|Every week Daily Kos diarists write dozens of environmentally related posts. Many don't get the readership they deserve. Helping improve the odds is the motivation behind the Green Diary Rescue. In the past seven years, there have been 227 of these spotlighting more than 12,723 eco-diaries. Below are categorized links and excerpts to 78 more that appeared in the past seven days. That makes for lots of good reading during the spare moments of your weekend. [Disclaimer: Inclusion of a diary in the rescue does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.]|
Top Comments: The magic of old growth Redwood forests—by Steveningen: "It is no secret that California is a diverse and beautiful state. The scenery here is as varied as its people and everyone has their favorite place to visit. For some, it's Yosemite National Park, others are drawn to our beaches or the Sierra Nevada mountains. For me, it is California's old growth Redwood forests, particularly those in the Redwood National and State Parks on the North Coast of California. The first time I went, I nearly wept at the awesome beauty around me. The stillness and majesty of these ancient trees never fails to restore my soul. Knowing just how much I love these forests, my friends took me there to heal the weekend after my mother died. I even have instructions in my will to scatter a very small amount of my ashes in one of my favorite groves. That is how much they mean to me."
520 scientists sign statement on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century—by Laurence Lewis: "In the one month since it was written, 520 global scientists have signed on to this statement. You can, too. There is more information, including ideas for solutions, at Stanford University's Millenium Alliance for Humanity & the Biosphere website. [Here is the beginning]: Earth is rapidly approaching a tipping point. Human impacts are causing alarming levels of harm to our planet. As scientists who study the interaction of people with the rest of the biosphere using a wide range of approaches, we agree that the evidence that humans are damaging their ecological life-support systems is overwhelming. We further agree that, based on the best scientific information available, human quality of life will suffer substantial degradation by the year 2050 if we continue on our current path."
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Interview with second citizen arrested for demanding fracking meeting with Illinois Governor—by willinois: "A second person in two days has been arrested for demanding that Governor Pat Quinn meet with citizens about proposed fracking legislation. Southern Illinois resident Dayna Conner was arrested for refusing to leave the Capitol building Wednesday after two days of waiting outside Quinn's office with others who want a meeting. [...] I spoke with Dayna earlier Wednesday outside the Governor's office while she waited for a meeting. Here's a short clip of why she felt her arrest was necessary."
A whole lot more links and teasers to green diaries can be found below the fold.
An open thread to kick off a long weekend right.
- Hmmm...the Ohio School Board is considering teaching kids creationism in schools. Daily Kos emerita Kaili Joy Gray:
Um, no. No, wrong, fail, and no. While proponents of creationism like to say that it is simply another “theory” that should be taught side-by-side with evolution, it isn’t. Evolution is an actual theory with actual scientific evidence to support it. Creationism has, um, people who believe stuff, but, like, believe it really really really a lot. While that apparently passes for “science” among, for example, 20 percent of Pennsylvania’s science teachers, actually, it isn’t.
- The Florida teenager who is being prosecuted for having a same-sex relationship with a younger girl is rejecting a harsh plea agreement:
Florida teen Kaitlyn Hunt, who has been charged with a felony for having a sexual relationship with her younger girlfriend, has rejected a plea deal that would have included two years of house arrest and having to register as a sex offender. A statement released by her lawyers argued that she is being selectively prosecuted for having been in a same-sex relationship when she turned 18.Precisely: If this had been a heterosexual relationship, it would not have been prosecuted. Still--facing trial is a bold move.
- Employees at Centerplate, the subcontractor that provides vending at San Francisco Giants games, are striking today. As someone from Los Angeles, I can personally testify to how morally superior many Giants fans feel about their baseball team--so hopefully, those in attendance at AT&T Park will stand with UNITE-HERE Local 2 and show solidarity with the striking workers at AT&T Park.
- For those who missed it, Los Angeles elected new citywide elected officials this past Tuesday. DNC member Eric Garcetti won the election, and will be our new mayor starting on July 1st. He will be the city's first elected Jewish mayor (his ancestry became a campaign topic, as he is Jewish and Latino with an Italian last name), and he will be the youngest mayor in over a century. But that's not the only history LA has made: by electing Ron Galperin as City Controller, we just elected our first-ever openly LGBT candidate to citywide office in Los Angeles.
There is a downside to this past week's results: no citywide elected official, nor any one of the 14 sitting councilmembers, will be women when the new council is seated on July 1. That will change quickly, as the two candidates in a runoff for a vacant seat in the Northeast San Fernando Valley are both women. But 1 of 15 is far too low for a city like Los Angeles.
- More progress, all the time:
The Puerto Rican House of Representatives on Friday (24 May) approved a sweeping nondiscrimination bill that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing, governmental services, public accommodations and private entities.
The Senate has already approved the bill and Governor Alejandro García Padilla has vowed to sign the legislation into law.
The vote occurred as similar legislation - the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) - remains stalled in the US Congress.
- Here, have a handy structurally deficient bridge infographic.
Bassett’s employee Suyapa Moreno told The Nation in Spanish that three of her outlet’s four staff went on strike Tuesday, and that when they showed up to start their shift on Wednesday, “the owner told my co-worker she was fired. So I said, ‘If you’re going to fire her, I’m not coming back to work.’” She said her manager told them that “she didn’t want to see us again.” Moreno said she believes her co-worker was targeted because management saw her as the ringleader who convinced Moreno and a third Bassett’s worker to strike.Tuesday's strike wasn't the only low-wage worker activism of the week. Workers also showed up at shareholder meetings of top fast food chains. At the Wendy's shareholder meeting, Fast Food Forward workers chanted "$15 and a union" while:
Moreno said the workers then waited at the food court until other workers, organizers and community supporters gathered to protest the terminations. According to the Good Jobs Nation campaign, about a hundred total supporters converged in the food court to protest ten total terminations by four outlets. Once there was a big enough group, said Moreno, “We went back to talk to the owner, and she accepted us back.” The Good Jobs Nation campaign told The Nation that managers or owners from Subway, Quick Pita and Kabuki Sushi also agreed to reverse the terminations once confronted by crowds of supporters.
Down the block, another demonstration against Wendy's was convened by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an advocacy group calling for better wages for farmworkers through its Fair Food campaign. The Immokalee Workers have had success in persuading some fast-food giants to sign on to the campaign. Taco Bell, McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, and Chipotle have all pledged to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes to help support farmworkers wages. Wendy's, to date, hasn't.Pathetic that Wendy's isn't keeping up with Taco Bell, but exciting to see so much activism targeting low-wage employers.
Come below the fold for more of the week's labor news.
Minute-by-minute report: It's the big one between the Bundesliga's best. Join Paul Doyle for the latest
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah's comments come as Assad's forces and Hezbollah intensify campaign for town of Qusair
The leader of Hezbollah has warned that the fall of the Syrian regime would give rise to extremists and plunge the Middle East into a "dark period", and vowed that his Shia militant group will not stand idly by while its chief ally in Damascus is under attack.
In a televised address, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said Hezbollah members are fighting in Syria against Islamic extremists who pose a danger to Lebanon, and pledged that his group will not allow Syrian militants to control areas bordering Lebanon.
Nasrallah's comments marked the first time he has publicly confirmed that his men are fighting in Syria, and were his first remarks since Hezbollah fighters have become deeply involved in the battle for the strategic Syrian town of Qusair near the Lebanese frontier.
Hezbollah has been heavily criticised at home and abroad for sending fighters to Syria to fight along President Bashar al-Assad's forces. In his speech, Nasrallah sought to defend the group's deepening involvement, and frame it as part of a broader battle against Israel.
He also portrayed the fight in Syria as an "existential war" for anti-Israel groups including Hezbollah.
"Syria is the back of the resistance, and the resistance cannot stand, arms folded, while its back is broken," Nasrallah said.
"If Syria falls into the hands of America, Israel and the takfiris, the people of our region will go into a dark period," he said in a speech to mark the anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000. "If Syria falls, Palestine will be lost."
The term "takfiri" has become associated with an offshoot of the salafist movement, which condones violence to achieve ideological goals. Many of its practitioners embrace the teachings of al-Qaida.
Nasrallah's comments came as Syrian government forces and Hezbollah launched a fierce campaign on Saturday to seize more rebel territory in the town of Qusair.
Rebels fighting to topple Assad said additional tanks and artillery had been deployed around opposition-held territory in the Syrian town close to the Lebanese border.
"I've never seen a day like this since the battle started," said activist Malek Ammar. "The shelling is so violent and heavy. It's like they're trying to destroy the city house by house."
At least 30 people were killed in opposition-held areas on Saturday, most of them rebels, and dozens were injured, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Rebels are largely surrounded in Qusair, a town of 30,000 that has become a strategic battleground. Assad's forces want to take the area to secure a route between the capital Damascus and his stronghold on the Mediterranean coast, effectively dividing rebel-held territories in the north and south.
The opposition has been fighting back, seeing it as critical to maintain cross-border supply routes and stop Assad from gaining a victory they fear would give him the upper hand in proposed peace talks to be led by the US and Russia next month.
Assad's forces are believed to have seized about two-thirds of Qusair, but the price has been high and rebels insist that they are preventing any further advances.
Former Labour minister Hazel Blears says funding cuts are undermining government strategy against Islamist extremism
The coalition's strategy to counter Islamist extremism is failing, according to an outspoken intervention by the former cabinet minister who ran the programme under the last government.
Speaking following the Woolwich attack, Hazel Blears MP, who as communities secretary led the Prevent strategy under Labour, told the Observer that people vulnerable to the messages of extremist preachers were being spotted too late. She said it had been a serious mistake to dismantle Labour's policy of funding local authorities that have a population more than 5% Muslim, to help them curb radicalism by engaging and funding community groups, Islamic societies and mosques.
The mother of Michael Adebolajo, one of the two men arrested over the murder on Wednesday of Lee Rigby, a soldier in the 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, is said to have sought help at a mosque over her son's vulnerability in his teenage years, but the system did not respond. Blears, who is a member of the cross-party committee of MPs that monitors the intelligence services, said she was very worried that Prevent was now "basically dealing with people who are already crossing that line" into radicalism, rather than making an early identification of those who were vulnerable to extremist Islamic preaching. Her comments come in another eventful day following the attack.
Greenwich university confirmed that Adebolajo had studied there in 2003/2004 and 2004/2005, but said that he had been asked to leave due to his poor academic performance. The university said that the second suspect, Michael Adebowale, 22, had not attended the institution. The university announced that it was opening an investigation into any evidence of extremism on campus. Last night it emerged Adebowale had been detained by police two months ago after shopkeepers in the area had complained about his preaching activities in the street. He was released without charge.
The BNP was accused of exploiting Wednesday's attack to further its "own poisonous ends" after the far-right group announced it would be demonstrating in south-east London, where the attack took place. A huge rise in the number of anti-Muslim incidents has also been recorded, with 162 calls made to a helpline since the killing – up from a daily average of six. A YouGov poll also shows – amid a generally tolerant attitude towards Islam – an increase in the number of people, particularly from older generations, who believed there would be a "clash of civilisations" between British Muslims and native white Britons. This figure rose from 50% in November 2012 to 59% on Thursday and Friday.
Questions were being asked last night about how much MI5 knew of the two suspects, after Abu Nusaybah, a friend of Adebolajo, claimed that the secret services had tried to recruit the murder suspect in Kenya, where he was allegedly assaulted by local security forces. That claim has at least one precedent in British courts. In 2009, four Britons held in Kenya testified that they were interrogated under threat of torture by the country's anti-terrorism agency while MI5 agents declined to intervene.
Nusaybah was arrested on terrorism charges following an interview with Newsnight on Friday evening. The prime minister has announced that a preliminary report from MI5 on what the organisation knew of the men would be given to the parliamentary watchdog on which Blears sits this week.
The former minister's comments will inevitably lead to a debate about whether the coalition rolled back the Prevent policy too dramatically. The Labour government's policy of encouraging local authorities to fund sympathetic Islamic groups was attacked in its latter years by critics who claimed that the government was establishing a network of spies to monitor Muslim communities. It was also claimed that extremist groups had received funding, and the strategy was redrawn in 2011. Funding was removed from organisations that were said not to support "British values" and Prevent funds were to no longer to be used for "community interventions". Blears said the coalition had been mistaken in disengaging from local authorities and focusing Prevent solely on stopping extremists being drawn towards terrorism. She said that the case against Labour's Prevent strategy had proved largely false, with the Home Office reporting in 2011 that there was no evidence of spying nor anything to "indicate widespread, systematic or deliberate funding of extremist groups", although some with extremist ideology had received funding as part of the engagement strategy.
Blears, MP for Salford and Eccles, said: "I am very worried that over the last couple of years, the communities department, which works very closely with local authorities, has abandoned this territory.
"Now the main thrust is with the police. They do a fantastic job but they are dealing with people who are already crossing that line. Counter-extremism isn't just about tackling the people you already know are radicalised. It is about trying to work with local communities before they get to that point so that good decent people in the community can protect young people from being groomed and getting these ideas in the first place and much of what was done in the Prevent programme was about empowering women, young people.
"The police have their own intelligence on the ground and they have neighbourhood policing. They are out and about in the community but in a way it is one side of the picture. Local authority, school governors, people in community groups will have their information as well. The difficulty is when that information is then portrayed as spying on people."
A Home Office spokesman said: "The police cannot and do not deliver Prevent work on their own. We work very closely with local authorities in our priority areas who engage with a range of partners including faith institutions and civil society groups. We also work with other local authorities as required. Prevent is an integral part of our counter-terrorism strategy and aims to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism."
Seven injured as goods trains collide at rail intersection, resulting in derailment and damage to overpass section
Two freight trains collided at a rail intersection in rural southeastern Missouri on Saturday, triggering the collapse of a highway overpass when at least a dozen rail cars derailed and struck a support pillar, authorities said.
None of the seven people hurt in the fiery crash – two train workers and five people who had been in the two cars on the overpass – suffered life-threatening injuries, Scott County sheriff Rick Walter said in a statement.
"One train T-boned the other one and caused it to derail, and the derailed train hit a pillar which caused the overpass to collapse," Sheriff's dispatcher Clay Slipis said of the pre-dawn crash near Chaffee, about 15 miles southwest of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
The collision of the BNSF Railway Co and Union Pacific trains also sparked a fire when diesel fuel leaked from one of the train engines, Slipis said.
The crash came just over a week after a commuter train derailed in Connecticut, striking another train and injuring more than 70 people during the evening rush hour.
Then on Thursday, a truck crash triggered the collapse of a bridge in Washington state, sending two cars plunging into the frigid Skagit River and raising concerns about the nation's aging infrastructure. Three people were rescued.
In Missouri, Wayne Woods told a regional CBS affiliate that he had rushed to the scene as soon as he heard the crash to try to halt traffic as he called in the emergency.
"We heard the crash and we stepped outside and my son said the overpass was down. Then we heard a car's tires squealing like it was coming to a stop and then a crash and a horn continuously blowing," he told KFVS television.
"I got over there, the train was on its side. They got the guys out and lifted them down off the train and got them off the overpass. One was kind of bloody and the other one looked like he was pretty shook up," he said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it had dispatched a team to investigate the train crash.
Union Pacific said its train had been primarily carrying auto parts from Illinois to Texas when it struck the side of another train, and that a Union Pacific engineer and conductor were lightly injured, according to spokeswoman Calli Hite.
The Union Pacific locomotive and about a dozen cars derailed in the crash, she added.
BNSF said that its train had been hauling scrap metal from salvage facilities and was heading south along the Missouri River when it was struck, and that none of the crew were injured. Authorities had earlier said conductors for both trains had been hurt.
Former pupil claims monks at closed boys' school Fort Augustus Abbey committed 'systematic, brutal, awful torture'
Police are investigating allegations of abuse at a Catholic boarding school in the Scottish Highlands, following complaints of a brutal regime in which boys were physically beaten, psychologically tortured and sexually assaulted. The school closed in 1993.
Officers from Police Scotland will travel to Newcastle tomorrow to interview Andrew Lavery, 41, who for two years in the 1980s attended the fee-paying Fort Augustus Abbey, which was run by Benedictine monks. "It was systematic, brutal, awful torture," says Lavery, who says he was beaten, sexually assaulted and isolated in a locked room for days on end under "special measures". He added: "The psychological torture was the most damaging. In the end I wanted to kill myself."
Lavery claims he was beaten unconscious by a monk and lay master while pupils watched, then left at the playing fields to crawl back to school. He also says he experienced "greying", which involved other pupils pinning the victim's legs apart while his testicles were hit with a hockey stick. A monk watched without intervening. "I have had pain in my left testicle all my life," he said.
Lavery also accuses Monk A, now a cleric in England, of physically beating and sexually assaulting him. He will tell police that when he broke his leg Monk A took advantage of his vulnerability and tried to grab his testicles. "I told him to leave me when I went to the toilet, but he was standing over me. He said, 'No, you need a hand.' I heard all his heavy breathing behind me. It was the wrong sort of breathing to hear in your life. He was fumbling and I was screaming at him to get off."
Monk A is also accused of selling alcohol to underage pupils. When contacted by the Observer, he admitted giving them beer, but said: "I never beat people up and there was certainly never any sexual stuff. I don't know what he's talking about."
There has been heated debate on the school's old boys website about abuse, with some denying it took place. Des Austin, a former pupil who privately investigated abuse at the school, posted extracts from 13 separate emails he received from old boys claiming physical and sexual assault from 1954-91. "The thing that got to me," one wrote, "was the sexual abuse ... and the fact that no one would believe me. My mother said, 'priests never do such things'."
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, who resigned as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh in February after allegations of sexual misconduct, was a visitor to the school and guest of honour at last year's old boys' dinner. Jimmy Savile, who owned a house in the Highlands, was also an occasional guest and Lavery remembers his Rolls-Royce being parked outside the monastery. Lavery was in a senior position as an addictions nurse until last year when he suffered a traumatic physical injury. While recovering, he suffered flashbacks, recovered memories and night terrors. He no longer works. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and assessed as requiring psychotherapy and specialist abuse counselling.
Another former pupil, Douglas Hiddleston, from Fortrose, remembers Lavery being treated "viciously" by pupils and staff. One of the few Protestants in the school, Hiddleston says he was also targeted. "Monk A grabbed me by the throat, pinned me up against the wall and called me a Proddy bastard," he said.
Another pupil, who asked to remain anonymous, said Monk A "was the epitome of nastiness". The man, who says he was once nearly drowned by fellow pupils while staff watched, also alleges that another monk was guilty of sexually predatory behaviour and tried to "groom" him. "Seediness pervaded the school," he said.
The culture was similar for an earlier generation, according to some at the school in the 1960s. "I came close to suicide," said Sean O'Donovan, who says he was bruised for five weeks after a birching. "I just couldn't see an end to it.I tried using a rope, but it was too thin. It was very painful and, since I was trying to stop the pain, that made me think."
William Wattie, who attended from 1959 to 1964 and became a headteacher, said: "Institutionalised bullying … I could never work out where the gentle carpenter of Nazareth fitted in." He questioned "cuddling" by monks at the school's feeder primary at Carlekemp in North Berwick, which has also been linked to abuse allegations. The Catholic church in Australia accepted abuse had been perpetrated by Father Aidan Duggan, a former teacher at both Carlekemp and Fort Augustus. Duggan died in 2004.
Fort Augustus monastery, which belonged to the English Congregation of Benedictines, also closed in 1998. The current Abbot President, Father Richard Yeo of Downside Abbey, admits former pupils have contacted him regarding the school. "I have heard allegations of both physical and sexual abuse which have disturbed me. If anyone comes forward to speak to me about this, I will try to be there for them," he said.
Children and police hurt as widow of two dead Islamists blows herself up in provincial capital's central square
A female suicide bomber identified as a widow of two killed Islamists blew herself up in the southern Russian region of Dagestan injuring at least 12, including two children and five police officers. She detonated an explosives-laden belt in the central square in the provincial capital, Makhachkala, Dagestan's police spokesman, Vyacheslav Gasanov, said.
The bomber was identified as Madina Alieva, 25, who married an Islamist who was killed in 2009 and then wedded another Islamist radical who was gunned down last year.
Since 2000, at least two dozen women, most of them from the Caucasus, have carried out suicide bombings in Russian cities and aboard trains and planes. All were linked to an Islamist insurgency that spread throughout Dagestan and the predominantly Muslim Caucasus region after two separatist wars in neighbouring Chechnya. The bombers are often called "black widows" in Russia because many are widows or relatives of militants killed by security forces. Islamist militants try to convince them that bombing will reunite them with their dead relatives beyond the grave.
The Tsarnaev brothers, suspected of carrying out last month's Boston Marathon bombings, are ethnic Chechens who lived in Dagestan before moving to the United States. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder brother who was killed in a shootout with police days after the 15 April bombings, spent six months in Dagestan in 2012.
Last week a double explosion in Makhachkala killed four civilians and left 44 injured, while three security officers and three suspected militants have been killed in other incidents.