I have this continuing nightmare that I will be watching President Mitt Romney being sworn into the President's office with a smirking Paul Ryan at his side. I assume most of you feel helpless to try to put this feeling of anxiety to bed, but I have a cure. This past Saturday myself and four wonderful women from South Carolina; Vikki Olsen, Kathy Thomas, Amy Wood Hayes and Cherie Mabrey, went to Charlotte and knocked on almost 120 doors of uncommitted voters. I was overwhelmed by the openness of many people we met, many of whom were clearly moved by our presence. This past Saturday we were able to either persuade or account for dozens of votes for the President this November. Our few hours made a difference. So if you are worried about the election this November, get off the couch, fill out this form and spend half a day making sure you won't be watching President Romney being sworn in this January. If I can do it, so can you. Sincerely, Dick Harpootlian, SCDP Chairman
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Ryan Reilly goes inside the war room of the groups battling against the forces of voter suppression in 2012. [...]
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AS REPUBLICANS formulate their convention platform, the definition of equality and freedom are being rewritten.
“This would move us away from the benefits that marriage extends to a society,” objected Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council and a Louisiana delegate.
A handful of other members rose up to oppose the measure, which failed as opponents raised their voices to loudly say “no.” About a dozen members of the more than 100 delegates in the room voted in favor.
Iraq insisted on Monday that its trade with neighbouring Iran was above board, and denied reports that it was helping the Islamic republic skirt sanctions by smuggling oil and secretly moving cash. [AFP]
ON MONDAY, Iraq officially denied they were aiding Iran in ducking sanctions. Ali al-Moussawi, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s media advisor, spoke with AFP amid the charges from a New York Times article over the weekend.
From the article:
The little-known bank singled out by the United States, the Elaf Islamic Bank, is only part of a network of financial institutions and oil-smuggling operations that, according to current and former American and Iraqi government officials and experts on the Iraqi banking sector, has provided Iran with a crucial flow of dollars at a time when sanctions are squeezing its economy.
[...] In one recent instance, when American officials learned that the Iraqi government was aiding the Iranians by allowing them to use Iraqi airspace to ferry supplies to Syria, Mr. Obama called Mr. Maliki to complain. The Iranian planes flew another route.
Some current and former American and Iraqi officials, along with banking and oil experts, say that Iraqi government officials are turning a blind eye to the large financial flows, smuggling and other trade with Iran. In some cases, they say, government officials, including some close to Mr. Maliki, are directly profiting from the activities.
?Maliki?s government is right in the middle of this,? said one former senior American intelligence official who now does business in Iraq.
His only defender is an officially-designate hate group. Any questions?The Family Research Council offered strong support for Todd Akin on Monday afternoon.?This is an effort to try to direct attention away from ? Claire McCaskill, who has been supportive of Planned Parenthood ? an organization that?s been under investigation for criminal activity,? FRC President Tony Perkins said in...
During a meeting of the Republican National National Convention Platform on Tuesday, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach spoke out against an amendment that would have struck down the party’s longstanding support for the Defense of Marriage Act — which outlaws same-sex marriages — by comparing homosexuality with drug use and polygamy.
Pat Kerby, an RNC delegate from Nevada, introduced the amendment, arguing that “under the constitution, every American gets treated equally under the law.”
But Kobach, who is best know as the chief architect of Arizona’s xenophobic SB 1070 law and advises the Romney campaign on immigration issues, opposed the amendment by comparing LGBT people to drug users and polygamists:
Our government routinely judges sutuatons where you might regard people completely affecting themselves like for exmaple the use of controlled substances, like polygamy that is voluntarily entered in to. We condemn those activities even though they are not hurting other people at least directly. So this is worded way to broadly for inclusion in the platform.
The amendment was defeated by a voice vote.
Watch Kobach’s statement:
By Ellie Sandmeyer
Well over half the country is suffering from extreme drought, and locally, pets and animals are struggling with the effects of climate change as well. Triple-digit temperatures have gripped much of the U.S. this summer, and extreme heat, which NASA’s James Hansen wrote is “almost certainly” connected to climate change, can have a serious impact on animal biodiversity, as food grows scarcer and a wide variety of habitats dry out.
?The whole ecosystem is going to have to move north as the climate gets warmer to look for comfortable temperatures…. [L]ife events, migrations, and egg laying, and flowering and so on are changing, but they’re changing at different rates, and that makes an ecosystem that has evolved in a cooperative way over the last couple thousand, or 10,000, or 100,000 years ? it throws it out of kilter,” science journalist Michael Lemonick said on NPR.
There are many ways a climate on steroids throws animals and biodiversity “out of kilter”:
Rare Canadian wildfires endanger polar bear habitats
Because food resources are typically scarce during the summer, female Hudson Bay polar bears retreat to underground dens to rest and raise vulnerable young. However, unusually warm and dry weather in the region has allowed several wildfires to spring up and weakened permafrost, putting many of these century-old refuges in danger of collapse. And, of course, ?The survival of polar bears as a species is difficult to envisage under conditions of zero summer sea-ice cover,? concluded the 2004 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, by leading scientists from the eight Arctic nations, including the United States. We are headed toward those conditions in the next decade or two.
Snow leopards lose hunting ground
Snow leopards are currently losing hunting ground as new weather patterns push treelines further into their territory. Their current habitat is projected to decrease by 40% in the next century, seriously impacting the already struggling population, thought to number just 500. WWF snow leopard expert Rinjan Shrestha says, ”Loss of alpine habitat not only means less room for snow leopards, but also has the potential to bring them closer to human activities like livestock grazing.?
Wolverines rely on disappearing snow
A study by the Wildlife Conservation Society suggests that wolverines may rely on snow as a form of natural refrigeration for their food, the Huffington Post reports. Wolverines typically give birth during a limited period early in the year, and rely on caches of stored food to raise their young during lean times, making them particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Wolverines were flagged as a new candidate for protection in 2010.
Southern species travel north
Sightings of Southern animals–including Grizzly bears, red fox, white-tailed deer, Pacific salmon, and killer whales–have recently increased in arctic regions. Many scientists now believe that climate change is responsible for removing key barriers that previously prevented southern animals from traveling north, and new competition may have serious ramifications for Arctic biodiversity. Killer whales have been known to eat beluga whales and narwhal, and a red fox was filmed killing its arctic counterpart. Observations of new hybrid grizzly-polar bears have scientists worried about the dilution of the gene pool–a change that is likely impossible to reverse.
Snowshoe hares may struggle to camouflage
Snowshoe hares rely on their camouflage for survival. They shed their coats twice a year, shifting from brown to white seasonally, and Biologist L. Scott Mills found that hares are most likely to die during the transitional periods of fall and spring, when their coloring is mixed and their camouflage imperfect. Hare coloration changes have been correlated to seasonal changes in sunlight, not snowcover, so a future of unpredictable weather patterns may leave them increasingly vulnerable to predation.
Arctic Caribou Herds on the Decline
Caribou populations are in steep decline in many Arctic regions, Environment360 reports. Of the 43 major herds that scientists have tracked in the past decade, 34 are in decline, and population numbers have fallen 57% from historical highs. Some have seen more drops in numbers: the Bathurst herd in Canada has lost 93% since 1986. Scientists say that unusually high Arctic temperatures are responsible for the decline, and that Arctic resource-development projects have compounded the problem by cutting down the caribou?s natural range. Indigenous people in the region rely on caribou populations for food and clothing resources.
Massive coral bleaching tied to warmer temperatures
Scientists have observed several cases of mass-bleaching in the world?s coral reefs in the past 20 years. In high light conditions and with unusually warm waters, the algae that coral relies on produces excessively high levels of oxygen, which can be toxic to marine life. When this happens, coral either expels the algae, losing a key source of photosynthetic fuel and often dying as a result, or dies directly from the toxin. Oceans are the world?s most significant heat sinks, and maintain a far more constant temperature than weather-exposed land habitats. This makes it difficult for their inhabitants to find ways to beat the heat.
Destructive beetles flourish in warmer temperatures
The coffee berry borer is an insect that burrows into coffee berries to lay its eggs, killing the plant. Researchers estimate that the insect causes approximately $500 million in damage to the coffee industry each year, and say that it is becoming an increasingly serious problem as temperatures rise. Research shows that the pesticide-resistant beetle produces more eggs and burrows deeper into the coffee berry when temperatures are higher. Scientists project that coffee growers will have to move up 550 feet in altitude for ever 1.8° F increase in order to stay ahead of the damage.
Oceans face an oxygen crisis
Away from coral reefs, inhabitants of the world?s oceans are struggling from a severe lack of oxygen, prompting an increase of ?dead zones? around the world. A 2009 Nature Geoscience study found that these dead zones, ?devoid of fish and seafood? are poised to expand and ?remain for thousands of years.? Pollution from agricultural runoff and fossil fuels are key culprits, but warming weather may have a serious impact as well. Though the heat may help surface level algae produce higher levels of oxygen, scientists say that warmer water is less able to hold the dissolved oxygen and increased temperatures makes surface water lighter, decreasing the amount of water circulation. This may deprive deeper regions of the much-needed resource, causing fish to suffocate.
Climate change has already had a marked impact on a wide variety of species. Though some may be able to adapt to the new environment, some researchers warn that the possibility of adaptation depends on the stability of the environment. An increasingly extreme environment has severe implications for biodiversity and complicate successful adaptation, seriously impeding the stabilization of these populations.
Ellie Sandmeyer is an intern with the ThinkProgress War Room.
by Tina Casey, via CleanTechnica
How?d this one slip past us? Last week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced the winners of its Reinvent the Toilet Challenge and the top prize went to a souped up, solar-powered model that produces hydrogen and fertilizer. If you?re thinking this sounds like another pricey high-tech green gadget for next-generation McMansions, think again: the aim of the challenge is to kickstart the development of low cost toilets for the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don?t have access to modern sanitary facilities.
U.S. Captures Top Toilet Prize
The top winner was produced by the California Institute of Technology. The Caltech team won a $400,000 grant last year to produce a toilet that can operate without running water, does not discharge into a septic tank, and does not generate pollutants ? all for about five cents per user per day.
