Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming
Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years, with places like Wisconsin the highest since record-keeping began. Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
Likely ratings low for Oscar
Preliminaries forecast significant drop
All those predictions of ratings gloom and doom for the 80th annual Academy Awards came true Monday when preliminary Nielsen estimates show this year's kudocast coming in 20% below last year's.
Demographic data and total-viewer estimates won't be issued by Nielsen until this afternoon, but Sunday's telecast on ABC settled for a 21.9 household rating/33 share in the 56 metered-markets monitored by Nielsen -- down sharply from last year's 27.7/42, which translated into more than 40 million viewers.
The 21.9 rating is also considerably below the 25.5 rating earned by the 2003 Academy Awards telecast, which set the low-water mark for viewership when it averaged just over 33 million viewers. It would seem to be a long shot for this year's show to come in above the 2003 figure, even with population increases.
After starting sluggishly with a 20.1 rating in the opening half-hour, the Oscars peaked with a 22.7 rating in the 10 o'clock half-hour on Sunday.
The top five highest-rated markets were New York (30.6 rating/44 share), Chicago (29.1/43), San Francisco (27.2/47), West Palm (26.1/39) and Los Angeles (25.6/41). A year ago, New York generated a 35.3 rating, and Los Angeles a 32.0.
A batch of movies with grim themes, combined with an awards season that lacked momentum thanks to the writers strike, were among the factors leading to this year's ratings tumble.
Aussie wins best doco Oscar
Australian Eva Orner has won an Oscar for the documentary Taxi To The Dark Side.
The 38-year-old from Melbourne produced the documentary along with Alex Gibney.
The harrowing film throws the spotlight on US interrogation techniques at military facilities and investigates the death in custody of a Afghan taxi driver - Dilawar - at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2002.
An investigation into the death later found Dilawar had been repeatedly kicked and punched and was chained to the ceiling of his cell for days.
Gibney, who also produced hit documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, said in his acceptance speech that his wife had wanted him to make a romantic comedy.
"But honestly after Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and extraordinary rendition that simply wasn't possible," the film-maker said, before dedicating the film to Dilawar and his own father.
"This is dedicated to two people who are no longer with us - Dilawar, the young Afghan taxi driver, and my father, a Navy interrogator who urged me to make this film because of his fury at what was being done to the rule of law.
"Let's hope we can turn this country around, move away from the dark side and go back to the light."
Earlier, Australia's other Oscar hopeful - Cate Blanchett - lost both the best supporting actress and best actress categories.
The 80th Academy Awards is being held in the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
In our letter to Senator Reid on February 5, 2008, we explained that: "the expiration of the authorities in the Protect America Act would plunge critical intelligence programs into a state of uncertainty which could cause us to delay the gathering of, or simply miss, critical foreign intelligence information." That is exactly what has happened since the Protect America Act expired six days ago without enactment of the bipartisan Senate bill. We have lost intelligence information this past week as a direct result of the uncertainty created by Congress' failure to act. Because of this uncertainty, some partners have reduced cooperation. In particular, they have delayed or refused compliance with our requests to initiate new surveillances of terrorist and other foreign intelligence targets under existing directives issued pursuant to the Protect America Act.
We have provided Congress with examples in which difficulties with collections under the Executive Order resulted in the Intelligence Community missing crucial information. For instance, one of the September 11th hijackers communicated with a known overseas terrorist facility while he was living in the United States. Because that collection was conducted under Executive Order 12333, the Intelligence Community could not identify the domestic end of the communication prior to September 11, 2001, when it could have stopped that attack. The failure to collect such communications was one of the central criticismas of the Congressional Joint Inquiry that looked into intelligence failures associated with the attacks of September 11. The bipartisan bill passed by the Senate would address such flaws in our capabilities that existed before the enactment of the Protect America Act and that are now resurfacing.
