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‘Iran’s ballistic missile program in full compliance with UNSC Resolution 2231’

Press TV – December 4, 2018

Iran’s mission to the United Nations says all ballistic missile related activities of the Islamic Republic are in full conformity with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorses the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the official title assigned to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal.

The mission, in a statement released on Tuesday, described the United States as the gross violator of the resolution, emphasizing that “portraying Iran’s ballistic missile program as inconsistent with Resolution 2231 or as a regional threat is a deceptive and hostile policy of the US.”

It further noted that the US unlawfully quit the nuclear agreement, and is in absolute violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

The statement came shortly after Security Council met behind closed-doors to discuss alleged Iran’s latest missile test, which the United States and its allies said may have been in violation of Resolution 2231. The session ended with no joint statement.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has also lambasted what he termed Washington’s mockery of the UN Security Council to hold a closed-door meeting and discuss Tehran’s missile program.

“The United States has repeatedly warned the world about Iran’s deliberate efforts to destabilize the Middle East and defy international norms,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement.

She added, “The international community cannot keep turning a blind eye every time Iran blatantly ignores Security Council resolutions.”

Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said on Sunday that the Islamic Republic is currently one of the world’s topmost missile powers despite being subject to severe sanctions during the past 40 years.

“Today, Iran is among the world’s topmost powers in building missiles, radars, armored vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),” the Iranian defense minister said in an exclusive interview with IRNA, emphasizing that Iran’s defense power is meant to send the message of peace and friendship to other nations.

The senior spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces also said on Sunday that the country would continue to test and develop its missiles in line with its deterrence policy despite adversarial positions taken on this issue by US officials.

“Missile tests and the overall defensive capability of the Islamic Republic are for defense [purposes] and in line with our country’s deterrence [policy]… We will continue to both test and develop missiles,” Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said, adding, “This issue is outside the framework of any negotiations and is part of our national security. We will not ask any country’s permission in this regard.”

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Trump’s Timidity is Letting Comey Off the Hook

By Ray McGovern • Consortium News • December 4, 2018

Because President Donald Trump has again pulled the rug out from under them, House Republicans face Mission Impossible on Friday when they try to hold ex-FBI Director James Comey accountable for his highly dubious authorization of surveillance on erstwhile Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

Comey let go his unprecedented legal maneuver to have a court quash a subpoena for him to appear behind closed doors before the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee until the Democrats take over the committee in January. The current committee chair, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), decried Comey’s use of “baseless litigation” in an “attempt to run out the clock on this Congress.”

The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA); so the still secret FISA application “justifying” surveillance of Page is almost sure to come up.

Comey had wanted a public hearing so he could pull the ruse of refusing to respond because his answers would be classified. He has now agreed to a closed-door meeting on Friday, with a transcript, likely to be redacted, to appear a few days later.

In an interview with The New York Post last Wednesday, Trump acknowledged that he could declassify Comey’s damning Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant request to show how devastating those pages likely are, but said he would not do so “until they were needed,” namely, if a Democratic House starts going after him. “If they go down the presidential harassment track, if they want go and harass the president and the administration, I think that would be the best thing that would happen to me. I’m a counter-puncher and I will hit them so hard they’d never been hit like that,” Trump told the paper. He added:  “It’s much more powerful if I do it then, because if we had done it already, it would already be yesterday’s news.”

But they are needed before Comey’s hearing on Friday. Barely a week will remain before Congress adjourns. Four weeks later Democrats take over the oversight committees.

Cowardice Deja Vu

This is not the first time Trump has flinched. On September 17 he ordered “immediate declassification” of Russia-gate documents, including FISA-related material. Four days later he backed down, explaining that he would leave it to the Justice Department’s inspector general to review the material, rather than release it publicly.

What exactly is in the FISA application, and why had House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes, for example, kept pleading with Trump to declassify it? In July Nunes expressed hedged confidence “that once the American people see these 20 pages, at least for those that will get real reporting on this issue, they will be shocked by what’s in that FISA application” to surveil Page, a U.S. citizen.

Oddly, Trump echoed Nunes, telling The New York Post that, were he to declassify FISA warrant applications and other documents, all would “see how devastating those pages are.” But Trump blamed his reluctance to declassify on one of his lawyers, Emmet Flood, who thought it would be better politically to wait. “He didn’t want me to do it yet, because I can save it. … I think [eventual release] might help my campaign.” So Nunes et al. find themselves thrown under the bus, again.

Worse still, according to Comey’s attorney, the “accommodation” worked out with House Judiciary Committee includes a proviso that a representative of the FBI will be present on Friday to advise on any issues of confidentiality and legal privilege. The committee undertook to publish a transcript very quickly. Do not be surprised to see many Peter-Strzok-type responses: “I would really like to answer that question, but the FBI won’t let me.”

Afraid?

In an insightful posting, David Stockman, budget director for President Ronald Reagan, was puzzled about why Trump doesn’t seem to get what’s going on. I think, rather, that Trump does get it, and that Stockman’s puzzlement may be due mostly to his specific experience as budget director. In that role, Stockman did not have to pay much heed to the Deep State, so long as he did not demur about the obscenely excessive budgets automatically given to the FBI, DOJ, CIA, NSA, and the Pentagon.

With Trump it’s a different kettle of fish — and they are piranhas. Trump has ample reason to fear the Deep State is out to get him because it is. And by this point he seems to have internalized quite enough fear that it would be too dangerous to take on the the FBI and intelligence community. Needless to say, the stakes are exceedingly high — for both sides. As president-elect, Trump dismissed the usual warnings as to how things work in Washington. But he could hardly have missed Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s attempt to ensure that Trump knows what he should be afraid of.

Not Afraid? Then ‘Really Dumb’

On Jan. 3, 2017, three weeks before Trump took office, Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, that President-elect Trump was “being really dumb” by taking on the intelligence community and doubting its assessments on Russia’s cyber activities: “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you. So even for a practical, supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this.”

Schumer’s words came just three days before then-National Intelligence Director James Clapper and the heads of the FBI, CIA, and NSA descended upon the president-elect with the misnomered “Intelligence Community Assessment” — a rump, evidence-free embarrassment to serious practitioners of intelligence analysis, published that same day, alleging that Russian President Vladimir Putin had done what he could to get Trump elected.

