What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 22, 2017

Because "There is no Planet B"

Some photos from today's March for Science in Pittsburgh from my friend Joy Sabl. She's a geneticist who's married to a nuclear physicist (because that's how my friends roll).

Brain hat replaces pussy hat today

The #unless refers to "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not." from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Truth!

More truth!

Bonus Points if you get these.

The crowd 

On the move!

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

Note: The quote in the title of this post comes from this article.

Today, In Oakland

From Templeton of the P-G:
Science has been attacked from multiple directions throughout the ages, with current challenges to established research on climate change, evolution and environmental stewardship and continuing cuts in research funding through the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies.

So scientists and the pro-science community are striking back peaceably with a March For Science noon Saturday in Washington, D.C., with sister marches in more than 400 cities worldwide, including one in Pittsburgh’s neighborhood of Oakland that’s expected to attract 2,000 to 5,000 people.
I'm so glad Templeton got to use the phrase "established research on climate change" in the first paragraph - it's almost as if 97% of the planet's experts in that field agree that the science is valid or something.

Compare that to the Trib's coverage of the "March for Science" recently held at Cal U.

The closest it gets to mentioning climate science is this paragraph:
President Donald Trump's proposed budget, released in March, includes a $2.6 billion spending slash to the Environmental Protection Agency. The cut represents a third of the agency's budget and has been widely criticized because it would eliminate billions of dollars for scientific research programs.
But we all know what that means, right? If you're not sure, luckily the Washington Post reported:
The proposed budget, if enacted, would discontinue funding for the Clean Power Plan — the signature Obama administration effort to combat climate change by regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. It would sharply reduce money for the Superfund program and cut the budget for the EPA’s prominent Office of Research and Development roughly in half, to $250 million.
But coming from a paper with such an outspoken science-denying editorial board, it's hardly surprising that someone (perhaps) decided to adios the phrase "climate science" from the Trib's news coverage of the coverage of the March for Science.

Don't get me wrong, on Friday night the Trib did go with some coverage of the upcoming march - but only with the first three paragraphs of this Washington Post article from earlier Friday talking about the the march taking place 240 miles away in Washington DC.

Why no coverage of the local march taking place today?  Isn't the defense of science important enough?

April 21, 2017

Meanwhile, Outside...

From the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
The combined global average temperature over the land and ocean surfaces for March 2017 was 1.05°C (1.89°F) above the 20th century average of 12.7°C (54.9°F). This was the second highest for March since global temperature records began in 1880, behind the record year 2016 by 0.18°C (0.32°F) and ahead of 2015 by +0.15°C (+0.27°F). March 2017 marks the first time since April 2016 that the global land and ocean temperature departure from average was greater than 1.0°C (1.8°F) and the first time the monthly temperature departure from average surpasses 1.0°C (1.8°F) in the absence of an El Niño episode in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Overall, March 2017 tied with January 2016 as the fifth highest monthly global land and ocean temperature departure from average on record (1,647 monthly records). The record monthly temperature departure of 1.23°C (2.21°F) was set in March 2016.
The second highest for March since global temperature records began in 1880.

Meanwhile in Trump's administration, this is going on:
Scott Pruitt, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has said that the US should back out of its commitment to the Paris climate agreement, the landmark plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to limit global warming to below 2˚C.

This follows President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to cancel the agreement, with a decision on whether he will do so expected within the next month.

“It’s a bad deal for America,” Pruitt told cable news show Fox & Friends last week. “China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030.”
Of course, this being the Trump administration, facts are kept far out of the discussion.  On the other hand, Pruitt got fact-checked by Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post:
Pruitt clearly needs to brush up on the Paris Accord, as it’s false to claim that China and India have “no obligations” until 2030.

China and India, just like the United States, have made commitments that are supposed to be fulfilled by 2030, meaning they have to take action now in order to meet those goals. The United States made more substantial commitments — which the Trump administration is abandoning — because the United States, on a per capita basis, is a much bigger polluter than either country.

Pruitt earns Four Pinocchios.
And Fact-check.org where they found his assertion to be false.

Facts are stubborn things and it's still getting warmer out there and we're still causing it.

Meanwhile, this weekend, science is defended in Pittsburgh.

April 20, 2017

As The Man Said, Follow The Money (The Trib, The Minimum Wage, And America Rising)

Take a look at this editorial from my friends on the Tribune-Review editorial board:
A new study confirming that government minimum-wage diktats hurt the low-income workers they're supposed to help is especially noteworthy because it comes from a local-level government that's nevertheless forging ahead with a higher minimum wage.
Ah, yes. The Trib braintrust writes about a new study that somehow confirms what Republicans already believe.  But take a look at the details of the study itself.  From its last paragraph:
Ultimately, generalizations on the “overall” impacts of the $15 MWP will depend in large part on the importance of - or weight given to - worker incomes vis -à- vis firm - level profits. With such caveats in mind, our estimates suggest that most workers’ incomes will be improved significantly, firm profits will fall slightly, and job loss will be relatively small. [Emphasis added.]
And from its first:
Using our microsimulation model with city - level restricted tax data and publicly available government data, we predict that over 60,000 District residents will be impacted by this policy; residents will observe an average increase of about 20% in wage income, while about 3.4% of District resident workers will experience job loss. We also find that the city’s affected EITC recipients will lose a total of $16.4 million in federal and local EITC payments in 2021 while gaining $56.6 million in additional wages by way of the $15 minimum wage. [Emphasis added.]
And yet, this is what we get from the braintrust:
“This study proves what we've known all along,” says Jeremy Adler, communications director for conservative policy group America Rising Squared — that minimum-wage hikes “will hurt the most vulnerable in the District, costing them jobs and important economic opportunities.”
The folks at America Rising Squared (and their fellow travelers at the Trib) report nothing but bad news.  But where's the part about how the "average increase of about 20% in wage income"?  The $56.6 million in additional wages?

Silence about all that stuff.  Gee, I wonder why.

America Rising Squared.

Who're they?

From The BridgeProject:
America Rising is a for-profit group which is the unofficial research arm of the Republican Party.
But hey, don't take the Bridge Project's word on it.  Follow that link.  It heads to the Wall Street Journal.  Even if you don't have a subscription to the WSJ, the words "unofficial research arm of the Republican party" can be clearly seen in the second paragraph.

But hey (again), what if the Journal were criticizing America Rising?  Hey, maybe America Rising doesn't want to be called the "unofficial research arm of the Republican party" howbow dah? Well, the good folks at America Rising actually excerpted the Journal's piece on them at their website - so I am guessing they agree with the description.

Well, how about that, huh?

So here's my question: why didn't the Trib braintrust describe America Rising with the words "unofficial research arm of the Republican party" and why did they fail to discuss the many benefits actually outlined in that new study they're using to bash any rise in the minimum wage?

Because, my friends, they are hiding the truth from you.

Again.

April 18, 2017

My TENTH Open Letter To Senator Pat Toomey

I'll be dropping this letter to Senator Pat Toomey in the mail today:
Dear Senator Toomey:

It's me, again. Your constituent who also writes for the local Pittsburgh-based political blog, "2 Political Junkies."

As you may know, this past week thousands of American citizens (including many here in Pittsburgh) took to the streets and demanded that Donald Trump do what presidents have done for 40 years - release his tax returns to the public.

During the campaign he said he'd absolutely release them, then he said he'd release them once his audit is complete (even though there's no legal obligation to withhold them while under audit) and then after the election he said that no one cares about seeing his taxes, anyway.

Do I need to point out the petition currently at Whitehouse.gov with a million signatures on it from citizens who absolutely do care about seeing his tax returns?

The reason the American people are entitled to see any sitting president's tax returns is simple: we have a right to know if decisions are being made for the good of the American people or simply for the good of that president's finances. One of the best ways to know that is to know see that president's financial details.

