Monday, April 10, 2006

Immigrants rally for dignity

Hundreds of thousands of people demanding rights and citizenship for illegal immigrants protested in nearly 70 cities and towns across the U.S. The national day of action was dubbed the "Campaign for Immigrants' Dignity."

The rallies come after key immigration reform legislation in Congress reached an impasse last week.

Apparently the large crowds have had an impact on the legislators. Both major parites have been courting Latinos the fastest-growing voting population in the country.

A Korean drummer, Grace Nam, performing at a protest in New York City was quoted by the Associated Press as saying: "We just need to make our voices heard. You want to live in a place where people are treated with dignity."

It's estimated that there were some 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. in 2005. In some sectors, they make up an important part of the work force.

North Korea, Iran and the Nuclear Issue

North Korea's refusal to enter into six-way talks on its nuclear program might be related directly to the nuclear confrontation between the U.S. and Iran.

The recent rumors of possible strike planning against Iran must be making their way to Pyongyang. Indeed yesterday, the official Korea Central News Agency again stated that the nation was prepared for any "pre-emptive" strike and specifically mentioned the U.S.

All the talk of attacks on Iran and even the possible use of nuclear weapons against its underground facilities only create an atmosphere of distrust, and fuel hatred against America.

Most people now realize that pre-emptive warfare does nothing to increase world security. What it has done is increase human suffering and an atmosphere of belligerence among the world's nations. The Asia Pacific region has no real interest in isolating North Korea and its people.

It doesn't take a genius to see the hypocrisy in forcing a nation not to build its own nuclear weapons, while threatening it with one's own nukes.

La Niña, El Niño and global warming

Here in Sacramento we've been experiencing a very wet winter and spring. Rivers are at dangerous levels and just to the south the San Joaquin river system is at its second highest level ever.

Sacramento is ranked as having the lowest flood protection of any major U.S. city, including New Orleans. Two major rivers meet near the downtown area and many streams run into the city from the nearby foothills. Like New Orleans much of the metropolitan area depends on levee protection.

Prolonged wet and cold weather has been blamed on the La Niña weather pattern. Both El Niño and La Niña are cyclical phenomenon that occur in the east Pacific Ocean.

La Niña involves cooler than normal waters in the tropical Pacific. However, both weather oscillations are related, and many scientists believe they are also linked with global warming.

There are two major theories that connect global warming with these patterns. One claims that the higher temperatures cause increased seawater evaporation, charging the atmosphere with greater moisture. This, in turn, results in wetter storms.

The other theory states that the weather patterns act as a type of 'pressure valve' ejecting heat from the Pacific region. As global warming means more heat, the frequency of the oscillations increases and we have more El Niños and La Niñas .

Unfortunately many countries still have not warmed up to the Kyoto Protocol to control greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Even after the Pentagon listed the weather trend, and not terrorism, as the greatest threat facing America, the world's largest polluter still refuses to go along.

Remember global warming as caused by industrial pollution is not normal or natural. For some 10,000 years, we have enjoyed relatively predictable weather patterns that have become part of our traditions. For the first time in history, humans have been able to directly effect climate to some degree.

Just a small degree, but that is enough to have major impact on the way we live.

Greenhouse gases caused primarily by fossil fuel burning trap heat in the atmosphere warming the world's oceans. The increased heat fuels tropical storms and may effect oscillations like El Niño-La Niña. It can also increase melting of polar ice caps and glaciers and possibly change the course of ocean currents. The former can increase sea levels causing coastal flooding while the latter changes normal weather patterns.

Put simply, not dealing with global warming is like playing global celebrity poker. You don't know what hand you will be dealt. However, practically any change will likely have a negative effect because it upsets the current balance and setup.

Just something to think about as another big storm heads this way.