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TBR News September 12, 2018

Sep 12 2018

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

Washington, D.C. September 12, 2018: “It is permissible in Washington to delude others but fatal to delude oneself. Although the alphabet agencies are laboring under the mistaken belief that their communications are very secret and private, in truth nothing committed to the internet system is secret if one know the methodology of penetration. And a number do. The  so-called ‘deep internet’ is one method of disbursing gleaned information that is nearly impossible for governmental sluths to penetrate and there are other methods that one does not discuss, especially on the Internet. The American spy network is like an ant farm where every move can be seen by others. This is self-delusion personified.”

The Table of Contents

  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 21
  • New polls show slump in Donald Trump’s approval rating
  • As Trump embraces more tariffs, U.S. business readies public fight
  • ‘They were laughing at us’: immigrants tell of cruelty, illness, and filth in US detention
  • Target Syria
  • Catalog of a collection of microfilmed official files now on the market
  • FBI and Blackhawk choppers: National Solar Observatory shuts over mysterious ‘security issue’
  • Hurricane Florence: ‘Life-threatening monster’ forces mass evacuation
  • Will extreme weather become even deadlier?

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: No. 21 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

 

 

  • Jul 16, 2017

“The ABC/Washington Post Poll, even though almost 40% is not bad at this time, was just about the most inaccurate poll around election time!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: The ABC/Washington Post poll was not one of the most inaccurate election polls; in fact, it did not miss by much. The final pre-election poll had Hillary Clinton winning the national popular vote by four percentage points; she actually won it by two. (Also, it’s worth noting that the new poll Trump said put him at “almost 40 per cent” actually had him at 36 per cent.)

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

 

“Hillary Clinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Clinton did not “illegally” receive the questions to “the Debate.” Democratic National Committee official and CNN contributor Donna Brazile tipped off the Clinton campaign to two questions likely to be asked during a town hall and a debate during the Democratic primary. This was not against the law, though it was widely considered improper.

 

  • Jul 17, 2017

“We’ve signed more bills — and I’m talking about through the legislature — than any president ever. For a while, Harry Truman had us, and now I think we have everybody, Mike (Pence). I better say ‘think,’ otherwise they’ll give me a Pinocchio, and I don’t like those — I don’t like Pinocchios.”

Source: Speech at Made in America showcase event

in fact: Saying “I think” after a false statement will not protect Trump from the “Pinocchios” of the Washington Post’s fact-checkers. Trump is not even close to the presidential record for bills signed at the six-month mark. The New York Times found that Jimmy Carter signed 70 bills, Bill Clinton 50. Trump was at 42 the week he spoke — and “about half were minor and inconsequential.”

Trump has repeated this claim 19 times

 

“My administration is removing the burdens and regulations on your companies so that you can compete, thrive, and grow. How many of you have noticed this so far? Because it’s a big, big difference, right? That’s a big, big difference. The people are coming up to me — they can’t even believe it. We took the farmer’s land away. We took the homebuilder’s land away. They have their land back now, and they’re building homes and they’re farming their farms, and it’s a beautiful thing to see.”

Source: Speech at Made in America showcase event

in fact: This is simple nonsense. With the exception of some scattered eminent domain cases, previous presidents did not take the land of farmers and homebuilders.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

 

“But I will tell you, if you look at Michigan, if you look at some states that have really moved — you know, in Pennsylvania, two weeks ago they opened the mine — the first mine that was opened in decades. Opened a mine.”

Source: Speech at Made in America showcase event

in fact: This was not even the first coal mine to be opened in the last year, let alone the first mine of any kind to be opened in a decade. A coal mine just opened in West Virginia in December.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

 

“And you know all the people that were saying the mining jobs? Well, we picked up 45,000 mining jobs in a very short period of time. And everybody was saying, well, you won’t get any mining jobs. We picked up 45,000 mining jobs, and the miners are very happy with Trump and with Pence.”

Source: Speech at Made in America showcase event

in fact: U.S. government statistics show that 42,000 jobs in the “mining and logging” category were added from the beginning of the year through June (including the month of January, most of which belonged to Obama). But if you look solely at mining jobs in particular, excluding the oil and gas sector, merely 1,000 jobs were added.

 

  • Jul 18, 2017

“As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: Trump has not “always” said he wanted to let Obamacare fail. Though he has long suggested that this could be a fallback option, he has argued since the campaign that Obamacare should be quickly repealed and replaced. In fact, within two days of issuing this tweet, he returned to urging senators to vote for a repeal-and-replace bill.

 

“And, by the way, Obamacare isn’t failing — it’s failed. Done.”

Source: Remarks at lunch with soldiers

in fact: We allow Trump rhetorical license to call Obamacare “collapsing” and even “exploding,” though experts say neither is true. But it is plainly false to say the law is “done.” While its marketplaces have problems, they are still functioning and providing insurance to millions; so is its Medicaid expansion.

Trump has repeated this claim 33 times

 

“Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is ‘sick.’ All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!”

Source: Twitter

in fact: As the Washington Post noted, “The president distorted what news outlets, including The Washington Post, had reported.” Outlets did not report a “secret dinner,” but rather “an undisclosed meeting with Putin at a dinner of the G-20 leaders and their spouses.” Trump is also false to say that the media knew about the meeting at the time. Nobody told reporters about it until the administration confirmed reports about it a week and a half later.

 

  • Jul 19, 2017

“She (Hillary Clinton) did the uranium deal, which is a horrible thing, while she was secretary of state, and got a lot of money.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: It is a severe stretch to say Clinton “did the uranium deal.” The State Department was one of nine government entities that endorsed the Russian purchase of a company called Uranium One, which was ultimately approved by President Barack Obama. There is no evidence even that Clinton was involved in the discussions at all. Further, there is no evidence Clinton received any money for it: investors in the deal made substantial donations to the Clinton Foundation, but “at least two years before the deal,” PolitiFact reports.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

 

“So, he (James Comey) illegally leaked…So think of this. Mike. He illegally leaks, and everyone thinks it is illegal, and by the way, it looks like it’s classified and all that stuff. ”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: There is no evidence that any of the information provided to the media by former FBI director James Comey, via a friend he used as an intermediary, was classified, or that Comey did anything illegal; the memo leaked to the New York Times merely offered Comey’s own recollections of an encounter with the president. At very least, it is false that “everyone thinks it is illegal”: the friend to whom Comey gave some of his memos said they did not include anything marked classified, and numerous legal experts have said there is no reason to think Comey broke the law.

 

“The Paris Accord — I wasn’t going to get along with France for a little while, because people forget, because it is a very unfair agreement to us. China doesn’t get (garbled) until 2030. Russia goes back to 1994 as a standard — a much, much lower standard. India has things that are (garbled). I want to do the same thing as everyone else. We can’t do that? We can’t do that? That’s O.K. Let me get out.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: The Paris accord does not impose different emissions-reductions standards on different countries. If Trump wanted to “do the same thing as everyone else” and make U.S. goals less ambitious, he would have been able to do that.

Trump has repeated this claim 3 times

 

“We have a director of the FBI, acting, who received $700,000, whose wife received $700,000 from, essentially, Hillary Clinton. ‘Cause it was through Terry. Which is Hillary Clinton.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: It is unfair to say that these political donations came “from, essentially, Hillary Clinton”; there is no evidence she was even aware of them. The context: Jill McCabe, the wife of the FBI’s Andrew McCabe, was running for Virginia’s state Senate in 2015; her campaign received nearly $700,000 from political allies of a Clinton friend, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who said he was simply trying to get Democrats elected to his state’s legislature.

Trump has repeated this claim 7 times

 

“So, I was seated next to the wife of Prime Minister Abe (Shinzo Abe of Japan), who I think is a terrific guy, and she’s a terrific woman, but doesn’t speak English…Like, not ‘hello.'”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: It is not clear what Akie Abe conveyed to Trump at the dinner, but she certainly speaks English well enough to have said hello to him: she delivered a speech in English in 2014.

 

“So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: While Rosenstein served as a U.S. attorney in Maryland, he is from Pennsylvania.

 

“So pre-existing conditions are a tough deal. Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, ‘I want my insurance.'”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: It is entirely unclear what Trump is talking about here, but this is not how health insurance works. Trump may possibly have been confusing it with a type of life insurance.

 

“I’ve given the farmers back their farms. I’ve given the builders back their land to build houses and to build other things.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: This is simple nonsense. With the exception of some scattered eminent domain cases, previous presidents did not take the land of farmers and homebuilders.

Trump has repeated this claim 4 times

 

“I meant, for the time in office, five months and couple of weeks, I think I’ve done more than anyone else. They may have taken it as more than anyone else, period. But I’m talking about for my time. I heard that Harry Truman was first, and then we beat him. These are approved by Congress. These are not just executive orders.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: Trump is not even close to the presidential record for congressional bills signed at the six-month mark. (Trump was speaking a day before the six-month anniversary of his inauguration, not “five months and a couple weeks” in.) The New York Times found that Jimmy Carter signed 70 bills, Bill Clinton 50. Trump was at 42 early in the week — and “about half were minor and inconsequential.”

Trump has repeated this claim 19 times

 

“So I asked the president, so what about Napoleon? He said: ‘No, no, no. What he did was incredible. He designed Paris.'”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: It is not clear what French President Emmanuel Macron told Trump, but Napoleon did not design Paris. Though Napoleon did have some design plans for Paris, historian Sutherland says, it was his nephew, Napoleon III, who transformed the city.

 

“And his (Napoleon’s) one problem is he didn’t go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: Experts on Napoleon do not know what Trump is talking about with regard to Napoleon’s supposed extracurriculars. “Mystery to me too on Russia,” Donald Sutherland, a historian of France at the University of Maryland, said in an email.

 

“I mean, that was very much more than normal. They must have had 200 planes over our heads. Normally you have the planes and that’s it, like the Super Bowl parade.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: ABC and other outlets reported that 63 French planes took part in the Bastille Day festivities. Super Bowl victory parades do not involve military flyovers.

 

“We had dinner at the Eiffel Tower, and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower looked like they could have never had a bigger celebration ever in the history of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, there were thousands and thousands of people, ’cause they heard we were having dinner.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: This is a severe exaggeration. HuffPost, which was on scene that evening, published a video that showed a sparse crowd of dozens of people, perhaps hundreds at most.

 

“I was talking about, she (Hillary Clinton) deleted and bleached, which nobody does because of the cost. How she got away with that one, I have no idea. 33,000 emails.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: Clinton’s team deleted emails using a program called BleachBit. It is free to download. It is not literal bleaching.

Trump has repeated this claim 5 times

 

“So I go to Poland and make a speech. Enemies of mine in the media, enemies of mine are saying it was the greatest speech ever made on foreign soil by a president.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: This is an exaggeration. Trump’s speech did receive praise from some of his regular critics, but they did not say it was the best foreign speech ever made by a president. Conservative pundit Bill Kristol, for example, called it “appropriate, even eloquent.”

