“It’s almost as if we’re deliberately attempting to defy nature. We’re doing the reverse of what we should be doing, with everybody’s silent acquiescence, and nobody’s batting an eyelid.” – Mayer Hillman, Social Scientist, 86, interviewed in The Guardian, 20 Aug.
The Other United States of Corporate Greed
An important article on Opendemocracy.org (21 Aug) draws attention to a little-known treaty drawn up 20 years ago, that allows big energy companies to sue governments that introduce measures to ameliorate climate change.
Pia Eberhardt and Cecilia Olivet write: “Companies are claiming dizzying sums in compensation for government actions that have allegedly damaged their investments, either directly through expropriation or indirectly through regulations of virtually any kind.”
Germany’s phasing-out of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, for instance, has cost additional billions in compensation awards to energy companies such as the Swedish giant, Vattenfall. “By the end of 2017, governments had been ordered or agreed to pay more than $51 billion in damages”, write the authors, with another $35 billion in current claims going through the arcane system.
A case in Bulgaria, for instance, effectively fined the government hundreds of millions of dollars for ordering a cut in energy prices to benefit poorer consumers. The closure of two dirty coal mines cost the German government an additional $1.4 billion in compensation.
This monstrous arrangement providing a hidden subsidy to the polluters is known as the Energy Charter Treaty. An opposition website, http://www.energy-charter-dirty-secrets.org, states:
“It currently applies to 48 countries stretching from Western Europe through Central Asia to Japan, plus the EU and the European Atomic Energy Community. It grants corporations in the energy sector enormous power to sue states at international investment tribunals for billions of dollars, for example, if a government decides to stop new oil or gas pipelines or to phase out coal.”
The point about it being, the ECT was negotiated largely in conditions of secrecy and is ruled over by an unaccountable triumvirate of anonymous lawyers hearing cases in private. It is increasingly subject to abuse by investment trusts effectively posing as energy corporations through the registration of “mailbox” companies having as few as four employees. The majority of judgements – 60 per cent – that have been resolved have gone against the States being sued, making the bringing of cases a lucrative sideline for the money-breathers.
And of course, losing States settle these often $1 billion-plus lawsuits out of public funds – at the expense of the taxpayers, whose very existence and that of the natural world that supports them is threatened by the well-protected ecocidal corporate policies of the big energy extractors and their oil-soaked shareholders.
And yet, more governments are queuing to sign up.
So the next time you read George Monbiot or Bill McKibben complaining that governments and politicians are not doing enough to halt climate change, just reflect on the ECT and the incredible power the energy corpses wield over our lives and even over our elected governments.
By the way, The BogPo still cannot fathom how on earth this execrable treaty came into being, who brokered it, what legal force it would have if you simply told the triumvirate to go fuck itself, in secret obviously, and why so many national States would want to sign up to it? What’s in it for them?
Can you fathom it?
“The Atomic Kitten singer Natasha Hamilton was initially flattered to be named Rear of the Year, but that soon changed. “The title felt a bit tongue in cheek,” she says.” Guardian report, presumably while the last competent subeditor on earth was away on holiday.
Infamy, they’ve all got it in for me!
On the day Melania Trump made a speech to schoolkids attacking cyber-bullies, her orange husband was tweeting this:
Trump said he hoped “the worst CIA Director in our country’s history, brings a lawsuit. It will then be very easy to get all of his records, texts, emails and documents to show not only the poor job he did, but how he was involved with the Mueller Rigged Witch Hunt. He won’t sue!”
It is quite astonishing, not only to those of us outside the Washington beltway (and mercifully, outside the USA altogether) who take a fascinated interest in these matters, that the Republican party hierarchy could read the contents of yet another screaming, paranoid, Sunday-morning Trump tweet like that and not conclude that the self-incriminating President is terminally unhinged.*
Not only is his continual, rambling assault (250 tweets and counting) on a legally constituted investigation by the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, into possible illegal “collusion” between his campaign staffers and the Russian foreign intelligence service, GRU, evidence of a clear and present attempt to obstruct justice.
His dire threat to “get all of his records” to show that former CIA Director, John Brennan is somehow involved with what Trump clearly imagines is a kind of illegitimate freelance assault on his dubious presidency, that he persists without a shred of evidence in blaming on the opposition Democratic party, is an open-and-shut case of extreme abuse of office and little short of blackmail.
