TBR News January 1, 2017

Jan 01 2017

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. January 1, 2017: “We will be out of the office until January 2, 2017. Ed”

The Crowley Files

January 1, 2017

by Harry von Johnston, PhD

Before he died in 2000, Robert T. Crowley, once a very high-ranking CIA officer in charge of Clandestine Operations, gave a significant number of his personal files to an author of intelligence subjects. When a CIA-connected other author learned of this, he went ballistic as they say, and from that day on, has screamed that the author never received anything at all and that he, and he alone, was able to “rescue” the files from Crowley’s widow. It has been reliably reported that the furious one not only runs a typical CIA DC-based  “institute” but has also been accused of owning very valuable art works stolen by the Germans during the war and later “rescued” by the CIA and sold with the money going into their pockets. Here is a very small sampling of what can be called the Crowley Files. Reading through them gives an entirely different picture of the CIA and its operations than their paid publicists try to shove off on a trusting public:

1000 BH  Extensive file (1,205 pages) of reports on Operation PHOENIX. Final paper dated January, 1971, first document dated October, 1967. Covers the setting up of Regional Interrogation Centers, staffing, torture techniques including electric shock, beatings, chemical injections. CIA agents involved and includes a listing of U.S. military units to include Military Police, CIC and Special Forces groups involved. After-action reports from various military units to include 9th Infantry, showing the deliberate killing of all unarmed civilians located in areas suspected of harboring or supplying Viet Cong units.

1002 BH Medium file (223 pages) concerning the fomenting of civil disobedience in Chile as the result of the Allende election in 1970. Included are pay vouchers for CIA bribery efforts with Chilean labor organization and student activist groups, U.S. military units involved in the final revolt, letter from T. Karamessines, CIA Operations Director to Chile CIA Station Chief Paul Wimert, passing along a specific order from Nixon via Kissinger to kill Allende when the coup was successful. Communications to Pinochet with Nixon instructions to root out by force any remaining left wing leaders.

1003 BH Medium file (187 pages) of reports of CIA assets containing photographs of Soviet missile sites, airfields and other strategic sites taken from commercial aircraft. Detailed descriptions of targets attached to each picture or pictures.

1004 BH Large file (1560 pages) of CIA reports on Canadian radio intelligence intercepts from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa (1958) and a list of suspected and identified Soviet agents or sympathizers in Canada, to include members of the Canadian Parliament and military.

1005 BH Medium file (219 pages) of members of the German Bundeswehr in the employ of the CIA. The report covers the Innere Führung group plus members of the signals intelligence service (the BND.) Another report, attached, covers CIA assets in German Foreign Office positions, in Germany and in diplomatic missions abroad.

1006:BH  Long file (1,287 pages) of events leading up to the killing of Josef Stalin in 1953 to include reports on contacts with L.P. Beria who planned to kill Stalin, believing himself to be the target for removal. Names of cut outs, CIA personnel in Finland and Denmark are noted as are original communications from Beria and agreements as to his standing down in the DDR and a list of MVD/KGB files on American informants from 1933 to present. A report on a blood-thinning agent to be made available to Beria to put into Stalin’s food plus twenty two reports from Soviet doctors on Stalin’s health, high blood pressure etc. A report on areas of cooperation between Beria’s people and CIA controllers in the event of a successful coup.

1007 BH Short list (125 pages) of CIA contacts with members of the American media to include press and television and book publishers. Names of contacts with bios are included as are a list of payments made and specific leaked material supplied. Also appended is a shorter list of foreign publications. Under date of August, 1989 with updates to 1992. Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, Bradlee of the same paper, Ted Koppel, Sam Donaldson and others are included.

1008 BH A file of eighteen reports (total of 899 pages) documenting illegal activities on the part of members of the U.S. Congress. First report dated July 29, 1950 and final one September 15, 1992. Of especial note is a long file on Senator McCarthy dealing with homosexuality and alcoholism. Also an attached note concerning the Truman Administration’s use of McCarthy to remove targeted Communists. These reports contain copies of FBI surveillance reports, to include photographs and reference to tape recordings, dealing with sexual events with male and female prostitutes, drug use, bribery, and other matters.

1009 BH  A long multiple file (1,564 pages) dealing with the CIA part (Kermit Roosevelt) in overthrowing the populist Persian prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. Report from Dulles (John Foster) concerning a replacement, by force if necessary and to include a full copy of AJAX operation. Letters from AIOC on million dollar bribe paid directly to J.Angleton, head of SOG. Support of Shah requires exclusive contracts with specified western oil companies. Reports dated from May 1951 through August, 1953.

1010 BH  Medium file (419 pages) of telephone intercepts made by order of J.J. Angleton of the telephone conversations between RFK and one G.N. Bolshakov. Phone calls between 1962-1963 inclusive. Also copies of intercepted and inspected mail from RFK containing classified U.S. documents and sent to a cut-out identified as one used by Bolshakov, a Russian press (TASS) employee. Report on Bolshakov’s GRU connections.

1011 BH Large file (988 pages) on 1961 Korean revolt of Kwangju revolt led by General Park Chung-hee and General Kin-Jong-pil. Reports on contacts maintained by CIA station in Japan to include payments made to both men, plans for the coup, lists of “undesirables” to be liquidated.  Additional material on CIA connections with KCIA personnel and an agreement with them  to assassinate South Korean chief of state, Park, in 1979.

1012 BH Small file (12 pages) of homosexual activities between FBI Director Hoover and his aide, Tolson. Surveillance pictures taken in San Francisco hotel and report by CIA agents involved. Report analyzed in 1962.

1013 BH Long file (1,699 pages) on General Edward Lansdale. First report a study signed by DCI Dulles in September of 1954 concerning a growing situation in former French Indo-China. There are reports by and about Lansdale starting with his attachment to the OPC in 1949-50 where he and Frank Wisner coordinated policy in neutralizing Communist influence in the Philippines.. Landsale was then sent to Saigon under diplomatic cover and many copies of his period reports are copied here. Very interesting background material including strong connections with the Catholic Church concerning Catholic Vietnamese and exchanges of intelligence information between the two entities.

1014 BH Short file (78 pages) concerning a Dr. Frank Olson. Olson was at the U.S. Army chemical warfare base at Ft. Detrick in Maryland and was involved with a Dr. Gottleib. Gottleib was working on a plan to introduce psychotic-inducing drugs into the water supply of the Soviet Embassy. Apparently he tested the drugs on CIA personnel first. Reports of psychotic behavior by Olson and more police and official reports on his defenstration by Gottleib’s associates. A cover-up was instituted and a number of in-house CIA memoranda attest to this. Also a discussion by Gottleib on various poisons and drugs he was experimenting with and another report of people who had died as a result of Gottleib’s various experiments and CIA efforts to neutralize any public knowledge of these.

1015 BH Medium file (457 pages) on CIA connections with the Columbian-based Medellín drug ring. Eight CIA internal reports, three DoS reports, one FBI report on CIA operative Milan Rodríguez and his connections with this drug ring. Receipts for CIA payments to Rodríguez of over $3 million in CIA funds, showing the routings of the money, cut-outs and payments. CIA reports on sabotaging DEA investigations. A three-part study of the Nicaraguan Contras, also a CIA-organized and paid for organization.

1016 BH  A small file (159 pages) containing lists of known Nazi intelligence and scientific people recruited in Germany from 1946 onwards, initially by the U.S. Army and later by the CIA. A detailed list of the original names and positions of the persons involved plus their relocation information. Has three U.S. Army and one FBI report on the subject.

1017 BH   A small list (54 pages) of American business entities with “significant” connections to the CIA. Each business is listed along with relevant information on its owners/operators, previous and on going contacts with the CIA’s Robert Crowley, also a list of national advertising agencies with similar information. Much information about suppressed news stories and planted, and invented, stories.


Manhunt underway after 39 killed in Istanbul nightclub gun attack

January 1, 2017

by Humeyra Pamuk and Nick Tattersall


ISTANBUL-Police in Istanbul launched a manhunt on Sunday for a gunman who killed at least 39 people, many of them foreigners, at a nightclub packed with New Year’s revelers, in an attack officials described as a terrorist act.

The gunman shot his way into the Reina nightclub at around 1:15 a.m. (2215 GMT), just over an hour into the New Year, killing a police officer and a civilian as he entered before opening fire at random inside.

Some witnesses spoke of multiple attackers, but officials have not confirmed this.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 15 or 16 of those killed were foreigners but that only 21 of the bodies had so far been identified. He said 69 people were in hospital, four of them in a critical condition.

“A manhunt for the terrorist is underway. Police have launched operations. We hope the attacker will be captured soon,” he told reporters.

The attack again shook Turkey as it tries to recover from a failed July coup and a series of deadly bombings in cities including Istanbul and the capital Ankara, some blamed on Islamic State and others claimed by Kurdish militants.

The club, one of Istanbul’s most iconic that is popular with locals and foreigners alike, overlooks the Bosphorus Strait separating Europe and Asia in the city’s cosmopolitan Ortakoy district.

Around 500 to 600 people were thought to have been inside when the gunman opened fire, broadcaster CNN Turk said. Some jumped into the waters of the Bosphorus to save themselves and were rescued by police.

Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin said the attacker had used a “long-range weapon” to “brutally and savagely” fire on people, apparently referring to some sort of assault rifle

U.S. President Barack Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, expressed condolences and directed his team to offer help to the Turkish authorities, the White House said.

Sahin and Soylu both referred to a single attacker but other reports, including on social media, suggested there may have been more, at least one of them wearing a Santa Claus costume which he later ditched in order to escape.

The Hurriyet newspaper cited witnesses as saying there were multiple attackers and that they shouted in Arabic.

“We were having fun. All of a sudden people started to run. My husband said don’t be afraid, and he jumped on me. People ran over me. My husband was hit in three places,” one club-goer, Sinem Uyanik, told the newspaper.

“I managed to push through and get out, it was terrible,” she said, describing seeing people soaked in blood and adding that there appeared to have been at least two gunmen.


Dozens of ambulances and police vehicles were dispatched to the club in Ortakoy, a neighborhood on the city’s European side nestled under one of three bridges crossing the Bosphorus and home to nightclubs, restaurants and art galleries.

“I didn’t see who was shooting but heard the gun shots and people fled. Police moved in quickly,” Sefa Boydas, a Turkish soccer player, wrote on Twitter.

“My girlfriend was wearing high heels. I lifted her and carried her out on my back,” he said.

Hurriyet quoted Reina’s owner, Mehmet Kocarslan, as saying security measures had been taken over the past 10 days after U.S. intelligence reports suggested a possible attack.

Turkey, a NATO member and part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, faces multiple security threats including spillover from the war in neighboring Syria.

It launched a military incursion into Syria in August against the radical Islamist group and is also fighting a Kurdish militant insurgency in its own southeast.

The New Year’s Eve attack came five months after Turkey was shaken by a failed military coup, in which more than 240 people were killed, many of them in Istanbul, as rogue soldiers commandeered tanks and fighter jets in a bid to seize power.

Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous city, has seen several attacks this year, the latest on Dec. 10, when two bombs claimed by Kurdish militants exploded outside a soccer stadium, killing 44 people and wounding more than 150.

In June, around 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded as three suspected Islamic State militants carried out a gun and bomb attack on Istanbul’s main Ataturk airport.

(Additional reporting by Yesim Dikmen in Istanbul, Ece Toksabay in Ankara; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Mary Milliken and Mike Collett-White)

Trump doubts Russia involved in hacking United States election

US President-elect Donald Trump once again said Russia was not involved in hacking the US presidential election. Trump also said he was open to meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

January 1, 2017


US President-elect Donald Trump again denied Russia hacked the US presidential election before celebrating New Year at his Florida estate.

“Well I just want them to be sure, because it’s a pretty serious charge, and I want them to be sure,” said Trump.

Trump added US intelligence was incorrect when it said Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, a part of what lead to a US invasion of Iraq in 2003. He called the invasion “a disaster, and they were wrong.”

Trump said it was unfair to accuse Russia of hacking if there is doubt, saying he knows “a lot about hacking” and “it could be somebody else.”

“I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation,” said Trump, telling reporters they would find out Tuesday or Wednesday what he knew about hacking.

US intelligence agencies CIA and FBI agree that Russia intervened in the November US presidential election. Trump secured the Electoral College vote, while Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for vowing not to expel US diplomats after the US expelled 35 last week.

Hacking during the campaign hit the Democratic Party hard, and the party blamed Russia for an attack in August.

Trump noted he was open to meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. The two exchanged a controversial phone call after Trump’s victory, breaking more than three decades of the “one-China” policy.

“I’m not meeting with anybody until after January 20th because it’s a little bit inappropriate from a protocol standpoint. But we’ll see,” said Trump, who becomes president on January 20.

As for his New Year’s resolution, he harped his campaign slogan: Make America great again.

Trump questions claim of Russia hacking DNC, says he ‘knows things other people don’t’

January 1, 2017


US President-elect Donald Trump said it was possible “somebody else” compromised the Democratic campaign’s servers as he spoke to reporters on New Year’s Eve, adding that he will reveal some previously undisclosed facts in the coming days.

“I think it’s unfair if we don’t know. It could be somebody else,” Reuters cited Trump as telling media at his Mar-a-Lago estate as he referred to the pinning of the blame for the alleged hacks on Russia.

“I also know things that other people don’t know, so we cannot be sure,” Trump added. “You will find out on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

He also reiterated his willingness to have “great relations” with other countries, including Russia and China.

Trump was apparently asked about his position on the alleged Moscow-backed “hacking” of the Democratic National Committee that resulted in the emergence of leaks unfavorable to Hillary Clinton. While he has consistently shrugged off the accusations, which also claimed he was backed by Russia against Clinton, Trump on Thursday reacted to the new sanctions against Russia and the release of a report by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with a promise to attend intelligence briefings to be updated on the matter.

Trump also said then that the US needs to “move on to bigger and better things.”

The latest report by the FBI and the DHS did not reveal any convincing evidence of the Russian government being behind the alleged hacks, and came with a disclaimer, saying the DHS “does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained within.”

On Saturday, Trump was also asked about the possibility that he may meet with the Taiwanese president if she was to visit the US after his January 20 inauguration. The issue of Trump talking with Tsai Ing-wen appeared shortly after the two had a phone conversation following Trump’s election victory. The conversation appeared to contradict Beijing’s “One China” policy, meaning that Taiwan should be considered part of China, which the US has upheld for decades.

“We’ll see,” Trump said about meeting Tsai Ing-wen, without elaborating, leading US media to conclude he was leaving a door open to such a possibility.

Trump’s conversation with Taiwan’s leader was rebuked by Beijing and drew some criticism at home, while the president-elect said he was simply accepting a congratulatory call.

In strong attack on Israel, German foreign minister says settlements jeopardize peace

In a statement issued to Germany’s largest circulation daily, Bild, after the UN resolution, the Foreign Ministry claimed that “a democratic Israel is only achievable through a two-state-solution.”

December 30, 2016

by Benjamin Weinthal

Jerusalem Post

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a staunch proponent of the Iran nuclear deal, has slammed Israel in a series of tweets and statements since last Friday’s Security Council resolution condemning Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.

In a statement issued to Germany’s largest circulation daily, Bild, after the UN resolution, the Foreign Ministry claimed that “a democratic Israel is only achievable through a two-state-solution.”

The statement prompted the editor-in-chief of Bild’s digital outlet, veteran journalist Julian Reichelt, to express astonishment at the harsh wording.

In response to Reichelt’s criticism, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffan Seibert wrote on his Twitter feed: “Israel is a Jewish democratic state.”

Steinmeier, a Social Democratic politician who is jockeying to be the next president of Germany, later said on Twitter: “Israeli settlements in occupied territories jeopardize possibility of peace process.”

The same English-language tweet was issued again. The flurry of messages attacking Israel appeared on the German- and English-language Twitter feeds of the Berlin-based Foreign Ministry.

Steinmeier also endorsed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Wednesday speech, writing that the “speech is a warning and a reminder that the #2StateSolution must not become an empty phrase. #MiddleEast.”

The foreign minister added on Twitter that “since he came into office, John Kerry has tirelessly worked toward a peaceful solution for the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict.”

Steinmeier had lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2015 for his “very coarse” criticism of the Iran nuclear deal. Steinmeier, in an unusual attack on an US presidential candidate, slammed Donald Trump as a “hate preacher.”

Prof. Gerald Steinberg, who teaches political studies at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, “In many ways, the Obama-Kerry perception of the conflict has been shaped by European conventional wisdom. So it is not surprising to see European leaders embracing Kerry’s speech. In Germany, Foreign Minister Steinmeier has been particularly critical of Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu (taking Germany farther away from its post-Holocaust role).”

Steinberg, who is president of the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, added, “Steinmeier, like powerful German NGOs such as Brot fur die Welt, [‘Bread for the World’] echoes the Palestinian victimization narrative. In addition, Steinmeier’s personal attacks on Netanyahu reflect German eagerness to do business with Iran, which was facilitated by Kerry.”

Writing in the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel on Thursday, Volker Beck, a leading Green Party lawmaker and head of the German-Israel Parliament Group in the Bundestag, said, “No, settlement construction is not the most difficult problem on the way to a two-state solution. It is one of many.”

Beck voiced understanding for the outrage in Israel to the UN resolution. Beck termed the measure “counterproductive,” adding that the decisive factor is the “security question,” because after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the US- and EU-designated terrorist organization Hamas, which controls the Palestinian enclave, fired many missiles at Israel.

Newsflash: Russia Is Not the Soviet Union

December 29, 2016

by Doug Bandow

The National Interest

No position taken by President-elect Donald Trump more upsets leading Republican legislators than his desire to reconcile with Russia. GOP leaders routinely assert that 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney was right when he declared Russia “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

Perhaps in Neoconservative nightmares. But not in terms of America’s national interests.

Vladimir Putin is not a nice fellow. And obviously he’s no friend of liberal values.

But then, neither are the Saudi royals. The leaders of the Central Asian states. Egypt’s new pharaoh, General/President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Turkey’s sultan-wannabe, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And plenty of other governments with which Washington routinely cooperates while complaining very little about their brutality at home. A lamentable lack of respect for human rights does not turn a state into a threat to the U.S.

Russia today is not engaged in a global ideological battle with America. However cynical the old Communist leadership, the Soviet Union posed an ideological and moral challenge to the U.S. Many people around the world were attracted to Communism for a time, at least, and even some Americans thought they saw the future at work. Eventually the façade was irrevocably broken and the crimes were too many and too grievous to hide or dismiss.

The Russian remnant of Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire is no philosophical heir to the U.S.S.R. Moscow offers no alternative ideology with appeal around the globe. A paltry few Americans and others apparently find appeal in Alexandr Dugin’s authoritarian nationalism, but an international movement they do not make. Marxist-Putinist thought is not the rage. Russian money may have rented some activists, politicians, and parties in Europe, but ultimately they will rise or fall on their own.

Although Putin may have viewed the Soviet collapse as a geopolitical tragedy, he originally showed no particular animus toward the U.S. He did not enter office calling America the Great Satan. No doubt he was a committed Russian nationalist even then, but his views appear to have hardened in response to Washington’s behavior.

Denizens of America’s imperial city have trouble recognizing that the rest of the world does not view their motives as pure as those of the Vestal Virgins of antiquity. Alas, from a Russian standpoint, ignoring Moscow’s Balkan interests, dismantling Slavic friend Serbia, expanding NATO to Russia’s borders, absorbing old Warsaw Pact members and Soviet republics, inviting Georgia and Ukraine to seek NATO membership, backing “color” revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine against Moscow’s interests, encouraging a street revolution against an elected, Russia-friendly president in Ukraine, and seeking to overthrow the Assad regime, a long-time Soviet ally, are not friendly acts.

Moreover, the U.S. has routinely pursued regime change against weaker foes. Skepticism of Western intentions runs far beyond the Kremlin. Anti-Americanism, at least directed at the U.S. government, is both the popular and elite view. There is no reason to believe that Putin’s fall would yield a compliant Russian government.

However fondly Putin might remember the Soviet Union, there’s no evidence he’s trying to put it back together. He certainly is no Stalin. After some 17 years in power the Russian leader’s only geopolitical booty is Crimea, long part of Russia. He also has gained influence over the largely forgettable Donbas, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia. That’s not much of a new empire. He has shown no interest in ruling over non-Russians. He apparently realizes that attempting to absorb large populations determined to resist Moscow’s rule would certainly be a losing game and likely be a disaster.

Russia does not offer the sort of global military threat posed by the Soviet Union. Moscow has reconstituted some of the former’s military power, a quarter century after the dramatic Soviet collapse, but Russia remains far behind the U.S. With one decrepit carrier, the navy has limited power projection. The air force could not seize air superiority over North America. The army has been improving its capabilities, but has no invasion route to the U.S.: leaping the Bering Strait to grab Alaska would be a bad script for the next movie iteration of Red Dawn. Nothing suggests anyone in Moscow wants to go to war with America.

Although Russia is capable of beating up on weaker neighbors, most notably Georgia and Ukraine, it has suggested no interest in general war with Europe. While Putin might be able to initially seize the Baltic States, Russia would face overwhelming odds with the U.S. and Europe against it. Europe alone is capable of defending itself, if it put real effort into the continent’s defense. For Putin to act hoping the West would abandon these three NATO members would be a wild gamble.

Moreover, mere capability doesn’t provide motive. Even “victory” would benefit Russia little. The countries would be wrecked and conquest would spark irregular resistance. They don’t have the same historical and security relationship to Moscow as does Ukraine. Yet Putin made no effort to seize the latter (or Georgia), which isn’t a member of NATO; rather, he weakened it to effectively end its chance for NATO membership.

At the same time, the cost of conflict would be catastrophic. Moscow would lose a full-scale war. In anything more limited economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation would be almost total. Even China, which emphasizes noninterference with countries’ internal affairs, would not back Moscow. It is hardly surprising that the Russian military is not deployed to launch a Blitzkrieg against the Baltics. Putin may be evil, but he does not appear to be stupid or reckless.

Russia has behaved badly toward Georgia and Ukraine, but that poses no security issue for America or even Europe. Would Washington and Brussels prefer peace and tranquility? Of course. However, the U.S. and Europe remain prosperous and secure despite the hardship visited by Moscow upon its neighbors. The fact that Washington does not approve of Russia’s behavior doesn’t make Russia a security threat or turn Russia into America’s number one enemy. Washington should not let its humanitarian sympathies dictate security policy.

Which applies even more to Syria, a tragedy with less relevance to core U.S. interests. Damascus was a Soviet ally during the Cold War. Russia is attempting to maintain a military toehold in a region dominated by America: the U.S. is allied with Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Gulf States other than Yemen. Whatever state and government emerges from the ongoing civil war will be fractured and barely a shadow of Syria’s past self. Russia’s support for the Assad regime has resulted in appalling civilian casualties, but so did the U.S. invasion of Iraq and consequent sectarian war. And so does Washington’s support for Saudi Arabia’s aggressive, brutal war against Yemen. Moscow’s Syrian role may be disreputable, but that does not mean it harms America’s interests. It certainly poses no security threat to the U.S.

Elsewhere Russia plays an independent role, with at least the possibility of being helpful. Washington has sought Moscow’s cooperation on Iran and North Korea, for instance. Islamic terrorism concerns both countries. Russia provided logistical assistance for U.S. operations in Afghanistan; indeed, Moscow has a greater interest than America in the latter’s stability. Absent sanctions, Americans would benefit from modernization of Russia’s oil production capabilities.

Moscow’s apparent cyber-attack on the Democrats—not the U.S. government—to which the Obama administration apparently plans to retaliate actually did Americans a favor, exposing wrong-doing by their own officials. And Washington officials, who routinely interfere in the elections of other nations, have no credibility claiming to be shocked, shocked to find another nation doing the same. The U.S. needs better cyber-security, but is no virgin in such challenges: Washington is thought to have used the Stuxnet virus to hinder Iran’s nuclear research and listened in on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. Washington should learn from the Democratic hack, not declare Russia to be an enemy.

Mitt Romney was wrong about Russia in 2012 and he is wrong today. Leading Republican presidential contenders essentially lost their minds when they advocated that the Obama administration threatened to shoot down Russian aircraft in Syria. Maintaining sanctions against Russia without the prospect of achieving anything is senseless moral vanity.

Washington’s policy toward Russia needs a genuine reset. The U.S. should take a tough but practical approach toward Moscow, recognizing that a sometimes a clash of interests does not enemies make. American officials should stop searching for new adversaries

Rick Santorum ‘unconvinced’ Russia behind alleged election hacking

December 31, 2016


Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has said he is “unconvinced at this point” that Russia was behind the hacking of a number of US institutions in the run up to November’s elections.

Santorum described as “clearly political” the length of time Obama waited to announce the latest sanctions against Russia, with the real motive being to destabilize the incoming administration, adding that it was a decision that won’t “go down as a bright spot for the Obama presidency.”

“Some of this wasn’t even a hack, it was a basic phishing expedition, where one of the DNC officials gave a password. That’s not a hack, that’s just criminal activity,” Santorum said in an interview with CNN. “It may be Russia, or maybe somebody else took advantage.”

“First off, who did the actual hacking,” Santorum asked when pressed by host Kate Bolduan about Russian involvement, adding that “state actors aren’t the ones doing the hacking.”

“I’m unconvinced at this point,” the former Pennsylvania Senator added. “I’m willing to be convinced but I’m unconvinced at this point that this is what really happened here.”

Santorum’s remarks echo Trump’s previous comments in which he also contested the accusations of Russian involvement, stating on Thursday that “we ought to get on with our lives.”

“I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what’s going on,” Trump said.

Obama announced new sanctions targeting intelligence services and officials as well as technology companies on Thursday, amounting to four individuals and five entities, which the US government accused of hacking into American institutions ahead of the November election.

In an interview with Larry King on RT, antivirus pioneer John McAfee described as a “fallacy” the suggestion that it was Russia who was behind the hack.

“If it looks like the Russians did it, then I can guarantee you it was not the Russians,” McAfee said, adding that “if I was the Chinese and I wanted to make it look like the Russians did it, I would use Russian language within the code, I would use Russian techniques of breaking into the organization.”

Deutsche Bank Flew and Fell. Some Paid a High Price.

December 30-, 2016

by Landon Thomas Jr.

The New York Times

In 2005, Deutsche Bank, then a powerhouse in the selling of risky derivatives on a global scale, was minting money.

To mark the moment, the bank’s profit engine — its global markets division — commissioned a book about itself. The remembrance would celebrate how Deutsche Bank, once a sleepy lender to German car companies, had transformed itself in just 10 years into a force in financial engineering, selling interest-rate swaps, credit derivatives and opaque tax-slashing investment vehicles to the world’s wealthy elite.

In the view of one senior executive, it all came down to masterly salesmanship by a single man, Anshu Jain, the chief promoter of the bank’s hottest product: risk.

“The size just kept mounting and mounting,” this person marveled in a passage in the book, referring to the growing demand for some of Deutsche’s raciest fare. And it was Mr. Jain, the bank’s eventual leader, who “dramatically accelerated that delivery of complex structures to the broader client base.”

Today, these words read more like an epitaph than a commemoration. On Dec. 22, the bank agreed to pay $7.2 billion to settle a claim with the Justice Department that it pushed toxic mortgages on investors in the years leading up to the American housing bust.

The fine was one of the last — and among the stiffest — penalties imposed upon global investment banks by the Obama administration for their role in the financial crisis. And it was also a fitting coda to a turbulent 21-year run by the trading and banking unit at Deutsche that was inspired by three derivative specialists who had been poached from Wall Street years earlier.

In addition to Mr. Jain, they included Edson Mitchell, a charismatic builder of businesses at Merrill Lynch who, in 1995, was given a mandate by Deutsche to create a world-class investment bank in London and spare no expense in doing so.

Mr. Mitchell recruited two colleagues from Merrill to help him in his task. William S. Broeksmit, a derivatives trader with a risk manager’s nose for spotting financial dangers, was one. And Mr. Jain, then just coming into his own as a purveyor of the exotic to hedge funds around the world, joined him.

Today, two of these three men are dead.

Mr. Mitchell died in a plane crash in 2000 at age 47. Mr. Broeksmit committed suicide in 2014 at 58.

As for the 53-year-old Mr. Jain, his carefully crafted plan to finish what his mentor, Mr. Mitchell, started at Deutsche Bank has ended in disappointment.

In the years since the financial crisis, many investment banks have had to pay significant amounts to atone for their various sins. And while the sum of Deutsche’s fines is in the middle of the pack, the bank has been drawn into some of finance’s furthest frontiers when it comes to the pursuit of profit.

Deutsche has been a primary offender in two of the biggest banking scandals of the past decade: promoting toxic mortgages to unwitting investors and manipulating for profit the main lending rate for banks in London. In the process, it has agreed to pay over $9 billion in fines and consumer relief. The bank has sold tax-reduction products to hedge funds, and is alleged to have helped Russian investors illegally move money overseas.

This is also a bank that marketed complex derivatives to Europe’s sickliest bank, Monte dei Paschi in Italy. And it is one of the largest lenders to Donald J. Trump, having extended roughly $300 million in loans to the president-elect’s businesses.

Analysts calculate that of the 20 billion euros in profits that Deutsche’s trading and banking unit accumulated since 1995, as much as 15 billion euros will ultimately be returned to regulators via fines and penalties. Of course, not all of this lands in the lap of Mr. Mitchell — and more recently, Mr. Jain.

The investment bank they created remains a power in bond and foreign currency trading worldwide. And from the beginning, it was overseen by a strong-willed German board that knew well the risks and rewards that came with such a business.

It is also the case that when Mr. Jain became co-chief executive of Deutsche in 2012, one of his first priorities was lowering the bank’s risk, which he did by unloading opaque, hard-to-trade assets. In spring 2015, Mr. Jain put in place his own plan for reforming the bank, which his C.E.O. successor, John M. Cryan, has not entirely abandoned.

That said, Mr. Cryan has made it clear that his Deutsche Bank will be markedly different from Mr. Jain’s. Since taking over last year, Mr. Cryan has preached simplicity, less risk, better internal controls and reduced reliance on derivatives. As for the investment bank he inherited from Mr. Jain, he has said that he is committed to it but that it will be a very different institution under him.

Through spokesmen, Mr. Jain and Deutsche Bank declined to comment.

Following Mr. Trump’s election, Deutsche’s stock has been on a tear, up over 30 percent on the hope that the combination of a banking-friendly president and a more cautious leadership under Mr. Cryan will help the bank chart a new path.

When an investment bank trips up in spectacular fashion, human misfortune is often a consequence. That could mean a cashiered chief executive seeing his career and reputation ruined. Or a rogue trader who loses billions of dollars and ends up in prison.

But there have been few instances in which the personal toll surrounding a bank’s rise and fall has been as profound as this one.

Out of Chaos, Efficiency

By December 2000, Mr. Mitchell seemed to have accomplished the impossible. In just five years, he had hired thousands of traders and bankers from firms all over Wall Street (an effort that got a boost by the acquisition of Bankers Trust in 1999), forging not just a strong culture but also a highly profitable business.

While there were numerous deposit-driven banks in Europe that made a play for American investment banking business in the 1980s and 1990s, none did it with the zeal of Deutsche Bank under Mr. Mitchell and later Mr. Jain.

Even before he moved to London, Mr. Mitchell had developed a reputation for being one of Wall Street’s premier recruiters, with a pied-piper-like ability to attract, and keep, the best traders and bankers around. He had a special methodology in his choosing, inclining toward those who came from big families and played team sports in college, because he felt that these traits would give him “athletes” capable of working well together in the large competitive grouping of a trading floor.

“It was as if entropy was his vision — that out of this chaos would emerge a greater efficiency,” said Kevin Ingram, a former top bond executive at Goldman Sachs whom Mr. Mitchell recruited in 1996 and who left Deutsche Bank in 1998 and later pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges. “He did an extraordinary job in managing egos.”

At Merrill, Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Jain and Mr. Broeksmit had used their expertise in derivatives and swaps to carve out market share from established players like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. As Mr. Broeksmit would recount in an unpublished interview with a reporter for Bloomberg News, the strategy worked because of Mr. Jain’s skill, while at Merrill, in enticing his hedge-fund clients into volatile yet profitable investments — such as bond futures, swaps and other derivatives.

“He was persistent and persuasive and able to show it would make good economic sense,” Mr. Broeksmit said, according to an email exchange with the reporter. Mr. Broeksmit’s son, Val, provided documents and email communications from Mr. Broeksmit’s files to The New York Times. A musician, the younger Mr. Broeksmit taught himself finance, and for several years he has been looking into his father’s career at Deutsche in a search for answers as to why he took his life.

The plan was to use a similar strategy in London with Deutsche Bank.

“I remember Edson called me up and said, ‘I have just been given the keys to the kingdom at Deutsche Bank — we can do whatever we want,’” recalled Michael G. Philipp, one of the first Merrill executives to follow Mr. Mitchell to Deutsche; “2,500 people in 18 months — it has never been done since.”

Mr. Mitchell’s untimely death in 2000 was a devastating blow to the bank and more so to his many friends and followers. But it did not alter the bank’s mission, the mantle of which was eventually taken on by Mr. Jain.

By the time of the financial crisis, 90 percent of the bank’s profits would come from the London-based global market’s division — fueled mostly by derivatives-driven trading bets and its dominant positions as a foreign currency trader.

All that changed in late 2008.

With one investment bank after another going bust, Deutsche’s board had become increasingly concerned as to the bank’s derivatives holdings, according to documents reviewed by The Times. In October 2008 the bank’s derivatives exposure, net of cash collateral, was 181 billion euros, these documents show, a sizable sum given its equity cushion of just 30 billion euros.

Starting in 2007, Mr. Jain had already taken steps to materially reduce Deutsche’s risk profile. However, he and his team pushed back hard against the view that the investment bank’s power should be significantly curtailed.

“This underlines the paradox of D.B.,” read a briefing paper for Mr. Jain prepared in advance of the bank’s general executive committee meeting in mid-December 2008. “However much some at the G.E.C. would like to see D.B. return to its roots as a continental commercial bank, it is clear that international sales and trading will represent the bulk of value creation at D.B.”

Sales and trading would also become the focus for regulators in Germany, London and the United States who, in the wake of the crisis, cracked down severely. The $7.2 billion penalty announced in December represents, in effect, the final bill to be paid toward the Mitchell and Jain plan of paying bankers outsize sums to take outsize risks in pursuit of outsize profits.

Of course, it was an approach that was endorsed by the leadership in Frankfurt, not least Josef Ackermann, Deutsche’s chief from 2002 to 2012, who encouraged these bold gambits.

As the fines and scandals mounted, though, especially the rigging scheme involving a key interest rate known as the London Interbank Offered Rate — in which Deutsche played a central role — even bankers who had been along for the ride wondered if it had been worth it. “Shame on what is happening to DBK,” wrote Martin Loat, a retired Deutsche Bank executive, to Mr. Broeksmit in December 2013, using the common shorthand of Deutsche’s stock ticker.

“I was negative on big banks and very vocal to Joe on bonuses. The then-1.6 trillion euro balance sheet on 50 billion euros of equity was plain stupid. I also disliked credit derivatives with a passion. But Libor and other thefts — that even ultra-cynic Martin never believed could happen,” he wrote, referring to himself.

A Man of Loyalties

For many senior bankers, eye-watering losses and regulatory crackdowns are part of the cold calculation of a Wall Street career that can, quite suddenly, veer from triumph to ignominy.

Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jain were such men — exceedingly confident risk takers with thick public skins. Bill Broeksmit, a behind-the-scenes technician with an acute sense of the rights and wrongs in finance, was not.

And that is why his sad end carries a larger resonance as the business model that his two close colleagues put in place ultimately failed the institution and the many who had devoted their lives to it. He was, in many ways, the connective tissue linking Mr. Mitchell to his protégé Mr. Jain in their management of the bank.

Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Broeksmit were close friends, working together for more than a decade at Merrill and bonding over a shared love of Maine, where they decamped each summer. After Mr. Mitchell’s death, Mr. Broeksmit would form a bond with Mr. Jain, offering advice to him, via official and unofficial channels, as to Deutsche’s fluctuating risk profile.

Within Deutsche, Mr. Broeksmit was seen to be Mr. Jain’s eyes and ears when it came to tracking various trading positions and risk exposures.

Mr. Broeksmit was always an ardent advocate for Mr. Jain. He was the Deutsche Bank executive who cited Mr. Jain’s salesmanship abilities as a formative contributor to the bank’s early success in the book that celebrated the unit’s 10-year anniversary.

Mr. Broeksmit had originally been persuaded by Mr. Mitchell to move to London with the first wave of Merrill Lynch defectors in 1995 and 1996. As the brains behind Mr. Mitchell’s ambition for Deutsche to become a leading derivatives bank, he was what financial hands call a plumber — an expert in the piping and flow of money, largely unknown beyond the trading floor.

Bookish, though not without a touch of the trader’s swagger, Mr. Broeksmit was also a man of loyalties, always quick to share the burdens of a friend in need. So when Mr. Jain asked him to take on a larger risk role at Deutsche in 2007, he said yes, even though he had been enjoying his more relaxed life as private consultant after stepping down as a full-time executive.

After a time, though, the drumbeat of investigations began to wear on him.

There was Deutsche’s role in the rate-rigging scandal, for which it paid $2.5 billion, the highest sum of the roughly $9 billion paid by major investment banks.

There was a $55 million fine Deutsche had to pay for misstating its derivatives positions. And finally, there were the withering criticisms by the New York Fed regarding Deutsche’s troubled American operations — where, at the behest of Mr. Jain, Mr. Broeksmit had become a member of the board.

In the days after Mr. Broeksmit’s death in early 2014, Mr. Jain ordered up a report, with help from outside lawyers, to determine whether the suicide had been work-related. Mr. Broeksmit’s ties, direct or indirect, to Deutsche’s many regulatory woes were examined in detail. In September of that year, the report concluded that there was “nothing that shows a direct link between Bill’s death and his work at Deutsche Bank.”

The executives who produced the report said that he was “not unhappy” during his last days at the bank in 2013. He had officially stepped down that summer, although, in his usual style, he was not cutting ties completely, staying on as a director at Deutsche’s New York Bank. “Had my retirement luncheon hosted by Anshu last week,” Mr. Broeksmit wrote to a friend that November. “It’s the third time I have retired!”

A Guarded Private Life

The extent to which Deutsche’s legal woes played a role in Mr. Broeksmit’s untimely death remains a mystery.

In mid-2013, with investigations into Deutsche’s conduct mounting, Mr. Broeksmit did pay a visit to a psychiatrist in London that became part of the coroner’s examination into his death. According to the doctor’s diagnosis, Mr. Broeksmit had “imagined being investigated, being prosecuted, losing his wealth and his reputation.” But, in the same letter, the doctor said his patient recognized that these thoughts were not a “realistic possibility,” even if they caused him sleeplessness and anxiety.

There are no records of Mr. Broeksmit paying further visits to a psychiatrist in the year before his death.

Outwardly, friends and colleagues do not recall Mr. Broeksmit showing signs of stress, although they do say he had always been very private in terms of his inner life. While he peppered his lawyers for updates on various investigations, he also made plans with a group of former colleagues to take a ski trip in February.

But on Jan. 26, 2014, instead of meeting his wife and son for lunch, Mr. Broeksmit slung a dog leash over a door in his London home, and hanged himself from it. Left by his side was a neat stack of company documents related to Deutsche’s New York banking operations, and suicide notes addressed to relatives, as well as one to Mr. Jain.

“You were good to me,” Mr. Broeksmit wrote to the man he had known for over 30 years, adding, “I am eternally sorry.”

Harsh rhetoric from Moscow over Obama hacking sanctions

Moscow has slammed outgoing US president Barack Obama. He has been called a political failure and vengeful, and accused of wanting to sabotage his successor, Donald Trump

January 1, 2017


The recent bombshell in Washington has been followed by a storm of outrage in Moscow.

Three weeks before the end of his term, US President Barack Obama is punishing Russia for the alleged cyberattacks on the USA by imposing sanctions and expelling 35 diplomats. Russian politicians have not hesitated to express unusually hostile reactions, including former Russian president and now-Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev, who wrote on Twitter of “anti-Russian death throes.”

Worse than a lame duck

The head of the Russian Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, Konstantin Kosachev, makes use of the same expression. “Forgive me for being harsh, but I just cannot find other words: These are the death throes not even of lame ducks, but of political corpses,” he told the Russian state news agency TASS, referring to the American tradition of calling the outgoing president a lame duck. Kosachev, a lawmaker with extensive foreign affairs influence, added that Obama was putting “at stake the US’ reputation as a functional state that ensures policy continuity in the process of a change of power.”

Maria Zakharova, the official representative of the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, posted on Facebook: “Today, American people were humiliated by their own president.” The whole world was currently seeing how “a group of embittered and dimwitted foreign policy losers” was dealing the USA and its global leadership role a “devastating blow.”

‘A lot has been bottled up’

Kremlin-allied political scientists are looking for motives behind Obama’s decision, but tellingly, they ignore the official explanation: that it was in retaliation for cyberattacks on the USA. For example, according to Fyodor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of “Russia in Global Affairs” and chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, Barack

Obama was finally making use of the chance at the end of his presidency to express his true opinion of several longstanding partners on the international stage.

This was previously shown, Lukyanov said, in the unprecedented decision not to veto the UN Security Council resolution opposing the further construction of Israeli settlements. “This is the result of a long aversion of Obama toward (Israeli) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.” Now, according to Luyanov, a 1970s-style diplomatic war against Russia has ensued. “A lot has definitely been bottled up, but the US president could not or did not dare to release it all previously.”

‘Clear intention to harm Russia’

Pavel Podlesny, a leading expert from the Institute for US and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, is of the opinion that there were many people in the American elite aggrieved by the fact that “the mechanisms for resolving the Syrian conflict were worked out without the USA and that Moscow is one of the mediators in this process.” In other words, Podlesny believes that the hacking sanctions are at least partly a reaction to the recent Russian-Turkish-Iranian diplomatic efforts by Vladimir Putin to bring peace to Syria.

He sees the main objective of the sanctions as being “to make as many problems for Russia as possible.” Another of Obama’s intentions, he says, is to make it hard for his successor, Donald Trump, to start off on the right foot in foreign affairs. Fyodor Lukyanov sees things the same way: Trump and his secretary of state would now “have to begin from a much lower point than before” with regard to US-Russia relations.

However, Lukyanov was working on the assumption that Moscow would respond by expelling the same number of American diplomats, as is usual in such cases. The fact that Vladimir Putin rejected a proposal to this effect from his Foreign Ministry would seem to relativize the fear that relations between the Russian president and his future US counterpart will start off from a substantially worse position.

Difficult situation for Trump

The liberal opposition politician and former parliamentary member Dmitri Gudkov also interprets Obama’s decision as being based mainly on domestic motives. It was in the interest of the outgoing administration “to initiate this scandal,” he said, partly “to put Trump in a difficult position, as a quick withdrawal of the sanctions after he takes office would fuel rumors that Putin helped him win the elections.”

What is more, Gudkov told DW, it was only human for people to try to blame their defeat on others. The Democrats with Obama at their head wanted to find something to justify their election defeat – to their sponsors, among others – Gudkov said. He, too, did not dwell on the real matter at stake: the hacking attacks. He said he was convinced that they were not of as great importance as many were claiming.

Quick Facts on Ice Sheets


What is an ice sheet?

An ice sheet is a mass of glacial land ice extending more than 50,000 square kilometers (20,000 square miles). The two ice sheets on Earth today cover most of Greenland and Antarctica. During the last ice age, ice sheets also covered much of North America and Scandinavia.

Together, the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets contain more than 99 percent of the freshwater ice on Earth. The Antarctic Ice Sheet extends almost 14 million square kilometers (5.4 million square miles), roughly the area of the contiguous United States and Mexico combined. The Antarctic Ice Sheet contains 30 million cubic kilometers (7.2 million cubic miles) of ice. The Greenland Ice Sheet extends about 1.7 million square kilometers (656,000 square miles), covering most of the island of Greenland, three times the size of Texas.

How do ice sheets form?

Ice sheets form in areas where snow that falls in winter does not melt entirely over the summer. Over thousands of years, the layers of snow pile up into thick masses of ice, growing thicker and denser as the weight of new snow and ice layers compresses the older layers.

Ice sheets are constantly in motion, slowly flowing downhill under their own weight. Near the coast, most of the ice moves through relatively fast-moving outlets called ice streams, glaciers, and ice shelves. As long as an ice sheet accumulates the same mass of snow as it loses to the sea, it remains stable.

Why are ice sheets important?

Ice sheets contain enormous quantities of frozen water. If the Greenland Ice Sheet melted, scientists estimate that sea level would rise about 6 meters (20 feet). If the Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, sea level would rise by about 60 meters (200 feet).

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets also influence weather and climate. Large high-altitude plateaus on the ice caps alter storm tracks and create cold downslope winds close to the ice surface.

In addition, the layers of ice blanketing Greenland and Antarctica contain a unique record of Earth’s climate history.

Has climate change started to affect Earth’s ice sheets?

The mass of ice in the Greenland Ice Sheet has begun to decline. From 1979 to 2006, summer melt on the ice sheet increased by 30 percent, reaching a new record in 2007. At higher elevations, an increase in winter snow accumulation has partially offset the melt. However, the decline continues to outpace accumulation because warmer temperatures have led to increased melt and faster glacier movement at the island’s edges. To learn more about research on the Greenland Ice Sheet, visit former CIRES Director Konrad Steffen’s research Web page.

Most of Antarctica has yet to see dramatic warming. However, the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts out into warmer waters north of Antarctica, has warmed 2.5 degrees Celsius (4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1950. A large area of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is also losing mass, probably because of warmer water deep in the ocean near the Antarctic coast. In East Antarctica, no clear trend has emerged, although some stations appear to be cooling slightly. Overall, scientists believe that Antarctica is starting to lose ice, but so far the process has not become as quick or as widespread as in Greenland.

Analysis:Abrupt Sea Level Rise Looms As Increasingly Realistic Threat

Ninety-nine percent of the planet’s freshwater ice is locked up in the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps. Now, a growing number of studies are raising the possibility that as those ice sheets melt, sea levels could rise by six feet this century, and far higher in the next, flooding many of the world’s populated coastal areas.

May 5, 2016

by Nicola Jones


Last month in Greenland, more than a tenth of the ice sheet’s surface was melting in the unseasonably warm spring sun, smashing 2010’s record for a thaw so early in the year. In the Antarctic, warm water licking at the base of the continent’s western ice sheet is, in effect, dissolving the cork that holds back the flow of glaciers into the sea; ice is now seeping like wine from a toppled bottle.

The planet’s polar ice is melting fast, and recent satellite data, models, and fieldwork have left scientists sobered by the speed of the sea level rise we should expect over the coming decades. Although researchers have long projected that the planet’s biggest ice sheets and glaciers will wilt in the face of rising temperatures, estimates of the rate of that change keep going up. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put out its last report in 2013, the consensus was for under a meter (3.3 feet) of sea level rise by 2100. In just the last few years, at least one modeling study suggests we might need to double that.

Eric Rignot at the University of California, Irvine says that study underscores the possible speed of ice sheet melt and collapse. “Once these processes start to kick in,” he says, “they’re very fast.”

The Earth has seen sudden climate change and rapid sea level rise before. At the end of the planet’s last glaciation, starting about 14,000 years ago, sea levels rose by more than 13 feet a century as the huge North American ice sheets melted, but schentists are hesitant about predicting similarly rapid climate shifts in our future given the huge stakes involved: The rapid collapse of today’s polar ice sheets would erase densely populated parts of our coastlines.

“Today, we’re struggling with 3 millimeters [0.1 inch] per year [of sea level rise],” says Robert DeConto at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, co-author of one of the more sobering new studies. “We’re talking about centimeters per year. That’s really tough. At that point your engineering can’t keep up; you’re down to demolition and rebuilding.”

Antarctica and Greenland hold the overwhelming majority of the world’s ice: Ninety percent of the planet’s freshwater ice is locked up in Antarctica’s ice cap and nine percent in Greenland’s. Today, the ice sheet that’s inarguably melting fastest is Greenland. That giant block of ice, which has the potential to raise global sea levels by 23 feet if it melts in its entirety, is losing some 200 billion tons of ice each year. That rate has doubled from the 1900s to the 2000s.

“We are seeing changes in Greenland in all four corners, even in the far north,” says Rignot. Many of the outlet glaciers that flow down fjords into the sea, which were “on the fence” about retreating or advancing over the past decade, are now “starting to fall apart,” he says.

And they’re moving fast. “The flow speeds we talk about today would have been jaw-dropping in the 1990s,” says Ted Scambos of the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center. Greenland’s Jakobshavn Glacier dumped ice into the sea at the astonishing rate of 150 feet per day in the summer of 2012. The most dramatic action in Greenland is simply from surface melting, as temperatures there and across the Arctic have soared in the last four decades. In 2012, Greenland lost a record 562 billion tons of ice as more than 90 percent of its surface melted in the summer sun.

Many questions remain about the physics of Greenland’s ice loss, such as whether meltwater gets soaked up by a ‘sponge’ of snow and ice, or trickles down to lubricate the base of the ice sheet and speed its seaward movement. Most modeling work has been about how Greenland’s melt tracks rising air temperatures; far less is known about how warming waters might eat away at the edges of its ice sheet. Rignot is part of a team now launching the Oceans Melting Greenland project (with the intentionally punny acronym OMG) to investigate that. These uncertainties make Rignot think that estimates of Greenland’s melt — contributing as much as 9 inches of global sea level rise by 2100, according to the 2013 IPCC report — have been far too conservative. Assuming that the Greenland ice sheet’s demise “will be slow is wishful thinking,” Rignot says.

But most scientists say there shouldn’t be too many serious surprises about the physics governing Greenland’s ice loss. Although the ice sheet can be expected to steadily melt in the face of rising temperatures, Greenland’s ice cap shouldn’t rapidly collapse, because most of its ice sits safely on rock far above sea level. “Greenland is more predictable and straightforward,” says DeConto.

For fear of rapid, runaway collapse, the research community turns its eyes south.

Antarctica is, for now, losing ice more slowly than Greenland. The latest data from the GRACE project — twin satellites that measure mass using gravity data — say Antarctica is losing about 92 billion tons of ice per year,1.5 times the size of the United States, with ice three miles thick in places — and holds enough ice to raise global sea levels by roughly 200 feet.

The larger, eastern half lies mostly above sea level and remains very cold; researchers have typically considered its ice stable, though even that view is beginning to change. The sizeable western half of the Antarctic, by contrast, has its base lying below sea level, and holds some of the fastest warming areas on the planet. “You look at West Antarctica and you think: How come it’s still there?” says Rignot.

Warming ocean water licking at the underside of the floating edges of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is eating away at the line where the ice rests on solid rock. Much of the bedrock of the Antarctic slopes downward toward the center of the continent, so as the invading water flows downhill it seeps further and further inland, causing ever-larger chunks of glaciers to flow faster into the sea. This so-called “grounding line” has been eroding inland rapidly, in some parts of West Antarctica at rates of miles per year. In 2014, satellite radar images revealed just how vulnerable five massive glaciers flowing into the Admundsen Sea are from this effect. And a 2015 paper showed that the same thing is happening more slowly to Totten Glacier, one of the biggest glaciers in the east.

Such dramatic processes have been the bane of Antarctic modeling and the reason why scientists have been loathe to put a number on sea level contributions from a melting southern continent. Then in March came a report in Nature that some say represents a step change in our ability to do that. DeConto and David Pollard of Pennsylvania State University put into their ice sheet model two basic phenomena: meltwater trickling down to lubricate glacier flow, and giant walls of ice (created when the ends of glaciers snap off) simply collapsing under their own weight. These new modeling parameters gave DeConto and Pollard a better understanding of past sea level rise events. For the Pliocene era 3 million years ago, for example — when seas were dozens of feet higher than today — older models estimated that a partially melting Antarctic added about 23 feet to global sea level rise. The new model increased Antarctica’s contribution to sea level rise during the Pliocene to 56 feet.

Turning their model to the future, DeConto and Pollard project more than three feet of sea level rise from Antarctica alone by 2100 — assuming growing greenhouse gas emissions that boost the planet’s temperature by about 4 degrees C (7 degrees F). That is far more than the last IPCC estimate in 2013, which projected less than eight inches of sea level rise from a melting Antarctic by 2100, with a possibility for inches more from the dramatic collapse of Antarctic glaciers.

Even DeConto admits that, under the model used in his paper, the timing and pace of Antarctica’s ice loss is “really uncertain” — it could be a decade or two, or three or four, before these dramatic processes start to kick in, he says. “The paper just shows the potentials, which are really big and really scary,” says DeConto. But Scambos and other observers call DeConto’s numbers “perfectly plausible.”

Researchers could better pin down their models if they could track the rate of sea level rise from polar ice sheet collapse in the past, but this has proven hard to do. When seas rose a whopping 13 feet per century at the end of the last glaciation (the current record-holder for known rates of sea level rise in the past), much of the water came from an ice sheet over North America, where there isn’t one today. “I wouldn’t use that as an analogue for the future,” says paleo-geologist Andrea Dutton of the University of Florida, who wrote a recent  review of past records of sea level rise. “But it has important lessons for us nonetheless — that ice sheets can retreat suddenly and in steps instead of gradually.”

For a better analogue of what’s going on today, researchers often look to the last interglacial period, about 120,000 years ago, when temperatures were about a degree warmer than pre-industrial levels and seas were 20 to 30 feet higher than today. Ice cores from Greenland have suggested that much of that water must have come from the Antarctic. To find out just how fast sea levels rose at that time, Dutton is now looking at old corals in Mexico, Florida, and Australia; corals can be used to track sea level, sincethey grow in shallow waters to capture sunlight. A map of sea level rise  around the world, and how it was higher in one place than another, could be used to infer where the water came from. Success isn’t guaranteed; corals are notoriously difficult to date. And whatever they find, notes Scambos, it will still be hard to draw a parallel to the modern world.

“That was a natural warming period in Earth’s history,” Scambos says. “We’re putting our pedal to the metal today; we’re driving the system very hard.”

James Hansen, a climatologist at Columbia University, summarized the evidence for rapid sea level rise in a  recent controversial paper, raising some eyebrows at its  stark warnings of catastrophe. Though many researchers have taken issue with the dramatic tone and specific details of that paper, its conclusion — that multi-meter sea level rise is possible in the next 50, 100, or 200 years — does not seem so alarmist in the face of other recent work.

“I think a lot of us who work on paleo records are all aware that a lot of change can happen very quickly — I’m always looking at big numbers,” says Dutton, who hasn’t been startled by recent studies like DeConto’s. “It’s always going to be a difficult question to answer. Maybe we need to accept we’re always going to have this uncertainty and just prepare for the worst.”

Correction, May 5, 2016: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of freshwater that is locked up in the polar ice caps. The article should have stated that 99 percent of the world’s freshwater ice is contained in the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps.









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