If it was good enough for Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, it should be good enough for Donald J. Trump, don't you agree?

That's this week's question.

I await your response.
And I will be posting whatever response I get from him or his office.

Follow-up: 

April 17, 2017

April 17 - Thorton Wilder's Birthday

In the Age Of Trump, I thought it might be a good idea to remind, gently, of some of the more beautiful things America created pre-Trump.

For example, today is Thorton Wilder's birthday.  He's famous for writing, among a few other things of course, the play Our Town.  For me this triggered this memory:


Something to ponder while pondering the pussy-grabber now sitting (with help from Russian Intelligence) in the Oval Office.

April 14, 2017

When Can We Show Donald Trump The Door?

From the Guardian in the UK:
Britain’s spy agencies played a crucial role in alerting their counterparts in Washington to contacts between members of Donald Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives, the Guardian has been told.

GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added.

Over the next six months, until summer 2016, a number of western agencies shared further information on contacts between Trump’s inner circle and Russians, sources said.
In late 2015.  That was before Paul Manafort joined the Trump Campaign in late March, 2016.  That was before Carter Page was announced as part of Trump's foreign policy team (also March, 2016).

Before we go any further, the Guardian has this to say to our conspiracy-minded Trump defenders out there:
It is understood that GCHQ was at no point carrying out a targeted operation against Trump or his team or proactively seeking information. The alleged conversations were picked up by chance as part of routine surveillance of Russian intelligence assets. Over several months, different agencies targeting the same people began to see a pattern of connections that were flagged to intelligence officials in the US.
They were tracking Russian intelligence assets and then noticed that those Russian intelligence assets were talking to some Trump people.

Back to our story - Both Page and Manafort have been tied to various Russian intrigues in recent months.  So if it wasn't Page or Manafort, who in the Trump campaign was talking to elements of Russian Intelligence in late 2015? When were they talking? And what were they talking about?

How high up the campaign does the treason go?

April 13, 2017

White House Staff Discovers Best Method to Communicate with Boss

According to several sources, West Wing staffers have found a new best way to get the President's attention and impart information to him. Previously, if a top level staffer needed to inform the President of something important, they'd book an appearance on Fox News -- knowing he'd very likely see it and believe if it was mentioned there. Another method used would be to try to get Alex Jones to say it on his Infowars program. Lastly, they'd jockey to be the last person in the room to speak to him, hoping that their words would survive his general lack of interest and astonishingly small attention span. 

But now they are going for a much more direct method -- through his stomach -- after it was revealed in a Fox Business interview that while the President may not remember which country he bombed, he sure as hell remembers that bomb chocolate cake.

The following are some recent "memos' to the President:




While the First Lady and First Lady Daughter may object to the added pounds, White House staff realize that the fate of the world may depend on a bit of flour, sugar, cocoa, and eggs.





Yep, Warmer. Look WAAY Up North.

We'll start with a graph from the National Snow and Ice Data Center:


See the blue line?  That's this year.  The dotted green?  That's 5 years ago.

And from the journal Science (from the good folks at the American Association for the Advancement of Science) we can read a possible explanation:
A new enemy is undermining ice floating on the Arctic Ocean: heat from below.

Sensors that have plumbed the depths of Arctic seas since 2002 have found warm currents creeping up from the Atlantic Ocean and helping drive the dramatic retreat of sea ice there over the last decade. A new study shows this “Atlantification” of the Arctic Ocean as a new, powerful driver of melting, alongside losses due to rising air temperatures.
The journal Science, by the way, is peer-reviewed and one of the oldest and most prestigious science journals on the planet. It's also the journal that Representative Lamar Smith, chair of the House Committee on Science, called "not objective."

And Donald Trump thinks it's a Chinese hoax designed to undermine American productivity.

So I suppose it's the Chinese who're pumping all that warm water into the Arctic?