Friday, May 31, 2013

Report: CO2 not responsible for global warming

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) — not carbon emissions — are the real culprit behind global warming, claims a new study out of the University of Waterloo.

“Conventional thinking says that the emission of human-made non-CFC gases such as carbon dioxide has mainly contributed to global warming. But we have observed data going back to the Industrial Revolution that convincingly shows that conventional understanding is wrong,” said Qing-Bin Lu, a science professor at the University of Waterloo and author of the study.

“In fact, the data shows that CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays caused both the polar ozone hole and global warming,” Lu said.

Lu’s findings were published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B and analyzed data from 1850 to the present.

Lu’s study runs counter to the long-standing argument that carbon dioxide emissions were the driving force behind global warming.

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Rate Shock: In California, Obamacare To Increase Individual Health Insurance Premiums By 64-146%

Last week, the state of California claimed that its version of Obamacare’s health insurance exchange would actually reduce premiums. “These rates are way below the worst-case gloom-and-doom scenarios we have heard,” boasted Peter Lee, executive director of the California exchange. But the data that Lee released tells a different story: Obamacare, in fact, will increase individual-market premiums in California by as much as 146 percent.

One of the most serious flaws with Obamacare is that its blizzard of regulations and mandates drives up the cost of insurance for people who buy it on their own.

This problem will be especially acute when the law’s main provisions kick in on January 1, 2014, leading many to worry about health insurance “rate shock.”

Lee’s claims that there won’t be rate shock in California were repeated uncritically in some quarters. “Despite the political naysayers,” writes my Forbes colleague Rick Ungar, “the healthcare exchange concept appears to be working very well indeed in states like California.” A bit more analysis would have prevented Rick from falling for California’s sleight-of-hand.

Here’s what happened. Last week, Covered California—the name for the state’s Obamacare-compatible insurance exchange—released the rates that Californians will have to pay to enroll in the exchange.

“The rates submitted to Covered California for the 2014 individual market,” the state said in a press release, “ranged from two percent above to 29 percent below the 2013 average premium for small employer plans in California’s most populous regions.”

That’s the sentence that led to all of the triumphant commentary from the left. “This is a home run for consumers in every region of California,” exulted Peter Lee.

Except that Lee was making a misleading comparison. He was comparing apples—the plans that Californians buy today for themselves in a robust individual market—and oranges—the highly regulated plans that small employers purchase for their workers as a group. The difference is critical.

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FBI Ran Pedophile Ring to Nab Pedophiles

As late as last year, the FBI ran a child pornography operation in an attempt to nab its customers. The service ran for two weeks “while attempting to identify more than 5,000 customers, according to a Seattle FBI agent’s statements to the court.”

Court records indicate the site continued to distribute child pornography online while under FBI control; the Seattle-based special agent, a specialist in online crimes against children, detailed the investigation earlier this month in a statement to the court.

The methods used in the child pornography ring depart from traditional investigations, “historically, child pornography investigations stem from tips made to law enforcement, interactions with undercover officers posing as customers or reviews of documentation seized during searches of child porn clearinghouses like the one recently raided in Nebraska.”

The Bureau seized a website referred to as “Website A” on November 16, 2012. It operated until it was shut down on December 2 and at the time, it had more than 5,600 users and 24,000 posts. “At least 10,000 photos of children being posed nude, raped or otherwise abused were broadcast through the site.”

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Obama’s “Fast and Furious” Gun-running Scandal Grows

As if there were not already enough scandals plaguing the Obama administration, the federal “Fast and Furious” operation that armed Mexican drug cartels is back in the news after the Justice Department Inspector General released a report blasting a government leak intended to smear a key ATF whistleblower. The leaked memorandum was apparently aimed at discrediting Special Agent John Dodson and contradicting his explosive testimony before Congress, which blew the lid off of a federal program that put thousands of high-powered weapons into the hands of deadly criminals in Mexico.

The latest twist in the scandal surrounds disgraced former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, one of the officials at the center of the administration’s lawless gun-trafficking scheme. The ex-prosecutor, who resigned in August of 2011 along with acting ATF boss Kenneth Melson, was furious after learning that brave whistleblowers had gone to Congress and the media, documents show. He was particularly upset because Dodson, one of the crucial figures in exposing Fast and Furious, had written a memo outlining a plot to let guns “walk” across the border into Mexico — and into the hands of known criminals.

Special Agent Dodson, however, said he had been alarmed about the idea from the start, only putting the plot down on paper in an effort to show superiors how preposterous it really was. When the ATF agent went to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and CBS News to blow the whistle, Burke wanted desperately to protect his reputation. The then-U.S. attorney, who worked in Arizona, learned that Fox News reporter Mike Levine was working on a story about the issue. Burke then leaked the Dodson memo to Levine.

“We also concluded that Burke’s disclosure of the Dodson memorandum to Levine was likely motivated by a desire to undermine Dodson’s public criticisms of Operation Fast and Furious,” the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said in its report. “Although Burke denied to congressional investigators that he had any retaliatory motive for his actions, we found substantial evidence to the contrary.”

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Is the Dollar Dying? Why US Currency Is in Danger

The U.S dollar is shrinking as a percentage of the world’s currency supply, raising concerns that the greenback is about to see its long run as the world’s premier denomination come to an end.

When compared to its peers, the dollar has drifted to a 15-year low, according to the International Monetary Fund, indicating that more countries are willing to use other currencies to do business.

While the American currency still reigns supreme — it constitutes $3.72 trillion, or 62 percent, of the $6 trillion in allocated foreign exchange holdings by the world’s central banks — the Japanese yen, Swiss franc and what the IMF classifies as “other currencies” such as the Chinese yuan are gaining.

“Generally speaking, it is not believed by the vast majority that the American dollar will be overthrown,” Dick Bove, vice president of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets, said in a note. “But it will be, and this defrocking may occur in as short a period as five to 10 years.”

Bove uses several metrics to make his point, focusing on the dollar as a percentage of total world money supply.That total has plunged from nearly 90 percent in 1952 to closer to 15 percent now. He also notes that the Chinese yuan, the yen and the euro each have a greater share of that total.

“To the degree that China succeeds in increasing its market share of the world’s currency market, the United States is the loser,” Bove said. “For years, I have been arguing that the move of the Chinese makes perfect sense from their point-of-view but no sense for the Americans.”

For a country with a budget deficit in excess of $1 trillion a year, the consequences of losing standing as the world’s reserve currency would be dire.

[Read More…]