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Archive for June 5th, 2009

Brown in the Dumps

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2009 4:43 am by HL

Brown in the Dumps

Gordon Brown

U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has lost three members of his Cabinet in three days, adding to a heap of political casualties that originally grew out of an expense claims scandal. The latest dropout, James Purnell, has called on his former boss to “stand aside to give our party a fighting chance. …?”

BBC:

[Purnell] wrote: “I now believe your continued leadership makes a Conservative victory more, not less likely. That would be disastrous for our country.”

He added: “I am therefore calling on you to stand aside to give our party a fighting chance of winning. As such I am resigning from government.”

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Henryk A. Kowalczyk: What Can One Learn in Springfield?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2009 4:42 am by HL

Henryk A. Kowalczyk: What Can One Learn in Springfield?
Behind the objection is an unspoken assumption that holding a top public office requires some knowledge and skills that are beyond the reach of an average citizen.

Jamie Court: Meet Joe The Mechanic 2012 – The Video
This powerful video, from the new Kaiser Health Network, of a Massachusetts mechanic who says he cannot afford the state’s mandatory health insurance is…

Aaron Zelinsky: Cooperation and Conflict: Obama’s Cairo Speech
In Cairo, President Obama employed a variety of historical, liturgical, and political references to express America’s hope for a new beginning with the Islamic world….

Francesca Biller-Safran: Obama makes Multi-Racial Americans more Accepted
As a Japanese-Jew, I have historically used self deprecating humor at my own expense as a way to explain and defend to others who I…

Valerie Tarico: My Abortion Baby
Many children exist in this world only because of abortion. We rarely talk of them. Who do you know who wouldn’t be here if a doctor hadn’t made a commitment like the one that cost George Tiller his life?


FBN fails to disclose climate-change skeptic’s position in industry-funded organization

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2009 4:41 am by HL

FBN fails to disclose climate-change skeptic’s position in industry-funded organization

On June 2, Fox Business Network’s Stuart Varney interviewed former Sen. Harrison Schmitt (R-NM) to discuss whether “[g]lobal warming is real.” During the segment, Schmitt said that “[t]he CO2 scare is a red herring” and claimed that “the CO2 that is being emitted right now not only has no known negative effects, it has many positive effects, particularly for plant life.” At no point during the segment did Varney — who introduced Schmitt as “a former NASA astronaut, one-term senator, respected geologist” — disclose that Schmitt is chairman emeritus of The Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy, an organization funded by ExxonMobil, according to Exxon’s own corporate giving reports and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

According to Exxon’s reports, ExxonMobil gave The Annapolis Center $105,000 each year in 2006, 2007, and 2008. According to its IRS Form 990s (retrieved from the GuideStar database), The Annapolis Center had total revenues of $524,655 in fiscal 2006 and $381,294 in fiscal 2007.

Moreover, a January 2007 UCS report on how ExxonMobil “has funneled about $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of ideological and advocacy organizations that manufacture uncertainty on the issue” of global warming stated that “The Annapolis Center’s climate work includ[ed] production of materials exaggerating the uncertainty about the human contribution to climate change.” The report, citing ExxonMobil’s corporate giving reports, found that it had given The Annapolis Center $763,500 between 1998 and 2005.

During the segment, Schmitt claimed that “the CO2 that is being emitted right now not only has no known negative effects, it has many positive effects, particularly for plant life.” But experts do not argue that carbon dioxide as a natural gas is inherently harmful. Rather, they point to the danger posed to the atmosphere by excessive discharges of CO2. As the Natural Resources Defense Council noted:

[A] pollutant is a substance that causes harm when present in excessive amounts. CO2 has been in the atmosphere since life on earth began, and in the right amounts CO2 is important for making the earth hospitable for continued life. But when too much CO2 is put into the atmosphere, it becomes harmful. We have long recognized this fact for other pollutants. For example, phosphorus is a valuable fertilizer, but in excess, it can kill lakes and streams by clogging them with a blanket of algae.

Schmitt also stated during the segment that levels of CO2 have been “much higher in the past.” But scientists blame the current CO2 levels in the atmosphere on human activities, not natural variation. According the 2007 “Synthesis Report” by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “The atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4 in 2005 exceed by far the natural range over the last 650,000 years. Global increases in CO2 concentrations are due primarily to fossil fuel use, with land-use change providing another significant but smaller contribution.” Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency, states that “Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1700’s, human activities, such as the burning of oil, coal and gas, and deforestation, have increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. In 2005, global atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were 35% higher than they were before the Industrial Revolution.”

The 2007 IPCC report also stated: “Global GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions due to human activities have grown since pre-industrial times, with an increase of 70% between 1970 and 2004.” It further explained, “Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most important anthropogenic GHG. Its annual emissions have grown between 1970 and 2004 by about 80%, from 21 to 38 gigatonnes (Gt), and represented 77% of total anthropogenic GHG emissions in 2004.”

