Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Last Call For Gitmo The Hell Out Again

Hey look, Congress stabbed Obama in the back on closing Gitmo again. Quelle surprise!

President Obama’s 5-year-old campaign to close the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, suffered a major setback as lawmakers finalizing the annual defense policy bill rejected steps toward shuttering the facility. 
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told reporters on Monday that the final bill omits a provision giving the president the authority to transfer terror suspects to the United States if Congress signs off on a comprehensive plan to close the prison. 
Levin had pushed for the authority and hailed it in May as creating “a path to close Guantanamo.” With lawmakers rushing to complete the defense bill in this month’s lame-duck session, Levin said proponents were unable to prevail. 
“Our language … (on Guantanamo) … will not be in,” Levin said. 
The House and Senate are expected to vote and overwhelmingly approve the sweeping policy bill in the coming days, sending it to Obama.

Here “overwhelmingly” means “more than a two-thirds veto-proof margin”, which of course requires a significant number of congressional Democrats to screw Obama over on closing Gitmo and not just the GOP. So after this becomes law, and it will, even if Gitmo does close, the President can’t do anything with the detainees who are there as far as moving them to the US. They’d have to be housed in another foreign facility.

So no, Gitmo is not going to close, and every time President Obama tries to do something about it, Congress throws a veto-proof bill on his desk saying “The hell you ever will.”

If anybody has a viable plan as to how President Obama can actually close Gitmo in this environment, where Congress keeps moving the goalposts and we keep re-electing 95% of the Congress I’m all ears.

I Did It All For The Cookie

The Girl Scouts are going high-tech for cookies this year, and it's about time, too.  Mashable's Rex Santus:

Samoas and Thin Mints could be coming to your inbox soon. Girl Scouts of the USA announced Digital Cookie on Monday, a new digital platform that allows Girl Scouts to sell cookies online for the first time in the cookie program's 100-year history
It's a move to get girls interested in computers at a young age. Girl Scouts has always touted the cookie program as a way to lay the groundwork for good business and negotiation skills, and the digital program is modernizing those skills. 
Digital Cookie will not be an online store for cookies, however. As a precaution, Girl Scouts will initiate all sales. So you won't be able to order cookies online unless you're directly contacted by a Girl Scout. This does not change typical cookie season timelines, either. 
The program is supposed to help teach girls five skills: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. As a bonus, it's also meant to give girls experience in using apps and online marketing
There are some concerns about girls' safety, and beyond the fact that only Girl Scouts can initiate sales, the organization is taking numerous precautions. No sensitive information about the girls is kept online, and most actions that happen on the digital interface must be parent-approved. Girl Scouts can reach out to people by email, and only that recipient can access the girl's profile. If the email is forwarded, the link to the Girl Scout's profile will be broken, a Girl Scouts representative told Mashable.

Teaching young women about computers and the internet, online safety, and awesome cookies?  I completely approve and wins all around.  The online safety component it vital, too and I'm very glad to see that's part of the program from the get-go.  I'm hoping Girl Scouts here in NKY get with the program, I'll clean you out of Thin Mints...

Some People Just Want To Watch The World Burn

There's hope for this month's UN climate summit in Lima, Peru after the landmark US-China climate deal President Obama announced last month, but the hard reality is that it's too late to prevent major climate problems in the decades ahead.  Right now, we're playing for humanity's very survival.

Recent reports show that there may be no way to prevent the planet’s temperature from rising, given the current level of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere and the projected rate of emissions expected to continue before any new deal is carried out. 
That fact is driving the urgency of the Lima talks, which are expected to produce a draft document, to be made final over the next year and signed by world leaders in Paris in December 2015. 
While a breach of the 3.6 degree threshold appears inevitable, scientists say that United Nations negotiators should not give up on their efforts to cut emissions. At stake now, they say, is the difference between a newly unpleasant world and an uninhabitable one

I don't think our grandchildren will forgive us on this one.  When they look back at the last 25 years, when the United States in particular failed on Kyoto because of the Republican party and those beholden to Big Oil, I think we're going to be looking at a generation that will absolutely call us cowards and idiots.  I have a new nephew these days, and when he grows up he's going to ask my brother why we didn't do anything about climate change when we could have.

And we won't have an excuse.

“I was encouraged by the U.S.-China agreement,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University and a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a global body of scientists that produces regular reports on the state of climate science. But he expressed doubts that the threshold rise in global temperature could be prevented. 
“What’s already baked in are substantial changes to ecosystems, large-scale transformations,” Mr. Oppenheimer said. He cited losses of coral reef systems and ice sheets, and lowering crop yields. 
Still, absent a deal, “Things could get a lot worse,” Mr. Oppenheimer added. Beyond the 3.6 degree threshold, he said, the aggregate cost “to the global economy — rich countries as well as poor countries — rises rapidly.”

If we fail to do anything in 2015, then the clock will have basically run out.  We'll burn for it, and future generations will find a way to adapt and survive, but they will consider anyone born before the Millennium as a criminal, and rightfully so.   It's no longer a question of if millions will die to climate change in the future, but a question of how bad we're going to allow it to get.


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