Environment Correspondent
Deborah's Feed
Jan 20, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

The complicated question of Haiti’s orphans

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The devastation caused by Haiti’s earthquake has extended to some of its youngest and most powerless victims: orphans awaiting clearance to join adoptive families in the United States.

The U.S. government has already said it will allow orphaned children from Haiti to come to the United States temporarily for needed medical treatment, and on Wednesday expanded its effort.

Jan 20, 2010

U.S. counterterror agency lacks “Google-like” search

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A senior counterterrorism official said on Wednesday his agency lacks “Google-like” search capability that could have identified the suspect in the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing.

The National Counterterrorism Center, the agency charged with reviewing disparate data to protect against attacks, does not have a computer search engine that could have checked for various spellings of the alleged bomber’s name and his birthplace in Nigeria, the center’s chief told a Senate hearing on security reform.

Jan 14, 2010
via Tales from the Trail

Doomsday Clock rolls back — what would you do with an extra minute?

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Good news! We’re one symbolic minute further away from total annihilation!

The Doomsday Clock, created  in 1947 to dramatize the nuclear threat, was reset today to six minutes before midnight, back from five minutes before midnight — midnight being the symbol of the Ultimate Big Kaboom. Or as the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists puts it, “the figurative end of civilization.”

The board, which includes 19 Nobel laureates, has only adjusted the clock’s virtual hands 18 times, most recently in 2007 when the board moved it forward by two minutes. They cited North Korea’s test of a nuclear weapon, Iran’s nuclear ambitions and a renewed U.S. emphasis on the military utility of nuclear weapons.

Jan 12, 2010

Unusual Arctic warmth as north hemisphere shivers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – While much of the Northern Hemisphere has shivered in a cold snap in recent weeks, temperatures in the Arctic soared to unusually high levels, U.S. scientists reported.

This strange atmospheric pattern is caused by natural variability and not by rising levels of greenhouse gases. However, it could affect Arctic ice which in turn may impact global warming, said Mark Serreze, director of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado.

Jan 6, 2010

Democrat Sen. Dorgan plans to leave Senate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, announced on Tuesday he will not run for another six-year term, a move that could threaten his party’s 60-vote majority in the Senate.

Dorgan said his decision was not related to the prospect of a tough election battle this year but because he felt it was time to pursue other interests after 30 years in Congress.

Dec 22, 2009
via Tales from the Trail

Ho Ho Healthcare

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Nothing says Christmas in Washington like a cloture vote!

Keep those fir trees, ornaments, the city blanketed in white — though of course the U.S. capital has all of those this year too. What real Washingtonians are looking for is a getaway by December 25. And with an early morning vote  today to cut off Senate debate on healthcare reform legislation, it could actually happen.

It’s all about cloture. And don’t feel bad if you’ve never seen that word before. It’s an inside-the-Beltway term that means agreeing to limit legislative debate. Cloture requires a 60-vote majority of the 100-member Senate, rather than a simple majority. It’s going to take three cloture votes to get to the final vote on the bill, expected late on Christmas Eve.

Dec 21, 2009
via Tales from the Trail

Washington Irony Alert!

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Washington D.C. is usually known as a town that takes itself very seriously. You know, policy, politics, money, relieved by the occasional scandal. President Barack Obama appears to be doing his part to alleviate this metropolitan irony deficiency.

As morning TV showed closed airports, closed schools, snarled traffic and grumpy commuters and holiday travelers, there was video from the White House showing First Dog Bo frolicking in the snow left from a massive weekend storm.

Dec 11, 2009
via Tales from the Trail

Unveiling the Obama Doctrine

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President Barack Obama did more than collect his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. Besides the trumpet fanfare, the black-tie festivities, the pomp, the circumstance and of course the speech, he unveiled what Washington-watchers are calling the Obama doctrine. But what is it, exactly?

A quick online search shows an early mention of the Obama doctrine in March 2008, when Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton were still slugging it out for the Democratic presidential nomination. The American Prospect cited Obama speeches starting in January of that election year and talked to Obama’s foreign policy team to get an idea of what the future president’s world view might be. One key quote from the candidate on the Iraq war was seen as defining the doctrine: ”I don’t want to just end the war, but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place.”

Dec 10, 2009
via Tales from the Trail

How Obama’s Nobel speech played in Washington

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For a man who just won the Nobel Peace Prize, President Barack Obama didn’t look all that happy as he strode to the lectern in Oslo. He had that downturned smile that was almost an acknowledgement of all the critics who say the award is premature — especially for a commander-in-chief who has just vowed to send 30,000 more U.S. troops into harm’s way in Afghanistan.

The speech itself didn’t make much of a splash on morning television in Washington. None of the major TV networks carried it live, though CNN did, cutting away from Obama from time to time to show an audience listening attentively, with a few eyelids drooping. But viewers didn’t have many options if they wanted to see the speech as it happened. They could see a blink of Obama sandwiched in between the televised feature stories — Dillie the Deer, a taped interview with first lady Michelle Obama, a duel interview with Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman to promote their new movie.

Dec 8, 2009

SCENARIOS: EPA rules vs Congress’s laws on climate change

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – What happens next in the long-running U.S. drama over limiting greenhouse emissions could come down to a duel over whether rules or laws should dominate the policy landscape.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s declaration Monday that greenhouse pollution poses a health hazard clears the way for regulation to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other chemicals that spur climate change. The EPA has already set in motion regulations that target emissions from motor vehicles and will determine how much carbon comes from stationary sources like factories.

    • About Deborah

      "I started with Reuters in 1986 in New York City, moving to Washington DC two years later. I've covered the Winter Olympics in Calgary and Salt Lake City, a couple wars, the State Department, White House, Pentagon, several long trials and a presidential sex scandal. Since 2006, I've been reporting on the environment and climate change."
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