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  • RuralRebel 9:18 pm on June 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    IRS timeline 

    June 6, 2013 7:40 PM

    An IRS Political Timeline

    President Obama spent months in 2010 warning Americans about the ‘threat’ to democracy posed by conservative groups, right at the time the IRS began targeting these groups.

    Barack Obama warns the country about conservative groups, Aug. 9, 2010 

    By Kimberley Strassel

    Perhaps the only useful part of the inspector general’s audit of the IRS was its timeline. We know that it was August 2010 when the IRS issued its first “Be On the Lookout” list, flagging applications containing key conservative words and issues. The criteria would expand in the months to come.
    What else was happening in the summer and fall of 2010? The Obama administration and its allies continue to suggest the IRS was working in some political vacuum. What they’d rather everyone forget is that the IRS’s first BOLO list coincided with their own attack against “shadowy” or “front” conservative groups that they claimed were rigging the electoral system.Below is a more relevant timeline, a political one, which seeks to remind readers of the context in which the IRS targeting happened.
    Aug. 9, 2010: In Texas, President Obama for the first time publicly names a group he is obsessed with —Americans for Prosperity (founded by the Koch Brothers)—and warns about conservative groups. Taking up a cry that had until then largely been confined to left-wing media and activists, he says: “Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads . . . And they don’t have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation.”
    Aug. 11: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sends out a fundraising email warning about “Karl Rove-inspired shadow groups.”
    Aug. 21: Mr. Obama devotes his weekly radio address to the threat of “attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. We don’t know who’s behind these ads and we don’t know who’s paying for them. . . . You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. . . . The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.”Week of Aug. 23: The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer authors a hit piece on the Koch brothers, entitled “Covert Operations,” in which she accuses them of funding “political front groups.” The piece repeats the White House theme, with Ms. Mayer claiming the Kochs have created “slippery organizations with generic-sounding names” that have “made it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington.”Aug. 27: White House economist Austan Goolsbee, in a background briefing with reporters, accuses Koch industries of being a pass-through entity that does “not pay corporate income tax.” The Treasury inspector general investigates how it is that Mr. Goolsbee might have confidential tax information. The report has never been released.This same week, the Democratic Party files a complaint with the IRS claiming the Americans for Prosperity Foundation is violating its tax-exempt status.
    Sept. 2: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warns on its website that the Kochs have “funneled their money into right-wing shadow groups.”
    Sept. 16: Mr. Obama, in Connecticut, repeats that a “foreign-controlled entity” might be funding “millions of dollars of attack ads.” Four days later, in Philadelphia, he again says the problem is that “nobody knows” who is behind conservative groups.
    Sept. 21: Sam Stein, in his Huffington Post article “Obama, Dems Try to Make Shadowy Conservative Groups a Problem for Conservatives,” writes that a “senior administration official” had “urged a small gathering of reporters to start writing on what he deemed ‘the most insidious power grab that we have seen in a very long time.’ “
    Sept. 22: In New York City, Mr. Obama warns that conservative groups “pose as non-for-profit, social welfare and trade groups,” even though they are “guided by seasoned Republican political operatives” who might be funded by a “foreign-controlled corporation.”
    Sept. 26: On ABC’s “This Week,” Obama senior adviser David Axelrod declares outright that the “benign-sounding Americans for Prosperity, the American Crossroads Fund” are “front groups for foreign-controlled companies.”
    Sept. 28: The president, in Wisconsin, again warns about conservative organizations “posing as nonprofit groups.” Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, writes to the IRS demanding it investigate nonprofits. The letter names conservative organizations.
    On Oct. 14, Mr. Obama calls these groups “a problem for democracy.”
    On Oct. 22, he slams those who “hide behind these front groups.”
    On Oct. 25, he upgrades them to a “threat to our democracy.”
    On Oct. 26, he decries groups engaged in “unsupervised spending.”
    These were not off-the-cuff remarks. They were repeated by the White House and echoed by its allies in campaign events, emails, social media and TV ads. The president of the United States spent months warning the country that “shadowy,” conservative “front” groups—”posing” as tax-exempt entities and illegally controlled by “foreign” players—were engaged in “unsupervised” spending that posed a “threat” to democracy.
    Yet we are to believe that a few rogue IRS employees just happened during that time to begin systematically targeting conservative groups? A mere coincidence that among the things the IRS demanded of these groups were “copies of any contracts with and training materials provided by Americans for Prosperity”?
    This newspaper reported Thursday that Cincinnati IRS employees are now telling investigators that they took their orders from Washington. For anyone with a memory of 2010 politics, that was obvious from the start.
    Write to kim@wsj.com.

