The New York Post reports Sunday that Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was placed under security by authorities after an “unspecified threat.” The source of the threat is not clear — he was “described as a Muslim man” — but the Post linked the incident to widely-repudiated allegations made by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) tying Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood and suggesting her nefarious influence on the U.S. government. New York police and the State Department reportedly questioned the man, who was not charged, according to the Post. (HT: Laura Rozen)
Another week, another idiotic headline in the New York Times: “We?re All Climate-Change Idiots.”
Who is to blame for the nation’s inaction on climate?
Who is to blame for the fact that a climate bill that passed the House in 2009 — and that would have put us on a path to take stronger action than any other country in the world — didn’t become law?
Could it be the anti-democratic, extra-constitutional, super-majority “requirement” that only bills that get 60 votes in the Senate can become law?
Could it be the fact that the GOP strategy for dealing with Obama, as explained by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell back in 2010, is to avoid giving any legislation the patina of bipartisanship: ”The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
How about the anti-science, pro-pollution ideologues — many funded by fossil fuel companies — who have spread disinformation and poisoned the debate so much that it is unrecognizable — so much that John McCain, the GOP champion of climate action actually trashed a bill considerably weaker than the one he tried to pass twice?
How about the media’s generally enabling and inadequate coverage – see ?How the status quo media failed on climate change? and How the press bungles its coverage of climate economics: ?The media?s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress?). See also “Silence of the Lambs 2: Media Herd?s Coverage of Climate Change Drops Sharply ? Again.”
Of course not.
No, this piece ignores or dismisses the groups that deserve 90% of the blame and instead says in the next paragraph:
Yes, there are political and economic barriers, as well as some strong ideological opposition, to going green. But researchers in the burgeoning field of climate psychology have identified another obstacle, one rooted in the very ways our brains work. The mental habits that help us navigate the local, practical demands of day-to-day life, they say, make it difficult to engage with the more abstract, global dangers posed by climate change.
Yes, there is that oh-so-tiny “barrier” called the filibuster. And there is “some” strong ideological opposition, just a bit, though, really none worth devoting even a full sentence to (see National Journal: ?The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones?).
And so we are subjected to a bunch of psychoanalysis and social science research about how we all have a mental block to solving the climate problem.
Yet the piece never bothers to cite any polling analysis, probably because virtually every poll conducted in 2009 and 2010 and more recentl shows that the American public wants strong climate action. Here are a few:
?Political candidates get more votes by taking a ?green? position on climate change ? acknowledging that global warming is occurring, recognizing that human activities are at least partially to blame and advocating the need for action ? according to a June 2011 study by researchers at Stanford University.?
So yes, we’re all to blame, the “silent majority” of people who want climate action. Or I should say “silenced majority,” since the media mostly ignores us as does the other key player who gets no mention or blame in this piece — the President (see “The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2“).
If we’re climate idiots, Dave Roberts at Grist knows who is to blame — see his great piece “TV news endumbens viewers on climate, again.”
The Times has a lot of choice about what opinion pieces to publish. But it is no surprise at all that they picked one with this final paragraph:
Simply presenting climate science more clearly is unlikely to change attitudes. But a better understanding of our minds? strange workings may help save us from ourselves.
Here’s the thought balloon from the NY Times that should accompany this piece:
See, dear readers, just because we’re doing a wholly inadequate job of covering climate science, we aren’t to blame for climate inaction. You are!
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) is deeply, personally familiar with the effects of gun violence: Her husband was killed and her son gravely and permanently injured by a gunman who rampaged through their train car seventeen years ago. Since then, McCarthy has been a staunch advocate for stronger regulations on firearms.
As her colleagues grapple with their stance on gun regulations following the theater shooting in Colorado that killed 12 and injured 58, McCarthy is as vocal as ever about the need for stricter gun laws. On Sunday’s Meet The Press, McCarthy said her fellow members of congress “don’t have the spine anymore” to step up and take action:
McCARTHY: I always look at it this way, no one from the NRA is ever going to vote for me. They’re just not. They might even come after me on other issues. But the thing of it is, as a politician, a lot of politicians know it’s the right thing to try to fight for something to save lives. They don’t have the spine anymore. They pander to who’s giving them money.
Two of McCarthy’s colleagues have stepped up to call for assault weapons bans. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), who represents the district where the shooting occurred, and Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) hope to create stronger legislation in the fallout of the shooting. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has also proposed modifications to ammunition sales.
The alleged gunman in the Aurora, Colorado shooting obtained all of his guns and ammunition legally. Those included 6,000 rounds of ammunition, two handguns, a shotgun, and an AR-15 rifle which was illegal until recently when lawmakers failed to renew a ban on the weapon.
Conservative commentator Bill Kristol today on Fox News Sunday said that Democrats are “being foolish” by not proposing sensible gun regulations. “People have a right to handguns and hunting rifles,” Kristol said, “I don’t think they have a right to semi-automatic, quazi-machine guns that can shoot hundred bullets at a time. And I actually think the Democrats are being foolish as they are being cowardly. I think there is support for some moderate forms of gun control if they separate clearly from a desire to take away everyone’s handguns or hunting rifles. …President Obama on this one is just unwilling to take a strong stance.” Watch it:
Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has written an editorial condemning the state’s ongoing voter purge and criticizing “zealots overreacting to contrived threats of voter fraud by significantly narrowing the voting pool.” “Cynical efforts at voter suppression are driven by an un-American desire to exclude as many people and silence as many voices as possible,” Crist writes. “Our country has never solved anything with less democracy, and we?re far better off when more citizens can access the polls ? no matter which party mobilizes the most voters to them.”
On the conservative Christian radio show AFA Today, evangelical spokesperson Jerry Newcombe blamed the tragedy of the Aurora shooting on the nation’s loss of fear of God and hell. Discussing the victims, Newcombe argued that the non-Christians were going to Hell:
If a Christian dies early, if a Christian dies young, it seems tragic, but really it is not tragic because they are going to a wonderful place.. on the other hand, if a person doesn?t know Jesus Christ.. if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then, basically, they are going to a terrible place.
Newcombe is a spokesperson for Truth in Action Ministries, which has two nationally syndicated television programs and a combined audience of over half a million on television, radio, and the Internet. In a column in One News Now, Newcombe wrote that the shooting was evidence that “we’re reaping what we’ve been sowing as a society,” explaining, “Lawsuit after lawsuit, often by misguided ‘civil libertarians,’ have chased away any fear of God in the land.”
On the same radio segment, Fred Jackson, the host and director of the American Family Association, similarly blamed Hollywood, liberal media and churches for contributing to mass shootings:
I have to think that all of this, whether it?s the Hollywood movies, whether it?s what we see on the internets, whether it?s liberal bias in the media, whether it?s our politicians changing public policy, I think all of those somehow have fit together?and I have to say also churches who are leaving the authority of Scripture and losing their fear of God?all of those things have seem to have come together to give us these kinds of incidents.
Jackson’s American Family Association is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its frequent demonizing of homosexuality. The conservative Christian blame game kicked off Friday when Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) attributed the shooting to atheism and attacks on Christians.
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Tea party-backed Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) says that the right to own high-capacity ammunitions magazines like the 100-round drum that was used to kill at least a dozen people in Colorado last week is a "basic freedom" that is protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Fox News host Chris Wallace on Sunday asked Johnson why people needed military-grade weapons like the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and large ammunition clips used by the shooter in Aurora, Colorado where at least 12 were killed and 58 were wounded.
"The left always uses the term 'assault rifle,' and they're really talking about semi-automatic weapons that are used in hunting," Johnson explained. "That's what happens in Wisconsin. These are rifles that are used in hunting. Just the fact of the matter is this is really not an issue of guns. This is about sick people doing things you simply can't prevent. It's really an issue of freedom."
"Does something that would limit magazines that can carry 100 rounds, would that infringe on the constitutional right?" Wallace wondered.
"I believe so," Johnson insisted. "There are magazines -- 30-round magazines -- that are just common all over the place. You simply can't keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals that want to do harm."
"I would be very surprised if hunters in your state hunted with a 100-round ammunition feeding device," Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) disagreed. "In the bill I did, we exempted 375 rifles and shotguns by name so that no weapon used for hunting was effected at all. It's just the military-style assault weapons."
"But the result of that ban, it didn't solve any problems," Johnson insisted. "I look at the statistics and say it has no measurable effect. You can actually argue that it made matters worse. But I don't want to get into statistics. We are talking about basic freedoms."
In fact, Johnson would have likes to have seen more people armed in that Aurora theater.
"It's certainly one of the rationales behind concealed carry, where criminals actually had to be a little concerned before they commit a criminal act that maybe somebody could stop them," Johnson told Wallace. "And I think that is the truth, that if somebody -- a responsible individual -- had been carrying a weapon that maybe, maybe it could have prevented some of those deaths, some of those injuries. I mean, that's just the truth."
"And maybe you could have had a fire fight and killed many more people," Feinstein pointed out.
I don?t want to dismiss the extreme nature of shooter James Holmes? obvious mental illness. Like psychiatrists say about Taxi Driver?s Travis Bickle, Holmes might suffer from schizotypal personality disorder. Certainly he suffers from serious[...]
Read The Full Article:
The New York Daily News tells it like it is, but I doubt anyone in power is listening. Why not? Because as many Republicans are dictated to by Grover Norquist, politicians on both sides of the aisle grovel at the feet of Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association. Politicians rarely bother to try to explain the actual nuances of gun control, and how it isn't actually a plot to take away your hunting rifles. They almost never come out in support of even the mildest of gun control laws, no matter how many people are slaughtered.
The same people screaming about any attempt to control who gets to buy a gun are the same people demanding that anyone who tries to vote must first jump through numerous hoops. What a screwed-up nation we live in:
The police chief in Aurora, Colo., said he is confident that massacre gunman James Holmes acted alone. The police chief was dead wrong.
Standing at Holmes? side as he unleashed an AR-15 assault rifle and a shotgun and a handgun was Wayne LaPierre, political enforcer of the National Rifle Association.
Standing at Holmes? side as he sprayed bullets and buckshot into a crowded movie theater were Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a President and a would-be President, who have bowed to the NRA?s dictates and who responded to the slaughter Friday with revolting, useless treacle.
Standing at Holmes? side as he murdered 12 and wounded 59 were the millions of zealots who would sooner see blood flow and lives end than have to check a box on a gun registration form.
In a vain claim of innocence, the fanatics will say Holmes is a monster and a maniac, that he fired and fired and fired as a man possessed. Each protestation clamps their fingers with his around the trigger.
Because they made sure that virtually everyone, Holmes included, has unfettered legal access to heavy weaponry. And they made sure he was permitted by law to drive to the kill scene with a fully loaded arsenal.
Such is the conscienceless extremism of America?s gun lovers that they accept wholesale slaughter as akin to a fatal highway pileup. Accidents happen, in their grotesque view, and so do mass killings by firearms.
Lower death tolls ? two, three, four, five ? in offices, parks and restaurants slip from memory as awful but routine, cause for momentary pain and nothing more.
The day-to-day mayhem of street-crime shootings, responsible for more deaths than all the mass carnage combined, makes it to the police blotter, the courts, the newspapers, the emergency rooms and the cemeteries.
Every Aurora-like spasm provokes the question: How did the killer get his guns? Overwhelmingly, the answer is that he acquired them legally from a licensed dealer under the permissive laws of the local jurisdiction and the deliberately porous oversight of the federal government.
In Aurora, the authorities say someone lawfully bought the weapons used by Holmes and that he carried them lawfully until the moment he pulled a trigger. Even the purchase of the AR-15, a rapid-fire, military-style semi-automatic fit for nothing but combat, was by the books.
Once, federal law would have kept Holmes? hands off a superdeadly weapon like the AR-15. In 1994, under President Bill Clinton, Congress outlawed the manufacture and possession of assault weapons, but the statute had a 10-year expiration date.
IN 2004, it went off the books to cheers from the NRA, led by LaPierre, who keeps Washington in line and who went to ground Friday, declining comment ?until all the facts are known.? As if they aren?t already.
Obama postures as supporting a new assault weapons ban but has done exactly nothing to restore the prohibition. Nor has he moved to close the loophole that allows for gun purchases without background checks at weapons shows.
His statement about the Aurora massacre was a dodge. Obama said in part: ?If there?s anything to take away from this tragedy, it?s the reminder that life is very fragile, our time here is limited and it is precious, and what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it?s not the trivial things which so often consume us and our daily lives.?
With all due respect, the presidential takeaway should have been a drive for strengthened gun control, if only for the assault weapons ban. In righteous anger, Obama should have confronted the NRA?s political might regardless of polls that show a strong sentiment against restoring the prohibition.
So, too, Romney, who was no less saccharine than Obama in discussing Aurora and is no less craven on gun control. As governor of Massachusetts, he signed a state assault weapons ban and defended tough anti-gun statutes. Then, as a presidential candidate, he joined the NRA and has since professed fealty to the group?s positions.
Through their inaction and their silence, Obama and Romney have fallen into line with all those who enabled Holmes to take hold of that AR-15 and will enable others to do so in the future unless America?s political leaders develop the courage to fight to save lives.
By Heather Lammers, via NREL
The blips of a heart monitor, the hum of an MRI, the intense lights of a surgical room: all can bring both comfort and fear ? and all require a lot of power. But new hospitals are being filled with natural, calming light and are leveraging energy from the sun and earth to power the machines, instruments, and tools medical professionals use to help patients recover.
Hospitals use a lot of energy to save lives. In fact, they use more than 836 trillion BTUs of energy every year and produce more than 2.5 times the carbon dioxide emissions of commercial office buildings.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Commercial Buildings Program and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are working with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the buildings industry (see sidebar) to find ways to reduce the energy intensity of large hospitals, schools, and retail buildings by 50%.
“The Advanced Energy Design Guidelines [AEDG] series represents the best practices in industry for energy efficiency in buildings,” NREL Senior Research Engineer and AEDG Project Chair Shanti Pless said. “Our job is to develop those best practices, along with the professionals in the industry, and put them together in an easy-to-implement guide. NREL created the modeling and optimization software used to determine that what is going into the guides achieves a 50% savings goal.”
The NREL commercial buildings team of Pless, Eric Bonnema, and Matt Leach led the development of the Large Hospital, Retail, and School 50% Savings AEDGs. Pless was chair of the project committees of industry experts, and Bonnema and Leach provided efficiency expertise and energy modeling optimization support.
U.S. hospitals spend more than $5 billion annually on energy, often equaling 1% to 3% of a typical hospital’s operating budget. “Healthcare is a big opportunity for energy savings,” Pless said. “We felt this industry needed resources, and there weren’t many out there helping them to achieve 50% savings in energy.”
The 50% AEDG series is a new group of publications that builds on previous successes. Collaborators including DOE and NREL published a series of six 30% AEDGs covering structures ranging from small office buildings to highway lodging to self-storage buildings. Between the 30% and 50% AEDGs, there are roughly 450,000 copies currently in circulation. The full series of AEDGs is available as a free download at www.ashrae.org/aedg.
“ASHRAE, a professional organization consisting of 60,000 mechanical engineers who work on energy efficiency in buildings, is an excellent organization through which we disseminate the guides,” NREL Principal Lab Program Manager for Building Energy Technologies Ron Judkoff said. “ASHRAE also maintains commercial building standards for industry.”
But Don’t Just Follow Code
The building code is the baseline for the least energy-efficient building an owner can construct. Fortunately, there is nothing in building codes to stop building owners and construction companies who want to go for the most energy savings they can find ? and that’s where the AEDGs can bridge the gap.
“There is a lot of interest out there for 50% energy savings in buildings because just about anyone can do it, if they are paying attention,” Pless said. “And it doesn’t have to cost more if you are using streamlined design and construction processes.”
The AEDGs are written for owners, design teams, and contractors ? the professionals who will be constructing these buildings. If they don’t have experience in energy efficiency, they can look to these guides for examples and details on how to do it themselves. The guides have recommendation tables for all climate zones in the United States.
AEDG recommendations are also built on technical support documents written by the national labs that accompany the design guidelines. These support documents cover the details of the energy modeling used. For instance, while daylighting works well in almost all climate zones, heating and cooling can require different solutions from zone to zone, especially in hospitals because of the high demand for fresh air.
“Hospitals have strict ventilation requirements, and they bring in a certain amount of fresh air along with a certain amount of re-circulated air,” Bonnema said. “There is a huge potential for savings if you set up your system differently, since most hospitals are using energy to cool the air and then heat it back up.”
Jeff Boldt is the director of engineering for KJWW Engineering Consultants, and he was also a project team member for the Large Hospital AEDG. “It’s really interesting when you look at a large hospital energy model; the biggest use of energy is the reheat. It’s because you have to dehumidify all the air. For instance, you cool it down to 52 degrees in order to dehumidify it. Then, your boiler comes on to reheat the air. That process is usually the single largest use of energy in a hospital. This guide figures out how to get that reheat for free or cause the reheat not to happen at all.”
According to Boldt, the AEDG will help the healthcare industry understand that there are practical ways to design a building that uses 50% less energy. “I like that they are prescriptive because a lot of people aren’t comfortable with energy modeling. With the AEDGs, we’ve done all the energy modeling, and you can hand this to your design team and say ‘I want you to follow the items in this AEDG,’ and your team can go from a checklist and know what they are getting.”
Running those energy models and finding climate-by-climate solutions wouldn’t be possible without the computer modeling muscle at NREL. “From our optimization tools to mass modeling capabilities using 16 climate zones and five building types, all running different ‘what if’ scenarios, we are able to do all the modeling on a pretty condensed timeline,” Pless said.
Schools are Ahead of the Class
“Research has demonstrated that the quality of the physical environment affects student performance,” Pless said. “An environment that includes appropriate lighting, sound, temperature, humidity, and air quality can help students learn better. In many cases, improving these can also reduce energy use.”
Schools can have similar heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) issues as hospitals ? specifically, decoupling of ventilation air from space heating and cooling. If engineers are able to provide the heating and cooling separately from ventilation, this basically eliminates the issue of reheat in schools. NREL and the AEDG team have also produced a guide for K-12 Schools that includes:
The K-12 Schools AEDG was one that NREL chose to do early on because a number of schools are at the 50% energy-savings level, and there were many case studies to draw from. Pete Jefferson, a principal with Denver-based M.E. GROUP, was on the project committee for the K-12 Schools AEDG. He said the guides give professionals a solid starting base for energy design.
“These guides are a great shortcut for anybody who is working on a school. You can jump to the AEDG recommendations and start from there and see how much further you can go as a design professional,” Jefferson said. “When we do our energy models, we use the AEDG recommendations as our new baseline to see how we can improve from there.”
Some schools are even pushing the envelope to net-zero energy levels ? which is something the team hopes to tackle in the next round of design guides. A net-zero energy building is one in which annual on-site renewable energy production is equal to or greater than energy use.
“Net-zero makes a lot of sense for schools. They are built to last for 50 years, and a lot of effort goes into making them robust,” Pless said. “There are also teaching opportunities with energy-efficiency features and on-site renewables. So there are net-zero schools popping up, but having a design guide with best practices is key to helping them become widespread.”
The NREL team sees a need for a complete net-zero design guide series. “Industry is starting to understand that it can be done,” Pless said. “Having a net-zero office design guide is needed. There are examples across the country of offices that are attempting to do this.”
The United States adds 2% every year in new buildings and only tears down 1%, which means the nation continues to add to its energy use when it comes to buildings. The AEDG team sees the opportunity to make the new buildings more energy efficient and sees even greater opportunities when it comes to deep retrofits, because the recommendations in the guides can apply to both.
“At these building rates, over the course of 20 years, you’ve touched over half of the buildings in America through retrofits or bringing new construction to 50% savings,” Pless said. “That’s measureable impact on the 40% of the nation’s energy that gets used in buildings.”
Another area where the AEDGs have had an impact is the town of Greensburg, Kansas. After a 2007 tornado leveled nearly the entire town, DOE and NREL helped the town leaders create a newer, more efficient Greensburg. In this case, a whole town was constructed that was able to achieve 50% energy savings. “Greensburg was kind of a demonstration for us that if 50% energy savings can be done here, it can be done anywhere,” Pless said. “It exemplifies all the AEDG work that has been done.”
Heather Lammers does Media and Public Relations for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This piece was originally published at NREL an was reprinted with permission.