Why Seafood Guides Alone Can’t Save the Troubled Seas

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/05/seafood-guides-callum-roberts

By Tom Philpott
Wed May. 16, 2012

Over on The Daily Beast, the marine biologist Callum Roberts has a good essay (excerpted from his new book) on a topic that doesn’t get nearly enough attention: the declining state of the oceans.

According to Roberts, “with an ever-accelerating tide of human impact, the oceans have changed more in the last 30 years than in all of human history before.” Today, he adds, “in most places, the seas have lost upwards of 75 percent of their megafauna—large animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks, rays, and turtles—as fishing and hunting spread in waves across the face of the planet.”

Roberts touches on the familiar villain of overfishing and gives the standard (and relevant) advice that consumers should strive to “eat low in the food web, so favor smaller fish like anchovies, herring, and sardines over big predators like Chilean sea bass, swordfish, and large tunas (you will be doing yourself a favor, as these predators also concentrate more toxins).”

But he makes an even more important point that I fear often gets lost amid the fishery labels and the “avoid” and “recommended” lists (as important as those things are): The oceans represent contain highly complex ecosystems that are intimately related to their terrestrial counterparts in ways that transcend fishing trends. Overfishing is “only one small piece in a much larger puzzle of interacting impacts,” Roberts writes. To put it in another way, consumer choices about which sea creatures to devour and which to shun, while important, only exert so much influence over the fate of the oceans.

In ecosystem terms, there’s no clean line between “land” and “ocean.” The two are intertwined; foul one and you foul the other. It turns out the human addiction to fossil fuel may be even more devastating to the seas than our appetite for big top-feeding fish like tuna, or our insane habit of hoovering up of “forage” fish like sardines as feed for industrial salmon farms. Roberts connects land-based fossil fuel use to the the ruin of oceanic habitats.

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/05/seafood-guides-callum-roberts

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Where Are the Missing 5 Million Workers?

From The Nation:   http://www.thenation.com/blog/167951/were-are-missing-five-million-workers

Laura Flanders
May 17, 2012

“Where have all the workers gone?” David Wessel of the Wall Street Journal wondered about the labor force this week:

In the past two years, the number of people in the U.S. who are older than 16 (and not in the military or prison) has grown by 5.4 million. The number of people working or looking for work hasn’t grown at all.

So, where have all the workers gone? Have they retired, suspended their labors temporarily or are they languishing on public assistance? asks Wessel.

There are some other possibilities. Since the crash of 2008, there’s no question that millions of Americans have indeed stopped looking for a job. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not working. Look around, it’s much more likely that the officially “unemployed” are busy, doing their best to make ends meet in whatever ways they can. Sex work, drugs and crime spring to mind, but the underground or “shadow” economy includes all sorts of off-the-books toil. From baby-sitting, bartering, mending, kitchen-garden farming and selling goods in a yard sale, all sorts of people—from the tamale seller on your corner, to the dancer who teachers yoga—are all contributing to the underground economy along with the “employed” who pay them for their wares.

The “underground” is always with us. For better and often for worse, it’s how marginalized populations tend to survive—often not very well. (Think of the old, the young, the formerly incarcerated or foreign.) In recessions—surprise, surprise—“irregular” employment grows. Consider recent stories from Greece about wageless public “workers” swapping skills and trading food for teaching. Austrian economist, Friedrich Schneider, an expert in underground economies, has documented a surge in shadow economy activity in 2009 and 2010 in Europe. University of Wisconsin–Madison economist Edgar Feige has been doing his best to follow what’s happened here.

Tracking the gap between reported and unreported income in the United States since 1940, Feige finds:

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/167951/were-are-missing-five-million-workers

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Chicago cops start preemptive arrests before NATO Summit?

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Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/18/anti-intellectualism-us-book-banning

The rise in academic book bannings and firings is compounded by the US’s growing disregard for scholarship itself


guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 May 2012

Recently, I found out that my work is mentioned in a book that has been banned, in effect, from the schools in Tucson, Arizona. The anti-ethnic studies law passed by the state prohibits teachings that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” and/or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” I invite you to read the book in question, titled Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, so that you can decide for yourselves whether it qualifies.

In fact, I invite you to take on as your summer reading the astonishingly lengthy list of books that have been removed from the Tucson public school system as part of this wholesale elimination of the Mexican-American studies curriculum. The authors and editors include Isabel Allende, Junot Díaz, Jonathan Kozol, Rudolfo Anaya, bell hooks, Sandra Cisneros, James Baldwin, Howard Zinn, Rodolfo Acuña, Ronald Takaki, Jerome Skolnick and Gloria Anzaldúa. Even Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience and Shakespeare’s The Tempest received the hatchet.

Trying to explain what was offensive enough to warrant killing the entire curriculum and firing its director, Tucson school board member Michael Hicks stated rather proudly that he was not actually familiar with the curriculum. “I chose not to go to any of their classes,” he told Al Madrigal on The Daily Show. “Why even go?” In the same interview, he referred to Rosa Parks as “Rosa Clark.”

The situation in Arizona is not an isolated phenomenon. There has been an unfortunate uptick in academic book bannings and firings, made worse by a nationwide disparagement of teachers, teachers’ unions and scholarship itself. Brooke Harris, a teacher at Michigan’s Pontiac Academy for Excellence, was summarily fired after asking permission to let her students conduct a fundraiser for Trayvon Martin’s family. Working at a charter school, Harris was an at-will employee, and so the superintendent needed little justification for sacking her. According to Harris, “I was told… that I’m being paid to teach, not to be an activist.” (It is perhaps not accidental that Harris worked in the schools of Pontiac, a city in which nearly every public institution has been taken over by cost-cutting executives working under “emergency manager” contracts. There the value of education is measured in purely econometric terms, reduced to a “product,” calculated in “opportunity costs.”)

The law has taken some startling turns as well. In 2010 the sixth circuit upheld the firing of high school teacher Shelley Evans-Marshall when parents complained about an assignment in which she had asked her students in an upper-level language arts class to look at the American Library Association’s list of “100 most frequently challenged Books” and write an essay about censorship. The complaint against her centered on three specific texts: Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. (She was also alleged, years earlier, to have shown students a PG-13 version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/18/anti-intellectualism-us-book-banning

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Chicago police gear up for clashes with NATO protesters

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Ex-priest guilty of conspiring to kill boy who accused him of rape

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/18/ex-priest-guilty-of-conspiring-to-kill-boy-who-accused-him-of-rape/

By David Edwards
Friday, May 18, 2012

A former Roman Catholic priest was found guilty on Thursday of hiring a hit man to kill a boy who had accused him of sexual abuse.

John Fiala, 53, showed no emotion as a Dallas jury found him guilty of plotting to kill the boy, according to The Dallas Morning News. He faces a possible sentence of life in prison.

Prosecutors said that Fiala had tried to hire at hit man for $5,000 in November 2010, but the would-be assassin turned out to be an undercover police officer. Video and audio of the meeting were presented to the jury on Wednesday.

The former priest had claimed that he only hired the hit man because he feared for his own life.

“John Fiala is not a puppet,” prosecutor Brandon Birmingham told the jury. “He is a puppeteer.”

Tom Rhodes, an attorney for the accuser, in 2008 said that Fiala had been “grooming” the boy by buying him gifts like a computer and a car. By providing private catechism lessons, the attorney added, the then-priest “gained access to him and began to sexually abuse him once or twice a month, including on church grounds.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/18/ex-priest-guilty-of-conspiring-to-kill-boy-who-accused-him-of-rape/

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