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The "Protect Life Act" was back with a vengeance last week, not that you'd know it given the scant amount of attention it seemed to get. (It was, of course, duly noted here on Daily Kos.) Maybe Republicans are trying to bore us with their never-ending displays of unborn baby-kissing so that we simply stop noticing when they pass bills deeming women's lives expendable.
Even though the bill would face an Obama veto, House Republicans apparently considered it a higher priority than a jobs bill. But here's the real kicker: just one week earlier, the House passed H.R. 2681, which exempts cement plants from the Clean Air Act and encourages the burning of industrial waste. Via Earthjustice:
"Does the House of Representatives think that not enough babies are being born with developmental damage due to mercury poisoning?" asked Earthjustice attorney James Pew. "The House essentially just opened up all the doors and windows in homes across the country and urged polluters to blow their toxic emissions right in.So evidently we should sacrifice a mother to save a fetus, but pumping that fetus full of heavy metals is just dandy. Okay, then. I really wanted to work this point into the cartoon, but there's only so much inanity you can address in four panels.
"Bankruptcies of governments have, on the whole, done less harm to mankind than their ability to raise loans."
- R.H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, 1926
"By a continuing process of inflation, government can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.
- John Maynard Keynes, Economic Consequences of Peace
"Unemployed men took one or two rucksacks and went from peasant to peasant. They even took the train to favorable locations to get foodstuffs illegally which they sold afterwards in the town at three or fourfold the prices they had paid themselves. First the peasants were happy about the great amount of paper money which rained into their houses for their eggs . . . → Read More: Can ?It? Happen Here?
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One of the more interesting polls lately (remembering all along that polls are merely snapshots, thermometers taking the political temperature if you will, and not predictors this far out) comes from a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, as highlighted by the Washington Post's Behind the Numbers:
Americans overall in the new Post-ABC poll offer mixed reviews of three top contenders to challenge President Obama, with many still reserving judgment on Perry, Romney and Cain. But negative ratings for Romney and Perry ? both better known ? have ticked up in the past month, now approaching four in 10; just over one in four has a negative opinion of Cain.Specifically, you can see where conservative Republicans have more than tripled their Perry unfavorables from 7 to 26 in just one month. And one can also see this about Herman Cain:
Cain, who has skyrocketed into the top tier in GOP polls, claims he would be able to compete with Obama for black voters. But only 18 percent of African Americans in the new poll rate him favorably, with twice as many ? 37 percent ? giving him negative marks. Cain does have a better ratio of favorable to unfavorable ratings than either Perry (49 percent unfavorable, 15 percent favorable) or Romney (50 to 15), but trails Obama by large margins. In a September Post-ABC poll, 86 percent of African Americans rated Obama favorably, although at the time there was slippage in the number giving the president ?strongly favorable? reviews.Just for comparison, Obama's favorable number stands at 49 this week in our own Daily Kos/SEIU Weekly State of the Nation Poll.
And also as a yardstick (though far from an apples-to-apples comparison because it's just before the election, with known candidates) I grabbed this from Frank Newport's book Winning the White House 2008:
Romney, currently stuck at 33, needs to get his favorables up above 50 by election day. if he's the nominee, they'll move up, just as George H. W. Bush moved from the 30s to the mid 40s. As to how much, we'll just have to see.
But the thing that keeps Obama in this race and makes it competitive is that people like Obama (they just don't like his performance on the economy. ) It's hard to find "like" and "Romney" in the same sentence.
Actually, in a separate Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll, the one word that describes Romney to the public is something a little different:
That's 60 for Mormon and another 11 for religion when it comes to Romney. And while it's more neutral than the 15 who correctly said "idiot" for Perry, clearly it's Romney's number one identifier. I'm not sure that's what his camp would want.
David Dayen's New Roundup from Tuesday night, October 18, 2011. Stories on Israel/Palestine prisoner exchange, record deportations, Snowe, Tester, Liz Warren, James Kwak, Corray, and many more.[...]
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I'm getting the biggest kick out of the fact that those who've benefited from economic exploitation finally know what it's like to be on the receiving end in a class war:
As the Occupy Wall Street movement has gained steam, the city's well-heeled have become the target of protests aimed at embarrassing them in their neighborhoods or places of business. Drawing on tactics honed by labor unions, the protesters have visited restaurants, theaters and luxury apartment buildings to deliver pointed messages to some of the city's most notable power brokers.
