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Venezuela: Guaido Embattled as Opposition Splits over New Corruption Scandal

Deputy Jose Brito and self-proclaimed “interim president” have traded corruption accusations this week. (Archive)
By Lucas Koerner and Ricardo Vaz – Venezuelanalysis – December 5, 2019

Caracas – Venezuela’s right-wing opposition has been beset by internecine strife in recent days following new corruption allegations involving senior anti-government figures.

On Sunday, pro-opposition website Armando.info published an investigative report alleging illicit ties between nine National Assembly (AN) deputies and a Colombian businessman reportedly involved in the Maduro government’s CLAP subsidized food distribution program.

The report named First Justice party deputies Jose Brito, Luis Parra, and Conrado Perez Linares, Richard Arteaga and Guillermo Luces of Popular Will, A New Era’s Chaim Bucaram and William Barrientos, Progressive Advance Deputy Hector Vargas, and Adolfo Superlano, recently expelled from Cambiemos. The majority of the legislators sit on the opposition-led AN’s own comptroller commission.

According to documents obtained by the news site, the lawmakers used their positions to lobby US and Colombian authorities to shield Colombian entrepreneur Carlos Lizcano from sanctions in return for kickbacks.

Lizcano is the owner of Salva Foods, which manages the network of so-called “CLAP Stores” in Venezuela. He has been linked to fellow Colombian businessmen Alex Saab and Alvaro Pulido, who have both been sanctioned by Washington for their alleged ties to the CLAP program.

The revelations have been widely regarded as an embarrassment for National Assembly President Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself “interim president” of Venezuela in January and is recognized by the United States, Colombia, and several dozen other countries.

Immediately responding to the allegations, Guaido denounced “corruption” on the part of his fellow lawmakers and announced an overhaul of the comptroller commission.

“I will not allow corruption to endanger all we have sacrificed for freedom,” he tweeted Sunday.

The AN head’s comments provoked a backlash, with First Justice’s Jose Brito telling reporters on Tuesday that Guaido “does not have moral, ethical or judicial capabilities, because he’s corrupt.”

He also challenged Guaido to prove any wrongdoing on his part, while alleging that people close to the “interim president” were behind the purchase of a night club in Madrid with ill-gotten funds.

“There is a rebellion inside the National Assembly against Guaido, because he’s corrupt,” Brito concluded, adding that 70 deputies have penned a letter to Guaido demanding he render accounts of the February humanitarian aid funds – another scandal implicating the opposition leadership.

On February 23, Washington and the Guaido-led opposition attempted to force “humanitarian aid” across the Venezuelan-Colombian border in a failed bid to oust President Nicolas Maduro.

In June, reports emerged that Guaido’s representatives in Colombia had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for soldiers who had heeded the opposition call to desert on February 23.

Months later, it was revealed that Guaido had crossed into Colombia, ahead of the “humanitarian aid” effort, with the help of infamous paramilitary outfit Los Rastrojos. The opposition leader was seen in videos and pictures with members of the group, which has been accused of drug smuggling, assassinations and extortion.

Both scandals were dragged back into the limelight last week following the announcement that Guaido’s “ambassador” to Bogota, Humberto Calderon Berti, was being replaced.

Calderon, a former minister and president of state oil company PDVSA in the 1980s and ‘90s, later gave an interview to Miami-based anti-government outlet PanamPost in which he blamed hard-right Popular Will leader Leopoldo Lopez for the opposition’s “biggest mistakes.” Lopez was serving a 14-year sentence under house arrest for his responsibility in the violent 2014 opposition protests when he was freed by rogue intelligence personnel during April 30’s failed putsch attempt. He then fled to the Spanish embassy where he has resided since.

The former minister highlighted his “ethical differences” with respect to Juan Guaido and his mentor, Lopez, while also pointing the finger at leading opposition figures for the embezzlement of humanitarian aid funds.

Calderon also commented on another scandal brewing at chemical company Monomeros, Colombian subsidiary of Venezuelan state petrochemical company Pequiven. Monomeros was taken over by the opposition earlier this year, and Calderon accused the main opposition parties of appointing ill-prepared board members and engaging in corrupt practices.

The latest opposition infighting has also garnered a reaction from Maduro government officials. Comptroller General Elvis Amoroso announced that this office is opening an investigation into Guaido and his associates over the alleged misappropriation of state funds.

Meanwhile, National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello commented that the corruption scandals evidence the opposition’s “lack of morals and ethics.”

“Nobody should be surprised that they are trading accusations of corruption, of taking bribes, they even stole humanitarian aid,” Cabello said in a press conference on Monday.

December 7, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 1 Comment

KONE To Put Facial Recognition And Alexa Listening Devices In Elevators

MassPrivateI | December 3, 2019

The good old days of elevator music being a minor distraction is about change.

VentureBeat reports that “elevators of the future will have virtual windows, voice-activated controls, music-streaming, and more.”

KONE’s DX Class, elevators will give security and the buildings owners, unparalleled access to view what is happening inside their elevators.

“Yesterday’s announcement concerned new elevators designed from the get-go with connectivity built in, allowing building owners to remotely control, activate, and deactivate specific services from a central dashboard. The setup includes a dynamic display, acoustics, and lighting that can be used to tailor the ambiance and interior.”

KONE’s “Monitoring Solutions” page also reveals that security and law enforcement can identify elevator riders in real-time. They even went so far as to trademark their real-time elevator spying program. It’s called KONE E-Link:

“With KONE E-Link you can monitor all your elevators and escalators from a single location. It gives you a real-time overview of equipment status, demand, traffic performance, and availability.”

Not only will security and the buildings owners have access to what is going on inside their elevators in real-time, but residents can also use Alexa to call the elevator while they are in their apartments.

VentureBeat’s story revealed that KONE plans to use Alexa and other companies like Robotise and BlindSquare to track people in the elevator.

Putting microphones inside elevators will transform them into Big Brother listening devices that will spy on you and your family.

As CNN reported earlier this year,

“Amazon reportedly employs thousands of full-time workers and contractors in several countries, including the United States, Costa Rica and Romania, to listen to as many as 1,000 audio clips in shifts that last up to nine hours. The audio clips they listen to were described as mundane and even sometimes possibly criminal, including listening to a potential sexual assault.”

Forbes warned that company’s usage of Alexa Guard is much more intrusive than their normal consumer used Alexa because it requires no wake word, is always listening, and cannot be turned off. (To learn more about Alexa Guard, click here.)

Turning elevators into 24/7 listening devices will make everyone long for the good old days when elevators just played bad music.

Kone plans to put facial recognition in elevators

Credit: Times UK

Tomio Pihkala, KONE’s executive vice president said,

“Computer vision is really one of the big things which we are working on quite a lot, Pihkala added. There are many use cases — facial recognition in the context of accessibility is a really obvious one for us.”

As VentureBeat pointed out, KONE has 450,000 customers worldwide. Their “Press Releases” page documents nearly 15 years of acquisitions and installations that would make even the most cynical person cringe.

Some of KONE’s recent contracts are Chicago’s Union Station Tower, the Garden Office Tower in Boston and the City of Kansas City. They are even in a cruise ship called the Harmony of the Seas.

KONE’s “Traffic History Playback” feature is also a major privacy concern for elevator riders.

“The history playback facility is a unique KONE E-Link feature. The need for playback may arise due to suspected misuse, reported incidents, or complaints by tenants. This feature facilitates reruns and study of elevator and escalator operating events and status changes, as if on a video recorder.”

How long does law enforcement or security store elevator video footage for? And are they recording audio?

For those of you who thought smart city surveillance ended the moment you walked inside a building or went on a cruise ship, guess what it doesn’t.  When elevators are being monetized to listen to our conversations and identify us, we all lose.

December 3, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance | | Leave a comment

Prince Andrew – The Right Royal Lizard Tale

The furore around a disposable parasite’s conduct distracts from a REAL investigation into the Epstein case

UK’s Prince Andrew [Youtube]

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | December 1, 2019

The Queen is cancelling Prince Andrews birthday party. It’s big news. Oh, and some charities are declining to work with him.

This is all off the back of his (allegedly) voluntary, stilted and frankly bizarre Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis. The collection of jarring statements, fairly obvious evasions and upper-class waffle has been autopsied to death. We don’t need to go over it again.

In fact, mocking Prince Andrew has become the pastime du jour. Everyone’s doing it. Isn’t it fun to partake? Make a little dig, really throw something back in the face of the establishment?

Really though, shouldn’t we know better?

The voice of the mainstream can NOT be trusted. It is never more important to remember this than when it is telling you what you want to hear.

Everybody should have learned by now, the media – and most especially the BBC – don’t have ANY duty to the truth. They can’t be forced to report something just because it’s true. They actively and willfully ignore true things all the time.

A few years ago 50,000 people marched past television centre, and the BBC simply ignored them all.

When the powers who control mainstream media don’t want to talk about something, it. Doesn’t. Get. Talked. About.

The corollary of this is that when the mainstream media is talking about something it’s for one reason and one reason only – they want to talk about it, because somewhere, somehow an agenda is being served.

What’s the agenda being served here? It’s impossible to know for sure at this stage, but it’s certainly true that while we’re talking about Prince Andrew having sex with a 17-year-old, we’re not talking about REAL paedolphilia.

We’re not talking about orphanages on Jersey or trafficking in Belgium, or Jimmy Savile. And we’re not talking about any of the names in Epstein’s “little black book”.

I’m not minimising or apologising for Prince Andrew’s alleged conduct, but let us recall the age of consent in the UK (and many American States) is 16. Significantly, he’s not being accused of doing anything actually illegal.

Do we really think that this is all the Epstein case boils down to? Is this as dark as the underbelly of the political elite gets?

It is sleazy, it is unseemly, and it is highly unpleasant. But it’s NOT a crime, and it’s certainly not a source of powerful political leverage. Nobody is being blackmailed into line based on this.

You don’t need to fly people to private Islands in the Caribbean to have sex with 17-year-olds. You don’t need to “traffic” legal teenagers in order to find girls willing to have sex with billionaires or royalty.

Clearly there must be something more to Epstein, his goals and his agenda, but none of that is being talked about.

While Andrew is being pilloried, and the BBC is getting plaudits for “hard-hitting” journalism, there are proven cases of institutional paedophilia that are far deeper and darker than anything being discussed by the BBC.

While we’re all laughing at Andrew, we’re forgetting that Prince Charles never gave, and was never asked to give, an interview explaining his “friendship” with Jimmy Savile.

While we’re huffing and puffing over “Royal conduct” and sex with girls of legal age, we’re not talking about the fact there are sitting MPs who were once “affiliated” with groups that campaigned to have the age of consent lowered to 10. We’re forgetting that accusations of REAL paedophilia circulate around many high-profile MPs (usually only after they die).

And, of course, lost in all the fuss about Andrew is the fact Jeffrey Epstein is dead.

It may have been memed into a meaningless catchphrase, but it’s still true – Epstein didn’t kill himself. Not alone, anyway.

Broadly speaking one of only three things can have happened:

He called in some favours and faked his death.
He was allowed/encouraged to commit suicide.
He was outright murdered.

Which of these took place we may never know, but it doesn’t really matter. He’s gone. And wherever or however he’s gone, he didn’t do it alone.

Someone – or a collection of someone’s – helped him on his way, either literally or euphemistically.

Why?

Why is always the most important question, you can tell that because it’s always the one media ignore. We’re never encouraged to wonder why anything happens, to think through motive, risk-reward calculations or basic strategy.

These are the big questions, going unanswered while we all partake of Prince Andrew free-for-all.

The fool of the family used to go into the Army or the Church, but now he’s dressed in motley and thrust in front of the TV cameras to gamble and pratfall to the laughs and jeers of the common man. The individual is sacrificed, but the institution is preserved.

I’ve used the autotomy of lizard tails as a metaphor before, and while it may display a lack of imagination to revisit that particular well, there’s no denying it fits well enough.

Of course there’s a temptation to go after Prince Andrew, he likely deserves it, but if we throw everything behind that, we’re in danger of losing the bigger picture. Like a dog being distracted with a string of sausages.

There’s something much bigger than Prince Andrew at the heart of all this, but we won’t find it if we content ourselves with feasting on the morsels the press are happy to feed us.

December 1, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | | 2 Comments

Trump in Wonderland: Off With His Head?

By Martin Sieff | Strategic Culture Foundation | November 25, 2019

Donald Trump’s millions of detractors without doubt see him as The Mad Hatter: But, no: He’s Alice. The President of the United States has disappeared down the rabbit hole and he’s in Wonderland – Complete with a Red Queen (Nancy Pelosi) shouting “Off with his head!”

The great mistake foreign observers make observing the latest farce in Washington is assuming that there must be some order, rationality and linear logic behind it. There is none. It is Politics According to the Marx Brothers

This is a show trial – incompetently planned and directed with hundreds of crazed scriptwriters: The Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee, their staffs and the salivating Mainstream US Media are writing and rewriting the script as they go along.

If one is to believe the Mainstream Media, who avidly take this bizarre cartoon seriously, enough evidence has already been established to clearly convict Trump of seeking to push an inquiry into the prima facie evidence of corruption on the part of the son of a former vice president and the leading Democratic presidential candidate.

Is this supposed to be criminal or shocking? What is Trump even accused of doing? He is accused of cautiously investigating the possibility of corruption in a sensitive and clearly unstable US ally whose government openly tried to influence the 2016 US presidential election (as Russia did NOT!)

Indeed, top Ukrainian government officials before the 2016 vote openly published opinion articles in the most prestigious US outlets viciously attacking candidate Donald Trump and calling for the election of his opponent Hillary Clinton.

Far from endangering the security of Ukraine and withholding US aid, Trump has unwisely approved a flood of lethal US weapons, most especially Javelin missiles for Kiev.

This massive arms transfer gravely increases the potential threat to the breakaway provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk. It therefore also automatically ratchets up the threat of direct war between the United States and Russia – a danger of inconceivable horror that the “Hate Trump!” and “Hate Russia!” fanatics in Washington are insanely blind to.

The metaphor of the Gadarene Swine is repeatedly overused: But only because it works. It is true. The Hate Trump fanatics in the US Congress and in the US Media are stampeding the human race towards an annihilating nuclear war that nobody else remotely wants.

Trump in a very basic way has no one to blame but himself for this horrendous state of affairs in Wonderland. He surrounded himself with Russia-hating Armchair Warriors from Fiona Hill to John Bolton and Kurt Volker. So he should not be surprised that to a man – and woman – they have betrayed him.

Trump did not try to roll back the dark influence of the Deep State, the Jabberwock monster of his Wonderland. So he should not be surprised that now the Deep State Jabberwock is once again trying to eat him.

Former US Ambassador to Kiev Marie Jovanovich and former National Security Council official Alexander Vindman both consistently and relentlessly supported the illegal gangster regime in Kiev which only took power by a violent coup in 2014 by toppling the democratically elected president of the nation.

Yet Jovanovich and Vindman have never been held to account for their double standards and betrayal of their primary loyalty to the government of the United States. They know they are safe: They live in Wonderland, where treason is patriotism and loyalty to the law and Constitution of the Nation is the most unforgivable of crimes.

For it is the Elected President of the United States who sets all foreign policy: Or at least is supposed to. And it is the diplomatic and security apparatus of the United States that is presumed to implement that policy loyally and without questioning it.

Also, all ambassadors explicitly serve at the pleasure of the president and Trump should have fired Jovanovich as soon as he took office. She had been appointed by his predecessor Barack Obama, with the blessing of his own foreign policy guru, Polish-American and Russia-hating former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski to implement a policy that Trump was explicitly elected to abandon – reckless, potentially highly dangerous unconditional US support for the unstable coup government in Kiev.

But none of this matters: We are Inside the Beltway and Down the Rabbit Hole. We are in Washington. And Washington is Wonderland. Lewis Carroll and his Alice would have understood immediately.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Finally Charged and Lacking a Mandate to Govern, Netanyahu’s Days are Numbered

By Jonathan Cook – The National – November 25, 2019

The decision to indict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on three separate criminal counts pushes the country’s already unprecedented electoral stalemate into the entirely uncharted territory of a constitutional crisis.

There is no legal precedent for a sitting prime minister facing a trial – in Netanyahu’s case, for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was charged with corruption in 2009 but only after he had resigned from office.

Israeli commentators are already warning of the possibility of civil war if, as seems likely, Netanyahu decides to whip up his far-right supporters into a frenzy of outrage. After a decade in power, he has developed an almost cult-like status among sections of the public.

The honorable thing would be for Netanyahu to step down quickly, given that the two elections he fought this year ended in deadlock. Both were seen primarily as plebiscites on his continuing rule.

He is now the country’s caretaker prime minister, in place until either a new government can be formed or an unprecedented third election is held.

His departure would end months of governmental near-paralysis. The path would then be clear for a successor from his Likud party to negotiate a deal on a right-wing unity government with rival Benny Gantz, a former army general.

Gantz’s Blue and White party has made it a point of principle not to forge an alliance with Netanyahu.

Previous experience, however, suggests that Netanyahu might prefer to tear the house down rather than go quietly. If he is allowed to press ahead with another election in March, he is likely to stoke new levels of incitement against his supposed enemies.

Until now, the main target of his venom has been a predictable one.

During the April and September campaigns, he railed relentlessly against the fifth of Israel’s citizenry who are Palestinian as well as their elected representatives in the Joint List, the third largest faction in the Knesset.

Shortly before last Thursday’s indictment was announced, Netanyahu was at it again, holding an “emergency conference”. He told supporters that a minority government led by Gantz and propped up from outside by the Joint List would be a “historic national attack on Israel”. The Palestinian minority’s MPs, he said, “want to destroy the country”.

Such a government, he added, would be an outcome “they will celebrate in Tehran, in Ramallah and in Gaza, as they do after every terror attack”.

This repeated scaremongering had an obvious goal: rallying the Jewish public to vote for his far-right, now overtly anti-Arab coalition. The hope was that he would win an outright majority and could then force through legislation conferring on him immunity from prosecution.

Now he appears to have run out of time. After three years of investigations and much foot-dragging, the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, has finally charged him.

According to the Israeli media, Netanyahu turned down opportunities for a plea bargain that would have seen him resign in return for avoiding jail time.

According to the most serious allegation, he is accused of granting media tycoon Shaul Elovich benefits worth $500 million in exchange for favourable coverage.

Weighed against the crimes he and other Israeli leaders have perpetrated over many decades against the Palestinians in the occupied territories, the offences he is indicted for seem relatively minor.

Nonetheless, if found guilty, Netanyahu faces a substantial prison sentence of up to 10 years. That makes the stakes high.

All the signs now are that he will switch his main target from Israel’s Palestinian minority to the legal authorities pursuing him.

His first response to the indictment was to accuse the police and state prosecutors of an “attempted coup”, claiming they had fabricated the evidence to “frame” him. “The time has come to investigate the investigators,” he urged.

As one Blue and White official told the veteran Israeli reporter Ben Caspit: “Netanyahu will not hesitate to sic [unleash] his supporters on those institutions of government that represent the rule of law. He has no inhibitions.”

Technically the law allows a prime minister to continue serving while under indictment and before a trial, which is still many months away. Assuming Netanyahu refuses to resign, the courts will have to rule on whether this privilege extends to a caretaker leader unable to form a new government.

Netanyahu is therefore likely to focus his attention on intimidating the supreme court, already cowed by a decade of tongue-lashing from the Israeli right. Critics unfairly accuse the court of being a bastion of liberalism.

But bigger dangers may lie ahead. Netanyahu needs to keep his own Likud party in line. If its members sense he is finished, there could be a rapid collapse of support and moves towards an attempt to overthrow him.

The first hints of trouble emerged on Saturday when Gideon Saar, Netanyahu’s most likely challenger in Likud, accused him of “creating an atmosphere of chaos” by denigrating the legal authorities.

After the failure by both Gantz and Netanyahu to put together a coalition, the task was passed last week to parliament. Its members have just over a fortnight left to see whether one of their number can rally a majority of MPs.

This brief window could provide an opportunity for Saar to move against Netanyahu. On Sunday he submitted an official request for the Likud party to hold a snap leadership race.

Observers fear that to allay this danger, Netanyahu might consider not only inflaming his base but also setting the region alight with a conflict to rally the rest of the public to his side and make his removal impossible.

In fact, the Israeli media reported that shortly before September’s election, he had tried to pull precisely such a stunt, preparing a war on Gaza to justify postponing the ballot.

He was stopped at the last minute by Mandelblit, who realised that the cabinet had been misled into approving military action. Netanyahu had allegedly concealed from them the fact that the military command was opposed.

In recent weeks, Netanyahu has stoked severe tensions with Gaza by assassinating Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Baha Abu Al Atta. Last week he launched airstrikes on Iranian positions in Syria.

When Olmert was being investigated for corruption in 2008, Netanyahu sagely warned of the dangerous confusion of interests that might result. “He will make decisions based on his own interests of political survivability rather than the national interest,” he said.

And that is precisely the reason why many in Israel are keen to see the back of Netanyahu – in case his instinct for political survival trumps the interests of stability in the region.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 3 Comments

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

Barr Ends All Conspiracy Theories Forever By Saying Epstein Died Via A Series Of Coincidences

By Caitlin Johnstone – Medium – November 22, 2019

In an interview with Associated Press, US Attorney General William Barr put all conspiracy theories to rest once and for all by assuring the world that alleged sex trafficker and alleged billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s death was simply the result of a very, very, very long series of unfortunate coincidences.

“I can understand people who immediately, whose minds went to sort of the worst-case scenario because it was a perfect storm of screw-ups,” Barr told AP on Thursday.

This perfect storm of unlucky oopsies include Epstein being taken off suicide watch not long after a previous suicide attempt and shortly before his successful suicide, suggestions that the first attempt may have actually been an assault via attempted strangulation inflicted by someone else, two security guards simultaneously falling asleep on the job when they were supposed to be checking on Epstein, one of those guards not even being an actual security guard, security footage of two cameras outside Epstein’s cell being unusable due to a mysterious technical glitch, at least eight Bureau of Prisons officials knowing Epstein wasn’t meant to be left alone in his cell and leaving him alone in his cell anyway, Epstein’s cellmate being transferred out of their shared space the day before Epstein’s death, Epstein signing a will two days before his death, unexplained injuries on Epstein’s wrists and shoulder reported by his family after the autopsy, and a forensic expert who examined Epstein’s body claiming that his injuries were more consistent with homicide than suicide.

“The attorney general also sought to dampen conspiracy theories by people who have questioned whether Epstein really took his own life, saying the evidence proves Epstein killed himself,” AP reports. “He added that he personally reviewed security footage that confirmed that no one entered the area where Epstein was housed on the night he died.”

Well if reporting that he’s reviewed footage which we were previously told didn’t exist isn’t enough to dampen those kooky conspiracy theories, I don’t know what is.

So there you have it. The US government says that an intelligence asset with damning information on many powerful individuals did in fact kill himself due to an admittedly bizarre and wildly unlikely series of strange coincidences. I for one have no more questions. Checkmate, conspiracy theorists.

“Mr. Epstein’s death in August at a federal detention center in Manhattan set off a rash of unfounded conspiracy theories on social media that were picked up and repeated by high-profile figures, including Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. No matter their ideology, the refrain of the theories was the same: Something did not add up,” says The New York Times in its report Barr’s statements.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a completely unfounded conspiracy theory to believe that someone with ties to powerful institutions and individuals might be murdered in a way that was made to look like a suicide. We don’t live in a world where opaque organizations do evil things in secret, we live in a world where the government is always our friend and the TV would never lie to us. I’m glad these comments made by Barr (whose father in another strange coincidence gave Epstein his first job) have at long last struck a fatal blow to anyone who would doubt the beneficent hand of our beloved institutions.

It’s hard to imagine what more the US government and its allied political/media class could possibly do to quell conspiracy theories that now have Hollywood celebrities clamoring for government internet censorship. I guess if they really, really wanted to dampen conspiracy theories, there are a few more extremely drastic steps that could be taken. Steps like not lying all the time. And maybe not hiding immense amounts of information about what the most powerful institutions in the world are doing behind thick walls of government opacity. And maybe cease promoting conspiracies themselves, as with Russiagate. And maybe stop secretly doing depraved things. And maybe stop engaging in conspiracies.

Pretty sure Barr’s assurances will be enough to do the trick, though.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | | 9 Comments

What Does PDVSA Have to Do with the Crisis in Haiti?

By Clodovaldo Hernandez – Supuesto Negado – November 7, 2019

Haiti has been on fire for weeks, without the so-called ‘international community’ or its associated press paying any attention.

Fuel shortages have plunged the Caribbean country back into social turmoil which borders on civil war. There are many causes behind this dramatic panorama, which has been exasperated by the decrease in production by Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA, corruption scandals in the Caribbean country and relentless US pressure on Venezuela, which have all damaged the PetroCaribe crude oil supply programme, which Haiti was reliant on.

PDVSA’s internal collapse, coupled with the labyrinth of obstacles placed by the US’ unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) against Venezuela, has forced the dismantling of what was one of Commander Hugo Chavez’s most powerful initiatives.

The project is a regional mechanism for selling oil at preferential prices with financing for the residents of the Antillean Basin. Local opposition groups and the Washington-led international coalition have, however, always branded the programme as a way for Venezuela to ensure support in the international arena based on the so-called ‘petro-chequebook.’

Internal corruption

Before the programme was damaged by PDSVA’s fall in production and the blockade [against Venezuela], there were already revelations of financial irregularities by unscrupulous Haitian civil servants and entrepreneurs who took advantage of Venezuelan aid to line their own pockets.

In Haiti, these crimes are particularly outrageous because the programme was conceived as a way of providing financial assistance to the government to address serious internal problems, exacerbated by the 2010 earthquake and five major hurricanes, including Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Under the programme, PetroCaribe delivered crude oil to a state agency called the Monetisation Bureau of Development Aid Programmes, which proceeded to sell it to private Haitian companies. The resulting funds should have been used to rebuild infrastructure, especially in the areas of health, education, housing and roadways, however around US $2 billion is estimated to have been stolen.

The responsibility of Venezuelan officials in this and other Petro Caribe- related corruption cases remains to be seen.

The issue of corruption is so important in the Haitian political debate that in addition to demanding the resignation of pro-US President Jovenel Moise, the opposition and Haitian grassroots movements, which have led the wave of demonstrations in recent months, also demand the prosecution of those involved in irregularities that distorted the initial objectives of the programme. Opposition Deputies Youri Latortue, Moise Jean Charles and Shiller Louidor have been the flag-bearers of these demands.

The political reasons

In parallel, and in accordance with Washington’s instructions, the Haitian government of businessman Jovenel Moise, which is propped up by the US, has preferred to sever its relationship with PetroCaribe, supposedly to distance itself from the influence that revolutionary Venezuela exerted on previous Haitian presidents, such as René Preval and Michel Martelly.

Moise (whose name also appears amongst the list of alleged benefactors from the theft of PetroCaribe funds) was snared with promises that the US would supply the oil that Venezuela would no longer deliver. But that obviously hasn’t happened.

As the country ran out of fuel, what has been described as Haiti’s worst political crisis has erupted. The nation has lived in perennial instability due to, among other reasons, the continued interference of the US in its internal affairs.

Apart from Haiti, the PetroCaribe programme favoured Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Guatemala, Guyana, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Suriname. Guatemala and Belize abandoned the agreement in 2014 and 2017 respectively, and in June 2018 Venezuela announced that it was suspending shipments to all these nations due to a drop in production, with the notable exception of Cuba.

Denouncements of irregularities [in the programme’s funds] were well exploited by Venezuela’s opponents to discredit the project between 2016 and 2018. Simultaneously, the US toured the Caribbean offering to supply US oil extracted through fracking in exchange for support for its aggressive political moves against the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro. Of course, in the US’ case, we aren’t talking about a social programme but rather winning the Caribbean market for its oil corporations, while continuing to strangle Venezuela economically.

In 2018, a Caribbean Energy Security Summit was held in Washington, which mentioned adopting sustainable renewable energy systems for the region. The political purpose, the true one, was later expressed by a spokesman for the US State Department: “That the Caribbean doesn’t increase its debt to the only energy supplier which has attended the region to date.”

PDVSA’s inability to continue honouring the programme, in addition to corruption scandals in countries like Haiti, allowed this goal to be achieved just as the US wished.

Now, the entire Caribbean region once again depends on the savage capitalism’s suppliers , and Haiti’s social protests are one of the first symptoms of this return to the harsh reality.

Clodovaldo Hernández is a Venezuelan journalist who has written for left leaning news sites Supuesto Negado and Aporrea.

Translation by Paul Dobson for Venezuelanalysis.

November 23, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

“The Palace… Threatened Us a Million Different Ways”

By Craig Murray | November 16, 2019

This leaked off-air recording of ABC News anchor Amy Robach is much more revealing than anything the BBC is going to air about Andrew Saxe Coburg Gotha.

Buckingham Palace has been “threatening” journalists to bury the story for years – which is all very reminiscent of Jimmy Savile, who was of course, ahem, popular at the Palace. Robach also states they were scared of losing interview access to folically challenged William Saxe Coburg Gotha and his underweight wife. She does not explicitly state that was one of the “threats” Buckingham Palace employed, but it does follow directly as her next observation.

Amy Robach very probably realised this “unguarded” moment would get out to the public, and we should be grateful to her for lifting the lid on how the protection of the crimes of the powerful operates, on a global level. Alan Dershowitz, whom Robach mentions, was not only a Lolita Express passenger, he is the celebrity lawyer who defended the CIA‘s use of torture as legally and morally justified. One might speculate on the psychological parallels of torturing the defenceless and inflicting sex on the young.

There is overwhelming evidence that Virginia Roberts Giuffre was trafficked into the UK by Epstein for sex with Prince Andrew. There are flight logs. There is that compromising photo in Ghislaine Maxwell’s flat. Both are entirely consistent with, and strongly corroborate, Virginia’s own testimony. This instance occurred in the UK.

It ought to be a matter of deep national disgrace that neither Ghislaine Maxwell nor “Prince” Andrew has been questioned over by the Metropolitan Police over this sex trafficking. That Virginia was over 16 is not the issue. She was sex trafficked into the UK and not legally adult. Why is there not a massive media clamour for Scotland Yard to investigate?

Amy Robach has the answer to that question.

Hat Tip to projectveritas

November 16, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Epstein Story Killed by ABC in 2015: Was It Done to Protect the Clintons?

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | November 14, 2019

The saga of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who may or may not have committed suicide in his jail cell in August, goes on and on as cover stories and out-and-out lies continue to surface, mostly coming from the alternative media which clearly do not share the reticence of their mainstream competitors. The most recent revelation concerns ABC news, which had the goods on Epstein and his activities three years ago but refused to run the story, apparently due to pressure coming from some of those prominent individuals who were implicated in Epstein’s procuring of young girls for sex.

The tale of cowardice and cover-up goes something like this: ABC anchor Amy Robach did an interview in 2015 with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims. Giuffre revealed that she had been forced by Epstein and his procurer Ghislaine Maxwell to have sex with numerous men, including Prince Andrew, Britain’s Duke of York. She claimed that she had had sex with the prince three times while underage. She also apparently provided photos and other documentary evidence to back up her story. The piece was set to run on ABC News but the network’s editors and senior management intervened at the last minute to stop it.

That would have ended the tale but for the fact that Robach complained to a colleague about the killing of her interview, apparently shortly after the Epstein story became nationwide news earlier this year. She did so in front a live microphone and video camera, which recorded her as she vented. A clearly frustrated Robach said “I’ve had this story for three years. I’ve had this interview with Virginia [Giuffre]. We would not put it on the air. First of all, I was told, ‘who’s Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.’ Then the Palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways.”

That recording recently surfaced at alternative media site Project Veritas, apparently having been provided by a former ABC employee. Robach’s claim that her story had been suppressed due to pressure coming from Britain’s Royal Family was emphasized in the subsequent media coverage of the recording. For what it’s worth, Prince Andrew has denied having “any form of sexual contact or relationship” with Giuffre and ABC News has said that there is “zero truth” to the claim. Buckingham Palace has responded by avoiding a response, stating that “this is a matter for ABC.”

Now it is true that the allegations about Prince Andrew would have been a huge embarrassment for Buckingham Palace, but the prince has not long been referred to in the British media as “randy Andy” for nothing, so the damage was certainly containable. And it is also apparently true that ABC News President James Goldston has something of a close relationship with Britain’s Royal Family, but somehow the story is not completely credible.

One should pay attention to the fact that Robach also said that her interview with Giuffre had included allegations regarding former US President Bill Clinton and litigious Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. She said “I tried for three years to get it out to no avail, and now these new revelations and — I freaking had all of it. I’m so pissed right now. Like, every day I get more and more pissed, ’cause I’m just like, ‘Oh my God! It was — what we had, was unreal.’ ”

Now consider this: Robach might well believe that her story was scrubbed because of the British Royal Family, which is quite possibly what she was told by her bosses, but unless she was on the phone with a talkative butler at Buckingham Palace, how could she possibly know that that was true? The Brits are hardly so esteemed in the United States that any editor would pull a sensational story because it might be considered offensive to a Royal. If one thinks about it, it is far more likely that the story was deep sixed due to the involvement of someone dear to the hearts of every Democratic Party leaning media editor in New York City, and that would be Bill Clinton, who flew on Epstein’s Lolita Express 26 times. If there is one thing that is for sure it is that even if the House of Windsor is capable of getting back at you a million ways, you could multiply that number by ten in reckoning how lethal crossing the Clintons can be.

And there was also pressure from Dershowitz, one of Epstein’s legal advisers, who contacted ABC News in 2015 before the interview was set to be broadcast. He pressured the network to cancel the program and was able to speak to several producers and an attorney in a series of calls.

And sure enough, the cover up of the cover up started immediately after the video surfaced. Robach explained that she had been “… caught in a private moment of frustration” when the Epstein story hit the mainstream media during the summer. And she even went so far as to scold herself with what must be the line of defense being pursued by ABC Corporate’s lawyers, saying that she had been “upset that an important interview I had conducted with Virginia Roberts didn’t air because we could not obtain sufficient corroborating evidence. My comments about Prince Andrew and her allegation that she had seen Bill Clinton on Epstein’s private island were in reference to what Virginia Roberts said in that interview in 2015. I was referencing her allegation – not what ABC News had verified through our reporting. The interview itself, while I was disappointed it didn’t air, didn’t meet our standards. In the years since no one ever told me or the team to stop reporting on Jeffrey Epstein, and we have continued to aggressively pursue this important story.”

To the casual observer, Robach’s venting and her subsequent apologia sound like two different people talking and only one might be telling the truth. The reality in the national media is that some stories are just too hot to touch for political reasons, which explains why the three Clintons continue to get a pass on their own behavior and are even given platforms in the press to spew nonsense like Hillary’s recent demented attack on Tulsi Gabbard.

And then there is the Epstein story itself, which has generally speaking been made to go away. One might well ask why no one from the FBI has even questioned Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s procurer and partner in his disgusting crimes, and also likely an Israeli agent. And you can search the mainstream media in vain seeking a Fourth Estate demand for an inquiry into Epstein’s intelligence relationships. Miami federal prosecutor Alexander Acosta was told to back off the first time Epstein was arrested in Florida because there was an intelligence connection and it has now been confirmed that he worked with the Jewish state’s military intelligence as early as the 1980s. His main task was to blackmail prominent Americans on behalf of Israel. How many brain cells does it take to pursue that lead? Ask Acosta who told him that and why and then ask the same thing of whoever that turns out to be. Keep working your way up the food chain and eventually you will maybe find out the truth, or at least a version of it.

November 14, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | 2 Comments

Legacy of Climategate – 10 years later

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | November 12, 2019

My reflections on Climategate 10 years later, and also reflections on my reflections of 5 years ago.

Last week, an email from Rob Bradley reminded me of my previous blog post The legacy of Climategate: 5 years later. That post was the last in a sequence of posts at Climate Etc. since 2010 on Climategate; for the entire group of posts, see  [link]  Rereading these was quite a blast from the past.

While I still mention Climategate in interviews, the general reaction I get is ‘yawn . . . old hat . . . so 2010 . . . nothingburger . . . the scientists were all exonerated . . . the science has proven to be robust.’ I hadn’t even thought of a ’10 years later’ post until Rob Bradley’s email.

Now I see that, at least in the UK, the 10 year anniversary looks to be rather a big deal. Already we are seeing some analyses published in the mainstream media:

Two starkly different perspectives. While I personally think Delingpole’s article is a superb analysis, it would not surprise me if the ‘establishment’ media in the UK is looking to rewrite history and cement the ‘exoneration,’ especially with this forthcoming one hour BBC special Climategate: Science of a Scandal, set to air November 14.

According to Cliscep  (not sure what the source of this information is), McKitrick and McIntyre were both interviewed for the BBC special, but apparently McKitrick was cut completely. Lets see how they edit McIntyre.

Exoneration?

The mainstream media and the Climategater scientists themselves claim complete exoneration by the various ‘inquiries’. Were they exonerated?

There was no exoneration by any objective analysis of the various inquiries. Ross McKitrick lays all this out in his article Understanding the Climategate Inquiries 

“The evidence points to some clear conclusions.

  1. The scientists involved in the email exchanges manipulated evidence in IPCC and WMO reports with the effect of misleading readers, including policymakers. The divergence problem was concealed by deleting data to “hide the decline.” The panels that examined the issue in detail, namely Muir Russell’s panel, concurred that the graph was “misleading.” The ridiculous attempt by the Penn State Inquiry to defend an instance of deleting data and splicing in other data to conceal a divergence problem only discredits their claims to have investigated the issue.
  2. Phil Jones admitted deleting emails, and it appears to have been directed towards preventing disclosure of information subject to Freedom of Information laws, and he asked his colleagues to do the same. The inquiries largely fumbled this question, or averted their eyes.
  3. The scientists privately expressed greater doubts or uncertainties about the science in their own professional writings and in their interactions with one another than they allowed to be stated in reports of the IPCC or WMO that were intended for policymakers. Rather than criticise the scientists for this, the inquiries (particularly the House of Commons and Oxburgh inquiries) took the astonishing view that as long as scientists expressed doubts and uncertainties in their academic papers and among themselves, it was acceptable for them to conceal those uncertainties in documents prepared for policy makers.
  4. The scientists took steps individually or in collusion to block access to data or methodologies in order to prevent external examination of their work. This point was accepted by the Commons Inquiry and Muir Russell, and the authors were admonished and encouraged to improve their conduct in the future.
  5. The inquiries were largely unable to deal with the issue of blocking publication of papers, or intimidating journals. But academics reading the emails could see quite clearly the tribalism at work, and in comparison to other fields, climatology comes off looking juvenile, corrupt and in the grip of a handful of self-appointed gatekeepers and bullies.

Is the science concerning the current concerns about climate change sound? Many people, starting with the members of the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, had hoped this question would be answered during the inquiry process, and there is a frequent refrain in the media that the investigations affirmed the science. But the reality is that none of the inquiries actually investigated the science. The one inquiry supposedly set up to address this, namely Lord Oxburgh’s, actually operated under a different remit altogether, despite multiple claims by the UEA that it was a science reappraisal panel.

Over the course of the five reviews, a few complaints were investigated and upheld, such as the problem of data secrecy at the CRU and the misleading nature of the “hide the decline” graph. And the IAC leveled enough serious criticisms about the IPCC process to substantiate concerns that the organization is unsound for the purpose of providing balanced, rigorous science assessments. But many other concerns were left unaddressed, or slipped through the cracks between the inquiries, or were set aside after taking CRU responses at face value.

Steve McIntyre’s Brief submitted for the defendants in one Mann’s lawsuits addresses the key scientific aspects related to Michael Mann’s conduct and hockey stick research:

“Even before the release of the Climategate emails, numerous public concerns were raised about Mann’s conduct. Concerns about Mann’s research included:

  • Mann’s undisclosed use in a 1998 paper (“MBH98”) of an algorithm which mined data for hockey-stick shaped series. The algorithm was so powerful that it could produce hockey-stick shaped “reconstructions” from auto-correlated red noise. Mann’s failure to disclose the algorithm continued even in a 2004 corrigendum.
  • Mann’s failure to disclose adverse verification statistics in MBH98. Mann also did not archive results that would permit calculation of the adverse statistics. Climategate emails later revealed that Mann regarded this information as his “dirty laundry” and required an associate at the Climatic Research Unit (“CRU”) to withhold the information from potential critics.
  • Mann’s misleading claims about the “robustness” of his reconstruction to the presence/absence of tree ring chronologies, including failing to fully disclose calculations excluding questionable data from strip bark bristlecone pine trees.
  • Mann’s deletion of the late 20th century portion of the Briffa temperature reconstruction in Figure 2.21 in the IPCC Third Assessment Report (2001) to conceal its sharp decline, in apparent response to concerns that showing the data would “dilute the message” and give “fodder to the skeptics.” Mann’s insistence in 2004 that “no researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, ‘grafted the thermometer record onto’ any reconstruction. But it was later revealed that in one figure for the cover of the 1999 World Meteorological Organization (WMO) annual report, the temperature record had not only been grafted onto the various reconstructions—and in the case of the Briffa reconstruction, had been substituted for the actual proxy
  • Mann’s undisclosed grafting of temperature data for “Mike’s Nature trick,” a manipulation of data which involved: (1) grafting the temperature record after 1980 onto the proxy reconstruction up to 1980; (2) “smoothing” the data; and (3) truncating the smooth back to 1980. ”

Exoneration? Not even close. However, is all this even relevant anymore? “the science has moved on . . . independently verified . . . 97% consensus . . . 8 warmest years occurred since Climategate’ . . . etc. etc.

So did all this ‘matter’, in the larger scheme of things? During the period 2001 to ~2012, the public debate on climate change rose and fell with the fortunes of the hockey stick: the IPCC TAR (2001) prominently featured the hockey stick, which made the public realize that something unusual was going on; the famous elevator version of the hockey stick in Al Gore’s 2006 documentary; in late 2009, Climategate contributed to derailing the UNFCCC COP15 outcome; and in 2010 was the clincher for the failure of the Waxman-Markey Bill (carbon cap and trade) in the U.S. Senate.

Since about 2014 or so, the public debate on climate change has become less ‘scientized’, with economics, social justice and raw politics taking center stage.

Did climate scientists learn anything from Climategate?

Looking forward, should Climategate matter? Only if scientists failed to learn the appropriate lessons.

At the time of Climategate, I wrote an essay entitled On the credibility of climate research. I raised four key issues: Lack of transparency, climate tribalism, the need for improved analysis and communication of uncertainty, and engagement with ‘skeptics’ and critics of our work.

At the time, I was rather astonished by the failure of climate science ‘leaders’ (apart from the climagaters defending themselves) to make public statements about this and show some leadership.

Interesting insights into the ‘leadership’ void at the time of Climategate are revealed by a tranche of emails obtained by the CEI [link] dated the first half of 2010, involving scientists involved in Climategate emails as well as others who are regarded as the keepers of the IPCC ‘flame’ – e.g. Michael Oppenheimer, Steve Schneider, Gabi Hegerl, Eric Steig, Kevin Trenberth.

It is very interesting to see what they were concerned about in the aftermath of Climategate. They were trying to understand why Climategate was newsworthy, and they were mostly concerned about protecting themselves from the same things that Climategate emails revealed: attacks on scientists’ reputation, ‘skeptics’ getting mentions in the mainstream media, public perceptions of scientists’ credibility, how to convince the public that AGW is ‘real’ with 3 slides in 10 minutes, top 10 list of denialist mistakes.

Steve Schneider perceptively states: “A mega heat wave this summer is worth 3 orders of magnitude more in the PR wars–too bad we have to wait for random events since evidence doesn’t seem to cut it anymore with the MSM.”

In my post Climategate essays, I pointed the way for climate science out of this morass. How was this received by climate scientists? Michael Lemonick’s follow up essay Why I Wrote About Judith Curry to his article Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on her Colleagues,  provides the following insights:

“Simply by giving Judith Curry’s views a respectful airing, I’ve already drawn accusations of being irresponsible — and it’s valid to raise the question of whether giving her any sort of platform is a bad idea.

I also argue, as you’ll see in Scientific American, that the vehement reaction of climate scientists, while perfectly understandable, might be akin to the violent reaction of the human immune system to some bacteria and viruses — a reaction that’s sometimes more damaging than the original microbe.”

Given the huge stakes and the serious structural issues surrounding the assessment of climate science and policy that had emerged from Climategate, these concerns of the climate scientists seem small-minded and naïve, not to mention counter-productive –  ‘circling the wagons’ even tighter made the situation even worse.

Clearly any leadership that might lead climate science out of this morass would have to come from outside the community of climate scientists and probity would need to come from outside of the field of climate science. Climate science subsequently became an important topic in the fields of science and technology studies, philosophy of science, social psychology, law, statistics, computer science and communications.

The broader institutions that support climate science have implemented some improvements post Climategate:

  • The UN IAC review of the IPCC has resulted in some improvements to the IPCC practices of reviewing, conflicts of interest, uncertainty assessment
  • Elite journals now require data to be made publicly available and also conflict of interest statements.

On the downside:

  • Politically correct and ‘woke’ universities have become hostile places for climate scientists that are not sufficiently ‘politically correct’
  • Professional societies have damaged their integrity by publishing policy statements advocating emissions reductions and marginalizing research that is not consistent with the ‘party line’
  • The gate-keeping by elite journals has gotten worse IMO, although the profusion of new journals makes it possible for anyone to get pretty much anything published somewhere.

The main long-term impact of Climategate on climate scientists seems to have been to put a halo around Michael Mann’s head over his ‘victim’ status, giving him full reign to attack in a Trumpian manner anyone who disagrees with him.

Cultural shifts

The social culture surrounding climate change has changed substantially in the past 10 years and even the past 5 years.

10 years ago, the climate blogs were highly influential – the big four were WUWT, Climate Progress, Real Climate and Climate Audit. Climate Progress (subsequently Think Progress ) is now defunct – what the heck happened to Joe Romm? Climate Audit has a very low level of activity. Real Climate publishes posts at a leisurely pace (about the same pace as Climate Etc.). Only WUWT has maintained its pace of publishing and its influence.

At this point, twitter has almost totally eclipsed the climate blogs; this has accelerated in the past 5 years. Also, there are now some not-for-profit organizations that have hired writers on the climate topic, notably Carbon Brief.

Further, a number of climate scientists and scientists in related fields now either have regular columns in the mainstream media (Roger Pielk Jr and Michael Schellenberger at Forbes are notable examples) or write frequent op-eds (e.g. Michael Mann).

Communication of climate science has become a big priority in climate science, although what is judged as desirable and worthy of professional recognition is more often propaganda than ‘science to inform.’

At the time of Climategate, public advocacy by climate scientists of climate policy was generally frowned upon, and only a few senior, well-established scientists dared to do this (e.g. Jim Hansen). At this point, climate scientist/activists are very large in number, and such activism seems to be a ticket to professional success.

With regards to the advocacy groups and think tanks on both sides, the conflicts a decade ago between the environmental advocacy groups (e.g. Greenpeace) and the libertarian groups (e.g. CEI, CATO) seems almost quaint at this point. With the exception of Heartland, GWPF and the newly formed CO2 Coalition, the libertarian groups no longer bother with climate science (even the long standing program at CATO with Pat Michaels no longer exists).

Instead, we have Extinction Rebellion and the Sunrise Movement on one hand, and the Yellow Vests and related movements on the other hand. These are populist movements (although apparently with some big $$ backing, esp for Extinction Rebellion). The zombie stuff of the Extinction Rebellion makes me nostalgic for the relative rationality of Greenpeace versus CEI.

‘Skeptics’ these days are generally defined by ‘lukewarmerism’ (e.g. climate sensitivity on the low end of the IPCC range), a focus on historical and paleo data records, and a focus on natural climate variability. Skeptics frequently cite the IPCC reports. Skeptics generally support nuclear energy and natural gas, but are dubious of rapid expansion of wind and solar and biofuels.

Scientists on the ‘warm’ side of the spectrum think that IPCC is old hat and too conservative/cautious (see esp Naomi Oreskes’ new book); in short, insufficiently alarming. The ‘alarmed’ scientists are focused on attributing extreme weather to AGW (heeding Steve Schneider’s ‘wisdom’), and also in generating implausible scenarios of huge amounts of sea level rise. As a result, consensus of the 97% is less frequently invoked.

Such alarmism by the climate scientists has spawned doomsterism, to the dismay of these same climate scientists – things are so bad that we are all doomed, so why should we bother.

There is also a growing dichotomy on both sides of this between the Boomers and the Millennials/GenZ. On the ‘skeptics’ side, there is a general paucity of younger scientists, with the center of mass being scientists in their 60’s and 70’s (and even older).

On the ‘alarmed’ side, there is a steady stream of younger scientists fueled by propaganda in K-12 and hiring practices and professional rewards in the universities. Some of the younger scientists think that the likes of Michael Mann are too conservative and insufficiently ‘woke’ and unconcerned about social justice objectives. This recent exchange on twitter was particularly illuminating:

Mann: “I share her (Klein’s) concern over each of these societal afflictions, but I wonder at the assertion that it’s not possible to address climate change without solving all that plagues us. My worry is this. Saddling a climate movement with a laundry list of other worthy social programmes risks alienating needed supporters (say, independents and moderate conservatives) who are apprehensive about a broader agenda of progressive social change. The pessimist in me also doubts that we’ll eliminate greed and intolerance within the next decade.”

This elicited the following responses:

Apparently this elicited a 15 hour tweet storm from Mann. P.S. I side with Mann in this particular dispute.

‘Cancel culture’ is also booming, but this is nothing new in the climate arena; the Climategaters plus Naomi Oreskes were pioneers in cancel culture as related to climate scientists or anyone else who doesn’t toe the party line (although the party line is now splitting between boomer alarmists and the Millennials). At the time of Climategate, the cancel efforts were conducted via the ‘back channels’ (e.g. emails); these days they are conducted in the open on twitter. From Hayhoe to Mann on twitter in response to a recently published paper:

“I’m also concerned as I’ve been getting some dismissives citing this. Have you had a chat with Tom about it?”

Social justice has become a major driver in climate policy (e.g. the Green New Deal), increasingly overtaking climate policy in its objectives.

‘Boomer’ Mann has the more defensible position this one. Yes, any policies should avoid making the situation of disadvantaged individuals worse. But seeking to solve the myriad problems of social justice through climate/energy policy is a recipe for accomplishing nothing for either. So Mann and I are in agreement on this one (see spat above with Holthaus).

With all these changes, you’ll be relieved to hear that Climategate lives on in numerous lawsuits that Michael Mann has filed related to criticisms of his behavior related to the hockeystick. Most of these lawsuits continue to languish since they were filed about 8 years ago (although Mann did lose his lawsuit against Tim Ball). With these lawsuits, there is no denying that the impacts of Climategate are still playing out.

Whither the debate on climate change?

I’ll lead off this section with a quote from Delingpole’s recent article:

“Right now, the struggle against this nonsense seems pretty hopeless. But we sceptics do have at least two things on our side – time and economics. Time is doing us a favour by showing that none of the alarmists’ doomsday predictions are coming to pass. Economics – from the blackouts in South Australia caused by excessive reliance on renewables (aka unreliables) to the current riots and demonstrations taking place from France and the Netherlands to Chile over their governments’ green policies – suggest that common sense will prevail in the end. Bloody hell, though – taking its time, isn’t it?”

I’ll extend Delingpole’s sentiments a bit further, to include these additional things that are on the side of an eventual rational outcome to this:

  • Energy engineering realities: for a superb overview, see Michael Kelly’s recent essay Energy Utopias and Engineering Realities
  • Growing concerns about energy reliability and security, e.g. the recent experience of California with massive power shutdowns and blackouts in Australia
  • The climate itself; even with huge 2016 (see this recent overview by Ross McKitrick), the temperatures are not keeping pace with the CMIP5 predictions
  • At some point, a spate of La Nina events, a shift to the cold phase of the AMO, increased volcanic activity, impacts of a solar minimum and another ‘hiatus’ are inevitable; sort of the reverse of what Steve Schneider was waiting for.
  • Most of the CMIP6 climate models have gone somewhat bonkers, with a majority having values of ECS that exceed 4.5C and do a poor job of simulating the temperatures since 1950; makes it difficult to take seriously their 21st century projections

Ideas that are genuinely irrational eventually burn themselves out as reality bites, but we have certainly seen such ideas, policies and politics persist for decades in the past 100 years. Perhaps the information age, the internet and social media will speed this one along.

What’s wrong with current climate/energy policy? This 2013 quote by Hans von Storch sums up it up:

“Unfortunately, some scientists behave like preachers, delivering sermons to people. What this approach ignores is the fact that there are many threats in our world that must be weighed against one another. If I’m driving my car and find myself speeding toward an obstacle, I can’t simple yank the wheel to the side without first checking to see if I’ll instead be driving straight into a crowd of people. Climate researchers cannot and should not take this process of weighing different factors out of the hands of politics and society.”

Common sense approaches to reducing vulnerability to extreme weather events, improving environmental quality, developing better energy technologies, improving agricultural and land use practices, better water management polices and engineering can lead the way to a more prosperous and secure future. Each of these solutions is ‘no regrets’ – make sense however the 21st century climate plays out.

For those that are concerned about social justice: the biggest social justice issue that I see for the 21st century is to provide reliable grid electricity to Africa.

In terms of climate scientists and their influence. The relative sensibility of Boomer scientists (even Michael Mann; although this recent article is slightly nuts) are being eclipsed by the zombie-dom of the Extinction Rebellion and ‘wokeness’.

Regarding Boomer wisdom, I was particularly struck by this recent interview of Barack Obama  about the ‘call-out’ and ‘cancel’ culture. This was greeted by numerous criticisms typified by this article in the New York Times Obama’s Very Boomer View of ‘Cancel Culture’  and the epithet ‘Yo Boomer.’ Michael Schermer of Skeptical Inquirer nails it with this tweet:

“I’m trying to understand Millennial/GenZ cancel culture & not just be an old Baby Boomer, but it seems to me that if you think @BarackObama is not woke enough to understand what injustice means I think you’ve gone off the rails of moral progress.”

“Gone off the rails of moral progress” – a perfect description of where this seems to be headed, at least in the short term.

Personal impact

My personal saga in the five years following Climategate was summarized in my essay ‘5 years later.’ Upon rereading, I was struck by these excerpts:

“In 2014, I no longer feel the major ostracism by my peers in the climate establishment; after all, many of the issues I’ve been raising that seemed so controversial have now become mainstream. And the hiatus has helped open some minds.

The net effect of all this is that my ‘academic career advancement’ in terms of professional recognition, climbing the administrative ladder, etc. has been pretty much halted. I’ve exchanged academic advancement that now seems to be of dubious advantage to me for a much more interesting and influential existence that feels right in terms of my personal and scientific integrity.

Climategate was career changing for me; I’ll let history decide if this was for better or worse (if history even cares).”

In the end, Climategate ended my academic career prematurely (JC in transition). I realized how shallow the ‘academic game’ has become, and the games one needs to play to succeed. Throwing all that off has been personally and intellectually liberating for me.

I now have more time to read and think. Unfortunately I have less time to write blog posts since I am focusing my efforts on projects of relevance to the clients of my company Climate Forecast Applications Network. These projects are pretty wide ranging and pushing me in interesting new directions.

As for my ‘influence’ in the public debate on climate change, I never cared too much about this and probably care even less at this point. I have a unique perspective, and I appreciate any substantive opportunities that come my way to share this with the public and decision makers.

As Roger Pielke Jr tweeted:

“It wasn’t all fun, I’ll tell ya, but I’d do it all over again if it meant I get to now”

November 13, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Google sucks up & analyzes healthcare data on millions of Americans in secret AI project… after voluntary opt-in flops

RT | November 12, 2019

Google has teamed up with one of the largest health providers in the US to gather detailed medical records on millions of patients across the country without their knowledge, in a secret project the firm tried to keep under wraps.

Dubbed “Project Nightingale,” the secretive program brought together Google and healthcare giant Ascension in an effort to collect medical records on patients across 21 states, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The data sharing began last year, and has only accelerated in recent months.

At least 150 employees at Google’s Cloud division now have access to the bulk of the data, which amounts to information on tens of millions of patients, according to a source familiar with the records.

The details shared include patient names and dates of birth, hospitalization records, lab results and doctor diagnoses, which together provide a complete medical history for many of the patients – all without their consent.

Google says it hopes to use the data to develop an application employing AI and machine learning to track patients and recommend treatments, and ultimately has its eye on creating a search engine that can aggregate disparate patient data in one place.

“Wow – this is downright alarming. Do you trust Google with your blood test results, diagnoses, sensitive health information?” asked attorney and Republican National Committee member Harmeet K. Dhillon in a tweet. “Google’s secret ‘Project Nightingale’ gathers personal health data on millions of Americans.”

The company launched Google Health in 2008, but shuttered it less than four years later after failing to persuade enough users to hand over their medical records willingly, perhaps uncomfortable with the firm having access to such sensitive information. The tech giant has since cut individual consent out of its quest to amass healthcare data, going over the heads of patients to make deals with health providers instead.

In September, the company allied with the Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic to provide cloud services and data analytics in a 10-year “strategic partnership,” which will give Google access to data on up to 1 million patients at the clinic each year.

In another mass data grab earlier this month, the company purchased the maker of the fitness tracking device Fitbit, gobbling up the data of some 28 million active users of the gadget. The data goes beyond simple fitness tracking, such as the number of steps one takes per day, as some users opt to link the device to additional medical or insurance records. While Google vowed to never hand out the Fitbit information to third parties, customers may still have reason to be skeptical about the integrity of their data.

Over the summer, Google and another partnered healthcare facility, the University of Chicago Medical Center, came under fire in a lawsuit alleging the hospital gave Google medical records on hundreds of thousands of patients without stripping them of identifying information. The case mirrored a similar mishap across the pond in 2017, in which the UK’s National Health Service passed the company data on 1.6 million patients in violation of privacy laws.

The data sharing with Ascension is likely permitted under US federal law, however, as the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPA) Act allows hospitals and other healthcare providers to pass data to business partners without informing patients so long as it “help[s] the covered entity carry out its health care functions.”

Ascension – a network of some 2,600 hospitals, doctors’ offices and other medical facilities – says it’s doing just that, seeking to use the data to improve care and identify additional tests patients might need. However, documents reviewed by the Journal also suggest the company, like Google, has its bottom line in mind, hoping to use the data-mining to generate more revenue as well.

Also on rt.com:

NHS patient information illegally shared with Google DeepMind

Google buys Fitbit, acquiring users’ health histories & triggering privacy backlash

November 12, 2019 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | Leave a comment