As the winner of the Reinvent the Toilet challenge, the team gets another $100,000 to fine-tune the device, which is a bit more complicated than your ordinary pot.
When CalTech?s toilet is flushed, the water and waste collect in a small tank called an electrochemical reactor. Powered by solar panels, the reactor breaks down waste into hydrogen gas, water, and solids.
The gas can be used to generate electricity from hydrogen fuel cells; the treated water can be used for irrigation or to flush the toilet; and the solids are rendered into an inert, organic material suitable for use as a fertilizer.
More Goodies from Beyond the Toilet Bowl
Other prize-winning entries came up with designs for toilets that create charcoal and other waste-to-energy products, and capture minerals along with reclaiming water.
All this activity won?t come as a surprise to regular readers of CleanTechnica, where wastewater reclamation is one of our favorite things to talk about. After all, the idea of recovering energy from people going about their daily business is pretty cool, kind of like the Matrix, only not.
In terms of the large-scale municipal sewage treatment plants that dot the landscape, the US is becoming a regular hotbed of sewage resource recovery and sustainable land use (some of those treatment plants cover a lot of acreage). Aside from producing fertilizer and usable water, some of the projects in development or well underway are biogas, biodiesel, bioplastic, solar power, and of course wind power.
We?ve also covered the work of Kartik Chandra, a Columbia University professor who has carved out a name for himself in the wastewater field with a study on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from treatment plants. Chandra has contributed to the development of a system using recovered ammonia to grow bacteria for biofuel, and last summer he received a Gates Foundation grant to produce a low cost municipal wastewater system that generates biodiesel and natural gas for communities in undeveloped areas.
On top of that, the Obama Administration has been getting behind the waste-to-energy trend in agriculture, encouraging dairy farms and other livestock operations to install equipment that generates methane gas and fertilizer from raw manure.
Aside from cutting down on waste disposal costs and reducing environmental hazards, the digesters provide farmers with low-cost energy and a potential new revenue stream. Try that with a lump of coal.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. This piece was originally published at CleanTechnica and reprinted with permission.
Remember in 2008 when the process of running for President seemed to drain John McCain of most of the qualities that had once made him appealing to independents and even some liberals? Timothy Egan?s brilliant piece at the New York Times suggests that something similar has happened to Mitt Romney: Romney['s] story is laden with [...]Related posts:
Oh, what a quandary for the Republican Party.
First, Rep. Todd Akin perfectly articulates what they all believe: that there's rape-rape and then there's not-really-rape (sometimes known as "legitimate rape" or "forcible rape" or "REALLY rape"). And, since bitches be lying, most incidents of rape aren't really rape. And also, ladyparts are magic and can deploy rape sperm deflector shields to "shut that whole thing down" to prevent pregnancy.
This is what the Republican Party believes. This is how the Republican Party has consistently voted. It's the position of the two people on the presidential ticket. But gosh, it sure is embarrassing to have the party's callousness and stupidity exposed for all to see and mock.
And Republicans really don't know what the hell to do about it:
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) on Tuesday released a list of conservative columnists and pundits around the country who are calling for Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) to step down from his Missouri Senate bid. [...]Sure, because if there's one thing Republicans can't stand, it's a guy with extremist views on abortion. Also, would you like to buy this bridge to nowhere?
Radio host Sean Hannity, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, and author Ann Coulter are among the prominent voices who have called for Akin to leave the race.
Pat Robertson, meanwhile, is tsk-tsking his fellow Republicans for getting so upset just because Akin "screwed up" and "made a dumb remark." (As with other empty condemnations of Akin's remarks, Robertson fails to specify what's so "dumb" about what Akin said because Robertson also completely agrees with him.) But since Akin is ahead in the polls, Robertson says, and Republicans really want to win the Senate, now is not the time to "form a circular firing squad."
Let's all take a moment to appreciate that Pat Robertson?the guy who thinks God sends natural disasters to punish people who don't live according to how Robertson thinks they should?is trying to be the voice of reason in the Republican Party.
And let's not forget the newly minted leader of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan's running mate, who is "offended." Not that anyone cares.
And then you have the rabid anti-choicers, the only semi-honest ones in the whole party, who don't have a problem with what Akin said because they all agree with it:
Pro-life groups, however, have taken a decidedly different take. Both the Susan B. Anthony List and Family Research Council have stood by Akin. They don?t see him as a politician who has made a career ending gaffe. In their view, he?s a strong abortion right opponent who articulated a tenant of the pro-life movement: Abortion should be illegal in all situations, rape included.So of course the Republican Party will be officially adopting the Akin position in its party platform, officially endorsing "a human life amendment to the Constitution that would outlaw abortion without making explicit exemptions for rape or incest."
?Todd Akin ? has a record of voting to protect human life,? said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, reaffirming her support in a statement. He ?has been an excellent partner in the fight for the unborn.?
Even though the the Republican presidential nominee has a different view. This week, at least.
Could the Republican Party possibly be a bigger mess right now?