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August 2nd, 2013
thesmithian

…the United States is facing an even more basic question: How should we manage fire, given the fact that, thanks to climate change, the destruction potential for wildfires across the nation has never been greater? In the past decade alone, at least 10 states—from Alaska to Florida—have been hit by the largest or most destructive wildfires in their respective histories. Nationally, the cost of fighting fires has increased from $1.1 billion in 1994 to $2.7 billion in 2011.

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July 15th, 2013
thesmithian

Hispanicity, in the United States, is officially treated as an ethnicity (a culture) rather than a race (a biological category). That is, if you are white, speaking Spanish as your native language makes you a different sort of white than speaking other European tongues. (There are myriad other complications here: What about Afro-Hispanics or Asian Latinos, for instance?) The assumption is that someone in Madrid, Spain, and someone in Lima, Peru, share a common culture because they both speak Spanish. This holds as much weight as claiming that someone in Anchorage, Alaska, and someone in Johannesburg, South Africa, share a common culture through English: maybe, but not necessarily. Spanish is spoken by some half a billion people worldwide, the majority of them living in the Americas, including the United States. It is the native language of 12 percent of Americans and is spoken by 30 percent of the population, including many native English speakers who have learned Spanish in school or through their professions. It is a truism now to say that the Spanish language, just like English, crosses races, nations, class boundaries and more. Why does it continue to have such a social stigma, and why is it taken as the emblem of the threat to English-language dominance of American culture?

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June 16th, 2013
thesmithian
Over the past decade, I have taught only online. Students in my classes are far-flung—two from Alaska this term among the others from the lower 48…I have had students from assorted countries; they bring a diversity, a richness of perspectives to classes that I never experienced previously. I taught [online] in the summer of 2011; we had students in 70 countries. Engagement and interaction came through “meet-ups,” such as the group in Christchurch, New Zealand who met weekly at the McDonalds (free wi-fi, don’t you know) to engage and discuss the future of learning. Brazilians tolerated our English language panel discussions and then met in their Portuguese language wikis. Still others engaged in Google Hangouts. The social constructivist principles of what scholars of education call the “community of inquiry” thrive online through teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence. Those are the very same principles that led to success the liberal arts college experience decades ago.
Professor Ray Schroeder, of the University of Illinois, Springfield
March 29th, 2013
thesmithian
We used to hire 50 to 60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes…
Rep. Don Young, Republican, Alaska
February 9th, 2013
thesmithian

'the bipartisan consensus that supported the Voting Rights Act for nearly fifty years has collapsed…'

…and conservatives are challenging the law as never before. Last November, three days after a presidential election in which voter suppression played a starring role, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a challenge to Section 5 of the VRA, which compels parts or all of sixteen states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to clear election-related changes with the federal government. The case will be heard on February 27. The lawsuit, originating in Shelby County, Alabama, is backed by leading operatives and funders in the conservative movement, along with Republican attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. Shelby County’s brief claims that “Section 5’s federalism cost is too great” and that the statute has “accomplished [its] mission.” The current campaign against the VRA is the result of three key factors: a whiter, more Southern, more conservative GOP that has responded to demographic change by trying to suppress an increasingly diverse electorate; a twenty-five-year effort to gut the VRA by conservative intellectuals, who in recent years have received millions of dollars from top right-wing funders, including Charles Koch; and a reactionary Supreme Court that does not support remedies to racial discrimination.

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September 29th, 2012
thesmithian

The safe (or safeish) G.O.P. states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Together they account for a hundred and ninety-one votes in the electoral college. The safe (or safeish) Democratic states are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—plus the District of Columbia. Together they account for two hundred and one electoral votes.

July 17th, 2012
thesmithian

…nations are staking out territory to scavenge for the world’s remaining energy resources. The Arctic is proving particularly contentious. As climate change melts the ice caps and allows for exploration, the Arctic powers—Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the U.S.—are aggressively laying claim to an area estimated to contain one-fifth of the world’s undiscovered oil and natural gas. Britain and Argentina are quarreling over resources near the Falkland Islands. China and Japan are embroiled in a dispute over natural gas in the East China Sea. Malaysia and Indonesia are squaring off over deposits in the Celebes Sea. And long dormant Alaskan border disputes among the United States, Canada, and Russia are stirring again. With its tales of rising tensions and shrinking resources…It is a sweeping account of the world’s energy dilemma…

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…nations are staking out territory to scavenge for the world’s remaining energy resources. The Arctic is proving particularly contentious. As climate change melts the ice caps and allows for exploration, the Arctic powers—Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and the U.S.—are aggressively laying claim to an area estimated to contain one-fifth of the world’s undiscovered oil and natural gas. Britain and Argentina are quarreling over resources near the Falkland Islands. China and Japan are embroiled in a dispute over natural gas in the East China Sea. Malaysia and Indonesia are squaring off over deposits in the Celebes Sea. And long dormant Alaskan border disputes among the United States, Canada, and Russia are stirring again. With its tales of rising tensions and shrinking resources…It is a sweeping account of the world’s energy dilemma…

more.

January 22nd, 2011
thesmithian
The media obsession with Palin began naturally and innocently enough, when the Alaska governor emerged as an electrifying presence on the Republican presidential ticket more than two years ago. But then something unhealthy happened: Though Palin was no longer a candidate, or even a public official, we in the press discovered that the mere mention of her name could vault our stories onto the most-viewed list. Palin, feeding this co-dependency and indulging the news business’s endless desire for conflict, tweeted provocative nuggets that would help us keep her in the public eye—so much so that this former vice presidential candidate gets far more coverage than the actual vice president…We need help.

Dana Milbank, at The Washington Post

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