Friday, December 11, 2009

Big chill as winter storm slams U.S.

(CNN) -- As if the heavy snow, ice and high winds from a major winter storm weren't enough, temperatures plummeted in the upper Midwest and elsewhere Wednesday, the National Weather Service said.

The storm brought blizzard conditions to some areas as gusty winds and blowing snow created whiteout conditions across much of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions. Winds of at least 35 mph and rain to the east caused hundreds of flights to be delayed or canceled, leaving travelers stranded. Parts of the Southeast received more than 6 inches of rain, causing flash flooding.

A 28-year-old woman was killed in Omaha, Nebraska, Tuesday night when a truck plowing snow in a parking lot backed into her, police spokesman Jacob Bettin said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

In Nashville, Tennessee, early morning winds -- possibly up to 50 mph -- toppled the Christmas tree at the Tennessee State Capital, said CNN affiliate WKRN-TV. A facilities supervisor said the tree had been secured with hooks in concrete.

An Arctic high pressure system or air mass began moving southward from Canada on Wednesday, bringing with it frigid temperatures.

The temperature in Portland, Oregon, was 12 degrees, breaking the previous record of 15 degrees, set in 1972, said Jonathan Wolfe, meteorologist with the weather service's Portland bureau.

By Wednesday afternoon the temperature in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was 9 degrees. It was minus 2 degrees in Denver, Colorado; and 11 in Kansas City, Missouri.

Forecasters warned that places such as North Dakota and Minnesota could get dangerous wind chill readings of 25 to 35 degrees below zero.

Madison, Wisconsin, received more than 17 inches of snow, prompting the University of Wisconsin to cancel classes for the first time since 1990. The campus police department estimated 3,000 students descended onto the school's Bascom Hill Wednesday afternoon for a snowball fight, with a few minor injuries reported, according to the university's Web site.

Watch snow blow outside a hotel in Wisconsin

Early Wednesday morning, students began forming a giant snowball about six blocks from the campus and rolled it to an intersection near the university, former student Chad Krueger told CNN's iReport.

How is the weather where you are? Send an iReport

The storm prodded Nicole Stec of Janesville, Wisconsin, to finally buy those new tires her car had been needing.

"I'm a procrastinator, so I put it off for a while. But now it's time because there's snow on the ground," Stec told WISC-TV at a Janesville tire shop. "It's my Christmas present from Santa, apparently."

Elsewhere, Des Moines, Iowa, received more than a foot of snow, with more to come, and Freeport, Illinois, had 11 inches.

Schools were also closed across Iowa and parts of Minnesota.

Passengers heading to cities in snow-bound states were left waiting. High winds in the Northeast were creating flight delays of more than an hour Wednesday night.

New England also was expected to get dangerously low temperatures as snowfall was tapering off by Wednesday evening. Areas in Maine were expected to get an additional 4-8 inches of snow overnight after as much as 10 inches fell earlier in the day, the weather service said.

Connecticut's Department of Transportation deployed all of its 632 trucks to clear roads of snow that prompted numerous school closings Wednesday morning, CNN affiliate WFSB-TV reported.

Watch iReporters' shots of the storm

Flash floods struck north-central Alabama where rescuers ended up in a tree early Wednesday when their boat overturned as they tried to help a motorist whose car was swept into a rain-swollen creek, said the administrative assistant for Morgan County's Emergency Management Agency.

"The people were all right," said Rita Weeks. "They waited in the tree until people could come get them."

Earlier Wednesday, in the same county, a man hung on to a bridge over a creek after his vehicle was swept away by floodwaters, Weeks said.

Forecasters said the area got more than 3 inches of rain before it stopped Wednesday morning, but flood advisories were still in effect Wednesday night for much of the South.

The storm left its mark on the West on Monday and Tuesday.

Alpine Meadows, California, near Lake Tahoe received 42 inches of snow before the storm moved out of the region Tuesday afternoon. Pagosa Springs, Colorado, received 33 inches, and Flagstaff, Arizona, got 30, with similar amounts throughout the Rockies.

Urban Heat Islands on The Weather Channel

Click this link .....

Picking out the UHI in climatic temperature records – so easy a 6th grader can do it!

The Urban Heat Island effect on temperature records is real, despite what some people wish you to believe. Peter, a sixth grader, and his dad, thought so too, and take the data from NASA GISS and show in a simple video, what we’ve been saying for years here at WUWT. Urbanization, land use, and station siting matter.

Peter - shows how UHI is easy to spot

Watch Peter’s excellent video below:

They used a simple pairing of rural and urban sites to show the differences. This shows why homogenization, which smears all the data from urban and rural sites together, is a bad idea, and gives trends that don’t exist in reality.

I like the ending where he says in the rolling credits “Peter’s dad is not employed or funded by any energy or oil companies”. It’s funny that they’d feel a need to say this. No National Science Foundation funding needed either.

This video appeared in comments on WUWT, if anybody knows how to contact Peter or his dad, please advise. We are in touch now.

One wonders what the response of the well funded Hadley Centre, Met Office scientist Dr. David Parker, might be to this video.

Parker’s 2006 paper published in the Journal of Climate titled: “A Demonstration that Large scale warming is not urban” claims:

The analysis of Tmin demonstrates that neither urbanization nor other local instrumental or thermal effects
have systematically exaggerated the observed global warming trends in Tmin. The robustness of the analysis to the criterion for “calm” implies that the estimated overall trends are insensitive to boundary layer structure and small-scale advection, and to siting, instrumentation, and observing practices that increasingly influence temperatures as winds become lighter. Furthermore, even at windy sites (e.g., St. Paul, Aleutian Islands, in Fig. C1), the calmest terce and especially the calmest decile will be strongly affected by occasions with very light winds in passing ridges or blocking anticyclones, and should reveal any urban warming influence.

…the results of the present study also suggest that they have not affected the estimates of temperature trends.

Steve McIntyre gave Parker’s paper a scathing review in 2007’s article:

Salt Lake County raises taxes, trims wages

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Salt Lake County's new budget asks taxpayers for an extra $13.4 million, cuts employee wages and closes some recreation centers on Sundays.

The county council approved the 2010 budget Tuesday in a 5-4 vote along party lines. Democrats argued that higher taxes were necessary to maintain key services. Republicans urged more cuts in the budget rather than a tax hike.

The property tax increase will mean the owner of a $260,000 home will pay about $20 more a year. A $1 million business will pay an additional $171.

Sales tax revenues have slumped so the county has cut spending, which left more than 300 positions unfilled.

Employees will face a 2.75 percent pay cut under the new budget and will receive no contribution to their 401(k) accounts.

Funding will also be pulled from programs such as urban forestry and the Utah Cultural Celebration Center.

Other elements of the budget include shutting eight recreation centers on Sundays and reducing funding for the Sandy amphitheater and the Utah Sports Commission.

"It is a measured and conservative approach to balancing our county's budget in difficult times," Mayor Peter Corroon said in a statement.

Democratic Councilwoman Jenny Wilson said she's pleased the situation isn't more dire.

"It is because of shared sacrifice," she said.

Republican Councilman David Wilde said taxpayers shouldn't have to sacrifice more.

"In a time like this when people are hurting, it is incumbent upon us to do everything possible to avoid a tax increase," he said.

Tuesday's hearing on the budget attracted about 40 people. Most urged the council not to raise taxes.

"You see people being foreclosed on their homes. You see people losing their jobs. You see people's 401(k)s being blown apart," said Justin Holdaway of Cottonwood Heights. "You see everything in the private sector going downhill. But the public sector just continues to grab more and more."

One man, though, said he's glad to pay more taxes for Salt Lake County services.

"I'm in favor of the tax increase," Alden Laney of Millcreek said at the hearing. "Did you all hear that? I'm in favor of a tax increase. I like the sidewalks that we walk on. I like the streets that we drive on. My tax increase is not high enough."


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Estimated Price-Earnings Inflation Adjusted Ratio does not Reflect Actual Earnings. VIX now Back to August 2007 Levels. Bank of America P/E Ratio over

It is hard to justify the 1,100 mark for the S&P 500. The 676 low of March, as disastrous as it may have felt, actually reflected a more accurate measure of earnings potential of the 500 S&P companies. The S&P 500 is a good index because it measures 500 companies with a current collective market cap of $9.6 trillion. The S&P 500 over a century of data has seen price to earnings ratios of between 5 and 10 after severe contractions. It is safe to say that what we are experiencing is a strong contraction.

It is troubling to see a sudden complacency entering into the market. The VIX which measures option volatility is back to the point reached in August of 2007, right when the crisis ignited:

vix volatility index

vix volatility index

The VIX was in the lows 20s in August of 2007, traded within a range until August of 2008 then exploded in October of 2008 and remained high until March of 2009. Suddenly, we are back to levels seen in pre-crisis mode. Even if we are to assume a recovery, are we really at a volatility level that justified a peak S&P 500?

Given all the movement in the market, it is hard to accept that we have been merely running the Red Queen race for over a decade. Running faster and faster only to stay in the same spot:


The level we are at today was the same as it was in October of 1998. A lost decade when we factor in inflation adjustments. But over this time we have gone through two busted bubbles in technology and housing. The housing bubble was the ultimate culmination because it also popped the consumer oriented debt bubble. A new austerity is being forced on many Americans as they come to terms with a debt induced economy.

