Damage estimates of the Texas drought that began in 2010 and carried through 2011, wherein the state suffered under 100 degree temperatures for over 90 days straight, have been revised upward.
Texas Agronomists have revised estimates for the cost of Texas' devastating drought, finding that it cost the agricultural sector $2 billion more than originally thought.
According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, the Texas drought has caused $7.62 billion in damages to crops and farming operations. That's up from $5.3 billion reported last August. [...]
Nearly every single agricultural sector in the state was hammered by the record-breaking drought that began in 2010, causing a ripple effect through global commodity markets. With livestock, cotton, peanut and even pumpkin crops hit hard, shortages of product is driving prices up and putting a squeeze on farmers in the state
"It's just a fluke" they'll say, and that's at least partially correct, but what they still refuse to acknowledge is that climate change greatly increases the likelyhood of such events and exacerbates pre-existing conditions.
Billion dollar climate-related disasters are going to become the norm but, on the bright side, that may force insurance companies to officially recognize climate change as a factor. When it starts to impact their own bottom line in a serious way, business may join the push to begin preparing for what is coming.
They'll never be willing to spend their own cash reserves to prepare, mind you, but they may lobby congress to spend ours to help them prepare. Either way, I'll take it.
If not, Rick Perry can always pray for rain.
Let's face it, Fox News is unabashedly opposed to Barack Obama and everything his administration represents. The network has virtually conceded that it is nothing more than a promotional vehicle for conservative Republican politics and politicians.
Now Fox News has stepped even further across the line of objectivity by taking up the case of a Marine sergeant whose adventures in social media are blatantly disrespectful to his superiors and teeter toward insubordination or worse.
Sergeant Gary Stein is the founder of a Facebook page called "Armed Forces Tea Party." According to reports from the Associated Press, Stein had been informed that he was in violation of Pentagon policy prohibiting political activities. The policy specifically forbids military personnel from using contemptuous words against senior officials, including the defense secretary or the president. At first Stein cooperated with his commanders by taking down the Facebook page, but he later restored it based on his own conclusion that he was not in violation of any code. As a result, he is now the subject of an administrative action that could result in a discharge.
Stein is adamant that he is innocent of any infraction. he contends that he was exercising his free speech rights by posting messages in which he declared that he would refuse to follow any order issued by the President, his commander-in-chief, that he deemed unlawful.
"I'm completely shocked that this is happening," Stein said. "I've done nothing wrong. I've only stated what our oath states that I will defend the constitution and that I will not follow unlawful orders. If that's a crime, what is America coming to?"
Technically, I agree with Stein on the matter of a soldier's obligation to refuse to follow an unlawful order. That is a standard set after World War II that resulted in the inadmissibility of the defense that "I was just following orders." But Stein had better have a damn good basis (and an opinion from a legal expert) before he engages in what might constitute mutiny. Stein had no such basis when he chose to ignore the orders of his commanders or to declare that he would refuse to follow orders from the President if those orders included detaining or disarming U.S. citizens. That overly broad standard would mean that Stein would not act against Adam Gadahn, the American who is presently the media adviser for Al Qaeda.
Stein's story was broadcast on Fox News' America Live with Megyn Kelly. Fox News also featured the story on both the Fox News web site and Fox Nation, where Stein has been treated as a hero for standing up to President Obama. However, he has a pretty thin case to make for his patriotism when he posts comments like this: "I say screw Obama. I will not follow orders given by him to me." That comment has since been deleted and Stein says that he later qualified his comment to reflect that he would only disobey unlawful orders. But you can still find this comment on his Facebook page without qualification: "Obama is the "Domestic Enemy" our oath speaks about."
That goes far beyond Stein's assertion that he was merely stating what the military code says about following unlawful orders. It is an exhibition of overt disloyalty that the military ought not to abide. In fact, it designates the President as an enemy of the state, which would make him a suitable target, in Stein's warped view, for hostile action or assassination. And that is exactly the view that Fox News, and their audience of pseudo-patriots, are applauding. Disgusting, isn't it?
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