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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Because people who live on the coasts tend to vote Democrat anyway

I'm sorry. I think I just threw up in my mouth.


Proposed GOP budget cuts target tsunami warning centers

CBS News -- The GOP budget plan that passed through the House last month aimed to cut funding for a tsunami warning center that issued a slew of warnings around Japan's devastating earthquake.

The budget, which proposed about $60 billion in budget cuts, would slash funding for the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That would potentially cripple the effectiveness of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, which issued a series of warnings over the past several days regarding the situation in Japan, where an 8.9 magnitude earthquake triggered a massive tsunami along the nation's east coast. (The PTWC is a part of the National Weather Service, which falls under the umbrella of NOAA - the organization responsible for providing tsunami warnings in the U.S.)

The Republican's proposed "continuing resolution" to fund the government, which was defeated in the Senate this week, aimed to cut $1.2 billion - or 21 percent - of President Obama's proposed budget for NOAA, reports.

In an interview with Hawaii's Star Advertiser last month, Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, warned that the proposed budget cuts could result in the loss of lives.

"People could die. ... It could be serious," he said, noting that Weather Service employees and employees of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center could be hit with furloughs and closures.

"It would impact our ability to issue warnings," he added.

Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii called the proposed cuts "reckless."

"Drastically reducing the ... ability to forecast weather and alert our communities about imminent, dangerous events is irresponsible," she said.

Dan Sobien, the National Weather Service's union president, said in a statement to Think Progress that GOP cuts would put "considerable stress" on national tsunami monitoring and response capabilities.

"NOAA has put together part of a contingency plan to handle such a massive cut and while it spares tsunami buoys, all other coastal buoys are non funded and there will be furloughs at both Tsunami Warning Centers (TWC)," he said. "These furloughs will take away the TWC's ability to upgrade tsunami models and will put considerable stress on watchstanders ability to react."

"While today's disaster is of particular concern to everyone, we are just now entering tornado season and soon will be hurricane season and our organization firmly believes any effort to defund and dismantle our nations early warning system for all disasters is very unwise," he added.

Congress has yet to pass a final budget for fiscal year 2011, and Republicans and Democrats continue to spar over the extent to which domestic programs will be cut.

Senator Jay Rockefeller, D-WVA and Chairman of Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, is urging Congress not to make significant cuts to NOAA's core weather and essential prediction services in upcoming negotiations over the budget.

"Congress must heed this cruel wakeup call and stop proposed cuts to essential NOAA prediction programs that would endanger lives," he said in a statement Friday. "We must push to make the smart investments in our greatest minds and resources at NOAA so that we can better predict severe weather events and be prepared for the worst."


  1. AND, following on the tails of that, is this gem.

    Really, truly, I never wanted this blog to stoop to partisan politics. But we've apparently reached the point where that is no longer an option.

    CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A 91-year-old freshman Republican state lawmaker suggested New Hampshire's mentally disabled should be shipped to Siberia and said he is unapologetic about the comment.

    State Rep. Martin Harty of Barrington said he was kidding around with an unidentified woman caller who supported funding for the homeless when he raised the issue of eugenics and the world's population growth.

    "I was kidding with her and it kind of got away from me," he said of the conversation. "It was a girl that wanted money for the crazy people, the people ... a good percentage of the homeless people are mentally disturbed."

    He said he didn't know what to do with them.

    "I said maybe they can rent a spot in Siberia off of Russia," he said. "She called me an Adolf Hitler and hung up on me. I never mentioned Hitler."

    The comment came to light during a hearing Thursday on the state budget. It's not clear when the woman spoke to Harty.

    Laurie McCray, a Portsmouth mother of a boy with medical needs who was testifying, told the House Finance Committee she was shocked when a friend told her a state representative from Barrington espoused shipping "defective people to Siberia to freeze." She did not name the friend or the lawmaker, who was later identified as Harty.

    Harty did not deny making the comment or apologize later in a meeting with reporters.

    Republican House Speaker William O'Brien said he hopes Harty considers his comments more carefully in the future. O'Brien said that at Harty's age, he has earned the right to say what he thinks, but "he needs to appreciate that as a representative, he will be held to a higher standard."

  2. We now return to our coverage of the Sendai earthquake, tsunami and possible meltdown, and our regularly scheduled continued discussions about space exploration, etc.