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Trump, Putin, Mosul: Your Weekend Briefing

#briefing-market-module.interactive-embedded .interactive-caption { display: none; } Market Snapshot View Full Overview ____ Photo Credit Joshua Bright for The New York Times 9. Data analysis is surely useful on Wall Street, but can it help explain why Jane Austen’s works have endured 200 years after her death? Continue reading the main story The Upshot gave it a try, and in the end, as it turns out, Austen’s word choices may be why she has remained relevant. Above, a woman dressed as Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, at the Jane Austen Society’s annual Regency ball. ____ Photo Credit Nic Bothma/European Pressphoto Agency 10 […]

Asia and Australia Edition: North Korea, Vladimir Putin, G-20: Your Thursday Briefing

#briefing-market-module.interactive-embedded .interactive-caption { display: none; } Market Snapshot View Full Overview In the News Photo Credit Associated Press • A Chinese hospital invited experts from the U.S. and Germany to help treat the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo for late-stage liver cancer. [The New York Times] • A U.S. […]

Asia and Australia Edition: Otto Warmbier, Syria, North Korea: Your Morning Briefing

#briefing-market-module.interactive-embedded .interactive-caption { display: none; } Market Snapshot View Full Overview In the News Photo Credit Shah Marai/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images • The killing of eight Afghan guards by the Taliban highlights the bitter changes at Bagram Air Base, the sprawling American military site. […]

Changing the Way We Move In Cities

Cities are making the difference on climate action, for which urban transport is key. Will national leaders at COP21 draw on the lessons learnt by local government leaders? These last months of 2015 will be a crucial moment for action on climate change and towards sustainability — not only because of the adoption of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the pivotal COP21 climate summit in Paris, but because of the momentum that has been building around the world on climate action. We are quickly recognizing that the only sensible thing to do, both economically and socially, is to implement measures that strike a balance between economic development and environmental protection, while putting communities at the core of public policies and private endeavors. In our collective imagination, economic growth is often linked to movement. The reality in cities, though, is that people and goods spend a significant amount of time in traffic. The average speed on the urban roads of the largest European cities is lower than 36 km/h, a figure that in central and inner London goes down to 14-20 Km/h. Traffic congestion is a major sunk cost for economies, already costing megacities such as Shanghai as much as 9 percent of their annual GDP, while estimates of the World Health Organization tell us that as many as 3.7 million people died in 2012 because of outdoor air pollution. Urban transport is also a major driver of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and therefore of climate change. GHG emissions from the transport sector — half of which come from urban transport, are projected to increase by 140 percent between 2000 and 2050. According to the latest report by the IPCC, “without aggressive and sustained mitigation policies being implemented, transport emissions could increase at a faster rate than emissions from the other energy end-use sectors and reach around 12 Gt CO2eq per year by 2050,” a third of what is considered by scientists an acceptable threshold to stay under a 2°C increase in global temperature. Local governments, and cities in particular, have a crucial need to find and follow a different path. This is why they are often also the first ones to come up with innovative solutions. Like many other large cities worldwide, the City of Johannesburg finds itself now at a crucial crossroad. With a population of more than four million, Johannesburg is growing fast and thus it has increasing congestion problems. Half of all motorized transfers within the city are made by private cars, often with a single occupant, and another 35 percent are made by minibuses and taxis. Half of the city’s energy consumption is attributable to transport. Traffic on the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg Photo Credit: City of Johannesburg The business district of Sandton in Johannesburg, considered the financial hub of Africa, is one of the most congested areas in the city. Over 100,000 people move in and out of its core every day, while the number of commuters increases by 3.4 percent every year. In 20 years’ time this number will have doubled. City officials understand that traffic in Sandton will soon grind to a halt unless major interventions are made, and this is what led Johannesburg to look into alternative ways to address its mobility concerns to build a more sustainable and inclusive urban environment. The month-long EcoMobility World Festival 2015, organized in partnership with ICLEI, provided a glimpse into an ecomobile future and a platform for mobility experts and local government leaders from all around the world to discuss sustainable transport options for the city of the future. A lasting legacy of new sustainable infrastructure is currently being developed to open up Sandton to the neighboring areas and allow for greater use of sustainable modes of transport, including walking, cycling, and public transport. The results are encouraging: already the preferred mode of transport for Johannesburg citizens has become the high speed Gautrain, while private car use dropped from 90 percent to 68 percent since the launch of the festival. Electric vehicles at the Mayors EcoMobility Ride in Johannesburg, October 2015 Photo Credit: City of Johannesburg The story of Johannesburg is strikingly similar to the position in which the City of Copenhagen found itself decades ago. Copenhagen is widely considered a success story for its commitment to sustainable urban transport and use of public spaces, but it wasn’t always the sustainability champion that it is today. Back in the 1960s, Copenhagen was as car-clogged as any other major city, and popular demand called for a new highway to be built over the beautiful inner lakes that surround the city center. The city found itself at a very important juncture. It could decide to adapt the urban infrastructure to the growing private transport fluxes, or it could bet on sustainable transport and eco-mobility. In Copenhagen the citizens took to the streets and demanded the highway project to be stopped — which visionary politicians did, launching in its place a new long-term approach that eventually transformed the city into a model for local urban transport and sustainable use of public spaces. Cyclists on the Queen Louise Bridge of Copenhagen Photo Credit: Ursula Bach for the City of Copenhagen By 2025, Copenhagen will be the first carbon neutral capital in the world, and 11 percent of the carbon reduction will come from mobility. As much as 63 percent of all citizens in Copenhagen already bike to school and work every day. Copenhagen still has congestion issues — bike congestion — and it’s currently dedicating substantial resources to expand the existing bike lanes and build new bike highways. The never-ending flow of Copenhageners on bicycles crisscrossing the city has been 40 years in the making. It took boldness and vision to take decisions that set the city on the path to sustainability. The Bike Serpent connecting two parts of Copenhagen Photo Credit: Ursula Bach for the City of Copenhagen As the examples of Copenhagen and Johannesburg show, cities can be — and often are — at the forefront of climate action, starting from the one issue that is common to all urban areas: mobility. Copenhagen had congestion problems in the past and successfully overcame most of them by choosing light over heavy infrastructure. Johannesburg today has very similar problems and has started solving them in a smart and inclusive way. As COP21 approaches, and as all new evidence indicates that we must act in a timely and effective manner to avoid the worst-case scenarios, we need world leaders to be as bold and visionary as the people and the cities of Copenhagen and Johannesburg. — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

