White House aides rankle at any comparison to Bush and Cheney. They dutifully note that in his first days in office, Obama ended the use of torture (a.k.a. enhanced interrogation techniques) and declared his intention to shut down Guantanamo. (Gitmo remains open, but that’s mainly because congressional Republicans and Democrats thwarted the White House effort to develop a high-security facility in the United States to house the detainees.) And the Obama-ites contend they have reformed some of the Bush-Cheney policies, such as the use of military commissions, to justify maintaining these practices. Also, they are not reluctant to add that Obama did end the war in Iraq and is downsizing the war in Afghanistan (at a faster pace than then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA chief David Petraeus urged in 2011). But much of this defense has tended to get lost as the administration has fired off drone strikes without acknowledging the individual attacks and has, following in the path of previous administrations, resisted certain congressional oversight efforts.
So Obama’s speech Thursday on counterterrorism policies—which follows his administration’s acknowledgment yesterday that it had killed four Americans (including Anwar al-Awlaki, an Al Qaeda leader in Yemen)—is a big deal, for with this address, Obama is self-restricting his use of drones and shifting control of them from the CIA to the military. And the president has approved making public the rules governing drone strikes.
The New York Times received the customary pre-speech leak and reported:
A new classified policy guidance signed by Mr. Obama will sharply curtail the instances when unmanned aircraft can be used to attack in places that are not overt war zones, countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The rules will impose the same standard for strikes on foreign enemies now used only for American citizens deemed to be terrorists.
Lethal force will be used only against targets who pose “a continuing, imminent threat to Americans” and cannot feasibly be captured, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a letter to Congress, suggesting that threats to a partner like Afghanistan or Yemen alone would not be enough to justify being targeted
A new NASA and university analysis of ocean data collected more than 135 years ago by the crew of the HMS Challenger oceanographic expedition provides further confirmation that human activities have warmed our planet over the past century.
Researchers from the University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, Australia; and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., combined the ship’s measurements of ocean temperatures with modern observations from the international Argo array of ocean profiling floats. They used both as inputs to state-of-the-art climate models, to get a picture of how the world’s oceans have changed since the Challenger’s voyage.
The Challenger expedition, from 1872 to 1876, was the world’s first global scientific survey of life beneath the ocean surface. Along the way, scientists measured ocean temperatures, lowering thermometers hundreds of meters deep on ropes.
“The key to this research was to determine the range of uncertainty for the measurements taken by the crew of the Challenger,” said Josh Willis, a JPL climate scientist and NASA project scientist for the upcoming U.S./European Jason-3 oceanography satellite, scheduled to launch in 2015. “After we had taken all these uncertainties into account, it became apparent that the rate of warming we saw across the oceans far exceeded the degree of uncertainty around the measurements. So, while the uncertainty was large, the warming signal detected was far greater.”
Uncertainties around the Challenger’s measurements were caused by the limited areas measured during the voyage; the actual depths the thermometers descended to; and the likely natural variation in temperature that could occur in each region during the voyage.
“Our research revealed warming of the planet can be clearly detected since 1873 and that our oceans continue to absorb the great majority of this heat,” said researcher and lead author Will Hobbs of the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. “Currently, scientists estimate the oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, and we attribute the global warming to anthropogenic (human-produced) causes.”
The Challenger expedition measurements also revealed that thermal expansion of sea water caused by global warming contributed about 40 percent of the total sea level rise seen in tide gauges from 1873 to 1955. The remaining 60 percent was likely to have come from the melting of ice sheets and glaciers. Prior to this research, climate models offered the only way to estimate the change before the 1950s.
Results of the study are published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
For more on the study, visit: imas.utas.edu.au .
Roan Garcia-Quintana of Greenville is, despite his name, a white supremacist. Being a white supremacist, it is not so surprising that he is a Tea Party activist.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Garcia-Quintana is also a rabid nativist. Merriam-Webster defines nativism as “a policy of favoring native inhabitants as opposed to immigrants.”
