An ounce of prevention

Would have been a better idea!

German researchers on Wednesday said they had evidence that sowing the ocean with iron particles sucks up and stores carbon dioxide (CO2), preventing the gas from stoking dangerous climate change.


But their work, touching on a fiercely controversial issue called geo-engineering, came under attack from other scientists and environmentalists.


These said a far bigger question — whether such schemes could damage the marine biosphere — remained unanswered.


Published in the science journal Nature, the paper is one of the biggest and most detailed probes into ocean fertilisation, a practice that is banned under international law although scientific research into it is permitted.


Its goal is to take CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in the deep sea so that it no longer adds to the greenhouse effect.


This would be done by scattering the ocean surface with iron dust, a nutrient for microscope marine vegetation called phytoplankton. As the plants gorge on the iron, they also suck up atmospheric CO2 thanks to natural photosynthesis.


In the next step, the phytoplankton die and sink to the deep ocean floor — taking with them the CO2, which would lie in the sediment, possibly for centuries.

Yay

So women won’t lose long-time, high-quality abortion services:

Abington Health and Holy Redeemer Health System have called off the plans for a merger, after controversy over the decision to end abortions at Abington Memorial Hospital.


The two institutions released a brief joint statement Wednesday afternoon.


It reads:

“Abington Health and Holy Redeemer Health System have decided to end discussions regarding a potential partnership to create a larger health system. Together we had a bold vision that we believe would have served our community well. While we are disappointed, we believe this decision is in the best interest of both organizations. Abington Health and Holy Redeemer Health System will continue to seek opportunities to enhance the health of the communities we serve.”

The Federal Election Commission is a joke

I would prefer not to be around for that moment when the majority of the American public realizes just how captured and corrupt our institutions are, because it won’t be pretty. Just my opinion! Via Alternet:

The Federal Election Commission has long been the go-to source for tracking political money. So when it starts cleansing politically hot contributions from its files, it matters. Big time.


We have discovered that sometime after January of this year, the FEC deleted a whole set of contributions totaling millions of dollars made during the 2007-2008 election cycle. The most important of these files concern what is now called “dark money” – funds donated to ostensible charities or public interest groups rather parties, candidates or conventional political action committees (PACs). These non-profit groups – which Washington insiders often refer to generically as 501(c)s, after the section of the federal tax code regulating them – use the money to pay for allegedly educational “independent” ads that run outside conventional campaign channels. Such funding has now developed into a gigantic channel for evading disclosure of the donors’ identities and is acutely controversial.


In 2008, however, a substantial number of contributions to such 501(c)s made it into the FEC database. For the agency quietly to remove them almost four years later with no public comment is scandalous. It flouts the agency’s legal mandate to track political money and mocks the whole spirit of what the FEC was set up to do. No less seriously, as legal challenges and public criticism of similar contributions in the 2012 election cycle rise to fever pitch, the FEC’s action wipes out one of the few sources of real evidence about how dark money works. Obviously, the unheralded purge also raises unsettling questions about what else might be going on with the database that scholars and journalists of every persuasion have always relied upon.

The distant sound of tumbrils

Pretty much what I’ve been saying, only with a lot more words:

Louis XIV, the Franklin Roosevelt of his day, took a great deal of wealth and privilege from the French aristocracy and imposed a flurry of restrictions they found burdensome. After his time, it became a central goal of the nobility to restore their position at the king’s expense. Their strategy is one with which modern Americans ought to be familiar: they insisted on a massive military buildup and an aggressive foreign policy that landed France in expensive wars, while at the same time demanding tax cuts. The goal was simply to bankrupt the French government, so that—no, not so that they could drown it in a bathtub; instead, they wanted to force the king to call the États-Général—roughly, the equivalent of a US constitutional convention—which alone could create entirely new tax structures. Once that happened, they hoped to bully the king into restoring their former privileges as the price of acquiescing in a new tax regime.

The result was a high-stakes game of chicken between the party of the aristocracy, and the party of the civil servants, bureaucrats and officials whose authority and wealth was guaranteed by the power of the king. (If you want to describe these two parties as “Republicans” and “Democrats,” I’m not going to argue.) What neither side noticed was that their struggles imposed severe burdens on the rest of the population, the peasants, laborers, and small-scale businesspeople on whose passive acquiescence the entire structure of power and prestige ultimately rested. As the struggle went on, the aristocracy did their best to delegitimize the king and the central government, while the civil service and its supporters did their best to delegitimize the aristocracy; both sides succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, and managed to strip the last traces of popular legitimacy from the French political system as a whole.

So when the aristocrats finally got their way and the États-Général were summoned, all it took was a few speeches by radicals and a bit of violence on the part of the Paris mob, and the entire structure of the ancien régime disintegrated in a matter of weeks. The aristocrats, who were chiefly to blame for the mess, were also the last to figure out what had happened. It’s tempting to imagine one of them, stepping aboard the tumbril that will take him to the guillotine, saying to another, “So, Henri, how’s that political strategy working for you?”—but there’s no evidence that any of them managed that degree of insight even when the consequences of their failure were staring them in the face.
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Killing the DISCLOSE Act

Of course you’ll want to read the entire thing. Bill Moyers:

Once upon a time conservatives supported the full disclosure of campaign contributors. Now they oppose it with their might — and magic, especially when it comes to unlimited cash from corporations. My goodness, they say, with a semantic wave of the wand, what’s the big deal?: nary a single Fortune 500 company had given a dime to the super PACs. (Even that’s not entirely true, by the way.)


Meanwhile the other hand is poking around for loopholes, stuffing millions of secret corporate dollars into non-profit, tax-exempt organizations called 501(c)s that funnel the money into advertising on behalf of candidates or causes. Legally, in part because the Federal Election Commission does not consider them political committees, they can keep it all nice and anonymous, never revealing who’s really behind the donations or the political ads they buy. This is especially handy for corporations — why risk offending customers by revealing your politics or letting them know how much you’re willing to shell out for a permanent piece of an obliging politician?


That’s why passing a piece of legislation called the DISCLOSE Act is so important and that’s why on Monday, Republicans in the Senate killed it. Again.


Why? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: “Perhaps Republicans want to shield the handful of billionaires willing to contribute nine figures to sway a close presidential election.” The election, he said, may be bought by “17 angry, old, white men.”


The DISCLOSE Act is meant to pull back the curtain and reveal who’s donating $10,000 or more not only to super PACs but also to trade groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and these so-called “social welfare” non-profits that can spend limitless cash on campaigns as long as it’s less than half the organization’s total budget.

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