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Eating more insects could help fight world hunger, according to a new UN report.
Wasps, beetles and other insects are currently "underutilised" as food for people and livestock, the report says. Insect farming is "one of the many ways to address food and feed security".
"Insects are everywhere and they reproduce quickly, and they have high growth and feed conversion rates and a low environmental footprint," according to the report.
The authors point out that insects are nutritious, with high protein, fat and mineral content.
They are "particularly important as a food supplement for undernourished children".
Insects are also "extremely efficient" in converting feed into edible meat. Crickets, for example, need 12 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein, according to the report.
Most insects are are likely to produce fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gases than other livestock.
The ammonia emissions associated with insect-rearing are far lower than those linked to conventional livestock such as pigs, says the report.
Insects are regularly eaten by many of the world's population, but the thought may seem shocking to many Westerners.
The report suggests that the food industry could help in "raising the status of insects" by including them in new recipes and adding them to restaurant menus.
It goes on to note that in some places, certain insects are considered delicacies.
For example some caterpillars in southern Africa are seen as luxuries and command high prices.
Most edible insects are gathered in forests and serve niche markets, the report states.
It calls for improved regulation and production for using insects as feed.
"The use of insects on a large scale as a feed ingredient is technically feasible, and established companies in various parts of the world are already leading the way," it adds.
En 1977, un grupo de operadores de Los Ãngeles encabezado por Michael Milken ayudÃ³ a la petrolera Texas International a emitir el primer bono “basura”. La colocaciÃ³n de apenas US$30 millones abriÃ³ un capÃtulo en la historia de las finanzas. Desde entonces, las empresas cuyas finanzas no son estelares han podido acudir a los mercados de capital, mientras que los inversionistas han tenido la opciÃ³n de apostar a instrumentos que ofrecen mayor riesgo y mayores retornos.
Uno de esos corredores, Leon Black, volviÃ³ a Los Ãngeles la semana pasada y analizÃ³ el panorama despuÃ©s de 36 aÃ±os. “El mercado de financiamiento estÃ¡ mejor que nunca”, dijo Black, que ahora dirige la firma de private equity Apollo Global Management LLC,
en una conferencia organizada por Milken, su ex jefe en Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. Para Wall Street, el comentario de Black es tanto la constataciÃ³n de una realidad como una seÃ±al pesimista.
Las declaraciones de Black tienen sentido. En momentos en que los bancos centrales de las economÃas desarrolladas mantienen las tasas de interÃ©s bajas alrededor del mundo, los inversionistas buscan los retornos de los activos mÃ¡s riesgosos como los bonos “basura” y las acciones.
La emisiÃ³n de bonos de alto rendimiento, el nombre mÃ¡s sofisticado de la deuda basura, batiÃ³ marcas en 2012 tanto en Estados Unidos como en Europa, segÃºn la proveedora de datos Dealogic. Este aÃ±o ha empezado de la misma manera, con el ritmo de crecimiento mÃ¡s rÃ¡pido de la historia. Es una buena noticia para empresas como el operador de televisiÃ³n por cable Charter Communications Inc.,
que acaba de ahorrar una suma importante al vender US$1.000 millones en bonos para sustituir deuda mÃ¡s costosa.
Para los inversionistas, sin embargo, el exceso de demanda estÃ¡ reduciendo los retornos. Los rendimientos de los bonos basura, que se mueven en direcciÃ³n opuesta a los precios, cayeron a cerca de 5,2% la semana pasada, un nuevo mÃnimo. De seguir asÃ, habrÃa que cambiar el nombre de esta clase de activos a bonos “de rendimiento no tan alto”.
A los gestores de fondos no les importa. Lo que les interesa es el diferencial, o spread, entre los retornos de los bonos basura y los de la deuda del Tesoro de EE.UU. En ese frente, los bonos basura se ubican alrededor de 4,5 puntos porcentuales por encima de los bonos estadounidenses, lo que representa una buena prima.
La euforia ha llegado a tal extremo que Jeff Cohen, codirector de mercados de capitales de crÃ©ditos sindicados de Credit Suisse AG, le dijo hace poco a The Wall Street Journal que “basura es simplemente un nombre inapropiado”.
No me apresurarÃa a cambiarlo. DetrÃ¡s del revuelo y el comprensible deseo de los inversionistas de ganar dinero, los malos hÃ¡bitos estÃ¡n volviendo a aparecer. Como veterano de la crisis de 2007-2008, hay algo que me llama la atenciÃ³n: los prÃ©stamos con pocas restricciones en cuanto a garantÃas y condiciones de pago conocidos en inglÃ©s como “covenant-lite”. Estos crÃ©ditos proporcionan a los deudores âgeneralmente firmas de private equity o empresas con una calificaciÃ³n de deuda inferior a la de grado de inversiÃ³nâ numerosas oportunidades para demorarse en saldar la totalidad de la deuda.
