Funny or die. As Fenton told grist.org, the environmental movement doesn’t use popular culture effectively. An experiment designed to prove him wrong is the new Showtime series “Years of Living Dangerously,” whose creators decided it was high time that professionally trained environmental journalists stopped taking “correspondent” jobs away from hard-working celebrities like Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The series is winning praise from environmentalists but may be preaching to the choir; a 2012 study suggests that both Showtime and HBO have audiences already polarized toward polar bears. And if you think the characters on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” sound serious when they warn that “winter is coming,” just flip the channel and listen to Han Solo and the Terminator discussing climate change.
So how can celebrities, journalists, researchers, and others talk about climate change without being so blanking earnest? Here is what we have come to: kittens. Seriously.
Greg Sargent has a good analysis of negative Republican reactions to Jeb Bush’s relatively moderate comments about immigration:
The Jeb Bush comments are important precisely because they illuminate the moral and political dilemma for Republicans that underlies this core question.
Speaking to conservative activists in New Hampshire over the weekend, Donald Trump elicited boos when he castigated Bush’s remarks. It’s worth rerunning Bush’s comments, because one of the most important aspects of them has not gotten enough attention — his suggestion that undocumented immigrants might have something valuable to contribute to American society if they are legalized:
“Yes, they broke the law. But it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love. It’s an act of commitment to your family…it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families. And the idea that we’re not gonna fix this with comprehensive reform ends up trapping these people when they could make a great contribution for their own families, but also for us….they can make a contribution to our country if we actually organized ourselves in a better way.”
Republicans who have responded to Bush with more nuance than Trump have accepted the former point but not the latter one. Rand Paul said: “People who seek the American dream are not bad people, but that doesn’t mean you can invite the whole world to come.” Ted Cruz responded that we need to be a nation that “welcomes and celebrates legal immigrants,” but that “rule of law matters.”
Neither Paul nor Cruz can accept Bush’s latter point, which is that an acknowledgment of the moral ambiguity surrounding the plight of illegal immigrants should open the door to another realization: Solving this problem in a smart way and integrating the undocumented into society is the best outcome for the country - even if they are, in fact, lawbreakers. For many Republicans, that’s the hard part to accept.
We’ve known that most critters try to avoid power lines, but until recently, scientists were pretty much in the dark when it came to why. Now, it turns out that to animals, power lines and pylons look like terrifying bands of glowing, flashing bursts of light.
This revelation came about as the result of a recent study on wild reindeer in Norway. Apparently, reindeer’s eyes are able to detect ultraviolet light, which means they can see when power lines give off flashes of UV light—a phenomenon human eyes are completely blind to. What’s more, for those sensitive to it, these ultraviolet bursts are even visible in total darkness.
HONOLULU, HAWAII—Honolulu police officers have urged lawmakers to keep an exemption in state law that allows undercover officers to have sex with prostitutes during investigations, touching off a heated debate.
Authorities say they need the legal protection to catch lawbreakers in the act. Critics, including human trafficking experts and other police, say it’s unnecessary and could further victimize sex workers, many of whom have been forced into the trade.
Police haven’t said how often — or even if — they use the provision. And when they asked legislators to preserve it, they made assurances that internal policies and procedures are in place to prevent officers from taking advantage of it.
But expert Derek Marsh says the exemption is “antiquated at best” and that police can easily do without it.
Obamacare opponents have already run more than 30,000 television ads attacking the health law and Democratic candidates who support it, according to the media tracking group CMAG — a staggering 12-fold increase from four years ago. Many of the ads are being run in states with high uninsurance rates where hundreds of thousands of poor people could benefit from the Affordable Care Act, including Arkansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana.
Nearly half of all ads that have been run about the health law in House and Senate races through March 9 are critical of the ACA. And in a reflection of the post-Citizens United political landscape, spending by outside groups without any official connection to a particular organization or party accounts for almost three-fourths of all the commercials, compared to just 13 percent in 2010.
“We knew there would be heightened public awareness around the implementation of the law, and we thought it was important to go up early with a heavy effort,” said Tim Phillips, president of the Koch brother-funded group Americans for Prosperity (AFP), in an interview with Bloomberg.
AFP has run the most anti-Obamacare ads of any political group by a large margin, targeting vulnerable Democrats who are up for re-election, such as Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA). The organization’s spots play up misleading “horror stories” related to the health law, such as Americans who have had their insurance policies cancelled or seen their premiums spike. But the ads’ content tends to range from exaggeration to outright misinformation — and AFP has even been caught hiring paid actors to play the roles of “real” local residents.
U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move likely to please international critics but alarm many business leaders and others who rely on smooth functioning of the Web.
Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance last year.
The practical consequences of the decision were not immediately clear, but it could alleviate rising global complaints that the United States essentially controls the Web and takes advantage of its oversight role to help spy on the rest of the world.
A good piece at Newsday by Cathy Young: U.S. Critic Blind to Putin Media Control.
Do some critics of U.S. government policies that may encroach on civil liberties give anti-American foreign states a pass on far worse abuses?
The latest subject of such a controversy is Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who has worked with whistle-blower Edward Snowden to disclose the National Security Agency’s surveillance of personal communication records. Given that Snowden received asylum in Russia, Greenwald has been accused by his detractors of colluding with a regime notorious for its police-state tactics — especially since, two years ago, he defended the Kremlin-run TV channel RT (Russia Today) after it gave a show to his ally, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Unfortunately, Greenwald’s most recent defense of Vladimir Putin’s propaganda network does little to counter the charge of double standards.
The Wake Up and Smell the Bacon device plugs into the headphone jack of an iPhone, and when it’s activated, the device emits a small puff of the scent of bacon, with the accompanying sizzle sound.
Bacon lovers — and who isn’t? — can start applying Thursday to get the device for free; it won’t be sold in stores and quantities are limited.
“With nearly two million mentions of #bacon on Instagram, it seems people never get tired of bacon,” said Tom Bick of Oscar Mayer in a news release announcing the device. “Oscar Mayer is thrilled to bring the first-ever, bacon-scented mobile device to market, giving bacon aficionados a new reason to welcome their morning alarm clocks.”
Bacon fans can apply to win one of the devices each day from now through April 4, by going here.
Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum who last month debated TV personality Bill Nye “The Science Guy” pitting his Biblical literalism against Darwinian evolution, says the highly publicized showdown has been like manna from heaven for a foundering $73 million Noah’s Ark theme park.
“It was a challenging time, one that on a human level required a miracle to overcome,” Ham, who heads the Answers in Genesis ministry, said in a statement of the near collapse of funding for the long-delayed Ark Encounter park. “And God in His providence supplied our needs.”
Nye is widely viewed as having won that debate, but Ham may have gotten the last word: on Thursday he announced that his Creation Museum’s proposed Noah’s Ark theme park, including a 510-foot replica of the Biblical vessel, had against all odds secured a last-minute $62 million municipal bond offering.