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Who’s Craziest Now?

Given a string invest in PancakeSwap of crazy statements by Rick Santorum, the latest to rise to the top of the dung heap that typifies the Republican primary candidates, we thought it was time to see where the candidates’s support seems to be from. I found some statistics produced by Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard1 that summarizes the results of the first five primaries. It doesn’t separate out Ron Paul, unfortunately, but it covers the three front runners nicely. It’s likely that Perry’s and Cain’s votes would have gone to Gingrich and Santorum and that Romney would have gotten the rest, so the proportions are probably about right.

I’ve reproduced buy CAKE Jay Cost’s figures in the table below and then shown the percentages of each demographic (Moderate/Liberal, Somewhat Conservative and Very Conservative) in a chart. Bear in mind the fact that we’re talking about Republicans here, so “Moderate/Liberal” is probably a long way from what a Democrat would consider either Moderate or Liberal.

Surprisingly, Newt buy PancakeSwap Gingrich’s claim that Santorum isn’t Conservative enough, at least so far, is born out by the fact that he reaps in the extreme right wing of the voters. It’s also noteworthy that Romney got two thirds of his votes from the Conservatives! It’s no wonder that the others are trying to characterize him as Moderate/Liberal.

It’s hard to categorize “crazy”, but it seems to me that Gingrich must win out on the sheer quantity of crazy statements and positions that he’s taken over the years, but Santorum is using every dog whistle that he can to pull in the uneducated, racist, rabid Christian extremist, Tea Party mob to support his cause. It doesn’t seem likely that he could pull many centrist Independents to his side in the real election. Given his positions on the environment, women’s rights, healthcare, education and the role of religion in government, that’s a good thing.

1 Morning Jay: Mitt Romney and Conservatives, Myths, and Realities.

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Apple And Google To Marry?

Following the great successes achieved by SuperPACs so far in the Republican primaries, and building on the Supreme Court’s ruling that “Corporations are people”, our Court Correspondent informed us this morning that there is a very strong rumor that Apple Inc. And Google Inc. are about to marry. Apple is changing its name to Miss Apple and Google has adopted the name Mister Google to simplify the paperwork. They have decided that their married names will be Mr. and Ms. Apple-Google.

Although there are rumors that the courting couple has had its fair share of tiffs over the past few years, both families believe that the tax benefits that they will enjoy as a married couple far outweigh the downside. Their net worth will be in excess of $420 Billion, making them the wealthiest couple in America. Although coy about the future, Miss Apple and Mr. Google didn’t rule out a future husband and wife run for the Oval Office in 2016, or perhaps even as early as 2012. “After all,” they said, “we wouldn’t want those nasty Koch brothers in there, would we?”

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Cumulative IQ Of Republican Presidential Lineup Halves Overnight

Jon Huntsman withdrew from the Republican primaries this morning. The best he achieved was a 5% backing in the South Carolina polls. Most of the time he wavered around 1%. However, despite the fact that many of his views are far too right wing for me, he made a lot of sense when given a chance to talk about his views and concerns. His term as President Obama’s Ambassador to China gave him ideal skills for this century, with China rising and the United States battling to maintain its place in the world.

Huntsman was battered by Republicans and the other candidates for revealing that he could speak Chinese. Republicans seem to regard anyone who can speak a foreign language as un-American, a label that they apply to anyone who doesn’t fit into their other hate-mongering categories. Newt Gingrich (or one of his Super PACs) is currently running an ad that likens Mitt Romney to Dukakis and Perry, using the tenuous line that they can all speak French. Doesn’t Dr. Newtron know that French is the language of diplomats?

His Super PAC also inferred that Huntsman may be a Manchurian Candidate, named after the book and movie where an American is tortured and brainwashed by the Chinese, then manipulated into running for President. The Republicans didn’t seem to worry, last time around, about the fact that John McCain had actually been captured and tortured by the Chinese-backed North Vietnamese.

