Friday, 23 June 2017

First shots in Trump's war

The First Shots of America's New War for Eastern Syria Have Already Been Fired
If Trump admin officials have their way, the next US war will be to block the Syrian army from retaking Syria's Euphrates valley


'It'll be just like The Rat Patrol'

23 June, 2017


When the US shot down the Syrian Su-22 jet Sunday this may have been intended as a warning to Syria that the US intends to take eastern Syria for itself -- and that a Syrian push into eastern Syria will be violently opposed.

As late as April the Americans still assumed eastern Syria -- the city of Raqqa and the entire Euphrates valley down to Iraq -- was theirs for the taking. The Syrian army they assumed was too far away, too weak, and too busy, to try to liberate these areas from ISIS itself. A high-ranking US officer confidently told CNN:
"Right now, we are not planning, or coordinating, with them [the Russians and regime]. They are not even located near Raqqa. We think they have their hands full doing their tasks in their areas and they are probably happy to let the SDF and coalition forces tackle Raqqa."

Instead, the Russian-brokered cease fire deal with rebels in the west, allowed Syrians to move their best units eastwards, and start clawing away territory from ISIS. With Russian help the Syrian army took back 5,000 square kilometers to the east of Palmyra, and was making mayor gains in the northern Aleppo province as well.

The northern offensive stalled for a while in March-April when Syria's elite Tiger Forces were recalled temporarily to deal with a surprise Tahrir al-Sham (al-Qaeda) offensive in Hama. However, once they were back the Tigers covered nearly 100 kilometers in just 40 days bringing them in contact with SDF forces east of Raqqa.


Americans who had never seriously entertained the thought they would face real competition, now awoke to the fact the Syrian army had just established a credible springboard for a Tiger-led push into the Euphrates valley from the north. Days later they 
blew a Syrian Su-22 out of the sky over that very area.
The US military said the Syrian warplane was shot down in "collective self-defense". However, it said the same thing when it bombed Syrian and allied forces three times in a row in southern Syria, yet now The Washington Post has learned senior White House officials actually saw those strikes as a message to Syrians not to impede US ambition in eastern Syria:
To some extent, that clash has already begun. Unprecedented recent U.S. strikes against regime and Iranian-backed militia forces have been intended as warnings to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Tehran that they will not be allowed to confront or impede the Americans and their local proxy forces.

The Washington Post reports Trump administration officials want to cordon off Syrian approaches to the Euphrates valley, to ensure the entire area will be captured by US-backed forces. They are willing (even eager) to engage in "direct conflict" with Syria to do it: 
Trump administration officials, anticipating the defeat of the Islamic State in its de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa, are planning for what they see as the next stage of the war, a complex fight that will bring them into direct conflict with Syrian government and Iranian forces contesting control of a vast desert stretch in the eastern part of the country.
As regime and militia forces have begun advancing eastward, senior White House officials have been pushing the Pentagon to establish outposts in the desert region. The goal would be to prevent a Syrian or Iranian military presence... 

After offering the bizarre rationale that Syrian army advances versus ISIS must be blocked in the interest of the war against ISIS, the official WaPo spoke with lays bare the actual motivation of Trump officials:
Officials said Syrian government claims on the area would also undermine progress toward a political settlement in the long-separate rebel war against Assad, intended to stabilize the country by limiting his control and eventually driving him from power.

Denying eastern Syria to Syria's Assad government is a goal in itself. The Syrian government must be kept weak and eventually toppled.

Understandably "some in the Pentagon" are not keen on the idea that would demand of isolated US bases sprinkled across the desert to keep at bay the full might of the Russian-backed Syrian army:
Some in the Pentagon have resisted the move, amid concern about distractions from the campaign against the Islamic State and whether U.S. troops put in isolated positions in Syria, or those in proximity to Iranian-backed militias in Iraq,could be protected.

The naive optimism of proponents of this new war is astounding. Not only do they believe that the US can cordon off the Syrian army from eastern Syria, but that it can do so with very few soldiers on the ground -- as long as it is willing to rain bombs from the air early, aggressively, and often:
The official said the expanded U.S. role would not require more troops, comparing it to “The Rat Patrol,” the 1960s television series about small, allied desert forces deployed against the Germans in northern Africa during World War II.
With our ability with air power . . . you’re not talking about a lot of requirements to do that,” the official said. “. . . You don’t need a lot of forces to go out and actually have a presence.”

