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The Dying Planet Report 2020

The Dying Planet Report 2020

Photograph Source: Christopher Michel – CC BY 2.0

The World Wildlife Foundation, in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, recently issued an eye-popping description of the forces of humanity versus life in nature, the Living Planet Report 2020, but the report should really be entitled the Dying Planet Report 2020 because that’s what’s happening in the real world. Not much remains alive.

The report, released September 10th, describes how the over-exploitation of ecological resources by humanity from 1970 to 2016 has contributed to a 68% plunge in wild vertebrate populations, inclusive of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish.

The report offers a fix-it: “Bending the Curve Initiative,” described in more detail to follow. The causes of collapse are found in human recklessness and/or neglect of ecosystems. It’s partially fixable (maybe) but don’t hold your breath.

What if stocks plunged 68%? What then? Why, of course, that is an all-hands-on-deck panic scenario with the Federal Reserve Bank repeatedly pressing “a white hot printing press button,” hopefully, avoiding destructive deflationary forces looming in the background. But, an astounding jaw-dropping 68% loss of vertebrates doesn’t seem to budge the panic needle nearly enough to count.

Of special note, according to the Report, tropical sub-regions were clobbered, hit hard with 94% loss of vertebrate life, which is essentially total extinction. For comparison purposes, the worst extinction event in history, the Permian-Triassic, aka: the Great Dying, of 252 million years ago took down 96% of marine life and has been classified as “global annihilation.”

According to the Report, on a worldwide basis, two-thirds (2/3rds) of wild vertebrate life has vanished in only 46 years or within one-half a human lifetime. That is mind-boggling, and it is indicative of misguided mindlessness, prompting a query of what the next 46 years will bring. What remains is an operative question?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions are Fate

Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions are Fate

Mill, Halsey, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

I developed a model of Global Warming based on the anthropogenic perturbation of the Carbon Cycle. The essence of this model is a rate equation for the evolution of the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere.

The interesting results from this model are projected trends for the CO2 concentration and the average global temperature during the next century. The character of those trends — whether rapid rises, shallow plateaus, or diminishment into the future — depend crucially on the magnitude of our civilization’s emissions of CO2, and whether those anthropogenic emissions increase or decrease with time. In the real world at present, they are increasing.

I have now been able to include the effect of linearly increasing or decreasing anthropogenic emissions into my Carbon Balance Model, which has been significantly improved.

This model also includes the effect of the increase in the rate at which atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by photosynthesis and the surface waters of the oceans, because those absorption rates are increasingly stimulated by the higher levels of CO2 in the air. This process of absorption-enhancement cannot continue indefinitely as the atmospheric CO2 concentration increases, but at what point of elevated CO2 concentration it saturates and then absorption largely shuts down, is unknown.

The third process included in the model is that of the slow absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the chemical reactions of weathering on the surfaces of rocks and soils. CO2 not “quickly” scavenged from the air by photosynthesis or the surface waters of the oceans will stay airborne for 12,000 to 14,000 years. The ~2,500ppm spike of atmospheric CO2 that occurred 55.5 million years ago took 200,000 years to clear away.

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Possible Future Trends of CO2 Concentration and Global Temperature

Possible Future Trends of CO2 Concentration and Global Temperature

Wildfire smoke and power line, northern California. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Carbon dioxide gas (CO2) has been accumulating in the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution (~1750), because increasingly voluminous fluxes of that gas have been exhausted from the lands and the oceans, and are beyond the capacity of natural CO2 sinks to absorb completely.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, carbon would cycle through a variety of processes that sustained the continuation of life, death, evolution and rebirth, and that all meshed into one grand balance. That balance is called the Carbon Cycle.

The explosive growth of human activity, numbers, exosomatic power, economic wealth, military overkill, and hubristic political pretensions, all spring from the access to and profligate use of heat-energy liberated from fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is the exhaust fume from our Promethean exertions for greater conquests — and wealth.

The carbon dioxide exhausted by our civilization’s generation of heat-energy, and from our massive exploitation of once virgin land areas, is an increasingly destabilizing perturbation of the Carbon Cycle. This perturbation is called Anthropogenic Emissions.

The imbalance of the Carbon Cycle reverberates through the natural world in many ways that are increasingly harmful and dangerous to Planet Earth’s habitability for ourselves and for many other animal and plant species. The central reality of this complex of growing threats to the viability of the Biosphere is called Global Warming.

Carbon dioxide gas traps heat radiated towards space, as infrared radiation from the surface of Planet Earth, reducing our planet’s ability to regulate its temperature by cooling to compensate for the influx of solar light that is absorbed by the lands and the oceans, and stored by them as heat.

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How Low Flows Due to Irrigation are Destroying Oregon’s Deschutes River

How Low Flows Due to Irrigation are Destroying Oregon’s Deschutes River

The majority of water removed from the Deschutes is used to grow irrigated pasture and hay for livestock not crops consumed directly by humans.  Photo by George Wuerthner

The recent article “Low Flows On Deschutes” highlights why irrigation is a significant threat to our river’s ecological integrity.

According to the report, flows on a portion of the Deschutes dropped to 60 CFS leaving many parts of the river channel dry. To put this into perspective, historically, before irrigators took our water from us,  the river ran at 1000-1200 CFS year-round.  As a spring-fed river, the Deschutes supported outstanding fisheries.

Huge trout caught out of the Deschutes near the turn of the century before irrigation destroyed the river.

This tragedy continues because the public is not standing up for its rights. We, the people, own the water in the river, not the irrigators. We allow the irrigators to take water from the river without any compensation to the public, and regardless of the damage done to aquatic ecosystems. This system was devised by irrigators to serve irrigators a century ago.

Isn’t it time for us to enter the modern age? Using water in the desert to grow hay for livestock is just a crazy waste of a valuable resource. Keeping water in the river would provide for greater recreational use. And maintaining viable flows would protect aquatic life like spotted frogs, trout, and salmon, not to mention all the other water-dependent species like eagles, mink, otter, and the rest.

Despite the claims to “water rights” the actual water in all state rivers belongs to  Oregon citizens as affirmed by the Oregon Supreme Court.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Whatever Happened to the Green New Deal?

Whatever Happened to the Green New Deal?

The Green New Deal was the signature issue of the Green Party in the 2010s. Howie Hawkins was the first US candidate to campaign for a Green New Deal in 2010 running for New York governor. The Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2012 and 2016, Jill Stein, made “A Green New Deal for America” the theme of her two campaigns.

The ecosocialist Green New Deal proposed by the Green Party’s 2020 presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins, is a 10-year, $27.5 trillion a program to achieve zero-to-negation carbon emissions and 100% clean energy by 2030. It also includes an additional $1.4 trillion a year for an Economic Bill of Rights to a guaranteed job, a guaranteed income above poverty, affordable housing, Medicare for All, lifelong tuition-free public education, and a secure retirement by doubling Social Security benefits.

This ecosocialist approach features extensive public ownership and planning, particularly in the energy, transportation, and manufacturing sectors, in order to achieve its goals in a decade. To support the conversion of industrialized, pesticide-dependent corporate agriculture to organic farms owned by working farmers that rebuild carbon-capturing living soils, the ecosocialist Green New Deal provides income guarantees, parity pricing and supply management for all agricultural products in order to ensure that working farmers and farmworkers have decent incomes and economic security.

The ecosocialist approach recognizes that capitalism’s destruction of the climate and exploitation of people are part of the same process. It recognizes that in order to harmonize society with nature we must harmonize human with human by ending economic exploitation and all forms of oppression. It calls for an ecosocialist economic democracy that meets the basic needs of all within ecological limits.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Criminology of Global Warming

The Criminology of Global Warming

Pulp mill, Longview, Washington. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Some – like Exxon since 1957 – have been aware that the world is facing global warming that has all the signs to render earth uninhabitable. At least with United Nations’ IPPC and NASA reporting on global warming, others have realised that we also face an unprecedented threat. Potentially, all of this is an issue of criminology. Somewhat similar to biology and psychology, criminology is the science of crime and criminal behaviour. Global warming can be seen from an environmental, geological, atmospheric, capitalist, etc. perspective, but it can also be seen as an issue of criminology.

Like lawyers and judges, etc., criminologists also prefer tide and often somewhat legalistic definitions to work with. For them, global warming is simply defined as the rising of the earth’s temperature. At the same time, climate change is seen as the inter-related effects of rising temperatures on our environment and on human beings.

Criminology comes into play when global warming is caused by harmful behaviour that contributes to the problem. It also comes in when human, state or corporate actions prevent responses to global warming. At the centre of criminology is the idea that a corporation or someone can commit a wrong. In a second step, criminology stresses that these wrongs demand a response.

One might simply argue that a crime is what the law defines as a crime. The l’idée fixe of malum prohibitum is, for example, that something is not so much a crime because it is inherently wrong, but because the laws of a state prohibit it. This idea lets some off the hook – for example, those who perpetrated the Holocaust. Nazi Germany certainly did not have a law that states, if you kill communists, trade unionists, democrats, homosexuals, Gipsies, and Jews, you will be punished. Instead, the opposite was the case. Auschwitz fulfilled every single regulation down to the German building code.

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Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK?

Post-Brexit Agrochemical Apocalypse for the UK?

The British government, regulators and global agrochemical corporations are colluding with each other and are thus engaging in criminal behaviour. That’s the message put forward in a new report written by environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason and sent to the UK Environment Agency. It follows her January 2019 open letter to Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer CropScience, where she made it clear to him that she considers Bayer CropScience and Monsanto criminal corporations.

Her letter to Baumann outlined a cocktail of corporate duplicity, cover-ups and criminality which the public and the environment are paying the price for, not least in terms of the effects of glyphosate. Later in 2019, Mason wrote to Bayer Crop Science shareholders, appealing to them to put human health and nature ahead of profit and to stop funding Bayer.

Mason outlined with supporting evidence how the gradual onset of the global extinction of many species is largely the result of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture. She argued that Monsanto’s (now Bayer) glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide and Bayer’s clothianidin are largely responsible for the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and that the use of glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides are wiping out wildlife species across the globe.

In February 2020, Mason wrote the report ‘Bayer Crop Science rules Britain after Brexit – the public and the press are being poisoned by pesticides’. She noted that PM Boris Johnson plans to do a trade deal with the US that could see the gutting of food and environment standards. In a speech setting out his goals for trade after Brexit, Johnson talked up the prospect of an agreement with Washington and downplayed the need for one with Brussels – if the EU insists the UK must stick to its regulatory regime. In other words, he wants to ditch EU regulations.

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The UK and US are Starting a New Cold War with Russia and China, So What are These Governments Trying to Hide?

The UK and US are Starting a New Cold War with Russia and China, So What are These Governments Trying to Hide?

Photograph Source: Jonathan Stonehouse – CC BY 2.0

The new Cold War launched by the West against China and Russia is escalating by the day. In a single week, the Kremlin has been unmasked trying to discover the secrets of Britain’s pursuit of a vaccine against coronavirus and revelations are promised about covert Russian interference in British politics. Boris Johnson made a U-turn on Huawei, announcing that it is to be kicked out of participation in the 5G network because it poses a threat to British security, though a curiously slow-burning one since they will only be evicted over seven years.

The US may put the widely-used Chinese video app TikTok on a blacklist that would prevent Americans from using it. The administration is considering using the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act in order to penalise TikTok as “an unusual and extraordinary threat” to US security. President Trump says he is considering banning the app in response to the way China handled the coronavirus epidemic.

This is a clue to the prime motive for Trump to ramp up the Cold War against China, which is his determination to win a second term in the White House by diverting voters’ attention from his catastrophic handling of the pandemic. “Don’t defend Trump – attack China,” is the advice of a leaked 57-page memo circulated among Republican Senatorial candidates in April. It suggested that Republican politicians should blame China for starting the epidemic by allowing the virus to escape from a laboratory in Wuhan, lying about it and hoarding medical equipment needed to treat the sick.

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Deconstructing Civilization

Deconstructing Civilization

Old paper mill, Oregon City, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

“Our confidence in our ability to direct the course of events has been severely eroded by the experiences of the twentieth century. Several disastrous wars have occurred, against all efforts to prevent them, and even the United Nations has been almost totally unsuccessful in achieving the peaceful world that was its founding vision. We seem powerless to control crime, urban deterioration, overpopulation, the arms race, and nuclear proliferation. These experiences suggest that there is a grand dynamic in history that goes largely where it will and is highly resistant to efforts made to redirect it.”

Muddling Toward Frugality, Warren Johnson, 1979

It’s hard not to like George Orwell. And it’s hard not to admire Arnold J. Toynbee. But I didn’t expect to find myself disagreeing with both of them on an issue (let’s call it, thanks to Warren Johnson, a “grand dynamic in history”) that both Orwell and Toynbee clearly agree on.

Well, maybe I suspected that point of disagreement with Toynbee, the famous world historian. But not with Orwell, the fighter for Spanish democracy and the author of 1984.

It’s been over thirty years since I first read Toynbee’s Civilization on Trial, published in 1948. And one couldn’t help but feel—not just Toynbee’s accrued historical erudition—but the Nazi death camps and the American atom bombs behind the urgency of his writing.

In his book, Toynbee says explicitly that the “two congenital diseases of civilization” are “War and Class.” He goes on to say that “recent technological inventions of the modern Western middle class” have now made “Class . . . capable of irrevocably disintegrating Society, and War of annihilating the entire human race.”

Well, nothing to disagree with there.

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The Sky Is Falling – Yes – No

The Sky Is Falling – Yes – No

Image Source: Joseph Pennell – Public Domain

The sky is falling is one of the more disturbing thoughts in society today, as to whether climate change is on a fast track collision course with doomsday amidst a collapsing society.

In that regard, according to the details of a scathing review by ScientistsWarning.org (“SW”) of Jem Bendell’s wildly popular “Deep Adaptation” the answer is no, not yet. Society is not ready to keel over, as postulated in Bendell’s paper.

Whew! Climate change handwringers, sleepless nights, can take a deep breath, exhale and relax based upon the critique of Bendell’s very popular paper, which crystal balls the “end to society” within only decades, or less, depending.

In strong terms, ScientistsWarning.org’s thought-provoking rebuttal expresses outrage over Professor Jem Bendell’s doomsday thesis in its article entitled “The Faulty Science, Doomism, and Flawed Conclusion of Deep Adaptation” d/d July 14, 2020 by Thomas Nicholas, Galen Hall, and Colleen Schmidt, fact-checked by scientists.

The full article can be accessed at www.ScientistsWarning.org.

Accordingly, within the opening two paragraphs of SW’s rebuttal: “In the past few years we have seen a troubling trend: a few figures in the climate movement using science — or what looks like science — to justify increasingly dire and prophetic, but ultimately unsupported claims about the future.”

Bendell’s Deep Adaptation became an overnight cult classic amongst many on the front lines of environmental justice, a brooding downcast thesis of the inevitability of “social collapse” because of the ravages of climate change/global warming, meaning there is no way out, humanity’s trapped in an insidious fireball of doom that’ll hit hard.

SW takes issue with Bendell: “(1) cherry-picking data (2) citing false reports (3) forwarding logical fallacies (4) disregard of robust scientific consensus.”

In SW’s words: “Neither social science nor the best available climate science support Deep Adaptation’s core premise: that near-term societal collapse due to climate change is inevitable.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Government Mostly Helps People Who Need It the Least…Even During a Crisis

Why Government Mostly Helps People Who Need It the Least…Even During a Crisis


In January 2020, the NASDAQ stock market’s index stood just under 10,000. In the March crash, it fell to 7,000. As of July 10, 2020, it hit 10,600. The U.S. government’s economic policies produced a “recovery” for the rich who own the vast bulk of stocks. Their holdings are worth more now than before COVID-19 hit us. The other major benchmarks for securities, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard and Poor 500, show similarly dramatic, slightly smaller recoveries.

Massive government economic intervention—what most of its current beneficiaries have always denounced—subsidized those recoveries. The Federal Reserve pumped unprecedented amounts of new money into the U.S. economy after mid-March. That money poured into the stock market and fueled its rise. The U.S. Treasury provided unprecedented direct cash supports to much of corporate America.

Over the same time, government economic support for the working class was too little, too late, and totally inadequate to what could and should have been done. In their unequal impacts, government economic policies were cruel and unjust. In this, they resemble government public health policies. With under 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States accounts for about 25 percent of COVID-19 cases and about 24 percent of COVID-19 deaths globally. All but the most ideologically blinded (and government supporters) know what such a statistic means.

I focus here on how the government’s economic policies affected corporations versus employees, the rich versus the middle class and the poor. Direct government support sustained most corporations. Bigger and richer corporations hire more and better lobbyists, make larger actual or potential donations to politicians and parties, and so on. They thus got big portions of government help. In general, the pandemic and crash hurt medium and small businesses more than big ones, while the latter got disproportionate government help.

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Democracy and the Illusion of Choice

Democracy and the Illusion of Choice

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

The neoliberal logic of everything for the rich is now so deeply embedded in American political economy that its base assumptions appear untouchable, except in rare and extraordinary circumstances. With the Covid pandemic exacerbating the current crisis of capitalism, political and economic defense mechanisms make restoring the people and institutions that created the crisis appear to be the only alternative (once again) to solving it. And from the potential victory of a social democratic program five months ago, electoral choice is now between a right-wing demagogue and the chief architect of the carceral state, militarization of the police and liberal obeisance to capital.

There is a connection between the Democrats three-plus years spent pushing the un / disproven Russiagate story and Joe Biden’s miraculous ascent as the establishment candidate in 2020. The Russiagate allegations shifted attention away from rejection of the Democrat’s political program in 2016 so that they could run the same program again in 2020. Amongst the political variables open for ‘discussion,’ the choice of candidate is all there is. The political program is determined at the intersection of campaign contributions, the needs and desires of capital, and the ids of oligarchs freed from public accountability. Democracy has nothing to do with it.

Graph: the ‘racist backlash’ theory of Donald Trump’s election effectively divided the victims of neoliberal economic policies by race. The actual number of white racist and neo-Nazi groups has been declining since 2012. And before rococo explanations for this decline are sought, the rise and fall of hate groups tracks unemployment quite closely (graph below). Whatever the nature of Mr. Trump’s appeals, when Black Separatist groups are excluded from the ‘hate group’ data, the number of white racist and neo-Nazi hate groups followed the unemployment rate lower. Source: SPLC.

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The US Military Has Its Knee on the Throat of the World

The US Military Has Its Knee on the Throat of the World

The 2021 Defense Budget is making its way through Congress. The annual drama of this event has always been of particular interest to residents of the north Pacific Coast, as the US Navy’s nursery lies only twelve miles off our coast. This is where many of the weapons purchased by Congress take their first baby steps of testing and training before deployment. As a requirement for approval of the Navy’s Environmental Impact Statement regarding these exercises, the Navy must consult us every few years. This opportunity to confront Navy personnel has provided an opportunity to become acquainted with the environmental effects of these weapons, and, just as importantly, the menace their ever-increasing lethality constitutes for life on earth.

I watched some of the Armed Services Committee hearings on the budget. Generals and other military representatives were visibly pleased with their new product. As Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, observed, “The character of war is changing frequency”.

The messy, scrappy, unsatisfying, asymmetrical wars in the devastated Middle East have lost the interest of our warriors, as two worthier adversaries, China and Russia, have been conjured up, and now grip their attention. Although our budget comprises over 40% of the world’s military spending, and China and Russia spend respectively one-sixth and one-tenth of ours, the Pentagon refers to them generously as “near-peers”.

China and Russia are not eager for these roles. We have had to torment them, like reluctant bulls in a bullfight. We sail our warships within twelve miles of their shores, conducting vast military exercises in the South China Sea, the Black Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Japan Sea.

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Arctic Heat Overwhelms Green Infighting Issues

Arctic Heat Overwhelms Green Infighting Issues

Image Source: Hunter Allen and Richard Rivera – Public Domain

Arctic temperatures are soaring to new records… and staying there, ever since May of this year. Truth be known, the Arctic’s been heating up for years. Siberia recently hit 105°F. That’s not normal. It’s 30°F hotter than normal.

Farther south, the Amazon rainforest is hit with a drought every 5 years like clockwork, not regular run of the mill droughts but massive excessive devastating droughts. NASA’s GRACE satellite, measuring water levels stored deep beneath Earth’s surface showed Deep Red Zones beneath the Amazon rainforest, not watery blue.

Climate activists have been warning about overheating of the planet for decades, ever since Dr. James Hansen’s testimony before the Senate in 1987: “The greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.” (Hansen)

Fast forward to June 2020: Since Hansen’s testimony, thirty-three years of climate activists bitching, protesting, kicking and screaming and bellyaching about excessive human-generated CO2 has gone nowhere but backward as a relentless rise in CO2 emissions trudges ahead measured at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii.

Post-Hansen’s testimony the annual rate of CO2 increase has more than doubled, not gone down but doubled. Up, up and away, year-over-year, it never goes down. It’s the main culprit blanketing the atmosphere, retaining heat for hundreds of years and fast becoming the Big Oven in the Sky.

Clearly, too much heat has already overwhelmed the Arctic and Amazon rainforest ecosystems. Along the way, greenie frustration is finally coming to a head as environmentalists “catfight” in open public.

For example, Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs’ controversial film Planet of the Humans (Rumble Media) serves as an opening salvo, exposing a green movement that has turned a light shade of brown. The film paints a painful picture of a movement that, in certain instances, has gone off the rails.

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The War That Time Forgot

The War That Time Forgot

Drone targeting footage, Afghanistan. Photo: USAF.

I hear it all the time. The most crucial decision of this century was the vote to go to war against Iraq. It’s meant to serve as a political line of demarcation, a sure-fire way to determine which politicians, celebrities and news personalities you can trust.

But there’s little question, to my mind at least, that the impulsive decision to invade Afghanistan was the more consequential and enduring tragedy, a political bloodletting that nearly every political leader, left and right, fell for, even putative peaceniks like Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul. This was the true moral test of our time and almost everyone failed, except Barbara Lee. She was the lone voice of conscience in the fall of 2001, a vote of dissent in a time of mass hysteria that has been vindicated time and again over the past 18 years.

Remember, the vote to go to war against Afghanistan, enacted only seven days after the 9/11 attacks, was actually a vote for an open-ended war waged against nebulous “terrorists” anywhere on the planet: Pakistan, Niger, Yemen, Somalia, Algeria. You name it. No questions asked. It was only Barbara Lee foresaw the consequences, how even a highflying critic of the rush to invade Iraq like Barack Obama could 14-years later use the hastily-written AUMF as a legal basis for launching airstrikes on ISIS forces inside Syria. Now, Donald Trump has claimed the same unilateral authority and used it to justify strikes against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and to justify the assassination of Qasem Suleimani. It’s the gift that keeps on killing.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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