Sunday, May 27, 2018

"Toontime: Black Kettle

credit: Dave Granlund
Demand this incompetent's impeachment.  The FBI informer (spy, informer--tomato, tomĒ½to) turns out to be Stefan A. Halper, a Repugnant partisan and University of Cambridge professor emeritus who worked for the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations and George H.W. Bush’s campaign. According to the New York Times he was part of a secret Reagan operation to collect dirt on Jimmy Carter.  Besides having an office a few doors down from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, in the Manhattan Trump Tower, Hair Further met with other influential Russians there.  In January 2015 he met with the son of oligarch Aras Agalarov.  Representatives of two Arab princes met with mini-Trump,  (Trump Jr.)in the tower and told him they wanted Hair Further to win the election.  These emissaries from the east in turn met with Putin fixer Kirill Dmitriev in the Seychelles.  A third party at this meeting, Joel Zamel, described as a "social-media manipulation" specialist, had previously worked for Putin allies  Oleg Deripaska and Dmitry Rybolovlev. Deripaska, as is now well known, was once a business partner of former campaign manager, Manafort.  Connect the dots, and you decide.

credit: Adam Zyglis, Buffalo News

Friday, May 25, 2018

COTW: The Angry Nation

Hair Further canceled the impending summit between North Korea and the United States. He called the other side "angry and hostile" in his letter to the North Korean dictator. North Korea applied some heated rhetoric to John Bolton and Vice President Pence for their invocation of the "Libya model" as a way to deal with the nuclear-armed regime. A top female aide to Chairman Kim called Pence "a political dummy". It was Pence who infamously snubbed Kim's sister at at an Olympic games venue this winter. Look at this chart and decide for yourselves, which nations are angry and hostile. Once again a highly neurotic and oversensitive leader is endangering the safety of his fellow citizens by playing a game of nuclear brinkmanship, encouraged by known warmongers on his executive staff. As one commentator succinctly summed up Trump's diplomatic faceplant: "The man who thinks he’s the greatest negotiator in the world has absolutely no idea how to negotiate." Trump himself practices the ghoulish art of the insult, so he should know what is "unacceptable" rhetoric.

This Memorial Day weekend many Americans will be remembering service personnel at their gravesides. If thermonuclear war breaks out, there probably will not be remains of thousands of victims to memorialize. Undoubtedly the United States would unleash massive retaliation on the Korean peninsula if an attack were launched, reducing North Korea to ashes, but not before one or perhaps several west coast cities and Seoul evaporate in a nuclear or thermonuclear explosion.

The risk of a nuclear mistake is perhaps greater now than during the Cold War; the news of fourteen USAF personnel ingesting LSD while on duty at nuclear missile installations in Wyoming is far from reassuring. The technology may be new, but it still depends on fallible human command. By placing ever-increasing reliance on a massive nuclear arsenal as a means to bully other nations into complying with United States hegemony is only making the world more precarious. Scuttling a break-through opportunity to begin Korean disarmament and end the Korea War will be counted as more bad Trump behavior. The summit cancellation will join the Paris Climate Accord pullout, Iran nuclear deal pullout, and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, as examples of his own irrationality and hostility.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Cheating the Planet's Health with CFCs

Scientists at NOAA say someone on Earth is manufacturing a banned chemical, CFC-11, that is depleting the protective ozone layer.  Emissions of CFC-11 have climbed twenty-five percent since 2012 despite the prohibition on the manufacture and use in the Montreal Protocol of 1987.  In that agreement, nations took action to stop the depletion of Earth's ozone layer which protects the planet from ultraviolet radiation by phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).  Emissions of the chemical should be near zero as reported to the organization responsible for enforcement of the international agreement.  Scientists say the increase in detected emissions is strong evidence somebody, somewhere is manufacturing it.  A U.S. observatory in Hawaii found CFC-11 mixed in with other gases that were characteristic of a source coming from somewhere in eastern Asia, but scientists could not narrow the area down any further.  The research results were published in the journal, Nature.  The results are likely to precipitate and investigation into the source of the emissions.

Alternatives exist for chlorofluorocarbons, so it is not easy to understand where a market for the chemical could exist.  CFC-11 was used for foam and can last up to 50 years in the atmosphere.  It is broken down only in the upper stratosphere, where the constituent chlorine atoms engage in a series of ozone destroying reactions.  If the emissions continue unabated, ozone layer recovery could be threatened again. [image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center] The releases have slowed the rate of decrease in  ozone destroying chemicals by 22%

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Real Grey Ghost

US Person wrote recently about the Porcupine caribou herd, the largest in the world, that occupies Alaska's north coast. Now we turn to the other end of the spectrum: only three members of Selkirk herd remain alive in the wild. The woodland caribou species (Rangifer tarandus caribou) once roamed as far south as Michigan, Vermont, Minnesota and New York. This spring, aerial surveys confirmed that only three females remain of the Selkirk herd, named for the mountains that span the border between British Columbia and Washington. There were around 12 individuals in 2016, down from 50 in 2009. Only three survive, and within the space of a few months or perhaps a year the species will be gone forever. The species nickname is the "grey ghost" of the forest, apt for its ability to stay hidden in deep forest from predators. Since irony is officially dead, their plight can only be termed tragic. Even if all three females are pregnant, and there is no indication that they are, their path to extinction is most probably irreversible.

The tragedy does not end there, unfortunately. Two weeks after the Selkirk's demise was made public, researchers announced that another herd, known as the South Percells, just north of British Columbia is down to four members--three females and one male.  Caribou numbers have been declining for decades as the result of human disturbance and fragmented habitat. Nevertheless it is a shock to realize that these imposing inhabitants of the boreal forest will be gone forever. Conservation plans have not halted the declines in population.  Some fewer than 1200 caribou remain in Canada's mountainous forests. Canada's environment minister announced this month that the federal government will step in to help preserve the remaining caribou if the provincial government does not act decisively to protect core habitat soon.  The message is clear: remaining herds cannot afford to wait for man's help.

A similar extinction befell the woodland caribou herd in Alberta’s Banff National Park. The herd dwindled to a point where a single avalanche wiped out its last remaining members in 2009--gone forever. It is relevant to note that as much as 70 percent of Alberta’s oil sands reserves are found within caribou habitats.  Caribou need dense forest to survive the harsh environment in which they live. Watch this video about the real vanishing ghost.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

'Toontime: Moles in Your Campaign

credit: Steve Sack, Star Tribune
BC Idonwanna sez:  Keep scores secret or you red face!

If the Donald is anything, he is a master of media manipulation. His latest gambit in the Russian Connection affair is attempting divert attention away from Robert Mueller's legal activities towards an intensifying dispute between the US Justice Department and his allies on the House Intelligence Committee. They have uncovered the existence of a spy, to put it bluntly, that reported on the activities of the Trump Campaign. Now they want to know the spy's identity, but Justice is stoutly refusing to provide the identity which may endanger individuals involved in the undercover operation. The standoff between Chairman Nunes,  and Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, overseeing the Mueller investigation, could escalate into a refusal to obey a presidential order to hand over the information, and Rosenstein's removal from office. That event may force congressional Repugnants to either side with their erstwhile chief executive, or the rule of law. The standoff has definitely given the hot-headed Hair Further more ammunition for his one-man twit crusade.

The Washington Post reported Friday that a university professor, and longtime FBI informant, had three meetings with members of the Trump campaign. As some point in 2016 he--his identity is known by the Post but not reported--began reporting information about Russian meddling in the election. Partisans are now claiming that the informant was illegally embedded by the Obama Administration. Whether this claim has any substance is largely besides the point. The story makes excellent counter-propaganda and provides a plausible basis for direct action against Justice personnel running the Russian Connection investigation, which has now entered its second year.  The sooner Mr. Yuge derails the investigation, the better for him, as Mueller painstakingly follows the leads leading to the President's direct involvement with Russian operatives.