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Hi, VoDog! Always love me some Thomas Frank on establishment Dems. Thanks.


Thanks for the great read, VOD. 🙂


Volunteers Work to Curate Environmental Information

In the past several months, a movement has sprung up among librarians, environmental and computer scientists, and supporters of access to public data to create archives of environmental information. While the volume of material is daunting (we’re talking hundreds of millions of webpages), volunteers have made considerable headway, collecting terabytes (TB) of data to date, with more being collected all the time.

One team, called the Azimuth Climate Data Backup Project, had by February 11 backed up 19 TB of data from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and other federal agencies that collect climate-related data. “I know there is a gap, because there are several large datasets which are still being downloaded, mostly by me,” Jan Galkowski, a statistician who contributes to the group, told The Scientist in an email. “We have the capability and will probably fill 40 TB of storage with the data we have replicated. This will take some time to move to its eventual homes, simply because network transfer speeds are not that high.”

The election of President Donald Trump, and expectations that climate-related projects in particular would face cuts during his administration, has stoked fears that access to government environmental data may be in peril. “We’re not going to see any disappearing data overnight,” said Michelle Murphy, director of the Technoscience Research Unit at the University of Toronto. “One way to lose data is to close a program. . . . . [Its dataset] doesn’t have to be deleted, it just becomes uncared for, goes offline, goes into a drawer.”

In response to those concerns, Murphy helped start the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) several months ago. The volunteer-run project coordinates the collection and archiving of US government data through so-called data rescue events, in which people meet up to allocate expertise and computing power to saving particular datasets or websites. Dozens of these events have been held around the U.S. and Canada so far, with more scheduled.

EDGI partners with the DataRefuge network—an initiative launched by the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania—and the Internet Archive to store the webpages and data that participants collect. According to Dawn Walker, who works with EDGI, 1.7 Tebibytes (TiB) have been downloaded for inclusion in DataRefuge, including 158 datasets that are now available for download. Data rescue volunteers have also nominated 73,500 URLs from government websites to be crawled by the Internet Archive. (Crawling is the process of downloading a website, then fanning out to each link from that site and downloading those, and so on.)

Jefferson Bailey, the director of web archiving at the Internet Archive, said some of these would likely have been included in the organization’s already-scheduled End of Term crawl, which collects URLs from .gov and .mil at the turnover of each presidential term. But the efforts of EDGI are complementary. Four years ago, Bailey said, people nominated only around 1,400 URLs to crawl. “We can crawl, scale, and store a lot,” he told The Scientist. “But we don’t the have time and staff to host events.” Working with EDGI, he said, has “been a good pairing.”

In addition to the organized efforts of EDGI and Azimuth, concerned citizens have made their own individual contributions. Bryce Lynch, a Bay Area security specialist who previously worked at NASA, has been downloading sensor-buoy data from NOAA continuously for the past two months. He also participated in a local data rescue event.

“I’ve got maybe 29-30 terabytes here on my rack. . . . I’m devoting half of my bandwidth to downloading this stuff,” he said. “I’ve been going at it for two months now. I’m not stopping anytime soon.”

Nor is the guerilla archiving momentum. At Rice University in Houston last Saturday, around 75 volunteers spent the day searching for websites to be archived, or writing code to harvest data. Kathy Hart Weimer, head of the Kelley Center for Government Information, Data and Geospatial Services at Rice’s Fondren Library, said she was inspired to organize the event knowing what had happened in previous administrations when the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget was cut. “That caused some libraries to close,” she said. “Librarians who remember that are attuned to federal budgets. We want to make sure information is maintained so not only scientists can access the data, but the public as well.”

As people were packing up to leave the data rescue event, said Weimer, people were asking: “Are we going to do it again?” Maybe they will, she told The Scientist. “We’ll see what happens next.”


In case folks do not know about DataRefuge, here’s a small summary:

DataRefuge is a public, collaborative project designed to address the following concerns about federal climate and environmental data:

What are the best ways to safeguard data?

How do federal agencies play crucial roles in data collection, management, and distribution?

How do government priorities impact data’s accessibility?

Which projects and research fields depend on federal data?

Which data sets are of value to research and local communities, and why?

DataRefuge is also an initiative committed to identifying, assessing, prioritizing, securing, and distributing reliable copies of federal climate and environmental data so that it remains available to researchers. Data collected as part of the #DataRefuge initiative will be stored in multiple, trusted locations to help ensure continued accessibility.

DataRefuge acknowledges–and in fact draws attention to–the fact that there are no guarantees of perfectly safe information. But there are ways that we can create safe and trustworthy copies. DataRefuge is thus also a project to develop the best methods, practices, and protocols to do so.

DataRefuge depends on local communities. We welcome new collaborators who want to organize DataRescue Events or build DataRefuge in other ways.



LD/JD: TERRIFIC AND VERY IMPORTANT NEWS!! Many thanks and rec’s!! 🙂


More lies

EPA head falsely claims carbon emissions aren’t the cause of global warming

The man in charge of the protecting the country’s environment, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Thursday morning and falsely claimed carbon dioxide emissions are not the “primary cause” of global warming.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” he said.

Pruitt might choose not to accept that fact, but it’s true. Scientists have overwhelmingly found a causal relationship between the carbon dioxide humanity has been spewing into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution and the ever-increasing global temperatures.


Bernie is on live with Josh Fox, environmental activist and DNC delegate



Thanks for the link, really great video! Looks like Bernie is doing a whole series on interviewing Environmental activists. Bernie said he met with Standing Rock Water Protectors this morning. Josh Fox said his Standing Rock documentary will be coming out on Earth Day April 22, and there’s a People’s Climate March in DC on April 29.


Tim Black is interviewing Sam Ronan…


Part of the discussion is about earning trust by holding those accountable in political parties who have power.


Sam Ronan is starting what he calls the “Average Joe Initiative” — (will replace what’s at his http://thejoesinitiative.org when it’s up) — which will help Progressives run for office. He says when he tried to run for Congress in Ohio last year as a Democrat, he realized the DNC only supported the 6 biggest and easiest-to-win races in Ohio, for the party insiders, and didn’t provide any support or even basic information to the other Democratic candidates like him throughout the state. He couldn’t even get his basic questions answered by the party, he was completely on his own.

He’s right, I’ve seen firsthand how the Democratic Party shunned the local Progressive candidates that ran, plus the people who try to do outreach and run in red districts. There has been complete neglect of local races by the DNC since they dropped the 50-state strategy 8 years ago. Meanwhile, the Republicans and the Koch Brothers’ Organizations have been laser focused on all these local races in states like Ohio for the past 8 years, with initiatives like REDMAP, and doing a great deal of local-level organizing and training. That’s why states like Ohio have turned redder and redder for the past years, and much of the Republican agenda has been advanced at the state level. The Democratic Party has been utterly useless.

So Sam is asking for donations and help to set up a web site and database that will help Progressives (including himself) run for office, and in his words “infiltrate the party”. Sounds good to me, I support that & Justice Democrats & Brand New Congress, plus any Progressives that just run as Independents where they need to (if Bernie pulled it off in Vermont, others can too!)


Yes, thinking that maybe he should approach BNC & JDems, maybe OR, though, and strengthen this combination. A lot of Berners already here, and why split up, like so many well-intentioned egos seem to do (something to do with raising money, perhaps?).

I’m not saying he’s in it for the money, but we have a good start, I’d say. Let’s join in.


It figures that Maloney’s plan predicts success in districts like the one he represents.


For the previous 14 months, they had battled a so-called “right to farm” ballot initiative, with Maxwell serving as “the general” (to quote his friends) of that campaign. Corporate agricultural interests in Oklahoma hoped the measure would protect factory farming from environmental, food safety and humanitarian regulations. The deep-red state’s Republican governor and every member of its all-GOP congressional delegation backed it.

In response, Maxwell, who works for the Humane Society, had helped assemble an opposition force of animal welfare activists, environmental groups, Native American tribes and family farmers. Few political strategists would have picked that coalition to overcome the influence of the state’s dominant industry. But there Maxwell was, quietly enjoying a beer as he listened to former state Attorney General Drew Edmondson (D) deliver the news of their crushing victory to a cheering audience. The “no” vote had carried every congressional district in the state and defeated Big Ag by more than 20 points.

After the 2016 disaster, Democrats tasked Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) with performing an independent “autopsy” of the party’s disappointing performance in House races across the country. His team conjured a 350-variable mathematical model, studying hundreds of districts. The massive resulting equation predicts doom for Democrats in districts with few college-educated voters, but sees promise in wealthier, diversifying suburbs. It suggests a strategy that effectively writes off all of rural America.

“They’re just wrong,” Maxwell said. “They can’t do that, and they don’t have to.”

Maxwell’s brand of politics looks beyond the poll-tested analytics that dominate Washington. Even the best mathematical models — tools like Maloney’s current project — are only useful at a particular snapshot in time. They treat voters as static data points, rather than human beings capable of changing their minds. A model might focus on the number of Democrats registered in a district to predict the party’s performance in an upcoming race. But models can’t explain how to create more Democrats in that district.

Maxwell won where Democrats weren’t even playing, in a state where Trump carried every single county. When he convinced the Humane Society to get involved against the right-to-farm measure in 2015, independent polling showed his side trailing 64 percent to 15 percent.

His decision to fight and battle plan reveal a possible path for the Democratic Party out of the political wilderness and back to electoral relevance. But taking it would require rejecting the political strategy that Democratic leaders are now honing in Washington.

“Democrats don’t have to throw out their values,” Maxwell insists. “Democrats don’t even have to abandon their issues. It’s about how you frame it. It’s about connecting with people and showing them how your ideas fit with their values.”


Go, Maxwell!

“Democrats” don’t have the values to abandon, sad to say.

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