The Traitors Among Us ~ RollingStone

Donald Trump likes to call his opponents traitors — but if he’s looking for treasonous behavior, he should look within his own party

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 03: US President Donald Trump leaves number 10 Downing Street after a reception on December 3, 2019 in London, England. France and the UK signed the Treaty of Dunkirk in 1947 in the aftermath of WW2 cementing a mutual alliance in the event of an attack by Germany or the Soviet Union. The Benelux countries joined the Treaty and in April 1949 expanded further to include North America and Canada followed by Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. This new military alliance became the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The organisation grew with Greece and Turkey becoming members and a re-armed West Germany was permitted in 1955. This encouraged the creation of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact delineating the two sides of the Cold War. This year marks the 70th anniversary of NATO. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

More than a few people in Donald Trump’s immediate orbit — and Trump himself — richly and actually deserve the title of traitor.

Leon Neal/Getty Images

 

America once used the words “treason” and “traitors” only in cases of actual betrayal of our nation’s most vital secrets or interests. They were profound words, deep with meaning, grim in import, carrying with them the knowledge that the penalty for treason was death.

Be honest: The words “traitor” and “treason” don’t have the sting they once had; they’ve been devalued from mis- and over-use by this president. For Donald Trump, any opposition, either personal, ideological, or political is treason. Anyone who stands in his path betrays the Great Leader. Anyone who fails to take the knee is a traitor.

Like hearing an insult too many times drains it of its potency, Trump has diluted the power of that approbation. He has labeled loyal, dedicated Americans who served this country in the military and law enforcement as traitors, so much so that we could almost give in to the temptation to excuse it as “Trump being Trump” and let it slide like any of the other insults he vomits forth on the daily.

Which is a shame, because America is in the midst of a treason boom right now, and more than a few people in Trump’s immediate orbit — and Trump himself — richly and actually deserve the title of traitor, and the treason inherent in their acts and words is apparent.

Traitors from Benedict Arnold to Klaus Fuchs to Aldrich Ames to Robert Hanssen sold out this country for a host of reasons, all explicable and unforgivable. The intelligence community even has a handy acronym for the motivations of traitors, and one that applies readily to known cases. The acronym is MICE: Money, Ideology, Compromise, and Ego. Pick a traitor and one of those reasons will underpin their betrayal.

Add a new one to the acronym. Call it, MICE-T, with the “T” naturally standing for Trump.

Their treason isn’t executed in the old ways of secret meetings, furtive brush passes, or encrypted messages. No, the traitors of today show us their cards on cable TV, laughing and giggling over their betrayal of the oath they swore, and the security of this country, all for the political service of Donald Trump.

As the impeachment hearings have worn on and as evidence of the complete moral collapse of the Republican Party has become more and more evident, it has become quite obvious there really are traitors among us. There are elected officials who have made the decision to protect a corrupt president by embracing conspiracy theories, refusing to acknowledge sworn testimony of career foreign-service officials, and piling on to Trump’s attack of democratic institutions.

The traitors deliberately ignore the reporting, counsel, and warnings of the intelligence community when it comes to Russia’s attacks and Vladimir Putin’s vast, continuing intelligence and propaganda warfare against the United States.

The traitors — be they United States senators like John Kennedy and Lindsey Graham or columnists from the Federalist, Breitbart, and a slurry of other formally conservative media outlets — repeat the Kremlin-approved propaganda messages and tropes of that warfare, word for word.

It’s not simply treason by making common cause with a murderous autocrat in Russia, or merrily wrecking the alliances around the world that kept America relatively secure for seven decades.

Their betrayal is also to our system of government, which as imperfect — and often downright fucked up — as it is, has been remarkably capable of surviving.

The traitors talk a good game, hands over their withered hearts, about supporting the Constitution, but they’re happy to ignore it when it suits their purposes.

The traitors believe the executive branch is superior to all others and unaccountable under the law. Traitors believe the “fuck you, pay me” ethos of this president and this White House isn’t an open door to a pay-to-play political culture in Washington where everyone and everything in our government is for sale.

They defend the White House’s indefensible position of stonewalling, silencing witnesses, and refusing to testify before Congress.

Traitors keep racial arsonists like Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon in their orbit and employment. They pretend these men are selling populism and nationalism when in fact it’s just the same weaponized racism that worked so well for them in 2016.

The traitors will sit in Congressional hearings on impeachment knowing the truth about Trump’s extortion racket and of the grubby, sleazy plan Trump sent Gordon Sondland, Rudy Giuliani, et al to carry out, and tell lie after lie, the bigger the better.

