The Bulletin’s Science and Security Board announces its 2013 decision to keep in place the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock: It will remain at five minutes to midnight. In this open letter to US President Barack Obama, the Board presents its views on the key issues that affected its decision and provides the president with recommendations to consider in 2013 and throughout his second term.
Editor’s note: Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists subsequently created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero), to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and new technologies emerging in other domains.
January 14, 2013
Dear President Obama,
2012 was a year in which the problems of the world pressed forward, but too many of its citizens stood back. In the US elections the focus was “the economy, stupid,” with barely a word about the severe long-term trends that threaten the population’s well-being to a far greater extent: climate change, the continuing menace of nuclear oblivion, and the vulnerabilities of the world’s energy sources. 2012 was the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States, marked by devastating drought and brutal storms. These extreme events are exactly what climate models predict for an atmosphere overburdened with greenhouse gases. 2012 was a year of unrealized opportunity to reduce nuclear stockpiles, to lower the immediacy of destruction from missiles on alert, and to control the spread of fissile materials and keep nuclear terrorism at bay. 2012 was a year in which — one year after the partial meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station — the Japanese nation continued to be at the earliest stages of what will be a costly and long recovery.
The stasis of 2012 convinces us, the Science and Security Board, to keep the hands of the Doomsday Clock in place.
Mr. President, we see 2013 as a year for vision and engagement. We know that decisive action can make the world safer. Humanity awaits the US leadership that can secure a future free of nuclear weapons. US action can induce the world’s nations to negotiate international agreements to avert the worst calamities of climate change. We turn to you, Mr. President, to lead us toward a safer world and to help us turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock.
It remains five minutes to midnight.
Nuclear weapons. Mr. President, we applaud the steps your administration has already taken: ratifying the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), holding to firm account potential violators of the keystone Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), strengthening the global nuclear security regime, and reducing the opportunities and chances of success for terrorists to get hold of fissile material. We are glad that your commitment to the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty — for which we are confident you will seek Senate approval — has not wavered.
This post and the stream of comments will warm your heart.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones slammed conservative personality Glenn Beck on Monday, attacking his supposed libertarian credentials.
“I’m a constitutional libertarian who loves freedom, and my views are my own, and that little piece of trash needs to know this,” Jones continued. “You jackass mainline conservatives don’t speak for me. You’re the ones that have discredited true conservatism and libertarianism. Thomas Jefferson would spit on you, you little bastard, you little piece of trash. That’s what I have to say to Glenn Beck. I’m sick of him.”
This… is hilarious. It’s like watching a couple of two year olds with buckets on their heads trying to get out of a closet.
An Eastern Kentucky sheriff said Saturday that he will not enforce any new gun control laws that he considers unconstitutional.
Asked whether such a stance makes him more a judge than a law-enforcement official, Jackson County Sheriff Denny Peyman said he has “a team of attorneys to step up with me if necessary to be sure the Second Amendment is upheld.”
“I consider this a moral obligation,” he said.
Peyman, who has been sheriff of Jackson County for two years and is a member of the National Rifle Association, is garnering national attention and support from gun rights advocates for saying Saturday, “My office will not comply with any federal actions which violate the United States Constitution or the Kentucky Constitution which I swore to uphold.”
Apparently, when gun nut law enforcement officials don’t get their way they are then given the power to decide what is and is not constitutional as well as deciding which laws to enforce.
Dell Inc., the personal-computer maker that lost almost a third of its value last year, is in buyout talks with private-equity firms, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
Round Rock, Texas-based Dell is discussing going private with at least two firms, said one of the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. The discussions are preliminary and could fall apart because the firms may not be able to line up the needed financing or resolve how to exit the investment in the future, the people said.
Several large banks have been contacted about financing an offer, one of the people said.
Chief Executive Officer Michael Dell has been using acquisitions to help the company he founded sell more computers and services to businesses. Dell is struggling to regain share in the PC market as consumers switch to tablets, including Apple Inc.’s iPad, and smartphones such as the handsets that use Google Inc.’s Android software.
CEO Dell owns 15.7 percent of the company, making it easier for firms to put together equity financing for the deal, one of the people said.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. upgraded the stock to buy in December, saying that Dell’s net cash balance presents an opportunity for a leveraged buyout.
While demand for PCs has declined, Dell’s net cash balance of $5.15 billion provides “some downside buffer as it produces opportunity for an LBO or levered recap under the right conditions,” Bill Shope, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, wrote in the report. “Dell has become an attractive deep value play and we would be buyers of the stock.”
Michael Dell, who retook the CEO position in 2007, said in 2010 he had considered taking the company private.
Yes, advertising and journalism have long been strange bedfellows. Yes, print outlets publishing long-form ads which appear to be ordinary stories is nothing new either. However, this strikes me as a new low: an advertisement painstakingly designed to mimic content on The Atlantic’s site.
From the tweet counter at the top, to the ads designed to appear to be related pro-Scientology stories on the sidebar, to the comments section at the bottom (thoughtfully stocked with praise for Scientology), this page has absolutely been created to fool anyone who misses the relatively small box revealing this as “sponsor content” that this is a piece created by the staff of The Atlantic.
Again, I have seen all kinds of magazines publish all kinds of advertising. However, this is the very first time an ad has made me feel like I need to take a hot shower…and seriously reconsider my subscription. Am I overreacting?
UPDATE! The ad has now been “suspended pending a review”, so here is a screen capture so you can get some idea of what the fuss was about:
And a link to Gawker’s take on this which features a screen grab of the thing in full:
ANOTHER UPDATE! Either I wasn’t overreacting or I wasn’t the only one doing so. The Atlantic has apologized:
We screwed up. Our statement on the Scientology advertisement that appeared on our website: theatln.tc/W8Igi0
— The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) January 15, 2013
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey was “emotional at times,” according to a person familiar with the situation, and it followed an apology to the staff at the Livestrong Foundation that left some of them in tears.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity and would neither confirm nor deny that the disgraced cyclist confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs during the taping, which is scheduled to be broadcast Thursday night and is supposed to remain confidential until then.
A group of about 10 close friends and advisers to Armstrong left a downtown Austin hotel about three hours after they arrived Monday afternoon for the interview. Among them were Armstrong attorneys Tim Herman and Sean Breen, along with Bill Stapleton, Armstrong’s longtime agent, manager and business partner. All declined comment entering and exiting the session.
Soon afterward, Winfrey tweeted: “Just wrapped with (at)lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!” She was scheduled to appear on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday to discuss the interview.
Armstrong stopped at the Livestrong Foundation, which he founded, on his way to the interview and said, “I’m sorry” to staff members, some of whom broke down in tears. A person with knowledge of that session said Armstrong choked up and several employees cried during the session.
n the wake of these toxic statements about a horrific crime, a leading anti-abortion group is now leaping to the Republican Party’s rescue with a training program to teach GOP lawmakers how to speak about this subject:
Gingrey’s lengthy explanation of what Akin meant was quickly circulated by Democrats, repudiated by medical groups, and had some Republicans smacking their heads in frustration.
And it may have added new urgency to a training program that’s already being launched by an anti-abortion group — the Susan B. Anthony list — to keep candidates and lawmakers from continually making the same kind of comments that may have helped ruin Republicans’ chances of winning the Senate.
It’s amazing that anyone would need a training program to figure out how to talk about rape. In the words of former Romney adviser Kevin Madden, “[t]his is actually pretty simple. If you’re about to talk about rape as anything other than a brutal and horrible crime, stop.”