Sunday, December 15, 2019

Last Call For Climate of Disaster, Con't

The Trump regime pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords may be a massive, intractable problem for the world, but the rest of the planet isn't exactly coming together on climate solutions either.

Marathon international climate talks ended Sunday with major polluters resisting calls to ramp up efforts to keep global warming at bay and negotiators postponing the regulation of global carbon markets until next year.

Those failures came even after organizers added two more days to the 12 days of scheduled talks in Madrid. In the end, delegates from almost 200 nations endorsed a declaration to help poor countries that are suffering the effects of climate change, although they didn’t allocate any new funds to do so.

The final declaration called on the “urgent need” to cut planet-heating greenhouse gases in line with the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate change accord. That fell far short of promising to enhance countries’ pledges to cut planet-heating greenhouse gases next year, which developing countries and environmentalists had lobbied the delegates to achieve.

The Paris accord established the common goal of avoiding a temperature increase of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. So far, the world is on course for a 3- to 4-degree Celsius rise, with potentially dramatic consequences for many countries, including rising sea levels and fiercer storms.

Negotiators in Madrid left some of the thorniest issues for the next climate summit in Glasgow in a year, including the liability for damages caused by rising temperatures that developing countries were insisting on. That demand was resisted mainly by the United States.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he was “disappointed” by the meeting’s outcome.

“The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis,” he said. “We must not give up and I will not give up.”

“It’s sad that we couldn’t reach a final agreement” on carbon markets, admitted the climate summit’s chair, Carolina Schmidt, Chile’s environment minister.

“We were on the verge,” she said, adding that the goal was to establish markets that are “robust and environmentally sustainable.”

Economists say putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, would allow countries or companies to trade emissions permits that can be steadily reduced — encouraging businesses to transition to low-emission technologies.

The carbon-market failure did not upset everyone. Countries in Europe and elsewhere had said that no deal on how to govern the exchange of carbon credits was better than a weak one that could undermine a dozen or so existing regional carbon mechanisms.

“Thankfully, the weak rules on a market based mechanism, promoted by Brazil and Australia, that would have undermined efforts to reduce emissions has been shelved,” said Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a campaign group.

Helen Mountford, from the environmental think-tank World Resources Institute, said that “given the high risks of loopholes discussed in Madrid, it was better to delay than accept rules that would have compromised the integrity of the Paris Agreement.

So the world will try again in 2020, as they have for decades, and that too will most likely end in failure.  A quarter-century after Kyoto should have been ratified and put into place globally at the cost of billions, we're now arguing over who will pay for the planetary triage that will cost trillions instead.

I'm a great uncle these days, my brother's daughter gave birth this week to an adorable baby boy, and I'm wondering what world the little one will grow up in. 

When he becomes an adult, what will he think of the world he will inherit from us, and how much will he despise us for it?

It's About Suppression, Con't

Republicans continue to disenfranchise voters across the country, and in nearly every instance it's voters in predominantly black and Hispanic counties. Wisconsin is arguably the most critical battleground state from an electoral college standpoint in 2020, and a Republican judge has just purged nearly a quarter of a million voters from the rolls.

At issue is a letter the state Elections Commission sent in October to about 234,000 voters who it believes may have moved. The letter asked the voters to update their voter registrations if they had moved or alert election officials if they were still at their same address.

The commission planned to remove the letter's recipients from the voter rolls in 2021 if it hadn't heard from them. But Malloy's decision would kick them off the rolls much sooner, and well before the 2020 presidential election.

Before Friday's hearing, Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul said in an interview that quickly removing voters from the rolls would cause "clear harm to Wisconsin voters." That's because some people who haven't moved would likely lose their ability to vote, at least for the time being.

"Any time people have to go through extra steps to vote, and certainly re-registering is a significant additional step, the result is that fewer people end up voting," he said. "Fewer people will be registered. A number of people will have to re-register."

Three voters sued the commission last month with the help of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. They argued election officials were required to remove voters from the rolls 30 days after sending the letters if they hadn't heard from them.

They asked Malloy to issue an injunction that would require election officials to purge their rolls. Kaul, commissioners and others say that would lead to some people getting knocked off the rolls who shouldn't be.

But Malloy went further than issuing an injunction. In granting a writ of mandamus — essentially a court order that a government official or agency do its job — he said he was convinced the commission had a clear, positive, plain legal duty to purge the voter rolls within 30 days.

"I don't want to see someone deactivated, but I don't write the law," said Malloy, who was appointed to the bench in 2002 by Republican Gov. Scott McCallum and has been re-elected by voters

And of course, the reason these voters are suspect in the first place is because of the state's record system, ERIC.  Wisconsin did the same thing in 2017 with more than a third of a million voters based on ERIC records and found that the vast majority of them had not moved and should have kept their voter registration intact.  Now Wisconsin is doing it again.

Considering we know our Russian friends have broken into state voter registration systems in all 50 states, and that our GOP friends refuse to allow legislation to pass that would strengthen America's defenses against those attacks, it doesn't take a genius to see how it would be easy to de-register and disenfranchise registered Democrats all over the country.

Please check and recheck your voter registration status on a regular basis.  Most states allow you to check online, even Kentucky.

They don't have a flip a single vote if they can keep millions of Democrats from voting at all.

Sunday Long Read: The Forever War

After three years of fighting with the Trump regime over FOIA requests, Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock has put together an indispensable (and Pulitzer-worthy) series on America's massive 18-year failure in Afghanistan.
In the interviews, more than 400 insiders offered unrestrained criticism of what went wrong in Afghanistan and how the United States became mired in nearly two decades of warfare.

With a bluntness rarely expressed in public, the interviews lay bare pent-up complaints, frustrations and confessions, along with second-guessing and backbiting.

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015. He added: “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

“If the American people knew the magnitude of this dysfunction . . . 2,400 lives lost,” Lute added, blaming the deaths of U.S. military personnel on bureaucratic breakdowns among Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department. “Who will say this was in vain?”
Since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, 2,300 died there and 20,589 were wounded in action, according to Defense Department figures.

The interviews, through an extensive array of voices, bring into sharp relief the core failings of the war that persist to this day. They underscore how three presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump — and their military commanders have been unable to deliver on their promises to prevail in Afghanistan.
With most speaking on the assumption that their remarks would not become public, U.S. officials acknowledged that their warfighting strategies were fatally flawed and that Washington wasted enormous sums of money trying to remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.

The interviews also highlight the U.S. government’s botched attempts to curtail runaway corruption, build a competent Afghan army and police force, and put a dent in Afghanistan’s thriving opium trade.

The U.S. government has not carried out a comprehensive accounting of how much it has spent on the war in Afghanistan, but the costs are staggering.

Since 2001, the Defense Department, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development have spent or appropriated between $934 billion and $978 billion, according to an inflation-adjusted estimate calculated by Neta Crawford, a political science professor and co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University.

Those figures do not include money spent by other agencies such as the CIA and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for medical care for wounded veterans.

“What did we get for this $1 trillion effort? Was it worth $1 trillion?” Jeffrey Eggers, a retired Navy SEAL and White House staffer for Bush and Obama, told government interviewers. He added, “After the killing of Osama bin Laden, I said that Osama was probably laughing in his watery grave considering how much we have spent on Afghanistan.”

The documents also contradict a long chorus of public statements from U.S. presidents, military commanders and diplomats who assured Americans year after year that they were making progress in Afghanistan and the war was worth fighting. 
Several of those interviewed described explicit and sustained efforts by the U.S. government to deliberately mislead the public. They said it was common at military headquarters in Kabul — and at the White House — to distort statistics to make it appear the United States was winning the war when that was not the case.

“Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible,” Bob Crowley, an Army colonel who served as a senior counterinsurgency adviser to U.S. military commanders in 2013 and 2014, told government interviewers. “Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”

John Sopko, the head of the federal agency that conducted the interviews, acknowledged to The Post that the documents show “the American people have constantly been lied to.”

Part 2 of the series is here, taking a look at the fundamental flaws in America's warfighting strategy from day one.

Afghanistan has been the pervasive American military disaster for my generation and younger.  I know several people who went out into the Sandbox over the years and while all of them came back, they were far from being all there when they returned.  And this entire mess was one huge lie.

It always was, but now we know everyone knew, including and especially our own government, a trillion dollar puppet show that destroyed our credibility and is still ongoing.
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