Friday, December 31, 2010

December News Roundup & Blog Updates

The theme Times are Strange (7/16) continues with the weather very much in the news.

A Christmas week storm covered the state of California, blanketing the Sierras with record snowfall and the rest of the state with heavy rains (half the state’s annual rainfall in one week), prompting mudslides in the south where devastation from forest fires had left nothing to soak up the moisture. Gov. Schwarzenegger declared seven counties disaster areas. Good news? This year’s snowpack in the Sierras may ease the water shortage caused by years of drought. The storm then swept across the country, wreaking havoc with all forms of holiday transportation, ultimately leaving New York City unable to cope with its 20 inches of snow.

A second California storm arrived in the Mid West just in time for New Year’s Eve. A tornado associated with this weather event killed 3 and injured several more in Arkansas earlier today.

England was hit with a pre-holiday blizzard of its own. The heaviest December snowfall since 1981, coupled with heavy cold and compounded by a shortage of de-icer, closed Heathrow for nearly 4 days, stranding travelers on both sides of the Pond.

The wettest December in 150 years has led to widespread flooding in Australia.

Diseases in the News:
Some 130,000 people in Haiti have have been infected by cholera since the first case was confirmed on October 22. The death toll is currently over 2,700.

While it may be difficult to convince the unconvinced that the earth is warming with so much cold weather in the news, NOAA has released its statistics for November, including this statement: For the 2010 year to date (Jan.-Nov.), the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.64°C (1.15°F) above the 20th century average—the warmest such period since records began in 1880.

At the 2010 UN Convention on Climate Change held in CancĂșn, an accord was reached on December 11, which is far less than many had sought, bur far greater than many had deemed possible. Bolivia stood alone in opposing the agreement. The nations will convene on the same topic in S. Africa from November 28-December 9, 2011.

On December 28 the EPA issued a press release outlining in general terms its plan for enforcing in 2011 the greenhouse gas pollution standards called for under the Clean Air Act, first passed in 1970 and revised in 1990. Many anticipate that the agency will have to tread lightly since there is much opposition to the implementation of this legislation.

The results of November’s election are by now well-known. While the full ramifications of how we voted are not yet clear, one thing is certain. Change is on the horizon. The election for governor in my state of Connecticut was a real cliff-hanger. Dan Malloy, former mayor of big-city Stamford, will be the first Democratic governor in two decades. CT Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will become junior senator, replacing long-serving and hardworking Christopher Dodd.

In California, former Gov. Jerry Brown will once again be sworn in as Gov. Jerry Brown on January 3. California voters rejected both Proposition 19 (which would have legalized and taxed marijuana) and Proposition 23 (which would have repealed the Global Warming Solutions Act enacted by the state in 2007). California municipalities continue to ban plastic shopping bags: San Jose banned the hand-out of single use bags of any kind. Progress continues towards meeting the state’s goal of one million solar roofs by 2018. 

Census results were released this week. Why is this filed under my political news? Where people live has a direct impact on the number of Congressional Representatives allotted to each state. A number of states in the Northeast and in the Rust Belt will lose a representative in 2012. New York and Ohio will each lose 2. The winners were a number of states in the Sun Belt. Florida will gain 2, and Texas is the big winner with a gain of 4! Representatives in states about to be redistricted are scrambling for options. It is speculated that  Dennis Kucinich’s Cleveland seat is a possible target for elimination. Those in power at the state level redraw the political maps. Kucinich is out there on the left in a state the Republicans rule.

Among the significant pieces of legislation passed in the lame-duck Congress were the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act, which improves the quality of meals served in schools; and the Food Safety Modernization Act, which aims to enhance the safety of food produced in the US and imported, and to prevent food-borne illness.

Elm City Market Co-Op, scheduled to open in Spring, 2011, has more than reached its goal of 300 “founding members.” Over 400 people have joined the Co-Op. The Co-Op held its first elections. Stephen Fries (professor of hospitality management at Gateway Community College, food columnist, and producer of the New Haven Iron Chef Competition) was chosen to replace outgoing Meghan Knight.

New Haven appeared in the national media for a number of good reasons at year’s end. Yale’s Whiffenpoofs appeared on Sing-Off. Yale student Sam Spaulding ’13 placed second in the 2010 College Championship edition of Jeopardy! Finally, our mailman’s daughter-in-law Brenda DePonte and her mother Carol Vollono, owners of the Sugar Bakery in East Haven, were the winners of the first Cupcake Wars of the new season! The $10,000 prize is pretty sweet… Congratulations to them all. 

Check out this link to one of my holiday shopping posts at NPR. My blog’s page views have gone from 3339 on 9/27 to 7000+ today, 12/31! FYI my own personal page views are not counted. Thanks everyone. Please keep reading in 2011 and tweet, buzz, or tell your friends.

Happy New Year!

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