What part of this story is more pathetic: That a Colorado newspaper published an op-ed from the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party praising Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner for his “most bipartisan and effective” representation of even state Democrats and independents, or that Gardner approvingly tweeted out the gaslighting effort?
And it may be messing with our weather.
Ice is melting in unprecedented ways as summer approaches in the Arctic. In recent days, observations have revealed a record-challenging melt event over the Greenland ice sheet, while the extent of ice over the Arctic Ocean has never been this low in mid-June during the age of weather satellites.
Greenland saw temperatures soar up to 40 degrees above normal Wednesday, while open water exists in places north of Alaska where it seldom, if ever, has in recent times.
It’s “another series of extreme events consistent with the long-term trend of a warming, changing Arctic,” said Zachary Labe, a climate researcher at the University of California at Irvine.
And the abnormal warmth and melting of ice in the Arctic may be messing with our weather.
Greenland ice sheet
Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the Greenland ice sheet appears to have witnessed its biggest melt event so early in the season on record this week (although a few other years showed similar mid-June melting).
“The melting is big and early,” said Jason Box, an ice climatologist at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland.
Box explained that temperatures over the western Greenland ice sheet have been abnormally high while snow has been well below normal.
Marco Tedesco, an ice researcher at Columbia University, added that it has been unusually warm in east and central Greenland, as well. “This has triggered widespread melting that has reached about 45 percent of the ice sheet,” he wrote in an email.
Normally, melting this widespread over the ice sheet doesn’t occur until midsummer, if even then.
A simulation from the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting suggested that temperatures over Greenland may have peaked at around 40 degrees above normal on Wednesday.
A big dome of high pressure has positioned itself over Greenland, resulting in sunny skies and mild temperatures, which have enabled melting. An automated weather station at the top of Greenland’s ice sheet topped freezing on June 12, a very rare event, which last occurred in July 2012.
2012 is the notorious year in which the Greenland ice sheet witnessed the most melting on record. Those monitoring the ice sheet say melting in 2019 could rival it.
Weather in the coming months will determine how much more the ice sheet melts and whether 2019 is a record-setter. If high pressure holds in place, “we should break a new record,” tweeted Xavier Fettweis, a climatologist at the University of Liège in Belgium.
But scientists studying the region know that Greenland’s weather is highly variable and can change rapidly.
Mike MacFerrin, a glaciologist at the University of Colorado, put it this way in a tweet: “2019 has been… anomalous… so far, but also quite variable. It’s early and weather is weather, so keep your eyes peeled. …”
Chris Hedges gave this talk Tuesday, June 11, at an event held in London in support of Julian Assange.
Ask the Iraqi parents of Sabiha Hamed Salih, aged 15, and Ashwaq Hamed Salih, aged 16, who were killed by shrapnel in Baghdad on July 31, 2004, what they think of Julian Assange.
Ask the man and his two young daughters who saw their wife and mother shot to death and were themselves wounded in a car fired upon by U.S. Marines in Fallujah on July 22, 2005, what they think of Julian Assange.
Ask the parents of Huda Haleem, an 18-year-old girl, and Raghad Muhamad Haleem, a 5-year-old boy, shot dead by U.S. soldiers on June 2, 2006, in Iraq’s Diyala province what they think of Julian Assange.
Ask the parents of the 15-year-old boy choked with a wire and then shot to death by U.S. Marines in Ramadi on Aug. 10, 2006, what they think of Julian Assange.
Ask the relatives of Ahmed Salam Mohammad, who was shot dead on Nov. 27, 2006, when U.S. troops attacked a wedding party near Mosul, an attack that also left four wounded, what they think of Julian Assange.
Ask the families of the over one dozen people shot to death with .50-caliber machine guns by bantering U.S. Apache helicopter crews in east Baghdad in July 2007—the crew members can be heard laughing at the “dead bastards” and saying “light ’em up” and “keep shooting, keep shooting”—a massacre that included two journalists for Reuters—Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh—what they think of Julian Assange. Ask the then 10-year-old Sajad Mutashar and his 5-year-old sister, Doaha, both wounded, whose 43-year-old father, Saleh, was shot to death from the air as he attempted to assist one of the wounded men in the Baghdad street what they think of Julian Assange.
