Global warming and terror trials

February 2, 2010 2:05:18 PM PST
Oh the cable TV bloviators are having a field day with the cold weather this winter, using it as "evidence" that the whole climate change issue is a bunch of rotten chicken salad.

It's symptomatic of the way we debate these days - jumping on one thing to make a case about something far more complex.

The folks who are worried about global warming were not helped by the discovery that the United Nations' reputable climate science group, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, used a source and data for a global warming theory that wasn't reputable.

I'm not here to debate global warming, just the way we're discussing it. It seems clear that some temperatures have increased - and that can have a horrible domino effect on so many other things.

If our consumption is adding to the problem, might we not want to know about that? And perhaps stop contributing to a greenhouse effect, if it exists?

I would.

But why does everyone who wonders about global warming become someone who is trying to bring about the downfall of our modern society? Are they fighting to the death so that we stop using air conditioning? Is that their goal? That seems to be the bottom line point of some bloviators on cable. I mean, what's the motive here? To control how we set our thermostats? I have a hard time believing that. How about the loftier goal, in their minds, to try to save the planet? I can buy that as their motive.

The flip side is also true - some climate change hardliners do not see any margin of error in their thinking; that's what led in part to the rush to judgment of the flawed study. And that's given the bloviators all sorts of ammo in their war against the concept of global warming.

But to quote one conservative website, which likes to describe all this as "climate-gate" - "revelations on the inadequacies of this global warming data do not undermine the case that humans are causing climate change, and other studies have produced similar findings."

All this is a ramble to get to our 11 p.m. newscast, which includes yet another blast of wintry mix, including snow. Meteorologist Lee Goldberg, who is rather level headed in this regard, is tracking the storm.

Also at 11, what a dust up over where and how to try the 9-11 terror suspects. Lower Manhattan, the scene of the crime that Mayor Bloomberg in the fall said was poetic justice as a venue for the defendants, seems out. The Mayor and just about everyone else say that the costs and the disruption make New York City a highly undesirable place for the trial.

But now comes Round 2 in the debate: Should the defendants be tried in civilian criminal court or a military tribunal? The decision has already been made that they should be tried in federal court, as have other terror suspects, like Zacharias Moussaoui.

In a military court, in terms of rights for a defendant, it's pretty much no habla el Constitution.

Is that the way we want to operate society? Do we want to devalue the rights of individuals the same way the terrorists do? Are we stooping to their level when we deny them our safeguarded rights?

Even the so-called "shoe bomber," Richard Reid, was read his Miranda rights. Four times in two days.

Nonetheless, there's a growing "not in my backyard" movement tonight. We'll have the latest.

While the debate flares about cutting rights of terror suspects, it's flaring again about gay and lesbian rights in the military. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today said allowing gays to serve openly in the military "would be the right thing to do."

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule, ushered in by the Clinton Administration, seems outdated and unfair. But, like the climate debate, this is becoming about politics, and not about open discussion. Sen. John McCain, who is against changing the rule, said three years ago that we should listen to our military leaders as to what to do on Don't Ask Don't Tell. Now, the chief uniformed military leader says change it.

Speaking of harangues about our system, consider this: The Premier of Newfoundland is traveling to the U.S. - at an undisclosed location - to undergo heart surgery. Here, instead of Canada, with a much ballyhooed health care system. A bit strange? Or indicative of a problem? I'm just sayin.

And finally - we can only hope the Premier doesn't show up in one of the hospitals featured in our Consumer Reports tonight. It's a dirty and deadly little secret about hospitals. At least 30,000 patients die each year from bloodstream infections, and now a Consumer Reports analysis shows that all hospitals have to do to eliminate these infections - is follow a few simple hygienic steps.

Sade Baderinwa has our story.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER


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