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NOAA’s Tornado Fraud

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | January 15, 2017

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/tornadoes/201613

According to NOAA, the number of tornadoes has been steadily growing since the 1950s, despite a drop in numbers in the last five years.

They show the above chart prominently in their Tornadoes – Annual 2016 Report.

However, they know full well that it is meaningless to compare current data with the past, as they explain themselves in the section Historical Records and Trends, which is hidden away on their own website:

One of the main difficulties with tornado records is that a tornado, or evidence of a tornado must have been observed. Unlike rainfall or temperature, which may be measured by a fixed instrument, tornadoes are short-lived and very unpredictable. If a tornado occurs in a place with few or no people, it is not likely to be documented. Many significant tornadoes may not make it into the historical record since Tornado Alley was very sparsely populated during the 20th century.

Much early work on tornado climatology in the United States was done by John Park Finley in his book Tornadoes, published in 1887. While some of Finley’s safety guidelines have since been refuted as dangerous practices, the book remains a seminal work in tornado research. The University of Oklahoma created a PDF copy of the book and made it accessible at John Finley’s Tornadoes (link is external).

Today, nearly all of the United States is reasonably well populated, or at least covered by NOAA’s Doppler weather radars. Even if a tornado is not actually observed, modern damage assessments by National Weather Service personnel can discern if a tornado caused the damage, and if so, how strong the tornado may have been. This disparity between tornado records of the past and current records contributes a great deal of uncertainty regarding questions about the long-term behavior or patterns of tornado occurrence. Improved tornado observation practices have led to an increase in the number of reported weaker tornadoes, and in recent years EF-0 tornadoes have become more prevelant in the total number of reported tornadoes. In addition, even today many smaller tornadoes still may go undocumented in places with low populations or inconsistent communication facilities.

With increased National Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency. To better understand the variability and trend in tornado frequency in the United States, the total number of EF-1 and stronger, as well as strong to violent tornadoes (EF-3 to EF-5 category on the Enhanced Fujita scale) can be analyzed. These tornadoes would have likely been reported even during the decades before Doppler radar use became widespread and practices resulted in increasing tornado reports. The bar charts below indicate there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years.

EF1-EF5-t

EF3-EF5-t

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-information/extreme-events/us-tornado-climatology/trends

Of course it is nonsensical to claim that the bar charts below indicate there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years – there has clearly been a large reduction.

Note as well that they have not even bothered to update the graph for 2015. Could it be they would rather the public did not find out the truth?

Meanwhile, over at the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) you can see that, when allowance is made for changing reporting procedures, last year may well have had the lowest number of tornadoes on record.

torgraph-big

http://www.spc.noaa.gov/wcm/#data

The SPC is also part of NOAA, but is the department that actually deals with tornado events and data on a day to day basis. As such, they tend to be more interested in the facts, rather than a political agenda.

While we still await the final numbers and classification for last year, but what we do know is that there was no EF-5. Indeed the last occurrence was the Moore, OK tornado in May 2013.

It is unusual to go nearly four years without one, as there have been 59 since 1953, effectively one a year on average.

The bottom line is that the NOAA headline graph is grossly dishonest. Indeed, if a company published something like that in their Annual Accounts, they would probably end up in jail!

NOAA themselves know all of this full well.

Which raises the question – why are they perpetuating this fraud?

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

Beyond Physics: Advanced Biology and Climate Change

By Clive Hambler | Climate Etc. | January 16, 2017

Reflections on the stabilization of Earth’s climate by life.

People frequently believe the claim that basic physics, established in the 19th Century, is sufficient to predict that Earth will warm in response to increasing CO2. However, I argue here that negative feedbacks due to life (‘Gaia’) may have stabilized the planet’s climate — on geological timescales and in recent decades. The biology of any such stabilization is far from settled, with a mechanistic understanding delayed by evolutionary debate. I conclude that even with such advanced biology we have little power to predict global climate changes.

There is a basic flaw in the basic physics argument of climate change: biology. Indeed, just one word should be enough to cast doubt on all models of the atmosphere: “oxygen”. No educated person is unaware of one aspect of Earth’s basic biology: most atmospheric oxygen results from living organisms. Physics and chemistry therefore cannot explain atmospheric composition or properties. Basic chemistry would leave the planet a rusty ball (like Mars or Venus). So, as James Lovelock articulated in his Gaia hypothesis in the 1970s, the properties of our atmosphere result from the tight coupling of living and non living components (biota and abiota). Earth’s obvious and massive departure from chemical equilibrium is unique in the solar system. So, if it’s easy to understand that life is central to atmospheric chemistry, why have many people found it much harder to understand life could be pivotal in atmospheric energy and climate? And if life is so intimately involved, predictive models would need to include it — which I’ll argue they can’t because the biology is too complex.

An initial response, I anticipate, will be that oxygen is not a climatically-active gas, because it is not radiatively active. However, that does not weaken the argument that life changes Earth far from the state which non-biological “basic” science would predict — an example of the planetary power of life. Moreover, few realise that oxygen could have major implications for the long-term temperature trajectory of the planet, if it is helping to keep Earth wet. This controversial idea was discussed in meetings on Gaia in Oxford in the 1990s, postulating that in the absence of life and oxygen, the splitting of water by sunlight would eventually lead to desiccation of the planet (as hydrogen bled away into space). Photo-dissociation might be offset by the presence of atmospheric oxygen, scavenging hydrogen and restoring water. If so, the dominant climatically-active gas in the atmosphere — water — also owes its abundance to life.

Whether the planet is wet due to life requires further study and discussion. Fortunately my argument — that life is largely missing from the models — does not depend on this. What is more important is that people who believe basic physics is sufficient to predict climate should consider cloud condensation.

It is very widely accepted that clouds are hard to model, yet central to understanding climate sensitivity to CO2. It is not even known if the overall cloud feedback effect in a warming world is positive or negative. Indeed, the IPCC (2013) state: “Clouds and aerosols continue to contribute the largest uncertainty to estimates and interpretations of the Earth’s changing energy budget….some aspects of the overall cloud response vary substantially among models…”.

The basic physics of absorption and emission of infrared radiation have been combined with complex and uncertain physics to estimate that doubling of CO2 would warm the Earth by about one degree Celsius. Feedbacks involving water vapour and clouds are required to invoke larger climate changes from a doubling of CO2. Unsurprisingly, cloud feedbacks estimated from models vary substantially. Cloud-related feedbacks could be net positive (because condensed water emits infrared radiation). Cloud-related feedbacks could be net negative (because clouds reflect sunlight back into space). Further, cloud processes and convection induce and modify complex atmospheric motions, from very small scales to planetary scales. The uncertainty of cloud behaviour might eventually be tractable with complex physical models for a lifeless planet (which somehow retained water), but I think that the uncertainty is amplified to unmanageable levels on our biologically-active Earth.

It was James Lovelock who identified a potentially huge impact of life on the climate. No wonder, then, that he now argues that “anybody who tries to predict more than five to ten years is a bit of an idiot, because so many things can change unexpectedly”. Consider this: some unknown fraction of the cloud of this planet, of unknown type and altitude and climate activity, is produced for unknown reasons by unknown numbers of living species with unknowable population dynamics. If there are any modellers who think this is tractable, I hope they will indicate how in the Comments below.

How, how much, and why is life involved in cloud formation? Nobody knows. I’ll outline a few of these unsettled elements of the science of climate change.

The question “how” is life involved is the simplest: some species release chemicals that become cloud condensation nuclei (CCN), without which water remains a vapour. Some species secrete a gas, DMS (dimethyl sulphide), which seeds some clouds. Some plants secrete gases with similar properties, including Volatile Organic Compounds such as isoprene and pinene. Clouds are often observed rising over rainforest trees and other forests. It has been known for hundreds of years that some forests create rainfall (and I hypothesize that life in lakes similarly creates some of the clouds associated with them).

Unfortunately, “how much” cloud is created by life is unknown, a problem worsened by paucity of data on how much of each type of cloud cover there is and was (particularly before satellite observations). Some argue that life creates a substantive fraction of the global cloud cover, others less – and the fraction will vary through time.

“Why” does life create clouds remains unknown, but two fascinating evolutionary reasons have been proposed. Hamilton and Lenton (1998) suggested that “microbes fly with their clouds”. This is a proposal I expect many scientists will too-readily dismiss — even if they understand the track record of Hamilton as the biologist central to modern evolutionary theory (through his initially controversial ideas). However, the ‘selfish’ reason microbes of oceans, forests (and lakes?) secrete a cloud-forming gas (at metabolic cost) could be to generate latent heat of condensation, thence uplift of air — and thus dispersal of life to sites with more opportunities. And a plausible reason for plants to generate clouds is that they use rainfall. Predictions that clouds should increase when plankton become stressed (such as by nutrient deficiency or irradiance) will require long-term and large-scale observation.

I guess climate modellers will counter that they have performed sensitivity analyses, and that life and its interations with clouds, are not needed to predict the future climate accurately enough, or have small effects. Such arguments might have convinced me whilst models appeared to fit the unadjusted observations. However, several inexplicable (but biologically evident) warmer periods in the Holocene and Eemian damage climate model credibility. It’s not possible to do sensitivity analysis for an element of a system if there is no reliable benchline against which to measure the effects of manipulations.

Biology is very poorly represented in all of ‘climate science’, be it the mechanisms, ecological effects or policy response. Tellingly, the IPCC Assessment Report (2013) calls its first volume ‘The Physical Science Basis’. As one of the few scientists publishing on the evolutionary mechanisms of ‘Gaia,’ I know that very little attention has been paid to this topic. Perhaps if Bill Hamilton were still alive and researching the stability of the Earth system, things would be different. Because Lovelock’s original version of Gaia has an evolutionary flaw, I redefined Gaia as “planetary stability due to life”, and worked with Hamilton and Peter Henderson to seek mechanisms compatible with evolutionary biology. (Amongst the reasons few biologists have taken an interest in Gaia are that the original theory and models, such as ‘Daisyworld’, had an evolutionary bias, required ‘group-selection’, or implied natural selection amongst communities or planets). Instead, Hamilton, Henderson and I looked for negative feedbacks through two biological processes: i) ecology (density-dependent population growth); and 2) evolution (frequency-dependent selection – a mechanism also postulated by Richard Dawkins in The Extended Phenotype in 1982). The frequency of cloud-producing living organisms (abundance or biomass) is likely to be responsive to CO2, generating positive and/or negative biological feedbacks (Canney & Hambler, 2002, Biological Feedback, in: The Encyclopedia of Global Change).

