Category Archives: Environment

California’s High Speed Rail Fiasco

The question posed by the unfolding California high-speed rail cataclysm is why the reaction to it should be a partisan or ideological issue at all. Are human beings capable of managing bias and learning hard truths from new information, or aren’t they?

High speed rail was promoted in California  as a green and virtuous way to propel commuters  from San Francisco to Los Angeles along at 220 miles an hour, completing the trip in a about  two and a half hours. It was going to involve minimal tax-payer cash,  with  billions arriving from private investors. It would be profitable, not requires state subsidies and be much less expensive than flying. Thus enthused and enlightened,  53.7 percent of approved the plan and a $9.95 billion bond.

It was a scam, a hustle, and a pack of lies.  Virginia Postrel writes at Bloomberg…

“California’s high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it. What combination of sweet-sounding scenarios, streamlined mockups, ever-changing and mind-numbing technical detail, and audacious spin will keep the dream alive?”

Well said. I would add, “And will anyone learn from this fiasco?” Specifically, will anyone learn that ideologically-driven officials will always press policies in defiance of reality, if the public lets them, or more precisely, trusts them.

The Los Angeles Times published a stunning report on how corrupt this enterprise has been from the start. Here’s sample:
Continue reading

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Filed under Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Science & Technology

On Climate Change And The First Amendment, Yale’s Law School Dean Gives Us A Reason To Be Very Afraid

I just wrote in a comment thread,

“The one thing that could change my mind to believe that Trump is less dangerous than Clinton is that the trappings of Trump and his followers reek of stupidity, and the trappings of Hillary and her allies are redolent of totalitarianism.”

The effort by Democrats and anti-gun zealots to deliberately breach the Fifth Amendment to allow “pre-crime” anti-gun laws was one example of the Obama/Clinton/Sanders left’s creeping embrace of totalitarian principles.

Here is another.

Over the weekend, Robert Post, the current dean of Yale Law School where both Bill and Hillary learned to be unethical lawyers, authored a shocking 0p-ed for the Washington Post. In it, he attached his influence and credibility to the idea that the government should use the power of prosecution to intimidate opponents of government policy and widely accepted left-wing agenda items. I have never seen such a disgraceful breach of academic prestige. If I were a Yale grad, I would be heavily involved in calling for Post’s resignation.

Post is supporting the attempts by Democratic, climate change policy-supporting attorneys general to target Exxon-Mobil for fraud because the company opposes certain climate change measures. This comes after eco-facists like Robert Kennedy, Jr. and climate change shills like  Bill Nye (The Self-Promoting Not-Really-The-Expert-He- Pretends -To-Be  Science Guy) have suggested that “climate change deniers” should be jailed. That’s not the theory, though. The theory is that Exxon-Mobil has defrauded investors by misleading them about the results of their own research. Thus the company has been hit by demands for documents by the Massachusetts and New York attorneys general to reveal all of that research.

Exxon-Mobil, as well as others, has condemned this effort as an attempt to chill First Amendment debate. Post, who has allied himself with the censors because climate change is “settled science,”  bolsters the political inquisitioners’ deceit. “It may be that after investigation the attorneys general do not find evidence that Exxon-Mobil has committed fraud. I do not prejudge the question. The investigation is now entering its discovery phase, which means it is gathering evidence to determine whether fraud has actually been committed,” the esteemed dean writes.

Cute. Of course, once the precedent had been established that the government can force someone into expensive legal defense for “the fraud” of disagreeing with the pronounced truths of the State, then dissent and political opinion will be repressed, suppressed, and discouraged. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship, Rights

Gut Check For Obama: The Responsible Thing Is To Pull Out Of The 2016 Olympics

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UPDATE: 6/18/13 Now this.

The responsible thing, in fact, would have been to pull out before now.

The Olympics, which were supposed to represent the ideal of pure, individual amateur (For love, not money) athletic achievement, metastasized into a bloated, hyper-nationalist insult to those ideals long ago. In addition…

…The Olympic organization is corrupt, accepting bribes to determine which nations host the games.

…The competitions are corrupt, with banned performance enhancing substances being used widely and with the assistance and knowledge of participating nations, in some cases. At the end of last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)  issued a report calling for Russia to be banned from international athletics at all levels for flagrant doping violations and a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels” within Russian athletics.

Have the Olympics banned Russia? Of course not.

Meanwhile, an IOC investigation revealed that 23 athletes have tested positive in a massive doping scandal that could ban a total of 31 yet-unnamed athletes “from 12 countries and six sports” from participating in the 2016 Olympics.

…The games now have the shadow of terrorism hanging over them.

