Treason trial of Papuan activists begins

JAKARTA, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Indonesia has started the trial of five pro-independence Papuans amid calls from human rights groups to cease proceedings.

The five Papuan activists are on trial in a court in Jayapura, capital of the isolated Indonesian province of Papua on the western end of the island New Guinea.

Both Papua and the neighboring province of West Papua have strong independence movements.

The five men on trial face treason charges for allegedly raising the outlawed Morning Star Papuan independence flag in October and calling for independence for the region, a report by The Jakarta Post newspaper said.

But Human Rights Watch, based in New York, said the men were peacefully demonstrating and it has called for the trial to stop.

“The Indonesian government should show its commitment to peaceful expression by dropping the charges against these five Papuan activists,” Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on the group’s Web site.

“It is appalling that a modern democratic nation such as Indonesia continues to lock people up for organizing a demonstration and expressing controversial (opinions).”

Human Rights Watch also claimed that security forces used excessive force to disperse the three-day Papuan People’s Congress gathering in Jayapura and three people died in the clashes.

Clashes between demonstrators and police began after one of the leaders read out a declaration of independence statement, Human Rights Watch said. “Police and the army fired warning shots to disperse the approximately 1,000 Papuans gathered for the peaceful demonstration,” the group said.

Witnesses said security forces used batons and firearms against demonstrators, killing at least three and injuring more than 90 others.

Local authorities gave written warnings to eight officers, including Jayapura Police Chief Imam Setiawan, for not doing enough to protect civilians.

“However, no other action was taken against police or military personnel for possible misuse of force,” Human Rights Watch said on its Web site.

Human Rights Watch also said it “takes no position on claims to self-determination in Indonesia” but upholds people’s right “to express their political views peacefully without fear of arrest or other forms of reprisal.”

Papua and West Papua together are about the size of Spain and occupy the western half of the island of Papua. The state of Papua New Guinea occupies the eastern half.

The two provinces have been a part of the Indonesian archipelago federation since the Dutch gave up colonial rule. A slim majority of Papuans in a controversial referendum in 1969 voted in favor of joining Indonesia but various separatist movements have been pushing for independence.

Papuans are ethnically Melanesian and closer to Australia’s aborigines than the Asians who make up most of Indonesia’s population. Papuans say their culture and identity is being eroded by an influx of Asian Indonesians.

Papua and West Papua are the poorest regions in Indonesia but are extremely rich in natural resources. Separatist Papuan leaders claim few of the region’s population get a fair share of the wealth when the resources are exploited, often by international companies.

Many demonstrations in the two provinces are peaceful but there have been bloody clashes between more extreme group separatist groups. In early December, a half-hour gun battle with rebels in the Puncak Jaya highland area of Papua province left two policemen dead.

A week before the gun battle, pro independence rallies in parts of West Papua turned violent. Activists and pro-Papuan independence groups alleged that police and paramilitaries shot four civilians after hundreds of people attended religious services in Timika, a city on the southern coast of West Papua.

The celebrations were to mark the 50th anniversary of the region’s self-declaration of independence. Hundreds of people took the streets, many in traditional dress, waving the Morning Star flag and cheering for independence, a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corp. said at the time.

Gingrich sees Fla. win; polls say Romney

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Jan. 31 (UPI) — Newt Gingrich defiantly predicted “a decisive victory” in the Florida primary election, despite polls putting him as much as 20 points behind Mitt Romney.

“All our friends in the news media who are very excited and eager to end this race as early as possible — they all want to know what’s going to happen after Florida,” the former House speaker told an Orlando crowd Monday night.

“And I keep trying getting across to them — I am in this race where Ronald Reagan was in 1976,” Gingrich said. “We are going to tell the truth, we’re going to beat a big-lie campaign with a big-truth campaign, we’re going to beat money power with people power, we are going to go all the way to the convention and we are going to win in Tampa, and we are going to be the nominee with your help.”

Reagan lost the 1976 nomination to incumbent President Gerald Ford, who lost the November election to Jimmy Carter. Reagan won both nomination and election in 1980, defeating Carter.

The Republican National Convention is to be held in Tampa, Fla., the week of Aug. 27.

Gingrich campaigned Monday with Reagan son Michael and former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain.

Opinion polls indicate Gingrich is behind Romney by at least 5 percentage points to as much as 20 points.

Gingrich trounced Romney by nearly 13 points in the South Carolina primary Jan. 21.

“We are promising, with your help, we are going to communicate the truth better than the consultants can communicate falsehoods,” Gingrich told the Orlando audience.

“With your help, we are going to win a decisive victory [Tuesday],” he said. “With your help, we’re going to go on to win across the whole country, and with your help, starting in Tampa, we’re going to run a general election campaign.”

