Sunday, June 21, 2015
UK Government-backed scientific model flags risk of civilization’s collapse by 2040 (Insurge Intelligence link): New scientific models supported by the British government’s Foreign Office show that if we don’t change course, in less than three decades industrial civilisation will essentially collapse due to catastrophic food shortages, triggered by a combination of climate change, water scarcity, energy crisis, and political instability.
Before you panic, the good news is that the scientists behind the model don’t believe it’s predictive. The model does not account for the reality that people will react to escalating crises by changing behavior and policies.
But even so, it’s a sobering wake-up call, which shows that business-as-usual guarantees the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it: our current way of life is not sustainable.
The new models are being developed at Anglia Ruskin University’s Global Sustainability Institute (GSI), through a project called the ‘Global Resource Observatory’ (GRO).
The GRO is chiefly funded by the Dawe Charitable Trust, but its partners include the British government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO); British Bank, Lloyds of London; the Aldersgate Group, the environment coalition of leaders from business, politics and civil society; the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries; Africa Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the University of Wisconsin.
(Mod: Look at the bright side. Our kids won't have to save very much for their retirements.)
Let the Donald Trump bashing begin – Mexican artisan launches piñata (The Guardian link): After Donald Trump’s Mexico-bashing comments this week, Mexicans are engaging in a little Trump-bashing of their own.
Artisan Dalton Avalos Ramirez has launched a Trump piñata, featuring The Donald’s inimitable hairstyle and a big, big mouth.
The papier-mache figure will come in a variety of sizes. The first was on display Friday at the Pinatas Ramirez store in the border city of Reynosa.
Avalos Ramirez says he created it “because of the hatred Trump expressed for the Mexican people”. He said “people want to burn the pinatas, they want to break them”.
During his presidential campaign kickoff speech Tuesday, Trump accused Mexican immigrants of bringing drugs, crime and rapists to the US.
It isn’t the first piñata the Ramirez store has made of a controversial figure. Avalos Ramirez said he made Miley Cyrus models after the singer used a Mexican flag against her buttocks prosthesis during a show in 2014.
Previous piñata-worthy figures included Kim Kardashian and Dutch soccer player Arjen Robben, who knocked Mexico out of the 2014 World Cup on a questioned penalty.
Children use sticks to break open candy-filled pinatas on birthdays and holidays.
(Mod: I can't see how this kind of publicity is going to help The Donald become the next President of the United States. We'll have to see how he deals with his piñata problem.)
Water Penalties to begin July 1st (City of Sierra Madre link): Sierra Madre City Council has approved enacting monetary penalties for water customers that exceed their Water Conservation Target beginning with the July 1, 2015 bill. This bill would include water usage during the months of May and June for customers on the East side of Baldwin Avenue. For customers on the west side of Baldwin Avenue the August bill will include penalties for water usage during the months of June and July.
PENALTIES ONLY APPLY TO CUSTOMERS THAT EXCEED THEIR CONSERVATION TARGET. For more information regarding the current ordinances, please visit our page on water conservation available on our website.
(Mod: I am not sure I understand this. Penalties for too much water consumption will happen a month earlier for one side of Sierra Madre than the other? This makes sense for what reason?)
California Legislature passes drought bill imposing fines, water system consolidation (Sacramento Bee link): A California budget bill that would allow the state to force consolidation of water systems, exempt certain water projects from environmental review and make other far-reaching changes in response to the drought cleared the Legislature on Friday over the angry objections of Republicans.
The legislation, Senate Bill 88, also would require anyone who diverts 10 acre-feet of water or more to measure and report on their diversions and allows agencies to fine people who violate a water conservation measure as much as $10,000.
The measure passed the Senate 24-14, shortly after it cleared the Assembly 52-28, with all Republicans opposed.
“This is nothing more than a state coup on local water districts,” state Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, told colleagues, calling the measure an abuse of power that came before lawmakers with little public airing. He predicted bureaucratic chaos prompted by water agency litigation.
(Mod: Look at it this way. They could come in and take over the Sierra Madre Water Company. Water bond debt and all. I can't see how we can lose here.)
Detransitioning: Going From Male To Female To Male Again (Vocative link): One day about seven years ago, Joel Nowak sent a letter to friends and coworkers announcing his plans. Ten years before, he had begun identifying as a woman: he’d changed his name, taken hormones, had surgery. Now he would be transitioning again—retransitioning, as he puts it. He would be a man once more.
“I can remember when I first started buying clothes from the men’s rack at Old Navy again,” he says now. “It felt kind of scary, but was also kind of a rush.”
Nowak had concluded that he was female at his core and decided to transition when he was in his late twenties. “This is something I had felt since I was a kid,” he says. “I had questioned my gender identity since I can remember.”
“It was really an exciting time,” he said. “I felt self-actualized. It was something I had wanted to do all my life.”