The traitors cheer when Trump rides roughshod over the military chain of command and the Universal Code of Military Justice, freeing men who killed civilians, abused and violated the warrior ethos, and broke the very laws of war they swore to uphold. They’ve gone from respecting hard men carrying out tough missions to fetishizing the outliers, edge cases, and the war criminals.

You can spot the traitors simply by watching their television shows, as they look you in the eye and tell you to your face they side with Russia. Tucker Carlson wasn’t winking and nodding to the camera; it was where he’s landed politically — a pro-Putin schill on a network that looks away from their pet president’s grotesque subservience to the Russian leader who helped elect him.

The traitors are ass-deep in oligarchs, eagerly selling access to the president, the secretary of state, the attorney general, and of course, the president’s venal pack of lucky-sperm-club spawn.

And if you can’t spot the treason yet, you will soon enough. That’s the thing about spies, traitors, and those who betray their country — they rarely stay hidden forever.

Rick Wilson is a GOP political strategist and author of the forthcoming book “Running Against the Devil: The Plot to Save America From Trump — and Democrats From Themselves.”

Atmospheric rivers caused 85 percent of recent flood damage in Western U.S. ~ The Washington Post

Risks are slated to increase with global warming

A car sits underwater in a flooded neighborhood on Feb. 27 in Forestville, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

December 4 at 2:52 PM

Considering atmospheric rivers didn’t even have a rating system until earlier this year, science is making up for lost time in studying this meteorological phenomenon.

The latest research puts a price tag on the havoc wreaked in the Western United States by atmospheric rivers (ARs): a yearly average exceeding $1 billion. Atmospheric rivers are akin to airborne veins that connect the midlatitudes with the moisture-rich heart of the tropics. These channels, which can stretch for thousands of miles, contain large quantities of water vapor and deliver it in highly concentrated doses.

Atmospheric rivers are capable of carrying more than twice the volume of the Amazon. And for parts of the West, ARs bring up to half of their annual precipitation totals.

But what really caught the attention of researchers who cross-referenced four decades of insurance losses against weather records is the degree to which ARs are responsible for flooding.

“Maybe the most important policy response this research suggests would be providing post-disaster assistance to people not to rebuild, but to move to a safer community,” said study co-author Tom Corringham of the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E), part of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego.

The study, which also involved the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.


Map of atmospheric water vapor, showing an atmospheric river aimed at California on Wednesday. (University of Wisconsin)

That’s exactly what happened in the San Francisco Bay area and eastward a few days ago, when a midlatitude cyclone, brought along an AR, stalled out over the northeast Pacific Ocean. The event’s water transport wasn’t much, but its long duration (66 hours) boosted the Ralph scale rating to a 3, which is classified as strong. On the ground, more than 5 inches of precipitation fell in the Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada, with higher elevations receiving more than two feet of snow.

Damage was limited to closed highways and roads, sporadic power outages and downed trees.

The AR, following days of little movement to the north or south, has finally slid down the coast, setting up for a wet Wednesday in the Southland. Los Angeles was expecting 0.75 to 1.5 inches of rain, perhaps double that in the mountains; San Diego’s forecast called for a spritz — less than 1 inch.

And once this clears, the Golden State anticipates yet another AR — perhaps also rated as strong — arriving Thursday.

According to the study, over the past 40 years, flooding from all causes across the West has led to nearly $51 billion in damage. This was tallied by combining National Flood Insurance Program loss data from 11 states with measures of total damage from an NWS data set and a catalogue of more than 600 West Coast ARs.

Of the $42.6 billion in damage that can be pinned on ARs, nearly half that total, $23 billion, was due to just 10 such events.

Corringham also was surprised to learn the power of the relationship between an AR’s strength and how much harm it does.

Instead, historical averages show the difference to be exponential. For example, the difference between the median flood damage of an AR2 (Moderate) and an AR4 (Extreme) isn’t a doubling, but a 50-fold increase, from $400,000 to $20 million.

There’s reason to be concerned about the future of ARs, too, given studies showing that they are likely to carry more moisture as the world’s oceans and atmosphere continue to warm.

“We know from other research that the intensity of these storms is increasing due to climate change and is projected to keep increasing over the coming century,” Corringham said. “So even if it were a linear relationship, it would be quite significant.”

Without Chile’s volunteer medics ‘protesters would bleed out’ ~ Al Jazeera

Screen Shot 2019-11-29 at 8.58.21 AM.png

by

 

Santiago, Chile – A young man sits on a camp bed staring disoriented at the ground. Nurses attend to a pellet wound in his calf from where a single line of blood runs down.

A group of young people, their heads shielded by white and blue helmets, rush past carrying another young man on a stretcher. A helicopter flies above in air that is choked with tear gas, as firearms rattle in the distance.

Not far is Santiago’s Plaza Italia, the beating heart of Chile’s demonstrations, and now the centre of an increasingly violent conflict between police and protesters.

The wounded are being tended to in a makeshift medical site surrounded by artisanal stalls, all shut except for one selling keyrings and patterned bags – in the distant hope that a tourist might pass by and they could make a sale.

But tourists are unlikely as violent protests in the capital over growing inequality and the government crackdown on demonstrators continue.

Chile medics
Volunteer medical personnel hold a shield during a protest against Chile’s government in Santiago, Chile [Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

 

The protests erupted a month ago, initially as a student action against a metro fare hike. They have since mushroomed into widespread demonstrations across the country over the country’s economic model, as well as the government crackdown against the protesters.

At least 23 people have died, including five killed by police and military forces during the now-lifted state of emergency last month. Thousands more have been wounded – more than 220 of whom have been blinded or partially blinded by pellets or other projectiles.

On the front line, protesters are in a deadlock with police who confront them with tear gas and water cannon, and shoot firearms, while protesters fight back by throwing stones or setting up barricades.

And in their middle is a group of volunteers, all medically trained – some professionals, other students – who call themselves “the Brigada”. Similar self-organised groups are working across the country.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

I was a juror in Roger Stone’s trial. I am proud of how we came to our decision ~ The Washington Post

Roger Stone, left, and his wife, Nydia Stone, leave federal court in Washington on Nov. 15 after Stone was found guilty of lying under oath. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
Roger Stone, left, and his wife, Nydia Stone, leave federal court in Washington on Nov. 15 after Stone was found guilty of lying under oath. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)
November 22, 2019 at 1:42 p.m. MST

 

Seth Cousins was juror Number 3 in the Roger Stone trial.

During the first half of November, I made a brief journey with 14 fellow Americans, all of them strangers to me. Together we were the 12 jurors (and two alternates) sitting in judgment of longtime political consultant Roger Stone. We sat through five days of testimony and half a day of closing arguments. After eight hours of deliberation, we returned guilty verdicts on each of the seven counts we were charged to consider.

Since we delivered that verdict, I have been taken aback by the accounts of pundits and politicians that our decision was somehow the product of a deeply polarized, partisan divide. Let me be clear: We did not convict Stone based on his political beliefs or his expression of those beliefs. We did not convict him of being intemperate or acting boorishly. We convicted him of obstructing a congressional investigation, of lying in five specific ways during his sworn congressional testimony and of tampering with a witness in that investigation.

Stone found guilty: The colorful, weird and bizarre parts of the indictment, explained Roger Stone was found guilty on Nov. 15 of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice over remarks about WikiLeaks’ 2016 email releases. (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

Interest in this case was high, and the court took special steps to prevent us from being harassed or improperly influenced. Each morning, we assembled at a building several blocks away and made our way to the parking garage, where federal marshals would load us into vans with tinted windows for the trip to court. On arrival, we moved through the building via a freight elevator and back corridors.

The evidence in this case was substantial and almost entirely uncontested. Stone’s testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in September 2017 was a matter of record; both the prosecution and defense agreed on the facts. The real dispute was whether Stone had lied under oath and whether that mattered. The defense offered by Stone’s attorney can be summed up in to two words: So what?

Our unanimous conclusion was this: The truth matters. Telling the truth under oath matters. At a time when so much of our public discourse is based on deception or just lies, it is more important than ever that we still have places where the truth can be presented, examined and discerned. Congress is one of those places. That’s what the case was about.

I believe I speak for my fellow jurors when I say we are proud of our decision. We listened carefully to the testimony of a series of witnesses and carefully examined every element of every charge and its defense, and we unanimously agreed that each had been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. We came close to rejecting one charge that we believed was written ambiguously; our question was whether Stone had actually made a particular statement. In the end, we were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Stone had in fact made that statement. Almost half of our day-long deliberation was devoted to this single question.

After the trial was over, Judge Amy Berman Jackson came to the jury room to thank us for our service. This was the only time any of us had any contact with her outside of the courtroom. We talked as a group for several minutes. One of my fellow jurors expressed the following sentiment, which sums up my feelings and, I believe, those of my fellow jurors: I love America, and this experience has made me love it even more. At the end of our jury service, the marshals drove us back to our meeting point one more time, and the jury went out for lunch as a group.

At a time when Americans are increasingly distrustful of their institutions, I am thankful that our legal system affords a fair and open process by which one’s peers critically examine the facts. To denigrate that process is undemocratic and dangerous. While I know not everyone will respect the outcomes that I played a part in, I also know that does not matter. What matters is the truth and the process for discovering it. What matters is the power held by a randomly selected group of citizens fulfilling a duty that goes back centuries.

Lindsey Graham Is a Coward

Trump’s ally in the Senate snubbed a veteran who asked him about the president’s conduct in office

House Republicans spent the week rhetorically hiding from a mountain of evidence that President Trump sought to extort Ukraine into helping him in the 2020 election. Over in the Senate, Lindsay Graham took a slightly different tact: physically hiding from an Iraq War veteran who had concerns about the commander-in-chief.

On Friday morning, Graham was confronted on Capitol Hill by Jeff Key, who engaged the senator about as respectfully as possible. Graham couldn’t handle it. Here’s the exchange:

KEY: “I see how you’re berated in the press and I honestly believe that you believe in our democracy.”

GRAHAM: “I do.”

KEY: “I’m a Marine, I went to Iraq. I believe as I believe that you do that President Trump is not acting in accordance to his oath, the oath that you took and I did to defend the Constitution.”

GRAHAM: [unintelligible stammering]

KEY: “You took an oath.”

GRAHAM: “Yeah I did, I don’t agree with you, I gotta go.”

Graham then abruptly turned his back on Key and disappeared behind a closed door. “Is that it?” Key said as Graham retreated. “That’s it,” the senator said before closing the door behind him.

Like his Republican colleagues, Graham has been unable to address the substance of the impeachment inquiry, instead opting to bash the process and indulge conspiracy theories about Deep State efforts to take down the president.

 

Sadly, his deflection efforts aren’t limited to cable TV hits. On Thursday, Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, launched a probe into Joe Biden’s relationship with Ukraine. The investigation comes a month after he was pressured to begin one by Trump and his allies. He refrained from doing so at the time, he explained to the Washington Post, because didn’t want to “turn the Senate into a circus.”

THE GROWING AVALANCHES OF GLOBAL WARMING ~ Ascent Magazine

 Dick Dorworth     

 

In April 2019 two houses a couple of miles west of Ketchum, Idaho on the Board Ranch were completely destroyed by an avalanche. Both houses had been built more than 50 years earlier, were pushed off their foundations by the 40 feet of avalanche debris filled with trees from the slide path and, fortunately, were unoccupied at the time. There were no injuries. Long-time residents of the Board Ranch said they had never seen avalanches of such magnitude.

U.S. Highway 550 between Silverton and Ouray, Colorado, is often called the “Million Dollar Highway” and “The most dangerous road in America” because it was constructed in precarious terrain, the avalanches that consistently covers it and the high cost of building and maintaining the road and clearing it of avalanches. On March 3, 2019 Phil Maeir, a driver for the Colorado Department of Transportation, was clearing a winding section of 550 outside Ouray when, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, “…around every bend, was a new avalanche bigger than the last. Near the turnoff to Engineer Pass at County Road 18, a stretch of asphalt he had never seen touched by a slide was inundated with snow…..’I got it open in a couple tries, but then I went around another turn and another big one (avalanche) run right up on top of the truck and stuck it,’ Maeir said. ‘I couldn’t go nowhere.…Under the dark night sky, everything went white.’ Snow as heavy as cement caked the windshield, the side windows, even over the hood. He wanted to hop out to orient himself, but he feared he might step off the edge of the Million Dollar Highway and into the Uncompahgre River roaring hundreds of feet below. He pleaded over the radio for a patrolman to rescue him and for the region’s avalanche forecaster to stay with him as he watched himself get buried. ‘Ann (the forecaster) was yelling back, ‘Hang on! Hang on! We’re coming for you. We’ll find you.’ I reversed back and forth, back and forth, and finally punched through.” He stepped on the gas and gunned it back to the safety of CDOT’s shop near the Ouray Ice Park. For the next two hours, until nearly 1 a.m., his hands could not stop trembling. “That night was what I imagine hell is like,” he said.

Adam Voiland reported on NASA’s Earth Observatory blog: “In July 2016, the lower portion of a valley glacier in the Aru Range of Tibet detached and barreled into a nearby valley, killing nine people and hundreds of animals. The huge avalanche, one of the largest scientists had ever seen, sent a tongue of debris spreading across 9 square kilometers (3 square miles). With debris reaching speeds of 140 kilometers (90 miles) per hour, the avalanche was remarkably fast for its size.

“Researchers were initially baffled about how it had happened. The glacier was on a nearly flat slope that was too shallow to cause avalanches, especially fast-moving ones. What’s more, the collapse happened at an elevation where permafrost was widespread; it should have securely anchored the glacier to the surface.

“Two months later, it happened again — this time to a glacier just a few kilometers away. One gigantic avalanche was unusual; two in a row was unprecedented. The second collapse raised even more questions. Had an earthquake played a role in triggering them? Did climate change play a role? Should we expect more of these mega-avalanches?”

In February 2019 what was called by Chris Carr “A hundred year avalanche” came down California’s Mt. Shasta, which has throughout recorded history hosted more snow and avalanches than most mountains in the west. Carr, co-owner with his wife Jenn of Shasta Mountain Guides, has guided on Shasta for more than 25 years and said he had never seen anything like it. He told Redding’s Record Searchlight newspaper, “The most unique thing was how low that wall of snow was, much further down than anything I had ever experienced,” Carr said. “It was so startling how low it was and how big it was.”

The slide started at about 12,000 foot elevation on the west side of the mountain and dropped 5,000 feet over four miles, carving a 300 foot wide swath of destruction, ripping out hundreds of trees and leaving 40 foot walls of snow and trees on both sides of its path. Fortunately, the Everett Memorial Highway that goes from the town of Mt. Shasta to the trailhead on the west side was closed and no people were in the path of the hundred year avalanche.

On April 18, 2014 an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall on the Nepal side of Mt. Everest killed 16 Sherpa climbing guides and porters in the deadliest disaster in that mountain’s deadly history. According to Scientific American Magazine, “Rising global temperatures have shrunk the total area of Nepal’s glaciers by almost a quarter between 1977 and 2010, with an average of 38 sq. km (14.67 sq. miles) vanishing every year, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), based in the Nepali capital, says in a report.

“Besides bringing harsher and more frequent floods, avalanches and landslides affecting millions of people living in remote mountain villages, such changes could also hit adventure-seeking trekkers, the report’s lead author says.

“’The frequency of avalanches like the one that struck at the Everest base camp last month may increase due to global warming,’ Samjwal Bajracharya, lead author of the report, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”

In February 2019 Reuters reported: “Icy Arctic islands north of Norway are warming faster than almost anywhere on Earth and more avalanches, rain and mud may cause “devastating” changes by 2100, a Norwegian report said on Monday.

“The thaw on the remote Svalbard islands, home to 2,300 people and where the main village of Longyearbyen is 1,300 kms (800 miles) from the North Pole, highlights risks in other parts of the Arctic from Alaska to Siberia.

“Average temperatures on Svalbard have leapt between three and five degrees Celsius (5.4-9.0 Fahrenheit) since the early 1970s and could rise by a total of 10C (18F) by 2100 if world greenhouse gas emissions keep climbing, the study said.

“Almost 200 governments promised in the 2015 Paris climate agreement to limit a rise in average global temperatures to “well below” 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times by 2100. Worldwide, temperatures are up about 1C (1.8F).

“On Svalbard, the envisaged rise in temperatures would thaw the frozen ground underpinning many buildings, roads and airports, cause more avalanches, “slushflows” and landslides, melt glaciers and threaten wildlife such as polar bears and seals that rely on sea ice to hunt.

“A 10 degree warming, with the implications for Arctic nature, ice-dependent species, will be devastating,” Climate and Environment Minister Ola Elvestuen told Reuters.”

It goes on and on and on as average global temperatures go up and up and up and avalanches come down and down and down. The few examples described above are indicative of what is happening everywhere on Earth where snow accumulates. It is safe to posit that it is only going to get worse and less predictable.