Gingrich’s campaign said Monday it planned to win enough delegates in the coming months to force a brokered convention in Tampa, where GOP delegates choose their party’s nominees for president and vice president.

A brokered convention happens when a single presidential hopeful does not get enough delegates through the presidential primary and caucus elections to have a pre-existing majority. At that point, nominations are decided through political horse-trading and multiple delegate votes.

Romney confidently told a crowd of several hundred in Dunedin, Fla., near St. Petersburg, “With a turnout like this, I’m beginning to feel we might win [Tuesday].”

He questioned Gingrich’s vow to fight for the nomination beyond Florida.

“When you say I’m going to go on no matter what happens, that’s usually not a good sign,” Romney said. “That’s usually an indication … you think you’re going to lose.”

He sought to link Gingrich’s consulting work for mortgage guarantor Freddie Mac to Florida’s housing crisis.

“I know the speaker’s not real happy,” Romney said. “Here in Florida, if you’re part of the housing crisis you’re probably not going to get elected president.”

Romney and Gingrich are the only candidates campaigning in Florida.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ron. Paul of Texas campaigned in other states Monday.

Santorum had left the campaign trail when his youngest daughter had a health emergency but returned after her health began to improve. He was in Missouri and Minnesota Monday, and was to campaign in Colorado Tuesday morning and watch the Florida primary results from his Nevada campaign headquarters in Las Vegas.

Paul, who spent the weekend in Maine, was to be in Colorado Tuesday as well.

Florida Republican Party officials said they expected 1.5 million to 2 million voters to turn out Tuesday.

More than 30 percent of the expected GOP primary votes had already been cast by Monday through absentee or early balloting allowed under state law, the party said.

Florida is a closed-primary state, so only registered Republicans can take part in the election.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Florida is in the Eastern time zone, except for part of the Florida panhandle west of the Apalachicola River, which is in the Central time zone.

White House: Siding with Assad a mistake

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Siding with Bashar Assad is a mistake because he will be displaced, the White House warned as U.N. envoys were to debate an Arab plan for Syrian regime change.

“As governments make decisions about where they stand … it’s important to calculate into your considerations the fact that he will go,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said of the Syrian president.

“The regime has lost control of the country and will eventually fall,” Carney said.

With Syrian violence sharply escalating, and at least 95 people reported killed Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton supported the Arab League demand Assad step down.

She said she would be at the U.N. Security Council Tuesday to back the league when it presents its plan requiring Assad to hand over power to a vice president, who would create a national unity government within two months.

Assad has rejected the proposal as “foreign interference.”

“The Arab League is backing a resolution that calls on the international community to support its ongoing efforts, because the status quo is not acceptable,” Clinton said in a statement Monday. “The longer the Assad regime continues its attacks on the Syrian people and stands in the way of a peaceful transition, the greater the concern that instability will escalate and spill over throughout the region.”

The British and French foreign ministers were to be in New York to support the league plan before the council, their governments said.

At least 10 of 15 Security Council members back the Arab measure, France said. Nine are needed for it to go to a vote.

Russia will block the move as currently written because it “leaves open the possibility” of foreign military “intervention” in Syria, just as an Arab-backed U.N. measure last year led to NATO airstrikes in Libya, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told Russia’s non-governmental Interfax news agency.

The Obama administration is “intensely discussing with the Russians the real deterioration on the ground in Syria,” Carney said.

“We’re discussing with the Russians and other partners how best to use all the levers at the command of the international community and the United Nations to press the Syrian government to stop its appalling and ultimately ineffective and harmful repression,” he said.

The United Nations, which has said more than 5,400 people have been killed in the nearly 11-month uprising, said last week it could no longer reliably document the death toll.

Russia Monday offered to mediate talks between the Assad regime and the opposition. The opposition Syrian National Council, based in Istanbul, Turkey, rejected the offer unless Assad stepped down first — a condition Assad and Russia have said was unacceptable.

SNC executive committee member Haitham Maleh, a former judge who is now an important opposition figure, told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph Assad had forfeited any chance of a peaceful exit.

“Assad and his family will be killed in Syria … like Gadhafi,” he said, referring to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who met a violent and vengeful death Oct. 20, 2011, at the hands of individual members of the Libyan forces that drove him from power.

Republican primaries schedule and results

The following are the dates for the 2012 Republican presidential primaries and their results. All are Tuesdays unless otherwise noted:


Jan. 3: Jan. 3: Iowa caucus: (Official — eight precincts missing) Rick Santorum 29,839, Mitt Romney 29,805, Ron Paul 26,036, Newt Gingrich 16,163, Rick Perry 12,557, Michele Bachmann 6,046, Jon Huntsman 739, No Preference 147, Other 40, Herman Cain 45.

