Obama Outlines Progressive Agenda In Second Inaugural Speech

Obama Outlines Progressive Agenda In Second Inaugural SpeechPresident Barack Obama delivered a forceful defense of the nation’s safety net programs, and vowed to expand gay rights and tackle the problem of climate change in his second inaugural address Monday afternoon.

‘Bipartisanship and unity’

The speech was a bolder and more specific defense of the president’s liberal governing vision than the address he gave four years ago. For his first inaugural address, Obama stuck to a broader outline of his ideals and called on politicians to overcome partisan differences and work together in the face of economic crisis. On national television and before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of spectators who descended on the Mall, Obama staunchly reiterated his belief that gay people should be allowed to marry.

In the same section of the speech, the president made oblique references to gun violence, equal pay for women and immigration reform. The president did make a plea for bipartisanship and unity.


‘Protect equality of opportunity’

The president challenged critics who have argued that the government must reduce its spending and cut back on social welfare programs, including Obama’s health care reform law. Obama said that the country must reduce its deficit, but that the nation must work to protect equality of opportunity, in what seemed to be a reference to his battles with congressional Republicans over taxing and spending.

Obama argued that the nation’s entitlement programs make America stronger because they protect this chance at equality. The president also warned in the 2,095-word speech that the country cannot succeed if a “shrinking few” succeed economically while the middle class suffers.

Did you watch President Obama’s inauguration? Did his second inaugural speech cover important national issues? Share your thoughts on his agenda!

Source: Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News

Image: The New Yorker

NASA Satellites Reveal Sudden Greenland Ice Sheet Melt

Greenland ice, it seems, can vanish in a flash, with new satellite images showing that over just a few days this month nearly all of the veneer of surface ice atop the island’s massive ice sheet had thawed. That’s a record for the largest area of surface melt on Greenland in more than 30 years of satellite observations, according to NASA and university scientists.

The images, snapped by three satellites, showed that about 40 percent of the ice sheet had thawed at or near the surface on July 8; just days later, on July 12, images showed a dramatic increase in melting with thawing across 97 percent of the ice sheet surface.

“This was so extraordinary that at first I questioned the result: was this real or was it due to a data error?” said Son Nghiem of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., referring to the July 12 images taken by the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Oceansat-2 satellite.


Nghiem had reason to be baffled, as this record ice-melt is well above average: About half of Greenland’s surface ice tends to melt every summer, with the meltwater at higher elevations quickly refreezing in place and the coastal meltwater either pooling on top of the ice or draining into the sea.  Instruments on two other satellites proved out Nghiem’s findings — the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites.

As for what caused the disappearing ice, University of Georgia, Athens climatologist Thomas Mote suggests it could be a ridge or dome of warm air hovering over Greenland that coincided with the extreme melt. If melted completely, the Greenland ice sheet could contribute 23 feet (7 meters) to global sea-level rise, according to a 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international body charged with assessing climate change.

Scientists say that man-made global warming, a result of greenhouse gas emissions, is contributing to Greenland ice melt. In fact, past research has suggested that the Greenland ice sheet will vanish in 2,000 years under business-as-usual carbon emissions.

Should we be worried about this sudden Greenland ice sheet melt? How should this problem be addressed?

Source: Yahoo News

Image: The Guardian