Prosecute the torture.

March 6, 2014

Today's Mistakes At The Tribune-Review

My friends on Richard Mellon Scaife's braintrust (aka the Tribune-Review editorial board) have made a couple of honkers today.

Take a look.

Mistake #1:
If you want an idea of how absolutely screwed up Norway's Nobel Institute is, consider that it has nominated Vladimir Putin for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. No, it has nothing to do with his invasion of Ukraine but, incredibly, for his work to bring “peace” to Syria. See, opportunism really does have its rewards. [Bolding in original}
Now if you go to the Nobel Institute's actual website to look for the nominations, you won't find them.  Why?  Here's why:
The Committee does not itself announce the names of nominees. In so far as certain names crop up in the advance speculations as to who will receive the year's Prize, this is either sheer guesswork or information put out by the person or persons behind the nomination. Information in the Nobel Committee's nominations data base is not made public until after fifty years.
So where did the world get the idea that Vladimir Putin was nominated?  Luckily, some internet research turned up some interesting information (information, obviously, the braintrust failed to look for or, if they found it, failed to inform its many readers).  There's an organization called PRIO that tracks the Nobel Nomination speculations.  And here's what they said:
The Norwegian Nobel Committee basis its decision on valid nominations received by the 1 February deadline (in addition to potential nominations put forth by the Committee members at their first meeting after the deadline). Anyone can be nominated, but only a number of people have the right to nominate, including members of national assemblies and governments, current and former members of the Committee, Peace Prize laureates, professors of certain disciplines, directors of peace research and foreign policy institutes, and members of international courts.
Ok, so the nominations (whatever they are) come from outside the Institute.  This one certainly as is confirmed by The Independent:
Vladimir Putin has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite Russia’s role as the main supplier of weapons to Bashar al-Assad’s regime, an advocacy group has put the president’s name forward because the former KGB agent “actively promotes settlement of all conflicts arising on the planet.”

The International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World made no mention of Putin’s ruthless and violent campaign against the separatists in Chechnya or the war he waged on Georgia, but instead points to his efforts to prevent a US air strike on the Syrian regime following a chemical gas attack in August.
If you want to go with a more local news source, here's The New York Times:
He is credited with commanding a war to crush separatism in Chechnya, approving a full-scale attack on Georgia over a minor border dispute and complaining when NATO led an air war in Libya to stop Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from killing thousands of Libyans. And he is still selling weapons to the murderous government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Nevertheless, seizing on his proposal to dismantle Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and forestall a missile strike that had been threatened by President Obama, a Russian advocacy group said on Tuesday that it had nominated President Vladimir V. Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize.
And:
Although the group announced its plans on Tuesday, it sent a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee formally proposing Mr. Putin as a candidate for the Peace Prize on Sept. 16, two days after Russia and the United States reached an agreement in Geneva on a plan for Syria’s surrender of its chemical arms.
You'll also note when this was happened: October, 2013.  It's been known for months.

But I want to reiterate:  It was a group called The International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World that made the nomination, not the Nobel Institute.

So to say that the Nobel Institute nominated Putin is and then to criticize the institute for it is, well, a huge mistake, isn't it?

Mistake #2:
How bad is “global warming”? (“How bad is global warming, Johnny?”) It's so bad that Niagara Falls has frozen over. Throw two more logs on the fire, honey. This climate change thing is getting out of control.  [Bolding in original]
How stupid is this mistake?  Well it's the same mistake most science deniers make: they confuse weather (which is localized) with climate (which isn't).  Yes, the Polar Vortex made everything in the eastern United States very very cold this winter.  But "frozen over"?  Did that really happen this year?  And if so, how rare is that?

For that we turn to the National Geographic:
Niagara Falls looks stunning covered in ice. Onlookers in Ontario and New York are marveling at the site of the frozen falls, spreading pictures widely across the social media landscape.

But while the photographs look beautiful, the ice-laden waterfall is not all that surprising, at least according to one meteorologist.

"The falls aren't frozen over," says John Rozbicki, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "There might be some ice on it, but the water is going to continue to flow underneath."

According to Rozbicki, Niagara Falls has too much water to completely freeze over. But it has on several occasions formed an ice bridge over the lake, which is located beneath the waterfalls.
Then there's this from weather.com:
It may be hard to believe, but the gushing waters that make up Niagara Falls froze last week. At least partially. It’s actually not that uncommon: The falls freeze every winter, and last week the arctic blast helped them along.
Not completely frozen over. Happens every winter (though this winter was probably worse than most).

But so what?  Did you know that at exactly the same time that the falls were "freezing over" there was a heat wave in Australia?  From accuweather:
A record-setting heat wave impacted much of Australia during the final week of 2013 and the first week of 2014.

The heat wave was a fitting end to 2013, which has been confirmed as the hottest year in Australia on record by the Australia Bureau of Meteorology.
And Australia, my friends, is way bigger than Niagara Falls.

So how big a mistake is Mistake #2?  I'll let you decide.  But here's a hint: It's also huge.

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