A judge from the National Labor Relations Board has overturned a union election at a Target store in New York in which workers ostensibly voted against becoming the first of the retail giant’s locations to organize. The judge ordered Target, which is notorious for its anti-labor practices, to hold a new election after agreeing with the United Food and Commercial Workers, who had accused the company of intimidating workers ahead of the election, Bloomberg Businessweek reports:
The decision comes almost a year after The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500 contested the 137-85 vote against unionization in June 2011. It argued that Target illegally intimidated workers for months leading up to the vote. Target denied the allegations. [...]
“Target completely poisoned the democratic process from day one,” said Patrick Purcell, assistant to the president of the UFCW Local 1500 in an interview with The Associated Press. “And now a judge agreed with everything we said.”
UFCW workers complained of intimidation immediately after the vote last year, and in November, the NLRB found additional evidence that Target officials illegally threatened to close the store if workers organized. It also found that Target supervisors “interrogated workers about their union activity,” complains the judge apparently found to be true.
In March, Target announced that it was temporarily close the store for six months for renovations, a move workers alleged was in retaliation for their organization efforts (1,100 Target stores are undergoing renovations nationwide, but most will remain open throughout the process). According to workers who filed the complaint, those who were the most vocal in their union support were deemed ineligible for transfers to other stores or for re-hire once the store re-opened, and they were given paltry severance packages to boot.
Target, however, says it “respectfully disagrees” with the decision and that its actions leading up to the election were “fair and legal.”
Mark Boslough, via Skeptical Science
Climate change is debated in letters to the editor of hometown newspapers all over the world. In the Las Cruces, New Mexico, Sun-News, one reader recently cited “a 1996 paper by Kiegwin (sic) in Science which showed that, despite the present having a CO2 concentration of 388 PPM, the present temperature is cooler than the average of the last 3,000 years, and that it was considerably warmer than today during the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period, and the Holocene climate Optimum.? A few months later another reader asserted that ?Keigwin, Science, 1996, shows present temperatures aren?t much different from the 3,000 year mean.?
Did the Keigwin paper really say that? And how is it that two non-scientists from a mid-sized New Mexico city would be so confident that a scientific paper published a decade-and-a-half earlier supports their belief that the world was warmer during Medieval times?
First, let?s review Keigwin (1996). The title ?The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period in the Sargasso Sea? might provide the first clue that it isn?t about global temperatures, but about one location on Earth: the Sargasso Sea. What Keigwin did was to use oxygen isotope measurements in plankton skeletons from sediment cores as a proxy to reconstruct the sea surface temperature (SST) of the past 3000 years. The cores were collected in 1990, and were divided into 50- to 100-year segments. In the absence of mixing or bioturbation from below, the mid-point of the most recent 50-year thick sample, whose value would represent the most recent paleotemperature, would be 1965. In a perfect world, the bottom of the segment would date to 1940. However, sediments in the real world are never completely undisturbed. It is very likely that the most recent segment contained shells from the early 1900s or even from the previous century. That means the last paleotemperature is really an average that probably includes values from before automobiles and light bulbs were invented.
Keigwin published a graph, as Figure 4b (K4B), of his best estimate of the resulting time series:
He also included several years of modern instrumental measurements at hydrographic station ?S? in Bermuda, starting in 1954. The modern year-to-year temperatures fluctuate significantly, but the mean is well above the 23°C average of the entire proxy record.
It is unlikely that the Las Cruces letter-writers ever read this paper, or they would have known it wasn?t about global temperatures. It is highly cited in the contrarian literature as evidence against human-caused global warming, and turns up in many blogs and editorials without reference to the Sargasso Sea. How did this happen?
The misuse appears to have started in the late 1990s, when Arthur P. Robinson of the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine (OISM) started the so-called ?Oregon Petition? to collect signatures of people opposed to the Kyoto Protocol. With his son Zachary and two associates from the conservative George C. Marshall pressure group (Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon), he self-published a paper called ?Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide? designed to look like a peer-reviewed article from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US). It was mailed out with the petition to many thousands of engineers, dentists, veterinarians, and even some scientists. In January, 1998 it appeared in a periodical published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a political advocacy organization with a stated mission to ?fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine.? The executive director of AAPS is also member of Robinson?s OISM. In it was their Figure 2, a modified version of Keigwin?s K4B.
Robinson and coauthors made several changes in representation and labeling. First they inverted the axes so time runs from left to right, but they were unaware that when paleoclimate data are plotted ?years before present? means ?years before 1950? so their data is shifted by about 50 years. Second, they removed the data from hydrographic station ?S? which showed that recent temperatures are above the long-term average. Third, they neglected to label it as being a record for the Sargasso Sea. Fourth, they called it a global temperature in the text, saying, ?For the past 300 years, global temperatures have been gradually recovering. As shown in figure 2, they are still a little below the average for the past 3,000 years.?
This paper became the basis for statements in two influential Wall Street Journal opinion pieces. The first, in 1997, was by Robinson and his son Zachary, called ?Science Has Spoken: Global Warming Is a Myth.? They stated,
During the past 3,000 years, there have been five extended periods when it was distinctly warmer than today. One of the two coldest periods, known as the Little Ice Age, occurred 300 years ago. Atmospheric temperatures have been rising from that low for the past 300 years, but remain below the 3,000-year average.
The second editorial, with son Noah, was called ?Global Warming is 300-Year-Old News.? In that one, they stated that ?Earth temperatures are now near the 3,000-year average and clearly not unusual.? Their Oregon Petition figure was re-drafted with different temperature units, but the time scale was still wrong, and the current thermometer measurements were still missing. Despite the misrepresentation in the text as ?Earth temperatures? the graph this time was labeled ?Temperature of the Sargasso Sea from 1000 BC to 1975 AD.? The source of the year 1975 as the endpoint is unclear and did not come from Keigwin?s paper.
This Wall Street Journal version of the graph appears to have become the new ?primary source? for those who argue that temperatures are actually lower now than they were in the past. Award winning editorial cartoonist John Trever redrew it for an ironic dig at climate scientists who claim otherwise (including?with true irony?Lloyd Keigwin, the original author of the figure).
In 2004, I was asked by my management to review the original sources of these claims, and I wrote several messages to Arthur Robinson asking for some clarifications. Because I was planning to write a report, I wanted to give him the courtesy of responding with any clarifications or corrections. Among other questions, I included the following,
I’m wondering what is your basis for the statement, “During the past 3,000 years, there have been five extended periods when it was distinctly warmer than today.” (Robinson & Robinson, The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 4, 1997). I’ve seen this quoted by others (often without attribution) but it looks like you were the first to say it.
I note that the Sargaso (sic) Sea curve shows five earlier periods where the temperature was above the mean and therefore warmer than today. This is probably the source of the statement.
Significantly, business advocate Raymond Keating?in testimony to House Small Business Committee (June 4, 1998)?said, ?During the past 3,000 years, there have been five extended periods when it was distinctly warmer than today.?
I proceeded to ask Robinson some more difficult questions,
I can see that your Figure 2 was taken directly from the 1996 Keigwin paper, but with the post-1954 instrumental “Station S” SST data removed. Was there a reason you took the directly measured temperature off? What method did you use to calculate the 23 C mean? Did you derive it from the original Keigwin data or was that simply an estimate to the nearest degree?
You incorrectly represented the graph as global temperature. You stated, “For the past 300 years, global temperatures have been gradually recovering (11). As shown in figure 2, they are still a little below the average for the past 3,000 years.”
I plan to include these observations in my final writeup. If you care to respond, I would be happy to include your comments.
To which Robinson replied,
Regarding the world data. We clearly labeled this data location. Since virtually all other available dats (sic) from other locations (see Soon and Baliunas) is similar, providing this example was entirely ethical.
It is too bad your employers could not find an objective scientist for this task. I will not be providing any additional comments, since I am quite sure they would not be presented in their enirety (sic) to your employers, any more than will those I have already written. You are clearly devoted to lifting selected things from their context.
Do not waste your time with additional email. It will be shunted to the unopened file here.
