Los Angeles Unified School District Is Leading the Way In Solar Education

With the current economic crisis, rising unemployment and dwindling oil reserves, many people including President Obama are talking about developing a green economy. One Los Angeles school district is well on its way to training tomorrow’s green workers. Check out the video.




The Caramel Bella is Blogging Live from Ted “Ideas Empowered” Conference..




Coming Soon at 1 p.m. Caramel Bella Live Blogging for CNN at Ted “Ideas Empowered” Conference

Today I will be blogging live for CNN at the Ted “Ideas Empowered” conference being held at USC. The stated goal:

“To bring together leading minds from USC and beyond to share ideas, hear entertaining and thought-provoking talks on important and surprising topics, and inspire innovation that will ultimately make real impact. A partial list of this year’s speakers and performers include a rock star that has sold more than 25 million albums, one of the creators of the most complex scientific instrument in the world, and an inventor who is restoring sight to the blind.”

The topic is somewhat of a mystery. To peak your interest a bit, I’ve been told we’re discussing issues like the Big Bang theory, saving the world, breeding fish, and a whole bunch of other topics.

Here is a sample of what you can expect to hear about from a previous conference in March.

Stay tuned. The event begins at 1 p.m. today (PST) / 4 p.m. (EST). Don’t miss my live blogging — get a heads up on what today’s thought leaders are thinking.

See you at 1 p.m.,

The Caramel Bella




First Video Blog: CB’s Green Report

As promised, I’m beginning my foray into video blogging. I’ve decided to start with my Green Reports. If you have a couple of moments, please watch my first episode of The Caramel Bella’s Green Report. And check out my YouTube channel, which will be my show’s home! I’d love to hear your comments. And I promise.. they’ll get better over time.

Smooches,

The Caramel Bella




CB’s Green Report: Drought Conditions Worsen Southwest Water Crisis

As if the fight over water from the Colorado River and Lake Mead could get any worse in the Southwest, the area is facing extreme drought conditions. A recent USA Today article reports that January and February 2009 are the driest beginning of any year since America started keeping precipitation records over a century ago. These low water levels are causing severe droughts in Texas and California, which exacerbates the water crisis in the Southwest.

USA-Today-drought-map-320.jpg

The map reflects the exceptional (brown-red), extreme (orange) and severe (dark yellow) water problems in California, Nevada and Texas.

USA-Today-Precipitation-Map320.jpg

Richard Heim, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center told USA Today that the 2.69-inch average rainfall across the U.S. in January and February is the least amount of moisture in those months since NOAA began keeping records in 1895.

USA-Today-Drought-Record-sm.jpg

The current dry spell started in Central Texas in 2007, and hit California along with the rest of the Southwest in 2006. Los Angeles only received 3 inches of rain during 2006-2007, its driest year on record.

As a result of these prolonged drought conditions in California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a drought emergency in February 2009.  For the first time in 15 years, Los Angeles is planning to implement a water rationing system – achieved “through price-enforced household conservation and tough new lawn watering restrictions.”

“The level of severity of this drought is something we haven’t seen since the early 1970s,” Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said in unveiling his city’s drought plan, which also would put more water cops on the beat.

And to save endangered fish populations, the courts are reducing the amount of water taken from rivers (Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water source in Northern California). Water officials also decided to cut their Sierra Mountains water source pumped to cities and irrigation districts by 85 percent according to Reuters. These measures highlights the growing tensions between farms/agricultural water uses and animals as well farms/agricultural versus urban/metropolitan water needs.

Thus, another major loser in the water fight are farmers and ranchers.

California farmers lost more than $300 million in 2008 and economic losses may accelerate to 10 times that this year as 95,000 people lose their jobs. Farmers will get zero water from the main federal supplier (Reuters).

As farms continue to suffer, major Southwest cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix are growing in population. People are moving to the warm sunbelt.

“For the last few years, the driest states, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, have been the fastest growing. And you know that can’t be sustained,” said James Powell to Reuters.  Powell is the author of “Dead Pool,” a book about global warming and water in the U.S. West.