Where you think this would become a problem for Garcia-Quintana is that he was born in Havana and is a naturalized citizen. So here we have a non-native endorsing a policy which would make him a second-class citizen.
In other words, Garcia-Quintana does not want America to be for others what it has been for him.
Nobody said the Tea Party made any sense. Therefore, the befuddled Garcia-Quintana can say, apparently without a sense of irony, that Latino immigration is an “illegal alien invasion.”
If you want to know Garcia-Quintana’s logic, it runs thusly, reports the SPLC: “Although Cuban by birth, Garcia-Quintana does not consider himself Latino. His ancestors, he says, were Spaniards and this makes him white. He refers to himself as “Havana born, Savannah raised” and as a ‘Confederate Cuban.’”
Well, the preliminary numbers for CA are in — and they’re looking very good, with costs coming in below expectations. At this point, it looks as if this thing is indeed going to work.
And think about the political dynamics. Because the Supreme Court decided to let states opt out of the Medicaid expansion, some states — notably Texas — will have a pretty dysfunctional version of Obamacare in 2014, although even those systems will provide significant benefits to many people. Still, the whole political calculus was supposed to be that Republicans in red states could point to the horrors of Obamacare and ride them to political victory. Instead, it looks as if we’re going to see blue-state residents reaping the benefits of a functional health care system, while red-state residents are denied many of those benefits, for what looks like no better reason than mean-spirited spite — because what’s going on is, indeed, mean-spirited spite.
Predictions that Obamacare will be a big political issue are probably right — but not in the way gleeful conservatives imagined.
In case you ever wondered just how much wealthy students dominate America’s top colleges, here’s a nice illustration from a new report by the Century Foundation. At the most selective schools in the country,* 70 percent of students come from the wealthiest quarter of U.S. families. Just 14 percent come from the poorest half. And while these statistics date back to 2006, I think it’s safe to say they haven’t changed greatly in the last few years.
Geology is what we look to when we want enduring monuments. Rock and metal outlast anything made of living tissue. Or do they? In another example of science getting poetic, it seems that a symbol of ephemera — a butterfly — provides evidence of a mountain long turned to dust.
Monarch butterflies are some of the toughest insects in the world. Their migration takes them from southern Canada to central Mexico. The journey is so long and difficult that it outlasts the butterfly’s lifetime. Monarchs lay eggs at different stages through the journey. No one generation makes the whole trip.
Along this journey are several sites that have become local treasures and tourist attractions. The monarchs, flying in swarms, group together to rest in small areas, covering the trees like bright orange leaves. But although these sites are the most showy part of the journey, they’re not the most amazing.
The amazing part of the journey is the sudden eastward turn that monarchs take over Lake Superior. Monarchs fly over the lake, necessarily, in one unceasing flight. That alone would be difficult, but the monarchs make it tougher by not going directly south. They fly south, and at one point of the lake turn east, fly for a while, and then turn back toward the south. Why?
Biologists, and certain geologists, believe that something was blocking the monarchs’ path. They believe that that part of Lake Superior might have once been one of the highest mountains ever to loom over North America. It would have been useless for the monarchs to try to scale it, and wasteful to start climbing it, so all successfully migrating monarchs veered east around it and then headed southward again. They’ve kept doing that, some say, even after the mountain is long gone.
This puts a new spin on how we look at geology and geography. We think of mountains as structures that are, nearly, ageless. They stand while successive generations of animals change and evolve around them. Perhaps not this time, though. This time, butterflies kept up their same pattern while the world changed under them, the mountain wearing away, or being destroyed. This time, flesh outlasted stone.
So let me get this straight. A Monarch butterfly whose life span is one year, so that it takes several generations to complete it’s migration cycle (just getting my head around that idea already gives me a headache) is genetically programed to fly around a mountain that was a millennium ago, located where Lake Superior is today. Just thinking about this is a religious experience for me.
