Thursday, January 10, 2019


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Scientists say the world’s oceans are heating up faster than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change.
Thursday, January 10, 2019
2:05 PM EST

A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster than the United Nations estimated five years ago. The escalating water temperatures are already killing off marine ecosystems, raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive.

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Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds
by Kendra Pierre-Louis
January. 10, 2019
New York Times
Rising ocean temperatures can bleach corals, like these off of Papua New Guinea. Credit Jurgen Freund/Minden Pictures

Scientists say the warming of the world’s oceans is accelerating more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change given that the vast majority of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases ends up stored there.

A new analysis, published Thursday in the journal Science, found that the oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago. The researchers also concluded that ocean temperatures have broken records for several straight years.

“2018 is going to be the warmest year on record for the Earth’s oceans,” said Zeke Hausfather, an energy systems analyst at the independent climate research group Berkeley Earth and an author of the study. “As 2017 was the warmest year, and 2016 was the warmest year.”

As the planet has warmed, the oceans have provided a critical buffer, slowing the effects of climate change by absorbing 93 percent of the heat trapped by human greenhouse gas emissions. But the escalating water temperatures are already killing off marine ecosystems, raising sea levels and making hurricanes more destructive.
As the oceans continue to heat up, those effects will become more catastrophic. Coral reefs, whose fish provide key sources of protein to millions of people, will come under increasing stress; a fifth of them have already died in the last three years. Rainier, more powerful storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and Hurricane Florence in 2018 will become more common, and coastlines around the world will flood more frequently.

Because they play such a critical role in global warming, oceans are one of the most important areas of research for climate scientists. Average ocean temperatures are also a consistent way to track the effects of greenhouse gas emissions because they are not influenced much by short-term weather patterns, Mr. Hausfather said.

“Oceans are really the best thermometer we have for changes in the Earth,” he said.

But, historically, understanding ocean temperatures has also been difficult. An authoritative United Nations report, issued in 2014 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, presented five different estimates of ocean heat, but they all showed less warming than the levels projected by computer climate models — suggesting that either the ocean heat measurements or the climate models were inaccurate.

Since the early 2000s, scientists have measured ocean heat using a network of drifting floats called Argo, named after Jason’s ship in Greek mythology. The floats measure the temperature and saltiness of the upper 6,500 feet of the ocean and upload the data via satellites.

PHOTO: An ocean sensor deployed by the French research ship Pourquoi Pas? as part of the Argo project.CreditOlivier Dugornay/IFremer/Argo Program

But before Argo, researchers relied on expendable bathythermographs, a sort of temperature sensor that ships lowered into the ocean with a copper wire. The wire transferred data from the sensor onto the ship for recording, until the wire broke and the sensor drifted away.
That method was subject to uncertainties, especially around measurement depth, that hamper today’s scientists as they stitch together temperature records into a global picture.

In the new analysis, Mr. Hausfather and his colleagues assessed three recent studies that better accounted for instrument biases in the historical record. The results converged at an estimate of ocean warming that was higher than the I.P.C.C. predicted and more in line with the climate models.

The researchers also reviewed a fourth study that had used a novel method to estimate ocean temperatures over time and had also found that the world’s oceans were heating faster than the I.P.C.C. prediction. But that study contained an error that caused its authors to revise their estimates downward, suggesting that ocean warming was less of a problem than they originally reported.

As it turned out, the downward revision brought that study’s estimates much closer to the new consensus. “The correction made it agree a lot better with the other new observational records,” Mr. Hausfather said. “Previously it showed significantly more warming than anyone, and that was potentially worrisome because it meant our observational estimates might be problematic. Now their best estimate is pretty much dead-on with the other three recent studies.”

The scientists who published the four studies were not trying to make their results align, Mr. Hausfather said. “The groups who were working on ocean heat observations, they’re not climate modelers,” he said. “They’re not particularly concerned with whether or not their observations agree or disagree with climate models.”

PHOTO: A dead coral reef in waters off Indonesia.CreditEthan Daniels/Stocktrek Images, via Science Source

Laure Zanna, an associate professor of climate physics at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the study, said the new research was “a very nice summary of what we know of the ocean and how far the new estimates have come together.”

Dr. Zanna was an author of a recent study that used existing data to estimate ocean temperatures dating back to 1871. The goal was to figure out places where sea level rise might happen even faster than expected because of the way ocean currents redistribute heat, allowing regions that are especially at risk to better plan for those changes.
As the oceans warm, sea levels rise because warmer water takes up more space than colder water. In fact, most of the sea level rise observed to date is because of this thermal expansion, not melting ice caps.

“We are warming the planet but the ocean is not warming evenly, so different places warm more than others,” said Dr. Zanna. “And so the first consequence will be that sea level will be different in different places depending on the warming.”

Though the new findings provide a grim forecast for the future of the oceans, Mr. Hausfather said that efforts to mitigate global warming, including the 2015 Paris climate agreement, would help. “I think there’s some reason for confidence that we’ll avoid the worst-case outcomes,” he said, “even if we’re not on track for the outcomes we want.”

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.


Kendra Pierre-Louis is a reporter on the climate team. Before joining The Times in 2017, she covered science and the environment for Popular Science. @kendrawrites 

The international BDS movement and the egregious political censorship of Angela Davis: Its ominous causes and consequences


This utterly absurd and egregiously dishonest and perverse series of absolutely false statements about exactly who Angela Davis is and what she stands for--and has always stood for in her public political life--regarding the Israeli state vis-a-vis the Palestinian people both within Israel specifically and in the Gaza and West Bank territories generally is a brazenly transparent attempt to brutally censor and bully Ms. Davis into cowed silence on these very important issues regarding human rights in Israel and Palestine and to further pretend that her openly stated positions on these crucial questions are anti-semitic and defames the Israeli people and their general society. This is nothing but an outrageous LIE and has always been a lie on the given historical evidence

NEVER has Ms. Davis taken such a reactionary and oppressive position on Israel and/or the Jewish people generally, and anyone who has paid any attention at all to her actions and statements knows and understands this.  Nor has her open support of the international BDS movement ever advocated, endorsed, supported, or defended anti-semitism, or the defamation of the Jewish people anywhere in the world in any form or context whatsoever.  Thus the ludicrous notion that she should now be denied  a much deserved public recognition of her historically courageous work on behalf of civil and human rights in her native city of Birminham, Alabama is not merely wrong or "misleading" but is absolutely morally and politically indefensible.  The late great Fred Shuttlesworth (1922-2011) one of the finest, most important and most courageous civil rights leaders in the esteemed history of the movement (and an eloquent defender of Davis during his own life and career), must be roiling like  a rotisserie in his grave at this moment. 

To say that that we must all openly protest this ugly miscarriage of justice in the cowardly denial of the civil rights award should at this very late date go without saying.  It is a measure of just how petty, stupid, phony, and manipulative the current corrupt, reactionary and fiercely rightwing forces within Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party in Israel and their many supporters throughout the world and especially here in the U.S.  have been and continue to be whenever they are confronted with any principled and nonviolent criticism of their politics and policies regarding the Palestinians and their political, economic, social, and cultural status and fate within both Israel and Palestine. 

So as far as Ms. Davis is concerned it is more important and necessary than ever that her personal, intellectual, and political integrity with respect to the BDS movement and the global struggle for the human and civil rights of ALL people generally be strongly defended and protected no matter what.  This massive struggle needless to say includes not only a crucial ongoing critique of what is wrong and why but a strong and  unambiguous protection of the specific human and civil rights and independence of both the Palestinian and Israeli people.  Dig?  Stay tuned...


Angela Davis Says She’s ‘Stunned’ After Award Is Revoked Over Her Views on Israel
by Niraj Chokshi
January 8, 2019
New York Times
The civil rights activist and scholar Angela Davis speaking at the University of Michigan-Flint in 2015. She is a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which seeks to apply economic pressure to Israel in protest of its treatment of Palestinians. CreditJake May/The Flint Journal, via Associated Press

Angela Davis, the activist and scholar, said this week that she was “stunned” after a civil rights group in her native Birmingham, Ala., reversed its decision to honor her with an award amid protests over her support for a boycott of Israel.

Professor Davis, once a global hero of the left who has since earned renown for her scholarship, had been selected for the human rights award months ago by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, but the group’s board rescinded the honor on Friday.

In announcing the move, the institute did not offer an explanation, saying only that “she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based.” But Professor Davis said in a statement on Facebook on Monday that she had learned it was because of her “long-term support of justice for Palestine.” The revocation of the award, she added, was “not primarily an attack against me but rather against the very spirit of the indivisibility of justice.”

In a statement expressing dismay at the controversy, Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham said the decision had come amid “protests from our local Jewish community and some of its allies.”

The institute did say in its statement announcing the revocation that it had begun hearing from “concerned individuals and organizations” in late December, around the time the magazine Southern Jewish Life published a piece about the award by its editor, Larry Brook.

In it, he wrote that “for some in the community, there might be some indigestion” at the now-canceled February gala where Professor Davis, who retired from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2008, was slated to be honored.

Mr. Brook noted that Professor Davis has supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, known as B.D.S., which seeks to apply economic pressure to Israel until it ends the occupation of the West Bank, treats Palestinians equally under the law and allows the return of Palestinian refugees.

Many Israelis and their allies oppose the movement, viewing it as anti-Semitic and an existential threat to the country. Supporters, including Professor Davis, describe it as a necessary response to what amounts to modern-day apartheid.

Professor Davis, who has delivered that message on college campuses and elsewhere, has also joined prominent black celebrities and thinkers in comparing the struggles of Palestinians to those of African-Americans. Among those celebrities is the actor Danny Glover, who received the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s human rights award in 2003.

Israel and its allies have defended against the boycott movement around the world, including in the United States, where polls of young people show support growing for the Palestinian cause.

In recent years, more than a dozen states have passed laws to restrict contractors from boycotting Israel. Some of the laws are being challenged as violations of First Amendment rights.

In his statement, Mayor Woodfin called on the institute and those who opposed its decision to engage in dialogue.

The institute’s reversal provided “an opportunity to engage in conversation about how we work together to resolve our differences constructively and continue to move our community forward,” he said. “I would be pleased to facilitate and participate in any such conversation, now and in the future.”

In her statement, Professor Davis said her activism often involved the linking of movements around the world to those within the United States.

“I support Palestinian political prisoners just as I support current political prisoners in the Basque Country, in Catalunya, in India, and in other parts of the world,” she said. “I have indeed expressed opposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel, as I express similar opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to other discriminatory U.S. policies.”

Professor Davis became a global progressive leader nearly half a century ago. At the time, she was agitating on behalf of three California inmates accused of murdering a white prison guard when guns she had purchased were used in an attack that was aimed at freeing the inmates but left four people dead, including the assailant.

She was not present during the attack and witnesses testified that the guns were purchased for defense, but Professor Davis nonetheless spent 16 months in jail before an all-white jury acquitted her of all charges. In the interim, “Free Angela” had become a rallying cry.

Since then, she has been recognized for her scholarship and activism around feminism and against mass incarceration. Last year, a Harvard University library acquired her personal archive.

In her statement, Professor Davis said she planned to be in Birmingham next month regardless of the institute’s decision.

“I look forward to being in Birmingham in February for an alternative event organized by those who believe that the movement for civil rights in this moment must include a robust discussion of all of the injustices that surround us,” she said.

Related Coverage:

Boycott Drive Put Israel on a Blacklist. Now Israel Has One of Its Own.
Jan. 7, 2018
Boycott Drive Put Israel on a Blacklist. Now Israel Has One of Its Own.

A New Home for Angela Davis’s Papers (and Her ‘Wanted’ Poster)
Feb. 13, 2018
A New Home for Angela Davis’s Papers (and Her ‘Wanted’ Poster)

She Wouldn’t Promise Not to Boycott Israel, So a Texas School District Stopped Paying Her
Dec. 19, 2018
She Wouldn’t Promise Not to Boycott Israel, So a Texas School District Stopped Paying Her

Shuttlesworth biographer: Fred would honor Angela Davis

The historian who wrote a definitive biography of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth said the legendary firebrand preacher would have loved the idea of controversial activist Angela Davis receiving the human rights award named in his honor. (2007 photo/AP Dave Martin) (AP/Dave )

The historian who wrote a definitive biography of the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth said the legendary firebrand preacher from Birmingham would have loved the idea of controversial activist Angela Davis, another Birmingham native, receiving the human rights award named in his honor.

“I can’t even imagine Fred Shuttlesworth hesitating for a moment to honor Angela Davis this way,” said Andrew Manis, author of “A Fire You Can’t Put Out” and professor of history at Middle Georgia State University in Macon.

“Fred was willing to work with anybody regardless of their politics,” Manis said. “If they were on the side of freedom as soon as possible and equality as soon as possible, he was on board with them.”

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute voted Jan. 4 to rescind an award to Davis, after Birmingham Jewish leaders objected to her being named recipient of the Fred Shuttlesward Award. The Feb. 16 gala at which she would have received it was canceled. An alternative event will be organized on the same day, and Davis issued a statement saying she plans to attend.

Davis, an author and retired professor, was known for a life of activism that included memberships in the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party USA.

Her activism on behalf of Palestinians, including calling for divestment and boycotts against Israel, was cited by members of Birmingham’s Jewish community as a reason to question the award and the invitation to speak in the city where she grew up.

Manis, who traveled with and researched Shuttlesworth for 12 years, said he’s not aware of Davis and Shuttlesworth speaking together or being on the same program.

“I never saw a letter or saw anything that indicated a close relationship,” Manis said.

“I’m certain she was aware of him and he was no doubt aware of her.”

Davis was born in Birmingham in 1944 and raised in a neighborhood in Smithfield that was bombed so often it was nicknamed “Dynamite Hill.”

Shuttlesworth was born in Birmingham in 1922 and from 1953-61 was pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville, which served as a headquarters for Birmingham’s civil rights activism as Shuttlesworth led the fight against legal segregation in the city’s schools, buses and public accommodations. Shuttlesworth’s church and home were bombed by the Ku Klux Klan. In 1963, although Shuttlesworth was then pastor of a church in Cincinnati, he returned to help lead civil rights marches in Birmingham with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“He was much more willing to relate and work with people who were politically radical, much more than King was, up until the last couple years of his (King’s) life,” Manis said.

The rough-edged Shuttlesworth, who died in 2011 at 89, would likely be riled up about the decision to withdraw the Shuttlesworth Award from Davis, Manis said.

“I think Fred would be cussing,” Manis said. “He often bragged about being a cussing preacher. I think he’d be cussing about this.”

During his time as a pastor in Birmingham, Shuttlesworth was brutally beaten by a mob, sprayed with city fire hoses, and arrested by police 35 times.

The defining moment for Shuttlesworth came during the 1956 Christmas night bombing that shattered the Bethel Baptist Church and crumbled the parsonage next door. He walked out of the rubble almost unscathed, yet he recalled that the mattress he was sleeping on was blown to bits.

The day after the bombing, he and his supporters were back in the front seats of city buses, defying segregation laws. He was arrested for again riding in whites-only seats in 1958. Even his children were arrested in 1960 for violating bus segregation laws.

Angela Davis stunned at BCRI decision, but still coming to Birmingham
ANGELA DAVIS…/in-caving-to-pressure-to-cancel-davis-… 

In caving to pressure to cancel Davis, BCRI insulted Shuttlesworth, stained its own legacy

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, during a march against racism in Ohio. (Cleveland Plain Dealer files)

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, during a march against racism in Ohio. (Cleveland Plain Dealer files) (David I. Andersen)

This is an opinion column.

What would Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth do?

Certainly not this.

I didn’t have the great fortune of ever meeting the fiery Birmingham preacher who was one of the most seminal figures in our city’s history, but I simply cannot imagine he would have done this.
Or condoned it.

I can’t fathom the man who challenged African Americans to register and vote, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Dr. Martin Luther King to organize and lead the critical Children’s Crusade, who stared down Bull Connor to end legal segregation in Birmingham, would have capitulated.

He would not have bowed to anyone trying to dissuade him from honoring someone who fought the same fight— even if they fought with a different fervor, even if they were decidedly more revolutionary.

As long as they fought.

And yet one of our most venerable cultural institutions, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, did just that—it crumbled, embarrassingly so, to outside pressures and rescinded its invitation to honor a widely esteemed daughter of Birmingham, activist Angela Davis, with the BCRI’s Fred R. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at its annual fund-raising gala next month. (The board, which announced its decision in the depths of darkness on Saturday evening, also said it canceled the event entirely.)

Institute cancels decision to honor Davis with Shuttlesworth Award

It caved to voices clearly uncomfortable with aspects of Davis’ widely known revolutionary past, which includes membership in the Black Panther and Communist parties and, most recently, support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) against Israel. (In Chicago in 2017, Davis, who regularly speaks at events nationwide, said she was in “solidarity with the indigenous people of this region,” referring to Palestinians.)

The loudest voices primarily—though not exclusively—came from the city’s Jewish leadership, and the decision transpired suddenly, and stunningly, in a span of just a few days.

Davis, who grew up in a home on Dynamite Hill,’ was indeed announced as the 2019 award recipient last October; it prompted nary a peep. Months later, though, on December 23rd, Larry Brooks, editor of Southern Jewish Life, based in Birmingham, published an essay titled: “Prominent BDS activist Davis to Receive Civil Rights Institute’s Shuttlesworth Award”.

In part, it read: “Something not included in the Institute's publicity for the event is that Davis has also been an outspoken voice in the boycott-Israel movement, and advocates extensively on college campuses for the isolation of the Jewish state, saying Israel engages in ethnic cleansing and is connected to police violence against African-Americans in the United States.”

“When I wrote it,” Brooks told on Sunday, “it was more to inform the community that there is a bit more to Angela Davis. I figured there might be some who would not want to attend [the gala] because of certain aspects of her activism.”

That essay may have been the spark that grew into a raging flame. “I figure there were some people who reached out to the Institute to see how it all when down,” Brooks said. “The [Birmingham] Jewish Federation was among those.”

Richard Friedman, the BJF’s executive director who, according to sources, participated in the effort to dissuade the BCRI from honoring Davis, did not return a telephone call or text message seeking comment.
BCRI not new to controversy

Theirs, though, was not the only dissenting voice in the cacophony that quickly swayed the BCRI board.

BCRI board vice chair Walter Body said it “received questions from the African-American community, the Jewish community, and the white community. It was not one just community.” (Body would also not reveal specific names)

Among the voices was General Charles Krulak the retired Marine Commander and former president of Birmingham-Southern College. In an email sent to BCRI board members in January 1, and obtained by, he expressed “sadness” at Davis’ selection.

His feelings, though—which are somewhat diffused by his charge for members to “simply look at her Wikipedia page”—were largely supported by her Communist party membership (“…she was twice a candidate for Vice President of the United States on the CPUSA ticket,” he wrote), her being placed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “10 most wanted fugitive list” (remember, this was J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI) and a reference to a 1972 case in which Davis was found not guilty of “aggravating kidnapping and first degree murder in the death of Judge Harold Haley,” he wrote.

He added: “… the fact that the guns she owned and were used in the crime was judged insufficient to establish her role in the crime.”

The 16-member board voted late last Friday afternoon during an “emergency” telephone meeting in which it, according to sources, went into executive session—meaning only voting members participated. That excluded two ex-officio board members: respected Birmingham icon Odessa Woolfolk and mayor Randall Woodfin. submitted an open-records request for the minutes of that meeting to determine the vote tally and how board members voted. As of this posting, we have not received those minutes.

Board chair Mike Oatridge has not returned an email requesting comment on the decision.

To many, across generations, Davis is a icon whose distinctive Afro and recognizable face still adorn t-shirts and posters recounting the era of black empowerment and self-worth that still inspires—and, yes, scares some.
Not surprisingly, the decision prompted a quick and vitriolic backlash, particularly on social media.

Ahmad Ward
on Sunday
*sigh*...this will be a long post so govern yourselves accordingly.

First of all, let me state that I have and will always have nothing but pure, profound love for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. I became a professional there. Met my wife there. My children spent most of their lives in those hallways. I deposited an crazy amount of blood, sweat and tears there. I have no intention of bashing them in this post. 

Angela Davis is a daughter of Birmingham. Born in the fi...  See More

Dee Reed
on Sunday
Typically—I think it’s important to make informed statements and to not get caught up in the noise that usually emanates around controversy.
However, the cancellation of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s annual gala, where global human rights activist Angela Yvonne Davis was set to receive the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth Award, lays heavy on my heart. ❤️

Therefore, silence is not an option... See More

Nadia Richardson
on Sunday
Those who know and understand her contributions and legacy will continue to celebrate her everyday  with our life’s work.

The Outcast Voters League, led by President Frank Matthews, will hold a 10:45 a.m. press conference Monday at Kelly Ingram Park to also call for release the minutes of the meeting. He says the group is “willing to protest” the Institute.

BCRI CEO Andrea Taylor did not respond to requests for comment.

Mayor Woodfin expressed “dismay” at the decision in a lengthy statement released on Sunday, saying it “harks backward, rather than forward — that portrays us as the same Birmingham we always have been, rather than the one we want to be.”

In truth, he is livid about the process.

Birmingham mayor reacts to decision to cancel Davis

Indeed, this decision merited better than being hastily made and supported with details of why Davis was deemed suddenly to “not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based.”

It merited an intentional, in-depth dialogue among all factions, all perspectives—one that just might have resulted in a compromise, perhaps a gala preceded by a smart, public and enlightened discussion about all aspects of Davis’ eclectic journey.

A discussion worthy of the Birmingham we should be.

Worthy of BRCI’s legacy as the globally renowned steward of our city’s deep, rich and vital history.
Worthy of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

In its statement, the BCRI board said: “… we believe this decision is consistent with the ideals of the award’s namesake, Rev. Shuttlesworth.”
It isn’t. Not at all.

Don’t just believe me. Here’s someone who knew Rev. Shuttlesworth, knew him well:
“Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth would be embarrassed and bewildered by such an action,” Dr. Horace Huntley, a retired professor of history at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and noted keeper of the city’s past, told “In fact, it is no secret of how much Rev. Shuttlesworth abhorred the dictatorial nature of the entrenched and out of touch status quo. He exuded courage and was an antidote to cowardliness. Such an action is less indicative of what the Board knows about Angela Davis and more instructive of what the Board fails to understand about Rev. Shuttlesworth.”
…exuded courage…and antidote to cowardliness.

That’s the Rev. Shuttlesworth those who knew him describe. Not a perfect man, but one who spoke his truth to the powers that conspired against him and the people he loved.

Just as Davis—certainly not a perfect woman—has long spoken her truth to powers on these shores and beyond for almost all of her near 75 years.


Roy S. Johnson’s column appears in The Birmingham News, the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Register and Hit me up at 

Follow me at or on Instagram at…/civil-rights-award-rescinded-from-ang…

Civil Rights Award Rescinded From Angela Davis After Jewish Community Objections

by Sherrel Wheeler Stewart