• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

woensdag 31 augustus 2016

U.S. Exceptionalism

Nasa: Earth is warming at a pace 'unprecedented in 1,000 years'

Records of temperature that go back far further than 1800s suggest warming of recent decades is out of step with any period over the past millennium
climate change
 The sun sets beyond visitors to Liberty Memorial as the temperature hovers around 100F in Kansas City, Missouri, last month. Photograph: Charlie Riedel/AP
The planet is warming at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, at least, making it “very unlikely” that the world will stay within a crucial temperature limit agreed by nations just last year, according to Nasa’s top climate scientist.
This year has already seen scorching heat around the world, with the average global temperature peaking at 1.38C above levels experienced in the 19th century, perilously close to the 1.5C limit agreed in the landmark Paris climate accord. July was the warmest month since modern record keeping began in 1880, with each month since October 2015 setting a new high mark for heat.
But Nasa said that records of temperature that go back far further, taken via analysis of ice cores and sediments, suggest that the warming of recent decades is out of step with any period over the past millennium.
Proxy-based temperature reconstruction.
 Proxy-based temperature reconstruction. Photograph: Nasa Earth Observatory
“In the last 30 years we’ve really moved into exceptional territory,” Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said. “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).”

“Maintaining temperatures below the 1.5C guardrail requires significant and very rapid cuts in carbon dioxide emissions or co-ordinated geo-engineering. That is very unlikely. We are not even yet making emissions cuts commensurate with keeping warming below 2C.”
Schmidt repeated his previous prediction that there is a 99% chancethat 2016 will be the warmest year on record, with around 20% of the heat attributed to a strong El Niño climatic event. Last year is currently the warmest year on record, itself beating a landmark set in 2014.
“It’s the long-term trend we have to worry about though and there’s no evidence it’s going away and lots of reasons to think it’s here to stay,” Schmidt said. “There’s no pause or hiatus in temperature increase. People who think this is over are viewing the world through rose-tinted spectacles. This is a chronic problem for society for the next 100 years.”
Schmidt is the highest-profile scientist to effectively write-off the 1.5C target, which was adopted at December’s UN summit after heavy lobbying from island nations that risk being inundated by rising seas if temperatures exceed this level. Recent research found that just five more years of carbon dioxide emissions at current levels will virtually wipe out any chance of restraining temperatures to a 1.5C increase and avoid runaway climate change.
Temperature reconstructions by Nasa, using work from its sister agency the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found that the global temperature typically rose by between 4-7C over a period of 5,000 years as the world moved out of ice ages. The temperature rise clocked up over the past century is around 10 times faster than this previous rate of warming.
The increasing pace of warming means that the world will heat up at a rate “at least” 20 times faster than the historical average over the coming 100 years, according to Nasa. The comparison of recent temperatures to the paleoclimate isn’t exact, as it matches modern record-keeping to proxies taken from ancient layers of glacier ice, ocean sediments and rock.
Scientists are able to gauge greenhouse gas levels stretching back more than 800,000 years but the certainty around the composition of previous climates is stronger within the past 1,000 years. While it’s still difficult to compare a single year to another prior to the 19th century, a Nasa reconstruction shows that the pace of temperature increase over recent decades outstrips anything that has occurred since the year 500.
Lingering carbon dioxide already emitted from power generation, transport and agriculture is already likely to raise sea levels by around three feet by the end of the century, and potentially by 70 feet in the centuries to come. Increasing temperatures will shrink the polar ice caps, make large areas of the Middle East and North Africa unbearable to live in and accelerate what’s known as Earth’s“sixth mass extinction” of animal species.

Hillary Clinton Thinks U.S. is Exceptional

'When we say America is exceptional ... it means that we recognize America’s unique and unparalleled ability to be a force for peace and progress,' Clinton told the veterans. 'When America fails to lead, we leave a vacuum.'


Hillary Clinton Disliked

Hillary Clinton Disliked By A Record Number Of Americans, Survey Finds

It’s the worst view Americans have had for the former secretary of state in a quarter-century of public service.

