February 23, 2016
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The Earth is exiting a long period of stable ocean and climate levels during which human civilization grew and flourished, and it's almost certainly due to human activity, scientists in the U.S. and Germany said in a pair of papers published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. One study, led by Rutgers climate scientist Robert Kopp, mapped out changes in sea levels around the globe over the past 2,800 years; oceans rose or fell no more than 1.5 inches a century from ancient Rome's founding until the Industrial Age in the 1800s, the study found, but rose 5.5 inches in the 20th century alone, accelerating to a rate of 12 inches a century by 1993.

The researchers blamed the increasing sea levels on rising global temperatures they and almost all other scientists attribute to the burning of fossil fuels. "Physics tells us that sea-level change and temperature change should go hand-in-hand," Kopp said. "This new geological record confirms it." Kopp and his team estimate that sea levels will rise 22 to 52 inches by 2100 at the current rate, or 11 to 22 inches if nations fully enact the global climate change treaty negotiated in Paris last year.

The second paper, led by Matthias Mengel of Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, similarly estimated that sea levels will rise three to four feet by 2100 if humans don't curb carbon emissions — roughly the same range predicted in 2013 by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Both papers acknowledged that there were significant unknowns in their analyses, but not in a way that should make humanity in general and coastal dwellers in particular feel any safer: If the massive ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica melt, as seems likely, most bets are off.

If that seems distant and theoretical, a third, unpublished study released Monday found that rising temperatures are responsible for a sharp increase in "nuisance floods" in seaside towns along the southern U.S. East Coast over the past 50 years, causing millions of dollars of damage due to incursions of a few feet of saltwater. Most of those floods wouldn't have happened without manmade global warming, the team, from Climate Central, reported. "I think we need a new way to think about most coastal flooding," said lead author Benjamin Strauss. "It's not the tide. It's not the wind. It's us. That's true for most of the coastal floods we now experience." Peter Weber

4:04 p.m. ET
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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is making her operatic debut next month — but she won't be doing any singing. The Washington National Opera announced Friday that Ginsburg will make an appearance for one night in its November production of The Daughter of the Regiment, an 1840 opera by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti.

Ginsburg will be playing the part of the Duchess of Krakenthorp, though her portrayal has been amended to be a speaking role rather than a singing role. And that's not the only change that's being made to the role for Ginsburg — NPR reported some of her lines will reference her daytime job at the Supreme Court:

At one point, for example, after the duchess observes that the best leaders of the House of Krakenthorp have been "persons with open but not empty minds, individuals willing to listen and learn," she looks at the audience meaningfully, and asks, "Is it any wonder that the most valorous members ... have been women?"

She goes on to list the qualifications for admission to the House of Krakenthorp, some of which sound suspiciously like the qualifications for being a Supreme Court justice — i.e., "must possess the fortitude to undergo intense scrutiny," and have a "character beyond reproach." [NPR]

Instead of her usual robe and decorative collars, though, Ginsburg will be wearing an extravagant, feathered hat.

Ginsburg has long been a fan of opera and has even appeared as an extra in three productions, but the fact that she lacks singing chops has prevented her from taking on a role of her own. You can catch Ginsburg at the opera on Nov. 12, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Becca Stanek

3:32 p.m. ET
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Donald Trump's posts on Facebook were flagged by users and employees for qualifying as hate speech, employees told The Wall Street Journal. In an article published Friday, it was revealed Facebook employees wanted the Republican candidate's posts pulled from the site, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg ultimately ruled against their removal, saying it would send the wrong message to censor a presidential candidate.

The discussion began when Trump posted a link on Dec. 7, 2015, to a campaign statement that called for "preventing Muslim immigration." Zuckerberg ruled later that month not to remove the post, even as some employees complained that the decision amounted to a special exception for Trump:

Users flagged the December content as hate speech, a move that triggered a review by Facebook's community-operations team, with hundreds of employees in several offices world-wide. Some Facebook employees said in internal chat rooms that the post broke Facebook's rules on hate speech as detailed in its internal guidelines, according to people familiar with the matter.

Content reviewers were asked by their managers not to remove the post, according to some of the people familiar. Facebook's head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, later explained in an internal post that the company wouldn't take down any of Mr. Trump's posts because it strives to be impartial in the election season, according to people who saw the post. [The Wall Street Journal]

"Banning a U.S. presidential candidate is not something you do lightly," a person familiar with the discussion said. Facebook has struggled to appear nonpartisan during the campaign, and has faced accusations of manipulating its Trending topics news module. Jeva Lange

3:28 p.m. ET

While campaigning in Fletcher, North Carolina, on Friday, Donald Trump justified his attacks on Hillary Clinton's husband's infidelities by claiming first lady Michelle Obama leveled them first. "Wasn't [Obama] the one that originally started the statement, if you can't take care of your home ... you can't take care of the White House or the country?" Trump asked the assembled crowd, referencing a remark Obama first made in 2007.

Trump has recently suggested former President Bill Clinton's infidelities are evidence Hillary Clinton isn't able to handle the obligations of being president, but what he failed to note at his Friday rally is that the full context of Obama's statement indicates she was talking about balancing childcare with presidential obligations. At the 2007 event where she made that comment, Obama followed her remark with an explanation that she and husband President Barack Obama have "adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips." Both the first lady and President Obama have also outright denied suggestions her remark had anything to do with Clinton, who was facing then-Sen. Obama for the Democratic nomination.

Still, Trump took the first lady's comment and ran with it. "She's the one that started that. I said, 'We can't say that, it's too vicious.' Can you believe it? I said that," Trump said. "They said, 'Well, Michelle Obama said it.' I said, 'She did?' Now she said that, but we don't hear about that." Becca Stanek

3:17 p.m. ET

The so-called "gig economy" is growing, and its participants seem pretty chipper: Between 20 and 30 percent of the working-age population in the U.S. and Europe — about 162 million people — are independent workers, according to a recent study from McKinsey. When asked to rank their career satisfaction across a range of metrics, these people reported being happier and more satisfied professionally than workers in traditional jobs "by every measure."

"They like being their own boss, they like the independence and the flexibility and the creativity," one of the study co-authors told The Wall Street Journal.

Research shows that 18 percent of full-time independent workers make more than $100,000 a year — which does sound quite satisfying indeed. Kelly Gonsalves

2:17 p.m. ET
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You never know where Bill Murray is going to pop up. There is as good a chance as any you'll run into him at your favorite bar, your karaoke night, or, you know, while shooting your engagement photos.

Indeed, where Murray may wander has no limits. On Friday, decked in Chicago Cubs gear, the actor popped into the briefing room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue just after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had finished his daily briefing. When asked for an explanation by The Hill, a spokesperson confirmed Murray will be receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday from President Obama, which is why he was lurking around the White House in the first place.

Joe Biden, Michelle Obama — stay on your toes. Jeva Lange

1:59 p.m. ET

Oprah Winfrey thinks it's totally irrelevant whether voters actually like Hillary Clinton. "She's not coming over to your house! You don't have to like her," Winfrey, who endorsed Clinton in June, said in a clip from an interview with Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes that's set to air next Thursday.

Winfrey admitted she is totally fed up with undecided voters saying, "I just don't know if I like her." That, Winfrey argued, isn't at all what matters in this election — not when so much is at stake. "There really is no choice, people," Winfrey said.

Winfrey encouraged people to consider their feelings for America instead of their affection for Clinton. "Do you like freedom and liberty?" she said. "Do you like this country? Okay. Do you like democracy or do you want a demagogue? Okay, there you go."

Watch Winfrey make her case, below. Becca Stanek

1:26 p.m. ET
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When Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton during the final presidential debate to blurt that she was a "nasty woman," many liberals took up the designation with pride. Not everyone agrees the words are something to rally around, though. After being asked if Trump's comment was "appropriate" on The Alan Colmes Show on Thursday, Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) insisted the line was entirely called for:

COLMES: You think it's appropriate to call her a nasty woman?

REP. BABIN: Well I'm a genteel Southern gentleman, Alan.

COLMES: So does that mean no?

REP. BABIN: No, I think sometimes a lady needs to be told when she's being nasty. [Fox News]

Counterpoint: Sometimes a man needs to be told when he's misused the word "gentleman." Jeva Lange

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