  • RuralRebel 6:40 pm on June 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    McConnell says flaws in Immigration bill 

    McConnell: Immigration bill has ‘serious flaws’
    By Stephen Dinan -The Washington Times Tuesday, June 11, 2013
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the immigration bill making its way to the chamber floor later in the day has “serious flaws” that must be fixed before the legislation can pass.

    Mr. McConnell said he won’t launch a filibuster of the bill in a key test vote scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, but said the bill is still in danger unless its border security provisions can be stiffened and the bill is amended to deny illegal immigrants access to taxpayer-funded benefits like tax credits.

    “I’m going to need more than an assurance from [Homeland Security Secretary Janet] Napolitano, for instance, that the border is secure to feel comfortable about the situation on the border,” the Kentucky Republican said.

    SEE RELATED: Obama throws weight behind immigration overhaul bill
    He said the key to fixing the bill will be to have an open amendment process. And indeed, the jockeying over amendments has already begun.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, has said he will allow amendments but signaled he will keep tight reins on which amendments reach the floor.

    His goal is to protect the crux of the immigration deal, which offers illegal immigrants quick legalization but withholds the full path to citizenship until after more money is spent on border security, the government creates a new verification system to check workers, and immigration authorities begin to track entries and exits at airports and seaports.

    Mr. Reid told Univision, a Spanish-language television network, that he will allow some small changes but nothing “major.”

    He has a tricky task ahead of him.

    In 2007 — the last time the Senate debated a bill — Mr. Reid’s heavy hand in controlling amendments threatened to derail the bill, and he had to relent. When fellow Democrats passed an amendment cutting the number of guest-workers from the bill, it threw a wrench in the core of that year’s deal, and the bill died in a bipartisan filibuster.

    SEE RELATED: Union launches ad blitz to sway GOP on immigration
    Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who helped write this year’s bill and is considered the key to selling the measure to conservatives, has said he needs to see changes to border security and the entry-exit system.

    On Tuesday he said he’ll introduce an amendment requiring that illegal immigrants seeking green cards prove they’ve learned English — not just enrolled in language classes, as the bill currently allows.


  • RuralRebel 4:16 pm on June 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    What else would you expect from “political” trash!!! 


  • RuralRebel 3:11 pm on June 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Studied at Moscow? ??? 


  • RuralRebel 1:21 pm on June 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: refugees, Syria, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants   

    U.S. considers taking in Syrian refugees 

     Just what we need more DOMESTIC TERRORIST! Oh that’s right…the media and the left…they need more DOMESTIC TERRORIST! 

    Los Angeles Times
    June 9, 2013, 9:26 p.m.
    WASHINGTON — Two years into a civil war that shows no signs of ending, the Obama administration is considering resettling refugees who have fled Syria, part of an international effort that could bring thousands of Syrians to American cities and towns.

    A resettlement plan under discussion in Washington and other capitals is aimed at relieving pressure on Middle Eastern countries straining to support 1.6 million refugees, as well as assisting hard-hit Syrian families.

    The State Department is “ready to consider the idea,” an official from the department said, if the administration receives a formal request from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which is the usual procedure.

    The United States usually accepts about half the refugees that the U.N. agency proposes for resettlement. California has historically taken the largest share, but Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia are also popular destinations.

    U.N. refugee officials, diplomats and nongovernmental relief groups plan to discuss possible resettlement schemes at a high-level meeting this week in Geneva. Germany already has committed to taking 5,000 people.

    “It was probably inevitable that in this crisis, with these overwhelming numbers, governments would start moving in this direction,” said Lavinia Limon, chief executive officer of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a Virginia-based advocacy and service group. “But there will be resistance.”

    The Obama administration supports rebels trying to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, but is wary of deeper involvement in Syria.

    The issue is politically sensitive on several levels.

    Congress strongly resisted accepting Iraqi refugees, including interpreters who had worked with U.S. forces, after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Most lawmakers share White House caution about getting more engaged in Syria and may have little appetite for a major influx.

    But Susan Rice, President Obama’s new national security advisor, and Samantha Power, Obama’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to the U.N., both have been strong advocates for refugees. They may make the White House more receptive to at least a partial opening. 

