Apr 19 2010

On almost every news site, we can see regular requests for money.

I have been operating this site for years without asking for anything but there are now growing, but not huge, costs involved in producing this and so it is that we have a “donate” button to help defray expenses.

No, we won’t have to sell our children to the medical experimenters if we don’t raise $200,000 by next Thursday but as the fat man said, every little bit helps.

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TBR News January 17, 2018

Jan 17 2018

Washington, D.C. January 17, 2018:”One of our contributors apparently has managed to compile a long list of German citizens who are working for a foreign power.

He sent the list to various agencies in Germany with a threat to make the list public if action were not taken.

Outing an American CIA agent is one matter but exposing a foreign domestic traitor is entirely another.

The latter is better known as rodent control.

In the old days, the Gestapo would have taken such a person out into the woods for a one-way trip but these days, being influenced by beneficial American democracy, they merely have traitorous diplomats shipped to some remote area of the world where they can no longer steal state secrets and businessmen get arrested for aggressive jaywalking or overdue library books.

I personally am in favor for the Walk in the Woods solution but I have no say in the matter.

And yesterday, a foreign newspaperman asked me to tell him something really positive about Sub-Saharan Africa. I said ‘HIV’ and he laughed.’

 

Table of Contents

  • Our Potemkin Village
  • Why governments are broken – and how to fix them
  • President Trump’s ‘Friends’ in Saudi Arabia
  • Bitcoin slumps below $10,000, half its peak, as regulatory fears intensify
  • CIA rendition flights from rustic North Carolina called to account by citizens
  • CIA Rendition and Codes

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TBR News January 16, 2018

Jan 16 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 16, 2018:”In the Ukraine, the new Ukraine established by the machinations of the CIA, there exist a number of very unwholesome internet pornographic sites.

Among these are two really sick ones that deal with child pornography and child sado-machosim. These sites claim they have “protected use” devices which allow a viewer to remain anonymous.

Unfortunately for this concept, Russian computer hackers, working for Wikileaks, have cracked the barriers and fished around inside the sick sites, trolling for the real names and identities of the psychopathic viewers.

Perhaps it is not amazing to discover all manner of names of American legislators, politicians and prominent businessmen.

What do the Wikileaks people plan to do about this?

Publish.

As Republican viewers seem to be in the distinct majority, it is assumed that the leaks will emerge  before the mid-term elections this coming November.

There has been all kinds of trash put into office in America but the public will certainly not accept lecherous child pornographic addicts. Look what happened to Tim Wiener, the beard of Hillary Clinton’s lady friend.”

Table of Contents

  • Bitcoin, rival cryptocurrencies plunge on crackdown fears
  • The Blight House: Trump’s Presidency Sinks Below Rock Bottom
  • European Foreign Ministers Are Being Forced to Side with Iran
  • Christian Fascism: The Seizure of Power in America
  • Strange Evangelical View of Cro-Magnon Man
  • Neoconning the Trump White House
  • U.S. healthcare uninsured rises most in near decade: Gallup
  • OnePlus phone company investigates card fraud claims

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TBR News January 15, 2018

Jan 15 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 15, 2018:” I’m a little late this week because of what I just found out.

It seems that a person, or persons, currently unknown, poured molasses into the oil system of several of the Presidential helicopters!

It was discovered when a guard noticed traces of the molasses dripping on side of the craft and a through check disclosed that not one but two helicopters had been sabotaged.

The molasses would have heated up inside and gummed up the moving parts, causing a crash.

Very few staffers are aware of this which, according to the Marine source, must have happened within the past week.

I asked several mechanics I know (my car is always having engine trouble) about this and both told me that this is an old trick and guaranteed to freeze up the machinery.

Add to this the discovery of a bullet impact on one of the heavily bullet-proof windows of the Oval Office. Nothing was noticed for several days and then a man tending the grounds noticed it.

No one knows when it happened but a week is about the closest anyone can some. They were trying to figure out where the shooter was located but apparently since only one surface was damaged, there was no way to figure this out.

If the bullet had penetrated and hit the President or some object like a desk, figuring the trajectory would be relatively easy.

A Secret Service man told me that Trump has had more serious death threats than any other President since Abraham Lincoln but there is a total blackout on such comments.  Obviously, new security measures have to be taken but I have no idea what they are. I do note that there are more anti-aircraft weapons on the White House roof than on the battleship Iowa!”

 

Table of Contents

  • America’s Civil War
  • So you’re thinking about investing in bitcoin? Don’t
  • China to block cryptocurrency platforms that allow centralized trading: Bloomberg
  • Any rule on Bitcoin must be global, Germany’s central bank says
  • One year under Trump: A shrinking space for protest
  • Centrist Dems Launch Smear Campaign Against Young Trans Woman, All to Keep an Old Straight White Man in Power
  • America Last? EU says Trump is losing on trade
  • Drones keep entering no-fly zones over Washington, raising security concerns
  • US Launches New Spy Satellite on Secret Mission
  • Syria war: Turkey denounces US ‘terror army’ plan for border
  • Erdogan: we will ‘strangle’ U.S.-backed force in Syria “before it’s even born”
  • The Family: The Octopus of God

Continue Reading »

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TBR News January 13, 2018

Jan 13 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 13, 2018:”We are out of the office until January 15, 2017 ed.”

Table of Contents

 

Table of Contents

  • The Age of Fire and Fury: Humanity as a whole is being set back just because of one single Person.
  • Lost in space? Questions mount over fate of secret satellite as SpaceX pushes ahead
  • California Megaflood: Lessons from a Forgotten Catastrophe
  • Crews ramp up effort to rescue live victims of California mudslide
  • The urban animal: population density and social pathology in rodents and humans
  • Ballistic missile warning sent in error by Hawaii authorities
  • Chelsea Manning files to run as Democrat for US Senate in Maryland
  • Trump’s Failed Coup in Iran
  • The Arctic

 

The Age of Fire and Fury: Humanity as a whole is being set back just because of one single Person.

Where is the world supposed to start again if it manages to survive Donald Trump?

January 12, 2018

by Der SPIEGEL’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief Susanne Beyer

“Fire and Fury” is the title of the new exposé of Donald Trump’s first year in the White House. The tome has only been out for a few days, and yet it has already established itself as one of the books of the year. Even we journalists find ourselves describing the book’s contents as “indescribable” and “unfathomable.” Can the world’s most powerful man really be dumb, senile and addicted to television as the book claims? He spends his early evenings watching three televisions in his bedroom? Eating a cheeseburger and tweeting all the while? An entire White House teetering between hysteria and chaos? And yet, it’s still the journalist’s job to describe the indescribable and fathom the unfathomable.

Our latest cover story explains how “Fire and Fury” came to be and whether, and the extent to which, it approaches the truth. Most importantly, however, it delves into the consequences for an America and a world that have been confronted with a nuclear-armed fool who is likely to remain in office for some time to come, who is neither mentally nor psychologically suited for the job – apparently also not physically, either, given how late he starts the working day and how early he ends it. That, unfortunately, is precisely the point: Humanity as a whole is being set back just because of one single person. The achievements of decades – the fight against a climate disaster, against the nuclear threat, for equality between men and women, between blacks and whites and so on and so on. Where is the world supposed to start again if it manages to survive Donald Trump?

 

 

Lost in space? Questions mount over fate of secret satellite as SpaceX pushes ahead

January 12, 2018

by Christian Davenport

Washington Post

The top-secret satellite known only by a code name, “Zuma,” was a mystery from the start. Its classified mission was intentionally inscrutable, whether to detect missile launches, spy on adversaries or track ships at sea with a space radar.

The satellite was so highly secretive that it was not publicly released which government agency — The National Reconnaissance Office? The CIA? — was responsible for it. During the launch on the evening of Jan. 7, SpaceX cut short its webcast so that it wouldn’t reveal details of where the satellite was going or what it looked like.

Now there’s another mystery: What happened to Zuma?

After reports Monday that the satellite suffered some sort of failure, SpaceX rushed to defend its reputation, denying that it had done anything wrong. Its Falcon 9 rocket “performed nominally,” it said.

Then, on Tuesday morning, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell issued a more strongly worded statement, saying: “For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.”

Shotwell pushed back on reports that seemed to implicate SpaceX with the satellite’s demise, saying “information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.”

[The mystery behind the fate of a top-secret satellite comes at the height of one of Elon Musk’s biggest rivalries]

Northrop Grumman, the satellite’s manufacturer, said it could not comment on a classified mission. As members of Congress began requesting classified briefings about what, if anything, went wrong, Pentagon officials were also mum.

For SpaceX, the stakes are especially high — not just because a valuable national security asset valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, or more, that it was hired to launch was possibly lost. It had fought so hard for the right to compete for national security launches. After a bitter legal and lobbying battle, the Pentagon certified SpaceX’s Falcon 9 for the missions and now is relying on SpaceX to reliably fly its satellites to orbit.

Furthermore, NASA is counting on Elon Musk’s company to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, with test flights as early as this year.

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who said he received a “preliminary briefing,” had two concerns about the possible loss of the satellite.

“One is the loss of the intelligence that would have been available,” he said. “The second concern is the reliability of the delivery systems. And that issue is being debated between the contractors, SpaceX and the satellite manufacturer, Northrop.”

While he said he did not know who was to blame, he indicated that the dispute might lead to litigation. “Those two companies are going to have a long and, I suspect, very expensive discussion,” he said.

SpaceX’s resolve and relentless drive were unchanged by the mystery surrounding Zuma (which included the possibility that nothing went wrong and that the satellite was, indeed, in orbit). Last year, the company launched 18 times successfully, a record for SpaceX. This year, it plans to break that record, continuing its disruption of an industry Musk first targeted when he founded SpaceX in 2002.

As critics were quick to call SpaceX’s reliability into question, the company rolled its new powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, onto the same launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center that hoisted the Apollo astronauts to the moon. An engine test fire had been postponed earlier in the week and was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Despite the Zuma mystery, SpaceX vowed to continue with its manifest without delay.

That in itself was a statement: “They’re not going to launch again if they think there’s a chance it was their fault,” said Todd Harrison, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Matt Desch, the chief executive of Iridium, a communications satellite company that is one of SpaceX’s biggest customers, said in an interview that he “absolutely” had full confidence in SpaceX and that he had no qualms about proceeding with the four launches Iridium has on the Falcon 9 this year.

“We’re moving forward with plans for our next launch,” he said. “I know there are people who would love SpaceX to be taken down a few notches. And I’d be glad to hold them accountable for things they should be held accountable for. But this isn’t one. I believe they weren’t really responsible.”

Meanwhile, SpaceX’s chief rival made a statement of its own on Friday. After a couple-day delay, the United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, launched a Delta IV rocket carrying a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

After a successful liftoff, the rocket was traveling at Mach 1, the speed of sound, within 49 seconds, as it burned through propellant at a rate of 1,950 pounds per second.

“Delta is ripping the sky at incredible speed,” Tory Bruno, the United Launch Alliance’s chief executive, wrote on Twitter.

‘What an incredible way to start off 2018’

On Jan. 7, the SpaceX launch appeared to go smoothly. The company cheered a successful liftoff and then the touchdown of its first-stage booster back on land so that it could be flown again, a practice designed to lower the cost of spaceflight.

Musk on Monday tweeted a long-exposure picture of the launch showing its fiery trail to space — and then the return of the booster, which has become routine for the company.

The Air Force’s 45th Space Wing congratulated SpaceX in a tweet: “What an incredible way to start off 2018 w/the world’s 1st successful launch and landing of this year!”

The launch was an important one for the California-based company founded nearly 16 years ago. Since its early days, Musk has waged war against the traditional contractors, namely the United Launch Alliance, in an attempt to compete for national security launch contracts, generally worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

For years, Musk proclaimed that SpaceX could save taxpayers millions by offering the Pentagon launches for far less than its rival. Meanwhile, the United Launch Alliance maintained that responsibility for vital national security satellites that cost hundreds of millions should not be decided on just price.

More than 10 years ago, even before it had flown a rocket to space successfully, SpaceX sued Boeing and Lockheed Martin in an attempt to block the formation of the United Launch Alliance, which it said was using “strong-armed tactics to demand that the Air Force grant them exclusive long-term contracts.” But SpaceX was derided as an “ankle biter” by its competitors, and the lawsuit went nowhere.

In 2014, SpaceX sued again in an attempt to end the nearly decade-long monopoly the United Launch Alliance held on national security launches, arguing that it should be able to compete for the launch contracts. By that point, SpaceX had been flying its Falcon 9 rocket successfully, and the Air Force settled the case with SpaceX, eventually granting it the certification required for it to compete.

Under mounting pressure from SpaceX, Bruno vowed to “literally transform” the company to compete — and he also continued to champion the firm’s track record of more than 100 successful launches in a row.

Since the contracts became competitively bid, SpaceX has won two of three contests.

‘Space is a risky business’

But it has also had its setbacks. In 2015, a Falcon 9 rocket blew up while carrying cargo to the space station. Then, in 2016, another rocket exploded while being fueled ahead of an engine test. No one was hurt in either explosion, but the payloads, worth millions of dollars, were lost.

In both cases, the company was grounded while it investigated the cause of the problems. As of now, SpaceX is moving ahead with its launch manifest.

“Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule,” Shotwell said.

As for Zuma’s fate, little is known.

This week, members of Congress began receiving briefings but were tight-lipped about the classified sessions.

U.S. Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said in a statement that while he couldn’t comment on classified matters, “space is a risky business.” He said his committee would provide “rigorous oversight that accounts for that risk and ensures that we can meet all of our national security space requirements as the Air Force looks to competitively procure space launch services in the future.”

Harrison, the defense analyst, said that SpaceX is in a frustrating position because it is limited in what it can say publicly about what happened.

“It’s a particular nightmare if nothing went wrong on their part and they can’t prove it because of the classified nature of the mission,” he said.

 

 

California Megaflood: Lessons from a Forgotten Catastrophe

A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months, and it could happen again

January 1, 2013

by B. Lynn Ingram

Scientific American

Geologic evidence shows that truly massive floods, caused by rainfall alone, have occurred in California every 100 to 200 years. Such floods are likely caused by atmospheric rivers: narrow bands of water vapor about a mile above the ocean that extend for thousands of kilometers.

The atmospheric river storms featured in a January 2013 article in Scientific American that I co-wrote with Michael Dettinger, The Coming Megafloods, are responsible for most of the largest historical floods in many western states. The only megaflood to strike the American West in recent history occurred during the winter of 1861-62. California bore the brunt of the damage. This disaster turned enormous regions of the state into inland seas for months, and took thousands of human lives. The costs were devastating: one quarter of California’s economy was destroyed, forcing the state into bankruptcy.

Today, the same regions that were submerged in 1861-62 are home to California’s fastest-growing cities. Although this flood is all but forgotten, important lessons from this catastrophe can be learned. Much of the insight can be gleaned from harrowing accounts in diary entries, letters and newspaper articles, as well as the book Up and Down California in 1860-1864, written by William Brewer, who surveyed the new state’s natural resources with state geologist Josiah Whitney.

In 1861, farmers and ranchers were praying for rain after two exceptionally dry decades. In December their prayers were answered with a vengeance, as a series of monstrous Pacific storms slammed—one after another—into the West coast of North America, from Mexico to Canada. The storms produced the most violent flooding residents had ever seen, before or since.

Sixty-six inches of rain fell in Los Angeles that year, more than four times the normal annual amount, causing rivers to surge over their banks, spreading muddy water for miles across the arid landscape. Large brown lakes formed on the normally dry plains between Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, even covering vast areas of the Mojave Desert. In and around Anaheim, , flooding of the Santa Ana River created an inland sea four feet deep, stretching up to four miles from the river and lasting four weeks.

Residents in northern California, where most of the state’s 500,000 people lived, were contending with devastation and suffering of their own. In early December, the Sierra Nevada experienced a series of cold arctic storms that dumped 10 to 15 feet of snow, and these were soon followed by warm atmospheric rivers storms. The series of warm storms swelled the rivers in the Sierra Nevada range so that they became raging torrents, sweeping away entire communities and mining settlements in the foothills—California’s famous “Gold Country.” A January 15, 1862, report from the Nelson Point Correspondence described the scene: “On Friday last, we were visited by the most destructive and devastating flood that has ever been the lot of ‘white’ men to see in this part of the country. Feather River reached the height of 9 feet more than was ever known by the ‘oldest inhabitant,’ carrying away bridges, camps, stores, saloon, restaurant, and much real-estate.” Drowning deaths occurred every day on the Feather, Yuba and American rivers. In one tragic account, an entire settlement of Chinese miners was drowned by floods on the Yuba River.

This enormous pulse of water from the rain flowed down the slopes and across the landscape, overwhelming streams and rivers, creating a huge inland sea in California’s enormous Central Valley—a region at least 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. Water covered farmlands and towns, drowning people, horses and cattle, and washing away houses, buildings, barns, fences and bridges. The water reached depths up to 30 feet, completely submerging telegraph poles that had just been installed between San Francisco and New York, causing transportation and communications to completely break down over much of the state for a month. William Brewer wrote a series of letters to his brother on the east coast describing the surreal scenes of tragedy that he witnessed during his travels in the region that winter and spring. In a description dated January 31, 1862, Brewer wrote:

Thousands of farms are entirely under water—cattle starving and drowning. All the roads in the middle of the state are impassable; so all mails are cut off. The telegraph also does not work clear through. In the Sacramento Valley for some distance the tops of the poles are under water. The entire valley was a lake extending from the mountains on one side to the coast range hills on the other. Steamers ran back over the ranches fourteen miles from the river, carrying stock, etc, to the hills. Nearly every house and farm over this immense region is gone. America has never before seen such desolation by flood as this has been, and seldom has the Old World seen the like.

Brewer describes a great sheet of brown rippling water extending from the Coast Range to the Sierra Nevada. One-quarter of the state’s estimated 800,000 cattle drowned in the flood, marking the beginning of the end of the cattle-based ranchero society in California. One-third of the state’s property was destroyed, and one home in eight was destroyed completely or carried away by the floodwaters.

Sacramento, 100 miles up the Sacramento River from San Francisco, was (and still is) precariously located at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers. In 1861, the city was in many ways a hub: the young state’s sparkling new capital, an important commercial and agricultural center, and the terminus for stagecoaches, wagon trains, the pony express and riverboats from San Francisco. Although floods in Sacramento were not unknown to the residents, nothing could have prepared them for the series of deluges and massive flooding that engulfed the city that winter. The levees built to protect Sacramento from catastrophic floods crumbled under the force of the rising waters of the American River. In early January the floodwaters submerged the entire city under 10 feet of brown, debris-laden water. The water was so deep and dirty that no one dared to move about the city except by boat. The floodwaters caused immense destruction of property and loss of life.

California’s new Governor, Leland Stanford, was to be inaugurated on January 10, but the floodwaters swept through Sacramento that day, submerging the city. Citizens fled by any means possible, yet the inauguration ceremony took place at the capital building anyway, despite the mounting catastrophe. Governor Stanford was forced to travel from his mansion to the capital building by rowboat. Following the expedited ceremony, with floodwaters rising at a rate of one foot per hour, Stanford rowed back to his mansion, where he was forced to steer his boat to a second story window in order to enter his home. Conditions did not improve in the following weeks. California’s legislature, unable to function in the submerged city, finally gave up and moved to San Francisco on January 22, to wait out the floods.

Sacramento remained underwater for months. Brewer visited the city on March 9, three months after the flooding began, and described the scene:

Such a desolate scene I hope to never see again. Most of the city is still under water, and has been there for three months. A part is out of the water, that is, the streets are above water, but every low place is full—cellars and yards are full, houses and walls wet, everything uncomfortable. No description that I can write will give you any adequate conception of the discomfort and wretchedness this must give rise to. I took a boat and two boys, and we rowed about for an hour or two. Houses, stores, stables, everything, were surrounded by water. Yards were ponds enclosed by dilapidated, muddy, slimy fences; household furniture, chairs, tables, sofas, the fragments of houses, were floating in the muddy waters or lodged in nooks and corners. I saw three sofas floating in different yards. The basements of the better class of houses were half full of water, and through the windows, one could see chairs, tables, bedsteads, etc., afloat. Through the windows of a schoolhouse I saw the benches and desks afloat. Over most of the city boats are still the only way of getting around.

The new Capital is far out in the water—the Governor’s house stands as in a lake—churches, public buildings, private buildings, everything, are wet or in the water. Not a road leading from the city is passable, business is at a dead standstill, everything looks forlorn and wretched. Many houses have partially toppled over; some have been carried from their foundations, several streets (now avenues of water) are blocked up with houses that have floated in them, dead animals lie about here and there—a dreadful picture. I don’t think the city will ever rise from the shock, I don’t see how it can.

The death and destruction of this flood caused such trauma that the city of Sacramento embarked on a long-term project of raising the downtown district by 10 to 15 feet in the seven years after the flood. Governor Stanford also raised his mansion from two to three stories, leaving empty the ground floor, to avoid damage from any future flooding events.

Downstream of Sacramento, towns and villages throughout the eastern San Francisco Bay Area were struggling with catastrophes of their own. Twenty miles northeast of San Francisco, four feet of water covered the entire town of Napa; to the east, the small town of Rio Vista on the Sacramento River was under six feet of water. The entire population of Alamo, at the foot of Mt. Diablo 50 miles east of San Francisco, was forced to flee rising floodwaters. People abandoned their homes in the middle of the night. Some found refuge, others drowned. The San Ramon Valley was one sheet of water from hill to hill as far as the eye could see. The destructive force of the floods was awesome: houses, otherwise intact and complete with their contents, were carried away in the rapids; horses, cattle, and barns were swept downstream for miles.

The heavy rains also triggered landslides and mud slides on California’s steep hillsides. For instance, in Knights Ferry and Mokelumne Hill, nearly every building was torn from its foundation and carried off by thundering landslides, and a major landslide also occurred at the town of Volcano in the Sierra foothills, killing seven people.

The 1861-62 floods extended far beyond the borders of California. They were the worst in recorded history over much of the American West, including northern Mexico, Oregon, Washington State and into British Columbia, as well as reaching inland into Nevada, Utah and Arizona. In Nevada, a normally arid state, twice its typical annual rainfall occurred in the two-month period of December 1861 to January 1862. All this excess water transformed the Carson Valley into a large lake, inundating Nevada City with nine feet of rain in 60 days.

In southern Utah, 1861-62 became known as the “year of the floods,” as homes, barns, a fiber and molasses mill and many forts were washed away, including the adobe home of a Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee. Lee had carefully recorded the weather throughout January 1862 in his diary, noting a solid period of alternating rain and snow with strong winds for most of that month. In Oregon, two and a half weeks of solid rain caused the worst flooding in this state’s history. Deluges covered huge portions of the lower Willamette Valley where Oregon City is located. Oregon City was the terminus of the Oregon Trail, and it was the state’s capital, where George Abernathy, an Oregon pioneer and the state’s first elected governor, lived and ran a thriving business. The flood destroyed his home, forcing him (and many others) to leave. Arizona was also impacted: floods occurred in the Gila, Verde, Bright Angel and Colorado River basins between January 19 and 23, 1862, and flooding was severe in Yuma, destroying the city.

