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Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on Tuesday offered definitive proof that President Barack Obama was wrong to say that government played a part in building businesses: a lemonade stand own by two 4- and 7-year-old girls.
Kilmeade began his segment with the Sutton sisters by playing a clip of Obama saying that business owners "didn't build" their businesses, a clip that critics claim has been deceptively edited by both Fox News and Mitt Romney?s campaign.
"These two girls beg to differ," the Fox News host claimed. "They built their lemonade business, not only without government help, but without any help. ... Who helped you start this business?"
"Our investors who are our dad and our step mom, along with some other friends and family, including our brother," 7-year-old Clara explained.
"Clara, how do you feel about the president saying that you needed help to start this business?" Kilmeade asked. "And just speak from within."
"I would say that's rude because we worked very hard to build this business -- but we did have help," Clara insisted.
Four-year-old Eliza added: "My brother does things he likes to do, and he says, 'Car, car' every time. Every time he sees a car!"
"Right," Kilmeade agreed. "Is there an application that I could fill out to possibly join Cool Blast Lemonade?"
"I don't know," Clara shrugged. "That's something that you would need to ask our father."
Delling is currently serving a life term at a maximum security prison even though his trial judge found that he did not have the ?ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct.? Delling’s lawyers argue that the insanity defense was the only one available to him.
?For centuries, the moral integrity of the criminal law has depended, in part, on the insanity defense,? Stanford law professor Jeffrey L. Fisher wrote in a petition on Delling?s behalf.
Punishment is traditionally justified on the basis of an individual consciously choosing evil over good, Fisher wrote. ?Laws such as Idaho?s abandon that basic tenet,? he said.
Fisher contends that Idaho?s law violates the Constitution?s guarantee of due process of law, as well as the Eighth Amendment?s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
According to one study, the insanity defense is rarely invoked and is successful only about 25 percent of the time. The Constitutional Accountability Center and the American Psychiatric Association support Delling’s case, along with a group of 52 law professors who told the Supreme Court that the affirmative defense of insanity is a matter of fundamental fairness.
The state of Idaho resisted Delling’s arguments when his case came before the state supreme court, but has not responded to his petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court will decide whether or not to review Delling’s case later this year.
The Senate GOP plan to preserve the Bush tax cuts on incomes above $250,000 already amounts to a budget-busting tax cut for the rich, and in addition to it, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also added another tax cut that benefits only the super-wealthy. The Hatch-McConnell plan effectively eliminates the estate tax, costing billions in revenue and giving a huge tax cut to the very wealthiest Americans, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes:
Specifically, the new Senate Republican proposal, which Senators Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch unveiled earlier this month, would:
Cost $119 billion more in forgone revenues over the next ten years than the Obama Administration proposal to reinstate the already generous 2009 estate-tax rules. Analysis by the Urban Institute-Brookings Tax Policy Center shows that all of the $119 billion would flow to the heirs of the estates of the wealthiest three of every 1,000 people who die, since those are the only estates that would owe any estate tax under the 2009 rules.
Give taxable estates an average of more than $1.1 million each in tax reductions, compared to the tax that would be owed under a reinstatement of the 2009 estate-tax rules. The bigger the estate, the more lavish the tax break would be. Estates worth more than $20 million would receive an average tax reduction of $4.2 million in 2013.
As CBPP notes, even President Obama’s estate tax plan is generous, allowing exemptions on millions of dollars of an estate’s value. The GOP’s plan would provide an even larger exemption, and though critics of the tax claim the estate has already been subject to taxation, in most instances it is not because the increase in value of the estate classifies as unrealized capital gains. If the estate was sold, the increase in value would be taxed. When it is inherited, however, those taxes are never levied.
The GOP doesn’t only give huge tax cuts to the very wealthy, though. It also mitigates a small amount of the budgetary damage done by those cuts by ending three tax breaks that benefit the middle class, a decision that will ultimately raise taxes on 20 million working families if the GOP plan went into effect. That isn’t shocking given the bill is co-sponsored by Hatch, one of the leaders of the Republican Party’s movement to raise taxes on the poorest Americans.
Bolton has direct ties to the Romney campaign, serving as an unpaid adviser that regularly appears at campaign events stumping for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. ?John Bolton insists on good results for America and is someone I respect,? Romney said in December. ?I think he?s a fine man with great capacity.”
On Gaffney’s radio show today (Gaffney is the brains behind Bachmann’s campaign), Bolton said Bachmann and some of her fellow Republicans are just asking questions, adding that he’s “mystified” by the criticism Bachmann has received:
BOLTON: What I think these members of Congress have done is simply raise the question, to a variety of inspectors general in key agencies, are your departments following their own security clearance guidelines, are they adhering to the standards that presumably everybody who seeks a security clearance should have to go through, are they making special exemptions? What is wrong with raising the question? Why is even asking whether we are living up to our standards a legitimate area of congressional oversight, why has that generated this criticism? I?m just mystified by it.
Listen to the clip, courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
Bolton joins right-wing luminaries Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh in defending Bachmann’s anti-Muslim witch hunt but many top Republicans — Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) — have criticized the Minnesota Congresswoman’s crusade.
Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman had a great column in the New York Times Monday, “Loading The Climate Dice.”
He discusses the forthcoming paper on “The New Climate Dice,” by NASA?s James Hansen along with Makiko Sato and Reto Ruedy, in which they attribute some of the uber-extreme heat waves to global warming. I blogged on the first draft of that paper back in January (click here, excerpted below).
Krugman ends his discussion this way:
This drought has already sent corn prices to their highest level ever. If it continues, it could cause a global food crisis, because the U.S. heartland is still the world?s breadbasket. And yes, the drought is linked to climate change: such events have happened before, but they?re much more likely now than they used to be.
Now, maybe this drought will break in time to avoid the worst. But there will be more events like this. Joseph Romm, the influential climate blogger, has coined the term ?Dust-Bowlification? for the prospect of extended periods of extreme drought in formerly productive agricultural areas. He has been arguing for some time that this phenomenon, with its disastrous effects on food security, is likely to be the leading edge of damage from climate change, taking place over the next few decades; the drowning of Florida by rising sea levels and all that will come later.
And here it comes.
Will the current drought finally lead to serious climate action? History isn?t encouraging. The deniers will surely keep on denying, especially because conceding at this point that the science they?ve trashed was right all along would be to admit their own culpability for the looming disaster. And the public is all too likely to lose interest again the next time the die comes up white or blue.
But let?s hope that this time is different. For large-scale damage from climate change is no longer a disaster waiting to happen. It?s happening now.
For updates of my discussion of ?Dust-Bowlification,? see “We?re Already Topping Dust Bowl Temperatures ? Imagine What?ll Happen If We Fail To Stop 10°F Warming.” For a discussion of the impacts of Dust-Bowlification on food, see “Climate Story of the Year: Warming-Driven Drought and Extreme Weather Emerge as Key Threat to Global Food Security.”
Here is some chart-filled analysis of Hansen’s paper from my January post:
?Climate dice,? describing the chance of unusually warm or cool seasons relative to climatology, have become progressively ?loaded? in the past 30 years, coincident with rapid global warming. The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased. An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (?) warmer than climatology.
This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth?s surface in the period of climatology [1951-1980], now typically covers about 10% of the land area. We conclude that extreme heat waves, such as that in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, were ?caused? by global warming, because their likelihood was negligible prior to the recent rapid global warming. We discuss practical implications of this substantial, growing climate change.
Percent area covered by temperature anomalies in categories defined as hot (> 0.43?), very hot (> 2?), and extremely hot (> 3?). Anomalies are relative to 1951-1980. A normal distribution of variability has 68% of the anomalies falling within one standard deviation (?) of the mean value. The tails decrease quite rapidly so there is only a 2.3% chance of the temperature exceeding +2?. The chance of exceeding +3? is only 0.13% for a normal distribution of variability.
The analysis builds on some of the recent new papers on the subject, such as “Study Finds 80% Chance Russia?s 2010 July Heat Record Would Not Have Occurred Without Climate Warming” [see figure below]
Hansen et al paper explain why they focus on summer:
Summer, when most biological productivity occurs, is the most important season for humanity and thus the season when climate change may have its biggest impact. Global warming causes spring warmth to come earlier and it causes cooler conditions that initiate fall to be delayed. Thus global warming not only increases summer warmth, it also protracts summer-like conditions, stealing from both spring and fall. Our study therefore places emphasis on study of how summer temperature anomalies have been changing.
The paper also explains the ?dice? metaphor and why they are not fans of using a new climatological period, such as 1981-2010 in place of 1951-1980. I will excerpt some key parts and post some key figures.
First, you may be wondering why the top chart of summer hot area percentage doesn?t have as clear a trend for the United States as it does for North America or the globe. As the authors explain:
The small area of the contiguous 48 states (less than 1.6% of the globe) causes temperature anomalies for the United States to be very ?noisy?. Nevertheless, it is apparent that the long-term trend toward hot summers is not as pronounced in the United States as it is in hemispheric land as a whole. Also note that the extreme summer heat of the 1930s, especially 1934 and 1936, is comparable to the most extreme recent years.
Year-to-year variability, which is mainly unforced weather variability, is so large for an area the size of the United States that it is perhaps unessential to find an ?explanation? for either the large 1930s anomalies or the relatively slow upturn in hot anomalies during the past few decades. However, this matter warrants discussion, because, if the absence of a stronger warming in recent years is a statistical fluke, the United States may have in store a relatively rapid trend toward more extreme anomalies.
Some researchers have suggested that the high summer temperatures and drought in the United States in the 1930s can be accounted for by sea surface temperature patterns plus natural variability (10, 11). Other researchers (12-14), have presented evidence that agricultural changes and crop failure in the 1930s contributed to changed surface albedo, aerosol (dust) production, high temperatures, and drying conditions. Furthermore, both empirical evidence and climate simulations (14, 15) indicate that agricultural irrigation has a significant regional cooling effect. Thus increasing amounts of irrigation over the second half of the 20th century may have contributed a summer cooling tendency in the United States that partially offset greenhouse warming. Such regionally-varying effects may be partly responsible for differences between observed regional temperature trends and the global trend.
They explain the ?loaded climate dice? metaphor:
?Loading? of the ?climate dice? describes the systematic shift of the frequency distribution of temperature anomalies. Hansen et al. (2) represented the climate of 1951-1980 by colored dice with two sides colored red for ?hot?, two sides blue for ?cold?, and two sides white for near average temperatures. With a normal distribution of temperatures the dividing point would be at 0.43? to achieve equal (one third) chances of being in each of these three categories in the period of climatology (1951-1980).
A climate model was used (2) to project how the odds would change due to global warming for alternative greenhouse gas scenarios. Scenario B, which had climate forcing that turned out to be very close to reality, led to four of the six dice sides being red early in the 21st century based on global climate model simulations.
Fig. 5 confirms that the global occurrence of ?hot? anomalies (seasonal mean temperature anomaly exceeding +0.43?) has approximately reached the level of 67% required to make four sides of the dice red, with the odds of either an unusually ?cool? season or an ?average? season now each approximately corresponding to one side of the six-sided dice. However, the loading of the dice over land area in summer is even stronger (Fig. 5, lower row).
Fig. 5. Area of the world covered by temperature anomalies in the categories defined as hot (> 0.43?), very hot (> 2?), and extremely hot (> 3?), with analogous divisions for cold anomalies.
Probably the most important change is the emergence of a new category of ?extremely hot? summers, more than 3? warmer than climatology. For practical purposes it is important to look at the changes over land areas, where most people live, rather than the global mean for which anomalies are more constrained by the ocean?s thermal inertia. Fig. 6 illustrates that +3? anomalies practically did not exist in the period of climatology (1951-1980), but in the past several years these extreme anomalies have covered of the order of 10% of the land area.
? Warming is larger in winter than in summer, but this tends to be more than offset by the much larger natural variability in winter (Fig. 2), which makes it harder for the public to notice climate change in winter. Another factor affecting the public?s perception of winter warming is the fact that snowfall amounts increase with global warming (in regions remaining cold enough for snow), and there is a tendency of the public to equate heavy snowfall and harsh winter conditions, even if temperatures are not extremely low.
The increase, by more than a factor 10, of area covered by extreme hot anomalies (> +3? ) in summer reflects the shift of the anomaly distribution in the past 30 years of global warming, as shown succinctly in Fig. 4. One implication of this shift is that the extreme summer climate anomalies in Texas in 2011, in Moscow in 2010, and in France in 2003 almost certainly would not have occurred in the absence of global warming with its resulting shift of the anomaly distribution. In other words, we can say with a high degree of confidence that these extreme anomalies were a consequence of global warming?.
It is not uncommon for meteorologists to reject global warming as a cause of these extreme events, offering instead a meteorological explanation. For example, it is said that the Moscow heat wave was caused by an atmospheric ?blocking? situation, or the Texas heat wave was caused by La Nina ocean temperature patterns. Certainly the locations of the extreme anomalies in any given case are related to specific weather patterns. However, blocking patterns and La Ninas have always been common, yet the large areas of extreme warming have come into existence only with large global warming. Today?s extreme anomalies occur because of simultaneous contributions of specific weather patterns and global warming.
The paper notes that warming leads to drying (and heavy precipitation):
Changes of global temperature are likely to have their greatest practical impact via effects on the hydrologic cycle. Amplification of hot, dry conditions by global warming is expected, based on qualitative considerations. For example, places experiencing an extended period of high atmospheric pressure develop dry conditions, which we would expect to be amplified by global warming and by ubiquitous surface heating due to elevated greenhouse gas amounts.
See here for some of the recent literature on drying. See also NOAA Bombshell: Human-Caused Climate Change Already a Major Factor in More Frequent Mediterranean Droughts; ?The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone,? said lead author Martin Hoerling, Ph.D. of NOAA?s Earth System Research Laboratory [see figure]
Reds and oranges highlight lands around the Mediterranean that experienced significantly drier winters during 1971-2010 than the comparison period of 1902-2010. [Click to enlarge.]
And, of course, Hansen et al note that warming leads wet areas to get wetter
The other extreme of the hydrologic cycle, unusually heavy rainfall and floods, is also expected to be amplified by global warming. The amount of water vapor that the atmosphere holds increases rapidly with atmospheric temperature, and thus a warmer world is expected to have more rainfall occurring in more extreme events. What were ?100-year? or ?500-year? events are expected to occur more frequently with increased global warming. Rainfall data reveal significant increases of heavy precipitation over much of Northern Hemisphere land and in the tropics (3) and attribution studies link this intensification of rainfall and floods to humanmade global warming.
Their bottom line:
If global warming approaches 3°C by the end of the century, it is estimated that 21-52% of the species on Earth will be committed to extinction (3). Fortunately, scenarios are also possible in which such large warming is avoided by placing a rising price on carbon emissions that moves the world to a clean energy future fast enough to limit further global warming to several tenths of a degree Celsius (29). Such a scenario is needed if we are to preserve life as we know it.
They don?t even contemplate the 4C to 5C+ warming we are projected to see if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path.
There’s nothing less tasteful than a company that uses the Bible to defend its anti-gay policies and then bears what seems to be false witness. Because of Chick-fil-A’s condemnations of marriage equality advocates, the Jim Henson Company announced that it would not engage in future partnerships with the restaurant and would donate proceeds from the current puppet toy partnership to GLAAD. How did Chick-fil-A respond? By “voluntarily recalling” the toys because of a supposed safety complaint. This sign has been circulating the web from a store in Texas:
We apologize for any inconvenience but as of 7/19/2012 Chick-fil-A has voluntarily recalled all of the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Puppet Kids Meal toys due to a possible safety issue. Please be advised that there have not been any cases in which a child has actually been injured, however there have been some reports of children getting their fingers stuck in the holes of the puppets. We are offering a substitution of a complimentary kids icedream cone in its place until a replacement toy is available.
Another store in Virginia posted a similar explanation on its Facebook page. Both confirm that the recall took effect just one day before the Henson company’s announcement. ThinkProgress obtained this official comment from Tiffany Greenway, Corporate Public Relations for Chick-fil-A, confirming a nationwide withdrawal:
We can confirm that it is true that Chick-fil-A voluntarily withdrew the Jim Henson kids meal toys nationwide because of a potential safety concern. This is unrelated to the Jim Henson announcement.
As indicated by the sign, this “potential safety concern” seems to entail children getting their fingers stuck in the finger puppets. Given the company’s history of duplicitous public relations in regards to its anti-gay controversy, its decision to decline offering further explanation for the safety concern, and its admission that there hasn’t actually been any injury, this claim is highly dubious. Despite the company’s claim to the contrary, the timing and nature of this decision still raises the question of whether it is retaliation for the Henson Company breaking ties and supporting GLAAD. Regardless, Chick-fil-A is doing little to minimize its current anti-gay PR crisis.
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A single line Sally Ride?s obituary has caused a lot of fuss over the last day?the fact that she spent the last 27 years of her life with another woman. It?s a bit of a shame that the buzz of the public revelation has taken away from what it seems Dr. Ride would have preferred her legacy to be?pushing young women into careers in math and science.
It doesn?t appear that Ride?s sexuality was a secret to those who knew her, just to the rest of us, the ones who knew her only as the trim woman in a NASA jumpsuit, sporting a soft halo of 80s hair. That?s exactly what she was to me as a little girl, a name and a picture in a history book: the first American woman in space. Firm evidence that we had been there, done that. Ride embraced that legacy, starting a company later in life that provided materials to make the teaching of science more accessible to young students.
She also spoke out about the problem of peer pressure and norms of socialization that led girls away from studying math and science at a young age. In a 2003 interview in The New York Times, Ride said, ??It?s no secret that I?ve been reluctant to use my name for things. I haven?t written my memoirs or let the television movie be made about my life. But this is something I?m very willing to put my name behind.?
Ride?s obituary is a litany of accomplishments?two PhDs, being accepted into NASA on a virtual cold call, a professional-level ability in tennis (at least according to Billie Jean King, no slouch herself). Hers was a life of professional excellence, and her resume attracted national attention, but she remained a private person. It doesn?t seem as though Ride was ashamed of being gay, she just seemed not to think that it mattered all that much. One has to think that she probably expected all kinds of irritating hoopla over the matter, and didn?t want to talk about her personal life when she had so many other things to say and issues of her own choosing about which to advocate.
That she was gay seems that it should be an incidental portion of her legacy, and I have to think that we should try to honor her in death as she was in life; a damn smart lady who in private, was in love with a woman. What Ride said in 1984, talking about her historic flight, probably sums it up best: ?It?s too bad this is such a big deal. It?s too bad our society isn?t further along."
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