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TBR News August 8, 2020

Aug 08 2020

The Voice of the White House

Comments for August 8, 2020: Another Kennedy murder:

In July of 1940, at the Democratic convention held in Chicago, Joseph Kennedy Jr. was a delegate pledged to James Farley. During the course of the convention, Roosevelt’s men wished the nomination to be unanimous but young Kennedy refused to change his vote in spite of tremendous pressure put on him and his father by the Roosevelt camp.

The elder Kennedy had been an early Roosevelt supporter and had been given the Ambassadorship to England as a reward for his past contributions to the party. In this position, Kennedy enraged the British by his negative attitudes towards their government and his advice to Roosevelt not to support Britain militarily.

All of the State Department cables were intercepted and decoded by British intelligence and the American Embassy in London was bugged with the result that many anti-Roosevelt comments purporting to come from Kennedy were passed on to Roosevelt by Churchill. The ambassador was eventually recalled and a number of post-war British writers have attempted to portray Kennedy as a German spy, without the smallest degree of proof.

On August 12, 1944, Joseph Kennedy Jr. was piloting a special bomber loaded with explosives. It was intended that he aim the plane at a German rocket site near the French coast and parachute out while the flying bomb continued to its target.

Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft exploded in mid-air, instantly killing Kennedy and his co-pilot.

The fuses on the aircraft intended to explode the explosive cargo were designed to be activated by an FM radio beam. By coincidence, at the moment of the explosion, a British FM station, whose stated purpose was to send out false radio signals designed to disrupt incoming German V-1s, suddenly went on the air.

The British later apologized for their error, stating that they were “totally unaware” of the Kennedy mission.

Neither the German V-1, or “buzz bomb”, or the V-2, used any kind of radio control to direct them to their targets.

By the time of the Kennedy mission, British experts had thoroughly inspected sufficient crashed V-1s to realize this fact and were also aware that the V-2 long range rocket was set on its course at launch time. No radio interception on the part of the British or Americans would have had the slightest effect on the trajectory of either weapon and this was well known at the time.

In 1944, Joe Kennedy said to then-Senator Harry Truman at a Democratic strategy meeting in Boston, “Harry, what the hell are you doing campaigning for that crippled son-of-a-bitch that killed my son Joe?”

The Table of Contents

  • Trump is in electoral hot water. It could be even worse for him by November
  • Trumpism has taken over: but what happens to the Republican Party if Trump loses?
  • Pelosi’s In the Catbird Seat On COVID-19 Stimulus Negotiations
  • The Department of Homeland Security is a rogue agency. Democrats must take action
  • The Senate Should Ask Chad Wolf About His Illegal Appointment
  • Jerry Falwell Jr to take leave of absence after racy photo
  • Jesus the Essene
  • Encyclopedia of American Loons

 

 Trump is in electoral hot water. It could be even worse for him by November

The tide has turned and Trump is flailing. Even Texas and Georgia might be in play this year

August 7, 2020

by Art Cullen

The Guardian

President Trump is in deep trouble in the Midwest, which edged him over the top into the White House, and things can only get worse by November.

The pandemic is flaring up in Wisconsin, which Trump won four years ago. Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican up for election, is trailing her Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield in most polls and in fundraising. Two years ago, Ernst’s approval rating was near 60%. Now she is among the least popular senators, suffering the weight of one Donald Trump. In Ohio, the Republican speaker of the House was recently arrested and charged with taking a $60m bribe from a power company; the Ohio needle is moving steadily in Joe Biden’s favor. Polls of rural voters in swing states show Biden winning. He even has the edge in Texas – I’m not holding my breath, but who’da thunk? Is the Armageddon near?

Trump started trade wars with China, Mexico and Canada that have flattened manufacturing up and down the Mississippi River. Corn prices are at their lowest level in a decade. Meatpacking workers across the midwest were ordered on to unsafe kill floors, shoulder to shoulder, sending fear shuddering through communities as the coronavirus rages. It is all deeply unsettling, and the polls reflect it. Here in Storm Lake, Iowa, the police chief took a knee with Black Lives Matter protesters in Chautauqua Park. This is for real. This is not 2016.

Democratic women stirred up a blue wave in 2018 that started by taking over the House and is building into a tsunami that could topple Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Sen. Susan Collins is running behind in Maine. How does Senator Martha McSally make up a deficit against Democrat Mark Kelly, a former astronaut married to former congresswoman Gabby Giffords, an Arizona hero who survived an assassination attempt? Montana Governor Steve Bullock is running strong in his Democratic bid for the Senate, and cattlemen are restless under the big sky as big meat racks up record profits at their expense.

Meanwhile, McConnell is inching away from Trump. Their differences were exposed when they failed to come up with an unemployment benefits extension by the deadline on Friday. Millions will feel the pain, landlords and tenants alike. When Trump, in sheer panic, said he might delay the election, McConnell was quick to rebut him. Ernst would not comment. She is terrified.

On the day Trump was suggesting redlining in the suburbs, Barack Obama took the pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta to eulogize John Lewis and deliver a forceful defense of voting rights. Clearly, Obama is intent on playing a more active role than he did in 2016, particularly in mobilizing black voters. Obama is hardly done talking. Perhaps he might even help turn Georgia.

The pandemic is pretty much out of control. The economy is a wreck, with interest rates near zero. China finally bought some of our corn because it’s so cheap. We are in the grips of a drought that has farmers sweating low yields with low prices. Wildfires are spreading from Arizona to California along with Covid. Our one bright spot, baseball, might even have to shut down just when the Minnesota Twins are on a roll. No way Trump wins Minnesota, one of his flip targets. George Floyd looms large.

Trump says the only way he can lose is through election fraud. In fact, it seems more likely that the only way he can win is through fraud. In April, Wisconsin Republicans tried to stop voters in a key Wisconsin election for a supreme court justice that was a proxy on Trump – and Trump lost, as stubborn cheeseheads stood in line for hours at great personal infection danger to vote. He desperately needs Wisconsin. But the paper mills are shutting down, dairy operators are drowning in a glut of corporate milk, and furious teachers are organizing like never before.

In a series of legal opinions this spring, US supreme court chief justice John Roberts made clear that he is no presidential patsy. Trump’s abusive tweets came home to roost as the court declared its independence. Roberts had to endure presiding over that nauseating impeachment trial. He will not let Trump steal the election.

People are fed up with being cooped up and knocked down. They want some security right now. Biden has offered voters a steady rollout of plans to solve big problems, and with a heavy dose of decency and respect. His climate agenda is truly bold. He says he wants to be a “transformational” president, not just transitional. He will follow science to respond to the pandemic. That’s what people want to hear, not whining. “Why don’t they like me?” Trump wondered aloud. Because they don’t. That should be good enough to set this country right.

So long as everybody votes.

 

Trumpism has taken over: but what happens to the Republican Party if Trump loses?

Never Trump activists are hoping to purge his brand of nativist demagoguery but the end of Trump might not necessarily mean the end of Trumpism

August 8, 2020

by David Smith in Washington

The Guardian

Whither Trumpism?” said one. “What will a post-Trump GOP look like?” asked another. “Republicans prep for leadership battle if Trump goes down,” said a third. “On the trail: the first signs of a post-Trump GOP,” offered a fourth.

Anyone who remembers the 2016 presidential election knows it is too soon to write Donald Trump’s political obituary, but a recent crop of headlines illuminate a growing angst over the fate of the Republican party if, as polls currently suggest, he goes down to defeat in November.

Republican politicians are jostling for position with an eye on 2024. ‘Never Trump’ activists are hoping to purge his brand of nativist demagoguery from the party. Authors and commentators are pondering whether a post-Trump Republican party should resemble the pre-Trump one or if it needs to start over.

Peggy Noonan, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, asked: “Where did Donald Trump come from? Where is the GOP going? Should the whole thing be burned down? ” Bret Stephens, a columnist at the New York Times, noted that if Trump loses, “the future of the party will be up for grabs. It’s time to start thinking about who can grab it, who should, and who will.”

The debate has been fueled by hints Trump’s current iron grip on the party might weaken. Republican leaders roundly rejected his idea of postponing the election because of the coronavirus pandemic. In negotiations over the latest economic stimulus package, they brushed aside his proposals for a payroll tax cut and a new FBI building.

Meanwhile Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, signaled to vulnerable Republican senators in tough election races that they can distance themselves from Trump if they deem it necessary, according to CNN.

But the prognostications remain guarded for two reasons. First, the election is far from over. Although Trump faces the headwinds of the pandemic, mass unemployment and historically weak poll numbers, he still has time to spring surprises against his opponent Joe Biden in this most unpredictable of campaigns.

Second, the end of Trump would not necessarily mean the end of Trumpism. Nine in 10 Republicans still approve of the job he is doing as president, according to Gallup. A SurveyMonkey poll for Axios last December showed Republican voters’ favourite picks for 2024 led by Mike Pence, with Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr in second place, followed by Nikki Haley, Ivanka Trump, Marco Rubio and Mike Pompeo.

It may be too late to put the Trump genie back in the bottle. That is the view of Stuart Stevens, one of the party’s most successful campaign strategists, whose contribution to the burgeoning literature on its identity crisis is It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump.

“He is the Republican party. There’s not even like an opposition government in exile. There’s no De Gaulle; there’s just Vichy France. The party is the party that endorses Roy Moore [US senate candidate in Alabama accused of sexual misconduct] and attacks John Bolton [former national security adviser]. What we saw as a recessive gene in the party turned out to be a dominant gene,” Stevens said.

Stevens continued: “If you ever really want to get depressed, go read George Bush’s 2000 acceptance speech at the convention. It reads like a document from a lost civilisation. Who are these people? It’s like the Mayans. It’s all about humility and sacrifice and honor and service.”

In a recent interview with the Guardian, the Democratic strategist Paul Begala argued that a crushing defeat for Trump would be a catalyst for Republicans to reassess and revivify, just as Democrats did after three clarifying defeats in 1980, 1984 and 1988. But Stevens believes it will take more than one election.

“Trumpism itself has been deeply unleashed in the party and I think history tells us, darkly, that when a major party legitimizes hate, which the Republican party has, it’s very difficult to get it undone,” he said. “It takes time, often a lot of blood.”

Republicans’ core base – older white men – shrinks with every election cycle as America’s demographics diversify, while Trump has alienated many suburban voters. “The party has no desire to change. The only thing that will make the party want to change is utter fear. That’s never very convincing to voters because they see it as transparent. So I think we’re in for a period of centre-left government,” Stevens said.

The pandemic has provided a national stage for moderate Republican state governors such as Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Larry Hogan of Maryland and Phil Scott of Vermont, all leaders of traditionally Democratic states and therefore seen as having potential crossover appeal. John Kasich, the former Ohio governor who ran in 2016, could mount another bid in 2024, seeking to cast Trump as an aberration that should never have happened.

But they are likely to face an uphill struggle against loyalists – potentially Senators Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley or even the Fox News host Tucker Carlson – claiming to be Trump’s true heir. Haley, the ex-governor of South Carolina and Trump’s ex-ambassador to the UN, has been careful to distance herself from the president at some moments and hug his base at others.

An internal struggle may prove cathartic. Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, said: “You’re going to have a lot of Trumpers putting a Don Jr or a Tom Cotton forward and you’re going to have a lot of other folks putting a Kasich or Larry Hogan or whoever else may emerge in that space.

“So that’s the battle that lies ahead. We’re going to go through it and we have to go through it. It may mean the splintering of the party. It may mean the formation of something else. We don’t know exactly how Republicans will reassess and value what Republicanism is.”

Tensions have played out recently on Capitol Hill, where a third of the House’s 198 Republican members have been elected since 2016, most following Trump’s agenda. Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, daughter of the former vice-president Dick Cheney, strongly supports Trump on some issues but has criticized him on foreign policy and the pandemic, prompting calls for her to resign as the No 3 House Republican.

Michael Steel, a former aide to John Boehner when he was House speaker, suggested that this offers a preview of how pro-Trump Republicans will seek to rationalise election defeat: by scapegoating factions of the party that were insufficiently loyal. “They need to be able to blame anyone and anything other than President Trump himself, so they are creating a straw man argument that he is being stabbed in the back by a fifth column of disloyal Republicans rather than by his own words and actions,” Steel wrote in the Dispatch, a conservative website.

Cheney is seen as defending at least some traditional Republican shibboleths abandoned by Trump, such as fiscal responsibility and a hawkish stance towards Russia and other adversaries. Challengers to the president’s “America first” legacy might also soften the party’s positions on the climate crisis, immigration and trade.

But they would need a thick skin: even in defeat, Trump would still have Twitter, Fox News and the Make America Great Again movement at his disposal for heckling.

Thomas Patterson, a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, argues that the party is caught in five traps of its own making, which Trump has only deepened: a steady movement to the right; demographic change; influence by rightwing media blunting its ability to govern; big tax cuts that created a split between its working-class supporters and marketplace conservatives; a disregard for democratic norms and institutions.

Patterson, author of a new book, Is the Republican Party Destroying Itself?, believes it will be a long road back. “If you look at what happened in 2018, the Republicans took quite a drubbing in the midterm election, and there was no lesson learned,” he said. “The way rightwing media spun it was the reason Republicans lost is because too many of them tried to move toward the centre.

“Even if they take a real beating in 2020, I think it’s probably going to take two or three of those beatings. They can talk all they want about reinvention but, as long as the primary nominating process keeps coughing up these conservatives, it’s going to be really hard for them to make the change.

“When you ask, who are the moderate leaders who are going to be in the vanguard of that change that have credibility with the base and elsewhere, boy, that’s a really short list. They pretty well wiped themselves clean of the moderate leadership.”

Pelosi’s In the Catbird Seat On COVID-19 Stimulus Negotiations

The Republicans desperately need a relief bill but can’t pass anything on their own.

August 7, 2020

by Martin Longman

Washington Monthly

“We are very far apart. It’s most unfortunate.” That’s how Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi characterized her negotiations with the White House. It was typical of her often laconic style when she is in the driver’s seat. What she meant was that Donald Trump’s emissaries must be spending a lot of time smoking a crack pipe if they think she’s going to follow their directives.

White House officials and Democratic leaders ended a three-hour negotiation Thursday evening without a coronavirus relief deal or even a clear path forward, with both sides remaining far apart on critical issues.

“We’re still a considerable amount apart,” said White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows after emerging from the meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. President Trump called into the meeting several times, but they were unable to resolve key issues.

Pelosi called it a “consequential meeting” in which the differences between the two parties were on display.

“They didn’t take the virus seriously in the beginning, they’re not taking the consequences of the virus seriously at this time,” she said. “And that’s why it’s hard to come to terms.”

Pelosi knows that the country urgently needs the federal government to offer more relief from the ravages of the COVID-19 crisis, especially with the moratorium on evictions expiring at the end of July. There are more than 30 million Americans who are relying on enhanced unemployment benefits, which have also expired. But the Republicans refuse to sign off on her House bill, so they now must convince her to provide something less all-encompassing. Yet, she’s feeling comfortable in her position.

Failure to reach a deal in the midst of a global pandemic just three months before an election could create major political issues for lawmakers. A group of endangered Senate Republicans whose elections in November could determine control of the chamber have expressed particular anxiety about the impasse.

The small-business Paycheck Protection Program will expire on Saturday, leading to more layoffs. Dealing with these lapses will cost money that Republican negotiators don’t want to spend.

Despite the weak economic conditions and the continued spread of the virus, a compromise has remained distant. In an interview on CNBC on Thursday, Pelosi said Republicans’ refusal to recognize the needs that exist in the country is standing in the way of getting an agreement.

“Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn,” Pelosi said. “That’s the problem. See, the thing is, they don’t believe in governance.”

Over in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is helpless. He doesn’t have the votes to pass anything unless it relies almost entirely on Democratic votes. That’s why Pelosi is just waiting for the White House to cave to her demands. She wants money for food stamps and childcare. She wants money for the post office, so it can handle all the ballots that will be cast by mail in the upcoming election. She wants generous unemployment benefits. She wants a huge package of aid for the states. And she doesn’t want to offer legal immunity against anyone getting sued for exposing their employees to the virus.

The Republicans’ best play is to give her what she wants, so she will either win substantively or politically. In fact, it’s possible she’ll get what she wants and also get the credit, although that’s usually too much to ask.

 

The Department of Homeland Security is a rogue agency. Democrats must take action

The agency has been spying on protesters and journalists. Congress must force the DHS to massively reform – or disband

August 7, 2020

by Trevor Timm

The Guardian

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a rogue intelligence agency that needs to be shut down

It’s hard to reach any other conclusion on the heels of the DHS sending federal militarized police into Portland last month, where camouflaged and unidentified officers indiscriminately sprayed protesters with teargas and rubber bullets for more than two weeks. But even after the agency reached an agreement with Portland officials to leave, virtually every day we learn more about the DHS abusing its vast surveillance powers to spy on journalists, protesters and immigrants.

The Nation’s Ken Klippenstein, who has been breaking more scoops about the DHS than almost any other reporter alive, reported earlier this week that the DHS has been gathering information on activists who the agency thinks are involved in the antifa movement in an apparent attempt to tie them to foreign powers.

An intelligence report leaked to the Nation included “a readout of these individuals’ personal information, including their social security numbers, home addresses and social media accounts, much of the data generated by the DHS’s Tactical Terrorism Response Teams”. As Klippenstein notes, the attempt to tie activists to foreign powers is key, as it would open up even more invasive and warrantless surveillance methods available to the DHS. (It’s worth noting that the federal government hasn’t been able to tie any protester it has arrested to antifa, let alone a foreign power.)

“They targeted Americans like they’re al-Qaida,” a source with knowledge of the surveillance operations told the Nation. If you think this sounds like an exaggeration, consider this: another leaked DHS document, this one posted by Lawfare’s editor-in-chief, Ben Wittes, showed that the DHS was creating “baseball cards” of arrested protesters. As the Washington Post noted: “Historically, military and intelligence officials have used such cards for biographical dossiers of suspected terrorists, including those targeted in lethal drone strikes.”

After this information was made public, DHS officials responded by compiling “intelligence dossiers” on two journalists – Wittes and the New York Times reporter Mike Baker – and distributed it to law enforcement around the country.

Those documents targeting journalists were also leaked to the press, forcing the DHS acting chief, Chad Wolf, to express regret and curtail the practice. He supposedly reassigned the DHS official in charge of the creation of the dossiers. But given how the DHS has been issuing a bevy of false statements to the public, to Congress and even judges, how can anyone trust anything they say?

In yet another story, we also learned last Friday that the DHS has been reading and analyzing the content of communications of a number of protesters, and widely sharing what they learned to other law enforcement officials. Earlier in the month, the agency had explicitly told Congress, according to the House Intelligence Committee, that the DHS “had neither collected nor exploited or analyzed information obtained from the devices or accounts of protesters or detainees”. The leaked document showing they had was created six days before that testimony.

The fact is that while the national scrutiny on their actions is new, the DHS has been engaged in similar behavior for years. In 2018, in the lead up to the midterm elections, the agency “created a secret database of activists, journalists and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan and in some cases, placed alerts on their passports”. Many journalists covering the migrant caravan reported invasive border stops seemingly targeting them for their work – a chilling violation of press freedom that went virtually unpunished.

There are countless other examples: Immigration and Customs (Ice), under the DHS’s control and on dubious legal grounds, has been buying massive amounts of cellphone location data on the private market to help it track down immigrants. Are they also doing the same to protesters? DHS-operated drones and airplanes have been spying on protests around the country. And we know the agency has has been regularly surveilling Black Lives Matter protests since Ferguson in 2014.

The House intelligence committee has reportedly stepped up its investigations into the DHS, but how much more information do we need to know before they act?

Unfortunately, some people in the Democratic leadership – especially the House intelligence committee chairman, Adam Schiff – have been placating and covering for intelligence agencies for the past four years, despite claiming that the Trump administration is a dire threat to the republic. Schiff even went as far as killing bipartisan surveillance reform that could have protected immigrants and DREAMers.

Congress has the opportunity to cut off funding to the DHS if it doesn’t dramatically reform. But they should go even further. It’s far past time that Congress dismantle the agency entirely. And if Schiff won’t act, Democrats should find someone who will.

          Trevor Timm is the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation

 

The Senate Should Ask Chad Wolf About His Illegal Appointment

August 5, 2020,

by Ben Berwick and Rachel Homer

lawfare

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf will testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Aug. 6 regarding the deployment of federal officers to Portland, Oregon. While there are many critical questions to ask about the specter of federal officers occupying an American city, senators should not lose sight of an issue lurking in the background—the fact that Wolf’s tenure as acting secretary violates the law.

The nightly clashes with protesters in Portland seem to have abated for the moment following the withdrawal of federal officers. But the fact that the clashes took place is all the more disturbing because officers were arguably taking orders from illegitimate superiors. Wolf’s tenure—and that of several of the other highest-ranking officials within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), such as Ken Cuccinelli, whose laughable title is “Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services”—is not authorized by the federal statutes that govern the use of acting officials. Therefore, Wolf’s service in an “acting” capacity violates the Constitution’s Appointments Clause, which requires that high-ranking government officials serve in their positions only with the approval of the Senate.

Wolf’s unlawful service is far from an arcane constitutional question. This scenario—high-ranking officials wielding the immense power of the U.S. government without being subject to the advice and consent of the Senate—is exactly what the Founders sought to avoid when they included the Appointments Clause in the Constitution.

As an agency, DHS has been particularly willing to advance President Trump’s interests and disregard the law in numerous circumstances. This may be attributable to a complicated mix of factors, but there is little doubt that the lack of permanent leadership—individuals confirmed by the Senate—and the installation of Trump loyalists in key positions throughout the agency plays an important role. At the very least, the president’s refusal to nominate anyone for high-ranking positions within DHS deprives the Senate of important opportunities—through the scrutiny of confirmation hearings—to ensure that nominees are competent to serve in leadership roles in a critical government agency, conduct oversight and otherwise act as a check on the agency’s worst impulses.

The Senate has such an opportunity tomorrow and should use it to press Wolf not only on the events that transpired in Portland and his overall fitness for the critical role in which he now serves, but also on the legal validity of his position. Below, we suggest some possible questions.

Before getting to those questions, though, it is important to understand the legal context in more detail. The fact that Wolf’s tenure violates the law and the Constitution exposes many DHS actions to legal challenge. This includes the government’s conduct in Portland and—to point to another recent and high-profile example—DHS’s recent refusal to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is memorialized in a policy signed by Wolf. Indeed, recent lawsuits have raised such claims, and more are likely to follow. (Full disclosure: Our organization, Protect Democracy—along with lawyers from Debevoise & Plimpton and Perkins Coie—represents several protesters and organizations in a lawsuit against the federal government for its actions in Portland, which includes legal claims regarding Wolf’s position as acting secretary. Protect Democracy has brought similar challenges regarding other DHS officials.)

Legal Context

To the Framers of the Constitution, the king’s appointment power was “the most insidious and powerful weapon of eighteenth century despotism,” one that the king used to appoint “‘miniature infinitesimal Deities’” to spread the “weeds of tyranny” across the colonies. The Framers feared that if they misallocated the appointment power, the Constitution would fail, even if it were “in all other respects the best in the world.” To avoid the British system’s flaws, they decided not to give the president—in the words of Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Paper No. 76—the “sole disposition of offices,” which might result in high-ranking officials who had “no other merit than that of … possessing the necessary insignificance and pliancy to render them the obsequious instruments of his pleasure.”

Instead, the Framers drafted a Constitution that required the Senate’s “Advice and Consent” for the appointment of “Officers of the United States.” The Appointments Clause distinguishes between two types of officers: principal officers, who can serve only with the Senate’s advice and consent, and “inferior Officers,” who are subject to the same advice and consent requirement unless Congress “by law vest[s] the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.” In other words, Congress can decide whether inferior officers will be appointed by someone other than the president and whether they need the Senate’s advice and consent; but principal officers must receive the Senate’s advice and consent.

Recognizing that Senate confirmation can take time and that the government must continue to function, Congress has enacted statutes to allow for vacant offices that require the Senate’s advice and consent (sometimes referred to as “PAS positions” or “PAS offices,” an odd acronym for “presidential appointment with Senate confirmation”) to be filled temporarily by acting officials. As most relevant to the current discussion, DHS’s organic statute explicitly requires the secretary of homeland security to be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate (as required by the Appointments Clause) but also includes provisions that govern the order of succession for the position of acting secretary of homeland security when the office of the secretary is vacant.

Another statute, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), is “the exclusive means for temporarily authorizing an acting official to perform the functions and duties of” a vacant PAS office unless “a statutory provision expressly … designates an officer or employee to perform the functions and duties of a specified office temporarily in an acting capacity,” or expressly authorizes another official to make that designation. The FVRA limits the time during which an office may be filled by an acting official to 210 days (with certain exceptions not relevant here).

It should seem obvious at this point that the law governing vacancies is notoriously complex and convoluted. But it can be boiled down to four simple propositions as applied to Wolf: First, Wolf is not the acting secretary of homeland security under the DHS succession statute. Second, the FVRA does not control the order of succession when the office of the secretary is vacant; but even if it did, Wolf would not be the acting secretary because the applicable time limit has expired. Third, because Wolf is not the lawful acting secretary under either statute, his attempt to exercise the power of that office violates the Appointments Clause. And fourth, because Wolf is not the lawful acting secretary, many of his actions are null and void.

The DHS Succession Statute

Under the relevant provisions of the succession statute, vacancies in the office of the secretary of homeland security are to be filled by the deputy secretary of homeland security and then, if that office is also vacant, by the under secretary for management. Where all of those offices are vacant, the statute provides for a secretary-established order of succession.

In April 2019, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen—the most recent Senate-confirmed secretary of homeland security—tried to amend the existing succession order (see Enclosure B to the linked letter to the comptroller general from the House Committee on Homeland Security, which in turn refers to Executive Order 13753 for a hierarchy for DHS succession) right before she resigned, in order to make Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan the next in line to be the acting secretary. However, she amended only section II.B, the provision of the succession order that applies to situations where the secretary is incapacitated due to “a disaster or catastrophic emergency.” Section II.A, the portion of the succession order that applies to “the Secretary’s death, resignation, or inability to perform the functions of the Office” (emphasis added)—the section that applied to Nielsen’s circumstances—remained unchanged.

When Nielsen resigned, therefore, Executive Order 13753 still governed the order of succession. But upon her resignation, McAleenan assumed the position of acting secretary, despite the fact that two other Senate-confirmed individuals were ahead of him to succeed to that office. Then, on Nov. 8, 2019, McAleenan issued a directive (see Enclosure A) attempting to amend the order of succession to elevate the under secretary for strategy, policy, and plans to be fourth in line to lead the agency. When McAleenan resigned on Nov. 13, 2019, Wolf—who had been confirmed to the relevant under secretary position on that same day—purported to become acting secretary. But Wolf’s purported authority to serve in that position rests on McAleenan’s invalid change to the succession order—invalid because McAleenan himself was not the lawful acting secretary when he issued the order.

In a very recent court filing in Casa de Maryland v. Wolf, a pending case challenging the legality of Wolf’s tenure as acting secretary, the government for the first time addressed the flaws in the succession order. In short, the government admits that Nielsen’s amendment to the succession order did not in fact change the order of succession in situations where the vacancy in the office of the secretary arises due to a resignation, but urges the court to rely on its representation about what Nielsen meant to do, rather than what she actually did. (In making this argument, the government relies on a memorandum from the DHS general counsel—later signed by Nielsen—in which the entire “Discussion” section—the bulk of the memo—is redacted.) But it is a fundamental principle of legal interpretation that courts interpret and enforce the law as written, without reference to what the drafters might have intended (unless there is some ambiguity to be resolved, which there is not here).

The FVRA

          As discussed previously, the DHS succession statute is not the only potentially relevant law. In most cases, the FVRA governs the president’s abilities to fill vacancies in PAS positions. However, Wolf’s service as acting secretary violates the statute because the relevant time limit on the tenure of an acting official has long expired.

Based on its recent legal filing in Casa de Maryland, the government does not appear to dispute that the DHS succession statute—and not the FVRA—governs the order of succession when the office of the secretary is vacant. The government is correct on that point, as the FVRA gives way to a more specific agency succession statute. However, the government takes the argument a step further and contends that the FVRA is entirely irrelevant to Wolf’s tenure. That is incorrect. While the DHS succession statute displaces the FVRA in some respects—in particular, in determining the line of succession when the office of the secretary is vacant—it also incorporates the FVRA in other respects, including the FVRA’s time limits (as explained in far more detail in an amicus brief filed on Aug. 3 by the Constitutional Accountability Center). That makes sense as a practical matter. If the DHS succession statute did not incorporate the FVRA’s time limits, as the government contends, DHS would be able to unilaterally pick anyone to act as secretary indefinitely simply by properly amending the succession order. That is not a result that Congress would have intended. And, as explained below, it would present significant constitutional problems.

In enacting the FVRA, Congress sought to provide the president with some flexibility to temporarily fill vacancies while also ensuring that the statute would not allow the president to disregard entirely the Senate’s advice-and-consent role. To strike that balance, the FVRA (and, by extension, the DHS succession statute) allows acting officers to serve for no more than 210 days (with certain limited exceptions not relevant here). But McAleenan sought to amend the DHS succession order on the 214th day of his purported tenure as acting secretary. And because the 210-day clock does not reset when a new acting secretary assumes office, Wolf cannot serve—and can never have served—as acting secretary, because the clock ran out before his time in that role even began.

The Appointments Clause

The Appointments Clause requires Senate confirmation for those who serve as an officer of the United States. While Congress can provide for alternative mechanisms for the appointment of inferior officers, there is no such exception for principal officers. This creates two problems for Wolf.

First, Wolf is an officer of the United States. Even if he is serving as an inferior officer—more on that in a moment—his tenure in the acting secretary position violates the Appointments Clause because he does not satisfy the statutory conditions established by Congress.

But there is an even more fundamental problem with Wolf’s service as acting secretary. For reasons articulated by Justice Clarence Thomas in a concurring opinion in National Labor Relations Board v. Southwest General, Wolf’s tenure might be unlawful even if his appointment satisfied the DHS succession statute or the FVRA. In Thomas’s words, “[a]ppointing principal officers under the FVRA”—or, by the same logic, under an agency succession statute—“raises grave constitutional concerns because the Appointments Clause forbids the President to appoint principal officers without the advice and consent of the Senate.” One might get around this constitutional problem if the fact that Wolf is acting secretary—and thus purportedly will be exercising those powers on a temporary basis—somehow renders him an inferior officer rather than a principal officer. But that would seem to be inconsistent with the Supreme Court’s holdings in Morrison v. Olson and Edmond v. United States, where the court has described tenure in office as only one factor—and perhaps not even an important one—in determining whether an officer is principal or inferior.

In a case decided more than 120 years ago, the Supreme Court did suggest that it might be permissible to fill the vacant office of a principal officer without Senate confirmation under “special and temporary conditions.” But, as Thomas explained in a footnote in his concurring opinion in Southwest General, Wolf is not saved by this exception. No special or exigent circumstances accompanied Wolf’s elevation to acting secretary. And his service is far from temporary. There has been no Senate-confirmed secretary of homeland security for nearly 500 days, and in the absence of any nominee, there is no end in sight to the acting secretary’s time in the role. Even if there are situations in which someone not confirmed for the job might exercise the power of a principal officer without running afoul of the Constitution, this is not such a case.

The Remedy

If, as explained above, Wolf has no valid claim to the position of acting secretary, the actions he takes while purporting to exercise the authority of that position are void. The FVRA provides that an action taken by someone who is serving in violation of the statute “shall have no force or effect.” But the result would be the same even in a context where the FVRA is not the operative statute. As Judge Randolph Moss recently held in a case involving a successful challenge to the appointment of Cuccinelli to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, agency action taken by an officer who is not lawfully serving in that position must be set aside under the Administrative Procedure Act.

Finally, the serious constitutional defect presented by Wolf’s service calls for an equally serious remedy. The Supreme Court has described the Appointments Clause as “among the significant structural safeguards of the constitutional scheme” and has emphasized that a violation of the clause should not be treated as a mere breach of “etiquette or protocol.” Therefore, as the court held in Ryder v. United States, “one who makes a timely challenge to the constitutional validity of the appointment of an officer who adjudicates his case is entitled to a decision on the merits of the question and whatever relief may be appropriate if a violation indeed occurred.”

What the Senate Should Ask

It is critical that the Senate take the opportunity to get more answers regarding Wolf’s legal authority to act as secretary. Not only do these questions go to Wolf’s competence to run DHS and the validity of his actions, but the hearing is also a forum to raise broader questions about President Trump’s preference for acting officials and total disregard of the Senate’s constitutional role in confirming high-ranking officials. As the president said in one interview: “I like acting [sic] because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility.”

Senators should consider asking Wolf some or all of the following questions:

  • Please explain the source of your legal authority to exercise the functions and duties of the office of the secretary of homeland security. Does it rely on the DHS succession statute (6 U.S.C. § 113), the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, or both?
  • In a recent court filing, the Department of Justice has claimed that you can serve in the position of acting secretary indefinitely without ever being confirmed by the Senate. Is that your view?

○ How do you reconcile that view with the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, which requires that principal officers of the United States can only serve with the advice and consent of the Senate?

○ Do you agree that the individual running the Department of Homeland Security is a principal officer?

  • In defending your tenure as acting secretary, the government has relied on a memorandum from then-General Counsel John Mitnick, which was later signed by then-Secretary Nielsen. However, the entire “Discussion” section of that memorandum has been redacted. Can you shed light on what has been redacted and provide us with an unredacted copy of the memorandum?
  • Why have you not been nominated to serve as the secretary and come before the Senate for confirmation?

○ Has the president or anyone else in the White House expressed to you a preference for you to remain as acting secretary rather than nominating someone to serve as a Senate-confirmed secretary?

 

Jerry Falwell Jr to take leave of absence after racy photo

August 8, 2020

BBC News

The president of one of the world’s largest evangelical Christian colleges has agreed to step aside after posting a photo of himself, trousers unzipped.

Jerry Falwell, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, said he would take an indefinite leave of absence from Liberty University in Virginia.

The college board did not provide a reason for the move.

Mr Falwell had conceded the Instagram photo was “weird”, but defended it as “all in good fun”.

The university said in a statement on Friday: “The Executive Committee of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees, acting on behalf of the full Board, met today and requested that Jerry Falwell, Jr take an indefinite leave of absence from his roles as President and Chancellor of Liberty University, to which he has agreed, effective immediately.”

The college has a strict code of conduct for how students must behave at the university, including barring premarital sex and the consumption of media either on or off campus “that is offensive to Liberty’s standards and traditions”, such as lewd lyrics, anti-Christian messages, sexual content and nudity.

Hairstyles and fashions are to “avoid extremes” and students are to dress modestly at all times.

The photo showed Mr Falwell with his arm around a woman who was not his wife. Her shorts also appeared to be unbuttoned. His other hand was holding a glass of dark-coloured liquid.

“More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht,” the accompanying caption read. “I promise that’s just black water in my glass.”

He later deleted the post.

The image provoked outrage and charges of hypocrisy from the political right and left, with Republican lawmaker Mark Waller, chairman of the powerful House Republican Caucus, calling on Mr Falwell to step down.

“Jerry Falwell Jr’s ongoing behaviour is appalling,” Mr Walker, an advisory board member at the university, wrote on Twitter. “I’m convinced Falwell should step down.”

Speaking to WLNI, a local Virginia radio station, earlier this week, Mr Falwell acknowledged the criticism and identified the woman in the photo as his wife’s assistant.

“Yeah, it was weird. She’s pregnant. She couldn’t get her pants zipped and I was like trying to like… I had on a pair of jeans I haven’t worn in a long time and couldn’t get zipped either. So, I just put my belly out like hers,” he said.

Liberty University, a private evangelical institution based in Lynchburg, was founded by Mr Falwell’s father in 1971.

Upon his father’s death in 2007, Mr Falwell was appointed as president.

Mr Falwell Jr has courted controversy throughout his tenure. In May, he tweeted a photo of a face mask decorated with one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe, a reference to a racism scandal that had engulfed the Democratic governor of Virginia.

A month earlier, a Liberty student filed a class-action lawsuit against the university over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

And last year, the former editor of the school’s student newspaper wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post newspaper, accusing Mr Falwell of silencing students and professors “who reject his pro-Trump politics”.

Mr Falwell was among the earliest evangelical supporters of the current US president, often credited for helping delivery that constituency to then-candidate Trump in 2016.

 

Jesus the Essene

Foreword

God Hates Fags!

 

“It’s NOT OK to be gay. It will damn the soul, destroy the life, and doom any nation that tolerates such evil. God Hates Fags is a profound theological statement, which America needs more than it needs oxygen or bread.” — Westboro Baptist Church “News Release,” May 3, 1999.

Although an extreme attitude, the anti-homosexual attitudes expressed by the mid-west Baptist church are prevalent in the Evangelical and far-right Christian churches. A number have called for the imprisonment of all homosexuals and a few demand their execution.

The interesting part of this hysterical and irrational hatred can be found in the self-hatred of closet gays but from a historical point of view, the great irony is that the icon of their religion, Jesus, was himself a practicing homosexual!

‘Bar Nasha’ Jesus name for himself (son of man)

The basis of it is a scroll found at cave #3 on the Dead Sea in 1953.

It is on parchment (used only for important documents…the rest were on papyrus) and was written at the time of Jesus, about 55-50 CE.

The document is the only extant period reference to Jesus; all the others are two hundred years later, and in the case of Josephus, later Christian forgeries.

This has been forensically tested as to age, type of ink, handwriting etc and clearly located at the time and place indicated.

The text of the Dead Sea Scrolls were written in four different languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean.

The scroll in question here, from cave #3 is in Nabataean  used from the 2nd century BCE to the 4th century CE

From this we discover that Jesus was a Jew but born in Alexandria, Egypt, thirteen years after the date ascribed to his nativity.

His parents emigrated back to Palestine where the young Jesus joined the Essene religious movement. He became involved in their revolts against the occupying Roman power, was one of the leaders in a revolt attempt, fled when the Roman troops attacked in a pre-emptive strike, leaving many of his cult members to be captured by the Romans and all later crucified.

He fled with the remainder of the Essenes to the desert where he remained until he died. The interesting aspect of this is that the Essene cult was an all-male agricultural commune and very specifically homosexual in nature and pratice.

In the scroll, Jesus’ sexual orientation is specifically addressed and names of his male lovers covered.

It should be noted that the scrolls were prepared by members of the Essene cult who were themselves homosexuals and therefore not critical of Jesus orientation.

Jesus was not a Nazerene but an Alexandrian Jew. His family moved to Judea when Jesus and his two brothers were very young. Jesus’ elder brother was a member of the agricultural Essene cult and Jesus joined this group.

During the Procuratorship of Antonius Felix (52 to 58 CE) Jesus amassed a mob of about 30,000 Palestinian Jewish dissidents, planning to attack Jerusalem and drive out the Roman garrison. One of Jesus’s Essene associates, a man named Judas, informed Felix of the impending raid and it was stopped by Roman troops with a heavy loss of life for the rebels. Many were taken prisoner, tried and crucified for rebellion against the Roman government but the period records show, very clearly, that the leader, Jesus from Alexandria, escaped and vanished into the desert. This man came out of the desert with a force of 30,000 and went up the Mount of Olives in order to fall on the city of Jerusalem, expel the Roman garrison and become ruler. Felix engaged the Egyptian in battle and dispersed his followers. The leader himself succeeded in escaping.

It may not be without significance that the clash took place on the Mount of Olives. That was the best place from which to make an attempt on Jerusalem.

Josephus writes about the plot of an Egyptian Jew under the procurator Felix (52 to 58  CE.). The history of Josephus is full of similar occurrences. They show the state of mind of the Jewish population at the time of Jesus. An attempted putsch by the Alexandrian prophet, Jesus, would be fully in accord with it.

If we think of his undertaking as such an attempt, the betrail of Judas becomes understandable as well.

Pontius Pilatus known in the English-speaking world as Pontius Pilate was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from AD 26–36. He is best known as the alleged judge at the trial of Jesus. As prefect, he served under Emperor Tiberius.

Marcus Antonius Felix was the Roman procurator of Iudaea Province 52-58, in succession to Ventidius Cumanus.

Felix was the younger brother of the Greek freedman Marcus Antonius Pallas. Pallas served as a secretary of the treasury during the reign of the Emperor Claudius. Felix was a Greek freedman either of Claudius, according to which theory Josephus (Antiq. xx. 7) calls him Claudius Felix, or for Claudius’s mother Antonia Minor, a daughter of Triumvir Mark Antony to Octavia Minor and niece of Emperor Augustus. According to Tacitus, Pallas and Felix descended from the Greek Kings of Arcadia. Felix became the procurator by the petition of his brother.

Felix’s cruelty and licentiousness, coupled with his accessibility to bribes (see Book of Acts 24:26), led to a great increase of crime in Judaea. The period of his rule was marked by internal feuds and disturbances, which he put down with severity.

After Paul the Apostle was arrested in Jerusalem and rescued from a plot against his life, the local Roman chiliarch Claudius Lysias transferred him to Caesarea, where he stood trial before Felix. On at least one further occasion Felix and his wife Drusilla heard Paul discourse, and later on frequently sent for Paul and talked with him (Acts 24:24-26). When Felix was succeeded as procurator, having already detained Paul for two years, he left him imprisoned as a favor to the Jews (Acts 24:27).

On returning to Rome, Felix was accused of using a dispute between the Jews and Syrians of Caesarea as a pretext to slay and plunder the inhabitants, but through the intercession of his brother, the freedman Pallas, who had great influence with the Emperor Nero, he escaped unpunished.

Porcius Festus succeeded him as procurator of Judea.

Jesus was an Essene, and Christianity as we know it today evolved from this sect of Judaism, with which it shared many ideas and symbols

The Essenes were a religious sect of Judaism that flourished from the 2nd century BCE to the the ist Century CE in Qumran, a plateau in the Judean desert along the Dead Sea. The origin of the name Essene is debated. Some credible possibilities are either a version of the Greek word for “holy,” or an Aramaic dialect term for “pious.” In their writings, they refer to themselves as the “Sons of Light”. Many scholars today believe there were a number of separate but related groups that had in common mystic, eschatological, messianic, and ascetic beliefs that were referred to as the “Essenes.”

The Essenes were an agricultural community that had a communistic approach to their life style. There was a common purse and shared wealth and much, if not most, of the first expressed Christian dogma came directly from the Essenes. Unfortunately, like the Spartans and Zulus who were essentially a military community cult, the agricultural Essenes were male-oriented and homosexual in nature. The Essenes were outlawed by the Romans, and many members were subsequently crucified in a general crackdown under Titus, not because of their sexual practices but because of their political opposition to Roman rule The small remnants of the Essenes retreated to the Dead Sea area and eventually died out.

The Essenes are discussed in detail by Josephus and Philo. Scholars believe that the community at Qumran that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls were Essenes, that Jesus was an Essene, and Christianity as we know it today evolved from this sect of Judaism, with which it shared many ideas and symbols The Essenes are best known today as the inhabitants from Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were located by Bedouins first in 1947.  It is now known that they were closely affiliated with the Hasidim, a sectarian group that included the disciples of Hillel and Menahem the Essene who left for Damascus in 20 BCE.

The Essenes were the followers of a group of priests who had essentially rejected the Second Temple. They argued that the Essene community was itself the new Temple, although they did not reject the notion of the temple outright. Eventually, they believed, they would be triumphant, gaining control of the temple and remaking it according to their own ideals. Accordingly, the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 was for them a symbol of imminent victory. With this came the end of the Sadducees and the end of the house of Shammai. They also believed strongly in the end-times and wrote an entire scroll on that subject. The “Rule of War” detailed the battle plans for the “final” battle. When the Romans overran Jerusalem in 70 CE they believed that it was time to fight the last battle. They had been ready and prepared for it and therefore threw their entire beings and everything they had into it. They may have thought they were strong, but they were not strong enough to withstand the Romans. They were mercilessly and almost totally annihilated.

The accounts by Josephus and Philo show that the Essenes led a strictly celibate and communal life although Josephus speaks also of another “rank of Essenes” that did get married. According to Josephus, they had customs and observances such as collective ownership, the sharing of a common purse, they elected a leader to attend to the interests of them all whose orders they obeyed, were forbidden from swearing oaths and sacrificing animals controlled their temper and served as channels of peace, carried weapons only as protection against robbers, had no slaves but served each other and, as a result of communal ownership, did not engage in trading. Also, the Essenes were an all-male cult, using women to produce male children. Women who produced female children were expelled from the Essene community along with their female child. Like the Spartans, women were used exclusively for breeding purposes.

From the Essenes down through all the Christian communistic sects to the colonies of the communistic sects in the United States in our times, we can see that all of them are against marriage, but are just as likely to incline to community of women as to celibacy.

This would be unthinkable if it were merely ideological considerations that had brought people to this communism and its superstructure of ideas. It is easily explainable on the basis of its economic conditions.

Most of the Essenes rejected all contact with women.

Josephus says in the eighth chapter of the second book of his history of the Jewish War, from which these quotations on the Essenes have been taken. But in the eighteenth book of his Jewish Antiquities, chapter one, he says on the same question :

“They do not take wives and hold no slaves. They hold that the latter is unjust, and the first would give rise to disputes.”

“They reject marriage, but adopt strange children while they are still young and teachable, consider them as their own children and instruct them in their ways and customs. It is not that they would do away with or forbid marriage or the reproduction of the species. But they say that the unchastity of women must be guarded against, since none of them is satisfied with one man alone.”

In both places it is only practical considerations, not asceticism, that is the basis of opposition to marriage. Josephus knew the Essenes from his own observations. He had been successively with the Sadducees. Essenes and Pharisees until he stayed finally with the latter.

Thus Josephus is in an excellent position to tell us the basis of the Essenes’ hostility to marriage. That is not to say that what he says constitutes the ultimate cause; for we must constantly distinguish between the arguments someone adduces to justify his actions and the psychological motives that actually cause those actions. Very few men are clearly aware of these motives. It is a favorite procedure of our historians however to take the arguments that are handed down to them as the actual motives of the historical events and relations. They reject investigation into the actual motives as arbitrary “constructions,” that is they demand that our knowledge of history should never reach a higher point of view than it had at the time from which our sources come. All of the enormous body of facts that has been accumulated since then, which enables us to separate what is essential and typical in the most diverse historical phenomena from what is unessential and accidental, and to discover the actual motives of men behind what they profess – all this, they would say, is to be ignored.

 

Canadian ice shelf area bigger than Manhattan collapses due to rising temperatures

Last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic lost more than 40% of its areas in two days at the end of July

August 7, 2020

Reuters

The last fully intact ice shelf in the Canadian Arctic has collapsed, losing more than 40% of its area in just two days at the end of July.

The Milne Ice Shelf is at the fringe of Ellesmere Island, in the sparsely populated northern Canadian territory of Nunavut.

“Above normal air temperatures, offshore winds and open water in front of the ice shelf are all part of the recipe for ice shelf break up,” the Canadian Ice Service said in a tweet earlier this week.

“Entire cities are that size. These are big pieces of ice,” said Luke Copland, a glaciologist at the University of Ottawa who was part of the research team studying the Milne Ice Shelf.

The shelf’s area shrank by about 80 sq km. By comparison, the island of Manhattan in New York covers roughly 60 sq km.

“This was the largest remaining intact ice shelf, and it’s disintegrated, basically,” Copland said.

The Arctic has been warming at twice the global rate for the last 30 years, due to a process known as Arctic amplification. But this year, temperatures in the polar region have been intense. The polar sea ice hit its lowest extent for July in 40 years. Record heat and wildfires have scorched Siberian Russia.

Summer in the Canadian Arctic this year in particular has been 5C above the 30-year average, Copland said.

That has threatened smaller ice caps, which can melt quickly because they do not have the bulk that larger glaciers have to stay cold. As a glacier disappears, more bedrock is exposed, which then heats up and accelerates the melting process.

“The very small ones, we’re losing them dramatically,” he said, citing researchers’ reviews of satellite imagery. “You feel like you’re on a sinking island chasing these features, and these are large features. It’s not as if it’s a little tiny patch of ice you find in your garden.“

The ice shelf collapse on Ellesmere Island also meant the loss of the northern hemisphere’s last known epishelf lake, a geographic feature in which a body of freshwater is dammed by the ice shelf and floats atop ocean water.

A research camp, including instruments for measuring water flow through the ice shelf, was lost when the shelf collapsed. “It is lucky we were not on the ice shelf when this happened,” said researcher Derek Mueller of Carleton University in Ottawa, in a 2 August blogpost.

Ellesmere also lost its two St Patrick Bay ice caps this summer.

“We saw them going, like someone with terminal cancer. It was only a matter of time,” said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado.

The vanishing was confirmed last month, when Nasa satellite shots of the region revealed a complete lack of snow and ice, said Serreze, who studied the caps as a graduate student on his first trip to the Arctic years ago. At the time, he said, the caps had seemed like immovable parts of the geography.

“When I was there in the 1980s I knew every square inch of those ice caps,” he said. “You have the memories. It’s like your first girlfriend.“

Meanwhile, another two ice caps on Ellesmere – called Murray and Simmons – are also diminishing and are likely to disappear within 10 years, Serreze said.

 

 

Encyclopedia of American Loons

Jim Hochberg

Jim Hochberg is President of Hawaii Family Advocates, which like every organization with “Family” in the name, is virulently anti-gay and opposed to any family organization that fails to conform to their Biblically based ideal (it’s not Biblically based, of course; family structures in the Bible tend to be interestingly diverse). Hochberg has, as you’d expect from a bigoted loon, argued that marriage equality is only the first step on a slippery slope that will lead to bestiality, concubines and, to top it, persons marrying themselves. He also thinks that bisexual people will always want two spouses, which is, I suppose, just as obvious as the idea that every heterosexual man wants two wives (he also lists “bisexual marriage” as one of the bad consequences of legalizing same-sex marriage, which makes one wonder what he thinks “bisexuality” means).

Diagnosis: And that’s enough attention given to Jim Hochberg. Bigoted, stupid, and probably ultimately rather insignificant.

Jean Hoagland and Homeopaths Without Borders

Yes, it really exists (and we might even have covered them before, come to think of it). Homeopaths Without Borders is a non-profit organization that tries to capitalize on the reputation of Doctors Without Borders (no, HWB is not in anything but a homeopathic sense associated with Doctors Without Borders), with a result so hilariously sad that it is matched by little else I can think of. Their stated mission is “to provide humanitarian aid, homeopathic treatment and education by serving as partners with communities in need,” which essentially means that they go to areas with sub-standard healthcare to offer people nothing. At least they are relatively open about their lack of association with Doctors Without Borders on their website, which makes one wonder why they chose the name they did in the first place. It should at this point be unnecessary to mention that homeopathy is amazing bullshit – it’s really no more than prescientific witchcraft aimed at rebalancing the humors (no, it really is) – or that evidence pretty much conclusively shows that it has no beneficial effects on any health-related issues whatsoever.

HWB briefly made the news in 2010 (or maybe that was just this otherwise somewhat similar group), when they went to Haiti to provide humanitarian help after the Haiti earth quake. Presumably they didn’t manage to do much harm, but they did point out that they discovered a need for “remedies to treat dengue, malaria, cholera and other tropical diseases,” which should be cause for concern. These are real diseases that can actually kill you, and New Age pretense doctors should have no business clowning around and getting in the way of real doctors trying to help patients suffering from these diseases. HWB could also report that the University of Notre Dame in Port-au-Prince was to introduce a homeopathy course that could lead to a certification from the American Medical College of Homeopathy in Phoenix, which is not an institution that can issue diplomas worth quite as much as the paper on which they are printed (since they have ruined the paper by printing on it, that is).

In short, the HWB is not a humanitarian organization but an exploitative one. Oh, and Jean Hoagland, under whose name this post is listed, is the president of the American chapter.

Diagnosis: No, you are not helping. Think how much better the world could have been if these people had actually spent their efforts on something good instead of deluding themselves into thinking that they are practicing medicine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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