NASA tries to silence its top climate researcher

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:11 AM GMT on January 30, 2006

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NASA�s top climate researcher has been told by his superiors to stop voicing his opinions on climate change. Dr. James Hansen, director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in a New York Times interview that the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since a Dec. 6 lecture at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. In the talk, he gave his personal views that significant emission cuts could be achieved with existing technologies, particularly in the case of motor vehicles. Furthermore, he expressed his opinion that without United States leadership, climate change would eventually leave the earth "a different planet."

Dr. Hansen is one of the world�s foremost climate researchers. He has published hundreds of papers and testified numerous times before Congress on the issue of climate change. He said that NASA headquarters officials had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists. He was warned of �dire consequences� if his public statements continued. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions, noting that NASA's mission statement includes the phrase "to understand and protect our home planet."

A public affairs official at NASA said that government scientists were free to discuss scientific issues, but that policy statements should be left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen. Since Dr. Hansen�s December 6 talk, NASA has rejected several media requests to interview him, including one by National Public Radio (NPR). According to Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the NASA Goddard Institute, a NASA public affairs official appointed by the White House, George Deutsch, rejected the NPR interview request. He called NPR �the most liberal� media outlet in the country, and that his job was �to make the president look good.� Deutsch denied making the statements. McCarthy disagrees, saying she has no reason to lie.

The effort to control information coming out of NASA echoes similar directives issued last Fall in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when on September 29, a memo aimed all National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees (including those in the National Weather Service) ordered them not to speak to the national media unless the interview request was first approved by public affairs personnel. I talked to a contact at NWS who confirmed that the memo was indeed sent out, and was likely done in response to the political fallout from the Katrina disaster.

Both NASA and NOAA have emphasized that the rules preventing scientists from speaking freely to the media had always been in place, but that the rules were being enforced more rigorously now. I say the new enforced restrictions are ridiculous. Our scientists have never needed these restrictions in the past. Our tax-payer salaried scientists should be free to speak out on more than just their scientific findings without the chilling oversight of politically-appointed officials concerned with �making the president look good.� Climate change is of critical importance to all of us, and we should hear the opinions of those scientists who understand the issue the best.

Jeff Masters

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211. Trouper415
6:07 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Hey St Simons, hows it been? Very intersting how it is mainly the USA who does not believe that global warming is actually happening. Pretty bad if you ask me. And someone who is as close an allie as the UK and a world power with the USA who firmly believes that global warming is taking place is not right either. Someone want to turn on the light bulb?
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
210. Trouper415
6:03 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Ethenol maybe a bit expensive to produce right now. However, whatever the cost, fuel is on the verge of being very very expensive in the next 5-15 years anyways so researching that and other alternative energy sources right now I think would be our best bet.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
208. Trouper415
5:59 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Globalize,

To clarify what I said about how china creates 38% more pollution. I was actually quoting that from someone who said it earlier. I didnt make that statement, just as you are, I was commenting about it. Sorry for the mix up.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
207. weathermantrey
5:44 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Yea, I agree w/ F5 in that aspect. Our nation has a capitalistic economy, and it will decide how much oil is used, but gov't regulations can change and affect the economy... all be it minimally. Hopefully in the near future someone will find a way to generate power at a cheaper rate that that of oil, coal, etc.. i think ethanol can be producedat like 3 or 4 dollars a gallon right now... which isn't cheap enough...but maybe we'll get there one day
206. Cregnebaa
5:44 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Drifter aren't you a bit young to be on a computer?
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
205. hiseasdrifter
5:39 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
dear hurricanechaser, happen to agree with you.i took serious issue with our socialist buddies onthis site when they dumped on the gov. over the katrina response.it seems that our leftist friends rarely let facts or logic get in the way of a good argument.later,bob
204. cyclonebusted
5:38 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Yep , if US citizens would stop buying chineses goods cause their cheaper, then the energy inefficient chinese wouldn't be polluting and producing as much.
Keep your trade deficit under control.
The tunnels would prevent all this and bring world harmony
203. Trouper415
5:38 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
F5,

You say they Dr. Hansen should be able to speak his mind as a private citizen. However, he wasnt appointed and does not get paid the money he does, which comes from the government to speak like a private citizen. When one speaks out such as he did, he is speaking for many scientists who share the beliefs he does. It only happened to be him speaking out because he has the credibility to do do. If another scientist from an elementary school spoke out, it would be more a joke rather than a national concern as they dont have credibility, thus no one would listen to them. I would take it as a concern that someone at this level spoke out, rather than dismissing it and continually saying that we have no facts to back it up. For as snowboy said, if a majority of our top researchers/scientists believe that global warming is in fact human induced, than why argue with it? Instead, believe what they say or dont, but try and make a difference cleaning up this place. For if 100 years downthe road we find this global warming is a spoof, we would have at least made the effort to make the earth a more enjoyable place for our children.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
202. F5
5:36 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Trouper415,

The only way that is going to happen, is when the economics dictate it should happen. When oil reaches a certain price and stays there for whatever reason(s), money will begin to flow into alternative technologies. It doesn't now because there's real incentive right now. That's just the way capitalism works, and it's worked pretty darn well for the duration.
201. globalize
5:34 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Trouper-- I've seen your post ...China makes 38% more pollution... twice on this forum. I hope you don't think any educated person believes this assertion. Do you wish to cite the origin of your statistic? The US is by far the worst polluter in the world. Additionally, most of the polluting industry in China produces goods with American labels.
Member Since: August 30, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1150
200. F5
5:24 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
weathermantry,

I'm sure Dr. Hansen could. He has spent a good portion of his life studying the issue. But that doesn't what he believes true.

If you believe it's arrogant to think that in the future no one will be able to prove anthropogenic global warming, then so be it. That doesn't make it arrogant. Nor does it make it false. No matter how much research is done, nor how much the probability may approach 100%, it will never be 100%. It may move from uncertain, to likely, to highly likely, but it can never be completely, 100% proof positive.
199. Trouper415
5:19 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Didnt mean to hit the enter key. For one, China is 3 times the size of us, its a borderline 3rd world country in many places using coal as their main fuel, and they simply do not have the means to use a cleaner fuel for a billion people. The United States being a world leader in itself should be leading the way to cleaner fuel sources considering how much money floats around this country. We SHOULD have the lowest pollution rates as far as I am concerned considering how technologically advanced we are. And as far as this country is concered, I think we need to do a far better job with waste. George Bush is the opposite of a president we need right now. I am not a strict liberal, and I am not a strict conservative, but the for wellbeing of this country and world, we imo need to get things turned around before the mud is too deep to walk through . I'm not going to shift this debate into a political one, so that is all.

Giants in 06
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
198. F5
5:16 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
If NASA wants to take a political position and shape discussions to that position, is that a problem? And if it is a problem, wouldn't it be a problem both ways? Do we know if there were scientists who felt pressured not to speak a certain way when the Clinton administration was in power? I don't see an issue with an administration attempting to speak in one voice, from a policy perspective. After all, dissent internally is one thing, but dissent in the public simply undermines the position those in charge have taken.

Dr. Hansen is free to speak his mind as a private citizen. He is also free to leave GISS and work for a private institution, where he can also speak his mind according to the wishes of his bosses, when it's on their dime.

I stated awhile back, and I repeat again, if you are concerned about things like this, then perhaps we should be discussing whether government should be in the reasearch business at all. There's no guarantee that their research will be an more or less biased than any private research facility.

197. weathermantrey
5:20 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
We don't bitch about China because we can't control what they do....? We can only do our part and hope to lead the world in the right direction so hopefully they will follow in our footsteps
196. Trouper415
4:54 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
rmh9903- "This country does way more for the enviroment then any other country. I am so sick of everyone saying we need to do more. Its BS. If you think that Bush is destroying our planet you are the fool and the idiot. Why don't you guys that bash Bush get mad at the rest of the world, I mean at least be fair. China creates 38% more pollution then us..why don't you bitch about them? Or how about all of Africa?"

Are you kidding me?
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 5 Comments: 637
195. weathermantrey
5:14 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
I have no proof, and as I said before I would probably side with you on the debate.... but I will not be so arrogant to say that there isn't any way in the near future someone will prove that we have in fact caused global warming. And another note... I would side with your argument, but to be fair... I'm sure if Dr. Hansen was here right now he could probably back up his beliefs above and beyond anything that we could do.
194. F5
5:14 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
weathermantry,

You completely misunderstood the point. I did not say that humans were not responsible for some or even most of the current global warming. I don't believe we are, but that's not what I said. What I said was you couldn't prove that humans were responsible because there is no test and control group to compare results. Without humans on the planet, it is entirely possible, and highly likely, that the earth would be warming anyway, just as it has done for millions of years.
193. oriondarkwood
4:50 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
(done flame retardant suit with hot dog and marshmellow spikes)

..Okay now I am ready to throw my two cents into the field of battle.

1st what is a scientist - a person who uses observation, experimentation and theory to learn about a subject.

Okay with that in mind, looking at the subject matter at hand. Global Warming is a THEORY. It has yet to be proven in a manner that is accepted by all scientists. Yet theories are dangerous, think about how many people have died for theories (large case in point is God/Allah/Jevoah are all Theorically cases however millions of people have died for this theory). Note the previous statement is not a attack or dismissal of one's personal views but was made to may a statement.

Okay 2nd Dr. James Hansen, has good street cred. So we know he is not some crackpot. His views on the theory of global warming are sound. So why the sudden clampdown on Dr. Hansen, its not excatly him but what he respresents. In the post 9/11 world the USA has given the US and congress more power and sway than any other time in history. And in the name of protecting the American people the goverment is finding ways and reasons to sideline any way of thinking that is not supportive of the current leadership in the US (remenber we are free because we fail to see the chains that bind us).

So the goverment is putting pressure to censure the Dr via NASA and NOAA (which IMHO are better uses for my tax money than bailing our the airlines or the Anti-Missle Shield).

Lastly like the good doctor, we all are caught between living the dream and towing the line for our families or standing up against the raging torrent to speak our minds.

So in closing do I believe in globabl warming, not completely however I will readily agree that humankind has vastly altered the natural state of our lifeboat in the cold void of space.

Is Dr Hasen in the wrong or a pawn of a political climate change of it own. Ever person birthed onto US soil has 10 rights given to them when the US itself gave its first cry of birth. They haven't never gone away or been taken away from us (yet). The problem is the goverment has steadily made it harder and harder to take what we should have freely given to us.
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192. weathermantrey
5:13 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
well is it a FACT that no one will ever prove that human have been the direct cause of global warming???
191. F5
5:10 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Dr. Hansen isn't stating a FACT, he's stating a theory. Unfortunately, he is stating it as though it is proven, which it is not. There can be no proof.

Let me ask you these simple questions.

1. Has the earth warmed and cooled in the past?
2. Is the earth warming or cooling now
3. If the answer to #1 is yes (it is), and the answer to #2 is warming, how can you prove that anthropogenic activity is responsible for the current warming vs what has occured naturally throughout history. Is it not entirely possible that the current warming would be occuring if there were no humans at all? And if that is true, then where is your proof that humans are responsible for it?

I await your answers.
190. F5
5:05 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
No weathermantry, that is a theory, not a fact. A fact is something that can be proven. A fact is a piece of data. For example, the average temperature at the D/FW airport for 2005 was X degrees F. That is a FACT. If the average temperature at D/FW has risen by 2.0 F over the past 10 years, that is also a FACT. If you state that the temperature increase is due to CO2 emissions from anthropogenic activity, that is NOT a FACT. It is a theory.
189. weathermantrey
5:06 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
I'm not talking about the Global warming debate, and if i really had to pick i side, i'd probably go with that it's more natural than human induced.. That's not the point i'm trying to make... I just don't understand how you can say it is wrong for someone to state their belief's as a fact, but yet you did the exact same thing in your post.
188. F5
4:51 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
weathermantrey,

You must have me mistaken for snowboy and the others. I have repeatedly provided links supporting my position, as well as why I hold my position. I never called anyone any names. I have used general terms to describe a viewpoint held by those who deem action to be immediately necessary. Just as their views are alarmist, my views are those of a pragmatist. If you consider that bashing, then so be it. I can't do anything about what you feel. On the other hand, I notice you don't have a similar post for snowboy and the others who really are calling others names and denigrating them. So I think we can tell what your position is...

Anyway, I hardly pretend that I am the god of atmospheric science or anything else. If that's what you've taken from my posts, then you didn't really read them very carefully.

To recount, there is no proof that anthropogenic global warming is a primary, secondary, tertiary, or non-factor in the current natural climate variation warming trend. There can never be proof because there is no control group to compare to. Humans ARE a factor. I've never denied this. I have denied that there is PROOF that we are a primary catalyst. Therefore, I do not approve of actions taken to drastically curb human activity that have no basis in fact that they will resolve anything, other than cost a lot of money and jobs. I have advocated more research. I have advocated taking action to reduce the pollution we put into the air and the water. In short, I have been very straight-forward about my thoughts on the subject. If the only thing you can get out of that is that I used the term alarmist and that because of using that term I am bashing people, then you have failed, either purposely or otherwise, to comprehend what I have been saying.

187. weathermantrey
4:58 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
I guess it's ok for you to state a FACT, since you've done so much research and all, but it's not ok for Dr. Hansen to state a fact, when he's spent his whole life on the subject
186. weathermantrey
4:54 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Just to further my point.... The simple yet truly undeniable FACT is that NO ONE can ever prove that the increased temperatures around the globe during the past century is DIRECTLY related to human induced greenhouse gas emissions. Forgive me if i'm wrong, but aren't you stating a "FACT" that is actually your opinion? How do you know 50 years from now we find some way to directly prove human induced global warming? The FACT is that you dont know for sure. You are merely stating your opinion which you claim is an UNDENIABLE FACT
185. weathermantrey
4:50 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Then again, I thank God that I have enough respect for others than to engage in this kind of smear campaign at the expense of another's true character.

This will be my last post in Dr. Masters blog for I have very little respect for this blog nor those who get such pleasure out of attacking others.

Thanks,
Tony
well tony, to have little respect for attacking others you sure are doing a lot of it..????
184. weathermantrey
4:39 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
To F5 and chaser... you go out of your way to make it seem like human induced global warming is highly unlikely and it is ovbiously a natural occuring event. Couldn't anyone bash you in the same way you bashed the "alarmist" by saying you have no solid proff that human's have not induced global warming??? Yes, they could. My point is, dont get so fired up and bash somebody just because somebody is making a point and stating what they believe. If you disagree, tell why you disagree and leave it at that... they'res no need to have an attitude and act like you are the god of the atmosphere and know everything
183. Cregnebaa
11:43 AM EST on January 30, 2006
Tony Blair (UK Prime Minister)states his views

Link
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
182. SydOpus
3:32 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
law, theory, hypothesis

I'm not going to belabor the point, but scientifically you may not be able to prove global warning as a fact (law), but it is more than a hypothesis. Events that have been happening were PREDICTED by global warming experts years ago. We know that global warming is happening. Scientific modelling shows that human behavior should cause global warming. The only argument left is what % of 20th century global warming was human and what % was natural. Even so, with the climatic shifts that global warming WILL cause, a 10% contribution from human activity should be enough to take action. Global warming may not destroy the earth, but it may destroy the current ecosystem in such a dramatic way as to destroy our ability to survive as a species.

The Bush administration's argument against Kyoto to Blair was ECONOMIC, not scientific, because there is no scientific debate. We are already fighting with Canada over the territorial status of Arctic waters because even the administration knows these are going to be open to navigation (and oil exploration?) totally over the coming decades.

And remember, life has caused major alterations of the planet's ecosystem before:
Remember, the existence of oxygen on our planet owes itself to biological processes...without plants (etc.) there would be no animal life. If plants can create an atmosphere that is able to support animal life, is it that far fetched to assume that animal life can influence the environment as well?
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181. Cregnebaa
10:40 AM EST on January 30, 2006
Hey Crab, your on the brac aren't you, good to meet you

I agree with the solid fuel matrix, being safer, but using hydrogen as a fuel is still too expensive compared to petrol and a lot of hydrogen of this hydrogen is produced as a byproduct from propane production. So still using fossil fuels.
If we are going to ween ourselves off fossil fuels we need more R & D in reducing these costs and producing hydrogen from cleaner sources, solar, wind power etc. Using it as way of storing renewable energy.
Of course we also get plastics, etc from oil, so we would need to increase recyling also.
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
180. KatrinaRitaWilmaZeta
6:33 AM PST on January 30, 2006
if i may this pop in for a bit look at this


CYCLOGENESIS BOMB IN
EASTERN PACIFIC. 966 MB SURFACE LOW FORECAST OFF THE PACIFIC
NORTHWEST COAST LATE FRIDAY WHICH DRAGS ASSOCIATED FRONT ACROSS
NORCAL FRIDAY NIGHT INTO SATURDAY

well back to bed lol
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179. hurricanecrab
9:28 AM EST on January 30, 2006
Just noticed this and a quick note:

Hydrogen can now be safely stored in a solid fuel matrix, making it MORE stable and safe than gasoline. The technology exists to do this utilize it and realize a clean-burning fuel. Even augmenting existing systems would realize savings on fuel and would be the first step to eventually weaning us all off of fossil-fuel driven automobiles. MY OPINION, but the first sentence is fact.

Cheers!
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178. HurricaneMyles
2:10 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
As for hydrogen cars, great idea but how dangerous? Imagine crashing a car with a high pressure hydrogen tank. kabooooom

Its not much different then driving a car filled with gas. Hydrogen and gas are both very explosive and doesn't take much to go off. Hydrogen power has hurtles like any technology, but I dont think its anymore dangerous then driving with 20 gallons of gas underneath you.
Member Since: January 12, 2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 827
177. guanche
1:57 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
sorry corrert link to Weather Wars is Link
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176. guanche
1:50 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
What's your opinion of Link ? Seems this guy has got a great idea of whats been going on.
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174. GetReal
1:07 PM GMT on January 30, 2006
Bravo, Bravo Hurricaneshaser!!! Those last two post were the best answers to these leftist global warming alarmist!!! Thanx keep up the great responses...
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173. Cregnebaa
7:56 AM EST on January 30, 2006
Cali

Plants actually use CO2 during photosynthesis and converts it into O2.
Animals like us convert CO2 the other way, the less plant life means higher CO2 levels.
And CO2 is obviously not the sole source of oxygen in our atmosphere, O2 is and is at around 21% of the air we breathe.
Link.

High CO2 levels will kill animals and at fairly low concentrations, but the relative amount to our atmosphere is way to high globally.
As for hydrogen cars, great idea but how dangerous? Imagine crashing a car with a high pressure hydrogen tank. kabooooom
Member Since: October 19, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 323
172. ProgressivePulse
9:03 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Imagine exaust you can drink, sounds to logical right.
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171. ProgressivePulse
8:59 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Sourcebook on Hydrogen Applications
Why Hydrogen?
Hydrogen is the simplest, naturally occurring atom. The most abundant of all the elements, it accounts for three-fourths of the mass of the universe. On Earth, it is mostly found chemically bound to other elements. Hydrogen can be extracted from many materials natural gas, methanol, coal, biomass and water. Over the next 20 years, the impact of global climate change on our society, energy scarcity and the improved efficiency of hydrogen-based technologies will create new opportunities for hydrogen. The idea of something so ubiquitous as hydrogen replacing diminishing fossil fuels has been a subject of interest and intrigue for social visionaries from Jules Verne to an army of modern day technical and environmental proponents.

I posted earlier in the day of this type of alternative fuel that is discovered but supressed by the govt. due to the almighty dollar
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170. Califonia
8:07 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
ProgressivePulse,

Living here in California I can say that smog is not good for the environment.

However, if cars can be made to run cleanly with CO2 and water vapor being the exhaust, then there's no problem.

Remember, we'll be out of oil in 50 years or so anyway, so in the long run it won't make much difference.

The Oil Crash

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169. theboldman
12:10 AM PST on January 30, 2006
well guys has been a fun night goin to bed now
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 2
168. theboldman
12:08 AM PST on January 30, 2006
i think cows pollute more then cars lol
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 2
167. ProgressivePulse
8:02 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
So the harmfull emissions I was speaking of, namely from vehicles, is good for the enviornment, right Cali?
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166. ProgressivePulse
8:00 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Great video Arc lol! have to scroll down every once in a while!
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165. Califonia
7:51 AM GMT on January 30, 2006

Posted By: ProgressivePulse at 7:48 AM GMT on January 30, 2006.

I was talking about the harmful gases Cali, should have been more specific, sorry.


Heheheheheh. That's cool.

CO2 is the main one though... oxygen takes out the methane. If we look at historical records over hundreds of millions of years, or billions... , we see that CO2 is related to the warmth of the planet.

As ice covers more area, fewer plants can live, and the CO2 falls, the planet cools more, more ice forms, more plants die, etc., until (and this has happened) the planet is frozen over to (or nearly to) the equator.

That kills all the plant and animal life except for pockets around thermal vents in the ocean.

Then, over millions of years, volcanos slowly put some CO2 back into the atmosphere and the continents re-align themselves (I'll explain that some other time) and the planet gradually starts warming and reversing the ice age.

So the CO2 is needed for even more than my original post suggested.

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164. arcturus
7:58 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
My head hurts from lol I gotta go




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163. globalize
7:58 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
Yeah, if we can get the $28.50 funding from Halliburton.
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162. ProgressivePulse
7:56 AM GMT on January 30, 2006
People might actually start claming the stars they purchaced.
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161. theboldman
11:55 PM PST on January 29, 2006
ROTFL
Member Since: September 8, 2005 Posts: 25 Comments: 2

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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