The United States? share of global college graduates fell substantially in the first decade of the 21st century and stands to drop even more by 2020 as developing economies in China and India have graduated more college students, presenting challenges for American workers? ability to remain competitive in a global economy in the future. The [...]
When the Missouri Senate race is still neck and neck next month, or into October, which national Republican outfit will suck it up and start putting money back into the race? The NRSC? The superpacs? We'll have a brief "discussion" of whether attack ads[...]
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Shorter GOP: Time for America's women to make some rape lemonade.Keep in mind that this is the guy a lot of Republicans wanted as their presidential candidate. And according to the Village, he's the "nice" one.Just wow. Via Gawker:This is what Mike Huckabee said today, as transcribed by the Los Angeles Times' James Rainey, about the upside of being raped and then getting...
This follows on the news that the GOP permitted an officially-designated "hate group" to write the anti-gay language in the party platform.
Just to carry over from the last post, Todd Akin will stay in his Senate race in Missouri, saying that he's received "tremendous grassroots support" over the last 48 hours. That will have to suffice for the time being, however. The National Republican[...]
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By Danielle Baussan and Jackie Weidman
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), blocking limits to harmful air pollution. The measure would have limited sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution, the main ingredients of acid rain and smog.
Each year, these regulations would prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of cases of aggravated asthma (see Table 1). It was estimated to provide up to $280 billion in annual economic benefits through health and environmental improvements alone.
Carol M. Browner, Former EPA Administrator and Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, said:
?Nobody can dispute the public health benefits of preventing harmful pollutants like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from crossing state lines and impacting air quality for millions of Americans. Congress? intent was that polluting states be held accountable for reducing cross-state air pollution.?
Today?s ruling creates a huge amount of uncertainty for the power plant industry, which will have to act in limbo until a new rule can be promulgated. The ruling endangers public health for all Americans. Air pollution doesn?t stop at state borders. Once created, it quickly travels to neighboring communities and states ? as far as hundreds of miles downwind.
In 2004, the Bush Administration decided to address this issue. EPA proposed the Clean Air Interstate Rule, requiring states to be ?good neighbors? by prohibiting upwind states from increasing downwind states? pollution limits and jeopardizing downward State CAA compliance.
However, a federal appeals court struck down CAIR in 2008. CAIR was permitted to continue with the understanding that it would be replaced by a new rule. CAIR?s replacement, the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (or CSAPR) was proposed by EPA in 2010 and finalized in 2011. CSAPR required EPA to identify upwind states that significantly contributed to SO2 and NOx pollution in downwind states. If a state was not ?a good neighbor? and significantly contributed to downwind air pollution, all the power plants in that upwind state were required to cut emissions using a cost formula.
Today, The U.S. Court of Appeals agreed that an upwind state should be held responsible for its contributing pollution in downwind states. However, it found that:
The dissenting judge, Judith Roberts, wrote that the majority opinion chose to ignore case law that upheld disproportional pollution limits and that there were no technical grounds for some of petitioner?s arguments.
She said that vacating the rule results in ?the endorsement of a ?maximum delay? strategy for regulated entities, rewarding states and industries for cloaking their objections throughout years of administrative rulemaking procedures.?
Utilities suing over CSAPR emitted 6.5 billion pounds of smog and acid rain pollution in 2010 alone. This is equivalent to nearly 22 pounds for every man, woman and child in the United States.
The companies that are fighting the EPA over this rule and others are some of the biggest polluters in the nation. They make billions of dollars in profits, and spend tens of millions on misleading ads, campaign contributions and lobbying Congress in a multilateral battle against public health.
Today?s ruling leaves the older, Clean Air Interstate Rule in place to reduce SO2 and NOx emissions. However, this system is an imperfect process because it doesn?t adequately protect public health through limits to pollution that travels beyond state borders.
For now, Americans will continue to pay the price of this pollution. John Walke, clean air director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, urges that the EPA immediately appeal this decision. NRDC notes that if the decision is not overturned, it will take years for the EPA to adopt replacement safeguards that are required by law.
As Carol Browner said:
?The court?s decision highlights the struggles of both the Bush and Obama administrations with implementing this rule. The public health benefits are too great and the risks too severe to abandon the effort to reduce cross state air pollution and democrats and republicans, the administration and Congress should work together to find the right way forward.?
