About Reliance on Fossil Fuel – You can’t hit 400 ppm CO2 and still think “all of the above” is a rational energy strategy. Where is the leadership? It is feared that Climate Inaction could be a real Obama Administration Scandal.
A lot has happened in the last week. The Earth hit the 400 parts per million CO2 threshold for the first time in human history. Scientists tell us this is bad news if we want to prevent runaway climate change. “If we continue to burn fossil fuels at accelerating rates, if we continue with business as usual, we will cross the 450 parts per million limit in a matter of maybe a couple decades,” scientist Michael Mann told Democracy Now! “We believe that with that amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, we commit to what can truly be described as dangerous and irreversible changes in our climate.”
May 17, 2013 | from Tara Lohan on AlterNet
If you didn’t know this already, we should be listening to Mann and to other scientists. I thought this was settled a long time ago, but someone keeps giving print space to climate deniers, so a new survey of 12,000 peer-reviewed studies on the climate was just completed and the not-so-shocking conclusion was this, as Mother Nature Network reports:
In light of this news, it makes it even more infuriating to see that the Obama administration has spent the week prostrating to the fossil fuel lobby. Here are four disturbing things the administration’s been up to.
1. Moniz Hearts Fracking
Obama tapped nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz to head the Energy Department and the Senate gave a big thumbs-up to Moniz on Thursday. Many environmental groups had concerns that Moniz was too pro-fracking, and those concerns are clearly warranted. Moniz’s first order of business Friday was to clear the way for 20 years of liquified natural gas exports via Freeport LNG Terminal on Quintana Island, Texas.
Of course, we’ve already been sold the story that we’re suposed to frack the crap out of the country in the name of energy security, but we knew all along it was for industry profit, right? Brad Jacobson recently detailed for AlterNet about how Congress members are clamoring for export plans to be fast-tracked — although what Americans will get out of the deal
2. Thanks for Nothing, Sally
While the nomination of Moniz disappointed many environmentalists, some were cheered by REI exec Sally Jewell taking over the Interior Department. Those same folks might not be cheering after Jewell announced the Bureau of Land Management’s newest regulations (or lack thereof) for fracking on our public lands.
As Sierra Club’s Michael Brune reported Friday:
3. No Time for Farmers
The group Bold Nebraska reported this week that Obama turned down an invitation to hear from Nebraska farmers and ranchers about their concerns that the Keystone XL pipeline could destroy their livelihoods. Of course, the President is a busy guy, right? And besides, the White House said he was not “taking any meetings on the pipeline.”
Or is he? The group writes:
4. Who Needs the Arctic? (Hint: We Do)
Subhankar Banerjee, a photographer and longtime Arctic activist, was recently appalled by a new report from the Obama administration on the future of the Arctic. And the rest of us should be, too. Banerjee writes about the report:
We know that Obama talks a good talk about climate protection, but his second term has proven thus far that he’s completely out of touch with reality. You can’t hit 400 ppm CO2 and still think “all of the above” is a rationale energy strategy.
Bristol Bay, Alaska, could provide the US with $215 Billion worth of fishery products or $7.7 Billion in oil and gas over the next 40 years says WWF about the insanity of allowing the threat to that region’s wildlife go on.
Protecting “America’s Fish Basket.”
Officially known as Bristol Bay, this area in Alaska–the epicenter of half of the U.S. production of seafood–is a target for oil and gas development.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is working to stop the industrial development so that the bay’s wildlife, including 15 species of whale and one of the world’s largest concentrations of seabirds, can thrive. For many Native Americans living in Alaska, the bay’s fish, wildlife and plants are a significant part of their culture and a primary source of sustenance.
It is estimated that the bay’s fishery could generate almost $215 billion over 40 years–far more than the federal government’s estimate of $7.7 billion in oil and gas revenue from the region that could be generated during the same time period.
If the Arctic Seas lose their ice cover the leaders of the world will express complete Joy. Conventional Economists Will See In Destrction the Potential for Growth with the Arctic Providing Resources for this Re-Birth.
The broad, open ocean of the brand new North Coast has lots of governments and companies already planning for the economic and strategic possibilities.
Read more. ————————–
The Effort to set back US Democracy continues: The US Supreme Court loaded with Conservative Republican Judges may now gut the the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which has been crucial in combating efforts to disenfranchise minority voters and helped in the Obama election.
Justices to Revisit Voting Act in View of a Changing South
By ADAM LIPTAK
The New York Times – Published: November 9, 2012
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would take a fresh look at the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the signature legacies of the civil rights movement.
Related in Opinion - Editorial: A Supreme Test on the Right to Vote (November 10, 2012)
Three years ago, the court signaled that part of the law may no longer be needed, and the law’s challengers said the re-election of the nation’s first black president is proof that the nation has moved beyond the racial divisions that gave rise to efforts to protect the integrity of elections in the South.
The law “is stuck in a Jim Crow-era time warp,” said Edward P. Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, a small legal foundation that helped organize the suit.
“In the midst of the recent assault on voter access, the Voting Rights Act is playing a pivotal role beating back discriminatory voting measures,” said Debo P. Adegbile, the acting president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the law, expected by June, could reshape how elections are conducted.
The case concerns Section 5 of the law, which requires many state and local governments, mostly in the South, to obtain permission, or “preclearance,” from the Justice Department or a federal court before making changes that affect voting. Critics of the law call the preclearance requirement a unique federal intrusion on state sovereignty and a badge of shame for the affected jurisdictions that is no longer justified.
The preclearance requirement, originally set to expire in five years, was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1966 as a rational response to the often flagrantly lawless conduct of some Southern officials then.
Congress has repeatedly extended the requirement: for 5 years in 1970, 7 years in 1975, and 25 years in 1982. Congress renewed the act in 2006 after holding extensive hearings on the persistence of racial discrimination at the polls, again extending the preclearance requirement for 25 years.
But it made no changes to the list of jurisdictions covered by Section 5, relying instead on a formula based on historical practices and voting data from elections held decades ago. It applies to nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states.
Should the court rule that Congress was not entitled to rely on outdated data to decide which jurisdictions should be covered, lawmakers could in theory go back to the drawing board and re-enact the law using fresher information. In practice, given the political realities, a decision striking down the coverage formula would probably amount to the end of Section 5.
In May, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a challenge to the law filed by Shelby County, Ala. Judge David S. Tatel, writing for the majority, acknowledged that “the extraordinary federalism costs imposed by Section 5 raise substantial constitutional concerns,” and he added that the record compiled by Congress to justify the law’s renewal was “by no means unambiguous.”
“But Congress drew reasonable conclusions from the extensive evidence it gathered,” he went on. The constitutional amendments ratified after the Civil War, he said, “entrust Congress with ensuring that the right to vote — surely among the most important guarantees of political liberty in the Constitution — is not abridged on account of race. In this context, we owe much deference to the considered judgment of the people’s elected representatives.”
The dissenting member of the panel, Judge Stephen F. Williams, surveyed recent evidence concerning registration and turnout, the election of black officials, the use of federal election observers and suits under another part of the law.
Some of that evidence, he said, “suggests that the coverage formula completely lacks any rational connection to current levels of voter discrimination,” while other evidence indicates that the formula, “though not completely perverse, is a remarkably bad fit with Congress’s concerns.”
“Given the drastic remedy imposed on covered jurisdictions by Section 5,” he wrote, “I do not believe that such equivocal evidence can sustain the scheme.”
The Supreme Court has already once considered the constitutionality of the 2006 extension of the law in a 2009 decision, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder. But it avoided answering the central question, and it seemed to give Congress an opportunity to make adjustments. Congress did not respond.
At the argument of the 2009 case, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy questioned whether the distinctions drawn in the 2006 law reflect contemporary realities.
“Congress has made a finding that the sovereignty of Georgia is less than the sovereign dignity of Ohio,” Justice Kennedy said. “The sovereignty of Alabama is less than the sovereign dignity of Michigan. And the governments in one are to be trusted less than the governments in the other.”
“No one questions the validity, the urgency, the essentiality of the Voting Rights Act,” he added. “The question is whether or not it should be continued with this differentiation between the states. And that is for Congress to show.”
In the end, the court, in an 8-to-1 decision, ducked the central question and ruled instead on a narrow statutory ground, saying the utility district in Austin, Tex., that had challenged the constitutionality of the law might be eligible to “bail out” from being covered by it. Still, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, was skeptical about the continued need for Section 5.
“The historic accomplishments of the Voting Rights Act are undeniable,” he wrote. But “things have changed in the South.
“Voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity,” he wrote. “Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.
“The statute’s coverage formula is based on data that is now more than 35 years old,” he added,“and there is considerable evidence that it fails to account for current political conditions.”
Having said all of that, and acknowledging that the court’s alternative ruling had stretched the text of the statute, Chief Justice Roberts said the court should avoid deciding hard constitutional questions when it could. “Whether conditions continue to justify such legislation is a difficult constitutional question we do not answer today,” he wrote.
On Friday, in agreeing to hear the case, Shelby County v. Holder, No. 12-96, the court indicated that it is prepared to provide an answer to the question it left open three years ago.
The New York Times Editorial
A Supreme Test on the Right to Vote
Published: November 9, 2012
The Supreme Court decided on Friday to review Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which has been crucial in combating efforts to disenfranchise minority voters. The justices should uphold the validity of the section, which requires nine states and parts of several others with deep histories of racial discrimination to get permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes to their voting rules.
The case, Shelby County v. Holder, was brought by an Alabama county, which contends that Section 5 intrudes unconstitutionally on the sovereign authority of states and that federal review of proposed voting changes, once needed to end legal segregation, is no longer required.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Just this year, Republican efforts to block the votes of minorities and the poor — which were rejected again and again by federal judges relying on the Voting Rights Act, including Section 5 — have made that utterly clear.
Judge John Bates of Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, rejected Shelby County’s challenge last year, noting that Congress, in renewing the section in 2006, found that “40 years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination.”
In May, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld his ruling, saying that discrimination in voting is “one of the gravest evils that Congress can seek to redress” and that Congress’s painstaking research in its renewal of Section 5 (22 hearings and 15,000 pages of evidence) “deserves judicial deference.”
In another voting rights case in 2009, the Supreme Court said there were “serious constitutional questions” about whether Section 5 meets a current need. That comment left some legal experts with the impression that the court came close to striking down the provision. But the justices did not do so in that case, and they have even less reason to in this case. Overt discrimination clearly persists and remains pernicious in places like Shelby County.
