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TBR News November 28, 2019

Nov 28 2019

The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. November 28, 2019:“Working in the White House as a junior staffer is an interesting experience.
When I was younger, I worked as a summer-time job in a clinic for people who had moderate to severe mental problems and the current work closely, at times, echos the earlier one.
I am not an intimate of the President but I have encountered him from time to time and I daily see manifestations of his growing psychological problems.
He insults people, uses foul language, is frantic to see his name mentioned on main-line television and pays absolutely no attention to any advice from his staff that runs counter to his strange ideas.
He lies like a rug to everyone, eats like a hog, makes lewd remarks to female staffers and flies into rages if anyone dares to contradict him.
It is becoming more and more evident to even the least intelligent American voter that Trump is vicious, corrupt and amoral. He has stated often that even if he loses the election in 2020, he will not leave the White House. I have news for Donald but this is not the place to discuss it.
Commentary for November 28: “Throughout his career, Trump has always felt comfortable operating at or beyond the ethical boundaries that constrain typical businesses. In the 1980s, he worked with La Cosa Nostra, which controlled the New York cement trade, and later employed Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, both of whom have links to the Russian Mafia. Trump habitually refused to pay his counter parties, and if the people he burned (or any journalists) got in his way, he bullied them with threats. He also used LLCs which he created for the purpose of swindling a firm who, for example, laid new carpet in one of his hotels. The vendor billed the LLC which promptly went bankrupt. This has been a favorite gambit of Trump.”

The Table of Contents
• Are We on the Brink of a ‘New Little Ice Age?’
• Trump signs Hong Kong bills; Beijing vows retaliation: Now what?
• Fired navy secretary blasts Trump over ‘shocking’ handling of Navy Seal case
• Turkey says Russian S-400s will not be integrated into NATO systems
• In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves
• The Coming Hog Holocaust
• The Season of Evil

Are We on the Brink of a ‘New Little Ice Age?’
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

