We just had five 1,000-year floods in less than a year. What’s going on?

From The Environmental Defense Fund:  https://www.edf.org/blog/2016/09/01/we-just-had-five-1000-year-floods-less-year-whats-going

Scott Weaver
September 1, 2016

A 1,000-year flood is supposed to be extremely rare. Its chance of occurring in a given year: 0.1 percent.

So how do we explain that in the span of just five months, the United States logged no fewer than four deadly 1,000-year floods in states as widespread as Texas, West Virginia, Maryland and Louisiana – following a 1,000-year-flood that ravaged South Carolina last October.

It appears that the calculation of a 1,000-year event may no longer be the most accurate statistic. It was based, as are our increasingly common 100-year natural disaster events, on data from the past. We may, in other words, already have shifted so far into a new climate regime that probabilities have been turned on their head.

Climate change “supercharges” normal weather

Like any climate scientist will tell you, there is more to the story than what you see on the surface.

All climate and weather events are influenced to some degree by both natural climate variations and human-made climate change. The amount that each of these influences can exert on a particular event can theoretically range from 0 to 100 percent.

Rigorous scientific analysis has found that the extreme rainfall that caused a Texas flooding in May of 2015, for example, was caused by a fairly typical rainfall pattern associated with that year’s El Niño, a naturally occurring climate cycle, which had been supercharged by human-made climate change.

Working in tandem, these two phenomena together produced one of the largest multi-day flooding events Texas has ever experienced.

Continue reading at:  https://www.edf.org/blog/2016/09/01/we-just-had-five-1000-year-floods-less-year-whats-going

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Phyllis Schlafly, One of History’s Worst Homophobes, Dies at 92

Not to mention one of the worst enemies of Womankind

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/people/2016/9/05/phyllis-schlafly-one-historys-worst-homophobes-dies-92

By Lucas Grindley
September 05 2016

With her death Monday, Phyllis Schlafly is being hailed as a conservative icon, leader and activist. But to LGBT people, she’ll be remembered as one of the worst homophobes of all time.

The Advocate this year named Schlafly among “The 50 Biggest Homophobes of the Last 50 Years.” Even what conservatives would remember as one her most famous accomplishments — creating the Stop ERA group that blocked the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — was tied up with her homophobic beliefs. Schlafly argued that the ERA, which was designed to stop women from being discriminated against, would lead to same-sex marriage and other rights for gays and lesbians. The scare tactic ensured the amendment fell three states short of ratification at the deadline in 1982.

Schlafly spent a lifetime trying to prevent LGBT people from gaining equality, while spreading an onslaught of falsehoods — and she did all of it despite having a gay son.

After Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio announced his support for marriage equality — and revealed his son is gay — Schlafly attacked, saying voters would kick him out of office, even though “They’ll feel sorry for him, maybe he was pressured by his son to do this.”

Schlafly certainly never budged on her views about same-sex marriage. After the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, saying the law was clearly motivated by antigay animus, Schlafly was outraged. She stuck by the idea that supporting “traditional marriage” isn’t supporting discrimination. But groups such as Right Wing Watch have extensively catalogued her homophobia while heading up the Eagle Forum, the conservative organization launched by her Stop ERA campaign.

Ahead of the Supreme Court ruling favorably on marriage equality, she called on governors to ignore the justices, who she said “think they’re God or something.” And after the ruling, she kept right on insisting “we don’t have to obey it just because a few judges said so.”

In her syndicated column, she called on Congress to pass a resolution that affirmed the “dignity of opposite-sex married couples,” once again using it to idealize couples where “a provider-husband is the principal breadwinner and his wife is dedicated to the job of homemaker.”

Schlafly said the true purpose of same-sex marriage was to “wipe out the Christian religion.”

“The use of same-sex marriage to attack Christian businesses but not businesses run by members of other religions,” she said, “demonstrates what is really driving the demand for the new constitutional right to same-sex marriage.”

It wasn’t the first time she’d suggested gays and lesbians were faking their support for marriage equality.

“I do think that the main goal of the homosexuals is to silence any criticism,” she said in 2013. “Most of them aren’t interested in getting married.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/people/2016/9/05/phyllis-schlafly-one-historys-worst-homophobes-dies-92

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America’s problems aren’t Obama’s fault. They’re George W Bush’s

Not to mention the obstructionist scumbag Republicans in the House and Senate.

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/30/america-problems-obama-fault-george-w-bush-election-2016

Tuesday 30 August 2016

The unhinged arguments at the heart of the 2016 presidential election are not really a debate about the outgoing president. They’re about Bush’s legacy

It’s George W Bush’s world, and we’re just living in it.

Not Donald Trump’s. Not Hillary Clinton’s. Not even Barack Obama’s. No, the unhinged arguments at the heart of the 2016 presidential election are not really a debate about the legacy of the current occupant of the White House. They’re not about Obamacare, or the Recovery Act; the Paris climate agreement or even the Iran nuclear deal.

They are, at their heart, an unresolved argument about the world as the 43rd president defined it: for worse, for much worse, and then for better.

If you’re the kind of person – on the left or right – who cannot hear the name George W Bush without foaming at the mouth, you should leave your comment or post your tweet right now. Because it’s time to take a sober look at a presidency bookended by the spectacular mass murder on 11 September 2001, and the spectacular financial meltdown of 2008.

From the rise of Isis to mass surveillance; from tax cuts for the wealthy to immigration reform; from the excesses of Wall Street to the struggles of Main Street; this election is taking place in a country that is still torn apart by the Bush years.

Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s hyperkinetic first chief of staff, liked to say that President Bush had left them a ribbon-wrapped gift of a shit sandwich: two wars, the worst recession in living memory and a disastrous international reputation.

But Bush also left them a path out from his own colossal disasters: the massive government bailout of the financial sector, and a Federal Reserve prepared to take unprecedented measures to bankroll the global economy. A drone war to kill terrorist targets without boots on the ground, and a more stable Iraq that could allow for a US withdrawal.

While Obama got to work on his special sandwich, Bush’s Republican party is still stuck in the middle of it all. For the GOP can no more find its way out of the Bush debates than Britain’s Labour party can decide how to deal with the legacy of Tony Blair.

Continue reading at:   https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/30/america-problems-obama-fault-george-w-bush-election-2016

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‘Normal’ in our society means male. Women are written out of the story

Gender reduces female people to being secondary to men.

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2016/aug/17/normal-society-means-male-andy-murray-venus-serena-williams

It took Andy Murray to point out to John Inverdale that the Williams sisters had beaten his Olympic record – not the only instance in which women are absent

Wednesday 17 August 2016

It has famously been said that feminism is the radical notion that women are people. While this distinction may seem obvious, it remains a confusing area for some – not least sports reporter John Inverdale. Congratulating Andy Murray on his second tennis Olympic gold medal, Inverdale told him: “You’re the first person ever to win two Olympic tennis gold medals,” leaving Murray to point out: “Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each.”

Just days earlier, while commenting on the men’s rugby sevens event, Inverdale reportedly announced that the winning team would be taking home the first-ever Olympic medal for the sport, despite the women’s title having already been claimed by Australia less than a week before. All this has led to the mystery of the week, the question on everybody’s lips: has Inverdale forgotten that women exist, or does he just not realise that they are people?

In fairness to Inverdale, he is far from alone. Women have a pesky habit of slipping minds at important moments – just ask those reporters who discussed our hypothetical new prime minister using “he” and “him” before being left red-faced by Theresa May’s victory.

It’s not surprising that Murray picked up on the error – it’s only three years since he was lavishly congratulated on the front pages for ending the “77-year wait” for a British Wimbledon champion. Which is true. As long as you don’t consider Virginia Wade, who won Wimbledon in 1977, and three previous female winners since Fred Perry’s 1936 victory, to be people.

It is telling that we are so used to such omissions that Murray’s simple statement of fact about the Williams sisters has received rapturous applause across the media and the internet. Under the circumstances, it is remarkable and hugely welcome to see a man in his position be so thoughtful as to acknowledge women’s existence. But wouldn’t it be nice if it was the norm rather than the exception?

The problem isn’t confined to sport either. When Tim Peake was hailed in the media as the first Briton to blast off into space last December, it must have come as a surprise to Helen Sharman, who beat him to it by more than 20 years.

So ingrained is our society’s default male norm, in fact, that many media outlets choose to point out that people are female in newspaper headlines, as if the idea they aren’t male is as newsworthy as the event they were involved in: “Hero gas station clerk saves female doctor from suspected kidnapper”; “Female judge Constance Briscoe investigated over leaking Chris Huhne case, court told”; “Female Belgian rower falls ill after racing on Guanabara bay”; “Woman cyclist fighting for life after horrific crash at danger junction”.

The same shock manifests itself when subjects deviate from other expected norms, too, as swimmer Simone Manuel discovered when her gold medal victory was reduced in headlines to: “Michael Phelps shares historic night with African-American”. The implication is that white men are individuals – human beings in their own right, with personalities and quirks and rich, rounded lives – while other people are still defined as members of homogenous “othered” groups.

This matters beyond the technicality of who gets named in a headline. It impacts on how sympathetic our society is likely to be towards those described. It contributes to the stereotyping and vilification of entire groups who are tarred, sweepingly, with a single brush. It writes out of history those whose contributions we most need to highlight in order to rectify inequality in sport, science and other fields.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2016/aug/17/normal-society-means-male-andy-murray-venus-serena-williams


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Lakoff: Pay Close Attention—Trump Means Exactly What He Says

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-rhetoric-calculated-sway

Trump is swaying millions with his calculated rhetoric.

By George Lakoff
August 24, 2016

Responsible reporters in the media normally transcribe political speeches so that they can accurately report them. But Donald Trump’s discourse style has stumped a number of reporters. Dan Libit, CNBC’s excellent analyst, is one of them. Libit writes, “His unscripted speaking style, with its spasmodic, self-interrupting sentence structure, has increasingly come to overwhelm the human brains and tape recorders attempting to quote him.”

Trump is, simply put, a transcriptionist’s worst nightmare: severely unintelligible, yet incredibly important to understand.

Given how dramatically recent polls have turned on his controversial public utterances, it is not hyperbolic to say that the very fate of the nation appears destined to come down to one man’s application of the English language, and the public’s comprehension of it. It has turned the rote job of transcribing into a high-stakes calling.

Trump’s crimes against clarity are multifarious: He often speaks in long, run-on sentences, with frequent asides. He pauses after subordinate clauses. He frequently quotes people saying things that aren’t actual quotes. And he repeats words and phrases, sometimes with slight variations, in the same sentence.

Some in the media (Washington Post,Salon, Slate, Think Progress, etc.) have called Trump’s speeches “word salad.” Some commentators have even attributed his language use to “early Alzheimer’s,” citing “erratic behavior” and “little regards for social conventions.”

I don’t believe it.

I have been repeatedly asked in media interviews about Trumps use of language. So far as I can tell, he is simply using effective discourse mechanisms to communicate what he wants to communicate to his audience. I have found that he is very careful and very strategic in his use of language. The only way I know to show this is to function as a linguist and cognitive scientist and go through details.

Let’s start with sentence fragments. It is common and natural in New York discourse for friends to finish one another’s sentences. And throughout the country, if you don’t actually say the rest of a friend’s sentence out loud, there is nevertheless a point at which you can finish it in your head. When this happens in cooperative discourse, it can show empathy and intimacy with a friend, that you know the context of the narrative, and that you understand and accept your friend’s framing of the situation so well you can even finish what they have started to say. Of course, you can be bored with, or antagonistic to someone and be able to finish their sentences with anything but a feeling of empathy and intimacy. But Trump prefers to talk to a friendly crowd.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-rhetoric-calculated-sway

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Sexism, meet racism: Trump’s Angela Merkel comments expose the collision of misogyny and white supremacy

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2016/08/19/where-sexism-and-racism-meet-trumps-angela-merkel-comments-expose-the-overlap-between-antifeminism-and-white-supremacy/

Years of blaming feminists for a supposed “demographic winter” fuel Trump’s demonization of Merkel and Clinton

Friday, Aug 19, 2016

Donald Trump has a new obsession: comparing Hillary Clinton to Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. During a Monday speech, Trump denounced the “massive immigration” to Germany under Merkel, for which he blames crime rising “to levels that no one thought would they would ever see.” He followed up this speech with press releases and a hashtag aimed at equating Clinton and Merkel.

The choice is an odd one on its surface because most Americans don’t have an opinion about Merkel, even when they know who she is. But as Alice Ollstein of Think Progress persuasively argued on Wednesday, the meme makes more sense when one considers that white supremacists definitely know who Merkel is, because they hate her:

To white nationalist communities that fervently support Trump, Merkel has been a popular villain. Sites like the Daily Stormer, the White Genocide Project, American Renaissance, and The White Resister have posted constantly about her since the Syrian refugee crisis began escalating earlier this year. They have accused her of making a “deliberate attempt to turn Germany from a majority White country into a minority White country.” They have called her a “crazy childless bitch,” an “anti-White traitor,” and “a patron saint of terrorists.” They have asked, in articles about Merkel, “Why would you allow a woman to run a country, unless you were doing it as a joke?”

It’s yet another example of how Trump is mainstreaming white supremacist sentiment. But by making two women the center of an attack, he is also highlighting the way that antifeminism and white supremacy are tied into each other, since people in alt-right, white supremacist circles like to blame feminism for what they see as the “decline” of the white race.

Trump alone cannot be blamed for the mainstreaming of this ideology. For years now, mainstream conservative figures have been playing footsy with the antifeminist, racist fringe, cleaning up its ideas and passing them off as mainstream conservative thought. Trump’s elevation to nominee of the Republican Party is just the logical conclusion of these efforts.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2016/08/19/where-sexism-and-racism-meet-trumps-angela-merkel-comments-expose-the-overlap-between-antifeminism-and-white-supremacy/

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Willie Nelson Is Ready to Share His Pot with You

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