from GRIST: The US Green Economy Is Now Worth $1.3 Trillion

U.S. green economy now rakes in more than $1.3 trillion each year.

Prepare yourself for a green economic future, because according to a new analysis, low-carbon and resource-efficient businesses are now estimated to generate more than $1.3 trillion in sales in the United States each year.

The University College London study looked at the U.S. green economy from 2013 to 2016 and found that green jobs in the U.S. jumped by 20 percent — that’s 1.5 million jobs — while the coal industry saw a plunge of 37,000 jobs. The green economy now employs about 9.5 million Americans. Broken down by industry, the renewables sector — particularly wind energy — demonstrated the strongest area of growth between 2015 and 2016.

The green economy’s growth is so strong, according to the report’s authors, that further investment in the fossil fuel industry could backfire, hurting the U.S. economy as other countries double down their investments for a greener future.

“Given the climate change emergency and the employment slump in fossil fuel industry, it only makes sense that future investment should focus on growth in the green sector,” Professor Mark Maslin, a co-author of the study, said in a statement. The study’s researchers plan on updating the data beyond 2016, including a clearer vision of a global green trade.

Posted in Climate Change

Organizing Opportunity?

From today’s NY Times

Maybe we could get schools like Notre Dame to adopt the Duke-UNC curriculum . . .

U.S. Orders Duke and U.N.C. to “Recast Tone” in Mideast Studies

Caption — The chapel at Duke University. The Education Department is investigating a Middle East studies program that the university runs jointly with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

      By Erica L. Green       Sept. 19, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Education Department has ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake the Middle East studies program run jointly by the two schools after concluding that it was offering students a biased curriculum that, among other complaints, did not present enough “positive” imagery of Judaism and Christianity in the region.

In a rare instance of federal intervention in college course content, the department asserted that the universities’ Middle East program violated the standards of a federal program that awards funding to international studies and foreign language programs. The inquiry was part of a far-reaching investigation into the program by the department, which under Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, has become increasingly aggressive in going after perceived anti-Israel bias in higher education.

That focus appears to reflect the views of an agency leadership that includes a civil rights chief, Kenneth L. Marcus, who has made a career of pro-Israel advocacy and has waged a yearslong campaign to delegitimize and defund Middle East studies programs that he has criticized as rife with anti-Israel bias.

In this case, the department homed in on what officials saw as a program that focused on the region’s Muslim population at the expense of its religious minorities. In the North Carolina program’s outreach to elementary and secondary school students, the department said, there was “a considerable emphasis placed on the understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.”

Too few of the Duke-U.N.C. programs focused on “the historic discrimination faced by, and current circumstances of, religious minorities in the Middle East, including Christians, Jews, Baha’is, Yazidis, Kurds, Druze and others,” the department said.

With its actions, the department entered the debate over Israel and Palestinians that has roiled campuses around the country.

The department’s action “should be a wake-up call,” said Miriam Elman, an associate professor at Syracuse University and the executive director of the Academic Engagement Network, which opposes the boycott-Israel movement that has animated campus activism across the country. She added, “What they’re saying is, ‘If you want to be biased and show an unbalanced view of the Middle East, you can do that, but you’re not going to get federal and taxpayer money.’”

Palestinian rights groups accused the Education Department of intimidation and infringing on academic freedom.

“They really want to send the message that if you want to criticize Israel, then the federal government is going to look very closely at your entire program and micromanage it to death,” said Zoha Khalili, a staff lawyer at Palestine Legal, one such group. The department’s intervention, she added, “sends a message to Middle Eastern studies programs that their continued existence depends on their willingness to toe the government line on Israel.”

In a letter to university officials, the assistant secretary for postsecondary education, Robert King, wrote that programs run by the Duke-U.N.C. Consortium for Middle East Studies appeared to be misaligned with the federal grant they had received. Title VI of the Higher Education Act awards funding to colleges “establishing, strengthening and operating a diverse network of undergraduate foreign language and area or international studies centers and programs.”

The Education Department “believes” the Middle Eastern studies consortium “has failed to carefully distinguish between activities lawfully funded under Title VI and other activities” that are “plainly unqualified for taxpayer support,” Mr. King wrote.

The letter, published this week in the Federal Register, said that the consortium’s records on the number of students it had enrolled in foreign language studies — a cornerstone of the federal grant program — were unclear, and that “it seems clear foreign language instruction and area studies advancing the security and economic stability of the United States have taken ‘a back seat’ to other priorities.”

Mr. King wrote that the department believed other offerings, like a conference focused on “love and desire in modern Iran” and another focused on Middle East film criticism, “have little or no relevance to Title VI.” The department wrote the consortium’s programming also “appears to lack balance.”

The department also criticized the consortium’s teacher training programs for focusing on issues like “unconscious bias, serving L.G.B.T.I.Q. youth in schools, culture and the media, diverse books for the classroom and more.” They said that it had a “startling lack of focus on geography, geopolitical issues, history and language.”

The administration ordered the consortium to submit a revised schedule of events it planned to support and a full list of the courses it offers and the professors working in its Middle East studies program. The department also directed the consortium to demonstrate that it had “effective institutional controls” to stay compliant with the administration’s interpretation of the Higher Education Act. The universities were given until Sept. 22, only days before the department is scheduled to approve funding on Sept. 30.

A spokesman for Duke declined to comment, referring questions to the University of North Carolina. A spokeswoman for the U.N.C. acknowledged receipt of the letter.

“The consortium deeply values its partnership with the Department of Education and has always been strongly committed to complying with the purposes and requirements of the Title VI program,” the university said in a statement. “In keeping with the spirit of this partnership, the consortium is committed to working with the department to provide more information about its programs.”

To advocacy groups enmeshed in academic battles over Israel, the new investigation was not surprising.

Last year, the department reopened a case into anti-Jewish bias at Rutgers University that the Obama administration had closed with no finding of wrongdoing. In reconsidering the case, Mr. Marcus said the Education Department would be using a State Department definition of anti-Semitism that, among other things, labels “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” anti-Jewish bigotry, suggesting that it had been adopted by his office. The Education Department has not adopted that definition.

In June, Ms. DeVos said she had ordered an investigation into whether the Duke-U.N.C. consortium had misused any of the $235,000 it received in Title VI grants, including to sponsor an event in March called “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities.” Representative George Holding, Republican of North Carolina, had requested that Ms. DeVos investigate whether federal funding was used to host the conference, which constituents had said was rife with “radical anti-Israel bias.”

Mr. Holding said the conference featured active members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel — known as B.D.S. — and featured panelists who “distorted facts and misrepresented the complex situation in Gaza.” He said a video shown at the conference featured a performer who sang a “brazenly anti-Semitic song.”

But some groups came to the defense of the Middle East studies consortium. Tallie Ben Daniel, the research and education manager at Jewish Voice for Peace, a liberal group that advocates Palestinian rights, said the investigation was the latest attempt by the Trump administration “to enforce a neoconservative agenda onto spaces of academic inquiry and exploration.” She called the consortium’s curriculum “rich and diverse.”

To critics like Ms. Daniel, the targeting of the U.N.C.-Duke program appeared to be a continuation of efforts that predated the Trump administration. A group founded by Mr. Marcus, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, has pressed Education Department and Congress for years to crack down on Middle East studies programs that the center claimed promoted an anti-Israel bias.

But Ms. Elman, the professor at Syracuse, said the department’s scrutiny of the programs was long overdue.

“To get Title VI, you really have to strive for viewpoint diversity,” she said. “This is what our students want. They don’t want to be indoctrinated. They want both sides. It’s possible to do that and still make people uncomfortable.”

Before joining the Education Department, Mr. Marcus had aggressively lobbied for the Higher Education Act to crack down on Middle East studies programs, and criticized both the Education Department and Congress for failing to hold institutions accountable for violating the law’s “diverse perspectives” requirement.

In 2014, he wrote an opinion article that assailed the Title VI program for “being used to support biased and academically worthless programming on college campuses,” leaving students and faculty with opposing views “ostracized and threatened.”

“Aside from their intellectual vapidity,” Mr. Marcus wrote, “many of these programs poison the atmosphere on campus.”

He called on the department to establish a complaint process that would prompt extensive reviews of entire programs like the one being undertaken into U.N.C. and Duke.
A version of this article appears in print on Sept. 20, 2019, Section A, Page 1 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Demands Colleges Recast Mideast Focus.

Posted in Governance

How We Do Science

from the Annual Report of the United Kingdom Overseas Conservation Forum

Posted in Fun

Island Obliteration

This is simply a horrible story and I have no comment. . . .

from Business Insider

F-35s and F-15s just obliterated an entire Iraqi island to root out ISIS fighters

by Ellen Ioanes        Sep. 10, 2019, 12:55 PM

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US Air Force F-15 Strike Eagles and F-35 Lightning II aircraft dropped 80,000 pounds of bombs on an island in Iraq’s Salah al-Din province believed to be used as a transit point for ISIS fighters between Syrian and Iraqi cities.

“We’re denying Daesh the ability to hide on Qanus Island,” Maj. Gen. Eric T. Hill, the commander of Operation Inherent Resolve’s Special Operations Joint Task Force, said in a press release, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Although President Donald Trump said earlier this year that ISIS was defeated, the militant group has been resurgent in Iraq and Syria, at least partly because of Trump’s decisions to pull troops out of Syria, create a diplomatic vacuum in Iraq, and focus attention in the region on Iranian activity.

On Tuesday, US and Iraqi forces dropped 80,000 pounds of munitions on Qanus Island, in Iraq’s Salah-al-Din province, to destroy what Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) called a “safe haven” for ISIS fighters traveling from Syria into Iraq.

“We’re denying Daesh the ability to hide on Qanus Island,” Maj. Gen. Eric T. Hill, the commander of OIR’s Special Operations Joint Task Force, said in a press release, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Myles Caggins tweeted a video of the operation on Tuesday morning that shows bombs carpeting the tree-lined island from end to end, saying the island was “Daesh infested.”

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Airstrikes on Qanus Island, Iraq, on September 10.
—OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) September 10, 2019

Air Force Central Command tweeted an additional statement, saying that the strikes come at the “behest of the Iraqi government” and that Qanus Island is believed to be “a major transit hub and safe haven for Daesh.”

A spokesperson for OIR told Insider that ISIS casualties were still being assessed but that there were no casualties for the coalition or the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services. A small cache of abandoned weapons was found on the island, the spokesperson said. The spokesperson said the number of ISIS militants on the island at the time of the strike was unknown.

After the group’s supposed defeat in March, the Islamic State regrouped in Syria and Iraq, partly as a result of troop withdrawal in Syria and a diplomatic vacuum in Iraq, according to a Pentagon Inspector General’s report. The report also blamed Trump’s focus on Iran for the resurgence, saying that the administration’s insufficient attention to Iraq and Syria also contributed to ISIS’s ability to regroup, even though it has lost its caliphate.

While ISIS is not nearly as powerful as it once was — the Pentagon estimates the group has only 14,000 to 18,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria at present, compared with the CIA estimate of between 20,000 and 31,500 in 2014 — it is still carrying out assassinations, crop burnings, ambushes, and suicide attacks.

OIR said that it targeted the area because ISIS militants were using the tiny island to transit from Syria and the Jazeera desert into the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Makhmour, and the Kirkuk region. The dense vegetation there allowed militants to hide easily, according to OIR.

The airstrikes, carried out by US Air Force F-35 Lightning II and F15 Strike Eagles, came in the midst of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s new policy to consider flights in Iraqi airspace hostile unless they are preapproved or a medical emergency. That policy took effect on August 15. These aircraft typically carry Joint Direct Attack Munitions, which are precision-guided air-to-surface munitions.

According to the release, Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services are carrying out additional ground operations on the island to “destroy any remaining Fallul Daesh on the island.”

Posted in Governance, Small Island

Barbuda Two Years After Hurricane Irma — Same ol’, same ol’

Not, we all hope, a model for the reconstruction of the northern Bahamas after Dorian.

from the on-line Antigua Newsroom, as linked for us by Kevel Lindsay <https://antiguanewsroom.com/barbuda-two-years-after-hurricane-irma/ >

Barbuda Two Years After Hurricane Irma

September 5, 2019

(PRESS RELEASE)

Barbudans await proactive action by decision makers in the regional judicial system to commit to hearing four high profile court cases that remain unresolved. Four legal actions have been filed over the same amount of years, ‘challenging’ the government’s changes to centuries old land tenure system and introducing unsustainable and speculative development to the island, without consulting with the people of Barbuda.

The pending cases were filed against the Government of Antigua and Barbuda from 2015 going through to 2018 as follows:

  • 2015 Mackenzie Frank v Attorney General, Barbuda Council and Paradise Found (Robert De Niro).
  • 2016 Trevor Walker MP, Mackenzie Frank and 110 Petitioners v Attorney General and Paradise Found (Robert De Niro).
  • 2018 Trevor Walker MP, Mackenzie Frank, Wayde Burton and Barbuda Council v Attorney General.
  • 2018 John Mussington and Jackie Frank v Development Control Authority (DCA), Antigua and Barbuda Airports Authority (ABAA), The Attorney General of Antigua and Barbuda and the Barbuda Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.

Two of the cases are pending in the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, and two still are pending at High Court level on Barbuda’s ‘sister isle’, Antigua.

John Mussington a Barbudan living in Barbuda stated, “The extensive delay and lack of progress with our recovery feels like a deliberate ploy by the government to punish Barbudans for rejecting its version of ‘development’ plans, and to discourage return and re-establishment of the community. We as a people are dedicated to tackling these issues head on; we will not give up.”

As Barbudans at home and around the world reflect on the lack of consistent progress with the rebuilding and revitalisation of the island post Irma, sustainable development planning and ethical government conduct is still very much a critical area of global public interest.

Since Hurricane Irma impacted Barbuda on September 5 2017, islanders of Barbuda have faced a bitter battle between speculative development and traditional land tenure. More recently concerns have been raised that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda have been brokering deals and allowing the lease of lands, under the new Barbuda Land Act of 2018 by allowing land to be bought and sold converting leases into freehold.

An example of such a deal involves the Coco Point Lodge lease. Coco Point Lodge is the first hotel in Barbuda, and it was built in 1959. The lease was purportedly purchased by John Paul DeJoria, a global entrepreneur and billionaire, with his partners John B. Turbidy and Steve Adelson joined together through The Peace Love and Happiness Partnership (PLH) as the leaseholders and financial sponsors of Barbuda Ocean Club. They, in conjunction with the Discovery Land Company, an Arizona, USA based group, are developing the Barbuda Ocean Club, a community advertised as a private residential resort community. Through this deal and one previously brokered with the collective by the Government of Antigua of Barbuda, DeJoria-Turbidy-Adelson group was granted a whopping 834 acres of land, including land that has been designated in 2005 as protected wetland sites under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.

Natasha Lightfoot, Associate Professor in the Columbia University Department of History noted, “Small islands in the region bear the brunt of industrialized nations’ cavalier approach to the environment. The images of the Bahamas recall Barbuda, the US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St Martin, Anguilla and Puerto Rico 2 years ago. A category 5 + hurricane arrival produces more than a repeating island – it’s the recurrence in nature of the violence of extractive capitalism in colonial contexts.”

Lawyer Beverly George, of Antiguan and Barbudan descendent now based in New York recalled, “The centuries’ old maxim, that justice delayed is justice denied is clearly apparent here. While Barbudans wait for their cases to be heard, and for their government to deliver essential services, their lands are being traded for the modern-day equivalent of beads and trinkets, without their input. Unless real action is taken by the Council, the government and the courts, justice for Barbudans’ will most certainly be denied and small victories, if any, will be rendered pyrrhic. “

Mussington added, “I will say this again, we as Barbudans need to be consulted and kept abreast of the government’s intentions. We will defend our right to participate in the planning and to direct our own development. Given the continued dire situation in Barbuda post Irma, forced evacuation and prolonged exclusion from returning we must ask: Wealth and jobs for whom, at what cost and what consequences? The elimination of Barbudans as a people with a unique culture and history? The abolition of our communal land system and redundancy of our local government system and our Council? Destruction of our Lagoon National Park, designated RAMSAR Convention site and home to our magnificent Frigate Bird? Menial, transient jobs for some? Not on our watch, we deserve better.”

There is continued collective concern among the island’s population about what the impact will be of the selling of leases for approximately 100 residences at Coco Point and a further 450 residences at Palmetto, whilst pristine protected coastline and mangroves are being destroyed daily as building work continues.

Media Contact:

Barbuda Silent No More

www.facebook.com/barbudasilentnomore

Email: barbudasilentnomore

Posted in Fun

The Unbreakable Virgin Islanders — 2017 was REALLY TOUGH.

Article from the St. John Tradewinds < https://www.stjohntradewinds.com/filmmaker-focuses-on-unbreakable-virgin-islanders/ >

Filmmaker Focuses on ‘Unbreakable Virgin Islanders’
By Tradewinds Staff – September 3, 2019

Photo Caption: Peter Bailey introduces his documentary to a group of Virgin Islanders at the Helen Mills Theater in Manhattan. (Source photo by Shaun Pennington)

Journalist Peter Bailey’s anger at the failure of national media outlets to acknowledge the fortitude of Virgin Islanders after the historic hurricanes of 2017 spurred him to document the story himself.

On Saturday, Bailey screened his film, “Paradise Discovered: The Unbreakable Virgin Islanders,” for a small gathering of mostly Virgin Islanders at the Helen Mills Theater in Manhattan.

“We were the only place in modern history to survive two Cat 5 storms in two weeks,” Bailey said, speaking of the U.S. Virgin Islands as he introduced the film. “That makes us legendary people.”

Bailey was born and raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

During the 81-minute documentary that he began filming in March 2018 Bailey interviewed friends, family members and government officials about their experience of epic hurricanes Irma and Maria, which slammed the Virgin Islands two weeks apart in September 2017, and the long, drawn-out aftermath that continues.

One of the featured officials, then-education commissioner Sharon McCollum, spoke of immigrating to the Virgin Islands from Louisiana in the early ’80s, driven by the Civil Rights Movement of her youth and her experience as a person of color in the South and partly because of the lure of the physical beauty of the U.S. Virgin Islands. She also outlined the plan she developed to get Virgin Islands children back into makeshift classrooms after the devastation of the storms.
The other reality that McCollum addressed along with others in the film, was the massive exodus that occurred. Thousands of people left by any means possible in the wake of “Irmaria,” as the two back-to-back super storms were dubbed.

For those who didn’t or couldn’t leave, Bailey poignantly depicted the particular hardships faced by families with elderly and ill members by openly revealing his own story.

Bailey, who has lived in Miami for 14 years, happened to be at home on St. Thomas when Irma struck. He made the decision to stay through Maria as well. His father, a former pastor, had been suffering from Alzheimers, leaving his then 74-year-old mother along with his brother as primary care givers for the nearly 80-year-old Stephen Bailey.

Bailey’s mother and brother, Marcus, figure prominently in the film along with some friends in his Frydenhoj neighborhood.

Along with his love of family and friend’s Bailey’s deepest commitment is to young people, who are also featured in “Unbreakable Virgin Islanders.” At the Miami Herald, he wrote a series titled “On the Margins,” that won the 2007 award for best education reporting throughout Florida from the Society of Professional Journalists. On his NiteCap show, Bailey interviews entertainers and news makers before a live audience of young people, and discusses social issues that are pertinent to his young followers.

Saturday’s showing was the 16th for the film Bailey intends to enter into several film festivals. Many of the prior screenings have occurred at universities and colleges, including the University of Southern California; Bailey’s alma mater, the University of Delaware; and Brown University. Bailey’s interest in education and young people is foremost in his drive to create meaningful arenas where young people can be heard and also informed, he said, which makes showing the film at schools a natural choice.

The film is dedicated to Bailey’s father, who died in September 2018.

Original Source: https://stjohnsource.com/2019/09/03/filmmaker-focuses-on-unbreakable-virgin-islanders/

Posted in Fun

At Last! An Understandable ICE Policy

News in Brief from The Onion

ICE Opens Interdimensional Detention Center To Indefinitely Imprison Immigrants Across Infinite Number Of Multiverses

Today 11:36am

BRANE MULTIVERSE 378-C—In an effort to better comply with recent moves to abolish limits on migrant detention, ICE officials announced Thursday that they planned to open an interdimensional detention center to indefinitely imprison migrants across an infinite number of multiverses.

“With our new hyperspace-based detention center, we’ll be able to adhere to new White House policies by confining migrants in an endless number of variations of possible universes where earthly concepts such as ‘time’ and ‘eternity’ cease to have any meaning,” said ICE acting director Matthew Albence from the newly built detention center, adding that bending spacetime upon itself would expand the agency’s capacity to 700 vigintillion detainment cells while allowing them to hold asylum-seekers without trial in relativistic stasis for expanses of time eclipsing any experienced in the known universe.

“The important thing is that we use tools such as hyperdimensional chambers to ease crowding in a humane way, such as by causing unlawful immigrants to simply vanish into an ultra-dense black hole from which no matter or light can ever return.”

At press time, Albence confirmed that the agency was also exploring using quantum entanglement to allow for them to simultaneous reunite and separate immigrant families an endless number of times along parallel timelines.

[Admittedly, it’s still not humane, but now it’s understandable because it’s so obviously Klingon.    bp]

Posted in Fun, Governance