We’ll miss Huntsman. He’s smart and will probably be back in 2012 as he has his own rich backer in the shape of his father. However, this time around he made the cardinal mistake of thinking that this election was like the ones that used to be run, before the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people for the purpose of electioneering. Ironically, it was Newt Gingrich who first fell foul of the ruling, when Mitt Romney and his Super PAC blasted Gingrich with millions of Dollars worth of negative advertising. Dr. Newtron found his own billionaire and is fighting back with negative ads about Romney’s time at Bain Capital. Perry has found some backing, but Santorum hasn’t, so far. Ron Paul may keep up by garnering small donations from his many supporters, but doesn’t stand a chance of winning.

Things are going just the way that this right-wing Supreme Court seems to have wanted them to go. This election won’t be won on issues and leadership capabilities. The Republican nomination and perhaps the Presidency will go to the highest bidder. The billionaires who spend most will rule the country. Democracy exists overseas, but not here in the USA any more. Welcome to your future as a serf.

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Will Newt Declare War On Jewish Family Courts?

Ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich, one of the most vocal anti-Muslim voices, called today for a Federal ban on courts applying any aspect of Sharia Law. He’s simply trying to stir things up, of course, but I looked for a simple explanation of what Sharia Law actually involves and found this article from the BBC (OK, it’s a slightly leftist organization, but it has a mandate to educate). [BBC article.]

I was fascinated by the reference to Jewish family courts in the United Kingdom. They exist here too. [Article on Halakha Law]

Mitt Romney should lay a $10,000 bet that ex-(Lousy)-Speaker Gingrich won’t also call for a ban on Halakha Law. Though he does have a penchant for annoying minorities I don’t think that even Newt is stupid enough to run head-down into a hornet’s nest.

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Sacramento Delta Fish Under Threat From Billionaire Water Thieves

On November 16 the California Fish and Game Commission decided to postpone consideration of a controversial proposed striped bass regulation that would wipe out the population of the fish in the Sacramento Delta, which is where we live. The striped bass has been fished here for over 130 years, however, the species is facing the same fate as the chinook salmon, Delta smelt, long fin smelt and green sturgeon. Populations of those fish have been decimated or eradicated as a result of the state’s policy of pumping water from the Delta to the powerful farmers in Southern California. The huge populations of Los Angeles and San Diego can outvote the rest of the state once the farmers get their support by threatening to raise food prices if water prices are increased.

The Department of Fish and Game proposed the regulation after a court settlement of a lawsuit brought against it by the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta (CSD). As is usual with this kind of “Astroturfing”, the name is the exact opposite of the probably effect. CSD is an agribusiness political action group representing San Joaquin Valley corporate growers. It is housed in the headquarters of Stewart Resnick’s Paramount Farms. Resnick, a Beverly Hills billionaire and the largest tree fruit grower in the world, wields a lot of political influence in Sacramento. His organizations have made tens of millions of dollars annually from buying and reselling water back to the state for a big profit. He is a big advocate of state and federal plans to export more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to his and other farms in Central and Southern California. It’s not a coincidence that state and federal governments are fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build a peripheral canal to pump more Delta water down there.

Resnick’s plans are being opposed by Delta residents, Indian Tribes, family farmers, business owners, fishermen, conservationists and environmental justice advocates. They argue that using the peripheral canal to divert more water from an area that is already suffering the consequences of a diminished water supply would lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon and other Delta fish populations. The powerful agribusiness lobby insists on over-farming land that is meant to be desert and resists eco-friendly farming methods that use far less water. This is yet another example of government being manipulated by the over-wealthy top 1% of Americans. Occupy Wall Street just got some new recruits.

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How The Republicans Killed Over 100,000 Americans

President Obama signed the second part (reconciliation) of the health care reform bill on March 30, 2010. That’s great, but the provisions that will cover the uninsured haven’t clicked in yet. The government covers about half of all Americans and private insurers cover one third. That leaves one person in six without insurance. What happens to them? Many of them die and the Republicans don’t care.

Our elected officials started work on the proposed health insurance reform bill on July 30, 2009. Harvard researchers estimate that 122 Americans die every day as a result of not having health insurance. So, the estimated number of uninsured Americans who have died while the Republican politicians in the Senate and Congress played politics and delayed new benefits for the sake of the health care insurers is 100040.

If those people had died any other way the country would be up in arms. As it is, it’s of no concern to the Republicans. They should be ashamed of themselves and the rest of us should hold them accountable for every single one of those deaths. The Republicans want to repeal health care reform. We want to see the Republicans in the dock.

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Administration Drops One Provision Of The Healthcare Reforms

We covered the debate over the healthcare reform bills extensively last year. Although Democrats failed to get agreement on all of the components that the President wanted, notably the public option, a new insurance option that would have made it possible for all Americans to have healthcare insurance, the reforms are still the most important made since the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid. Republicans vowed to repeal the bills as soon as they get back in office and managed to delay the onset of new benefits for as long as possible, knowing that it will be very hard to take the benefits back once voters understand their new entitlements. Oddly, they are prepared to add an estimated $320 billion to the deficit over the next ten years by repealing healthcare reform. So much for fiscal responsibility!

One provision of the healthcare reforms won’t make it to implementation though. Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced1 on Friday that the government has decided to drop the implementation of the Community Living Assistance Services Act (CLASS). The voluntary program was supposed to provide long term assistance to participants in much the same way that Long Term Disability insurance policies work. Participants would have paid around $100 a month into a fund that would be used to provide eligible beneficiaries with about $50 a day towards the cost of certain healthcare services. Enrollees would have to pay into the program of at least five years before becoming eligible of benefits.

The program was clearly flawed, as it depended on having a large number of young, healthy people paying into the fund in order to support the older people claiming benefits. If a person could put just $6,000 into the fund and then draw $1,500 a month forever it’s obvious that the scheme would soon require higher premiums, have to provide lower benefits, need revenue from other government sources or go broke. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote:

While some analysts predicted that the CLASS program’s finances would be sustainable, others including the actuary for Medicare and Medicaid issued warnings to Congress and the public before the law was enacted that not enough young, healthy people would sign up. This could have led to a vicious cycle where premiums would have to be set higher and higher to cover the likely costs of benefits, leading fewer and fewer healthier people to sign up for the program. For this reason, the law required me to develop a benefit plan that, in addition to meeting other statutory requirements, would also be solvent for at least 75 years…..So even as we suspend work on implementing CLASS, we are recommitting ourselves to the ultimate goal of making sure Americans can get the long-term care they need, whether it’s a working-age mom with disabilities who needs daily support right now or a young man at his first job who wants to protect himself and his family against the possibility of huge long-term care costs in the future.

Although we strongly disagree with the GOP’s policy of rolling back the whole of the healthcare reform act, perpetuating the wicked and unnecessary loss of life highlighted in “A Grim Reminder” at the top right of this page, it’s clear that the administration made a good call on not implementing the CLASS program. Let’s hope that they can come up with something better.

 1 A Report on the Actuarial, Marketing, and Legal Analyses of the CLASS Program” – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – October 2011

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The Upside Of Living In A Disciplined Socialist Society

No, I’m not talking about California, and definitely not the United States! I’m in Singapore this week, speaking at a conference. It’s been almost a decade since I was last here and, like many parts of Asia, the building boom is still in full swing. The port, as always, is bustling and there is construction activity in every part of the city. Singapore is always fun to visit, especially if you like Asian food, which I definitely do. The population’s mix of Chinese, Malaysian and Indian ethnicities, together with the strong influence that still remains from British Colonial days, means that there is good food to be had everywhere.

Most of the old street stalls have gone, moved to “hawker” courts, where a good meal costs a few Dollars. However, the food is just as good as it ever was, served in spotless surroundings. Everything in Singapore is squeaky clean and there’s very little crime, making it a great place to get a gentle introduction to Asia. You can even get a taste of India in one small area, with the hustling from market stall owners, but without the begging that still pervades much of Southern Asia. A few streets away you can enjoy fish and chips and a good beer with British ex-pats, or wander over for a Singapore Sling at Raffles, still one of my favorite hotels in the World.

Verna insisted that I get another haircut before my visit, despite a failed attempt at getting a decent one just a couple of weeks ago. It’s just as well that I did, because long hair is frowned on in Singapore. Most people think that Singapore is a police state, especially when they hear about people being caned for vandalism that would probably go unpunished in the United States. There’s a death sentence for being in possession of large quantities of illegal drugs. Illegal possession of weapons can lead to caning and imprisonment for life. You can be fined $1000 for spitting in the street and jaywalkers and drunks don’t stand a chance here. They’ll be caught and fined. Chewing gum is completely banned and smoking in public places, other than bars and clubs, is banned, which I must say makes me happy. Don’t expect your American lawyer to get you off lightly if caught do anything illegal. Although the Singaporean legal system is based on English Common Law, judges, not juries, now determine cases as well as sentences. That seems very worrying, until you compare the fairness of the system with other countries. Singapore comes out looking pretty good. The socialist government runs an extremely tight ship, but is regarded as very competent and fair.

So, what do the law-abiding citizens get in return from these, mainly trivial and understandable, losses of “privileges”? An extremely low crime rate, free health care and many other social benefits, and a place that is very pleasant to visit and live in. The Republicans would hate the fact that low tax rates (a 14.2% revenue versus Gross Domestic Product, against 26.9% in the U.S.) can support a superb socialized welfare system, plus the notion that no corporations are making huge profits out of people’s health problems. The thought of the GOP and Tea Party’s anguish and frustration at those plain facts makes me very happy indeed. :-)

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Republican Amateurs Bully The Professionals

Earlier this week the GOP leadership wrote a letter to Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, urging him not to do anything to help stimulate our floundering economy. We all know that the Republicans are doing everything that they possibly can do stall all efforts to create jobs and jump start the economy in order to score points against President Obama in the 2012 elections. They haven’t passed a single job creation bill since winning control of the House of Representative in 2010 and they opposed the Recovery Act in 2008, having preferred instead to lavish money on the large banks and continue tax breaks for large corporations and the richest one to two percent of Americans.

Let’s all remember that it was the Republicans who drove our economy into the ground, allowing the Bush-Cheney administration to practically double the national debt, turning a budget surplus into a deficit and tanking economies across the World. With a track record like that, who would listen to anything they said anyway? It wouldn’t be too bad if any one of them had an inkling of how our and other countries’ economies work. Let’s look at the qualifications of the people directly involved in this latest attempted act of sabotage and how their qualifications stack up against the Chairman’s.


RED TEAM PLAYER EDUCATION RELEVANT ECONOMIC EXPERTISE
House Majority Leader John Boehner B.A. in business administration from Xavier University. NONE
Rep. Eric Cantor Batchelor of Arts from George Washington University, Juris Doctor degree from William & Mary Law School and a Master of Science in Real Estate Development. NONE
Rep Jon Kyl Law degree from James E. Rogers College of Law NONE
Senate Minority Leader “Mitch” McConnell Law degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law NONE
BLUE TEAM PLAYER EDUCATION RELEVANT ECONOMIC EXPERTISE
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake Achieved an SAT score of 1590 out of 1600. Bachelor of Arts in economics graduating summa cum laude from Harvard University. Doctor of Philosophy in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. EXTENSIVE

The GOP badly wants to take control of the Federal Reserve so that they can print their own money to give to the large corporations to build facilities and stimulate job growth overseas and to the richest Americans to invest Dollars that should be in the Treasury’s coffers in those schemes. It’s ironic that they should implicitly threaten the Chairman of the Federal Bank with political action when the quantitative easing (money printing) moves that he has made so far have been widely (and perhaps surprisingly) judged to have had a positive effect. Gentlemen, please go back to school to learn something about economics and while you’re there, stop bullying the middle class.

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The New Republican Mantra – We Don’t Care!

It’s been a very revealing week in politics. A lot of people noticed the calls from the audience during the Tea Party Debate this week. When Wolfe Blitzer double checked a position with Presidential hopeful Ron Paul. Blitzer asked him whether he would allow an uninsured person with a life threatening condition to die. Several people in the audience yelled “Yeah”. You can see the whole dialog below. It’s worth noting that Republicans were responsible for delaying health care reform provisions that would have helped reduce the number of uninsured people (amounting to 1 in 6) in the nation. You can see how many people they’ve killed in the “A Grim Reminder” section at the top right of this page. If they repeal the health care reforms they’ll kill any more. The really strange thing is that they just don’t care.

Meanwhile, right wing televangelist Pat Robertson caused real furor among real Christians when he suggested divorcing a spouse with Alzheimer’s Disease during his “700 Club” show. He was answering a viewer a who had asked what advice a man should give to a friend who began seeing another woman after his wife was diagnosed with the Alzheimer’s. I wonder what Jesus Christ would have thought about Robertson’s advice?

We know that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is about as callous as anyone can be, but now he’s trying to get federal disaster relief funds for people in Virginia by insisting that funds that have already been granted for programs to create jobs in Michigan be cut to provide the aid to his State. Cantor knows that the programs that he is trying to cut have already created jobs, notably when Ford moved production back to Michigan from Mexico, and that they’ll create more. If anyone needed proof that the Republicans will do anything to keep the economy from improving, even when it comes to holding up the creation of jobs, then this is it.

We have a suggestion for Rep. Cantor – abolish the Bush tax cuts. That will give you plenty of funds for disaster relief and will reduce the national debt and improve the economy. However, as we know you won’t do that, why not take the GOP line that people should fend for themselves? If your electorate hasn’t insured themselves against earthquakes and other disasters – tough! Get over it! See if your church can help out, if the building’s still there and everyone hasn’t left town because they’re now homeless and didn’t have their own insurance. Remember, we’re the GOP, we don’t care about anyone other than the large corporations and billionaires that we really work for.

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The Tea Party And Our National Parks

Many people have analyzed and commented on last night’s Republican primary candidates’ debate, which was dominated by Tea Party thinking. Apart from the things that we expected, we were surprised by Texas Governor Rick Perry’s comments on what he’d like to do to Alaska. Here’s what he said while listing ways to raise government revenue without raising taxes:

“Third, we own — with all due respect, Governor [Mitt Romney] — we own 69 percent of Alaska. That’s one-and-a-half Texases. Now, let’s set half of Texas — let’s set a half Texas aside for national parks. We could liberate an area the size of Texas for minerals and other development. That would raise even more revenue, not the normal Washington viewpoint.”

Let’s do the math for Governor Perry. He wants to turn over 2/3 of the federally owned land in Alaska to the mining companies and other developments, e.g. logging. There’s not a lot more that you can do in the way of development in Alaska, other than build bridges to nowhere, like the Governor before Sarah Palin, or pipelines that nobody needs, like half-term Governor Palin. Anyway, he wants to handover 46% of Alaska,about 270,000 square miles, to the private companies so that they can strip-mine it and run unregulated oil drilling operations.

Governor Perry mentioned that he also agrees with Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, who wants to let the oil drillers loose in the Florida Everglades, where there are minuscule oil reserves owned by a single Republican-supporting company. Unlike Alaska, the fragile Everglades ecosystem is also the sole water source for seven million Floridians. Can anyone guarantee that we wouldn’t see a BP-like disaster that leaves them all without a pure water supply?

Some pictures for the Tea Partiers
We’ll make it really easy. Here’s what could happen to Alaska and the Everglades if the Tea Party candidates get their way.

Alaska and the Everglades – Before and After a Tea Party Government
ALASKA NOW
THE EVERGLADES NOW
ALASKA POST-TEA PARTY
THE EVERGLADES POST-TEA PARTY

If you’re a Tea Party supporter and you can convincingly and cogently argue that the above won’t happen, please post your comments below.

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President Sells Out To Polluters

President Obama killed a new set of air quality control regulations this week. They were formulated by the Environmental Protection Agency and were meant to replace the existing regulations. The President’s “excuse” was that there will be a new set of regulations in 2013 anyway and now isn’t the time to burden industry with extra regulations. He seems to believe that if he appeases them by letting them carry on polluting at current levels they’ll create jobs. He’s wrong, of course. They’ll continue shipping jobs overseas and laughing all the way to the bank. The fact that the US Chamber of Commerce, a right wing pressure group, not a government organization, agrees with his action means that he has been conned, or bullied, into doing this by big industrial interests.

Let’s look at just one air quality indicator – ozone levels. The current legislation limits the amount of ozone in the air to a maximum of 75 parts per billion. That level was mandated in 2008, even though the EPA’s own scientific advisors had recommended limiting ozone in the air to an average of between 60 and 70 parts per billion over an eight-hour period. The new ruling would have set the level at 60. However, enormous pushback by industry means that we’re stuck with the 75 ppb regulation for the foreseeable future.

Does it matter?
In short, yes. We’re a lot better off than we were thirty years ago, when many areas experienced unhealthy levels of ozone for large parts of the year. At levels of 101-150 ppb many groups are at risk, including:

  • People with lung disease, such as asthma
  • Children and older adults
  • People who are active outdoors

However, 75 ppb is still too high. The Europeans recognize the problem and have set their regulatory levels for ozone at 57 ppb. The US level is above the threshold where European governments can be fined if their country exceeds the threshold more than 25 days a year. Their laws say that at 85 ppb – “National authorities should inform the public and give advice immediately after an exceedance. Countries should report monthly on all exceedances.”

What is our air quality actually like today?
You can check the air quality where you live and work at http://airnow.gov. When we checked the site yesterday, one of the worst areas in the country was in the home state of Koch Industries, the nations’s tenth worst polluter. There are problems today across about 10% of the country. The bad thing about something that’s invisible is that people tend not to worry about it. Our President should know better than that.

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A Science Lesson For The Tea Party

Hurricane Irene has come and gone, thankfully without causing as much damage as it might have done, although over five million people, including our East Coast relatives, lost their power supplies and there has been widespread and unseasonal damage. Two things caught my attention this morning as I was writing out cheques for our annual insurance renewals. The first was a statement by Presidential election hopeful Michele Bachman that inferred that the hurricane and the 5.9 earthquake were messages to politicians from God. She said – “I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’”

Meanwhile, Shawn Lawrence Otto, Author of “Fool Me Twice,” filmmaker and Cofounder of Sciencedebate.org, came up with an interesting and much more useful angle on man-made climate change in an article for the Huffington Post.

We’ve watched the debate over man-made climate change (incorrectly branded as “Global Warming”) for years. There seemed to be enough leeway for many sides to expound their theories in the early days, but it didn’t take long for the scientific community to start reaching a consensus. Despite the naysayers, many of whom are directly funded by corporations who don’t want any new emissions control regulations imposed on them, the overwhelming scientific view is that we are seeing changes that can only be as a result of actions by mankind.

Let’s remind ourselves of the main steps that the scientific method involves:

  1. Ask a question – Could man-made actions cause significant climate change?
  2. Conduct background research that helps refine the question(s) – we measure weather in terms of temperature, precipitation, air pressure and unusual meteorological events and there’s plenty of historic data.
  3. Construct a hypothesis – one factor could be the huge increase in greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by industrial and agricultural processes.
  4. Test the hypothesis by conducting experiments: show that increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere actually lead to temperature increases (this was actually discovered a long time ago); create mathematical models of the Earth’s climate; collect more accurate data about the climate worldwide; and compare the measurements to the predictions.
  5. Analyze all of the data and draw a conclusion – the evidence is overwhelming – mankind is causing climate change and we are starting to see the kinds of results that the models predict.
  6. Communicate your results – which can then be peer reviewed, perhaps leading to the need for new questions, hypotheses, experiments and analyses.

The consensus is now so strong1 that concerned scientists have started trying to educate the people in government and industry who may be able to start reversing the trend. A 2011 letter to the U.S. Congress, signed by 18 leading scientists, said – “We want to assure you that the science is strong and that there is nothing abstract about the risks facing our Nation.”

Let’s take a very simple example. The climate change models predict that as carbon dioxide (CO2) levels increase, the temperature at the surface of the oceans will rise. We’ve seen that happen this summer. The waters as far North as New Jersey have risen to an unprecedented 79-70 degrees Fahrenheit – high enough to sustain major hurricanes. Guess what happened as a result? Hurricane Irene came along and confirmed the prediction. As ocean surface temperatures rise we can expect to see more, possibly more devastating, hurricanes even farther North.

Michele Bachmann, who probably couldn’t explain how a thermometer works, let alone interpret even the simplest climate data, said just over a week ago – “I think all these issues have to be settled on the base of real science, not manufactured science.” She went on to repeat completely bogus arguments against man-made climate change fabricated by an Exxon-funded libertarian. She’s not alone in her denial of the facts. Ninety four of the newly elected GOP members of Congress either deny climate changes exist or have signed a pledge to oppose greenhouse gas cap and trade efforts. They’re either all stupid or being bought by special interests, or perhaps both.

