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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 44,346

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Environmental Scientist

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Alabama listed for sale on ebay

The bidding for the State of Alabama - all 52,000 square miles, from mountains in the north to the loamy soil of the Black Belt, to the speed traps of Lower Alabama and the sugary sand beaches of the Gulf Coast - was not intense, at least in terms of money.

Though there were at least 25 bids, by all accounts (we have only one, actually) bidding for the Yellowhammer State only got up to $202.50 when it was listed for sale on eBay last night.

Perhaps the bidding never took off because the state is used, nearly 200 years old. And it went through that war in the 19th century that some people are determined to keep fighting today.

The material the state is made of is listed as wicker.

"We loved this state for many years, but now that Alabama is subverting federal law by allowing officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, it's time to let her go," the seller, Welsh91, wrote in the description. "Frankly, 49 states is enough."

"Alabama became a state on December 14th, 1819. They have made no recognizable progress since," the listing says.



Tuesday Toon Roundup 3: The Rest


Secret Service









The Issue


Tuesday Toon Roundup 2: 2016 madness

Tuesday Toon Roundup 1: War Elephants

The melting of Antarctica was already really bad. It just got worse.

By Chris Mooney
March 16

A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.

Meanwhile, 2015 could be the year of the double whammy — when we learned the same about one gigantic glacier of East Antarctica, which could set in motion roughly the same amount all over again. Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.

The findings about East Antarctica emerge from a new paper just out in Nature Geoscience by an international team of scientists representing the United States, Britain, France and Australia. They flew a number of research flights over the Totten Glacier of East Antarctica — the fastest-thinning sector of the world’s largest ice sheet — and took a variety of measurements to try to figure out the reasons behind its retreat. And the news wasn’t good: It appears that Totten, too, is losing ice because warm ocean water is getting underneath it.

“The idea of warm ocean water eroding the ice in West Antarctica, what we’re finding is that may well be applicable in East Antarctica as well,” says Martin Siegert, a co-author of the study and who is based at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London.



The Quiet Plan To Sell Off America’s National Forests

A proposal to seize and sell off America’s national forests and other public lands could make its way into the House GOP’s budget resolution when it is announced this week.

In a recent memo to the House Budget Committee, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, proposed that America’s public lands be transferred to state control. He then requested $50 million of taxpayer money to be spent to enable transfers to “start immediately.” The memo states that public lands “create a burden for the surrounding states and communities,” and “the solution is to convey land without strings to state, local, and tribal governments.”

Bishop’s plan and similar proposals to give away America’s public lands are controversial. A majority of voters in those regions believe the proposals would likely result in states having to raise taxes, open prized recreation areas to drilling and mining, or sell lands to private interests to cover the substantial costs of management.

Despite these concerns — and despite the fact that these proposals are extremely expensive, unpopular, and most importantly, unconstitutional — there is a strong likelihood that Rep. Bishop’s request will be included in the House GOP’s budget, thanks to intensive lobbying efforts by a handful of right wing politicians and special interest groups.



Seen on reddit- "Why Don't I fits?"

Banks Say “Thanks for the Bailout,” Now We’ll Park our Profits in Overseas Tax Havens

Giant financial institutions that benefitted from federal bailouts during the depths of the recession have repaid the American people’s largesse by hiding profits overseas to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.

According to a report (pdf) commissioned by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), four big banks—Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase—which received massive amounts of money and loan guarantees to keep them afloat in the wake of the financial crisis, park large amounts of money in tax haven nations.

Citigroup got the most help of the four in the bailout, $2.5 trillion. That company has at least 427 offshore divisions where it squirrels away profits out of reach of the American people. Those funds, as of early 2014, totaled $43.8 billion, which would mean $11.7 billion in tax revenue for the United States if they were brought to this country. Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat was rewarded with $1.5 million in salary, $4.5 million in bonuses and $8 million in stock for his work in 2014.

Bank of America received a $1.3 trillion bailout from the American people. In 2014, it had $17 billion in profits stashed offshore, which would bring $4.3 billion in funding for education, infrastructure and other badly needed projects in the United States. Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan made $1.5 million in salary, $13 million in bonuses and $11.5 million in stock in 2014.


Politics Is Poisoning NASA’s Ability to Do What It Needs to Do

By Phil Plait

Well, I told you so.

When Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was made head of the Senate committee in charge of NASA’s funding, I (and many others) were appalled. Cruz is a science denier, flatly claiming global warming isn’t happening.

This is an issue, since many of NASA’s missions are directly focused on examining the amount, extent, and impact of that warming. And rightly so.

While Cruz may not be able to directly impact NASA’s budget, he can certainly make things difficult on the agency and pressure others to change NASA’s emphasis. He made this very clear last week when he held a meeting with NASA’s Administrator Charles Bolden as a witness. Cruz opened the session asking Bolden about NASA’s core mission, a clear shot at the idea that they should be looking outwards, not down.

Throughout the session, Cruz downplayed Earth science, claiming that NASA has lost focus on exploring space. It’s clear everything he was saying came from his stance of global warming denial.

And that is utter nonsense, to be incredibly polite. Pure and simple.



For the first time in a millennium, a top predator returns

LIONS ONCE HUNTED mammoths in Canada. Dire wolves stalked mastodon in Germany. And as recently as 1,300 years ago, a coyote-sized cat called the Eurasian lynx brought down deer in Great Britain. But the lynx, and all those other big predators, got out-hunted—and in some cases hunted out—by an even better predator: humans.

Now, though, the lynx are coming back. Not on their own, of course. If all goes according to plan, British and Scottish conservationists say that by the end of 2015 they’ll put the lynx back where it belongs, at the center of the British isle’s food web. “At the moment, Great Britain’s forest ecosystems are broken,” says Paul O’Donoghue, the lead ecologist with Lynx UK Trust, the group in charge the effort. “The lynx is the best tool to add some balance to the forest ecosystem.” To do that, O’Donoghue’s team will undertake a process called “rewinding.” They’ll find lynx in other parts of the world, make sure they’re OK to move, and bring them to their new homes. It’s difficult and controversial, but if researchers are right, it’s also fantastically important.

Apex predators do a lot to keep an ecosystem together. For one, they keep lower predators and herbivores in check, so they don’t overbreed and decimate plant life…which in turn cascades into human civilizations. Ecologists have been able to trace events—through sometimes complicated linkages—like Lyme disease outbreaks, agriculture pest flare-ups, and even increased flooding to the absence of apex predators.

Bring those predators back, though, and an ecosystem can swing back to health. At least, that’s the idea.

The Eurasian lynx still roams wild in most of Europe, and all the way across Russia. O’Donoghue’s cats will come from eastern Europe. “These are the exact same species that used to live in the UK,” he says. This is the first order of business when rewilding: making sure that the predator is a good fit in its once and future home. This isn’t just to prevent obvious blunders—you wouldn’t put modern, African lions into the Canadian tundra. “We have to make sure we’re returning an animal to its historic natural range, some place where it makes sense ecologically,” says William Ripple, an ecologist at Oregon State University whose expertise was crucial in the 1990s reintroduction of wolves back into Yellowstone.


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