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Monday, July 9, 2012

Climate Change is Reality, Bad Weather is Getting Worse and worsened by Libertarians and Republicans • NRA Gun Nuts Are Racist • Republican Mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh Doesn't Want Women to Vote • Pigeons Know You! • Vegan Diet Healthiest • more

- Climate Disasters' Toll Worsened by Sustained Attacks on Public Sector, Science and Regulation
    As we discuss the spate of extreme weather in the United States, the author and professor Christian Parenti argues that the Republican-led assault on the public sector will leave states more vulnerable to global warming's effects.
- Bill McKibben: The Politics of Global Warming
    MSNBC's "Up" host Chris Hayes and his guests talk to Bill McKibben, one of the earliest prophetic voices on global warming, about the recent heat records set across the country.
- Sea Level Rise Unstoppable, say Scientists
    Even if nations manage to mitigate carbon emission levels, oceans will continue to rise throughout 21st century
- Sizzling Heat, Storms, Wildfires: 'This Is Just the Beginning'
    "This is just the beginning," warns Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground, of what life with the impacts of climate change will look like. His message follows a week in which 2000 heat records were matched or broken and the month of June in which over 3200 heat records were matched or broken.Yet during that time, with little exception, there was no mention of climate change during weather broadcasts in which viewers were told to expect little relief from steamy temperatures.
- STUDY: Media Avoid Climate Context In Wildfire Coverage
    Only 3 Percent Of Wildfire Coverage Mentioned Long-Term Climate Change Or Global Warming. The major television and print outlets largely ignored climate change in their coverage of wildfires in Colorado, New Mexico and other Western states. All together, only 3 percent of the reports mentioned climate change, including 1.6 percent of television segments and 6 percent of text articles.
- This summer is 'what global warming looks like'
    Climate scientists suggest that if you want a glimpse of some of the worst of global warming, take a look at U.S. weather in recent weeks.
- Colorado's table was set for monster fire
    n the past two years, record-breaking wildfires have burned in the West — New Mexico experienced its worst wildfire, Arizona suffered its largest burn and Texas last year fought the most fires in recorded history. From Mississippi to the Ohio Valley, temperatures are topping record highs and the land is thirsty.
- Rate of Climate Change's 'Evil Twin' Has Scientists Worried
    Climate change's "evil twin" -- ocean acidification -- has been increasing at a rate unexpected by scientists, says Dr. Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).Lubchenco told he Associated Press that surface waters, where excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has been concentrating, "are changing much more rapidly than initial calculations have suggested." She warns, "It's yet another reason to be very seriously concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere now and the additional amount we continue to put out."
- Helium stocks run low – and party balloons are to blame
    The world supply of helium, which is essential in research and medicine, is being squandered, say scientists
- Fukushima Nuclear Disaster 'Clearly Man-Made', says Parliamentary Panel
    A parliamentary panel investigating the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last year have placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of plant owner TEPCO and government regulators by saying the crisis was "clearly man-made." Though the plant was crippled by an enormous tsunami generated by a powerful earthquake, the panel concluded that key warnings were ignored and preparations that could have been implemented were disregarded out of self-interest.
- Study: Pigeons Can Recognize Familiar Human Faces
    This means that birds not usually thought of having higher cognitive processes — like pigeons — can recognize a person they have encountered before, based strictly on facial characteristics.
- Environmental Study: Eat Less Meat to Fight Deforestation
    A new study on the environmental impact of meat production has resulted in a call to reduce meat consumption in order to fight deforestation.
- The Healthiest Diet of All
    The world's most important health advisory bodies are now in agreement – a balanced vegetarian diet can be one of the healthiest possible. And it seems the fewer animal products it contains such as milk and cheese, the healthier it is. In other words, the closer it is to being vegan, the healthier it becomes. These are some of the health statements that have been made over the past few years.
- Limbaugh Wants to Extend Vote Suppression to Women
    Republicans like Coulter and Limbaugh believe that groups who vote Democratic shouldn't have the right to vote. The available mechanisms they are using, such as voter ID laws, target Democratic-leaning groups such as African-Americans, young people, city dwellers and poor people. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "More than 758,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania do not have photo identification cards from the state Transportation Department, putting their voting rights at risk in the November election." That's 9.2 percent of Pennsylvania's 8.2 million voters.
- National Rifle Association spokesman Ted Nugent: "I'm Beginning To Wonder If It Would Have Been Best Had The South Won The Civil War"
    In today's column for the Washington Times, National Rifle Association board member and prominent Mitt Romney endorser Ted Nugent wrote, "I'm beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War."

Colorado's emergency-response teams burned by anti-tax attitudes
Because of conservative and libertarian sentiments and a no-tax pledge passed statewide 20 years ago, Colorado police and disaster-response teams are stretched thin as a virulent wildfire ravages land near Colorado Springs.
Published July 2 2012 in the Seattle Times
By Amanda J. Crawford

As Colorado Springs battles a rash of robberies after a wildfire that still licks at its boundaries, it does so with fewer police and firefighters and a limited tax base that may hamper its rebound.

The place where the Waldo Canyon fire destroyed 346 homes and forced more than 34,000 residents to evacuate turned off one-third of its streetlights two years ago, halted park maintenance and cut services to close a $28 million budget gap after sales-tax revenue plummeted and voters rejected a property-tax increase.

The city, the state's second-largest, with a population of 416,000, auctioned both its police helicopters and shrank its public-safety ranks through attrition by about 8 percent; it has 50 fewer police officers and 39 fewer firefighters than five years ago. More than 180 National Guard troops have been mobilized to secure the city after the state's most destructive fire. At least 32 evacuated homes were burglarized and dozens of evacuees' cars were broken into, said Police Chief Pete Carey.

"It has impacted the response," said accountant Karin White, 54, who returned Thursday to a looted and vandalized home, with a treasured, century-old family heirloom smashed.
"They did above and beyond what they could do with the resources they had," she said. "If there were more officers, there could have been more manpower in the evacuated areas."
Since the start of the 18-month recession in December 2007, U.S. cities have faced shrinking revenue and diminishing state support, leading to budget cuts and reductions in services and workforces. Cities faced a fifth-straight year of revenue declines in 2011, according to the National League of Cities, which estimated that municipalities would have to fill budget gaps of as much as $83 billion from 2010-2012.

Colorado Springs, which depends on sales tax for about half its revenue, was hit harder than most. The city — the birthplace 20 years ago of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which later passed statewide and has been pushed around the country to restrict government spending — became a high-profile example of cost-cutting. The law restricts government spending to the previous year's revenue, adjusted only for population growth and inflation.
"People are going to be looking at the aftermath of this disaster to see what is possible," said Josh Dunn, an associate professor of political science at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. "How far can you go in cutting the size of city government?"

The city, home of the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family, is known for being conservative and libertarian. It "was the tea party before the tea party was cool," Dunn said.
Six of the nine candidates in last year's nonpartisan mayoral election, including the victor, Mayor Steve Bach, signed the no-tax pledge pushed by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Richard Skorman, one candidate who didn't, was flooded with angry emails after saying in a debate why he opposed such a pledge.

What, he asked, if the city got hit by a major wildfire?

"Resources have been very stretched, and we were always worried," said Skorman, 60, a small-business owner and former city councilman who lost to Bach in an April 2011 runoff.

The costs of rebuilding combined with lost revenue from business closings and tourism could push the city to the point where it doesn't have revenue for essential services, he said.
Bach said the city is on the path toward financial implosion anyway because of overly generous pensions and too many parks.

It hasn't affected the handling of the wildfire, he said.

The Waldo Canyon blaze has killed two, engulfed a 29-square-mile area the size of Manhattan, has cost $11.1 million to fight so far and is now 55 percent contained. .
Carey and Fire Chief Rich Brown said they are facing the same kind of cuts and budget restrictions as public-safety forces across the country. The reduction in manpower hasn't affected their ability to respond to the wildfire, they said in interviews this weekend.
On June 26, when near-hurricane-force winds caused a firestorm that swept into the city, "I don't care if we had 2,000 people, there's nothing we could have done," Brown said. The city has 413 firefighters and recently graduated its first new class of recruits in five years, he said.

Carey said the staff reduction has forced police to work more closely with the Fire Department and other agencies.

"That's the emerging trend of public safety," Carey said. "We can't afford to have a surge capacity, maximum capacity every day for these kinds of situations. You have to think meaner and leaner, and have a plan that includes asking for outside help."

The city has been aggressive in applying for federal grants, too, which have funded wildfire-mitigation efforts, said Bret Waters, emergency management director.

Dunn notes that the city, where there is strong anti-federal-government sentiment, is now turning to the U.S. for assistance. Before visiting Colorado on Friday, President Obama declared the state a disaster area, which frees aid for communities affected by the wildfires.
"Ironically, Colorado Springs is going to rely heavily on federal funds for rebuilding," Dunn said. "But it won't cover everything."