Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Arnold's hope on climate change, disses Palin

With the pessimism, gloom, doubt and angst which persisted throughout the U.N. Summit in Copenhagen and continues without a legally binding agreement, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger penned an op-ed piece which really was a breath of fresh air which provides hope on this issue. Schwarzenegger passionately argued that real progress on combating climate change is occuring at the local, state and provincial level, and lays out a pretty convincing case. Although I disagree with him when it comes to using coal in the short term, he is pretty much spot on.

And in an interview with the Financial Times, Schwarzenegger also took a swipe at former Alaska Governor and delusional Church lady Sarah Palin, regarding her grossly uninformed and ignorant views on climate change:

You have to ask: what was she trying to accomplish? Is she really interested in this subject or is she interested in her career and in winning the nomination [for president]?

Local Governments Can Lead Fight Against Climate Change

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Posted: December 15, 2009 09:42 AM

COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- This week leaders from around the world gather here, in a quest for a global pact to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and tackle the single greatest challenge of our time.

I am joining them, to discuss the urgency of their efforts, the economic opportunities we can seize, and the tremendous role of subnational governments in climate-change mitigation.

Some pundits have described Copenhagen as the most important world summit since the end of the Second World War. And it has been suggested that without a binding international agreement, the fight against climate change is unwinnable.

Now, it certainly would be terrific if the world's governments reached such an agreement. But as much as 80 percent of the necessary greenhouse-gas reductions will happen at the subnational level. So why should we focus all our faith and hope in international action?

Throughout the course of history, all great movements have been born at the grassroots level. The American independence movement, the civil-rights movement and the women's suffrage movement were all begun by people who did not wait for others. Then they gained momentum and speed, and swept throughout our nation.

There is a lesson in this when discussing climate change. Even in the absence of national and international commitments, we must not ignore the tremendous movement that is already under way to solve our environmental and energy problems.

For example, states, provinces and cities have been busy passing their own laws and emission targets.

In California, we are implementing a law to cut our greenhouse-gas emissions 25 percent by the year 2020. We approved the world's first Low Carbon Fuel Standard and tailpipe emissions standards, which the Obama administration has now adopted.

We have gone out and formed partnerships with other states, provinces and cities in America, Canada, China, Mexico and Europe. And right now we are working with the U.N. to assist developing countries, especially in Africa.

There is a great tectonic shift already under way that is gaining strength every day. And everyone is getting involved, from businesses and entrepreneurs who are investing billions of dollars into green technology, to ordinary citizens who are buying more energy-efficient appliances, conserving water and choosing to pursue greener lifestyles on their own.

There are so many amazing examples.

Right now a foundation in the San Francisco Bay Area is investing in efforts to help upgrade cement factories in China.

Rajendra Pachauri, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, has started an initiative to replace kerosene lanterns with solar lights for 1 billion rural people.

Electric utilities are installing millions of square feet of solar panels on warehouse rooftops.

Four of the world's largest meat producers have agreed not to buy cattle from deforested areas of the Amazon.

And this movement is about much more than just protecting the environment. It is also about seizing an incredible economic opportunity.

We can create a new economic foundation for the 21st century that is built on clean fuels, clean cars and clean energy.

Today, California leads the United States with more than 125,000 green jobs. In fact, over the last decade, green jobs in California have grown at nearly triple the rate of total job growth.

And it's not just happening in California.

Green jobs in Idaho have jumped 126 percent; in Kansas, 51 percent; in New Mexico, 50 percent.

Texas, which produces the most wind power of any state, has enjoyed a 16 percent increase.

One hundred and fifty years ago, the Industrial Revolution changed the world and ushered in a new era of prosperity. Today, the Green Revolution can do the same.

And to make that happen, we need everyone to come together and sacrifice for the common good, including the environmental community.

Environmentalists must stop letting the perfect become the enemy of the possible. They cannot oppose coal-fired power plants and at the same time block transmission lines for solar fields and wind farms. They cannot oppose safe and controlled offshore drilling, while also opposing nuclear energy.

If we all work together -- environmentalists, businesses, activists, ordinary citizens and subnational governments -- we can push our nations and the world toward a clean, sustainable future. And regardless of what happens in Copenhagen, we will continue pushing ahead toward that future, because we know we must succeed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Alan Grayson to Dick Cheney: STFU

Firebrand and rising progressive star Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida (a genuine throwback to an oldschool Democratic who actually cares about the little man) brought his A-game to Hardball last night. Chris Matthews asked Grayson about Dick Cheney's habit of taking constant shots at President Obama, and specifically his most recent criticism that Obama was giving "aid and comfort to the enemy," which essentially is constitutional language which identifies treason. Grayson replied by telling Cheney what exactly to do, by using an infamous internet acronym:

Grayson: I don't know. You know, on the Internet there's an acronym that's used to apply to situations like this. It's called "STFU." I don't think I can say that on the air, but I think you know what that means.
Matthews: Well, give me the first part.

Grayson: "Shut."

Matthews: Oh! I got you. Stop talking, in crude language. Well, I don't think you're gonna get him to do that.

From there, the conversation turned to Cheney's absolutely ludricious charge that Obama had displayed weakness by bowing to the Emperor of Japan, and as a result had exposed America to future terrorist attacks. Grayson responded with:

It's just too bad that it's too late to impeach him. That's all I can say.

But I suppose the following was okay with Cheney and didn't expose the country to potential terrorist attacks:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spectacular UFO over Norway

Residents in northern Norway are utterly baffled by a bizarre and dazzling UFO which flashed over and completely illuminated the night sky. An eye witness said:

The phenomenon began when what appeared to be a blue light seemed to soar up from behind a mountain. It stopped mid-air, then began to circulate. Within seconds a giant spiral had covered the entire sky. Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its centre - lasting for ten to twelve minutes before disappearing completely...like a big fireball that went around, with a great light around it...a shooting star that spun around and around.

The sighting appears to be completely unrelated to the aurora borealis and the northern lights, the natural magnetic phenomena which can often be seen in Scandinavia. The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooded with phone calls.

