Tag Archives: published

It’s official: Climate change made Australia’s wildfire season more likely

Australia has always had nasty wildfires. In 2005, the Eyre Peninsula bushfire crisped a wide swath of South Australia’s wheat belt on a day now known as Black Tuesday. In 2009, the Black Saturday fires led to 173 fatalities in Victoria. But this season was different in terms of scale, if not lives lost. Extreme fires have charred nearly 55 million acres of land and killed at least 34 people. Climate change, many suspected, was to blame for the ferocity of the fires.

Now we have evidence. On Wednesday, researchers have confirmed that climate change made Australia’s unprecedented wildfire season of 2019 and 2020 more likely. How much more likely? About 30 percent — and that’s a conservative estimate, the scientists say. That’s pretty significant, but the most concerning conclusion of the study, published by World Weather Attribution (a group of international researchers specializing in climate change, disaster preparedness, and atmospheric sciences), is that conditions for future fire seasons will be even worse.

To get their results, which have not been peer-reviewed yet, the researchers compared conditions in 1900 (before greenhouse gas emissions from human activity started heating up the planet) to conditions during the peak burning period in December 2019 and January 2020 according to the Fire Weather Index — a tool that calculates fire risk in a particular area by assessing weather conditions in addition to other climatic factors like humidity and wind. The researchers did not look at non-weather factors like ignition sources. They found that the index values for the most recent fire season in southeastern Australia were super high, and calculated that those high numbers are 30 to 80 percent more likely to pop up now than they were before 1900.

That’s more or less in line with what climate modelers say is possible on a planet that has warmed 1 degree C above pre-industrial levels, as our planet has. “These observed trends over southeast Australia are broadly consistent with the projected impacts of climate change,” the authors write. And things will start getting really dire when the planet warms an additional degree or more, at which point fires like the ones Australia saw this season will be four to eight times more likely. As such, “it is crucial to prioritize adaptation and resilience measures to reduce the potential impacts of rising risks,” they say.

Curiously, the four models used by researchers to assess wildfire risk showed that the dry conditions across Australia that many blamed for the proliferation of wildfires in the 2018-2019 season weren’t caused by climate change. Climate change did, however, double the chances of heatwaves during that period.

Link – 

It’s official: Climate change made Australia’s wildfire season more likely

Posted in Accent, alo, FF, GE, LG, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on It’s official: Climate change made Australia’s wildfire season more likely

Lawmakers are trying to criminalize pipeline protesters for “conspiracy.”

In 11th grade, I had an inane habit of staying up very late IMing my stoner boyfriend and/or stalking boys who were cuter than him on Myspace. As a result, I essentially never woke up on time for school — which, in my defense, started at 7:45 a.m. — but I REFUSED to acknowledge my role in that in any way.

“I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY THIS KEEPS HAPPENING,” I would moan at every tardiness slip. I understood extremely well why this kept happening.

According to a Huffington Post report by Alexander Kaufman, the EPA is taking a very similar approach to its communications on climate change. On Tuesday evening, the agency’s Office of Public Affairs sent around an internal set of talking points.

To sum up: The EPA is dealin’ with climate change! But it sure doesn’t know why it’s happenin’!

Consider some of the OPA-provided points:

Human activity impacts our changing climate in some manner. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.
While there has been extensive research and a host of published reports on climate change, clear gaps remain including our understanding of the role of human activity and what we can do about it.

Replace “human activity” with “staying up until 1 a.m. on the internet” and “changing climate” or “climate change” with “always being late to school,” and my point stands.

View this article:

Lawmakers are trying to criminalize pipeline protesters for “conspiracy.”

Posted in alo, Anchor, Brita, Dolphin, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, LG, Nissan, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lawmakers are trying to criminalize pipeline protesters for “conspiracy.”

Is Your Noisy Neighborhood Slowly Killing You?

