Party Watch