Sunday, November 2, 2014

Last Call For The Late Great Planet Earth

The UN's big report on climate change is out, and it's basically a devastating, last-ditch warning to the planet that at this point without a global climate change plan, "irreversible" damage to our ecosystems will occur putting hundreds of millions of people at risk of climate-related disasters.

The gathering risks of climate change are so profound they could stall or even reverse generations of progress against poverty and hunger if greenhouse emissions continue at a runaway pace, according to a major new United Nations report.

Despite rising efforts in many countries to tackle the problem, the overall global situation is growing more acute as developing countries join the West in burning huge amounts of fossil fuels, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said here on Sunday.

Failure to reduce emissions, the group of scientists and other experts found, could threaten society with food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, mass extinction of plants and animals, and a climate so drastically altered it might become dangerous for people to work or play outside during the hottest times of the year.

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report declared.

In the starkest language it has ever used, the expert panel made clear how far society remains from having any serious policy to limit global warming.

Doing so would require finding a way to leave the vast majority of the world’s reserves of fossil fuels in the ground, or alternatively, developing methods to capture and bury the emissions resulting from their use, the group said.

If governments are to meet their own stated goal of limiting the warming of the planet to no more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the preindustrial level, they must restrict emissions from additional fossil-fuel burning to about 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, the panel said.

At current growth rates, that budget is likely to be exhausted in something like 30 years. Yet energy companies have already booked coal and petroleum reserves equal to several times that amount, and they are spending some $600 billion a year to find more. Utilities and oil companies are still building coal-fired power plants and refineries, and governments are spending another $600 billion directly subsidizing the consumption of fossil fuels.

Bottom line:
  • We're screwed.
  • No, seriously, we're screwed big time.
  • Fossil fuels have to be replaced.
  • The multibillion dollar energy giants will never allow that to happen
  • See point 1.
Anyone born after the year 2000 will probably be around to see just how awful this is going to get, and they will remember our response to this call.

And they will hate us for what we did to them.

That Didn't Last Long, Did It Mitch?

As I said earlier this week, Mitch McConnell isn't going to be able to get away with having both "Kynect is just a website" and "Repeal Obamacare root and branch" as his positions on the Affordable Care Act, and the Tea Party that really runs the GOP has made it clear that he's not getting off the hook that easily.

After McConnell downplayed the prospect of a GOP Senate fully repealing Obamacare on Tuesday, his office told the conservative Washington Examiner on Thursday that he would be willing to use a procedural option known as reconciliation to slice off parts of Obamacare with a simple majority of senators. 
"Leader McConnell is and has always been committed to the full repeal of Obamacare, and he'll continue to lead efforts to repeal and replace it with patient-centered reforms that enable greater choice at lower costs. He knows it won't be easy, but he also believes that if Republicans are fortunate enough to take back the majority we'll owe it to the American people to try through votes on full repeal, the bill’s most onerous provisions, and reconciliation,” McConnell spokesman Brian McGuire told the paper. 
There's a catch: reconciliation is only usable for changes to law which affect the budget.
"Reconciliation can only be used for tax/spending items. So yes, FULL repeal (to include items not subject to a reconciliation bill) would require 60. That has always been the case and always been on the table," Don Stewart, McConnell's deputy chief of staff, told TPM in an email. 
The process is tricky, but it's doable. The Senate would first have to pass a budget resolution, which also requires 51 votes, and include reconciliation instructions.

It would still get vetoed by the President, but clearly the Republicans believe after Democrats get destroyed Tuesday that they'll completely surrender and cave in on getting veto-proof margins on these votes, forcing a repeal.  If that happens, nobody will be able to save the Dems in 2016 from the base not showing up.

Maybe Mitch knows that.

Your Sunday Long Read: The Purge

A very depressing article from Al Jazeera America on the Interstate Crosscheck Program, a cooperative effort by 27 states to disenfranchise seven million mostly minority voters in this election and in 2016.

Until now, state elections officials have refused to turn over their Crosscheck lists, some on grounds that these voters are subject to criminal investigation. Now, for the first time, three states — Georgia, Virginia and Washington — have released their lists to Al Jazeera America, providing a total of just over 2 million names. 
The Crosscheck list of suspected double voters has been compiled by matching names from roughly 110 million voter records from participating states. Interstate Crosscheck is the pet project of Kansas’ controversial Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, known for his crusade against voter fraud
The three states’ lists are heavily weighted with names such as Jackson, Garcia, Patel and Kim — ones common among minorities, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, fully 1 in 7 African-Americans in those 27 states, plus the state of Washington (which enrolled in Crosscheck but has decided not to utilize the results), are listed as under suspicion of having voted twice. This also applies to 1 in 8 Asian-Americans and 1 in 8 Hispanic voters. White voters too — 1 in 11 — are at risk of having their names scrubbed from the voter rolls, though not as vulnerable as minorities. 
If even a fraction of those names are blocked from voting or purged from voter rolls, it could alter the outcome of next week’s electoral battle for control of the U.S. Senate — and perhaps prove decisive in the 2016 presidential vote count. 
“It’s Jim Crow all over again,” says the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr. Lowery, now 93, says he recognizes in the list of threatened voters a sophisticated new form of an old and tired tactic. “I think [the Republicans] would use anything they can find. Their desperation is rising.”

Which is easier to believe, that millions of black, Asian, and Latino voters are criss-crossing the country to vote multiple times in different states, or that Republicans are trying to eliminate millions of Democratic votes in order to win?

Considering a variation of my name is on these lists, and under Interstate Crosscheck my voter registration could be terminated and I could lose my right to vote if challenged?  I'm going with option B there.

If Kobach is right, then there are literally millions of double voting felons that need to be imprisoned. If skeptics are right, then millions of innocent people could to lose the right to vote.  People who just happen to be minorities that favor Democrats.

Do read the entire story to see how much of a complete joke Insterstate Crosscheck is.  Basically, you can lose your right to vote if your name comes close to matching that of a person in another state who has moved.

Think about it.

Then vote.  While you still can.  And don't ever tell me that "there's no difference between the two parties."
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