To comprehend the drop in earnings it is important to put the overall event in context:

snp earnings

snp earnings

Source: Chart of the Day

For the first time ever did S&P 500 earnings go negative for a quarter. This recession actually caused across the board losses to bring the earnings negative. It has since rebounded but adjusting for inflation we are merely at Great Depression levels. Is this cause for celebration? For the moment, the current S&P 500 P/E ratio puts us at approximately 70 which is fantastically high. If we use a broader valuation of ten year intervals we find that the current S&P is still over valued by 100 percent:


The above data comes from studies by Robert Shiller. As you can see, after most severe downturns the P/E ratios hit a trough in a tight range of 5 and 10. Our current 20 moving trend is high by 100 percent. If we were to use a top line P/E of 10 then the S&P 500 should be valued between 500 and 600 as it was in March of 2009. Until we see real significant jumps in earnings, most of this is just hype.

Keep in mind much of the gains come after a horrific 2008. So anything above zero is going to look like a gigantic jump. The fact that inventory depletion caused a void that is now being filled causes the market to over react. Plus cutting fixed costs like employees helps the bottom line in the short run. Yet the real mover of employment is still weak. 27 million unemployed and underemployed Americans. A large part of our economy is consumption based so how is this going to impact the bottom line of many companies in the S&P 500?

Take for example a diversified company like Proctor and Gamble:


Even Buffet’s mentor Mr. Graham would reject this bread and butter company:

“However, Graham also preached Margin of Safety. Therefore, taking this formula and allowing a 50% Margin of Safety you arrive at a P/E of 14.25 in the above example. Many value investors would take a hard look at a company with a 14.5 P/E growing earnings at 10% a year.”

Take a look at one of the too big to fail banks of BofA and the P/E is off the charts:


Even Wal-Mart has a P/E above 15. The point is, some companies like Wal-Mart are slightly overvalued given earnings but some of the hottest stocks in financials including BofA have P/E ratios with no justification.

Be cautious in this current market since current earnings do not justify the current S&P 500 level. We heard similar arguments back when the NASDAQ hit 5,000 and we know how that turned out.

Truth in Advertising

Click this link ......

Surfing Huge Waves in Hawaii

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Dems to lift debt ceiling by $1.8 trillion, fear 2010 backlash

In a bold but risky year-end strategy, Democrats are preparing to raise the federal debt ceiling by as much as $1.8 trillion before New Year’s rather than have to face the issue again prior to the 2010 elections.

“We’ve incurred this debt. We have to pay our bills,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told POLITICO Wednesday. And the Maryland Democrat confirmed that the anticipated increase could be as high as $1.8 trillion — nearly twice what had been assumed in last spring’s budget resolution for the 2010 fiscal year.

The leadership is betting that it’s better for the party to take its lumps now rather than risk further votes over the coming year. But the enormity of the number could create its own dynamic, much as another debt ceiling fight in 1985 gave rise to the Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction act mandating across-the-board spending cuts nearly 25 years ago.

Already in the Senate, there is growing pressure in both parties for the creation of a novel bipartisan task force empowered to force expedited votes in the next Congress on deficit reduction steps now shunned by lawmakers.

As introduced Wednesday, the legislation sets no specific targets for deficit reduction, but its 18-member task force — 16 of whom would come from Congress — is promised immense leverage to force change if they can first come together behind a plan.

“This is a defining moment,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), one of the lead sponsors, and New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg, the panel’s ranking Republican, is already maneuvering to try to add the legislation as an amendment to any bill tapped to carry the debt increase.

As explained by Hoyer and other Democrats, that will almost certainly be a pending $636.4 billion Pentagon appropriations bill that includes $128.3 in contingency funds for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The House leadership has held back the bill for weeks, saving it for this moment, but now appropriations clerks have been instructed to have a final package ready to go by Monday.

Leadership staff stressed that nothing was yet final in what has become a year-end negotiation between top Democrats in the House and Senate. But the Senate appears to have been the first to put the $1.8 trillion number on the table. And Hoyer’s comments are the clearest yet on the scale of the increase and the expectation that it will be part of a larger year-end legislative train pulled along by the must-pass military bill.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, who is pursuing job-related measures he would also like to add, insisted that the debt issue is a “leadership call” alone. But the Wisconsin Democrat showed no sign of opposition to the strategy outlined by Hoyer.

“It is December. We don’t really have a choice,” Obey told POLITICO. “The bill’s already been run up; the credit card has already been used. When you get the bill in the mail you need to pay it.”

Though Treasury can buy itself time by moving assets around, it is already coming close to the current debt ceiling of $12.1 trillion. Last spring, the Democratic-backed budget proposed to raise this to about $13 trillion, but given the current pace of borrowing, no one now expects that will be sufficient to get through 2010.

In fact, fiscal year 2009 ended Sept. 30 with a $1.4 trillion deficit, which demanded higher-than-expected Treasury borrowing. Most of that was due to the downturn in the economy and spending commitments in place before Barack Obama took office. And as much as Republicans point to the president’s economic recovery bill last February as the culprit, only a small share of that $787 billion package was spent by Sept. 30.

