Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who You Gonna Call?

Mike Rogers is quite upset about the recent decision to move some Guantanamo detainees to the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Illinois.

How upset, you ask?

Well, perhaps Dr. Peter Venkman and his colleagues best describe Mr. Rogers' anguish.

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, "biblical"? [skip]
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria.

Mr. Rogers hasn't risen to quite the same level of drama... but he's close:
Obama's decision was criticized by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, who called it a "dangerous gamble."

"Terrorists with one mission in life, to kill Americans and destroy America, do not belong in state prisons, no matter whether it is Michigan, Kansas, Illinois or any other state," Rogers said.

Apparently Mr. Rogers has no confidence in federal law enforcement and corrections personnel.

Nor does he seem to know that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, there are already 216 international terrorists and 139 domestic terrorists housed in maximum security facilities, some of whom have been there since the 1990s. Fred Kaplan of Slate Magazine wrote about these prisoners back in the springtime, and he could have been talking about Mr. Rogers (or his heart-palpitatin' colleague Pete Hoekstra) when he wrote this:

Maybe these people don't understand what life is like in these "supermax" prisons. Take ADX Florence, the supermax in Colorado—"the Alcatraz of the Rockies"—that serves as the home to Omar Abdel-Rahman, the "blind sheikh" who organized the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the Sept. 11 plotters; Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber; Theodore Kaczynski, the "Unabomber"; and Terry Nichols, who helped plan the Oklahoma City bombing, to name a few.

These are all truly dangerous people, but it's not as if they run into one another in the lunch line or the yard. There is no lunch line; there is no yard. Most of the prisoners are kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. For one hour, they're taken to another concrete room, indoors, to exercise, by themselves. Their only windows face the sky, so they have no way of knowing even where they are within the prison. Phone calls to the outside world are banned. Finally, the prison is crammed with cameras and motion detectors. Compartments are separated by 1,400 remote-controlled steel doors; the place is surrounded by 12-foot-high razor-wire fences; the area between the wire and the walls is further secured by laser beams and attack dogs.

Got that?

Mr. Rogers has spent nearly a decade on the House Intel Committee; he's also a former FBI agent. You;d think that his national security expertise would outweigh his political concerns.

Unfortunately, that's not the case.

Rogers' main contribution to our nation's security? That would be his tireless efforts to predict doooooooom in front of any available microphone or tv camera. He pitched a fit about Mirandizing terrorists -- and pretty much called the Director of the FBI and General David Petraeus liars. He blamed Congress for not paying attention to Iran's nuclear buildup, conveniently forgetting that he is IN Congress and has been on the House Intel Committee since he was first elected in 2000. He got in a lather about the decision to discontinue the Eastern European missile defense shield, but he still hasn't asked those "very tough questions" he promised.

Mr. Rogers is unstinting in his efforts to get good media coverage -- but when it comes to the hard work of making sure our country is safe, he's kind of a marshmallow.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rogers continues to deny the fact that global warming is a fact on behalf of Big Oil masters

After some nine years of Mike Rogers in Congress, the only thing we know for sure about the Brighton Republican is that he toes the GOP line until its no longer popular to dos so. His press release on the stolen emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia that critics have dubiously claimed undermine the scientific consensus on climate change is just one more example.

Rogers backed every single Bush position until the approval ratings of the worst president in U.S. history plunged like a rock, and Rogers abandoned him like a rat from a sinking ship. Now, he has sunk to the role of just criticizing and blocking every solution to the problems his party created.

His press release printed almost verbatim in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus is parroting the rightwing lie that global warming is a hoax. “He joined fellow congressional Republicans who raised questions about leaked e-mails from the researchers.”

First, they were not “leaked e-mails” they were stolen. Global warming deniers are basically taking one word out of context among 13 years of personal emails to prove their point. They ignore all the data from other agencies, like NASA, to make their case.

For years, thousands of scientists working at climate research centers throughout the world have carefully and rigorously reached a consensus on the extent of climate change, the urgency of the problem, and the role of human activity in causing it. A few distorted e-mail exchanges do not change that consensus.

In fact, last month Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, supported that claim: "There's nothing in the e-mails that shows that global warming is a hoax. ... There's no funding by nefarious groups. There's no politics in any of these things; nobody from the [United Nations] telling people what to do. There's nothing hidden, no manipulation. It's just scientists talking about science, and they're talking relatively openly as people in private e-mails generally are freer with their thoughts than they would be in a public forum. The few quotes that are being pulled out [are out] of context. People are using language used in science and interpreting it in a completely different way."

Rogers is a very good friend of big oil, and, in fact, he voted against ending taxpayer-funded subsidies for Big Oil and creating a Strategic Energy and Renewables Reserve. Is it any surprise he is a global warming denier? The right-wing groups leading the charge in attacking the science are the same old Big Oil-backed naysayers and their allies in Congress -like Rogers- who have been attacking climate science and fighting clean energy for decades.

The U.S. Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency have identified climate change as a threat to our national security and have developed specific efforts to combat climate change.

The real indicator is the results of global warming. How to you ignore or lie that away?

According to a recent article by the Associated Press, “Since 1997 climate change has worsened and accelerated – beyond some of the grimmest of warnings made back then.”
The world's oceans have risen by about an inch and a half.

Droughts and wildfires have turned more severe worldwide, from the U.S. West to Australia to the Sahel desert of North Africa. Species now in trouble because of changing climate include, not just the lumbering polar bear which has become a symbol of global warming, but also fragile butterflies, colorful frogs and entire stands of North American pine forests. Temperatures over the past 12 years are 0.4 of a degree warmer than the dozen years leading up to 1997. Even the gloomiest climate models back in the 1990s didn't forecast results quite this bad so fast.

Scientists have uncovered a large expanse of "corrosive" water in the Canadian Arctic due to carbon pollution that is putting the marine food web at risk. "Unprecedented" rainfall in the United Kingdom has led to flooding of "biblical proportions" – a predicted consequence of global warming. "Unprecedented" heat, drought, and winds are causing "catastrophic" wildfires to sweep across eastern Australia – a predicted consequence of global warming.

The 2000s are on track to be nearly 0.2°C warmer than the 1990s. And that temperature jump is especially worrisome since the 1990s were only 0.14°C warmer than the 1980s. The world’s glaciers shrink for the 18th year. According to the University of Zurich ’s World Glacier Monitoring Service report in 2006 and 2007 the world’s glaciers lost 2 meters (2000 mm) of thickness on average. They note, “The new data continues the global trend in accelerated ice loss over the past few decades.” The rate of ice loss is twice as fast as a decade ago. Greenhouse gases, which are believed to be responsible for global warming, reached record highs in the Earth’s atmosphere in 2008, according to the U.N. weather agency.

The simple fact is Global Warming is real, and a few words taken out of context from thousands of stolen emails cannot change that fact. Even if you wanted to impeach the results from the CRU at the University of East Anglia, there are plenty of other respected scientists above reproach who hold the same position reached by independent and undisputed research and data. Here are a few:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Global warming of the climate system is unequivocal and most of the observed increase in global temperatures since the mid-20th century is due to human-induced greenhouse gas emissions.

National Academy of Sciences: Even if carbon dioxide emissions were halted today, the world would continue warming with “irreversible” effects — including rising temperatures and sea levels—that will last for a millennium.

American Association for the Advancement of Science: The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.

U.S. Global Change Research Program: Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.

American Physical Society: Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes. The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.

American Meteorological Society: Despite the uncertainties noted above, there is adequate evidence from observations and interpretations of climate simulations to conclude that the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; that humans have significantly contributed to this change; and that further climate change will continue to have important impacts on human societies, on economies, on ecosystems, and on wildlife through the 21st century and beyond.

American Geophysical Union: The Earth’s climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century. . . . Evidence from most oceans and all continents except Antarctica shows warming attributable to human activities.

American Quaternary Association: Few credible scientists now doubt that humans have influenced the documented rise in global temperatures since the Industrial Revolution.

The national science academies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa: It is essential that world leaders agree on the emission reductions needed to combat negative consequences of anthropogenic climate change at the UNFCCC negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009.

A group of 18 leading scientific organizations recently sent a letter to Senators affirming that climate change is happening.