Proxy War
January 30, 2010

When President Obama launched a massive humanitarian-aid response to Haiti's earthquake last month, not everyone took his magnanimity at face value. Hugo Chavez, for example, accused him of "occupying Haiti undercover" and then upped the ante by saying the earthquake had been caused by an American "tectonic weapon." A minister from France, Haiti's former colonial ruler, complained that the U.S.

The Full Text of Obama's Speech
January 27, 2010

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery The State of the Union Wednesday, January 27, 2009 Washington, DC Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans: Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union.  For two hundred and twenty years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty.  They have done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility.  And they have done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggl

Is The Real Action On Climate Policy In The States?
January 26, 2010

You don't usually hear a whole lot about what individual states are doing to tackle climate change. Surely those efforts, however noble, are just too small to matter—too local, too patchy. The only people who can really make a dent in U.S. energy policy are wandering around Capitol Hill, right? It's Congress or bust? Well, maybe. But that option's not looking too bright these days, given the fog around whether Congress will even pass a climate bill this year (or next year, or…).

Turf Warrior
January 25, 2010

In the shadow of the intelligence failure that culminated with Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab lighting an explosive aboard a Detroit-bound flight, the titular head of the U.S. intelligence community was busy fighting another war. For months, in fact, Admiral Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence (DNI), had been waging an epic bureaucratic offensive. His job had been created in the wake of September 11 to foster cooperation and accountability among the 16 agencies sifting through the mounds of inbound data about threats to U.S. interests.

The Social Pathology of Dubai
January 19, 2010

Everybody is aware of the drama now being played out in Dubai. And, frankly, the relief given by Abu Dhabi, its abutting oil-rich emirate in the confederation of self-indulgent and non-productive Arabs, will only buy time for Dubai, which will have to turn over to its cousins whatever assets remain under its robes. The New York Times published a Sunday editorial which seems to counsel aid to Dubai, as if any structural disaster would follow if there weren’t any.

What's The Deal With The Himalayan Glaciers?
January 19, 2010

How fast are glaciers in the Himalyas disappearing? This is suddenly a hugely contentious issue. For years, there's been this estimate floating around that glaciers in the region could vanish as early as 2035 if current warming trends continue. Suffice to say, that would be bad news, given that the glaciers help regulate the water supply for rivers in India and China. Anyway, that 2035 figure snuck into the IPCC's 2007 report. And it's been repeated by a number of journalists—including me. But it turns out there's no solid basis for saying Himalyas's glaciers will vanish by 2035.

Gathering Clouds
January 13, 2010

Google’s reasons for leaving China aren’t as pure as they seem.

Why China's Trains Are Breaking Records
January 11, 2010

This month, China started operating the fastest high-speed rail system in the world—a 600-mile line between Wuhan and Guangzhou that clocks an average of 193 miles per hour (and peaks at 245). MIT Technology Review explains what makes the new train so fleet.

Some Wishes for the Next Decade
January 06, 2010

I sit in one of the dives On Fifty-second Street Uncertain and afraid As the clever hopes expire Of a low dishonest decade --W. H. Auden, “September 1, 1939” It’s official: For the United States, the Naughts were a lost decade--zero job creation, declining household net worth, and the slowest GDP growth (by far) since the 1930s. And yet, Americans remain remarkably optimistic.

Should We Believe The Thorium Hype?
January 05, 2010

Has any element on the periodic table gotten better press lately than thorium? (Okay, maybe lithium, what with all the fuss over electric-car batteries.) The December issue of Wired has a long feature by Richard Martin on why good old Th could be a miracle fuel for nuclear power. Here's why it beats uranium, for starters: Uranium is currently the actinide of choice for the [nuclear] industry, used (sometimes with a little plutonium) in 100 percent of the world’s commercial reactors. But it’s a problematic fuel.