Ending Its Summer Melt, Arctic Sea Ice Sets a New Low That Leads to Warnings.
Published by The New York Times on September 19, 2012
The drastic melting of Arctic sea ice has finally ended for the year, scientists announced Wednesday, but not before demolishing the previous record — and setting off new warnings about the rapid pace of change in the region.
A blog about energy and the environment.
A NASA image shows how the record-low Arctic sea ice extent compares with the average minimum extent over the past 30 years, in yellow.
The apparent low point for 2012 was reached Sunday, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which said that sea ice that day covered about 1.32 million square miles, or 24 percent, of the surface of the Arctic Ocean. The previous low, set in 2007, was 29 percent.
When satellite tracking began in the late 1970s, sea ice at its lowest point in the summer typically covered about half the Arctic Ocean, but it has been declining in fits and starts over the decades.
“The Arctic is the earth’s air-conditioner,” said Walt Meier, a research scientist at the snow and ice center, an agency sponsored by the government. “We’re losing that. It’s not just that polar bears might go extinct, or that native communities might have to adapt, which we’re already seeing — there are larger climate effects.”
His agency waited a few days before announcing the low to be sure sea ice had started to refreeze, as it usually does at this time of year, when winter closes in rapidly in the high Arctic. A shell of ice will cover much of the Arctic Ocean in coming months, but it is likely to be thin and prone to melting when summer returns.
Scientists consider the rapid warming of the region to be a consequence of the human release of greenhouse gases, and they see the melting as an early warning of big changes to come in the rest of the world.
Some of them also think the collapse of Arctic sea ice has already started to alter atmospheric patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, contributing to greater extremes of weather in the United States and other countries, but that case is not considered proven.
The sea ice is declining much faster than had been predicted in the last big United Nations report on the state of the climate, published in 2007. The most sophisticated computer analyses for that report suggested that the ice would not disappear before the middle of this century, if then.
Now, some scientists think the Arctic Ocean could be largely free of summer ice as soon as 2020. But governments have not responded to the change with any greater urgency about limiting greenhouse emissions. To the contrary, their main response has been to plan for exploitation of newly accessible minerals in the Arctic, including drilling for more oil.
Scientists said Wednesday that the Arctic has become a prime example of the built-in conservatism of their climate forecasts. As dire as their warnings about the long-term consequences of heat-trapping emissions have been, many of them fear they may still be underestimating the speed and severity of the impending changes.
In a panel discussion on Wednesday in New York sponsored by Greenpeace, the environmental group, James E. Hansen, a prominent NASA climate scientist, said the Arctic melting should serve as a warning to the public of the risks that society is running by failing to limit emissions.
“The scientific community realizes that we have a planetary emergency,” Dr. Hansen said. “It’s hard for the public to recognize this because they stick their head out the window and don’t see that much going on.”
A prime concern is the potential for a large rise in the level of the world’s oceans. The decline of Arctic sea ice does not contribute directly to that problem, since the ice is already floating and therefore displacing its weight in water.
But the disappearance of summer ice cover replaces a white, reflective surface with a much darker ocean surface, allowing the region to trap more of the sun’s heat, which in turn melts more ice. The extra heat in the ocean appears to be contributing to an accelerating melt of the nearby Greenland ice sheet, which does contribute to the rise in sea level.
At one point this summer, surface melt was occurring across 97 percent of the Greenland ice sheet, a development not seen before in the era of satellite measurements, although geological research suggests that it has happened in the past.
The sea is now rising at a rate of about a foot per century, but scientists like Dr. Hansen expect this rate to increase as the planet warms, putting coastal settlements at risk.
A scientist at the snow and ice center, Julienne C. Stroeve, took a ride on a Greenpeace ship recently to inspect the Arctic Ocean for herself. Interviewed this week after pulling into port at the island of Spitsbergen, she said one of her goals had been to debark on ice floes and measure them, but that it had been difficult to find any large enough to support her weight.
Ice floes were numerous in spots, she said, but “when we got further into the ice pack, there were just large expanses of open water.”
A version of this article appeared in print on September 20, 2012, on page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: Ending Its Summer Melt, Arctic Sea Ice Sets a New Low That Leads to Warnings.
“Snow Dragon” (Xuelong) – an icebreaker – is the first Chinese ship to cross the Arctic Ocean – through the Bering Strait to Iceland. Helped by Climate Change the Chinese want part of this future trade route and the oil & gas resources.
First Chinese ship crosses Arctic Ocean amid record melt.
An icebreaker has become the first ship from China to cross the Arctic Ocean, underscoring Beijing’s growing interest in a remote region where a record thaw caused by climate change may open new trade routes.
The voyage highlights how China, the world’s no.2 economy, is extending its reach to the Arctic which is rich in oil and gas and is a potential commercial shipping route between the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
The icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, arrived in Iceland this week after sailing the Northern Route along the coast of Russia.
Expedition leader Huigen Yang, head of the Polar Research Institute of China, said he had expected a lot more ice along the route at this time of year than the vessel encountered.
“To our astonishment … most part of the Northern Sea Route is open,” he told Reuters TV. The icebreaker would return to China by a route closer to the North Pole.
He said that Beijing was interested in the “monumental change” in the polar environment caused by global warming.
Sea ice floating on the Arctic Ocean is on track to beat a record low set in 2007, making the region more accessible but threatening the hunting lifestyles of indigenous peoples and wildlife such as polar bears and seals.
The thaw is slowly opening up the Arctic as a short-cut route – the German-based Beluga Group, for instance, sent a cargo vessel north from Korea to Rotterdam in 2009.
“The (Chinese) journey indicates a growing interest in the melting of the ice in the northern regions and how climate change is affecting the globe and the future of all nations,” the office of Icelandic President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson said.
Arctic sea ice extent on August 13 fell to 5.09 million square km (1.97 million square miles) – an area smaller than Brazil, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Sea ice reaches its smallest in September before expanding again as winter approaches. China has overtaken the United States as the top greenhouse gas emitter, mainly from burning fossil fuels, ahead of the European Union, India and Russia.
“China’s interest is a mix of business, science and geo-politics,” said Jan Gunnar Winther, director of the Norwegian Polar Institute.
For countries outside the region like China, there may be more opportunities to supply equipment to aid drilling, he said. South Korea’s Hyundai, for instance, is building a floating production unit for the Goliat oilfield in Norway’s Barents Sea.
Winther said that research into climate change in the Arctic was also relevant to China’s understanding of weather patterns that could affect its farmers.
China has applied to become an observer at the Arctic Council, made up of the United States, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.
“The application will be handled in May next year,” said Nina Buvang Vaaja, head of the Arctic Council Secretariat.
Other applicants seeking to join the Council, which oversees management of the region, are Japan, South Korea, the European Union Commission and Italy. Germany, Britain, France, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands are already observers.
Date: 18-Aug-2012 - Reporting By Alister Doyle – Reuters.
the second Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24–27, 2012, in Anchorage and Girdwood, Alaska – SOME SEE THE CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE ARCTIC AS A CHALLENGE OF OPPORTUNITIES – THE REALISTS VERSUS OUR COMMON CRY – THIS IS A FOUL GAME!
We smell in this article Arctic Rat – and NOT of the Rodent kind. The story is about opening up the ice for the shipment of oil during the colder season of the year: it is about State subsidy of Big Oil being handed profits from climate change in the Arctic by producing and moving oil in places where people used to live in harmony with the environment.
A Russian tanker is slogging through sea ice behind a Coast Guard icebreaker, trying to bring 1.3 million gallons of emergency gasoline and diesel to remote Alaska.
A New Race of Mercy to Nome, This Time Without Sled Dogs.
By WILLIAM YARDLEY
Restore America’s Estuaries
Call for Proposals – Dedicated Sessions, Presentations, and Posters
In Spanish at estuaries.org/images/Spanish_CFP_12-8-11.pdf
Submit your proposal for the 6th National Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration at program.estuaries.org.
The Conference will be a dynamic and exciting opportunity for you to share your successes and lessons learned in all realms of coastal habitat restoration, and learn from others. A major focus of the Conference is the intersection between healthy coastal ecosystems and climate change – impacts, adaptation, and mitigation.
Additional topics for consideration include:
October 7, 2011, Atonement Day Eve – The Main Press Starts To See The High Relevance To The Future Of A Wall Street Shake Up By The 99% SILENT Public – Albeit still on the OP-ED or “ROOM for DEBATE” Pages. On the Internet talk is already about Washington D.C.
October 7, 2011, Atonement Day Eve – The 99% SILENT Public – Albeit still on the OP-ED or “ROOM for DEBATE” Pages.
ROOM FOR DEBATE
The protesters are getting more attention and expanding outside New York. What are they doing right, and what are they missing?
New York Times OP-ED COLUMNIST
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.
Watching Washington the HOME NEWS are:
“To allay the concerns of Senate Democrats, Mr. Obama said that he could support their proposal to pay for the jobs plan by imposing a 5.6 percent surtax on individual taxpayers’ income above $1 million. A number of Senate Democrats had objected to Mr. Obama’s proposals to offset the cost of his plan by limiting tax deductions, including for charitable contributions, that could be taken by individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000. And oil-state Democrats opposed his plans to increase oil companies’ taxes.
Even as Mr. Obama took reporters’ questions, Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, rebuked him for his more confrontational tack. “Nothing has disappointed me more than what’s happened over the last five weeks, to watch the president of the United States give up on governing, give up on leading and spend full-time campaigning,” Mr. Boehner said during a public forum in Washington.
Mr. Obama, when asked by a reporter whether he should be talking to Congressional Republicans rather than traveling the country like a presidential candidate, responded that he had tried repeatedly to compromise with Republicans. His efforts, he said, were “sometimes to my own political peril and to the frustration of Democrats,” and Republicans rebuffed him even when he offered ideas, like business tax cuts, that Republicans had proposed in the past.”
“What I’ve done over the last several weeks is to take the case to the American people so that they understand what’s at stake,” he said. “It is now up to all the senators, and hopefully all the members of the House, to explain to their constituencies why they would be opposed to common-sense ideas that historically have been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past,” Mr. Obama said.
THAT IS STILL THE NORM OF HOME PAGES NEWS REPORTING — AS GOOD AS IT GETS -—
Making Case for Jobs Bill, Obama Cites Europe’s Woes.
NOW THIS! From - www.alternet.org New York spread Liberty to Washington DC:
Protesters began their occupation of Freedom Plaza, WASHINGTON D.C., on October 6 — and they plan on staying as long as it takes.
