Vienna Massive Police Presence

We landed in Vienna today and during our first walk around the massive Stephanplatz walking area noticed a few police vans, then a few more, then dozens.  We walked towards the even more massive Heidenplatz to see more and more vans, in caravans or arrayed along streets, each filled with 6 police in complete armor, from boot shields to hard helmets.  WTF?

Crowds of strollers hardly seemed to notice.  Was such an event normal or is it protective coloration not to stare at police?  A few we asked had no more idea than we did.  Was a head of state arriving?  A helicopter hovered, its sharp, irritating hum filling every street.

Vienna Police

It turns out a demonstration of right-wing fraternities had been promised, and along with it, counter demonstrations from the left.

A group of Austrian right-wing student fraternities known as the Burschenschaften will be marching in Vienna today. Several counter demonstrations are planned, and police are urging restraint.

According to a report in the Heute newspaper, 500 members of the academic Burschenschaften of the Wiener Korporationsring (WKR) have registered with police to march a planned route on Wednesday, starting at 5pm at Josephsplatz.

The Local – Austria’s News in English


Rich Buffet of Right Wing News Outlets

I do not believe this can be said of vaguely liberal, much less “left” news outlets.”

Since the advent of the Internet, a diverse constellation of conservative news outlets has sprung up across the country, creating a rich buffet for GOP-loving readers-and a major logistical challenge for the advertisers hoping to reach them.

And because this is so:

Salem Communications, a public media company based in Camarillo (Ventura County) outside Los Angeles, announced this week that it is purchasing Twitchy, a blog run by conservative pundit Michelle Malkin, for an undisclosed sum.

The Twitchy acquisition adds to Salem’s growing Internet portfolio, which includes conservative opinion sites (such as and and Christian faith sites (such as and

SF Gate

That IRS Scrutiny of the Tea Party? On Second Thought….

Update: Below


The whole rush to cry victim of IRS abuse, so finely honed by the American Right, is falling apart now that actual information is arriving.

Two months of investigation by Congress and the I.R.S. has produced new documents that have clouded much of the controversy’s narrative. In the more complicated picture now emerging, many organizations other than conservative groups were singled out: “progressive” organizations, medical marijuana purveyors, organizations formed to carry out President Obama’s health care law, and open source software developers who create software tools for computer code writers and distribute them free of charge.

Having been part of 401 c (3) applications I know it’s no fun; the questions coming back seem like so much obstructionism, but in a country slipping away from the ‘common good’ to the ‘get mine’ ethos, how should claims for tax exemption be treated?  Perhaps most should be approved and then audited for what these ‘educational’ programs are actually all about.  And, since the guidlines seem to be floppy, better policies should be set in place to make it clear where the lines are between education and advocacy, or voicing opinions and lobbying, or speaking in favor of a candidate’s positions and participating in a political campaign.

It is fascinating to think back on how fast, and self-assured the claims of Right Wing targeting were, given how little investigation was done after the initial claim.


Update: from Salon

…almost two months later, we know that in fact the IRS targeted lots of different kinds of groups, not just conservative ones; that the only organizations whose tax-exempt statuses were actually denied were progressive ones; that many of the targeted conservative groups legitimately crossed the line; that the IG’s report was limited to only Tea Party groups at congressional Republicans’ request; and that the White House was in no way involved in the targeting and didn’t even know about it until shortly before the public did.

Thieves Complain About the Loot

Last week a minor brouhaha erupted on right wing blogs, dutifully reported by major media, over the purported implications of selected paragraphs and sentences of e-mail and other documents stolen from a major climate research department at East Anglia University in England.

Accusations that several thousand climate scientists are joined together in a huge conspiracy (while the climate change deniers are not similarly conspiring) have been shouted from the rafters:

– “The crimes revealed in the e-mails promise to be the global warming scandal of the century,” Michelle Malkin

– “The blue-dress moment may have arrived.” from Chris Horner at The National Review

– That supposed scientific “consensus” about global warming may actually be a conspiracy. —American Spectator

And on and on.

The sad thing, as usual, is that the tantrum on the street corner pulls attention from the serious news:

The last decade has been the warmest of the modern period.

The ice sheets are both losing mass (and hence contributing to sea level rise). This was not certain at the time of the IPCC report.

Arctic sea ice has declined faster than projected by IPCC.

Greenhouse gas concentrations have continued to track the upper bounds of IPCC projections.

Observed global temperature changes remain entirely in accord with IPCC projections, i.e. an anthropogenic warming trend of about 0.2 ºC per decade with superimposed short-term natural variability.

Sea level has risen more than 5 centimeters over the past 15 years, about 80% higher than IPCC projections from 2001.

The biggest scandal is how little attention the seriousness of the climate situation is getting — beginning in the U.S. Congress. The next is the know-nothingism that is at the heart of the opposition to the science and the findings it brings, and the spread of that know-nothingism by those whose lives and businesses will suffer greatly if they prevail. The next is that invasion of privacy, theft of personal and professional property and distribution of the stolen material is being celebrated by those in under different circumstances would condemn it. The nasty comments and professional jargon being held up as “the smoking guns” are hardly worth a mention, except in some future biographies or histories of the discoveries being made and serious work done.

Sir Issac Newton had some opinions about privacy and truth.

I gladly embrace your proposal of a private correspondence. What’s done before many witnesses is seldom without some further concern then that for truth: but what passes between friends in private usually deserve ye name of consultation rather then contest,

Of course the denialists would take this to disprove the calculus…

More more good articles on the purloined letters see here [Real Climate], here [Scholars and Rogues,] and here [Climate Progress.] And, finally, a post by a philosopher of science who know many of those whose mail was stolen.