Adding insult to injury, after the January 6, 2018 briefing of the president-elect by the Gang of Four, Comey asked the others to leave, and proceeded to brief Trump on the dubious findings of the so-called “Steele dossier” — opposition research paid for by the Democrats (and, according to some reports, by the FBI as well) — with unconfirmed but scurrilous stories about Trump cavorting with prostitutes in Moscow, etc., etc. (And according to The Washington Post, that incident with hookers was written by a Clinton operative.) That opposition research was apparently used in the FISA warrant request, without revealing its provenance to the judge.

This Russia Thing’

Hoover: Model for Comey. (Wikipedia)

It seems to have taken Trump a few months to appreciate fully that he was being subjected to the classic blackmail-type advisory previously used with presidents-elect by the likes of J. Edgar Hoover. Indeed, this may be what Trump had in mind when he told Lester Holt in May 2017 that he had fired Comey over “this Russia thing.” (Trump can be his worst enemy when he opens his mouth.)

Comey’s closed-door deposition is now scheduled for the 77th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. But don’t look for any surprise attack on Comey this December 7 from Judiciary Committee members, highly vulnerable though he is.

With just a few days left before Congress adjourns, House Republicans, like their President, have pretty much let the clock run out on them. Few will see much percentage at this late date in “taking on the intelligence community.” Trump has already pretty much thrown them under the bus.

The leadership of the three House committees with purview over Russia-gate matters — Judiciary, Intelligence, and Government Operations — changes next month. So while Friday had seemed to be shaping up as a key day for confronting Comey — and for getting answers to questions on Russia-gate — the day will likely land with an anticlimactic thud. Even if the committee is able to expose additional misdeeds not already known, nothing much is likely to happen before Christmas.

After that, the three committees and their aborted work will be history.

The dominant mainstream media narrative about Russia-gate — ignoring FBI-gate — will hop happily into the new year. And no congressional “oversight” committee will dare step up to its constitutional duty, despite a plethora of documentary evidence on FBI-gate. And why? Largely because “they” of the Deep State “have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

Most consequential of all, any significant improvement in relations with Russia will remain stymied. And the MICIMATT (Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think Tank) complex, with its Deep-State enforcer, will have won yet another round. Merry Christmas.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He worked for the senior Bush when he was director of the CIA and then briefed him mornings, one-on-one, with the President’s Daily Brief during the first Reagan administration. In Jan. 2003, Ray co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) and still serves on its Steering Group.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Fact-checking the second volume of the U.S. National Climate Assessment

By Roger Andrews | Energy Matters | December 4, 2018

This recently-issued study (the “Assessment”) was seized on by the media as proof of the massive damage the US will suffer if nothing is done about climate change. The Assessment’s conclusions are based largely on speculative model projections that aren’t amenable to checking, but it also claims that the US is already experiencing some of the impacts of man-made climate change, and these claims can be checked. This post accordingly evaluates them claim-by-claim and finds that they are rarely backed up by any hard data, that in some cases they are contradicted by disclaimers buried in the text, and that in no case is there any hard evidence that conclusively relates the impacts to man-made climate change. The credibility of the Assessment’s predictions can be judged accordingly.

The Assessment is 1,600 pages long and I doubt that anyone has read it from cover to cover – I certainly haven’t. I have obtained my information from the Summary Findings, Overview, Report Chapters and Downloads sections in the boxes that clicking on this link leads to. These sections themselves contain several hundred pages of text, much of it repetitive, but there is always the possibility that I’ve missed some critical graphic or piece of text. On the other hand, if I’ve missed it the media, who will have read the introductory sections only, will have too.

And how did the media report the Assessment’s results? Here are some excerpts:

Guardian

Climate change is already harming Americans’ lives with “substantial damages” set to occur as global temperatures threaten to surge beyond internationally agreed limits ……… The influence of climate change is being felt across the US with increases in disastrous wildfires in the west, flooding on the east coast, soil loss in the midwest and coastal erosion in Alaska

CBS News

Billions of hours in productivity will be lost. Hundreds of billions of dollars will be wiped from the economy. Tens of thousands of people will die each year. The scientific report, which was produced by 13 federal agencies, describes an American future nothing short of apocalyptic due to rising threats from climate change …. rising sea levels, disruptions in food productions and the spread of wildfires — have all come true today.

National Public Radio

Climate change is happening here and now …. It is affecting all of us no matter where we live. And the more climate changes, the more serious and even more dangerous the impacts will become.

US News & World Report

From record-breaking wildfires that destroyed more than 14,000 homes in California, to hurricanes that devastated parts of Florida and much of Puerto Rico, long-predicted impacts of climate change are here and wreaking havoc.

The media never lose an opportunity to cast climate change in the worst possible light, or fail to report it when someone else does it for them.

And what are the climate change impacts that the Assessment claims are “happening here and now”, which are the only ones we can verify, or not verify as the case may be, against observations? These excerpts identify them either explicitly or implicitly:

Glaciers and snow cover are shrinking

Increases in greenhouse gases and decreases in air pollution have contributed to increases in Atlantic hurricane activity since 1970.

America’s trillion-dollar coastal property market and public infrastructure are threatened by the ongoing increase in the frequency, depth, and extent of tidal flooding due to sea level rise

Existing water, transportation, and energy infrastructure already face challenges from heavy rainfall, inland and coastal flooding, landslides, drought, wildfire, heat waves, and other weather and climate events

Climate-related changes in weather patterns and associated changes in air, water, food, and the environment are affecting the health and well-being of the American people, causing injuries, illnesses, and death.

Rising air and water temperatures and changes in precipitation are intensifying droughts, increasing heavy downpours, reducing snowpack

Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires

Some storm types such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and winter storms are also exhibiting changes that have been linked to climate change

After eliminating repetition and sorting the individual impacts into something resembling order we are left with droughts; floods; heavy precipitation; heat waves; wildfires; Atlantic hurricanes; tornadoes; winter storms; sea level rise; glaciers and snowpack; injuries, illnesses and death. We will review these in order of appearance:

1. Droughts

The Assessment begins by claiming that climate-change-induced droughts are intensifying in the US. Then later in the text it shoots itself in the foot:

While there are a number of ways to measure drought, there is currently no detectable change in long-term U.S. drought statistics using the Palmer Drought Severity Index

And adds a graphic to prove it, reproduced below as Figure 1:

Figure 1: US drought conditions. The Palmer Drought Severity Index is the commonly-used metric for measuring drought intensity

2. Floods

The Assessment provides no hard data to back up its claims that climate change is already causing increased flooding in the US (coastal flooding is discussed under sea level rise). The only quantitative historical data I can find on US floods are summarized in Figure 2 (data from Researchgate ):

Figure 2: Two measures of US flood damage, 1934-2000

These graphics don’t tell us whether floods in the US are on the increase or not. And the Assessment doesn’t tell us either, Not only does it fail to detect any nationwide trends, it states that it never claimed any relationship between floods and man-made climate change to begin with:

Analysis of 200 U.S. stream gauges indicates areas of both increasing and decreasing flooding magnitude but does not provide robust evidence that these trends are attributable to human influences …. Hence, no formal attribution of observed flooding changes to anthropogenic forcing has been claimed.

3. Heavy Precipitation

Since the Assessment admits that there are no detectable human-induced trends in US flooding we can reasonably assume that the claimed increase in heavy precipitation events has had no impact. But we will look at the data anyway. The Assessment presents this   graphic to back up its claim that heavy precipitation events are increasing over the US as a whole (Figure 3). As usual, the source of the data is not specified:

Figure 3: Percent of US land area with heavy precipitation events

The U.S. Global Change Research Program, under the auspices of which the Assessment was written, also produces graphics showing how heavy precipitation has changed with time and by region in the US (they may in fact be buried in parts of the Assessment I haven’t looked at). According to Figure 4 (from Globalchange) heavy precipitation events have increased over all of the US except the Southwest:

Figure 4: Increases in US total precipitation and very heavy precipitation events by region

And Huang et al (2017) produce time series showing how total precipitation and extreme precipitation in the Northeast US have both increased since about 1960 (Figure 5):

Figure 5: Increases in US total and extreme precipitation

So in this case the claim checks out against observations, or least in the northeast US. A lingering question, however, is how much of the increase in heavy precipitation was caused by man-made climate change. The Assessment implicitly assumes that all of it was, but a 2015 study by Hoerling et al. concludes that most of the changes after 1979 were caused by ocean variability:

Based on the modeling results, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change has not been a principal factor driving key characteristics of observed changes in U.S. heavy daily precipitation since 1979 …. Our results provide evidence for an alternative argument for another factor that has been operating in recent decades, namely, that statistics of U.S. heavy precipitation have been sensitive to strong decadal ocean variability since 1979

4. Heat Waves

One of the problems with heat waves is defining them (droughts and floods have the same problem). How hot does it have to get, and for how long, before a warm spell becomes a heat wave? The Assessment does not tell us. All it presents in the way of evidence for an increase in heat waves in the introductory report sections, including the 186-page “Report-in-Brief”, is this graphic (Figure 6), which shows the “heat wave season” increasing since the 1960s but not how many heat waves there were. Once again the data source is not specified, nor is the meaning of the cross-hatching:

Figure 6: Length of US “heat wave season”

The next graphic (Figure 7) is another one I added from the globalchange website. It shows an increase in daily record high temperatures in recent decades but again provides no information on the number of heat waves. How many of the record highs, for example, occurred in the winter?

Figure 7: Record daily highs in the US. The meaning of “ratio of daily temperature records” isn’t clear

The only graphic I found that provided any historic information on the incidence of heat waves was the Figure 8 plot of the EPA’s Annual Heat Wave Index. It’s not surprising that it doesn’t appear in the Assessment:

Figure 8: US annual heat wave index since 1895

5. Wildfires

The Assessment provides two graphics to support its claim that climate change is causing more wildfires. Figure 9 shows the first. Again no data source is cited, but it turns out that it comes from the National Interagency Fire Center:

Figure 9: Acres burned by US wildfires since 1987

It also shows only a fraction of the NIFC data. Figure 10, for what it may be worth, shows the complete plot. I say “for what it may be worth” because the plot comes accompanied by this disclaimer:

The National Interagency Coordination Center at NIFC compiles annual wildland fire statistics for federal and state agencies. This information is provided through Situation Reports, which have been in use for several decades. Prior to 1983, sources of these figures are not known, or cannot be confirmed, and were not derived from the current situation reporting process. As a result the figures prior to 1983 should not be compared to later data.

Figure 10: Acres burned by US wildfires. Figure 9 data carried back to 1926

Figure 11 reproduces the Assessment’s second graphic. It shows that about half of the increase in acreage burned was caused by climate change. (Note that it conflicts with the Figure 9 data, according to which a cumulative total of 173 million acres, not 23 million, has been burned since 1984).

Figure 11: Acreage burned by naturally-occurring wildfires vs. acreage burned by climate-change-caused wildfires

In this case the data source is specified. It’s a 2016 paper written by John T. Abatzoglou and A. Park Williams entitled “Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests”. How did they segregate climate change-caused wildfires from naturally-occurring wildfires? They used climate models:

We quantify the influence of ACC (anthropogenic climate change) using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project, Phase 5 (CMIP5) multimodel mean changes in temperature and vapor pressure …. This approach defines the ACC signal for any given location as the multimodel mean 50-y low-pass-filtered record of monthly temperature and vapor pressure anomalies relative to a 1901 baseline.

Before we can accept these results as meaningful we must assume that the global CMIP5 climate models can hindcast temperatures and vapor pressures to a high level of accuracy in the US, which they probably can’t (it’s generally accepted that climate models do a poor job of simulating regional changes). We also have to assume that the numerous other variables that affect wildfires have had no impact. This is a stretch, to put it mildly.

6. Atlantic Hurricanes

In this case the Assessment supplies no data, or at least none that I can find, to back up its claim that Atlantic hurricanes have increased since 1970. So once again I have had to dig up data on my own. Figure 12 (data from the US Environmental Protection Agency) plots the number of North Atlantic hurricanes since 1880. The total number is defined by the orange line, which adjusts for undercounting before 1967, and by the green line after that. There has been an erratic overall increase since about 1970, but since 1880 there has been no clear trend:

Figure 12: Unadjusted hurricane counts, hurricane counts adjusted for undercounting and hurricanes making landfall in the US

The North Atlantic, however, is not part of the US. The important consideration is how many hurricanes have made landfall in the US. These are shown by the red line at the bottom of Figure 12. There is no clear trend since 1970 and if anything a decrease since 1880.