And, frankly, in its puerile obsessiveness and wild, swingeing accusations, of insanity…. A craziness literally amplified to Volume 11 today in a Reuter’s interview he gave, in which the madman claimed he could easily take over and run the Mueller investigation himself, only he chooses not to.
(Someone I know was once sectioned under the Mental Health Act for entertaining far more convincing delusions.)
US Presidents do not normally publicly announce that they intend to use their powers to bully, blackmail and intimidate their critics, law officers and potential hostile witnesses into silence. And there is no connection whatever between Brennan and the Mueller investigation. None.
Except that in the bizarre world of Trump, all his critics and detractors – including, it seems, the entire intelligence community – and the ‘fake nooze’ media are plotting against him.
In this case, Trump is clearly terrified that Brennan in his previous incarnation has viewed and continued to have access to incriminating classified foreign intelligence material. Despite his repeated denials of collusion, a new book by veteran NYT journalist, Craig Unger traces more than 50 business connections Trump has had with Russians, many of them organized crime figures. No doubt they will all be known to the security establishment. Hence his many attempts to shut down the inquiry.
Suspending Brennan’s security clearance is just the first step in attempting to muzzle a potential witness, should Mueller find a way to indict a sitting President on felony charges – something that has never been done before, and which may not even be constitutionally possible. Trump’s Republican-packed Supreme Court may have to decide.
Trump is now floundering in uncharted waters. The two previous presidents who attempted to lie and bully their way out of impeachment proceedings, Nixon and Clinton, both made a hash of attacking the investigation as illegitimate. Clinton barely survived impeachment for lying to the House, having been undone by a splash of DNA on a blue dress. Nixon ultimately fell because of abusing his powers to fire, threaten and badger the Special Counsel and intimidate witnesses, when his blunt denials came up against the overwhelming weight of his self-bugged conversations.
The more Trump blusters and bullies, the more powerful enemies he is making and the deeper the pit he is digging for himself and his profoundly corrupt family administration. But as long as supine Senators like McConnell and Ryan, Lindsay Graham (a salutary reminder of his slimy hypocrisy turned up today on MSNBC, in the form of a clip of him denouncing Bill Clinton in the Senate) and the other Republican nematodes turn a blind eye to his worsening mental state and criminal past, you’re stuck with it.
What will we talk about when he’s gone?
*What are we to make, for instance, of his latest scrambled oration to his adoring dumbfucks in West Virginia?
Three months ago Trump was denying that he even knew Paul Manafort, who had worked for him only for a very short time, a few days, and had almost nothing to do with his election campaign. Now Manafort, 69, the former chairman for 145 days of the Trump election campaign, who honed his political skills in very well rewarded (but undeclared) positions with Kremlin-backed disruptors in Ukraine, is facing possibly 5-10 years in Leavenworth on tax and bank fraud charges, of which he has just been convicted in a court of law. And Trump is telling his dumbfuck base what a great guy Paul is – because unlike that little rat Cohen, his bagman and protégé for 10 years whom he also hardly knows, he hasn’t spilled the beans to the Mueller investigators.
Why, Donald, what might the Mueller team want beautiful Paul Manafort with his lovely family to talk to them about? Oh, right.
Your “collusion” with the Kremlin, maybe?
How stupid is this man?
Trump’s repeated assertion that he had no connection with Manafort’s activities in Russia and Ukraine is not exactly true, is it. Thus, we cannot entirely go along with frequent assertions in the media that Manafort’s legal difficulties do not relate to the possibility of collusion between the campaign and Moscow, and the Mueller probe. As, indeed, one might ask why Manafort was appointed to the chairmanship of the Trump campaign in the first place? What special skills did he bring to the party?
Eighteen months ago, Politico reported:
(We might note too that two Republican Congressmen, Collins and Hunter, both early Trump backers, are now independently under indictment – the former for insider trading, the latter for 2016 election fraud. Had the Democrats the spine to organize some kind of manifesto for positive change and find a figurehead to lead the charge (it seems they’re keeping Elizabeth Warren back for 2020), the “Blue wave” would seem a lot higher than it currently does.)
How do we know the Russians interfered with the US election in 2016?
One way was a “leak” by NSA employee, Reality Winner (an ironic case of nominative determinism, in view of the outcome of that election.)
Although the story emerged independently days later, Ms Winner was arrested and charged with espionage. Many lies were concocted by prosecutors to try to link her with the Taliban or with federal crimes, building a false and monstrous case against her. Her rights were trampled on and she was physically abused and intimidated into entering a guilty plea. She has now received a savage sentence.
