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Michele Bachmann is Cens(us)less

Friday, July 03, 2009

By Jay Newton-Small
Swampland at

The constitution doesn't require much participation from the American people. It protects their rights -- free speech, to bear arms, a fair trial, etc – but it doesn't even make voting mandatory. The one action it does require is for citizens to stand up and get counted, which is why every 10 years the census bureau floods the postal system with millions of forms and deploys an army of counters.

However seemingly straight forward, the census has always been a political animal. Congressional districts live and die off of its results and control of the counting is a much guarded power – witness the concern when President Obama named Republican Senator Judd Gregg to head the Commerce Department, home of the Census Bureau. Still, lawmakers, servants of the constitution, are usually known to uphold its much revered instructions. Not this year.
Two-term Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota is refusing to fully fill out her census form in protest that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a housing rights group known as ACORN, has been approved as one of 30,000 partners to help conduct the counting. Conservatives such as Bachmann say the group is overtly partisan and pushes the liberal agenda.

“There's great concern that's being raised because now ACORN has been named as one of the federal partners,” Bachmann told the Washington Times last month. “This is very concerning because the motherload of all data comes from the census.” Bachmann said she would fill out only the number of people in her household, but “we won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that.” She risks a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $5,000 for refusing to answer census questions....(Remainder.)


Racist and Dumb as a Sack of Hammers, Sen. Sessions (R-KKK) Claims Sotomayor Tied to "Extreme" Group

By Julie Hirschfeld Davis
Associate Press via The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — The top Republican on the Senate committee that will consider Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination says a Puerto Rican civil rights group's papers could shed light on her judicial approach, particularly her view of racial preferences in hiring.

White House Counsel Greg Craig, however, told Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., in a letter that board meeting minutes and other papers detailing the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund's activities while Sotomayor was an outside adviser shouldn't impact her nomination because she had no role in writing or approving them.

"During her time there, the organization took extreme positions on legal issues ranging from the death penalty to abortion to racial quotas," Sessions said in a statement. He said it was "absurd" for the White House to call the documents irrelevant.

The battle over the papers isn't likely to damage Sotomayor's chances of confirmation, since Democrats have more than enough votes in favor of President Barack Obama's first high court nominee, and Republicans have shown little appetite for trying to block her.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will begin confirmation hearings July 13, shrugged off the GOP concerns being raised about Sotomayor, saying some in the GOP were going to oppose any Obama pick _ "even if the president had nominated Moses."...(Remainder.)


I Am an American Progressive

By Nancy Cronk
Square State

I am an American Progressive.

I am a woman. I am a man. I am a child.

I believe in equality for all. I defend a woman's right to make decisions about her own body. I fight for a child's right to be protected, educated, nurtured and loved. I fight for a man's right to be home with his children after their birth, and to take time off work for his kids to raise them, if he wants to do that. I fight for each family to form itself based on love and commitment.

I am young, and I am old.

I fight for the young to be given a chance to make it in this world, not saddled by the debts of previous generations. I fight for the old to be respected, cherished, and cared for, until their very last breath on this Earth.

I am Christian. I am Muslim. I am Hindu, Jewish, Unitarian, Buddhist and Atheist. I have my own unique faith that is entirely personal. I am spiritual and I am inter-spiritual, and sometimes, I just don't know.

I am my brother's keeper, and my sister's too.  And they are mine.

I believe in a Higher Power. I call the source of creation G-d, Hashem, or Allah, or by one of many other names. I believe in the power of people working together. I believe in Science, and the wondrous miracles of nature. I work to protect the rights of my neighbors who do not share my faith to worship as they wish, or not at all, as long as I am allowed to do the same. I believe there is more than one path to being the best person each of us can be. I am not threatened by the faith practices of others. I believe in the principles of the founding Fathers, as articulated by Thomas Jefferson. There shall always be a separation of church and state.

I am gay, I am straight, I am bisexual and I am transgender.

I fight for the rights of each American to be the person they are, expressing their beauty and individuality in a way that makes them happy. I believe each person has a right to choose the person they love, and to live with that person, sanctified by the religion of their choice, or not at all. I believe people who love each other have the right to define their family as they choose, and may include their beloved partners in their wills. I believe people in hospitals should be surrounded by their loved ones, whether those loved ones are legally "approved" or not....(Remainder.)


The Age of Paine

By Scott Tucker

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again,” wrote Thomas Paine in “Common Sense,” the revolutionary pamphlet published in January 1776. Ronald Reagan quoted those words on July 17, 1980, when he addressed the Republican National Convention and accepted his party’s presidential nomination. Reagan led a coalition of corporate oligarchs, imperial crusaders and Christian fundamentalists to power, and to this day Reaganism remains the official gospel of the old guard in the Republican Party. The republican and social democratic ideals of Paine are long lost to many modern partisan Republicans and Democrats, but many memorable phrases of Paine still fill the mouths of career politicians.

When the Iraq war, a broken health care system and a plunging economy gave the Democratic Party a political advantage, Barack Obama raised hopes and promised change. When Obama gave his inaugural address on Jan. 20, 2009, he too quoted Paine, this time from the first of 13 articles collected in “The American Crisis”—an article Gen. Washington ordered read to his troops before crossing the Delaware River on Christmas 1776 to fight the Hessian mercenaries of King George III: “Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive … that the city and country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it.” Reagan and Obama each lifted some good lines from Paine for their own rhetorical purposes; but each likewise cared more for stagecraft than for the original script.

Thomas Paine was born Jan. 29, 1737, in Thetford, England, and died on June 8, 1809, in Greenwich Village, New York. He was an active participant in the American and French revolutions, and once said to George Washington, “a share in two revolutions is living to some purpose.” Through his writings he also left a lasting legacy in the British working-class movement. During his life, his books and pamphlets became instant best-sellers, since he was a pioneer in addressing a wide public in plain language. He is, in fact, sometimes described as a “pamphleteer,” and it is true that even his books are written in the style of pamphlets writ large. This is entirely to his credit. In 1943, Orwell wrote a short piece titled “Pamphlet Literature,” and claimed “that the pamphlet ought to be the literary form of an age like our own. We live in a time when political passions run high, channels of free expression are dwindling, and organized lying exists on a scale never before known. For plugging the holes in history the pamphlet is the ideal form.” In the age of Murdoch and Berlusconi, the traditional print and broadcast media often serve as megaphones of phony populism. Nor does organized lying cease to exist simply because the Internet carries a cacophony of voices. In this sense, “plugging the holes in history” is still the aim of political writers, and Paine is still good for morale and instruction....(Remainder.)


White Supremacists See Conservative Teabagging Parties as Recruitment Opportunity

By John Aravosis

It ought to give conservatives pause when their only usefulness in politics is serving as a recruiting opportunity for white supremciasts. From the Anti-Defamation League.
White supremacists and neo-Nazi hate groups plan to take advantage of the anti-tax “Tea Parties” set to occur in more than 1,000 cities and localities over the July 4 holiday weekend to disseminate racist fliers and other materials and attempt to recruit others to their cause, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

ADL’s Center on Extremism, which monitors extremist groups and provides information to law enforcement and the public, has released information on its Web site describing the attempt by white supremacists to co-opt the anti-tax message of the events as a means to spread racism and anti-Semitism.

On Stormfront, the most popular white supremacist Internet forum, members have discussed becoming local organizers of the “Tea Parties” and finding ways to involve themselves in the events. Many racists have voiced their intent to attend these rallies for the purpose of cultivating an “organized grassroots White mass movement,” with some suggesting that they would do so without openly identifying themselves as racists.


Bernie Sanders: The Democrats Need to Commit to Stopping a Filibuster on Health Care Reform

By Heather

Crooks and Liars

David Shuster talks to Sen. Bernie Sanders about his demand that the Democrats in the Senate commit to stopping a filibuster on health care reform. Sanders reiterated his earlier statements as reported by Sam Stein at the HuffPo:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), called on the White House and Democratic leadership in Congress to ensure that party members agree unanimously to support cloture on legislation that would revamp the nation's health care system. Democratic senators on the fence, he added, could still oppose the bill. But at the very least they should be required to let the legislation come to an up-or-down vote.

"I think that with Al Franken coming on board, you have effectively 60 Democrats in the caucus, 58 and two Independents," Sanders said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "I think the strategy should be to say, it doesn't take 60 votes to pass a piece of legislation. It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster. I think the strategy should be that every Democrat, no matter whether or not they ultimately end up voting for the final bill, is to say we are going to vote together to stop a Republican filibuster. And if somebody who votes for that ends up saying, 'I'm not gonna vote for this bill, it's too radical, blah, blah, blah, that's fine.'"

"I think the idea of going to conservative Republicans, who are essentially representing the insurance companies and the drug companies, and watering down this bill substantially, rather than demanding we get 60 votes to stop the filibuster, I think that is a very wrong political strategy," Sanders added.
If we only had a few more Bernie Sanders in the Senate, the United States would be a better place to live in. I hope he keeps the pressure on the Democrats to do the right thing....(Original.)


Sean Hannity Goes Daffy Duck on President Obama

By John Amato

Crooks and Liars

Sean Hannity usually just smears President Obama for the things that he says and the policies he puts forth, but on this segment he actually attacks him because someone in the audience had a quacking duck ring tone.

Hannity must feel threatened by the insane ramblings of Glenn Beck because in this segment it's quite apparent that Hannity is just "Daffy." FOX really has gone hog wild off the wall since Obama took office. Sure, their ratings are going up but that's because they want to attract the crazy people demographic. Hey, and it's working....(Original.)


Bomb-Detection CEO Named New DARPA Boss

By Noah Schachtman
Danger Room @

Mechanical engineer and defense entrepreneur Regina Dugan has been named the new director of Darpa, the Pentagon’s premier research arm.

Dugan will now be in charge of more than $3.2 billion of high-risk science and technology projects — everything from thinking computers to shape-shifting machines to soldier telepathy.

“Regina Dugan is precisely the dynamic leader Darpa needs to open new technology frontiers and transition revolutionary technologies to serve our nation’s interests,” Zachary Lemnios, director of Defense Research and Engineering, says in a statement.

Back in mid-May, first reported that Dugan was the likely pick for the position, beating out more-experienced candidates like former Darpa No. 2 Dr. Jane “Xan” Alexander and agency Defense Sciences Office chief Dr. Michael Goldblatt.

After getting her Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology, Dugan (pictured, center) worked as researcher at the Institute for Defense Analyses from 1993 to 1996. She then spent four years as a program manager at Darpa’s Defense Science Office during the ’90s. There, she led the “Dog’s Nose” mine-detection effort — and shepherded research into swarms of tiny robots, inspired by “rats and locusts.” She then went on to run a high-tech investment firm. In 2001, she formed RedX, a company which builds security gear, including an explosives detector that relies on fluorescent ink....(Remainder.)


Behind the Scenes: President Obama and Disney's Hall of Presidents


Jobs and Energy Innovation

By Katherine Brandon
The White House

The President met with a group of innovative energy leaders today to discuss job creation and long-term plans for strengthening the industry which will play a key role in America’s economic future. CEOs from both small and large energy companies shared their own ideas about how to increase productivity through innovation and technology. Finding new ways of producing, saving, and distributing energy is not only good for our energy independence, but also presents opportunities to create millions of jobs for Americans.

In his remarks, the President explained that energy is one of the main pillars in our new economic foundation, which is why the administration has put it at the forefront of the recovery effort:
I'm pleased to say that we've achieved more in the past few months to create a new clean energy economy than we had achieved in many decades before.  The recovery plan will double our country's supply of renewable energy, and is already creating new clean energy jobs.  Thanks to a remarkable partnership between automakers, autoworkers, environmental advocates, and states, we also set in motion a new national policy to increase gas mileage and decrease carbon pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in this country, which is going to save us 1.8 billion barrels of oil.

And last Friday, the House of Representatives passed an extraordinary piece of legislation that would make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy in America.  It will reduce our dependence on foreign oil.  It will prevent the worst consequences of climate change.  And above all, it holds the promise of millions of new jobs -- jobs, by the way, that can't be outsourced....



How David Neiwert Helped Drive Sarah Palin Crazy by Digging into Her Past

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

My first week on the job here at Crooks and Liars, I went on CNN Newsroom with Rick Sanchez to talk about an investigative piece co-written with Max Blumenthal about Sarah Palin's longtime dalliances with Alaska's far-right elements, particularly the secessionist Alaska Independence Party.

At the time, the McCain campaign blew us off publicly. And unfortunately, none of our colleagues in other media settings picked up on the story and asked further questions about the issues it raised -- particularly at a time when the McCain campaign was busy accusing Barack Obama of "palling around" with "terrorists" and extremists.

Now, it turns out that my short appearance on TV threw Sarah Palin into a tizzy and provoked a quarrel with Steve Schmidt of the McCain campaign. This from a CBS story by Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe:
Internal campaign e-mails exchanged three weeks before Election Day offer a rare look at just how frustrated then Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin had become with the manner in which top McCain campaign aides were handling her candidacy. The e-mails, obtained exclusively, also highlight the power struggle and thinly veiled acrimony that pervaded the relationship between Palin and the campaign's chief strategist, Steve Schmidt.

The episode in question began when an investigative report published on the left-leaning Web site raised questions about Palin's relationship with members of the Alaska Independence Party (AIP) when she was mayor of Wasilla. The AIP's platform calls for a vote giving Alaskans the option to secede from the United States. It had already been widely known that Todd Palin was a registered member of the AIP from 1995 to 2002 and that Governor Palin had taped a recorded greeting at the party's 2008 convention....


Family Values? Red States Lead in Divorce, Teen Pregnancy and Online Porn

By Lisa Derrick
La Figa

There's been a heap in the news about family values and the GOP. From the New York Times to, the"values" of the Right are called on the carpet (which has some pretty nasty stains). Over at Oxdown, TobyWollin sums it up nicely:
Sorry, guys - in all these cases, we had elected officials who behaved in this way for a very long time and turned what should have been private/personal activities into public issues - AND it might not have been 'reflective OF' the GOP but it sure as hell has 'reflected ON" the party.

And one of the biggest reflections is that you guys are more than enthusiastic about wrapping yourselves in that ‘family values and purity’ flag – but you never, ever are willing to clean your own house or police your own. You are more than ready to dump truckloads of shit on Democrats for their personal peccadilloes – you are more than enthused to go after (and perhaps even aid and abet entrapment – I’m talking to you Roger Stone and Maurice Greenberg vis a vis Elliot Spitzer) anyone who does not agree with you.

What is astounding is the New York Times chart which takes politicians out of the mix and breaks it down into the values that the Right espouses: Anti-divorce, anti-porn and anti-teen sex. Well gosh, even with my admittedly and embarrassingly bad math skills, it's clear that eight out of the ten states with highest rates in the categories of divorce, teen pregnancy and online porn usage were states where McCain came out ahead in the 2008 election.

Obviously an America with "traditional family values" is a Utopian ideal for some, but one which their party can't create or enforce--especially when the party has leaders who are just as human as their constituents. Maybe it's time to take "morality" out of the electoral equation and focus on the Utopian ideals of affordable health care, equal rights,  sex education and realistic pregnancy prevention,  living wages, and our Constitution....(Original.)


The Bible's Odd Idea of Marriage

Editor’s Note: In the battle over gay marriage, opponents often describe marriage as “a sacred institution” with the religious implication that one must follow God’s dictates as expressed in the Bible or some other holy book.

But the Bible has some odd ideas about how marriage should work – including a requirement that a dead man’s brother must procreate with the widow (if there was no son) or face having a sandal removed – as Baptist minister Howard Bess recalls:

“Marriage is a cultural thing.” So began a very good sermon that I recently heard by the Rev. Diane O’Connell at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Anchorage, Alaska.

By The Rev. Howard Bess
Consortium News

My mind was set in rapid motion as I considered the raging arguments that are now taking place all over the country. What is marriage? How should we codify marriage in the laws of our land?

The discussions become very sticky when our gay friends enter the debate and ask for equal treatment under the law. The exchanges become very heated when a participant demands that we turn to the Bible for answers that will once and for all settle the issues.

Many well-meaning people want us to set aside the reality that the United States was built on a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution with a Bill of Rights. On the issue of marriage the Bible, so they say, should be our ultimate authority.

I remain unmoved from my historic Baptist roots, and I too give a special place to the messages that are found in the Bible. When I feel it is appropriate, I do not hesitate to quote generously from the Bible writings.

I treasure the contents of the Bible and honor those who authored its words. The writers were special people and typically wrote in difficult times that required strong opinions and vigorous debate. The wisdom found in the Bible has been fundamental in the development of western culture.

When vigorous debate develops in the public square, it is foolish to reject or ridicule the wisdom and teachings that are found in the Bible....(Remainder.)


McCain Suddenly Loves Iranians, After Promising to Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran

By Meg
Buzz Flash

John McCain

Welcome back to the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week.

We know what you're thinking. McCain again? We wanted to give the guy a break, since he won our GOP Hypocrite Award an impressive eight times in 2008 alone. But here at BuzzFlash, we call 'em like we see 'em, and we can't close our eyes to Sen. John McCain's hypocrisy.

McCain has been wasting all his available breath lately arguing that the U.S. needs to be on the "right side of history" on Iran, without taking note of what side he's been on in the long history of U.S.-Iranian relations. After it became clear that the recent presidential elections in Iran were fraudulent, McCain suggested that President Obama be more forceful in his condemnation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and align the U.S. with the protesters in Tehran.

But anyone with a mere cursory understanding of U.S.-Iranian relations could tell you that is selfish posturing. Ahmadinejad wouldn't waste a minute in using Obama's words against the protesters, labeling the movement as a foreign incursion from the devilish America. As BuzzFlash editor Mark Karlin wrote, Obama is between the Shah and a hard place.

After insisting that "we must be a symbol of hope for the Iranian people" and getting all weepy on the Senate floor about the murdered Iranian protester called Neda, it's understandable that one might forget about McCain's more distant comments about the people of Iran.

Allow us to remind you of a couple of them. He's repeatedly argued that we bomb the nation back to the Stone Age. He's suggested that our exportation of cigarettes to Iran could develop into a useful tool for killing off the population there.

Now McCain wants Iranians to rise up against their oppressors. Maybe he hopes the Iranian government will crack down even harder than they've already done?

Now, we're not the only ones to point out how terrible it would be for the Iranians on the street if Obama did what McCain is calling for him to do....(Remainder.)


VA TV Station Won't Air GOP Ad Against Dem. Congressman Who Voted for Energy Bill

By Joe Sudbay

Remember last week how House GOP leader John Boehner had a tantrum during the debate on the energy bill, trying to filibuster the legislation? Well, that bill has sent the GOP over the deep end. The House Republican's political arm planned to run ads against Democrats who voted for the bill (although eight Republicans voted for it, too). But, an ad set to run against freshmen Tom Perriello (D-VA) was refused by a Roanoke, VA TV station:
Congressional Republicans were dealt a setback Thursday in their attempt to punish Democrats in swing districts for voting for climate change legislation in the House last week.

WDBJ-TV, a Roanoke television station, will not air a National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) ad attacking freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.), citing factual inaccuracies, according to Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee communications director Jen Crider. A source familiar with the station's decision confirmed Crider's account; WDBJ general manager Jeff Marks confirmed that the ad would not run, but declined to say why.

"The ad is not running, be we have not characterized why that is," said Marks. "We don't characterize why an ad is not running. We looked into the complaints [from national Democrats], but other than saying that, you really need to find out from the NRCC."

And, as this Huffington Post article noted,
the nonpartisan organization called the ad "wrong."
Everything the GOP does these days is wrong....(Original.)


Helen Thomas Hits White House for Lack of Transparency

By David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
The Raw Story

At the White House presser on Wednesday, several correspondents questioned the way the Oval Office selected questions from the public for today’s virtual town hall.

President Barack Obama answered pre-selected questions Wednesday afternoon about health care sent in from emails, Facebook and Twitter. CBS’ Chip Reid and columnist Helen Thomas thought this reflected a lack of transparency at the White House.

“It feels like the concept of a town hall, I think, is to have an open public forum. And this sounds like a very tightly controlled audience and list of questions. Why do it that way?” asked Reid.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs deflected the question, but that only raised the ire of Helen Thomas, UPI’s veteran correspondent who has long been at the top of the White House press corps totem pole.

“We have never had that in the White House,” Thomas said, referring to the degree that press events are pre-scripted in the Obama administration. “I’m amazed, I’m amazed at you people who called for openness and transparency…”

That’s when things got testy, and Gibbs looked very uncomfortable as Reid and Thomas took turns attacking his evasive answers....(Remainder.)


Amnesty Details Gaza 'War Crimes'

By BBC News

Israel committed war crimes and carried out reckless attacks and acts of wanton destruction in its Gaza offensive, an independent human rights report says.

Hundreds of Palestinian civilians were killed using high-precision weapons, while others were shot at close range, the group Amnesty International says.

Its report also calls rocket attacks by Palestinian militants war crimes and accuses Hamas of endangering civilians.

The Israeli military says its conduct was in line with international law.

Israel has attributed some civilian deaths to "professional mistakes", but has dismissed wider criticism that its attacks were indiscriminate and disproportionate.

Amnesty says some 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the 22-day Israeli offensive between 27 December 2008 and 17 January 2009, which agrees broadly with Palestinian figures.

More than 900 of these were civilians, including 300 children and 115 women, it says.

In March, Israel's military said the overall Palestinian death toll was 1,166, of whom 295 were "uninvolved" civilians.


The 117-page report by Amnesty International says many of the hundreds of civilian deaths in the conflict "cannot simply be dismissed as 'collateral damage' incidental to otherwise lawful attacks - or as mistakes".

It says "disturbing questions" remain unanswered as to why children playing on roofs and medical staff attending the wounded were killed by "highly accurate missiles" whose operators had detailed views of their targets....(Remainder.)


Why Some Civil Libertarians Support an Executive Order on Preventive Detention

By Daphne Eviatar
The Washington Independent

So just who are those “civil liberties groups” that have encouraged the Obama administration to issue an executive order creating a system of prolonged preventive detention?

As Spencer wrote today, someone in the administration told ProPublica’s Dafna Linzner and The Washington Post’s Peter Finn that yes, civil liberties groups support the idea of an order that “would embrace claims by former President George W. Bush that certain people can be detained without trial for long periods under the laws of war.” That statement amazed the civil liberties groups that Spencer then spoke to. I’ve gotten similar reactions from civil liberties lawyers I’ve been speaking to since Friday as well.

But it turns out that there are some progressives, and some who’d even traditionally be called civil libertarians — though not representatives of the traditional civil liberties groups Spencer and I have spoken to — who have been floating the idea, but in a more limited way than the Post story suggested.

Specifically, a group of prominent military and criminal defense lawyers and academics on June 8 sent President Obama a letter urging him not to create a new system of preventive detention, but instead, to rely on the one we already have — with modifications, if necessary. Although they don’t specifically recommend an executive order, that’s the logical way for the administration to modify and clarify its authority.

“Our country can achieve its legitimate goals through existing laws which authorize the detention of those who should be detained in the fight against international terrorism,” says the letter, which I received just this afternoon. It’s signed by 11 prominent lawyers, including Retired Rear Admirals Donald Guter and John Hutson of the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps; Abner Mikva, a former federal appellate court judge, University of Chicago law professor, White House counsel under President Bill Clinton and a mentor to president Obama; and Thomas Wilner, a prominent corporate defense lawyer who’s represented Guantanamo detainees in some of the landmark cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court....(Remainder.)


Obama Seems to Rule Out Executive Order on Indefinite Detentions

By Dafna Linzer

President Obama appeared to rule out issuing an executive order to establish indefinite detention Thursday, nearly a week after White House officials first acknowledged that it was an option.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Obama said that if he goes ahead with indefinite detentions for terrorism suspects that he would ask Congress to approve it by law.

"It is very important that the American people and Congress, in conjunction with my administration, come up with a structure that is not only legitimate in the eyes of our constitutional traditions, but also in the eyes of the international community," he said, according to the AP.

Last Friday, ProPublica and the Washington Post wrote that the White House, facing difficulties in Congress over the closure of the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay were considering an executive order to hold suspects that may be too dangerous to release and too difficult to charge, according to three government officials.

Other news organizations, including the New York Times, also reported that an executive order was under consideration. Administration officials told the Times that working with Congress did not necessarily mean passing legislation. Mr. Obama, they said, would consult with lawmakers even if he eventually decided to enact his system through executive order.

Several Congressional staff, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, told us that administration lawyers in recent weeks acknowledged in private discussions that they were considering an executive order.

In response to our previous story, Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman, acknowledged that an executive order was an option but said no decision had been made and that the president was waiting to see recommendations from a Justice Department Task Force studying detention policy. The task force has until July 22 to offer proposals....(Remainder.)


Despite U.S. Tactical Shifts in Afghanistan, Taliban Terror Continues

By Philip Smucker
McClatchy Newspapers

 SHARANA, Afghanistan — 1st Lt. Chip Heidt, his wire spectacles sliding down his wet nose in the hot midday sun, was walking with a purpose amid a stretch of the 20-foot-high mud walls in this Afghan town opposite Pakistan's lawless Waziristan tribal area. Heidt, 25, a scion of the Scripps newspaper family in Cincinnati, was on a foot patrol to gather local intelligence.

A man in a large beret waved him over and asked, "What will be the sign between us when the Taliban attack us here?" Heidt didn't have a ready answer. He had a question of his own, however, about the rumor that Taliban insurgents had beheaded an Afghan amid the scrub brush down the road. He asked the man to follow him back to the military base a mile away for a chat and a cup of tea.

The Taliban are aware of such foot patrols and try to work around them. They've learned to calibrate the movement of NATO forces, and have mounted a campaign of intimidation to expand their grip on villages and towns across the country. Using terrorism tactics, the widely unpopular guerrilla movement has built up its presence in the countryside, which NATO wants to help hand back to Afghans.

They're a far cry from the Pashtun guerrillas who seized power in 1996. Back then, they were the rescuers who arrived on a wave of popular support and provided security from the raging chaos and horror sown by warlords. Now the Taliban are the sowers of chaos and insecurity as they seek to undermine the Afghan government and dodge attacks from the world's most advanced military....(Remainder.)


China Looks to Undermine U.S. Power, With 'Assassin's Mace'

By David Hambling
Danger Room @

Could China wipe out an American military advantage with a simple black box? Joshua Cooper Ramo’s thought-provoking book The Age of the Unthinkable challenges all kinds of conventional thinking about everything from venture capital to military strategy. One section caught my eye in particular, about how the Chinese might neutralize American air superiority, using a type of weapon known an “Assassin’s Mace.” The specific device in question is an unassuming little case; how worried should we be?

U.S. airpower depends on the ability to overcome surface-to-air missile (SAM) defenses, and one of the key weapons for this role is the AGM-88 High Speed Anti-radiation Missile (HARM), which homes in on radar emissions. (You can see them, under the F/A-18’s wings in the picture, above.) The defenders can either turn off their radar, thus blinding themselves, or have it destroyed. This is where the black box that Ramo found at a military trade show in Zhuhai in 2002 comes in:
“…packed inside were several thousand microtransmitters and when you plugged the device in and turned it on, it broadcast signals - 10,000 of them - on the frequency of a SAM site. From the perspective of an American pilot - or , more precisely, the perspective of his HARM missile looking for a ‘lock’ on a SAM radar signal - this meant an air-to-ground picture that looked like 10,001 SAM signals, only one of which was real…”
Ramo suggests that if defenders have these black boxes then the U.S. aircraft would be helpless against enemy SAMs, and air superiority would be lost at stroke....(Remainder.)


Joe Biden's Surprise Visit to Iraq

By Kori Schulman
The White House

Vice President Biden landed at Camp Victory, Iraq today to visit U.S. troops and to meet with Iraqi leaders. This is Vice President Biden’s second trip to Iraq this year and his first as Vice President.

Vice President Joe Biden arrives at Camp Victory, Iraq, on an unannounced visit to the country,
Thursday, July 2, 2009. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann

Vice President Joe Biden greets U.S. Ambassador Hill, at Camp Victory, Iraq, on an unannounced visit to the
country, Thursday, July 2, 2009. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann

Vice President Joe Biden greets U.S. General Ray Odierno, at Camp Victory, Iraq, on an unannounced visit to
the country, Thursday, July 2, 2009. Official White House Photo by David Lienemann



U.S. Marines Launch Key Operation in South Afghanistan

By Peter Graff

SORKHDOZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Thousands of U.S. Marines stormed deep into Taliban territory in an Afghan valley on Thursday, marking the start of a major new effort by the Obama administration to regain the initiative in the war.

The Marines met little resistance on day one of Operation Khanjar, or Strike of the Sword, to seize almost all the lower Helmand River valley, heartland of the Taliban insurgency and the world's biggest opium poppy producing region.

One U.S. Marine was killed and several others were wounded during the day, the Marines said in a statement, adding that they had not received any confirmed reports of civilian casualties or damage to property.

The Taliban vowed that thousands of militants would fight back against the offensive by U.S. forces backed by Afghan and British troops.

The Marines said they anticipated violence would rise in the days ahead.

"I expect we are going to see enemy pretty soon," said Captain Junwei Sun, commander of a unit which moved into the village of Sorkhdoz, where old men crouched in clusters on the road, worrying prayer beads and observing the Marines.

"You come in pretty heavy, with helicopters and stuff, they do not want to test us. But I expect once we settle down they will try something," Sun said.

"It's always like that. The calm before the storm. Then we take care of the storm."...(Remainder.)


ATTN GLOBAL WARMING DENIERS: Sea Ice at Lowest Level in 800 Years Near Greenland

By ScienceDaily

New research, which reconstructs the extent of ice in the sea between Greenland and Svalbard from the 13th century to the present indicates that there has never been so little sea ice as there is now. The research results from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, are published in the scientific journal, Climate Dynamics.

There are of course neither satellite images nor instrumental records of the climate all the way back to the 13th century, but nature has its own 'archive' of the climate in both ice cores and the annual growth rings of trees and we humans have made records of a great many things over the years - such as observations in the log books of ships and in harbour records. Piece all of the information together and you get a picture of how much sea ice there has been throughout time.

Modern research and historic records

"We have combined information about the climate found in ice cores from an ice cap on Svalbard and from the annual growth rings of trees in Finland and this gave us a curve of the past climate" explains Aslak Grinsted, geophysicist with the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

In order to determine how much sea ice there has been, the researchers needed to turn to data from the logbooks of ships, which whalers and fisherman kept of their expeditions to the boundary of the sea ice. The ship logbooks are very precise and go all the way back to the 16th century. They relate at which geographical position the ice was found. Another source of information about the ice are records from harbours in Iceland, where the severity of the winters have been recorded since the end of the 18th century.

By combining the curve of the climate with the actual historical records of the distribution of the ice, researchers have been able to reconstruct the extent of the sea ice all the way back to the 13th century. Even though the 13th century was a warm period, the calculations show that there has never been so little sea ice as in the 20th century....(Remainder.)


Claims That U.S. Will Only Reduce Carbon Emissions By 1% Unless Others Help

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times

Shortly after the House of Representatives passed a cap-and-trade bill, some Republicans made this claim about the plan: Lowering carbon emissions in the United States will do little to slow climate change unless other countries do the same.

The GOP's position is that putting a cap on carbon dioxide emissions will be too costly for businesses and for consumers, and if the United States is going it alone those costs outweigh the environmental benefit.

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, who has been one of the more vocal skeptics, made this argument on the June 28, 2009, episode of This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

"If the United States moves ahead by itself [on cap-and-trade]... after 30 or 40 years, we're going to reduce CO2 by less than one percent," he said.

He reiterated his opinion during a conference call with reporters on July 1, 2009, saying that, "if the United States would go ahead -- because we're supposed to so-called set an example for the rest of the world -- and if the rest of the world doesn't go along, then we're turning out to be suckers because we're -- we're going to just reduce total CO2 by a spit in the ocean by ourselves."

We wondered whether our cap-and-trade plan could be as limited as Grassley maintains - or at least whether Grassley's one percent prediction is even close.

Before digging into his claim, here's a little background on this complicated issue, one we've already explored in terms of how much it might cost consumers. The bill, authored by Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts, was approved by the House of Representatives on June 26, and would essentially limit the amount of carbon dioxide companies can emit each year. The cap will become tighter and tighter over time, and ultimately, lawmakers say their plan will reduce carbon pollution by 17 percent by 2020, and 83 percent by 2050....(Remainder.)


Non-"Biased" Fox Nation Declares Stimulus "Was a Dud"

By Media Matters


Is Rush Limbaugh Trying to Encourage a Military Coup Against Obama?

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

One of the problems with trying to track the flood of wingnuttery emitted daily by Rush Limbaugh is that there's so much of it, and it's so ceaseless, that one becomes overwhelmed trying to keep up with it. But there's been a thread in his commentary this past week that's particularly dangerous, and it needs calling out.

It began on Monday, after the military coup in Honduras. Limbaugh went on the air and said this:
Limbaugh: So we've got hell breaking loose in Honduras. You know what we learned about Honduras? We learned the Obama administration tried to stop the coup. Now what was -- the coup was what many of you wish would happen here, without the military.
The next day, describing Obama talking to troops about the withdrawal from Iraq, he described the president thus:
"This is a guy who sought their defeat."
And then yesterday, he expanded on these thoughts even further:
This is Barack Obama, who led from the United States Senate his party into doing everything he could to ensure the defeat of the U.S. military. ... This party was doing everything it could to impugn and dishonor the military.
This thread of commentary clearly is pushing toward a single thought -- to push people in the armed forces into seeing Obama as a usurper and traitor, just like the Honduran president, and toward the idea that a similar military-based removal of him from office might be justified....(Remainder.)


No ACLU Lawsuit Over Cross-Shaped Headstones

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times

We received the following chain e-mail from a reader, who asked us to check it out.

"Subject: In Jesus' Name -- No! No!

"Did you know that the ACLU has filed a suit to have all military cross-shaped headstones removed and another suit to end prayer from the military completely? They're making great progress. The Navy Chaplains can no longer mention Jesus' name in prayer thanks to the wretched ACLU and our new administration."

There's a lot packed into that e-mail, but here, we're checking whether the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit to have all military cross-shaped headstones removed.

We couldn't find any news stories or court cases to support such a claim.

We asked the ACLU if they had filed such a suit. No way, said spokesman Will Matthews.

"The ACLU has never once advocated for or initiated any litigation in favor of, removing cross-shaped headstones from federal cemeteries," he said in an e-mail.

For good measure, he added the ACLU has also not filed suit to stop voluntary prayer in the military, either.

Not content with the ACLU's denial, we went to the National Cemetery Administration of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. They are responsible for maintaining the national cemeteries and issuing headstones and markers for deceased military veterans.

"To begin with, we don't have cross-shaped headstones at VA national cemeteries," said spokesman Michael Nacincik. The headstones and markers the government issues are rectangular.

He also said there was no lawsuit concerning headstones.

Family members of the deceased can select an emblem of religious belief to be inscribed on the headstone or marker. Currently, there are 39 different emblems from which to choose. The symbols include different types of crosses, the star of David, the Muslim crescent and star, the Buddhist Wheel of Righteousness, and many others, including symbols for atheists and secular humanists....(Remainder.)


That '30s Show

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

O.K., Thursday’s jobs report settles it. We’re going to need a bigger stimulus. But does the president know that?

Let’s do the math.

Since the recession began, the U.S. economy has lost 6 ½ million jobs — and as that grim employment report confirmed, it’s continuing to lose jobs at a rapid pace. Once you take into account the 100,000-plus new jobs that we need each month just to keep up with a growing population, we’re about 8 ½ million jobs in the hole.

And the deeper the hole gets, the harder it will be to dig ourselves out. The job figures weren’t the only bad news in Thursday’s report, which also showed wages stalling and possibly on the verge of outright decline. That’s a recipe for a descent into Japanese-style deflation, which is very difficult to reverse. Lost decade, anyone?

Wait — there’s more bad news: the fiscal crisis of the states. Unlike the federal government, states are required to run balanced budgets. And faced with a sharp drop in revenue, most states are preparing savage budget cuts, many of them at the expense of the most vulnerable. Aside from directly creating a great deal of misery, these cuts will depress the economy even further.

So what do we have to counter this scary prospect? We have the Obama stimulus plan, which aims to create 3 ½ million jobs by late next year. That’s much better than nothing, but it’s not remotely enough. And there doesn’t seem to be much else going on. Do you remember the administration’s plan to sharply reduce the rate of foreclosures, or its plan to get the banks lending again by taking toxic assets off their balance sheets? Neither do I....(Remainder.)


Jon Stewart Smackdown on Beck's "bin Laden Needs to Attack America"


Overheard in Michele Bachmann's Office

By Jed Lewison
Daily Kos

A conversation between Michele Bachmann and one of her staffers:
Staffer (approaches gingerly): Congresswoman?

Bachmann (looks up from computer screen, revealing that she was posting a comment on a freeper board as "CensusBoycott2009"): Yes?

Staffer: I just received word that three members of the GOP caucus have asked you to give up your Census boycott.

Bachmann (shakes head): I just knew it.

Staffer (confused): Knew what?

Bachmann: Obama's socialist mind control is already working. He's taken over the Republican Party.

Staffer (horrified): Oh no! What do we do? You're the only thing standing between us and insanity!

Bachmann (soothing): Don't worry. I have a plan. But we must be careful. And we cannot admit the real reason I am boycotting the Census.

Staffer: You mean we have to stop telling the truth about how they plan to round up Americans and put them in FEMA camps, just like the Japanese in World War II?

Bachmann: Oh yeah, I'd been meaning to tell you about that. Michelle Malkin cleared that up for me -- it was actually a good thing to put them in internment camps, so that's not why I'm against the Census anymore.

Staffer: So why are you against the Census?

Bachmann: If I told you the truth, your life would be in danger.

Staffer: From The Obamessiah?

Bachmann (nods): Listen, I'm standing firm on this. But if they ask you why I won't fill out the Census, I want you to give them a cover story.

Staffer: What's the cover story?

Bachmann: That I've gone hiking.

Staffer: Gone hiking? Where?

Bachmann: Around Lake Bemidji.

Staffer: I didn't know you liked hiking.

Bachmann: Yes, I love hiking. I've always gone hiking. And we're all hikers now. So be careful. Because they are coming after us hikers.


Racist and Homophobic Asshole, Limbaugh, Mocks Hate Crimes Legislation


How to Deal with America's Empire of Bases

The Modest Proposal for Garrisoned Lands

By Chalmers Johnson

The U.S. Empire of Bases -- at $102 billion a year already the world's costliest military enterprise -- just got a good deal more expensive. As a start, on May 27th, we learned that the State Department will build a new "embassy" in Islamabad, Pakistan, which at $736 million will be the second priciest ever constructed, only $4 million less, if cost overruns don't occur, than the Vatican-City-sized one the Bush administration put up in Baghdad. The State Department was also reportedly planning to buy the five-star Pearl Continental Hotel (complete with pool) in Peshawar, near the border with Afghanistan, to use as a consulate and living quarters for its staff there.

Unfortunately for such plans, on June 9th Pakistani militants rammed a truck filled with explosives into the hotel, killing 18 occupants, wounding at least 55, and collapsing one entire wing of the structure. There has been no news since about whether the State Department is still going ahead with the purchase.

Whatever the costs turn out to be, they will not be included in our already bloated military budget, even though none of these structures is designed to be a true embassy -- a place, that is, where local people come for visas and American officials represent the commercial and diplomatic interests of their country. Instead these so-called embassies will actually be walled compounds, akin to medieval fortresses, where American spies, soldiers, intelligence officials, and diplomats try to keep an eye on hostile populations in a region at war. One can predict with certainty that they will house a large contingent of Marines and include roof-top helicopter pads for quick get-aways.

While it may be comforting for State Department employees working in dangerous places to know that they have some physical protection, it must also be obvious to them, as well as the people in the countries where they serve, that they will now be visibly part of an in-your-face American imperial presence. We shouldn't be surprised when militants attacking the U.S. find one of our base-like embassies, however heavily guarded, an easier target than a large military base....(Remainder.)


Candidate McInnis Moves Mountains—From Canadian Rockies to Colorado

By Ernest Luning

The Colorado Independent

What is it with Colorado politicians and their mountains? No, Mount McKinley isn't Pikes Peak, and the Canadian Rockies are nowhere to be found in the Centennial State.

Hours after launching his campaign Web site to much fanfare, official Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott McInnis pulled from the site a prominent graphic featuring a vista of Lake Louise, a resort nestled in the Canadian Rockies. The Canadian terrain appeared behind the question, 'What do you want for the future of Colorado?"

Proper Colorado mountains replaced the Canadian peaks on the McInnis campaign site. (Image/McInnis Campaign)
Soon after bloggers uncovered the geographic blooper, lovely Lake Louise vanished from the McInnis site, replaced with background shots of the Boulder Flatirons.

A McInnis campaign spokesman didn't return a phone call or e-mail seeking comment.

Intrepid contributors to the political blog Colorado Pols uncovered the McInnis campaign's graphic mixup Thursday afternoon. After speculating the range might be the result of creative Photoshopping, and then discarding the possibility it portrayed a seldom-seen view of Mount of the Holy Cross or Maroon Bells, a blogger using the name johnpauljones found images of the mountain range McInnis used:
Found it – Lake Louise – Alberta Canada…

Look to the far left of the photo. Maroon Bell looking moutain with a large mountain behind. The notch on the right side of the bell shape is a dead ringer. The glacier valley leads right into Lake Louise.

Classic. Schaferish but wrong country.

"This is worse than Shaffer," another blogger replied. "This is not even inside the United States."...(Remainder.)


Mennonite Group Pushes for Accepting Gays

By Jill Laster
The Columbus Dispatch

Mennonites should be more accepting of gay and lesbian members, according to a campaign being waged by some members during the denomination's national conference in Columbus this week.

Since November, about 1,400 Mennonites have signed an open letter calling on the church to reopen the conversation about the faith's official stance on homosexuality. Supporters of the effort presented a resolution to a church committee today. The resolutions was not voted on, but could come up again Friday.

Under church policy, gays and lesbians who are sexually active cannot be members, and same-sex couples cannot be married. Churches that condone homosexuality face disciplinary methods such as suspension and expulsion by the 21 area conferences overseeing the nation's Mennonite churches.

Mennonite Church USA is a Christian faith emphasizing peace that shares Anabaptist origins with the Amish. The church has about 109,000 members in the United States, including 12,400 in Ohio. About 7,200 people are attending the church's six-day biennial convention, which ends Sunday.

No change in church policy is expected to come during this year's convention, although "Open Letter Campaign" organizers have created a national resolution asking its area conferences to not punish churches condoning homosexuality....(Remainder.)


In Kentucky, Jesus Rode Dinosaurs Around While Hating Gays

By James Hipps

Oh those crazy Religious Right zealots…you know, the Sarah Palin type who believe you can “pray away the gay” and also believe that Jesus rode around on dinosaurs.

Well, in Kentucky, they’ve opened a “creationism” museum that even claims that Noah brought dinosaurs with him on his ark…now that would be some boat.  How big is a zoo?  And you can fit two of every animal on a boat, built by a guy that didn’t even have power tools?  Oh the power of miracles!

Anyway, there is a great post about this over at Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  Here’s an excerpt:
Washington, D.C., is a great city. In addition to all of the wonderful historical and political landmarks, there are a ton of tourist attractions: we have the Spy Museum, the Museum of Crime and Punishment and our very own Madame Tussaud’s wax museum.

Northern Kentucky, however, may have us beat. Petersburg is the home of the nation’s largest Creation Museum.

Since its grand opening in 2007, 750,000 people have passed through its doors to be welcomed by an animatronics display of a young girl feeding a carrot to a squirrel as two dinosaurs stand behind her looking on.

So, in these times, when we all get frustrated with the lies, mis-information and hate for the LGBT community that is so widely spread by the Religious Right, it’s great to have a laugh ever now and then, and this, this is funny!...(Original.)


Federal Judge Moves to Fast Track Legal Fight Over Prop. H8

By Howard Mintz
San Jose Mercury News

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge today refused to temporarily block Proposition 8, moving forward with his plan to put the latest legal challenge over California's gay marriage ban on a fast track to a trial that is likely to produce the most thorough review to date of whether same sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

With all sides in the legal fight poised for a fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker agreed with Attorney General Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, concluding that it would cause too much confusion across California if he chose to suspend Prop 8 while the challenge to the voter-approved gay marriage ban unfolds in the courts. Brown has nevertheless sided with gay marriage advocates on the overall lawsuit, agreeing that Prop 8 violates the federal equal protection rights of gay and lesbian couples by denying them the ability to marry.

Walker told a packed courtroom that his job is to establish a full record on the legal tangle over gay marriage because he will not be the final word in a case that many legal experts believe will force the U.S. Supreme Court to address the issue.

"What happens here is only a prelude to what is going to happen later," Walker said.

Backed by a high-powered legal group headed by former Republican U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, two gay couples sued in May to overturn Prop 8, shifting the legal fight over gay
marriage in California to the federal courts. The California Supreme Court in May upheld Prop 8, concluding that it did not have the legal authority to overturn the voter-backed amendment to the California Constitution.

The justices still refused to invalidate an estimated 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place before Prop 8 went into effect last November, in the aftermath of a previous state Supreme Court ruling declaring prior laws outlawing gay marriage unconstitutional. The latest lawsuit argues that Prop 8 violates federal equal rights laws for couples now unable to marry and was adopted to discriminate against gays and lesbians....(Remainder.)


The Moonie Washington Times Publishes Op-Ed Promoting Discredited "Global Cooling" Claim

By Media Matters

On July 2, The Washington Times published a "commentary" by Cato Institute [aka complete batcrap crazy, right-wing, libertarian institute] senior fellow Richard Rahn criticizing Congress for passing "the largest tax increase in American history this past Friday, under the claim it was a vote to save the climate." In the op-ed -- which was referring to the cap-and-trade energy bill recently passed by the House -- Rahn stated that "proponents claim this tax bill will reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, which are purported to cause global warming" and then responded to that claim, in part, by asserting: "None of the climate models predicted the unexpected global cooling of the last decade." However, climate experts reject the idea that relatively cooler global temperatures during the past decade are any indication that global warming is slowing.

As Media Matters for America has noted, annual global average temperatures have both risen and fallen over the past 11 years, and there have been some relatively cooler years during that period -- including a decline in each of the past three years relative to the year before. But climate scientists have identified a long-term warming trend spanning several decades that is independent from the normal climate variability -- which includes relatively short-term changes in climate due to events like El Niño and La Niña -- to which they attribute the recent relatively cooler temperatures.

From Rahn's July 2 Washington Times op-ed:
Why did a bare majority (219-212) of the members of the U.S. Congress vote for the largest tax increase in American history this past Friday, under the claim it was a vote to save the climate?

Before you answer the question, consider the following facts. The proponents claim this tax bill will reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, which are purported to cause global warming. First, despite the claims of President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many in the media, there is no consensus in the scientific community about how much climate change, other than the normal cycles, is taking place, nor how severe it will be, and how much man-made CO2 is responsible. None of the climate models predicted the unexpected global cooling of the last decade.



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