The picture in 2010 is different. The administration is predicting the stimulus will hit its stride with much more spending. And there will be a steady escalation of outlays driven by back-to-back increases in 2009 and 2010 appropriations for domestic agencies.

The White House has vowed to be more deficit conscious in its forthcoming 2011 budget due out in February. But the House could vote as early as Thursday on a $446.8 billion year-end package covering more than a dozen Cabinet departments and agencies and representing a healthy 9 percent to 10 percent increase over current spending for the same accounts.

For example, transportation and housing resources would grow by 12 percent, including $2.5 billion for high-speed-rail investments on top of the $8 billion already added by the White House to the giant stimulus bill in February. A $163.5 budget for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education would add an additional $8.6 billion to annual spending, and Veterans Health Administration spending would grow to $45.1 billion, a $4.1 billion increase.

No, Wells Fargo, You Can't Leave Animals To Die

Wells Fargo foreclosed on a Rhode Island shelter for abandoned animals, barred former owner Dan MacKenzie from entering the property, and seems to be just letting the animals fend for themselves, the Providence Journal reports.

MacKenzie is seeking a restraining order to make the bank take care of the animals. Richard C. Dujardin writes:

Tuesday, RISPCA president Dr. Ernest Finocchio confirmed some of MacKenzie’s fears, saying that the bank said it didn’t want the organization’s help. When he visited the site Tuesday, he said that at least some of the animals — eight horses and two 800-pound pigs — had not been given any water even though he had been told that they had.

The buckets next to each stall were still empty in mid-afternoon, and little pointers he had placed on the doors to show whether the stalls were opened were found to be undisturbed, he said. But the clearest sign that the horses had not been watered was when he took a five-gallon bucket and placed it in front of each horse.

Seven of the eight horses drank up the water with no hesitation, an indication to him that they had not been given any water in a long time. He and Joseph Warycha, RISPCA’s animal cruelty officer, gave each horse a bucket of water and some hay.

Great job on handling this, Wells Fargo. Whatever you're saving by not ensuring these animals are looked after isn't worth the public image fallout.

Glocester farmer, evicted in foreclosure, seeks to compel care for animals [Providence Journal]
(Thanks, Jon!)



普緹帶領的工作小組,在陶公府市區的TheImperial Narathiwat Hotel柜台旁,放置了2台檢驗脫氧核糖核酸(DNA)的機器,輔助軍警的保安檢查措施。
































挪威‧右手和平獎‧左手增兵阿富汗‧奧巴馬為戰爭辯護 Obama picks up Nobel Prize




















“就算我們面對一個無法無天的邪惡敵人,我仍相信美 國依然是指揮戰爭的領袖,這就是我們與我們打擊的那些勢力的區別。那是我們動力的泉源,因此我禁止虐待行為,因此我指示關閉關塔那摩灣監獄,因此我強調美 國恪守《日內瓦公約》的承諾。如果我們對一直以來全力捍衛的理想作出妥協,我們將失去自我。”














Just over a week after announcing an increase in U.S. troop strength for the war in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama picked up his Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday.

Following the awards ceremony in Oslo, Norway, Obama's acceptance speech touched on war and security.

Addressing the issue that the award may have come prematurely, Obama acknowledged that compared with past recipients — including Nelson Mandela, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Schweitzer — "my accomplishments are slight."

He also cited those who have been jailed in pursuit of justice, or those who work for humanitarian groups to relieve suffering.

"I cannot argue with those who find these men and women — some known, some obscure to all but those they help — to be far more deserving of this honour than I," Obama said.

He said the most profound issue over his receipt of the prize is that he is the commander-in-chief of the U.S. armed forces at a time his country is fighting two wars.

"And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict, filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace and our effort to replace one with the other."

While he acknowledged he holds his current position of president thanks to the civil rights work of past prize-winner King, who championed non-violence, Obama said he cannot be guided by that example alone.

"I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people," he said.

"For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism; it is a recognition of history, the imperfections of man and the limits of reason."

Last week, Obama laid out his plan to send 30,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan. He also said he would begin withdrawing troops from the country in 18 months.

Protesters have seized on the fact Obama is getting the peace prize during wartime, and they are planning an anti-war demonstration. Posters with the image of the U.S. president and the word "Change?" are up around Oslo.

Obama's trip to Europe will be brief, as he is due back in Washington, D.C., by midday Friday.




有網友發現, 雲頂賭場贏家排行榜上,大多數是新加坡人。






































































U.S. Foreclosures to Reach Record 3.9 Million in 2009 (Update1)

ec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Foreclosure filings in the U.S. will reach a record for the second consecutive year with 3.9 million notices sent to homeowners in default, RealtyTrac Inc. said.

