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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Why are we redefining science?

Are we going back to the age of the Inquisition, heresy trials and science as a public court?

When did science become opinion? When did point of view make science irrelevant? Over the past two decades there has been an erosion of science in the US that has put us behind much of the world. The erosion has come from politically motivated budget cuts, denial of scientific realities such as global warming, that stem cell does not involve killing babies and space research does make breakthroughs in practical technologies we use on earth every day at a cost far less than developing the same technology without the space program. Evolution as a theory (not fact) is now competing with concepts that have not been researched or scientifically proven to qualify as hypothesis much less theories.

These realities are just that. The public does not understand or give weight to the way science does research, based on factual responses and the volume of evidence, the varied weights of types of evidence and the independent neutral observer nature of scientific fields.

Now, with Republican governors and legislatures dominating the country, a Republican Majority in the House of Representatives, the aftermath of a very real Great Recession, property tax and other revenue loss that traditionally funds government, the loss of endowments due to a shift in the economy and the growing feeling that shouting heads and he who says something the most wins and has a right to be "right" and the arbiter of truth, scientific advancement and the position of the US as a leader in the world of Science, are in real jeopardy.

Universities and college systems are being slashed across the nation, with costly science programs (per student) and research programs receiving a disproportionate percentage of the ax.

High Schools work to increase science and math levels while teachers, staff and equipment are reduced or eliminated.

The open minded methods of collecting scientific evidence, and the very definition of what is a scientific theory are being altered to fit religious, political and social perceptions, without consideration of the process of scientific examination and the scientific process.

On NPR's Talk of the Nation:


Science Funding And The Budget



On NPR's Science Friday today the following issues are discussed (click on sentence for link to audio story):

What are President Obama's spending priorities when it comes to science and technology? White House Science Advisor John Holdren discusses the President's proposed 2012 budget. Plus, Congressman Rush Holt on Congress's plans to cut science spending from this years budget.

Some moon craft house instruments from a handful of countries--an example of international scientific collaboration. But how valuable is science in the diplomatic sphere? Biologist Nina Fedoroff, former science adviser to both Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, talks about her time in Washington


Public Media Association

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Stacey Karp
202-654-4222
skarp@apts.org


House Eliminates Funding For Local Public Television and Radio Stations

WASHINGTON — February 19, 2011 — Today, the Public Media Association (PMA) expressed deep disappointment with the House vote to eliminate funding for local public television and radio stations. The House vote was 235-189.

“If this House-passed bill stands, it would endanger hundreds of public radio and television stations that serve as educational, informational and cultural lifelines for millions of people nationwide, and it would be a death sentence for stations serving rural and small-town America,” said PMA president Patrick Butler.

“Public broadcasting serves people everywhere, including hundreds of communities where such service would never be profitable,” Butler continued. “To dismantle a public broadcasting system that 170 million Americans regularly rely on for lifelong learning, in-depth news and public affairs programming, and world-class culture – all for the sake of reducing one year’s federal budget deficit by less than three thousandths of one percent – is to recklessly defy the will of the American people, who routinely rank public broadcasting just behind national defense as the best use of taxpayer dollars.

“We urge the Senate to reject this House action, and we hope the final decision on this matter will recognize the enduring value of public broadcasting as America’s largest classroom, its greatest stage, and its most trusted and comprehensive source of information for the citizens of the world’s greatest democracy,” Butler concluded.

About PMA
The Public Media Association (PMA) is joint initiative between the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) and NPR to respond to the current federal funding crisis on behalf of local public radio and television stations.

Corporation for Public Broadcasting Defunded


Support Public Broadcasting - Call 202-224-3121

House Eliminates Funding For Local Public Television and Radio Stations

WASHINGTON — February 19, 2011 — Today, the Public Media Association (PMA) expressed deep disappointment with the House vote to eliminate funding for local public television and radio stations. The House vote was 235-189.

"If this House-passed bill stands, it would endanger hundreds of public radio and television stations that serve as educational, informational and cultural lifelines for millions of people nationwide, and it would be a death sentence for stations serving rural and small-town America," said PMA president Patrick Butler.

"Public broadcasting serves people everywhere, including hundreds of communities where such service would never be profitable," Butler continued. "To dismantle a public broadcasting system that 170 million Americans regularly rely on for lifelong learning, in-depth news and public affairs programming, and world-class culture – all for the sake of reducing one year’s federal budget deficit by less than three thousandths of one percent – is to recklessly defy the will of the American people, who routinely rank public broadcasting just behind national defense as the best use of taxpayer dollars.

"We urge the Senate to reject this House action, and we hope the final decision on this matter will recognize the enduring value of public broadcasting as America’s largest classroom, its greatest stage, and its most trusted and comprehensive source of information for the citizens of the world’s greatest democracy," Butler concluded.

Join the campaign to support public radio and TV at 170millionamericans.org/

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300 years of copyright "reform"





Call it the Magna Carta of copyright – England's Statute of Anne was born 300 years ago today and, for the first time in history, conferred upon authors certain rights to the work. Unfortunately, says Duke Law School professor James Boyle, modern copyright law has strayed far from Anne's original intent. NPR's On The Media looks at how a few powerful Guilds created a monopoly that today has become a nightmare of legal red tape and confusion, while also allowing greater publishing rights to large numbers of people.

For the first time in history the Statue of Anne conferred upon authors the rights to for their work. Prior to the statute Guilds concluded with the crown for form a monopoly. They profited highly, but did so under the promise of keeping published works non-heretical, not critical of the crown and not controversial against convention beliefs or knowledge.

John Milton, among others, complained that "Censorship that killed reason itself."

Freedom of expression was limited by prior-restraint. Therefore we are not transmitting knowledge and information reliably. Publishing was at a high cost that could be afford by only the elite, those already in power,

In the 1690's newspapers grew in numbers and influence, beginning to undermine control of information by the elite. The Guilds knew this and agreed to let go of total control in exchange of control over copyrights. Copyrights were held by the Guilds up until Statute of Ann, but at the same time the law opened the door to author ownership and the rights to compensation for your work.

Now right is author's right.

Publishers wanted a form of literary property to counter Scottish Pirates who were printing books at lower cost books to which they "had no rights"

Very similar to wars in the digital domain today.

Writers flourished in the century after the Statute of Ann.

In the 18th century coffee houses where people discussed ideas without regards to social class, and the entire elite only information system began to fall apart.  An educated public received different sources of news and could therefore judge and decide for themselves instead of being told what to believe.

The US launched copyright and patent law based on Statute of Anne.

Jefferson and Madison were concerned about monopolies, about government control, about the intellectual property rights being too tightly controlled without the creators being protected and open and free speech possible.

In 1790 the US passed its copyright act.

Copyright today last your life plus 70 years, where the framers of the US Constitution felt that 17 years was enough. The idea of holding copyright short, to 17 years, was central to allowing the distribution of knowledge.

Boyle feels that modern US copyright law limits our ability to build upon knowledge and information by locking in rights for far longer than was intended by the founding fathers and in effect may have returned to a Guild-like monopoly status.






Firefighters at the Capitol, people are the government but legislature insist negotiation not an option


Firefighters! Bagpipes! Unions!

Rapturous cheers greet a show of solidarity from Wisconsin firefighters at the state capitol VIDEO

It's Glenn Beck's worst nightmare -- firefighters invading government buildings in a spine-tingling display of union solidarity. Don't they know the Wisconsin protests are a Muslim Brotherhood plot to create a one-world Marxist government? - Salon.com
As the on-scene narrator notes -- firefighters are exempt from Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to strip collective bargaining rights from state employees, but that doesn't seem to have split union ranks in Wisconsin.
Credit for the video goes to "jessarp24."

Wisconsin Senate leader: Negotiation is not an option

The state's Senate majority leader said the bill to strip unions of collective bargaining rights will pass as is



UNLV/CSN Rumors of bankuptcy



Widely reported in the media today are statements regarding bankruptcy and financial exigency at UNLV.  I’m sure that many of you have similar concerns.  I would direct you to the presentation I gave in a recent town hall meeting, which can be found here.

CSN’s situation is markedly different from UNLV’s,and we serve the public in different ways. Under the governor’s proposed budget, CSN’s access mission would be significantly reduced, and operating budget cuts as well as fee increases would be very likely. With a 29% cut to CSN’s state funding, the budget proposal reshapes this college as we know it. But declaring financial exigency is not an option for CSN at this time.

I encourage you to stay informed about our budget situation.  Links on our website have current and accurate information.   The only aspect of the budget situation that has changed since the town hall is that we have been directed to prepare scenarios and preliminary plans for dealing with the recommended reductions.  The Board of Regents’ meeting March 10 and 11 will include a thorough discussion on these system and institutional plans.

As always, if you have questions, please let me know.

Best regards,

Mike


Michael D. Richards, Ph.D.
President
College of Southern Nevada
702-651-5600
(fax) 702-651-5001