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Autumn crocus. Longwood Gardens. (Photo by joanneleon. October 14, 2012)
As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions.

~ Al Gore

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News and Opinion

7.7 magnitude quake hits Canada's British Columbia

(Reuters) - A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 hit Canada's Pacific coastal province of British Columbia late Saturday, setting off a small tsunami, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, officials said.
The U.S. Geological Survey said an earthquake with a 7.7 magnitude had hit the province, centered 123 miles south-southwest of Prince Rupert at a depth of 6.2 miles.
Officials with Emergency Management B.C. said in a conference call that while power supply had been hit in some areas, there was no major damage reported.

Hawaii seemingly spared the worst from tsunami triggered by 7.7-magnitude quake

Editor's Note: A sizable 7.7-magnitude earthquake in western Canada triggered a tsunami that headed toward Hawaii, prompting evacuations of thousands from coastal areas. Geophysicists had feared waves between 3 and 7 feet to lash the Hawaii islands, beginning about 10:28 p.m. local time Saturday (4:28 a.m. Sunday ET). But Hawaii seems to have been spared the worst. There have been no apparent damage from the quake in Canada, nor from the tsunami in Hawaii. Here is the full story.

Sandy likely to be a multi-billion dollar disaster for the U.S.

This number has risen above 48 now.
Sandy's death toll at 48
Sandy was a brutal storm for the Caribbean, with a total death toll that now stands at 48. The death toll is highest in Haiti, with 34 dead. The toll will likely rise as remote areas cut off from communications are reached. Cuban state media is reporting that eleven people were killed on Cuba, and damage was heavy, with 35,000 homes damaged or destroyed. Cuba is probably the most hurricane-prepared nation in the world, and it is unusual for them to experience such a high death toll in a hurricane. Sandy was Cuba's deadliest hurricane since Category 4 Hurricane Dennis killed sixteen people in 2005. Sandy is also being blamed for 1 death in Jamaica, 1 in the Bahamas, and 1 in Puerto Rico.


Ventnor, NJ is one town south of Atlantic City on Absecon Island.  I've spent summers on that island from the summer I was born.  Most of my extended family has too (or in neighboring towns on the southern coast of NJ).  The author below is referring to the fact that the NHC forecast has changed the landfall point north several times during the past 24 hours and it's now set in central Jersey, ironically near Asbury Park (referring to the Springsteen song, Sandy).  She is also referring to the forecast that the worst storm surge will be to the north of the point of landfall, though if the ocean has risen enough to reach the dunes already, I don't know how high it will get tomorrow. The beaches are big/long on most of this island.  There are wood bulkheads all along the shore along the property lines that have been there as long as I can remember, and dunes that are more recent.  The video was taken at 7:30 am this morning.  Landfall is forecast to be at 2am on Tuesday, about 40 hours from now.

Sandy in Ventnor at daybreak: Ocean meets the Dunes

Morning and high tide coincided Sunday and while I woke up relieved to see the storm's track a bit north _ nothing against anybody up there _ it was sobering to walk out to the beach. The sky screams nor'easter inside of a hurricane, doesn't it? The frothy sea foam of the high tide can still be seen coming up into the walkway, newly fashioned by the Army Corps this summer, along with some monster dunes.

Pictures of some of the preparations for the Halloween #Frankenstorm in Wildwood, Atlantic City, etc.
Shore readies for Sandy
Steve Coll: How Exxon Shaped the Climate Debate

Well, there were a lot of corporations, including oil companies, that objected to the Kyoto accords in 1997. But most of them lobbied against the treaty on economic and fairness grounds that would cost the economy of the United States too much for the benefits promised, and also that it wasn’t fair that developing societies would be left out of the bargain.

But Exxon did something that I think was fairly radical, which was that they chose to go after the science. And I think that was more the results of the personal conviction of the chief executive, Lee Raymond, than it really was an expression of their rational business needs.

After all, ExxonMobil was an oil and gas company. Gas was not problematic under climate change regulation. Oil was not as problematic as coal. They were an enormous corporation with rich profits. They could have survived Kyoto. They could have survived a price cap on carbon. They could survive on that. But they chose not only to oppose the treaty, but to attack the science.

So they could have in a sense written a check for what Kyoto called for, and instead not only went after the treaty but every scientific basis or even thinking about climate change as a threat to the world.

Pipeline protest draws thousands to legislature

A 235-metre black banner, the length of a supertanker, was staked into the legislature lawn at a massive demonstration Monday afternoon.
"This is what democracy looks like," said environment critic Rob Fleming, flanked by about 10 NDP MLAs and looking at the sea of waving signs. The B.C. Liberal government, which in 2010 signed away the right to hold a provincial environmental assessment of Northern Gateway and other major energy projects, needs to scrap that agreement, said Fleming, adding that an NDP government would do so. Federal Green party leader Elizabeth May lashed out at the federal government for smoothing the path for shipping crude oil to China by gagging or firing scientists and gutting environmental laws.

Imran Khan Detained on US Flight over Anti-Drone Activism

Pakistan's anti-drone politician and former cricket-star, Imran Khan, was taken off an international flight from Toronto to New York for questioning over his political views, and his critical stance on US foreign policy, immigration officials have confirmed.

"I was taken off from plane and interrogated by US Immigration in Canada on my views on drones. My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop," Khan tweeted yesterday after his questioning.
Khan was on his way from a public lecture in Toronto to a fundraising event in New York. He was eventually released and allowed in the US. He added: "Missed flight and sad to miss the fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance."

Khan, leader of the Pakistan Movement for Justice party (PTI), and Prime Minister candidate in next year's elections in Pakistan, has been a loud voice in the anti-drone movement in Pakistan. Khan recently lead a high-profile anti-drone march aimed at south Waziristan along with US peace activists from the group Code Pink and 15,000 others.

Afghanistan war in new phase -- with no decisive end in sight

Yet the path forward is dotted with question marks:

• Will Afghanistan's security forces be capable of holding off the Taliban on their own? Afghan forces outnumber the Taliban by more than 10 to 1, but currently not a single Afghan army battalion is capable of operating in the field without American advisers.

• If the Afghan forces falter, will the U.S. extend its stay or send in reinforcements to avoid a Taliban takeover?

• Will the U.S.-led military coalition hold together even as France and others dash for the exits in coming months?

• Will enough Afghans come to embrace the corrupt government in Kabul as a preferred alternative to the militant Taliban?

• Will the Afghans manage a peaceful transfer of power after a presidential election scheduled for 2014, in which President Hamid Karzai cannot run again?

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

Administration Continues Apparent Policy of Harassing Pakistani Drone Critics

Tangerine Dream - Love On A Real Train


Remember when progressive debate was about our values and not about a "progressive" candidate? Remember when progressive websites championed progressive values and didn't tell progressives to shut up about values so that "progressive" candidates can get elected?

Come to where the debate is not constrained by oaths of fealty to persons or parties.

Come to where the pie is served in a variety of flavors.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."  ~ Noam Chomsky

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