According to Figure 13 (data from Dr. Roy Spencer) major hurricanes making landfall in the US have also been decreasing since the 1930s:

Figure 13: Major hurricanes making landfall in the US

And according to Klotzbach et al (2018) there has been little to no increase in normalized hurricane damages in the US since 1900 (Figure 13):

Figure 14: Normalized damages from hurricanes making landfall in the US

In this case the claim broadly matches observations but conceals (probably deliberately) the big picture, which is that man-made climate change has not increased the incidence of, or the damage caused by, North Atlantic hurricanes making landfall in the US since at least the late 1800s.

7. Tornadoes

Some storm types such as … tornadoes … are also exhibiting changes that have been linked to climate change. Once more the Assessment presents no supporting data, but NOAA’s tornado counts (Figure 15) speak for themselves:

Figure 15: Total tornado and strong-to-violent tornado counts since 1954

8. Winter Storms

… winter storms … are also exhibiting changes that have been linked to climate change.

Once again there are no supporting data in the Assessment, but according to Coleman & Schwartz’s 2017 paper An Updated Blizzard Climatology of the Contiguous United States (1959–2014) the incidence of blizzards in the US has been increasing (Figure 16):

Figure 16: Incidence of blizzards in US

Is this counter-intuitive increase related to climate change? NOAA thinks it may be, although NOAA’s explanation works only in the eastern US ….

Conditions that influence the severity of eastern U.S. snowstorms include warmer-than-average ocean surface temperatures in the Atlantic. These can lead to exceptionally high amounts of moisture flowing into a storm and contribute to greater intensification of the storm. Natural variability can affect ocean surface temperatures, but as global surface temperatures increase, the temperature at any time is higher than it would have been without climate change.

…. and it doesn’t match up very well with trends in sea surface temperatures off the eastern US coast (data from KNMI Climate Explorer) ….

Figure 17: Sea surface temperatures along US east coast (30N-45N, 65W-80W)

… and according to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report it’s going off in the wrong direction:

Changes in the frequency, severity, and duration of extreme events may be among the most important risks associated with climate change. In some parts of North America, this includes fewer periods of extreme cold, fewer snowstorms ….

Milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms .…

This is one of the cases where the claim matches observational changes, but no conclusion as to causation can be reached until there is agreement over whether climate change causes a) more snowstorms, b) fewer snowstorms or c) both at the same time. My money is on c).

9. Sea Level Rise/Coastal Flooding

These are related phenomena, so I will discuss them under the same heading.

Once more there are no supporting data in the Assessment, so once more I had to go searching for some. This graphic from NOAA shows an increase in high-tide flooding that correlates with an increase in “coastal sea level” (Figure 18):

Figure 18: Average days/year with high-tide flooding vs. US sea level

And as shown in Figure 19 (data from EPA) the increased flooding is dominantly an east coast phenomenon:

Figure 19: Average number of tidal floods/year, 2010-2015 vs. 1950-1959

But note the fine print. These are “nuisance floods” that don’t do any serious damage. There is no accepted definition of a nuisance flood, but a maximum water depth of 10cm has been proposed. And a 10cm-deep flood is hardly a catastrophic event.

And what does sea level rise have to do with the increase in nuisance floods? Not much. The reason nuisance floods are more common along the east coast of the US is that the east coast is sinking (a result of glacial rebound*, sediment compaction and groundwater extraction) while the west coast isn’t, and the rate at which the east coast is sinking exceeds the rate at which sea levels are rising in many places. The PSMSL tide gauge record from Sewell’s Point, near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, is an example (Figure 20). The trend line shows sea level rising at an average rate of 4.5mm/year, but according to the United States Geological Survey less than half of this – maybe less than 2 mm/year – is a result of eustatic sea level rise. The rest is caused by land subsidence:

* Glacial rebound causes the land in and immediately around the ice sheet to rise while the surrounding land, which was squeezed upwards by the ice, sinks back down again. 

Figure Figure 20: Relative sea level rise, Sewell’s Point, Virginia

10 cm nuisance floods and ~2 mm/year sea level rises also pale into insignificance beside the hurricane storm surges that have occurred in the past and which can be expected to recur in the future along the US east coast. They reached heights of eight feet at Sewell’s point during Hurricane Isabel as recently as 2003 and 18 feet along the North Carolina coast during Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

My 2016 post on Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana describes how sea level rise routinely takes the blame for inundations it didn’t cause. The Assessment cites it as an example of climate change in action.

10. Glaciers and snowpack

North American glaciers have indeed been retreating, as the Assessment claims. But  according to Oerlemans (2005, Figure 21) they have been retreating since about 1825 and retreating rapidly after 1890, well before human-induced climate forcings became significant. This raises the question of whether the retreat has anything to do with man-made climate change:

Figure 21: Glacier retreat since 1700. The green line is North America

No data are available on snowpack, but Rutgers University publishes North American snow cover data (Figure 22). The trend line shows only a very minor decrease since 1975:

Figure 22: Snow-Covered Area in North America, 1972-2015

11. Injuries, Illnesses and Death:

Climate-related changes in weather patterns …. are affecting the health and well-being of the American people, causing injuries, illnesses, and death.

No data on illnesses or injuries are readily available, but over the last ten years approximately 25 million people have died in the US. According to Wikipedia
natural disasters of the type that commonly get blamed on climate change (hurricanes, floods, blizzards, wildfires, tornadoes) have claimed only 1,200 lives over this period.

Conclusion:

In this post I have fact-checked eleven separate climate change impacts which according to the Assessment’s summary sections are already doing damage in the US. In six of these cases (heavy precipitation, heat waves, wildfires, winter storms, sea level rise/coastal flooding and glacier retreat) there is observational evidence – most of which I have had to dig up myself – for impacts that might be related to man-made climate change, but in all of them this evidence is equivocal (e.g. wildfires) or the impacts are insignificant (e.g. nuisance tidal floods). In the other five cases (droughts, floods, Atlantic hurricanes, tornadoes, and injuries, illnesses and deaths) the observational evidence either contradicts the Assessment’s claims or the Assessment admits later in the text that the claim isn’t valid (droughts and floods).

Clearly the Assessment was conducted with little regard for the facts. A disregard for the facts, however, is necessary if one wishes to get the climate change catastrophe message across.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Loophole in Bernie Sanders’ Yemen Bill Actually Allows Continued US Involvement in Yemen

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | December 3, 2018

Last week, many celebrated the advancement of Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 54, which had been introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), as a sign that the U.S. Congress was finally willing to act to reduce the U.S.’ culpability for the situation in Yemen, currently the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The bill, which will be voted on by the Senate this week, has been praised by many within the anti-war movement for its bid to “end” U.S. military involvement in Yemen. Passage of the bill would, however, do no such thing.

Much of the media coverage of the bill has noted that the resolution invokes the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which prohibits the president from deploying U.S. troops into armed conflicts without congressional approval. Though that resolution has been ignored many times since its passage, particularly since the War on Terror began in 2001, SJR 54 has been promoted as a “progressive” effort to bring the U.S.’ military adventurism to heel at a time when Saudi Arabia — one of the two countries leading the war against Yemen – is under increased scrutiny.

Yet, the text of the bill itself reveals that SJR 54 invokes the War Powers Resolution in name only. Indeed, while the bill claims to be aimed at achieving “the removal of United State Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress,” it contains a major loophole that will allow the majority of U.S. troops in Yemen – if not all – to stay.

As the bill states, it will require the president to remove troops “except United States Armed Forces engaged in operations directed at al Qaeda or associated forces.” Notably though, the only U.S. troops “on the ground” in Yemen that are involved in “hostilities” (i.e., combat operations) are those that are allegedly involved in operations targeting Al Qaeda — operations that the U.S. frequently conducts jointly with the countries waging war against western Yemen, such as the United Arab Emirates.

U.S. troops deployed in Yemen to target Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) also collaborate with the UAE and Saudi Arabia in “intelligence sharing,” “midair refueling,” and “overhead reconnaissance” for forces involved in counterterrorism operations that the U.S. is leading. This cooperation is what the very text of SJR 54 claims to want to end, but only in regard to the coalition’s war in western Yemen. However, the current text of the bill would allow all of this cooperation to continue, just not in areas where there are no claims of AQAP presence.

Thanks to the loophole in SJR 54, all that would need to change for the U.S. military’s assistance to the Saudi/UAE coalition to remain as is would be for either the Saudis, Emiratis or the U.S. to claim that there is an AQAP presence – however small – in an area they wish to target. Given that AQAP regularly collaborates with coalition forces elsewhere in Yemen, the coalition would only need move AQAP forces near a site in western Yemen that they wish to bomb in order for U.S. military involvement in its war against Yemen’s resistance to continue unimpeded.

Alternatively, either of those countries could supply “intelligence” that would seek to link Yemen’s resistance movement Ansarullah or the Houthis to AQAP, thus allowing U.S. involvement in the coalition’s war in Yemen to continue unchanged. This is a very likely scenario if SJR 54 is passed given that some top Trump administration officials have a history of providing false intelligence in order to justify aggressive policies and push for military intervention abroad. Furthermore, the Trump administration also has experience linking countries it doesn’t like to Al Qaeda without evidence in order to justify such policies. Thus, linking Yemen’s resistance movement to AQAP despite a lack of evidence is something the Trump administration would likely pursue were this bill to pass in its current form.

In addition, the Sanders-introduced bill will do nothing to stop the U.S.’ use of drone strikes that regularly kill scores of civilians in Yemen. Indeed, a recent investigation conducted by the Associated Press found that at least one-third of all Yemenis killed by U.S. drone strikes in Yemen were civilians, many of them children. Even though U.S. intelligence has regularly shown that the U.S. drone war in Yemen actually strengthens AQAP, this bill would do nothing to stop the U.S. military’s deadliest practice in Yemen, with a documented history of murdering civilians.

The bill’s failure to touch on the U.S. drone war in Yemen is unsurprising given that Bernie Sanders — who introduced SJR 54 — supported drone strikes and the controversial “kill lists” during the Obama administration. Furthermore, when asked on Meet the Press in 2015 if his foreign policy if elected President would involve the use of drones and Special Forces in military operations overseas, Sanders stated that it would involve “all of that and more.”

SJR 54 as mostly kabuki

Given the fact that SJR 54 provides a huge loophole that would prevent it from having the advertised effect, it seems that the measure is meant to serve other purposes, namely political, instead of its stated purpose of ending U.S. military involvement in Yemen. The bill appears to be little more than a PR stunt by Democrats and Democratic-aligned senators to distance themselves from Republicans.

This is supported by the fact that not a single Democrat in the Senate voted against the bill last week, while several Senate Democrats had voted against it earlier this year, setting up the case that only Republicans are against halting the U.S.-backed war in Yemen. Another suggestion that this is the case is how the media widely reported the vote as a “rebuke” of President Trump, as is the fact that 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, such as Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, co-sponsored this bill even though they both hold pro-war positions regarding another Middle Eastern country, Iran.

The “anti-war” credentials of Warren — as well as Bernie Sanders, who wrote SJR 54 — have long been questionable, particularly after they both backed James Mattis as Secretary of Defense even though he had led the U.S. assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004, an attack that killed thousands of civilians and used chemical weapons that still cause birth defects in those born in Fallujah over a decade later.

Though the death of Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi has been blamed for the change of heart of Senate Democrats and some Republicans, reporting from MintPress and others has shown that the “outrage” regarding Khashoggi’s death is not about “human rights” but about money and pushing Saudi Crown Prince to move forward with expensive weapons deals and the neoliberalization of Saudi state assets that he had tried to back away from. Viewing the situation from this lens, SJR 54 seems little more than a PR effort to cast Democrats as “anti-war” when they are just as beholden to the military-industrial complex as the Republicans.

Yet, most importantly, the toothless text of SJR 54 shows that relying on either of the corporate, war-loving political parties in the U.S. to end the country’s involvement in the war in Yemen is misguided, as such action if more likely to come about from sustained public pressure or grassroots activism than from politicians beholden to special interests such as the Saudi or weapons lobbies.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia in Full Compliance With INF Treaty, US Side Knows Well About It – Moscow

Sputnik – 04.12.2018

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded to earlier statements by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg regarding the INF treaty by stating that Moscow strictly adheres to the provisions of the arms accord.

“Russia is following the provisions of the treaty and the American side knows this well,” she said.

Earlier, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated at a press conference in Brussels on December 4 that Russia should not miss its “last chance” to preserve the key arms control agreement between Moscow and Washington. Speaking at the same conference, Pompeo said that the US would suspend its adherence to the INF Treaty in 60 days unless Russia returns to full compliance with the agreement.

The US secretary of state also announced that the US would suspend its obligations under the arms treaty for 60 days until Russia “returns to full and verifiable compliance”. He also said that the US would not produce, deploy, or test any missile that violates the treaty during this period.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump accused Russia of violating the INF treaty by building prohibited missiles and vowed to abandon it in the near future. Moscow denied Washington’s accusations, saying it abides by the accord’s provisions. Russia has called the US plans to withdraw from the INF dangerous, saying that it could draw “entire regions of the world into an arms race”.

Previously, Russia has also accused the US of violating the INF treaty by deploying launchers capable of firing prohibited missiles in Europe, which is also prohibited by the INF.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 13 Comments

Washington on Syria: Hidden Agendas, Interests and Objectives

By Elias SAMO | Strategic Culture Foundation | 04.12.2018

In the search to find exactly what American policy, interests and objectives are in Syria, one can refer to the United States Institute of Peace (“USIP”), which was established by Congress in 1984. According to Mona Yacoubian, a USIP Senior Advisor on Syria, the Middle East and North Africa, the USIP seeks “to prevent and resolve violent conflicts abroad, in accordance with US national interests and values”.

On September 27th, 2018, Ms. Yacoubian testified at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa hearings on “US policy Toward Syria: Part I”. Given her role, one can reasonably assume that Ms. Yacoubian’s testimony at Congress reflects, if not represents, and summarizes the Trump administration’s policy towards Syria. In the first paragraph of her testimony, Ms. Yacoubian says “Implications of Assad’s Survival. The regime will stop at nothing to ensure its survival, […] Assad’s survival could also upend the regional order, embolden Iran and its allies and posing new threats to Israel.” This one short paragraph by a senior American Advisor encompasses several critical issues which constitute a general framework of Washington’s Syria policy.

First, the reference to “Assad regime” is pejorative and denies the legitimacy of both, Syria’s political system – which is based on Syria’s 2012 Constitution – and the re-election of President Assad in 2014. Ms. Yacoubian might object, claiming that the elections were rigged. I would tell her to “see the log in her eye before she sees the speck in my eye”; I would remind Ms. Yacoubian of the rigged Senate election of Lyndon Johnson in Texas in 1948, the rigged presidential election of John Kennedy in Chicago in 1960 by the Daley Machine and the rigged presidential election of George W. Bush in Florida in 2000.

Second, Ms. Yacoubian says; “The regime will stop at nothing to ensure its survival…” This fickle statement was pedaled by multiple opponents of the Syrian ‘regime’. President Assad had to use all the available means at his disposal, in addition to outside help, to ensure not only his survival and the survival of the Syrian political system, but more importantly and ultimately the survival of Syria as a sovereign state. I would remind Ms. Yacoubian that President Abraham Lincoln used means at his disposal to ensure the survival of the Union during the American Civil War. Lincoln’s success in preserving the Union, in which roughly 620000 Americans lost their lives and taken as a percentage of today’s population, the number would be 6 millions American lives, made him an American legend. By comparison, Assad fought hordes of Islamists, terrorists, warlords, criminals who had come from all over the world, with the financial and military help of a host of foreign countries (US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar amongst others) for the single purpose of destroying Syria. Had they succeeded, Syria would have disintegrated into hundreds of cantons, headed by a multitude of terrorists, Islamists, Ameers, mafias, warlords in every neighborhood fighting each other indefinitely for supremacy. Assad, along with the Syrian people and institutions, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, should be thanked for the survival of a Sovereign Syria.

Third, she says “Assad’s survival could also upend the regional order, emboldening Iran and its allies and posing new threats to Israel”. Addressing each component of her statement separately:

“Upend the regional order”: Assad has been in power since 2000 and during his eleven-year rule prior to the uprising, the regional order was not upended. It was rather stable, particularly the Syrian-Israeli relations.

“Emboldening Iran”: Syrian-Iranian warm and friendly relations started with the fall of the Shah and the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. During the uprising, Syria needed Iranian help which Iran provided. Once the uprising in Syria is over, relations between the two countries will return to normal, like relations between any sovereign allies.

Assad’s survival, she notes, “posing new threats to Israel”: I would just note that during many Syrian-Israeli Track II Diplomacy meetings in the 1990’s and the first decade of the present century, in which I participated, I often heard Israelis repeat the saying “If it is not broke don’t fix it”. The reference was to the Syrian-Israeli relations in which no bullets were fired across the disengagement line in decades.

Ms. Yacoubian moves on to note that “Meanwhile, the Assad regime vows it will reassert control over Idlib province…[which] harbors a significant al-Qaeda presence…” She further notes that “The regime could seek to retake critical hydrocarbon facilities currently under the control of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.” A shocking and presumptuous statement, implying foreign governments shall not uphold their sovereignty if it interferes with American interests. President Assad, took the Presidential oath to defend and protect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Therefore, it is his constitutional duty to reassert control over Idlib, a Syrian province which “harbors a significant al-Qaeda presence”, and retake Syrian critical hydrocarbon facilities. I will just remind the Senior Advisor, once again, to remember the legacy of President Lincoln.

Finally, Ms. Yacoubian asserts that “The Assad regime repeatedly has transgressed international norms and laws governing armed conflict.” It is the height of irony for Ms. Yacoubian to consider Assad’s attempts to reclaim occupied Syrian territory a violation of international legal norms. Th US has spearheaded an uninvited military occupation in Syria alongside Turkey and particularly Israel, which has occupied and annexed the Syrian Gholan plateau in violation of numerous United Nations resolutions and, as Ms. Yacoubian notes, “has undertaken 200 military attacks against Iranian targets in Syria over the past two years”.

Overall, an assessment of American policy, interests and objectives in Syria exposes deep flaws and inconsistencies and underlies a much likely “private agenda”; one where American-Israeli geo-political regional interests are at the center.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Donald Trump is Finished | Super Deluxe Super Cuts

Super Deluxe | October 18, 2018

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | | 4 Comments

What Foreign Threats?

The biggest threats to America come from its “friends”

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • December 4, 2018

One of the local Washington television stations was doing a typical early morning honoring our soldiers schtick just before Thanksgiving. In it soldiers stationed far from home were treated to videolinks so they could talk to their families and everyone could nod happily and wish themselves a wonderful holiday. Not really listening, I became interested when I half heard that the soldier being interviewed was spending his Thanksgiving in Ukraine.

It occurred to me that the soldier just might have committed a security faux pas by revealing where he was, but I also recalled that there have been joint military maneuvers as well as some kind of training mission going on in the country, teaching the Ukrainian Army how to use the shiny new sophisticated weapons that the United States was providing it with to defend against “Russian aggression.”

Ukraine is only one part of the world where the Trump Administration has expanded the mission of democracy promotion, only in Kiev the reality is more like faux democracy promotion since Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is clearly exploiting a situation that he himself provoked. He envisions setting himself up as a victim of Moscow to aid in his attempts to establish his own power through a security relationship with Washington. That in turn will help his bid for reelection in March 2019 elections, in which his poll numbers are currently running embarrassingly low largely due to the widescale corruption in his government. Poroshenko has already done much to silence the press in his county while the developing crisis with Russia has enabled him to declare martial law in the eastern parts of the country where he is most poorly regarded. If it all works out, he hopes to win the election and subsequently, it is widely believed, he will move to expand his own executive authority.

There also has to be some consideration the encounter with the Russians on the Kerch Strait was contrived by Poroshenko with the assistance of a gaggle of American neoconservative and Israeli advisers who have been actively engaged with the Ukrainian government for the past several years. The timing was good for Poroshenko for his own domestic political reasons but it was also an opportunity for the neocon warmongers that surround Trump and proliferate inside the Beltway to scuttle any possible meeting between a vulnerable Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 gathering in Argentina.

The defection of Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, together with the assumption that a lot of anti-Trump dirt will be spilled soon, means that the American president had to be even more cautious than ever in any dealings with Moscow and all he needed was a nod of approval from National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cancel the encounter. A heads-of-state meeting might not have solved anything but it certainly would be better than the current drift towards a new cold war. If the United States has only one vitally important relationship anywhere it is with Russia as the two countries are ready, able and apparently willing to destroy the world under the aegis of self-defense.

Given the anti-Russian hysteria prevailing in the U.S. and the ability of the neocons to switch on the media, it should come as no surprise that the Russian-Ukrainian incident immediately generated calls from the press and politicians for the White House to get tough with the Kremlin. It is important to note that the United States has no actual national interest in getting involved in a war between Russia and Ukraine if that should come about. The two Eastern European countries are neighbors and have a long history of both friendship and hostility but the only thing clear about the conflict is that it is up to them to sort things out and no amount of sanctions and jawing by concerned congressmen will change that fact.

Other Eastern European nations that similarly have problems with Russia should also be considered provocateurs as they seek to create tension to bind the United States more closely to them through the NATO alliance. The reality is that today’s Russian Federation is not the Soviet Union and it neither aspires to nor can afford hegemony over its former allies. What it has made very clear that it does want is a modus vivendi where Russia itself is not being threatened by the West.

Recent military maneuvers in Poland and Lithuania and the stationing of new missiles in Eastern Europe do indeed pose a genuine threat to Moscow as it places NATO forces on top of Russia’s border. When Russia reacts to incursions by NATO warships and planes right along its borders, it is accused of acting aggressively. One wonders how the U.S. government would respond if a Russian aircraft carrier were to take up position off the eastern seaboard and were to begin staging reconnaissance flights. Or if the Russian army were to begin military exercises with the Cubans? Does anyone today remember the Bay of Pigs?

When it comes to international conflicts context is everything. Seeing the incident between Russia and Ukraine in Manichean terms as an example of Moscow’s aggressive instincts is satisfying in some circles, but it does not in any way reflect the reality on the ground. Internal politics of the two countries combined with deliberate fabrications that are expected to generate a certain response operate together to create a largely false narrative for both international and domestic consumption. Unfortunately, narratives have consequences: in this case, the sacrifice of the possibly beneficial meeting between Trump and Putin.

The same dynamic works vis-à-vis Washington’s other enemy du jour Iran. In the case of Russia, useless “friend” Ukraine is pulling the strings while regarding Iran it is conniving Israel and Saudi Arabia. Iran has been accused of being the world’s leading sponsor of terror, of destabilizing the Middle East, and of having a secret nuclear weapon program that will be used to attack Israel and Europe. None of those assertions are true. The terrorism tag comes from the country’s relationship with Hezbollah, which is only a terrorist group insofar as it is hostile to Israel and pledged to resist any future Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Washington and Israel have pushed the terrorism label for Hezbollah, but most Europeans have begun to disregard the designation since the group has become a part of the Lebanese government.

And regarding destabilizing the Middle East, that has largely been the end result of actions undertaken by the United States, Israel and the Saudis, while the alleged Persian nuclear weapons program is a fantasy. If someone in the U.S. national security apparatus had any brains the United States would work to improve relations with Iran real soon as the Iranians would in the long run quite likely prove to be better friends than those rascals who are currently running around using that label.

And there are other friends in unlikely places. Beleaguered British Prime Minister Theresa May is wailing loudly against a Trump threat to reveal classified documents relating to Russiagate. The real problem is that the documents apparently don’t expose anything done by the Russians. Rather, they seem to appear to reveal a plot by the British intelligence and security services working in collusion with then CIA Director John Brennan to subvert the course of the 2016 election in favor of the Deep State and Establishment favorite Hillary Clinton. How did that one work out?

So how about it? Teenagers who get in trouble often have to ditch their bad friends to turn their lives around. There is still a chance for the United States if we keep our distance from the bad friends we have been nurturing all around the world, friends who have been convincing us to make poor choices. Get rid of the ties the bind to the Saudis, Israelis, Ukrainians, Poles, and yes, even the British. Deal fairly with all nations and treat everyone the same, but bear in mind that there are only two relationships that really matter – Russia and China. Make a serious effort to avoid a war by learning how to get along with those two nations and America might actually survive to celebrate a tricentennial in 2076.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Canadian Diplomat: UK’s Anti-Russia Info Ops Mark Decline in Western Values

Sputnik – 04.12.2018

United Kingdom’s anti-Russian propaganda operations are a sign that Western values related to freedom of expression are on the decline, former Canadian diplomat Patrick Armstrong told Sputnik.

On Monday, the international hacktivist group Anonymous released a new package of documents of the anti-Russian UK Integrity Initiative project. In particular, the documents include fake proof of Russian interference in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum disseminated among Spanish politicians and media.

The revelations undermined the credibility of the United Kingdom’s and Western media, Armstrong pointed out. “Only a couple of decades ago we were boasting about Western values of freedom of speech and thought,” Armstrong said. “Not today.”

These United Kingdom operations marked another step in “the decline of the West,” Armstrong added, as its rulers try to counter any discussion they disagree with by portraying it as fake news.

“Our rulers are determined that their stories must not be challenged and thus they try to shut down all discussion. Accept, Believe, Repeat. Anything else is ‘fake news,’” Armstrong said.

According to the first document leaked by Anonymous last month, the project was in fact a “large-scale information secret service” sponsored and created by London.

However, the latest leak suggests that “the British government goes far beyond and exploits the Integrity Initiative to solve its domestic problems inside the United Kingdom by defaming the opposition.”

Until his retirement, Armstrong was a Canadian diplomat who was a specialist on the Soviet Union and Russia. He previously served as political counselor in the Canadian Embassy in Moscow.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | | 1 Comment

Over 14,500 Syrian Deserters Granted Pardon by Assad’s Decree – Russian MoD

Sputnik – 04.12.2018

More than 14,500 Syrians who evaded the duties of military service, including among refugees and former members of illegal armed groups, were granted amnesty in Syria as of December 2, head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian reconciliation Lt. Gen. Sergei Solomatin said on Sunday.

“As part of the implementation of the decree of the President of the Syrian Arab Republic B. Assad dated November 9, 2018, the Syrian authorities continue to work on amnesty for those who evade from military service, including those among refugees and former members of illegal armed groups. As for December 2, 2018, in total 14,522 were granted amnesty,” the statement says.

Solomatin also said that one ceasefire violation had been registered in the Idlib de-escalation zone over the past 24 hours, adding that militants attacked the village of Hifsin in the province of Hama.

The center calls on the commanders of the illegal armed groups to abandon armed provocations and take the path of peaceful settlement in the areas under their control, he added.

As the Syrian government has regained control over most of the country’s territories that were seized by terrorists, it is now focused on creating favorable conditions for repatriating refugees. Moscow is assisting Damascus in this, along with providing humanitarian aid to civilians and being a guarantor of the ceasefire.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | Leave a comment

The Guardian’s Bush obituary plumbs new depths of sycophantic hypocrisy

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | December 3, 2018

“The strong man with the dagger is followed by the weak man with the sponge.” – Lord Acton

George Herbert Walker Bush died on Saturday. He was 94 years old. Thanks to decisions he made throughout his career, thousands – perhaps millions – of people never got near 94. He invaded Iraq in 1991, instituted sanctions that destroyed the country. He pardoned those involved in the Iran-Contra affair and was head of the CIA when Operation Condor launched the military coup in Argentina in 1976.

None of that makes it into The Guardian’s obituary, of course.

Instead, Simon Tisdall – a mindless servant to the status quo, always happy to weave invective about our designated enemies – treats us to paragraph after paragraph of inane anecdotes.

Good old Georgie once gave him a lift in Air Force One.

Barbara gave him useful advice about raising Springer Spaniels.

The following words and phrases are not found anywhere in this article: CIA, Iraq, Iran-Contra, Argentinian coup, Iran Air Flight 655, NAZI, Panama.

Rather, Tisdall refers Bush’s term as “before the era of fake news”. Which makes him either a complete liar or profoundly under-qualified to write on the subject – as the Bush-era spawned the original fake news: The Nayirah testimony. A pack of lies told before the Senate, and used to justify a war in the middle-east.

A Bush family tradition.

Tisdall talks of Bush’s family – “he enjoyed a privileged upbringing in a monied east coast family” – but doesn’t say that his father, Prescott Bush, was a known Nazi sympathiser and was even implicated in an alleged plot to overthrow the government of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Bush started two wars as President. Planned and enabled countless crimes as director of the CIA. pardoned all those implicated in the Iran-Contra affair. Refused to apologise when the US Navy “accidentally” shot down an Iranian airliner, killing over 200 civilians, including 60 children.

He was the original neocon – his administration brought us Cheney and Powell and Rumsfeld. Gave birth to the ideology that stage-managed 9/11, launched the “War on Terror”, and cut a blood-stained swath across North Africa and the Middle East.

We don’t hear about that.

What we DO hear about is Bush’s “deep sense of public duty and service” and that “Bush was a patriot who did not need cheap slogans to express his belief in enduring American greatness”. No space is given over to analysis, to examine the fact that “belief in enduring American greatness” is quasi-fascism, and responsible for more violent deaths this century than any other cause you can name.

In hundreds of words, a notionally left-wing paper has nothing but praise for a highly unpopular right-wing president. No space is given over even to the gentlest of rebukes.

The whole article is an exercise in talking without saying anything. Pleasantries replacing truth. Platitudes where facts should be. A nothing burger, with a void on the side and an extra order of beige.

It’s an obituary of Harold Shipman that eschews murder talk and rhapsodises about his love of gardening.

A eulogy to Pinochet that praises his economic reforms but neglects all the soccer stadiums full of corpses.

An epitaph to Hitler that focuses, not on his “controversial political career”, but on his painting and his vegetarianism.

Did you know Genghis Khan once lent me a pencil? He was a swell guy. The world will miss him.

We’re no longer supposed to examine the lives, characters or morals of our leaders. Only “honour their memory” and be “grateful for their service”. History is presented to us, not as a series of choices made by people in power, but as a collection of inevitabilities. Consequences are tragic but unavoidable. Like long-dead family squabbles – To dwell on them is unseemly, and to assign blame unfair.

Just as with John McCain, apologism and revisionism are sold to us as manners and good taste. Attempts to redress the balance and tell the truth are met with stern glares and declarations that it is “too soon”.

It’s never “too soon” to tell the truth.

John McCain was a dangerous war-mongering lunatic. George Bush Sr was a sociopath from a family of corrupt sociopaths. The world would be a far better, and much safer place if just one major newspaper was willing to say that.

Really, there are two obituaries to write here:

First – George HW Bush, corrupt patriarch of an old and malign family, passing out of this world to face whatever eternal punishment (hopefully) awaits those who sell their immortal soul in exchange for a brief taste of power.

Second – The Guardian, perhaps a decent newspaper once-upon-a-time, now a dried out husk. A zombified slave to the state, mindless and brainless and lifeless. No questions, no reservations, no hesitation. Obediently licking up the mess their masters leave behind.

It’s sickening.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

December 4, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments