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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Daily Drift

True, that ... 

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Today in History

1468 Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano succeed their father, Piero de Medici, as rulers of Florence, Italy.
1762 France cedes to Spain all lands west of the Mississippi–the territory known as Upper Louisiana.
1818 Illinois admitted into the Union as the 21st state.
1800 The French defeat an Austrian army at the Battle of Hohenlinden, near Munich.
1847 Frederick Douglass and Martin R. Delaney establish the North Star, and anti-slavery paper.
1862 Confederate raiders attack a Federal forage train on the Hardin Pike near Nashville, Tenn.
1863 Confederate General James Longstreet moves his army east and north toward Greeneville. This withdrawal marks the end of the Fall Campaign in Tennessee.
1864 Major General William Tecumseh Sherman meets with slight resistance from Confederate troops at Thomas Station on his march to the sea.
1906 The U.S. Supreme Court orders Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) leaders extradited to Idaho for trial in the Steunenberg murder case.
1915 The United States expels German attaches on spy charges.
1916 French commander Joseph Joffre is dismissed after his failure at the Somme. General Robert Nivelle is the new French commander in chief.
1918 The Allied Conference ends in London where they decide that Germany must pay for the war.
1925 The League of Nations orders Greece to pay an indemnity for the October invasion of Bulgaria.
1926 British reports claim that German soldiers are being trained in the Soviet Union.
1950 The Chinese close in on Pyongyang, Korea, and UN forces withdraw southward.
1965 The National Council of Churches asks the United States to halt the massive bombings in North Vietnam.
1977 The State Department proposes the admission of 10,000 more Vietnamese refugees to the United States.
1979 Eleven are dead and eight injured in a mad rush to see a rock band (The Who) at a concert in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1984 Toxic gas leaks from a Union Carbide plant and results in the deaths of thousands in Bhopal, India.
1989 Presidents George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev announce the official end to the Cold War at a meeting in Malta.

Non Sequitur



Valkyries are attested in the Poetic Edda, a book of poems compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla (by Snorri Sturluson), and Njáls saga, a Saga of Icelanders, all written in the 13th century. They appear throughout the poetry of skalds, in a 14th century charm, and in various runic inscriptions.

The Old English cognate terms wælcyrge and wælcyrie appear in several Old English manuscripts, and scholars have explored whether the terms appear in Old English by way of Norse influence, or reflect a tradition also native among the Anglo-Saxon pagans. Scholarly theories have been proposed about the relation between the valkyries, the norns, the dísir, Germanic seeresses, and shieldmaidens. Archaeological excavations throughout Scandinavia have uncovered amulets theorized as depicting valkyries. In modern culture, valkyries have been the subject of works of art, musical works, video games and poetry.

And I Quote

The President is actually standing up to the repugicans

So this is fun.I was listening to NPR the other morning, and they were saying that the repugicans are livid that President Obama stuck to his guns on his “fiscal cliff” offer regarding phasing out the tax cuts for the rich.
You see, NPR explained, the repugicans figured the President would make an offer, then start negotiating with himself, undercutting his own position, while the repugicans just sat back and watched.
But a funny thing happened this time.  He didn’t.  The President is sticking to his guns and demanding the repugicans let the shrub tax cuts for the rich expire.  And Democrats are pleasantly surprised to be able to say, “now that’s the guy I voted for.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise in principle that the President is standing up to the repugican cabal.  The President won the election, and he was quite clear throughout that if he was re-elected, he’d get rid of the shrub tax cuts for the rich.
What’s probably motivating the White House more are the polls.  Not only have recent polls shown that a large majority of Americans, 67%, want tax increases included as part of the budget deal, but even repugicans support the notion 52-44, and even wingnut repugicans are on board, 51-45.  That means, congressional repugicans don’t even represent wingnuts in their party, let alone the rest of their party or the rest of the nation.
And the President knows it, and he’s playing it.  The poll also showed that the public at large, and independents in particular, would blame the repugicans more than the President if the talks fail.
Now, the President has had polls on his side before, and not quite seemed to have taken full advantage of them. Back in 2010, the polls were showing that the public wanted Washington to cut the deficit, keep entitlements and tax the rich.
The public wants Congress to keep its hands off entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. They oppose cuts in most other major domestic programs and defense. They want to maintain subsidies for farmers and tax breaks like the mortgage-interest deduction. And they’re against an increase in the gasoline tax.
Peter Baker in the NYT has a delicious “news analysis” of the current standoff entitled, “Pushing G.O.P. to Negotiate, Obama Brings End to Giving In.”
Obama brings end to giving in. Imagine that.
Mr. Obama, scarred by failed negotiations in his first term and emboldened by a clear if close election to a second, has emerged as a different kind of negotiator in the past week or two, sticking to the liberal line and frustrating repugicans on the other side of the bargaining table.
Disciplined and unyielding, he argues for raising taxes on the wealthy while offering nothing new to rein in spending and overhaul entitlement programs beyond what was on the table last year. Until repugicans offer their own new plan, Mr. Obama will not alter his. In effect, he is trying to leverage what he claims as an election mandate to force repugicans to take ownership of the difficult choices ahead.
His approach is born of painful experience. In his first four years in office, Mr. Obama has repeatedly offered what he considered compromises on stimulus spending, health care and deficit reduction to repugicans, who either rejected them as inadequate or pocketed them and insisted on more. The repugicans argued that Mr. Obama never made serious efforts at compromise and instead lectured them about what they ought to want rather than listening to what they did want.
You know what?  Bite me.  The repugicans long ago taught themselves that lying is the best medicine.  The only way to win over the public, the repugican cabal figured, was to lie to them.  That’s why they created Faux News.  And it’s why they regularly lie about science (be it climate change or evolution), and pretty much every position they hold. Tax cuts won’t balloon the deficit.  Iraq really has WMD (and the war will be a snap).  Gay marriage will force straight men to divorce their wives.  And the President has always refused to compromise with repugicans.
When has the President ever refused to compromise with repugicans?  If anything, Democrats have been annoyed with the President’s seemingly endless efforts to compromise with both Republicans and himself. The stimulus was a compromise (and then the repugicans voted against it anyway).  Health care reform was as compromise (and then the repugicans pretended it was a federal takeover of health care when it wasn’t). Backing off of climate change was a compromise.  Proposing off-shore drilling was a compromise.  When hasn’t this President compromised?
Though, the President’s compromises did become less compromising in the last two years of his first term, as he grew to fully appreciate how duplicitous the repugicans really were.  So now, he’s actually standing up to them, full bore, and they don’t like it one bit.
This is what the President refused to do at the beginning of his first term – use his electoral mandate, use the polling in his favor, and fight from a position of strength for what he thinks is right.
Oh, and I read that the President is also demanding that repugicans let Medicare negotiate drug prices with Big Pharma, so that we can stop paying the exorbitant 300% to 500% mark-up that Big Pharma charges Americans to help pay for subsidized drug prices in Europe.  If the President is serious about this, this is a battle, even in the face of Big Pharma big money, that he can win (good luck explaining to the American people why they, and their government, should continue to pay 5x the price for Advair in order to subsidize cheap prices in France).
Now, will he hold firm?  I dunno.  And to some degree, that’s our job to help hold him firm.  But having the President recognize his own strengths in this negotiation is a darn good beginning to a second term, and it’s just the change I’ve been needing.

The repugican cabal is "full of it" and the press won't call them on it

A stirring editorial in Time by Michael Grunwald calls out the US press for failing to report on contradictions in the repugican's platforms (for example, condemning Obama for not cutting Medicare enough while also telling people to vote against him because he wants to cut Medicare). Grunwald cites many examples of this, and says that the press is so anxious to appear nonpartisan that they're simply unwilling to state the obvious: the party's strategy is based on saying whatever is convenient at the moment.
I’ve written a lot about the repugican’s defiance of reality–its denial of climate science, its simultaneous denunciations of Medicare cuts and government health care, its insistence that debt-exploding tax cuts will somehow reduce the debt—so I often get accused of partisanship. But it’s simply a fact that repugicans controlled Washington during the fiscally irresponsible era when President Clinton’s budget surpluses were transformed into the trillion-dollar deficit that the shrub bequeathed to President Obama. (The deficit is now shrinking.) It’s simply a fact that the fiscal cliff was created in response to repugican threats to force the U.S. government to default on its obligations. The press can’t figure out how to weave those facts into the current narrative without sounding like it’s taking sides, so it simply pretends that yesterday never happened.
The next fight is likely to involve the $200 billion worth of stimulus that Obama included in his recycled fiscal cliff plan that somehow didn’t exist before Election Day. I’ve taken a rather keen interest in the topic of stimulus, so I’ll be interested to see how this is covered. Keynesian stimulus used to be uncontroversial in Washington; every 2008 presidential candidate had a stimulus plan, and Mitt Romney’s was the largest. But in early 2009, when Obama began pushing his $787 billion stimulus plan, the repugican cabal began describing stimulus as an assault on free enterprise—even though House repugicans (including Paul Ryan) voted for a $715 billion stimulus alternative that was virtually indistinguishable from Obama’s socialist version. The current repugican position seems to be that the fiscal cliff’s instant austerity would destroy the economy, which is odd after four years of repugican clamoring for austerity, and that the cliff’s military spending cuts in particular would kill jobs, which is even odder after four years of repugican insistence that government spending can’t create jobs...
Whatever. I realize that the repugican’s up-is-downism puts news reporters in an awkward position. It would seem tendentious to point out repugican hypocrisy on deficits and Medicare and stimulus every time it comes up, because these days it comes up almost every time a repugican leader opens his mouth. But we’re not supposed to be stenographers. As long as the media let an entire political party invent a new reality every day, it will keep on doing it. Every day.
I'm all for pointing out this sort of thing whenever it arises -- including pointing out that Obama's "most transparent administration in history" is the most secretive in history. It's the press's job to hold politicians to account for their public utterances and to point out contradictions. If the press committed to calling out BS whenever it arose, we could, in fact, produce a who-lies-most scorecard, without letting anyone off the hook for lying less than the other guy.
Fiscal Cliff Fictions: Let’s All Agree to Pretend the repugican cabal Isn’t Full of It

The repugicans have a little issue ...

Here's something interesting to think about.  If the government does not come up with a budget plan by December 31,  a whole series of budget actions will take place because of legislation Congress passed, and the President approved, last summer. The reason that legislation passed was to put a temporarily budget in place with both sides agreeing that the deficits the government is running need to be controlled.
Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Directors, told Congress that such massive cuts in government spending would result in a recession because current economic situations are weak. Now the President and Congress are arguing over - get this - cuts to government spending.  Apparently they are trying to negotiate cuts in spending that are just different from the cuts they've already passed.

What's the difference? Is it just a matter of degree? If, as Bernanke said, the "fiscal cliff" we might ride over on 12/31/2012 is going to be bad for us, why should we expect that different cuts would be any better? So, we're going to roll down a fiscal hill instead of falling off a fiscal cliff? Seems like much ado about nothing. We're fucked either way.

When the repugicans last controlled the government, they spent like drunken sailors - approving two wars and a new part D for Medicare, none of which they funded. Instead, they cut taxes for the wealthy. The national deficit rose at a much faster rate under the "small government conservatives" than it has under any Democrat.

Good Question

Demonstrations in Ljubljana: Carnations, Neo-Nazis and a Water Cannon

Bob at Piran Café blog in Slovenia shares this photograph. On his blog, he explains:
This [photograph of a policeman behind a riot shield] was taken at about 6 pm last night, shortly after protesters were giving carnations to police officers stationed in front of Parliament. About four hours later police used a water cannon in Slovenia for the first time. I’m sick as a dog and didn’t stay in the chill and drizzle for very long, so this is a rundown based mostly on local press accounts of what was, somewhat astonishingly, the second demonstration in a week here in Slovenia to turn violent.
Upwards of 10,000 people gathered in Ljubljana yesterday, one of seven Slovenian cities where hastily organized demonstrations took place to protest what’s perceived as widespread fraud and corruption, austerity measures, and the economic reform policies of the center-right government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa.
More here at Piran Café blog.

How it is ...

Los Angeles port strike triggers fears, lobbying by businesses

A general view of the Port of Los Angeles, California November 29, 2012. A strike by clerical workers shut down terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Wednesday after other workers refused to cross picket lines at the nation's busiest combined cargo complex, officials said. REUTERS/Lori Shepler
A national coalition of U.S. business groups is urging an end to a strike at the twin California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach amid fears that a prolonged stand-off will cost the American economy many billions of dollars, and could even spread to the east coast.
Trade groups led by the National Retail Federation have sent letters to U.S. President Barack Obama and leading members of Congress asking them to intervene and help end the strike at America's two busiest container harbor facilities. Those industry groups say the strike, which entered its sixth day on Sunday, is already costing $1 billion a day.
The labor dispute has been triggered by 500 clerical workers at the ports, members of the relatively small Office of Clerical Union Workers. Their industrial action and clout has been significantly strengthened because some 10,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have supported them, refusing to cross the clerical workers' picket lines.
Their action has effectively shut down 10 of the two ports' combined 14 container terminals. Four other container terminals have remained opened, along with facilities for handling break-bulk cargo such as raw steel and tanker traffic.
Industry groups say they have fresh memories of a 10-day lockout at West Coast ports in 2002. They estimate that dispute cost the U.S. economy $1 billion a day and that it took six months before the supply chains fully recovered.
Groups are also warily monitoring an ongoing labor dispute between the International Longshoremen's Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance which could affect ports from Maine to Texas.
The employment contract between the two groups expired at the end of September without a new agreement. The contract was temporarily extended for 90 days, until the end of this year. A federal mediator has stepped in to oversee negotiations to try an avert a strike that would hit at least 14 ports along the East and Gulf coasts.
"Our members are very nervous and very upset about the impact of the (Los Angeles) strike on their businesses," said Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation.
"We have had a lot of feedback. They have very fresh memories of what happened in 2002 and what is happening on the east coast."
Gold said his organization has been working with groups including the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the Retail Industry Leaders Industry Association and the Harbor Truckers Association to pressure lawmakers in Washington to end the stand-off.
The NRF sent a letter to Obama last week asking him to intervene. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein, California's two Democratic senators, have also urged both sides to resolve the dispute.
Negotiations ran late into Saturday and continued Sunday. The clerks had been without a contract for more than two years when labor talks with management broke off on Monday. The chief stumbling block has been the future of union representation for jobs that are lost through retirement.
ILWU leaders are demanding that jobs traditionally performed by their members remain classified as union work and subject to the union's contract terms, even after individuals holding those jobs retire. They accuse the management of seeking to outsource union clerical jobs to overseas workers paid far less in wages and benefits.
The Port of Los Angeles, the nation's busiest container harbor facility, and second-ranked Long Beach together handled more than $400 billion in goods arriving or leaving the West Coast by ship, L.A. port spokesman Philip Sanfield said.

Why (some) manufacturing is returning to the USA

General Electric has moved some of its key appliance-manufacturing work back to the USA, re-opening "Appliance Park," a megafactory in Louisville, KY. The company is finding it cheaper to do some manufacturing in the US relative to China, thanks to spiking oil costs, plummeting natural gas prices in the US, rising Chinese wages, falling US wages, and, most of all, the efficiencies that arise from locating workers next to managers and designers.
The GeoSpring suffered from an advanced-technology version of “IKEA Syndrome.” It was so hard to assemble that no one in the big room wanted to make it. Instead they redesigned it. The team eliminated 1 out of every 5 parts. It cut the cost of the materials by 25 percent. It eliminated the tangle of tubing that couldn’t be easily welded. By considering the workers who would have to put the water heater together—in fact, by having those workers right at the table, looking at the design as it was drawn—the team cut the work hours necessary to assemble the water heater from 10 hours in China to two hours in Louisville.
In the end, says Nolan, not one part was the same.
So a funny thing happened to the GeoSpring on the way from the cheap Chinese factory to the expensive Kentucky factory: The material cost went down. The labor required to make it went down. The quality went up. Even the energy efficiency went up.
GE wasn’t just able to hold the retail sticker to the “China price.” It beat that price by nearly 20 percent. The China-made GeoSpring retailed for $1,599. The Louisville-made GeoSpring retails for $1,299.
The Insourcing Boom 

Woman accused of stashing gun in boyfriend's son's backpack to get him into trouble at school

A Texas woman with a grudge against her boyfriend’s teenage son planted a gun in the boy’s backpack earlier this month and then sent him to school with it. Heather Hodges, 26, called the school district on November 5 and warned them that the 13-year-old had taken a pistol to Magnolia Junior High, outside Houston.
She identified the boy by name, and security guards at the school later found an unloaded 9-mm handgun in his knapsack. "Her explanation to me was that she wanted to see my son get into trouble," said the boy's father, who asked not to be identified to protect his son. Hodges was arrested after police traced the tip to a convenience store pay phone.

Security cameras there caught her making the call. The boy’s father said Hodges, now his ex-girlfriend, had a rocky relationship with his son. "Their relationship wasn't great and so he automatically was like, 'It was Heather that called,’” he said. "You're facing down the barrel is what you're doing if you're willing to go that far," he said of his former live-in girlfriend.

She is being held on $20,000 bond, charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon on restricted premises and unlawfully transferring a handgun to someone under age 18. The boy was cleared of any wrongdoing. Since the incident last week, the father has moved away from Magnolia to remove his son from the situation.

Eight Banned Children's Toys From Yesteryear

From the look of the banned toys on this list kids used to have much more to worry about then windowless vans and strangers with candy.
Home atomic energy kits, Derringer belt buckles that really burned, and giant darts you tossed in the air and hoped didn't put somebody's eye out, now those are some really good reasons to keep an eye on your kids during playtime!
Bucky Balls, on the other hand, really don't belong on this list, but some people ruin the fun for everyone...

Fracking industry refusing to report which chemicals they’re using

In the latest example of the Big Energy choosing which laws they want to follow, a new study shows that the fracking industry fails to disclose the chemicals or quantities of chemicals used during the fracking process up to 30% of the time, depending on the state. Attempts by states to rely on industry self-reporting are not showing great success.Yes, a business needs to keep certain information secret, but the results to date hardly look fair, or even safe. Between problems with drinking water contamination and environmental cleanup issues, these programs need a second look. How could it possibly be considered fair to leave locals wondering about safe drinking water and put their trust in companies that have something to hide?
toxic environment water fracking

Also, how are local authorities supposed to respond to an accident – and accidents happen – when they aren’t aware of what chemicals are being used on the process? Isn’t this putting these people at risk if there are unknown chemicals? If they have to prepare for everything, this could also slow down the response, potentially causing even more problems.
The fracking industry has relied on “environmental” groups for support, but even those groups are having doubts about this system. Maybe these “business-friendly” environmental groups were hoping for the best, but now that the fracking industry is making a mockery out of the self-disclosure, they might not be as eager or willing to provide cover to this industry.
Bloomberg on the latest problem related to fracking.
The 19,000 trade-secret claims made in Texas this year through August hid information that included descriptions of ingredients as well as identification numbers and concentrations of the chemicals used. Overall, oil and gas companies withheld information on about one out of every seven ingredients they pumped into 3,639 wells.
In 5,000 other instances, Texas well operators failed to disclose information without saying why, filling in boxes on forms with “N/A” or “mixture,” for example, or leaving them blank. Such omissions raised the total to almost seven secrets per well from about five.
Nationally, companies claimed trade secrets or otherwise failed to identify the chemicals they used about 22 percent of the time, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of FracFocus data for 18 states. The data were compiled and released this month by SkyTruth.org, a website that uses data and digital mapping to investigate environmental issues.

Mental illness and smarts tied to ancient accident

Scientists have discovered for the first time how humans – and other mammals – have evolved to have intelligence.
Researchers have identified the moment in history when the genes that enabled us to think and reason evolved.
Gautier   Salpetriere 300x201 Mental illness and smarts tied to ancient accident 
This point 500 million years ago provided our ability to learn complex skills, analyze situations and have flexibility in the way in which we think.
Professor Seth Grant, of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, said: “One of the greatest scientific problems is to explain how intelligence and complex behaviors arose during evolution.”
The research, which is detailed in two papers in Nature Neuroscience, also shows a direct link between the evolution of behavior and the origins of brain diseases.
Scientists believe that the same genes that improved our mental capacity are also responsible for a number of brain disorders.
“This ground breaking work has implications for how we understand the emergence of psychiatric disorders and will offer new avenues for the development of new treatments,” said John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust, one of the study funders.

Genetic accidents will happen

The study shows that intelligence in humans developed as the result of an increase in the number of brain genes in our evolutionary ancestors.
The researchers suggest that a simple invertebrate animal living in the sea 500 million years ago experienced a ‘genetic accident’, which resulted in extra copies of these genes being made.
This animal’s descendants benefited from these extra genes, leading to behaviorally sophisticated vertebrates – including humans.
The research team studied the mental abilities of mice and humans, using comparative tasks that involved identifying objects on touch-screen computers.
Researchers then combined results of these behavioral tests with information from the genetic codes of various species to work out when different behaviors evolved.

Mental illness connection

They found that higher mental functions in humans and mice were controlled by the same genes.
The study also showed that when these genes were mutated or damaged, they impaired higher mental functions.
“Our work shows that the price of higher intelligence and more complex behaviors is more mental illness,” said Professor Grant.
The researchers had previously shown that more than 100 childhood and adult brain diseases are caused by gene mutations.
“We can now apply genetics and behavioral testing to help patients with these diseases”, said Dr Tim Bussey from Cambridge University, which was also involved in the study.

For psychiatry "bible," Asperger's is out, binge eating is in

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, will no longer classify Asperger's as an official mental disorder, but binge eating and hoarding are now in. The board of the American Psychiatric Association voted these and other changes in to the trade "bible" on Saturday. Asperger's is now relegated to a subset of autism.

Did you know ...

The countries that use more high fructose corn syrup have more diabetes

Random Photo


January Jones

Carbon pollution up to 2 million pounds a second

FILE - This Nov. 26, 2012 file photo shows organizers on stage at the opening ceremony of the 18th United Nations climate change conference in Doha, Qatar. The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3 percent. So scientists say it's now unlikely global warming can be limited by more than a couple degrees, which is an international goal. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal, File)
The amount of heat-trapping pollution the world spewed rose again last year by 3 percent. So scientists say it's now unlikely that global warming can be limited to a couple of degrees, which is an international goal.
The overwhelming majority of the increase was from China, the world's biggest carbon dioxide polluter. Of the planet's top 10 polluters, the United States and Germany were the only countries that reduced their carbon dioxide emissions.
Last year, all the world's nations combined pumped nearly 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, according to new international calculations on global emissions published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change. That's about a billion tons more than the previous year.
The total amounts to more than 2.4 million pounds (1.1 million kilograms) of carbon dioxide released into the air every second.
Because emissions of the key greenhouse gas have been rising steadily and most carbon stays in the air for a century, it is not just unlikely but "rather optimistic" to think that the world can limit future temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), said the study's lead author, Glen Peters at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, Norway.
Three years ago, nearly 200 nations set the 2-degree C temperature goal in a nonbinding agreement. Negotiators now at a conference under way in Doha, Qatar, are trying to find ways to reach that target.
The only way, Peters said, is to start reducing world emissions now and "throw everything we have at the problem."
Andrew Weaver, a climate scientist at the University of Victoria in Canada who was not part of the study, said: "We are losing control of our ability to get a handle on the global warming problem."
In 1997, most of the world agreed to an international treaty, known as the Kyoto Protocol, that required developed countries such as the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 5 percent when compared with the baseline year of 1990. But countries that are still developing, including China and India, were not limited by how much carbon dioxide they expelled. The United States never ratified the treaty.
The latest pollution numbers, calculated by the Global Carbon Project, a joint venture of the Energy Department and the Norwegian Research Council, show that worldwide carbon dioxide levels are 54 percent higher than the 1990 baseline.
The 2011 figures for the biggest polluters:
1. China, up 10 percent to 10 billion tons.
2. United States, down 2 percent to 5.9 billion tons
3. India, up 7 percent to 2.5 billion tons.
4. Russia, up 3 percent to 1.8 billion tons.
5. Japan, up 0.4 percent to 1.3 billion tons.
6. Germany, down 4 percent to 0.8 billion tons.
7. Iran, up 2 percent to 0.7 billion tons.
8. South Korea, up 4 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
9. Canada, up 2 percent to 0.6 billion tons.
10. South Africa, up 2 percent to 0.6 billion tons.

Long-term research reveals how climate change is playing out in real ecosystems

Around the world, the effects of global climate change are increasingly evident and difficult to ignore. However, evaluations of the ...
Continue Reading 

Sweden: the land of the rising coastline

In contrast to worries from the Maldives to Manhattan of storm surges and higher ocean levels caused by climate change, the entire northern part of the Nordic region is rising and, as a result, the Baltic sea is receding. More

Awesome Pictures

A 0ne thousand year old Yew in Wales

Martian Organics: Yes or No?

Curiosity Hints at Mars Organics, Perchlorate

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has discovered complex chemistry on the Red Planet, as well as hints of long-sought organic compounds that could aid primitive life. Read more
Curiosity Hints at Mars Organics, Perchlorate

NASA Fends Off Mars Organics Rumors

NASA has said there will be no "historic" announcement about organics on Mars on Monday. Bummer. Read more
NASA Fends Off Mars Organics Rumors

Organics Discovered on Mercury

A surprising discovery has been made during a successful search for ice inside the small planet's shadowed craters.  
Organics Discovered on Mercury

"Nature is a bitch who likes to make life hard for scientists"

In the Guardian, Stephen Curry writes about how a new analysis of the structure of DNA using electron microscopy was mis-reported and distorted by various online publications. 

Molecules with silly names

Meet moronic acid. It's special.
Found in mistletoe and the Chinese sumac, this chemical could be one of the reasons those plants have long been associated with herbal medicine. Scientists studying the anti-viral properties of moronic acid have found it to be effective against HIV and herpes. The HIV work is particularly important, because moronic acid seems to target a different receptor on the virus than other drugs — which means it could be effective against HIV strains that have developed a resistance to existing medication. It'll still be a while before this research translates into a commercial product (if it does at all). But moronic acid is, at least, doing well enough to have made it into Phase II clinical trials — which means that smaller studies on humans have shown that it's generally safe. The Phase II trials, usually done with groups of 100 to 300 people, will help scientists understand whether it's as effective in the human body as it seems to be in the lab.
Looking for more molecules with silly names? Chemist Paul May has a whole list of these things — many of them hilariously immature. List includes arsole, cummingtonite, and fucitol.

Science News from the BBC

Plastic bulb promises truer lightWake forest university researchers

US researchers say they have developed a new type of lighting that could replace fluorescent bulbs in homes and offices.

Animal Pictures


By black fox wildlife photography