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This blog roots for Barack Obama! October 11, 2008

Posted by dorigo in news, personal, politics.
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In case you had not realized it yet, the US presidential campaign is red-hot. And in case you haven’t noticed, Sen. Obama seems to be leading. Now, offhand I have to say that despite my sympathies with one or the other candidate, I have grown a bit disillusioned about the fact that somebody who reaches that seat be capable of changing any of the deformities of the american society.

To become a President of the United States, you have been a Senator, a Governor, a politician for a long time; you have probably grown accustomed to cohabit with those deformities; maybe you do not notice them any more, or maybe you justify them, or even look at them as virtues by now, and that goes regardless of whether you’re a republican or a democrat.

But with Obama it is different. Not only for what he is: despite his good record, and his nice speeches, I am unable to really understand whether he is different or not, and whether he will be able to put repair to the deficiencies of the american society; but for what he represents. He represents a real change in the way the United States declare to think about themselves, and the way they present themselves to the rest of the world; he represents a strong statement that America is ready for a step forward.

I do not think the United States can lecture anybody about integration and tolerance to different races and cultures, despite the multi-racial nature of their society: conflicts and inequalities are still too strong at home. But I do think that Europe does need such a clear message as the election of an afro-american US president -and one with a father born in Africa!-, at a time when immigration is causing strong imbalances, and when center-right governments increasingly leverage on their citizens’ innate fear of the stranger to strengthen their power and create a classist society. All countries in the world need such a message. The US themselves need the message they are self-delivering with Obama as president.

Of course, a new face in the oval office cannot clean the slate of two centuries of foreign politics based on oppression and imperialism by itself. But the face of a democrat from a ethnic minority may be the right one, the credible one with which to take on some of the world’s problems. World economy, famine, the palestinian question, the dialogue with arab countries, the fight to terrorism. A more democratic approach to global issues.

That, at least, is what I hope. And that is why this blog roots for Obama.

US science supporters: your action is needed NOW September 25, 2008

Posted by dorigo in news, physics, politics, science.
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I receive a message being forwarded to APS members, and pass it on to you, in case you are willing to contribute to a just cause with an email to your Senator of choice:

I am writing to request that you IMMEDIATELY contact your elected representatives and let them know that the proposed Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2009 would be extremely damaging to basic research.  You can make this contact quickly and easily at this link.

There, you will find pre-written messages to your Senators and Representatives. You may send these letters as they are, modify them, or write your own.  While individualizing your letter is not essential, please at least make minor edits to the subject line and the first line of the text of each email so that these emails are more individualized.  (See webpage pointers below for further instruction.)

Congress has not passed any FY 2009 appropriations bills and is now finalizing a Continuing Resolution (CR) that will keep the government operating when the new fiscal year begins on October 1, 2008.  The House is expected to consider the bill on Thursday or Friday of this week.  The CR, according to the latest information, will remain in effect until March 6, 2009 and would keep all federal programs operating at FY 2008 levels, except those granted waivers.  At this time, science is not on the waiver list, and the proposed bill would not include any of the science increases contained in the Supplemental Appropriations bill Congress passed earlier this year. Unless science receives a waiver, the impact will be extraordinarily damaging.


  • Department of Energy user facilities would be forced to cut back operations substantially;
  • A new round of layoffs at the national laboratories could occur;
  • The number of university grants would be cut, with new, young investigators especially harmed; and
  • The U.S. would be forced to cut to near zero its planned contributions to the global fusion energy project, ITER, damaging the nation’s ability to participate in future international scientific collaborations.

The attached letter would request that Congress include the funding increases approved by Congress earlier this year in the FY08 Supplemental Appropriations bill for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and to allow the DOE to use the $124 million in FY 08 Office of Science earmarks for programmatic purposes.

(1) While individualizing your letter is not essential, we ask that you make minor edits to the subject line and the first line of the text of each email.

(2) If you are a government employee, please do not use government resources to send a communication.

(3) Your browser will take you to a page where you will enter your name and address.

(4) After entering your address, click the .Edit/Send Email button.. A window with an individual email message to the four offices will appear. Click .Send Emails. to transmit the communication.

(5) Electronic submission is preferred.

(6) For further help, write to opa@aps.org.

Arthur Bienenstock, president, the American Physical Society