The 2017 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science – “The Quest for One Healthy Planet”

“The Quest for One Healthy Planet” is the theme of the 2017 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science.

Join us for a series of six free public lectures on Saturday mornings from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park Campus.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is an annual free public minicourse organized by the Penn State Eberly College of Science as an enjoyable and enlightening learning opportunity for residents of the Central Pennsylvania area and beyond. The speakers are researchers who are expanding the frontiers of scientific knowledge in their fields.

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Noam Chomsky: American Foreign Policy Has a Long, Ugly History of Election-Rigging | Alternet

After Donald Trump’s vertigo-inducing election to the presidency, many members of the liberal media establishment have been quick to finger Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin for infiltrating our democratic institutions. Noam Chomsky believes the rest of the world must be “astonished” if not “collapsing in laughter.”

Since the end of the second World War, America has had its thumb on the scales of elections across the planet, from South Korea and Indochina to Greece and Italy, Australia and South America. In a revealing new interview with Truthout, the philosopher and political scientist reveals just how nefarious American interventionism has proven over the last 70 years:

“The history of US foreign policy… is pretty much defined by the subversion and overthrow of foreign regimes, including parliamentary regimes, and the resort to violence to destroy popular organizations that might offer the majority of the population an opportunity to enter the political arena.”

The United States infamously enlisted German scientists to combat the Soviets in Operation Paperclip, but government officials have cooperated with fascists and Nazi sympathizers on any number of occasions. “Following the Second World War, the United States was committed to restoring the traditional conservative order,” Chomsky says. “To achieve this aim, it was necessary to destroy the anti-fascist resistance… to weaken unions and other popular organizations.”

(read more).

Just Before Leaving White House, Obama Made a Final Climate Hail Mary | Alternet

With his time in the White House coming to an end and amid promises by the incoming Trump administration to defund international climate action, President Barack Obama transferred $500 million to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a key mechanism for climate change adaptation and renewable energy projects in the Global South.

The move follows weeks of international pressure for the Obama administration to make good on its commitment to the fund, which has found itself in the crosshairs of Trump’s policy agenda. The GCF is a primary vehicle for climate finance and is largely seen as the lynchpin of climate action and fulfilling the commitments made under the Paris Agreement. President-elect Trump has made advancing the fossil fuel industry’s agenda a central focus of his team, including by stacking his Cabinet with climate deniers and corporate CEOs, such as recently retired Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson.

“The Obama administration is refusing to let President-elect Trump’s posse of oil barons and climate deniers dictate how the world responds to the climate crisis,” said Tamar Lawrence-Samuel of Corporate Accountability International. “Tens of thousands of people around the world called on President Obama to step up before Trump takes the keys of our government and tries to reverse decades of climate progress. This victory is the climate justice movement’s opening salvo to the Trump presidency. And we’re not going away.”

Over the last several weeks, 129 organizations led by Corporate Accountability International, including and Center for International Environmental Law, joined more than 90,000 people incalling on the Obama administration to fulfill the U.S.’s commitment to the U.N. climate treaty’s Green Climate Fund by transferring $2.5 billion.

In 2014, the U.S. committed $3 billion to the GCF for its initial resource mobilization period of 2015–2018—and in March of 2016 transferred its first $500 million. Obama will now leave office having contributed $1 billion to the fund, but with serious doubts looming over whether additional funding will come from a Republican-controlled government.

Established as part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the GCF is the primary vehicle through which Global North countries, responsible for the vast majority of historical global greenhouse gas emissions, can provide the resources due to Global South countries so that they may adapt to the already devastating effects of climate change and transition to renewable energy sources. In March of 2016, understanding that climate deniers in Congress would refuse a direct appropriation, the Obama administration made good on $500 million of its commitment to the GCF through a State Department fund called the Economic Support Fund (ESF).

While this move is a significant victory in the face of the looming Trump administration, the GCF provides only a minute fraction of the total funding needed to comprehensively address the climate crisis, including adaptation and loss-and-damage, as well as the global transition to renewables. Indeed, recent analyses estimate the adaptation and mitigation costs for Global South countries in the trillions of dollars in just the next 13 years alone.

“Money is where the rubber hits the road when it comes to addressing climate change, especially in poor countries,” said Karen Orenstein of Friends of the Earth U.S. “President Obama’s action sends a powerful signal to the world that the Trump administration’s anti-science, anti-justice, pro-corporate approach to climate does not mean the people of the U.S. aren’t going to continue standing up and demanding climate action.”

The coalition that called for the Obama administration to take this step is part of a global movement of environmental and human rights groups dedicated to protecting a critical international commitment made by the U.S. and resisting Trump’s looming assault on climate policy, human rights and equity during his term. Not only do most of Donald Trump’s Cabinet appointments have long histories of dismantling and attacking environmental policies, 16 of them also own more wealth than one third of American households combined. They owe much of their wealth to years in the upper echelons of corporate America, confirming the fears of many that this administration will represent only the interests of corporations and the wealthy.

Jesse Bragg is the media director at Corporate Accountability International.

Senator Chuck Schumer’s Speech at Donald Trump’s Inauguration Ceremony


Published on Jan 20, 2017

Trump Inauguration Speech (FULL) | ABC News

ABC News

Published on Jan 20, 2017

President Trump Inauguration Address | The 45th president of the United States speaks outside the Capitol building on Inauguration Day. During his inaugural address, Trump told the American people that this was “their celebration.”He echoed themes that were repeated throughout his campaign, promising not to leave “the forgotten men and women” behind, and calling for a return of power to the people as opposed to politicians in Washington.

Barack Obama’s Emotional Speech after Donald Trump’s Inauguration: “Yes, we can!”


Published on Jan 20, 2017

His final speech given to former staff members before departing for California

Lone Democratic Speaker at Trump’s Inauguration, Chuck Schumer, Makes a Gutsy Statement | Alternet

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer set the tone for Democrats when he threw some unexpected shade at Donald Trump during his inaugural speech on Friday.

“My fellow Americans, we live in a challenging and tumultuous time,” Schumer told the crowd gathered to see Trump sworn into office.

The lone Democratic speaker in the ceremony then warned of “a rapidly changing economy… a fractured media… and threats, foreign and domestic.”

“In such times, faith in our government, our institutions, and even our country can erode,” Schumer stated. But, he expressed confidence in the American people nonetheless, garnering applause.

“We Americans have always been a forward-looking, problem-solving, optimistic, patriotic, and decent people,” he explained.

Then, drawing on Trump’s campaign rhetoric, Schumer said this:

“Whatever our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, whether we’re immigrant or native-born, whether we live with disabilities or do not, in wealth or in poverty, we’re all exceptional in our commonly held yet fierce devotion to our country and our willingness to sacrifice our time, energy and even our lives to making it a more perfect union.”

Schumer finished by speaking of a time America was even more divided than today; during the Civil War “when the North and South were lining up for their first battle.” The Senate minority leader then read a letter from Maj. Sullivan Ballou, a Union officer in the Civil War who sacrificed his life for his country at the war’s start.

“My love of country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield,” Ballou had written to his wife just one week before he died.