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Offline knarf

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Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
« Reply #13065 on: June 16, 2019, 05:09:05 AM »


In Cormac McCarthy’s consummate work of apocalyptic dread The Road, about a perished world, the narrator dreams of life with his former bride, a mere memory come to haunt his cold nights. Yet rather than embrace such crepuscular balms, he finds them suspicious. “He mistrusted all of that. He said the right dreams for a man in peril were dreams of peril and all else was the call of langour and of death.”

I imagine this is how neoliberals think about socialism. As a call of langour and death. Fearful of being gulled by fantasies, they resist idealistic barnstormers with the same intensity with which they reject base fascists. There must be some deep inbuilt bias against reachable idealism in some, and against unpleasant truths in others. But the latter seem more numbersome. And yet so much of the world we inhabit, in all its gray capitalist drudgery, in all its gaudy pomp, its tatty circumstance, its bricolage culture, is a product of our acquiescence. The notion of the unreachable distance of the ideal may represent more a failure of collective imagination than a material impediment. How many of us are convinced that there is no alternative to capitalism? How many have ingested that neoliberal narcotic of foreclosed imaginations?

Then, as a nation of small minds, we accept the tutelage of small men. We acquiesce to the dimmed horizons of candidates like Former Vice President Joe Biden, whose cheaply bought lunchpail posturing is a transparent farce to anyone with a passing knowledge of his record. His like is a metastasizing presence on a crowded campaign trail. The elder Biden is flanked by moderate Republican Beto O’Rourke, doing his best to be Obama-lite, a young, idealistic avatar of hope, full of windy platitudes and a believer’s mien; Elizabeth Warren, whose latest brainstorm is to make the violent hegemonic armed forces more environmentally friendly, a kind of last consolation on the downslope to extinction; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose cheery multiculturalism faintly veils a familiar and spineless centrism; self-absorbed Kathleen Harris, who giggles at jailing truants; and friend-of-the-people, friend-of-Pharma, Cory Booker. Yet the half of the electorate that remains engaged in the roiling fraud of elections quickly fall to debating the manifold vices and minor virtues of these candidates, petitioners all for the role of caretaker of the public weal.

And all of this, this wan acceptance, this it-is-what-it-is-ism, this dread of dreams, is itself a product of media conditioning. I think it was Deepak Chopra, of all people, who said the dream of social conditioning is only escaped by sages and psychotics. Which is why if media is the culprit of our condition, then capturing media should be the letter of transit to a social consciousness of a different kind. After all, the February revolution in Russia unseated the tsar but put the bourgeoisie in its place, who happily went about shedding what radical garb they transiently wore. The Bolsheviks understood this wasn’t enough and, rather than try to stage a new rebellion on the heels of that one, instead went into the countryside to convince the workers and peasants that February wasn’t enough. Only then did October come.

But to take stock of the present situation (or ‘Current Affairs’, as Barnes & Noble would so blandly have it) is an exercise in incredulity. Looking about oneself, the media landscape is littered with one garbage heap after another, filth factories that sunnily prostitute themselves to power, the doxies of journalism nearly blotting out the horizon.

Sycophant NGOs

One of the crucial aspects of media propaganda is the use of apparently authoritative sources. This is done in a couple of ways. One is to establish new organizations that parade themselves beneath a banner of impartiality but do the work of elite capital. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, PropOrNot, and the Alliance for Securing Democracy and its infamous “Hamilton 68” dashboard supposedly designed to identify Russian bots on social media. The National Endowment for Democracy, created in the Reagan era, is perhaps a seminal example of the creation of front organizations that profess neutral and angelic intentions while in actuality work to savage the reputation of progressive movements, domestically and internationally.

Perhaps an even better way to deliver ostensibly authoritative news to the population is by co-opting existing organizations. This has been effectively done across a range of international institutions. Think of the Bretton Woods institutions of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank (originating out of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development), etc. All have more or less been captured by Washington’s neoliberal zealotry. Think of Congress, for that matter. But for matters of imperial aggression, few organizations are better situated to sway public opinion than longstanding NGOs, which has in recent years fallen afoul of American subversion. Once compromised, their findings can be usefully employed by the MSM to solidify arguments in favor of imperial violence, crucially under the guise of humanitarian goodwill.

Take for instance Amnesty International. Once and still perceived, to some extent, as a kind of pillar of rectitude in a boozy, braindead consumer culture, that NGO has made itself supplicant to Washington, and was perhaps always anxious to evade the censure of the metropole. It now openly campaigns for war. Of course, it varies the lexicon slightly, using terms like “grave” to preface perceived injustices and peppers in suggestive terms like “crimes against humanity” to stir the juices of the settled intelligentsia, those miseducated haute bourgeois that think they know better than the working class, despite being sheltered from most of the damage done by neoliberalism. Once there’s a generalized panic afoot about how to put somebody else’s house in order, Amnesty rolls out the heavy artillery: this “must not go unpunished” and that surely requires a “vigorous response”. Words like “probably” and “almost certainly” are sprinkled into the mix to provide an impression of veracity. This is how imperial violence happens. It is justified before a boot ever settles on the soft earth of an “emerging” nation (never to emerge precisely because of that folderol from the respectable press).

Human Rights Watch, another turncoat org, is led by a kind of frail, blue-veined Savonarola in Executive Director Kenneth Roth. Taking to Twitter, Roth rampages across the media plain on a high horse of pious cant, denouncing Nicolas Maduro as a vicious dictator and supporting the overthrow of the government by a ferociously stupid cabal of neoliberals backed by American power. Another warmonger, Roth. He is in good company. Inverting reality for its bylines, Atlantic writers call the violent opposition of parliamentarian Juan Guaido “pro-democracy.” The Wall Street Journal calls them, “democratic forces.” Despite Maduro’s standing as the elected leader of Venezuela, government forces are often referred to as, ‘forces loyal to Maduro.’ Democracy is canceled when it contravenes imperial capitalism. Always.

The now growing animus toward Iran, a nation that hasn’t started a war in centuries, has been long reinforced by biased reportage from around the MSM. It is always anonymous sources from the U.S. military or from its sprawling corrupt bureaucracy that peddle the state line to credulous young reporters (and older disillusioned reporters) from the Times, perhaps guttural utterances whispered in a shadowy oilslick parking garage. A Fair survey of media coverage on Venezuela found that 54 of 76 articles were openly in favor of regime change, while the rest either provided a raft of ambiguous banalities while being careful not to oppose the machinations of the garrison state.

Drubbing the Idealists

If the media is actively supporting imperialism internationally, it must fight a companion war on the homefront. Namely, the defeat of progressive movements that call for policies that would threaten the imperial treasury. Programs like Medicare for All, easily within reach of a nation that wanted it and whose government represented the populace, is considered wildly idealistic and unworkable in the mainstream press, which has conditioned an essential slice of the voting population. In reality, such proposals are banal. The argument over single-payer has been settled in saner circles. But in the fantasyland of the mainstream, it is a sensational concept, hamstrung by a leftist idealism detached from the reality of elitism. Hence the blizzard of dismissive prose.

It’s chief proponent, Vermont “independent” Senator Bernie Sanders, is being quietly shaped as anti-American for the upcoming election: a delusive scold who clings to the rhetorical tropes of New Dealers and Anti-Vietnam protestors, having been bypassed by the enlightened wisdom of imperial humanitarianism. His press coverage will not amount to half of Joe Biden’s or Beto O’Rourke’s. He will be calmly buried in the media, and then sundered by the sword of his own fealty to neoliberal Democrats. Sanders will doubtless receive more coverage this election, largely because in the last he had little name recognition and was easily ignored by the corporate media. Now that he’s a household name, it must cover him to maintain its semblance of neutrality. That coverage, though, will be decidedly negative and deceitful, attacking his socialist-lite programs and absurdly questioning his ability to rally support among his strongest cohorts.

Even before he declared for the presidency, Biden was scoring major media coverage, nearly besting Sanders, who was crisscrossing the country at seemingly breakneck pace. Biden seems to have already been anointed as the chosen foot soldier to shepherd imperialism back beneath its tawdry banner of ‘respectability’. His nascent campaign has already aligned itself with the imperial state. Like Hillary Clinton before him, Biden was a proponent of regime change war in Iraq and an architect of a crime bill that laid yet more punitive measures on disenfranchised African-Americans. His efforts to destabilize Ukraine on behalf of western capital should not be forgotten either, not to mention Syria and Honduras and other lamentable projects he enthusiastically cheered on. Prior to being VP during the halcyon days of neoliberal icon Barack Obama’s administration, Biden was considered to be a rhetorical loose cannon, a faithful servant of capital who tried to clothe himself in the blue-collar swagger of the working man. His collective profile was more Pagliacci than paladin. It remains to be seen whether the corporate media will be able to craft a suitably presidential persona for this graft-happy grifter. One image prevails in your author’s mind, served up no doubt in one of the MSM’s countless insider paeans to the Obama administration. It is the image of Biden marching around the White House, a crazed grin on his face, the starry-eyed face of a witless acolyte, telling himself again and again that General Motors was alive and bin Laden was dead. As if this bizarre polarity was all the proof the ersatz Delaware senator needed to know that Obama had resurrected American exceptionalism. And perhaps it was.

Narrative Rollback and a Culture of Death

Mainstream America, indifferent to art, enthralled by money, ignorant of history, is the outgrowth of a triptych of vile powers: the neoliberal party, the imperial state, and the capitalist media. Each of these entities has vested interests in advancing the cause of violent western hegemony. It is the media, though, and the control of media, that casts the patina of legitimacy on the party and state which enable it to act with relative impunity. To reinforce the false historical narrative and reign in the increasingly rogue cabal of soothsayers roaming the ridges of the web, a vast social media crackdown and pitiless prosecution of whistleblowers has doubtless had a chilling effect on alternative news sources. Their visibility has been and will be dramatically diminished, and the almost unimaginable courage and risk-taking of people like Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning to out state crimes will be sorely tested by the limitless power of the Espionage Act. As alternative forms of fact-finding are rolled back, the mainstream narratives will again assume an authority they neither have nor deserve. All of this is, typically, nothing new. The story of Eugene Debs is a reminder of the wantonness of state power, the Wilson-led entry into the First World War of the power of the state to shape public opinion. As austerity and inflation bites deeper into our quality of life, the government will becoming increasingly fascist and reactionary, as our deranged Commander in Chief reminds us daily.

The bourgeois intellectual culture we live beneath is ethically and spiritually bankrupt. It can rationalize away any and all cruelties in the name of “democracy”. The imparting of false crimes to foreign states and the savaging of domestic proposals for social uplift are the least of it. The latest international targets include Venezuela and Nicaragua, of course. But these embargoes and sanctions and cheaply rationalized crimes can be traced nearly word-for-word to the Eighties, when the National Review and Wall Street Journal, among many others, were sniffing about exporting democracy to wayward Latin nations and quite openly countenancing huge civilian casualties if the result was democracy. This was when Hollywood B-lister Ronald Reagan was hyperventilating about Communism and declared Nicaragua an ‘extraordinary’ threat to the United States, instancing the contra wars. Barack Obama resuscitated this halfwit measure when he targeted Venezuela during his second term, calling it, too, an ‘extraordinary’ threat to national security. Donald Trump has resurrected a sociopathic Reagan foot soldier in Elliot Abrams to manage the latest regime change efforts in the Southern hemisphere. All in the name of ‘democracy’, a word flung about the mediascape amid pithy emotional outbursts, as pundits declare themselves terribly worried about the wellbeing of Latinos thousands of miles away, though of another class, of another tongue, and another reviled political disposition.

Hiding in Plain Print

Yet the corporate use of the word democracy has no relation to the word’s philosophical definition. It is merely a portmanteau for all manner of plunder, the techniques of which include first evicting the wayward socialist in power, by sanction or sabotage or shotgun, then implanting a pliable stooge in power, implementing economic austerity, and selling off state-owned assets (held in the name of the people) to U.S. multinationals. Meanwhile the population stews in a cauldron of social and economic chaos. The pundits then clamor to administer more of the same, calling it a cure, but knowing it isn’t.

The wreckage entrained by this turn of events is nearly wholly hidden by the corporate press. But the events occur nonetheless. The ‘pliable stooges’ are referred to in Communist lore as ‘comprador elite’. Effectively, Washington buys off an elitist in the target country–there are always plenty, most of them educated in some American re-education camp disguised as an Ivy League Elysium–and supplies him or her with a prefabricated policy playbook drawn up inside the beltway by congeries of Chicago School fantasists. Then our obtuse organs of capitalist oligarchy will provide military aid in the form of weapons and training that will almost certainly be necessary to put down the social unrest caused by the austerity policies. Austerity means slashing social spending, which depletes economic demand, which shrinks the economy, which causes international lenders (read Washington-directed banks) to step in, wringing their hands in brotherly concern for their Latin lessers, and hold out a dollar-based loan package stippled with conditionalities.

These conditions include budget caps, the violation of which will trigger punitive measures, and the dropping of tariff regimes that protect domestic industry in favor of “FDI” or Foreign Direct Investment, a pseudo-economic term for a firesale of national resources at deep discounts to foreign corporations. This is also referred to as ‘privatization’ which is said to be necessary in order to raise funds for the government to pay back the onerous loan, which was naturally signed off on by the comprador elite in charge, a traitor who betrays his own population, impoverishes them, and fences their own wealth for what amounts to a transaction fee, which he then pockets before absconding to foreign climes. (Think of the Shah of Iran being granted admission to the United States for medical treatment after being chased from the country by the revolution). This makes the loan odious as well as onerous, but this is disregarded by the debt collectors.

Additional costs come in the form of ‘externalities’, the second best trick of capitalist exploitation. The first is when capital captures the surplus value from labor (which means you will never be paid your true worth in a capitalist system). The second is when capital socializes the steep costs of production. Here the costs often materialize in the form of ecological depredations, as when corporations strip mine mountaintops (see West Virginia or Jharkhand, India, where slag and sulfur wreck native habitats). These actions often proceed protected by the infamous ‘MOU’ or Memorandum of Understanding that permits domestic and foreign corporations to mine under the aegis of the federal state. Yet how much of this is shared in the tepid correspondence between the monolithic institutions of corporate media and their million minor outlets?

Coda to Media Crimes

McCarthy’s The Road delivers a far bleaker picture than the one just described, but it articulates and anticipates a possible outcome of our puerile system of social organization. A system which decimates our land, disfigures our psyches, deforms our bodies, and desiccates our dreams on behalf of a chiseling syndicate of elites. Elites who appear to neither know nor feel compassion except for their blood relations, which are presently being primed to assume the mantle of exploitation once decrepitude descends on their vile forbearers. All the more reason to uproot corporate media and begin the mind work of calling a population back to its truer instincts, where peaceful cooperation trumps cutthroat competition. Those instincts are currently papered over by a phalange of specious argument, emotional manipulation, and the bludgeon of perpetual news. The elites that helm this system of deceits were recently sharing new world order ideas over champagne and canapes in Switzerland at their annual Bilderberg summit, breathlessly sketching their latest vision for the planet, one we will neither see nor vote on until it is visibly underway.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/06/14/mainstream-101-supporting-imperialism-suppressing-socialism/
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Offline knarf

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Propaganda Is The Root Of All Our Problems
« Reply #13066 on: June 16, 2019, 05:18:13 AM »
A new article by Forbes reports that the CEO of Crowdstrike, the extremely shady cybersecurity corporation which was foundational in the construction of the official CIA/CNN Russian hacking narrative, is now a billionaire.

George Kurtz ascended to the billionaire rankings on the back of soaring stocks immediately after the company went public, carried no doubt on the winds of the international fame it gained from its central protagonistic role in the most well-known hacking news story of all time. A loyal servant of empire well-rewarded.

Never mind that US government insiders like Hillary Clinton had been prepping for escalations against Russia well in advance of the 2016 elections, and that their preexisting agendas to shove a geostrategic obstacle off the world stage benefitted from the hacking narrative as much as George Kurtz did.

Never mind that Crowdstrike is tied to the NATO narrative management firm known as the Atlantic Council, which receives funding from the US government, the EU, NATO, Gulf states and powerful international oligarchs. Never mind either that Crowdstrike was financed with a whopping $100 million from Google, which has had a cozy relationship with US intelligence agencies since its very inception.

Never mind that to this day the DNC servers have not been examined by the FBI, nor indeed were they examined by the Special Counsel of Robert “Iraq has WMD” Mueller, preferring instead to go with the analyses of this extremely shady outfit with extensive and well-documented ties with the oligarchic leaders of the US-centralized empire. Also never mind that the Crowdstrike analyst who led forensics on those DNC servers had in fact worked for and was promoted by Robert Mueller while the two were in the FBI.

As I never tire of saying, the real underlying currency in our world is not gold, nor bureaucratic fiat, nor even raw military might. The real underlying currency of our world is narrative, and the ability to control it.

As soon as you really grok this dynamic, you start noticing it everywhere. George Kurtz is one clear example today of narrative control’s central role in the maintenance and expansion of existing power structures, as well as an illustration of how the empire is wired to reward those who advance pro-empire narratives and punish those who damage them; just compare how he’s doing to how Julian Assange is doing, for example.

But you see examples pop up every day:

    The US State Department just got busted using a $1.5 million troll farm to manipulate public discourse on social media about Iran.
    Video footage has just surfaced of the OPCW Director General admitting that the OPCW did indeed deliberately omit any mention in its official findings of a report from its own investigation which contradicts the establishment narrative about a chemical strike in Douma, Syria, an admission which answers controversial questions asked by critics of western imperialism like myself, and which the mainstream media have not so much as touched.
    Mintpress News broke a story the other day about a new narrative management operation known as “The Trust Project”, a coordinated campaign by establishment-friendly mass media outlets for “gaming search-engine and social-media algorithms in collusion with major tech companies like Google and Twitter.”
    In a new interview with The Canary, UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer explicitly named the mass media as largely responsible for Assange’s psychological torture, excoriating them for the way that they “have shown a remarkable lack of critical independence and have contributed significantly to spreading abusive and deliberately distorted narratives about Mr Assange.”
    In a new essay called “Freeing Julian Assange“, journalist Suzie Dawson reports that “Countless articles appear to have been obliterated from the internet” about Assange and WikiLeaks, amounting to some 90 percent of the links Dawson examined which were shared in tweets by or about WikiLeaks and Assange since 2010.
    I just finished reading this excellent Swiss Propaganda Research essay about the little-known fact that “most of the international news coverage in Western media is provided by only three global news agencies based in New York, London and Paris.”

Any one of these could have a full-length Caitlin Johnstone essay written about it. I write about this stuff for a living, and even I don’t have the time or energy to write full articles about every single narrative control tool that the US-centralized empire has been implementing into its arsenal. There are too damn many of them emerging too damn fast, because they’re just that damn crucial for maintaining existing power structures.

Because whoever controls the narrative controls the world.

"The End of Kings"

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/Yw0qkvvSE7s&fs=1" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/Yw0qkvvSE7s&fs=1</a>

Power used to be much easier to identify in our society: just look for the fellow with the sparkly hat made of gold sitting in a really big chair and bossing everyone around. As our society advanced philosophically, however, people began to tire of having every aspect of their society determined by some schmuck in a golden hat, and started fighting for ideals called “freedom” and “democracy” in their respective nations. And, as far as our parents and teachers have taught us, freedom and democracy are exactly what we have now.

Except that’s all crap. Freedom and democracy only exist within the western empire to the extent that it keeps up appearances. Because the trouble with democracy, it turns out, is that human minds are very hackable, as long as you’ve got the resources. Wealthy and powerful people do have the resources, which means that it’s very possible for wealthy and powerful people to manipulate the masses into voting in a way that consistently benefits the wealthy and powerful. This is why billionaires and narrative control consistently go hand-in-hand.

This dynamic has allowed for western power structures to operate in a way that western democracy was explicitly designed to prevent: for the benefit of the powerful instead of for the benefit of the voting populace. So now we’ve got people in so-called liberal democracies voting to maintain governments which advance wars which don’t benefit them, to advance intrusive surveillance and police state policies which oppress them, to advance austerity policies which harm them, to advance labor policies which exploit them, and to maintain ecocidal environmental policies which threaten the very survival of our species. All because the wealthy and powerful are able to use their wealth and power to manipulate the way people think and vote.

This is why I pay far more attention in my work to narrative control than to politics. Politics is downstream from narrative control, which is why the 2020 US presidential race is already a contest to see what level of Democratic corporatist warmonger will be running against the incumbent Republican corporatist warmonger. The narrative-controlling class does its level best to hide the fact that anything’s fundamentally wrong with the system, then when people notice it’s deeply broken they encourage them to use completely impotent tools to fix it. “Don’t like how things are run? Here, vote for our other puppet!”

The root of all our problems right now is the fact that human minds are very hackable with enough resources, combined with the fact that war, oppression, exploitation and ecocide are highly profitable. This dynamic has caused human collective consciousness to generally dead-end into a kind of propagandized, zombified state in which all our knowledge and all our thinking moves in alignment with the agendas of existing power structures. It’s much easier to continue believing the official narratives than to sort through everything you’ve been told about your society, your nation and your world since grade school and work out what’s true and what’s false. Many don’t have the time. Many more don’t have the courage.

We will remain in this collective dead-end, hurtling toward either Orwellian dystopia or extinction via climate collapse or nuclear armageddon, until we find a way out of it. It won’t come from the tools our rulers have given us, and it won’t come from repeating any of the old patterns which got us here. In order to escape from the increasingly adept narrative control matrix that is being built around our collective mind by the powerful, we’re going to have to change our relationship with narrative altogether. We will either pass this great test or we will fail it, and we absolutely have the freedom to go either way.

https://www.greanvillepost.com/2019/06/15/propaganda-is-the-root-of-all-our-problems/
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Offline knarf

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Court convicts Sara Netanyahu of corruption in plea deal
« Reply #13067 on: June 16, 2019, 05:24:16 AM »
A deal was pressed heavily by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, which approved the deal making the conviction final and giving Sara Netanyahu a criminal record.

Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister's wife, was convicted of corruption in the "Prepared Food Affair" as part of a plea bargain on Sunday, which ended a four-year legal battle.

A deal was pressed heavily by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court which approved the deal, making the conviction final and giving Sara Netanyahu a criminal record, though as part of the agreement the charges were reduced. Netanyahu was sentenced to pay NIS 55,000, reduced from the original charge of NIS 359,000.

Under the deal, the prime minister’s wife confessed to a reduced charge of intentionally exploiting another person’s error, in lieu of the original more serious charge of fraud.

The state has also reserved the right to sue Netanyahu in civil court for an additional NIS 175,000.

The last point of allowing the state to sue her in civil court may have been what caused contradictory indications last week about whether her plea bargain was in doubt.

Meanwhile on Sunday, the High Court of Justice rejected a petition to veto the plea deal as too lenient.

The state also filed a response to the High Court last week defending the plea bargain.

The petition had called the plea bargain caving into political pressure and treating Netanyahu far too leniently, which would lead to a loss of public faith in the legal system and the rule of law.

The state responded that the deal was within its discretion and that the rule of law was being validated, since it had compelled Netanyahu to confess to a crime after years in which she adamantly refused to admit any wrongdoing.

An agreed upon revised indictment had been due to be filed already last Monday. However, the revised indictment was not filed until last Wednesday, due to surprise last-minute objections by Mrs. Netanyahu – despite the fact that her lawyers had agreed to the deal on May 29.

Initially on Monday, the prosecution said it had given her a 24-hour extension to come back around to the deal. But at press time on Tuesday the deal was still not yet final.

Still, late Tuesday evening, a Justice Ministry spokeswoman (who had sounded ambiguous all day) finally said that it would likely be filed Wednesday morning.

While Sara Netanyahu has a history of seeming ready to agree to deals and then backing out, the May 29 deal was the first one confirmed by the prosecution.

Last June, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit filed an indictment against the prime minister’s wife for fraud with aggravated circumstances and breach of public trust.

The attorney-general alleged that from September 2010 until March 2013, Netanyahu acted in coordination with the other defendant in the case, former Prime Minister’s Office deputy director-general Ezra Seidoff, to falsely misrepresent that the Prime Minister’s Residence did not employ a chef.

According to the allegations, Netanyahu and Seidoff made misrepresentations to circumvent and exploit regulations that stated: “In a case where a cook is not employed in the [prime minister’s] official residence, it is permitted to order prepared food as needed.”

The two hoped to obtain state funding both for the chef at the residence and for prepared food orders. In this way, the two allegedly obtained from the state NIS 359,000 for hundreds of prepared food orders.

However, Netanyahu’s lawyers appear to have reduced the NIS 359,000 sum to NIS 175,000, using various defenses.

In addition, the revised indictment made it sound like Netanyahu did not actively act falsely, but merely passively did not tell some of the office staff that there was a cook and that having a cook meant she needed to limit prepared food orders.

Furthermore, in 15 instances, invoices to chefs who were brought in from outside were falsified in order to circumvent limits on how much could be paid toward outside chefs. Seidoff directed the chefs, the house managers and Netanyahu’s secretaries to falsify the invoices in these instances.

Charges against Netanyahu for these 15 instances were previously closed by Mandelblit, as there was insufficient evidence to prove that she knew about the actions of Seidoff and the others.

Seidoff’s plea deal includes admitting to the same crime as Sara Netanyahu, with a fine of NIS 10,000 as well as community service hours, which will be set by the court.

Originally there were six other probes of Mrs. Netanyahu, but Mandelblit closed the other cases without an indictment.

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Court-convicts-Sara-Netanyahu-of-corruption-in-plea-deal-592661
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Offline knarf

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U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid
« Reply #13068 on: June 16, 2019, 06:04:10 AM »
WASHINGTON — The United States is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir V. Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively, current and former government officials said.

In interviews over the past three months, the officials described the previously unreported deployment of American computer code inside Russia’s grid and other targets as a classified companion to more publicly discussed action directed at Moscow’s disinformation and hacking units around the 2018 midterm elections.

Advocates of the more aggressive strategy said it was long overdue, after years of public warnings from the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. that Russia has inserted malware that could sabotage American power plants, oil and gas pipelines, or water supplies in any future conflict with the United States.

But it also carries significant risk of escalating the daily digital Cold War between Washington and Moscow.

The administration declined to describe specific actions it was taking under the new authorities, which were granted separately by the White House and Congress last year to United States Cyber Command, the arm of the Pentagon that runs the military’s offensive and defensive operations in the online world.

But in a public appearance on Tuesday, President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the United States was now taking a broader view of potential digital targets as part of an effort “to say to Russia, or anybody else that’s engaged in cyberoperations against us, ‘You will pay a price.’”

Power grids have been a low-intensity battleground for years.

Since at least 2012, current and former officials say, the United States has put reconnaissance probes into the control systems of the Russian electric grid.

But now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense, officials say, with the placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before. It is intended partly as a warning, and partly to be poised to conduct cyberstrikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow.

The commander of United States Cyber Command, Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, has been outspoken about the need to “defend forward” deep in an adversary’s networks to demonstrate that the United States will respond to the barrage of online attacks aimed at it.

“They don’t fear us,” he told the Senate a year ago during his confirmation hearings.

But finding ways to calibrate those responses so that they deter attacks without inciting a dangerous escalation has been the source of constant debate.

Mr. Trump issued new authorities to Cyber Command last summer, in a still-classified document known as National Security Presidential Memoranda 13, giving General Nakasone far more leeway to conduct offensive online operations without receiving presidential approval.

But the action inside the Russian electric grid appears to have been conducted under little-noticed new legal authorities, slipped into the military authorization bill passed by Congress last summer. The measure approved the routine conduct of “clandestine military activity” in cyberspace, to “deter, safeguard or defend against attacks or malicious cyberactivities against the United States.”

Under the law, those actions can now be authorized by the defense secretary without special presidential approval.

“It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year,” one senior intelligence official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity but declining to discuss any specific classified programs. “We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago.”

The critical question — impossible to know without access to the classified details of the operation — is how deep into the Russian grid the United States has bored. Only then will it be clear whether it would be possible to plunge Russia into darkness or cripple its military — a question that may not be answerable until the code is activated.

Both General Nakasone and Mr. Bolton, through spokesmen, declined to answer questions about the incursions into Russia’s grid. Officials at the National Security Council also declined to comment but said they had no national security concerns about the details of The New York Times’s reporting about the targeting of the Russian grid, perhaps an indication that some of the intrusions were intended to be noticed by the Russians.

Speaking on Tuesday at a conference sponsored by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bolton said: “We thought the response in cyberspace against electoral meddling was the highest priority last year, and so that’s what we focused on. But we’re now opening the aperture, broadening the areas we’re prepared to act in.”