Totto Eriksen, from Tromsø, witnessed the phenomenon while he walked his daughter Amalie to school. He told VG Nett:

It spun and exploded in the sky. We saw it from the Inner Harbor in Tromsø. It was absolutely fantastic. It almost looked like a rocket that spun around and around and then went diagonally down the heavens. It looked like the moon was coming over the mountain, but then came something completely different.

Astronomer Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard said he had never seen anything like the lights:

My first thought was that it was a fireball meteor, but it has lasted far too long. It may have been a missile in Russia, but I can not guarantee that it is the answer.

Air traffic control in Tromsō said the sighting lasted "far too long to be an astronomical phenomenon". Norwegian defence spokesman Jon Espen Lien said the lights were probably from a Russian missile test. He claimed that it was normal for Russia to use the White and the Barents Seas for testing. Tromsō Geophysical Observatory researcher Truls Lynne Hansen agreed with the missile theory, saying the missile had likely veered out of control and exploded, and the spiral was light reflecting on the leaking fuel. However, Russia denied conducting missile tests in the area. A Moscow news organization quoted the Russian Navy as denying any testing in the White Sea area. Normally, Norway would have been informed of missile launches, according to diplomatic agreements.

Hope for the disabled

Touch Bionics is providing hope for the disabled with ProDigits, a truly remarkable new product. ProDigits is the world's first bionic powered digits (fingers) and the motion range and grip complexity which it provides will surely change lives for the better. But in a price range of $57,000 to $73,000, it is expensive, however with the dramatic improvements it can make in one's life, that price could be worth it.

Gore hits back

With the U.N. climate change summit underway in Copenhagen, Former Vice-President Al Gore has been making the media rounds not only promoting his new book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis, but also hitting back at climate change deniers.

In an interview with Slate.com, Gore discussed environmental policy, the significance of the Copenhagen summit, and the hacked emails from the University of East Anglia. The emails were "taken wildly out of context" and the apparent climate change skeptic outrage is "sound and fury signifying nothing." Gore went further by questioning the basic intelligence of the deniers:

The basic facts are incontrovertible. What do they think happens when we put 90 million tons up there every day? Is there some magic wand they can wave on it and presto!--physics is overturned and carbon dioxide doesn't trap heat anymore? And when we see all these things happening on the Earth itself, what in the hell do they think is causing it?

Gore also appeared on CNN last night in an interview covering the same subject matter. And in an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, Gore addressed the barely literate climate change denial ramblings of Sarah Palin: "It's a principle. It's like gravity. It exists."

Right-wing think tanks and fossil fuel industry in collusion on climate denial

Well once again this should come as no surprise. The current uproar and charge over climate change involving hacked emails from the University of East Anglia is being led by a well funded conglomerate of American right-wing think tanks, whose purpose is to confuse, feed lies and misinformation, and champion delaying the curbing of climate change. This campaign has been ongoing for well over a decade, since the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, orchestrated by the free-market worshipping right-wing think tanks (who previously championed the Iraq War and got everything wrong), who trot out so-called "experts" who not only question but attempt to debunk or play down the scientific evidence of climate change. Their purpose is to attempt to place doubt into the public's and government's perception and understanding of the issue, and delay as long as possible the introduction and implementation of clean, green home grown, renewable energy sources.

So, why are right-wing think tanks doing this? They're conducting this despicable and immoral campaign because they have deep ties and receive financial support from the fossil fuel industry. The following outlines some of the right-wing think tanks involved and their sources of funding:

Center for a Constructive Tomorrow: runs and owns ClimateDepot.com, one of the main platforms for right-wing climate change denial. The site is managed by Marc Morano, who was once an aide to chief climage skeptic and fossil fuel champion (as well as financial recipient) Republican Senator James Inhofe. The Center for a Constructive Tomorrow has received funding from Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and right-wing groups with fossil fuel industry connections such as the Carthage Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

American Enterprise Institute: The AEI once made an offer to pay "experts" $10,000 to author reports which countered climate change evidence and the IPCC reports. AEI has received millions of dollars from ExxonMobil, and former Exxon Chairman Lee Raymond is a member of the AEI's board of directors.

Media Research Center: operated by Brett Bozell, this organization also runs the popular right-wing blog Newsbusters.org. Since 1998, the Media Research Center has received over $257,000 from ExxonMobil.

Cato Institute: This think tank often uses climate change denier Patrick Michaels to spew their pro-fossil fuel industry agenda. The Cato Institute receives funding from Koch Industries Inc. (the largest private energy company in the United States). David Koch is a member of the board of directors of the Cato Institute.

Heartland Institute: For the past three years, this right-wing think tank has organized an annual "denier conference". While it used to receive funding from ExxonMobil, the Heartland Institute still receives money from tobacco companies.

Heritage Foundation: This think tank has received considerable funding from ExxonMobil.

National Center for Policy Analysis: It's a small but active Dallas-based think tank, and since 1998 it has received over half a million dollars in financial conbributions from ExxonMobil.

Competitive Enterprise Institute: This organization is very adamant in its support for climate change denial and it has received millions from ExxonMobil since 1998.

Greenpeace kicking where it will hurt

A new Greenpeace advertising campaign is targeting President Obama and other global leaders for their already predicted and widely expected failure to ratify a legally binding climate change agreement, that contains serious emission curbing targets which meet the approval of international scientists. The ads depict various leaders, such as Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, at an elderly age in 2020 apologizing for their failure to address the climate crisis. The ads read:

I'm sorry. We could have stopped catastrophic climate change... We didn't.

See the rest of the ads here.

Disgusting hog man at it again

On his radio show yesterday, fat drug addict and major league hypocrite Rush Limbaugh spewed his racial pontifications once more by discussing "the black frame of mind," that is "terrible." The hog man proposed that a major factor in his b.s. theory are Tiger Wood's white mistresses.

Black unemployment is terrible. The black frame of mind is terrible. They're depressed.

