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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cellphone Searches

Cellphone Search Without Warrant Declared Illegal

The New York Times
December 26, 2009

The Ohio Supreme Court has struck an important blow for privacy rights, ruling that the police need a warrant to search a cellphone. The court rightly recognized that cellphones today are a lot more than just telephones, that they hold a wealth of personal information and that the privacy interest in them is considerable. This was the first such ruling from a state supreme court. It is a model for other courts to follow.

Searches generally require warrants, but courts have carved out limited categories in which they are not needed. One of these is that police officers are allowed, when they arrest people, to search them and the area immediately surrounding them, as well as some kinds of containers in their possession.

When the police arrested Antwaun Smith on drug charges they seized his cellphone and searched it, examining his call records. The police did not have a warrant or the consent of Mr. Smith.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this month, by a 4-to-3 vote, that the search violated the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Rather than seeing a cellphone as a simple closed container, the majority noted that modern cellphones — especially ones that permit Internet access — are “capable of storing a wealth of digitized information.”

This is information, the court said, for which people reasonably have a high expectation of privacy, and under established Fourth Amendment principles, police officers must get a search warrant before they can look through call logs or examine other data. The court wisely decided that it made no sense to try to distinguish among various kinds of cellphones based on what specific functions they have. All cellphones, the court said, fall under the search warrant requirement.

Few federal courts have considered the issue of cellphone searches, and they have disagreed about whether a warrant should be required. The Ohio ruling eloquently makes the case for why the very personal information that new forms of technology aggregate must be accorded a significant degree of privacy.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Obama Will Win: Why and How His Critics from the Left and Right Will be Proven Wrong

By Frank Schaeffer
21st December 2009

Before he'd served even one year President Obama lost the support of the easily distracted Left and engendered the white hot rage of the hate-filled Right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds --- including this white, straight, 57-year-old, former religious Rightwing agitator, now progressive writer and (given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader) this unlikely Obama supporter --- are sticking with our President. Why? Because he is succeeding.

We faithful Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us.

Obama's steady supporters will be proven right. Obama's critics will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged at best and shriveled hate mongers at worst...

The Context of the Obama Presidency

Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe, the Second World War and the Depression has any president faced more adversity. Not since the Civil War has any President led a more bitterly divided country. Not since the introduction of racial integration has any President faced a more consistently short-sighted and willfully ignorant opposition - from both the Right and Left.

As the President's poll numbers have fallen so has his support from some on the Left that were hailing him as a Messiah not long ago; all those lefty websites and commentators that were falling all over themselves on behalf of our first black president during the 2008 election.

The Left's lack of faith has become a self-fulfilling "prophecy" --- snipe at the President and then watch the poll numbers fall [1] and then pretend you didn't have anything to do with it!

Here is what Obama faced when he took office-- none of which was his fault:

•An ideologically divided country to the point that America was really two countries
•Two wars; one that was mishandled from the start, the other that was unnecessary and immoral
•The worst economic crisis since the depression
•America's standing in the world at the lowest point in history
•A country that had been misled into accepting the use of torture of prisoners of war
•A health care system in free fall
•An educational system in free fall
•A global environmental crisis of history-altering proportions (about which the Bush administration and the Republicans had done nothing)
•An impasse between culture warriors from the Right and Left
•A huge financial deficit inherited from the terminally irresponsible Bush administration…
And those were only some of the problems sitting on the President's desk!

'Help' from the Right?

What did the Republicans and the religious Right, libertarians and half-baked conspiracy theorists --- that is what the Republicans were reduced to by the time Obama took office --- do to "help" our new president (and our country) succeed? They claimed that he wasn't a real American, didn't have an American birth certificate, wasn't born here, was secretly a Muslim, was a white-hating "racist" [2], was secretly a communist, was actually the Anti-Christ, (!) and was a reincarnation of Hitler and wanted "death panels" to kill the elderly!

