by Dominique Browning, via Time Ideas
If you were watching the Masters golf tournament last weekend, you would have noticed it was laced with ads from Exxon Mobil calling for ? better science. That?s right. The very company that funded decades of science denial takes it back. Sort of. ExxonMobil ranks high in a short list of powerful institutions that has done this country an enormous disservice in undermining the overall credibility of the scientific method in general, and climate scientists specifically.
They now realize, of course, that without scientifically sophisticated workers, our global standing slips backwards. The company plans to spend a small fortune on the ad campaign featuring the National Math and Science Initiative and is a founding sponsor of this effort to dramatically improve science education in the U.S.
I have a friend, Jackson Robinson, who runs a green investment company called Winslow Management. He regularly asks CEOs, what is keeping you awake at night? More than half the time, the answer has to do with the work force: how hard it is to find educated, skilled people to take their companies to the next level. The workforce issue has gotten so serious that Chicago, with 100,000 jobs that could not be filled in 2010, has had to launch a ?college to careers? movement to train students. For the record, not one CEO has ever responded to Jack that he stays awake because of global warming. And I imagine one reason it isn?t top of mind: a disinformation campaign that has been raging for decades.
The ExxonMobil website explains that its ads are meant to alert people about ?underperformance? of U.S. students, who rank internationally 25th in math and 17th in science. Considering that the company employs more than 18,000 people around the world, their success must depend on a capable workforce??Its not just U.S. leadership in energy that?s at risk?it?s also our leadership in medicine, research, technology and other pillars of the American economy.?
No kidding. The ad campaign was slick, and smart on many levels, not the least of which is to position ExxonMobil as a science-friendly company. Which, undoubtedly, it is?so long as the science supports their agenda. Though ExxonMobil pledged to quit funding climate change deniers back in 2008, as recently as 2011 a Greenpeace Freedom of Information Act turned up evidence that the company was still at it, though ExxonMobil denies this.
I suppose we should be grateful for support to science and math from any quarter, these days?given what?s happening in places like Tennessee, where students will soon be learning that evolution is just one of those quirky ideas those radical science types throw out there to confuse people, since God made the universe not so long ago?and in a week, no less. Which is why we have weekends free to play golf.
Still, how about teeing up another campaign? ExxonMobil tells Americans that it was wrong to mislead people. That it was wrong to undermine credibility in the scientific method. That we have entered an era of manmade global warming, that it could lead to cascading catastrophe the likes of which we have never seen, that we are rolling the dice, way off the game board, in the risks we are taking in contributing further to greenhouse gas pollution?and that ExxonMobil is proud to announce that it is doing everything in its power to support the training of a new generation of scientists who will show us how we can adapt to this difficult new reality.Dominique Browning, the former editor of House & Garden, is the author of Slow Love. This piece was originally published at Time and was reprinted with permission.Related Post:
The U.N. Security Council condemned North Korea’s rocket launch and urged tightening of existing U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang in a statement issued today. “The Security Council demands that the DPRK (North Korea) not proceed with any further launches using ballistic missile technology and comply with (Security Council) resolutions … by suspending all activities related to its ballistic missile program,” said a “presidential statement” from the council. China, a veto-wielding Security Council member frequently seen as North Korea’s defender at the U.N., backed the statement. “The Security Council expresses its determination to take action accordingly in the event of a further DPRK launch or nuclear test,” warned the 15-nation panel.
Boston Police is investigating its officers’ response to rowdy duel protests at the Boston Common on Sunday, Tax Day, after a photo surfaced showing “a city officer with his hand around a protester?s neck.” As Daily Kos’ Scott Wooledge reports, the Tea Party-organized event was co-sponsored by the vehemently anti-gay MassResistence and featured Scott Lively, “professional worldwide hunter of homosexuals and top proponent of ‘gay cure’” and a proponent of Uganda’s infamous ‘kill gays’ legislation.
