The good news? Rocks can restore our climate faster than we thought…The bad news is it still takes 300,000 years

A study of a global warming event that happened 93 million years ago suggests that the Earth can recover from high carbon dioxide emissions faster than previously thought, but that this process takes around 300,000 years after emissions decline…

The team tested the idea that, as CO2 warms the planet, the reactions involved in chemical weathering speed up, causing more CO2 to be ‘locked away’, until, if CO2 emissions decline, the climate begins to cool again. The Oxford team looked at evidence from the ‘Ocean Anoxic Event 2’ in the Late Cretaceous when volcanic activity spewed around 10 gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year for over 10,000 years. The researchers found that during this period chemical weathering increased, locking away more CO2 as the world warmed and enabling the Earth to stabilise to a cooler climate within 300,000 years, up to four times faster than previously thought…

‘Our research is good news, showing that the Earth can recover up to four times faster than we thought from CO2 emissions, but even if we stopped all emissions today this recovery would still take hundreds of thousands of years. We have to start doing something soon to remove CO2 from the atmosphere if we don’t want to see a repeat of the kind of mass extinctions that global warming has triggered in the past.’

300,000 years? That’s still too much time pressure for the average Congressional Republican or the Koch brothers to relent and pay more attention to science than their bank accounts.

NSA amendment’s narrow defeat encourages privacy advocates

“It’s the beginning…”

The razor-thin defeat of a congressional measure to rein in domestic surveillance galvanized civil libertarians on Thursday for what they expect to be a drawn-out political and legal struggle to clip the wings of the intelligence apparatus in the US.

While a measure by Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, failed in the House on Wednesday night, the tight vote was the closest that privacy advocates have come since 9/11 to stopping the National Security Agency from collecting Americans’ data in bulk.

Members of Congress, liberties groups and former surveillance officials pointed to a variety of measures, from new legislation in both the Senate and House to court cases, as means to reset the much-contested balance between liberty and security in the US over the coming weeks and months.

“There are many voices concerned in the Senate about this same issue,” said J Kirk Wiebe, a former senior NSA analyst turned whistleblower. “It doesn’t mean it’s the end of it. It’s the beginning…”

A tally of the votes shows that a majority of Democrats voted in favor of the amendment. One of them, Barbara Lee, told the Guardian that the “stage was now set” to curb the NSA. “It was a great beginning – a first step,” she said.

Representative Keith Ellison, co-chairman of the congressional progressive caucus, expressed disappointment that the Amash amendent did not pass. “For the government to just collect people’s data without any sense of that individual warrants or merits and investigation of some kind is a problem. I am pretty disappointed we didn’t pass it, but I am pretty impressed with how well we did. This issue is not over. There will be more voters and there will be more bills. I feel confident we can perhaps prevail…”

In the Senate, a bill introduced late last month by Pat Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who chairs the judiciary committee, would shorten the lifespan of the Patriot Act and compel the government to “show relevance to an authorized investigation and a link to one of three categories of a foreign agent, power, or group,” thereby blocking the bulk surveillance

Exciting times. Like many foolish nations using the patriotism mantra to excuse every kind of limitation on individual rights and freedoms – American citizens are accustomed to asking, “how high, sir” when Uncle Sugar says “Jump – or you’re unpatriotic!” It took years to overcome that crap while building resistance to the VietNam War. We went through it again over Bush’s War on Iraq.

While we keep up the pressure, this might be one of those rare chances at rapidly turning around gross violations of human rights put in place by the same sleazy government that made them legal. And patriotic.

Superstition bargain of the week: $800,000 worth of protection against voodoo curses and bad luck!

A Florida woman has been arrested for allegedly scamming a California woman out of $800,000 for protection from voodoo curses and bad luck, prosecutors say.

Peaches T. Miller, 33, of Miami, has been detained in Broward County, Fla., on an arrest warrant from authorities in Santa Clara County, Calif…

The warrant accuses Miller of grand theft and extortion…

Court documents indicate the victim sought Miller’s psychic assistance during a divorce proceeding and child custody battle in 2002.

The women sent Miller checks totaling $838,390 between 2002 and 2010 for the purchase of expensive gold and silver mirrors, tabernacles and other items that had to be imported from Italy and Spain so Miller could “vanquish the evil,” court documents said.

The alleged victim became suspicious when Miller hired a lawyer to arrange a repayment schedule as the victim’s daughter got older and was no longer subject to custody battles. A private investigator hired by the alleged victim believed the repayment plan was Miller’s attempt to reduce possible criminal charges to a potential civil action.

Doesn’t this kind of protection come under the job description for most priestly types? Why go to an outside specialist when your garden variety religion generally promises the same kind of protection. With the same likelihood of failure, of course.

Memos from the right-wing strategy for war with progressives, liberals, moderate independents and – Republicans!

Frank Gaffney – Ginni Thomas – Allen West

Believing they are losing the messaging war with progressives, a group of prominent conservatives in Washington—including the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and journalists from Breitbart News and the Washington Examiner—has been meeting privately since early this year to concoct talking points, coordinate messaging, and hatch plans for “a 30 front war seeking to fundamentally transform the nation,” according to documents obtained by Mother Jones.

Dubbed Groundswell, this coalition convenes weekly in the offices of Judicial Watch, the conservative legal watchdog group. During these hush-hush sessions and through a Google group, the members of Groundswell—including aides to congressional Republicans—cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders. They devise strategies for killing immigration reform, hyping the Benghazi controversy, and countering the impression that the GOP exploits racism. And the Groundswell gang is mounting a behind-the-scenes organized effort to eradicate the outsize influence of GOP über-strategist/pundit Karl Rove within Republican and conservative ranks…

RTFA for a comprehensive list of loonies.

…At its weekly meetings, the group aims to strengthen the right’s messaging by crafting Twitter hashtags; plotting strategy on in-the-headlines issues such as voter ID, immigration reform, and the sequester; promoting politically useful scandals; and developing “action items.”

A certain amount of secrecy cloaks Groundswell’s efforts. Though members have been encouraged to zap out tweets with a #GSW hashtag, a message circulated to members of its Google group noted that the role of certain advocates should be kept “off of the Google group for OPSEC [operational security] reasons.” This “will avoid any potential for bad press for someone if a communication item is leaked,” the message explained…

“We want to protect the strategic collaboration occurring at Groundswell and build on it. Please be careful about bringing guests and clear them ahead of time.”

Washington is full of coalitions that meet to coordinate messaging and strategy…and more… Groundswell…and its emergence—given the prominent role of Ginni Thomas and the participation of journalists—prompts several intriguing questions.

Critics have contended that Thomas’ work as a lobbyist opposing Obamacare posed a conflict of interest for her husband, who would rule on the constitutionality of the health care reform initiative…And Common Cause has maintained that Justice Thomas had a conflict of interest when he participated in the Citizens United case because his wife at the time was running a conservative nonprofit fighting the “tyranny” of President Barack Obama that would benefit from removing limits on such groups’ spending and fundraising. With her involvement in Groundswell—which zeroes in on contentious issues that come before the high court, including voting rights, abortion, and gay marriage—Ginni Thomas continues to be intricately associated with matters on which her husband may have to render a decision. Ginni Thomas did not respond to requests for comment.

As I said above, RTFA for the details. This semi-secret cabal makes the Congressional Republican clown show look like a Harvard Business School colloquium on animal spirits. Between racists, assorted and more specialized bigots, irrational religious nutballs and proto-fascist ideologues it is easy to understand why they consider Karl Rove as much an emissary of the anti-Christ as Barack Obama.

Their spookiness, their belief that the right choice of phrases, hashtags and appropriate code words can disguise the bigotry they admit is plaguing their party adds just the right touch of insanity to freshen up the political stench they represent.