Posts Tagged ‘STEM’

Junk Science

September 10, 2015

Writing for Salon Jack Mirkinson submitted an essay entitled “The media vs. the American worker: How the 1 percent hijacked the business of news This Labor Day, we have one simple question for media professionals: Why don’t you care about the middle class?” (Salon 9-7-15) Mirkinson writes:

“Now, this is not to say that there is an overt conspiracy going on at CBS News or NBC News or wherever else to crowd out coverage of labor issues and stories of working people, or that there is never any good coverage of these issues to be found these days. The news just doesn’t work that way. But media ownership matters because the owners hire the people who hire the people who hire the people, and what are all those people going to be taught? So much of journalism today consists of an elite class covering the world, and you’d be crazy to think that that has no impact on the way journalists think. Our news agenda reflects not a smoke-filled room but rather an unthinking understanding, passed down through the years, about who and what deserves to command our attention. Labor issues and unions inevitably lose.”

Yawn. It’s not like this hasn’t been said repeatedly (“Billionaire CEOs, meanwhile, got lots of chances to put forward their vision of the American economy: Guests that were identified as current or former corporate CEOs made 12 appearances, including former AOL head Steve Case (Meet the Press, 4/6/14), Apple CEO Tim Cook (This Week, 3/30/14) and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (Fox News Sunday, 6/22/14). Former Hewlett Packard CEO and Republican political candidate Carly Fiorina made four appearances.”). Rather, it’s the insidious “un” spectacular occurrences that underscore how corporate ownership has determined who, what, where, how, and when. The latest is Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of National Geographic, the science publication that most readers cut their teeth on. Reuters reports (9-10-15) U.S. court finds EPA was wrong to approve Dow pesticide harmful to bees By Carey Gillam. “The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, is significant for commercial beekeepers and others who say a dramatic decline in bee colonies needed to pollinate key food crops is tied to widespread use of a class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids. Critics say the Environmental Protection Agency is failing to evaluate the risks thoroughly.” To which “Agrichemical companies that sell neonicotinoid products say mite infestations and other factors are the cause of bee demise.” What happened to “science” and a government agency that stakes its being on scientific criteria? Somewhere in the Bush years it was determined that the clients these agencies serve are the large enterprises, the very ones regulated by these government entities, and not the public (W is quoted as prescribing just that). But wait, there’s more! Same day Reuters also reports from Europe that “French court confirms Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning” “A French court upheld on Thursday a 2012 ruling in which Monsanto was found guilty of chemical poisoning of a French farmer, who says he suffered neurological problems after inhaling the U.S. company’s Lasso weedkiller.” “Lasso is not Monsanto’s sole herbicide accused of being harmful. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in March that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, one of the world’s most used herbicides, was “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Monsanto reacted to the finding in June by demanding a retraction, labeling the findings by a team of international cancer scientists as “junk science.”” Now we have Sarah Palin rebutting President Obama’s recent visit to her home state with claims that he got it all wrong. Glaciers are growing. Is it any wonder that no reports of anything said by Bernie Sanders ever appear in the Newark Advocate? Or that no reports surfaced this summer that “Thousands gather to protest government corruption in Guatemala By Associated Press 13 Jun 2015 Every Saturday for nearly two months, Constitution Square outside Guatemala City’s National Palace has overflowed with thousands of protesters demanding an end to corruption and the resignation of President Otto Perez Molina.” (from the UK’s Telegraph) These demonstrations (unprecedented given the repressive history of Guatemala) originated in April of this year, have continued unabated since, and ultimately resulted in Molina’s ouster. Who knew that people could accomplish such things on their own? Mirkinson got one thing right. “Our news agenda reflects not a smoke-filled room but rather an unthinking understanding, passed down through the years, about who and what deserves to command our attention.”

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Separate But Equal

April 25, 2014

The Oklahoma legislature passed SB 1456, signed into law by Governor Mary Fallin on 4-21-14. Okies who own their own wind turbine generators or solar panels will now receive an additional charge from the utility companies for “growing their own.” Republican Governor Fallin, recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) 2013 Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award, as well as $26,000 in campaign contributions from the “energy and natural resources sector”, issued an executive order undoing the legislation the very next day. This flies in the face of not only ALEC, but the Koch brother’s Americans For Prosperity efforts to undermine and undo renewable energy options, requirements and alternatives. Ironically, part of the opposition for OK’s catering to ALEC and the Koch’s was led by Barry Goldwater Jr. and TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed). In Ohio, which has a similar Republican dominated legislature, governor, etc., ALEC and AFP (Americans For Prosperity) has gotten the legislature to call a “time out” on previous requirements that a percentage of Ohio’s energy come from alternative sources, like wind or solar. The situation highlights something other than an alliance of tea baggers with greenies. It brings to the surface a society of separate but equal not witnessed since before the 1960’s. It is separate but equal in terms of conservatives and progressives. Oh yeah, you’ve got your recycling, your green aspirations, community gardens, renewable energy, sustainable living and social programs. But please, let’s not integrate those into our economic priority, business first, money up front governance. Thank you. Whether plastic or paper, creationist or Darwinist, fracking earthquakes or bunk, global warming or bunk again, home schooling (private) or professional (public), it is all considered merely a choice, something separate but equal in terms of actual functioning. In the 4-25-14 online Advocate, Early education key to interest, skill in STEM fields, Kent Mallet reports on the Licking County Chamber of Commerce Local Leaders Breakfast panel discussion. No one disputes that Americans struggle with proficiency in math and the sciences, and that current and future vocations emphasize aptitude in this area. Quotes like Marcia Downes (of The Works), ““The kids have open minds. It’s our parents who really struggle with STEM education.”” and Dr. Bonnie Coe (of COTC) ““Colleges and universities are no longer recruiting at the senior level, but the middle school and junior high level. We have to get to these young people at an earlier age.”” make it sound as though somehow or other this is a separate entity, separate process of learning (“It’s our parents…” “these young people”). At the end of the article OSU-N’s Bill MacDonald honestly admits ““I’m an example of someone who didn’t have it figured out.” MacDonald went from loving science and math as a sophomore to a TV and film major in his third year in college. He then became a sociologist.” At the end Mallett writes, “The best way for a child to discover what career may interest them is simply doing a variety of things.” Integration is a necessary part of learning.

Separate but equal as détente is likewise illusionary. Separate but equal appears to “have it figured out.” History has shown not. You can’t stress separate STEM priority and then turn around, saying the science is insufficient for claims of professional education approaches over legislated alternatives, of earthquakes and injection well relationships, of global warming and fossil fuel preference, and that evolution is separate but equal to creationism. The Chamber can’t promote STEM and at the same time leadership that legislates a “time out” for alternate energy requirement. The Chamber’s “leadership” focus on STEM presents a good image while separately their support of ALEC modeled legislation reveals an actuality that is completely unequal.