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Zika: JunkScience right again; Public health ‘experts’ wrong again

By Steve Milloy | JunkScience | October 26, 2016

“Scientists are bewildered by Zika’s path across Latin America” — except the “scientists” didn’t do the right science before jumping to conclusions.

From today’s WaPo :

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Below are the cases:

2300zikamystery10xx-1

Back in March, I wrote that we need to wait until the data from Colombia are in. Well they are. Clearly there is some other cause of the reported fetal deformities. I don’t expect the “experts” to figure it out. Meanwhile, how many babies were needlessly aborted?

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

Trumping the climate

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | November 13, 2016

So . . . what can we expect from the Trump administration on environment/climate/energy?

There is much angst among the ‘greens’ about what to expect. This is typified by this morning’s headlines from the Huffington Post :

SET TO BOIL:  Trump Racing to Scrap Landmark Climate Deal

China Calls Move Ludicrous… ‘GAME OVER’: Scientists Fear Disaster With Donald… ‘Election Of Donald Trump Could Be Devastating For Our Climate And Our Future’… ‘Trump Has A Profound Ignorance Of Science’… Donald Taps Climate-Change Skeptic To Dismantle EPA… Oil Exec Eyed For Sec. Of Interior… New Push For Keystone Pipeline Fires Up…

Lets take a closer look at what President-elect Trump has actually said in recent months, including his policy/issue statements.

Hoax

Whenever the issue of Trump and climate change comes up in the world of the ‘greens’, the first thing they mention is that he said climate change is a ‘hoax.’

Politifact has done a good job of summarizing this (January 2016):

The clearest example comes from a tweet sent by Trump on Nov. 6, 2012. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

On Jan. 18, after Sanders had attacked Trump’s climate change views in the Democratic debate, Trump told Fox & Friends, “Well, I think the climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money. I know much about climate change. I’d be — received environmental awards. And I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China. Obviously, I joke. But this is done for the benefit of China, because China does not do anything to help climate change. They burn everything you could burn; they couldn’t care less. They have very — you know, their standards are nothing. But they — in the meantime, they can undercut us on price. So it’s very hard on our business.”

On Dec. 30, 2015, Trump told the crowd at a rally in Hilton Head, S.C., “Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”

In August, he stated:

“I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change. Nobody knows for sure.”

Lets first look at the definition of ‘hoax’, here are a few I spotted by googling:

  • a humorous or malicious deception.
  • to trick into believing or accepting as genuine something false and often preposterous
  • a plan to deceive a large group of people
  • a deliberately fabricated falsehood made to masquerade as truth.

With these definitions in mind, here are two examples that qualify as hoaxes that I have previously written about:

  1. The UNFCCC definition of ‘climate change’ arguably qualifies as a hoax: climate change is a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. [link]. This perversion of the definition of ‘climate change’ was designed to mislead people into thinking that all climate change is caused by humans.
  2. The propaganda from the UNFCCC that misleads people into thinking that the planned emissions reductions will have any discernible impact (that emerges from natural variability) on the 21st century climate [link], even if you believe the climate models.

So in terms of climate hoaxes, perhaps it is NOT Donald Trump’s whose pants are on fire.

Trump’s answers to ScienceDebate

ScienceDebate.org asked the Presidential candidates questions on a range of science-related issues. The answers to the climate change questions are [here]. Trump’s statement:

There is still much that needs to be investigated in the field of “climate change.” Perhaps the best use of our limited financial resources should be in dealing with making sure that every person in the world has clean water. Perhaps we should focus on eliminating lingering diseases around the world like malaria. Perhaps we should focus on efforts to increase food production to keep pace with an ever-growing world population. Perhaps we should be focused on developing energy sources and power production that alleviates the need for dependence on fossil fuels. We must decide on how best to proceed so that we can make lives better, safer and more prosperous.

Well, I find it difficult to argue with any of this. In fact, I like this statement quite a lot.

Paris

The big news over the weekend is that someone from Trump’s transition team has leaked that Trump plans to pull out of the Paris UNFCCC agreement [link].

Robert Stavins has a concise analysis of Trump’s road ahead re climate change [link]:

Trump, if we take him at his word, will try to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on tackling climate change. But it will take four years to do that, now that it has come into force. (It came into force quickly — with countries accounting for 55 percent of global emissions ratifying it — only because countries were afraid of Trump being elected, and wanted to lock the United States in.)

Despite the fact that the Obama administration has already submitted the instrument of ratification through executive agreement, Trump might submit the Paris Agreement to the Senate, where, of course, it would fail in a ratification vote. Or he might just announce that we will not comply with our already submitted nationally determined contributions, a 26 to 28 percent reduction below 2005 emissions by 2025. The big question is what effect all of this will have on the positions of China, India, Brazil, etc. It will surely not encourage greater action.

Domestically, he wants to “bring back the coal industry,” but the problems of the U.S. coal industry are competition from low-price natural gas for electricity generation, not environmental regulation. Also, that’s inconsistent with his pronouncements supporting fracking, because that increases gas supply and lowers gas prices, which hurts coal.

Could he try to amend the Clean Air Act itself? That would be unlikely to succeed, as Democrats in the Senate would filibuster, I assume. Would he eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, as he also promised at one point? No, again that would require an act of Congress. But he could try to starve the agency through low funding. And he will be appointing people to hundreds of key positions.

A more thorough analysis is provided by Paul Voosen: What Trump can – and can’t – do all by himself on climate.

Energy

Trump’s campaign web site issued a Position Statement on Energy:

DONALD J. TRUMP’S VISION

  • Make America energy independent, create millions of new jobs, and protect clean air and clean water. We will conserve our natural habitats, reserves and resources. We will unleash an energy revolution that will bring vast new wealth to our country.
  • Declare American energy dominance a strategic economic and foreign policy goal of the United States.
  • Unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.
    Become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests.
  • Open onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands, eliminate moratorium on coal leasing, and open shale energy deposits.
  • Encourage the use of natural gas and other American energy resources that will both reduce emissions but also reduce the price of energy and increase our economic output.
  • Rescind all job-destroying Obama executive actions. Mr. Trump will reduce and eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production, creating at least a half million jobs a year, $30 billion in higher wages, and cheaper energy.

Read Donald J. Trump’s 100-Day Action Plan, here.

Read Mr. Trump’s Remarks at the Shale Insight Event, and at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference.

KEY ISSUES

  • Energy costs the average American household $5,000 per year. As a percentage of income, the cost is greater for lower-income families. [Fox News, Sept. 3, 2015]
  • Shale energy production could add 2 million jobs in 7 years.
  • The oil and natural gas industry supports 10 million high-paying Americans jobs and can create another 400,000 new jobs per year. [The New York Times, June 20, 2015]

EPA

Anyone interested in the environment is abuzz with the news that Myron Ebell is leading the transition re the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This Wikipedia article summarizes why the ‘greens’ would be alarmed at this appointment.

The Hill has an interesting article: Myron Ebell is Perfectly Suited to Lead the Transition. Excerpts:

Consequently, Ebell has expressed concern about EPA positions, including the Clean Power Plan. The EPA’s controversial power plan is based on an inadequate understanding of global warming and should not drive our middle class into energy poverty against congressional will.

It is critical to understand that while the federal government, through Congress, establishes the overall goals of environmental protection through laws like the Clean Air and Water acts, the implementation of those laws is by state governments.

State governments and their citizens have demonstrated the ability to implement programs that protect our environment without destroying the very thing that makes environmental protection possible: a strong economy.

Over the last eight years the Obama administration has abandoned this successful approach to environmental protection as envisioned by Congress. Instead, they have turned to special interest groups to drive centralized planning. Prime examples include the 2015 EPA Power Plan and the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

These rules contain illusory flexibility to states when in reality they represent a huge shift of control from states to the federal government. Even the current administration acknowledged that the power plan was symbolic and would do little to improve air quality.

The power plan would be expensive and shut down energy plants that have not yet been paid for, thereby stranding those costs with ratepayers. It would harm the industrial sector by significantly increasing electricity rates, which would throttle manufacturing industries that require low energy prices to compete.

Similarly, under WOTUS land use decisions would be federalized. Our nation’s agricultural industry would be hamstrung by costly and unnecessary land use restrictions, which would stifle growth opportunities. The expansion of manufacturing, commercial and residential development would be left to federal bureaucrats.

Fortunately, dozens of states and state agencies stood their ground against the federal government and won stays against these rules.  We hope the Trump EPA will review existing rules and base its policy decisions on sound data and measurable results.

History has demonstrated time and again that just as “all politics is local,” so is environmental protection. State and local governments know best how to apply the many tools available to protect the environment and public health.We still need the EPA, but not the EPA of the past.

Returning control of our environment to the states also limits the dark money from self-serving lobbyists and deep-pocketed special interest groups masquerading as environmentalists.

Environment

I spotted this statement from Trump on the Wikipedia:

Everyone deserves clean air and safe drinking water regardless of race or Water infrastructure will be a big priority. We need to work to protect natural areas, but in a balanced way. End Obama EPA mandates that cost too many jobs, are opposed by most states, and too often have negligible benefit for the environment.
Sep 16, 2016

One of his  tweets:

 “Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air – not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of hearing this nonsense.”

Some additional hints from outsideonline :

Don Jr. told reporters: “[W]e’ve broken away from a lot of traditional conservative dogma on the issue, in that we do want federal lands to remain federal.”

Trump himself put it like so to Field & Stream last January: “I mean, are they going to sell if they get into a little bit of trouble? And I don’t think it’s something that should be sold. We have to be great stewards of this land. This is magnificent land.”

The next month, however, Don Jr. gave a more nuanced reply to a reporter’s question about revised leasing requirements coming into place on some federal lands, to enhance protections. “We do have to preserve those lands, and what I’ve seen thus far has been pretty reasonable,” young Don asserted.

JC reflections

In my post Trumping the elites, I stated that Trump’s election provided an opportunity for a more rational energy and climate policy.  Many in the blog comments and the twitosphere found this to be an incomprehensible statement.

Here is what I think needs to be done, and I do see opportunities for these in a Trump administration:

  • a review of climate science that includes a faithful and transparent representation of uncertainties in 21st century projections of global and regional climate change
  • reopening of the ‘endangerment’ issue, as to whether warming is ‘dangerous’
  • a do-over on assessing the social cost of carbon, that accounts for full uncertainty in the climate model simulations, the integrated assessment models and their inputs.
  • support funding for Earth observing systems (satellite, surface, ocean) and research on natural climate variability.

Even if politics are to ‘trump’ the conclusions of these analyses, it would be clear that the Trump administration has done its due diligence on this issue in terms of gathering and assessing information. If the Trump administration were to accomplish the first 3 items, they might have a scientifically and economically defensible basis for pulling out of the Paris agreement and canceling Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

Environmentalists and ‘greens’ should look for the promising avenues to work with Trump, e.g.:

  • Trump is clearly a supporter of clean water and clean air
  • Trump seems dedicated to being a good custodian of federal lands (don’t underestimate Don Jr’s influence on this one)
  • Trump wants the U.S. to be energy independent; this is easier without an over reliance on fossil fuels
  • Trump seems to support win-win energy solutions; e.g. solutions that reduce cost and increase energy security while at the same time reducing emissions.
  • Trump is a builder that wants to improve water infrastructure, which will help ameliorate the impacts of droughts and floods.

Working together on these issues would be a good start, if the ‘greens’ can get past the climate hoax thing. Donald Trump does not seem to be particularly beholden to the fossil fuel sector.

In closing, some insights from Andy Revkin:

Is this end times for environmental progress or, more specifically, climate progress?  No. The bad news about climate change is, in a way, the good news:

The main forces determining emission levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide will be just as much out of President Trump’s hands as they were out of President Obama’s. The decline in the United States has mainly been due to market forces shifting electricity generation from coal to abundant and cheaper natural gas, along with environmental regulations built around the traditional basket of pollutants that even conservatives agreed were worth restricting. (Efficiency and gas-mileage standards and other factors have helped, too, of course.)

At the same time, the unrelenting rise in greenhouse-gas emissions in developing countries is propelled by an unbending reality identified way back in 2005 by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, when he said, “The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge.”

At the same time, as well, other fundamental forces will continue to drive polluted China and smog-choked India to move away from unfettered coal combustion as a path to progress. An expanding middle class is already demanding cleaner air and sustainable transportation choices — just as similar forces enabled pollution cleanups in the United States in the last century.

That’s why the Paris Agreement on climate change will continue to register progress on emissions and investments in clean energy or climate resilience, but only within the limits of what nations already consider achievable .

So if you’re a working-class family, and dad has to drive 50 miles to get to his job, and he can’t afford to buy a Tesla or a Prius, and the most important thing to him economically to make sure he can pay the bills at the end of the month is the price of gas, and when gas prices are low that means an extra 100 bucks in his pocket, or 200 bucks in his pocket, and that may make the difference about whether or not he can buy enough food for his kids — if you just start lecturing him about climate change and what’s going to happen to the planet 50 years from now, it’s just not going to register.

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | Leave a comment

What Trump’s International Policies Could Look Like

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.11.2016

In June 2011, before the 9/11 catastrophe shook the world and before President George W Bush committed his country to endless and unwinnable wars, he met with President Putin and described their conversation as «straightforward and effective». He found Mr Putin «to be very straight forward and trustworthy and we had a very good dialogue… He’s a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country and I appreciate very much the frank dialogue and that’s the beginning of a very constructive relationship».

Times changed, however, and the hawks in Washington — the military-industrial-Congressional complex — were (and continue to be) intent on challenging Russia and China in every sphere. Among other manoeuvres, they intensified the US military presence in the South China Sea (part of the ‘Pivot to Asia’) and encouraged the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in further military expansion round Russia’s borders. In 2004 Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia became part of the military grouping, and after Obama came to power they were joined by Albania and Croatia.

There was no possibility that the Obama administration, whose secretary of state was Hillary Clinton from 2009 to 2013, would engage in dialogue with Russia. The State Department’s blatant encouragement of the anti-Russian coup in Ukraine («Yats is the guy») confirmed Moscow’s conviction that confrontation was Washington’s inflexible policy.

As one observer wrote at the time of the Kiev coup, «the reality is that, after two decades of eastward NATO expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit and defence structure, via an explicitly anti-Moscow EU association agreement. Its rejection led to the Maidan protests and the installation of an anti-Russian administration». The fact that the current Kiev administration is one of the most corrupt in the world is hardly surprising, but its unconditional support by the US-NATO military alliance is a sad comment on international affairs.

Might things be looking up, with a Donald Trump presidency in the offing? Clinton was totally opposed to dialogue with Russia and made it clear that if she were president she would carry on confronting because «I’ve stood up to Russia, I’ve taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as President». Trump, on the other hand, has been positive in calmly stating that «We are going to have a great relationship with China. We are going to have a great relationship with Putin and Russia». You can’t get more definite than that, and in consequence his election was warmly greeted by those who prefer dialogue to war.

President Putin was guarded in his reaction to Trump’s election, and said only that «We heard the campaign slogans when he was still a candidate which were aimed at restoring relations between Russia and the United States. We understand that it will not be an easy path given the current state of degradation in the relations. And as I have repeatedly said, it’s not our fault that Russian-American relations are in such a poor state. But Russia wants and is ready to restore full-fledged relations with the United States… we are ready to play our part, and do everything to return Russian-American relations to stable and sustainable development track». In other words — It’s a good result ; but let’s wait and see what happens when the man is sitting in the Oval Office.

Will a Trump presidency result in cessation of flights of US electronic warfare aircraft up to the borders of China and Russia, which they do regularly in order to «light up» defensive radars and other systems? Will President Trump forbid the provocative coat-trailing ‘freedom of navigation’ incursions by nuclear-armed US warships in the South China Sea? And, above all things, might it mean an end to the US-NATO military build up to war?

The Secretary General of the Pentagon’s branch office in Brussels, NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg, highlighted his important global status by joining heads of state and national political leaders in noting the election result, saying that «I congratulate Donald Trump on his election as the next President of the United States and I look forward to working with President-elect Trump,» which no doubt brought a smile to the face of Mr Trump who rightly considers NATO to be ‘obsolete’ and involved with countries that his supporters have ‘never even heard of.’ He is so right, because average Americans couldn’t care less about countries that are so unimportant to their lives.

Trump knows very well that Russia has no intention of invading the Baltic states or, indeed, anywhere else, and objects greatly to the ‘freeloading’ of European NATO nations, because the US spends more on its military than anyone else. You can prove almost anything with figures, but the incontrovertible fact is that the US spends 3.6 per cent of its GDP on running its military forces while other NATO countries such as Germany, France, Canada, Turkey and Italy spend less than 2 per cent. Understandably, Trump objects to this inequality.

Yet even given his reservations about NATO, it is not clear how Mr Trump equates his desire to cool things with Russia and China with his statements that the US needs a 350 ship navy, another 90,000 soldiers, an increase in missile capability, and 100 more fighter aircraft. That doesn’t sound like a peace-producing policy, because if he intends to talk with China and Russia, and reduce the speed and thrust of the present march to war, it might seem that a vast increase in military spending would send a contradictory message. There are no other countries in the world with whom the US is likely to go to war on the scale that a conflict against either Russia and China would entail. So why does he want so much more military hardware? The threat from the Islamic State is extremely dangerous, but it doesn’t require the US army to have another 90,000 soldiers.

This is but one reason for President Putin’s ‘wait and see’ attitude. He wants rapprochement — we would all welcome rapprochement, except for the Washington military-industrial mafia — but it doesn’t look as if it’s guaranteed.

Sometimes you wonder who exactly is in charge in America, because on November 5 the commander of the US Army in Europe, General Ben Hodges, declared that «No matter who is president, no matter who controls Congress, the United States is always going to be interested and need security and stability in Europe,» which was an intriguing foreign policy statement to be made by a general. He went even further in his commitment to US military involvement overseas by saying that «my expectation is the US Army will be given the mission to continue supporting Ukraine for as far as I can see», which sentiment is directly opposed to that of his future commander-in-chief, who said in a media interview that «the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were». Of President Putin he said that «He’s not going into Ukraine, OK, just so you understand. He’s not going to go into Ukraine, all right?»

President Putin will be pleased to talk with Mr Trump, and obviously has hopes that, as in his 2001 discussions with George W Bush, there might be «the beginning of a very constructive relationship». There are some indications that this could be achieved, just as there are some indications that US foreign policy under Trump will not be as confrontational as that of recent years. Yet it would be unwise to ignore the sheer power of Washington’s military-industrial mafia and such as the loudmouthed General Hodges who have been given a boost by the Trump declaration that he intends to greatly expand the country’s military capabilities.

Trump will soon pronounce on his intended foreign policy, once he has taken advice from those more knowledgeable than he is about international affairs. He seems to realise that peaceful coexistence beats belligerent confrontation, and we must hope that he will stick to his guns rather than buy a lot more of them.

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump and the revolutionary atmosphere in America

By Dmitry MININ | Strategic Culture Foundation | 13.11.2016

Political pundits in the US, who saw their election predictions turned on their heads, are now scrambling for an insightful explanation of how Hillary Clinton could have failed to win. Well, there’s one big reason. The anti-establishment protests that marked the whole trajectory of the US election came to a head on Nov. 8. The American people had not only lost their faith in the powers-that-be – which try to equate their own needs with the interests of the broader nation – but they had also stopped trusting the dominant media outlets that are so intertwined with that system. Trump was not only battling his political opponents, he was also opposed by many from his own party who defected to Clinton’s side. He faced resistance from the mainstream media, including an estimated 50 of the leading American newspapers and magazines, as well as virtually all of the major television channels. It is difficult to imagine how Trump managed to break through the «consensus» that was aimed against him. It appears that some instinctive, universal sympathy was roused toward someone who, like the Paul Bunyan of American folk tales, was willing to single-handedly take on the world. The fact that the traditional media was able to exert so little influence is evidence that they are losing ground to the Internet and other more cutting-edge ways of communicating. It seems that Trump was also better able than others to harness this technological revolution.

It is possible that one of the new president’s first steps in his revolution will be to begin a housecleaning of the American media landscape. In his «100 Day Action Plan» for his new administration, Trump has already announced that he will do battle with anyone who is «trying to stifle the voice of the American people». He has singled out AT&T’s desire to purchase Time Warner, which owns CNN and many other media assets, as an example of how big capital is taking over the channels that influence public opinion. Trump stated that as president he would not approve this deal, «because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few». Amazon, which owns the Washington Post and thus avoids a high tax bill, is a similar case in point. Yet another example – the television channel NBC, in which Comcast has acquired a majority stake, also «concentrates too much power in its hands». The list goes on. Trump feels that we now have one superstructure that manipulates the thoughts and behaviors of voters, thereby contaminating their minds. Deals like these «destroy democracy» and the Trump administration has vowed to try to break them up.

The publications that could be affected by these reorganizations are close to panicking. Their prestige is declining, as are their stock prices. The Washington Post, for example, is behaving very oddly right now. It published an article claiming that the blame for all the filth and professional sleaziness that has filled the pages of American newspapers, including its own, can be placed on… Russia.

The New York Times has not yet reached this conclusion and remains absolutely dumbfounded, claiming that what was once an «implausible fantasy» is now a fait accompli that has «placed the United States on a precipice». You can, however, agree with that publication’s conclusion that during the election Trump used the «judo move of turning the weight of a complacent establishment against it».

Television channels reorganize quickly. They are not yet singing Trump’s praises, but are putting many of their previous assessments on hold. It is easier for them to simply broadcast pictures of events while refraining from comment. Political analysts who don’t have the backing of powerful organizations and corporations are in a more difficult position – they need to respond instantly. Yesterday they considered Trump anathema, but today the number of his «long-time» supporters is growing rapidly, and one topic predominates among them. If the new president wants his policies to work, he needs to get advice from these «indispensables», otherwise he will fail. There are quite a large number of those who want to lend Trump their own broad shoulders and minds – the very same that have already pushed the US into so many misadventures. To what extent these «eternal gurus» will manage to latch onto Trump – and how much success he will have bringing fresh blood into his administration – will largely depend on whether the newly-elected master of the White House sticks to the script he has promised. The most militant of them – neocons such as William Kristol – are already glancing toward the future vice-president Mike Pence, hoping to make him an agent of their influence over Trump.

Outside the US, the prize for the most ridiculous reaction to Trump’s win should probably be awarded to French President François Hollande. He was completely unprepared for Clinton’s defeat, and what he said was not only incongruous with French gallantry but also common sense. «The American people have just expressed their opinion… They chose Donald Trump to be the president of the United States», Hollande reluctantly admitted, adding with a sigh, «and I therefore congratulate him, as is natural between two democratic heads of state». Meaning that he personally would have never done so on his own. «This election opens up a period of uncertainty», added Hollande, «I must be very clear about that». Although probably after such a «warm greeting» it will be difficult for him to count on having a relationship with Trump. But it’s possible he won’t have much time left for that anyway.

The former president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who is favored to win the upcoming French presidential elections in April and May 2017, is pretty much already celebrating his own victory and is not concealing his joy at Trump’s election. Sarkozy emphasizes that the outcome of the US election signifies a «rejection of a monolithic mindset» on trade and immigration issues. With leaders like Donald Trump in the US and Vladimir Putin in Russia, France should also have a strong leader at the helm – there is no longer «any place for helplessness and weakness».

In Berlin Angela Merkel is of course too rational to give way to emotions like Hollande’s and merely responded to Trump’s victory in keeping with diplomatic protocol. However, she was clearly feeling some unease about her future political destiny. The changes in Washington could have a negative impact on the prospects for the CDU party that she leads during the Bundestag elections in the fall of 2017. Plus, Merkel has been copying Clinton’s unsuccessful tactical approach. For example, the German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported her sudden announcement that the Germans were «having to deal with Internet attacks by Russian hackers and with news from the Russian media that provide false information». She claims that «this could influence next year’s German elections». It is unlikely that such a plan of attack, which didn’t work out for Clinton, can help Merkel in any way.

It is not unusual to opine that Trump’s victory is being welcomed, first and foremost, by the world’s alt-right. That’s an oversimplification. Although there are many Trump opponents in the US who are unhappy with his conciliatory words about Russia and his preference for non-interference in the affairs of others, it’s more the case that there are some who are known as traditionalists who have specific hopes for him. In some sense the Trump phenomenon is a conservative revolution at the hands of the US and global «mainstream» who are pushing back against the aggressive hold over them by those in the minority. Statistics show that the majority of the US population favor Trump, while only a minority supported Clinton. And democracy is after all a political form of governance in which power belongs to the majority. Soon we shall see how Trump is going to act on this issue.

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

First effect of Trump win: Al-Qaeda morale in Aleppo collapses, Western campaign against Russian bombing ends

By Alexander Mercuris | The Duran | November 12, 2016

One place where Donald Trump’s election victory has had an immediate effect is in the battlefield around Aleppo.

Reports from the area of the battlefield speak of a total collapse of morale amongst the Al-Qaeda led Jihadi forces which have been attacking the city from the south west, as whatever lingering hopes there were of a Western military intervention following a victory by Hillary Clinton in the US Presidential election have turned to dust.

The result is that the Jihadi forces have been rapidly losing ground in the south western suburbs of Aleppo over the last three days, a fact which has apparently obliged Al-Qaeda to draw on its last reserves in order to rush reinforcements to the front to prevent a total collapse there.

As always the situation is confused, but it seems the Syrian army has now entirely liberated the strategically located 1070 housing complex and the Minyan and Al-Assad districts, and that it is starting to develop an offensive towards the strategically important town of Khan Tuman, which is the base from which the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis launch their attacks on south west Aleppo.

Importantly these Syrian army advances are taking place despite the continued absence of Russian bombing in the area of Aleppo.

In the meantime there are reports that the Russian fleet which includes the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and the nuclear powered missile battlecruiser Pyotr Veliky has moved closer to the Syrian coast.

There have even been scattered reports that some of the Kuznetsov’s aircraft have been spotted flying over Syria on what appear to be reconnaissance missions.

There are also reports that the Russian fleet is preparing to launch heavy cruise missile strikes against the Jihadis forces concentrated in south west Aleppo, and that these will happen within the next few hours.

Reports that such attacks were imminent have in fact been circulating for around a week.

It appears the Russian fleet has taken longer to deploy to the Syrian coast than was expected despite being present in the eastern Mediterranean for several days.

Even allowing for a possible political decision by the Russian leadership to delay the attack until after the US Presidential election, it is still not clear why there has been a further delay given that the election took place several days ago.

Possibly there have been technical problems, though there are no reports of any problems with Kuznetsov’s engines.   Alternatively, the Russians might have felt the need to take additional security precautions after the strange incident several days ago involving the Dutch submarine.

It does however seem that an attack on the Jihadis attacking Aleppo from the Russian fleet in the eastern Mediterranean is indeed now about to happen, and that this attack may now be only hours away.

Regardless of when the attack happens, the key point is that following Trump’s election any idea of the West intervening directly in the fighting in Aleppo is now finally and conclusively dead.

Already the West’s media campaign against the Russian bombing of the Jihadi districts of eastern Aleppo, which was dominating the news just a few weeks ago, seems like an age away, whilst the demands for Russia to be further sanctioned or prosecuted for war crimes because of its actions in Syria have been quietly dropped.

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

I Would Love to Share in Your Incredulity

Open Letter to American Liberals

By Thomas S. Harrington | Common Dreams | November 10, 2016

I would love to share, my liberal friend, in your sense of incredulity about the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of United States. I would love to stand with you in the sense of woundedness that, while certainly painful up front, carries with it the secondary compensation of a warm and nurturing solidarity. I would love to sit with you and fulminate in righteous anger about the unparalleled vulgarity and cruelty of Trump and his followers.

As much as I’d like to do these things, I won’t.  Why?

Because I know you, perhaps better than you even dare to know yourself. I know you well because I have watched you with great and detailed care over the last three decades and have learned, sadly, that you are as much if not more about image and self-regard as any of the laudable values you claim to represent.

I have watched as you accommodated yourself to most of the retrograde social forces you claim to abhor. I have seen you be almost completely silent before the world’s greatest evil, unprovoked war, going so far as to embrace as your presidential candidate this year a person who cold-bloodedly carried out the complete destruction of Libya, a real country with real people who love their children like you and me, in order—as the Podesta emails make clear—to further her personal political ambitions.

I watched as you stood silent before this same person’s perverse on-camera celebration of the murder by way of a bayonet thrust to the anus of the leader of that once sovereign country, and before the tens of thousand of deaths, and hundreds of thousands of refugees, that war provoked.

I watched during the last eight years as you sought refuge in the evanescent qualities of skin color and smooth speechmaking so as to not to confront the fact that your “liberal” president was almost totally lacking in actionable convictions regarding the values you claim to be about.

I watched as you didn’t say a peep as he bailed out bankers, pursued whistleblowers and deported desperate and downtrodden immigrants in heretofore unimaginable numbers.

And I didn’t hear the slightest complaint (unlike those supposedly stupid and primitive libertarians) as he arrogated to himself the right to kill American citizens in cold blood as he and he alone deemed fit.

I monitored you as you not only completely normalized Israel’s methodical erasure of the Palestinian people and their culture, but made cheering enthusiastically for this campaign of savagery the ultimate litmus test for social and political respectability within your ranks.

I watched as you breezily dispatched the memories of the millions of innocent people destroyed by U.S. military aggression around the world and damaged police brutality here at home in order to slavishly imitate the unceasing orgy of uniform worship set in motion by the right and its media auxiliaries in the wake of  September 11th, 2001.

In short, since 1992, I have watched as you have transformed a current of social thought once rooted in that most basic and necessary human sentiment—empathy—into a badge of cultural and educational superiority. And because feeling good about yourself was much more important to you than actually helping the afflicted, you signed off, in greater or lesser measure to almost all of the life-sapping and dignity-robbing measures of the authoritarian right.

And now you want me to share in your sense of shock and incredulity?

No, thanks, I’ll save my tears for all of the people, ideas and programs you heedlessly abandoned along the road  to this day.


Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently published book, Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Establishment Strikes Back

By Gilbert Doctorow | Consortium News | November 13, 2016

The immediate impact of Donald Trump’s victory among those of us who favored his candidacy over Hillary Clinton’s was triumphalism on the day after. This euphoric mood was very well captured on a special edition of the Russia Today’s “Cross Talk” show, which registered an audience of more than 110,000 on-line viewers, a number which is rare if not unprecedented.

But much of the potential for positive change which came with Trump’s victory will be dissipated if all of us do not do what Barack Obama and Donald Trump did a couple of days ago: reach out to shake hands with political opponents, who will remain opponents, and nonetheless move forward together in a constructive manner.

If left to its own devices, the U.S. foreign policy establishment will continue doing what it has done since Nov. 8: wishing away the whole Trump victory. At present, these think tank scholars and major media columnists are in denial, as we see from op-eds published by The New York Times and other anti-Trump mainstream media. They question his mandate for change and his ability to execute change. They offer to hold his hand, bring him to his senses and ensure that his election (at least regarding its message about trying to cooperate with Russia on shared goals such as fighting terrorism) was in vain.

These spokesmen for the Establishment choose to ignore that Trump’s first moves after winning were to reward those in his party who had first come out in support of him and who stood by him in the worst days of the campaign, of which there were many. I note the rising stars of Mike Pence and Rudy Giuliani, among others. This makes it most improbable that he will also reward those who did everything possible to stymie his candidacy, first, and foremost the neoconservative and liberal interventionist foreign policy loudmouths.

Perhaps to comfort themselves, perhaps to confuse us, these foreign policy elitists say Trump is interested mainly in domestic affairs, in particular rebuilding American infrastructure, canceling or modifying Obamacare. They call him an isolationist and then fill in the content of his supposed isolationism to suit their purposes. They propose to give him a speed course on why continued global hegemony serves America’s interests and the interests of his electorate.

Yet, the record shows that Trump formulated his plans for U.S. military and foreign policy explicitly during the campaign. He said he would build up the U.S. military potential. He spoke specifically of targets for raising the number of men and women under arms, raising the construction of naval vessels, modernizing the nuclear arsenal. These plans are cited by the Establishment writers today as contradicting Trump’s thinking about getting along with all nations, another major motif of his campaign rhetoric. They propose to help him iron out the contradictions.

Explaining Trump’s Contradictions

But the answer to the apparent contradictions could well be that Trump was saying what he had to say to get elected. Consistency has not been at the center of Trump’s style. I maintain that the apparent contradictions were intentionally planted by Trump to secure the support of unsophisticated patriots while a very well integrated program for the way forward has been there in his pocket all the time.

Expanding U.S. military might will cost a lot, at the same time Trump has said he will not raise taxes nor raise debt. This means, in fact, reallocation of existing budgets. The most obvious place to start will be to cut back on the number of U.S. military bases abroad, which now number more than 600 and which consume $600 billion annually in maintenance costs.

The Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky recently described this spending rather colorfully when reassuring his compatriots that the U.S. is not as powerful as it appears. Said Zhirinovsky, a lot of the Pentagon’s allocations go to buying toilet paper and sausages, not military muscle as such. Moreover, the bases abroad tend to create local, regional and global grievances against the United States that, in turn, increase the need for still more bases and military expenditures.

If Trump begins by cutting back on the bases now surrounding and infuriating the Russian Federation, he would take a big step towards relaxation of international tensions, while saving money for his other security and domestic priorities.

Trump also has said he will require U.S. allies to pay more for their defense. This particularly concerns Europe, which is prosperous, but not carrying its weight in NATO despite years of exhortations and cajoling by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. The U.S. pays two-thirds of the NATO’s bills. Trump has declared that this is unacceptable.

The Pentagon budget represents a bit over 4 percent of GDP, whereas in Europe only several countries have approached or crossed the 2% of GDP minimum that the U.S. and NATO officials have called for. As a practical matter, given the ongoing stagnation of the European economies, widespread heavy indebtedness and the ongoing national budgets operating at deficits that exceed the guidelines of the European Central Bank, it is improbable (read impossible) for Europe to step up to bat and meet U.S. demands.

This will then justify the U.S. withdrawal from NATO that figures at the sidelines of the wish list of Trump supporters, not isolationism per se. Trump supporter and military analyst Andrew Bacevich wrote recently in Foreign Affairs that the U.S. may well pull out of NATO completely in the early 2020s.

As a fallback, the Establishment spokesmen speculate on how the President-elect will be taken in hand by members of his own party and by their own peers so that his wings are clipped and his directional changes in U.S. foreign and defense policy are frustrated before they are even rolled out during the 100 days of the new administration.

Very likely, that same foreign policy establishment will resume its howling in the wind if they are proven wrong after Trump’s Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017, and he proceeds precisely down the path of policies that he clearly enunciated during the campaign.

Why do I think that Trump as President will follow through on the foreign policy promises of Trump, the candidate? There is a simple explanation. His announced policies regarding accommodation with Russia, renunciation of “regime change” as a U.S. government priority abroad and the like were all set out by Trump during the campaign in the full knowledge they would bring him lots of well-organized criticism and gain him few votes, given the electorate’s focus on domestic policy issues.

He also knew that his positions, including condemning President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, would cost him support within his own party leaders, which is what happened. He even weathered Hillary Clinton calling him a “puppet” of Russian President Vladimir Putin during the third presidential debate and other McCarthyistic innuendo portraying him as some kind of Manchurian Candidate.

A Clash over Wars

Thus, we may assume that once he is in the saddle, he will not shy away from implementing these clearly stated policies. The impending clash between a foreign policy establishment with its supercilious attitude toward the new incumbent in the Oval Office and a determined President pulling in the other direction will surely create political tension and prompt many angry op-eds in Washington.

Accordingly, I have some constructive recommendations both to my fellow Trump supporters and to Trump’s opponents in the foreign policy establishment and mass media. I earnestly ask the editors of Foreign Affairs magazine and their peer publications serving the international-relations expert community to finally open their pages and give equal time for high quality contributions by followers of the “realist” school, who have been systematically excluded over the past several years as the New Cold War set in.

I address the same message to the mainstream electronic and print media, which has engaged in a New McCarthyism by blacklisting commentators whose views run counter to the Washington consensus and also publicly denigrating them as “tools of Putin.”

To put it in terms that anyone in the Russian affairs field and even members of the general public will understand, we need a six-to-nine month period of Glasnost, of open, free and very public debate of all those key international security issues which have not been discussed due to the monopoly power of one side in the argument.

I am calling for genuinely open debate, which allows for opinions that clash with the bipartisan “group thinks” that have dominated the Democratic and Republican elites. This concerns firstly the question of how to manage relations with Russia and China. Without any serious consideration of where the West’s escalating hostilities have been leading, we have been plunging forward blindly, stumbling towards a potential nuclear war — precisely because alternative policy views were kept out.

For those of us who have been part of the silenced opposition to the Washington consensus of the Bush and Obama years, we must engage with our intellectual opponents. Only in this way can we strengthen our reasoning powers and the quality of our policy recommendations so that we are fully prepared to deal with the fateful questions under review.


Gilbert Doctorow is the European Coordinator of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd. His most recent book, Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015.

November 13, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment