Friday, September 28, 2018

Last Call For Iran It Into The Ground

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has evacuated diplomats from the U.S. consulate in Basra after what he called “increasing and specific threats and incitement to attack” U.S. personnel in Iraq emanating from Iran.

Basra has been the scene of violent protests this month, including rocket attacks on the consulate that occurred as recently as today. While the Basra consulate is shuttered, a statement from Pompeo indicated that the risk to U.S. diplomats exists in Baghdad as well, where he said forces loyal to Iran had launched indirect fire attacks.

He said any harm to U.S. personnel will lead to Iran being held “directly responsible,” and conveyed that message through the Iraqi government, over which Iranian influence is growing. Iran’s escalating threats in Iraq cap a week that has seen the Trump administration launch a diplomatic broadside against Tehran in the United Nations and insist that 2,000 U.S. troops will remain in Syria until Iran withdraws its own.

A blanket preliminary blaming of Iran for anything that happens to US personnel in Iraq, 40 days out from midterm elections, is a recipe for making the Kavanaugh debacle and the Mueller probe vanish off the front page for weeks.

This definitely feels like a "Wag the Dog" scenario, coming just hours after Israel once again accused Iran of having a secret WMD stockpile.

Clandestine nuclear dumping. Concealing atomic material near a rug-cleaning plant. Lying to international partners.

Accusing Iran of all of the above, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu fired a new salvo Thursday in his campaign to prove that Tehran can’t be trusted and poses a massive threat to international security.

In response, Iran shrugged.

Netanyahu’s presentation at the U.N. General Assembly — brandishing props and exhibiting his trademark showmanship — marked the latest in a run of revelations or accusations about Iran’s nuclear program, as he ratchets up his campaign against the 2015 global accord that’s meant to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

He challenged U.N. nuclear inspectors to examine a new “secret atomic warehouse” near Tehran — but it’s unclear whether the announcement sheds new light on what inspectors already knew, or proves that Iran is violating the 2015 deal.

The warehouse announcement showcased Netanyahu’s unyielding views on Iran and anger at Europeans he accuses of appeasing Israel’s enemies.

Showing a map and photo of the site on oversize boards, he said Iran concealed “massive amounts of equipment and material” in a facility near a rug-cleaning plant in the Turquzabad district. He said Iranian officials cleared out some radioactive material in recent weeks and secretly released it around Tehran.

“You have to ask yourself a question: Why did Iran keep a secret atomic archive and a secret atomic warehouse?” he asked. “What Iran hides, Israel will find.”

Both Trump and Netanyahu are in deep political trouble, both of them mired in scandal that could lead to impeachment.  Both of them now pushing a need for potentially immediate military action against Tehran.

This is raising all sorts of alarm bells taken together.  Pretending that Trump would never try this is insane.  Democrats need to be raising holy hell over this now that our intelligence services are suddenly believable again to the Trump regime.

Stay tuned.  Things just got very, very serious.

Supreme Misgivings, Con't

So as expected, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-10 along party lines to advance Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, to a full Senate vote.  Those are the facts.  That's not the news.  The news is Sen. Jeff Flake absolutely living up to his name.

Sen. Jeff Flake said he will vote to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court with the understanding that the sexual assault accusation against him will be investigated by the FBI.

“I think it would be proper to delay the floor vote for up to but not more than one week in order to let the FBI do an investigation limited in time and scope,” Flake said on Friday afternoon, just hours after announcing he would support Kavanaugh.

Of course, that means Mitch McConnell has to delay the vote, and Donald Trump has to get the FBI to open the investigation, neither of which happened nor will happen.

But something might have happened, and that something is Donald Trump may have reached his limit.

Now, the most likely outcome is that Mitch knows he has 50 votes without Flake and wrenches enough arms out of sockets to get his procedural vote tomorrow and full vote on Monday.

But just maybe that's not how this plays out.  Maybe Mitch doesn't have the 50 votes without Flake.  Maybe he does with Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp defecting from the Democrats, and he can let Flake, Collins, and Murkowski go.

Maybe this isn't over yet.

We'll see tomorrow.

Climate Of Destruction

The Trump regime is more than happy to let the rich strip-mine the country for every last dollar of profit and let the poors kill each other over food and water while they stay in gated enclaves protected by armies of police with military surplus weapons, you see.  They no longer deny climate change will be a global catastrophe.  They just don't give a damn anymore, and never did.

Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees by the end of this century.

A rise of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 4 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe.

But the administration did not offer this dire forecast, premised on the idea that the world will fail to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed.

The draft statement, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was written to justify President Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020. While the proposal would increase greenhouse gas emissions, the impact statement says, that policy would add just a very small drop to a very big, hot bucket.

“The amazing thing they’re saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society,” said Michael MacCracken, who served as a senior scientist at the U.S. Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002. “And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it.”

The document projects that global temperature would rise by nearly 3.5 degrees Celsius from what it averaged between 1986 and 2005 regardless of whether Obama-era tailpipe standards take effect or are frozen for six years, as the Trump administration has proposed. The global average temperature rose more than 0.5 degrees Celsius between 1880, the start of industrialization, and 1986, which means the analysis assumes a roughly 4 degree Celsius or 7 degree Fahrenheit rise from preindustrial levels.

The world would have to make deep carbon cuts to avoid the kind of drastic warming envisioned in this 2100 scenario, the analysis states, which “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels and would require the economy and the vehicle fleet to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The regime has declared that the problem of climate change is real, but it is too costly to fix, so America will no longer try to do so.

One has to wonder that since we apparently just declared war on the rest of the planet's population, how long the earth's other 7.5 billion people will choose to tolerate that situation.

My guess is not much longer.


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