Well, not exactly. In our big package on global-warming deniers last year, Bill McKibben dinged Michael Crichton's State of Fear for combining "all the clichés of pulp fiction (heaving breasts, cannibals, poisoning by octopi)" with a deliberate misreading of the science of climate change. After quietly stewing for two years, Crichton has struck back. From today's New York Timesreview of his latest distraction for cross-country fliers: "Next does occasionally turn ham-handed: one of its resident idiots is a whiny environmentalist who reads Mother Jones and thinks genetic modification could make cool protest art." Snap!
Meanwhile, having conclusively disproved global warming, Crichton has moved on. According to his website, "Michael has completed all interviews/speaking engagements regarding State of Fear and related themes and will not be revisiting these subjects in the future." Guess not even breasts and cannibals could convince Hollywood to buy that screenplay. Better luck with this one, Michael!
That's the theory put forth by Laurie David in the Washington Post, describing how the National Science Teachers Association rejected an offer to send 50,000 free copies of Al Gore's shockumentary to schools. The NSTA claimed that it didn't want to distribute materials from "special interests" and besides, the film offered "little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members." And, oh yeahit might tick off the global-warming deniers at Exxon:
But there was one more curious argument in the e-mail: Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters." One of those supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp.
That's the same Exxon Mobil that for more than a decade has done everything possible to muddle public understanding of global warming and stifle any serious effort to solve it.
While the NSTA won't distribute science-based documentaries like Gore's, it does promote curricula from companies including Exxon:
And it has been doing so for longer than you may think. NSTA says it has received $6 million from the company since 1996, mostly for the association's "Building a Presence for Science" program, an electronic networking initiative intended to "bring standards-based teaching and learning" into schools, according to the NSTA Web site. Exxon Mobil has a representative on the group's corporate advisory board. And in 2003, NSTA gave the company an award for its commitment to science education.
So much for special interests and implicit endorsements.
Exxon may be funding more than just innocuous science materials. Laurie reports that its free lesson plans for teachers include "propaganda challenging global warming."
A new survey by WorldPublicOpinion.org reveals the depth of Iraqi antipathy towards the contiued American presence in their country. Now a solid majority of all Iraqis, including once pro-U.S. Baghdad Shias, say they want us out of there in a year:
Eight out of ten Shias in Baghdad (80%) say they want foreign forces to leave within a year (72% of Shias in the rest of the country), according to a poll conducted by World Public Opinion in September. None of the Shias polled in Baghdad want U.S.-led troops to be reduced only "as the security situation improves," a sharp decline from January, when 57 percent of the Shias polled by WPO in the capital city preferred an open-ended U.S presence.
This brings Baghdad Shias in line with the rest of the country. Seven out of ten Iraqis overallincluding both the Shia majority (74%) and the Sunni minority (91%)say they want the United States to leave within a year.
One statistical difference worth noting: Baghdad Shias, unlike most other Iraqis, do not favor disarming sectarian militias even though 59% say a U.S. withdrawal will lead to more interethnic violence. That's not just a sign of how bad things are in the capital but also an ominous hint of the power struggle to come. But while the U.S. may be providing a temporary buffer, that doesn't mean it's seen as the good guy who simply needs to holster his gun and ride into the sunset. Nearly 60% of all Shias say they support attacks on American-led troops. And 100% of Baghdad Sunnis and 91% of Sunnis elsewhere say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces.
I try to ignore press releases like this, but this post-election PR stunt caught my attention when it popped into my inbox:
After the mid-term elections, six senators and twenty-one representatives are now out of a job, with five House incumbents still waiting to hear. To help these civic-minded men and women in their search for a new career and a new life, Ten Speed Press is donating a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute?the world's best-selling job-hunting, career-changing, and soul-searching manualto every incumbent who lost a seat in the election. Books have been mailed out and will arrive on the desks of the outgoing legislators in time for Christmas.
Pretty cleverwho knew that book was even still around? I like this bit of career advice for soon-to-be former California Rep. Richard Pombo, who has said he will become a lobbyist for property-rights (read: anti-environmental) groups as soon as the revolving door is opened for him: "Mr. Pombo may be an experienced agenda-pusher, but perhaps he may be better suited for a job as an actuary or a florist." I dunno. I think Pombo's parachute is any color but green.
In today's Gitmo news... The Miami Herald reports that the Pentagon has big plans for the detention center therea $75 million-plus "legal compound" to house the long-awaited military commissions. Some features of the offshore hall of justice:
It would have two courtrooms; housing for up to 1,200 U.S. forces, lawyers, members of the news media and other visitors; a 100-car motor pool; an 800-person dining facility; conference and closed-circuit television facilities and a secure work space for classified material.
Amnesty International has slammed the Pentagon for planning "a permanent homage to its failed experiment in second-class justice." The scheme still has to get through Congress.
Meanwhile, a federal judge has denied a prisoner's request to get a cardiac procedure off-site. The prisoner is Saifullah Paracha, AKA Detainee 1094, who needs a cardiac catheterization.
Paracha's lawyer said that his client complained that several simple diagnostic examinations were not performed adequately by doctors at Guantanamo Naval Hospital. Gaillard Hunt, Paracha's lawyer, said that his client has had his hands and feet shackled when being examined at the base hospital and that several attempts to perform an electrocardiogram, or EKG, proved difficult for base medical staff.
The judge said he was "troubled by the shackling allegations," but ruled against Paracha anyway. Paracha caught our attention a few months ago for being a bit of a wise guy in one of his tribunal hearings.
And in a quiet milestone, the U.S. has released "the last remaining Guantanamo detainees determined to be no longer enemy combatants." The three prisoners are being sent to Albania, leaving behind 430 detainees in Cuba, awaiting their day in the shiny new coutroom.