As the Congress prepares to cut Social Security from poor old widows, while cutting taxes on millionaires, and we support the apartheid and starvation of innocents in the Middle East, it may be time to think about where this “great experiment in democracy” is going as “the greatest country in the world”:
SPIEGEL: Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation: The United States is frittering away its role as a model for the rest of the world. The political system is plagued by an absurd level of hatred, the economy is stagnating and the infrastructure is falling into a miserable state of disrepair.
As an American expat living in the European Union, I’ve started to see America from a different perspective through the prism of the European media.
The European Union has a larger economy and more people than America does. Though it spends less — right around 9 percent of GNP on medical, whereas we in the U.S. spend close to between 15 to 16 percent of GNP on medical — the EU pretty much insures 100 percent of its population.
The U.S. has 59 million people medically uninsured; 132 million without dental insurance; 60 million without paid sick leave; 45 million on food stamps. Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law. The law also requires paid sick leave; paid annual leave; paid maternity leave. When you realize all of that, it becomes easy to understand why many Europeans think America has gone insane, particularly as 2 million long-term unemployed Americans are getting ready to lose their jobless benefits as America approaches the year end fiscal cliff.
The sobering assessment of America’s unemployment rate isn’t really 7.9 percent, but close to 20 percent when we factor in the number of people who have stopped looking for work.
Filed under Barack Obama, Congress, Dianne Feinstein betrays the voters trust, economics, global warming/environment, Harry Reid:part of the problem, healthcare, Middle East, perpetual war: fascism in disguise, public corruption, Steny Hoyer: isn't he really a Republican?
Toola and one of her foster babies
She taught mankind how to help her species, while she taught orphan sea otters how to live.
“Republicans could give a rats ass about the people out here.”
The proposed XL pipeline is a giant toxic Love Canal
across America’s heartland. The Canadian corporation that wants to build it is bullying landowners in its path, threatening the use of condemnation proceedings, and the sheeple aren’t taking it lying down:
The effect of it today is to place people like Randy Thompson on an unfamiliar side of the divide between conservatives and environmentalists; and business and liberal political activists. He even testified this month against TransCanada as a witness for Henry Waxman’s minority on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“I’m a little ashamed to say that maybe if it hadn’t come across our land, I wouldn’t have gotten involved,” he told me. “I’ve gained a great deal of respect for people who do care about our environment I’ve become much more aware of environmental issues. I have to admire them for being concerned about our environment.”
“Republicans,” he said, by contrast, “could give a rats ass about the people out here.”
As prices in February hit a historic high for this time of year, presaging perhaps $5 a gallon gasoline this summer in the US, Iran is still sitting pretty. The fragile European and US economies, however, may take a hit from higher transportation costs (the US will likely see a fall in summer travel and internal tourism). The same Republicans who complain that President Obama hasn’t been hard enough on Iran are cynically planning to campaign against him on his having caused higher petroleum prices, ignoring the role of sanctions on Iran and tensions with that country in the price run-up! I hate to say it but I told you so.
Filed under Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Countdown to attack on Iran, economics, global warming/environment, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, perpetual war: fascism in disguise, Politics, Republican politicians: are any of them normal, USS Ronald Reagan
Yesterday, while riding my bike, I saw two people dealing with fall leaves. The first was a middle aged man in Mountain View, blowing madly away at leaves in his driveway, blowing them out into the street with a noisy gasoline-driven blower. I suppose then the neighbors will blow them back the next day.
The second person was a middle aged woman in Palo Alto, which prohibits gas blowers; she was suctioning up the leaves with an electric shop vacuum, rolling along on casters, to put them in her recycling bin.
The slow and lingering death of “traditional” news media has prompted some of the nations premier scientific institutions to create their own science wire service.
…35 top research universities—including Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley—have created their own “wire service” of sorts, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
The service, called Futurity, is drafting and distributing articles about the universities’ discoveries to sites like Google News and Yahoo News. They are also leveraging new media, like YouTube, to get the word out. And the stories are also being posted on the consortium’s own site, Futurity.org.
“Our preference would be to have the level of coverage of science and research that we enjoyed for decades,” Lisa Lapin, a Stanford spokesman told the Merc. “But the major news organizations haven’t had the resources to provide that independent, objective look at what we are doing. It’s been declining.”
The Merc notes that newspapers across the country have been whittling down their science reporting staffs. Both the Merc and the San Francisco Chronicle closed their Science sections several years ago.
Well done, and it has to be an improvement over the coverage provided by general news reporters or even science reporters.
Global warming deniers leaped on a new study which indicates current predictive models may be wrong. Well, sort of.
In a commentary published with the study, David Beerling, a paleobiologist at the University of Sheffield in England, writes: “The upshot of the study. is that forecasts of future warming could be severely underestimating the extent of the problem that lies in store for humanity as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere.”
According to Melanie Fitzpatrick, a climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), carbon dioxide-induced warming can lead to changes that exacerbate the problem. For example, increasing CO2 concentrations:
– melt tundra, which then releases methane and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere;
– warm the air, which then can hold more water vapor, another heat-trapping gas; and
– melt white ice, which exposes the ocean and land, which, because they are darker in color, absorb more heat from the sun and reflect less of it back into space.
Scientists are still trying to precisely quantify the effect of such “positive feedback cycles” that took place millions of years ago as well as the ones that are happening today, Fitzpatrick said. The scientific literature, including the new Nature Geoscience study, indicates that positive feedbacks greatly outweigh negative ones and that current climate models are likely underestimating potential temperature increases from overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.
I would add that the study’s authors themselves note in the conclusion:
Possible causes of the excess warming include increased production and levels of trace greenhouse gases as a consequence of the climatic warming (such as CH4).
Given that some of the fastest warming on the planet is occurring right where the most methane is stored (see here), the methane feedback remains the biggest worry in the entire carbon cycle.