La emisiÃ³n de estos prÃ©stamos se disparÃ³ justo antes de la crisis financiera, conforme las compaÃ±Ãas realizaban adquisiciones cada vez mÃ¡s grandes y los bancos participaban en una carrera destructiva, al ceder un enorme poder a los deudores y terminar con grandes pÃ©rdidas. Ahora, estÃ¡n de regreso. El aÃ±o pasado se registrÃ³ la mayor cantidad de emisiones de estos prÃ©stamos desde 2007 y este aÃ±o va camino de superar el total de 2012.
Es una seÃ±al preocupante, incluso para algunos aficionados a la deuda de mayor riesgo. IrÃ³nicamente para un evento que lleva el nombre del padre del mercado de bonos basura, la conferencia organizada por Milken estuvo llena de inversionistas que expresaron preocupaciÃ³n por la deuda barata. En un panel, escuchÃ© a dos grandes promotores inmobiliarios â Barry Sternlicht, de Starwood Capital Group, y Sam Zell, de Equity Internationalâ casi pidiendo disculpas por lo fÃ¡cil que es levantar capital en la actualidad.
El propio Black adoptÃ³ un tono pesimista. Ante la pregunta de si Apollo aprovecharÃa la actual ola de capital barato para ir de compras, respondiÃ³ que debido al alza de las bolsas este era un gran momento para vender o sacar empresas a bolsa.
“Es casi bÃblico: hay un momento para cosechar y un momento para sembrar. Ahora estamos cosechando”, aseverÃ³ Black. Para el bien de los inversionistas, esperemos que el vÃnculo con el Antiguo Testamento termine allÃ. Unos versÃculos mÃ¡s adelante, la Biblia dice: “Todos van a un mismo lugar. Todos han salido del polvo y todos vuelven al polvo”.
KABULâAn Afghan parliamentary session meant to oust the finance minister turned into a fiery exchange, broadcast live on television, that ended with the minister turning the tables on his critics, surviving the vote, and burnishing his credentials as a possible presidential candidate.
Accused by lawmakers of graft and nepotism, Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal delivered a passionate defense on the parliament floor on Mondayâand then fired back at his critics, one after another, by airing the details of their own alleged misdeeds.
His speech, which had many Afghan TV viewers gasping, caused a furor on the floor, with some lawmakers rushing toward the minister. He eventually won the confidence vote by a wide margin.
“There was no other way than to hold the bulls by their horns and today I did. It was a high-risk move, but it paid off,” Mr. Zakhilwal told The Wall Street Journal after the vote. “My hope is that this will create an anticorruption movement.”
Outside parliament, Mr. Zakhilwal’s public naming and shaming of lawmakers sparked shock and admiration. “Nobody thought he would make such allegations in parliament, in front of the parliamentarians, himself,” said Israr Ahmad Khan, leader of a youth party, who praised the minister for taking a public stand against graft.
This sentiment was echoed among many users of social media in Afghanistan. Images of Mr. Zakhilwal flooded Facebook,
as did messages in his support.
President Hamid Karzai is due to leave office next year, with elections scheduled for April. Mr. Zakhilwal in recent months has been mentioned by Afghan officials as a potential candidate who could be backed by Mr. Karzai next year, alongside the president’s brother Qayum Karzai, his former chief of staff Omar Daudzai, transition adviser Ashraf Ghani, Education Minister Farooq Wardak and others.
Formerly an economics professor in Canada, Mr. Zakhilwal “is a technocrat more than a real politician,” said Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a youth activist and political analyst. Monday’s speech, he added, “was a good chance for him to build his image for his future in politics.”
- Holds economics Ph.D. from Carleton University, Ottawa
2005-09 Head of Afghan Investment Support Agency
Since 2008 President Karzai’s chief economic adviser
March 2009 Becomes Karzai’s minister of finance
May 13, 2013 After going on offensive, survives parliament vote on his impeachment
Mr. Zakhilwal’s words tapped a common grievance over government corruption. “If you want to have an effective government and defeat the Taliban in people’s hearts and minds, you need to start by addressing corruption,” said Zekria Barakzai, a senior officer at a government-run anticorruption agency.
