(Koch-funded) scientist changes opinion, finds warming due to humans (including Kochs)

Grist

That giddy squeal that echoed across America this weekend was from environmentalists who’d opened up The New York Times and read an opinion piece by Richard Muller. (Well, opened the website, anyway; it wasn’t in the actual paper.) Muller, a professor at UC-Berkeley, had long argued against human-caused climate change. His piece in the Times? “The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic.

Call me a converted skeptic.

Okay, you are a converted skeptic.

Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

Muller argues that the results from his research are…

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Hoeven, McCarthy, Republican Leaders Launch the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act of 2012 – News Releases – Press Office – United States Senator John Hoeven for North Dakota

Hoeven, McCarthy, Republican Leaders Launch the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act of 2012

Measure Will Jumpstart America’s Energy Industry, Boost Economy, Create Jobs

via Hoeven, McCarthy, Republican Leaders Launch the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act of 2012 – News Releases – Press Office – United States Senator John Hoeven for North Dakota.

How appropriate that the New Republican jobs plan has the acronym DEJA (vu?). It’s the recycled mantra of deregulation and DRILL BABY DRILL. I have the funny feeling that I’ve heard this before:

DOMESTIC ENERGY AND JOBS ACT OF 2012

Senator John Hoeven, Congressman Kevin McCarthy

July 26, 2012

Establish an American Energy Development Plan: Requires the Interior Secretary to establish an “all-of-the-above” energy program for federal lands by reviewing the nation’s energy needs and then establishing goals for federal land energy production to meet those needs from all energy sources, including oil, natural gas, coal and renewables.

Approve of the Keystone XL Pipeline: Deems the environmental review process complete and allows TransCanada to construct the northern leg of the pipeline immediately except in Nebraska, while the state continues its routing process within the state. Keystone XL will bring 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries, including 100,000 barrel a day from U.S. producers.

Freeze and Study the Impact of EPA Rules on Gasoline Regulations: Requires an interagency task force to conduct a cumulative analysis on certain EPA rules and actions that impact the price of gasoline and diesel fuels, providing for a better understanding of the costs and consequences of these rules.

Provide Onshore Oil and Gas Leasing Certainty: Requires a minimum annual acreage leasing plan that makes available at least 25 percent of the lands open for leasing each year and set firm timelines for the Interior secretary to issue leases and adjudicate lease protests.  It would prohibit the Secretary from withdrawing leases and adding additional lease stipulations after they have been sold.

Advance Offshore Wind Production: Allows weather site testing for wind, tidal, current and solar mapping to discover and catalog potential energy on or in the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf. The bill limits the size of testing to one acre on the seafloor or five acres on the surface, and sets a 30 day deadline for issuance of a permit to test.

Streamline Energy Permitting: Establishes a cost-recovery mechanism for permitting and protests and ensure that Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permitting offices have the personnel and resources necessary to approve energy development on federal lands. It includes hard timelines on permit approvals, cuts back on red tape, and reduces litigation. Applies to oil, natural gas, wind, coal, solar and other energy project permitting on federal lands.

Provide Access to the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA): Provides for leasing in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, an area of land on the Alaska North Slope managed by the BLM. The bill would reaffirm Congress’ intent that the land’s main purpose is for oil and natural gas resources and requires at least one lease sale in areas most likely to produce oil.  It also directs the Interior and Transportation secretaries to work toward the development of pipelines and roads in the reserve, in an environmentally responsible manner.

Hold BLM Live Internet Auctions: Gives the Interior Secretary the authority to conduct Internet-based auctions for onshore leases to ensure the best return to the federal taxpayer, reduce fraud and secure the leasing process.

Establish a Mining Law Program or Solid Minerals Leasing Program: Freezes the Interior Department’s attempt to shift the regulation of coal mines from the Office of Surface Mining to the BLM or Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

Increase State Revenue Sharing for Outer Continental Shelf Revenues: Changes the total amount a state can receive from Outer Continental Shelf revenues from $500,000 per year to $750,000 for the years 2023 to 2055.

