Number of U.S. servicemen and women who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan having lost at least one limb.
“The first cracks in the united front over Iraq between Tony Blair and President Bush appeared last night as the Prime Minister offered Iran and Syria the prospect of dialogue over the future of Iraq and the Middle East.”
Columnist Samuelson’s attack on the UK’s important Stern Commission Report does more than merely ignore key greenhouse-gas-reducing technologies. Samuelson titles his piece “Greenhouse Guessing,” because he (mistakenly) thinks that determining the impact of global warming is a guessing game:
The other great distortion in Stern’s report involves global warming’s effects. No one knows what these might be, because we don’t know how much warming might occur, when, where or how easily people might adapt. Stern’s horrific specter distills many of the most terrifying guesses, including some imagined for the 22nd century, and implies that they’re imminent. The idea is to scare people while reassuring them that policies to avert calamity, if started now, would be fairly easy and inexpensive.
Two points must be made. First, a great many people know what the effects of global warming will be. They are called climate scientists. And most of them have been increasingly warning about the same kind of serious climate impacts the Stern report worries about, such as mega-droughts and sea level rise up to 13 feet this century, not the next one.
Second, the phrase “we don’t know how much warming might occur,” is only true because scientists model a variety of scenarios. For instance NASA models one scenario where we start action to combat climate change immediately, which has relatively moderate impacts, and a business-as-usual case (BAU) where we delay serious action, which leaves to future generations massive sea level rise (ultimately 80 feet or more) and horrific species extinction.
If we listen to Samuelson, we end up with the second scenario. Delay is the one sure way to turn “terrifying guesses” into terrifying impacts.
Talking Wire below I mentioned that I’d always found the “teaching to the test” critique of No Child Left Behind to be fairly unpersuasive. In one of his rare bits of persuasive-to-me rhetoric, George W. Bush observed “I’ve heard people say you’re teaching the test; if you teach a child to read, they’ll pass the test.” That seemed right to me. In some subjects — history comes to mind — I can imagine an effective “teach the test” method that doesn’t actually impart any historical knowledge. For reading and basic math skills, however, the easiest way to teach kids to pass a test seemed to me to be teaching reading and basic math. Indeed, I recall that my AP Physics class involved a hefty test-prep element, but fundamentally this was accomplished by . . . teaching me Newtonian Mechanics.
That said, I thought Episode 9 of The Wire did, in fact, successfully dramatize an example of “teaching the test” in a plausible way. Craig Jerald at Education Sector steps up to the plate to try and un-worry me. He’s only semi-convincing. He brings good evidence to bear that real teaching is a more effective way of improving test scores than is simple test prep. That, however, isn’t evidence that schools are not, in fact, doing what The Wire portrays them as doing. What’s more, the presumption behind the whole fix-the-schools drive is that the schools were doing a bad job ex ante of teaching reading and math. So you have a bunch of people who have not, historically, hit upon good methods of imparting reading and math scores to their kids. Now you tell them there will be consequences unless test scores go up. Sure, the best way to get them to go up would be to start teaching reading and math better. But if you’re talking about a bad school, then presumably the teachers and administrators haven’t found a way to get this done. So, instead they adopting the semi-effective method of doing narrow test prep. And the scores go up — at least somewhat. Then we proclaim ourselves cured of the bad schools problem. And yet, nobody’s learned.
Now, on the other hand, as true as that might be, it’s not clear how not testing would make things any better.
says former New York Times reporter Judith Miller. “(A post) starts as a rumor and within 24 hours it’s repeated as fact.” Miller said blogs “don’t post corrections when they learn that what they have posted is wrong,” but added that she was “glad to welcome them as long as they agree to the standards.” When not helping blogs improve their correction standards, Miller peddled false intelligence from the White House and Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi that helped convince Americans that Iraq had WMD.
James Inhofe, the outgoing chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, is spending his last days in power attacking a children’s book on climate change. The book, published by the United Nations in March, is “based on the theme of climate change and on what children can do to mitigate effects of climate change.” Inhofe’s staff breathlessly notes, “The book features colorful drawings and large text to appeal to young children.”
Inhofe claims the book conveys inaccurate information about climate change to children. Actually, it’s Inhofe’s press release that’s inaccurate. Here’s an example:
“The morning after his dream, Tore sets out on a quest for knowledge about the dangers of catastrophic manmade global warming. A “snowy owl” informs Tore that “the planet’s heating up” and that both the Arctic and Antarctica “are warming almost twice as fast as elsewhere.” [EPW Note: The Arctic, according to the International Arctic Research Center was warmer during the 1930's than today and both the journals Science and Nature have published studies recently finding -- on balance -- Antarctica is both cooling and gaining ice.]
So, Inhofe claims Antarctica is gaining ice. There is only one study that examined all of the ice sheet on Antarctica. The study was published this March and, using NASA satellites, found, “The Antarctic ice sheet is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year.”
Some right-wing groups have used a study by Curt Davis to claim Antarctica is gaining ice. But Davis’ study only looked at the interior of the continent. Since global warming leads to more precipitation, increased snow on the interior of Antarctica is consistent with climate change. In June, Davis told ThinkProgress that using his study to claim Antarctica is gaining ice is “completely wrong.”
We could go on, but you get the idea.
This isn’t the first children’s book that Inhofe has attacked. He also smeared a book for children written by respected New York Times reporter Andy Revkin. Read Revikin’s response here.
Yesterday, in an interview with NPR, Richard Perle, a prominent neoconservative and leading proponent for the war in Iraq, insisted that Saddam Hussein had ties to al Qaeda. He stated that anyone who believes otherwise is “simply wrong” because he’s “seen the evidence.”
But the report by the Senate Intelligence Committee in September concluded that there was no relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda:
Postwar findings indicate that Saddam Hussein was distrustful of al-Qa’ida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime, refusing all requests from al Qa’ida to provide material or operational support. Debriefings of key leaders of the former Iraqi regime indicate that Saddam distrusted Islamic radicals in general, and al Qa’ida in particular… Debriefings also indicate that Saddam issued a general order that Iraq should not deal with al Qa’ida. No postwar information suggests that the Iraqi regime attempted to facilitate a relationship with bin Ladin. (p. 105)
Perle is no longer a government official. There’s no way he saw any intelligence that the Senate Intelligence Committee didn’t.
Full transcript below: Read more
will be named chairman of the Republican National Committee, replacing Ken Mehlman, according to CNN. Martinez will not give up his Senate seat.
I had some doubts about The Wire‘s mojo after Episode 8, but Episode 9 has me completely back on track. For a while now I’ve been a little puzzled by political debates about “teaching to the test” when school systems implement test-based accountability metrics. Number 8 handled this question in a way that I found dramatically clumsy. Episode 9, however, by hewing to the time-honored “show me, don’t tell me” dictum made for better television and even has me semi-convinced of its political point, so kudos. The scene with the kids at Ruth’s Chris was fantastic (as was the dice) and, in a typically Wireish fashion served to nicely underscore the point Prop Joe was making about Baltimore players’ dubious notions of what “running away” would entail — lots of people are conceptually trapped by the Charm City Game, almost literally incapable of imagining what it would mean to get out of a bad situation even when they recognize that the game is likely to kill them. I continued to be a bit puzzled by the action in the Hall — discussion of which will get spoiler-y and I know some friends of mine haven’t seen the episode so it goes below the fold.
Time’s ’94 postelection cover touted “G.O.P. Stampede,” while its ’06 cover asserts “the center is the new place to be.”