Bush Admits U.S. 'learning as we go' in Iraq, Afghanistan
President Bush admitted during his commencement address at the Air Force Academy last week that "we're learning as we go" in the Afghanistan and Iraq rebuilding efforts. Bush also drew what many historians say is an oversimplified parallel between the current Iraq quagmire and World War II, saying that "In Germany and Japan, the work of rebuilding took place in relative quiet." Sam Brannen, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Associated Press that Bush's analogy between World War II and today is "patently false," because the stateless enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq "are not accountable to the same command-and-control structures that existed in Japan and Germany." Bush also claimed "the only way that America can lose the war on terror is if we defeat ourselves."
General Electric Claims CO2 "A Possible" Factor in Global Warming
Despite all its green advertising claims, behind the scenes General Electric remains skeptical about the role of carbon dioxide in driving climate change. A May 28th GE press release announcing a new "clean coal" initiative states only that "CO2 is a possible contributing factor to climate change."
GE's multi-million dollar "Ecomagination" ad campaign paints the company as a concerned environmental steward and GE belongs to a growing coalition of companies calling for federal action on climate change. Kevin Grandia, the managing editor of a new collaborative web effort by several environmental groups to debunk the myth of "clean coal," noticed the GE press release and pointed to the inconsistency between the skeptical line in the release and GE's widely-publicized ads and public statements on climate change. Grandia notes that "considering the major marketing effort GE has undertaken to paint itself as a leader on reducing greenhouse gas emissions...[w]hy so much investment by GE in something they only see as a possibility?"
General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt admitted to Forbes magazine in 2005 that the company's lofty "Ecomagination" campaign is little more than a sales pitch. "It's primarily that," Immelt said. "In its essence it's a way to sell more products and services."
In order to confront similar greenwashing by the coal industry, environmental groups including The DeSmog Project, Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace USA launched a new website http://www.coal-is-clean.com/ to shatter the coal industry's "clean coal" myth by mocking the lengths the coal industry will go to portray coal as clean. A companion site http://www.coal-is-dirty.com/ explains the actual impacts of coal mining and burning.
NASA Inspector General Report Confirms Political Censorship of Climate Data
A new investigation by NASA's inspector general confirms that Bush administration appointees deliberately skewed and deleted scientific findings about the serious threat of global warming from agency press releases for purely political reasons. The report also confirms that NASA public affairs appointees denied media access to NASA climate scientists and thereby "reduced, marginalized, or mischaracterized climate change science made available to the general public." The investigation details how the political appointees in the press office rewrote the findings of NASA scientists and put out press releases which instead "suffered from inaccuracy, factual inefficiency and scientific dilution," according to the Inspector General report. This tampering with science constitutes a major breach of the long-standing trust between NASA scientists and the agency's public affairs department.
Forced by Court Order, Bush administration finally releases long-overdue climate assessment
Four years past its mandated deadline and ultimately compelled by court order, the Bush Administration finally released a climate change assessment detailing how global warming will affect the United States. A 1990 law, the Global Change Research Act, requires the government to assess the potential for domestic impacts from global warming every four years. But seven-plus years into Bush's presidency, this Administration hadn't released an update to the last report issued in 2000 by the Clinton administration. The long-overdue assessment details how global warming will likely lead to devastating droughts and stronger hurricanes in the United States, among other negative impacts.
Top Scientists Say United States Has Lost Its Stature As Science Leader
Following the seven-year assault on science carried out by the Bush Administration, the nation's top scientists say the United States has lost its edge as a leader in science education and research. An expert panel of scientists, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's top science adviser, detailed at last week's World Science Festival how the disdain for science among high-level political appointees has crippled the United States' once proud international standing as a leader in scientific research. The scientists cited specific examples of how U.S. officials downplayed and suppressed scientific evidence of climate change, derailed federal funding for stem cell research, and promoted creationism while casting doubt on the science of evolution.
Bush Administration submits Yucca Mountain nuclear waste application without required radiation exposure standard
The Bush administration submitted its formal application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to build a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada but failed to include a critical public safety standard for radiation exposure. The application lacks a plan to safeguard the public from certain dangerous isotopes in the radioactive waste that remain dangerous for 1 million years. The EPA has yet to produce this critical standard, yet the Bush administration proceeded with its application anyway. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman told reporters the government's license application will "stand up to any challenge anywhere," despite the fact that a federal court has already ruled the EPA's public radiation exposure standard invalid until it can establish a standard that would be protective of the public for 1 million years. So far, EPA has only been able to establish a standard protective for 10,000 years, nowhere near long enough to safeguard public health and the environment from the deadly radioactive isotopes that would be stored at Yucca. Nevada officials and tribes who live closest to the proposed storage dump vow to continue their fight against the troubled facility.
Proselytizing Marine Suspended In Iraq But Others Continue Attempt to Convert Muslims to Christianity
The military suspended a single Marine in Iraq for forcibly handing out coins quoting the Gospel to Sunni Muslims passing through a checkpoint at the western entrance to Fallujah. In possible violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, U.S. Marines are acting as Christian missionaries while on patrol in Iraq, handing out bibles translated into Arabic, coins quoting the Gospel and other fundamentalist Christian literature to Sunni Muslims in Fallujah and elsewhere. Coalition forces spokesman Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll said that "the military prohibits proselytizing any religion, faith or practices."
The Christian fundamentalist group Bible Pathway Ministries admits it has provided thousands of copies of a special military edition of its Daily Devotional Bible study book to members of the 101st Airborne Division. The book's cover includes the logos of the five branches of the armed forces, implying that the Pentagon approved its publication.
Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the nonprofit group Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and a former Reagan administration White House counsel and former Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) asserts that "such fundamentalist Christian proselytizing DIRECTLY violates General Order 1A, Part 2, Section J issued by General Tommy Franks on behalf of the United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) back in December of 2000 which strictly prohibits "proselytizing of any religion, faith or practice."
Chief Warrant Officer Rene Llanos of the 101st Airborne told Mission Network News, "the soldiers who are patrolling and walking the streets are taking along this copy, and they're using it to minister to the local residents."
"Our division is also getting ready to head toward Afghanistan, so there will be copies heading out with the soldiers," Llanos said. "We need to pray for protection for our soldiers as they patrol and pray that God would continue to open doors. The soldiers are being placed in strategic places with a purpose. They're continuing to spread the Word."
Veteran's Affairs Secretary says concerns about PTSD 'overblown'
In response to a question posed by Vietnam veteran John Guinn about the growing problem of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans, Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake suggested that some concerns about PTSD are "overblown," adding that many of the brain injuries were "akin to what anyone who played football in their youth might have suffered." During his visit to Alaska with Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, Peake also said that many vets with PTSD may just need "a little counseling" and shouldn't "need the PTSD label their whole lives."
Yet new Pentagon figures show that the number of new PTSD cases "jumped by roughly 50 percent in 2007." Brandon Friedman from VetVoice notes that Peake's interpretation contradicts VA psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, who maintains "Combat PTSD is a war injury. Veterans with combat PTSD are war wounded, carrying the burdens of sacrifice for the rest of us as surely as the amputees, the burned, the blind, and the paralyzed carry them."
The Washington Post reported on the front page June 3rd that soldiers at Fort Benning suffering from PTSD and other mental wounds are housed in "warrior transition" barracks roughly 200 yards away from the fort's main infantry firing ranges. The traumatized soldiers are subjected to the sounds of rifle and machine gun fire day and night several days a week. One soldier was recently sent to the emergency room suffering from an anxiety attack due to the proximity of the firing range.
Nearly 40,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD, in addition to an estimated 150,000 combat veterans with PTSD symptoms.
Right Wing Skeptic Group Plans 'Carbon Belch Day'
Right wing global warming skeptics are planning a day of carbon belching to coincide with the Congressional debate on a carbon tax rebate program. The "grassroots" group Grassfire.org wants people to waste as much energy as possible on June 12 to break free from "carbon footprint guilt."
Grassfire's president Steve Elliott has a solid right wing resume, according to his bio, which says that Elliott "has rallied citizens on a host of grassroots issues, including border security, tax reform, abortion, traditional marriage, supporting our troops, exposing media bias and defending the Pledge of Allegiance." Although Grassfire was once linked to the right-wing Washington P.R. firm Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, the group refuses to divulge its current funding sources.
International Energy Agency prepares to study peak oil for the first time
The International Energy Agency - considered to be the most reliable independent monitor of global oil supplies - is worried that demand for oil among a growing world population will not be met by a dwindling supply of the fossil fuel resource. "We are entering a new world energy order, " IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told the Associated Press. The IEA plans to study the depletion rates of 400 oil fields in order to gauge whether or not the world is at or near peak oil, the point at which oil production peaks globally and the remaining oil becomes much more difficult and expensive to get to market, causing demand to far outstrip supply. The IEA's task will be hindered by secretive regimes such as Saudi Arabia that refuse to divulge information on their remaining oil reserves, but the agency's findings will serve as the most definitive assessment to date on the outlook of global oil supply.
U.S. Among Countries Who Oppose Ban on Cluster Bombs
The Bush administration refused to sign a recent treaty banning cluster bombs, and worked behind the scenes to strongly oppose its adoption by lobbying other nations to resist the treaty's call to eliminate stockpiles of the deadly cluster weapons. The United States is the leading producer of the munitions, has the largest stockpile of them, and has used them more frequently than any other nation, including in the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars. More than 100 countries gathered in Dublin last week to sign the treaty which calls for the destruction of existing stockpiles of cluster munitions over the next eight years and an immediate end to their use in battle. Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and the United States - all major producers or users of the weapons - refused to participate in the talks or to sign the treaty. Cluster bombs are designed to detonate upon impact with the ground, spraying small "bomblets" over an area of several hundred yards. But many fail to detonate, leaving behind a minefield of munitions easily triggered by unsuspecting civilians.
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