Friday, February 10, 2012

30% less ice is melting that has been stated; 0 states get a pass on No Child Left Behind; Cost of Obama's mortgate scheme to be passed onto taxpayers; Middle East sees America as neutral on Israel; Rep. Bachus investigated for insider trading; Hearing on Homeland Security's monitoring of social networks; Unemployment to be 8.9% in 2012; Federal judge dismisses PETA lawsuit; Breitbart, CPAC, and Occupy; Warming, but not as much, as per Nature Magazine

While vast quantities of ice melting into the ocean is not exactly good news, Wahr says, according to his team's estimates, about 30 percent less ice is melting than previously thought.
The team used data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellite, which was launched as a joint project between NASA and Germany in 2002. The GRACE satellite measures gravity, which is related to mass, in 20 distinct regions worldwide. Wahr says that gives the team more accurate estimates, because previous teams had to measure ice loss at "a few easily accessible glaciers" and then extrapolate it to the 200,000 glaciers worldwide.
"It's tough to get an estimate [with previous methods]," he says.
Odd Onion reports: President Obama is set to give 10 states a pass regarding an approaching deadline under the No Child Left Behind law, after the states struggled to meet the proficiency standards for reading and math.
No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Obama's action strips away that fundamental requirement for those approved for flexibility, provided they offer a viable plan instead. For all the cheers that states may have about the changes, the move also reflects the sobering reality that the United States is not close to the law's original goal: getting children to grade level in reading and math.
Critics today say the 2014 deadline was unrealistic, the law is too rigid and led to teaching to the test, and too many schools feel they are labeled as "failures." Under No Child Left Behind, schools that don't meet requirements for two years or longer face increasingly tough consequences, including busing children to higher-performing schools, offering tutoring and replacing staff.
On Tuesday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said states without a waiver will be held to the standards of No Child Left Behind because "it's the law of the land."
National Journal reports: The $26 billion mortgage-servicing settlement that federal and state prosecutors announced on Thursday with the nation’s largest lenders is a much needed boost to the Obama administration’s dismal housing scorecard.Because so many homeowners owe more than their homes are worth, lenders will not get dollar-for-dollar credit in what they pay to satisfy the settlement. Administration officials said that to satisfy the $26 billion agreement, lenders might have to pay as much as $40 billion. And if prosecutors can expand the deal to encompass nine more lenders, for a total settlement figure of $30 billion, that could cost lenders as much as $45 billion.
Under the terms of the initial deal with the top five lenders, $17 billion will provide direct relief to an anticipated 1 million borrowers or more, with 60 percent of those funds dedicated to principal reductions. The principal relief is an attempt to forestall foreclosures, so it will be targeted at borrowers who are deeply underwater and those who are delinquent. Lenders can also pursue other options, including short sales, loan modification, and forbearance, when deciding the most advantageous way to handle a given loan.  The deal will be submitted to the courts for approval in a few weeks. After that, the banks have three years to pay out the settlement, but there are incentives for them to deliver funds in the first year to maximize relief to borrowers.
Glenn Beck reports: “I spoke to somebody last night who just returned from the Middle East, very high level government official, and I’m going to let them speak for themselves. They will be on the show in the coming weeks. But they said that everyone they met with in the Middle East, everyone, they said, how are you going to react if if Israel strikes Iran and Iran strikes back? How are you going to react? And without exception in every country they were in the Middle East, the leadership of those countries said, “Well, now that the United States is neutral on Israel, we’re not going to get involved.’”
Uh, what?
Glenn continued, “The message has been sent: ‘We are not a protector of Israel; we are neutral in this; you guys settle it, whatever happens.‘ The game is about to change.”
Washington Post reports: The Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee over possible violations of insider-trading laws, according to individuals familiar with the case.
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who holds one of the most influential positions in the House, has been a frequent trader on Capitol Hill, buying stock options while overseeing the nation’s banking and financial services industries.
The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative agency, opened its probe late last year after focusing on numerous suspicious trades on Bachus’s annual financial disclosure forms, the individuals said. OCE investigators have notified Bachus that he is under investigation and that they have found probable cause to believe insider-trading violations have occurred.  [But haven't we been led to believe that insider trading is ok for Congress?]
Info Wars reports: A privacy advocacy group has swayed Congress to hold a hearing next week into the Department of Homeland Security’s practice of monitoring social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as media reports and organizations, including The Drudge Report.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently obtained close to 300 pages of documents, as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, detailing the federal agency’s “intelligence gathering” practices on the web.
Among the documents were guidelines from DHS instructing outside contractors to monitor the web for media reports and comments that “reflect adversely” on the agency or the federal government.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yahoo writes: President Barack Obama will forecast a U.S. unemployment rate averaging 8.9 percent in 2012 in his annual budget on Monday - but before the document was even released a top aide called the projection "stale" and said it should be lower.
CBS reports: A federal judge in San Diego dismissed an unprecedented lawsuit [by PETA]seeking to grant constitutional protection against slavery to a group of orcas that perform at SeaWorld parks, saying the 13th amendment applies only to humans.
Washington Times opines: At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday, Conservative web activist Andrew Breitbart and the Citizens United Productions team previewed a trailer of an Occupy Wall Street documentary that will be released in April. Amid rumors that Occupiers might attempt a CPAC infiltration, hearts skipped a beat when Breitbart and fellows paraded into the hall masquerading as occupy protesters
"Same apparatus, same structure, is conspicuously absent, from pointing out the clear and present threat that the Occupy movement represents to civil order in the United States, we’ve seen enough riots, we’ve seen enough threats. I’m a media personality, Newt Gingrich is a presidential candidate, there has been an open threat against both of us saying that Mitt Romney has security, secret service security, but they don’t, and therefore we’re going to be targeted," he added.
The Citizens United film suggests that ACORN, anarchists, and anti-war organizations are central to the occupy movement's continued presence. The documentary also unveils what Breitbart identifies as the “puppet masters” behind the demonstrations and so-called spontaneous movement: the Democratic Party and President Obama.
The Central Wisconsin Tea Party reports: Going through this week’s issue of Nature magazine, which arrived in my in-box yesterday, the following short squib in their “research highlights” section appears:
Warming, but not as much
The climate system may be less sensitive to greenhouse-gas warming than many models have predicted.First, this study was conducted by the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis of Environment Canada, which is Canada’s EPA, so the climate campaigners can’t use their favorite talking point that this comes from a private, fossil-fuel funded skeptic outfit.  Second, there is no disguising that the finding of this model, along with recent similar studies, that global warming is overestimated by roughly a factor of two in the usual models the IPCC uses.

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