For the record, I provided all his responses to my management in their entirety.
The most recent chapter of this story began when the periodical of the AAPS re-published an edited and colorized version of the paper in 2007 under a different author rotation (Baliunas was removed, and son Zachary was replaced by son Noah). Perhaps because of my 2004 criticisms, an instrumental data point was added for year 2006, and the mean temperature was shifted.
The paper explained the source of the 2006 temperature thusly, ?A value of 0.25 °C, which is the change in Sargasso Sea temperature between 1975 and 2006, has been added to the 1975 data in order to provide a 2006 temperature value.?
Unable to reproduce this temperature with the data I had, I wrote to Willie Soon in 2010 and asked for the source of the data. He cordially responded and sent me the table, telling me,
?also about the most recent point at “2006″—sorry that I could not be more certain, but I am sure Noah has carefully included this updated SST series from station S that Dr. Keigwin sent me around July of 2007 (which as you can see from the file name was obtained by Dr. Ruth Curry of WHOI).
Graphing the Station S data with their data point for 2006 (blue) demonstrates that the 2006 is about a degree too low in Robinson et al. (2007).
If they had plotted the data they had, the way they said they did, it would have looked like this:
On Nov. 2, 2010, I presented this to a large audience at the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting in Denver. Always wanting to give others the benefit of the doubt, I wrote to Noah Robinson several times at his OISM address. On Oct. 23, 2010 I wrote:
Willie & Noah,
Attached is a draft of a couple slides I plan to present, which strongly suggest that your team fabricated the 2006 data point to hide the increase in Sargasso Sea surface temperature.
You plotted your 2006 point too low by more than a degree C. If this was an honest arithmetic mistake or silly drafting error, now would be the time to explain it and correct it. If you let me know before my presentation, I will be happy to include your explanation.
I did not get a response.
The Heartland Institute, a fossil-fuel-funded political pressure group, reprinted a distorted version the latest OISM the graph in their advocacy report, ?Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate? (S. Fred Singer, editor). This was published for an organization called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), and was sent to American members of Congress and other policy makers.
In 2011, I submitted an abstract, coauthored by Lloyd Keigwin, to the Third Santa Fe Conference on Global and Regional Climate Change, so that we could present these findings. According to the conference summary, it was ?to focus on climate change and variability from observational and modeling perspectives.? The chair of the conference, Petr Chylek is affiliated with one of the sponsors (Los Alamos National Laboratory) as well as the Heartland Institute (as a ?Heartland Expert?). With many speakers affiliated with the Heartland Institute (it turned out to be at least nine) it seemed like a good opportunity to provide feedback. Unfortunately, Keigwin and I received a rejection letter from Chylek, who told us,
This Conference is not a suitable forum for type of presentations described in submitted abstract. We would accept a paper that spoke to the science, the measurements, the interpretation, but not simply an attempted refutation of someone else’s assertions (especially when made in unpublished reports and blog site).
This was a puzzling rejection given that the ?unpublished report? was the NIPCC document released by the Heartland Institute, which is widely cited by the many Heartland-affiliated speakers invited by Chylek.
Nevertheless, I was able to have a conversation with Fred Singer, the editor of the NIPCC report, about the Sargasso Sea graph. At first, he told me that I should take it up with Robinson, but ultimately he assured me that it would be corrected in the next edition of the NIPCC. He also revealed that he had been the one who had sent Keigwin?s paper to Robinson in the first place, back in the ?90s.
In a final attempt to get my feedback directly to the Heartland Institute before writing this guest post, I offered in April, 2012 to give a presentation at their annual meeting in Chicago in May. My offer was rejected by Heartland?s Director of Communications, Jim Lakely, who told me in no uncertain terms, ?you will not be getting an invitation to speak.?
I look forward to their response to this article.
– Mark Boslough is a physicist on the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories. This was first published at Skeptical Science and is reprinted with permission.
Last month, House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) leaked an effort to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress to the media — Issa is upset that Holder’s followed a longstanding Department of Justice practice against endangering ongoing investigations by turning over documents concerning those investigations. Since then, Issa’s become more and more isolated. A broad coalition of senior law enforcement executives came out against his crusade against Holder earlier this month, and even the House Republican leadership has been reluctant to support Holder’s efforts.
Now, according to The Hill, Issa’s crusade appears to be collapsing even among his fellow Republican committee members:
Two of the committee?s 23 Republicans have declined to support the measure at this point, while six other GOP panel members did not respond to repeated requests for comment over the last two weeks.
When compared with the 15 Republicans on the committee who have actively been speaking in favor of the measure, the silence, lack of outspoken support and desire by these eight GOP caucus members to avoid the issue could be a problem for Issa. . . . With only 15 committee Republicans publicly supporting the resolution ? and no Democrats ? Issa falls short of the 21 votes he needs to pass it out of the 40-member panel to the House floor.
In 2010, when Issa was preparing to take the Oversight gavel, he spoke of his plans as if he were the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse. Issa promised “hundreds of hearings” intended to “measure failures” by the federal government under President Obama, and he highlighted this promise with a braggadocious Twitter avatar depicting himself as a stick-figure policeman sternly keeping watch over the Capitol.
Less than two years later, Issa primary accomplishments are an all-male panel on women’s health, a bizarre conspiracy theory about about a Rube Goldberg-like plan to undermine the Second Amendment, and, now, a witchhunt against the Attorney General that even his fellow Republican lawmakers seem reluctant to support.
A government task force is recommending that men should stop receiving a routine blood test to check for prostate cancer because the test does more harm than good. At best, the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test will save one life out of 1,000 men tested, but another man will develop a dangerous blood clot, two will have heart attacks, and 40 will become incontinent or impotent because of unnecessary treatment.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force made this proposal to drop routine screenings last fall, and it’s sticking by the final guideline despite outrage from the medical community.
Not every form of prostate cancer needs to be treated because most of the cancers found through the PSA blood test are slow-growing and unlikely to cause harm, so a member of the task force said better ways to detect prostate cancer will help:
The controversy will end only with development of better tests ? to finally tell which men’s tumors really will threaten their lives, and who will die with prostate cancer rather than from it, said Dr. Virginia Moyer of the Baylor College of Medicine, who heads the task force.
“We have been told for decades to be terrified of cancer and that the only hope is early detection and treatment,” she said. The reality: “You don’t need to detect all cancers.”
“We don’t want this to be the answer,” Moyer added. “We want to screen for the ones that are going to be aggressive, manage those early ? and leave everyone else alone.”
Even with the new guidelines, it is unclear how many men will skip testing. The task force already recommends that men over 75 skip the blood test, but research shows that about half still have it. And for those who test positive and learn they have have prostate cancer, low-risk patients often choose aggressive treatments with few benefits, according to a 2010 study.
Overall, unnecessary health costs add $158 billion to the nation?s health care tab each year, and the Affordable Care Act invests in comparative effectiveness research to help determine the most cost-effective course of treatment to cut down on those unnecessary health costs. And to cut down on overtreatment, the task force’s guidelines to cut out PSA blood tests that do more harm than good — and lead to sometimes unnecessary treatment — are a good place to start.
At a high school journalism conference last month, Dan Savage called out the Biblical hypocrisy when scripture is used to justify anti-gay positions while similar verses are ignored. The National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown accused Savage of bullying and challenged him to a debate: “You name the time and the place and let’s see what a big man you are in a debate with someone who can talk back.” Savage accepted this debate, and today on his podcast outlined exactly what time and place Brown could meet him:
SAVAGE: Where? My dining room table. Place? Seattle, Washington. Here’s the deal. We can fill a room with my screaming partisans and your screaming partisans and we’ll both play to our respective peanut galleries and I think both of us have a little bit of grandstander in souls and we will work that and I think that will create more heat than light. And so what I’d like to do is challenge you to come to my house for dinner. Bring the wife. My husband will be there. and I will hire a video crew and we will videotape sort of an after dinner debate.
The trick here is you have to knowledge my humanity by accepting my hospitality and I have to acknowledge yours by extending my hospitality to you. And I’m willing to do that.
Mark Oppenheimer, a New York Times journalist who has profiled both Savage and NOM’s Maggie Gallagher, has agreed to moderate the debate, and Savage’s neighbor will cook the meal. Brown will be allowed to confirm the tape has not been edited before it’s released so that there is “no trickery.”
Brian Brown has yet to respond. Stay tuned.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. Texas was supposed to have its primaries done long ago, when the GOP's presidential candidate was still in contention. In that scenario, the Senate seat Kay Bailey Hutchison held for two decades would then go to Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst. Dewhurst has for the most part been a loyal soldier to Governor Rick Perry and, with his millions in personal wealth, he could run a strong campaign while everyone else would be drowned out by presidential politics. Alas, the state's redistricting debacle meant the primaries were pushed back months. And now, with a week to go, Dewhurst is still leading the race, but the latest poll shows things will likely go to a run-off. And not surprisingly, with competition in the race, things have turned increasingly nasty.
What's weird, however, are the negative claims. Dewhurst, who sat back while the legisature passed a budget with billions in cuts, including unprecedented education cuts, has been accused of being a bi spender. Ted Cruz, his chief opponent, has gotten endorsements from Sarah Palin and Tea Party groups?but that hasn't stopped claims that he's close to Obama and moreover, a pro-China, anti-American advocate. In the meantime, former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who's running as a businessman, has an ad calling the rest empty suits and former ESPN commentator Craig James has mainly put out ads endorsing Rick Perry and Rick Santorum?with little mention that he's a candidate as well. The race may soon be over, and odds are Dewhurst will take it all the way, but it's good to know the political dialogue as high as ever.
In case you need some afternoon YouTube viewing, here are some of the best:
Dewhurst begins the warfare with accusations that Cruz was busy defending a businessman from China of places against an American. Has he no loyalty?!
Dewhurst takes issue with Cruz's use of a piece of paper, calling it a prop. Things are heating up!
Cruz comes back, showing just how outraged people are by Dewhurst's accusations. The people are identified as "Republican Woman" a veteran and a person from Burleson.
But just take make sure we could see he was serious, Cruz also asked that we end the political circus.
Then there was Craig James' strange ad cheerleading Rick Perry.
Let me repeat that. Dude makes strange ads.
This woman's dreams were destroyed, and her hair turned grey, by Obama's broken promises.
According to the New York Times, American Crossroads, Karl Rove's super PAC, has decided that trying to make the American people hate and fear Barack Obama just isn't going to work. So their advertising is going to use a softer sell, a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger approach to convincing Americans to vote for Mitt Romney in the fall. It seems like a perfectly reasonable thing to do?I've been arguing for some time that it's absurd to believe that large numbers of voters are going to radically alter their view of the president they've been watching for the last three years because of some television ads they saw?and it's backed up by Crossroads' own opinion research:
Just one single percent of Americans rank the deficit as the most important issue for them in choosing a president, according to the new Washington Post/ABC News poll. The percentage of Americans who think the deficit is the most important issue this[...]
Read The Full Article:
Walmart Visitor Center in Bentonville, Arkansas (Walmart/CC BY 2.0)
Arkansas and Kentucky are both holding primaries today. Here's a look at the key races in both states. Feel free to post your predictions in comments!
? AR-01 (D): Three Democrats are vying to take on GOP freshman Rick Crawford: state Rep. Clark Hall, prosecutor Scott Ellington and former econ prof Gary Latanich. Hall has raised the most money by far and was endorsed by the Blue Dogs, but Ellington has some name recognition thanks to brokering a plea agreement in the controversial and high-profile West Memphis 3 murder case. Latanich is the most liberal candidate in the race and is likely the third wheel, but if he pulls enough votes, he could send Ellington and Hall into a runoff. There hasn't been any public polling.
? AR-04 (D): There's also a field of three Democrats here who are trying to keep this very red seat in Team Blue's hands after Rep. Mike Ross's unexpected retirement announcement: state Sen. Gene Jeffress, attorney Q. Byrum Hurst and 2010 Senate candidate D.C. Morrison. Jeffress, until recently, has run a mostly invisible campaign (or as commenter GradyDem put it, "an 1870s campaign"), while Hurst jumped out to lead the pack in fundraising. He's also the only candidate to air TV ads. A recent Talk Business poll suggested that Jeffress and Hurst were likely to head to a runoff.
? AR-04 (R): Republicans are pretty much down to a two-way race between Iraq vet Tom Cotton and former Miss Arkansas Beth Anne Rankin, who was the GOP nominee last cycle. Cotton's demolished Rankin in fundraising, pulling in an impressive million bucks to her $400K. He also seems to be the establishment favorite here (the NRCC has put him on their "Young Guns" list). Talk Business also polled this contest and found Cotton pulling away with a 51-33 lead after previously finding the race tied. If those results are accurate, Cotton could avoid a runoff.
? KY-04 (R): When Republican Rep. Geoff Davis announced his retirement last December, it was a virtual certainty that local GOP officeholders would emerge with great speed from to vie for the right to represent this safely Republican seat. Seven Republicans did indeed file with the Secretary of State, but the race is widely considered to be a three-way contest between Lewis County Judge-Executive Thomas Massie, Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore and state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington.
Moore would seem to have an advantage in terms of his power base (Boone County is about eight times bigger than Lewis), but Massie, a tea party-backed Paulist disciple, is riding an endorsement from Sen. Rand Paul?as well as a flood of outside spending. (Amusingly, most of that spending is coming from a single source: a 21 year-old college Republican from Texas whose banker grandfather left him with an apparently enormous inheritance.) The local GOP establishment, whose first choice appears to be Webb-Edgington (both Davis and ex-Sen. Jim Bunning have endorsed her), appear utterly incensed at the prospect of losing another primary to a Paulist (as they did in KY-Sen last cycle), so I guess that's reason enough to hope that Massie wins. (James L)
Iowa Republicans, taking "liberties" and "rights" into some crazy territory.I guess this helps explain Rep. Steve King, sadly. Meteor Blades touched on one aspect of the Iowa Republicans' official party platform: birtherism and investigating the non-existent ACORN. But it's so, so much crazier than just that.
For a start, they want to abolish the federal Departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Energy, Interior, Labor, and Commerce. Also, TSA, FDA, ATF, EPA, National Endowment for the Arts, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Then Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all phased out, but Social Security becomes a voluntary program, immediately. And of course the U.S. has to leave the United Nations, because it's nothing but a big conspiracy for one world government, particularly when it comes to agriculture and Agenda 21, the UN's global sustainable development campaign.
We demand that the term ?sustainable development? be defined, vetted, and controlled by county and state agricultural agencies whose private property it impacts rather than the UN, other international or Agenda 21 agencies, or any federal organization.That goes for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, too. That's all a conspiracy to take control of families away from parents, so it must not be ratified. This gem is in the education section of the platform, where we find that Iowa Republicans do not like "government schools": "We demand that education be returned to a purely free market system." Even the state Department of Education has be diminished.
We disagree with Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton as ?settled law.? Under the Tenth amendment, these Supreme Court decisions have no authority over the statesIn fact, the 10th amendment, according to Iowa Republicans, means that Iowa can nullify any goddamned federal law it wants to, and ignore any Supreme Court ruling: "We support constitutional state sovereignty including nullification of federal oversteps." (Their copy of the Constitution apparently is missing a clause or two, like the Supremacy one.)
They're all for pink slime, though. "We support the continued production of lean, fine-textured beef." So they're okay with ammonia-adulterated beef, but are suspicious of that whole GMO business: "We support labeling GMO (genetically modified) crops and food products made from GMO crops as such."
That's just a smattering of the 403 policy statements or ?planks? in the proposed platform, and barely scratches the surface of the document, written after, as Ed Kilgore points out, Ron Paul supporters took over much of the party apparatus. Ed makes a good point about how national Republicans should have to answer for the crazy that is blooming within their party. "Walking those planks," he says, "would do them a world of good in coming to grips with what?s happened to their party."