Friday Reads

Good Morning!

We passed an ominous milestone recently. Have we crossed the Rubicon with climate change?

Monitoring stations in the Arctic have confirmed atmospheric carbon dioxide measurements exceeding 400 parts per million (ppm), far past the acknowledged safe limit of 350 ppm.

Global levels of carbon dioxide—the most prevalent heat-trapping gas—are around 395 ppm, but Arctic levels signal where global trends are headed, and scientists are confident that levels will soon eclipse this ominous milestone worldwide.

According to the Washington Post, Jim Butler, the global monitoring director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Lab in Boulder, Colorado, said “The fact that it’s 400 is significant. It’s just a reminder to everybody that we haven’t fixed this and we’re still in trouble.”

Preceding the Industrial Revolution, global levels of carbon dioxide were believed to be around 275 ppm. The meteoric rise in carbon pollution is mainly attributed to fossil fuel dependence, such as burning coal and oil for gasoline. Forest depletion and oceanic biodiversity loss complicate matters by diminishing nature’s ability to absorb and repurpose carbon dioxide.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, former Vice President Al Gore wrote via email, “The news today, that some stations have measured concentrations above 400 ppm in the atmosphere, is further evidence that the world’s political leaders—with a few honorable exceptions—are failing catastrophically to address the climate crisis. History will not understand or forgive them.”

The UK Guardian reports that 28 top US corporations are working hard to block any action meant to prevent or stop climate change.

An analysis of 28 Standard & Poor 500 publicly traded companies by researchers from the Union of Concerned Scientists exposed a sharp disconnect in some cases between PR message and less visible activities, with companies quietly lobbying against climate policy or funding groups which work to discredit climate science.

The findings are in line with the recent expose of the Heartland Institute. Over the years, the ultra-conservative organisation devoted to discrediting climate science received funds from a long list of companies which had public commitments to sustainability.

The disconnect in this instance was especially stark in the researchers’ analysis of oil giants ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil, and the electricity company DTE energy.

But even General Electric Company, which ranks climate change as a pillar of its corporate policy on its website, had supported trade groups and thinktanks that misrepresent climate science, the researchers found.

Caterpillar Inc, despite its public commitment to sustainability, also worked behind the scenes to block action on climate change. The company spent more than $16m (£10.3m) on lobbying during the study, with nearly five times as much of that spent lobbying to block climate action than on pro-environmental policies.

Other big corporate players were fairly consistent with their public image. Nike and NRG Energy Inc lobbied in support of climate change policy and supported conservation groups.

Peabody Energy Corporation, which produces coal, was ranked the most obstructionist of any of the companies. It spent more than $33m to lobby Congress against environmental measures and supporting trade groups and think tanks which spread disinformation about climate science, the researchers found.

“The thing we found most surprising in doing this research is just how all 28 companies expressed concern about climate change,” said Francesca Grifo who heads the UCS scientific integrity programme. “But when we took a deeper look we found that a lot of the actions they took weren’t connected to the messages.”

The result of the disconnect was growing confusion about climate science, the researchers said. That made it more difficult to push for environmental protections.

Republicans continue to chip away at abortion rights. The House is zeroing in on “sex selection” abortions.  These are not a big issue in this country but could be a big issue for Republicans because the rhetoric almost always centers on Asian countries in a way that’s offensive to Americans of Asian heritage.

Republicans long ago lost African American voters. They are well on their way to losing Latinos. And if Trent Franks prevails, they may lose Asian Americans, too.

The Arizona Republican’s latest antiabortion salvo to be taken up by the House had a benign name — the Prenatal Non­discrimination Act — and a premise with which just about everybody agrees: that a woman shouldn’t abort a fetus simply because she wants to have a boy rather than a girl.

The problem with Franks’s proposal is that it’s not entirely clear there is a problem. Sex-selection abortion is a huge tragedy in parts of Asia, but to the extent it’s happening in this country, it’s mostly among Asian immigrants.

For Franks, who previously tried to pass legislation limiting abortions among African Americans and residents of the District of Columbia, it was the latest attempt to protect racial minorities from themselves.

“The practice of sex selection is demonstrably increasing here in the United States, especially but not exclusively in the Asian immigrant community,” he announced on the House floor Wednesday afternoon. He quoted a study finding that male births “for Chinese, Asian Indians and Koreans clearly exceeded biological variation.”

The Bill even has one of those weird Republican names like offensive missiles called “peace keepers.”  It’s called PRENDA or Prenatal NonDiscrimination Act.

The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 3541, was defeated in a 246-168 vote. While that’s a clear majority of the House, Republicans called up the bill under a suspension of House rules, which limits debate and requires a two-thirds majority vote to pass. In this case, it would have required more support from Democrats.

Twenty Democrats voted for the bill, while seven Republicans opposed it. The bill would have needed 30 more yeas to pass.
Suspension votes are normally used for noncontroversial bills, but the GOP-backed measure was clearly controversial. Republicans have occasionally put controversial bills on the suspension calendar in order to highlight that Democrats oppose certain policies.

Boehner said he will try again later.  So much for the Republican lies about being all about the jobs.

Just when you think the state Republican groups can’t get more extreme you find out something like this item in Pennsylvania.

Republicans in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania have elected Steve Smith, a lifelong white supremacist with close ties to neo-Nazi groups and groups like Aryan Nations, to the county’s GOP Committee.

The elections, which took place in late April, were certified by the committee two weeks ago, and Smith notified supporters of his victory last week by posting a message to the online forum White News Now.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has documented Smith’s participation with known skinhead organizations like Keystone State Skinheads, (now Keystone United) which he co-founded in 2001. And his racist activism extends far beyond violent rhetoric as well, into actual violence:

In March 2003, he and two other KSS members were arrested in Scranton for beating up Antoni Williams, a black man, using stones and chunks of pavement. Smith pleaded guilty to terrorist threats and ethnic intimidation and received a 60-day sentence and probation.

Smith is also an active member of local Tea Party groups, a network that he used to gain support for his bid for the committee seat. According to the SPLC, Smith referred to the Tea Party as “fertile grounds for our activists.”

Our economy continues to have some of the highest poverty rates in the developed world.  Seven million kids and mothers are in poverty. Georgetown Law Professor and advisor to the Kennedys and Bill Clinton explains why this is so devastating to our country’s future as well.

Peter Edelman: Extreme poverty means having an income of less than half the poverty line. That’s less than $9,000 a year for a family of three. The stunning fact is that in 2010, there were 20.5 million people who had incomes that low. And perhaps even more disturbing — 6 million people have no income other than food stamps (SNAP). That means an income at one third of the poverty line or less than $6,000 a year for a family of three. You can’t live on that.

So, these are people who are really in extreme trouble. In fact, many of them will get out of extreme poverty fairly quickly, and that makes it even more inexcusable not to have a basic safety net for them when their income dips so low. How do they survive? We don’t really know. They obviously have to have the support in one way or another of family and friends– if they have such networks. They sleep on couches, they move around a lot. If they can find casual work to get a little extra money, they do. But they are in a very tough place. The percentage of people in extreme poverty has doubled since 1976, so it is getting worse.

Public benefits, which are not counted in official poverty figures insofar as they’re not paid in cash, make the situation a little better, but not much. The fact that there could be 6 million people who only have food stamps is because of another fact: that welfare –Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) —  is basically unavailable in many states in the country. In Wyoming, for example, 4% of poor children in the entire state — that’s 644 people including the mothers — receive cash assistance. In 19 states, fewer than 20% of poor children are receiving cash assistance. So that’s how you can have 6 million people living only on food stamps. About 7 million of those in extreme poverty are mothers and children. We can only imagine the damage that this does to the children. It really is a crisis, and very few people are aware of it.

So those are the stories that I’m following this week.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

44 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. ecocatwoman says:

    Happy, happy Friday, or not so much. Sadly, I do think we’ve passed the point of no return on climate change. It may not be too late to save our planet, but it’s going to look quite a bit different.

    One point, on the sex-selection issue: once again women are being blamed. Traditionally, around the world, it’s been men/husbands who wanted a son over a daughter. Must carry on the sacred name, the legacy. Girl children are a “burden” in many countries, which is why several countries marry them off as mere children.

    The issue of poverty is beyond tragic. It’s just another piece of evidence that America is moving ever faster to becoming a “third world” nation. Wealth inequality, the 1% vs the 99% – do we really need more evidence?

    I saw a story about Heartland losing donors and possibly closing its doors. That’s a good thing. The disgraced climate scientist who released internal documents from Heartland had been accused of forging a document. That document has been determined to be valid & not a forgery.

    And in case you missed it, both Amazon & Walmart have abandoned ALEC. May the Koch Bros be hung in effigy.

    Thanks for pulling all of these important items together for us, kat.

  2. ecocatwoman says:

    Dick Beals, died at the age of 85. He was the voice of Speedy Alka Seltzer among others during my youth.,0,3330858.story

  3. ecocatwoman says:

    Further evidence that Sharia Law tactics are coming to America, via the a Republican spokesman: As we know, many Islamists throw acid on woman & girls either because they have refused a marriage proposal or the young girls are simply walking to school. But, there is no War on Woman in America. Yeah, right.

    • dakinikat says:

      What you are talking about has nothing to do with sharia in the same manner that jesus fid not approve of priestly pedophilia when he was quoted as saying let the little children come to me

      • ecocatwoman says:

        You are correct. However, it seems to me that those who yell the loudest about their devotion to their religion are the ones who are attacking women, both verbally & physically. Women, to them, are violating their interpretation of their religious texts. For me, at least, a theocracy under any religion pretty much looks the same – women in bondage to men.

        • dakinikat says:

          Yes. That part is true. Sharia law dictates that every business and person give a huge percentage of their income to support widows and orphans. Jesus hung around with prostitutes and made them his friends. Buddha gave his women followers equal status with his male followers. Institutionalized religion is a tool of the patriarchy. Many religions are interpreted through cultural lenses. Treatment of women is bad when men are in power. Religion is one more tool manipulated by powerful men. I just can’t stand that the US seems to single out Islam when it’s obvious American Christianity does the same damned thing. So does Judaism in Israel. Look at the sex segregated buses! It’s institutionalized religion which is the form of slavery and it takes many forms!

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    While waiting for my morning coffee to brew I turned on the news and watched Mittens defend the Boston protesters who were shouting at Axelrod’s speech.

    Giggling like a loon, Mittens comments that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” is indicative of what a jerk this man is.

    A simple minded oaf who should never, under any circumstances, be trusted with the ability to launch a nuclear attack with the words “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”.

    His “ha ha” tag to anything he says is beyond annoying. Whether he knows it or not (and my instinct tells me not) he has just invited more and more interruptions from the Obama camp to offset that dumb remark in appearing to condone this stuff.

    A smart politician would know enough to distance himself from those who interrupt the opposition event but this candidate just issued the green light.

    Apparently he is quite comfortable with his “neener neener” approach taken from the pages of the Trump handbook of getting even with your “enemies”.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The hilarious part of this is that Romney actually thought that the Obama campaign would send protesters to his idiotic speech at Solyndra. I think Obama is pretty confident of winning California AND Mass., so why would they bother?

  5. bostonboomer says:

    The big news for me this morning is that Eric Holder has ordered Rick Scott to stop purging voters and in addition a federal judge has blocked Florida’s restrictive voter law.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Thank god for small favors.

      About time Holder exercised some authority.

      What a different nation we may have been looking at if this administration has held the former one up to a bright light of accountability.

      They needn’t have even bothered to send them all to jail, just expose these people for what they but instead they have risen up and basically holds the nation hostage as they plan their next round of “takeover” by any means available.

      The GOP may be evil in its intent but the Dems are the biggest woosies for allowing them to get away with the stuff they do.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I totally agree.

      • RalphB says:

        What Pat said!

      • Are We About to See Another Stolen Presidential Election? | Mother Jones

        Vote suppression has been with us for centuries, of course. Jim Crow was built on it. Very famous and important Americans have participated in it, including former Chief Justice William Rehnquist. But according to a 2004 report by the Center for Voting Rights it wasn’t until the Jesse Jackson campaign in the 1980s that the Republicans began to organize nationally:

        Yup, and it will keep happening too.

      • from the link:

        Yet with another close election looming, Florida Republicans have returned to their voter-scrubbing ways. The latest purge comes on the heels of a trio of new voting restrictions passed by Florida Republicans last year, disenfranchising 100,000 previously eligible ex-felons who’d been granted the right to vote under GOP Governor Charlie Crist in 2008; shutting down non-partisan voter registration drives; and cutting back on early voting. The measures, the effect of which will be to depress Democratic turnout in November, are similar to voting curbs passed by Republicans in more than a dozen states, on the bogus pretext of combating “voter fraud” but with the very deliberate goal of shaping the electorate to the GOP’s advantage before a single vote has been cast.

        The whole story is shocking in its brazenness.

        I have long wondered why the Democrats haven’t seemed to take this seriously. It’s been happening in slow motion, but it’s been happening in plain sight. It wasn’t just the 2000 election, although that should have been enough for the Democratic party to launch a full scale defense against this sort of connivance. And it carried on throughout the following decade in elections throughout the country. You’ll recall that even the US Attorney firing scandal was largely about their failure to flout election laws in favor of Republicans. Better late than never, the Democrats seemed to wake up this week:

      • NW Luna says:

        They get to pick and choose which laws apply to them, apparently. Arrogant delusionists.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Scott could be indicted for this, if the Obama administration has any guts at all.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Paul Krugman describes the paradox of thrift to two idiots … one conservative MP and a financier in the UK

    They evidently want the confidence fairy to appear over there.

    Go watch this!!!

  7. I’ve got two articles that I think are very good, first Dolan Still Silent – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast

    Why this is not being covered on by the msm is no surprise to me but wow:

    A reader writes:

    Let’s not lose track of the context of the scandal in Milwaukee. Dolan was sent there after his predecessor, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, began to privately acknowledge that he was a homosexual, had not been celibate, and had made payments totaling nearly a half million dollars to one of his male lovers – hush payments. The silence money practice was at the very heard of the scandal engulfing the Milwaukee archepiscopate. So the new evidence that Dolan okayed payments to pedophile priests, presumptively to get them to depart quickly in line with canon law, is decisive–it showed Dolan’s entire attitude towards the problem, which focused on using money to protect the church.

    For this man now to present himself to the nation as a moral leader commanding that voters do his bidding at the polls is a real farce. It shows that he and his brethren are motivated by a crazed desire to aggregate power and authority. For them, the doctrine of love, acts of compassion, concern for victims are all hollow.

    It des not surprise me that his de facto endorsement of the GOP has not been met with enthusiasm from his flock. They believe the church should be about faith, not politics. The National Catholic Register does its best to spin this in defense of the Cardinal:

    Suppose you are walking down the street and a homeless person approaches you and asks you for some money. You give him the money. Would that justify a headline saying that you have been paying the homeless?

    Really? An employee who has raped children under the church’s authority is the moral equivalent of a homeless person on the street?

    Read the rest at the link.

    Then there is this Politics – David A. Graham – Infographic of the Day: The Horrifying Gender Gap in Media Sourcing – The Atlantic

    Even when news stories are about issues central to women, the press overwhelming quotes men.

    Which again is no surprise but for visual people like me, to see it represented in this way, really hits home.

    • bostonboomer says:

      All the articles I’ve read about the story have been in the MSM so far. It’s being covered.

  8. Can y’all tell I am reading stuff in my reader?

    Prosecutors want Zimmerman’s bond revoked, say he had second passport | theGrio

    The Maddow Blog – Jeb Bush rejects Norquist pledge

    Oh, and my son was sick because he had come in contact with Poison Oak and had a bad reaction to it, the rash did not appear until the day after. I’ve never seen anything like it. That stuff is terrible, ah the joys of summer.

    • I should really put this up on my freak show post, Center For Disease Control Denies Zombie Apocalypse | Mediaite read it, it is good.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’ve had it. Try wiping the rash with alcohol. That helps dry it up. Does he have it in a lot of places? You can get benedryl in liquid or gel form to put on it too. But the itching is really bad.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Zimmerman’s bail revoked. I posted it up top.

    • jawbone says:

      Is poison oak worse than poison ivy? I react very badly to poison ivy and usually have to go to my dermatologist of GP for a cortizone shot and pills. I am as careful as possible to avoid it. If I touch it I immediately go into the house and wash the area with brown laundry soap. Supposedly you can wash it off up to 15 minutes after touching it, but i don’t take that chance. ASAP is better given how I react.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It probably depends on the person. I’ve always been immune to poison ivy. At least in the past I’ve never gotten it when others did. I don’t fool around with it though. I’ve gotten poison oak a couple of times in Indiana, and it was horrible–lasted a long time too.

  9. NW Luna says:

    Experiment lets spine-injured rats walk, climb

    Rats with a spinal-cord injury that left their hind legs paralyzed learned to walk again on their own after an intensive training course that included electrical stimulation of the brain and the spine, scientists reported Thursday. ….

    the new study is the most comprehensive and rigorous presentation of what is possible in recovering from such injuries, and the Swiss research team is working on technology to test the techniques in humans. ….

    The findings do not apply to all spinal injuries. The animals’ spinal columns were cut without being completely severed; there were some nerve connections that extended through the injured area. But this is also the case for a substantial proportion — perhaps one-quarter to one-third — of people whose injuries are severe enough to confine them to a wheelchair.

    Very exciting! Usually takes even 10 years to translate findings from rat studies to humans, but can’t come soon enough.

  10. jawbone says:

    Re: The new report of carbon dioxide count up to 400 ppm.


    Just OMG, and, then, thinking about my little grand nieces and nephews. And yet another president who does next to nothing about this major ongoing problem. We will be reviled by our following generations. .