Daily Archives: November 6, 2008

Obama’s victory suggests a New Political Order in the making

McClatchy Newspapers | Nov 5, 2008


WASHINGTON — Barack Hussein Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday, swept to victory by a country eager to change course at home and abroad.

Obama, 47, becomes the first African-American in U.S. history to win the presidency and the first from the generation that came of age after the turbulence of the 1960s.

His win suggests a New Political Order in the making. He drew masses of young people to politics for the first time. His biracial heritage reflects the changing demographic face of America. His mastery of the Internet matched the rise of a new information age. And his push into formerly Republican states in the South, Midwest and West marked a new political landscape possibly emerging.

After an epic struggle, the first-term Democratic senator from Illinois defeated Republican John McCain, 72, a hero of the Vietnam War and a four-term senator from Arizona.

“It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America,” a triumphant Obama told a cheering audience of an estimated 125,000 supporters in Chicago’s Grant Park, alongside Lake Michigan.

To those watching from abroad, he said that “a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down — we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security — we support you.”

He lauded his wife, Michelle, and saluted McCain, calling him a “brave and selfless leader.”

McCain conceded the election in a call to Obama at 10 p.m. CST. Obama responded that he looked forward to working with McCain in the Senate. “I need your help. You’re a leader on so many important issues,” Obama told him.

McCain then faced his disappointed supporters under clear skies outside a Phoenix hotel.

“The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly,” McCain said with his wife, Cindy, at his side.

McCain saluted Obama for his success and noted his unique triumph as an African-American. “I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together,” he said.

He also lauded his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who would’ve become the nation’s first female vice president.

President Bush called Obama shortly after 11 p.m. in Washington. “You are about to go on one of the great journeys of life,” Bush told the president-elect. “Congratulations and go enjoy yourself.”

Obama was at the vanguard of Democratic gains across the country that promised him a solid working majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Eager for a popular mandate to reshape the government, Obama appeared well on his way late Tuesday night to become the first Democrat to take a majority of the popular vote since Jimmy Carter eked out a 50.1 percent win in 1976.

Obama sealed his victory by holding all the states that went Democratic in 2004, then picking off Republican states including Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio.

Ohio was particularly important: No Republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio. No Democrat had won the White House without it since Kennedy.

There as everywhere, the faltering economy dominated voters’ minds and tilted the political landscape solidly against the Republicans as the party of power — and responsibility — in the White House.

Interest was intense.

More than 40 million Americans had already voted by Tuesday morning, and total turnout was expected to top 130 million. The turnout rate was likely to rival the modern record of 67 percent set in 1960, the highest since women were granted the right to vote in 1920.

The Democratic wins came at a moment of history when the country was unusually anxious, as eight years of a Republican presidency are ending with an economy sinking into recession, markets in turmoil and U.S. troops at war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

President Bush, whose popularity plummeted after his close re-election four years ago, was all but invisible Tuesday, shunned on the campaign trail and watching the returns in the seclusion of the White House.

He voted earlier by absentee ballot in Texas, where he expects to move after leaving office Jan. 20.

Bush loomed large over the election, however, as both Obama and McCain vowed to change course.

From the start, Obama ran on the promise of change, both in policy and political style. Unknown outside Chicago just four years ago, he seized the national stage with a keynote speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention that gave voice to a hunger for a less confrontational and divisive politics. That appealed particularly to a new generation of young Americans, drawn into politics in large numbers, who helped Obama defeat New York Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in a 50-state marathon that pitted his promise of change against her offer of experience.

Obama vowed to change tax and economic policy to help the working and middle classes, expand healthcare to the uninsured, withdraw troops from Iraq and rebuild frayed relationships and alliances with countries around the world.

He also promised to raise taxes on the wealthy to help finance his expansion of programs for the poor.

McCain, too, promised change. He urged voters, particularly independents, to consider his long tradition of maverick reform that often challenged his own party. “I am not President Bush,” he insisted.

But it was all but impossible for McCain to shake the Bush legacy — a burden made worse when Vice President Dick Cheney decided to issue a public endorsement of McCain on the final pre-election weekend. It was the subject of one of the final ads of the campaign — aired not by a proud McCain, but by Obama.

Flying home to Phoenix on Tuesday afternoon, McCain and his aides sounded a sentimental note about the campaign.

“We’ve had a great ride, a great experience and it’s full of memories that we will always treasure,” McCain said as he spoke with reporters on his plane.

McCain’s chief campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt, later told reporters that McCain was already facing a hostile political landscape as the face of the Republican Party when Wall Street collapsed in September and voters grew even angrier.

“We did our absolute best in this campaign in really difficult circumstances,” Schmidt said.

“We did the best we can in historically difficult circumstances from a political climate. It is highly doubtful that anyone will ever have to run in a worse political climate than the one John McCain had to run in this year.

“The party’s been very unpopular. The president’s approval numbers, you know, were not helpful in the race but the party as a whole is unpopular with the American people and that was a big albatross.”

Alarmists Still Heated Even As World Cools

It’s been a bad year for global warming alarmists. Record cold periods and snowfalls are occurring around the globe. The hell that the radicals have promised is freezing over.

INVESTOR’S DAILY | Nov 4, 2008

As the British House of Commons debated a climate-change bill that pledged the United Kingdom to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050, London was hit by its first October snow since 1922.

Apparently Mother Nature wasn’t paying attention. The British people, however, are paying attention — to reality. A poll found that 60% of them doubt the claims that global warming is both man-made and urgent.

Elsewhere, the Swiss lowlands last month received the most snow for any October since records began. Zurich got 20 centimeters, breaking the record of 14 centimeters set in 1939. Ocala, Fla., experienced its second-lowest October temperature since 1850.

October temperatures fell to record lows in Oregon as well. On Oct. 10, Boise, Idaho, got the earliest snow in its history — 1.7 inches. That beat the old record by seven-tenths of an inch and one day on the calendar.

In the Southern Hemisphere, where winter was winding down, Durban, South Africa, had its coldest September night in history in the middle of the month. Some regions of the country had unusual late-winter snows. A month earlier, New Zealand officials reported that Mount Ruapehu had its largest snow base ever.

At the top of the world, the International Arctic Research Center reported last month, there was 29% more Arctic sea ice this year than last.

None of this matters, of course, to the warming zealots. It doesn’t matter if it’s too dry or too wet, too hot or too cold. All of it, they say, is caused by global warming.

We believe, however, as do many reputable scientists, that the warming and cooling of the Earth is a natural phenomenon dictated by forces beyond our control, from ocean currents to solar activity.

The latest warming trend, which appears to have ended in 1998, is the result of the end of the Little Ice Age, which extended from roughly the 16th century to the 19th. During that period, Muir Glacier in Alaska filled Glacier Bay. In fact, when the first Russian explorers arrived in Alaska in the 1740s, there was no Glacier Bay — just a wall of ice where the entrance would be.

As the Earth warmed, long before SUVs roamed the globe, Alaska’s glaciers also warmed and began to recede, starting in the 1800s. All that may be changing. During the winter and summer of 2007-2008, unusually large amounts of winter snow were followed by unusually cold temperatures in June, July and August.

“In June, I was surprised to see snow still at sea level in Prince William Sound,” says U.S. Geological Survey glaciologist Bruce Molnia. “On the Juneau Icefield, there was still 20 feet of new snow on the surface of the Taku Glacier in late July.”

It was the worst summer he’d seen in two decades.

As the Anchorage Daily News reports, “Never before in the history of a research project dating back to 1946 had the Juneau Icefield witnessed the kind if snow buildup that came this year. It was similar on a lot of other glaciers too.”

It’s been “a long time on most glaciers,” Molnia says, “where they’ve actually had positive mass balance.” In other words, more snow is falling in the winter than melts in the summer, making the glaciers thicker in the middle.

Glaciers can appear to be shrinking even as they are growing. Photos taken from ships can record receding edges even as mass is building inland. When they get thick enough, the weight forces the glacier to advance.

The U.S. may owe its ascension to a global power on the global warming that began with the end of the Little Ice Age, which almost doomed the American Revolution. George Washington’s famous winter at Valley Forge was part of that natural phenomenon.

As the climate warmed from 1800 to 1900, the U.S. tripled in size, spreading westward to straddle a continent. The population of the windy and very cold trading post known as Chicago grew from 4,000 in 1800 to 1.5 million by 1900, sitting on a great lake carved by glaciers long since receded.

Due to a decline in solar activity and other factors, the Earth is cooling and has been since 1998. And a peer-reviewed study published in April by Nature predicts the world will continue cooling at least through 2015.

Now, if only we could get the warming alarmists to face facts and cool it as well.


Robot packs to hunt down non-cooperative humans


Gladiator Tactical Unmanned Ground Vehicle

The Department of Defense wants your designs for a collaborative robotic team
Popular Science | Nov 5, 2008

Robots That Hunt in Packs

By John Brandon

The Department of Defense has put out a call: design a pack of robots. A so-called Multi-Robot Pursuit System would be used to “search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject.” Each robot has to weigh 100 kilograms or less, act autonomously (with a human squad leader), negotiate obstacles, and provide immediate feedback. The robots would report back to a human operator, and defer to that human when the robot AI determines that a “difficult decision” is required.

The first phase of development is to create the sensors for detecting humans and to conduct feasibility experiments. Then comes the building of a prototype with fully functional sensors. At that point, a third phase would try to establish whether a pack of such robots — about three to five in number — could realistically be used for missions involving, according to the proposal, “search and rescue, fire-fighting, reconnaissance, and automated biological, chemical, and radiation sensing with mobile platforms.”

Part of the latter phase would involve the robots moving through an obstacle course and making search-and-rescue decisions, maintaining awareness of and line-of-site with a subject. Limited information is available about the program’s mandate, but the proposal’s topic number indicates that it is a U.S. Army project, from which one could infer that the robots would be used in military missions.

Robot drones are currently used as unmanned aircraft to provide early warning in combat. In the past, military officials have noted that robots would likely not be used to replace soldiers on the battlefield because of the ethical dilemmas involved.