As we have explained in letters, briefings and hearings, FISA's requirements, unlike those of the Protect America Act and the bipartisan Senate bill, impair our ability to collect information on foreign intelligence agents located overseas. Most importantly, FISA was designed to govern foreign intelligence surveillance of persons in the United States and therefore requires a showing of "probable cause" before such surveillance can begin. This standard makes sense in the context of targeting persons in the United States for surveillance, where the Fourth Amendment itself often requires probable cause and where the civil liberties of Americans are most implicated. But it makes no sense to require a showing of probable cause for surveillance of overseas foreign targets who are not entitled to thee Fourth Amendment protections guaranteed by our Constitution. Put simply, imposing this requirement in the context of surveillance of foreign targets located overseas results in the loss of potentially vital intelligence by, for example, delaying intelligence collection and thereby losing some intelligence forever.
Another big thank you to the Dems...
Friday, February 22, 2008
In 2006, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both voted for the Secure Fence Act, widely understood to entail building 700 miles of fence along the Southern border. Now Hillary says
There may be places where a physical barrier is appropriate. I think when both of us voted for this we were voting for the possibility that where it was appropriate and made sense it would be considered, but as with so much, the Bush administration has gone off the deep end, and they are unfortunately coming up with a plan that I think is counterproductive. [E.A.]
Hmm. Isn't that a little like voting for the Iraq War and then saying you were just voting for the possibility that if it were appropriate it would be considered?
In this case, though, Obama is attempting the same two-step. He says he and Clinton "almost entirely agree" regarding the fence, adding
As Senator Clinton indicated, there may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having Border Patrol, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that's going to be the better approach. ... [E.A.]
Is voting for a fence and then denying you were actually voting for a fence the old politics of Washington or the new politics of hope? I get confused. ... 2:57 A.M.
Come on people! This is change?
Authorities have confirmed that the the driver of the van that struck the school bus that killed 4 students on Tuesday is an illegal alien.
Officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement are checking to see where she came from and how long she’s been in Minnesota. FOX 9 has also learned that the name she gave to police, Alainiss Morales, is an alias.
23-year-old Alainiss N. Morales was taken into custody on suspicion of criminal vehicular operation. She was arrested by the State Patrol Thursday afternoon and is being held in Lyon County Jail. County Attorney Rick Maes told the Marshall Independent charges could come later Thursday or Friday…The van was driven by Alianiss N. Morales, 23, of Minneota. The Fox 9 Investigator found Morales pleaded guilty in Chippewa County in 2006 to driving without a valid license.
State Patrol officials said Thursday they were not immediately able to confirm if Morales was unlicensed, nor could they confirm whether Morales ran a stop sign. Lt. Mark Peterson said that was still under investigation, but that the investigation was “moving forward very quickly.”
The school bus was carrying 28 students. Cottonwood Fire Chief Dale Louluagie confirmed that 3 fatalities of the crash died immediately upon impact and the fourth victim died around 8 p.m. Tuesday night.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
"Is there any possiblity that- I'm just throwing this out, and Bill O'Reilly will call me a 'pinhead' for this. But is there any possibility that the right wing of the party, the real conservative Limbaugh, Huckabee, that group, planted this article? Like they're behind it? Because they're too trying to cut his legs off."
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Tab in Scam At Tax Office In D.C. Nears $50 Million
By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2008; Page A01
Federal authorities think that nearly $50 million was stolen in an embezzlement scheme run out of the D.C. tax office, more than double the amount they had previously uncovered, four sources close to the investigation said.
The corruption at the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue went undetected much longer than initially thought, the sources said, extending back almost 20 years. In addition to tracking the missing money, authorities are looking into gifts suspected of being provided to co-workers and others by the woman accused of leading the scam, former tax office manager Harriette Walters.
The scheme is the largest corruption case in the city's history. Witnesses have told investigators that Walters, who is accused of issuing larger and larger bogus tax refund checks over the years, lavishly spread the wealth, the sources said.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
"What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud."