It’s not surprising that California, the world’s eighth-largest economy, uses enough water to cover the state of Washington in a foot of water.  And approximately 80 percent of the water is used by farms growing crops like organic lettuce and rice. The drought induced water cutback to the farms will cause a dramatic decrease in California’s agricultural production —- which has serious economic implications as well as food supply ramifications.

And to make matters even worse, the droughts are making California more vulnerable to wildfires.  Last year, a record 500,000 Southern Californians had to vacate their homes because of fires.

State officials are using prison inmate crews to clear away brush and create fire breaks around communities to reduce the risk of wildfires, said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (USA Today).

A water shortage, drought conditions, fewer crops and the potential for fires is a red flag for an impending disaster.




CB Reviews “Watchmen”: It’s A Smiley Face Turned Upside-Down!

It’s really bad when the state of humanity hinges on a bunch of pseudo-sadomasochists parading around as costumed heroes who haphazardly decide to save the world for mere kicks and giggles.  This is the twisted sense of humor and entire point of the mystery adventure Watchman.

This 2009 American superhero film is based on DC Comics’ award-winning, limited series graphic novel (1986-1987) illustrated by Dave Gibbons. Zack Snyder, who is famous for the adaptation of the 300 graphic novel, directed the movie. And Lawrence Gordon (Die Hard), Lloyd Levin (United 93) and Deborah Snyder (300) had a hand in producing it.  However viewers should not expect the same level of cinematic beauty or the type of compelling storytelling in Watchmen that Snyder showed us was possible in 300. Instead, the long and needlessly drawn out film, which lasts a restless 2 hours and 43 minutes, has the audience wishing for their own superhero powers to teleport themselves out of the theater.

Watchmen begins in the year of 1985, and tells the tale of a group of former vigilantes who used to dress up as superheroes. Although the somewhat-counterfeit crime fighters have “retired,” a couple of them decide to pay attention to the nuclear threat (read: end of world scenario) and tension between the United States and Russia.

The stakes are high but the audience’s investment in the protagonists or their success is relatively low. This weak story drags on for a full hour and forty minutes and consists of confession after confession from weary and depressed individuals who must decide if they are really going to solve the weak mystery, which is somehow connected to the complete obliteration of mankind (for the remaining hour).

smile

And here is where this artificial set of superheroes is exposed. Aren’t most superheroes like Superman concerned with unnecessary violence and killing people? Don’t most champions of justice risk their lives to save others and humanity? And don’t all superheroes have a special power or two that us mere mortals could only dream of?

On these accounts, viewers could legitimately question whether the movie had any bona fide superheroes at all. The protagonists, with the exception of the neon blue Dr. Manhattan, actually lacked any “real” or perceived super powers. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) can see into the future and teleport himself all over the universe after a science lab mistake. Next to him, the other hero hopefuls are pretty laughable. Heck, all they want to do is fight for fun and stave off boredom.

And speaking of characters, there were only a few that are truly memorable. There was the demented and bloodthirsty Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), whose street name was Walter Kovacs. Although his journal accounts provide the framework for the story, the inkblot masked Rorschach’s killing scenes will make the audience wonder if the film was written or produced by Quentin Tarantino.

And then there’s Laurie Jupiter (Malin Akerman), whose action hero’s name is Silk Spectre II. She had only one bona fide power — her drop dead gorgeous looks that captured the attention of her fellow superheroes. Other than a decent left hook and a swift kick, she disappointed the audience who expected a more Wonder Woman-like performance due to their close resemblance achieved through casting, makeup and wardrobe. (more…)




Dwayne Johnson as the Angry “Rock Obama” on Saturday Night Live

Since his entry into the national political landscape, most of us have been wondering when will the ultra smooth, never ruffled President Barack Obama lose his cool? Well, Saturday Night Live and Dwayne Johnson (“The Rock”) answer this question for us in a recent skit. A staffer prods President Obama to get angry with Republican Senators who oppose his bills. After a round of questions peppered with baby insults, Obama finally gets mad (in a “Hulk-like” fashion). So now people know… when Barack Obama becomes angry — he really turns into the “Rock Obama.” Check out the video.




What CB’s Jammin To: Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It” featuring T-Pain


Blame It – Jamie Foxx feat. T-Pain

It’s been a minute since I posted a music favorite because I honestly have to FEEL the song. Well, Jamie Foxx gets this CARAMEL BELLA’s music pick. His latest, “Blame It,” featuring T-Pain, off his “Intuition” album is soo hot that it hasn’t left my CD changer or iTunes since I started playing it. I commute about 30 minutes to graduate school  each day and sometimes I repeat the song the whole way (yes, I know.. a bit excessive).  It’s just what a girl needs to get excited about the day (and wake up).

But speaking of the song and its lyrics. You have to love the lines:

“She said she usually don’t…But I know that she fronts. ‘Cause shorty knows what she wants. She doesn’t want to seem like she’s easy..”

So ladies, do we blame alcohol for our intimate (*wink*) indiscretions? And fellas, do you buy the bellas drinks to lower their inhibitions?? Hmmm.. Interesting things to ponder while shaking your butt to Foxx’s “Blame It.”

And check out all the celebrities in the video (directed by Hype Williams): Forrest Whitaker, Samuel L. Jackson, Ron Howard, Jake Gyllenhaal, and of course T-Pain. It seems more like a mini-movie than your usual hip hop video fare.

Enjoy!

Smooches,

The Caramel Bella




Twitter..Life in 140 Characters or Less

twitter-window

Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Hopefully by now, you’ve heard all about it. News on Twitter (the free microblogging service that let’s you send 140-character messages on whatever you want) is everywhere. It’s as if the media has twitter diarrhea because lately it’s all they are talking about. Reporters from all across the country are joining Twitter in droves and writing about their experiences like David Pogue of the NYT.

Now the media discussion has changed slightly from “hey, there’s this new service called Twitter” to it’s impact on the world of journalism. As Reuters reports, “News organizations are all a-twitter about Twitter: Is it a friend or a foe? Should it be embraced or eschewed? Will Twitter kill journalism or revive it?”

And then you have media outlets like the Financial Times that are trying to teach their readers about the culture and language of Twitter. You know, twitter messages are called “tweets.” The peeps who sign up to read your messages are “followers.” And when you send out someone else’s tweet, you are “re-tweeting.”(This is easily done by addressing your message to a follower by adding an “@” sign to their name, i.e., @faraichideya.)

And as interesting (or not) as this whole conversation about what Twitter is, the better question to ask is why are people using it? Why has Twitter caught on?

The media’s recent discussion and “discovery” is quite amusing to several of us (myself included), who has used Twitter for six months or more (called early adopters) because it used to be a new tool. There was something special about discovering it. Twitter’s long-time users have several reasons for loving and using the free, web-based service.

Like a lot of users, Danyel Smith (@danamo), editor of Vibe, (who I am a big fan of) started using the service because she was curious about it.

danamo

Others like novelist/music journalist/cultural critic Touré (@ToureX) thought it could help his professional writing skills.

tourex

BTW, he doesn’t really need any help in this area but it’s somehow endearing that he is continuously thinking about and working on his writing. It makes us think he is just like the rest of us, which is one of the beauties of Twitter. Unlike traditional media, which tends to be top-down or a one-way means of “them” telling “us” as readers something, Twitter creates a one-on-one conversation where anyone with a Twitter account can join in the conversation. It’s about two-way communication. Several journalists even started asking their Twitter followers if there were questions they wanted to ask in an important interview. Thus, it’s revolutionizing the way journalism is being done.

Many folks are joining because their favorite celebrities are on Twitter. There are few places in the world where you can talk to TV and movie stars like Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk) and his wife Demi Moore (@mrskutcher)… and they might talk back. Twitter has given regular folks yet another window into the daily lives of stars through their Twitter streams. You can find all sorts of celebs from Britney Spears (@britneyspears) to Puff Daddy (@iamdiddy) to MC Hammer (@MCHammer) to Omarosa (@omarosa). They are all there – tweeting away!

twitterati

Gawker even started tracking Twitter accounts with their daily posting of the Twitterati. It’s hilarious and a reminder that people are broadcasting their thoughts out onto the Internet for anyone to read (unless you adjust your privacy settings). And now, a person’s tweets (Senators, writers, TV stars and regular people) have somehow become the news and fodder for the media? Interesting flip!

And there are thousands that are just like me, who also use Twitter because it helps us connect with people – new and old friends. It even helps you meet like-minded folks. Whatever you are into, there is someone on Twitter that likes the same thing. (And you can use Twitter’s search site to find posts on your favorite subject.)

Twitter also keeps you informed and quickly (if you follow the right folks). And you don’t have to check thousands of news sites or even go to a RSS feed service. If you are following @CNN or @Drudge_Report or other media sites and the reporters that have recently hopped on-board, you will be definitely be in the know. And if you downloaded Twitterific or Tweetie for your iPhone (or Twitterberry for your Blackberry), you have these conversations and breaking news at your fingertips.

And obviously, if you have something interesting to say or sell, you should be using Twitter. Except beware, no one likes a constant self-promoter. The Twitter world is all about the give and take of information… you know, sharing. It feels like a conversation (although at times a bit scattered), but a talk nonetheless.

The merits of Twitter and its impact on media will be debated for years to come. But with technology giants, like Google (@Google) joining the Twitter fray, isn’t it time you checked it out for yourself. Don’t take my word for it or the thousands of media folks ranting or raving about it. See for yourself.. You may become a Tweetering fool that neglects their Facebook account for a bit (or is that just me).

Note: post also appears on HuffingtonPost and Pop+Politics




CB’s Review: “The Class (Entre Les Mur)”: Who is Teaching Who?

If you ever wanted to understand why teaching puberty-ridden, curious and often rebellious high school kids is a tough job, just watch the French film, The Class (Entre Les Murs). This movie dives into the deep end of the complexities of teaching a multi-ethnic, socioeconomic diverse class in the new immigrant rich France.

The Class (2008) takes place inside the narrow confines of the high school campus, which may sound limiting, but it was a careful choice made by director Laurent Cantet.  The docudrama is based on a book and screenplay written by François Bégaudeau, the author and teacher who plays himself in the movie. It is a somewhat loose day-in-the-life story of his struggles to teach a diverse class of challenging students.

Most viewers realize the teachers are in for a rough time from the very first scene. Smartly foreshadowing the year to come, a group of teachers meet to prepare for the incoming students. The team shares its words of encouragement and advice, especially for the rookies. A retiring teacher said “[He’d] like to wish the new arrivals plenty of courage” because he knew they would need it.

The complexity of courage and respect are played out in the film’s French classroom and in “real-world” classrooms internationally. François, and the other teachers, wear a shield of courage each day to face the brutal, disruptive and demanding students. Like the new France, François’ class had students of all nationalities – Moroccan, Mali, Chinese as well as other African and Middle Eastern nations. The Class proves that teachers also needed respect to understand the daily battles their first and second-generation immigrant students encountered in their tough French neighborhoods. These constant clashes between teacher and student for understanding left the audience with mixed sympathies.

This push-pull tension around respect in the classroom was played out perfectly as the movie went from scene to scene. Several students, like Khoumba, a sharp-tongued, moody African girl, were quick to demand respect from their snappy and exasperated teacher. In one power play, she is scolded by François for her insolence in class after refusing to read aloud. In a tug-of-war after class discussion, François demands a sincere apology from her. Feeling a lack of respect shown, she offers a half-hearted apology and runs off to join her friends who waited and snickered in the hallway. Seeking to provide balance to the commentary on respect, the film shows another side of Khoumba, as a sensitive, emotional teenaged girl. In a well-written note to François, she explains how she feels disrespected by him.

(more…)




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my luvs

My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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Bad drivers, cranky and moody people, lack of sleep, crime, filth

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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