AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1582281 times)

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Egyptians protest against President Fattah al-Sisi
« Reply #14115 on: September 21, 2019, 05:57:40 AM »
Tear gas has been fired to disperse demonstrators in Egypt, at some of the first protests since President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi took power in 2014.

Hundreds of Egyptians filled Tahrir Square in Cairo - a key site of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution - late on Friday demanding his resignation.

Demonstrations also took place elsewhere around the country.

The protests were in response to corruption allegations against President Sisi's government.

At least 74 people have been arrested, AFP news agency reports.

An Egyptian businessman and actor, Mohamed Ali, has posted a series of videos online accusing the country's leader of wasting millions on luxury residences and hotels while millions of Egyptians live in poverty. Egypt has pursued a policy of economic austerity in recent years.

President Sisi has dismissed the allegations as "lies and slander".
What happened on Friday?

"Sisi out" and "The people want to overthrow the regime" topped Egyptian Twitter's trending list late on Friday.

Hundreds of anti-regime protesters gathered in and around Tahrir Square despite efforts to disperse them.

Demonstrations were also reported in Egypt's second-largest city, Alexandria, as well as in Suez and the town of Mahalla el-Kubra which is north of Cairo.
Skip Twitter post by @EduardCousin
Report

End of Twitter post by @EduardCousin

Even a few days ago such scenes would have "unthinkable", BBC correspondent Sally Nabil tweeted.

Mr Ali, who lives in self-imposed exile in Spain, posted his first video on 2 September. In a video posted on Tuesday, he reportedly said that if President Sisi did not resign by Thursday "the Egyptian people will come out to the squares on Friday in protest".

In 2013, Mr Sisi led the military's overthrow of Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, following protests against his rule.

Since then, he has overseen what human rights groups say is an unprecedented crackdown on dissent that has led to the detention of tens of thousands of people.

Egyptians voted to approve constitutional changes in April that could extend Mr Sisi's term in office until 2030, on a turnout of 44%.

He won 97% of the vote in 2018's presidential election, when he faced no serious opposition.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-49777287
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The Department of Education is threatening to revoke funding for a joint Duke/UNC course because it allegedly favors Islam over Judaism and Christianity

The Trump administration is threatening to cut funding for a Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University, arguing that it's misusing a federal grant to advance "ideological priorities" and unfairly promote "the positive aspects of Islam" but not Christianity or Judaism.

An Aug. 29 letter from the U.S. Education Department orders the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies to revise its offerings by Sept. 22 or risk losing future funding from a federal grant that's awarded to dozens of universities to support foreign language instruction. The consortium received $235,000 from the grant last year, according to Education Department data.

A statement from the UNC-Chapel Hill says the consortium "deeply values its partnership with the Department of Education" and is "committed to working with the department to provide more information about its programs." Officials at Duke declined to comment. The Education Department declined to say if it's examining similar programs at other schools.

Academic freedom advocates say the government could be setting a dangerous precedent if it injects politics into funding decisions. Some said they had never heard of the Education Department asserting control over such minute details of a program's offerings.

"Is the government now going to judge funding programs based on the opinions of instructors or the approach of each course?" said Henry Reichman, chairman of a committee on academic freedom for the American Association of University Professors. "The odor of right wing political correctness that comes through this definitely could have a chilling effect."


The inquiry in UNC and Duke's joint program is part of a broader effort the Education Department, led by Betsy DeVos, says is intended to root out anti-Semitism at U.S. universities.

More than a dozen universities receive National Resource Center grants for their Middle East programs, including Columbia, Georgetown, Yale and the University of Texas. The Duke-UNC consortium was founded in 2005 and first received the grant nearly a decade ago.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ordered an investigation into the program in June after North Carolina Rep. George Holding, a Republican, complained that it hosted a taxpayer-funded conference with "severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric." The conference, titled "Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities," included a rapper who performed a "brazenly anti-Semitic song," Holding said in an April 15 letter.

In a response, DeVos said she was "troubled" by Holding's letter and would take a closer look at the consortium.

The inquiry joins a broader Education Department effort to root out anti-Semitism at U.S. universities. Speaking at a summit on the topic in July, DeVos attacked a movement to boycott Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, calling it a "pernicious threat" on college campuses.

Last year, the department reopened an investigation at Rutgers University in which an outside group was accused of charging Jewish attendees for admission while allowing others in for free.

In the UNC-Duke case, the department's findings did not directly address any bias against Israel but instead evaluated whether the consortium's proposed activities met the goals of the National Resource Center program, which was created in 1965 to support language and culture initiatives that prepare students for careers in diplomacy and national security.

Investigators concluded that the consortium intended to use federal money on offerings that are "plainly unqualified for taxpayer support," adding that foreign language and national security instruction have "taken a back seat to other priorities." The department cited several courses, conferences and academic papers that it says have "little or no relevance" to the grant's goals.

"Although a conference focused on 'Love and Desire in Modern Iran' and one focused on Middle East film criticism may be relevant in academia, we do not see how these activities support the development of foreign language and international expertise for the benefit of U.S. national security and economic stability," the letter said.

Investigators also saw a disconnect between the grant's mission and some academic papers by scholars at the consortium. They objected to one paper titled "Performance, Gender-Bending and Subversion in the Early Modern Ottoman Intellectual History," and another titled "Radical Love: Teachings from Islamic Mystical Tradition."

The letter accused the consortium of failing to provide a "balance of perspectives" on religion. It said there is "a considerable emphasis" placed on "understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East."

It added that there are few offerings on discrimination faced by religious minorities in the Middle East, "including Christians, Jews, Baha'is, Yadizis, Kurds, Druze and others." Department officials said the grant's rules require programs to provide a "full understanding" of the regions they study.

Jay Smith, a history professor at UNC and vice president of its chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said the letter amounts to "ideologically driven harassment." He said the Education Department official who signed the letter, Robert King, "should stay in his lane and allow the experts to determine what constitutes a 'full understanding' of the Middle East."

But Holding, the Republican who sparked the investigation, said it's clear the consortium stepped outside the bounds of the grant. The Education Department has an obligation to ensure its funding is used as intended, he said, adding that other schools should make sure they're following the rules.

"This has fallen through the cracks, and this could be going on at other educational institutions," he said in an interview. "If the department's providing the money and giving guidance on how the money is to be used, I think they can be as in the weeds as they need to be."

The National Resource Center grant program provided a total of $22 million to language programs at about 40 universities last year. Of that total, about $3.5 million was for Middle East programs.

Along with its objection to the nature of the UNC-Duke offerings, the department also said it is concerned that, out of 6,800 students enrolled in the consortium's courses, just 960 were enrolled in Middle East language classes, and that only 11% of the program's graduates pursue careers in government, while 35% takes jobs in academia.

Department officials instructed the consortium to provide a "revised schedule of activities" for the next year and to explain how each offering promotes foreign language learning and advances national security interest.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-administration-orders-duke-unc-address-alleged-pro-islam-bias-n1057006
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Mystery towers going up all over Cincinnati area
« Reply #14117 on: September 21, 2019, 05:23:34 PM »
Homeowners worry about possible health effects

If you drive around the Cincinnati area you may have noticed mysterious cylinder-type cell phone towers, that look nothing like any cell tower most of us have seen.

