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The Trembling Aspen Is in Trouble

A new study shows that droughts will cause massive die offs of the trembling aspen, a pillar of North American forests, by mid-century, unless we take action on climate change today.

Growing up in Western Colorado, William Anderegg has fond memories of countless hiking, fishing, and camping trips in the Rockies. But when he returned as an adult, he found a changed landscape. “A lot of these forests, just within my lifetime, had really died off,” says Anderegg, a post-doc at Princeton University.

While decades of research have given scientists a pretty good understanding of how trees grow, we still don’t really know much about how they die. “We don’t have a very good monitoring network of tree mortality, but the pieces of the puzzle that we can see don’t look very good” Anderegg says. Tree deaths have hit North America particularly hard, affecting multiple forest types and tens of millions of acres. Widespread deaths of trembling aspen, the most widely distributed tree species across North America, have “stretched from Arizona to Alberta, and seem to have been entirely triggered by drought and climate change,” he says.

As the climate warms and droughts become more frequent and severe, predicting how trees will respond to the stress becomes ever more important. Trees take in water from the soil around their roots, and try to hold on to it against the pull of gravity and transpiration, like competing ends of a spring; as drought progresses, the soil gets drier, the atmosphere gets hotter, and the spring is pulled tighter and tighter. In a new study published today in Nature Geoscience, Anderegg and his colleagues measured water flow in tree branches to find the threshold at which water flow was reduced enough that aspen trees would succumb to drought. Using this threshold, they made predictions about past mortality events and found that they matched observations about 75 percent of the time.


GIFs Show Constellations Transforming Over 150,000 Years


ANY GRADE SCHOOL kid can identify constellations like the Big Dipper or Orion in the night sky. But 50,000 years from now (assuming civilization hasn’t blotted the sky out with several millennium’s worth of chemical and light pollution) kids will be pointing out constellations that bear little resemblance to the ones you know.

Martin Vargic, a graphic designer from Slovakia, created a chart that shows how the Big Dipper, Orion, Crux, Leo, Cassiopeia, and Lyra have changed throughout human history, and how they will look from Earth in the distant future. Using data from the European Space Agency’s Hipparcos satellite, which collected data on celestial object positions from 1989 to 1993, Vargic estimated how the constellations would transform between 50,000 BCE to 100,000 CE.

The images that astronomers associate with constellations have always been a little…imaginative, but over these time scales certain constellations will distort beyond recognition. “The changes in these star patterns occur because the stars that comprise constellations are not physically related,” explains E.C. Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. “They are all independent objects, at different distances from us and from each other and moving independently from each other.” Over time, Leo (above) will contort into an anatomically impossible backbend, and Crux’s Southern Cross will transform into Southern Parallel Lines.



Rand Paul Said He Doesn’t Believe In The Concept Of Gay Rights

Sen. Rand Paul said he doesn’t buy into the concept of gay rights because they are defined by a gay person’s lifestyle.

“I don’t think I’ve ever used the word gay rights, because I don’t really believe in rights based on your behavior,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters in a videotaped interview that has received little attention since it was recorded in 2013.

But it’s unclear how far — and to whom — Paul extends the argument that rights cannot be defined by behavior.

Practicing religion, for example, is a behavior enshrined as a primary American right. Free speech is behavior protected by the Bill of Rights. Likewise, a person’s right to be free from discrimination for his or her nation of origin — which entails the behavior of moving from one country to the United States — is embedded in America’s civil rights laws and broader code of values.

Does Paul believe those behaviors are protected rights?


I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fuck Rand Paul.

Biden calls for Japan-U.S. TPP deal before Abe’s trip to Washington

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has called for Japan to make further concessions in the ongoing Pacific Rim free-trade talks so the two sides can reach a bilateral agreement before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to Washington in late April, a senior Japanese lawmaker said Tuesday.

During a conversation with Masahiko Komura by phone last week, Biden urged Japan to show more flexibility on the issue of market access for autos, one of the biggest sticking points in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, according to the vice president of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party.

Speaking at an LDP meeting, Komura added he told Biden that both Japan and the United States need to show flexibility to reach a bilateral deal — seen as vital to realizing the 12-nation TPP initiative.

Komura, a former foreign minister, also said he expressed hope during the conversation that Congress will grant President Barack Obama fast-track authority to sign trade deals.

Abe will make an eight-day official visit to the United States beginning April 26. He is slated to meet with Obama on April 28.


Guess What Happened When JPMorgan's CEO Visited Elizabeth Warren's Office

WASHINGTON -- A meeting between Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Jamie Dimon deteriorated almost immediately after the JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO visited the recently elected senator and consumer advocate at her Capitol Hill office in 2013.

In a new afterword for the release of the paperback version of her book A Fighting Chance, Warren recalls that the tenor of the conversation between the two policy adversaries soured when Dimon complained about financial regulations that she has supported:

When the conversation turned to financial regulation and Dimon began complaining about all the burdensome rules his bank had to follow, I finally interrupted. I was polite, but definite. No, I didn’t think the biggest banks were overregulated. In fact, I couldn’t believe he was complaining about regulatory constraints less than a year after his bank had lost billions in the infamous London Whale high-risk trading episode. I said I thought the banks were still taking on too much risk and that they seemed to believe the taxpayers would bail them out -- again -- if something went wrong.
Our exchange heated up quickly. By the time we got to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we weren’t quite shouting, but we were definitely raising our voices. At this point -- early in 2013 -- Rich Cordray was still serving as director of the consumer agency under a recess appointment; he hadn’t yet been confirmed by the Senate, which meant that the agency was vulnerable to legal challenges over its work. Dimon told me what he thought it would take to get Congress to confirm a director, terms that included gutting the agency’s power to regulate banks like his. By this point I was furious. Dodd-Frank had created default provisions that would automatically go into effect if there was no confirmed director, and his bank was almost certainly not in compliance with the those rules. I told him that if that happened, “I think you guys are breaking the law.”
Suddenly Dimon got quiet. He leaned back and slowly smiled. “So hit me with a fine. We can afford it.”

As Warren noted in a 2014 Senate Banking Committee hearing, Dimon was proved correct: Though his bank was forced to pay $20 billion in fines, he still received a significant raise at the end of 2013.



The Big Bang is going down

The Big Bang is about to collapse catastrophically, and that's a good thing.
First postulated in 1931, the Big Bang has been the standard theory of the origin and structure of the universe for 50 years. In my opinion, (the opinion of a TV comedy writer, stripper and bar bouncer who does physics on the side) the Big Bang is about to collapse catastrophically, and that's a good thing.

According to Big Bang theory, the universe exploded into existence from basically nothing 13.7-something billion years ago. But we're at the beginning of a wave of discoveries of stuff that's older than 13.7 billion years.

For instance, there's SDSS J0100+2802, a quasar containing a black hole with a mass of 12 billion suns that's only 900 million years younger than the Big Bang. Black holes take a long time to accumulate mass, and 900 million years probably isn't enough. Astronomers have discovered more than 200,000 quasars, and with improving search techniques allowing them look closer and closer to the Big Bang, they'll find more of these highly developed quasars – the cosmic equivalent of 42-year-old strippers who are somehow only as old as toddlers when their ages are reckoned by the Big Bang.

Then we have dust made out of heavy elements in a galaxy that's only 700 million years younger than the Big Bang. Heavy elements form as stars near the ends of their life cycles, which are generally many billions of years long. So that's some fast-forming dust.



Paul Krugman- Imaginary Health Care Horrors

There’s a lot of fuzzy math in American politics, but Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, the chairman of the House Rules Committee, recently set a new standard when he declared the cost of Obamacare “unconscionable.” If you do “simple multiplication,” he insisted, you find that the coverage expansion is costing $5 million per recipient. But his calculation was a bit off — namely, by a factor of more than a thousand. The actual cost per newly insured American is about $4,000.

Now, everyone makes mistakes. But this wasn’t a forgivable error. Whatever your overall view of the Affordable Care Act, one indisputable fact is that it’s costing taxpayers much less than expected — about 20 percent less, according to the Congressional Budget Office. A senior member of Congress should know that, and he certainly has no business making speeches about an issue if he won’t bother to read budget office reports.

But that is, of course, how it’s been all along with Obamacare. Before the law went into effect, opponents predicted disaster on all levels. What has happened instead is that the law is working pretty well. So how have the prophets of disaster responded? By pretending that the bad things they said would happen have, in fact, happened.

Costs aren’t the only area where enemies of reform prefer to talk about imaginary disasters rather than real success stories. Remember, Obamacare was also supposed to be a huge job-killer. In 2011, the House even passed a bill called the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act. Health reform, opponents declared, would cripple the economy and in particular cause businesses to force their employees into part-time work.


Obama to Offer Major Blueprint on Climate Change

Source: NYT

WASHINGTON — The White House on Tuesday morning is expected to unveil President Obama’s blueprint for cutting United States greenhouse gas pollution by nearly a third over the next decade.

Mr. Obama’s plan, part of a formal submission to the United Nations ahead of efforts to forge a climate change accord in Paris in December, will detail the United States side of an ambitious joint climate change pledge the president made in November in Beijing with the Chinese president Xi Jinping.

In an effort to spur other countries to enact their own domestic climate change plans leading to the Paris accord, the leaders of the world’s two largest greenhouse gas polluters offered the outline of a set of climate actions. Mr. Obama said the United States would cut emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025, while Mr. Xi said that China’s emissions would drop after 2030.

But the plan will also intensify fierce Republican political opposition to Mr. Obama’s effort to build a climate change legacy.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/01/us/obama-to-offer-major-blueprint-on-climate-change.html?smid=re-share&_r=0

Tuesday Toon Roundup 2: The Rest


Middle East



Chuy and Rahm





Tuesday Toon Roundup 1: Hoosier Hate

Same shit different Decade....

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