But after transitioning, Nowak felt haunted by the gender he’d been assigned at birth. “I started to have doubts,” he says. “I had come to believe that I was basically a female in a male body—but as time went on, I realized, well, no, in a lot of ways I do feel that I am male, and I am actually kind of okay being male. … I was in this closeted mode of trying to deny being male and trying to cover up maleness and being uncomfortable with my history and my past and the physical remnants of being male.”
So, Nowak began to detransition. “It felt liberating for me to give all that up and say to heck with that,” he said, referring to the constant worry of appearing male instead of female.
In the wake of Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair premiere, a “sex change regret” narrative has entered the mainstream media. Earlier this month, CNN interviewed Walt Heyer, an activist who transitioned to female in his 40s and then back to male less than a decade later. Heyer, who writes for the conservative website The Federalist, regrets his initial transition and argues that transgender people who seek surgery are categorically suffering from “delusional psychological problems.”
(Mod: Some people have just got to learn to make up their minds.)
Baseball team Orem Owlz cancel 'Caucasian Heritage Night' after backlash (The Guardian link): A minor league baseball team in Orem, Utah, has cancelled a ticket promotion it called ‘Caucasian Heritage Night’ after a severe backlash from critics and fans.
The Orem Owlz, who play in the Pioneer League and are affiliated with the LA Angels, had planned the event on August 10, and said in their promotional material: “Irish, Italian, Scandinavian, German … or even Utahn! Whatever your background, celebrate it at the Home of the Owlz!”
But after fans discovered, shared, and criticized the existence of the promotion – particularly in light of the fatal shooting of nine black people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday – the Owlz opted to cancel. They confirmed the U-turn in a hastily written, and deeply eccentric, press statement.
The statement read: “You may have read that the Orem Owlz had long ago scheduled Caucasian Heritage Night as one of its 38 promotions.
“Minor League Baseball, and the Orem Owlz, is about baseball, togetherness and family fun for all fans of all races, religions, and orientations. Our goal in this promotion, like any of our promotions, is to have fun and make fun of everyday normalcies. Our night was to include Wonder Bread on burgers with mayonnaise, clips from shows like Friends and Seinfeld, and trying to solve the vertical leaping challenge. We understand, in light of recent tragic events, that our intentions have been misconstrued. For that, we sincerely apologize.
“The Owlz are committed to all its fans, families and all fans of baseball alike - no matter who you are. The event has been removed from our promotional schedule effectively immediately.”
Whether the vertical leaping challenge would have been solved will presumably remain an unanswered conundrum.
Orem, a town in north-central Utah about 45 miles south of Salt Lake City, has a population of about 90,000, and is nearly 80% white. Less than 1% of its residents are African American.
(Mod: Too bad. I'd heard Donald Trump was going to throw out the first ball.)
Feds accused of pushing ‘utopias’ in wealthy neighborhoods with diversity regs (Fox News link): Congressional Republicans are trying to thwart a new federal housing rule they claim would allow Washington to play a heavy-handed role in trying to remake upscale neighborhoods as racially and economically diverse "utopias."
The forthcoming regulations, expected to be formally proposed later this month, would leverage grant money to try and bring more affordable options into these neighborhoods. It would require local jurisdictions to report on their progress; they'd risk federal housing money if they don't.
But while the Department of Housing and Urban Development program essentially aims for more integration and equality, critics see a meddling federal government.
"[The rule] tells us how we can live, where we go to school, how we will vote, what this utopian type of neighborhood should look like," charged Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who sponsored an amendment to the House HUD spending bill Wednesday, blocking any future funding for the new rule. The spending bill was passed in the House with the amendment.
"These rules want to manipulate the way American neighborhoods look," he told FoxNews.com in an interview.
HUD officials and proponents of the new rule say it would do nothing but clarify -- even simplify -- current obligations under The Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Right now, local and state housing authorities must have plans showing they are "affirmatively furthering fair housing." In other words, making sure their communities offer affordable housing opportunities in all neighborhoods, not just the poor ones, and do not discriminate based on color, religion, sex, or national origin. Affordable housing is generally defined as housing that costs no more than a third of a family's monthly income.
The new rule would require jurisdictions to file a full assessment every five years that not only addresses the affordable housing landscape, but patterns in poverty and minority concentrations, as well as "community access" to transportation, good schools and jobs.
In addition to the assessments, the new requirements include an action plan obligating the jurisdiction to "identify the primary determinants influencing fair housing conditions, prioritize addressing these conditions, and set one or more goals for mitigating or addressing their determinants." For its part, HUD would be sharing demographic data that local officials need to pull this together, while offering guidance and technical assistance.
But here's the rub. If cities and counties don't comply, it could put millions of dollars in annual federal block grants at risk, which critics say is how Washington can bully governments to do their bidding.
(Mod: It looks like SCAG is going to be busy. I wonder, how will Sierra Madre's Planning and Community Preservation Department handle this situation when it hits their desk?)
Posted by The Moderator at 5:00 AM