Why so many people were caught off-guard by these floods remains a mystery, but clearly these immigrants did not recognize the climatic warning signs. They had never experienced such extreme flooding in the 12 years since the Gold Rush began, although lesser floods were not uncommon. It appears that the Native American populations, who had lived in the region for thousands of years, had deeper insights to the weather and hydrology, and recognized the patterns that result in devastating floods. A piece in the Nevada City Democrat described the Native American response on January 11, 1862:

We are informed that the Indians living in the vicinity of Marysville left their abodes a week or more ago for the foothills predicting an unprecedented overflow. They told the whites that the water would be higher than it has been for thirty years, and pointed high up on the trees and houses where it would come. The valley Indians have traditions that the water occasionally rises 15 or 20 feet higher than it has been at any time since the country was settled by whites, and as they live in the open air and watch closely all the weather indications, it is not improbable that they may have better means than the whites of anticipating a great storm.

The specific weather pattern that the Native Americans of the West recognized and knew would bring particularly severe flooding is once again understood today. The powerful storms originate in the warm and moist tropical Pacific Ocean. Recent research describes these storms more broadly as “atmospheric rivers,” and they often result in the worst floods in not only the American West, but across the globe.

The tragic 1861-62 floods may have temporarily served to wake-up the residents of California and the West to the possible perils of their region’s weather They saw nature at its most unpredictable and terrifying, turning in a day or an hour from benign to utterly destructive. But the costs to the state went beyond the loss of life, property and resources: California’s spirit and confidence was badly shaken.

The lessons of the 1861-62 floods should provide the impetus for flood disaster planning efforts in a region where housing developments and cities are spreading across many floodplains. A critical element of living in a place like California is an awareness of these natural disasters, which requires a deep understanding of the natural patterns and frequencies of these events. Today we have building codes for earthquake safety, but millions of new westerners are not aware of the region’s calamitous climate history. Most have never even heard of the 1861–62 floods, and those may not have been the worst that nature can regularly dish out to the region. In a forthcoming book I co-wrote with Frances Malamud-Roam, THE WEST WITHOUT WATER: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow (University of California Press, Spring 2013) we present evidence for similar if not larger floods that have occurred every one to two centuries over the past two millennia in California, as well as nature’s flip-side: deep and prolonged droughts.

 

Crews ramp up effort to rescue live victims of California mudslide

January 13, 2018

by Paula Lehman-Ewing

Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A massive influx of search and rescue crews scoured parts of California’s Santa Barbara County on Saturday for seven people still missing following mudslides that killed at least 18.

An additional 900 emergency personnel arrived in Montecito, north of Los Angeles, to join the relief effort underway by more than 2,100 personnel from local, state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy and the American Red Cross.

“They are hopeful that we will still recover live victims out there,” said Amber Anderson, public information officer for the multi-agency response team.

The ramped-up rescue effort is in response to urgent requests for additional manpower made earlier in the week.“We need that number to effectively meet our objectives,” Anderson said. “To get people here takes time and we’re finally getting that request for influx.”

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office made a plea for information on any of the missing residents, while acknowledging that finding anyone alive would be a “miracle.”

“The missing persons were reported by family and friends, and resided in areas that were heavily damaged during the storm and subsequent mudslides,” the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office listed the names of the missing, who range in age from two to 62, in a statement on Friday night.

The disaster struck on Tuesday after heavy rains soaked the area near Montecito, where vegetation had been denuded by the largest wildfire in California’s history.

Sodden hillsides gave way, unleashing a torrent of mud, water, uprooted trees and boulders onto the valley below and causing what the police described as “traumatic injuries” to the victims, who ranged in age from 3 to 89.

One of California’s most celebrated roads, coastal Highway 101, was partially closed, with mud that was two feet deep in places, while in Montecito, mud reached the roof lines of houses, as residents surveyed their damaged homes.

“We have a yard to redo and hopefully our insurance will help out with that, but the people across from me, newer homes, gone,” Garrett Speirs, a 54-year-old artist who has been living in Montecito for 20 years, said.

“Everybody down below gone, two girls gone … Two sixth-graders in the school our kids went to,” Speirs added.

Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Montecito, California, Keith Coffman in Denver, Chris Kenning in Chicago, Gina Cherelus and Peter Szekely in New York and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by Scott Malone and Jon Herskovitz; editing by Alexander Smith and Diane Craft

 

The urban animal: population density and social pathology in rodents and humans

February 2009

by Edmund Ramsden

World Health Organization

In a 1962 edition of Scientific American, the ecologist John B Calhoun presented the results of a macabre series of experiments conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).1 He had placed several rats in a laboratory in a converted barn where – protected from disease and predation and supplied with food, water and bedding – they bred rapidly. The one thing they were lacking was space, a fact that became increasingly problematic as what he liked to describe as his “rat city” and “rodent utopia” teemed with animals. Unwanted social contact occurred with increasing frequency, leading to increased stress and aggression. Following the work of the physiologist, Hans Selye, it seemed that the adrenal system offered the standard binary solution: fight or flight.2 But in the sealed enclosure, flight was impossible. Violence quickly spiralled out of control. Cannibalism and infanticide followed. Males became hypersexual, pansexual and, an increasing proportion, homosexual. Calhoun called this vortex “a behavioural sink”. Their numbers fell into terminal decline and the population tailed off to extinction. At the experiments’ end, the only animals still alive had survived at an immense psychological cost: asexual and utterly withdrawn, they clustered in a vacant huddled mass. Even when reintroduced to normal rodent communities, these “socially autistic” animals remained isolated until death. In the words of one of Calhoun’s collaborators, rodent “utopia” had descended into “hell”.3

Calhoun’s experiments with rats and mice proved extremely influential. His findings resonated with a variety of concerns, including population growth, environmental degradation and urban violence. In the course of a project on the history of stress, Jon Adams of the London School of Economics and I have traced how evidence of crowding pathology, generated in the rodent laboratories of NIMH, travelled to an alternative setting: the buildings, institutions and cities of the social scientist, city planner, architect and medical specialist. While urban sociologists and social psychiatrists explored correlations between density and pathologies in their statistical studies, environmental psychologists moved to the laboratory and fields such as the prison, the school and the hospital. Social and medical scientists were attracted to the possibility of providing evidence of how a physical and measurable variable – density – had important consequences demanding policy response. Many had already begun using Calhoun’s rats to support family planning programmes or for improving the physical design of the city.4

However, results from human studies of crowding proved inconsistent. In an influential series of experiments by the psychologist Jonathan Freedman, individuals employed to carry out tasks under varying conditions of density displayed few pathologies.5 Focus now shifted away from simply identifying the pathological consequences of density and towards factors that mediated its effects. This was aided by a distinction between “density” as a physical measure and “crowding” as a subjective response.6 Feeling crowded was determined by a range of social and psychological factors: an individual’s desired level of privacy, their ability to control a situation or their social role. Increased density might be inevitable but human beings were capable of coping with crowding.

Yet this did not mean that Calhoun’s research was rejected. Researchers recognized that Calhoun’s work was not simply about density in a physical sense, as number of individuals-per-square-unit-area, but was about degrees of social interaction. By reducing unwanted interaction through improved design of space – providing prisoners with individual cells or patients with independent living areas – crowding stress could be avoided.7 This had been the focus of Calhoun’s later research. Through improved design and increased control, Calhoun attempted to develop more collaborative and adaptable rodent communities capable of withstanding greater degrees of density.8

Continued problems of prison overcrowding and transport congestion ensure that the subject of crowding stress remains pertinent, but the relevance of Calhoun’s experiments is less commonly acknowledged. Towards the end of his career, Calhoun, who died in 1995, would be increasingly dismayed that it was a simplified, negative message – population density equals pathology – that was more commonly associated with his work, making his contribution seem not only flawed in the human context, but dangerous. In the words of the sociologists Fischer & Baldassare: “A red-eyed, sharp-fanged obsession about urban life stalks contemporary thought.”9 In focusing upon crowding, not only were the benefits of dense city-living ignored, but other causes of urban pathology, such as poverty and inequality, were neglected. Yet Calhoun’s work considered many of these factors, suggested how they could be overcome, and as such, his role deserves reconsideration. ■

Ballistic missile warning sent in error by Hawaii authorities

January 13, 2018

by Jolyn Rosa

Reuters

HONOLULU (Reuters) – An emergency alert was sent mistakenly on Saturday to Hawaii’s residents warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack when an employee at the state emergency management agency pushed the “wrong button,” Hawaii’s governor said.

State officials and the U.S. military’s Pacific Command confirmed that there was no actual threat to the state. But for more than a half hour, before the agency retracted the warning, panicked Hawaiians scrambled to find shelter.

The mistaken alert stated: “EMERGENCY ALERT BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

Governor David Ige, who apologized for the mistake, said in televised remarks that the alert was sent during a employee shift change at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. Vern Miyagi, the agency’s administrator, called it “human error.”

“It was a procedure that occurs at the change of shift where they go through to make sure that the system, that it’s working. And an employee pushed the wrong button,” the Democratic governor said, adding that such shift changes occur three times a day every day of the year.

The alert, sent to mobile phones and aired on television and radio shortly after 8 a.m., was issued amid high international tensions over North Korea’s development of ballistic nuclear weapons.

“I was awakened by the alert like everyone else here in the state of Hawaii. It was unfortunate and regrettable. We will be looking at how we can improve the procedures so it doesn’t happen again,” Ige added.

Miyagi said, “It was an inadvertent mistake. The change of shift is about three people. That should have been caught. … It should not have happened.”

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which has jurisdiction over the emergency alert system, announced it was initiating a full investigation. Earlier this week, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the agency would vote at its January meeting to enhance the effectiveness of wireless emergency alerts, which have been in place since 2012.

Stacey Bow, 56, of Honolulu, said she was awakened to the emergency alert on her smart phone. She awakened her 16-year-old daughter with the news. “She became hysterical, crying, you know, just lost it,” she said.

Bow said of the person responsible for issuing the alert, “I imagine that person is clearing out their desk right now. You don’t get a do-over for something like that.”

CHECK LIST

Miyagi said there was a “check list” that should have been followed. He said, “I think we have the process in place. It’s a matter of executing the process.” He added, “This will not happen again.”

Hawaii, a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean, has a population of about 1.4 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and is home to Pacific Command, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and other elements of the American military.

In November, Hawaii said it would resume monthly statewide testing of Cold War-era nuclear attack warning sirens for the first time in at least a quarter of a century, in preparation for a possible missile strike from North Korea.

North Korean President Kim Jong-un has threatened to unleash his country’s growing missile weapon capability against the U.S. territory of Guam or U.S. states, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten tough action against Pyongyang, including “fire and fury.”

Trump was wrapping up a round of golf at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida when the incident was unfolding. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said Trump was briefed and that it “was purely a state exercise.”

Michael Sterling, 56, of Los Angeles, was in Waikiki when he received the alert.

“I was thinking what could we do? There is nothing we can do with a missile,” Sterling said.

School administrator Tamara Kong, 43, of Honolulu, said, “Today, the whole state of Hawaii experienced a collective moment of panic and relief.”

 

 Chelsea Manning files to run as Democrat for US Senate in Maryland

  • Federal election documents confirm Manning’s intention to run in November
  • Manning jailed in 2010 for passing files to WikiLeaks and was freed last year

January 13, 2018

by Martin Pengelly

The Guardian

Chelsea Manning, the former US army private who was imprisoned for passing information to WikiLeaks, has filed to run for a seat in the US Senate.

A federal election filing, made on Thursday, confirmed Manning’s intention to run in the November elections as a Democrat.

That would range her against Ben Cardin, the senior senator from Maryland who has served since 2007. The senior Democrat on the Senate foreign affairs committee, Cardin has emerged as a key party voice on investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

In 2012, Cardin faced a primary challenge from an African American state senator and seven other candidates. Cardin won 74% of the vote.

A representative for Manning did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Manning, now 30, was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in jail, for her part in the 2010 leak of more than 700,000 documents and videos to news outlets including the Guardian and the New York Times.

Her sentence was commuted by President Obama, shortly before the end of his second term in office. Manning was released from Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas in May 2017, having spent seven years in custody.

Manning, who was formerly known as Bradley and who attempted suicide while in prison, is now a writer and activist who has been a columnist for the Guardian.

Donald Trump has criticised Manning. In January 2017, responding to the commutation of her sentence, he tweeted: “Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!”

 

 

Trump’s Failed Coup in Iran

January 6, 2018

by Eric Margolis

The Unz Review

Listen to the state-‘guided’ US media this past week and you’d believe a series of spontaneous anti-government protests broke out across Iran. The protests, according to President Donald Trump and his Israeli allies, were caused by `anger over Iran’s spending billions on wars in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and helping the Palestinian movement Hamas.’ Trump tweeted that Iranians were finally rising up against what he called their hated, brutal regime.

Talk about manufactured news. Most Iranians were elated and proud of their nation’s role in thwarting US plans to occupy much of Syria and overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. By contrast, the other side in this long proxy war – the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Britain – was smarting with defeat and seeking ways to exact revenge on the hateful trio, Syria, Iran and Russia.

Interestingly, the so-called news of protests over Iran’s military spending did not apparently originate in Iran but rather in Washington which spread it far and wide to our state-guided media. This was clumsy, but the US and Israel were so eager to get this piece of made-up good news out that they forget the basics of propaganda management: wait for the event before you proclaim it.

What in fact was going on in Iran where more than 21 demonstrators have died violent deaths? As a very long-time Iran watcher allow me to explain.

Restive minority groups in Iran’s Kurdish, Azeri and Sunni Arab regions, most far from the big cities, have been demonstrating and protesting severe economic problems. Iran is a big, resource-rich nation of 80 million people that should be booming. But it has been under economic siege warfare by the US and its allies ever since a popular uprising in 1979 overthrew the US-British backed monarchy that was raping the nation and keeping it a vassal of the western powers.

Iran’s new Islamic Republic was deemed a dire threat to Western and Israeli strategic and military interests (think Saudi Arabia). The very idea that the Islamic Republic would follow the tenets of Islam and share oil wealth with the needy was anathema to London and Washington. Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, ran Iran’s dreaded, brutal secret police, Savak. The crooked royal family looted the nation and stored their swag in California.

The West’s first act was to induce Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to invade Iran, in Sept 1980. The West (including the Gulf Arabs) armed, financed and supplied Iraq. As I discovered in Baghdad, Britain and the US supplied Iraq with poison gas and germ warfare toxins. After eight years, 250,000 Iraqis were killed and nearly one million Iranians died.

Ever since the Islamic Revolution, the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs have been trying to overthrow the Tehran government and mount a counter-revolution. CIA and Britain’s MI6 has ample practice: in 1953, the CIA and MI6 mounted an elaborate operation to overthrow Iran’s democratically-elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh who sought to nationalize Iran’s British-owned oil company. Mobs of specially trained anti-Mossadegh plotters poured into Tehran’s streets. Bombs went off. Army commanders were suborned, lavish bribes handed out.

The 1953 coup went perfectly. Mossadegh was ousted with backing from the Army and Savak. Iran’s oil remained safe in western hands. The successful Iran uprising became the template for future ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Russia, Poland, and Romania.

But in 2009 a US-engineered ‘color revolution’ in Iran went badly wrong even though it used all the latest arts of social media to whip up protestors and deploy them in the streets. Something similar happened in Iran this past weekend where mobs of 20-somethings, agitated by US and British covert social media, poured into the streets of dingy provincial towns.

As of now, this medium-sized uprising in Iran looks to be over, though it could re-ignite at any time. Young Iranians, at least 40% of the population, suffer due to 50% unemployment. Iran’s $1 trillion economy is extremely fragile and in some cases barely functioning after decades of US-engineered economic warfare and boycotts. High unemployment is a result of US economic warfare and bullying other nations not to do business with Iran, producing 13% overall unemployment and a 40% inflation rate. The latter and wide-scale corruption were the spark that ignited the latest riots.

In two more weeks, President Trump, who makes no secret of his hatred and contempt for Muslims, must decide whether to reaffirm the multilateral nuclear energy deal with Iran or heed Israel’s demands and refuse to certify it. His cutoff this week of US military aid to Muslim Pakistan bodes ill for Iran.

Many Iranians observing the current US-North Korea nuclear standoff will wonder if their nation was not better off continuing its nuclear program and holding the Saudi oil fields at risk to deter a US attack. Trump’s wild, inconsistent and often infantile responses on this issue are making matters murkier…and ever more dangerous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • SECRETARY’S FOREWORD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The Arctic is at a strategic inflection point as its ice cap is diminishing more rapidly than projected2 and human activity, driven by economic opportunity—ranging from oil, gas, and mineral exploration to fishing, shipping, and tourism—is increasing in response to the growing accessibility. Arctic and non-Arctic nations are establishing their strategies and positions on the future of the Arctic in a variety of international forums. Taken together, these changes present a compelling opportunity for the Department of Defense (DoD) to work collaboratively with allies and partners to promote a balanced approach to improving human and environmental security in the region in accordance with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region.3

Security in the Arctic encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, ranging from resource extraction and trade to activities supporting safe commercial and scientific operations to national defense. Security cooperation activities and other military-to-military forms of engagement establish, shape, and maintain international relations and the partnerships necessary to meet security challenges and reduce the potential for friction. The Department will continue to build cooperative strategic partnerships that promote innovative, affordable security solutions, and burden-sharing in theArctic, and seek to increase opportunities with Arctic partners to enhance regional expertise andcold-weather operational experience.

The Department will continue to train and operate routinely in the region4 as it monitors the changing environment, revisiting assessments and taking appropriate action as conditions change.

This strategy identifies the Department’s desired end-state for the Arctic: a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges. It also articulates two main supporting objectives: Ensure security, support safety, and promote defense cooperation, and prepare to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies—operating in conjunction with other nations when possible, and independently if necessary—in order to maintain stability in the region. Finally, it identifies the ways and means the Department intends to use to achieve these objectives as it implements the National  Strategy for the Arctic Region.

1The DoD strategy uses a broad definition of the Arctic, codified in 15 U.S.C. 4111, that includes all U.S. and foreign territory north of the Arctic Circle and all U.S. territory north and west of the boundary formed by the Porcupine, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers; all contiguous seas, including the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi Seas, and the Aleutian islands chain.

2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists in J.E. Overland and M. Wang (2013), When will the summer Arctic be nearly sea ice free?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40 doi:10.1002/grl.50316.

3This strategy is nested under National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 66 / Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 25, Arctic Region Policy, the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region, and the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. It complements DoD’s Strategy for Homeland Defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (HD&DSCA).

4For additional information on the Navy’s historic involvement in the Arctic, see The Impact of Climate Change on Naval Operations in the Arctic (Center for Naval Analysis, 2009).

  1. U.S. INTERESTS IN THE ARCTIC

U.S. national security interests in the Arctic are delineated in National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 25, Arctic Region Policy. 5 This policy states that national security interests include such matters as missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security operations; and ensuring freedom of the seas. Preserving freedom of the seas, which includes all of the rights, freedoms, and uses of the seas and adjacent airspace, including freedom of navigation and overflight, in the Arctic supports the nation’s ability to exercise these rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace throughout the world, including through strategic straits.

The 2013 National Strategy on the Arctic Region frames the whole-of-government approach that provides the overarching context for the Department’s efforts. It lays out three main lines of effort in the Arctic: advance U.S. security interests; pursue responsible Arctic region stewardship; and strengthen international cooperation. The goal of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region is “an Arctic region that is stable and free of conflict, where nations act responsibly in a spirit of trust and cooperation, and where economic and energy resources are developed in a sustainable manner that also respects the fragile environment and the interests and cultures of indigenous peoples.”

The DoD Arctic Strategy outlines how the Department will support the whole-of-government effort to promote security, stewardship, and international cooperation in the Arctic. The Department’s strategic approach to the Arctic reflects the relatively low level of military threat in a region bounded by nation States that have not only publicly committed to working within a common framework of international law and diplomatic engagement,6 but have also demonstrated the ability and commitment to do so. In consideration of enduring national interests in the Arctic and existing strategic guidance, the Department’s end-state for its strategic approach to the Arctic is: a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges.

5 The January 2009 National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD)-66, dual-titled as Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-25, or NSPD-66/HSPD-25, established the policy of the United States with respect to the Arctic and outlined national security and homeland security interests in the region. Homeland security interests include preventing terrorist attacks and mitigating those criminal or hostile acts that could increase the United States’ vulnerability to terrorism in the Arctic. The Department has a role to play in responding not only to traditional (e.g., military) threats, but also to a range of other potential national security challenges (e.g., smuggling, criminal trafficking, and terrorism as the lead agency or in support of other government agencies6In the Ilulissat Declaration (May 28, 2008), all five Arctic Ocean coastal States (United States, Russian Federation, Canada, Norway, and Denmark on behalf of Greenland) committed themselves to the orderly settlement of overlapping territorial claims through the established framework of the international law as reflected in the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC). The Declaration affirmedthat the legal framework provided by the LOSC is sufficient for the management of the Arctic Ocean and that there is no need to develop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern this Ocean.

6 In the Ilulissat Declaration (May 28, 2008), all five Arctic Ocean coastal States (United States, Russian Federation, Canada, Norway,and Denmark on behalf of Greenland) committed themselves to the orderly settlement of overlapping territorial claims through theestablished framework of the international law as reflected in the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC). The Declaration affirmedthat the legal framework provided by the LOSC is sufficient for the management of the Arctic Ocean and that there is no need todevelop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern this Ocean.

  1. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SUPPORTING OBJECTIVES

The Department’s two supporting objectives describe what is to be accomplished to achieve its desired end-state. These objectives are bounded by policy guidance, the changing nature of the strategic and physical environment, and the capabilities and limitations of the available instruments of national power (diplomatic, informational, military, and economic). Actions taken to achieve these objectives will be informed by the Department’s global priorities and fiscal constraints. In order to achieve its strategic endstate, the Department’s supporting objectives are:

Ensure security, support safety, and promote defense cooperation .7

– Relationships with allies and partners are important enablers of cooperation in meeting security and defense commitments. These relationships also play an important role in conflict prevention, and, if prevention and deterrence fail, in coordinating an international response to security and defense challenges. Although the Department of State is the lead for regional diplomacy, DoD has a supporting role enhancing the region’s capability and capacity for multilateral security collaboration, and responding to requests for assistance from interagency and international partners both within and outside the Arctic. This collaborative approach helps prevent conflict and provides the stability needed to facilitate the sustainable economic development envisioned in the National Strategy for the Arctic Region. The Department of Defense will seek out areas of mutual interest to build strategic relationships and encourage operational-level partnerships that promote innovative, affordable security solutions and enhance burdensharing in the Arctic. Science and technology (S&T) can provide non-contentious opportunities for cooperation, and DoD will coordinate research initiatives with the

Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC).

The Department has an important role supporting other Federal departments and agencies in safety-related missions in Alaska and in responding to requests from civil authorities to support them with disaster relief or humanitarian assistance at home or abroad. Although the Department has seldom been tasked to execute these missions in the Arctic, it may be asked to do more in the coming decades.

Prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies—operating in conjunction with other States when possible and independently if necessary—in order to maintain stability in the region.

– Future challenges in the Arctic may span the full range of national security interests.

These challenges and contingencies may take many forms, ranging from the need to support other Federal departments and agencies—or another nation—in responding to a natural or man-made disaster to responding to security concerns that may emerge in the

future.

7 Per the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region, U.S. security in the Arctic encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, including national defense.

III. STRATEGIC APPROACH

The Department will pursue comprehensive engagement with allies and partners to protect the homeland and support civil authorities in preparing for increased human activity in the Arctic. Strategic partnerships are the center of gravity in ensuring a peaceful opening of the Arctic and achieving the Department’s desired end-state. Where possible, DoD will seek innovative, low-cost, smallfootprint approaches to achieve these objectives (e.g., by participating in multilateral exercises like the Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) hosted by Greenland, COLDRESPONSE hosted by Norway, and Canada’s Operation NANOOK, or through Defense Environmental International Cooperation Program-supported engagements on Arctic issues). The Department will also evolve its infrastructure and capabilities in step with the changing physical environment in order to ensure security, support safety, promote defense cooperation, and prepare to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies in the Arctic in the coming decades. The Department will accomplish its objectives through the following ways:

 

Exercise sovereignty and protect the homeland;

Engage public and private sector partners to improve domain awareness in the Arctic;

Preserve freedom of the seas in the Arctic;

Evolve Arctic infrastructure and capabilities consistent with changing conditions;

Support existing agreements with allies and partners while pursuing new ones to build confidence with key regional partners;

Provide support to civil authorities, as directed;

Partner with other departments and agencies and nations to support human and environmental safety; and

Support the development of the Arctic Council and otherinternational institutions that promote regional cooperation and the rule of law.

The Department will apply the four guiding principles from the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region as it pursues these eight ways.9 This means DoD will work with allies, partners, and other interested parties to safeguard peace and stability. It will make decisions using the best available scientific information, and will pursue innovative arrangements as it develops the capability and capacity needed in the Arctic over time. It will also follow established Federal tribal consultation policy. These four principles will underpin all of the Department’s activities as it implements this strategy through the means described in this section.

8 The Arctic Council’s charter states, “The Arctic Council should not deal with matters related to military security.” It could be argued that search and rescue is a (human) security interest, and oil spill response is an (environmental) security interest; thus, the Council has a demonstrated ability to address a range of “soft security” issues.

Protect the Homeland and Exercise Sovereignty

From the U.S. perspective, greater access afforded by the decreasing seasonal ice increases the Arctic’s viability as an avenue of approach to North America for those with hostile intent toward the U.S. homeland, and the Department will remain prepared to detect, deter, prevent, and defeat  threats to the homeland. Additionally, DoD will continue to support the exercise of U.S. sovereignty. In the near-term10, this will require some ability to operate in the Arctic, which the Department will maintain and enhance by continuing to conduct exercises and training in the region. In the mid- to far-term, this may require developing further capabilities and capacity to protect U.S. air, land, and maritime borders in the Arctic in accordance with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region. As directed by the 2011 Unified Command Plan, Commander, U.S. Northern Command (CDRUSNORTHCOM) is responsible for advocating for Arctic capabilities. In execution of this responsibility, CDRUSNORTHCOM will collaborate with relevant Combatant Commands, the Joint Staff, the Military Departments and ServicesServices, and the Defense agencies to identify and prioritize emerging Arctic capability gaps and requirements. These efforts will be informed by the most authoritative scientific information on future Arctic conditions. For purposes of mission and infrastructure vulnerability assessments and adaptation to climate change, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (OUSD(AT&L)) will identify projections of future conditions to be used. The Department of Defense will collaborate with theDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) to ensure efficient use of resources to avoid duplication of effort in research, development, experimentation, testing, and acquisition. Forums such as the DoD-DHS Capabilities Development Working Group are among the means to facilitate this cooperation.

Engage public and private sector partners to improve all domain awareness in the Arctic.

Although NSPD-66/HSPD-25 focuses on maritime domain awareness, the Department has responsibilities for awareness across all domains: air, land, maritime, space, and cyberspace. Adequate domain awareness is an essential component of protecting maritime commerce, critical infrastructure, and key resources. In the near-term, the Department will work through the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to maintain air tracking capabilities in the Arctic. As the maritime domain becomes increasingly accessible, the Department will seek to improve its maritime detection and tracking in coordination with DHS and other departments and agencies as well as through public/private partnerships. The Department of the Navy, in its role as DoD Executive Agent for Maritime Domain Awareness, will lead DoD coordination on maritime detection and tracking. Where possible, DoD will also collaborate with international partners to employ, acquire, share, or develop the means required to improve sensing, data collection and fusion, analysis, and information-sharing to enhance domain awareness appropriately in the Arctic. Monitoring regional activity and analyzing emerging trends are key to informing future investments in Arctic capabilities and ensuring they keep pace with increasing human activity in the region over time.

9 Many of DoD’s ways align with what the National Strategy for the Arctic Region terms supporting objectives to its three lines of effort, but DoD’s strategy follows the classical “ways-ends-means” construction.

10 This strategy identifies three timeframes to be used for implementation planning: the near-term (present day-2020); mid-term (2020-2030); and far-term (beyond 2030). These timeframes are approximate due to uncertainty in climate change projections.

In the near- to mid-term, the primary means of improving domain awareness will be continued use of innovative, low-cost solutions for polar Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) needs as well as enhanced international collaboration. DoD will take steps to work with other Federal departments and agencies to improve nautical charts, enhance relevant atmospheric and oceanic models, improve accuracy of estimates of ice extent and thickness, and detect and monitor climate change indicators. In particular, the Department of the Navy will work in partnership with other Federal departments and agencies (e.g., DHS, the Department of Commerce) and international partners to improve hydrographic charting and oceanographic surveys in the Arctic.

The Department will continue to collaborate with other Federal departments and agencies and the State of Alaska to monitor and assess changes in the physical environment to inform the development of Arctic requirements and future capabilities. To that end, the Department will leverage work done by the scientific and academic communities and seek opportunities to contribute to the observation and modeling of the atmosphere, ocean, and sea ice conditions, including acoustics conditions, to enhance military environmental forecasting capabilities. These collaborations will help inform the development and design of future ice-strengthened ship designs, when required.

Preserve freedom of the seas in the Arctic.

The United States has a national interest in preserving all of the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace recognized under international law. The Department will preserve the global mobility of United States military and civilian vessels and aircraft throughout the Arctic,11 including through the exercise of the Freedom of Navigation program to challenge excessive maritime claims asserted by other Arctic States when necessary. The Department will continue to support U.S. accession to the United Nations Convention on the Lawof the Sea (hereafter referred to as the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC)) because it codifies the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace the Department seeks to preserve; provides a means for the peaceful resolution of disputes; and ensures international recognition of resources rights on the extended continental shelf.

Evolve Arctic infrastructure and capabilities consistent with changing conditions.

The Department will periodically re-evaluate requirements necessary to meet

national security objectives as conditions change and the Combatant Commandersidentify operational requirements for the Arctic in updates to their regional plans.Once operational requirements are defined, solutions for associated supporting infrastructure requirements should seek to leverage existing U.S. Government, commercial, and international facilities to the maximum extent possible in order to mitigate the high cost and extended timelines associated with the development of Arctic infrastructure. If no existing infrastructure is capable of sufficiently supporting the requirement, modifications to existing bases, such as the addition of a new hangar, will be made as part of the military construction or facilities sustainment, restoration, and modernization processes.

Uphold existing agreements with allies and partners while building confidence with key regional partners.

Security cooperation activities and other military-to-military forms of engagement establish, shape, and maintain international relations and the partnerships necessary to meet security challenges and reduce the potential for friction. The 2012 and 2013 Northern Chiefs of Defense (CHoDs) meetings and the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable workshops and meetings are examples of means for promoting information-sharing and partnership-building necessary to develop cooperative approaches to common challenges. Therefore, in cooperation with the Department of State, DHS (in particular, the U.S. Coast Guard), and other relevant agencies, the Department will continue to build cooperative strategic partnerships that promote innovative, affordable security solutions and burden-sharing in the Arctic. It will also seek to increase bilateral exchanges, including in science and technology, and take advantage of multilateral training opportunities with Arctic partners to enhance regional expertise and cold-weather operational experience.

Provide Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) in Alaska and provide Foreign Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Disaster Relief (FHA/FDR) in other non-U.S. territorial areas of the Arctic.

When directed by the appropriate authority, the Department will be prepared to support civil authorities in response to natural or manmade disasters, or to conduct FHA/FDR operations in cooperation with allies and partners. Partner with other agencies and nations to support human and environmental safety.

Some of the near-term safety-related challenges include meeting international search and rescue obligations and responding to incidents such as oil spills in ice-covered waters, as reflected in the recently concluded Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic and Agreement on Cooperation on

Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic. The Department will leverage existing capabilities to respond to requests for support from civil authorities in coordination with other departments and agencies and nations. Where appropriate, the Department will support other departments and agencies in maintaining human health; promoting healthy, sustainable, and resilient ecosystems; and consulting and coordinating with Alaska Natives on policy and activities affecting them. Finally, the Department will continue to integrate environmental considerations into its planning and operations and to contribute to whole-of-government approaches in support of the second line of effort in the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region

Support the development of the Arctic Council and other international institutions to promote regional cooperation and the rule of law.

The Department recognizes the value of the Arctic Council in efforts to understand the changing Arctic environment and developingcooperative approaches to regional challenges, and supports the Department of State in thecontinued development of the Council. Although the Department of State is the lead fordiplomacy, DoD has a role to play in enhancing the region’s multilateral security cooperationenvironment. Accordingly, DoD will work with allies and partners within the framework ofinternational institutions, ranging from the Arctic Council to the International MaritimeOrganization (IMO), to maintain stability and promote cooperation.

11As expressed by Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), Commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), and Commander, USNORTHCOM, in a May 2008 memorandum, the United States needs assured access to support U.S. national interests in the Arctic. Although this imperative could be met by regular U.S. Government ships in open water up to the marginal ice zone, only ice-capable ships provide assured sovereign presence throughout the region and throughout the year. Assured access in areas of pack ice could also be met by other means, including submarines and aircraft.

  1. CHALLENGES & RISKS TO THE STRATEGIC APPROACH

.This strategy furthers defense objectives while positioning the United States to take advantage of opportunities in the Arctic during the coming decades in accordance with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region. It also addresses some of the risks inherent in the trade-offs and tensions among U.S. interests and objectives, including:

Projections about future access to and activity in the Arctic may be inaccurate.

Significant uncertainty remains about the rate and extent of the effects of climate change, including climate variability, in the Arctic. There is also uncertainty about future economic conditions, and the pace at which human activity will increase in the region. The challenge is to balance the risk of having inadequate capabilities or insufficient capacity when required to operate in the region with the opportunity cost of making premature and/or unnecessary investments. Premature investment may reduce the availability of resources for other pressing priorities, particularly in a time of fiscal austerity.

Fiscal constraints may delay or deny needed investment in Arctic capabilities, and may curtail Arctic trainingand operations.

As the Department downsizes to meet budgetary targets, it will have to prioritize engagements for the resulting smaller force. There is also a risk that desired investments in Arctic capabilities may not compete successfully against other requirements in the Department’s budgetary priorities. Where possible, DoD will mitigate this risk by

developing innovative ways to employ existing capabilities in coordination with otherdepartments and agencies and international partners, and by enhancing scientific, research, and development partnerships. CDRUSNORTHCOM plays a key role in mitigating this risk as the Arctic capability advocate within the Department’s planning and programming

activities. Commander, U.S. European Command (CDRUSEUCOM) and Commander, U.S.

Pacific Command (CDRUSPACOM) also play a role by fostering collaborative working

relationships with regional partners.

Political rhetoric and press reporting about boundary disputes and competition for resources may inflame regional tensions.

Efforts to manage disagreements diplomatically may be hindered if the public narrative becomes one of rivalry and conflict. The Department will mitigate this risk by ensuring its plans, actions, and words are coordinated, and when appropriate, by engaging the press to counter unhelpful narratives with facts. The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy will monitor DoD activities, programs, and posture in the region to ensure the Department is sending a clear message to key audiences regarding the Department’s efforts to promote security, safety, and defense cooperation.

Being too aggressive in taking steps to address anticipated future security risks may create the conditions of mistrust and miscommunication under which such risks could materialize.

There is some risk that the perception that the Arctic is being militarized may lead to an “arms race” mentality that could lead to a breakdown of existing cooperative approaches to shared challenges. The Department will mitigate this risk by focusing on collaborative security approaches as outlined in the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region, and by supporting other Federal departments and agencies where they have leadership roles. Building trust through transparency about the intent of our military activities and participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises and other engagements that facilitate information-sharing will be a key means of addressing this risk.

  1. CONCLUSION

The Department will work collaboratively with allies and partners through the ways and means outlined in this strategy to support the development of the Arctic as a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges. Priority will be given to addressing key near-term challenges primarily in key enablers, including: shortfalls in ice and weather reporting and forecasting; limitations in C4ISR due to lack of assets and harsh environmental conditions; and limited domain awareness. The key will be to address needs over time as activity in the Arctic increases, while balancing potential Arctic investments with other national priorities. This approach will help the United States achieve its objectives as outlined in the National Strategy for the Arctic Region while mitigating risks and overcoming challenges presented by the growing geostrategic importance of the Arctic.

 

 

 

 

 

The Age of Fire and Fury: Humanity as a whole is being set back just because of one single Person.

Where is the world supposed to start again if it manages to survive Donald Trump?

January 12, 2018

by Der SPIEGEL’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief Susanne Beyer

“Fire and Fury” is the title of the new exposé of Donald Trump’s first year in the White House. The tome has only been out for a few days, and yet it has already established itself as one of the books of the year. Even we journalists find ourselves describing the book’s contents as “indescribable” and “unfathomable.” Can the world’s most powerful man really be dumb, senile and addicted to television as the book claims? He spends his early evenings watching three televisions in his bedroom? Eating a cheeseburger and tweeting all the while? An entire White House teetering between hysteria and chaos? And yet, it’s still the journalist’s job to describe the indescribable and fathom the unfathomable.

Our latest cover story explains how “Fire and Fury” came to be and whether, and the extent to which, it approaches the truth. Most importantly, however, it delves into the consequences for an America and a world that have been confronted with a nuclear-armed fool who is likely to remain in office for some time to come, who is neither mentally nor psychologically suited for the job – apparently also not physically, either, given how late he starts the working day and how early he ends it. That, unfortunately, is precisely the point: Humanity as a whole is being set back just because of one single person. The achievements of decades – the fight against a climate disaster, against the nuclear threat, for equality between men and women, between blacks and whites and so on and so on. Where is the world supposed to start again if it manages to survive Donald Trump?

 

 

Lost in space? Questions mount over fate of secret satellite as SpaceX pushes ahead

January 12, 2018

by Christian Davenport

Washington Post

The top-secret satellite known only by a code name, “Zuma,” was a mystery from the start. Its classified mission was intentionally inscrutable, whether to detect missile launches, spy on adversaries or track ships at sea with a space radar.

The satellite was so highly secretive that it was not publicly released which government agency — The National Reconnaissance Office? The CIA? — was responsible for it. During the launch on the evening of Jan. 7, SpaceX cut short its webcast so that it wouldn’t reveal details of where the satellite was going or what it looked like.

Now there’s another mystery: What happened to Zuma?

After reports Monday that the satellite suffered some sort of failure, SpaceX rushed to defend its reputation, denying that it had done anything wrong. Its Falcon 9 rocket “performed nominally,” it said.

Then, on Tuesday morning, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell issued a more strongly worded statement, saying: “For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.”

Shotwell pushed back on reports that seemed to implicate SpaceX with the satellite’s demise, saying “information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.”

[The mystery behind the fate of a top-secret satellite comes at the height of one of Elon Musk’s biggest rivalries]

Northrop Grumman, the satellite’s manufacturer, said it could not comment on a classified mission. As members of Congress began requesting classified briefings about what, if anything, went wrong, Pentagon officials were also mum.

For SpaceX, the stakes are especially high — not just because a valuable national security asset valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, or more, that it was hired to launch was possibly lost. It had fought so hard for the right to compete for national security launches. After a bitter legal and lobbying battle, the Pentagon certified SpaceX’s Falcon 9 for the missions and now is relying on SpaceX to reliably fly its satellites to orbit.

Furthermore, NASA is counting on Elon Musk’s company to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, with test flights as early as this year.

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who said he received a “preliminary briefing,” had two concerns about the possible loss of the satellite.

“One is the loss of the intelligence that would have been available,” he said. “The second concern is the reliability of the delivery systems. And that issue is being debated between the contractors, SpaceX and the satellite manufacturer, Northrop.”

While he said he did not know who was to blame, he indicated that the dispute might lead to litigation. “Those two companies are going to have a long and, I suspect, very expensive discussion,” he said.

SpaceX’s resolve and relentless drive were unchanged by the mystery surrounding Zuma (which included the possibility that nothing went wrong and that the satellite was, indeed, in orbit). Last year, the company launched 18 times successfully, a record for SpaceX. This year, it plans to break that record, continuing its disruption of an industry Musk first targeted

when he founded SpaceX in 2002.

As critics were quick to call SpaceX’s reliability into question, the company rolled its new powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, onto the same launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center that hoisted the Apollo astronauts to the moon. An engine test fire had been postponed earlier in the week and was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. Despite the Zuma mystery, SpaceX vowed to continue with its manifest without delay.

That in itself was a statement: “They’re not going to launch again if they think there’s a chance it was their fault,” said Todd Harrison, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Matt Desch, the chief executive of Iridium, a communications satellite company that is one of SpaceX’s biggest customers, said in an interview that he “absolutely” had full confidence in SpaceX and that he had no qualms about proceeding with the four launches Iridium has on the Falcon 9 this year.

“We’re moving forward with plans for our next launch,” he said. “I know there are people who would love SpaceX to be taken down a few notches. And I’d be glad to hold them accountable for things they should be held accountable for. But this isn’t one. I believe they weren’t really responsible.”

Meanwhile, SpaceX’s chief rival made a statement of its own on Friday. After a couple-day delay, the United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, launched a Delta IV rocket carrying a classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

After a successful liftoff, the rocket was traveling at Mach 1, the speed of sound, within 49 seconds, as it burned through propellant at a rate of 1,950 pounds per second.

“Delta is ripping the sky at incredible speed,” Tory Bruno, the United Launch Alliance’s chief executive, wrote on Twitter.

‘What an incredible way to start off 2018’

On Jan. 7, the SpaceX launch appeared to go smoothly. The company cheered a successful liftoff and then the touchdown of its first-stage booster back on land so that it could be flown again, a practice designed to lower the cost of spaceflight.

Musk on Monday tweeted a long-exposure picture of the launch showing its fiery trail to space — and then the return of the booster, which has become routine for the company.

The Air Force’s 45th Space Wing congratulated SpaceX in a tweet: “What an incredible way to start off 2018 w/the world’s 1st successful launch and landing of this year!”

The launch was an important one for the California-based company founded nearly 16 years ago. Since its early days, Musk has waged war against the traditional contractors, namely the United Launch Alliance, in an attempt to compete for national security launch contracts, generally worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

For years, Musk proclaimed that SpaceX could save taxpayers millions by offering the Pentagon launches for far less than its rival. Meanwhile, the United Launch Alliance maintained that responsibility for vital national security satellites that cost hundreds of millions should not be decided on just price.

More than 10 years ago, even before it had flown a rocket to space successfully, SpaceX sued Boeing and Lockheed Martin in an attempt to block the formation of the United Launch Alliance, which it said was using “strong-armed tactics to demand that the Air Force grant them exclusive long-term contracts.” But SpaceX was derided as an “ankle biter” by its competitors, and the lawsuit went nowhere.

In 2014, SpaceX sued again in an attempt to end the nearly decade-long monopoly the United Launch Alliance held on national security launches, arguing that it should be able to compete for the launch contracts. By that point, SpaceX had been flying its Falcon 9 rocket successfully, and the Air Force settled the case with SpaceX, eventually granting it the certification required for it to compete.

Under mounting pressure from SpaceX, Bruno vowed to “literally transform” the company to compete — and he also continued to champion the firm’s track record of more than 100 successful launches in a row.

Since the contracts became competitively bid, SpaceX has won two of three contests.

‘Space is a risky business’

But it has also had its setbacks. In 2015, a Falcon 9 rocket blew up while carrying cargo to the space station. Then, in 2016, another rocket exploded while being fueled ahead of an engine test. No one was hurt in either explosion, but the payloads, worth millions of dollars, were lost.

In both cases, the company was grounded while it investigated the cause of the problems. As of now, SpaceX is moving ahead with its launch manifest.

“Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule,” Shotwell said.

As for Zuma’s fate, little is known.

This week, members of Congress began receiving briefings but were tight-lipped about the classified sessions.

U.S. Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said in a statement that while he couldn’t comment on classified matters, “space is a risky business.” He said his committee would provide “rigorous oversight that accounts for that risk and ensures that we can meet all of our national security space requirements as the Air Force looks to competitively procure space launch services in the future.”

Harrison, the defense analyst, said that SpaceX is in a frustrating position because it is limited in what it can say publicly about what happened.

“It’s a particular nightmare if nothing went wrong on their part and they can’t prove it because of the classified nature of the mission,” he said.

 

 

California Megaflood: Lessons from a Forgotten Catastrophe

A 43-day storm that began in December 1861 put central and southern California underwater for up to six months, and it could happen again

January 1, 2013

by B. Lynn Ingram

Scientific American

Geologic evidence shows that truly massive floods, caused by rainfall alone, have occurred in California every 100 to 200 years. Such floods are likely caused by atmospheric rivers: narrow bands of water vapor about a mile above the ocean that extend for thousands of kilometers.

The atmospheric river storms featured in a January 2013 article in Scientific American that I co-wrote with Michael Dettinger, The Coming Megafloods, are responsible for most of the largest historical floods in many western states. The only megaflood to strike the American West in recent history occurred during the winter of 1861-62. California bore the brunt of the damage. This disaster turned enormous regions of the state into inland seas for months, and took thousands of human lives. The costs were devastating: one quarter of California’s economy was destroyed, forcing the state into bankruptcy.

Today, the same regions that were submerged in 1861-62 are home to California’s fastest-growing cities. Although this flood is all but forgotten, important lessons from this catastrophe can be learned. Much of the insight can be gleaned from harrowing accounts in diary entries, letters and newspaper articles, as well as the book Up and Down California in 1860-1864, written by William Brewer, who surveyed the new state’s natural resources with state geologist Josiah Whitney.

