Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for January 18th, 2007

Interesting theory of global warming cause

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Take a look:

According to Vladimir Shaidurov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the apparent rise in average global temperature recorded by scientists over the last hundred years or so could be due to atmospheric changes that are not connected to human emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of natural gas and oil. Shaidurov explained how changes in the amount of ice crystals at high altitude could damage the layer of thin, high altitude clouds found in the mesosphere that reduce the amount of warming solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface.

Shaidurov has used a detailed analysis of the mean temperature change by year for the last 140 years and explains that there was a slight decrease in temperature until the early twentieth century. This flies in the face of current global warming theories that blame a rise in temperature on rising carbon dioxide emissions since the start of the industrial revolution. Shaidurov, however, suggests that the rise, which began between 1906 and 1909, could have had a very different cause, which he believes was the massive Tunguska Event, which rocked a remote part of Siberia, northwest of Lake Baikal on the 30th June 1908.

The Tunguska Event, sometimes known as the Tungus Meteorite is thought to have resulted from an asteroid or comet entering the earth’s atmosphere and exploding. The event released as much energy as fifteen one-megaton atomic bombs. As well as blasting an enormous amount of dust into the atmosphere, felling 60 million trees over an area of more than 2000 square kilometres. Shaidurov suggests that this explosion would have caused “considerable stirring of the high layers of atmosphere and change its structure.” Such meteoric disruption was the trigger for the subsequent rise in global temperatures.

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2007 at 9:03 pm

Posted in Environment, Science

Alberto Gonzales in action

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It’s painful to watch:

A reader transcribed this exchange concerning habeas corpus from today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings (no official transcript yet):

Specter: Now wait a minute, wait a minute. The Constitution says you can’t take it away except in the case of invasion or rebellion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus?

Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn’t say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn’t say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.

Article I, Section 9:

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Alberto Gonzales should not only be impeached for his willfully obtuse interpretations of the Constitution, he should be disbarred.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2007 at 8:55 pm

Krugman on the purge of prosecutors

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Interesting:

There’s something happening here, and what it is seems completely clear: the Bush administration is trying to protect itself by purging independent-minded prosecutors.

Last month, Bud Cummins, the U.S. attorney (federal prosecutor) for the Eastern District of Arkansas, received a call on his cellphone while hiking in the woods with his son. He was informed that he had just been replaced by J. Timothy Griffin, a Republican political operative who has spent the last few years working as an opposition researcher for Karl Rove.

Mr. Cummins’s case isn’t unique. Since the middle of last month, the Bush administration has pushed out at least four U.S. attorneys, and possibly as many as seven, without explanation. The list includes Carol Lam, the U.S. attorney for San Diego, who successfully prosecuted Duke Cunningham, a Republican congressman, on major corruption charges. The top F.B.I. official in San Diego told The San Diego Union-Tribune that Ms. Lam’s dismissal would undermine multiple continuing investigations.

In Senate testimony yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to say how many other attorneys have been asked to resign, calling it a “personnel matter.”

In case you’re wondering, such a wholesale firing of prosecutors midway through an administration isn’t normal. U.S. attorneys, The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, “typically are appointed at the beginning of a new president’s term, and serve throughout that term.” Why, then, are prosecutors that the Bush administration itself appointed suddenly being pushed out?

The likely answer is that for the first time the administration is really worried about where corruption investigations might lead.

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2007 at 8:50 pm

Ah, the sickly sweet smell of corruption from the GOP

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It shows no signs of dying down. Now this:

The chief of the U.S. General Services Administration attempted to give a no-bid contract to a company founded and operated by a longtime friend, sidestepping federal laws and regulations, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan, a former government contractor appointed by President Bush, personally signed the deal to pay a division of her friend’s public relations firm $20,000 for a 24-page report promoting the GSA’s use of minority- and woman-owned businesses, the documents show.

The contract was terminated last summer after GSA lawyers and other agency officials pointed out possible procurement violations, including the failure to adequately justify the no-bid deal or have it reviewed in advance by trained procurement officers, officials said.

The GSA’s Office of Inspector General has launched an investigation into the episode and briefed Justice Department lawyers, according to sources who said they were not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation. Officials at the inspector general’s office and the Justice Department declined to comment.

In an interview Wednesday, Doan said she believed she was following proper procedures to hire the best firm available to quickly produce a report on diversity practices.

“I made a mistake,” Doan said. “I thought I was moving this along. I was immediately informed that I wasn’t necessarily moving it along in the way that was best for it. So at which point they canceled it, life went on, no money exchanged hands, no contract exchanged hands.

“I’m stunned, absolutely stunned by the amount of legs that this has taken, you know, how this has like kind of jumped up and run away with things.”

The friend, public relations executive Edie Fraser, declined to comment.

“I can’t,” Fraser said. “I just admire her immensely.”

Since assuming the helm of the GSA in May, Doan has repeatedly clashed with others within the agency over her intervention in matters that previous administrators delegated to subordinates, in part to avoid the appearance of political influence. The GSA is the largest broker of goods and services for the federal government, managing nearly $56 billion worth of contracts a year.

Last month, a dispute between Doan and her own inspector general’s office became public when The Post reported that she had proposed curtailing the office’s contract audits and had compared its enforcement efforts to “terrorism.” Doan said she was interested in cutting wasteful spending by the agency and denied making the comparison.

Doan, 49, is a rising political star in the Republican Party [I bet she is—she has a real flair for corruption. – LG] who hit turbulence soon after she took over the GSA. She grew up in the downtrodden Ninth Ward section of New Orleans and was one of the first African American children to attend the city’s private schools. She later went to Vassar College and obtained an advanced degree in Renaissance literature from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2007 at 6:48 pm

Wow! Auction on Wilkinson “Sticky” just ended

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It ended about 10 seconds ago. US$366.50. Of course, it was in mint condition with complete package: box, case, instructions, little “award” tag, original razor blade packet, etc. Still, quite a bit.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2007 at 6:33 pm

Posted in Shaving

Congressional climate change on climate change

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Without Inhofe, things are looking up, but it’s still tricky. Kevin Drum notes:

THE END OF THE INHOFE ERA….I was going to link to this post from Grist’s David Roberts (recommended by Bob Somerby), but when I got back from lunch I had an email from David asking me to link to two other posts of his. The first one is about the state of play of climate legislation in the Senate (now that climate wingnut extraordinaire James Inhofe is no longer in charge of the Environment and Public Works Committee) and the second one is about the state of play of climate legislation in the House. If you’re interested in climate legislation — and you should be — read them both. They’re short and informative.

Actually, read all three posts. I may come back to the first one later.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2007 at 3:09 pm

Jane Smiley on the Madman President

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From Alternet:

Back in the year 2000, when George W. Bush lost the popular vote and was shoe-horned into office by the Supreme Court in spite of clear conflicts of interest on the part of Scalia and Thomas, the psychology of Little George was known to only a few.

To most of us he seemed like a doofus — a more or less well-meaning guy who enjoyed running things like baseball teams and the State of Texas if not too much work was involved. Had been an alcoholic and a drug user, but had apparently come clean in some hazy, quasi-religious way — that was his personal history to many Americans (if not to all those who met with Karl Rove behind closed doors and heard the truth).

At any rate, I remember thinking that Bill Clinton had done such a good job over the years getting the budget into a surplus and winning good feelings around the world that it really didn’t matter who of the four who were running (Gore, Bradley, McCain, Bush) might win. They all seemed about the same in lots of ways.

What we really needed was some respite from Clinton’s own penchant for mischief. I liked Clinton. I remember that The New Yorker magazine asked me for my take on the Lewinsky scandal, and I said that on balance, in spite of the brouhaha, I still preferred a president who would make love, not war. Clinton was a flawed human being, that was evident, but he knew it. He never didn’t know it. And he was always trying to make amends.

But he was exhausting — or the media made him exhausting. I thought we were due for a rest.

Little did we know, of course, that the neocons thought we were due for a war. Thinktank gun-jockeys looking for a fight. Do they personally have some human qualities? Who cares. May they rot.

At any rate, what I think happened is that when the Bush/Scowcroft/Baker faction decided to use Little George as their presidential poster boy to expand their Middle-East-based wealth and power, they didn’t reckon with Cheney and Rumsfeld. They thought their boy would be personable and easy to control.

The key moment was when Cheney went looking for a vice-presidential candidate and found himself. Once they had given him the opening and he had publicly used it to aggrandize himself and his agenda, B/S/B realized that for the sake of party solidarity, they had to live with it. When Baker engineered the coup that was Florida (and I do think one of the “perks” Bush offered as a candidate was that Florida was guaranteed ahead of time by Jeb and K. Harris), I think that B/S/B and C/R found themselves in an uneasy alliance — goals were the same, but temperaments were different. Right there at the pivot was Little George.

It’s pretty clear that Little George requires a constant stream of flattery and cajolery to keep him going, and this was to be supplied by Harriet Miers, Karen Hughes, and Condi Rice. At the same time, his words (and ideas) were going to be supplied by Michael Gerson, who was his favorite speech writer for five or six years, a man who hides his unscrupulous neocon soul beneath a holier-than-thou, falsely modest self presentation. Christian soldier in every sense of the word, and someone who has largely escaped the contempt he deserves for the mess we are in.

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Written by LeisureGuy

18 January 2007 at 2:58 pm

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