Offer Lease Sales off Virginia Coast: Directs the Interior Secretary to offer minerals off the shores of Virginia in a lease sale. The area covered by the sale is about 2.9 million acres at least 50 miles offshore of Virginia in the Mid-Atlantic Planning Area. The Bureau estimates that this area may contain 130 million barrels of oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The bill protects any military activities by prohibiting any activity that would conflict with any military operation.

Limit New Regulations on Surface Mining: Prohibits the Interior Secretary from approving any regulation that would adversely impact employment in coal mines in the United States; cause a reduction in revenue received by the Federal Government or any State, tribal, or local government; reduce the amount of coal available for domestic consumption or for export; designate any area as unsuitable for surface coal mining and reclamation operations; or expose the United States to liability for taking the value of privately owned coal through regulation.

Establish a Critical Minerals Policy Act: Directs the U.S. Geological Survey to establish a list of minerals critical to the U.S. economy and sets forth a comprehensive set of policies that will bolster critical mineral production, expand manufacturing and promote recycling and alternatives – all while maintaining strong environmental protections.

Just to choose ONE item from the above list of disturbing proposals: “Limit New Regulations on Surface Mining.” Read the wording of this one carefully. It seems that it would restrict ANY regulation of surface mining because it may cause a loss of work or revenue. Here in Appalachia where I live, mountaintop removal mining is a regular practice. If it was determined that a community or wildlife might be adversely affected by blowing the top off a mountain, would this legislation prohibit an injunction on the removal?  Instances of Black Lung from inhaling coal dust, once thought largely eradicated, is once again on the rise. Would advocation of safer working conditions for coal miners “adversely affect employment” or “cause a reduction in revenue?” I hope someone with better knowledge can help me understand this. It sounds to me as if “anything goes” if this act is approved.

**Edited to add: Oh, yeah, and Republicans are seeking to block funding for regulations meant to reduce instances of Black Lung in miners. Sigh.

Violence Against Women and Homosexuals is Perpetuated by Political and Religious Hate Speech

While Congress is even now arguing about reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act because of protections added for gays, lesbians, and immigrant women, a Nebraska woman endured horrific torture and attempted murder in her own home. The word “dyke” was carved into her flesh, among other words which have not yet been released. It is unknown how long her attackers confined and tortured her before setting fire to her home. Neighbors describe her as incredibly kind-the type of person who would mow other people’s lawns just to help out. 

After the attack, the woman made her way to the home of a neighbor, Linda Rappl, who said she feared bad news about her husband, who is in hospice, when she heard someone knocking on her door before dawn Sunday.

What she saw instead was her 33-year-old neighbor, she said, naked and bleeding.

“I was in shock,” Rappl said. “She was naked, her hands were tied with zip ties. All I could see was a cut across her forehead and blood running down.”

The woman was sobbing. Rappl, 68, brought her neighbor inside and wrapped her in a blanket before calling 911.

“She had cuts on her arms and legs but I didn’t want to humiliate her and stare,” she said.

It looked like she had endured torture, Rappl said.

The continued rhetoric against gays and the  politicization of sexual orientation stokes the fire of hate. When church leaders and political figures continually rail against homosexuality as a scourge to society, it is no wonder that some people resort to violence. This time-tested manner of dividing Americans against each other is all too effective. By dehumanizing black people and propagating the myth of racial superiority over another race, slavery, lynchings and denial of civil rights was made acceptable. During World War II, the same treatment of Japanese Americans led to their incarceration in concentration camps, despite no evidence of treasonous behavior. Church doctrine placing women in a submissive role has led to all manner of misogynistic treatment of females. 

The sustained propaganda of organized religion has convinced many Americans that gays are an abomination, a threat to traditional marriage, and a sign of moral degeneration. The violent elements of society are given a target to terrorize. Everyone is shocked when an incident such as this occurs, but it is simply the logical outcome of targeted discrimination against a portion of American society. When our politicians and moral leaders are bent on denying civil rights to gay Americans, it infers that they are less than human. Even though the Bill of Rights makes no distinction between race, class, or any other category of human, our denial of rights to homosexuals implies that we are better than the “other.”

Even if we “disagree” with homosexuality, it doesn’t mean that gay people are less worthy of civil protections from discrimination and abuse. “It grosses me out” is not an adequate defense for actively seeking to place human beings in a separate category. That illegal immigrant women have no avenue of escaping an abuser because of her status is an appalling disregard for human life and dignity. 

When a brutal act of violence occurs, most of us feel pity for the victim. In the above case, the brutality of the crime caused the community to rally around the woman in support. When we witness human suffering first-hand, we are moved to compassion. The next step is to examine how we as a society have contributed to the problem. The fault for the crime lies with the men who committed the act, but the relentless attacks on homosexuality as some sort of deviance akin to bestiality and pedophilia gives such violent elements a convenient target. Often, the very people who express revulsion for gays are themselves suffering a form of self-hatred due to their own homosexual desires. What they despise within themselves causes them to lash out at others who may have found peace with their orientation, even as their persecutor endures internal conflict and the denial of his own nature. Such self-loathing is sad, because it arises from church, family, and government condemnation.

Though I can no longer call myself a Christian, largely because of the thinly-cloaked hatred that resides in many churches,  I know that Jesus Christ of the Bible would not recognize the religion that rose up in his name. This “Christian nation” that places so much value on pious words disregards his revolutionary teachings. Rather than embracing the least of us, the poor and downtrodden, we actively seek to keep them in their places of subjugation. Our leaders have implemented a subclass of people less deserving of respect, not worthy of equal protection under the law. 

 

‘Don’t say vagina’ bill faces vote in Michigan senate committee

A controversial anti-abortion Michigan bill that prompted Rep. Lisa Brown (D) to be banned from the house floor for saying the word “vagina” faces a vote in the state’s senate committee on Thursday.

The bill would implement a host of regulatory requirements for abortion providers, including special licensure, elaborate tissue disposal requirements, mandated screening for women seeking an abortion and a ban on remote counseling for taking medical abortion pills. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which opposes such regulations, said, “These excessive and unnecessary government regulations – an ever-growing trend among state legislatures – increase the cost and scarcity of abortion services, harming women’s health and inhibiting their reproductive choices.”

Her objections to the bill prompted Rep. Brown to say, “I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina. But no means no.”

Republicans then banned her and another Democrat from speaking on the floor, saying her use of the word “vagina” was a violation of “decorum.”

After Brown was banned from speaking, she and other activists gathered on the state capitol steps to perform “The Vagina Monologues” in protest.

via ‘Don’t say vagina’ bill faces vote in Michigan senate committee | The Raw Story.

 

Manhood, Mental Illness, and The Colorado Massacre by Kevin Powell

Davey D's Hip Hop Corner

“How come all these crazies are White boys?” my White male friend Michael Cohen asked me via email in the aftermath of the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting. It is something I have been hearing nonstop these past few days since 24-year-old James Holmes murdered 12 and wounded nearly 60 people in a horrific mass shooting at a screening of the new Batman film.

The question also makes me recall that Chris Rock stand-up routine where he said he fears angry White males more than he fears angry Black males because you simply don’t know what the White dudes will do when pissed off. Or something to that effect.

However, to reduce this to mass murderers being “White” and “crazy” would ignore that an Arab-American man, Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan, killed 13 soldiers and civilians and wounded more than two dozen at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009. Or that…

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Federal grant thwarts GOP-led effort to close North Carolina Planned Parenthood clinic | McClatchy

DURHAM, N.C. — One of the battles won by the conservatives who took over the North Carolina Legislature this session was stripping Planned Parenthood of its funding.

But it is turning out to be a short-lived victory. The women’s health organization has successfully applied for federal funds and will soon receive more than three times the amount Republican lawmakers had withheld.

“We’ve weathered these increasing attacks on women’s health care access the past couple of years,” Paige Johnson, vice president of external and governmental affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, said Tuesday. “Now we’re able to do more for our patients.”

The GOP strategy to defund Planned Parenthood would be considered more symbolic – by law, federal money can’t be used for abortions – than substantial if it wasn’t for its direct impact on the women’s health clinic in Durham.

