Category Archives: Uncategorized

Chart of the day: Cities & housing for the homeless


From Housing Not Handcuffs, Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness
in U.S. Cities, a report from the  National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty:

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The lack of adequate public shelter for the poor in America’s cities has been accompanied by increasingly criminalization of those who, lacking shelter, sleep on sidewalks, under overpasses, and in their vehicles.

From Al Jazeera:

Cities across the US are enacting more bans on living in vehicles, camping in public and begging, despite federal efforts to discourage such laws amid a shortage of affordable housing, according to a new report.

Denver, which ordered about 150 homeless people living on pavements to clear out their belongings on Tuesday, was among four cities criticised for policies criminalising homelessness in a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an advocacy group aiming to prevent people from losing their homes.

The other cities listed in its “hall of shame” are in Hawaii, Texas and Washington state.

Many cities with increasing home prices have been struggling with homelessness, including Denver and Honolulu, which were reprimanded for an anti-camping law and ban on sitting or lying on sidewalks, respect[ively].

“These laws are unconstitutional and bad public policy,” Maria Foscarinis, the centre’s executive director, said.

More from the center:

Across the country, cities are criminalizing homelessness, making it illegal for people to sit, sleep, and even eat in public places—despite the absence of housing or even shelter, and other basic resources.

These laws and policies violate constitutional rights, create arrest records and fines & fees that stand in the way of homeless people getting jobs or housing, and don’t work. The evidence is clear that homelessness is reduced in communities that focus on housing, and not those that focus on handcuffs.

Criminalization of homelessness costs more money than simply solving the problem by ensuring access to adequate housing.

And there is a growing awareness among the general public that our criminal justice system is not the solution to social problems.

The time is right for a national campaign to stop the criminalization of homelessness—and to push for effective housing policies that end homelessness.

Even supposedly “liberal” cities like Berkeley, California have been aggressively targeting the homeless, and that’s even with one of the nation’s best [but overcrowded] shelter programs.

Earlier this month a city council candidate was arrested when police cleared a homeless tent camp near city hall erected as a protest over the lack of housing.

Chart of the day: The sharply divided electorate


From A Divided and Pessimistic Electorate, a new report from the Pew Research Center including data derived from polling the day before the election:

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Chart of the day: Is Donald Trump the Devil?


Following up on our previous post, a chart from the Toronto Star cataloging the lies told by Donald Trump during his campaign from mid-September through this weekend [click on the image to enlarge]:

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More from the Star, which has a complete list of the lies at the link:

Sure, all politicians lie. But Donald Trump is in a class by himself.

He lies strategically. He lies pointlessly. He lies about important things and meaningless things. Above all, he lies frequently. Since he began his campaign last June, the Republican presidential candidate has subjected America to a daily barrage of inaccuracy and mendacity.

His rival, Hillary Clinton, has her own reputation for dishonesty. Some of it is no doubt earned: she has made false claims this campaign about her email scandal, about her flip-flop on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and about assorted other things. But our scrutiny shows there is just no comparison in their level of accuracy on the campaign trail. At the three presidential debates, for example, we counted 104 false claims for Trump to 13 for Clinton.

The extreme, unprecedented quantity of Trump falsehoods is why we started fact-checking everything he said. From mid-September through Sunday, we did 28 “#TrumpCheck” analyses of every word he uttered or tweeted in a given day.

The total: 560 false claims, or a neat 20 per day.

About that curious headline. . .

While esnl is an atheist, in the sense that we live our life without consideration for religious teachings, we weren’t always an unbeliever.

Indeed, we once led the services in a metropolitan Los Angeles church, and we have read the Bible cover to cover a dozen times or more.

And having read and studied the book in great detail, we have a problem understanding why so many [but not all] evangelical Christians are back Trump.

That adherence to a man so antithetical to the values they profess becomes even more curious in this biblical passage from the Book of John, Chapter 8, verse 44, a declaration that would seem to depict The Donald in every detail:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Lusts and lies. . .how better to characterize the self-proclaimed pussy-grabber who would be president of the greatest military and economic power on earth?

Headline of the day III: Coulrophobia in the U.S.A.


The creepy clown mania that’s swept from the U.S. to Europe [see our previous Headline of the day] has come home again.

And while Germany is officially banning creepy clown costumes, it’s parents who are doing in in the U.S.

From Deutsche Welle:

Are Trump and Clinton costumes too scary for Halloween?

The US presidential race and its unpopular candidates don’t just turn off a lot of voters. Even as Halloween costumes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are unacceptable to many.

Heavens above!: The death of a distant sun-like star


Another glorious image from the Hubble Space Telescope from NASA:

This image of NGC 2440 shows the colourful "last hurrah" of a star like our Sun. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star's remaining core. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the material glow. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the centre.

This image of NGC 2440 shows the colourful “last hurrah” of a star like our Sun. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star’s remaining core. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the material glow. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the centre.

And the explanation:

This image, taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, shows the colorful “last hurrah” of a star like our sun. The star is ending its life by casting off its outer layers of gas, which formed a cocoon around the star’s remaining core. Ultraviolet light from the dying star makes the material glow. The burned-out star, called a white dwarf, is the white dot in the center. Our sun will eventually burn out and shroud itself with stellar debris, but not for another 5 billion years.

Our Milky Way Galaxy is littered with these stellar relics, called planetary nebulae. The objects have nothing to do with planets. Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century astronomers called them the name because through small telescopes they resembled the disks of the distant planets Uranus and Neptune. The planetary nebula in this image is called NGC 2440. The white dwarf at the center of NGC 2440 is one of the hottest known, with a surface temperature of more than 360,000 degrees Fahrenheit (200,000 degrees Celsius). The nebula’s chaotic structure suggests that the star shed its mass episodically. During each outburst, the star expelled material in a different direction. This can be seen in the two bowtie-shaped lobes. The nebula also is rich in clouds of dust, some of which form long, dark streaks pointing away from the star. NGC 2440 lies about 4,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Puppis.

The material expelled by the star glows with different colors depending on its composition, its density and how close it is to the hot central star. Blue samples helium; blue-green oxygen, and red nitrogen and hydrogen.

Credits: NASA, ESA, and K. Noll (STScI), Acknowledgment: The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Chart of the day: What Americans do/don’t recycle


From the Pew Research Center:

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World’s largest animals headed to extinction


A richness map of (a) the number of megafaunal species, (b) the number of declining megafauna species, and (c) the number of threatened megafaunal species in their native ranges. Megafauna are defined as terrestrial large carnivores (more than 15 kilograms) and large herbivores (more than 100 kilograms). Threatened includes all species categorized as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. From "    "." Saving the World's Terrestrial Megafauna."

A richness map of (a) the number of megafaunal species, (b) the number of declining megafauna species, and (c) the number of threatened megafaunal species in their native ranges. Megafauna are defined as terrestrial large carnivores (more than 15 kilograms) and large herbivores (more than 100 kilograms). Threatened includes all species categorized as Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. From “Saving the World’s Terrestrial Megafauna.”

Driven by fear of predators, the quest for valuable animal parts [many consumed by older men in Asia in search of restoring their erections, ad appetites for exotic foods, Homo sapiens is killing off his fellow large creatures.

And without immediate action, many and perhaps most of some of nature’s most magnificent creature will only survive as stuffed museum specimens.

That action, and the money to fund it, is needed now, declares a global coalition of life scientists.

From the University of California, Los Angeles:

Preventing the extinction of gorillas, rhinoceroses, elephants, lions, tigers, wolves, bears and the world’s other largest mammals will require bold political action and financial commitments from nations worldwide. In an article in the journal BioScience, 43 wildlife experts write [open access] that without immediate changes, many of the Earth’s most iconic species will be lost.

“The loss of these magnificent animals would be a tremendous tragedy,” said Blaire Van Valkenburgh, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and one of the article’s co-authors. “They are all that is left of a once much more diverse megafauna that populated the planet only 12,000 years ago. And more importantly, we have only just begun to understand the important roles they play in maintaining healthy ecosystems.”

Among the most serious threats to endangered animals are illegal hunting, deforestation, habitat loss, expansion of livestock and agriculture into wildlife areas, and human population growth, they write.

The scientists, who represent six continents, write that humans have “an abiding moral obligation to protect the Earth’s megafauna,” or large mammals. “We must not go quietly into this impoverished future.”

In addition to their significance to ecosystems, animals such as tigers and elephants attract tourists and their money to parts of the world that have few alternative sources of income, said Van Valkenburgh, who holds the Donald R. Dickey chair in vertebrate biology in the UCLA College.

“This paper is a call for action at all levels, local to global, to halt the rapid decline of the megafauna,” she said.

The paper reports that 59 percent of the largest carnivores and 60 percent of the largest herbivores have been classified as threatened with extinction, and that the situation is especially severe in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, where the greatest diversity of extant megafauna live.

William Ripple, the paper’s lead author, a distinguished professor of ecology in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, said the animals’ declines are occurring rapidly.

“The more I look at the trends facing the world’s largest terrestrial mammals, the more concerned I am we could lose these animals just as science is discovering how important they are to ecosystems and to the services they provide to people,” he said.

The scientists call for comprehensive action, including expanding habitats for the animals and changing conservation policy. The paper notes that some conservation initiatives have been successful and that, if measures are taken now, it may still be possible to rescue these animals from extinction.

The article is published in seven languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, French, Malay, Portuguese and Thai.