Tag: politics

Twitter analysis tells volumes about climate politics

Many senators stuck in a social media echo chamber

Staff Report

University researchers took a deep dive into the world of social media to reach some interesting conclusions about climate change and political beliefs. After analyzing the Twitter streams of U.S. senators, the scientists said Democrats were three times more likely than Republicans to follow research-oriented science organizations, including those covering global warming.

The paper, published in the journal Climate Change Responses, reinforces that fact that climate science has inexplicably become a partisan issue, but with a ray of hope. On the GOP side of the aisle, 15 senators displayed a draw to science and thus a way to bring scientific information to those not receiving it on their own.

“Increasingly, people are using Facebook and Twitter as a means of getting news, which determines what information they are exposed to,” said Brian Helmuth, a marine biologist and an ecologist at Northeastern University’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs. Continue reading “Twitter analysis tells volumes about climate politics”

New UN support network aims at protecting refugee children

‘We are concerned about the welfare of unaccompanied boys and girls on the move and unprotected across Europe …’

New family service centers are being established to ease the plight of refugee and migrant children in southeastern Europe.
New family service centers are being established to ease the plight of refugee and migrant children in southeastern Europe.
Refugees from Syria wait to gain entry to Austria at the Spielfeld border crossing from Slovenia in November. 2015. @bberwyn photo.
Refugees from Syria wait to gain entry to Austria at the Spielfeld border crossing from Slovenia in November. 2015. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

With women and children making up a growing percentage of refugees and migrants in southeastern Europe, the UN Refugee Agency and UNICEF are setting up special “blue dot” support centers for children and families along the most frequently used migration routes.

In February, women and children made up nearly 60 per cent of sea arrivals compared to 27 per cent in September 2015. The new centers aim to identify and protect children and adolescents traveling alone, and reunite them with family wherever possible, depending on their best interests. Children are especially prone to risks from sickness, trauma, violence, exploitation and trafficking. Continue reading “New UN support network aims at protecting refugee children”

President Obama wants to close illegal Guantanamo prison

President Barack Obama.
President Barack Obama.

New plan to shut detention facility will require congressional action

Staff Report

President Obama wants to turn the page on a dark chapter of American history by ending the illegal detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Obama said maintaining the prison helps terrorist groups recruit new members and undermines relationships with allies.

The U.S. has held captives at the naval base on Cuba for more than 10 years. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, more than 800 people have been imprisoned there without due process, including 21 children and individuals as old as 89. Continue reading “President Obama wants to close illegal Guantanamo prison”

40 percent of Americans think security is more important than civil liberty

Freedom? Or security?

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

Staff Report

By all historical accounts, Benjamin Franklin always chose his words carefully, and while his quote on liberty and security appears to have mutated a bit over the years, the essence of what he said remains true.

But those words apparently ring hollow with many Americans, who now believe it’s OK for the government to sacrifice freedoms to fight terrorism, according to a new national survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

And about half of Americans think it is acceptable to allow warrantless government analysis of internet activities and communications — even of American citizens — in order to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, but about 3 in 10 are against this type of government investigation. Continue reading “40 percent of Americans think security is more important than civil liberty”

GOP trying to scuttle Paris climate deal

Can the U.S. effectively help negotiate a global climate deal with the GOP working against U.S. interests at every turn?

Subversive actions may limit President Obama’s options during upcoming talks

Staff Report

Widespread global support — including in the United States — won’t stop Republicans in Congress from trying to scuttle the deal, even if it means acting subversively, against the interest of the American people and against President Barack Obama.

Politico, and other news sources, have reported that GOP political operatives are telling foreign governments that Congress will try to block efforts to pay for U.S. contributions to the climate change mitigation and adaption fund, a key part of any global deal to try and limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius. Continue reading “GOP trying to scuttle Paris climate deal”

Feds say greater sage-grouse not endangered

Greater sage-grouse doing fine, feds say.

No listing needed …

Staff Report

Making a decision for which the political handwriting was on the wall a long time ago, the U.S. Department of Interior this week said that greater sage-grouse are doing just fine, and don’t need protection of the Endangered Species Act.

The non-listing may very well be challenged in court by some conservation groups who question whether a patchwork of voluntary conservation measures will be enough to save one of the West’s landmark species, but federal officials — tired of fighting with governors in western states like Colorado and Nevada, said the birds “remain relatively abundant and well-distributed: across their 173-million acre range. Continue reading “Feds say greater sage-grouse not endangered”

House GOP tries to slash forest environmental rules

Logging on the Frisco Peninsula, Sept. 2011. @bberwyn photo.
Logging on the Frisco Peninsula, Sept. 2011. @bberwyn photo.

‘The public will be looking at irreparable habitat damage, polluted watersheds and drinking water and a devastated outdoor economy’

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Anti-environmental Republicans in the House are once again trying to fast-track logging projects under the guise of forest health. They also want to discourage citizen involvement in forest management decisions and try and stop conservation groups from challenging illegal logging projects in court.

The House last week passed H.R. 2647, with the Orwellian name of “Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015.”

Here’s a bill summary posted at govtrack.us:

“The Resilient Federal Forests Act would make a variety of changes to the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service forest management standards such as requiring studies on plans in response to forest fires, insect and disease infestation, and catastrophic events. It would also make it more difficult to issue a lawsuit against the Forest Service by requiring plaintiffs who lose lawsuits to pay for the agency’s legal expenses, and in some cases by exempting the agency from paying the plaintiff’s legal expenses if the plaintiff wins.”

Govtrack gives the bill just a 15 percent chance of being signed into law, mainly because the extreme rightwingers in the House included language that won’t be acceptable to moderate Republicans in the Senate.

In effect, the House GOP quashed any real chance at passing any meaningful forest management reform because they insisted on pursuing an extreme, ideologically bill. That becomes apparent when you read the statement from Rob Bishop, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee:

“The verdict is in. The draconian environmental policies and litigation assaults of the past thirty years have failed our forests. Horrific wildfires are running rampant in our National Forest System. H.R. 2647 gives the Forest Service the resources it needs to suppress these devastating wildfires and gives them the tools they need to prevent fires before they start. I am proud of Rep. Westerman and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their advancement of H.R. 2647, a bill which makes enormous progress toward restoring the health of our treasured national forests.”

Conservation groups are not thrilled about the bill. Defenders of Wildlife said the measure would “bulldoze bedrock environmental laws to pave the way for dramatic increases in logging in forests across America.”

This bill turns back the clock 50 years on forest management and puts our nation’s forests at risk by green-lighting reckless logging practices, damaging vital wildlife habitat, short-cutting critical environmental review, and limiting public involvement in forest management decisions.

“This is a sad testament to the fact that instead of leading the charge on conserving America’s valued forests, many in Congress seem bent on casting aside our nation’s foundational conservation laws,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO, Defenders of Wildlife. “Dramatically increasing logging based upon little to no environmental analysis is like racing down the highway with your windshield painted black. You know that the outcome will not be good. The public will be looking at irreparable habitat damage, polluted watersheds and drinking water and a devastated outdoor economy.

“Rather than recklessly rolling back time-tested conservation laws, Congress should focus on the one and only legislative reform actually needed for our nation’s forests—properly funding the fire-fighting budget,” Rappaport Clark said.