Now, a growing number of Tri-Staters are getting worried about these towers, and the 5G signals they believe they will soon be sending out, as part of the nationwide rollout of faster 5G cell service.

Michelle Krinsky is a nurse who was out walking near her Cleves home earlier this summer, when she looked up and said, "What's that? You can see it's this ugly menace sitting there," she said.

Right at the entrance to the Village of Cleves from US 50 (River Road) is the strangest looking cell tower many people have ever seen.

Dean Beckett, who owns Ann's Tavern nearby, says his customers have been asking him about it.

"It looks like a big heater to me," he said, "I have no idea what it is."

Krinsky decided to call the village administration office, then Hamilton County, and the State of Ohio, but no one knew anything about it, she says.

The most information she and some other homeowners were able to find out is that the tower is on the US 50 right-of-way, not in the Village, so that local officials would not have to be consulted.

"We don't know who put it up, if it is running 4G right now, and if it will run 5G soon," she said.


Mystery tower in Cleves, Ohio

Why 5G service sparks fears

5G cell service has become the hottest controversy in many communities this year, as Verizon rolls it out to its first 30 cities -- among them, Cincinnati.

Krinsky has now joined those protesting it locally, because she says we don't know enough about health effects.

Some studies claim 5G transmissions can contribute to a variety of health problems, and a number of cities are attempting to stop the towers and slow the rollout.

"As a registered nurse, I am very much about informed consent," she said, "which is the right to choose, the right to decline." But she says community residents were never given an option when it came to the giant cylinder tower.

How do you know if 5G is coming?

Here's telltale sign your community is about get 5G towers: You'll see white PVC tubes, typically with an orange cap, popping out of the ground. WCPO reported on these strange tubes when they started appearing last year, with "Verizon Fiber" printed on them.

These pipes contain fiber lines that then connect all the 5G towers, as they have to be connected with fiber line to reach their promised high speeds.

The Facebook group SWORT, Southwest Ohio for Reasonable Technology, claims it has spotted small, cylindrical 5G towers in Finneytown, West Chester, Liberty Township, and in Springdale by the Tri-County Mall.

But the FCC allows these towers to go in with almost no local approval. The FCC and FAA claim there are no proven links between 5G cell service and health effects, and say local residents have no reason to fear these new towers.

But Hamilton County Engineer Ted Hubbard told us a few months ago that even he, and other county officials are left in the dark.

"The ownership is a big question," Hubbard said. "And I have asked that. We are having a hard time finding out who actually owns it."

That means no one has publicly stated who owns the mysterious Cleves tower, or any of the others popping up across the Tri State. It has no company name on the base.

A Verizon corporate spokesman, David Weissmann, confirmed to WCPO that the company is installing 5G towers in the Cincinnati area -- as he says one of the 30 cities that will soon have Verizon 5G service.

However, he said the strange Cleves tower "is not Verizon equipment."

Which means the mystery continues about the alien-looking structure towering over the Village of Cleves.

As always, don't waste your money.

https://www.wcpo.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/mystery-towers-going-up-all-over-cincinnati-area
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According to a 2018 report from the Pew Research Center, 52% of American adults live in “middle class” households. The median income of that group was $78,442 in 2016.

Pew defines the middle class as adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median. That’s after incomes have been adjusted for household size, since smaller households require less money to support the same lifestyle as larger ones.

About one-fifth of American households, 19%, are considered upper class, while 29% are lower class. The median income of upper class households was $187,872 in 2016. For lower income households, it was $25,624.

These numbers are in 2016 dollars and scaled to reflect a three-person household.

Pew looked at various household sizes. Here’s the income range you’d have to earn each year to be considered middle class, depending on the size of your family:

    Household of one: $26,093 to $78,281
    Household of two: $36,902 to $110,706
    Household of three: $45,195 to $135,586
    Household of four: $52,187 to $156,561
    Household of five: $58,347 to $175,041

The share of U.S. adults considered middle class varies depending on where you live, Pew notes: “The 10 areas with the highest concentrations of middle class adults are located in the Midwest or the Northeast, with the exception of Ogden-Clearfield, Utah. These areas are also more reliant on manufacturing than the nation overall.”

The metro with the highest share is Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where 65% of adults are considered middle class.

Use Pew’s income calculator  ( https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/06/are-you-in-the-american-middle-class/ ) to find out which group you are in, compared to other adults in your metro and among American adults overall. It also lets you find out which group you’re in compared with other adults similar to you in education, age, race or ethnicity and marital status.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/21/how-much-money-the-american-middle-class-earns.html
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President Trump has cut foreign aid to Guatemala and demanded the country do more to stem migration to the United States. However, in an internal report obtained exclusively by NBC News, U.S. Customs and Border Protection found that the overwhelming factor behind the record migration is a crop shortage that left citizens impoverished and starving.

https://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/migrants-fled-guatemala-for-u-s-after-drought-and-food-shortages-government-report-finds-69583941618
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ANTARCTICA scientists made a stunning discovery 3,500 metres below the ice, leading one to state they had "never seen anything like this before," a documentary revealed.

Expedition Antarctica took to the waters for a 50-day journey across the Southern Ocean and beyond the icy continent earlier this year. On board New Zealand’s research vessel RV Tangaroa, an international team used state-of-the-art technology to scan the seabed. The Aegis imaging system allowed scientists to capture fascinated images like nothing seen before.

While the mission is still ongoing, “The Secrets of Antarctica” documentary was released on YouTube in July revealing the amazing finds to date.

The narrator explained: “Having braved ice storms, broken equipment and rough seas for almost two months, the team braces itself for the most high-pressured assignment of them all.

“They will delve 3,500 metres into the abyssal plain, a depth almost as high as the Swiss Alps.

“It will endure 300 times more pressure than we experience every day.


Antarctica scientists were stunned by the creature

“Suddenly the abyssal plain reveals itself, it looks barren, like the surface of Mars, but a closer look reveals life that no one has ever witnessed in Antarctica at all.”

However, the scientists could not leave it there.

They wanted a closer look at some of the marine life and so sent down a fishing net.

The narrator added: “The team take the opportunity to trawl the bottom, having set up more than 5,000 of cable into the sea.

“The beam trawl finally comes aboard at 2:00am and, after six hours of waiting, the team gets its reward.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1175764/antarctica-expedition-tangaroa-creature-ice-marine-life-southern-ocean-spt
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George Will: Conservatives Would Win if Trump Loses
« Reply #14121 on: September 22, 2019, 07:11:40 AM »
The conservative columnist and author argues that “we have to clear the ground and remove this awful presence from our lives.”



Donald Trump is not a conservative.

He’s not a traditionalist, institutionalist, or incrementalist. He’s not a free-trader. He’s openly hostile to meritocracy, accountability, and the rule of law. He does not advocate for smaller government or smaller deficits. His views on free expression, privacy, and due process are frighteningly authoritarian.

George Will is a conservative and is so thoroughly unimpressed with Trump’s conservative credentials and presidency that he left Trump entirely out of The Conservative Sensibility, his new 600-page primer for post-Trump conservatism. Will confirmed the omission—unprompted—in the first minute of an interview with The Daily Beast.

Will is 78 years old, has a Pulitzer Prize, and has written more than a dozen books, but The Conservative Sensibility is not a valedictory memoir or a regurgitation of Washington Post columns. It’s a road map, a call to conservatives to put the Trump mess behind them and start fresh with new ideas and with Congress re-centered as the country’s seat of power.

As soon as I picked up the book, I started seeing you everywhere—Meet the Press, Morning Joe, your Washington Post column, social media.

I’m an oppressive presence. [Laughs.] I’m going back to baseball for the next book I write. I spend most of my time trying to avoid talking about Donald Trump. I wrote The Conservative Sensibility, in which his name does not appear, and every time I go on television the host says, “I see Trump is not mentioned in your book. Let’s talk about Trump.”

Let’s start there since you brought it up. [Laughs.] The book reads partly as a policy guide for a post-Trump Republican Party. Was that the idea?

I put “sensibility” in the title because a sensibility to me is more than an attitude but less than an agenda. I didn’t want to tell people what to think but how to think, and I didn’t want to write another Washington book or another book about the current president. The book is an exercise in intellectual archaeology in the American founding and the extraordinarily forthright and successful progressive rebellion against that.

One of the foundational elements of the book is the idea of natural rights. What do you mean when you write about natural rights?

Natural rights are rights that are conducive to the flourishing of creatures of our nature. Once you adopt that language—and our founders did—you necessarily adopt the idea that there is a fixed human nature. The natural-rights doctrine limits government in an effort to secure our natural rights that preexist government and not to give us those rights.

Once you accept that there is a human nature, you have to limit government in a way that prevents the enormous totalitarian temptation that so many governments succumbed to in the 20th century. If you reject the idea of a fixed human nature and define human beings as creatures who can define their culture, that leads to the temptation that you can use government to shape the culture and shape a new kind of person. That’s what ruined the 20th century.

What is that human nature? That we’re primates who club each other on the heads, steal each other’s women, and start wars?

We have charitable impulses. We have a moral sense. We have a sense of justice and injustice. We argue constantly, and argument is inherent in our Constitution. What is an unreasonable search and seizure? What is an establishment of religion? We litigate political philosophy in the Supreme Court. I start the book with two contrasting Supreme Court cases on saluting the flag, and that is how we do political philosophy.

The concept of natural rights is easier for me to understand as a legal fiction that imports certain ethics and standards—the Golden Rule, the Hippocratic Oath, etc.—that are manifestations more of what we ought to have than of human nature.

I agree with that. Those of us who believe in natural rights without a theological underpinning are essentially rule utilitarians. Societies flourish when they acknowledge, respect, and follow certain rules.

You quote John Dewey in the book writing that natural rights “exist only in the kingdom of mythological zoology.” What does he mean?

He was taking seriously the proposition that people like Hobbes and Locke who wrote about the state of human nature were taking it very seriously. It seems obvious to me that Locke thought of the state of human nature as a heuristic device to help us think about what people were like without government. Were they as barbarous as Hobbes saw, or were they naturally sociable as Locke saw?

Governments are instituted to cure—and Locke’s word here—the inconveniences of the state of human nature. Once you establish that there is a natural sociability in human nature, and I think there certainly is, government becomes an important but not all-important.

As you move forward from conservatism to the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, etc., is that necessarily in tension with the idea of a government existing primarily to secure certain rights?

The founders would say that our rights are never all that secure because there are so many ways that government and society can go wrong. Woodrow Wilson thought that the separation of powers was fine when we had four million people living mostly on the Atlantic coast but that a more complex society needed a more complex government. Wilson put intellectual theory to Teddy Roosevelt’s theory that a president could do whatever he damn well pleased as long as it wasn’t explicitly forbidden by the Constitution or statute.

Progressives said that as society becomes more complex, there is more urgency for government to intervene and supervise it. The Hayek view is that this is exactly wrong and that the more complex a society becomes the more perilous it is for governments to intervene. As a society becomes more complicated, governments know less of what there is to know and markets—which are simply information-aggregating mechanisms—should be allowed to work.

The Supreme Court, though, has taken a fairly protective view of individual rights like speech, search and seizure, handguns, etc.

That’s exactly right and fairly recent. In the 19th century, the Supreme Court was not as focused on protecting individual rights. Since World War II, protecting individual rights has been a major arena for the Supreme Court.

Is that incompatible, though, with a government building highways or providing Medicare for all?

Not a bit. Madison’s idea in Federalist 45 that the powers granted to the federal government would be few and defined is no longer the case. The interstate highway system started as the National Defense Highway Act. I went through Princeton’s graduate school supported by a grant provided by the National Defense Education Act. In the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of the 1960s, the federal government moved into an area of state and local responsibility, and No Child Left Behind was a subsequent iteration of that.

The founding era looks more and more to me like the establishment of a government for the benefit of white landowners, and developments like the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 have done a lot of the “more perfect union” heavy lifting. That is a big part of the broadening of federal powers.

All of those cumulative inclusions were implicit in the founders’ vocabulary. The political genius of Martin Luther King was to say that he was not trying to revolutionize America, that he was trying to restore America to its commitments. He closely linked his movement to the founders’ rhetoric.

My conservative sensibility is not opposed to ameliorative government. It is perfectly fine for the American people to decide collectively in 1935 that they want Social Security, or to decide collectively in 1965 that they want Medicare. In 2025, maybe that will be single-payer health care. Those are all within the broad parameters of reasonable democratic choice.
“'NAFTA has been so good for the Mexican economy that net migration to the United States has been negative for seven years now. You’d think immigration hawks would have connected those dots by now.'”
— George Will

That’s a lot different than current trade and immigration policies that are aimed mainly at driving racial resentment.

I was on a radio show with a big Trump supporter who talked about how great it is what Trump is doing about immigration and complaining about NAFTA. I responded that NAFTA has been so good for the Mexican economy that net migration to the United States has been negative for seven years now. You’d think immigration hawks would have connected those dots by now.

Do you see anything happening on the right that signals a policy shift in a post-Trump Republican Party?

Not yet. Frankly, one of the reasons I wanted to write this book was to provide a useful work for conservatives when they return from being a cult of personality to being a political party. After Margaret Thatcher became the leader of the conservative wing of Parliament, she pulled out a copy of Hayek’s The Constitution of Liberty, slammed it on the desk, and said “This is what we think.” I have a fantasy of a future conservative leader slamming The Conservative Sensibility on the desk and saying the same thing.

What makes Elizabeth Warren interesting and admirable is not that she’s right—I think she’s wrong about almost everything—but that she brings gravity to politics. I think it’s still an open question of whether Republicans will bring ideas back to politics after we decide that we can’t properly reduce political philosophy to, “Only I can fix it.”

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign was built around “It’s the economy, stupid. Change vs. more of the same. Don’t forget health care.” Should the Republicans have a 2024 mantra that fits on a postcard?

In 1964, when I cast my first vote in a presidential election for Barry Goldwater, 77 percent of the American people said they trusted the American government to do the right thing all of the time or most of the time. Today’s it’s 17 percent. I would urge people to ask why. We need to have a conversation about the proper scope and actual competence of government. Progressives have an enormous stake in this. Everything progressives want to do depends on strong government, and that depends on confidence in government.

Republicans don’t want good government. That runs counter to their central argument that the government is our main problem, and they strengthen that argument by running the government badly.

Republicans do nothing to actually shrink government, though. Providing entitlements, which is most of what government does today, has grown faster under Republican presidents than it has under Democratic presidents.

Would conservatives be better served by Trump losing in 2020 and having to find an actual policy agenda going forward?

Yes, yes, and yes. There’s no question about that.

What would that look like?

You would get arguments outside the political class from people like Yuval Levin and hopefully me. Within the political class, people would start paying attention to those arguments. Postwar conservatism was a bookish movement—Richard Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences and Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman—that evolved into a network of intellectual think tanks like American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, and the Heritage Foundation.

I think we’ll have that again. There will be younger writers and younger politicians, and we’ll have a genuine fight to see what comes next. There are signs of intelligent life in Congress, which knows it has delegated its job to presidents who will not always be progressives. But first, we have to clear the ground and remove this awful presence from our lives.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/george-will-conservatives-would-win-if-trump-loses?via=rss
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The Himalayas Are Simultaneously Burning and Flooding: What Are We Even Doing?
« Reply #14122 on: September 22, 2019, 07:17:52 AM »
The melting of the world’s highest mountains will alter water supplies for a quarter of the planet’s people, with catastrophic consequences.



Like many people I know, I’ve escaped the brutal heat of Mumbai by going AWOL in the Himalayas each summer for the best part of the last decade. Apart from revelling in the snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, thundering rivers and fresh rubs from Parvati Valley, I also find it particularly exciting to slip into warm woolies—an indulgence one can never enjoy back in the sweltering city. But this June something had changed.

Attending a friend’s wedding in Kullu in Himachal Pradesh, I was aghast to find ceiling and table fans everywhere; these household amenities were unheard of just two years ago. Then I saw the temperature, and it all made sense: 32-degrees Celsius during the day, at a height of almost 5,000 feet above sea level, in the heart of the Himalayas! The nearby town of Bhuntar, which lies at an elevation of 6,700 feet, hit an unprecedented 38 degrees. Whether you live there or not, or are a frequent traveller or not, this should be alarming for us all.

The Himalayas are the home to the tallest mountains in the world, and are covered in a layer of ice that’s beaten only by the North and South Poles, earning them the title of the “Third Pole”. They are responsible for three of our biggest river systems: the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra, and they regulate South Asian weather systems and climate at large.

But satellite data from 1975-2000 shows that climate change is “eating” at the Himalayan glaciers, causing them to melt at double the speed since 2000. In recent years, the glaciers have lost about eight billion tons of water a year—or the equivalent of 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools. While the rising temperatures are exposing long-buried corpses on Mount Everest, the permafrost over the Tibetan plateau that formed over 2 million years has decreased by 20 percent in the last three decades. All the awful water crisis stories that headline our newspapers can be traced to the mountains and the shortages originating there. By the year 2100, at least a third of the Himalayan glaciers will be lost, and the mountains could heat up by 4.4 degrees Celsius, even if immediate measures were taken to cut emissions. With no measures, up to two-thirds of the glaciers could be lost.

 “Broadly, there are two main causes leading to the temperature rise,” says environmental activist Guman Singh from Himachal-based environmental group Himalaya Niti Abhiyan. “One is global climate change, which is impacting the whole planet and is adversely affecting the Himalayas as well. The other is man-made causes like increased tourism, the building of dams, new houses, hydro projects, and general urban development.”
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The temperature rise that is being witnessed globally can be seen in the Himalayas with twice or three times the rise. It’s not the building of the many small dams here that’s as much of a problem as is the machinery, tunnelling and the invasive nature of construction that leads to ecological damage. The Himalayas have a certain carrying capacity, which is to say the amount of load they can take at any given time; these mountains are fragile, and such rampant disregard for their fragility causes much of the damage we’re talking about.

“Black carbon is another point of concern,” adds Singh. “The burning of organic matter creates heavy fumes and a significant heat, which also contributes to glacier melting. As the population and tourism have increased, so has the burning and the increase of black carbon.”

 Weather out here is both a cause and consequence of climate change. Now, Singh says, seasons aren’t clockwork like they have been for so many centuries. “Plants don’t grow the way they used to, in the places they used to. However, with modern technology a lot of that can be compensated for, but the long-term impacts are significant. The drying up of springs and erratic changes in river systems will mean less water for everyone, not just those living in these mountains.”

With the advent of social media, the influx of tourism in the mountains has risen significantly. Locals welcome this increase in trade, but they want tourists numbers to be managed more responsibly. More than climate change, it’s irresponsible tourism that’s wrecking immediate havoc. India’s population is on a steady increase, and so naturally, impact on the environment has also increased. The lack of awareness in people and governments, and the absence of policies and regulation are largely culpable for this state of affairs in so many of the country’s mountains.

 The government of Sikkim, however, a state in the eastern Himalayas, has acknowledged this and so, out there, you will find no stalls/shops on the way to your destination, only at the final arrival point. There are no big concrete structures, and the people and the municipality have done a good job of maintaining the cleanliness and ecological balance of the place. Plastics being brought in by tourists are also monitored, which is the need of the hour. Himachal has a ban on plastics, so to speak, but only on polythene shopping bags, while processed food packaging remains unchecked. Not to mention the fact there’s no system in place to ensure proper disposal of these items, which leads to severe degradation of soil and water systems.

Multiple studies and reports have shown how melting glaciers are causing more water to flow off the mountains at a faster rate, which is causing the glacial lake outburst floods we’ve read so much about over the last few years. Rivers were overflowing and causing floods in Himachal only a month ago, and one cause is irresponsible tourism. Sure, the government needs to accept more responsibility and take better measures from an administrative and municipal standpoint, but the simplest thing that each of us can do is be more responsible tourists, and leave the place the way we found it.

 This year, when I went up north on my annual sojourn, I learned that farmers who have grown apples for decades, have now moved on to producing other crops because warmers winters and tepid summers are affecting the quality of the fruit, which serves as one of the most important cash crops of the state. “The ones we grow today cannot be compared to the fruit we grew just 10 years ago,” says Kishan Sharma, a farmer in Himachal Pradesh’s Shimla district. “The plants are not getting enough chilling hours. That’s why the main areas of cultivation have now moved to the higher areas like Kinnaur and Lahaul while we are really suffering.”
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I know that my trips to future trips to a cool and wet Himachal Pradesh are limited. Today, climate change threatens the livelihoods and lives of people living here—but tomorrow, it will be us.

https://www.vice.com/amp/en_au/article/zmjzwx/the-himalayas-are-simultaneously-burning-and-flooding-what-are-we-even-doing?__twitter_impression=true
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No One Seemed To Notice Greta Thunberg’s Critique Of The Green New Deal
« Reply #14123 on: September 22, 2019, 07:25:56 AM »
Greta Thunberg’s rebuke of Congress last week took no prisoners and showed no favor to heroes of the left who have styled themselves friends of the environment.

Though Thunberg did not utter the words “Green New Deal,” she characterized partisan efforts that envision an idealized future as unhelpful dreams, and her criticism culminated in these words:

    “No matter how political the background to this crisis may be, we must not allow this to continue to be a partisan political question. The climate and ecological crisis is beyond party politics. And our main enemy right now is not our political opponents. Our main enemy now is physics. And we can not make ‘deals’ with physics.”

The Achilles’ Heel of the Green New Deal is that it deploys the climate crisis as a liberal cause, which ensures conservative opposition.

The climate crisis is a universal cause.

Conservatives need a way to get on board. It’s difficult for them to support a policy that evokes the New Deal. And conservative opposition will relegate the Green New Deal to the realm of fantasy at least until a cataclysm arrives like the one that inspired the original New Deal.

We need a climate policy sooner than that.

To explain Greta’s sudden, global impact, people have begun speaking of her superpowers. One might be that at 16 she understands political reality better than some who have spent their lives in politics.

Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey has been in Congress more than 40 years, often leading the climate charge there, if we can call it a charge. Markey is one of the good guys on climate, by all accounts, one of the best. I’ll long remember the night he and I walked out of the Copenhagen Climate Conference at the same moment and strolled together toward the bus stop. How nice, I thought, Markey is taking the bus. But halfway there a long black limousine sidled up to the curb and Markey climbed in. You see, he’s no Greta.

Maybe that mixture of partisan fantasy and convenient compromise explains why Markey, climate’s champion in Congress, hasn’t gotten the job done. It is perhaps why even in a Democratically-controlled Congress, with a Democratic president, the Waxman-Markey Bill failed. His Green New Deal may get us no closer.

Greta:

    “Wherever I go I seem to be surrounded by fairytales. Business leaders, elected officials all across the political spectrum spending their time making up and telling bedtime stories that soothe us, that make us go back to sleep. These are ‘feel-good’ stories about how we are going to fix everything. How wonderful everything is going to be when we have ‘solved’ everything. But the problem we are facing is not that we lack the ability to dream, or to imagine a better world. The problem now is that we need to wake up. It’s time to face the reality, the facts, the science. And the science doesn’t mainly speak of ‘great opportunities to create the society we always wanted’. It tells of unspoken human sufferings, which will get worse and worse the longer we delay action – unless we start to act now. And yes, of course a sustainable transformed world will include lots of new benefits. But you have to understand. This is not primarily an opportunity to create new green jobs, new businesses or green economic growth. This is above all an emergency, and not just any emergency. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.”

Greta can’t remember the last time we learned this lesson about partisanship, because she hadn’t been born yet. But Markey must remember it.

The Republican Party used to support climate action. We owe our participation in the Paris Agreement not just to Barack Obama, who committed us to it, but to George H.W. Bush, who ratified the treaty that created the United Nations Framework on Climate Change.

But when Al Gore ran for president in 2000, climate change became a partisan issue, and the climate denialism that had been lurking in damp, self-interested corners of the culture went mainstream in the Republican Party. What better way to discredit the candidate they called “Ozone.”

Before long, Republicans could scarcely admit that science was true without being ousted from office by the Tea Party. And now denialism is personified in the Commander in Chief.

That’s what partisan politics gets you.

So Greta resists the temptation to side with the friendlies. It was Obama who told Greta, over a fistbump last week, “You and me, we’re a team.” And though Greta went along with that, she didn’t change her message.

Moments later, speaking to Obama’s Capitol Hill allies, including Markey, she said, “I know you’re trying, but just not hard enough.”

To me, Greta’s most important superpower is her integrity. She’s not going to take a limo back to the hotel. She’s not going to compromise for convenience. She’s not going to compromise for feel-good friends or would-be allies. She’s not going to seduce us with utopian palliatives. She’s going to keep telling the truth.

She sailed here just to insist that we read and heed the science.

Integrity secures her a place in the history of activism. For a quality so simple, so straightforward, she appears in the company of lions of non-violence, endurance and compassion—Gandhi and King, Mandela, Mother Theresa and Tenzin Gyatso—this prescient Swedish teen with an uncompromising call for us to hear the unvarnished truth.

But she doesn’t want our praise. She wants us to take real action. Let’s do.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2019/09/22/no-one-seemed-to-notice-greta-thunbergs-critique-of-the-green-new-deal/amp/
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Climate change: Impacts 'accelerating' as leaders gather for UN talks
« Reply #14124 on: September 22, 2019, 06:09:02 PM »
The signs and impacts of global heating are speeding up, the latest science on climate change, published ahead of key UN talks in New York, says.

The data, compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), says the five-year period from 2014 to 2019 is the warmest on record.

Sea-level rise has accelerated significantly over the same period, as CO2 emissions have hit new highs.

The WMO says carbon-cutting efforts have to be intensified immediately.

The climate statement is a pull-together of the latest science on the causes and growing impacts of unprecedented levels of warming seen in recent years.

Recognising that global temperatures have risen by 1.1 degrees C since 1850, the paper notes they have gone up by 0.2C between 2011 and 2015.

This is as a result of burgeoning emissions of carbon, with the amount of the gas going into the atmosphere between 2015 and 2019 growing by 20% compared with the previous five years.

Perhaps most worrying of all is the data on sea-level rise.

The average rate of rise since 1993 until now is 3.2mm per year. However, from May 2014 to 2019 the rise has increased to 5mm per year. The 10-year period from 2007-2016 saw an average of about 4mm per year.

"Sea-level rise has accelerated and we are concerned that an abrupt decline in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, which will exacerbate future rise," said WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas.

"As we have seen this year with tragic effect in the Bahamas and Mozambique, sea-level rise and intense tropical storms led to humanitarian and economic catastrophes."

The report also highlights the threats to the oceans, with more than 90% of the excess heat caused by climate change ending up in the waters. The WMO analysis says 2018 had the highest ocean heat content values on record.

The study underlines the fact that wherever you look on the planet right now, the story is the same: human-induced warming is impacting the scale and intensity of extreme weather events such as heatwaves and wildfires.

"Climate change due to us is accelerating and on a very dangerous course," said Prof Brian Hoskins, chair of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London, and professor of meteorology, University of Reading.

"We should listen to the loud cry coming from the schoolchildren. There is an emergency - one for action in both rapidly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions towards zero and adapting to the inevitable changes in climate."
'No fancy speeches'

The WMO report is meant to inform the special UN summit on climate change taking place in New York on Monday.

A range of political leaders will attend the one-day event, which is designed to be about action and not words, according to UN secretary general António Guterres.

"I told leaders not to come with fancy speeches, but with concrete commitments," he said ahead of the meeting.

"People want solutions, commitments and action. I expect there will be an announcement and unveiling of a number of meaningful plans on dramatically reducing emissions during the next decade, and on reaching carbon neutrality by 2050."

Greta Thunberg and other youth activists, fresh from marching on the streets of New York on Friday, will speak at the opening of the meeting.


Protesters will bring an inflatable version of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the UN in protest over his support for coal

About 60 heads of state are expected to follow, with countries expected to announce new actions to limit the causes of warming or to speak on initiatives developed by a coalition of nations.

While China, India, France, Germany and the UK will speak at the meeting, there is no place on the podium for Japan or Australia.

Mr Guterres has asked that as well as committing to net-zero emissions by 2050, countries should reduce subsidies for fossil fuels and stop building new coal-fired power stations. The question of coal has led to the barring of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australia's Scott Morrison.

The US, Brazil and Saudi Arabia will also not be taking part.

The success of the special summit remains in the balance - what isn't in question is the urgency of action and the fact that delay means more difficult decisions down the line.

"It is highly important that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, notably from energy production, industry and transport. This is critical if we are to mitigate climate change and meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement," said Petteri Taalas from the WMO.

"To stop a global temperature increase of more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, the level of ambition needs to be tripled. And to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees, it needs to be multiplied by five," he said.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49773869
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Five-year period ending 2019 set to be hottest on record
« Reply #14125 on: September 22, 2019, 06:12:58 PM »
A damning new UN report published Sunday said the world is falling badly behind in the race to avert climate disaster as a result of runaway warming, with the five-year period ending 2019 set to be the hottest ever.

It comes ahead of a major UN climate summit Monday that will be attended by more than 60 world leaders, as Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pushes for countries to increase their greenhouse gas reduction targets.

The report "highlights the urgent need for the development of concrete actions that halt global warming and the worst effects of climate change," said its authors, the Science Advisory Group to the summit.

Average global temperature between 2015-2019 is on track to be the hottest of any five-year period on record, according to the report, which was compiled by the World Meteorological Organization.

The period "is currently estimated to be 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial (1850-1900) times and 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer than 2011-2015," it said.

The past four years were already the hottest since record-keeping began in 1850.

Guterres said last week the world was "losing the race" on climate change, with the latest report spelling out the extent to which the gap between what is required and what is happening is widening.

Rather than falling, carbon dioxide grew two percent in 2018, reaching a record high of 37 billion tonnes.

More importantly, there is also no sign yet of reaching what is known as "peak emissions," the point at which levels will start to fall, though these are not growing at the same rate as the global economy.

The 2015 Paris Agreement saw countries lay out national targets to reduce their emissions in order to limit long term temperature rise by either 2 degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Celsius.

These are benchmarks that will limit in important ways the impact of warming on world weather systems.

But even if all countries meet the goals they set themselves, the world will warm by 2.9 degrees Celsius to 3.4 degrees Celsius, the report found.

The current levels of ambition would need to be tripled to meet the 2 degrees Celsius goal and increased five-fold to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal—technically still possible.

"This reads like a credit card statement after a 5-year long spending binge," said Professor Dave Reay, chair in Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh.

"Our global carbon credit is maxed out," he added. "If emissions don't start falling there will be hell to pay."

Deadly Heatwaves

In 2018, global carbon dioxide was 407.8 parts per million (ppm), 2.2 ppm higher than 2017 and set to reach or exceed 410 ppm by 2019.

"The last time Earth's atmosphere contained 400 parts per million CO 2 was about 3-5 million years ago," the report said.

At that time, global mean surface temperatures were 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer, ice sheets at both poles had melted, and seas were 10 to 20 meters higher.

Other major takeaways include that the extent of Arctic summer sea ice has declined at a rate of 12 percent per decade over the past 40 years, with the four lowest values between 2015 and 2019.

Overall, the amount of ice lost from the Antarctic ice sheet increased by a factor of six each year between 1979 and 2017, while glacier loss for 2015-19 is also the highest for any five-year period on record.

Sea-level rise is also accelerating as is the process of acidification, with an increase in 26 percent in acidity today compared to pre-industrial periods, as a result of absorbing increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The report also found that heatwaves were the deadliest weather hazard in the 2015-19 period, affecting all continents and setting new national temperature records.

The summer of 2019, which included the hottest ever month on record (July), saw unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic.

In June, these were responsible for emitting 50 megatons of carbon dioxide.

The report also comes at a time of increasing mobilization over the question of climate change, with millions taking part in a youth-led global strike Friday, before the first UN youth climate summit on Saturday.

https://phys.org/news/2019-09-five-year-period-hottest.html
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Elizabeth Warren is becoming Trump's greatest threat
« Reply #14126 on: September 22, 2019, 06:18:42 PM »
Donald Trump has every reason to be concerned about taking on former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, especially given that a Fox News poll released this week found him trailing Biden by a whopping 14 points if the election were held now. But Trump's greatest threat may in fact come from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who leads Trump by six points in the poll.
Per a CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released Saturday, Warren has for the first time taken the lead among likely caucusgoers in that key first primary state, climbing seven points since June. And Warren appears poised to rise further if other Democrats drop out or falter in the race, given that the poll finds she's the top second choice among all other Democratic candidates. Twenty percent would choose Warren as a second choice while Biden and Bernie Sanders are each only the second choice of 10%.

Biden still currently leads Warren in the Real Clear Politics average of polls on a national level by a little over ten points. But Warren has been slowly building support in a way that may not only lead her to win the nomination, but to win the White House come 2020.
Why? It's simple: Warren is increasingly exciting people about her candidacy. This is backed by a new NBC/WSJ poll released Sunday which finds that among all the 2020 Democratic candidates, she is now the top-tier candidate who the largest amount of registered voters (17%) are "enthusiastic" about. While that number has grown from just 8 percent in March, the percentage of voters who are enthusiastic about Trump has remained the same at 26%. Biden, however, has seen the opposite trend. In March, 17% of voters were enthusiastic about him, but now the former VP has slipped to 12%. That's not good. Enthusiasm should only be growing the more people see a candidate in debates and on the campaign trail.

True, enthusiasm is an intangible factor that can come and go, often quickly. But it's enthusiasm that inspires people to not just vote, but to get friends to vote. It's that passion that animates people to knock on doors for a candidate, make phone calls, give money and attend events.
In fact, just this past week, we saw an example of Warren enthusiasm on display when she held a rally in New York City and some 20,000 people reportedly attended. The massive crowd clearly unnerved Trump, who loves to brag that he draws the largest audiences. When asked about the rally by reporters, Trump did his best to downplay it, saying, "No. 1, she didn't have 20,000 people and No. 2, I think anybody would get a good crowd there."

But it wasn't just the New York City rally, Warren has been increasingly drawing impressive, energetic crowds, such as in August when 15,000 people came to her a rally in Seattle and 12,000 attended another rally in St. Paul, Minnesota.
How did Warren climb from single digits in national polls in March to now topping Biden in the new Iowa poll? She hit all the right notes with Democrats and especially with the progressive wing of the party. Her debate performances have been consistently very good. Warren's 'I have a plan for that' mantra where she has released detailed plans for policy issues facing our nation from childcare to anti-corruption to criminal justice reform -- and the list goes on -- has resonated with voters.
She has also been very outspoken on another issue supported by approximately 70% of Democrats: Impeaching Trump. Warren was the first major presidential caudate to call for impeaching Trump back in April, just days after Robert Mueller's report was released. And on Friday after allegations were reported that Trump spoke to the Ukrainian President in July and pressured him to investigate Biden and Biden's son Hunter in an obvious effort to get dirt on Biden, Warren went a step further. She took to Twitter slamming Democrats in Congress for failing to act, writing, "After the Mueller report, Congress had a duty to begin impeachment. By failing to act, Congress is complicit in Trump's latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in US elections." She added, "Do your constitutional duty and impeach the president."

In contrast, Biden's first response to reporters on the issue was understandably more defensive: "Not one single credible outlet has given credibility to these assertions. Not one single one," adding, "So I have no comment other than the president should start to be president." Later that night Biden put out a more forceful statement saying if the allegations are true, it is "clear-cut corruption."

However, as someone who speaks to the progressives nightly on my SiriusXM radio show, I can tell you firsthand that Warren's words and sentiment line up perfectly with the frustration many rank and file Democrats have with the Democrats in Congress on this issue.
Between now and the 2020 election a great deal can change. But if Warren and Biden continue along their current trajectory, Trump should fear Warren as much, if not more, than Biden.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/22/opinions/warren-enthusiasm-poll-opinion-obeidallah/
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In an examination of the record-breaking number of Republican lawmakers who have decided to quit or retire despite holding a seat in solidly conservative congressional districts, one lawmaker admitted that he grew weary of having to deal with Donald Trump’s daily Twitter habit and other shenanigans — so he is calling it quits.

As the Washington Post reports, “Since Trump’s inauguration, a Washington Post analysis shows that nearly 40 percent of the 241 Republicans who were in office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of election losses, retirements including former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis).”

Among those lawmakers is Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) a two-term lawmaker who expected a much longer career in Washington, D.C.

According to Mitchell, he saw the writing on the wall as he watched a Trump rally where fans of the president chanted “send her back!,” aimed at one of his Democratic colleagues, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

As Mitchell told the Post, he wrote a note to himself to ask an aide, “How do I even respond to this on TV?”

“But one of the final straws was the unwillingness of people in Trump’s orbit to listen,” the Post reports. “Mitchell implored Vice President Pence, his chief of staff Marc Short and ‘any human being that has any influence in the White House’ to arrange a one-on-one conversation between him and the president so he could express his concerns. It never happened.”

Ten days later, Mitchell announced his retirement, explaining to the Post, “We’re here for a purpose — and it’s not this petty, childish bullshit.”

As for Trump’s tweets, Mitchell said they kept him from doing the job voters sent him to Congress for.

“Did any member of this conference expect that their job would start out every morning trying to go through the list of what’s happening in tweets of the day?” Mitchell suggested when it came to Trump’s Twitter habit. “We’re not moving forward right now. We are simply thrashing around.”

Mitchell is not alone in his opinion of the president words and deeds the Post reports.

“The retirement numbers are particularly staggering. All told, 41 House Republicans have left national politics or announced they won’t seek reelection in the nearly three years since Trump took office. That dwarfs the 25 Democrats who retired in the first four years of former president Barack Obama’s tenure — and Republicans privately predict this is only the beginning,” the report states. “Most of the departing Republicans publicly cite family as the reason for leaving. But behind the scenes Republicans say the trend highlights a greater pessimism about the direction of the party under Trump — and their ability to win back the House next year. ”

According to former GOP lawmaker Ryan Costello (PA) who bowed out in 2018, Trump has become a major drag upon Republicans in more moderate districts.

“He has not been a net positive for suburban House Republicans, I mean, that’s a truism,” Costello confessed. “Down ballot, for the Republicans, you are basically judged by whatever the president does, and not by what you do.”

A Republican leadership aide, who asked to remain anonymous, said the GOP has a real Trump problem.

“Unless we figure out exactly how we’re going to win back suburban voters, we’re going to be in the minority for a while,” he said, before adding, “I think a lot of members are pretty nervous that Trump doesn’t win reelection. And then we’re in the minority and we have a Democrat in the White House. . . . We’re in the wilderness right now, but if you lose the White House, then that is the extreme wilderness.”

https://www.rawstory.com/2019/09/retiring-republican-lawmaker-blames-trumps-petty-childish-bullsht-for-massive-gop-exodus/
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Netanyahu, the end
« Reply #14128 on: September 22, 2019, 06:31:15 PM »
On the overdue demise of a leader who turned power for his people into his only real ideal and who confused their well-being with his own



Two years ago, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the central commemorative event at Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust memorial. In a passionate speech, he celebrated the transformation of the Jewish people from helpless victim to thriving nation. Those who threaten us with destruction, he vowed, are themselves risking destruction.

Sitting in the audience of survivors and children of survivors, I felt grateful, for all my ambivalence about Netanyahu, that the Jewish people had a leader so committed to keeping us safe.

But then Netanyahu said this: “The simple truth is that, in our world the survival of the weak is precarious. In the face of murderous states and movements, their chances of survival aren’t high. The strong survive.”

In one sense, Netanyahu was stating an obvious truth: The first imperative of the Holocaust, that excess of powerlessness, is that Jews must always have the means to protect themselves. And yet Netanyahu’s statement betrayed an almost Nietzschean contempt for the weak – all the more extraordinary at Yad Vashem, on Holocaust Day. No sane Jew longs for the “moral purity” of powerlessness. But for two thousand years the “weak” Jews of exile not only survived but thrived, defying all predictions of our disappearance. A leader of Israel must temper gratitude for our reclaimed power with gratitude for the spiritual strength of our powerless ancestors.

I think back to that night at Yad Vashem as we watch Netanyahu clinging desperately to power, risking the stability of our democratic system. Rather than concede political mortality, as any normal politician in his place would do, he threatens to entangle us in a third round of elections, in demoralization and paralysis. A leader who turned power for his people into his only real ideal now turns against the interests of his people, confusing their well-being with his own.

And yet I confess that, even as I passionately anticipate Netanyahu’s imminent departure from office, a part of me hesitates. Who but Netanyahu can pacify the mad American king and the Russian despot? Who else can protect us from Iran and Syria and other neighbors waiting to do to the Jews what they do to their own people?

There is no small irony in that anxiety. After all, the Blue and White party, which now threatens to replace him, is headed by no less than three former commanders in chief of the IDF. It is a measure of Netanyahu’s place in our imagination that not even the cumulative counterweight of our most distinguished generals can entirely assuage our well-founded fears.

Netanyahu’s remarkable staying power – this summer he became Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, outpacing David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin and Yitzchak Rabin – comes from one source: his ability to project power, to embody the Jewish will to survive. As the Middle East convulses, Netanyahu has kept Israel prosperous and safe. He presided over Israel’s emergence from a relative backwater to a global economic power, from a diplomatically isolated nation to one actively courted by world leaders and heads of developing countries. In the midst of an election campaign which he micro-managed, he commanded a multi-front silent war against Iran and its proxies, hitting Iranian bases in Iraq and Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Providence seemed to prepare Netanyahu for his role as protector of Israel. His father, Ben-Zion, was a historian of the Spanish Inquisition, of the medieval origins of racial antisemitism. And his older brother, Yoni, was the fallen hero of Israel’s most heroic moment, when, in 1976, commandos flew thousands of kilometers to rescue hostages at Entebbe Airport. Understanding threat and responding to threat: those were the legacies of the Netanyahu home.

But now Netanyahu has exhausted his capacity to protect us. He stumbled on the fatal temptation of rulers who come to see themselves as indispensable. All was permitted because his personal interests and the interests of the state converged. He became careless, allegedly accepting and even demanding gifts from wealthy friends, tradeoffs with media moguls.

The same tenacity with which Netanyahu has protected Israel is now absorbed in his war for political survival. It is no longer possible to separate what Netanyahu does to keep us safe with what he does to keep himself out of prison.

A week before the elections, rockets fired from Gaza forced him off the stage of a campaign rally in Ashdod. It was an embarrassing moment: His political opponents mocked him for his failure to curtail the ongoing rocket attacks. Netanyahu felt his credibility at risk. And so according to media reports he convened the security experts and told them to prepare for war against the Hamas regime in Gaza. The army balked: Were these rockets any more a threat to Israel than the thousands of rockets that have been fired at us in recent years, none of which provoked Netanyahu to declare war? The mad plan – which could have been dubbed, Operation Protective Shield for the Prime Minister’s Honor – was shelved.

The old Netanyahu would have never been tempted to risk Israeli lives for political calculations. That too was a source of his power. After all, he was part of what Israelis call the extended family of bereavement. Even Israelis who detested the prime minister knew he would not create new bereaved families unless Israel’s interests were truly at risk.

And now that credibility is gone. An Israeli leader who lacks the moral authority to take this country to war can no longer keep us safe.

Netanyahu has no real friends or confidants; members of his inner circle have turned state’s evidence against him. Avigdor Liberman, once his most trusted aide, is determined to bring him down. Netanyahu so distrusts the fawning members of his Likud parliamentary faction that he compelled them to sign a personal loyalty oath to him during the elections. Even President Trump, who appeared together with Netanyahu in Likud campaign billboards, has betrayed him: After the election, Trump pointedly noted that he hadn’t phoned the prime minister, that his relationship with Israel isn’t confined to any one leader. Trump likes a winner, and Netanyahu, he senses, has become a loser.

The master of politics understood all the dynamics of power except for this: the need to ensure your colleagues’ trust, to maintain the credibility of your word. For a while, far longer than many thought possible, it worked. But now all his manipulations, his false promises and outright lies, have risen up against him. Responding to Netanyahu’s faux appeal for national unity after the election, Liberman publicly mocked him: “Enough with your tricks and shticks.” He seemed to be speaking for the whole political system, including Netanyahu’s erstwhile allies.

The truth is, Netanyahu was often unfairly attacked and stigmatized. Much of the media really did pursue him. And the leaks from the police investigations into his cases were outrageous. And yes, the courts skewed drastically toward the secular left agenda (though that is less true today). There is much balance that needs to be restored to Israeli society. And yet to treat our democratic institutions as enemies of the state, as Netanyahu has increasingly done, is to risk the foundations of Jewish sovereignty.

Netanyahu’s attempt to realign Israel with the emerging international illiberal order turned out to be not merely tactical – an attempt to gain political advantages for the Jewish state – but an expression of his own inclinations. In the process, he legitimized regimes that traffic in anti-Semitism and in Holocaust revisionism. That became the final irony of Netanyahu’s politics of Jewish power: in the name of protecting the interests of Israel, he sullied the memory of the Jews of powerlessness.

Under different circumstances, a desperate leader like Netanyahu might be tempted to draw on the military to maintain power. But one of the blessings of Israel is that its army is a repository of democratic norms.

In fact, Israeli democracy is a miracle. Born in war, the country hasn’t known a day of real peace, living under constant terror assault and political and economic siege and periodically forced to defend its borders. Into this pressure cooker have come waves of impoverished refugees from Eastern Europe and the Middle East, regions lacking democratic traditions. Israel is a laboratory for democracy under extremity. Despite overwhelming threats that might have defeated less vigorous democracies, Israel struggles to remain faithful to its founding principles of decency.

But miracles are a defiance of the laws of nature and must be protected and nurtured. After a decade of uninterrupted rule by Netanyahu, Israel desperately needs a leader who will treat its democratic institutions as precious assets rather than as obstacles to his goals.

We need a leader who understands that morality – far from being a luxury for a nation under existential threat – is an essential component of our security, necessity for maintaining the support of our friends. Yet just as Netanyahu failed to appreciate the role of decency in assuring his own political power, so he failed to appreciate the need for loyalty to democratic principles in maintaining Israel’s power.

The good news is that the attempts by Netanyahu and his allies to undermine democratic norms have failed. Whatever happens in the coming weeks, this election is already a victory for Israeli democracy. The threat of a nationalist-ultra-Orthodox coalition dependent on the racist fringe party, Otzma Yehudit, has passed. Otzma didn’t even make it across the electoral threshold. The Yemina party, which pledged, in the same breath, to “take care” of both Hamas and the Supreme Court, as though the latter too were a security threat, has been diminished, its leaders now turning against each other. The Likud’s attempt to intimidate Arabs from coming out to vote by placing cameras in polling booths in Arab communities backfired; instead, Israeli Arabs acted like free citizens in a democracy. And finally, Netanyahu’s last desperate election promise – to annex the Jordan Valley and extend Israeli law to settlements – has also been shelved, sparing us the threat of a bi-national state forced to choose between its essential Jewish and democratic identities.

It may take time, but Netanyahu will be forced to concede defeat. The only question is how much damage he will do until then. Israel is resilient and the system will endure. But the fall of our most talented and ambitious and ruthless politician will linger in the national psyche, as the tragedy of a Samson blinded and bound to the pillars of power.

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-the-end-2/?fbclid=IwAR1pThn4XiCKMklpXYKjO4jp1lISsFjneQXsKF614sYJoCIqgWhOcpHf_oc
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Indonesia haze causes sky to turn blood red
« Reply #14129 on: September 23, 2019, 05:06:28 AM »

Conditions in Indonesia's Jambi province looked straight out of a post-apocalyptic movie

Skies over an Indonesian province turned red over the weekend, thanks to the widespread forest fires which have plagued huge parts of the country.

One resident in Jambi province, who captured pictures of the sky, said the haze had "hurt her eyes and throat".

Every year, fires in Indonesia create a smoky haze that can end up blanketing the entire South East Asian region.

A meteorology expert told the BBC the unusual sky was caused by a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering.

Eka Wulandari, from the Mekar Sari village in Jambi province, captured the blood-red skies in a series of photos taken at around midday on Saturday.

The haze conditions had been especially "thick that [day]", she said.


The photographer refuted claims that the pictures were fake

The 21-year-old posted the pictures on Facebook. They have since been shared more than 34,000 times.

But she told BBC Indonesian that many online had doubted whether or not the photos were real.

"But it's true. [It's a] real photo and video that I took with my phone," she said, adding that haze conditions remained severe on Monday.

Indonesia meteorological agency BMKG said satellite imagery revealed numerous hot spots and "thick smoke distribution" in the area around the Jambi region.

Professor Koh Tieh Yong, of the Singapore University of Social Sciences, explained that this phenomenon, known as Rayleigh scattering, has to do with certain types of particles that are present during a period of haze.

"In the smoke haze, the most abundant particles are around 1 micrometre in size, but these particles do not change the colour of the light we see," he told the BBC.

"There are also smaller particles, around 0.05 micrometres or less, that don't make up a lot of the haze but are still somewhat more abundant during a haze period [than a normal non-haze period]... but this is enough to give an extra tendency to scatter red light more in the forward and backward directions than blue light - and that is why would you see more red than blue."

He said the fact the photos were taken around noon could have caused the sky to appear more red.

"If the sun is overhead and you look up, [you will be looking] in the line of the sun, so it would appear that more of the sky is red."

Prof Koh added that this phenomenon would not "modify the air temperature".

This year's haze levels have been some of the worst in years.

The haze is caused by open burning in Indonesia and to a lesser extent, parts of Malaysia. The burning usually peaks from July to October during Indonesia's dry season. According to Indonesia's national disaster agency, some 328,724 hectares of land had already been burnt in the first eight months of the year.

Part of the blame for the haze lies with big corporations and small-scale farmers, which take advantage of the dry conditions to clear vegetation for palm oil, pulp and paper plantations using the slash-and-burn method.

This slash-and-burn technique employed by many in the region is arguably the easiest way for farmers to clear their land and helps them get rid of any disease that may have affected their crops.

However, these fires often spin out of control and spread into protected forested areas.

Slash-and-burn is illegal in Indonesia but has been allowed to continue for years, with some saying corruption and weak governance have contributed to the situation.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-49793047
Everything, I mean EVERYTHING, is a BIG FUCKING MESS!!