The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. February 8, 2017: “In searching daily for informative news, I am struck by the vicious, orchestrated media hatred of Donald Trump.
Such media outlets at the Guardian, Reuters, the New York Times, the Washington Post and their satellites spew out reams of daily spite.
That all of this is controlled is beyond a doubt and the same ones who pull the media strings also pay professional rioters to smash windows, burn cars and threaten active revolution and the murder of the President.
None of this is secret but can be found on the Internet on a daily basis.
That much of this is illegal means nothing to the Puppet Master and sooner, rather than later, the official retaliation will come.
Hopefully before we see the California lunatics try to secede or someone sets off a bomb in the visitor’s gallery of Congress.
Much sooner, hopefully.”
Table of Contents
- Russia’s Lavrov praises Trump’s approach on Ukraine
- Suspect in Louvre attack breaks his silence
- Majority of Europeans say Muslim immigration should be stopped – poll February 8, 2017
- Trump at the Crossroads
- Legal fight vowed after final Dakota pipeline construction endorsed
- German intel finds no proof of Russian ‘disinformation ops’ against Berlin – govt source
- Smallpox: Disease as a Weapon
- A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months
- Abrupt Sea Level Rise Looms As Increasingly Realistic Threat
- The Great Majority of Jews Today Have No Historical or Ethnic Relationship to Palestine
- United Nations, EU condemn Israel legalizing settlements on Palestinian land
- Scottish parliament votes overwhelmingly against Brexit bill
Russia’s Lavrov praises Trump’s approach on Ukraine
February 7, 2017
by Jack Stubbs
Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday praised U.S. President Donald Trump’s approach to the Ukraine crisis, saying it marked a big improvement from that of his predecessor Barack Obama, in comments likely to worry Kiev.
Kiev’s forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine for nearly three years in a conflict in which around 10,000 people have been killed. Hostilities have flared anew in the past week, putting further pressure on a fragile two-year ceasefire.
Kiev fears that Trump, who has promised to rebuild frayed ties with Moscow, could lift sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the conflict and its 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
“(Trump) said he wants to get to grips with everything in Ukraine and understand how to behave. This, I already believe, is a big and qualitative shift compared to the Obama’s administration,” TASS news agency quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.
Lavrov said the United States now understood that restoring Kiev’s control over eastern Ukraine would not solve all the problems in the country, TASS reported.
“If someone is hoping that all the problems in Ukraine can simply be solved by restoring the control of the current regime in Donbass, that is Utopia,” Lavrov said.
“Everyone understands that, and in Europe, including Paris, Berlin and Brussels. And Washington also understands that, they began to understand it even under the previous administration.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone earlier on Tuesday and urged him to use his influence on the separatists in eastern Ukraine to stop the violence there.
Russia’s comments on Trump are closely scrutinised in the United States, where U.S. intelligence agencies have accused Moscow of having sponsored computer hacking to help Trump win office. The Kremin denies the allegations.
(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Gareth Jones)
Suspect in Louvre attack breaks his silence
The man who allegedly attacked security guards at the Paris museum has confirmed his identity to investigators. After initially refusing to cooperate, the 29-year-old Egyptian is now answering police questions.
February 7, 2017
The suspect in the attack on guards of the Louvre Museum in Paris has started talking to investigators and confirmed his suspected identity, sources told several news agencies on Tuesday.
The man confirmed that he is in fact the 29-year old Egyptian police assumed he was. Though the man is now cooperating with officials, it is not yet known why the suspect carried out the attack, or whether he acted by himself or followed orders.
The man allegedly attacked four soldiers who where guarding the Louvre art museum in Paris last Friday with two machetes while shouting “Allahu akbar” (“God is the greatest” in Arabic). The suspect was severely injured when a guard fired at him in self-defense, according to the French Interior Ministry, while one soldier sustained slight injuries. After he was stabilized at a hospital, the alleged attackerinitially refused to answer questionsby police.
The man is believed to have entered France on a flight from Dubai eight days before the attack. He reportedly purchased the two machetes at gun store in the French capital two days after arriving.
In the past two years, France has been plagued by several terror attacks that have cost a total of 238 lives. The country has officially been in a state of emergency since November 2015, when 130 people died in a series of attacks in Paris. The threat of terrorism will likely play an important role in the upcoming presidential election in April and May – far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has surged in part due to her promises to restore law and order in France.
Majority of Europeans say Muslim immigration should be stopped – poll
February 8, 2017
More than 55 percent of Europeans say that immigration from Muslim-majority countries should be stopped, a poll from a London-based think tank says.
The poll, carried out by the Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House, a group which analyzes major international issues and current affairs, was released on Tuesday.
More than 10,000 people from 10 European states took part in the survey. The respondents were given the following statement: “All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped.”
“Overall, across all 10 of the European countries an average of 55 percent agreed that all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped, 25 percent neither agreed nor disagreed and 20 percent disagreed,” the think tank said, adding that in no country “did the percentage that disagreed surpass 32 percent.”
The group says that the research “points to significant and widespread levels of public anxiety over immigration from mainly Muslim states.”
The countries most opposed to further immigration were Austria, Poland, Hungary, France, Belgium, Germany, and Greece, “despite these countries having very different sized resident Muslim populations,” they said.
“With the exception of Poland, these countries have either been at the centre of the refugee crisis or experienced terrorist attacks in recent years.”