They not-so-subtly called for his assassination through the not-so-subtle use of vile signs held at their rallies and even a bumper sticker quoting Psalm 109:8 [3]. They organized "tea parties" to sound off against imagined insults [4] and all government in general and gathered to howl at the moon. They were led by insurance industry lobbyists and deranged (but well-financed) "commentators" from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh.

The utterly discredited Roman Catholic bishops teamed up with the utterly discredited evangelical leaders to denounce a President who was trying to actually do something about the poor, the environment, to diminish the number of abortions through compassionate programs to help women and to care for the sick! And in Congress the Republican leadership only knew one word: "No!"

In other words the reactionary white, rube, uneducated, crazy American far Right,combined with the educated but obtuse neoconservative war mongers, religious Right shills for big business, libertarian Fed Reserve-hating gold bug, gun-loving crazies, child-molesting acquiescent "bishops", frontier loons and evangelical gay-hating flakes found one thing to briefly unite them: their desire to stop an uppity black man from succeeding at all costs!

'Help' from the Left?

What did the Left do to help their newly elected President? Some of them excoriated Obama because they disagreed with the bad choices he was being forced to make regarding a war in Afghanistan that he'd inherited from the worst president in modern history!

Others stood up and bravely proclaimed that the President's economic policies had "failed" before the President even instituted them! Others said that since all gay rights battles had not been fully won within virtually minutes of the President taking office, they'd been "betrayed"! (Never mind that Obama's vocal support to the gay community is stronger than any other President's has been. Never that mind he signed a new hate crimes law which included language punishing hate crimes against homosexuals for the first time!)

Those that had stood in transfixed legions weeping with beatific emotion on Election Night turned into an angry mob saying how "disappointed" they were that they'd not all immediately been translated to heaven the moment Obama stepped into the White House! Where was the "change"? Contrary to their expectations they were still mere mortals!

And the legion of young new supporters was too busy texting to pay attention for longer than a nanosecond… "Governing"?! What the hell does that world, uh, like mean?"

The President's critics Left and Right all had one thing in common: impatience laced with little-to-no sense of history (let alone reality) thrown in for good measure. Then, of course, there were the white, snide know-it-all commentators/talking heads who just couldn't imagine that maybe, just maybe they weren't as smart as they thought they were and certainly not as smart as their President. He hadn't consulted them, had he? So he must be wrong!

The Obama critics' ideological ideas defined their idea of reality rather than reality defining their ideas --- say, about what is possible in one year in office after the hand that the President had been dealt by fate, or, to be exact, by the American Idiot Nation that voted Bush into office… twice!
[Ed note: Did they vote him into office twice? Or even once? That's a question for another article, on another day. - BF]

Meanwhile back in the reality-based community --- in just 12 short months --- President Obama:

•Continued the draw down the misbegotten war in Iraq
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Thoughtfully and decisively picked the best of several bad choices regarding the war in Afghanistan
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Gave a major precedent-setting speech supporting gay rights
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Restored America's image around the globe
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Banned torture of American prisoners
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Stopped the free fall of the American economy
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Put the USA squarely back in the bilateral international community
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Put the USA squarely into the middle of the international effort to halt global warming
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Stood up for educational reform
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Won a Nobel peace prize
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Moved the trial of terrorists back into the American judicial system of checks and balances
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Did what had to be done to start the slow, torturous and almost impossible process of health care reform that 7 presidents had failed to even begin
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Responded to hatred from the Right and Left with measured good humor and patience
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Stopped the free fall of job losses
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Showed immense personal courage in the face of an armed and dangerous far Right opposition that included the sort of disgusting people that show up at public meetings carrying loaded weapons and carrying Timothy McVeigh-inspired signs about the "blood of tyrants" needing to "water the tree of liberty"...
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
•Showed that he could not only make the tough military choices but explain and defend them brilliantly
(But that wasn't good enough for his critics)
Other than those "disappointing" accomplishments --- IN ONE YEAR --- President Obama "failed"! Other than that he didn't "live up to expectations"!

Who actually has failed...

...are the Americans that can't see the beginning of a miracle of national rebirth right under their jaded noses. Who failed are the smart ass ideologues of the Left and Right who began rooting for this President to fail so that they could be proven right in their dire and morbid predictions. Who failed are the movers and shakers behind our obscenely dumb news cycles that have turned "news" into just more stupid entertainment for an entertainment-besotted infantile country.

Here's the good news: President Obama is succeeding without the help of his lefty "supporters" or hate-filled Republican detractors!

The Future Looks Good

After Obama has served two full terms, (and he will), after his wisdom in moving deliberately and cautiously with great subtlety on all fronts --- with a canny and calculating eye to the Possible succeeds, (it will), after the economy is booming and new industries are burgeoning, (they will be), after the doomsayers are all proven not just wrong but silly: let the record show that not all Americans were panicked into thinking the sky was falling.

Just because we didn't get everything we wanted in the first short and fraught year Obama was in office not all of us gave up. Some of us stayed the course. And we will be proven right.

Merry Christmas (or Happy Holidays, depending on your point of view) to everyone!

P.S. if you agree that Obama is shaping up to be a great president please pass this on and hang in there!

* * *

Frank Schaeffer is the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back [5] and Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism) [6].

His previous articles at The BRAD BLOG [7] can be read here... [8]


URLs in this post:
[1] poll numbers fall:
[2] white-hating "racist":
[3] bumper sticker quoting Psalm 109:8:
[4] sound off against imagined insults:
[5] Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back:
[6] Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism):
[7] The BRAD BLOG:
[8] read here...:


Senate, White House Health Reform Tucks in Gun Rights

By Donna Smith
Smirking Chimp
Dec. 23, 2009

Could we make this stuff up? We cannot get healthcare as a basic human right for one another. But we sure can make sure gun ownership protections are tucked into the Senate health reform bill that is so celebrated as historic by the White House.

It gives a whole new meaning to "kill the bill," doesn't it? Or maybe killing people in a number of ways just didn't really matter all that much in this process so far. Protecting the money and the power is what mattered. Is there any better explanation for including gun rights issues within healthcare legislation?

In an Associated Press report [1] we read, "Gun rights lobbyists pushed for language to ban collection of data on gun ownership in the bill."

That's right. Somehow the gun lobby was able to secure its own special little deal to make sure those who wish to brandish guns are able to do so without too much scrutiny.

So, let's get another thing straight from Congress' health reform effort thus far. We cannot possibly protect the right to have healthcare professionals and patients decide on appropriate healthcare treatments without more intervention by private, for-profit insurance companies, but we can add in more protections for those who wish to kill with guns to do so?

I wonder how some of the folks who have endured horrific acts of gun violence in this nation would feel about that being including as a way to improve the nation's healthcare system? Was part of the intent to make sure those who are shot in our cities and schools and workplaces have insurance to cover those traumatic injuries in the future?

Guess I have more stock prices to check today. Health insurance giants. Big Pharma. Gun manufacturers.
Peace on earth, goodwill toward men. And pass the ammo with that, would you please?


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Barack Obama, Inc.

by Cenk Uygur
The Young Turks
Faster Times
December 16, 2009

The man who said he was going to challenge the system, fight corporate lobbyists and change the system now appears to be fighting for the status quo and corporate America at every turn. I call the Republican Party a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America, but now Barack Obama is not far behind. Let me explain.

On health care reform, Obama on the surface appears to be challenging the status quo in a major way and fighting for universal coverage. But what does that mean? The way the Senate bill is written now 30 million new Americans will get insurance coverage. That’s great, right? Yes, it’s great for the private insurance companies. They get all of those new customers and with the help of Barack Obama they defeated any new competition from a public option or expanded Medicare. And now there’s a mandate that everyone must buy insurance from those same companies that Obama was supposedly challenging. Change you can believe in!

You might be thinking, wait a minute that was Lieberman who insisted that we kill the public option and protect the corporations. Yes, but there’ll always be Liebermans in the world. Obama told us that he would fight for us against the corporate sell-outs of the world like Lieberman. And he most certainly did not. Instead, he ordered the other Senate Democrats to stand down and bow their heads to Lieberman. That’s because Obama never wanted the public option. While claiming in public that he thought it was a good idea, behind the scenes he fought to kill it at every turn.

I wasn’t predisposed to think this. I voted for Obama and really did think he was going to bring us some degree of change. I gave him the benefit of the doubt in a hundred different ways. But every time the public option came up, he sent Rahm Emanuel out to knock it down. But it’s not just the public option.

The drug industry also received massive protection from the Obama administration. Some people think Obama is weak and that he can’t enforce his will on stubborn senators. That’s not true. When Byron Dorgan introduced a bill that would allow drug importation from Canada, Obama came down like a ton of bricks on Democratic senators and switched a huge number of votes so that in the end the drug industry won. That cost the American taxpayer nearly $100 billion in the next ten years alone. Score another victory for Barack Obama, Inc.

I could go on and on about the health care bill and tell you dozens of ways that corporate America was protected and how more customers were funneled their way. But there are so many other issues on which Obama has sold out to corporate America that I want to get to those as well. The biggest one being so-called financial reform.

There are so many loopholes in the Obama administration proposals for financial reform that you could drive a campain bus through them. The main problem is regulating derivatives. But instead of banning what Warren Buffet calls financial weapons of mass destruction, or even regulating them, Obama has proposed that we merely note them. Wow.

But even that didn’t happen. Instead, there are two huge loopholes (one for end-users and one for foreign currency swaps, both pushed by the Obama administration) in the so-called requirement to report derivative trades so that in the end it appears 90% of derivatives will not even be reported. Change you can believe in!

How about taxing bonuses like England and France have done? Obama fought against it. How about re-instituting Glass-Steagall like John McCain of all people has suggested (you know you’re a corporate sell-out when McCain outflanks you on the left)? Obama fought against it. How about regulating credit default swaps like Paul Volcker has suggested? Obama fought against it.

Nearly every financial reform proposed has been either killed or watered down by this administration. Whenever someone suggests real reform, Geithner gets sent out to say it can’t be done. Tim Geithner and Rahm Emanuel aren’t doing this on their own. Their boss is giving them their marching orders - protect corporate America at every turn.

On climate change, Obama is threatening to use the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. According to all the reporting coming out of Washington, this is a threat to try to get Congress to pass a mild form of legislation instead. The House version of this bill is already ridiculously weak and the Senate will only make it worse. Corporate America’s win on this issue will be even more impressive.

Right now, the legislation is not even close to making out of the Senate. So, will Obama follow through on his threat and have the EPA regulate? Hell to the no. Given the course he’s on, I guarantee he doesn’t use the EPA (if he really wanted action, he would have already used the EPA; what’s he waiting on?). So, now if you think I’m over-reacting we’ll have a gauge by which to test my theory.

Then there are other issues where Obama has been far, far less progressive than he promised on the campaign. I’m probably more angry about his cave in on civil liberties than any other issue. He’s continuing Bush and Cheney’s clearly un-American policy of indefinite detentions and clearly unconstitutional invasions of privacy through national security letters. The Patriot Act is largely unchanged. And we haven’t even gotten to the escalation of the Afghanistan War (but at least that was promised in the campaign).

But I don’t put the civil liberties and the wars in the same equation as the other issues I mentioned. Why? Because it’s one thing if I disagree with your policies and principles, if they are genuinely held. Ok, that’s a sad day for me but doesn’t necessarily indicate that you’re wrong or unprincipled (no matter how much I might disagree with you). What I mind is the give-aways to corporate lobbyists that have nothing to do with your principles and have everything to do with politics and money. What I mind is when you sell out the American people to protect corporate America. I hate it when the Republicans do it and pretend to be for the little guy. And I hate it when this administration does it and pretends to be for change.

Maybe I should just get used to it. Money runs the world and no matter what a politician - any politician - promises you, they’re going to do what their corporate overlords told them in the end. But I don’t want to get used to it. I want to fight it. I’m not Barack Obama. I actually have hope that we can in fact change the system. That’s the change I believe in and the change that Barack Obama has definitely not delivered so far.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

"Climategate" exposed
Conservative media distort stolen emails in latest attack on global warming consensus

Media Matters
December 01, 2009

SUMMARY: Since the reported theft of emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, conservative media figures have aggressively claimed that those emails undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activities are causing climate change, dubbing the supposed scandal "Climategate." But these critics have largely rested their claims on outlandish distortions and misrepresentations of the contents of the stolen emails, greatly undermining their dubious smears.

CLAIM: Email reveals that Jones used "trick" to distort data and hide decline in temperatures

BECK: How about Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia? "I have just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years to hide the decline." Yes, he's talking about a trick that another scientist previously used in a peer-reviewed journal to apparently hide the decline in temperatures -- incredible. [Fox News' Glenn Beck, 11/23/09]

In a November 23 editorial, Investor's Business Daily stated: "In one e-mail sent to Michael Mann, director of Penn State University's Earth System Science Center, Raymond Bradley, a climatologist at the University of Massachusetts, and Malcolm Hughes, a professor of dendrochronology at the University of Arizona's Laboratory for Tree-Ring Research, Jones speaks of the 'trick' of filling in gaps of data in order to hide evidence of temperature decline."

REALITY: "Decline" refers to unreliable tree-ring data, not instrumental temperatures. In a November 26 article, The Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania, reported that Penn State scientist Michael Mann -- whose "trick" was referenced in Jones' email -- "said his trick, or 'trick of the trade,' for the Nature chart was to combine data from tree-ring measurements, which record world temperatures from 1,000 years ago until 1960, with actual temperature readings for 1961 through 1998" because "scientists have discovered that, for temperatures since 1960, tree rings have not been a reliable indicator." Jones has also stated that it is "well known" that tree ring data "does not show a realistic trend of temperature after 1960," and the CRU has said that "the 'decline' in this set of tree-ring data should not be taken to mean that there is any problem with the instrumental temperature data." In a November 20 post,'s staff, which is comprised of several working climate scientists, including Mann, similarly stated:

As for the 'decline', it is well known that Keith Briffa's maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the "divergence problem"-see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while 'hiding' is probably a poor choice of words (since it is 'hidden' in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

Several scientists have stated that the word "trick" is being misinterpreted. The (UK) Guardian reported in a November 20 article that Bob Ward, director of policy and communications at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said of Jones' email: "It does look incriminating on the surface, but there are lots of single sentences that taken out of context can appear incriminating. ... You can't tell what they are talking about. Scientists say 'trick' not just to mean deception. They mean it as a clever way of doing something -- a short cut can be a trick." RealClimate also explained that "the 'trick' is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term 'trick' to refer to ... 'a good way to deal with a problem', rather than something that is 'secret', and so there is nothing problematic in this at all."

CLAIM: Trenberth's "travesty" email exposes private doubts about whether global warming is occurring

BECK: But first, let's start with the science that has been so settled for all these years. What are these guys saying behind closed doors about their so-called bullet-proof consensus? Well, Kevin Trenberth, he's a climatologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. He wrote, quote: "The fact is, we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it's a travesty that we can't." Incorrect data? Inadequate systems? Yeah. Travesty, pretty good word for it. [Glenn Beck, 11/23/09]

In a November 24 Human Events post, James Delingpole asserted that the Trenberth email reveals a scientist "concealing private doubts about whether the world is really heating up."

Citing the Trenberth email, Robert Tracinski wrote in a November 24 commentary at that "these e-mails show, among many other things, private admissions of doubt or scientific weakness in the global warming theory. In acknowledging that global temperatures have actually declined for the past decade, one scientist asks, 'where the heck is global warming?... The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't.'"

REALITY: Trenberth's email referred to "inadequate" system of observing short-term variability, not long-term trend. In the October 12 email, Trenberth cited "my own article on where the heck is global warming" and wrote: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate" [emphasis added].

Trenberth published similar comments in the journal article he cited. Wired's Threat Level blog reported that Trenberth "says bloggers are missing the point he's making in the e-mail by not reading the article cited in it. That article -- An Imperative for Climate Change Planning (.pdf) -- actually says that global warming is continuing, despite random temperature variations that would seem to suggest otherwise." similarly stated in a November 23 post that "you need to read his recent paper on quantifying the current changes in the Earth's energy budget to realise why he is concerned about our inability currently to track small year-to-year variations in the radiative fluxes." Indeed, the Trenberth article referred to what he called an "incomplete explanation" of short-term climate variations, and maintained that "global warming is unequivocally happening."

CLAIM: Scientists conspired against academic journal because it published dissenting research
In a December 1 editorial, The Washington Times claimed that Mann "threatened journals that had the gall to publish academic research at odds with the global-warming theocracy. Upset that the journal Climate Research had published such a paper, Mr. Mann wrote: 'I think we have to stop considering Climate Research as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal.'"

In a November 27 editorial, The Wall Street Journal wrote:

Mr. Mann noted in a March 2003 email, after the journal "Climate Research" published a paper not to Mr. Mann's liking, that "This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the 'peer-reviewed literature'. Obviously, they found a solution to that -- take over a journal!"

Mr. Mann went on to suggest that the journal itself be blackballed: "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board." In other words, keep dissent out of the respected journals. When that fails, redefine what constitutes a respected journal to exclude any that publish inconvenient views.

REALITY: Mann's email cited specific paper that Climate Research editors and publisher conceded should not have been published. In the March 11, 2003, email, Mann wrote that the paper by astrophysicists Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas "couldn't have cleared a 'legitimate' peer review process anywhere. That leaves only one possibility -- that the peer-review process at Climate Research has been hijacked by a few skeptics on the editorial board." The New York Times reported on August 5, 2003, that the Soon-Baliunas paper "has been heavily criticized by many scientists, including several of the journal editors. The editors said last week that whether or not the conclusions were correct, that analysis was deeply flawed." The Times further noted that the "publisher of the journal, Dr. Otto Kinne, and an editor who recently became editor in chief, Dr. Hans von Storch, both said that in retrospect the paper should not have been published as written" and that von Storch resigned, "saying he disagreed with the peer-review policies":

Advocates for cuts in emissions and scientists who hold the prevailing view on warming said the hearing backfired. It proved more convincingly, they said, that the skeptical scientists were a fringe element that had to rely increasingly on industry money and peripheral scientific journals to promote their work.

The hearing featured Dr. Willie Soon, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a co-author of a study, with Dr. Sallie Baliunas, also an astrophysicist at the center, that said the 20th-century warming trend was unremarkable compared with other climate shifts over the last 1,000 years.

But the Soon-Baliunas paper, published in the journal Climate Research this year, has been heavily criticized by many scientists, including several of the journal editors. The editors said last week that whether or not the conclusions were correct, the analysis was deeply flawed.

The publisher of the journal, Dr. Otto Kinne, and an editor who recently became editor in chief, Dr. Hans von Storch, both said that in retrospect the paper should not have been published as written. Dr. Kinne defended the journal and its process of peer review, but distanced himself from the paper.

"I have not stood behind the paper by Soon and Baliunas," he wrote in an e-mail message. "Indeed: the reviewers failed to detect methodological flaws."

Dr. von Storch, who was not involved in overseeing the paper, resigned last week, saying he disagreed with the peer-review policies.

The Senate hearing also focused new scrutiny on Dr. Soon and Dr. Baliunas's and ties to advocacy groups. The scientists also receive income as senior scientists for the George C. Marshall Institute, a Washington group that has long fought limits on gas emissions. The study in Climate Research was in part underwritten by $53,000 from the American Petroleum Institute, the voice of the oil industry.

Mann: "I support the publication of 'skeptical' papers that meet the basic standards of scientific quality and merit." In response to the controversy surrounding the emails, Mann said that his email "was in response to a very specific incident regarding a paper by Soon and Baliunas published in the journal 'Climate Research.' " 

Mann further stated: "I support the publication of 'skeptical' papers that meet the basic standards of scientific quality and merit. I myself have published scientific work that has been considered by some as representing a skeptical point of view on matters relating to climate change."

CLAIM: Email reveals Mann tried to obscure Medieval Warm Period

Discussing the reportedly stolen emails on ABC News' This Week, George Will claimed that in an email, Mann "said he wished he could delete, get rid of, the medieval warming period. That lasted 600 years." [ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 11/29/09]

In his November 24 Human Events article, Delingpole claimed that the "emails reveal a variety of dubious practices, quite contrary to what might reasonably be expected of a world-renowned climate research institution lavishly funded by the UK government." One "practice" Delingpole cited included "attempting to disguise the inconvenient truth of the Medieval Warm Period (ie the period from about 900 to about 1200 when global mean temperatures were considerably warmer than they are now): '......Phil and I have recently submitted a paper using about a dozen NH records that fit this category, and many of which are available nearly 2K back -- I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2K, rather than the usual 1K, addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to "contain" the putative "MWP", even if we don't yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back....' "

REALITY: Mann said he wanted to identify when MWP began, not "delete, get rid of" it. Mann wrote in the June 4, 2003, email [emphasis added]:

Phil and I have recently submitted a paper using about a dozen NH records that fit this category, and many of which are available nearly 2K back -- I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2K, rather than the usual 1K, addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to "contain" the putative "MWP", even if we don't yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back.

Moreover, according to the November 26 Morning Call article, Mann explained that his email regarding MWP "reflected his desire to identify exactly when the Medieval Warm Period began." From the article:
Mann also said his 2003 e-mail saying ''it would nice to 'contain' the putative 'MWP''' was not a call for scientists to deny the Earth warmed naturally 1,000 years ago. He said it reflected his desire to identify exactly when the Medieval Warm Period began.

CLAIM: Emails were obtained through legitimate means

On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh claimed that the emails "may be from a whistleblower inside the organization who is just unhappy with what's going on," adding that "the bottom line is, the whole global warming -- manmade global warming movement is a fraud. It is a hoax. It's made-up lies." [Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/23/09]

In his Wall Street Journal column, L. Gordon Crovitz claimed that the "emails, released by an apparent whistle-blower who used the name 'FOI,' were written by scientists at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England. Its scientists are high-profile campaigners for the theory of global warming." [The Wall Street Journal, 11/30/09]

REALITY: CRU officials have stated that emails were obtained through "a criminal breach of our security systems." In its initial response to the reported theft, officials at the University of East Anglia stated: "Recently thousands of files and emails illegally obtained from a research server at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have been posted on various sites on the web." In a statement about the controversy, CRU vice chancellor of research Trevor Davies stated: "We are committed to furthering this debate despite being faced with difficult circumstances related to a criminal breach of our security systems and our concern to protect colleagues from the more extreme behaviour of some who have responded in irrational and unpleasant ways to the publication of personal information." Davies further stated, "Although we were confident that our systems were appropriate, experience has shown that determined and skilled people, who are prepared to engage in criminal activity, can sometimes hack into apparently secure systems. Highly-protected government organisations around the world have also learned this to their cost."

CLAIM: Emails undermine global warming consensus

In a November 24 editorial titled, "Hiding evidence of global cooling," The Washington Times claimed that the reportedly stolen CRU emails show that "these revelations of fudged science should have a cooling effect on global-warming hysteria and the panicked policies that are being pushed forward to address the unproven theory." Internet gossip Matt Drudge linked to the Times editorial on the Drudge Report using the headline: "Paper: Junk science exposed among climate-change believers."

Using the headline, "Global Warming's Waterloo?" the Fox Nation linked to a November 23 Gateway Pundit post asserting that "Senator James Inhofe [R-OK] will call for an investigation into" the emails.

On his Fox News show, Sean Hannity stated: "This climate change hoax, now we find out that this institute, in fact, was hiding from the people of Great Britain and the world that, in fact, climate change is a hoax, something I've been saying for a long time." [Fox News' Hannity, 11/24/09]

On his radio show, Limbaugh claimed that the "whole thing's made up" and that "it looks like substantial fraud -- a lot of evidence of substantial fraud in reporting the evidence on global warming." [The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/20/09]

REALITY: Distortions of illegally obtained documents from one group of scientists do not undermine overwhelming consensus. In a statement on the reported theft of the emails, Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, stated that "no individual or small group of scientists is in a position to exclude a peer-reviewed paper from an I.P.C.C. assessment." From Pachauri's statement:

In summary, no individual or small group of scientists is in a position to exclude a peer-reviewed paper from an I.P.C.C. assessment. Likewise, individuals and small groups have no ability to emphasize a result that is not consistent with a range of studies, investigations, and approaches. Every layer in the process (including large author teams, extensive review, independent monitoring of review compliance, and plenary approval by governments) plays a major role in keeping I.P.C.C. assessments comprehensive, unbiased, open to the identification of new literature, and policy relevant but not policy prescriptive.

The unfortunate incident that has taken place through illegal hacking of the private communications of individual scientists only highlights the importance of I.P.C.C. procedures and practices and the thoroughness by which the Panel carries out its assessment. This thoroughness and the duration of the process followed in every assessment ensure the elimination of any possibility of omissions or distortions, intentional or accidental.

NASA's Gavin Schmidt: "There's nothing in the e-mails that shows that global warming is a hoax." Wired's Threat Level blog reported on November 20 that Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said: "There's nothing in the e-mails that shows that global warming is a hoax. ...  There's no funding by nefarious groups. There's no politics in any of these things; nobody from the [United Nations] telling people what to do. There's nothing hidden, no manipulation. It's just scientists talking about science, and they're talking relatively openly as people in private e-mails generally are freer with their thoughts than they would be in a public forum. The few quotes that are being pulled out [are out] of context. People are using language used in science and interpreting it in a completely different way." Schmidt is a contributor to the Real Climate blog, which has stated that some of the stolen CRU emails "involve people" at Real Climate.

NYT: "Hacked material is unlikely to erode the overall argument." The New York Times' Andrew Revkin reported on November 20 that "the evidence pointing to a growing human contribution to global warming is so widely accepted that the hacked material is unlikely to erode the overall argument. However, the documents will undoubtedly raise questions about the quality of research on some specific questions and the actions of some scientists."

UCS: Our understanding of climate science is based "on the rigorous accumulation, testing and synthesis of knowledge." Peter Frumhoff, the director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists and an IPCC author stated, "We should keep in mind that our understanding of climate science is based not on private correspondence, but on the rigorous accumulation, testing and synthesis of knowledge often represented in the dry and factual prose of peer-reviewed literature. The scientific community is united in calling on U.S. policymakers to recognize that emissions of heat-trapping gases must be dramatically reduced if we are to avoid the worst consequences of human-induced climate change."

Yale Project on Climate Change director: "There's no smoking gun in the e-mails from what I've seen." 

Reuters stated that Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Project on Climate Change said, "It shows that the process of science is not always pristine ... But there's no smoking gun in the e-mails from what I've seen." The Reuters article further noted that "the researchers involved were only a handful out of thousands across the world that have contributed to a vast convergence of data that shows the world has warmed." The article also quoted Piers Forster, an environment professor at the University of Leeds stating, "Whilst some of the e-mails show scientists to be all too human, nothing I have read makes me doubt the veracity of the peer review process or the general warming trend in the global temperature recorded."

J.K.F., J.H., & D.C.P.

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