Army: Sun, Not Man, Is Causing Climate Change

The Army is weighing in on the global warming debate, claiming that climate change is not man-made. Instead, Dr. Bruce West, with the Army Research Office, argues that “changes in the earth’s average surface temperature are directly linked to … the short-term statistical fluctuations in the Sun’s irradiance and the longer-term solar cycles.”

In an advisory to bloggers entitled “Global Warming: Fact of Fiction [sic],” an Army public affairs official promoted a conference call with West about the causes of global warming, and how it may not be caused by the common indicates [sic] some scientists and the media are indicating.”

In the March, 2008 issue of Physics Today, West, the chief scientist of the Army Research Office’s mathematical and information science directorate, wrote that “the Sun’s turbulent dynamics” are linked with the Earth’s complex ecosystem. These connections are what is heating up the planet. “The Sun could account for as much as 69 percent of the increase in Earth’s average temperature,” West noted.

It’s a position that puts West at odds with nearly every major scientific organization on the planet. “The American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science all have issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling,” Science magazine observes. So has the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, for their work on global warming.

West acknowledges that the IPCC and other scientific groups have “conclude[d] that the contribution of solar variability to global warming is negligible.” He argues that these groups have done a poor job modeling the Sun’s impact, however, and that’s why they have “significantly over-estimated” the “anthropogenic contribution to global warming.”

Read moreArmy: Sun, Not Man, Is Causing Climate Change

Billions pledged at food summit, but more needed UN chief says

Pledges of almost three billion dollars of emergency aid were made at a food price crisis summit on Wednesday but UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned up to 20 billion dollars a year would be needed to avoid disaster.

“We simply cannot afford to fail,” the UN secretary general said at the food security summit. “Hundreds of millions of people expect no less.”

The extra resources that might be as required will cost between 15 billion and 20 billion dollars (10-13 billion euros) a year, Ban told a news conference.

New funding totalling some 2.7 billion dollars was announced on the second day of the summit in Rome, where Ban has already demanded a 50 percent increase in food production by 2030.

The UN World Food Programme announced 1.2 billion dollars in new food aid to help “the tens of millions of people … hardest hit by the crisis.”

Read moreBillions pledged at food summit, but more needed UN chief says

Company led by former Bush official wins September 11 contract

Related article: Feds Censor Sept. 11 Health Disaster

WASHINGTON (AP) – A company headed by former Bush administration Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has won an $11 million contract to treat some of the workers exposed to toxic debris from the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contract was awarded to Logistics Health, where Thompson is president. It’s aimed at tracking the health of 4,000 to 6,000 workers who live outside the New York City area.

New York Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney says it’s ironic that Thompson’s company won the contract — given what she calls “the history of delay from the Bush administration when he was secretary and now.”

When he was Bush’s health chief, Thompson was accused of not doing enough to help those exposed to toxic debris.

The company will provide annual exams to the World Trade Center responders and diagnose and treat their 9/11-related conditions.

Read moreCompany led by former Bush official wins September 11 contract

Up to 25,000 on Wall St. face the axe, report says

NEW YORK-New York City’s financial sector might only slice 15,000 to 25,000 jobs in the current downturn, which could prove shorter than the mayor has predicted, the city comptroller said.

In contrast, the financial sector that is such a vital part of the city’s economy slashed 40,200 jobs in the previous 2000 to 2003 retreat that straddled the Sept. 11, 2001 air attacks, Comptroller William Thompson said in a report.

Battered by profit-gouging subprime mortgage loans, New York Stock Exchange member firms that do business with the public lost $7.3 billion (U.S.) last year, and the current job-losing cycle that began in August 2007 should run through March 2009, Thompson added.

Read moreUp to 25,000 on Wall St. face the axe, report says

And the winner is … the Israel lobby

Related article: Israel Gives America Go-Ahead To Invade Iran

WASHINGTON – They’re all here – and they’re all ready to party. The three United States presidential candidates – John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Madam House speaker Nancy Pelosi. Most US senators and virtually half of the US Congress. Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife, Lynne. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. And a host of Jewish and non-Jewish political and academic heavy-hitters among the 7,000 participants.

Such star power wattage, a Washington version of the Oscars, is the stock in trade of AIPAC – the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the crucial player in what is generally known as the Israel lobby and which holds its annual Policy Conference this week in Washington at which most of the heavyweights will deliver lectures.

Few books in recent years have been as explosive or controversial as The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, written by Stephen Walt from Harvard University and John Mearsheimer from the University of Chicago, published in 2007. In it, professors Walt and Mearsheimer argued the case of the Israeli lobby not as “a cabal or conspiracy that ‘controls’ US foreign policy”, but as an extremely powerful interest group made up of Jews and non-Jews, a “loose coalition of individuals and organizations tirelessly working to move US foreign policy in Israel’s direction”.

Walt and Mearsheimer also made the key point that “anyone who criticizes Israeli actions or says that pro-Israel groups have significant influence over US Middle East policy stands a good chance of being labeled an anti-Semite”. Anyone for that matter who “says that there is an Israeli lobby” also runs the risk of being charged with anti-Semitism.

