Colorado is among the swingest of the presidential swing states and could end up being the decisive state this election. It was selected to hold the first of the Presidential debates, which will be about domestic issues. As a result President Obama and[...]
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One of the Bay Area?s most prominent radical activists of the era, Richard Masato Aoki was known as a fierce militant who touted his street-fighting abilities. He was a member of several radical groups before joining and arming the Panthers, whose members received international notoriety for brandishing weapons during patrols of the Oakland police and a protest at the state Legislature. [...]
?He was my informant. I developed him,? [a former FBI agent] said in an interview. ?He was one of the best sources we had.?
An official Freedom of Information Act request for the beer recipe. It's impressive in its use of formal bureaucratic language: "Disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in my commercial interest."
But then the missive closes with what may be the boldest (and yet, most tempting) specific request under FOIA in history: "Also, if you could send me a copy autographed by the president, you'd be the coolest FOIA officer in the federal government, and who could resist that title?"
More than 19 million people were scattered across the Maya empire at its height, between A.D. 250 and A.D. 900. Using population records and other data, the study authors reconstructed the progressive loss of rainforest across their territory as the civilization grew. The researchers ran computer simulations to see how lands newly dominated by crops would have affected climate. In the heavily logged Yucatan peninsula, they found that rainfall would have declined by as much as 15 percent while in other Maya lands, such as southern Mexico, it would have fallen by 5 percent. Overall, the researchers attributed 60 percent of the drying estimated at the time of the Maya's peak to deforestation.
The USDA has closed the slaughterhouse at Central Valley Meat Corporation in Fresno, California after evidence surfaced showing inhumane and illegal treatment of animals on the killing floor. A video distributed by the animal advocacy group Compassion Over Killing depicted utterly horrific treatment of animals that — aside from the obvious problems with the casual torture of a sentient being — likely runs afoul of state and federal humane slaughter laws, including protections designed to prevent meat from sick cows entering the food supply:
Four minutes of excerpts the animal welfare group provided to The Associated Press showed cows being prepared for slaughter. One worker appears to be suffocating a cow by standing on its muzzle after a gun that injects a bolt into the animal’s head had failed to render it unconscious. In another clip, a cow is still conscious and flailing as a conveyor lifts it by one leg for transport to an area where the animals’ throats are slit for blood draining…
The USDA probe will include whether sick “downer” cows entered the food supply. That information would be used to determine whether a recall of the company’s meat products is warranted.
“That’s the main issue right now,” DeJong said.
Just because a cow is down doesn’t mean it’s sick, officials said. The video clips showed some cows with udders swollen so large they could not keep their legs underneath them. One was on the ground twitching, and another tried to walk but kept falling.
While this case is egregious, the abuse of animals is endemic to American factory farming. The horrific treatment of animals has consequences for human as well, as it creates ideal conditions for the incubation of foodborne illnesses. However, Congressional Republicans have pushed legislation that slashes food safety budgets and takes away states’ ability to impose their own standards for humane treatment of animals.
This doesn’t seem like an enormous surprise after the departures of Steve Carrell, who played clueless manager Michael Scott, and Mindy Kaling, who left to start her own sitcom on Fox, but it’s finally been announced: this season of The Office will be its last. And per the folks at TV Line, Greg Daniels is promising that in the final season, we’ll figure out who was shooting the documentary. I hope it turns out to be that Russian film director who built an entire closed society in which to shoot his movie and who apparently isn’t even close to done because otherwise, whoever is stuck with nine years of tape about people selling paper in Scranton is probably going to have a lot of explaining to do to whoever backed his or her movie project.
In all seriousness, though, The Office is a cautionary tale about how to stretch a once highly-amusing concept threadbare and how to wear out its welcome. The economic burden the show has been bearing for NBC for years is enormous, and the creative and ultimately audience toll was obvious.
by Ari Phillips, via OntheroadwithAriPhillips
I meet Tom Swetnam, Director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona in Tucson, on a Sunday morning because he?s leaving for Siberia in a few days and is otherwise totally booked. As part of the paleofire team that will be traveling to the ?Alaska of Siberia, if you will? to study fire and climate, Swetnam will spend a few weeks immersed in the burn history?and possible future?of some of the largest forests on earth.
?We?re trying to understand fire, climate change and carbon emissions out of Siberia because of the huge carbon pool contained there in the soil, permafrost, bogs and forests,? says Swetnam, a sturdy middle-aged man with an outdoorsy white beard. ?This giant pool of carbon is beginning to burn in a massive way?the amount of area burning in Siberia is startling.?
Here in the Southwest, the same could be said. Already this year fires have scorched unprecedented swaths of New Mexico and Colorado, and although Arizona is yet to feel anything approaching last year?s record-breaking blazes, the hiatus offers little more than a breath of fresh air. Of course Swetnam knows all this and much more. As an expert in dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, he?s been determining historical drought, climate and fire patterns as revealed by forests across the Southwest and beyond for upwards of 30 years. Dendrochronology, said to be the only science native to the Southwest, originally gained widespread attention in the early 20th century as a way to date ruins from lost cultures in the region, such as those found at Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde.
Swetnam runs through the fire history of the West like it?s his usual Sunday sermon. Dry years have traditionally led directly into large burn years. Fire patterns tend to correlate with precipitation patterns in the region such as those associated with El Nino and La Nina. Climate change is likely intensifying weather extremes and causing hotter and dryer weather, both exacerbating fire danger.
Then he gets into the less established theories.
?It?s not just the drying and not just high temperatures that are increasing burns, but the extraordinary wind events happening as well,? says Swetnam. ?It?s possible that this is associated with weather pattern changes. Kind of like massive cold fronts, with lightning.?
Or if not wind, maybe snow.
?It might be that for the high elevation and mountain areas snowpack is very important. This summer for instance we?ve seen burning in those wetter, higher forests in Colorado and New Mexico after multiple years of drought and little snowpack.?
Swetnam sees this as a very important question: When is it going to start burning at higher elevations where spruce and mixed-conifer thrive? Since 2000 there?s been a number of big fires in the Southwest, but mostly down in the middle and lower elevations. Looking back, 2012 may provide the answer.
?This year was classic in showing the connection between temperature increases and early snowmelt,? says Swetnam. ?When we get an extended spring the snows leave early, so by true summertime the higher elevations are ready to burn.?
There?s also the issue of devastating re-burns, and not just at higher elevations. Take the Las Conchas Fire in the Northern New Mexico Jemez Mountains last year that re-burned over areas hit by the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000 and the Dome Fire in 1994. Swetnam estimates that the first time the forest burns it loses 30 to 40 percent of the overstory, or uppermost layer of forest canopy, because the landscape has a lot of understory fuel and dense thicket stands?Often even denser than they should be due to the recent history of fire suppression by the Forest Service?thus leaving behind a patchy mosaic of burn scars.
?A lot of burned areas come back as shrubs, Gambel oak or grasses at first,? says Swetnam. ?If another catastrophic fire blows through you?re left with enormous canopy holes. It could be thousands of years before forest is able to grow back due to lack of seed source and extreme erosion.?
At higher elevations Aspen? slender, deciduous trees that spread through a connected root system and grow in dense groves? might make all the difference in regenerating higher elevation forests because of their ability to grow back after a fire and stimulate groundcover. ?Unless we get two, four or six degrees of warming,? says Swetnam. ?Then all bets are off.?
A former Forest Service firefighter himself, Swetnam seems well suited for the outdoors but has adjusted to life in the cavernous corridors of the U of A football stadium, where the Tree-Ring Lab is located until their new building is completed within the year. By the time he joined the Forest Service in the mid-70s the Gila Mountains in Western New Mexico were one of the first places to reintroduce controlled burns after decades of total fire suppression. For Swetnam monitoring these fires was a major eye opener.
?We were out there for over a month just walking and riding horses around the fire,? recalls Swetnam. ?Rather than just thinking about putting the damn thing out, I had the chance to wander around the low, creeping flames and smoke and just watch. It was a beautiful revelation about how things are supposed to be.?
Ari Phillips writes OntheroadwithAriPhillips, an energy and climate change blog about the American Southwest. This piece was originally publishes at OntheroadwithAriPhillips and was reprinted with permission.
A Texas meat manufacturer agreed to a nearly $400,000 settlement with the Department of Justice after a labeling mistake led to inmates being fed dog food. A USDA inspection concluded that the Federal Bureau of Prisons purchased “meat trimmings” intended for animals and served them to prisoners at an East Texas jail in place of fajita meat. Although John Soules Food Inc. will have to change its food safety procedures and compensate the government for its three-year-long investigation into the mix-up, “there is no evidence that anyone who consumed any of the ‘beef trimmings’ product suffered any ill effects.”
I have to admit that, in a week full of absolute ridiculousness in politics, I’m feeling refreshed by the return of my favorite political joke of the cycle, Key & Peele‘s skits about Luther, President Obama’s anger translator:
It’s wonderfully cathartic to hear Luther spit “I did not realize that was an option,” about Romney’s refusal to release his tax returns in contrast to the mountain of disclosure President Obama’s been required to do in response to deeply specious claims about his citizenship. I don’t want to see Obama lose his cool during the election, even as I’m angry at the double standard that would condemn him as an angry black man. But Luther is my favorite fictional surrogate for the President, and Obama himself is a fan as well. That transmutation of the double standard into comedy gold is a powerful thing, claiming the limitations our politics put on Obama and turning them into a call for a more honest politics that also acknowledges the limitations of anger.
Frontier markets — the term is getting a lot of coverage these days. Last May, I wrote an article for Street Authority imploring readers to get invested in the next Brazil, Russia, India . . . → Read More: The Time to Invest in the Next Emerging Markets is NOW
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The Republican presidential nominee was once a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade, but underwent a just-in-time pro-life conversion to seek his party's nomination. Kowtowing to the GOP's evangelical base, he named a hardline social conservative who opposed abortion in all cases, including rape and incest. Then the week before the Republican National Convention made his nomination official, the drafters of the GOP platform ignored their presidential choice and instead enshrined his number two's view and the draconian Human Life Amendment as party orthodoxy.
If you guessed this was the tale of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, you'd be right. Then again, if you suspected this was a brief history of John McCain and Sarah Palin, you'd be right, too.
In response to Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" outrage, Team Romney announced Sunday that "Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin's statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape." While a reversal of Paul Ryan's past positions, that sound bite was at least consistent with the 2012 edition of "My Pro-Life Pledge" in which Mitt Romney proclaimed, "I am pro-life and believe that abortion should be limited to only instances of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother."
"Faithful to the 'self-evident' truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed," the draft platform declares. "We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children."That's little changed from four years ago, when the 2008 Republican platform similarly declared that fetuses are entitled to equal protection and due process of law:
Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment's protections apply to unborn children.That position represented quite a transformation for John McCain. After all, in 1999 he declared, "I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations." But in anticipation of his upcoming White House run, McCain reversed course in 2006. By May of 2008, McCain explained his new position, one he wanted to see reflected in his party's platform:
My position has always been: exceptions of rape, incest and the life of the mother," the senator said.As it turned out, not so much. Because in the interim, John McCain tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate.
When asked if he would encourage the party to include them in the platform, he replied, "Yes," adding: "And by the way, I think that's the view of most people, that rape, incest, the life of the mother are issues that have to be considered."
(Continue reading below the fold.)
Yes, Mrs. Romney, I'm a small minded person. I don't have a genius level IQ. But, I'm not stupid,[...]
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