Oh my goodness!
Friday, February 15, 2008
Nicaraguan leader calls Obama's campaign 'revolutionary'
The Associated Press
Published: February 14, 2008
MANAGUA, Nicaragua: President Daniel Ortega, who led the 1979 revolution in Nicaragua, says Barack Obama's presidential bid is a "revolutionary" phenomenon in the United States.
"It's not to say that there is already a revolution under way in the U.S. ... but yes, they are laying the foundations for a revolutionary change," the Sandinista leader said Wednesday night as he accepted an honorary doctorate from an engineering university.
Ortega led a Soviet-backed government that battled U.S.-supported Contra rebels before he lost power in a 1990 election. He returned to office last year via the ballot box.
And from Captains Quarters;
No, that's not a Texas state flag with a picture of Obama on it. It's the flag of the Castro-led Cuba regime, with Che Guevara's face superimposed on the side. A Fox report from Houston captured this image as it showed Obama supporters celebrating his momentum after Super Tuesday.
Does Obama know his Houston supporters honor a terrorist in his campaign office? I'm sure he doesn't. However, it would behoove him to ensure that the flag gets taken down and that he renounces any affinity for Che and the Fidel Castro regime.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Franklin slams Beyonce Grammy intro
Tue Feb 12, 11:52 PM ET
LOS ANGELES - When Aretha Franklin is unhappy, she does not mince words. On Tuesday, the longtime Queen of Soul slammed Beyonce Knowles' intro to Tina Turner at Sunday's Grammy Awards, in which Knowles called Turner, not Franklin, "the queen."
"I am not sure of whose toes I may have stepped on or whose ego I may have bruised between the Grammy writers and Beyonce," Franklin said in a statement issued by her publicist. "However, I dismissed it as a cheap shot for controversy."
E-mails to Knowles' publicist Yvette Noel-Schure and calls and e-mails to Recording Academy spokeswomen Jaime Sarachit and Barb Deghan were not immediately returned.
In the first few seconds of Knowles' intro to Turner's performance, she name-dropped Franklin and a long list of famed female singers. Then the "Crazy in Love" chanteuse focused on Turner.
"There is one legend who has the essence of all of those things: the glamour, the soul, the passion, the strength, the talent," said Knowles, strutting in hot pants. "Ladies and gentlemen. Stand on your feet and give it up for the queen."
At a party later that night, Knowles called Turner her "ultimate icon."
Still, Franklin ended her brief criticism on a gracious note, thanking the Grammys and the voting academy and saying, "love to Beyonce anyway."
Known for such hits as "Respect" and "Chain of Fools," Franklin tied with the Clark Sisters for best gospel performance trophy for her duet "Never Gonna Break My Faith" with Mary J. Blige.
Friday, February 08, 2008
MSNBC's Chelsea Comment Angers Clinton
Feb 8 02:28 PM US/Eastern
By BETH FOUHY
Associated Press Writer
SEATTLE (AP) - A distasteful comment about Chelsea Clinton by an MSNBC anchor Thursday could imperil Hillary Rodham Clinton's participation in future presidential debates on the network, a Clinton spokesman said.
In a conference call with reporters, Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson Friday excoriated MSNBC's David Shuster for suggesting the Clinton campaign had "pimped out" 27-year old Chelsea by having her place phone calls to Democratic Party superdelegates on her mother's behalf. Wolfson called the comment "beneath contempt" and disgusting.
"I, at this point, can't envision a scenario where we would continue to engage in debates on that network," he added.
Clinton and Barack Obama are scheduled to participate in an MSNBC debate Feb. 26 from Ohio, which holds its primary March 4. The Clinton campaign has pushed hard for as many debates as possible with Obama, but Wolfson said the Feb. 26 debate could be jeopardized.
Wolfson pointed to what he called a pattern of tasteless comments by MSNBC anchors about the Clinton campaign. Weeks ago, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews apologized to the former first lady after suggesting her political career had been made possible her husband's philandering.
MSNBC has apologized on-air for Shuster's remark, but Wolfson said neither Chelsea nor Sen. Clinton had received a phone call offering a personal apology.
An MSNBC spokeswoman did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment.
Shuster sort of apologizes. And I love the comment at the end by the female anchor;
Ex-Disney chief says Writers Guild strike is over
BY VERNE GAY | firstname.lastname@example.org
February 8, 2008
The former chief of Disney, Michael Eisner, declared Thursday night that the writers' strike was "over" and that a deal had been reached last weekend.
During a CNBC interview, Eisner -- who now runs his own investment company and hosts an occasional talk show on the network -- told "Fast Company" anchor Dylan Rattigan: "They [studios and writers] made the deal, they shook hands on the deal. It's going on Saturday to the writers in general" for agreement.
Eisner was apparently referring to scheduled meetings here and in Los Angeles between writers and the Writers Guild scheduled for tomorrow. He added, "A deal has been made. They'll be back to work very soon. I know it's over."
Eisner's declaration is the first by an industry leader affirming widespread reports over the weekend that a deal had been struck Feb. 1. Both studios and the Guild, under a self-imposed media blackout while negotiations have been under way, declined to comment.
However, a WGA representative said, "The strike is NOT over -- as you know, we are under a press blackout, but I can tell you that the strike is NOT over."
Thursday, February 07, 2008
"I saw those towers fall and I've seen an implosion in Las Vegas -- there's too much similarities between the two, and I saw a building fall that didn't get hit by nothing," added Nelson, referring to WTC Building 7, which collapsed in the late afternoon of September 11.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
From the current hand-wringing, you'd think that the banks came up with the idea of looser underwriting standards on their own, with regulators just asleep on the job. In fact, it was the regulators who relaxed these standards - at the behest of community groups and "progressive" political forces.
Read the whole thing...basically it was all government mandated political correctness that forced these non-standards on the financial industry.
Hollywood on verge of deal to end writers strike
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Negotiators for Hollywood studios and striking writers have agreed to terms of a new contract that could be presented to union leaders in days and, if approved, end their three-month-old labor clash later this week, two sources told Reuters on Monday.
While the outlines of an accord were reached over the weekend, the two sides still need to hammer out contract language before a deal is submitted for approval to the governing boards the East and West Coast branches of the Writers Guild of America, they said.
Those sources, who were briefed on the status of talks but were not authorized to speak publicly about them under a media blackout, said negotiators hoped action by the WGA boards on a deal could come as early as Friday.
An endorsement by WGA leaders presumably would be accompanied by a decision to call off the strike, but if the WGA boards were divided, the walkout might continue pending a ratification vote by rank-and-file members.
One source said the big breakthrough in the latest round of talks, which began Jan. 23, came on the key sticking point of how much writers should be paid for advertising-supported Internet "streaming" of television shows.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Sen. Hillary Clinton teared up this morning at an event at the Yale Child Study Center, where she worked while in law school in the early 1970s.
A doctor, who was introducing Clinton, began to choke up, leading Clinton’s eyes to fill with tears, which she wiped out of her left eye. At the time, the doctor was saying how proud he was that sheepskin-coat, bell-bottom-wearing young woman he met in 1972 was now running for president.
“Well, I said I would not tear up; already we’re not exactly on the path,” Clinton said with emotion after the introduction.
Clinton is holding a roundtable discussion with Connecticut women to talk about childcare and healthcare.
Top of the Ticket
Questioner calls Bush 'the bastard,' Hillary Clinton smiles
Over the weekend there was an as yet little-noticed incident in Bridgeton, Mo., just outside St. Louis. Sen. Hillary Clinton addressed a town hall meeting there and was taking questions from the audience.
One elderly woman rose and was asking the Democratic candidate about a rumored economic union among the United States, Canada and Mexico that is widely-discussed, feared and abhorred among conspiracy fanciers. The woman said the president planned to implement the secret agreement in 2010.
Then the woman called the president "Bush the bastard."
The Democratic crowd immediately roared its approval.
Sen. Clinton nodded her head slightly and smiled.
Then, she proceeded to....
answer the question, saying "there's not a lot of truth to it." Our colleagues over at the Swamp have posted Glenn Thrush's detailed account of the incident, which you can read here.
It'll be interesting to see if Clinton's silent assent to that crude comment arouses as much criticism and controversy as last year when a Republican woman in South Carolina asked Sen. John McCain about Clinton, calling her "the bitch."
At the time CNN showed a video clip of the incident and strongly criticized McCain for not admonishing the woman, although the candidate did say belatedly that he respected the New York senator.
Mets give Johan $150 million
By MARK HALE and JOEL SHERMAN
It took an extension to get the extension done. But it got done, and now Feb. 1, 2008 will go down as one of the most glorious days in Mets history.
Because that is the day the Mets overcame the last significant hurdle to assure Johan Santana would be their ace.
Given a two-hour extension after the initial 72-hour window closed, the Mets and Santana reached accord on the largest pitching contract ever. The two-time Cy Young winner receives a six-year extension for $137.5 million to go along with the $13.25 million he already was owed for 2008.
The total package is for $150.75 million over seven years.
Eli, monster defense power Giants to shocking Super Bowl victory
By Greg Garber
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There was a palpable expectation of history here on a chilly night in the Arizona desert. Super Bowl XLII delivered on that score, but history of a different sort than predicted was made Sunday.
The Giants, 12-point underdogs, ruined the New England Patriots' quest for a perfect season. New York, which lost six of 16 games in the regular season, prevailed 17-14 at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Obama expands lead on Clinton in California
Mon Feb 4, 2008 7:36am EST
By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama opened narrow leads on Hillary Clinton in California and Missouri one day before crucial "Super Tuesday" nominating contests in 24 states, according to a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released on Monday.
In the Republican race, Arizona Sen. John McCain solidified his double-digit leads over Mitt Romney in New York and New Jersey, but Romney expanded his lead in California, the biggest prize on "Super Tuesday."
Obama and Clinton were deadlocked in New Jersey, and Obama enjoyed a double-digit advantage over Clinton in Georgia in two other Democratic contests on the biggest single day of voting ever in a U.S. presidential nominating campaign.
Obama, an Illinois senator, and Clinton, a New York senator, have waged a bitter duel for the Democratic presidential nomination, competing for votes from coast to coast after splitting the first four significant contests.
"The momentum is with Obama," said pollster John Zogby. "If this trend continues it could be a very big night for him."
Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, led McCain 40 percent to 32 percent in California, where the margin of error was 3.3 percentage points. A win in California, the most populous state, could help puncture McCain's growing momentum in the Republican nomination fight.
McCain won the last two contests, in South Carolina and Florida, to seize the front-runner's slot in a hard-fought Republican race despite qualms among some conservatives about his past views on taxes, immigration and campaign finance.
"Romney is widening his lead in California and has a really big advantage with conservatives," Zogby said. "Romney winning California would give some Republicans pause when they look at McCain as the potential
Friday, February 01, 2008
Democrats say McCain nearly abandoned GOP
By Bob Cusack
Posted: 03/28/07 07:39 PM [ET]
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was close to leaving the Republican Party in 2001, weeks before then-Sen. Jim Jeffords (Vt.) famously announced his decision to become an Independent, according to former Democratic lawmakers who say they were involved in the discussions.
In interviews with The Hill this month, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and ex-Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.) said there were nearly two months of talks with the maverick lawmaker following an approach by John Weaver, McCain’s chief political strategist.
Democrats had contacted Jeffords and then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) in the early months of 2001 about switching parties, but in McCain’s case, they said, it was McCain’s top strategist who came to them.