This year’s filings will surpass 2008’s total of 3.2 million as record unemployment and price erosion batter the housing market, the Irvine, California-based company said.

“We are a long way from a recovery,” John Quigley, economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said in an interview. “You can’t start to see improvement in the housing market until after unemployment peaks.”

Foreclosure filings exceeded 300,000 for the ninth straight month in November, RealtyTrac said today. A weak labor market and tight credit are “formidable headwinds” for the economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said in a Dec. 7 speech in Washington. The 7.2 million jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007 are the most of any postwar economic slump, Labor Department data show. Unemployment, at 10 percent last month, won’t peak until the first quarter, Quigley said.

Through November, U.S. lenders had permanently modified about 31,000 of the 4 million mortgages targeted for relief by the Obama administration’s foreclosure prevention plan. That’s less than 5 percent of eligible loans, the Treasury Department said today.

Loan-modification programs and an expanded government tax credit for first-time homebuyers are helping slow the monthly pace of foreclosure filings and “keeping a lid” on further property seizures, James Saccacio, RealtyTrac’s chief executive officer, said in the statement.

November filings fell 15 percent from the July peak and dropped 8 percent from October, the seller of default data said. That was the fourth straight monthly drop.

Late Payments

A total of 306,627 properties received a default or auction notice or were seized by banks last month, or one in 417 U.S. households, and a similar number are expected for December, RealtyTrac said.

There have been 3.6 million filings from January through November, the most in RealtyTrac records dating to January 2005.

Three loans went bad for every one that improved in the first 10 months of this year, according to a Dec. 2 report from Lender Processing Services Inc.

The combined delinquency and foreclosure rate for all loans increased to 12.6 percent through October, the Jacksonville, Florida-based loan servicing and mortgage data company said.

Fewer than 1.5 million homeowners -- or less than half of those targeted -- were eligible as of last month for Obama’s Home Affordable Modification Program, Herb Allison, Treasury assistant secretary for financial stability, said in Dec. 8 congressional testimony. More than 697,000 trial modifications had been started through November, Treasury said today.

Loan Modifications Fail

“Federal programs have not been successful and have done little about declining asset values,” Quigley said. “The probability that a renegotiated mortgage goes into subsequent default is substantially high.”

Nevada had the highest foreclosure rate for the 35th consecutive month, with one in 119 households receiving a filing in November. Total filings dropped 33 percent from both a year earlier and the previous month, to 9,295.

Florida ranked second, with filings for one in every 165 households. California was third, at one in 180, RealtyTrac said.

Arizona, Idaho, Michigan, Illinois, Utah, Maryland and New Jersey rounded out the 10 highest foreclosure rates.

California had the most filings with 73,995, up 22 percent from a year earlier. Foreclosure notices in the most populous state have fallen on a monthly basis since peaking in July, according to RealtyTrac.

Florida had 52,935 filings, up 8 percent from November 2008 and 2 percent from the previous month.

State Data

Illinois was third with 16,422 filings, more than double a year earlier. They fell 18 percent from a record high in October.

Michigan ranked fourth with 15,988, up 10 percent from a year earlier. Arizona, Texas, Ohio, Georgia, Nevada and New Jersey completed the 10 states with the most filings, RealtyTrac said.

Filings rose 65 percent from a year earlier to 9,227 in New Jersey. They dropped 3.7 percent to 2,114 in Connecticut, and jumped 69 percent to 4,401 in New York.

Three California cities had the highest foreclosure rates among metropolitan areas with populations of 200,000 or more. Merced led, with one in every 83 households there getting a notice, five times the national average. Stockton was second at one in 85, and Modesto was third at one in 87.

Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida, was fourth with one in 96 households receiving a notice, and Las Vegas was fifth at one in 102, according to RealtyTrac.

Riverside-San Bernardino and Bakersfield, both in California, ranked sixth and seventh; Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida, was eighth; Vallejo-Fairfield, California, ranked ninth; and Sacramento came in 10th, said RealtyTrac, which sells default data collected from more than 2,200 counties representing 90 percent of the U.S. population.

Sound familiar? US refuses to allow UN inspectors to investigate its WMDs

The United States said Wednesday that it remained opposed to international inspections of biological weapon sites, even though it stressed its commitment to a UN treaty covering such arms and invaded Iraq in part over its alleged stalling of -- UN weapons inspectors.

"When it comes to the proliferation of bio weapons and the risk of an attack, the world community faces a greater threat," Ellen Tauscher, US Under Secretary of State on arms control and international security told state members of the Biological Weapons Convention.

"While the United States remains concerned about state-sponsored biological warfare and proliferation, we are equally, if not more concerned, about an act of bioterrorism, due to the increased access to advances in the life sciences," she added, stressing the importance of bolstering the treaty.

However, the new US administration is still against an additional protocol that would authorize international inspections of biological weapons sites.

"The Obama Administration will not seek to revive negotiations on a verification protocol to the Convention," said Tauscher.

Bombshell Poll on Climate Change – 77% don’t believe!

A nationally televised 'debate' on global warming followed by a viewers' poll has delivered a landslide result: 77% don't believe global warming is man made.

The debate featured yours truly, as author of Air Con, and multi-millionaire Gareth Morgan, who spent $500,000 on two teams of scientists to advise him about climate change, and then sided with the global warming believers in his book Poles Apart.

Although only a 10 minute segment on the top-rating 7pm Close Up show, in a format that didn't lend itself to explicit detail, nonetheless viewers picked up the main points.

Asked "Whose views on climate change do you believe?", an overwhelming 77% voted with the skeptic position, while only 23% believe global warming is human caused.

The number of votes received was not released, but similar viewer polls on the same programme in the past have attracted up to 20,000 responses, off an average audience of between 700,000 to 800,000 IIRC.

Tonight's result is a stunning indication – I believe – of the damage to the credibility of the climate science community caused by Climategate.

The poll illustrates that with nearly 90% of the population wired online now, mainstream media can no longer assume that just because they refuse to cover a story, nobody will hear about it.

UPDATE: now on Youtube (h/t Ropata)


Meanwhile, for those who haven't already seen it, here's part one of my own video take on climate;

Financial Reform Is Being Gutted ... And Congress Might Not Even Realize It

As I have repeatedly pointed out, proposed derivatives legislation will not make things better:

  • A leading credit default swap expert (Satyajit Das) says that the new credit default swap regulations not only won't help stabilize the economy, they might actually help to destabilize it.
  • Senator Cantwell says that the new derivatives legislation is weaker than current regulation

Now, Mike Konzkal points out that the new derivatives bill may be completed gutted, and that Congress might not even realize it:

Have lobbyists snuck another major loophole into the OTC Derivatives bill? This week the final touches are being put on Barney Frank’s financial regulation bill – H.R. 4173 - “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009.” One of the centerpieces of this reform is Title III: Over-the-Counter Derivatives Markets Act. And one of the goals of this reform would be to get as many derivatives as possible to trade on exchanges...

For a while, reformers have been worried about an “alternative swap execution facility.” This would be a way of essentially allowing the current way things are done to be allowed to count as an exchange. Fighting off this loophole was a battle from a month ago, and it had appeared to be won. Now many are worried that this language appears to have snuck back into the final bill now.

Colin Peterson (D-MN), Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, along with Barney Frank, has added an amendment to the OTC Bill (opens large pdf) ...

The definition of a swap execution facility has been expanded to include “a person” (different from the “or entity”). It’s also expanded to an “or trading” definition, and includes voice brokerage firms. So now we are moving from the definition of something that is a platform for swaps to be traded on to instead something that simply helps swaps get traded. This could, quite simply, be a telephone over which two people trade a derivative (with one person declaring himself to be the exchange?). Instead of changing the way business is done for reform it looks like it redefines reform as the way things are currently done...

[Another provision] here allows an intermediary to execute a swap, ignoring the section 2(k) which is the meat of the reform, as long as the swap is recorded somewhere. Now we already have, from above, that a swap execution facility can be something other than the exchange. This is a rule that guts the regulation right out the door, and for no apparent benefit to reform. Many of these alternative swap facilities will be owned by the banks, so it won’t necessarily force the price transparency that has been promised. To trust regulators to simply do the right thing is naive at best when the ability to follow fixed rules is available.

From what I’m hearing, it is possible Frank doesn’t even know that this language, once in the bill as an amendment but removed, has snuck back into his reform legislation. Things are moving very quickly on the hill right now, and this is scheduled to be wrapped up by tomorrow. However this new language runs counter to the reforms Frank has promised to deliver to the American people. Either this language needs to be clarified before the bill is complete, or removed entirely.

As Ryan Grim notes, many other aspects of the financial reform package - such as the Consumer Financial Protection Agency - are being gutted as well. He points out that the states' ability to rein in financial fraud is also under attack.

Congressional Quarterly summarizes the fight over consumer protection (subscription required):

House leaders are trying to settle a dispute between liberal and moderate Democrats that threatens to sideline, at least temporarily, a bill to overhaul regulation of the financial system.

The battle centers on two proposed amendments to the bill’s consumer protection provisions that moderate Democrats are demanding a vote on. Should those amendments not be made in order, members of the New Democrat and Blue Dog caucuses probably would vote against a rule to commence debate on the bill (HR 4173), a House aide said. That would in all likelihood quash the rule, given that Republicans are likely to oppose it unanimously.

But liberal Democrats are staunchly opposed to the amendments, and have threatened to abandon the bill if at least one of them is adopted. But the liberals also fear they do not have the votes to kill either amendment.

One amendment would allow federal regulators to preempt state financial laws and the other essentially would scrap the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

“We still have some details to hammer out,” said Michael E. McMahon, D-N.Y., a New Democrat who has played a prominent role in the caucus negotiations over the final regulatory overhaul bill.

The amendment that would give the federal government the ability preempt state laws on financial protection issues is being offered by Melissa Bean of Illinois, a New Democrat. Supporters argue that, without it, financial companies would face a patchwork of state and federal regulations.

The other amendment, to replace the proposed consumer agency with a council of regulators that would oversee consumer protections for financial products, was offered by Idaho Democrat Walt Minnick, a Blue Dog.

The financial industry staunchly opposes creation of the agency, saying it will squelch innovation. The Chamber of Commerce is “whipping the vote hard” on the Minnick amendment, a House aide said.

Investment analyst and financial writer Yves Smith exhorts her readers to call Congress today to fight back against the lobbyists:

OK, sports fans, I know politics sucks, but it takes VERY LITTLE time to call or e-mail your representative to give him or her a piece of your mind. If you are not trying to be part of the solution, you are part of the problem. And if you can take a few minutes to call, be sure to call an in-state office, not the DC office. One big issue is a late addition to the House financial reform bill which would further crimp state’s rights (and recall it was the states, that led the charge on dot-com abuses, auction rate securities, and now on alleged rating agency fraud. This is an effort to gut the last channel willing to take on the banksters). Even Reuters is putting the state of play in unusually stark terms:

An army of lobbyists from banks and Wall Street have worked for months to block, water down and delay the bill, which would threaten the profits of many financial services firms.

Of course, the giant banks and their boosters in Congress are also close to making the bailouts permanent.

A summary of all proposed amendments to the financial reform bill has been put together by the Committee on Rules.

The 242-page "manager’s amendment" - a kitchen-sink amendment that pulls in all the last minute deals (so you can actually see handwriting on the PDF) is where you can see a lot of important policy changes.

The Decline : The Geography of a recession

Now available on YouTube. Click here.

108-year-old Editor & Publisher going out of business

A going concern since 1901, Editor & Publisher -- "America's Oldest Journal Covering the Newspaper Industry" -- is going away at a time when that industry continues to get smaller by the day.

From a memo issued this morning by the publication's owner, Nielsen Business Media:

We've made the decision to cease operations for Editor & Publisher and Kirkus Reviews.

This move will allow us to strengthen investment in our core businesses - those parts of our portfolio that have the greatest potential for growth - and ensure our long-term success.

As I type, the news has yet to appear on the E & P Web site, although the causes can be seen throughout the all-too-familiar headlines there -- "Tampa Editor, Now Exiting, Had Stayed On To Help Amid Staff Cuts;" "Guild Unit Chair Among 'New York Times' Buyout Takers;" -- as well as others that show a defiant if less than plausible optimism: "Gannett: Readership, Revenue 'Bouncing Back';" "Tampa Tribune' Parent Sees Ad Spending 'Firming."

Or, as a Talking Points Memo reader reacting to the E&P news puts it: "Everybody loves to read it; no one wants to pay for it."

Having spent more than 20 years in the newspaper industry before joining Network World, it pains me enormously to see what is happening to the institution of print journalism, and now, to the long-time chronicler of that institution.

Those media bashers who gloat over these losses are sadly misinformed, and, in some cases, cruelly oblivious to the pain being suffered by journalists and their families.

Those who believe these losses won't matter are simply wrong.

(Update: The E&P site has now reported its own demise, ironically enough, complete with a typo: "Editor & Publisher, the bible of the newspaper industry and a journalism instutution that traces its origins back to 1884, is shutting down, following an announcement by parent company The Nielsen Co. - December 10, 2009 12:13 PM ET.)

(Update 2: This is from E&P's own story about its closing and hints at a glimmer of hope: "The expressions of surprise and outpouring of strong support for E&P that has followed across the Web -- Editor & Publisher has even hit No. 4 as a Twitter trending topic -- raises the notion that the publication might yet continue in some form.")

Welcome regulars and passersby. Here are a few more recent Buzzblog items. And, if you'd like to receive Buzzblog via e-mail newsletter, here's where to sign up.

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Sockeye decline linked to climate change

Change in ocean conditions in 2007 likely behind mass death of stocks

Food-poor ocean waters warmed by climate change likely played a significant role in the death of millions of sockeye salmon in British Columbia's Fraser River ahead of what was supposed to be a bumper year, says a scientific think-tank.

A group of more than 20 ocean and ecology experts gathered in Vancouver this week to discuss possible explanations for this year's salmon collapse and announced their assessment Wednesday, saying they want to keep the issue afloat with a judicial inquiry approaching.

Last month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed a B.C. Supreme Court judge to probe the collapse of the stocks, but the scientists say there's much work that can be done in the meantime.

The group recommended improved forecasting, more ocean-based marine research and a more precautionary approach to fisheries management.

"It's really important that we don't just sit back and do nothing for 18 months while the inquiry is unfolding," said Mark Angelo, chair of the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council.

Fish likely died young

The federal Fisheries Department had estimated more than 10 million sockeye would return to the Fraser River this year, but only about one million showed up.

That huge shortfall forced the closure of commercial fisheries along the Fraser, as well as aboriginal food fisheries for First Nations in the area.

Sockeye is the most sought-after and high-priced type of salmon.

Using their combined expertise and as much official data they could gather, the scientists concluded the missing sockeye likely vanished when they were still young and migrating toward the sea.

They suggested that in either late spring or early summer of 2007, ocean conditions probably hurt the fish's chances of survival.

"If you're looking at warmer temperatures and a lack of food, that could well be a cause of mortality for large numbers of fish," Angelo said.

However, the group didn't rule out other factors, including pollution and lice from fish farms.

John Reynolds, a researcher at Simon Fraser University who was also part of the group, noted that sockeye stocks are showing a long-term decline and any research on the species must keep that in mind

"This is now the way that things may well be for the future, especially under the predictions we have for climate change," said Reynolds, who holds the Tom Buell chair in salmon conservation.

Decline could be long term

"A lot of the problems that these fish had been experiencing in the past are probably going to get worse rather than better. We're hopeful that won't be the case and we're trying to do everything we can now to give these fish a chance."

The group said the methods used to regularly monitor the stocks should be tailored to the Fraser River sockeye — as opposed to the broader guidelines that also apply to other fish.

No one from the Fisheries Department attended the scientists' gathering, citing the ongoing inquiry. However, Angelo said a representative from the inquiry itself was there.

Despite the long-term decline of the sockeye population, Angelo said it's important not to give up.

"We may not return to the boom times in terms of runs that we saw a few decades ago," he said. "But, that said, our hope is that certainly we can continue to sustain a significant amount of fish within the Fraser system."

US expands unlawful drone war in Pakistan; violates letter, spirit of all US, UN war laws

The US is at unlawful war with Pakistan, having bombed over 50 sites and killing over 400. the Pakistan government rejects this violation of their nation, but just as the US has no respect for the laws limiting war to a narrow definition of self-defense in Afghanistan, Iraq, rhetoric for more war with Iran, and torture, they have no respect for peace in Pakistan.

Americans receive propaganda in support of US government murder and Crimes Against Peace, such as in this piece from the NY Times that say whatever BS seems most palatable without mentioning US and international law. Other propaganda encourage escalation of this unlawful war. President Obama’s escalation of the unlawful war in Afghanistan will concentrate troops on Pakistan’s border.
Our Founding Fathers warned Americans as stringently as is possible to write that encroachment of law becomes tyranny. Our long-term tax cost for these wars is over $3 trillion, with the US responsible for over a million deaths (and multiples of that number living in such misery and sadness they wish for death).
The war in Pakistan may also have nasty Black Operations attached to it, without oversight, that might include attacks in Pakistan blamed on “terrorists” (and here) to capitulate the government as its objective. The US has a history of overthrowing governments when resources are at stake, such as CIA Operation Ajax that overthrew Iran’s democracy in 1953 when they tried to negotiate oil profits. That coup kept Iran under a US-friendly dictator until 1979. The US followed this "defeat of control" by sponsoring an invasion of Iran from 1980-1988.
So what should we do?
Gandhi and Martin Luther King advocated public understanding of the facts and non-cooperation with evil. I’m among hundreds who advocate:
  1. Understand the laws of war. These were legislated after WW2 and are crystal-clear that only self-defense, in a narrow legal meaning, can justify war. This investment of your time takes less than an hour and empowers you to legally stand for ending these Wars of Aggression.
  2. Refuse and end all orders and acts associated with these unlawful wars. Those involved with US military, government, and law enforcement have an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution. Unlawful acts only move forward with sufficient cooperation and public tolerance. Stop cooperating with the most vicious crime a nation can commit: war. Stop tolerating it.
  3. Prosecute the war leaders for obvious violation of the letter and spirit of US war laws. You can only understand how these wars are specifically unlawful by investing the time to do so. Because the crimes are so broad and deep, I recommend Truth and Reconciliation (T&R) to exchange full truth and return of stolen US assets for non-prosecution. This is the most expeditious way to understand and end all unlawful and harmful acts. Those who reject T&R either by volunteering their name and/or responding when named are subject to prosecution after the window of T&R closes.
Following is the 10-mnute video from PuppetGov: Obama and the War Criminals. It's outstanding; please share it.
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