Monthly Archives: January 2012

2011: A Year of Weather Extremes, with More to Come

by Janet Larsen and Sara Rasmussen, Earth Policy Institute, 1/31/12

The global average temperature in 2011 was 14.52 degrees Celsius (58.14 degrees Fahrenheit). According to NASA scientists, this was the ninth warmest year in 132 years of recordkeeping, despite the cooling influence of the La Niña atmospheric and oceanic circulation pattern and relatively low solar irradiance. Since the 1970s, each subsequent decade has gotten hotter—and 9 of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred in the twenty-first century.

Each year’s average temperature is determined by a number of factors, including solar activity and the status of the El Niño/La Niña phenomenon. But heat-trapping gases that have accumulated in the atmosphere, largely from the burning of fossil fuels, have become a dominant force, pushing the Earth’s climate out of its normal range. The planet is now close to 0.8 degrees Celsius warmer than it was a century ago. Hidden within annual averages and expected variability are startling instances of new temperature and rainfall records in many parts of the world—weather extremes that would once be considered anomalies but that now risk becoming the new norm as the Earth heats up.

Worldwide, 2011 was the second wettest year on record over land. (The record was set in 2010, which also tied 2005 as the warmest overall.) Heavier deluges are expected on a warmer planet; each temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius increases the amount of moisture the atmosphere can hold by about 7 percent. Higher temperatures also can fuel stronger storms….

continue reading at Earth Policy Institute

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Family Values à la Newt

On the values of the state whose Republican primary he just won, see David Atkins, “Why South Carolina’s Values Are Not America’s Values,” Alternet, 1/22/12

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The Media Blackout on Third Parties

By Steven Higgs, CounterPunch, 11/7/12

Watching Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift confront the question “Are most political reporters simply insiders?” is a discomfiting experience. Her struggle to defend the indefensible unavoidably inspires compassion for her uneasy predicament. But the case she makes so proves the point that any sympathy engendered morphs quickly into cynicism.

The political reporter appeared on a Dec. 29, 2011, panel discussion on Al Jazeera, subtitled the question du jour. Joining her were Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, of whose candidacy Clift knew nothing. Al Jazeera devoted a third of the half-hour program’s opinions to the former Salt Lake City mayor. Clift apparently had never heard of him….

continue reading at CounterPunch

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A Letter from Mitt Romney: About My Finances

SOUTH CAROLINA (The Borowitz Report) – Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney has released the following letter to the American people:

Dear American People:

Over the past several days, my personal finances have been distorted into a grotesque caricature by the mainstream media, pundits, and other people who can count. I am writing to you to set the record straight by explaining my finances in terms the American people can relate to.

Let’s say you bought a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1982 for $5,000. A couple of years later, what do you know, you sell that same bottle for $10,000. So you just made a profit of $5,000 through your own hard work. How much of that should you pay to the government? I’d say fifteen percent.

Now let’s say you have a fellow mowing the lawn at your 7,000 square foot home in La Jolla, and he turns out to be an illegal. You say, “No way, Jose” (Jose is actually his real name) and send him packing. He doesn’t deserve his full paycheck, since he lied to you in Spanish, but it wouldn’t be fair to give him nothing, either. So you pay him fifteen percent.

Now let’s pretend the United States of America is like one big restaurant. Not a fancy restaurant, mind you, but one that only gets two Michelin stars. And let’s say that you order a meal of Beluga caviar, white truffles and gold shavings, washing it down with your favorite beverage, Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1982. The bill arrives and it’s quite a hefty one for a working stiff who only made $375,000 last year in speaking fees. (That’s right: minimum wage.) So when it comes to toting up the bill, how much should I tip the waiter, who in case you’re having trouble following this metaphor is the IRS? You got it: fifteen percent.

I think I’ve now shown, using these real-life examples that everyone can relate to, that no one should ever pay more than fifteen percent on their taxes. If you have been paying more than that, you should get rid of your loser accountant pronto. That’s another thing I have in common with regular Americans: we like firing people.

So – now that I’ve laid it out in simple terms that even you can understand, do you agree that you and Mitt Romney have a whale of a lot more in common than you thought? I’ll bet you ten grand you do.

Au revoir,

Mitt

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