Thursday, June 28, 2012
Ever since the Washington Post published a widely read piece last week whose central premise was that when Mitt Romney ran Bain Capital the firm invested in companies that shipped U.S. jobs abroad, President Obama, Vice President Biden and other Democrats have repeatedly cited it.
They've used it to argue that Romney's brand of business experience would be bad for U.S. workers. The Obama campaign even made the story the basis of campaign ads.
Romney's aides insisted that the Post story was wrong in its central claim as well as in its specifics. And they demanded that the paper retract the piece, an action that would, if nothing else, have crimped Obama's use of the article as evidence against Romney.
The Post isn't going to retract the article, according toPolitico.com. So Team Obama will keep using it to tie Romney to the business practice of outsourcing jobs to workers overseas.
Those charges are clearly meant to undermine Romney's central argument for his candidacy, that by dint of his experience he would be a better creator of American jobs.
While this obviously must be a good thing from the Obama campaign's perspective, it's not exactly an unalloyed positive.
One of the president's major donors and bundlers, Jonathan Lavine, a Bain Capital executive and member of the Boston Celtics ownership group, has been drawn into the outsourcing controversy, too, as ABC News reported.
Still, the Obama campaign has a ready response, according to ABC: Lavine isn't running to be president, Romney is.
So the Post story doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. And as some have waggishly noted, Team Romney seems to be doing a good job of keeping it alive.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
"I don’t want people to matter to me too much. Sometimes it hurts too much to think about them. Ones you love who don’t love you, ones who are dead or hate you, ones who you think about but never get to be with. I like people but when I get too close, it fucks me up and I can’t get things done."
— Henry Rollins
Library of Congress: Books that Shaped America
The Library of Congress, the world’s largest repository of knowledge and information, began a multiyear “Celebration of the Book” with an exhibition on “Books That Shaped America.” The initial books in the exhibition are displayed below.“This list is a starting point,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books – although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not.”
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain 1884
- Alcoholics Anonymous anonymous 1939
- American Cookery Amelia Simmons 1796
- The American Woman’s Home Catharine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe 1869
- And the Band Played On Randy Shilts 1987
- Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand 1957
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X Malcolm X and Alex Haley 1965
- Beloved Toni Morrison 1987
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Dee Brown 1970
- The Call of the Wild Jack London 1903
- The Cat in the Hat Dr. Seuss 1957
- Catch-22 Joseph Heller 1961
- The Catcher in the Rye J.D. Salinger 1951
- Charlotte’s Web E.B. White 1952
- Common Sense Thomas Paine 1776
- The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care Benjamin Spock 1946
- Cosmos Carl Sagan 1980
- A Curious Hieroglyphick Bible anonymous 1788
- The Double Helix James D. Watson 1968
- The Education of Henry Adams Henry Adams 1907
- Experiments and Observations on Electricity Benjamin Franklin 1751
- Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury 1953
- Family Limitation Margaret Sanger 1914
- The Federalist anonymous 1787
- The Feminine Mystique Betty Friedan 1963
- The Fire Next Time James Baldwin 1963
- For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway 1940
- Gone With the Wind Margaret Mitchell 1936
- Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brown 1947
- A Grammatical Institute of the English Language Noah Webster 1783
- The Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck 1939
- The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald 1925
- Harriet, the Moses of Her People Sarah H. Bradford 1901
- The History of Standard Oil Ida Tarbell 1904
- History of the Expedition Under the Command of the Captains Lewis and Clark Meriwether Lewis 1814
- How the Other Half Lives Jacob Riis 1890
- How to Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie 1936
- Howl Allen Ginsberg 1956
- The Iceman Cometh Eugene O’Neill 1946
- Idaho: A Guide in Word and Pictures Federal Writers’ Project 1937
- In Cold Blood Truman Capote 1966
- Invisible Man Ralph Ellison 1952
- Joy of Cooking Irma Rombauer 1931
- The Jungle Upton Sinclair 1906
- Leaves of Grass Walt Whitman 1855
- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Washington Irving 1820
- Little Women, or Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy Louisa May Alcott 1868
- Mark, the Match Boy Horatio Alger Jr. 1869
- McGuffey’s Newly Revised Eclectic Primer William Holmes McGuffey 1836
- Moby-Dick; or The Whale Herman Melville 1851
- The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass Frederick Douglass 1845
- Native Son Richard Wright 1940
- New England Primer anonymous 1803
- New Hampshire Robert Frost 1923
- On the Road Jack Kerouac 1957
