Thursday Reads: Stormy Weather, Oklahoma Horror, Senate Nighmare, and More

Woman Reading on a Stone Porch, Winslow Homer

Woman Reading on a Stone Porch, Winslow Homer

Good Morning!!

 

Mother Nature is wreaking havoc again–mostly down in Florida and the Gulf Coast, but also a little further north.

From NPR: 2 Feet Of Rain Causes Massive Flooding In Florida, Alabama

Extreme rainfall in much of the East and parts of the South is causing major problems, with Florida’s Panhandle and southern Alabama, which got more than 2 feet of rain in 24 hours, bearing the brunt of the onslaught….

In Pensacola, Fla., it was the single rainiest day ever recorded, and people climbed to rooftops or into attics to escape the rising floodwaters. NPR’s Debbie Elliot says Pensacola’s high bluffs over the bay undermined the busy scenic highway there.

“Scores of motorists were stranded as water gushed over roads,” she reports on Morning Edition. “At least one person was killed on a flooded roadway. Some homes are now flooded out, and entire neighborhoods are unnavigable. Boats have floated away from docks and are making landfall elsewhere.” ….

 quotes Ben Kitzel, who paddled a kayak with Abby, his black Labrador retriever, on board: “There’s no way this flooding is going away anytime soon,” he told the newspaper.

Late last night a gas explosion in a Pensacola, Florida jail killed two people and injured at more than 150 others. The explosion was likely linked to the flooding.  ABC News:

Escamela County Jail, Pennsacola, FL

Escamela County Jail, Pennsacola, FL

The explosion happened around 11 p.m. at the Escambia County Central Booking and Detention Facility in Pensacola, county spokeswoman Kathleen Dough-Castro said.

There’s no word at this point on whether the victims are inmates or guards, Pensacola Police Officer Maria Landy told ABC News Radio.

The injured – 155 inmates and guards in total – have been taken to area hospitals, most of them with minor injuries. About 600 uninjured prisoners were evacuated by bus and transferred to other detention facilities in the area, Dough-Castro said. No inmates are known to have escaped.

Further north, heavy rains were blamed for landslides in Baltimore, Maryland and Yonkers, New York. From The Weather Channel:

The heaviest rain has ended in the Northeast, but investigators and cleanup crews continue to deal with landslides in two separate states.

The largest of the two happened in Baltimore’s busy Charles Village neighborhood Wednesday, when a retaining buckled on 26th Street, sending cars and mud tumbling 75 feet onto CSX railroad tracks.

Neighbor Dana Moore watched it happen.

It was there and then it wasn’t,” she told the Baltimore Sun.

No one was injured but homes were evacuated so investigators could assess the area’s stability. Structural engineers placed markers along the road to monitor conditions….

The wet weather is also blamed for a mudslide on Metro-North train tracks in Yonkers, New York.

Baltimore landslide

Baltimore landslide

From The Washington Post: Street collapses in Baltimore, washing away cars.

A street in the Charles Village neighborhood of Baltimore collapsed Wednesday, washing away cars and flooding CSX railroad tracks that run below street level.

Ian Brennan, a spokesman for the Baltimore fire department, said no injuries were reported.

One lane of the East 26th Street between North Charles and St. Paul streets collapsed about 4 p.m. and slid down an embankment leading to the tracks below. The cause of the collapse was unclear, but it came on a day that the region wasexperiencing heavy rainstorms.

Several streets were closed late Wednesday afternoon. St. Paul and Charles are major thoroughfares that are generally crowded during both the morning and evening commutes. The neighborhood is largely residential rowhouses. Traffic was reported to be snarled in the area of the collapse and downtown.

Brennan said no houses were damaged, but fire officials said many residents living along East 26th Street were ordered to leave until building inspectors can assess their properties.

Don’t forget the Twisters! Last night there were numerous tornado warnings in the Washington, DC area, and the WaPo had a live blog of all the weather activity.

There were quite a few tornadoes down south over the past week or so,  and meteorologists have noted oddities in recent tornado seasons. Could it be due to climate change? AP via ABC News: Tornado Seasons Lately Have Been Boom or Bust.

Tornado west of Joplin, MO, April 27, 2014

Tornado west of Joplin, MO, April 27, 2014

Something strange is happening with tornadoes lately in the United States and it’s baffling meteorologists. It’s either unusually quiet or deadly active.

Until this weekend’s outbreak, the U.S. had by far the quietest start of the year for tornadoes. By the beginning of last week, there had been only 20 significant tornadoes and none of them that big.

There was also a slow start four years ago. And after a busy January, last year was exceptionally quiet until a May outbreak that included a super-sized tornado that killed 24 people in Moore, Okla….

The 12-month period before last May set a record for the fewest significant tornadoes. But two years earlier, the nation also set a record for the most in 12 months.

Read about the possible causes at the link. And at National Geographic, see photos of destruction from recent tornadoes.

