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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 39,402

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Tuesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest








Tuesday Toon Roundup 2- VA

Tuesday Toon Roundup 1- Benica

Toles Toon- Optimism and Cynicism

Luckovich Toon: Spin, Spin, Spin


Budget deficit on track for six-year low


It was about a year ago when House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) appeared on Fox News and told viewers that Congress should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”

There were a couple of glaring problems with the comment. For one thing, to prioritize the deficit as the “ultimate problem” – as opposed to, say, creating jobs and reducing unemployment – is to have a fairly warped sense of urgent policy needs. For another, the deficit, in reality, is most certainly not “growing.”
The U.S. government ran a big surplus in April, thanks to a flood of tax payments that helped keep the budget on track for the lowest annual deficit in six years…. Through the first seven months of the 2014 budget year, which began Oct. 1, the deficit totals $306.4 billion. That’s down 37 percent from the same period last year.

The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a deficit of $492 billion for the full budget year. That would be the narrowest gap since 2008.

To be sure, none of this should come as a surprise, at least not to the policy mainstream. In recent years, the federal government has raised taxes and cut spending – and wouldn’t you know it, when Washington takes in more while spending less, the deficit gets smaller.

This is a basic budgetary truism that Republicans continue to resist. Indeed, last year, when top marginal rates increased on households making more than $400,000 a year, a variety of GOP lawmakers argued that this would likely cause the deficit to go up – as they saw it, higher taxes on the wealthy would slow growth, which would mean fewer jobs, which would mean fewer people paying income taxes, which would mean a larger deficit.


Was poisoning of scientist's dog a warning from Humboldt pot growers?


Super Bowl Sunday was a quiet day for wildlife disease expert Mourad Gabriel. He and his wife, Greta Wengert, an ecologist, planned to watch the game, then peel off to do some work.

Their house, on the crest of a wooded knoll near the Northern California coastal town of Arcata, is open and sunlit. From the kitchen table where Gabriel often works, he can see the sloping backyard where the family's two boisterous Labrador retrievers loved to play.

One of the dogs, Nyxo, was rescued from a local shelter. The dog frequently kept the 39-year-old PhD company during his fieldwork, which includes studying the decline of the Pacific fisher — a forest predator, related to the weasel, that is a candidate for inclusion on the federal endangered species list later this year.

After the football game, the couple turned in. The next morning, Greta found Nyxo on the floor writhing in pain. Hours later, he was dead.



What McMansions say about Americans


When the going gets less tough, Americans get stupid.

Stupid means big. During economic booms — or times like now, when the economy still stinks but stinks somewhat less than before — automakers crank out giant gas guzzlers. And home-builders build huge.

Big doesn’t have to mean ugly (see Taj Mahal). But it usually does.

Los Angeles County has an unemployment rate of 8.7%, worse than the already high statewide rate of 8.1% but lower than before. And so, with a whiff of pseudo-prosperity in the fiscal air, real estate developers are bringing back McMansions — gargantuan monstrosities that dwarf not just their neighbors’ older homes but their own plots of land.

Garage mahals. Starter castles. Hummer houses. If you build one, your neighbors may or may not come. (Based on that 8-foot hedge, you may not want them to.) But they will sneer.



Ice-loss moves the Earth 250 miles down

An international research team led by Newcastle University, UK, reveal Earth's mantle under Antarctica is at a lower viscosity and moving at such a rapid rate it is changing the shape of the land at a rate that can be recorded by GPS.

At the surface, Antarctica is a motionless and frozen landscape. Yet hundreds of miles down the Earth is moving at a rapid rate, new research has shown.

The study, led by Newcastle University, UK, and published this week in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, explains for the first time why the upward motion of Earth's crust in the Northern Antarctic Peninsula is currently taking place so quickly.

Previous studies have shown Earth is 'rebounding' due to the overlying ice sheet shrinking in response to climate change. This movement of the land was understood to be due to an instantaneous, elastic response followed by a very slow uplift over thousands of years.


Deputy who choked TN student opts for early retirement instead of fighting termination

A Tennessee deputy who lost his job after published photos showed him choking a college student during an arrest decided to take early retirement.

Former Knox County sheriff’s deputy Frank Phillips chose Thursday to take “deferred retirement” rather than appeal his firing, reported the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Sheriff Jimmy Jones fired the 47-year-old Phillips on April 27, just hours after photos taken by a freelance photographer showed the veteran law enforcement officer placing a University of Tennessee student in a choke hold.

The 21-year-old student, Jarod Dotson, fell to his knees and went unconscious after the deputy choked him during an arrest following a house party that drew about 800 people.

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