    Homeland security officials require careful vetting of refugees, with multiple interviews and background checks before they are allowed to enter the country. Under normal circumstances, the screening process can take a year or longer.

     Like they did…with the Marathon Islamic Terrorists? 

    U.S. officials are likely to be extra careful with Syrian refugees. As Islamic militants take a more prominent role in the rebel forces, officials worry about fighters with Al Qaeda ties trying to enter the country. Two resettled Iraqis were convicted of trying to send arms to Al Qaeda from their home in Bowling Green, Ky.

    The refugee dilemma is more acute for countries that lie on Syria’s borders.

    Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, which have absorbed the bulk of the refugees, worry that a resettlement plan could actually widen the flood if Syrians see a chance for a better life in North America, Europe or Australia.

    Jordan and Lebanon each have taken in about 500,000 refugees and Turkey has more than 375,000, according to the U.N. refugee agency. It predicts that the total number of refugees will double to 3.2 million by the end of the year.

    Turkey already has demanded that the West take some its refugees, even proposing an airlift to fly them abroad. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has faced angry protests against his government for giving refuge to so many Syrians, declared last month, “We are the first victims of the Syrian situation.”

    Some Middle Eastern officials worry they may get stuck housing and feeding refugees for months or years while the West does the vetting, leading to an even longer logjam and more domestic political turmoil.

    “Their view is that unless this involves big numbers, it’s not worth doing,” said a European official, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject. “You need to be talking about tens of thousands of people.”

    Western officials try to discourage poor foreigners who are seeking a more comfortable life or business opportunities in the West. They say resettlement is only for those who can’t go home, and seek to dispel notions that an easy life awaits.

     Oh really….why all the crying  for all those “HARD WORKING” refugees from Mexico then?

    According to a State Department publication aimed at refugees, “Cars are not provided…. Most Americans value self-reliance and hard work. They expect newcomers to find jobs as soon as possible and to take care of themselves and their families.”

     What a JOKE!!!!

    Another sensitive issue is who qualifies for resettlement. Western countries often prefer intact, well-educated families with familiar religious backgrounds.

     Can this get any scarier…….who to heck will look at what the Left has allowed to walk across our border…and want to now make citizens……believe what is being reported here?

    But experts say 80% of the Syrian refugees are women and children, many with war-related injuries or psychological problems that could hamper finding work or going to school.

    Kirk Johnson, founder of the List Project, which has pushed for Iraqi resettlement, said it may be difficult to sell Syrian resettlement to Congress. He said it would require an advocacy effort and sympathetic lawmakers, “and I don’t seen either of those necessary ingredients.”

    Yet most refugee advocates predict that Americans will ultimately help the Syrians.

    “Americans have a long tradition of welcoming refugees,” said Daryl Grisgraber, a Washington-based Middle East specialist at Refugees International, which provides advocacy and services for refugees. “They’ll respond here, too.”


  • RuralRebel 1:17 pm on June 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Threats made that more Ky. officers will be killed via USA Press News ( http://goo.gl/9lMuJ ) 

    Threats made that more Ky. officers will be killed

    James Tensuan, The Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal

    BARDSTOWN, Ky. — The Bardstown Police Department, still reeling from the ambush shooting death of Officer Jason Ellis last month, has received threats that more officers will be killed.

    Police Chief Rick McCubbin said Monday that he received a letter last Thursday addressed to him that said that “there were more officers that would go down like the first one.”

    McCubbin said he’s been asked by the Kentucky State Police and the FBI not to reveal the exact wording of the letter. The chief said at least one other threat was made by telephone.

    “There’s nothing that we can really sink our teeth into or know who’s making them,” he said.

    Police say Ellis was shot to death around 2 a.m. on May 25 after he stopped his cruiser on a ramp on the Bluegrass Parkway on his way home and got out to remove tree limbs that were in the roadway.

    Investigators say they believe the tree limbs were placed in the road intentionally as a way to ambush Ellis.

    Ellis had been the Bardstown police department’s only K-9 officer, partnering with drug dog Figo and often searching for drug dealers and users, McCubbin has said. He made many arrests, putting a significant dent in the drug situation in the town of less than 12,000 residents about 40 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky.


  • RuralRebel 1:11 pm on June 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Water levels hurting Great Lakes 

    Water Levels Fall in Great Lakes, Taking a Toll on Shipping
    June 10, 2013
    Aboard the Dorothy Ann, in Lake Erie near Fairport Harbor, Ohio — As Capt. Jeremy R. Mock steered this 711-foot combination of tug and barge toward a harbor berth, a screen of red numbers indicated the decreasing depth of water under the vessel: 6 feet, 3.6 feet, 2 feet.

    Suddenly the numbers gave way to a line of red dashes: — — — — .

    It was a signal that there was not enough water to measure.

    Drought and other factors have created historically low water marks for the Great Lakes, putting the $34 billion Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping industry in peril, a situation that could send ominous ripples throughout the economy.

    Water levels in the Great Lakes have been below their long-term averages during the past 14 years, and this winter the water in Lakes Michigan and Huron, the hardest-hit lakes, dropped to record lows, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Keith Kompoltowicz, the chief of watershed hydrology with the corps’s Detroit district, said that in January “the monthly mean was the lowest ever recorded, going back to 1918.”

    While spring rains have helped so far this year, levels in all five Great Lakes are still low by historical standards, so getting through the shallow points in harbors and channels is a tense affair.

    The combination of low water and infrequent dredging is annoying to recreational boaters, but the biggest impact is economic: shippers, carriers and the industries that rely on the bulk materials like limestone, iron ore, coal and salt are hugely dependent on lake travel.

    Lakers can move products at prices that beat rail or road by as much as $20 per ton of cargo, using much less fuel. Given those advantages and an improving economy, about 30 ships are being built this year to run cargo on the Great Lakes, according to Craig H. Middlebrook, the deputy administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

    But for now, low water is “hammering our industry,” said Glen G. Nekvasil, communications director for the Lake Carriers’ Association, a trade group. To cope, shipowners have had to lighten the loads on their boats, making hauling less efficient and profitable.

    “When the water level drops as it has, we’re ripping tons out of the boat,” said Mark Barker, the president of the Interlake Steamship Company, which owns the Dorothy Ann.

    In the Dorothy Ann pilothouse, 70 feet above the water, the sudden appearance of dashes on the screen was a moment of tight shoulders and held breath. The boat had already been lightened by dropping off thousands of tons of cargo earlier in its journey to float at this depth, and the boat glided the last few hundred feet over the soft bottom.

    A large laker, 1,000 feet long, will lose 250 to 270 tons for every inch the water level drops, Mr. Nekvasil said. That can add up to 324,000 tons a season per boat, he said.

    The impact does not stop with shippers. “The aggregate impact over time will be to raise the cost of commodities, which in turn will raise the price of manufacturing goods, which in turn raises the price to the consumer,” said Richard D. Stewart, the director of the Transportation and Logistics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

    The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that inadequate harbor maintenance increased the cost of traded products by $7 billion in 2010 and that this cost would increase to $14 billion by 2040 if the work was not stepped up.

    The most recent causes of low water were the mild winters in 2011 and 2012, which left too little snow to feed the lakes, traditionally “the largest source of water to the Great Lakes,” Mr. Kompoltowicz of the corps said. Last spring, the water level rose just 4 inches instead of the usual 12 in Michigan and Huron, he said, and that was followed by an unusually dry summer and above-average evaporation in the fall — 12 inches more than average. The water level currently stands at 577.20 feet, 22 inches below the long-term average.

    A measure of the drop in water levels can also be attributed to the engineering that makes Great Lakes shipping possible. The 1962 dredging of the St. Clair River may have lowered the water in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan by five inches, said John Nevin, a spokesman for the International Joint Commission, founded by the United States and Canada nearly 100 years ago to study issues pertaining to boundary waters.

    Other dredging projects may have emptied 16 inches in all from the lakes, Mr. Nevin said. Ways to slow water flowing down the St. Clair, including water gates or turbines that could generate power, have been discussed for years, but any changes would have to be weighed against factors like environmental impact on aquatic life.

    Anything that puts more water in Lake Michigan could, in the long run, affect lower-lying areas, he said. “You don’t want to do something that would, ultimately, flood Chicago in 50 or 100 years,” Mr. Nevin said. Climate change is expected to reduce water levels still further in the long run.

    The owners of the big lake boats like the Dorothy Ann and its barge, the Pathfinder, contend that the federal government has fallen down on the job of dredging these harbors, which could help compensate for the low water. “If we had the dredging, we wouldn’t have the dashes,” said Mr. Barker, president of the Interlake Steamship Company.

    He said the Great Lakes ports could be properly dredged for $200 million. “Pretty much all we’re asking for is the cost of a highway interchange,” he said.

    The federal government has a trust fund for harbor dredging, based on taxes on cargo. The fund is supposed to receive $1.8 billion in the 2013 fiscal year, but the Army Corps of Engineers requested to spend only $850 million of the fund, a situation that led Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, to hold up a piece of paper that read “I.O.U. $6.95 Billion,” the surplus in the fund since it was established in 1986, in a hearing with Jo-Ellen Darcy, the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works. The Water Resources Development Act, which was drafted to address many of these issues, has passed the Senate and is under consideration in the House.

    Don T. Riley, a former official with the Army Corps of Engineers who works with a Washington lobbying and consulting firm, Dawson & Associates, acknowledged that the extra money could seem absurd. “You’ve got this major surplus — that just sounds so dumb not to spend at least what you take in because that’s what you’re paying for,” he said. But the corps spends only what Congress appropriates, he said, and tapping the fund is not necessarily easy: even if money has been collected, ordering it to be spent increases the appropriation for the corps, and that can be politically troublesome in times of budget cutting.

    The ability of humans to fix the situation is limited, said Mr. Nevin of the International Joint Commission. “We can’t make it rain.”

  • RuralRebel 12:22 pm on June 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Senate passes farm bill….House next 

    Senate passes five-year, $500 billion farm bill
    WASHINGTON — Congress moved a step closer toward completing a sweeping five-year, $500 billion farm law Monday night, with the Senate approving legislation that would cut farm subsidies while expanding crop insurance.

    The Senate voted 66-27 in favor of the package, which includes food stamps, rural economic development programs and international food aid. Iowa’s senators, Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin, both voted in favor of the farm bill.The attention now shifts to the House, where the bill could reach the floor for debate as soon as next week.

    Food stamp funding is expected to be a key sticking point during the next few months.

    “This is a strong bipartisan bill,” Harkin said. “Congress should pass this farm bill quickly to continue to assist farmers and consumers, while making investments in rural communities, agriculture, food, energy, and conservation programs that benefit Iowans and all Americans.”

    The bill keeps intact Grassley’s provisions to focus farm payments on small- and medium-sized farmers and close loopholes that allow non-farmers to game the farm program system.

    “The bill that cleared the Senate tonight is a step in the right direction,” Grassley said. “Having responsible payment limits on the commodity program is crucial to the defensibility of the farm safety-net. We need payment caps on our commodity programs, and we need to close loopholes that have allowed non-farmers to game the system. I hope the House takes notice at the reforms in the Senate-passed bill and sees the positive changes we made to the farm payment system.”

    “While I continue to have concerns about the potential impacts of the shallow loss and target price programs created in this farm bill, I would also agree with the overwhelming sentiment from Iowa farmers that they need to have certainty. A five-year farm bill that includes my payment limit reforms, maintains the crop insurance program, and streamlines conservation programs gives that certainty.”

    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, confirmed Monday the chamber would begin discussing the farm bill later this month and vowed a “vigorous and open debate.”

    “If you have ideas on how to make the bill better, bring them forward,” Boehner told his colleagues. “Let’s have the debate, and let’s vote on them.”

    Last year, the Senate passed a farm bill by a wide margin in June followed by approval of legislation in the House Agriculture Committee a month later. But GOP leaders in the House were reluctant to call for a vote on either bill because they did not think they had the 218 votes necessary to pass either plan ahead of the November election. As a result, Congress failed to pass a bill and instead voted to extend the 2008 farm law until Sept. 30.

    Despite the promise of floor time in the House, the agriculture community is still skittish after the failure by lawmakers to pass a bill in 2012. “We made it this far last year,” said Lisa Richardson, executive director with the South Dakota Corn Growers Association. “We’re only in the second inning and we need to finish the game this time.”

    The Senate bill passed Monday would collectively reduce overall spending by about $24 billion over 10 years, compared with about $38 billion during the same period in a House measure. Much of the savings would come from the consolidation of conservation programs, reductions to the food stamp program used by one in seven Americans and the elimination of subsidies by $17 billion, including the end of direct payments to farmers regardless of need.

    Senators looking for further cuts in subsidy payments during the recent farm bill debate have so far been largely unsuccessful. One measure included in the bill that has drawn support is the requirement that farmers with adjusted gross incomes of more than $750,000 pay more for taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance. Currently, the government pays 62 percent of every $1 in crop insurance premiums. The legislation cuts that total to 47 percent for about 20,000 of America’s wealthiest farmers.

