Mercury Poisoning Prevention (video from AOL.com)

December 28, 2011

Video – Some fish have levels of mercury so high that it may be harmful, especially for pregnant women and young children. Find out if you may have been exposed to mercury.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

AOL.com Video – Mercury Poisoning Prevention, posted with vodpod

Remember these prevention tips.

Ask yourself:  If mercury poisoning is not a problem worthy of EPA’s new standards to prevent mercury pollution, why are health officials warning us to restrict our intake of fish that soak up the mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants?

 

[No, I can’t figure out why the video doesn’t show here.  Look at the VodPod widget in the right column, a bit lower, and look at the video there.  Or, click on the link, and go to the site with the video.]


25 new gems added to Library of Congress National Film Registry

December 28, 2011

Some you’ve loved forever, some you’ve never heard of (but now ought to seek out to view):  The Library of Congress announced 25 new films added to the National Film Registry, the list of great films we all ought to know about.

This year’s list covers 82 years of cinema, from 1912’s “The Cry of the Children” through 1992’s “El Mariachi” to 1994’s “Forrest Gump.”  It’s a very diverse list, from big Hollywood productions through animation, test films and even a series of home movies.

Here’s the list, followed by the press release; the list with descriptions of each film is below the fold.

Films Selected to the 2011 National Film Registry

  1. Allures (1961)
  2. Bambi (1942)
  3. The Big Heat (1953)
  4. A Computer Animated Hand (1972)
  5. Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment (1963)
  6. The Cry of the Children (1912)
  7. A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
  8. El Mariachi (1992)
  9. Faces (1968)
  10. Fake Fruit Factory (1986)
  11. Forrest Gump (1994)
  12. Growing Up Female (1971)
  13. Hester Street (1975)
  14. I, an Actress (1977)
  15. The Iron Horse (1924)
  16. The Kid (1921)
  17. The Lost Weekend (1945)
  18. The Negro Soldier (1944)
  19. Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s-40s)
  20. Norma Rae (1979)
  21. Porgy and Bess (1959)
  22. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  23. Stand and Deliver (1988)
  24. Twentieth Century (1934)
  25. War of the Worlds (1953)

The press release:

December 28, 2011

2011 National Film Registry More Than a Box of Chocolates

“Forrest Gump,” “Bambi,” “Stand and Deliver” Among Registry Picks

“My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” That line was immortalized by Tom Hanks in the award-winning movie “Forest Gump” in 1994. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today selected that film and 24 others to be preserved as cultural, artistic and historical treasures in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

Spanning the period 1912-1994, the films named to the registry include Hollywood classics, documentaries, animation, home movies, avant-garde shorts and experimental motion pictures. Representing the rich creative and cultural diversity of the American cinematic experience, the selections range from Walt Disney’s timeless classic “Bambi” and Billy Wilder’s “The Lost Weekend,” a landmark film about the devastating effects of alcoholism, to a real-life drama between a U.S. president and a governor over the desegregation of the University of Alabama. The selections also include home movies of the famous Nicholas Brothers dancing team and such avant-garde films as George Kuchar’s hilarious short “I, an Actress.” This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 575.

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. “These films are selected because of their enduring significance to American culture,” said Billington. “Our film heritage must be protected because these cinematic treasures document our history and culture and reflect our hopes and dreams.”

Annual selections to the registry are finalized by the Librarian after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public (this year 2,228 films were nominated) and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB). The public is urged to make nominations for next year’s registry at NFPB’s website (www. loc.gov/film).

In other news about the registry, “These Amazing Shadows,” a documentary about the National Film Registry, will air nationally on the award-winning PBS series “Independent Lens” on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 10 p.m (check local listings). Written and directed by Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton, this critically acclaimed documentary has also been released on DVD and Blu-ray and will be available through the Library of Congress Shop (www.loc.gov/shop/).

For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations, either through the Library’s massive motion-picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion-picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (www.loc.gov/avconservation/). 

