Cross posted from The Stars Hollow GazetteThe Syrian uprising has been going on for a year, centered around the city of Homs, which has been brutally shelled by the Syrian army for weeks. The city has been isolated with nothing and no one allowed in or[...]
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David Dayen's news roundup from Monday, February 27, including stories about more ultrasound, GOP primaries, inept bank regulators, Greece, Germany, Syria, Iran, Russian, Catholic church and sex, gas prices, DOMA, Scott Brown and more.[...]
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Mitt Romney makes his final pitch to Michigan:
?Sen. Santorum has shown himself to be an economic lightweight,? Romney said. ?And I don?t think people want to nominate an economic lightweight to go up against the president, who also is an economic lightweight and has it made it hard for America to get working again.?
This is a perfect summation of Mitt Romney?s problem in the Republican presidential primary. There?s no doubt that Romney has a better handle on economic issues than Rick Santorum, just as there was never any doubt that the former Massachusetts governor was more competent than his previous competitors. But Republican voters aren?t looking for a consultant-in-chief; they want someone who can communicate their values. On a good day, Romney can fake it well, and if this were a less ideological field of candidates, that might have been enough.
Instead, Romney has faced men and women who believe the dogma, and as such, can connect to the ordinary Republicans who form the base of the party. For most of the nomination contest, Romney could count on general incompetence (Rick Perry) or unlikability (Newt Gingrich) to break that connection. And if the candidates didn?t destroy themselves, Romney and his supporters would unleash a torrent of ads and attacks to finish the job.
Unfortunately for Romney, Santorum isn?t incompetent and he doesn?t inspire immediate dislike (at least, not among Republicans). More importantly, because Santorum has had the time to build a sustained connection with Republican voters, he?s managed to withstand the cascade of attacks from Romney and his surrogates. To wit, in the most recent survey of Michigan voters?from Public Policy Polling?Santorum leads the field 38 percent to Romney's 37 percent. Among everyone polled on Monday, Santorum had a 39?34 advantage; for folks who already voted, he had an advantage of 41?31. The momentum for Santorum is so clear that Nate Silver has projected a tie.
In other words, even after clogging the Michigan airwaves with anti-Santorum attacks, Romney is still in a tight?and possibly losing?race with the former Pennsylvania senator. Indeed, Michigan were holding this election on Wednesday or Thursday, there?s a good chance that Romney would have fallen behind for a second time.
I?ve long been skeptical that there is a large ?anti-Romney? segment of the GOP electorate; Republicans don?t hate Romney, they?re just not convinced that he?s one of them. And as a result, it seems that Michigan residents, like South Carolinians before them, are prepared to take a chance on someone they believe.
Ever since I was born in 1946, the Middle East has been at the core of the most enduring, most vexing, and most economically impactful conflicts on Earth.
The region has generated eight major wars, scores of lesser skirmishes, plus a cascade of political assassinations, acts of terror and revolutions.
It has triggered at least four global economic upheavals.
It has repeatedly caused chaos in the world’s most advanced industrial nations.
And now, despite one of the most concerted — and frustrating — multinational peace initiatives ever mounted by the global powers, it is about to do it AGAIN!
Israel and Iran are on the brink of an all-out war.
Syria is . . . → Read More: Four New Dangers in the Middle East
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Hey look! Mitt Romney is fudging stuff again.[...]
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Folks across the country are talking about the Republican Presidential primary in Michigan today and the attacks on women by Republicans on the stump. From contraception to maternity care, to a women's right to make choices about her own body the GOP is waging a War Against Women-- and I wish I could say every single Democrat was standing firm against this insanity. I wish. We've been keeping you updated about our friend Trevor Thomas, who is running against Tea Party Congressmen Justin Amash. Trevor is a fighting progressive and supports and is willing to fight for a women's right to choose.
As Blogging for Michigan and EclectaBlog highlighted on Friday, Governor Jennifer Granholm endorsed Thomas at a time when there is so much anti-women sentiment out there right now:
"This endorsement comes at a crucial moment as the country is engaged in a 1960s debate about women's reproductive freedom and the availability (and even the obtainability!) of contraceptives. Granholm's bona fides with regards to the issues affecting American women will appeal to Democrats and Independents alike, giving them assurance that Thomas is on their side. Granholm, an Emily's List endorsee, has championed the rights of women and groups that support reproductive rights like Planned Parenthood. Thomas, a pro-Choice candidate, will be a stark contrast to the anti-woman, anti-Choice, "take-our-country-back(wards)" approach of Republican Justin Amash."
"Former [state] Rep. Steve PESTKA is considering a run against U.S. Rep. Justin AMASH (R-Kentwood) in the 3rd Congressional District, making him the second Democrat with interest in the West Michigan-based seat.
"Pestka served in the House from 1999-2003. He lost a hotly contested state Senate race against former Sen. Bill HARDIMAN in 2002 and was appointed to the circuit court bench shortly thereafter by then-Gov. Jennifer GRANHOLM.
"We have an opportunity to win this time," Pestka said. "I'm sure Justin Amash is a fine individual, but his voting record does not represent Kent County. His past votes deserve a challenge and a discussion and we're thinking seriously about getting in." (MIRS, February 27, 2012)
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT?s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here?s what we?re reading this morning, but let us know what you?re checking out as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
- Frank Rich takes on the whitewashing of the LGBT movement, explaining how liberals have not always been on the side of equality:
We?and by we, I mean liberal New Yorkers like me, whether straight or gay, and their fellow travelers throughout America?would like to believe that the sole obstacles to gay civil rights have been the usual suspects: hidebound religious leaders both white and black, conservative politicians (mostly Republican), fundamentalist Christian and Muslim zealots, and unreconstructed bigots. What?s been lost in this morality play is the role that many liberal politicians and institutions have also played in slowing and at some junctures halting gay civil rights in recent decades.
- This week, the North Carolina Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission will write the official explanation for Amendment One.
- At the funeral for a lesbian’s mother, a Maryland priest first refused the woman communion for the sin of living with another woman, then left the funeral claiming he was sick after her eulogy.
- Three openly gay candidates are running for seats in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, which has never had a gay lawmaker before.
- Advocates in Louisiana are petitioning for LGBT-inclusive bullying legislation.
- A Tennessee high school student is facing obstructions to his creating of a gay-straight alliance.
- A Change.org petition with almost 200,000 signatures is calling on Citibank and Barclays, two of the largest banks in the world, to publicly condemn Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” legislation.
- Parks and Recreation‘s Aziz Ansari is hosting a benefit tonight to support anti-bullying efforts in Anoka-Hennepin School District.
- Transgender teens are taking to YouTube to document their transitions and experiences using hormone-blockers.
- Learn the strange history of Poison, the transgender character from Capcom’s Final Fight video games.
- New York City’s Congressional Delegation says, “It Gets Better”:
The pastor of a 15,000 member mega church in Houston, Texas is calling on Mayor Annise Parker (D) to resign over her promotion of same-sex marriage, the Houston Chronicle reports. In an email to the openly gay lawmaker, Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Community Church writes, ?Respectfully, if you cannot uphold the Texas constitution, then you should do the honorable thing and step down” and notes that the Constitution includes a a “voter-approved amendment banning same-sex marriage.”
Parker — who is one of the 90 mayors to support Freedom To Marry’s equality initiative — has responded to the pastor by saying, ?I do my duty to uphold the state Constitution and the U.S. Constitution. I swore an oath to that. I take that oath very seriously, but I have my First Amendment rights to free speech.” ?We all have the right to do that and I?m sorry that they [Riggle and his supporters] don?t understand the Constitution.” Watch a local news segment on the story:
During a recent interview with SiriusXM’s Michelangelo Signorile, Parker also called on President Obama to evolve “faster” on marriage equality and argued that “the Democratic platform should promote same-sex marriage.”
Meanwhile, the website for Grace Community Church states, “Marriage is between one man and one woman. Any other definition of marriage is contrary to the clear teachings of the Holy Bible and hence against the expressed will of God,” and Riggle himself has long opposed Parker’s inclusive policies. In 2010, he condemned the mayor’s executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, warning that women could be assaulted by cross-dressing men. “Forcing women in particular using city facilities to be subjected to cross-dressing men invading their privacy is beyond the pale and offensive to every standard of decency,? he said.
Michael Douglas, atoning for his stint as Gordon Gecko, that avatar of rapacious eighties capitalism, has cut an ad encouraging traders who see evidence of wrongdoing or get offered shady deals to call their local FBI office:
Somehow, it’s not as catchy as “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” And the problem, I suspect, is less that folks on Wall Street don’t know where to go and less that you’ve got to make them want to pick up the phone in the first place. In pursuit of that goal, it might help if folks other than Bernie Madoff had ended up suffering more than embarrassment and financial losses for facilitating the downturn.
Other stories below: Santorum’s impious denial theology; debunking myths about wind turbines and carbon emissions
A Canadian company’s decision on Monday to proceed with part of a U.S. pipeline might end up muffling one of the Republicans’ loudest arguments in this election year: that President Barack Obama has pursued failed energy policies.
TransCanada Corp announced it intended to begin work on the southern leg of the $7 billion Keystone XL project, from Oklahoma to Texas, leaving for later another run at the more controversial, and complicated, northern segment.
For months, Republicans have hammered Obama for blocking the pipeline project out of concern for the environmentally sensitive areas south of the U.S.-Canada border. Republicans seeking re-election to Congress uniformly branded his decision as a job-killer that undermines energy independence.
Remember how ethanol was going to save us? It was the perfect solution to not one, but two different problems. The first was energy security: since it?s a type of alcohol distilled from home-grown corn, ethanol would replace the gasoline made from oil imported from Bad People in places like Iran. The second was climate change. Ethanol emits heat-trapping CO2 like gasoline does, but the corn sucks in CO2 while it?s growing, so it?s mostly a wash.
That was the sales pitch, anyway, and for a while, lots of people bought it. The Federal government subsidized ethanol production, and an EPA regulation requiring the use of renewable fuels boosted ethanol?s stock still further. Then scientists began calculating the actual climate impact of corn ethanol, and discovered it wasn?t much better than gas ? and might actually be worse.
As Rick Santorum has tried to explain his “phony theology” comment aimed at President Obama, he has revealed some radical ideas of his own. They not only seem to reflect a breathtaking lack of knowledge about basic ecology, but also run equally afoul of both conservatism and Biblical teaching.
While Santorum articulates his total rejection of scientific consensus on climate change, which he refers to as “junk science” with fervor and conviction, his certitude is not supported by either evidence or Christian theology. It can only be chalked up to ideology, misinformation or a too-generous helping of both.
He recently argued that man’s dominion over the earth must be used “for our benefit, not for the Earth’s benefit.” He seems oblivious to the fact that the two are inseparable, that a healthy earth is essential to human life.
As concerns over climate change and resource depletion grow, comparing the environmental impact of various products has become something of a pastime: Paper towels or hot-air hand dryers? Paper or plastic grocery bags? Plane, train or automobile?
Environmental scientists can give pretty good answers to those questions using a technique known as life-cycle analysis, or LCA, which is an attempt to quantify a product?s effects on the planet, from greenhouse gas emissions to acid rain. Companies order LCAs to assess and trumpet their environmental credentials, and nonprofit groups conduct them to measure the effects of various products and processes.
Although few ordinary consumers are familiar with it, LCA is at the center of a battle among manufacturers, retailers and conservationists over how to measure and express a product?s overall environmental impact. Emerging rules governing LCA will help policymakers decide which products are eco-friendly and which companies are engaged in ?greenwashing? (the marketing of a product as environmentally friendly when, in fact, it?s no better than any of its competitors). And future government efforts to push businesses toward sustainability will be based on LCA.
For a conscientious consumer, it?s useful to know how LCA works as well as how it can be abused.
The world has a lot of natural gas and not nearly enough crude oil. To address the imbalance, some companies have tried to convert the gas into a liquid that can substitute for refined oil products like gasoline and diesel, but the idea has not taken off in this country. It may be simpler to convert vehicles instead and have them burn natural gas instead of gasoline or diesel.
This logic has become stronger as the price of oil has risen on the global market and the price of American natural gas has declined. Lately oil has been trading at around $100 a barrel, but the same amount of energy can be bought for about $15 as natural gas when that fuel is trading in the range of $2.50 per million B.T.U.?s, as it has recently. (An average barrel is 5.8 million B.T.U.?s.)
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to drain the state’s clean energy fund and revenue from the northeast cap-and-trade program to close gaps in the general budget.
Christie’s 2013 budget would eliminate $210 million that would otherwise give people rebates for buying efficient appliances or weatherization (clean energy fund) and $473,000 from its share of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) revenues.
Christie pulled New Jersey out of the RGGI as of the end of 2011.
New research suggests disappearing sea ice at the top of the planet is playing a ?critical? role in driving colder, snowier winters here in the United States.
Retreating Arctic sea ice, according to the researchers, helps alter the atmosphere in two ways.
First, scientists found that less ice is causing a change in atmospheric circulation patterns, weakening the westerly winds that blow across the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans. That weakened jet stream, in turn, allows more frequent surges of bitter cold Arctic air not only into the U.S., but also in Europe and east Asia.
?We have more cold air outbreaks,? said Jiping Liu, a senior research scientist in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, and a co-author of the new study released today.
Int?l lenders to supply $65 million to Caribbean to help islands prepare for rising sea levels
Some critics of wind power have started to make the claim that windfarms actually cause a net increase in carbon emissions due to the fact that their generating intermittency means they must be “backed-up” with gas-fired generation.
The claim seems to have originated from a Dutch wind critic and retired physicist called Kees le Pair who posted a non-peer reviewed paper on his website last October. The claim was then picked up and disseminated by, among others, the right-leaning thinktank Civitas.
International lenders will give $65 million in concessionary loans to 18 Caribbean nations to help the islands defend their coasts and fragile economies from the impact of climate change.The European Investment Bank will channel its lending through the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank, which announced the initiative Monday.