In other news . . .

There’s plenty of discussion in the media today about the horror show that took place in the Oklahoma death chamber on Tuesday. From Tulsa World, an Eyewitness account: A minute-by-minute look at what happened during Clayton Lockett’s execution.

From The National Journal, The ‘Recipe for Failure’ That Led to Oklahoma’s Botched Execution — “Secret suppliers of drugs, changes in lethal-injection protocol, a cavalier attitude among Oklahoma officials, and a national death-penalty system in crisis preceded Tuesday’s failed execution.”

A battle of political wills over Oklahoma’s secretive lethal-injection protocol turned into a gruesome scene of macabre theater Tuesday evening, as the state botched the execution of one inmate and halted that of another scheduled later in the night.

The mishandling reflects the extraordinary and surreptitious lengths a handful of active death-penalty states are now willing to go to in order to continue their executions, capital-punishment opponents say, and represents just the latest episode in a string of disturbing events on Oklahoma’s death row in recent months.

Moreover, Oklahoma’s ongoing morass is a symptom of a national death-penalty system in crisis, a system that is finding it increasingly difficult to procure the drugs necessary to carry out death sentences amid boycotts from European manufacturers and reticence from licensed physicians.

OK death chamber

You all know what happened.

Death-penalty opponents are now calling for Oklahoma to suspend all of its executions for the rest of the year to avoid another botched job. Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, has so far issued only a 14-day stay for Charles Warner, who was also scheduled to be put to death Tuesday night in the same room as Lockett just two hours later.

“Apparently they can conduct their entire investigation in two weeks,” Madeline Cohen, Warner’s defense attorney, told National Journal sarcastically.

In Oklahoma, as well as other places such as Texas and Missouri, states have turned to compounding pharmacies—where products are chemically crafted to fit an individual person’s needs—to produce the lethal cocktails. But these stores, which are not subject to strict oversight by the Food and Drug Administration, don’t want to be publicly associated with executions. In response, states have granted them anonymity, and their identity remains a mystery even to the attorneys representing the death-row inmates.

That couldn’t happen here, writes Bob Egelko of SFGate but California officials are nervous anyway. They should be!

The secrecy-shrouded, botched execution in Oklahoma on Tuesday couldn’t happen the same way in California, where state laws and regulations require public disclosure of the drugs used in lethal injections, where they come from and how they are administered.

But the agony of a dying murderer and other death penalty developments underscore the multiple problems besetting capital punishment in California, where executions have been put on hold until courts find no significant prospect of a nightmare like the one that unfolded Tuesday night.

The state, whose Death Row is the nation’s largest, has not executed anyone since 2006 because of federal court rulings arising from executions in which the prisoner appeared to remain conscious longer than expected, and from ill-defined procedures and inadequate staff training. State officials are making their third attempt to rewrite the rules for lethal injections to include safeguards that would satisfy the courts.

Why don’t these folks just give it up? Life imprisonment is cheaper and a bad enough punishment.

Once again yesterday, Republicans used the filibuster to prevent a vote on increasing the minimum wage to $10.10. From the WaPo: Democrats Assail G.O.P. After Filibuster of Proposal to Raise Minimum Wage.

With the Republican-led filibuster of a Senate proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 on Wednesday, Democrats moved swiftly to frame the vote as an example of the gulf that exists between the two parties on matters of economic fairness and upward mobility.

The question is not just one of money, they said, but of morality. And in doing so the Democrats returned to the themes that were successful for their party and President Obama in 2012 when they convinced swing voters that Democrats were mindful of the best interests of all Americans — not just those who are powerful and wealthy.

Speaking from the White House shortly after the measure was defeated 54 to 42, with 60 votes needed to advance, Mr. Obama admonished Republicans and called on voters to punish them at the polls in November. “If there’s any good news here, it’s that Republicans in Congress don’t get the last word on this issue, or any issue,” Mr. Obama said. “You do, the American people, the voters.”

Despite the Republicans’ efforts to damage the economy and sentence millions of Americans to a lifetime of poverty and struggle, “experts” (meaning Nate Silver) are predicting that the GOP will take control of the Senate in 2014. And other “experts” are arguing with the guy who was almost perfect in 2012. For example,

The Nation Journal’s Josh Kraushaar, Why I Don’t Agree With Nate Silver.

And a response from TPM: Pundit Who Was Dead Wrong In 2012 Is Now Questioning Nate Silver.

A wonky post on the Kraushaar-Silver kerfluffle from Bloomberg: Senate Forecasting: How to Beat Nate Silver.

Besides, Nate Silver thinks Pennsylvania is in the Midwest!

But according to Mike Allen, even Dems think Repubs have a 60% chance of taking over the Senate.

And AB Stoddard of The Hill says lots of Dem candidates are “on thin ice.”