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

If you’re a tree frog or an ovenbird in mating season and you happen to live in the 83 percent of the continental United States that lies within 3,500 feet of a road, bummer for you. Not only are you more likely to collide with an SUV, but you’re going to have a harder time finding a mate. Research suggests that human-generated noises also mess with nesting behavior, predator-prey dynamics, and sleep patterns. In other words, wildlife gets stressed out by noise.

So do we, it turns out—and the world is getting louder. Scientists define “noise” as unwanted sound, and the level of background din from human activities has been doubling roughly every three decades, beating population growth. Road traffic in the United States has tripled over the last 30 years. By 2032, the number of passenger flights is expected to be nearly double the 2011 figure—at peak hours, planes are even audible overhead 70 percent of the time in the remote backcountry of Yosemite National Park. And while that’s obviously a nuisance for animals and visitors seeking a restorative experience, this growing anthropophony (a fancy word for the human soundscape) is also contributing to stress-related diseases and early death, especially in and around cities.

By evolutionary necessity, noise triggers a potent stress response. We are more easily startled by unexpected sounds than by objects that come suddenly into our field of vision. Our nervous systems react to noises that are loud and abrupt (gunshots, a backfiring engine), rumbling (airplanes), or whining and chaotic (leaf blowers, coffee grinders) by instructing our bodies to boost the heart rate, breathe less deeply, and release fight-or-flight hormones.

But the physical responses that helped save our asses from predators back on the veldt (and still might prove useful at a busy intersection) have obvious downsides in the middle of a school lesson or while you’re trying to get some sleep—especially if, like me, you live near a major airport. On the flip side, positive sounds like chill music, pleasing birdsong, and the voices of loved ones stimulate the brain’s emotional centers, bringing feelings of joy, calm, and well-being.

To learn more, I paid a visit to biobehavioral psychologist Joshua Smyth, who studies human responses to stress at his Pennsylvania State University laboratory. An affable guy who resembles a younger Al Franken, Smyth first hooked me up to a portable heart monitor and had me spit into a test tube to measure my baseline cortisol levels before giving me what was essentially a personality test to see how sensitive I am to unwanted sounds like, say, a roommate’s loud music. While the results suggested I am neither neurotic nor particularly introverted—both of which can predispose a person to noise annoyance—I scored a high 5.2 (adults average 4, college students 3.5), which put me near the 88th percentile.

Then came the fun part. To see how different types of sound affect my ability to recover from life’s ordinary stresses, Smyth first had to stress me out: Cue public speaking. He asked me to deliver a short extemporaneous speech in front of a large mirror, behind which, Smyth told me, sat a panel of judges. Several times during the five-minute speech, a lab technician interrupted and told me to speak up.

This gauntlet of misery is called the Trier Social Stress Test, and even though I knew there was no “panel of judges,” I exhibited a textbook response. My heart rate climbed from the mid-60s to the mid-90s, and my cortisol, an imperfect but suggestive marker of stress, almost doubled.

Next, Smyth assigned me one of three recovery exercises he uses: a video of a pretty summer meadow featuring chirping birds and a blue sky. As I watched, my heart rate fell to its mid-60s baseline range. A couple of minutes into the video, the abrupt rumbling of a truck engine upped my heart rate by 10 clicks. It took me a while to recover, but the soothing nature scene eventually coaxed my heart rate into the mid-50s—that is, until the sound of a propeller plane shot it up again, though not as high as the truck had. At this point, my cortisol was 8.2 nanomoles per liter—1.5 points over baseline—and the variations in my heart rate indicated similar patterns of stress.

My results were typical of Smyth’s findings, which support complementary psychological theories most of us would recognize as common sense. Namely, that pleasing natural sights and sounds are good for the heart and mind—our human cacophony, not so much. “Your recovery was clearly disrupted,” Smyth told me. “Those noises are violating your experience. It’s half as stressful as doing the speech task. Those aren’t trivial effects.”

