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Current location: Florida
Member since: Mon Sep 6, 2004, 09:54 PM
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Plants are going extinct up to 500 times faster than the historical average

Plants are going extinct up to 500 times faster than the historical average
Annie Kin
Posted on October 22, 2019

Biologically diverse ‘hotspots’ are at the greatest risk for mass extinction, with Hawai’i’ being the “most dangerous place” for plants.

We are living during the time that some ecologists are calling the “sixth mass extinction.”

Throughout the lifespan of the Earth, species have gone extinct at a very minimal rate called the “background extinction rate.”

After analyzing the populations of more than 330,000 seed-bearing plants around the world, a study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution relays the horrific findings that about three plant species have gone extinct on Earth every year since 1900.

This is 500 times greater than the normal background rate.

Aside from the sheer quantity of species going extinct currently, there is one major difference with current extinctions and background extinction. Most of these current extinctions are the end result of reckless human activity, whereas background extinction is the natural ebb and flow of species in a slowly and constantly changing environment.

Mass extermination seems to be a more suited title for the human-driven catastrophe at hand.


Posted by babylonsister | Tue Oct 22, 2019, 03:44 PM (1 replies)

Obamacare Premiums Drop Again


Obamacare Premiums Drop Again
October 22, 2019 at 10:06 am EDT By Taegan Goddard 69 Comments

“Premiums for key plans sold on HealthCare.gov will drop by 4% on average next year, with several states seeing double-digit declines,” Politico reports.

“This marks the second straight year that the so-called benchmark premium has dropped and is a further sign that the Obamacare insurance marketplaces are stabilizing, even as the administration supports a lawsuit that could destroy the health care law.”
Posted by babylonsister | Tue Oct 22, 2019, 01:22 PM (2 replies)

In Rare Joint Statement, U.S. and European Lawmakers Condemn Trump for 'Abandonment' of the Kurds

In Rare Joint Statement, U.S. and European Lawmakers Condemn Trump for ‘Abandonment’ of the Kurds
by Jerry Lambe | 4:10 pm, October 21st, 2019

Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) on Monday issued a joint statement with his counterparts from several European allies condemning both President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeast Syria and the Turkish government’s subsequent military offensive in the region.

“We, the chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committees of the Parliaments of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the European Parliament and the House of Representatives of the United States of America, jointly condemn in the strongest terms the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria,” the statement said. “We consider the intrusion as a military aggression and a violation of international law. The Turkish offensive is causing suffering for the local people who are forced to flee and a further instability in Syria and the neighboring region. We consider the abandonment of the Syrian Kurds to be wrong.”

“We deeply regret the decision of the President of United States to withdraw American troops from northeastern Syria which marks another landmark in the change of American foreign policy in the Near and Middle East. The turmoil caused by the Turkish offensive may contribute to a resurgence of Islamic terrorism and undermines years of effort and investment to bring stability and peace in this part of the world. Therefore, we hope the United States will take up its responsibility in Syria again,” the statement continued. “We consider the abandonment of the Syrian Kurds to be wrong. The Syrian Democratic Forces, our partner in the Global Coalition, massively contributed to the successful yet unfinished fight against Da’esh in Syria and incurred heavy losses by doing so.”

A joint statement with foreign leaders is a rare occurrence, and follows bipartisan criticism of Trump’s decision to abandon America’s Kurdish allies.

The statement was co-signed by chairman of the U.K. House of Commons Committee on Foreign Affairs Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs David McAllister, chairman of the German Bundestag Committee on Foreign Affairs Norbert Rottgen, and Marielle de Sarnez, the chairwoman of the French National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“This horrible war touches and affects the peoples of our countries in such an enormous way. For that reason, we, as members of our parliaments, feel compelled to making our common position clear. We unite across parties and nationalities to demonstrate our commitment to our common values, responsibility and interests,” the statement concluded.

a bit more...

Posted by babylonsister | Tue Oct 22, 2019, 09:42 AM (4 replies)

Trump Handed ISIS Its Biggest Victory In Years


Trump Handed ISIS Its Biggest Victory In Years
October 21, 2019 at 6:46 pm EDT By Taegan Goddard

New York Times: “When President Trump announced this month that he would pull American troops out of northern Syria and make way for a Turkish attack on the Kurds, Washington’s onetime allies, many warned that he was removing the spearhead of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.”

“Now, analysts say that Mr. Trump’s pullout has handed the Islamic State its biggest win in more than four years and greatly improved its prospects. With American forces rushing for the exits, in fact, American officials said last week that they were already losing their ability to collect critical intelligence about the group’s operations on the ground.”

Posted by babylonsister | Mon Oct 21, 2019, 08:23 PM (5 replies)

BREAKING: Madison school district rescinds termination of staff member Marlon Anderson

BREAKING: Madison school district rescinds termination of staff member Marlon Anderson
Marlon Anderson.
By Jackson Danbeck, NBC15 Staff |
Posted: Mon 4:51 PM, Oct 21, 2019 |
Updated: Mon 6:18 PM, Oct 21, 2019

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- The Madison school district has rescinded the termination of a staff member who was fired last week for using a racial slur.

According to a release from union Teachers Union Inc. on Monday, the Madison Metropolitan School District decided to rescind the termination of Anderson; that Anderson will be returned to pay status immediately including full benefits; and that Anderson will be on paid leave while a transition plan is finalized to return him to work.

Anderson was fired by the district last week after a black student said the n-word at him, and he repeated the racial slur when he told the teen not to use it.

At the time the district said Anderson was fired for violating its “zero-tolerance policy” for using the racial slur on school grounds.

The incident garnered national attention after hundreds of West High students protested the firing in a massive walkout last Friday. The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County meanwhile offered Anderson a temporary job, until the district gave him his old job back.


Posted by babylonsister | Mon Oct 21, 2019, 07:35 PM (13 replies)

Dahlia Lithwick: Lindsey Graham Isn't Breaking From Donald Trump


Lindsey Graham Isn’t Breaking From Donald Trump
Trump allies, including Graham, are trying to make “no quid pro quo” this scandal’s “no collusion.”
By Dahlia Lithwick
Oct 21, 2019
5:45 PM


I don’t see Graham’s comments last week as signaling anything of the sort. Instead I’d wager that Graham, whose pivot from Trump critic to Olympian bootlicker in recent years has birthed a million conspiracy theories, was working harder to prop up the Trump-Is-Perfection line of analysis than almost anyone else. Graham did just exactly what Trump and the White House and Senate Republicans needed him to do: He moved the impeachment goal posts.

Look at what Graham said again. He claimed that he would vote for impeachment in the Senate as soon as someone showed him “a crime,” and not only that—it needed to be a crime that was “outside the phone call.” In the event that you missed the head-feint there, under the plain language of the Constitution, impeachment requires no finding of criminal lawbreaking. The Constitution provides for impeachment and removal of the president and other high officers for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” We know what treason and bribery mean, but “high crimes and misdemeanors,” while amorphous, surely encompass a lot more than merely breaking criminal laws. As Frank Bowman has explained here in Slate, the notion that impeachment remedies only criminal conduct makes no sense.

Witness the same moving of goal posts when Graham goes one further in his alleged concession on impeachment to Axios. Not only does he claim that he needs to be shown a crime, he then goes on to constrain the crime he needs to see as one that demands a quid pro quo. First of all, recognize the absurdity of Graham saying he needs more proof of quid pro quo outside of that phone call, given that the phone call provides a pretty clear indication that quid pro quo-ing was going on. As professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School (also a Slate contributor) noted in an email to me:

Sen. Graham does seem to be parroting WH talking points, and not the most effective ones, either. Saying he needs to be “shown” that “Trump was actually engaging in a quid pro quo, outside the phone call,” is particularly bizarre. What about the call itself? It was hardly chopped liver. Its explicit use of the word “though” to link (a) the president’s willingness to release the aid that Congress had voted and that Ukraine was desperately seeking to defend itself from Putin’s aggression, to (b) the favor Trump wanted in return was enough in itself to establish that Trump was conditioning the aid package on assistance in his political quest both to erase Russia’s influence on his original election and to undermine his most likely 2020 opponent. If that’s not “quid pro quo,” nothing is.


It’s not paranoia to suggest that whenever you are offered impeachment assistance from the likes of Graham, you’ll first want to check that gift horse for bleeding gums, cavities, and halitosis before agreeing that he’s actually moving the needle on the impeachment process. In this instance, Graham isn’t edging Senate Republicans closer to an impeachment conviction. He’s trying to change the threshold for impeachable offenses into something that is possibly unmeetable (assuming Mulvaney can stop talking) and creating a but-for test that Senate Republicans can hide behind if they want to vote no. Just as presidential misconduct with Russia never should have been confined to “collusion,” impeachable conduct cannot rise and fall over explicit quid pro quos in criminal bribery statutes.

To be sure, the debate over whether or not there was a quid pro quo on offer is useful, and it’s even useful for proving noncriminal abuse of power claims. But while we can argue about quid pro quos to establish misconduct for public opinion purposes, it remains a tiny piece of the puzzle. If it turns out that a quid pro quo around aid to Ukraine can be proved, that’s outstanding news for House Democrats. But it is not necessary for a criminal impeachment conviction, and Senate Republicans should not be permitted to hide behind claims that it is. Graham’s statements should be recognized for exactly what they are—a line of defense for Trump, and a distortion of the constitutional floor for impeachment, and nothing close to a crack in the wall of protection for the president.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Oct 21, 2019, 06:58 PM (6 replies)

Trump Calls The Constitution Phony While Comparing Himself To George Washington


Posted on Mon, Oct 21st, 2019 by Jason Easley
Trump Calls The Constitution Phony While Comparing Himself To George Washington

Trump called the emoluments clause of the Constitution phony while comparing himself to George Washington running his business in the White House.

Trump said:

George Washington, he ran his business simultaneously while he was president. Many other presidents, there were not too many rich presidents, but they were few. They were into their businesses. Obama made a deal for a book. Is that running for business? I am sure he didn’t even discuss it while he was president, yeah. He has a deal with Netflix. When did they stop talking about that? A couple of examples. Not huge wealth, George Washington considered to be a rich man at the time. George Washington had two desks, he had a presidential desk and a business desk. I don’t think you people with this phony emoluments clause. I would say it would cost me anywhere from 2 to $3 billion to be president.”

Trump went on to praise himself for having “the best properties,” and claimed that he would have made a fortune in business if he wasn’t president.
Trump has so little reverence and regard for the Constitution that he called part of it phony. Trump also compared himself to Washington, which is ironic given Washington’s warnings about foreign influence and corruption in his farewell address. Trump is what George Washington warned Americans about.

The president’s comments were an admission that he scrapped his G-7 at Doral scheme because he was worried about the emoluments clause lawsuits. Trump is showing himself to be enemy from within that our Founders warned us about.

Posted by babylonsister | Mon Oct 21, 2019, 05:01 PM (11 replies)

The Incredible Shrinking President


The Incredible Shrinking President
In the midst of an impeachment crisis, a Middle East crisis, and a trade crisis, Trump finds time to indulge his pettiest impulses.
by Paul Waldman
October 21, 2019


It’s not that he wouldn’t like to accomplish great things, but when he finds the going difficult, he retreats to the smallest of victories (or the smallest of fights). Getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons would have been a historic achievement, but Trump couldn’t make it happen, so now he prattles on about all the “beautiful letters” Kim Jong Un has sent him, as though no other president could have procured such a prize. He can’t convince Congress to fund his border wall, so he obsesses over the details of the nonexistent wall, such as whether it will be painted black and have spikes on top.

That’s when he’s not spending hours every day watching Fox News, like plenty of other angry 73-year-old white guys who don’t happen to be the most powerful person on earth.

And despite his obsession with looking strong, Trump seems weaker than ever. He writes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a childish letter demanding that Erdogan not launch a military operation into northern Syria, which Erdogan promptly ignores. He sends Rudy Giuliani on an international mission to pursue lunatic conspiracy theories and dig up dirt on Joe Biden, a project that will lead to his own impeachment—and Biden was probably never going to be the Democratic nominee anyway. He complains about Fox News polls.

Some presidents have thought in bigger, longer-term ways than others, trying to effect deep and lasting change and worrying about how history will judge them. But all have had at least some largeness of vision, the understanding that the office confers on them a unique responsibility to the country and the future. Donald Trump is, if anything, a smaller man now than he was before he took office: pettier, more insecure, more impulsive, more juvenile, all his character flaws only heightened by his unique position.

It might be nice to think that at some point that will change and he’ll become “presidential,” as so long ago he promised he would. But nobody believes that anymore. He’ll only get smaller.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Oct 21, 2019, 03:34 PM (20 replies)

George F. Will: Sinister figures lurk around our careless president


Sinister figures lurk around our careless president
By George F. Will
October 13, 2017


Trump's energy, unleavened by intellect and untethered to principle, serves only his sovereign instinct to pander to those who adore him as much as he does. Unshakably smitten, they are impervious to the Everest of evidence that he disdains them as a basket of gullibles. He understands that his unremitting coarseness satisfies their unpolitical agenda of smashing crockery, even though his self-indulgent floundering precludes fulfillment of the promises he flippantly made to assuage their sense of being disdained. He gives his gullibles not governance by tantrum, but tantrum as governance.

With Trump turning and turning in a widening gyre, his crusade to make America great again is increasingly dominated by people who explicitly repudiate America's premises. The faux nationalists of the "alt-right" and their fellow travelers such as Stephen K. Bannon, although fixated on protecting the United States from imported goods, have imported the blood-and-soil ethno-tribalism that stains the continental European right. In "Answering the Alt-Right" in National Affairs quarterly, Ramon Lopez, a University of Chicago PhD candidate in political philosophy, demonstrates how Trump's election has brought back to the public stage ideas that a post-Lincoln America had slowly but determinedly expunged. They were rejected because they are incompatible with an open society that takes its bearing from the Declaration of Independence's doctrine of natural rights.

With their version of the identity politics practiced by progressives, alt-right theorists hold that the tribalism to which people are prone should not be transcended but celebrated. As Lopez explains, the alt-right sees society as inevitably "a zero-sum contest among fundamentally competing identity groups." Hence the alt-right is explicitly an alternative to Lincoln's affirmation of the Founders' vision. They saw America as cohesive because of a shared creed. The alt-right must regard Lincoln as not merely mistaken but absurd in describing America as a creedal nation dedicated to a "proposition." The alt-right insists that real nationhood requires cultural homogeneity rooted in durable ethnic identities. This is the alt-right's alternative foundation for the nation Lincoln said was founded on the principle that all people are, by nature, equal.

Trump is, of course, innocent of this (or any other) systemic thinking. However, within the ambit of his vast, brutish carelessness are some people with sinister agendas and anti-constitutional impulses. Stephen Miller, Bannon's White House residue and Trump's enfant terrible, recently said that "in sending our [tax reform] proposal to the tax-writing committees, we will include instructions to ensure all low- and middle-income households are protected." So, Congress will be instructed by Trump's 32-year-old acolyte who also says the president's national security powers "will not be questioned." We await the response of congressional Republicans, who did so little to stop Trump's ascent and then so much to normalize him.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Oct 21, 2019, 12:54 PM (0 replies)

Fox News is not a news network. It's a training ground for Trump dead-enders, poll shows


Fox News is not a news network. It's a training ground for Trump dead-enders, poll shows
Laura Clawson
Daily Kos Staff
Monday October 21, 2019 · 10:09 AM EDT

A new survey shows just how key Fox News is to Donald Trump’s support. The poll, from the Public Religion Research Institute, was taken before the impeachment inquiry was announced, and, given the shift in views on impeachment in recent weeks, it’s not a useful gauge of views on that issue right now. But it’s a hugely important reminder both of what’s going on in today’s Republican Party and of how we should understand Fox News. On issue after issue, the poll found big gaps between Republicans whose primary news source is Fox and white evangelicals on one hand, and Republicans who are neither regular Fox viewers nor white evangelicals on the other.

On impeachment—again, a number that will have shifted since the poll was done in mid-September—94% of Republicans overall opposed impeachment and removal. But among Fox News viewers, that number was 98%, and among white evangelicals it was 99%.

The Fox gap is much bigger on other questions about Trump. Do people believe that immigrants are “invading the country”? Among Republicans who don’t watch Fox regularly, 52% say yes. Among Republicans who rely on Fox as their primary news source, it’s 78%. Do Republicans wish Trump would behave like other presidents? Only 29% of Fox News Republicans say yes, in stark contrast to 60% of other Republicans.

Fox News viewers and white evangelicals were also the groups of Republicans most likely to say that there was basically nothing Trump could do that would affect their support for him—the true “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue” Trump base. In this we can see both that Fox News is a partisan network that should never, ever be understood as anything else—not just a tool of the Republican Party, but a driver of it—and that “white evangelical” is now not so much a religious affiliation as a political one.
Posted by babylonsister | Mon Oct 21, 2019, 11:48 AM (3 replies)
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