Saturday, July 28, 2007

Silver Spring not so Forward: Birchmere in doubt

Only one side of the street of downtown Silver Spring is renovated, while the other side contains an ugly hulking space of the old JC Penney building. There is a huge outpouring of support for the anticipated arrival in the space for the Birchmere, shown by groups like

The latest news is the county has cancelled its negotiations with the Birchmere for the space, according to the Express, the Gazette and the Washington Business Journal.

Take action:

Monday, July 9, 2007

YouTube: John Edwards on Climate Change

YouTube - John Edwards on Climate Change here.

John Edwards on Science

Thanks to A Blog Around the Clock, we have an interview with Presidential candidate John Edwards on the science issues we face today, from NASA and climate change to the issues of bio-terrorism.

In honor of LiveEarth, here is his clip of how we should turn climate change into economic opportunity, just as we did during the environmental movement in the 1970s. When the establishment responded to threats against the status quo by stirring up fears of job losses, we learned they were actually discouraging ingenuity and entrepreneurship, stifling innovation in environmental engineering. Now, environmental engineers earn $3.468 billion a year in 2004.

If you like what he has to say below, vote for Edwards's plan here.

We need to make certain that America understands this crisis--that if we have a 4 to 8 degree rise in our temperature then there will be migration of hundreds of millions of people. There won't be enough food or enough water and millions of people will be flooded out of their homes. America must understand it and the president of the United States must understand it.

Here's what's really important to understand: we can actually turn the crisis of global warming into an opportunity. We can create a new, clean energy economy that creates 1 million new jobs, ends our dependence on foreign oil, and brings rural communities back to life. And ultimately, we can become a leader for the rest of the

Our first priority is capping and reducing greenhouse gas pollution. We must do what the consensus of the scientific community says is necessary to stop the Earth from getting more than 2 degrees warmer.

What the Bush administration has done is constantly rewrite what the science says and substitute the talking points of the oil industry. They literally hire lobbyists
into the White House to substitute special interests for science. That's got to stop.
What the scientific community says today is - taking into account what's going on in the developing world --- the U.S. needs to reduce our global greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. As president, I will enact a national cap on carbon emissions that meets that goal.

In terms of how we get there, we need to invest in renewable energies like wind, solar, and biofuels. And we have to raise the fuel-efficiency standards significantly in
this country. I believe the number is 40 miles per gallon by 2016. That would single-handedly reduce oil demand by 4 million barrels per day.

We must lead the world to a new climate treaty that commits other countries--including developing nations--to reduce their pollution. I will insist that developing
countries join us in this effort, by offering to share new clean energy technology and, if necessary, using trade agreements to require binding greenhouse reductions.
I will create a New Energy Economy Fund by auctioning off greenhouse pollution permits and repealing subsidies for big oil companies.

The fund will support U.S. research and development in energy technology, help entrepreneurs start new businesses, invest in new carbon-capture and efficient automobile technology and help Americans conserve energy. Finally, we must reduce the demand for more electricity through efficiency for the next decade,
instead of producing more electricity.

Our generation must be the one that says, "We must halt global warming." If we don't act now, it will be too late. Our generation must be the one that says "yes" to renewable fuels and ends forever our dependence on foreign oil. Our generation must be the one that accepts responsibility for conserving natural resources and demands the tools to do it. And our generation must be the one that builds the New Energy Economy. How do we do it? It won't be easy, but it is time to ask the American people to be patriotic about something other than war.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Giuliani: another one bites the dust?

This week, Mitt Romney was outed as cruel to animals when he exposed what should have been the beloved family dog to unimaginable stress in a crate on top of his car during a long highway road trip.

Today the Post reports more problems for another Republican Presidential hopeful, Rudy Giuliani.

Giuliani, still trying to take advantage of being christened "America's mayor" not by New Yorkers but by Time magazine, has already lost momentum due to the troubling stories from the NYFD. Now another story in the Freakonomics vein shows that his claims of reducing crime in NYC are mostly bogus. Here's the report and a clip from WaPo below:

Although crime did fall dramatically in New York during Giuliani's tenure, a broad range of scientific research has emerged in recent years to show that the mayor deserves only a fraction of the credit that he claims. The most compelling information has come from an economist in Fairfax who has argued in a series of little-noticed papers that the "New York miracle" was caused by local and federal efforts decades earlier to reduce lead poisoning.

The theory offered by the economist, Rick Nevin, is that lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States. It offers a unifying new neurochemical theory for fluctuations in the crime rate, and it is based on studies linking children's exposure to lead with violent behavior later in their lives.

What makes Nevin's work persuasive is that he has shown an identical, decades-long association between lead poisoning and crime rates in nine countries.

Monday, July 2, 2007

In Praise of Mike: Love the Soldier, Hate the war

The Army has a new ad aimed at parents of young men, telling them to listen to their kids rather than discourage them from enlisting to go to the Middle East. In this diary I challenge them – and you – to listen to Mike’s story in honor of vets on Independence Day:

You’d think living between Walter Reed, Fort Belvoir and Fort Meade, I’d have met more returned vets. I have met only a few. Mike has a compelling story to tell, if only enough people would only listen to him.

Mike was seated on a stool in my favorite Irish pub. A pint of Harp and a shotglass of Rumplemintz were in front of him, and the only two other empty barstools were on his right. As soon as we pulled up to the chairs, and he leaned over to introduce himself, smile, and to shake our hands.
Mike’s head was shaved, and his biceps were a little out of proportion to his forearms. He had that unmistakable look of a sturdy young military man. But something wasn’t right. It was his speech, or the way he balanced off-center on the bar stool. Perhaps it was the Rumplemintz chaser warming his tongue and making him unsteady in his seat. He asked me where I lived and worked, and I told him. I asked him the same. He was stationed at Walter Reed, living near there, but tonight he would walk back to his girlfriend’s apartment. “She wanted to stay in tonight,” he said. “I wanted to go out.”

His tour would finish up in about a year, and doing the math I guessed he signed up in late 2001. “Yeah,” he said with a crooked grin that made his answer sheepish. He said he left Ohio to join the 101st airborne. “I took the proficiency test, and got my second choice” as a medic. He went to Kuwait, he said, then Mosul, Iraq. Now, no longer able to be a medic, he has a new assignment in Washington, DC while he finished his physical therapy and got ready for a new assignment in New England.

As he ordered another round, and then another, he drew back to the past, not the future. He saw lots of damage. “They can make an IED out of anything,” he shook his head in amazement. “Coke bottles; batteries.” He said he saw blasted arms and legs, and a soldier with half a pelvis.

The day of his injury involved a rocket-propelled grenade and his convoy. Shrapnel tore into his leg, fracturing his femur into pieces. I knew that a lot of damage from explosions comes from the energy waves. Without a trace, the energy can twist bowels, flip stomachs, and steal hearing. And the brain--the neurons in the brain disconnect from one another in the blast, and the spiraling falls that follow. The electric messages the brain tries to send within itself, to organs, to eyes, and mouth, hang there between cells, waiting for a lift to the next cell that never comes.

Mike didn't seem worried about himself. He didn't complain. Physical Therapy is not easy – if it doesn’t hurt, he says, you’re not doing it right. His injury was not one of those that blissfully sends nerves reeling, hiding out, waiting till it’s safe to return. “Did it hurt?” “Hell, yeah,” Mike said. “But there were five other guys in that convoy,” he said. His eyes started to glisten. “I was their medic.” Despite his torn leg, he crawled over to the most badly wounded of the comrades. “He had shrapnel in his neck. It’s not like I could take it out. He died. He died in my arms.”

“I think it’s time to talk about something else,” he said, ordering a round for all of us.

“Hey,” I said, “you’ve already given us freedom and liberty. You don’t need to give us a drink, too. Let us buy.” But he knew Emily, the bartender, and told her not to let us pay.

Mike has about a year left in the Army. He’s already thinking of re-enlisting. “But I want kids,” he said. “I’m not sure I can do both. My Dad is a disabled vet. I don’t want to be a disabled vet for my kids. Do you have kids?

“Oh, sorry, that’s too personal,” he apologized before I could answer.

“That’s alright. No, we’ve had no luck there. But it turned out all right for us anyway,” I said.

“I want to reenlist,” he said. “I love the army. I just hate this war.”

A slim woman with long hair, older than Mike, came up behind him and bumped his shoulder. “You are so busted,” she said.

I apologized for Mike. “We kept him talking to us,” I explained.

She softened. “Thanks for taking care of Mike,” she said.

“I don’t need anyone to take care of me,” he said, meaning it.

She linked Mike’s arm, and helped him off his stool and toward the door. She turned. She mouthed, “Thanks for taking of Mike.”
MOSUL, Iraq - Two 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) soldiers were killed and two were wounded in an improvised explosive device attack in Mosul at approximately 7:30 a.m. Nov.1, according to U.S. Central Command officials.