It all adds up to a dagger twice thrust: Not only does background noise interfere with our much-needed ability to recuperate, but in the places where we live and play, we have increasingly fewer havens from the onslaught.

Even if you think you’re immune to city noise, it may well be affecting your health. The best research on this comes out of Europe. In one study of 4,861 adults, a 10-decibel increase in nighttime noise was linked to a 14 percent rise in a person’s likelihood of being diagnosed with hypertension. Health experts studying more than 1 million people in the vicinity of Germany’s Cologne Bonn Airport found that people subjected to background noise of greater than 40 decibels were at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, and dementia compared with those who lived farther from the flight paths, where things were quieter. (For perspective, the legal nighttime noise limit in Washington, DC, is 55 decibels.)

Another study examined how the opening of a new airport in Munich affected nearby children. In the 18 months after flights commenced, the researchers observed soaring levels of stress hormones in their subjects. The children’s epinephrine levels rose 49 percent, their norepinephrine more than doubled, and their systolic blood pressure, on average, went up by five points.

Yet another depressing study examined the cognition of 2,800 students in 89 schools across Europe. Published in The Lancet in 2005, it found that aircraft and road noise had significant impacts on reading comprehension and certain kinds of memory. The results, adjusted for family income, the mother’s education, and other confounding factors, were linear. For every five-decibel noise increase, the reading scores of British children dropped by the equivalent of a two-month delay, so that kids in neighborhoods that were 20 decibels louder than average were almost a year behind.

This was no fluke: “To date, over 20 studies have shown a negative effect of environmental noise exposure on children’s learning outcomes and cognitive performance,” notes a 2013 paper in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. “Studies have demonstrated that children with chronic aircraft, road traffic or rail noise exposure at school have poorer reading ability, memory, and academic performance on national standardised tests.” There’s science behind the saying “You can’t hear yourself think.”

You can probably guess which communities face the greatest sonic barrage: the same ones stuck with the worst air, the shoddiest housing, and so on. Noise as a social justice issue is just beginning to gain traction. But as diseases and cognitive problems are increasingly chalked up to chronic stress, it makes sense to look at all the contributing factors to that stress. Much of what we know about urban noise in the United States actually comes from National Park Service researchers, who have spent the last 14 years collecting 1.5 million hours of ambient sound from loca­tions ranging from remote wilderness areas to urban street corners. What they’re finding is that noise may well be the most pervasive pollutant in America.

Now researchers can estimate people’s noise exposure down to the level of individual city blocks, says Peter James, a researcher at the Harvard school of public health whose team is using Park Service data to explore whether excessive noise is partly responsible for disparities in “cardiovascular outcomes” in disadvantaged communities. People living in such neighborhoods are also the least likely to have access to the restorative benefits of nature, and the granular noise data could help city planners, policymakers, and activists plan accordingly. Groups like Outdoor Afro and NatureBridge—which aim to get urban kids out into natural settings—are already springing up in cities nationwide.

A healthy soundscape, James says, “is not a wishy-washy amenity. It’s a potential public health factor we need to understand to make sure everyone has the same opportunities.” Smyth offers this advice: “We should think about soundscapes as medicine,” he told me. “It’s like a pill. You can prescribe sounds or a walk in the park in much the way we prescribe exercise. Do it 20 minutes a day as a lifetime approach—or you can do it as an acute stress intervention. When you’re stressed, go to a quiet place.” I’m ready.

Taken from:  

Is Your Noisy Neighborhood Slowly Killing You?

Posted in Everyone, FF, GE, LG, ONA, oven, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is Your Noisy Neighborhood Slowly Killing You?

Here’s Where Vaccine Skeptics Live Around the World

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

More than 13 percent of Americans disagree with the statement that “vaccines are safe,” according to a new study by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. That puts America in the middle of the pack of 67 countries where researchers examined views towards immunizations in what they believe to be the largest survey on vaccine confidence to date.

var embedDeltas=”100″:620,”200″:488,”300″:444,”400″:444,”500″:400,”600″:400,”700″:400,”800″:400,”900″:400,”1000″:400,chart=document.getElementById(“datawrapper-chart-TGdU6″),chartWidth=chart.offsetWidth,applyDelta=embedDeltasMath.min(1000, Math.max(100*(Math.floor(chartWidth/100)), 100))||0,newHeight=applyDelta;chart.style.height=newHeight+”px”;

Published last week in Ebiomedicine and based on surveys of 66,000 people, the findings show stark variations among countries. France took the lead of vaccine skeptics, with a staggering 41 percent of respondents disagreeing with the statement that vaccines are safe. Authors attribute the country’s “extreme negative sentiment” to controversies over the past two decades around the unproven side effects of a range of vaccines, from hepatitis B to H1N1. (The hesitancy reflects what the French are hearing from their doctors: One in four general practitioners said that vaccines recommended by public health authorities aren’t useful, according to a study last year.)

Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina, less than two percent of respondents were skeptical of vaccine safety.

Authors observed a counterintuitive finding: countries with higher education rates were generally more skeptical of vaccine safety, but within countries, more educated citizens were less skeptical. (Clusters of vocal vaccine skeptics in areas with a highly educated population—like California’s Marin County and Boulder, Colordo—appear to be exceptions to this rule.) “Our research thus stresses the emerging shift away from access to vaccines as the primary barrier to vaccination in many countries,” the authors write.

This article is from: 

Here’s Where Vaccine Skeptics Live Around the World

Posted in Citizen, FF, G & F, GE, Landmark, LG, ONA, oven, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Here’s Where Vaccine Skeptics Live Around the World

The GOP Plan to Wreck Government Is Doing Great, Thanks Very Much

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

Good news! If you call the IRS, they’ll probably answer this year. The bad news is that this is purely temporary:

The reduced wait times during tax-filing season, which ends April 18, were possible because of a cash infusion from Congress, but they only temporarily obscure continued problems at the U.S. tax agency. Audits are down. Identity theft is persistent. Tax lawyers gripe about the lack of published rules….“I can certainly understand the displeasure that Congress has,” said Fred Goldberg, who ran the IRS under President George H.W. Bush. “You can shoot at the IRS, but the issue is collateral damage, and the collateral damage on taxpayers is huge.”

….The IRS is trying to crack down on tax fraud, but with fewer workers. The agency had 17,208 employees doing tax enforcement in 2015, down 24% from 2010….In fiscal 2017, the IRS wants $12.3 billion to get back above the 2010 peak funding level. Congressional Republicans have already declared that a non-starter, which means reduced audits and longer wait times will continue.

Republicans would like to do away with the IRS. That’s what they keep saying, anyway. They want all your taxes on a postcard, or a 3-page tax code, or an abolition of income taxes entirely.

Failing that, their goal is twofold: First, starve the agency of funding so that it operates poorly and the public gets pissed off at it. Second, starve the agency of funding so that it can’t do as many audits of rich people. In real terms, the IRS budget is down 14 percent since 2010, despite a notable lack of either (a) fewer people paying taxes or (b) fewer rich people trying to cheat on their taxes.

But this all works out well anyway. The bigger picture looks like this:

  1. Reduce IRS budget.
  2. IRS service tanks.
  3. Hold outraged congressional hearing about lousy IRS service.
  4. Public convinced that IRS bureaucracy is bloated and inefficient.
  5. Reduce IRS budget to cheers of public.
  6. Rinse, repeat.

This works for lots of other agencies too. Basically, you do everything you can to gum things up, then use this as evidence that government is incompetent. But it works especially well for agencies like the IRS, which no one likes in the first place. The fact that it helps out corporations and rich people is just a nice cherry on top.


The GOP Plan to Wreck Government Is Doing Great, Thanks Very Much

Posted in alternative energy, FF, GE, LG, ONA, PUR, solar, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The GOP Plan to Wreck Government Is Doing Great, Thanks Very Much

Scientists say we’re “super” good at killing stuff

Scientists say we’re “super” good at killing stuff

By on 21 Aug 2015commentsShare

Humans don’t really need another reason to feel like the greatest species on Earth, so far removed from nature that we can basically do whatever we want with it, but here’s one: Scientists in British Columbia have officially dubbed us “super predators.”

Before you pat yourself on the back, being a super predator isn’t as cool as it sounds. It’s kind of like being “master of Jager bombs” in college — a compliment to some, but really just another way of saying “most likely to be an obnoxious jerk at parties.” By “super predators,” Chris Darimont, a conservation scientist at the University of Victoria, and his colleagues mean that not only do we humans kill more animals than other predators, but we also kill more adult animals — a problem for species that want to, you know, survive.

Of course, that humans are savage beasts who like to hunt species to the point of extinction is no surprise, but this is the first time that scientists have looked at how the age of our prey differs from that of other predators. The team published their findings today in the journal Science. Here’s what they found:

Our global survey […] revealed that humans kill adult prey, the reproductive capital of populations, at much higher median rates than other predators (up to 14 times higher), with particularly intense exploitation of terrestrial carnivores and fishes. Given this competitive dominance, impacts on predators, and other unique predatory behavior, we suggest that humans function as an unsustainable “super predator,” which—unless additionally constrained by managers—will continue to alter ecological and evolutionary processes globally.

What Darimont and his colleagues are trying to say is that adults, especially in fish populations, tend to produce more progeny than younger individuals, and by targeting the big fish, we’re essentially hurting the fertility of the overall population. It would be more sustainable, they argue, to instead target younger individuals, many of whom likely wouldn’t survive until adulthood anyway.

Other predators go after those younger individuals because babies are weak, and even the fiercest lions and tigers and bears (oh my!) don’t have the same kind of advanced “killing technology” that we use. Hell, if we didn’t have all the fancy guns and fishing equipment that we do, we’d probably be going for more weaklings, too.

Ultimately, the researchers suggest that we try to emulate the behavior of other predators in order to maintain the same kind of sustainable balance that exists in the wild. Which is almost as funny as asking the master of Jager bombs to opt for a vodka cran. Don’t these scientists realize that we’re the college bros of the animal kingdom? JAGER BOMBS, JAGER BOMBS, JAGER BOMBS!


Find this article interesting?

Donate now to support our work.


enable JavaScript

to view the comments.

A Grist Special Series

Oceans 15

This surfer is committed to saving sharks — even though he lost his leg to one of themMike Coots lost his leg in a shark attack. Then he joined the group Shark Attack Survivors for Shark Conservation, and started fighting to save SHARKS from US.

This scuba diver wants everyone — black, white, or brown — to feel at home in the oceanKramer Wimberley knows what it’s like to feel unwelcome in the water. As a dive instructor and ocean-lover, he tries to make sure no one else does.

This chef built her reputation on seafood. How’s she feeling about the ocean now?Seattle chef Renee Erickson weighs in on the world’s changing waters, and how they might change her menu.

How do you study an underwater volcano? Build an underwater laboratoryJohn Delaney is taking the internet underwater, and bringing the deep ocean to the public.

Oceans 15We’re tired of talking about oceans like they’re just a big, wet thing somewhere out there. Let’s make it personal.

Get Grist in your inbox


Continued – 

Scientists say we’re “super” good at killing stuff

Posted in Anchor, Everyone, FF, GE, LG, ONA, Radius, solar, Ultima, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Scientists say we’re “super” good at killing stuff

A Supermarket Tabloid Company is Funding Chris Christie’s Super PAC

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

The pro-Chris Christie super-PAC America Leads raised $11 million in the first quarter of 2015, according to filings released by the Federal Election Commission on Friday. Controversial hedge-fund manager Steven A. Cohen gave $1 million. Cleveland Cavaliers owner (and Quicken Loans chief) Dan Gilbert gave $750,000. Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone and WWE magnate Linda McMahon each dropped $250,000. New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon dropped $100,000 that his team’s fans dearly wish he’d spent on an outfielder.

Oh, and it’s hardly the biggest donation on the list, but America Leads also got $10,000 from an unusual source—a media company. The check came from American Media Inc., the parent company of supermarket tabloids like the National Enquirer, OK!, and Star; and fitness publications like Men’s Fitness, Muscle & Fitness; and Flex. What’s the Christie connection? In June, the governor named American Media Inc.’s chairman, David Pecker, to his presidential leadership team.

We can’t speak for Flex, but the normally scandal-happy Enquirer has been bullish about Christie’s chances. Last April, it published an “EXCLUSIVE!” boasting that the governor’s White House dreams were “alive” because “American politics is full of comeback stories.” And in February, it published another item touting Christie’s chances despite “hatchet job” corruption claims.

See original: 

A Supermarket Tabloid Company is Funding Chris Christie’s Super PAC

Posted in Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Oster, Radius, Uncategorized, Venta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Supermarket Tabloid Company is Funding Chris Christie’s Super PAC

EPA: Those Bee-Killing Pesticides? They’re Actually Pretty Useless

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

So, there’s this widely used class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, marketed by chemical giants Bayer and Syngenta, that have emerged as a prime suspect in honeybee collapse, and may also be harming birds and water-borne critters. But at least they provide benefits to farmers, right?

Well, not soybean farmers, according to a blunt economic assessment released Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency (PDF). Conclusion: “There are no clear or consistent economic benefits of neonicotinoid seed treatments in soybeans.”

Wait, what?

The report goes on: “This analysis provides evidence that US soybean growers derive limited to no benefit from neonicotinoid seed treatments in most instances.”

Hmmm. But at least they’re better for farmers than no pesticide at all?

Nope: “Published data indicate that most usage of neonicotinoid seed treatments does not protect soybean yield any better than doing no pest control.”


The EPA notes that in recent years, US farmers have been planting on average 76 million acres of soybeans each season. Of those acres, an average 31 percent are planted in seeds treated with neonics—that is, farmers buy treated seeds, which suffuse the soybean plants with the chemical as they grow. So that’s about 24 million acres of neonic-treated seeds—an area equal in size to the state of Indiana. Why would farmers pay up for a seed treatment that doesn’t do them any good, yet may be doing considerable harm to pollinators and birds? The EPA report has insights: “data from researchers and extension experts … indicate that some growers currently have some difficulty obtaining untreated seed.” The report points to one small poll that found 45 percent of respondents reported finding non-treated seeds “difficult to obtain” or “not available.”

Another reason may be marketing. Syngenta, for example, promotes its “CruiserMaxx” seed treatment for soybeans, which combines a neonic insecticide with two different fungicides. The pitch: “Promotes better emergence, faster speed to canopy, improved vigor and higher yield potential.
Protects against damaging chewing and sucking insect pests. … Increases yield even under low insect pressure.”

Only one US crop is planted more abundantly than soybeans: corn, which typically covers around 90 million acres. According to Purdue entomologist Christian Krupke, “virtually all” of it is from neonic-treated seeds. That’s a land mass just 10 percent smaller than California. You have to wonder what bang those farmers are getting for their buck. I have a query into the EPA to see whether it has plans to conduct a similar assessment for corn. Meanwhile, this March 2014 Center for Food Safety research report, which was reviewed by Krupke and Jonathan Lundgren, a research entomologist at the US Department of Agriculture, found that the bee-killing pesticides offer at best limited benefits to corn farmers, too.

Continue reading: 

EPA: Those Bee-Killing Pesticides? They’re Actually Pretty Useless

Posted in Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, PUR, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on EPA: Those Bee-Killing Pesticides? They’re Actually Pretty Useless

Obama May Soon Send This Reporter to Jail. Here Are the Embarrassing Secrets He Exposed.

Mother Jones

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN” “http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd”>

The Obama administration has fought a years-long court battle to force longtime New York Times national security correspondent James Risen to reveal the source for a story in his 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. Risen may soon serve jail time for refusing to out his source. The fight has drawn attention to Obama’s less-than-stellar track record on press freedom—in a recent interview, Risen called the president “the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.” But lost in the ruckus are the details of what Risen revealed. Here’s what has the government so upset.

In State of War, Risen revealed a secret CIA operation, code-named Merlin, that was intended to undermine the Iranian nuclear program. The plan—originally approved by president Bill Clinton, but later embraced by George W. Bush—was to pass flawed plans for a trigger system for a nuclear weapon to Iran in the hopes of derailing the country’s nuclear program. “It was one of the greatest engineering secrets in the world,” Risen wrote in State of War, “providing the solution to one of a handful of problems that separated nuclear powers such as the United States and Russia from the rogue countries like Iran that were desperate to join the nuclear club but had so far fallen short.”

The flaws in the trigger system were supposed to be so well hidden that the blueprints would lead Iranian scientists down the wrong path for years. But Merlin’s frontman, a Russian nuclear scientist and defector then on the CIA’s payroll, spotted the flaws almost immediately. On the day of the handoff in Vienna in winter 2000, the Russian, not wanting to burn a bridge with the Iranians, included an apologetic note with his delivery, explaining that the design had some problems. Shortly after receiving the plans, one member of the Iranian mission changed his travel plans and flew back to Tehran, presumably with the blueprints—and the note—in hand. Merlin did not wreck the Iranian nuclear program—in fact, Risen wrote, the operation could have accelerated it.

In a sworn affidavit filed in 2011, and in a recently rejected appeal to the US Supreme Court, Risen has argued that his reporting served the public good. Published at a time when military action in Iran seemed possible, State of Fear revealed how much of the effort to gather information on Iran’s nuclear capability was not just shoddy but dangerous—even, in the case of Operation Merlin, helping Iran get closer to building a nuclear weapon.

The Bush administration did not see it that way. In 2008, Bush’s Justice Department subpoenaed Risen, demanding that he reveal his source—or face jail time for contempt of court. After taking office in 2009, the Obama administration renewed the Bush-era subpoena and continued to try to identify and prosecute Risen’s source. Justice Department staff believe they know who the source was—an ex-CIA operations officer named Jeffrey Sterling, who was previously an on-the-record source for Risen—but they want Risen to confirm their hunch and fill in a few details. In legal filings, Justice Department lawyers have called Risen a witness to “serious crimes that implicate the national security of the United States” and argued that “there are few scenarios where the United States’ interests in securing information is more profound and compelling than in a criminal prosecution like this one.”

If Risen is called to court to testify but fails to show up or refuses to talk, he’s likely to become the first reporter since Judith Miller in 2005 to be sentenced to jail time for refusing to divulge a source.


Obama May Soon Send This Reporter to Jail. Here Are the Embarrassing Secrets He Exposed.

Posted in Anchor, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Radius, Sterling, Uncategorized, Venta, Vintage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Obama May Soon Send This Reporter to Jail. Here Are the Embarrassing Secrets He Exposed.

The Fault in Our Stars (Unabridged) – John Green

alt : http://a3.phobos.apple.com/us/r30/Music2/v4/d6/e9/13/d6e91336-3836-1f52-fead-931e784850a9/mzaf_6179231601931448040.aac.m4ahttp://a3.phobos.apple.com/us/r30/Music2/v4/d6/e9/13/d6e91336-3836-1f52-fead-931e784850a9/mzaf_6179231601931448040.aac.m4a

Excerpt from:  

The Fault in Our Stars (Unabridged) – John Green

Posted in alo, FF, GE, ONA, PUR, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Fault in Our Stars (Unabridged) – John Green