Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - Surly1

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 31
Surly Newz / A Diner Public Service: Trump Golf Count
« on: February 15, 2020, 04:55:51 PM »


Cost to Taxpayer: About $128,000,000**


*Daytime visits to golf clubs since inauguration, with evidence of playing golf on at least 115 visits. Our last recorded outing was on February 15, 2020. Click on complete data table for a list of Trump's outings, or view our breakdown of total costs.

**Read about the new GAO report on the cost of Trump's trips to Mar-a-Lago.

Why we are doing this

"I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf." --Donald J. Trump, August, 2016

Our President made a promise to the American people. Here we track his fulfillment of that promise. You can view our full list of Trump's golf outings here, and see this explanation for more information. Or just watch this video to hear it straight from the President himself.


Just the Facts, the Real Facts

Fun Stats

Days Trump has spent at Mar a Lago:


Cost of flights to Mar a Lago (29 so far):*


Days Trump has spent at Bedminster:


Cost of flights to Bedminster (23 so far):*


Trump has visited his clubs once every this many days since his inauguration:


Projected visits to golf clubs in four years:


Projected visits in eight years:


Total times Obama played golf during his eight year Presidency:


*Cost estimates for Trump's travel to Mar a Lago and Bedminster are from The Washington Post. At this point the number of flights to Bedminster is one more than common counts of his "visits" because of an extra round trip on Air Force One to return to the White House for six hours during the weekend of July 4, 2017. See for up-to-the-minute details about golf outings and for a list of Trump's flights to Florida and New Jersey.

Surly Newz / The Great Culling
« on: February 13, 2020, 10:32:09 AM »
This is a new thread that will feature articles consistent with the thought that at least some elites are pursuing a depopulation agenda that is not publicly known but actively pursued.

While I have been brooding about this for some years after tripping across the odd article about GMOs, plastics load, poisoned water and such, this thread was actively inspired by this article:
Jeremy Grantham warns eventually only the rich will procreate as chemicals leave the poor sterile

And the corresponding Diner Forum thread here:,9921.msg183460.html#msg183460

New Study Finds GMO Corn Makes Rats Infertile
Unlike GM corn, non-GMO corn doesn’t cause sterility

By Christina Sarich
Posted On July 1, 2015

Read more:
Follow us: @naturalsociety on Twitter | NaturalSociety on Facebook

Still think GMOs and their non-GMO counterparts are equivalent? Think again. Unlike GM corn, non-GMO corn doesn’t cause sterility. A new study released by Egyptian scientists found that rats fed a GMO diet suffer from infertility, among other health issues.

Researchers from the Food Technology Department, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Anatomy and Embryology, and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Suez Canal University, Ismailia, Egypt, have found that several unsavory changes occur when rats were fed GM corn.

The rats’ organs/body weight and serum biochemistry were altered, indicating potential adverse health and toxic effects.

“GM corn or soybeans leads to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, particularly in livers and kidneys. In addition they found other organs may be affected too, such as heart and spleen, or blood cells. The kidneys of males fared the worst, with 43.5% of all the changes, the liver of females followed with 30.8%”

Additionally, by day 91, many of the rats fed a GM diet were completely sterile.

As reported by Sustainable Pulse:

In the third study, histopathological examination was carried out on the rats fed the GM maize, and the results were compared with rats fed non-GM maize. The study found clear signs of organ pathology in the GM-fed group, especially in the liver, kidney, and small intestine. An examination of the testes revealed necrosis (death) and desquamation (shedding) of the spermatogonial cells that are the foundation of sperm cells and thus male fertility – and all this after only 91 days of feeding.”

Read: GMO Soy Linked to Sterility, Birth Defects, Infant Mortality

How long do you think this effect will take to show up in human beings who eat GM food?

The study abstract reads:

“This study was designed to evaluate the safety of genetically modified (GM) corn (Ajeeb YG). Corn grains from Ajeeb YG or its control (Ajeeb) were incorporated into rodent diets at 30% concentrations administered to rats (n= 10/group) for 45 and 91 days…General conditions were observed daily…and serum biochemistry were measured. The data showed several statistically significantdifferences in organs/body weight and serum biochemistry between the rats fed on GM and/or Non-GM corn and the rats fed on AIN93G diets. In general, GM corn sample caused several changes by increase or decrease organs/body weight or serum biochemistry values. This indicates potential adverse health/toxic effects of GM corn and further investigations still needed.”

This study simply corroborates previous findings, proving the same deleterious effects. Russian biologist Alexey V. Surov and his colleagues found that Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) soy, grown on 91% of US soybean fields, leads to problems in growth or reproduction – in many cases, causing infertility. Animals who ate GM soy were sterile by the third generation.

Years ago, Natural Society unveiled proof that hamsters fed Monsanto’s GM soy for two years had growth and development abnormalities, and also – became sterile.

If you don’t see a pattern here, you might need to look again.

Medicine & Health / Coronavirus: Threat or Menace?
« on: February 11, 2020, 04:25:09 AM »
Going to stand up a thread about coronavirus.

Hereis a look at the headlines on the front page of ZeroHedge this morning...

Surly Newz / Dave Barry’s Year in Review 2019
« on: December 30, 2019, 06:27:47 AM »
Dave Barry’s Year in Review 2019
Impeachment. Brexit. Greenland. Can we say anything good about this year? Nah.


It was an extremely eventful year.

We are using “eventful” in the sense of “bad.”

It was a year so eventful that every time another asteroid whizzed past the Earth, barely avoiding a collision that would have destroyed human civilization, we were not 100 percent certain it was good news.

We could not keep up with all the eventfulness. Every day, we’d wake up to learn that some new shocking alleged thing had allegedly happened, and before we had time to think about it, the political-media complex, always in Outrage Condition Red, would explode in righteous fury, with Side A and Side B hurling increasingly nasty accusations at each other and devoting immense energy to thinking up ways to totally DESTROY the other side on Twitter, a medium that has the magical power to transform everything it touches, no matter how stupid it is, into something even stupider.

Fact: This year O.J. Simpson got a Twitter account, and the reaction of nearly a million people was: “What? The attention-seeking psychopath who got away with murdering two innocent people wants followers? Count me in!”

Speaking of attention-seeking psychopaths: The epicenter of the year’s eventfulness was of course Washington, D.C., an endlessly erupting scandal volcano, belching out dense swirling smoke plumes of spin, rumor, innuendo, misdirection and lies emitted by both sides, A and B — or, if you prefer, B and A — filling the air with vicious rhetoric, always delivered with the pious insistence that OUR side, unlike the OTHER side, is motivated not by ego, power-lust, greed or hatred, but by a selfless desire to Work for the American People.

Meanwhile, from out beyond the Capital Beltway, the actual American people warily watched the perpetual tantrum that was supposed to be their government. And more and more their reaction, whatever side they considered themselves to be on, was: Nah.

Which is pretty much how we feel about 2019 in general. And not just because of politics. There was a continued general decline of human intelligence, as epitomized by the popularity of increasingly elaborate “gender reveal” events. Originally these involved simply cutting open a cake that had been dyed with food coloring, but they have escalated to the point where this year they resulted in — we are not making this up — a fatal explosion and a plane crash. It is only a matter of time before a major city is leveled by a pink or blue mushroom cloud.

Can we say anything good about 2019? Was there any positive news, a silver lining, a reason to feel hopeful about the future — to believe that we, as Americans, can recognize our common interests, overcome our differences and work together to build a better tomorrow, for ourselves, for our children and for the world?


Anyway, before we shove 2019 down the garbage disposal of history, let’s take one look back and remind ourselves why we want to forget this train wreck of a year, starting with …


… which begins with the federal government once again in the throes (whatever a “throe” is) of a partial shutdown, which threatens to seriously disrupt the lives of all Americans who receive paychecks from the federal government. At issue is the situation at the Mexican border, which either is or is not a Crisis depending on which cable news network you prefer. President Trump wants a high concrete wall, but at the moment there is only enough money for a sternly worded south-facing billboard.

Finally the president and Congress reach a temporary budget agreement that will not address the border situation but will enable them to resume spending insane amounts of money that the nation does not have until such time as they are able to reach a permanent budget agreement enabling them to continue spending insane amounts of money that the nation does not have, this being the primary function of our federal leadership.

Meanwhile in the Robert Mueller investigation, which feels like it began during the French and Indian War, a grand jury indicts longtime Trump confidante and professional lunatic Roger Stone on a number of charges, including that he threatened to kidnap another witness’s therapy dog, Bianca (really). This news elates the courageous guerrilla fighters of the Resistance, who since 2016 have been evading the fascist authorities by hiding out underground, constantly on the move from CNN panel to CNN panel. The Resisters see the Stone indictment as a sure sign that Mueller is getting ready to release his much-anticipated report, which will prove, at last, that Trump colluded with the Russians and then, at last, it will be IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY.

In the Robert Mueller investigation, a grand jury indicts longtime Trump confidante and professional lunatic Roger Stone on a number of charges, including that he threatened to kidnap another witness’s therapy dog, Bianca (really).

Abroad, Britain is in turmoil over “Brexit,” which is a very important thing we should all endeavor to learn about.

In sports, the Los Angeles Rams win the National Football Conference championship game after the referees, on a critical play, fail to notice when a Rams defensive back attacks a New Orleans Saints receiver with a chain saw. Responding to the ensuing outrage, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he will “conduct a thorough review of league policy regarding power tools,” adding that “New England is scheduled to win the Super Bowl anyway.”

In other sports news, the Clemson football team defeats Alabama to win the college national championship and is rewarded with an invite to the White House for a classy shindig. “I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders,” tweets the president, who by his own admission has a genius-level IQ.

Speaking of intelligence: The burning question of whether the nation is capable of producing a social media craze even stupider than last year’s Tide Pod Challenge — in which YouTube dimwits sought to impress other YouTube dimwits by eating compressed laundry detergent — is answered in the affirmative (“yes”) when Netflix is forced to issue a cautionary tweet to people who are inspired by the movie “Birdbox” to take the Birdbox Challenge, in which YouTube dimwits engage in everyday activities — including driving — while blindfolded. Meanwhile, as a polar vortex grips the nation, other YouTube dimwits are injuring themselves attempting to demonstrate that it is cold outside by flinging pots of boiling water into the air.

From somewhere beyond our solar system hostile aliens are monitoring all this and concluding that they need not waste energy exterminating humanity, as we’re doing fine on our own.

Speaking of hostile, in …


… President Trump, despite suffering from bone spurs, goes to Vietnam for a second summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. After a one-on-one closed-room meeting, the two leaders agree via hand gestures that next time they should definitely bring interpreters.

In domestic politics, Virginia is rocked by a series of scandals involving elected Democratic state officials, originating with the publication of a 1984 photo from Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical-school yearbook showing a man in blackface. Northam initially says he is “deeply sorry” for appearing in the photo; the next day, however, he calls a news conference to declare that he does not believe he is in the photo, although he does recall one time that he was in blackface, that being when he entered a dance contest dressed as Michael Jackson and did the moonwalk. Northam further asserts that he won the contest, and at the request of a reporter appears to be on the verge of demonstrating to the press corps that he can still moonwalk, only to be stopped by his wife. We are not making any of this up.

As pressure builds on Northam to resign, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax prepares to succeed him, only to become embroiled in a scandal of his own when he is accused of sexual assault. The third person in line is Attorney General Mark Herring, who, several days after calling on Northam to resign for wearing blackface, issues a statement admitting that as a college student he wore blackface when he went to a party as rapper Kurtis Blow. We are still not making this up.

At this point Virginia’s political leaders realize that if they keep moving down the chain of succession they’re going to wind up with a Labrador retriever as governor or, worse, a Republican. And just like that the Great Virginia Scandals Scandal of 2019 goes “poof.”

Winter storms blast the Midwest, causing havoc in Iowa as snowdrifts close major highways and strand hundreds of Democratic presidential contenders in rural communities with limited supplies of voters. In one harrowing incident, a farmer and his family are trapped inside their home for six hours while Cory Booker pounds on the front door, demanding to be let in so he can outline his plan to reduce income inequality. “We tried to escape by the back door,” the farmer later tells reporters, “but Amy Klobuchar was waiting out there with a seven-point program to rebuild America’s infrastructure.”

In business news, Amazon (whose CEO, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post) cancels plans to build a huge corporate campus in New York City, citing local political opposition and the fact that Amazon’s vice president for business development, during a visit to the site in Queens, was carried off by what a company spokesperson described as “a rat the size of a Volkswagen Jetta.”

Abroad, “Brexit” continues to be a very important thing with many significant developments.

In sports, the New England Patriots, led by 63-year-old Tom Brady, defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, in a Super Bowl featuring one touchdown and 14 punts. During the national anthem, TV cameras clearly capture Patriots coach Bill Belichick pouring liquid from a bottle labeled “SEDATIVES” into the Rams’ Gatorade, but the NFL referee crew fails to notice. Asked about this after the game, Commissioner Roger Goodell says, “To be honest, I was watching Netflix.”

Several weeks after the Super Bowl, Patriots owner Robert Kraft is charged in connection with a police sting operation in Florida at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa (motto: “Where Your ‘Day’ Lasts About 90 Seconds”). Kraft will ultimately avoid jail time after his lawyers convince a judge that he is in the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia.

At the 91st Academy Awards, the Oscar for best picture is awarded to “Goodfellas,” which came out in 1990 but never should have lost to “Dances With Wolves.”

Speaking of being overdue, in …


… Robert Mueller finally delivers his report to Attorney General William Barr, who promises to release it to the public “as soon as we have blacked out the sex parts.” The cable news networks prepare for the release by bringing in panels of distinguished legal authorities to declare that the report means exactly the opposite of whatever the distinguished legal panels on the enemy networks are declaring it means.

In other political developments, President Trump, faced with mounting hostility from congressional Democrats, spends several days vigorously attacking ... John McCain. For the record, McCain (A) was a Republican and (B) died in 2018. Nobody can say for certain whether the president (A) is playing some kind of four-dimensional political chess or (B) has the reasoning skills of a Chihuahua on meth.

The Iowa state legislature considers a bill that would fund construction of a border wall around the state to stop the influx of Democratic presidential hopefuls, now estimated at several dozen a day. “It’s a humanitarian crisis,” says one legislator, his voice rising in alarm. “They’re swarming all over the state, barging into pancake breakfasts. Many of them die within days from pancake bloat, but THEY JUST KEEP COMING.”

Abroad, “Brexit” continues to be a matter of grave concern, and for good reason.

The higher education community is rocked by scandal when federal prosecutors charge 50 people, including test administrators, wealthy parents and college coaches, in connection with a widespread bribery and fraud scheme to get students admitted to some of the nation’s most prestigious universities. In one particularly egregious case, Yale admitted Trevor Buncombe-Plotzner IV, who supposedly was recruited to play varsity badminton, despite the facts that (A) Yale does not have a varsity badminton team and (B) Trevor is a cat.

In an official statement, the Association of College Admissions Officers says: “Bribing coaches to get unqualified applicants admitted is completely unacceptable. The correct way is to give a large sum of money directly to the college.”

In a controversial legal development, actor Jussie Smollett, who was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself, has all charges droppedby Chicago prosecutors following a review of the evidence by an NFL officiating crew.

Speaking of legal matters, in …


… Attorney General Barr finally releases the Mueller report, which accomplishes two things:

⋅ It finally settles, to everyone’s satisfaction, all of the controversies surrounding the 2016 presidential election.

⋅ It proves that oysters speak German and can play the trombone.

Just kidding! In fact the Mueller report does neither of these things, although it comes closer to the second accomplishment than the first. The pro-Trump people say the report proves there was no collusion; the anti-Trump people say it proves Trump obstructed justice, which means that it is, at last, IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY. Both sides emit thousands of impassioned tweets, which go unread by the American public, which long ago moved on to “Game of Thrones.”

In other political news, Joe Biden launches his estimated 17th presidential campaign, with the slogan: “Let Uncle Joe Give You a Great Big Hug.” Biden immediately becomes the leader of the crowded Democratic field based on the fact that his name sounds vaguely familiar.

As millions of people around the world watch in shock and disbelief, the iconic Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is ravaged by flames after being struck, in what appears to be a deliberate act of provocation, by a North Korean missile.

Elsewhere abroad, “Brexit” continues to be a vitally important thing.

In science news, some astronomers at a party, after several rounds of tequila shots, take a blurry snapshot of a flaming gas-stove burner and release it to the news media, claiming that it’s the first-ever photograph of a black hole. The photo instantly becomes worldwide news, much to the delight of the astro-pranksters, who begin work on a plan to pass off a dental X-ray as the Loch Ness Monster.

In golf, Tiger Woods wins his fifth Masters tournament, catching and passing leader Francesco Molinari after two of Molinari’s shots — on the 12th hole and then again on the 15th — hit NFL referee crews that have strayed onto the fairway.

In entertainment news, “Avengers: Endgame” breaks box office records, proving that now, more than ever, people crave stories about time-traveling superheroes using magic stones to defeat a genocidal intergalactic warlord with no neck.

Speaking of long-running dramas, in …


… Robert Mueller resigns as special counsel, saying that he plans to return to private life and “whimper in the fetal position.” In his final statement, he clears up any lingering confusion about his investigation by noting that the Justice Department cannot charge the president with a federal crime, adding, “not that I am, or am not, saying, or not saying, that the president did, or did not, do anything that was, or was not, illegal. Or, not.”

Congressional Democrats, firm in their belief that the American public wants nothing more than to continue refighting the 2016 election until the Earth crashes into the sun, take Mueller’s statement as a call for IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY.

For his part, Trump emits a tweet stating, quote: “Russia, Russia, Russia! That’s all you heard at the beginning of this Witch Hunt Hoax…And now Russia has disappeared because I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.” This wording seems to suggest that the president thinks Russia helped him to get elected, so a short while later he clarifies his position by telling reporters, “No, Russia did not help me get elected.” And thus the matter is finally laid to rest.

In sports, the Kentucky Derby is won by Country House after the apparent winner, Maximum Security, is disqualified for trampling an NFL officiating crew on the backstretch.

As far as we are aware, none of this has anything to do with “Brexit.”

On the domestic political front, disgraced former New York Congresscreep Anthony Weiner is released from a halfway house and, in a sincere display of remorse, announces that he is running for president.

Just kidding! In fact Weiner is one of the estimated four Democrats not running for president. Among those entering the race is New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, having solved all of his city’s problems, announces that he is running under the campaign slogan “This Slogan Is Currently Out of Order.” De Blasio heads for Iowa, where he quickly surges to 13,357th in the Des Moines Register/CNN poll, just behind swine dysentery.

In sports, the Kentucky Derby is won by Country House after the apparent winner, Maximum Security, is disqualified for trampling an NFL officiating crew on the backstretch.

Speaking of violence, in …


… tensions in the Mideast, which have been escalating for over 3,000 years, escalate still further when Iran attacks two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, then shoots down a U.S. spy drone. In retaliation, President Trump orders a military strike against Iran, only to call it off at the last minute when he is advised that it could result in serious damage to a golf course.

In other presidential action, Trump travels to England, where, in his role as leader of the United States on an official visit to America’s greatest ally at a critical time, he attacks ... Bette Midler. In a tweet emitted at 1:30 a.m. London time, the president describes Ms. Midler as a “Washed up psycho.” Fox News confirms this.

Later in the month Trump becomes the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea, where he and Kim Jong Un engage in denuclearization talks, capped off with a ceremonial Prisoner Shoot.

This seems like a good place to mention “Brexit.”

Meanwhile as the 2020 U.S. presidential race heats up, several hundred Democratic presidential contenders gather in Miami for the first major debates. The front-runner is Joe Biden, but he suffers a setback when Sen. Kamala Harris, in what is clearly a planned attack, points out that Biden is wearing his pants backward. Biden’s staff hastily releases a statement explaining that the former vice president “thought it was Friday.” Also getting a lot of attention is Marianne Williamson, who qualifies for the debates based on the number of campaign donations she received from other dimensions.

For his part, President Trump launches his 2020 reelection bid with a rally in Orlando attended by 246 million people, as confirmed by Fox News.

In entertainment news, James Holzhauer’s record-breaking victory streak on “Jeopardy!” finally comes to an end when, in the Final Jeopardy round, he is flagged for a face mask violation by an NFL officiating crew.

San Francisco, always on the forefront, becomes the first U.S. city to ban exhaling, which according to scientists is a leading cause of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile the city of Riviera Beach, Fla., pays nearly $600,000 in bitcoin to hackers who paralyzed the city’s computer system by attacking it with “ransomware,” which is sort of like a Windows update except that at least there’s somebody who knows how to fix it.

Speaking of Internet menaces, in …


… President Trump, having dealt with the existential threat to the nation that is Bette Midler, turns his attention to four Democratic first-term members of Congress known as “The Squad,” tweeting that if they hate America so much they should “go back” to where they come from. Critics note that three of the four were born in the very same nation as Trump, not to mention the fact that the “go back” thing is an old racist taunt, leaving the president with no decent course of action but to issue an apology. So of course that is not what he does. What he does is tweet additional criticisms of The Squad, along with the assertion that “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” (The exclamation mark proves it’s true!)

The president also finds time in his busy July schedule to issue tweets attacking — among other targets — Baltimore, the Federal Reserve, the mayor of San Juan, CNN, the mayor of London, Paul Ryan, Fox News (!) and Sweden, but if we’re going to go into detail on every single one of the president’s Twitter beefs we will never get through this year. Suffice it to say that the Resistance is so frantically busy refuting Trump tweets — this being the activity that consumes 99.9 percent of the Resistance’s time and mental energy — that toward the end of the month prominent Democrats find themselves reflexively defending the integrity and moral righteousness of Al Sharpton.

In other political news, an exhausted-looking Robert Mueller makes his 237th appearance before the House Kabuki Theater Committee, and the entire nation tunes in, except for those parts of the nation located outside of Washington, D.C. Mueller says little that is new, generally limiting his answers to “yes,” “no” and, when an aide pokes him awake, “ouch.” Under questioning, Mueller seems surprisingly unfamiliar with his own team’s report, at one point stating, in response to a question, that he had never heard of any “Vladimir Putin.”

Trump declares that the hearing proves the whole investigation was a WITCH HUNT! Congressional Democrats say it proves that it is IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY. Bears continue to poop in the woods.

In the second round of Democratic debates, front-runner Joe Biden is still the main target of the other candidates, but he does a better job of defending himself, delivering several well-crafted retorts written in Sharpie on his forearms.

In federal action, White House and congressional negotiators set side their mutual loathing long enough to agree on a bipartisan budget deal that will enable the government to continue spending insane amounts of money that it does not have. Thus the pesky problem of uncontrolled federal spending is disposed of until after the 2020 election, freeing our leaders to focus on more pressing issues, and of course tweet about them.

Abroad, a person named “Boris,” who apparently styles his hair with a commercial leaf blower, becomes prime minister of England, a development that very likely could have something to do with “Brexit.”

On the escalating Middle East tension front, the United States says it shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz. In response, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations claims he will produce documentation proving that “Strait of Hormuz” can be rearranged to spell “Him Fart Zoo Rust.”

In sports, the superb U.S. women’s national soccer team, following years of hard work and sacrifice, wins its fourth World Cup and a first prize of $4 million, or about $200,000 per player. Later in the month, a 16-year-old high school student named Kyle Giersdorf wins a Fortnite video-game tournament. His prize — really — is $3 million. “I’m so happy,” says Kyle. “Everything I’ve done in the grind has all paid off and it’s just insane.”

It is, Kyle. It really is.

The news turns grim in …


… when the nation is shocked by two horrific mass shootings, which spur a Serious National Conversation about gun violence, in which sincere and committed individuals on both sides — at long last — openly and honestly talk to people on their own side about how stupid and evil everybody on the other side is. This goes on for several days, after which the shootings drift out of the news until it’s time for the next Serious National Conversation.

Conspiracy theories swirl in the wake of the death of millionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly committed suicide in a New York City federal prison cell despite supposedly being under the close supervision of an NFL officiating crew.

In financial news, the Dow Jones industrial average flits up and down like a butterfly on meth as investors try to figure out what President Trump’s mood is at any given minute regarding the trade war with China, which is caused by China unfairly forcing U.S. consumers to buy low-cost Chinese-made electronics instead of traditional American brands such as Philco. The president’s main strategy in fighting this war is to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, which means U.S. consumers have to pay more for them. Take THAT, China!

Another bee buzzing around in the presidential bonnet during August is Greenland, which Trump decides the United States should try to purchase, since it has a strategic location and is potentially the source of more than 70 percent of the world’s supply of frostbite. It turns out, however, that Greenland belongs to Denmark, which for some reason wants to keep it. “We’re not for sale,” states Greenland’s minister of education, culture, church and foreign affairs, whose name — we are not making this up — is Ane Lone Bagger.

It is not immediately clear where Ane Lone Bagger stands on “Brexit.”

Meanwhile the American Midwest faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis as Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota struggle to absorb waves of Iowans fleeing the worsening disaster in their home state, which is overrun with Democratic presidential contenders demonstrating their likability by eating fried things on sticks. Joe Biden remains the front-runner in Iowa despite the fact that, to judge from his remarks at campaign events, he believes he is in Belgium.

In other August news, Popeyes introduces a chicken sandwich to compete with Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich. Also there are massive pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and the Amazon rainforest is burning, but the Battle of the Chicken Sandwiches definitely generates more excitement.

Speaking of excitement …


… begins with President Trump facing a major crisis involving the crucial issue of whether Alabama was, or was not, ever actually threatened by Hurricane Dorian. The crisis erupts on Sept. 1, when, with Dorian moving toward the U.S. mainland, the president tweets that Alabama is among the states that will “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Minutes later the National Weather Service in Birmingham responds with a statement that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian.”

At this point the president acknowledges that he made a minor mistake, thus laying the issue to rest and freeing everyone to focus on more important matters.

Ha-ha! That would never happen. Donald Trump did not get where he is by allowing himself to be corrected about the weather by any so-called “National Weather Service.” The president mounts an intensive, multi-day, multi-tweet offensive on the Alabama issue, highlighted by an Oval Office meeting with reporters during which he displays a week-old National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map proving conclusively that Alabama was in fact threatened by a black line that was obviously added to the map by an inept amateur with a Sharpie.

The crisis continues for several more days, with the president refusing to back down or drop the subject, very much the way Winston Churchill, in the darkest hours of World War II, stood firm when England, alone, faced the menacing forces of the National Weather Service.

Bill de Blasio drops out of the Democratic presidential race, bitterly disappointing the residents of New York when they learn that Bill plans to resume mayoring them.

Speaking of dire threats: CNN’s special seven-hour “town hall” broadcast on the global climate crisis attracts a nationwide audience estimated at nearly 30 viewers, counting household pets. Ten Democratic presidential candidates present their plans for saving the planet, which include strictly regulating or banning fossil fuels, nuclear power, red meat, plastic straws, fracking, white meat, cars, lightbulbs, barbecues, capitalism, farting, grayish meat, babies and airplane flights that are not transporting Democratic presidential candidates. The highlight of the night comes when Joe Biden develops a weird red eyeball as a result of being hit by a tranquilizer dart fired by his staff to prevent him from suddenly hugging a CNN moderator. This debate is followed by another debate later in the month. Or maybe it was the same debate, and we all fell asleep for a while in the middle. There is no way to tell.

Bill de Blasio drops out of the Democratic presidential race, bitterly disappointing the residents of New York when they learn that Bill plans to resume mayoring them.

In international news (we are counting Canada as a foreign country) Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau is embarrassed by the publication of yet another photograph— this is the third time — of him wearing blackface. The good news for Justin is that this moves him up to fourth in the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia.

Meanwhile in Great Britain, “Brexit” continues to cause everybody over there to be quite agitated, for British people.

As September draws to a close, President Trump finds himself facing what could prove to be his biggest single crisis of the entire month when a whistleblower accuses him of improperly pressuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a July phone call to investigate Joe Biden and Joe’s son Hunter’s connections with a Ukrainian energy company, which at one point was paying Hunter $50,000 a month, apparently for his expertise in the field of receiving large sums of money.

In a surprise move, Trump orders the release of a rough transcript of the call, which proves conclusively whatever you want it to prove depending on whether you are on Side A or Side B. Congressional Democrats declare that it is a Smoking Gun, which means that, at last, it is IMPEACHMENT TIME, BABY, AND THIS TIME WE REALLY MEAN IT. Trump declares that this is just another WITCH HUNT and emits an unusually high volume of tweets in which he sounds increasingly like a derelict arguing with himself in an alley next to a convenience store, but not as coherent.

While all this is happening the U.S. budget deficit approaches $1 trillion, but everybody in Washington is way too excited about the Impeachment Drama to even think about it.

The excitement continues in …


... when Washington whips itself into a frenzy the likes of which it experiences only once every two or three weeks as a consensus begins to develop among the courageous Resisters of the Resistance that it really is DEFINITELY ALMOST NEARLY IMPEACHMENT TIME AND WE ARE REALLY NOT FOOLING AROUND ANYMORE. The Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, a man who — this is merely an observation, not a criticism — would not look out of place popping up from a prairie-dog hole, accuse Trump of breaking the law in the Ukraine phone call, while Trump defenders insist that technically there was no quid pro quo, in the same sense that, in “The Godfather,” the severed horse’s head in the movie producer’s bed was technically not a threat.

The president’s defense strategy is to tweet several times per hour, sometimes with most of the words correctly spelled, that the call was PERFECT and everyone should READ THE TRANSCRIPT! Apparently he is unaware that everyone already did. Along the way the president reaches a historic milestone, sending out his 11,000th tweet as president, eclipsing the record held by Grover Cleveland.

For the Democrats, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that Trump’s poll numbers are down. The bad news is that the Democrats are ... the Democrats. Their front-runner, Joe Biden, continues to struggle on the campaign trail, as exemplified by an appearance at a 7-Eleven store in Waterloo, Iowa, during which he addresses the Slurpee machine as “your excellency.”

Poised to eclipse Biden is Elizabeth Warren (campaign slogan: “She Is MUCH Smarter Than You”) with her Medicare-for-all plan, which she says will cost $20.5 trillion, with the “.5” proving that she has this thing figured out right down to the penny. Warren says her plan will not raise taxes on the middle class because all the money will come from greedy corporations, greedy billionaires, greedy gold-pooping unicorns and various cost efficiencies, which of course is what the federal government is famous for.

In foreign affairs, Trump surprises everybody, possibly including himself, by suddenly pulling U.S. troops out of Syria, thus throwing the region into even more turmoil than usual, which is a lot of turmoil. During the confusion, U.S. forces conduct a daring raid that results in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, thus removing him from the line of succession for the governorship of Virginia. And of course no discussion of foreign affairs would be complete without some mention of “Brexit.”

Meanwhile California, plagued by out-of-control wildfires, widespread power blackouts, spiraling housing costs, decaying infrastructure and a worsening homelessness epidemic, becomes the first state to enact a law banning the sale of fur products.

In sports, Simone Biles becomes the first gymnast to perform a floor routine that requires clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration. In another “feel good” sports story, the New York Yankees, with by far the highest payroll in baseball, complete an entire decade without even getting into the World Series. Meanwhile concern mounts over the state of NFL officiating after a Lions-Packers game in which, late in the fourth quarter, the teams play two consecutive downs without a single penalty being called. “It won’t happen again,” vows Commissioner Goodell.

Speaking of mounting concern, in …


… it is finally IMPEACHMENT TIME FOR REAL, ALMOST, as the House Committee on Endless Squabbling holds a classic congressional hearingpalooza featuring Bombshell Testimony, Gaveling, Points of Order, Yielding of Time, False Civility, Really Long Questions That Are Not Actually Questions and all the other elements that would make for riveting drama if everybody on the planet didn’t already know the outcome, specifically that the Democrats would conclude that the president committed impeachable offenses, and the Republicans would conclude that he didn’t. When it’s all over, the public remains divided exactly as it was between the people who loathe Trump and the people who loathe the people who loathe Trump. Meanwhile bears continue to etc.

There is one positive impeachment-related development, which occurs when Rep. Eric Swalwell, appearing on MSNBC, makes the following statement: “So far the evidence is uncontradicted that the president used taxpayer dollars to help him cheat [GIANT FART SOUND] an election.” This results in several days of spirited debate on Twitter concerning the issue of whether Swalwell cut the cheese (he denies it) with people of all political persuasions weighing in on #fartgate in the closest thing we have had to a genuinely open-minded national conversation in years.

Conan, a Belgian Malinois who was injured in the Delta Force raid that resulted in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is invited to the White House, where President Trump, in recognition of the heroic dog’s service to the nation, appoints himsecretary of the Navy.

In other political news, Mike Bloomberg joins the Democratic presidential field, declaring that “what America needs, now more than ever, is a rich, aging, white male New Yorker with a huge ego.”

On the economic front, Popeyes resumes production of chicken sandwiches, and consumers resume assaulting one another over them, because if a $3.99 wad of heavily breaded chicken on a bun is not worth getting injured or even killed over, then what is?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces an all-electric “Cybertruck” featuring sophisticated technology and a striking resemblan

Surly Newz / The War on Dissent
« on: November 20, 2019, 05:59:20 AM »
Arrest of Gov’t Critic and Journalist Max Blumenthal Signals Escalation in War on Alternative Media
The SWAT-style raid on the home of government critic and journalist Max Blumenthal signals a new level of escalation in the US government’s war on dissent.

by Alan Macleod

Max Blumenthal, the editor of independent media outlet The Grayzone, was secretly arrested on October 25 in a “SWAT-style” morning raid on his Washington D.C. home. He was held in D.C. Central Detention Facility for two days incommunicado, without the ability to communicate to the outside world, having been refused a phone call. He claims to have been shackled by his hands and ankles for some time and kept in a series of cages and cells. Blumenthal was arrested on a five-month-old assault charge stemming from an incident that took place during the D.C. Venezuelan Embassy siege.

A Venezuelan opposition supporter, Naylet Pacheco, claims that Blumenthal kicked her in the stomach several times during a conflict between the embassy protectors and supporters of opposition leader Juan Guaído, who proclaimed himself President of Venezuela in January. At the time of the incident, The Grayzone was publishing a series of investigative reports and newsupdates that contradicted the Trump administration’s narrative, noting how much of the supposedly grassroots uprising, was, in fact, funded by Washington and exposing the corruption and violent tactics of opposition members. The warrant for the charge had initially been rejected. It was, however, revived later without Blumenthal’s knowledge.

“If the government had at least told me I had a warrant I could have voluntarily surrendered and appeared at my own arrangement. I have nothing to fear because I’m completely innocent of this bogus charge,” he said. “Instead, the federal government essentially enlisted the DC police to SWAT me, ensuring that I would be subjected to an early morning raid and then languish in prison for days without even the ability to call an attorney.” 

A War on Dissent

When asked for comment, political comedian and TV show host Lee Camp told MintPress Newsthat this was the latest example of the government trying to silence dissenting opinion and controlling the media:

“This is the continued descent into a fascist state. When the US government is arresting journalists in dramatic fashion clearly because their reporting is threatening to the power elite, then what else can one call it?”

Corporate media largely applauded U.S.-backed regime change efforts in Venezuela, refusing to even call them a “coup” and instead preferring to frame them as a people’s “uprising,” taking the same line as the Trump administration that they claim to “resist.” Many of those same media outlets have also begun to partner with the government in a stated effort to fight fake news. The primary consequence of which has been to undermine and reduce the reach of alternative media, a vital counterweight to the corporate message. In response to a call to armsin the Washington Post, algorithm changes to Facebook, Google, YouTube, Bing, and others have led to independent news sites being de-ranked, disincentivized, and sometimes, deleted.

Despite his ordeal, Blumenthal has still been treated better than others who ran afoul of the U.S. government. Chelsea Manning is still held in prison, Edward Snowden is in exile, while Julian Assange, whose condition in solitary confinement is deteriorating, faces a highly uncertain future. On Assange, mainstream media largely applauded his April arrest, describing it as a “long overdue” (Washington Post) and “satisfying” (Saturday Night Live) detention of an “anti-American” (National Review) “narcissistic” (Washington Post) “Internet Troll” with an “outsized view of his own importance” (the Times) leaving his “voluntary confinement” (theDaily Beast) to finally “face justice” (Daily Mail) for his “indisputable crime” (New York Times). 


The Embassy Siege

The Trump administration refused to recognize the results of the May 2018 elections that awarded Nicolás Maduro another term in office. Instead, it announced its support for self-appointed President Juan Guaído as the rightful head of Venezuela. This, despite the fact that Guaído has never stood for the office and that over 80 percent of the country didn’t even know who he was. Following Guaído’s self-declaration of his presidency, the Trump administration demanded that all Venezuelan diplomats leave the United States, so those in Venezuela’s Washington D.C. embassy formally invited peace activists to enter and protect the integrity of the building.

Just as Guaído attempted to take the presidential palace in a coup attempt in April, supporters of the far-right anti-President tried to storm the Venezuelan embassy in D.C., an event closely covered by The Grayzone, and by MintPress News’ Alex Rubenstein, who was amongst those invited to protect the building. Rubenstein detailed how the attackers attempted siege and intimidation tactics to the embassy protectors out and enjoyed the tacit support of the local security services, who refused to protect the embassy’s territorial integrity, a serious diplomatic violation.

Read the rest of the article, including embedded tweets, here:

History / When America Tried to Deport Its Radicals
« on: November 05, 2019, 05:35:04 PM »
When America Tried to Deport Its Radicals
A hundred years ago, the Palmer Raids imperilled thousands of immigrants. Then a wily official got in the way.

Adam Hochschild  November 11, 2019 Issue

The Palmer Raids sought not just to round up “subversives” but to expel them.

Illustration by Anthony Russo
On a winter night a hundred years ago, Ellis Island, the twenty-seven-acre patch of land in New York Harbor that had been the gateway to America for millions of hopeful immigrants, was playing the opposite role. It had been turned into a prison for several hundred men, and a few women, most of whom had arrived in handcuffs and shackles. They were about to be shipped across the Atlantic, in the country’s first mass deportation of political dissidents in the twentieth century.

Before dawn on December 21, 1919, the prisoners were roused from their bunks to be packed onto a barge and transported to a waiting vessel, the Buford, which was berthed in Brooklyn. The Buford was an elderly, decrepit troopship, known by sailors as a heavy “roller” in rough seas. One of the two hundred and forty-nine people who were deported that day, Ivan Novikov, described the scene in the island prison: “It was noisy and the room was full of smoke. Everybody knew already that we are going to be sent out. . . . Many with tears in their eyes were writing telegrams and letters.” Many “were in the literal sense of the word without clothes or shoes,” he went on. “There was no laughter.” Then, as now, deportations severed families: “One left a mother, the other a wife and son, one a sweetheart.”

At 4 A.M., with the temperature in the twenties, shouting guards ordered the captives outside, where a gangplank led to the barge and an attached tugboat. “Deep snow lay on the ground; the air was cut by a biting wind,” wrote that day’s most famous victim of what she called “deportation mania,” the Russian-born anarchist and feminist firebrand Emma Goldman. “A row of armed civilians and soldiers stood along the road. . . . One by one the deportees marched, flanked on each side by the uniformed men, curses and threats accompanying the thud of their feet on the frozen ground.”

The mass expulsion was so important to the U.S. government that, despite the hour, a delegation from Washington joined the deportees on the trip across the harbor to the Buford. The group included several members of Congress, most notably Representative Albert Johnson, of Washington State, who was the chair of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization as well as an outspoken anti-Semite, a Ku Klux Klan favorite, and an ardent opponent of immigration. Shepherding the party was a dark-haired, twenty-four-year-old Justice Department official who was quietly respectful toward the dignitaries he was with but who would, before long, wield far more power than any of them: J. Edgar Hoover.

Hoover had met Goldman some weeks earlier, in the courtroom where he made the case for her deportation. Now one of the great American radicals of her day and the man who would become the country’s premier hunter of such dissidents encountered each other one last time, in the galley of the tugboat. She was fifty, more than twice his age, but they were of similar stature, and would have stood nearly eye to eye, with Goldman looking at Hoover through her pince-nez. One admirer described her as having “a stocky figure like a peasant woman, a face of fierce strength like a female pugilist.” Hoover had won this particular match, but, according to a congressman who witnessed the exchange, she got in one last jab.

“Haven’t I given you a square deal, Miss Goldman?” Hoover asked, as they steamed toward Brooklyn in the darkness.

“Oh, I suppose you’ve given me as square a deal as you could,” she replied, two hours away from being ejected from the country where she had lived for thirty-four years and found the voice that had won her admirers around the world. “We shouldn’t expect from any person something beyond his capacity.”

That morning’s mass deportation had been preceded by a crescendo of anti-immigrant rhetoric that will sound distinctly familiar today. “The surest way to preserve the public against those disciples of destruction,” Thomas Edward Campbell, the governor of Arizona, told a conference of newspaper editors on February 22, 1919, “is to send them back forthwith to lands from which they came.” And if native-born Americans were acting un-American, why not deport them, too? Senator Kenneth McKellar, of Tennessee, suggested that they “be deported permanently to the Island of Guam.”

And why not go one step further and strip objectionable people of U.S. citizenship, to make them more deportable? In 1919, alarmed by the growing presence of “peoples of Asiatic races,” the Anti-Alien League called for a constitutional amendment “to restrict citizenship by birth within the United States to the children of parents who are of a race which is eligible for citizenship”—i.e., whites. Senator Wesley Jones, of Washington State, promised to introduce such a measure—a proposal not unlike today’s calls to end birthright citizenship. That May, a cheering convention of the American Legion demanded the deportation not only of immigrants who evaded military service during the First World War but of any men who evaded service.

What made high-ranking government officials so passionate about deportations that they would get up in the middle of the night to ride through freezing wind across New York Harbor? One factor was the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in November, 1917, which political and corporate leaders feared might incite militant labor unionists in the U.S., who had already shaken the country with a stormy, decade-long wave of strikes. Lenin had written a “Letter to American Workingmen” declaring “the inevitability of the international revolution.” Postwar economic turmoil promised to make the country more vulnerable than ever to radical doctrines.

For these officials, the most worrisome left-wing group was the Industrial Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies. The I.W.W. had more flash than breadth—the number of members probably never exceeded a hundred thousand—but the Wobblies caught the public imagination with their colorful posters, stirring songs, and flair for drama.

The Justice Department began a nationwide crackdown in September, 1917, raiding all four dozen I.W.W. offices and the homes of many activists. In sealed boxcars, Wobblies from around the country were brought to Chicago’s Cook County Jail. When they received news of the Bolshevik takeover in St. Petersburg, they celebrated by singing and banging tin cups on their cell bars. A hundred and one leading Wobblies were charged with violating a long list of federal laws as part of a mass trial—still the largest in American history—that ran through the spring and summer of 1918. The jury took a mere fifty-five minutes to render its verdict, finding all the defendants guilty on all counts. They were sentenced to an average of eight years in prison. Tons of I.W.W. records, which the Justice Department had seized in the raids, were later burned.

Fear of bolshevism blended with a long-standing hostility toward certain classes of immigrants. By 1890, those coming ashore at Ellis Island were no longer from places like Britain and Germany; the great bulk were now from Italy, Eastern Europe, or the Russian Empire, and they were Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Jewish. There were a lot of them, too: by 1900, the majority of men in Manhattan over the age of twenty-one were foreign-born.

Many Americans shared the resentment voiced in a book published in 1902: “Throughout the [nineteenth] century men of the sturdy stocks of the north of Europe had made up the main strain of foreign blood which was every year added to the vital working force of the country . . . but now there came multitudes of men of the lowest class from the south of Italy and men of the meaner sort out of Hungary and Poland, men out of the ranks where there was neither skill nor energy nor any initiative of quick intelligence; and they came in numbers which increased from year to year, as if the countries of the south of Europe were disburdening themselves of the more sordid and hapless elements of their population.” The writer of these words was a young Princeton professor, who, a decade later, would become the President of the United States: Woodrow Wilson.

His feelings were echoed widely among the American establishment. The Massachusetts senator Henry Cabot Lodge was a prominent political enemy of the President’s, but he completely shared Wilson’s attitude on this score. In a speech to the Senate about the need to restrict “undesirable immigrants” who came from the “races” he found “most alien,” he invoked Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s poem “Unguarded Gates,” which compared such people to the “thronging Goth and Vandal [who] trampled Rome.” For Lodge and others anxious to restrict immigration, Eastern European Jews were definitely among the undesirables. The historian Henry Adams, a friend of Lodge’s, declared that “the Jew makes me creep” and wrote of a “furtive Yacoob or Ysaac still reeking of the Ghetto, snarling a weird Yiddish.” The novelist Henry James was disgusted by the people he saw “swarming” on New York’s heavily Jewish Lower East Side, who reminded him of “small, strange animals . . . snakes or worms.”

These immigrant swarms, politicians claimed, were not just unseemly; with their affinity for radical movements, they were a threat to national security. Many leftists, like Goldman, were Jewish, and the most violent anarchists were largely Italian-American. In June, 1919, one of them managed to blow himself up as he was planting a bomb at the Washington, D.C., home of Wilson’s Attorney General, A. Mitchell Palmer, and among the items he left at the scene was an Italian-English dictionary. The Socialist Party had a high proportion of foreign-born members, and the pro-Socialist press included newspapers like New York’s Robotnik Polski and Chicago’s Parola Proletaria.

The tenor of the deportation frenzy was heightened by the upcoming 1920 Presidential election. Several of those hoping to succeed Wilson saw great potential in promising to deport troublemakers. A leading Republican contender was Major General Leonard Wood, a dashing hero of the Indian Wars and a former Rough Rider, who captured headlines in 1919 for leading military forces against strikes and race riots in the Midwest, and who at one point put Gary, Indiana, under martial law. “Deport these so-called Americans who preach treason,” he told an audience in Kansas City.

Another Republican candidate, the president of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler, said in a speech, “Today, we hear the hiss of a snake in the grass, and the hiss is directed at the things Americans hold most dear.” He called for deporting “Reds” to the Philippines. The Republican senator Miles Poindexter, of Washington State, also eying the Presidential nomination, called on the government “to deport every alien Bolshevist and to punish rather than protect those who practice their savage creed in this country.” Poindexter suggested that Attorney General Palmer was pursuing the deportation of these savages with insufficient vigor: “The government had positively refused in many cases to allow them to go.”

But Palmer, a Democrat, had his own hopes for the Presidency. An imposing-looking man with a shock of gray hair who wore three-piece suits crossed by a watch chain, he was not about to let anyone outflank him in enthusiasm for deportations. And, unlike the out-of-power Republicans, he had the authority to back up his words. Raised as a Quaker, Palmer had declined the position of Secretary of War, when Wilson had offered it, in 1913, but, when he accepted an appointment as Attorney General, in 1919, his faith did not prevent him from waging a kind of domestic war the likes of which the United States has seldom seen.

The bombing of Palmer’s house, which was clearly intended to kill him, his wife, and their ten-year-old daughter, understandably left him terrified. Eight other bombs went off the same night, mostly at the homes of prominent politicians or judges. Some five weeks earlier, a mail bomb had exploded in the home of a former U.S. senator from Georgia, blowing off the hands of his maid, and thirty-five additional mail bombs addressed to Cabinet members, judges, and business moguls were intercepted before they could go off.

Immediately after the spate of bombings, Palmer founded the Radical Division of the Justice Department to track subversive activities of all kinds, and he put J. Edgar Hoover in charge. This post, as Kenneth D. Ackerman shows in his biography “Young J. Edgar,” was a key step on this precocious man’s path to power. Hoover, during an earlier job at the Library of Congress, had come to love the great information-management technology of the day: file cards. Within two and a half years in his new job, he would amass a database of four hundred and fifty thousand cards on people and organizations, carefully linking them to documents in the Radical Division’s files.

To those in power, signs of a simmering revolution were everywhere. Two rival Communist parties each promised to reproduce on American soil the Bolshevik takeover. In 1919, amid the largest strike wave in U.S. history, one in five workers walked off the job—everyone from telephone operators to stage actors. An unprecedented general strike briefly brought Seattle to a halt. In September of that year, most Boston police officers went on strike. If even those sworn to defend law and order were in rebellion, what could come next? Senator Henry Myers, of Montana, warned that if America did not hold firm it would “see a Soviet government set up within two years.”

“Remember, fall is just one of many reasons you shouldn’t leave your mother to go live in California.”Cartoon by Kendra Allenby
At the same time, agents provocateurs played a significant role in the turbulence. Many came from the ranks of private detectives; the three biggest such firms had a hundred and thirty-five thousand employees. In July, 1919, the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia wrote to Palmer to tell him that many of the most extreme agitators were undercover operatives “actively stirring up trouble” because “they know on which side their bread is buttered.” Justice Department officials in Los Angeles concluded that private detectives, in order to create more business, had planted bombs in nearby oil fields. But none of this deterred Palmer, who was now on an anti-dissident crusade, with mass deportations as his main goal. Ninety per cent of Communist and anarchist agitation, he maintained, “is traceable to aliens.”

Millions of immigrants, even if they had arrived decades earlier, had never bothered to become American citizens. The bureaucracy of doing so could seem intimidating, especially for those who didn’t speak English well, and naturalization hadn’t seemed important at a time when the country professed to welcome newcomers. Now, however, lacking citizenship became an enormous liability. Emma Goldman, a prime target, was under close surveillance—her mail was opened, her phone calls were tapped, and her secretary, unbeknownst to her, was a government informer. Goldman believed that she had become a citizen thirty-two years earlier, by marrying a naturalized immigrant, Jacob Kershner. But Hoover contended that the rabbi who performed the ceremony was not properly ordained; moreover, two decades after their divorce, Kershner’s citizenship had been revoked, because he had falsified something on his original application. It was deemed that Goldman had thus lost her status as a U.S. citizen as well, and could be duly shipped off on the Buford.

The crackdown at the time of Goldman’s deportation came to be known as the Palmer Raids, although they were planned and closely supervised by the much younger Hoover. The first big raid rounded up members of the Union of Russian Workers, an avowedly anarchist organization that also offered classes and social activities. Offices of the union in more than a dozen cities were raided during the night of November 7, 1919—pointedly, the second anniversary of the Bolshevik coup—and 1,182 people were arrested and interrogated. A far larger number were roughed up, briefly detained, and then let go. Hoover’s agents were helped by local police. A raid of offices near New York’s Union Square, where members of the anarchist group had been attending night-school classes in mathematics and auto repair, left the building looking “as if a bomb had exploded in each room,” the New York World reported. “Desks were broken open, doors smashed, furniture overturned and broken, books and literature scattered, the glass doors of a cabinet broken, typewriters had apparently been thrown on the floor and stamped on,” and there were “bloodstains over floor, papers, literature &c.” The Times, although it backed the arrests, acknowledged that “a number of those in the building were badly beaten by the police during the raid, their heads wrapped in bandages.” The raids, which were recorded by newsreel-makers for greater impact, produced the outcome that Hoover and Palmer wanted: foreign-born radicals began filling immigration prisons like the one on Ellis Island. President Wilson, incapacitated by a stroke at the time, never publicly addressed the raids, but just before falling ill he had spoken of the “disciples of Lenin in our own midst,” from whom “poison has got in the veins of this free people.”

The Palmer Raids reached their climax on January 2, 1920, with night sweeps in more than thirty cities and towns. Their professed targets were the two Communist parties, whose combined membership was no more than forty thousand but was ninety per cent immigrant. Many of those arrested had only a tangential connection, if any, to the Communists, including, in Nashua, New Hampshire, a hundred and forty-one Socialists. In nearby Manchester, it was everyone dancing at the Tolstoi Club; in Chicago, all the patrons at the Tolstoy Vegetarian Restaurant; in Lynn, Massachusetts, thirty-nine bakers, a third of them American citizens, in the middle of a meeting to discuss forming a coöperative; in New Jersey, a group of Polish-Americans soliciting money for a funeral; in Philadelphia, the members of the Lithuanian Socialist Chorus, mid-rehearsal. There are no complete records of how many people were seized, but a careful study by the Danish scholar Regin Schmidt estimates the total arrested in the Palmer Raids at ten thousand.

More than five hundred of those arrested were jammed into quarters at Ellis Island, which ran out of cots and bedding. Several inmates died of pneumonia. In Detroit, some eight hundred men and women were held for up to six days in a narrow, windowless corridor of a federal building, with a bare stone floor to sleep on and one toilet and one drinking fountain. They were without food for twenty hours, and then could eat only what their families and friends brought them. In Boston, a hundred and forty prisoners in chains and leg irons were marched through the city’s streets, then locked up in an unheated prison on an island in the harbor. One despairing prisoner committed suicide by jumping from a window.

A. Mitchell Palmer, with one eye on justifying these mass arrests and the other on his Presidential campaign, issued a series of press releases. One was headed “Warns Nation of Red Peril—U.S. Department of Justice Urges Americans to Guard Against Bolshevism Menace.” The department’s press office distributed photographs of prisoners, taken after they had been jailed for days without the chance to shave or wash, captioned “Men Like These Would Rule You.” And Palmer published a magazine article warning that Communism “was eating its way into the homes of the American workman, its sharp tongues of revolutionary heat were licking the altars of the churches, leaping into the belfry of the school bell, crawling into the sacred corners of American homes, seeking to replace marriage vows with libertine laws.” (In fact, a survey by a church organization found that a large majority of the arrested men—eighty per cent of whom had lived in the United States for at least six years—were married.)

The arrests continued, and Palmer promised that deportations by the thousands would follow. New Yorkers would soon find, he told an audience in the city, a “second, third, and fourth” ship like the Buford, “sailing down their beautiful harbor in the near future.” Hoover personally led a raid in New Jersey in February, 1920, and Palmer began predicting that a nationwide Communist uprising would erupt on May Day of that year.

Palmer and Hoover had assumed that they could deport most of those seized in the raids. A high proportion were non-citizens, and a law passed in 1918, during the martial fervor of the First World War and the anti-Bolshevik hysteria, said that any alien who advocated anarchism or violent revolution, or who belonged to an organization that did so, could be expelled. There was, however, one considerable roadblock: although it was Palmer’s Justice Department that had the power to arrest people, deportations were under the authority of the Immigration Bureau, which was part of the Labor Department.

Then something happened that neither Hoover nor Palmer anticipated. Two and a half months after the Buford had sailed, and just as the two men were hoping to deport many more shiploads of newly arrested “undesirables,” the Secretary of Labor went on leave, to tend to an illness in the family; his replacement resigned; and a seventy-year-old man named Louis F. Post became the acting Secretary of Labor.

Post was no typical bureaucrat. His wire-rimmed glasses, Vandyke beard, and thick head of dark hair combined to give him a striking resemblance to the man then commanding Soviet Russia’s Red Army, Leon Trotsky. As far as Palmer and Hoover were concerned, he was just as dangerous.

He was born on a New Jersey farm in 1849 and, though too young to serve in the Civil War, was imbued with abolitionist zeal. As a boy, he talked to the free black handyman who worked for his grandfather and noticed that the man had to eat at a separate table. As a young man, Post spent two years working in the South during Reconstruction and saw how white Southerners foiled all possibility of advancement for the former slaves who hoped for equal rights at last. He served as a court reporter in a series of South Carolina trials in which Ku Klux Klansmen were convicted of murder—only to see President Ulysses S. Grant pardon most of the Klansmen several months later. He returned North, where he became a prosecutor and then a private attorney in New York City. The work left him uninspired, but he acquired a keen sense of the law that he was able to put to extraordinary use decades later.

Journalism, first on the side but eventually full time, became Post’s calling. While running the opinion pages of a lively pro-labor daily, the New York Truth, he supported the campaign that established Labor Day. Along the way, he became a convert to Henry George’s single-tax movement, which advocated a land tax meant to discourage speculators from getting rich by acquiring land and leaving it idle, impoverishing those who could have put it to good use. A friend of George’s, Post in effect became the leader of the single-tax movement after George’s death, in 1897, and toured North America lecturing on the subject. As the editorial writer for the Cleveland Recorder, Post crusaded against industrial monopolies and in favor of workers’ rights. By the turn of the century, he and his wife had started a Chicago-based magazine, The Public, which denounced American colonization of the Philippines, the power of big business, and racial discrimination while supporting women’s rights and unrestricted immigration. Post had been impressed by the promises of reform that helped Woodrow Wilson first get elected President, and, in 1913, when offered a position in the brand-new Department of Labor, he happily accepted.

Post knew, and had published, many of the leading reformers and radicals of the day. Indeed, Emma Goldman had been a dinner guest in his home, and he had managed, in 1917, to prevent her from being deported, although he was powerless to do so two years later, when the laws had been tightened. Being in government did not tame him: as the Assistant Secretary of Labor, he had boldly written to President Wilson suggesting a blanket pardon for jailed draft resisters. As for anarchists, Post knew that some practiced violence, like the man who had bombed Palmer’s home, but he argued that anarchist ranks also included “apostles of peace,” like the followers of Tolstoy, who were “supremely harmless.” It was “perverted,” he wrote, to lump them all together as people to be deported.

Now, in charge of the Department of Labor, Post proved a shrewd investigator and decisive reformer. When he discovered that many of the raids had been made without warrants, or with warrants based on faulty information, he invalidated nearly three thousand of the arrests. He found that prisoners had been questioned without being informed that their answers could be used as evidence against them and without being given access to lawyers. In response, he ruled that any alien subjected to the deportation process was entitled to full constitutional safeguards. Post learned that many people taken in the raids hadn’t known that one of the Communist parties listed them as members; these factions had seceded from the Socialist Party and were intent on claiming as large a membership as possible. He ordered the release of many of those still held in immigration prisons like the one on Ellis Island; he slashed the amount of bail for others. Palmer and Hoover were furious.

Public opinion, however, slowly turned in Post’s favor. Quoting an unnamed commentator, Representative George Huddleston, of Alabama, said that some of the supposedly dangerous “Reds” targeted for expulsion probably didn’t know the difference between bolshevism and rheumatism. A federal judge in Boston ordered a group of immigrants to be released from custody, declaring that “a mob is a mob, whether made up of government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals, loafers, and the vicious classes.” Despite the estimated ten thousand arrests made amid the Palmer Raids and the 6,396 deportation cases that Hoover’s Radical Division prepared during this period, Palmer succeeded in deporting fewer than six hundred radical immigrants.

The Attorney General condemned Post’s “habitually tender solicitude for social revolution and perverted sympathy for the criminal anarchists.” Privately, Palmer suggested that Post was “a Bolshevik himself.” Palmer and Hoover sought to discredit Post and get him impeached by Congress. A three-hundred-and-fifty-page file on Post attempted to tarnish him with evidence about everything from contacts with I.W.W. members to his advocacy of divorce reform. The House Rules Committee, supplied with this file, called Post in for ten hours of testimony. But he acquitted himself brilliantly, and the committee could find no grounds for impeachment.

Palmer’s Justice Department continued to issue dire warnings, almost daily, of the nationwide Communist uprising predicted for May Day, 1920. As the date approached, New York City’s police force was put on twenty-four-hour duty; Boston stationed trucks with machine guns at strategic locations. In Chicago, three hundred and sixty local radicals were arrested and put in preventive detention.

May Day came and went. Nothing happened. Yet the silence turned out to be an event in itself. It deflated the national hysteria about arresting and deporting “Reds,” and helped kill Palmer’s campaign for the Presidency. Nor did any of the three Republicans who had thundered about deportation become his party’s choice. The eventual candidate and victor was Warren Harding, a Republican who declared that “too much has been said about bolshevism in America,” and campaigned for a “return to normalcy.” The Republican Party platform that year rebuked the “vigorous malpractice of the Departments of Justice and Labor.”

Owing in part to Post’s courage, normalcy did not include mass deportations on the scale that people like Hoover and Palmer had hoped for. But a larger battle was lost, since pressure for deportations has always been linked to another cause: keeping people out in the first place. In 1924, Congress passed a law that, for the next four decades, slammed the door on all but a tiny trickle of immigrants. It barred Asians from entering the United States and assigned country-by-country quotas, set to reflect the American population as it had been in 1890—when the proportion of Eastern Europeans, Italians, and Jews was small. The law bore the name of its principal author, Representative Albert Johnson, one of the men who, along with Hoover, had seen off the Buford and its cargo of deportees from New York Harbor. It was the Johnson-Reed Act that, years later, would prevent untold numbers of people trying to flee the Holocaust from finding shelter in the United States.

Post did not live to see that shame; he died at the age of seventy-eight, in 1928. But he died proud. He had entered the Wilson Administration expecting to fight for workers’ rights, but ended up fighting a very different battle. When faced with a challenge he had never anticipated, he rose to it magnificently, saving thousands of people from being expelled from the country. Moreover, his example emboldened others to speak out. It was only after Post had spent several months publicly stopping deportations that a group of a dozen distinguished attorneys, law professors, and law-school deans, including the future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, issued a report denouncing the Justice Department’s many violations of the Constitution in carrying out the Palmer Raids. The report was accompanied by sixty pages of material, from sworn statements of witnesses to photographs of bruised and beaten prisoners.

The report had a big impact on members of Congress and the press. Few were aware that two of the people who had helped prepare it were close allies of Post, and that Post almost certainly supplied much of the information in it. Post was both a man of high principle and a master of bureaucratic maneuvering—a rare combination. “He struggled without ceasing to preserve our liberties and to enlarge them,” the Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote after Post’s death. “He resisted the clamor of stupid intolerance. He exposed its shameful, ruthless lawlessness.” ♦

Published in the print edition of the November 11, 2019, issue, with the headline “Obstruction of Injustice.”

Sign of the times.

Little Bay Islands in Newfoundland, home to 54 year-round residents, becomes the latest isolated community to take relocation money

Little Bay Islands in Newfoundland. Rural and remote areas in Canada have long struggled to access services like healthcare, utilities and the internet.
Little Bay Islands in Newfoundland. Rural and remote areas in Canada have long struggled to access services like healthcare, utilities and the internet. Photograph: Mike Parsons/Courtesy photographer

Little Bay Islands is the kind of place where you can leave your doors unlocked, go on vacation for three weeks and return to a perfectly undisturbed home. The owner of the only store in town keeps irregular hours, and in his absence leaves a container with coins and wrinkled bills on the counter. Residents take what they need and make their own change.

The tiny island community in Canada’s easternmost province, Newfoundland and Labrador, is home to 54 year-round residents, and more in the summertime.

Most families have been here for generations, subsisting on the once-booming fishing industry.

But on 31 December, electricity and water will be switched off and ferry service discontinued. Little Bay Islands is the latest isolated village to agree to resettle on the mainland as part of the province’s community relocation policy, which offers government compensation to people who leave remote areas.

Two-thirds of Canada’s 37.5 million inhabitants live within 100 kilometres of the country’s southern border with the US, a horizontal strip of land that constitutes just 4% of Canada’s territory. Rural and remote areas in the rest of the country have long struggled to access services like healthcare, utilities and the internet.

Newfoundland and Labrador faces one of the most acute struggles in the country: a rapidly ageing population, spread over a vast area.

Its community relocation policy was invented in 1953 to ease the financial burden of delivering services to remote fishing communities. In the policy’s first 20 years residents of more than 300 outports were relocated, some say through the use of coercion, and today, resettlement must be initiated by the community and agreed to by at least 90% of the population.

Ted Grimes has lived all of his 70-odd years on Little Bay Islands. His parents and grandparents did too. But in early 2019, he – and everyone else – voted to resettle the community: he didn’t want to be abandoned along with the island.

“I don’t really want to leave, no. But I had no other choice,” said Grimes in a reluctant phone interview.

Instead, he will use his government cheque to resettle in a cottage in the town of Lewisporte (population 3,400), leaving behind a lifetime’s worth of mementos on the island. “The sentimental stuff, you take. Some of the stuff the kids and the grandkids gave us, you can’t throw it out,” said Grimes. “It’s gut-wrenching.”

Newfoundland and Labrador faces one of the most acute struggles in the country.
Newfoundland and Labrador faces one of the most acute struggles in the country: an ageing population spread over a vast area Photograph: Mike Parsons/Courtesy photographer

The town’s decline began in earnest in 1992 with the cod moratorium. To manage dwindling Atlantic cod stocks, the federal government plunged 30,000-plus people across the province into unemployment overnight.

Little Bay Islands stuck it out longer than most by switching to snow crabs, but that industry eventually closed down too, back in 2009. Soon, only elderly people remained. The store shuttered, as did the school in 2018 after two consecutive years with no students.

Yolande Pottie-Sherman, a researcher and geography professor at Memorial University in St. John’s, said resettlement poses important questions: should remote communities and outport culture be kept alive, and at what – and whose – expense?

The decision to resettle Little Bay Islands’ population has been nine years in the making. A 2016 vote on resettlement failed, dividing the town and pitting seasonal residents against full-timers. “The length of the process itself has been harmful,” says Pottie-Sherman. “You have, essentially, a community that becomes frozen because [of the uncertainty]. In that time, it’s just excruciating.”

As part of Little Bay Islands’ resettlement process, the province compared service delivery with paying each household between $250,000 and $270,000 to leave. It estimated it could save $20m over 20 years by resettling the community. It rubber-stamped the move last April.

By New Year’s Day, Mike and Georgina Parsons – and their dog – will be the only permanent residents of Little Bay Islands. At 53 and 44 respectively, they are the island’s youngest full-time residents.

They moved to the community a few years back, attracted to the idea of living off the grid in Mike’s hometown, and have spent the last couple of years preparing for a life of solitude on the edge of the Atlantic.

As winter draws near residents have been slowly filing out, each weekend bringing more farewells. At least half the numbers in the phone directory have been disconnected. Many residents intend to return to their homes in the summers, but for others this may be goodbye.

Watching his parents and other residents pack up and go is tough, said Parsons. “In spite of the fact that 100% of the permanent residents here voted to leave, I know that to actually do it, to pack up their things and leave, is just heartbreaking.”

When everyone is gone, he and Georgina will rely on solar panels, a freshwater well, stockpiled food, a satellite connection and other off-grid features to live their secluded life on the edge of the Atlantic. There will be a few weeks each winter where Arctic ice chokes the bay, making it impossible to cross over to the mainland. Then, they will be completely cut off, left alone to witness the town’s fiery sunrises and the dead silence of starry winter nights.

Surly Newz / The Rudy Colludy Schadenfreude Thread
« on: October 16, 2019, 12:03:04 PM »
Standing this up right here in honor of a man who deserves to. e passed around like a party favor at Rikers.

Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies
The president’s businesses made themselves appear more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials. One expert calls the differing numbers “versions of fraud.”

One of President Donald Trump’s signature skyscrapers, at 40 Wall Street in New York. Documents reveal Trump shared conflicting cost and occupancy figures for the building with lenders. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

One of President Donald Trump’s signature skyscrapers, at 40 Wall Street in New York. Documents reveal Trump shared conflicting cost and occupancy figures for the building with lenders. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Stay up to date with email updates about WNYC and ProPublica’s investigations into the president’s business practices.

Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax.

For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street.

Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call “leasing momentum.” Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013.

A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.”

New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.”

The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges. Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate.

“Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor’s office, I would want to ask a lot more questions,” said Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey who is now a professor at New York University School of Law.

Trump has previously been accused of manipulating numbers on his tax and loan documents, including by his former lawyer, Cohen. But Trump’s business is notoriously opaque, with records rarely surfacing, and up till now there’s been little documentary evidence supporting those claims.

Listen to the Episode

That’s one reason that multiple governmental entities, including two congressional committees and the office of the Manhattan district attorney, have subpoenaed Donald Trump’s tax returns. Trump has resisted, taking his battles to federal courts in Washington and New York. And so the question of whether different parts of the government can see the president’s financial information is now playing out in two appeals courts and seems destined to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Add to that a Washington Post account of an IRS whistleblower claiming political interference in the handling of the president’s audit, and the result is what amounts to frenetic interest in one person’s tax returns.

ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities.

ProPublica reviewed records for four properties: 40 Wall Street, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas and Trump Tower. Discrepancies involving two of them — 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower — stood out.

Trump’s personal attorney at the time, Michael Cohen, keeps watch as supporters lay hands on the then-presidential nominee. “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,” Cohen later testified, “and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.” (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

There can be legitimate reasons for numbers to diverge between tax and loan documents, the experts noted, but some of the gaps seemed to have no reasonable justification. “It really feels like there’s two sets of books — it feels like a set of books for the tax guy and a set for the lender,” said Kevin Riordan, a financing expert and real estate professor at Montclair State University who reviewed the records. “It’s hard to argue numbers. That’s black and white.”

The Trump Organization did not respond on the record to detailed questions provided by ProPublica. Robert Pollack, a lawyer whose firm, Marcus & Pollack, handles Trump’s property tax appeal filings with the city, said he was not authorized to discuss the documents. A spokeswoman for Mazars USA, the accounting firm that signed off on the two properties’ expense and income statements, said the firm does not comment on its work for clients. Executives with Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, declined to be quoted for the story.

In response to ProPublica’s questions about the disparities, Laura Feyer, deputy press secretary for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, said of the Trump International Hotel and Tower, “The city is looking into this property, and if there has been any underreporting, we will take appropriate action.”

Taxes have long been a third rail for Trump. Long before he famously declined to make his personal returns public, a New York Times investigation concluded, Trump participated in tax schemes that involved “outright fraud,” and that he had formulated “a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns.” Trump’s former partners in Panama claimed in a lawsuit, which is ongoing, that Trump’s hotel management company failed to pay taxes on millions in fees it received. Spokespeople for Trump and his company have denied any tax improprieties in the past.

In February, Cohen told Congress that Trump had adjusted figures up or down, as necessary, to obtain loans and avoid taxes. “It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purposes,” Cohen testified, “and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.”

The two Trump buildings with the most notable discrepancies shared a financial trait: Both were refinanced in 2015 and 2016 while Trump was campaigning for president. The loan for 40 Wall Street — $160 million — was then the Trump Organization’s biggest debt.

The fortunes of 40 Wall Street have risen and fallen repeatedly since it was constructed in 1930. Once briefly in the running to become the world’s tallest skyscraper (before being eclipsed by the Chrysler Building and then others), the 71-story landmark had an illustrious history before falling into disrepair as it changed hands multiple times.

Trump says in his book “Never Give Up” that he took over 40 Wall Street for $1 million during a down market in 1995. Others have reported the price as $10 million. Trump gave the property his signature treatment, decking out the lobby in Italian marble and bronze and christening it “The Trump Building.” Tenants such as American Express moved in.

But the rent rolls suffered when big-name tenants fled to Midtown in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks. Less blue-chip operations replaced them. In recent years, there were more setbacks. About two years ago, for example, high-end food purveyor Dean & Deluca canceled plans to locate an 18,500-square-foot emporium on the higher-priced first floor. The space remains empty.

The building at 40 Wall was underperforming, charging below-market rents, according to credit-rating agency Moody’s. Its profits were lagging.

Trump’s company, which has sometimes struggled to obtain credit because of his history of bankruptcies and defaults, turned for relief to a financial institution where Donald Trump had a connection: Ladder Capital, which employs Jack Weisselberg, the son of the Trump Organization’s longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg. Ladder is a publicly traded commercial real estate investment trust that reports more than $6 billion in assets. In 2015, and still today, Jack Weisselberg was an executive director whose job was to make loans.

Trump and Jack Weisselberg had history together. Jack was at UBS, in its loan origination department, in 2006, when the Swiss bank loaned Trump $7 million for his piece of the Trump International Hotel and Tower. Allen Weisselberg had bought a condo from Trump in one of his buildings for a below-market price of $152,500 in 2000. He deeded it to Jack three years later for about $148,000. Jack sold the unit for more than three times as much in 2006. (Jack Weisselberg declined to comment on Ladder’s loans or his relationship with the Trump Organization.)

Even with a sympathetic lender, the struggles at 40 Wall Street would normally raise questions. Trump’s representatives needed to demonstrate signs of the building’s financial health if they wanted a new loan with a lower interest rate.

They had a compelling piece of data, it seemed. Trump’s team told Ladder that occupancy was rebounding after registering a lackluster 58.9% on Dec. 31, 2012. Since then, Trump representatives reported, the building had signed new tenants. Income from them hadn’t fully been realized yet, largely because of free-rent deals, they said. But after 2015, they predicted, revenues would surge.

“That’s a selling point for people in the business,” said Riordan, who was previously the executive director of the Rutgers Center for Real Estate. Borrowers “want to show tremendous leasing momentum.” The steepness of such a rise in occupancy at the Trump building was unusual, Riordan and other experts said.

Documents submitted to city property tax officials show no such run-up. Trump representatives reported to the tax authorities that the building was already 81% leased in 2012.

“What is bizarre is that you have these tax filings that are totally different,” Riordan said. A gap of at least 10 percentage points between the two occupancy reports persisted for the next two years, before the figures in the tax and loan reports synced in January 2016.

The portrayal of a rapid rise in occupancy, and the explanation that income would soon follow, were critical for the refinancing. Indeed, Ladder’s underwriters were predicting that 40 Wall Street’s profits would more than double after 2015. Having reviewed Trump’s financial statements and rent roll, they estimated the building would clear $22.6 million a year in net operating income.

Ladder needed credit ratings agencies like Moody’s and Fitch to endorse its income expectations and give the loan a favorable rating, which would in turn make it easier for the next step of the plan: to package the loan as part of a bond, a so-called commercial mortgage-backed security, and sell it to investors. Without the expected rise in income, Riordan said, the loan size or terms would likely have needed to be renegotiated to satisfy the ratings agencies and investors, which would mean less favorable terms for Trump and Ladder. “There was a story crafted here,” Riordan said. “It’s contradicted by what we see in the tax filings.”

Wallace, the University of California professor, added: “Especially in underwriting loans, you are supposed to truthfully report.” Both the lender and the borrower are required to supply accurate information, she said.

Moody’s and Fitch analysts found the underwriter’s projections slightly too rosy, but Fitch conferred an investment-grade rating on the loan, allowing it to proceed as planned. Trump ultimately received a 10-year loan with a lower interest rate than the building previously had as well as terms that would allow him to defer paying off much of the principal until the end of the loan.

Once granted, the loan to 40 Wall Street ran into trouble: The year after it went through, the loan servicer put it on a “watch list” because of concerns that the building wasn’t making sufficient profit to pay the debt service with enough of a margin. It stayed on the list for three months. (Trump’s company has continued making payments.)

As of 2018, the most recent year available, the building had never met the underwriters’ profit expectations, trailing by more than 8%, according to data from commercial real estate research service Trepp. Experts say that, given the amount of research underwriters do, a property typically meets their expectations fairly quickly.

The 40 Wall Street documents contain discrepancies related to costs as well as to occupancy. Generally, there are “more opportunities to play games on the expense side,” said Ron Shapiro, an assistant professor at Rutgers Business School and a former bank senior vice president, “particularly because there are many more kinds of expenses.”

Comparing specific expense items in both sets of records is challenging, because accountants may group categories differently in reports to tax and loan officials. But some differences on 40 Wall Street documents elicit head-scratching.

For example, insurance costs in 2017 were listed as $744,521 in tax documents and $457,414 in loan records.

Then there was the underlying lease. Trump technically doesn’t own 40 Wall Street. He pays the wealthy German family that owns the property for the right to rent the building to tenants. In 2015, both Trump’s report to tax authorities and a key loan disclosure document asserted that Trump’s company paid $1.65 million for these rights that year. But a line-by-line income and expense statement, which Trepp gathered from what the company reported to the loan servicer, reported the company paid about $1.24 million that year.

“I don’t know why that would be off,” said Jason Hoffman, who is chair of the real estate committee for a professional association of certified public accountants in New York state. Like other experts, he said there are legitimate reasons why tax and loan filings might not line up perfectly. But Hoffman said the firm where he works makes sure the numbers match when it prepares both tax and loan documents for a client — or that it can explain why if they don’t.

Financial information for the Trump International Hotel and Tower raises similar questions. Trump owns only a small portion of the building, which is located on Columbus Circle: two commercial spaces, which he rents out to a restaurant and a parking garage. Trump’s company told New York City tax officials it made about $822,000 renting space to commercial tenants there in 2017, records show. The company told loan officials it took in $1.67 million that year — more than twice as much. In eight years of data ProPublica examined for the Columbus Circle property, Trump’s company reported gross income to tax authorities that was typically only about 81% of what it reported to the lender.

Trump appeared to omit from tax documents income his company received from leasing space on the roof for television antennas, a ProPublica review found. The line on tax appeal forms for income from such communications equipment is blank on nine years of tax filings, even as loan documents listed the antennas as major sources of income.

Trump has an easement to lease the roof space; he doesn’t own it. But three tax experts, including Melanie Brock, an appraiser and paralegal who has worked on hundreds of New York City tax cases, told ProPublica that the income should still be reported on the tax appeals forms.

It’s hard to guess what might explain every inconsistency, said David Wilkes, a New York City tax lawyer who is chair of the National Association of Property Tax Attorneys. But, he added, “My gut reaction is it seems like there’s something amiss there.”

Tax records for Trump personally and for his business continue to be subjects of contention in multiple investigations. The Justice Department has intervened in the investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, whose office has sought Trump’s personal tax returns. Congressional lawmakers investigating his business dealings have sought documents from his longtime accountant, Donald Bender, a partner at Mazars. Trump is fighting the subpoenas in court. (Bender did not respond to requests for comment.)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has said the committee is seeking to determine if Cohen’s testimony about Trump inflating and deflating his assets was accurate. Cummings asked for Mazars’ records related to Trump entities, as well as communications between Bender and Trump or Trump employees since 2009.

Such communications, the subpoena stated, should include any related to potential concerns that information Trump or his representatives provided his accountants was “incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise unsatisfactory.”

Did a large meteorite hit the earth 12,800 years ago? Here’s new evidence

Just less than 13,000 years ago, the climate cooled for a short while in many parts of the world, especially in the northern hemisphere. We know this because of what has been found in ice cores drilled in Greenland, as well as from oceans around the world.

Grains of pollen from various plants can also tell us about this cooler period, which people who study climate prehistory call the Younger Dryas and which interrupted a warming trend after the last Ice Age. The term gets its name from a wildflower, Dryas octopetala. It can tolerate cold conditions and was common in parts of Europe 12,800 years ago. At about this time a number of animals became extinct. These included mammoths in Europe, large bison in North America, and giant sloths in South America.

The cause of this cooling event has been debated a great deal. One possibility, for instance, is that it relates to changes in oceanic circulation systems. In 2007 Richard Firestone and other American scientists presented a new hypothesis: that the cause was a cosmic impact like an asteroid or comet. The impact could have injected a lot of dust into the air, which might have reduced the amount of sunlight getting through the earth’s atmosphere. This might have affected plant growth and animals in the food chain.

Research we have just had published sheds new light on this Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. We focus on what platinum can tell us about it.

How platinum fits into the picture

Platinum is known to be concentrated in meteorites, so when a lot of it is found in one place at one time, it could be a sign of a cosmic impact. Platinum spikes have been discovered in an ice core in Greenland as well as in areas as far apart as Europe, Western Asia, North America and even Patagonia in South America. These spikes all date to the same period of time.

Platinum spike and temperature graph. Author supplied

Until now, there has been no such evidence from Africa. But working with two colleagues, Professor Louis Scott (University of the Free State) and Philip Pieterse (University of Johannesburg), I believe there is evidence from South Africa’s Limpopo province that partly supports the controversial Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis.

The new information has been obtained from Wonderkrater, an archaeological site with peat deposits at a spring situated outside a small town to the north of Pretoria. In a sample of peat we have identified a platinum spike that could at least potentially be related to dust associated with a meteorite impact somewhere on earth 12,800 years ago.

The platinum spike at Wonderkrater is in marked contrast to almost constantly low (near-zero) concentrations of this element in adjacent levels. Subsequent to that platinum spike, pollen grains indicate a drop in temperature. These discoveries are entirely consistent with the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis.

Wonderkrater is the first site in Africa where a Younger Dryas platinum spike has been detected, supplementing evidence from southern Chile, in addition to platinum spikes at 28 sites in the northern hemisphere.

We are now asking a question which needs to be taken seriously: surely platinum-rich dust associated with the impact of a very large meteorite may have contributed to some extent to major climatic change and extinctions?

A meteorite crater in Greenland

Very recently a large meteorite crater with a diameter of 31km was discovered in northern Greenland, beneath the ice of the Hiawatha glacier. It is not certain that it dates to the time of the Younger Dryas, but the crater rim is fresh, and ice older than 12,800 years is missing.

It seems possible (but is not yet certain) that this particular crater relates to the hypothesised meteorite that struck the earth at the time of the Younger Dryas, with global consequences.

The effects of a meteorite impact may potentially have contributed to extinctions in many regions of the world. There is no doubt that platinum spikes in North America coincide closely with the extinction of animals on a big scale about 12,800 years ago.

Extinctions in Africa

In a South African context, my team is suggesting that platinum-rich cosmic dust and its associated environmental effects may have contributed to the extinction of large animals that ate grass. These have been documented at places such as Boomplaas near the Cango Caves in South Africa’s southern Cape, where important excavations have been undertaken.

At least three species went extinct in the African subcontinent. These included a giant buffalo (Syncerus antiquus), a large zebra (Equus capensis) and a large wildebeest (Megalotragus priscus). Each weighed about 500kg more than its modern counterpart.

There may have been more than one cause of these extinctions. Hunting by humans could have been a factor. And the large buffalo, zebra and wildebeest had already been affected by habitat changes at the end of the last Ice Age, which was at its coldest about 18,000 years ago.

What about human populations? A cosmic impact could have indirectly affected people as a result of local changes in environment and the availability of food resources, associated with sudden climate change. Stone tools relate to the cultural identity of people who lived in the past. Around 12,800 years ago in at least some parts of South Africa there is evidence of an apparently abrupt termination of the “Robberg” technology represented by stone tools found for example at Boomplaas Cave.

Coincidentally, North American archaeological sites indicate the sudden end of a stone tool technology called Clovis.

But it is too early to say whether these cultural changes relate to a common causal factor.

Map showing platinum spikes. Author supplied

Reality check

The Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis, and the evidence to support it, is a reminder of how much can change when a rocky object hits the earth. Many asteroids are situated between Mars and Jupiter, and on occasion some come very close to our planet. The probability of a large one striking earth may seem to be low. But it’s not impossible.

Take Apophis 99942. It is classified as a potentially hazardous asteroid. It is 340 metres wide and will come exceptionally close to the earth (in relation to an Astronomical Unit, the distance between us and the sun) on Friday April 13 2029. The probability of its hitting us in ten years’ time is only one in 100,000. But the probability of an impact may be even higher at some time in the remote future.

What’s more, comets associated with the Taurid Complex approach the earth relatively closely at intervals of centuries. So a large asteroid or comet could fall to earth in the foreseeable future.

The Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis is highly controversial. But the evidence suggests it is not improbable that a large meteorite struck the earth as recently as 12,800 years ago, with widespread consequences.

Expert Says Indians Will Soon Become Water Refugees Heading for Water-Rich Europe

Rajendra Singh, also known as the “Waterman of India”, says over 70 percent of the country has dried up, and this may lead to climatic migration to other countries.

18 September 2019, 8:19am


As various reports show India approaching ‘Day Zero’ (the day when a place’s taps dry out and people have to stand in line to collect a daily quota of water), a top Indian expert has warned that Indians may soon become “water refugees” who’ll migrate to water-rich European countries. Rajendra Singh, a Magsaysay-winning conservationist and environmentalist, and popularly known as the “Waterman of India”, made this statement at the recently-concluded Stockholm International Water Institute.

India is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, with almost 50 percent of the country facing drought-like situation. In fact, 21 major Indian cities will start running out of groundwater by next year, affecting millions. But Singh adds that as more than 70 percent of aquifers in India dry up, people are going to start migrating westwards unless we fix it. He compared the situation to parched regions in Africa and Asia, from where people have migrated to European states and precipitated political crisisamong and within the EU states. He also added that this may disturb the harmony of the world.

“In India, such migration is taking place from villages to cities. However, the current water crisis may lead to such climatic migration in the future to other countries,” he told The Press Trust of India. In fact, in India, a March 2019 report by the World Resources Institute has warned that the climate change impact will be considerable because of its large population—at 1.37 billion as of September 18—depending heavily on environment-sensitive sectors such as agriculture. “These factors make adaptation critical,” says the report.

Reports have also shown India is facing horrible droughts and floods, both at the same time. “This deadly combination of floods and droughts cannot be tackled by providing piped water but only through community-driven water management,” said Singh. “The responsibility of providing water to everyone can only be fulfilled if the government collaborates with people at the ground level rather than handing over the work to contractors, whose only interest is to earn benefits or profits.”

However, even though it seems like much is lost, Singh says things can still be fixed. One could be to discontinue the use of mechanised herbicides and pesticides, which are messing with the water aquifer system. Other ways to salvage the crisis, he said, would be to develop water harvesting systems to protect our reservoirs from drying up in the sun. This way, the country can develop reserve banks of water even when there’s a drought-like situation. He also stressed on indigenous methods of water management, designed by the local people.

But with the statistics suggesting much is lost, it’s safe to say that India is running out of time. “In fact, we have lost all the time to act,” said Singh. "A country whose 70 percent aquifers are dry has no time left.”

Follow Pallavi Pundir on Twitter.

History / Mass Graves in Russia Tell the Grim Story of Mongol Invasion
« on: September 14, 2019, 06:51:39 AM »
Mass Graves in Russia Tell the Grim Story of Mongol Invasion
After years of digging, archaeologists discover nine medieval graves holding the remains of at least 300 people.

a skull

Archaeologists excavated part of the old city center of Yaroslavl, Russia, between 2005 and 2010 as part of an effort to restore its cathedral. During the digs, they discovered nine medieval mass graves holding the remains of at least 300 people, dating from the sack of the city by Mongols. It took another several years for their bones, the ancient DNA preserved within them, and some centuries-old blowfly larvae to reveal a family tragedy set against the wider backdrop of Mongol expansion.

a pile of buried bones

Fire and Bodies Lying in the Snow

In the first half of the 1200s, Mongol leader Batu Khan (the grandson of Genghis Khan) conquered parts of modern-day Russia, Eastern Europe, and the Caucasus, adding them to what became known as the Golden Horde. He swept westward with an army of 130,000 soldiers, and for the cities in his path, the only options were surrender or slaughter. Smolensk opted to surrender and pay tribute to the Khanate, but 18 other cities—including Moscow and the capital of the principality that, at the time, ruled Yaroslavl—fell to fire and the sword.

The Mongol army reached Yaroslavl in February 1238. Many of the people buried in the mass graves afterward had clearly died violently; their bones carried the marks of stabbing, cutting, and blunt trauma. Some of the bones also showed signs of having been burned, probably in the fire that accompanied the attack, according to historical documents and archaeological evidence. Several of the graves had been the basements of houses and outbuildings; after the buildings burned down in the fire, the survivors or the conquerors found the exposed basements convenient places to dispose of the dead.

On the grounds of a medieval estate in the center of town, near the cathedral, someone went to the trouble to dig a pit for the dead. But the 15 people buried in the shallow pit lay in a variety of poses, suggesting that they had been dumped there unceremoniously. The blowfly larvae found mingled with the bones might explain that hasty treatment: the bodies would have been in the smelliest stages of decomposition when burial finally happened.

The larvae remained in remarkably good condition, even after 800 years of burial. Entomologists identified the exact blowfly species—and calculated that around Yaroslavl, the average daily temperatures the larvae would need came in late May or early June.

“These people were killed, and their bodies remained lying in the snow for a fairly long time. In April or May, flies started to multiply on the remains, and in late May or early June they were buried in a pit on the homestead, which is where they probably had lived,” said archaeologist Asya Engovatova of the Russian Academy of Sciences. By then, Batu Khan and his army were already marching through Crimea.

A Family Tragedy Worthy of Dostoyevsky

Several of the people buried in the pit had much more tooth decay than the rest of the Yaroslavl dead, which actually suggests that they were pretty well-off. Tooth decay usually suggests a diet rich in sugar (or at least soft, high-carbohydrate foods). In the Middle Ages, only the wealthy would have had access to that much sugar. And artifacts found where the house once stood suggest that the estate had been relatively wealthy until it burned down during the Mongol attack. Engovatova says it’s reasonable to think that the people buried in the middle of the estate lived—and died—there.

Some clues in the bones suggested that a number of the people in the mass grave may have been related. Several of the skeletons shared traits that could have been hereditary, such as spina bifida and a cranial suture (one of the joints between bones in the skull) that stayed open long after the age when it usually fuses shut.

To test that idea, geneticists Kharis Mustafin and Irina Alborova of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology sampled ancient DNA material from eight skeletons. Three of them shared the same mitochondrial genome, which is passed down from mother to child. Anthropologists say the three relatives were a woman, probably at least 55 years old when she died; a woman somewhere between 30 and 40 years old; and a young man about 20 years old.

The DNA analysis also helped calculate how closely the people were related; Engovatova and her colleagues say the most likely scenario is that the three people represent a grandmother, her daughter, and her grandson. Another person, buried in a nearby grave, came from the same maternal lineage. Engovatova and her colleagues presented their findings at a recent international anthropology conference in Moscow.

“In addition to re-creating the overall picture of the fall of the city in 1238, we now see the tragedy of one family,” Engovatova said. "What’s not known, of course, is who buried them: a relative, a neighbor, or a conqueror?"

Yaroslavl rebuilt after the fire, as it had done after numerous other fires in its history; it was a city made mostly of wood in a time when people relied on fire for cooking and heating. The principality to which the town belonged would spend the next 250 years as a vassal state to the Golden Horde, but not without more conflict and death. Batu Khan’s cousin, Mongke Khan, swept through the region again in 1257, followed by the Black Death in 1278, more Mongol attacks in 1293 and 1322, and another wave of Black Death in 1364.

This story originally appeared on Ars Technica.

Energy / This Week In Doom Sept. 1, 2019: Rat Bastards
« on: September 01, 2019, 04:33:26 PM »

That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666

Like us on Facebook



                                                            Anthony Freda

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on September 1, 2019

“This country was born on violenceViolence is as American as cherry pie."  –H. Rap Brown

I awoke this morning to see what news had broken and found this:

10 injured in shooting after high school football game in Alabama

At least 10 teenagers were injured when a shooting broke out after a high school football game in Mobile, Alabama, on Friday night, authorities said. Nine of the victims suffered gunshot wounds.

Well, it's Alabama, and it's FOOTBAW, so thus perhaps reason enough. But I'm old enough to remember going to high school football games without fearing for my life.

"Why are the young people bringing this type of violence to public events?" Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste asked in a news conference Friday. "They're bringing their beefs that they have with each other in their neighborhoods and they're putting other people in harm's way."

Let's not forget the exortations by Trump to do that very thing.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump encouraged a crowd of supporters Monday to "knock the hell" out of anyone who looked like they might throw fruits and vegetables at him, and promised to pay the legal fees for anyone who took him up on his suggestion.

Even though Trump bade his supporters to practice rough justice, some will find it hard to lay the pervasive strain of American violence at his feet. Aside from giving aid and succor to violent white nationalists, and voice to the prion disease that afflicts his most rabid supporters, that is. Back to the news:

At least 5 dead after more than 20 shot as gunman targets random victims in Odessa area

At least five people died after more than 20 people were shot Saturday when a gunman hijacked a postal truck and began shooting randomly in the Odessa area of West Texas, authorities say.

At least three law enforcement officers — a state trooper, an Odessa police officer and a Midland police officer — were among those shot. They were in stable condition Saturday night, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Another weekend, another shooting. Or two. Sandy Hook, Charleston, Orlando, Pittsburgh, El Paso, Dayton, Virginia Beach, and now in Texas. Again.

American history is written in blood. American violence has its roots in the wars of extermination fought against native peoples, chattel  slavery that built the wealth of a planter class (the enforcement for which was enshrined in the Second Amendment), wars against one another expanding the "frontier" (who doesn't love a good western?) and now the endless economic competition of all against all. We have normalized the mass slaughter of our fellow citizens to the extent that weekend mass shootings barely raise an eyebrow. Even though 90 per cent of our fellow citizens (and gun owners) welcome mandatory background checks for gun purchases, the NRA and its hireling legislators (aslosh in laundered rubles) won't allow such a bill to come to a vote.  

Meanwhile, out here in flyover country, where tariffs bite, where soybeans molder in silos, where Joe Sixpack and his wife both work two jobs to make ends meet, where minimum wage doesn't cover the rent anywhere in the country, the stresses mount.

“No small part of this ugly barbarization has been due to sheer physical congestion: a diagnosis now partly confirmed with scientific experiments with rats – for when they are placed in equally congested quarters, they exhibit the same symptoms of stress, alienation, hostility, sexual perversion, parental incompetence, and rabid violence that we now find in the Megalopolis.”

 â€• Lewis Mumford,  The City in History

Rats in a box. We all know that under enough stress, rodents turn on one another. We know this because scientists tested and measured this phenomenon, back in the day when the earth was still a sphere and science counted for something. Ethologist John B. Calhoun studied population density and its effects on behavior, and coined the term "behavioral sink" to describe the collapse in behavior which resulted from overcrowding. Over a number of years, Calhoun conducted over-population experiments on Norway rats and mice.

In his 1962 study, Calhoun described the behavior of the rodents:

Many [female rats] were unable to carry pregnancy to full term or to survive delivery of their litters if they did… Among the males the behavior disturbances ranged from sexual deviation to cannibalism and from frenetic overactivity to a pathological withdrawal from which individuals would emerge to eat, drink and move about only when other members of the community were asleep. The social organization of the animals showed equal disruption. …

The common source of these disturbances became most dramatically apparent in the populations of our first series of three experiments, in which we observed the development of what we called a behavioral sink. The animals would crowd together in greatest number in one of the four interconnecting pens in which the colony was maintained…as a result extreme population densities developed in the pen adopted for eating, leaving the others with sparse populations.

… In the experiments in which the behavioral sink developed, infant mortality ran as high as 96 percent among the most disoriented groups in the population.

As the rat population grew to 2200 rodents in what was described as a "rat utopia," they subsequently exhibited abnormal, often destructive behaviors. By the 600th day, the population was on its way to extinction. Calhoun himself saw the fate of the rodent population as a metaphor for the potential fate of man. Now rats aren't people, although as we will see, some people are rats. 

Greta Thunberg, Climate Activist, Arrives in N.Y. With a Message for Trump

Greta Thunberg’s Slow Boat to New York

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, arrived in New York City via an emission-free sailboat trip to dramatize her message for the urgency for state actors to take climate change seriously. She gives a speech next month at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. This at a time when

the Amazon rain forest was on fire; glaciers were calving into the sea; Tropical Storm Dorian was gathering strength in the Caribbean; scientists were trying to artificially inseminate the last two northern white rhinos on earth; there was lead in the water in Newark. The Endangered Species Act had been gutted, and the E.P.A. had announced new protections not for air or water but for marine diesel engines.

Thunberg arrived without the benefit of any official delegation or ceremony. She stepped off her boat and onto a floating dock, climbed a ramp to a stage, and faced rows of news cameras and handheld phones transmitting the arrival of the symbol of global climate resistance. She has been cheered by supporters, fellow climate activists, and mocked by critics. I promised you rats.

Misogyny, meet hypocrisy: Climate deniers go after AOC, Greta Thunberg with sexist attacks

Even though officialdom may have greeted Thunberg with a yawn, the alt-right was certainly paying attention. Climate change does not seem to present as a gendered issue, but leave it to conservatives to inject sexism into their generalized contempt for anything not "blood and soil." This week the right-wing Media Research Center tweeted out a video of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., addressing the need for rapid decarbonization to prevent catastrophic environmental changes. The video, labeled "Shallow Thoughts" and backed by treacly music, is supposed to be read as an indictment of Ocasio-Cortez's intelligence.

Fail. It's clear the Media Research Center doesn't expect its conservative audience to actually listen to what AOC is saying (which is actually cogent, despite the treacle), and instead write her off as an airhead. But AOC is a social media adept, and in a bit of social media jujitsu, tweeted out the video herself, stealing a march on the MRC. And in a nice bit of trolling, thanked MRC for helping spread her message. 

Slate had it thus:

Earlier this week, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted out a warm welcome to Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, who arrived in New York Wednesday for a speech at the United Nations.

Unfortunately, Thunberg was also greeted by a wave of misogynist nastiness, largely coming from allegedly grown men in both Europe and the United States. The attacks on Thunberg were in the same vein as those on Ocasio-Cortez, accusing her of being too stupid to know what she's talking about and denying that her voice is one worth honoring. A writer for the conservative Washington Examiner claimed that Thunberg is a victim of "child abuse" and that her mother "pimps their kid out," explicitly drawing a line between forced sex work and climate activism. 

As usual with the alt-right gaggle of Goebbels cosplayers, it's all about "owning the libs." Uh-huh. AOC and Thunberg both appear to be energized by opposition. But the main reason that climate-change deniers so readily turn to misogyny is that otherwise, they got nuthin'. The scientific evidence is in, and it's black and white: the climate crisis is real, and mostly caused by human activity. Their moral position is even more tenuous, since their options–doing nothing, or increasing greenhouse gas output — will harm not just future generations, but innocents around the world currently enduring extreme weather events like Hurricane Dorian or a burning Amazon.

So right wing trollboys have to rely on personal attacks aimed at environmental activists, dragging the debate away from evidence and into a rat's nest of culture war resentments.

Yet for all of the above, the article that spurred the direction of this week's rats-under-stress rant was this one, just in time for back-to-school.

Instead of school supplies, this year I’m shopping for a bulletproof backpack 

Judi Zirin speaks for an entire generation of American parents, who have to deal with issues that frankly never occurred to previous generations of parents planning back-to-school:

I have always loved the end of summer’s lazy promise of infinite possibility, the late August back to school buzz of limitless potential. Instead of shopping for school supplies and first day of school outfits, though, I’m online looking at Kevlar hoodies and bulletproof backpacks. This year, I’m not worried my kid won’t fit in – I’m praying he won’t be carried out.

After so many school shootings, I’m scared. Scared of what happens when that student who seems a little off or angry or cruel, whose parents don’t notice or take it seriously, whose issues the school is “dealing with”, finds access to a gun. Terrified because I know I can’t protect my child – and the government won’t. Confused because these students need help and not stigma, and it’s oddly the guns who have the stronger lobby.

Perhaps the greatest indictment future generations will level at our own is our unwillingness to protect our own children in the face of an intransigent NRA and its Russian money-trough. Nearly every American industry and product is subject to civil liability as a check on the irresponsibility of manufacturers and sellers—but not the gun industry. Congress made sure of that: when it passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005, they exempted the gun industry from nearly all lawsuits, leaving families of gun violence victims without recourse.

Thus do the NRA and their hirelings insure a steady supply of child human sacrifices to Moloch each year. And Moloch remains hungry.

And we have the nerve to call the human sacrifice of the Mayans and Aztecs barbaric.


Short takes:

Here's a summary of doom-related news that moved this week.

Take the land’: President Trump wants a border wall. He wants it black. And he wants it by Election Day.

Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election that he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars’ worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules, according to current and former officials involved with the project.

He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly, those officials said.

The world in flames

Plants are going extinct up to 350 times faster than the historical norm

Who they Are; they have names, faces, addresses, families…

Steve Schwarzman, a Top Financier of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump, Is a Driving Force Behind Amazon Deforestation

TWO BRAZILIAN FIRMS owned by a top donor to President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are significantly responsible for the ongoing destruction of the Amazon rainforest, carnage that has developed into raging fires that have captivated global attention. 

Brazil Says It Will Reject $22 Million in Amazon Aid Pledged at G7

Because Boisonaro.

2019 to be ‘worst-ever year’ for wildfires in Siberia and ‘only rain can now extinguish flames’

The New Trail of Tears: How climate change is forcing the relocation of species, including our own

In 1830 Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, designed to appropriate to the United States lands occupied by aboriginal Americans… the result of this land grab and ethnic cleansing was the Trail of Tears, a highway of the dispossessed, en route from their homelands to less favorable situations away from the population centers of the European-Americans and their recently created nation. Those with the means self-deported; those who moved late moved in large numbers and suffered terrible losses.

Nearly two centuries later, we face the prospect of forced relocations on a scale that is difficult to fathom. This New Trail of Tears will involve humans on every inhabited continent, and it will impact countless other species as well. This time, the driving force is all humanity, agents of climate change through our greenhouse gas emissions.

Author Brian Stewart notes that sea level rise, coupled with more violent storms powered by the warmer atmosphere, will have a profound impact on coastal areas. The dispossessed will place great stress on the remaining livable space, competition for such livable space will be fierce, and may become extinction traps for some. Note this with certainty:

Barriers to movement, both inadvertent and intentional, can be death sentences to those migrating.

It will be a piquant irony if those who are among the most ardent warriors against the dispossessed today find themselves on the other side of a razor wire fence tomorrow.

World’s largest permafrost river dries to a record low

Indonesia picks site for new capital as Jakarta sinks

Purdue Pharma in talks over multibillion-dollar deal to settle more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits

What sounds equitable at first blush may prove to be a multi-billion dollar dodge on the part of the Sacklers:

The Sackler family, which grew into one of the nation’s wealthiest dynasties through sales of the widely abused painkiller OxyContin, could emerge from a legal settlement under negotiation with its personal fortunes largely intact, according to an analysis reviewed by The Washington Post and people familiar with the discussions.

All the Sacklers want is what any of us would want: to be left alone in our Fortress of Insolence counting our billions.

banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives a quiet domestic existence in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary. Descended from a long line of people to whom one could never tell anything, all opinions are his and his alone, because he paid full retail for everything he has managed to learn.

Lon g before there was a Diner, long before 9-11, there was Milton William Cooper. His book was an underground sensation. The Hour of the Time radio program was also circulated and downloaded long before podcasts existed; I have them all. He was right about so many things, including 9-11, and the fact that he knew that by telling the truth, they would come for him and kill him. Which they did.

The Granddaddy of American Conspiracy Theorists
Decades before QAnon, false flags, “crisis actors” and Alex Jones, there was Milton William Cooper. An exclusive excerpt from ‘Pale Horse Rider’


Even a broken clock is right twice a day; that’s what they say about people who are supposed to be crackpots. It’s the idea that there is a moment in time when even the most outlandish contention, the most eccentric point of view, the most unlikely person, somehow lines up with shifting reality to produce, however fleetingly, what many perceive to be the truth.

But to accept the notion of the “broken clock” is to embrace the established, rationalist parameters of time, 24 hours a day, day after day, years arranged in ascending numerical order, decade after decade, eon upon eon, a forever forward march to an undetermined future, world without end, amen.

For some people, people like the late Milton William (Bill) Cooper, collector of clocks, time did not work that way. American shortwave talk‐show host, author, and lecturer during the millennial period of the late 1980s onward to the advent of the current century, Bill Cooper chose not to adhere to the mandated linear passage of existence. For Cooper, the entire span of time — the beginning, the middle, and the end — was all equally important, but there could be no doubt where the clock had stopped. A minute to midnight, that was Bill Cooper’s time.

This wasn’t because Cooper, a voracious reader and self‐schooled savant, was anti‐science or anti‐intellectual. He believed in evolution and, like his philosophical hero Aristotle, Cooper treasured the supremacy of knowledge and its acquisition. He had a massive collection of jazz records. But somewhere along the way, dating at least back to his service as river-boat captain in a hot zone during the Vietnam War, Cooper came to believe that something wasn’t right. What he’d always accepted as truth, what he was willing to give his life to protect, wasn’t true at all. It was part of a vast web of lies that stretched back through the centuries, contrived to rob the common man of his unalienable right to know the reality of his place on the planet. It was a deep-seated conviction that became an obsession — and a potent bridge to the current environment, where no one seems to believe anything they’re told, where long-respected bastions of truth are thought to be so corrupt as to be what Donald Trump calls “the enemy of the people.” The idea of “fake news,” along with personages like Alex Jones and QAnon (notably influenced by Cooper) are not unprecedented in American life. But none of them would have manifested as they have without Bill Cooper as an immediate predecessor.  

Cooper sought to dramatize the compounding urgency of the moment on The Hour of the Time, the radio program he broadcast from 1992 until November 2001, his resonant, sometimes folksy, sometimes fulminating voice filling the airwaves via satellite hookups and shortwave frequencies. Nearly every episode of The Hour of the Time began the same way, with the show’s singular opening, one of the most arresting sign‐ons in radio history. It starts with a blaring air‐raid siren, a blast in the night. This is followed by a loud, distorted electronic voice: Lights out!” comes the command, as if issued from a penitentiary guard tower. “Lights out for The Hour of the Time!…Lights out for the curfew of your body, soul, and mind.” Dogs bark, people shriek, the bleat of the still half‐sleeping multitudes. There is the sound of tramping jackbooted feet, growing louder, closing in.

Now is the time, a minute to midnight, 60 seconds before enslavement, one last chance. Some citizens will rise, if only from not-quite‐yet‐atrophied muscle memory. They will shake themselves awake as their forebears once did at Lexington and Concord, heeding Paul Revere’s immortal call. They will defend their homes, families, and the last shreds of the tattered Constitution, the most close‐to‐perfect political document ever produced.

The vast majority, however, won’t even get out of bed. Some will cower under the covers, but most will simply roll over and go back to sleep. They slept through life, so why not sleep through death?

This is how it will be at a minute to midnight, according to Bill Cooper. At the End of Time, a broken clock is always right.

Reputed instances of Cooper’s prescience are legion. An early roundup of these forecasts can be found in the August 15th, 1990, edition of the newsletter of the Citizens Agency for Joint Intelligence (CAJI), an organization Cooper created, billing it as “the largest private intelligence‐gathering agency in the world.” Published on a dot-matrix printer, carrying the tagline “Information, not money, will be the power of the nineties,” Cooper ran an article entitled “Every Prediction Has Come True.” He listed 16 of his most recent prognostications that had come to pass “or will soon be fulfilled.”

These included the disclosure that “the CIA and the military are bringing drugs into the United States to finance their black projects.” Cooper also predicted that “the rape of the Savings and Loans by the CIA is only the tip of the iceberg. At least 600 banks will go under in the next two years.” The current monetary structure, Cooper said, “will be replaced by a cashless system that will allow the government to monitor our every action by computer. If you attempt to stay out of the system you will not be allowed to buy, sell, work, get medical care, or anything else we all take for granted.”

Cooper continued to make predictions in his watershed book, Behold a Pale Horse. Published in 1991 by Light Technology, a small New Age–oriented house then located in Sedona, Arizona, Behold a Pale Horse is something of a publishing miracle. With an initial press run of 3,500 (500 hardcover, 3,000 paperback), by the end of 2017, the book was closing in on 300,000 copies sold.

Behold a Pale Horse is the biggest‐selling underground book of all time,” Cooper often told his audience. Yet sales figures represent only a fraction of the book’s true reach. For one thing, as its author often bragged, Behold a Pale Horse routinely topped lists of the most‐shoplifted books in the country. To this day, Barnes & Noble stores keep BAPH, as it is sometimes called, behind the cashier’s counter to reduce pilferage. This was because, as one clerk at the Barnes & Noble near my house in Brooklyn told me, “that book has a habit of walking out all by itself.”

There is also the captive audience. Since its release, Behold a Pale Horse has been among the most popular “prison books” (in that prisoners read them), a distinction it shares with Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power. During the crack epidemic of the 1990s, it was not unusual for a single copy of Behold a Pale Horse to go through enough hands in the cellblocks of places such as Attica to break the book’s spine.

The cover of ‘Behold a Pale Horse’

Some of Cooper’s best‐known predictions appear in Behold a Pale Horse, which runs a densely typed 500 pages. Eight years before the Trench Coat Mafia murders at Columbine High School, Cooper wrote: “The sharp increase of prescriptions of psychoactive drugs like Prozac and Ritalin to younger and younger children will inevitably lead to a rash of horrific school shootings.” These incidents, he said, “will be used by elements of the federal government as an excuse to infringe upon the citizenry’s Second Amendment rights.”

For many, including those who would later claim that the seemingly endless series of school shootings were part of a plot by gun‐control advocates to take away America’s weapons, Cooper’s words took on the air of prophesy.

But Bill Cooper never claimed to be a prophet. He never imagined himself in the line of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel, the ancient Hebrew seers carried off by King Nebuchadnezzar II to a 70‐year captivity in Babylon. Neither did Cooper compare himself to John, an exile on the island of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation, which is where the title Behold a Pale Horse comes from. The phrase appears in chapter 6, verse 8, in which John is witness to the opening of the Seven Seals, the preview of God’s secret plan to once again destroy the world prior to its rebirth as the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

When the Fourth Seal was revealed, John wrote, “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.”

“I am no Prophet, I am no Nostradamus, I have no crystal ball,” Cooper proclaimed. He was “just an ordinary guy.” There was nothing supernatural about his predictions. Anyone could do it. It was all in the methodology, summed up in what he called his “standard admonition,” the one rule every prospective Hour of the Time listener had to obey, “no matter what.”

“You must not believe anything you hear on this show,” Cooper declared. Nor was the listener to believe anything they heard from any other shortwave host, “or Larry King Live, Dan Rather, George Bush, Bill Clinton, or anyone else in this entire world, whether you hear it on radio, on television, or from the lips of someone standing right in front of you.

“Listen to everyone, read everything, believe nothing until you, yourself, can prove it with your own research,” Cooper told the audience. “Only free‐thinking, intelligent people who are prepared to root through all the crap and get at the truth should be listening to this show. Everyone else should just turn off their radio. We don’t even want you to listen.

Listen to everyone. Read everything, believe nothing . . . until you can prove to yourself whether it is true or false or lies between the many shades of gray. If you don’t do this, if you cannot do this, or are just plain too lazy to do this, then I can assure you that you will march into the New World Order as a docile slave.”

Then Cooper made the sound of a sheep. “Baaa! Baaa! Baaaing all the way.”

Cooper’s most famous prediction was made during the June 28th, 2001, broadcast of The Hour of the Time. A little past his 58th birthday and drinking heavily, Cooper was doing his program from a studio he’d built in the den of his house at 96 North Clearview Circle, atop a hill in the small White Mountains town of Eagar, Arizona, 15 miles from the New Mexico line.

“Can you believe what you have been seeing on CNN today, ladies and gentlemen?” Cooper asked the Hour of the Time audience that evening.

“Supposedly, a CNN reporter found Osama bin Laden, took a television camera crew with him, and interviewed him and his top leadership, lieutenants, and his colonels, and generals…in their hideout!

“Now don’t you think that’s kind of strange, folks?” Cooper asked with his signature chuckle. “Because the largest intelligence apparatus in the world, with the biggest budget in the history of world, has been looking for Osama bin Laden for years, and years, and years, and can’t find him!

“But some doofus jerk‐off reporter with his little camera crew waltzes right into his secret hideout and interviews him!”

This meant one of two things, Cooper told the audience. Either “everyone in the intelligence community and all the intelligence agencies of the United States government are blithering idiots and incompetent fools, or they’re lying to us.”

The fact was, Cooper told the audience, no one in the U.S. intelligence services was really looking for Osama bin Laden. They knew where he was. They had since the beginning of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Bin Laden, along with his entire family, was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Central Intelligence Agency.

“They created him. They’re the ones funding him. They supported him to make their new utopian worlds…and he has served them well.” There were rumors floating around the mass media that bin Laden was planning attacks on the United States and Israel, but this was just subterfuge, Cooper said. “If Osama bin Laden is an enemy of Israel, don’t you think the Mossad would have taken care of that a long time ago?” Cooper asked.

Something else was in the wind. There was no other reason for the government to allow the CNN report but to further stamp bin Laden’s bearded, pointy face upon the collective American mind‐set. Bogeyman of the moment, the Saudi prince was being readied for his close‐up.

“I’m telling you to be prepared for a major attack!” Cooper declared. The target would be a large American city.

“Something terrible is going to happen in this country. And whatever is going to happen they’re going to blame on Osama bin Laden. Don’t you even believe it.”

Two and a half months later, on September 11th, 2001, after two commercial airliners flew into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in a cataclysm that killed 2,996 people, including 343 New York City Fire Department personnel, Cooper’s prediction came to pass.

By the time Cooper got on the air that morning, the towers had already fallen. Several hours passed before the name Osama bin Laden surfaced on the BBC feed Cooper was monitoring. The British station, which Cooper regarded as marginally more reliable than the American networks, was doing an interview with the former Israeli Prime Minister General Ehud Barak and Richard Perle, chairman of George W. Bush’s Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee.

Widely known as the Prince of Darkness, in part for his Reagan‐era support of Edward Teller’s $100 billion Strategic Defense Initiative, known as Star Wars, Perle said the attacks on New York and Washington were “clearly an act of war.”

“All our Western civilization is under attack,” Barak put in. The interviewer asked Perle if he thought the United States would be justified in firing cruise missiles at Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Perle, who along with fellow neocons Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld would soon push hard for the reinvasion of Iraq, answered in the affirmative.

The Afghani authorities had “allowed Osama bin Laden to operate in their territory,” Perle said. That alone was reason enough for a military strike. Bin Laden was involved, no doubt about it. Yes, Barak agreed, there was “every reason to believe” bin Laden was behind the attack.

It was then Cooper interrupted the transmission, shouting, “How do they know who did it?

“If the United States government had no warning like they say, if they didn’t know who was going to mount these attacks, and there are no survivors from the people in these planes, how do they know Osama bin Laden is behind it?

So, yet again, Cooper was right. Events were transpiring exactly as his research had indicated. Osama bin Laden, the Saudi mama’s‐boy prince, was about to be officially blamed for the most spectacular foreign attack on America since Pearl Harbor.

Not that Cooper was gloating about his latest successful prediction. What had happened in New York City — thousands dead, their bodies crushed beneath tons of twisted rubble, a toxic cloud rising over the metropolis — was just the beginning of a new torrent of death. On the radio feed, Perle and Barak were discussing logistics; Afghanistan would be a target, possibly, Iraq as well.

“How can they determine that they should bomb Afghanistan?” Cooper shouted with alarm. “Who are we going to be bombing? The terrorists, or the innocent people of Kabul?”

Cooper made another prediction. “Folks, I can assure you that 72 hours from now we will be at war. We will be bombing two or maybe three countries….Because that’s how it works. When governments are attacked, they lash out. Thousands of people who had nothing whatsoever to do with what is happening at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are going to die.

“Nothing will be the same after today,” Cooper said grimly.

“Get ready for it, folks, because that’s what you’re going to be hearing in the next weeks and months on radio and television: Nothing will be the same after today….Because I’ll tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that’s what the people who really did this want you to think, that nothing, nothing, will be the same after today.

“And you know what? They’re right. They’re telling the truth about that. Within weeks the Congress will pass draconian legislation aimed at restricting the rights of American citizens. You’re going to have surveillance cameras on every street corner. You think your phones are being tapped now, just wait.

“No one is going to gain from this except a very small group of people. Everyone else will lose. No one will lose more than the American people.” This would be the most grievous casualty of the 9/11 attacks, Cooper told the audience, the nation itself, the America that could have been.

Freedom, the most elusive of qualities, best distilled in the inspired documents of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, had been dealt a fatal blow: “From now on, freedom will be whatever the law allows you to do.”

That wasn’t going to stop him, Cooper told listeners. He’d stay behind his microphone up in his hilltop studio. He’d keep sending out The Hour of the Time, speaking truth to the ultimate power, if it was the last thing he did.

It was soon after that Cooper’s final prediction came true.

“They’re going to kill me, ladies and gentlemen,” he told the audience. “They’re going to come up here in the middle of the night, and shoot me dead, right on my doorstep.”

And, around midnight on November 5th, 2001, less than two months after the 9/11 attacks, that’s exactly what happened.

Adapted from Pale Horse Rider: William Cooper, the Rise of Conspiracy, and the Fall of Trust in America (Blue Rider Press) by Mark Jacobson, to be published September 4th, 2018. All rights reserved. 

Surly Newz / Zillow, but for the Apocalypse
« on: July 27, 2019, 06:09:37 AM »
I came across this on r/collapse. the site is -- it purports to show where to live/not live, explorable in-browser map (risks for nuclear war, sea level, earthquakes so far.)

the creator says the following:

been working on over the past couple weeks on a bit of a visualization of where is and isn't a great place to live, with regard to nuclear war and (to a lesser degree so far) natural disasters. I've only lurked here, but figured you all might be interested, so figured I'd post.
The site is available here: I have a more detailed description of the motivation and datasets, and methods used here:, but the brief version is:
Mapped out potential targets in a nuclear war (link to sources):
- Ports, military bases:
- Railroads:
- Cities:
- Power infrastructure:
Few potential natural disasters mapped out:
- Elevation data, for sea level:
- Seismic risk:

Let me know if you have any other ideas, want more details, or have feedback. I'm a software developer so I'm not really an expert in any of what I'm mapping out. Hoping to add more content over time, when I have the chance.

Here's the info page:

Zillow, but for the Apocalypse

This map visualizes where you definitely, absolutely, don't want to live during a nuclear war, runaway global warming, or other un/natural disaster.

For more details and the motivation behind this site, see my blog post here.

Zillow (and similar services) provide useful info about neighborhoods like "Walk Score" and "Transit Score". Nobody, however, provides a "Doom Score" which summaries your chance of dying during a nuclear war. This map fixes that oversight.

Nuclear War

Nuclear war is always bad news. But that doesn't mean everyone is equally doomed. There are especially terrible places to live during a nuclear war — namely, next to any important targets. This map tries to identify for any location in the US whether there are any potential nearby bomb targets in a nuclear strike scenario:

This map plots potential nuclear targets, sourced from public datasets. Right now that includes:

  • Military bases
  • Ports
  • Major cities
  • Rail yards
  • ICBM missile silos
  • State capitals
  • Power plants
All nuclear blast radii on this map are modeled on a 5 Mt nuclear airburst. Damage radii use estimates from Alex Wellerstein's NUKEMAP; for more info, check out his site. Displayed radii:

2km: Fireball radius
12km: Air blast radius (5 psi)
25km: Thermal radiation radius
34km: Air blast radius (1 psi)

Nuclear fallout is not modeled here, and depends on airburst height and wind conditions.


These lists are not exhaustive or carefully curated:

  • Several categories of high-risk targets are not included yet, including but not limited to airports, refineries, shipyards, factories, and communication facilities
  • The list of included targets is not filtered for importance; many minor military bases, railyards, etc are included

I am not an expert on much of anything, and especially not on nuclear war. The maps here should be taken exactly for what they are — publicly available datasets plotted against naiive nuclear blast radii. Use your own judgment when interpreting them I'd love to incorporate feedback from actual experts, if possible — please let me know if you'd like to help.

Uncontrolled Sea Level Rise

Unlike nuclear war, sea level rise won't sneak up and vaporize you while you sleep. But it will make a house a really poor investment .

Most realistic global warming worst-case scenarios model a 5-10 foot sea level rise by 2100, which is, to be clear, Very Bad News, but is unlikely to sink you unless you live in the everglades.

This map goes further and asks "How far from the ocean would you want to be if all the ice melted — around 220 feet of it.

There are a lot of other ways global warming could make a place uninhabitable — starting with, for example, the heat. But this map currently only captures sea level rise.


Earthquakes are usually bad news. Earthquake prediction is challenging, but we do know which areas of the country are most prone to earthquakes. This map attempts to display areas with especially high earthquake risks.

Want to help?

I'm not an expert in anything presented on this map. There's certainly a lot that could be improved:

  • This is by no means an exhaustive list of the things that can kill you. More hazards will (probably) be added to this map over time. Reach out if you have any specific interests.
  • Contributions appreciated from actual experts about ways to judge which targets are actuallyimportant.
  • Feature requests and bug reports welcome. Best way to leave feedback is to email me directly:

There are plenty of quibbles to be made about the likelihood and/or survivability after a nuclear war. I count myself among those with little interest in the prospect. But this seemed like a pretty audacious hobby project and I post it for your amusement.

Surly Newz / Years and Years on HBO
« on: July 06, 2019, 02:49:04 AM »
I posted something about this the other day and have started watching it. Years and Years is gripping AF. It addresses all of the things we post about in this forum as harbingers of some future dystopia, but sees them through the lens of a family in the UK. Emma Thompson stars as Vivienne Rook, a businesswoman turned pol who comes across as a UK version of Marine La Pen.

The premise: An ordinary British family contends with the hopes, anxieties and joys of an uncertain future in this six-part limited series that begins in 2019 and propels the characters 15 years forward into an unstable world. The story begins as members of the Lyons clan converge for the birth of the newest family member, baby Lincoln, and an outspoken celebrity begins her transformation into a political figure whose controversial opinions will divide the nation. As the Britain of this imaginary drama is rocked by political, economic and technological advances, the family experiences everything hoped for in the future, and everything that is feared.

It's better than this description.

Spoiler alert: in Episode 2, the banks collapse.

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 31