Ah, who needs plankton?

I’m sure if we just keep talking about President Obama’s birth certificate, this will all go away:

BOOTHBAY, Maine — Phytoplankton. If the mention of the tiny plant organisms that permeate the world’s oceans isn’t enough to pique your interest, consider this: They produce the oxygen in every other breath you take.

Still not interested? This is where it’s hard not to take notice. In 2007, the reproduction rate of phytoplankton in the Gulf of Maine decreased suddenly by a factor of five — what used to take a day now takes five — and according to a recently released study by the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay, it hasn’t bounced back.

So what does it mean? According to Barney Balch, the lab’s senior research scientist and lead author of the study, such a change in organisms at the bottom of the planetary food chain and at the top of planetary oxygen production could have disastrous consequences for virtually every species on Earth, from lobsters and fish that fuel Maine’s marine industries to your grandchildren. But the 12-year Bigelow study focused only on the Gulf of Maine, which leads to the question, will it spread?

“I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to know that if you shut down the base of the marine food web, the results won’t be positive,” said Balch.

Balch said the study, which was published recently in the Marine Ecology Progress Series, provides one of the strongest links to date between increases in rainfall and temperature over the years and the Gulf of Maine’s ecosystem. Key factors in the study’s conclusions were driven by 100 years of records on rainfall and river discharge, both of which have increased by between 13 and 20 percent over the past century.

New Texas chairman

It’s great to hear that the Texas Dems have elected their first Hispanic chairman. This should be a help in that long, slow climb back up to Democratic dominance in Texas. God knows, it’s a place full of struggling people who should be voting Democratic but instead think of themselves as potential oil barons:

HOUSTON — Texas Democrats, trying to compete in a state that overwhelmingly favors Republican candidates for executive, legislative and judicial offices, elected their first Hispanic chairman Saturday.


In a reflection of the state’s burgeoning Hispanic growth and the party’s longtime success with Latinos, delegates overwhelmingly elected Gilberto Hinojosa as the next party chairman. He will replace outgoing chairman Boyd Richie, who announced in April 2011 that he would not seek another term after six years on the job.


Hinojosa successfully breathed some life into the sparse crowd on the convention floor with a fiery speech before the delegates cast an overwhelming majority of votes in his favor.


In a hoarse but booming voice, Hinojosa, who has served as a Brownsville school trustee, state district judge, justice on the state’s 13th Court of Appeals, and Cameron County Judge, lambasted Republicans for proclaiming Democrats as un-American for their efforts to expand health care, uphold voting rights in Texas and fund public education.


“This is a war, folks. This is a war that the Republicans have waged on our families in Texas and all across America,” he shouted from the stage. “We are a compassionate people. We don’t believe in pulling up the ladder after we reach the top.”


Then touting his Latino roots, the judge offered a the crowd a rallying cry in Spanish.


“Yo no quiero que me den nada, nada más pónganme en donde hay: (Don’t give me anything. Just give me the opportunity to get it.),” he said. “That is what America is all about. That is what our Democratic Party is all about. Those are our values and, dammit, don’t question my patriotism.”

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