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From the Exxon Valdez to BP, little has changed in evaluating data on oil spills. A little “political will” as mentioned below would be good right about now.

Just released from The University Of  Florida:

Oil in Gulf of Mexico:  Biologists cite need for critical data to determine ecological consequences

Twenty years after biologists attempted to determine the ecological damages to marine life from the Exxon Valdez oil spill, scientists dealing with the BP disaster find themselves with the same problem: the lack of critical data to determine the ecological consequences of human-induced environmental disasters, a University of Florida researcher said.

Writing in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal Science, Karen A. Bjorndal,  a University of Florida biology professor and director of the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research, and other biologists said the United States needs “strategic national research plans for key marine species and ecosystems based on evaluation of cause and effect and on integrated monitoring of abundance and demographic traits.”

“It is sad to see that we are in the same place now,” said Bjorndal, adding that not much has changed since the Valdez oil spill when it comes to getting the data needed to assess and restore a marine ecosystem after an environmental disaster. She hopes it will provide an impetus for action.

“We know how to create these research plans — what is needed now is the political will and leadership to do so,” she wrote.

“Achieving mandated recovery goals depends on understanding both population trends and the demographic processes that drive those trends,” Bjorndal’s article states.

Her team argues it “is not too late to invest funds from BP to support teams of experts to develop effective strategic plans that identify, prioritize and provide methodologies for collecting essential data.”

The team identified seven elements that need to be included in most of the plans.

“In the wake of the BP oil spill, the need for this policy shift is as clear as it is compelling. The largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history should provide the impetus and opportunity to effect this policy shift.” Bjorndal wrote in her article.

Co-authors of the article, called “Better Science Needed for Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico,” are Brian Bowen,  Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii; Milani Chaloupka,  Ecological Modeling  Services, University of Queensland, Australia; Larry B. Crowder,  Center for Marine Conservation, Duke University; Selina S. Heppell, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University;  Cynthia M. Jones, Center for Quantitative Fisheries Ecology, Old Dominion University; Molly E. Lutcavage,  Large Pelagics Research Center, University of Massachusetts; David Policansky, National Research Council, Washington, D.C.;  Andrew R. Solow, Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Blair E. Witherington,  Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

 

 

 


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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in defense of Sarah Palin’s use of this “crosshairs map” for “targeting” Democrats and for fundraising purposes for the Republican Party, on March 25, 2010. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot yesterday was on the map, and several of the other Democrats also received threats. McCain also defends Palin’s corresponding Twitter comment: “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: ‘Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!’”

“I have seen the rhetoric of targeted districts as long as I’ve been in politics,” he replied. “Please. This is — any threat of violence is terrible, but to say that there is a targeted district or that we ‘reload’ or go back in to the fight again, please…Those are fine. They’re used all the time.”

“Those words have been used throughout of my political career,” McCain added. “There are targeted districts, and there are areas that we call battleground states, and so please, that rhetoric and kind of language is just part of the political lexicon. There is no place for threats of violence or anything else, but to say that someone is in a battleground state is not originated today.”

“Maybe it has (caused concern), and we condemn any violence, any threats of violence,” responded McCain. “But I’ve heard all of that language throughout my political career.”


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Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)

Yesterday in the aftermath of the shootings in Arizona yesterday that killed six people, including a nine-year old girl and a federal judge, and critically wounded Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik said the following at a press conference:

Mr. Dupnik called the shooting a “very sad day for Tucson” and a “horrendous, horrendous, senseless, unbelievable crime.” And then he blamed the crime on the rhetoric — presumably political rhetoric — in the country.

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,” he said. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Mr. Dupnik said it is time for the country to “do a little soul-searching.”

He added: “The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business … This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in.”

Later, he said: “It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America: pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”

After something as horrific as this you might expect “leaders” to heed this kind of advice, or at the very least make an appeal for civility, much less look for something in the way of accountability.

Sadly for those in Arizona a response like this from Sen. Jon Kyl who represents them will be of little comfort:

A clearly angry Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) challenged Dupnik during an appearance Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” – arguing that Giffords was a Second Amendment backer who would likely oppose what he called a “rush to judgment.”

“I didn’t think that had any part in a law enforcement briefing last night. It was speculation and I don’t think we should rush to speculate,” Kyl told host Bob Schieffer.

Referring to Loughner’s online political rants – which seem more generically anti-government than explicitly partisan – Kyl added, “It’s probably giving him too much credit to ascribe a coherent political philosophy to him. We just have to accept that there are some unstable people in this country. Who knows what motivates them?”

Yes, you certainly wouldn’t want a “rush to judgment” on something like this, which has only been published publicly on the Internet since March of 2010:

And that’s just ONE example out of many.

Kyl also does her the disservice of putting words in the mouth of Giffords herself, while ignoring what she actually said about the very same SarahPAC map here last year. Giffords in fact did express concerns about the violent rhetoric as well as the Palin “crosshairs” map.

To make a statement as Kyl did is frightening, is as irresponsible as it gets, and yes, pathetic.

Was Kyl elected to serve the people of Arizona, or was he elected to merely throw up your hands in the face of violence and say “Who knows what motivates them?” He might as well have just said “who cares?” Let me be the first to suggest that Kyl use that phrase on his campaign the next time around.

Better yet, it would make a great campaign slogan for what today’s Republican Party really represents: WHO CARES?

They don’t need  “Word Doctor” Frank Luntz for that.

Meanwhile, in the short-term, if you’re looking for accountability, you certainly won’t get it from Jon Kyl.

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Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona

Words have consequences.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik, on the shooting of Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others, along with those murdered today in Tucson, Arizona:

Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik offered an emotional, angry assessment of the state of America in the wake of the shootings in Arizona, saying that two of his close friends — Ms. Giffords and Judge John Roll – were among the victims.

Mr. Dupnik called the shooting a “very sad day for Tucson” and a “horrendous, horrendous, senseless, unbelievable crime.” And then he blamed the crime on the rhetoric — presumably political rhetoric — in the country.

“When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government,” he said. “The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Mr. Dupnik said it is time for the country to “do a little soul-searching.”

He added: “The vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business … This has not become the nice United States that most of us grew up in.”

Later, he said: “It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. That’s the sad thing about what’s going on in America: pretty soon we’re not going to be able to find reasonable decent people willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.”

We cannot allow this to be “the new normal.”

This has to stop. Now.

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So much news, so little time:

In Florida, not only can you “double-dip” but you can even have a go at defeating fair elections while you’re doing it!

Gov. Rick Scott yesterday announced his appointment of Kurt Browning as Florida’s secretary of state, a position filled by Browning from 2006 till April 2010. After resigning, Browning led Protect Your Vote, a political committee largely bankrolled by the Republican Party of Florida that sought to defeat Florida’s so-called “Fair Districts” amendments.

***

Browning is the first double-dipper of the Scott Administration. He was forced to resign on April 30 because of a law passed by the Legislature a year ago narrowing a loophole that allowed highly paid state workers to retire and return to their old jobs and draw two salaries.

But Browning is allowed to return after the mandatory six-month hiatus. But he’ll still be drawing two salaries: One from the state (that salary, in what is becoming tradition with new Scott hires, was not released) and the other from the state pension, which Scott has vowed to reform.

Scott appoints fox to oversee henhouse. Developer to oversee growth management:

Gov. Rick Scott has appointed St. Joe Co. executive Billy Buzzett as secretary of the Department of Community Affairs, the agency that oversees growth management.

Buzzett is a lawyer, developer and engineer who helped smooth the way for St. Joe’s massive expansion in the Panhandle.

Buzzett served on Scott’s transition team, which recommended doing away with the agency, something Scott has said he would consider.

Buzzett’s role would be to “better align Department of Community Affairs functions with other functions across state government,” Scott said in a press release.

Education. The nightmare continues:

Michelle Rhee, the controversial hard-charging schools reformer, will stay on to advise Gov. Rick Scott on education policy, the governor’s office announced late last night.

Rhee, who is accompanying the governor on a visit today to a Miami-Dade charter school, was part of the 20-member education transition team, which released a series of recommendations last month to expand voucher programs, revisit merit pay for teachers, and dramatically alter how public schools are funded.

She will continue to “provide input on best practices” and advise Scott in advance of the upcoming legislative session, the governor’s office said in a press release.

“I am honored to work with Governor Scott as he executes his education agenda for Florida,” Rhee said in a statement. “I am also proud to work with such a strong reform community and its leaders, including those I worked with during the transition. Florida is leading the country in areas such as sharing information about school performance, and we look forward to helping Gov. Scott push the envelope in promoting innovative policies, including a focus on high-performing teachers.”

As chancellor, (of Washington D.C.’s public schools) Rhee made national headlines for sparing with the teachers union and firing hundreds of so-called ineffective teachers.

From the “Irony Files” did Rick Scott someone say something about “accountability?” Oh. Never mind:

Republican Gov. Rick Scott has issued five executive orders in his first 30 hours in office, the latest removing Grand Ridge Mayor Chris Wright Jr. from office.

Wright, according to the order, pled no contest to grand theft auto, a third degree felony, and was given three years probation. Former Gov. Charlie Crist had suspended Wright from office on April 16, two days after Wright was arrested.

Hey, this sure has a familiar ring to it. Cough, Palin, cough:

Gov. Rick Scott is selling the state’s two airplanes, saying the $2.4 million a year to operate the aircraft is a waste.

Scott’s offering the 10-year-old Beech King Air 350 and 2003 Cessna Citation Bravo on the Aircraft Shopper Online website. Bids will open at 2 p.m. on Feb. 9.

Editor’s note: Let’s just hope our proposed high-speed-rail project doesn’t take a similar “Palin” route and become Rick Scott’s “Train To Nowhere.”

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Art From Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear, On Facebook

It’s been a much debated issue since it occurred at the National Mall in Washington D.C. in October. Before the controversy over media false equivalence (or not) that it caused, the burning question had been:

Was Sanity And/Or Fear INDEED Restored by Jon Stewart and/or Stephen Colbert at “The Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear?”

No one would argue that it was not a success, no one beyond FOX fear-mongering windbag Glenn Beck, or ANY fear-mongering windbag at FOX, for that matter. But as to the sanity or fear issue, who really knows?

One thing that is clear, however, it did restore one measurable thing, and for that reason, it could also casually be called this:

 

THE RALLY TO RESTORE AMTRAK TICKET REVENUES

Take a look at the Amtrak Performance Report from October and you’ll see that among other things, the Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert Rally did just that. Well, sort of.

From the Amtrak Report:

October’s strong performance was due in part to 1) a somewhat improved economic environment vs October FY10 allowing for the continuing recovery of business travel, especially along the Northeast Corridor; 2) the increased appeal and popularity of rail travel; 3) continued high gasoline prices; 4) effective recent advertising and marketing campaigns; 5) increased difficulties with air travel and growing consumer dissatisfaction with air service; and 6) the introduction of Wi-Fi service on Acela. Furthermore, the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” in Washington, DC on October 30th generated an estimated incremental 9,000 trips worth $700,000 in ticket revenues.

So argue all you want over sanity, fear, or even media false equivalence, knock yourself out.

Either way, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert gave a significant boost to the familiar phrase “All Aboard Amtrak!” in October.

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Just a couple of questions:

1. Are you one of the struggling 98% in the country who aren’t millionaires or (insert pinky “Austin Powers” style here) billionaires and find yourself low on holiday gift funds, and

2. Are you wondering what to get for the person who has everything, but is a woefully misinformed FOX viewer?

If so, I have a suggestion, and it won’t cost you a dime:

WEAN THEM OFF FOX

I know, I know. You’re probably saying to yourself “easier said than done.” Sure, maybe. But hey, it’s worth a try, and if it works they’ll be forever grateful.

This item below isn’t news to many of us, but FOX watchers desperately in need of a “misinformation intervention” are only hurting themselves, and things are probably only going to get worse. A recent poll warns that greater exposure to FOX “News” leads to increased misinformation. Go figure.

From Think Progress:

Those who watched Fox News almost daily were significantly more likely than those who never watched it to believe that:

– Most economists estimate the stimulus caused job losses (12 points more likely) (91 percent of those who watch Fox News “almost every day”)

– Most economists have estimated the health care law will worsen the deficit (31 points) (72 percent)

– The economy is getting worse (26 points) (72 percent)

– Most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring (30 points) (60 percent)

– The stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points) (63 percent)

– Their own income taxes have gone up (14 points) (49 percent)

– The auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points) (56 percent)

– When TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it(12 points) (38 percent)

– And that it is not clear that Obama was born in the United States (31 points)(63 percent)

Why not give the gift of “sunshine” to a FOX viewer in your life? Unplug their television and try to reason with them. Show them the poll results. Tell them FOX viewing “leads to the stupid” and hurts all of us in the long run. Better yet lead them to a computer and point the browser to Media Matters For America for a real eye opener.

Do it for them, AND the rest of us.

Truly a gift that will keep on giving.

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Happy Thanksgiving

I’ve taken a bit of time off the past couple weeks, but I will be back to regular posting in a couple of days. In the meantime, I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. I am so very grateful for all who stop by here at Beach Peanuts to read, and to comment. I am very appreciative of each and every one of you.

Though I didn’t write today myself, please allow me to direct you to a couple of really great Thanksgiving Day reads below. They’re two of my favorites from the past couple of days.

“The Thankful and The Thankless”

-Daniel Tilson

“My Thanksgiving: A Little Chat With My American Family”

-The Reid Report

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful day surrounded by family and friends, and I will see you back here very soon.

-Inkberries

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