The Occupy Freedom Plaza protest in Washington DC kicked off on Thursday, October 6. The protesters were a diverse crowd; young and old, men and women, the jobless and the employed, all in solidarity with one another and those occupying cities across the country in protest of the corporate greed that has destroyed the lives of so many Americans.
Cancer survivor Carrie Stone said that over the course of nine days, she traveled from Wallace, West Virginia to Washington, DC by foot. The 56-year-old grandmother plans to stay in DC indefinitely, saying, “If I can do it, anyone can.”
Nominations open to May 1st 2011 for the “Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica.” The Scott Polar Research Institute Joins the effort of the New York Explorers Club in this well funded post International Polar Year 2007-2008 attention grabber for the Antarctica.
Nominations open for the 2011 Martha T. Muse Prize – Last date 1st May 2011.
The “Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica” is a US$ 100,000 unrestricted award presented to an individual in the fields of Antarctic science or policy that has demonstrated potential for sustained and significant contributions that will enhance the understanding and/or preservation of Antarctica. The Tinker Foundation’s goal is to establish a prestigious award that recognizes excellence in Antarctic research by honoring someone in the early to mid-stages of their career. The Prize is inspired by Martha T. Muse’s passion for Antarctica and is intended to be a legacy of the International Polar Year 2007-2008.
The prize-winner can be from any country and work in ANY field of Antarctic science or policy, including Climate change, Life Sciences, Geo Sciences, Physical Sciences, Antarctic Politics. The goal is to provide recognition of the important work being done by the individual and to call attention to the significance of understanding Antarctica in a time of change. The Prize is awarded by the Tinker Foundation and administered by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).
Please visit www.museprize.org for further details. Online nominations will close on the May 1st, 2011.
The original posting said:
The Tinker Foundation’s goal is to establish a prestigious award that recognizes excellence in Antarctic research by honoring someone in the early to mid-stages of their career.
The Prize is inspired by Martha T. Muse’s passion for Antarctica and is intended to be a legacy of the activities following the International Polar Year 2007-2008. Martha T. Muse is active with the New York Explorers Club and besides the normal interest of the Club in feats of heroism by exploration of nature, Martha tried to lead the Club also in a direction of review of the human impact on nature, and we wrote about her in our past articles - this including the effects of human induced climate change.
The prize-winner can be from any country and work in ANY field of Antarctic science or policy, including Climate change, Life Sciences including biodiversity and its management, Geo Sciences, Physical Sciences, Antarctic Politics. The goal is to provide recognition of the important work being done by the individual and to call attention to the significance of understanding Antarctica in a time of change. The Prize is awarded by the Tinker Foundation and administered by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).
Please visit www.museprize.org for further details. Online nominations will close on the May 1st, 2011.
WASHINGTON—Saying the nation must face the “grave realities” of its mounting debt, President Barack Obama unveiled a deficit-reduction plan Wednesday that included far-reaching spending cuts, pulling off a daring robbery of the heavily fortified Fort Knox bullion deposi-tory, and repealing Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy.
In a televised address, Obama outlined his proposal to eliminate $4 trillion from the federal deficit over the next 12 years, and expressed his vision for a future in which the government was leaner, more efficient, and had billions and billions of dollars worth of stolen gold stashed in D.C.-area safe-deposit boxes.
“We cannot continue to live beyond our means,” the president said. “Unless we want to cripple our grandchildren with this debt burden, we must act now by eliminating tax loopholes and pulling off what all Americans—Republicans and Democrats alike—can agree is the greatest heist of all time.”
“It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road to future generations,” Obama added. “We must empty that vault and ensure our country’s full economic recovery.”
According to a fact sheet issued by the White House, the proposed measures include slashing farm subsidies, cutting federal pension insurance, tricking Fort Knox security personnel into thinking that the president and five others are ordinary elevator repairmen, capping Medicaid’s outlays on equipment, shaping C4 charges to blast 21-inch-thick vault doors off their hinges, and curbing discretionary spending.
In spite of the admittedly “formidable” challenges that his plan faced, Obama insisted that “the time for action is now,” noting that last week the price of gold rose above $1,500 an ounce for the first time ever.
“Reining in the runaway growth of entitlement programs and the defense budget will not be easy,” Obama said. “And neither will silently ferrying 5,000 tons of bullion through a network of ventilation ducts. But just trust me on this; I’ve got the blueprints and I think I found a way out through a drainage pipe.”
According to Obama’s senior adviser David Plouffe, the president’s plan will assure the nation’s long-term solvency while also producing immediate tangible benefits, including, but not limited to, a gigantic pile of gold.
“The president looked at every conceivable option,” said Plouffe, who is expected to externally coordinate the six-man Fort Knox team from a van outfitted with multiple video screens. “He considered trimming the federal workforce, scaling back welfare payments, taking out a $4 trillion fire insurance policy on the Pentagon and burning it to the ground, even raising the retirement age—everything was on the table.”
“Ultimately, the president selected measures that will have a minimal impact on the middle class,” Plouffe continued. “Indeed, his plan places an added burden only on those who either earn more than $250,000 annually or house 368,000 bars of pure gold. Most Americans won’t be affected at all.”
Republican leaders were quick to unleash a barrage of criticism, blasting the administration’s proposal for its “unacceptable” reliance on tax increases and grand larceny, and accusing Obama of offering few concrete details in his speech.
“The president conveniently avoided any specifics on his Medicare Independent Payment Advisory Board and his getaway plan,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said. “And his speech contained not one mention of those laser-beam motion detectors that you can’t even see unless you have an aerosol spray that makes them visible. What about those, Mr. President?”
In a party-line vote earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed Rep. Ryan’s rival plan, which includes across-the-board tax cuts, tunneling under the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, sending an electrical surge through its security system, and stealing the engraving plates so that “we can print off as much money as we want.”
NEWS IN PHOTO:
The Onion – April 27, 2011
Trump Unable To Produce Certificate Proving He’s Not A Festering Pile Of Shit. He sent investigators to Hawaii to search if President Obama was born there – and this was not an Onion invention!
The SustainabiliTank comment:
THE REAL EMBARRASSMENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS IN THE FACT THAT THE TEA PARTY REPUBLICANS PUSH AWAY THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS FROM DEALING WITH THE REAL PROBLEMS BY FABRICATING ISSUES LIKE THE BIRTHING OF THE PRESIDENT!
April 27, 2011, THE NEW YORK TIMES Opinion Pages
A Certificate of Embarrassment
With sardonic resignation, President Obama, an eminently rational man, stared directly into political irrationality on Wednesday and released his birth certificate to history. More than halfway through his term, the president felt obliged to prove that he was a legitimate occupant of the Oval Office. It was a profoundly low and debasing moment in American political life.
The disbelief fairly dripped from Mr. Obama as he stood at the West Wing lectern. People are out of work, American soldiers are dying overseas and here were cameras to record him stating that he was born in a Hawaii hospital. It was particularly galling to us that it was in answer to a baseless attack with heavy racial undertones.
Mr. Obama practically begged the public to set aside these distractions, expressing hope that his gesture would end the “silliness” and allow a national debate about budget priorities. It won’t, of course.
If there was ever any doubt about Mr. Obama’s citizenship, which there was not, the issue was settled years ago when Hawaii released his birth certificate. The fuller document that Mr. Obama had to request contains some extra information, including his parents’ signatures and the name of the hospital where he was born, but it was unnecessary to show his legitimacy.
So it will not quiet the most avid attackers. Several quickly questioned its authenticity. That’s because the birther question was never really about citizenship; it was simply a proxy for those who never accepted the president’s legitimacy, for a toxic mix of reasons involving ideology, deep political anger and, most insidious of all, race. It was originally promulgated by fringe figures of the radical right, but mainstream Republican leaders allowed it to simmer to satisfy those who are inflamed by Mr. Obama’s presence in the White House.
Sarah Palin said the birth certificate issue was “fair game,” and the public was “rightfully” making it an issue. The House speaker, John Boehner, grudgingly said in February that he would take Mr. Obama “at his word” that he was a citizen, a suggestion that the proof was insufficient. He said, however, that it was not his job to end the nonsensical attacks. “The American people have the right to think what they want to think,” he said at the time. That signal was clearly received. Lawmakers in nearly a dozen states introduced bills requiring presidential candidates to release their full birth certificates.
It is inconceivable that this campaign to portray Mr. Obama as the insidious “other” would have been conducted against a white president.
There was a price to the party for keeping the issue alive; inevitably, it was picked up by a cartoon candidate, Donald Trump, who rode birtherism directly to the prime-time promontories of cable TV. The Republican establishment began to wince as it became increasingly tied to Mr. Trump’s flirtations with racial provocation, and Karl Rove told him to knock it off. Naturally, he did not.
Finally, his taunting and the questions of television correspondents obliging Mr. Trump got on the president’s nerves. Mr. Obama was tactically smart to release the certificate and marginalize those who continue to keep the matter alive. It is tragic that American politics is fueled by such poisonous fire. Mr. Trump quickly moved on to a new fixation, questioning Mr. Obama’s academic credentials. Mr. Boehner, and other party leaders, have a new reason to call a halt to the politics of paranoia and intolerance.
from KEN SHILLING <email@example.com>
At moments like the current Egypt crisis, I will sit and wonder what a President McCain might have done. How differently might have America faired under McCain? Well, McCain’s tax cuts would have been a bit steeper, and BP might have gotten a free pass after the Gulf Oil Disaster, rather than being forced into compensation. But what would have been McCain’s forte?
Clues can be found in those last two Presidential debates in October 2008, when it was fairly clear that Obama was going to win this thing. McCain had to riff, had to improvise. It was obvious in those debates that he loved talking foreign policy. “Watch what happens in Georgia,” he’d warn (the Georgia south of Russia, presumably), “. . . and Ukraine, and Ossetia.” Then he’d look into the camera and remind us that Iran’s President Ahmadinejad was a very dangerous man, and close his statements with his time-tested, “When I look into Putin’s eyes, I see KGB” taunt.
It’s clear that candidate McCain looked forward to foreign policy challenges, and that his response to America’s economic meltdown and continued unemployment would have been to divert our attention. That path would make sense for him, because the Republican magic bullet of lower taxes is no more effective in a recession than the Democrat magic bullet of stimulus spending. But a Republican president need not sit and take his lumps for a poor economy. There’s always war.
The Republican establishment has long favored some sort of attack on Iran, Republican commentators talk openly of military action against Ahmadinejad, and in McCain’s America, these voices would have been much more prominent than they are now. In McCain’s America, rather than talking about putting America back to work, pundits would be debating how to put Ahmadinejad in his place. Should we bomb? Should we provoke an insurgency? In McCain’s America, as job losses mounted here at home, rhetoric against Ahmadinejad would increase. The War Drumbeat that America endured under Bush Jr. in 2002-2003 would be mirrored under a McCain Presidency.
Of course, the wisdom of opening a third front of war in the Middle East would be questioned. President McCain would not have an easy time selling his ideas. But a President McCain would deeply welcome the current Egypt Uprising, a ready-made crisis ripe for any Republican Administration to exploit and call for war. You’ve heard of The Muslim Brotherhood, right? A gentlemen’s club of Islamic activists that have not at all taken a major role in Egypt’s current uprising. Historically, The Muslim Brotherhood is the granddaddy of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East. Historically, without the Muslim Brotherhood, there would have been no Bin Laden. But since President Obama has no stake in fanning the flames in Egypt, the media has felt free to report the truth: The Muslim Brotherhood is not out in front in the current uprising.
Under McCain, the news from Egypt would’ve come to us highly biased. We’d be browbeaten with reports of fundamentalists taking over in Egypt. Under McCain, every obscure Egyptian Mullah with anti-American sentiments would suddenly find himself in the camera eye. A McCain White House would amplify any connection between fundamentalists in Egypt, however tenuous, and their counterparts in Iran. And there you have it: McCain would have his Weapons of Mass Destruction, his case for Going In. Perversely, President Ahmadinejad in Iran would enjoy McCain’s sabre-rattling. The more he became the target of McCain Administration tirades, the more popular he’d grow at home. And just like regular people in America, the Iranians now demanding something be done about the economy would be called unpatriotic, in the face of such open American aggression. For his part, McCain would explain how the suffering of regular Americans deeply pains him, but at this moment, we must once again, rise and face the aggressor in the Middle East, and blah, blah, blah.
And the people of Egypt, currently rejoicing over the removal of Mubarak, would instead be chanting “death to America,” in the face of McCain’s aggression in the region. McCain would point to these marchers as justification for taking up arms, and McCain would have his war. And most importantly, nobody would be talking about the economy. We’d be jobless and debating the wisdom of McCain’s battle plans.
So when you watch the news tonight, ask yourself, when was the last time you saw televised throngs of Middle Eastern protesters who aren’t seething with anger at Americans, protesters who are not itching for a chance to get at us? President Obama has wisely distanced the USA from all sides, allowing the people to sort things out on their own. And for that you can thank your lucky stars that it is he, and not John McCain, who is your President.
Christina Taylor Green, 9, who was born on September 11, 2001, as a “face of hope” during the 9/11 day of everlasting infamy, was now killed by America’s hatred and venom. AMERICA IS KAPUTT – Tucson, Arizona its tombstone.
Christina Taylor Green, 9, who was born on September 11, 2001, as a
I am now in Vienna, Austria – a beautiful city with a complicated
I will not belabor the point as I do not have anything of substance to
I decided to do something positive instead and went today – Sunday -
Instead – let me note what I read in front of a hologram, part of a
That exhibit of Jewish Vienna – three dimensional and yet intangible -
“Tu Felix Austria: Now adays … when they demand that we don’t forget
Tu America – listen and wake up – the half-wit who did it is immaterial.
The notion of a politician taking a paycheck from a news organization before mounting a presidential bid isn’t totally new. Pat Buchanan hosted CNN’s “Crossfire” in the 1990s in between GOP primary campaigns and certainly used the national platform to his advantage in the years before Fox News achieved its current status.
Buchanan, the populist Republican, in an interview, said now the rule should be: “As soon as you come close to declaring or declare, you’re gone.”In the 1996 campaign Buchanan made his final appearance as a “Crossfire” host in February 1995 and then announced his candidacy the next month.
Now a paid MSNBC contributor, Buchanan said, “We’re in a dramatically different era now.”
Roger Ailes, Fox News chairman and CEO and Buchanan’s old colleague from the 1968 Richard Nixon campaign, has good financial reasons, besides political reasons, to trash the concept of a media outlet responsibility to present honest news.
The idea of Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee all making moves indicating they may run for president, and their common employer – Fox News – beg a question that hasn’t been asked before: How does a news organization cover White House hopefuls when so many are on the payroll?
Four prospects — all in the Conservative-Republican corner – and especially the former Alaska governor — facing media questions only on Fox News – a network that both pays them and offers limited scrutiny has already become a matter of frustration in the political and journalistic community — and not just among those the intensely competitive Fox is typically quick to dismiss as jealous rivals.
What do you really do about the UN Circus where North Korea teaches the US about Human Rights? The Obama Administration was proud of joining the United Nations Human Rights Council and opened the way to be admonished by North Korea on Human Rights. That was foreseeable fun – unimportant what Americans think of the issues. We are told of some foreseeable events. Next there will be the Durban III hootenanny at the September 2011 in New York festivities
U.N. Circus by by Joseph Klein on Nov 8th, 2010
Once the Obama administration decided last year to join the circus known as the United Nations Human Rights Council, it was only a matter of time before the U.S. faced judgment day on its own human rights record before this dysfunctional UN body.