5 Things I Learned From Working for an Animal Shelter

Photo Credit: Bernard Lima-Chavez, Dog & His Boy I recently quit my 9-5. After many years working for an animal shelter, I resigned from my position. There was no bad blood, I was not burned out and I was not suffering from compassion fatigue. I was handed an opportunity that makes more sense for me and my family, so I jumped. This has been a big transition and, during the process, I’ve been reflecting on the many things I learned from working in animal welfare, what those countless hours meant to me and what changes I think need to be made in the animal welfare community. Though the lessons are numerous and broad, I’ve been thinking a lot of about one particular subject: judgement. Today, I’m sharing five things I learned during my time working for a private, not-for-profit shelter where animals were, generally speaking, free from the threat of euthanasia. When I use the term “animal welfare”, I mean it to include municipal animal controls, non-profit shelters, private rescue groups of all sizes and sanctuaries. Nowhere do I use the words “kill shelter” or “no kill”, and I never will. Those terms are not honest or factual, they are frequently misunderstood and they are dripping with contempt. Photo Credit: Bernard Lima-Chavez, Dog & His Boy Stop Judging People! (News Flash! There ARE some very good reasons to surrender a pet!) Yes, there are some very bad reasons to surrender an animal to a shelter and I could write a whole article on this alone, but there are also some very good reasons as well. Despite the best laid plans, life is unpredictable and sometimes bad things happen to good dogs (and their people). I have comforted grown men, crying, almost hysterically so, because he had to leave his dog. I have met women living in domestic abuse shelters that would not let her live there- her one chance at physical and emotional safety- unless she rehomed her cat. These are good people in the midst of terrible situations. They are grieving their own loss and they feel guilty because their best friend does not understand what is happening or why. The act of surrendering and being surrendered is a traumatic experience and it requires some grace and humanity on our part. I can’t imagine what this feels like and, knock wood, I never will. Sometimes, people have to make terrible decisions and yes, sometimes it is in the animal’s best interest to be surrendered to a shelter. The truth isn’t always warm and fuzzy. Sometimes, it just plain sucks. Photo Credit: Bernard Lima-Chavez, Dog & His Boy Please, Stop Judging Animal Control Agencies Within the maze of county animal control agencies, private not-for-profit animal shelters, rescue organizations, private individuals working alone and sanctuaries that exist in most areas of this country, there is frequently a certain level of distrust of each other. Each organization believes that their approach is the best solution, that the others are corrupt or hoarders or liars or murders or crazy people who don’t know the limits of how many animals they can help. The open-admit, government-funded shelters are mandated to take in any animal that comes through the door, despite a pittance of a budget and very few resources to work towards successful adoptions. Many have created large-scale foster care, transfer and pet-retention programs, but when options have been exhausted and space has been filled, euthanasia must be considered. These are good people making tough decisions and they don’t like the outcomes anymore than their critics. They did not create this mess; rather, they are tasked with fixing a problem of epidemic proportions with little to no resources, and so many of us in the animal community are picketing and public-shaming and screaming “murderer!” from the top of our lungs. Photo Credit: Bernard Lima-Chavez, Dog & His Boy Seriously, Stop Judging Limited-Admit Shelters! Many in our communities misunderstand what a limited-admit shelter is. Many people call them “no-kill”, which is inaccurate. Generally speaking, they take in animals that they have space for and that they feel they can find homes for. When space fills up, they close intake. It sucks but it’s called math. If you have 50 rooms and 50 cages, you can only humanely house a specific number of animals. But as much as it is simple math, it is also a much more complex equation that involves an assessment of the size of the dogs, the size of the rooms, the behavior of the individuals animals and their medical and socialization needs. Limited-admit shelters also develop comprehensive foster care programs, implement enrichment and behavioral modification programs (if financial resources allow) and even forge transport relationships with other organizations with similar missions and policies. These not-for-profits are also strapped for money and depend on adoption fees and donations to keep the animals fed, provide medical care and keep the doors open. They are doing the best that they can with what resources and community support they have. To accomplish these lofty goals humanely, their intake procedures must be slow and controlled. You typically can’t just drop off a stray animal or even your own pet. Call ahead. Ask about the intake procedures. Be patient. They are doing the best they can to help as many animals as possible, but sometimes the answer is going to be, “Yes, but not today'” or “No, but here are some other resources for you.” Photo Credit: Bernard Lima-Chavez, Dog & His Boy If You Really Want to Help The Animals, Stop Judging Private Rescues! Private rescue groups are doing important work. They often step in when animal control and not-for-profit shelters can’t help an animal. Rescues are almost always entirely foster-based organizations that have even less resources available than shelters. We are talking about a group of individuals who walk the talk when it comes to helping homeless animals. Though there are some completely irresponsible rescue organizations that toe the line of hoarder, there are very many responsible, reputable rescues that do right by the animals in their care. We cannot judge all rescues by a few crazypants who are working from a place of how they feel about an animal’s situation rather than what is in the best interest of the animal- and these are two entirely different things. I can name a couple dozen responsible rescue organizations in my area off the top of my head. They understand the limits of how many animals they can humanely take in, they provide medical care for their animals and they organize public adoption events to showcase the animals that need homes. I will tell you that, in my experience, a responsible rescue organization has been designated as a 501(c)(3) and is registered with state or local governments when applicable and they are registered as authorized organizations that can pull from municipal animal controls. These are few things I personally think are hallmark indicators that a rescue organization is reputable and responsible. It’s not fool-proof to be sure, but it is a good criteria to start from when evaluating a rescue organization. Photo Credit: Bernard Lima-Chavez, Dog & His Boy For God’s Sake, Please STOP Judging People Who Want to Adopt! With 7.6 million homeless dogs and cats in the United States alone, we need to stop erecting unnecessary barriers to adoptions! We need to stop judging a family’s fitness to care for an animal based on income alone, or if the neighborhood they live in does not meet our own personal standards, or if they are first-time pet parents or if they have the wrong color skin or if they do not have a perfect pet history. I am a veterinary technician, my family earns a livable wage and my animals are all current on vaccines and preventative care. I am a pet blogger who is a huge advocate for deaf dogs and I work to educate pet parents on proper care, nutrition and socialization of their pets. Each of my dogs is trained and extremely well-behaved, and I would be denied by many not-for-profit shelters and rescue organizations. My pet history is not perfect. I work (egads!) 8-9 hours a day while my husband travels for weeks at a time. My backyard is fenced but my front one is not. I personally know adoption counselors, both staff and volunteers, who are fantastic pet parents, who, based on an adoption application alone, would deny themselves as adopters. They would deem themselves unfit to provide a loving, safe home. This makes me want to scream. One part of the adoption process needs to be educating people- on the specific animal they want to adopt, on what kind of medical care will be needed, on keeping the dog safe, on the importance of basic obedience training, and the list goes on. I love the animal welfare community and am still a part of it. None of this is an indictment. Rather, it is meant as a call to action to educate ourselves and community, to forge partnerships with each other and to focus our energy on what is in the best interest of the homeless animal before us. To me, the guiding question for every single interaction with every animal in our collective care needs to be, “What do you need from me right now?” — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website. […]

Tesla Moves to Make Renewable Energy More Viable

*Photo Credit: Tesla Energy Imagine a world in which all our energy needs comes from clean, renewable sources. Every building could be covered and powered by solar panels. Transportation could be provided by electric vehicles. Clean and free electricity provided by sun and wind could be used in real time and stored in batteries for later use. […]

Gen Art: Will Sustainability be the Future of Fashion?

Photo Credit: Neil Chambers Will sustainability be part of the fashion industry in 5 to 10 years ? […]