    The bill would invest savings in new revenue insurance programs backed by Midwest corn and soybean farmers that protect them against “shallow losses” caused by low prices or poor yields. Crop insurance would kick in to cover larger losses. In a bid to appease Southern lawmakers concerned their farmers would be hurt by the end of direct payments, the Senate farm bill also would set higher support prices for rice and peanut farmers, meaning growers would see subsidy payments kick in sooner.

    While the House and Senate farm bill measures being crafted this year largely mirror each other in terms of their changes to farm programs, a significant divide exists in the scope of proposed cuts to the country’s food stamp program, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The Senate is proposing reductions of $4 billion and the House about $20 billion, but some Republicans have been pushing for even deeper cuts while Democrats complain the rollback would hurt the 48 million Americans who depend on the program. Food aid accounts for almost 80 percent of spending in the farm bill and has given lawmakers from non-rural areas a significant stake in the final outcome of the farm bill.

    While most groups backed the Senate bill, some said lawmakers should have done more to overhaul farm policy.

    Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group’s vice president for government affairs, said the Senate missed a chance to help the hungry and the environment when it chose to shift most of the savings from the ending of direct payments into crop insurance and price guarantees that benefit the largest and most successful farmers.

    “Consumers and family farmers deserve a better and more transparent farm bill than the one considered by the full Senate today,” Faber said.

  • RuralRebel 12:20 pm on June 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    NYT….concedes….sort of…. 

    What to Make of a Warming Plateau

    Rungroj Yongrit/Agence France-Presse
    A storm gathered over Bangkok. Despite a recent lull, climate scientists say it is an open question whether the pace of warming has undergone any lasting shift.

    As unlikely as this may sound, we have lucked out in recent years when it comes to global warming.

    The rise in the surface temperature of earth has been markedly slower over the last 15 years than in the 20 years before that. And that lull in warming has occurred even as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere at a record pace.

    The slowdown is a bit of a mystery to climate scientists. True, the basic theory that predicts a warming of the planet in response to human emissions does not suggest that warming should be smooth and continuous. To the contrary, in a climate system still dominated by natural variability, there is every reason to think the warming will proceed in fits and starts.

    But given how much is riding on the scientific forecast, the practitioners of climate science would like to understand exactly what is going on. They admit that they do not, even though some potential mechanisms of the slowdown have been suggested. The situation highlights important gaps in our knowledge of the climate system, some of which cannot be closed until we get better measurements from high in space and from deep in the ocean.

    As you might imagine, those dismissive of climate-change concerns have made much of this warming plateau. They typically argue that “global warming stopped 15 years ago” or some similar statement, and then assert that this disproves the whole notion that greenhouse gases are causing warming.

    Rarely do they mention that most of the warmest years in the historical record have occurred recently. Moreover, their claim depends on careful selection of the starting and ending points. The starting point is almost always 1998, a particularly warm year because of a strong El Niño weather pattern.

    Somebody who wanted to sell you gold coins as an investment could make the same kind of argument about the futility of putting your retirement funds into the stock market. If he picked the start date and the end date carefully enough, the gold salesman could make it look like the stock market did not go up for a decade or longer.

    But that does not really tell you what your retirement money is going to do in the market over 30 or 40 years. It does not even tell you how you would have done over the cherry-picked decade, which would have depended on exactly when you got in and out of the market.

    Scientists and statisticians reject this sort of selective use of numbers, and when they calculate the long-term temperature trends for the earth, they conclude that it continues to warm through time. Despite the recent lull, it is an open question whether the pace of that warming has undergone any lasting shift.

    What to make of it all?

    We certainly cannot conclude, as some people want to, that carbon dioxide is not actually a greenhouse gas. More than a century of research thoroughly disproves that claim.

    In fact, scientists can calculate how much extra heat should be accumulating from the human-caused increases in greenhouse gases, and the energies involved are staggering. By a conservative estimate, current concentrations are trapping an extra amount of energy equivalent to 400,000 Hiroshima bombs exploding across the face of the earth every day.

    So the real question is where all that heat is going, if not to warm the surface. And a prime suspect is the deep ocean. Our measurements there are not good enough to confirm it absolutely, but a growing body of research suggests this may be an important part of the answer.

    Exactly why the ocean would have started to draw down extra heat in recent years is a mystery, and one we badly need to understand. But the main ideas have to do with possible shifts in winds and currents that are causing surface heat to be pulled down faster than before.

