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Warming oceans make parts of world ‘uninsurable’, say insurers

By Alistair Gray and Pilita Clark in London

Insurers have issued a rare warning that the speed at which the oceans are warming is threatening their ability to sell affordable policies in a growing number of places around the world.

Parts of the UK and the US state of Florida were already facing “a risk environment that is uninsurable”, said the global insurance industry trade body, the Geneva Association.

They were unlikely to be the last areas with such problems, said John Fitzpatrick, the association’s secretary-general.
He said governments needed to invest more in flood defences and tighten building restrictions in risky locations to mitigate the fallout from extreme weather hazards, citing losses from superstorm Sandy, which struck particularly hard in New York and New Jersey last October and cost the economy about $65bn.

“Governments may have fiscal austerity issues in the short run. But in the long run they’re going to have big exposures – to repair damaged infrastructure from storms.”


The Political 1% of the 1% in 2012

by Lee Drutman

In the 2012 election, 28 percent of all disclosed political contributions came from just 31,385 people. In a nation of 313.85 million, these donors represent the 1% of the 1%, an elite class that increasingly serves as the gatekeepers of public office in the United States.

More than a quarter of the nearly $6 billion in contributions from identifiable sources in the last campaign cycle came from just 31,385 individuals, a number equal to one ten-thousandth of the U.S. population.

In the first presidential election cycle since the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. FEC, candidates got more money from a smaller percentage of the population than any year for which we have data, a new analysis of 2012 campaign finance giving by the Sunlight Foundation shows. These donors contributed 28.1 percent of all individual contributions in the 2012 cycle, a record high.

One sign of the reach of this elite “1% of the 1%”: Not a single member of the House or Senate elected last year won without financial assistance from this group. Money from the nation’s 31,385 biggest givers found its way into the coffers of every successful congressional candidate. And 84 percent of those elected in 2012 took more money from these 1% of the 1% donors than they did from all of their small donors (individuals who gave $200 or less) combined.



IRS to make it easier for groups to get tax-exempt status, new chief says

By Zachary A. Goldfarb,

The Internal Revenue Service said in a report released Monday that it had been scrutinizing a broad array of groups seeking tax-exempt status — and a congressional committee revealed that at least some of those groups were screened because they had the word “progressive” in their names.

The IRS had been using what it called “be on the lookout” lists that targeted groups for scrutiny based partly on their names as recently as this month. Principal deputy commissioner Daniel Werfel, whom President Obama chose to lead the agency when a controversy broke out last month about tax officials targeting conservative groups for scrutiny, put an end to the practice shortly after joining the IRS.

The IRS previously had said that it stopped selecting conservative groups for review based on terms such as “tea party” or “patriot” last year. But the practice continued for other groups, the agency said in a report Monday that identified “significant management and judgement failures” that had led to the initial targeting of conservatives.

“There was a wide-ranging set of categories and cases that spanned a broad spectrum,” Werfel said in a conference call. He added that though the screening method was inappropriate, “we have not found evidence of intentional wrongdoing by anyone in the IRS or involvement in these matters by anyone outside the IRS.”



Mission Accomplished!

Tuesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest





Tuesday Toon Roundup 2- Butter Fried Racism

Tuesday Toon Roundup 1- Spy vs Spy

The Case of the Missing Ancestor

DNA from a cave in Russia adds a mysterious new member to the human family.
By Jamie Shreeve

In the Altay Mountains of southern Siberia, some 200 miles from where Russia touches Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan, nestled under a rock face about 30 yards above a little river called the Anuy, there is a cave called Denisova. It has long attracted visitors. The name comes from that of a hermit, Denis, who is said to have lived there in the 18th century. Long before that, Neolithic and later Turkic pastoralists took shelter in the cave, gathering their herds around them to ride out the Siberian winters. Thanks to them, the archaeologists who work in Denisova today, surrounded by walls spattered with recent graffiti, had to dig through deep layers of goat dung to get to the deposits that interested them. But the cave’s main chamber has a high, arched ceiling with a hole near the top that directs shimmering shafts of sunlight into the interior, so that the space feels holy, like a church.

In the back of the cave is a small side chamber, and it was there that a young Russian archaeologist named Alexander Tsybankov was digging one day in July 2008, in deposits believed to be 30,000 to 50,000 years old, when he came upon a tiny piece of bone. It was hardly promising: a rough nubbin about the size and shape of a pebble you might shake out of your shoe. Later, after news of the place had spread, a paleoanthropologist I met at Denisova described the bone to me as the “most unspectacular fossil I’ve ever seen. It’s practically depressing.” Still, it was a bone. Tsybankov bagged it and put it in his pocket to show a paleontologist back at camp.

The bone preserved just enough anatomy for the paleontologist to identify it as a chip from a primate fingertip—specifically the part that faces the last joint in the pinkie. Since there is no evidence for primates other than humans in Siberia 30,000 to 50,000 years ago—no apes or monkeys—the fossil was presumably from some kind of human. Judging by the incompletely fused joint surface, the human in question had died young, perhaps as young as eight years old.

Anatoly Derevianko, leader of the Altay excavations and director of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk, thought the bone might belong to a member of our own species, Homo sapiens. Sophisticated artifacts that could only be the work of modern humans, including a beautiful bracelet of polished green stone, had previously been found in the same deposits. But DNA from a fossil found earlier in a nearby cave had proved to be Neanderthal, so it was possible this bone was Neanderthal as well.


Toles Toon- Situational Comedy

Alito is a dick to Justice Ginsburg

By Dana Milbank, Monday, June 24, 5:07 PM

The most remarkable thing about the Supreme Court’s opinions announced Monday was not what the justices wrote or said. It was what Samuel Alito did.

The associate justice, a George W. Bush appointee, read two opinions, both 5-4 decisions that split the court along its usual right-left divide. But Alito didn’t stop there. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, Alito visibly mocked his colleague.

Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the high court, was making her argument about how the majority opinion made it easier for sexual harassment to occur in the workplace when Alito, seated immediately to Ginsburg’s left, shook his head from side to side in disagreement, rolled his eyes and looked at the ceiling.

His treatment of the 80-year-old Ginsburg, 17 years his elder and with 13 years more seniority, was a curious display of judicial temperament or, more accurately, judicial intemperance. Typically, justices state their differences in words — and Alito, as it happens, had just spoken several hundred of his own from the bench. But he frequently supplements words with middle-school gestures.



Typical entitled Bushie Prick.

By 5-4, a More Hostile Workplace


There’s an editor I work with closely on the editorial board who did not hire me and does not have the power to fire me. But in journalism, in general, editors are higher on the totem poll than writers and, as such, their judgments, assignments and daily instructions matter a lot.

Is the editor my supervisor? I certainly think so.

But according to a 5 to 4 decision by the Supreme Court today, the answer is no. With that ruling, the conservative majority — Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Alito, Kennedy, Scalia and Thomas — has left many victims of workplace harassment without legal recourse.

The case was Maetta Vance versus Ball State University in Indiana. Ms. Vance, an African-American employee in the university’s catering department, sued her employer for discrimination, alleging that she had been subjected to racial taunts and veiled threats.

Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, employers are liable for discrimination by a “supervisor,” but not by co-workers (unless the victim has reported abuse by co-workers to a supervisor who does nothing to remedy the situation).

much more

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