In the big picture of the consequences of human caused global warming to planet earth and everything that lives upon it, the increase in size and number of avalanches are a small portent of a larger catastrophe we have brought upon ourselves and our home. But for those of us who reside near or visit avalanche terrain and for whom snow is integral to the way we live, the growing avalanches of global warming are as threatening as rising seas are to those living close to their shores. Acknowledging the reality of human caused global climate change and learning as much as possible about its causes and possible consequences is a sane first step to dealing with them, and acknowledging and learning about the causes and consequences of modern avalanches is a sane first step to life in today’s mountains. Alas, that necessary first step is more difficult to make in America than any other country on Earth. Everyone reading this is aware that U.S. President Donald Trump and his minions in government and business are deniers of human caused global warming, though it is an open question whether Trump and his government lackeys are actually the minions of the Koch Brothers and others business entities with better known names. Either way, the majority of the most knowledgeable people about avalanches in America work in some capacity for the U.S. government, and they have been told by those higher up the chain of command that they are not to talk to the press about climate change, including its effects on avalanches.

So…..In the current heated climate of American government thought police, attempting to find sane answers to the reality of current avalanches (or, it can be assumed, the reality of anything) from U.S. government sources is going to be difficult, discouraging, even futile.

As Bob Dylan, one of America’s greatest poets put it more than 50 years ago:

 

Johnny’s in the basement mixin’ up the medicine

I’m on the pavement thinkin’ about the government

And

Keep a clean nose, watch the plainclothes

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

 

And you don’t need an avalanche expert to know which way the avalanche flows. If you spend time in the mountains it’s flowing towards you. Ask Phil Maeir or the families of the 16 Sherpas killed on Everest in 2014 how that feels. Don’t ask the thought police or the human caused climate change deniers who employ them. They cannot be trusted with your thoughts, feelings or access to honest information that will help you make decisions about how to live sanely and safely on Earth, in avalanche terrain and elsewhere. In my opinion, you cannot trust them with anything.

 

Fortunately, you do not need to trust them with your thoughts and feelings, and honest information about the growing avalanches of global warming is readily available to the inquisitive researcher. Every avalanche center in America is filled with reliable daily information about the current local snow, weather and avalanche conditions and the history of all the days of the center’s existence. Sometimes it’s easier to find information outside the local avalanche centers, information to give you a larger understanding of the bigger picture. Just last season Colorado had 750 % of the average snow on the ground in June compared to the historical average. The Sierra Nevada received 188% of average snow last year. Both of these examples of heavy snowfall are anomalies, as the overall yearly snowfalls have consistently declined in America over the past 50 years. In the Sierra Nevada the average amount of precipitation has decreased on average about 1.2% each year, and more of that is falling as rain than in earlier times. That is, extreme weather swings is the new normal. That’s how Colorado can have 750% of average yearly snowfall, yet snowfall is declining throughout the U.S. Most but not all of the people who have the most knowledge about America’s avalanche conditions and potential and history work for those avalanche centers. While they are not officially allowed to speak to the press about global warming’s effect on avalanches, it is their job to keep the public informed about current avalanche conditions in the areas of their responsibility and to keep records of those conditions. Those records, unlike the speech of those who keep them, are open to the public. Since the government which in theory should work on behalf of its citizens is incapacitated by the current administration, it is the public’s responsibility to have the courage to defy, protest against, undermine and, one might hope without much hope and against all indications, educatethat administration and its thought police about the reality of human caused global climate change, its causes and what we know so far of its consequences. A (very) few of the avalanche consequences are mentioned at the beginning of this article which is one of my own personal contributions to defying and, one can still hope, educating the Trumpers about the heartless stupidity and cowardliness of denial. What are your contributions, esteemed reader? Don’t be like one of the eleven poltroon Republican members of the Oregon State Senate who ran away last summer from their jobs as elected public servants and hid in neighboring states in order to avoid voting on a climate bill. Do your jobs, fellow citizens of mountain living, protest stupidity, educate the ignorant; help keep everyone, including pathetic deniers, out of the paths of the growing avalanches of global warming.

The Double-Barreled Dream World of Trump and His Enablers ~ NYT

They wanted to take down Biden. But they also wanted to absolve Moscow of election meddling.

 

By Glenn R. Simpson and

Mr. Simpson and Mr. Fritsch are the founders of Fusion GPS.

Credit…Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

 

 

The Ukraine scandal now unfolding in congressional impeachment hearings has at its core a Shakespearean twist: President Trump, abetted by his paladins of spin, has trapped himself in an alternate universe. To undermine the well-established fact that Russia corrupted the 2016 vote to help him win, Mr. Trump and his allies have tried to build a fiction that pins those crimes on Ukraine.

In so doing, he has confirmed our darkest fears. The president’s bid to solicit foreign help to impugn a domestic political rival in 2019 should wipe away any doubts about his willingness to do the same with Russian help in 2016.

Mr. Trump and his enablers — Rudolph Giuliani foremost among them — have scrambled all year to do two deeds at once. They want to besmirch Joe Biden, without foundation, for supposedly using his office as vice president to protect his son Hunter, who served until recently on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. And they want to reinvent what happened in 2016 so as to switch the blame for the election meddling from Moscow to Kyiv.

Congress is rightly focused on the quid pro quo demands that Mr. Trump was making of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to further his own personal political interests. But the effort to rewrite the history of 2016 is no less insidious.

We’re living through Earth’s second-hottest year, NOAA finds


Global land and ocean temperature departures from average during October 2019. (NOAA)

November 19 at 8:15 PM

This year is increasingly likely to be the planet’s second- or third-warmest calendar year on record since modern temperature data collection began in 1880, according to data released this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

This reflects the growing influence of long-term, human-caused global warming and is especially noteworthy, as there was an absence of a strong El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean this year. Such events are typically associated with the hottest years, since they boost global ocean temperatures and add large amounts of heat to the atmosphere across the Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest.

According to a new report released Monday, there’s about an 85 percent chance that the year will wind up ranking as the second-warmest in NOAA’s data set, with a possibility that it slips to No. 3. Overall, though, it’s virtually certain (greater than a 99 percent chance) that 2019 will wind up being a top-five-warmest year for the globe.

NOAA found the average global land and ocean surface temperature for October was 1.76 degrees (0.98 degrees Celsius) above the 20th-century average, 0.11 of a degree shy of the record warm October set in 2015.

Remarkably, the 10 warmest Octobers have occurred since 2003, and the top-five warmest such months have taken place since 2015.

October 2019 was the 43rd-straight October to be warmer than the 20th-century average, and the 418th straight warmer-than-average month. This means anyone younger than 34 has not lived through a cooler-than-average year from a global standpoint.

So far this year, global land and ocean temperatures have come in at 1.69 degrees (0.94 Celsius) above the 20th-century average, 0.16 of a degree cooler than the record warmest year-to-date, set in 2016, NOAA found.

Other agencies that track global temperatures may rank 2019 slightly differently than NOAA will, although their overall data is likely to be similar. NASA, for example, interpolates temperatures across the data-sparse Arctic by assuming the temperatures regionwide are similar to their closest observation location. NOAA, on the other hand, leaves parts of the Arctic out of its data.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

Great news for Chile! ~ AL JAZEERA

Chile to hold referendum on new constitution

In a win for protesters, government agrees for vote to be held in April 2020 on replacing the Pinochet-era constitution.

A new constitution has been one of the key demands of protesters [Jorge Silva/Reuters]
A new constitution has been one of the key demands of protesters [Jorge Silva/Reuters]

 

 

Chile has said it will stage a referendum to replace the country’s dictatorship-era constitution next year, conceding to a key demand of protesters after nearly a month of violent civil unrest.

The current charter, in force since 1980 and enacted by the military government of Augusto Pinochet, has been amended numerous times in the years since.

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However, it does not establish the state’s responsibility to provide education and healthcare, two demands made by the millions of Chileans who have taken to the streets.

Legislators in Chile’s National Congress agreed on Friday to hold the plebiscite in April 2020 after hours of negotiations between the governing coalition and opposition parties.

“This agreement is a first step, but it is a historic and fundamental first step to start building our new social pact, and in this, the citizenry will have a leading role,” said Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel.

The referendum will ask voters whether the constitution should be replaced and if so, how a new charter should be drafted, Senate President Jaime Quintana said.

It will propose three different models for a body to devise a new constitution, made up of either fully elected representatives, political appointees or an equal mix of both.

If elections to the body are needed, they will be held in October 2020 to coincide with regional and municipal ballots.

“We are happy to have been able to participate in an agreement that defeats violence,” said Jacqueline van Rysselberghe, leader of the right-wing Independent Democratic Union, the largest party in President Sebastian Pinera’s governing coalition.

Social fractures

The announcement came as thousands took to the streets on Thursday to mark a year since Camilo Catrillanca, a young indigenous man, was shot dead by police in Ercilla, a town south of Santiago.

The unrest that began on October 18 with protests against a rise in rush-hour metro fares has mushroomed into a broader outcry against the status quo, with burning, looting and daily confrontations between demonstrators and police.

Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman, reporting from the capital Santiago on Thursday, said there were further clashes between protesters and riot police who were using pepper spray and water cannon as demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails.

Chile protests
There have been frequent clashes between police and demonstrators during the almost-four-week protests [Goran Tomasevic/Reuters]

 

The crisis is Chile’s biggest since its return to democracy in 1990, leaving 20 dead – five at the hands of state forces – and more than 1,000 injured.

Security forces have been accused of torturing protesters, with a public prosecutor announcing his intent to investigate 14 police officers over abuse claims.

Protesters cite low wages, high costs for education and healthcare and a yawning gap between rich and poor in a country dominated politically and economically by a few elite families.

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Chile’s Pinera fends off police abuse claims amid fresh clashes

Demonstrators have demanded greater social reform from the government led by Pinera, who has announced several measures in a bid to appease the public mood.

After weeks of sometimes violent demonstrations, most polls show the protest movement is supported by 75 percent of Chileans.

A slightly larger number – 87 percent, according to a survey by pollster Cadem published this month – say they favour the protesters’ demand for constitutional reforms.

A few days after Pinera became president last year, his government announced it would not allow the consideration of a bill to amend the constitution that his socialist predecessor Michelle Bachelet had submitted to Congress.

 

 

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How America Ends ~The Atlantic

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This is a long story but worth reading .. A good historical/opinion piece.  rŌbert

 

By Yoni Applebalm

Democracy depends on the consent of the losers. For most of the 20th century, parties and candidates in the United States have competed in elections with the understanding that electoral defeats are neither permanent nor intolerable. The losers could accept the result, adjust their ideas and coalitions, and move on to fight in the next election. Ideas and policies would be contested, sometimes viciously, but however heated the rhetoric got, defeat was not generally equated with political annihilation. The stakes could feel high, but rarely existential. In recent years, however, beginning before the election of Donald Trump and accelerating since, that has changed.

“Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice, and rage,” Trump told the crowd at his reelection kickoff event in Orlando in June. “They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it.” This is the core of the president’s pitch to his supporters: He is all that stands between them and the abyss.

In October, with the specter of impeachment looming, he fumed on Twitter, “What is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People, their VOTE, their Freedoms, their Second Amendment, Religion, Military, Border Wall, and their God-given rights as a Citizen of The United States of America!” For good measure, he also quoted a supporter’s dark prediction that impeachment “will cause a Civil War like fracture in this Nation from which our Country will never heal.”

Trump’s apocalyptic rhetoric matches the tenor of the times. The body politic is more fractious than at any time in recent memory. Over the past 25 years, both red and blue areas have become more deeply hued, with Democrats clustering in cities and suburbs and Republicans filling in rural areas and exurbs. In Congress, where the two caucuses once overlapped ideologically, the dividing aisle has turned into a chasm.

As partisans have drifted apart geographically and ideologically, they’ve become more hostile toward each other. In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. As hostility rises, Americans’ trust in political institutions, and in one another, is declining. A study released by the Pew Research Center in July found that only about half of respondents believed their fellow citizens would accept election results no matter who won. At the fringes, distrust has become centrifugal: Right-wing activists in Texas and left-wing activists in California have revived talk of secession.

Recent research by political scientists at Vanderbilt University and other institutions has found both Republicans and Democrats distressingly willing to dehumanize members of the opposite party. “Partisans are willing to explicitly state that members of the opposing party are like animals, that they lack essential human traits,” the researchers found. The president encourages and exploits such fears. This is a dangerous line to cross. As the researchers write, “Dehumanization may loosen the moral restraints that would normally prevent us from harming another human being.”

Outright political violence remains considerably rarer than in other periods of partisan divide, including the late 1960s. But overheated rhetoric has helped radicalize some individuals. Cesar Sayoc, who was arrested for targeting multiple prominent Democrats with pipe bombs, was an avid Fox News watcher; in court filings, his lawyers said he took inspiration from Trump’s white-supremacist rhetoric. “It is impossible,” they wrote, “to separate the political climate and [Sayoc’s] mental illness.” James Hodgkinson, who shot at Republican lawmakers (and badly wounded Representative Steve Scalise) at a baseball practice, was a member of the Facebook groups Terminate the Republican Party and The Road to Hell Is Paved With Republicans. In other instances, political protests have turned violent, most notably in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a Unite the Right rally led to the murder of a young woman. In Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere, the left-wing “antifa” movement has clashed with police. The violence of extremist groups provides ammunition to ideologues seeking to stoke fear of the other side.

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