Tonight at 8:30 PM, wherever you are: Earth Hour

via: sagansense:

Earth Hour 2012.

You’ve seen all the videos and images we’ve been featuring lately that astronauts on the International Space Station have taken of Earth from orbit. The one ubiquitous feature is the amount of lights showing up from cities and towns around the world.

But will you be turning off the lights this weekend for Earth Hour 2012?

Earth Hour is a world-wide effort to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change. This year, Earth Hour is on Saturday, March 31 and starts at 20:30 (8:30pm) wherever you are. People all over the world — and off the planet — will be turning off non-essential lights for an hour. Even the astronauts on the Space Station will be doing their part, as well as watching from above to see if they can there is a noticeable change in the amount of lights from Earth. Astronaut and nature ambassador André Kuipers will be taking photos and videos of Earth Hour from space.

What began as a single-city initiative in Sydney, Australia – in 2007, Earth Hour has grown into a global symbol of hope and movement for change. Earth Hour 2011 was the world’s largest ever voluntary action with people, businesses and governments in 135 countries across every continent joining in the symbolic environmental event.

Organizers say as many as 1.8 billion people will participate this year. Will you be one of them?

Find out more about Earth Hour.

The primitive, Bible-thumping, climate-deniers may be the GOP’s useful idiots, but the world will move on despite them

David Brin shares some interesting and somewhat reassuring information about everyone in the world who is not an American Republican (tea)Party climate-change denier:

I regularly consult with various branches of our “protector caste”… from the military services and homeland security to several unnamed “agencies.” Naturally, I am encouraged by the fact that some of the most serious-minded men and women on the planet are very interested in well-grounded projections of diverse possible futures – not only mine, but those of several other “science & sci-fi guys.”

[...] Absolutely all of the top-elite officers of these services appear to be convinced, without a shadow of a doubt, about Human Generated Climate Change (HGCC). All of those I have met consider it to be both real and one of the greatest challenges of our time.

Ponder this:the US Navy is striving with great intensity to prepare for an Arctic Ocean that is nearly ice-free for large parts of the year. Canada is shifting most of its military budget northward.

The Russians have moved an entire division to the Siberian northern coast.  And dig this.  The Russian Navy’s top priority? Their pride-and-joy?  SIX brand new, double-hulled, nuclear powered icebreakers they recently put in service. (The U.S. has one large, single-hulled, obsolete oil-powered breaker, soon to be retired. The U.S. Coast Guard operates three smaller, conventional ice breakers out of Seattle.)

A year or so ago, the Northwest passage opened so wide that a flood of cargo vessels raced through it from China to Europe. And prospectors are sifting for treasures on the sea floor, where Peary once spent a summer dragging sledges over ice-continents in search of the Pole.

What do all of these groups share in common? They cannot afford to let their view of reality be warped by willful delusion, just-so stories, Beckian rants and dogma, They don’t have the time for denialism.

[...] Perhaps no industry better understands the impact of global warming than the insurance industry whose job it is to analyze risk. See the video of the March 1st press conference. Marsh & McLennan, one of the world’s largest insurance brokers, called climate change “one of the most significant emerging risks facing the world today.” As Jules Boykoff put it in The Guardian, “Let’s be clear: insurance firms aren’t altruists; they’re capitalists. A rise in extreme weather means a fall in their profits. This is hardball economics based on risk analysis, not save-the-polar-bears stuff.”

[...] So, if all the men and women who must combine brains, education and professionalism with harsh practicality can see the desperate need to prepare, how do 40% of the citizens of a great nation enter denial so severe they’ll demean and ignore not only scientists and the insurance industry… but even the U.S. Navy? [...] there is a word for people who refuse to take reasonable precautions, or even negotiate in good faith the cheapest and most efficient just-in-case precautions, demanding instead (at the behest of a couple of coal-billionaire brothers)  that climate theory be absolutely proved in all levels, in all ways, before we take prudent, moderate measures to protect ourselves.

That word is imbeciles.


Saturday morning’s 4 relatively interesting things


Santorum denies calling Obama the n-word — Speaking to a group of voters in Janesville, Wisconsin on Wednesday, the candidate seemed to catch himself before using a word that sounds like “n*gger” to describe the president. (The original video of the speech is available here. The remarks in question take place at about 34:50.) “We know the candidate Barack Obama, what he was like – the anti-war government nig… America was a source for division around the world, that what we were doing was wrong,” Santorum said. “Oh, come on!” Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley told Raw Story when asked for comment. “Give me a break. That’s unbelievable. What does it say about those that are running with this story that that’s where their mind goes. You know, I’m not going to dignify that with [a response].” “That is absolutely ridiculous.”


imageArizona law would criminalize being lewd or annoying on the Internet — As summarized by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, “The bill is sweepingly broad, and would make it a crime to communicate via electronic means speech that is intended to ‘annoy,’ ‘offend,’ ‘harass’ or ‘terrify,’ as well as certain sexual speech. Because the bill is not limited to one-to-one communications, H.B. 2549 would apply to the Internet as a whole, thus criminalizing all manner of writing, cartoons, and other protected material the state finds offensive or annoying.” The bill is currently awaiting Governor Jan Brewer’s signature, and the Media Coalition, which defends first amendment rights in the media, has sent her a letter outlining some of the problems with the legislation.