I’ll tell you how I’m dealing with this controversy. I refuse to read the articles. There nothing I can do about it so why get all upset? It’s the Scarlett O’Hara defense. After all, tomorrow is another day.

Finally, a little science news . . .

wallpainting

Phys.org: Ancient Egyptians transported pyramid stones over wet sand.

Physicists from the FOM Foundation and the University of Amsterdam have discovered that the ancient Egyptians used a clever trick to make it easier to transport heavy pyramid stones by sledge. The Egyptians moistened the sand over which the sledge moved. By using the right quantity of water they could halve the number of workers needed. The researchers published this discovery online on 29 April 2014 in Physical Review Letters.

For the construction of the pyramids, the ancient Egyptians had to transport heavy blocks of stone and large statues across the desert. The Egyptians therefore placed the heavy objects on a sledge that workers pulled over the sand. Research from the University of Amsterdam has now revealed that the Egyptians probably made the desert sand in front of the sledge wet. Experiments have demonstrated that the correct amount of dampness in the sand halves the pulling force required.
The physicists placed a laboratory version of the Egyptian sledge in a tray of sand. They determined both the required pulling force and the stiffness of the sand as a function of the quantity of water in the sand. To determine the stiffness they used a rheometer, which shows how much force is needed to deform a certain volume of sand.

Experiments revealed that the required pulling force decreased proportional to the stiffness of the sand. Capillary bridges arise when water is added to the sand. These are small water droplets that bind the  together. In the presence of the correct quantity of water, wet desert sand is about twice as stiff as . A sledge glides far more easily over firm desert sand simply because the sand does not pile up in front of the sledge as it does in the case of dry sand.

The Egyptians were probably aware of this handy trick. A wall painting in the tomb of Djehutihotep clearly shows a person standing on the front of the pulled sledge and pouring  over the sand just in front of it.

Now what stories are you following today? Please share your links in the comment thread.


Sunday Reads: Wow

YouTube/SuperKrazyClips

Good Morning

It sure is strange to click on the computer and the top news stories have headlines like these, I mean look at that picture up top…you would expect a tripod shooting out of the ground at any minute.

The Associated Press: A look at tornadoes that have hit major cities

Tornadoes hit NYC; Violent storms tear through D.C. – USATODAY.com

Tornado Touches Down in NYC – Truthdig

There is video at that USA Today link.

This morning’s post will be on the short side. It is five thirty am, and real life has been kicking me in the ass lately…so truth be told, I am exhausted.

I saved this next link from earlier in the week, because I wanted to share it with my dad…he flies ultralights. Putin leads Siberian crane migration in hang-glider – CBC News

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen here in a motorized hang-glider near a Siberian crane, has drawn both praise and criticism for a number of adventurous stunts. Russian President Vladimir Putin, seen here in a motorized hang-glider near a Siberian crane, has drawn both praise and criticism for a number of adventurous stunts. (Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has piloted a motorized hang-glider to lead a flock of young Siberian white cranes in flight.

Dressed in a white costume meant to imitate an adult crane, Putin took part in a project to teach the endangered birds — which were raised in captivity — to follow the aircraft on their migration to Central Asia.

RIA-Novosti news agency reported that only one crane followed Putin on his first flight, which he attributed to high winds that caused the hang-glider to travel faster than usual. On the second flight, five birds followed Putin, but after a few circles only two had stuck with him for the full 15-minute flight.

Wow, talk about a photo op, if this dude isn’t wresting snow leopards or flashing his muscular abs, he is showing a bird its migratory path south.

Check out how this story is playing this morning:

An octopus? Group sex? Flying with cranes? It’s all in a week’s work for Vladimir Putin – World news, News – Belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Putin’s cranes vs anti-Putin protesters

Putin’s God Squad: The Orthodox Church and Russian Politics – Newsweek and The Daily Beast

Okay, so that last link was more along the lines of Pussy Riot news, but hey…that Putin is something else.

And Putin’s Pussy fiasco…and crane FAIL aren’t the only bits of Russian news trending today. BBC News – Syria: Hillary Clinton rejects Russian plan for UN

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Apec summit 8/9/12
Despite the smiles at the Apec summit, differences on Syria remain between the US and Russia
On to another WOW story, this one is about a big “trial” of the century a couple decades ago. Remember…it involves a white bronco and a bloody glove. Ex-prosecutor claims O.J. Simpson attorney tampered with glove – chicagotribune.com
And one last link, this one actually makes sense to me. Some Ga. Schools Make Mandarin Mandatory : NPR
Sorry for the quick links…maybe things will cool down long enough for me to stop in and say hey later on. Until then, comment section is below…share what you are reading about today.

Friday Evening News Reads: Murphy NC Tornado Damage, Pink Slime, Spiders and Snakes

Good Evening…

Tonight, for your viewing pleasure, I have videos and images full of destruction…disgust…terror…dated perceptions and bad romance.  Those being a collection of tornado damage, pink slime, wolf spiders, early 70’s Dolly Parton and a song about Women’s Suffrage.

