November 23, 2008

TWC Clear-Cuts Enviro Show; Status of Critic Who Wanted to De-License AGW Skeptics Unclear

TheWeatherChannelWho says there aren’t some positive side-effects to a slowing economy?

I’d say this one, as reported by the Washington Post’s “Capital Weather Gang” blog, qualifies:

NBC Universal made the first of potentially several rounds of staffing cuts at The Weather Channel (TWC) on Wednesday, axing the entire staff of the “Forecast Earth” environmental program …..

The layoffs totaled about 10 percent of the workforce, and are among the first major changes made since NBC completed its purchase of the venerable weather network in September.

….. The timing of the Forecast Earth cancellation was ironic, since it came in the middle of NBC’s “Green Week,” during which the network has been touting its environmental coverage across all of its platforms. Forecast Earth normally aired on weekends, but its presumed last episode was shown on a weekday due to the environmentally-oriented week.

Forecast Earth was hosted by former CNN anchor Natalie Allen, with contributions from climate expert Heidi Cullen. It was the sole program on TWC that focused on global climate change, which raises the question of whether the station will still report on the subject. Cullen’s future role at the network is not known.

What will we ever do without periodic preaching from the likes of Allen and Cullen at Forecast Earth? Maybe we can concentrate on moving the economy back to growth instead of hearing bogus pap about how economic growth will kill us all.

If Heidi Cullen gets the axe, you will have to excuse me for maintaining bone-dry tear ducts, as she has certainly been unconcerned about the continued employment of fellow meterologists who happen to disagree with her.

In December 2006, Cullen infamously advocated decertifying meteorologists skeptical of global warming:

If a meteorologist has an AMS Seal of Approval, which is used to confer legitimacy to TV meteorologists, then meteorologists have a responsibility to truly educate themselves on the science of global warming. (One good resource if you don’t have a lot of time is the Pew Center’s Climate Change 101.)

Meteorologists are among the few people trained in the sciences who are permitted regular access to our living rooms. And in that sense, they owe it to their audience to distinguish between solid, peer-reviewed science and junk political controversy. If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn’t agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns. It’s like allowing a meteorologist to go on-air and say that hurricanes rotate clockwise and tsunamis are caused by the weather. It’s not a political statement…it’s just an incorrect statement.

Oklahoma Senator Jim Imhofe at the web site of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee had this to say in reaction:

Broadcast meteorologists (TV weatherman) skeptical of climate alarmism have — up until now — been unburdened to speak out on climate issues. Cullen’s call for decertification by the AMS can only serve to intimidate skeptics and further chill free speech in the scientific community. Stripping the “Seal of Approval” from broadcast meteorologists could affect their livelihoods, impact their salaries and prestige. TV weathermen are truly the last of the independent scientists and past surveys have shown many of them to be skeptical of manmade global warming claims. Their independence is being threatened now.

….. Intimidating scientists with calls for death trials (as a guest on one of Cullen’s shows did — Ed.), name calling and calls for decertification appears to be the accepted tactics of the climate alarmists. The real question is: Why do climate alarmists feel the need to resort to such low brow tactics when they have a compliant media willing to repeat their every assertion without question?

Perhaps we’ve just learned the answer to Imhofe’s question. It may be that increased skepticism over global warming and climate change claims first reduces proponents’ credibility, then erodes their TV ratings, and finally causes them to lose their jobs.

Even if Cullen is let go, don’t worry about her. A November 11, 2008 post at Forecast Earth’s blog by Natalie Allen about green brainwashing in our nation’s schools (there’s not a more delicate way to put it) suggests a new career path for Cullen and other Weather Channelers just released:

Arizona State University, Tempe, (also on the Honor Roll) which started this Fall offering a new major to undergraduates in Sustainability.

….. And what will students do with their Sustainability degrees? Dr. Heidi Cullen will talk with us about the green jobs that are available. And there are all kinds. Recently I interviewed a venture capitalist (VCs) in Silicon Valley who said Stanford graduates with environmental degrees are in high demand.

Cullen and her let-go cohorts can thus attempt to sustain her careers and find alternative employment by obtaining that coveted Sustainability degree. That plan will work as long as the VCs are convinced that funding environmental start-ups, courtesy of heavy subsidies from Uncle Sam, has potential.

But Cullen et al will be in trouble again if Barack Obama’s promises relating to “green jobs” have a shelf life similar to the ones we’ve seen thrown overboard in the just under three weeks since he was elected. The fact is that without heavy government subsidies, many green investments won’t pass VCs’ expected return requirements, and thus won’t get funded.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Obama Appointee Questionnaire Demands Info on Individual AND Family Gun Ownership

It’s over at NewsBusters.

‘Joe the Plumber’ Data Dive Whistleblower Nearly Invisible

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:26 am

It’s very doubtful that the name “Vanessa Niekamp” rings a bell with very many readers here. That’s because the media elites like some whistleblowers, and not others.

In other circumstances, someone like Ms. Niekamp would be a heroine. In the current circumstances, she’s barely a footnote. In my opinion, it’s because she was involved in exposing shenanigans conducted on behalf of the then-presidential candidate the media loves and adores that threatened to derail his march to victory.

If it weren’t for Vanessa Niekamp, the public might not have learned of the duplicitous and likely extra-legal dives into State of Ohio databases by state employees determined to dig up dirt on Joe the Plumber. A subsequent investigation by the Ohio Inspector General (OIG; PDF is accessible at the first item at this link) determined that Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Helen Jones-Kelley and state employees at other agencies had engaged in “improper” records checks “without any legitimate business purpose.”

WBNS-TV in Columbus followed up with Niekamp after the OIG released its report:

The state employee who blew the whistle on improper searches into the background of the man known as “Joe The Plumber” said Friday that she never expected to be thrown into the middle of such controversy.

According to a report issued Thursday by Ohio Inspector General Thomas Charles, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services agency director Helen Jones-Kelley improperly used state computers to find personal information regarding Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, a Toledo-area man known as Joe the Plumber.

….. The inspector general’s report also concluded that Jones-Kelley improperly used state e-mail to engage in political activity.

Vanessa Niekamp, a 15-year ODJFS employee, was recognized by the Inspector General for coming forward with information about the searches.

During her career, Niekamp has been involved in training other state employees about what’s off limits regarding state databases. In an interview Friday, Niekamp said she never thought she’d find herself in the middle of such a situation.

….. Niekamp’s boss, ODJFS deputy director Doug Thompson, forced her to send an e-mail covering up the reason behind the searches into Wurzelbacher.

….. Niekamp said she was hopeful that there would not be backlash at the ODJFS office, and her attorney said he was prepared for legal action if necessary.

“It’s part of every state employees job to report anything that they may have concern over, or potentially think might be unethical,” Niekamp said. “You have family members you have neighbors and you’re serving them, too. If it were one of them would you want them to know.”

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland “punished” Jones-Kelley with a one-month suspension without pay. The governor’s related press release betrays his resentment of and antagonism towards having to deal with the matter (bolds are mine):

Helen Jones-Kelley has dedicated her life to helping the most vulnerable among us. She is recognized nationally as an expert in the field of foster care and she has worked commendably for many years as an advocate for children, families and workers in her native Montgomery County and the state of Ohio. I value her contributions to the state and her local community.

However, I accept the Inspector General’s judgment that there was not an adequate business purpose for the searches in question. ….. Therefore, today I have issued a one-month unpaid suspension for Director Helen Jones-Kelley.

My goodness, you would think the woman is on par with Mother Teresa, when in fact she’s a state bureaucrat making $142,000 a year.

And Ted: Don’t give us this “not adequate business purpose” garbage. What about “without any legitimate business purpose” don’t you understand?

On Friday, just in time for the weekend news dump, Strickland handed out similar “punishments” to four others.

Niekamp’s invisibility is evidenced by this Google News search on her full name in quotes, which returned all of 29 items, even with duplicates, as of 10 a.m. this morning. The New York Times has never mentioned her name, nor has the Washington Post (both searches were done without quotes.

I hope Ms. Niekamp’s referenced legal representation is strong, as it’s reasonable to anticipate that her whistleblowing will not go unpunished.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.