At the risk of adding yet another failure to the litany of failed climate predictions, I predict climate models will struggle to include biology. No amount of physics, basic or complex, will overcome this deficiency. It is not possible to model population changes of even one species of organism several generations into the future. The unpredictability of complex systems is well known in ecosystems – as Robert May and colleagues demonstrated in the 1970s for multi-species fisheries. Populations of species that influence each other’s survival, reproduction or dispersal in ways related to abundance are likely often to demonstrate ‘deterministic chaos’, in which simple equations including time lags often generate superficially chaotic population changes. Even two species coupled through the Lotka-Volterra differential equations may show such behaviour. Imagine the problems, then, of modelling millions, billions or even trillions of microbial ‘species’ on Earth – when not even the number of species is known, let alone each of their requirements and climatic influences. Whether multi-species systems have more predictable emergent stability remains to be seen; this would make incorporation of ecology into climate models easier. Such stability is being investigated by Peter Henderson in the ‘Dam World’ model of Gaia he created with Bill Hamilton (Canney & Hambler, 2013, Conservation).

Modelling changes in plankton becomes even more implausible when one considers the responses to changing CO2: ‘ocean acidification’ might boost plankton through improved bicarbonate availability, and thence even cool the planet through DMS induced clouds. Or it might impact plankton through metabolic costs, thereby reducing calcification and a carbon sink and creating a positive feedback. The population and metabolic consequences of interactions (including those between warming water, CO2 outgassing, pH changes, thermoclines, nutrient and carbon dioxide availability for photosynthesis) are not known for any planktonic species, let alone entire hyper-complex marine ecosystems. Even if population changes could be predicted, we could not predict their cloud production behaviour — or the overall effect on albedo or convection.

It should come as no surprise to scientists and the public that wildlife has climate impacts – yet few realise how large these can be. When and if people accept that life can greatly change the chemistry of the atmosphere, they may be ready for another logical step. In this paradigm, temperature drives life drives CO2 levels. As Murry Salby (2012) deduced (Physics of the Atmosphere and Climate), CO2 lags temperature on a wide range of timescales (including glacial to interglacial oscillations, the last few hundred years, decades, and within a year). About 5% of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere each year is from human activities, leaving ample scope for minor changes (perhaps in solar activity) to change the major biological sinks and sources of this gas and overwhelm human influences on radiative forcing. Perhaps the paradigm shift required to understand causality in climate is comparable to discovering the ancient nature of fossils, or plate tectonics, or neo-Darwinism, or the inhibitory models of plant succession. I’ve witnessed and taught through some of these shifts, so know how hard they are.

The ecology and evolution of negative feedbacks and Gaia might provide a framework to reconcile climate data and theory – but with very different theory to the basic physics of the climate. Instead, climate becomes — as many others have noted — a perhaps intractable and wicked problem. Prediction and attribution of useful climate detail may be beyond any science. If ‘the pause’ continues, or the world now cools or warms, we may never know why. It might be that negative biological and other feedbacks prevented runaway warming in the past, and have already begun to act. Or solar activity might be driving the carbon cycle, stifling CO2 increase. Or both. If extinction rates continue to rise such feedback may collapse — a perverse outcome of climate policy that destroys habitat. We hear a lot about high risk justifying high expenditure on reducing CO2 emissions, despite low probability of such risk. If we applied those expenditures to protecting the biological component of climate, we would conserve the climatically-active ecosystems — not, perversely, destroy them though renewable energy impacts and opportunity costs.

I anticipate many of the suggestions above will raise calls for publication in journals. Perhaps that’s the way physics works. Yet many key biological advances have been published in books or informal articles. Some of Hamilton’s ideas were published only in less formal articles and in a film on clouds (which very few people have watched). Moreover, conventional peer review demonstrably does not work well in some areas of climate science.

I thank Judith Curry for yet another brave move in hosting this entry. I hope policy makers will focus on no-regrets actions (such as protecting forests and marine life) which are relatively cheap and would work even if I’m wrong.


Link to essay published in the Bulletin of the British Ecological Society:  ‘Thank you for Gaia’, by Clive Hambler [hambler-bes-gaia-paper]

Biosketch.  Clive has been an Oxford College Lecturer in biology at Merton, St Anne’s, Pembroke and Oriel. He joined Hertford in 1998 and is the college’s director of studies for Human Sciences. He works in Oxford’s faculties of Zoology, Geography and Anthropology. He is coauthor of the acclaimed book Conservation, published by Cambridge University Press (see reviews).

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

Israeli Forces Seize Tractors in Jordan Valley

IMEMC News & Agencies – January 16, 2017

tractorseizurejv-alray-e1484592275302Israeli forces stormed the village of Khirbet Abziq, east of Tubas in the northern Jordan Valley, on Monday morning and seized two agricultural tractors while abusing Palestinian citizens.

Witnesses said, according to Al Ray, that Israeli soldiers broke into AL-Madareb, in Khirbet Abziq, and seized two agricultural tractors belonging to Fayez Nghneghya and Nemr Horoub, and took them to a nearby military camp.

They pointed out that seizures have happened repeatedly, in an attempt to harass citizens and force them to leave Khirbet Abziq.

More than two dozen tractors have been confiscated in different areas of the Jordan Valley, over recent months.

It is noteworthy that dozens of citizens living in Khirbet Abziq, mostly refugees from the pre-1948 occupied territories, are being deprived of many basic essential services under Israeli policies. The tractors are used for agriculture and water transference.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Donald Trump v. the Spooks

By Annie Machon | Consortium News | January 16, 2017

The clash between plutocratic President-elect Trump and the CIA is shaping up to be the heavyweight prize fight of the century, and Trump at least is approaching it with all the entertaining bombast of Mohammed Ali at the top of his game. Rather than following the tradition of doing dirty political deals in dark corners, more commonly known as fixing the match, Trump has come out swinging in the full glare of the media.

In that corner, we have a deal-making, billionaire “man of the people” who, to European sensibilities at least, reputedly espouses some of the madder domestic obsessions and yet has seemed to offer hope to many aggrieved Americans. But it is his professed position on building a rapprochement with Russia and cooperating with Moscow to sort out the Syrian mess that caught my attention and that of many other independent commentators internationally.

In the opposite corner, Trump’s opponents have pushed the CIA into the ring to deliver the knock-out blow, but this has yet to land. Despite jab after jab, Trump keeps evading the blows and comes rattling back against all odds. One has to admire the guy’s footwork.

So who are the opponents ranged behind the CIA, yelling encouragement through the ropes? The obvious culprits include the U.S. military-industrial complex, whose corporate bottom line relies on an era of unending war. As justification for extracting billions – even trillions – of dollars from American taxpayers, there was a need for frightening villains, such as Al Qaeda and even more so, the head choppers of ISIS. However, since the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015, those villains no longer packed as scary a punch, so a more enduring villain, like Emmanuel Goldstein, the principal enemy of the state in George Orwell’s 1984, was required. Russia was the obvious new choice, the old favorite from the Cold War playbook.

The Western intelligence agencies have a vested interest in eternal enemies to ensure both eternal funding and eternal power, hence the CIA’s entry into the fight. As former British MP and long-time peace activist George Galloway so eloquently said in a recent interview, an unholy alliance is now being formed between the “war party” in the U.S., the military-industrial-intelligence complex and those who would have previously publicly spurned such accomplices: American progressives and their traditional host, the Democratic Party.

Yet, if the Democratic National Committee had not done its best to rig the primaries in favor of Hillary Clinton, then perhaps we would not be in this position. Bernie Sanders would be the President-elect.

Two-Party Sham

These establishment forces have also revealed to the wider world a fact long known but largely dismissed as conspiracy theory by the corporate mainstream media, that the two-party system in both the U.S. and the U.K. is a sham. In fact, we are governed by a globalized elite, working in its own interest while ignoring ours. The Democrats, openly disgruntled by Hillary Clinton’s election loss and being seen to jump into bed so quickly with the spooks and the warmongers, have laid this reality bare.

In fact, respected U.S. investigative journalist Robert Parry recently wrote that an intelligence contact told him before the election that the intelligence agencies did not like either of the presidential candidates. This may go some way to explaining the FBI’s intervention in the run-up to the election against Hillary Clinton, as well as the CIA’s attempts to de-legitimize Trump’s victory afterwards.

Whether that was indeed the case, the CIA has certainly held back no punches since Trump’s election. First the evidence-lite assertion that it was the Russians who hacked the DNC emails and leaked them to WikiLeaks: then the fake news about Russia hacking the voting computers; that then morphed into the Russians “hacked the election” itself; then they “hacked” into the U.S. electric grid via a Vermont utility. All this without a shred of fact-based evidence provided, but Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats last month solidified this dubious reality in Americans’ minds.

All this culminated in the “dirty dossier” allegations last week about Trump, which he has rightly knocked down – it was desperately poor stuff.

This last item, from a British perspective, is particularly concerning. It appears that a Washington dirt-digging company was hired by a Republican rival to Trump to unearth any potential Russian scandals during the primaries; once Trump had won the nomination this dirt-digging operation was taken over by a Democrat supporter of Hillary Clinton. The anti-Trump investigation was then sub-contracted to an alleged ex-British spy, an ex-MI6 man named Christopher Steele.

The Role of MI6

Much has already been written about Steele and the company, much of it contradictory as no doubt befits the life of a former spy. But it is a standard career trajectory for insiders to move on to corporate, mercenary spy companies, and this is what Steele appears to have done successfully in 2009. Of course, much is predicated on maintaining good working relations with your former employers.

That is the aspect that interests me most – how close a linkage did he indeed retain with his former employers after he left MI6 in 2009 to set up his own private spy company? The answer is important because companies such as his can also be used as cut-outs for “plausible deniability” by official state spies.

I’m not suggesting that happened in this case, but Steele reportedly remained on good terms with MI6 and was well thought of. For a man who had not been stationed in Russia for over 20 years, it would perhaps have been natural for him to turn to old chums for useful connections.

But this question is of extreme importance at a critical juncture for the U.K.; if indeed MI6 was complicit or even aware of this dirt digging, as it seems to have been, then that is a huge diplomatic problem for the government’s attempts to develop a strong working relationship with the US, post-Brexit. If MI6’s sticky fingers were on this case, then the organization has done the precise opposite of its official task – “to protect national security and the economic well-being of the UK.”

MI6 and its U.S. intelligence chums need to remember their designated and legislated roles within a democracy – to serve the government and protect national security by gathering intelligence, assessing it impartially and making recommendations on which the government of the day will choose to act or not as the case may be.

The spies are not there to fake intelligence to suit the agenda of a particular regime, as happened in the run-up to the illegal Iraq War, nor are they there to endemically spy on their own populations (and the rest of the world, as we know post-Snowden) in a pointless hunt for subversive activity, which often translates into legitimate political activism and acts of individual expression).

And most especially the intelligence agencies should not be trying to subvert democratically elected governments. And yet this is what the CIA and a former senior MI6 officer, along with their powerful political allies, appear to be now attempting against Trump.

Chances for Peace

If I were an American, I would be wary of many of Trump’s domestic policies. As a European concerned with greater peace rather than increasing war, I can only applaud his constructive approach towards Russia and his offer to cooperate with Moscow to stanch the bloodshed in the Middle East.

(Photo Nov. 23, 2015 Tehran: http://en.kremlin.ru)

That, of course, may be the nub of his fight with the CIA and other vested interests who want Russia as the new bogeyman. But I would bet that Trump takes the CIA’s slurs personally. After all, given the ugliness of the accusations and the lack of proof, who would not?

So, this is a world championship heavy-weight fight over who gets to hold office and wield power, an area where the U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies have considerable experience in rigging matches and knocking out opponents. Think, for instance, Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953; Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973; Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 2003; and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is wobbly but still standing, thanks to some good corner support from Russia.

However, it would appear that Trump is a stranger to the spies’ self-defined Queensbury Rules in which targets are deemed paranoid if they try to alert the public to the planned “regime change” or they become easy targets by staying silent. By contrast, Trump appears shameless and pugnacious. Street-smart and self-promoting, he seems comfortable with bare-knuckle fighting.

This match has already gone into the middle rounds with Trump still bouncing around on his toes and still relishing the fight. It would be ironic if out of this nasty prize fight came greater world peace and safely for us all.

Annie Machon is a former intelligence officer in the UK’s MI5 Security Service (the U.S. counterpart is the FBI).

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

After the WaPost’s Latest Shot, It’s Time to Call ‘Fake News’ By Its Real Name ‘Weaponized Journalism’

By Claire Bernish | The Free Thought Project | January 16, 2017

Defying any sense of journalistic integrity and loyalty to the truth, the Washington Post did it again — publishing Fake News for clicks — which had the desired effect of worldwide outrage to suit a tightly-defined political agenda.

This latest astounding deviation from the facts, however, makes indisputably clear the weaponization of news. Journalists and media outlets make mistakes from time to time, but a pattern and practice of publishing unfounded, unverified, and fraudulent articles cannot be characterized simply as irresponsible.

We are in the midst of an information war of epic proportions — led haplessly astray of the truth with the Post leading the way — and it’s a dangerous and frightening portent of things to come, not the least of which will be propagandized truth and heavy-handed censorship.

On Friday, WaPo published an article claiming President-elect Donald Trump fired Washington, D.C., National Guard Major General Errol R. Schwartz — just in time for the inauguration — and that he would be forced to leave his post as soon as the president takes the oath of office.

But that isn’t true.

“My troops will be on the street,” Schwartz told the Post. “I’ll see them off, but I won’t be able to welcome them back to the armory.” He added he would “never plan to leave a mission in the middle of a battle.”

WaPo’s erroneous reporting included a statement from D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who lamented, “It doesn’t make sense to can the general in the middle of an active deployment.”

“I’m a soldier,” the Post quoted Schwartz. “I’m a presidential appointee, therefore the president has the power to remove me.”

But WaPo left out a number of critical points — and horrendously slanted the rest — about this “firing” of the head of the D.C. National Guard.

That D.C. position — unlike the equivalent for states — is appointed by the president, not by the Pentagon, as the Post suggested, nor by any branch of the military. Also, the article glaringly omitted any statement from the Trump transition team, an inexcusable offense, considering it later emerged Schwartz had been offered to keep his position through the end of Inauguration Day — it was Schwartz who turned down the offer, preferring instead to vacate the role at 12 noon, when Trump will be sworn in.

Of course, the blatant misinformation presented by the Post seemed so juicy, countless corporate outlets parroted the claim. Thus this Fake News rippled around the planet earning the scorn of millions who believed Trump must have lost all sensibility for firing a man who had diligently performed his duties since his appointment to the post by former President George W. Bush — during a potentially dangerous event.

This also spawned a number of rumors — with raucous protests planned for Inauguration Day, and the week before, why would the incoming president fire the man in charge of security? Isn’t this a preposterous decision on Trump’s part? What is Trump thinking?

Like previous viral stories — at this point, one would be hard-pressed to deem them ‘news articles’ — the Washington Post published faulty information and subsequently began backtracking.

Notably, in each case, after erroneous information went viral worldwide, edits after publication go largely unnoticed by most of the populace. While retractions and post-publication editor’s notes sometimes appear on WaPo’s articles they are orders of magnitude less popular than the original story and, in this instance, the firing of Schwartz story has only been appended in content — no editor’s note yet graces the top or bottom of the article. (The original version can be found here.)

Any news organization actually practicing journalism would tell you this is egregiously irresponsible.

Except, it’s beginning to appear the Washington Post publishes misinformation and Fake News intentionally — knowing any subsequent disputation of its claims won’t gather as much steam as the original publication.

A distinct reason exists why this would be the case — Brandolini’s law.

“The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it,” Alberto Brandolini, an Italian independent software development consultant, keenly observed in 2013 — the Post knows this, and has been manipulating public perception exactly this way.

It was, after all, the Washington Post who initiated the altogether ironic war on Fake News — first turning from journalistic duty in the publication of several items blaming disinformation for the downfall of, well, nearly everything.

WaPo published an ‘article’ about supposed blacklist of over 200 outlets a nascent and seemingly prepubescent website, PropOrNot, had decided were Russian propagandists — linked either directly to the Russian government or had haplessly joined the effort by reporting Fake News during the election.

Literally nothing in that Post article was true. None of the claims were backed by evidence, no research or investigation had been performed, nothing. WaPo just printed the claims of PropOrNot and inserted plausible deniability by failing to link to the list or site. A subsequent retraction at the top of the page was akin to plugging a crack in a dam that’s already burst — damage to many reputable and award-winning outlets listed had already been done.

Additional stories from the Post — none including any proof — blamed The Russians for everything from meddling in the U.S. election to install Trump, to hacking into the power grid in Vermont. ‘We’re all in peril because Russia,’ WaPo repeatedly claimed — without so much as a shred of evidence.

Has the Post — and the rest of mainstream media — abandoned journalism? … continue

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 1 Comment

8 richest people as wealthy as poorest half of the world – Oxfam

RT | January 16, 2017

The wealth of the 8 richest people on earth equals that of the poorest 3.6 billion, according to a report by Oxfam presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This vast wealth gap is a threat which may “pull our societies apart,” the report warned.

The list of the eight wealthiest individuals in the world, all men, comes from Forbes magazine’s billionaires list, and includes Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Others include Inditex clothing company founder, Amancio Ortega, investor Warren Buffett, Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Oxfam emphasized the potential connection between the growing gap between the richest and the poorest, and the increasing anger at establishment politicians.

“It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of so few when 1 in 10 people survive on less than $2 a day,” said Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, who will be attending the Davos Forum, according to The Chicago Tribune.

“From Brexit to the success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a worrying rise in racism and the widespread disillusionment with mainstream politics, there are increasing signs that more and more people in rich countries are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo,” Oxfam said in its new report – “An economy for the 99 percent.”

According to the report, if things continue on their current course, the world will see its first trillionaire in the next 25 years.

Inequality exists not only between the rich and the poor, but is gender-based as well. “On current trends, it will take 170 years to see women paid the same as men,” the report says.

Oxfam urged an increase in tax rates for “rich individuals and corporations,” adding that tax evasion is a critical issue. The UN Conference on Trade and Development estimated that developing countries lose around $100 billion yearly due to tax evasion, the report said, adding that it would be enough money to ensure that 124 million children who currently have no access to education can go to school.

The report also slams corporate lobbying and the close relationship between business and politics.

“Crony capitalism benefits the rich, the people who own and run these corporations, at the expense of the common good and of poverty reduction. It means that smaller businesses struggle to compete and ordinary people end up paying more for goods and services,” it stated.

The revised figures come after last year’s report that 62 people owned the same wealth as 50 percent of the world’s population. The new report takes into account data from India and China.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | 1 Comment

‘Russophobic hysteria now backed up by massive US troop movements in Europe’

RT | January 16, 2017

We live in dangerous times, where the behavior espoused by Obama and Clinton has been extremely dangerous, says former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray.

Russian hackers have found themselves at the center of yet another controversy, thus helping to fuel the latest round Russophobia.

A Russian-language version of a new, highly-anticipated episode of Sherlock was leaked online before its first official airing, leading to all sorts of conspiracies.

The BBC, which owns the rights to show Sherlock, says it will carry out a full investigation of the incident.

RT: What do you think of the claim that Russia keeps a dossier on key British MPs?

Craig Murray: It seems to me unlikely. Of course there are spies – all countries more or less have spies. Russia has spies, America has spies, Britain has spies. I suppose these people have to do something to justify their salaries and the enormous cost of their organization. There is a certain amount of nonsense that goes on. But I really don’t think that Russia spends a great deal of its time keeping dossiers on British politicians with incriminating photographs and that sort of thing. I think it is a very 1950’s idea.

RT: Like in the hacking scandal, no real evidence has been put forward. Is it now acceptable to just forget about evidence?

CM: It seems quite remarkable the number of claims that we’ve seen. The so-called hacking scandal, then the wider claims from that absolutely unbelievable dossier apparently compiled by Christopher Steele about meetings where people can prove they were nowhere near the meeting; about people being sacked who weren’t sacked, and all kinds of absolutely fact-free nonsense, which the media then claims as unverifiable.

Actually, it was very verifiable – you could easily verify it wasn’t true. And now we have this stuff. I think anti-Russian stories using a secret source are going to be with us for some time. You’ve got to remember that the military and the security services have to justify their enormous budgets, and that is what this is all about.

RT: Is the worst of the hacking hysteria over now, do you think?

CM: Well, this is going to have to calm down though now, because eventually people will have to admit there is no evidence on this whatsoever, and in fact it didn’t happen. But the lack of evidence seems no barrier at all to the hysteria continuing. This sort of wave of Russophobic hysteria is something which we experienced once or twice during the Cold War at this kind of level, which I really believed the world had got over. And it is extremely sad to see it coming again when that is backed up by massive troop movements and tanks wheeling around, churning up fields all over the Europe. We live in dangerous times, where the behavior espoused by Obama and Clinton has been extremely dangerous.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

Afghanistan: Obama Sends Marines to Take Part in America’s Longest Ever War

By Peter KORZUN | Strateic Culture Foundation | 16.01.2017

President Obama has decided to send 300 US Marines back into Afghanistan’s Helmand Province – the first time in three years that the US military has been sent into that conflict zone.

Almost all of Helmand’s districts, except for the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, are either heavily embattled or fully controlled by the Taliban. The province is the leading opium producer in the country.

Despite all the promises to withdraw, 8,400 US troops will remain in Afghanistan as the president leaves office on January 20. If the US pulls out, the Afghan government will hardly be able to hold power.

American forces have been engaged in combat action there for over 15 years – the longest war waged by the United States – without end to hostilities in sight.

Around 200 NATO soldiers, mainly Italians, have also been deployed to Afghanistan’s volatile western province of Farah after attempts by Taliban fighters in recent months to overrun its capital city.

About a third of the country – more territory than at any time since 2001 – is either under insurgent control or in risk of coming under it. The Taliban forces have challenged Afghan security forces for a number of key cities in 2016. With fighting under way in 24 of the 34 provinces, the government’s ability to control the country is questioned.

Last December, General John Nicholson, the chief US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said the government directly controls about 64 percent of the population of 30 million, down slightly from 68 percent earlier in 2016.

According to Robert Grenier who served as CIA’s top counter-terrorism official and was the station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002, there are significant parts of the country, particularly in the south and the east, where it seems inevitable that the Taliban will further consolidate their control. The Afghan forces had more than 15,000 casualties in the first eight months of 2016, including more than 5,500 deaths.

The administration in Kabul lacks unity while the clout of regional leaders and warlords is growing. The UN says 7 million people in Afghanistan need aid. 2.2 million of them suffer from malnutrition. Poverty and unemployment prompt young Afghans to join extremist groups.

After the Russian forces in Syria struck the oil infrastructure under the control of Islamic State (IS), the issue of controlling heroin routes in Afghanistan became even more important for the group. According to the Russian Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), the IS militants make $1 billion a year from Afghan heroin. The possibility of alliance between the Taliban and IS is a real nightmare.

Afghan officials have approached Russia asking it to resume cooperation. Its representatives believe that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) has a role to play in managing the crisis in the country. NATO officials have also made statements in support of resuming Russia-NATO cooperation in Afghanistan. The cooperation was suspended after Crimea became part of the Russian Federation in 2014.

Moscow allowed land transit though its territory of non-military freight from NATO and non-NATO ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) countries. NATO used the transit center near Ulyanovsk. The parties implemented a program of common training for the prevention of drug trade in Central Asia.

Russia sold military equipment and ammunition to support the NATO operations in Afghanistan. For instance, in 2010 NATO bought 31 Russian Mi-17 helicopters to refurbish them for the Afghan army.

Against the background of ballyhoo raised in the United States regarding the “threat” coming from Moscow, Washington has partially lifted sanctions against Russian cooperation with Afghanistan on helicopter maintenance. It was not the only time. The US has broken its own sanctions regime allowing the acquisition of Russian technology for its space program.

The Afghan government badly needs more Russian helicopters to repel Taliban and IS attacks. In 2016, it formally asked the Russian government to start the deliveries.

If Russia delivers its aviation equipment to Afghanistan, it will need to train Afghan personnel. Formally, that’s what US and NATO are doing in Afghanistan now- they are in the country on advising and training missions. In fact, it will mean the resumption of cooperation while carrying out the same mission.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently expressed concern over the situation in Afghanistan and called for taking urgent steps to tackle the problem. The instability in that country spreads to Central Asia posing a direct threat to Russia’s security. Roughly, 2,000 militants operating in the Afghan northern provinces come from the countries of the post-Soviet space.

There is a growing risk of extremist attacks on the states allied with Moscow. Fighters with combat experience received in Syria have already been spotted in the Uzbek Fergana Valley. The infiltration of Islamic State (IS) into Afghanistan threatens the Russian North Caucasus and the Volga region. Besides, Afghan heroin kills 25,000 Russians annually.

Afghanistan is a burning issue – a problem that only an international effort can solve. This is an issue of common interest for Russia and the Alliance. The situation in the country could be discussed within the framework of Russia-NATO Council. On January 4, the Russian Foreign Ministry made a very important statement saying Russia was ready to restore the relations with NATO. Afghanistan could become a starting point on the way of rebuilding the broken relationship.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

German opposition needs Sahra Wagenknecht to defeat Angela Merkel

By Sergey Gladysh | The Duran | January 16, 2017

The reign of Germany’s Angela Merkel can only be stopped if leftists and social democrats unite behind a candidate like Sahra Wagenknecht, says renowned German journalist and politician Ralph Niemeyer.

The following is an exclusive interview with Ralph Niemeyer for The Duran. Questions are italicized in bold.

Mr. Niemeyer, the US will soon be governed by Donald Trump. There are those who say that with Trump, the world will be turned upside down. Will the people of Europe and the so called “free world” miss President Obama? 

Let’s face it: it’s not the people of the “free world” who will miss Mr. Obama, but the mainstream media and the elites who fear that the new US president can’t be controlled. Mr. Trump obviously doesn’t fear the “deep state”, the Secret Service, the CIA, and for this reason says what he thinks and probably will do what he wants. It is refreshingly democratic to see a president who is not full of fear and speaks unscripted. I don’t think that the world will go under because of him.

Would it then be fair to say that you like Mr. Trump?

No, because I don’t like his arrogance, his xenophobia, his racism, his attitude towards women, muslims, LGBT and minorities, but I see him from a pragmatic, not a philosophical point of view. His industrial policy might turn out to be good for American workers, while his affiliation with big money will also tie him to Wall Street.

I, personally, am not too worried about US domestic policy because I don’t live in the US, but I still wouldn’t have voted for Mrs. Clinton. She didn’t offer any real alternatives. For us, Europeans, the election of Trump can bear fruit as we work to emancipate ourselves from US dominance.

US dominance? Can you elaborate?

Obama used US air bases in Germany to conduct his wars in Libya, Iraq and Syria, as well as his drone war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, Mr. Trump is showing less eagerness in policing the world, and this will give us room to maneuver a bit more independently.

For the past 100 years whenever Germany tried to cooperate with Russia, the US put their foot in the door. Now, a new chance arises if Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin talk with each other and find solutions to Ukraine and Syria. Germany can also establish better relations with Russia again.

You think Mrs. Merkel will realign with Mr. Putin?

No, I think her time is over. 

Are you saying she will loose the election in September?

She would, if my party, the Social Democrats, were brave enough to unite with the Greens and Die Linke (The Left) to unanimously nominate Sahra Wagenknecht as our candidate for chancellor. 

What is keeping your party from doing this?

Vice Chancellor and SPD-chairman Sigmar Gabriel can’t jump over his own shadow. He knows that if he becomes the candidate we will get maybe 20%, not 40% like SPD used to have with chancellors Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt and Gerhard Schröder. Unfortunately, there are no charismatic candidates in our party, so one should form a platform with Die Linke and the Greens.

The right wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) will probably steal 10% of the votes from Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) so it would open a chance for a center-leftist majority, but only if SPD wins at least 35%. I think we will end up with a first ever coalition between CDU and the Greens, which would result in four more years of Mrs. Merkel.

Sahra Wagenknecht seems to be under attack not only from mainstream media but also from inside her party as she takes a tougher stance on refugees and holds the government accountable for the Berlin terrorist attack, blaming it on downsized police forces. Is that a leftist point of view?

Indeed, one should discuss these statements very carefully. It is not a leftist position to demand more police in response to terror attacks, but she did point out that the reasons behind the terror attacks in Europe are linked to the policies of Germany, the EU and also the US towards countries in the MENA region.

She did not link the refugees to the terrorist attack, but she was right to point out that uncontrolled migration is creating problems to which the state has not adequately responded. To let people into your country is one thing, to treat them as equal citizens and to provide equal opportunities for them is another.

Integration of refugees and migrants is most effective when they learn our language and find adequate work. However, the same rules and conditions should apply to them as apply to all other Germans. When the minimum wage rule is not applied to refugees, German workers are placed under serious pressure.

This issue has been totally neglected by the German government, which is why the people fear that too many foreigners are coming into Germany. The leftists and social democrats should stand in solidarity with refugees and workers fighting for equality.

But why is she under fire from her own party?

Because the ultra leftists in her party are dreaming of open borders and fail to see that the refugee crisis is a conspiracy, instigated by the US in order to destabilize the EU and weaken Germany.

By having millions of people flee to Europe, ISIS and Al-Qaida, both of which are products of US military invasion and intelligence support, challenged our humanitarian values and managed to shift Europe to the right after the centrist and leftist politicians mishandled the crisis.

Her party hasn’t woken up yet. They could win protest votes from AfD and become even stronger because AfD is a right wing party that lacks a social agenda. Ultimately, it’s another neo-liberal party, and the workers would favor Die Linke and Social Democrats if we demonstrated our understanding of their worries.


Ralph T. Niemeyer was born on October 9, 1969, in West-Berlin. He was the youngest-ever German journalist to interview chancellors Helmut Schmidt and Helmut Kohl as well as other leaders, including Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela.

After publishing secret arms deals of West-German politicians he fled to East-Germany in spring of 1989 just before the Berlin Wall came down. In the early 1990s he married today’s German oppositional leader Sahra Wagenknecht. They divorced in 2013. 

Today Niemeyer is involved in politics, he is an ultra-leftist member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD). 

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Trump Dossier: ‘I’d Really Like to Find Out Why My Name is in This Report’

Sputnik – 16.01.2017

For Russian tech expert Alexei Gubarev the news that he was mentioned in the unsubstantiated report alleging that the Kremlin has compromising information on US President-elect Donald Trump came as a shock. Nobody contacted him to verify the information, he told Radio Sputnik, saying that he was determined to go to court.

“We have a very big high-tech company. We have thousands of servers around the world. I have data centers in eight countries and I have offices in nine countries, including the United States. Imagine how I felt when I found out,” he said.

The dossier accused Gubarev’s Dallas-based tech company XBT Holding of using botnets and porn traffic to launch cyberattacks on the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential election. The document also alleged that Gubarev, whom it refers to as Gubarov, and another hacking expert were recruited under duress by the Russian intelligence agency FSB.

The tech expert, however, has denied the accusations, saying that they are completely false.

“Nobody contacted us before this. Neither intelligence services nor journalists contacted us to verify this information,” he said.

Intelligence officials have not appeared even after the dossier was made public. “Only journalists are calling me.”

Gubarev has been involved in the IT and telecom business for eleven years. His company offers hosting and network solutions around the world. XBT Holding has data centers in the United States, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Singapore, India, Hong Kong and Russia.

“I have around 5,000 B2B clients around the globe. We work as a hosting provider,” he detailed.

“All of my business is in the United States, Europe and Asia.”

Gubarev’s business has already taken a hit.

“I was planning to open a data center in London, but I cannot do this now,” he said. The company has lost its contact who was supposed to help them open a data center in the United Kingdom after it was mentioned in the dossier. “My career has been negatively impacted” by the allegations, he added.

The tech expert added that he “would really like to find out why my name is in this report. And that’s why we will go to court … I am working now on a legal case against this story. We will open a court case in London.”

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , | Leave a comment

Outgoing CIA Chief Warns Trump to “Watch His Words”

Al-Manar – January 16, 2017

Outgoing CIA chief John Brennan on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump, warning him to watch what he says and suggesting the president-elect doesn’t understand the challenges posed by Russia.

Brennan’s stern words — which sparked a quick Twitter retort from Trump — were the latest salvo in the ongoing feud between the incoming Republican leader and US intelligence agencies, who have concluded Moscow meddled in the November election.

The 70-year-old Trump, who takes office on Friday, tweeted saying that if the Russian leader “likes” him, it would be an “asset” to help repair strained ties with Moscow.

“I don’t think he has a full appreciation of Russian capabilities, Russia’s intentions and actions,” Brennan said of Trump on Fox News Sunday.

“I think Mr. Trump has to be very disciplined in terms of what it is that he says publicly,” he added.

“He is going to be, in a few days’ time, the most powerful person in the world, in terms of sitting on top of the United States government and I think he has to recognize that his words do have impact,” the CIA chief said.

“He’s going to have the opportunity to do something for national security as opposed to talking and tweeting,” he added.

“Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests.”

Brennan also bristled at Trump’s likening of the US intelligence community to Nazi Germany, calling it “outrageous.”

January 16, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment