Why Does Texas Rank Last in High School Diplomas?

via Why Does Texas Rank Last in High School Diplomas? — Public Education | The Texas Tribune.

How can Texas rank last in the nation — 51st — in the percentage of adults with high school diplomas, and simultaneously rank 22nd in the percentage attending at least some college?

Last in high school diplomas (79.6%), but 22nd with some college – what’s up with that?  Texas Tribune has an interesting article that addresses some of the questions raised by the data.

Unease in Tibet Over Influx of China’s Money and Migrants

At the Potala Palace in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, images of the exiled Dalai Lama have been banned.

via Unease in Tibet Over Influx of China’s Money and Migrants – NYTimes.com.

Han Chinese workers, investors, merchants, teachers and soldiers are pouring into remote Tibet. After the violence that ravaged this region in 2008, China’s aim is to make Tibet wealthier — and more Chinese.

And its working.  Although the vast majority of the permanent residents of Tibet are Tibetan, the migrant Han Chinese are uncounted, and their numbers are growing.   They are the managers and owners of the new factories that employ the Tibetans, who are likely to be unskilled laborers.

China is also interested in the reserves of metals in Tibet, including the country’s largest chromium and cooper resources. Ethnic tension has increased along with the influx of migrants.

… a heavy security presence is needed to keep control of Lhasa. Around the Barkhor, the city’s central market, paramilitary officers in riot gear, all ethnic Han, march counterclockwise around the sacred Jokhang Temple, against the flow of Tibetan pilgrims. Armed men stand on rooftops near the temple.

After the riots of 2008 the Chinese government is taking no chances, and the people of Tibet are growing increasingly frustrated.

Tibetans interviewed independently expressed fear of the security forces and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

One high school student complained that Tibetans could not compete for jobs with Han migrants who arrived with high school diplomas. “Tibetans just get low-end jobs,” he said.

UN may strike Baikal off World Heritage list

via BBC News – UN may strike Baikal off World Heritage list.

The UN may remove the world’s deepest and oldest lake from the World Heritage list because of concerns over pollution by a Russian pulp and paper mill.

The oldest and deepest lake in the world is threatened by an old Soviet era paper mill that discharges its wastewater into the lake, which holds 1/5th of the world’s fresh water.  The waste includes dioxins, known to cause birth defects and cancer.

The mill is the only major employer in the town, so its continued existence is both a blessing and a curse.  Without it, the town will die; with it, the lake will.  The townspeople hope to develop a tourism industry, but because of the location in Siberia, very few people come to visit.

“There is no real infrastructure, no entertainment to go to after skiing. Maybe one or two foreigners show up to look at Lake Baikal and our mountains, but it’s very hard to develop full-scale tourism here,”

For now, the fishermen move farther away from the mill, where there are few fish, and the town of 16,000 continues to depend on the jobs at the plant.

Energy Crunch Time

via Thirst for Energy Drives Beijing’s Global Push – WSJ.com.

WASHINGTON—China’s emergence as the world’s most voracious energy consumer has wide implications for U.S. foreign policy as Beijing moves to sew up energy sources from the Middle East to Latin America, and strives to take a lead in advanced energy technology.

China is now the largest importer of Saudi crude oil, outpacing the US.  They have signed contracts all over the world for coal, natural gas, uranium, and more.  At the same time they are working much faster on green technologies than the US.

Is this a competition?  If it is, where does that leave the US?

Culture, Language, and the Law

From the NYT, this article on the clash between 2 groups in Belgium.

Jock Fistick for The New York Times: Mayor Christian Andries of Wemmel, visiting a day camp for children at the Flemish community center. Most here speak French, but Flemish prevails.

WEMMEL, Belgium — Most of the families living in this well-to-do community on the outskirts of Brussels are French-speaking. But the law for this region of Belgium says that all official town business must be conducted in Flemish.

How will the 2 groups resolve this issue?  Since Belgium doesn’t have a functioning government (no group can gain a majority, and hence elect a Prime Minister) there is no leadership which is willing to tackle this highly charged subject.   Adding to the divide are economic and resource issues:

Fueling the tensions is a change of economic fortune and a long grudge match between the Flemish and the French. Belgium, a relatively new country, declared its independence in 1830. At first, the country’s aristocracy spoke French and the country’s French-speaking regions — rich from iron and coal manufacturing — were often contemptuous of the largely agricultural north. During World War I, most Belgian officers were French-speaking and made little effort to translate for Flemish soldiers.

These days, however, the French part of Belgium — population about four million — is poorer, while Flanders, population about six million, has grown wealthy with a diverse economy. Many Flemish voters resent their taxes’ flowing south.

There is a small group that is beginning to advocate for the dissolution of Belgium and a Flemish homeland in the northern part of the country.  Will these 2 diverse groups be able to hold the country together?

The French and the Flemish have their own political parties, their own newspapers and their own television channels, which many experts blame for the current state of affairs.
“The political parties have nothing to gain from saying anything nice about each other,”said Yves Desmet, the political editor for a Flemish newspaper.

2 sides, each with their own TV and newspapers promoting their point of view……and the gulf between them continues to get wider and deeper with each passing election.

Notes From the Amish Dairy Underground

Want the real thing?  It’s legal in Texas, if you buy it straight from the producer.

Raw Deal: Notes From the Amish Dairy Underground | Baltimore City Paper.

“Milk is probably the most regulated food in the United States,”

“Everybody thinks you can’t drink milk raw, that it has to be pasteurized, but the only reason it’s really pasteurized is to extend the shelf life,” says Del. J.B. Jennings, a Baltimore County Republican who represents the 7th District in the Maryland House.

A Los Angeles Times reporter made it into one such (pasteurization) plant back in 2000 and describes the procedure:

    First it is separated in centrifuges into fat, protein, and various other solids and liquids. Once segregated, these are reconstituted to various levels for whole, lowfat, and no-fat milks. What is left over will go to butter, cream, cheese, dried milk, and a host of other milk products. Of the reconstituted milks, whole milk will most closely approximate original cow’s milk. When fat is removed, it is replaced with protein- and vitamin-rich skimmed milk powder or concentrate. Standardization also ensures that the milk is consistent: that one glass of any given type tastes exactly like the next.
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