Tuesday, May 13, 2014

#HEADLINES: West Antarctica Ice Sheet Collapse, Why Neil deGrasse Tyson is a Philistine, Pre-K Availability Varies By State, Russian and Chinese Land Grabs, Qatar World Cup

West Antarctica ice sheet collapse: 'it will change the coastline of the world' -- The Guardian
"The rise is pretty exceptional in historical terms, at rates that haven't been seen since the end of the last ice age. And this is the first time we are seeing rates like this with a very large human population.

We have to adapt to it. For us as a society, that's a really big deal, it's going to have a destablising effect, it's going to be very expensive, and it's going to very hard."


Why Neil deGrasse Tyson is a philistine -- The Week
"He proudly proclaims his irritation with 'asking deep questions' that lead to a 'pointless delay in your progress' in tackling 'this whole big world of unknowns out there.' When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, 'I'm moving on, I'm leaving you behind, and you can't even cross the street because you're distracted by deep questions you've asked of yourself. I don't have time for that.'

'I don't have time for that.'

With these words, Tyson shows he's very much a 21st-century American, living in a perpetual state of irritated impatience and anxious agitation. Don't waste your time with philosophy! (And, one presumes, literature, history, the arts, or religion.) Only science will get you where you want to go! It gets results! Go for it! Hurry up! Don't be left behind! Progress awaits!"


Pre-K Availability Varies By State -- Associated Press
"A new report to be released Tuesday finds wide disparities in the number of spots available for publicly funded preschool programs. A whopping 94 percent of 4-year-olds attended such a program in the District of Columbia and more than 7 out of 10 did in Florida, Oklahoma and Vermont. Ten states had no such program.

In fact, even as lawmakers from both parties have embraced the idea of expanding early childhood programs, the number of children enrolled in state preschool programs saw a modest decline of about 9,200 children in the 2012-2013 school year — the first such reduction since 2002, when researchers at Rutgers University started tracking pre-K trends. Even as funding increased from a year earlier, more than half of states with programs made cuts."




Near and far, small countries are worrying over Russia's and China's territorial grabs -- Quartz
"In eastern Ukraine, the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are holding referendums today on whether to declare themselves separate nations. Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces have been at battle in the nearby cities of Mariupol, Odessa, and Slovyansk, too. If the vote is to separate, leaders in Kyiv warn that the country and its social system, bereft of its industrial core, will collapse.

Recent remarks by Russian president Vladimir Putin, urging the postponement of the referendums, could suggest that even he may recognize that he took his brinksmanship with Kyiv too far. But it appears to be too late to call off the vote as events have assumed a life of their own.

The context is a two-decade-old Russian playbook whose previous victims have included Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Moldova. In those cases and in Ukraine, Russia has used unmarked, clandestine forces to needle latent ethnic or clan tensions left over from the Soviet period, resulting in the outbreak of violence. Both Azerbaijan and Georgia lost about 20% of their territory in their respective conflicts, and Ukraine seems on the way to a similar fate after the departure of Crimea and now with parts of eastern Ukraine up in flames."


Qatar urged to reform labour laws as World Cup nears -- The Guardian
"A series of countries have piled pressure on Qatar to reform its labour laws to prevent mistreatment of migrant workers helping prepare for the 2022 World Cup.

Many of the 84 countries speaking at the UN Human Rights Council panel reviewing Qatar's human rights record called on the Gulf state to scrap its kafala sponsorship system that restricts each of its 1.4 million migrant workers to a single employer.

Several also linked Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup directly with the need for labour reform."

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