I wonder if they can understand the chart below? Note the almost 3-fold increase in meteorological events since 1980. Atmospheric CO2 levels at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, have risen from 320 to 390 parts per million since 1980, i.e. about 21%. That’s a far larger rise than most climate change models predicted, meaning that the situation may be running out of control.

So, if the politicians, particularly the GOP and Tea Party variants, don’t want to believe it, what could change their minds? What always changes their minds? Being voted out of office or large influxes of campaign funds and post public service benefits. That’s where Shawn Lawrence Otto comes in. He’s suggesting that we wake up the insurance companies to the situation that’s developing. Hurricane Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm, but it still caused an estimated $7 to $20 billion in damage. Once the insurers figure out that, even if they raise premiums to the point where nobody can afford them, their annual losses from meteorological events are going to empty their coffers very quickly, they may start pushing the politicians to do something about the situation.

We know what to do. It’s a matter of choosing the most cost effective measures. Some of them, such as building a sustainable energy system and electric or hydrogen powered transportation, will create jobs. However, let’s not forget that having enough jobs to help rebuild our economy won’t help us if we’re continually recovering from disasters. We have to curb the activities that appear to be causing the problem. That will mean taking on the Koch Brothers and their cronies and disciples.

 1  Sound Science Initiative – “Consensus On Global Warming

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Five Inherited Genetic Variants May Indicate A High Risk Of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer treatments are far less than ideal and can cause unnecessary suffering for patients who might not be at a high risk of succumbing to the disease. Researchers are constantly searching for new ways to provide diagnostic information to physicians attempting to provide patients with an accurate prognosis once the disease has been diagnosed. William Phelps, program director of translational and preclinical cancer research at the American Cancer Society, said – “If the treatments we had for prostate cancer were very tolerable or very safe you would probably treat everybody, but the treatments we have available today are less than ideal.”

A study1 team, led by Janet L. Stanford, co-director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s program in prostate cancer research, has identified five inherited genetic variants play a role in prostate cancer progression and mortality. The team gathered blood samples from more than 1,300 prostate cancer patients living in the Seattle region and diagnosed with prostate cancer between the ages of 35 and 74. They then compiled DNA analyses of the Seattle samples and nearly 2,900 Swedish prostate cancer patients. The five single-letter mutations (or SNPs) were found to have a significant bearing on prostate cancer progression as measured by cell death, tumor growth, inflammation, androgen hormone levels, blood-vessel development and bone density. Patients found to have at least four out of the five SNP mutations seemed to face a 50 percent higher risk for dying from their disease as compared with those who carried two or fewer of the mutations.

The researchers hope that their findings will lead to the development of a simple blood test to screen for the mutations to help physicians assess the long-term risk faced by newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients. Dr. Stanford hopes that – “The ability to distinguish patients at elevated risk for having aggressive, life-threatening prostate cancer at the time of diagnosis could improve care for the subset of cases most likely to benefit from aggressive therapy and help avoid over-treatment of patients whose tumors are likely to remain indolent.”

 1  “Genetic Variants in the LEPR, CRY1, RNASEL, IL4, and ARVCF Genes Are Prognostic Markers of Prostate Cancer-Specific Mortality” – Daniel W. Lin, Liesel M. FitzGerald, Rong Fu, Erika M. Kwon, Siqun Lilly Zheng, Suzanne Kolb, Fredrik Wiklund, Pär Stattin, William B. Isaacs, Jianfeng Xu, Elaine A. Ostrander, Ziding Feng, Henrik Grönberg, and Janet L. Stanford – Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers – Published OnlineFirst August 16, 2011 – doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-11-0236.

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All You Need To Know About The GOP Primary Candidates

As Texas Governor Rick Perry enters the 2012 presidential election race and Tim Pawlenty abandons it, we thought we’d remind you what you’re voting for if you decide to vote for any of them. We’re hoping that you won’t vote for any of them, of course, but there may be some Independent voters and disgruntled Republicans who are fed up with political posturing and want to see the country straightened out.

The list of things that the Republicans have blocked since gaining power in the House is long, ranging from denying benefits for 9/11 responders to benefits for homeless veterans. If anyone is “un-American”, it is surely the GOP. So, if you decide to vote for any of the Republican primary election candidates, here’s a list of just some of the things that they’ve pledged to do:

  • Continue to give the richest Americans huge tax breaks at the expense of the rest of us.
  • Continue to give corporations tax breaks for moving facilities and jobs offshore.
  • Increase subsidies for oil and gas companies, some of our largest and the most profitable corporations.
  • Rescind the healthcare reforms. Here are some of the new benefits that have gone into effect and that the Republicans want to take away:
    • Relief for four million seniors who hit the Medicare Prescription Drug “Donut Hole.”
    • Free preventive care – all new plans must cover certain preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies without charging a deductible, co-pay or coinsurance.
    • Making lifetime limits on insurance coverage illegal.
    • Annual limits on insurance coverage are no longer allowed, or strictly regulated.
    • Insurance companies are prohibited from dropping coverage when people get ill or for technicalities.
    • The law provides consumers with an easy way to appeal to their insurance company and to an outside board if the company denies coverage or a claim.
    • Coverage for early retirees – the new law creates a $5 billion program to help people who retire before age 65 maintain the affordable care they need.
    • Funds for rebuilding the primary care workforce.
    • Seniors on Medicare can:
      • Make an annual wellness visit with a doctor and get a personalized prevention plan, including end-of-live planning, at no cost.
      • Get immunizations and many screenings without co-pays.
      • Patients who are also on Medicare Prescription Drug Plans will now be eligible for a 50% discount on brand name drugs. That discount that will increase each year until the “donut hole” is eliminated in 2020.
    • Community health centers that provide free or low cost care will see new federal funds to help support those centers. Specifically, for services that receive a Grade A or B from the United States Preventive Services Task Force, the health center will be reimbursed 100 percent, instead of the previous maximum of 80 percent.
    • Insurance companies will now be required to spend 80 to 85% of the premiums they collect on medical care, or activities that improve the quality of care. Insurers who fail to meet that must provide policy holders with a rebate instead of pocketing the excess premiums.
    • Parents can now keep their adult children on their health insurance until the age of 26, rather than 19 or upon graduation from college.
    • All health care insurance plans must cover children under the age of 19, no matter what pre-existing conditions exist.
  • Destroy the Social Security program by handing the funds over to the gamblers on Wall Street – the same ones who destroyed our economy in 2008 and caused the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression.
  • Apply the same warped logic to Medicare and Medicaid, by removing benefits and handing the funds to Wall Street and all responsibility for providing services to the private health insurers. The same insurers who are gouging the rest of us and who are responsible for making health care in America twice as expensive and far less effective than health care programs in all other developed countries.
  • Take away women’s rights to decide whether or not they want to go ahead with an abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.
  • Cut funding for protecting and cleaning up the environment, enforcing nationwide educational standards and safeguarding our food supplies.
  • Remove new regulations that were imposed on Wall Street and other financial institutions after the collapse of 2008 and rollback older ones to make it even easier for them to make money at our expense.
  • Dismantle the labor unions to make it even easier for corporations to dominate all of American life, including the ability to exert massive influence on elections.
  • Make it harder for minorities and the poor to vote against them by conjuring up false election fraud claims and making it harder for people to exert their constitutional right to vote.
  • Eliminate the Federal Reserve Bank so that Congress can print its own money and hand as much of the government’s tax revenues to corporations as possible.
  • Abolish all gun control laws, making it even easier for the mentally ill and convicted felons to obtain weapons of mass destruction.
  • Modify the Constitution to bias it against religions that they don’t like.
  • Allow schools to teach religious dogma, such as “Intelligent Design” (sic), rather than scientific theories, such as evolution.

If you’re OK with all of the above, go ahead and vote for your favorite GOP candidate. It’s your right. It won’t really matter which one, as they’re all equally bent on destroying our great nation. In any case, it will be the influence of the corporations, many of them foreign-owned, that will dominate our elections from now on. The Republican and Tea Party candidates are merely their puppets.

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