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Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Cancers Today From Radiation Releases by US Gov’t in 1950’s?

The following is a partial repost of an article to be found in Robert Parry’s Consortiumnews.com web site.  This is an excellent site to read investigative jouralism.  The article was written by John LaForge who works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin.  He also edits its Quarterly newsletter, and is syndicated through PeaceVoice.

Reaping the Seeds of Nuke Tests

March 28, 2013

The warnings about fallout from nuclear tests six decades ago often noted that cancers from the radiation would probably not begin appearing in large numbers for many years. But that time is now – and medical experts are wondering whether the surge in some cancers is a result, writes John LaForge.

By John LaForge

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the Atomic Energy Commission doused the entire United States with thyroid cancer-causing iodine-131 — and 300 other radioisotopes — by exploding atomic and hydrogen bombs above ground. To protect the dirty, secretive, militarized bomb-building industry, the government chose to warn the photographic film industry about the radioactive fallout patterns, but not the general public.

In 1951, the Eastman Kodak Company had threatened a federal lawsuit over the nuclear fallout that was fogging its bulk film shipments. Film was not packed in bubble wrap then, but in corn stalks that were sometimes being fallout-contaminated.

During nuclear bomb drills in the 1950s, school children were ordered to hide under their desks.

By agreeing to warn Kodak, etc., the AEC and the bomb program avoided the public uproar — and the bomb testing program’s possible cancellation — that a lawsuit would have precipitated. The settlement kept the deadliness of the fallout hidden from farmers and the public, even though the government well knew that fallout endangered all the people it was supposed to be defending.

This staggering revelation was heralded on Sept. 30, 1997, in the New York Times headline, “U.S. Warned Film Plants, Not Public, About Nuclear Fallout.” The article began, “[W]hile the Government reassured the public that there was no health threat from atmospheric nuclear tests…” The fallout’s radioactive iodine-131 delivered thyroid doses to virtually all 160 million people in the U.S. at the time.  Continue reading here: http://consortiumnews.com/2013/03/28/reaping-the-seeds-of-nuke-tests/

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A Brief Conversation on Salvation and Ecology

Premise:  Until Christianity (and other major religions) views salvation as more than a personal journey the Earth and all future generations will be condemned by those who ignore or contribute to environmental degradation.  From almost any spiritual perspective, the Earth is sacred, yet how we treat it is profane.  In my view, the outcome of personal salvation is death, both spiritually and literally, if a person does not atone for environmental sins and alter their relationship to the Earth.  All the major religions of the world should be rushing towards achieving a sustainable relationship with nature.

The following is a brief twitter exchange between this author and “C” a Christian for whom Jesus is Central to his life.  We can’t be afraid to talk about religion and the environment regardless of our personal beliefs or religious affiliations. The fate of the planet may depend our ability to communicate across religious and cultural boundaries.  Start here.  Share your thoughts and ideas then start a conversation on your own blog.  Time is of the essence.

Church floated off with the flooding, Katrina Storm Damage in My Photos by Voice For Relief

C: Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice! Phil 4:4

B: God created the Earth, pronounced it good, so we should rejoice in the Earth from which we’re made also. What do you think?

C: If by rejoice in the earth you mean to thank God for His gifts and to cherish them and use them responsibly, then yes, I agree

B: We attend to our relationship to God and each other but ignore our relationship to the rest of creation. Doesn’t seem right. God so loved his creation, even before man, that he proclaimed it good, but Christians today seem so estranged from the Earth. If you love God and your neighbors yet poison the stream behind your house how can you expect to be welcomed into heaven?

C: Well, our welcome into heaven depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ, but I hear what you are saying

B:  Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, they are the same, they are the One, right?  We don’t have separate relationships with each.  I just don’t see how someone can harm the Earth yet be right with God. Why isn’t this a bigger part of salvation theology?  Is degrading the environment a sin? If so, where is our atonement? If not then does God not care about his creation?  In short, why aren’t Christians leading the environmental movement? I don’t understand.

C: It does not matter if it is a sin or not. We will not be judged on the basis of our sin or relative righteousness…. Jesus died on the cross to reconcile sinful Man to a Holy and Just God. If being sinless was our responsibility to salvation, then we would all die separate from God.  The question is then, what will you do with Jesus?

B:  Accept Jesus and He saves you from sin and separation. But don’t we have to change our ways? Can’t keep sinning, right?  If salvation through Jesus means turning away from sin, we still have to know what is unacceptable to God. We have choices.  Therefore it does matter if degrading the environment is a sin. I tend to take this question literally via Matthew 7:16.

B: From a Biblical perspective the catastrophic impacts of climate change is the wrath of God for ignoring or abusing his creation.

