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TBR News August 21, 2018

Aug 21 2018

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

Washington, D.C. August 21, 2018: “The personality of Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill could very well be a subject of interest to an alienist who, by definition, is a physician who treats mental disorders. There is a saying that the world is governed with very little sense and there are times when one could add to this statement that it often has been governed by lunatics.

Churchill was born in 1874 and died in 1965. His father was Randolph Spencer-Churchill, a son of the Duke of Marlborough. The first Duke was John Churchill, one of England’s most capable military commanders, who died without male issue in 1722 and the title was given to one of his nephews, a Spencer. As a courtesy, the Spencer family was allowed to add Churchill to its name, separated by a hyphen. Winston always wanted to believe that he was a gifted military leader in the mold of the first Duke but his efforts at generalship were always unqualified disasters that he generally blamed on other people. This chronic refusal to accept responsibility for his own incompetent actions is one of Churchill’s less endearing qualities.

Randolph Churchill died early as the result of rampant syphilis that turned him from an interesting minor politician to a pathetic madman who had to be kept away from the public, in the final years of his life. His mother was the former Jennie Jerome, an American. The Jerome family had seen better days when Jennie met Randolph. Her father, Leonard, was a stock-market manipulator who had lost his money and the marriage was more one of convenience than of affection.

The Jeromes were by background very typically American. On her father’s side, Jennie was mostly Irish and on her mother’s American Indian and Jewish. The union produced two children, Winston and Jack. The parents lived separate lives, both seeking the company of other men. Winston’s psyche suffered accordingly and throughout his life, his frantic desire for attention obviously had its roots in his abandonment as a child.

As a member of the 4th (Queen’s Own) Hussars, in 1896 Churchill became embroiled in a lawsuit wherein he was publicly accused of having engaged in the commission of “acts of gross immorality of the Oscar Wilde type.” This case was duly settled out of court for a payment of money and the charges were withdrawn. Also a determinant factor was the interference by the Prince of Wales with whom his mother was having an affair.

In 1905, Churchill hired a young man, Edward Marsh (later Sir Edward) as his private secretary. His mother, always concerned about her son’s political career, was concerned because Marsh was a very well known homosexual who later became one of Winston’s most intimate lifelong friends. Personal correspondence of March, now in private hands, attests to the nature and duration of their friendship.

Churchill, as Asquith once said, was consumed with vanity and his belief that he was a brilliant military leader led him from the terrible disaster of Gallipoli through the campaigns of the Second World War. He meddled constantly in military matters to the despair and eventual fury of his professional military advisors but his political excursions were even more disastrous. Churchill was a man who was incapable of love but could certainly hate. He was viciously vindictive towards anyone who thwarted him and a number of these perceived enemies died sudden deaths during the war when such activities were much easier to order and conceal.

One of Churchill’s less attractive personality traits, aside from his refusal to accept the responsibility for the failure of his actions, was his ability to change his opinions at a moment’s notice.

Once anti-American, he did a complete about-face when confronted with a war he escalated and could not fight, and from a supporter of Hitler’s rebuilding of Germany, he turned into a bitter enemy after a Jewish political action association composed of wealthy businessmen hired him to be their spokesman.

Churchill lavishly praised Roosevelt to his face and defamed him with the ugliest of accusations behind his back. The American President was a far more astute politician than Churchill and certainly far saner.

In order to support his war of vengeance, Churchill had to buy weapons from the United States and Roosevelt stripped England of all of her assets to pay for these. Only when England was bankrupt did Roosevelt consent to the Lend-Lease project, and in a moment of malicious humor, titled the bill “1776” when it was sent to Congress.

Hitler’s bombing of England was not a prelude to invasion, but a retaliation for Churchill’s instigation of the bombing of German cities and Churchill used the threat of a German invasion to whip up pro-British feelings in the United States. Threats of invasion by the Germans, in this case of the United States, have been cited by such writers as Weinberg as the reason why Roosevelt had to get into the war. Neither the Germans nor the Japanese had even the slightest intention to invade the continental United States and exhaustive research in the military and political archives of both countries has been unable to locate a shred of evidence to support these theories.

 

The Table of Contents

  • Jury says reaches verdict in trial of ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort
  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: Number 5
  • Former Trump lawyer Cohen discussing plea deal with U.S. prosecutors: NBC News
  • Beijing’s Bid for Global Power in the Age of Trump
  • Germany wants Europe to form a ‘counterweight’ to US
  • Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record
  • Collapse of Atlantic Ocean Current Could Trigger Icy Apocalypse, Researchers Warn
  • The Out-of-Africa origin of modern man myth

 

Jury says reaches verdict in trial of ex-Trump campaign chairman Manafort

August 21, 2018

Reuters

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) – A federal court jury in Virginia said on Tuesday it had reached a verdict in the trial of U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to a jury note.

After deliberating for four days, however, the jury of six men and six women told the judge it had failed to reach a decision on 10 of the 18 criminal counts Manafort faces in the first trial stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election.

Reporting by Nathan Layne Karen Freifeld; Additional reporting by Amanda Becker and Sarah N. Lynch; Writing by Will Dunham and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Eric Beech

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: Number 5

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

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

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

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • Feb 10, 2017

“The failing @nytimes does major FAKE NEWS China story saying “Mr. Xi has not spoken to Mr. Trump since Nov. 14.” We spoke at length yesterday!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump was wrong to suggest the Times made an error: this article was written before Trump’s phone call with Xi. As soon as the call became known, the Times updated the article, online and in its late print edition, to include the details of the conversation. Trump may have been reacting to an earlier print edition, but this was not “fake news,” simply the news as it stood as of the newspaper’s deadline.

  • Feb 12, 2017

“Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: There were some supporters along the road, but they were far outnumbered by protesters, according to reporters on scene.

“While on FAKE NEWS @CNN, Bernie Sanders was cut off for using the term fake news to describe the network. They said technical difficulties!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Sanders was not cut off by CNN, and he was mocking Trump’s use of “fake news” to describe the network, not doing so himself. What actually happened: Sanders jokingly called CNN “fake news,” then added, “It was a joke.” CNN host Erin Burnett said, “I know it was a joke.” Sanders then lost his audio feed of Burnett’s questions. Burnett announced they would go to commercial to get it sorted out. After the break, she continued the interview.

  • Feb 16, 2017

“I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all earned bigger margins in the electoral college than Trump did.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“(Former campaign manager Paul Manafort) said that he has absolutely nothing to do and never has with Russia. He said that very forcefully. I saw his statement. He said it forcefully. Most of the papers do not print it because it’s not good for their stories.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: The New York Times story Trump was criticizing included Manafort’s denial, in which he said he never “knowingly” had contact with Russian intelligence officers. Other major outlets that followed up on the story also printed a denial from Manafort.

“I will say that I never get phone calls from the media. How do they write a story like that in the Wall Street Journal without asking me or how do they write a story in the New York Times put it on the front page.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: Media outlets almost always call his administration for comment on major stories. The Journal, in its story about U.S. intelligence declining to share some information with Trump, prominently quoted a denial from an anonymous administration official. The Times also sought comment for its story, but the administration declined to provide one.

“Remember, I used to give you a news conference every time I made a speech, which was like every day. OK?”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: This is not even close to true. Trump indeed gave near-daily speeches during the campaign, but he did not do a single news conference over the last three months of the campaign.

“We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: We don’t usually fact-check claims like “smooth” — it’s vague, and it’s a matter of opinion — but the rollout of the travel ban was so obviously not smooth that we’re making an exception here. The implementation of the ban resulted in mass confusion among U.S. allies like Canada, caused travel problems for thousands of visa-holders and permanent residents, necessitated a series of clarifications and reversals by U.S. officials, and appeared so hasty that a federal appeals court has found that the administration may have violated residents’ constitutional right to due process.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“That’s the other thing that was wrong with the travel ban. You had Delta with a massive problem with their computer system at the airports.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: The Delta outage had nothing to do with the chaos created by the travel ban. The travel ban caused mass confusion on a Saturday; the Delta outage occurred more than a day and a half later, on a Sunday night.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“(Labour secretary nominee Alex Acosta)’s a member and has been a member of the National Labor Relations Board.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: Acosta is not currently a member of the board. He served on it from 2002 to 2003.

Speaking about the news media, “I mean, you have a lower approval rate than Congress. I think that’s right.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: The media is unpopular with Americans, but Congress has consistently been even less popular. Last year, Gallup found that just 9 per cent had confidence in Congress; 20 per cent had confidence in newspapers, 21 per cent in television news. While the new Congress is now up to a 28 per cent approval rating, Gallup found in September that 32 per cent said they had trust in the media.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“Now, when WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they’re not giving classified information.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: Trump may have been attempting to refer specifically to WikiLeaks release of emails related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which were not classified. But he ended up wrongly suggesting that WikiLeaks does not provide classified information at all. The organization made its name releasing hundreds of thousands of pages of classified U.S. material.

“The failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday. And it was very much discredited, as you know.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: The article, headlined “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence,” has not been discredited.

“And the people mentioned in the story, I notice they were on television today saying they never even spoke to Russia.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: One of the people mentioned in the New York Times story, Trump associate Roger Stone, went on television to deny having any contact with any Russians. But the other people mentioned in the story did not issue such categorical denials in any medium. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, told the New York Times that he never “knowingly” had contact with Russian intelligence officers, adding that such people do not “wear badges.” Former Trump adviser Carter Page told CBS he had only “said hello to a few Russian officials over the course of the last year or so”; he also gave a speech in Moscow.

“In fact, we had to go quicker than we thought because of the bad decision we received from (the 9th Circuit appeals court) that has been overturned at a record number. I have heard 80 per cent — I find that hard to believe; that’s just a number I heard — that they’re overturned 80 per cent of the time.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: This statement is false in one way, possibly misleading in another. It is false that the 9th Circuit is overturned by the Supreme Court at a “record number.” Even in the study conservatives usually cite in criticizing the 9th Circuit, the court had the second-highest reversal rate between 1999 and 2008. Between 2010 and 2015, it was third-highest. In the most recent court term for which complete data is readily available, the 9th Circuit was again in second place. It may be misleading to discuss reversal rates this way at all. The Supreme Court overturns a majority of cases it agrees to hear — but those cases represent a tiny fraction of total cases decided by a circuit court. So even if 80 per cent of 9th Circuit cases that reach the Supreme Court are overturned, that still means more than 99 per cent of the circuit’s total decisions are not overturned.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“I think (the 9th Circuit appeals court) is — that circuit is in chaos and that circuit is frankly in turmoil.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: The court is functioning as normal. There is no sign of chaos or turmoil.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 per cent of the uranium in our country.” Added: “Hillary Clinton gave them 20 per cent of our uranium.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: Clinton didn’t personally give Russia uranium. The State Department, which Clinton led as secretary of state, was one of nine government entities that reviewed the Russian purchase of the Toronto-based firm Uranium One, which controlled the rights to about 20 per cent of U.S. uranium capacity. There is no evidence Clinton was personally involved in the process in any way. Further, only the president could have made the decision to block the deal; Clinton did not have final authority either way.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“This administration is running like a fine- tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my cabinet approved. And they’re outstanding people like Senator Dan Coats who’s there, one of the most respected men of the Senate. He can’t get approved. How do you not approve him?”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: We’ll ignore the dubious “fine-tuned machine” claim — there is no sign that Coats, Trump’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence, “can’t get approved” or is even facing obstruction. The Republican who chairs the Senate intelligence committee, Sen. Richard Burr, told The Hill they are waiting for the FBI and others to finish background checks, and that they will hold a hearing when the Senate returns from its one-week break.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

“Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: The Walmart expansion plan that is creating the Jobs was announced in October, before Trump was elected. The company did not reveal the precise 10,000 figure until after Trump took office, but it is directly connected to the previous announcement.