When most of us think about Ice Ages, we imagine a slow transition into a colder climate on long time scales. Indeed, studies of the past million years indicate a repeatable cycle of Earth’s climate going from warm periods (“interglacial”, as we are experiencing now) to glacial conditions.
The period of these shifts are related to changes in the tilt of Earth’s rotational axis (41,000 years), changes in the orientation of Earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun, called the “precession of the equinoxes” (23,000 years), and to changes in the shape (more round or less round) of the elliptical orbit (100,000 years). The theory that orbital shifts caused the waxing and waning of ice ages was first pointed out by James Croll in the 19th Century and developed more fully by Milutin Milankovitch in 1938.
Undefined ice age conditions generally occur when all of the above conspire to create a minimum of summer sunlight on the arctic regions of the earth, although the Ice Age cycle is global in nature and occurs in phase in both hemispheres. It profoundly affects distribution of ice over lands and ocean, atmospheric temperatures and circulation, and ocean temperatures and circulation at the surface and at great depth.
Since the end of the present interglacial and the slow march to the next Ice Age may be several millennia away, why should we care? In fact, won’t the build-up of carbon dioxide (CO²) and other greenhouse gasses possibly ameliorate future changes?
Indeed, some groups advocate the benefits of global warming, including the Greening Earth Society and the Subtropical Russia Movement. Some in the latter group even advocate active intervention to accelerate the process, seeing this as an opportunity to turn much of cold, austere northern Russia into a subtropical paradise.
Evidence has mounted that global warming began in the last century and that humans may be in part responsible. Both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the US National Academy of Sciences concur. Computer models are being used to predict climate change under different scenarios of greenhouse forcing and the Kyoto Protocol advocates active measures to reduce CO² emissions which contribute to warming.
Thinking is centered around slow changes to our climate and how they will affect humans and the habitability of our planet. Yet this thinking is flawed: It ignores the well-established fact that Earth’s climate has changed rapidly in the past and could change rapidly in the future. The issue centers around the paradox that global warming could instigate a new Little Ice Age in the northern hemisphere.
Evidence for abrupt climate change is readily apparent in ice cores taken from Greenland and Antarctica. One sees clear indications of long-term changes discussed above, with CO² and proxy temperature changes associated with the last ice age and its transition into our present interglacial period of warmth. But, in addition, there is a strong chaotic variation of properties with a quasi-period of around 1500 years. We say chaotic because these millennial shifts look like anything but regular oscillations. Rather, they look like rapid, decade-long transitions between cold and warm climates followed by long interludes in one of the two states.
The best-known example of these events is the Younger Dryas cooling of about 12,000 years ago, named for arctic wildflower remains identified in northern European sediments. This event began and ended within a decade and for its 1000-year duration the North Atlantic region was about 5°C colder.
The lack of periodicity and the present failure to isolate a stable forcing mechanism a la Milankovitch, has prompted much scientific debate about the cause of the Younger Dryas and other millennial scale events. Indeed, the Younger Dryas occurred at a time when orbital forcing should have continued to drive climate to the present warm state.
A whole volume that reviews the evidence for abrupt climate change and speculates on its mechanisms was published recently by an expert group commissioned by the National Academy of Sciences in the US. This very readable compilation contains a breadth and depth of discussion that we cannot hope to match here. [ “Abrupt Climate Change,” National Academy Press, 2002].
Presently, there is only one viable mechanism identified in the report that may play a major role in determining the stable states of our climate and what causes transitions between them: It involves ocean dynamics.
In order to balance the excess heating near the equator and cooling at the poles of the earth, both atmosphere and ocean transport heat from low to high latitudes. Warmer surface water is cooled at high latitudes, releasing heat to the atmosphere, which is then radiated away to space. This heat engine operates to reduce equator-to-pole temperature differences and is a prime moderating mechanism for climate on Earth.
Warmer ocean surface temperatures at low latitudes also release water vapor through an excess of evaporation over precipitation to the atmosphere, and this water vapor is transported poleward in the atmosphere along with a portion of the excess heat. At high latitudes where the atmosphere cools, this water vapor falls out as an excess of precipitation over evaporation. This is part of a second important component of our climate system: the hydrologic cycle. As the ocean waters are cooled in their poleward journey, they become denser. If sufficiently cooled, they can sink to form cold dense flows that spread equatorward at great depths, thus perpetuating the circulation system that transports warm surface flows toward high latitude oceans.
The cycle is completed by oceanic mixing, which slowly converts the cold deep waters to warm surface waters. Thus, surface forcing and internal mixing are two major players in this overturning circulation, called the great ocean conveyor.
The waters moving poleward are relatively salty due to more evaporation at low latitudes, which increases surface salinity. At higher latitudes surface waters become fresher as a consequence of the dominance of precipitation over evaporation at high latitudes.
The freshening tendency makes the surface water more buoyant, thus opposing the cooling tendency. If the freshening is sufficiently large, the surface waters may not be dense enough to sink to great depths in the ocean, thus inhibiting the action of the ocean conveyor and upsetting one important part of the earth’s heating system.
This system of regulation does not operate the same in all oceans. The Asian continent limits the northern extent of the Indian Ocean to the tropics, and deep water does not presently form in the North Pacific, because surface waters are just too fresh. Our present climate promotes cold deep-water formation around Antarctica and in the northern North Atlantic Ocean. The conveyor circulation increases the northward transport of warmer waters in the Gulf Stream at mid-latitudes by about 50% over what wind-driven transport alone would do.
Our limited knowledge of ocean climate on long time scales, extracted from the analysis of sediment cores taken around the world ocean, has generally implicated the North Atlantic as the most unstable member of the conveyor: During millennial periods of cold climate, North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) formation either stopped or was seriously reduced. And this has generally followed periods of large freshwater discharge into the northern N. Atlantic caused by rapid melting of glacial or multi-year ice in the Arctic Basin. It is thought that these fresh waters, which have been transported into the regions of deep water formation, have interrupted the conveyor by overcoming the high latitude cooling effect with excessive freshening.
The ocean conveyor need not stop entirely when the NADW formation is curtailed. It can continue at shallower depths in the N. Atlantic and persist in the Southern Ocean where Antarctic Bottom Water formation continues or is even accelerated. Yet a disruption of the northern limb of the overturning circulation will affect the heat balance of the northern hemisphere and could affect both the oceanic and atmospheric climate. Model calculations indicate the potential for cooling of 3 to 5 degree Celsius in the ocean and atmosphere should a total disruption occur. This is a third to a half the temperature change experienced during major ice ages.
These changes are twice as large as those experienced in the worst winters of the past century in the eastern US, and are likely to persist for decades to centuries after a climate transition occurs. They are of a magnitude comparable to the Little Ice Age, which had profound effects on human settlements in Europe and North America during the 16th through 18th centuries. Their geographic extent is in doubt; it might be limited to regions bounding the N. Atlantic Ocean. High latitude temperature changes in the ocean are much less capable of affecting the global atmosphere than low latitude ones, such as those produced by El Niño.
Whether the pathway for propagation of climate change is atmospheric or oceanic, or whether changes in oceanic and terrestrial sequestration of carbon may globalize effects of climate change, as suspected for glacial/inter-glacial climate changes, are open questions. Yet we begin to approach how the paradox mentioned above can happen: Global warming can induce a colder climate for many of us.
Consider first some observations of oceanic change over the modern instrumental record going back 40 years. During this time interval, we have observed a rise in mean global temperature. Because of its large heat capacity, the ocean has registered small but significant changes in temperature. The largest temperature increases are in the near surface waters, but warming has been measurable to depths as great as 3000 meters in the N. Atlantic. Superimposed on this long-term increase are interannual and decadal changes that often obscure these trends, causing regional variability and cooling in some regions, and warming in others.
In addition, recent evidence shows that the high latitude oceans have freshened while the subtropics and tropics have become saltier. These possible changes in the hydrological cycle have not been limited to the North Atlantic, but have been seen in all major oceans. Yet it is the N. Atlantic where these changes can act to disrupt the overturning circulation and cause a rapid climate transition.
A 3-4-meter, high latitude buildup of fresh water over this time period has decreased water column salinities throughout the subpolar N. Atlantic as deep as 2000m. At the same time, subtropical and northern tropical salinities have increased.
The degree to which the two effects balance out in terms of fresh water is important for climate change. If the net effect is a lowering of salinity, then fresh water must have been added from other sources: river runoff, melting of multi-year arctic ice, or glaciers. A flooding of the northern Atlantic with fresh water from these various sources has the potential to reduce or even disrupt the overturning circulation.
Whether or not the latter will happen is the nexus of the problem, and one that is hard to predict with confidence. At present we do not even have a system in place for monitoring the overturning circulation.
Models of the overturning circulation are very sensitive to how internal mixing is parameterized. Recall that internal mixing of heat and salt is an integral part of overturning circulation. One recent study shows that for a model with constant vertical mixing, which is commonly used in coupled ocean-atmosphere climate runs, there is only one stable climate state: our present one with substantial sinking and dense water formation in the northern N. Atlantic.
With a slightly different formulation, more consistent with some recent measurements of oceanic mixing rates that are small near the surface and become larger over rough bottom topography, a second stable state emerges with little or no deep-water production in the northern N. Atlantic. The existence of a second stable state is crucial to understanding when and if abrupt climate change occurs. When it occurs in model runs and in geological data, it is invariably linked to rapid addition of fresh water at high northern latitudes.
And now perhaps you begin to see the scope of the problem. In addition to incorporating a terrestrial biosphere and polar ice, which both play a large role in the reflectivity of solar radiation, one has to accurately parameterize mixing that occurs on centimeter to tens of centimeter scales in the ocean. And one has to produce long coupled global climate runs of many centuries! This is a daunting task but is necessary before we can confidently rely on models to predict future climate change.
Besides needing believable models that can accurately predict climate change, we also need data that can properly initialize them. Errors in initial data can lead to poor atmospheric predictions in several days. So one sure pathway to better weather predictions is better initial data.
For the ocean, our data coverage is wholly inadequate. We can’t say now what the overturning circulation looks like with any confidence and are faced with the task of predicting what it may be like in 10 years!
Efforts are now underway to remedy this. Global coverage of upper ocean temperature and salinity measurements with autonomous floats is well within our capability within the next decade as are surface measures of wind stress and ocean circulation from satellites.
The measurement of deep flows is more difficult, but knowledge about the locations of critical avenues of dense water flows exists, and efforts are underway to measure them in some key locations with moored arrays.
Our knowledge about past climate change is limited as well. There are only a handful of high-resolution ice core climate records of the past 100,000 years, and even fewer ocean records of comparable resolution. Better definition of past climate states is needed not only in and of itself, but for use by modelers to test their best climate models in reproducing what we know happened in the past before believing model projections about the future. We are not there yet, and progress needs to be made on both better data and improved models before we can begin to answer some critical questions about future climate change.
Researchers always tell you that more research funding is needed, and we are not any different. Our main message is not just that, however. It is that global climate is moving in a direction that makes abrupt climate change more probable, that these dynamics lie beyond the capability of many of the models used in IPCC reports, and the consequences of ignoring this may be large. For those of us living around the edge of the N. Atlantic Ocean, we may be planning for climate scenarios of global warming that are opposite to what might actually occur.

Trump signs Hong Kong bills; Beijing vows retaliation: Now what?
November 27, 2019
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law congressional bills that back protesters in Hong Kong and threaten China with possible sanctions on human rights, prompting China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday to warn of “firm counter measures”.
Mass protests for more democracy and autonomy have rocked the former British colony and more than 5,800 people have been arrested since June, with the escalating violence raising fears that China will ratchet up its response to end the unrest.
The “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act,” which the Senate and House passed last week, puts the special treatment Hong Kong enjoys under U.S. law under tighter scrutiny linked to the extent of the territory’s autonomy from Beijing.
A second bill, which Trump also signed, bans the export to the Hong Kong police of crowd-control munitions, such as teargas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and stun guns.
Britain returned Hong Kong to China in 1997, and the territory was promised a “high degree of autonomy” for 50 years. Among the key drivers of the protests in Hong Kong is the widespread perception that Beijing has been steadily encroaching on that promised autonomy.
The “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” that Trump signed requires the State Department to certify at least once a year that Hong Kong retains enough autonomy to justify the favorable U.S. trading terms that have helped it maintain its position as a world financial center.
Officials responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong could also be subject to sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes.
While many see the laws as symbolic, they have the potential to upend relations between the United States and Hong Kong.
China’s promise of “high degree of autonomy” for Hong Kong has formed the basis of the territory’s special status under U.S. law.
China has denounced the legislation as gross interference and violation of international law, and on Thursday labeled the United States the “biggest black hand” behind the unrest in Hong Kong.
The legislation comes at a time when Beijing and Washington are inching toward a “phase one” agreement to begin to defuse a bruising trade war that Trump has made a top priority.
Beijing has signaled that it wants to keep the Hong Kong issue out of the trade war discussions, but the new laws will exacerbate tensions in the bilateral relationship.
Separately, some analysts say any move to end Hong Kong’s special treatment could prove self-defeating for the United States, which has benefited from the business-friendly conditions in the territory.
If Hong Kong becomes just another Chinese port, this could hurt not just the city and China, but U.S. businesses too, and companies that rely on the territory’s role as a middleman, or for trans-shipping, would likely take their business elsewhere.
From a business perspective, one of the most important elements of Hong Kong’s special status has been that it is considered a separate customs and trading zone from China.
That has meant, for instance, that trade-war tariffs don’t apply to exports from Hong Kong.
According to the State Department, 85,000 U.S. citizens lived in Hong Kong in 2018 and more than 1,300 U.S. companies operate there, including nearly every major U.S. financial firm.
The territory is a major destination for U.S. legal and accounting services and in 2018 the largest U.S. bilateral trade-in-goods surplus was with Hong Kong at $31.1 billion.
Trade between Hong Kong and the United States was estimated to be worth $67.3 billion in 2018, with the United States running a $33.8 billion surplus – its biggest with any country or territory, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong has said that anything that changes the status of the territory “would have a chilling effect not only on U.S. trade and investment in Hong Kong but would send negative signals internationally about Hong Kong’s trusted position in the global economy.”
Reporting by John Ruwitch in Shanghai, and David Brunnstrom, Patricial Zengerle and Matt Spetalnick in Washington

Fired navy secretary blasts Trump over ‘shocking’ handling of Navy Seal case
• Richard Spencer writes scathing op-ed for Washington Post
• President intervened in case championed by Fox News
November 28, 2019
Richard Spencer, who was fired as Navy secretary for his handling of a Navy Seal war crimes case championed by Donald Trump, has said the president “has very little understanding” of how the US military works.
The extraordinary accusation came in an opinion piece published by the Washington Post on Wednesday evening, three days after Spencer was fired. Spencer called Trump’s intervention in the case of Navy chief petty officer Edward Gallagher “shocking” and unprecedented.
Spencer was fired on Sunday by defense secretary Mark Esper for working a private deal with the White House to ensure Gallagher be allowed to retire without losing his Seal status.
In his Post article, Spencer acknowledged his mistake but also asserted that Trump’s actions were detrimental to the military.
Spencer said Trump had involved himself in the Gallagher case “almost from the start”, telephoning Spencer even before the Seal’s court martial started to ask that Gallagher be moved out of confinement at a Navy brig.
Spencer said he resisted because the presiding judge decided confinement was important. Trump ordered Spencer to transfer Gallagher to the equivalent of an enlisted barracks.
Spencer said he believes Trump’s interest stemmed partly from the way Gallagher’s defense lawyers and others “worked to keep it front and center in the media”.
After Gallagher was acquitted of most charges but convicted of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter in Iraq, he submitted a request to retire. In Spencer’s telling, that raised three questions for the Navy, including whether Gallagher should be allowed to retire at his current rank. The military jury had said he should be demoted.
Trump, who had tweeted support for Gallagher and stated that his case had been “handled very badly from the beginning”, short-circuited the Navy’s administrative review by ordering Spencer to restore Gallagher’s rank.
“This was a shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review,” Spencer wrote. “It was also a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”
Last week, Trump tweeted that Gallagher must be allowed to keep his Trident pin, the medal that designates a Seal member. The Navy had planned to let an administrative board review the question starting on Monday, but Esper decided to stop that process and let Gallagher retire as a Seal, as Trump had ordered.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Navy announced that it had canceled the peer-review boards for three Seal officers who supervised Gallagher during the deployment that gave rise to the war crimes charges.
Acting navy secretary Thomas Modly said the case was becoming a distraction for the commando force, recently roiled with controversy.
The decision was the latest twist in the Gallagher matter. Trump has made no mention of the three Seal officers also ordered to be reviewed. But Modly said there were better ways to address any “failures in conduct, performance, judgment, or professionalism exhibited by these officers”.
He directed the chief of naval operations to end the review process for Lt Cmdr Robert Breisch, Lt Jacob Portier and Lt Thomas MacNeil.
“The United States Navy, and the Naval Special Warfare Community specifically, have dangerous and important work to do,” Modly said in a statement. “In my judgment, neither deserves the continued distraction and negative attention that recent events have evoked.”
Modly said his decision should not be interpreted as loosening the standards he expects of Seals. He said ongoing efforts will continue to address problems within the force, which has had numerous allegations of misconduct in recent months.
“Navy uniformed leaders have my full confidence that they will continue to address challenging cultural issues within the Naval Special Warfare community, instill good order and discipline, and enforce the very highest professional standards we expect from every member of that community,” Modly said.
Portier was Gallagher’s platoon commander and was charged with failing to report the killing of the captive. He denied the charges and they were dropped after the jury acquitted Gallagher of murder. Portier’s attorney, Jeremiah Sullivan, said Portier was happy to learn he would be allowed to keep his trident.
“Lt Portier is extremely grateful for the unwavering support of President Trump,” Sullivan said.
Attorneys for Breisch and MacNeil did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Handling the Anti-Vax Movement
How nurses can counter myths and legends surrounding vaccines
November 17, 2019
by Koren Thomas
Daily Nurse
The anti-vaccination (“anti-vax”) movement is a global phenomenon that has received a great deal of press, but how much do we really know about it? How do educated adults come to turn against medicines that have been saving literally millions of lives since the early days of smallpox inoculations?
One partial explanation is offered by health policy reporter Stuart Lyman. In a February column for STAT, he writes, “The [pharmaceutical] industry has been engaging in bad behavior for several decades, and these self-inflicted wounds have turned much of the public against it…” After reciting a horrifying litany of pharma-company scandals the public has witnessed, he concludes, “All of this has contributed to the prominent anti-pharma themes voiced by the anti-vax crowd.”
Anti-Vax is No Longer In Its Infancy
But “the anti-vax crowd” shows no signs of giving up their crusade anytime soon. From their original focus on parents of autistic children, they have proceeded to target orthodox Jewish communities and recently bereaved parents. Perhaps the most influential U.S. group behind anti-vaccine campaigns is ICAN (Informed Consent Action Network). According to the Washington Post, ICAN, founded by former daytime television producer Del Bigtree, is largely funded by New York city philanthropists Bernard and Lisa Selz, who have contributed $3 million since joining in 2012.
Lisa Selz now serves as ICAN president, and continues to fund the organization’s message that the government and “Big Pharma” are colluding in a massive cover-up regarding the hidden dangers of vaccines. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a nephew of the late president, runs Children’s Health Defense, his own anti-vax organization, and another flush-with-cash group, The National Vaccine Information Center, is run by Barbara Loe Fisher (who claims her son’s learning disabilities were the result of a 1980 DPT shot that was followed by “convulsion, collapse and brain inflammation within hours”).
Considering that these wealthy and powerful organizations are finding fertile ground in today’s conspiracy-minded culture, Georgia Reiner, a risk specialist for Nurses Service Organization (NSO), provides a few tips for nurses who find themselves confronted by this strange controversy.
What are the actual dangers posed by the anti-vax movement?
Reiner: It is important to state up front that the vast majority of people do vaccinate. However, the anti-vaccination movement has gained a lot of attention and helped foment outbreaks of largely preventable diseases that can be deadly. The anti-vax movement spreads misinformation and conspiracy theories online on social media, and by word-of-mouth in tight-knit, culturally isolated communities.
Anti-vax propagandists have helped to create pockets of unvaccinated people, which have contributed to public health issues like the measles outbreak seen recently in Orthodox Jewish communities in New York and New Jersey. These outbreaks of highly contagious diseases such as measles put vulnerable people, including newborn babies and people who have weakened immune systems, at great risk.
Outbreaks also distract and divert resources from other important public health issues, and cost state and local governments millions of dollars to contain. However, nurses are in an ideal position to counter this messaging.
What are nurses doing to counter the anti-vaccination movement?
Reiner: Nurses are a trusted source of credible information and can have tremendous influence over the decision to vaccinate. This is true even for parents who are vaccine-hesitant. Working on healthcare’s front lines, nurses can help inform families about vaccinations and the role they play in keeping their children healthy and stopping the spread of disease. Nurses can also learn about questions parents may ask about vaccines, and how to effectively address common concerns.
How can nurses cope with anti-vax parents?
Reiner: First, nurses should assume that parents will vaccinate. Research has shown that when healthcare providers use presumptive language, significantly more parents accept vaccines for their child. Then, if parents are still hesitant or express concerns, nurses should work with the treating practitioner to convey the importance of vaccines.
Nurses should listen to parents’ concerns, work to understand why they are questioning the science, and respond respectfully. Provide parents with information about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, both verbally and in writing. Document parents’ questions and concerns.
If parents still decline to vaccinate, the parents should sign a Refusal to Vaccinate form. Parents should sign a new form each time a vaccine is refused so there is a record in the child’s medical file. To minimize potential legal exposure, nurses should document all discussions, actions taken, and educational material provided.

Turkey says Russian S-400s will not be integrated into NATO systems
November 26, 2019
by Ece Toksabay
ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey will not integrate Russian S-400 missile systems into the NATO security or air defence systems, presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told a forum, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday.
Turkey has angered the United States and other NATO allies by buying the Russian-made air defence missile system, which the Western allies say is incompatible with NATO defences.
Washington has suspended Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, which it was helping produce as well as buy.
“We are still working on the technical details. The S-400 systems will not be integrated into the NATO security system or air defence system,” Kalin told a foreign policy conference in Berlin.
“It will remain an independent defence system on its own. Concerns on this issue can be eased,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the head of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport was quoted as saying Russia hoped to seal a deal to supply Turkey with more S-400 missile systems in the first half of next year.
Washington has warned of possible U.S. sanctions but has not yet imposed them. A senior U.S. State Department official said last week that Turkey needed to get rid of the S-400s it had already bought to mend fences.

In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves
May 17, 2014
by William J. Broad
New York Times
When Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.
Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Russia dominion over vast oil and gas reserves while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.
Russia did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. It had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.
“It’s a big deal,” said Carol R. Saivetz, a Eurasian expert in the Security Studies Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia. It makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian pressure.”
Gilles Lericolais, the director of European and international affairs at France’s state oceanographic group, called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “so obvious” as a play for offshore riches.
In Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin said there was “no connection” between the annexation and energy resources, adding that Russia did not even care about the oil and gas. “Compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there,” the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Saturday.
Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and other major oil companies have already explored the Black Sea, and some petroleum analysts say its potential may rival that of the North Sea. That rush, which began in the 1970s, lifted the economies of Britain, Norway and other European countries.
William B. F. Ryan, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said Russia’s Black Sea acquisition gave it what are potentially “the best” of that body’s deep oil reserves.
Oil analysts said that mounting economic sanctions could slow Russia’s exploitation of its Black and Azov Sea annexations by reducing access to Western financing and technology. But they noted that Russia had already taken over the Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company, instantly giving Russia exploratory gear on the Black Sea.
“Russia’s in a mood to behave aggressively,” said Vladimir Socor, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a research group in Washington that follows Eurasian affairs. “It’s already seized two drilling rigs.”
The global hunt for fossil fuels has increasingly gone offshore, to places like the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea. Hundreds of oil rigs dot the Caspian, a few hundred miles east of the Black Sea.
Nations divide up the world’s potentially lucrative waters according to guidelines set forth by the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty. The agreement lets coastal nations claim what are known as exclusive economic zones that can extend up to 200 nautical miles (or 230 statute miles) from their shores. Inside these zones, countries can explore, exploit, conserve and manage deep natural resources, living and nonliving.
The countries with shores along the Black Sea have long seen its floor as a potential energy source, mainly because of modest oil successes in shallow waters.
Just over two years ago, the prospects for huge payoffs soared when a giant ship drilling through deep bedrock off Romania found a large gas field in waters more than half a mile deep.
Russia moved fast.
In April 2012, Mr. Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, presided over the signing of an accord with Eni, the Italian energy giant, to explore Russia’s economic zone in the northeastern Black Sea. Dr. Ryan of Columbia estimated that the size of the zone before the Crimean annexation was roughly 26,000 square miles, about the size of Lithuania.
“I want to assure you that the Russian government will do everything to support projects of this kind,” Mr. Putin said at the signing, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
A month later, oil exploration specialists at a European petroleum conference made a lengthy presentation, the title of which asked: “Is the Black Sea the Next North Sea?” The paper cited geological studies that judged the waters off Ukraine as having “tremendous exploration potential” but saw the Russian zone as less attractive.
In August 2012, Ukraine announced an accord with an Exxon-led group to extract oil and gas from the depths of Ukraine’s Black Sea waters. The Exxon team had outbid Lukoil, a Russian company. Ukraine’s state geology bureau said development of the field would cost up to $12 billion.
“The Black Sea Hots Up,” read a 2013 headline in GEO ExPro, an industry magazine published in Britain. “Elevated levels of activity have become apparent throughout the Black Sea region,” the article said, “particularly in deepwater.
When Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine on March 18, it issued a treaty of annexation between the newly declared Republic of Crimea and the Russian Federation. Buried in the document — in Article 4, Section 3 — a single bland sentence said international law would govern the drawing of boundaries through the adjacent Black and Azov Seas.
Dr. Ryan estimates that the newly claimed maritime zone around Crimea added about 36,000 square miles to Russia’s existing holdings. The addition is more than three times the size of the Crimean landmass, and about the size of Maine.
At the time, few observers noted Russia’s annexation of Crimea in those terms. An exception was Romania, whose Black Sea zone had been adjacent to Ukraine’s before Russia stepped in.
“Romania and Russia will be neighbors,” Romania Libera, a newspaper in Bucharest, observed on March 24. The article’s headline said the new maritime border could become a “potential source of conflict.”
Many nations have challenged Russia’s seizing of Crimea and thus the legality of its Black and Azov Sea claims. But the Romanian newspaper quoted analysts as judging that the other countries bordering the Black Sea — Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania — would tacitly recognize the annexation “in order to avoid an open conflict.”
Most immediately, analysts say, Russia’s seizing may alter the route along which the South Stream pipeline would be built, saving Russia money, time and engineering challenges. The planned pipeline, meant to run through the deepest parts of the Black Sea, is to pump Russian gas to Europe.
Originally, to avoid Ukraine’s maritime zone, Russia drew the route for the costly pipeline in a circuitous jog southward through Turkey’s waters. But now it can take a far more direct path through its newly acquired Black Sea territory, if the project moves forward. The Ukraine crisis has thrown its future into doubt.
As for oil extraction in the newly claimed maritime zones, companies say their old deals with Ukraine are in limbo, and analysts say new contracts are unlikely to be signed anytime soon, given the continuing turmoil in the region and the United States’ efforts to ratchet up pressure on Russia.
“There are huge issues at stake,” noted Dr. Saivetz of M.I.T. “I can’t see them jumping into new deals right now.”
The United States is using its wherewithal to block Russian moves in the maritime zones. Last month, it imposed trade restrictions on Chernomorneftegaz, the breakaway Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company.
Eric L. Hirschhorn, the United States under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said sanctions against the Crimean business would send “a strong message” of condemnation for Russia’s “incursion into Ukraine and expropriation of Ukrainian assets.”
Alexandra Odynova contributed reporting from Moscow.