Actually, that senior Trump officials are pushing for an expanded war in southern Syria was already revealed last week by Foreign Policy. What this new Washington Post report reveals is that the goals of this war would be much broader than was the initial intention. The goal would not be to "merely" deny Damascus stretches of the Syria-Iraq border, but instead the entire Euphrates valley from Raqqa all the way to Iraq.

It's good news that "some in the Pentagon" are resisting the proposal but what will really make the difference is if the Kurdish-dominated SDF declines to take part. The ramblings of White House amateurs aside, the reality is that without the Kurds the Americans do not have the numbers to block the Syrian army from the Euphrates.
Another reality is that opening a new risky war against the Syrian government and its international backers is not in the interest of Syrian Kurds, who do not lack for adversaries as it is.
It is one thing to have a race for the Euphrates valley where Damascus and the SDF race to take as much of eastern Syria from ISIS to enhance their respective post-war positions, which was always on the cards. It is another thing entirely to have a war for the river in which Syrian army advances are actively impeded and targeted as Trump administration officials are proposing now.
Hopefully the (post-Marxist) Kurdish leadership declines to take part in harebrained schemes of White House neocons and the war for Euphrates, which has already claimed the lives of a dozen or so Syrian servicemen in three separate US strikes, is laid to rest before it starts in earnest.


SATIRE ALERT

Civil Defence evacuates whole of New Zealand after engineers discover structural issues with the country



18 November, 2016

New Zealanders’ weekend has got off to a rocky start, as Civil Defence has now ordered the evacuation of “the entire North, South, Stewart and Chatham islands,” following inspections by engineers and geologists who discovered “significant structural issues” with the country as a whole.

To be very clear, we are calling for the immediate evacuation of areas in this zone,” said Civil Defence director Sarah Stuart-Black, pointing to a map of the zone, which encompassed the whole country. “If you are in this zone, we ask you to leave as soon as possible, and remain out of this area until further inspections can take place.”

Airports are currently overflowing with residents of the affected area, who are attempting to fly overseas, but are being met with fully booked flights.

I really don’t know what the fuck is going on,” said Air New Zealand check-in operator Janice Gray. “We can’t put all these people on planes.”

Asked if she could just kind of stack them, Gray replied “No.”

Asked why we would think they could, we replied “I don’t know, it seems possible.”

Engineers inspecting the country say both North and South islands have become “highly unstable” and are at imminent risk of collapse.

They had “no choice” but to evacuate everyone, if only as a precaution.

Civil Defence has not given a timeframe for people to be able to re-occupy the country but it is expected to be sometime in the future.


Financial collapse predicted

MASSIVE DEFLATIONARY COLLAPSE ON HORIZON

AMTV




In today's video, Christopher Greene of AMTV reports on the Massive Deflationary Collapse on the Horizon

Was a Cuban Missile Crisis Averted in Syria?- Stephen Cohen

Was a Cuban Missile Crisis Averted in Syria, the Transatlantic Alliance Ruptured, and Intelgate Exposed?

Though briefly noted by the mainstream media, we may have witnessed three essential truths about the new Cold War.

By Stephen F. Cohen



21 June, 2017

Nation Contributing Editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. Previous installments (now in their fourth year) are at TheNation.com.

Cohen thinks three moments of truth about the current state of American-Russian relations were recently revealed, but so little covered in the mainstream media that he was reminded of an old routine by the comedian George Carlin. A local radio newscaster begins his report: “Nuclear war in Europe. Details after the sports.” Cohen and Batchelor discuss each of the developments at some length:

First, Cohen has long warned that the new Cold War is fraught with the possibility of a Cuban missile crisis–like situation on any one of its several fronts: in the Baltic and Black seas regions, where NATO is undertaking a major military buildup on Russia’s borders; in Ukraine, where a civil and proxy war, also on Russia’s borders, is now in its fourth year; and in Syria, where American and Russian warplanes are conducting mounting operations in increasingly approximate air space with, it turns out, less “deconfliction” than thought, at least by American commanders. On June 18, a US plane shot down a Syrian military aircraft. Allied with Syria and fighting there at its government’s official invitation, unlike American forces, which are there in violation of international law, Moscow regarded this as a provocative act of war. After a nearly 24-hour pause, during which the Putin leadership debated its response, the Russian military announced that henceforth any US aircraft flying where Russia and Syrian were conducting operations would be “targeted”—that is, warned to leave immediately or be shot down. A red line had been crossed by the United States, as the Soviet Union had done in Cuba in 1962, and this time Washington had to decide whether to cross yet another in the direction of war between the nuclear superpowers. Washington wisely retreated, the Department of Defense announcing it would “reposition” its war planes away from Russian-Syrian operations, adding that it “was ready to cooperate with Russia in Syria.” Whether such a crisis has actually been averted in Syria depends on who made the decision to shoot down the Syrian plane. If made by a Washington faction determined to sabotage President Trump’s professed hope to cooperate militarily with Moscow against terrorism in Syria—as happened in September 2016, when President Obama had reached a similar agreement with Russian President Putin—the struggle inside the Trump administration and its warfare agencies, along with the crisis of June 18-19, may not be over.