Danielle Baussan is the Associate Director for Government Affairs at the Center for American Progress and Jackie Weidman is a Special Assistant with CAP?s Energy Team.
by KC Golden, via GRIP
In a memorable TV ad saluting the hard work of Olympic athletes, swimmer Ryan Lochte reveals how he made it to the Games in London: ?I swam here.?
That would be one way to avoid the modest cost of carbon pollution permits required for aviation under the EU?s Emission Trading System.
Senator John Thune has a less strenuous approach: Ban U.S. airlines from participating in the system. His European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act (S. 1956), passed by the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday, would authorize the Secretary of Transportation to do just that.
Now, it?s one thing to stand on the sidelines of the global campaign for climate solutions with your arms folded, as our federal government has mostly done for the last 15 years. It?s another thing to throw tomatoes at the players. That?s pretty much what S. 1956 is about.
The EU wisely decided to include aviation ? one of the fastest growing carbon emission sources ? in its ETS. The system limits dangerous carbon pollution and requires large emitters to have permits for the amount they produce. The number of permits declines over time ? as carbon emissions must. Air travel is conspicuous carbon consumption; exempting it would be a bit like allowing Ferraris to ignore speed limits.
The cost of these permits would amount to about $6 for a round-trip flight from Washington D.C. to Copenhagen. The ticket for that same flight on United this last April would have included a ?fuel surcharge? of $496, according to testimony submitted by Annie Petsonk of the Environmental Defense Fund in answer to questions posed by Senator Maria Cantwell. (Annie?s testimony is here.)
Since the emission limits incentivize cost-effective efficiency improvements in aviation, they reduce the risk of these large fuel surcharges. But increasing Americans? exposure to the growing costs of oil dependence is apparently not too high a price to pay for the Senate to flip the bird at Europe?s climate policy. This is particularly ironic/obnoxious, since the premier U.S. commercial airplane manufacturer, Boeing, is committed to leading the industry in efficient aviation technology and lower carbon fuels.
Senators Kerry and Boxer salvaged a little something out of this exercise in international nose-thumbing, adding an amendment that would require U.S. negotiators to achieve a global approach to reducing airline emissions through the International Civil Aviation Organization.
As Senator Kerry put it, S. 1956 amounts to ?authorizing through legislation the ability for U.S. companies to break the law of another country.? Not content to make America an international scofflaw and climate heckler, the bill would direct the Secretary of Transportation to hold U.S. airlines harmless for any penalties associated with their non-compliance. The airlines, of course, wouldn?t have it any other way. That could put U.S. taxpayers on the hook for about $22 billion by 2020, according to EDF. (You?d think that for that kind of money, someone would have offered an amendment requiring the airlines to offer some decent food and a little legroom.)
So rather than pay $6 for emission permits on a round-trip flight to Europe ? under a program that would promote efficiency and reduce fuel costs ? U.S. taxpayers would just pay airline companies? fines for failure to comply.
Hey, at least that would spread the costs more equally, right? This way, even if you swim to London, or just stay home and watch the Olympics on TV, you?ll still have to pay.
KC Golden writes for Grip on Climate. This piece was originally published at the GRIP blog and was reprinted with permission.
When Mike Huckabee’s radio show debuted in April, one of the ways Cumulus Media positioned his entry into the market was as a classier alternative to Rush Limbaugh. At the time, Limbaugh was in the midst of a controversy over his nasty attacks on then-Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, who he’d attacked for her testimony on coverage of contraception, and he looked like a viable target. As I noted at the time, “Cumulus Media?s seized that opportunity, telling stations that don?t have Limbaugh now and that might choose not to reup their contracts to carry him in the future, that in Huckabee, they?ve got a better alternative. The company?s distributed a list of 31 advertisers who have asked that their spots not be affiliated with any Limbaugh-related programming. And they?re pitching Huckabee?s show by telling stations it?ll offer ‘more conversation, less confrontation.’”
So there’s something rather astonishing about watching Limbaugh be more reasonable on a women’s health issue than Huckabee, as has been the case as both men have covered Rep. Todd Akin’s deplorable remarks about whether women can get pregnant as the result of rape. In the midst of peddling conspiracy theories about poll sampling and nailing down his pro-life bona fides, Limbaugh made a fairly good point on his show today: that comments like Akin’s are the result of a closed community reaching for any arguments they can make, no matter how specious, to convince listeners to of their position. He said:
So they sit around amongst themselves — I’m not being critical of ‘em; don’t misunderstand my choice of words or tone, and they try to think of ways to persuade other people who agree with them. So Akin goes on TV with Charles Jaco, which is mistake number one, but he goes on with Charles Jaco on local St. Louis TV. And this whole business of a woman’s body shuts down in rape, there’s no evidence for that. But this is the kind of thing that people who do nothing but talk amongst themselves will conjure up, a belief system like that, and they’ll grab on to anything they can to support what their empirical belief is because their ultimate aim is to save life.
Their ultimate aim is to protect the baby no matter what circumstance the conception occurs in. And I think that’s just who the guy is, but he doesn’t know how to explain it. He has no clue how to make his case for it. And so he hangs around people who are like-minded and they’ve devised this belief. He’s not the first guy to say this. I’ve had people tell me that a woman’s body shuts down in rape. There’s no evidence for this. I mean it’s absolutely absurd. This leads to the second problem. This is absurd. That belief that a woman’s body shuts down and the whole notion of “legitimate” “illegitimate” rape, that’s the thing that bothers me about it. That’s just absurd. It’s not intelligent.
Huckabee, by contrast, has doubled down in support of Akin. He’s given him space on his show for Akin to explain that he didn’t mean to promote ideas with precisely no scientific basis?he just mean to communicate that sometimes women lie about being sexually assaulted. Huckabee’s continued to flog the junk scientific claims of Dr. John Willke, the physician who’s backed up Akin’s claims, and whose fitness to handle women’s health issues I dearly hope is under investigation by the relevant credentialing organizations. And most horrifyingly, on Monday, he got on the air to guilt women who have become pregnant as the result of rape about carrying those pregnancies to term:
?Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape,? Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: ?I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”
There’s no question that for some women, choosing to keep a child in the aftermath of a sexual assault can be a powerfully affirming decision, as it was for Shauna Prewitt, who writes about her daughter in a powerful rebuttal to Akin posted on XOJane today. But just like abortion, that’s a profoundly personal decision for a woman to make that should be influenced solely by her beliefs about what would be best for her physically and mentally, rather than by the suggestion that if she chooses to terminate a pregnancy that’s the result of rape, she’s doing a wrong to society at large. Not to mention the fact Prewitt points out, that rapists retain parental and visitation rights in many states, and giving birth to a child conceived in an assault could force a woman to have ongoing contact with her attacker. It would be interesting to see what both Akin and Huckabee, both vigorous advocates of two-parent, heterosexual-led households have to say about that element of raising children who are the product of rape.
Conversation, Huckabee-style, it turns out, can be a way to mask in niceness ideas that are even nastier than those revealed by Limbaugh-style confrontation.
In the September issue of Playboy, its founder Hugh Hefner has penned an editorial about the importance of supporting LGBT equality and women’s rights. Lashing out at those conservatives who would impose their religious beliefs on society, Hefner describes marriage equality as “a fight for all of our rights”:
HEFNER: The fight for gay marriage is, in reality, a fight for all of our rights. Without it, we will turn back the sexual revolution and return to an earlier, puritanical time,? he writes. ?Today, in every instance of sexual rights falling under attack, you?ll find legislation forced into place by people who practice discrimination disguised as religious freedom. Their goal is to dehumanize everyone?s sexuality and reduce us to using sex for the sole purpose of perpetuating our species. To that end, they will criminalize your entire sex life.
[Conservatives continue] to assault the right of gays, whether by denying them to right to marry or, as in Kansas, by attempting to empower landlords, business owners and employers to discriminate against gays on religious grounds. [...]
This is a religious nation, but it is also a secular one. ? No one should have to subjugate their religious freedom, and no one should have their personal freedoms infringed. This is America and we must protect the rights of all Americans.
The commissioners of Mahoning County, Ohio, which contains the city of Youngstown, voted unanimously to keep the board of elections open on three October weekends for early voting. The decision flies in the face of the Ohio Secretary of State’s directive restricting voting hours to weekdays. Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, suspended two Democratic board of election members in Montgomery County after they pursued weekend voting hours. Mahoning County is 16.1% African American and went to Barack Obama in 2008 by 62% of the vote.