Monday, December 30, 2019

Creature Feature: The Return of the Buffalo

PNG begins the new year showing this award-winning video from NETNebraska, a tribute to the official mammal of the United States, the American plains bison (Bison bison bison). It is not only a symbol of the American spirit, but a symbol of what conservation can do to save a species from extermination by man's greed. When Lewis & Clark saw the great herds in 1804, buffalo numbered in the millions, estimated at more than 30 million. By the end of the nineteenth century buffalo had been reduced to a mere 1000. The plains were literally blanketed in bones when William Hornaday of the Smithsonian Institute journeyed to Great Plains in 1886 to collect specimens, a horrendous testament to the ghastly slaughter that had taken place. Without the intervention of prescient native Americans, and support from national politicians like Theodore Roosevelt the buffalo would be only history today.

There are 500,000 buffalo that live in eight protected herds, but the goal is to reintroduce the buffalo to their rightful place on the "American Serengeti". We, as a great nation, must undo the great wrong done to this keystone species. A million buffalo living freely in the wild as their ancestors once did is not too much to ask.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Happy Holidaze

Permafrost is Thawing

melting permafrost in Arctic
A dramatic and fundamental shift has occurred in the Earth's climatic system that is not as obvious as torrential floods, crippling droughts or ferocious super storms.  For thousands of years the Arctic has served the planet as a carbon sink, absorbing quantities of carbon dioxide and storing methane.  But now according to the latest research based on data collected between 2003 and 2017, the Arctic region now emits more carbon than it stores because the permafrost, a layer of frozen earth that was until now permanently frozen is thawing and doing so rapidly.  The study showed that the Arctic emitted 1.66 Gtons on an annual basis as opposed to storing 1.03Gtons of carbon. The fundamental shift in an important climate function is not just a one off, but has taken place over the entire Arctic region. This shocking fact bodes ill for the planet and its precious "Goldilocks" climate--an oasis in the vast cosmos for dazzling plethora of life forms.

Ordinary people across the planet are awakening to the existential crisis.  The UN's Climate Conference was forced to move from the planned venue in Chile to Madrid because of climate demonstrations in the streets of Quito.  Amnesty International reports climate demonstrations occurring in Hong Kong, La Paz, Port au Prince, Barcelona, Beirut and Santiago.  People are becoming increasing frustrated with their ruling elite's inability to take concrete action to reduce emissions to avoid a climate catastrophe.  The teenage Swedish activist who has been vilified by the ignorant and corrupt occupant of the Very White House, told the UN people are fed up with clever accounting and unending excuses.  Her accusation is backed up by experts.  Liu Cheng, a world renown labor expert, professor of law and politics at Shanghai Normal University, wrote:

“There is also a growing global recognition that we are in the midst of an unprecedented climate crisis. Ready or not, that crisis is affecting every nation, every locality, and every worker. Its effects are already serious, and unless decisive global action is taken to counter it, they will soon be catastrophic. Neoliberal deregulation, by dismantling the means for public steering of society to meet social needs, has also made it nearly impossible to correct global climate crisis.”

Cheng goes on to say in his critique of neoliberal deregulation, that the forty year consensus known as the "Washington Consensus" has been disastrous for workers all over the world, caught in a relentless race to the bottom.  There is now a growing consensus that the Washington Consensus is a failure.  Until organizations and government break out of its stranglehold, nothing will be done to ameliorate global warming. Just ask Bernie Sanders!

Monday, December 23, 2019

'Toontime: The Perfect Pawn

credit Steve Sack
 BC Idonwanna sez: Him float in Potomac!

More: Apparently House prosecutors agree with the radical and un-American US Person!  In a federal appellate court filing House counsel told the court that it still needs former White House counsel McGahn to testify, and that the leadership is open to impeaching Il Douche again, this time for obstruction of the Mueller investigation if new evidence is uncovered, apparently referring to McGahn's anticipated testimony to House impeachment investigators. “If McGahn’s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the Articles approved by the House, the Committee will proceed accordingly-- including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment,” House Counsel Douglas Letter wrote. Democratic lawmakers who led the House impeachment inquiry have long contended that their efforts to gather more evidence would continue, and that the timing of the impeachment vote reflected the urgency of the matter not abandonment of the obstruction case developed by Robert Mueller.

US Person has consistently argued that a third article should have been included to cover the evidence already available that King Orange attempted to obstruct the investigation by ordering the firing of FBI Director Comey. But the House willingness to keep the hits coming is good news. Nothing better than a gift that keeps on giving!

{20.12.19)Case in point why the investigation of "Putin's Pawn" needs to continue while Nancy is waiting for Senate Repugnants to summon their moral courage:  The WaPo reveals that Individual One's senior advisors believed that the bogus Ukraine cover story was implanted in the mind of their "very stable genius" by none other than the puppet master par excellence, Vladimir Putin. King Orange's insistence that Ukraine was behind the 2016 election interference and not Russia, so determined by US intelligence, became more intense after his July 2017 private meeting with Putin at the Group 20 economic summit in Hamburg. One former senior White House official said Trump even stated explicitly at one point, he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because “Putin told me.”, reports the WaPo.  George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary at State, touched upon his insistence on repeating agit prop during his testimony, but more evidence exists of Putin's dangerous influence over Individual 1 that is not yet in the record.
These unnamed officials obviously need to be interviewed under oath by the House Intelligence Committee, to fully understand the scope of Putin's hold over the current occupant of the Very White House.  The unusual relationship between Putin and Trump goes beyond mere bromance.  US Person thinks that Trump's past business dealings with Russian mobsters and oligarchs, and his intense desire to break into the Moscow building market have given the former KBG agent an effective handle on #45.  A conservative Washington pundit writes, “There could be no better example as to why the Senate must be able to subpoena former officials for the impeachment trial and obtain documents Trump has concealed under a spurious absolute immunity defense,”  The House prosecutors do not have the full Russian Connection story in public, yet.  They do have a strong hand in the current standoff with the Senate, where the last thing Repugnant senators want to hear are senior regime officials like John Bolton admit Putin is the handler of their president who betrayed his country for personal gain.

credit: Bramhall, Baltimore Sun

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Washington State Representative: Domestic Terrorrist

An official report to the Washington State House, released Thursday, concludes that Rep. Mike Shea (R) of Spokane helped plan the Malheur Wildlife Refuge takeover three years ago in Oregon.  Ostensibly led by the Bundy family, the report charges that Shea played a primary role in this illegal occupation and two other armed conflicts against the federal government.  He not only showed up at the standoffs, but recruited armed militia members to confront federal law enforcement officers.  The report also says Shea took part in a group chat in 2017 where he “condoned violence and intimidation” of his political opponents, and offered to conduct background checks on them.  This allegation was first reported by the Guardian and the story prompted an official investigation of Rep. Shea.  The four month independent investigation was led by a former FBI agent and former law enforcement officer.

Shea's participation in violent action against the federal government is ideologically based.  Shea wrote a manifesto entitled, "Biblical basis for War" in which he advocates for the overthrow of the national government to be replaced with a theocracy, in which dissenting males are to be killed.  According to investigators Shea “authored and circulated an operations plan” for militia members to use during the Malheur occupation.

While the forty-one day Malheur occupation was well reported, Shea also participated in a lesser known conflict with federal authorities in 2015 at Priest River, Idaho.  That confrontation involved blocking federal officials from seizing firearms from an elderly veteran who was no longer legally eligible to possess guns, according to the investigators’ report.  The VA wanted to remove his weapons under regulations governing recipients of VA benefits.  Shea summoned members of the Patriot Movement to block federal officials.  The blockade of several hundred militia members, some of whom including Shea were heavily armed, succeeded in prevent the firearm removal. No one was injured in the standoff.

It seems not only Il Douche is currently eligible for impeachment: according to investigators Shea has committed acts of domestic terrorism. It is up to the stae House members to discipline Shea; a two-thirds vote of the chamber is required for removal. A member of the Washington legislature has only been kicked out once in the state's history, seventy-five years ago, after a representative was convicted of statutory rape.  Shea has not yet been charged with committing a crime.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

'Extinct' Toad Revealed by Indigenous

credit: Fundaciòn Atelopus
Declaring a species extinct in the wild is not an exact science. The annals are replete with instances of a supposed 'lost" species turning up alive and well in nature. Case in point, the beautiful starry night harelquin toad, Atelopus arsyecue. Well named because of its black and white clown suit that advertises its toxicity, the toad has evaded scientific detection for thirty years. But the toad's indigenous neighbors have been living with it the entire time. The Arhuaco people of the Sogrome community in Colombia's Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta consider the toad sacred, so they have been loathed to expose the animal to scientific curiosity. After several years of discussion, they decided to allow researchers from a Colombian conservation group, Fundación Atelopus, to record and photograph the toad for science.

Gouna, as the toad is know to the natives, is their environmental informant that tells them when to conduct ceremonies and plant crops. Gouna is the also the guardian of water of symbol of fertility in their culture. Many harelquin toads in the cloud forests have subcumbed to the deadly fungus pathogen plague over the last three decades, the starry night has bucked the trend. It is however listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. Eighty of the known 96 harlequin toad species are endangered, critically endangered or extinct in the wild As of 2018, 37 harlequin toad species had disappeared from their known homes and have not been seen since the early 2000s, despite efforts to find them. A spokesperson for the native community and a biology student at university said, “We manage our resources and conserve our home as the law of origin dictates, which means that we live in balance with Mother Earth and all of the life here." The conservationists allowed to record the toad are grateful to the indigenous that decided to share their precious gouna with the world because their intimate knowledge of the natural world in which they live, allows scientists to "better understand how some species are surviving and how we can conserve the natural world in a way that connects spiritual and cultural knowledge."

It took four years of dialogue with tribal leaders and shamans, called "mamos", to establish trust and good intentions. Even then scientists were not allowed to take pictures of the toad at first to prove their ability to "resist temptation". Mammos finally consulted Nature before allowing researchers to hike eight miles through the forest to locate and photograph their toad deity. Discussions with the native community are underway to determine ways to protect their unspoiled habitat and the sacred gounas that live there.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

"Toontime: Low Flow

credit: Dave Granlund
Latest: As the full House debates the two articles of impeachment, certain to pass with a nearly unanimous Democratic majority, an interesting idea has floated to the surface: delaying sending the Articles to the Senate for trial to prevent a travesty of justice. With the Majority Leader vowing to bring the trial proceedings to an abrupt end without the introduction of evidence, delaying the transmission of the Articles will accomplish several salutary ends: prevent Il Douche's partisans from exonerating him well in advance of the election, give Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer more leverage in negotiations over Senate procedural rules, allow more time for the collection of evidence, permit resolution of court cases affecting that evidence, and even time to add to the bill more articles of high crimes such as violation of the emoluments clauses, and obstruction of the special prosecutor investigation.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, second in command to Nancy Pelosi, says the idea "needs to be talked about." The Democrats' constitutional law advisor, Professor Laurence Tribe of Harvard advocates for this idea in a recent op-ed. Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR) says he has talked to all the House leadership and there is interest in first obtaining a commitment from Senator McConnell to allow a legitimate and fair proceeding before the House names impeachment case managers, a necessary predicate to a trial. Speaker Pelosi controls who and when managers are named. US Person agrees that this tactic is a legitimate response to the expressed willingness of the Senate leadership to ignore the evidence by conducting a Soviet-style show trial in which the outcome is predetermined, and about the only way to prevent a whitewash of King Orange's serious and fundamental abuse of the public trust. Allowing Repugnants to nullify an impeachment on purely partisan grounds would further deligitimize the only constitutional process for removing a criminal executive outside an election. If Mr. Putin wants to attack the credibility of our political institutions, he could not have asked for a more potent weapon. Professor Tribe notes, the right of the public to observe a criminal trial despite the opposition of a defendant is a right that "inheres in our system of government."

{13.12.19}The Trump goons in the Senate led by their chief flying monkey, Moscow Mitch, have already abdicated their constitutional role as impartial jurors of the Tangerine Terror by announcing their complete abdication to the wishes of the Very White House.  He announced to the press that there would be no differences between the Senate and the regime in how the trial would be handled, and that he was in total cooperation with king's counsels on how to proceed once the House sends its Articles of Impeachment to the upper chamber.  The goons know no bounds in their attack on our system of republican government when it comes to defending their ten cent Mussolini.

Of course House Democrats did not do themselves any favors in the way they handled impeachment.  They completely ignored tangible evidence of obstruction of justice minutely detailed by Special Counsel Mueller.  By leaving Volume II out of the bill, they have undercut the authority of future special counsels appointed to investigate high-level wrongdoing.  Nor was King Orange's grievous violations of the emolument clauses deemed worthy of inclusion.  All of the omitted crimes are indicative of his intention to his office for his own gain from day one of his reign.  A slim two count indictment was voted out of the Judiciary Committee today, ripe for attack as "impeachment lite".  How much debasement of the national government are 'Merican willing to take?  Stay tuned as the comic opera gets underway early next year.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Sacklers Hide Billions Offshore

A new audit in the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy case shows the Sackler family transferred billions overseas in trusts and shell companies as the scrutiny of Purdue's role in the opiod crisis increased. They withdrew more than $10 billion from their company between 2008 and 2017.  That amount is eight times what they took out in the thirteen years since the brand name opiod, Oxycontin, was approved by the FDA in 1995. Money flowing to the Sacklers soared after the company’s 2007 felony plea, peaking at $1.7 billion in 2009. The Sacklers have offered to settle addiction related claims for just $3 billion, but the revelation of the offshore transfers brings into question just how much the family is worth, and how much they profited from a drug responsible for the death and addiction of thousands of fellow 'Mericans.