Arizona again. NATURALLY.  And the Arizona GOP is now taking panty-snifffing to an entirely new level, demanding that “the gestational age of the fetus should be ‘calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman.’” So in order to get an abortion, you now have to provide a bunch of old perverts a calendar with your menstrual cycle highlighted. These people are sick and evil. We’re seriously one or two bills away before women will be required to go to the well of the Arizona Senate and tell these old white perverts their favorite sexual position and how old they were when they lost their virginity.


Reality Check: Effective U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Much Lower Than Most Other Developed Nations — “The United States is a world leader in countless ways. ‘World’s Highest Taxes’ is a title we should give up as soon as possible,” wrote Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) in a Fox News op-ed.  “This isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke; as of April 1, the United States of America will have reached the inauspicious position of having the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in a statement “I want America to be number one in many things, but having the highest corporate tax rate is definitely not one of them.” This is constant refrain from Republicans, who then blame the supposedly high U.S. corporate tax rate for discouraging job creation. But as we’ve noted time and time again, while the U.S. has a high statutory corporate tax rate (meaning the rate on paper), U.S. corporations actually pay incredibly low taxes due to the ever-proliferating loopholes, credits, and deductions in the tax code and the use of overseas tax havens.


Joe Scarborough Discovers ‘Disgusting’ Daily Caller Racism (VIDEO) — We wonder who Joe Scarborough is talking about here, when he calls out rightwing websites for being “beneath contempt” in their treatment of Trayvon Martin! (No we don’t. He is talking about Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller.) Noting that the Daily Caller had breathlessly presented Trayvon Martin’s Twitter feed as fodder for the poor oppressed whites of the world to note what a bad bad boy Trayvon Martin was, Scarborough practically throws up at the disingenuousness of presenting something so “innocuous … I can show you a lot of white kids, from suburban neighborhoods … come on.” Here, Tucker, here is just a tiny bit of what Joe Scarborough thinks of you now. “Some out there are marginalizing themselves, making fools of themselves. I guess it’s because the President actually said something to comfort the parents, and I guess they just can’t handle that. I guess in their warped, twisted, distorted, political worldview, that makes this dead 17-year-old boy [...] I guess that makes it okay?”

GM pulls funding from climate-denying Heartland Institute — In a statement, GM said that it now runs its business “as if climate change is real and believe we have a role to play in developing new cars, trucks and technologies that can make a difference”. The funding cut – just $15,000 a year – is small beer for the institute, which has a multi-million dollar turnover, largely from a single anonymous donor. But it is a blow to the standing of the thinktank and to the leading role it plays as an advocate of climate change scepticism. The thinktank has long been an incubator of ideas casting doubt that the world is warming as a result of man-made pollution. In 2009 it held a conference in New York under the title “Global warming: was it ever really a crisis?” Kert Davies, head of research for Greenpeace US that tracks the Heartland Institute, lauded the GM move. “It is a further indication that the Heartland Institute’s misinformation about climate change is not something that corporations want to have anything to do with. It has become toxic.”

Obama urges Congress to pass ‘Buffett Rule’ for rich — Named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett — who pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — Obama said a minimum tax rate for the wealthy would insure that more Americans pay their “fair share” for the nation’s needs. “We don’t envy success in this country, we aspire to it. But we also believe that anyone who does well for themselves should do their fair share in return, so that more people have the opportunity to get ahead — not just a few.” Obama said every member of Congress should “go on record” when it comes to the Buffett rule. “And if they vote to keep giving tax breaks to people like me — tax breaks our country can’t afford — then they’re going to have to explain to you where that money comes from. Either it’s going to add to our deficit, or it’s going to come out of your pocket.”

Caturday morning late start


I slept in, hopefully negating my insomnia-related too-early-rising throughout the week. Also woke myself from a dream where I was going to be a bride, of all things, and had a week to prepare the flowers, the white dress, and myself. Who knows who the groom was — or if there actually was a groom. I generally don’t dream (i.e. I remember absolutely nothing, nada), so remembering a dream or part of a dream is a BFD. And after giving it some thought, the bride dream only adds to my general anxiety about my upcoming surgery this summer (my second). Was this dream somehow foreshadowing my death (or, more likely, my fear of death) on the operating table? That’s what I’ve decided. So should I get my affairs in order? I guess so.

It’s Friday – let’s have lunch and go shopping

allthingseuropeKrakow, Poland (by vaskos66)

Boutique en Provence, France (by Ken Quantick)

Santorum meant to say… (yeah, no)

If Santorum meant to say “negotiator” or another harmless word, he’d have clarified it right away and said the word he meant. The look on his face was PURE TERROR and shitshitshitshit because he either started saying the n-word or (the similarly as ass-backwards) “negro.” — via: ladyatheist


Let’s watch:

“I may not say the n-word all the time, but I do say it a lot of the time.”

The primitive paranoids against healthcare reform

“…but the other half of the country would rather die — literally — than have any kind of government involvement in health care. I certainly hope that people aren’t bullshitting themselves on this point. I would say that it’s far more likely that the Democrats will be hard pressed to even defend Medicare from getting the ax at this point. This country is in the grip of some people who have been so brainwashed that they have lost their relationship to reality itself. Even nations run by right wing dictators aren’t this self-destructive. We are the most powerful nation on earth — and we’re basically at the mercy of a group of primitive paranoids…” — Digby, commenting on why anyone would think that a Supreme Court ruling against Obamacare will translate into a rush for single-payer

Source: sandandglass

Woman unhappy with care at St. Mary’s hospital is arrested for trespassing, dies in jail

Anna Brown wasn’t leaving the emergency room quietly.

She yelled from a wheelchair at St. Mary’s Health Center security personnel and Richmond Heights police officers that her legs hurt so badly she couldn’t stand.

She had already been to two other hospitals that week in September, complaining of leg pain after spraining her ankle.

This time, she refused to leave.

A police officer arrested Brown for trespassing. He wheeled her out in handcuffs after a doctor said she was healthy enough to be locked up.

Brown was 29. A mother who had lost custody of two children. Homeless. On Medicaid. And, an autopsy later revealed, dying from blood clots that started in her legs, then lodged in her lungs.

She told officers she couldn’t get out of the police car, so they dragged her by her arms into the station. They left her lying on the concrete floor of a jail cell, moaning and struggling to breathe. Just 15 minutes later, a jail worker found her cold to the touch.

Officers suspected Brown was using drugs. Autopsy results showed she had no drugs in her system.

Things that would never happen to the one percent:

TGIF morning’s 4 sort of interesting things


Here’s a slip you’d NEVER make unless you’re thinking the word, or unless you use the word a lot in private conversations…



Because why should the wealthy have to pay the same rates as the rest of us? Romney Campaign Gripes About The ‘Tax Problem’ Created By Romney’s $100 Million IRA — Wall Street Journal the “tax problem” created by Romney’s massive $100 million retirement account: In any case, swelling the IRA to the size Mr. Romney’s reached has “created a tax problem” for the former Massachusetts governor, said a Romney campaign official. Tax-law changes since Mr. Romney’s Bain tenure mean that long-term capital gains in regular accounts now are taxed at 15%. But IRA gains are taxed at ordinary-income rates upon withdrawal, which for Mr. Romney, under current law, would be 35%. “Who wants to have $100 million in an IRA?” said the campaign official. || NOTE: Romney’s own tax plan would alleviate his “problem” by implementing a 20 percent reduction in the top income tax rate. Even before he rolled out the second version of his tax plan, which took his absurd tax cuts for the rich even further, Romney’s tax plan would have cut his own taxes nearly in half.

Exclusive: Paul Ryan Will Endorse Romney — Ryan is appearing on the show of top Wisconsin talk radio host, Charlie Sykes, Friday morning, and Republicans speculated after BuzzFeed reported the endorsement Thursday night that the formal announcement could come Friday morning. The move is also timed to end the Republican contest, coming after another major conservative leader, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, backed Romney. It badly undercuts Santorum’s case that he can rally a conservative opposition to the moderate frontrunner, and is likely to further squeeze the money and political support Santorum has sought to command. The apparent cost of Ryan’s endorsement was Romney’s backing earlier this month for Ryan’s 2013 budget plan, which would cut the top marginal tax rate while reducing spending on Medicare and Medicaid, and shifting the federal health program for the elderly to a private voucher system.

Romney endorsements – FEEL the excitement! — Florida Senator Marco Rubio endorsed Mitt Romney for president yesterday, but you wouldn’t know it if you were listening to him today wherein he said this: “There are a lot of other people out there that some of us wish had run for president — but they didn’t… I think Mitt Romney would be a fine president, and he’d be way better than the guy who’s there right now.” That’s quite a non-endorsement endorsement. “I wish someone else would have run, but they didn’t, so I guess I’m stuck endorsing this guy.” || NOTE: in case anyone dreams that Marco Rubio is proof that the GOP loves, loves, loves (!) Hispanics / Latinos, and Rubio’ll bring those voters into the ‘big’ tent, never forget what the rightwing base-nuts actually THINK about Hispanics / Latinos: If You’re Hispanic, You’re Definitely Not ‘White’


GOP Thwarts Repeal Of Big Oil Subsidies — Even though the major oil companies are turning in world record quarterly profits, today the GOP members of the Senate thwarted a bill to repeal their massive multi-billion dollar tax subsidies. Senate Republicans, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, today foiled President Obama’s plan to strip $24 billion in tax subsidies from the country’s largest oil companies, potentially fueling an election-year issue among voters disgruntled by escalating gas prices. The 51-47 vote was mostly along party lines. Most Democrats, including Senator John Kerry, voted in favor of eliminating the subsidies but fell far short of the 60 votes needed to withstand a filibuster. […] It’s a win-win for the GOP. They get to pocket millions in Super PAC campaign dough via Big Oil donations AND they get to scream about the high price of gasoline. UPDATE: Think Progress points out: “The 47 senators voting against the bill have received $23,582,500 in career contributions from oil and gas.”

“Republicans could have easily taken the stand of defending the Stand Your Ground laws. They could have said they welcomed an investigation and believed that the investigation would show the truth. But they didn’t do that. Instead, the went after the victim and portrayed him as someone who probably had it coming. This is all we need to know about Republicans and how they approach matters of race. When given an opportunity, they didn’t hesitate for a second to smear a dead kid.” A comment on the article How The Right Deals With A Problem Like Trayvon Martin [image: liberalsarecool]

Missouri Republicans Embrace Birtherism, Pass Bill Requiring Proof Of Citizenship — HB 1046 was introduced by state Rep. Lyle Rowland (R). He explained why he felt the bill was necessary to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Rowland, a Republican from Cedarcreek, said he sponsored the bill because he doesn’t think there is enough vetting in the current process, which primarily relies on political parties to verify whether candidates meet all requirements. “This would just provide us with the verifying evidence,” Rowland said. Rowland and other Republicans deny that the bill is in response to charges that President Obama is not a citizen, but state Democrats are unconvinced, calling the timing questionable. “There is a large amount of people out there who don’t think our president if a U.S. citizen,” said Rep. Jacob Hummel (D).


Ezra Klein: Forecast: Republicans to take Senate in 2012 — Alan Abramowitz projects Republicans will keep the House and win back the Senate in 2012. More on his model here. If Obama is reelected, I’m not sure how much this matters: As Republicans are likely to control the House either way, anything that passes will require their agreement whether or not they also control the Senate. The real takeaway is that if Mitt Romney wins, he’s very likely to have a Republican House and a Republican Senate. And you can make major changes to the tax code, not to mention Medicare and Medicaid, through the 51-vote budget reconciliation process. || NOTE: IMAGINE THIS DEBACLE PASSING AS LAW:

  • House Republicans Pass Paul Ryan’s Radical Budget – The House of Representatives today passed the radical Republican 2013 budget, authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), by a vote of 228-191. The budget would gut the social safety net, but give so much in tax cuts to the rich and corporations that it would still increase the national debt. 10 Republicans joined all the Democrats in voting no.

Friday’s great f**king question

GOP’s Budget illustrated

Evidence the U.S. labor market is strengthening

U.S. Jobless Claims Fell Last Week to Lowest Since April 2008 – Bloomberg

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in almost four years, adding to evidence the U.S. labor market is strengthening.

Initial jobless claims fell 5,000 in the week ended March 24 to 359,000, the lowest since April 2008, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg News survey called for 350,000 claims. With the report, the government data also contain revisions dating back to 2007.

What health insurance companies really want

An insurance industry whistleblower says the industry’s real goal is not to repeal the law, but to defeat Democrats in November:

“They don’t want the bill – quite honestly – to be overturned or repealed. They want the bill to go forward with the individual mandate intact. But what they want to do is to get people to vote out the Democrats who voted for the bill so that they’ll have more friends in Congress to strip out the consumer protections.”

Workers Independent News

10 Billion Earth-Like Planets May Exist in Our Galaxy

10 Billion Earth-Like Planets May Exist in Our Galaxy

About 40 percent of red dwarf stars may have Earth-sized planets orbiting them that have the right conditions for life.

Red dwarfs – which are smaller and cooler than our sun – are extremely common, making up 80 percent of stars in the galaxy. Their ubiquity suggests that there are tens of billions of possible places to look for life beyond Earth, with at least 100 such planets located nearby.

The new estimate comes from a team of astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s HARPS planet-hunting telescope to look at a sample of 102 nearby red dwarfs over a six-year period. The telescope checked for a characteristic wobble from the star, indicating that at least one planet was tugging on it while orbiting around.

The search found nine planets with between one and 10 Earth masses, including two in the habitable zone, possibly giving them the right temperature to have liquid water. Because red dwarfs don’t produce as much heat as our sun, their habitable zones occur much closer to the star.