The Coming Hog Holocaust
The issue of feral hogs in the US has been bubbling under the surface for some time.
In August, self-proclaimed libertarian William McNabb became a viral sensation when he waded into the debate on gun reform by posing the question: “How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?”
Multiple news outlets – including the Guardian – raced to see how much of an issue wild hogs really are in the US.
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are about 5 million feral hogs in the US, half of which are in Texas. They cause billions in damage every year, destroying local wildlife and native habitats, and disturbing locals. However, the USDA does not recommend shooting as a method to control groups of the pigs, which can weigh between 100 and 400lb.
There have been six deaths by feral hogs reported in US history. A University of Nebraska paper from 2013 put the total number of wild hog killings in US history at four.
As the gun control debate rages in the US in the wake of a weekend of devastating mass shootings, calls for an assault weapons ban have resurfaced. While this has led many Americans to cite their second amendment rights, one man in Arkansas has asked a simple question: “How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?”
It all began when Willam McNabb, who identifies as a libertarian, waded into a debate about assault weapons (high-powered rifles were reportedly used by the gunmen in both El Paso and Dayton).
His question swiftly went viral and has inspired countless memes. But, if the image of 30-50 wild pigs roaming around a backyard seems surreal to you, it may be because you don’t live in a rural part of the American south, where large groups of feral hogs are, according to one expert the Guardian spoke to, “actually a huge problem”.
Evan Wood, an editor for Missouri Life magazine who has covered hog problems in his state, told the Guardian: “They are actually a huge problem, both on private property and public lands. They live in groups (called sounders) of up to 60 hogs. They are very harmful for farmers because when they eat, they upturn the ground to get things out.”
According to estimates from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), feral hogs cause $1.5bn in damage nationwide every year. Meanwhile, the Missouri Department of Conservation has declared feral hogs “invasive pests that need to be eliminated from Missouri” that can “destroy a crop field in a single night”.
Does this mean Americans should have access to high-powered rifles to deal with the problem, as McNabb seems to suggest?
This is supported by conservation experts. “From what we’ve seen in Missouri and in other states, we know that hunting is not effective at eliminating feral hogs,” wrote Missouri’s Department of Conservation last year. “Here in Missouri, a shoot-on-sight strategy was encouraged for over 20 years. During that time, the feral hog population continued to grow.”
The population of feral pigs has increased from 2 million pigs ranging over 20 states in 1990, to triple that number 25 years later, ranging over 38 states with new territories expanding north into Oregon, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Hampshire.
Feral pigs are becoming a wild problem in the United States.
The wild hogs can now be found in three-fourths of U.S. states — and their populations are growing in many areas — and are estimated to cause $1.5 billion in damages each year, the Associated Press reports. There are currently more than 5 million wild hogs in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
By all accounts, the animals are quite intelligent. They also sport razor-sharp tusks and can be aggressive toward people and pets. They have a remarkable knack for causing trouble, ranging from eating threatened species like dune lizards and spreading invasive weeds to carrying and transmitting more than 30 different kinds of diseases to humans, livestock and other wildlife, according to the AP.
Feral pigs’ habit of digging and rooting around in the ground also tears up gardens and crop fields, and creates holes in roads that serve as hazards for cars and tractors.
The feral pig (from Latin fera, “a wild beast”) is a pig (Sus scrofa) living in the wild, but which has descended from escaped domesticated individuals in both the Old and New Worlds. Razorback and wild hog are American colloquialisms, loosely applied to any type of feral domestic pig, wild boar, or hybrid in North America; pure wild boar are sometimes called “Russian boar” or “Russian razorbacks”. The term “razorback” has also appeared in Australia, to describe feral pigs there.
Feral pigs are a growing problem on the southern prairies in Canada and in the United States. As of 2013, the estimated population of 6 million feral pigs causes billions of dollars in property and agricultural damage every year in the United States, both in wild and agricultural lands. Their ecological damage maybe equally problematic with 26% lower vertebrate species richness in forest fragments they have invaded Because pigs forage by rooting for their food under the ground with their snouts and tusks, a sounder (group) of feral pigs can damage acres of planted fields in just a few nights. Because of the feral pig’s omnivorous nature, it is a danger to both plants and animals endemic to the area it is invading. Game animals such as deer and turkeys, and more specifically, flora such as the Opuntia plant have been especially affected by the feral hog’s aggressive competition for resources. Feral pigs have been determined to be potential hosts for at least 34 pathogens that can be transmitted to livestock, wildlife, and humans. For commercial pig farmers, great concern exists that some of the hogs could be a vector for swine fever to return to the U.S., which has been extinct in America since 1978. Feral pigs could also present an immediate threat to “nonbiosecure” domestic pig facilities because of their likeliness to harbor and spread pathogens, particularly the protozoan Sarcocystis.
By the early 2000s, the range of feral pigs included all of the US south of 36° north. The range begins in the mountains surrounding California and crosses over the mountains, continuing consistently much farther east towards the Louisiana bayous and forests, terminating in the entire Florida peninsula.
In the East, the range expands northward to include most of the forested areas and swamps of the Southeast, and from there goes north along the Appalachian Mountains as far as upstate New York, with a growing presence in states bordering West Virginia and Kentucky.
Texas has the largest estimated population of 2.6 million feral pigs existing in 253 of its 254 counties. Outside mainland US, Hawaii also has feral pigs introduced to Oahu soon after Captain Cook’s discovery of Hawaii in 1778, where they prey on or eat endangered birds and plants.
The population of feral pigs has increased from 2 million pigs ranging over 20 states in 1990, to triple that number 25 years later, ranging over 38 states with new territories expanding north into Oregon, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New Hampshire. Some of these feral pigs have mixed with escaped Russian boars that have been introduced for hunters since the early 1990s.
Because feral pigs are omnivorous, their feeding behaviour disrupts the entire food chain. Plants have difficulties regenerating from their wallowing, as North American flora did not evolve to withstand the destruction caused by rooting pigs, unlike Europe or Asia.
Feral pigs in the US eat small animals such as wild turkey poults, toads, tortoises, and the eggs of reptiles and birds. This can deprive other wildlife that normally would feed upon these important food sources. In some case, other wildlife are out-competed by the feral pigs’ higher reproductive rate; a sow can become pregnant as early as six months old and give birth to multiple litters of piglets yearly. In the autumn, other animals such as the American black bear compete directly with feral pigs as both forage for tree mast (the fruit of forest trees). These are likely reasons that they reduce diversity when they invade.
In the US, the problems caused by feral pigs are exacerbated by the small number of species which prey on them. Predators such as bobcats and coyotes may occasionally take feral piglets or weakened animals, but are not large enough to challenge a full-grown boar that can grow to three times their weight.
In Florida, feral pigs made up a significant portion of the Florida panther’s diet. Other potential predators include the gray wolf, red wolf, cougar, jaguar, American alligator, American black bear, and grizzly bear.
Unfortunately, each keystone predator presents problems: the jaguar is extirpated from California and the Southwest.
The grizzly bear, while native to most of the American West, is gone from the states that have large feral pig populations, namely Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico; and the species also has a very slow reproductive rate.
Wolf numbers are small and expected to remain so as they slowly repopulate their range; only a few individuals thus far have been recorded as inhabiting California, in spite of thousands of square miles of good habitat.
The cougar is present in most of the West, but is gone from the East, with no known populations east of Minnesota in the north, and very thin numbers east of Houston in the South.
The American black bear is both predator and competitor, but in most areas probably may not impact feral pig populations enough to control them. Programs do exist to protect the weakened numbers of large predators in the US, but it is expected to take a very long time for these animals to naturally repopulate their former habitat.
No single management technique alone can be totally effective at controlling feral pig populations. Harvesting 66% of the total population per year is required to keep the Texas feral pig populations stable. Best management practices suggest the use of corral traps which have the ability to capture the entire sounder of feral pigs.
The federal government spends $20 million on feral pig management.
If, as predicted, feral pigs are hunted, trapped, and exterminated by government-trained wolves, cougers, bears and famers, won’t supporters of feral pigs, not to mention relatives and friends, rise up and fight this new holocaust?
Will monuments and statues be erectd to the porcine victims? Could there be new law issued against porcine holocausts? Would we see such publications as ‘The Diary of Lucy the Porker?’
That there are some who would see this subject as worthy of attention, and a profit, is without doubt and although feral pigs no longer raped crops and devoured pet cats, small children and turtles, the memory would linger on.

The Season of Evil
by Gregory Douglas

This is in essence a work of fiction, but the usual disclaimers notwithstanding, many of the horrific incidents related herein are based entirely on factual occurrences.
None of the characters or the events in this telling are invented and at the same time, none are real. And certainly, none of the participants could be considered by any stretch of the imagination to be either noble, self-sacrificing, honest, pure of motive or in any way socially acceptable to anything other than a hungry crocodile, a professional politician or a tax collector.
In fact, the main characters are complex, very often unpleasant, destructive and occasionally, very entertaining.
To those who would say that the majority of humanity has nothing in common with the characters depicted herein, the response is that mirrors only depict the ugly, evil and deformed things that peer into them
There are no heroes here, only different shapes and degrees of villains and if there is a moral to this tale it might well be found in a sentence by Jonathan Swift, a brilliant and misanthropic Irish cleric who wrote in his ‘Gulliver’s Travels,”
“I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be the most odious race of little pernicious vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.”
Swift was often unkind in his observations but certainly not inaccurate.

Frienze, Italy
July 2018-August 2019

Chapter 11

The next day, they arose early and shuffled down to the motel’s parking garage with their very heavy boxes. As they pulled out of the parking lot, they passed long lines of cars filled with people heading for the beach. It was another hot day and the beginning of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
They took Highway One up the coast because it was the most direct route to San Francisco but it was certainly not the quickest. It was only eight in the morning and already there were clots of cars, vans and motorcycles at all of the small, inhospitable beaches along their route.
The traffic in San Francisco was no worse than usual. Idiots with low foreheads ran stoplights, only occasionally smashing into cross traffic or knocking chronic jaywalkers into illegally parked cars. To Chuck, the City always reminded him of a view of Hell as painted by Bosch but since Lars had never heard of the artist, a simile would have been wasted.
They parked in a small lot just behind a jewelry store off of Grant Avenue, San Francisco’s Chinatown, and with no attempt at concealment whatsoever, hauled their boxes towards a dingy shop with a faded sign and flyblown window.
The ‘Canton Jade and Ivory Emporium’ was run by Mr. Thomas Lew, a thin, elderly gentleman who had been called the previous evening by one of his better sources of supply.
The door, controlled from inside with an electronic lock, clicked open and the pair staggered inside.
“Mr. Lew!” Chuck exclaimed with genuine pleasure.
“Mr. Chuck!” the proprietor responded with equal pleasure.
The owner looked at Lars.
“Is he OK?”
“Yes, he’s with me. He’s OK. Do you think I’d bring someone here who wasn’t?”
Lars looked around the small shop with its dusty cases and a picture of a very well constructed and thoroughly nude Chinese woman on a calendar hung up over the old man’s chair behind the table.
He was admiring her pert nipples while Chuck was opening the contents of the top box.
“Now when I got these things, Mr. Lew, I thought of you at once. I said to myself, ‘Mr. Lew would really like to have these things. Mr. Lew is such a generous businessman and he has such good taste in really superior merchandise.'”
The owner looked at him and smiled.
“Such bullshit! Shall we do business? We have missed you here….oh, such lovely pieces!” he exclaimed, his usual reserve melted by the glittering display.
And they discussed each watch, bracelet, ring and necklace in great detail while Lars finally sat down on a rickety old chair and went to sleep.
When he woke up, it was to the sound of an argument.
“But Mr. Chuck, you want too much money! I never pay that kind of money and you know it! Why aren’t you more reasonable with your old friend?”
Chuck shrugged and picked up the thick sheaf of computer printouts.
“This, my old friend and mentor, is why I want a reasonable amount of money from you. These papers,” he thumped on their mass, ” are the only records and so the pieces you have piled up all over the place are perfectly safe to sell, hence a bigger profit for you and for me as well.”
Mr. Lew looked at the printouts again.
“I have done business with you for years and you have always been honest with me. These are exceptional pieces but the price you want is too high. Knock off twenty percent and you can have it.”
“Knock off ten percent and it’s a deal.”
“You marked it up anyway. All right, it’s a deal.”
And for the next ten minutes, the golden hoard was stuffed into two large safes in the back of the shop.
“Where are you going to put all that cash?” Mr. Lew asked as Chuck was stuffing his pockets.
“In my pockets, oh ancient one, in my pockets.” Chuck said in passable Cantonese.
When he was younger, he had lived in Chinatown for three years and also knew some Mandarin.
“Here,” the old man said, offering him a folded canvas bag, “try putting it in this body bag. It might make you look a little fat but it is far safer. I wouldn’t want you robbed here on the street but I regret that there is a lawless element here in our little community. And you can go out the back door if you want. People see you coming in here with many boxes and leaving without them will assume you have sold me things and have money. Please, you don’t need to return it to me.”
There was much formal courtesy and the pair went out the back door and into the heat of the day, Chuck much fatter and both much richer.
In the car, Chuck looked at his cheap watch. A good Rolex was locked up in the glove compartment into which he placed his pistol.
“Well, where do you want to go now, my friend?”
“The video shops, Chuck! The video shops! You promised me…”
“Of course I did and so we will. Jesus, I feel weird with this money wrapped around me. If the cops ever searched me, it would be all over. They would steal every penny of it and probably shoot me while escaping. This is a pretty town, Lars, but it has a long record of police brutality and corruption so we had best be very careful, get your lust objects and get back to Santa Cruz before it gets dark.”
Lars had never seen such wonderful objects before and the owner of the video emporium realized that he had a live one on the line.
With the front door locked and the CLOSED sign in place, he hauled out boxes of tapes that would have gotten him a long-term cell in San Quentin State Prison across the Bay or even the Federal Prison down in Lompoc.
He let a quivering Lars preview each tape and when he had finished viewing, Lars had to sit on the floor to recover.
He bought almost the entire selection of forbidden material for cash and the owner immediately decided to close for the day and take Mr. Quackers, his pet duck, down to Ocean Beach for an outing.
Chuck had to help him carry the big box back to the car, which was parked in a lot two blocks away. Strange people, mumbling to themselves, transvestites, prostitutes, tourists and speeding bicycle messengers passed them, paying no attention to Lars with his sweating face and glazed expression or Chuck with his bulging midsection that was so out of proportion to the rest of his lean body.
“That,” Chuck said as they headed for the freeway, “was quite an experience, Lars. What do you think of Frisco?”
Lars had been staring out the window at all the strange people. Los Angeles had its share of street freaks but San Francisco put it to shame.
“It’s an interesting place, Chuck, but I don’t think I’d like to live here. Look! There’s some black guy in women’s clothes beating up an old lady.”
“How do you know it’s a man?” he said, avoiding a staggering drunk who had just bounced off the graffiti-emblazoned city bus in front of him.
“Women don’t have legs like that and besides, she knocked his wig off with her baseball bat.”
“Oh, I see. Who’s winning?”
Lars craned to see behind him.
“I think she is. He’s lying in the street and she’s whaling on his head with the bat.”
“Scratch one up for the old lady. If she keeps hitting him on the head, she might get him angry.”


This is also an e-book, available from Amazon:

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