“General Motors likewise committed to invest billions of dollars in its American manufacturing operation, keeping many Jobs here that were going to leave. And if I didn’t get elected, believe me, they would have left. And these Jobs and these things that I’m announcing would never have come here.”

Source: White House press conference

in fact: GM made a new $1 billion commitment to U.S. factories, not “billions”; it committed $2.9 billion last year, before Trump was elected. GM did not offer any indication that it made the decision because of Trump, and independent automotive analysts said it was unlikely the company had done so. “Mostly theatre to play in the news cycle created by President-elect Trump’s tweets,” Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs said. “These investments and hiring plans have long been in the works and are a continuation of what the company has been doing in recent years.”

Trump has repeated this claim 6 times

“Well, I always said about President Obama, it’s great to play golf, but play golf with heads of countries. And, by the way, people like yourself (congressmen), when you’re looking for votes, don’t play with your friends who you play with every week.”

Source: White House “listening session” with members of Congress

in fact: Trump did not “always” say this about Obama, if he said it at all. He criticized Obama’s golfing at least 11 times on Twitter without ever declaring that it would be great for Obama to play with foreign leaders. He also said, “I don’t want to touch a golf club.”

“The fake-news media doesn’t like talking about the economy; I never see anything about the stock market sets new records every day. I never see it.”

Source: White House “listening session” with members of Congress

in fact: We cannot fact-check what Trump does or doesn’t personally see, but his suggestion that the media ignores market records is inaccurate. The Dow Jones industrial average has received extensive coverage, even more than the usual daily stream of business stories, as it has reached new heights over the last month.

“Will anybody show up to that press conference? Historically, they didn’t care about these things. For me, they show up.”

Source: White House “listening session” with members of Congress

in fact: Obviously, journalists have always cared about presidential press conferences.

 

Former Trump lawyer Cohen discussing plea deal with U.S. prosecutors: NBC News

August 21, 2018

Reuters Staff

(Reuters) – Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, is discussing a possible guilty plea with federal prosecutors in connection with tax fraud and banking-related issues, NBC News said on Tuesday, citing multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Cohen has not reached a plea agreement, but one could be reached as early as Tuesday, NBC News said, citing the sources.

Lanny Davis, a lawyer for Cohen, declined to comment.

The probe is being led by the office of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan. A spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A plea bargain by Cohen could include a promise to cooperate with authorities, but it was not immediately clear whether that would extend to other federal investigations.

Federal agents had seized documents and files from Cohen in April that stemmed from a referral from the office of Robert Mueller, the U.S. special counsel looking into possible coordination between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia.

Trump has repeatedly denied there was any collusion and called the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. Russia has denied meddling in the election. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow had interfered.

Reporting by New York Newsroom; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

 

Beijing’s Bid for Global Power in the Age of Trump

“America First” Versus China’s Strategy of the Four Continents

August 21, 2018

by Alfred W. McCoy

Tom Dispatch

As the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency and sixth of Xi Jinping’s draws to a close, the world seems to be witnessing one of those epochal clashes that can change the contours of global power. Just as conflicts between American President Woodrow Wilson and British Prime Minister Lloyd George produced a failed peace after World War I, competition between Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and American President Harry Truman sparked the Cold War, and the rivalry between Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and President John F. Kennedy brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, so the empowered presidents of the United States and China are now pursuing bold, intensely personal visions of new global orders that could potentially reshape the trajectory of the twenty-first century — or bring it all down.

The countries, like their leaders, are a study in contrasts. China is an ascending superpower, riding a wave of rapid economic expansion with a burgeoning industrial and technological infrastructure, a growing share of world trade, and surging self-confidence. The United States is a declining hegemon, with a crumbling infrastructure, a failing educational system, a shrinking slice of the global economy, and a deeply polarized, divided citizenry. After a lifetime as the ultimate political insider, Xi Jinping became China’s president in 2013, bringing with him a bold internationalist vision for the economic integration of Asia, Africa, and Europe through monumental investment in infrastructure that could ultimately expand and extend the current global economy. After a short political apprenticeship as a conspiracy advocate, Donald Trump took office in 2017 as an ardent America First nationalist determined to disrupt or even dismantle an American-built-and-dominated international order he disdained for supposedly constraining his country’s strength.

Although they started this century on generally amicable terms, China and the U.S. have, in recent years, moved toward military competition and open economic conflict. When China was admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, Washington was confident that Beijing would play by the established rules and become a compliant member of an American-led international community. There was almost no awareness of what might happen when a fifth of humanity joined the world system as an economic equal for the first time in five centuries.

By the time Xi Jinping became China’s seventh president, a decade of rapid economic growth averaging 11% annually and currency reserves surging toward an unprecedented $4 trillion had created the economic potential for a rapid, radical shift in the global balance of power. After just a few months in office, Xi began tapping those vast reserves to launch a bold geopolitical gambit, a genuine challenge to U.S. dominion over Eurasia and the world beyond. Aglow in its status as the world’s sole superpower after “winning” the Cold War, Washington had difficulty at first even grasping such newly developing global realities and was slow to react.

China’s bid couldn’t have been more fortuitous in its timing. After nearly 70 years as the globe’s hegemon, Washington’s dominance over the world economy had begun to wither and its once-superior work force to lose its competitive edge. By 2016, in fact, the dislocations brought on by the economic globalization that had gone with American dominion sparked a revolt of the dispossessed in democracies worldwide and in the American heartland, bringing the self-proclaimed “populist” Donald Trump to power. Determined to check his country’s decline, he has adopted an aggressive and divisive foreign policy that has roiled long-established alliances in both Asia and Europe and is undoubtedly giving that decline new impetus.

Within months of Trump’s entry into the Oval Office, the world was already witnessing a sharp rivalry between Xi’s advocacy of a new form of global collaboration and Trump’s version of economic nationalism. In the process, humanity seems to be entering a rare historical moment when national leadership and global circumstances have coincided to create an opening for a major shift in the nature of the world order.

Trump’s Disruptive Foreign Policy

Despite their constant criticism of Donald Trump’s leadership, few among Washington’s corps of foreign policy experts have grasped his full impact on the historic foundations of American global power. The world order that Washington built after World War II rested upon what I’ve called a “delicate duality”: an American imperium of raw military and economic power married to a community of sovereign nations, equal under the rule of law and governed through international institutions such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

On the realpolitik side of that duality, Washington constructed a four-tier apparatus — military, diplomatic, economic, and clandestine — to advance a global dominion of unprecedented wealth and power. This apparatus rested on hundreds of military bases in Europe and Asia that made the U.S. the first power in history to dominate (if not control) the Eurasian continent.

Even after the Cold War ended, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned that Washington would remain the world’s preeminent power only as long as it maintained its geopolitical dominion over Eurasia. In the decade before Trump’s election, there were, however, already signs that America’s hegemony was on a downward trajectory as its share of global economic power fell from 50% in 1950 to just 15% in 2017. Many financial forecasts now project that China will surpass the U.S. as the world’s number one economy by 2030, if not before.

In this era of decline, there has emerged from President Trump’s torrent of tweets and off-the-cuff remarks a surprisingly coherent and grim vision of America’s place in the present world order. Instead of reigning confidently over international organizations, multilateral alliances, and a globalized economy, Trump evidently sees America standing alone and beleaguered in an increasingly troubled world — exploited by self-aggrandizing allies, battered by unequal trade terms, threatened by tides of undocumented immigrants, and betrayed by self-serving elites too timid or compromised to defend the nation’s interests.

Instead of multilateral trade pacts like NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), or even the WTO, Trump favors bilateral deals rewritten to the (supposed) advantage of the United States. In place of the usual democratic allies like Canada and Germany, he is trying to weave a web of personal ties to avowedly nationalist and autocratic leaders of a sort he clearly admires: Vladimir Putin in Russia, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Narendra Modi in India, Adel Fatah el-Sisi in Egypt, and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Instead of old alliances like NATO, Trump favors loose coalitions of like-minded countries. As he sees it, a resurgent America will carry the world along, while crushing terrorists and dealing in uniquely personal ways with rogue states like Iran and North Korea.

His version of a foreign policy has found its fullest statement in his administration’s December 2017 National Security Strategy. As he took office, the nation, it claimed, faced “an extraordinarily dangerous world, filled with a wide range of threats.” But in less than a year of his leadership, it insisted, “We have renewed our friendships in the Middle East… to help drive out terrorists and extremists… America’s allies are now contributing more to our common defense, strengthening even our strongest alliances.” Humankind will benefit from the president’s “beautiful vision” that “puts America First” and promotes “a balance of power that favors the United States.” The whole world will, in short, be “lifted by America’s renewal.”

Despite such grandiose claims, each of President Trump’s overseas trips has been a mission of destruction in terms of American global power. Each, seemingly by design, disrupted and possibly damaged alliances that have been the foundation for Washington’s global power since the 1950s. During the president’s first foreign trip in May 2017, he promptly voiced withering complaints about the supposed refusal of Washington’s European allies to pay their “fair share” of NATO’s military costs, leaving the U.S. stuck with the bill and, in a fashion unknown to American presidents, refused even to endorse the alliance’s core principle of collective defense. It was a position so extreme in terms of the global politics of the previous half-century that he was later forced to formally back down. (By then, however, he had registered his contempt for those allies in an unforgettable fashion.)

During a second, no-less-divisive NATO visit in July, he charged that Germany was “a captive of Russia” and pressed the allies to immediately double their share of defense spending to a staggering 4% of gross domestic product (a level even Washington, with its monumental Pentagon budget, hasn’t reached) — a demand they all ignored. Just days later, he again questioned the very idea of a common defense, remarking that if “tiny” NATO ally Montenegro decided to “get aggressive,” then “congratulations, you’re in World War III.”

Moving on to England, he promptly kneecapped close ally Theresa May, telling a British tabloid that the prime minister had bungled her country’s Brexit withdrawal from the European Union and “killed off any chance of a vital U.S. trade deal.” He then went on to Helsinki for a summit with Vladimir Putin, where he visibly abased himself before NATO’s nominal nemesis, completely enough that there were even brief, angry protests from leaders of his own party.

During Trump’s major Asia tour in November 2017, he addressed the Asian-Pacific Economic Council (APEC) in Vietnam, offering an extended “tirade” against multilateral trade agreements, particularly the WTO. To counter intolerable “trade abuses,” such as “product dumping, subsidized goods, currency manipulation, and predatory industrial policies,” he swore that he would always “put America first” and not let it “be taken advantage of anymore.” Having denounced a litany of trade violations that he termed nothing less than “economic aggression” against America, he invited everyone there to share his “Indo-Pacific dream” of the world as a “beautiful constellation” of “strong, sovereign, and independent nations,” each working like the United States to build “wealth and freedom.”

Responding to such a display of narrow economic nationalism from the globe’s leading power, Xi Jinping had a perfect opportunity to play the world statesman and he took it, calling upon APEC to support an economic order that is “more open, inclusive, and balanced.” He spoke of China’s future economic plans as an historic bid for “interconnected development to achieve common prosperity… on the Asian, European, and African continents.”

As China has lifted 60 million of its own people out of poverty in just a few years and was committed to its complete eradication by 2020, so he urged a more equitable world order “to bring the benefits of development to countries across the globe.” For its part, China, he assured his listeners, was ready to make “$2 trillion of outbound investment” — much of it for the development of Eurasia and Africa (in ways, of course, that would link that vast region more closely to China). In other words, he sounded like a twenty-first century Chinese version of a twentieth-century American president, while Donald Trump acted more like Argentina’s former presidente Juan Perón, minus the medals. As if to put another nail in the coffin of American global dominion, the remaining 11 Trans-Pacific trade pact partners, led by Japan and Canada, announced major progress in finalizing that agreement — without the United States.

In addition to undermining NATO, America’s Pacific alliances, long its historic fulcrum for the defense of North America and the dominance of Asia, are eroding, too. Even after 10 personal meetings and frequent phone calls between Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Donald Trump during his first 18 months in office, the president’s America First trade policy has placed a “major strain” on Washington’s most crucial alliance in the region. First, he ignored Abe’s pleas and cancelled the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and then, as if his message hadn’t been strong enough, he promptly imposed heavy tariffs on Japanese steel imports. Similarly, he’s denounced the Canadian prime minister as “dishonest” and mimicked Indian Prime Minister Modi’s accent, even as he made chummy with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and then claimed, inaccurately, that his country was “no longer a nuclear threat.”

It all adds up to a formula for further decline at a faster pace.

Beijing’s Grand Strategy

While Washington’s influence in Asia recedes, Beijing’s grows ever stronger. As China’s currency reserves climbed rapidly from $200 billion in 2001 to a peak of $4 trillion in 2014, President Xi launched a new initiative of historic import. In September 2013, speaking in Kazakhstan, the heart of Asia’s ancient Silk Road caravan route, he proclaimed a “one belt, one road initiative” aimed at economically integrating the enormous Eurasian land mass around Beijing’s leadership. Through “unimpeded trade” and infrastructure investment, he suggested, it would be possible to connect “the Pacific and the Baltic Sea” in a proposed “economic belt along the Silk Road,” a region “inhabited by close to 3 billion people.” It could become, he predicted, “the biggest market in the world with unparalleled potential.”

Within a year, Beijing had established a Chinese-dominated Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank with 56 member nations and an impressive $100 billion in capital, while launching its own $40 billion Silk Road Fund for private equity projects. When China convened what it called a “belt and road summit” of 28 world leaders in Beijing in May 2017, Xi could, with good reason, hail his initiative as the “project of the century.”

Although the U.S. media has often described the individual projects involved in his “one belt, one road” project as wasteful, sybaritic, exploitative, or even neo-colonial, its sheer scale and scope merits closer consideration. Beijing is expected to put a mind-boggling $1.3 trillion into the initiative by 2027, the largest investment in human history, more than 10 times the famed American Marshall Plan, the only comparable program, which spent a more modest $110 billion (when adjusted for inflation) to rebuild a ravaged Europe after World War II.

Beijing’s low-cost infrastructure loans for 70 countries from the Baltic to the Pacific are already funding construction of the Mediterranean’s busiest port at Piraeus, Greece, a major nuclear power plant in England, a $6 billion railroad through rugged Laos, and a $46 billion transport corridor across Pakistan. If successful, such infrastructure investments could help knit two dynamic continents, Europe and Asia — home to a full 70% percent of the world’s population and its resources — into a unified market without peer on the planet.

Underlying this flurry of flying dirt and flowing concrete, the Chinese leadership seems to have a design for transcending the vast distances that have historically separated Asia from Europe. As a start, Beijing is building a comprehensive network of trans-continental gas and oil pipelines to import fuels from Siberia and Central Asia for its own population centers. When the system is complete, there will be an integrated inland energy grid (including Russia’s extensive network of pipelines) that will extend 6,000 miles across Eurasia, from the North Atlantic to the South China Sea. Next, Beijing is working to link Europe’s extensive rail network with its own expanded high-speed rail system via transcontinental lines through Central Asia, supplemented by spur lines running due south to Singapore and southwest through Pakistan.

Finally, to facilitate sea transport around the sprawling continent’s southern rim, China has already bought into or is in the process of building more than 30 major port facilities, stretching from the Straits of Malacca across the Indian Ocean, around Africa, and along Europe’s extended coastline. In January, to take advantage of Arctic waters opened by global warming, Beijing began planning for a “Polar Silk Road,” a scheme that fits well with ambitious Russian and Scandinavian projects to establish a shorter shipping route around the continent’s northern coast to Europe.

Though Eurasia is its prime focus, China is also pursuing economic expansion in Africa and Latin America to create what might be dubbed the strategy of the four continents. To tie Africa into its projected Eurasian network, Beijing already had doubled its annual trade there by 2015 to $222 billion, three times that of the United States, thanks to a massive infusion of capital expected to reach a trillion dollars by 2025. Much of it is financing the sort of commodities extraction that has already made the continent China’s second largest source of crude oil. Similarly, Beijing has invested heavily in Latin America, acquiring, for instance, control over 90% of Ecuador’s oil reserves. As a result, its commerce with that continent doubled in a decade, reaching $244 billion in 2017, topping U.S. trade with what once was known as its own “backyard.”

A Conflict with Consequences

This contest between Xi’s globalism and Trump’s nationalism has not been safely confined to an innocuous marketplace of ideas. Over the past four years, the two powers have engaged in an escalating military rivalry and a cutthroat commercial competition. Apart from a shadowy struggle for dominance in space and cyberspace, there has also been a visible, potentially volatile naval arms race to control the sea lanes surrounding Asia, specifically in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. In a 2015 white paper, Beijing stated that “it is necessary for China to develop a modern maritime military force structure commensurate with its national security.” Backed by lethal land-based missiles, jet fighters, and a global satellite system, China has built just such a modernized fleet of 320 ships, including nuclear submarines and its first aircraft carriers.

Within two years, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson reported that China’s “growing and modernized fleet” was “shrinking” the traditional American advantage in the Pacific, and warned that “we must shake off any vestiges of comfort or complacency.” Under Trump’s latest $700-billion-plus defense budget, Washington has responded to this challenge with a crash program to build 46 new ships, which will raise its total to 326 by 2023. As China builds new naval bases bristling with armaments in the Arabian and South China seas, the U.S. Navy has begun conducting assertive “freedom-of-navigation” patrols near many of those same installations, heightening the potential for conflict.

It is in the commercial realm of trade and tariffs, however, where competition has segued into overt conflict. Acting on his belief that “trade wars are good and easy to win,” President Trump slapped heavy tariffs, targeted above all at China, on steel imports in March and, just a few weeks later, and punished that country’s intellectual property theft by promising tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports. When those tariffs finally hit in July, China immediately retaliated against what it called “typical trade bullying” with similar tariffs on U.S. goods. The Financial Times warned that this “tit-for-tat” can escalate into a “full bore trade war… that will be very bad for the global economy.” As Trump threatened to tax $500 billion more in Chinese imports and issued confusing, even contradictory demands that made it unlikely Beijing could ever comply, observers became concerned that a long-lasting trade war could destabilize what the New York Times called the “mountain of debt” that sustains much of China’s economy. In Washington, the usually taciturn Federal Reserve chairman issued an uncommon warning that “trade tensions… could pose serious risks to the U.S. and global economy.”

China as Global Hegemon?

Although a withering of Washington’s global reach, abetted and possibly accelerated by the Trump presidency, is already underway, the shape of any future world order is still anything but clear. At present, China is the sole state with the obvious requisites for becoming the planet’s new hegemon. Its phenomenal economic rise, coupled with its expanding military and growing technological prowess, provide that country with the obvious fundamentals for superpower status.

Yet neither China nor any other state seems to have the full imperial complement of attributes to replace the United States as the dominant world leader. Apart from its rising economic and military clout, China, like its sometime ally Russia, has a self-referential culture, non-democratic political structures, and a developing legal system that could deny it some of the key instruments for global leadership.

In addition to the fundamentals of military and economic power, “every successful empire,” observes Cambridge University historian Joya Chatterji, “had to elaborate a universalist and inclusive discourse” to win support from the world’s subordinate states and their leaders. Successful imperial transitions driven by the hard power of guns and money also require the soft-power salve of cultural suasion for sustained and successful global dominion. Spain espoused Catholicism and Hispanism, the Ottomans Islam, the Soviets communism, France a cultural francophonie, and Britain an Anglophone culture. Indeed, during its century of global dominion from 1850 to 1940, Britain was the exemplar par excellence of such soft power, evincing an enticing cultural ethos of fair play and free markets that it propagated through the Anglican church, the English language and its literature, and the virtual invention of modern athletics (cricket, soccer, tennis, rugby, and rowing). Similarly, at the dawn of its global dominion, the United States courted allies worldwide through soft-power programs promoting democracy and development. These were made all the more palatable by the appeal of such things as Hollywood films, civic organizations like Rotary International, and popular sports like basketball and baseball.

China has nothing comparable. Its writing system has some 7,000 characters, not 26 letters. Its communist ideology and popular culture are remarkably, even avowedly, particularistic. And you don’t have to look far for another Asian power that attempted Pacific dominion without the salve of soft power. During Japan’s occupation of Southeast Asia in World War II, its troops went from being hailed as liberators to facing open revolt across the region after they failed to propagate their similarly particularistic culture.

As command-economy states for much of the past century, neither China nor Russia developed an independent judiciary or the autonomous rules-based order that undergirds the modern international system. From the foundation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in 1899 through the formation of the International Court of Justice under the U.N.’s 1945 charter, the world’s nations have aspired to the resolution of conflicts via arbitration or litigation rather than armed conflict. More broadly, the modern globalized economy is held together by a web of conventions, treaties, patents, and contracts grounded in law.

From its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic of China gave primacy to the party and state, slowing the growth of an autonomous legal system and the rule of law. A test of its attitude toward this system of global governance came in 2016 when the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruled unanimously that China’s claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea “are contrary to the Convention [on the Law of the Sea] and without lawful effect.” Beijing’s Foreign Ministry simply dismissed the adverse decision as “invalid” and without “binding force.” President Xi insisted China’s “territorial sovereignty and maritime rights” were unchanged, while the state Xinhua news agency called the ruling “naturally null and void.” Although China might be well placed to supplant Washington’s economic and military power, its capacity to assume leadership via that other aspect of the delicate duality of global power, a network of international organizations grounded in the rule of law, is still open to question.

If Donald Trump’s vision of world disorder is a sign of the American future and if Beijing’s projected $2 trillion in infrastructure investments, history’s largest by far, succeed in unifying the commerce and transport of Asia, Africa, and Europe, then perhaps the currents of financial power and global leadership will indeed transcend all barriers and flow inexorably toward Beijing, as if by natural law. But if that bold initiative ultimately fails, then for the first time in five centuries the world may face an imperial transition without a clear successor as global hegemon. Moreover, it will do so on a planet where the “new normal” of climate change — the heating of the atmosphere and the oceans, the intensification of flood, drought, and fire, the rising seas that will devastate coastal cities, and the cascading damage to a densely populated world — could mean that the very idea of a global hegemon is fast becoming a thing of the past.

 

Germany wants Europe to form a ‘counterweight’ to US

The German foreign minister has said it was high time that Europe reassessed its partnership with the US. He advocated an EU payment system independent of the US in order to save the nuclear deal with Iran.

August 21, 2018

DW

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said that Europe should form a “counterweight” to the United States whenever Washington “crosses red lines.”

In a guest article for German business newspaper Handelsblatt, Maas said Germany wants a “balanced partnership” with the United States, in which it “brings its weight where the US withdraws.”

“Single-handedly, we will fail in this task. The main goal of our foreign policy is therefore to build a sovereign, strong Europe,” Maas wrote.

Maas’ article comes in the backdrop of strained relations between the US and its European allies after US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU and pulled out of a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.

Europe has been scrambling to persuade Tehran to remain in the 2015 accord. But with European firms wary of far-reaching US financial penalties, it’s proving to be a challenge.

EU payment system

Maas said Europe needs to set up payment systems independent of the US if it wants to save the nuclear deal.

“That’s why it is indispensable that we strengthen European autonomy by creating payment channels that are independent of the United States, a European Monetary Fund and an independent SWIFT system,” Maas wrote.

“Every day the deal is alive is better than the highly explosive crisis that would otherwise threaten the Middle East.”

Iran called on Europe to speed up efforts to save the deal after French oil group Total formally pulled out of a major gas project on Monday.

The EU has vowed to counter Trump’s renewed sanctions on Iran, including by means of a new law to shield European companies from punitive measures.

“Given the circumstances, it is of strategic importance that we tell Washington clearly: we want to work together,” Maas wrote. “But we will not allow you to hurt our interests without consulting us.”

 

Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record

Usually frozen waters open up twice this year in phenomenon scientists described as scary

August 21, 2018

by Jonathan Watts

The Guardian

The oldest and thickest sea ice in the Arctic has started to break up, opening waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen, even in summer.

This phenomenon – which has never been recorded before – has occurred twice this year due to warm winds and a climate-change driven heatwave in the northern hemisphere.

One meteorologist described the loss of ice as “scary”. Others said it could force scientists to revise their theories about which part of the Arctic will withstand warming the longest.

The sea off the north coast of Greenland is normally so frozen that it was referred to, until recently, as “the last ice area” because it was assumed that this would be the final northern holdout against the melting effects of a hotter planet.

But abnormal temperature spikes in February and earlier this month have left it vulnerable to winds, which have pushed the ice further away from the coast than at any time since satellite records began in the 1970s.

“Almost all of the ice to the north of Greenland is quite shattered and broken up and therefore more mobile,” said Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute. “Open water off the north coast of Greenland is unusual. This area has often been called ‘the last ice area’ as it has been suggested that the last perennial sea ice in the Arctic will occur here. The events of the last week suggest that, actually, the last ice area may be further west.”

Ice to the north of Greenland is usually particularly compacted due to the Transpolar Drift Stream, one of two major weather patterns that push ice from Siberia across the Arctic to the coastline, where it packs.

Walt Meier, a senior research scientist at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, said: “The ice there has nowhere else to go so it piles up. On average, it’s over four metres thick and can be piled up into ridges 20 metres thick or more. This thick, compacted ice is generally not easily moved around.

“However, that was not the case this past winter (in February and March) and now. The ice is being pushed away from the coast by the winds.”

Ice is easier to blow around as a result of a warming trend, which has accelerated over the past 15 years. “The thinning is reaching even the coldest part of the Arctic with the thickest ice. So it’s a pretty dramatic indication of the transformation of the Arctic sea ice and Arctic climate.”

“Scary,” wrote Thomas Lavergne, a scientist at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, in a retweet of a satellite-gif of the blue water penetrating white ice and exposing hundreds of miles of the Greenland coastline.

He said this would flush chunks of thicker ice out through the Fram or Nares Straits into warmer southern waters.

“I cannot tell how long this open water patch will remain open, but even if it closes in few days from now, the harm will be done: the thick old sea ice will have been pushed away from the coast, to an area where it will melt more easily,” he added.

This year’s openings are driven more by wind than melting but they have occurred during two temperature spikes. In February, the Kap Morris Jesup weather station in the region is usually below -20C, but earlier this year there were 10 days above freezing and warm winds, which unlocked the ice from the coast.

Last week, the crack opened again after Kap Morris Jesup briefly registered a record high of 17C and strong southerly winds picked up to 11 knots. Experts predict that coastal seas will freeze again but probably later than normal.

“I think that solar heating of the water column will increase during this opening and this will delay freeze-up and ice formation,” said Rasmus Tage Tonboe, a sea ice expert at the the Danish Meteorological Institute.

The latest readings by the Norwegian Ice Service show that Arctic ice cover in the Svalbard area this week is 40% below the average for this time of year since 1981. In the past month, at least 14 days in the past month have hit record lows in this region. Although thinner ice elsewhere in the Arctic means this is unlikely to be a record low year overall, they are in line with predictions that there will be no summer ice in the Arctic Ocean at some point between 2030 and 2050.

Keld Qvistgaard, the ice service coordinator in Denmark, said this was not the first time a gap had appeared between the shore and the main ice pack but the one formed from 1 to 5 August was different in its extent. “This event is a pretty big one going all the way to west of Kap Morris Jesup. This is unusual,” he said.

As well as reducing ice cover, the ocean intrusion raises concerns of feedbacks, which could tip the Earth towards a hothouse state.

Freakish Arctic temperatures have alarmed climate scientists since the beginning of the year. During the sunless winter, a heatwave raised concerns that the polar vortex may be eroding.

This includes the Gulf Stream, which is at its weakest level in 1,600 years due to melting Greenland ice and ocean warming. With lower circulation of water and air, weather systems tend to linger longer.

A dormant hot front has been blamed for record temperatures in Lapland and forest fires in Siberia, much of Scandinavia and elsewhere in the Arctic circle.

 

Collapse of Atlantic Ocean Current Could Trigger Icy Apocalypse, Researchers Warn

“Engine” of the sea could sputter to a halt due to climate change.

by Mary Papenfuss

Huffpost

Climate change could become so extreme that it might trigger the cataclysmic collapse of a vital Atlantic Ocean current and plunge parts of the Northern Hemisphere into a frigid new reality, a study warns.

The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) transports warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic and helps regulate climate and weather patterns all over the world. As it releases the warmth into the air, the cooling water sinks and flows back to the tropics to repeat the process. But researchers fear that as the air in the north warms significantly due to climate change, the AMOC won’t be able to transfer its warmth to the atmosphere and the great circulatory engine of the ocean could stagnate and shut down.

“It is a major player in the climate system, important for Europe and North America. So it’s a big deal,” Tom Delworth, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Verge.

The doomsday scenario is chillingly like the plot of the sci-fi movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” in which the collapse of an ocean current turns North America and Europe into frigid wastelands in a matter of weeks.

The risk was uncovered by Yale University scientist Wei Liu, who has calculated in a study published in Science Advances that the AMOC could collapse within 300 years once atmospheric carbon dioxide increases to 710 parts per million. Last week’s levels were 405 parts per million. There is already evidence that the AMOC has slowed, according to the paper. A shutdown would trigger “prominent cooling” of the northern North Atlantic and a “remarkable sea ice expansion,” according to Wei’s model. In addition, the normal rain belt of the temperate areas would be pushed significantly southward over the tropical Atlantic.

The model also predicts disruptions in other parts of the world. Without cold water moving south again, the new scenario indicates a stronger warming pattern south of the equator, creating far more rain for places like northeastern Brazil and less rain for Central America. The model also predicts a greater reduction in Antarctic sea ice.

Wei warns that this fragility in the life-sustaining AMOC has been overlooked in climate change models. “The significance of our study is to point out a systematic bias in current climate models that hinders a correct climate projection,” he said in a statement.

The concern about AMOC “is a very provocative idea,” said study co-author Zhengyu Liu of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “For me, it’s a 180-degree turn because I had been thinking like everyone else,” he added, referring to his earlier perspective that the AMOC would remain relatively stable regardless of the effects of climate change.

 

The Out-of-Africa origin of modern man myth

Scientific evidence refuting the popular theory of modern humanity’s African genesis is common knowledge among those familiar with the most recent scientific papers on the human Genome, Mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomes. Regrettably, within mainstream press and academia circles, there seems to be a conspicuous – and dare we say it – deliberate vacuum when it comes to reporting news of these recent studies and their obvious implications.

Australian historian Greg Jefferys explains that, the whole “Out-of-Africa” myth has its roots in the mainstream academic campaign in the 1990’s to remove the concept of race. The “Out-of-Africa” politically correct legend has been completely disproved by genetics.

However, the politically correct mainstream media still hold on to it.

The academics most responsible for cementing both the “Out-of-Africa” theory and the complementary common ancestral African mother given the name of “Eve” – in the public arena and nearly every curriculum, were Professors Alan C. Wilson and Rebecca L. Cann.

In their defense, the authors of this paper were fully aware that genealogy is not in any way linked to geography, and that their placement of Eve in Africa was an assumption, never an assertion.

A very recent paper on Y-chromosomes published in 2012, Re-Examing the “Out of Africa” Theory and the Origin of Europeoids (Caucasians) in the Light of DNA Genealogy only confirms the denial of any African  ancestry in non-Africans, and strongly supports the existence of a “common ancestor” who would not necessarily be in Africa. In fact, it was never proven that he lived in Africa.

Central to results of this extensive examination of haplogroups (7,556) was the absence of any African genes. So lacking was the sampling of African genetic involvement, the researchers stated in their introduction that, “the finding that the Europeoid haplogroups did not descend from “African” haplogroups A or B is supported by the fact that bearers of the Europeoid, as well as all non-African groups do not carry either SNI’s M91, P97, M31, P82, M23, M114, P262.”

With the haplogroups not present in any African genes and an absence of dozens of African genetic markers, it is very difficult nigh on impossible to sustain any link to Africa. The researchers are adamant that their extensive study “offers evidence to re-examine the validity of the Out-of-Africa concept”. They see no genetic proof substantiating an African precedence in the Homo sapien tree.

We regard the claim of “a more plausible explanation” as a gross understatement, since there is absolutely nothing plausibly African turning up in any test tubes. In fact, the researchers made note of their repeated absence stating not one non-African participant out of more than 400 individuals in the Project tested positive to any of thirteen African sub-clades of haplogroup A.

Only remaining uncertainty relates to the identity of this “more ancient common ancestor”. All that can be stated with confidence is that humanity’s ancestor did not reside in Africa. Unfounded accusations of racism have become common, as the prevailing Afrocentric hypothesis is constantly being challenged by the growing mountain of conflicting scientific evidence, especially in the evolving field of genetics.

There has been intensive study on the topic of the Neanderthals, especially over the last few years as archeological digs, scientific projects and newer technologies discover more and more of their remains, past dwelling places and insight into their daily lives. Based on analysis and much study, scientists have even been able to determine that Neanderthals were about 99.7% human, and that if your heritage is non-African, you are part Neanderthal.

Scientists have determined that some of the human X chromosome in modern Humans who’s roots are Non-African actually originate from Neanderthals, and that only Non-Africans carry about 1-4% of it. Based on these findings, it has not yet been determined whether to classify them as a separate species of humans or a subspecies of modern man, i.E Homo sapiens

 

 

 

 

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