All the candidates in the House say yeah
Republican presidential candidate McCain is opening this year’s AIPAC jamboree; Clinton and Obama are closing it on Wednesday. Walt and Mearsheimer’s verdict on the dangerous liaisons between presidential candidates and AIPAC remains unimpeachable: “None of the candidates is likely to criticize Israel in any significant way or suggest that the US ought to pursue a more evenhanded policy in the region. And those who do will probably fall by the wayside.”

Take what Clinton said in February at an AIPAC meeting in New York: “Israel is a beacon of what’s right in a neighborhood overshadowed by the wrongs of radicalism, extremism, despotism and terrorism.” A year before, Clinton was in favor of sitting and talking to Iran’s leadership.

Read moreAnd the winner is … the Israel lobby

Italy is stealing cars

Italy has begun confiscating the cars of people driving under the effect of drugs or alcohol in the latest attempt to lower one of western Europe’s highest rates of road casualties.

Two drivers in their early 20s, a woman under the influence of alcohol and a man who had smoked a cannabis joint, have had their cars seized in northern Italy since the legislation came into effect at the end of last month.

The new legislation states that any driver who tests positive for any illegal drug or has blood alcohol levels exceeding set limits can have their car confiscated, as well as toughening fines and jail sentences.

The cars are to be auctioned off or used by the police, as is already the case for vehicles confiscated from mafia offenders and drug dealers.

Breathalyzer testing is not frequent in Italy, where 5,669 people died on the roads in 2006, the most recent data available. National statistics bureau ISTAT said the authorities must focus on curbing drunken driving to make the roads safer.

Wed Jun 4, 1:09 PM ET

Source: Reuters

Lehman hedges lose $500m to $700m

Lehman Brothers lost $500m-$700m on certain hedging positions in the second quarter, contributing to what is expected to be a larger-than-anticipated loss that may lead the bank to raise more capital by selling a stake to an outside investor.

People close to the matter said Lehman had opened talks with potential investors including asset managers and Asian banks.

Read moreLehman hedges lose $500m to $700m

Why are the police using surveillance on journalists?

Police should stop routine surveillance of reporters and photographers covering demonstrations in London, the National Union of Journalists has told Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear made the call in a letter to Smith after receiving complaints that journalists, particularly photographers, were facing what amounted to harassment by members of the Metropolitan Police Forward Intelligence Team (FIT).

Dear said the NUJ had serious concerns about the FIT’s activities in monitoring and recording the activities of bona fide journalists, especially photographers.

“A number of members have alleged that the police’s surveillance action amounts to virtual harassment and is a serious threat to their right to carry out their lawful employment,” he said.

Read moreWhy are the police using surveillance on journalists?

400,000 Troops needed For Afghanistan

No, that’s not a typo. The outgoing US commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan says it would require 400,000 troops to secure that country.

ISAF Commander McNeill has said himself that according to the current counterterrorism doctrine, it would take 400,000 troops to pacify Afghanistan in the long term. But the reality is that he has only 47,000 soldiers under his command, together with another 18,000 troops fighting at their sides as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, and possibly another 75,000 reasonably well-trained soldiers in the Afghan army by the end of the year. All told, there is still a shortfall of 260,000 men.

Gen Dan McNeill is one of the straight-shooters of the US military, he says what he means and says it when it needs said. Four hundred thousand troops. As opposed to the less than 200,000 sent to Iraq for the Surge.

Worse, it costs the U. S. three times to maintain a soldier in Afghanistan that it costs it to maintain a soldier in Iraq. Consequently, the U. S.’s maintaining a force of 400,000 in Afghanistan would cost us nearly ten times what we’re spending in Iraq right now.

But as Brandon Freidman points out today, the alternative – what is happening right now – is that the US is losing on the central front of the poorly named “War On Terror”.

Read more400,000 Troops needed For Afghanistan

Fishermen clash with police at EU


Riot police confront fishermen in Brussels

Police have clashed with hundreds of fishermen protesting against the high cost of fuel outside the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels.

Several windows in EU buildings were broken and at least one car was overturned during the demonstration.

Riot police responded by firing water cannon and launching baton charges.

The fishermen have said they will go out of business unless the EU allows national governments to give them more financial aid and subsidise their fuel.

French fishermen have been on strike for several weeks over the price of diesel, which has risen by 240% in the past five years.

In recent days they have been joined by members of fleets from the UK, Spain, Portugal and Italy, who have blockaded ports across Europe, and truck drivers.

Restructuring

With foghorns, flags and flares, hundreds of mainly French and Italian fishermen stopped traffic on the main road in the European district of the Belgian capital.

We came here… to tell Europe to stop getting in the way of the French government trying to help us
Philippe Margoud

After several hours of stand-off, the protest turned violent. A car was overturned, bins were set on fire and windows were smashed by flares.

Riot police lined up behind a barbed-wire barricade in front of the European Commission responded by attempting to disperse the crowd with water cannons and baton charges.

Earlier, a delegation of fishermen met senior EU officials briefly outside the Commission’s headquarters to explain their grievances and demand emergency aid from both the EU and their countries’ governments.

Read moreFishermen clash with police at EU