He added, referring to nations targeted by American digital operations, “We will impose costs on you until you get the point.”

Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place “implants” — software code that can be used for surveillance or attack — inside the Russian grid.

Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction — and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.

Because the new law defines the actions in cyberspace as akin to traditional military activity on the ground, in the air or at sea, no such briefing would be necessary, they added.

The intent of the operations was described in different ways by several current and former national security officials. Some called it “signaling” Russia, a sort of digital shot across the bow. Others said the moves were intended to position the United States to respond if Mr. Putin became more aggressive.

So far, there is no evidence that the United States has actually turned off the power in any of the efforts to establish what American officials call a “persistent presence” inside Russian networks, just as the Russians have not turned off power in the United States. But the placement of malicious code inside both systems revives the question of whether a nation’s power grid — or other critical infrastructure that keeps homes, factories, and hospitals running — constitutes a legitimate target for online attack.

Already, such attacks figure in the military plans of many nations. In a previous post, General Nakasone had been deeply involved in designing an operation code-named Nitro Zeus that amounted to a war plan to unplug Iran if the United States entered into hostilities with the country.

How Mr. Putin’s government is reacting to the more aggressive American posture described by Mr. Bolton is still unclear.

“It’s 21st-century gunboat diplomacy,” said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas, who has written extensively about the shifting legal basis for digital operations. “We’re showing the adversary we can inflict serious costs without actually doing much. We used to park ships within sight of the shore. Now, perhaps, we get access to key systems like the electric grid.”

Russian intrusion on American infrastructure has been the background noise of superpower competition for more than a decade.

A successful Russian breach of the Pentagon’s classified communications networks in 2008 prompted the creation of what has become Cyber Command. Under President Barack Obama, the attacks accelerated.

But Mr. Obama was reluctant to respond to such aggression by Russia with counterattacks, partly for fear that the United States’ infrastructure was more vulnerable than Moscow’s and partly because intelligence officials worried that by responding in kind, the Pentagon would expose some of its best weaponry.

At the end of Mr. Obama’s first term, government officials began uncovering a Russian hacking group, alternately known to private security researchers as Energetic Bear or Dragonfly. But the assumption was that the Russians were conducting surveillance, and would stop well short of actual disruption.

That assumption evaporated in 2014, two former officials said, when the same Russian hacking outfit compromised the software updates that reached into hundreds of systems that have access to the power switches.

“It was the first stage in long-term preparation for an attack,” said John Hultquist, the director of intelligence analysis at FireEye, a security company that has tracked the group.

In December 2015, a Russian intelligence unit shut off power to hundreds of thousands of people in western Ukraine. The attack lasted only a few hours, but it was enough to sound alarms at the White House.

A team of American experts was dispatched to examine the damage, and concluded that one of the same Russian intelligence units that wreaked havoc in Ukraine had made significant inroads into the United States energy grid, according to officials and a homeland security advisory that was not published until December 2016.

“That was the crossing of the Rubicon,” said David J. Weinstein, who previously served at Cyber Command and is now chief security officer at Claroty, a security company that specializes in protecting critical infrastructure.

In late 2015, just as the breaches of the Democratic National Committee began, yet another Russian hacking unit began targeting critical American infrastructure, including the electricity grid and nuclear power plants. By 2016, the hackers were scrutinizing the systems that control the power switches at the plants.

Until the last few months of the Obama administration, Cyber Command was largely limited to conducting surveillance operations inside Russia’s networks. At a conference this year held by the Hewlett Foundation, Eric Rosenbach, a former chief of staff to the defense secretary and who is now at Harvard, cautioned that when it came to offensive operations “we don’t do them that often.” He added, “I can count on one hand, literally, the number of offensive operations that we did at the Department of Defense.”

But after the election breaches and the power grid incursions, the Obama administration decided it had been too passive.

Mr. Obama secretly ordered some kind of message-sending action inside the Russian grid, the specifics of which have never become public. It is unclear whether much was accomplished.

“Offensive cyber is not this, like, magic cybernuke where you say, ‘O.K., send in the aircraft and we drop the cybernuke over Russia tomorrow,’” Mr. Rosenbach said at the conference, declining to discuss specific operations.

After Mr. Trump’s inauguration, Russian hackers kept escalating attacks.

Mr. Trump’s initial cyberteam decided to be far more public in calling out Russian activity. In early 2018, it named Russia as the country responsible for “the most destructive cyberattack in human history,” which paralyzed much of Ukraine and affected American companies including Merck and FedEx.

When General Nakasone took over both Cyber Command and the N.S.A. a year ago, his staff was assessing Russian hackings on targets that included the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, which runs a nuclear power plant near Burlington, Kan., as well as previously unreported attempts to infiltrate Nebraska Public Power District’s Cooper Nuclear Station, near Brownville. The hackers got into communications networks, but never took over control systems.

In August, General Nakasone used the new authority granted to Cyber Command by the secret presidential directive to overwhelm the computer systems at Russia’s Internet Research Agency — the group at the heart of the hacking during the 2016 election in the United States. It was one of four operations his so-called Russia Small Group organized around the midterm elections. Officials have talked publicly about those, though they have provided few details.

But the recent actions by the United States against the Russian power grids, whether as signals or potential offensive weapons, appear to have been conducted under the new congressional authorities.

As it games out the 2020 elections, Cyber Command has looked at the possibility that Russia might try selective power blackouts in key states, some officials said. For that, they said, they need a deterrent.

In the past few months, Cyber Command’s resolve has been tested. For the past year, energy companies in the United States and oil and gas operators across North America discovered their networks had been examined by the same Russian hackers who successfully dismantled the safety systems in 2017 at Petro Rabigh, a Saudi petrochemical plant and oil refinery.

The question now is whether placing the equivalent of land mines in a foreign power network is the right way to deter Russia. While it parallels Cold War nuclear strategy, it also enshrines power grids as a legitimate target.

“We might have to risk taking some broken bones of our own from a counterresponse, just to show the world we’re not lying down and taking it,” said Robert P. Silvers, a partner at the law firm Paul Hastings and former Obama administration official. “Sometimes you have to take a bloody nose to not take a bullet in the head down the road.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/15/us/politics/trump-cyber-russia-grid.html
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Ice is melting in unprecedented ways as summer approaches in the Arctic. In recent days, observations have revealed a record-challenging melt event over the Greenland ice sheet, while the extent of ice over the Arctic Ocean has never been this low in mid-June during the age of weather satellites.

Greenland saw temperatures soar up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit above normal Wednesday, while open water exists in places north of Alaska where it seldom, if ever, has in recent times.

It's "another series of extreme events consistent with the long-term trend of a warming, changing Arctic," said Zachary Labe, a climate researcher at the University of California at Irvine.

And the abnormal warmth and melting of ice in the Arctic may be messing with our weather.

Greenland ice sheet


Melt extent on the Greenland Ice Sheet between April and October. The recent melt event (indicated by the blue line) appears to be the greatest on record in mid-June.

Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the Greenland ice sheet appears to have witnessed its biggest melt event so early in the season on record this week (although a few other years showed similar mid-June melting).

"The melting is big and early," said Jason Box, an ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.

Box explained that temperatures over the western Greenland ice sheet have been abnormally high while snow has been well below normal.

Marco Tedesco, an ice researcher at Columbia University, added that it has been unusually warm in east and central Greenland, as well. "This has triggered widespread melting that has reached about 45 percent of the ice sheet," he wrote in an email.


Extent of Greenland ice sheet melting on June 12.

Normally, melting this widespread over the ice sheet doesn't occur until midsummer, if even then.

A simulation from the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting suggested that temperatures over Greenland may have peaked at around 40 degrees above normal on Wednesday.

A big dome of high pressure has positioned itself over Greenland, resulting in sunny skies and mild temperatures, which have enabled melting. An automated weather station at the top of Greenland's ice sheet topped freezing on June 12, a very rare event, which last occurred in July 2012.

2012 is the notorious year in which the Greenland ice sheet witnessed the most melting on record. Those monitoring the ice sheet say melting in 2019 could rival it.

Weather in the coming months will determine how much more the ice sheet melts and whether 2019 is a record-setter. If high pressure holds in place, "we should break a new record," tweeted Xavier Fettweis, a climatologist at the University of Liège in Belgium.

But scientists studying the region know that Greenland's weather is highly variable and can change rapidly.

Mike MacFerrin, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado, put it this way in a tweet: "2019 has been… anomalous… so far, but also quite variable. It's early and weather is weather, so keep your eyes peeled. ..."

Weather satellites have monitored sea ice in the Arctic since 1979, and the current ice coverage is the lowest on record for mid-June.

The ice extent has been especially depleted in the part of the Arctic Ocean adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. "It's pretty remarkable how much open water is in that area," Labe said.

Labe explained high pressure over the Arctic has helped to pull sea ice way from the northern Alaska coast.

Sea ice loss over the Chukchi and Beaufort seas along Alaska's northern coast has been "unprecedented" according to Rick Thoman, a climatologist based in Fairbanks.

Labe said there's sufficient open water that you could sail all the way from the Bering Strait into a narrow opening just north of Utqiagvik, Alaska's northernmost city, clear into the Beaufort Sea. "It's very unusual for open water this early in this location," he said.

With all of the exposed water, ocean temperatures in this region will rise, Labe said. This should delay the customary fall freeze and will likely result in a historically low late summer sea ice minimum, typically in mid-September.

Whether the Arctic sea ice minimum is record-setting, like the Greenland ice sheet, will depend on weather in the coming months.

"There is no indication that this year will be as low as 2012," when Arctic sea ice reached its lowest extent on record, Labe said. "If cloudy weather occurs, it would slow down the rate [of melting]. It's really hard to predict."
Implications for weather over the United States?

The extreme conditions in the Arctic, which have resulted in these record-challenging melt events, have far-reaching implications. There is a saying often repeated by Arctic researchers: "What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic."

The bulging zones of high pressure in the Arctic, which have facilitated the unusual warmth and intensified melting, are displacing the cold air normally contained in that region into the mid-latitudes — like a refrigerator door left open. Much of the central and eastern United States have seen lower-than-normal temperatures in the past week.

The jet stream, the high-altitude current separating cold air and warm air, has taken unusually erratic meanders.

"The jet stream this week was one of the craziest I've ever seen!" Jennifer Francis, one of the leading researchers who has published studies connecting Arctic change and mid-latitude weather, wrote in an email.

Francis had earlier suggested that conditions in the Arctic may have played a role in the extreme jet stream pattern that spurred the tornado swarm and record flooding in the central U.S. during the last two weeks of May.

"We can't say that the rapid Arctic warming is causing this particularly pattern, but it certainly is consistent with that," Francis, senior scientist at Woods Hole Research Center, said.The jet stream, the high-altitude current separating cold air and warm air, has taken unusually erratic meanders.

"The jet stream this week was one of the craziest I've ever seen!" Jennifer Francis, one of the leading researchers who has published studies connecting Arctic change and mid-latitude weather, wrote in an email.

Francis had earlier suggested that conditions in the Arctic may have played a role in the extreme jet stream pattern that spurred the tornado swarm and record flooding in the central U.S. during the last two weeks of May.

"We can't say that the rapid Arctic warming is causing this particularly pattern, but it certainly is consistent with that," Francis, senior scientist at Woods Hole Research Center, said.

https://www.sciencealert.com/greenland-was-40-degrees-hotter-than-normal-this-week-and-things-are-getting-intense
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Trump isn’t a president, he’s a gangster
« Reply #13070 on: June 16, 2019, 06:18:06 AM »
he FBI had to wiretap mafia bosses like John Gotti and Vincent “The Chin” Gigante to catch them breaking the law. All they had to do to catch Donald Trump on Wednesday night was turn on ABC News. Trump proceeded to commit multiple felonies out in the open on national television when he told George Stephanopoulos he would be happy to accept dirt on his opponent from foreign governments in his 2020 re-election campaign.

“Somebody comes up and says, ‘hey, I have information on your opponent,’ do you call the FBI?” Trump asked rhetorically. “It’s not an interference, they have information — I think I’d take it,” Trump said. “I’ll tell you what, I’ve seen a lot of things over my life. I don’t think in my whole life I’ve ever called the FBI. In my whole life. You don’t call the FBI. You throw somebody out of your office, you do whatever you do.” He paused for a moment. “Oh, give me a break — life doesn’t work that way.”

He looked like he’d been gobbling Adderall. His pupils were pinned, and he kept doing that thing with his hands, holding them in front of himself and moving them apart and then together impatiently, talking to Stephanopoulos like he was a school child just learning about politics rather than the seasoned operative he is (Stephanopoulos was one of the architects of the Bill Clinton campaign when he won the presidency in 1992 and has covered political campaigns as a reporter and news anchor in the decades since then).

But perhaps Trump was right. Maybe Stephanopoulos needs a good talking to from the Capo di tutti i capi on Pennsylvania Avenue. Doesn’t George get it that politics in the age of Trump is a criminal enterprise, that politicians are no different from gangsters? They don’t go to the FBI and turn each other in. They don’t report crimes. They commit them, and they keep their mouths shut. My buddy’s having sex with underage girls? Call the FBI? Are you kidding?

Trump acted like a bank robber who walked up to a cop standing in front of the bank and said, “hey, man, I’m going in there in a minute, and I’m going to rob that bank, and what are you going to do about it?” We got our answer from Republicans the next day. Nothing. Zip. He’s going to rob that bank? We’re cool with that. By the way, we’ll be happy to pick up any bills he drops on the way out.

Stephanopoulos looked like Lester Holt the day Trump told him on TV that he fired Comey because of “the Russia thing.” He knew he was onto a big story, so he pressed him. “You want that kind of interference in our elections? he asked, fishing. Trump allowed that he might call the FBI “if I thought there was something wrong,” but he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with accepting campaign help from the Russians or anybody else. He has admitted he didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking Russian help when he begged them during the 2016 campaign, “Russia, if you’re listening,” and urged them to find Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. That’s what he does. That’s who he is.

The only thing that’s new is that Trump has dropped any pretense he’s going to follow the law. He doesn’t care what the law is. When Stephanopoulos reminded him that Christopher Wray, the Director of the FBI, had testified to Congress that any campaign receiving a solicitation from a foreign government should report that fact to the FBI, Trump told him, “The FBI director is wrong.”

Trump just warned the chief law enforcement officer of the land that if he does his job, he’ll be fired. This should come as no big news to Wray, however. He watched it happen to former FBI director James Comey. He watched it happen to former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe. Trump treats law enforcement officials like subcontractors on one of his buildings. Stiff the stupid fucker, and if he comes back at you, fire him. And if he doesn’t like that, sue him.

Trump just put up a banner outside the White House telling autocrats around the world that he’s open for business. You want a few F-22’s over there in Poland or the Czech Republic? Bring me some crap on Biden, or Bernie, or Warren! You want to get that oil flowing out of the ground up there above the Arctic Circle, Putin my pal? Get those damn hackers clacking those keyboards! Hey, MBS! You want some more smart bombs to drop on goat herders over there in Yemen? How about putting some bucks in my buildings!

Are the Democrats up for this kind of open-field thievery and in-your-face treachery? Is anybody? One of the anchors on MSNBC asked Frank Figliuzzi, the former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, what FBI Director Wray should do now that Trump has pointed to the corner and told him to go sit down and keep his mouth shut. Get this: Figliuzzi said Wray should write a memo telling the most important law enforcement agency in the land to keep their heads down and do their jobs.

Trump could have the White House painted high gloss black and order the Treasury Department to deliver pallets of hundred dollar bills to the front door, and the Democrats would accuse him of a cover-up and order another hearing.

Pelosi had a chance on Thursday at her weekly press conference to tell the world that Trump is an out and out felon, and we’re going to impeach him starting today. Instead, she called Mitch McConnell the Grim Reaper and put up a poster showing a cemetery filled with the headstones of the bills he hasn’t passed.

The next time Trump has Stephanopoulos over to the Oval Office for a lecture on the Way the World Works, he’s going to call off the election, turn to the camera and say, now what are you going to do?

Impeach him? Is it even a question anymore? If not now, when?

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/06/trump-isnt-a-president-hes-a-gangster/
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633 divers collect over 1,500 pounds of trash at a Florida beach
« Reply #13071 on: June 16, 2019, 05:39:20 PM »
And set a world record


A record-setting 633 divers came from as far as Europe and South America to participate in the underwater cleanup.

Hundreds of divers donned their wetsuits and air tanks on Saturday to become the largest group to conduct an underwater cleanup.
The Guinness World Record-setting 633 divers retrieved at least 1,626 pounds of trash and 60 pounds of fishing line at the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier in Florida.
The official weight of the trash recovered is still being tallied, and the number is likely to grow, said Tyler Bourgoine, who participated in and helped organize the cleanup. Ocean conservation group Project AWARE estimates that the cleanup might have removed as much as 3,200 pounds of marine debris.
"There were countless lead sinkers ... everything from a boat ladder to a barbell," Bourgoine told CNN.

The city will help with recycling the debris and ensure everything is disposed of properly.
Divers came from as far away as Europe and South America to participate in the event, organized annually by local dive shop Dixie Divers and Deerfield Beach Women's Club. This year was the 15th cleanup began at around 9 a.m. and lasted about two hours
"It was a great time ... Everyone was working together and cleaning up one part of the reef or pier," Bourgoine told CNN.
The area the divers cleaned has tons of marine life.
"That's one of the reasons why there's so much debris," Bourgoine said. "People are constantly fishing there."

Ahmed Gabr, a former Egyptian Army scuba diver, set the previous record in 2015 with 613 other divers in the Red Sea in Egypt.
Plastic and other human-produced waste have become a growing presence and problem in the oceans. About 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean annually -- equivalent to the weight of nearly 90 aircraft carriers, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/16/us/divers-largest-underwater-cleanup-record-trnd/index.html
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Benjamin Netanyahu just unveiled Israel’s newest town: “Trump Heights”
« Reply #13072 on: June 16, 2019, 05:56:05 PM »
The town will be built in the contested Golan Heights.


Benjamin Netanyahu speaks in front of Trump Heights.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a plaque marking the location of the newest settlement in the Golan Heights on Sunday.

The marker proclaims the settlement will be known as “Trump Heights.” Netanyahu said the name was chosen to thank President Donald Trump for breaking decades of US tradition and recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel in March. Prior to that point, the US observed the international custom of considering it occupied territory.

Trump Heights, called “Ramat Trump” in Hebrew, is a symbol of the airtight alliance that’s developed between the US and Israel. Trump has repeatedly aligned himself with Netanyahu’s right-wing policy vision for his country and the Middle East.

The new town has yet to be built, but the ceremony marking the name and location of the settlement was conducted with much fanfare by the Israeli government. Netanyahu called it “a historic day” and praised Trump as a “friend of Israel.”

In a tweet, Trump thanked Netanyahu “and the State of Israel for this great honor.”

The Golan Heights is a strategically valuable swath of land that Israel annexed from Syria after 1967’s Six Day War. The United Nations and most of the international community do not recognize the territory as belonging to Israel. That’s because international law prevents countries from appropriating land by force, and also because recognizing the territory as Israel’s might be perceived as giving the country a green light to take over even more disputed territory in the region.

The US observed that norm until Trump made the controversial move in March to recognize Golan Heights as part of Israel — much to the joy of Netanyahu.

As Vox’s Alex Ward has explained, Trump likely went against precedent in hopes of helping Netanyahu win a political victory as he faced corruption charges and geared up for a tough election. It wasn’t the first time that Trump has made convention-shattering moves to align himself with Netanyahu.

In May 2018, the US opened up a new embassy in Jerusalem as a clear signal that it recognized the city as Israel’s capital. The move upended decades of US foreign policy that specifically avoided taking a stance on who the city belongs to since it’s such a pivotal component of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The opening of the embassy helped fuel a surge in Palestinian protests along Israel’s border with Gaza and resulted in Israeli soldiers killing dozens of protesters and injuring thousands more.

Last month, Trump made the unprecedented move of attempting to intervene in the Israeli electoral process by publicly backing Netanyahu as he struggled to form a governing coalition.

It’s highly unusual for a country to endorse foreign leaders as they form governing coalitions, as they’re considered part of the electoral process of a country. In other words, it’s considered meddling.

Ultimately, though, Trump’s efforts didn’t seem to do the trick: Netanyahu failed to form a government, and Israelis will be voting again in September.

Netanyahu is likely drawing attention to Trump Heights in part because he thinks it’s politically advantageous to remind right-wing Israeli voters of his record of winning over the US on the status of the Golan Heights and the benefits that have been reaped from his strong relationship with Trump.

It might not win him the election, but it certainly won’t hurt his friendship with Trump.

https://www.vox.com/world/2019/6/16/18681116/benjamin-netanyahu-israel-town-golan-heights-trump-heights
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African migrants are arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in record numbers
« Reply #13073 on: June 16, 2019, 06:01:18 PM »

A migrant from Ethiopia relaxes on his bed at the Albergue Para Migrantes El Buen Samaritano as he waits to have his number on a waiting list that is months long to be called to have an initial interview with an United States asylum officer.

African migrants are coming to the U.S.-Mexico border in unprecedented numbers, the AP reports.

Driving the news: In one week, border officials in Texas and Maine have reported stopping more than 500 African migrants fleeing economic hardship and human rights abuses. In 2018, only 211 African migrants were detained along the U.S.-Mexico border.

    The migrants flew to Central America from various African countries and trekked by foot for months to get to the the border.
    Immigrants approaching Texas were mostly from the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Angola.
    Customs and Border Protection, who are used to encountering Spanish-speaking migrants, have been surprised to see the swell in numbers, according to the AP.

https://www.axios.com/african-migrants-mexico-border-record-fa99339a-db22-40db-84b8-f3eca2553c6a.html
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Reshaping Capitalism
« Reply #13074 on: June 16, 2019, 06:07:09 PM »


   "We're all drunks looking under the lamppost.”
    —Aviv Nevo, professor of economics, University of Pennsylvania (2018)

On July 1–2, 2019 in Panmure House, which was once Adam Smith’s former home in Edinburgh, an international group of multidisciplinary thinkers and doers will meet in response to “a call to arms” to discuss “reshaping capitalism and the global order.” The conference is the first major event to be held in Adam Smith’s home since the passing of the founder of capitalism in 1790. It aims to draw together leading scholars and practitioners who care deeply about the balanced, long-term performance of the economic system and the survival and advancement of liberal democracies.

Capitalism In Crisis

The context? Capitalism is in crisis. Put bluntly, the social, economic and political fabric of liberal democracies all around the world is unraveling. Populist leaders pursuing dubious solutions are winning political victories everywhere.

The superficial reasons are easy to see: economic stagnation of median incomes for decades, increasing inequality, social unrest, structural unemployment, deskilling, opioid epidemics, economic migrations, financial bubbles and crashes, climate change, nuclear proliferation, cyber warfare, terrorism—and more.

Paradoxically, from a longer-term perspective, on virtually all of the key dimensions of human material well-being—poverty, literacy, health, freedom, and education—the world is an extraordinarily better place than it was a couple of centuries ago when Adam Smith was inventing the principles of capitalism.

Yet hardly anyone knows it, or believes it, or expects things to get better. As a result, international institutions and alliances that have created seventy years of global peace and prosperity are being systematically undermined. National self-interest and self-defeating trade wars are pursued as individualistic solutions to common problems. Autocracy and authoritarianism are on the rise. The institutional arrangements that enabled the greatest advance in material prosperity in the history of the human race are being systematically undone.

Stunted Innovation

It is also a time of unprecedented technological possibility. The human race has hardly even begun to take advantage of the fact that every person and thing on the planet can now in principle communicate with every other living thing on the planet instantly at almost zero cost. Artificial intelligence enables machines to perform even complex work previously done by humans. New materials are constantly being created. As a result, many human activities are being reinvented before our very eyes.

Yet instead of a golden age of innovation, most organizations in both the public and private sector are mired in bureaucracy and unable to keep up with growing complexity, accelerating change, digitization, burgeoning knowledge work, shifts in power in the marketplace, globalization—all leading to disruption that can come at anytime from anywhere.

The generally slow pace of innovation reflects rampant bureaucratic management. As Gary Hamel explains:

    Strategy gets set at the top. Power trickles down. Big leaders appoint little leaders. Individuals compete for promotion. Compensation correlates with rank. Tasks are assigned. Managers assess performance. Rules tightly circumscribe discretion…”

    Bureaucracy “constitutes the operating system for virtually every large-scale organization on the planet. It is the unchallenged tenets of bureaucracy that disable our organizations.” Bureaucracy is gripped by “the ideology of controlism,” “worships at the altar of conformance.” and “‘cripples’ organizational vitality.”

A New Enlightenment?

Next month’s conference represents a step towards remedying these issues. The conference, entitled “The New Enlightenment: Reshaping Capitalism & the Global Order in a Neo-Mercantilist World”, will be hosted by Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University, and Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. “The gathering of scholars, policymakers, business leaders, and thought leaders will give a chance to reflect on what Smith saw as the moral and political foundation of capitalism, where economic theory and policy have gone in the intervening 250 years, and what we need to do for democracy, society, and the economy to thrive over the next 250 years.”

Yet aspiring to generate “The New Enlightenment” in a two-day conference with such a disparate audience may be a stretch. Participants will need to keep in mind that the original Enlightenment of the 18th Century had the noble goal of solving all human problems through the use of reason, but promptly led to the odd king and queen having their heads chopped off.

The very idea that an elite body will be able to generate ideas commanding broad popular support isn’t obvious when one of the fundamental roots of today’s troubles is a distrust of elites. The thinking that emerges from the conference, even if substantively wonderful, risks being tainted by the nature of the arrangements from which it emerges. It will be important for the participants to come to listen and understand other disciplines before proclaiming “enlightenment.”

Seeing Adam Smith By Daylight

It will also be important to see Adam Smith by daylight. The ideas that great men put forward, as Isaiah Berlin noted, often have consequences quite different from those they intended. Adam Smith has suffered from this phenomenon more than most major thinkers. Not everyone remembers that his insights in The Theory of Moral Sentiments were as critical to the long-term success of the economic system as those laid out in The Wealth of Nations.

At the conference, it will be important to avoid the caricatures of hero-worship and demonization. As Conservative MP Jesse Norman writes in the Financial Times:

    Smith was not an advocate of laissez-faire; the phrase “invisible hand” occurs just once in The Wealth of Nations; and he did not oppose all state interventions in markets. Indeed, he positively advocates a range of them, from specific forms of taxation to regulation of the banks. He did not think selfishness was a virtue, and he was not a misogynist; far from originating the idea of ‘market fundamentalism’, he would have opposed it; and homo economicus and the efficient market hypothesis are later ideas that badly distort Smith’s own views. Industrial capitalism itself, as the combination of freely trading markets and autonomous corporations, is a 19th-century phenomenon, and only emerged two generations after his death.”

The Goal Of A Firm: Businessmen's Self-Interest

One issue that will inevitably emerge at the conference is: what is the purpose of a firm? This is a debate that has been going on for centuries. It was already visible in Smith’s two books. The Theory of Moral Sentiments emphasized the sympathy that human beings have for each other.  The Wealth of Nations emphasized the general benefit that emerges when businessmen pursue their own self-interest.

Smith offered his famous deus ex machina, the “invisible hand”, that helps make the self-interest of businessmen come out right. He emphasized that the effectiveness of the invisible hand depends on “the moral foundations for a well-functioning market system to be operating.” While he put markets at the center of the economic system, their proper functioning requires “the adoption of moral standards and the rule of law.”

The Goal Of A Firm: Maximizing Shareholder Value

Milton Friedman won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1976 but his article in the New York Times on September 13, 1970, was not particularly scholarly. It was instead a ferocious tirade in defense of the idea that the purpose of a firm is to make money for itself. Any business executives who pursued a goal other than making money for their firm were, Friedman said, “unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.”

In 1976, in one of the most-cited, but least-read, business articles of all time, finance professors William Meckling and Michael Jensen offered a quantitative economic rationale for maximizing shareholder value, along with generous stock-based compensation to executives who followed the theory.

In 1990, an article in HBR by Michael Jensen and Kevin Murphy gave shareholder value thinking a new push. The article, “CEO Incentives—It’s Not How Much You Pay, But How” suggested that CEOs were being paid like bureaucrats. Instead, they should be paid with significant amounts of stock so that their interests would be aligned with stockholders. Thereafter, the use of the phrase ‘maximize shareholder value’ exploded and CEOs became very entrepreneurial — but in their own cause, not necessarily their firm ’s cause.

Soon shareholder value thinking was everywhere but the results weren’t good. As Bower and Paine wrote in 2017, it is “weakening companies” and “damaging to the broader economy,” with negative effects on “corporate strategy and resource allocation.” … As a result, managers are under increasing pressure to deliver ever faster and more predictable returns and to curtail riskier investments aimed at meeting future needs.” When the goal of maximizing shareholder value as reflected in the current stock price is joined with bureaucracy, it becomes even more toxic.

Once shareholder value becomes dominant, rather than creating fresh value and new customers through innovation, executives become busy extracting value for shareholders. As a result, it has been  “raining share-buybacks on Wall Street.” The Economist has called share buybacks “an addiction to corporate cocaine.” Reuters has called them “self-cannibalization.” The Financial Times has called them “an overwhelming conflict of interest.” In an article by William Lazonick that won the HBR McKinsey Award for the best article of the year, Harvard Business Review called them “in effect, stock price manipulation.”

Some CEOs have spoken out. The supposed prime exemplar of shareholder value, Jack Welch, denounced it as “the dumbest idea in the world." Vinci Group Chairman and CEO Xavier Huillard called it “totally idiotic.” Alibaba CEO Jack Ma said that “customers are number one; employees are number two and shareholders are number three.” Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, denounced shareholder value thinking as “a cult.” Marc Benioff, Chairman, and CEO of Salesforce has declared it to be “wrong.”

Moreover, it has become steadily more apparent that companies that are run in a traditional fashion of profit maximization, are missing shifts in the marketplace. “Market-leading companies,” as analyst Alan Murray wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “have missed game-changing transformations in industry after industry…not because of ‘bad’ management, but because they followed the dictates of ‘good’ management.”

It turns out that maximizing shareholder value as reflected in the current stock price is not only bad morally and socially: it is also bad economically and financially. It doesn’t work, even on its own terms.

The Goal Of The Firm: Customer Value

By contrast, Peter Drucker stated flatly in 1954, and again in 1973 and 1985, that “there is only one valid purpose of a firm: to create a customer.” The commonsense view that the purpose of a business is to make money for itself, he said, is wrong. Firms, that are dedicated to providing value for their customers, as a result, make money for the company. Making money doesn’t have to be the primary, overriding goal. It can be a measure, not the goal.

Initially, Drucker’s view had little support. Then a funny thing happened. Customers struck back. In the 21st century, power in the market-place shifted from seller to buyer. Through the Internet, globalization, and deregulation, customers suddenly had choices, reliable information about those choices and an ability to communicate with other customers. The firm-centric marketplace turned into a customer-driven marketplace. In this new world, firms that were primarily focused on delivering continuous new value for customers began making huge amounts of money. Those that weren’t, struggled.

By 2018, evidence had accumulated. The shift in power in the marketplace had taken effect and the Fourth Industrial Revolution was well under way. Firms that focused on continuous innovation for customers and were organized to be nimble, adaptable, and able to adjust on the fly to meet the shifting whims of a marketplace driven by end-users were flourishing and had become the largest firms in the world. The examples included: Alibaba, Airbnb, Amazon, Apple, Etsy, Google, Lyft, Menlo Innovations, Microsoft, Saab, Samsung, Spotify, Tencent, Tesla, Uber and Warby Parker. In these firms, profits were, by and large, the result, not the goal, of the enterprise.

By contrast, firms being run in the manner of the lumbering industrial giants of the 20th century, with a focus on profit maximization and a philosophy of controlism, tend to be struggling.

The Fundamental Flaw Of Shareholder Value Thinking

How did so many people get so much so wrong? Shareholder value thinking misses a key aspect of the fabric of reality: the Principle of Obliquity. As pointed out by John Kay in his book, Obliquity: Why Our Goals Are Best Achieved Indirectly (Penguin, 2011), in complex situations, objectives are often best accomplished obliquely, not directly. Central planning is not the most effective way to run an economy. And in business, the single-minded direct pursuit of profit isn’t necessarily the best way to make a profit.

The history of business and economics over recent decades came to resemble a concerted effort to ignore complexity and use linear thinking to discover direct shortcuts to success. Businessmen and economists embraced the embryonic psychology of mainstream economics and missed counter-intuitive peculiarities of the human mind and heart. They assumed that the best way to get to a complex goal is to head for it directly. It isn’t.

Complex settings operate in a non-linear fashion. The actions and intentions of others and their reactions to our actions and intentions are key components that we have to take into account what we plan and do. The articulation or communication of a direct goal can lead to behaviors that prevent the achievement of that goal.

Where explicit articulation of a goal will result in a complex environment pushing back in the opposite direction, an oblique goal will generally be more effective. An unrestrained pursuit of making money at the expense of customers and society will generate push back that prevents its accomplishment.

Dynamic Capabilities

The perceived tension between stakeholder and shareholder theory in microeconomics is said to fade away in “some models of strategic management, which focus on long-run value creation and capture. In particular, the Dynamic Capabilities framework sees long-run evolutionary fitness as requiring attention to a changing kaleidoscope of constituencies and stakeholders that are important to building and maintaining a competitive advantage.12 It is astute investment, private and public, in technological and organizational innovation which animates economic development and growth.”

Similar insights, albeit expressed differently, are also visible in management thinking. Three dynamic capabilities, in particular, have come to the fore, in part due to their role in the emergence of the five largest and fastest growing firms on the planet. Known in management circles as Agile management, the three main principles comprise:

    Customer obsession—a capability to identify, deliver and measure value to customers as the be-all and end-all of the organization.
    Small Teams—a capability to have all work carried out by small self -organizing teams, working in short cycles and focused on delivering value to customers, and:
    Operating as a Network—a capability to obliterate bureaucracy and top-down hierarchy so that the firm operates as an interacting network of teams, all focused on working together to deliver increasing value to customers.

These dynamic capabilities embrace both operational agility (making the existing business better) and strategic agility (generating new products and services and so bringing in new customers). These dynamic capabilities are also independent of terminology, labels, specific proprietary processes or particular brands.

Economics And Innovation

In general, academia has yet to make much of a contribution to the challenge of reshaping capitalism. Universities are not by and large hotbeds of innovation and rethinking their disciplines.

Mainstream economics has failed to keep up with the rapid pace of digital transformation, says Professor Diana Coyle of the University of Manchester. The characteristics of the “weightless.” digital technology pose fundamental challenges to the entire discipline. The instinctive framework for thinking about public policy questions–-static competition, fixed preferences, rival goods as the norm, competition solving most problems, no ownership of data—no longer fits our situation.

Macro-economists themselves declare that they are “stumped” by the “mystery” of stagnant wages: “We're all drunks looking under the lamppost,” declared Aviv Nevo, professor of economics, the University of Pennsylvania at a European conference in Sintra, Portugal.

“From Smith on,” writes Professor Richard Nelson of Yale University, “economists have recognized that discovery or invention of new ways of doing things and new things to be doing was the driving force of economic progress.”  However, if administrative parsimony, responsiveness, and innovativeness are the hallmarks of economic organizations, they have little basis in mainstream microeconomic theory.

Although future prosperity is recognized to depend on innovation, mainstream economics lacks a coherent theory of innovation, says William Lazonick.

    The neoclassical theory of perfect competition has as its roots a firm that has the characteristics of an overcrowded sweatshop in which workers are unable and unwilling to be productive. Economics is in need of a theory of innovative enterprise to replace this neoclassical theory of the firm, and thereby recognize the centrality of organizations to the economy’s operation and performance, while exploding ‘the myth of the market economy.’”

Above all, the balkanization of academic disciplines—entrenched sector-specific systems of accreditation, the difficulties of rethinking fundamental assumptions and the phenomenon of each profession promoting its own solutions—have limited the free flow of ideas and the intellectual cross-fertilization that occurred in Adam Smith’s Edinburgh. All too often, macro-economists, micro-economists, management experts, executives, moral philosophers, and political theorists talk among themselves and miss essential inter-connections that could have led to breakthroughs.

If the Edinburgh conference is to be successful, delegates must come ready to listen and willing to reexamine their own fundamental assumptions.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2019/06/16/reshaping-capitalism/#4b760e4d42b9
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Re: Propaganda Is The Root Of All Our Problems
« Reply #13075 on: June 17, 2019, 05:06:38 AM »
I have to disagree with that.  It is confusing Cause & Effect.

$MONEY$  🤑 is the Root of all our problems.  Propaganda is simply a tool the Elite use to keep the money in their own hands.

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Earliest known signs of cannabis smoking unearthed in China
« Reply #13076 on: June 17, 2019, 05:12:55 AM »
Incense burners found at 2,500-year-old cemetery suggest intentional use of the plant to get high


 A brazier and stones found in the Pamir mountains.

Scorched wooden incense burners unearthed at an ancient burial ground in the mountains of western China contain the oldest clear evidence of cannabis smoking yet found, archaeologists say.

Residues of high potency cannabis found in the burners, and on charred pebbles placed inside them, suggest that funeral rites at the 2,500-year-old Jirzankal cemetery in the Pamir mountains may have been rather hazy affairs.

Scientists believe the stones were heated in a fire before being transferred to the wooden braziers and covered with cannabis, which duly billowed psychoactive smoke. With music as an accompaniment, the heady fumes may have prompted those present to attempt to commune with nature, spirits or the dead.

Researchers have found remnants of cannabis at ancient sites in central Asia before, but the latest discovery points to the intentional use of plants with high levels of the active compound, THC, and to cannabis being inhaled rather than ingested.

“There has been a longstanding debate over the origins of cannabis smoking, there are many speculative claims of ancient use,” said Robert Spengler at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. “This study provides the earliest unambiguous evidence for both elevated chemical production in the plant and also for the burning of the plant as a drug.”

The discovery came about when Chinese archaeologists ran tests on 10 wooden braziers they excavated at the Jirzankal cemetery. They suspected the burners had a ritual role at the site and hoped the analyses would provide some answers.

The scientists scraped material off the burners and four of the charred stones and analysed the pieces with a procedure called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The sensitive technique can detect minuscule amounts of chemical residues.

“To our excitement we identified the biomarkers of cannabis, notably chemicals related to the psychoactive properties of the plant,” said Yimin Yang at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. Specifically, the scientists found cannabinol, a substance produced when THC is oxidised. Given the lack of other cannabis breakdown products, the scientists believe the plants were selected to be high in THC, but whether they were cultivated or found in the wild is unclear.

Alongside the wooden burners and blackened stones, archaeologists excavated wooden plates and bowls, glass beads, pieces of silk and a Chinese harp, an instrument that often featured in ancient funerals and sacrificial ceremonies. The skeletons of individuals buried at the site have not been examined in detail, but some have holes in their skulls and what appear to be fatal cuts and breaks to their bones, raising the possibility that at least some of the dead were sacrificed.

“Nearly all the braziers contain the biomarkers of cannabis and one brazier is severely burned, implying that the braziers were being used during funeral rituals, possibly to communicate with nature, or spirits or deceased people,” Yang said, whose study appears in Science Advances.

The Jirzankal cemetery sits more than 3,000m (9,800ft) above sea level in an arid landscape patterned with parallel stretches of black and white stones. The entrances to individual tombs at the site, some of which hold various bodies, are marked by mounds surrounded by stone circles. The wooden braziers were found in the more elite tombs, the scientists said.

Little is known about the origins of cannabis smoking, but its use at the cemetery resonates with Herodotus’s written account from the 5th century BC. In his Histories, he described how people on the Caspian steppe in the mid-first millennium BC would sit in a small tent and burn the plants on hot stones in a bowl. Other evidence for cannabis use has shown up at burial grounds further north in China and in the Altai mountains of Russia.

Though remote today, the mountainous Pamir region may once have sat astride a busy trade route of the early Silk Road. If cannabis smoking originated there, or nearby, it may have helped to spread cannabis smoking from Central Asia around the world.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jun/12/earliest-known-signs-of-cannabis-smoking-unearthed-in-china?utm_campaign=fullarticle&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=inshorts
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Pollution, anthrax - even nuclear waste - could be released by global warming
« Reply #13077 on: June 17, 2019, 05:16:45 AM »
Methane and CO2 are not the only things being released from the once frozen ground. In the summer of 2016, a group of nomadic reindeer herders began falling sick from a mysterious illness. Rumours began circling of the “Siberian plague”, last seen in the region in 1941. When a young boy and 2,500 reindeer died, the disease was identified: anthrax. Its origin was a defrosting reindeer carcass, a victim of an anthrax outbreak 75 years previously. The 2018 Arctic report card speculates that, “diseases like the Spanish flu, smallpox or the plague that have been wiped out might be frozen in the permafrost.” A French study in 2014 took a 30,000 year-old virus frozen within permafrost, and warmed it back up in the lab. It promptly came back to life, 300 centuries later. (To read more, see BBC Earth’s piece on the diseases hidden in ice.)

Adding to this apocalyptic vision, in 2016 the Doomsday Vault – a sub-permafrost facility in Arctic Norway, which safeguards millions of crop seeds for perpetuity – was breached with meltwater. And listed amongst the membership of The Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost, is Swedish Nuclear Waste Management who presumably also rely on a permanently frozen permafrost (when BBC Future approached them for comment on this point, they did not respond).

Long-preserved human archaeology may also be emerging, but just as quickly lost. A frozen Palaeo-Eskimo site in Greenland, preserved for some 4,000 years, is at risk of being washed away. This is just one of an estimated 180,000 archaeological sites preserved in the permafrost, often with soft tissues and clothing that uniquely remain intact but would rot quickly if exposed. Adam Markham, of the Union of Concerned Scientists has said, “with rapid, human-caused climate change, many sites or the artefacts they contain, will be lost before they have been discovered.”

More modern (and unwanted) human detritus will, however, not rot away: marine microplastics. Due to circular global marine currents, much plastic waste ends up in the Arctic, where it becomes frozen in sea ice or permafrost. A recent study of marine micro-particles demonstrated that concentrations were higher in the Arctic Basin than all other ocean basins in the world. Microplastic concentrations in the Greenland Sea doubled between 2004 and 2015. “Scientists are finding that those microplastics are accumulating across the entire ocean and being dumped into the Arctic”, explains Osborne. “This is something we didn’t [previously] realise was a problem. What scientists are trying to find out now is the composition of these microplastics, what sort of fish are feeding on these… and whether we are essentially eating microplastics through eating these fish.”

Mercury is also entering the food chain, thanks to thawing permafrost. The Arctic is home to the most mercury on the planet. The US Geological Survey estimates there’s a total of 1,656,000 tonnes of mercury trapped in polar ice and permafrost: roughly twice the global amount in all other soils, oceans, and atmosphere. Natali explains that, “mercury often binds up with organic material in places where you have high organic matter content… organism’s bodies don’t remove it, so it bio-accumulates up the food web. Permafrost is almost the perfect storm – you have a lot of mercury in permafrost, it is released into wetland systems, those are the right environment for organisms to take them up, and then [it] heads up the food web. That’s a concern for wildlife, people, and the commercial fishing industry.”

Are there some positives of a thawing Arctic? Could a greener Arctic start to see more trees and vegetation take root, sequestering more carbon and offering new grazing land for animals? Osborne agrees that “the Arctic is greening”. But she adds that studies of animal populations actually suggest that, “warmer temperatures also increase the prevalence of viruses and disease, so we’re seeing a lot more caribou and reindeer becoming more sickly as a result of this warming climate… it is just not an environment that is suited to thrive at these warmer temperatures.” Natali also says that many areas are experiencing “Tundra browning”: the higher temperatures lead surface water to evaporate into the atmosphere, causing plants to die off. Other areas are experiencing sudden flooding due to the ground collapsing. “It’s not happening in 2100 or 2050, it’s now”, says Natali. “You hear people say ‘we used to pick blueberries over there’, and you look over there and it’s a wetland.”

Natali doesn’t want to end the conversation on a downer. There is a lot we can do, she says. The fate of the Arctic is not a foregone conclusion: “The actions taken by the international community will have a substantial impact on just how much carbon will be released and how much of the permafrost will thaw. We need to keep as much of the permafrost as we can frozen. And we do have some control of that.” Our emissions cannot remain “business as usual”. The Arctic depends on it. And we depend on the Arctic.

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190612-the-poisons-released-by-melting-arctic-ice
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Arizona officials are moving toward revoking the license of a health care facility after maggots were found in a patient last week. The decision comes months after a nurse was charged with raping an incapacitated patient at the same facility, the Hacienda HealthCare De Los Angeles' Intermediate Care Facility for the Intellectually Disabled (ICF-IID) in Phoenix.

David Leibowitz, a spokesperson for the facility, told CBS News that a 28-year-old patient was found to have "several" maggots beneath his gauze bandage near his stoma incision. The incident was reported to oversight agencies and the patient was taken to a hospital for treatment, he said in a statement issued Friday.

According to Leibowitz, no further issues were identified and no other Hacienda residents were "similarly impacted."

Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) spokesperson Chris Minnick told CBS News in a statement that the state issued a notice of intent to revoke Hacienda ICF-IID's license Friday.

"Based on findings from a recent survey and an extremely disturbing incident involving inadequate patient care that was reported to and investigated by ADHS this week, the Department has determined strong and immediate action is necessary to further protect the Hacienda ICF-IID residents," the statement said.

According to the notice, Hacienda has 30 days to decide if it will request a hearing and fight back against the state to keep its license, reports CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO-TV. If Hacienda doesn't appeal, the license will automatically be revoked July 16.

Notice of intent allows ADHS to have increased accountability and oversight of the Hacienda HealthCare, but it does not mean the facility will "immediately shut down," according to Minnick. The state will continue to work with Hacienda to ensure there is no interruption of services.

Months earlier, authorities alleged Nathan Sutherland, a nurse, raped a disabled 29-year-old woman at the Hacienda HealthCare facility. She had been severely incapacitated since she was 3 years old, and other workers at Hacienda were shocked when she unexpectedly gave birth in December. Sutherland pleaded not guilty to the charges in February. 

After the patient gave birth, Hacienda's CEO resigned, along with a doctor. Another doctor was suspended.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hacienda-healthcare-arizona-phoenix-maggot-nursing-home/?ftag=CNM-00-10aag7e
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Rescue efforts underway after China quake kills at least 12
« Reply #13079 on: June 18, 2019, 05:31:33 AM »


BEIJING (AP) — Rescue efforts were underway Tuesday after an earthquake in southwestern China left 12 people dead and 135 others injured, authorities said.

Hundreds of firefighters arrived early Tuesday and rescued at least eight trapped people, the Chinese Ministry of Emergency Management said.

State broadcaster CCTV showed soldiers using a chainsaw to cut through a wooden door and rescue a couple under a fallen kitchen wall.

More than 4,400 people have been evacuated after 73 houses collapsed, authorities said.

Most of the deaths were caused by damage to houses, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

A major highway and sections of other roads were closed, Xinhua said. CCTV showed a landslide down a hill and onto a road.

Sichuan emergency management said direct economic losses exceeded 10 million yuan ($1.4 million).

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake and a 5.1 magnitude aftershock struck the area in Sichuan province late Monday night. Aftershocks continued into Tuesday morning.

The hardest-hit area appeared to be Changning country, part of Yibin city. CCTV reported that a hospital in Changning transferred all of its patients because of building damage.

https://apnews.com/37592a1a565841c585723bdd58d2ac88

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