There is no denying the fact that a strong performance by the Parks & Resorts and movie businesses have acted as catalysts for The Walt Disney Company (DIS).
How would our next president deal with major environmental challenges? To that end, there are a number of key questions that need to be posed to the candidates of both parties on the campaign trail. Who is going to ask these politically sensitive questions? Hopefully the media will step forward, although they have yet to display much inclination to do so in any significant way. Perhaps some plucky member of the audience in a town hall meeting will compel the candidates to go on the record in public. What questions are we talking about? Let's start with climate change. Fifteen of the last 16 years have been the warmest on record, giving credence to climate change concerns. If elected, what actions if any would your administration take to counter this trend? How would you follow up on President Obama's Paris climate Summit commitment and his carbon reduction arrangement with China? What if any initiative would your administration take to mitigate the rising sea levels that are already plaguing coastal communities, especially along the Atlantic seaboard? Is there anything you would do to speed the transition from the nation's fossil fuel dependency to a clean, renewable energy-based economy? Would you consider a revenue neutral tax on carbon emissions, considering that the idea has been endorsed by prominent economists at both ends of the ideological spectrum? Given fracking's suspected link to ground water contamination and earthquakes, should a government investigation of the oil shale extraction process continue? Climate change is not the only topic that needs clarification in the presidential race. What actions would you take to curb environmental discrimination against low income Americans? (Reference could be made to the scandalous lead contamination of the water supply of Flint, Michigan, an economically depressed, minority-dominated community.) Should the Endangered Species Act be strengthened, weakened, or left as is? (Foes of the law complain that environmentalists are using it to block commercial development.) What changes if any would you make in the operations of the Environmental Protection Agency? What is your position on ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty that governs nations' activities in international waters? (Ratification has been supported by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, but approval has been stymied by a bloc of Republican senators over the years.) Some questions about public lands are in order. Should the protesters illegally occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law? What is your take on their demands that the Constitution requires national wildlife refuges and other federal lands to be turned over to local control? Would you consider adding to the national park system and other public conservation-oriented lands? At the very least, eliciting answers from the candidates on these issues should reduce the chances of unpleasant post-election surprises. Americans are entitled to know where their president truly stands before receiving their votes much less taking the oath of office. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
The Republican presidential primaries are laying a political environmental minefield for the eventual nominee. Would-be White House occupants feel compelled to ingratiate themselves with the relatively thin, ultra-conservative sliver of the American public that represents the swing vote in the Republican primary contests. Whoever ends up as the GOP nominee will then be left to defend environmental positions that may resonate with the party's ultra-conservative base but not the general electorate. One assertion common to all the Republican primary participants that should come back to haunt the ultimate nominee is criticism of President Obama for labeling climate change a greater threat than terrorism. It is a distortion that a majority of voters are likely to hold against the GOP ticket. President Obama has not downplayed the dangers of international terrorism. He simply differentiated it from climate change in terms of a time continuum. Terrorism poses an immediate threat; unchecked climate change has long term ramifications with graver, more far reaching global consequences. In any case, Obama advocates that we be fully engaged to meet both challenges, leaving the Republican nominee to justify his party's hyperbole. Furthermore, it is a president's job is to anticipate future threats as well as deal with current ones. If the scientific consensus is correct that climate change has already increased the intensity of extreme weather events, then such disturbances have already claimed more lives than acts of terror. Also echoed by candidates throughout the GOP primaries has been a skeptical view of climate change's dangers. It is a view that the latest polls indicate is in conflict with that of the majority of Americans (and prospective voters). Another unpopular stance that the primaries' scrum will bequeath to the nominee is empathy for transferring national wildlife refuges and other federally owned conservation-oriented lands to the states, or better yet, private interests. This anti-big government fervor for property transfer is not shared by an overwhelming majority of Americans. That is true even in the western United States where most of the federally-owned land is located. Grassroots opposition into the land transfers is based on the untenable fiscal burden that the various states would assume, as well as on fear of reduced access to and excessive commercial use of conservation-oriented public lands. The Republican stance, however, has earned the support of anarchists, insurrection-minded militants, and other extremists, not a vote-getting inducement for the party's nominee. Denouncing regulations to protect the health of human beings and their surroundings as excessive and detrimental to the economy has been common GOP primary campaign rhetoric. But the nominee will have to answer to the many voters who differentiate between red tape that stifles businesses and regulations that reduce health risks. The eventual Republican choice for president will undoubtedly dial back some of the primaries' most controversial environmental positions in a bid to win support outside of the party base. Yet it is a no-win proposition. Many of the party faithful will fear the candidate's retreat is really genuine, and many non-committed voters will suspect it isn't. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Правительство Японии готово всячески способствовать тому, чтобы на месте американской базы Футэмма в городе Гинован на Окинаве был построен парк аттракционов и развлечений, подобный Диснейленду, сообщил генеральный секретарь кабинета министров Есихидэ Суга. «Мы получили предложение от администрации города (о создании на месте базы Футэмма парка аттракционов и развлечений Диснея) и со стороны правительства хотим оказать помощь, какую мы только можем», - приводит его слова РИА «Новости». Накануне генеральный секретарь встречался с мэром города Ацуси Сакимой и получил предложение от городских властей устроить на месте, где сейчас располагается авиабаза ВМС США, развлекательный парк после того, как база будет перенесена в другое место. Во время встречи Суга заявил о поддержке правительством этого начинания и даже познакомил Сакиму с руководством компании Oriental Land Co. Ltd., которая по лицензии от Disney Company управляет токийским Диснейлендом и соседним парком Tokyo Disney Sea. Живое участие правительства в создании центра развлекательной индустрии неслучайно. Согласно существующим день планам, база должна быть закрыта к февралю 2019 года. Для этого ее необходимо перенести в другое место. По замыслу правительства и прежней администрации префектуры Окинава, ее должны перенести в район Хэноко в городе Наго в той же префектуре. Для переноса базы в Хэноко необходимо засыпать около 157 гектаров прибрежной морской полосы. Местное население выступает против, так как это нанесет непоправимый ущерб коралловым рифам. Избранный год назад губернатором Окинавы Такэси Онага также выступил против переноса базы в пределах той же префектуры и отозвал прежние разрешения. В результате центральные власти и государство попытаются разрешить конфликт в суде, что неизбежно затянет процесс переноса базы. Поддержка правительством проекта создания Диснейленда или подобного ему парка аттракционов на месте базы может поколебать сопротивление жителей Окинавы ее переносу. Закладки:
The UN has confirmed that the chemical used in Damascus last month was sarin – a lethal poison with no taste, no smell and no colour. Which makes it one of the most murderous weapons in modern warfareNow we know. On the morning of 21 August, as the air above Damascus cooled, rockets filled with the nerve agent sarin fell on rebel-held suburbs of the Syrian capital and left scores of men, women and children dead or injured. UN inspectors had been in the country for three days, on a mission to investigate allegations of earlier atrocities. They quickly changed tack. They brokered a temporary ceasefire with the regime and the rebels and made straight for Ghouta. Video reports from the area showed hospital staff overwhelmed and desperate.Never before had UN inspectors worked under such pressure and in the midst of a war zone. The small team, headed by the Swedish chemical weapons expert Åke Sellström, was threatened with harm. Their convoy was shot at. But their 41-page report was completed in record time.Sarin was that breed of accident that scientists come to regret. Its inventors worked on insecticides made from organophosphate compounds at the notorious IG Farben chemical company in Nazi Germany. In 1938, they hit on substance 146, a formula that caused massive disruption to the nervous system. The chemical name was isopropyl methylfluorophosphate, but the company renamed it sarin to honour the chemists behind the discovery – Schrader, Ambros, Ritter and Van der Linde – according to Benjamin Garrett's 2009 book The A to Z of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare. The chemical they created had the grim distinction of being many times more lethal than cyanide.Substance 146 is not hard to make, but it is hard to make without killing yourself. There are more than a dozen recipes that lead to sarin, but all require technical knowhow, proper lab equipment and a serious regard for safety procedures. One major component is isopropanol, more commonly known as rubbing alcohol. Another is made by mixing methylphosphonyl dichloride with hydrogen or sodium fluoride. But methylphosphonyl dichloride is not easy to come by. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention it is listed as a schedule 1 substance, making it one of the most restricted chemicals in existence.Last year, the US and other countries stepped up efforts to block sales to Syria of chemicals that might be used to make sarin. But the country had already amassed substantial stocks of the precursors needed to make the agent. This month, it emerged that Britain had approved export licences to Syria for the sale of more than four tonnes of sodium fluoride between 2004 and 2010, though business secretary Vince Cable said there was no evidence they had been used in the Syrian weapons programme. The exports came on top of sales approved last year for sodium and potassium fluoride under licences that were later revoked on the grounds that they could be used in the manufacture of weapons.Though referred to as a nerve gas, sarin is a liquid at temperatures below 150C. To maximise its potential as a weapon, the substance is usually dispersed from a canister, rocket or missile in a cloud of droplets that are fine enough to be inhaled into the lungs. Inevitably, some evaporates into gas, much as spilt water turns into vapour. The chemical enters the body through the eyes and skin too. Sarin has no smell or taste and is colourless, so the first people may know of its use is when victims start to fall.Sarin takes such a dreadful toll on the body by interfering with a specific but crucial aspect of the nervous system. It blocks an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, with devastating consequences. Nerves that usually switch on and off to control muscle movements can no longer be switched off. Instead, they fire constantly. There are mild effects: the eyes become irritated, the vision blurred; people's pupils shrink, they drool and vomit. Then there are the lethal effects. Breathing becomes laboured, shallow, erratic. Unable to control their muscles, victims have convulsions. The lungs secrete fluids and when people try to breathe, foam comes from their mouths, often tinged pink with blood. A lethal dose can be as small as a drop and can kill in one to 10 minutes. If people survive the first 20 minutes of a sarin attack, they are likely to live.Soon after sarin was invented, the recipe for the agent was passed to the German army, which set about manufacturing stocks of the weapon. The agent was loaded into shells, but never used on Allied forces in the second world war. At Nuremberg in 1948, one of the inventors, Otto Ambros, was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to eight years in prison. He was released after four years, and whisked off to the US where he worked as a consultant on that country's own chemical weapons programme. In military circles, sarin came to be known by a secret name: GB.A unique document from 1952, one year after Ambros arrived in the US, describes the gruesome effects of sarin poisoning after an unfortunate military accident. On the morning of 7 November 1952, a jet aircraft sped towards Dugway Proving Ground in Tooele, Utah. The sky was clear and the wind was a gentle breeze of 3-4mph. Each of the plane's wing tanks were filled with 100 gallons of sarin.The plan was for the plane to spray the sarin over a target site, but because of a malfunction, each tank still contained 90 gallons of sarin when they were jettisoned in an isolated area of the site at 8.29am. The tanks fell from 2,000ft on to the salt crust of the open desert and burst open as they struck the ground. The sarin, dyed red to help gauge how far it had dispersed, was spread over 38,000 sq ft.An inspection crew was sent out in an ambulance to investigate the site where the tanks had landed. Half an hour before arriving, they all donned gas masks. All except one 32-year-old man. He promptly climbed out of the ambulance and walked towards a crater made by one of the falling tanks. Within 10 seconds, he turned, clutched his chest and made quickly back to the ambulance. He called for his gas mask and stumbled. According to the report: "As he staggered, one arm extended and flexed in a jerky manner. He collapsed upon reaching the ambulance."Medics swiftly administered a deep injection of atropine into the man's thigh. This is the standard antidote for sarin, and it works by blocking the agent's effects on nerves. As he breathed, he made screeching sounds and low-pitched gargles. He had rapid, violent convulsions for a minute, his legs and spine extending, his arms flung above his head. He then fell into a flaccid paralysis and stared straight ahead. Two minutes later he made only the occasional gulp for air. Soon his pupils were pinpoints. "No arterial pulse could be detected by the aid man," the report says.The details of the exposure continue, recorded in minute, excruciating detail. Miraculously, the man survived after being hooked up to an "iron lung" resuscitator at a hospital. Nearly three hours after the accident, the report notes: "The patient appeared alert and oriented although he complained of severe malaise." The man held the unenviable title of the most severe sarin casualty of the time.The US was not the only country to experiment with sarin in the cold war years. The USSR produced the agent for chemical warfare. And Britain took an interest too. A year after the incident at Dugway, a 20-year-old RAF engineer called Ronald Maddison took part in an experiment at Porton Down, the UK's chemical warfare facility in Wiltshire. At 10.17am on 6 May, Porton scientists dripped liquid sarin on to the arms of Maddison and five others who, for the scientists' safety, were held in a sealed gas chamber. Maddison fell ill and slumped over the table. He was taken to the on-site hospital but died at 11am. In 2004, more than 50 years later, an inquest found that the Ministry of Defence had unlawfully killed Maddison after one of the longest cover-ups in cold war history.Accidents and unethical experiments gave only a glimpse of the horrors that scientists had made possible with the invention of sarin. In the hands of a nation's military, sarin and other agents were a means to kill swiftly such large numbers of people that the figures are quoted as rounded hundreds, even thousands. Saddam Hussein's bombardment of Halabja in northern Iraq lasted two days in 1988 and killed 5,000 people. The attack against the Kurdish people was recognised as an act of genocide by the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal in 2010. It was the largest chemical weapons attack against civilians in history.In 1993, 162 countries signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlawed the manufacture and stockpiling of chemical weapons. Gradually, nations began to destroy their stocks, itself a complex and dangerous task. Engineers came up with some blunt but effective ways of dealing with the problem. One is to strap explosives to rockets, shells or canisters filled with chemical agents and blow them up in an armoured blast chamber. Another is to burn the munitions in an armoured kiln. Stores of chemicals held in barrels are incinerated or "neutralised" by mixing them with other chemicals. Sophisticated facilities use airtight vessels and process their waste, but they are a luxury. In Iraq in the 1990s, chemical agents were mixed with petrol and burned in a furnace built from bricks in a trench in the desert.The convention did not put the raw chemicals for sarin out of reach. Two years later, in 1995, the Aum Shinrikyo sect punctured bags of homemade sarin in the Tokyo subway. Though only a dozen people were killed, more than 5,500 sought medical help, the vast majority being the "worried well" who feared they had been exposed. The psychological impact did not end with the attack. Kenichiro Taneda, a doctor at St Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo, recalled the awful realisation that he would have to wheel a young woman who had died in the emergency department past a large crowd to reach the hospital mortuary. So as not to cause more worry he "transferred her by keeping an oxygen mask on her face and covering her body with a blanket".Physicians who treated the victims of the Tokyo attack ran extensive tests to look for signs of sarin in blood, urine and other medical samples. The tests, and others developed by the military, have become standards for chemical weapons inspectors looking for evidence that sarin has been used.Sarin itself reacts easily with water and so it breaks down when it meets rain, moisture in the air or sweat. The agent's fragility in water led hospital staff in Syria to uses hoses to drench rooms where they received victims after chemical attacks. For the same reason, sarin does not hang around for long in the environment, or in people. Laboratories can test for the substance, but more often will find breakdown products. The first substance sarin degrades into is isopropyl methylphosphonic acid (IMPA), which is generally regarded as proof positive for sarin. But IMPA itself breaks down, into methylphosphonic acid (MPA). Finding MPA in blood or urine is not a smoking gun for sarin: it can come from other organophosphates. Knowing which one matters.The UN inspectors found concrete evidence that sarin was used with lethal effect in Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus on 21 August. The team plans to go back soon, to visit Khan al-Assal, Sheik Maqsood and Saraqueb, before submitting a final report. That will end another grim chapter in the story of sarin, and open a new one focused on destroying the weapon.Chemical weaponsSyriaUnited NationsMiddle East and North AfricaWeapons technologyChemistryNeuroscienceHuman biologyIan Sample theguardian.com © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds
The most important economic historian ever to teach at U.C. Berkeley died last month: my old teacher David S. Landes taught at Berkeley starting in 1958 until Harvard lured him away until 1964. From a student's perspective, he was ideal: he knew more than you did, was eager to share, could and did make everything interesting and entertaining, and--best of all--knew that his job was to help you learn how to think rather than to tell you what to write. Those of us who got to sit at his feet were lucky. Those of you who did not can still be lucky. There are four books very much worth reading--in order, I would rank them as Dynasties, Bankers and Pashas, Revolution in Time, and The Wealth and Poverty of Nations. And there is a fifth book which is absolutely mind-blowing: The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present. In email, another of my teachers, the University of Pennsylvania's Jeff Weintraub, asked a question: Let's imagine that one wants to give students (or any other set of non-expert readers) a sweeping and illuminating introductory overview on the industrial revolution…. As far as I can tell, the best available single piece of this sort is still David Landes's 39-page ["Introduction"] to The Unbound Prometheus. At least, I'm not aware of a superior substitute that meets all those criteria… There isn't one. And Rich Yeselson asked: As I look at [Landes's "The Unbound Prometheus"] as an interested non-specialist, it… changes the subject completely, engenders countless augmentations/rebuttals/extensions/revisions/reconsiderations. Foundational work. Like The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Or The Interpretation of Cultures (despite being an essay collection). Ground shifts. It would be interesting to think of just the postwar books in the social sciences/humanities that meet that standard. And how many? Six? Ten? 25? After some further discussion with the History Department's Patrick Iber and others, I have come up with my own--very personal--list of twenty such books, or sets of writings, written since 1930 that have shifted the ground on which I think. But it is a personal list: your will surely be different: Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology Nancy Chodorow, The Reproduction of Mothering Milovan Djilas, The New Class Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, "The Use of Knowledge in Society" Albert Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, "The End of Laissez-Faire" Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions David Landes, The Unbound Prometheus W. Arthur Lewis, The Evolution of the International Economic Order William McNeill, Plagues and Peoples Barrington Moore, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia, 1984, The Road to Wigan Pier J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation Edward Said, Orientalism E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class
Authors: Suparna KarmakarThe 2013 World Trade Report (henceforth WTR 2013), published in the third week of July by the World Trade Organisation, identifies as key trends the greater incidence of non-tariff measures beyond WTO disciplines, the rise of new forms of regionalism and rise of emerging markets (EMs). The report argues that these developments will pose new challenges for the WTO, especially as a significant amount of trade opening is likely taking place outside the WTO, which also calls for maintaining coherence between WTO rules and non-trade regulations in other multilateral fora. The report also stresses that the emergence of new players will surely affect global governance in ways that are not yet understood. However, the report seems to have fallen short in identifying new and viable means of addressing these challenges, though it rightly notes that the challenges are best tackled multilaterally and in an open-economy mode, given the externalities generated by the high degree of integration among world economies across the development spectrum thanks to the emergence of global production and supply chains. This article outlines some of the inconsistencies of the WTR 2013 proposals. To increase the WTO’s relevance, the WTR 2013 calls for further expansion of the WTO agenda, in particular by adding new issues reflecting present realities, so that major participants in the multilateral trade negotiations have sufficient reasons to engage meaningfully in the dialogue. It also hopes that the recent proliferation of the mega-regionals such as the transpacific and transatlantic trade agreements will help to bring challengers to the WTO system back into the fold. This builds on the Uruguay Round’s achievements in extending the range of issues to provide for (1) multi-issue trade-offs for key trade partners, and (2) encouragement for many of the hold-out countries to sign up to the multilateral system. This strategy could be frustrated, however. The experience of the Doha Round negotiations clearly indicates that the Uruguay Round principle of simultaneously negotiating a large number of issues by promoting trade-offs across subjects in a single undertaking mode may have run out of steam, if only because the new issues of interest require complex regulatory coordination and the establishing of coherent standard between economically powerful nations. Bundling such topics by expanding the WTO’s remit may thus actually impede progress in future multilateral negotiations, similar to what is feared in the ongoing transatlantic trade negotiations (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP). It is not at all obvious that an expansion of the WTO agenda, with or without a safe landing of the Doha Round, will work its magic like the previous GATT-WTO rounds. The counterfactuals are rather more convincing. It is also not clear if the mega-regional agreements under negotiation will have any definitive influence on expanding the multilateral trade agenda. Taking the example of the transatlantic trade negotiations, even if the EU and US manage to create a ‘transatlantic (regulatory) fortress’ as a defence against competition from the rising Asian emerging markets, especially China, it is uncertain that they will be able to entice large EMs such as China and India into adopting those rules simply out of fear of exclusion. In a recent development, both China and India have ruled out joining negotiations on a US- and EU-backed proposal to expand the 1996 Information Technology Agreement (ITA), though both have benefited from the ITA in different ways. A more likely medium-term outcome is the possibility of creation of a dual regulatory regime in EMs in key areas such as product standards and intellectual property (IP), with the export-oriented firms in these economies adopting the higher standards, while a large part of the remaining producers servicing the domestic market continue to use the old, less rigorous standards and IP regimes. If the latter group is significantly large, as is likely, the incentive for national EM governments to sign up to more rigorous multilateral regulatory standards will diminish. Even the most pro-TTIP analysts do not seem to expect that a truly ‘deep’ agreement outlining ‘gold standard regulatory cooperation’ will be operational in the medium term. Much therefore will depend on the credible threat of ‘economically meaningful discriminatory outcome’ that the new mega-regionals can actually create.Read more...
Peter Higgins: Wolfhound Century Amanda Ripley: The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way Vaclav Smil: Creating the Twentieth Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact Giorgio Riello: Cotton: The Fabric that Made the Modern World David Landes: The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present Dennis Showalter: Armor and Blood: The Battle of Kursk: The Turning Point of World War II Robert Irwin: Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Supreme Court argued over same-sex marriage cases, including Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Though the ruling may not be determined until late June, the nine justices attempted to solidify an opinion that will impact society for years to come. Same-sex marriage is the most controversial topic tackled by the Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade in 1973, which legalized abortion. The majority of the 50 states have proactively fought to legalize civil unions, domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage. However, the act of same-sex marriage is currently legal in 11 states -- New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington and Native American tribal jurisdictions. Other countries such as Sweden and Belgium have also recognized same-sex marriage. But, there is still a considerable amount of work to be done in order to establish equal marriage rights for all, not just some. For the better part of the 20th century, gay marriage has been a pressing topic. The individuals for it argue that love is love, no matter what. The individuals against it argue that a marriage between a man and a woman should be the only recognizable union. Many also quote the Bible to emphasize their distaste toward the matter. The Supreme Court now holds the power to make the ultimate decision on whether gay marriage will be upheld as a legal union in the U.S. The fact that the highest power of the land has decided to take on this case proves how widespread same-sex marriage is. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said, "What gives the federal government the right to be concerned at all about the definition of marriage?" Sotomayor is correct. They have no right to impede on sexual orientation. They have no right to impede on relationships. And, they certainly have no right to impede on whom we choose to love. After two days of arguments over same-sex marriage, results are still inconclusive. Ultimately, the nine justices have agreed to disagree. If the Supreme Court is given the final say on the matter, then a decision needs to be made soon. America is waiting. Families are waiting. Equality is waiting.
Farm workers in one of the biggest orchards in the country have been studying their Bibles during this season of Lent. That doesn't surprise me -- immigrants, including both documented and undocumented, are the fasting growing population in the American churches. What is unusual is that they are using the very same Bible study as thousands of Anglo churches across the country are using -- especially white evangelical churches. The Biblical course is called "I Was A Stranger." Each of the 40 days during Lent, it examines one of the many verses in the Bible that addresses how we are to treat "strangers in the land." What's even more unusual is how many of these Christians have also persuaded their elected representatives in Congress to do the biblical study with them! For Christians, there is no day that more exemplifies hope and renewal than Easter. Each year on this day, we celebrate that the darkness of this world does not have the final say. When so much of the news from Washington, D.C. is bleak and inspires such little hope for the future, it is good to be reminded that more is possible than ever seems probable in our bleakest moments. While it remains to be seen, the issue of immigration just might be a reminder for us all of this reality. Many of those farm workers are feeling a lot of hope these days that the broken system that has endangered their lives and separated their families may about to be reformed. For them, this Easter seems especially hopeful. It would be an overstatement to say that Republican politicians suddenly discovered the case for comprehensive immigration reform in the exit polls of the 2012 election. But, there is truth to it. The shift in the party's approach to the debate since the returns came in has been stark. However, this shift on immigration for many conservative Christians started well before any election results came in and is now driving the conversation on immigration reform more than most realize. Here is the story you might not know. There were seven days in Washington, between June 12 and June 19, 2012 -- one week -- in which a public policy discussion begun to turn around. Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama had tried to pass comprehensive immigration reform but were blocked in Congress by political maneuvering. But now, the winds are changing and reform seems close. And, a surprising group of evangelicals are helping to fuel the change. On Tuesday, June 12, over a year's worth of work and building relationships was revealed with the public announcement of a new "table" of evangelicals committed to immigration reform. We launched a statement of principles that was signed by more than 150 evangelical leaders from prominent Hispanic evangelicals like Luis Cortez, Samuel Rodriguez, and Gabriel Salguero to prominent Anglo pastors such as Max Lucado, Bill Hybels, and Joel Hunter -- and even to Richard Land of the Southern Baptists Convention and Jim Daly of Focus on the Family. The political disagreements of those who signed the statement are enormous, but still each person was united over their concern for the millions of people caught in a broken immigration system. Instead of dividing over ideology and politics, we came together for the sake of morality and the common good. Early that Friday morning we got a call from the White House telling us that the president had decided to make a major announcement that day: young people under 16 years of age who had come to this country illegally when they were only children would no longer be subject to deportation. If they were law-abiding residents and had been to school, they would instead receive work permits that could be renewed every two years. It was similar to, though not as expansive as, the Dream Act, which Congress had previously voted against. That was very good news for the million and a half young people who have a dream of staying in the country they have lived in most of their lives. Instead of being placed in the deportation pipeline, they would now be enabled to contribute to the nation and help build America's future. Two days later, on Sunday, there was great joy in churches across the country, with reports of many celebrations of Christians, both Hispanic and Anglo -- often together -- singing, dancing, and thanking God. It was also Father's Day, and many immigrant fathers felt for the first time in their lives the relief of not having their children living in the shadows of fear. On Monday, the media pundits assessed the political situation. Contrary to many expectations, the Republican opposition to the president did not offer much pushback. Rather, some conservative Republican commentators now supported the action, described it as a good policy decision, and said it should have been done sooner -- which, of course, it should have. By Tuesday, a poll showed that 70 percent of all Americans supported the decision to no longer deport young people who had lived here all of their lives and instead allow them to contribute to their real home country; only 30 percent opposed the move. That week opened the door for a new bipartisan hope for immigration reform. But bipartisan results in politics are increasingly difficult to accomplish. It took moral pressure from outside the political system to get the system to slowly begin to work. Some politicians have found themselves convinced by voting patterns and others by concern for immigrants, but what has fueled the change in opinion among the evangelical community has been clear. It all boils down to scripture and relationships. The Old Testament refers to immigrants 92 times throughout the text and almost all of those references have to do with treating immigrants with concern and respect. Jesus explicitly tells his followers in Matthew 25 that how they treat immigrants and "strangers" is equivalent to how they treat him. Christians are hearing the message the Bible has for them: if they treat immigrants and "strangers" well, they are treating Jesus well. If they treat immigrants and "strangers" poorly, they are treating Jesus poorly. At the same time, more and more Christians are finding themselves sharing their pews with immigrants on Sunday. And while many of the country's major denominations are losing members, immigrant communities are increasing church rolls. To worship with someone is to know them better; many Americans are finding immigrants to be hard working, family oriented, and committed to both God and their communities. These shifts had been happening naturally and informally in many ways over the past 10 years but now they are occurring in a focused and purposeful way. The Evangelical Immigration Table that launched last June has been methodically blanketing evangelical college campuses with conferences and summits discussing immigration reform. Tens of thousands of Christians and churches have responded to the 40-day scripture reading challenge. Radio ads are up or going up in key states across the country on Christian radio stations with pastors talking about the moral case for immigration reform. Often times the legislation in Washington, D.C., is seen in terms of a "zero-sum game" -- when one person or party benefits, the other suffers. But, on immigration reform, that view is being challenged. Ultimately, it is not just immigrants that benefit from fixing our immigration system but churches, communities, law enforcement, and businesses will all benefit from these changes. If we can bring 11 million people out of the shadows, the whole country will be a better place. It requires a change in thinking and perspective. It necessitates us going beyond an analysis of who is up or down in the polls or what congressional districts are up for grabs. It makes us ask the question that before party or ideology, how can we serve the common good? It is a question that can sometimes be harder to answer because it requires us to think outside of our normal boxes, but when we do wrestle with the answer, we all benefit. Most people in America have lost their faith in Washington; the current and bitter "sequester" battle is a prime example of how some have lost sight of the common good. But in the same Capitol City at the same time and with the same players, the immigration debate is becoming an alternative example. That stark contrast bears some reflection. So the common good is still possible in Washington, D.C., but only when we get beyond Washington. What hope requires is replacing bitter ideological battles with the search for the common good.
I hate name calling. It's disrespectful, offensive and just plain stupid. If you're not like me and love name calling, then (no surprise) the Internet is the perfect place for you, especially social media sites like YouTube and Twitter. Or maybe you should just have your own blog. There are lots of really offensive name callers out there, but in my experience the worst ones are the gun advocates. I'm talking about minuteman militia-type guys who laugh at the idea that the Second Amendment is about self-defense. They say you're a moron if you think that. You see, it's really about the need to arm yourself against the federal government. The militia guys are afraid that at any second the government is going to land in Black Hawk helicopters on their front lawns, storm their compounds and take away their guns. They know that the U.S. government is pretty well-armed. After all, they have thousands of nuclear weapons, and the militia guys don't want to be caught flatfooted. So they are looking to stockpile as much high-powered weaponry as they possibly can. You see, that's what the founding fathers intended. If you're thinking about sending out a really radical gun control tweet, like saying that having more than 300 million guns floating around the country might actually make us all less safe, be sure to cancel your schedule for the rest of the day. You'll have your hands full fighting off a name-calling barrage of apocalyptic proportions from a host of Second Amendment "experts" who want you to know in no uncertain terms that you are absolutely one of the dumbest mofos ever to crawl across the face of the Earth. So I do indeed hate name calling. It's typically a self-indicting waste of time and an embarrassing admission of intellectual bankruptcy. But is name calling always wrong? No, actually it's not. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Emerson's wisdom applies in the case of name calling. Specifically, if somebody is a bigot, you have a right -- in fact, you have a responsibility -- to call them out and say, "Hey, you're a bigot." Most bigots don't think they're bigots. They think they're right. When I was growing up in an all-white working-class suburb just outside Philadelphia, almost all the adults in my neighborhood were racists. Some of them were rabidly racist. They called black people "niggers" and "coons." Others were less obvious. But all these people had the same view: They all thought that black people were inferior to white people, intrinsically inferior, that is. They thought that black people were by nature stupid, immoral and dangerous. Yes, dangerous. Ironically, the white racists in my neighborhood were afraid of the people they looked down upon. They also all thought that they themselves were good, god-fearing Christians. They didn't think they were racists. They didn't think they were bigots. They thought they were right. It's the same today with most people who are anti-gay and anti-transgender. I'm sure the entire congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church thinks of themselves as good, god-fearing Christians. They think they're not bigots. They think they're just right. I mean, their website is called GodHatesFags.com. Clearly, if somebody is a bigot, we need to call that person a bigot. But in calling out bigots, let's start with the biggest bigot of all. To paraphrase the Westboro Baptists, God, or at least the god of the Old Testament, is anti-gay and anti-transgender. But obviously the Old Testament god's bigotry doesn't make bigotry right. It just makes the Old Testament god a bad god. Shame on him, and shame on anybody who uses the Bible to justify their own bigotry against gay and transgender people. Of course, "the Bible tells me so" is the single most popular way that people justify anti-gay and anti-transgender bigotry. It's the number-one justification that Republicans use for continuing to oppose marriage equality. John Boehner made exactly that justification earlier this month when he said, "I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. ... It's what I grew up with. It's what I believe. It's what my church teaches me. And I can't imagine that position would ever change." John, I'm here to tell you and all your anti-marriage-equality Republican colleagues in the House that that's bigotry. Of course, all fundamentalist Christian ministers and their followers are anti-gay and anti-transgender as well, and they all base their opposition to gay and transgender people on the Bible. There's little need to call out the Westboro Baptist types. They pretty much call themselves out. It's the nicer ones who seem kind of moderate and reasonable whom we need to confront. They're much more dangerous, because they make anti-gay and anti-transgender bigotry seem so righteous and holy. I'm talking about nice, reasonable, moderate ministers like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen. Rick does donate millions of dollars to fight HIV/AIDS, and Joel is always so very, very nice, but Rick and Joel are both anti-gay, and they both oppose marriage equality. It really comes down to this: If, based on your religious beliefs, you demonize people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and you deny people the right to have sex and marry, then you are against freedom and equality for those people. You are practicing bigotry. You are a bigot, and you deserve to be called a bigot. Yes, it is right to call a bigot a bigot. In fact, it is a responsibility. I will embrace that responsibility whenever necessary, and I call upon everyone who values freedom and equality for all people to do the same.
When Mark Twain wrote in 1894, "My business and your law practice ought to make a pretty gay team," he was not musing about the sexual orientation of the occupations. To be sure, the law has long been said to be a jealous mistress, and if corporations are people, then perhaps a business too can be a woman. It was not until after the "Gay" Nineties, however, that the adjective took on its current sense. As the Supreme Court considers a case about the constitutionality of laws prohibiting gay marriage, some insist that because the ratifiers of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause in 1868 did not see it as a bar to such laws, nor should we today. To the naysayers, anointing sexual orientation as a status worthy of "equal protection of the laws" would be an analytical anachronism tantamount to interpreting Twain as intimating something intimate. That facile view conflates the disparate interpretive roles of definition and application. As a threshold matter, an interpreter must of course define the terms at issue. For that modest inquiry, the denotation at the time of the writing does indeed control, even when a word has, like Twain's, evolved. Nobody would argue that the constitutional language about foreign invasions and "domestic Violence" concerns spousal abuse. And even if 40 is the new 30, Americans respect the constitutional text ("No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years") enough to recognize the legitimacy of Chris Murphy, the junior senator from Connecticut at age 39. Having made that mechanical, time-sensitive determination -- the definition of "gay" or "thirty," or in the case before the Court, "equal" and "protection" -- the interpreter proceeds to a judgment call of how the definition applies to the dispute at hand. For example, the Second Amendment's reference to "Arms" undeniably describes weapons rather than limbs, but does an AR-15 or an ICBM qualify? Such taxonomical questions can be hard enough, but issues about whether vague adjectival phrases such as "equal protection" embrace complex human interactions are even thornier. Opponents of recognizing a constitutional right to gay marriage argue that once a principle is enacted, it forever retains its original unwritten baggage. Exalting that reductionistic approach, Justice Antonin Scalia commented in a recent speech that cases about whether the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishments" are "easy," as are those about the constitutionality of abortion bans. Why? "Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion." He then telegraphed his take on the current case: "Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state." Sure enough, at the oral argument on Tuesday, Justice Scalia badgered Ted Olson, the attorney for two couples, repeatedly demanding that he identify a precise year when same-sex marriage bans became unconstitutional. Olson sidestepped the loaded question, instead characterizing constitutional law as "an evolutionary cycle." That response predictably left Scalia unsatisfied: "You can't give me a date when the Constitution changes?" But it is not the Constitution that changes. It is we, the people. When applying an old principle to a modern situation, we need not be hostages of history. Semantic integrity does demand that we respect a word's time-sensitive definition per se, but who is to give content to the flexible terms that are the currency of the Constitution, such as "unreasonable" searches and "due process" of law? Not our forebears. It is one thing to consent, tacitly, to be governed by the document some of them wrote. It is another to submit to their presumed applications of its principles. Had the Fourteenth Amendment provided that "No State shall ... deny to any heterosexual person ... the equal protection of the laws," then the debate in 2013 would be about amendment rather than interpretation. Instead, the Constitution enshrined a powerfully pure -- but not precise -- principle. The lasting resonance of ringing foundational tenets flows from such vague simplicity. The Declaration of Independence would be a mere relic had it proclaimed that "all men are created equal, except for men of certain races, and women are not equal at all." In 1776, such qualifiers may have been implicit, but over the years, enduring expressions inspire newly enlightened perspectives. It is now time to interpret "equal protection" in a way that reflects a modern appreciation of equality. Sir Walter Scott's 19th-century verse announcing that "Prince Robert has wedded a gay ladye" was, like Twain's comment, sexually unremarkable. He surely was not implying that the "ladye" was repressing her orientation. Still, it would be no great surprise if she had in fact been gay in the modern sense; such marriages of "convenience" were once common. Today, more truly convenient marital options exist in many states. After the Supreme Court's ruling, ladyes all across the land may be free to marry princesses.
If public polling can be believed, over half of the American public now supports the concept of gay marriage, or "full marriage equality," as it is now more properly called. For the overwhelming majority of those who now support the idea, this position has come after personal introspection and a change in thinking. As President Obama put it, we've all had to "evolve" on the question of letting gay Americans get married, for the most part. While I tend to shy away from relating personal stories in the political columns that I write, I thought today would be a good day to do so, on this particular subject (I've already written this week on how I think America has truly reached the political tipping point on gay marriage, and to reiterate my predictions on how the Supreme Court will rule on the two cases it is now hearing). For me personally, my recent journey didn't involve a lot of change of heart over gay rights, but over political strategy. And I'd just like to start off by saying I was on the wrong side of the argument. I was wrong -- and not so very many years ago -- on the advisability of pushing hard for the right of gays to marry. My conversion to the cause of supporting gay rights (in general) happened much earlier, I should mention. This doesn't excuse my previous stance on gay marriage -- in fact, it makes it somewhat worse. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll start at the beginning, instead. Growing up where and when I did, gays were something only dimly understood on the school playground. The epithet of choice (on our playground, at least) was "queer," and resulted in a game called "smear the queer" which consisted of one guy with a football running away from everyone else until tackled and pummeled to the ground and forced to give up the ball. The next person to get it would quickly run, and everyone would chase him next. That's about as far as the anti-gay feelings went in elementary school, and I doubt any of us could have adequately defined what "queer" actually meant, at that age. Later, this developed into a macho sort of attitude towards sexuality in general. Gays were, largely, invisible. This was definitely the Era of the Closet, at least as far as we could tell. The closest gays ever really intruded upon our consciousness was watching the antics of John Ritter on Three's Company, or possibly in admitting that Freddie Mercury was probably not all that interested in girls (seeing as how his band's name was "Queen," after all) -- but this didn't stop any of us from enjoying "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "We Will Rock You" in any way. I hope I'm not painting all this in too good of a light. I grew up bigoted against gay people. I say it with no small embarrassment today, but I have to in all honesty admit: I started out as a bigot. So did most everyone around me, but that's not really any sort of excuse. As far as we could tell, as kids, this is what everyone believed and seemed both right and natural. But then, we didn't have any gay-bashing incidents or anyone making a big issue out of it, so it mostly remained unspoken. It was a fairly soft bigotry, but only because of the lack of immediate targets, I suppose. As I said, the Era of the Closet. Then (like many) when in college, I actually met gay people. They were intelligent, interesting to be around, and I became great friends with some of them. Sure, they had a different orientation in matters sexual, but that didn't mean they were any different in any other way. In fact, they were some of the most interesting people I met (at a college chock-full of fascinating students, I might add), and I became quite close to many of them. I'd walk down the street with a lesbian friend, watch a gorgeous woman stroll by in the opposite direction, and both our heads would turn (after which, we'd look at each other and laugh). Reaching this attitude, however, meant admitting that I had, up to that point, grown up bigoted. It meant confronting my bigotry in bizarre and unexpected ways -- those moments where you stop cold and ponder: "I know I think this, but I have no idea why I think this way -- maybe I'm wrong to think this...?" This was my real evolution on gay rights. Right after I left college, I spent some time living in San Francisco, during the AIDS crisis. If I hadn't been convinced previously, this likely would have done it. Gay people were people, and that's really the only criterion anyone should use to weigh any attempt at discriminating against them. Ever. For any reason. Back then, however, I don't think I ever heard anyone even argue that gay marriage should be a right recognized by all. At the time, I supposed, it was just too outlandish or far-fetched a concept to realistically conceive. But two things pushed the idea forward, at least in my political consciousness. The first was the number of gays dying from the AIDS epidemic, and the second was the Religious Right trying to paint all gays as "promiscuous." Gay men were dying, and their partners had no legal rights. No inheritance rights, and even more heart-wrenching, no hospital visitation rights. The movie Philadelphia truly exposed to America what people were going through, and it had a profound impact on the public's viewpoint, as did the AIDS quilt project. At