Tomorrow, the Senate will hold the first ever hearing on DOMA repeal at 10 AM ET. The hearing, "S.598, The Respect for Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families" begins at 10 AM ET. S. 598, sponsored by Senator Feinstein has 27 cosponsors. The House version of the bill, H.R. 1116, is sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nadler and currently has 118 cosponsors.
There were two major developments today on DOMA, both of which we covered at AMERICAblog Gay.
On the legislative front, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced that the President supports the Respect for Marriage Act.
On the legal front, John Boehner and his legal team, led by Paul Clement, won't answer basic questions in the DOMA case brought by 81 year old Edie Windsor. Roberta Kaplan, Edie's lawyer, is asking the Judge for "an order compelling" Boehner and his legal team to comply with discovery. See, Boehner decided to defend DOMA. He is using our tax dollars to pay Paul Clement. But, apparently, they don't want to follow the Rules of Civil Procedure. I've posted excerpts from Kaplan's letter. And, I've said many times, Boehner and Clement are no match for Windsor and Kaplan.
Jesus loves Wal-Mart shoppers. Last Sunday, Jacob Simmons and his fiancée, Gentry Lee Sutherland, returned home from church to discover that a Wal-Mart receipt they had left on the floor had been miraculously transformed into an image of Our Lord and Savior.
Reading the South Carolina couple's story prompted me to to take a look at my own Wal-Mart receipts, and, Praise the Lord, I hit the Jesus jackpot. There, on a receipt for militia wrestling night supplies, was the visage of our redeemer, Jesus Christ.
I'm not sure what to do with it. I'm thinking of gluing it to a purty plate and propping it up on top of my gun cabinet. What do you think?
6:59 PM PT: In case you're just joining us, the AP called the SD-30 race for Democrat Dave Hansen, who's winning by a huge 38-point margin. In the GOP primaries, Kim Simac is up 58-42 with 30% of the vote reporting in SD-12, while Jonathan Steitz is up 63-37 over Fred Ekornaas in SD-22, with 29% of the vote in.
7:16 PM PT: SD-22 called for Steitz.
7:17 PM PT (Steve Singiser): Here is a quick stat that cannot be overlooked, and speaks to voter intensity in Wisconsin. It looks like the two GOP primaries tonight in the Badger State will have turnouts in the 15,000 person range, give or take. The turnouts last week on the Dem side ranged from 21,700 to over 35,000. Indeed, three of the Democratic primaries last week are likely to have turnouts higher than tonight's general recall election in SD-30, won handily by Democrat Dave Hansen. The Republicans are clearly lagging behind the Democrats in voter intensity. That could speak well for Democratic chances next month to reclaim the state Senate.
7:40 PM PT (Steve Singiser): And the night is over, and fairly quickly. AP calls SD-12 (GOP) for Kim Simac. She will now take on Jim Holperin. And, with that, Wisconsin part II is in the books. Congratulations to Democrat Dave Hansen of SD-30, who fended off his recall in decisive fashion (66-34, with Marinette County still to report). Congratulations also (and this is becoming repetitive) to our polling partners at PPP, who have hit yet another poll on the screws. They called the landslide yesterday, and hit it almost on the number. Great job by them, as always. Last one out of here, be sure to turn out the lights. Good night, everyone!
Did I just use the term "breaking news" to describe a weather forecast for a sunny day? Yup. That just happened.
Last month, I asked If June Is This Hot, What Will July & August Be Like? Now we have the answer from Jason Samenow of WashingtonPost.com's Capital Weather Gang:
NOAA has upped its peak heat index prediction for D.C. Friday to a stunning, sweltering 116 degrees. Remarkably, it predicts there is a 90 percent chance it will reach at least 110 and a 100 percent chance of at least 105. Earlier today, NOAA was predicting a maximum heat index of 109 Friday.So far, 2011 has been the 11th-warmest year on record. And from NOAA's State of the Climate update, a stat even The Green Miles didn't know:
And poor Richmond, Va.! NOAA projects its heat index will soar to a stifling 118 degrees.
June 2011 was the 316th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below-average temperature was February 1985.That's right - despite all of George Will's "global cooling" hot air, we haven't had a below-average global temperature month since before The Goonies came out. Excuse me while I cool myself off by doing the truffle shuffle:
Who's the party of Reagan now?[...]
Read The Full Article:
enlargeCredit: ReutersThe Murdochs - the tree is rotten and the fruit ain't good.
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The world had a look. It was covered by everybody and their brother. Even Fox News turned on the feed. And in the end there were no revelations, no bombshell disclosures, surpluses of stammering, flashes of defiance but mostly a sad disconnect. Disconnect of arrogance, absolute power feigning impunity, an inability to acknowledge or even truly comprehend the extent of damage they have caused to countless people and institutions over such a long period of time.
The elder Murdoch, at 81 has become a figurehead - claiming unawareness of what either the right or left hand are doing and truly caring less. The proclamations of humility and contrition rang as hollow as a cardboard tube because he is convinced beyond any measure of doubt that he is innocent. The Murdoch Style is free of any fault, absolute in its righteous quest for domination in the marketplace.
The younger Murdoch is a poorly assembled clone, cast in the ill-conceived role of heir. Stumbling over himself while feigning an air of well-rehearsed assurance. It didn't wash.
It was, for all intents and purposes, sad to watch. A poor man's Nuremberg Trial. With proclamations of victimhood and refusals to accept responsibility. By pointing fingers and blaming the oversights of others for this terrible mess they are in. That they knew nothing.
And it went that way for the better part of 3 hours. Broken up only by an attempted pie toss. A maladroit attempt at cashing in on fame by one Johnnie Marbles that wound up becoming the big distraction and ultimately has become the headline for the day. The real issues getting buried somewhere in the back. But maybe that was the intention. As we all know, The Murdoch Style of Journalism has been to deflect from real issues by glorifying insignificant ones. Replacing useful information for trivia. So perhaps, just perhaps it was an orchestrated stratagem, guaranteed to deflect from the severity of the moment. We'll never know for sure.
No doubt you have all been glued to your TV sets and computers all day, watching this sideshow unfold. But for those of you who may have missed it, didn't Tivo it, and don't want to hear soundbites, here is the entire testimony as it was broadcast by LBC in London. It's broken up over two players, each about an hour in length.
enlargeCredit: ReutersAttempted Deer in purported headlights.
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And as a supplement, there is also the testimony of Rebekah Brooks some ten minutes later. Not all that much different than the Murdochs claims of innocence and ignorance, but without the pie. Her humility and contrition were strangely missing as evidence continues to pile up against her.
So, here is the complete testimony of Rebekah Brooks, also as it was broadcast by LBC.
Interesting day for a story that has no end in sight.
The chat is scheduled to start at 8:30pm Eastern
It was a rough episode for both Paul (Oliver Platt) and Cathy (Laura Linney) last night on The Big C.
I really loved last night's episode of The Big C, the fourth of the second season, which revolved around the arrival of the long-awaited day of Cathy's first treatment (for her otherwise-untreatable Stage IV melanoma) as part of a clinical drug trial. Probably I should be writing about that, but with all the importance the Jamisons attach to getting Cathy into Dr. Sherman's clinical trial, it has bothered me that so far no mention has been made of the number of people in that trial who are receiving a placebo rather than the drug(s) being tested; is it really possible to do drug trials without a double-blind control group>
Which in turn has reminded me that I still need to write about Marcia Angell's recent two-part series in the New York Review of Books: "The Epidemic of Mental Illness: Why?" (June 23) and "The Illusions of Psychiatry" (July 7).
Now trials for cancer treatment, I hope, at least, have more scientific basis than I now understand trials of drugs for treating mental illnesses to be. In the first part of her NYRB Angell notes:
Nowadays treatment by medical doctors nearly always means psychoactive drugs, that is, drugs that affect the mental state. In fact, most psychiatrists treat only with drugs, and refer patients to psychologists or social workers if they believe psychotherapy is also warranted. The shift from "talk therapy" to drugs as the dominant mode of treatment coincides with the emergence over the past four decades of the theory that mental illness is caused primarily by chemical imbalances in the brain that can be corrected by specific drugs.
When psychoactive drugs were first introduced, there was a brief period of optimism in the psychiatric profession, but by the 1970s, optimism gave way to a sense of threat. Serious side effects of the drugs were becoming apparent, and an antipsychiatry movement had taken root, as exemplified by the writings of Thomas Szasz and the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo?s Nest. There was also growing competition for patients from psychologists and social workers. In addition, psychiatrists were plagued by internal divisions: some embraced the new biological model, some still clung to the Freudian model, and a few saw mental illness as an essentially sane response to an insane world. Moreover, within the larger medical profession, psychiatrists were regarded as something like poor relations; even with their new drugs, they were seen as less scientific than other specialists, and their income was generally lower.
In the late 1970s, the psychiatric profession struck back -- hard. As Robert Whitaker tells it in Anatomy of an Epidemic, the medical director of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Melvin Sabshin, declared in 1977 that "a vigorous effort to remedicalize psychiatry should be strongly supported," and he launched an all-out media and public relations campaign to do exactly that. Psychiatry had a powerful weapon that its competitors lacked. Since psychiatrists must qualify as MDs, they have the legal authority to write prescriptions. By fully embracing the biological model of mental illness and the use of psychoactive drugs to treat it, psychiatry was able to relegate other mental health care providers to ancillary positions and also to identify itself as a scientific discipline along with the rest of the medical profession. Most important, by emphasizing drug treatment, psychiatry became the darling of the pharmaceutical industry, which soon made its gratitude tangible.
What should be of greatest concern for Americans is the astonishing rise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in children, sometimes as young as two years old. These children are often treated with drugs that were never approved by the FDA for use in this age group and have serious side effects.
e need to stop thinking of psychoactive drugs as the best, and often the only, treatment for mental illness or emotional distress. Both psychotherapy and exercise have been shown to be as effective as drugs for depression, and their effects are longer-lasting, but unfortunately, there is no industry to push these alternatives and Americans have come to believe that pills must be more potent. More research is needed to study alternatives to psychoactive drugs, and the results should be included in medical education.
In particular, we need to rethink the care of troubled children. Here the problem is often troubled families in troubled circumstances. Treatment directed at these environmental conditions -- such as one-on-one tutoring to help parents cope or after-school centers for the children -- should be studied and compared with drug treatment. In the long run, such alternatives would probably be less expensive. Our reliance on psychoactive drugs, seemingly for all of life?s discontents, tends to close off other options. In view of the risks and questionable long-term effectiveness of drugs, we need to do better. Above all, we should remember the time-honored medical dictum: first, do no harm (primum non nocere).
Polls have just closed in Wisconsin, where today voters cast ballots in two GOP primaries and one D-vs.-R general election. On the Republican side, in SD-12, Kim Simac squares off against Robert Lussow, while in SD-22, Fred Ekornaas faces Jonathan Steitz. And in SD-30, Democrat Dave Hansen goes head-to-head with Republican David Vanderleest, in a race that Daily Kos's polling showed to be a likely blowout.
6:10 PM PT: If you want to follow county-by-county results, Brown County (in SD-30) has its own site, which is running a bit ahead of the AP. A handful of precincts are in, showing a sizable Hansen lead.
6:19 PM PT: I'll tell you right now: This Hansen-Vanderleest is over before it began, to no one's surprise. Hansen is pulling in better numbers than David Prosser, the Republican Supreme Court justice who ran for e-election this past April. That means Hansen is flipping things by 20, 30, 40 net points from the Prosser race.
6:23 PM PT: On the GOP side, Steitz and Simac have early leads. I'm definitely rooting for Simac, who writes Tea Party children's books, but as to Steitz vs. Ekornaas, it's a harder call.
6:26 PM PT: Alright, so we crunched the numbers for real, instead of on the back of an envelope, and it looks like Hansen is getting around 62% in territory that went 56% for Prosser, or a 18% swing from JoAnn Kloppenburg. In other words, a slaughter for the GOP.
6:39 PM PT: Alright, with 38% of the vote in, Hansen is up 68-32. If something in this real holds as the final result, it'll be another nice call by Tom Jensen at PPP. As for the GOP races, I think you guys are going to have to entertain yourselves keeping track of those... which I'm sure won't be a problem! Just remember: Ganja breaks are okay, but don't smoke rocks.
Daily Arctic sea ice extent as of July 17, 2011, along with daily ice extents for previous low-ice-extent years. Light blue indicates 2011, dashed green shows 2007, dark blue shows 2010, and dark gray shows the 1979 to 2000 average.
As the country swelters, ice and snow melt in the North. The National Snow and Ice Data Center has just issued an update on this year’s version of the Arctic death spiral, concluding:
Arctic sea ice extent declined at a rapid pace through the first half of July, and is now tracking below the year 2007, which saw the record minimum September extent. The rapid decline in the past few weeks is related to persistent above-average temperatures and an early start to melt.
In fact, “air temperatures over the North Pole were 6 to 8 degrees Celsius (11 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than normal.”
The NSIDC also published a helpful backgrounder, “Heading towards the summer minimum ice extent, on NSIDC’s new Icelights: Your burning questions about ice and climate.” It quote NSIDC researcher Walt Meier explaining that while individual years may fluctuate, “the overall long-term trend will continue downward.?
Here are more excerpts from the sea ice update:
Overview of conditions
As of July 17, 2011, Arctic sea ice extent was 7.56 million square kilometers (2.92 million square miles), 2.24 million square kilometers (865,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average. Sea ice is particularly low in the Barents, Kara, and Laptev Seas (the far northern Atlantic region), Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay.
Conditions in context
Arctic sea ice extent declined rapidly through the first two weeks of July, at a rate averaging nearly 120,000 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) per day. Ice extent is now tracking below the year 2007, which saw the record minimum September extent.Early start to Arctic melt
When sea ice starts to melt in spring, small ponds known as melt ponds form on its surface. The small pools create a darker surface (a lower albedo) that fosters further melt. How early sea ice melt starts is one indicator of how much the ice will melt in a given year. New research by Don Perovich and colleagues shows that an early start to sea ice melt increases the total amount of sunlight absorbed through the melt season.Data processed by researchers Thorsten Markus and Jeffrey Miller at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center reveal that melt began earlier than normal in both the Chukchi Sea, just north of the Bering Strait, and the Barents, Kara, and Laptev seas. Surface melting on the sea ice began from two weeks to two months earlier than the 1979 to 2000 average in these areas. However, in Baffin Bay and Hudson Bay, a cool spring led to a later start for surface melt, especially in Hudson Bay. Subsequent warm conditions have nevertheless led to rapid ice melt.
This map shows the difference between average date of melt onset, when ice melt starts, and the date of melt onset this year. Red indicates earlier than normal melt, blue shows later than normal melt. The darkest red is an anomaly of 50 days early or more. White areas show no anomaly, that is they melted no earlier or later than normal. The gray area over the North Pole indicates where no data are available.
Low summer snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere
As noted in our May 4 post, snow cover in central Russia retreated early in response to warm conditions this spring. Updated analyses provided by the Global Snow Cover Lab at Rutgers University reveal that snow cover remained very low for May and June. Even though some mountain regions in the U.S. and Canada saw greater-than-normal snow cover, snow cover for the Northern Hemisphere as a whole for May and June was the second lowest since the start of snow cover records in 1966.According to David Robinson, head of the Rutgers Snow Cover Lab, a new pattern is emerging in which the Northern Hemisphere is cloaked in above-average snow during late autumn, winter, and early spring, followed by rapid melt and retreat in May and June. While snow cover varies from year to year, the far north has seen a clear trend towards less spring snow cover over the last thirty years.
The Arctic’s death spiral continues.