…Expenditures by hosting nations always divert resources into inefficient and unnecessary projects, as greater national and social priorities suffer in the pursuit of pride and prestige. Following a pattern that we have seen in other countries, some poor Brazilians  have  lost their homes as part of preparations for the games. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Environment, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Leadership, Sports, U.S. Society

Why Are So Many National Parks Visitors Vandalizing Nature?

bison calf

My initial impression was that this trend is another canary dying in the mine (yes, I know THAT isn’t a canary!), as being and acting stupid and unethical becomes increasingly culturally acceptable. My theory holds that the public sees so many rich, powerful, successful public figures exhibiting these traits, and yearns to adopt their habits and values

The most recent example is the episode represented by the photo above. Well-meaning but ignorant tourists in Yellowstone National Park, where no human is supposed to get within 25 yards of the wildlife, decided to “rescue” a bison calf they found away from its herd, so they stuffed the animal into their car. They drove it to a ranger station, where they were cited for violation of park rules.

In effect, they had killed the calf. When the young bison was returned to the herd, the mother rejected it, and the beast began approaching humans, seeking food and company.

The park had to euthanize it.

Said the park officials in a statement,

“In recent weeks, visitors in the park have been engaging in inappropriate, dangerous and illegal behavior with wildlife. These actions endanger people and have now resulted in the death of a newborn bison calf.”

Morons. The Park Service should release their names, or give some Yellowstone wolves their scent. This is not a new taboo; there is no excuse for any visitor to a National Park to think this is responsible conduct.

Not fatal but equally infuriating is the tale behind this photo: Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Citizenship, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: The University Of Washington Cheerleader Do’s and Don’ts

 

I have to admit that for me, one potential benefit of the viral political correctness malady that makes virtually any communication a potential threat to one’s career, reputation or physical well-being would be the obliteration of the embarrassment known as “cheerleading squads” from athletic events sidelines and the culture forever.

Nevertheless, this episode from earlier this week warrants examination.

The University of Washington cheerleading team posted an infographic on Facebook Monday night, giving out aspiring cheerleader audition tips.  The team said that it created the graphic “in response to a high volume of student questions about cheer and dance team tryouts.” Similar “do’s and don’ts”  had been posted by the squads at Washington State University and Louisiana State University  but this one caused a full social media freakout.

University of Washington cheerleader tryout advert.

“I can’t believe this is real,” exclaimed UW student Jazmine Perez, director of programming for student government. “One of the first things that comes mind is objectification and idealization of Western beauty, which are values I would like to believe the University doesn’t want to perpetuate,” she said. “As a student of color who looks nothing like the student in the poster, this feels very exclusive.” Another UW student complained, “I think it’s really upsetting and kind of disheartening the way it’s basically asking these women who want to try out to perform their femininity — but not too much. Such a message would never go out to men trying out for a sport.”

The graphic was taken down quickly, because university officials deemed that some might find it offensive….a standard that if followed routinely these days would preclude virtually any statement or graphic about anything. I am sure someone is at work on software right now that will devise within seconds a basis for outrage and offense for any form of expression.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz today:

Was this an unethical—as in hurtful, irresponsible, incompetent, insulting or unfair—graphic?

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Environment, Gender and Sex, Quizzes, Race, Social Media, Sports

“His WORDS Are Too Horrible to Bear!” Why Is Rutgers Pampering Student Delusions About Free Speech?

"He DISAGREES WITH ME!! ARRGH!! It's too painful to BEAR!!!"

“He DISAGREES WITH ME!! ARRGH!! It’s too painful to BEAR!!!”

It is unethical to make students or their parents pay obscene amounts of money to be rendered incompetent and dysfunctional for the life challenges that face them. Based on this bizarre incident at Rutgers—tuition about $25,000 per year, per student—that is exactly what that esteemed institution is doing. How many others are doing the same?

Journalist Milo Yiannopoulos—that’s being generous: I’d call him a professional troll, or a white, gay Ann Coulter—kicked off his “Dangerous Faggot” tour at Rutgers. He’s an in-your-face, liberal shibboleth-shattering, intentionally provocative rabble-rouser of the hard right, famously banned by Twitter, which now appears to be sucking up to Social Justice Warriors. Milo, who is one of the ugly, culture-scarring mutants created by the radiation emanating from the hyper-partisan environment encouraged by the Obama Administration,  expounded on  gender wage gap myths, feminism, the “rape culture” and Black Lives Matters in as offensive a manner as he could, and he is talented at being offensive. Some 50 students in the audience who were there to bury Milo, not to praise him,  stood up and smeared fake blood on their faces to signal their opposition. Ten protesters left, forty stayed.

Then they had a collective breakdown, or something. The Daily Targum, Rutgers newspaper, reported that following Yiannopoulos’ appearance, students and faculty gathered in the Paul Robeson Cultural Center to discuss their trauma at his words and the reaction to it from students in the audience. “We are here to show support,” was the mantra repeated by nearly every person in the crowd as they introduced themselves, as if voluntarily listening to a hard-right, politically incorrect conservative provocateur was the equivalent of experiencing sexual assault or the death of a child. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Education, Environment, Rights

Ethics Questions And Answers Regarding The Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

how-lead-gets-injpg-1e9d798a1edee129

First, a background question: What is the Flint water crisis?

Here is what has happened so far:

1. In March of 2013, the Flint City Council voted to leave the Detroit water system and join a new pipeline project that would deliver water to the city from Lake Huron. The state agreed that it was a good idea, since it would save the financially strapped Flint 19 million dollars over 8 years. [ Addendum: The news media and progressive spin is that the cruel state unilaterally imposed this decision on Flint. That’s not true, and don’t trust any source that claims it is. Here’s one such hack, who states “In 2013, the Emergency Manager for Flint, Ed Kurtz, signed the order that Flint would stop relying upon Detroit for water and, instead, switch to a the Karegnondi Water Authority run out of Lake Huron.” The Flint City Council voted 7-1 to take this course prior to the sign-off. It was approved by Kurtz, but this blogger’s statement that the crisis “is a direct result of reckless cost-cutting by the unelected bureaucrat who Governor Snyder appointed to run the city under the state’s controversial “Emergency Financial Manager” law” is deceptive and false.]

2. Detroit retaliated by announcing that it would cut off Flint’s water supply. Since the new pipeline wouldn’t be ready for three years, Flint had to find a temporary supplier of its water needs. It then spent millions upgrading its water processing plant.

3. The months leading up to the Detroit shut-off deadline generated many meetings with the state and regulatory bodies. Mayor Dayne Walling, a Democrat, announced that the temporary supply would come from the Flint River. The plan for the switch was implement by state-appointed emergency manager, Darnell Early. The system went into operation in April of 2014.

4. Immediately, residents started complaining about the water’s taste and appearance. Early (the state) and Mayor Walling (the city) insisted that it was safe to drink. Four months later, there was a fecal content alert, meaning that the water wasn’t being sufficiently purified. In October of 2014, General Motors said that the water seemed to be corrosive, and it would no longer use it in its plant.

5.  In January of 2015, Flint told its residents that the water wasn’t safe because of chemical contamination that could cause serious health problems. Detroit offered to go back to the old arrangement. Flint declined. Erin Brockovich (yes, that Erin Brockovich)  publicly argued that there was a water safety  crisis in Flint. The Mayor asked the state for assistance, and was assured that they were “working on it.”

6.  Activists said that the water was dangerous and the city should go back to its old arrangement with Detroit. The city hired an expert who claimed the water was safe. More work was done to fix the problem, but the City Council voted to re-connect to the Detroit system, and Lake Huron water. However, the vote had to be approved by the State’s emergency manager for the city. He didn’t approve it. The advocates for going back to Detroit water sued in Federal court, and lost.

7.  This mess  dragged into last fall. In September of 2015, researchers from Virginia Tech University reported online that their testing of Flint’s water found it “very corrosive” and that it was “causing lead contamination in homes.”  “On a scientific basis, Flint River water leaches more lead from plumbing than does Detroit water,” the report concluded. “This is creating a public health threat in some Flint homes that have lead pipe or lead solder.” The very same day, Michigan told Flint that the earlier chemical contamination had fallen within acceptable levels due to improved treatment methods, and the water was officially compliant with all standards, and safe.

8. Later that month, however, testing showed frightening levels of lead in the blood of Flint infants and children. A new lead warning was sent to Flint residents.

9. In October, 2015, the County issued a warning that Flint’s water was dangerous, and asked the Governor to declare a State of Emergency. The next day, Governor Rick Snyder announced various measures to address the problem.

10. Again, the city, this time through a special advisory committee, recommended that Flint switch back to the Detroit supply. On October 8, Snyder announced a multi-million dollar plan to reconnect Flint to Detroit’s water.  A week later, the Michigan Legislature and Snyder approved  $9.4 million in aid to Flint, including $6 million to  switch its drinking water back to Detroit.

11. Thanks to the water problem, Walling was defeated in his race to be re-elected as mayor  by Karen Weaver. The switch didn’t stop the lead problem, because the corrosive water had prompted a deterioration in Flint’s lead pipes. It took a the entire holiday period for this to become sufficiently obvious, for some reason, as many residents drank lead-contaminated water they had been told was now safe.

12. Shortly after Christmas, Snyder fired Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and apologized for what was happening in Flint. He declared a state of emergency.

13. On January 13, Governor Snyder activated the Michigan National Guard to  distribute bottled water and filters in Flint, and asked the federal government for assistance.  The same day, Michigan health officials reported an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases during periods over the past two years in Flint and the surrounding county. Snyder requested a major disaster declaration from President Obama, and more federal aid. Obama signed an emergency declaration last week, ordering federal aid for Flint and authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts.

Why doesn’t everybody know about this? Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Environment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, Race, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology