Guerrilla Grafters Bring Forbidden Fruit Back To City Trees

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/04/07/150142001/guerrilla-grafters-bring-forbidden-fruit-back-to-city-trees

by Lonny Shavelson
April 7, 2012

Spring means cherry, pear and apple blossoms. But in many metropolitan areas, urban foresters ensure those flowering fruit trees don’t bear fruit to keep fallen fruit from being trampled into slippery sidewalk jelly.

But a group of fruit fans in the San Francisco Bay Area is secretly grafting fruit-bearing tree limbs onto those fruitless trees.

I visited the “crime scene” one recent day, but I can’t tell you where it is because I was with the “criminals.”

“If we say where it is, they could come after me,” says Tara Hui, a fruit tree grafter. She’s talking about city officials, who manage the trees and say it’s illegal to have fruit trees on sidewalks.

So let’s just say we’re in some Bay Area city in a working-class neighborhood, at a line of pear trees that bear no pears.

Hui and two assistants pull out a knife, reach into a plastic bag filled with twigs no bigger than your pinkie, and cut from a fruit bearing pear tree. She says it’s an Asian pear, and that she’s grafting it onto a flowering pear tree.

Continue reading at:  http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/04/07/150142001/guerrilla-grafters-bring-forbidden-fruit-back-to-city-trees

Obama and GOP Offer Two Visions of America: ‘We’re in It Together’ vs. ‘You’re on Your Own’

From Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/obama-and-gop-offer-two-visions-of-america-were-in-it-together-vs-youre-on-your-own-20120404

By Jared Bernstein
April 4, 2012

Rep. Paul Ryan did the world a favor by not trying to hide the ball with his budget—now adopted by House Republicans and endorsed by Gov. Romney.  Its vision for America is clear, a vision that we at CBPP have been laying out in recent days (see here, here, here, and here).

President Obama made a similar point yesterday in his speech:

“I can’t remember a time when the choice between two competing visions of our future has been so unambiguously clear.”

The two visions don’t even agree on the nature of the problem they’re out to solve.

According to Rep. Ryan’s plan, the trouble is this: The poor and middle class have too much and the rich have too little. And his budget solves this problem very effectively, by eviscerating government programs that benefit the non-rich and using the “savings,” mostly via tax cuts, to further enrich the wealthiest households.

The contrasting vision recognizes that the wealthiest households are doing great, while the poor and middle class are still struggling with high unemployment, stagnating incomes, insecure health coverage, and just the basic squeeze of trying to make ends meet, save for the future, help the kids get ahead, and so on.

And this vision sees government as having a role in correcting, at least in part, this imbalance. As Obama said in yesterday’s speech, citing a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, “Through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.”

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Must women “civilize” men?

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2012/04/03/must_women_civilize_men/

At the root of the conservative war on contraception is a deep-seated anxiety about the traditional family

By Joan Walsh
Tuesday, Apr 3, 2012

Liberals have documented the existence of a bitter Republican campaign against women’s health and freedom, but I don’t think we’ve identified its cause or its full intent. It may be hurting Republicans almost as much as it’s hurting women: New Gallup poll data released Monday found that Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 42 percent among registered voters in 12 swing states. Last month he trailed the Republican by 2 points. The change is due to a sharp shift among women: Obama now leads Romney among women under the age of 50 by 30 points; that lead was 5 points in February.

Some panicked Republicans insist crafty Democrats are the ones playing the culture wars, but we’ve debunked that: Democrats didn’t make the GOP presidential field back “personhood” laws that would criminalize some forms of birth control. They didn’t force the newly elected House GOP to make defunding Planned Parenthood their first legislative goal. And they didn’t propose the Blunt Amendment that would have allowed employers to withhold health insurance coverage not only for contraception, but for any treatment they disapproved of — or make every Republican senator vote for it, except the outgoing Olympia Snowe.

But why is this happening now, and not in, say, 2000 or 2008? I got my first hint of what conservatives are up to listening to Rick Santorum early in the presidential campaign. “When the family breaks down, the economy breaks down,” he says over and over, and he insists growing “dependency” on government plays a key role in the family’s decline. Mitt Romney goes a little lighter on the culture-war stuff, but Saturday in Wisconsin he too sounded the anti-government-dependency theme. “President Obama believes in a government-centered society,” Romney said. Not coincidentally, he also railed against Planned Parenthood, and once again promised to defund it.

Paul Ryan likewise attacks “dependency,” telling the American Enterprise Institute last week that America is at an “insidious moral tipping point, and I think the president is accelerating this.” Government support, Ryan insists, “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/04/03/must_women_civilize_men/

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Bye Bye Snow and Ice (and a Whole Lot More)

From Mother Jones:  http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/04/cryosphere-global-warming

By Julia Whitty
Fri Apr. 6, 2012

We’ve heard a lot about the  life-threatening challenges facing penguins and polar bears as snow and ice disappear. But what about all the other life of the cryosphere—the parts of Earth where water is in its solid state for at least one month of the year (map below)? From a new paper in Bioscience:

Global average air temperature has warmed by 1 Celsius (°C) over the past century, and in response, the cryosphere—the part of the Earth’s surface most influenced by ice and snow—is changing. Specifically, alpine glaciers are retreating, the expanse of Arctic sea ice has been shrinking, the thickness and duration of winter snowpacks are diminishing, permafrost has been melting, and the ice cover on lakes and rivers has been appearing later in the year and melting out earlier. Although these changes are relatively well documented, the ecological responses and long-term consequences that they initiate are not.

The paper describes impacts identified through decades-long ecological studies. The authors found two ecosystem-level responses—that is, responses rippling across various species and trophic levels—as a result of the disappearing cryosphere:

  1. Changes in foodwebs resulting from the loss of habitat and from the loss of species or the replacement of species (a.k.a. the big stuff we tend to notice and take photos of).
  2. Changes in the rates and mechanisms of biogeochemical storage and cycling of carbon and nutrients, caused by changes in physical forcings or ecological community functioning (a.k.a. the little stuff that’s hard to see but that underpins the big stuff in #1).

Continue reading at:  http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/04/cryosphere-global-warming

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ACT Up Members, Occupiers to Give Wall Street the Fi.S.T.

From The Edge: http://www.edgeonthenet.com/news/national/news//131695/act_up_members,_occupiers_to_give_wall_street_the_fist

by Winnie McCroy
Friday Apr 6, 2012

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have shut down the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park last November, but he did not manage to squelch the movement. Like spring blossoms; protestors have begun emerging from their winter solitude, determined once again to take to the streets in opposition of corporate greed and widespread inequality.

But this time, ACT Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) has teamed up with this passionate group of protestors for an April 25 action that will commemorate the organization’s 25th anniversary. Hundreds of protestors will march from City Hall to Wall Street to call upon local, state and federal legislators to “give Wall Street the Fi.S.T,” demanding a small financial speculation tax (comically labeled “Fi.S.T”) or “Robin Hood tax” on speculative trading by Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds. Activists say a portion of the revenue that this tax would raise could end the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“ACT Up has a long history of this, although we’ve never used the term ’occupy’ before,” said Jennifer Flynn, a longtime ACT Up member and managing director of the Health Global Access Project. “Our first action in 1987 was targeting Wall Street, and many other actions targeted the high price of pharmaceuticals. There is a deep understanding that the AIDS crisis became a pandemic because it was driven by corporate greed and the government inaction that this greed can buy.”

Flynn said that Occupy protesters are beginning to see the natural affinity between their groups, and are joining efforts to a common cause. Activists across the world have embraced the idea of a “Robin Hood tax,” a .003 to .5 percent charge on speculative tax transactions and derivatives that they say would raise an estimated $350 billion a year to fight HIV, homelessness, hunger and create jobs.

“The results of the HTPN [HIV Prevention Trials Network] 052 studies proved we could end the AIDS pandemic in 30 years if we drive up investment into treatment slightly,” said Flynn. “AIDS would look like polio; there would be a couple of thousand cases around world instead of 33 million people living with AIDS. We ask for about $1 billion dollars. And if we got $2 billion, we’d be on track, with $348 billion left over. But right now, it’s going into the pockets of the big banks and speculators who caused the financial crisis.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.edgeonthenet.com/news/national/news//131695/act_up_members,_occupiers_to_give_wall_street_the_fist

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Protecting Psychologists Who Harm: The APA’s Latest Wrong Turn

From Truth Out: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8296-protecting-psychologists-who-harm-the-apas-latest-wrong-turn

By Roy Eidelson
Saturday, 07 April 2012

Shortly after learning about the American Psychological Association’s (APA) late February announcement of its new Member-Initiated Task Force to Reconcile Policies Related to Psychologists’ Involvement in National Security Settings, I found my thoughts turning to the School of the Americas, Blackwater and perhaps even more surprisingly, the Patagonian toothfish. Those may seem like a strange threesome, but they share one important thing in common. All have undergone a thorough repackaging and renaming in a marketing effort aimed at obscuring – but not altering – some ugly truth.

The School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, became infamous for training Latin American soldiers who returned home and engaged in repressive campaigns involving rape, torture and murder of political dissidents. To combat its negative image, the school was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, but the nature of its activities remain largely unchanged. During the Iraq War, Blackwater, a private military company supported by hundreds of millions of dollars in US government contracts, gained international notoriety on many counts, including its use of excessive and often deadly force against Iraqi civilians. The company therefore renamed itself – twice – first as Xe Services and then again as Academi, with essentially the same core businesses. As for the Patagonian toothfish, it’s wrong to blame the fish itself. But in an effort to spur sales, merchants renamed it Chilean sea bass (for similar reasons, the slimehead fish is now known as orange roughy instead).

Sadly, the same repackaging and renaming strategy of illusion and deception characterizes the APA’s latest gambit to both protect and disguise the role of psychologists as purveyors of harm. But to fully understand this new ploy – a so-called “task force” to produce a comprehensive document of all APA ethics policies relevant to psychologists in national security settings – it’s helpful to first review some disturbing history.

There is incontrovertible evidence that in the years following the 9/11 attacks, psychologists served as planners, consultants, researchers and overseers to the abusive and torturous interrogations of prisoners in the US “global war on terror.” Multiple reports of wrongdoing emerged, such as one from the International Committee of the Red Cross describing psychological coercion techniques at Guantanamo Bay as “tantamount to torture.” APA members and others responded with outrage and clamor. It was immediately clear that the world’s largest psychological association needed to engage in a careful and transparent examination of whether professional ethics allow psychologists to serve in aggressive operational roles, such as detention and interrogation activities involving national security detainees. Tragically, however, APA’s leadership decided to take a very different path. They chose to rubberstamp the status quo without any meaningful deliberation whatsoever.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8296-protecting-psychologists-who-harm-the-apas-latest-wrong-turn

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Cut & Furious: Spain 25% jobless to be sacrificed for euro?

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