Jan. 10: New Hampshire: (Unofficial) Romney 39 percent (97,339), Paul 23 percent (56,601), Huntsman 17 percent (41,796), Gingrich 10 percent (23,329), Santorum 9 percent (23,204), Perry 1 percent (1,762).

Jan. 21: (Saturday): South Carolina: (Unofficial) Gingrich 40 percent (242,498), Romney 28 percent (167,555), Santorum 17 percent (101,967), Paul 13 percent (77,972).


Remaining primaries and caucuses:

Jan. 31: Florida

Feb. 4 (Saturday): Nevada (caucus)

Feb. 4-10: Maine (caucus)

Feb. 7: Colorado (caucus), Minnesota (caucus), Missouri (non-delegate primary)

Feb. 28: Arizona, Michigan

March 3: (Saturday): Washington (caucus)

March 6: Super Tuesday — Alaska (caucus), Georgia, Idaho (caucus), Massachusetts, North Dakota (caucus), Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia.

March 6-10: Wyoming (caucus)

March 10 (Saturday): Kansas (caucus), Virgin Islands (caucus)

March 13: Alabama, Hawaii (caucus), Mississippi

March 17 (Saturday): Missouri (GOP caucus to determine convention delegates)

March 20: Illinois

March 24: Louisiana

April 3: District of Columbia, Maryland, Texas, Wisconsin

April 24: Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island

May 8: Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia

May 15: Nebraska, Oregon

May 22: Arkansas, Kentucky

June 5: California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota

June 26: Utah
By United Press International

DC occupiers remain; Charlotte emptied

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Occupy DC protesters stayed put at their Washington sites early Tuesday, despite a camping ban, while Charlotte, N.C., police ripped up tents and made arrests.

U.S. Park Police began enforcing the Washington camping ban at noon EST Monday, but the enforcement consisted of reminding demonstrators of the regulation, spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said.

Police want voluntary compliance, Schlosser told reporters at McPherson Square, one of two plazas the protesters have occupied since early October. If that doesn’t happen, “incremental measures” will be taken, he said, refusing to explain what that meant.

A number of protesters did comply and remove camping gear, he said. No one was reported arrested as of 2 a.m. EST Tuesday.

The National Park Service, which manages the federal plazas, said protesters could remain around the clock and keep up tents, provided one side of each tent remained open at all times to show they contained no bedding or personal belongings.

Protesters Monday pulled a tarp over a statue of the park’s namesake, Civil War Union Army Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, to create what they called a “tent of dreams.” The tent still stood early Tuesday, Occupy DC said on Twitter.

White House spokesman Jay Carney spoke about the protests — blocks from the White House — in his daily press briefing Monday.

“Our position has been, and continues to be, that we need to balance First Amendment concerns of the right to demonstrate, the right to speak freely, with public-safety concerns and public-health concerns,” he said.

“And we understand that local law enforcement, as well as, in this case, the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police, are weighing those considerations when they make these decisions. And that’s appropriate,” he said.

The park service had tolerated camping, saying it would rather encourage the protesters to comply with a no-camping rule over time than make arrests that could lead to injury or property damage. But the service adjusted its position after House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar last week he wanted to know if “political judgments played a role” in letting the protesters camp on the parkland.

Protesters accused Issa of playing politics.

In North Carolina, Occupy Charlotte protesters vowed to regroup after police dismantled most of their protest site Monday, ripping up tents at the campsite erected in September and October.

Police arrested at least seven protesters on charges of obstructing and delaying officers, The Charlotte Observer reported.

An Occupy Charlotte attorney filed a lawsuit accusing the city of violating First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly. The lawsuit, which was to be heard in court Tuesday, seeks to prevent the city from enforcing a new ordinance that was used to remove the Occupy Charlotte campsite.

Half of Marylanders support gay marriage

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Jan. 31 (UPI) — Half of Maryland residents say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, while 45 percent disagree, a poll released Monday indicated.

The Washington Post poll found a sharp racial divide in attitudes on same-sex marriage. While 71 percent of whites support it and 24 percent do not, more than half, 53 percent, of blacks are opposed and 41 percent support it.

Religiously observant people are far more likely than others to oppose gay marriage. Poll respondents who support it tend to cite the views of their friends and their personal experience as shaping their views, while opponents tend to cite religious reasons.

The Maryland Senate passed a bill last year legalizing same-sex marriage but it failed to win passage in the House of Delegates. Similar legislation has been introduced this year.

Same-sex couples can marry in six states and the District of Columbia. In California, couples who took advantage of the brief period when same-sex marriage was legal are legally married there.

The poll surveyed 1,064 adults from Jan. 23-26. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points.

The Fast And The Spurious VI: The Never-Ending Story

Perhaps they thought they would get away with it. After all, President Barack Obama and his henchmen have secured get-out-of-jail-free cards for every other crime against the people, the Constitution and common decency since Obama was just an ex-“community organizer” with stars in his eyes and a dog-eared copy of “Rules for Radicals” in his pocket.

Perhaps they thought that deliberately hiding the documentation of their latest misadventure with a carefully timed Friday night document dump would work, and that a Nation that prefers its politics served fresh Monday through Friday would simply miss the new revelations in the fog of grill smoke and the din of peewee hockey games.

Whatever Obama and his henchmen thought, they were wrong.

This past Friday evening, Obama’s cleaning service cleared out a few more file cabinets. Included in the latest peculiarly timed document dump was an email chain extending to the office of Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the murder of Border Agent Brian Terry. The electronic exchange began just after midnight the day after Terry was shot with an alert to the former U.S. Attorney and now waiting-for-his-guest-spot-on-MSNBC and OFF point man Dennis Burke:

On December 14, 2010, a BORTAC agent working in the Nogales, AZ AOR was shot. The agent was conducting Border Patrol operations 18 miles north of the international boundary when he encountered [redacted word] unidentified subjects. Shots were exchanged resulting in the agent being shot.

That message — which Burke forwarded to Holder’s chief of staff Monty Wilkinson — was followed shortly after by another: “Our agent has passed away.” Wilkinson responded: “Tragic. I’ve alerted the AG…”

“Tragic. I’ve alerted the AG…” Wilkinson apprised Holder of the murder of Brian Terry on Dec. 15, 2010, six months before Holder testified under oath in front of Congress that he had known about OFF for only a “few weeks.” He later retracted that testimony in front of the Senate. Holder lied, and then he lied about lying. And even that was a lie.

As if that weren’t appalling enough, a later message from Burke to Wilkinson read:

The guns found in the desert near the murder (sic) BP officer… were AK-47s purchased at a Phoenix gun store.

The latter messages prove either that Holder perjured himself in front of Congress on no fewer than two occasions or that describing him as “stupendously incompetent” is an astounding understatement. Should the former be the case, the logical progression leads to two questions:

1. Why?
2. Who told him to do it?

Given the performance of the Obama Administration so far, the answers to both are laughably obvious — and both involve the sort of nefarious deeds unseen in the White House since President Richard Nixon’s “plumbers” checked into the Watergate.

We may fairly presume that Obama will continue to behave as if the scandal surrounding OFF is, as Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) claimed, a racist attempt to smear Obama and Holder. But Friday night’s undercover document dump relegates that clichéd reaction to the same intellectual dustbin containing Johnson’s musings on the buoyancy of Guam.

The refusal of the self-described “most transparent administration in history” to acknowledge, much less address, Holder and his involvement with OFF is borderline criminal. The attempts to hide documentation revealing the extent of Holder’s (and by extension, Obama’s) mendacity are grounds for a great deal more than bad polling numbers. Former President Bill Clinton was impeached — and ultimately disbarred — for perjury, and he was lying only about an overweight intern. It’s time for Obama and his little buddy Holder to face justice — justice of their own making.

Lawrence killers to appeal

LONDON, Jan. 31 (UPI) — Gary Dobson, convicted of killing Stephen Lawrence because the London high school student was black, has appealed the verdict, court officials said Monday.

Dobson’s co-defendant, David Norris, is also expected to appeal, The Daily Telegraph reported. Dobson, 36, was sentenced to a life with a minimum of 15 years and 2 months and Norris to life with at least 14 years and 3 months.

“I think British justice can be very proud of the fact that they have locked up an innocent man,” Dobson’s father, Stephen, said. “Of course we are going to appeal.”

Lawrence, who hoped to become an architect, was stabbed in 1993 as he and a friend waited for a bus in South London. An investigative report suggested racism the Metropolitan Police led to a botched investigation.

The appeal is expected to focus on whether the judge should have allowed jurors to hear recordings made secretly by police in one defendant’s apartment, The Guardian reported. Several people were recorded making racist statements.

Paula Deen Sells Her Soul

Paula Deen, the Southern chef known for creating fat- and sugar-laden dishes, has sold her soul to the devil that is Big Pharma.

Deen now admits that she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago. But rather than use her bully pulpit to preach a lifestyle of making healthy eating choices, Deen is now promoting the diabetes drug liraglutide (Victoza) manufactured by Novo Nordisk.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Victoza in January 2010, but it did so amid strong evidence of a link to thyroid cancer. The FDA ordered Novo Nordisk to include a “black box” warning on the drug’s label. A black box warning is the agency’s strongest warning and is used only when grave side effects are at issue. The warning states that the drug causes thyroid C-cell tumors in rodents. If the FDA — which cares only about Big Pharma profits and not a whit for the health of Americans — requires a black box warning, the cancer risk must be enormous.

Deen would do more for the health of her fans if she would talk to them about eating healthful, whole and raw foods and avoiding trans fats and sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup. Instead, she sold her soul. Those who follow her advice to continue eating “pleasure” foods and just turn to Big Pharma for a cure are embarking on a journey in which the cure can be worse than the disease.

 

Congress Attempts To Police Itself On Insider Trading

Members of Congress are looking to regain some sense of trust from the American people, as they have proposed rules that would subject themselves to tougher penalties for insider trading and a requirement to disclose stock transactions within 30 days, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, a procedural vote this week would allow the Senate to pass a bill prohibiting members of Congress from using nonpublic information for their own person benefit or “tipping” others to inside information that they could use for trading.

Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) co-wrote a bill that would subject any member of Congress who violates the ban on insider trading to investigation and prosecution by the Justice Department and regulatory agencies, the AP reported.

“We can start restoring some of the faith that’s been lost in our government by taking this common-sense step of making members of Congress play by the exact same rules as everyone else,” Gillibrand said of the bill put forth by her and Brown. “We must make it unambiguous that this kind of behavior is illegal.”

The Hill reported that Representative Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) minimum net worth skyrocketed by almost $14 million in 2010 because of smart stock plays and real estate investments by her husband.

Polls: Romney Leading In Florida As Primary Begins

Polls released Saturday and Sunday show Mitt Romney holding a strong first in the Republican race leading into the Florida primary.

In The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll released Saturday night, Romney led Gingrich 42 percent to 31 percent, while an NBC News/Marist poll released Sunday showed Romney leading 42 percent to 27 percent.

Romney has had strong organization in Florida and has been helped by the attack conservative media led on Newt Gingrich following his South Carolina win. Most pundits say that the Florida primary will be Gingrich’s last chance to strengthen his campaign.

Ron Paul has largely focused his attention outside of the Sunshine State in a strategic effort to pick up delegates in other States where his poll numbers look better.

“It’s just so expensive, and we figure, spending $9-$12 million in ads might not be worth it,” Paul campaign manager John Tate told Business Insider. “We’re spending our money more wisely….Spending half a million dollars to win all of North Dakota’s delegates is a lot more efficient than spending $12 million to maybe win some of Florida’s delegates.”

The Global Warning On Global Warming

Some time ago, I described the pseudo-scientific theory of so-called “global warming” as “the phrenology of the modern age.” In light of the latest avalanche of actual scientific evidence, it would appear I was actually being a bit on the generous side. After all, while practitioners of phrenology might have been as far off the mark as an Al Gore slide show, at least they were trying to help someone else. The only beneficiaries of the global warming hoax are the hoaxsters themselves. While that means only that global warming is no different than virtually every other aspect of liberalism, it also means that every aspect of American society is threatened.

The latest crack in global warming’s crumbling wall appeared last week in the United Kingdom with a quiet acknowledgement by the UK’s Met Office and the University of East Anglia that not only is the Earth not warming, the oven is off and the pilot light is out. Moreover, data collected from more than 30,000 measuring stations and released last week have put the deep freeze on global warming, instead indicating that the temperature trend pointed to by global warmists peaked in 1997.

Additionally, the current solar cycle has reached its maximum output and is, therefore, headed into what scientists call “Cycle 25,” which researchers at NASA and the University of Arizona have declared will be much weaker than solar cycles over the past century. In fact, the latest Met Office research predicts that Cycle 25 and subsequent 11-year solar cycles will likely approach the “Dalton minimum” for solar output, matching the solar slump which lowered Europe’s mean temperatures by 2 degrees centigrade during the 18th and 19th centuries. Some scientists predict solar energy could bottom out even further, matching the “Maunder minimum” — the coolest period of the “Little Ice Age” — which held the planet in its chilly grip from the mid-16th to mid-19th centuries.

According to leading observers from respected institutions, the failure of global warmists to credit the sun for its role in global temperature swings nearly obviates the entire global warming industry. Nicola Scafetta, Ph.D., of Duke University notes:

If temperatures continue to stay flat or start to cool again, the divergence between the models and recorded data will eventually become so great that the whole scientific community will question the current theories.

It’s fair to presume that he’s already omitting global warmists from the “scientific community” given the remote likelihood that they will abandon the scam which has kept them in clover since the early 1970s, when the same climactic phrenologists who roar about global warming now were shrieking about global cooling.

These latest revelations about the myriad flaws and scientific method violations that mark the progression of the global warming theories combine with the well-established fact that global warmists have never employed more than anecdotal evidence that the basis of their fearmongering even exists to produce what ought to be a final curtain for global warming and the entire so-called “climate change” industry.

And yet, I have a theory — based on decades’ worth of firsthand observation — that neither global warming nor the industry its proponents spawned will be headed for the booth next to the tinfoil-hat salesmen at the next Flat Earth Society conference. Despite the altruistic claims of leading global warmists from Gore to the Headlands Institute eggheads, they’re highly unlikely to abandon their cause for the same two reasons nanny-staters have been pressing their jackboots down upon the necks of people across the world since time immemorial:

  1. Money.
  2. Power.

Consider Obama’s continued devotion to so-called “green jobs” boondoggles, despite the Brobdingnagian barrelsful of taxpayer cash that they absorb without producing any quantifiable benefit. Solyndra, LightSquared and Ener1 (which flatlined right after Obama’s State of the Union address last week) have combined to cost the taxpayers billions of dollars in unrecoverable funds. All of them are fiscal disasters, yet Obama swore during the same address to continue to shovel our money into their gaping maws. In some cases, the output of these “green” ventures is dangerous: What’s the total amount of greenhouse outgassing produced by a burning Chevy Volt?

Gore sells books and video copies of his Oscar-winning slide show. He also lives like a pharaoh. Outside the pile of money left behind by his tobacco-baron father, Gore’s lavish lifestyle is funded almost entirely by his exploitation of global warming fear. And he’s hardly alone. In “No Need to Panic About Global Warming,” an opinion piece that appeared in The Wall Street Journal last week, 16 scientists noted:

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet.

The column also noted the striking similarities between the global warmists’ method of enforcing their dogma with retribution and even banishment and the intellectual dark ages of the Soviet Union, in which anyone who opposed Trofim Lysenko’s ludicrously medieval scientific theories was stripped of prestige, imprisoned and even killed.

To be fair, the world could probably benefit from a reduction in the population of arrogant pseudo-intellectual academics. And it almost goes without saying that anything that cuts the odds that Gore might show up in your town (flying a private jet, of course) to make you and your neighbors sit through one of his monotonous lectures on bumper-sticker science is — well — good. But global warmists have infiltrated virtually every aspect of public life. They are turning once-respectable universities into black holes of meaningful thought. They drain billions of dollars from the Treasury in pure cash and then drain millions of dollars more in meaningless regulations that have no effect on the jungles, but crush industrial output. They create idiotic bureaucratic boondoggles (like the Kyoto Protocol) that ripple through the global economic strata, hiking prices and ruining lives.

The food we eat, the fuel we need and the items we require (incandescent light bulbs, anyone?) are all more expensive, more scarce and more needlessly regulated because liberals like Obama recognize the value of fear over reason and the value of lockstep-marching minions who act without question.

Scientists ought to be consumed with the search for facts. As last week’s news — along with decades of actual data — proves, one fact is clear: Global warming hasn’t reduced our quality of life; global warmists have.

FDA Sued For Hacking Employee Email

A group of scientists and doctors who were employed by the Food and Drug Administration are suing the agency after it monitored their personal email.

According to The Washington Post, the FDA began monitoring the staffers when they warned Congress that the agency was approving medical devices that they said posed unacceptable risks to patients.

The lawsuit alleges that the information collected from the employee’s personal email beginning in January 2009 contributed to the harassment and firing of six FDA employees. The agency also scoured the employees’ computers for documents related to the communications with Congress.

Though FDA computers display a message stating that employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy when using the machines, the employees say that accessing their personal emails was a violation of Constitutional rights.

“Who would have thought that they would have the nerve to be monitoring my communications to Congress?” Robert C. Smith, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, a former radiology professor at Yale and Cornell universities and former FDA device reviewer, told the newspaper. “How dare they?”

The FDA Office of Device Evaluation said they first made internal complaints beginning in 2007 that the agency had approved or was near approving at least a dozen radiological devices, the effectiveness of which not proven, posing risks to millions of patients.

According to experts, the biggest legal issues in the case are whether the monitoring was legal and what level of monitoring on government computers is reasonable as technology increasingly blurs the lines between work and private life.

China Bests United States In Several Industries

A new report by 24/7 Wall St. details a number of industries in which the United States once led world production that are now dominated by China.

China’s gross domestic product is measured at about $6.5 trillion and America’s GDP is more than $15.2 trillion, according to the International Monetary Fund. Last year, China’s economy expanded at more than 9 percent. America’s GDP grew only 2 percent. Most economists expect China’s economy to surpass the United States’ in the next decade or two.

The eight industries in which China has already outperformed the United States are:

1. Steel
China production: 627 million metric tons in 2010
U.S. production: 80 million metric tons in 2010
U.S. position: Third

2. Cotton
China production: 7.3 million metric tons in 2011
U.S. production: 3.4 million metric tons in 2011
U.S. position: Third

3. Initial Public Offerings
China production: $73 billion raised in 2011
U.S. production: $30.7 billion raised in 2011
U.S. position: Second

4. Tobacco
China production: 3 million metric tons in 2010
U.S. production: 0.33 million metric tons in 2010
U.S. position: Fourth

5. Autos
China production: 18.3 million autos in 2010
U.S. production: 7.8 million autos in 2010
U.S. position: Third

6. Beer Production
China production: 443.8 million hectoliters in 2010
U.S. production: 227.8 million hectoliters in 2010
U.S. position: Second

7. High-Technology Exports
China production: $348 billion in 2009
U.S. production: $142 billion in 2009
U.S. position: Second

8. Coal Production
China production: 3.24 billion short tons produced in 2010
U.S. production: 985 million tons produced in 2010
U.S. position: Second

Pentagon Prepares For Talks With Iraq

The President Barack Obama Administration is preparing to commence talks with Iraq on ironing out the details of a long-term defense relationship that may include more U.S. training help, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s chief policy aide.

The Associated Press reported that Michele Flournoy, who is leaving her Pentagon post on Feb. 3, told a small group of reporters that the Administration is open to Iraqi suggestions concerning the scope and depth of the defense ties between the two countries.

“One of the things we’re looking forward to doing is sitting down with the Iraqis in the coming month or two to start thinking about how they want to work with” the U.S. military to develop a program of exercises, training and other forms of security cooperation, Flournoy told reporters.

Both sides had considered keeping several thousand American troops in Iraq to help with training, but they failed to reach an agreement prior to the expiration of a 2008 deal that required all U.S. forces to leave, according to the AP.

The New York Times reported that the State Department is operating a small fleet of surveillance drones in Iraq to protect the United States Embassy and consulates in the Arab nation, but Iraqi officials have expressed outrage over these actions.

Climatologists: Global Cooling On The Horizon

Global warming alarmist Al Gore may be sweating following the release of new temperature data showing that the planet has not warmed in the past 15 years and may, in fact, be heading for a mini ice age.

Data issued last week by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit based on figures from 30,000 climate measuring stations confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures actually ended in 1997, according to Daily Mail.

NASA scientists say that the sun-cycles that have resulted in the increased number of sunspots are weakening, and the next cycle—Cycle 25—which is expected to peak in 2022, will be weaker than the last and result in a drop in temperatures.

Climate scientists told The Mail on Sunday that, after emitting unusually high levels of energy throughout the 20th Century, the sun is now heading towards a ‘grand minimum’ in its output, threatening cold summers, bitter winters and a shortening of the season available for growing food. The mini ice age the planet could be headed for could reportedly rival a 70-year temperature drop in the 17th Century that froze the River Thames in London during winters.

N.C. Racial Justice Act gets first hearing

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., Jan. 31 (UPI) — The first hearing under the Racial Justice Act, a law intended to resolve past instances of courtroom racism, got under way Monday in North Carolina.

Marcus Reymond Robinson, convicted in 1994 for a murder committed in 1991, will be the first of more than 150 death row inmates to have a judge decide whether he was unjustly sentenced to die. The law can result in a reduction of his sentence to life imprisonment without parole if it can be proven racism was a factor in his prosecution or in the state’s judicial systems as a whole, the Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer reported.

Robinson is African-American. His victim, Erik Tornblom, was white.

At the evidentiary hearing Monday, defense lawyer James E. Ferguson III presented statistical evidence of exclusion of black jurors from capital murder trials, the newspaper said.

Cumberland County prosecutors dispute the claim, and have been collecting evidence to show dismissal of potential jurors, in Robinson’s case and in other capital cases, was not race-based.

The hearing is expected to last two weeks, the newspaper said. Whichever side loses is likely to take the case to the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Andrew Young trial delayed in N.C.

HILLSBOROUGH, N.C., Jan. 31 (UPI) — The criminal contempt hearing of Andrew Young, a former campaign aide to 2004 U.S. Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards, was delayed Monday.

Judge Michael Morgan postponed a hearing scheduled for Monday in Hillsborough, N.C., so a new prosecutor could be assigned to the case, the Burlington (N.C.) Times News reported.

At issue is whether Young should be held in contempt of court for turning over to federal investigators sealed documents, and possibly a videotape allegedly presenting a sex act between Edwards and Reille Hunter, a videographer with whom the former North Carolina U.S. senator had a child.

Hunter sued Young in 2010, accusing him and his wife of taking her property, including the videotape. It was later revealed that federal prosecutors had received the tape and other documents believed to be under seal.

Young also wrote a tell-all book about the Edwards campaign in 2008.

Judge reaffirms ruling in pedophile case

PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 30 (UPI) — The judge in a trial involving priests accused of sexual abuse Monday reaffirmed her ruling a former Archdiocese of Philadelphia leader is competent to testify.

Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina told defense attorney Thomas A. Bergstrom, “I’ll adhere to my original ruling” in the trial of Msgr. William J. Lynn, a former church official accused of enabling pedophile priests, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The defense has claimed 88-year-old Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, formerly the head of the Archdiocese, is senile and unable to remember anything about the past two decades.

Lynn and three other priests are on trial.

The judge did not specify whether Bevilacqua’s testimony would be in the courtroom, or whether the replay of a video transcript of questioning, made in November at his residence, would be sufficient.

Gag photo brings Air Force punishment

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas, Jan. 30 (UPI) — A photo of U.S. Air Force personnel posing by an open casket, one in a noose and chains, was an informal safety warning, not a crime, investigators concluded.

Members of the 345th Training Squadron of the 37th Training Group, stationed at Fort Lee, Va., were found not to be offering a disrespectful attempt at humor, but a comment on safety regulations and training, investigators concluded.

The photo suggested to some personnel the Air Force could not be trusted to transport the remains of fallen soldiers respectfully, but military spokesman Gerry Proctor said the investigation clarified the intent of the photo, the Air Force Times reported Monday.

One man, wearing a noose and bound in chains, was in the casket.

“The theme of the photo was based upon a safety warning the instructor continuously gave to the students, to pay attention to the pallet. These things have tonnage and can kill you,” he said.

The chains are used to tie down pallets, and the rope secures wheels, he said.

The airmen nonetheless received administrative punishment because “their conduct brought discredit to both the military and themselves,” a news release from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, said.

Indiana lawmakers OK ‘right-to-work’ bill

INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 30 (UPI) — An Indiana Senate committee Monday approved a so-called right-to-work bill, and Gov. Mitch Daniels said he will sign it as soon it the legislature enacts it.

With three Senate Democrats boycotting to protest the speed with which the measure was moving toward passage, GOP lawmakers approved it 6-1, setting the stage for the bill to move to the full Senate — and likely to Daniels — Wednesday, The Indianapolis Star reported.

The legislation would prohibit companies and unions from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to pay fees for representation that unions are required to provide all members of a bargaining unit.

Republican Sen. Brent Waltz cast the only vote against the measure in the Labor and Pensions Committee, saying “right-to-work is wrong for Indiana” and the measure could cost the state jobs.

Unions and most Democrats assert the measure will lead to “freeloaders” and reduce wages for union and non-union members.

Daniels, along with most Republicans and businesses, says the legislation will add jobs in the state and enable employees to decide whether to provide financial support to a union.

Daniels, who has made passage of the legislation a priority in his final year as governor, has said some companies bypass Indiana as a possible location for a business because of the lack of the right-to-work law.

Department under fire, top cop quits

EAST HAVEN, Conn., Jan. 30 (UPI) — The police chief in East Haven, Conn., whose department is embroiled in allegations four officers violated Hispanics’ civil rights, resigned Monday.

While Len Gallo announced he was leaving his post, the head of the city’s police commission said he wanted the chief fired instead so Gallo couldn’t collect unused vacation and sick time that could exceed $100,000, the Hartford Courant reported.

Gallo isn’t the only city official Hispanic activists want to see out of a job. They asked East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo to step down. The newspaper said there was no indication Maturo would comply.

Maturo’s lawyer says he is an unnamed co-conspirator in the indictment last week of the four officers accused of harassing and racially profiling Hispanics. The mayor fanned the flames when he made an insensitive comment about going home to eat tacos after being asked what he might do to ease the tensions between the Latino community and the police department.

Rather than quit, Maturo said he intends to establish a search committee to find Gallo’s replacement. He named Deputy Chief John Mannion to the top post until a new chief is hired.

“I expect the road ahead to be difficult,” Maturo said, calling Gallo’s resignation an “unselfish act.”

Pinkberry exec pleads innocent in assault

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 30 (UPI) — Pinkberry frozen dessert shops co-founder Young Lee pleaded innocent Monday to a charge he beat a homeless Los Angeles man with a tire iron over a racy tattoo.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Upinder Kalra allowed Lee to remain free on $60,000 bail and said he could make one round trip to South Korea, the Los Angeles Times reported. Lee agreed to automatic extradition should he not show up for his next court date, March 5, the newspaper said.

Lee is charged with assault with a deadly weapon. A source told the Times Lee got angry when the transient, who had approached him at a 101 Freeway off-ramp stoplight to solicit money, showed him a sexually explicit tattoo. Lee is accused of chasing the man and beating him with the metal tool.

Lee’s attorney told the newspaper previously the man had “made explicit threats as if he had a weapon.”