In 1861, farmers and ranchers were praying for rain after two exceptionally dry decades. In December their prayers were answered with a vengeance, as a series of monstrous Pacific storms slammed—one after another—into the West coast of North America, from Mexico to Canada. The storms produced the most violent flooding residents had ever seen, before or since.

Sixty-six inches of rain fell in Los Angeles that year, more than four times the normal annual amount, causing rivers to surge over their banks, spreading muddy water for miles across the arid landscape. Large brown lakes formed on the normally dry plains between Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, even covering vast areas of the Mojave Desert. In and around Anaheim, , flooding of the Santa Ana River created an inland sea four feet deep, stretching up to four miles from the river and lasting four weeks.

Residents in northern California, where most of the state’s 500,000 people lived, were contending with devastation and suffering of their own. In early December, the Sierra Nevada experienced a series of cold arctic storms that dumped 10 to 15 feet of snow, and these were soon followed by warm atmospheric rivers storms. The series of warm storms swelled the rivers in the Sierra Nevada range so that they became raging torrents, sweeping away entire communities and mining settlements in the foothills—California’s famous “Gold Country.” A January 15, 1862, report from the Nelson Point Correspondence described the scene: “On Friday last, we were visited by the most destructive and devastating flood that has ever been the lot of ‘white’ men to see in this part of the country. Feather River reached the height of 9 feet more than was ever known by the ‘oldest inhabitant,’ carrying away bridges, camps, stores, saloon, restaurant, and much real-estate.” Drowning deaths occurred every day on the Feather, Yuba and American rivers. In one tragic account, an entire settlement of Chinese miners was drowned by floods on the Yuba River.

This enormous pulse of water from the rain flowed down the slopes and across the landscape, overwhelming streams and rivers, creating a huge inland sea in California’s enormous Central Valley—a region at least 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. Water covered farmlands and towns, drowning people, horses and cattle, and washing away houses, buildings, barns, fences and bridges. The water reached depths up to 30 feet, completely submerging telegraph poles that had just been installed between San Francisco and New York, causing transportation and communications to completely break down over much of the state for a month. William Brewer wrote a series of letters to his brother on the east coast describing the surreal scenes of tragedy that he witnessed during his travels in the region that winter and spring. In a description dated January 31, 1862, Brewer wrote:

Thousands of farms are entirely under water—cattle starving and drowning. All the roads in the middle of the state are impassable; so all mails are cut off. The telegraph also does not work clear through. In the Sacramento Valley for some distance the tops of the poles are under water. The entire valley was a lake extending from the mountains on one side to the coast range hills on the other. Steamers ran back over the ranches fourteen miles from the river, carrying stock, etc, to the hills. Nearly every house and farm over this immense region is gone. America has never before seen such desolation by flood as this has been, and seldom has the Old World seen the like.

Brewer describes a great sheet of brown rippling water extending from the Coast Range to the Sierra Nevada. One-quarter of the state’s estimated 800,000 cattle drowned in the flood, marking the beginning of the end of the cattle-based ranchero society in California. One-third of the state’s property was destroyed, and one home in eight was destroyed completely or carried away by the floodwaters.

Sacramento, 100 miles up the Sacramento River from San Francisco, was (and still is) precariously located at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers. In 1861, the city was in many ways a hub: the young state’s sparkling new capital, an important commercial and agricultural center, and the terminus for stagecoaches, wagon trains, the pony express and riverboats from San Francisco. Although floods in Sacramento were not unknown to the residents, nothing could have prepared them for the series of deluges and massive flooding that engulfed the city that winter. The levees built to protect Sacramento from catastrophic floods crumbled under the force of the rising waters of the American River. In early January the floodwaters submerged the entire city under 10 feet of brown, debris-laden water. The water was so deep and dirty that no one dared to move about the city except by boat. The floodwaters caused immense destruction of property and loss of life.

California’s new Governor, Leland Stanford, was to be inaugurated on January 10, but the floodwaters swept through Sacramento that day, submerging the city. Citizens fled by any means possible, yet the inauguration ceremony took place at the capital building anyway, despite the mounting catastrophe. Governor Stanford was forced to travel from his mansion to the capital building by rowboat. Following the expedited ceremony, with floodwaters rising at a rate of one foot per hour, Stanford rowed back to his mansion, where he was forced to steer his boat to a second story window in order to enter his home. Conditions did not improve in the following weeks. California’s legislature, unable to function in the submerged city, finally gave up and moved to San Francisco on January 22, to wait out the floods.

Sacramento remained underwater for months. Brewer visited the city on March 9, three months after the flooding began, and described the scene:

Such a desolate scene I hope to never see again. Most of the city is still under water, and has been there for three months. A part is out of the water, that is, the streets are above water, but every low place is full—cellars and yards are full, houses and walls wet, everything uncomfortable. No description that I can write will give you any adequate conception of the discomfort and wretchedness this must give rise to. I took a boat and two boys, and we rowed about for an hour or two. Houses, stores, stables, everything, were surrounded by water. Yards were ponds enclosed by dilapidated, muddy, slimy fences; household furniture, chairs, tables, sofas, the fragments of houses, were floating in the muddy waters or lodged in nooks and corners. I saw three sofas floating in different yards. The basements of the better class of houses were half full of water, and through the windows, one could see chairs, tables, bedsteads, etc., afloat. Through the windows of a schoolhouse I saw the benches and desks afloat. Over most of the city boats are still the only way of getting around.

The new Capital is far out in the water—the Governor’s house stands as in a lake—churches, public buildings, private buildings, everything, are wet or in the water. Not a road leading from the city is passable, business is at a dead standstill, everything looks forlorn and wretched. Many houses have partially toppled over; some have been carried from their foundations, several streets (now avenues of water) are blocked up with houses that have floated in them, dead animals lie about here and there—a dreadful picture. I don’t think the city will ever rise from the shock, I don’t see how it can.

The death and destruction of this flood caused such trauma that the city of Sacramento embarked on a long-term project of raising the downtown district by 10 to 15 feet in the seven years after the flood. Governor Stanford also raised his mansion from two to three stories, leaving empty the ground floor, to avoid damage from any future flooding events.

Downstream of Sacramento, towns and villages throughout the eastern San Francisco Bay Area were struggling with catastrophes of their own. Twenty miles northeast of San Francisco, four feet of water covered the entire town of Napa; to the east, the small town of Rio Vista on the Sacramento River was under six feet of water. The entire population of Alamo, at the foot of Mt. Diablo 50 miles east of San Francisco, was forced to flee rising floodwaters. People abandoned their homes in the middle of the night. Some found refuge, others drowned. The San Ramon Valley was one sheet of water from hill to hill as far as the eye could see. The destructive force of the floods was awesome: houses, otherwise intact and complete with their contents, were carried away in the rapids; horses, cattle, and barns were swept downstream for miles.

The heavy rains also triggered landslides and mud slides on California’s steep hillsides. For instance, in Knights Ferry and Mokelumne Hill, nearly every building was torn from its foundation and carried off by thundering landslides, and a major landslide also occurred at the town of Volcano in the Sierra foothills, killing seven people.

The 1861-62 floods extended far beyond the borders of California. They were the worst in recorded history over much of the American West, including northern Mexico, Oregon, Washington State and into British Columbia, as well as reaching inland into Nevada, Utah and Arizona. In Nevada, a normally arid state, twice its typical annual rainfall occurred in the two-month period of December 1861 to January 1862. All this excess water transformed the Carson Valley into a large lake, inundating Nevada City with nine feet of rain in 60 days.

In southern Utah, 1861-62 became known as the “year of the floods,” as homes, barns, a fiber and molasses mill and many forts were washed away, including the adobe home of a Mormon Bishop, John D. Lee. Lee had carefully recorded the weather throughout January 1862 in his diary, noting a solid period of alternating rain and snow with strong winds for most of that month. In Oregon, two and a half weeks of solid rain caused the worst flooding in this state’s history. Deluges covered huge portions of the lower Willamette Valley where Oregon City is located. Oregon City was the terminus of the Oregon Trail, and it was the state’s capital, where George Abernathy, an Oregon pioneer and the state’s first elected governor, lived and ran a thriving business. The flood destroyed his home, forcing him (and many others) to leave. Arizona was also impacted: floods occurred in the Gila, Verde, Bright Angel and Colorado River basins between January 19 and 23, 1862, and flooding was severe in Yuma, destroying the city.

Why so many people were caught off-guard by these floods remains a mystery, but clearly these immigrants did not recognize the climatic warning signs. They had never experienced such extreme flooding in the 12 years since the Gold Rush began, although lesser floods were not uncommon. It appears that the Native American populations, who had lived in the region for thousands of years, had deeper insights to the weather and hydrology, and recognized the patterns that result in devastating floods. A piece in the Nevada City Democrat described the Native American response on January 11, 1862:

We are informed that the Indians living in the vicinity of Marysville left their abodes a week or more ago for the foothills predicting an unprecedented overflow. They told the whites that the water would be higher than it has been for thirty years, and pointed high up on the trees and houses where it would come. The valley Indians have traditions that the water occasionally rises 15 or 20 feet higher than it has been at any time since the country was settled by whites, and as they live in the open air and watch closely all the weather indications, it is not improbable that they may have better means than the whites of anticipating a great storm.

The specific weather pattern that the Native Americans of the West recognized and knew would bring particularly severe flooding is once again understood today. The powerful storms originate in the warm and moist tropical Pacific Ocean. Recent research describes these storms more broadly as “atmospheric rivers,” and they often result in the worst floods in not only the American West, but across the globe.

The tragic 1861-62 floods may have temporarily served to wake-up the residents of California and the West to the possible perils of their region’s weather They saw nature at its most unpredictable and terrifying, turning in a day or an hour from benign to utterly destructive. But the costs to the state went beyond the loss of life, property and resources: California’s spirit and confidence was badly shaken.

The lessons of the 1861-62 floods should provide the impetus for flood disaster planning efforts in a region where housing developments and cities are spreading across many floodplains. A critical element of living in a place like California is an awareness of these natural disasters, which requires a deep understanding of the natural patterns and frequencies of these events. Today we have building codes for earthquake safety, but millions of new westerners are not aware of the region’s calamitous climate history. Most have never even heard of the 1861–62 floods, and those may not have been the worst that nature can regularly dish out to the region. In a forthcoming book I co-wrote with Frances Malamud-Roam, THE WEST WITHOUT WATER: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow (University of California Press, Spring 2013) we present evidence for similar if not larger floods that have occurred every one to two centuries over the past two millennia in California, as well as nature’s flip-side: deep and prolonged droughts.

 

Crews ramp up effort to rescue live victims of California mudslide

January 13, 2018

by Paula Lehman-Ewing

Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A massive influx of search and rescue crews scoured parts of California’s Santa Barbara County on Saturday for seven people still missing following mudslides that killed at least 18.

An additional 900 emergency personnel arrived in Montecito, north of Los Angeles, to join the relief effort underway by more than 2,100 personnel from local, state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy and the American Red Cross.

“They are hopeful that we will still recover live victims out there,” said Amber Anderson, public information officer for the multi-agency response team.

The ramped-up rescue effort is in response to urgent requests for additional manpower made earlier in the week.“We need that number to effectively meet our objectives,” Anderson said. “To get people here takes time and we’re finally getting that request for influx.”

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office made a plea for information on any of the missing residents, while acknowledging that finding anyone alive would be a “miracle.”

“The missing persons were reported by family and friends, and resided in areas that were heavily damaged during the storm and subsequent mudslides,” the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office listed the names of the missing, who range in age from two to 62, in a statement on Friday night.

The disaster struck on Tuesday after heavy rains soaked the area near Montecito, where vegetation had been denuded by the largest wildfire in California’s history.

Sodden hillsides gave way, unleashing a torrent of mud, water, uprooted trees and boulders onto the valley below and causing what the police described as “traumatic injuries” to the victims, who ranged in age from 3 to 89.

One of California’s most celebrated roads, coastal Highway 101, was partially closed, with mud that was two feet deep in places, while in Montecito, mud reached the roof lines of houses, as residents surveyed their damaged homes.

“We have a yard to redo and hopefully our insurance will help out with that, but the people across from me, newer homes, gone,” Garrett Speirs, a 54-year-old artist who has been living in Montecito for 20 years, said.

“Everybody down below gone, two girls gone … Two sixth-graders in the school our kids went to,” Speirs added.

Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Montecito, California, Keith Coffman in Denver, Chris Kenning in Chicago, Gina Cherelus and Peter Szekely in New York and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by Scott Malone and Jon Herskovitz; editing by Alexander Smith and Diane Craft

 

The urban animal: population density and social pathology in rodents and humans

February 2009

by Edmund Ramsden

World Health Organization

In a 1962 edition of Scientific American, the ecologist John B Calhoun presented the results of a macabre series of experiments conducted at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).1 He had placed several rats in a laboratory in a converted barn where – protected from disease and predation and supplied with food, water and bedding – they bred rapidly. The one thing they were lacking was space, a fact that became increasingly problematic as what he liked to describe as his “rat city” and “rodent utopia” teemed with animals. Unwanted social contact occurred with increasing frequency, leading to increased stress and aggression. Following the work of the physiologist, Hans Selye, it seemed that the adrenal system offered the standard binary solution: fight or flight.2 But in the sealed enclosure, flight was impossible. Violence quickly spiralled out of control. Cannibalism and infanticide followed. Males became hypersexual, pansexual and, an increasing proportion, homosexual. Calhoun called this vortex “a behavioural sink”. Their numbers fell into terminal decline and the population tailed off to extinction. At the experiments’ end, the only animals still alive had survived at an immense psychological cost: asexual and utterly withdrawn, they clustered in a vacant huddled mass. Even when reintroduced to normal rodent communities, these “socially autistic” animals remained isolated until death. In the words of one of Calhoun’s collaborators, rodent “utopia” had descended into “hell”.3

Calhoun’s experiments with rats and mice proved extremely influential. His findings resonated with a variety of concerns, including population growth, environmental degradation and urban violence. In the course of a project on the history of stress, Jon Adams of the London School of Economics and I have traced how evidence of crowding pathology, generated in the rodent laboratories of NIMH, travelled to an alternative setting: the buildings, institutions and cities of the social scientist, city planner, architect and medical specialist. While urban sociologists and social psychiatrists explored correlations between density and pathologies in their statistical studies, environmental psychologists moved to the laboratory and fields such as the prison, the school and the hospital. Social and medical scientists were attracted to the possibility of providing evidence of how a physical and measurable variable – density – had important consequences demanding policy response. Many had already begun using Calhoun’s rats to support family planning programmes or for improving the physical design of the city.4

However, results from human studies of crowding proved inconsistent. In an influential series of experiments by the psychologist Jonathan Freedman, individuals employed to carry out tasks under varying conditions of density displayed few pathologies.5 Focus now shifted away from simply identifying the pathological consequences of density and towards factors that mediated its effects. This was aided by a distinction between “density” as a physical measure and “crowding” as a subjective response.6 Feeling crowded was determined by a range of social and psychological factors: an individual’s desired level of privacy, their ability to control a situation or their social role. Increased density might be inevitable but human beings were capable of coping with crowding.

Yet this did not mean that Calhoun’s research was rejected. Researchers recognized that Calhoun’s work was not simply about density in a physical sense, as number of individuals-per-square-unit-area, but was about degrees of social interaction. By reducing unwanted interaction through improved design of space – providing prisoners with individual cells or patients with independent living areas – crowding stress could be avoided.7 This had been the focus of Calhoun’s later research. Through improved design and increased control, Calhoun attempted to develop more collaborative and adaptable rodent communities capable of withstanding greater degrees of density.8

Continued problems of prison overcrowding and transport congestion ensure that the subject of crowding stress remains pertinent, but the relevance of Calhoun’s experiments is less commonly acknowledged. Towards the end of his career, Calhoun, who died in 1995, would be increasingly dismayed that it was a simplified, negative message – population density equals pathology – that was more commonly associated with his work, making his contribution seem not only flawed in the human context, but dangerous. In the words of the sociologists Fischer & Baldassare: “A red-eyed, sharp-fanged obsession about urban life stalks contemporary thought.”9 In focusing upon crowding, not only were the benefits of dense city-living ignored, but other causes of urban pathology, such as poverty and inequality, were neglected. Yet Calhoun’s work considered many of these factors, suggested how they could be overcome, and as such, his role deserves reconsideration. ■

 

 

Ballistic missile warning sent in error by Hawaii authorities

January 13, 2018

by Jolyn Rosa

Reuters

HONOLULU (Reuters) – An emergency alert was sent mistakenly on Saturday to Hawaii’s residents warning of an imminent ballistic missile attack when an employee at the state emergency management agency pushed the “wrong button,” Hawaii’s governor said.

State officials and the U.S. military’s Pacific Command confirmed that there was no actual threat to the state. But for more than a half hour, before the agency retracted the warning, panicked Hawaiians scrambled to find shelter.

The mistaken alert stated: “EMERGENCY ALERT BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.”

Governor David Ige, who apologized for the mistake, said in televised remarks that the alert was sent during a employee shift change at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. Vern Miyagi, the agency’s administrator, called it “human error.”

“It was a procedure that occurs at the change of shift where they go through to make sure that the system, that it’s working. And an employee pushed the wrong button,” the Democratic governor said, adding that such shift changes occur three times a day every day of the year.

The alert, sent to mobile phones and aired on television and radio shortly after 8 a.m., was issued amid high international tensions over North Korea’s development of ballistic nuclear weapons.

“I was awakened by the alert like everyone else here in the state of Hawaii. It was unfortunate and regrettable. We will be looking at how we can improve the procedures so it doesn’t happen again,” Ige added.

Miyagi said, “It was an inadvertent mistake. The change of shift is about three people. That should have been caught. … It should not have happened.”

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which has jurisdiction over the emergency alert system, announced it was initiating a full investigation. Earlier this week, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said the agency would vote at its January meeting to enhance the effectiveness of wireless emergency alerts, which have been in place since 2012.

Stacey Bow, 56, of Honolulu, said she was awakened to the emergency alert on her smart phone. She awakened her 16-year-old daughter with the news. “She became hysterical, crying, you know, just lost it,” she said.

Bow said of the person responsible for issuing the alert, “I imagine that person is clearing out their desk right now. You don’t get a do-over for something like that.”

CHECK LIST

Miyagi said there was a “check list” that should have been followed. He said, “I think we have the process in place. It’s a matter of executing the process.” He added, “This will not happen again.”

Hawaii, a chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean, has a population of about 1.4 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and is home to Pacific Command, the Navy’s Pacific Fleet and other elements of the American military.

In November, Hawaii said it would resume monthly statewide testing of Cold War-era nuclear attack warning sirens for the first time in at least a quarter of a century, in preparation for a possible missile strike from North Korea.

North Korean President Kim Jong-un has threatened to unleash his country’s growing missile weapon capability against the U.S. territory of Guam or U.S. states, prompting President Donald Trump to threaten tough action against Pyongyang, including “fire and fury.”

Trump was wrapping up a round of golf at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida when the incident was unfolding. White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said Trump was briefed and that it “was purely a state exercise.”

Michael Sterling, 56, of Los Angeles, was in Waikiki when he received the alert.

“I was thinking what could we do? There is nothing we can do with a missile,” Sterling said.

School administrator Tamara Kong, 43, of Honolulu, said, “Today, the whole state of Hawaii experienced a collective moment of panic and relief.”

 

 

 

Chelsea Manning files to run as Democrat for US Senate in Maryland

  • Federal election documents confirm Manning’s intention to run in November
  • Manning jailed in 2010 for passing files to WikiLeaks and was freed last year

January 13, 2018

by Martin Pengelly

The Guardian

Chelsea Manning, the former US army private who was imprisoned for passing information to WikiLeaks, has filed to run for a seat in the US Senate.

A federal election filing, made on Thursday, confirmed Manning’s intention to run in the November elections as a Democrat.

That would range her against Ben Cardin, the senior senator from Maryland who has served since 2007. The senior Democrat on the Senate foreign affairs committee, Cardin has emerged as a key party voice on investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

In 2012, Cardin faced a primary challenge from an African American state senator and seven other candidates. Cardin won 74% of the vote.

A representative for Manning did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Manning, now 30, was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in jail, for her part in the 2010 leak of more than 700,000 documents and videos to news outlets including the Guardian and the New York Times.

Her sentence was commuted by President Obama, shortly before the end of his second term in office. Manning was released from Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas in May 2017, having spent seven years in custody.

Manning, who was formerly known as Bradley and who attempted suicide while in prison, is now a writer and activist who has been a columnist for the Guardian.

Donald Trump has criticised Manning. In January 2017, responding to the commutation of her sentence, he tweeted: “Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!”

 

 

Trump’s Failed Coup in Iran

January 6, 2018

by Eric Margolis

The Unz Review

Listen to the state-‘guided’ US media this past week and you’d believe a series of spontaneous anti-government protests broke out across Iran. The protests, according to President Donald Trump and his Israeli allies, were caused by `anger over Iran’s spending billions on wars in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon and helping the Palestinian movement Hamas.’ Trump tweeted that Iranians were finally rising up against what he called their hated, brutal regime.

Talk about manufactured news. Most Iranians were elated and proud of their nation’s role in thwarting US plans to occupy much of Syria and overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. By contrast, the other side in this long proxy war – the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Britain – was smarting with defeat and seeking ways to exact revenge on the hateful trio, Syria, Iran and Russia.

Interestingly, the so-called news of protests over Iran’s military spending did not apparently originate in Iran but rather in Washington which spread it far and wide to our state-guided media. This was clumsy, but the US and Israel were so eager to get this piece of made-up good news out that they forget the basics of propaganda management: wait for the event before you proclaim it.

What in fact was going on in Iran where more than 21 demonstrators have died violent deaths? As a very long-time Iran watcher allow me to explain.

Restive minority groups in Iran’s Kurdish, Azeri and Sunni Arab regions, most far from the big cities, have been demonstrating and protesting severe economic problems. Iran is a big, resource-rich nation of 80 million people that should be booming. But it has been under economic siege warfare by the US and its allies ever since a popular uprising in 1979 overthrew the US-British backed monarchy that was raping the nation and keeping it a vassal of the western powers.

Iran’s new Islamic Republic was deemed a dire threat to Western and Israeli strategic and military interests (think Saudi Arabia). The very idea that the Islamic Republic would follow the tenets of Islam and share oil wealth with the needy was anathema to London and Washington. Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, ran Iran’s dreaded, brutal secret police, Savak. The crooked royal family looted the nation and stored their swag in California.

The West’s first act was to induce Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to invade Iran, in Sept 1980. The West (including the Gulf Arabs) armed, financed and supplied Iraq. As I discovered in Baghdad, Britain and the US supplied Iraq with poison gas and germ warfare toxins. After eight years, 250,000 Iraqis were killed and nearly one million Iranians died.

Ever since the Islamic Revolution, the US, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs have been trying to overthrow the Tehran government and mount a counter-revolution. CIA and Britain’s MI6 has ample practice: in 1953, the CIA and MI6 mounted an elaborate operation to overthrow Iran’s democratically-elected leader, Mohammed Mossadegh who sought to nationalize Iran’s British-owned oil company. Mobs of specially trained anti-Mossadegh plotters poured into Tehran’s streets. Bombs went off. Army commanders were suborned, lavish bribes handed out.

The 1953 coup went perfectly. Mossadegh was ousted with backing from the Army and Savak. Iran’s oil remained safe in western hands. The successful Iran uprising became the template for future ‘color revolutions’ in Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Russia, Poland, and Romania.

But in 2009 a US-engineered ‘color revolution’ in Iran went badly wrong even though it used all the latest arts of social media to whip up protestors and deploy them in the streets. Something similar happened in Iran this past weekend where mobs of 20-somethings, agitated by US and British covert social media, poured into the streets of dingy provincial towns.

As of now, this medium-sized uprising in Iran looks to be over, though it could re-ignite at any time. Young Iranians, at least 40% of the population, suffer due to 50% unemployment. Iran’s $1 trillion economy is extremely fragile and in some cases barely functioning after decades of US-engineered economic warfare and boycotts. High unemployment is a result of US economic warfare and bullying other nations not to do business with Iran, producing 13% overall unemployment and a 40% inflation rate. The latter and wide-scale corruption were the spark that ignited the latest riots.

In two more weeks, President Trump, who makes no secret of his hatred and contempt for Muslims, must decide whether to reaffirm the multilateral nuclear energy deal with Iran or heed Israel’s demands and refuse to certify it. His cutoff this week of US military aid to Muslim Pakistan bodes ill for Iran.

Many Iranians observing the current US-North Korea nuclear standoff will wonder if their nation was not better off continuing its nuclear program and holding the Saudi oil fields at risk to deter a US attack. Trump’s wild, inconsistent and often infantile responses on this issue are making matters murkier…and ever more dangerous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • SECRETARY’S FOREWORD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The Arctic is at a strategic inflection point as its ice cap is diminishing more rapidly than projected2 and human activity, driven by economic opportunity—ranging from oil, gas, and mineral exploration to fishing, shipping, and tourism—is increasing in response to the growing accessibility. Arctic and non-Arctic nations are establishing their strategies and positions on the future of the Arctic in a variety of international forums. Taken together, these changes present a compelling opportunity for the Department of Defense (DoD) to work collaboratively with allies and partners to promote a balanced approach to improving human and environmental security in the region in accordance with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region.3

Security in the Arctic encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, ranging from resource extraction and trade to activities supporting safe commercial and scientific operations to national defense. Security cooperation activities and other military-to-military forms of engagement establish, shape, and maintain international relations and the partnerships necessary to meet security challenges and reduce the potential for friction. The Department will continue to build cooperative strategic partnerships that promote innovative, affordable security solutions, and burden-sharing in theArctic, and seek to increase opportunities with Arctic partners to enhance regional expertise andcold-weather operational experience.

The Department will continue to train and operate routinely in the region4 as it monitors the changing environment, revisiting assessments and taking appropriate action as conditions change.

This strategy identifies the Department’s desired end-state for the Arctic: a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges. It also articulates two main supporting objectives: Ensure security, support safety, and promote defense cooperation, and prepare to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies—operating in conjunction with other nations when possible, and independently if necessary—in order to maintain stability in the region. Finally, it identifies the ways and means the Department intends to use to achieve these objectives as it implements the National  Strategy for the Arctic Region.

1The DoD strategy uses a broad definition of the Arctic, codified in 15 U.S.C. 4111, that includes all U.S. and foreign territory north of the Arctic Circle and all U.S. territory north and west of the boundary formed by the Porcupine, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers; all contiguous seas, including the Arctic Ocean and the Beaufort, Bering, and Chukchi Seas, and the Aleutian islands chain.

2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists in J.E. Overland and M. Wang (2013), When will the summer Arctic be nearly sea ice free?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 40 doi:10.1002/grl.50316.

3This strategy is nested under National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 66 / Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 25, Arctic Region Policy, the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region, and the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. It complements DoD’s Strategy for Homeland Defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (HD&DSCA).

4For additional information on the Navy’s historic involvement in the Arctic, see The Impact of Climate Change on Naval Operations in the Arctic (Center for Naval Analysis, 2009).

  1. U.S. INTERESTS IN THE ARCTIC

U.S. national security interests in the Arctic are delineated in National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) 66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 25, Arctic Region Policy. 5 This policy states that national security interests include such matters as missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security operations; and ensuring freedom of the seas. Preserving freedom of the seas, which includes all of the rights, freedoms, and uses of the seas and adjacent airspace, including freedom of navigation and overflight, in the Arctic supports the nation’s ability to exercise these rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace throughout the world, including through strategic straits.

The 2013 National Strategy on the Arctic Region frames the whole-of-government approach that provides the overarching context for the Department’s efforts. It lays out three main lines of effort in the Arctic: advance U.S. security interests; pursue responsible Arctic region stewardship; and strengthen international cooperation. The goal of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region is “an Arctic region that is stable and free of conflict, where nations act responsibly in a spirit of trust and cooperation, and where economic and energy resources are developed in a sustainable manner that also respects the fragile environment and the interests and cultures of indigenous peoples.”

The DoD Arctic Strategy outlines how the Department will support the whole-of-government effort to promote security, stewardship, and international cooperation in the Arctic. The Department’s strategic approach to the Arctic reflects the relatively low level of military threat in a region bounded by nation States that have not only publicly committed to working within a common framework of international law and diplomatic engagement,6 but have also demonstrated the ability and commitment to do so. In consideration of enduring national interests in the Arctic and existing strategic guidance, the Department’s end-state for its strategic approach to the Arctic is: a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges.

5 The January 2009 National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD)-66, dual-titled as Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)-25, or NSPD-66/HSPD-25, established the policy of the United States with respect to the Arctic and outlined national security and homeland security interests in the region. Homeland security interests include preventing terrorist attacks and mitigating those criminal or hostile acts that could increase the United States’ vulnerability to terrorism in the Arctic. The Department has a role to play in responding not only to traditional (e.g., military) threats, but also to a range of other potential national security challenges (e.g., smuggling, criminal trafficking, and terrorism as the lead agency or in support of other government agencies6In the Ilulissat Declaration (May 28, 2008), all five Arctic Ocean coastal States (United States, Russian Federation, Canada, Norway, and Denmark on behalf of Greenland) committed themselves to the orderly settlement of overlapping territorial claims through the established framework of the international law as reflected in the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC). The Declaration affirmedthat the legal framework provided by the LOSC is sufficient for the management of the Arctic Ocean and that there is no need to develop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern this Ocean.

6 In the Ilulissat Declaration (May 28, 2008), all five Arctic Ocean coastal States (United States, Russian Federation, Canada, Norway,and Denmark on behalf of Greenland) committed themselves to the orderly settlement of overlapping territorial claims through theestablished framework of the international law as reflected in the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC). The Declaration affirmedthat the legal framework provided by the LOSC is sufficient for the management of the Arctic Ocean and that there is no need todevelop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern this Ocean.

  1. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SUPPORTING OBJECTIVES

The Department’s two supporting objectives describe what is to be accomplished to achieve its desired end-state. These objectives are bounded by policy guidance, the changing nature of the strategic and physical environment, and the capabilities and limitations of the available instruments of national power (diplomatic, informational, military, and economic). Actions taken to achieve these objectives will be informed by the Department’s global priorities and fiscal constraints. In order to achieve its strategic endstate, the Department’s supporting objectives are:

Ensure security, support safety, and promote defense cooperation .7

– Relationships with allies and partners are important enablers of cooperation in meeting security and defense commitments. These relationships also play an important role in conflict prevention, and, if prevention and deterrence fail, in coordinating an international response to security and defense challenges. Although the Department of State is the lead for regional diplomacy, DoD has a supporting role enhancing the region’s capability and capacity for multilateral security collaboration, and responding to requests for assistance from interagency and international partners both within and outside the Arctic. This collaborative approach helps prevent conflict and provides the stability needed to facilitate the sustainable economic development envisioned in the National Strategy for the Arctic Region. The Department of Defense will seek out areas of mutual interest to build strategic relationships and encourage operational-level partnerships that promote innovative, affordable security solutions and enhance burdensharing in the Arctic. Science and technology (S&T) can provide non-contentious opportunities for cooperation, and DoD will coordinate research initiatives with the

Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC).

The Department has an important role supporting other Federal departments and agencies in safety-related missions in Alaska and in responding to requests from civil authorities to support them with disaster relief or humanitarian assistance at home or abroad. Although the Department has seldom been tasked to execute these missions in the Arctic, it may be asked to do more in the coming decades.

Prepare for a wide range of challenges and contingencies—operating in conjunction with other States when possible and independently if necessary—in order to maintain stability in the region.

– Future challenges in the Arctic may span the full range of national security interests.

These challenges and contingencies may take many forms, ranging from the need to support other Federal departments and agencies—or another nation—in responding to a natural or man-made disaster to responding to security concerns that may emerge in the

future.

7 Per the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region, U.S. security in the Arctic encompasses a broad spectrum of activities, including national defense.

III. STRATEGIC APPROACH

The Department will pursue comprehensive engagement with allies and partners to protect the homeland and support civil authorities in preparing for increased human activity in the Arctic. Strategic partnerships are the center of gravity in ensuring a peaceful opening of the Arctic and achieving the Department’s desired end-state. Where possible, DoD will seek innovative, low-cost, smallfootprint approaches to achieve these objectives (e.g., by participating in multilateral exercises like the Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) hosted by Greenland, COLDRESPONSE hosted by Norway, and Canada’s Operation NANOOK, or through Defense Environmental International Cooperation Program-supported engagements on Arctic issues). The Department will also evolve its infrastructure and capabilities in step with the changing physical environment in order to ensure security, support safety, promote defense cooperation, and prepare to respond to a wide range of challenges and contingencies in the Arctic in the coming decades. The Department will accomplish its objectives through the following ways:

 

Exercise sovereignty and protect the homeland;

Engage public and private sector partners to improve domain awareness in the Arctic;

Preserve freedom of the seas in the Arctic;

Evolve Arctic infrastructure and capabilities consistent with changing conditions;

Support existing agreements with allies and partners while pursuing new ones to build confidence with key regional partners;

Provide support to civil authorities, as directed;

Partner with other departments and agencies and nations to support human and environmental safety; and

Support the development of the Arctic Council and otherinternational institutions that promote regional cooperation and the rule of law.

The Department will apply the four guiding principles from the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region as it pursues these eight ways.9 This means DoD will work with allies, partners, and other interested parties to safeguard peace and stability. It will make decisions using the best available scientific information, and will pursue innovative arrangements as it develops the capability and capacity needed in the Arctic over time. It will also follow established Federal tribal consultation policy. These four principles will underpin all of the Department’s activities as it implements this strategy through the means described in this section.

8 The Arctic Council’s charter states, “The Arctic Council should not deal with matters related to military security.” It could be argued that search and rescue is a (human) security interest, and oil spill response is an (environmental) security interest; thus, the Council has a demonstrated ability to address a range of “soft security” issues.

Protect the Homeland and Exercise Sovereignty

From the U.S. perspective, greater access afforded by the decreasing seasonal ice increases the Arctic’s viability as an avenue of approach to North America for those with hostile intent toward the U.S. homeland, and the Department will remain prepared to detect, deter, prevent, and defeat  threats to the homeland. Additionally, DoD will continue to support the exercise of U.S. sovereignty. In the near-term10, this will require some ability to operate in the Arctic, which the Department will maintain and enhance by continuing to conduct exercises and training in the region. In the mid- to far-term, this may require developing further capabilities and capacity to protect U.S. air, land, and maritime borders in the Arctic in accordance with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region. As directed by the 2011 Unified Command Plan, Commander, U.S. Northern Command (CDRUSNORTHCOM) is responsible for advocating for Arctic capabilities. In execution of this responsibility, CDRUSNORTHCOM will collaborate with relevant Combatant Commands, the Joint Staff, the Military Departments and ServicesServices, and the Defense agencies to identify and prioritize emerging Arctic capability gaps and requirements. These efforts will be informed by the most authoritative scientific information on future Arctic conditions. For purposes of mission and infrastructure vulnerability assessments and adaptation to climate change, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (OUSD(AT&L)) will identify projections of future conditions to be used. The Department of Defense will collaborate with theDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) to ensure efficient use of resources to avoid duplication of effort in research, development, experimentation, testing, and acquisition. Forums such as the DoD-DHS Capabilities Development Working Group are among the means to facilitate this cooperation.

Engage public and private sector partners to improve all domain awareness in the Arctic.

Although NSPD-66/HSPD-25 focuses on maritime domain awareness, the Department has responsibilities for awareness across all domains: air, land, maritime, space, and cyberspace. Adequate domain awareness is an essential component of protecting maritime commerce, critical infrastructure, and key resources. In the near-term, the Department will work through the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to maintain air tracking capabilities in the Arctic. As the maritime domain becomes increasingly accessible, the Department will seek to improve its maritime detection and tracking in coordination with DHS and other departments and agencies as well as through public/private partnerships. The Department of the Navy, in its role as DoD Executive Agent for Maritime Domain Awareness, will lead DoD coordination on maritime detection and tracking. Where possible, DoD will also collaborate with international partners to employ, acquire, share, or develop the means required to improve sensing, data collection and fusion, analysis, and information-sharing to enhance domain awareness appropriately in the Arctic. Monitoring regional activity and analyzing emerging trends are key to informing future investments in Arctic capabilities and ensuring they keep pace with increasing human activity in the region over time.

9 Many of DoD’s ways align with what the National Strategy for the Arctic Region terms supporting objectives to its three lines of effort, but DoD’s strategy follows the classical “ways-ends-means” construction.

10 This strategy identifies three timeframes to be used for implementation planning: the near-term (present day-2020); mid-term (2020-2030); and far-term (beyond 2030). These timeframes are approximate due to uncertainty in climate change projections.

In the near- to mid-term, the primary means of improving domain awareness will be continued use of innovative, low-cost solutions for polar Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) needs as well as enhanced international collaboration. DoD will take steps to work with other Federal departments and agencies to improve nautical charts, enhance relevant atmospheric and oceanic models, improve accuracy of estimates of ice extent and thickness, and detect and monitor climate change indicators. In particular, the Department of the Navy will work in partnership with other Federal departments and agencies (e.g., DHS, the Department of Commerce) and international partners to improve hydrographic charting and oceanographic surveys in the Arctic.

The Department will continue to collaborate with other Federal departments and agencies and the State of Alaska to monitor and assess changes in the physical environment to inform the development of Arctic requirements and future capabilities. To that end, the Department will leverage work done by the scientific and academic communities and seek opportunities to contribute to the observation and modeling of the atmosphere, ocean, and sea ice conditions, including acoustics conditions, to enhance military environmental forecasting capabilities. These collaborations will help inform the development and design of future ice-strengthened ship designs, when required.

Preserve freedom of the seas in the Arctic.

The United States has a national interest in preserving all of the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace recognized under international law. The Department will preserve the global mobility of United States military and civilian vessels and aircraft throughout the Arctic,11 including through the exercise of the Freedom of Navigation program to challenge excessive maritime claims asserted by other Arctic States when necessary. The Department will continue to support U.S. accession to the United Nations Convention on the Lawof the Sea (hereafter referred to as the Law of the Sea Convention (LOSC)) because it codifies the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace the Department seeks to preserve; provides a means for the peaceful resolution of disputes; and ensures international recognition of resources rights on the extended continental shelf.

Evolve Arctic infrastructure and capabilities consistent with changing conditions.

The Department will periodically re-evaluate requirements necessary to meet

national security objectives as conditions change and the Combatant Commandersidentify operational requirements for the Arctic in updates to their regional plans.Once operational requirements are defined, solutions for associated supporting infrastructure requirements should seek to leverage existing U.S. Government, commercial, and international facilities to the maximum extent possible in order to mitigate the high cost and extended timelines associated with the development of Arctic infrastructure. If no existing infrastructure is capable of sufficiently supporting the requirement, modifications to existing bases, such as the addition of a new hangar, will be made as part of the military construction or facilities sustainment, restoration, and modernization processes.

Uphold existing agreements with allies and partners while building confidence with key regional partners.

Security cooperation activities and other military-to-military forms of engagement establish, shape, and maintain international relations and the partnerships necessary to meet security challenges and reduce the potential for friction. The 2012 and 2013 Northern Chiefs of Defense (CHoDs) meetings and the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable workshops and meetings are examples of means for promoting information-sharing and partnership-building necessary to develop cooperative approaches to common challenges. Therefore, in cooperation with the Department of State, DHS (in particular, the U.S. Coast Guard), and other relevant agencies, the Department will continue to build cooperative strategic partnerships that promote innovative, affordable security solutions and burden-sharing in the Arctic. It will also seek to increase bilateral exchanges, including in science and technology, and take advantage of multilateral training opportunities with Arctic partners to enhance regional expertise and cold-weather operational experience.

Provide Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) in Alaska and provide Foreign Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Disaster Relief (FHA/FDR) in other non-U.S. territorial areas of the Arctic.

When directed by the appropriate authority, the Department will be prepared to support civil authorities in response to natural or manmade disasters, or to conduct FHA/FDR operations in cooperation with allies and partners. Partner with other agencies and nations to support human and environmental safety.

Some of the near-term safety-related challenges include meeting international search and rescue obligations and responding to incidents such as oil spills in ice-covered waters, as reflected in the recently concluded Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic and Agreement on Cooperation on

Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic. The Department will leverage existing capabilities to respond to requests for support from civil authorities in coordination with other departments and agencies and nations. Where appropriate, the Department will support other departments and agencies in maintaining human health; promoting healthy, sustainable, and resilient ecosystems; and consulting and coordinating with Alaska Natives on policy and activities affecting them. Finally, the Department will continue to integrate environmental considerations into its planning and operations and to contribute to whole-of-government approaches in support of the second line of effort in the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region

Support the development of the Arctic Council and other international institutions to promote regional cooperation and the rule of law.

The Department recognizes the value of the Arctic Council in efforts to understand the changing Arctic environment and developingcooperative approaches to regional challenges, and supports the Department of State in thecontinued development of the Council. Although the Department of State is the lead fordiplomacy, DoD has a role to play in enhancing the region’s multilateral security cooperationenvironment. Accordingly, DoD will work with allies and partners within the framework ofinternational institutions, ranging from the Arctic Council to the International MaritimeOrganization (IMO), to maintain stability and promote cooperation.

11As expressed by Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), Commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), and Commander, USNORTHCOM, in a May 2008 memorandum, the United States needs assured access to support U.S. national interests in the Arctic. Although this imperative could be met by regular U.S. Government ships in open water up to the marginal ice zone, only ice-capable ships provide assured sovereign presence throughout the region and throughout the year. Assured access in areas of pack ice could also be met by other means, including submarines and aircraft.

  1. CHALLENGES & RISKS TO THE STRATEGIC APPROACH

.This strategy furthers defense objectives while positioning the United States to take advantage of opportunities in the Arctic during the coming decades in accordance with the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region. It also addresses some of the risks inherent in the trade-offs and tensions among U.S. interests and objectives, including:

Projections about future access to and activity in the Arctic may be inaccurate.

Significant uncertainty remains about the rate and extent of the effects of climate change, including climate variability, in the Arctic. There is also uncertainty about future economic conditions, and the pace at which human activity will increase in the region. The challenge is to balance the risk of having inadequate capabilities or insufficient capacity when required to operate in the region with the opportunity cost of making premature and/or unnecessary investments. Premature investment may reduce the availability of resources for other pressing priorities, particularly in a time of fiscal austerity.

Fiscal constraints may delay or deny needed investment in Arctic capabilities, and may curtail Arctic trainingand operations.

As the Department downsizes to meet budgetary targets, it will have to prioritize engagements for the resulting smaller force. There is also a risk that desired investments in Arctic capabilities may not compete successfully against other requirements in the Department’s budgetary priorities. Where possible, DoD will mitigate this risk by

developing innovative ways to employ existing capabilities in coordination with otherdepartments and agencies and international partners, and by enhancing scientific, research, and development partnerships. CDRUSNORTHCOM plays a key role in mitigating this risk as the Arctic capability advocate within the Department’s planning and programming

activities. Commander, U.S. European Command (CDRUSEUCOM) and Commander, U.S.

Pacific Command (CDRUSPACOM) also play a role by fostering collaborative working

relationships with regional partners.

Political rhetoric and press reporting about boundary disputes and competition for resources may inflame regional tensions.

Efforts to manage disagreements diplomatically may be hindered if the public narrative becomes one of rivalry and conflict. The Department will mitigate this risk by ensuring its plans, actions, and words are coordinated, and when appropriate, by engaging the press to counter unhelpful narratives with facts. The Under Secretary of Defense for Policy will monitor DoD activities, programs, and posture in the region to ensure the Department is sending a clear message to key audiences regarding the Department’s efforts to promote security, safety, and defense cooperation.

Being too aggressive in taking steps to address anticipated future security risks may create the conditions of mistrust and miscommunication under which such risks could materialize.

There is some risk that the perception that the Arctic is being militarized may lead to an “arms race” mentality that could lead to a breakdown of existing cooperative approaches to shared challenges. The Department will mitigate this risk by focusing on collaborative security approaches as outlined in the 2013 National Strategy for the Arctic Region, and by supporting other Federal departments and agencies where they have leadership roles. Building trust through transparency about the intent of our military activities and participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises and other engagements that facilitate information-sharing will be a key means of addressing this risk.

  1. CONCLUSION

The Department will work collaboratively with allies and partners through the ways and means outlined in this strategy to support the development of the Arctic as a secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected, and nations work cooperatively to address challenges. Priority will be given to addressing key near-term challenges primarily in key enablers, including: shortfalls in ice and weather reporting and forecasting; limitations in C4ISR due to lack of assets and harsh environmental conditions; and limited domain awareness. The key will be to address needs over time as activity in the Arctic increases, while balancing potential Arctic investments with other national priorities. This approach will help the United States achieve its objectives as outlined in the National Strategy for the Arctic Region while mitigating risks and overcoming challenges presented by the growing geostrategic importance of the Arctic.

 

 

 

 

 

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TBR News January 12, 2018

Jan 12 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 12, 2018:”Given his recent performances, one can only wonder what Trump will do, or say, next.

Call the Pope a faggot and lose the Catholic vote?

It wouldn’t make any difference if Trump used the ‘nigger’ word because he and the Republicans have lost that vote some time ago.

Why not sponsor a bill to kill all the pet dogs in America?

Or perhaps encourage more Americans to drive on the left side of the road if they feel that want to.

Or better, suggest that anyone caught with more that two marijuana seeds be executed in public by being burnt at the stake.

All of these idea have no doubt crossed his mind but now we can see the real reason he cancelled his trip to London; no one wants him there and the Queen has categorically refused to see him.

Their good fortune is our loss.”

 

Table of Contents

  • Secrecy News
  • Donald Trump claims US sold Norway ‘F-52’ aircraft that doesn’t exist
  • U.S. ambassador to Panama resigns, says cannot serve Trump
  • Why federal cannabis crackdown may be a blessing in disguise for legal weed
  • Trump pans immigration proposal as bringing people from ‘shithole countries’
  • Democratic U.S. senator: Trump called African countries ‘shitholes’ in meeting
  • ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ – Norwegians reject Trump’s immigration offer
  • The Same Democrats Who Denounce Donald Trump as a Lawless, Treasonous Authoritarian Just Voted to Give Him Vast Warrantless Spying Powers
  • Political risk looms over Republicans’ welfare tinkering
  • Kentucky becomes first U.S. state to implement Medicaid work requirements
  • SPLC statement on President Trump’s effort to undermine Medicaid
  • Debunked: Trump reasons for cancelling London visit  
  • New security flaw detected in Intel hardware
  • Ski resorts cling on against climate change

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TBR News January 11, 2018

Jan 11 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 11, 2018:”The Wolff book on the inner workings of the Trump administration is relatively light-weight but Washington contacts who know what is going on say it is reasonably accurate in depicting the utter chaos in the White House.

The book is becoming a best seller, thanks to Trump’s fury and his subsequent bluster and no doubt he will want the author immediately arrested and executed.

I have read the book and for ambience and understanding it is well worth reading.”

 

Table of Contents

  • California in revolt: how the progressive state plans to foil the Trump agenda
  • Vermont to become 1st state to legalize marijuana via legislature
  • Dems to Sessions: ‘You can pry legal pot from our warm, interesting-to-look- at hands’
  • Steve Bannon’s demise is not the end of Trumpism
  • Beyond the gossip, Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury reveals a president in crisis
  • Korea: Peace Breaks Out
  • Air Raids and Missile Attacks Show Israel Flexing Its Muscles in Syria
  • Armed Federal Agents Enter Warehouse in Puerto Rico to Seize Hoarded Electric Equipment

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TBR News January 10, 2018

Jan 10 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 10, 2018:”The behavior of President Trump is causing serious lesions in the American political fabric and this is becoming more and more evident daily. Trump loves to pontificate, to point, to stir up controversy…and then totally reverse himself later. The olicarchis that run this country find him to be unreliable and there is talk inside, and outside, of the Beltway, about removing him before his term is up. At present, the talk is about supporting Democrats seeking Congressional office and when, not if, the Democrats get a majority in both houses, to impeach the President. There is more than enough concrete evidence to accomplish this and impeachment is much more preferable than another Dallas.”

Table of Contents

  • Stung by Wolff book, Trump calls for stronger U.S. libel laws
  • Surrounded by Neocons
  • Secrecy News
  • Republicans retiring in record numbers fuel fears of losing House at midterms
  • Trump blasts courts after Daca Dreamers ruling
  • Trump’s mental health issues — and fitness for office — can no longer be avoided
  • Bitcoin & other cryptocurrencies will ‘come to bad ending’ – Warren Buffett
  • California mudslides: Rescuers say dozens still missing in rubble
  • Exclusive: Justice Department blindsided banking agency on pot policy flip – sources
  • Behind the 911 attacks
  • NSA Surveillance Bill Would Legalize Loophole That Lets FBI Spy on Americans Without a Warrant
  • It Is Time for Progressives to Support the Trump-Putin Efforts at Rapprochement

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TBR News January 9, 2018

Jan 09 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 9, 2018:” Here we have an interesting historical excerpt from the Washington Journals of one Heinrich Mueller.This individual had once been the head of Hitler’s Gestapo and after the war, worked first for Colonel James Critchfield’s Gehlan Org and then at Langley as an expert on Communism

‘Friday, 5. January, 1951

I had an important visitor today down here. (Colonel John Valentine, ed.) Grombach, whom I have only casually met, wanted to see me and we spent a good deal of time going over various matters. He is terribly anti-communist and was very important during the war when he was a chief of intelligence at the Pentagon. In this position, he conducted a savage war against the communists in the OSS and I must say, he is terribly hated in the CIA because of his persecutions of their friends.

Grombach is a large, very muscular man with a gruff way about him and one gets the feeling that he would cheerfully punch an opponent in the face. This is not surprising because Grombach boxed in the Olympics and still goes to the gymnasium.

He is very sympathetic to Germans, and others, and has been in very close touch with friends of mine. He hates some of my CIA friends, especially Carmel Offie who is a screaming fairy and a friend of Wisner’s. I cannot abide Offie who is America’s answer to the Burgess creature but he seems to be able to ply his activities with impunity.

Grombach is a valuable man with the right attitude and we managed to get on with each other famously. He spoke very highly of Skorzeny, by the way, and was upset because he could not get in touch with him when he was here.

One of the things he told me, and I admit to being shocked, was that the CIA is embezzling millions of dollars from the government! I know about the stolen art business, of course. None of that money I get in goes to the government and after I have taken out my share, the rest is given over by me in cash to Angleton and Wisner. I know they do not put this money into the official funds and I also know from talks with Angleton that they keep it for themselves.

Angleton has started buying up income property in Washington and who knows what Wisner is doing with it. Sending a donation to the Ku Klux Klan, no doubt, considering how much he hates what he calls “nigras.” His family were New York aristocrats but he seems to have picked up local habits very quickly.

How does he justify his black boyfriend? I don’t suppose he does. Maybe he can call him a Cuban (they are all partly black down there but not unattractive people).

What would Polly the parrot (Wisner’s wife, ed.) do if she ever found out? Probably write a terrible poem about it. God save us all from women who write bad poetry. They usually can’t find a publisher so they have to be SPAs. (Self-publishing authors, ed.) Well, it makes money for the vanity presses, I suppose.

If this high level thievery had happened in Germany, I would have put them into a nice, comfortable cell and sent them off to the recreation camp on the next bus.

This is simply stealing and I was surprised that they seem to be doing it on a larger and larger scale. After all, they are well placed to do it. Everything is very secret and no one accounts to anyone else for huge sums of money.

Mr. Grombach is French by background and is called “Frenchy” or the “Frog” and when I told him a branch of my family was from Alsace, he brightened up somewhat. He likes the kitchen here and other amenities so we agreed to agree and to show him my good intentions, I gave him copies of some interesting material and he opened his briefcase and shoved stacks of paper onto my side of the desk. Of course no one kept anything but it made for very interesting reading.

Colonel John Valentine Grombach had been chief of espionage for the U.S. Army’s Military Intelligence Service during the Second World War. Grombach, who was known as “Frenchy”, was a champion athlete. He was a bitter enemy of the OSS and was instrumental in supplying the background data to break them up after the end of the war.  Grombach contended, correctly, that the OSS was heavily salted with Communists and pro-Communists and their wartime activities were, if not anti-American, at the least devotedly pro-Russian.

His major battle, while in uniform, was with the OSS’s Research and Analysis (R&A) branch. They claimed Grombach was pro-Fascist and he claimed they were pro-Communist and in this case, both were correct. Grombach, however, was a ferocious and determined adversary and in the end, he was successful. He leaked sensitive information to Congress which resulted in the R&A being broken up. Its director, Colonel Alfred McCormack was forced to resign and Grombach established himself as a power to reckon with in official Washington and in the American intelligence community.

He supported the drive to remove pro-Soviet personnel from government service and eventually joined forces with other anti-Communists, leaking very embarrassing material to Senator McCarthy’s committee. Both Grombach and Müller singled out Carmel Offie, Wisner’s chief deputy in the CIA, for special attention. Offie, a well-known homosexual, had been intimately connected with William Bullett while he was U.S. Ambassador to Russia and was strongly suspected of giving information to Soviet Intelligence.

Offie was subsequently apprehended in a public lavatory by Washington police and in the ensuing scandal, forced to quit his high post in the CIA. Offie always claimed that he had been set up for the arrest and Müller’s later journals bear this contention out.

Neither Grombach, who appears with some frequency in Müller’s journals, nor Müller had any liking for the CIA. Both believed that its upper echelons were filled with ex-OSS men who were very left wing in their beliefs although stridently anti-Communist in their public personas. Müller and Grombach shared detestation towards the burgeoning corruption that was becoming evident to them at the top levels of the CIA.

Under cover of high-level secrecy, many of the operating funds supplied to the CIA by a trusting Congress were diverted for personal usage and the objections raised by some in 1948 that the CIA was a rogue organization with absolutely no oversight whatsoever are equally valid fifty years later.

Unlike Grombach, Müller had long ago ceased being an idealist and while in Washington was a ruthless realist. One of his real objections to the high level thefts was that, in the beginning at least, he was not included in their benefits.

Friday, 23. March, 1951.

I had my dinner with the Harveys at a small restaurant that specializes in Spanish food. I met Frau Harvey for the first time. Her name is Libby (for Elizabeth no doubt) and she is rather thin and dark-haired. She also drinks like her fat husband. Both of them loathe Burgess and, because of him, Philby. Harvey said Burgess insulted his wife and that he suspected both of them of being spies. I tried to dismiss the Philby suspicion by saying that Philby was no doubt reporting on Washington affairs to Whitehall but Harvey thinks to Moscow as well. He has no proof but is certainly persistent and this, coupled with his vindictiveness and position in the CIA does not look that good for P.

The wife is obviously encouraging his attacks. Women love to stir up disharmony and the Chinese ideogram for trouble is two women under one roof. One can assume from his actions that Burgess would fall into the female category although what Philby sees in him is something I would prefer not to contemplate. Himself, probably.

Both the Harveys poured down the martinis ( a filthy concoction that tastes like cleaning fluid) until finally, dear Libby slipped off her shoe and stuffed her wriggling foot into my crotch. Under the table of course, but in the condition her husband was, she could have ripped off her dress and scrambled up onto the table and he would have gone on talking to his plate. After her contortions, accompanied by her entertaining act of sticking her tongue out and wiggling it like a pink flannel necktie, she put her shoe back on (God be praised!) and wrote her telephone number on a piece of paper and stuck it into my jacket pocket.

All this time, Harvey himself was muttering about Hoover and what an asshole he is. Apparently, H. worked for the FBI and Hoover sacked him with some nasty comments about being a drunk.

The food was interesting for a change but the evening was a total waste except for the foot action and the wagging tongue. The Harvey woman certainly gets heated up with a few drinks. One or two more, and I have no doubt she would have crawled under the table and fellated me before the dessert!

On the way out of the restaurant, she fell down and when her drunken husband tried to lift her up, he fell down. I had the manager call a taxicab as they were obviously too drunk to drive, either one of them, and I didn’t want to give them a ride in my new Cadillac because one or both of them would have spewed all over the seats.

William King Harvey was thirty-five when he encountered Müller. A native of Indiana, Harvey had been an FBI agent stationed in New York until he was fired by Hoover for being a chronic alcoholic. Harvey, who had considerable knowledge of Soviet espionage, then took his knowledge, and his drinking habits, to the CIA where he soon became chief of counterintelligence. His wife, Libby, a native of Kentucky, was a woman of little sophistication and was not able to function in Washington society without resort to an extensive ration of dry martinis. Harvey, known as the Pear because of his short, fat body, disliked Hoover and engaged in open warfare with his former superior. He was a loud, aggressive man who developed a strong personal dislike for Harold Philby and attacked him constantly, eventually eroding Philby’s standing with British intelligence and leading to his defection to Russia in 1963. Ten years earlier, his nemesis, Harvey, was transferred to Berlin to head the CIA office there.

In 1952, Harvey had divorced his wife, Libby, and obtained custody of their young son. He never discovered that Müller had a brief but steamy affair with his wife, who eventually committed suicide, but blamed her fall from grace to a connection with “some German bastard.” Other problems were the official cause of their breakup but the Teuton who so encrusted him with horns remained his friend and the two of them ended up in BOB or Berlin Operations Base, the CIA nerve center in Berlin.

Harvey indeed was a man with a considerable knowledge of Soviet intelligence operations but Müller had an infinitely greater knowledge and Harvey depended heavily on his Swiss friend for information and assistance with German. Harvey, like so many other CIA specialists in Germany, was unable to read, write or speak a word of German.

There is a very strong reason to believe that Harvey, far from being an enemy of Hoover, was in fact still in contact with his former chief and passed along inside information to him about the working of the CIA, an organization that was feared and disliked by the FBI chief.

After Harvey returned from his duty in Berlin, he became involved in other serious matters for the CIA and in 1963, became involved under James Angleton, in the assassination of John Kennedy. Harvey was in charge of the assassination squad and later dealt with Mary Pinchot Meyer, Kennedy’s mistress and former wife of Cord Meyer, a senior CIA official.

Wednesday, April 25 1951

Robert came by my office today with an aide who brought several boxes of intercepted Soviet documents. These are from the TICOM (Target Intelligence Committee, ed.) This comes to me because I have had dealings with (Dr. Erich, ed.) Hüttenhain in the past. He has been the best insofar as the decryption of Soviet messages are concerned. Now, we are using German machines to spy on not only the Russians but our delightful allies as well! This department here is full of Germans…a mixed bag of Abwehr, SD, Gestapo and Reichspost plus some Luftwaffe boys. Most of the SS people are on the “automatic arrest” and “forbidden entry” level but no one pays any attention to that here and, thank God, the Jews have shut up now that we are charging many of them with being Soviet spies. If we did not do this, they would wail and howl about “evil Nazis” running around Washington. As Smith said, ‘Better to have professional German intelligence people here than that damned pack of communist Jews that Roosevelt shoved off on us!’

TICOM material is vital to us now and I am highly entertained when the Americans discovered that we were breaking many of their codes. Of course now there is much talk about the Enigma (German military encryption machine, ed.) victories. Of course we knew that they had the capacity to break this. We knew they had broken the Japanese code machine patterns and we tried to warn them but they wouldn’t believe us. When Hitler planned the Ardennes attack in December of 1944, Hitler gave specific orders that no messages concerning this attack were to be processed through Enigma and we took the Amis completely by surprise. Now we know what Comrade Josef and DeGaulle are saying, not to mention the highest level governmental and military British message traffic!

One of the fellows I lunch with regularly was with the Einsatzkommando and was a specialist in Soviet bandit groups. He was the overseer of a radio interception unit for the SD and took part in many an action against the bandits. They took only a few prisoners and executed the rest. Since the leadership of these groups and many of the members were Jews, I shudder to think what Hollywood would do with all this! Still, we are in the midst of a de facto war with the Soviets and since the Jews run that murderous state, they can’t complain if they get fried. And they couldn’t complain earlier when we wiped out their bandit groups. Of course they couldn’t because we wiped them off the map. The friendly Poles liked to chase such rodents into barns and then burn them down but we are more correct and only hung them up in the trees or shot them.

We have a Pole here, one Juliuz Kowalski, who works in the clandestine services and who is the worst enemy of the Jews I have ever seen. I try to keep away from him as much as possible because he sounds worse than Streicher!

We see that Comrade Josef is not happy about the Zionists in Prague giving all the weapons to Israel and the end of the Slansky murder gang will no doubt improve the standard of living in Prague.

I will have Robert bring me these intercepts as often as he can and will analyze them as soon as I can.

Having trouble with one of my teeth and will have to go to a dentist. We have one on the payroll as the bosses are worried that someone might say something indiscreet while under the gas. ‘

The ‘Robert’ mentioned in Müller’s journals was Robert Trumbull Crowley, a very early member of the CIA and later the Deputy Director of Clandestine Activities. He basically “ran” Müller, who was technically an employee of the U.S. Army. Müller’s other control was Walter Bedell Smith, once Eisenhower’s Chief of Staff and later head of the CIA.”

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TBR News January 8, 2018

Jan 08 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 8, 2018: “During the late 1940s, the question of homosexuality in government was coming to the forefront in America along with a long-festering fear of communist infiltration.

There is no doubt that many government employees were so inclined and openly recruited others of their persuasion to also seek government service. This was not to promote sedition but merely to have congenial working conditions, and perhaps, even more congenial after-hours activities.

Intelligence officials do not tend to be moralists or they would not be in their occupations, and their basic concerns insofar as homosexuality is concerned is a vulnerability of the subject to outside pressures and very possible manipulation by outside persons or agencies to gain influence or confidential information.

The Russians are well known to exploit sex as an effective tool for recruitment or entrapment, and this exploitation certainly did not stop with Glasnost or the subsequent disintegration of the former Soviet Union.

Just before the end of that geopolitical entity, a scandal involving a homosexual prostitution ring surfaced in Washington at the highest levels and the major concern expressed at that time was the possibility that the KGB might very well be involved.

One of the people involved was a White House press aide who briefed President Reagan daily on press matters.”

 

Table of Contents

  • Apple investors call for action over iPhone ‘addiction’ among children
  • Jeremy Hunt attacks Facebook over app aimed at children
  • ‘We Are Seeing What Happens When the U.S. Pulls Back’
  • Why does Israel fear the BDS movement so much?
  • Judge ends case over armed standoff in Nevada land dispute
  • Bundy goes free: Judge dismisses case against rancher after mistrial
  • Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?
  • Weather disasters cost U.S. record $306 billion in 2017: NOAA
  • Sanchi: Burning tanker off Chinese coast ‘in danger of exploding’

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TBR News January 7, 2018

Jan 07 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 7, 2018: “James Jesus Angleton was the gray eminence at the CIA. A Yale graduate and well known at that institution as a poet, Angleton went into the OSS and operated in Italy during the war. His father had a business there before the war.

Angleton spied on everyone, including the CIA, bugged everyone’s offices and telephones and made recordings of all kinds of highly compromising conversations that he gleefully played for the voyeuristic enjoyment of Allen Dulles.

When Angleton became head of counterintelligence for the CIA, he continued his unsavory activities, to which he added assassinations. Anyone whom Angleton felt to be a danger to him or his agency was subject to being terminated “with extreme prejudice,” a term invented for CIA murders.

It was a term used extensively during his reign

In 1961, Angleton and several of his associates developed a dislike of Dag Hammarskjöld, Secretary General of the United Nations. Angleton felt that Hammarskjöld, who was attempting to interfere in the CIA-instigated upheaval in the mineral-rich Belgian Congo, was not properly oriented to the CIA’s goals and the former Swedish foreign minister’s aircraft was sabotaged near Ndola in Zambia. The Secretary General died in the crash.

In 1963, furious that President Kennedy was secretly planning to establish a rapprochement with Fidel Castro and also because of his firing of Allen Dulles as head of the CIA, Angleton became involved in a successful plot to assassinate the president.

A considerable body of documentation exists, one is told, on these subjects and as distant felonies become nothing more than interesting history, perhaps much of this will surface in one forum or another. Dean Swift’s description of the proceedings of the Academy of Laputa, while bitter satire, are very close to the mark indeed.”

Table of Contents

  • Trump is now dangerous – that makes his mental health a matter of public interest
  • Students Await Judgment in Suit Over Fordham University Banning of Pro-Palestine Club
  • Syrian army breaks siege of army base near Damascus
  • Hardcast Exclusive: Dirty deal traced to three Ukrainian tycoons
  • FBI agent describes grisly warehouse in start of body broker’s trial
  • Why Jeff Sessions is going to lose his war against cannabis
  • Booked! Trump, staffers who cried Wolff and a week of fire and fury
  • In Clash Between California and Trump, It’s One America Versus Another
  • Bitcoin crashing & housing bubbles popping – Deutsche Bank’s biggest risks in 2018
  • 10 words and phrases we rarely used before Trump

 

Trump is now dangerous – that makes his mental health a matter of public interest

This world authority in psychiatry, consulted by US politicians, argues that the president’s mental fitness deserves scrutinyTrump is now dangerous – that makes his mental health a matter of public interest

January 6, 2018

by Bandy Lee

The Guardian

Eight months ago, a group of us put our concerns into a book, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. It became an instant bestseller, depleting bookstores within days. We thus discovered that our endeavours resonated with the public.

While we keep within the letter of the Goldwater rule – which prohibits psychiatrists from diagnosing public figures without a personal examination and without consent – there is still a lot that mental health professionals can tell before the public reaches awareness. These come from observations of a person’s patterns of responses, of media appearances over time, and from reports of those close to him. Indeed, we know far more about Trump in this regard than many, if not most, of our patients. Nevertheless, the personal health of a public figure is her private affair – until, that is, it becomes a threat to public health.

To make a diagnosis one needs all the relevant information – including, I believe, a personal interview. But to assess dangerousness, one only needs enough information to raise alarms. It is about the situation rather than the person. The same person may not be a danger in a different situation, while a diagnosis stays with the person.

It is Trump in the office of the presidency that poses a danger. Why? Past violence is the best predictor of future violence, and he has shown: verbal aggressiveness, boasting about sexual assaults, inciting violence in others, an attraction to violence and powerful weapons and the continual taunting of a hostile nation with nuclear power. Specific traits that are highly associated with violence include: impulsivity, recklessness, paranoia, a loose grip on reality with a poor understanding of consequences, rage reactions, a lack of empathy, belligerence towards others and a constant need to demonstrate power.

There is another pattern by which he is dangerous. His cognitive function, or his ability to process knowledge and thoughts, has begun to be widely questioned. Many have noted a distinct decline in his outward ability to form complete sentences, to stay with a thought, to use complex words and not to make loose associations. This is dangerous because of the critical importance of decision-making capacity in the office that he holds. Cognitive decline can result from any number of causes – psychiatric, neurological, medical, or medication-induced – and therefore needs to be investigated. Likewise, we do not know whether psychiatric symptoms are due to a mental disorder, medication, or a physical condition, which only a thorough examination can reveal.

A diagnosis in itself, as much as it helps define the course, prognosis, and treatment, is Trump’s private business, but what is our affair is whether the president and commander-in-chief has the capacity to function in his office. Mental illness, or even physical disability, does not necessarily impair a president from performing his function. Rather, questions about this capacity mobilised us to speak out about our concerns, with the intent to warn and to educate the public, so that we can help protect its own safety and wellbeing.

Indeed, at no other time in US history has a group of mental health professionals been so collectively concerned about a sitting president’s dangerousness. This is not because he is an unusual person – many of his symptoms are very common – but it is highly unusual to find a person with such signs of danger in the office of presidency. For the US, it may be unprecedented; for parts of the world where this has happened before, the outcome has been uniformly devastating.

Pathology does not feel right to the healthy. It repels, but it also exhausts and confuses. There is a reason why staying in close quarters with a person suffering from mental illness usually induces what is called a “shared psychosis”. Vulnerable or weakened individuals are more likely to succumb, and when their own mental health is compromised, they may develop an irresistible attraction to pathology. No matter the attraction, unlike healthy decisions that are life-affirming, choices that arise out of pathology lead to damage, destruction, and death. This is the definition of disease, and how we tell it apart from health.

Politics require that we allow everyone an equal chance; medicine requires that we treat everyone equally in protecting them from disease. That is why a liberal health professional would not ignore signs of appendicitis in a patient just because he is a Republican. Similarly, health professionals would not call pancreatic cancer something else because it is afflicting the president. When signs of illness become apparent, it is natural for the physician to recommend an examination. But when the disorder goes so far as to affect an individual’s ability to perform her function, and in some cases risks harm to the public as a result, then the health professional has a duty to sound the alarm.

The progress of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations was worrisome to us for the effects it would have on the president’s stability. We predicted that Trump, who has shown marked signs of psychological fragility under ordinary circumstances, barely able to cope with basic criticism or unflattering news, would begin to unravel with the encroaching indictments. And if his mental stability suffered, then so would public safety and international security.

Indeed, that is what began to unfold: Trump became more paranoid, espousing once again conspiracy theories that he had let go of for a while. He seemed further to lose his grip on reality by denying his own voice on the Access Hollywood tapes. Also, the sheer frequency of his tweets seemed to reflect an agitated state of mind, and his retweeting some violent anti-Muslim videos showed his tendency to resort to violence when under pressure.

Trump views violence as a solution when he is stressed and desires to re-establish his power. Paranoia and overwhelming feelings of weakness and inadequacy make violence very attractive, and powerful weapons very tempting to use – all the more so for their power. His contest with the North Korean leader about the size of their nuclear buttons is an example of that and points to the possibility of great danger by virtue of the power of his position.

It does not take a mental health professional to see that a person of Trump’s impairments, in the office of the presidency, is a danger to us all. What mental health experts can offer is affirmation that these signs are real, that they may be worse than the untrained person suspects, and that there are more productive ways of handling them than deflection or denial.

Screening for risk of harm is a routine part of mental health practice, and there are steps that we follow when someone poses a risk of danger: containment, removal from access to weapons and an urgent evaluation. When danger is involved, it is an emergency, where an established patient-provider relationship is not necessary, nor is consent; our ethical code mandates that we treat the person as our patient.

In medicine, mental impairment is considered as serious as physical impairment: it is just as debilitating, just as objectively observable and established just as reliably through standardised assessments. Mental health experts routinely perform capacity or fitness for duty examinations for courts and other legal bodies, and offer their recommendations. This is what we are calling for, urgently, in doing our part as medical professionals. The rest of the decision is up to the courts or, in this case, up to the body politic.

 

Students Await Judgment in Suit Over Fordham University Banning of Pro-Palestine Club

January 7, 2018

by Dina Sayedahmed

The Intercept

On Wednesday afternoon, a court convened to hear the case of students at Fordham University who are suing the school for denying them the ability to form an official student club in December 2016. The petitioning students, Ahmad Awad, Sofia Dadap, Sapphira Lurie, and Julie Norris, who are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal, had tried to form a club on one of the most contentious political issues on campus: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The fight over forming a Students for Justice in Palestine club had dragged on for more than two years. Students had applied to establish a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at the Lincoln center campus in November 2015, but administrators had resisted from the beginning. The students were asking the court to uphold Fordham University’s own policies and mission and to reinstate the United Student Government’s vote in support of establishing the chapter.

Awad, a Palestinian-American, believes that the school’s rejection of SJP establishes a dangerous precedent.

“SJP was going to allow a different perspective on campus,” said Awad, now a law student at Rutgers University. “Allowing SJP [would] allow Fordham to continue a standard of free speech and uphold its mission statement” — alluding to a passage in the school’s mission about “the alleviation of poverty, the promotion of justice, the protection of human rights.”

Much of the debate around admitting the club has turned around SJP’s support for the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel, a nonviolent global campaign to pressure Israel to end its abuses of Palestinians’ rights that has been met with controversy by Israeli political leaders and pro-Israel figures in the U.S. The fight over BDS has become a national one; state-level legislative bodies, Congress, civil rights groups, and, of course, pro-Israel advocacy groups are all heavily involved. But no place does the fight seem to be as heated as on college campuses.

On Wednesday, the court broke without rendering a judgement, and it’s unclear when one will come. The case continues to loom as another data point in the campaign to suppress Palestine activism on campus — a campaign whose successes dispirit and confound observers who favor open debates and Palestinian rights.

“College campuses are where people are supposed to be exposed to new ideas,” said Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian-American professor and co-director of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University. “There is absolutely no reason why the policies of a country that is engaged in the longest occupation in modern history, which is entirely dependent on the support of the United States, should not be discussed openly and critically in the United States.”

The SJP students’ journey has been filled with strange lines of inquiry from the administration, as well as requirements that were not made of other applicants trying to form student clubs.

In the 13 months between the application and the denial issued by the Dean of Students, students had been called to several meetings and corresponded with Fordham University administrators regarding various matters, including the content of their constitution, whether the National Students for Justice in Palestine organization required anything from them, and proposed programming, according to Palestine Legal. (I was involved with SJP’s Rutgers University chapter while attending school there.)

During one of those meetings, the students were asked about their thoughts on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel and if it called for the dissolution of Israel. They were queried about why they use the term “apartheid.” And administrators prodded them on whether they were supportive of or open to working with Jewish groups. In a move that dangerously and falsely conflates criticisms of Israel with anti-Semitism, Fordham University administrators called on the Jewish Student Organization to weigh in on granting SJP club status. Students were also asked to seek a vote of approval from the United Student Government, even though the requirement was not university policy at the time. The student government nonetheless voted that the club should be admitted.

Yet the school rejected the application. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is a topic that often leads to polarization rather than dialogue. The purpose of the organization as stated in the proposed club constitution points toward that polarization,” wrote Keith Eldredge, the dean of students at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, in a letter to the students in December 2016. “Specifically, the call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions of Israel presents a barrier to open dialogue and mutual understanding and learning.” It was the first time that Fordham denied a student club application that had been approved by the student government, according to Palestine Legal, and no recourse was given to appeal the decision.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Fordham’s lawyers stated that, because the university is a private entity, the First Amendment doesn’t apply and students’ free speech can be arbitrarily restricted.

“The question is who defines whether certain speech has crossed the line of racist incitement or not,” said Omar Barghouti, a Palestine-based activist who co-founded the BDS movement, in an interview. “This is not about feeling ‘uncomfortable’ about speech that you despise or viscerally disagree with.” Barghouti went on to say that the opposition to the club “devalues the lives of oppressed and marginalized groups that already suffer institutional racism and discrimination in the current hegemonic culture, thus exposing them to palpable physical harm and further intimidation.”

Khalidi, the Columbia professor, said that Fordham’s actions are an “egregious violation of free speech and academic freedom.”

“This constitutes an unwarranted interference by the university in student life,” Khalidi said. “There’s an overwhelming political and media consensus in support of Israel in the United States. People who would like to put forward a critical point of view on college campuses should be allowed to do so.”

The flaps over campus advocacy for Palestinian rights frequently stem from the BDS movement, which was modeled on grassroots opposition to the South African apartheid. Despite its nonviolent foundation, BDS has been met with a torrent of activism that has led 23 states to enact anti-BDS legislation, including New York. Many of the state-level laws, critics say, risk chilling dissent even if they don’t criminalize it. In some cases, however, civil liberties groups have raised stronger objections. Last summer, the ACLU opposed a bill introduced in both houses of Congress for potentially criminalizing a boycott activity against Israel. Later in 2017, the group filed a lawsuit against Kansas over an anti-BDS law it said also violated the Constitution.

Those same fights have played out on college campuses large and small, public and private alike. The controversies often emerge around chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine, a national group founded in 2010 that has grown to roughly 200 school chapters.

Students at the University of Michigan have lobbied their student government 11 times since 2002 to divest from companies that enable Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. Last November, the student government finally accepted a motion pushing divestment after an approximately seven-hour hearing. Following the vote, however, the school released a statement that it was unlikely to heed the student government and would continue investing as normal.

Last semester at Brooklyn College, professors and students, some of whom had already graduated, found their names listed as “terrorist supporters” on posters  around campus. The posters were sponsored by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a far-right group known for its anti-Muslim animus. Of the two professors and nine current and former students who were listed on the posters, many had been active members or supportive of Brooklyn College’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, which has advocated for BDS, among other social justice movements.

“It is quite transparently an attempt to intimidate faculty and produce a certain kind of chilling effect,” said Samir Chopra, a professor of philosophy at Brooklyn College whose name was also listed on the posters. Chopra, who does not entirely support the BDS movement but believes advocacy for it falls within students’ right to free speech, cited the other forms of intimidation used against students, such as blacklists generated by pro-Israel groups. “Many of these things can be professional death,” Chopra said. “I quite honestly think that if I were to go out looking for a job, I would not find a job right now.”

Although Brooklyn College’s president condemned the poster campaign, some students recalled that the administration was less than fully supportive. “Every single time we had an event, every time we tried to do anything, there was so much backlash,” said Thomas DeAngelis, a former Brooklyn College student who was listed on the posters despite moving on to the University of Minnesota for graduate school.

DeAngelis said that administrators regularly required metal detectors and security guards for SJP events. With the exception of certain events held by the Caribbean student clubs, this wasn’t the experience of other student clubs, according to DeAngelis. SJP students at other universities, including DePaul University and the University of New Mexico, echoed DeAngelis’s testimony, saying that administrators often required their SJP chapter to post security guards at events. Brooklyn College doesn’t outright prevent students from organizing, DeAngelis said, but by constantly throwing hurdles at organizers and not protecting them from harassment, Brooklyn College creates an added anxiety for activists, making it impossible for SJP to fully function.

“They never canceled our events, but they would make us go through crazy loopholes and come up with new rules based on something SJP did — like what type of things are appropriate at events and what material could be distributed,” DeAngelis said. “People got fed up and it pushed a lot of people to do work outside of SJP.”

 

Syrian army breaks siege of army base near Damascus

January 7, 2018

Reuters

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria’s army has broken the siege of an army base encircled by opposition forces on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, state-run al-Ikhbariya TV and a war monitor reported on Sunday.

Last Sunday, rebels, mainly belonging to the Islamist Ahrar al Sham faction, widened their control of parts of the Military Vehicles Administration base in the Eastern Ghouta town of Harasta.[nL8N1OX3Q3]

Army elite forces, backed by Russian jets, launched an offensive to break the siege and liberate at least 200 troops who were believed to be trapped within its sprawling, heavily defended grounds.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the Syrian forces have “opened a loophole” that led them into the base.

Rebel fighters had stormed the base last November in a drive to relieve pressure on Eastern Ghouta’s towns and villages.

The base has long been used to strike at the densely populated Eastern Ghouta in an attempt to force the rebel enclave into submission. More than 300,000 people there have lived under siege by army troops since 2013.

Reporting by Kinda Makieh and Dahlia Nehme; Editing by Alison Williams and Elaine

 

Hardcast Exclusive: Dirty deal traced to three Ukrainian tycoons

January 7, 2018

Aljazeera

Three Ukrainian oligarchs traded part of around $1.5bn in illicit assets traced to cronies of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, an exclusive investigation by Al Jazeera revealed on Sunday. They did so as the war-torn country struggled to return suspected misappropriated funds to its coffers.

An unsigned contract obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit identifies Alexander Onyschenko – the gas tycoon, former member of parliament and currently one of Ukraine’s most-wanted men – and Pavel Fuchs, a real estate tycoon who made his fortune in Moscow, as the buyers in the illegal deal.

Other documents suggest the seller was Serhiy Kurchenko – a fugitive Ukrainian gas tycoon based in Moscow who was known as Yanukovich’s “family wallet”.

The contract obtained by Al Jazeera, revealed in The Oligarchs investigation, said Onyschenko and Fuchs paid $30m, including cash and a private jet, for the Cyprus-based company, Quickpace Limited.

That company held $160m-worth of bonds and cash, which was frozen by a Ukrainian judge as they were suspected of being proceeds of crime.

The findings were “unbelievable”, said Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (ANTAC).

“It sounds like an agreement between criminal bosses, you know? You can sign it with your blood.”

It is illegal in Ukraine and abroad to trade with frozen assets.

“The whole idea is I’ve frozen the asset because I think it’s the proceeds of crime,” said Jon Benton, former director of the International Corruption Unit at Britain’s National Crime Agency.

“It’s like trading in stolen goods that have been taken by the police. You’re putting the cash in the getaway car,” he told Al Jazeera.

The buyers aim to make a $130m profit by persuading a judge to unfreeze the assets.

Article 4.4 of the contract said that the buyers would cooperate in “taking action to remove the arrest from the accounts” held by Quickpace Limited.

Looted state

Ukrainian authorities froze the assets in June 2014 across numerous companies in Cyprus, the UK, Panama, Belize and the British Virgin Islands totalling $1.5bn. It is estimated that that Yanukovich and his cronies stole far more.

Evidence found on Yanukovich’s abandoned property hidden outside Kiev showed one of his clan’s corporate networks. Documents obtained by Al Jazeera expose another.

They reveal how Yanukovich’s clan pumped stolen money into companies in Ukraine with bank accounts in Latvia and gradually passed it through dozens of offshore shell companies in Cyprus, Belize, British Virgin Islands and other money-laundering hotspots including the UK.

“The philosophy of money launderers is just to create a situation where the money has moved through so many different companies and so many different countries, in so many different accounts that it would be almost impossible to recreate the trail,” said Bill Browder, chief executive of Hermitage Capital.

Yanukovich’s name never appeared on any of the paperwork.

The companies bear the names of nominee directors – cut-out characters who appear to be the owner of a company, but simply act on instruction by the real owner.

Ukraine’s new authorities started to look into the corrupt schemes after Yanukovich’s removal from office in 2014.

It began a series of reforms that included the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU).

But nothing important has been achieved in terms of the prosecution of the corrupt individuals or the recovery of the stolen assets.

“Resistance is very strong from the elites who are in power now and the more we investigate, the more we face this resistance,” Artem Sytnyk, NABU director, told Al Jazeera.

“Parliament is taking steps to sideline the management of the Anti-Corruption Agency and take control.”

Nazar Holodnitsky, Ukraine’s special anti-corruption prosecutor, refused Al Jazeera’s requests for information, saying: “Until this investigation is complete, any comments, assertions regarding the existence or absence of certain documents is premature.”

Onyschenko took the position that there was nothing wrong with buying a company holding frozen assets.

“You can buy cheap and try to fix the problem to make money,” he told Al Jazeera.

Onyschenko confirmed Fuchs’ and Kurchneko’s role in the deal, but denied the deal went ahead.

“It was like normal business, but this has not happened. We didn’t buy.”

However, a Cypriot lawyer and the NABU, who worked on the deal, confirmed the sale of Quickpace went through and company documents record a transfer of ownership to one of Mr Fuchs’s companies.

Al Jazeera obtained a record of an initial payment of $2m from an account at Barclays Bank to another at a Russian-owned Latvian bank, Norvic Banka.

Currently, Quickpace is owned by Evermore Property Holdings Limited, a Cyprus company, which, in turn, is owned by Dorchester International Incorporated. Fuchs is its owner.

 

FBI agent describes grisly warehouse in start of body broker’s trial

January 5, 2018

by Steve Friess and John Shiffman

Reuters

DETROIT (Reuters) – The warehouse of a Michigan man who sold donated body parts to researchers was littered with dead flies, dog bowls and human remains “frozen together in flesh-on-flesh chunks,” a federal agent testified Friday.

The grisly description came during the opening day in the federal trial of businessman Arthur Rathburn, who sold or leased donated body parts, including human heads, to medical researchers for two decades.

The buying and selling of body parts for research and education is legal under U.S. law, which does not govern the industry. Current regulations only cover body parts intended for transplant, such as hearts and livers.

Rathburn, however, is charged with defrauding customers by selling them body parts infected with hepatitis and HIV, and with lying to federal agents about shipments.

During opening statements, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Neal told jurors that human remains were stored so haphazardly that Rathburn needed a crowbar to separate frozen parts. Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Leslie Larson testified that during the 2013 search of Rathburn’s warehouse, officials found a filthy scene, with no running water or heat.

“Body parts were out in the open, in coolers,” Larson testified. “Some of the freezers had heads and torsos, some had arms and legs. Many were frozen together in flesh-on-flesh chunks.”

Rathburn’s lawyer, James Howarth, urged the jury to focus on the documents in the case, not gruesome photographs. He said that Rathburn’s ex-wife, Elizabeth, is “most responsible” for any wrongdoing. She has pleaded guilty to one count of fraud and is expected to testify for the government.

“This case is so sensitive because the nature of the evidence is going to make us all cringe, make us all uneasy,” Howarth told the jury. “There’s nothing particularly pretty about a deceased body that has been separated into parts, but I would hope no one would have bad feelings toward Mr. Rathburn because of that.”

The government’s failure to stop Rathburn sooner, despite a decade of warning signs, was one in a series of stories Reuters reported last year about the largely unregulated body broker industry.

As part of the news agency’s examination of the industry, a Reuters reporter was able to purchase two human heads and a cervical spine from a body broker in Tennessee. The deals were struck after just a few emails, at a cost of $900 plus shipping.

The series also profiled two Phoenix brokers – one who earned at least $12 million from the sale or use of donated body parts and another who regularly supplied Rathburn. The broker who sold Rathburn body parts, Steve Gore, pleaded guilty to defrauding customers and is expected to testify against Rathburn.

Last month, Reuters reported that federal agents discovered four preserved fetuses during the search of Rathburn’s warehouse. According to government photographs obtained by the news agency, the fetuses appear to have been in their second trimester.

The fetus photographs are not cited in any court filings and it is unclear if they will be presented at trial.

Friess reported from Detroit and Shiffman reported from Washington. Edited by Blake Morrison

 

Why Jeff Sessions is going to lose his war against cannabis

The attorney general is outmatched.

August 1, 2017

by Ashley C. Bradford and W. David Bradford

Washington Post

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will soon receive a report he has been waiting for. The document, from the President’s Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, is expected to clarify the federal government’s position on marijuana — and the conflicts that exist between state and federal laws. It clear what Sessions wants to do: Over the past month, he has asked Congress for permission to prosecute medical cannabis suppliers who are acting in accordance with their state’s laws, reauthorized civil asset forfeiture (a highly controversial practice used in drug cases), and announced his desire to start a new “war on drugs.”

On at least one front, however, Sessions’s new war on drugs is likely to fail. In taking on cannabis — particularly the medical uses of cannabis — he is staking out a position that is at odds with powerful interests and an overwhelming majority of Americans from nearly all walks of life. This tide is too strong to swim against.

The first obstacle is that the medical community has largely resolved the question of whether cannabis is clinically useful. In January, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) reported that there is “conclusive evidence” that cannabis (both whole plant and extracts) is clinically effective at treating some diseases, including chronic pain. Cannabis may prove to be a pain management strategy that could substitute for opioids for many desperate patients, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) acknowledges that cannabis may be an effective tool to combat the opioid crisis. Researchers studying the relationship between medical cannabis laws and opioid use have found that states with such laws have nearly a 25 percent reduction in opioid-related deaths. The contrast between opioids — which killed more than 33,000 Americans in 2015 — and cannabis could not be more striking. As NIDA states on its DrugFacts — Marijuana Web page: “There are no reports of teens or adults fatally overdosing (dying) on marijuana alone.”

[Pot is increasingly legal. Employers need to stop screening for it.]

Further, medical cannabis may also save lives in unexpected ways. Data published in the American Journal of Public Health in February suggests that laws allowing it were associated with fewer traffic fatalities. While we always have to be careful about making claims that a policy caused an outcome, evidence from multiple studies, with careful statistical analyses, is building a case that medical cannabis has real, beneficial, spillover effects.

State governments are a second major hurdle for Sessions. States are sharply opposed to his moves to crack down on their cannabis policies. Eight states (with nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population) have legalized recreational cannabis use by adults. Even more striking, 29 states and the District of Columbia have approved the medical use of botanical cannabis, with 17 more having cannabis extract laws in place. This doesn’t just save lives; it also saves money.

In two studies, we find substantial reductions in a broad array of prescription spending for both Medicare and Medicaid in states that have medical cannabis laws in effect. Medicare and Medicaid don’t cover cannabis, but it nevertheless appears to substitute for many prescription drugs that the programs do cover. Nationally, the savings could be in the billions of dollars across the two programs if all states would adopt medical cannabis laws.

States benefit directly. Our work on Medicaid spending shows that they saved money — as much as $98 million in the case of California in 2014 — when they implemented medical cannabis laws in an environment in which the federal government took a hands-off attitude.

[Yes, pot should be legal. But it shouldn’t be sold for a profit.]

And it’s not just about savings: Cannabis generates substantial economic benefits as well. In 2016, Colorado saw the cannabis industry grow to about $1.3 billion in sales. Colorado levies substantial taxes on cannabis; as a consequence, it generated almost $200 million in tax revenue. Recent estimates suggest that states will collect nearly $655 million in tax revenue from cannabis sales nationwide. Not only are those direct contributions to stressed state budgets, but those taxes represent tens of thousands of jobs and the associated economic activity. At least four state governors recently wrote Sessions to ask him to let states pursue their own policies without federal interference.

Because state budgets would suffer if Sessions reversed the current federal position, state attorneys general would have standing to sue the Justice Department to force Sessions to actually implement the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, which insists that a drug can be listed as Schedule I only if there is “no currently accepted medical use.” The January NAS report, recent revisions to the NIDA position, and literally hundreds of peer-reviewed clinical research articles make clear that cannabis has many medical uses. This, finally, could end conflicts between state medical cannabis laws and federal law: Physicians could legally prescribe cannabis and patients could get medical supervision for their care. (Of course, states would still be free to restrict access to medical cannabis if they chose to do so.)

If Sessions does target cannabis as part of his new war on drugs, there is one final reason to believe the states would win and he would lose. The American people want access to medical cannabis. The most recent Quinnipiac Poll found that 94 percent of Americans support medical access when directed by a physician (including 96 percent of Democrats and 90 percent of Republicans). That poll found 73 percent of respondents oppose enforcing federal cannabis laws against state laws.

Nearly three-quarters of the U.S. population lives in states that have legalized medical cannabis, and states have powerful incentives to preserve their laws. There is almost universal popular opinion in favor of the availability of medical cannabis. The tide has already turned.

 

Booked! Trump, staffers who cried Wolff and a week of fire and fury

When the Guardian published extracts of Fire and Fury, Washington was rocked. Now many are questioning the president’s chances of staying in the job

Janaury 7, 2018

by David Smith and Lauren Gambino in Washington

The Guardian

Portraits of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt loomed watchfully. Five US senators with decades of collective experience stood in deference at their chairs. Donald Trump was about to enter the room, a prospect that assures a frisson of unpredictability.

The president strode in, shook hands with Chuck Grassley and patted Lindsey Graham on the back. Graham playfully punched the air.

“Lindsey used to be a great enemy of mine,” Trump told the gathering when all were seated a few minutes later, “and now he’s a great friend of mine.”

The senator for South Carolina shifted awkwardly in his chair and grinned: “I like me too, so we have something in common.” There was a ripple of laughter.

Later, when 71-year-old Trump turned to Senator James Lankford and called him “Tom”, everyone pretended to ignore it.

Here in the elegantly appointed Roosevelt Room, cocooned in the West Wing as if in a wartime bunker, Trump and the loyalists who lavished praise on his leadership could maintain the pretence of business as usual. But outside, political fires were burning. The White House had been hit by a bombshell book that portrayed it as a hive of discord, dysfunction and farce, and the president himself as ignorant, capricious and clinically unfit for the office once occupied by the Roosevelts.

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff, a devastating fly-on-the-wall account of life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, has stirred speculation over the mental health of the man who began the week boasting to the world of the size of his nuclear button. “His stability,” Carl Bernstein, a veteran Washington Post reporter best known for his work on the Watergate scandal, told CNN. “That’s really what this book is about.”

Wolff, who parked himself for long hours on a West Wing sofa, says he interviewed more than 200 people in Trump’s inner and outer orbit and they reached a joint conclusion. “They all say, ‘He is like a child,’ and what they mean by that is he has a need for immediate gratification,” the author told NBC on Friday. “It’s all about him.”

On Saturday, he spoke to the BBC. “I think one of the interesting effects of the book so far is a very clear ‘emperor has no clothes’ effect,” Wolff said.

“The story that I have told seems to present this presidency in such a way that it says he can’t do his job.”

‘Treasonous’ and ‘unpatriotic’

The New Year had barely rubbed the sleep from its eyes when, on Wednesday morning, the Guardian published excerpts of Wolff’s book a week ahead of its scheduled publication. It vividly depicted chaos and conflict as a default setting in the administration, even worse than many already suspected. At the centre of the palace intrigue was Steve Bannon, the hardline nationalist who helped put Trump in the White House.

Bannon, former chief strategist, had spilled the beans to Wolff with stunning candour. He described the decision by Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, to meet a group of Russians at Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”. He predicted that the continuing investigation into alleged collusion with Moscow would run and run: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.” And he called Trump’s daughter Ivanka “as dumb as brick”.

Bannon was not alone in his unflattering verdict. The book also reported that Rupert Murdoch once mocked Trump as “a fucking idiot” over his incoherent views on immigration policy, while Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire who is one of the president’s oldest associates, allegedly told a friend: “He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid.” (Barrack has since denied this.)

Other claims by Wolff include Melania Trump’s reaction to an election win that her husband and his team thought impossible – she was “in tears – and not of joy”; the couple’s preference for separate bedrooms; and Trump’s habit of going to bed with a cheeseburger at 6.30pm, watching three TV screens and making phone calls. The president reprimands housekeeping staff “for picking up his shirt from the floor” and “imposed a set of new rules: Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush”. His paranoia about being poisoned leads him to turn up without warning at McDonald’s, according to the book, which Trump has branded “boring and untruthful”.

The barrage of damning revelations caught the White House off guard. The Washington Post reported: “Trump spent much of the day raging about the book to top aides, officials and advisers said … As he fumed, some aides were still frantically searching for a copy of the book, and even senior aides like [Hope] Hicks had not seen it by the afternoon, officials said.”

Said by officials to be “disgusted” and “furious”, Trump launched an abortive legal attempt to block the book, which doubtless boosted sales, and wasted little time in brutally disavowing Bannon. Usually he is content to hammer foes with a vituperative tweet – not this time. The White House released a bilious 266-word statement that played down Bannon’s role in Trump’s electoral success and declared: “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

It was an ugly, very public political divorce, the end of a relationship that had transfixed the political world. In August 2015, Bannon, a former naval officer, investment banker and film-maker, boasted that he had turned the rightwing website Breitbart News into “Trump Central” and joked that he was the candidate’s hidden “campaign manager”, the New York Times reported. He hosted Trump for friendly radio interviews and, in August 2016, took over as chief executive of his long-shot presidential campaign.

The scruffy, unshaven Bannon came to personify Trump’s darkest, nativist impulses on immigration, building a border wall and threatening a trade war; he fanned the flames of “America first”, white nationalism and a blow-everything-up philosophy. In a November 2016 interview with Wolff for the Hollywood Reporter, the liberal bete noire boasted of his influence, declaring with relish: “I am Thomas Cromwell in the court of the Tudors.” It was grimly prophetic – Cromwell was eventually executed on the king’s orders.

‘Sloppy Steve’Bannon made two fatal mistakes. One was overreach: he featured on the cover of Time magazine, was portrayed as more powerful than Trump on Saturday Night Live and was dubbed “President Bannon”, all bound to infuriate the Trump ego. He also displayed visceral hatred for Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, chronicled by Wolff in lurid detail. After seven months, he was ousted as chief strategist and returned to his perch as executive chairman of Breitbart.

He reportedly continued to speak to Trump by phone; officials say the last such conversation happened in early December. Around the same time, the Bannon-endorsed Roy Moore – accused of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls – lost a US Senate special election in the Republican stronghold of Alabama, casting doubt on Bannon’s so-called strategic genius.

Now, Bannon has not only lost Trump. Soon after, he lost his patron Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire Republican donor, who turned off the financial tap. If, as is speculated, he loses Breitbart too, he could be banished to the political wilderness. Reader comments on Breitbart’s site seemed overwhelmingly supportive of the president. The alt-right, of which Bannon was once the rock star, appeared to be uniting around Trump.

In a tweet on Friday night, Trump said Bannon “cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”

But Kurt Bardella, a political commentator and former Breitbart spokesman, predicted that Bannon may prove difficult to oust from the organisation, and may yet use it as a platform to get back into the president’s good graces. “If there’s one thing we know about Donald Trump it’s that he’s susceptible to being sucked up to,” Bardella said. “The ego of Trump would love nothing more than a humbled Steve Bannon coming grovelling for his forgiveness. He may have imagined just that scenario.”

On Thursday, Bannon called Trump a “great man”, but reconciliation still seems a long way off. His demise has been embraced by the Republican establishment, which had feared an insurgent movement by Bannon-backed candidates with an “America first” agenda ahead of November’s midterm elections. Recently, Bannon warned the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell: “You’re like a deer that’s been shot, you’re just going to bleed out, brother.” After the White House released Trump’s statement denouncing Bannon as a self-aggrandising hanger-on who had “lost his mind”, McConnell’s campaign account tweeted a gif of the senator with a victorious smirk forming on his lips.

Bardella said: “Steve Bannon’s crusade for 2018 is over. Instead of Republican versus Republican, the general election between Republicans and Democrats starts now.”

He warned McConnell of a mixed blessing, however: “You may have sidelined Steve Bannon but you still have to deal with Donald Trump. Republicans are going to be responsible for whatever’s going to happen going forward. They’re not going to be able to say that there were no signs of diminished capacity. They’re not going to be looked on kindly by history.”

‘The danger has become imminent’

Wolff’s book has revived swirling speculation about the state of Trump’s mental health and the 25th amendment, which allows a majority of the cabinet and vice-president to remove the president by deeming him “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.

The Trump who emerges from Wolff’s account is chronically incurious, contemptuous of experts and beholden to his gut instincts. “Trump didn’t read,” he writes. “He didn’t really even skim … He could read headlines and articles about himself, or at least headlines on articles about himself, and the gossip squibs on the New York Post’s Page Six.” Some allies tried to explain this way as an attribute of his populism. “He was postliterate – total television.”

In another passage, Wolff recounts how Trump is repeating himself with greater frequency. Whereas he used to repeat, “word-for-word and expression-for-expression”, the same three stories every 30 minutes, now it is within 10 minutes. And in another anecdote, he wrote in a column for the Hollywood Reporter: “At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognise a succession of old friends.”

Bandy Lee, an assistant clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine, briefed a dozen members of Congress last month on the potential risks associated with the president’s behavior. Lee said this week she and other psychiatrists were speaking out because they feel “the danger has become imminent”.

Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin, who attended Lee’s presentation and has proposed legislation to create a commission that would determine whether the president is mentally fit for office, said Trump’s behaviour was “increasingly delusional”. He told CNN: “It’s a very dangerous and unstable situation as a number of Republican senators have themselves observed”. No Republican in Congress has yet called publicly for an evaluation of Trump’s mental state.

Chris Ruddy, a longtime friend of Trump, believes the president has attention deficit disorder. “He’s easily bored,” he told the Observer. “He likes moving around a lot of topics and asking a lot of questions. He’s so smart, he’s easily bored. It’s a big leap to say he’s psychologically unfit for office.”

Ruddy said he saw Trump several times over the Christmas holidays. “I think he’s mentally fit. I didn’t see anything untoward. His conversation was consistent with any time I’ve known him. He seemed to recognise everyone around us. I brought a New York Times journalist, Michael Schmidt, to meet him and at first he didn’t recognise him but, when he did double take, he realised who it was.”

He added: “I would say Donald Trump’s mental acuity in remembering faces and information is much higher than average.”

Ruddy, chief executive of the conservative Newsmax Media, accused liberals of trying to use the issue to overturn the 2016 presidential election result. “It’s a highly politicised time and they’re trying to weaponise psychology and psychiatry. It makes no sense.”

Trump made a similar argument in extraordinary tweets from 7.19am on Saturday, accusing Democrats and the mainstream media of “taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook”. Reagan, whose record Trump broke as the oldest person to be elected president, came under scrutiny from opponents for forgetfulness and contradicting himself. Five years after leaving office, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

In comments unlikely to have the desired effect of quelling speculation over his own health of mind, Trump continued: “Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart… I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star…. to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”

Debate over a president’s erratic behaviour often invites comparisons with Britain’s King George III. But Wolff’s portrayal of a man prone to wild mood swings, liable to call someone a friend one moment, an enemy the next, is also redolent of actor Forest Whitaker’s portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in the film The Last King of Scotland.

“You’re a child,” his despairing doctor tells him. “You have the mind and ego of an angry, spoiled, uneducated child. And that’s what makes you so fucking scary.”

 

In Clash Between California and Trump, It’s One America Versus Another

January 7, 2018

by Tim Arango

The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — When drivers entered California recently from the borders with Arizona and Nevada, they were greeted with  signs welcoming them to an “official sanctuary state” that is home to “felons” and “illegals.” It was a prank, but the message was clear: By entering California, they might as well have been entering foreign territory.

And in many ways it feels like that these days, as the growing divide between California and the Trump administration erupted this past week over a dizzying range of flash points, from immigration to taxes to recreational marijuana use.

What had been a rhetorical battle between a liberal state and a conservative administration is now a full-fledged fight.

Just as Californians were enjoying their first days of legal pot smoking, the Trump administration moved to enforce federal laws against the drug. On the same day, the federal government said it would expand offshore oil drilling, which California’s Senate leader called an assault on “our pristine coastline.”

When President Trump signed a law that would raise the tax bills of many Californians by restricting deductions, lawmakers in this state proposed a creative end-around — essentially making state taxes charitable contributions, and fully deductible. And California’s refusal to help federal agents deport undocumented immigrants prompted one administration official to suggest that state politicians should be arrested.

The clash between California and Mr. Trump and his supporters — between one America and another — began the morning after he won the presidency, when Kevin de León, the State Senate leader, and his counterpart in the Assembly, Anthony Rendon, said they “woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land.”

Since then the fight has metastasized into what could be the greatest contest over values between a White House and a state since the 1950s and 1960s, when the federal government moved to end segregation and expand civil rights.

Back then, of course, the ideologies and values at issue were reversed, as conservative Southerners, under the banner of states’ rights, fought violently to uphold white supremacy. In these times it is liberal California making the case for states’ rights, traditionally a Republican position.

“It seems like every day brings a new point of contention between two very different types of leadership,” said Jim Newton, a lecturer at the University of California, Los Angeles.

And it does not end there: New laws that went into effect on Jan. 1 in California raised the minimum wage, allowed parents to withhold gender on birth certificates and strengthened what were already some of the toughest gun laws in the country by restricting ammunition sales and assault weapons, and barring school officials from carrying concealed weapons at work. Taken together, the measures are the surest signs yet of how California is setting itself apart from Washington — and many parts of America, too.

Mr. de León, along with almost the entire leadership of California, has been a bulwark against the Trump administration. Mr. de León introduced the so-called sanctuary state legislation — the California Values Act — that restricts state authorities from cooperating with federal immigration agents, and places limits on agents entering schools, churches, hospitals or courthouses to detain undocumented immigrants. The law went into effect Jan. 1, provoking a prankster — presumably a Trump supporter — to put up those highway signs, and setting off a war of words between California and the administration.

The state should “hold on tight,” said Thomas Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in an interview on Fox News last week.

“They are about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers,” he said. “If the politicians in California don’t want to protect their communities, then ICE will.”

Mr. Homan went on to assail politicians who support the sanctuary policy, suggesting they should be arrested.

Darrell Steinberg, the mayor of Sacramento, California’s capital, reacted angrily on Wednesday, saying on Twitter that “they certainly know where to find me.”

Also this week, Mr. de León introduced legislation to limit the impact of the new tax bill on Californians by essentially allowing residents to pay their state taxes in the form of a charitable contribution, which could then be deducted when filing federal income tax.

Mr. de León also said he was working with Eric H. Holder Jr., an attorney general under President Barack Obama, to push back against attempts to enforce federal marijuana law, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he would allow federal prosecutors to do.

“Whether Jeff Sessions likes cannabis is not the question,” Mr. de León said. “The people of California voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana for recreational use.”

For his part, Mr. Trump is the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower to not take a trip to California in his first calendar year in office, not even to visit his golf course in Rancho Palos Verdes, south of Los Angeles, or a mansion he owns in Beverly Hills, or to tour the vast damage left in the wake of a series of wildfires. By contrast, he has made multiple trips to other states hit by natural disasters, including Texas and Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

In California, every state leader is a Democrat, including the governor and the leaders of the State Senate and Assembly. Of the state’s 53 members in Congress, only 14 are Republicans, and analysts believe several of them are in jeopardy of losing their seats to Democrats in next year’s midterm elections because of opposition in California to Mr. Trump.

Still, not every Californian is lining up to join the opposition. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House majority leader, has stood firm with the president, was a strong supporter of the tax bill, and has said he believes there is still an opportunity for Democrats and the administration to come together, particularly on immigration. In an interview with Fox News on Friday, he said, “I think there is a plan for securing the border, for dealing with chain migration.” He added, “I think there is a common ground that both sides can get to.”

But California’s diversity — 40 percent Latino, and with an estimated 2.3 million undocumented workers, according to a Pew Research Center survey — is regarded by many people here as a powerful counternarrative to the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies and the ugly racial incidents and outbursts of white supremacy that have surfaced during his presidency in places like Charlottesville, Va.

Beyond demographics and politics, charting its own course is part of the identity of California. “We are the frontier,” said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political scientist at the University of Southern California. “Beyond us, there’s nothing but ocean.”

California is not the only liberal state standing up to the Trump administration. But as the most populous state, with close to 40 million people — if it were a country it would be the world’s sixth largest economy, sandwiched between Britain and France — California has been energized in the age of Trump to take the lead in opposing what many here believe is a depressing reversal of American progress.

“California has distinguished itself from the federal government for a long time,” said Elizabeth Ashford, a political consultant who has worked for Gov. Jerry Brown, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senator Kamala Harris. “Certainly Arnold spent a lot of time talking about California as almost a nation-state. And many Californians feel that way.”

She continued, “For Californians and California there’s always this concept of a Golden State, a model of what a state can be and achieve.” These days, with the country roiled by a resurgence in white supremacy and nasty fights over immigration and diversity, essentially a battle over American identity, she said, “there are sharp distinctions that many Californians are drawing between us and them.”

Those distinctions may become sharper, as a generational shift in California Democratic politics, driven by leaders like Mr. de León, could tilt the state further to the left. Mr. de León, 51, is mounting a primary challenge to Senator Dianne Feinstein, 84, by positioning himself more to the left — and more stridently opposed to the president — than his rival.

Ordinary Californians have found other ways to push back.

One of them is Andrew Sturm, a graduate student in visual arts at the University of California, San Diego. Last year, Mr. Sturm was with a friend in Tijuana, Mexico, at a spot near the border where prototypes of Mr. Trump’s planned wall had been positioned.

“We were thinking, man, these things look like drive-in movie screens,” he said. “We were thinking about how we could do something with them.”

The result was a display of political art, in the form of light. One evening this fall at dusk, Mr. Sturm and other activists, working from the Mexican side of the border, erected theater lights and used stencils to project images onto the prototypes — of a ladder, of the Statue of Liberty.

“I felt kind of sick as a U.S. citizen,” he said, referring to Mr. Trump’s immigration policies. “I didn’t want folks in Mexico to think this is how we all feel.”

Jennifer Medina contributed reporting.

 

Bitcoin crashing & housing bubbles popping – Deutsche Bank’s biggest risks in 2018

January 7, 2018

RT

Investors should get ready for potential risks this year, warns Deutsche Bank. They include stock market corrections, the collapse of cryptocurrencies and housing bubbles.

With national central banks pursuing active policies pegged to the whole range of internal and external drivers, the geopolitical environment is continually changing with one concern being replaced by others.

Domestic policies carried out by governments across the world commonly have a significant impact on the whole planet, and new phenomena such as a crash in the crypto-market might bring down real companies.

That’s why the number of risks worth worrying about is growing, even when the Volatility Index VIX is steadily falling. Deutsche Bank’s chief international economist Torsten Slok has circulated a list of 30 risks for markets in 2018.

“They are in random order and are both upside risks and downside risks,” the analyst writes in a note. “Think of them not only as potential VIX-boosters but also as potential sources of faster or slower growth than what we have in our baseline forecast.”

In the list there’s something for everyone: a bitcoin crash, North Korea test launches ICBMs, the Robert Mueller investigation and an ongoing growth of inequality in the US.

 

 

10 words and phrases we rarely used before Trump

January 7, 2018

by Devan Cole

BBC News

President Donald Trump has brought an unusual rhetorical style to his first 12 months in office, just as he did on the campaign trail. Has he also in a small way influenced our vocabulary?

It is too early to say what his legacy will be on language, says Ben Zimmer, a lexicographer who writes a column for The Wall Street Journal.

But the president is already changing how politicians communicate.

“Particularly fiery rhetoric will be seen as more accessible because Trump has normalised that,” he says.

Some words and phrases invented or popularised by him and his aides are now firmly embedded in common usage.

  1. MAGA

The president’s campaign slogan became seemingly ubiquitous after he started selling red trucker hats emblazoned with it.

Often abbreviated to “MAGA”, it was first uttered by him at a summit in April 2014, according to Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign chairman.

Trump was so confident in the efficacy of the slogan that in the days preceding his inauguration, he ordered lawyers to trademark “Keep America Great!” for his 2020 re-election campaign.

MAGA has become an “emblematic representation of Trump’s populism,” says Zimmer.

  1. Sad!

The president has used his Twitter savvy to popularise a particular type of tweet, berating someone and then ending with “sad”, followed by an exclamation mark.

It is sometimes given extra emphasis with capital letters.

This trademark sign-off has become something of a joke among political commentators and late-night comedy hosts.

Zimmer believes Trump revels in such attention to his tweets.

Trump’s Twitter style was shaped by the 140-character limit, he notes, which means the president has tailored his political rhetoric accordingly.

“[Sad!] provided a final punctuation mark.”

Report

  1. Bigly – or is it big-league?

Trump left millions of Americans wondering what he meant when discussing tax during his first debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“I’m going to cut taxes bigly [big league] and you’re going to raise taxes bigly [big league].”

Trump’s team never confirmed which, but many commentators assumed it was “big-league” because he had used it several times before.

  • Did Donald Trump use the word ‘bigly’?
  1. Braggadocious

Trump’s word choices confused viewers more than once during that debate.

When discussing his wealth and business dealings, Trump said he did not want to sound “braggadocious”.

In a statement, Merriam-Webster said that while Trump has used the word before, it “is not common enough to merit an entry in our dictionary”.

They went on to say the word is thought to have come from “braggadocio” which is an older term defined as “the annoying or exaggerated talk of someone who is trying to sound very proud or brave”.

  1. Covfefe

Americans were both puzzled and amused in May 2017 after seeing a tweet just after midnight by President Trump that contained the bizarre and never-before-heard word.

“Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” the tweet said.

It even left Merriam-Webster – which did not confirm the authenticity of the word – scratching their head.

By 6am, Trump had deleted the tweet and replaced it with an equally amusing one: “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’ ??? Enjoy!”

Spokesman Sean Spicer added to the mystery when he said: “The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.”

It is now widely thought he meant to tweet the word coverage.

  1. Alternative facts

Kellyanne Conway, the president’s former campaign manager and current White House counsellor, coined this term during an on-camera interview with NBC.

Conway was defending false statements made by Sean Spicer about inauguration crowd sizes.

But she received a wave of criticism for attempting to rationalise what her critics saw as blatant lies.

However, her catchy phrase soon caught on and gained popularity as a hashtag on Twitter where users routinely used it to describe statements made by Trump and his team that they saw as falsehoods.

  • Why the row about ‘alternative facts’?
  1. Front-stabber

Trump’s former communications director Anthony Scaramucci liked to talk about his straight-talking New York upbringing.

“Where I grew up, we’re front stabbers,” he told the BBC, in an attempt to differentiate himself from the Washington types who “take a shiv or a machete and stab you in the back”.

The term was picked up by comedian Stephen Colbert in a sketch that mocked Scaramucci after he was fired.

Zimmer says that such language mirrors that of Trump himself.

“People in the Trump orbit are in some ways looking to parrot the way he presents things,” he said.

  1. Lock her up

This became a favourite chant among Trump supporters at his rallies.

It was a reference to their belief that Hillary Clinton should be jailed for her use of a private email server while secretary of state.But it came back to haunt the president’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

He led such chants at the Republican convention but then had to endure them himself as he walked into court shortly before pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.

  1. Fake news

President Trump has tweeted “fake news” 103 times.

The term first made its way into the spotlight during the 2016 election, when fabricated news stories were spread on social media with the intention of swaying voters and fuelling racial tension.

Trump started using it after that, to describe news organisations and stories that paint him in a negative light.

His most notable use of the term came during a tetchy exchange with CNN at a press conference.

“I’m not going to give you a question. You’re fake news,” Trump said to their White House correspondent.

Zimmer says it’s a term that has been so successful it has even been picked up by other world leaders.

“Very often, it comes down to these very punchy labels that he applies to things which is often caricaturing people or organisations.”

  1. Drain the swamp

Late in the election campaign, Mr Trump used the expression as a way of saying that he planned to replace career politicians in Washington with fresh faces who would provide much-needed reform to federal government.

The phrase was chanted at rallies by his supporters as a way to contrast their candidate, a man who had never been elected to office, with opponent Hillary Clinton, a long-time politician.

He was not the first to use it, but he has popularised it.

Draining swamps used to be a way of ridding them of mosquitoes but it was reportedly first used as a political metaphor early in the 20th Century.

More recently, President Ronald Reagan – a hero of Mr Trump’s – invoked it to illuminate his promise to shrink government bureaucracy.

Some of the current president’s critics accuse him of “filling the swamp” because he appointed Wall Street titans to posts in his administration.

 

 

 

 

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