the same time, the anti-gay forces were denouncing gay promiscuity (often over gay bathhouses), thus implying gays would be more accepted if they formed committed partnerships. The politics shifted on gay rights, to pressing for civil unions. Some sort of legal standing for committed gay partnerships would allow for legal rights that married couples enjoyed. Gay marriage became a concept that was openly spoken of, but mostly in the way Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of "the promised land" -- something to be devoutly hoped for and something to work towards, but not something that you should expect to see any time soon. The anti-gay-rights side then did a complete about-face, and started fighting any sort of legal recognition for committed gay couples, ignoring their previous complaints about promiscuity. Civil unions began to get some political traction. States started passing laws carving out a "separate but equal" type solution -- which was seen as an enormous step forward by most gay rights supporters. The backlash from the Religious Right was fierce, and unrelenting. For approximately two decades, the anti-gay forces won at the ballot box in state after state, passing "heterosexual-only" definitions of marriage into the legal code. The federal "Defense Of Marriage Act" was passed and signed into law by a Democratic president. In fact, gay marriage became a winning cultural "wedge issue" for Republicans, and they exploited it for all it was worth. In the 2004 election, 11 states had anti-gay-marriage initiatives on the ballot. While it is debatable how much actual effect this had on George W. Bush's re-election, it's easy to see that Republicans saw it as a winner and saw it as driving turnout (whether they were right or wrong about that). Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, began provocatively performing gay marriage ceremonies at City Hall. This is all setting the stage for how I was wrong. In 2005, I had an extended email conversation with a gay minister who was arguing for pushing very hard for gay marriage as a basic civil right. I held the position that gay rights activists should be content with moving forward on civil unions, and that gay marriage would be nice... but wasn't realistically going to happen any time soon. Perhaps in a few decades, after America had gotten used to the idea. But not now -- now, it was killing Democrats' chances to get elected and change the direction of the country. I wasn't the only one making this argument back then -- there were many on the Left who were getting tired of having the gay marriage issue linked around their ankles like a ball and chain, dragging their electoral chances down. There were many voices saying: "Can't we just put this aside for a while?" But the number of people who took this position didn't make it the correct one. In the short term, perhaps those of us saying "wait" were right -- perhaps more Democrats could have gotten elected sooner without the issue. But in the long term, both they and I were very wrong. And I have to admit -- that "long term" arrived one heck of a lot sooner than I ever would have expected. Nobody -- even those most optimistic about gay marriage -- could have predicted back in 2005 where we'd be in eight short years. I cannot provide citations to the discussion I had back then, because this was just before I got into blogging. In fact, this exchange was one of the instrumental reasons I did decide to become a blogger -- the idea that discussions which I'd previously held over email or bulletin boards could be a lot more interesting in a lot bigger online realm. But, once again, the stance I took back then has now been proven wrong. The argument I made at the time seemed valid, and seemed realistic and pragmatic in the world of politics. But while I argued for (in a word) "patience," the counter-argument which destroyed this stance was indeed more compelling: "It is never the 'right time' to stand up and demand your civil rights -- there is always a reason why we should just wait and sit content with whatever scraps we can get." Or, to put it another way: "Damn the politics, full steam ahead!" Incrementalism is always hard to argue. That's one of the lessons both this particular issue and my years spent blogging on politics has taught me. There are times (and issues) where the only justifiable course of action is to stand up and say: "This is wrong, and we must change it." And also, "I don't care how this plays politically, it is still the right thing to do." Times where the possibility of victory or defeat doesn't even really enter into the political (or moral) calculus. Gay marriage has become such an issue for me. I didn't start out holding this position. In fact, I started out as a bigoted little child. But even eight years ago, I was still wrong -- even while strongly supporting gay rights, in the abstract. Marriage is a fundamental human right, and it should be seen as an "unalienable" right -- meaning that no government should be able to take that right away. Gay people are people, just like you and me. They have (or should have) this same fundamental human right. I am married to a wonderful woman, which will change in no way whatsoever if lesbians and gays can also marry the person of their choice. That's how I feel now. But I would not be honest if I didn't admit I did have to evolve to get here. As President Obama said, the path of this evolution is there for all to walk. Those further along the path should not demonize those who haven't walked as far -- they should instead offer help towards navigating that path to those behind them. I hope my personal story will, in some small way, help to do so. Chris Weigant blogs at: Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigantBecome a fan of Chris on The Huffington Post
The project Liaoning Coastal Economic Zone Urban Infrastructure and Environmental Management Project has changed to Active
The project Liaoning Coastal Economic Zone Urban Infrastructure and Environmental Management Project has changed to Active. To see more information, see the project information in the World Bank project database The objective of the Liaoning Coastal Economic Sustainable Development Project for China is to improve the efficiency of urban transport and address water scarcity issues in selected cities in Liaoning Province. The project has 3 components. (1) Improving urban transport systems component will invest in improving public transport systems and fostering transit oriented development along selected public transport corridors by integrating land use and transport planning. The project will finance new urban roads and rehabilitation of existing roads, and ensure the engineering designs incorporate traffic management and traffic calming features and include facilities that promote cleaner alternative modes of transport, such as bicycling and walking. (2) Improving urban wastewater treatment and reclamation component will invest in wastewater treatment facilities and water reclamation systems, while also separating sewage and drainage networks in selected cities. The main objective is to rationalize the use of scarce water resources, reduce groundwater abstraction, and reduce water pollution. Investments include the construction of new and rehabilitation of existing wastewater plants, separation of sewage and drainage networks, and replacement of groundwater supply systems by water reclamation systems. (3) Project management and capacity building component is closely linked to the infrastructure investments under components 1 and 2 and will help increase impacts and sustainability of investments, as well as build the capacity of the local staff and officials involved in delivering water and urban transport in participating cities.
Under a recently-announced new agriculture plan, vacant lots on Chicago's South Side could be transformed into thriving — and profitable — urban farms in just three years. Under Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new plan, Farmers for Chicago, will make up to five acres of city-owned lots available to local non-profits who will in turn cultivate the land and create a network of area farmers, according to a Friday release from the city. In a statement, Emanuel said the farm lots will help "stabilize" the surrounding communities and help relieve food desert-related issues. “Farmers for Chicago will give local residents a chance to not only learn how to grow food in their communities, but also build their own food enterprise.” The local agriculturally-oriented NPO's like Growing Home and the Chicago Botanic Garden will train up to 25 recruits for the new program and provide the technical assistance for farmers-in-training to learn how to run a food business. The environmental blog Grist notes the incubator network will "only take applicants with prior farmer training who submit a business plan." Training a new crop of farmers is key if Chicago is to become an urban agri-business hub. Grist reports it takes the work of one farmer to care for just a quarter-acre of land among the 15,000 vacant lots the city owns. Additionally, with requirements like new soil, compost, fencing, and adding a water supply, Grist says it costs the city $250,000 to get a half-acre of vacant land suitable for farming. One of the Growing Homes farms grew and sold more than 13,000 pounds of local, USDA Certified Organic produce with an earned income topping $45,000, according to the city. The Associated Press reports food from the farms will be distributed to more than a dozen farmer's markets, corner stores, restaurants and grocery chains in the area. The city program will be a partnership with Growing Power, a Milwaukee-based urban farming organization whose founder Will Allen was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" grant for his agricultural work in 2008. South Side neighborhoods such as Englewood, with plenty of vacant lots but sparse commerce, have drawn the attention of urban agriculture leaders in recent months; The neighborhood is ground zero for the city's Department of Housing and Economic Development’s (DHE) Green Healthy Neighborhoods initiative announced in November. The city hails the program among the first of its kind in the nation.
Orient Paper ([[ONP]] -11.2%) slides after announcing preliminary unaudited financial results for Q4 and FY13. In Q4, its EPS came in at $0.11, a 62% decline Y/Y, on revenue of $43.5M. Full-year revenue was $151.1M, an increase of 0.3% compared to the previous year. The company released its preliminary results prior to the filing of its 10K because it has entered into negotiations for a potential sale of the land and buildings of its headquarters compound.
Orient Paper (ONP -11.2%) slides after announcing preliminary unaudited financial results for Q4 and FY13. In Q4, its EPS came in at $0.11, a 62% decline Y/Y, on revenue of $43.5M. Full-year revenue was $151.1M, an increase of 0.3% compared to the previous year. The company released its preliminary results prior to the filing of its 10K because it has entered into negotiations for a potential sale of the land and buildings of its headquarters compound. Post your comment!
Interior Department Washington, D.C. 2:16 P.M. EST THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Diane. Thank you. (Applause.) Some of you in the audience who are survivors know how much courage it takes to do what Diane did. (Applause.) Some people who don't know will say, well, she’s just recounting what happened. But every single time you stand and recount what happened, it brings it all back. It brings it all back like a very bad nightmare. But your speaking out, Diane, and so many survivors like you are literally saving the lives of so many other women who, God willing, will be able to avoid the abuse that you had to put up with. I want to thank all the advocates who are here today. I got a chance to meet in my office with some of you a little bit earlier -- not only those on the stage who I, again, had a chance to meet with, but the many women out in the audience, as I look out and see some familiar faces like Pat Rouse and Ellie Smeal and Paulette Sullivan Moore from -- I’m being parochial -- Paulette Sullivan Moore from my home state, and so many others. (Applause.) Those of you who have been around a while with me know that I quote my father all the time who literally would say, the greatest sin that could be committed, the cardinal sin of all sins was the abuse of power, and the ultimate abuse of power is for someone physically stronger and bigger to raise their hand and strike and beat someone else. In most cases that tends to be a man striking a woman, or a man or woman striking a child. That's the fundamental premise and the overarching reason why John Conyers and I and others started so many years ago to draft the legislation called the Violence Against Women Act. It passed 19 years ago, and that's why we shortly thereafter instituted a hotline where women in distress could call for help. I remember, John, when we did that hotline, it was like, well, it will be useful, but I’m not so sure how much it will be used. Well, the truth of the matter is it’s been used a lot and it’s saved a lot of lives. Over 2 million women have had the courage -- the courage -- to try to get out of earshot of their abuser, escape from the prison of their own home, and pick up that phone and call to a line that you had no idea who on the other end was going to answer, and to say, I’m in trouble. Can you help me? Can you help me? I love those men who would say when we started this about why don't they just leave. Well, if they had one-third the courage that those women -- those 2 million women had who have picked up the phone and called, not knowing what to expect, it would be a whole lot better nation. We’ve built a network of shelters that are immediately available to women in need because we found out that the vast majority of children who are homeless on the street -- Nancy knows and others -- were there because their mothers were abused. Imagine fleeing for your life with only the clothes on your back and your child in your arms. The shelter was their only lifeline, and it’s worked. We also have specialized law enforcement units with trained prosecutors, victim advocates, court personnel who understand the unique challenges of the access. Because of all of you in the audience that are here today, we’ve been able to train judges and train intake officers, so when a frightened woman shows up at the family court and says to the intake officer, “I want to tell you” -- “Speak up, will you?” “Well, I just -- my” -- and they turn around and walk away, because there’s only a very brief window, as all of you know, a very brief window, again, after a woman screws up the courage -- the courage -- to ask for help. All these links in the chain have made a difference in the lives of women. It’s one woman, one girl, one person at a time, one case at a time. And you providers know that better than anyone. With all the law’s success, there are still too many women in this country who live in fear of violence, who are still prisoners in their own home; too many victims that we have to mourn. We knew from the outset in 1994 that there was much more we could have done at the beginning if we were able to get the votes. But we did what was necessary and important, but we knew more had to be done to reduce domestic violence, domestic violence homicides, to provide new tools, as was just spoken to, to protect Native American women, to address the perplexing rate of dating violence among young women, and so much more. But because of the people on this stage and in this room, every time we reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, we improved it. Every single time, we’ve improved it. (Applause.) And we did this again. First, we’ve given jurisdiction to tribal courts over those who abuse women on reservations regardless of whether or not they -- (applause.) We’re providing more resources to the states so they can be trained as to how to collect evidence, acquire convictions, particularly in prosecutions for rape. We’re going to increase the use of proven models to reduce domestic violence homicides. We’ve all focused on the tragic gun violence that has been in the news lately, but I want to point something out to you. From 2009 to 2012, 40 percent of the mass shootings in America, other than the celebrated ones you’ve seen -- 40 percent where there’s four or more people who have been shot, the target has been a former intimate partner or a close family member. So they go into the office, just like that young man who -- or woman who stood in front of you when your husband came with a loaded pistol to shoot you. Forty percent are a consequence of domestic violence. We created a strong -- strong -- anti-violence program. Campuses will have more tools to educate students about sexual violence. (Applause.) So when Congress passed this law that the President will sign today, they just didn’t renew what I consider a sacred commitment to protect our mothers, our daughters, our sisters. They strengthened that commitment. And I want to thank them. I hope I don’t leave anybody out. Starting off with my old buddy, Pat Leahy, who chairs the committee. Pat, thank you very, very much. (Applause.) And Mike Crapo. Mike, this wouldn’t have happened if you had not stepped up. (Applause.) Lisa Murkowski is not here. But my friend who -- I don’t want to get her in trouble, but I know she really likes me because I like her a lot -- (laughter) -- Senator Collins. Seriously, it was Republicans coming and standing up and saying this has to be done in the Senate. So we owe you. We owe you big. (Applause.) And by the way, if you ever want a partner to get anything important done, call Nancy Pelosi. Call Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.) And Steny Hoyer, and Congresswoman Moore -- (applause -- and my old buddy -- I hope I’m not leaving anybody out here -- but my old buddy, John Conyers. (Applause.) I’m sure I’m leaving someone out, for which I apologize. Look, we all know we have a lot more to do, but we’re going to continue to make progress. And one of the reasons we’re going to continue to make progress is we’re going to have for at least three more years the President of the United States, my friend, Barack Obama. (Applause.) THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody! Please, everybody have a seat, have a seat. I want to thank all of you for being here. I want to thank Secretary Salazar, my great friend, for letting us into the building. (Laughter.) Make sure, everybody, pick up their stray soda cans and stuff afterwards. (Laughter.) I want to thank Attorney General Holder for joining us. He’s doing a great job. (Applause.) We usually host these bill signings over at the White House. But there were just too many of you -- (laughter) -- who helped to make this happen. (Applause.) And you all deserve to be a part of this moment. I want to thank everybody on this stage. Joe just mentioned the extraordinary work that each and every one of these leaders -- both advocates as well as legislators -- THE VICE PRESIDENT: And I left out Congressman Tom Cole. THE PRESIDENT: Well, there you go. Give Tom a big round of applause. (Applause.) But everybody on this stage worked extraordinarily hard. Most of all, though, this is your day. This is the day of the advocates; the day of the survivors. This is your victory. AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you, Mr. President! THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.) And this victory shows that when the American people make their voices heard, Washington listens. (Applause.) So I want to join Joe in thanking all the members of Congress from both parties who came together, got this bill across the finish line. I want to say a special thanks to Pat Leahy and Mike Crapo. (Applause.) Thank you, guys, for your leadership. (Applause.) And I want to give much love to Gwen Moore, who worked so hard on this. (Applause.) And I also want to take a minute before I begin to thank the Senators who, just a few hours ago, took another big step towards sensible gun safety reforms by advancing a federal gun trafficking bill. That’s real progress. (Applause.) Now, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent legislation to the Senate floor that would crack down on folks who buy guns only to turn around and funnel them to dangerous criminals. It’s a bill named, in part, for Hadiya Pendleton, who was murdered in Chicago earlier this year. You'll remember I told this story about how she had marched in the Inauguration Parade, and just a few weeks later had been gunned down about a mile away from my house. So I urge the Senate to give that bill a vote. I urge the House to follow suit. And I urge Congress to move on other areas that have support of the American people -- from requiring universal background checks to getting assault weapons off our streets -- because we need to stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals, and because Hadiya’s family and too many other families really do deserve a vote. (Applause.) Finally, I want to thank Joe Biden for being such an outstanding Vice President. (Applause.) That's right, you can stand for Joe. Stand for Joe. (Applause.) Give it up for Joe Biden. (Applause.) Joe is a hardworking Vice President. AUDIENCE: Yes, he is! THE PRESIDENT: And he told me when he agreed -- when I asked him to be Vice President, he said, well, I don't want to just be sitting around. (Laughter.) I said, I promise you I won't let you just sit around. (Laughter.) And he has not. He has played a key role in forging the gun safety reforms that I talked about, largely by working closely with survivors of gun violence and their families. He forged the Violence Against Women Act 20 years ago -- never forgetting who it was all about. (Applause.) So on behalf of everybody here and all the lives that you've had a positive impact and touched through the Violence Against Women Act -- the survivors who are alive today because of this law, the women who are no longer hiding in fear because of this law, the girls who are growing up aware of their right to be free from abuse because of this law -- (applause) -- on behalf of them and all their families, I want to thank Joe Biden for making this one of the causes of his career. (Applause.) Now, as Joe said earlier, we’ve come a long way. Back when Joe wrote this law, domestic abuse was too often seen as a private matter, best hidden behind closed doors. Victims too often stayed silent or felt that they had to live in shame, that somehow they had done something wrong. Even when they went to the hospital or the police station, too often they were sent back home without any real intervention or support. They felt trapped, isolated. And as a result, domestic violence too often ended in greater tragedy. So one of the great legacies of this law is that it didn’t just change the rules; it changed our culture. It empowered people to start speaking out. It made it okay for us, as a society, to talk about domestic abuse. It made it possible for us, as a country, to address the problem in a real and meaningful way. And it made clear to victims that they were not alone -- that they always had a place to go and they always had people on their side. And today, because members of both parties worked together, we're able to renew that commitment. Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is something I called for in my State of the Union address. And when I see how quick it got done, I'm feeling -- (applause) -- makes me feel optimistic. (Applause.) Because of this bill, we’ll keep in place all the protections and services that Joe described, and, as he said, we’ll expand them to cover even more women. Because this is a country where everybody should be able to pursue their own measure of happiness and live their lives free from fear, no matter who you are, no matter who you love. (Applause.) That's got to be our priority. That’s what today is about. (Applause.) Today is about the millions of women -- the victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault -- who are out there right now looking for a lifeline, looking for support. Because of this bill, they’ll continue to have access to all the services that Joe first helped establish 19 years ago: the national hotline, network of shelters, protection orders that carry across state lines. And because of this bill, we’re also expanding housing assistance so that no woman has to choose between a violent home and no home at all. That’s what today is all about. (Applause.) Today is about all the law enforcement officials -- like Police Chief Jim Johnson -- (applause) -- they’re the first to respond when a victim calls for help. And because of this bill, we’re continuing all the training and support that’s proven so effective in bridging some gaps that were in actual enforcement of the law so that we can actually bring more offenders to justice. And we’re giving our law enforcement better tools to investigate cases of rape, which remains a consistently underreported crime in our country. Helping police officers deliver on the most important part of their job -- preventing harm and saving lives – that’s what today is all about. Today is about women like Diane. I’m so grateful Diane shared her story. That takes great courage. (Applause.) And tragically, it is a common story. I know we’ve got tribal leaders here today, and I want to thank all of you for fighting so hard on behalf of your people -- (applause) -- to make this bill a reality. (Applause.) Indian Country has some of the highest rates of domestic abuse in America. And one of the reasons is that when Native American women are abused on tribal lands by an attacker who is not Native American, the attacker is immune from prosecution by tribal courts. Well, as soon as I sign this bill that ends. (Applause.) That ends. That ends. (Applause.) Tribal governments have an inherent right to protect their people, and all women deserve the right to live free from fear. And that is what today is all about. (Applause.) Today is about all the Americans who face discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity when they seek help. (Applause.) So I want to thank Sharon Stapel, who’s here -- where did she go? There she is right there -- (applause) -- for the work she’s doing -- the great work she’s doing with the Anti-Violence Project. But Sharon and all the other advocates who are focused on this community, they can’t do it alone. And then now they won’t have to. That’s what today is all about. That's what today is all about. (Applause.) Today is about the women who come to Rosie Hidalgo looking for support -- (applause) -- immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse. I mean, imagine the dilemma for so many -- if your immigration status is tied to a husband who beats you or abuses you, if you’re an undocumented immigrant, you may feel there’s too much to lose by coming forward. The Violence Against Women Act already had protections so that victims could call the police without fear of deportation, and those protections saved lives. And because we fought hard to keep them in place, they remain a lifeline for so many women. That’s part of what today is all about. (Applause.) Today is about young women like Tye, who was brought into the sex trade by a neighbor when she was 12 years old. Tye was rescued with the help of an organization led by trafficking survivors. Today, she’s enrolled in college. She’s working full-time to help at-risk girls stay out of the sex trade. (Applause.) Couldn’t be prouder of her. So proud of her. (Applause.) So with this bill, we reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act to help more girls turn out like Tye. That’s what today is all about. (Applause.) So today is about all the survivors, all the advocates who are standing on this stage. But it’s also about the millions more they represent -- that you represent. It’s about our commitment as a country to address this problem -- in every corner of America, every community, every town, every big city -- as long as it takes. And we’ve made incredible progress since 1994. But we cannot let up -- not when domestic violence still kills three women a day. Not when one in five women will be a victim of rape in their lifetime. Not when one in three women is abused by a partner. So I promise you -- not just as your President, but as a son, and a husband, and a father -- I’m going to keep at this. I know Vice President Biden is going to keep at it. My administration is going to keep at it for as long as it takes. And I know that all the advocates up here, all the legislators -- Republican and Democrat -- who supported this, I know they could not be prouder of the work that they’ve done together. And I think I speak for all of them when we say we could not have done it without you. So with that, let me sign this bill. (Applause.) (The bill is signed.) END 2:40 P.M. EST
Up to 36 people die after plane crashes while trying to land in bad weather in GomaUp to 36 people have been killed after a twin-propeller plane crashed while trying to land in bad weather in Goma, the main eastern city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the government said.It was not immediately clear how many people were on board the Fokker 50, which was operated by the domestic airline CAA. The flight was arriving from the town of Lodja, some 440 miles (700km) to the west in Kasai-Oriental province.A government spokesman said that, as the plane was loaded with cargo, it was not carrying its full capacity of 50 passengers. CAA declined to comment.The Democratic Republic of the Congo has one of the world's worst air safety records. There have been numerous crashes in Goma, the main eastern city, where the runway has not been fully repaired after a volcanic eruption in 2002 left it covered in lava.There were conflicting reports about the death toll. Some reports said there were 40 passengers on board. The Associated Press reported 36 people had died, while Reuters reported nine.The government spokesman Lambert Mende said: "For the moment we have counted nine dead, passengers and crew. No one on the ground was killed. The plane fell in an empty space, and because of the rain, no one was around. It was really lucky."Local authorities said at least three people survived the crash.Goma's mayor, Naasson Kubuya, said: "The pilot managed to avoid houses. It's a horrifying accident. The city of Goma has become a field of disasters. We sympathise with the families of the deceased."A Reuters reporter at the scene saw four bodies being removed from the wreckage of the plane, which was lying in several pieces.The plane came down in heavy rain in a residential area near government offices and a base used by United Nations peacekeepers.Mende said the plane had been in good condition: "It was a Fokker 50 … I'd taken it many times myself."Democratic Republic of the CongoAfricaPlane crashesAir transportguardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds