Aletho News


World Jewish Congress: Billionaires, Oligarchs, Global Influencers for Israel

Billionaire Mikhael Mirilashvili and his son Yitzhakis with Israeli minister Yaffa Deri.
By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | November 24, 2019

The World Jewish Congress (WJC), which calls itself “The Representative Body of over 100 Jewish Communities Worldwide,” held its annual gala at the Pierre hotel in New York City on Nov. 6.

It bestowed its annual Theodor Herzl Award (named after Israel’s founding father) on former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for her work on behalf of Israel. Some previous awardees have been Joe Biden and Henry Kissinger.

One of the WJC’s main issues is support for Israel. Among its many activities in this realm, it collaborates with the Israeli government to defend Israel from criticisms of its human rights abuses and discriminatory system.

The WJC defines many factual statements about Israel to be “antisemitic,” and labels legitimate opposition to Israeli violence and oppression against Palestinians “antisemitism.” As a result, its top issue, combating “antisemitism,” often consists of efforts to suppress information about Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and to combat efforts on behalf of Palestinian human rights.

At one of its recent international conferences to oppose this newly defined “antisemitism,” US Special Envoy Elan Carr proclaimed that every law enforcement office and every prosecutorial agency throughout the world must “force everybody who has even a hint of antisemitism to undergo a tolerance program.” … continue

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 7 Comments

US to launch new media network to provide Chinese diaspora with ‘alternative’ news

© Reuters/Yuri Gripas; GLP/ZUMA Press/ChinaFotoPress/Wu Junsong
RT | November 24, 2019

The US-funded broadcasters Voice of America and Radio Free Asia are about to join forces to establish a new media structure, tasked with providing Chinese citizens with an ‘alternative’ to their own state media, a report claims.

Against the background of a seemingly never-ending US-China trade war, Washington has, apparently, decided to reach out to some ordinary Chinese people and to provide them with no less than a brand new “alternative” to their domestic state media, which, it says, only promote Beijing’s “narratives, values and misinformation.”

At least that’s what a report in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post (SCMP) claims. The report suggests that Voice of America and Radio Free Asia plan to work together to create a totally new “digital brand” operating 24/7 in Mandarin on social media, on the internet and through various other broadcasting platforms.

The new network is reportedly expected to focus particularly on Chinese youth, both in China and beyond. The news comes as the US Agency for Global Media – a newly founded governmental entity tasked with coordinating the work of all of the US’ state-funded media – proudly reported about the growing demand for that sort of content in China, saying that the number of people tuning in weekly to VOA and RFA rose by more than six percent in total in 2018.

It is, however, unclear how exactly a network, which will reportedly be called ‘Global Mandarin,’ would be different from the existing US state-funded Mandarin-language broadcasters. Neither is it clear how many personnel would be involved in its operations and how exactly it is going to promote “freedom and democracy.”

In any event, this new “alternative” media source, which would be no doubt tasked with “advancing the goals of US foreign policy” just like Radio Free Asia or Radio Free Europe, would need to get through China’s firewall first.

The SCMP report suggests the budget of the proposed new network could be between $5 million and $10 million for the first year – a meager sum. Compared with the $43 million Radio Free Asia had at its disposal in 2018, for example.The network’s supposed future name does not make the situation any easier as well as it –alongside with a relevant internet domain – is currently taken by an online school of Chinese language.

It is not the Washington’s first attempt to conquer the minds of its geopolitical adversaries, though. Two years ago, Voice of America together with another government-funded media outlet – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty launched a 24/7 Russian-language news channel broadcasting from the Czech Republic with a very similar stated goal of providing “an alternative to disinformation” in Russia and neighboring countries.

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | | 1 Comment

Anti-Russian sanctions based on fraudster’s tales? Spiegel finds Magnitsky narrative fed to West by Browder is riddled with lies

RT | November 24, 2019

British investor Bill Browder has made a name for himself in the West through blaming Moscow for the death of his auditor, Sergey Magnitsky. Der Spiegel has picked apart his story and uncovers it has major credibility problems.

For years Browder – Russian President Vladimir Putin’s self-proclaimed “enemy number one” and head of the Hermitage Capital Management fund – has been waging what can only be described as his personal anti-Russian campaign.

The passionate Kremlin critic relentlessly lobbied for sanctions against Russian officials everywhere from the US to Europe – all under the premise of seeking justice for his deceased employee, who died in Russia, while in pre-trial detention, where he’d been placed while accused of complicity in a major tax evasion scheme.

Browder, who was himself sentenced in absentia by a Russian court to nine years in prison for tax evasion, and was later found guilty of embezzlement as well, presented Magnitsky as a fearless whistleblower who exposed a grand corruption scheme within the Russian law enforcement system, and who was then mercilessly killed out of revenge.

The investor has succeeded in feeding this narrative to the Western governments and the mainstream media alike, prompting the US to adopt the Magnitsky Act in 2012, which allowed the US to sanction numerous Russian officials and businessmen over alleged human rights violations. Some American allies, including Canada and the UK, later followed suit and passed similar motions, which either allowed the sanctioning of Russian officials or called on their governments to do it.

Yet, the businessman, who has over the years donned the mantle of a human rights campaigner, does not plan to stop at that and is now lobbying for an EU-wide equivalent of the Magnitsky Act, which would allow the banning of Russian officials from the bloc’s countries and the freezing of their accounts.

On the tenth anniversary of the auditor’s death, the German weekly Der Spiegel has decided to take a closer look at Browder’s story about Magnitsky. And the paper found out that the narrative doesn’t quite flow as smoothly as Western politicians and the MSM would like it to.

No hero

The whistleblower image Browder has built for Magnitsky starts splitting at the seams from the very beginning, as Browder appears to be dishonest, even in minor details like his claim that Magnitsky was his lawyer, Der Spiegel’s Benjamin Bidder reveals in his investigative bombshell.

The problem is that he was not. The man was an auditor, who was hired by Browder’s company as a tax specialist and then worked in this capacity for years with the US-born British investor. Browder himself had to admit this fact when he was questioned in a US court while seeking to make the US impose sanctions on yet another group of Russian entrepreneurs.

Magnitsky’s role as a whistleblower also comes into question as the deceased auditor’s former lawyer confirmed to Der Spiegel’s Bidder that his client had, in fact, been summoned by Russian investigators to provide testimony in a tax evasion case that opened at least months before he came up with his corruption allegations.

Other documents obtained by Der Spiegel, including Magnitsky’s unpublished emails, also suggest that Magnitksy acted not of his own volition but on the instructions of Browder’s senior lawyer, at a time when the Russian authorities had already been investigating dubious letterbox companies Browder supposedly had used in his tax evasion scheme for years.

Finally, the records of Magnitsky’s interrogation, released by Browder’s own people on the internet and seen by Der Spiegel, show that he’d never explicitly accused Russian police officers Artyom Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov, whom Browder declared to be the masterminds behind the supposed corruption affair, and ultimately behind the auditor’s murder.

This fact was also implicitly confirmed by a UK court, which issued a ruling on a libel lawsuit filed by Karpov against Browder in 2012. Although the court ruled that Karpov simply had no prior reputation to defend in the UK and rejected his claim, it still called Browder a “storyteller,” arguing that he could not even come “close to substantiating his allegations with facts.” The British media, however, presented the verdict as a resounding victory for Browder.

No murder

The German weekly also found similar inconsistencies in the story of the auditor’s supposed murder, as told by Browder. In his claims, the businessman constantly refers to a report by the Moscow Public Monitoring Commissions (PMC) – an independent, non-governmental body consisting of rights advocates that conducted its own thorough investigation into Magnitsky’s death.

Browder maintains that Magnitsky was deliberately murdered. Yet, the commission’s report, which is still freely available on its website, contains no claim of this sort. The commission does decry the harsh jail conditions which the auditor was kept in, and accuses the Russian authorities of failing to fulfil its duty to protect his life. However, it says nothing of murder.

It is not just the text of this report that Browder has apparently distorted, though. In August, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a ruling on Magnitsky’s case, ordering Russia to pay his widow and mother €34,000 ($38,000) in damages.

Browder was quick to hail this decision as “destroying the Russian government’s narrative” and proving that “the Russian government murdered Magnitsky.” However, it would seem Browder’s own narrative was dealt a blow instead.

The ECHR never even mentioned the word “murder” in its ruling. Instead it said that Russia basically failed “to protect Mr Magnitsky’s right to life” by providing inadequate medical care and failed “to ensure an effective investigation into the circumstances of his death.”

It even concluded that Magnitsky’s arrest “was not arbitrary, and that it was based on reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence” – though it did also say there was no “justification” for his lengthy pre-trial detention.

Buying into convenient narrative

In his investigative report, Der Spiegel’s Benjamin Bidder eventually concludes that, although Magnitsky might have fallen victim to some “gruesome injustice,” his image is still far from that painted by Browder in his efforts to pit Russia and the West against each other.

“A question arises whether there has ever been a perfidious political murder plot or the West simply was made to buy into the lie of a fraudster.”

The journalist says that Browder’s “justice for Magnitsky” campaign might have, in fact, been part of his own “personal revenge” on Russia, one that uses the auditor’s fate as fuel for an “argumentative perpetual motion” that helps the businessman himself stay afloat in the sea of Western politics.

Yet, there is another question that needs to be asked: Why did Western politicians and the media support Browder’s narrative so eagerly, without even fact-checking it first? The answer is simple.

According to Bidder, Browder is “so successful because his narrative seems to fit perfectly with the devastating image” that Russia has in the West, making it much more convenient for the media to just toe the line instead of questioning it.

Also on

Tycoon who pushed Magnitsky Act warns EU minister that opposing Russia-bashing is ‘career ruining’

CNN enlists help of fraudster Browder & Integrity Initiative ‘experts’ to fan Russia meddling claims in UK

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Bereft of soft power, India stands diminished in Hindu Kush and Central Asia

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | November 24, 2019

The dichotomy between the regime policy and public opinion is nowhere near as sharp as in the world of diplomacy. And nowhere in the contemporary situation is this maxim so sharply visible as in the dalliance of the West Asian oligarchies with Israel. The romance began at least a decade ago — perhaps, more — but it still remains an illicit affair.

Israel would have liked an open relationship. It has a lot to gain thereby. But that’s possible only when pigs fly. The reason is that the authoritarian rulers of Muslim Middle East are acutely conscious of the so-called ‘Arab Street’. This may seem a paradox — that oligarchies need to be mindful of popular opinion — but, in actuality, they do not enjoy such a big leeway as one imagines to trample upon public opinion to the extent that strong elected leadership would have.

When they defy or ignore public opinion, it must be for weighty reasons — mostly, when existential issues are involved such as the regime’s survival, for instance. Israel doesn’t fall into that exceptional category — it is not as if without a relationship with Israel, the Arab oligarchies would face extinction. The dalliance between the Arab regimes and Israel is characterised by pragmatism rather than principles or critical imperatives. So long as Israel lacks any ‘soft power’ in its Arab neighbourhood and the ‘Arab Street’ views it negatively, the hands of the authoritarian rulers are tied. They can go only thus far, and no further. In turn, it severely limited the relationship.

The Indian leadership should realise the limitations of pragmatic external relations in diplomacy. There is no gainsaying the fact that India’s ‘soft power’ is depleting at an alarming rate. The acolytes of the Modi government do not seem to care and even those amongst the few amongst them who are erudite enough to comprehend the significance of what is happening tend to put on an air of defiance or studied indifference — or worse still, become polemical.

The External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s recent remark that Imperial Britain divested India of $44 trillion is a typical remark. Faced with the quandary of searing criticism in Britain regarding the J&K situation, he takes a de tour to malign Britain. (How this round figure of $44 trillion has been arrived at is another matter — even if one doesn’t want to get into the modernisation of India under British rule that made the evolution of the Indian state as a political entity possible.)

Today, ‘soft power’ is no longer in vogue in the Indian diplomatic toolbox. The obsession with ‘macho’ image is so overpowering. Under the Modi government, the accent on ‘soft power’ began with a bang in 2014 and is quite visibly ending after five years with a whimper.

A number of mistakes have been made during the past 5-year period that dented India’s ‘soft power’ (which one doesn’t want to go into there). But it is the appalling situation in the Kashmir Valley that dealt a body blow to India’s image.

An opinion is steadily gaining ground in the Muslim countries in India’s ‘extended neighbourhood’ that the Modi government is adopting state policies that are decidedly ‘anti-Muslim’. Even the elites in friendly countries such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia or Turkey, who are by no means ‘Islamist’ tend to see Kashmir as a ‘Muslim issue.’

A recent opinion piece in the influential US magazine Foreign Policy is entitled Kashmir Could Wreck India’s Reputation Among Afghans. It is a nuanced analysis — by no means ‘anti-Indian’ — of how Afghan public opinion, which is traditionally friendly, is discernibly getting disenchanted with India’s repression of Kashmiri Muslims.

This is a depressing scenario, because ‘soft power’ has been historically the bedrock of India-Afghan relations, and for that reason, Delhi under successive governments right from 1947, placed great emphasis on people-to-people relations between the two countries.

Certainly, our diplomacy will be by far diminished if the Afghans perceive us as no different from Pakistan — pursuing cold, pitiless geopolitical objectives in their country. It is small comfort that Afghans will probably continue to view India as a ‘stabilising factor’.

To quote Hari Prasad, the author of the article, “The positions of political actors in Afghanistan have ranged from neutral to explicitly pro-India, primarily for India’s support for the Afghan government as well as anti-Pakistan animus. But our discussions with journalists and Afghans in the region show the popular reaction is decidedly more nuanced. Many working-class Afghans, drawing from their own experiences of conflict and oppression, identify with Kashmir’s Muslims.”

The analysis makes the foreboding conclusion: “Afghans are closely watching the actions of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in Kashmir and throughout the region. That should be a reality check for New Delhi; its courting of Afghan opinion can only go so far. India may have the funding and power to shape public opinion and support in Afghanistan, but it will take much more to overcome growing mistrust.”   

If the changing perceptions regarding India are such in Afghanistan, can it be any different in the Central Asian region? The people in the steppes are, if anything, far more deeply immersed in Islamic culture, ethos and identity than Afghans, given the historical reality that their region was also the cradle of Islam in its golden era.

The Uzbeks, for instance, take great pride that Babur set out from Fergana, which, incidentally, has a museum dedicated to Babur. One of the most evocative historical monuments in Kabul is the Bagh-e Babur (Garden of Babur), the final resting place that the great emperor chose for himself — rather than Agra.

Even if Delhi were to build half a dozen parliament buildings in Kabul, Afghans will continue to treasure the Bagh-e Babur as the living monument to their abiding links with India.

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | Leave a comment

OPCW report on Douma chemical incident omitted & misrepresented key facts, leaked email by dissenting inspector shows

RT | November 24, 2019

An internal OPCW email indicates that the chemical weapons watchdog’s leadership doctored a report on the 2018 Douma incident to bring it in line with West-favored claim that it was an attack by the Syrian government.

A newly published internal email seriously undermines the justification for the show of force conducted by the US, Britain and France in response to the alleged attack. The three NATO allies unleashed barrages of cruise missiles at targets in Syria, which they claimed to be involved in producing chemical weapons.

In April 2018, a chemical weapons attack was reported in Douma, Syria, with dozens of civilians allegedly killed. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) sent a fact-finding mission to the site, although the inspection was stalled by fighting between radical jihadists, who controlled Douma at the time of the incident, and the Syrian government forces. Nevertheless, evidence was eventually collected and the OPCW produced a report that all but pinned the blame for the attack on Damascus.

An internal email sent by one of the inspectors in that team indicates that the management of the organization seriously modified the document, totally omitting facts that didn’t fit the anti-Damascus narrative and misreporting others to fit it. The email was released by whistleblower site WikiLeaks and covered by several leading European publications, including La Repubblica in Italy, Stundin in Iceland, Der Spiegel in Germany, and the Mail on Sunday in the UK.

The email sent by the inspector, whose name was redacted, outlines several instances, in which facts discovered by the team had been distorted or suppressed in a draft OPCW report, resulting in “an unintended bias” of the resulting text.

One objection related to saying that the team discovered sufficient evidence that chlorine gas was likely released from two cylinders found at two locations in Douma. The actual evidence pointed to the presence of one or several chlorine-containing chemicals. It might have been the gas, but it could as well be something other like chlorine-based bleach.

Another complaint was about overstating the levels of chlorinated organic derivatives found in the environment. “They were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities,” the email states.

The compounds in question are a tell-tale sign of reactive chlorine that can be found long after the toxic chemical itself has dissipated, which was relevant in this case because the fact-finding mission reached Douma weeks after the incident.

The changes made in the report also point to the cylinders as the likely source of the chlorine gas. The inspectors who wrote the original report “purposely emphasized” that though it may be the case that they found insufficient evidence to affirm the theory. “It is possible the error was simply a typo. This is a major deviation from the original report,” the inspector wrote.

One of the major omissions deals with inconsistency between the victims’ symptoms as reported by witnesses or shown in footage of the purported attack and those that people affected by chlorine gas are supposed to have. Dropping that section “has a serious negative impact on the report as this section is inextricably linked to the chemical agent identified,” the email said.

Another objection refers to parts of the original report describing the placement of the cylinders and the damage found on them and in the area, which were “are essentially absent from the redacted report.” The prevailing narrative was that the cylinders were dropped from the air by government forces. An engineering assessment penned by OPCW inspector Ian Henderson, which was leaked earlier in May, said the evidence could not support this scenario and had been suppressed by the OPCW.

The email is consistent with what an OPCW whistleblower earlier told an expert panel by the Courage Foundation last month. It also gives credence to a scolding story in CounterPunch, which said Robert Fairweather, the chief of cabinet of then-Inspector General Ahmet Uzumcu, of being the driving force behind the alterations.

CounterPunch apparently cites the same internal email as well as claims by a whistleblower, who said Fairweather allowed three US officials to have an impact on the drafting process. The Americans pressured the OPCW into blaming the Syrian government. The organization leadership then decided it needed to include a ‘smoking gun’ in the final report the whistleblower said.

Fairweather is the recipient of the email, though interestingly his name was redacted by the Mail on Sunday for unclear reasons. The British newspaper, however, provided some additional details into how the preparation of the report happened. It said four increasingly censored versions of the document had been produced as OPCW management fought off dissenting voices among the scientists. The final version was released in March this year.

Also on

Leaked OPCW memo casts doubt on watchdog’s Douma ‘chemical attack’ conclusions

OPCW put lid on key evidence in Douma chemical incident – watchdog whistleblower

‘Highly likely’ is the new evidence: Five times Western officials had no proof but media fell for it

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

‘Window is closing’: US Senate makes last-ditch effort to ax Nord Stream 2 pipeline

RT | November 24, 2019

After failing to persuade allies in Europe to scrap the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to transport natural gas from Europe to Russia, US lawmakers are planning to roll a new batch of sanctions into a defense spending bill.

The sanctions against the companies involved in the project have been included in the draft 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch told Defense News on Saturday that the legislation essentially mimics the last anti-Nord Stream bill – the so-called Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act – which was approved by the committee in July but then got stuck in procedural hurdles.

“The reason for the push is that this window is closing. A lot of Nord Stream is done already,” Risch said, hoping that the sanctioned companies working with the Russians “will shut down,” should the sanctions scheme take effect.

The clock is ticking indeed: the pipeline, designed to deliver natural gas from Russia through the Black Sea to Germany and other buyers in Europe, is expected to start operating in mid-2020. Denmark, which was the last country on the route of the pipeline to approve the project, had greenlighted Nord Stream 2 last month.

This stirred something of a panic in anti-Russian circles in the West, with the Atlantic Council publishing an article poignantly titled ‘Three months left to kill Nord Stream 2’ this week. Same sentiment was voiced by Senator Ted Cruz on Saturday, who tweeted that “time is running out for the US to act.”

The US officials have long attempted to torpedo the project, arguing that it would make Europe too dependent on energy supply from Russia. Germany, meanwhile, insists that its powerful economy requires a stable and logistically comfortable supply of natural gas, and Moscow is a suitable, trustworthy partner.

Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed Washington’s concerns that Berlin would grow overdependent on Russia, saying that building a new pipeline from Moscow is part of the country’s efforts to diversify its energy sources.

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

The Bambi Syndrome

Tony Heller | November 22, 2019

The BBC is working hard to misinform British children and make them neurotic cannon fodder for the climate agenda. What is the end game?

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Why Worse Wildfires? Part 1

What’s Natural?

By Jim Steele | Watts Up With That? | November 23, 2019

There are several theories trying to explain the recent uptick in wildfires throughout the western USA. Some scientists blame increased human ignitions. Others suggest accumulating surface fuels due to a century of fire suppression. Others argue landscape changes and invasive grasses have amplified the amount of easily ignited vegetation, while still others blame climate change. What’s the Sage Grouse connection? Like human communities, the Sage Grouse’s habitat is being threatened by fast spreading wildfires, and that increase in bigger wildfires in sagebrush country is due to invading annual grasses, like cheatgrass.

Historically hot dry sagebrush habitat rarely burned (just once every 60-100 years) because slow growing, patchy sagebrush only provides scant surface fuels incapable of supporting large and frequent fires. But the invasion of introduced annual grasses, like cheatgrass, has changed all that. As one wildlife researcher lamented, “The color of Nevada has changed from a sagebrush silver gray to a cheatgrass tawny brown since the 1990s”. Likewise, in the 1800s California’s hills were covered with perennial grasses that stayed green during the summer. Now California’s hills are golden brown as highly flammable annual grasses have taken over.

Cheat grass-dominated sagebrush habitat now burns every 3-5 years, up to 20 times more frequently than historic natural conditions. Extensive research on the effects of cheat grass found habitats with high cheat grass abundance are “twice as likely to burn as those with low abundance, and four times more likely to burn multiple times between 2000-2015.” What makes cheatgrass such a problem?

Invading annual grasses germinate earlier in the season and deprive the later-germinating native grasses of needed moisture. These foreign grasses die after setting seed, leaving highly flammable fuels that can burn much earlier in the year and thus extend the fire season. Eleven of the USA’s 50 biggest fires in last 20 years have been in Great Basin sagebrush habitats, where invasive cheatgrass is spreading. Nevada’s largest fire was the 2018 Martin Fire. Rapidly spreading through the cheat grass, it burned 439,000 acres, a burned area rivaling California’s largest fires in recorded history.

The 2012 Rush Fire was California’s 4th largest fire since 1932, burning 272,000 acres of sagebrush habitat in northeastern California. It then continued to spread burning an additional 43,000 acres in Nevada. The 2018 Carr Fire was California’s 7th largest fire and threatened the town of Redding, California. It started when a towed trailer blew a tire causing its wheel rim to scrape the asphalt. The resulting sparks were enough to ignite roadside grasses. Grassfires then carried the flames into the shrublands and forests, where burning grasses served as kindling to ignite less-flammable trees. Likewise, grasses were critical in spreading northern California’s biggest fires. In southern California, as humans ignite more and more fires, shrublands are being converted to more flammable grasslands.

Wildfire experts classify grasses as 1-hour fine fuels, meaning dead grass becomes highly flammable with just one hour of warm dry conditions. When experts estimate impending fire danger, they calculate the extent of a region’s fine fuels to determine how fast a fire will spread. The amount of small diameter fuels like grasses that can dry out in an hour, as well as twigs and small branches that dry out within 10 to 100 hours of dry weather, determine how fast the winds will spread a fire. It does not matter if it was wet and cool, or hot and dry during previous weeks or years. Just one hour of warm dry fire weather sets the stage for an explosive grass fire. Decades of climate change are totally irrelevant.

Some scientists point out that certain logging practices also spread “invasive grasses”. For that reason, California’s Democrat congressman, Ro Khanna, has been arguing that the U.S. Forest Service policy to clear cut after a wildfire is making California’s forest fires spread faster and burn hotter by increasing the forest floor’s flammable debris. Khanna warns, “Because we don’t have the right science, it is costing us lives, and that is the urgency of getting this right.”

Bad analyses promote bad remedies and blaming climate change has distracted people from real solutions. The “cheatgrass” problem will continue to cause bigger fast-moving fires no matter how the climate changes. But there are several tactics that could provide better remedies. Holistic grazing that targets annual grasses before they set seed is one tactic. Better management of surface fuels via prescribed burns is another, as well as more careful logging practices. And re-seeding habitat with native perennial grasses or sagebrush could help shift the competitive balance away from cheatgrass. In combination with limiting human ignitions, (see part 2), all those tactics may ensure healthy populations of Sage Grouse living alongside safer human communities.

Jim Steele is Director emeritus of San Francisco State’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment