Saturday, November 23, 2019

Last Call For Climate of Disaster, Con't

Australia's record-setting bushfires, stoked by climate change and unprecedented drought, have all but wiped out the habitat for the island's koalas.

As Australia experiences record-breaking drought and bushfires, koala populations have dwindled along with their habitat, leaving them “functionally extinct.”

The chairman of the Australian Koala Foundation, Deborah Tabart, estimates that over 1,000 koalas have been killed from the fires and that 80 percent of their habitat has been destroyed.

Recent bushfires, along with prolonged drought and deforestation has led to koalas becoming “functionally extinct” according to experts.

Functional extinction is when a population becomes so limited that they no longer play a significant role in their ecosystem and the population becomes no longer viable. While some individuals could produce, the limited number of koalas makes the long-term viability of the species unlikely and highly susceptible to disease.

Deforestation and bushfires destroy the main nutrient source of koalas, the eucalyptus tree. An adult koala will eat up to 2 pounds of eucalyptus leaves per day as it’s main staple of nutrients. While eucalyptus plants will grow back after a fire, it will take months, leaving no suitable food source for koalas and starvation a likely scenario for many.

Many are urging the Australian government to enact the Koala Protection Act, written in 2016 but never passed into law and molded after the Bald Eagle Protection Act in the U.S. The Koala Protection Act would work to protect habitats and trees vital to koalas as well as protect koalas from hunting.

Recent viral videos of Australians rescuing koalas has led to increased donation to support hospitalization and help for burned koalas.

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital setup a Go Fund Me page seeking donations to help the hospital treat injured koalas. To date, they have raised $1.33 million, well over their $25,000 goal. This comes from over 30,000 donors.

Expect this to continue for the rest of your lifetime, and for the systematic obliteration of wildlife habitats to continue across the globe.  THousands of species are going to go extince in the next decade or so, and it's only a matter of time before humans end up on that endangered list.

Well, the poor members of our species, at any rate.  The rich ones will be fine.

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

More news from late last night, as the Washington Post broke the story that Trump is outright buying off dozens of House Republicans on the subject of impeachment with weekend trips to Camp David.

President Trump, partial to gold and marble elegance, never took a shine to rustic Camp David. So acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney pitched to him an unusual idea at the start of the House impeachment inquiry: Use the secluded mountainous presidential retreat to woo House Republicans.

Since then, Mulvaney and top White House officials have hosted weekend getaways for Republicans at the historic lodge, seeking to butter up Republicans before the big impeachment vote
. The casual itinerary includes making s’mores over the campfire, going hiking, shooting clay pigeons and schmoozing with Trump officials, some of whom stay overnight with lawmakers.

During dinners, Trump has called in to compliment members personally.

“I’ve worked with a number of Republican presidents over various administrations . . . and I’ve never, ever been invited to Camp David,” said Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.). “It was amazing to go for the short weekend. So historic.”
The Camp David excursions are one prong of a broad White House charm offensive, meant to hold House and Senate Republicans in line through a House impeachment vote and a trial in the Senate that appears all but inevitable. 
Never shy to feud with his own party, Trump has for weeks refrained from full-throated attacks against Republicans who have been even remotely critical of the conduct now under scrutiny by the House: The president’s attempts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee.

The White House has made sure that a small clutch of Republican lawmakers have accompanied Trump to a trio of recent sporting events, whether at the Ultimate Fighting Championship in New York, the World Series in Washington or at the football game in Tuscaloosa, Ala., between the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University

In recent weeks, the White House has also invited a group of GOP senators every Thursday to have lunch with the president, where the mealtime conversation rarely centers on impeachment but inevitably veers toward it, according to participants.
Trump’s message to the senators echoes what he has said publicly against charges that he abused the powers of his office, and Republicans who’ve attended say they feel no overt pressure from the president to stay on his side.

The corruption at this point is open and the whole Republican Party is coming along for the ride.  Transactional Trump is buying off lawmakers with trips and events because that's how he's always done business, so why should it be any different among House Republicans passing judgment on Trump's lawlessness?

It's the equivalent of a mob boss buying off grand jurors.

Oh, but it gets worse.  It always gets worse for the corrupt Trump regime, doesn't it?  Ethics watchdog group American Oversight released multiple documents from the State Department late Friday night obtained through FOIA requests, and they show contact between Rudy Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and between Giuliani and House Intelligence Committee GOP ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes all the way back in March of 2019.

Statement from American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers:

“We can see why Mike Pompeo has refused to release this information to Congress. It reveals a clear paper trail from Rudy Giuliani to the Oval Office to Secretary Pompeo to facilitate Giuliani’s smear campaign against a U.S. ambassador.

“This is just the first round of disclosures. The evidence is only going to get worse for the administration as its stonewall strategy collapses in the face of court orders.

“That American Oversight could obtain these documents establishes that there is no legal basis for the administration to withhold them from Congress. That conclusively shows that the administration is engaged in obstruction of justice. The president and his allies should ask themselves if impeachment for obstruction is worth it if the strategy isn’t even going to be effective.

“This lawsuit is just one of several American Oversight is pursuing to bring transparency to the Ukraine investigation. The public should expect more disclosures, over the administration’s strong objection, for the foreseeable future.”

In the Documents:

New: The documents show a March 26, 2019, call between Rudy Giuliani and Mike Pompeo. (Page 39 of document)

A March 28, 2019, email includes a list of scheduled calls for Pompeo. Calls include Rudy Giuliani on March 29, and Rep. Devin Nunes on April 1, 2019.

On March 27, 2019, Rudy Giuliani’s assistant contacted Madeleine Westerhout, who was serving as the president’s Oval Office gatekeeper at the time. She asked Westerhout for a “good number” for Pompeo, adding that she had “been trying and getting nowhere through regular channels.” Westerhout contacted someone at the State Department to ask for a number she could provide. (Page 55)

During his closed-door testimony, career diplomat David Hale mentioned two calls between Pompeo and Giuliani, one on March 28, 2019, and one on March 29. The documents include a March 28 email to Hale indicating that Pompeo had been the one to request a call with Giuliani. (Page 45)

The March 29 call appears on page 46, and the confirmation of its scheduling is on page 44.

Also in the documents: An April 5 letter to the State Department from six former U.S. ambassadors to Ukraine (including Bill Taylor), expressing their concern about the attacks on U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. (Page 13)

On April 12, 2019, Reps. Steny Hoyer and Eliot Engel wrote to Pompeo, also expressing their concern (page 28). The State Department responded on June 11, saying “Yovanovitch was due to complete her three-year diplomatic assignment in Kyiv this summer.” (Page 34).

The documents are here.

This criminality continues to be overwhelming at this point.  The corruption is across the board.  After Justin Amash's political career was butchered and hung to bleed out for everyone to see, no Republican will dare to lift a hand against Trump. 

So Trump will continue to buy loyal lawmakers with trips to Camp David and sporting events and more to protect himself, and the Republican party is now so utterly corrupt that they cannot escape Trump's criminal gravity without destroying themselves.

They would rather destroy the country than risk what happened to Amash happening to them.

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

Several stories related to the impeachment inquiry broke late last night, so we'll review.  First, and arguably most important: indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas's lawyer says Parnas is willing to testify to Congress against Giuliani...and GOP Rep. Devin Nunes.
A lawyer for an indicted associate of Rudy Giuliani tells CNN that his client is willing to tell Congress about meetings the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee had in Vienna last year with a former Ukrainian prosecutor to discuss digging up dirt on Joe Biden. 
The attorney, Joseph A. Bondy, represents Lev Parnas, the recently indicted Soviet-born American who worked with Giuliani to push claims of Democratic corruption in Ukraine. Bondy said that Parnas was told directly by the former Ukrainian official that he met last year in Vienna with Rep. Devin Nunes. 
"Mr. Parnas learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December," said Bondy
Shokin was ousted from his position in 2016 after pressure from Western leaders, including then-vice president Biden, over concerns that Shokin was not pursuing corruption cases. 
Nunes is one of President Donald Trump's key allies in Congress and has emerged as a staunch defender of the President during the impeachment inquiry, which he has frequently labeled as a "circus." Nunes declined repeated requests for comment. 
Bondy tells CNN that his client and Nunes began communicating around the time of the Vienna trip. Parnas says he worked to put Nunes in touch with Ukrainians who could help Nunes dig up dirt on Biden and Democrats in Ukraine, according to Bondy. 
That information would likely be of great interest to House Democrats given its overlap with the current impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and could put Nunes in a difficult spot. 
Bondy tells CNN his client is willing to comply with a Congressional subpoena for documents and testimony as part of the impeachment inquiry in a manner that would allow him to protect his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Bondy suggested in a tweet on Friday that he was already speaking to House Intel though the committee declined to comment

Somebody's gonna have a rotten Thanksgiving. Several somebodies, in fact.  And this is pretty huge news because Nunes's direct involvement in the Ukraine scandal means he has to recuse himself from the hearings, oh and yeah, there's the legal issues too.

And over in the Senate?  Republicans there were briefed that Russia was running disinformation ops to blame Ukraine for the 2016 election meddling, something Donald Trump has bought into full bore.

In a classified briefing this fall, US intelligence officials told senators and their aides that Russia has engaged in a years-long campaign to shift the blame away from Russia and onto Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 American presidential campaign, according to two US officials.

That briefing aligns closely with Thursday’s testimony from Fiona Hill, President Trump’s former top Russia expert. The message conveyed by US intelligence officials to lawmakers also takes on new relevance as many of those conspiracy theories have been increasingly repeated by Republican lawmakers.

Senators were told that the Russian disinformation operation focused on a handful of Ukrainians who openly criticized or sought to damage Trump’s candidacy — efforts that were significantly less organized than the multi-faceted election interference push ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, one US official said, confirming details first reported by the New York Times.

US intelligence officials also told lawmakers that Russia used intelligence operatives to spread now debunked conspiracies, along with established facts, to frame Ukraine for the interference in the 2016 campaign, the official said.

Russian intelligence officers conveyed that information to prominent Russians and Ukrainians, including oligarchs, to pass along to US political figures and some journalists who likely were unaware of where it came from, according to the same official.

All roads lead to Russia and Putin in the end with Trump and the GOP.  They are compromised so badly that our republic is failing because of it.
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