- Our Bodies, Ourselves Boston Women’s Health Book Collective 1971
- Our Town: A Play Thornton Wilder 1938
- Peter Parley’s Universal History Samuel Goodrich 1837
- Poems Emily Dickinson 1890
- Poor Richard Improved and The Way to Wealth Benjamin Franklin 1758
- Pragmatism William James 1907
- The Private Life of the Late Benjamin Franklin, LL.D. Benjamin Franklin 1793
- The Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane 1895
- Red Harvest Dashiell Hammett 1929
- Riders of the Purple Sage Zane Grey 1912
- The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne 1850
- Sexual Behavior in the Human Male Alfred C. Kinsey 1948
- Silent Spring Rachel Carson 1962
- The Snowy Day Ezra Jack Keats 1962
- The Souls of Black Folk W.E.B. Du Bois 1903
- The Sound and the Fury William Faulkner 1929
- Spring and All William Carlos Williams 1923
- Stranger in a Strange Land Robert E. Heinlein 1961
- A Street in Bronzeville Gwendolyn Brooks 1945
- A Streetcar Named Desire Tennessee Williams 1947
- A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America Christopher Colles 1789
- Tarzan of the Apes Edgar Rice Burroughs 1914
- Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston 1937
- To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee 1960
- A Treasury of American Folklore Benjamin A. Botkin 1944
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Betty Smith 1943
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe 1852
- Unsafe at Any Speed Ralph Nader 1965
- Walden; or Life in the Woods Henry David Thoreau 1854
- The Weary Blues Langston Hughes 1925
- Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak 1963
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum 1900
- The Words of Cesar Chavez Cesar Chavez 2002
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
Sea level rise on the U.S. East Coast has accelerated much faster than in other parts of the world—roughly three to four times the global average, a new study says.
Calling the heavily populated region a sea level rise hot spot, researchers warn that cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore could face a more flood-prone future.
Sea levels worldwide are expected to rise as global warming melts ice and causes water to expand. Those levels, though, are expected to vary from place to place, due to factors such as ocean currents, differences in seawater temperature and saltiness, and the Earth's shape.
Now it seems scientists have pinpointed just such a variance.
Analyzing tide-level data from much of North America, U.S. Geological Surveyscientists unexpectedly found that sea levels in the 600-mile (1,000-kilometer) stretch of coast from Cape Hatteras (map), North Carolina, to the Boston area climbed by about 2 to 3.8 millimeters a year, on average, between 1950 and 2009.
Global sea level rise averaged about 0.6 to 1 millimeter annually over the same period.
"If you talk with residents of this hot spot area in their 70s or 80s who've lived there all their lives, they'll tell you water is coming higher now in winter storms than it ever did before," said study co-author Peter Howd, an oceanographer contracted with the USGS.
"We're now finally getting to the point where we can measure their observations with our highfalutin scientific instruments."
(Sea sea level rise pictures.)
Flood of Data
At New York City, the team extrapolated, sea levels could rise by 7.8 to 11.4 inches (20 to 29 centimeters) by 2100—in addition to the roughly 3 feet (1 meter) of average sea level rise expected worldwide by then. (Related: "New York Seas to Rise Twice as Much as Rest of U.S.")
For residents of New York and cities up and down the eastern seaboard, those numbers should become a lot more than ink on paper.
"The first thing people will see from this is an increase over the next few decades in the low-level coastal flooding that occurs now with wintertime storms," Howd said.
"Eventually you'll see coastal flooding events three to four times a year instead of once every three to four years."
But it's not just cities that are expected to suffer.
"The northeast coast of the U.S. is flat," said climate modeler Jianjun Yin at the University of Arizona, who did not participate in this research. "Even gradual sea level rise could cause rapid retreat of shoreline and significant loss of wetland habitats."
Mysteries of East Coast Sea Level Rise
It's still something of a mystery why the U.S. East Coast is bearing the brunt of sea level rise. Maybe, the researchers say, fresh water from Greenland's melting ice is disrupting North Atlantic currents, slowing the Gulf Stream and causing East Coast sea levels to rise.
It's also unclear to what extent humans may be to blame.
"This could be part of a natural cycle maybe 100 to 200 years long. Or not," study ao-author Howd said. "We need more data over years to help build climate models and greater understanding."
The team cautions too that the East Coast may not be alone.
"We're now looking into extending our analysis to see if hot spots in sea level rise show up in other places around the globe," said USGS oceanographer Kara Doran, who co-authored the study, published June 24 by the journal Nature Climate Change.
Nothing to See Here?
The new findings come at a particularly interesting political moment in one of the states in the sea level hot zone.
Concerned over regulations that could result from recent sea level rise forecasts, some North Carolina legislators have drafted a bill requiring that future state sea level forecasts be based on only past patterns.
"Trying to ban the use of the best science for sea level predictions is absurd," said University of Pennsylvania coastal geologist Ben Horton, who wasn't part of the new study.
NASA climate scientist Josh Willis agreed, adding that such efforts "are sort of a case of human nature trying to outwit Mother Nature, and Mother Nature usually wins that battle of wits.
"It's really shortsighted to assume that the next hundred years of sea level rise are going to be like the last hundred years," Willis added. "We're already seeing glaciers and ice sheets melt more quickly, and the ocean absorbing more heat and expanding—things that drive sea level rise."
Rare cave pearls fill dried-out terrace pools near the Garden of Edam in Hang Son Doong. This unusually large collection of stone spheres formed drip by drip over the centuries as calcite crystals left behind by water layered themselves around grains of sand, enlarging over time.
Three volcanoes, quiet now, formed Easter Island half a million years ago. It has three crater lakes but no streams; fresh water is scarce. Chile, the island's source of fuel and most food, is 2,150 miles away.
Pictured with a crab emerging from its middle, this likely new species ofEpizoanthus coral has polyps that, when extended, resemble its close relative the sea anemone.
The coral settles on snail shells occupied by hermit crabs. As the coral grows, it completely engulfs the shell. "The hermit crab's mobile home is now a feeding station" for the coral, too, Clark said.
The stalked barnacle species Vulcanolepis osheaii form large beds on several seamounts of the southern Kermadec Ridge.
Found at depths of 2,300 to 3,300 feet (700 to 1,000 meters), the species' stalks are covered with sulfide-eating bacteria.
"These bacteria utilise the sulphides in the vent fluids and surrounding waters, and in turn the barnacles feed on the bacteria—so in a way the barnacles grow their own prey!" Clark said.
Unlike reef-building corals that form giant colonies, cup corals—such as thisStephanocyathus platypus, found 3,200 feet (1,000 meters) down—live solitary lives in their cuplike limestone exterior skeletons, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Up to 3.5 inches (9 centimeters) wide, the largest cup corals are found in New Zealand waters.
Scientists located the small crab Trichopeltarion janetae (pictured) amid rocks on the summit of a 3,000-foot-deep (900-meter-deep) seamount.
Described for the first time in 2008, the "hairy" crustacean has been previously found only on seamounts off New Zealand and southern Australia, Clark said.
Female black dragonfish—such as this newfound specimen of the Idiacanthusgenus—are "fierce predators" of small fish. But "interestingly, male dragonfish lack teeth and a functional gut, and are thought to live only long enough to breed," Clark said.
With a silicon-based skeleton, a new species of "beautiful and fragile" honeycomb glass sponge of the Farrea genus was found on a seamount at 3,100 feet (950 meters) deep—and it wasn't alone.
"The little shrimp making its home in the sponge network probably belongs to the Axiidae, a family of ghost shrimp," Clark said.
Found in a canyon about 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) deep, this unidentified jellyfish is likely a type of Atolla, a genus of crown jellyfish that dwells only at depth.
"The long tentacles of the jellyfish drift behind it to catch a prey of small bioluminescent zooplankton," Clark said.
"The dark red bell of the jellyfish would be invisible in its deep-sea habitat," he added.
Found between depths of 2,130 feet (650 meters) and 4,600 feet (1,400 meters), this squat lobster of the Uroptychus genus isn't the first known specimen of its kind, but its species hasn't yet been formally recognized.
These deep-sea lobsters are almost exclusively found in association with deep-sea corals. In this case the animals were found attached to a bamboo coral.
In the dead of Martian winter, the snowflakes that blanket the planet's poles are no bigger than red blood cells, according to a new study of the icy particles.
The results suggest that, rather than resembling a blizzard, Mars snow would probably look like fog as it fell.
Previous data from NASA's Phoenix mission revealed snow falling near the red planet's north pole as the seasons turned from summer to fall. At the time the air was relatively warm, so those ice crystals were most likely made from water, scientists say.
But when temperatures drop in winter to -193 degrees Fahrenheit (-125 degrees Celsius), it gets cold enough for carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere to freeze, creating clouds of dry ice that can reach from the poles to halfway to the equator.
So far, no Mars landers have survived near the poles during winter. So to learn more about the carbon dioxide snow, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology analyzed data spanning 15 years and gathered by NASA orbiters.
Measuring Snowflakes From Orbit
Information from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter helped scientists predict where the clouds are likely to form, based on the temperature and pressure conditions under which such snow can develop.
In addition, the snow and frost deposits add enough mass each winter to alter the planet's gravitational field by a tiny amount.
Using gravity data from the Mars Global Surveyor, the team estimated how much carbon dioxide snow piles up at both poles seasonally. That probe also showed the amount of light reflected by snow clouds, which helped the researchers determine the clouds' density.
Combining the data, the team was able to pinpoint the number and sizes of snow particles within the clouds.
Around the south pole, carbon dioxide snow particles ranged from 4 to 13 microns—for comparison, the average human red blood cell is 6 to 8 microns wide.
Around the north pole, where the atmosphere is much denser, snow particles range from 8 to 22 microns. On Earth snowflakes tend to be much bigger, around ten millimeters wide.
Snow Size Affects Mars Climate?
Knowing the size of snowflakes on Mars could be "very helpful" in understanding the overall properties of the Martian atmosphere, according to study co-authorKerri Cahoy of MIT.
Drops of precipitation, including snow crystals, usually form around atmospheric particles such as dust.
But it could be that carbon dioxide snow particles don't need dust grains to form—instead they somehow coalesce directly from the air, Cahoy said.
In addition, the size and composition of Martian snow influences which wavelengths of sunlight the ice crystals absorb and reflect, said study co-authorRenyu Hu, also at MIT.
A better understanding of how the snow particles range in size may therefore yield insight into how much of the sun's energy the planet absorbs—the process that drives Martian climate.
The Mars-snow study will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.
The political impact of Monday's Supreme Court ruling that three of four provisions of Arizona's immigration enforcement law are unconstitutional — and that a fourth could eventually be found to be — certainly appeared, at first blush, to be a significant political win for President Obama.
The Obama administration, after all, had challenged Arizona's controversial SB 1070 legislation as usurping the federal government's power to enforce the nation's immigration laws, a stance the high court mostly agreed with.
Because many Latinos and immigrant-rights groups found the Arizona law to be repellent owing to features they feared would encourage racial profiling and discrimination, that the Obama administration sided with them had already helped the president deepen his support with Hispanic voters.
The 5-3 decision from a conservative court in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined the majority only strengthens the president's argument that he was right, and Arizona officials wrong on an issue with special significance to a key bloc of voters — Latinos — whose support he is counting on for re-election.
For the same reason, the Supreme Court decision seemingly complicates the political picture for Mitt Romney, the all-but-official Republican presidential nominee. Romney, who took a hard-line immigration stance during the Republican primaries, has been forced to try to walk the tightrope between appealing to conservatives wanting tougher enforcement while at the same time doing what he can to keep the wide gap in Latino support that exists between him and the president from getting any wider.
The statements issued by both Obama and Romney captured the differences in their situations. Obama welcomed the Supreme Court decision and vowed that his administration would police Arizona's use of the so-called papers-please provision the court upheld. That provision requires Arizona police to inquire about the immigration status of people stopped for other causes if the police have reason to suspect someone's immigration status. Obama said:
"I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law. What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform. A patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system — it's part of the problem."At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally. I agree with the Court that individuals cannot be detained solely to verify their immigration status. No American should ever live under a cloud of suspicion just because of what they look like. Going forward, we must ensure that Arizona law enforcement officials do not enforce this law in a manner that undermines the civil rights of Americans, as the Court's decision recognizes ..."
In his statement, Romney blasted the president but did not specifically say whether he agreed with the Supreme Court's ruling:
"Today's decision underscores the need for a President who will lead on this critical issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to pursue a national immigration strategy. President Obama has failed to provide any leadership on immigration. This represents yet another broken promise by this President. I believe that each state has the duty — and the right — to secure our borders and preserve the rule of law, particularly when the federal government has failed to meet its responsibilities. As Candidate Obama, he promised to present an immigration plan during his first year in office. But 4 years later, we are still waiting."
Gary Segura, a Stanford University political scientist, viewed the decision as a decidedly mixed one for Latinos, since the most repugnant part of the law to them, police inquiries into immigration status, survived.
But he saw the decision as having substantial benefits for Obama, giving the president the best of both worlds:
"I think it's a huge win for two reasons. First, losing on that one provision is very likely to mobilize voters. The threat is still there; the threat is still meaningful. But the president and his administration intervened on behalf of Latinos and defeated three of the four provisions. ..."And of course Gov. Romney and the Republicans embrace the part of the law that was upheld. So the president can go to Latino voters and say, 'I had your back. I sued on [your] behalf ... I got three out of four of them overturned. But there's still a threat since Republicans think it's such a great idea.' So, politically, I think it's a huge win for the administration."
Charles Foster, a prominent Houston immigration lawyer, thinks the Supreme Court decision didn't do Romney any favors. Foster, by the way, has been a bipartisan immigration-policy adviser, first to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2003, then to Obama in 2008. He also filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the Justice Department's challenge of the Arizona law.
"This decision puts more pressure on Gov. Romney than on President Obama. The Obama administration has been criticized for having challenged the Arizona law in the Supreme Court, but here you have a fairly conservative court by and large upholding Obama's position that this is a federal issue."On the other hand, Gov. Romney, I think, in ways that didn't really reflect his true beliefs, tactically took hard positions during the primary. He wound up taking the position that adopting Arizona-type laws was a good thing for the states to do."This decision will put him in the potentially awkward position of having to say that as president he would seek federal approval to do precisely what the Supreme Court has struck down."
Not everyone thought that Romney would necessarily have to play defense after the high court decision.
Did Romney need to distance himself from the Arizona law or revise his rhetoric? Scott Cottington, a Minnesota-based Republican consultant and former political director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee was asked:
"No, not necessarily."It seems to me that if a candidate for national office makes statements in support of federalism, and the rights of states to do things even if turned back by the Supreme Court, that's a good thing. States try things, the Supreme Court rules, and there's more clarity. I tend to think that indicates the process is working."What Romney needs to do over the next four of five months, I don't know. I do know that you can't outpander Obama."
Romney's statement provides some clues about what he is likely to continue doing to undermine the president's approval ratings with Latino voters. That is to point out that Obama, who promised comprehensive immigration reform legislation as a presidential candidate in 2008, has failed to deliver. As Segura said:
"What he is trying to do is accentuate the president's failures on immigration which are there, which are meaningful and which, prior to a week ago, I think were a real drag on the enthusiasm of Latino voters."
That was an allusion to the president's announcement that he would essentially implement parts of the DREAM Act legislation stalled in Congress. Besides deferring deportation proceedings for some young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents, the president's move would also allow such immigrants to get work or student visas. Segura said:
"What he's not saying, and what every Latino voter already knows if they pay attention to Jorge Ramos or any Spanish-language media or for that matter, English-language media, is that the obstacle for immigration reform has been and continues to be the Republican Congress."You'll notice that the statement doesn't have any immigration policy in it. It's not the case that Romney's promising to deport less people. It's not the case that Romney's arguing for going beyond the president's suspension of deportation for DREAM-eligible kids. It's none of the above, and he sides with Arizona. Arizona has the right to defend its borders. So I think that has very little effect. They're trying to thread the needle and they're not going to do it."
Still, while unpopular with many Latino voters, the Arizona law has many supporters in the rest of the electorate. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that a solid majority of voters, 58 percent, supported the law while 38 percent didn't.
True, that level of support was down from the 64 percent who two years ago said they approved it, but it was still a substantial majority.
Updated at 6:08 pm — Romney spokesman Rick Gorka had an exchange with reporters on the Romney plane Monday did little to shed much light on the candidate's views. An excerpt fromPolitico.com:
GORKA: "The governor supports the states' rights to craft immigration laws when the federal government has failed to do so. This president promised as a candidate to address immigration in his first year and hasn't, and waited actually 'til four and a half months before the election to put in place a stopgap measure."QUESTION: So does he think it's wrongly decided?GORKA: "The governor supports the states' rights to do this. It's a 10th amendment issue."QUESTION: So he thinks it's constitutional?GORKA: "The governor believes the states have the rights to craft their own immigration laws, especially when the federal government has failed to do so."QUESTION: And what does he think about parts invalidated?GORKA: "What Arizona has done and other states have done is a direct result of the failure of this president to address illegal immigration. It's within their rights to craft those laws and this debate, and the Supreme Court ruling is a direct response of the president failing to address this issue."
And so it went for minutes more.
At an appearance in Scottsdale, AZ, Romney did go beyond his statement of earlier in the day. An excerpt from The Wall Street Journal which reported on what he said at a fundraiser:
npr"Now you probably heard today there was a Supreme Court decision relating to immigration and, you know, given the failure of the immigration policy in this country, I would have preferred to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states not less," Mr. Romney told donors at a Scottsdale, Ariz., fundraiser. "And there are states now under this decision have less authority, less latitude, to enforce immigration laws."
Friday, June 22, 2012
Election Year Activities and the Prohibition on Political Campaign Intervention for Section 501(c)(3) Organizations