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News Bites for a Chilly Sunday: January 20, 2013

2:05 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

– On Gun Appreciation Weekend, the NRA’s counter-celebration to President Obama’s second inaugural, someone in New Mexico went berserk and killed five people. And not with a crossbow, either.

– Also on Gun Appreciation Weekend, five people at gun shows in three different states (North Carolina, Ohio and Indiana) managed to get shot and injured during the events. I sense future Darwin Award nominees in the making — not so much the victims as those who shot them, as they’re not always one and the same.

This Bellingham, Washington guy says he always sleeps with a loaded .45 under his pillow, apparently so he can shoot intruders. Don’t know if he’s shot any intruders, but he did kill his girlfriend, apparently accidentally.

Howie Klein has a deal for us: ‘$100 for anyone who can get Bachmann, Broun, or Gohmert to explain on video why they believe in the “Sandy Hook Hoax.” Or $50 for Stockman’

– Neocon critics of Chuck Hagel claim he tried to shut down an Israeli USO operation. People who were actually involved in the USO operation say that in reality, Hagel helped save that Israeli USO operation.

– Yet another reason to go organic: Modern conventional agriculture kicks out 68% of all US nitrous oxide emissions — and nitrous oxide is 310 times more potent at trapping heat than is carbon dioxide.

– But if you do go organic, stick to farmer’s markets and the locally-owned co-ops and stay away from Whole Foods, whose CEO John Mackey is a mendacious schmuck.

– In other news, Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term as President of the United States, but not before he put some stain on a bookshelf. FLOTUS Michelle and the two First Daughters (the same two adorable little girls the NRA is not-so-subtly threatening) also did some volunteer work before attending a Kid’s Inaugural Ball. (Malia and Sasha are lovely, but I think Malia needs to get bangs like her mother’s (what our British readers would call “fringe”) to make her forehead a tad less prominent.) (UPDATE: Guess what? The NRA’s threat against Malia and Sasha Obama is based on a lie. Quelle surprise.)

That’s what I’ve got for today. How about you? Read the rest of this entry →

Recycling Old Lies: The Climate Change Deniers’ Last Stand

4:11 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

So let’s assume you’re part of a very-well-funded corporate stooge cabal with the job of making sure nothing stands in between your well-heeled bosses and their desire to squeeze every last bit of profit out of the earth without having to give a rip about the long-term effects this might have, particularly on the masses.

Your problem, lately, is that some of your most valuable operatives — the bought-and-paid-for academics who your bosses pay to trash the scientific evidence showing the grievous bodily harm the bosses have inflicted and are inflicting on the planet — have, for whatever reason (such as growing spines, brains, or consciences), decided they don’t want to be denialists anymore. Worse yet, they’re appearing before the United States Congress to say that the science does indeed confirm that humans are causing climate change. What do you do to distract from this?

Simple: You try to revive an old smear, and hope nobody remembers that the smear was discredited:

Two years ago, much was made about the unauthorized release of thousands of emails featuring private conversations between a group of climate scientists. Dubbed Climategate, these emails showed a few climate scientists being irritable and clubby, and – in the eyes of some – controlling and even deceptive. Some research suggests the Climategate episode lowered the public’s trust in climate science and their belief in man-made global warming

Yet multiple inquiries, while calling for more openness in data sharing, found no evidence of scientific misconduct on the part of the involved scientists. And new scientific assessments and studies have re-affirmed the Earth is warming and human activities play a key role.

In a seeming effort to take another swing at the integrity of climate science, a second crop of emails was anonymously released Tuesday, apparently from the same place as 2009: Britain’s University of East Anglia.

The “new” emails (not new in that they are from 2009 and earlier) – while trumpeted by some climate skeptics as “spectacular” and draining life from the manmade global warming movement – mean little substantively from a scientific standpoint, just like the set that preceded them.

If we were living in a world where money couldn’t be used to smother truth, then the effort to revive old and previously-debunked smears wouldn’t work. But luckily for the denialist hacks, they have the hacks of the establishment press in their corner:

Writing on the Washington Post’s website, Juliet Eilperin quotes an email exchange that she said was about “whether the IPCC has accurately depicted the temperature rise in the lower atmosphere”…

[...]

Astoundingly, Eilperin does not tell readers that these email exchanges took place in February 2005 and were about the first draft of a chapter of the IPCC report released two years later. The emails depict the authors of the chapter hashing out what should be included — exactly what you would expect this process to look like.

Pretty hacktacular, eh? It gets worse:

Raphael Satter of the Associated Press also has a premature report, which has been published on the websites of countless news outlets, asserting that the emails “appeared to show climate scientists talking in conspiratorial tones about ways to promote their agenda.” What agenda is that? The article doesn’t say. Satter admits that the context of the emails “couldn’t be determined” because the “Associated Press has not yet been able to secure a copy” of the documents.

Was Satter looking in the mirror when he typed that bit about promoting an agenda? Sure looks like it to me.

China Rigged Copenhagen to Fail So the US Would Get Blamed for It

9:30 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

This doesn’t surprise me one bit, really:

Copenhagen was a disaster. That much is agreed. But the truth about what actually happened is in danger of being lost amid the spin and inevitable mutual recriminations. The truth is this: China wrecked the talks, intentionally humiliated Barack Obama, and insisted on an awful “deal” so western leaders would walk away carrying the blame. How do I know this? Because I was in the room and saw it happen.

China’s strategy was simple: block the open negotiations for two weeks, and then ensure that the closed-door deal made it look as if the west had failed the world’s poor once again. And sure enough, the aid agencies, civil society movements and environmental groups all took the bait…

…. Even George Monbiot, writing in yesterday’s Guardian, made the mistake of singly blaming Obama. But I saw Obama fighting desperately to salvage a deal, and the Chinese delegate saying “no”, over and over again. Monbiot even approvingly quoted the Sudanese delegate Lumumba Di-Aping, who denounced the Copenhagen accord as “a suicide pact, an incineration pact, in order to maintain the economic dominance of a few countries”.

Sudan behaves at the talks as a puppet of China; one of a number of countries that relieves the Chinese delegation of having to fight its battles in open sessions. It was a perfect stitch-up. China gutted the deal behind the scenes, and then left its proxies to savage it in public.

And they did it pretty much because they could — and because even with their glaciers melting, the glaciers that supply their rivers, scoring points off the US is far, far more important than making sure the world as a whole survives.

The one thing, besides Lynas’ presence, that kept the Chinese from getting clean away with it: Obama’s breaking into one of the secret meetings the Chinese were holding; the cat started to get out of the bag at that point.

(Crossposted at Mercury Rising.)

UPDATE: I for one should have known something was up when a bunch of nations that turned out to be China’s proxies started hollering over draft documents that were months old and no longer part of the discussion.

While The Legacy Media Republicans Babbled about Bowing, Obama Rescued Copenhagen from the Dumpster

10:31 am in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

While the GOP/Media clowns were babbling about bowing, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao were hammering out a climate-change deal in advance of the great Copenhagen climate summit.

Because of this deal, President Obama is now able to go to Copenhagen with the following good news:

The news that President Obama will seek a emissions target at global talks in Copenhagen has animated a once-moribund meeting and given hope to environmentalists that something tangible can come from them.

The emissions target is expected to correspond to numbers that have been discussed on Capitol Hill, namely a reduction of 17 to 20% below 2005 emissions levels by the year 2020.

This is a direct result of the meeting with China’s Hu Jintao and was expected by those news outlets that were actually paying attention instead of freaking out over bows. As I mentioned last week, both the US and China have now agreed to stop playing climate-change chicken.

And it’s not just China that’s agreed to join the US in working to curb emissions. Obama has met with the leaders of India as well, and got commitments from them on this.

This may be the most significant news of the last decade.

[UPDATE: And no, it's not too late. The economic downturn has bought us an extra 21 months in which to retool our economies to lower emissions. That's 21 extra months for China to retool the older, grossly inefficient and polluting steel factories it has idled because of the downturn. That's 21 extra months for India to do similar upgrades to its factories. That's 21 extra months for the US to do the same thing with its factories. Considering that these three nations account for 56% of the world's CO2 emissions, that's not a small thing.]

(Crossposted at Mercury Rising.)

Good News from Beijing, But It Won’t Be on Your TV

1:00 pm in Uncategorized by Phoenix Woman

Did you hear about the climate-change agreement President Obama just made with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao? The one that the noted magazine Scientific American just touted as "More Important than Copenhagen"?

Unless you read SciAm on a regular basis, you probably didn’t. And that’s not your fault. The places where most Americans get most of their news — drive-time radio and the evening TV news — haven’t mentioned it.

Nor are they likely to mention another salient fact: That the Kyoto agreement, the one to which most other major industrialized nations subscribe (we didn’t because Bush wouldn’t, and China didn’t because we didn’t), is working quite well and cutting emissions right on schedule — and without hurting the economies of the signatories:

And note what hasn’t happened: the economies of the Kyoto signatory countries haven’t been hobbled by soaring energy prices. The trading mechanism hasn’t been fatally compromised by market manipulators. Industry hasn’t fled en masse to countries like China that lack binding emissions limits.

We can do better than Kyoto, and ultimately any effort to combat climate change will only be successful if it encompasses all the major emitting countries, including China, India, and Brazil. But the message from Europe’s experience couldn’t be simpler: cap-and-trade works.

Well, now that the US and China are finally ending their game of climate-change chicken, it looks like we will soon be able to do better than Kyoto. And a friendly and ongoing relationship with the nation that, along with us, is responsible for the lion’s share of the world’s current emissions is key to making this happen.

Pity to see all of this flushed down the GOP/Media Complex’s memory hole so they can yammer about the best way to greet foreign heads of state.

[UPDATE: Watch as Jane Hamsher goes toe-to-toe with John McCormack of Rupert Murdoch's Weekly Standard about the effectiveness of Obama's Asian trip.]