First, we have the debris and destruction part of this evening’s post. I went to Murphy, North Carolina today and shot some video of the damage the town received after being hit by a F2 tornado on March 3, 2012. This town is just a spit from my old house near the border of Georgia and North Carolina. The town may sound familiar to you because it was made famous by Olympic Park and abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolf...who hid out in the mountains around the town for six years, before being discovered rummaging through a trash dumpster.

My video is short so take a look:

Earlier today, a local Atlanta station had a crew shoot a story about the tornado that hit last week,  a lot of the same things I video taped are in their report…which does explain what you are looking at and interviews some residents and owners of the damaged buildings.

Transcript of the news video here:

- Residents in Murphy, N.C. are still picking up the pieces after a tornado touched down last Friday.

The twister destroyed homes and businesses throughout the town.

Wayne’s Feed Store, a somewhat local institution in the mountain town since 1951, was blown away.

Reggie Cox lost his house, but said he was grateful that his family — including his three children– are safe.

“It was scary, you know winds, debris,” said Cox.

The EF-2 tornado tore through town with winds of up to 125 miles an hour — fast enough to drive a four by four post through the side of a station wagon.

“We had over 100 homes that suffered some type of damage. We had eight that were destroyed,’ said Cherokee County, N.C. spokesman Doug Clement.

Cox’s uncle’s house was one of the those totaled, where a week later a smoke detector was still sounding the alarm.

“They just left about five to seven minutes before it hit,” said Cox. “I don’t think anybody could have survived it.”

Rebuilding has begun, bringing with it a sense of recovery.

“We feel like we are on the road to recovery. Mountain people are survivors. Well indeed make it, I indeed assure you of that,” said Mayor Bill Hughes.

While the storm caused millions of dollars in damage, there were no reports of injuries.

The same storm system did damage in Haralson and Paulding Counties

Now… I bring you the disgusting portion of the evening. I have another video for you to watch, it is from a segment of ABC News last night, and it is revolting!

Is Pink Slime in the Beef at Your Grocery Store? – ABC News

As seen in the movie Food Inc., the low-grade trimmings come from the most contaminated parts of the cow and were once only used in dog food and cooking oil. But because of BPI’s treatment of the trimmings — simmering them in low heat, separating fat and tissue using a centrifuge and spraying them with ammonia gas to kill germs — the United States Department of Agriculture says it’s safe to eat.

The company calls the final product “Finely Textured Lean Beef.” It is flash frozen and boxed. Foshee says it is more like gelatin and not nutritious as ground beef because the protein comes mostly from connective tissue, not muscle meat.

“[It will] fill you up, but won’t do any good,” Foshee said.

ABC News was flooded with questions from concerned viewers following last night’s report on pink slime.

Many, like Dale Rittenhouse, wanted to know where beef with pink slime was sold.

“What stores use pink slime?” Rittenhouse wrote.

So ABC News producers traveled across the country to the meat section to see if its in the ground beef they sell. Most couldn’t tell us for sure.

“There is no way to even know from labels or even from the butchers here whether it contains pink slime,” said ABC News producer Candace Smith in New York.

“The guy at the meat counter said that he had been getting the same question all day,” said Janice McDonald in Atlanta.

ABC News emailed the top 10 grocery chains in America. Only Publix, Costco, HEB and Whole Foods responded, saying they don’t use pink slime. No word yet from the rest.

Geez, we don’t have any of those pink slime free grocery stores in Banjoville…ABC has an update on Where You Can Get ‘Pink-Slime’-Free Beef

At most stores it was impossible to tell for sure whether the beef contained pink slime. At one store there was no way to know from the labels and the butchers did not know the answer.

ABC News emailed the top 10 grocery chains in America and seven responded:

1. Safeway
“We rely on the federal government to help guide us on food safety issues. USDA has been clear in its judgment that Lean Finely Textured Ground Beef is a safe source of nutrition. However, we are reviewing the matter at this time.”

2. Ahold (Stop & Shop/Giant)
“Stores operated by the divisions of Ahold USA do carry ground beef made with Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT), also called Finely Textured Beef (FTB). Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT) is beef and is absolutely safe for consumption. To make the product, beef companies use beef trimmings, which are the small cuts of beef that remain when larger cuts are trimmed down. These trimmings are USDA-inspected, wholesome cuts of beef. This process has been an industry standard for almost 20 years. Alternatives to the conventional ground beef supply, in the form of Certified Angus Beef and Nature’s Promise ground beef products, are available to customers in stores across all of the divisions of Ahold USA. These products do not include the use of BLBT. Customers are being encouraged to ask any meat associate should they have any questions or would like to be directed to meat that does not include Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings. Our labeling is in compliance with USDA regulations. BLBT is USDA tested and approved ground beef and therefore does not require labeling.”

