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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
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Environmental Scientist

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A Nobel winner explains the big reason why the Fed should keep rates low

By Jim Tankersley August 26 at 9:52 AM
Over the past year Joseph Stiglitz has ramped up what is a rare campaign for an economist, particularly a Nobel laureate. He is pressuring policymakers, on the campaign trail and inside the Federal Reserve, to combat America's widening income inequality, which he has long called a massive economic concern.

Stiglitz and his team of researchers at the Roosevelt Institute produced a report earlier this year that Democratic candidates for president, including party frontrunner Hillary Clinton, have borrowed liberally from in their own policy plans. Today, he's releasing a new paper aimed at monetary policy makers, arguing that "the Fed has played a central role in the creation of inequality" and laying out several proposals to fix that - including delaying the interest-rate increase that most analysts had expected to come next month (at least before the recent global market turmoil broke out).

On Thursday, Stiglitz will take his message to a conference in Jackson Hole, Wy., held by a group called the "Fed Up" campaign, in the shadow of an annual monetary policy conference that draws top monetary thinkers from around the world. He previewed that message in a phone interview with Wonkblog, which has been edited for length.

interview at link


The empire strikes back: The media-political elite’s campaign to destroy Bernie and restore order


Last week the New York Times deigned to notice that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is running for president – have you heard about this? – and even by the Gray Lady’s usual standard of treating everyone to the left of the Obama-Clinton Democratic center as a two-headed, kazoo-playing talking dog, it was quite a piece of work. Times reporter Jason Horowitz’s dispatch from a recent Sanders rally in Dubuque, Iowa, barely even pretended to be a news article. It emanated tangible hostility from beginning to end – sometimes veering toward distaste, sometimes toward mockery — and was loaded with scare quotes and attack adjectives. Sanders was described as grumpy, angry, disengaged, uncharismatic, judgmental and suspicious “of all things ‘feel good,’” yet also, despite those unappealing qualities, as a cult figure surrounded by a “circle of believers.”

Sanders’ references to the “corporate media” were enclosed in ironical quotes – what a ridiculous thing to say about the New York Times! – and his refusal to engage with questions about Hillary Clinton’s perceived political liabilities was described, twice within two paragraphs, as disdainful. Toward the end of the article, Horowitz finally expends a single paragraph outlining Sanders’ proposals for single-payer health care, expanded Social Security, free college tuition and breaking up the banking cartel. Without quoting anyone or citing any sources, Horowitz then introduces “the critique that none of these proposals is remotely plausible given the political realities in Washington,” and describes the political future envisioned by the Sanders campaign as a “fantasy scenario.”

Now, there are valid reasons to be skeptical that Sanders will end up as the Democratic nominee, still less our next president. Hillary Clinton’s strategists seem well prepared for the likelihood that Iowa and New Hampshire will be close, and that Sanders could conceivably win one or both states. Clinton remains far ahead in national polls of likely Democratic voters, and is well positioned in many Southern and heartland states where Sanders is unlikely to compete effectively. She has huge amounts of conventional campaign funding plus super PAC zillions up her sleeve, and controls much of the local and state Democratic Party apparatus through her nationwide army of robot ninja assassins. (I exaggerate for effect: They aren’t technically robots.)

But that sneering Sanders character assassination in the Times, which sought not just to demean the candidate but his supporters and the entire American progressive tradition he represents, went far beyond that kind of conventional horse-race analysis. It felt less like an effort to report the news than an effort to shape the news. I’m not saying that Horowitz was sent to Dubuque with specific instructions to rip Sanders apart with his glittering aperçus — in the print edition, the article’s pull quote read “A call for an uprising comes with little belief that it will occur” (oh, SNAP) – because that wasn’t necessary. Those instructions were undetectably but unmistakably present in the oxygen of the Times newsroom.


Wednesday Toon Roundup 4- The Rest

Climate Change








Wednesday Toon Roundup 3- Stock Fright

Wednesday Toon Roundup 2-Crazy Uncle Joe

Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- Jerk Party

Walter Munk, the ‘Einstein of the Oceans’

LA JOLLA, Calif. — In 1942, with World War II in full swing, a young military scientist learned of the Allies’ plans to invade northwestern Africa by sea to dislodge the nearby Axis forces.

The scientist, Walter Munk, who was in his mid-20s, hastily did some research and found that waves in the region were often too high for the boats carrying troops to reach the beaches safely. Disaster could loom. He mentioned it to his commanding officer, but was brushed off.

“ ‘They must have thought about that,’ ” Dr. Munk, now 97, recalled being told. But the young scientist persisted, calling in his mentor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography near San Diego to help.

They devised a way to calculate the waves the boats could expect to face. Their work helped the boats land in a window of relative calm, and the science of wave prediction took off, becoming part of the planning for the D-Day landings in 1944.

Such feats explain why Dr. Munk is sometimes called the “Einstein of the oceans.” Longtime colleagues describe him as a courtly man of boundless curiosity, with an uncanny ability to search out important problems at just the right time. In addition to wartime wave forecasting, Dr. Munk has done pioneering research in ocean sound transmission, deep-sea tides and even climate change, though some of his work in the field has been controversial.


About that ‘socialist’ label for Bernie Sanders


Growing up in Minnesota, I was exposed to a lot of liberal firebrand politicians, the premier example being former Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

Humphrey is not quite forgotten. He nearly became president in 1968 and was hugely influential in the 1950s and 1960s. He was one of the architects of a number of programs we take for granted today, ranging from food stamps to Medicare.

With the surprising surge of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I have noticed one oft-cited fact about him that all the wise guys agree will torpedo any hopes he has of being elected president:

He’s a socialist.

You see, the word “socialist” doesn’t poll well. Granted, Sanders says he’s a democratic socialist, but still, it’s a label that only he wants to wear. Oddly, however, there is another inconvenient fact:

The United States is kind of a socialist nation.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorial-cartoons/jack-ohman/article31689128.html

Charles Koch blasts Barack Obama

Charles Koch hit back at criticism of “the Koch brothers” during President Barack Obama’s energy speech in Las Vegas earlier this week, saying he was “flabbergasted” by the attack and charging that Obama made the dig as a favor to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who appeared with him.

“It’s beneath the president, the dignity of the president, to be doing that,” Koch said during a phone interview Tuesday.

Koch’s blistering comments came as he and his brother David, whose conservative political network plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the 2016 election, have spoken out more frequently in an attempt to blunt Democratic attacks on their political influence and insinuations about their motives.

Reid has been particularly relentless, calling the Kochs “shadowy billionaires” who seek to “rig the system to benefit themselves and the wealthiest 1 percent,” among many other charges. At the National Clean Energy Summit at the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center on Monday, Obama joined the fray.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/08/charles-koch-blasts-obama-121746.html

Whales Are Mysteriously Dying in the Pacific Northwest

But of course, this has nothing to do with climate change.

While we're all busy talking about anchor-babies, and watching the stock market behave like a feather in a wind tunnel, whales are dying in the northeast corner of the Pacific Ocean and nobody knows why in the hell this is happening. Although there are some guesses that aren't going to make the folks at the Heartland Institute very happy.

(And the caption on the picture is correct. It is helpful for scientific purposes to get to the body of the dead whale before the bears arrive. We see, "mysterious environmental catastrophe." The bears see, "Old Country Buffet.")​

Since May 2015, 11 fin whales, 14 humpback whales, one gray whale, and four unidentified cetaceans have stranded around the islands of the western Gulf of Alaska and the southern shoreline of the Alaska Peninsula. To date, this brings the large whale strandings for this region to almost three times the historical average. The declaration of an unusual mortality event will allow NOAA and federal, state, and tribal partners to develop a response plan and conduct a rigorous scientific investigation into the cause of death for the stranded whales.

​Speculation as to the cause is all over the lot, but a lot of attention is being paid to the massive algae bloom that has erupted off the west coast of North America. The size of the algae bloom is unprecedented, and the potential dangers from it spread as it does.

While not all algae species in the bloom are dangerous, some of them produce a toxic chemical called domoic acid that can kill or make animals sick — and can even impact human health. Domoic acid is a neurotoxin produced by the algae Pseudo-nitzchia. When an animal, say a clam, eats this algae, it also injects the domoic acid, which can build up inside it. Any bigger animal that comes along and eats it — including humans — can get sick too if they take in enough of the toxin. This year's bloom is so bad that we are seeing lots of animal deaths. At least nine fin whales were found dead in the waters off Alaska in June, according to Alaska Dispatch News, and in July reports of dead or dying whales, seals, birds, and fish have been rolling in according to NOAA. It's difficult to pin these deaths on the algae specifically, but signs are pointing to these toxins as the cause.

And things always get worse before they collapse completely.​

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