Posts By Tony Chavira

Friday, February 17, 2012 / 6:16 pm

Competing for the Earth: What Capitalism has Done to Us

When we view environmentalism through the lens of capitalism, there will always be a loser.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: solar power | environment | environmental | capitalism | BrightSource | geoengineering | Bill Gates

Earth Day

In the Los Angeles Times last week, Julie Cart made a strong statement about the way we've come to interact with solar power and the solar industry:

Despite its behemoth footprint, the Ivanpah project has slipped easily into place, unencumbered by lasting legal opposition or public outcry from California's boisterous environmental community.

The public got its chance to comment at scores of open houses, but the real political horse trading took place in meetings involving solar developers, federal regulators and leaders of some of the nation's top environmental organizations.

Away from public scrutiny, they crafted a united front in favor of utility-scale solar development, often making difficult compromises.[…]

That unusual collaboration – along with generous federal subsidies and allotments of public land – has sparked a wholesale remodeling of the American desert.[…]

Even if only a few of the proposed projects are built, hundreds of square miles of wild land will be scraped clear. Several thousand miles of power transmission corridors will be created.

The desert will be scarred well beyond a human life span, and no amount of mitigation will repair it, according to scores of federal and state environmental reviews.[…]

In the fight against climate change, the Mojave Desert is about to take one for the team.

Isn't this always the case though? Developers, for one, learned long ago how comfortable the government would become with destroying vast, pristine areas. Now America is littered with gated, master-planned and homogenized communities contemptuously named after the natural landscape they've replaced: Pebble Beach, Indian Creek Island, Pembroke Pines.

Read more ...

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Friday, February 17, 2012 / 12:02 pm

Maxine Water’s Ethics Committee Recuse Themselves

But her investigation will probably remain open forever and ever. Oh, politics.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: Maxine Waters | ethics | global warming | corruption

I'm sure you know local Democratic Congresswomen Maxine Waters. She's the representative who speaks truth to power and says stuff like this:

So the house ethics committee has been investigating her on charges of using her political superpowers to help a bank in which her husband owned stock. The accusation is fair enough, as all politicians who directly benefit from legislation should be vetted for potentially corrupt practices (it's simply in their nature to abuse power once they have it).

An investigator even said that his team were conducting “a substantial amount of work to move this matter forward,” reviewing tens of thousands of pages of documents and interviewing “numerous” witnesses.

But today, 6 out of 10 people on the house ethics committee investigating her stepped down at the same time.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012 / 7:00 am

Damn LAPD Drivers!

Cops get in too many car accidents, and I yack about it on the radio.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: police force | LAPD | government | LA360

Police car crash

Recently, the L.A. Times reported about just how accident-prone our boys and girls in blue happen to be:

At any given moment in Los Angeles, scores of police cars are out on the streets — either rushing to calls for help or prowling around in search of trouble.

Despite the training cops receive in how to speed safely through traffic, they are an accident-prone bunch. Police were involved in traffic accidents more than 1,250 times in the last three years — an average of about one a day.

Most of the crashes were minor, but some resulted in life-threatening injuries or totaled police cars, or were the result of the officer violating traffic laws, according to LAPD records. In at least two incidents, the driver of another car was killed.

Last Saturday, FourStory pal Klaudia Aresti had me on her morning radio show, L.A. 360 on KTLK 1150 to chat about (a) why the accident record seems/is so bad and (b) what can ultimately be done about it.

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Monday, February 13, 2012 / 12:04 pm

Comfortably Ignoring Society’s Problems

Addressing inequality head on, since 1865.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: Mitt Romney | race | disparity | slavery | progress

the home of Free Blacks during the Civil War

The blog, Letters of Note, posted a fantastic old letter from Mr. Jourdan Anderson, a freed slave living and working in Dayton, Ohio in 1865, in response to his former master, Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee, requesting that he return to Tennessee and get back to work on the farm.

Read these highlights from the letter and jump for joy:

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Friday, February 10, 2012 / 12:31 pm

Highways Win, Transit Loses: Republicans Pick Favorites Again

Apparently, you only get rewarded in America when you're motivated by profits.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: transportation | republicans

Abraham Lincoln on a train

The NY Times published a harsh article this week slamming the transit bill currently weaseling its way through the House of Representatives. Why is it so bad, you wonder?

¶It would open nearly all of America’s coastal waters to oil and gas drilling, including environmentally fragile areas that have long been off limits. The ostensible purpose is to raise revenue to help make up what has become an annual shortfall for transportation financing. But it is really just one more attempt to promote the Republicans’ drill-now-drill-everywhere agenda and the interests of their industry patrons.

¶It would demolish significant environmental protections by imposing arbitrary deadlines on legally mandated environmental reviews of proposed road and highway projects, and by ceding to state highway agencies the authority to decide whether such reviews should occur.

But the bill was only the tip of a horrific iceberg of anti-transportation legislation led and approved by non-other than our own wacky gang of short-sighted, anti-environmental capitalists, the House Republicans. Yonah Freemark posted a little breakdown of the other slick proposals our ingenious elected officials brought to the floor for legitimate (or just rhetorical) consideration, which make these environmentally destructive provisions look child's play. Let me explain a few of them:

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Friday, February 3, 2012 / 5:52 pm

Whoa, Ron Paul! Whoa!

Anonymous found a direct tie between Ron Paul and fervent white supremacists? More proof that Jesus was black.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: Ron Paul | why Ron Paul is wrong about everything ever | white supremacists

The KKK's  Don Black & Ron Paul

I figured Ron Paul was walking the line, but I never figured he stepped this far over it:

The “anti-fascist” wing of the “Anonymous” hacker group has broken into a website run by the white supremacist American Third Position (A3P), and released a document dump consisting of private forum messages, emails, organizational notes, and other personal information.

The documents show numerous connections between Republican candidate Ron Paul and these racist Neanderthals; they’re heavily involved in campaigning for Paul, and according to the messages, have held regular meetings with Ron Paul himself: Ron Paul, the American Third Position Party and Stormfront.

Also revealed: Ron Paul has held meetings with A3P and Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party — the notorious UK fascist group with neo-Nazi roots.

Well, I guess I need to go back and amend a few articles…

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Friday, February 3, 2012 / 4:02 pm

Futuristic Technologies, Backwards Cities

Why it's easy to be social online and so damn hard to be social in our crappy city spaces.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: futurism | cities | urbanism | Facebook | Twitter

What if facebook were a city?

The British Psychological Society published an interesting article the other day on what your choice of social networking says about your personality. Here’s the good stuff:

People who used Facebook mostly for socialising tended to score more highly on sociability and neuroticism (consistent with past research suggesting that shy people use the site to forge social ties and combat loneliness). Social use of Twitter correlated with higher sociability and openness (but not neuroticism) and with lower scores on conscientiousness. This suggests that social Twitter users don't use it so much to combat loneliness, but more as a form of social procrastination.

What about using the sites as an informational tool? There was an intriguing divergence here. People who said they used Facebook as an informational tool tended to score higher on neuroticism, sociability, extraversion and openness, but lower on conscientiousness and “need for cognition”. Informational users of Twitter were the mirror opposite: they scored higher on conscientiousness and “need for cognition”, but lower on neuroticism, extraversion and sociability. The researchers interpreted these patterns as suggesting that Facebook users seek and share information as a way of avoiding more cognitively demanding sources such as journal articles and newspaper reports. Twitter users, by contrast, use the site for its cognitive stimulation - as a way of uncovering useful information and material without socialising (this was particularly true for older participants).

In other words, people use different sites for different reasons. Yet, the most interesting thing (I feel) is that Facebook has 500 million subscribers while Twitter has 200 million. Does that mean that people are more extroverted in general, or just that people are more extroverted online? Does it mean that two out of every seven people are nervous about direct social interaction and just want to be mentally stimulated? Or does it mean that five out of every seven are highly neurotic and need be to around others?

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Friday, February 3, 2012 / 2:18 pm

And Women Live to Fight Another Day!

Susan G Komen finally wakes up, and FourStory revels in their turnabout.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: health | women's health | Planned Parenthood | Susan G. Komen | feminism!

partly pink handgun

Be glad and rejoice!

America's largest breast cancer advocacy group has been forced to make a self-abasing retraction of its plan to cut funding for Planned Parenthood following a huge outcry against the decision.

Susan G Komen for the Cure, a Dallas-based organisation, has announced that it will honour existing grants to Planned Parenthood and allow the organisation to continue to apply for future funding – a U-turn from its earlier decision to cut its annual $650,000 provision.

Obviously, we're talking about the lives of actual people here and not just a public fiasco. Unfortunately, it took the Susan G Komen Foundation a day or two to figure that out. At least they came to their senses (which is a lot more than I can say for Congressional Republicans).

I guess you can only slap the color pink on so many items before the gesture starts to feel a little empty. Relative to actually saving women's lives with breast cancer screenings, I mean.

So here's the score so far: Rebecca Schoenkopf: 1. Dogmatic Extremists: 0.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012 / 8:00 pm

Yesterday: A Sad Day for Secular Sanity

A religious nation we are not. Maybe some legislators didn't get that memo.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: women's health | creationism | Planned Parenthood

editorial cartoon

I never figured the people of the great state of Indiana as susceptible to insanity. Then I read this:

Yesterday, after almost no debate, the Indiana State Senate approved a bill that would allow its schools to teach the origin stories of various religions when a class touches on the origin of life. It now moves on to the state's House, where one of its cosponsors is currently the Speaker of the House.
Although the bill as written could be used to create a comparative religion class, its sponsor, Senator Dennis Kruse, has made it clear that he hopes to see it foster the teaching of creationism in science classes. The original text of the bill explicitly mentioned creation science; it has since been modified to mention a variety of religions, including Scientology. In a brief interview, Kruse expressed disdain for evolution, calling it a “Johnny-come-lately” theory.

But that's not all! Social Conservatives were not content with simply reducing the quality of education in our public schools when science education is more important than ever. They also don't want non-profit women's health organizations to spend any money on Planned Parenthood.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012 / 8:47 pm

ACTA: A Government-Approved International Conspiracy

SOPA and PIPA were merely pawns. ACTA is their King AND Queen.

by Tony Chavira

Tags: SOPA/PIPA | ACTA | conspiracy

ACTA eats the world

So here's the timeline:

PIPA was introduced in the Senate on May 12, 2011.

SOPA was introduced in the house on October 26, 2011.

After plenty of protesting, they were both shut down in January 2012.

The discussion paper that would eventually become ACTA spilt onto Wikileaks in May 2008. It was organized as a draft trade agreement that would set up an international, non-governmental agency that would force ISPs to provide information about subscribers who are (or have been) suspects of copyright infringement. ACTA requires every country that signs it to illegalize “widespread distribution [of anything] for infringing purposes,” criminalizes the process of circumventing DRM, and abide by a system for how copyright holders should receive damages.

In effect, the ACTA Oversight Council (as they call themselves) would be required to shut down anything on the internet that violates anything with a copyright.

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