Friday, August 1, 2003
1. THE POINDEXTER FILE: WOULD ANYONE CARE TO BET ON HIS FUTURE?
An $8M Pentagon plan to set up a futures market in Middle Eastern developments was hastily scrapped
when it was met with derision and revulsion. Called the Policy Analysis Market, the plan was to base
intelligence judgements on betting patterns. Uh fellas, the alleged predictive value of futures
activity is merely a sign of illegal insider trading. Anyway, the person in charge of this fiasco,
Adm. John Poindexter, has already been banished. That's good, but here's an insider trading tip: John
Poindexter has been banished before. National Security Advisor to President Reagan (WN 6 Dec 85),
Poindexter devised a "disinformation" plan to mislead Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (WN 3 Oct 86).
There's no indication that Gadhafi was misled, but American newspapers were. Then, the infamous
"Poindexter Memorandum" sought to extend government control over unclassified private databases (WN 14
Nov 86). A central figure in the Iran-contra scandal, his conviction for lying to Congress was later
set aside on the grounds that immunized testimony had been used against him. He disappeared from
public view for several years, only to reappear with Bush II as head of the DARPA office responsible
for Total Information Awareness (WN 20 Dec 02). Yesterday it was announced that Poindexter is leaving
the Pentagon - we hope for good.
2. CLIMATE STUDY: EMBRACED BY WHITE HOUSE, BUT TRASHED BY EDITOR.
The widely held view that the 20th Century was the warmest of the millennium is disputed in a study by
two astronomers, Soon and Baliunas of Harvard-Smithsonian, published in the January issue of the
journal Climate Research. Both authors are associated with the conservative George C. Marshall
Institute, known for its Star-Wars believers and warming deniers. The Bush administration took the
unusual step of inserting a reference to the Soon-Baliunas paper in the EPA's recent report on the
environment, replacing a statement that temperatures have risen significantly in recent decades. The
editor-in-chief of Climate Research, Hans von Storch of the University of Hamburg, believed the review
process of the Soon and Baliunas paper was flawed and wanted to publish an editorial to that effect;
von Storch was prevented from doing so by the publisher and has resigned in protest. Meanwhile, other
papers strongly dispute the Soon-Baliunas study.
3. SENATE ENERGY BILL: IN ANY INCARNATION, NO CAFE CHANGE.
The Senate this week debated an 800-page bill to set the nation's energy policy. On Wednesday, an
amendment to significantly increase fuel efficiency in all passenger vehicles, especially SUVs, was
defeated by a 2-1 margin. The same thing happened two years ago (WN
3 Aug 01). Then, just last night, the
Senate scrapped all the work they'd done and re-approved the version they wrote last year, when the
Democrats were in the majority. That bill has no fuel efficiency increases, either. The change also
prevented a vote to cap carbon-dioxide emissions.
(Andrew Essin contributed to this issue of What’s New.)