A humbling map of real-time wind patterns in Tornado Alley
“Wind Map” is a stunning interactive datavisualization that presents wind patterns across the continental U.S. in real time. Picture above is what it looked like last night at 10:59 CDT, in the aftermath of yesterday’s devastating Oklahoma tornado.”
Read more here from io9.
Posts tagged usa.
A primer on ocean acidification. What it is. How it works. And its impacts on the ocean. From the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme.
AMAP is one of five Working Groups of the Arctic Council.
The primary function of AMAP is to advise the governments of the eight Arctic countries (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States) on matters relating to threats to the Arctic region from pollution, and associated issues.
I’m so surprised by the depth of research and overall usefulness of the How Stuff Works website. This post on the North Pole covers how to prepare for an Arctic Expedition. It included this nice nugget:
From the 15th through the 20th century, the Doctrine of Discovery was recognized by European and American explorers as the go-to guideline for ownership of territory. The doctrine uses a basic “first-come, first-served” rule — a region belongs to whatever country got there first. Remember how the United States “won” the race to the moon in 1969 by planting a flag on the lunar surface?
Today, the United Nations has taken control of the issue. According to the U.N. Convention on the Laws of the Sea, claims to the North Pole are based on a country’s continental shelf (undersea extensions of land).
In 2007, Russian mini-submarines — on a mission to explore natural gas and oil deposits under the North Pole — planted Russian flags below the Arctic ice. The Canadians were not pleased, mostly because they claim that the North Pole is theirs. So do Denmark (via Greenland), Norway and the United States.
Houses of Worship Seeking FEMA Grants Face Constitutional Barrier.
Hurricane Sandy flooded and battered St. George Malankara Orthodox Church of India in New Dorp, Staten Island, ruining its basement, windows and doors. Yet, when its vicar contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ask for a grant to help with the estimated $150,000 rebuilding cost, he said he got a clear answer: No.
“FEMA said that they considered the church a business, so they offered us a loan,” the Rev. Alex K. Joy said in an interview about a month after the storm. “But we don’t want a loan. We have 400 members, 90 families. In this situation, we need some assistance.”
A broad range of private nonprofit organizations qualify for federal disaster assistance grants, including zoos, museums, performing arts centers and libraries. Houses of worship, however, are not on the list, even though in recent years the federal government has ruled that some religiously affiliated institutions like schools and hospitals can get grants.
An effort is under way to change that, led by several Jewish organizations, including the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the American Jewish Committee. Last month, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, introduced an amendment to the multibillion-dollar Hurricane Sandy recovery appropriations bill that would explicitly place houses of worship on the list of qualified organizations. But because of an unrelated bipartisan deal meant to ease the bill’s passage, that amendment was locked out of consideration.
Mr. Lieberman’s tenure in the Senate ended this week, but Nathan Diament, the executive director of public policy for the Institute for Public Affairs at the Orthodox Union, said he was continuing to work with other lawmakers to add the amendment to the bill before it came again before Congress.
“Houses of worship should not be discriminated against and excluded from getting assistance on the same terms as other eligible nonprofits,” he said.
Mr. Diament has also been meeting with officials from the Homeland Security Department and other federal agencies to see if the change can be made without legislative action. FEMA regulations are silent on the matter of houses of worship, so a bureaucratic decision may be all that is required, he added.
Yet the issue is controversial, because the constitutional separation of church and state generally bans the use of tax money to build religious institutions. Dena Sher, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the organization had “serious concerns” about the effort to change the policy and was monitoring the situation.
“To rebuild houses of worship is a form of compelled support for religion, which is exactly what the First Amendment is designed to protect against,” Ms. Sher said. “We understand and identify with the serious difficulties everyone is facing, but we can’t let this misfortune be used as a premise to erode these bedrock principles.”
I should also note, the very interesting and oft-forgotten Treaty of Tripoli, signed in 1797 between the US and several Muslim countries that had for centuries routinely pirated the Mediterranean. The U.S. ratified the treaty, stating in Article 11:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
A lot has changed since then with respect to the intent of separation of church and state. Several federal laws have been enacted that specifically favor religious institutions over other institutions (see RLUIPA, for one mind-blowing example).
These federal laws are burdensome to local communities, and are actively being litigated. They provide religious organizations wide latitude to build church-related buildings on any plot of land in the U.S. regardless of local law (in sum). It’s much more complicated than this, and not suitable for a tumblr post.
So, while cities and towns regulate their land uses in nearly every respect, religious organizations are ostensibly immune from local regulations, such as zoning and some local environmental regulations.
So the question of federal funds is interesting: Should federal funds be used to bail out religious institutions above other non-profits? Why wouldn’t these organizations look to the free market or local communities they serve? It is very interesting to think that FEMA could be forced to reconcile the intent of the founders and the clear meaning of the Constitution with modern day political whims.
“For the United States, the best is yet to come.” -Barack Obama
(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Very pretty stamp of an American glacier! The “
forever” is crossed out to prevent people printing their own stamps. As usual, think progress reminds us of impending doom.
The Postal Service’s new “FOREVER” stamp is the shrinking Alaskan glacier.
Special weather coverage in the September issue of National Geographic: Extreme Weather.
Rains that are almost biblical, heat waves that don’t end, tornadoes that strike in savage swarms—there’s been a change in the weather lately. What’s going on?
Image: Prairie storm in Montana
Wildfires in Eastern Oregon kill hundreds (perhaps thousands) of cattle, burns hundreds acres of prime land.
Wind is an invisible, ancient source of energy surrounds us—energy that powered the first explorations of the world, and that may be a key to the future.
Chicago: living up to its monicker. —A.P.
Many more of these at The Atlantic
Over 4,000 record temperatures just in 2012. Click through to get the widget from PBS.
The United Nations has a straight talk tumblr. Really appreciate their posts.
The numbers tell the story. Over the last twenty years, it is conservatively estimated that disasters have killed 1.3 million people, affected 4.4 billion and resulted in economic losses of $2 trillion.
These are staggering numbers when you consider what it means in terms of missed opportunities, shattered lives, lost housing, schools and health facilities destroyed, cultural losses and roads washed away.
Infographic from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)