According to the poll, the opposition to Muslim immigration is “especially intense among retired, older age cohorts while those aged below 30 are notably less opposed.”
Also, those with less education display more negative attitudes towards Muslims: “Of those with secondary level qualifications, 59 percent opposed further Muslim immigration. By contrast, less than half of all degree holders (48 percent) supported further migration curbs.”
The authors of the survey said that the poll was carried out prior to the implementation of US President Donald Trump’s controversial ‘Muslim ban.’
“Our results are striking and sobering. They suggest that public opposition to any further migration from predominantly Muslim states is by no means confined to Trump’s electorate in the US but is fairly widespread.”
This is not the first poll which indicates that EU citizens tend to have negative attitudes towards Muslims. In July 2015, a survey from the Pew Research Center, an American think tank, revealed that many Europeans rate Muslims “unfavorably.” The highest opposition towards Muslims was recorded in Hungary (72 percent), Italy (69 percent) and Poland (66 percent).
Trump at the Crossroads
Are the neocons slithering into the new administration?
February 8, 2017
by Justin Raimondo,
Less than three weeks into the presidency of Donald J. Trump, there are several troubling signs that the new administration is abandoning its foreign policy mandate and going off the rails.
First and foremost is the saber-rattling aimed at Iran. The ostensible reason for this is Tehran’s testing of mid-range ballistic missiles which, we are told, are “nuclear capable.” But of course any and all ballistic missile systems can be modified to carry nuclear warheads, and since Iran is complying with the JCPOA agreed to by Tehran and the Western powers, this is just rhetorical noise generated for home consumption. Accusations by the Trump administration that the tests violate a UN resolution are inaccurate: part of the Iran deal was a revision of an earlier UN resolution that forbade such tests to read that the international body merely “calls on” the Iranians to refrain from such activities. The Obama administration opposed this, but received no backing from our European “allies.” So the tests are “legal,” albeit considered provocative.
And yet, as Kelsey Davenport and Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association point out: “Given the tensions between Tehran and its neighbors, it is extremely unlikely that Iran will stop developing its ballistic missile capabilities when countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel field ballistic missiles capable of targeting Iran.” Indeed, the Saudis have been procuring nuclear capable ballistic missiles from China since the 1980s, more recently with CIA approval. And US arms sales to the Saudis have buttressed their military, enabling the Kingdom’s invasion of Yemen – the first such action in the region since Saddam Hussein marched into Kuwait in the early 1990s. All this gives heft to Tehran’s contention that their missile tests are strictly defensive.
The real epicenter of the gathering storm is Yemen, where the Saudis have intervened in the ongoing civil war at the “invitation” of a “President” with no popular support (and whose “election” was engineered in a contest with only one candidate). The insurgent Houthis – northern-based adherents of a dissident sect of Shia Islam – have taken over most of the country, except those areas in the southeast controlled by a resurgent al-Qaeda. It is a conflict grounded in local issues, but the Saudis and our own War Party have internationalized it to such an extent that all mentions of the Houthis in Western media are preceded by the phrase “Iranian-backed” – although no evidence is ever presented to support this claim. In fact, such weapons as the Houthis possess were looted from Yemeni government warehouses when the regime was toppled and large sections of the military went over to the rebels. The reality is that the Houthis are theologically opposed to their Iranian Shi’ite counterparts, an important point that Western journalists routinely overlook, due perhaps to their ignorance of – and contempt for – religion in general.
As the Saudis bombed civilian targets – in one incident targeting a funeral, 140 people were killed – the Obama administration, which had been aiding Riyadh with arms and intelligence, began to pull away from the conflict – but it was too late. In October, Houthi missiles reportedly targeted US ships at the mouth of the Red Sea, and now American officials are claiming that a suicide attack on a Saudi ship was actually meant to target a US ship – a dubious claim, to be sure. This has now morphed into accusations by the Trump administration that the Iranians are targeting US ships in the region.
The US was dragged into the Yemen war by the Obama administration in 2015, and started playing an active role – rather than just passively aiding the Saudis’ murderous assault – when we took out mobile Houthi radar installations in retaliation for the October incidents. This is the context of the Trump administration’s fulminations, with Trump’s national security advisor Mike Flynn putting Iran “on notice” that the US is not going to “sit idly by.” This was followed by the imposition of more sanctions on Iran, and the arrival of the USS Cole to the area, with more on the way. Signaling trouble on the horizon,Trump tweeted on Friday: “Iran is playing with fire – they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!”
The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, answered Trump in a speech to Iranian military officials this [Tuesday] morning:
“The new U.S. president says Iran should thank Obama! Why?! Should we thank him for [creating] ISIS, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Syria, or the blatant support for the 2009 sedition in Iran?”
Mike Flynn’s ears must have burned when he got wind of this, for the Ayatollah’s accusation that Obama “created ISIS” echo his own contention that the previous administration pursued a policy deliberately aiding and succorin the forces that eventually were consolidated in the Islamic State. In an interview with al-Jazeera, Flynn said:
“Al-Jazeera: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?
Flynn: I think the administration.
Al-Jazeera: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?
Flynn: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.
Al-Jazeera: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?
Flynn: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.”
This underscores the big contradiction at the core of the administration’s anti-Iranian fixation. They denounce Iran as the “number one” supporter of “terrorism,” but the reality is that the Iranians are fighting – and dying – in Syria in battle against ISIS. This includes Tehran’s regional proxy, Hezbollah. And in Yemen, it is the Houthis, not the Saudis, who are the only force either capable of or interested in taking on al-Qaeda.
The truth is that Moscow and Tehran have been doing the heavy lifting in the battle against the terrorist groups Trump vows to “eradicate.”
Trump’s often-stated desire for a rapprochement with Moscow is the key to blasting open the logjam that has made progress toward peace in the Middle East a distant dream. Just as the Russians served as mediators between Washington and Bashar al-Assad in getting chemical weapons out of Syria, so Putin could play the same role in de-escalating the developing US-Iranian conflict. A “grand bargain” with Putin need not focus exclusively on Syria and the NATO buildup on Russia’s borders: such a deal would logically lead to the calming of tensions with Iran.
This possibility is less likely, however, if the more aggressive factions within the Trump administration have their way – and these elements will be strengthened and emboldened if Elliott Abrams is appointed Deputy Secretary of State, as rumored.
Abrams is a hardcore neoconservative with a long record as a rabid warmonger – as well as a vicious anti-Trumper, who attacked candidate Trump as lacking character and disdained him for his “complete ignorance” of foreign policy. Although he is not the only prospective appointee – longtime State Department official Paula Dobriansky, who has served under five presidents, is also reportedly in the running – Abrams is being heavily promoted in the media, and is said to be favored by newly-confirmed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
His appointment would turn the State Department into a neocon redoubt and signal that the Trump administration could very well be on its way to betraying candidate Trump’s pledge to seek out “new voices” in the foreign policy realm. Abrams, whose career started in the 1970s as an aide to Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson (D-Boeing), is the voice of the same neoconservative sect that drove the Bush administration to rampage across the Middle East and bring about the biggest military-diplomatic disaster in our recent history.
As I have said before, Trump’s version of American nationalism is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, there is the “isolationist” “America first” aspect, which led him to condemn the Iraq war, question the utility of NATO, and criticize the liberal internationalist interventionism of the Obama administration in Syria and Libya. On the other hand, Trumpian nationalism has a fiercely belligerent aspect, often described as “Jacksonian,” which views any attempt to reach out to old enemies as “appeasement” and too often derides diplomacy as evidence of “weakness.”
As the Trump era commences, there are disturbing signs that the belligerent aspect is trumping – if you’ll pardon the expression – the “isolationist” side of the equation. Yet this is by no means certain: the situation is still in flux, as the factions within the administration position themselves for the inevitable struggle.
Our relationship with Russia is the key to untying the Gordian knot that locks our interventionist foreign policy in place. The efforts by the Democrats and their Republican collaborators in Congress to block any attempts at a “grand bargain,” combined with the neoconservatives’ infiltration of the national security bureaucracy, could throw a roadblock on the path to peace. Our only hope is that the President’s focus on domestic affairs will make him wary of getting bogged down in a foreign policy crisis this early in his administration – and remind him of his pre-election promise:
“Unlike other candidates for the presidency, war and aggression will not be my first instinct. You cannot have a foreign policy without diplomacy. A superpower understands that caution and restraint are really truly signs of strength. Although not in government service, I was totally against the war in Iraq, very proudly, saying for many years that it would destabilize the Middle East. Sadly, I was correct…
“My goal is to establish a foreign policy that will endure for several generations. That’s why I also look and have to look for talented experts with approaches and practical ideas, rather than surrounding myself with those who have perfect résumés but very little to brag about except responsibility for a long history of failed policies and continued losses at war. We have to look to new people.”
That’s right, Mr. President, new people – not Elliott Abrams.
Legal fight vowed after final Dakota pipeline construction endorsed
The US army is to grant final approval to finish the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, despite months-long protests. Native American tribes and climate activists say they will take legal action to stop the line.
February 7, 2017
After being delayed for several months due to public opposition, the $3.8 billion (3.5 billion euro) pipeline is to be granted a final permit. It will tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir that is part of the Missouri River.
The US Army Corps of Engineers filed a court document on Tuesday confirming it would grant the final permission for the 1,885 kilometer (1,170-mile) line that will bring crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale region to Patoka, Illinois and then on to the Gulf of Mexico.
In a statement, the Army said it had completed a review ordered by the Obama administration and saw no reason to delay the project on environmental grounds.
The Army has “notified Congress that it intends to grant an easement for a right-of-way across government land at Lake Oahe Dam and Reservoir, North Dakota,” it said.
Legal repercussions threatened
Within minutes of the filing, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation is adjacent to the line’s route, confirmed it would launch a legal challenge.
Tribal attorney Jan Hasselman said the government “will be held accountable in court.” He said the specifics of the tribe’s challenge were being worked out.
The tribe is worried that a pipeline leak could pollute its drinking water. It believes that other routes should be considered.
Dakota Access Pipeline set for completion
Environmental groups including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and the Center for Biological Diversity immediately denounced the US Army’s decision. They accused US President Donald Trump’s administration of putting corporate profits before long-time residents and the environment.
‘Pipeline is vital’
But Dallas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners, who is building the pipeline, insists it is safe, while politicians in North Dakota are backing its completion, saying it will allow US producers to better compete with Canada by allowing for the cheaper transport of oil.
Over the past few months, thousands of demonstrators have camped in freezing winter temperatures to block the pipeline’s planned route. At times, their rallies led to violent clashes with police as well as demonstrations nationwide.
The protests resulted in the Obama administration’s decision to delay a final permit that would allow construction under the Missouri River.
But President Donald Trump, days after being sworn in, issued an executive order directing the US Army Corps to smooth the path to finishing the line.
German intel finds no proof of Russian ‘disinformation ops’ against Berlin – govt source
February 7, 2017
Following a year-long inquiry, German intelligence agencies have found no reliable evidence of a Russian “disinformation campaign” against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, according to media citing cabinet and security sources.
The German intelligence service (BND) and the counterintelligence agency (BfV) had been searching for evidence of Russian interference in the country’s domestic affairs for nearly a year, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday.
“We have not found any smoking gun,” a cabinet source told the paper.
The inquiry was similar to the US intelligence community’s efforts to attribute the notorious 2016 Democratic National Convention email leak to Russian ‘hacking groups.’
Initially, the secret services planned to release excerpts of their classified inquiry, but given the lack of evidence, the move would make Russian-German relations even more strained, according to the newspaper.
Chancellor Merkel’s office has, however, now directed the intelligence agencies to conduct a new inquiry. Notably, a ‘psychological operations group’ jointly run by the BND and BfV will specifically look at Russian news agencies’ coverage in Germany.
Despite the findings, the German intelligence services maintain that Russia has pursued a “more confrontational course” towards Germany since 2014, and call the coverage of Russian media, including RT Deutsch and Sputnik, “hostile.”
Germany’s intelligence community admits a difference between “excessive or false reporting” and “targeted disinformation,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote.
The revelations do not sit well with previous statements by Bruno Kahl, the head of the BND, who claimed in November last year that his agency had obtained evidence that Russia may have manipulated the vote during the 2016 US election.
He alleged that “Europe, and Germany in particular, is in the focus of these experiments,” adding that German-language internet sites had also been increasingly targeted by so-called ‘troll factories’ distributing targeted misinformation.
“The perpetrators are interested in delegitimizing the democratic process as such, no matter who that subsequently helps,” he said in a rare interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung in November. He also acknowledged that “[finding] an attribution to a state actor is technically difficult.”
Smallpox: Disease as a Weapon
February 7, 2017
by Harry von Johnston. PhD
Several years ago, a person, or persons, unknown, stole active varoila (smallpox) virus from a labratory in Munich, Germany. To date, no one anywhere has been able to identify the thieves or their purpose. No one wants to discuss this but the various international agencies interested in this agree that in all probability it was taken by a very small militant Islamic group and that the purpose would be in set off a smallpox epidemic in Israel. The thieves do not realize that this disease would spread across the globe and the conservative estimate is that enormous numbers of the world’s population would die.
What is it?
Smallpox is a viral infection caused by the variola virus. One of the biggest killers in history, the disease was effectively wiped out in the 1970s by a worldwide vaccination plan.
The incubation period is about 12 days. First symptoms include fever, tiredness and an aching head and back. Over the next few days, a distinctive rash develops, usually on the face, legs and arms.
Lesions then appear, which form crusts and fall away within a few weeks. Death occurs in up to 35% of cases.
How is it spread?
Smallpox can be caught by inhaling the virus from an infected person. Sufferers are most infectious during the first week of illness.
In the event of a purposeful attack, the virus could be released in an aerosol, or suicide attackers could deliberately infect themselves. Its stability in air and high infection rate make the smallpox virus potentially very dangerous.
Is there an antidote?
There is a vaccine against smallpox but routine public inoculation ended in the 1970s as incidence of the disease declined. Everyone born before 1972 was vaccinated, but immunity has probably worn off by now.
In people exposed to smallpox, the vaccine can lessen the severity of, or even prevent, illness if given within four days of exposure. The US currently has an emergency supply of the vaccine.
There is no proven treatment for smallpox victims – except supportive therapy to combat the symptoms.
There are two World Health Organisation-approved repositories of variola virus – one at the US Center for Disease Control and the other in Novosibirsk, Russia.
The extent of secret stockpiles in other parts of the world remains unknown, but according to Jane’s Defence, the United States, Iraq and Russia are likely to have the virus.
Smallpox is often cited as the most feared biological weapon. There is no proven treatment, and the virus could race through a population before anyone realizes it has been released.
A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months
February 7, 2017
by Jugal K. Patel
New York Times
A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day.
The crack in Larsen C now reaches over 100 miles in length, and some parts of it are as wide as two miles. The tip of the rift is currently only about 20 miles from reaching the other end of the ice shelf.
Once the crack reaches all the way across the ice shelf, the break will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, according to Project Midas, a research team that has been monitoring the rift since 2014. Because of the amount of stress the crack is placing on the remaining 20 miles of the shelf, the team expects the break soon.
“The iceberg is likely to break free within the next few months,” said Adrian J. Luckman of Swansea University in Wales, who is a lead researcher for Project Midas. “The rift tip has moved from one region of likely softer ice to another, which explains its step-wise progress.”
Ice shelves, which form through runoff from glaciers, float in water and provide structural support to the glaciers that rest on land. When an ice shelf collapses, the glaciers behind it can accelerate toward the ocean. Higher temperatures in the region are also helping to further the ice shelf’s retreat.
If the ice shelf breaks at the crack, Larsen C will be at its smallest size ever recorded.
That would also leave the ice front much closer to the ice shelf’s compressive arch, a line that scientists say is critical for structural support. If the front retreats past that line, scientists say, the northernmost part of the shelf could collapse within months. It could also significantly change the landscape of the Antarctic peninsula.
“At that point in time, the glaciers will react,” Eric J. Rignot, a glaciologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said. “If the ice shelf breaks apart, it will remove a buttressing force on the glaciers that flow into it. The glaciers will feel less resistance to flow, effectively removing a cork in front of them.”
According to Dr. Rignot, the stability of the whole ice shelf is threatened.
“You have these two anchors on the side of Larsen C that play a critical role in holding the ice shelf where it is,” he said. “If the shelf is getting thinner, it will be more breakable and it will lose contact with the ice rises.”
Ice rises are islands that are overriden by the ice shelf, allowing them to shoulder more support of the shelf. Scientists have yet to determine the extent of thinning around the Bawden and Gipps ice rises, though Dr. Rignot noted that the Bawden ice rise was a much more vulnerable anchor.
“We’re not even sure how it’s hanging on there,” he said. “But if you take away Bawden, the whole shelf will feel it.”
The collapse of the Larsen C ice shelf may not sharply affect global sea level rise, but the collapse of other vulnerable ice shelves will.
The Larsen A and B ice shelves disintegrated in 1995 and 2002, though both were drastically smaller than Larsen C. Neither contributed significantly to global sea level rise, however, because they were already floating above water, and the glaciers behind them did not contain a substantial volume of ice.
According to Dr. Rignot, the collapse of Larsen C would add only a tiny amount of water to the global sea level. Of greater concern to scientists is how the collapse of ice shelves can affect the glaciers that flow behind them, because the melting of those glaciers can cause much higher levels of ocean rise. Scientists see the impending Larsen C collapse as a warning that much larger amounts of ice in West Antarctica could be vulnerable.
Abrupt Sea Level Rise Looms As Increasingly Realistic Threat
Ninety-nine percent of the planet’s freshwater ice is locked up in the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps. Now, a growing number of studies are raising the possibility that as those ice sheets melt, sea levels could rise by six feet this century, and far higher in the next, flooding many of the world’s populated coastal areas.
May 5, 2016
by Nicola Jones
Last month in Greenland, more than a tenth of the ice sheet’s surface was melting in the unseasonably warm spring sun, smashing 2010’s record for a thaw so early in the year. In the Antarctic, warm water licking at the base of the continent’s western ice sheet is, in effect, dissolving the cork that holds back the flow of glaciers into the sea; ice is now seeping like wine from a toppled bottle.
The planet’s polar ice is melting fast, and recent satellite data, models, and fieldwork have left scientists sobered by the speed of the sea level rise we should expect over the coming decades. Although researchers have long projected that the planet’s biggest ice sheets and glaciers will wilt in the face of rising temperatures, estimates of the rate of that change keep going up. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out its last report in 2013, the consensus was for under a meter (3.3 feet) of sea level rise by 2100. In just the last few years, at least one modeling study suggests we might need to double that.
Eric Rignot at the University of California, Irvine says that study underscores the possible speed of ice sheet melt and collapse. “Once these processes start to kick in,” he says, “they’re very fast.”
The Earth has seen sudden climate change and rapid sea level rise before. At the end of the planet’s last glaciation, starting about 14,000 years ago, sea levels rose by more than 13 feet a century as the huge North American ice sheet melted. But researchers are hesitant about predicting similarly rapid climate shifts in our future given the huge stakes involved: The rapid collapse of today’s polar ice sheets would erase densely populated parts of our coastlines.
“Today, we’re struggling with 3 millimeters [0.1 inch] per year [of sea level rise],” says Robert DeConto at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, co-author of one of the more sobering new studies. “We’re talking about centimeters per year. That’s really tough. At that point your engineering can’t keep up; you’re down to demolition and rebuilding.”
Antarctica and Greenland hold the overwhelming majority of the world’s ice: Ninety percent of the planet’s freshwater ice is locked up in Antarctica’s ice cap and nine percent in Greenland’s. Today, the ice sheet that’s inarguably melting fastest is Greenland. That giant block of ice, which has the potential to raise global sea levels by 23 feet if it melts in its entirety, is losing some 200 billion tons of ice each year. That rate has doubled from the 1900s to the 2000s.
We are seeing changes in Greenland in all four corners, even in the far north,” says Rignot. Many of the outlet glaciers that flow down fjords into the sea, which were “on the fence” about retreating or advancing over the past decade, are now “starting to fall apart,” he says.
And they’re moving fast. “The flow speeds we talk about today would have been jaw-dropping in the 1990s,” says Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center. Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier dumped ice into the sea at the astonishing rate of 150 feet per day in the summer of 2012. The most dramatic action in Greenland is simply from surface melting, as temperatures there and across the Arctic have soared in the last four decades. In 2012, Greenland lost a record 562 billion tons of ice as more than 90 percent of its surface melted in the summer sun.
Many questions remain about the physics of Greenland’s ice loss, such as whether meltwater gets soaked up by a ‘sponge’ of snow and ice, or trickles down to lubricate the base of the ice sheet and speed its seaward movement. Most modeling work has been about how Greenland’s melt tracks rising air temperatures; far less is known about how warming waters might eat away at the edges of its ice sheet. Rignot is part of a team now launching the Oceans Melting Greenland project (with the intentionally punny acronym OMG) to investigate that. These uncertainties make Rignot think that estimates of Greenland’s melt — contributing as much as 9 inches of global sea level rise by 2100, according to the 2013 IPCC report — have been far too conservative. Assuming that the Greenland ice sheet’s demise “will be slow is wishful thinking,” Rignot says.
But most scientists say there shouldn’t be too many serious surprises about the physics governing Greenland’s ice loss. Although the ice sheet can be expected to steadily melt in the face of rising temperatures, Greenland’s ice cap shouldn’t rapidly collapse, because most of its ice sits safely on rock far above sea level. “Greenland is more predictable and straightforward,” says DeConto.
For fear of rapid, runaway collapse, the research community turns its eyes south.
Antarctica is, for now, losing ice more slowly than Greenland. The latest data from the GRACE project — twin satellites that measure mass using gravity data — say Antarctica is losing about 92 billion tons of ice per year, with that rate having doubled from 2003 to 2014. But Antarctica is vast — 1.5 times the size of the United States, with ice three miles thick in places — and holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by roughly 200 feet.
The sizeable western half of Antarctica holds some of the fastest-warming areas on the planet.
The larger, eastern half lies mostly above sea level and remains very cold; researchers have typically considered its ice stable, though even that view is beginning to change. The sizeable western half of the Antarctic, by contrast, has its base lying below sea level, and holds some of the fastest warming areas on the planet. “You look at West Antarctica and you think: How come it’s still there?” says Rignot.
Warming ocean water licking at the underside of the floating edges of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is eating away at the line where the ice rests on solid rock. Much of the bedrock of the Antarctic slopes downward toward the center of the continent, so as the invading water flows downhill it seeps further and further inland, causing ever-larger chunks of glaciers to flow faster into the sea. This so-called “grounding line” has been eroding inland rapidly, in some parts of West Antarctica at rates of miles per year. In 2014, satellite radar images revealed just how vulnerable five massive glaciers flowing into the Admundsen Sea are from this effect. And a 2015 paper showed that the same thing is happening more slowly to Totten Glacier, one of the biggest glaciers in the east.
Such dramatic processes have been the bane of Antarctic modeling and the reason why scientists have been loathe to put a number on sea level contributions from a melting southern continent. Then in March came a report in Nature that some say represents a step change in our ability to do that. DeConto and David Pollard of Pennsylvania State University put into their ice sheet model two basic phenomena: meltwater trickling down to lubricate glacier flow, and giant walls of ice (created when the ends of glaciers snap off) simply collapsing under their own weight. These new modeling parameters gave DeConto and Pollard a better understanding of past sea level rise events. For the Pliocene era 3 million years ago, for example — when seas were dozens of feet higher than today — older models estimated that a partially melting Antarctic added about 23 feet to global sea level rise. The new model increased Antarctica’s contribution to sea level rise during the Pliocene to 56 feet.
Turning their model to the future, DeConto and Pollard project more than three feet of sea level rise from Antarctica alone by 2100 — assuming growing greenhouse gas emissions that boost the planet’s temperature by about 4 degrees C (7 degrees F). That is far more than the last IPCC estimate in 2013, which projected less than eight inches of sea level rise from a melting Antarctic by 2100, with a possibility for inches more from the dramatic collapse of Antarctic glaciers.
Even DeConto admits that, under the model used in his paper, the timing and pace of Antarctica’s ice loss is “really uncertain” — it could be a decade or two, or three or four, before these dramatic processes start to kick in, he says. “The paper just shows the potentials, which are really big and really scary,” says DeConto. But Scambos and other observers call DeConto’s numbers “perfectly plausible.”
Researchers could better pin down their models if they could track the rate of sea level rise from polar ice sheet collapse in the past, but this has proven hard to do. When seas rose a whopping 13 feet per century at the end of the last glaciation (the current record-holder for known rates of sea level rise in the past), much of the water came from an ice sheet over North America, where there isn’t one today. “I wouldn’t use that as an analogue for the future,” says paleo-geologist Andrea Dutton of the University of Florida, who wrote a recent review of past records of sea level rise. “But it has important lessons for us nonetheless — that ice sheets can retreat suddenly and in steps instead of gradually.”
For a better analogue of what’s going on today, researchers often look to the last interglacial period, about 120,000 years ago, when temperatures were about a degree warmer than pre-industrial levels and seas were 20 to 30 feet higher than today. Ice cores from Greenland have suggested that much of that water must have come from the Antarctic. To find out just how fast sea levels rose at that time, Dutton is now looking at old corals in Mexico, Florida, and Australia; corals can be used to track sea level, since they grow in shallow waters to capture sunlight. A map of sea level rise around the world, and how it was higher in one place than another, could be used to infer where the water came from. Success isn’t guaranteed; corals are notoriously difficult to date. And whatever they find, notes Scambos, it will still be hard to draw a parallel to the modern world.
“That was a natural warming period in Earth’s history,” Scambos says. “We’re putting our pedal to the metal today; we’re driving the system very hard.”
James Hansen, a climatologist at Columbia University, summarized the evidence for rapid sea level rise in a recent controversial paper, raising some eyebrows at its stark warnings of catastrophe. Though many researchers have taken issue with the dramatic tone and specific details of that paper, its conclusion — that multi-meter sea level rise is possible in the next 50, 100, or 200 years — does not seem so alarmist in the face of other recent work.
“I think a lot of us who work on paleo records are all aware that a lot of change can happen very quickly — I’m always looking at big numbers,” says Dutton, who hasn’t been startled by recent studies like DeConto’s. “It’s always going to be a difficult question to answer. Maybe we need to accept we’re always going to have this uncertainty and just prepare for the worst.”
Correction, May 5, 2016: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of freshwater that is locked up in the polar ice caps. The article should have stated that 99 percent of the world’s freshwater ice is contained in the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps.
The Great Majority of Jews Today Have No Historical or Ethnic Relationship to Palestine
by Issa Nakhleh LL.B
The Jews of today are composed of the Ashkenazi and the Sephardi Jews. The Sephardi Jews are the Oriental Jews wo are descendants of the Jews who left Palestine during the Christian era and migrated to neighboring Arab countries., North Africa and Spain. Some of the Oriental Jews were also converts to Judaism, such as some Berbers of North Africa who were converted to Judaism. The Tunisian Jews, Albert Memmi, a Professor of Sociology at the Sorbonne in Paris, has expressed doubt as “to whether his own ancestors in the Saraha had any historic connection to Palestine. Perhaps, he suggested, they were just Berbers converted to Judaism, since according to his information, “most North African Jews are simply Berber nomads who have accepted Judaism.”
Arthur Koestler maintains that there were many Jewish converts outside of Palestine with no biblical family roots:
‘Witness to the proselytizing zeal of the Jews of earlier times are the black-skinned Falasha of Abyssinia, the Chinese Jews of Kai-Feng who look like Chinese, the Yemenite Jews with the dark olive complexion, the Jewish Berber tribes of the Sahara who look like Tauregs, and so on, down to our prime example, the Khazars.’
The Ashkenazi Jews who lived in Russian and Central Eastern Europe and later on migrated to Western and Southern Europe, are of Khazar origin and were converted to Judaism in the 9th century A.S. The Khazar Jews have no ethnic or historical connection with Palestine. The Ahakenazi Jews who migrated to Palestine during the British mandate and who committed the crime of genocide against the Palestinian people are descendants of the Khazars. The Jewish Encyclopedia refers to the Khazars and their conversion to Judaism:
“A people of Turkish origin whose life and history are interwoven with the very beginnings of the history of the Jews of Russia. The kingdom of the Khazars was firmly established in most of South Russia long before the foundation of the Russian monarchy by the Varangians(855)…Driven onward by the nomadic tribes of the steppes and by their own desire for plunder and revenge, they made frequent invasions into Armenia…
In the second half of the sixth century the Khazar move westward. They established themselves in the territory bounded by the Sea of Azov, the Don and the lower Volga, the Caspian Sea, and the northern Caucasus…In 679 the Khazars subjugated the Bulgars and extended their sway further west between the Don and the Dnieper, as far as the the head-waters of Donetsk….It was probably about that time that the Khaghan (Bulan) of the Khazars and his grandees, together with a large number of his heathen people, embraced the Jewish religion…
It was one of the successors of Bulan, named Obadiah, who regenerated the kingdom and strengthened the Jewish religion. He invited Jewish scholars to settle in his dominions, and founded synagogues and schools, The people were instructed in the Bible, Mishnah, and Talmud…
From the work Kitab al-Buldan written about the ninth century, it appears as if all the Khazars were Jews and that they had been converted to Judaism only a short time before that book was written….It may be assumed that in the ninth century many Khazar heathens became Jews, owing to the religious zeal of King Obadia,. “Such a conversion in great masses says Chwolson (Izvyestia o Khazaraka, p 58), ” may have been the reason for the embassy of the Christians from the land of the Khazars to the Byzantine emperor Michael…
The Jewish population in the entire domain of the Khazars, in the period between the seenth and tenth centuries, must have been considerable…
The Russians invaded the trans-Caucasian country in 944…This seems to have been the beginning of the downfall of the Khazar kingdom…The Russian prince Sviatoslav made war upon the Khazars (c.974) the Russians conquered all the Khazarian territory east of the Sea of Azov. Only the Crimean territory of the Khazars remained in their possession until 1016, when they were dispossessed by a joint expedition of Russians and Byzanatines…Many were sent as prisoners of was to Kiev, where a Khazar community had long existed…Some went to Hungary, but the great mass of the people remained in their native country. Many members of the Khazrian royal family emigrated to Spain…
Professor Graetz describes the Khazar kingdom as follows:
“The heathen king of a barbarian people, living in the north,m together with all his court, adopted the Jewish religion…Their kings, who bore the title of Khakhan or Khaghan, had led these warlike sons of the steppe from victory to victory…
It is possible that the circumstances under which the Khazars embraced Judaism have been embellished by legend, but the fact itself is too definitely proved on all sides to allow any doubt as to its reality. Besides Bulan, the nobles of his kingdom, numbering nearly four thousand,m adopted the Jewish religion. Little by little it made its way among the people, so that most of the inhabitants of the towns of the H=Khazar kingdom were Jews…At first the Judaism of the Khazars must have been rather superficial, and could have had but a little influence on their mind and manners…
A successor of Bulan, who bore the Hebrew name of Obadiah, was the first to make serious efforts to further the Jewish religion. He invited Jewish sages to settle in his dominions, rewarded them royally, founded synagogues and schools, caused instruction to be given to himself and his people in the Bible and the Talmud, and introduced a divine service modeled on that of the ancient communities…After Obadiah came a along series of Jewish Khaghans, for according to a fundamental law of the state only Jewish rulers were permitted to ascent the throne…”
According to Dr. A.A. Poliak, Professor of Medieval Jewish History at Tel Aviv University, the descendants of the Khazars-“those who stayed where they were, those who emigrated to the United States and to other countries, and those who went ti Israel– constitute now the large majority of world Jewry.”
The physiological differences between the Ashkenazim, who are mainly of Turkic Khazar origin, the the Sephardim, who are mainly of Semitic Palestinian origin, has been confirmed by scientific evidence:
“By, and large, the Sephardim are dolichocephalic (long-headed), the Ashkenazim brachycephalic (broad-headed)…The statistics relating to other physical features also speak against racial unity…The hardest evidence to date come from classification by blood groups.”The thirteenth Tribe” by Arthur Koestler pps. 232-233
Thus both historical and physiological evidence negate any historical claims to being of Palestinian origin to the European Jews in Israel and to the majority of Jews in the world.
United Nations, EU condemn Israel legalizing settlements on Palestinian land
February 7, 2017
by Gabriela Baczynska
The European Union’s foreign policy chief and the United Nations secretary-general on Tuesday criticized an Israeli move to legalize thousands of settler homes on Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
The EU’s Federica Mogherini said that the law, if it was implemented, crossed a new and dangerous threshold.
“Such settlements constitute an obstacle to peace and threaten the viability of a two-state solution,” she said.
“(It) would further entrench a one-state reality of unequal rights, perpetual occupation and conflict,” she said, highlighting that the EU sees Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as illegal.
The Israeli parliament passed the legislation two weeks after the inauguration of President Donald Trump as the new U.S. president. Trump has signaled a softer approach to the settlement issue than that of the previous U.S. administration.
It retroactively legalizes about 4,000 settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the action went against international law and would have legal consequences for Israel.
“The Secretary-General insists on the need to avoid any actions that would derail the two-state solution,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement, referring to longstanding international efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
French President Francois Hollande also added his voice to the condemnation, saying it paved the way for the annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories.
“I think that Israel and its government could revise this text,” Hollande said at news conference after meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas called the law an aggression against the Palestinian people. Other Palestinian leaders described it as a blow to their hopes of statehood.
Most countries consider the settlements, built on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War, illegal and an obstacle to peace as they reduce and fragment the territory Palestinians seek for a viable state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
Israel disputes this and cites biblical, historical and political connections to the land, as well as security needs.
Though the legislation was backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition, it has raised tensions in the government. Israel’s attorney-general has said the law is unconstitutional and that he will not defend it at the Supreme Court.
A White House official said on Monday that, given the new law is expected to face challenges in Israeli courts, the United States would withhold comment for now.
The Trump administration has signaled a far softer approach to the settlement issue than that of the Obama administration, which routinely denounced settlement announcements.
(Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
Scottish parliament votes overwhelmingly against Brexit bill
February 7, 2017
by Mark McLaughlin
Edinburgh (AFP) – The Scottish parliament, in a symbolic motion, voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to reject Britain’s march towards the EU exit, with the semi-autonomous government warning Scotland would not be “humiliated”.
The Scottish government said the vote â- backed by nearly three quarters of Scottish lawmakers from across the political spectrum â- is one of the most important in the parliament’s 18-year history.
Minister for Brexit Negotiations Mike Russell said his government will “never allow Scotland to be humiliated, and its democratic choice rejected. We will never, ever, turn our back on Europe and the world.”
He said there was still time for London to avert another independence bid by Scotland if it accepted a “compromise” — a differentiated solution that would keep Scotland in the European single market even as the rest of Britain leaves.
British lawmakers are debating a bill that would empower Prime Minister Theresa May to begin the country’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU).
The Scottish Parliament voted by 90 votes to 34 that the draft legislation should not proceed as Edinburgh has received no commitment that it will be effectively consulted on the exit terms.
The vote has no legal force, however.
The only dissenters were the Scottish Conservatives, who are aligned with May’s Conservative government in London.
“This is the Scottish Parliament. The people that voted for us are Scottish voters, they expect us to stand up for Scotland,” Russell said.
Scotland was told it would be an “equal partner” in the British union if it rejected independence, which it did by 55 percent in a 2014 referendum.
Twenty months later Scotland voted to remain in the EU by 62 percent, but it was outvoted by England which has a vastly larger population.
Brexit succeeded overall with 52 percent of the vote.
British judges ruled in January that a convention designed to deter London from imposing laws on Scotland carried no legal weight, clearing the way for the UK government to trigger Brexit without consulting Edinburgh.
A majority of MPs on Monday rejected amendments to the Brexit bill which called for greater involvement of the devolved administrations.
Lawmakers voted against guaranteeing they be consulted before Prime Minister Theresa May signs any agreements with Brussels, or delaying starting exit proceedings until at least one month after the devolved administrations have agreed to a UK strategy.
The Scottish parliament vote sends a clear signal to London that the Brexit process is proceeding without their support, but the UK government has no compulsion to listen.
“We’re going to keep talking and make sure that we go on talking so the Article 50 letter can still be influenced by the reasonable demands of Scotland,” Russell said.
A British government spokesman said: “The UK government will continue our engagement with the Scottish government and with people and groups across Scotland as we prepare to leave the EU to secure the best deal for Scotland and the UK.”