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Archive for July 14th, 2014

What Rick Perry’s Iraq Attack Says About Rand Paul

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

What Rick Perry’s Iraq Attack Says About Rand Paul
The squabble demonstrates how far the Kentucky senator has already come.

World Cup title ends 10-year project for Germany
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The World Cup title for Joachim Loew and his “golden generation” crowned a process that was 10 years in the making. With a talented crop of new players coming through, the future looks bright for Germany.

Coast Guard frees sailboat trapped in Arctic ice
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard has freed a Canadian sailboat that became trapped in Arctic ice off the north coast of Alaska.


New Rolling Stone Profile Shows Why Media Should Stop Mainstreaming Pro-Gun Extremist Larry Pratt

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

New Rolling Stone Profile Shows Why Media Should Stop Mainstreaming Pro-Gun Extremist Larry Pratt

A new profile of Larry Pratt, the odious executive director of fringe group Gun Owners of America (GOA) documents Pratt’s lengthy history of extremism while noting that he is still treated by media as an authority in the gun debate.

The Pratt profile, authored by The American Independent Institute (TAII) fellow Alexander Zaitchik, was published July 14 as part of a RollingStone.com package, “America’s Gun Violence Epidemic.” Other articles in the series include an interview with former New York City mayor and gun violence prevention advocate Michael Bloomberg, a message from Richard Martinez, whose son was murdered in the recent Isla Vista, California mass shooting, stories from gunshot wound survivors, and an interactive map on gun violence in America. 

Interspersed with accounts of Pratt’s association with anti-Semitic and white supremacist groups, his call for the quarantine of AIDS victims, his support for the death squads of a genocidal dictator, and his longstanding engagement with bizarre anti-government conspiracy theories, Zaitchik recounts how Pratt is regularly called on by mainstream media outlets to participate in the debate over gun laws.

Indeed, a Media Matters analysis of cable news and major newspapers finds that media regularly turns to Pratt despite his place in the far-right wing fringe. Since the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Pratt has appeared during evening and Sunday programming on CNN seven times and three times each on MSNBC and Fox News.


The Medicaid Paralysis

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

The Medicaid Paralysis
Robert Samuelson, RealClearPolitics
WASHINGTON — The White House recently put out a 40-page report arguing that the 24 states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) are hurting their poor and themselves. It’s an easy case to make, but it’s incomplete and misleading. The further truth is that Medicaid also threatens to crowd out spending for many traditional state and local functions: schools, police, roads, libraries and more. Indeed, this has been happening for decades. From 1989 to 2013, the share of states’ general funds devoted to Medicaid has risen from 9 percent to 19…

Democrats Have Their Own Problems
Salena Zito, RealClearPolitics
BOSTON, Pa.c – In 2007, Marilyn said, she was unwaveringly confident of a couple of things: Democrats would win the presidency, Hillary Clinton would be their nominee and the “party of the people” (of which she is a proud member) would control Congress for at least a generation. “Well, I guess I got one thing right,” she said of a Democrat winning the presidency as she hoisted her bike on the back of her car after riding along the Great Allegheny Passage. The “40-something” mechanical engineer, who won’t give her last name, said she is unsure of more things…


MEPs to approve Juncker nomination

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

MEPs to approve Juncker nomination
MEPs are expected to approve the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission, despite UK opposition.

Butler-Sloss quits abuse inquiry
Baroness Butler-Sloss steps down as the head of an inquiry into historical child abuse – the home secretary responds by insisting she does not regret appointing her.

Scotland set for new internet domain
A new internet domain for Scotland is being launched, allowing people to choose a .scot web or email address for the first time.


White House looks at executive actions on immigration reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

White House looks at executive actions on immigration reform
The White House is looking for ways to help business owners.


Open Source: Israelis Watch Bombs Drop on Gaza From Front-Row Seats

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Open Source: Israelis Watch Bombs Drop on Gaza From Front-Row Seats
An image of Israeli spectators gathered on the high ground above Gaza to cheer the destruction below has reverberated online.



Ex-Judge Leading Inquiry Into Child Abuse in Britain Steps Down
The former judge, Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, said some groups cited concerns of a conflict of interest because her brother was attorney general in the 1980s.



World Briefing : India: Court Stays Executions for 2 Convicted in Gang-Rape Case
The Supreme Court of India on Monday temporarily stayed the execution of two men convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012, said their lawyer, A. P. Singh, in a case that drew international attention, prompted an outcry in India and led to the strengthening of sexual assault laws in the country.




Scientists Just Discovered A New Key Reason Why Cities Get So Hot

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Scientists Just Discovered A New Key Reason Why Cities Get So Hot

Scientists have long been aware of the “urban heat island” effect — the tendency of large cities to get 1.8 to 5.4°F warmer than surrounding areas in the day, and 22°F warmer at night.

The post Scientists Just Discovered A New Key Reason Why Cities Get So Hot appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Sunset in London during the summer time.

Sunset in London during the summer time.

CREDIT: Shutterstock

Scientists have long been aware of the “urban heat island” effect — the tendency of large cities to get 1.8 to 5.4°F warmer than surrounding areas in the day, and 22°F warmer at night. The assumption has been that this was because all the concrete and other structures stored up heat, and the lack of vegetation reduced evaporation.

But a new study published last week in Nature says that’s not entirely right: convection, or the movement of air through the city, plays a big role in the daytime. The lack of vegetation and the presence of urban structures still matters, but because of their effect on air movement rather than on evaporation: “The ‘rougher’ surfaces of the vegetation triggers turbulence, and turbulence removes heat from the surface to the atmosphere,” said Lei Zhao, a doctoral student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and the study’s lead author. “But where there is a smoother surface, there is less convection and the heat will be trapped in the surface.”

Interestingly, this effect on convection actually played much different roles depending on whether a city is found in wetter or drier climates. In dry areas like the American southwest, vegetation is shorter and scrubbier, which makes the rural areas far less adept at dissipating heat. As a result, urban areas actually become comparably more efficient at releasing heat back into the atmosphere, making the cities about 1.5°F cooler. But in wetter climates, urbanization reduces the efficiency of convection by as much as 58 percent.

The study examined 65 different cities in the U.S. and Canada, using satellite data of land surface temperatures and vegetation cover. The researchers then applied various climate models to the data to tease out the contributions of different variables — such as radiation, convection, evaporation, heat storage, and human-generated heat — to the heat island effect.

“One of the major barriers to mitigating the effects of UHI [urban heat island effect] is the lack of quantitative attribution of the contributing factors,” continued Zhao.

One unfortunate take-away from the study is that managing convection effects will be largely impossible, since it would require massive alterations to the height and structural design of buildings in cities throughout the country. An alternative possibility the researchers brought up was changing “albedo” — the amount of solar radiation reflected back out to space from various city surfaces like rooftops and roads — to reduce the absorption of heat in cities. Studies have shown that while both white roofs and “green” roofs — ones planted with vegetation or gardens — have various advantages, the white roofs tend to to the best job of reflecting heat, which also comes with energy savings from the reduced need for cooling. It’s an approach to climate adaptation that multiple American cities are already taking on of their own accord.

Another concern is the danger of future heat waves, and how those will interact with the convection problems in some cities. “There is a synergistic relationship between climate conditions and the urban heat island,” said Xuhui Lee, the Sara Shallenberger Brown Professor of Meteorology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and another one of the study’s authors. “This relationship suggests that the urban heat island will exacerbate heat wave stress on human health in wet climates where temperature effects are already compounded by high humidity.”

“This is a huge concern from a public health perspective.”

A recent study by Climate Central showed that U.S. summers are already warmer than in the 1970s, and by the end of this century Boston could be seeing the same kinds of summers that Miami sees now. Another recent granular study of the risks climate change poses throughout the American economy warned that heat waves could have significant impacts on both human safety and worker productivity by 2100, especially in the eastern half of the country.

About 3.5 billion people, or more than half the global population, already live in cities according to the World Health Organization. And by 2050, the group projects that portion will rise to 70 percent of the people on Earth living in urban areas.

Update

This post has been edited for clarity.

The post Scientists Just Discovered A New Key Reason Why Cities Get So Hot appeared first on ThinkProgress.

How Bad Medicine Is Sweeping The Country, One State At A Time

In most states, health decisions are determined by politicians instead of doctors.

The post How Bad Medicine Is Sweeping The Country, One State At A Time appeared first on ThinkProgress.

women's health

CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons via Stephen Melkisethian

In the majority of this country, Americans’ medical care is determined by politicians instead of by doctors. That’s because a wave of anti-choice legislation has completely reoriented the women’s health landscape, ensuring that medical professionals are forced to ignore their best judgment in order to remain compliant with the law, according to a new report from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

“Politics are taking over our exam rooms and that is a dangerous, disturbing trend,” the National Partnership’s president, Debra L. Ness, noted in a statement released to coincide with the new findings. “More and more, lawmakers across the country are enacting laws that mandate how health care providers must practice medicine.”

Ness’ group argues that four different anti-abortion restrictions — unnecessary ultrasound requirements, biased counseling sessions, mandatory waiting periods, and regulations on the abortion pill — fall into a broad “bad medicine” category. Even though there’s no scientific evidence to justify those policies, they’re incredibly common. Thirty three states currently have at least one of those laws on the books, and 16 states have enacted all four types:

bad medicine map

CREDIT: National Partnership for Women & Families


For instance, 26 states require abortion patients to wait 24, 48, or even 72 hours before receiving medical care. That forces their doctors to delay a time-sensitive procedure regardless of their professional opinion about whether the abortion should wait. A growing number of states are passing laws that require doctors to follow an outdated protocol for administering the abortion pill, which actually forces them to violate current practice and give their patients an unnecessarily high dosage of the medication. And ultrasound and counseling laws — which are each in place in more than 20 states — often make doctors present their patients with implicit anti-abortion messages that communicates they’re making the wrong choice, even if they’d rather not approach the medical procedure that way.

“It is time to take politics out of the exam room and return abortion care to women and their health care providers,” the report concludes.

Indeed, doctors have been speaking out about these type of state laws for years. Medical professionals frequently testify against proposed state-level abortion restrictions, pointing out they’ll unfairly intrude into the doctor-patient relationship. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the biggest group of OB-GYNs in the country, has officially come out against state-level abortion laws that interfere with their work. “Nowhere is legislative interference more rampant than in the world of women’s health care,” the group’s senior director of government affairs pointed out last year.

But the state legislators who are insistent on limiting abortion services tend to disregard medical professionals’ opinions. Even when lawmakers admit they’re not qualified to make decisions about women’s health, that’s not necessarily enough to stop them from imposing new laws in this area. A particularly clear example of this dynamic was recently evident in Ohio: After a state legislator there introduced a measure to limit low-income women’s access to certain types of contraception based on the false assertion that they can induce abortion, he acknowledged, “This is just a personal view. I’m not a medical doctor.”

The National Partnership for Women & Families isn’t the only organization working to highlight this issue. Last month, the Center for Inquiry, a secular humanist organization that works to promote scientific reason, launched a new campaign to fight to keep junk science out of government. The “Keep Health Care Safe and Secular” project hopes to encourage more Americans to fight back against the laws that limit women’s access to health services. Similarly, NARAL Pro-Choice America sometimes uses the slogan “Politicians Make Crappy Doctors.”

The push to keep abortion-related laws grounded in scientific fact has also made its way to Congress. Last year, a group of Senate Democrats unveiled the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013, a measure that stipulates new abortion regulations shouldn’t require doctors to go against their best judgment. That measure — a somewhat historic piece of proactive legislation within a political environment focused on limiting abortion rights — will go before a Senate committee on Tuesday.

The post How Bad Medicine Is Sweeping The Country, One State At A Time appeared first on ThinkProgress.


Bastille Day, Individualism and the Concept of Progress—in 1939

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on July 14th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Bastille Day, Individualism and the Concept of Progress—in 1939
From: Back Issues

Reflections on the meaning of the French Revolution in the shadow of Adolf Hitler.

Hobby Lobby Is Now Discriminating Against a Transgender Employee
From: Michelle Chen

After being denied access to workplace facilities for being transgender, a Hobby Lobby employee is now pressing a discrimination case with the Illinois Human Rights Commission. 

Christie Accelerates 2016 Travels, GOP Fundraising
From: The Christie Watch

He’s trying to put Bridgegate behind him.

In Politics and Art, ‘Stories Are Dangerous’
From: Leslie Savan

In fact, says theater director Anne Bogart, stories can be “fascistic.”