Rick Perry Rental Mansion Costs Texas $600,000 While He Tells State to Cut Costs – With the state facing a budget shortfall of at least $11 billion, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has spent almost $600,000 in public money during the past two years to live in a sprawling rental home in the hills above the capital, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
The public spending on Perry’s rental comes as the state grapples with a budget shortfall forecast to reach at least $11 billion over the next two years. Perry has asked state agencies to cut their budgets by 5 percent and the Republican House speaker has begun to consider furloughs and shortened workweeks for state employees.
Ethics watchdogs, meanwhile, say Perry’s campaign may have violated state disclosure laws because of the vague way he’s reported what his staff calls “incidental” spending at the mansion.
Democrat Bill White, the former Houston mayor and multimillionaire lawyer challenging Perry’s bid for a third full term, told the AP he would rent his own home until the mansion is repaired.
Agricultural Pesticides May Be the Missing Link to ADHD In Children – A new analysis of U.S. health data links children’s attention-deficit disorder with exposure to common pesticides used on fruits and vegetables. While the study couldn’t prove that pesticides used in agriculture contribute to childhood learning problems, experts said the research is persuasive.
Giant Oil Plumes Under Gulf 10 Miles Long, 3 Miles Wide – Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.
“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia, who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”
The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.
Gas Leak at Gulf Rig 3,000 Times Worse Than Oil Spill – This repost of a diary from 2 days ago describes the fact that there is 3000 times more natural gas coming out of the leak than oil. All of the gas is currently staying in the water because the ocean has the capacity to hold large quantities of methane in solution.
When methane breaks down it depletes oxygen in the water. Then, when it continues to break down it produces hydrogen sulfate.
Oxygen levels in some areas have dropped 30 percent, and should continue to drop, said Samantha Joye, a marine science professor at the University of Georgia. “It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas,” Joye said. “We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s impossible to fathom the impact.”
Republican Senator Blocks Bill to Raise Oil Spill Liability Cap – In the wake of last month’s catastrophic Gulf Coast oil spill, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski blocked a bill that would have raised the maximum liability for oil companies after a spill from a paltry $75 million to $10 billion.
Murkowski’s move came just hours after Washington’s top oil lobby, the American Petroleum Institute (API) expressed vociferous opposition to raising the cap. It argued that doing so would “threaten the viability of deep-water operations, significantly reduce U.S. domestic oil production and harm U.S. energy security.” API’s membership includes large oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP America, as well as smaller ones.
Republicans Kill Science Jobs Bill By Forcing Democrats To Vote For Porn – In an example of Republican obstructionism rendered beautiful by its simplicity, the GOP yesterday killed a House bill that would increase funding for scientific research and math and science education by forcing Democrats to vote in favor of federal employees viewing pornography.
Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the ranking member of the House science committee, introduced a motion to recommit, a last-ditch effort to change a bill by sending it back to the committee with mandatory instructions.
In this case, Republicans included a provision that would bar the federal government from paying the salaries of employees who’ve been disciplined for viewing pornography at work.
To proceed with the bill and bring it to a final vote, Democrats would have had to vote against the motion to recommit, and against the porn ban.
But they didn’t have the stomach for it, and 121 Democrats jumped ship and voted with Republicans to kill the bill.
“We’re all opposed to federal employees watching pornography. That is not a question; but that’s not what this was about,” Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) said. “The Motion to Recommit was about gutting funding for our science agencies.”
Tea Party Doesn’t Want You to Vote for Your Senators – The tea party is calling to repeal the 17th Amendment — taking the selection of U.S. Senators out of the hands of voters and putting it in the hands of state governments. Supporters of the plan say that ending the public vote for Senators would give the states more power to protect their own interests in Washington (and of course, give all of us “more liberty” in the process.) As their process of “vetting” candidates, some tea party groups have required candidates to weigh in on the idea of repeal in questionnaires.
In Just 40 Years, You Won’t Be Able to Find Nemo – The world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 without fundamental restructuring of the fishing industry, UN experts said Monday.
“If the various estimates we have received… come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish,” Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program’s green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.
The report, which was opened to preview Monday, also assesses how surging global demand in other key areas including energy and fresh water can be met while preventing ecological destruction around the planet.
Conservatives Have Been Lying About “Global Cooling” – It was the hottest April on record in the NASA dataset. More significantly, following fast on the heels of the hottest March and hottest Jan-Feb-March on record, it’s also the hottest Jan-Feb-March-April on record.
The record temperatures we’re seeing now are especially impressive because we’ve been in “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century.” It now appears to be over. It’s just hard to stop the march of manmade global warming, well, other than by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Most significantly, NASA’s March prediction has come true: “It is nearly certain that a new record 12-month global temperature will be set in 2010.
Software engineer Timothy Chase put together a spreadsheet using the data from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In NASA’s dataset, the 12-month running average temperature record was actually just barely set in March – and then easily set in April.
Actually, NASA first made its prediction back in January 2009:
Given our expectation of the next El Niño beginning in 2009 or 2010, it still seems likely that a new global temperature record will be set within the next 1-2 years, despite the moderate negative effect of the reduced solar irradiance.”
Of course, there never was any global cooling – see Must-read AP story: Statisticians reject global cooling; Caldeira – “To talk about global cooling at the end of the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years is ridiculous.”
In fact, the 12-month record we just beat was set in 2007!
And, some good news…
U. S. Government Management of GM Restores Company to Profitability – US auto giant General Motors reported Monday a post-bankruptcy quarterly profit for the first time in three years of nearly 900 million dollars. The net income during the January-March period came on the back of sales and revenue of 31.5 billion dollars, up from 22.4 billion dollars in the corresponding period in 2009.
Bottom line: Jobs saved, supplier companies saved, communities saved, people can get parts, service and repairs, economy boosted, products improved, people can buy American with trust. Final cost to taxpayers: zero.