There is nothing like the boot of the oppressor on your neck to give you moral clarity.
None of these war crimes, and hundreds more reported to the U.S. military but never investigated, would have been made public without Julian, Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks. That is the role of journalists—to give a voice to those who without us would have no voice, to hold the powerful to account, to give the forgotten and the demonized justice, to speak the truth.
We have watched over the last decade as freedom of the press and legal protection for those who expose government abuses and lies have been obliterated by wholesale government surveillance and the criminalizing of the leaking and, with Julian’s persecution, publication of these secrets. The press has been largely emasculated in the United States. The repeated use of the Espionage Act, especially under the Obama administration, to charge and sentence whistleblowers has shut down our ability to shine a light into the inner workings of power and empire. Governmental officials with a conscience, knowing all of their communications are monitored, captured and stored by intelligence agencies, are too frightened to reach out to reporters. The last line of defense lies with those with the skills that allow them to burrow into the records of the security and surveillance state and with the courage to make them public, such as Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Jeremy Hammond, now serving a 10-year prison term in the United States for hacking into the Texas-based private security firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor. The price of resistance is high not only for them, but for those such as Julian willing to publish this information. As Sarah Harrison has pointed out: “This is our data, our information, our history. We must fight to own it.”
Even if Julian were odious, which he is not, even if he carried out a sexual offense, which he did not, even if he was a poor houseguest—a bizarre term for a man trapped in a small room for nearly seven years under house arrest—which he was not, it would make no difference. Julian is not being persecuted for his vices. He is being persecuted for his virtues.
His arrest eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities carried by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments in the seizure of Julian two months ago from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by the global ruling elite will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power, no matter what their nationality, will be hunted down around the globe and seized, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where journalism is outlawed and replaced with propaganda, trivia, entertainment and indoctrination to make us hate those demonized by the state as our enemies.
The arrest of Julian marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism and constant state surveillance, now far advanced in China, that will soon define our lives. The destruction of all protection of the rule of law, which is what we are witnessing, is essential to establishing an authoritarian or totalitarian state.
The BBC China correspondent Stephen McDonell was locked out of WeChatin China a few days ago after posting photos of the candlelight vigil in Hong Kong marking 30 years since student protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square were gunned down by Chinese soldiers in June 1989.
“Chinese friends started asking on WeChat what the event was?” he wrote. “Why were people gathering? Where was it? That such questions were coming from young professionals here shows the extent to which knowledge of Tiananmen 1989 has been made to disappear in China. I answered a few of them, rather cryptically, then suddenly I was locked out of WeChat.”
In order to get back on WeChat he had to agree that he was responsible for spreading “malicious rumors” and provide what is called a faceprint.
“I was instructed to hold my phone up—to ‘face front camera straight on’—looking directly at the image of a human head. Then told to ‘Read numbers aloud in Mandarin Chinese.’ My voice was captured by the App at the same time it scanned my face.”
Governmental abuse of WeChat, he wrote, “could deliver to the Communist Party a life map of pretty much everybody in this country, citizens and foreigners alike. Capturing the face and voice image of everyone who was suspended for mentioning the Tiananmen crackdown anniversary in recent days would be considered very useful for those who want to monitor anyone who might potentially cause problems.”
This is almost certainly our future, and it is a future that Julian has fought courageously to prevent.
In another sign the noose is tightening, the offices of the Australian Broadcasting Corp., the country’s national broadcaster, were raided by federal police last Wednesday. The raid was carried out because the broadcaster had disclosed detailed accounts of Australian special forces in Afghanistan killing unarmed people, including children. That story was generated, in part, by a leak of hundreds of classified military documents. The police raid and search through raw footage and thousands of files, emails and internal documents appear to be part of a hunt for the source, who will, no doubt, be arrested and imprisoned.
Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno capriciously terminate Julian’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy—diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory—to arrest a nationalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Julian, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did Donald Trump demand the extradition of Julian, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States?
The psychological torture of Julian—documented by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and ill treatment, Nils Melzer—mirrors the breaking of the dissident Winston Smith at the end of the novel “1984.” It is said the Gestapo broke bones and the East German Stasi secret police broke souls. Today, we too have refined the cruder forms of torture of the Gestapo. We break souls as well as bodies. It is more effective. This is why Julian, his physical and psychological health in serious decline, has been moved to a prison hospital. We can all be taken to George Orwell’s dreaded Room 101 to be made compliant and harmless. These “special administrative measures”—and you can be sure there are American intelligence operatives here assisting the British in the psychological torture of Julian—have destroyed thousands of detainees in black sites around the globe. These techniques, including prolonged solitary confinement, are the staple form of control in maximum-security prisons in the United States, where the corporate state makes war on its most oppressed and politically astute underclass—African Americans.
There has been a coordinated smear campaign against Julian by our Thought Police, one that is amplified by the very media organizations that published WikiLeaks material. The campaign was detailed in a leaked Pentagon document prepared by the Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch and dated March 8, 2008. The document called for eradicating the “feeling of trust” that is WikiLeaks’ “center of gravity” and destroying Julian’s reputation.
This character assassination was championed by the Democratic Party establishment after WikiLeaks published 70,000 hacked emails copied from the accounts of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman. The Podesta emails exposed the donation of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the major funders of Islamic State, to the Clinton Foundation. It exposed the $657,000 that Goldman Sachs paid to Hillary Clinton to give talks, a sum so large it can only be considered a bribe. It exposed Clinton’s repeated mendacity. She was caught in the emails, for example, telling the financial elites that she wanted “open trade and open borders” and believed Wall Street executives were best positioned to manage the economy, a statement that contradicted her campaign statements. It exposed the Clinton campaign’s efforts to influence the Republican primaries to ensure that Trump was the Republican nominee. It exposed Clinton’s advance knowledge of questions in a primary debate. It exposed Clinton as the principal architect of the war in Libya, a war she believed would burnish her credentials as a presidential candidate. Journalists can argue that this information, like the war logs provided to WikiLeaks by Chelsea Manning, should have remained hidden, that the public did not have a right to know, but they can’t then call themselves journalists.
WikiLeaks has done more to expose the abuses of power and crimes of the American Empire than any other news organization. In addition to the war logs and the Podesta emails, it made public the hacking tools used by the CIA and the National Security Agency and their interference in foreign elections, including in the French elections. It disclosed the internal conspiracy against British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members of Parliament. It intervened to save Snowden from extradition to the United States by helping him flee from Hong Kong to Moscow after he made public the wholesale surveillance of the American public by our intelligence agencies. The Snowden leaks also revealed that Julian was on a U.S. “manhunt target list.”
We must build popular movements to force the British government to halt the extradition and judicial lynching of Julian. We must build popular movements to force the Australian government to intervene on behalf of Julian. We must build popular movements to reclaim democracy and the rule of law. If Julian is extradited and tried, it will create a legal precedent that will terminate the ability of the press, which Donald Trump has attacked as “the enemy of the people,” to hold power accountable. The crimes of war and finance, the persecution of dissidents, minorities and immigrants, the pillaging of the ecosystem and the ruthless impoverishment of working men and women to swell the profits of corporations and consolidate the global oligarchs’ total grip on power will no longer be part of public debate. First Julian. Then us.
UTQIAGVIK, Alaska — The scientists walk across a frozen Arctic Ocean, dark specks in a sea of white. Pale clouds loom low over the bundled figures. The wind sends ice crystals skidding and swirling around them, erasing their footprints.
Behind a large ice ridge, the group shelters from the subzero cold and 25 mph gusts to set up their experiment. They are learning to map an area’s topography by shooting lasers across the ice and snow. But even their machines seem disoriented by the whiteout conditions: The lasers bounce off whirling snowflakes before striking their targets.
It’s yet another problem they must solve before the fall, when these scientists and several hundred others will launch the largest Arctic research expedition in history: a 12-month, $134 million, 17-nation effort to document climate change in the fastest-warming part of the globe.
Home base will be a massive German icebreaker, though the ship will spend only a few weeks under its own power. After reaching a remote part of the Siberian Arctic, the crew will cut the engine and wait for water to freeze around the vessel, entrapping it.
Then the ship — and everyone on it — will be adrift, at the mercy of the ice.
What the scientists discover during their year in the frozen north will help them forecast the future of the entire planet. As Arctic ice vanishes, many scientists expect the steady stream of air that pushes weather across the Northern Hemisphere to wobble, producing periods of punishing cold, brutal heat waves and disastrous floods.
That’s already happening. The polar vortex that gripped the Midwest this winter, the fires in California and lingering hurricanes like Sandy and Florence are all thought to be domino effects of this instability. Unless humans take drastic action, Earth is on track to exceed the threshold for dangerous warming in a little over a decade, the UN has said. These scientists are racing against the changing planet to understand what’s happening — and what is yet to come.
Struggling on the sea ice off Alaska during their training this April, they get a taste of how tough the task will be. They are steeling themselves for what awaits at the pole: profound isolation and protracted darkness, laborious experiments, cold that can plunge to 45 degrees below zero. There are countless ways the Arctic might thwart and threaten them at every turn.
“But if we can do this right,” says Melinda Webster, a sea ice expert at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, “it’s going to give us a huge leap forward in our understanding of Earth and how it’s changing.”
Shoulders scrunched, beards of frost forming on their balaclavas, she and her colleagues continue to collect what information they can. They have no choice but to keep going, Webster says. The world attempts an expedition of this size, expense and risk only “once in a generation.”
And hers might be the last generation that can.
Aiming to reduce errors like the one it made in 2012, when it wrongly forecast the track of Hurricane Sandy into the New York area, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday introduced a major upgrade to the software at the heart of its weather prediction capability.
Using huge amounts of computing power, the software, known as the Global Forecast System, or G.F.S., models the physics of global weather, taking data from satellites and sensors to produce predictions of conditions in coming hours and days. Meteorologists around the world rely on it for making forecasts.
NOAA said the upgrade to the core of the system — the first in four decades — should help improve predictions of severe weather, including winter storms and hurricanes and other tropical storms.
The G.F.S. model had come under criticism in recent years, with researchers and meteorologists saying it was less accurate than similar models from other governments and institutions — most notably one produced by the European Center for Medium-Range Forecasts, which, along with G.F.S., is the most widely used worldwide.
To critics, the deficiencies in the G.F.S. model were especially apparent during Sandy, which inundated the New York area in 2012, causing 44 deaths and $19 billion in damage in New York City alone. Early on as the storm, which was then a hurricane, moved northward, the European model accurately forecast how it would intensify, shift westward and strike the coast. For days, the G.F.S. model forecast that Sandy would head harmlessly out to sea.
Brian Gross, director of NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center, said in a teleconference that the G.F.S. upgrade had been tested for a year, running models based on data from past warm and cold seasons and comparing the results with what occurred in the real world.
“We are confident the upgrade will provide an overall improvement,” Dr. Gross said. Specifically, he added, it should help produce more accurate forecasts of temperature and the amount of rain and snow.
Among other improvements, he said, the new model should more accurately reflect changes that occur between daytime and nighttime. As for hurricanes, he said, the upgrade should help improve forecasts both of a storm’s track and its intensity.
The upgrade is part of a series of improvements that were undertaken after Sandy. In addition to improving the software, more computing power was added. The European model also had the advantage of vastly greater number-crunching capacity.
Anthony Pedersen sat in his painting shed and took stock of all that had gone wrong. He was divorced years ago, he battled a drinking problem, and at one point, he lived in his car. That was after an art gallery told him his work would never sell.
A death in the family last week pushed him to the brink, and Pedersen, surrounded by his paintings, considered taking his own life. But what to do with his art?
“I thought, ‘Maybe I should give away all these paintings before I do that,’ ” Pedersen said.
That idea bloomed into a scavenger hunt, of sorts, fueled by social media.
Pedersen, 36, under his artist name Octopus/Caveman, seeded Orange County with four paintings Friday and Saturday, then posted photos on Twitter with hints to their locations. They included a plea to send photos once they were discovered.
“I only ask that you give this painting a good home,” wrote Pedersen, an intake manager at a law firm by day. “I’d love to see my painting with its new owner. Have a great life together.”
The response was almost too fast for Carrie Murphy.
She awoke at 3 a.m. Saturday and was scrolling through Twitter when she saw the clues. Murphy jumped in her car and drove 30 miles to a Rainbow Donut shop in Westminster. The painting had already vanished, she told The Post on Sunday.
Yet Murphy, an artist herself, was undeterred. She reveled in the hunt, despite the distance from her home in Laguna Niguel. Drizzle splattered her windshield as she set out for the next clue: A painting of a green man left against a wall at Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach.
That, too, was a dry hole, she said.
Pedersen had planted the other paintings hours later. One, depicting a robot with a beating red heart, was left against a sign outside Cyprus College near Anaheim. Murphy loaded her son, along with her husband — fresh off a flight from Thailand — into the car and roared off to the college.
The painting was gone, Murphy thought. But it had been blown over by the wind and lay flat on the grass. She picked up and held her prize: an Octopus/Caveman original.
“It was the most exciting thing. It felt like the lottery,” Murphy said. “And knowing it’s a treasured piece of art … it gave me so much joy.”
A man discovered the fourth painting at a park in Huntington Beach. “hello thanks you so much for the painting it was [such] a weird coincidence that I found it,” he wrote on Twitter.
Suddenly, the rejected artist had found an audience after returning to the studio only last year.
Pedersen paints with “the cheapest stuff you can imagine,” he said. Paint and brushes come from Walmart. He is a self-taught painter, and when he sits down, he has no firm idea about what spills out.
He may go through several paintings, one layered on top of another, he said, before he creates something like a lovelorn robot.
Murphy inspected the painting’s edges and discovered those layers of experimentation and process. “I will have to find a special place for it,” she said. “I know there’s a lot of history on that canvas.”
The gratitude has moved in a cycle. Murphy contacted Pedersen and told him what her find meant to her. He explained his bout with depression, and that his idea had sparked a deep satisfaction in his own work and what he has done for Murphy and others.
“I told him, ‘I hope you realized how much joy you are providing,’ ” Murphy said.
“I was really moved. She seemed excited about it,” he said. “Her joy in finding that was fantastic.”
Pedersen is working through what comes next. Maybe an expansion to San Diego. Pedersen thought perhaps there was a way to connect the paintings and the location in a more deliberate way.
But that process will come later. On Sunday, he left a vivid yellow abstract work at a parking garage in Claremont — number five in a growing series.
Photographs and Text by Fred R. Conrad
Fred R. Conrad is a freelance photographer based in New York.
The Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola is America’s largest maximum-security prison. Before it became a prison, Angola was a plantation. It’s 18,000 acres are worked today by about 5,400 inmates, many of them there for life. Dogs have always been an integral part of prison life at Angola. They patrol the prison’s borders, sniff for narcotics, search for escapees and provide support to the infirm and elderly. There are 55 dogs currently either on active duty or in training.
The time it takes to train a dog for narcotics detection varies. It can be as short as a month but generally takes about six to eight weeks of daily training for certification. The challenge for narcotics dogs is the number of substances they are used to detect. Years ago it was just marijuana, which is very aromatic and easy to smell. With so many more types of narcotics being trafficked, it is more of a challenge. Narcotics dogs are used during shakedowns, when a dormitory is vacated and searched. They are also used for random checks of cars and people. Angola also now uses body scanning machines to help in the detection of contraband.
In an effort to create a fiercer security dog, the prison experimented with breeding prison security dogs and wolves. The program was started by the former warden Burl Cain, who thought it would produce a superior dog that would prevent prisoners from escaping. Wolves are pack animals and very shy around people. They would sooner run away from an escapee as chase him down. Johnny Bert Dixon, who was put in charge of the breeding program, said: “I told Warden Cain that it took thousands of years to breed the wolf out of a dog and make them useful for people. Why are you going backwards? And wouldn’t you know it, when the experiment failed the warden blamed me.”
Maj. Keavin Tanner was brought to Angola to train new corrections officers. Two years ago, at the request of the new warden, Major Tanner and his wife, Master Sgt. Sarah Tanner, created the Prisoners Assisting Warrior Services program (PAWS), a volunteer program that trains service dogs for veterans. Neither they nor the inmate dog trainers, who also have full-time jobs within the prison, get paid for their work. Major Tanner supervises 23 inmate dog trainers and 14 dogs. The dogs train for as long as a year to master 30 commands and seven help tasks.
The relationship between the dogs and their trainers is intimate and sustaining. The dogs are with their trainers 24/7, and as a result are more successful. Normally fewer than half of the dogs in training are certified as service dogs. The certification success rate at Angola is over 75 percent.