Stand by. The Religious right assholes are either going to go apeshit about this or try to bury it. Please, feel free to tweet/retweet it to Bryan et al.
(CNN) - Just days after she announced to the world from tornado-ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, that she is an atheist, it looks like Rebecca Vitsmun has found salvation.
Not from the Lord, mind you, but from other atheists and friends of atheists.
An Indiegogo campaign titled “Atheists Unite,” launched late Thursday by stand-up comic Doug Stanhope, is raking in dollars to help her family rebuild. Less than 17 hours after going live, it met its 60-day goal of $50,000. A little more than an hour later, as we prepared to publish, donations were at $55,000 - and growing.
//Wonder how Fischer will react?
But also remember this. There are others who also need our help. So please, if you can, donate to them as well.
Charles. May I suggests an addtion to the Category selction. Natural Disasters
As Democrats and the media continue to hammer Virginia lieutenant governor hopeful E.W. Jackson for his past comments on social issues, the Christian minister says he is battling what he calls the “mainstream media’s caricature” of him.
In an email sent to The Daily Caller this week, the running mate to Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli said “every one of those comments has a context and were spoken in my role as a minister, not as a candidate.”
So everything is okay, nothing to see here. Can’t you see he is the real victim in all this?
Highlights of his comments as a “Minister”:
Jackson on gays and lesbians:
Referred to gays and lesbians as “perverted,” “degenerate,” “spiritually darkened” and “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”
Said regarding homosexuality: “it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of.”
Argued that gays seek to “sexualize [children] at the earliest possible age” and use “totalitarian” tactics.
Claimed gays are hurting black women: “I’ve heard a lot of young black ladies that a lot of young black men seem to be gay. I’ve heard them complain about it, they say ‘so many of these guys are homosexuals’ and they are frankly frustrated by it.”
Demanded the reinstitution of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell : “The military has been decimated by this lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender policy that has now been implemented. It’s an abomination and it’s only going to weaken us militarily and they need to undo it,” warning that the policy’s repeal is a “disaster of historic proportions.”
Contended that homosexuality is “killing black men by the thousands” and said of gay rights advocates: “what they’re promoting is killing people.”
Called GLSEN founder and anti-bullying activist Kevin Jennings a “radical homosexual activist” who should have been “imprisoned” in a letter demanding he resign as head of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.
Said there is a “direct connection” between gays and pedophilia.
Jackson on Obama and Democrats:
Wondered how the Democratic Party “managed to hold on to black Christians in spite of an agenda worthy of the Antichrist.”
Proclaimed that “the Democrat Party has shown itself to be anti-Christian, anti-Bible, anti-family, anti-life and anti-God… We’re calling people to come out of the Democrat Party and not support candidates who represent its values and the rebellion that it represents against God. That certainly would include President Barack Obama.”
Claimed that Democratic Party supporters are “insulting their faith and blaspheming their God” by supporting a “coalition of the godless.”
Warned that ministers who support Obama “are going to have to answer to God” if they encourage “their congregations to support this abomination.”
Said Democrats believe “that the Bible is a lie and indeed they are saying that God is a liar.”
Argued that “liberalism and their ideas have done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did, now that’s a fact.”
Maintained that Obama “seems to have a lot of sympathy for even radical Islam” and “clearly has Muslim sensibilities,” arguing that Obama “certainly does have a lot of affection and favor for Islam, that seems to be his priority…Christianity, I don’t really think about that with him, I really don’t, that’s a joke.”
Compared Democratic leaders to “slave masters” who make sure that black people who disagree with them are “punished.”
Insisted that Planned Parenthood “has been far more lethal to Black lives than the KKK ever was.”
Predicted that African Americans will “overwhelmingly” vote against Obama as a result of his endorsement of marriage equality and a move of God to “stir the hearts of His people” and push them against the Democrats.
Maintained that the President and First Lady are both Communist sympathizers who dislike America.