Hot air

Jul 31, 2012

The world of climate-change discussion -- and a hyperbolic, rant-filled world it is -- has a new nugget. UC Berkeley scientist Richard Muller, who has been loudly critical of the notion of human-caused global warming -- has changed his mind. 


From the Chronicle's David Perlman: "Richard Muller converted only a year ago to the idea that the world has been warming for decades. Before then he had argued that global warming data - even figures compiled by U.N. experts - were badly flawed."


"Now Muller is going further, blaming the warming almost entirely on human emission of greenhouse gases, most notably carbon dioxide - a conclusion that almost all climate scientists reached long ago."


"Muller argued that the evidence from more than 36,000 temperature stations worldwide shows that the global thermometer has risen by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years. The warm-up began with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, Muller said, and has accelerated in recent years. Muller released five scientific papers Monday supporting conclusions reached by his organization Berkeley Earth with detailed evidence. They immediately set the blogosphere afire, with experts and not-so experts jousting over the conclusions."


Special funds, which have been around for decades and have often served as a source of cash for strapped state budget writers, are getting a new look in the wake of a recent Sacramento Bee report that state parks officials sat on a stash of cash even as parks faced closure. Apparently, there's a lot of money out there just waiting to be tapped.


From Chris Megerian and Paige St. John in the LA Times: "California may have had hundreds of millions of dollars more on hand than the governor and lawmakers knew about as they struggled to close the budget deficit this year, a Times analysis shows."


"Officials are scrambling to explain discrepancies in about two dozen state funds identified in a comparison of balance sheets from the controller's office and the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown."

"One case involved $113 million sitting unnoticed in a bottle recycling program. The money could have helped stave off cuts in welfare, healthcare or parks, but lawmakers were told the program was broke and dipped into other funds to keep it afloat."


Meanwhile, borrowing from the funds is up dramatically since 2008.


From the Bee's Kevin Yamamura: "California's borrowing from special fund accounts has reached nearly $4.3 billion, more than five times the amount from June 2008, according to a semiannual report issued Monday by the state Department of Finance."


"Since the depths of the recession, state leaders have relied heavily on borrowing from special fund accounts that generate money from user fees and regulated industries, among the many patchwork solutions to avoid deeper program cuts in the general fund budget."


CSU, once again, is putting tight restrictions on its spring enrollment because of budget restrictions and the fear of more reductions.


From Susan Frey and Moinique Smith: "The university announced on Monday that because of $750 million in funding cuts in the 2011–12 school year and the prospect of another $250 million in losses if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative* does not pass, only 10 campuses will accept students in spring 2013, and even those campuses will enroll a limited number."


"The CSU system includes 23 campuses serving about 427,000 students throughout the state."


"With few exceptions, only those students who have completed an “associate degree of transfer” from a California community college will be allowed to enroll this coming spring."


"Very few students have earned this degree, which community colleges began offering only about 18 months ago, said university spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp. The degree is so new that the university has yet to set up a website explaining how it works."


Speaking of tight money, the California Republican Party may be cash-starved, but that doesn't mean GOP candidates will come up short this election year, say party pros and activists.


From the Contra Costa Times' Josh Richman: "The state GOP's midyear report, due Tuesday, is expected to show it's a few hundred thousand dollars in debt, forcing it to scale down its Sacramento office, lay off some workers and cut others' salaries, and negotiate down its bills. Some within the GOP say nobody will respect the party's talk of fiscal responsibility if it can't walk the walk by managing to pay for its own overhead."


"But rather than imagining the party as lost in a money desert, it's better seen as a hill left high and dry while rivers of money flow around it to conservative campaigns and causes."


"That's the new landscape hewed by the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which begot "super PACs" that can raise and spend unlimited cash so long as they don't directly coordinate with a candidate's campaign."


The state and schools may be experiencing a cash crunch, but construction of the Santa Clara 49ers' new stadium is proceeding apace.


From Mike Rosenberg in the Mercury News: "Crews working on the $1.2 billion Santa Clara stadium have been drilling 3,000 holes five stories deep and filling them with concrete as a base to support 14,000 massive steel beams. It's been pivotal work, but not exactly visible."


"That changed at the crack of dawn Monday, when workers operating four giant specialty cranes shipped in from Austria began installing the first steel bars that will make up the outline of the stadium next to Great America. The beams were delivered from Utah, Idaho, Texas and elsewhere, with the biggest piece towering 90 feet high and weighing 18 tons, more than all the 49ers players put together."


"This is the frame of the house," said Niners project executive Jack Hill. "The fans will see, as they drive by, (that) this will go up very quickly." Following the glitzy groundbreaking on April 19, the steel erection serves as the first construction milestone on the path toward the NFL stadium's planned opening in summer 2014."


And from our "You've Got to be Kidding" file comes word of the man named Lowell Turpin who was overcome with jealousy  at a photo that his girlfriend had posted on her Facebook page. He figured that the picture showed a rival for her affections. 


"He suspected his live-in girlfriend of planning an affair, and when he saw a picture of a man he didn't recognize on her Facebook page, it set him off, according to reports."


"Lowell Turpin "angrily demanded to know who the male was," an Anderson County Sheriff's Department incident report states."


"The answer, his girlfriend told him: presidential contender Mitt Romney."


"Upset at the woman's "attempting to communicate with friends through her Facebook account," Turpin jerked her laptop computer from her grasp, smashed the machine into a wall, and then hit her in the face with his fist, according to reports."


Another happy Romney supporter ....







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