    The deep-ocean theory is one of a half-dozen explanations that have been proffered for the warming plateau. Perhaps the answer will turn out to be some mix of all of them. And in any event, computer forecasts of climate change suggest that pauses in warming lasting a couple of decades should not surprise us.

    Now, here is a crucial piece of background: It turns out we had an earlier plateau in global warming, from roughly the 1950s to the 1970s, and scientists do not fully understand that one either. A lot of evidence suggests that sunlight-blocking pollution from dirty factories may have played a role, as did natural variability in ocean circulation. The pollution was ultimately reduced by stronger clean-air laws in the West.

    Today, factory pollution from China and other developing countries could be playing a similar role in blocking some sunlight. We will not know for sure until we send up satellites that can make better measurements of particles in the air.

    What happened when the mid-20th-century lull came to an end? You guessed it: an extremely rapid warming of the planet.

    So, if past is prologue, this current plateau will end at some point, too, and a new era of rapid global warming will begin. That will put extra energy and moisture into the atmosphere that can fuel weather extremes, like heat waves and torrential rains.

    We might one day find ourselves looking back on the crazy weather of the 2010s with a deep yearning for those halcyon days.

    A version of this article appeared in print on June 11, 2013, on page D3 of the New York edition with the headline: What to Make of a Warming Plateau.

  • RuralRebel 12:11 pm on June 11, 2013 Permalink | Reply  

    Only worked for Booz for 3 months? 

    No plans to end broad surveillance program
    WASHINGTON (AP) – The Obama administration considered whether to charge a government contractor with leaking classified surveillance secrets while it defended the broad U.S. spy program that it says keeps America safe from terrorists.

    Facing a global uproar over the programs that track phone and Internet messages around the world, the Justice Department continued to investigate whether the disclosures of Edward Snowden, 29, an employee of government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, were criminal.

    Meanwhile, the European Parliament planned to debate the spy programs Tuesday and whether they have violated local privacy protections. EU officials in Brussels pledged to seek answers from U.S. diplomats at a trans-Atlantic ministerial meeting in Dublin later this week.

    The global scrutiny comes after revelations from Snowden, who has chosen to reveal his identity. Snowden has fled to Hong Kong in hopes of escaping criminal charges as lawmakers including Senate intelligence chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California accuse him of committing an “act of treason” that should be prosecuted.

    (AP) In this June 6, 2013 file photo National Security Agency plaques are seen at the compound at…
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    Officials in Germany and the European Union issued calm but firm complaints Monday over two National Security Agency programs that target suspicious foreign messages – potentially including phone numbers, email, images, video and other online communications transmitted through U.S. providers. The chief British diplomat felt it necessary to try to assure Parliament that the spy programs do not encroach on U.K. privacy laws.
    And in Washington, members of Congress said they would take a new look at potential ways to keep the U.S. safe from terror attacks without giving up privacy protections that critics charge are at risk with the government’s current authority to broadly sweep up personal communications.

    “There’s very little trust in the government, and that’s for good reason,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who sits on the House Intelligence Committee. “We’re our own worst enemy.”

    A senior U.S. intelligence official on Monday said there were no plans to scrap the programs that, despite the backlash, continue to receive widespread if cautious support within Congress. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive security issue.

    The programs were revealed last week by The Guardian and The Washington Post newspapers. National Intelligence Director James Clapper has taken the unusual step of declassifying some of the previously top-secret details to help the administration mount a public defense of the surveillance as a necessary step to protect Americans.

    (AP) Glenn Greenwald, a reporter of Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, speaks to The Associated Press in…
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    Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he was considering how Congress could limit the amount of data spy agencies seize from telephone and Internet companies – including restricting the information to be released only on an as-needed basis.
    “It’s a little unsettling to have this massive data in the government’s possession,” King said.

    One of the NSA programs gathers hundreds of millions of U.S. phone records to search for possible links to known terrorist targets abroad. The other allows the government to tap into nine U.S. Internet companies and gather all communications to detect suspicious behavior that begins overseas.

    Snowden is a former CIA employee who later worked as a contractor for the NSA on behalf of Booz Allen, where he gained access to the surveillance. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine said, it was “absolutely shocking” that a 29-year-old with limited experience would have access to this material.

    FBI agents on Monday visited the home of Snowden’s father, Lonnie Snowden, in Upper Macungie Township, Pa. The FBI in Philadelphia declined to comment.

    The first explosive document Snowden revealed was a top secret court order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that granted a three-month renewal for a massive collection of American phone records. That order was signed April 25. The Guardian’s first story on the court order was published June 5.
    In a statement issued Sunday, Booz Allen said Snowden had been an employee for fewer than three months, so it’s possible he was working as an NSA contractor when the order was issued.

    Snowden also gave the Post and the Guardian a PowerPoint presentation on another secret program that collects online usage by the nine Internet providers. The U.S. government says it uses that information only to track foreigners’ use overseas.

    Believing his role would soon be exposed, Snowden fled last month to Hong Kong, a Chinese territory that enjoys relative autonomy from Beijing. His exact whereabouts were unknown Monday.

    “All of the options, as he put it, are bad options,” Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first reported the phone-tracking program and interviewed Snowden extensively, told The Associated Press on Monday. He said Snowden decided to release details of the programs out of shock and anger over the sheer scope of the government’s privacy invasions.

    “It was his choice to publicly unveil himself,” Greenwald told the AP in Hong Kong. “He recognized that even if he hadn’t publicly unveiled himself, it was only a matter of time before the U.S. government discovered that it was he who had been responsible for these disclosures, and he made peace with that. … He’s very steadfast and resolute about the fact that he did the right thing.”

    Greenwald told the AP that he had more documents from Snowden and expected “more significant revelations” about NSA.

    Although Hong Kong has an extradition treaty with the U.S., the document has some exceptions, including for crimes deemed political. Any negotiations about his possible handover will involve Beijing, but some analysts believe China is unlikely to want to jeopardize its relationship with Washington over someone it would consider of little political interest.

    Snowden also told The Guardian that he may seek asylum in Iceland, which has strong free-speech protections and a tradition of providing a haven for the outspoken and the outcast.

    The Justice Department is investigating whether his disclosures were a criminal offense – a matter that’s not always clear-cut under U.S. federal law.

    A second senior intelligence official said Snowden would have had to have signed a non-disclosure agreement to gain access to the top secret data. That suggests he could be prosecuted for violating that agreement. Penalties could range from a few years to life in prison. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the process of accessing classified materials more frankly.

    The leak came to light as Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was being tried in military court under federal espionage and computer fraud laws for releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other items. The most serious charge against him was aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence. But the military operates under a different legal system.

    If Snowden is forced to return to the United States to face charges, whistle-blower advocates said Monday that they would raise money for his legal defense.

    Clapper has ordered an internal review to assess how much damage the disclosures created. Intelligence experts say terrorist suspects and others seeking to attack the U.S. all but certainly will find alternate ways to communicate instead of relying on systems that now are widely known to be under surveillance.

    The Obama administration also now must deal with the political and diplomatic fallout of the disclosures. Privacy laws across much of Western Europe are stricter than they are in the United States.

    “It would be unacceptable and would need swift action from the EU if indeed the U.S. National Security Agency were processing European data without permission,” said Guy Verhofstadt, a Belgian member of the European parliament and a leader in the Alde group of liberal parties.

    Additionally, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters Monday that Chancellor Angela Merkel would question President Barack Obama about the NSA program when he’s in Berlin on June 18 for his first visit to the German capital as president. In Germany, privacy regulations are especially strict, and the NSA programs could tarnish a visit that both sides had hoped would reaffirm strong German-American ties.

    In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague was forced to deny allegations that the U.K. government had used information provided by the Americans to circumvent British laws. “We want the British people to have confidence in the work of our intelligence agencies and in their adherence to the law and democratic values,” Hague told Parliament.

    White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was open for a discussion about the spy programs, both with allies and in Congress. His administration has aggressively defended the two programs and credited them with helping stop at least two terrorist attacks, including one in New York City.

    Privacy rights advocates say Obama has gone too far. The American Civil Liberties Union and Yale Law School filed legal action Monday to force a secret U.S. court to make public its opinions justifying the scope of some of the surveillance, calling the programs “shockingly broad.” And conservative lawyer Larry Klayman filed a separate lawsuit against the Obama administration, claiming he and others have been harmed by the government’s collection of as many as 3 billion phone numbers each day.

    Army records indicate Snowden enlisted in the Army around May 2004 and was discharged that September.

    “He attempted to qualify to become a Special Forces soldier but did not complete the requisite training and was administratively discharged from the Army,” Col. David H. Patterson Jr., an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said in a statement late Monday.

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