The report by independent forensic accountants says half of the payments to the Sadler were allegedly for payment of taxes, but the transfers went to several locations known to be tax havens such as Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands.  The family attorney affirmed that half of the $10.7 billion was used to pay taxes.  The report details other company payments to the Sacklers for legal defense. The company covered $17million in legal fees for family members from 2018 to part of this year,

Despite the obvious attempt to reduce their exposure to possible liability for marketing a dangerous drug,  a spokesperson for the group of local government litigants supporting the settlement says their support for the settlement agreement remains unshaken. These cash-strapped plaintiffs attempting to recover millions expended in treating victims are not in the strongest of negotiating positions.  Some states, like New York, want to know more about the Sackler's financial condition and are pursuing actions against them personally, at the risk of them withdrawing their company's settlement offer. Under the agreement, Purdue Pharma as a family owned company would cease to exist and become a public trust that would donate addiction treatment and paying plaintiffs.  It would continue to manufacture drugs, including Oxycontin.  Res Ipsa Loquitor.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

COTW: The Melt Goes On

The chart from the National Snow & Ice Data Center shows the median melt extent for a baseline period compared to the data for 2019.  Models show that 2019 had very large net ice loss for the year, at slightly more than 300 Gt, nearly equal to the intense melt year of 2012 [below]. The main area of mass loss was the western side of the ice sheet, which reached the seventh highest melt area on record, and the highest since 1978.

Audubon Fights Back

Audubon tells US about the victories the organization achieved during the year on behalf of birds and the environment. Some holiday cheer to go along with impeachment drama:
  • Several significant clean energy advances were made at the state level thanks in part to the involvement of Audubon activists.  Arkansas and South Carolina passed legislation increases that access to solar energy in the south and creates more green jobs. New York and Washington passed some of the strongest climate legislation in the country.  These new laws require the states to create 100% clean energy economy by 2050 and 2045 respectively;
  • Two federal laws protecting birds and habitat were reauthorized: the Land & Water Conservation Fund and the Neotropical Bird Conservation Act.  The permanent reauthorization of the LWCF funds conservation projects in all 50 states, from bald eagles in Washington to cerulean warblers in Arkansas;
  • Audubon helped defend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in court after the regime attacked the landmark legislation that protects migrating birds.  A federal court ruled that conservation lawsuits to overturn the regulatory rollback may proceed;
  • In October, the EPA released is Great Lakes Action Plan that outlines a five year strategy to guide federal investment of to protect and restore the Great Lakes.  For the first time marsh birds such as rails, grebes, bitterns, black and common terns that rely on high-quality wetlands will be the focus of attention under the plan.
  • Conservation organizations including Audubon have persistently resisted the regime's plans to drill the Arctic Wildlife Refuge.  The organization's members submitted 41,000 comments opposing drilling, and submitted a joint critique of the Bureau of Land Management's environmental impact statement.  In the Senate, a bill to declare the refuge protected wilderness was introduced one day before the House voted to pass legislation that would repeal the leasing program on the Alaskan coast plain.  Both laws are important steps to protecting the refuge from oil exploitation;
  • Under the extreme pro-exploitation regime now in power, regulatory roll- backs intended to gut the nation's environmental protection efforts have been alarming in extent.  One of these retreats weakens the 2015 sagebrush management plans agreed to by ten states in the interior west, making easier for oil and gas companies to drill in disappearing sage grouse habitat.  With help from Audubon, Wyoming took the lead in sage-grouse conservation by issuing an executive order with a mandate to maintain the agreed upon protections in the 2015 management plan.  The improvement in habitat will benefit more than 350 species of wildlife.
  • For the first time ever, Congress has legislation before it to protect forage fish such as shad and anchovies that feed seabirds.  Audubon members traveled to the capitol to educate lawmakers about the 70% decline in seabirds since 1970.  In June the House Natural Resources Committee passed a bill to protect Albatross whose numbers are rapidly declining.  The bill to protect the legendary flyers now goes to the full House for consideration.

Victoria is Greening

Disturbed by the ferocity of early bush fires, Australians are flocking to support sustainable energy despite their conservative governments continued backing of fossil fuel.  The latest poll indicates that at least two-thirds of Australians support alternative energy development.  These supporters recently got some good news: testing begins on the country's first offshore wind development, Star of the South.  The offshore wind farm is expected to produce 2000 megawatts of power or about 18% of Victoria's power demand when it reaches full production by 2027.  The development is expected to cost between $8 and $10 billion. Scientific studies will monitor wave and wave characteristics as well as evaluate the projects overall environmental impact on marine and bird life.  Its proposed site is between 10 kilometers and 25 kilometers from Port Albert on Victoria’s southern coast. [chart]

The project has the backing of Australian unions, still a major force in Australian politics. Unions have launched a lobbying campaign of state and federal governments to smooth the way for the project's success. They hope the project will provide secure jobs for electrical workers in the Latrobe Valley which has historically relied on coal-fired power generation.  The regional economy was hit when the coal fired Hazelwood plant was closed in 2017.  More coal plants are scheduled to close in coming decades.  The unions want the conservative government to establish an energy transition authority that considers the needs of workers displaced by the clean technology.  One of the features of offshore wind power is the availability of prevailing winds, which produce an element of power stability at peak grid loads.  With improved battery performance and capacity, offshore wind could be considered for base load power.  Existing infrastructure will be used to distribute offshore power through the Latrobe Valley.  The Victoria state government has set a 50% renewable energy target by 2030

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Ocean Deoxidization Another Effect of Climate Change

Climate change is not only destablising the atmosphere altering global weather patterns, but is also causing the oceans' oxygen levels to decline, threatening all marine life. That is the conclusion of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) comprehensive study of the health of world's oceans. “With this report, the scale of damage climate change is wreaking upon the ocean comes into stark focus. As the warming ocean loses oxygen, the delicate balance of marine life is thrown into disarray,”  IUCN acting director general Dr. Grethel Aguilar told the world press. Five dozen scientists from 17 nations contributed to the report.  Warmer oceans cannot absorb as much oxygen which affects system dynamics. Also, nutrient pollution from human waste disposal causes deoxygenation. Losses of ocean oxygen are estimated by the report at 2% during the period 1960-2010. Loss of oxygen leads to "dead zones" were nothing can live, such as the one that exists in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. In the 1960's there were forty-five such zones, now there are 700.  Watch this video explaining the problem:

Monday, December 09, 2019

'Toon Time: Crystal Blue Persuasion

credit: J. Koterba, Omaha World Herald 
 Wackydoodle sez: Weird Who?
Still More: US Person does not want to belabor this point, but the point about three articles instead of two is that the third obstruction of justice article arises from a separate set of facts unrelated to obstruction of Congress' impeachment inquiry. These set of facts deal exclusively with the Special Counsel and the Orange King's attempt to obstruct his investigation by removing him from his office.  Obstruction of Congress is exclusively related to his refusal to submit to lawful subpoenas issued by the House in pursuit of its own Article I authority.  Unless the House intends to not protect duly appointed Special Prosecutors from removal by hostile presidents it should vote for a separate article to vindicate the authority of any future prosecutor appointed to investigate officers of the executive branch.  Any pattern of behavior evidence of one charge is irrelevant to the other.  Now, if the concern of the House Judiciary Committee is that it does not have self incriminating evidence of the Tangerine Tyrant's obstruction of justice, the Mueller Report certainly exhibits direct, eye witness testimony of the same, which is certainly enough to justify lodging the charge. Would Don McGahn change his prior testimony under oath if brought to the well of the Senate to testify at trial? US Person thinks such blatant perjury highly unlikely.

More:  House Speaker Pelosi has been reluctant from the beginning of this odessy to support a muscular indictment of the criminal occupying the Very White House.  Her latest dithering is her preference to stick to only two articles of impeachment, both based on the whistleblower complaint.  She continues to ignore the evidence developed by Robert Mueller and compiled in Volume II of his report detailing the perpetrator's obstruction of the Special Counsel investigation. Ignoring the plain evidence already in the record sets a dangerous precedent for future presidential accountability.  Ignoring Mueller's evidence may encourage future presidents to attempt to fire a special counsel investigating their conduct in the hopes they can get away with it.  Pelosi is fond of intoning, "'no one is above the law", but by refusing to expand the focus of the impeachment by onlt one well developed and publicly understood article is a dereliction of her duty to protect and defend the Constitution from the criminal onslaught of the Tangerine Tyrant.  Nancy has clearly been in the Swamp too long when the results of polls mean more to her than the administration of justice.  This is a 'come to Jesus moment' in the nation's history: it is no time to deny what is right and accept  what is proven to be wrong.  Leave that Orwellian exercise to the Repugnants.

{07.12-19}US Person, aka "Elf on the Shelf" wishes to take some credit for the current state of play in the Swamp.  All the bloviating pundits were pooh-poohing impeachment after the Mueller Report proved a PR dud, butt he consistently called for the impeachment process to begin despite Nancy "don't mess with me" Pelosi's foot dragging (Net Worth: $101 million, D-CA) .  Now, in the light of the whistleblower's complaint, courtesy of the 'Deep State', the delay proved irrelevant and even harmful, but did allow some congealing of popular and political support of the only constitutional process provided to remove a rogue president.  Undoubtedly there is more clear and convincing evidence to be had of his nefarious conspiracy to convert the nation's highest office into his personal piggy bank, but there is enough evidence in the record to send him to the Senate for trial.  If Repugnants make a mockery of that, they will be punished by the voters a few months later.  It's kind of a 'catcha twenty-two'!

credit:D. Whamond
BC Idonwanna sez: He made offer Ukraine refused! 

life imitates art

Thursday, December 05, 2019

COTW: Don't Frack Your Mother (Earth)!

The dirty secret that oil and gas industry hugely pays to keep about fracking, is that it is more harmful to the environment than other fossil fuel recovery methods.  It is not by any stretch of objective science, a cleaner bridge fuel to a green tomorrow. Besides emission of methane in huge amounts into the air, [pie chart below] the high-pressure enhanced recovery technique contaminates ground water with a host of toxic chemicals.  Ever since the EPA proved that fracking wells do pollute ground water with a two year study at Pavilion, Wyoming, the industry has employed a legion of lobbyists and other assorted influence peddlers like former Pennsylvania governor, Tom Ridge, and even the same PR firm, Hill & Knowlton, that developed the tobacco industry's propaganda campaign, to ward off more regulation and closure of the infamous Halliburton loophole that exempts fracking fluids from the Safe Drinking Water Act.  The charts below show the possible migration routes into surrounding geological formations, such as water aquifers, of fracking fluids from an injection well, and conversely, methane from a production well.

shows migration routes for injected fluids through cracked well casing
migration route though failed seals
This is a frightening statistic: about 5% of new wells have casing failures. Casing--the concrete shell that separates the bore hole from the surrounding rock--fails at even higher levels for older wells which have a life span of 30-40 years.  When hundreds of thousands of fracking wells are drilled as part of a national policy promoted by the Obama administration to develop domestic gas production, that figure means thousands of new wells leak from their start.  Every year, about 13,000 new wells are drilled. According to a 2014 study, at least 15.3 million Americans have lived within a mile of a fracking well that has been drilled since 2000. There are now about 1.6 million active fracking wells in the US alone.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Germany to Close All of Its Nuclear Power Plants

After the Fukushima disaster, Germany decided to phase out its nuclear plants.  All seven plants will be shut down by 2022, but Germany faces the problem common to all decommissions-- where will the waste be stored?  There will be 28 million cubic meters of highly radioactive waste that will remain radioactive for a million  years. Two thousand containers of waste must be safely buried in locations that are isolated from ground water and seismically stable.  Such locations are not common. When the US began developing the Nevada waste storage site at Yucca Mountain, it found that the salt dome chosen for storage leaked water and waste located on a seismic fault line. Government officials looking for such a safe place declared Germany a "blank map".  Currently radioactive waste is stored above ground near the reactors similar to storage in the United States.  This is only a temporary solution since the stored waste is vulnerable to weather, floods, earthquakes and even terrorism.  The storage casks are built to hold waste for only a few decades.

Mulheim-Karlich Nuclear Power Plant

The high level waste is mostly spent fuel rods.  Exposure results in near instantaneous death, as the "liquidators" at Chernobyl found out.  They are incredibly hot from nuclear fission and are placed in casks to cool for a few decades.  Once cooled the rods can be transported to permanent storage where they emit radioactivity for centuries.  Despite not having favorable geology, Germany does not plan to export waste.  Former salt mines at Asse and Morsleben were used to store low and medium level waste in the sixties and seventies, but these must be closed at great expense since they fail to meet modern safety standards.   Any storage plans must account for the prolonged half lives involved.  For example, communication experts must decide how to communicate the danger to generations thousands of years from now, when language will be completely different. Think of Egyptian or Mayan hieroglyphics and you have a grasp of the problem.

Public sentiment towards a storage site nearby is highly adverse.  Residents of Gorleben, Lower Saxony, have been fighting for decades to keep a storage site away from their village.  The site was a political choice made in 1977 when the region near the former East Germany was sparsely inhabited and economically depressed. Over the years there have been numerous demonstrations, blocking the rail line that brings temporary storage canisters to the site.  An exploratory mine was excavated at Gorleben, but was abandoned in light of local opposition.  Protestors remain vigilant at Gorleben because the pressure for suitable permanent storage sites builds as nuclear plants around the world near the end of their operational lives. 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

'Toontime: Quid Pro Crow

credit: Wolverton
BC Idonwanna sez: NOT  more powerful than iron horse!

As the House Democrats prepare to move into the next and probably final phase of their impeachment inquiry, they will inform the public what it means to commit "high crimes and misdemeanors" deserving removal from high public office.  The evidence against #45 is already clear and convincing; #45 knew about the whistle-blower complaint before he released the military aid to Ukraine. Investigators have decided to move quickly rather than wait for the legal delaying tactics of the regime to play out in court.  The America public now has the chance to consider the gravity of the current occupant's abuse of power and violation of his oath to defend the Constitution against "all enemies foreign, and domestic".  His obstruction of justice, obstruction of Congress, violation of his oath of office, abuse of power and bribery of a foreign government to influence another election constitute more than just impeachable offenses, but a fundamental betrayal of this nation's system of governance.

When he is brought before the bar of the Senate, it would not be an overstatement to say that republican government is in the balance. #45 is a dangerous tyrant in the becoming; his unprincipled trouble making has further eroded the credibility of our political institutions.  If he survives in office after a partisan nullification of the Articles of Impeachment, there is a forum of last resort in which to save representative government: the American people voting in a free and fair election conducted without the interference of foreign powers. This is a fitting culmination to the process of removing a president who has little regard for the rule of law, and desires to replace it with the rule of one man above the law.  When asked by an onlooker at the Philadelphia convention what kind of government would there be in the former colonies, Dr. Franklin answered, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it." No more prescient words were spoken by a founding father. History has now found US.

credit: Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer
Wackydoodle sez: Y'al left out Lil Kim!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Climate Change Kills 200 Elephants in Zimbabwe

The UN environmental agency gives the planet another dire warning: the Earth's human inhabitants will have to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 7% annually for the next decade if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.  The probability of such a dramatic cutback in emissions seems unlikely from the point in history.

The signs of deadly changes in weather are all around us.  The latest tragic indicator is the death of over 200 elephants in the severe drought that has gripped Zimbabwe.  The drought is so bad that wildlife officials have resorted to moving animals out of the drought zone in Hwange National Park and Mana Pools to save their lives.  Residents of a village near Hwange rescued a calf that had fallen into a well in its disparate search for water.  They managed to extract the baby, but a leg was apparently broken in the accident.  The calf fled back into the wild.  An adult elephant collapsed near the village.  Villagers feed the elephant until it was strong enough to walk.  Zimbabwe has one of the largest elephant concentrations in Africa, home to 85,000, but its protected natural areas can only support 55,000.  Grazing lands have been severely depleted.  Animal advocates have been donating bales of hay.  Park officials are appealing for pumping equipment to provide water.

Drought conditions have left 5 million Zimbabweans, nearly one-third of its total human population without enough food until the next harvest.  If it fails, starvation looms ahead.  As desperate animals leave the park to find water and food in nearby communities, human conflicts are increasing.  About 200 people have died in reported human-wildlife conflicts in the last five years.

Monday, November 25, 2019

COTW: "Everyone Was In the Loop"

Update: A federal judge rejected the regime's spuriousclaim that executive branch officials are completely immune to legal process and order former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify before the House impeachment committees. McGahn defied a duly issued subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on the theory that executive branch officials cannot be required to talk about their official duties before Congress under the separation of powers doctrine. Judge Jackson rejected that argument in a 120 page opinion writing, the “claim to unreviewable absolute testimonial immunity on separation-of-powers grounds — essentially, that the Constitution’s scheme countenances unassailable executive branch authority — is baseless, and as such, cannot be sustained.” The Barr Department is certain to appeal the ruling and ask for a stay of subpoena enforcement following a pattern of legal delaying tactics intended to impede the impeachment process.

Even if McGahn is required to appear before Congress by the Supreme Court, he could then claim his personal interactions with Don Veto are protected by executive privilege, making it unlikely his testimony could be compelled in time to be included in the mass of evidence supporting a bill of particulars against the Orange King.  The legal question of absolute executive branch immunity is an open one, with no controlling precedent extant.  Eleven years ago another lower court federal judge ruled in agreement with Judge Jackson that an official had to respond to a subpoena and appear even if the official intends to claim executive privilege at the hearing.

credit: John Cole
{22.11.2019}Besides his unequivocal statement that there was an express condition on Ukraine receiving its previously approved military aid--an exchange for their public commitment to investigate the Bidens--Ambassador Sondland's testimony this week laid the basis for a conspiracy article of impeachment. There was an agreement to illegally extort a bribe in the form of political ammunition against a domestic political opponent among his top officials, among them:  Pense, Pompeo, Mulvaney, and his personal lawyer, Rudy 'Ghouly' Giuliani.  The conspiracy was furthered by overt acts such as meeting with Ukrainian officials to inform them of the hold on the aid, pressure to conduct an investigation of the gas holding company, Burisma where Hunter Biden sat on the board, and the directive to OMB to suspend the aid payment.  The Democrats investigating Don Veto's corruption of American foreign policy are probably correct to be limiting the focus of their investigation to just the boss, but that does not make these other bad actors any less culpable. Their accountability is best left to another time and forum. In doing so, US Person thinks that articles of impeachment could be drafted by the House Judiciary Committee by year's end.

The Judiciary Committee should not be in too much of a hurry, though.  It must weigh each potential article from the standpoint of both evidentiary sustainability and political gravity. The Mueller investigation, especially the evidence collected to support volume II, should not be ignored.  Special Counsel Robert Mueller apparently believed the evidence gathered by his office supported a legal conclusion that the Orange King obstructed investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.  Including Mueller's evidence in an obstruction of justice article would show that Trump's abuse of presidential power extends over his three years in public office. His corrupt activity threatens not only national security interests and foreign policy, but also the domestic administration of impartial justice. 

The advice to Chairman Nadler is especially cogent if his committee is successful in obtaining testimony from Don McGahn, former White House Counsel.  McGahn was often quoted as a source of evidence of King Orange's attempts to fire the Special Prosecutor.  Currently his refusal to obey a committee subpoena to testify is under review by a federal court. A decision on his case is expected on Monday. Also under court review is the Committee's request for grand jury testimony underlying the Mueller Report. Depending on whether there will be protracted appeals, it may then be appropriate for additional public hearings before the Judiciary Committee on obstruction before final articles are presented to the entire House for a vote.  In any event, the full scope and extent of Il Douche's corrupt abuse of power should be exposed to the public*. Making voting for Il Douche's presumed acquittal in the Senate as politically expensive as possible will only help the Democrats as the 2020 election looms closer.

credit:David Fitzsimmons
Wackydoodle sez:Hush that turkey up!
*To that end, a citizen advocacy group, American Oversight, successfully sued the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act for documents related to the suppressed Ukraine military aid. A federal judge ordered the department to turn over the documents late Friday. The first one hundred pages of released records of telecommunications between Secretary Mike Pompeo and King Orange's flying monkey, former New York mayor Giuliani, show he was pressuring the Ukraine government to investigate the Bidens at the direction of the 'king'.  More disclosures are expected.  The fact that a citizens' group was able to obtain the documentation when the Congress could not, demonstrates conclusively that there is no legitimate legal reason for the State Department to be withholding all documents requested of it by the congressional impeachment inquiry. To do so, constitutes a clear case of obstruction of Congress by the regime at the direction of Don Veto.

Liberty Canyon Wildlife Overpass is a Realtiy

US Person has posted previously about the need for cougars to cross the road in Southern California to maintain a healthy population in the mountains surrounding LA. {08.12.18}A wildlife crossing overpass of the 101 Freeway may finally be a reality thanks to the tireless efforts of cougar advocates. Funded mostly by private money, the Angora Hills overpass will allow cougars to access habitat without risking their lives and colliding with some 300,000 cars a day that will pass beneath. Cougars will be able to have dates without being frustrated by traffic. The crossing sets a precedent since it is the largest overpass dedicated to wildlife in the US. The $87 million dollar bridge entered its final design stage this summer. Construction is scheduled for completion in 2023. Construction will take place mostly at night, so as to minimize traffic impacts.

P-22, the male cat who has become famous for living in a Hollywood park, will probably not use the overpass since his territory is cut off by human settlement, but he has become the "poster boy" for the project. [photo] Officials say naming rights may be auctioned off to a human Hollywood star who makes a significant contribution to the project.  So far about $13.5 million has been raised.  Public funds will pay for 20% of the project.  Public support for overpass has been nearly unanimous, unusual for a transportation project. The crossing will be landscaped so as to blend both sides of the protected topography, and buffer crossing animals from traffic noise and lights.  The project architect is working with wildlife biologists to harmonize the structure with Nature.

Wildlife crossings are common in Europe and Canada, but only one other crossing occurs in California.  The first, near Temecula, CA opened last October without fanfare, but is smaller than the one in Liberty Canyon, now very aptly named.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

COTW: She Said, He Said

Breaking: Gordon Sondland the Trump gumba who essentially bought his ambassadorship with a million dollar donation to Don Veto's campaign dropped the dime on his boss today in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. Faced with contrary testimony from multiple witnesses who had knowledge of the extortion conspiracy against Ukraine, Sondland answered the sixty-four thousand dollar question with a "yes": there was a "quid pro quo" and everyone was in the corrupt loop, including the V.P. The impeachment case against #45 can be considered closed. Only a partisan vote in the Senate, which risks the senators' own political future, can save the occupant of the Very White House from being the first US president to be removed from office for impeachable offenses. Yes, Il Douche, you may finally get a chance to make history!  Chairman Schiff asked his own pregnant question at the end of a long day of testimony: if America does not stand for the Constitution, what does it stand for?  You tell me.

{15.11.19} In a private Saturday deposition, a US budget bureaucrat detailed how the military aid was held up on presidential orders. This evidence is a significant addition to the mass of evidence piling up against King Orange. A congressman on the House Oversight Committee said Mark Sandy's testimony will help trace how the money that was appropriated by Congress to help Ukraine fight the Russians on their eastern border was stopped by the 'King' to extort political dirt on Joe Biden. This evidence has been a concerning chink in the wall of "high crimes" being erected by House Democrats. All other agencies in the Executive branch with jurisdiction had signed off on the aid, except OMB, a highly politicized bureau.

The hold was announced to State Department officials in a video conference ion July 18th by, "a senior OMB official".  A legal document with Sandy’s signature directed a freeze of the security funds, according to testimony from Defense Department official Laura Cooper.  Democrats want to know how the hold was implemented and the persons involved. Previous testimony, not first hand, indicates the order came directly from acting White House Chief of Staff Mulvaney, who was instructed by King Orange to issue thje directive. Once again, the witness was instructed by the White House not to appear pursuant to subpoena.
credit: Steve Sack, Star Tribune
The racist cult that used to be the GOP is sticking with their criminally inclined leader, which is the norm for authoritarian personality cults.  No matter what the evidence, they will defend a man who has no idea what it means to function in a republican government as chief executive. His business modus operandi and personality disorder are what put him in these dire straits, not a Democrat coup.

The evidence did matter in the case of Roger Stone, the political provocateur who acted as a go-between the Trump campaign and Wikkileaks.  He was convicted on all seven felony counts including lying to investigators, witness tampering, and obstructing Congress today.  A piece of significant evidence that came out during his trial is the testimony of Rick Gates, former deputy campaign manager who said he overheard Trumpillini telling Stone that there would be more Wikkileaks information coming out, In his written statement to the Special Counsel Don Veto "did not recall" ever talking to Roger Stone about Wikkileaks, nor was he aware that any of his campaign officials talked to Stone about Wikkileaks. Gates told the jury  Stone requested in June 2016 Jared Kushner’s contact information so he could “debrief” Trump's son-in-law about Wikileaks. Stone also detailed a July strategy meeting to go over a Wikileaks response plan with campaign director Paul Manafort and senior aides Jason Miller and Stephen Miller.

credit: Dana Summers
Former Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch testified to the House Intelligence Committee today, but her evidence was largely tangential, related to her ouster from her post at the insistence of unofficial envoy Rudy 'Ghouly'.  So far, Democrats are hard pressed to present direct evidence of Trumpillini's obsession with political smear tactics--the so called 'drug deal'--due to the regime's complete stonewall and legal filibuster of the House investigation.  Hearsay is admissible in these proceedings, but the fine legal distinction may be completely lost on the public.

One firework worth noting is that while the Ambassador was testifying, King Orange live tweeted his contempt for her abilities--“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad...”  Chairman Schiff promptly paused her testimony to read out his tweet, and accuse Don Veto of witness intimidation.  While technically that may not be accurate, Il Douche's thuggish tweet certainly changed the atmosphere of the hearing, putting always Trumpists on the defensive.

*David Holmes, a political counselor stationed in Kiev, said in his opening statement at a closed hearing today that he overheard King Orange  loudly ask Sondland in a cell phone call at a Kiev restaurant if President Zelensky had agreed to investigating the Bidens.  After Sondland got off the phone call, he commented that the President does "not give a shit about Ukraine" but only the "big stuff", which Sondland explained as Trump's quest for dirt on a political opponent. Two other American officials were present during the call, including Suriya Jayanti.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Silent Forests Are Like a Cancer

Think wildlife conservation is a dilettantish luxury affordable only by urbanized nabobs?  Think again, Sherlock!  A new study in the prestigious journal, Nature, finds that Asian rainforest which traps millions of tons of carbon depends on fruit eating fauna to disperse seeds. The complete loss of these species results in the region's carbon storage capacity dropping by up to 3%.  Saving these creatures in the age of anthropomorphic warming may save your life, but wildlife is being decimated by snaring for bushmeat, poaching, and habitat fragmentation.

seed eating hornbill thretened by illegal poaching
The published study focused on a plot in  Khao Yai National Park, two and half hours from the Bangkok megalopolis where nearly on-third of the tree species depend on frugivores. [photo credit: W. Chathorn] Primates, especially gibbons, play an important role in diversify juvenile trees says the lead author, Wirong Chanthorn, professor of plant ecology at Kasetsart University, Bangkok.  Researchers found that by removing tree species dependent on seed dispersal by frugivores in a 74 acre study plot, the amount of carbon storage declined by has much as 3% when all such tree species were removed.  Previous similar studies in America and Africa have reached consistent results, with the Asian study showing declines in carbon storage similar to South America.  Because of the regions burgeoning human population, slash an burn subsistence agriculture, logging, and intense commercial plantation clearance, Asia forest biodiversity and  storage capacity are in the most immediate danger of collapse.

A 2016 study found that 113 species are threatened by hunting in Southeast Asia for the usual reasons: bushmeat, traditional medicine, and body parts.  Anti-poaching and logging patrols have increased, but are still far behind extractors. Rosewood can bring $50,000 per cubic meter and is in high demand for upscale furniture in China.  Elephant ivory is worth upwards of $1500 per pound and a mature tiger can cost as much as $50,000.  Such monetary figures often make conservation merely conversation.  Experts say the billions the illegal trade in wildlife and lumber must be tracked down, confiscated and diverted to biodiversity recovery.  Snares pose the biggest threat to forest wildlife.  In five years rangers removed 200,000 snares in five protect areas, a fraction of the number plaguing Asian forests. 

One expert said, wildlife is the blood of the forest, which most people realize are the Earth's lungs, but "a forest without wildlife is like a lung with cancer."  It is for reasons like this one that the Roman Catholic Church is considering adding ecocide or "ecological sin" to its official teachings or catechism.  In a recent speech, Pope Francis said, ‘ecocide’ covers “the massive contamination of air, land and water resources, the large-scale destruction of flora and fauna and any action capable of producing an ecological disaster or destroying an ecosystem.”  He also told Latin American bishops gathered at a conference that the Amazon Basin needs to be protected from mining and deforestation, adding that the world's poor are, "threatened by predatory models of development" in areas of rich natural resources such as the Amazon rainforest.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Booming Psychoactive Drug Trade Threatens Jaguars

As if vanishing habitat and hunting are not enough existential threats to the jaguar's survival in the wild, a booming tourism trade to experience the psychoactive native drug, ayahuasca, is stimulating trade in jaguar parts which charlatans sell as enhancements to that experience.  America's largest feline, Panthera onca has lost half its historic range and 25% of its population in the last three generations earning a listing by the IUCN as nearly threatened.

The Chinese already demand jaguar fangs, but during a recent tour of Peruvian cities associated with ayahuasca tourism by researchers, jaguar skins, paws, stuffed heads, and fangs were found for sale in the markets. [photo credit: A. Braczakowski] These body parts are sold as trinkets to people under the pretense that they somehow enhance the ayahuasca experience. Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew made from the ayahuasca vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and chakruna leaves (Psychotria viridis).  Traditionally the brew is an element of native shamanic rituals, but has become popular for recreational use in recent decades.

Researchers stress that range country governments need to closely monitor the ayahuasca tourism industry for the sale of jaguar body parts.  Peru has an anti-trafficking law, but enforcement is lax and inconsistent.  Another enforcement tool could be tourist education about the importance of live jaguars to the forest ecosystem.  If informed about the plight of the jaguar, and wildlife in general, they may be loath to purchase products made from dead cats. Legitimate shamans stress the importance of the jaguar as a powerful spiritual totem, and its vital role in maintaining natural balance in the wild.  Those offering a "ayahuasca experience" to visitors could be leaders in protecting the animal they allegedly revere by deterring tourists from using body parts.

credit: S.Winter/ NatGeo

COTW: The Corroborated Whistleblower Complaint

Latest: AP reports that a second State Department official overheard a presidential phone call from gumba Gordon Sondland that was revealed by Ambassador Taylor in his televised testimony, yesterday. Taylor referred to his aide David Holmes, who has been summoned by the House Intelligence Committee.  The second witness to overhear the conversation is Suriya Jayantia, a career staffer based in Kiev.  She no doubt will also be called to testify, adding more evidence of Trumpillini's personal attempt to extort an investigation of Joe Biden from Ukraine in return for release of appropriated military aid.  The aid was eventually released, but only after OMB's withholding, directed by the Orange King, was discovered by senators.*

Current and former U.S. officials say Sondland’s use of a cellphone in a public place in Ukraine to speak with anyone in the U.S. government back home about sensitive matters, let alone the president, would be a significant breach of communications security. Fiona Hill, who served as the senior director for Russia at the National Security Council, said in a private hearing she found it [Sondland's lack of compliance with security protocol] deeply concerning and asked for someone from the Intelligence Bureau to “sit down with him and explain that this was a counterintelligence risk.” As usual, when Don Veto was asked about Sondland's communication, he could "not recall" the phone call that closely ties him to the Ukraine bribery scheme, "not even a little bit".  Perhaps his memory should be refreshed in public?  As Nancy put it succinctly, "If the president has something that is exculpatory--Mr. President, that means if you have anything that shows your innocence--then he should make that known. That’s part of the inquiry. And so far we haven’t seen that. But we welcome it.”  So does the nation.

{12/11/2019} For those political junkies out there getting ready to binge watch the public impeachment proceedings in the House, NPR has posted a useful version of the complaint [right] that moved the needle on the Hill.  The whistleblower's letter of August 12 is annotated with testimony that corroborates its contents.  NPR says, "...[this] annotation shows, most of the complaint has been corroborated during closed-door depositions of administration officials, through public statements and from a rough transcript of the call itself, released by the White House".  Repugnants will attempt to discredit the source of the complaint, and also attempt to divert attention to the former Vice President and his son's activities in Ukraine.  These arguments have already been refuted, so the last line of defense will be that the President's extortion attempt is not impeachable; clearly an argument NOT related to reality since the word "bribery" appears in the Constitution as an impeachable offense.  An even more despicable display of partisanship is their demand that the whistleblower's identity be publicly divulged by calling him to testify even though his anonymity is protected under federal law.

*Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union who was also immersed in the bribery scheme, tried to explain to Taylor, "that President Trump is a businessman. When a businessman is about to sign a check to someone who owes him something, the businessman asks that person to pay up before signing the check.”  The only problem with that mentalityt is that Trumpillini was not closing a mid-town real estate deal, but denying help to a nation state ally against a common aggressor. Besides that crucial contextual difference, what did the Ukrainians owe Trumpillini?  Defense Department official Laura Cooper testified that the Orange King directed the freeze without informing Congress, a violation of legal requirements. Ukrainians were being killed and wounded while Trumpillini used national security as a bargaining chip.  Apparently the aid was finally released after two months when Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, threatened to block $5 billion in Pentagon spending for 2020 if the aid wasn't given to Ukraine, and after the House began an impeachment investigation.

Monday, November 11, 2019

New South Wales Burns

Seventy-seven bushfires at last count are consuming large areas of New South Wales and Queensland along the coast.  About 100 homes have been destroyed and three people are dead, but the fire toll will go higher.  The metropolis of Sydney, not usually threatened by bush fires, has been issued a 'catastrophic' fire danger warning. The fires are larger and earlier in the season than before.  The question on people's mind is: what role has global warming played in this disaster? The question cannot be answered with a simple direct cause and effect relationship, but climate conditions that favor fire outbreak have been increasing. The chart shows the increase in extreme fire conditions over time.

Widespread drought has affected much of eastern Australia, the continent's most populated area.  Above-average temperatures now occur most years and 2019 had the fifth-driest start to the year on record, and the driest since 1970. January-to-August rainfall totaled 50 percent below average, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. In some places, drier-than-average weather dates back to 2017. Australia recorded its hottest month in January 2019.  High winds the week are expected to spread fires currently burning out of control.  Climate scientists have been warning for years that global climate change will exacerbate natural disasters including the frequency and intensity of wild fires.  A warmer climate dries out natural vegetation, making easier to burn.

Australian politicians have been downplaying any connection between the current conflagration [photo: Getty Images] and global warming including the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, who has advocated for the Australian coal industry, one of the world's largest.  The deputy prime minister blamed “raving inner-city lunatics” for linking the fires to climate change on national radio.  But the the scientific evidence shows clear links between trends in Australian climate, fire danger over time, and the likelihood of an escalation in fire risk in years to come.

Friday, November 08, 2019

"Toontime: To Russia With Love

credit: Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer
This week Ambassador Sondland changed his story after giving his sworn deposition in which his account of the Ukraine exchange differed from other sworn accounts given by Ambassador William Taylor, Lt.Col. Vindmin, and George Kent¹. Faced with possible perjury charges, Sondland flipped his story in an addendum where he stated his ''recollection was refreshed", and that an investigation of the Bidens was a necessary condition for the release of approved military aid to Ukraine.  This confirmation by a Trump loyalist of a criminal conspiracy to withhold aid for political favors is actually continuation of a pattern of criminal behavior by Trump's gang that began months before the 2016 campaign. Paul Manafort, former campaign chair now convicted felon, was doing business with pro-Russia Ukrainians who had connections to the Kremlin, and knew of Russian efforts to influence US foreign policy by supporting Trump's bid for the presidency.

Candidate Trump was willing to accept Russian help, and Manafort knew this. (Trump Jr. to Russians at their Trump Tower meeting: “If it’s what you say I love it.”) That is why no one at a senior level in the campaign came forward to report Russian espionage activity to US authorities. (Trump to Stephanopolis: “I don't think in my whole life I've ever called the FBI. In my whole life....Give me a break.")   That is also why a false narrative that Ukraine was behind stealing the DNC emails was created for a cover story. There was no QPQ at that point because Il Douche was only a candidate, so all he could offer was illegal encouragement to Russian operatives working to influence the election.  (Trump to Russia: "I hope you able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing!") Once he was in power, and emboldened by the suppressed Mueller report, he attempted to extort foreign help to smear his putative 2020 political opponent. He created through his flying monkey, Rudy 'Ghouly', a shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine's government into investigating the Bidens.  The Ukrainians got the message: no investigation, no aid.²

So as much as Repugnant defenders want to minimize Trumpillini's betrayal of his oath and the Republic to a single phone call, his confessed extortion was merely a culmination of criminal conspiracy that began before his election to office three years ago.  The Trumpillini's gang in the Department of Barr nearly succeeded in burying the two year probe by a professional federal law enforcement officer, but the whole story will out as a consistent picture of deceit, disruption, collusion with a foreign power, and obstruction emerges from the public impeachment inquiry. At least that is what US Person hopes for the sake of the Republic because the adults have apparently left the room.  Public hearings begin Wednesday.

credit: Ed Wexler
1. George Kent, a State Department official present during the infamous July 25th phone call, tied Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to placing a hold on Ukraine's military aid at the direction of the Orange King. Mulvaney defied his congressional subpoena for testimony today, allowing the House impeachment inquiry to draw a negative inference of Mulvaney's participation in the extortion scheme.
2.This scenario is consistent with the facts now known, but it is also consistent with the way Don Veto took care of business in the mob-infested waters of 1980's New York construction industry.  According to the WaPo, "Throughout his early career, Trump routinely gave large campaign contributions to politicians who held sway over his projects, and he worked with mob-controlled companies and unions to build them".  In other words he played both sides of the legit fence. In 1985 he circumvented campaign finance laws to enable giving $150,000 to local candidates for office.  He did big business with S&A Concrete, a company owned by Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, boss of the Genovese crime family, and Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino family.  He was by no means alone cooperating in the pervasive corruption, but he certainly leveraged it for all it was worth, just as he has done with the office of President.