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Member since: 2002
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"the blob,... was the most unusual meteorological event we've had in decades"

A vast patch of abnormally warm water in the Pacific Ocean - nicknamed the blob - resulted in increased levels of ozone above the Western US, researchers have found. The blob - which at its peak covered roughly 9 million square kilometres (3.5 million square miles) from Mexico to Alaska - was assumed to be mainly messing with conditions in the ocean, but a new study has shown that it had a lasting affect on air quality too.

"Ultimately, it all links back to the blob, which was the most unusual meteorological event we've had in decades," says one of the team, Dan Jaffe from the University of Washington Bothell.

The vast, warm patch has been linked to several mass die-offs in the ocean during 2015, including thousands of California sea lions starving to death in waters more than 3 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Farenheit) above average, and an "unprecedented" mass death of seabirds in the Western US.

In April 2015, the effects could also be seen on land, with a bout of strange weather in the US being linked to the higher ocean temperatures, and the increased temperatures saw a massive toxic algal bloom stretch along the entire US West Coast.


Jaffe and his team have been monitoring ozone levels over the US since 2004, and happened to noticed a bizarre spike in 2015. They wondered if the crazy events linked to the blob that year could also have been driving this massive boost in ozone.


Democrats cant cherry-pick their way to a 24-seat gain

There's some heavy lifting to be done

Both parties haven’t wasted any time unveiling their House target lists for next year’s midterm elections, and a few states have emerged as early battlegrounds.

At the end of January, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released an ambitious list of 59 Republican-held districts, followed by the National Republican Congressional Committee’s ambitious list of 36 Democratic-held districts just more than a week later.

More than one-third of the targeted House races sit in five states: California, Florida, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania.
After Democrats expanded their majority in the 2008 elections, they held a 90-51 majority in districts in those five states. After the 2016 elections, the Democratic advantage in those states has slipped from 39 seats to 17 seats (78 Democrats to 61 Republicans).

Democrats can’t cherry-pick their way to a 24-seat gain to retake the majority in 2016. Since the electoral landscape has shifted, a new Democratic majority doesn’t need to look exactly the same, geographically. But the party still needs pick up handfuls in at least a few states.

- See more at: http://www.rollcall.com/news/gonzales/fight-for-the-house-centers-on-five-states#sthash.XSKAk5Fu.dpuf

You can't win elections without contesting

Josh Marshall thinks all elections matter.

There's a side conversation occurring among Democrats today about whether protests are fueling momentum and organizing for a Democratic electoral comeback or diverting energy from it. For me, it's all of the above. I do not believe they're in opposition to each other at all. But for everyone who is worried, determined, angry or anything else to save the country from Trumpism, please focus on this. If all Donald Trump's nominees are confirmed by the Senate, which is quite likely, we will have in the next few months at least four House special elections for seats now held by Republicans. These contests are each critical for stemming the tide of Trumpism.

There are two elections I want to focus on today.

First is the Montana at-large district currently held Rep. Ryan Zinke, who Trump has nominated to be Secretary of the Interior. Montana is a red state. So winning this seat would be a challenge. But it's not impossible by any means. We'll have to wait on Zinke's confirmation to have a date called for an election.

Second is Georgia's 6th congressional district, represented until days ago by Rep. Tom Price (R), before he was confirmed as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Governor has called a special election for April 18th. This is the district I really want to talk about.


In 64 days the fight to recapture the House begins in Georgia

On Friday, Tom Price was sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Price will no doubt be a persistent threat to the Affordable Care Act, but in joining Donald Trump’s cabinet, he vacates his House seat from Georgia’s 6th district. Georgia will hold a special election to fill Price’s seat, and that’s where you come in.

It’s absolutely possible for a Progressive to win this seat, and right now, we’ve got the momentum on our side. Georgia’s 6th district, which encompasses a suburban area outside Atlanta, was won by Donald Trump by a mere 1.5 points this November. That’s a tiny margin. It’s a far cry from a safe Republican district, so let’s get to work right now.
Georgia will hold a primary election on Tuesday, April 18. That’s in 64 days. But there’s more you need to know: All candidates from all parties will be on the same primary ballot — only the top two will move on to the next round. That means that the special election could be between two Republicans, unless we turn out to support a progressive candidate.
There are a handful of candidates from both parties, and I encourage you to read about them. Personally, I believe our best hope lies in Jon Ossoff. Ossoff is a Democrat, an investigative filmmaker, and former staffer for Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Hank Johnson.

Congressman Lewis has endorsed Ossoff, saying: “We should unite behind Jon and send a clear message that Donald Trump does not represent our values.”


If you live in Georgia go knock on doors, talk to your friends.
If you live in the district, make sure you vote!
Folks in the US can donate.
And if you’re a progressive anywhere else in the world, post on Twitter and Facebook.

Midterms have extremely low turnout numbers, and special elections in off-years are even worse. I hate to say that it’s all about momentum and ground game, but races like this are. And have you been watching the news lately? We’ve currently got the momentum. If you’re serious about creating a progressive Congress by 2018, then we have to start now. Every seat counts, and this one is actually within our grasp.


C-Span is polling whether Jeff Sessions should be confirmed

No link. It was a twitter feed. on edit: 58% opposed when I voted.

Coal is the key to the worldwide structure of energy

Interesting factoid: the Titanic burned 825 tons of coal per day while under way.

Coal is the key to the worldwide structure of energy. It accounts for about 40% of the world’s electricity production, hence it is a leading source of electricity. It will soon replace oil and become the largest source of primary energy. Coal dominates the global energy arena due to its abundance, affordability and wide distribution across the world. Coal reserves are estimated at 869 billion tons based on the current production rate. This means that coal should last about 115 years longer compared to the conventional reserves of oil and gas. Especially noteworthy are the significant coal reserves in Asia and southern Africa, two areas of the world that face major challenges in supplying energy to their populations. Coal reserves are highly underestimated in comparison with conventional reserves of oil and gas.

The ten leading countries based on hard coal production
China is the chief coal producer while the United States comes in second. Other major coal producers are India and Australia. Five countries, namely China, the United States, Russia, India and Japan accounted for over 75% of worldwide coal consumption. Despite the swift deployment of renewable energy, mainly in the background of debates around climate change, it is coal that is responsible for the largest upsurge in energy requirement of all energy sources.
Approximately 90% of the total global coal is produced by ten countries with China running in the lead. The statistics below show countries that have substantial coal resources.


Coal is proving critical in the world's energy growth. The need for coal is ever increasing, and ever larger percentages of electricity produced in the world is becoming reliant on power plants that use the resource. Regardless of the enormous distribution of coal reserves worldwide, these amounts are proving to not be enough. Furthermore, the ecological harms that come as a result of activities related to coal activities are grave matters and, thus, proper actions have to be taken. Consequently, it is essential for governments to discover innovative technologies for improved mining and coal processing, while also taking into account efficiency and the importance of environmental sustainability. It is paramount for policy makers come up with long-lasting technological solutions that look into future, hence putting the coal sector on a path that would allow it to respond better to future global challenges.

The Top 20 Coal Producers In The World
Rank Country Coal production (million tonnes)
1 China 3,874.0
2 United States 906.9
3 Australia 644.0
4 India 537.6
5 Indonesia 458.0
6 Russia 357.6
7 South Africa 260.5
8 Germany 185.8
9 Poland 137.1
10 Kazakhstan 108.7
11 Colombia 88.6
12 Turkey 70.6
13 Canada 68.8
14 Ukraine 60.9
15 Greece 49.3
16 Czech Republic 46.9
17 Serbia 44.4
18 Vietnam 41.2
19 Mongolia 33.2
20 Bulgaria 31.3


Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016

This report is an indicator-based assessment of past and projected climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and society. It also looks at society’s vulnerability to these impacts and at the development of adaptation policies and the underlying knowledge base. This is the fourth ‘Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe’ report, which is published every four years. This edition aims to support the implementation and review process of the 2013 EU Adaptation Strategy, which is foreseen for 2018, and the development of national and transnational adaptation strategies and plans

There are visuals at the link

Introducing the new, premium replacement plan for the Democrat's Obamacare: Republicans Don-T care!

We've ended the Democrat's Obamacare program, and we're replacing it with the Republican's Don-T care program!
How will I afford surgery?
Republicans Don-T care!
What about those in poverty, what will they get?
Republicans Don-T care!
Will I be covered if I have pre-existing conditions?
Republicans Don-T care!
I'm still in school, where will I get my health care?
Republicans Don-T care!
My VA benefits are delayed, what will I use until they kick in?
Republicans Don-T care!
The next time you find yourself sick and uninsured remember: Republicans Don-T care!

Credit Reddit; the hive mind of the internet

I have several novels on hand

but I started reading Shakespeare's history plays and that has sort of blocked everything else for right now. I also just bought the Folger Library editions of the Comedies and the Tragedies, so what with critical essays and annotations this could keep me occupied for a while. It's amazing what $10 will buy from Amazon's used booksellers.

how easily hubris, delusion, and old-fashioned ineptness can trump even bottomless wealth.

For the past eight decades Saudi Arabia has been careful. Using its vast oil wealth, it’s quietly spread its ultra-conservative brand of Islam throughout the Muslim world, secretly undermined secular regimes in its region, and prudently kept to the shadows while others did the fighting and dying. It was Saudi money that fueled the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, underwrote Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iran, and bankrolled Islamic movements and terrorist groups from the Caucasus to the Hindu Kush. It wasn’t a modest foreign policy, but it was a discreet one.

Today that circumspect diplomacy is in ruins, and the House of Saud looks more vulnerable than it has since the country was founded in 1926. Unraveling the reasons for the current train wreck is a study in how easily hubris, delusion, and old-fashioned ineptness can trump even bottomless wealth.

The kingdom’s first stumble was a strategic decision last fall to undermine competitors by scaling up its oil production and thus lowering the global price.

They figured that if the price of a barrel of oil dropped from over $100 to around $80, it would strangle competitors that relied on more expensive sources and new technologies, including the U.S. fracking industry, companies exploring the Arctic, and emergent producers like Brazil. That, in turn, would allow Riyadh to reclaim its shrinking share of the energy market. There was also the added benefit that lower oil prices would damage oil-reliant countries that the Saudis didn’t like — including Russia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Iran.

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