 

“This health-care is a tough deal. I said it from the beginning.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: Trump did not say from the beginning that health-care reform was tough. Far from it: he declared in October that it would be “so easy.”

 

“But the FBI person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting.”

Source: Interview with the New York Times

in fact: The FBI director does not report directly to the president. He reports to the attorney general.

 

“Your premiums will be down 60 and 70 per cent. People don’t know that.”

Source: Speech at meeting of voter fraud commission

in fact: No expert believes the Republican health bill would reduce premiums that much. According to an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, premiums for some peolpe buying insurance through Obamacare would be down 30 per cent in 2020. Trump correctly cited this statistic in his weekly address.

 

“This issue is very important to me because, throughout the campaign and even after it, people would come up to me and express their concerns about voter inconsistencies and irregularities, which they saw. In some cases, having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states. ”

Source: Speech at meeting of voter fraud commission

in fact: There were no visible voting irregularities involving “very large number of people in certain states.” We can’t know for sure what people came up to Trump and said, but Trump is inaccurate when he flatly asserts that large-scale irregularities were seen by anybody.

 

New polls show slump in Donald Trump’s approval rating

Polls from CNN and Quinnipiac represent disappointing news for president – but better outlook on ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ economy

September 10, 2018

by Tom McCarthy in New York

The Guardian

Donald Trump’s approval rating has been remarkably consistent over the first 20 months of his presidency, moving between about 37% and 42%, according to polling averages maintained by FiveThirtyEight. That’s bad – likely about 10 points short of what he needs to be re-elected.

But new polls indicate Trump may currently be settling into an approval trough. A CNN/SSRS poll published Monday measured Trump’s approval rating at 36%, down from 42% in August in the same poll. A Quinnipiac poll measured Trump’s approval at 38%, down from 41% a month prior.

“I count… Eight… Count ‘em, eight, live interview polls finished in the last 2 weeks…” tweeted polling analyst Harry Enten of CNN. “Each one has Trump’s approval dropping from the last poll.”

There are outlier polls that tell a different story, such as a new survey by Rasmussen Reports that measured Trump with a 48% approval rating. Rasmussen results tend towards Republicans, according to FiveThirtyEight analysis.

On the bright side for Trump, 70% of voters told Quinnipiac they think the nation’s economy is “excellent” or “good.”

Pollsters can be wrong: while national polls in the 2016 election exceeded historical standards for accuracy, there were some significant misses at the state level, and those misses continue to happen.

Even with the most recent bad polling numbers, Trump’s average approval rating sits at 40.0%, right in his sweet spot.

The two lowest dips in Trump’s approval so far came after his handling of racially motivated violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and after the guilty plea of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

There might be a correlation between guilty pleas by former Trump aides and slumps in the president’s popularity. Three weeks ago former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort respectively pleaded guilty to and were convicted of multiple fraud charges.

More recently, the Trump administration has been racked by insider reports of a White House in turmoil. A senior Trump appointee published an anonymous editorial in the New York Times last week saying that top administration officials are working around the president for the good of the country, and journalist Bob Woodward further documented that behavior in a new book, Fear.

“American voters believe those tales of intrigue coming from the Trump White House, but they think it’s wrong to tell those tales anonymously,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a press release.

A 55% majority of US voters think special counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a fair investigation, according to the Quinnipiac poll. Only 32% said they thought the president is honest.

The only other president to fall short of 50% approval so early in his presidency was Bill Clinton, who notched 44% approval in 1993 before winning re-election.

 

As Trump embraces more tariffs, U.S. business readies public fight

September 12, 2018

by Ginger Gibson

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – After months of waging a behind-the-scenes war against President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs that have escalated far beyond what business groups once imagined, more than 60 U.S. industry groups are launching a coalition on Wednesday to take the fight public.

Emergence of the group, Americans for Free Trade, comes after Trump has warmed to the use of tariffs, implementing billions of dollars worth in an effort to use them as a threat to win concessions or in the belief they will create U.S. jobs.

“A lot of other interest groups thought they wouldn’t go this long or go this deep, but the layering effect (of tariffs) has finally gotten everyone to say: ‘Enough is enough,’” said Nicole Vasilaros, the top lobbyist for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, whose members are weighing laying off workers after seeing costs rise as much as 35 percent.

Trump has imposed 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, mostly industrial machinery and intermediate electronics parts such as semiconductors.

A pending $200 billion list would extend further into consumer goods, and the threat of an additional $267 billion would basically cover every Chinese export to the United States. China has threatened retaliation, which could include action against U.S. companies operating there.

Washington has demanded that Beijing better protect American intellectual property, cut its U.S. trade surplus, allow U.S. companies greater access to its markets and roll back its high-technology industrial subsidy programs.

The business coalition includes groups representing some of the nation’s largest companies. Among them, the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the largest refiners like Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) and Chevron Corp (CVX.N), and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents companies like Target Corp (TGT.N) and Autozone Inc (AZO.N).

“There has been a lot of work that has been going on over the last eight months to try to persuade the president and the administration that tariffs are not going to work. Our view is that it’s not too late,” said Dean Garfield, chief executive of the Information Technology Industry Council, whose members include Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Google owner Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

While Trump threatened tariffs on the campaign trail and ended America’s participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership, a large multinational trade pact, few observers took his threat seriously.

