AuthorTopic: The Surlynewz Channel  (Read 548964 times)

Offline Surly1

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Mike Pompeo Is Excited About How Much Money We Can Make From Climate Change
« Reply #3765 on: May 07, 2019, 10:43:22 AM »
Mike Pompeo Is Excited About How Much Money We Can Make From Catastrophic Climate Change

Illustration for article titled Mike Pompeo Is Excited About How Much Money We Can Make From Catastrophic Climate Change

Naysayers among us might look at the prospect of catastrophic climate change, and see nothing but doom and gloom: mass extinctions, flooded coastal cities, and other semi-apocalyptic outcomes for planet Earth’s increasingly fragile ecosystem. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, is not one of those people. He’s an optimist, cheerfully swigging from a glass half full of melted polar ice cap.

Speaking at a summit in Finland on Monday, Pompeo cast one of the major effects of climate change—the melting polar ice caps—not as a catastrophe but as a potential boon. Why? Because it will enable us to sell more things, more quickly.

“Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunity for trade. This could potentially slash the time it stakes to travel between Asia and the west by as much as 20 days,” Pompeo explained. “Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals.”

He also salivated over the fact that the Arctic “houses 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil, 30 percent of its undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, rare earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore.”

Ironically, Pompeo’s speech, which largely focused on U.S. Arctic policy in relation to—and in competition with—that of Russia and China, also featured a large portion dedicated to how great America has been for the environment.

So, not only is America doing peachy-keen when it comes to climate change, but even if the polar ice caps melt a little bit, at least we’ll have some new places to drive our big boats full of that sweet, sweet merchandise.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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Writing in an Age of Propaganda
« Reply #3766 on: May 08, 2019, 03:53:28 AM »
Writing in an Age of Propaganda



I recently wrote a piece about the NFL’s controversial new rules, which essentially ban its players from engaging in the form of protest Colin Kaepernick used to raise awareness about racialized police violence in America. I called the new rules the “Kaepernick Policy” and closed the piece with this:

Framing matters. There are certain words and phrases we are being manipulated into repeating. That is why I made the decision not to call the NFL’s new rules its [fill in the blank with the word they want us to repeat as many times as possible] policy. Our choice of language is a powerful tool against propaganda. I understand that journalists doing the first round of reporting have less leeway than those of us providing commentary days later.

I’d struggled for a couple of days with the story, which I’d hoped to get written and posted pretty quickly. I usually take at least a day between something trending and writing about it, so I can have fuller context. But even with my usual period of rumination under my belt, I had trouble putting together something I was satisfied with.

The whole time I was writing, I felt uneasy.

I was uncomfortable because I knew I was repeating language nefarious people wanted me to use. I felt as if I wasn’t choosing my own words.

This is what propaganda does: it attacks nuance and meaning by limiting our vocabularies. Good propaganda makes the choice of language seem natural — it becomes your native tongue. The words used to push back against it seem foreign, stilted, and awkward.

So, even after I made the decision to call the NFL’s new rules the Kaepernick Policy, it was still difficult to write the piece, because I was having to be more conscientious and deliberate with my language. The free-flowing rhythm I can usually find eluded me. It was like fighting lulling hypnotism.

Waking up can be startling and disconcerting. But writers have to be prepared to endure the bracing discomfort. Just now, I wrote “writers producing political content.” That’s another way the propaganda gets us: it gives us outs. I’m not a political writer, so I don’t have to think about these things.

Everything is political.

If there’s nothing else we learn from the Trump era and never forget, let it be that.

“Trump’s America.”

That’s another piece of propaganda. But it’s from the other side. The tools at Donald Trump’s disposal were built with bipartisan support over the course of decades. Cries that they were dangerous, unconstitutional, immoral, and would eventually lead to an existential crisis in America were dismissed as hysteria.

Now here the world is (and it is the entire world): living in some postmodern absurdist political novel, watching helplessly as a decaying superpower implodes. The perpetual motion machine under the Hoover Dam that was meant to keep spinning out liberty, freedom and Mom’s apple pie has broken down.

Replacing history with emotionalism is another powerful tool of propaganda. Us arguing back is part of the inflammatory feedback loop. We can’t ignore the trolls (they get to vote too), but perhaps we should better consider how to outflank them.

We have to find ways to change the parameters of the discussion.

And so, I’ll keep using the phrase “the Kaepernick Policy” going forward. It’s not evocative. It doesn’t roll off the tongue. It dings the ear. But it pivots the conversation away from the field of battle the enemy has chosen.

There are worse things than employing an inelegant turn of phrase.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline RE

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Re: Writing in an Age of Propaganda
« Reply #3767 on: May 08, 2019, 05:06:17 AM »
Quote
There are worse things than employing an inelegant turn of phrase.

How about the "Fuck the People" policy?  That seems pretty elegant to me and rolls right off my keyboard, no problem.

RE
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Offline Surly1

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Re: Writing in an Age of Propaganda
« Reply #3768 on: May 08, 2019, 09:04:02 AM »
Quote
There are worse things than employing an inelegant turn of phrase.

How about the "Fuck the People" policy?  That seems pretty elegant to me and rolls right off my keyboard, no problem.

RE

"Go Suck A Bag Of Dicks" rolls off easily, as well. It came unbidden as I was watching the televised House Judiciary hearing about holding Barr in contempt, and seeing the Rs debase themselves contorting reality. Hypocrisy is just part of the skill set.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Writing in an Age of Propaganda
« Reply #3769 on: May 09, 2019, 06:46:15 PM »
Quote
And so, I’ll keep using the phrase “the Kaepernick Policy” going forward. It’s not evocative. It doesn’t roll off the tongue. It dings the ear. But it pivots the conversation away from the field of battle the enemy has chosen.

Keep at it and don't underestimate the "Butterfly Effect" of this day and [information] age...

Quote
There are worse things than employing an inelegant turn of phrase.

Indeed. Eerily analogous to the thermodynamics of pollution in the endgame of overshoot, bullshit takes A LOT more energy to dismantle and eradicate than it takes to produce and disperse in the first place.

In that kind of a disadvantaged position, you're condemned to constantly outwit, constantly disturb and constantly go for the jugular with overwhelming force.

It's messy and tiresome... like life itself   :exp-sleepy:

 :laugh:

Offline Surly1

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Age of the Scam
« Reply #3770 on: May 11, 2019, 05:54:50 AM »
From New York’s fake heiress to Donald Trump, we’re living in the age of the scam

Everywhere you look, there are people who have figured out ways to game our shoddy system


Anna Sorokin was found guilty of, among other things, stealing more than $200,000. Photograph: Richard Drew/AP

Unless you are Bob Dylan in the 60s, or Bret Easton Ellis in the 90s, it is very hard to capture the zeitgeist when you are still living through it. But while I have yet to write my The Times They Are A-Changin’ or American Psycho, I’m going to describe this era as the age of the scam. Everywhere you look, there are people who have figured out ways to game our shoddy system, from politics to pop culture, and who are making inordinate amounts of money out of nothing or worse. Nothing feels entirely true; everything feels calculated to manipulate. Authenticity, instead of being a descriptor, has become a marketing concept.

Which is why many of the most hotly discussed stories of the past year have been about scams gone wrong. Here we have confirmation of our suspicion that this is how the world works now, as well as rare moments of comeuppance for the scammers. There have been two documentaries about Billy McFarland, the entrepreneur behind the 2017 Fyre festival disaster; and a podcast series and documentary devoted to Elizabeth Holmes, who founded Theranos, the fraudulent tech startup once valued at more than $9bn. These weren’t your run-of-the-mill scams, but ones that emerged, respectively, from social media and Silicon Valley, both of which have an inherently scammy feel to them. Last week, another scam saga came to an end with the conviction of Anna Sorokin, aka Anna Delvey, the phoney heiress found guilty of, among other things, stealing more than $200,000.

Sorokin arrived in New York from no one-knew-where in 2014. She slipped easily into circles I know all too well from my first job, when I wrote about fashion: there were magazines that proved their edginess by blurring the line between style and soft porn, bewilderingly pretentious private members’ clubs, international art festivals that felt like fancy fronts for money laundering. These ever so au courant milieus, where adults value “coolness” with the passion of insecure teenagers, repelled me, and for a while I thought this was a failing on my part. Get on board with the zeitgeist, Freeman! But I just felt confused by the people I met there, and opted out.

Delvey, by contrast, was embraced by this world, as she talked about opening a 45,000 sq ft private members’ “dynamic visual arts centre” in Manhattan. It was assumed she was a German heiress because she acted the part, always Instagramming herself at the right restaurants and cultural events: what other proof was needed? “This is what her social circle did. Everyone’s life was perfectly curated for social media. People were fake. People were phoney. And money was made on hype alone,” Sorokin’s lawyer told the jury. And that’s true. But Sorokin – actually the daughter of a Russian former truck driver – made a mistake in flat-out stealing, including $62,000 from a photojournalist. No amount of dynamic visual arts centres can obscure that.

McFarland and Holmes also exploited a culture that prioritises image over reality. Holmes was a college dropout with a (possibly fake) deep voice who claimed to have invented a machine that would revolutionise blood testing. The fear among investors and journalists was that, by not getting behind Holmes, they would be “missing out on the next Google”, as John Carreyrou, the journalist who finally exposed her, puts it in his book Bad Blood. (Fear of missing out, or Fomo, is also very much the spirit of our age.) Some have argued that Holmes represents the dangers of “white feminism”, because she seems to demonstrate how the lean-in culture, as advocated by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, endorses privileged white alpha women. But Holmes was always supported by men, not women, let alone feminists. It was male journalists who adoringly profiled her in tech and finance magazines, and it was men – including Henry Kissinger, the economist George Shultz and the former US defence secretary James Mattis – who endorsed her. This young, attractive woman looked the way they wanted the next tech guru to look, so they backed her. Meanwhile, McFarland represents our Fomo culture in its purest form, putting so much energy into getting Instagram influencers, including Kendall Jenner, to post plugs for his festival that he forgot to plan the festival itself.

And while we might laugh amazedly at Sorokin, Holmes and McFarland’s hubris, they are mere microcosms of a more damaging macro scam. It is entirely apt that these stories should emerge from America during the Trump presidency. Trump cares little for anything as boring as policy, preferring instead to use the White House to leverage his brand, wealth and children (well, Ivanka, anyway). He casts a shadow over the whole culture. Since he was elected, every time I file my US taxes there is a little voice in my head that asks: “Why am I doing this? I bet the president – who has never shown his tax returns – doesn’t.” Because when a scammer is in charge of a country, a splinter of scamminess enters all its citizens’ hearts.

Listen to Hadley discuss the Anna Sorokin case and sentencing on the Today In Focus podcast.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline RE

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Re: Age of the Scam
« Reply #3771 on: May 11, 2019, 05:57:54 AM »
I dropped this story on yesterday.  HILARIOUS!  ;D

She'll get out after a couple of years on parole and make a fortune on the book and movie rights.

RE
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Offline Surly1

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Re: Age of the Scam
« Reply #3772 on: May 11, 2019, 06:18:51 AM »
I dropped this story on yesterday.  HILARIOUS!  ;D

She'll get out after a couple of years on parole and make a fortune on the book and movie rights.

RE

I saw that, and your comment. Thought this hot take was useful as well.
18 months in orange, then her future will be assured. 'Murka-- ain't it great?
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline K-Dog

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Re: The Age Of The Scam
« Reply #3773 on: May 11, 2019, 10:42:51 AM »
Defense lawyers described her as an ambitious entrepreneur who had been simply trying to make it in New York.  Like the guy in the White House you could say.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48231388

Anna Sorokin: Why do con artists and fraudsters fascinate us?
By Helier Cheung BBC News




The story of Anna Sorokin, the German woman who pretended to be a billionaire heiress, swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process, has intrigued people across the US.

Despite being convicted, and sentenced to at least four years in prison, Sorokin's story has inspired a line of T-shirts - and at least two TV series about her story are rumoured to be in the pipeline.

One Elle Magazine journalist even dedicated an article to Sorokin's make up, with an article titled "How to get a summer scammer look, without actually scamming anyone".

So why do high-end scammers intrigue so many of us?

Dangerous charisma

Conmen - and women - have always fascinated people.

The 1970s film The Sting featured Robert Redford and Paul Newman as professional conmen, while more recent films including Catch Me If You Can, Ocean's Eleven and Can You Ever Forgive Me? have all featured A-list actors as charismatic - or at least sympathetic - fraudsters.

Jerri Williams, a former FBI agent who focused on fraud investigations, admits that even she is "fascinated by con men and women.

"The main characteristic is that they're very outgoing, very gregarious, and they know how to say the right thing to make people like them.

"The public sometimes admires their ability to use nothing but their charm in order to persuade people - especially in this country, where we like wealth and success."

But this charisma is also dangerous.



She recalls investigating the Foundation for New Era Philanthropy scam - a ponzi scheme that defrauded organisations of more than $100m in the 1990s - and says that some of the victims were almost "suicidal" when they realised that they had invested, and had encouraged others to invest, in the scam.

"When you're a victim of a con, you've engaged with this person - so not only are you a victim in the sense that you lost something, you may also feel ashamed and embarrassed because you didn't see what was happening."

The Robin Hood stereotype

Another reason behind the fascination with con artists is the fact that, in addition to appearing "intelligent and charismatic", they are also seen as "non-violent" criminals, says Dr Tim Holmes, a lecturer in criminology at Bangor University.

"There's still the idea that they're a Robin Hood figure, not a criminal," he says, adding that many films, like the Ocean's Eleven adaptations, portray the con artist as "a rogue stealing from someone who deserves it".

It also helps that "generally, con artists don't look threatening", he says, pointing out that Frank Abagnale, the con man whose story inspired Catch Me If You Can, was a teenager when he performed his cons.

Ms Williams argues that the depiction of con artists in films and the media can be "problematic" when they aren't portrayed as criminals.

"The crimes they commit are much worse, and much more significant, than someone who robbed a bank or stole a purse. We need to understand that the harm they've done to people and their retirement funds is much more significant and long-lasting.



However, he criticises film and TV representations of con artists that "often suggest that the victim is in some way gullible or naive".

"There are so many aspects of our lives that just rely on trust, and strangers telling us the truth - it's not that people are stupid if they're conned, they were just doing what we all instinctively do."

Javier Leiva, who hosts Pretend Radio, a podcast that interviews "real people pretending to be someone else", has a similar view.

"Everybody thinks that it won't happen to them, but the people who think they can't get fooled are the ones that do."

He has interviewed more than 10 con artists, and says the challenge for victims is that "you want to believe them - they're very likeable".

"I've never met one who's an introvert... they're very warm and friendly," he says, although he adds that he's also found they are "narcissistic and very proud of their crimes".

He likens the interest in con artists to the desire to see a magician's trick.

"Just like with a magician, we want to be fooled - we want to get really close to it, just to see what happens - but we don't want to become the victim."

The American dream?

During the trial, Sorokin's defence lawyers described her as an ambitious entrepreneur who had been simply trying to make it in New York.

Many think that the notion of the American dream - where anyone can attain success - also contributes to the fascination with Sorokin's case.



The host of Swindled, a podcast about con artists and white-collar criminals, says that "in a capitalistic culture that's super competitive, people can feel a kind of pressure - that if you're not successful you're a nobody".

As a result, people find it "fascinating to watch someone try to pursue success at all costs, no matter how immoral", the host, who narrates anonymously and asked the BBC not to publish his name, says.

The irony is that the most successful modern fraudsters are the ones who don't get caught - and many of them will have lower profiles.

While the "classic con artist" is depicted as an "attractive, loveable character", most modern fraud is done remotely, says Dr Holmes.

"Now you can victimise thousands of people and don't have to have face-to-face contact - you don't have to charm them. Fraud has changed and become a lot more aggressive."
« Last Edit: May 11, 2019, 10:44:48 AM by K-Dog »
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Offline Surly1

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The Many, Many Theories About Leonardo da Vinci
« Reply #3774 on: May 12, 2019, 08:23:20 AM »
The Many, Many Theories About Leonardo da Vinci
The artist, inventor, and all-around Renaissance man has been dead for half a millennium, but there’s no end to the wild sleuthing about him and his work.



Leonardo Che Ritrae la Gioconda (Leonardo Painting the Mona Lisa), by Cesare MaccariCORBIS HISTORICAL / GETTY

Leonardo da vinci died at the age of 67 on May 2, 1519, at the small manor house in the Loire Valley given to him by King Francis I of France. He was buried nearby in the church of the Château d’Amboise, which was demolished in the early 19th century. An excavation decades later turned up bones that were believed to be Leonardo’s. An inscription notes carefully that the site holds the artist’s “presumed remains.” The acknowledgment of uncertainty is a mark of quiet candor, and unusual in this case: Leonardo enthusiasts are not famous for their restraint. Give them a small mystery and a bit of wiggle room, and the theories come quickly.

We will be hearing a lot about Leonardo this year, the 500th anniversary of his death. Exhibits are being readied in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. In May, the Queen’s Gallery, at Buckingham Palace, will display Leonardo drawings from the Royal Collection (which owns about 500 of them). A major exhibition at the Louvre, which is home to five Leonardo paintings, including the Mona Lisa, will open in October.

So a wealth of Leonardo will be on display. Also on display—it never really stops—will be the musings of those who believe that they have finally solved some urgent Leonardo mystery, a mystery that might exist, like beauty, only in the mind of the beholder.

After half a millennium, the scholarship on Leonardo is immense, and continuing. Noteworthy developments include the rediscovery of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi,the restoration of his Adoration of the Magi, and the discovery of a document that clears up uncertainties about the Mona Lisa. But Leonardo’s life and work have long been the stuff of speculation—“wild theories and untrammeled fantasy,” as Martin Kemp, a professor emeritus of art history at Oxford and one of the world’s foremost Leonardo scholars, describes them.

“I get bombarded with things about Leonardo on a regular basis that range from laughable to insane,” Kemp told me recently. The bombardiers include neuroscientists, dentists, ophthalmologists, psychologists, pathologists, geomorphologists, artists, photographers, and even some art historians.

Kemp has devised a taxonomy of disinformed or eccentric ideas about Leonardo. There are the mystic theorists (who believe that secret messages about the nature of the cosmos are concealed in Leonardo’s work); heresy theorists (who believe that Leonardo was involved in some sort of religious cabal); geo theorists (who fall over themselves trying to identify the background landscape in the Mona Lisa and other paintings); attribution theorists (who keep wanting to put Leonardo’s name on work that isn’t his); drag theorists (who believe that the Mona Lisa depicts either Leonardo or one of his pupils dressed as a woman); and sci-fi theorists (pretty much exactly what you’d imagine).

Kemp calls Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code,the “godfather” of some of these speculations. “He is responsible for the idea that there are hidden codes, messages, mystic geometries, disguised words, and esoteric numbers in Renaissance paintings,” he said. Carmen C. Bambach, a curator in the department of drawings and prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the author of an upcoming four-volume study, Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered, hears from Leonardo disciples on the fringe at least once a week. A recent example: “Two men said that in Leonardo’s earliest dated drawing, The Arno Valley, from 1473, they saw elephants, camels, and birds in what is essentially a landscape. I commended them for their love of Leonardo, but said there are no elephants or other animals in the drawing.”

One of the more widespread Leonardo theories involves the figure of the apostle John, with his vaguely feminine features, in The Last Supper. The idea here—which parallels the findings of Brown’s Robert Langdon, a fictional “professor of symbology” at Harvard—is that Leonardo was depicting not John but Mary Magdalene, and that Church authorities through the centuries have waged a campaign to cover up an intimate relationship between Jesus and Mary. As far as I’m aware, no reputable scholar supports this interpretation of The Last Supper. Of course, the art establishment might just be part of the cover-up.

Not surprisingly, the Mona Lisa has come in for the closest scrutiny by nonexpert experts. Hidden images in the painting have been found by many. Ron Piccirillo, an artist in Rochester, New York, has claimed on his website that when he looked at the painting upside down and followed “the highlights of her portrait,” he was able to spot “what turned out to be a lion’s head, an ape head and a buffalo head.” He added that “for me, it helps to only use one eye,” and that the viewer should be “extremely close to the left edge of the painting.”

Silvano Vinceti, an art-history sleuth who runs something in Italy called the National Committee for the Promotion of Historical and Cultural Heritage, claims that he can discern minute letters painted in Mona Lisa’s eyes. In the right eye, for instance, he detects the letters L and V. The Louvre says that it has examined the painting with “every possible laboratory test” and has found no letters. This might have been a disappointment—the letters would have made Louis Vuitton a perfect corporate sponsor.

Claims about the background landscape in the Mona Lisa have become something of a growth industry. A paleontologist at the University of Florence, Carlo Starnazzi, argued in the mid-1990s that the lake on the left side of the painting is Lake Chiana and that the bridge on the right is the Burgiano Bridge, both near Arezzo. An art historian, Carla Glori, wrote in her 2010 book, The Leonardo Enigma, that the bridge in the painting can be found in Bobbio, a village south of Piacenza. An artist-photographer, Rosetta Borchia, and a geomorphologist from the University of Urbino, Olivia Nesci, believe the location is the Montefeltro region of northern Italy, and that the bridge can be seen from the heights of Valmarecchia.

In the eyes of some, the Mona Lisa raises medical issues and questions of physiological identity. Vito Franco, a professor of pathology at the University of Palermo, maintained in 2010 that Mona Lisa—the woman herself, Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, the Florentine silk merchant who commissioned Leonardo to paint the portrait—likely suffered from a cholesterol problem. Franco noted a yellowish accumulation of what he interpreted to be fatty acids under the skin. Kemp, at Oxford, checked the area under magnification and arrived at a different diagnosis: Residue from restoration efforts had “bleached.” One art historian, Angelo Paratico, in 2014 argued (in the same breath) that Mona Lisa might have been a Chinese slave and Leonardo’s mother.

Another theory: The Mona Lisa is a portrait of a man—either Leonardo himself or his pupil and possible lover, Salaì—dressed as a woman.The self-portrait theory found expression in a 1987 Art & Antiques article by Lillian Schwartz, an artist and computer technician who used digital tools to superimpose an image of a Leonardo self-portrait onto an image of the woman in the painting. No question, Schwartz concluded: Leonardo used himself as a model. A similar conclusion is reached in a video now on YouTube titled “Mona Lisa IS Leonardo da Vinci.” The viewer is urged to watch the overlay of a Leonardo self-portrait onto an image of the Mona Lisa in order to see “how amazingly they line up.” The notion that the Mona Lisa is a Leonardo self-portrait is not one that experts have rushed to embrace.

Other investigators have speculated that Mona Lisa’s expression suggests compulsive grinding of her teeth, poor diet, a dysfunctional marriage, deafness, or facial paralysis; that the look of contentment on her face and the coy placement of her hands indicate that she was pregnant; that she was a prostitute; that she is smiling with her mouth closed because her teeth had been blackened by mercury treatments for syphilis; or that she suffered from strabismus (crossed eyes). The Mona Lisa’s famous smile was analyzed in 2005 by researchers at the University of Amsterdam (with technical assistance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), using what they called “emotion recognition” software. The researchers determined that the woman in the portrait was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry.

My own study, conducted without the benefit of emotion-recognition software, suggests that experts such as Kemp and Bambach are 100 percent amused by analyses of this kind.

Fanciful rumination about Leonardo will never cease. But, as noted, there’s actual recent news. “One of the many important discoveries,” Bambach says, “was the firming up of what had been questioned about the Mona Lisa. Many historians had gone off on a tangent as to when it was painted, or that the portrait was not of Lisa del Giaconda but of Isabella d’Este and others. The painting had been dated by some as 1500 or 1512.” But in 2005, Armin Schlechter, a manuscript expert in the Heidelberg University library, came across a note, dated 1503, in which Agostino Vespucci, a Florentine official who knew Leonardo, indicated that the artist was working at that very moment on a portrait of Gherardini. That settled that.

The rediscovery of Salvator Mundi was a major event. A painting of that name by Leonardo was known to have existed, but accidents of history (and layers of “restoration”) had concealed its identity. At one point, in 1958, it was sold in Britain for £45 as a painting by someone else. In 2017, Salvator Mundi was auctioned at Christie’s for $450.3 million—this despite lingering questions about attribution among a few connoisseurs. Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism said that it was the buyer of Salvator Mundi and that the painting would be displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi; then, in September, the department announced that the unveiling had been postponed. It did not give any reason. In February, the Louvre confirmed that it hopes to display Salvator Mundi in its October show. The phrasing of the Louvre’s statement, according to The Art Newspaper, “suggests that the painting is still owned by a single individual, who is widely believed to be Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”

Also in 2017: Leonardo’s Adoration of the Magi, its restoration complete, was returned to public display at the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence. According to Frank Zöllner, an art historian at Leipzig University and the author of a catalogue raisonné of Leonardo, “Infrared and digital imaging has shown how he drew the 70 or so figures of the composition directly onto the prepared panel in freehand, without the means of transferring preliminary sketches onto the wood panel. The painting has sketchy elements because it was unfinished. It shows the artistic spontaneity of Leonardo.”

Kemp brought up another discovery: “Scientific examination of all his paintings has shed enormous light on how incredibly varied his technique was. Leonardo was always striving for something new. Every conception triggered new experimentation. For example, he used powdered glass mixed with gesso, instead of just gesso, in priming a painting to give it, presumably, a kind of radiance.”

As hundreds of Leonardo’s works travel around the globe, people will have more chances than ever before to see his technique firsthand. What would Leonardo have made of all the fuss over his quincentennial—and, for that matter, all the wild theorizing on the margins? I put the question to Kemp, anticipating the sort of censorious observation you’d expert from an Oxford don at a high table. I got something else.

“He would have loved it,” Kemp said. “He was interested in fame and immortality. He would have been pleased that his name is still on people’s lips.”

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline azozeo

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Re: The Many, Many Theories About Leonardo da Vinci
« Reply #3775 on: May 12, 2019, 12:07:07 PM »
The Many, Many Theories About Leonardo da Vinci
The artist, inventor, and all-around Renaissance man has been dead for half a millennium, but there’s no end to the wild sleuthing about him and his work.



Leonardo Che Ritrae la Gioconda (Leonardo Painting the Mona Lisa), by Cesare MaccariCORBIS HISTORICAL / GETTY

<p><span>Leonardo da vinci</span> died at the age of 67 on May 2, 1519, at the small manor house in the Loire Valley given to him by King Francis I of France. He was buried nearby in the church of the Château d’Amboise, which was demolished in the early 19th century. An excavation decades later turned up bones that were believed to be Leonardo’s. An inscription notes carefully that the site holds the artist’s “presumed remains.” The acknowledgment of uncertainty is a mark of quiet candor, and unusual in this case: Leonardo enthusiasts are not famous for their restraint. Give them a small mystery and a bit of wiggle room, and the theories come quickly.</p>
<p>We will be hearing a lot about Leonardo this year, the 500th anniversary of his death. Exhibits are being readied in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. In May, the Queen’s Gallery, at Buckingham Palace, will display Leonardo drawings from the Royal Collection (which owns about 500 of them). A major exhibition at the Louvre, which is home to five Leonardo paintings, including the Mona Lisa, will open in October.</p>
<p>So a wealth of Leonardo will be on display. Also on display—it never really stops—will be the musings of those who believe that they have finally solved some urgent Leonardo mystery, a mystery that might exist, like beauty, only in the mind of the beholder.</p>
<p><span>After half a millennium</span>, the scholarship on Leonardo is immense, and continuing. Noteworthy developments include the rediscovery of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi,the restoration of his Adoration of the Magi, and the discovery of a document that clears up uncertainties about the Mona Lisa. But Leonardo’s life and work have long been the stuff of speculation—“wild theories and untrammeled fantasy,” as Martin Kemp, a professor emeritus of art history at Oxford and one of the world’s foremost Leonardo scholars, describes them.</p>
<p>“I get bombarded with things about Leonardo on a regular basis that range from laughable to insane,” Kemp told me recently. The bombardiers include neuroscientists, dentists, ophthalmologists, psychologists, pathologists, geomorphologists, artists, photographers, and even some art historians.</p>
<p>Kemp has devised a taxonomy of disinformed or eccentric ideas about Leonardo. There are the mystic theorists (who believe that secret messages about the nature of the cosmos are concealed in Leonardo’s work); heresy theorists (who believe that Leonardo was involved in some sort of religious cabal); geo theorists (who fall over themselves trying to identify the background landscape in the Mona Lisa and other paintings); attribution theorists (who keep wanting to put Leonardo’s name on work that isn’t his); drag theorists (who believe that the Mona Lisa depicts either Leonardo or one of his pupils dressed as a woman); and sci-fi theorists (pretty much exactly what you’d imagine).</p>
<p>Kemp calls Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code,the “godfather” of some of these speculations. “He is responsible for the idea that there are hidden codes, messages, mystic geometries, disguised words, and esoteric numbers in Renaissance paintings,” he said. Carmen C. Bambach, a curator in the department of drawings and prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the author of an upcoming four-volume study, Leonardo da Vinci Rediscovered, hears from Leonardo disciples on the fringe at least once a week. A recent example: “Two men said that in Leonardo’s earliest dated drawing, The Arno Valley, from 1473, they saw elephants, camels, and birds in what is essentially a landscape. I commended them for their love of Leonardo, but said there are no elephants or other animals in the drawing.”</p>
<p>One of the more widespread Leonardo theories involves the figure of the apostle John, with his vaguely feminine features, in The Last Supper. The idea here—which parallels the findings of Brown’s Robert Langdon, a fictional “professor of symbology” at Harvard—is that Leonardo was depicting not John but Mary Magdalene, and that Church authorities through the centuries have waged a campaign to cover up an intimate relationship between Jesus and Mary. As far as I’m aware, no reputable scholar supports this interpretation of The Last Supper. Of course, the art establishment might just be part of the cover-up.</p>
<p>Not surprisingly, the Mona Lisa has come in for the closest scrutiny by nonexpert experts. Hidden images in the painting have been found by many. Ron Piccirillo, an artist in Rochester, New York, has claimed on his website that when he looked at the painting upside down and followed “the highlights of her portrait,” he was able to spot “what turned out to be a lion’s head, an ape head and a buffalo head.” He added that “for me, it helps to only use one eye,” and that the viewer should be “extremely close to the left edge of the painting.”</p>
<p>Silvano Vinceti, an art-history sleuth who runs something in Italy called the National Committee for the Promotion of Historical and Cultural Heritage, claims that he can discern minute letters painted in Mona Lisa’s eyes. In the right eye, for instance, he detects the letters L and V. The Louvre says that it has examined the painting with “every possible laboratory test” and has found no letters. This might have been a disappointment—the letters would have made Louis Vuitton a perfect corporate sponsor.</p>
<p>Claims about the background landscape in the Mona Lisa have become something of a growth industry. A paleontologist at the University of Florence, Carlo Starnazzi, argued in the mid-1990s that the lake on the left side of the painting is Lake Chiana and that the bridge on the right is the Burgiano Bridge, both near Arezzo. An art historian, Carla Glori, wrote in her 2010 book, The Leonardo Enigma, that the bridge in the painting can be found in Bobbio, a village south of Piacenza. An artist-photographer, Rosetta Borchia, and a geomorphologist from the University of Urbino, Olivia Nesci, believe the location is the Montefeltro region of northern Italy, and that the bridge can be seen from the heights of Valmarecchia.</p>
<p>In the eyes of some, the Mona Lisa raises medical issues and questions of physiological identity. Vito Franco, a professor of pathology at the University of Palermo, maintained in 2010 that Mona Lisa—the woman herself, Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, the Florentine silk merchant who commissioned Leonardo to paint the portrait—likely suffered from a cholesterol problem. Franco noted a yellowish accumulation of what he interpreted to be fatty acids under the skin. Kemp, at Oxford, checked the area under magnification and arrived at a different diagnosis: Residue from restoration efforts had “bleached.” One art historian, Angelo Paratico, in 2014 argued (in the same breath) that Mona Lisa might have been a Chinese slave and Leonardo’s mother.</p>
<p>Another theory: The Mona Lisa is a portrait of a man—either Leonardo himself or his pupil and possible lover, Salaì—dressed as a woman.The self-portrait theory found expression in a 1987 Art & Antiques article by Lillian Schwartz, an artist and computer technician who used digital tools to superimpose an image of a Leonardo self-portrait onto an image of the woman in the painting. No question, Schwartz concluded: Leonardo used himself as a model. A similar conclusion is reached in a video now on YouTube titled “Mona Lisa IS Leonardo da Vinci.” The viewer is urged to watch the overlay of a Leonardo self-portrait onto an image of the Mona Lisa in order to see “how amazingly they line up.” The notion that the Mona Lisa is a Leonardo self-portrait is not one that experts have rushed to embrace.</p>
<p>Other investigators have speculated that Mona Lisa’s expression suggests compulsive grinding of her teeth, poor diet, a dysfunctional marriage, deafness, or facial paralysis; that the look of contentment on her face and the coy placement of her hands indicate that she was pregnant; that she was a prostitute; that she is smiling with her mouth closed because her teeth had been blackened by mercury treatments for syphilis; or that she suffered from strabismus (crossed eyes). The Mona Lisa’s famous smile was analyzed in 2005 by researchers at the University of Amsterdam (with technical assistance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), using what they called “emotion recognition” software. The researchers determined that the woman in the portrait was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry.</p>
<p>My own study, conducted without the benefit of emotion-recognition software, suggests that experts such as Kemp and Bambach are 100 percent amused by analyses of this kind.</p>
<p>F<span>anciful rumination about</span> Leonardo will never cease. But, as noted, there’s actual recent news. “One of the many important discoveries,” Bambach says, “was the firming up of what had been questioned about the Mona Lisa. Many historians had gone off on a tangent as to when it was painted, or that the portrait was not of Lisa del Giaconda but of Isabella d’Este and others. The painting had been dated by some as 1500 or 1512.” But in 2005, Armin Schlechter, a manuscript expert in the Heidelberg University library, came across a note, dated 1503, in which Agostino Vespucci, a Florentine official who knew Leonardo, indicated that the artist was working at that very moment on a portrait of Gherardini. That settled that.</p>
<p>The rediscovery of Salvator Mundi was a major event. A painting of that name by Leonardo was known to have existed, but accidents of history (and layers of “restoration”) had concealed its identity. At one point, in 1958, it was sold in Britain for £45 as a painting by someone else. In 2017, Salvator Mundi was auctioned at Christie’s for $450.3 million—this despite lingering questions about attribution among a few connoisseurs. Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism said that it was the buyer of Salvator Mundi and that the painting would be displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi; then, in September, the department announced that the unveiling had been postponed. It did not give any reason. In February, the Louvre confirmed that it hopes to display Salvator Mundi in its October show. The phrasing of the Louvre’s statement, according to The Art Newspaper, “suggests that the painting is still owned by a single individual, who is widely believed to be Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.”</p>
<p>Also in 2017: Leonardo’s Adoration of the Magi, its restoration complete, was returned to public display at the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence. According to Frank Zöllner, an art historian at Leipzig University and the author of a catalogue raisonné of Leonardo, “Infrared and digital imaging has shown how he drew the 70 or so figures of the composition directly onto the prepared panel in freehand, without the means of transferring preliminary sketches onto the wood panel. The painting has sketchy elements because it was unfinished. It shows the artistic spontaneity of Leonardo.”</p>
<p>Kemp brought up another discovery: “Scientific examination of all his paintings has shed enormous light on how incredibly varied his technique was. Leonardo was always striving for something new. Every conception triggered new experimentation. For example, he used powdered glass mixed with gesso, instead of just gesso, in priming a painting to give it, presumably, a kind of radiance.”</p>
<p>As hundreds of Leonardo’s works travel around the globe, people will have more chances than ever before to see his technique firsthand. What would Leonardo have made of all the fuss over his quincentennial—and, for that matter, all the wild theorizing on the margins? I put the question to Kemp, anticipating the sort of censorious observation you’d expert from an Oxford don at a high table. I got something else.</p>
<p>“He would have loved it,” Kemp said. “He was interested in fame and immortality. He would have been pleased that his name is still on people’s lips.”</p>


Great read... Thanks !
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

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A reporter declined to reveal his source. Then police showed up with guns
« Reply #3776 on: May 13, 2019, 05:39:53 AM »
Pay attention to this story and its repercussions. It could well be a local one-off, or the start of a troubling trend.

A reporter declined to reveal his source. Then police showed up at his front door with guns.



Bryan Carmody, a freelance reporter in San Francisco, awoke Friday to the sounds of someone trying to break into his house.

About 10 officers from the San Francisco Police Department were bashing the front gate of his home in the Outer Richmond neighborhood with a sledgehammer, he said. It was just after 8 o’clock in the morning.

Carmody called out and said he would let them into the house. The officers showed him a search warrant and proceeded to go through his home — from “top to bottom” he says — with their guns drawn.

“They treated me like I was some kind of drug dealer," he said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Carmody was being raided in connection with a criminal investigation.

Two weeks before, police investigators showed up at his home to ask him, politely he says, to identify the source who provided him with a confidential police report about the February death of the city’s public defender, Jeff Adachi. Carmody, who said he worked with three local television news stations on the story, declined.

He wasn’t about to give up his source on Friday either, despite the escalation — not to the police or two FBI agents in suits who questioned him about the case, he said.

“I’m smart enough not to talk to federal agents, ever,” Carmody said. “I just kept saying ‘lawyer, lawyer, lawyer.' ”

So he stayed handcuffed for the next six hours, he says — a certificate of release from the police department that he distributed says he was in custody from 8:22 a.m. until 1:55 p.m. — as investigators searched his home, then his office, where they found the report in a safe. A search warrant filed in the case notes that it was issued as police investigated “stolen or embezzled property.”

“There’s only two people on this planet who know who leaked this report — me and the guy who leaked it,” Carmody said.

The raid on Carmody’s home and office drew wide First Amendment-related attention in the Bay Area over the weekend. And it added a new twist to the intrigue that surrounded the death of Adachi, who had built up a high profile as a public defender in the 16 years he had held the office.

The only elected public defender in California, Adachi was known as an watchdog on police misconduct. His death, on Feb. 22, at the age of 59, was attributed in early reports to a heart attack.

Then more information came to light.

On Feb. 24, ABC 7 published a story after it said it obtained a police report and photos about Adachi’s death, which included unflattering details about the public defender’s last hours. The story reported that he had been with a woman named Caterina — not his wife — and that he was found unresponsive in an apartment with “an unmade bed, empty bottles of alcohol, cannabis gummies, and two syringes that may have been left by paramedics.”

The publication of those details, which did little to illuminate the nature of Adachi’s death and more to call into question his character, prompted some to wonder if the police department was retaliating against Adachi, even after his death.

“It’s curious that we’re reading leaked details about another ‘woman,’ the renting of an apartment, and entirely unnecessary mentions of alcohol, cannabis, and syringes,” SFist noted at the time. “Certainly the incident ought to be investigated, as any death should, but the information coming out makes it seem like Adachi’s decades-old battles with law enforcement — on behalf of defendants and otherwise — may continue even after his passing.”

[Kamala Harris ‘grew up’ with Jeff Adachi. Then tragedy struck.]

Tim Redmond, editor of the San Francisco news site 48 Hills, called the local coverage “repugnant,” noting how disliked Adachi was by many police officers in the city in a post he wrote at the time.

“Where do you supposed those came from? Why do you suppose they wound up with the sensation-driven TV stations?” he wrote of the provenance of the police report. “The photos have been widely publicized with no context at all. There are photos of ‘an unmade bed’ — a salacious innuendo with no relevance.”

Carmody declined to give specifics about the three outlets he had worked with on the story.

A “stringer” in the parlance of TV news, Carmody occupies the small niche in the world of broadcast journalism that was satirized in the Hollywood film “Nightcrawler.”

He works every night from about 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., when he chases news, such as car crashes, crime scenes, disasters, weather stories, the release of a new video game — “anything that happens overnight,” he says — then sells his services and materials he gathers to local stations for their morning broadcasts. His name is rarely included on the report or corresponding material, he said.

His company, North Bay Television, which is run out of an office downtown stocked with police scanners, computers, and a coffee machine, employs three or four other people, down from a onetime peak of 10.

“Like all media, we are shrinking," he said.

He said he has never paid any of his sources of information or material.

Asked about tensions between the police department and Adachi, Carmody declined to comment on the politics of the case.

“I had no beef with him, I had no beef with anyone, I’m just a journalist in the middle of this,” he said.

He said he believed he was being targeted because he was a freelancer, noting that details in the police report had appeared in other publications, such as the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I don’t think there was a police raid at the Chronicle with a sledgehammer yesterday,” he said.

A medical examiner’s report, which was released to the media in March, filled in more details about Adachi’s death. The office ruled his death an accident due to the effects of cocaine and alcohol combined with a preexisting heart condition it said Adachi had.

The San Francisco Police Department defended the investigation Saturday in a statement sent to local reporters.

“The citizens and leaders of the City of San Francisco have demanded a complete and thorough investigation into this leak, and this action represents a step in the process of investigating a potential case of obstruction of justice along with the illegal distribution of confidential police material," it said.

An FBI spokeswoman said that the bureau’s agents did not participate in the execution of the search warrant but confirmed that they were present to interview Carmody.

A law enforcement source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Carmody was handcuffed for procedural issues related to “multiple weapons” in the house. Carmody said that he is the lawful owner of an unspecified number of guns.

Carmody says his ability to work is now crippled by the seizure of his electronics. A search warrant and affidavit he distributed noted that police took at least at least four tablets, seven computers, 10 hard drives, a dozen phones, two cameras, reporters’ notebooks and a thumb drive from his home. He has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to buy more equipment.

Thomas R. Burke, a First Amendment lawyer in the Bay Area who represents Carmody, said that he believes the police overreached significantly.

“The appropriate thing was to issue a subpoena, not a search warrant,” he said, noting the breadth of Carmody’s material they had control over in all of this devices and notebooks. He said he wants to know whether the judges who signed the warrants were aware that they were for a reporter’s home and office.

Carmody said he had never been pressured by law enforcement to give up a source before in 29 years of reporting — mentioning as an example the leaked photographs from San Francisco’s public transportation agency he recently acquired that exposed a safety issue with some trains.

“I am shocked at how far this has gone already,” he said. “It’s already gotten way out of hand.”

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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I find myself wondering at the unintended consequences of this "trade war." there are worse things than the end of "low low prices everyday" at War Mart.

Diners of a certain age will recall war criminals Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger hatching someone called "the madman theory of diplomacy," in which they wanted North Vietnamese leaders to think Nixon was insane in unleashing unrestricted terror bombing of the north, in an effort to force them to then negotiating table. "Madman" redux?

Beijing calls for a 'people's war' against the US as Trump threatens tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods in all-out trade battle


Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump in Beijing in November 2017. The two men's countries are locked in a bitter trade war.

  • The US-China trade war has dramatically escalated over the past few days, with both sides imposing new tariffs on billions of dollars' worth of each other's goods.
  • Chinese state media — which function as Communist Party mouthpieces — issued a series of rabble-rousing statements on Monday, accusing the US of "greed and arrogance" and calling for a "people's war" against it.
  • President Donald Trump's administration on Monday night threatened to tariffs of up to 25% on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.
  • If such tariffs were imposed, almost all Chinese imports to the US would be subject to tariffs.
  • Trump tweeted on Tuesday that his "respect and friendship with President Xi is unlimited but ... this must be a great deal for the United States or it just doesn't make any sense."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US-China trade war continues to heat up as Beijing calls for a "people's war" against Washington, and President Donald Trump threatens to impose tariffs on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.

In a series of editorials and op-eds published on Monday, Chinese state media slammed the Trump administration's "greed and arrogance," and called for a "people's war" against it. Beijing's state-run media effectively serve as mouthpieces for the Communist Party.

"The most important thing is that in the China-US trade war, the US side fights for greed and arrogance ... and morale will break at any point. The Chinese side is fighting back to protect its legitimate interests," the nationalistic Global Times tabloid wrote in a Chinese-language editorial carried by Xinhua News Agency.

"The trade war in the US is the creation of one person and one administration, but it affects that country's entire population. In China, the entire country and all its people are being threatened. For us, this is a real 'people's war.'"

Read more: Asian stocks are following Wall Street's bloodbath as the US-China trade war heats up

Xi Jinping
Xi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, in December 2017.
REUTERS/Fred Dufour/Pool

The rabble-rousing statements come amid an intense escalation of the trade war over the past week. Here's what happened:

If the Trump administration were to impose the new tariffs on $300 billion of additional goods it would mean that $500 billion of Chinese goods coming into the US would be subject to tariffs.

That figure represents virtually all Chinese imports to the US. The US imported $540 billion worth of goods from China in 2018, according to Census Bureau data.

China shipping container us trade war
A China Shipping Line container ship at the Port of Los Angeles.
David McNew/Getty Images

The Global Times' Monday editorial also effectively accused the Trump administration of misleading Americans about the victims of US tariffs.

It singled out an interview that Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economics adviser, gave to "Fox News Sunday" in which he said that US consumers would also suffer from the trade war, contradicting Trump's claim that China would singlehandedly foot the bill.

Read more: Trump's own economics adviser just shot down his misleading claim that US consumers won't pay for the tariffs in the China trade war

donald trump xi jinping
Trump and Xi are expected to meet in Japan in late June.
Andrew Harnik/AP Images

During prime time on Monday night, state broadcaster CCTV also aired a statement saying that China would "fight for a new world."

Anchor Kang Hui said on his 7 p.m. news show, as cited by CNN: "As President Xi Jinping pointed out, the Chinese economy is a sea, not a small pond. A rainstorm can destroy a small pond, but it cannot harm the sea. After numerous storms, the sea is still there." That clip went viral on Chinese social media, CNN reported.

In an English-language version of its Monday editorial, the tabloid also said: "The US tariff moves are very much like spraying bullets. They will cause a lot of self-inflicted harm and are hard to sustain in the long term."

"China, on the other hand, is going to aim with precision, trying to avoid hurting itself," it said.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping meet business leaders at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Reuters

Trump tweeted on Tuesday that his "respect and friendship with President Xi is unlimited but ... this must be a great deal for the United States or it just doesn't make any sense."

He added on Monday he will meet Xi next month at the G20 summit. "That'll be, I think, probably a very fruitful meeting," he said.

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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A WAR REPORTER COVERS “THE END OF ICE”
« Reply #3778 on: May 14, 2019, 05:21:00 AM »
A WAR REPORTER COVERS “THE END OF ICE”
— AND IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT CLIMATE CATASTROPHE




FOCUSING ON BREATH and gratitude, Dahr Jamail’s latest book, “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption,” stitches together personal introspection and gut-wrenching interviews with leading climate experts. The rapidly receding glaciers of Denali National Park, home to the highest peak in North America, inspired the book’s title. “Seven years of climbing in Alaska had provided me with a front-row seat from where I could witness the dramatic impact of human-caused climate disruption,” Jamail writes.

With vividly descriptive storytelling, Jamail pushes further north into the Arctic Circle where warming is occurring at double speed. He surveys rapid changes in the Pribilof Islands, where Indigenous communities have had to contend with die-offs affecting seabirds, fur seals, fish, and more — a collapsing food web. The story continues in the fragile Great Barrier Reef, utterly ravaged by the warming ocean. South Florida is faring no better: Jamail finds that 2.46 million of the state’s acreage will be submerged within his lifetime. Experts are aghast everywhere Jamail visits. In the Amazon, rich in biodiversity, the consequences are especially enormous.

“The End of Ice” readers won’t find calls for technology-based solutions, politicians, mitigating emissions, or the Green New Deal to save us.

Describing the current state of the planet, Jamail likens it to someone in hospice care. The global mean temperature is already 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Not half a decade ago, leading climate scientist James Hansen warned that that 1 degree would usher in a crisis of sea-level rise, melting Arctic ice, and extreme weather. He concluded that the goal of limiting global warming to only 2 degrees was “very dangerous.” Accelerated melting in the Arctic continues to surpass conservative predictions. Jamail reminds us that “as rapidly as global temperatures are increasing, so are temperature predictions. The conservative International Energy Agency has predicted a possible worst-case scenario of a 3.5°C increase by 2035.”

Little has worked to inspire action. There is perhaps no better example of climate science being disregarded than a climate change denier being elected president of the United States.

The threat of looming biosphere apocalypse is deeply troubling, panic-inducing, and this all-encompassing environmental, economic, and spiritual problem leaves one feeling helpless and grief-stricken. “The End of Ice” takes on the full weight of the catastrophe at hand. Jamail carries the reader’s emotional pain by acutely expressing his own.

end_of_ice_final-1556894251

“The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption” by Dahr Jamail.

Photo: Courtesy of The New Press

“A willingness to live without hope allows me to accept the heartbreaking truth of our situation, however calamitous it is. Grieving for what is happening to the planet also now brings me gratitude for the smallest, most mundane things,” Jamail explains. “I have found that it’s possible to reach a place of acceptance and inner peace, while enduring the grief and suffering that are inevitable as the biosphere declines.”

“The End of Ice” readers won’t find calls for technology-based solutions, politicians, mitigating emissions, or the Green New Deal to save us.

“This global capitalist experiment, this experiment of industrialization and burning fossil fuels rampantly is an utter, abject failure,” Jamail told The Intercept. He believes it is time to start adapting. We should act like the climate crisis has arrived and, most significantly, reconnect to the planet. Jamail spoke to The Intercept about his latest book and dealing with the grief of reporting from the frontlines of the war in Iraq to the frontlines of climate disruption. The interview that follows has been edited for clarity.

Dahr Jamail reads an excerpt from his book “The End of Ice” on the Intercepted podcast beginning at 54:57.

Your book really blindsided me in a way that I didn’t expect. I was thinking it would be another dry, hard to read, statistic-heavy work, but instead you told stories that were really rich with genuine interactions and emotions and talked about your own emotional state while you were reporting on all of this. So just tell me about that approach to writing and how you felt during these interviews with all of these scientists and researchers.

To go out and go to these frontline places like the Great Barrier Reef or Denali or St. Paul Island in the Pribilof, the Everglades down in South Florida, places that were being hit the hardest, the fastest — I knew that I would have a very personal and emotional reaction to that. And so all these places like the Great Barrier Reef and Denali and a couple of others that I have long-term intimate relationships with, I’d watch them over time. Most people aren’t going to get to go to most of these places. So it was really my effort to go try to bring that to them through my writing the best that I could.

I went out and was awestruck, completely blown away by the majesty of these places, getting these moments of: Look at this incredible planet. Look at these hanging glaciers on Denali. Look at these fish at the Great Barrier Reef. And then simultaneously, the heartbreak of going back to a glacier and the whole glacier’s just gone and feeling that gut punch.

That’s what it felt like. Or going back to the Great Barrier Reef: It’s a World Heritage Site. It’s this wonder of the natural world. And snorkeling over areas where all you can see is bleached white coral and knowing most of that’s going to die and having it be utterly silent, devoid of fish life, and feeling that. So it was this simultaneous experience of awe and gratitude for this planet and then heartbreak over what’s happening to it.

Explain that term you use for climate change, which was once “global warming”; you’re calling it “anthropogenic climate disruption.” So why are you making that distinction?

I use the term “human-caused or anthropogenic climate disruption” instead of climate change or global warming for a couple of different reasons. The first and foremost is, it’s the most scientifically accurate because by essentially geoengineering the climate, which is what we’ve done by injecting so much CO2 into the atmosphere, we have disrupted the climate. And then the other reason is that there was fossil fuel influence on climate change decades ago for that to become the more commonly used moniker descriptor: “change” because it’s not as alarming as climate crisis or climate disruption or climate catastrophe.

One of the things that you talk about in the book a lot is the disconnection that we as a human species are having from the planet at this point.

We can ignore it or at least pretend to ignore it and not feel like these impacts are directly affecting us. And for a lot of us still living in that bubble, we can still get away with that.

Well, it’s Western colonial society. It essentially trains us to be disconnected from the planet. It doesn’t predispose us to go and live directly in relationship with the Earth. We don’t have to go to a stream to go get our water. We don’t have to go hunt or grow our food if we don’t want to. It’s the opposite of indigenous lifestyle, traditionally. So that’s why I believe the fundamental cause of climate disruption is our inherent disconnect from the planet. “Our” being those of us living, most of us living in Western industrialized society. And the solution is first, we have to start with reconnecting. And I think that’s why we don’t see climate disruption in the headlines on a regular basis because so many of us are living in big cities, getting our food from grocery stores; our water, turn on the tap. There’s your water.

We can ignore it or at least pretend to ignore it and not feel like these impacts are directly affecting us. And for a lot of us still living in that bubble, we can still get away with that. I think that’s changing before our very eyes, but I think that really is the root cause of this crisis — is this disconnect. Because if we were living closer to the earth, like indigenous people did for thousands and thousands of years, you’re so finely attuned to the weather. And when the rains come and when the droughts come and being able to read things like that and watching what the animals do and making decisions based on that — you’re going to take a lot better care of the place where you live, if you’re living that much more closely to it. And obviously you’re going to not take as good of care of it if you’re completely disconnected from it.

So just to go back to the first book that you wrote about reporting from the frontlines in Iraq to now in this book reporting from the frontlines of climate change: Those are really tough topics to sit with and deal with for a long time.

As devastating as reporting on Iraq was to me, personally — war is an extremely hard thing to live with and figure out how to contend with and then dealing with the PTSD and all of this that comes with it. And that’s something then that I get to live with for the rest of my life and anyone who’s been in war does. It never goes away; you just learn to live with it.

But the climate crisis and this book has been that but on a deeper level because it really regularly kicks in fight or flight, for example of, “Oh my God, we’re losing 2.4 percent of our insect population, 2.4 percent of the insect biomass of the planet annually. That means on this current trajectory, assuming it doesn’t accelerate, that means no more insects within a hundred years. No more insects pretty much means no more humans.” And so that feeling that comes up knowing that there’s a fear. There’s a panic. There’s a fight or flight. Where do I go? I can’t go anywhere. This is our only planet and so all those feelings and that grief that comes up, you’re going to get to deal with that.

And so if this is what’s happening to our very planet, then there’s going to be an ongoing dance with grief that comes up of sadness, of rage at the people responsible, of this kind of internal schizophrenia of, “Yeah, and I still drive, and I still fly, and yet I’m writing this book about the climate crisis.” All of us living embedded in this Western civilization, that’s a dance that we all get to contend with on a daily basis if we really start to tease out our own feelings.

So I want to get into some of the details on different chapters in the book. Can you talk to me a little bit about the glacier melt in the Arctic regions that you were in and what sort of future we’re looking at in that ecosystem?

If we look at what’s happening to glaciers around the globe as the planet has warmed up considerably, we are losing ice at ever accelerating rates. And so one of the things I did is, I went out on the Gulkana Glacier in the Alaska range with the U.S. Geological Survey crew who do an annual mass balance survey. They basically go out on the ice and dig pits and take measurements and plant stakes and use radar and measure how much ice is being lost on an annual basis. There’s several of these around North America that they measure and, in that way, have a very, very accurate chronicle, statistically, of how much ice is being lost over time.

Essentially, what we know is that glaciers are on track, for example, in the contiguous 48 states that at current trajectories and current emission rates, if these continue, there will be probably no glaciers anywhere left in the contiguous 48 states by 2100. I went out into the field in Glacier National Park with Dr. Dan Fagre, and he told me that essentially Glacier National Park will have no functional glaciers by 2030. So that’s less than 11 years from now.

And then if we zoom out of the Hindu Kush region of the Himalaya where it’s heavily glaciated: There’s a massive ice field. Seven of Asia’s biggest rivers are sourced there. That ice is on trajectory to go away, possibly even completely, by 2100. In which case, the 1.5 billion people that get their water for drinking and agriculture from those waters, where do they go? What do they do? What happens to the areas where they migrate because they’ll have to migrate? We can’t live someplace where there’s not potable water and water for irrigating crops. So when glaciers go away, it’s a big deal to humans. And a lot of people don’t think about this.

Can you tell me about your trip to the Great Barrier Reef and what you saw there? There’s something to be said about the coral reef phenomenon in talking about climate change because it is one of the things that people can connect to in an emotional way. Human beings hate seeing beautiful things get destroyed. We really don’t like it. So as a visual person, I think that’s an interesting way to approach climate change: Show people the coral reefs and what we’re losing.

At the risk of sounding cheesy or cliche, it’s part of that reconnection process to the planet. And you know, when I wrote this book, I hoped that if I had one goal of the book was that someone would read it and then put it down and go outside to wherever their favorite place is to connect into the Earth — whether it’s a park or a river or the ocean or the mountains or pasture or what have you — because we’ve forgotten. We have forgotten. Look at this incredible planet where we live. Just go out and look at a tree with birds in it and just watch them for a couple of minutes. Look at all of this. Nature is doing all of this by itself.

And then look at what we’ve done, and look at what our actions are causing. We have to take that in, and I think that’s where we get back into this dance of the beauty and the awe and the amazement and the love simultaneous with, “Look at how shockingly fast we’re losing it all.” I mean, because we are losing it. We have failed. This experiment, this global capitalist experiment, this experiment of industrialization and burning fossil fuels rampantly is an utter, abject failure. And all of the global governments — of course, some are doing it a little less worse than others — but at this point, all of the global governments have failed abjectly in responding to this crisis accordingly. And so again, all of that puts the onus back on each of us now. How are we individually going to respond?

I grew up in Florida, in Sarasota. It’s a coastal city on the Gulf of Mexico. And I’ve essentially had this understanding my whole life that one day, probably within my lifetime, my hometown will be completely underwater. So it’s absurd: the fact that, one, we have Donald Trump and a climate-change-denying administration, but two, on a state level, we have climate-change-denying leadership at the top in a state that will be completely, wholly affected by climate change more so maybe than any other state. But can you just tell me about what you learned in Miami and in the Everglades?

That particular chapter working on sea level rise in Florida was — to put it as clearly and bluntly as I can: It was a mindfuck.

It was so incredible to be in this place that is ground zero for sea level rise. It’s happening more intensely and faster there as it is anywhere else in the world, and you also have some of the leading sea level rise experts on the planet. They’re out of University of Miami — Ben Kirtman and Harold Wanless, both of whom I interviewed for the book. And there I am in Miami Beach going around with the then-city engineer Bruce Mowry, who’s actively working to raise several of the streets three feet, knowing that’s not enough, but, “OK, this is going to buy us enough time. We’re going to save Miami Beach. We can try to mitigate this.” Conveniently ignoring things like well, it’s actually the whole city is based on what was essentially a mangrove swamp. There’s this porous limestone underneath it that — guess what —water comes up through it.

There’s already large areas in Miami Beach and some areas of Miami that flood in the middle of a sunny day, in the middle of a drought, and people are just putting on their rubber boots and walking through it. There’s fish swimming at times literally across the roads. And so you’re living on ground zero for sea level rise with this fossil-fuel-funded leadership. Then simultaneous to that, you have scientists like Dr. Wanless who told me, “Look, I know for a fact that Marco Rubio is aware of what I’m telling you about how much sea level rise is already baked in.” It’s not out of the realm of possibility we could see 10 feet by 2050. We could see far more than that by 2100. I mean, South Florida is basically gone. All those millions of people, and all of that infrastructure, and all of those toxic sites that have to be cleaned up, and the Turkey Point nuclear plant just south of Miami at six feet elevation — all of that has to be decommissioned and moved to higher ground. All of the archives, hospitals, colleges, everything, right? And that needs to start yesterday. And instead, you have this denial. Nothing’s happening.

I want to talk about one moment in the book that completely gutted me, and I hadn’t heard this information anywhere else. You were speaking to, as you mentioned, Dr. Harold Wanless in Miami, and you write about the conversation: “In the past, atmospheric CO2 varied from roughly 180 to 280 parts per million as the Earth shifted from glacial to interglacial periods. This 100 ppm fluctuation was linked with about a 100-foot change in sea level.” And so that means we’ve gone from 280 ppm to our current level, right now, of 410 ppm of carbon in the atmosphere. So what does that mean?

That means that we have, at least in theory, 130 feet of sea level rise that’s already baked into the system. 130 feet means goodbye, Florida. Well, basically all of South Florida. That means goodbye to every major coastal city on the planet. And then where do those people go? What happens to those economies? How do we relocate all those people? I mean, this means literally a completely different planet by itself, and that’s what’s there.

And we have to remember too that in conjunction with that, there’s a NASA report that I discuss in the book that discusses how back in the Pliocene, roughly 3 million years ago when there was roughly the same amount of CO2 in the atmosphere as there is now because of us: Sea levels were minimum 20 meters higher than they are today. The average global temperature was 3 to 4°C higher than it is now, and there were parts of the globe where it was 10°C higher.

We’re seeing geologic change happening on human timescale. We’re looking at change faster than what happened during the Permian mass extinction, which up to now was the single deadliest mass extinction event in the planet’s history. 252 million years ago, 90 percent of all life on Earth went extinct, and we have injected CO2 in the atmosphere at a rate dramatically faster than what caused that mass extinction event.

PARADISE, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 11: An aerial view of homes destroyed by the Camp Fire on February 11, 2019 in Paradise, California. Three months after the deadly and destructive Camp Fire, the community is beginning the rebuilding process. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

An aerial view of homes destroyed by the Camp Fire on Feb. 11, 2019, in Paradise, Calif.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Let’s talk about wildfires. You wrote, “Climate disruption is already responsible for nearly half of the forest area burns across the western United States over the last 30 years.” That’s pretty shocking.

It is. I live in the Pacific Northwest. You say that, most people picture rainforests, lots of rain, wet Seattle, gray, all of this. And yet we have already, as we speak right now on Earth Day, have had 50 wildfires in Washington State, where I live. That’s normally the number we have by late August and into October, which is peak wildfire season. There are towns that are literally becoming unlivable. If you have respiratory issues, you can’t live in a town that’s completely engulfed in wildfire smoke for weeks on end.

There are towns that are literally becoming unlivable. If you have respiratory issues, you can’t live in a town that’s completely engulfed in wildfire smoke for weeks on end.

It’s truly incredible when you look at the fact that once we hit 3 degrees Celsius warming (we’re at 1.1 degrees Celsius now), many scientists tell us that if we stopped all fossil fuel emissions on a dime, we have a minimum of 3 degrees Celsius warming already baked into the system. That means a sextupling of the amount of wildfires in the American West. If you look at what’s happened to California, just as an example, over the last couple of years, multiply that by six.

So we are right there on the edge of these impacts. But one thing that I want to remind folks: It is easy to think in the United States, “Oh, well, so much of this is happening so much worse in other countries.” Well, if you live in Paradise, California, there’s no more future tense about the climate crisis to you. If you’ve just lost everything and you know someone who’s died and if you made it out of that alive, barely: You just lived through the apocalypse.

Talk about the emotional parallels of working both as a war correspondent and covering climate change. I believe you described it as a kind of grief.

There is a deep, deep grief that comes up, and the way I’ve written about it in the book is I shared a story about a dear friend of mine: Duane French, a quadriplegic man that I used to work for, as his personal assistant, up in Alaska when I first moved up there in the mid-’90s. And a few years ago, he got pneumonia, and I thought for sure, “He’s dead.” He was in the ICU for weeks on end, and none of the drugs were working, and I really believed I was in a hospice situation with him. And so all that mattered to me was to really be as present as I could and appreciate each moment that I had while he was still here.

So what can I do? Where does my motivation come from if things really do appear to be lost? That’s where I had a big conversation with a Cherokee medicine man named Stan Rushworth, actually. He reminded me of the difference between the colonial settler mindset of, “We have rights,” versus the indigenous philosophy of, “We’re all born onto the planet with obligations.” The two big ones that he shared with me are: an obligation to take care of, and be a steward of, the planet; and an obligation to serve future generations and make my decisions based on what’s going to take the best care of them. And so no matter how dire things look today, if I get up and I ask myself, “OK, how can I be of best service today to the planet and to the children?” Then I have my work cut out for me, and there is no shortage of things to do. And I am morally obliged to do everything in my power possible to try to help somehow, whatever that’s going to look like.

So at most points in these conversations about climate, the conversation turns to hope for the future at the end, but I don’t really want to talk about hope, you know, in the sense of that meaning solutions. I want to know how you’ve been dealing with the weight of this material and how you’ve personally come to define hope.

Right, I had to really tackle the hope versus hopelessness paradigm. To sum it up, upfront, I quote Vaclav Havel who said, “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something is worth doing no matter how it turns out.” With hope in the context of the climate crisis in these movements: Someone else, or some party, or some movement’s going to do something — even if I’m part of that — and then something in the future is going to happen. And I think it takes us out of ourselves, and it definitely takes us out of the present moment. And right now, in this second, in me, this is where all my agency is. So whatever actions I do right now, that’s what really, really matters, and I have to take full responsibility for that. And I think that’s what I’m getting to: accepting that we have a minimum of 3°C baked into the system. That is absolutely catastrophic. No one’s going to argue how catastrophic that is.

And yes, more is needed. And yes, it looks like all may be lost but I just have to keep coming back to that. What gets me out of bed in the morning, and what are my obligations? And when I come from that place, then I feel actually more passionately about this than ever before and certainly even before I wrote the book.

« Last Edit: May 24, 2019, 05:02:27 AM by Surly1 »
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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‘Extraordinary thinning’ of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica
« Reply #3779 on: May 16, 2019, 04:38:42 AM »
‘Extraordinary thinning’ of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica
New research shows affected areas are losing ice five times faster than in the 1990s, with more than 100m of thickness gone in some places



The Antarctic’s Thwaites glacier. More than 50% of the Pine Island and Thwaites glacier basins have been affected by thinning in the past 25 years. Photograph: PA

Ice losses are rapidly spreading deep into the interior of the Antarctic, new analysis of satellite data shows.

The warming of the Southern Ocean is resulting in glaciers sliding into the sea increasingly rapidly, with ice now being lost five times faster than in the 1990s. The West Antarctic ice sheet was stable in 1992 but up to a quarter of its expanse is now thinning. More than 100 metres of ice thickness has been lost in the worst-hit places.

A complete loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet would drive global sea levels up by about five metres, drowning coastal cities around the world. The current losses are doubling every decade, the scientists said, and sea level rise are now running at the extreme end of projections made just a few years ago.

The research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, compared 800m satellite measurements of ice sheet height from 1992 to 2017 with weather information. This distinguished short-term changes owing to varying snowfall from long-term changes owing to climate.

“From a standing start in the 1990s, thinning has spread inland progressively over the past 25 years – that is rapid in glaciological terms,” said Prof Andy Shepherd, of Leeds University in the UK, who led the study. “The speed of drawing down ice from an ice sheet used to be spoken of in geological timescales, but that has now been replaced by people’s lifetimes.”

He said the thinning of some ice streams had extended 300 miles inland along their 600-mile length. “More than 50% of the Pine Island and Thwaites glacier basins have been affected by thinning in the past 25 years. We are past halfway and that is a worry.”

Researchers already knew that ice was being lost from West Antarctica, but the new work pinpoints where it is happening and how rapidly. This will enable more accurate projections to be made of sea level rises and may aid preparations for these rises.

In the recent past, snow falling on to Antarctica’s glaciers balanced the ice lost as icebergs calved off into the ocean. But now the glaciers are flowing faster than snow can replenish them.

“Along a 3,000km [1,850-mile] stretch of West Antarctica, the water in front of the glaciers is too hot,” he said. This causes melting of the underside of the glaciers where they grind against the seabed. The melting lessens the friction and allows the glaciers then to slide more quickly into the ocean and therefore become thinner.

“In parts of Antarctica, the ice sheet has thinned by extraordinary amounts,” Shepherd said.

Separate research published in January found that ice loss from the entire Antarctic continent had increased six-fold since the 1980s, with the biggest losses in the west. The new study indicates West Antarctica has caused 5mm of sea level rise since 1992, consistent with the January study’s findings.

The expansion of the oceans as they warm and the vast melting in Greenland are the main current causes of the rising oceans, but Antarctica is the biggest store of ice. The East Antarctic ice sheet contains enough ice to raise sea levels by about 60 metres. It had been considered stable, but research in December found even this stronghold was showing signs of melting.

Without rapid cuts in the carbon emissions driving global warming, the melting and rising sea level will continue for thousands of years.

“Before we had useful satellite measurements from space, most glaciologists thought the polar ice sheets were pretty isolated from climate change and didn’t change rapidly at all,” Shepherd said. “Now we know that is not true.”

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

 

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