From the News Wires

Huge majority of Latinos concerned about the air pollution, environmental issues.

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
According to a new poll conducted by Latino Decisions, a majority of Latinos think that going green is a good idea.

General Mills sets ambitious goal for greenhouse gas cuts.

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
General Mills will invest more than $100 million in energy efficiency and clean energy within its own facilities worldwide, and partner with suppliers to foster more sustainable agricultural practices.

Party leaders in Scotland make climate change pledge.

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
The leaders of Scotland's five main political parties have promised to set out plans on how they will tackle climate change and reduce emissions.

WWF broker cross-party climate change agreement.

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
The leaders of all of Scotland’s main political parties have pledged to set out comprehensive plans on how they will address climate change, ahead of next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

‘Climate change a scapegoat, disasters in Turkey are man-made.'

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
Disasters will become more frequent and dangerous because of climate change, but also because governments in Turkey are continuing practices that increase risks, according to a local expert in the field.

Putting health impacts of substandard housing on the national agenda, and in Cleveland.

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
We believe the late U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes should be recognized as a national leader who clearly understood the connection between substandard housing and health.

Federal prison in Letcher County wrong for region, environment, prisoners.

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Mon, 08/31/2015 - 7:00am
Building this prison will destroy wildlife habitat to expand the broken prison system when it makes much better economic sense to reduce the nation's reliance on prisons.

Dot Earth Blog: Oil, Oligarchs and Other Subtexts on Obama’s Arctic-Focused Alaska Trip

NY Times Environmental News - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 5:20pm
President Obama’s Alaskan trip aims to remind Americans they have an Arctic shore.









Vast Reserves of Natural Gas Found Off the Coast of Egypt

NY Times Environmental News - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 4:33pm
The Italian energy company Eni called the “supergiant” gas field the “largest ever” found in the Mediterranean Sea.









Ferguson, Missouri Judge Throws Out Arrest Warrants; Local Activists Say Change in Oakland Courts Long Overdue

Oakland Xings - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 12:21pm

By Ken Epstein

A new municipal court judge in Ferguson, Mo. this week announced he was withdrawing all arrest warrants issued before Jan. 1, 2015, taking an action that should be duplicated and expanded by courts in Oakland and other cities across the country, according to local anti-mass incarceration and civil rights activists.

Appointed in June as municipal court judge of Ferguson, Mo, Donald L. McCullin formerly served as circuit judge of the 22nd Judicial Circuit from 1999 to 2011, when he retired. Judge McCullin earned a law degree from St. Louis University Law School (SLU) where he has served on the Dean’s Council. He is a member of the Missouri, Illinois, and California bars. Besides working in private practice, he served four years as managing attorney for the United Auto Workers Legal Services Program and 11 years with Anheuser-Busch Companies as director of Diversity and Compliance..

Many of the warrants were for unpaid fines or failure to appear in court for traffic violations.

“The Ferguson court took a significant step in trying to undo years and decades of a cycle of poverty and incarceration in that city, though it is certainly not all that needs to be done,” said Zachary Norris, executive director of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, which has been involved in campaigns against mass incarceration.

Under the court order issued by Ferguson Judge Donald McCullin on Aug. 24, the conditions of pre-trial release were modified, and defendants will be give new court dates along with alternative dispositions, such as payment plans, community service or commuting fines for people without money.

Zachary Norris, executive director of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

“Many individuals whose license has been suspended will be able to obtain them and take advantage of the benefits of being able to drive,” said McCullin. “Moreover, defendants will not be (denied) pre-trial release because of inability to make bond.”

In addition, if arrest warrants were issued for a minor traffic violation, the defendants will not be incarcerated but instead released on their own recognizance.

All active warrants more than five years old will be withdrawn. In cases where a person’s driver’s license was suspended solely for failure to appear in court or pay a fine, the license will be reinstated pending final disposition.

The judge’s ruling is in part a response to a scathing Department of Justice report in March that found Ferguson’s police department and municipal court targeted low-income and minority residents with tickets and fines for minor offenses in order to raise revenue for the city.

According to the DOJ Report, more than 16,000 people, equal to 70 percent of Ferguson’s population, had outstanding arrest warrants at the end of last year.

While the judge’s action was a significant step forward, according to Norris of Ella Baker Center, the reform could not have been won without grassroots activism.

Walter Riley

“It was a hard-fought victory that comes as a result of community struggle,” said Norris, who said the Organization for Black Struggle in the Saint Louis area made the withdrawal of warrants one of its central demands.

“The Organization for Black Struggle has been advocating for changing several of these policies that effectively result in debtors prison (for the poor),” he said.

The practice of issuing warrants amounts to a “money-making scheme” that is common in California, affecting as many as one out of six drivers, he said.

“Traffic courts drive inequality in California,” he said, referring to the case of one woman who had a $25 traffic ticket and as result of penalties, ultimately owed $2,900.

The woman lost her license and her job, ending up on public assistance, he said. “She was consigned to an unending cycle of poverty and incarceration.”

In Oakland, Norris continued, “We need to end the practice of suspending licenses for traffic tickets, taking away people’s way to continue with their jobs.”

The city also needs “deep and meaningful pretrial reform,” said Norris, noting that 75 percent of people in the Alameda County jail have been convicted of nothing.

“They are charged with something and can’t make bail,” which means they lose their jobs and have their family relationships disrupted, he said.

Local judges should take up the challenge to make these same reforms, said Oakland civil rights attorney and activist Walter Riley.

“Oakland judges need to look at this kind of example,” he said. “The judge in Ferguson has recognized some of the inequities and has taken the responsibility to do something about it.”

This cycle of arrests, fines and jailing are an element of mass incarceration, said Riley, the continuous adverse impact of the criminal justice system of people without money, particularly on African Americans.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 30, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)

 

The post Ferguson, Missouri Judge Throws Out Arrest Warrants; Local Activists Say Change in Oakland Courts Long Overdue appeared first on Ken A. Epstein.

Categories: Oakland

Glaciers in Central Asia shrinking fast: study.

Climate Change News (Offsite) - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 7:00am
Central Asian glaciers have melted at four times the global average since the early 1960s, shedding 27 percent of their mass, according to a recent study. At stake is a critical source of water for people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as a section of northwest China.

VIDEO: The environmental problems in NOLA,

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 7:00am
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Russel Honoré tells Melissa Harris-Perry that the Gulf issues are not a Louisiana problem, but a national problem.

As the need for power surges, are small - or big - dams the answer?

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 7:00am
To provide more clean energy, particularly in fast-growing Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, the world needs more hydropower dams, energy experts say. But a surge in building of big dams is also leading to poor people being displaced and losing rights to water.

Glaciers in Central Asia shrinking fast: study.

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 7:00am
Central Asian glaciers have melted at four times the global average since the early 1960s, shedding 27 percent of their mass, according to a recent study. At stake is a critical source of water for people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as a section of northwest China.

Beyond the headlines.

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Sun, 08/30/2015 - 7:00am
In this week’s trip beyond the headlines, Peter Dykstra tells host Steve Curwood how California takes the top honors on the American Lung Association’s list of “Most Polluted Cities”, but cautions that there’s more than one way to define “polluted.” Also, he explains how American lawns are our biggest “crop”, but far from our greenest, and notes the anniversary of the book “Dumping in Dixie”, authored by the “father of the environmental movement.”

Joys and Struggles of Public School Teaching, Discussed at Post Salon

Oakland Xings - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 4:39pm

Educators who spoke at last Sunday’s Post Salon were (L to R) Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, Francisco Ortiz and Dr. Kitty Kelly Epstein. The event was held at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle in downtown Oakland. Photo by Jaron Epstein.

By Post Staff

About 70 people attended the Post newspaper’s most recent Salon to discuss the joys of teaching in the public schools and the policy barriers facing U.S. education

Speaker Francisco Ortiz is a popular teacher in Contra Costa County, the same district where he attended school.   He talked about his personal difficulties of being a Spanish-speaking student without enough Latino teachers.

He also talked about his curriculum, which includes the autobiographical story, “The Circuit,” his love of teaching and his father’s encouragement to pursue a career as an educator.

Kitty Kelly Epstein is a college professor, an author and an activist. Her presentation focused on the built-in racism of the U.S. system and its early roots in Oakland, the first place that used the racially biased group I.Q. tests created in 1916 by Stanford professor and Eugenics supporter Lewis Terman.

Dr. Epstein explored the growing movement of opposition to profit-oriented educational companies and to the new breed of standardized tests they promote.

Dr. Kimberly Mayfield is the chair of the Education Department at Holy Names University and one of the authors of Diversifying the Teacher Workforce.

She had encouraged people interested in becoming teachers to attend the Salon in order to participate in the discussion and to hear about the Teacher Apprentice Program (TAP), which recruits and supports local, diverse teachers as they move into teaching.

Her presentation focused on the joy of teaching and the barriers facing Black, Latino indigenous and Asian people attempting to enter the field.

Dr. Mayfield said that the TAP program, based at Holy Names University in Oakland, is designed to helps prospective teachers overcome the hurdles that keep them from entering the profession.

For information on the TAP program, call Stacy Johnson at (510) 436-1195 or email sjohnson@hnu.edu

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 29, 2015 (postnewsgroup.com)

 

The post Joys and Struggles of Public School Teaching, Discussed at Post Salon appeared first on Ken A. Epstein.

Categories: Oakland

What the climate movement can learn from the war on smoking.

Climate Change News (Offsite) - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 7:00am
If you want to understand how culture can change, head for where the smokers are — or, to be more precise, where they aren’t.

Environment Canada scientist put on leave over Harperman protest song.

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 7:00am
A scientist with Environment Canada has been put on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation for creating a politically charged protest song about ousting Conservative Leader Stephen Harper.

What the climate movement can learn from the war on smoking.

National Environmental News on Other Sites - Sat, 08/29/2015 - 7:00am
If you want to understand how culture can change, head for where the smokers are — or, to be more precise, where they aren’t.

N.O. Artist Brandan 'BMike' Odums: 'We Make Beauty Out of Pain"

Race Wire - Fri, 08/28/2015 - 8:01pm

The prolific multi-medium artist and educator talks to us about the youth media initiative 2-Cent, his mural work in post-Katrina New Orleans and the double-edged sword of the city's "recovery." 

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