The Packard Campus is home to more than six million collection items, including nearly three million sound recordings. It provides staff support for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board, the National Recording Preservation Board and the National Registries for film and recorded sound.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.

Below the fold you’ll find a description of each film.

Read the rest of this entry »


Why you should be concerned about mercury pollution

December 28, 2011

Mercury poisoning marches through our culture with a 400-year-old trail, at least.  “Mad as a hatter” refers to the nerve damage hatmakers in Europe demonstrated, nerve damage we now know came from mercury poisoning.

In the 20th century annals of pollution control, the Minimata disaster stands as a monument to unintended grotesque consequences of pollution, of mercury poisoning.

A key Japanese documentary on the disaster is now available from Zakka Films on DVD, with English subtitles.

Anyone who scoffs at EPA’s four-decades of work to reduce mercury pollution should watch this film before bellyaching about damage to industry if we don’t allow industry to kill babies and kittens in blind, immoral pursuit of profit at public expense.

American Elephants, for example, is both shameless and reckless  in concocting lies about mercury pollution regulation (that site will not allow comments that do not sing in harmony with the pro-pollution campaign (I’d love for someone to prove me wrong)).  Almost every claim made at that post is false.  Mercury is not harmless; mercury from broken CFL bulbs cannot begin to compare to mercury in fish and other animals; mercury pollution is not minuscule (mercury warnings stand in all 48 contiguous states, warning against consumption of certain fish).  President Obama has never urged anything but support for the coal-fired power industry — although he has expressed concerns about pollution, as any sane human would.

Republicans have lost their moral compass, and that loss is demonstrated in the unholy campaign for pollution, the campaign against reducing mercury emissions.  It’s tragic.  Action will be required in November to stop the tragedy from spreading.  Will Americans respond as they should at the ballot boxes?

Can you watch “Minimata:  The Victims and Their World,” and not urge stronger controls on mercury emissions?  Can you support the murder of children and workers, for profit?


Heart of Atlanta Motel and civil rights

December 28, 2011

PG posted this photo in one of his collections at Chamblee54:

Heart of Atlanta Motel, 1956 - Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library

Heart of Atlanta Motel, 1956 - Special Collections and Archives,Georgia State University Library

I wondered whether this is the motel in the case testing the 1964 Civil Rights Act — and sure enough, it is.  The case was decided, finally, by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964, Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc., v. United States, 379 U.S. 241 (1964) .

This important case represented an immediate challenge to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the landmark piece of civil rights legislation which represented the first comprehensive act by Congress on civil rights and race relations since the Civil Rights Act of 1875. For much of the 100 years preceding 1964, race relations in the United States had been dominated by segregation, a system of racial separation which, while in name providing for “separate but equal” treatment of both white and black Americans, in truth perpetuated inferior accommodation, services, and treatment for black Americans.

During the mid-20th century, partly as a result of cases such as Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45 (1932); Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944); Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948); Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629 (1950); McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637 (1950); NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958); Boynton v. Virginia, 364 U.S. 454 (1960) and probably the most famous, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the tide against segregation began to turn. However, segregation remained in full effect into the 1960s in parts of the southern United States, where the Heart of Atlanta Motel was located, despite these decisions.

The Atlanta Time Machine, a great collection of photos in the history of Atlanta and Georgia, has more photos, and this description of the site:

The Heart of Atlanta motel, located at 255 Courtland Street NE, was owned by Atlanta attorney Moreton Rolleston Jr.  Rolleston, a committed segregationist, refused to rent rooms at his hotel to black customers.  Upon passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Rolleston immediately filed suit in federal court to assert that the law was the result of an overly broad interpretation of the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause.  Rolleston represented himself in the case, HEART OF ATLANTA MOTEL, INC. v. UNITED STATES ET AL., which  went all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  Rolleston lost when the Supreme Court ruled that Congress was well within its powers to regulate interstate commerce in such a manner.  The Hilton Hotel now stands on the former site of the Heart of Atlanta Motel.

Texts in law school rarely have illustrations.  I know the motel mostly as a citation on pages of text, great grey oceans of somnambulent text.  This case is important in civil rights, though it is mentioned almost never in history texts.  What are these cases really about?  These photos offer us insight.

The Heart of Atlanta Motel aspired to greatness in the late 1950s and 1960s — evidenced by this publicity flyer photo from the Atlanta Time Machine; notice the flag flying for the motel’s Seahorse Lounge (Atlanta is landlocked):

Heart of Atlanta Motel publicity photo - Atlanta Time Machine

Heart of Atlanta Motel publicity photo - Atlanta Time Machine; not just a podunk "motor lodge," but a "resort motel." Click for larger image.

For the 1960s, this place offered great amenities, including two swimming pools and in-room breakfast service.

Flyer for the Heart of Atlanta Motel, circa 1960 - Atlanta Time Machine image

Flyer for the Heart of Atlanta Motel, circa 1960 - Atlanta Time Machine image

This photo is amusing — I can just imagine the difficulties of launching a motor boat of this size in one of the swimming pools, obviously for a publicity stunt.  The photo is dated February 27, 1960, in the Pullen Library Collection.

Boat in the pool at the Heart of Atlanta Motel, 1960 - Atlanta Time Machine image

Boat in the pool at the Heart of Atlanta Motel, 1960 - Atlanta Time Machine image

To compare how times have changed, you may want to look at this aerial photo of the area, including the Heart of Atlanta Hotel, and compare it with modern photos which show the Hilton Hotel that replaced the property.

Rolleston appears to have had a big ego.  As noted above, he represented himself in this case, and he argued it in the Supreme Court.  Here’s a picture from about that time, from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School “Famous Trials” site:

Moreton Rolleston, Jr., owner of the Heart of Atlanta Motel and the attorney who argued the case at the Supreme Court - UMKC Law School image

Moreton Rolleston, Jr., owner of the Heart of Atlanta Motel and the attorney who argued the case at the Supreme Court - UMKC Law School image; photo: Wayne Wilson/Leviton-Atlanta

You may decide for yourself whether this fits the old legal aphorism that a lawyer who represents himself in a case has a fool for a client.  The Oyez site at the University of Chicago provides access to the audio of the oral arguments.  Did Rolleston argue ably?  Rolleston argued against Archibald Cox, who went on to fame in the Watergate scandals.  This appears to have been Rolleston’s only appearance before the Supreme Court; it was Cox’s ninth appearance (he argued 20 cases before the Court in his career, several well known and notable ones).

Heart of Atlanta vs. United States was argued on October 5, 1964.  The opinion was issued on December 14, 1964, a 9-0 decision against Rolleston and segregation authored by Justice Tom C. Clark (one of Dallas’s earliest Eagle Scouts).

This was a fight Mr. Rolleston picked.  He was not cited nor indicted for violation of the Civil Rights Act, but instead asked for an injunction to prevent the law’s enforcement; according to the published decision,

Appellant, the owner of a large motel in Atlanta, Georgia, which restricts its clientele to white persons, three-fourths of whom are transient interstate travelers, sued for declaratory relief and to enjoin enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, contending that the prohibition of racial discrimination in places of public accommodation affecting commerce exceeded Congress’ powers under the Commerce Clause and violated other parts of the Constitution. A three-judge District Court upheld the constitutionality of Title II, §§ 201(a), (b)(1) and (c)(1), the provisions attacked, and, on appellees’ counterclaim, permanently enjoined appellant from refusing to accommodate Negro guests for racial reasons.

Oyez summarizes the case question:

Facts of the Case 

Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade racial discrimination by places of public accommodation if their operations affected commerce. The Heart of Atlanta Motel in Atlanta, Georgia, refused to accept Black Americans and was charged with violating Title II.

Question 

Did Congress, in passing Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, exceed its Commerce Clause powers by depriving motels, such as the Heart of Atlanta, of the right to choose their own customers?

