Archive for February, 2010

World may not be warming, say scientists

Posted in FAIL, Global Warming with tags , , on February 16, 2010 by spikestl

From The U.K. Sunday Times February 14, 2010

Jonathan Leake

The United Nations climate panel faces a new challenge with scientists casting doubt on its claim that global temperatures are rising inexorably because of human pollution.

In its last assessment the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the evidence that the world was warming was “unequivocal”.

It warned that greenhouse gases had already heated the world by 0.7C and that there could be 5C-6C more warming by 2100, with devastating impacts on humanity and wildlife. However, new research, including work by British scientists, is casting doubt on such claims. Some even suggest the world may not be warming much at all.

“The temperature records cannot be relied on as indicators of global change,” said John Christy, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

These stations, they believe, have been seriously compromised by factors such as urbanisation, changes in land use and, in many cases, being moved from site to site.

Christy has published research papers looking at these effects in three different regions: east Africa, and the American states of California and Alabama.

“The story is the same for each one,” he said. “The popular data sets show a lot of warming but the apparent temperature rise was actually caused by local factors affecting the weather stations, such as land development.”

The IPCC faces similar criticisms from Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph, Canada, who was invited by the panel to review its last report.

The experience turned him into a strong critic and he has since published a research paper questioning its methods.

“We concluded, with overwhelming statistical significance, that the IPCC’s climate data are contaminated with surface effects from industrialisation and data quality problems. These add up to a large warming bias,” he said.

Such warnings are supported by a study of US weather stations co-written by Anthony Watts, an American meteorologist and climate change sceptic.

His study, which has not been peer reviewed, is illustrated with photographs of weather stations in locations where their readings are distorted by heat-generating equipment.

Some are next to air- conditioning units or are on waste treatment plants. One of the most infamous shows a weather station next to a waste incinerator.

Watts has also found examples overseas, such as the weather station at Rome airport, which catches the hot exhaust fumes emitted by taxiing jets.

In Britain, a weather station at Manchester airport was built when the surrounding land was mainly fields but is now surrounded by heat-generating buildings.

Terry Mills, professor of applied statistics and econometrics at Loughborough University, looked at the same data as the IPCC. He found that the warming trend it reported over the past 30 years or so was just as likely to be due to random fluctuations as to the impacts of greenhouse gases. Mills’s findings are to be published in Climatic Change, an environmental journal.

“The earth has gone through warming spells like these at least twice before in the last 1,000 years,” he said.

Timeline shows Bush, McCain warning Dems of financial and housing crisis; meltdown

Posted in FAIL, politics with tags , , , on February 11, 2010 by spikestl

The Bush Admin and Senator McCain warned repeatedly about Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac and what thus became the 2008 financial crisis — starting in 2002 (and actually even earlier — in the Clinton and Carter White Houses. Democrats resisted and kept to their party line, extending loans to people who couldn’t afford them — just like you would expect of socialists.

The 2012 Pelosi GTxi SS/RT Sport Edition

Posted in FAIL, politics with tags , on February 11, 2010 by spikestl

Saudi Arabia Shifts Course on Child Marriage

Posted in FAIL with tags on February 10, 2010 by spikestl

Theunis Bates

(Feb. 9) – For the first time, the Saudi Arabian state has intervened in the marriage of a preteen girl to an older man, leading some campaigners to speculate that the kingdom could be about to ban the cruel and archaic practice of child marriage.

The government-run Human Rights Commission (HRC) has hired a lawyer to review the case of a 12-year-old girl who was paired off with her father’s 80-year-old cousin last year. The girl’s mother opposed the marriage and attempted to secure a divorce, but suddenly dropped the case earlier this month with no explanation.

According to the local Okaz newspaper, her daughter had told the court that she consented to the ceremony, which reportedly earned her father a $23,000 dowry. “I agree to the marriage. I have no objection,” she said. “This is in filial respect to my father and obedience to his wish.”

 
A man walks with a young girl in Saudi Arabia.AFP / Getty Images

However, HRC lawyer Sultan bin Zahim told Reuters that even though the “mother withdrew” her protest, the marriage is still a “public rights issue that concerns the Saudi community.”

Other members of the HRC have hinted that the review will end with the case being sent back to court in the next few days and a divorce being granted. “Our main concern is to safeguard the child’s rights,” Alanoud al-Hejailan, a lawyer for the commission told the Times of London. “It is in the hands of the court but the commission is firmly on the child’s side.”

This sort of intervention is unusual in Saudi Arabia’s highly patriarchal society, where men have the power to decide who and when their children marry. The utter powerlessness of Saudi mothers was exposed last year, when a court in the city of Onaiza repeatedly dismissed a divorce petition by the mother of an 8-year-old girl whose father had sold her into marriage with a man in his 50s. The judge ruled that the woman did not have the right to file such a case on behalf of her daughter. (Another judge later granted the annulment, after the families of the bride and groom reached an out-of-court settlement.)

Many of the country’s hard-line Wahhabi imams claim child marriage is justified by the Koran, since the Prophet Muhammad wed his third wife, Aisha, when she was only 9 years old. “It is incorrect to say that it’s not permitted to marry off girls who are 15 and younger,” Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the kingdom’s top cleric, said in January, according to the regional Al-Hayat newspaper. “A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she’s too young are wrong, and they are being unfair to her.”

However, although relatively few of these ceremonies are believed to take place each year, the international outrage they spark is embarrassing for the ruling al-Saud family. And in the past year, influential figures in the Kingdom have started to speak out against the practice.

“A child has the right to live her childhood and not be forced to get married,” Princess Adela bint Abdullah, the daughter of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, said earlier this month according to Al-Riyadh. “Even an adult would not accept that.”

And senior Saudi cleric Sheikh Abdullah al-Manie last month told Okaz that Aisha’s marriage to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century “cannot be equated with child marriages today because the conditions and circumstances are not the same.”

Human rights campaigners now hope that the international focus on this new case will force the government to speed the passage of draft legislation, currently being studied by a government committee, that would set the minimum age of marriage between 16 and 18.

“This case is an investment in order to push for a law,” Wajiha al-Huweider, a Saudi rights activist, told Reuters. “We need to affect public opinion and I believe that Saudi Arabia will issue a law preventing child marriages soon.”

Little Old Lady

Posted in Cool Beans, My E-mail on February 9, 2010 by spikestl

Defense Attorney:
Will you please state your age?

Little Old Lady:
I am 94 years old.

Defense Attorney:
Will you tell us, in your own words, what happened the night of April 1st?

Little Old Lady:
There I was, sitting there in my swing on my front porch on a warm spring evening,   when a young man comes creeping up on the porch and sat down beside me.

Defense Attorney:
Did you know him?

Little Old Lady:
No, but he sure was friendly.

Defense Attorney:
What happened after he sat down?

Little Old Lady:
He started to rub my thigh.

Defense Attorney:
Did you stop him?

Little Old Lady:
No, I didn’t stop him.

Defense Attorney:
Why not?

Little Old Lady:
It felt good. Nobody had done that since my Albert died some 30 years ago.

Defense Attorney:
What happened next?

Little Old Lady:
He began to rub my breasts.

Defense Attorney:
Did you stop him then?

Little Old Lady:
No, I did not stop him.

Defense Attorney:
Why not?

Little Old Lady:
His rubbing made me feel all alive and excited. I haven’t felt that good in years! 

Defense Attorney:
What happened next?

Little Old Lady:
Well, by then, I was feeling so ‘spicy’ that I just laid down and told him
‘Take me, young man. Take me now!’

Defense Attorney:
Did he take you?

Little Old Lady:
Hell, no! He just yelled, ‘ April Fool!’ And that’s when I shot him, the little bastard

Rash of retirements pushes Social Security to brink

Posted in FAIL, politics with tags , , on February 9, 2010 by spikestl
By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — Social Security’s annual surplus nearly evaporated in 2009 for the first time in 25 years as the recession led hundreds of thousands of workers to retire or claim disability.The impact of the recession is likely to hit the giant retirement system even harder this year and next. The Congressional Budget Office had projected it would operate in the red in 2010 and 2011, but a deeper economic slump could make those losses larger than anticipated.

“Things are a little bit worse than had been expected,” says Stephen Goss, chief actuary for the Social Security Administration. “Clearly, we’re going to be negative for a year or two.”

Since 1984, Social Security has raked in more in payroll taxes than it has paid in benefits, accumulating a $2.5 trillion trust fund. But because the government uses the trust fund to pay for other programs, tax increases, spending cuts or new borrowing will be required to make up the difference between taxes collected and benefits owed.

Experts say the trend points to a more basic problem for Social Security: looming retirements by Baby Boomers will create annual losses beginning in 2016 or 2017.

“The moment of truth has arrived,” says Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., top Republican on the House Budget Committee. “This is a wake-up call.”

JOBS AND THE ECONOMY: Rebound in 2010?

Social Security took in only $3 billion more in taxes last year than it paid out in benefits — a $60 billion decline from 2008, according to federal data. The slide in revenue occurred sooner than Social Security actuaries had expected, for three reasons:

• Payroll tax revenue that was growing at a 4.5% average annual clip along with wages flattened out in 2009 because of rising unemployment and pay raises that largely disappeared.

• The number of retired workers who began taking benefits increased by 20%; those taking disability jumped by 10%.

• Monthly benefits were raised 5.8% because of a spike in energy prices the year before.

Social Security was saved from bankruptcy in 1983 by a bipartisan deal that increased payroll taxes, taxed some benefits and gradually raised the retirement age to 67. That was supposed to keep the system solvent at least until 2058, but the projection has slipped to 2037.

The impact of the recession shows that “for all these projections, unexpected things happen,” says Maya MacGuineas of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.. “Money has to be found to repay those trust funds.”

President George W. Bush proposed voluntary private retirement accounts in 2005, but the effort stalled in Congress. President Obama has proposed giving Social Security and other thorny fiscal issues to a bipartisan commission.

From the Desk of Congressman Todd Akin

Posted in My E-mail with tags , on February 9, 2010 by spikestl

Congresssman Akin speaking at a podium.

Dear Missouri Friend:

What is your share of the national debt? Would you believe that Congress just raised it’s own credit limit again – and your share of the bill will be $46,319 by the time they are done spending?

On Thursday, I voted against increasing Congress’s debt limit (the amount that Congress can spend our country into debt) and I introduced legislation to make it more difficult for Congress to keep raising its debt limit. I blogged about how it is necessary to force Congress to take responsibility for out-of-control spending: “Congress needs every possible incentive to get its fiscal house in order. My resolution requires that a debt limit increase be voted on separately – not hidden in another bill. And, with a super-majority requirement, raising the debt will not be quite so simple.”

On Wednesday, I went down to the House floor to discuss the President’s new budget. In case you missed it, my staff has put together parts of that discussion on YouTube for you to watch. While we are still not finished reviewing the new budget, the big picture is clear. This budget will raise the deficit to a record level: $1.6 trillion and 10.6% of our nation’s gross domestic product. It will double the national debt in five years. By 2020, the interest on our debt will reach $840 billion. In addition, this budget raises taxes by $2 trillion. Even as our current entitlement spending is ballooning out of control, the White House has added brand new entitlements to this budget, including $1 trillion for government run healthcare.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the President’s budget, the debt limit increase or any other subject.

Sincerely,

W. Todd Akin

P.S. The 2010 Congressional Art Competition for high schoolers is coming up soon. If you know a talented student who lives in the 2nd District, invite them to complete a student entry form on my website and submit their work for this exciting event.

Congressman Todd Akin
http://www.house.gov/akin
202-225-2561 – Washington
314-590-0029 – St. Louis
117 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515