Protesters have infiltrated an eatery run by Danny Meyer, who sits on the board of Sotheby's, the art auction house that has locked out workers for almost three months; and showed up at the home of Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, which has been targeted for its mortgage practices.
?People who sit in board rooms and only deal with people of a certain social strata don't necessarily feel or see the impact of their decisions,? said Jason Ide, president of Teamsters Local 814, which represents Sotheby's workers. ?We want to make sure they get the message very clearly, that people are suffering because of what they're doing.?
Last week, protesters visited the homes of Mr. Dimon, billionaire businessman David Koch, financier Howard Milstein, News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch and hedge fund maven John Paulson as part of a so-called Millionaires March to call for an extension of the state income-tax surcharge on high earners, which is set to expire at the end of the year.
On Saturday, the Alliance for a Greater New York and Occupy Wall Street teamed up to launch occupytheboardroom.org, a website that lists the names of 200 top executives and board members from Bank of America Corp., Citigroup, Goldman Sachs Group, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. ?Just got evicted while your banker gets bonuses?? the site asks. ?Share your special story with someone who ought to know.?
Occupy the Boardroom encourages users to click on the bankers' names and send them personal letters, which are collated on the site. By Tuesday afternoon, the project had already been tweeted nearly 3,000 times and shared on more than 8,000 Facebook pages. More than 88,000 page views from 161 countries had been tallied, and more than 5,000 letters had been submitted.
Even Gawker has gotten into the act in recent days, posting the cell phone numbers of Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Citigroup CEO Vikrim Pandit and urging readers to share tales of economic woe.
The protesters have drawn some criticism for singling out individuals and for interrupting New Yorkers' meals and theater experiences.
?I don't know what they gain by personal attacks against wealthy individuals,? said George Arzt, a veteran political consultant. ?I think their anger has to be put into some positive policy changes rather than into ad hominem attacks at bankers and other wealthy individuals.?
Recapping floor action on a day when just the Senate is in session is always a challenge. They do do things. It's just hard to make it look that way in a recap. The truth is that the Senate did dispose of 11 legislative measures today, but they handled them by unanimous consent, which not only doesn't look particularly impressive on video, but doesn't even really take all that long in terms of floor time. So although that's a lot of action in terms of the number of things that passed, there's just not a great deal to say about what happened. And on top of the 11 bills, there were seven ambassadors confirmed (including Mark Francis Brzezinski as Ambassador to Sweden?and yes, he's one of those Brzezinskis). So there really was a lot that got taken care of. It's just that none of it was voted on.
What occupied most of the floor time, and what did get voted on, was amendments to H.R. 2112, the big, multiple department appropriations bill. I'm not ready to call it an "omnibus" just yet, since it's really only three of the 12 regular annual bills rolled up into one. But that wouldn't be an incorrect term, technically speaking. Senators couldn't run far enough away from the so-called "Fast & Furious" gun, uh, thingy. And so "Big" John Cornyn's amendment prohibiting such operations in the future passed by a vote of 99-0. Then there was "Old" John McCain's amendment to eliminate trade adjustment assistance funding for companies and workers impacted by the new free trade deals. That went over like a lead balloon, which is to say that Republicans loved it and thought it could fly, presumably because they hate science so much.
And that was the day that was!
Looking ahead to today:
It's even more difficult to dress up the look forward at the day to come when all you have to work with is the Senate. Particularly in the middle of a bill like this, where lots of amendments are expected, but because of the wacko procedural rules, you can never have any really solid idea beyond the next one or two amendments what might really be coming up. So there may be a half dozen votes tomorrow for all we know. But for right now, there's only one scheduled: a vote on another crabby McCain amendment, this one targeting a list of old stand-by of complaints about transportation-related spending, specifically that no funds should be spent on scenic or historic highway programs, including tourist and welcome centers; landscaping or scenic beautification; historic preservation; rehabilitation or operation of historic transportation buildings, structures, or facilities; control or removal of outdoor advertising; archaeological planning or research; or the establishment of transportation museums. Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I know we have to control spending and all, but what a snooze-fest.
Anyway, that's the only vote that's actually scheduled, but there are a dozen or so other amendments pending, for which there is an agreement in principle that there will eventually be some floor consideration. So we'll likely see some of those votes taken today, and agreements reached to set times for votes on the rest of them in the days to come.
But they'd better wrap this stuff up soon. There are still another eight appropriations bills to take care of, and only about a month left on the current CR (which isn't actually an "R" at all, as we've discussed). And speaking of looming deadlines, it's only another week or so past the expiration of the current CR that the Super Committee's product is due on the floor. What the hell are they going to do about that, eh? (Actually, I think they have a number of options open to them, including reporting out a bill that gives them more time to come up with the bill they were supposed to come up with by Thanksgiving. But we'll talk about that some other time.)
Today's floor and committee schedules appear below the fold.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT?s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here?s what we?re reading this morning, but let us know what you?re checking out too. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
- Though LGBT issues were not addressed in last night’s debate, Rick Santorum offered that Republicans could attract Latino voters by encouraging them to oppose LGBT rights.
- The Senate will vote to reauthorize the Elementary & Secondary Education Act this week, which could provide an opportunity to include LGBT anti-bullying measures.
- Charles Blow takes to the New York Times to share his testimony of being bullied and attempting suicide.
- Equality North Carolina points out that an overwhelming number of young people oppose the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and support legal recognition of same-sex couples.
- A new study finds that 10 percent of self-identified straight men have sex with other men, including 10 percent of all married men in the sample.
- Amtrak’s wireless service appears to block many LGBT news sites, listing them as porn.
- Sarah Palin seems to want to get close to hate groups like the American Family Association.
- North Carolina State University’s GLBT Center was hit with vandalism this week, including the words, “Fags burn” and “die.”
- Three men in Turkish-occupied Cyprus were arrested for “conspiring to have a sexual intercourse against the order of nature,” a charge that could carry a penalty of up to five years in prison.
- A Malaysian pastor’s same-sex marriage in New York could have an impact across the world.
- Armenians are largely intolerant of the LGBT community.
- Are men’s high heels here to stay?
- Watch Colorado allies “make it better” for LGBT youth, including Sens. Michael Bennet (D) and Mark Udall (D), Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks:
Other big story below: Top Ten Clean Energy Breakthroughs?
With a decision expected by the end of the year from the Obama administration on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, members of Congress have sent two letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raising concerns over the State Department?s handling of a critical environmental review of the project.
A letter sent late last week by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and two Vermont senators, Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders, criticized the State Department for assigning the review of Keystone XL to a consulting firm with financial ties to the pipeline?s operator and urged the federal government to start the process all over again.
The letter cited a New York Times article published this month that said the State Department used Cardno Entrix, a Houston-based consulting firm, at the suggestion of TransCanada, which is seeking to build the 1,700-mile pipeline from Alberta to Texas.
As arranged with the State Department, Cardno Entrix was paid by TransCanada to conduct the study. TransCanada has also paid the company to conduct previous environmental reviews of its projects, one of which Cardno Entrix did not disclose to the State Department.
Although such practices have become commonplace over the years, some experts in environmental law have said the State Department should have been more cautious about whom it hired it for the environmental study to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest on a project that has created so much controversy.
A new South African climate change policy curbing industry emissions will give the country leverage when it hosts the next round of global climate talks, the environment minister said Tuesday.The National Climate Change Response Policy, which was approved by cabinet last week, cuts “business as usual” emissions growth by 34 percent in the next decade and 42 percent by 2025, and will introduce limits on heavy polluters in two years.
“The policy as concluded now… is really going to give us quite a whole lot of leverage,” minister Edna Molewa told journalists.
“We are not necessarily going to be waving that document in there but just to illustrate … that as a country we are being really very serious as one of the high emitters, amongst the high emitters of the world, taking action.”
Specific reduction targets will follow within two years for big emitters such as the electricity and liquid fuel sector and users in mining, industry and transport.
The department did not say if the limits would be binding.
“We mustn’t see these as a stick or a carrot. It’s a target for action. So this is not a case of applying a stick to anybody, its providing them with direction of where we want to go,” said Peter Lukey, acting deputy director general of climate change.
The emergence of the low-carbon economy has witnessed business entities actively participating in climate change negotiations, and South African businesses have slowly caught up with the realities of getting involved, University of South Africa?s Professor Godwell Nhamo said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the Institute for Global Dialogue climate change conference in Pretoria, he said business, which would probably carry much of the burden in the transition to a low-carbon economy through a new climate deal, were slowly becoming ?genuine? in their approach to climate change.
However, Nhamo also alluded to some businesses being skeptical and ?hunting for opportunities? rather than moving towards a collective solution to the challenges resulting from negative impacts of climate change.
Overall business would try to influence negotiations for a favourable position that would sustain operations.
1. Algae biofuels
If economic cutbacks do not intervene then 12 per cent of aviation fuel could come from algae by 2030. Mexico hopes to reach 1 per cent within four years. The first algae-fuelled car was put on the road in 2009. Algae fuel, a liquid looking similar to vegetable oil, releases only a fifth of the carbon emissions of fossil fuels and could be made in efficient coastal ponds. The big problem is money: production costs need to come down by 90 per cent.
2. Zinc-air batteries
With world zinc resources being 100 times more plentiful than lithium ion, a move to zinc-air batteries has the potential to make laptops more portable, electric vehicles more affordable and hearing aids more reliable. Zinc is recyclable, relatively cheap and has a high energy density. Currently used in non-rechargeable form in hearing aids, zinc batteries are expected to be launched in a rechargeable, longer-lasting version in a few years, with an extension of use to computers and cars later.
3. Organic solar cells
The UK’s Carbon Trust believes that low-cost organic solar cells can be made efficient enough to win commercial success. It is backing a project which aims to use printed rolls of these cells to provide safe lighting in parts of Africa and India. However, hopes have been repeatedly disappointed as manufacturers have struggled to get above 9 per cent light-to-energy conversion efficiency (15 per cent is more typical for average silicon- based solar panels). But, if breakthroughs do occur, many of us will start wearing solar clothing, carrying solar umbrellas and using portable solar chargers.
Geothermal energy presents baseload clean energy at a lower cost than many other renewable energy alternatives. Despite this compelling value proposition, long development horizons and the risks associated with exploration and drilling activities present hurdles to developing the country’s rich geothermal potential. Financing projects that use conventional geothermal technology remains challenging in the uncertain economic environment.
In the past year, geothermal project developers used alternative strategies to overcome three common challenges to geothermal project finance. While the challenges for raising capital at the project level are consistent with those faced in previous years, they have become even more pronounced as investors’ risk-tolerance remains low and capital constraints continue.
Three key challenges to raising capital for geothermal project investment have adversely affected developers in the past year.
When Romenesko published the New York Times’ announcement of their expanded online opinion pages yesterday, Alternet editor Sarah Jaffe tweeted, “New York Times expands opinion coverage; only one woman has an opinion.” The plan announced by the paper certainly leaves room for more female contributors, whether in the “Frequent Op-Eds that will be exclusively available to online readers”‘ “Op-Docs, opinionated, short-video documentaries, with wide creative ranges, about current affairs and contemporary life from both renowned and emerging filmmakers”; the “among others” category in the new Campaign Stops blog, for which all announced contributors are men, or the “Additional enhancements to the Global Opinion section.” But it’s absolutely true that of all the names of people who are meant to get us excited about this new section, only one, that of naturalist Diane Ackerman, is a woman’s.
If what the Times wants is to bring in new readers with this revamp, the most glaringly obvious thing they could do is embrace diversity, not just of writers, but of subject material. I know that getting a slot at the Times is supposed to be a reward and validation, a career summing-up (Which, by the way, I think is worth challenging. Editorial pages would be more interesting if columnists had limited-term slots.), but that isn’t incompatible with going out, finding some folks who have built interesting sites and have valuable things to say, and buying, or at least renting, their content and their readership. Not everyone is drawn to a paper by the same thing. And not every views the experience of white men as equally valuable.
And more to the point, it’s always astonishing to me that the folks who put out these press releases, and these white dude-heavy lineups, don’t seem to understand how they look to other people, to other potential consumers. If you’re surrounded by older white men all day, I understand that might not look aberrational to you. But do people seriously not recognize that what is normal (and desirable) for them is not necessarily normal or desirable for everyone else? That doesn’t seem particularly hard to consider. And yet it’s a small cognitive effort that a lot of publishers seem to have tremendous difficulty making.
Welcome to ThinkProgress Economy?s morning link roundup. This is what we?re reading. Have you seen any interesting news? Let us know in the comments section. You can also follow ThinkProgress Economy on Twitter.