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Arctic ‘Death Spiral’ Leaves Climate Scientists Shocked and Worried

Worse than the worst case
Environment • Views: 20,403

A “radical shift” is plunging the Arctic Ocean towards an ice-free state for the first time in millions of years. One of the world’s foremost ice experts, Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, calls it a “global disaster” that will cause such a big boost in global temperatures that even such extreme measures as geo-engineering need to be considered urgently.

Climate science has long understood that disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic would be a “tipping point” in the Earth’s climate system, accelerating global temperatures and causing extreme weather and other climate changes far beyond the Arctic. Yet nearly every expert has been shocked by just how rapidly this “continent of ice” has been vanishing, and how dramatic the impacts have been already.

Climate scientists and ice experts are now using phrases like “unprecedented”, “amazing”, “extreme”, “hard to exaggerate”, “incredibly fast”, “death spiral” and “heading for oblivion”.

More: Arctic ‘Death Spiral’ Leaves Climate Scientists Shocked and Worried

Marco Rubio’s PAC Markets $25 Water Bottle to Wingnut Masses

Turning a minus into a fail
Wingnuts • Views: 19,380

The Reclaim America PAC is actually the Marco Rubio PAC (nudge nudge, wink wink, Citizens United, say no more), and tonight they’re marketing a new product to the rubes: the official Marco Rubio Water Bottle.

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LA Times: Incendiary Tear Gas Reportedly Used in Dorner Standoff

The latest report
Crime • Views: 22,614

The LA Times has new details on the use of incendiary tear gas devices in the standoff with Christopher Dorner, leading to the fire that destroyed the cabin where he was holed up: Dorner Manhunt: Incendiary Tear Gas Reportedly Used on Cabin.

Faced with regular barrages of gunfire, officers confronting suspected killer Christopher Dorner lobbed incendiary tear gas into the cabin where Dorner allegedly was holed up, said law enforcement officials with knowledge of the situation.

The cabin caught on fire and authorities believe Dorner was burned inside. A body was discovered but authorities have not confirmed it was Dorner. …

SWAT officers surrounding the cabin were under a “constant barrage of gunfire,” one source said. “He put himself in that position. There weren’t a lot of options.”

Hoping to end the standoff, law enforcement authorities first lobbed “traditional” tear gas into the cabin. When that did not work, they opted to use CS gas canisters, which are known in law enforcement parlance as incendiary tear gas. These canisters have significantly more chance of starting a fire. This gas can cause humans to have burning eyes and start to feel as if they are being starved for oxygen. It is often used to drive barricaded individuals out.

Shock News! Republicans Oppose Minimum Wage Boost

Who could ever have predicted?
Politics • Views: 19,228
Word cloud via Shutterstock

One of the big points in President Obama’s State of the Union address was his call to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9.00 an hour, to help lift families out of poverty and give the economy another much-needed boost.

So of course, the Republican Party reflexively opposes the idea, as they do all ideas that don’t benefit the wealthy — or that originate from President Obama. You knew this was coming: Top Republicans Oppose Minimum Wage Hike.

RYAN: I think it’s inflationary. I think it actually is counterproductive in many ways. You end up costing job from people who are the bottom rung of the economic ladder. Look, I wish we could just pass a law saying everybody should make more money without any adverse consequences. The problem is you’re costing jobs from those who are just trying to get entry level jobs. The goal ought to be is to get people out of entry level jobs into better jobs, better paying jobs. That’s better education and a growing economy. Those are some of the things he talked about and I don’t think raising minimum wage — and history is very clear about this — doesn’t actually accomplish those goals.

RUBIO: I want to see people making a lot more than $9 an hour in the United States. And the way do you that is through rapid economic growth where people are being paid a lot more than that. $9 is not enough. I think we all would want that. The question is is a minimum wage the best way to do it? And history has said the answer is absolutely not. In fact, the impact of minimum wage usually is that businesses hire less people. That’s the impact of it. They’ll just hire less people to do the same amount of work…We have a lot of history to prove that the minimum wage , raising the minimum wage does not grow the middle class.

State of the Union 2013: Enhanced Video, Written Transcript

US News • Views: 15,563

Partial written transcript of President Obama’s state of the union address last night & full enhanced version:

Tonight, thanks to the grit and determination of the American people, there is much progress to report. After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home. After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs. We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in 20. Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before.

So, together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the State of our Union is stronger.

But we gather here knowing that there are millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded. Our economy is adding jobs — but too many people still can’t find full-time employment. Corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs — but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged.

It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth — a rising, thriving middle class.

It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country — the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, or who you love.

It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation.

The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem. They don’t expect those of us in this chamber to agree on every issue. But they do expect us to put the nation’s interests before party. They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can. For they know that America moves forward only when we do so together, and that the responsibility of improving this union remains the task of us all.

Our work must begin by making some basic decisions about our budget — decisions that will have a huge impact on the strength of our recovery.

Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion — mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. As a result, we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.

Now we need to finish the job. And the question is, how?

In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year. These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, and energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as the sequester, are a really bad idea.

Now, some in Congress have proposed preventing only the defense cuts by making even bigger cuts to things like education and job training, Medicare and Social Security benefits. That idea is even worse.

Yes, the biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population. And those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms — otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations.

But we can’t ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and the most powerful. We won’t grow the middle class simply by shifting the cost of health care or college onto families that are already struggling, or by forcing communities to lay off more teachers and more cops and more firefighters. Most Americans — Democrats, Republicans, and independents — understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. They know that broad-based economic growth requires a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with spending cuts and revenue, and with everybody doing their fair share. And that’s the approach I offer tonight.

On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission.

Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs. And the reforms I’m proposing go even further. We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors. We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital; they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive. And I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement. Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep — but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.

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 Frank says:

Now imagine a Moebius vortex inside a spherical constant, and you've got my cosmology. -- 1992