Thursday, May 10, 2012

Odds & ends: Warming, Supreme Court Polling Negatives, Rancher Slush Fund, War in Context, etc.

Busy with Spring so just some articles of recent interest, hopefully.

Yesterday, Jay Hanson's America 2.0 mailing list sent out an article stating that the U.S. Has Hottest 12-Month Period on Recordduring the last year. Democracy Now! also carried the story in their headlines today, albeit the last one.

The story was from the NOAA Satellite and Information Service:
"12-month period (May 2011-April 2012)
The 12-month period (May 2011-April 2012), which includes several warm periods for the country — second hottest summer, fourth warmest winter, and warmest March — was the warmest consecutive 12-month period for the contiguous United States. Twenty-two states were record warm for the 12-month period, and an additional 19 states were top ten warm. The 12-month running average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 55.7 degrees F, which is 2.8 degrees F above the 20th century average."


The Pew Research Center released a poll stating that the Supreme Court Favorability Reaches New Low.

Public assessments of the Supreme Court have reached a quarter-century low. Unlike evaluations over much of the past decade, there is very little partisan divide. The court receives relatively low favorable ratings from Republicans, Democrats and independents alike.


PEW also notes that:
Most Swing Voters Favor Afghan Troop Withdrawal
Support for U.S. Troop Presence Hits New Low

Public support for maintaining U.S. forces in Afghanistan has reached a new low. And as the general election campaign begins, swing voters, by nearly two-to-one, favor removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of voters who say they are certain to support Barack Obama in the general election favor a rapid U.S. troop withdrawal. But support for a troop pullout is nearly as extensive (59%) among swing voters — those who are either undecided in their general election preferences, lean toward a candidate or say they may still change their minds. Swing voters make up nearly a quarter (23%) of all registered voters.

Voters who express certainty about voting for Mitt Romney in the fall are divided over what to do about U.S. troops in Afghanistan: 48% favor removing them as soon as possible, while 46% support maintaining U.S. forces there until the situation has stabilized.


On Tuesday, former labor Secretary Robert Reich offered up a critique on the economy and former President Clinton's errors:

Former Labor Sec. Robert Reich on Clinton’s Errors of Crippling Welfare to Repealing Glass-Steagall

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich critiques President Obama’s handling of the economic crisis and the Clinton administration’s repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, a key deregulatory move that ended the separation of commercial and investment banking and is widely seen as having helped lead to the financial collapse. The Clinton administration also presided over a drastic transformation of U.S. welfare laws, throwing millions off of welfare rolls. "I went outside of the White House, walked back to my office along Constitution Avenue, expecting I would see signs. ... There are a lot of people who were concerned about that issue. But there was nobody on the streets. It was deafening. The silence was deafening," Reich says of the day Clinton signed the change into law. He notes this is when he realized, "if people who are concerned about the increasing concentration of wealth and power in this country are not mobilized, are not visible, then nothing progressive is going to happen." Reich is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has written 13 books, including "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future." His latest, an e-book, is just out: "Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong with Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix Them."


From The Wildlife News via NorthEast Oregon Ecosystems:

Conservation Groups and Livestock Interests Work to Create a New $25 Million Rancher Slush Fund
The Wildlife News
May 8
Recently we were informed of a new effort by two conservation groups, a Native American tribe and livestock interests “to secure $25 million from the upcoming 2012 Farm Bill to help livestock producers reduce the risk of livestock losses to grizzly bears, wolves, black bears and mountain lions.”

This taxpayer money is meant to “reduce the impacts that carnivores can have on livestock producers” although how the funds’ effectiveness would be monitored is unclear.

There is no doubt about the need for ranchers to incorporate non-lethal, preventative livestock husbandry practices into their grazing management regimes in order to prevent conflict with wolves and other native predators.

The question that needs to be answered is who ought be responsible for the costs of needed animal husbandry ?



Website Worth Reading:

War In Context

Game over for the climate
by NEWS SOURCES on MAY 10, 2012
James Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, writes: warming isn’t a prediction. It is happening. That is why I was so troubled to read a recent interview with President Obama in Rolling Stone in which he said that Canada would exploit the oil in its vast tar sands reserves “regardless of what we do.”

If Canada proceeds, and we do nothing, it will be game over for the climate.

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

That is the long-term outlook. But near-term, things will be bad enough.. . . . .

In preparation for war against Iran, U.S. set to give Israel largest grant of military aid ever
Posted By News Sources On May 8, 2012 @ 2:40 pm In war against Iran | 3 Comments

Following a decision by the U.S. House of Representatives Defense Appropriations Subcommittee which just approved over $948 million in funding for Israel’s anti-missile defense programs, Israel will receive a record $4 billion in military aid in 2013.

The Jewish Press reports [1]: Approximately $679 million of the funding will go to the Iron Dome, thanks in large part to legislation initiated last month by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairwoman and ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively.

The remaining $269 million will go to Israel’s other anti-missile initiatives: the short-range David’s Sling ($149.7 million), and the current long-range Arrow anti-ballistic missile system and its successor the Arrow 3 ($119.3 million). These projects, unlike the Iron Dome, are joint Israel-US projects.

While the increase in funding for the Iron Dome was expected, with the Department of Defense stating in March that it “intends to request an appropriate level of funding from Congress to support such acquisitions based on Israeli requirements and production capacity,” the funding for the other projects represents an increase of $169 million over the Obama administration’s proposed number.

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