Why Are Scientists Fleeing the U.S.-Mexico Border?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Skeptical Spectator

Scientist Patrick Michaels writes in the American Spectator Thursday that if a major journal reported the planet has warmed twice as much as previously thought it would be front-page news in every paper.

He writes: "But what would happen if a paper was published demonstrating that the planet may have warmed up only half as much as previously thought?" Well, Michaels says nothing would happen. He and fellow scientist Ross McKitrick published a manuscript in the Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres earlier this month saying just that — that the world has warmed only half as much as previously thought.

Michaels — who is a member of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — states that his findings show temperature records should not always be trusted, because many are recorded in urban areas. Michaels says scientists have known for years that urban areas are warmer than rural ones and that temperatures collected in cities are biased.

Michaels says a simple Internet search reveals that with the exception of a few blogs, the only major story about his findings ran in Canada's Financial Post.

Scientific Exodus

Scientists along the U.S.-Mexico border are fleeing the region, saying their work — and their lives — are increasingly threatened. Tighter border security has pushed drug traffickers into the most remote areas where the scientists say they do most of their work.

Some national parks have now stopped issuing research permits and have even forced scientists to sign statements saying the Park Service cannot guarantee their safety from persons entering the country from Mexico.

One scientist who uses night-vision goggles to study rare bats in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument says that on a nightly basis she sees men with guns and huge backpacks trudging through the desert. The scientists say huge swaths of the region are now off limits due to armed drug smugglers. As one botanist put it, "I got kind of allergic to pistols being held to my forehead."

Poking the Bear

A judge in Iowa has sided with a man who was fired for posting a Dilbert comic strip on an office bulletin board that poked fun at his managers.

David Steward was fired from the Catfish Bend Casino because management found the cartoon, "very offensive." In the comic, one of the characters asks the question: "Why does it seem as if most of the decisions in my workplace are made by drunken lemurs?"

Steward testified that he thought the strip would cheer up his co-workers and the judge at Steward's unemployment benefits hearing said that it was a good faith error in judgment and not intentional misbehavior.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams said it might be the first instance of a worker being fired for posting his comic in the workplace.

Stinky Situation

Christmas Eve downright stunk for one Des Moines man. Seventy-seven-year-old Robert Schoff had to be rescued when he got stuck in the opening of his septic tank. Schoff had dug a hole and was trying to find a clog when he lost his balance, fell in and then became wedged in the septic tank.

The man struggled and screamed for over an hour, hoping his wife would hear him. When she walked by a window, she saw two feet in the air, quickly ran out to help, but she couldn't free him. She then called 911 and two sheriff's deputies eventually pulled her husband free.

Schoff — who was treated for bruises and a ruptured eardrum — said, "It was the worst Christmas Eve I've ever had."

FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.