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Mole's Progressive Democrat

The Progressive Democrat Newsletter grew out of the frustration of the 2004 election. Originally intended for New York City progressives, its readership is now national. For anyone who wants to be alerted by email whenever this newsletter is updated (usually weekly), please send your email address and let me know what state you live in (so I can keep track of my readership).

Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I am a research biologist in NYC. Married with two kids living in Brooklyn.

  • Help end world hunger
  • Thursday, January 20, 2011

    IOWA FOCUS: Darwin Day, Blogs, Food Co-ops, NAACP, Alternative Energy, Sustainable Agriculture, Groups and Events

    DARWIN DAY EVENTS IN IOWA: February 12th is Charles Darwin's birthday and is celebrated as International Darwin Day. Below are some of the offical Darwin Day events for 2011 (not all are on Feb. 12th itself)

    Darwin Week 2011
    Date and Time: 2011-02-07 12:00:00
    Event Website: http://www.darwinweek.com
    The 3rd annual Darwin Week will take place from February 7th-11th, 2011 at the University of Northern Iowa. Hosted by the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers, the week-long event will feature a series of presentations by faculty members from UNI as well as other invited speakers. Each day of Darwin Week will feature a theme around which the lectures will be focused, and each day will culminate with a keynote speaker. The themes include Sexuality (Monday), Religion (Tuesday), Evolution (Wednesday), and Science (Thursday). The keynote speakers for the event are Greta Christina, Dan Barker, Hector Avalos, Mark Blumberg.
    UNI Maucker Union
    1227 W 27th st
    Cedar Falls/IA 50613
    Sponsor: UNI Freethinkers & Inquirers
    Contact: Michael Dippold
    Email: Michael@unifreethought.com

    Iowa City Darwin Day Celebration
    February 11 & 12, 2011

    Friday 02/11 - 4PM: Monkey Business: Cooperation and Fairness in Primate Behavior

    Nonhuman primates are marked by well-developed prosocial and cooperative tendencies as reflected in the way they support each other in fights, hunt together, share food, and console victims of aggression. The proximate motivation behind such behaviour is not to be confused with the ultimate reasons for its evolution. Even if a behaviour is ultimately self-serving, the motivation behind it may be genuinely unselfish. A sharp distinction needs to be drawn, therefore, between 1) altruistic and cooperative behaviour with knowable benefits to the actor, which may lead actors aware of these benefits to seek them by acting cooperatively or altruistically, and 2) altruistic behaviour that offers the actor no knowable rewards. The latter is the case if return-benefits occur too unpredictably, too distantly in time, or are of an indirect nature, such as increased inclusive fitness. The second category of behaviour can be explained only by assuming an altruistic impulse, which -- as in humans -- may be born from empathy with the recipient's need, pain, or distress. Empathy, a proximate mechanism for prosocial behaviour that makes one individual share another's emotional state, is biased the way one would predict from evolutionary theories of cooperation (i.e. by kinship, social closeness, and reciprocation). There is increasing evidence in nonhuman primates (and other mammals) for this proximate mechanism as well as for the unselfish, spontaneous nature of the resulting prosocial tendencies. This lecture reviews observational and experimental evidence for the reciprocity mechanisms that underlie cooperation among non-relatives, for inequity aversion as a constraint on cooperation, and the way defection is dealt with.

    Saturday 02/12 - 10AM: Morality before Religion: Empathy, Reciprocity and Fairness in our Fellow Primates

    Homo homini lupus – “man is wolf to man” - is an old Roman proverb popularized by Thomas Hobbes. Even though it permeates large parts of law, economics, and political science, the proverb fails to do justice to our species’ thoroughly social nature as well as to canids, which are among the most gregarious and cooperative animals. For the past quarter century, this cynical view has also been promoted by an influential school of biology, followers of Thomas Henry Huxley, which holds that we are born nasty as a result of “selfish” genes. Accordingly, it is only with the greatest possible effort that we can hope to become moral beings. Charles Darwin, however, saw things differently: he believed in continuity between animal social instincts and human morality. He wrote an entire book about The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Modern psychology and neuroscience support Darwin’s view about the moral emotions. Human moral decisions often stem from “gut” reactions, some of which we share with other animals. I will elaborate on the connection between morality and primate behavior. Other primates show signs of empathy, prosocial tendencies, reciprocity, and a sense of fairness that promote a mutually satisfactory modus vivendi. I will review evidence for continuity to support the view that the building blocks of morality are older than humanity.

    For more information for bothe Iowa City events, including a map of the venue, please click here.

    Iowa Climate Change Report Released:

    This also comes from Blog for Iowa:

    The Iowa Climate Change Impacts Committee released its report to the Governor and the Iowa General Assembly this week. The Executive Summary is here (PDF) and it includes policy recommendations. Of note to Blog for Iowa is the recommendation to “designate the Iowa Department of Public Health to report annually on the consequences of changing climate on the health of Iowa citizens.” BFIA has reported our concerns about the health impacts of burning coal to generate electricity and methane emissions from concentrated animal feeding operations, and our concerns about Iowa Department of Public Health Director designate Mariannette Miller Meeks regarding the relationship between air quality and human health. BFIA will be following the report's recommendations and whether or not they will be acted upon in Des Moines. Link to the complete 33 page report here (PDF).


    Bleeding Heartland is a community blog for Democrats and progressives in the state of Iowa. I find this a very good source of Iowa news.

    Blog for Iowa is a progressive source of information in Iowa.

    Iowa Independent

    Progressive Populist: The Independent Journal from the Heartland...I think my mother alerted me to this one.

    LeftyBlogs Iowa is the place to find out what's happening in the progressive blogosphere across Iowa.

    Iowa Liberal

    Fairness Fund PAC: Fairness Fund PAC is an Iowa based political action committee committed to electing fair-minded and pro-equality candidates to state offices.


    Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization . Its half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities and monitor equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

    The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights for all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.

    Here are some local NAACP branches:

    Des Moines NAACP:

    The Des Moines Branch NAACP was founded in 1915.

    The Des Moines Branch NAACP meets every 4th Tuesday of each month 5:30 P.M. at our headquarters located in the Mickle Center, 1620 Pleasant Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50314. Contact us at 515-727-5223 or NAACPDesMoines.com.

    Ames- Chartered in 1927
    Contact: Dr. Thomas Hill, President
    (515) 294-1909

    Blackhawk County - Chartered in 1921
    Contact: Sharon A. Goodson, President
    (319) 232-7150

    Burlington– Chartered in 1921
    Contact: John S. Herring, Sr., President

    Cedar Rapids– Chartered in 1919
    Contact: Dedric L. Doolin, President
    (319) 560-0482
    Davenport (Adult) – Chartered in 1915
    Contact: Vera Kelly, President
    General Meetings
    7:00 PM - 8:00 PM the third Tuesday of each month at:
    United Neighbors, Inc.
    808 Harrison Street
    Davenport, IA 52803

    Sioux City– Chartered in 1922
    Contact: Flora Lee, President
    (712) 255-0629

    SCREENING LIBERALLY DES MOINES: A Liberal Movie Club in West Des Moines, IA
    "Reel Action Inspiring Real Action"
    * When? Friday of each month, 5:30 pm
    * Where? Chicken Coop Bar & Grill, 1960 Grand Ave
    * Hosted by Jenny Irlmeier | Jerre Collins | Atul Sahrawat

    And for those who are focused on combining fun and politics, here are the local Drinking Liberally groups in Iowa:

    Ames, Iowa
    * Every Friday, 5:00 pm onward
    * Legends American Grill, 200 Stanton Ave, 7th Floor (in Campustown)
    * The group will meet in the large accessible party room left of the elevators unless it is booked by a larger group. We will then be in the Sky Box. Ask a waiter for our location.
    * Hosted by Jan Bauer and Brent Wynja, ames (at) drinkingliberally.org

    Des Moines
    * Every Thursday, 8:00 p.m. onward
    * The Lift, 222 4th St (between Court Ave and Walnut)
    * Hosted by Amanda Mittlestadt, Tricia Kell, Cassie Samspon and Matt Jesson, desmoines (at) drinkingliberally.org

    West Des Moines
    * Third Friday of each month, 5:00-7:00 pm
    * Tonic, 5535 George M Mills Civic Pky (within West Glen Towncenter)
    * Hosted by Cassie Sampson, Mikael Brown and Jenny Irlmeier, wdsm (at) drinkingliberally.org

    Eating Liberally
    * Second Monday of each month, 6:00-7:30 pm
    * Continental Wine Bar, 428 E Locust St
    * Hosted by Marcus Walsh and Tricia Kell, desmoines (at) eatingliberally.org

    Iowa City, Iowa
    * Every Thursday, 8:00 pm onward
    * The Mill Restaurant, 120 E Burlington St


    Here is a list of local offices of the Democratic Party. Contact them and see how you can help Take Back America from right wing extremists.

    Black Hawk County
    512 Mulberry St. Waterloo, IA 50703

    Cerro Gordo County
    517 1st St. NW Mason City, IA 50401

    Clinton County
    224 22nd Pl. Suite 204 Clinton, IA 52732

    Des Moines County
    214 N 4th St. Suite 1 52601

    Dubuque County
    3250 Kennedy Circle Suite 6 Dubuque, IA 52002

    Johnson County
    36 Sturgis Corner Drive Iowa City, IA 52246

    Lee County
    1035 Avenue H Fort Madison, IA 52627

    Linn County
    1121 7th Avenue Marion, IA 52302

    Marshall County
    112 W Main, Marshalltown, IA 50158

    Muscatine County
    112 E. 2nd St Muscatine, IA 52761

    Polk County
    6100 Thornton Ave, Suite 270 Des Moines, IA 50321
    Mailing address: PO Box 35053 Des Moines, IA 50321

    Pottawattamie County
    156 W. Broadway St. Council Bluffs, IA 51503

    Poweshiek County
    829 Main St. Grinnell. IA 50112

    Scott County
    1706 N Brady St. Suite 204 Davenport, IA 52803

    Story County
    415 Clark Ave Ames, IA 50010

    Wapello County
    404 Church St. Ottumwa, IA 52501

    Warren County
    602 ½ N. Jefferson Way Indianola, IA 50125

    Webster County
    29 12th N. St Fort Dodge, A 50501

    Woodbury County
    506 Nebraska St. Sioux City, IA 51101

    Sustainable Agriculture:

    The Leopold Center is a research and education center with statewide programs to develop sustainable agricultural practices that are both profitable and conserve natural resources. It was established under the Groundwater Protection Act of 1987 with a three-fold mission:

    *to conduct research into the negative impacts of agricultural practices;
    *to assist in developing alternative practices; and
    *to work with ISU Extension to inform the public of Leopold Center findings.

    In 2002, a vision statement was adopted: The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture explores and cultivates alternatives that secure healthier people and landscapes in Iowa and the nation.

    Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization -- founded in 1943 -- that serves as an advocate for conservation professionals and for science-based conservation practice, programs, and policy. SWCS has over 5,000 members around the world. They include researchers, administrators, planners, policymakers, technical advisors, teachers, students, farmers, and ranchers. Our members come from nearly every academic discipline and many different public, private, and nonprofit institutions


    It took nearly 7 years living within a few blocks of one of the biggest food co-ops in America before Joy and I joined it. We were definitely reluctant. But, in the end the lack of good produce and the decline of our local supermarkets led to us joining. And the result is a slighly more inconvenient shopping trip each week, but much healthier, higher quality and cheaper food. I recommend joining a co-op if there is one nearby. You will save money and eat healthier. So I will list some local food co-ops in Iowa:

    Wheatsfield Cooperative Grocery
    413 Douglas Avenue
    Ames, Iowa 50010
    Phone: (515) 232-4094
    FAX: (515) 233-0040

    Our mission is to serve our members, employees, and the Central Iowa community by offering the highest quality local, natural and certified organic foods, related products and services in ways that best promote the health of the individual, the community, and the earth while honoring the cooperative tradition.

    New Pioneer Bakehouse and New Pioneer Co-op
    498 1st Avenue
    Coralville, Iowa 52241
    Phone: (319) 358-5513
    FAX: (319) 358-5514

    22 South Van Buren Street
    Iowa City, Iowa 52240
    Phone: (319) 338-9441
    FAX: (319) 338-0635

    New Pioneer is a member-owned grocery specializing in natural foods, local foods, and other healthy products for your active lifestyle. Come to the Co-op to hang out with your friends and get to know your neighbors, to learn more about your food from our friendly, expert staff, and to pick up hard-to-find gourmet items.

    Explore New Pi to find the area’s best locally-grown produce, artisanal cheeses and breads, hand-selected wines, and mouthwatering cakes and pastries, just for starters. Everyone is welcome to shop the Co-op and become a part of our shared vision of a cleaner, healthier world. Eat smart and have fun doing it when you shop your Co-op!

    They have an extensive list of classes events as well.

    Alternative Energy:

    Some figures from Repower America:

    # Iowa surpassed California in 2008 to become the No.2 state for wind power with its 2,790-megawatts of wind power generation. Combined, these wind developments produce enough electricity to power over 720,000 average homes!

    # The state's energy efficiency programs save enough electricity to power over 30,000 homes for a whole year, save more than $30 million in energy costs, and prevent the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking over 47,000 cars off the road. Although great progress, the state still has much more potential to increase its energy efficiency.

    # Iowa has one of the fastest growing wind industries, up 198% from the state's mere 936-megawatts in 2006.

    Alternative energy and YOUR energy bill: YOU can be part of the solution for America by signing up to purchase your energy through a Green Power Provider. My wife and I have been doing this in NYC for years. All our energy usage is provided through wind energy generation on American farms. So we use clean energy AND help American farmers. It costs us three cents per kilowatt-hour more per month, but we feel great about it. Although our actual energy may come from anywhere, we are paying to purchase wind energy for the energy grid. Each state has different programs available, usually through yuor existing energy provider right on your existing energy bill. To find such options in Iowa, go here and pick your energy provider from the list. If you need help, you can email me and tell me who you get your bill from (don't give me any other info!) and I can tell you who to contact to go green through that energy provider. Or you can do the same thing using Renewable Energy Certificates through an organization that works with utility companies, though in this case it is a separate bill. One off the cheapest (.4-1 cent per kilowatt-hour), but still e-Green certified, ways to do this is through Good Energy. Or, for about half a cent per kilowatt-hour you can purchase renewable energy certificates through Carbonfund.org. ANY of these ways you do it, you are helping the environment, helping America, and helping cut carbon emissions.



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