3. Costco
Does not use pink slime.
“Anything that we sell at Costco we want to explain it’s origins, and I personally don’t know how to explain trim treated with ammonia in our ground beef,” Craig Wilson, vice president of quality assurance for Costco, told ABC News. “I just don’t know how to explain that. I’m not that smart.”

4. Publix
“We have never allowed the use of LFTB (pink slime) in our meat. It’s 100 percent ground beef with no LFTB.”

5. H-E-B
“All our ground beef sold at H-E-B is 100% pure with no additives.”

6. Whole Foods
Does not use pink slime.

7. Kroger
“We do not use finely textured beef in our fresh ground beef. … We are routinely presented the finely textured beef as an option, but have always refused.”

A viewer, Miles Herbert, wanted to know, “Is there any evidence that organic meat contains this pink slim?”

It turns out there isn’t. If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it’s pure meat with no filler.

There is a petition at Change.org  Health Petition: Tell USDA to STOP Using Pink Slime in School Food! …according to an article in the LA Times, Pink slime: In the supermarket and school lunches

Texas mom Bettina Siegel has a petition going at Change.org to get the additive out of school lunches.

[...]

Meanwhile, over at the Cattle Network, American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle  defended the process as well as the product in an article Thursday, saying the “lean beef trimmings” were “absolutely edible” and that using them ensured that “lean, nutritious, safe beef” did not go to waste.

Boyle goes on to say that media reports create an inaccurate picture.  An opinion piece on the site refers to “pink slime” as a “headline writer’s dream.”

It would indeed seem great fodder for a snarky British tabloid headline, considering that in the United Kingdom lean beef trimmings are banned for human consumption.

Damn, so the UK has banned this “stuff” for human consumption…funny, they banned the TSA’s nude screening cancer x-rays as well…I guess their government officials do not have “connections” to lobbyist that promote the TSA scanners, or get paid over a million dollars by the company that makes that pink slime, like  the under-secretary who approved of this ghastly crap. Yeah, check out what she actually said in regards to what makes this “filler” meat:

“The under secretary said, ‘it’s pink, therefore it’s meat,’” Custer told ABC News.

ABC News has learned the woman who made the decision to OK the mix is a former undersecretary of agriculture, Joann Smith. It was a call that led to hundred of millions of dollars for Beef Products Inc., the makers of pink slime.

When Smith stepped down from the USDA in 1993, BPI’s principal major supplier appointed her to its board of directors, where she made at least $1.2 million over 17 years.

Smith did not return ABC News’ calls for comment and BPI said it had nothing to do with her appointment. The USDA said while her appointment was legal at the time, under current ethics rules Smith could not have immediately joined the board.

Alrighty then, I got some terror for you this evening as well. Do you all remember those floods in Australia last year? Thousands of spiders blanket Australian farm after escaping flood Take a look at some creepy photographs of the wolf spider.

What appears to be snow is actually spider webs blanketing an Australian farm. (Daniel Munoz/Reuters)

Thousands of normally solitary wolf spiders have blanketed an Australian farm after fleeing a rising flood.

Reuters reports that the flooding has forced more than 8,000 Australian (human) residents from their homes in the city of Wagga Wagga in New South Wales. But for every temporarily displaced person, it appears several spiders have moved in to fill the void.

“What we’ve seen here is a type of wolf spider,” Owen Seeman, an arachnid expert at Queensland Museum, told Reuters. “They are trying to hide away (from the waters).”

The Australian Museum’s entomology collections manager Graham Milledge told Reuters that there’s even a term for the phenomenon, “ballooning,” and that it is typical behavior for spiders forced to escape rising waters.

Click image for more photos

I don’t like spiders or snakes…you fool, you fool…
Y’all know that tune?
I remember listening to this song when I was a kid, the video is from 1974…it is very annoying, but check out Dolly Parton…no big hair and no high heels. Oh yeah, this is the part I described up top as “dated perceptions.” It is really more like obnoxious stereo-types but you will get my meaning when you watch it.
The video does present a nice contrast to the last video I have for you tonight, which rounds out our “Bad Romance…”
Hope you enjoyed that wild ride, I will catch y’all in the comments later tonight. There is a strawberry shortcake with my name all over it in the kitchen…and it is calling me. (Well, it is either that or I really am going off the deep end.)

Can We Admit That What We’re Seeing Is More Than . . . ‘Weather?’

These are some images from my neck of the woods from this past weekend’s round of ‘weather.’

Now granted, I’m not a native of the southeast—South Jersey girl here.  But the locals tell me that vertical winds are a hellva lot different than tornado touchdowns, particularly when you’re living in hill country, in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains.  Locally, this time we were fortunate—some downed branches and yard mess.  The major damage was to the east and south of us.  Last year?  Not so much. 

In fact, last year’s April storm front in the southeast produced 280+ tornadoes in 3 days.  Historic, the headlines screamed.

If this were merely a local event, we could chalk it up to bad luck and Mother Nature in a cranky mood.  But consider that earth-orbiting satellites have been gathering scientific data not previously available, giving us the ‘big picture’, data on a global scale. The following evidence has been accumulated:

  • Sea levels are, in fact, rising, the rate of the last decade nearly double that of the last century.
  • Global temperatures are on the rise, increasing since the 1970s with the 10 hottest recorded temperatures within the last 12 years.
  • The oceans have been warming since 1969, measureable temperatures increasing in the top surfaces [2300 ft] and the acidification of the oceans has increased by 30% since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Glaciers are retreating, the Arctic sea ice is shrinking and the ice sheets of Greenland [36-60 cubic miles per year between 2002-2006] and the Antarctic [36 cubic miles per year between 2002-2005] have declined.

According to NASA data, there are certain facts beyond dispute:

The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century. Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many JPL-designed instruments, such as AIRS. Increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.

Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in solar output, in the Earth’s orbit, and in greenhouse gas levels. They also show that in the past, large changes in climate have happened very quickly, geologically-speaking: in tens of years, not in millions or even thousands.

We can take the facts and data of NASA, their orbiting satellites and sensors or we can fall back on the word of say . . . a Rick Santorum, who has proven himself such an expert on other subjects.  According to Santorum in a speech in Colorado:

[Climate change is] an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who, in my opinion, saw this as an opportunity to create a panic and a crisis for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life. … I for one never bought the hoax. I for one understand just from science that there are one hundred factors that influence the climate. To suggest that one minor factor of which man’s contribution is a minor factor in the minor factor is the determining ingredient in the sauce that affects the entire global warming and cooling is just absurd on its face. And yet we have politicians running to the ramparts — unfortunately politicians who happen to be running for the Republican nomination for president — who bought into man-made global warming and bought into cap-and-trade.

We can argue the merits of cap and trade but I find it comical that Santorum is running around talking about Satan on one hand—a Santorum absolute–while denying climate change on the other.  This is a ‘don’t trust your lying eyes’ moment.  And certainly don’t trust science.  He continued with:

We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit not for the Earth’s benefit … We are the intelligent beings that know how to manage things and through that course of science and discovery if we can be better stewards of this environment, then we should not let the vagaries of nature destroy what we have helped create.

Huh?  I’m not sure what this rambling statement is intended to mean, other than we shouldn’t let nature clue us in that we’re skating on the edge, pushing the health of the planet and its inhabitants to the max.  Full steam ahead with those extractions, boys!

Of course, Santorum is not alone in this type of denial.  Rush Limbaugh, who has had his fair share of attention in the last few days [not of the good kind], had this to say after declaring climate change a ‘hoax’:

I happen to believe in God. I believe in a loving, brilliant – I know that this – there is no way, I don’t want to sound simpleton here, but there is not – it is not possible that we would be created by a creator in such a way that we would destroy by virtue of our created existence our own planet and environment. It just doesn’t compute and yet that’s what these people are trying to tell us. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2/2/11

All righty then!  God, a loving brilliant God, would not allow us to destroy ourselves.  Scrap all that science and data, the fat man speaketh.

Beginning to see a pattern here?  We can believe in myth—Satan’s going to getcha and/or a benevolent, personal God-creator, who would never allow Man to be stupid enough to destroy His/Her creation.  No problem then.  Keep spewing those toxins into the air, don’t worry about contaminating our water supply and . . . heat?  What heat?

Despite the relentless war on climate data in particular and science in general, it turns out the public is beginning to catch on to all the corporate-friendly tap dancing.  After a dip in public sentiment about Climate Change and the mass investment in misinformation, Americans are using their powers of observation and taking heed to the mounting evidence.  According to the Brookings Institute National Survey, Fall 2011, a strong majority [62%] of the American public now believes that global warming is real and poses a threat to global security.  Observation to local effects of warming temperatures and world-wide reports of floods, droughts, freakishly warm temperatures, melting ice sheets, ocean acidification and the effects on wildlife and fauna are slowly turning opinion.

We cannot wait for a benevolent God-spirit to save us.  We’ll need to do that for ourselves, sooner rather than later.  Because we won’t get a second chance.  As Naomi Klien recently stated any real shift towards climate sustainability means a shift in the entire free-market ethos that depends on continual growth, massive extraction and profit-making over people.

. . . you can’t do it all with carbon markets and offsetting. You have to really seriously regulate corporations and invest in the public sector. And we need to build public transport systems and light rail and affordable housing along transit lines to lower emissions. The market is not going to step up to this challenge. We must do more: rebuild levees and bridges and the public sphere, because we saw in Katrina what happens when weak infrastructure clashes with heavy weather—it’s catastrophe. These climate deniers aren’t crazy—their worldview is under threat. If you take climate change seriously, you do have to throw out the free-market playbook.

In the end, so many of these pressing issues are related to a flawed economic and political model—the current corporate state.  It will be up to us to reimagine a new system or as Peter Barnes suggested in ‘Capitalism 3.0,’  it’s time to upgrade.

Because there’s no place to run or hide.  Earth is the only home we have. Reclaiming the commons isn’t optional; it’s a must.  And personally?  I’m just not into wicked tornadoes.

UPDATE: The Red Cross is now asking for donations for storm ravaged areas in the Southeast.  Contact your local offices for information. Or go here.


Sunday Reads: It ain’t over til the fat man is fired! #FlushRush

Good Morning!

Let me just say hello to the many new readers here at Sky Dancing. So glad to see new commentators and folks who like the blog…from all of us on the Front Page, we are happy you are here!

Can you believe it is the first Sunday in March? The days are flying by, and instead of moving forward, it seems we keep moving back. Well, let me make that more clear…the men are moving forward and the women are being pushed back.

I just finished the book Nuns Behaving Badly, and although it was interesting to read about the scandalous nuns, what got me most was the reactions of the Cardinals, Bishops, and the Pope. Some of the language used is exactly the same as the stuff that comes out of Santorum and the other wacko big mouths. (BTW, the book itself starts out much better than it finishes. Meh…)

Anyway, you must have already heard about the Rush “apology.” Dakinikat wrote a post on it last night, I love the title:

Fat Misogynistic Drug Felon makes Faux Apology « Sky Dancing

Here is the apology in full:

For over 20 years, I have illustrated the absurd with absurdity, three hours a day, five days a week.  In this instance, I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. What happened to personal responsibility and accountability? Where do we draw the line? If this is accepted as the norm, what will follow? Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit?In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.

I played around with the apology and made a word cloud from Wordle:

Wordle: Rush Fake Apology

I know it is very small. Click the image to see it larger...

Funny how sorry is not the largest word on that picture. Oh wait, the word “sorry” is not even in the word cloud.  And if you are looking for the word “apologize” it is there, underneath the word Fluke.

Ugh…And Rush still gets it wrong in his apology. H/T Historiann from Reclusive Leftist:  Tax Payers don’t pay for the contraception!

  1. Taxpayers aren’t paying for Sandra Fluke’s healthcare or anybody else’s healthcare at Georgetown. It’s a private insurance plan and the people who are paying the premiums are the ones footing the bill. This is true with all employer-sponsored plans. And anything contributed by the employer is part of the employee’s compensation. (Student plans also fall into this category: the students pay premiums, and any subsidization by the university is part of student aid and ultimately covered by tuition.)
  2. Insurance works by providing a pool of coverage for everybody in the plan. My insurance plan, to which I contribute substantial premiums, is right now paying for some guy’s Viagra as well as for somebody’s prostate exam, even though I personally have no use for those things. That’s just how it works.
  3. Insurance normally covers all kinds of medical expenses connected with sex and other voluntary activities. Bill O’Reilly complains that “men’s activities” aren’t covered, but they are. If men want Viagra so they can have sex, insurance covers it. If they get gonorrhea or syphilis or crabs from having sex, insurance covers it. If they get AIDS from having sex, insurance covers it. If they want to go skiing and need a cardiac stress test first, insurance covers it. If they need Diamox so they can go skiing in Aspen, insurance covers it. If they break their legs skiing, insurance covers it. If they need Simvastatin to lower their cholesterol because they won’t stop eating fatty food and red meat, insurance covers it. If they suffer a heart attack from all that fatty food and red meat, insurance covers it. If they need a nicotine patch to quit smoking, insurance covers it. If they get lung cancer because they won’t quit smoking, insurance covers it. And on and on and on.Does this mean that men are being paid to have sex, to ski in Aspen, to eat sausage, to smoke or not smoke? No.

Women’s contraception is the only medical treatment associated with normal human activity that is treated as some kind of weird off-the-wall thing that shouldn’t be covered by insurance. The only one. And we know why.

I will say one thing, the campaign against that fat basturd’s advertising sponsors worked. This is the key to getting in some good shots in this war on women. I firmly believe that the way to choke off the religious right’s balls on these anti-woman issues is through the only thing they care more about than clumps of personhood…and that is their bank accounts. Cut the tax exemptions and other “faith-based” funding, get rid of all of it! That is the only way they will feel the wrath of the women they are trying to control and dominate.  (And I want to mention not just the men, remember those women who are also vying for asshole of the week status as well.)

This weekend Kirsten Powers had some annoying tweets :

She made a point to clarify her position on Rush Limbaugh’s slut remark:

So I made sure to read her post this week, I wanted to see what she would say about all this…Rush Limbaugh Isn’t the Only Media Misogynist – The Daily Beast

And she is right…but as readers of the blog know, we have always condemned the misogynistic talk show host and writers she has listed in her column. Anyway, from the link:

Did you know there is a war on women?

Yes, it’s true. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts. There have been boycotts by people on the left who are outraged that these guys still have jobs. Oh, wait. Sorry, that never happened.

I personally won’t watch any of those shows…and I really can’t stand Taibbi.

Boycotts are reserved for people on the right like Rush Limbaugh, who finally apologized Saturday for calling a 30-year-old Georgetown Law student, Sandra Fluke a “slut” after she testified before congress about contraception. Limbaugh’s apology was likely extracted in order to stop the departure of any more advertisers, who were rightly under pressure from liberal groups outraged by the comments.

Let it be shouted from the rooftops that Rush Limbaugh should not have called Ms. Fluke a “slut” or as he added later, a “prostitute” who should post her sex tapes. It’s unlikely that his apology will assuage the people on a warpath for his scalp, and after all, why should it? He spent days attacking a woman as a “slut” and “prostitute” and refused to relent. Now because he doesn’t want to lose advertisers, he apologizes. What’s in order is something more like groveling—and of course a phone call to Ms. Fluke—if you ask me.

I agree with her on the groveling and the phone call to Sandra Fluke…however, those boycotts are also utilized by the right extremely well too…how many times have we seen TV shows, celebrities, politicians and presidents cave because of the squawking from the right wing wheels.

Click the link to read the examples she give of the blatant and disgusting sexist and misogynistic things that Matthews, Olbermann, Maher, Taibbi and Schultz have said or written. (She gives a lot of memorable Hillary examples I might add.) We could list all the other media, whether it be news networks or newspapers or magazines that have shit loads of anti-women writers, anchors, host, etc. On both the right and left…and they all should be held accountable for the sexist crap they say or write.

…Many feminist blogs now document attacks on women on the left and the right including Jezebel, Shakesville, and the Women’s Media Center (which was founded by Gloria Steinem.) But when it comes to high-profile campaigns to hold these men accountable—such as that waged against Limbaugh—the real fury seems reserved only for conservatives while the men on the left get a wink and a nod as long as they are carrying water for the liberal cause.

After all, if Limbaugh’s outburst is part of the “War on Women,” then what is the routine misogyny of liberal media men?

It’s time for some equal opportunity accountability. Without it, the fight against media misogyny will continue to be perceived as a proxy war for the Democratic Party, not a fight for fair treatment of women in the public square.

So I will say to Powers, check that…all routine misogyny in the media…both the liberal and conservative needs to be called out.

(I realize that I am repeating myself, but I am proud that I can honestly say we do call it out here on Sky Dancing. And we don’t limit it to the right or left male misogynist either…we hit those women misogynistic assholes as well.  No mistake about that!)

Moving right along….

The storms over the weekend have killed dozens of people. The last figure I saw was 39…but that may have changed.

March tornadoes: One day there was a town; the next day it was gone – CNN.com

“What we know is we’ve got complete destruction. We’re going to deal with it the best we can,” Sgt. Jerry Goodin of the Indiana State Police told CNN affiliate WISH-TV.

There a lots of videos and photographs of the tornadoes and the damage at that CNN link.

One story in particular is both heartbreaking and amazing at the same time.

Tornado Survivor: Young Girl Found in Field Amid Dead Family Members

In a field outside of a flattened home rescuers found a young child laying among the bodies of her family who were killed by a powerful tornado.

The unidentified 2-year-old girl was found in New Pekin, Ind., and taken to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky., where she is in critical condition. The girl has one family member, who was not identified, with her at the hospital as she recuperates from her injuries, said Cis Gruebbel, chief of nursing at the hospital.

Washington County Sheriff Claude Combs told ABC News that the girl was discovered near the bodies of her 21-year-old mother and two younger siblings, ages 2 years and 2 months old. The body of a 20-year-old male was also recovered from the field.

Indiana Tornado Outbreak 2012: Baby Found Alone In Field After Storms

A hospital spokeswoman says a toddler found alive in an Indiana field after violent storms is the sole survivor of her immediate family.

Cis Gruebbel is a spokeswoman for Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Ky. Gruebbel says the toddler is in critical condition.

Washington County, Ind., Coroner Rondale Brishaber said the girl’s mother, father, 2-month-old sister and 2-year-old brother all died in the storm.

We had some damage just north of Banjoville. In fact the town of Murphy, NC is just on the north side of the mountain where we used to live. Some video below:

Tornado causes damage in Cherokee County

Homes Destroyed By Storms In North Carolina

However, this image from Rome, GA pretty much says it all, via Susie Madrak: March comes in like a lion….

A friend from Rome, Ga sent this to me. This photograph was taken during last night’s storm.

It is getting to be a long post, so I will move along quickly with the rest of the news round-up after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »