Thursday, January 19, 2017

Last Call For Climate Of Hostility, Con't

As the Trump regime assumes power this weekend, keep in mind that the earth has now hit three straight years of record global temperatures, and we're in a pattern where new records will be set monthly.

Marking another milestone for a changing planet, scientists reported on Wednesday that the Earth reached its highest temperature on record in 2016 — trouncing a record set only a year earlier, which beat one set in 2014. It is the first time in the modern era of global warming data that temperatures have blown past the previous record three years in a row. 
The findings come two days before the inauguration of an American president who has called global warming a Chinese plot and vowed to roll back his predecessor’s efforts to cut emissions of heat-trapping gases. 
The data show that politicians cannot wish the problem away. The Earth is heating up, a point long beyond serious scientific dispute, but one becoming more evident as the records keep falling. Temperatures are heading toward levels that many experts believe will pose a profound threat to both the natural world and to human civilization. 
In 2015 and 2016, the planetary warming was intensified by the weather pattern known as El NiƱo, in which the Pacific Ocean released a huge burst of energy and water vapor into the atmosphere. But the bigger factor in setting the records was the long-term trend of rising temperature, which scientists say is being driven by increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The good news is with El Nino over, 2017 will probably not be a global record-breaker.  But there are still major problems in the Arctic.

Even at current temperatures, billions of tons of land ice are melting or sliding into the ocean. The sea is also absorbing most of the heat trapped by human emissions. Those factors are causing the ocean to rise at what appears to be an accelerating pace, and coastal communities in the United States are spending billions of dollars to fight increased tidal flooding. Their pleas for help from Congress have largely been ignored. 
The finding that a record had been set for the third year in a row was released on Wednesday by three government agencies, two American and one British, that track measurements made by ships, buoys and land-based weather stations. They analyze the figures to correct for known problems, producing an annual average temperature for the surface of the Earth. The national meteorological agency of Japan also confirmed the findings in a preliminary analysis. 
The findings about a record-warm year were also confirmed by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, a nonprofit California group set up to provide a temperature analysis independent of governments. That group, however, did not find that three records had been set in a row; in its analysis, 2010 was slightly warmer than 2014.

So the Trump regime will try to legislate all mention of the problem away as Republicans are salivating over cuts to climate science and research.  But it's looking more and more like it's too late to stop the first stages of a positive feedback loop in the polar ice zones.  Science doesn't require your belief, as the truism goes.

Where The Hate Comes Screaming Down The Plain

Not to be outdone by Texas, North Carolina or Kentucky in January, Oklahoma Republicans are now in contention for the worst legislation so far in the very young year of 2017 as they attempt to enshrine compulsory anti-LGBTQ bigotry into state law.

In 2016, Oklahoma set a record for the most anti-LGBT bills introduced in one session, worsting Texas from the year before. Fortunately, legislative deadlines kept them from advancing, but now one lawmaker is back with what appears to be one of the most extreme “religious liberty” proposals any state has considered. 
Behind the measure is Sen. Joseph Silk (R), who has an extensive record of particularly anti-LGBT legislation and statements. He calls his new bill, SB 197, the “Oklahoma Right of Conscience Act,” but it explicitly enables discrimination against LGBT people — and possibly just about anyone else! 
SB 197 ensures that no one ever has to provide any services used in or to promote “a marriage ceremony or celebration of a specific lifestyle or behavior.” Additionally, such denials will be immune to any civil claim or governmental penalty. In fact, if someone tries to sue or the government takes an adverse action against the person who discriminates, that person will actually have a claim to “recover all reasonable attorney fees, costs, and damages” incurred as a result of the “violation.” 
The proposal seems to borrow from two other prominent pieces of legislation, Mississippi’s currently-unenforceable HB 1526 — which specifically enables discrimination against LGBT people — and the proposed First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which protects people who might discriminate against same-sex couples from any governmental penalty. Congressional Republicans are very optimistic about passing that bill given President-elect Donald Trump’s assurances that he would sign it.
Though the use of “marriage ceremony or celebration” seems to suggest that, like the other bills, SB 197 is designed to target same-sex couples for discrimination, the language is so broad that it could allow quite a bit more. 
There is virtually no limit to what “specific lifestyle or behavior” an Oklahoma wedding vendor could imagine to justify refusing service to a person. As written, the law would make it legal for them to discriminate against vegetarians, people with tattoos, people who tweet in ALL CAPS, people who are left-handed, people who enjoy shopping at Target, or people who enjoy the musical Oklahoma! a bit too much, as examples.

And again, the larger story is that Republicans are going to put the "First Amendment Freedom Act" on Trump's desk within the next couple of months, if not weeks, enshrining bigotry into federal law and almost certainly destroying state-level LGBTQ protections in the process.

It would be eminently unconstitutional, but given this regime, I fully expect that to no longer be the case for long.

The Creamsicle Cabinet

When Trump says "Make America Great Again" judging from his cabinet selections "America" is about 90% white men, a few white women, Ben Carson, Nikki Haley, and Mitch McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao.  With Trump reportedly tapping former Georgia GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue as Agriculture Secretary, that means for the first time since 1988 there will be no Hispanic members in the Cabinet.

Donald Trump's Cabinet is poised to become the first since 1988 without any Hispanic officials — a huge disappointment for members of the nation's second-largest ethnic group — as reports indicate he'll tap former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for agriculture secretary.

Two Hispanic Texans were under consideration for the post: former U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, a San Antonio Republican, and Elsa Murano, a former Texas A&M president and former undersecretary for food safety.

"We're extremely worried. This is anti-democratic," Hector Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, an umbrella group of 40 advocacy organizations, asserting that Trump is undoing decades of progress toward more inclusion.

Ronald Reagan named the first Latino to the Cabinet in 1988 when he picked Texas Democrat Lauro Cavazos for education secretary. Cavazos, a former Texas Tech president, stayed on under George Bush. Every president since, from both parties, has had at least one Hispanic in the Cabinet at all times.

"Trump has not only been the most anti-Latino, anti-immigrant president in the history of the nation. By not including Latinos in the Cabinet he is just showing how he is planning to govern," Sanchez said, noting that Latinos now account for 17 percent of the U.S. population. 

Carson has zero experience in running an agency like HUD (and has said so), Haley has zero foreign policy experience (and has said so), and ironically the one actual person in the Orange Cabinet who is actually qualified to be there is Chao, as Dubya's former Labor Secretary, as an obvious sop to her husband.

I'm thinking that it's almost an accident that Trump's cabinet has any diversity in it at all.  Hispanic voters should definitely be thinking that.  And Mouth of Sauron Sean Spicer?

Asked Wednesday about the dearth of Hispanics in the Cabinet, Trump spokesman Sean Spicer called it more important to pick people who can do the jobs well.

"He has continued to seek out the best and the brightest to fill out his Cabinet," Spicer said. "We have 5,000 positions and I think you're going to see a very strong presence of the Hispanic community" among senior administration appointments and White House staff.

"I don't have any concern about diversity," he said.

It's pretty apparent you don't, guys.


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