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Category: Journalism

How To Protect Communities From Climate Change

Posted in Journalism, MintPress News, Occupy Wall Street, and SXSW

The science of global warming tells us that we can expect more severe weather and more severe weather events, like floods, heat waves, droughts and hurricanes. Though no specific weather event can be definitively blamed on climate change, responses to recent natural disasters provide valuable insights into how urban populations can recover their infrastructure quickly, identify the most vulnerable areas, and increase their chances of survival.

As this article went to press, Japan was being battered by Super Typhoon Vongfong, and meteorologists were warning that 40 million Americans could face especially severe storms including tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. Earlier this year, severe floods threatened several communities in London.

After disasters like Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy, groups like Common Ground and the Red Hook Initiative received national media attention for offering more effective support to victims than large groups like the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the Red Cross. This was possible because grassroots groups relied on pre-existing community ties while also embracing new technologies like social media, as in the case of groups like Occupy Sandy, a community that was built and organized to help the victims of this storm to recover.

And while Wall Street reopened two days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall, millions of residents spent much longer in the dark. Even climate change researchers were victims of the power outage.

Women Aren’t The Only Texans Grappling With Changes To Health Care Access

Posted in Journalism, and MintPress News

Both sides of the conflict over the Texas Omnibus Abortion Law (HB2) link abortion to issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity.

In January 2013, at the beginning of the biennial legislative session, anti-abortion legislators and other groups held an event called the Rally For Life. Attended by thousands, the rally was designed to build support for the passage of HB2. The bill would ultimately fail to pass in that legislative session, requiring Gov. Rick Perry to call two successive special sessions of the Legislature before he could sign it into law.

Perry attended the Rally For Life, along with other members of the state government. Attorney General and current gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott explicitly mentioned his opposition to gay marriage in Texas during his speech.

“I know this session, working together, we’ll be able to cement the fact that Texas is the most pro-family, pro-life, pro-value state in America,” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told the crowd, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Texans Build A Diverse Movement For Reproductive Choice And Health Care

Posted in Austin, Journalism, and MintPress News

What does it mean to have a choice?

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld Americans’ right to choose an abortion, but that choice is meaningless if someone can’t access a legal abortion clinic or legally obtain the abortion pill. Decades of the anti-abortion movement’s attacks on abortion access depend on this, and it’s a strategy which may have just won a major victory.

The challenge of accessing abortion just became far more difficult for millions of Texans. On Thursday, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court upheld all provisions of HB2, the Texas Omnibus Abortion Bill. As a result of the ruling, all but eight of the clinics in Texas providing abortions closed on Friday. Many Texans depended on these clinics for essential medical care beyond abortions.

Other provisions of the bill already restricted access to abortions after 20 weeks and access to the abortion pill, and added onerous requirements on abortion providers to receive hospital admitting privileges, which are often refused by the mostly Catholic hospitals in the state.

“This decision is a vindication of the careful deliberation by the Texas Legislature to craft a law to protect the health and safety of Texas women,” Lauren Bean, a spokesperson for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, told Fox News.

“Texas faces a health care crisis, brought on by its own legislators,” Amy Hagstrom Miller, the CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, a group of abortion providers that were party to the legal challenge, told RH Reality Check.

Tuesday Ephemera: Chipmunk Revolution

Posted in Media, MintPress News, and Other Writing

Tonight’s music video is “Rescue, Mister” by TR/ST. This video was selected by Ósk Bät as part of Ósk’s “Daily Earworms” on the social network ello.

I’m on ello too, as @kitoconnell (just like on Twitter and Instagram). I’m finding the new social network a pleasant place to share photos and text without the issues of Facebook’s bothersome algorithm hiding my content.

Scientists believe that fossil remains of Megasphaera may represent one of the earliest animals to live on earth. From Live Science:

A new study finds that these controversial fossils are not likely to be bacteria or single-celled protists; their cells, preserved for more than 600 million years in rock, are too complex and differentiated. Instead, the fossils may be multicellular algae, or even the embryosof ancient animals. “The real value of these fossils is that we now have some direct evidence about how this transition from single-celled organisms to things like animals and plants occurred in the evolutionary past,” said study researcher Shuhai Xiao, a geobiologist at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

[…] The bizarre fossils, known as Megasphaera, come from a rock layer in southern China called the Doushantuo Formation. Xiao first studiedMegasphaera specimens in 1998 and suspected that they might beanimal embryos. Each fossil measures a mere 0.03 inches (0.7 millimeters) or so across and comes from what would have been a shallow marine environment at the time. But no adult animals that might have produced these embryos have ever been found, leaving the identity of the fossils open to scrutiny.

[…] By slicing the rocks ultrathin, the researchers were able to shine light through the fossils to see the structures inside, just like stained glass. Using microscopy, they observed multiple cells, cleaved together in spherical clusters. The cells were different from one another in shape and size, suggesting they have developed different tissue types — a process known as cell differentiation — and presumably have different cellular functions, Xiao said.

A chipmunk, closeup shot of its upper half as it sits
“Revolution! Today we rodents rise!”

New On Mint Press News: I filed a report with MyMPN about a recent direct action by Utah Tar Sands Resistance activists dressed as chipmunks.

Activists dressed as chipmunks shut down construction at the first US tar sands mine on September 23. It was the latest in a series of actions by Utah Tar Sands Resistance targeting the 213 acre Book Cliffs tar sands mine.

A video released by the group shows chipmunks spreading rapidly through through the camp site where they block construction equipment with their bodies. Activists shut down construction for part of a day, resulting in five arrests. There have been 27 total arrests since the beginning of the campaign to halt construction.

“This project is a bellweather project,” said Raphael Cordray, an organizer with Utah Tar Sands Resistance. “If they can make this project successful than it will open up the flood gates for a whole lot of other tar sands and oil shale strip mining projects in the area and in America in general. The United States Bureau of Land Management identified 860,000 acres within Utah, Wyoming and Colorado that’s available in the future.”

Read Chipmunks Shut Down Utah Tar Sands.

And …

In the comments, tell me what you’re reading or what’s on your mind.

Monday Ephemera: The Verse

Posted in MintPress News

Welcome to the first of my “bits and pieces” posts on Approximately 8,000 Words. It’s modeled after the Watercooler posts I made on Firedoglake from 2012 until my departure last week. For now, I’m calling them my Daily Ephemera. I’ll try to share a video, a link or two, and something from Twitter.

Tonight’s video is “The Verse,” a rather wonderful short fan film based on Firefly. 

Written for fans and by fans who are inspired by the cult sci-fi series Firefly, An exciting new look at this beloved world featuring a new crew, a new ship and a heaping dose of misbehavin’!

Directed by Julian Higgins (@JulianHiggins)

Starring
Hunter: Ryan Caldwell (@rycaldwell)
Stack: Jennifer Wenger (@JennyWenger)
Yoke: Peter Weidman (@PeterWeidman)
Maribelle: Tybee Diskin (@hellotybeeren)
Rusty: Zack Finfrock (@ZackFinfrock)
Annie: Alex Marshall-Brown (@amarshallbrown)
Chow: Ewan Chung (@ewanchung)
Commodore Woodruff: Vic Mignogna (@vicmignogna)

 

A minimalist poster showing outlined drawings of each of Serentiy's recognizable crew
Browncoats rejoice at a brand new Firefly fanfilm.

Also: Many people who know me don’t realize I helped best-selling author Steven Brust edit his FREE Firefly fan-fiction novelMy Own Kind of Freedom, some years ago.

Toronto cyclists are striking back against drivers that park in bicycle lanes. From road.cc:

Cyclists in Toronto fed up with motorists illegally parking in bike lanes are striking back – by placing stickers on cars to shame drivers into think twice about doing so in future. […] The green stickers, which cost C$5 a roll, have the words “I parked in a bike lane” on them, together with the hashtag, #IParkedInABikeLane. They were thought up by a pair of anonymous cyclists who say on their Tumblr page:

“#IParkedInABikeLane was started out of frustration for the blatant disregard for cyclists and cycling infrastructure in Toronto. The concept is simple – you see a vehicle parked in a bike lane, you slap a sticker on it. The intention isn’t to cause damage or vandalize (the stickers don’t damage anything anyway) – it’s to get drivers to think twice about what they are doing and perhaps change their actions in the future. Parking and driving in bike lanes is not only inconsiderate and selfish, but also incredibly dangerous, especially for cyclists who are not comfortable integrating with the flow of traffic.”

From Mint Press News: On MyMPN, Adam Powell’s report on how Carly’s Law could revolutionize the lives of Alabama children suffering from extreme forms of epilepsy through access to an experimental drug derived from cannabis:

Carly’s Law, which unanimously passed the Alabama House and Senate in May, allows the University of Alabama at Birmingham to research the medical uses of cannabidiol, or CBD oil, and provide it to eligible recipients.

CBD oil has proved effective in other states for limiting, if not completely eliminating, seizures and improving patient’s quality of life. Many families have moved from Alabama, Georgia and other states to Colorado just to have access to this treatment option.

Carly’s Law is named after Carly Chandler, a three year old who suffers from daily debilitating seizures, and received wide support from many families who need the medication for their children.

When moves were being made in the Alabama statehouse earlier this year, Wayne Young was on the front-lines knocking on doors and speaking with whoever would listen. While both Amy and Wayne [Young] will acknowledge, CBD oil is “not a magical drug,” but could provide [daughter] Leni Young, and thousands of other Alabama children, with comfort while also relieving her pain and eliminating her seizures.

And a Republican legislator led the way!

One of Carly’s Law’s biggest political advocates was Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, who met Leni and Carly while pushing the bill through the statehouse.

He can recall the day perfectly.

“It was kind of strange when that picture (of Ball and Leni) was taken,” Ball said. “That’s the only time I’ve ever gotten to hold her.”

Ball was in quiet reflection when Amy approached him and placed Leni in his arms.

“I held that baby and we were praying and it was like we were all alone,” Ball recalled. “It’s one of those unique moments I’ll always remember.”

This was one of the most moving stories I’ve edited. Now if we can just find a way to get our legislators to hold Palestinian babies or border children.

Activism in the 21st century …

Love and solidarity from Approximately 8,000 Words to everyone that took part in Flood Wall Street today!