- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Poll: Doubts grow on global warming

Americans who think global warming is caused by human activity, including vehicle and industrial emissions, are now a minority for the first time in nearly two years, a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll said Monday.

Only 45 percent of the 1,041 adults surveyed on Dec. 2-3 thought global warming is a proven fact and mostly caused by human activity, down from 56 percent in October 2007, the survey found.

By comparison, Americans who think global warming is caused by natural changes unrelated to man have increased to 22 percent from 20 percent two years ago, and those who think global warming is a yet unproven theory grew to 31 percent from 23 percent.

Regarding how the U.S. should tackle global warming, 58 percent of those surveyed said it should cut carbon dioxide emissions unilaterally, down from 66 percent in October 2007.

Those who thought the U.S. should cut CO2 emissions only if other countries do so as well remained basically unchanged at 17 percent, from 16 percent two years ago.

But those who said carbon emissions should not be cut regardless of what the rest of the world does jumped to 24 percent, from 15 percent two years ago.


U.S., Turkey aim to boost trade

The United States and NATO ally Turkey launched an initiative Monday aimed at boosting trade and investment ties, but said there were no plans for the two countries to negotiate a free-trade agreement.

“We can … build on what is a good trade and commercial relationship and make it a much more robust one,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said at a press conference with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan.

The initiative creates a new Cabinet-level forum to discuss ways to expand bilateral trade and investment flows and to try to resolve disputes when they arise, similar to one the U.S. has with China.

“This framework … will be an important vehicle for expanding trade and investment and creating new jobs for the workers and the people” of both countries, said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

The announcement followed a White House meeting between President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. plans to send more troops to Afghanistan.


Senator objects to closed meeting

A Republican senator who sponsored a law meant to help people with open-records requests said a government workshop on openness shouldn’t have been closed to the public.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn said it “sends the wrong message” to exclude interested people from the Freedom of Information Act training for federal employees.

The Monday workshop was organized by the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy for agency FOIA public liaisons. It was held in part to introduce them to the new U.S. Office of Government Information Services, set up under the Cornyn legislation to resolve FOIA disputes.

A Justice official said the training was closed because it was in a government building and to allow employees to speak freely. An Associated Press reporter was turned away.


Interior OKs Alaska oil drilling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | The Minerals Management Service on Monday conditionally approved plans by Shell Oil Co. to drill three exploratory wells next year in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the decision in Washington, and said a key component of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil is the environmentally responsible exploration and development of renewable and conventional resources.

“By approving this exploration plan, we are taking a cautious but deliberate step toward developing additional information on the Chukchi Sea,” he said in a release.

Environmental groups bitterly oppose drilling. They say there has not been enough work to assess environmental risks in a sensitive marine ecosystem already stressed by climate change.

“There hasn’t been enough science,” said Marilyn Heiman, director of the Pew Environment Group’s U.S. Arctic program. “We don’t know enough about the Arctic Ocean, particularly the Chukchi Sea, in the face of climate change.”


Congressman battles hepatitis C

Rep. Hank Johnson, Georgia Democrat, has revealed that he has hepatitis C, a serious liver disease that can lead to fatal complications such as cancer or liver failure.

In recent months, Mr. Johnson, 55, has appeared thin and frail. The two-term Atlanta-area congressman said in a statement that he has been undergoing rigorous treatment to eradicate the disease, which was first diagnosed in 1998. He said the treatment is going well and that he has been free of the hepatitis C virus for almost a year.

Mr. Johnson said he doesn’t know how he contracted the virus, which is spread through contact with infected blood. He said he plans to use his public profile to raise awareness of the disease, which infects some 4 million Americans.


Anti-tax activist seeks quick trial

SALEM, Ore. | Anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore said Monday he wants to be tried quickly on tax-evasion charges so he can run for governor next year.

Mr. Sizemore, a Republican, made the statement after he and his wife made their first court appearance on three charges each of failing to file tax returns.

The couple did not enter pleas, but Mr. Sizemore later said he plans to plead not guilty at a Dec. 29 hearing. He also intends to seek a speedy trial so he can get on with his campaign for the May 2010 primary.

“The voters of Oregon - especially Republican voters in the primary - have a right to know whether this guy who is asking for their vote is going to be a convicted felon or whether he is just a victim of political persecution,” Mr. Sizemore told reporters outside court.

Don Hamilton, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said there was nothing in Oregon election law that would prohibit Mr. Sizemore from running for governor, even if he is convicted of a felony.

Mr. Sizemore has sponsored dozens of ballot initiatives to limit taxes and curb public employee unions.

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