As counter-protesters — including Occupy Boston Queer and Trans Direct Action Working Group — expressed their opposition to Lively’s participation “one of the speakers said from the podium, broadcast across the loud speakers at the Commons, “We will not be silenced by faggots.” Read a first-hand account from the protester roughed up in the picture at Back2Stonewall. Pictures via Courtney Sacco:
Last Friday, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) challenged his Democratic opponent — Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth — to a debate. Walsh posted an announcement on his campaign website which stated that the congressman would be hosting a town hall on Sunday, and that he ?has invited his opponent Tammy Duckworth to join him because he believes the voters deserve to have the ability to directly compare their competing views on the issues.?
Unfortunately, she was unable to attend. Why? Because Duckworth, who serves in the Army National Guard, was on duty this past weekend. As VoteVets told ThinkProgress, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Duckworth was legally prohibited from appearing at any campaign events while on duty. VoteVets Chairman Jon Soltz issued the following statement:
Joe Walsh just cannot stop trying to use Tammy Duckworth?s service against her, and he needs to stop, now. Whether or not his campaign was aware of her Army obligations, he now is, and should immediately apologize for this stunt. We should be thankful for the service of all of our troops, not use their time in uniform as an opportunity to play a political stunt.
The Duckworth campaign has made clear that it would like to hold a series of debates with Walsh.
Walsh?s denigration of Duckworth?s service seems to be a recurring theme. In a recent interview with Politico, Walsh diminished Duckworth?s sacrifice for her nation (she lost both of her legs and has a damaged right arm because her helicopter was gunned down in Iraq in 2004) by saying, ?What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran … ehhh…. She is nothing more than a handpicked Washington bureaucrat.? Walsh refuses to apologize for those remarks and has instead doubled down. ?Wearing the uniform should immediately earn everyone?s respect. It should not, however, earn everyone?s vote,? he said earlier this month.
Since 2006, Duckworth has been serving our nation?s veterans, first by directing the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, and more recently by serving as an Assistant Secretary in the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. But Walsh has been ?trying to pretend that [Duckworth?s] service ended when she came home from war.?
Mitt Romney is not a tax crook! (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)Mitt Romney's campaign explains why he doesn't need to release any more tax returns than the one year's worth he's already disclosed:
Mitt Romney has been scrupulous about observing the requirements of the tax code. His income is reported and taxed in full compliance with U.S. law, and he has paid 100 percent of what he has owed. His good name means everything to him. Throughout his life in this and in other matters, he has conducted his personal and business affairs so as to be beyond reproach.So far beyond reproach, in fact, that they don't believe anyone has a right to see exactly just how far beyond reproach he went. But you can trust Mitt Romney isn't a tax crook. His good name means everything to him, after all.
Sure, in 2008, Mitt Romney was willing to give John McCain 23 years worth of tax returns during the vice presidential vetting process. And sure, McCain ultimately picked Sarah Palin over Mitt Romney. But there's nothing in those returns that would make Mitt look bad. How do we know? Because his campaign said so. Mitt Romney isn't a tax crook. Period.
If I may draw an historically inspired (if probably inappropriate) analogy, journalism a few years ago was like Kate Winslet in Titanic?lovely, enjoying first class, but lost in its own world and its own problems. It was largely oblivious to political science (Leonardo DiCaprio in this scenario)?smart, wanting to impress journalism, but carrying a bit of a chip on its shoulder. In recent years, though, we?ve begun seeing each other, dancing to Irish music, enjoying the occasional hook-up in the jalopy, enriching both our lives.
Obviously I don?t want to push this metaphor too far, since it results in political science frozen to death at the bottom of the North Atlantic.
Which is interesting to chew on. As Seth says, my thought is that it?s possible for political science to be incorporated into an article even if political scientists are not. So perhaps there are other, better measures of the discipline?s influence. Still, interesting.
Mitt and Ann Romney have released their 2010 tax return and an estimate of their 2011 return, thus offering extensive information about their personal finances.So, he's paid millions of dollars in taxes. Woohoo! Sure, it's been on tens of millions in income, and sure it's been less than 15 percent of his income, but what a great guy. We should all run out and buy him a Carvel ice cream cake to say thanks.
In approaching Romney?s taxes, a number of key points should be kept in mind.
First, as a successful businessman, Governor Romney has not only added value to our economy through his investment and business activity, but he has paid millions in taxes every year to the U.S. government.
Actually, a cake might not be enough. I almost think we should pay him to be an American. After all, as his website says, he's "added value to our economy through his investment and business activity" and at times like this, we can't afford losing him to someplace like Switzerland. In fact, I hear he's already got a bank account there. The risk is real.
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey listens April 12
as defense attorney Mark O'Mara requests the
sealing of records in the shooting case against
his client, George Zimmerman. (Reuters)
Several media outlets led by the Miami Herald,?including The New York Times, and CNN, and The First Amendment Foundation, a non-profit media advocacy group?filed a motion Monday asking a judge to unseal records in the Trayvon Martin killing in Sanford, Fla. Those records were sealed last week at the request of Mark O'Mara, the lawyer representing George Zimmerman in the killing. The 28-year-old Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder. If convicted, he could serve life in prison.
Standing with his client in a brief hearing Thursday, O'Mara said there was:
...information about some witnesses, some witness statements, some addresses, telephone numbers. There's even, I believe, though I haven't reviewed the court file, may be some information specific to Trayvon Martin, a juvenile. And the concern is, with the focus this case has gotten to date, there are going to be and already have been requests to get that information. So I am seeking on my client's behalf and just in the interests of justice on a temporary basis that we do a complete sealing of that record, that no one have access to it except for the court, the appropriate court, and court personnel and, of course, the attorneys involvedSeminole County Judge Mark Herr accepted that request but did so without signing an official order. He also noted the trial judge might reverse his decision.
The media motion states that the Florida Supreme Court has set forth three points regarding sealing of records. These include whether the closure is needed to prevent ?serious and imminent threat? to justice; whether alternatives exist beyond moving the case to another jurisdiction and whether closing the records would actually protect the rights of the accused. These points were not addressed by O'Mara, the eight-page motion states.
Citing several court precedents, the media outlets argue that:
Typically, defendants in criminal proceedings argue that publicity regarding the records will permeate the county in whcih trial will be held to such a degree that it will be impossible to empanel an impartial jury.The Tribune Co., which owns the Orlando Sentinel, and WFTV-Channel 9 plan to file their own separate motion on unsealing the records.
Here these proceedings are at the earliest possible stage and no trial date has been been set. It is facially implausible to suggest that public disclosure of these judicial and public records will taint citizens of a county as large as Seminole County to such a degree that it will be impossible to empanel an impartial jury at some unknown time in the future in connection with a trial for which no trial date has been set. In fact, closure would not be warranted even if every juror in the county were to read articles regarding the records. In case after case in Florida, courts?including the United States Suoreme Court?have held that prominence and publicity are not synonymous with prejudice and impartiality, and have cautioned against assuming that all potential jurors follow the news and retain what they read and watch. [...]
here, numerous details regarding Defendant and the underlying event have been publicly disseminated, including statement that Defendant's father (a former magistrate) made to the media regarding his son. Copies of articles and broadcasts demonstrating the breadth of information already in the public record can be made available to the Court. Thus, to the extent the sealed records contain information that has not already been publicly disseminated, Defendant must show that the release of such additional information will deprive him of his right to a fair trial, which is a showing he cannot make.
A draft of that motion, calls the sealing of the records:
"drastic and extreme?There is no reason to believe that the release of material now will affect the fairness of the trial."A bail hearing is scheduled for Zimmerman on Friday. Sometime this week, we may learn whether the judge assigned to the case, Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler, will recuse herself. Recksiedler's husband is the law partner of Mark NeJame, who currently works for CNN as an analyst on the Zimmerman case, and O'Mara has hinted he may seek to have her removed from the case.
"This criminal case has already raised serious questions?from all sides?about the ability of government to do its job and protect its citizens. Florida's historically open and transparent judicial system should not compound such suspicions by operating in the dark in this case."
As expected, the US approved the implementation date for the recently-passed Colombia Free Trade Agreement, despite continued violence against trade unionists in the country. The announcement timed with President Obama's appearance at the Summit of the[...]
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Voter ID trial continues.
League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, Inc. v. Scott Walker (Appeal Number 2012AP000584) and Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Scott Walker (Appeal Number 2012AP000557 - LV) go back to appellate courts.