Mr. Zakhilwal, like many Afghan officials, is himself no stranger to allegations of corruption. He has repeatedly denied allegations of graft and was cleared by the Afghan attorney general’s office of allegations of illicit cash transfers to overseas bank accounts belonging to him and his relatives.
In Monday’s parliament speech, Mr. Zakhilwal dismissed the allegations in the impeachment, in which he was accused of giving ministry jobs to relatives and people from his home region and allowing corruption in customs offices.
He then pointed fingers at five powerful lawmakers, accusing them variously of smuggling, bribery and attempted extortion.
“The whole world knows about your dirty things,” he told one of them, Lalai Hamidzai, an influential member of parliament from the southern province of Kandahar, whom he accused of trying to illegally import cars, of carrying alcohol into the country and of threatening customs officials with death.
This angered Mr. Hamidzai, who shouted at Mr. Zakhilwal from across the parliament floor.
In an interview later on Monday, Mr. Hamidzai denied Mr. Zakhilwal’s allegation that he owned roughly 1,700 vehicles. The cars don’t belong to him, and he was pressing for their release from custom officials on behalf of their owners, the lawmaker said. “All other allegations are baseless,” said Mr. Hamidzai, who said he has started legal proceedings against Mr. Zakhilwal for defamation.
—Habib Khan Totakhil and Charles Levinson contributed to this article.
Write to Margherita Stancati at firstname.lastname@example.org
A version of this article appeared May 14, 2013, on page A10 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Political Battle Lights Up Afghan TV.
Editor’s note: Ilyse Hogue is president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
As a nation, we can’t afford to miss the critically important lessons of this case. And when I saw the anti-abortion movement twisting those lessons for their own political agenda, angling for policies that would put even more women in danger, I had to speak up.
Gosnell will be sentenced for the murder of three infants and homicide of a patient through lethal doses of painkillers. Let’s be clear: Murder is illegal in all 50 states, and his sentencing should reflect the gravity of these crimes.
Gosnell also ignored the standards of care and safety recognized as best practices by medical professionals who provide abortion care. That he was allowed to operate for so long — despite multiple complaints — was a failure of the authorities to enforce the laws on the books.
His willful neglect of the law and of the women who went to him for help is egregious and is exactly the kind of crime that the pro-choice movement has sought to end by bringing abortion care above ground since Roe v. Wade was adjudicated in 1973.
Why is this so important? Because anti-abortion activists would have the public believe the exact opposite.
They are exploiting the Gosnell case to boost their 40-year-old agenda to ban abortion altogether. These opportunists are shamelessly using the case of these victimized women to take even more control away from our ability to make private decisions about how, when, and with whom we have families.
In NARAL Pro-Choice America’s annual evaluation of reproductive rights in the 50 states, Pennsylvania received an “F” because of the obstacles and roadblocks politicians have put in front of women seeking safe and legal abortion care. Pennsylvania, along with 32 other states and the District of Columbia, blocks abortion care for low-income women who receive their care from the state’s Medicaid program.
Denying women this care until they can raise the money to pay out of pocket can force them to seek abortion later in their pregnancies and drive them into the clutches of back-alley providers such as Gosnell, who offer them substandard care.
More tellingly, Pennsylvania has also pushed Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws, which are on the front lines of efforts to end abortion care once and for all.
These TRAP laws, always proposed by anti-choice extremists, zero in on clinics that provide abortion and hit them with a series of expensive, medically unnecessary and nit-picking rules designed to push them out of business, while ignoring clinics that provide other medical services with much higher risks of complication. TRAP laws often come with ridiculous rules for such things as the height of the grass, the number of parking spaces and awning widths at abortion clinics.
NARAL Pro-Choice America members, along with most Americans, support the fair implementation of regulations among all medical providers that are carefully designed to keep patients safe. However, the motivation behind TRAP laws is clear: to shut down abortion clinics. And what’s disturbing is, they’re working.
Over the years, there has been a significant decline in the number of abortion providers in Pennsylvania and across this country.
In Mississippi, Alabama and South Dakota, runaway restrictions have driven out all but one provider in each state. When these clinics are driven out of business, it is the most economically vulnerable women who pay the price. These women are the ones who lose access to critical medical services such as cancer-screening, check-ups and even prenatal care also provided at these clinics. Let’s remember Gosnell is also a symptom of how hard it is for low-income women to get quality health care, period.
TRAP laws are just the beginning for anti-choice extremists, who have made no secret that they will stop at nothing to ban abortion completely. Earlier this year, Arkansas became the first state to ban the procedure at 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Not to be outdone, North Dakota enacted a six-week ban on abortion — that’s before most women even know they are pregnant. If TRAP laws are a back-door ban to abortion, these near-total bans are your anti-choice neighbors barging uninvited through your front door.
None of these efforts — TRAP laws or outright bans — will reduce the number of abortion procedures.
A Guttmacher Institute study found similar abortion rates in countries where abortion is illegal and where it is legal. But the study showed that when countries limit legal access, more women die.
That brings us back to Gosnell. His clinic operated in violation of basic health and safety standards; his practices were abhorrent. If we allow political extremists to exploit this case to impose more TRAP laws and abortion bans, the remaining safe and legal abortion providers could be forced to shut their doors.
No one cares more about the safety of women more than the members of the pro-choice movement. In fact, it was the stories — daily stories — of horrors women faced from unregulated, unsafe, unsanitary procedures that shocked a nation into action back in the days when abortion was illegal.
Women, regardless of their background, deserve access to high-quality health care. Women deserve the opportunity to determine if and when they want to have families. Women deserve the dignity of controlling their own lives and, without a doubt, women deserve a lot better than the likes of Kermit Gosnell.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ilyse Hogue.
The landlocked West African country of Mali – one of the poorest in the world – experienced rapid economic growth after the 1990s, coupled with a flourishing democracy and relative social stability.
The core of ancient empires going back to the fourth century, Mali was conquered by the French in the middle of the 19th century.
After a brief experiment in federation with Senegal, Mali became independent in 1960.
Although swathes of Mali are barren, the country is self-sufficient in food thanks to the fertile Niger river basin in the south and east.
It is one of Africa's major cotton producers, and has lobbied against subsidies to cotton farmers in richer countries, particularly the US.
A chronic foreign trade deficit makes it nonetheless heavily dependent on foreign aid and remittances from Malians working abroad.
In the early 1990s the nomadic Tuareg of the north began an insurgency over land and cultural rights that persists to this day, despite central government attempts at military and negotiated solutions.
The insurgency gathered pace in 2007, and was exacerbated by an influx of arms from the 2011 Libyan civil war.
The Saharan branch of al-Qaeda was quick to move into this increasingly lawless area, and seized control of the Tuareg north after the March 2012 military coup, effectively seceding from the rest of Mali and establishing a harsh form of Islamic law.
The West African regional grouping Ecowas agreed to launch a coordinated military expedition to recapture the north at a meeting in Nigeria in November, with UN backing.
But with preparations expected to take several months, the Islamists took the initiative and began to advance towards the government heartland in the south-west.
Alarmed at the captured of the town of Konna, the government in Bamako asked France to intervene militarily. French troops rapidly overran Islamist strongholds in the north.
Despite its political travails, Mali is renowned worldwide for having produced some of the stars of African music, most notably Salif Keita. The annual Festival in the Desert has traditionally celebrated this talent.
Bahrain technology companies’ society – BTECH called for vast participation in the Innovation in Technology Conference, which is going to be held for the first time in the kingdom of Bahrain as a gathering for innovators, and ICT experts next July.
President of BTECH Mr. Ubaydli Ubaydli identified innovation as the key-pass for success, especially for the projects related to information and communication technology.
“In the time of easy knowledge, amateurs can develop technological solutions; developing is not anymore a victory, but coming up with an innovative idea, or developing an excitant idea with an innovative way is a victory,” he said, pointing on the role of innovation.
Providing an example with Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, who worth today $13.3bn because of an idea, he mentioned, “Largest ICT companies are competing to hire innovators and buy their projects with high prices.”
The conference will put innovation in the ICT prospective, it will focus on innovation styles and strategies, and the speakers will introduce pioneer innovative examples in the region.
“The conference is a golden opportunity to link innovators and decision makers,” said Mr. Ubaydli inviting ICT students, professionals and decision makers to join the conference.
“I invite any individual related to innovation, or wants to know about innovation to take this chance and try to get a tunable result from this gathering,” he added.
He also invited all ICT firms to work together toward making Bahrain a regional center for innovation. Developing the products and services of local technology companies is one of the main BTECH goals, and therefore they are participating as a strategic partner in organizing the event.
It is worth to note that innovation in technology conference is going to be held alongside with the Innovation in technology competition ‘eShabab 2013′.
WorkSmart for events management has organized the nationwide event in 2009 and 2010. The third edition is proceeding this year with the conference and full day workshops.
By JEFF BENNETT
(See Corrections and Amplifications item below.)
More than a year ago, Kaiser Aluminum Corp.
was looking for a spot to build an $80 million office-and-research center that would employ 150 workers.