The decision turned on the commerce clause, and the reach of Congressional power to regulate interstate commerce.

Decision: 9 votes for U.S., 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II

The Court held that the Commerce Clause allowed Congress to regulate local incidents of commerce, and that the Civil Right Act of 1964 passed constitutional muster. The Court noted that the applicability of Title II was “carefully limited to enterprises having a direct and substantial relation to the interstate flow of goods and people. . .” The Court thus concluded that places of public accommodation had no “right” to select guests as they saw fit, free from governmental regulation.

Good decision.

Heart of Atlanta Motel is gone.  The site is occupied by the Hilton Atlanta, today.


Annals of Global Warming: Planetary energy budget, for beginners, and climate engineering — from GAO

December 28, 2011

From the General Accountability Office, an arm of Congress, a report to the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Aug 25, 2011
01:16

Global Average Energy Budget of the Earth’s Atmosphere

In eight steps, this animation depicts the path of sunlight that enters the planet’s atmosphere, illustrating how that radiation is reflected, absorbed, and emitted as heat energy.

In less than 90 seconds, an animated, graphic description of how and why global warming occurs.  You didn’t get it in 90 seconds?  Watch it again.  This video was made to accompany a GAO report on climate engineering. (Emphasis added, in red.)

Climate Engineering: Technical Status, Future Directions, and Potential Responses

GAO-11-71, Aug 25, 2011

[135-page report, in .pdf, here]

Summary:  Reports of rising global temperatures have raised questions about responses to climate change, including efforts to (1) reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, (2) adapt to climate change, and (3) design and develop climate engineering technologies for deliberate, large-scale intervention in Earth’s climate. Reporting earlier that the nation lacks a coordinated climate-change strategy that includes climate engineering, GAO now assesses climate engineering technologies, focusing on their technical status, future directions for research on them, and potential responses. To perform this technology assessment, GAO reviewed the peer-reviewed scientific literature and government reports, consulted experts with a wide variety of backgrounds and viewpoints, and surveyed 1,006 adults across the United States. Experts convened with the assistance of the National Academy of Sciences advised GAO, and several reviewed a draft of this report. GAO incorporated their technical and other comments in the final report as appropriate.

Climate engineering technologies do not now offer a viable response to global climate change. Experts advocating research to develop and evaluate the technologies believe that research on these technologies is urgently needed or would provide an insurance policy against worst case climate scenarios–but caution that the misuse of research could bring new risks. Government reports and the literature suggest that research progress will require not only technology studies but also efforts to improve climate models and data. The technologies being proposed have been categorized as carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM). CDR would reduce the atmospheric concentration of CO2, allowing more heat to escape and thus cooling the Earth. For example, proposed CDR technologies include enhancing the uptake of CO2 in oceans and forests and capturing CO2 from air chemically for storage underground. SRM technologies would place reflective material in space or in Earth’s atmosphere to scatter or reflect sunlight (for example, by injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere to scatter incoming solar radiation or brightening clouds) or would increase the planet’s reflectivity (for example, by painting roofs and pavements in light colors). GAO found these technologies currently immature, many with potentially negative consequences. Some studies say, for example, that stratospheric aerosols might greatly reduce summer precipitation in places such as India and northern China. Many experts advocated research because of its potential benefits but also recognized its risks. For example, a country might unilaterally deploy a technology with a transboundary effect. Research advocates emphasized the need for risk management, envisioning a federal research effort that would (1) focus internationally on transparency and cooperation, given transboundary effects; (2) enable the public and national leaders to consider issues before they become crises; and (3) anticipate opportunities and risks. A small number of those we consulted opposed research; they anticipated major technology risks or limited future climate change. Based on GAO’s survey, a majority of U.S. adults are not familiar with climate engineering. When given information on the technologies, they tend to be open to research but concerned about safety.

Transcript of the video, describing each slide, below the fold.

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