The amount legislators cut, $125,000, was a sliver of the $20.2 billion state budget, but losing it meant that Planned Parenthood’s clinic in North Durham would have to close. That clinic doesn’t handle abortions; it provides contraceptives, pap smears and breast exams and does testing for diabetes, high cholesterol and sexually transmitted diseases.

Now, with $426,000 in what is known as Title X funding, the Durham clinic expects to see a fourfold increase in patients, to about 2,000 a year, said Emily Adams, vice president of operations. Adams said the funding dispute was a close call.

“We have patients who have been coming to us for over a decade,” Adams said. “When they turned to us and we didn’t have sure resources, that’s where it really hits.”

via Federal grant thwarts GOP-led effort to close North Carolina Planned Parenthood clinic | McClatchy.

Pictures: Toothless “Vampire” Skeleton Unearthed in Bulgaria

Vampire picture: skeleton from Bulgaria

The discovery of a 700-year-old skeleton in Bulgaria—seen at the country’s National Museum of History in June—offers evidence that the fear of vampires is far older than Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

The “vampire” was found entombed among church ruins in the Black Sea town of Sozopol (map) earlier in the month. The skeleton had been stabbed in the chest with an iron rod (upper right), which was in the tomb next to the body.

In addition, the skeleton’s teeth had been pulled. Scholars believe the rod and tooth-pulling were techniques villagers used to prevent dead men from turning into vampires.

The vampire obsession dates back millennia in countries across Europe.

via Pictures: Toothless “Vampire” Skeleton Unearthed in Bulgaria.

BBC News – Worm lifetime ‘longer in space’

Spacefaring worms undergo genetic changes associated with longer lives in their Earth-bound cousins, research has shown.

A number of Caenorhabditis elegans worms were carried aboard a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and brought back for study.

Researchers found reduced activity of five genes in the worms that, when suppressed in the species on Earth, lead to longer lifetimes.

The work appears in Scientific Reports.

The nematode C. elegans is among the world’s most-studied animals.

They have been routinely taken as cargo on space missions to study in a simple organism the biological changes that future human spacefarers may face; the worms even survived the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003.

More recently, the prospects for a self-contained and self-sustaining colony of the worms were described in a 2011 paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

But it was also the first multi-celled organism to have its entire genome sequenced, and researchers are now getting to the bottom of what changes space travel wreaks on the worms’ genomes.

Space age

Nathaniel Szewczyk of the University of Nottingham and researchers from a number of Japanese universities examined worms that were taken for an 11-day trip on the space shuttle to the ISS and then flash-frozen once they returned to Earth.

A “control group” of worms was kept on Earth at the time and frozen at the same time. The lifetime of the worms ranges from two to three weeks, so they were at a fairly advanced age when preserved.

The team found that the muscles of the well-travelled worms exhibited smaller amounts of polyglutamine aggregates, tangles of protein that tended to accumulate in the muscles as animals aged.

But they also found five genes that were more “switched off” than the worms that had stayed on Earth.

The five were involved in signalling in the nervous and metabolic systems, and one that is chemically similar to insulin – the manipulation of which was shown in a 2003 Science paper to enormously increase C. elegans’ lifetime.

“It would appear that these genes are involved in how the worm senses the environment and signals changes in metabolism in order to adapt to the environment,” said Dr Szewczyk.

“Most of us know that muscle tends to shrink in space. These latest results suggest that this is almost certainly an adaptive response rather than a pathological one.

“Counter-intuitively, muscle in space may age better than on Earth. It may also be that spaceflight slows the process of ageing.”

via BBC News – Worm lifetime ‘longer in space’.

Debunking Viral Emails and Facebook Posts 1: Swiss Gun Ownership

Every single day I either get a viral email or see several Facebook posts that are misleading or false. I TRY to hit delete or ignore these posts, because I get tired of confronting friends and family members who won’t change their minds even when presented with unmitigated facts to disprove their thoughtless, unconfirmed claims. This is very difficult, because I have a terrible compulsion to correct people. This blog has served to protect my fragile relationships with friends and family who are one ignorant comment away from being verbally lashed. I believe that as therapy, I shall periodically choose one of these emails or Facebook posts to address. Here’s the first one I saw today:

WHAT AMERICA CAN LEARN FROM SWITZERLAND

Not quite accurate: Switzerland issues a gun to every able-bodied male, who must serve in their military reserves (sometimes till aged 50) or be taxed 3% of gross income if unfit for service. Females may volunteer to serve. Distribution of ammunition for said weapons is tightly regulated and may only be used in cases of war/civil defense (being a neutral country, there is no war). These conscripts are trained and required to keep their personal weapon well-maintained and secure. Gun ownership for private citizens not serving in the militia is regulated with common-sense laws that would make the gun lobby of the US shudder with revulsion.

Comparing gun ownership and crime statistics is pointless if one does not also assess the differences between the two countries. Here in the United States, we are not required to serve in the military or do any type of civil service.  Nearly everyone can own a weapon and carry it around. Most states have no requirement that a gun owner even know how to operate their weapon or be educated in gun safety. A quick Google search offers a generous sample of people who injure themselves or others accidentally with their own weapon.

Although Switzerland does have a lower gun-related crime rate compared to the US, it is not the lowest in the world, even among nations where gun ownership is legal. The reason that gun advocates cite this statistic is to imply that since everyone owns a gun, criminals are afraid to use them. This is patently ridiculous, especially given the knowledge that concealed carry permits are highly regulated in Switzerland, usually given only to military and security officers. Permit applicants must state a reason for the need of the weapon and are required to pass an exam demonstrating fitness to own and carry the weapon. The permit expires after five years and applies only to the type of firearm specified in the permit. All gun owners must pass a criminal background check and have no known mental health issues or security concerns. Purchases of ammunition are recorded by name at point of sale in a bound book. Ammo for long rifles used for hunting are not regulated or recorded. Semi-automatic weapons are very tightly regulated.

The gun-related death rate is eight times higher in the United states than that of our economic counterparts in the world, with the highest youth death rate and the highest gun-suicide rate of all industrialized nations. We are also tops for gun ownership in the entire world, of course, without peer. The only nations that outpace our gun violence rates are war-torn or severely economically depressed nations with horrifying statistics on civil rights and poverty.

Some additional comparisons that you may find interesting: Switzerland has universal (and mandatory) healthcare coverage, a very low poverty rate, 3% unemployment rate, and virtually no homelessness-all factors that contribute to the crime rate in the USA. Switzerland also has one of the lowest marginal tax rates in the world, with a stable economy and one of highest per capita income rates in the world. The banking sector thrives because of the nation’s neutrality and sovereignty, as Mitt Romney knows well.  They are also skinnier than we are, damn it! “What America can learn from Switzerland” is a LOT!

If you come across an questionable email or post and would like help debunking or proving a claim, please pass it along to me. I will do my best to research it. I know it probably won’t change a lot of minds, but arming one’s self with facts is key to being a well-informed voter and citizen. Oh, and I haven’t paid much attention to my official Facebook BrabbleRabble page yet, but I would really appreciate your “likes” and/or shares. Apparently, something happens when I get 30 of them, and I’m curious. I need 21 more followers to unlock these secrets;)

Alex Jones and “the Aurora Theater Shooting Was A Staged Event” conspiracy

Under the Mountain Bunker

Like anyone else, I love a good conspiracy theory. Here’s one that isn’t: below is a video clip of Alex “Crazy for a Profit” Jones arguing that the Aurora Theater Shooting was a “staged event.” By the way, I would be shocked if Alex Jones was not on the NRA’s payroll (see images below).

In his spectacular midway-barker style, Jones “connects the dots” for us between James Holmes and the theater shooting to the upcoming UN Arms Treaty Conference, Fast and Furious, the Uni-bomber, Jared Loughner, Columbine, MK ULTRA, the “Globalist Command Center (the alternate US capital) in Denver / Colorado Springs, President Obama and the Democrats and, naturally, the opening of the actual Batman movie itself.

Of course, he calls this “analyzing” the event.

In Alex Jones’ “analysis”, the real victim here is James Holmes — your typical “patsy” who was drugged up and duped to take the fall. This…

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