Big news day

Of course there is Obama’s success in getting an approximation of an equitable health care agenda through at last, something that had hitherto stumbled over weird obsessions with “socialism” and other bogeys unique to US political thinking.

And we have our very own health care debate, Rudd vs Abbott being telecast today at 12.30 pm. Yes, a weird time, as pointed out on Q&A last night, but it is under the auspices of the National Press Club who always do their things over a good long lunch. Will be a damp squib, I think.

No, what I want to focus on is Google.

Google China stops censoring its results

Google China dedicated site is shut down and millions of users are redirected to uncensored Hong Kong version

There is a live blog on the subject running at the moment.

8.52pm: Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists, which has lobbied for greater access to information in China, said it was a useful step for pushing Beijing in the right direction.

"We welcome this stand against censorship and hope that all Internet companies operating in China take a similar principled position," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney.

"Google’s decision to stop censoring search results will put Google on the wrong side of the Great Firewall. In the long run, however, we hope that it ramps up pressure on the Chinese government to allow its citizens to access the news and information they need to be informed and engaged citizens."

8.46pm: Considered reactions are starting to come in.

The Center for Democracy and Technology, a non-profit group based in Washington that pushes for an open internet, said that Google was doing the right thing.

"CDT applauds Google for following through on its commitment to protect human rights and for its continued effort to enable China’s people with unfiltered access to robust sources of information from all over the world," said Leslie Harris, the group’s president and CEO.

"Whether the Chinese people will be able to take advantage of Google search now rests squarely with the Chinese government. If China allows access to unfiltered search, it will be a substantial win for global Internet freedom and for the Chinese people. If China blocks access, it will finally make clear to the Chinese people who is pulling the levers of censorship in the country."

8.40pm: Looks like those reports that the Chinese government is still blocking are accurate. Tania Branigan, our China correspondent in Beijing, has the following to say:

"Initial tests suggested that the Chinese government’s own filtering system will stop mainland users from seeing the results of many sensitive searches in any case."

"And while google.cn now redirects visitors to google.com.hk, the Chinese government’s own internet filtering system – "the Great Firewall" – prevented results from being returned when searches were conducted using sensitive words and phrases."

"The use of English and Chinese phrases such as "Tiananmen Square 1989" on google.com.hk resulted in the internet connection being reset…

And then another topic: New Light Shed on North Pole Ice Trends.

1:54 p.m. | Updated The sun rose over the horizon at the North Pole last weekend and the six-month “day” just began there, making this a good time to check in on ice and climate trends up north. I can’t believe it’s seven years now since I spent three days camped on the ice pack near 90 degrees North with a rugged team of climate and cryosphere researchers trying to improve understanding of the complex interface between air, ice and water.

The latest research shows that while a decades-long trend toward thinner and sparser ice looks to continue, with warming from greenhouse gases and soot contributing to the change, expect a lot of variability along the way to a projected open-water summertime Arctic…

That article embraces the ambiguities of the evidence, so is, in my view, all the more worthy of attention.

See also: The Arctic is losing sea ice faster than was anticipated…

About

The Future of Arctic Sea Ice and Global Impacts website summarizes recent important Arctic science results for a broader audience, beyond the science literature. References for the website are listed on the home page.

The Future of Arctic Sea Ice and Global Impacts website was supported by the NOAA Climate Program Office through the Arctic Research Program, and developed at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. The Future of Arctic Sea Ice and Global Impacts website was developed by Tracey Nakamura, and is coordinated by Nancy Soreide. Dr. James E. Overland (NOAA/PMEL) and John Calder (NOAA/ARP) are the science advisors for the website. NOAA graphics on the website were developed by Karen Birchfield. Other NOAA Arctic websites sponsored by NOAA’s Arctic Research Program include

* The Arctic Research Program website – Programmatic information
* The Arctic Theme Page – Comprehensive Arctic resource for science and outreach
* The Arctic Report Card – Tracking the Arctic environment – updated annually
* Near Realtime Arctic Change Indicators