He then chided President Obama for not delivering to blacks, and then commented on Tiger Woods:

I'm sure Tiger Woods' choice of females is not helping 'em out with their attitudes there either.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Shocking: former Bush officials muddying climate change waters

As if this won't come as a surprise to you: twenty-two former Bush administration officials who were responsible for climage change policy are currently employed by major industries (such as oil, gas and mining) and are lobbying against curbing climate change. A Washington based watchdog organization called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington discovered this and documented it in a new report. Executive Director Melanie Sloan:

These alumni of the Bush climate team continue to shape and confuse the debate over global warming. They may have changed their uniforms, but they're still playing for the same team.

With a total of one hundred and twenty staff officials at the White House's Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Environmental Protection Agency, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and Washington discovered twenty-two individuals who are now employed by major industries, and fourteen of them are registered lobbyists. The most infamous circumstance in this matter involves Philip Cooney. Cooney worked for the Council on Environmental Quality, but quit in 2005 after he altered climate studies in order to minimize and curtail climate change evidence. Before joining the Council on Environmental Quality, Cooney's employer was the American Petroleum Institute, and after he left the Council on Environmental Quality, he went to work for Exxon-Mobil.

The report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington implies that the loud and vocal skepticism (or rather incredible stupidity and ignornace) regarding climate change is a result of disinformation being promoted by industry lobbyists like Cooney:

Through lobbying and industry-manufactured 'grassroots' activities, these individuals continue to influence and confuse the debate over global warming and hamper the efforts of the current administration to help establish a public consensus on this issue.

Honestly, what sociopathic assholes. These are the kind of people that lack any kind of morals or values.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Greenpeace taking it to the man

On the opening day of United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen, nineteen Greenpeace activists breached security and occupied roofs on Ottawa's Parliament buildings to protest the lack of serious commitment and action of Prime Minister Harper and Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff to curb the ongoing climate crisis. Harper and Ignatieff were specifically targeted for their inability to endorse legally binding, science-based targets which will lead to significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The protesters used two 12 x 7 metre banners on the West Block of Parliament which said: "Harper/Ignatieff: Climate Inaction Costs Lives" Banners calling for an end to the tar sands development were also hoisted at the East Block and across entrances.

Mike Hudema, a Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, was one of those on the West Block roof:

Harper and Ignatieff are failing to take seriously the staggering human tragedy of the climate crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people die every year and millions more are displaced because Canada and other developed counties don’t take action on climate change. The Global Humanitarian Forum warns that this is just the beginning of the human tragedy of climate chaos.

Christy Ferguson, a Greenpeace climate and energy campaign coordinator, was also present at the protest:

Harper says he only supports modest reduction targets, Ignatieff has issued his climate thoughts without any reduction targets at all. It’s unacceptable for them to ignore the demand from Canadians for action. It is time Harper and Ignatieff stopped serving the interests of the dirty oil industry in the tar sands and helped lead the way to a just and ambitious climate agreement in Copenhagen. Millions of lives depend on climate action.

This is the fifth major protest Greenpeace has undertaken since September to highlight a lack of urgency regarding climate change by the federal government, as well as Alberta's tar sands development and the effect that development is having on our climate. Greenpeace and over one hundred other organizations have mobilized 150,000 Canadians through the KYOTOplus campaign, and are demanding action from the Harper government to curb the potential disastrous consequences of not taking the climate crisis seriously. Prime Minister Harper and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff have ignored requests to sign on to KYOTOplus and listen to the majority of Canadians who want serious action taken on this pressing issue.

Hope? Maybe

At a news conference yesterday in Copenhagen, Yvo de Boer, the United Nation's highest climate official, called on the 192 nations participating in the U.N. climate summit starting today "to deliver a strong and long-term response to the challenge of climate change." The U.N. Environment Programs released a study showing that the pledges of both industrial and developing countries fall short of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions which scientists have called for. But, they just fell short, and the gap is narrow. "For those who claim a deal in Copenhagen is impossible, they are simply wrong," said the director of the U.N. Environment Programs or UNEP, Achim Steiner. I hope you're right Achim. Negotiations to establish targets for the leading polluters to control emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases are currently ongoing. An attempt to reach an agreement on how much wealthy countries should contribute financially to assist poor countries to handle climate change is also being persued.

In the face of climate change denial and skepticism from right-wing, pro-industry morons, de Boer stood firm and defended climate change research, reviewed by 2,500 scientists, clearly shows that humans have fuelled the climate crisi by burning fossil fuels: "I think this is about the most credible piece of science that there is out there." Meanwhile, American climate negotiator Jonathan Pershing said the science and evidence was "very robust, very substantial."

De Boer also said that the summit has to be a "turning point" in the world's response to the crisis, and that emission targets announced in the lead up to the summit have been increasing the chances for success, even if they fall short of what scientists say is required to avoid dangerous levels of warming:

Never in the 17 years of climate negotiations have so many different nations made so many firm pledges together. It's simply unprecedented...it's going to be two weeks of thorough negotiation to try and get the ambition level up and to get the financial specifics on the table.

The UNEP report stated that all countries combined should not emit any rate higher than forty-four billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2020, in order to avoid diastrous consequences of a warming planet. If this current level of mediocre progress is to continue, the report found that emissions will total forty-six billion tons annually in 2020. Emissions are currently at approximately forty-seven billion tons. Steiner has a realistic view and stated that the "gap has narrowed significantly. People overestimate the possibility of closing that gap." He cautioned that the figures included many variables, and presumed that all nations would commit to their promised targets. What also must be considered is that progress can be hampered with the election of corporate and industry friendly, science-denying right-wing governments.

U.N. scientists in a 2007 report concluded that industrial countries should cut emissions by twenty-five to forty percent below 1990 levels in the next decade, while developing nations should curb the growth of their emissions by fifteen to thirty percent. The European Union is getting close to that target, promising to cut emissions by twenty percent below 1990 levels, and even more if others agree (I love Europe but couldn't they lead by example as they usually do?). The Obama administration meanwhile is waiting on Congress to take action (great, figures, leave it to someone else to take the initiative Obama), so the American president has made a seventeen percent reduction offer by 2020 from 2005 levels. Against 1990, experts conclude it is only a 3 to 4 percent cut. Right, change we can believe in.

Developing countries are picking up the pace and are offering clean energy projects and other actions to curb emission growth. By 2020, China has said it will reduce emissions by forty to forty-five percent below 2005 levels for energy used versus economic output. India has offered to curb emissions growth by twenty to twenty percent. According to de Boer, China's commitment alone is equal to approximately one-fourth of the action required to meet scientific predictions that the planet's average temperature would rise no more than two degrees Centigrade (3.6F) above preindustrial levels.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Geithner and Bernanke “complicit” in financial meltdown, should go

Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was featured in an extended interview on Democracy Now! yesterday, in which he discussed last year's economic meltdown and the complicity of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the crisi. Spitzer said that both Bernanke and Geithner "actually built and participated in creating the structure that now has collapsed."

She's such an idiot

Sarah Palin must be an unhinged loon with an obvious disconnect with reality, or she thinks that we're all stupider than she is. In an interview with a right-wing radio host, Palin said that the so-called birther movement (the right-wing conspiracy theorists who believe President Obama isn't an American citizen, which has been debunked), which has been trying to make an issue out of Obama's place of birth, is legitimate. Then, Palin tried to deny this. MSNBC's David Shuster interviewed Newsweek's Richard Wolffe about Palin's latest gaffe on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Teabaggers causing problems for the GOP, and Democrats?

Virginia Governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine recently commented on the so-called Tea Party movement, and believes that his party will benefit from the fringe group's attack on moderate and conventional Republican figures. On MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, David Shuster spoke with Arianna Huffington who agreed with Governor Kaine that the Teabaggers were causing for Republicans who face party primaries, but also added that the Democrats might not necessarily benefit in the 2010 midterm elections.

Space Shuttle Atlantis images

The crew of the space shuttle Atlantis are back home following a week long operation which involved resupplying the International Space Station. Several incredible
photos were taken of their mission, the Earth, the shuttle and the station. The images were released to the public shortly after they were taken.

Astronaut Robert L. Satcher Jr. uses a digital camera to take a photo of his helmet visor while doing construction and maintenance on the International Space Station. The reflection in his visor also captures parts of the station and astronaut Mike Foreman.

The bright sun greets the International Space Station.

Astronaut Randy Bresnik on the second spacewalk of the mission continues maintenance on the International Space Station.

This shot of astronaut Mike Foreman's helmet captures his crewmate Randy Bresnik, who's taking the photo with an electronic camera.

The sun appears in the sky beyond the International Space Station.

Astronaut Mike Foreman works on the International Space Station during the mission's first session of extravehicular activity (EVA), The spacewalk lasted six hours and 37 minutes.

Astronaut Robert L. Satcher Jr. is pictured here anchored to a Canadarm2 mobile foot restraint during a spacewalk.

A part of the International Space Station captured against the Sinai Peninsula.

Astronaut Robert L. Satcher Jr. performs maintenance on the International Space Station.

More here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The tar sands suck

The Canadian tar sands is the world's largest, and dirtiest, energy project. Dirty oil sands crude generates as much as five times greenhouse gas as conventional oil. Yet, unless steps are taken by the U.S. and Canada, both countries will become irrevocably addicted to the dirtiest oil on earth.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The seven biggest lies about the supposed "global warming hoax"

From the Huffington Post:

A few weeks ago, hackers broke into the emails of one of the Climate Research Unit of The University of East Anglia, and climate skeptics have been having a field day making mountains out of molehills about what the emails contain. The verdict on global warming is in -- it's caused by humans and it is happening and nothing in the emails remotely challenges that. However, with the internet abuzz about what has been labeled "ClimateGate," we thought we should set the record straight about the rumors, lies and insinuations about what the emails actually contain -- and what they "prove" about climate change. "ClimateGate" itself is a misnomer, the nickname should be "SwiftHack" for the way people with political agendas have "swiftboated" the global warming reality. As world attention turns to the climate conference in Copenhagen this December, this email hack acts as a distraction from the huge task at hand of getting world leaders to commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As professor Richard Somerville says, "We're facing an effort by special interests who are trying to confuse the public."

CLAIM: Scientists have manipulated data.

Skeptics have been pointing to an email from scientist Phil Jones where he said he used a "trick" with his data. As climate expert Bob Ward writes, "Scientists say 'trick' not just to mean deception. They mean it as a clever way of doing something -- a short cut can be a trick." RealClimate also explained that "the 'trick' is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term 'trick' to refer to ... 'a good way to deal with a problem', rather than something that is 'secret', and so there is nothing problematic in this at all."

CLAIM: Scientists had private doubts about whether the world really is heating up.

TRUTH: Combing through over a decade of personal correspondence, which is then taken out of context can seem to prove just about anything. Skeptics have been pointing to one email from Kevin Trenberth, in which he said, "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." However, this is clear example of cherrypicking quotes. Trenberth was referring to that there was an "incomplete explanation" of the short-term variability of temperatures, but concludes that "global warming is unequivocally happening."

CLAIM: These scientists worked to suppress evidence and deleted emails.

TRUTH: Thousands of emails from over 13 years were stolen, and edited, and have been taken out of context for those with a political agenda. As blogger Jeff Masters writes,

"Even if every bit of mud slung at these scientists were true, the body of scientific work supporting the theory of human-caused climate change—which spans hundreds of thousands of scientific papers written by tens of thousands of scientists in dozens of different scientific disciplines—is too vast to be budged by the flaws in the works of the three or four scientists being subject to the fiercest attacks."

As climate czar Carol Brower says, "I'm sticking with the 2,500 scientists [of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.] These people have been studying this issue for a very long time and agree this problem is real."

CLAIM: Scientists have been working to remove skeptical peers from the climate discussion.

TRUTH: Organization politics, disagreement and strife are hardly foreign ideas in university, research and scientific communities. As the blog run by climate scientists Real Climate writes, "Since emails are normally intended to be private, people writing them are, shall we say, somewhat freer in expressing themselves than they would in a public statement." Again, this does not remotely prove any sort of cover-up, and the critiques of these papers were made and debated by scientists PUBLICLY, but perhaps less bluntly than they were stated in the emails. (Here's what the "infamous" line about keeping people out and peer review was ACTUALLY about.)

CLAIM: These emails are the final nail in the coffin for the idea that humans cause global warming.

TRUTH: If the denier's wildest claims were true that are bantered around throughout the Internet, wouldn't nearly 15 years of emails ACTUALLY SHOW some of these insipid rumors to be true?

More from Real Climate: "More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though."

CLAIM: This reignites the debate about if global warming is real.

TRUTH: There is strong consensus in scientific community that global warming is real and is caused by humans. The top scientists in the world have just released a new report on the realities of global warming. Kevin Grandia summarizes some of the key points about emissions, melting ice sheets, and rising sea levels. The emails don't change any of this reality.

Michael Moore on Larry King

Following President Obama's address on his administration's new Afghan war strategy, Michael Moore appeared on CNN's Larry King Live to discuss the futility of this new strategy and war. Once a staunch supporter of Obama, it appears that Moore is slowly coming to grips with the corporate centrist that the president is, especially considering his recent open letter to him.

Bernie Sanders on Obama's Afghanistan strategy

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe to discuss President Obama's Afghan war speech. It's always great to see Bernie receiving coverage on a major cable news network. His message and perspective is needed.

Shatner grills Limbaugh on health care

William Shatner goes toe-to-toe with racist hatemonger Rush Limbaugh in an upcoming episode of Raw Nerve, his half hour show on the Biography Channel in which he interviews celebrity and other high profile guests. The debate is quite heated as Shatner nails Limbaugh on the moral implications of Americans being uninsured, but Limbaugh being the heartless creep he is, attempts to compare health insurance to home ownership, and doesn't see a difference between real estate and real life and death scenarios for millions of uninsured Americans. Limbaugh goes on to profess that the American health care system is not broken, and that he studies these issues closely. Right. I guess Rush missed this and this then.

Bill Maher to IHOP: Cut the Cruel Cages

Major restaurant chains like Denny's, Burger King, Wendy's, Quiznos, Hardee's and Carl's Jr. have already started using some cage-free eggs, but IHOP refuses to follow their lead. Bill Maher has joined with The HSUS in urging IHOP to move in the right direction. Will you do the same?

Please take action.

Republican Senator: "lived off public tit"

Yesterday morning on C-SPAN, Republican Senator and major league jackass Chuck Grassley finally did something and admitted that not only is the proposed health care reform legislation not tantamount to socialism, but also that he has "lived off the public tit" as an elected official. A viewer who called in pointed out that as elected official, Grassley as an elected politician (and despite being a staunch Republican), has been living off the taxpayer. Grassley admitted this:

For the first 16 years I made $3,000 every other year as a state legislator. Now do you expect me to live on $3,000 every other year? No I was a factory worker for 10years and I was a farmer for that period of time and I farm with my son now. So if you're trying to make a case that I've lived off the public tit all these years, I think you're saying correctly in the years I've been in the Congress but not the years before I came to Congress.

The hypocrisy of Republicans is astounding. They're completely opposed to providing public health insurance to American citizens, but it's okay for them to receive it.

Prohibition era speak-easy club and bowling lane discovered

"We recently purchased a building in Queens, and while clearing out the basement we discovered a two lane manual bowling alley in very good condition. We did some research and this basement was most probably a club during the Prohibition era. Would you or someone you know be interested [in the space]?"

According to the owner, the bowling lanes were hidden under boxes and boxes of junk. After researching the property, the owner now believes the basement was a speak-easy club during the Prohibition Era, with two bowling lanes to entertain customers.

There's more here.

Deer runs through city, swims across Hudson River

First a deer turned heads last week by visiting downtown Toronto. Now, New Jersey residents were treated to the same site as a deer wandered through Jersey City, jumped into the Hudson River and swam to Governor's Island. Once the deer made it to shore, police shot it with a tranquilizer and took it to a nature reserve on Staten Island.

This summer's total solar eclipse from Iwo Jima

Some mesmerizing footage of one of our universe's wonders.

Marilyn Monroe bunning a spliff?

Newly discovered home movie footage of Marilyn Monroe shows her smoking what could be a big, fat joint. The silent footage, filmed fifty years ago, has Monroe and a few acquaintances sitting on a couch in a living room, all smiles and laughs and enjoying themselves.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yet again both sides are to blame

Brutal violence erupted once again in East Jerusalem between Israeli settlers and Palestinians, after the settlers moved into territory formerly inhabited by Palestinians. The BBC reported that the disputed land in the Sheik Jarrah district is disputed:

The house is one of a group of properties which both Palestinian and Jewish families claim to own. Israeli courts have recently ruled in favour of the Jewish claims in some of the cases.

The New York Times meanwhile provided more information, explaining that the home was built and owned by a Palestinian family, who have since been evicted due to building the home without permits:

The latest Jewish residents to move into the area were escorted by the police and private security guards and immediately removed furniture from the property, which was built by a Palestinian family headed by Refka al-Kurd, 87.

The small, one-story structure was built about 10 years ago as an extension of the Kurds’ original home, but it was unoccupied, having been sealed by the authorities after it was determined to have been constructed without the proper permits.

'The authorities took our keys to the property because we built it without permits,” said Nabil al-Kurd, 66, who lives in the original house. “But it seems the settlers can live here without permits because they are the sons of God,” he said bitterly, referring to the Jewish newcomers.'

It appears the Palestinians provoked the violence, so yet again both sides are to blame. Israel continues to opress the Palestinians and take their land, and the Palestinians resort to violence. In a statement issued today, the United Nations said that the:

secretary general has expressed his dismay at the continuation of demolitions, evictions and the installment of Israeli settlers in Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem. Provocative actions such as these, create inevitable tensions, undermine trust, often have tragic human consequences and make resuming negotiations and achieving a two-state solution more difficult.

Massive dazzling meteor in South African sky

CCTV from South Africa filmed this remarkable footage of a meteor completely illuminating the night sky a few weekends ago. A witness told Eyewitness News:

...like an orange stripe in the sky, followed by a very bright explosion where the sky lit up as if it was daytime.

According to Britain's Daily Telegraph, scientists are still trying to determine where the meteor may have landed.

Nazi science experiments in Brazilian town?

The world has long been intrigued and perplexed by the small Brazilian town Candido Godol. Candido Godol has arguably the world's highest birth rate for twins, that is practically one thousand percent higher than the world's average:

The 80 households in a one-square-mile area have reportedly some 38 pairs of twins. Blond, blue-eyed twins.

National Geographic Explorer is about to investigate this bizarre Brazilian phenomenon, and present an unsettling premise for what is occuring in Candido Godol. Explorer will present a hypothesis that notorious Nazi scientist and war criminal Joseph Mengele, who alluded international authorities for years by fleeing to Brazil, maintained his research into utilizing twins as a method to hone the seamless Aryan master race Nazis had long fantasized about. One Brazilian historian from the Explorer report, who cites Mengele eyewitness reports in the town, believes he was successful, and that Candido Godol proves this.

More information is available here.


Another one has seen the light. Good for him. A conservative and immensely popular blogger has not only ditched but also repudiated America's modern right-wing. Charles Johnson from Little Green Footballs has left the conservative movement and made his announcement in a post last night on the conservative-leaning blog site. Little Green Footballs is one of America's top one hundred blogs, while Johnson is the co-founder of Pajamas Media. His announcement post was called "Why I Parted Ways With The Right", and he renounced the extremism of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Pat Buchanan. Johnson also rejected the online conservative community:

Hatred for President Obama that goes far beyond simply criticizing his policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories (see: witch doctor pictures, tea parties, Birthers, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, World Net Daily, Newsmax, and every other right wing source)...anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide. The American right wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff. I won't be going over the cliff with them.

Johnson's rebutal of the right has been coming for a while now. For the last year, Dave Weigel from the non-partisan Washington Independent has been following Johnson's transformation:

Way back in April, I talked to Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs about his very public arguments with fellow "warbloggers" whom, he believed, had gone off the rails. Johnson told me that he'd never considered himself a 'conservative.'

Good for Johnson. America's conservative movement and the Republican Party has been completely taken over by radicalism and the Christian Right. Past party stalwarts like Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon would not be welcome in today's Republican Party, (they are even much more liberal than many of today's Democrats). Even Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush would not pass the GOP's Purity Test.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Richard Dawkins

From Real Time With Bill Maher, April 11 2008. Richard Dawkins: Oxford evolutionary biologist, Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, author of the widely popular The God Delusion, and a rationalist when it comes to a higher power and organized religion.

Kyoto a "socialist scheme", "tentative and contradictory scientific evidence"

It's unbelievable watching the Harper government attempt to address the climate change crisis, as well as witnessing Prime Minister Harper pontificate about reaching a binding agreement in Copenhagen, when not too long ago the Reform Party gang not only ridiculed the Kyoto Protocol but also the science of climate change itself.

The following is the full text of a letter written in 2002 by Stephen Harper for members of his Canadian Alliance Party, condemning the Kyoto accord and the science of climate change:

Dear Friend,

We’re on a roll, folks!

The Canadian Alliance is once again setting the agenda in the House of Commons. Look at what happened in less than two months since Parliament reopened:

— We bagged another Liberal cabinet minister when we drove the hapless Lawrence MacAulay to resign for violating the ethics guidelines.

— We broke Jean Chrétien’s chokehold on the House of Commons by getting the election of committee chairs and votes on all private members’ bills.

— We finally (!) got the Liberals to agree to set up a national registry for sex offenders.

But we can’t just relax and declare victory. We’re gearing up for the biggest struggle our party has faced since you entrusted me with the leadership. I’m talking about the “battle of Kyoto” — our campaign to block the job-killing, economy-destroying Kyoto Accord.

It would take more than one letter to explain what’s wrong with Kyoto, but here are a few facts about this so-called “Accord”:

— It’s based on tentative and contradictory scientific evidence about climate trends.

— It focuses on carbon dioxide, which is essential to life, rather than upon pollutants.

— Canada is the only country in the world required to make significant cuts in emissions. Third World countries are exempt, the Europeans get credit for shutting down inefficient Soviet-era industries, and no country in the Western hemisphere except Canada is signing.

— Implementing Kyoto will cripple the oil and gas industry, which is essential to the economies of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

— As the effects trickle through other industries, workers and consumers everywhere in Canada will lose. THERE ARE NO CANADIAN WINNERS UNDER THE KYOTO ACCORD.

— The only winners will be countries such as Russia, India, and China, from which Canada will have to buy “emissions credits.” Kyoto is essentially a socialist scheme to suck money out of wealth-producing nations.

— On top of all this, Kyoto will not even reduce greenhouse gases. By encouraging transfer of industrial production to Third World countries where emissions standards are more relaxed, it will almost certainly increase emissions on a global scale.

For a long time, the Canadian Alliance stood virtually alone in opposing the Kyoto Accord, as Bob Mills, our senior environment critic, waged a valiant battle against it. Now, however, allies are stepping forward — eight of 10 provincial governments, and a broad coalition of businesses across Canada — to help us fight the ``battle of Kyoto.”

Jean Chrétien says he will introduce a resolution to ratify Kyoto into Parliament and get it passed before Christmas. We will do everything we can to stop him there, but he might get it passed with the help of the socialists in the NDP and the separatists in the BQ.

But the “battle of Kyoto” is just beginning. Ratification is merely symbolic; Kyoto will not take effect unless and until it is implemented by legislation. We will go to the wall to stop that legislation and at that point we will be on much stronger procedural ground than in trying to block a mere resolution.

The Reform Party defeated the Charlottetown Accord in an epic struggle in the fall of 1992. Now the Canadian Alliance is leading the battle against the Kyoto Accord!

But we can’t do it alone. It will take an army of Canadians to beat Kyoto, just as it did to beat Charlottetown.

We can’t stop Kyoto just in Parliament. We need your help at all levels. We need you to inform yourself about Kyoto, to discuss it with your friends and neighbours, and to write protest letters to newspapers and the government.

And, yes, we need your gifts of money. The “battle of Kyoto” is going to lead directly into the next election. We need your contribution of $500, or $250, or $100, or whatever you can afford, to help us drive the Liberals from power.

Yours truly,
Stephen Harper, MP
Leader of the Opposition [2002]

PS: The “battle of Kyoto” shows why the Canadian Alliance is so important to you and to Canada. All the other federal parties are supporting Kyoto (Liberals, NDP, BQ) or speaking out of both sides of their mouth (Tories). Only the Canadian Alliance is strong and fearless enough to block dangerous and destructive schemes like the Charlottetown Accord and the Kyoto Accord.

Israel lobby goes after Human Rights Watch

America's leading human rights organization has accused Israel and its supporters of an "organized campaign" of false allegations and misinformation in an attempt to discredit the group over its reports of war crimes in Gaza. The campaign against Human Rights Watch has included accusations that the group's reports on the Jewish state are written by "anti-Israel ideologues" and that it has sought funds from Saudi Arabia.

Human Rights Watch homepage

Canadians don't believe the Harper government on Afghan detainees

A majority of Canadians do not believe the Harper government's official line regarding the Canadian military turning over detainees to the Afghan secret police to be tortured. Harris-Decima found that Canadians are twice as likely to believe Richard Colvin's accusation that all detainees given to Afghan authorities by Canadian soldiers were mistreated and government officials knew all about the situation.

• Fifty-one per cent of respondents said they believe Colvin's testimony to the committee last week.

• Only 25 per cent said they believe the government's contention that the diplomat's claims are flimsy and not credible.

• A majority in all regions – except Alberta where 41 per cent believed Colvin and 35 per cent the government – sided with the whistleblower.

• Those who identified themselves as supporters of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives were most inclined to give the government the benefit of the doubt. But even they were almost evenly split, with 40 per cent buying the government's take on the issue and 34 per cent buying Colvin's.

• 70 per cent said it's unacceptable that Canadian forces would hand over prisoners if it's likely they'll be tortured. No less than 60 per cent in any region and even a majority of Conservative supporters subscribed to this view.

When will the world act?

It appears that any hope for a legally binding agreement to be reached at next month's U.N. Copenhagen Climate Conference is pretty much non-existent. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that "significant differences" between leaders regarding combating the climate crisis led to his doubts about an agreement being reached. As if Harper really cares. After all, he used to ridicule taking action on climate change and the science. Harper also further dampened tackling the crisis, arguing that it would be "impossible" to control global emissions if the world's biggest polluters did not sign a deal. He cited "emerging countries" as some of the world's biggest polluters, such as India and China. But please don't take the initiative and try to get something accomplised there Steve.

Harper went on to emphasize that almost every global leader (except himself circa 2002) recognize the emissions dilemma and the requirment for a long-term arrangement. But it's complex and everyone has to be willing participants.

"Our message is that all major economies have to be included. If everyone is not included, you set up the possible risk that certain countries will gain economic advantage...if some contribute, or some contribute disproportionately, then the economic risks for others become enormous."

Although "difficult," Harper believes it is "doable." Yeah right, then do something about it. But we all know how Harper feels about absolute targets, and only doing something if the U.S. does.

Harper, like the hardcore right-winger he is, continues to argue that environmental goals have to be balanced with economic sustainability. Right Steve, because the almighty dollar is just as important as avoiding future global catastrophes. His useless government rejected the Kyoto accord because it was too expensive and damaging to the economy. Whatever.

Every leader in every country is trying to get an agreement that will be effective without imposing too heavy a burden on the economy. We have to work together.

Nice try. You thought it was a "socialist scheme".

Back at the G8 meetings in July, both China and India balked at initiatives commiting them to slashing emissions in half by 2050.

China is the world's largest polluter as it emits the most greenhouse gasses, followed by the United States, the European Union, and India. Yet China's gas emissions are expected to triple or possibly quadruple in the next twenty years. There were hopes that a consensus would be met at the last Asia-Pacific summit, which would serve as a catalyst for reaching a legally binding agreement in Copenhagen, but that of course fizzled out. Global leaders wimped out from previous plans. Reuters acquired the drafts of APEC's closing communiqué which had been rewritten with much more soft and vague assurances, as opposed to the previous plans which compelled members to cut emissions by fifty percent from 1990 levels by 2050: "We believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be substantially reduced by 2050." Whatever. China, the United States, Canada and other APEC countries represent forty percent of the global economy, while also producing sixty percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, developing nations persist that due to their manufactured products the west purchases, and therefore sustain the pollution in the process, western nations should finance the cost of controlling and reducing the pollution: if the developing world is the west's factory, than the West should contributions to its maintenance. The west counters this by arguing that the developing nations should embrace new, cleaner technologies and avoid the mistakes they made in the past. And so the proverbial tit-for-tat game continues, as does the climate crisis.

Shut up Harper

While onboard the HMCS Ville de Québec in Port of Spain, Trinidad, yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper essentially called critics of the government's policy of transferring prisoners to Afghan jailers unpatriotic, and that they were undermining the Canadian military:

When some in the political arena do not hesitate before throwing the most serious of allegations at our men and women in uniform, based on the most flimsy of evidence, remember that Canadians from coast to coast to coast are proud of you and stand behind you, and I am proud of you, and I stand beside you.

Nice try Bush. This isn't about the troops. It's about your government's deplorable policies.

Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Bob Rae hammered Harper (and rightfully so) for his “reprehensible” accusation that the oppostions parties are somehow denigrating the military by enquring about the handling of Afghan detainees. Rae said it's not about looking into the conduct of Canadian soldiers, but rather questioning the actions of the Harper government. To suggest that some political parties are stronger advocates of the Canadian military than others is “reprehensible" and arguing that asking questions regarding Afghan detainees is "somewhat unpatriotic, is frankly beyond the pale.”

To play that card the way he has played it, is I think, grossly unfair. And to suggest that in any question that’s been posed in the House of Commons or in any comment that’s been made — that somehow this is about the conduct of our troops — it’s just completely false.

You can count on Canadians

A new poll has found that a clear majority of Canadians want action on climate change, and that a large majority believes global warming is "mankind's defining crisis" that demands an immediate response. The online poll involved 1,009 Canadians and was conducted by Harris-Decima on behalf of the Munk Debates. It asked respondents if they agreed or disagreed with a resolution to be debated Tuesday during the fourth Munk Debate in Toronto: "Climate change is mankind's defining crisis, and demands a commensurate response" Approximately two thirds of Canadians agreed with this present reality, while thirty-one percent disagreed (and are apparently out of touch with reality). A miniscule fraction had no opinion, apparently too busy with their cellphones, reality television, People magazine, or wherever else their lackadaisical perspective takes them. Rudyard Griffiths, one of the organizers of the Munk Debates said:

I think it shows the extent to which not just the environment, but the actual issue of climate change, has ascended up the public agenda to point where it is reminiscent of those other big causes that have shaped a lot of Canadian history.

Women were a little bit more predisposed to agree with the statement, as opposed to men, with sixty-seven percent of women and sixty-three percent of men recognizing the reality of the climate crisis. Meanwhile, throughout the country, more Quebecers and Atlantic Canadians recognized the reality of the climate crisis, while those in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan were less likely to agree (more rednecks who don't need science or fancy book learnin').

Harris-Decima also asked Canadians for their views on a variety of arguments for and against climate change. Respondents were given five assertions usually proclaimed by those who support combating climate change, and five statements made by morons who are against addressing the crisis. Harris-Decima recorded a robust conviction on both sides (huh?) of the debate that there is a ethical obligation to address the crisis asap in order to save the planet's future generations. So, the deniers of reality conceed that we're in big trouble, but don't want to do anything about it?
Both sides also agreed that changing climates poses a threatens extinction to global species and ecologies, and scientists have reached a consensus that the crisis needs to be addressed.

The poll also found that nearly two thirds of Canadians think we will be able to adapt to climate change.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's Whitby riding office was occupied by seven protesters (images here), who were calling for more action on the climate crisis. The protesters belong to People for Climate Justice, who insist on a legally binding agreement to be reached at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. People for Climate Justice are demanding that the Harper government pledge to lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to twenty-five percent of 1990 levels. They said that Flaherty must press the government for a "just, ambitious, and binding deal in Copenhagen with science-based targets."

Last week, a protest was also held at Environment Minister Jim Prentice's riding office in Calgary:

Nader in 2010!

Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader is "absorbing" the feedback he's getting about a potential run for the U.S. Senate, saying that before he makes a decision he wants to see what kind of grassroots support exists. Nader has been asked by many, including the Connecticut Green Party to get into the hotly contested race in to challenge Democratic Senator Chris Dodd. Dodd has been struggling in recent polls. Independents and Ned Lamont supporters, the Democrat who challenged Senator Joe Lieberman in the 2006 election, are also asking Ralph to run.

I'm just absorbing a lot of the feedback before I make a decision. It really depends on what kind of momentum there is and how many people are willing to roll up their sleeves because I'm very accustomed to people saying 'run Ralph run' and then they drift away, predisposed and preoccupied with their daily life. It has to be bottom up.

Over a hundred people turned up at the Noah Webster Library in West Hartford last Friday to hear Nader talk about his book, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, including Green Party members who held signs that read, "Run Ralph Run!" The state's Green Party has been doing more to persuade Nader to run, arguing that this situation marks one of the best opportunities for the Greens to win a seat in the Senate.

When Vic Lancia of Portland had Nader sign a copy of his book, he told him that he wants to help out with a Senate campaign:

I'm retired, Ralph. I've got good legs to go to work for you. Give me something to do next year Ralph.

Tim McKee, a spokesperson for the Connecticut Green Party, said the party is dedicated to proving there will be support, with not only volunteers but also financial providers as well. McKee said he's happy to see individuals not associated with the Green Party starting internet and social networking sites, encouraging Nader to run.

We're getting responses all across the nation. It's on all the blogs and stuff. They want him to run to win. That's the most important thing. This is not symbolic or anything like that. It's a run to win kind of effort.

Given his impressive record and accomplishments, his personal integrity and unwavering progressive message and platfrom, Nader is seen as the best person who can reform government and hold the banking industry accountable. Dodd has been criticized of late for his ties to the banking industry, while serving as the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. A recent Quinnipiac University Poll found 54 percent of voters disapprove of his job performance. Nader wants to verify if the Conneticut electorate are truly frustrated with Dodd and if there are enough people and volunteers to work in the state's 169 towns "for a new breed of political representation in Washington."

Nader complimented Dodd by saying that he is "very personable" and that Dodd shouldn't be brushed off. He also cautioned against conjecture that Connecticut's senior senator could be advised by fellow senior Democrats not to seek re-election. But Nader did add that Dodd "has been very concessionary to the banks and the brokerage houses for years." Dodd's office and Connecticut Democrats have refused to say anyting about a potential Nader run.

Draft Nader For (Connecticut) US Senate 2010 - Facebook

Online petition: Nader for U.S. Senate 2010

Connecticut Greens Would Welcome Nader Run For Senate

Nader interviewed by Cindy Sheehan yesterday. The interview starts at approximately 1:45: