The New York Times reports that carbon levels are at their highest in the last three million years:
Carbon dioxide above 400 parts per million was first seen in the Arctic last year, and had also spiked above that level in hourly readings at Mauna Loa. But the average reading for an entire day surpassed that level at Mauna Loa for the first time in the 24 hours that ended at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, according to data from both NOAA and Scripps. ... “It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a Columbia University earth scientist.
From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages, to about 280 during the warm periods between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked.
For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.
Oh, dear, Church of Scotland. Liam Hoare writes for the Jewish Daily Forward:
The injection of theology into the Israeli-Palestinian real estate dispute has rarely proved helpful, particularly in cases where one side seeks to make a claim to all the land at the expense of the other.
The Church of Scotland’s laughably regressive new document, “The Inheritance of Abraham?: A Report on the ‘Promised Land,” which wilfully mischaracterises and then dismisses Jewish claims to a state in Palestine, is equally as unwelcome.
And Emily Hauser writes at the Daily Beast's Open Zion blog:
The IRS has admitted to targetting conservative political groups:
The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday.
Organizations were singled out because they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups.
In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
An apparently less than brilliant Egyptian man stabbed one of the few Americans who might have been sympathetic to his cause:
Mahmoud Badr, 30, who holds a bachelor's degree in commerce, was arrested on Thursday after stabbing American academic Chris Stone in the neck outside the US embassy in Cairo. ...
Chris Stone was recently appointed head of the US-based Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) by the American University in Cairo (AUC).
He has been praised for his pro-Palestine views and his interest in Arab culture.
Social conservatives are going to save the GOP on climate policy:
Mother and daughter Roberta and Michele Combs are pillars of the Religious Right. Roberta, president and CEO of the Christian Coalition America, got her start in Republican politics working with celebrated strategist Lee Atwater. Michele, who was named Young Republican of the Year in 1989 and worked as a planner for events such as George W. Bush’s inauguration, is the coalition’s communications director. With their white-blond bouffant hair, penchant for fuchsia lipstick, soft South Carolina accents, and sterling conservative bona fides, the Combses are familiar presences in the ruby-red heart of the GOP establishment.
That’s why it’s so surprising to many that they are tackling climate change. But both women see global warming, and clean air and environmental protection more broadly, as issues that tie into their core conservative mission of protecting family values.
“This is an important issue for the Republican Party,” Roberta Combs says. “At one point in time, this was a Republican issue, but Democrats took it over.”
The White House still hasn't announced a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, and the New York Times offers a pretty fascinating hypothesis for why it is taking so long:
[C]ould some kind of deal be in the offing — a major climate policy announcement on, for example, power plant regulation or renewable energy incentives — to ease the sting of the pipeline approval?
White House and State Department officials insist a pipeline ruling will be made strictly on whether the 1,700-mile project is in the economic, environmental and security interests of the United States. They say the pipeline is not a fundamental piece of the nation’s climate policy nor is it a political bargaining chip to trade for other measures.
Administration officials have described the pipeline as a relatively simple permit application on an infrastructure project to transport oil from Alberta to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
Remember that unintentional $3,000 subsidy provisional workers would have over U.S. citizens because of the immigration reform conflicting with Obamacare? That still isn't fixed, reports Investor's Business Daily's Jed Graham:
None of the 300 amendments offered for the Senate immigration bill would remove the $3,000 incentive it gives some employers to hire a legalized immigrant over a U.S. citizen.
I've reached out to the offices of Senators who might have interest in fixing this problem, and I'll update as I hear from them.
The New York Times tentatively reports some good news for dog owners:
The nation’s largest cardiovascular health organization has a new message for Americans: Owning a dog may protect you from heart disease.
The unusual message was contained in a scientific statement published on Thursday by the American Heart Association, which convened a panel of experts to review years of data on the cardiovascular benefits of owning a pet. The group concluded that owning a dog, in particular, was “probably associated” with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Witness the Obama administration throwing our nation's intelligence community under the bus, so to say. From ABC's Jonathan Karl:
When it became clear last fall that the CIA’s now discredited Benghazi talking points were flawed, the White House said repeatedly the documents were put together almost entirely by the intelligence community, but White House documents reviewed by Congress suggest a different story.
ABC News has obtained 12 different versions of the talking points that show they were extensively edited as they evolved from the drafts first written entirely by the CIA to the final version distributed to Congress and to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice before she appeared on five talk shows the Sunday after that attack.
At The American Conservative, Jim Antle writes Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, the first southern black woman elected to Congress. As he recalls, she was a vocal advocate for more moderate levels of immigration:
Since then, the country has been plagued by the notion that racism is the only possible motivation for reducing immigration or enforcing immigration laws. There were once courageous liberals like Jordan and to a lesser extent Theodore Hesburgh to whom it was impossible to ascribe such motives who were willing to argue otherwise.
Jordan observed that “it is both a right and a responsibility of a democratic society to manage immigration so that it serves the national interest,” which includes the interests of citizens of every race, and naturalized citizens as well as natives and the “nativists” supposedly advocating on their behalf. The shift from Jordan to Joe Arpaio as the public face of immigration enforcement made a more nuanced restrictionist case even more difficult to make. ...
But nothing could challenge the conventional wisdom more than the reminding Americans that one could march against Jim Crow and advocate more moderate levels of immigration. A figure who could compellingly make that case is sadly missing from our national politics.
Read John Avlon on the useful idea for a compromise that could defuse some of the tension involved with the debt ceiling.
[T]he new responsible Republican proposal, which passed the House Thursday by a vote of 221-207, could be the best way to defuse the debt ceiling from its most destructive impact.
The “Full Faith and Credit Act”, proposed by Republican representative Tom McClintock and backed by powerful House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp would empower the U.S. Treasury to pay down all interest payments on the national debt in the event of a confrontation over raising the debt ceiling. In other words, the link between debt ceiling and the risk of default would be removed. The bill would also ensure that the Social Security Administration could access its own trust fund to pay social security benefits and disability payments on time by allowing the treasury to issue debt specifically tied to these benefits.
I think Adam Serwer is being uncharitable in his attack here on Sen. Mike Lee's amendment to exempt domestic service from the E-Verify requirements:
It's apparently really hard to find good (cheap) help these days, so Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has a modest proposal: Let's allow unauthorized immigrants to work—but only if they're doing low-paid domestic service jobs. Lee's amendment would exempt "services performed by cooks, waiters, butlers, housekeepers, governessess, maids, valets, baby sitters, janitors, laundresses, furnacemen, care-takers, handymen, gardeners, footmen, grooms, and chauffeurs of automobiles for family use" from "prohibitions on unlawful employment of unauthorized aliens." Next: An amendment that would allow employers to feed said domestic workers stale cake.
Brian Phillips, a spokesman for Sen. Lee, told me that Serwer's report is "totally false" and that the change would "not allow anyone to employ illegal labor for any reason".
The amendment's purpose? "To exclude certain employment of domestic service from the prohibitions on unlawful employment of unauthorized aliens."
Matt Lewis writes for the Week magazine that there is indeed a purpose for government:
When it comes to government, a lot of conservatives are probably too obsessed with size. Grover Norquist famously wants to shrink government to such a small size that you can drown it in a bathtub.
But I'm not sure most Americans want that. And trying to force it via draconian cuts doesn't work, especially if they don't address the specific problem, such as the need for entitlement reform. "You can't make a fat man skinny by tightening his belt," observed John Maynard Keynes.
Whether you're a conservative who cares about preserving law and order, or a free marketer who appreciates the importance the rule of law plays in providing confidence and incentives to entrepreneurs, you're a fan of government. Stop pretending otherwise.