 08/31/2016 02:27 pm ET | Updated 47 minutes ago

While bombastic Republican nominee Donald Trump remains the most unpopular major-party presidential nominee in modern U.S. history, Hillary Clinton is not faring much better ― a new poll found that she is currently the most disliked she has ever been 25 years of public life.
Just 41 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Democratic presidential nominee, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday. It also found that 56 percent have an unfavorable view of her, a record high for the poll.
That’s a sharp decline from three years ago when Americans had record favorable views of Clinton (67 percent) and near-record low unfavorable views (26 percent). It’s also a significant decline from just a month ago when Americans were more evenly split in their attitude on Clinton in the Post-ABC poll with 48 percent having a favorable view and 50 percent an unfavorable view.
The survey also found that Clinton’s favorability dropped significantly among groups of Americans who have been supportive of the candidate, including women, Hispanics and liberals. 
The Post-ABC Wednesday poll findings align with another recent survey, from YouGov/Economist, which also found Clinton with a record high unfavorable rating (58 percent) and a declining favorable rating (41 percent).
HuffPost Pollster, which aggregates publicly available polling data, gives Clinton an average 41 percent favorable rating and a nearly 55 percent unfavorable rating.
A Monmouth University poll released Monday had similar findings, reporting that nearly one-third do not have a favorable view of Clinton or Trump.
“The number of voters who cannot bring themselves to voice a positive opinion of either presidential nominee is more than three times higher than in any other election in recent memory. This is unprecedented,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “This is truly extraordinary. It seems like a significant number of voters are backing a presidential candidate about whom they cannot say anything positive.”
It’s not clear what is driving the change in Americans’ view of Clinton. In general, polls have been tightening modestly between the Democratic nominee and Trump since Clinton opened up a wide lead following last month’s Democratic National Convention. Clinton has also been plagued by the email scandal over using herprivate server during her time as secretary of state, as well as more recent criticism over alleged improprieties stemming from the Clinton Foundation.
While these recent surveys may be alarming for Clinton and her supporters, on average, she’s still more well liked than Trump, who hovers around 60 percent in his unfavorable rating and just 34 percent in favorability, according to HuffPost Pollster’s average: 
The ABC/Post poll surveyed 1,020 adults between Aug. 24 and Aug. 28, using live interviewers to reach both landlines and cell phones.

A Long-Term Price for Peace

Stoking Russia Panic for Partisan Gain Will Have a Long-Term Price for Peace

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On Saturday’s episode of AM Joy with Joy Ann Reid, guest Malcolm Nance, a former Naval intelligence officer, summed up MSNBC’s Russia panic with this quote:
Joy Ann Reid: Because from what I’ve seen, the only people not with Hillary Clinton at this point…are people in the Jill Stein camp. Jill Stein was sitting at Putin’s table right with General Flynn.

Malcolm Nance: Jill Stein has a show on Russia Today.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein doesn’t have a show at all, let alone on RT. She once attended a function hosted by RT, which, by our current standards of liberal discourse, makes her a Kremlin agent, but the fact that such a demonstrably false statement could be made on cable news to thousands of people without anyone bothering to correct it shows how easy Russia panic is to stoke.
Earlier in the segment, Nance made the claim that “someone” in Trump’s campaign “may” be an “agent of Russia,” citing a recent report in the Financial Times (8/19/16) alleging that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s former translator “may” have “links” to Russian intelligence.
The irony, of course, is that Nance himself has far more recent and better documented ties to US intelligence, but MSNBC feels no need to convince viewers he is not a CIA plant spreading disinformation.
Nance had a hot tip, offered in smarmy “insider” tones: “Here’s a bit of strategic intelligence for you. Russia is doing a military massing of forces in Crimea in what appears to be an ‘October Surprise.’” That’s correct, an MSNBCcontributor is openly speculating Russia will invade Ukraine for the express purposes of influencing the US elections.
Nance finished off his impressive run of innuendo and prognostication with this revealing statement:
And the fact that only Manafort’s money connections were enough to get him taken off the campaign–principally because they found documents. They don’t care about inference, they only care about evidence.
Yes, God forbid someone cared about evidence over vague insinuation.
Joy Ann Reid joined in on the saber-rattling:
Russia is not some friend the United States can make and partner with in the world. They are an adversarial, aggressive power that wants us to recognize their seizure of countries that are not theirs.
According to leading pro-Democratic media, the US cannot possibly work with Russia; they are fundamentally adversarial. This type of macho posturing, previously the domain of Fox News, has become increasingly commonplace as the Clinton camp drives home the talking point that Trump is a Kremlin agent.
The day before, in his segment “Does Putin Want Trump to Be President?,” Chris Matthews (8/19/16) allowed  former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul to assert that, without a doubt, Russian intelligence hacked the DNC and leaked the info to get Trump elected. Despite the fact that the head of US intelligence, James Clapper, has asked the media to pump the brakes on making these claims without qualification, McFaul has his “sources,” so it becomes a matter of fact.
McFaul, also referenced in the Joy Ann Reid segment, has become the go-to pundit on Putin/Trump theories. McFaul’s pro-NatSec messaging has gotten so goofy he even made the dubious claim in June that “all of America’s most enduring allies have been and remain democracies.” (Asked about, e.g., Saudi Arabia, McFaul waffled and changed the subject.)
Rachel Maddow (8/15/16) talking with former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
Rachel Maddow (8/15/16) talking with former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
McFaul was Rachel Maddow’s source for her August 15 segment, “Trump Chairman’s Pro-Putin Past Remains Murky.” Maddow began the interview openly speculating that Trump presently employed Russian agents, asking McFaul if such an agreement were legal, despite the lack of evidence it was actually going on. The segment finished up with more idle speculation as to why Putin is backing Trump, with McFaul insisting Clinton represented the “opposite” of what the Russian president wanted.
Asking questions about Trump’s links to overseas money is entirely fair and above board (as are questions about Clinton’s ties to foreign funders). But to give the Trump charges more moral urgency, liberal pundits are dusting off old Cold War panic and playing up the reach, scope and sinister motives of Russia.
The effects of this, if and when Clinton takes the White House, will be hard to downplay. How can the US negotiate the end of the Syrian conflict or the Ukrainian crisis if the public, even MSNBC-watching liberals, views Russia as irredeemably aggressive and incapable of ever being a US “friend”? In the interest of short-term partisan gain, pundits on America’s nominally liberal cable network are damaging the prospects of normalizing relations with Russia for years to come.

'Dead hand of Moscow'


SCARY STUFF: What Will Happen if the U.S. Nukes Russia First - "Dead hand of Moscow"

Russia's ultimate defense system will dispatch a retaliatory nuclear strike even if the command and communication lines of its Strategic Missile Forces are totally destroyed. The system is called ‘Perimeter,’ and in the U.S. it has been nicknamed ‘Dead Hand’.
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During the Cold War, Russia created a fail-safe device for their nuclear weapons arsenal to ensure a second strike capability even if all command and control were to be destroyed. The system (code-named Dead Hand) utilized seismic, light, radioactivity, and pressure sensors to detect an incoming nuclear attack and retaliate if necessary. The best part? The system is almost certainly still operational.
The main command and control of the strategic missiles is called Kazbek. It is famous for its nuclear briefcase codenamed Cheget. Perimeter is an alternative command system of Russia's nuclear forces. It was designed to automatically control a massive nuclear attack.

The development of a system of guaranteed retaliation began in the midst of the Cold War when it became clear that electronic warfare systems, which were being constantly improved, would soon be able to block the regular channels controlling the strategic nuclear forces. A backup method of communication was needed that would guarantee the commands would make it to the launchers.
It was then that the idea was conceived to use a missile equipped with a powerful radio transmitter as a communication link. While flying over the Soviet Union, the missile would send the launch command not only to command centres of the strategic missile force, but also directly to the launchers.

The system is made up of command ballistic missiles. Instead of flying towards the enemy, they fly over Russia, and instead of thermonuclear warheads, they carry transmitters that can send a command to launch all available combat missiles in silos, aircraft, submarines and mobile ground units. The system is fully automated, the human factor is excluded or minimized in it.
The decision to launch command missiles is made by an autonomous control and command system - a complex artificial intelligence system. It receives and analyzes a wide variety of information about seismic activity and radiation, atmospheric pressure, and the intensity of chatter on military radio frequencies. It monitors telemetry from the observation posts of the strategic missile force and data from early warning systems (EWS).
If it detects, for example, multiple point sources of powerful ionizing and electromagnetic radiation, it compares them with data on seismic disturbances in the same locations, and makes a decision whether or not there was a massive nuclear strike. In this case, Perimeter would initiate a retaliation strike bypassing even Kazbek.
Another scenario is if the country's leadership receives information from the EWS that other countries have launched missiles, it would activate Perimeter. If the shutdown command does not come within a certain amount of time, the system will launch missiles. This eliminates the human factor and ensures there would be a retaliatory strike even if the command and launch teams were completely destroyed.

President Putin issued in 2014 a feared “Dead Hand” order not used since 26/09/1983 when the nuclear early warning system of the Soviet Union twice reported the launch of American Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)

In peacetime, Perimeter is dormant but continues, however, to analyze incoming information. When it is put on high alert or when it receives a warning signal from the EWS, strategic forces, or other systems, a monitoring network of sensors is launched to detect signs of nuclear explosions.
Russian leaders have repeatedly assured foreign governments that there is no risk of an accidental or unauthorized missile launch. Before launching, Perimeter checks for four conditions. First, whether there was a nuclear attack.
Then it checks the communication link with the General Staff. If there is still a link, the system shuts down. If the General Staff does not respond, Perimeter sends a request to  Kazbek. If there is no response there either, the artificial intelligence gives any person in the command bunker the right to make the decision. And only then it starts to act.