Josh Harkinson

Josh Harkinson

Reporter

Born in Texas and based in San Francisco, Josh covers tech, labor, drug policy, and the environment. PGP public key.

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How High Up Goes Climate Change Censorship?

| Fri Oct. 20, 2006 10:28 PM EDT

In September the journal Nature reported that a government agency was suppressing science on links between global warming and hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration blocked release of a report that suggests global warming is contributing to the frequency and strength the storms, Nature said. At the time, NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher disputed the story, saying the report was only an internal document and that the agency could not take an official position on the issue. But new evidence has turned up that contradicts his claim.

According an update released by the Society of Environmental Journalists:

House Science Committee Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) on Oct. 4 released the text of a NOAA internal e-mail that seemed to directly contradict that assertion, since it said that the document had been cleared for publication by NOAA top brass. . .Gordon's letter outlines a detailed sequence of events that seems to indicate that the disputed (report) had passed clearance for publication all the way up to Lautenbacher's level, and that it was stopped when clearance was sought from political appointees at the Department of Commerce, which oversees NOAA.

We should soon see who at Commerce was responsible; NOAA must comply with Gordon's request for more info by Monday.

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Suddenly, Democrats are the Official Morality- and Anti-Terrorism Party

| Mon Oct. 9, 2006 10:20 PM EDT

Yep, it's official. In the span of a week, the Democratic Party has gone from being the party of dissolute, weak-kneed peaceniks to being the party of morally upstanding security men—according to, of all people, Americans.

A Newsweek poll released Saturday found that more Americans trust Democrats to "do a better job of handling moral values" than trust Republicans—42 percent vs 36 percent. And a USA Today poll gave Democrats a 5-point edge on fighting terrorism, which is astonishing considering the so-called War on Terror as been the heart of GOP's campaign.

The lead could evaporate as Republicans dump their huge war chests into attack ads, but for the moment one could be forgiven for feeling a sense of awe: not since well before 9/11 have the Democrats so thorougly socked it to Republicans on the GOP's home turf.

Which Is Worse: The U.S. Torturing British Residents or Britain Not Taking Them Back?

| Mon Oct. 2, 2006 9:40 PM EDT

You know the War on Terror is a joke when the U.S. and Britain are reduced to bizarre bickering over what to do with Britain's share of the Gitmo detainees. It seems cooperation on the matter extends only so far as championing the cause of moral depravity. The London Guardian revealed today that the U.S. has been holding at least nine former British residents at Guantanamo, but the U.K. only wants to take back one of them. That might sound kind of understandable, in a callous, self-interested way, if the UK wasn't arguing in the same breath that the men pose very little threat to anyone. These are, after all, people who have never been convicted on terrorism charges. The Brits pointed out as much in response to a demand by our government that any of the men it releases to the UK be essentially spied on 24/7. The Brits said that would be too expensive and noted that the men "do not pose a sufficient threat." So why do they only want back one guy out of nine? Only they know. Perhaps they're worried that men who have been tortured four years running might not be very socially well adjusted. Even though the men are scheduled for release, their lawyers say they are still being exposed to inhuman treatment, such as extremes of cold and heat--all too literally making for a depraved game of hot potato.

By the Numbers: Why We Need a Timetable For Leaving Iraq

| Fri Sep. 29, 2006 8:55 PM EDT

President George Bush has often stressed that if America wins the hearts and minds of Iraqis, they will stop killing our troops and each other and the country will stabilize. For Bush, that means rooting out Al Qaeda, a strategy that the recently released National Intelligence Estimate dramatically showed isn't working; the presence of the U.S. in Iraq is recruiting terrorists faster than we can kill them. Perhaps a better way to win over Iraqis would be to (gasp!) listen to what they think we should do and leave. According government and independent polls released this week, more than 70 percent of Iraqis want U.S. troops to quit Iraq within a year, arguing that a pullout would make the country more secure and decrease sectarian violence.

Bush has argued that setting a timetable for withdraw from Iraq would only embolden insurgents. The polls suggest he's wrong. Iraqi support for attacks on U.S.-led forces has grown over the past year to a majority position—now six in ten. The independent poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes found that Iraqis who support the attacks also believe the U.S. plans to establish permanent military bases in their country. A majority of Iraqis said they'd be less supportive of attacks on U.S. troops, "if the U.S. made a commitment to withdraw from Iraq according to a timetable."

Our congress is not entirely deaf to Iraqi concerns. A rider in a defense spending bill that passed the House Wednesday would ban construction in Iraq of permanent U.S. bases. But Bush needs to go much further and set a timetable for withdraw. The independent poll found that a whopping 91 percent of Iraqis, including majorities of all ethnic groups, supported a pullout of U.S. troops within two years. Making even that kind of modest commitment would go a long way towards getting Iraqis on our side.

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