Author Archives: richardbrenneman

Newt Gingrich doubles down on the hypocrisy

And he did it last night on Trump-friendly Fox News, blasting anchor Megyn Kelly for dubbing The Donald a sexual predator:

What makes the Newt-turd umbrage ever more absurd is the former House Speaker’s own sexual conduct, divorcing two wives after they were diagnosed with serious diseases.

As Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo wrote in 2011 when New was floating a leaden presidential balloon:

Newt famously dumped wife #1 for wife #2 while wife #1 was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery. As in literally went to the hospital to present her with divorce papers while she was recovering from surgery for uterine cancer.

He eventually dumped wife #2 for wife #3 shortly after wife #2 was diagnosed with MS back in 1999. And he was having the affair on wife #2 with wife #3 while he was turning the country upside down trying to drive Bill Clinton from office over his affair with Monica Lewinsky. . .the pattern with Gingrich shows a level of hypocrisy, cruelty and emotional immaturity that most people won’t accept in a president.

Gee, no wonder he’s a Trump supporter. . .

But, to be fair, Newt has a point about President Bubba’s sexual predation.
Still, we never saw anything like The Donald’s open bragging from Bill Clinton, nor an example of such crass and utterly inappropriate braggadocio as this, reported by the London Daily Mail:

‘I worked like hell to pick her up’: Donald Trump bragged about trying to woo Kelly Preston in a letter he wrote just days after her teenage son died

  • Donald Trump bragged about hitting on Kelly Preston in a 2009 letter 
  • Trump wrote the letter just days after Preston’s son, Jett, died of a seizure 
  • ‘I met (her) at a club and worked like hell to try and pick her up,’ he wrote 
  • Trump wrote the post on the website of his now-defunct Trump University

Chart of the day: European organic farming


From Eurostat:

With more than 11 million hectares of certified area or area under conversion in 2015, organic farming made up 6.2% of the European Union’s (EU) total utilised agricultural area (UAA). Since 2010, the area devoted to organic farming has grown by almost two million hectares. Similarly, an upward trend can be observed for the number of registered organic producers. At the end of 2015, 271,500 organic agricultural producers were registered in the EU, an increase of 5.4% compared with 2014.

Among Member States, Spain, Italy, France and Germany registered the largest organic areas as well as the largest numbers of organic producers in 2015, accounting together for over half (52%) of both total EU organic crop area and organic producers in the EU.

Austria, Sweden and Estonia on top for organic farming

The part of agricultural land farmed organically differs widely between EU Member States. The highest share of crop area dedicated to organic farming was registered in Austria, with one fifth (20%, or 552 thousand hectares) of its total agricultural area farmed organically in 2015. It was followed by Sweden (17%, or 519 thousand hectares) and Estonia (16%, or 156 thousand hectares). Alongside these top performers, the Czech Republic (14%, or 478 thousand hectares), Italy (12%, or 1,493 thousand hectares) and Latvia (12%, or 232 thousand hectares) also reported over 10% of agricultural land farmed organically.

In contrast, organic farming was not strongly developed in three Member States with the area under organic farming below 2% of agricultural land: in Malta (0.3 %, or 30 hectares), Ireland (1.6%, or 73 thousand hectares) and Romania (1.8%, or 246 thousand hectares).

It should be noted that the importance of the organic sector is generally lower in regions with plains where more intensive production systems prevail.

Mr. Fish: A Huge Campaign in the Ass

From Clowncrack, his blog of absentaneous adynaton:


Study reveals even greater climate change impacts

And the results provide stark evidence that indirect impacts on both soil and plants equal to the previously estimated direct impacts, with the average being two-thirds.

The increase effects are greatest for regions like the American Great Plains, the nation’s breadbasket, and the Southwest.

From the University of Southampton:

The indirect effects of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, such as changes in soil moisture and plant structure, can have a bigger impact on ecosystems than previously thought.

Understanding the importance of these indirect effects, in comparison to the direct effects, will improve our understanding of how ecosystems respond to climate change.

A study, involving researchers from the University of Southampton, found that water-limited ecosystems in arid and semi-arid regions, such as The Great Plains and South-West United States and some in Australia and Mediterranean Europe, were particularly impacted by these indirect effects. For those ecosystems, the importance of the indirect effects was as much as or in some cases, greater than, the direct effects.

Co-author Dr Athanasios Paschalis, a New Frontiers Fellow in the Water and Environmental Engineering group at the University of Southampton, said: “These results have major implications for our understanding of the CO2 response of ecosystems, the future of water resources and for global projections of CO2 fertilisation. This is because, although direct effects are typically understood and easily reproducible in models, simulations of indirect effects are far more challenging and difficult to quantify.”

Rising CO2 levels affect a lot of plants directly by stimulating photosynthesis and reducing the loss of water (plant transpiration) by reducing the opening of the small pores in the leaves, known as ‘stomata’. This triggers several more subtle, indirect effects. For example, when plants close their stomata, they use less soil water, changing the amount of soil water available to other plants. At the same time, altered water availability and enhanced photosynthesis can change the amount of leaf, root and below ground microbial biomass, resulting in changes to ecosystem functioning.

In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) [$10 to access], the researchers found that these indirect effects explain, on average, 28 per cent of the total plant productivity response, and are almost equal to the size of direct effects on evapotranspiration (ET) – the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the land to the atmosphere.

Using computer simulation, the researchers investigated the effects of elevated CO2 across a variety of ecosystems. They were able to specifically determine for which ecosystems and climatic conditions the indirect effects of elevated CO2 are of crucial importance.

The simulations suggested that the indirect effects of increased CO2 on net primary productivity (how much carbon dioxide vegetation takes in during photosynthesis minus how much carbon dioxide the plants release during respiration) are large and variable, ranging from less than 10 per cent to more than 100 per cent of the size of direct effects. For ET, indirect effects were, on average, 65 per cent of the size of direct effects. Indirect effects tended to be considerably larger in water-limited ecosystems.

Dr Paschalis added: “Understanding the responses of plants to elevated concentrations of CO2 is of major importance with potential implications on the global economy and water and food security under a changing climate.”

The study was led by Dr Simone Fatichi (ETH Zurich -Switzerland), and involved researchers from Aukland University of Technology (NZ), the University of Southampton (UK), Duke University (US), Villanova University (US) and the University of Tasmania (AU).

Chart of the day II: Voters rank the three debates

And when they did, partisan divides prevailed.

From Gallup:


Ma Bell sells spooky data; Internet attack probed

Two major stories on the cybersecurity front to report.

AT&T sells your data, for a fortune

The first item comes from Ma Bell, who’s been helping folks spy on you and pocketing a fortune for doing.

From the Guardian:

Telecommunications giant AT&T is selling access to customer data to local law enforcement in secret, new documents released on Monday reveal.

The program, called Hemisphere, was previously known only as a “partnership” between the company and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for the purposes of counter-narcotics operations.

It accesses the trove of telephone metadata available to AT&T, who control a large proportion of America’s landline and cellphone infrastructure. Unlike other providers, who delete their stored metadata after a certain time, AT&T keeps information like call time, duration, and even location data on file for years, with records dating back to 2008.

But according to internal company documents revealed Monday by the Daily Beast, Hemisphere is being sold to local police departments and used to investigate everything from murder to Medicaid fraud, costing US taxpayers millions of dollars every year even while riding roughshod over privacy concerns.

Internet of things becomes a federal priority

After last week’s massive attackj on online services, carried out through baby monitors, security cameras, and other devices connected to the Internet of Things, Uncle Sam is getting busy.

From Reuters:

Obama administration officials sought on Monday to reassure the public that it was taking steps to counter new types of cyber attacks such as the one Friday that rendered Twitter, Spotify, Netflix and dozens of other major websites unavailable.

The Department of Homeland Security said it had held a conference call with 18 major communication service providers shortly after the attack began and was working to develop a new set of “strategic principles” for securing internet-connected devices.

DHS said its National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center was working with companies, law enforcement and researchers to cope with attacks made possible by the rapidly expanding number of smart gadgets that make up the “internet of Things.”

Such devices, including web-connected cameras, appliances and toys, have little in the way of security. More than a million of them have been commandeered by hackers, who can direct them to take down a target site by flooding it with junk traffic.

You have to wonder if another federal agency, the NSA, is busy exploiting these same devices to pry into our lives.

Just a thought. . .

Headline of the day: Gee, ya really think so?

It was, as Peter Thiel might describe it, one of those “seductions that are later regretted.”

From El País:

Mexican president admits Donald Trump visit was a mistake

  • Mexico’s President Enrique Peña has admitted he made a mistake when he invited Donald Trump to visit his country in August, describing the decision as “hasty.”
  • In an interview with Mexican daily La Razón, the president, whose popularity ratings continue to fall as he approaches his final two years in office, hitting a new low in September of 23%, says that in hindsight, he would have “done things differently.”