Trump has since demonstrated he is serious on tariffs, ramping up the attacks on China, threatening car import levies and pushing for a more pro-American North American Free Trade Agreement, even at the risk of killing the three-country pact.

RETAIL LEAD

The coalition grew out of weekly meetings featuring industries organized by the National Retail Federation (NRF), whose members include Amazon.com (AMZN.O), Macy’s Inc (M.N) and Walmart Inc (WMT.N).

“This is almost every sector of the American economy involved,” said David French, the top lobbyist for the NRF.

The group will target Republican members of Congress in five states – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee. While not engaging in electioneering ahead of Nov. 6 elections where control of Congress is at stake, it will urge constituents to discuss the trade issue with lawmakers. The group plans to expand that effort to a dozen states by the end of the year.

Members of Congress have failed to slow Trump’s protectionist march and few have been willing to speak publicly for fear of arousing the ire of Trump and the Republican base.

The coalition hopes to push Republican lawmakers to press Trump to abandon tariffs by convincing him that his trade policy could undo his tax and deregulation push.

“The sugar high of the lower taxes and the reduced rules that have fueled the stock market since the president was elected are in jeopardy,” said Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Technology Association, whose members include IBM Corp (IBM.N) and Facebook Inc (FB.O) He warned that some of his members were considering layoffs.

Steve Pasierb, head of the Toy Association, whose members include Mattel Inc (MAT.O), Hasbro Inc (HAS.O) and Barnes & Noble Inc (BKS.N) said members of Congress were slow to be persuaded they needed to be concerned.

“It’s been this kind of slow build that got worse and worse and worse. I don’t think anybody in D.C. saw this coming.”

Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Peter Cooney

 

‘They were laughing at us’: immigrants tell of cruelty, illness, and filth in US detention

After harrowing journeys to the US, new arrivals are held in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, dozens of interviews reveal

September 12, 2018

by Andrew Gumbel in McAllen, Texas

The Guardian

All day and night they listened to the wailing of hungry children.

Here, in a freezing immigration detention facility somewhere in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas, adults and children alike were fainting from dehydration and lack of food.

Sleep was almost impossible; the lights were left on, they had just a thin metallic sheet to protect against the cold and there was nothing to sleep on but the hard floor.

This is the account of Rafael and Kimberly Martinez, who, with their three-year-old daughter, had made the dangerous trek from their home on the Caribbean coast of Honduras to the US border to ask for political asylum.

“The conditions were horrible, everything was filthy and there was no air circulating,” Kimberly Martinez told the Guardian of the five days the family spent cooped up in one facility they – like tens of thousands before them – referred to as “la hielera”: the icebox. Her husband added: “It’s as though they wanted to drain every positive feeling out of us.”

They knew, from following the news, that their ordeal of escaping gang violence back home and trekking across desert terrain at the height of summer would not end when they reached the United States.

What they did not expect, though, were days of hunger, separation and verbal abuse that they said they endured at the hands of federal immigration officials.

‘Caged up like animals’

All they were given to eat, they said, were half-frozen bologna sandwiches, served at 10 in the morning, five in the afternoon and two in the morning, and single sugar cookies for their daughter. What water they were given had a strong chlorine taste – a common complaint – and upset their stomachs.

The Martinezes (not their real name) were among dozens of asylum-seekers the Guardian interviewed in the border city of McAllen recently after they secured their provisional release from federal custody – with black electronic monitors fastened tightly around their ankles – and just before they continued their journeys by bus to the homes of US-based sponsors to await court hearings on their statuses.

The Guardian sat in with a team of volunteer doctors and nurses administering emergency medical care and listened as family after family gave jarringly consistent accounts of what they described as grim conditions in a variety of border detention facilities – conditions that have grown only grimmer since the advent of Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies.

Officials said the allegations made by families about their experiences in detention did not equate with what they knew to be common practice and they insisted detainees were treated with dignity and respect.

The “hieleras”, or iceboxes, asylum-seekers said, were overcrowded, unhygienic, and prone to outbreaks of vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory infections and other communicable diseases. Many complained about the cruelty of guards, who they said would yell at children, taunt detainees with promises of food that never materialized, and kick people who did not wake up when they were expected to.

At regular intervals, day and night, the Martinezes, and many others, said guards would come banging on the walls and doors and demand that they present themselves for roll call.

If they talked too loudly, or if children were crying, the guards would threaten to turn the air temperature down further. When the Martinezes gathered with fellow detainees to sing hymns and lift their spirits a little, the guards would taunt them, or ask aggressively: “Why did you bother coming here? Why didn’t you stay in your country?”

“Many of these agents were Latinos, like us, but they were people without morals,” Rafael Martinez said his voice choking with tears. “There we were, caged up like animals, and they were laughing at us.”

More jaundiced by the day

When three-year-old Jenny Martinez came down with a bad case of the flu, she and her mother were taken to a hospital where, they said, they were left waiting for hours with nowhere to sit or lie down, and no blankets, before receiving medication. Back in the detention facility, they were put in isolation and even Rafael was denied access to them.

Kimberly noticed that her daughter, like many of the detainees, was growing more jaundiced by the day for lack of vitamins or fresh air or sunshine. The toilets were filthy – with no seat covers and no toilet paper – and Kimberly observed that staff members did not throw out the crinkly blankets when detainees were moved or released; they simply passed them along to new arrivals.

Officials at various agencies often question the reliability of such accounts and say they cannot respond to individual cases without knowing more about the specifics than the immigrants and their lawyers, if they have them, are generally able or willing to disclose.

The Guardian collected the testimony of dozens of people – many interviewed directly, and others whose accounts were recorded by members of the medical team – and found broad corroboration of the types of conditions described by the Martinezes from half a dozen people or more for each of the types of tough treatment mentioned.

Not all facilities were equally bad. Many of the families said their worst experiences were at facilities where they were first housed and processed after being apprehended. It was not clear from their descriptions – and from conversations with federal officials – if these “hieleras” were border patrol outposts or Ice (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention centers.

Most of the families were subsequently transferred to a building they called “la perrera” – literally, the dog pound – that appeared to correspond to the border patrol’s central processing center in McAllen, a low-slung industrial warehouse that is the largest facility of its kind in the American south-west, where they said the temperatures were warmer, the staff was kinder, they had burritos and apples instead of frozen sandwiches, and they were at last allowed to shower.

Fleeing gang violence

The numbers of migrants landing in federal detention have been relentless since the advent of “zero tolerance” in April, as families continue to flee gang violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala in particular.

Staff at a Catholic Charities respite center in McAllen, where released detainees are offered food, showers, fresh clothing and medical attention before they continue on their travels, said they had expected to see the numbers drop from a high of about 300 people per day in May and June – the period when parents and children were being separated as a matter of policy – to about 60 or 80, but instead they were still seeing close to 200 people being dropped at a nearby bus station each afternoon.

Many migrants arrive in the United States already weak from their journeys and traumatized by violence at home.

What awaits them in immigration detention facilities, though, according to civil rights lawyers and doctors who have examined them, only retraumatizes them and raises disturbing questions about the US government’s willingness to adhere to its own guidelines and to a flurry of court orders that have, over the past two years, mandated more humane treatment of those in its care.

Facilities like the McAllen processing center were not designed to hold detainees overnight, and they have not been adapted as the demands placed on them have ballooned over the past decade. A series of memoranda and guidelines going back to 2008 and updated in 2015 say that detainees should not be held more than 72 hours and should have access to toilets, toiletries, potable drinking water and medical care.

Most of the interviewees in McAllen reported being held between three and seven days. Some accounts – provided first-hand by one former detainee and secondhand by a number of others – indicated that some people are held for 10 days or more.

They were not given mats to sleep on, or toothbrushes or toothpaste, despite a 2016 federal court order mandating these basic amenities.

Many – particularly men – said they had not even received blankets. New litigation filed this summer, based on accounts similar to those collected by the Guardian, has prompted a federal judge in California to order the appointment of a retired immigration judge to investigate conditions in detention centers with a view to mandating further changes.

‘It’s difficult to know who is doing what’

Many of the complaints about immigrant detention centers predate the Trump administration.

The advent of “zero tolerance” has, however, greatly increased pressure on the system, forcing federal officials to improvise solutions, and triggered an unusually large flurry of fresh litigation. Federal officials uncomfortable at the reports of mistreatment say it is very difficult to track who is doing what, especially since immigrants making the complaints do not know where exactly they were being held, or by whom.

“We’re talking about so many people – border patrol, Ice, contractors, medical personnel – it’s difficult to know who is doing what,” one federal official told the Guardian on condition of anonymity.

Many immigration experts, meanwhile, say they see a disturbing new tendency on the part of the Trump administration to disregard the rules, including explicit court orders, and to discourage officials lower down the chain of command from sitting down with their critics and attempting to solve problems before they get to court.

Last Thursday, for example, the administration announced it would no longer abide by a 20-year-old court settlement obliging the government to release children from detention after 20 days.

“I’ve been doing work with detainees for 20 years, and the biggest change in my mind is the government’s attitude of impunity,” said Holly Cooper, a law professor at the University of California at Davis who is suing the government over the administration of psychotropic drugs to immigrant children at a juvenile detention center near Houston.

“Before, I could sit down with government officials and they would at least hear me out as I strived to push the needle toward something more humane … Now there’s a total kibosh on talking to civil rights lawyers.”

At the border, the upshot of these changes is a panoply of shocking experiences inflicted on families who, in many cases, have fled in terror from their homes and are betting their future on what is an increasingly long-shot chance at being granted asylum in the United States.

The Martinezes left Honduras after Rafael’s father, sister and brother-in-law were killed by local gangs and word went out that they were after him too. Another Central American man interviewed by the Guardian had a scar running across his face from a machete blow.

Many interviewees described a sense of humiliation as US officials ordered them to remove their belts, shoelaces and long-sleeved shirts (all considered potential suicide risks) and pushed them into overcrowded chain-link cages.

Doctors and nurses who treated the asylum seekers after their release said they saw a lot of boils and skin rashes, attributable to the lack of hygiene, and severe constipation, attributable to dehydration and poor food intake.

Almost everybody who came through the clinic attended by the Guardian, run by a San Antonio-based group of volunteer doctors, nurses and social workers called Sueños sin Fronteras (Dreams without Borders), complained of flu symptoms or respiratory problems or both. Many of the ex-detainees said they had been forced to abandon their medicines – as well as clothing and other possessions – when they were released from custody.

Stories of medical negligence have also circulated. An HIV-positive Guatemalan woman who came through in July told one of the Sueños sin Fronteras team she had had her medicines taken away as soon as she entered detention and was kept in isolation away from her young child for five days. A five-year-old Guatemalan girl with appendicitis went undiagnosed for days at the McAllen processing center – despite repeated entreaties for help from her mother – and almost died when the appendix ruptured.

A group called Immigrant Families Together told the Guardian that a four-year-old boy who arrived in the United States with a broken femur had been given only mild pain medication at the Texas detention facility where he was held and ended up undergoing orthopedic surgery after his release.

While deaths remain relatively rare, a recent Human Rights Watch report found that more immigrants had died in detention in 2017 than in any year since 2009. It deplored evidence of “subpar and dangerous practices including unreasonable delays, poor practitioner and nursing care, and botched emergency response”.

‘We treat those in our custody with dignity and respect’

The Department of Homeland Security has continued to defend its practices in response to such public reports and also in court.

A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokeswoman said she “strongly disagrees” with the allegations presented in this piece. “The alleged incidents do not equate to what we know to be common practice at our facilities. We treat those in our custody with dignity and respect,” the CBP said.

CBP questioned whether the “hieleras” – the icebox facilities referred to by the detainees – were in fact run by its sister agency Ice. But Ice, in a statement of its own, said it did not have a detention facility in McAllen and that “previous reports have shown that [the terms ‘hielera’ and ‘parrera’] are used in reference to CBP facilities”.

Target Syria

Will a new war be the October Surprise?

September 11, 2018

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

It’s official. The Syrian Army assisted by Russian air support is closing in on the last major pocket of terrorists remaining in the country in the province of Idlib near Aleppo. The United States, which has trained and armed some of the trapped gunmen and even as recently as a year ago described the province as “al-Qaeda’s largest safe haven since 9/11,” has perhaps predictably warned Syria off. The White House initially threatened a harsh reaction if the Bashar al-Assad government were to employ any chemical weapons in its final attack, setting the stage for the terrorists themselves to carry out a false flag operation blamed on Damascus that would bring with it a brutal response against the regime and its armed forces by the U.S., Britain and France.

In support of the claims relating to chemical weapons use, the Trump Administration, which is itself illegally occupying part of Syria, is as usual creating a bogus casus belli. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a news conference that “This is a tragic situation, and if they [Russia and Iran] want to continue to go the route of taking over Syria, they can do that. But they cannot do it with chemical weapons. They can’t do it assaulting their people and we’re not going to fall for it. If there are chemical weapons that are used, we know exactly who’s going to use them.” As with all Haley commentary, the appropriate response should be expressing wonderment at her ability to predict who will do something before it occurs followed by “Not quite Nikki.” She should familiarize herself with her own State Department’s travel warning on Syria which states explicitly that “tactics of ISIS, [al-Qaeda affiliate in Idlib] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and other violent extremist groups include the use of…chemical weapons.”

Setting the stage for a false flag provoked attack on a country that does not threaten the United States was bad enough, but now Washington has apparently hardened its line, indicating that any use of the Syrian Army to clear the province of rebels will “…not be tolerated. Period.” Haley again spoke out at the United Nations, saying “…an offensive against Idlib would be a reckless escalation. The regime and its backers must stop their military campaign in all its forms.” In support of its inflexible stance, the White House has been citing the presence of a large civilian population also trapped in the pocket even though there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone in Washington actually cares about Syrian civilian casualties.

And there is always Iran just waiting to get kicked around, when all else fails. Haley, always blissfully ignorant but never quiet, commented while preparing to take over the presidency of the U.N. Security Council last Friday, that Russia and Syria “want to bomb schools, hospitals, and homes” before launching into a tirade about Iran, saying that “President Trump is very adamant that we have to start making sure that Iran is falling in line with international order. If you continue to look at the spread Iran has had in supporting terrorism, if you continue to look at the ballistic missile testing that they are doing, if you continue to look at the sales of weapons we see with the Huthis in Yemen — these are all violations of security council resolution. These are all threats to the region, and these are all things that the international community needs to talk about.”

And there is the usual hypocrisy over long term objectives. President Donald Trump said in April that “it’s time” to bring American troops home from Syria -once the jihadists of Islamic State have been definitively defeated. But now that that objective is in sight, there has to be some question about who is actually determining the policies that come out of the White House, which is reported to be in more than usual disarray due to the appearance last week of the New York Times anonymous op-ed describing a “resistance” movement within the West Wing that has been deliberately undermining and sometimes ignoring the president to further Establishment/Deep State friendly policies. The op-ed, perhaps by no coincidence whatsoever, appeared one week before the release of the new book by Bob Woodward Fear: Trump in the White House, which has a similar tale to tell and came out on Amazon today.

The book and op-ed mesh nicely in describing how Donald Trump is a walking disaster who is deliberately circumvented by his staff. One section of the op-ed is particularly telling and suggestive of neocon foreign policy, describing how the White House staff has succeeded in “[calling out] countries like Russia…for meddling and [having them] punished accordingly” in spite of the president’s desire for détente. It then goes on to elaborate on Russia and Trump, describing how “…the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But the national security team knew better – such actions had to be taken to hold Moscow accountable.”

If the op-ed and Woodward book are in any way accurate, one has to ask “Whose policy? An elected president or a cabal of disgruntled staffers who might well identify as neoconservatives?” Be that as it may, the White House is desperately pushing back while at the same time searching for the traitor, which suggests to many in Washington that it will right the sinking ship prior to November elections by the time honored and approved method used by politicians worldwide, which means starting a war to rally the nation behind the government.

As North Korea is nuclear armed, the obvious targets for a new or upgraded war would be Iran and Syria. As Iran might actually fight back effectively and the Pentagon always prefers an enemy that is easy to defeat, one suspects that some kind of expansion of the current effort in Syria would be preferable. It would be desirable, one presumes, to avoid an open conflict with Russia, which would be unpredictable, but an attack on Syrian government forces that would produce a quick result which could plausibly be described as a victory would certainly be worth considering.

By all appearances, the preparation of the public for an attack on Syria is already well underway. The mainstream media has been deluged with descriptions of tyrant Bashar al-Assad, who allegedly has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people. The rhetoric coming out of the usual government sources is remarkable for its truculence, particularly when one considers that Damascus is trying to regain control over what is indisputably its own sovereign territory from groups that everyone agrees are at least in large part terrorists.

Last week, the Trump White House approved the new U.S. plan for Syria, which, unlike the old plan of withdrawal, envisions something like a permanent presence in the country. It includes a continued occupation of the country’s northeast, which is the Kurdish region; forcing Iran plus its proxies including Hezbollah to leave the country completely; and continued pressure on Damascus to bring about regime change.

Washington has also shifted its perception of who is trapped in Idlib, with newly appointed U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey arguing that “. . . they’re not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator.” Jeffrey, it should be noted, was pulled out of retirement where he was a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spin off. On his recent trip to the Middle East he stopped off in Israel nine days ago to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The change in policy, which is totally in line with Israeli demands, would suggest that Jeffrey received his instructions during the visit.

Israel is indeed upping its involvement in Syria. It has bombed the country 200 times in the past 18 months and is now threatening to extend the war by attacking Iranians in neighboring Iraq. It has also been providing arms to the terrorist groups operating inside Syria.

And Netanyahu also appears to be preparing his followers for a bit of bloodshed. In a recent ceremony, he boasted that “the weak are slaughtered” while “the strong” survive — “for good or ill.” Commentators in Israel noted that the words were very close to those used by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf in a chapter describing the historical inevitability of domination by the Aryan race. They also observed that Netanyahu, like Trump, also needs a war to free himself from his legal problems.

Taking the president, the U.N. Ambassador, the Israeli Prime Minister and the U.S. Special Representative for Syria at their words, it would appear that the Washington Establishment and its Israeli manipulators have narrowed the options for dealing with Syria and its regional supporter Iran to either war or war. Add to that the closing time window for doing something to ameliorate the Trump Administration’s panic over the impending midterm election, and it would seem that there is a certain inevitability regarding the process whereby the United States military will again be on the march in the Middle East.

 

Catalog of a collection of microfilmed official files now on the market

September 12, 2018

by Christian Jürs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1018 BH A medium file (371 pages) containing the names and governmental positions of 312 German officials currently in the pay of the CIA. Also includes prominent members of the German BND also connected directly with the CIA.

 

FBI and Blackhawk choppers: National Solar Observatory shuts over mysterious ‘security issue

September 12, 2018

RT

The mysterious and sudden closure of the National Solar Observatory in New Mexico is sending alien hunters into a frenzy as the facility remains shut without explanation.

The research institute in Sunspot was evacuated last Thursday along with a nearby United States Postal Service office for unexplained ‘security reasons.’

A spokesperson for the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) which manages the observatory said the evacuation was a precautionary measure due to a security issue. “It was our decision to evacuate the facility,” spokeswoman Shari Lifson added.

A statement made by the Otero County Sheriff, Benny House, to Alamogordo Daily News in the aftermath of the announcement has contributed to intense speculation around the incident, however. House said that they were asked to standby but given no further information.

“The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on. We’ve got people up there (at Sunspot) that requested us to standby while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why. The FBI were up there. What their purpose was nobody will say.”

The sheriff also claimed there was a Blackhawk helicopter at the site and work crews on towers and around antennas.

The mysterious circumstances of the building’s closure has fueled a frenzy of speculation online as social media users wonder if aliens could be behind the ‘cloak-and-dagger’ operation.

It’s unclear when the observatory and the post office will reopen. Postal workers have been temporarily transferred to the post office in Cloudcroft, a USPS official told ABC7.

The FBI has not responded to requests for comment on the matter, according to local media. However according to ABC7, the federal agency told Sheriff House that the evacuation order could remain in place for several days.

Sunspot is located in the Sacramento Mountains in Otero County about 15 miles south of the village Cloudcroft. There is currently a working telescope at the observatory, where New Mexico State University also conducts research.

 

Hurricane Florence: ‘Life-threatening monster’ forces mass evacuation

Officials have described Hurricane Florence as a potential “once in a lifetime” storm. North Carolina and neighboring states are preparing for days of catastrophic storm surges, winds and floods.

September 12, 2018

DW

Tens of thousands of people fled from the North and South Carolina coastline on Tuesday as Hurricane Florence churned towards the US East Coast.

The Category 4 hurricane is expected to “bring life-threatening storm surge and rainfall to portions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states,” the National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned in its update at 00:01 GMT on Wednesday.

Some 1.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia have been given voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders ahead of the storm’s expected landing on Thursday or Friday.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned that people in evacuation zones “need to get out now.”

“This is not a storm that people need to ride out,” Cooper told reporters. “This is a storm that is historic, maybe once in a lifetime.”

Officials in North and South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC have all declared states of emergency and told residents to prepare for flooding and extended power outages.

Packing winds of up to 220 km/h (140 mph) late Tuesday, Florence is expected to further strengthen through Wednesday before slightly weakening on Thursday as it nears the Carolinas.

“Florence is forecast to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through landfall,” the NHC warned, with storm surges of up to 13 feet (4 meters) inundating coastal areas.

The NHC warned that hurricane force winds may extend 65 kilometers from the center and tropical storm-force winds may reach 240 kilometers outward.

As the hurricane moves inland, 38 to 63.5 centimeters (15 to 25 inches) of rain accumulation are expected, NHC said. In some areas as much as 89 centimeters of rain may fall.

The rainfall will produce catastrophic flash flooding and river flooding.

More than 5.4 million people live in areas under hurricane warnings or watches. Another 4 million people were under a tropical storm watch.

Last year, the United States was hit by three major hurricanes. Hurricane Maria killed about 3,000 people in Puerto Rico, causing widespread criticism of the Trump administration’s response.

Hurricane Harvey killed 68 people and caused catastrophic flooding in Houston, while Hurricane Irma caused 129 storm-related deaths in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina

 

 

Will extreme weather become even deadlier?

Flooding in Japan and a heat wave in Canada have killed hundreds. With extreme weather causing unimaginable disasters, and extreme weather events on the rise, some experts believe many more could die if nothing is done.

July 12, 2018

DW

Heavy rains and widespread flooding killed nearly 200 people in western Japan; meanwhile, an unprecedented heat wave in eastern Canada killed around 70 people last week. Against this background, climate researchers are warning that casualties related to extreme weather events could increase if greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked.

Extreme weather-related events are increasing worldwide, reminds Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

“Our Earth is once again being hit by extreme weather, including extreme heat and wildfires in California, and devastating floods of rain in Japan. Based on the laws of physics, due to global warming, we must expect more frequent and worsening events,” he wrote in a statement.

Extreme weather events such as severe storms, unexpected and unpredictable floods, heat waves and unseasonable cold snaps have killed hundreds of thousands of people and injured billions more over the past 20 years, according to a joint 2015 World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations weather disaster report.

Scientists indicate that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of such extreme weather events, making it difficult for governments to prepare and respond to disasters. This is costing governments around the world billions, while taking an incalculable toll on human life.

‘Alarming numbers’

As disturbing as those numbers are, authors of 2017 study in The Lancet Planetary Health found that Europeans could die at a yet more alarming rate by the turn of the century.

According to the report, around 152,000 people in Europe could die per year directly from extreme weather hazards between 2071 and 2100 — that’s 50 times more than what was recorded between 1981 and 2010.

Using state-of-the-art methods to analyze weather disasters in recent years, and forecasting those weather patterns on projected populations, the report found that heat waves would account for 99 percent of deaths during the projected period.These estimates are really alarming, [but] our scenario is not the worst we could choose — it is the medium scenario of greenhouse gas emissions,” he told The Guardian in 2017.

Europeans face more than a 90 percent increase in risk as a result of climate change, he noted, adding that the projected changes are brought about by global warming and the increasing amount of weather-related risks such as cold fronts and heat waves.

Giovanni Forzieri, a co-author of the study from the European Commission Joint Research Centre in Italy, says those projections could be worse.

Oversimplified estimates?

Even though the frequency of high-impact weather events has increased over past decades, Clare Nullis, media officer with WMO, told DW this hasn’t necessarily correlated to an increase in the number of weather-related deaths.

“Last year was one of the most expensive on record because of economic losses related to the hurricane season. But the death toll was certainly nowhere near the levels we saw a few decades ago,” she says. “We need to be careful with the data because there are too many scenarios to consider,” she continues

Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany, told DW that the results of the study on weather-related risks to Europeans may also have been oversimplified, considering the many factors when gathering data.

“Although there are attempts to record this data, it has proven extremely difficult due to inaccuracies, underreporting and unreliable data,” he says.

Sarmad also notes that around 50 percent of lives lost in extreme weather events are due to secondary impacts such as mudslides following torrential rains, adding to the complexity of reporting.

Nevertheless, Forzieri and his team anticipated scrutiny on the figures they released.

“Notwithstanding the fact that our estimates are subject to uncertainty, they do highlight important trends. Global warming, demographic changes and urban expansion could result in rapidly rising effects of weather-related hazards on human beings in Europe,” the paper noted.

And the hazards are certainly not limited to Europe, researchers point out.

Paris Climate accord is key

Despite disagreement over exact figures, experts agree on how the world should react to offset increasing risk to human lives due to extreme weather.

“This trend can only be halted if the Paris Agreement for stabilizing our climate is rapidly and fully implemented,” Rahmstorf states.

Sarmad says the UN has worked on all levels with the 178 governments that have ratified the Paris accord, and that businesses and the private sector are also investing more time and effort into reducing greenhouse gases.

“The UN has engaged with non-party stakeholders and with governments to reduce greenhouse gases so that we can halt the worrying number of deaths related to weather disasters,” Sarmad told DW. “This shows the importance in leaving a better environment for the next generation,” he adds.

Such engagement includes better disaster preparedness, which Nullis points out as another key aspect in addressing the worrying trend.

“Climate change is certainly having a major impact on many aspects of our life, including food security, health, water management, and displacement. But better forecasts and better disaster risk reduction have helped to save lives.”

Despite a sense of ennui around increasing ambition for climate protection goals under the Paris Agreement, many governments remain committed to limiting the impacts of climate change.

In an EU climate report released late 2017, two years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the EU said it  will reduce domestic emissions at least 40 percent by 2030.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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