After considering cities in three different states, the maker of aluminum products settled on Kalamazoo, Mich., a once-prosperous manufacturing city that had lost thousands of jobs in the last decade or so.
A Free Education
PODCAST: Jim Fouse, administrator for the El Dorado Arkansas Promise, discusses how his organization gives high-school students the chance to attend college for free.
Which states have the best — and worst — business climates? Development Counsellors International asked corporate executives to rank the 50 states. Plus, see a map of Omaha, Neb., with details on businesses and arts sites.
QUIZ: Do you know how well cities, states and countries are doing when it comes to economics and business? Take our quiz. Plus, see how U.S. metro areas and states compare on various measures of development (.pdf)
One of the draws: The Kalamazoo Promise, a program that provides at least partial college tuition to all graduating seniors who spent their high-school years in the city’s public schools.
Just as Kaiser was gearing up its search, a group of wealthy philanthropists who have remained anonymous unveiled the Promise as a gift to the city. The lure of the program as a benefit for Kaiser employees, and its potential to produce a highly educated work force, proved a big attraction, says Martin Carter, vice president and general manager of common alloy products at Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based Kaiser.
“We are building a sophisticated facility with new technology, and we want well-educated people who will work with us and want to live in Kalamazoo,” Mr. Carter says. “Some of the other sites gave a lot of talk about future education plans, but in the case of Kalamazoo, they already had a commitment to developing a well-educated community.” Kaiser says its Kalamazoo center will be fully operational in the first quarter of 2009.
Introduced in November 2005, the Promise was designed to stimulate Kalamazoo’s economy and lure both business and people back to the city. It covers 65% of tuition costs at public colleges and universities in Michigan for students who spend at least their high school years in the Kalamazoo Public School district. Students who go all the way from kindergarten through 12th grade get a free ride. Bills are paid by the program directly to the college. Roughly 1,200 students have taken advantage of the program so far.
- The Problem: Businesses and people were leaving Kalamazoo, a city in western Michigan hard-hit by job cuts.
- The Economic Game Plan: A group of philanthropists promised at least partial college tuition to graduating seniors who spent their high-school years in the city’s public school system.
- The Results So Far: Job growth, home building and a rise in school enrollment point to a rebirth in Kalamazoo.
The Journal Report
- See the complete Economic Development report.
Signs of Rebirth
“What we had here was a traditional inner city that was dying,” says Ron Kitchens, chief executive of Southwest Michigan First, a regional economic-development organization. “We had the traditional institutions like hospitals, schools and museums, but the population was leaving and those that remained were paying more taxes.”
Kalamazoo sits in western Michigan, a state that led the nation last year in unemployment as auto companies cut jobs amid slumping sales. Michigan’s unemployment rate was 7.2%, compared with the national average of 4.6%. The Kalamazoo area has been hard hit by job cuts at one of its largest employers, drug maker Pfizer Inc.
Since July 2005, the company has eliminated 2,000 high-paying research jobs, reducing its staff in the area to less than 3,000.
Over the past 18 months, however, Kalamazoo has shown some signs of a rebirth. Four-hundred families from 88 Michigan communities, 32 states and nine foreign countries have moved into the Kalamazoo school district, boosting school enrollment 12% to 11,530 this year from 10,337 in 2005. Graduation rates have risen, too, jumping 21% to 567 students in 2007 from 467 students in 2005. (The district reports 485 graduates so far for 2008, but the finally tally won’t be known until summer school is over.)
Other companies besides Kaiser have unveiled plans to create jobs in Kalamazoo, with some saying the Promise played a role in their decision. Among them is MPI Research, a privately held preclinical drug-testing company in Mattawan, Mich., which in April announced plans to create 3,300 jobs in southwestern Michigan — including 400 in downtown Kalamazoo — over the next five years as it moves into laboratory and office space once housing Pfizer.
Fabri-Kal Corp., a Kalamazoo producer of custom and food-service plastic products, is expected to create 160 jobs by expanding and relocating its current manufacturing operations to a vacant Mead Paper facility located southeast of downtown Kalamazoo. Other expansions or new business openings include W. Soule & Co., a stainless-steel fabrication business employing 25 people; Tourney Consulting Group, a concrete testing lab employing 12 people; and Polymer Solutions Inc., a plastics recycling company with 50 workers.
“We are experiencing job growth and families are moving back and stabilizing the area,” Mr. Kitchens says.
The Promise also has turned the Kalamazoo School District into a hot spot for real estate.
Home builder Greg DeHaan, co-owner of Allen Edwin Homes, hadn’t built a home in the Kalamazoo School District in the 12 years before the Promise was announced. Now, home sales in the district account for 20% of Allen Edwin’s overall business, with the company building and selling 87 homes last year, compared with 47 the year before. The average home price is $130,000 to $140,000.
“The Promise has just given us this renewed sense of optimism,” says Mr. DeHaan, who grew up in Kalamazoo.
It also has brought educated people into Kalamazoo, sometimes from across the country.
Efeosa Idemudia was working as a personal banker at a J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. bank branch in New York and was preparing to buy an $800,000 home in Brooklyn when he saw an evening newscast about the Promise.
Not sure he could believe the report, he used his TiVo digital video recorder to review the broadcast, spotted a telephone number on a real-estate sign and was out looking for homes in Kalamazoo a few weeks later. “I told my wife we are out of here,” Mr. Idemudia says.
He now lives in the Kalamazoo School District, which means the college tuition for his 7-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son will be covered when they graduate from high school.
“When I went to college I had to work a full-time job and go to school,” says Mr. Idemudia, who is now a Kalamazoo-based consultant with Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc., a network of independent law firms providing services at low costs. “I want my kids to focus on their education so they can do a whole lot better than I did.”
Copying the Formula
While the developments bode well for Kalamazoo, it is too early to tell if the Promise will have a major, long-term impact on the area’s economy, says Michelle Miller-Adams, a Grand Valley State University assistant professor and visiting scholar at the not-for-profit W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo.
For that to happen, other big companies with high-paying jobs will have to follow Kaiser’s path, says Ms. Miller-Adams, who is writing a book about the Promise.
“I wish I could say the economy is turned around but I can’t say that yet,” she says. “Economic changes take the longest to materialize.”
Still, a growing number of groups throughout the country are betting Kalamazoo has the right formula. Inspired by Kalamazoo, Murphy Oil Corp.
announced in January 2007 that it would put up $5 million a year for the next 10 years to provide college scholarships to public high-school graduates in El Dorado, Ark., where the company is based.
Students who participate in the “El Dorado Promise” can use the scholarship at any Arkansas or out-of-state college. Scholarships are capped at $6,010 and funds are paid directly to the institutions. After a 20-year decline, enrollment rose 3% in the El Dorado school district for the 2007-2008 year.
Groups in Peoria, Ill., Denver, and Pittsburgh are trying to craft similar programs. Last month, the Upjohn Institute sponsored a meeting in Kalamazoo that brought together 200 people representing 75 communities that have established or are interested in establishing programs similar to the Promise.
“I get about 40 to 50 calls a month asking about the Promise,” Mr. Kitchens says. “Right now there are about 24 different communities that have similar programs.”
The increased focus on education also has spilled over into surrounding communities such as Portage, which passed a $119 million bond last year, its largest ever, to build and remodel schools. Portage, which has about 9,000 students in its school district, is located about 10 miles south of Kalamazoo.
The money will be used to build two new elementary schools, one high school and remodel a second high school. In the early 1990s, the district tried to pass a $50 million bond, which at that time was the largest ever to be proposed. It failed.
“We may have not talked about the Promise to get the bond passed, but it was the elephant in the room,” says Tom Vance, community-relations manager for the Portage Public School District.
Growing pains have accompanied the influx of people into Kalamazoo, forcing organizations and volunteers to stretch their already limited resources and time, Ms. Miller-Adams says.
“The Promise is generous in that it pays for tuition, but some families need help to buy college materials such as textbooks,” she says. “There is also no new money to deal with the increase in [school] enrollment, and volunteers also have been needed to run meetings that teach students how to prepare for college.”
As the community grapples with these issues and the initial wave of enthusiasm subsides, Mr. Kitchens says community leaders have a new goal — keeping the educated in Kalamazoo. Among other things, Southwest Michigan First started a program offering internships at local companies.
“We have 40,000 college students right now. If we can keep them here, companies and entrepreneurs will build around them, and then we can become a community of promise,” Mr. Kitchens says.
—Mr. Bennett is a staff reporter for Dow Jones Newswires in Chicago.
Write to Jeff Bennett at email@example.com
Corrections and Amplifications:
Portage, Mich., shares a border with Kalamazoo. This article incorrectly said the two cities are 10 miles apart.
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page R1
Editor’s note: Michael Macleod-Ball is chief of staff at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. Gabe Rottman is a legislative counsel/policy adviser in the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office.
It also shows how all Americans, from the most liberal to the most conservative, should closely guard their First Amendment rights, and why giving the government too much power to limit political speech will inevitably result in selective enforcement against unpopular groups.
To the agency’s credit, Lois Lerner, a senior official at the IRS, apologized on Friday for these unconstitutional practices, which are as unseemly as the Bush administration’s targeting of the NAACP and the House of Representatives’ defunding of Planned Parenthood on purely political grounds.
Lerner said that career IRS staff who were reviewing applicants for tax-exempt status took a harder look at applications with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names. She stressed that the added scrutiny was done as a “shortcut,” not out of “political bias.” But her admission calls into question earlier claims by the agency that IRS scrutiny wasn’t politically motivated, and it comes in the face of repeated complaints by right-wing groups that they have been treated unfairly.
Before addressing the obvious constitutional concerns with the selective use of the tax code against political opponents, here’s some background.
Certain public interest groups, like charities and nonprofit athletic organizations, do not have to pay federal income tax on their donations or dues. These tax-exempt groups include 501(c)(4) organizations (named for the relevant section of the code). To qualify, a group must be “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.” The definition of “social welfare” is broad, and applies to all points of view. The ACLU’s lobbying arm, for which we work, is a 501(c)(4). So is the National Right to Life Committee.
These social welfare groups are forbidden from engaging in too much partisan political activity. How much is too much, however, is controversial and remains uncertain. An organization that crosses over the fuzzy line will be denied tax-exempt status.
Crucially, 501(c)(4) organizations, in most cases, need not publicly disclose their donors. That policy is driven by the same concerns that prompted the Supreme Court in a civil rights-era case, NAACP v. Alabama, to prohibit that state from forcing the NAACP to out its members as a condition of operating. The court reasoned, rightly, that such disclosure could lead to violence against existing members and would dissuade potential members from joining at all.
Now, during the past couple of elections there has been a surge in applications for 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status. Some argue that these new groups are being created specifically to help elect or defeat candidates, which would otherwise prompt full donor disclosure to the Federal Election Commission.
Opponents claim these groups are abusively claiming tax-exempt status to keep their donor lists secret. Some further claim that these groups then allow wealthy individuals, corporations, and unions to anonymously funnel large amounts of money into ads supporting or attacking political candidates.
As a consequence, the IRS has been under enormous pressure to speed up and aggressively investigate applications for tax-exempt status — both reasonable demands, if carried out impartially. But much of this outside pressure has come from the left and has been directed at conservative groups, who have an advantage in this “dark” political money.
It sounds as though the events surrounding the IRS announcement can be partly attributed to this growth in applications and the pressure to uncover “sham” 501(c)(4) groups.
Although the IRS claims this was an honest mistake, these revelations are troubling on many levels. For instance, there are several proposals circulating in Washington right now that would make it much easier for the IRS and other regulators to force political groups to disclose their donors. These disclosure requirements would apply even when the group is advocating purely on an issue of public interest, from clean air to abortion, and would apply to groups of all political persuasions and not just to groups supporting or opposing candidates for office.
The ACLU has expressed concern with these disclosure requirements precisely because they open the door to selective enforcement. Such concerns are often dismissed as speculative and overly pessimistic, but the IRS apology shows that concerns over selective enforcement are prescient. Those in power will always be tempted to use political speech restrictions against opposing candidates or causes.
The IRS announcement demonstrates that we should carefully consider any new policy that allows the government to restrict or chill political speech, including broader donor disclosure requirements. Congress and the administration should also act immediately to create ironclad checks on the IRS to prevent this from ever happening again.
It shouldn’t need to be said: Even the tea party deserves First Amendment protection.
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For the first time, scientists measured an average concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide of 400 parts per million in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration observatory is located, on Thursday.
“Most experts that really study CO2 amounts estimate that we haven’t seen that amount of CO2 in our atmosphere in about 3 million years,” said J. Marshall Shepherd, climate change expert and professor at the University of Georgia. In other words, modern humans have never seen carbon dioxide in these proportions before.
Scientists say it’s apparent that human activity — namely burning coal, oil and natural gas — has been driving a rapid rise of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide changes climate and drives acidification of the ocean.
“Once emitted, it remains for the ocean atmosphere system for thousands of years, warming the planet. It changes climate and is driving ocean acidification all that time,” said Jim Butler, a senior scientist at NOAA.
Among the many risks of rising temperatures, agriculture, forestry, ecosystems and human health are all expected to suffer as a result of trends in climate change.
The amount of carbon dioxide varies daily somewhat and has cycled historically in accordance with changes in the Earth’s orbit, a phenomenon known as Milankovitch cycles. But the exponential rise in carbon dioxide levels since the Industrial Revolution is far out of the ordinary, experts say.
The number 400 parts per million is symbolic of what many scientists believe to be the inevitable growth of this gas in our atmosphere, Shepherd said. Getting to this number was to be expected.
“It also is kind of a warning sign or red flag that hey, we really need to tackle this problem,” he said. “It’s happening right before our eyes.”
In about eight to 10 years, levels will not go under 400 parts per million, Butler said. And in terms of reaching new carbon dioxide highs, 450 will come even faster than than the change from 350 to 400, given observed trends, Shepherd said. For comparison, the last time annual CO2 was 350 parts per million was in the 1980s.
Butler likens the phenomenon to an electric blanket. When you turn the dial, it takes a little while to warm up. It’s as if humans have turned the dial on Earth’s blanket, and we’ll feel the heat only in a matter of time.
“Even if we stopped emitting CO2, temperatures would still rise for at least a decade or two because the system has to catch up with it,” Butler said.
Most carbon dioxide is in the Northern Hemisphere, because most people on the planet live in these parts, Butler said.
In 2012, monitoring stations in the Arctic measured 400 parts per million, but this is a new high at Mauna Loa. The global average will catch up in a year or two, he said.
Since scientists began measuring at Mauna Loa in 1958, the concentration of carbon dioxide has been increasing every year, NOAA said. The rate of this rise has been accelerating, from 0.7 ppm per year in the late 1950s to 2.1 ppm per year over the last decade.
Before the 19th-century Industrial Revolution, the average carbon dioxide concentration worldwide was about 280 parts per million. Over the course of the past 800,000 years, says NOAA, these levels bounced between 180 and 280 parts per million.
You might be wondering how the planet could be warming if this past winter has been relatively cool.
Shepherd explains that weather is akin to mood, but climate is analogous to personality. Weather changes a lot, but climate is something more fundamental, causing overall patterns.
It may appear that, in the grand scheme of things, there’s not a lot of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere to begin with. The most abundant gas is nitrogen, at 78%, followed by oxygen at 21%. Having a tiny amount of carbon dioxide is essential for our survival; without it, the planet would be too cold.
But too much carbon dioxide, which leads to too much overall warming, is bad.
While it’s impossible to say that any particular event was “caused by global warming,” says Shepherd, climate change loads the deck, making extreme events such as last year’s Superstorm Sandy more likely.
These storms also become more disastrous with rising sea levels. The sea level near New York City was about 10 inches higher in 2012 than in 1900, Shepherd said.
The Mauna Loa station is the oldest in the world to measure carbon dioxide.
“It’s an alarming marker that we’ve passed,” Butler said. “Mauna Loa, the iconic site for CO2, has reached 400 for the first time over a day. That’s big.”
Editor’s note: Margaret Hoover is the author of “American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party.”
Ever the centrist, my beloved husband John questions whether the hearings are an earnest search for the truth or a hyperpartisan GOP political witch hunt aimed at embarrassing the Obama administration while derailing Hillary Clinton’s potential 2016 presidential bid. Dean and I duke it out from opposite perspectives, and we all agree on a surprising point at the end.
Then, on to a discussion of the dramatic fractures within the GOP on immigration reform — a split between former Sen. Jim DeMint’s Heritage Foundation and his protÃ©gÃ© Sen. Marco Rubio — which give Dean cause for celebration. But I’m not sure he will ultimately like the outcome of these GOP growing pains, which I suspect reveal a realignment of Republican reformers from old guard thinking.
Cracks in what had been GOP monolithic thinking on issues ranging from immigration to gun control to gay rights — in a week where Delaware became the 11th state to pass marriage equality with a genuine bipartisan majority — could reinvigorate the GOP brand and lead to a more competitive party nationally.
John thinks renewal and competition in any party orthodoxy is healthy for America, but Dean is clearly rooting for DeMint’s success, even if it means the end of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. To be fair, Dean’s a comedian, so maybe his partisanship is good for laughs, but it will give way to a desire for good policy to win the day — even if the Republicans get some credit. We’ll let you decide.
Finally, was Gov. Chris Christie’s lap band surgery motivated by political ambition or personal health? One of us thinks Americans are too obsessed with weight to elect an obese president. Another worries that the act of losing weight will obscure Christie’s record in New Jersey if he decides to challenge Hillary Clinton in 2016. Is it possible for aspiring elected officials to make decisions independent of their political future?
We hope you have as much fun hearing us analyze these issues as we had laughing it out over them.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Margaret Hoover.