[Day 2]

C:  God judges based only on our relationship with Jesus, not sin, not environmental responsibility, just Jesus

B:  Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit all being one makes your statement confusing.

C:  One God, but 3 distinct and eternally separate persons, and yes, it is confusing to our limited minds

B:  True, but the particle wave nature of light provides at least some analogy for understanding the trinity.  How might God judge if you accepted Jesus in your heart on Sunday and dumped toxins into the river on Monday? We must change!

C:  Read Phil 3:3-8. Our righteousness is rubbish (“dung” in the KJV) in the eyes of God. It is not what we do, but what He has done.

B:  Three lines later verse12: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own…”

B:  My larger point is that what Christian’s do or fail to do in this world after they are saved matters in the final judgment. You can’t affirm life in the hereafter if you are not life affirming here and now. The Christian communities should be on the front lines of environmental protection. If we condemn all life on Earth we are ourselves condemned, here and in the hereafter. This is an urgent spiritual matter.

Permanent Inequality Rising Over Past Two Decades

A Spring 2013 BPEA paper by Vasia Panousi, Ivan Vidangos, Shanti Ramnath, Jason DeBacker and Bradley Heim

http://www.brookings.edu/about/projects/bpea/latest-conference/2013-spring-permanent-inequality-panousi

Disadvantaged Becoming Worse Off Long-term; Tax System Has Helped But Not Significantly

Income inequality in the US has increased in recent decades, and this increase is of a permanent nature, according to a new paper presented today at the Spring 2013 Conference on the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (BPEA).

In “Rising Inequality: Transitory or Permanent: New Evidence from a Panel of U.S. Tax Returns” …  [the authors] use new data to closely examine inequality, finding an increase in “permanent inequality” — the advantaged becoming permanently better-off, while the disadvantaged becoming permanently worse-off. The paper has important public policy implications because rising income inequality will lead to greater disparity in families’ well-being that is unlikely to reverse, whereas “transitory inequality” or year-to-year income variability would imply greater income mobility—those who fare worse today might be able to do better in later years. The authors are among the first to examine various measures of income in great detail, including earnings from work activities as well as broader measures of family resources such as total household income. [SNIP]

Looking at the impact of tax policy on inequality, the paper finds that although the U.S. federal tax system is indeed progressive in that it has provided some help in mitigating the increase in income inequality over the sample period, it has, however, not significantly altered the broadly increasing inequality trend. All told, the results suggest that rising income inequality will likely lead to greater disparity in families’ well-being and reduce social welfare in the long-run.

 

Rising Inequality: Transitory or Permanent?

New Evidence from a Panel of U.S. Tax Returns

http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Projects/BPEA/Spring%202013/2013a_panousi.pdf

Abstract

We use a new, large, and confidential panel of tax returns to study the permanent versus-transitory nature of rising inequality in individual male labor earnings and in total household income, both before and after taxes, in the United States over the period 1987-2009. We conduct our analysis using a wide array of statistical decomposition methods that allow for various flexible ways of characterizing permanent and transitory income components. For male labor earnings, we find that the entire increase in the cross-sectional inequality over our sample period was permanent, that is, it reflected increases in the dispersion of the permanent component of earnings. For total household income, the large increase in inequality over our sample period was predominantly, though not entirely, permanent. For this broader income category, both the permanent and the transitory parts of the cross-sectional variance increased, but the permanent variance contributed the bulk of the increase in the total. Furthermore, the increase in the transitory component reflected an increase in the transitory variance of spousal labor earnings and investment income. We also show that the tax system partially mitigated the increase in income inequality, but not sufficiently to alter its broadly increasing trend over the 1987-2009 period.

The Nap

P a s s i n g . . .
Listless silence
Thoughts so far removed that
Dreams can never reach them
Just residue, a fragrance
Clinging to darkness
A distant spark!
Panic ignited streaks flash madly through slumber
Chaos seeking order
More flashes! Movements!
Time emerging from boundless nowhere
Senses stir, grasp for comfort, groping for patterns,
Feelings seek meaning
Cognition prickles open like pins and needles
Echoes fall down distant chambers
Confusion bursts on the din of all thing scrambling to their places
Nebulous conscious condensing
SNAP!!!
Warming
being… BEing…  Now
Synapses flooding again
Waking, eyelids flutter searching for the clock
 7:31
Why is it so dark out?

Some Minor Edits to The Declaration of Independence

[Please note, paragraphs one and two of the Declaration of Independence have been modified to read as follows]:

When in the Course of human Commerce, it becomes necessary for Businesses to dissolve the political bands which have connected Owners with national geography, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and a Free Market economy entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of international Competitors requires that we declare the causes which impel us to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, That all men are created for Commerce, that Corporations are endowed by their Creators with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Perpetuity, Market Liberty and the pursuit of Profits.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of Corporations, –That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of Commercial Interests, it is the right of business Owners to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to preserve and expand Market Shares. Etc, etc…

Thank you for your gracious consent to these changes.

Principles Involved in Keystone XL Pipeline Decision

The following is an exchange between Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and me regarding the Keystone pipeline.  Below is my response to his initial constituent letter (further below).  I don’t know if this is of interest or value to readers of this blog, but  I encourage everyone to be vigilant and vocal regarding this issue in the comming months.  Thank you.

Dear Senator Menendez,

I thank you and your staff for getting back to me regarding my concerns about the Keystone XL pipeline.  I needed to respond to what I read as an equivocal response to my concerns.

In general, the choices we make are good to the extent that they improve our future options and support the imperatives of life.  Jobs today in exchange for environmental degradation lasting over a millennium is a Faustian bargain. Developing the Canadian tar sands is a bad, short term profit driven idea. The energy the planet will derive is minimal while the harm it will cause is measurable and will degrade life for generations to come.

But that decision is not in our nations hands. The only issue for us is how to minimize the environmental impact of transporting tar sands through the US.  In this regard, a “black swan” analysis is the best measure in my view.  Given enough time, our worst case scenarios always under estimate the actual impact of worst case events.

Therefore, any transportation options that would limit the volume of future releases of tar sands into the environment and confine spills to our Earth’ surface are far preferable to the pipe line where far greater volumes of subterranean releases are possible.  I ask you and your staff to keep this in mind when evaluating the final environmental impact study and in considering how you ultimately decide.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this message.

Brian Lynch

Here is Senator Menendez’ original response to my concerns:

Dear Mr. Lynch:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about the proposed Canadian tar sands oil pipeline.  Your opinion is very important to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to you on this critical issue.

I share your concerns about the environmental impact of tar sands and of the Keystone XL pipeline.  That is why I joined several of my colleagues in sending a letter to the State Department requesting answers to a number of questions about the Draft Environmental Impact Statement the State Department had produced for the pipeline proposal.  The letter raised concerns about the environmental degradation caused by oil extraction, greenhouse gas emissions, and the risks associated with transporting oil through the United States.  My concerns led me to vote against a proposal to circumvent the permitting process and build the pipeline without proper review.  However, I have also heard from proponents of the pipeline who have emphasized the jobs that will be created by the project, as well as its possible energy security benefits.

As you know, the Obama Administration has delayed a decision on the pipeline pending a review of alternate routes.  On March 1st, the State Department issued a draft environmental review of the Keystone XL project that evaluated other methods of transporting the oil, such as trucks, barges and two train options.  The report determined that all options would carry environmental risk, and that the train options would actually release more greenhouse gases than the proposed pipeline.  The State Department’s report concludes that “(a)pproval or denial of the proposed project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands.”  Following this draft report, there will be a 45-day comment period, followed by a final environmental report and a recommendation from the Secretary of State as to whether the Keystone pipeline is in the national interest.

Ensuring that we are making smart choices about our nation’s energy future and protecting the health and safety of Americans are two of my top priorities.  Please rest assured that, in my position as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will keep your views in mind as I closely monitor this ongoing situation.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of more assistance.  I invite you to visit my website (http://menendez.senate.gov) to learn more about how I am standing up for New Jersey families in the United States Senate.

Ideological Barriers to High School Graduation For Every Child

Thanks to the efforts  of the US Department of Education, high school graduation rates can be compared across state lines for the first time.  The results of the 2010-11 Four-Year Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rates report is revealing and a bit disturbing.  The top high school graduation rate was in Iowa where 88% of all students graduated .  The lowest was in Nevada where just 61% graduated.  (What’s happening there?)  The median of state averages for graduation rates was just 80%.

The nations high school graduation rates are disappointing, but when you break down the numbers they become truly disturbing. In almost every state, White children had the highest graduation rates.  In most states the graduation rates for African American and Native American students fell  10 to 20 points below White students.  A similar gap can be seen between White students and those who are economically disadvantaged.  The largest race based gap was in Minnesota where 84% of White students graduate verses only 49% of Black students.  That’s a 35 percentage point gap.  The other states with large race based graduation gaps include Nevada (28 pts.), Wisconsin (27 pts.) and Ohio (26 pts.).  These are not the states we tend to think of when we talk about the racial divide.

But the biggest and most disturbing graduation gaps are not along racial, ethnic or even economic lines.  They occur in two unexpected categories, children with disabilities and children for whom English is their second language.

In Mississippi and Nevada only 23% of disabled students graduated high school.  These are children who, through no fault of their own, require every advantage they can get if they are to lead happy, productive lives.  In Nevada the graduation gap between students with disabilities and White students was 48 percentage points. Mississippi  did a much better job then Nevada overal  .  White students graduated at a respectable rate of 82%.  The graduation gap for Mississippi’s disabled children, however, was 59 points lower.  Contrast that with Arkansas where there was only a 9 point gap, or with South Dakota where there was just a 2 point difference between White students and disabled students.   What is possible for disabled children in South Dakota should be possible in every state.  Over all, the graduation gap between abled and disabled students is greater than ethnic, racial or economic factors.  The biggest gaps were mostly in the South, but almost every state needs to do a better job.

The second disturbing category is the graduation gaps for immigrant children whose first language is not English.  While states such as West Virginia, Maine, South Dakota and Arkansas were able to graduate English-language learners on par with White students, most other states were less successful.  The graduation gaps in Georgia (44 pts.), Nevada, Alabama (both 42 pts.) and New York (40 pts.) were among the biggest.  But it is Arizona, by far, that had the largest gap in the graduation rates between White students (85%)  and those who needed to learn English (23%).   This was a 60 percentage point drop in graduation rates for English-language learners in Arizona, and the reason for this poor performance has a lot to do with ideological politics.  Voters in Arizona  eliminated bilingual education in a 2000 ballot measure.  Proposition 203 was a popular backlash against bilingual education in favor of a more nationalistic “English for the Children Philosophy”.  Bilingual education was viewed as a politically correct relic of our liberal past.

It is unconscionable to hold children in the cross-fire of America’s ideological wars.  Children are a special class of citizens who rightfully have special protections and certain undeniable rights, including the right to equal educational opportunities.  To set different standards based on race, religion, disabilities or place of origin is unacceptable.  To  eliminate educational opportunities or to choose educational programs based on politics over empirical practice is malfeasance.  It harms children and ultimately harms our society.  There is no excuse for not duplicating the success many other state already have in educating children of color, children with disabilities and children who speak another language.  State sovereignty be damned.  Children everywhere are every citizens concern.  We must do all we can to remove politics from public schooling and press the case for competent practices that gives every child a fair shot at success. High School Graduation for every child should be our national goal.

 

(Below are excerpts from an article detailing the struggle to improve educational outcome for English-language learning students in Arizona.)

Bilingual Education vs. English Immersion

http://cqresearcherblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/bilingual-education-vs-english.html

Excerpts:

… Spanish-speaking [families in] Nogales [Arizona]… in 1992 [filed] a federal suit aimed at improving educational opportunities for non-English-speaking students in the overwhelmingly Hispanic town. The class action suit claimed the school district was failing to comply with a federal law – the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974 – which requires each state to take “appropriate action” to ensure that English-language learners (ELLs) enjoy “equal participation in its instructional programs.”

… The plaintiffs won a pivotal decision in 2001 requiring Arizona to boost funding for English-language learning in Nogales and the rest of the state. In a narrowly divided decision in June, however, the Supreme Court gave state officials an opportunity to set aside the lower court ruling.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said the federal district judge had failed to adequately consider changed circumstances since 2001. Among other changes, Alito cited the state’s decision to drop bilingual education in favor of so-called “sheltered English immersion” as the officially prescribed method of instruction for students with limited English proficiency.

Arizona’s voters had decisively rejected bilingual education in a 2000 ballot measure. Along with similar measures passed in California in 1998 and Massachusetts in 2002, Arizona’s Proposition 203 embodied a popular backlash against bilingual education that had grown since the 1980s. Critics of bilingual teaching viewed it as a politically correct relic of the 1960s and ‘70s that had proven academically ineffective and politically divisive. [snip]

… The debate between English-only instruction and bilingual education has been fierce for decades. “People get very hot under the collar,” says Christine Rossell, a professor of political science at Boston University and critic of bilingual education. [snip]

… Those who support a bilingual approach, says Arizona Superintendent of Instruction Thomas Horne, “aren’t interested in teaching the kids English,” but want to maintain “a separatist nationalism that they can take advantage of.” Horne, a Republican, intervened with the state’s GOP legislative leaders to try to undo the federal court injunction. [Snip]

… “It’s a growing challenge,” says Patte Barth, director of the Center for Public Education at the National School Boards Association (NSBA). “We have many more children coming into our schools for whom their first language is not English…  Voluminous, statistics-heavy studies are cited by opposing advocacy groups as evidence to support their respective positions on the bilingual versus English-only debate. But Barth says language politics, not research, often determines school districts’ choice of instructional method. “A lot of it is political,” she says. “A lot of decisions about language instruction aren’t really informed by the research about what works for children.”