Our turn came on November 5, 2010. “It is an honor to be in this chamber,” said Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations Esther Brimmer to the council on the occasion of America’s examination. ”Star chamber” would be a more fitting description.
The “honor” that Brimmer was referring to was being present at the council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) hearing. The UPR is a rotating periodic examination of all UN member states’ human rights records by the Human Rights Council. The council includes such countries as China, Cuba, Libya and Saudi Arabia. These serial human rights abusers exploit the UPR process to heap praise on each other and whitewash their own abysmal records, while scoring propaganda points against Western democracies with baseless accusations.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that monitors the Human Rights Council, captured perfectly the absurdity of America in the dock: “the U.N. system failed today by allowing non-democracies to hijack the session for political propaganda and to drum up anti-American sentiment worldwide.”
Predictably, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, China, Algeria, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Libya, and other dictatorships and terrorist-sponsoring states accused America of genocide, war crimes, and systematic anti-Muslim and anti-African racism.
For example, Cuban ambassador Rodolfo Reyes Rodriguez called on the U.S. to end its blockade of the island country, calling it a “crime of genocide.” In addition, Cuba condemned the U.S. for “violations against migrants and mentally ill persons” and called on America to “ensure the right to food and health” for all citizens.
Iran’s delegation demanded the U.S. “halt serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law and even told the United States it needed to “combat violence against women.” Meanwhile, Iran is preparing to execute a woman on trumped up adultery charges.
Libya complained about U.S. “racism, racial discrimination and intolerance.”
North Korea, whose people are literally starving while the regime pursues its militaristic ambitions, told the U.S. “to address inequalities in housing, employment and education.”
The Obama administration should have seen this “bash America” circus coming. Just last year, a report highly critical of the United States — prepared by the United Nations’ former special rapporteur on “contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” Dr. Doudou Diène — was submitted to the very same UN Human Rights Council that is judging the United States’ human rights record today. Diène comes from Senegal, a predominantly Muslim country and a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
In his report, which Diène wrote following his three week “fact-finding” tour in this country that included meetings with various Islamic groups, Diène concluded that “racism and racial discrimination have profoundly and lastingly marked and structured American society.” He went on to say that the “historical, cultural and human depth of racism still permeates all dimensions of life of American society” and lashed out at what he characterized as “racial profiling” against “people of Arab, Muslim, South Asian or Middle-Eastern descent.”
The current special rapporteur who replaced Diène, Githu Muigai, is not as anti-American as Diène, but has still managed to take a gratuitous swipe at the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law which, he claimed, compromises basic international human rights that migrants are entitled to.
“This is the sort of statute that opens a floodgate, equips a policeman or such other law enforcement person on the beat with such immense powers as to compromise…the very fundamental human rights that ought to be enjoyed in such an enlightened part of the world as Arizona,” Muigai told reporters at a press conference at UN headquarters last week. He contined:
It has been often said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result each time. Yet that is precisely what the Obama administration has done in submitting our country’s human rights record to the judgment of the UN Human Rights Council, knowing full well the biases that prevail there.
As former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton put it, “For the Obama administration, this is an exercise in self flagellation, which they seem to enjoy. But it doesn’t prompt equivalent candor from the real rights abusers.”
From Alaska to Argentina in an Electric Sports Car.
Racing Green Endurance hopes to spin the experience into an electric car startup.
Michael Kanellos: August 3, 2010
Austin, Tex.–They get pulled over quite a bit.
That’s the word from Alex Schey, the project manager of Racing Green Endurance, a group that is driving an electric sports car called the SRZero 16,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina.
“So far, we’ve been stopped by cops 15 times,” he said. “They just want to take pictures.”
The group — which grew out of work conducted by Schey and others at Imperial College London — designed the car to help make consumers aware that electric cars can be both functional and stylish. In addition to posting their own blog and conducting interviews, the drivers are being followed by a team filming a documentary that may air on BBC News in the future. When they finish in a few weeks, the group will then sit down, study the results and attempt to incubate a startup, possibly around the battery management system or the battery pack designed for the car. We met up with them in Austin at NI Week, a conference sponsored by test and measurement giant National Instruments. (NI supplied hardware for the battery management system; Racing Green Endurance created the software.)
“In the past, everyone had these perceived ideas that electric cars were boring and slow and had funny names,” he said.
The SRZero contains a 54 kilowatt-hour lithium ion phosphate battery, which is more than double the size of the battery of the Nissan Leaf and a single kilowatt-hour larger than the battery in the Tesla Roadster, and can drive 350 miles on a charge. They body of the car is a modified Radical SR8, one of the fastest gas-burning cars in the world.
While it can go farther than the Tesla Roadster on a single charge, the maiden version of the SRZero going to Argentina doesn’t accelerate like it, or even like a regular high-end sports car. It takes six to seven seconds to go from zero to 60 miles per hour. But that’s because the group deliberately left out the gearbox. The motor right now connects directly to the wheels. When the group completes the drive, a fixed-gear gearbox will be added that will allow the car to go from zero to 60 in three seconds.
“This smashes the Tesla in terms of range and it will smash the Tesla in acceleration,” he joked.
After Texas, the group will head to Mexico, Guatemala, the Central American chain, Colombia and other South American nations.