We are the Liberal Blog From Hollywood
L.A.'s Premier Post Facility

L.A.'s Premier Post Facility

Photographer in L.A.

Hot Pics & Gossip.

Archive for September 24th, 2011

BP Oil Not Degrading on Gulf Floor

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 24th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

BP Oil Not Degrading on Gulf Floor
Tar balls washed onto Gulf of Mexico beaches by Tropical Storm Lee earlier this month show that oil left over from last year’s BP spill isn’t breaking down as quickly as some scientists thought it would, university researchers said Tuesday. Auburn University experts who studied tar samples at the request of coastal leaders said the latest wave of gooey orbs and chunks appeared relatively fresh, smelled strongly and were hardly changed chemically from the weathered oil that collected on Gulf beaches during the spill.



Late Late Night FDL: Swing Low Sweet Cadillac

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 24th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Swing Low Sweet Cadillac
Dizzy Gillespie and The Electric MayhemSwing Low Sweet Cadillac from episode 413 of The Muppet Show.

Dizzy Gillespie and The Electric MayhemSwing Low Sweet Cadillac from episode 413 of The Muppet Show.

Grab your popcorn, put your feet up on the coffee table, and try to keep the spitballs off the screen please.  This is Late Late Night FireDogLake, where off topic is the topic … so dive in.  What’s on your mind?


Abbas Requests Full U.N. Membership

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 24th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Abbas Requests Full U.N. Membership
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made his formal request to the Security Council on Friday for full membership in the United Nations, a request that, if granted, could lead to the official declaration of a Palestinian state. As Abbas made his speech to the General Assembly, he was forced to pause several times to wait out standing ovations before continuing on. “I do not believe anyone with a shred of conscience can reject our application for full admission in the United Nations,” Abbas said. And yet the United States is expected to vote against granting Palestine a full membership, saying that direct negotiations with Israel are a more suitable avenue to independence and eventually peace. Votes of the five European members and two African members of the Security Council are still up in the air. A vote is not expected to take place for at least a week. —BF The New York Times: The diplomatic wrangling at the United Nations is expected to take several weeks before the question of a vote arises. Among the 15 members, some are expected to stay solidly in the Palestinian camp including Brazil, China, India, Lebanon, South Africa, and Russia. The United States is a solid vote against, and the five European members — Bosnia and Herzegovina, Britain, France, Germany, and Portugal — are all question marks. The positions of Colombia, Gabon and Nigeria are also not entirely clear. The African Union supports membership, but it is not entirely clear if Gabon and Nigeria will go along. President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria did not mention the issue in his speech to the General Assembly, unlike many leaders from the developing world who support Palestine, and the statement by President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, was somewhat enigmatic. He said he hoped to soon see a Palestinian state, but noted that both the Palestinians and the people of Israel are friends of Gabon. Read more

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made his formal request to the Security Council on Friday for full membership in the United Nations, a request that, if granted, could lead to the official declaration of a Palestinian state.

As Abbas made his speech to the General Assembly, he was forced to pause several times to wait out standing ovations before continuing on.

“I do not believe anyone with a shred of conscience can reject our application for full admission in the United Nations,” Abbas said. And yet the United States is expected to vote against granting Palestine a full membership, saying that direct negotiations with Israel are a more suitable avenue to independence and eventually peace. Votes of the five European members and two African members of the Security Council are still up in the air.

A vote is not expected to take place for at least a week. —BF

The New York Times:

The diplomatic wrangling at the United Nations is expected to take several weeks before the question of a vote arises.

Among the 15 members, some are expected to stay solidly in the Palestinian camp including Brazil, China, India, Lebanon, South Africa, and Russia. The United States is a solid vote against, and the five European members — Bosnia and Herzegovina, Britain, France, Germany, and Portugal — are all question marks. The positions of Colombia, Gabon and Nigeria are also not entirely clear.

The African Union supports membership, but it is not entirely clear if Gabon and Nigeria will go along. President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria did not mention the issue in his speech to the General Assembly, unlike many leaders from the developing world who support Palestine, and the statement by President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, was somewhat enigmatic. He said he hoped to soon see a Palestinian state, but noted that both the Palestinians and the people of Israel are friends of Gabon.

Read more



Pennsylvania Rep.: ‘This Is Not The Only Disaster In America’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 24th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Pennsylvania Rep.: ‘This Is Not The Only Disaster In America’
WASHINGTON — After first fighting to see the House pass a more generous disaster aid package advanced by the Senate, a Republican congressman now says…

Chris Weigant: Friday Talking Points — Class Warfare? Hardly.
As was entirely predictable, once Obama stood up for taxing the rich folk a wee bit more, the Republicans fired back with what they think is the biggest weapon in their arsenal: screaming “Class warfare!”

Marian Wright Edelman: Is Our Nation on the Titanic?
What is our values compass as we seek solutions to rampant joblessness and poverty among millions of Americans, including 16.4 million poor children?

TRAIN Wreck: Greens Urge Senate To Derail House Bill
The U.S. House of Representatives forwarded a bill on Friday that environmental leaders warn would undermine the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to curb air pollution…


Not “Very Helpful”? Carlson Advances Myth That Obama Hasn’t Increased Border Security

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 24th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Not “Very Helpful”? Carlson Advances Myth That Obama Hasn’t Increased Border Security

Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson claimed that Gov. Rick Perry was “exactly right” when he said that the federal government has “not engaged … at all” in border security. In fact, under President Obama, deportations have increased — including deportations of convicted criminals — and the number of border patrol agents and funding for border security projects have also increased.

Carlson Says “Federal Government Has Not Been Very Helpful” On Border Security

Carlson: “[Perry Is] Exactly Right — The Federal Government Has Not Been Very Helpful In This Whole Process” Of Border Security. On September 23, Fox News’ Fox & Friends aired video of Gov. Rick Perry’s (R-TX) claim during the September 22 GOP debate that “[t]he federal government has not engaged in [border security] at all.” Afterward, co-host Gretchen Carlson agreed with Perry’s comments, saying, “He’s exactly right — the federal government has not been very helpful in this whole process.” From the broadcast:

[begin video clip]

PERRY: The idea that you are going to build a wall, a fence, for 1,200 miles and then go 800 miles more to Tijuana does not make sense. You put the boots on the ground. We know how to make this work. You put the boots on the ground.

RICK SANTORUM (GOP presidential candidate): But it’s not working, governor.

PERRY: You put the aviation assets in the ground.

SANTORUM: But it’s not working.

PERRY: No, it’s not working, because the federal government —

SANTORUM: You say you know how it works. Is it working in Texas?

PERRY: The federal government has not engaged in this at all. When I’m the president of the United States, I’ll promise you one thing —

SANTORUM: But you’re saying you put the assets there. Has it worked in Texas?

PERRY: We will put the assets on the ground, the boots on the ground —

SANTORUM: You said you have. Has it —

BRET BAIER (moderator): Senator Santorum, let him finish, please.

PERRY: — the aviation assets on the ground and we will stop illegal immigration, we will stop the drug cartels, and we will make America secure.

SANTORUM: Can you answer the question? Is it working?

[end video clip ]

CARLSON: The interesting thing there is that Rick Perry seems to have — there’s a dichotomy in his illegal immigration policy. Because on the one hand, he does believe in this in-state tuition [for undocumented immigrants in Texas] – and, in fact, most of the Texas legislature does as well. Only four of the 181 members of the Texas legislature voted against this. So it seems that Texas is in line with all of this. But, at the same time, he believes in much stricter enforcement. He wants to build a wall. And he’s exactly right — that the federal government has not been very helpful in this whole process, a la — just look at Arizona, as well. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 9/23/11, emphasis added]

PolitiFact Rates Perry’s Statement “Pants On Fire”

PolitiFact: Border Patrol Has “Doubled The Number Of Agents Since 2004.” And There Are “More U.S. Agents Than Ever Patrolling the U.S. Border.” On September 23, PolitiFact rated Perry’s statement that the federal government “has not engaged” in border security “Pants on Fire.” From the post:

Really? There aren’t any federal boots on the Texas border?

PolitiFact looked at related issues this summer, concluding that U.S. Border Patrol has “doubled the number of agents since 2004.” Meanwhile, we found it Mostly True that the U.S. has more agents than ever patrolling its borders. Of those more than 20,000 agents in 2010, more than 17,000 worked along the Southwest border, much of which is Texas. No boots, huh?

Perry’s own office has a Homeland Security Strategic Plan that notes that local and state law enforcement officials “partner with federal agencies like the U.S. Border Patrol” and also notes that part of Texas’ $200 million investment since 2005 to fill border security gaps came from federal grants.

Meanwhile, at the end of fiscal year 2010, the federal Department of Homeland Security investments in border security had grown to $11.9 billion and included more than 40,000 personnel, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

We’re not checking whether federal investment has been effective — merely, as Perry said, whether the federal government has been “engaged.”

With more U.S. agents than ever patrolling the U.S. border — most of them in the Southwest — we’ve got to say, Governor, your own boots might be at risk. Because we rate your statement Pants on Fire. [PolitiFact, 9/23/11]

And Experts, Media Say Border Is “More Fortified Than Ever” Under Obama Admin.

There Are Currently More Border Patrol Agents “Than Ever Before In The History Of This Country.” The Obama administration has been increasing the number of Border Patrol officers on the southern border. During a July 2010 hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol chief Michael Fisher said, “Currently we have over 20,000 Border Patrol Agents nationwide, more than ever before in the history of the country.”

Based on Department of Homeland Security data, The Arizona Republic created the following chart showing the increase in border patrol agents since 2001:

Border chart

[House Homeland Security Committee Hearing, 7/22/10; The Arizona Republic5/26/10]

AP: “The U.S.-Mexico Border Is More Fortified Now Than It Was Even Five Years Ago.” A June 23, 2010, Associated Press article noted: “You wouldn’t know it from the public debate, but the U.S.-Mexico border is more fortified now than it was even five years ago. Far more agents patrol it, more fences, barriers and technology protect it and taxpayers are spending billions more to reinforce it.” [AP, 6/23/10]

For more on the Obama administration’s record on border security, SEE HERE.


News Corp May Face Legal Action In The U.S.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 24th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

News Corp May Face Legal Action In The U.S.
A British attorney, who represented the family of a murder victim whose phone was hacked by News Of The World journalists, says he is teaming up with a lawyer in the U.S. to begin legal proceedings against the Murdochs and News Corporation.


Florida Senator Files Bill To Repeal Welfare Drug Testing Law
Count Florida state Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D) as another opponent of a state law requiring welfare applicants to take a drug test. This week, the senator filed a bill to repeal the law, saying the legislation “kicks people when they’re…

Feds: Homeless Computer Hacker Launched ‘Anonymous’ Attack Over Anti-Camping Law
A man upset over an anti-camping law in Santa Cruz took part in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the city’s computer servers, the feds said Thursday.


Georgia’s Death Penalty: A Century of Progress

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 24th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Georgia’s Death Penalty: A Century of Progress


Rick Perry Is Officially Blowing It

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 24th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Rick Perry Is Officially Blowing It
The key here is that the Republicans who influence mass opinion in the party seem to be noticing this, and speaking out.


Israel’s Friends Abandon It

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 24th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Israel’s Friends Abandon It
This is beginning to look like one of the worst periods in Israel’s history. (Read this great piece from the Israeli blog 972). The Turkish government has essentially broken relations with Israel over the Netanyahu government’s refusal to apologize for…


Rick Perry Kills an Innocent Man & Covers it up! And Save Troy Davis!Rick Perry’s record number of executions drew applause at last week’s GOP debate. Among the 234- whoops, make that?235?as of today, it’s hard to keep up- killed…


George Soros on Our Failing Public Sphere
As we try to make sense of the Republican presidential candidates’ debate, and of Barack Obama’s long belated, once-bumped, high-stakes speech on jobs – it might help to read “George Soros’ frightening assessment of the American public sphere. Too few…


Hottest Decade on Record Would Have Been Even Hotter But for Deep Oceans ? Accelerated Warming May Be On Its Way

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on September 24th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Hottest Decade on Record Would Have Been Even Hotter But for Deep Oceans ? Accelerated Warming May Be On Its Way
A composite of all the major global temperature records via Skeptical Science. The last decade was easily the hottest on record.  We’ve known that sulfate aerosols (from volcanoes and/or Chinese coal) and the “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century” masked the rate of warming somewhat. Even so, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies […]

A composite of all the major global temperature records via Skeptical Science.

The last decade was easily the hottest on record.  We’ve known that sulfate aerosols (from volcanoes and/or Chinese coal) and the “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century” masked the rate of warming somewhat.

Even so, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which probably has the best of the long temperature datasets, reported the 12-month running mean global temperature reached a new record in 2010.  As a NASA analysis found: “We conclude that global temperature continued to rise rapidly in the past decade” and “there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20°C/decade that began in the late 1970s.”

But other datasets appeared to show a slight slowing in the rate of warming, though even that may have been due to flawed data, as in the case of the UK’s Hadley Center.

Scientists have long known that the overwhelming majority of human-caused warming was expected to go into the oceans (see figure below).  And many have suspected that deep ocean warming has also been masking surface warming.

Now a new study led by led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) finds that may indeed be the case:

The planet’s deep oceans at times may absorb enough heat to flatten the rate of global warming for periods of as long as a decade even in the midst of longer-term warming….

The study, based on computer simulations of global climate, points to ocean layers deeper than 1,000 feet (300 meters) as the main location of the “missing heat” during periods such as the past decade when global air temperatures showed little trend. The findings also suggest that several more intervals like this can be expected over the next century, even as the trend toward overall warming continues….

“This study suggests the missing energy has indeed been buried in the ocean,” [coauthor Kevin] Trenberth says. “The heat has not disappeared, and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences.”

These potential consequences include accelerated warming in the coming decade and melting of  the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Let’s take these two in order.

The heat may have been carried deep into the ocean by overturning circulations, which can plunge surface water from the subtropical regions into the ocean’s depths. The burying of warmer water also corresponds with La Nina weather patterns, which are born from cooler-than-average surface water temperatures in the tropical Pacific. And over the last decade, La Nina conditions have dominated, Trenberth said.

That the heat is buried in the ocean, and not lost into space, is troublesome, Trenberth said, since the heat energy isn’t likely to stay in the ocean forever, perhaps releasing back into the atmosphere during a strong El Nino, when sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific are warmer than average.

“It can come back quite fast,” he said. “The energy is not lost, and it can come back to haunt us, so to speak, in the future.”

I asked Trenberth whether we might see a decade where warming is a tad faster than expected, and he emailed me, “Yes.”  Once the decade of slower warming “is over, the subsequent warming can play catchup.”

This idea that the ocean can mediate periods when human-caused global warming is faster and slower is not new.  Indeed, Dr. Mojib Latif, head of the Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics Division at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences, came to the exact same conclusion in a widely misunderstood 2008 article (see “Nature article on ‘cooling’ confuses media, deniers: Next decade may see rapid warming”).

Here was Latif’s Nature “forecast” — the green dashed line (click to enlarge) — notice the accelerated “catch up” surface warming this decade:

For more explanation of this figure, see here.

A key point from recent observation is that whatever slight slowing in global warming some groups may have observed in the past decade, it was primarily in the surface temperature data set.  The oceans kept warming (see “Sorry Deniers, the Oceans are Still Warming as Predicted“):

Figure 1:   Revised estimate of global ocean heat content (10-1500 mtrs deep) for 2005-2010 derived from Argo measurements. The 6-yr trend accounts for 0.55±0.10Wm?2. Error bars and trend uncertainties exclude errors induced by remaining systematic errors in the global observing system. See Von Schuckmann & Le Traon (2011).  Via Skeptical Science.

A 2009 NOAA-led study, “An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950” (subs. req’d, release here) concluded:

[S]ince 1950, the planet released about 20 percent of the warming influence of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to outer space as infrared energy. Volcanic emissions lingering in the stratosphere offset about 20 percent of the heating by bouncing solar radiation back to space before it reached the surface. Cooling from the lower-atmosphere aerosols produced by humans balanced 50 percent of the heating. Only the remaining 10 percent of greenhouse-gas warming actually went into heating the Earth, and almost all of it went into the ocean.

Note that this Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres study was done “without using global climate models.”

“Total Earth Heat Content [anomaly] from 1950 (Murphy et al. 2009). Ocean data taken from Domingues et al 2008.”

There is a second consequence of ocean warming, of course.  As Climate Progress reported last December, “Deep ocean heat is rapidly melting Antarctic ice“:

“Warm waters carried by the Antarctic Circumpolar Current are brushing the ice front in the western part of the continent, in the area of the Bellingshausen Sea.”

Antarctica is disintegrating much faster than almost anybody imagined — see “Nothing in the natural world is lost at an accelerating exponential rate like this glacier.” In 2001, the IPCC “consensus” said neither Greenland nor Antarctica would lose significant mass by 2100. They both already are.  As Penn State climatologist Richard Alley said in March 2006, the ice sheets appear to be shrinking “100 years ahead of schedule.”

A presentation at the fall 2010 meeting of the American Geophysical Union sheds some light on the underlying cause of this rapid melt — the ice is being attacked from the bottom.  Discovery News had the story:

Global warming is sneaky. For more than a century it has been hiding large amounts of excess heat in the world’s deep seas. Now that heat is coming to the surface again in one of the worst possible places: Antarctica.

New analyses of the heat content of the waters off Western Antarctic Peninsula are now showing a clear and exponential increase in warming waters undermining the sea ice, raising air temperatures, melting glaciers and wiping out entire penguin colonies.

“In the area I work there is the highest increase in temperatures of anywhere on Earth,” said physical oceanographer Doug Martinson of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Martinson has been collecting ocean water heat content data for more than 18 years at Palmer Island, on the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula.

And that was updated in a June post, Ocean Currents Speed Melting of Antarctic Ice, as “Seawater Appear[s] to Boil on the Surface Like a Kettle on the Stove.” The news release by Columbia University’s Earth Institute explained:

Stronger ocean currents beneath West Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf are eroding the ice from below, speeding the melting of the glacier as a whole, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. A growing cavity beneath the ice shelf has allowed more warm water to melt the ice, the researchers say—a process that feeds back into the ongoing rise in global sea levels. The glacier is currently sliding into the sea at a clip of four kilometers (2.5 miles) a year, while its ice shelf is melting at about 80 cubic kilometers a year – 50 percent faster than it was in the early 1990s – the paper estimates.

This new study, “Stronger ocean circulation and increased melting under Pine Island Glacier ice shelf” (subs. req’d), gives us a better understanding of just how PIG is being undermined from underneath: “We conclude that the basal melting has exceeded the increase in ice inflow, leading to the formation and enlargement of an inner cavity under the ice shelf within which sea water nearly 4?C above freezing can now more readily access the grounding zone.

Here is a particularly remarkable observation the scientific team made one day:

One day, near the southern edge of Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf, the researchers directly observed the strength of the melting process as they watched frigid,  seawater appear to boil on the surface like a kettle on the stove. To Jacobs, it suggested that deep water, buoyed by added fresh glacial melt, was rising to the surface in a process called upwelling. Jacobs had never witnessed upwelling first hand, but colleagues had described something similar in the fjords of Greenland, where summer runoff and melting glacier fronts can also drive buoyant plumes to the sea surface.

As Trenberth said, “The heat has not disappeared, and so it cannot be ignored. It must have consequences.”

Finally, some of you may recall a certain controversy from a certain email:

The discovery of the heat, which the researchers say is likely locked deep in the ocean, sheds light on a controversial email that was written by one of the study’s co-authors, Kevin Trenberth, in 2009. The email was one of hundreds that hackers stole from a server at the University of East Anglia nearly two years ago.

In the email, Trenberth wrote, “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”

Climate change skeptics immediately seized on the email as proof that global warming wasn’t real. But from the beginning, Trenberth argued that he was referring to holes in scientists’ ability to measure how heat moves through the climate system.

I discussed Trenberth’s response at the time here.  I emailed Trenberth to ask, “Does this close the chapter on your ‘travesty’ comment?  He replied:

It helps close the chapter, but more observational studies are needed.  We plan to do those but await better datasets.

More Policy Questions, Please
I certainly agree with Jonathan Bernstein that it would be nice for debate moderates (and, indeed, journalists in other contexts) to emulate “regular people” and ask more about policy and do fewer gotcha questions. I’m not normally the kind of person inclined to praise the simple homespun wisdom of the American people, but on this […]

I certainly agree with Jonathan Bernstein that it would be nice for debate moderates (and, indeed, journalists in other contexts) to emulate “regular people” and ask more about policy and do fewer gotcha questions. I’m not normally the kind of person inclined to praise the simple homespun wisdom of the American people, but on this one the masses are right.

The underlying problem, I think, is that unlike most people political reporters tend to be interested in politics. It’s kind of like how hockey writers, unlike most people, are interested in hockey. The difference is that public policy is actually really important to people’s lives. So while ordinary people are hardly policy wonks insofar as they care about politics it’s because they have some concern about public policy. What I think debate moderates could most usefully do is raise some policy questions that are less obvious than the ones you get from the man on the street. We’ve five debates into this thing, and still nobody’s gotten a question about the eurozone crisis or the US-Taiwan-China relationship. It’s a big world out there, and most people don’t pay too much attention to it until disaster strikes and the domestic impact becomes obvious.