After three years of trying to solve their self-imposed debt crisis, the Jefferson County, Alabama, commissioners threw in the towel on Wednesday and declared bankruptcy. The bankruptcy, involving over $4 billion in debts owed by the county, will be costly to the banks who loaned the money, the private investors who participated in the bond offerings, the guarantors of the debt, and most especially, the taxpayers of Montgomery.
It’s already proven costly to Charles LeCroy, the JP Morgan broker who persuaded the county to refinance its debt in 2004, who was indicted by the SEC in 2009 for fraud in a separate case. And for Larry Langford, a county commissioner at the time, who was sentenced to 15 years in jail for fraud in the present case.
The seeds for the bankruptcy were planted back in 1994 when the Environmental Protection Agency demanded that Jefferson County build a new sewer system. The county complied and raised money through a bond offering that generated $3 billion which was used to build the new plant. LeCroy was the original broker involved in the deal and when he moved to JPMorgan, he used his position to persuade the county to refinance the bonds at lower cost, using something called derivatives. The refinance would lower the county’s interest payments and generate some cash for the county as well. It was that offer and acceptance of a deal that looked awfully good — too good — that set the stage for the bankruptcy filing on Wednesday.
Update, November 11, 2011: The joint resolution, S.J. Res. 27, to roll back the EPA's cross-state air pollution rule was rejected by the Senate by 56-41 on November 10.
The recent release of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study, which showed a worldwide temperature increase of about 1°C since 1950, was heralded by many as proof of global warming. Some skeptics, however, noted that the BEST data also showed that temperatures had remained unchanged for the past decade, suggesting that any warming trend had ended around the turn of the century.
Meteorologist and climate-science blogger Anthony Watts has gone those skeptics one better. Having analyzed U.S. temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, Watts declared in a column for the Daily Caller: “The trend for the continental United States for the past 10 years is not flat, but cooling.”
Watts broke the data down by winter, summer, and annual temperatures in each of nine designated regions in the continental United States. For wintertime he found that “every region … has a negative temperature trend for the last decade,” ranging from -1.3°F in the Western Region (California and Nevada) to -8.74°F in the East North Central Region (Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan).
A bipartisan coalition in Congress is going after a European Union scheme to impose carbon taxes on Americans flying to and from Europe, overwhelmingly approving a bill to stop the “illegal” tax. The EU’s CO2 regime is so unpopular that governments around the world and even the United Nations have also asked the bloc to back down.
The European carbon plan would force all airlines flying to or from Europe — regardless of where they took off or their destination — to participate in the EU’s “Emissions Trading System.” Due to begin in January of next year, the scheme means each flight would have to acquire so-called “carbon credits” to offset the CO2 released during flight.
On Wednesday, the state of North Dakota joined several power cooperatives in filing a lawsuit against the Attorney General of the neighboring state of Minnesota over Minnesota's restrictions on emissions from out-of-state electricity generators. The law involved in the controversy, Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act (NGEA), was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by then-Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2007.
With public acceptance of the theory of manmade global warming steadily waning, a new book that exposes the shoddy “science” peddled by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is offering further proof that there is little reason to give credence to the “doomsday” threats issued by globalists and environmental extremists.
The IPCC has been troubled by a series of scandals in recent years, several of which center directly on its chairman — Rajendra Pachauri — who received (on behalf of the IPCC) the Nobel Prize with former Vice President Al Gore in 2007. In the aftermath of the “Climategate” revelations, which raised fundamental questions about the "scientific" character of the entire theory of manmade global warming, a series of less memorable, but still highly significant, scandals erupted under Pachauri’s leadership at the IPCC.
A debacle that was quickly named “Glaciergate” involved one of the more bizarre examples of the IPCC allegedly playing “fast and loose” with the facts. As reported for The New American in January 2010, “Glaciergate” involved claims in the supposedly-definitive scientific assessment of the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC regarding the Himalayan glaciers that were not substantiated by science. Pachauri ultimately had to concede that the claim the glaciers would simply melt away by 2035 was “a regrettable error” and that “the whole paragraph, I mean the entire section is wrong.”
A July 21, 2010 memo by John Holdren, director of the Office of Science and Technology and Peter Orzag, director of the Office of Management and the Budget, said that $450 billion, or about three percent of the nation’s GDP, would be spent by public and private sources for research and development with a priority on “solar energy, next-generation biofuels, and sustainable green buildings and building retrofit technologies.”
Through a Freedom of Information Act request, Cybercast News Service (CNS) obtained a copy of the memo, which was directed to all executive branch heads of departments and agencies in developing budget priorities. The communication also demands that “understanding, adapting to and mitigating the impacts of global climate change” be a budget priority, as well as insisting that agencies should
prioritize research for measuring, reporting and verifying greenhouse gas emissions. Support, within coordinated interagency investments in the U.S. Global Change Research Program, an integrated and continuing National Climate Assessment of climate change science, impacts, vulnerabilities, and response strategies, including mitigation and adaptation.…
Agencies should pursue transformational solutions to the Nation’s practical challenges, and budget submission should therefore explain how agencies will support long-term, visionary thinkers proposing high-risk, high-return (or "potentially transformative") research.
As Tea Party supporters cast about for an alternative to the flip-flopping Mitt Romney (and his long history of political liberalism), an increasing number are turning their eyes back to a face from the political past: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
But is Newt Gingrich the new "anti-Romney," or is he simply another Mitt Romney? Despite Gingrich's masterful performance of conservative rhetoric during presidential debates, Tea Party supporters may find Gingrich's record surprisingly liberal and comparable to Romney's record. Conservative opposition to Mitt Romney has focused upon two major issues, Romney's initiation of an individual health care mandate in Massachusetts — which served as the model for Obamacare — and Romney's support for the Wall Street bailouts under the Bush/Obama TARP program.
Gingrich's Support of the Individual Mandate and Federal Health Care
Newt Gingrich has campaigned on a pledge to repeal Obamacare, but he also has a long history of supporting the same government healthcare mandates in Romneycare and Obamacare. In campaign videos, Gingrich insists that “I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals. I fought it for two and a half years at the Center for Health Transformation."
But in a May 15, 2011 interview on NBC's Meet the Press with host David Gregory, Gingrich admitted he has long sought an individual mandate by government:
Two authors of a new study hailed to end the climate change debate once and for all are at odds over what the report actually does prove. Climatologist Judith Curry accuses her colleague and scientific director Richard Muller of another Climategate trick to "hide the decline." Curry and Muller belong to a team of researchers at the University of California known as the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project. While Muller claims their research shows global warming of nearly 1°C since 1950, Curry told The Mail on Sunday, "There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn't stopped. To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data."
The BEST graph of global temperatures over the past 200 years reveals a pronounced spike in temperatures since the mid-20th century. Ignoring the fact that climate change skeptics mainly question whether humans are responsible for global warming (and not whether warming is occurring), Muller asserted in the Wall Street Journal that the data proves "why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer."
But now that other climatologists have had time to analyze BEST's research, a different picture has emerged. Science editor Dr. David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) charted a new graph based on the raw data from BEST. "It is a statistically perfect straight line of zero gradient," announced Whitehouse. "Could it really be the case that Professor Muller has not looked at the data in an appropriate way to see the last ten years clearly?"
Almost eight months after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and devastating tsunami struck Japan, killing or injuring more than 25,000, the death toll from radiation exposure at Japan's storm-ravaged Fukushima Daiiche nuclear power plant stands at zero. Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, admitted as much on Monday in Washington during a roundtable discussion entitled "Fukushima: Lessons Learned," an event sponsored by Georgetown University and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
When a reporter from CNSNews.com asked him about radiation exposure deaths, Jaczko first jokingly tried to pass the question off to another panel expert but then acknowledged, "There have been no fatalities that we're aware of that are directly related to radiation exposure." He went on to explain that some workers received abnormally high levels of radiation after the disaster both at the plant and through contact with contaminated water, but "nothing that is going to lead to an immediate loss of life."
These results prove what experts have predicted since the quake and tidal wave hit Japan's Pacific coast in March: No one would die from radiation as a result of the incident.