Early exit polling from Greece, in the second election to try to form a government in as many months, shows an incredibly narrow race between the center-right New Democracy party and the far-left Syriza party. It raises the possibility that no single[...]
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Olympic club is still playing extremely tough as day three of the U.S. Open roundup yesterday. Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell are tied at one under par. Tiger Woods struggled all day and ended up five strokes off the lead. What about amateur Bo Hossler? He is playing some truly great golf at the age
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2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney today again claimed that his tax plan — which would lower tax rates by 20 percent — would not disproportionately help the wealthy, because it would limit deductions for taxpayers at the top of the income scale. However, he has yet to lay out which deductions those would be, and he once again passed up an opportunity to do so during an interview with CBS’ Bob Schieffer:
SCHIEFFER: When are you going to tell us where you’re going to get the revenue? Which of the deductions are you going to be willing to eliminate? When are you going to be able to tell us that?
ROMNEY: Well, we’ll go through that process with Congress as to which of all the different deductions and exemptions…My view is that the right way to do that is to limit them for high-income individuals because I want to keep the progressivity of the code. One of the absolute requirements of any tax reform that I have in mind is that people who are the high end, whether you call them the 1 percent, 2 percent, half a percent, the people at the high end will still pay the same share of the tax burden they’re paying now. I’m not looking for a tax cut for the very wealthiest.
Romney himself has admitted that his tax plan can’t even be scored due to its lack of specificity. The few deductions he has mentioned would come nowhere close to covering the cost of his massive tax cut for the rich.
And even if Romney did manage to close enough loopholes and eliminate enough deductions so that the rich were paying the same amount that they are today, the economy would have to grow at a record rate to keep his tax plan from adding to the deficit.
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At this year's Right Online conference, Sarah Palin was more than happy to prop up Matt Drudge and Andrew Breitbart's Big Government sites as bastions of new media that's cutting through the traditional media outlets... like say... her employer at Fox. Somehow that was missing from her speech to the right wingers that attended this weekend.
It was a rousing pep talk for a ballroom full of conservative bloggers, and a tribute to a fallen compadre Friday evening, as Sarah Palin honored the memory of the late Internet entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart and told an annual gathering of conservative new media that they fill a vital role in the nation?s political discourse.
In some ways, Palin?s 35-minute speech was also a vintage performance, her sing-song voice rising and falling as she also castigated and mocked the ?lamestream media,? accusing it of failing to vet then-candidate Barack Obama in 2008 and of promulgating rumors about her personal life, which still seem to get under her skin.
?You do what the old media can?t or won?t do, and that?s tell the truth,? said Palin, who remains a hero of the tea-party right despite her withdrawal from the arena of electoral office. ?I have learned in the last four years or so, it doesn?t do any good to personally complain about the untruths told by the old media. I might as well save my breath?. Shoot, by now I should have been divorced how many times? Under FBI investigation. Living in the Hamptons. It still is a great mystery who really is Trig Paxon Van Palin?s real mother.?
Speaking in a ballroom of the Venetian Hotel, owned by heavyweight Republican contributor Sheldon Adelson, Palin did not mention this morning?s announcement by President Obama that he would stop deporting young adults brought to the United States as children. In a brief conversation with Politico after her speech, she accused Obama of ?pandering to a specific demographic.?
You've gotta' love it when this woman can be both part of and what she's complaining about with that "lamestream" media. Someone should have reminded her after this speech that Uncle Rupert is still signing her paychecks and that if there's some hole that needs to be filled with the lack of real or honest media coverage about anything, she can thank her boss for not filling that hole, or for allowing Palin ilk to fill their airtime with lies, propaganda and nonsense.
House Democrats have a chance to show Jamie Dimon that he isn't the King of America. Let's hope they don't follow the example of the lapdog millionaires in the Senate.[...]
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The 2011 biennial budget calls for a broad review of the system's operations, including the possibility of allowing employees to opt out.
Walker-appointed representatives of the state Department of Administration [a Walker political operation] and its Office of State Employment Relations have been meeting with policy officials from the state Department of Employee Trust Funds, which operates the pension system.
If you build them, they will be used. First, the story of 64 drone bases on U.S. soil. Now the story of the drones who "man" them. At least the start of that story. From CTV News in Canada (h/t commenter Hue-man; my emphasis):SEATTLE?The U.S. government's unmanned drones patrolling the U.S.-Canadian border are venturing into Washington state's airspace.In testimony before a U.S. Senate...
Just 'cause we slipped into Act II in Friday night's preview is no reason to go crazy and think we're going to make it to Act III today, but here's the famous "Bacchanale," from the Met's 1983 Centennial Gala, conducted by James Levine.
Friday night we heard Maria Callas's riveting 1961 recording of Dalila's Act II-opening "Amour! viens aider ma faiblesse," one of three excerpts from Samson et Dalila she recorded for the first Callas in Paria LP. Only two of those excerpts -- "Amour, viens aider" and the Act I solo "Printemps qui commence" -- found their way onto the record, though. Callas refused to allow the recording of the opera's best-known number (maybe along with the "Bacchanale") to be released, and in fact it wasn't in her lifetime, not slipping into print until 1982, five years after she died.
Our goal today is going to be to get (finally!) to the end of Act I of Samson. But we're going to digress again into Act II to hear what has become one of Callas's best-known recordings, the amping up of Dalila's seduction of Samson.
Samson et Dalila: Act II: Dalila, "Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix"
Maria Callas (s), Dalila; Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française, Georges Prêtre, cond. EMI, recorded Mar.-Apr. 1961
IN THE INTEREST OF MAKING OUR WAY TO
THE END OF ACT I, LET'S TAKE ONE SMALL STEP
When we left off in April, the High Priest of Dagon had just discovered the body of Abimélech, the satrap of Gaza, "struck down by slaves," meaning the Israelite rabble newly roused by their young rabble-rouser Samson. He storms off, vowing to make those uppity Hebrews pay. We'll hear the end of that again in the click-through, but for now let's listen to the very next thing that happens: this ravishing orchestral daybreak.
Samson et Dalila: Act I, Daybreak
Orchestra of the Théâtre National de l'Opéra de Paris, Georges Prêtre. cond. EMI, recorded Sept.-Oct. 1962
TO FORGE AHEAD IN ACT I OF SAMSON, CLICK HERE
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President Obama with Justice Sonia Sotomayor
In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower reconciled Republicans to the 20th-century welfare state. Between Ike and George W. Bush, Republican leaders basically accepted that model. Sure, they wanted to cut taxes and devolve power, but, in practice, they sustained the system, often funding it more lavishly than the Democrats. But many Republicans have now come to the conclusion that the welfare-state model is in its death throes. [. . .] This is the source of Republican extremism: the conviction that the governing model is obsolete. It needs replacing. - David BrooksIn the next 10 days or so, the Supreme Court will issue its decision in the cases challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) One of the results of the decision will resolve whether the ACA survives in any form. Obviously this result is extremely important. But there is another result that will be signalled by the SCOTUS' ACA decision?will the Roberts Court be the engine for executing the Republican project to undo The New Deal and the government programs that followed its lead such as Medicare and Medicaid?
David Brooks' confession of the extremism of the modern Republican project is both bracing and welcome. For too much of this national debate, the pretense of moderation and reasonableness has been granted the radical Republican project and the radical Roberts Court. With regard to the Court, Linda Greenhouse writes about recent opinions of the Court members that touch upon the Equal Protection Clause in novel ways:
But what if the majority and the dissent, while skirting a battle over ?first principles,? were nonetheless shadowboxing in this case over something highly significant? Something, for instance, like government regulation of the market for health care? At the end of his dissenting opinion, Chief Justice Roberts conceded that the justices in the majority had much of the weight of modern history on their side. ?Our precedents do not ask for much from government in this area,? he said, adding that ?we give great leeway to taxing authorities in this area, for good and sufficient reasons.? Then comes this line: ?But every generation or so a case comes along when this court needs to say enough is enough, if the Equal Protection Clause is to retain any force in this context.?Right now, the extreme Republican project to undo The New Deal is subject to the whims of Justice Kennedy, whose notion of what the Constitution permits is generally based on whether Justice Kennedy likes the congressional action or not. There is not much more to Justice Kennedy's constitutional theory than that. Would that lead to wholesale destruction of the constitutional underpinnings of The New Deal? Probably not. Kennedy probably thinks Social Security and Medicare and some forms of federal regulation of commerce are good. But the question will not end with Kennedy nor be fully resolved in the next few years. It is the next set of justices who will come to sit on the Court who will have the important say on this extreme Republican project.
Enough is enough? In the context of the Commerce Clause, of course, that?s the basic argument of the plaintiffs in the health care case. But try to import the chief justice?s ?enough is enough? from the one context to the other, to predict the imminent outcome of that case, and the microscope?s lens becomes blurry. For one thing, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is part of Justice Breyer?s majority in the Indianapolis case. It?s hard to imagine that the court could muster the votes to strike down the Affordable Care Act without Justice Kennedy on board. [Emphasis supplied.]
And who those justices will be is what is at stake in the next presidential election. Four justices are in their 70s. The odds are someone will retire. One more extreme Republican vote to join Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts, and there will be nothing stopping them.
(Continue reading below the fold)
Arctic sea ice area for June in recent years. Source: Cryosphere Today
By Neven Acropolis
If you want to mislead people into thinking that there is nothing weird going on in the Arctic, you have to do it during winter. In winter things almost look normal on some graphs, with gaps between trend lines and long-term averages not as ridiculously big as during spring and summer.
If you’re lucky, anomalous weather patterns can make those trend lines come real close to the long-term average, and you’ll have a couple of weeks of shouting ‘recovery’, ridiculing scientists and suggesting graphs are being cooked. It’s an annual ritual on pseudo-skeptic blogs, which is only logical. The Arctic is becoming ever more problematic for their life work, ie denying AGW could ever be a problem and thus delaying any meaningful action on mitigating the consequences of AGW. Thank God water still freezes in winter.
Sea ice extent maximum on the left and how it looks now on the right (source: NSIDC)
But what happens in winter is only interesting in so far as it influences the melting season that comes after it. The fact that this year saw a late finish to the freezing season, with an extreme expansion of sea ice into the Bering Sea, was far from irrelevant, but it didn’t tell the whole story either. Another part of that story was covered in a guest blog on ClimateProgress in February (Arctic Sea Ice Update: Spectacular and Ominous), and the whole story as I saw it was told in the 2011/2012 Winter Analysis on the Arctic Sea Ice blog. It quite simply came down to this: “Sea ice on the Atlantic side of the Arctic looks vulnerable, sea ice on the Pacific side should be thicker.”
The melting season is well underway now and in the last two weeks sea ice has been disappearing so fast that 2012 is leading all other years on practically all sea ice extent and area graphs. Take for instance the top graph I’ve made, based on Cryosphere Today sea ice area data.
That looks pretty spectacular, doesn’t it? Sea ice area has never been so low for this date in the satellite record, not even close to it. 2012 has over half a million of square kilometres less ice than record minimum years 2007 and 2011.
There was a distinct possibility this would happen, although I didn’t expect it to happen quite this early. But now that it has happened, it’s not difficult to see what the causes are. First of all, the extra ice in the Bering Sea that caused the late maximum, was wafer-thin and so has now virtually disappeared (I compared this year’s situation with previous years in this post on the ASI blog). All the easy ice is as gone as the easy oil.
Second, that vulnerability on the Siberian side of the Arctic is becoming ever more visible, with the Northern Sea Route possibly opening up for commercial shipping very early this year. Here’s a comparison to previous years for the western part of the Northern Sea Route (the eastern side doesn’t look so great either):
A third reason for the recent rapid decline is the widespread formation of melt ponds on ice floes. These are fooling satellite sensors into believing that there is open water where there actually isn’t, causing sea ice area to go down faster than sea ice extent. The NSIDC FAQ page explains it well:
A simplified way to think of extent versus area is to imagine a slice of Swiss cheese. Extent would be a measure of the edges of the slice of cheese and all of the space inside it. Area would be the measure of where there is cheese only, not including the holes. That is why if you compare extent and area in the same time period, extent is always bigger.
One could say those melt ponds are making the trend lines artificially low, especially on sea ice area graphs. Although this is true, it isn’t the only reason for the recent nosedive and at the same time it’s an indication of how much the Sun is beating down on the Arctic right now. We are approaching Summer Solstice, meaning that the Sun shines practically all day in these northern latitudes, and thus heat will accumulate everywhere where there are clear skies and no ice to reflect the incoming sunshine.
This effect has started to become visible on the sea surface temperature anomalies all around the Arctic:
Source: Danish Meteorological Institute
The water seems to be warming up big time in the polynyas that recently opened up, especially in the Kara and Barents Seas, that are ‘coincidentally’ thought to be a source for some of the blocking patterns that cause outbursts of cold air to spill out from the Arctic and cause extreme winter conditions further down on the Northern Hemisphere (also known as WACC, Warm Arctic Cold Continents).
One could also say that the stage is being set for the latter part of the melting season, as sea surface temperatures play a big role in the final outcome of the melting season. But that’s a worry for later. What can we expect in the short-term? Will trend lines continue to plummet?
Short answer: I don’t think they will. The weather conditions that let all that built-up melting potential come to fruition, are in the process of switching. And although this means that those Siberian Seas are also going to get a good dose of sunshine, and the Northwest Passage (which is still chock-full of ice right now) will start opening up as well, the speed of the decline will probably level off a bit on those sea ice extent and area graphs. Until weather conditions switch again, of course.
Because if one thing is clear after the first phase of the melting season, it’s that there’s a very high chance of records being broken again if this year’s weather conditions resemble those of last year or 2010. If they resemble those of 2007, the year of the perfect storm, it will become clearer than ever that something weird and potentially dangerous is going on in the Arctic.
I’ll report again if and when something worthwhile happens. In the meantime go to the Arctic Sea Ice blog if you want to read more regular and detailed updates. And check the daily updated graphs, maps and webcams on the Arctic Sea Ice Graphs website.
? by Neven Acropolis, who oversees the Arctic Sea Ice blog.