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Federal Science Gets More Politicized 567

amigoro writes to let us know about the noise a group of scientists is making to call attention to Executive Order 13422, going into effect today, that gives political appointees final say regarding science-based federal agency regulations. The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote a letter to two Senate committee chairs urging that questions about this executive order be asked at the confirmation hearings for the nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget. "UCS urged the Senate committee to ask [the nominee] Mr. Nussle how he would ensure that political appointees would not interfere with the work of agency scientists." Late last month the House voted to prohibit the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from spending federal money on Executive Order 13422. Democrats called the order a "power grab."
United States

Executive Order Overturns US Fifth Amendment 853

RalphTWaP writes "Tuesday, there wasn't even a fuss. Wednesday, the world was a little different. By executive order, the Secretary of the Treasury may now seize the property of any person who undermines efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq. The Secretary may make his determination in secret and after the fact." There hasn't been much media notice of this; the UK's Guardian has an article explaining how the new authority will only be used to go after terrorists.

FBI Employees Face Criminal Probe Over Patriot Act 217

DevanJedi writes "According to an article at , several FBI agents are under investigation for illegally acquiring information an American citizens. Overzealous agents used 'misleading emergency letters' obtain phone records of thousands of Americans. This marks the first time government officers have been prosecuted for misuse of the Patriot Act. From the article: 'Unit employees, who are not authorized to request records in investigations, sent form letters to telephone companies to acquire detailed billing information on specific phone numbers by falsely promising that subpoenas were already in the works. According to a third source, FBI officials also said at the meeting that some bureau employees have already been granted immunity from prosecution in the investigation. The third source, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, did not recall, however, that FBI officials described the investigation as "criminal."'"

White House Derails Attempts to End Illegal Wiretapping 647

P. Rivacy writes "If you recall, last month we discussed Congress's attempts to outlaw the already illegal NSA wiretaps authorized by the President. The White House is now using delaying tactics to derail the passage of that bill. Their tactic is to stall on providing documents related to the President's warrantless wiretapping program, despite requests from the Senate Intelligence Committee that is currently reviewing the proposed legislation. '"Another critical priority for congressional oversight is government wiretapping of Americans, conducted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and, illegally, under the President's warrantless wiretapping program," Senator Russ Feingold said. "When the program was finally placed within the FISA process, an opportunity arose for the Administration and the Congress to move forward, under the law. Unfortunately, the Administration has yet to demonstrate a real interest in doing so."'"

Smithsonian 'Toned Down the Science' In Climate Change Exhibit 372

An anonymous reader writes "According to an International Herald Tribune article, the Smithsonian pre-emptively toned down the scientific content of a climate change exhibit put into place last year. The changes, including removal of scientist conclusions and muddying of displayed data, were made to ensure that the exhibit would not offend the Congress or the White House. Pressure brought to bear by Institute officials resulted in the resignation of Robert Sullivan, a sixteen year veteran of the organization. 'This is not the first time the Smithsonian has been accused of taking politics into consideration. The congressionally chartered institution scaled down a 1995 exhibit of the restored Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, after veterans complained it focused too much on the damage and deaths. Amid the oil-drilling debate in 2003, a photo exhibit of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was moved to a less prominent space.'"

Documents Reveal US Incompetence with Word, Iraq 419

notNeilCasey writes "The U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority, which formerly governed Iraq, accidentally published Microsoft Word documents containing information never meant for the public, according to an article in Salon. By viewing the documents using the Track Changes feature in Word (.doc), the author has been able to reconstruct internal discussions from 2004 which reflect the optimism, isolation and incompetence of the American occupation. Download the author's source document or look for more yourself. 'Presumably, staffers at the CPA's Information Management Unit, which produced the weekly reports, were cutting and pasting large sections of text into the reports and then eliminating all but the few short passages they needed. Much of the material they were cribbing seems to have come from the kind of sensitive, security-related documents that were never meant to be available to the public. In fact, about half of the 20 improperly redacted documents I downloaded, including the March 28 report, contain deleted portions that all seem to come from one single, 1,000-word security memo. The editors kept pulling text from a document titled "Why Are the Attacks Down in Al-Anbar Province -- Several Theories." (The security memo and the last page of the March 28 report can be seen here, along with several other CPA documents that can be downloaded.)'"

26 Common Climate Myths Debunked 998

holy_calamity writes to mention that New Scientist is revealing the truth behind the '26 most common climate myths' used to muddy the waters in this ongoing heated debate. "Our planet's climate is anything but simple. All kinds of factors influence it, from massive events on the Sun to the growth of microscopic creatures in the oceans, and there are subtle interactions between many of these factors. Yet despite all the complexities, a firm and ever-growing body of evidence points to a clear picture: the world is warming, this warming is due to human activity increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and if emissions continue unabated the warming will too, with increasingly serious consequences."
The Almighty Buck

Scientists Offered Cash to Dispute Climate Study 668

w1z4rd writes "According to an article in the Guardian, scientists and economists have been offered large bribes by a lobbying group funded by ExxonMobil. The offers were extended by the American Enterprise Institute group, which apparently has numerous ties to the Bush administration. Couched in terms of an offer to write 'dissenting papers' against the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, several scientists contacted for the article refused the offers on conflict of interest grounds."

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