In any event, Cohen argues, such potentially fateful US-Russian confrontations are inherent in the new Cold War, not only in Syria. Hence the imperative to end, or at least seriously diminish, it.

Meanwhile, new economic sanctions against Russia adopted by the US Senate—they are uninformed, exceedingly unwise, and without any verifiable cause except political showboating and ambition—have exposed longstanding and growing tensions between Washington and several European capitals over the escalating US confrontation with Moscow. With their agricultural producers already hurt by Moscow’s counter-sanctions on imported produce and other goods, several European governments strongly protested the Senate’s new anti-Russian sanctions, one even threatening sanctions against the United States. The primary reason, whether the Senate noticed or not, is that the new sanctions would impact European companies deeply involved in a new pipeline bringing Russian gas to their countries, which are heavily dependent on Russian energy. If the sanctions gain House approval and Trump’s signature—or if his veto is overridden—the result could be an economically driven, and thus political, crisis in the vaunted transatlantic alliance. (Some observers think the real purpose of the new sanctions is to increase the European market for American liquid gas exports, despite its technical and financial improbabilities.) In this respect, Cohen points out, it is not Putin who is disrupting the US-European alliance but Washington itself.

Third, “Russiagate”—nearly a year of still unproved allegations that Trump and his “associates” colluded with the Kremlin in its alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails during the 2016 presidential campaign—has resulted in perhaps the worst political crisis in modern American history and, to the extent it has distorted or paralyzed Trump’s Russia policies, has itself become a threat to US national security. Recent public statements by Obama’s top intelligence officials have indicated, perhaps inadvertently, that Russiagate may have been concocted by those officials. If so, what they have done far exceeds the transgressions of Watergate and should be fully investigated as a truly subversive Intelgate. What those statements reveal includes the following:

§ The January 2017 Intelligence Committee report accusing Putin of having directed the hacking of the DNC and of making public its e-mails via WikiLeaks was not based on a consensus on the part of all “seventeen US intelligence agencies” but on “handpicked analysts” from only three: the CIA, FBI, and NSA. This we learned from former CIA director John Brennan and former director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

§ Brennan, in his own words, was hardly an objective, dispassionate CIA director, explaining at one point in his testimony to a House committee that any Americans who have contacts with Russians can embark “along a treasonous path” and “do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late.”

§ Clapper then told NBCs Meet the Press (May 28) that “Russians …are typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate…” and that thus Russia is “genetically driven” to attack American democracy.

§ As for former FBI Director James Comey, he emphatically assured a congressional investigative committee that Russiagate was entirely true, though also without producing any evidence whatsoever, adding, in the spirit of J. Edgar Hoover, “They are coming back!” More importantly, considering the paramount role leaks to the media have played in creating and perpetuating Russiagate, Comey, who was supposed to be investigating such leaks, testified that he had himself leaked a self-serving document to The New York Times.


Cohen wonders why mainstream media outlets have not explored these revelations by an apparently paranoid CIA director, an ethnically biased director of National Intelligence, and an admittedly duplicitous FBI chief. Instead, those outlets have simply ignored these statements and continued to parrot the core allegation of Russiagate. Thus, the Times lead editorial of June 18 asserted, alluding only to the fabricated January Intel report and Comey’s more recent comments: “Under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hackers connected to Russian military intelligence broke into the email accounts of senior officials at the Democratic National Committee…. in an attempt to damage the Clinton campaign.” It added that this Kremlin “attack on our democracy” had occurred similarly in Germany and France, even though security officials in those countries have denied the allegations against Moscow. The intent of the Times editorial, or certainly its effect, can only be characterized as fearmongering and thus warmongering. Who, Cohen asks, has actually been undermining our democracy? 

Shilling for World War 3


Mainstream Media Journalists Are Eager for World War 3 on MSNBC


22 June, 2017



(FAIR) — If we’re heading toward World War III, let’s hope that some episodes of MSNBC‘s Andrea Mitchell Reports survive the nuclear winter to provide future civilizations with some clues as to how we got there.

Mitchell’s June 19 show was a typical example of the current mentality of the US security state. A short segment in the show featured Jeremy Bash, currently a military consultant and formerly the chief of staff for both the Department of Defense and the CIA under Leon Panetta in the Obama administration.
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In just over four-and-a-half minutes, Bash recited an alarming number of pro-war propaganda talking points that went unchallenged (and were even egged on) by Mitchell.

Bash and Mitchell began their conversation by addressing Monday’s escalation of the Syrian War, when US forces shot down a Syrian government warplane. Mitchell wondered if taking the action was “basically getting us into a conflict with Russia,” while Bash blamed the whole thing on the Russians refusing to tell Assad to stand down.

Presenting military conflict in a way that shows the US to be the hard-luck victim of good intentions is of course not unique to MSNBC, or even cable news. As FAIR’s Adam Johnson pointed out on Twitteron Tuesday afternoon, the US shooting down an Iranian drone in southern Syria was blamed on the unmanned robot’s apparent display of “hostile intent”— reasoning that was then uncritically repeatedin the headline of British newspaper the Independent.

Mitchell asked Bash if the dispute could result in all-out war. From there, the conversation devolved into Bash and Mitchell doing everything short of calling for war between the US and Russia, countries with stockpiles of around 7,000 nuclear weapons each.

The US hasn’t done “a very good job pushing Russia out of the way,” said Bash, implying it would be a good idea to target a country that only months ago was reported by Newsweek to have a bomb that could flatten Texas. Bash added that “we’ve let Russia have too free a hand, in my view, in the skies over Syria.”

That the US should have full control over the skies in Syria is not a position unique to Bash. BothDonald Trump and Hillary Clinton expressed support for no-fly-zones over the country during the presidential campaign. But to hear it stated so openly in the context of “pushing” a major nuclear power “out of the way” is still startling.

Mitchell replied that “the criticism is that the president is reluctant to go after Russia.” Of course, that’s largely in line with the marching orders from her colleagues at MSNBC, who see Russian conspiracies and machinations everywhere, presenting the imperial rival as an existential threat.

Bash agreed, telling Mitchell that “the big issue here has been an inexplicable lack of resolve regarding Russia,” lamenting that  “we have not been willing to take them on.”

It wasn’t all Russia and Syria; other Mideast conflicts were topics of discussion as well during the segment. Mitchell and Bash placed resolving the Israeli/Palestinian “way down the list” of things for US diplomacy to do in the region, far below the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the latter’s perceived closeness to Iran.

Solving that crisis, Bash said, was a top priority, tying all the continuing conflicts in the Middle East together in one neat package—with Russia in the middle, naturally.

If you look at the regional dynamics,” said Bash, “Russia has been providing cover for Syria, for the Assad regime and for their friends in Iran, and that is a dangerous development.”

Jeremy Bash,” Mitchell said as the show cut to commercial. “Not a reassuring Monday message.”

A lot to worry about,” Bash agreed.

A lot to worry about indeed, if Bash and Mitchell are indicative of corporate media’s enthusiasm for going to war with another nuclear-armed nation




The Heat Wave in SW United States

Heat Wave Across Southwest Turns Deadly



22 June, 2017


For days, the Southwest has sweltered in temperatures well above 100 degrees in some areas, and the heat wave has taken its toll on millions. Power grids have been stressed, flights have been grounded and wildfires have grown rapidly. At least five people have died.


  • A Texas man and his son reported missing were found dead Tuesday in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, where temperatures have surpassed 100 degrees, NBC News reports. Robert Stuart Pita, 57, and his son Bobby, 21, had been on a hiking trip since Wednesday of last week but had not been heard from since checking into their hotel. Authorities say the heat was likely a factor in the deaths.
  • In San Jose, California, a 72-year-old man and an 87-year-old woman died Monday. Temperatures reached 94 degrees, and one of the victims was homeless and lived in a car, police told the Associated Press.
  • A California man, identified by the Bakersfield Californian as Benjamin R. Greene, died while running a 5k in 107-degree heat at a Bakersfield park Tuesday night.
  • Arizona Public Service Company, the largest electricity provider in Arizona, said temperatures near 120 degrees in Phoenix led customers to set a new peak usage record. Between 5 and 6 p.m. local time Tuesday evening, over 7,300 megawatts of energy were consumed. This breaks a record that stood for 11 years.
  • Two firefighters in California had to be treated for heat-related injuries. In New Mexico, a brush fire destroyed sheds and cars. Two residents and a firefighter were sent to the hospital with minor injuries and smoke inhalation.
  • South of Tucson, blazing temperatures helped fuel a wildfire that destroyed six structures. More than 100 homes in total were threatened by the inferno that started Tuesday.
  • Heat was blamed for warping train tracks that caused a derailment near Earlimart, California. Nineteen cars derailed Tuesday, butnobody was injured, according to KMPH.com.
  • In Las Cruces, New Mexico, officials temporarily opened several "cooling stations" for residents to get out of the heat and find relief.
  • About 50 people received elastic booties for their pets at a Phoenix-area PetSmart to keep the animals' paws from burning on the pavement.
  • In Central California, residents along the swollen Kings River were urged to evacuate as warm weather quickly melted some of the winter's massive snowpack.
  • As far north as San Francisco, residents were advised to avoid strenuous activities in the heat, if possible, and don't leave kids or pets in vehicles.


Comparing the cimate of the past with now


We need the historical comparison. A lot of young people just think this is the way the weather has always been.

It hasn’t.

There was more in common with the climate I grew up with in the 1960’s and that my father grew up with in the 1920’s than what we have experienced since the start of the new millenium.

Comparing today's heat waves to that of the 1930s. (Here's June 1934 vs 2016)



Research shows the seabed has become much warmer

Örjan Gustafsson (Google translate):

"Our measurements showed that the seabed has become much warmer. At the end of the Ice Age was the temperature on the seabed -18 degrees. Now it is about 0 degrees. We also explored the line between frozen and thawed permafrost in the seabed and could see that this limit lies at 10-30 meters depth, and the limit drops quickly. The permafrost thaws by an average of 14 cm a year now and then 4 meters in the last 30 years."


The arctic permafrost is thawing faster than previously thought
Arktis permafrost tinar snabbare än vad som tidigare är känt



22 June, 2017

Permafrost in the seabed in the World, the arctic ocean thaws now with an average of 14 cm per year. It is much more than what you've previously known, and the process threatens to amplify global warming, according to a new study from Stockholm university which is published today in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

It is a huge area that is now thaws, it is as large as four times the Baltic sea, " says Örjan Gustafsson, professor in biogeochemistry at the Department of environmental science and analytical chemistry (ACES), Stockholm university, which is one of the authors behind the study.
He has in several research projects and expeditions investigated the conditions in the Arctic seas in order to, inter alia, note the changes of not only the carbon stored in the permafrost, as it's usually called ”the sleeping giants”. If this carbon is released levels of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere which increases the warming of the climate.
Örjan Gustafsson and the research group's latest study is based on observations that have been made over the years 2011-2015 in kusthavet off the north-east Siberia.
We had a isläger there and was out with vehicles and rigs on the sea ice in order to drill down to the permafrost in the seabed.
The cores of sediment could then be compared with surveys carried out in the same places 30 years ago.
Our measurements showed that the seabed has become much warmer. At the end of the ice age was the temperature on the seabed -18 degrees. Now, it is approximately 0 degrees. We also investigated the boundaries between frozen and unfrozen permafrost in the seabed and were able to see that this limit is set at 10-30 meters deep, and the limit drops quickly. The permafrost thaws with an average of 14 cm per year now and that is 4 metres in the last 30 years.
Permafrost is the constantly frozen soil that consists of decomposed organic material, and already the format of methane; moreover, when a heating also of methane in the form of natural gas released when permafrostlagret weakened.
"Previously, the natural gas held in place by the permafrost that has formed over it as a lid, but now when the permafrost thaws and becomes perforated as create channels and then gas is released," says Örjan Gustafsson, who argue that the latest study is important in order to understand the processes occurring in the arctic seabed.
For the first time, we have been able to observe how permafrost is constructed in the seabed, the temperature and how quickly it thaws. If these processes affect the global warming, it is important to take the height for it and prepare society for it development, " says Örjan Gustafsson.
About the study:

Natalia Shakhova, Igor Semiletov, Örjan Gustafsson, Valentin Sergienko, Leopold Lobkovsky, Oleg Dudarev, Vladimir Tumskoy, Michael Grigoriev, Alexey Mazurov, Anatoly Salyuk, Roman Ananiev, Andrey Koshurnikov, Denis Kosmach, Alexander Charkin, Nicolay Dmitrevsky, Victor Karnaukh, Alexey Parking, Alexander Meluzov & Denis Chernykh, 2017: “Current rates and mechanisms of subsea permafrost degradation in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf”, Nature Communications.
Link to the article in Nature Communications:
Contact:

Örjan Gustafsson, 070-324 73 17, orjan.gustafsson@aces.su.se