From the June 2 edition of Fox Business Network’s Fox Business:

VARNEY: You ever noticed that we’re constantly told the science is in? Global warming is real. Human beings, they’re causing it. However, our next guest is skeptical. Now, he is a former NASA astronaut, one-term senator, respected geologist. This man has walked on the moon.

We’re very pleased to welcome on the program Harrison Schmitt. Sir, welcome to the program. It’s an honor to have you with us.

SCHMITT: Well, it’s great to be here, Stuart. Thank you.

VARNEY: Now you’ve heard the same as I’ve heard — I’ve done countless environmentalist interviews on this program, they always tell me the same thing: The science is in. Global warming is real. CO2s are up. We are warming up the planet, and it’s our fault. Do you hold a counter position?

SCHMITT: Well, the CO2 scare is a red herring, Stuart. CO2 has been increasing gradually for some time. Temperature has been increasing by about a half a degree per century since the — 1660, the depth of the Little Ice Age. And there’s nothing in the data — and I speak for observationalists everywhere, not modelers, but observationalists — there’s nothing in the data that indicates that the current rise in CO2 has anything to do with that very slow temperature rise that has been going on for centuries.

VARNEY: But the —

SCHMITT: Indeed, most of that CO2 is probably coming out of the oceans.

VARNEY: But that is an accurate statement, isn’t it? That CO2 levels have risen to record levels, certainly within the last few millennia. That’s where the science truly is —

SCHMITT: No, no, no, no, no. That —

VARNEY: OK.

SCHMITT: That is not an accurate statement. CO2 is at about 385 parts per million right now, but it has been much higher in the past. No question about that.

VARNEY: OK. Now are we going to get cap and trade based on this concept of global warming, CO2 emissions, and the science is in? We gonna get cap and trade based on that?

SCHMITT: Well, I have no idea what the politicians will eventually do. When they start to realize that the American people are not behind them in this more properly termed cap-and-tax initiative that is currently before the Congress and is being pushed by the administration, I think they will start to back off from it because their next election will depend on it. We unfortunately have career politicians and they — on the good side of that is that they will recognize when they can’t get elected.

VARNEY: Do you think there is any need to restrict CO2 emissions?

SCHMITT: I don’t think so. I think you ought to be prudent and increase efficiency, which in turn will reduce CO2. But the CO2 that is being emitted right now not only has no known negative effects, it has many positive effects, particularly for plant life.

VARNEY: Now they keep coming at me and saying, “Well, what about the polar ice caps? The ice is melting. The polar bears are in danger.”

SCHMITT: Well —

VARNEY: But, I mean — I don’t mean to joke about it, but the ice is melting. They say that is reality; that’s because of global warming.

SCHMITT: Well, actually, the reality is now that since 2006, the Greenland glaciers have been advancing, and as of this last winter, the polarized cap was back at 80 — at 1989 levels. So, it’s a cycle.

These — the — it’s decadal cycles on this very gradual warming trend that has been going on for centuries. It is important to recognize that we’re dealing with natural forces here, and anything that we try to do to deal with that through a cap-and-tax program or anything else is just going to result in a loss of liberty for the American people and a loss of available discretionary resources.

VARNEY: Harrison Schmitt, walked on the moon, former senator, geologist, we thank you very much for imparting your wisdom with us today. We appreciate that, sir. Thank you.

SCHMITT: Well, thank you for the invitation.

Zachary Pleat is an intern at Media Matters for America.


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2009 4:40 am by HL

Presented By:

Is Ethics Panel Probing Lawmakers’ PMA Ties? Hoyer Wants To Know
The PMA story is starting to become a major headache for congressional Democrats. RollCall reports that Rep. Steny Hoyer, the House number 2, plans this afternoon to offer a measure designed to force the House Ethics committee to reveal whether…

Before Tiller Murder, FBI Got Detailed Info On Roeder’s Illegal Activity
Earlier this week, we raised questions about whether the FBI acted aggressively enough after getting a tip about Scott Roeder, who’s been charged with murdering Kansas doctor George Tiller. And those questions are only getting louder. Last night, the abortion…


GOP Land of the Lost

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2009 4:37 am by HL

GOP Land of the Lost


CCR Statement in Response to EU JHA Agreement on Accepting Men Transferred From Guantánamo

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2009 4:36 am by HL

CCR Statement in Response to EU JHA Agreement on Accepting Men Transferred From Guantánamo
June 4, 2009, New York – The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement in response to the agreement reached by EU Ministries of the Interior and Schengen associated countries establishing a framework for accepting men transferred from Guantánamo:

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My Life As a ‘Craigslist Hooker’: Why We Need Smart Policy About Sex Work

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2009 4:35 am by HL

My Life As a ‘Craigslist Hooker’: Why We Need Smart Policy About Sex Work
It seems strange to eulogize an online red light district, but Craigslist Erotic Services transformed the meaning of being a sex worker.

Obama’s Cairo Speech: A Home Run?
President Obama hit almost all the right notes today in his possibly game-changing speech aimed at repairing America’s rift with the Muslim world.

Was Ronald Reagan an Even Worse President Than George W. Bush?
The starting point for many of the catastrophes confronting the United States today can be traced to Reagan’s presidency.


Going Meta On The Problem

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Going Meta On The Problem
Immediately after President Obama’s speech, Israeli television interviewed a strapping West Bank settler: “It was very professional,” he said, “very well crafted. It focused brilliantly on the rights of man. But he also quoted the Talmud; and if he…

10 Comments on Obama in Cairo – Still Accumulating, Not Expending Capital
The Obama team’s remarkable wordsmithery and the president’s unparalleled capacity for delivery were exquisitely on display again today in Cairo. But this speech should perhaps be remembered as much for what was not said. Gone was the arrogance and…





Diagnosing the Problem of Exploitative Work
Of the many important lessons in his work, Marshall Ganz reminds us that the essence of strategic capacity is information, social knowledge and getting the target right. So here’s my question for Thomas Frank: Forty-three million low wage workers…


Some Congressional Democrats Are Undermining Obama?s Israel-Palestine Policy

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2009 4:32 am by HL

Some Congressional Democrats Are Undermining Obama?s Israel-Palestine Policy
Last month, President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pressed for focus on a resolution to the Israel-Palestine dispute. Obama specifically called on Israel to freeze all settlements in the West Bank. “Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s a difficult issue. […]

bibiobamaweb2 Last month, President Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pressed for focus on a resolution to the Israel-Palestine dispute. Obama specifically called on Israel to freeze all settlements in the West Bank. “Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s a difficult issue. I recognize that. But it’s an important one, and it has to be addressed.”

Previous Israeli governments have come to expect the White House to allow loopholes in any demand on settlement freezes, such as the Bush administration’s back-door agreement with the Israelis back in late 2002 allowing expansion within existing West Bank settlements, what the Israelis call “natural growth.” Israelis have used “natural growth” arguments to justify funding further settlement expansion. In fact, recent data show that “in 2007, natural growth accounted for 63 percent of settlement population growth, whereas internal migration accounted for 37 percent.”

This time, however, the Obama administration is holding firm and doing so publicly. More importantly, it appeared that Netanyahu ran into problems when dealing with Congress on the settlement issue soon after meeting Obama:

Whereas in the past Israeli leaders have sometimes eased pressure from Washington on the settlements issue by going to members of Congress, this time, observers in Washington and Israel say, key pro-Israel allies in Congress have been largely reinforcing the Obama team’s message to Netanyahu. What changed? “Members of Congress have more willing to follow the leadership of the administration … because [they] believe it is in our national security interest to move toward ending the conflict and that it is not a zero sum for Israel,” the former senior Clinton administration official said.

However, Politico reports this week that support for Obama’s message on Israel-Palestine among Democrats in Congress is starting to wane. “My concern is that we are applying pressure to the wrong party in this dispute,” said Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV). Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) complained, “I would have liked to hear the president talk more about the Palestinian obligation to cut down on terrorism.” Today, the L.A. Times reports more dissent from congressional Democrats:

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House foreign affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, said focusing on settlement activity “detracts” from top U.S. goals in the region. However, he added: “I do not support a settlement freeze that calls on Israeli families not to grow, get married, or forces them to throw away their grandparents. Telling people not to have children is unthinkable and inhumane.

Ackerman’s claim is a canard. No one is calling on Israeli families “not to grow.” And as Matt Yglesias notes, “Ackerman’s position is just the position that peace is impossible, and that Israel must fight forever to squeeze the Palestinians out of the West Bank, while the Palestinians must fight forever for the destruction of Israel.”

Moreover, Weiner’s comment is not even factually accurate; Obama has made it very clear on numerous occasions that the Palestinians must meet their obligations under the “road map” to a two-state solution laid out in 2003. But Obama has also said the Israelis must meet their obligations as well. A provision in the road map specifically states that Israel “freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).”

In an interview with NPR this week, Obama acknowledged that private agreements with the Israelis on the settlements issue (such as the Bush administration’s in 2002) undermines American credibility in the peace process. “I think what is certainly true is that the United States has to follow through on what it says,” he said, adding that “it is important for us to be clear about what we believe will lead to peace and that there’s not equivocation and there’s not a sense that we expect only compromise on one side; it’s going to have to be two-sided.”

Indeed, today in his speech at Cairo University in Egypt, Obama said that both sides need to follow through with their commitments. “The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people…Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist,” he said. “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”


Grassley Accuses Library Officials of Interfering With Investigations

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on June 5th, 2009 4:31 am by HL

Grassley Accuses Library Officials of Interfering With Investigations
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) charged yesterday that top officials at the Library of Congress have interfered with investigations conducted by its independent watchdogs and have frequently admonished investigators for the tone and focus of their investigations.

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