FM newswire for 23 December, hot articles for your morning reading

Today’s links to interesting news and analysis.

  1. Technology might re-make the oil sands business
  2. The great western drought:  Lake Mead could be dry by 2021 (it provides 90% of Las Vegas’ water)
  3. America re-segregates
  4. Today’s new climate science scandal
  5. Here’s a real comment policy: RealClimate does hard core censorship
  6. Fox News is the most balanced, per a study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs of George Mason U
  7. Afterword

Excerpts and details

(1)  Technology might re-make the oil sands business

Battle for the oil sands“, Globe and Mail, 18 ‎December 2009‎ — “Across Alberta, companies have spent years developing new technologies that promise cheaper, greener production.”

(2)  The great western drought:  Lake Mead could be dry by 2021 (it provides 90% of Las Vegas’ water)

Lake Mead Could Be Dry by 2021“, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 12 February 2008 — “Analysis of current and scheduled use and human-induced climate change sparks urgent warning from researchers at Scripps Institution.”   Even assuming no climate change, they estimate 10% odds of depletion by 2014 (2015 with global warming), and 50% odds by 2027 (2021 with global warming).  See the abstract here, and more information at the US Bureau of Reclamation website.

(3)  America re-segregates

A powerful report from some confused analysts:  “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge“, Gary Orfield, The Civil Rights Project, January 2009 — Excerpt:

Fifty-five years after the Brown decision, blacks and Latinos in American schools are more segregated than they have been in more than four decades. The Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in the Seattle and Louisville voluntary desegregation cases has not only taken away some important tools used by districts to combat this rising isolation, but this decision is also certain to intensify these trends.

  • Segregation is fast spreading into large sectors of suburbia and there is little or no assistance for communities wishing to resist the pressures of resegregation and ghetto creation in order to build successfully integrated schools and neighborhoods.
  • Desegregation plans that were successful for decades are being shut down by orders from conservative courts, federal civil rights officials have pressured communities to abandon their voluntary desegregation efforts, and magnet schools are losing their focus on desegregation.

Large numbers of multiracial schools are emerging but we know little about how to realize their promise. Although there are serious interracial conflicts in schools and neighborhoods shared by two or more disadvantaged minorities, very little research or assistance has been provided to solve those urgent problems. The percentage of poor children in American schools has been rising substantially and black and Latino students, even those whose families are middle class, are largely attending schools with very high fractions of low-income children who face many problems in their homes and communities.

As immigration continues to transform many sectors of American society this country is falling far behind in building faculties that reflect the diversity of American students — 44% of whom are now nonwhite — and failing to prepare teachers who can communicate effectively with the 20% of homes where another language is spoken as immigration continues to transform many sectors of American society. Millions of nonwhite students are locked into “dropout factory” high schools, where huge percentages do not graduate, have little future in the American economy, and almost none are well prepared for college.

(4)  Today’s new climate science scandal

  1. Questions over business deals of UN climate change guru Dr Rajendra Pachauri “, Daily Telegraph, 20 December 2009 — “The head of the UN’s climate change panel – Dr Rajendra Pachauri – is accused of making a fortune from his links with ‘carbon trading’ companies.
  2. For an explanation of how this violates the UN’s ethics policies:  “Does the IPCC Chairman Have Conflicts of Interest?, Roger Pielke Jr., 20 December 2009.

(6)  Here’s a real comment policy:  about RealClimate does hard core censorship

The RealClimate team does not want to confuse the faithful.  And if that means censoring skeptical comments, esp the ones with logic and  evidence, that’s how propaganda works.  From the liberated CRU emails:

From: Michael E. Mann
To:      Tim Osborn
Date:  9 February 2009

… Anyway, I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through, and we’ll be very careful to answer any questions that come up to any extent we can. On the other hand, you might want to visit the thread and post replies yourself. We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include.

You’re also welcome to do a followup guest post, etc. think of RC as a resource that is at your disposal to combat any disinformation put forward by the McIntyres of the world. Just let us know. We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics dont’get to use the RC comments as a megaphone.

(7)  Fox News is the most balanced, per a study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs of George Mason U

From the “Election Watch: Campaign 2008 Final“, Winter 2009 — Excerpt:

The “FOX difference” lay not in what they covered but in how they covered the campaign. It will come as no surprise to learn that FOX carried the most positive portrayal of McCain and Palin and the most negative portrayals of Obama and Biden. By the same token, however, the tone of FOX’s coverage of the candidates was, if not the fairest, at least the most balanced of the four networks we monitored.

(8)  Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below. Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).  

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.

15 thoughts on “FM newswire for 23 December, hot articles for your morning reading”

  1. “As immigration continues to transform many sectors of American society this country is falling far behind in building faculties that reflect the diversity of American students — 44% of whom are now nonwhite — and failing to prepare teachers who can communicate effectively with the 20% of homes where another language is spoken as immigration continues to transform many sectors of American society…”

    Orfield’s conceit is a common but false one – that if only we could achieve “diversity,” our educational problems would be solved, especially those of the most distressed inner-city schools.
    It matters not what the race or ethnicity of our faculty are, only that they demand excellence
    of their students. Moreover, an educational system that attempts, out of a sense of misplaced
    compassion, to cater to each and every immigrant nationality and language in our schools on
    its own terms, is doomed to costly and tragic failure. California, the canary in the national coalmine, has already tried multiculturalism writ large, and it failed spectacularly. LA County Schools were teaching in some 30 or more langauges at last count, rather than demand that students immerse themselves in English, the native tongue of their adopted land. The result? The creation of a de facto language ghetto in which students lack the basic spoken and written skills to integrate themselves into our economy, and what remains of our national culture.

    To paraphrase the old saying, it can be cruel to be kind. Rather than “helping” immigrants by
    coddling them in their native tongues, we should instead make every effort to teach newcomers English, not to mention American civics, culture, and values, thereby integrating the newest Americans into society, and not walling them off from it. If I left the USA tomorrow for another nation,perhaps France, I would not expect citizens of that country to speak English, and I would as quickly as possible learn French. We must expect the same of immigrants here. To do otherwise in the name of diversity is foolish in the extreme. There is nothing wrong with teachers who look like their students, and share some of their characteristics – but these things should be incidental. What matters is the drive of a given teacher to instill excellence in his students, and teach them well in whatever his respective subject may be.

  2. I’ve been slowly getting more impressed with Fox News. They used to be so far out there that they were completely useless for news. Now they are real contenders as a news source (which you still have to filter, but that’s true of nearly all news sources these days). The question is whether they got better or everybody else got worse.

    On a side note, Bill Clinton did an interview with Newsweek that had a pretty good framework for viewing events around the world. Here’s the link:

  3. Segregation is primarily economic, based on extremely expensive housing in ‘good (gov’t) school’ areas. The best way to reduce segregation is thru school vouchers, allowing the concerned poor parents to choose the best not-too-far school for their children.

    All schools should be teaching in English, with special English Learning courses for any student w/o English.
    Ja hovorim po slovensky, pretoze bevam na slovensko, a myslim ze ludia musi ucit jazyk ktory je dominantny kde byvaju. (I speak Slovak because I live in Slovakia, and think that people must learn the tongue that is dominant where they live.)

    Learning English, or any other language, is hard — but English is the most important learning anybody in America will learn, if they don’t know it. It’s FAR MORE important than any particular subject content.

  4. On Lake Meade, or any fresh water source, this is gov’t failure. Who owns the water?

    The free/ peaceful market depends on clear ownership rights. If nobody owns it, it will be depleted (and ‘wasted’). If somebody owns it, they need to start charging more money to use it. It’s the increase in cost of use that will cause users to ‘conserve’ it, and switch to substitutes so as to use less of it.

    More solar panels throughout Nevada but especially around Vegas would probably be a good idea, too.
    FM reply: That is an absurd analysis. Do you just make these answers up, drawing from a list of 5 right-wing tropes?

    “The free/ peaceful market depends on clear ownership rights. If nobody owns it, it will be depleted (and ‘wasted’). ”

    While true to some extent for underground water, the western has an comprehensive system of allocating ownership rights to water. It’s the economic core of law in the western US, as or more important than property law. Once a drop of rain hits the ground, somebody owns it.

  5. The Oil and Gas journal has a series of lengthy technical articles on oil sands. They are worth the read if you are into that sort of thing. One thing that jumped out was that you need 2 to 3 barrels of water for every barrel of oil you get out. Afterward, the water is polluted and must go thru reclamation. That seemed to be the big hangup. There are also political squabbles between eastern Canada and Alberta which have to be resolved. Alberta may not want to share the profit.

  6. Las Vegas water and Lake Mead has some very interesting recent history. About 5 years ago, SNWA (Southern Nevada Water Authority) authorized the allowing of 23′ of water to go down stream. Testing was the reason given but for some reason water elevation was of no concern. About 2 years ago another 5′ was let out for the same reason. 28′ vertical change is enough water to supply the valley for 5 years!

    In Nevada, underground water is the one thing that has no private owner. It is owned by the state. A gentleman looking for oil claimed to have found two underground rivers and would demonstrate the location, at his cost, and once proven wants to receive $20 million. The state has not taken the offer. If privately held he would develope it himself but will not under the current rights of ownership.

    The motivation behind all this is unknown but I’m sure money has something to do with it.
    FM reply: Do you have any cites or links for this? The SNWA operates only 4 smallish reservoirs.

  7. #5 . Seems logical to me . This is why most Europeans drive little cars – diesel is expensive . Soon we will reinvent the bicycle , or even the stout shoe ,leading to improved health and behavior .
    Also can those solar farms for Vegas employ lots of people to move the panels round and polish them , please , rather than it be done by machines ?

  8. (3) America re-segregates — A powerful report from some confused analysts:

    The unraveling, serial mess in American Public Schools is to me the most symptomatic (and pressing) problem in the USA. Those who are charged with being the RESPONSIBLE party simply throw their hands up? The continual off-he-wall responses to ever increasing signs of failure seem to be the Legacy of the Boomers responsible for this (and many other) PROBLEMS.

    “VOUCHERS” are simply another delaying tactic, another Kick the Can down the Road deferral concocted by the adolescent adults among us.

    I marvel at how we simply refuse to responsibly accept the facts of a life history of failure to shepherd our children.
    What can be said for such a Society? Gregorio

  9. It was not covered online but by the local newspaper. The Las Vegas Review Journal covered it and I cannot find the article on their site. I have worked on several of their lateral project and as well as a pump station and reservoir.
    SNWA must give permission of any release from Lake Mead. I have worked in the civil field for over 20 years and many engineers have started to ask questions about some of the policies of the Authority.
    FM reply: Easy to imagine that the Authority would act in the interest of private rather than public interests. Water is money in the West.

  10. Anna, just had a lift from a friend recently. Nice new VW Golf. 900km out of a 55 ltr tank driving around town. Her previous petrol (gas as you yanks call it) cars 350km-500km. With basically the same size tank (e.g. 60 ltr tank in her previous Subaru Impreza).

    Now thats real a difference in fuel economy. Add that up and (e.g.) a whole lot of the US trade deficit would disappear if everyone drove things like that. It was a really nice car too, plus she was a proper driver as it was a manual gearbox.

  11. Adding: obviously it was a diesel VW. Plus: anyone who has an automatic can’t drive. I’d go further, except for people with special needs, ban all auto greaboxes, there’s at least 10% fuel efficiency added straight off .. cheaper too.

  12. I’d agree with you OldSkeptic, but I’ve got a CVT transmission that seems to be getting considerably better gas mileage than either manual or automatic. Manual is still definitely better than Automatic for gas mileage and funner to drive to boot.

  13. re article #3, “America Re-Segregates”

    The re-segregation that I’ve been reading about for at least the past ten years (and also noticing reflected in the US video media), strikes me as a slow-motion disaster. I consider this syndrome to be similar in kind, to the income inequality that has been discussed here. I would suspect that it has related causes as well.

    If this piece * is correct, and racially integrated upbringing correlates with good life outcomes for all economic classes as well as “races”, then racial integration would seem to be an obvious good. If the statement about african americans who are raised in integrated settings doing better in the workforce is true, then there would seem to be an obvious economic advantage as well. The piece I suspect but can’t find good evidence for, is that in a more segregated society we could return to early-20th Century levels of inter-racial violence: (“The Chicago Race Riot of 1919“, Jazz Age Chicago), (“Race riots, lynchings, and other forms of racism in the 1920s“, page on “The E Pluribus Unum Project“, a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and written by Dr. John McClymer, Dr. Lucia Knowles, & Dr. Arnold Pulda).

    * “Left Behind?“, The American Prospect, Dana Goldstein, 5 Dec. 2007 — excerpt:

    But there’s a problem with that argument: Research shows that students who attended racially and socioeconomically integrated schools have better life outcomes than their nonintegrated peers of similar socioeconomic status. Integrated kids of all classes and races grow up into more tolerant adults. And although integrated schools don’t always do a better job of sending poor, nonwhite kids to college, studies have shown that black students are more likely to be successful in the workforce if they’ve attended integrated schools.

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