Pic of the Day

Clinton, Obama Commemorate Historic Selma March
Click to enlarge — Obama in SelmaPhoto by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Understand that if we had the same coppers in Selma, the same police chief, the same city government, the same members of the state legislature, the same people representing Alabama in Congress, in the House and Senate – that demonstration today, even headed by the President of the United States – would have been brutalized, again.

Racists don’t care who you are. They aren’t interested in anything but their fear and hatred. That our president now happens to be a Black man would make him more of a target. That’s all.

And many of the people filling all those positions, nowadays – from copper at the bottom of the police rung all the way up into Congress – are just as bigoted as their predecessors. Don’t kid yourself otherwise. On one hand they dare not act like the simple-minded lynch mob that set out to destroy everyone in that demonstration 50 years ago. Too much of society has changed. Much of law and justice has been changed. They couldn’t count on getting away with it. And that counts most – with cowards.

On the other hand, they will sit around and whine to each other tonight that at least they have over half the Supreme Court and the majority of Congress on their side. They are succeeding at reversing some of the successes at guaranteeing normal civil rights to all Americans – especially Americans who ain’t white.

This battle shall not end. We face the same challenges and, importantly, the same people, the same kind of people. They didn’t vanish along with the value system that backed them up. They have learned to tell the same lies their political representatives tell all the time.

Their lies don’t change a damned thing. Taking away their political power is what counts. Not changing their bigot minds.

The scary truth about sugar

At risk of being the Grinch who stole Halloween, perhaps we should rethink a holiday built around candy.

Even without that annual fix, we’re already sugar junkies. Each week we gulp or eat nearly three pounds of the white powder — up 43 percent from two pounds weekly in 1959, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

And pound by pound, we’re killing ourselves. The resulting obesity leads to diabetes, heart disease, inactivity and possibly dementia…

“Thanks to obesity, our kids are expected to have shorter life spans than their parents,” says Shreela Sharma, Ph.D…associate professor of epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health…“We’re in a health crisis.”

Even though this report is a half-year-old, the word just seems to be getting round to mainstream media. After finally hearing quotes almost every day in the last couple of weeks, I figured it was time to put it up at my personal site.

Break it down and the average American mainlines 32 teaspoons of added sweeteners daily. That’s more than three times the American Heart Association’s suggested levels of nine teaspoons or 150 calories for men, five times the six teaspoons or 100 calories for women and 10 times the three teaspoons or 50 calories for children.

Worst offenders are teens, with about 34 teaspoons of the sweet stuff daily, says a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Stats grow more atrocious for precocious youths. “A child by age 5 has eaten more sugar than their parents did by age 18,” Sharma says. “Before every lunch, they’ve already had more sugar than you need in an entire day, from cereals, sodas, juices, granola bars and yogurt…”

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Growing seasons are longer – not necessarily better

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Are leaves and buds developing earlier in the spring? And do leaves stay on the trees longer in autumn? Do steppe ecosystems remain green longer and are the savannas becoming drier and drier? In fact, over recent decades, the growing seasons have changed everywhere around the world. This was determined by a doctoral candidate at the Goethe University as part of an international collaboration based on satellite data. The results are expected to have consequences for agriculture, interactions between species, the functioning of ecosystems, and the exchange of carbon dioxide and energy between the land surface and the atmosphere.

Will they make any difference in nations where politicians are bought and sold like secondhand video games at a local thrift shop run by lobbyists?

There is almost no part of Earth that is not affected by these changes,” explains Robert Buitenwerf, doctoral candidate at the Institute for Physical Geography at the Goethe University. He has evaluated satellite data from 1981 to 2012 with regard to 21 parameters on vegetation activity, in order to determine the point in time, the duration, and the intensity of growth from the northernmost conifer forests to tropical rain forests. His conclusion: On 54 percent of the land surface, at least one parameter of vegetation activity has moved away from the mean value by more than two standard deviations.

As reported by researchers from Frankfurt, Freiburg and New Zealand in the current edition of the professional journal “Nature Climate Change,” leaves are now sprouting earlier in most of the climate zones of the far north. Although they are also dropped somewhat earlier in autumn, the overall vegetation period has grown longer. On the other hand, in our latitudes, trees and shrubs are losing their leaves later than they have up to now…

The study is clear about relevancy limited to the northern hemisphere. Whether the same factors are changing in the southern hemisphere isn’t a question. There simply isn’t sufficient data.

Meanwhile, the effects of climate change measurably affect large enough geographies to analyze and begin to understand. That is – for people and nations interested in knowing their world, managing their future for the betterment of all.