Daily Archives: January 14, 2008

New study supports previous work: Antarctica is melting

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A comprehensive study of Antarctica’s ice confirms that the polar cap is shrinking. In 2006 alone, Antarctica lost nearly 200 billion tonnes of ice, researchers say — the equivalent of a global sea level rise of more than half a millimetre. That’s 75% more than losses in 1996, they add.

The study follows on a 2006 report that also concluded the rate of ice loss from glaciers melting and sliding away is greater than the gain from snow (see “Antarctica is shrinking”). That report concluded that from 2002 to 2005, Antarctica lost an average of 152 cubic kilometres (139 billion tonnes) a year.

“It reinforces the finding that the Antarctic is losing mass — which is still not a well-accepted result,” says Eric Rignot, an ice sheet expert at the University of California at Irvine and head of the team that reports the new result today in Nature Geoscience 1. “Doing it with an independent technique is very important,” he adds. Both groups used satellite data, but based on different techniques.

Andrew Shepherd, who studies global ice sheet dynamics at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, says Rignot’s findings are in good agreement with his2 and other recent studies. He says the net losses in ice mass are very similar to losses he has calculated for Greenland (see “Glacial pace picks up”).

Isabella Velicogna, now a colleague of Rignot’s at Irvine, led the 2006 work that also showed Antarctic ice loss. Her study was based on gravity measurements and had more data points, but over a shorter time period. She says her and Rignot’s results are in good agreement. “We’re both seeing a trend that is significant.”

The IPCC report (which is proving to be too conservative) did not suggest that Antarctic melting was imminent. But it’s happening.  Rignot:

“Each time I look at some new data, I am astonished.”

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Yes, it is getting warmer

The deny-ers have a new tactic; contending that warming has stopped. No.

1998 was a very warm year, yes, and that was “above the curve”. Then temperatures dropped more to the trend line. And they are continuing to trend upwards. The red line shows the yearly average surface temperatures. The other lines show the long term trends for various periods, ie 5 years, ten years, etc. Climate is a long term trend.

Click to enlarge.

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Romney is toast

You heard it here first. Mitt Romney is goin’ down. He’s gonna lose in his home state of Michigan, and after that it’s just a matter of how long he circles the drain.

If there is a local Republican hero in Michigan, it is ex-governor Bill Milliken, from Traverse City. Milliken is now endorsing John McCain in the Michigan primary tomorrow, and gives Mitt Romney a few hard spanks.

Michigan’s most famous Republican moderate, former Gov. William G. Milliken, has endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain in Tuesday’s presidential primary, a move that many no doubt will view as a slap to Mitt Romney.

Milliken served as lieutenant governor to Romney’s father, George, from 1965 to 1969 and succeeded him as governor. …

Milliken, who was Michigan’s longest-serving governor, from 1969-1982, had pointed words for Romney, who was Massachusetts’ governor from 2003-2007.

“I was a great admirer of his father,” Milliken said. “But Mitt Romney has been a disappointment to me because he has changed his socially responsible positions he took as governor of Massachusetts. I don’t have the respect for him that I had for his father.”

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Filed under John McCain for president of Del Boca Vista, Mitt Romney: double guantanamo, Politics, Republican politicians: are any of them normal, Wordpress Political Blogs

Sunni “Awakening” forces in Iraq: just another sectarian militia

From Dahr Jamail:

The newly formed ‘Awakening’ forces set up by the U.S. military are bringing new conflict among people.

For months now the U.S. military has been actively building what it calls ‘Awakening’ forces and “concerned local citizens” in an effort to reduce attacks on occupation forces.

Members of the forces, which comprise primarily former resistance fighters and tribal groups, are paid 300 dollars monthly. There are at present about 80,000 recruits to these groups. The U.S. military plans to cap the number at 85,000.

According to the U.S. military, 82 percent of the members are Sunni.

The forces, which are opposed by the Iraqi government led by U.S.-appointed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, are also being strongly criticised by Sunni residents in Baghdad and other cities.

“The armed groups called ‘Awakening’ are now the only powerful players in many Sunni areas in Baghdad, and so they show their power the way others did,” Qussay al-Tai’i, a lawyer from Saydiya town southwest of Baghdad told IPS. “It seems that violence has become routine procedure for American soldiers, Iraqi security men and now the so-called Awakening fighters.”

Witnesses from the area who have recently fled to Baghdad told IPS that more than 200 residents have been arrested by Awakening fighters supported by the al-Muthanna battalion of the Iraqi army.

“They came and arrested my 14 and 17-year-old sons,” said Hajja Um Ahmed. “I told them my sons are only schoolboys who did nothing wrong, but they pushed me away.”

Saydiya residents are worried that some of the detainees will be executed as others were in Fallujah and other areas where ‘Awakening’ fighters have taken over.

“They will kill them in cold blood and throw their bodies in garbage dumps,” the terrified father of a 35-year-old detainee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told IPS. “They told my son when they took him that they would cut off his head, and it seems that they meant it.”

“They have spread their spies all over the area and threatened us with arrest if we ever talk about this to the press,” a merchant who did not give his name told IPS. “You too must be careful because they really hate journalists.”

The Sunni religious group, The Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), has condemned the detentions, and says the occupation forces and the current government are responsible for the safety of the detained.

“We draw the world’s attention to the new wave of detentions and executions by this new toy of the occupation,” Sheikh Hatam Ali of the AMS told IPS in Baghdad. “Thousands of Iraqis are being detained, tortured and executed while the U.S. occupation and its illegitimate so-called Iraqi government tell the world lies about reconciliation and justice among Iraqis.” U.S. military units apparently did not interfere with raids conducted by the Iraqi army and the ‘Awakening’ fighters in Saydiya. The raids have added to the large numbers of people detained.

In November 2007, the International Committee of the Red Cross announced that around 60,000 people were currently detained in Iraq. “They are still waiting for their problem to be solved, and the Iraqi government does not seem willing to solve it,” Luqman Mohammad, a journalist and human rights activist in Baghdad told IPS. “This country needs a comprehensive solution by the whole international community.”

‘Awakening’ forces have been widely criticised for corruption and for brutal tactics. Many speak of them as “gangs”, “criminals”, “dogs of the Americans”, and “thieves.”

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Filed under Bush blunders worldwide, Fred Kagan:an idiot running a war, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iraq, Politics

The United Arab Republics: Bush’s idea of paradise

If you want to know what kind of “democracy” George Bush has been trying to spread, read smintheus at dkos.

…bizarrely, Bush described the Emirates – an oligarchy where government officials are appointed rather than elected – as a model society for others to emulate ….

Well, Bush’s flattering portrait does apply at least to a small minority of the Emirates’ population. However some 80% of residents, immigrants who make up nearly the entire workforce in the U.A.E., have few rights, no chance to become citizens, and virtually no opportunity for improving their lot.

Quite the opposite, immigrant construction workers (who built the opulent hotel Bush spoke in) are routinely cheated out of wages, restricted in their movement, and forced to toil in dangerous conditions. Death and injury are common. Domestic workers are treated worse, if anything. The abuse is so pronounced that it sparked rioting in 2006. Meanwhile those who try to defend human rights in the country are harassed by the government.

On top of that, many immigrants to the U.A.E. are essentially slaves, as the U.S. State Dept. reported last June….

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Filed under Bush blunders worldwide, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran, Iraq, perpetual war: fascism in disguise, Racism, Somalia, Torture: you're next, Wordpress Political Blogs