Posts Tagged ‘Congress’
Changes are already happening to Earth’s climate due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and large-scale agriculture. As changes get more pronounced, people everywhere will have to adjust. In this week’s issue of the journal Science, an international group of researchers urge the development of science needed to manage climate risks and capitalize on unexpected opportunities…
“Adapting to an evolving climate is going to be required in every sector of society, in every region of the globe. We need to get going, to provide integrated science if we are going to meet the challenge,” said senior scientist Richard Moss of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “In this article, we describe the foundations for this research and suggest measures to establish it.”
“The need to adapt and adjust is going to be global,” said Moss. “We need a flexible, integrated approach that merges theoretical and problem-oriented sciences around four general challenges.”
The four challenges are:
Understanding what information is needed to make decisions about adapting to climate change
Identifying vulnerabilities in society, the economy and the environment
Improving forecasts and climate models in ways that can address specific problems
As an example of how practical and basic research can work together, Moss described work in the U.S. involving water utilities, university scientists, and private firms to pilot use of climate models and water utility modeling to design resilient water systems.
“This research is motivated by a practical challenge, ensuring reliable water supplies. Among the scientific advances that will be required is better integration of weather and climate models to improve decadal climate information to help people plan,” Moss said.
“Traditionally we think that what society needs is better predictions. But at this workshop, all of us – climate and social scientists alike – recognized the need to consider how decisions get implemented and that climate is only one of many factors that will determine how people will adapt,” he said.
Sounds like some folks realize that Congress is about as capable as the folks who designed the lifeboats for the Titanic. We may as well get to work figuring out survival alternatives since the gremlins in charge ain’t capable of rescuing anyone including themselves.
Alan Grayson really pisses off the whole range of useless politicians – from corrupt to cowardly.
In the 1970s, Congressman Otis Pike of New York chaired a special congressional committee to investigate abuses by the American so-called “intelligence community” – the spies. After the investigation, Pike commented:
It took this investigation to convince me that I had always been told lies, to make me realize that I was tired of being told lies.
I’m tired of the spies telling lies, too.
Pike’s investigation initiated one of the first congressional oversight debates for the vast and hidden collective of espionage agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the National Security Agency (NSA). Before the Pike Commission, Congress was kept in the dark about them – a tactic designed to thwart congressional deterrence of the sometimes illegal and often shocking activities carried out by the “intelligence community”. Today, we are seeing a repeat of this professional voyeurism by our nation’s spies, on an unprecedented and pervasive scale.
Recently, the US House of Representatives voted on an amendment – offered by Representatives Justin Amash and John Conyers – that would have curbed the NSA’s omnipresent and inescapable tactics. Despite furious lobbying by the intelligence industrial complex and its allies, and four hours of frantic and overwrought briefings by the NSA’s General Keith Alexander, 205 of 422 Representatives voted for the amendment.
Though the amendment barely failed, the vote signaled a clear message to the NSA: we do not trust you. The vote also conveyed another, more subtle message: members of Congress do not trust that the House Intelligence Committee is providing the necessary oversight. On the contrary, “oversight” has become “overlook“…
Many of us worry that Congressional Intelligence Committees are more loyal to the “intelligence community” that they are tasked with policing, than to the Constitution. And the House Intelligence Committee isn’t doing anything to assuage our concerns.
RTFA for details. If you pay attention to politics on any reasonable scale, you will not be surprised. But, Grayson’s op-ed piece is useful in the battle against subservience and collaboration in Congress.
U.S. regulators and livestock producers have failed to curb the use of antibiotics in cattle, pigs and poultry despite concerns that excessive use in meat production will reduce the drugs’ effectiveness in humans, a panel of experts said.
“Meaningful change is unlikely in the future,” concluded the 14-member panel, assembled by Johns Hopkins University, in a report released on Tuesday that quickly drew protests from livestock industry groups.
The release marked the fifth anniversary of a landmark 2008 Pew Charitable Trust report that called for an end to the sub-therapeutic use of antibiotics by livestock producers, as well as an end to practices such as tiny cages for laying hens…
The Johns Hopkins’ report said “additional scientific evidence has strengthened the case that these (non-therapeutic) uses pose unnecessary and unreasonable public health risks” of allowing bacteria to develop resistance to antibiotics.
“We have even better science to support the recommendations we have made,” said Mary Wilson, an epidemiologist at Harvard University. “We are, in fact, running out of antibiotics. We are seeing infections that are untreatable.”
More than 2 million Americans are sickened by antibiotic-resistant infections each year and 23,000 of them die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control And Prevention.
Livestock industry leaders said “Blah, blah, blah”…
Eight congressional Democrats were arrested Tuesday at the U.S. Capitol while demonstrating for immigration law reform.
Those arrested included Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a leading figure in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Rep. Charlie Rangel of New York and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois — along with Joe Crowley of New York, Raul Grijalva of Arizona, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Al Green of Texas.
They were part of a larger group conducting a sit-in to block a street in the front of the Capitol…
The arrests came as thousands of protesters took part in the “Camino Americano: March for Immigration Reform” rally on the National Mall, even though the open-area national park is closed due to the federal government shutdown…
The bill closely matches a comprehensive bipartisan bill the Senate passed in June that includes a path to citizenship for most of the estimated 11.7 million immigrants living in the United States illegally. The House bill had no Republican sponsors…
The National Park Service, which administers the mall, agreed to let the event take place under First Amendment privileges…The First Amendment says Congress can make no law abridging free speech, peaceful assembly or an appeal to government to redress grievances.
The mall is intended to be the pre-eminent national civic space for public gatherings because it is considered the place where constitutional rights of speech and peaceful assembly find their fullest expression, a mall foundation statement says.
Bravo! Nice to see a small portion of our elected representatives willing to engage non-violent protest against injustice. Lots more photos over here.
Any Freedom Fighters from the NRA or the Tea Party take part? Oh.
American adults lag the world in literacy, math and computer skills – just not quite as bad as our kids
Policymakers and politicians who wring their hands about the mediocre performance of U.S. students on international math and reading tests have another worry: The nation’s grown-ups aren’t doing much better.
A first-ever comparison of adults in the United States and those in other democracies found that Americans were below average when it comes to skills needed to compete in the global economy.
The survey…measured the literacy, math and computer skills of about 5,000 U.S. adults between ages 16 and 65, and compared them with similar samples of adults from 21 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The Americans are “decidedly weaker in numeracy and problem-solving skills than in literacy, and average U.S. scores for all three are below the international average and far behind the scores of top performers like Japan or Finland,” said Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, the data collection arm of the U.S. Department of Education.
…How does one party that has lost two presidential elections and a Supreme Court case – as well as two Senate elections – think it has the right to shut down the entire government and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury to get its way on universal healthcare now? I see no quid pro quo even. Just pure blackmail, resting on understandable and predictable public concern whenever a major reform is enacted. But what has to be resisted is any idea that this is government or politics as usual. It is an attack on the governance and the constitutional order of the United States.
When ideologies become as calcified, as cocooned and as extremist as those galvanizing the GOP, the American system of government cannot work. But I fear this nullification of the last two elections is a deliberate attempt to ensure that the American system of government as we have known it cannot work. It cannot, must not work, in the mindset of these radicals, because they simply do not accept the legitimacy of a President and Congress of the opposing party. The GOP does not regard the president as merely wrong – but as illegitimate. Not misguided – illegitimate. This is not about ending Obamacare as such (although that is a preliminary scalp); it is about nullifying this presidency, the way the GOP attempted to nullify the last Democratic presidency by impeachment.
Except this time, of course, we cannot deny that race too is an added factor to the fathomless sense of entitlement felt among the GOP far right. You saw it in birtherism; in the Southern GOP’s constant outrageous claims of Obama’s alleged treason and alliance with Islamist enemies; in providing zero votes for a stimulus that was the only thing that prevented a global depression of far worse proportions; in the endless race-baiting from Fox News and the talk radio right. And in this racially-charged atmosphere, providing access to private healthcare insurance to the working poor is obviously the point of no return…
I regard this development as one of the more insidious and anti-constitutional acts of racist vandalism against the American republic in my adult lifetime. Those who keep talking as if there are two sides to this, when there are not, are as much a part of the vandalism as Ted Cruz. Obama has played punctiliously by the constitutional rules – two elections, one court case – while the GOP has decided that the rules are for dummies and suckers, and throws over the board game as soon as it looks as if it is going to lose by the rules as they have always applied.
…If we cave to their madness, we may unravel our system of government, something one might have thought conservatives would have opposed. Except these people are not conservatives. They’re vandals.
This time, the elephant must go down. And if possible, it must be so wounded it does not get up for a long time to come.
I agree. Too much work getting in winter’s firewood to spend on elaboration of my own. But, Andrew Sullivan says it well enough for now.
The silliness of TV Talking Heads blathering about middle ground and negotiations are as ignorant as ever. When half the proposed negotiations is illegal and refutation of our constitutional rights to democracy – the topic is moot. Ended. As over as Romney’s career as a national politician.
In September the Texas Department of State Health blitzed the radio and TV with ads for a new teen abstinence website that will cost $1.2 million over the next year.
Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, and the new website aims to address the issue by promoting strict abstinence before marriage.
The website, ourtown4teens.org, is paid for with federal money from a program called the Title V State Abstinence Education Grant Program.
As such, there is no mention anywhere on the site of contraception. Title V recipients must use the money to support abstinence, and teach that sex outside marriage could have harmful psychological and physical effects.
Congress and the White House keep Huawei out of the USA – so, now, they’re adding 5,500 jobs in Europe
Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei plans to create 5,500 jobs in Europe within five years as the company expands its services in the region, state-owned newspaper China Daily said on Saturday.
Huawei, the world’s second largest maker of telecoms communication equipment, is to offer information technology solutions to European businesses, Patrick Zhang, president of marketing and solutions at Huawei Enterprise Business Group, told the newspaper…
Zhang said Europe offered more growth potential than the United States, where a congressional report last year found the company posed a security threat and essentially blocked it from the market.
“Our expansion progress in Europe is different from that in the U.S., where we have encountered access difficulties due to some groundless reasons given by the American side,” Zhang said.
Huawei representatives said last week that the company expected to have its revenues expand by 10 percent annually over the next five years, thanks largely to consumer devices and enterprise services.
Isn’t there something your grandma said about cutting off your nose to spite your face?
Europeans have had beefs with Huawei in the past over prices – the usual excuse when you’re not competitive. However, their corporations and governments have no problems using Huawei communications systems, products – aiding Huawei on their path towards number 1 in that market in the world.
Uncle Sugar and the Cold Warriors in Congress and the White House think they will somehow protect investments in out-of-date and uncompetitive designs from American companies by blocking foreign competition. And the United States may as well drop the fear of eavesdropping ploy about foreign governments. There’s one area where we definitely lead the world.
The philosopher Daniel Dennett once compared science to the construction of a huge pyramid. Its base comprises the mass of well-established knowledge – no longer controversial and seldom discussed outside academia. More recent research is piled toward the top of the pyramid, where most public debate takes place. It is an apt metaphor for climate-change research…
The IPCC’s fifth report, the product of several years of work by hundreds of climate scientists around the world, reviews our established understanding of climate change and explains more recent findings…Let us step back from the news cycle to look at the solid knowledge base of our pyramid…
An extraordinary, if underappreciated, feature of the IPCC’s reports is that, though many different scientists have worked on them over the past 23 years, the fundamental conclusions have not changed. This reflects an overwhelming consensus among scientists from around the world. Polls of climate researchers, as well as analysis of thousands of scientific publications, consistently show a 97-98% consensus that human-caused emissions are causing global warming…
The past can serve as a guide to the consequences of the warming that we are causing. Scientists studying paleoclimate – the climates of the ancient past – have documented the massive impact of earlier climatic changes. At the end of the last Ice Age, for example, global temperature rose by about 5ºC over a period of 5,000 years. This was enough to transform the Earth’s vegetation cover, melt two-thirds of the continental ice masses, and raise sea levels by more than a hundred meters. Slowly but surely, sea levels are inching up once again. A key conclusion of the new IPCC report is that sea-level rise has accelerated.
But, before millions of people are submerged, many will be struck by extreme weather events. Record-breaking hot months now occur five times more frequently than they would in a stable, unchanging climate; these heat waves cause droughts, wild fires, poor harvests, and, inevitably, loss of life.
The latest IPCC report describes our current predicament with disturbing clarity: global temperatures are climbing, mountain glaciers and polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe.
The details near the top of the knowledge pyramid can and should be intensely debated. But our solid understanding of the fundamentals of global warming – the base of our knowledge of climate science – should provide reason enough to press on with the implementation of carbon-free energy technologies. With a rapid reduction in emissions, it is still possible to keep warming within safe bounds (estimated at below 2ºC); but the task is becoming increasingly difficult. Failure to act quickly and globally will leave our children and grandchildren struggling to adapt to rapidly rising seas and devastating weather.
Here in the United States, self-destruction of traditional American conservatism and its replacement with populist, anti-science, superstition-based ideology makes any reasoned response to this information impossible. The legislative side of our federal government – and many of the state governments – is incapable of enacting anything useful. They would rather focus their loyalties on the wealthiest individuals and most powerful corporations. They dedicate the political process to bigotry and foolishness that passed its sell-by date a century ago.
Part of this is opportunism. The natural anger of a populace lied to by previous governments, their children sent off to imperial wars. The other side of this opportunist core is our long-cherished racism. Hypocrisy demands lip service to a post-racial society. Reality is another story. Add to this a fear of equal opportunity on the part of aging white males facing a minority role as time passes – and we have all the ingredients for fascist ideology finding a stronghold in this nation.
That the liberal portion of our political hacks has demonstrated the political will of a traffic light flashing caution at a 4-way stop intersection hasn’t helped. The vaguely [and barely] progressive wing of the two parties we’re generally allowed has the courage of a cricket and the attention span to match. If the rest of the Left side of educated folks in this land didn’t have the gumption it does, we’d be doomed. But, as an optimist as well as cynic, I’m always encouraged by the ability of the masses of this nation to allow a small percentage of brave individuals to coalesce and join the fight to improve life for us all.