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.




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.




Missed Obama’s Economic Recovery Speech Tuesday? Find it here!

If you happened to miss President Obama’s speech last Tuesday, please check out the video below. In his joint session of Congress address, he offered a plan for economic recovery that included a focus on energy, healthcare and education. Check out his speech below!





SNL’s Insight Into The Real GOP Agenda

The opening skit of the recent Saturday Night Live show featured Dan Aykroyd as Senate Minority Leader, John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a funny Republican “meeting of the minds.” These GOP leaders sit around the table to discuss the so-called Republican agenda. Their top priorities were disowning the Obama Stimulus Package (to excuse themselves from any blame about the economy), complaining about the Obama girls’ sleepovers and plotting to get the President impeached after only 3 weeks. Their resounding chant: “Majority here we come!” With the recent negotiations surrounding the stimulus package, it makes you wonder if there is any truth to this skit! Check out the video.




CB Reviews: “Immigrants and Boomers”: An Enlightened View of Immigration & Demographics

immigrants-and-boomers

The current state of America’s priorities and challenges can be summed up by looking at one place: the negotiations surrounding the 2009 Obama Economic Stimulus package. This plan, totaling nearly $790 Billion, aims to help revive the struggling economy, while laying a heavy financial burden on future generations to pay for. Democrats and Republicans battled over which financial expenditures in the areas of education, technology, health care, energy and infrastructure, will likely yield the greatest number of jobs, fix the economy and secure America’s future.

These competing priorities are at the heart of the Dowell Myers’s book, “Immigrants and Boomers: Forging a New Social Contract for the Future of America.” In this treatise, Myers argues that a new intergenerational contract needs to be created between retiring Baby Boomers and newly arrived immigrants to solve our economic and demographic challenges. Myers describes it as a “social contract of intergenerational support,” which is “based in intergenerational transfers of resources through the mediums of taxation and social expenditure.”

Quite simply, Myers proposes a more enlightened view of immigrant arrivals and the challenges that it presents to America. Instead of thinking of immigrants in what he describes as a “Peter Pan” way, whereby they remain stuck in an infancy stage of assimilation, he challenges the voting public to consider a picture of immigrants who have evolved, developed and contribute greatly to society. It is these immigrants (in addition to the native born) that will become the taxpayers of the future who will provide the financial support to the elderly Baby Boomers. In essence, the immigrants of today will pay for the Social Security, pensions and health care of aging Boomers. Subsequently, it is in our shared best interest to invest in education and assist in the integration and assimilation of our foreign born entrants.

(more…)




For Some of Us, The Super Bowl Ads Stole the Show

Even though I’m not a big football fan, the Super Bowl last night was a lot of fun for me. In addition to the suspenseful and action-packed game, I watched all the great and not-so-great advertisements. Even in these tough economic times, there are companies shelling out the $3 million for a 30-second Super Bowl ad slot. (I’m not mad at them. Maybe these companies can teach the others some fiscal lessons?) And the ad themes have changed from luxury and free spending to budget cuts and few perks at the office. Even the car ads have seen a big shift, namely American cars are out (no bailout money spent on ads) and Japanese and German cars are in.

Speaking of German cars, Audi had a great ad “The Chase” using the Back to the Future movie theme. (The A6 is such a gorgeous car!)

And the Doritos “Crystal Ball” ad plays into the hard economic times and the lure of getting free chips! Don’t we all wish we had a crystal ball to predict the future.

And if you missed the Super Bowl ads, you can visit Super Bowl FanHouse, Super-Bowl Ads.com and even TIME magazine’s piece to see the crazy ads that provided just as much entertainment for some of us as the game.

-The Caramel Bella




Layoffs at the Zoos?

elephant1

A layoff for elephants? Yes, an expected effect of the current recession are state budget cuts that reduce crucial funding for exhibits at zoos, aquariums and botanical gardens. In New York alone, their 76 zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums will lose $9.1 million dollars in funding next year.

“We’re faced with this very difficult problem of firing the animals, as it were,” said Steve Sanderson to CNN. Sanderson is the CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which manages the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium.

Taking matters into their own hands, the Bronx Zoo has created a video (www.bronxzoo.com) to alert people to the animal layoffs.

In this case, an animal firing means some species will be shipped off to other zoos. Or if a species dies, it will not be replaced. And the overall amount of zoo exhibits will decrease.

A spokesman for the New York State Budget Office told CNN that cuts are necessary because of the state’s financial situation. New York isn’t the only place where the state’s budget problems are affecting the zoos. Animal exhibits are being streamlined or discontinued in California, Missouri, North Carolina and Maryland.

Although there is an $819 billion economic stimulus package in consideration, funding for zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums are not included. Taxpayer watchdog groups fought to keep funding from being directed at these organizations.

I hear the elephants, giraffes and other animals at the zoo are wondering: where is their economic bailout?




CB’s Daily News Break: No Surprise It’s Barack Obama

And Time magazine’s Man of the Year is…(drum roll, please): President-elect, Barack Obama. As if there was any surprise that Obama would be selected. The general consensus in the media world (bloggers and mainstream) is that his choice is one big DUH.

Time magazine wrote, “Obama overcame a lack of experience, a funny name, two candidates who are political institutions, and the racial divide to become the 44th President of the United States.” America’s next president has dominated the headlines since his nomination for the presidency. It’s only fitting that he would take this coveted award too.

And did you check out Obama’s (dare I say hot) photos from his freshman year at Occidental College included in the Time magazine pictorial? A sneak peek is below but you should see them for yourself.

But what about Time magazine’s runner-ups? Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was on the short list to win Time’s Wo(man) of the Year. No. Really? Well, this soccer mom did take America by storm. Others under consideration included Secretary of State Henry Paulson, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, and creator of the opening ceremonies (The Birds Nest) at the Beijing Olympics, Zhang Yimou.

In other non-Obama related news….The United States’ first-ever complete (80%) face transplant was performed on a woman at The Cleveland Clinic. The woman, who was described as horribly disfigured, now has the face of a donated female cadaver. The patient only retained her own chin, lower lip, forehead and upper eyes. Before the operation, the patient couldn’t smile, taste or smell due to an accident. Since the surgeons also grafted facial nerves and muscles, the woman will be able to smile and perform normal face functions. “Our patient was called names and humiliated,” said Dr. Maria Siemionow, who led that team that performed the 22-hour operation two weeks ago. “You need the face to face the world.”

And on the allegedly corrupt Illinois Governor front. According to an ABC News report Wednesday, Blagojevich is going to break his silence and tell his side of the story in a press conference toward the end of the week. Although arrested over a week ago, Blago hasn’t responded to the charges that he tried to sell President-elect Obama’s former Senate seat. The governor said he couldn’t wait to address the people of Illinois.

And the sad, sad American dollar. The U.S. currency has “declined the most against the euro since the 15-nation currency’s 1999 debut.” And the dollar is at a new 13-year low versus the yen despite an almost zero percent interest rates. Perhaps, the dollar’s value has something to do with America’s increasing budget deficits, which isn’t actually prompting more global investors. Although, the dollar is $1.4437 per euro, the U.S. could be looking at a $1.50 exchange rate for 1 euro or more! Uh-oh, the current economic plans don’t appear to be working. Attention Bernanke: The dollar is sinking.




Why Oh Why NPR? Not “News & Notes”

A fellow blogger over at Culture Kitchen tells it straight about NPR’s recent cuts. Over the past couple of days, it has become known that NPR cut two shows: “Day to Day” and “News & Notes.” According to Culture Kitchen, both of these shows were the network’s effort to reach out to new listeners. “Day to Day” was a midday show that sought younger listeners. And “News & Notes,” hosted by Farai Chideya (a friend), delivered the news commentary for the day from a much-needed African American perspective.

Honestly, I am personally bummed out by the decision. I have friends there who have lost their jobs. And I have fellow aspiring journalist colleagues who had hoped to work there. For some, NPR was the last place of hope for encouraging new and diverse voices, and a strong possibility for a job. I hope this economy improves so that NPR and other media can deliver its promise of representing all of the voices in the American community.

-The Caramel Bella




CB’s Daily News Break: Cars, Cows & Corruption

Automaker Bailout? Although Congressional Democrats and the White House reached an agreement on the $15 billion government bailout for the automakers industry, the bill faces challenges from House Republicans. The GOP has created their own plan that would help the car companies without the American taxpayers financing it. “Republicans will not allow taxpayers to subsidize failure,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, said on Wednesday to the New York Times. Other GOP senators said they would use procedural methods to delay the bailout vote.

Will the bailout = no more Saturns? With the automaker deal pending, Saturn fans are concerned that GM will discontinue their line after the company performs a bailout reorganization. Although General Motors hasn’t officially announced the end of Saturn, GM said it would focus its resources on four core brands — Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC in the plan submitted to Congress. This leaves Saab, Pontiac, Hummer and Saturn hanging on a limb. Saturnfans.com features owners who are speaking out to save their cars. Who knew Saturn had so many loyal fans?

Feeling a little fat during the holiday season? Well, you are not alone. Even the Queen of Daytime Television, Oprah Winfrey, feels like a “fat cow.” Oprah reveals her weight struggles after the scales topped 200 pounds reports CNN. Check out the video.

What does the President-elect say about Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich arrest? According to Barack Obama’s spokesperson, Obama thinks the Governor should resign from office.  “The President-elect agrees with Lt. Governor Quinn and many others that under the current circumstances it is difficult for the Governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois,” spokesman Robert Gibbs said.  Will Blagojevich please step down?




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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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  • 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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