Democracy Now! writes:
“NSA whistleblower Reality Winner was handed the longest sentence ever imposed in federal court for leaking government information to the media Thursday (23 Aug). She is the first person to be sentenced under the Espionage Act since President Trump took office.
“Winner was arrested by FBI agents at her home in Augusta, Georgia, on June 3, 2017, two days before The Intercept published an exposé revealing Russian military intelligence conducted a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software company just days before the U.S. presidential election. The exposé was based on a classified NSA report from May 5, 2017, that shows that the agency is convinced the Russian General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, was responsible for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
Powerful interview with James Risen, The Intercept’s senior national security correspondent and former New York Times reporter: https://democracynow.org
If anyone deserves a presidential pardon, it is surely Ms Winner, for her selfless act in exposing an attack by a hostile power on the US constitution, knowledge that her pathetic and disgusting employers had sat on for many months in fear of being accused of influencing the election; which Director slimy Jim Comey had then gone ahead and done anyway by leaking just days beforehand that he had reopened the investigation into Candidate Clinton’s emails.
But Trump is not going to pardon Winner, is he. He continues fatuously to deny the “reality” of the GRU campaign against his country, as everyone assumes because he was deeply complicit in it. His pardons are reserved only for those who express their loyalty to himself, or whose filthy racist politics and abuses in public office qualify them to belong to his exclusive club.
Ms Winner is now beginning a sentence of five years and one month for her patriotism and public service.
Shame on the in-Justice Department. Shame on the craven and bullying FBI. Shame on the madman, Trump.
Deep shame on America.
I’ve got a luvverly bunch of killer platelets
“…celebrity endorsements from Gwyneth Paltrow (for it is She… Ed.) and others have helped UK sales of coconut oil surge from about £1m to £16.4m in the past four years…” (Guardian report)
Researchers however have found that “Coconut oil contains more than 80% saturated fat, more than twice the amount found in lard, and 60% more than is found in beef dripping”, and is likely to massively increase lethal LDL cholesterol, leading to a pandemic of heart disease. Epidemiologist, Dr Karen Michels of Harvard University commented: “It’s one of the worst things you can eat … pure poison”.
Do not swallow Gwyneth Paltrow. You have been warned!
GW: “Hey-ho, the wind and the rain”
Pacific: “Ferocious Hurricane Lane continues to chug across the central Pacific. As of 5 pm EDT Monday, Lane was located about 580 miles southeast of Hilo, heading west at 12 mph. Lane’s top sustained winds had increased to 130 mph, making it a low-end Category 4 storm.” Bob Henson, Wunderground, reporting that weakening high pressure may allow Lane to veer northwards and collide with the Hawaiian islands.
Stop Press, 22 Aug: “…Central Pacific Hurricane Center upgraded Lane to Category 5 storm Tuesday, with top sustained winds near 160 mph and a minimum central pressure of 940 mb. Then:
“Lane intensified steadily through the day with its central pressure dropping from 940 mb at 2 pm EDT to 929 mb by 11 pm EDT. Data from a reconnaissance flight on Tuesday night showed Lane was strengthening even further, with an extrapolated central pressure of 922 mb and an SFMR surface wind estimate of 152 knots (175 mph) reported just before midnight EDT.” (Wunderground)
Top sustained wind of 175 mph implies gusts at the eyewall of 220 mph…. This is a beast and a half. Henson confirms, its northwesterly track should bring it over the Hawaiian islands on Saturday, where another state of emergency has been declared.
Korea: on top of its recent deadly heatwave, Korea is about to be slammed into by Typhoon Soulik, on an unusual west coast trajectory; while Typhoon Cimaron following on behind is about to collide with Japan, where record flooding killed over 200 people at the start of the month. With sustained windspeed of 115 mph, Soulik is a Cat 3, expected to dump perhaps 10-in of rain over the capital, Seoul. Cimaron is forecast to be a Cat 1 storm across central Japan, arriving perhaps just south of Kyoto, on Thursday 24 Aug, local time. (Wunderground)
India: is still getting hammered by monsoon rains. With the death toll over 320 in Kerala, 8 people have been killed in Karnataka since 14 Aug. “More than 800 homes have been destroyed and roads severely damaged, leaving communities isolated.” (Floodlist)
Niger: “19 people have died in flooding and landslides since July this year. As of 13 August, a total of 65,170 people had been affected in all 8 regions of the country. Over 5,000 homes have collapsed in the heavy rain, over 25,000 livestock and 6,535 hectares of crops have been destroyed.” 350 cases of cholera have been confirmed. (From Floodlist report citing local authorities) There’s flooding too in neighboring Nigeria, and in Algeria, where 5 people have died in floods near Tamanrasset.
Italy: 10 hikers drowned and a further 14 were rescued on 20 Aug when a creek running through a deep mountain gorge in the Pollino National Park in Calabria turned into a raging torrent after heavy rainfall upstream. Rescue teams, including divers, mountain rescue and a helicopter searched the area overnight. “Earlier this month 5 canyoners died when flash floods swept through a valley on the French island of Corsica“. (From Floodlist reports)
Portugal, Spain: record-breaking heat is expected to return to the Iberian peninsula at the weekend, with temperatures possibly exceeding 48C, 118F.
UK: “Car McGeddon…” Reports are only now emerging of a localized flood on 28 July that may have damaged up to 1000 cars parked at Belfast airport, after 88.2 mm rain fell in three hours – more than a month’s worth. Insurers have written off several cars to date, describing them as potential deathtraps. (BBC)
A problem we have with the media, in common with poor, frustrated Mr Trump: under Related Articles, without embarrassment the Express reports sequential stories it has recently run, as follows….
USA: “California remains in the grip of deadly wildfires which continue to threaten thousands of properties.” At least 10 people have been killed and 2 million acres burned. Some fires have been burning so fiercely they have created their own weather. A huge fire “tornado” in Shasta County (the Carr fire, now 91% under control) killed a firefighter and a digger driver, reaching a temperature hot enough to melt steel. (From Express report, 20 Aug.)
For latest Calfire info, there’s a good San Francisco Chronicle interactive at projects.sfchronicle.com/2018/fire-tracker/
Canada: “Forests burning across British Columbia are littered with millions of hectares of dead trees that turn into volatile fuel in conditions such as this year’s drought, experts say.” There are currently more than 500 wildfires burning across B.C., which has been in a province-wide state of emergency since last week. Fires are burning through dead wood resulting from a 1999-2012 pine-beetle infestation. Government has ignored successive reports warning about lack of funding for fire prevention. (Reporting: Vancouver Globe and Mail)
World: what we’re missing…
“To calculate the global mean on maps, NASA uses four zonal regions (90-24ºS, 24-0ºS, 0-24ºN, and 24-90ºN) and fills gaps in a region by the mean over the available data in that region. In datasets, however, missing data are typically ignored. This could make a difference of 0.2°C. Ignoring data for the Arctic alone could make a difference of 0.1°C.
Depending on how the above three points are dealt with, the temperature in August 2018 may well be more than 3°C above the mean annual global temperature in 1750. The question is whether August 2018 will be warmer than August 2016, which was 2.3°C warmer than 1980-2015.” – Arctic News.
Remembering that, while 2018 has not thus far been globally the hottest year ever measured, as a year with no warming El Niño current it still sits within the top five and all of those have fallen within the past five years; while many more hottest and most persistent temperature records (day or night) have been broken this year, than coldest. As Arctic News’ ‘Sam Carana’ points out (19 Aug) it’s the extremes that kill, not the global mean, and we ought to be paying more attention to those.
La terra trema….
There has been a huge increase in earthquake activity around the globe in the past week, with a corresponding increase in magnitudes. Following “the largest deep earthquake on record”, a M8.2 hundreds of Km beneath the south Pacific, northeast Venezuela was hit yesterday, 21 Aug, by a shallow M7.3, followed just four hours later by a provisional M7 in the Solomon Islands, near Vanuatu; and a M6.3 off the coast of Oregon.
Interestingly, the two recent M6+ earthquakes at Lombok, Indonesia are precisely antipodal to the Venezuela epicentre. Earthquake predictor, “Dutchsinse” warns, buckle up – it may get worse – and have a plan.
Pack a bag
The BogPo has wondered about the “Ring of Fire”, that connected chain of volcanoes and earthquake-prone zones all around the Pacific, that is so active at present. Is it perhaps a geological weakness in the Earth’s crust, a legacy of the ancient planetary collision that hollowed out the vast Pacific ocean basin and sent billions of tonnes of debris spinning into space to form our Moon?
Anyway, much speculation accompanies the latest outbreak of quakes and eruptions, that they might be leading up to a true ‘megaquake’ of M9 or greater. The US west coast seems favorite.
Or it could all just settle down again, no-one can say.