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TBR News August 28, 2018

Aug 28 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. August 28, 2018: “Attacking Iranian nuclear facilities also has the potential of igniting a diplomatic crisis between the United States and Russia. The Russian Federation is not only Iran’s foremost supplier of nuclear technology and training, it is reported that hundreds of Russian scientists and technicians currently work in Bushehr. A preemptive attack on Bushehr may kill a large number of Iranian and Russian personnel; the ensuing diplomatic crisis could seriously affect not only Russian-U.S. trade but also cooperation on international matters, including the war on terrorism.

An attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities that are viewed by most Iranians as a symbol of national pride and technological progress would provide the Iranian mullahs the necessary justification to intensify their crackdown on dissidents and moderates, whom the hawks are likely to brand as agents of foreign powers. It is equally plausible that, fearing such a backlash, domestic opposition forces in Iran would band together with Iran’s new hawkish majority in parliament and abandon their calls and protests for reform.

Unlike Iraq, which in June 1981 was in the midst of a major war with Iran and lacked the military means to retaliate for Israel’s attack on its nuclear reactor in Osirak, Iran is not only capable but very likely to respond to a preemptive attack on its nuclear facilities. Various Iranian leaders have already promised very strong reactions to such an event.

Iran’s most dangerous potential response to an American or Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities might be a serious and sustained rocket attack on Israel with especial emphasis on th Golan Heights.

The majority of the Middle Eastern governments, with the sole exception of Israel, view President Trump as bombastic, unstable and vicious and if Iran were attacked and responded with force, there is no doubt Iran would find many allies.”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: Number 9
  • Donald Trump: Google’s news service is rigged against me
  • Trump’s Psychopathology Is Getting Worse
  • U.S. judge gives partial win to prosecution ahead of Manafort’s second trial
  • Turkey warms to Russia as U.S. ties slip
  • How dangerous are Austria’s far-right hipsters?
  • ‘Europe has to play its trump cards’: German energy giant says Russian gas vital for continent
  • Nord Stream 2: Gas pipeline from Russia that’s dividing Europe
  • U.S. court says North Carolina gerrymander is illegal, seeks new congressional map
  • ‘Apocalyptic threat’: dire climate report raises fears for California’s future

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: Number 9

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

 

  • Mar 22, 2017

“Sweden. I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: Nobody died in the Sweden riot that occurred two days after Trump falsely suggested that a terrorist incident had occurred in Sweden the previous night.

 

“NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that.”

Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

NATO has long addressed terrorism.

 

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

“… and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: Barack Obama, among many other Americans, chided NATO allies for failing to meet a guideline of spending 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence. The fact that several NATO countries do not meet the guideline was widely known.

 

“Brexit, I was totally right about that. You were over there I think, when I predicted that, right, the day before.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: Trump did not predict Brexit the day before; the day before the vote, he said, “I don’t think anybody should listen to me (because) I haven’t really focused on it very much,” but that his “inclination” would be that Britain should vote to leave the European Union. This was a recommendation, not a prediction.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

 

“Now remember this. When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: Trump did use the word in quotation marks in two of his four tweets falsely alleging that Barack Obama had spied on him, but he also made the same allegation without quotation marks in the two other tweets.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

 

“Here, headline, for the front page of the New York Times, ‘Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aides.’ That’s a headline. Now they then dropped that headline, I never saw this until this morning. They then dropped that headline, and they used another headline without the word wiretap, but they did mean wiretap. Wiretapped data used in inquiry. Then changed after that, they probably didn’t like it. And they changed the title. They took the wiretap word out.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: The Times never changed its headline; it simply used different words in its print and online headlines, which is normal.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

 

“I mean mostly they register wrong, in other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly, and/or illegally. And they then vote. You have tremendous numbers of people.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: Every credible expert, including Republican secretaries of state for individual states, says the number of people voting illegally is tiny.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

 

“Brexit, I predicted Brexit, you remember that, the day before the event. I said, no Brexit is going to happen, and everybody laughed, and Brexit happened.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: Trump did not predict Brexit the day before; the day before the vote, he said, “I don’t think anybody should listen to me (because) I haven’t really focused on it very much,” but that his “inclination” would be that Britain should vote to leave the European Union. This was a recommendation, not a prediction.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

 

On his campaign claim that Ted Cruz’s father was seen with Lee Harvey Oswald: “But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper … I’m just quoting the newspaper.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: The newspaper in question is the National Enquirer — and when he made the claim, Trump did not make clear that he was quoting the Enquirer. He said directly: “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous.”

 

“I went to Kentucky two nights ago, we had 25,000 people in a massive Basketball Arena.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: The capacity of the arena is about 18,000.

 

“I said the day before the opening, but I was saying Brexit was going to pass, and everybody was laughing, and I turned out to be right on that.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: Trump did not predict Brexit the day before; the day before the vote, he said, “I don’t think anybody should listen to me (because) I haven’t really focused on it very much,” but that his “inclination” would be that Britain should vote to leave the European Union. This was a recommendation, not a prediction.

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

 

“And the New York Times and CNN and all of them, they did these polls, which were extremely bad and they turned out to be totally wrong.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: The final New York Times poll was almost precisely correct: it had Hillary Clinton winning the national popular vote by 3 percentage points; she ended up winning by 2 per centage points. CNN’s final poll had her up 5 per cent, worse but still within the margin of error.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

 

“I assume this is going to be a cover too, have I set the record? I guess, right? Covers, nobody’s had more covers.”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: Richard Nixon has the record for most Time magazine covers: 55. Trump has not appeared on the cover even half that many times.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

 

“Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aides. Ok? Can you possibly put that down? Front page, January 20th. Now in their second editions, they took it all down under the internet. They took that out. Ok?”

Source: Interview with TIME on Trump’s falsehoods

in fact: The Times never changed its headline; it simply used different words in its print and online headlines, which is normal.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

 

  • Mar 23, 2017

“So you know the problems, and (Obamacare has) put a lot of the trucking businesses out of business, which is pretty tough.”

Source: Remarks at meeting with representatives of trucking industry

in fact: There is no evidence of this. Asked in a CNBC interview that day how Obamacare has impacted the industry, the chief executive of the American Trucking Association cited rising costs, “administrative burdens” and a lack of choice; even he did not mention companies going out of business.

 

  • Mar 24, 2017

“I was in Tennessee the other day, and they’ve lost half of their state in terms of an insurer; they have no insurer.”

Source: Remarks on failed Obamacare repeal and replacement

in fact: Every part of Tennessee is covered by a health insurer, the state told FactCheck.org; some areas have one insurer selling plans through the Obamacare “marketplace,” some have two.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

 

“And I never said — I guess I’m here, what, 64 days? I never said repeal and replace Obamacare — you’ve all heard my speeches — I never said repeal it and replace it within 64 days. I have a long time.”

Source: Remarks on failed Obamacare repeal and replacement

in fact: Again, Trump never specifically said the repeal and replacement would happen within precisely 61 days. But this claim is so misleading as to be false. He repeatedly promised that he would repeal and replace Obamacare “immediately” — sometimes adding that he would ask Congress to put a bill on his desk on the very first day of his presidency. (Also, he had been in office 64 days when he made this remark.)

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

 

“I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days.”

Source: Interview with the Washington Post’s Robert Costa

in fact: Sure, Trump never specifically said the repeal and replacement would happen within precisely 61 days. But this claim is so misleading as to be false. He repeatedly promised that he would repeal and replace Obamacare “immediately” — sometimes adding that he would ask Congress to put a bill on his desk on the very first day of his presidency. (Also, he had been in office 64 days when he made this remark.)

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

 

“Today I am thrilled to announce that Charter Communications has just committed to investing $25 billion — with a B, $25 billion — you’re sure that’s right, right? With a B, right — $25 billion here in the United States, and has committed further to hiring 20,000 American workers over the next four years.”

Source: Remarks at “Jobs announcement” with Charter Communications

in fact: Charter did not “just” make this commitment — the company had already announced these plans, industry experts told USA Today.

 

 

Donald Trump: Google’s news service is rigged against me

US president claims ‘Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good’

August 28, 2018

by Jim Waterson Media editor

The Guardian

Donald Trump has used a series of early morning tweets to complain that Google’s news service is “rigged” against him and has pledged to address this “very serious” situation.

The US president said the existing system was biased in favour of stories from leftwing news outlets and suggested tech companies were trying to hide positive stories about his administration – something that Google strongly denied.

Asked whether Trump thinks Google should be subject to some regulation, Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, told reporters outside the White House that “we’re taking a look”.

Trump also stated that 96% of Google News results for “Trump” were from leftwing outlets, which he described as “very dangerous”.

It is likely the US president was referring to a viral news story posted on Saturday by the website PJ Media, which concluded that the vast majority of Google News results for the president were from left-leaning outlets. The site used a classification that ranks almost every mainstream news outlet – other than Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and DailyMail.com – as leftwing.

PJ Media said its survey of the top 100 Google News results for the search term “Trump” was “not scientific” but suggested “a pattern of bias against right-leaning content”.

The US president possibly came across PJ Media’s 96% statistic after it was covered by Fox News host Lou Dobbs on his Monday night broadcast.

Google never reveals how its algorithm works, partly to stop news organisations from gaming the system in order to boost their ranking. Google News results can be a substantial driver of traffic for websites, with the system relying on a vast number of signals when it comes to ranking news stories, potentially including a news site’s long-term reputation and popularity.

In a statement, Google insisted that it is not distorting results: “When users type queries into the Google search bar, our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds. Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology.

“Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

The US president’s tweets – sent at 5.24am Washington DC time – are the latest in a string of attacks by Trump on major tech companies, as part of his ongoing criticism of the media.

Earlier this month, he said that “too many voices are being destroyed” by social networks, who have become increasingly willing to ban prominent individuals who have broken their rules, such as the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

 

Trump’s Psychopathology Is Getting Worse

Most pundits interpret the US president’s outbursts as playing to his political base, or preening for the cameras, or blustering for the sake of striking future deals. In fact, Trump suffers from several psychological pathologies that render him a clear and present danger to the world.

July 3, 2018

by Jeffrey D. Sachs and Bandy X. Lee

Project Syndicate

NEW YORK – Seemingly every day now, US President Donald Trump escalates his policy and personal attacks against other countries and their heads of state, the poor and the weak, and migrant families. Most recently, Trump has championed the heartless separation of migrant children from their parents. Though public outrage may have forced him to retreat, his disposition to attack will soon make itself felt elsewhere.

Most pundits interpret Trump’s outbursts as playing to his political base, or preening for the cameras, or blustering for the sake of striking future deals. We take a different view. In line with many of America’s renowned mental-health experts, we believe that Trump suffers from several psychological pathologies that render him a clear and present danger to the world.

Trump shows signs of at least three dangerous traits: paranoia, lack of empathy, and sadism. Paranoia is a form of detachment from reality in which an individual perceives threats that do not exist. The paranoid individual can create dangers for others in the course of fighting against imaginary threats. Lack of empathy can derive from an individual’s preoccupation with the self and a view of others as mere tools. Harming others causes no remorse when it serves one’s own purposes. Sadism means finding pleasure in inflicting pain or humiliating others, especially those who represent a perceived threat or a reminder of one’s weaknesses.

We believe that Trump has these traits. We base our conclusion on observations of his actions, his known life history, and many reports by others, rather than as the finding of an independent psychiatric examination, which we have previously called for, and call for again. But we do not need a complete picture to recognize that Trump is already a growing danger to the world. Psychological expertise tells us that such traits tend to worsen in individuals who gain power over others.

To justify his belligerent actions, Trump lies relentlessly and remorselessly. In fact, according to a Washington Post analysis, Trump has made over 3,000 false or misleading claims since taking office. And, the Post notes, his lying seems to have escalated in recent weeks. Moreover, Trump’s confidants describe him as increasingly likely to ignore any moderating advice offered by those around him. There are no “grownups in the room” who can stop him as he surrounds himself with corrupt and bellicose cronies prepared to do his bidding – all of which is entirely predictable from his psychology.

Trump’s wild exaggerations in recent weeks reveal the increasing severity of his symptoms. Consider, for example, his repeated claims that the vague outcome of his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un constitutes an end to the nuclear threat posed by Kim’s regime, or his blatant lie that Democrats, rather than his own policies, caused the forced separation of migrant children from their parents at the southern border with Mexico. The Post recently counted 29 false or misleading statements in a mere one-hour rally. Whether intentional or delusional, this level of persistent lying is pathological.

Since Trump actually lacks the ability to impose his will on others, his approach guarantees an endless cycle of threats, counter-threats, and escalation. He follows any tactical retreat with renewed aggression. Such is the case with the spiraling tit-for-tat trade war now underway between Trump and a widening circle of countries and economies, including Canada, Mexico, China, and the European Union. The same is true of Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from a growing number of international agreements and bodies, including the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and, most recently, the United Nations Human Rights Council, after it criticized US policies towards the poor.

Trump’s paranoia is translating into heightened geopolitical tensions. Traditional allies, not accustomed to dealing with US leaders with severe mental defects, are clearly shaken, while adversaries appear to be taking advantage. Many of Trump’s supporters seem to interpret his shameless lying as bold truth-telling, and pundits and foreign leaders tend to believe that his bizarre lashing out reflects a political strategy. Yet this is a misunderstanding. Trump’s actions are being “explained” as rational and even bold, whereas they more likely are manifestations of severe psychological problems.2

History abounds with mentally impaired individuals who have gained vast power as would-be saviors, only to become despots who gravely damage their societies and others. Their strength of will and promises of national greatness entice a public following; but if there is one lesson of this kind of pathology in power, it is that the long-term results are inescapably catastrophic for all.

We should not remain immobilized by fear of a future disaster. A leader with dangerous signs of paranoia, lack of empathy, and sadism should not remain in the presidency, lest he commit devastating damage.

Any appropriate measure to remove the danger – the ballot box, impeachment, or invocation of the US Constitution’s 25th Amendment – would help restore our safety.

 

U.S. judge gives partial win to prosecution ahead of Manafort’s second trial

August 28, 2018

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A judge overseeing the upcoming second trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on Tuesday approved the prosecution’s request to allow evidence about a Justice Department inspection of Manafort’s lobbying activities in the 1980s but limited the scope of what it can show.

The ruling by Judge Amy Berman Jackson represents a partial win for Special Counsel Robert Mueller ahead of Manafort’s second trial, which is set to begin next month in Jackson’s federal courtroom in Washington.

Jackson said she wanted to limit the scope of what the government introduces in order to avoid a “trial within a trial” that would involve reviewing reams of evidence.

The prosecution said it would like to introduce evidence to rebut the defense argument that Manafort did not know rules on foreign lobbying. Jackson ordered both sides to agree to a stipulation showing Manafort was notified of lobbying disclosure rules in the 1980s, which would be in place of the government submitting all of its proposed evidence to the jury.

Mueller already scored a victory last week when a jury in Alexandria, Virginia, convicted Manafort on eight counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to declare his foreign bank accounts, a verdict punishable by up to 80 years in prison.

The cases against Manafort resulted from Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort worked for Republican Donald Trump’s successful campaign for several months, including serving as chairman.

Manafort now faces a seven-count indictment in the Washington trial. The charges include allegations of money laundering, obstruction of justice and failing to register as a foreign agent for his lobbying on behalf of pro-Russian politicians from Ukraine.

Mueller’s prosecutors had argued to include evidence at trial that Manafort had been subject in the 1980s to Justice Department inspections related to his lobbying for foreign governments to show that he was aware of the disclosure requirements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The government says the 1980s inspections uncovered 18 instances of lobbying and public relations activities that should have been disclosed, a revelation that prompted Manafort to resign as director of a federal agency in 1986.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott

 

Turkey warms to Russia as U.S. ties slip

August 27, 2018

by Zeynep Bilginsoy

The Daily Star/Lebanon

Associated Press

ISTANBUL: Relations between Turkey and Russia are cozy, prompting worries in the West of a potentially critical rift in the NATO alliance. But Turkey’s president may be engaged in a balancing act, tactically turning to Russia as ties with the U.S. further deteriorate over the detention of an American pastor. President Donald Trump tweeted this month that U.S.-Turkey relations “are not good at this time!” and announced tariff hikes on the NATO ally, precipitating a nosedive in the Turkish currency. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on the phone with Russia’s Vladimir Putin that same afternoon, when they promised more cooperation in the areas of defense, energy and trade.

Switching partners is becoming a familiar dance for Turkey, which is strategically situated between Asia and Europe and often caught in the geopolitical push and pull of the turbulent Middle East region.

Despite his country’s economic vulnerability, Erdogan seemed to be signaling that it had alternatives to the traditional alliances that date from its Cold War role as a regional bulwark against Soviet power.

In Turkey’s view, “the U.S. has become even more threatening than Russia” due to strains over critical issues, Sener Akturk, an associate professor of international relations at Koc University in Istanbul, said. The perceived threat makes the U.S. “an ally that has to be paradoxically kept at arm’s length and even balanced against with Russian cooperation.”

Points of contention between the U.S. and Turkey include American military support for Kurdish fighters in Syria who are considered terrorists by Turkey, Turkish appeals to the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim preacher Turkey accuses of plotting a failed 2016 coup, and American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is being prosecuted in Turkey on terror-related charges.

A lever in Turkey’s diplomatic maneuvering is its pledge to buy a Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system, with deliveries starting next year. U.S. and NATO officials say the Russian system conflicts with NATO equipment and would lead to security breaches.

Trump signed a defense bill this month that would delay delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey. Separately, the U.S. president has criticized NATO allies, saying they should pay more for their defense and rely less on American support.

Koc University’s Akturk said the missile deal with Russia makes sense since Western allies have sometimes suspended military deals with Turkey because of political disputes and concerns about the country’s human rights record.

Meanwhile, both Russia and Turkey have come a long way in restoring their rapport since the Turkish military shot down a Russian military jet in 2015 along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Erdogan and Putin have met at least 11 times since August 2016.

Outgrowths of the frequent contact between the two regional powers include the resumption of a deal for a natural gas pipeline through Turkey and Russian plans to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey.

The rapprochement “demonstrates a striking level of pragmatism in this relationship,” Anna Arutunyan, a Moscow-based senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, said.

“The prospect of a friendly NATO member is very valuable for Moscow” as it aims to bolster its influence in the Middle East, Arutunyan said. “Turkey is a good avenue to do that. Syria has been a good avenue to do that.”

Russia, along with Iran, supports Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s long war. Turkey backs some groups fighting Assad. Despite their support for opposing sides, the two countries are working together.

Turkey has dropped its insistence on the immediate departure of the Syrian president, while Russia has allowed Turkey to conduct cross-border operations against Kurdish militants in Syria. Turkey has also asked Russia to restrain Assad from launching an all-out offensive against the last major rebel stronghold in Idlib province, on the border with Turkey.

“Russia and Turkey, within the Syrian context, need each other, and the relationship is far more robust,” said Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the U.S.-based Atlantic Council.

But he thinks Russia holds the upper hand, using the reconciliation to have Turkey bring the rebels under regime control.

Even if Putin and Erdogan find accommodation in Syria, their interests diverge further north in the Black Sea, a theater for conflicts since Russian and Ottoman imperial days. Russia’s war with Georgia a decade ago, its 2014 annexation of Crimea and ongoing military intervention in Ukraine have challenged Turkish influence and position in the Black Sea.

Russia’s moves prompted Erdogan to warn NATO in 2016 that the Black Sea, dubbed the “Turkish lake” under the Ottomans, was turning into a “Russian lake.”

NATO now maintains a “tailored forward presence” with increased land, air and naval capabilities.

“Russia’s expansion makes the NATO alliance more and more significant for Turkey in the Black Sea,” the Crisis Group said in a June report, noting that Ankara has reversed a decadeslong policy of keeping the Western military alliance out of the region.

Turkey’s position on the Black Sea points to what Akturk described as coexisting “a la carte alliances,” in which the Turkish government moves between Russia and the West depending on what’s at stake.

That makes it hard to know if Turkey’s pivot toward Moscow will last in a region of shifting allegiances and periodic crises. But it’s a remarkable turnaround in the three years since Putin described the downing of the Russian jet as a “stab in the back.”

How dangerous are Austria’s far-right hipsters?

The Identitarian movement is picking up speed around Europe. In Austria, the group’s branch is seen as the “hipster right.” What’s behind its success? Morgan Meaker reports from Vienna.

August 28, 2018

by Morgan Meaker (Vienna)

DW

It was the middle of the night when a group of young Austrians used a crane to dress Vienna’s 65-foot (20-meter) statue of Empress Maria Theresa in a niqab. The stunt was accompanied by a poster that read “Islamization? No thanks!”

The act was committed by the Austrian branch of the Identitarian movement, branded Europe’s “hipster right.” Identitarians are the new, media-friendly face of far-right nationalism and Europe’s answer to the US’s alt-right. But where the alt-right has succeeded online, Austria’s Identitarians use the internet to promote their actions on the streets — imitating the tactics of leftist activist groups such as Greenpeace and generating news headlines in the process.

Unfurling giant banners and spraying bottles of fake blood, the group has scaled the roof of the Greens’ party headquarters in Graz, southern Austria, and stormed a theater production performed by refugees in Vienna, handing out leaflets that read “multiculturalism kills.” Most notoriously, the Austrian Identitarians’ 29-year-old co-leader, Martin Sellner, helped charter a ship to “defend Europe,” trying to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya.

Last month, a court in Graz acquitted 17 members and supporters of the group on charges of forming a criminal organization and inciting hatred against Turkish and Muslim people.

Boost for right

The court’s decision is likely to embolden the Identitarians or “Die Identitäre Bewegung.” In a YouTube video posted the day after the verdict, Sellner talks with his American girlfriend, anti-feminist vlogger Brittany Pettibone, about how the group has been vindicated.

They insist their tactics are not racist. But their concerns echo other far-right protest movements, including Germany’s PEGIDA. They advocate for a homogenous (white) Europe, believe the continent is being turned into an “Islamic country” and spread the “great replacement” conspiracy theory — the idea that white Europeans will be replaced by people from the Middle East and Africa through immigration. The theory is based on inflated statistics and un-substantiated demographic projections. Right now, only 4 percent of the European Union is made up of non-EU nationals.

The Identitarians are a pan-European movement that began in France in 2003. But recently, its Austrian branch has become the bloc’s most visible.

To Farid Hafez, a political scientist at Salzburg University, the Identitarians are a “modernized form of racist ideology.”

In order to shrug off this racist tag and distance themselves from the traditional far-right, the youth group have created a new vocabulary. Martin Sellner doesn’t identify as a nationalist, instead he says he’s a “patriot.” Their campaign for “ethnopluralism” is in fact a demand that different ethnicities live separately; encouraging segregation in order to preserve “European identity.” Their idea for “re-migration” translates to restricting religious freedom to the point where where Muslims feel forced to return to their countries of origin.

In other words, these are old ideas dressed up in new terminology; xenophobia re-branded, so to speak.

Austria’s Identitarians leading the way

A spokesperson for Hope not Hate — a UK-based organisation that uses research to counter racism — told DW that, “Generation Identity takes great care to present an apparently ‘respectable’ image and to cloak its language in apparently mild terms. Yet if you look below the gloss, the slick social media videos, and the stunts, what you find are people with deeply extreme views.”

Their rise to prominence has run in tandem with Austrian politics’ lurch to the right. In December 2017, the far-right Freedom Party came to power in a coalition government with the conservative People’s Party. Since then, the government has proposed cutting welfare payments for foreigners and making it harder for refugees to become citizens.

Since 190,000 people applied for asylum in Austria in 2015, public opinion has shifted too, stoked by this new political climate. Although the number of newcomers has rapidly decreased — only 17,000 applications were filed between January and August 2017 — far-right parties continue to exploit anxieties about open borders. When the Freedom Party first entered a coalition government in 2000, more than 200,000 protesters gathered in Vienna’s Heldenplatz. The demonstration against their second spell in government was distinctly muted in comparison with just 5,000 attendees.

As far-right views have become more mainstream, a 2017 survey by the Bertelsmann Foundation found that more than one quarter of non-Muslim Austrians would not want a Muslim neighbor.

Independent journalist Emran Feroz grew up in Austria to Afghan parents. Over the past few years he has noticed racism, anti-refugee views and Islamophobia increase dramatically. “It has become more acceptable to say racist things,” said Feroz, who writes for the New York Times.

Extremism becomes the new mainstream

“Thanks to the rise of the Freedom party, racism and hatred have become something normal,” he told DW.

It is this political atmosphere in which Austria’s small but active group of Identitarians have found new momentum. The current government legitimizes their views via unofficial alliances. Several Freedom Party representatives have been linked to the group and have been seen taking part in rallies or protest actions.

Sellner’s Identitarians have also been well integrated into an increasingly unified global network of far-right populists. His speeches have been read out by the UK’s Tommy Robinson and he has spoken at PEGIDA events in Dresden.

Journalist Feroz believes the Identitarians represent a part of society that now feels that “it’s their time again.”

But Manes Weisskircher, political scientist at TU Dresden, told DW it is important not to inflate the Identitarians’ status. “[They] are not in a position to influence contemporary politics, but they reflect some of its most important developments — the salience of the issues of immigration and integration, especially of Muslims.”

A guide to Germany’s far-right groups

Germany’s far-right scene has always been complex, disparate, and overlapping. Here’s DW’s guide to the main entities – from official political parties to fringe movements.

Alternative for Germany (AfD)

Membership: 125,000

The AfD is proud of its achievement of having become Germany’s most successful hard-right nationalist political party since the Second World War. That’s because many others have tried to sweep up some of Germany’s conservative middle class voters – but few have managed to ditch the tinge of extremism that has driven others away.

In recent months, leadership in-fighting, revelations about neo-Nazi sympathies and connections in local AfD groups – as well as Angela Merkel’s successful measures curbing immigration and accelerating deportations – have left the AfD stagnating in opinion polls.

Nevertheless, over the past year, the party that was once a collection of rather aridöy conservative Euroskeptic academics has transformed, under the leadership of Frauke Petry, into a formidable populist right-wing force on a platform of anti-Islamization and climate denial, and has carved out an apparently long-term place for itself among Germany’s main opposition parties: the Greens and the socialist Left.

The party is now represented in all 13 state parliaments that have held elections since the AfD was founded in 2013, and looks certain to gain representatives in the Bundestag in Germany’s general election in September.

National Democratic Party (NPD)

Membership: 85,000

Germany’s oldest surviving far-right nationalist party, founded in 1964, is also the most ailing. Having lost many voters to the insurgent populism of the AfD in the past three years, it is no longer represented in any German state parliaments. On top of that, the NPD has had to survive two determined attempts by the political establishment to ban it on the grounds that its aims represent an attack on the German constitution and therefore the German state.

At the most recent attempt, in January this year, the Constitutional Court ruled that though the NPD was indeed anti-constitutional, it did not have the political weight to pose a serious threat to German democracy.

Despite this defeat, German political leaders took heart from the wording in the court’s verdict, and announced that it would use the argument to try and deny federal funding to any parties deemed anti-constitutional. If this is successful, it is likely to prove a serious blow to a party that has often struggled financially in the past.

PEGIDA

Estimated supporters (May 2017): 22,000

PEGIDA began as a series of Monday-night marches in Dresden in late 2014 and gathered serious momentum in early 2015, when the demos attracted some 20,000 protesters every week – plus international media attention and so many counter-demonstrators that the events occasionally turned ugly. Since then, the movement has dissipated somewhat, and its one-time chief organizer, a former petty criminal named Lutz Bachmann, has moved to Tenerife – though he still makes appearances at the demo.

PEGIDA stands for “Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes” or “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West,” and associated protests sprang up in several cities around Germany – “Bärgida” in Berlin, “Wügida” in Würzburg, “Bogida” in Bonn, and “Dügida” in Düsseldorf. Some of these still march every Monday, though their numbers are often in the dozens.

Though Bachmann occasionally flirted with the idea of forming a political party, the group has no official organization and has attracted extremely disparate protesters in its short history – including elderly eastern Germans disgruntled about economic stagnations to potentially violent neo-Nazis. Because of the latter, the AfD has occasionally tried to distance itself from PEGIDA, though it is clear that many PEGIDA marchers are also AfD voters, and PEGIDA is often considered the “extra-parliamentary opposition,” while the AfD is the official political opposition.

Identitarian movement

Membership: around 500 (their own claim – German domestic intelligence puts the number at 300)

The Identitarians are a pan-European movement of young nationalists that originated in France. It sees its main purpose in defending Europe’s “identity” from Islamization, and uses the “lambda” symbol associated with the ancient Greek Spartan army.

Though in Germany it numbers just a few hundred members, Identitarians have garnered media attention in the past year through high profile activism – most famously scaling the Brandenburg Gate on August 27 last year (the German government’s open day) to hang a banner on the iconic Berlin monument that read “Secure borders, secure future.” The group has also staged sit-in protests at the headquarters of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and in May, members of the group also attempted to storm the German Justice Ministry.

Such stunts have brought more attention from the authorities too, and the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, which keeps some Identitarians under surveillance, said earlier this year that the group had become “increasingly radicalized.”

For their part, the Identitarians reject the label “far-right,” and the charge of racism, preferring to describe themselves as a “meta-political project.” They explicitly see themselves as a modern group, like the US “Alt Right.” Unlike the NPD, for instance, Identitarians reject all association with the Third Reich or National Socialism. But observers of far-right movements point out that the group often uses the racist language – their definition of “identity,” in fact, usually comes down ethnic-cultural distinctions.

Reichsbürger

Estimated number: 78,600 (according to German domestic intelligence)

Unlike the other movements on this list, the Reichsbürger are not an organized group in any sense – instead, the term is rather a self-description among some who would not necessarily consider themselves right-wing at all (though the vast majority of Reichsbürger would at least have right-wing sympathies).

Reichsbürger, or “Reich citizens,” subscribe to a conspiracy theory that the Federal Republic of Germany, founded in 1949, is not a legitimate state at all, on the grounds that Germany never signed a peace agreement with the Allies, and that the German “Basic Law,” requires a popular referendum to be transformed into a legitimate constitution.

These theories have been debunked, but that hasn’t stopped some Reichsbürger from turning violent – in one case, a policeman was killed following a shoot out with a Reichsbürger in October 2016.

 

‘Europe has to play its trump cards’: German energy giant says Russian gas vital for continent

August 28, 2018

RT

Russian natural gas that will run through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is critical for Europe amid increasing demand and decreasing production in the region, according to CEO of Germany’s energy company Wintershall, Mario Mehren.

“Demand in the EU is rising, but domestic production is declining – which in short means that the import demand is increasing,” Mehren said, as quoted by the company’s press-service.

“In 2030, for example, the EU will have to import around 400 billion cubic meters of natural gas. In order to meet this increasing import demand, we need reliable partners, especially in pipeline distance.

“Nord Stream 2, for example, will provide an additional capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of natural gas when it is completed. This is natural gas that Europe needs,” the CEO stressed.

Mehren noted that crucial importance of Russia as a major partner in European energy projects is set to increase in the future. The head of the German energy major also highlighted the importance of cooperation with Norway.

According to the CEO, natural gas is also making a significant contribution to Germany’s and Europe’s energy transition and to reducing CO2 emissions. The region won’t reportedly achieve its climate goals without natural gas as the most environmentally-friendly fossil fuel.

“Europe has the advantage of being able to use its geographical proximity and direct connection to the large energy reserves in Norway and Russia in pipeline distance,” Mehren said.

“Our well-established and reliable partnerships in particular with these two countries are essential for achieving the climate targets. Europe has to play its trump cards.”

The Nord Stream pipeline project, led by the subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, is being implemented in cooperation with German energy firms Wintershall and Uniper, French multinational Engie, British-Dutch oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell and Austrian energy company OMV. The future pipeline, which is set to run from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, is expected to double the existing pipeline’s capacity of 55 billion cubic meters annually.

 

 

Nord Stream 2: Gas pipeline from Russia that’s dividing Europe

Critics say German-supported project is act of betrayal and political folly of highest order

July 21, 2018,

by Tobias Buck in Lubmin

Irish Times

Lubmin is a picturesque resort on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast that boasts a long stretch of sandy beach bordered by soft dunes and a lush pine forest. Located a few hours north of Berlin, the town offers tourists a postcard version of seaside tranquillity. Or it would, were it not for the fleet of excavator barges that sails out from the local port every day, and the large building site hiding behind the pines.

Both are part of a fiercely contentious project that has split Europe down the middle, and set Germany on a collision course with some of its closest allies. Out in the sea, the excavator barges are digging a massive underwater trench that runs in a straight line towards the building site on land. If all goes to plan, that trench will soon hold a pipeline filled with the most explosive commodity in European politics today: Russian gas.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline has been in planning since 2015, and is due for completion in late 2019. Its defenders argue the project makes perfect commercial sense: the pipeline will connect the world’s biggest exporter of natural gas with the largest economy in Europe, doubling the capacity of the existing trans-Baltic link, Nord Stream 1, which has been operational since 2011.

Together, the two pipelines will eventually be able to carry 110 billion cubic metres a year of natural gas, enough to meet almost a quarter of total demand across the EU.

Critics regard the pipeline – and Germany’s role in it – as an act of betrayal and a geopolitical folly of the first order. Countries such as Poland and Ukraine have denounced it as a blatant attempt to marginalise their own gas pipelines – and a reckless move that will leave them and the rest of Europe at the mercy of Moscow. The European Commission is another opponent of Nord Stream, arguing the project undermines its push for greater energy independence and more diversified supplies.

Blistering attack

The most formidable adversary, however, sits in Washington. US president Donald Trump has made clear repeatedly that he wants to stop the €9.5 billion project – and that he is ready to impose tough sanctions to achieve that goal. Earlier this month, Trump launched a blistering attack on the new pipeline at the Nato summit in Brussels, warning that Germany had become “captive to Russia, because it’s getting so much of its energy from Russia”.

Kirsten Westphal, an energy analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, likens Nord Stream 2 to an “onion” – you peel away layer after layer of controversy only to discover that the next one is more contentious still. At its core, however, the pipeline poses a simple but crucial question: should the West trust Russia or not?

“Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war in Ukraine have changed everything,” says Westphal. “For many people in the West, the idea that Russia is a dependable partner has gone. There is doubt: given all the geopolitical tensions, should we further expand our energy relationship with Russia? Should we make a bet, despite it all, to keep the channel open?”

For reasons of history as well as naked economic self-interest, that question tends to find a different answer in Germany than in other European countries and the US. It is summed up neatly by Axel Vogt, the mayor of Lubmin and – like most locals – an enthusiastic backer of Nord Stream.

“For us, Russia has always been a reliable business partner. And we don’t see any sign that this is changing despite all that is happening on the big political stage,” he says. “For Lubmin, Nord Stream means jobs, it means contracts for local businesses and it means more business taxes,” the mayor says.

He adds that this affection for Russia goes beyond economic gain, and reflects ties forged in the time when Lubmin was part of communist East Germany. “Before reunification there was a very close relationship with Russia . . . and they want it to stay that way.”

For now the project enjoys the official support of the German government (as well as the unconditional backing of the Kremlin). But the chorus of critics in Berlin, including inside the government, is growing ever louder.

“Nord Stream 2 has divided the EU, and that cannot be in Germany’s national interest,” says Norbert Röttgen, a senior member of parliament for the ruling Christian Democratic Union. “The most important role that Germany has is to bring Europe together, not to divide it. But without Germany, this division would not exist.”

Embattled government

Earlier this year, German chancellor Angela Merkel signalled a subtle but important shift in official rhetoric. Nord Stream 2, she said, was “not just an economic project”. Political factors also had to be considered, she added, not least the need to preserve Ukraine’s status as a transit country for Russian gas.

Kiev earns as much as $3 billion (€2.6 billion) in transit fees a year, according to Naftogaz, Ukraine’s state gas company, money the embattled government badly needs. The gas link also acts as motivation for the two countries to keep their military and political conflict from spinning out of control. When the gas stops flowing – as it did, briefly, in 2006 and 2009 – both sides stand to lose.

“After meeting his US counterpart on Monday, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, said Moscow was willing to “extend this transit contract if the dispute between [Gazprom and Naftogaz] is settled”.

Yet circumventing the Ukrainian network is precisely what Nord Stream is about, as Russian officials have made clear. The new pipeline will allow Russia to cut out the middleman for much of its westbound gas shipments – and to avoid the kind of disputes over payments and conditions with Kiev that have flared up in recent years. The fact that Ukraine’s pipelines are in urgent need of repair and investment provides an additional incentive.

For the Russian-European consortium that is bearing the cost of the project, Nord Stream 2 is, above all, a promising investment. Unlike Nord Stream 1, which was a genuine Russian-European joint venture, the new pipeline will be owned entirely by Gazprom, the Russian gas group that controls Russia’s pipeline exports. Half the financing, however, is provided by five European companies: Uniper and Wintershall of Germany, Austria’s OMV, Engie of France and Royal Dutch Shell.

Nord Stream’s backers are making a simple bet with potentially huge rewards. They know the pipeline will come on stream in 2019 just as supplies of European gas from the North Sea are starting to dwindle. The consortium estimates that even if overall gas demand is stable or declines slightly over the coming two decades, Europe will have to find an additional 120 billion cubic metres a year of natural gas by 2035. That gap will be filled by shipping large volumes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from countries such as Qatar and the US, or through pipelines from Russia.

Central complaint

The looming gas shortfall has sparked a rush to build infrastructure, as suppliers jostle for position. Not far from Lubmin, on the other side of the Polish border, stands one of several new LNG terminals that have popped up on Europe’s coastline in recent years. Most are working well below capacity, reflecting the fact that pipeline gas is as much as 25 per cent cheaper than LNG.

Some German business leaders and officials suspect that this is one of the core reasons for the opposition to Nord Stream 2. The US, they say, is simply trying to boost the commercial prospects of LNG. That was the central complaint in an open letter signed by a cross-party alliance of senior German lawmakers earlier this year.

“It is not the job of the EU to keep potential competitors off the backs of US companies that want to market their . . . natural gas in Europe,” it said. “American liquid gas is welcome on the European gas market, but it has to face the competition just like others.”

Why should German and European consumers and companies pay a premium for non-Russian gas? The obvious answer, say critics, is politics. Moscow, they argue, is engaged in a broad campaign to split the western alliance, destabilise European democracies and reassert Moscow’s influence in eastern Europe and the Baltics.

One of the most potent weapons in that campaign is Russia’s control over energy resources – and Europe’s dependency on them. Concern over what might happen if Russia turns off the taps has weighed heavily on European minds for years. Nord Stream 2 will make those concerns even more acute.

“Last year, Germany received slightly more than 40 per cent of its gas supplies from Gazprom. If we now double the capacity by way of Nord Stream 2, we will see another significant increase in supplies from Russia,” says Röttgen. “I believe this pushes us into a danger zone, both in terms of energy policy and foreign policy. We will lose some of our independence.”

There is, he adds, another consideration: “The whole Putin system rests on two pillars: the military and the export of energy resources. By stabilising that second pillar, Germany is also stabilising the Putin regime.”

Gazprom says that given that its newer gasfields are in Russia’s northwest, Nord Stream 2 will save 2,100km of transit compared with the Ukrainian route, and cut emissions by 61 per cent.

Historical resonance

Russia has also warned that US threats against it are illegal. “We believe that any sanctions against companies involved in an international project would not be legal,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said this month. “This is an exclusively international, commercial project devoid of any political motives, based on the principles of commercial gain for the countries that participate in it.”

The geopolitical case against Nord Stream 2 is made with particular intensity in eastern European capitals such as Warsaw, where fears over a Russian-German carve-up have a strong historical resonance. That sentiment was expressed in blunt terms by Radoslav Sikorski, the former Polish foreign minister, who likened the Nord Stream project to the 1939 deal between Hitler and Stalin to divide eastern Europe.

In Berlin, however, officials prefer to point to a different historical antecedent: the Ostpolitik of Willy Brandt, the German chancellor who pushed for rapprochement with the Soviet bloc in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In economic terms, the policy gave rise to a “gas-for-pipes” deal between West Germany and the Soviet Union. Against fierce US opposition, the Germans agreed to ship steel and pipes to the USSR, in exchange for natural gas imports.

The first Russian gas arrived in Germany in 1973, and imports rose steadily in the decades that followed, undisturbed by the cold war. For supporters of Nord Stream 2, that experience holds a crucial lesson. They see the gas relationship not as one of western dependence on Russia, but of mutual dependence between buyer and seller. Moscow needs western payments as much as the West needs Russian gas.

‘Stabilising factor’

“I see Nord Stream as a stabilising factor for the relationship between Russia and the West,” says Matthias Platzeck, a former leader of Germany’s Social Democratic party and now the president of the German-Russian Forum, a Berlin-based association designed to foster bilateral ties. “Even at the high point of the cold war the Russians always delivered their gas. Why should that change now? After all, they need the money.”

As the political argument continues to rage, the project itself is making steady progress. Over the past two years, the consortium has amassed vast stockpiles of concrete-coated steel tubes, and deposited them at various points on the Baltic Sea. A few weeks from now, workers will begin welding the 12m-long pieces together at sea and lowering them into the water. With much of the investment already made, and all but one regulatory permit for the project granted, even critics admit that it will be hard to stop it now.

As long as the project does not hit fresh political and technical turbulence, Gazprom is planning to open the taps at the Russian end of the 1,200km-long pipeline in late 2019. The impact at the other end, however, is already being felt.

“In commercial terms, there is a case to be made for Nord Stream 2,” says Westphal. “In political terms, however, it is clear that Germany will pay a heavy price.” –

 

U.S. court says North Carolina gerrymander is illegal, seeks new congressional map

August 27, 2018

by Jon Herskovitz

Reuters

Middle District of North Carolina said in a 321-page opinion that Republican legislators responsible for the map conducted unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering to dilute the impact of Democratic votes.

“That is precisely what the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly sought to do here,” the opinion said.

The panel gave parties until Thursday to file their recommendations to fix the problem.

The decision could have national implications in this November’s battle for control of Congress. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats to gain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives that could thwart Republican President Donald Trump’s legislative agenda.

Among the suggestions from the judges were holding state nominating primaries in November with new district lines that remove illegal partisan bias and then holding a general election before the new U.S. Congress is seated in January 2019.

The North Carolina dispute centered on a congressional redistricting plan adopted by the Republican-led legislature in 2016 after a court found that Republican lawmakers improperly used race as a factor when redrawing certain U.S. House districts after the 2010 census.

The Republican lawmaker in charge of the plan said it was crafted to maintain Republican dominance because “electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats.”

Party officials were not immediately available for comment on the court’s decision.

North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said the decision “is a monumental and necessary line in the sand stating that politicians cannot choose their voters by silencing other voters.”

Republicans in 2016 won 10 of the 13 House districts – 77 percent of them – despite getting just 53 percent of the statewide vote, nearly the same result as in 2014.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lower court ruling that Republicans drew the boundaries to ensure electoral victories for their party.

But the justices sent the case back to the federal three-judge panel to reconsider whether the plaintiffs, including a group of Democratic voters, had the necessary legal standing to sue in the case.

“North Carolina’s gerrymandering was one of the most brazen in the nation, where state legislative leaders proudly pronounced it a partisan gerrymander,” Rick Hasen, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, wrote on his election law blog.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Peter Cooney

 

 

‘Apocalyptic threat’: dire climate report raises fears for California’s future

Statewide assessment, which comes amid summer of extreme wildfires, warns of deadly cost if climate change is not stopped

August 27, 2018

by Carla Green

The Guardian

California’s summer of deadly wildfires and dangerous heatwaves will soon be the new normal if nothing is done to stop climate change, a report released on Monday warns.

City heatwaves could lead to two to three times as many deaths by 2050, the report says. By 2100, without a reduction in emissions, the state could see a 77% increase in the average area burned by wildfires. The report also warns of erosion of up to 67% of its famous coastline, up to an 8.8F (4.9C) rise in average maximum temperatures, and billions of dollars in damages.

“These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change,” said the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, in a tweet about the report, the fourth statewide climate change assessment released since 2006.

Rising temperatures could lead to up to 11,300 additional deaths in 2050, the report says, and the overall number of days marked by extreme heat will “increase exponentially in many areas”.

The effects of those extreme heat days will probably weigh most heavily on the state’s most vulnerable residents, including the more than 100,000 people who are homeless in California, many of whom live on the streets without reliable access to fans, air conditioners, or running water.

“The 2006 heatwave killed over 600 people, resulted in 16,000 emergency department visits, and led to nearly $5.4bn in damages,” the assessment reports. “The human cost of these events is already immense, but research suggests that mortality risk for those 65 or older could increase tenfold by the 2090s because of climate change.”

The California energy commission chairman, Robert Weisenmiller, said: “It really forces you to think through what do we do about the more elderly – the more endangered.” The commission was one of three agencies that published the report. “How do we protect them during these intense heat periods?”

As researchers point out in a summary of the findings, cooling mechanisms such as air conditioners can help mitigate the effects of intense heatwaves, but increased electrical consumption can also drive up the emissions responsible for climate change in the first place. And the double threat of wildfires and increased energy consumption can endanger a power grid vital in a crisis.

The “apocalyptic threat” the governor described would present itself in myriad ways in a state prone to extreme weather events like drought and wildfires, said Amir AghaKouchak, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine, and a researcher who contributed to the assessment.

As climate change progresses, AghaKouchak said, overall rainfall would probably remain the same, but it would come in the form of extreme storms followed by longer periods without rain.

“There will be two consequences: one is more potentially extreme floods, and the other is problems with drought management.”

Intense rainfall after a season of wildfires could also mean more landslides similar to the deadly mudslides in Santa Barbara earlier this year, AghaKouchak said. More rain coming in short bursts was likely to aggravate water management problems in a state already stricken by drought. And drought areas – including much of California – have been shown to warm faster than others, he said.

The North Fork Mono tribe chairman, Hon Ron Goode, who also contributed to the assessment, said it was the first time the state’s native population had been included in the report, despite the fact that native Californians were among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

But before colonization, Goode said, the native population would not have been so vulnerable, because it was more mobile and could nimbly adapt to changes in the climate. “They knew how to move around and where to go and let something rest,” he said. “Now, it’s different. We’re locked into our reservations; rancherias; allotment lands. We can’t just run away – those are our lands and that’s it.”

The report offers some suggestions of how to mitigate the disastrous effects it predicts, Weisenmiller said, from land use planning to reducing California’s greenhouse gas emissions, just under half of which come from transportation.

“The good news is that it’s not ‘here’s the dire impact’, but ‘here’s some ways to mitigate the dire impacts’. It should give people some hope,” Weisenmiller said.

But Goode said he was not sure whether to be hopeful. “I won’t say that I’m hopeful. I would like to feel hopeful, but I don’t see it happening right now,” he said. “I don’t see the politicians stumbling over themselves to make that change.”

 

 

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