Browsing articles from "April, 2017"

Georgia Election Takes National Stage

Apr 20, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Georgia Election Takes National Stage

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is supporting Democrat Jon Ossoff’s congressional campaign in Georgia. His opponent Republican Karen Handel hopes Donald Trump will campaign for her.

Roger Waters Reveals First Album In 24 Years: ‘Is This The Life We Really Want?’

Apr 20, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Roger Waters Reveals First Album In 24 Years: ‘Is This The Life We Really Want?’

Roger Waters

Roger Waters is set to release his first album of all-new rock songs in nearly 25 years. Is This The Life We Really Want? was produced by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck, U2) and is due out June 2 on Columbia Records. Water’s previous solo studio release was 1992’s Amused To Death.

The Politics And Passions Of Roger Waters

Waters, known for his scathing political and social commentaries, says the new record reflects an age of uncertainty and unrest.

News of Is This The Life We Really Want? comes just ahead of a U.S. tour by Waters, which runs from May 26 through the end of October.

Here’s the full track list:

“When We Were Young”
“‘Déjà Vu”
“‘The Last Refugee”
“‘Picture That”
“‘Broken Bones”
“‘Is This The Life We Really Want?”
“‘Bird In A Gale”
“‘The Most Beautiful Girl”
“Smell The Roses”
“Wait For Her”
“Oceans Apart”
“Part of Me Died”

For Earth Day, Learn About Local Science

Apr 20, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on For Earth Day, Learn About Local Science

Molly, a female otter who came to the Virginia Living Museum from an aquarium in San Francisco in 2014.

Courtesy of Virginia Living Museum

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Courtesy of Virginia Living Museum

Molly, a female otter who came to the Virginia Living Museum from an aquarium in San Francisco in 2014.

Courtesy of Virginia Living Museum

On a sunny Spring day last week, I met two Northern River Otters called Moe and Molly at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, a few towns over from where I live.

They were introduced to me by George Mathews, curatorial director of the VLM — and friend, especially, to Moe.

As a youngster, Moe, now about age 12, had been taken in as a pet by someone living in Maryland after his mother was struck and killed by a boat propeller. Moe was confined to a bathtub — except when he was taken outdoors in a wagon or on a leash.

In behavior underscoring the fact that wild animals are not meant to be pets, Moe then bit or scratched a neighbor. At age four months, through arrangement with a Maryland zoo, he ended up at the VLM.

There, Mathews helped to raise Moe and to ease his transition in adapting to the outdoor otter pool — larger and deeper, of course, than a bathtub. At one point at the beginning, Mathews climbed right into the pool with Moe to offer supervision and support. (Mathews no longer does that or has any close physical contact with Moe.)

Now, Moe lives with Molly, a female otter who came to the VLM in 2014 from an aquarium in San Francisco; the two interact, George told me, in a friendly way, such that there’s hope for breeding in the future.

The timing of my visit to Molly and Moe wasn’t random. We’re now coming up on a day — Saturday, April 22 — that doubles this year both as Earth Day and the day for the March for Science in Washington, DC, and around the world. It seemed a good time to explore local science and science education carried out for animals and our planet. (The VLM has Earth Day activities of its own planned.)

The VLM’s mission is summed up in this phrase: “Native animals in natural habitats.” Though accredited both by the Association of Zoos Aquariums (as well as the American Alliance of Museums), it’s neither a zoo nor an aquarium. It’s not the case that all the animals at the VLM are rescues — a fact that leaves open the door for discussion about keeping animals in captivity — but over and over again during the 90-minute tour I met animals who have been given a second chance at the VLM.

Here are some of them:

  • A gorgeous and solidly built bobcat, age between 12-15 years, who had, like Moe, been someone’s pet. As I watched her (she hasn’t been named) trotting through her outdoor enclosure, I found it hard to contemplate the details of her earlier life before she came to the VLM: Her tendons had been severed, and she was fed a diet of deer meat. Bobcats are largely solitary, and this one, George told me, does not get along with other cats. She would — it was clear to me and as was true for the other rescued animals I met — never survive in the wild.
  • Two red foxes, one male and one female. Rescued from a roadside zoo in Virginia, they had, for two years, lived only on concrete — and now live in an outdoor VLM enclosure.
  • A great blue heron, who resides in the Coastal Plain Aviary enclosure with numerous birds of other species, including a yellow-crowned night heron and an egret, estimated to be about 25 years old. This bird is fully able to fly, and ascends up into the enclosure’s trees at will. But, she or he has a crossed bill (the ends of the bill don’t fit together properly), and thus can’t forage normally. Eating chopped fish from a pan, though, works out just fine, and twice a year the bill is trimmed back by VLM staff to avoid further overgrowth.
  • Two bald eagles, both males who have lived about 8 years together in a separate enclosure not far from the great blue heron’s. One of the pair had hit a power line in flight, and the other a building; now, neither can fly up higher than about a foot. Wild birds, including eagles, sometimes “visit” the pair: They perch in the trees above the enclosure and communicate vocally.
  • A nurse shark named Fred, who had been a pet on Long Island. When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, his tank was destroyed and he needed a new home: VLM staff rescued him and brought him to Virginia.

Chris Crippen, aquarium curator at the VLM, described Fred to me as “super tame” and as an animal who (because of his early life as a pet) seeks physical contact with people. Fred is completely unreleasable into the wild because of this.

Crippen also pointed out two sandbar sharks to me, who came to the VLM from a research project carried out by the College of William and Mary’s Eastern Shore Lab of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The VLM will release these two back into the wild either at the end of this coming summer, or possibly next May. As Crippen put it, this translates to a “low impact” exhibit policy on these fish.

Almost without exception, the animals I met at the VLM were active in their enclosures, interacting socially with other animals or with some aspect of their environment.

That fact stays with me after my visit — as does the good science going on right in my backyard.

So, a suggestion:

In the spirit of Earth Day, why not check out local science going on in your own backyards — or discussions going on in science cafes and book clubs?

And a final note about otters Molly and Moe:

I’ve written before here at 13.7 about how, if we’re going to look closely at animals via live-streaming cameras, we should first appreciate that they are individuals with their own needs, concerns, and life histories. We can, indeed, do that with Moe and Molly — and so in that spirit, check out the VLM’s ottercam.

Barbara J. King is an anthropology professor emerita at the College of William and Mary. She often writes about the cognition, emotion and welfare of animals, and about biological anthropology, human evolution and gender issues. Barbara’s new book is Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat. You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape

Court Rulings Block 2 Scheduled Executions Today In Arkansas

Apr 20, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Court Rulings Block 2 Scheduled Executions Today In Arkansas

Death row inmates Stacey Johnson (left) and Ledell Lee are both scheduled to be put to death today, though court rulings have put those executions on hold for now.


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Death row inmates Stacey Johnson (left) and Ledell Lee are both scheduled to be put to death today, though court rulings have put those executions on hold for now.


Arkansas’ attempt to carry out a spate of executions before the end of the month has run into two fresh legal obstacles.

The first, a ruling from the Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday, granted a stay of execution to prisoner Stacey Johnson, who is scheduled to die tonight.

The second, a ruling from Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Alice Gray, effectively stays all the scheduled executions over concerns about how the state obtained one of the three drugs in its lethal injection protocol.

Gray said that drug, vecuronium bromide, “was essentially obtained illegally by the state,” NPR member station KUAR’s Jacob Kauffman told Morning Edition.

McKesson Corp., a San Francisco-based medical supply company, “claimed that the state deliberately circumvented them to use the drugs for executions. They were told the drug would only be used in prison health clinics for its proper medicinal use, as opposed to putting prisoners to death.”

Arkansas Readies For 8 Executions, Despite Outcry Over Pace, Method

The Associated Press reported that “Judd Deere, a spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, said the state will appeal that ruling.”

On Friday, a different Pulaski County judge issued a similar ruling on vecuronium bromide. Judge Wendell Griffin’s decision was vacated Monday by the Arkansas Supreme Court, as we reported. In fact, the court ordered Griffin removed from all death penalty cases after photos emerged of him participating in a rally against the executions. Arkansas had initially scheduled eight inmates to die over an 11-day period in April — the fastest pace of executions in decades.

The state of Arkansas has justified the pace of the scheduled executions because another lethal injection drug, the sedative midazolam, before it expires at the end of April.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he was “surprised and disappointed” by Wednesday’s state Supreme Court stay of Johnson’s execution. “When I set the dates, I knew there could be delays in one or more of the cases, but I expected the courts to allow the juries’ sentences to be carried out since each case has been reviewed multiple times by the Arkansas Supreme Court, which affirmed the guilt of each.”

Regarding Johnson’s stay of execution, it’s not clear whether Rutledge will file an appeal. “I am evaluating options on how to proceed to ensure that justice is carried out,” she said in a statement Wednesday night.

Johnson and Ledell Lee, the other prisoner who was scheduled to be executed tonight, both say they are innocent. “They both want the use of new DNA technology, new DNA testing, that they haven’t gotten since they were first convicted in the early 90s,” Kauffman reported.

Lawyers for Lee are also petitioning for a reprieve from the state’s top court, which has yet to issue a ruling.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette says the state is going forward with preparations for tonight’s executions even though they are currently on hold:

“In preparation for their scheduled executions, Johnson and Lee were moved Tuesday to the Cummins Unit, the location of the state’s execution chamber, a prisons spokesman said Wednesday.

“The spokesman, Solomon Graves, said the two are being held in separate cells adjacent to the execution chamber, which is a short drive down the road from the Varner Unit, another prison that houses death-row inmates.

“Neither inmate had been moved back to the Varner Unit as of Wednesday evening, and Graves said the prison was awaiting guidance from the governor and attorney general.”

Kauffman reported that the uncertainty is stressful for the victims’ families. “But in many ways,” he says, “it’s emotions they’ve experienced before, since these executions have been going through different legal hurdles for 20 years or so.”

‘Model Minority’ Myth Again Used As A Racial Wedge Between Asians And Blacks

Apr 19, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on ‘Model Minority’ Myth Again Used As A Racial Wedge Between Asians And Blacks

The perception of universal success among Asian Americans is being wielded to downplay racism’s role in the persistent struggles of other minority groups — especially black Americans.

Chelsea Beck/NPR

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Chelsea Beck/NPR

The perception of universal success among Asian Americans is being wielded to downplay racism’s role in the persistent struggles of other minority groups — especially black Americans.

Chelsea Beck/NPR

A piece from New York Magazine‘s Andrew Sullivan over the weekend ended with an old, well-worn trope: Asian Americans, with their “solid two-parent family structures,” are a shining example of how to overcome discrimination. An essay that began by imagining why Democrats feel sorry for Hillary Clinton — and then detoured to President Donald Trump’s policies — drifted to this troubling ending:

“Today, Asian-Americans are among the most prosperous, well-educated, and successful ethnic groups in America. What gives? It couldn’t possibly be that they maintained solid two-parent family structures, had social networks that looked after one another, placed enormous emphasis on education and hard work, and thereby turned false, negative stereotypes into true, positive ones, could it? It couldn’t be that all whites are not racists or that the American dream still lives?”

Sullivan’s piece, rife with generalizations about a group as vastly diverse as Asian Americans, rightfully raised hackles. Not only inaccurate, his piece spreads the idea that Asian Americans as a group are monolithic, even though parsing data by ethnicity reveals a host of disparities; for example, Bhutanese Americans have far higher rates of poverty than other Asian populations, like Japanese Americans. And at the root of Sullivan’s pernicious argument is the idea that black failure and Asian success cannot be explained by inequities and racism, and that they are one and the same; this allows a segment of white America to avoid any responsibility for addressing racism or the damage it continues to inflict.

“Sullivan’s comments showcase a classic and tenacious conservative strategy,” Janelle Wong, the director of Asian American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park, said in an email. This strategy, she said, involves “1) ignoring the role that selective recruitment of highly educated Asian immigrants has played in Asian American success followed by 2) making a flawed comparison between Asian Americans and other groups, particularly Black Americans, to argue that racism, including more than two centuries of black enslavement, can be overcome by hard work and strong family values.”

“It’s like the Energizer Bunny,” said Ellen D. Wu, an Asian American studies professor at the University of Indiana and the author of The Color of Success. Much of Wu’s work focuses on dispelling the model minority myth, and she’s been tasked repeatedly with publicly refuting arguments like Sullivan’s, which, she said, are incessant. “The thing about the Sullivan piece is that it’s such an old-fashioned rendering. It’s very retro in the kinds of points he made.”

Since the end of World War II, many white people have used Asian Americans and their perceived collective success as a racial wedge. The effect? Minimizing the role racism plays in the persistent struggles of other racial/ethnic minority groups — especially black Americans.

On Twitter, people took Sullivan’s “old-fashioned rendering” to task.

“During World War II, the media created the idea that the Japanese were rising up out of the ashes [after being held in incarceration camps] and proving that they had the right cultural stuff,” said Claire Jean Kim, a professor at the University of California, Irvine. “And it was immediately a reflection on black people: Now why weren’t black people making it, but Asians were?”

These arguments falsely conflate anti-Asian racism with anti-black racism, according to Kim. “Racism that Asian Americans have experienced is not what black people have experienced,” Kim said. “Sullivan is right that Asians have faced various forms of discrimination, but never the systematic dehumanization that black people have faced during slavery and continue to face today.” Asians have been barred from entering the U.S. and gaining citizenship and have been sent to incarceration camps, Kim pointed out, but all that is different than the segregation, police brutality and discrimination that African Americans have endured.

Many scholars have argued that some Asians only started to “make it” when the discrimination against them lessened — and only when it was politically convenient. Amidst worries that the Chinese exclusion laws from the late 1800s would hurt an allyship with China in the war against imperial Japan, the Magnuson Act was signed in 1943, allowing 105 Chinese immigrants into the U.S. each year. As Wu wrote in 2014 in the Los Angeles Times, the Citizens Committee to Repeal Chinese Exclusion “strategically recast Chinese in its promotional materials as ‘law-abiding, peace-loving, courteous people living quietly among us'” instead of the “‘yellow peril’ coolie hordes.” In 1965, the National Immigration Act replaced the national-origins quota system with one that gave preference to immigrants with U.S. family relationships and certain skills.

In 1966, William Peterson, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley, coined the term “model minority.” His New York Times story, headlined, “Success Story, Japanese-American Style,” is regarded as one of the most influential pieces written about Asian Americans. It solidified a prevailing stereotype of Asians as industrious and rule-abiding that would stand in direct contrast to African Americans, who were still struggling against bigotry, poverty and a history rooted in slavery. In the opening paragraphs, Peterson quickly puts African Americans and Japanese Americans at odds:

“Asked which of the country’s ethnic minorities has been subjected to the most discrimination and the worst injustices, very few persons would even think of answering: ‘The Japanese Americans,’ … Yet, if the question refers to persons alive today, that may well be the correct reply. Like the Negroes, the Japanese have been the object of color prejudice …. When new opportunities, even equal opportunities, are opened up, the minority’s reaction to them is likely to be negative — either self-defeating apathy or a hatred so all-consuming as to be self-destructive. For the well-meaning programs and countless scholarly studies now focused on the Negro, we barely know how to repair the damage that the slave traders started. The history of Japanese Americans, however, challenges every such generalization about ethnic minorities.”

But as history shows, Asian Americans were afforded better jobs not simply because of educational attainment, but in part because they were treated better.

“More education will help close racial wage gaps somewhat, but it will not resolve problems of denied opportunity,” reporter Jeff Guo wrote last fall in the Washington Post. “Asian Americans — some of them at least — have made tremendous progress in the United States. But the greatest thing that ever happened to them wasn’t that they studied hard, or that they benefited from tiger moms or Confucian values. It’s that other Americans started treating them with a little more respect.”

At the heart of arguments of racial advancement is the concept of “racial resentment,” which is different than “racism,” Slate’s Jamelle Bouie recently wrote in his analysis of the Sullivan article. “Racial resentment” refers to a “moral feeling that blacks violate such traditional American values as individualism and self reliance,” as defined by political scientists Donald Kinder and David Sears.

And, Bouie points out, “racial resentment” is simply a tool that people use to absolve themselves from dealing with the complexities of racism:

“In fact, racial resentment reflects a tension between the egalitarian self-image of most white Americans and that anti-black affect. The ‘racist,’ after all, is a figure of stigma. Few people want to be one, even as they’re inclined to believe the measurable disadvantages blacks face are caused by something other than structural racism. Framing blacks as deficient and pathological rather than inferior offers a path out for those caught in that mental maze.”

Peterson’s, and now Sullivan’s, arguments have resurfaced regularly throughout the last century. And they’ll likely keep resurfacing, as long as people keep seeking ways to forgo responsibility for racism — and to escape that “mental maze.” As the writer Frank Chin said of Asian Americans in 1974: “Whites love us because we’re not black.”

Sometimes it’s instructive to look at past rebuttals to tired arguments — after all, they hold up much better in the light of history.

Top News: Aaron Hernandez Dies; Georgia Special Election Goes To Runoff

Apr 19, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Top News: Aaron Hernandez Dies; Georgia Special Election Goes To Runoff

Good morning, here are our early stories:

— Ex-NFL Player Aaron Hernandez Found Hanged In Prison Cell.

— ‘I Shot Them,’ Suspect In Deadly Fresno Shootings Tells Police.

— Georgia Special Election Headed To Runoff As Republicans Avoid Nightmare Scenario.

— George H.W. Bush Treated At Houston Hospital For Pneumonia.

And here are more early headlines:

Pence Discussing U.S. Economic Goals In Japan. (AP)

Mnuchin Says Tax Reform Will Take More Time. (Financial Times)

Iowa Lawmakers Pass Bill With New Abortion Limits. (Iowa Gazette)

Closing Arguments Today In Penn. Trooper Shooting Trial. (Times-Tribune)

Trump Wades Into Dairy Trade Dispute With Canada. (Bloomberg)

Hollywood Writers Voting On Whether To Strike. (Vanity Fair)

HUD Chief Carson To Speak At Okla. City Bombing Anniversary Today. (AP)

Did You Know? Asteroid Passing Near Earth Today. (

Paramore Is Back! Watch The ’80s-Tastic ‘Hard Times’ Video

Apr 19, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Paramore Is Back! Watch The ’80s-Tastic ‘Hard Times’ Video

I may have screamed. Thankfully, I am surrounded by understanding and fellow Paramore fans in the office. Four long years after its genre-spanning pop album Paramore, the band is back with After Laughter, out May 12.

With the first single “Hard Times,” Paramore effortlessly flecks a disco song with Afro-pop guitar for a sound straight out of a John Hughes movie. Andrew Joffe’s video takes that ’80s note and amps it up with early MTV-style effects, loud pastels and a performance space seemingly constructed out of an old Nickelodeon set.

After Laughter comes out May 12 on Fueled By Ramen (digital, physical).

Heather Trost’s Nostalgic Pop Goes Eastern Bloc In ‘Agistri’ Video

Apr 19, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   World News  //  Comments Off on Heather Trost’s Nostalgic Pop Goes Eastern Bloc In ‘Agistri’ Video

We often label new music “out-of-time” when its touchstones are from the past. But what does that time mean when it spans decades and cultures, swirled into nonlinear pop songs that glide the spaceways?

On the debut solo album from A Hawk And A Hacksaw‘s Heather Trost, Agistri, ’60s and ’70s psychedelic pop get synthesized with soul and samba in a spaghetti-westernized landscape. Her backing band consists of Neutral Milk Hotel‘s Jeremy Barnes on drums and bass, Deerhoof‘s John Dieterich on guitar and Drake Hardin and Rosie Hutchinson from the New Mexico band Mammal Eggs.

It’s fitting then that the video for the title track, directed by Naomi Yang, channels the delightfully cheesy and psychedelic late-night performances seen on Eastern European television of yesteryear. (You’ve seen at least one of these and it goes trololololo….) Long microphones, stilted choreography, mixed pattern fabrics — it’s all here.

Agistri comes out June 2 on Living Music Duplication.

Top Stories: U.K. Prime Minister Seeks Snap Elections; Pence In Japan

Apr 18, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on Top Stories: U.K. Prime Minister Seeks Snap Elections; Pence In Japan

Good morning, here are our early stories:

— U.K. Prime Minister Calls For Early Election.

— In Japan, Pence Talks Trade And North Korea’s Threat To The Region.

— In The Rockies, Climate Change Spells Trouble For Cutthroat Trout.

And here are more early headlines:

Blanket Primary Today for Georgia Congressional Seat. (FiveThirtyEight)

U.N. Says “Staggering” Number Of People Fleeing Mosul. (UN News Centre)

Hollywood Writers Will Vote On Possible Walkout. (New York Times)

Boeing Laying Off Hundreds Of Engineers, Mechanics. (USA Today)

Suspect In Deadly Washington State Mall Shooting Kills Self. (UPI)

All 4 NHL Playoff Games Went Into Overtime Last Night. (AP)

NASA Puts 360 Degree Camera Aboard Rocket For Today’s Launch. (PBS)

Sweden’s ‘Failure’ Museum Highlights Commercial Flops. (Daily Mail)

British Prime Minister Calls For Snap Parliamentary Elections

Apr 18, 2017   //   by Administrator   //   News from US  //  Comments Off on British Prime Minister Calls For Snap Parliamentary Elections

David Greene talks to British journalist Michael White, who writes for the New European magazine, about what Theresa May has to gain from early elections, which are now scheduled for June 8.


Current Times

  • NPT: 2019-02-17 08:34 PM
  • EST: 2019-02-17 09:49 AM
  • PST: 2019-02-17 06:49 AM