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Big Oil’s answer to melting Arctic: cooling the ground so it can keep drilling

Technology is keeping patches of Alaska permafrost frozen to preserve energy infrastructure even as indigenous residents’ world is transformed by the climate crisis

An oil pipeline stretches across the landscape outside Prudhoe Bay in North Slope Borough, AK on May 25, 2019.
 An oil pipeline stretches across the landscape outside Prudhoe Bay in North Slope borough, Alaska. Photograph: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The oil company ConocoPhillips had a problem.

It wanted to pump 160,000 more barrels of oil each day from a new project on Alaska’s North Slope. But the fossil fuels it and others produce are leading to global heating, and the Arctic is melting. The firm’s drilling infrastructure could be at risk atop thawing and unstable permafrost.

A recent environmental review of the project describes the company’s solution: cooling devices that will chill the ground beneath its structures, insulating them from the effects of the climate crisis.

The oil development that is fueling climate change continues to expand in the far north, with companies moving into new areas even as they are paying for special measures to protect equipment from the dangers of thawing permafrost and increasing rainfall – both expected outcomes as Arctic temperatures rise three times as fast as those elsewhere.

Countries from Norway to Russia are advancing new Arctic oil developments. But under Donald Trump’s administration, Alaska has emerged as a hotbed of Arctic oil extraction, with big projects moving forward and millions of acres proposed to be opened to leasing.

The administration recently finalized its plan to open a piece of the Arctic national wildlife refuge to the oil industry. And drilling is expanding at an Indiana-sized region next door: the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, which, despite its name, also contains treasured subsistence areas for locals.

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People want a greener, happier world now. But our politicians have other ideas

People want a greener, happier world now. But our politicians have other ideas

Boris Johnson’s ‘return to normality’ will only mean more consumerism at the expense of the planet – we must resist it

A helicopter battles a wildfire in Khanty-Mansi, Siberia, July 2020.
A helicopter battles a wildfire in Khanty-Mansi, Siberia, July 2020. Photograph: Denis Bushkovsky/TASS

Out there somewhere, marked on no map but tantalisingly near, is a promised land called Normal, to which one day we can return. This is the magical geography we are taught by politicians, such as Boris Johnson with his “significant return to normality”. It is the story we tell ourselves, even if we contradict it with the very next thought.

There are practical reasons to believe that Normal is a fairyland to which we can never return. The virus has not gone away, and is likely to keep recurring in waves. But let’s focus on another question: if such a land existed, would we want to live there?

The polls consistently suggest we would not. A survey by BritainThinks a fortnight ago found that only 12% of people want life to be “exactly as it was before”. A poll at the end of June, commissioned by the nursery provider Bright Horizons, suggested that just 13% of people want to return to working as they did before the lockdown. A YouGov study in the same week revealed that only 6% of us want the same type of economy as we had before the pandemic. Another survey by the same pollsters in April showed only 9% of respondents wanted a return to “normal”. It’s rare to see such strong and consistent results on any major issue.

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UN Warns of Impending Food Crisis

UN Warns of Impending Food Crisis

The United Nations issued a dire warning on Tuesday that the world stands on the brink of the worst food crisis in the last 50 years, according to The Guardian.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world is facing an “impending global food emergency” that could impact hundreds of millions of people as the coronavirus pandemic threatens already strained supply chains, according to Hong Kong-based Asia Times. He warned that the recessions that follow the pandemic will put basic nutrition out of reach for millions.

“Our food systems are failing, and the Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse,” the UN chief said in a statement accompanying a report by the UN. “More than 820 million people are hungry. “Some 144 million children under the age of five are stunted – more than one in five children worldwide.”

That’s particularly troubling as malnutrition has lifelong consequences. If the number of children who suffer from malnutrition grows, it is likely to cause increased stunting and provide a future strain on health care systems.

Guterres warned that “this year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the Covid-19 crisis,” according to Asia Times.

“Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults,” as The Guardian reported. “We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic.”

The UN Secretary-General provided a three-point plan for attacking the hunger crisis: focus aid on the worst-stricken areas to avoid immediate disaster, to improve social safety nets so children, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers along with other at-risk group receive adequate nutrition, and to invest in healthy and sustainable food systems and supply chains for the future, according to Guterres’ statement.

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International Group Of Doctors Warns Assange Will “Die In Prison” Without Urgent Medical Care

International Group Of Doctors Warns Assange Will “Die In Prison” Without Urgent Medical Care

With Washington fighting tooth-and-nail to extradite him from the UK, the notion that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange might die in prison is looking increasingly probable. At this point, it’s more a matter of when: A few weeks, or a few decades.

Assange’s health has reportedly deteriorated to such a terrifying degree that a group of 60 doctors have written an open letter warning that they fear the renegade journalist could soon die in a British jail if he doesn’t receive more intensive medical care, the Guardianreports. 

In the “open” letter (which was nevertheless still addressed to British Home Secretary Priti Patel), the doctors called for Assange to be moved to a university teaching hospital from his current digs at the Belmarsh Prison on southeast London.

The doctors based their assessment of Assange’s health on the “harrowing eyewitness accounts” of his Oct. 21 court appearance in London and a Nov. 1 report by Nils Melzer, the UN special rapporteur on torture, who has repeatedly issued warnings about Assange’s treatment by the British. In his November report, Melzer said warned that Assange’s “continued exposure to arbitrariness and abuse may soon end up costing his life.”

In the letter – which stretched to 16 pages – the doctors expressed “serious concerns” about Assange’s mental and physical health.

“We write this open letter, as medical doctors, to express our serious concerns about the physical and mental health of Julian Assange,” the letter read.

They expressed doubts about his ability to withstand the full extradition hearing, which is presently set for February.

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

The US Wanted a Coup in Bolivia: Like Magic, It Got One

The US Wanted a Coup in Bolivia: Like Magic, It Got One

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was ousted in a coup. What happened?

Military Coup

The US wanted Leftist President Evo Morales gone.

Guess what? He’s gone.

The Guardian reports Many Wanted Morales Out. But What Happened in Bolivia was a Military Coup.

On Sunday the head of Bolivia’s military called on Evo Morales to resign from the presidency. Minutes later Morales was on a plane to Cochabamba where he did just that. These facts leave little doubt that what happened in Bolivia this weekend was a military coup, the first such event in Latin America since the 2009 military coup against Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya. (The 2012 and 2016 impeachments of Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo and Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff are widely viewed as “parliamentary coups.”)

The mainstream press has bent over backwards, and tied itself in more than a few tangled knots, to avoid drawing this conclusion. The Wall Street Journal celebrates Morales’ ouster as a “democratic breakout.” The New York Times is characteristically more circumspect, hemming and hawing about how “the forced ouster of an elected leader is by definition a setback for democracy” but might also “help Bolivia restore its wounded democracy.” This head-spinning rhetoric does not prevent the Times from swiftly dismissing left-of-center politicians’ “predictable” claims that what happened was a coup.

It is hardly surprising that conservative governments and powerful media outlets applaud Morales’ ouster and dismiss the claim it constitutes a coup. More surprising is that leftist commentators, including Raquel Gutiérrez and Raul Zibechi, have taken a similar stance. Zibechi attributes Morales’ fall to a “popular uprising.”

Morales’ Illegitimacy

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Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth

Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth

Preface. Some of the points I found most alarming or interesting:

  • After water, concrete is the most widely used substance on Earth. 
  • Concrete is a thirsty behemoth, sucking up almost a 10th of the world’s industrial water use. This often strains supplies for drinking and irrigation
  • If the cement industry were a country, it would be the third largest CO2 emitter, accounting for 4 to 8% of the world’s CO2
  • Puts roofs over the heads of billions, fortifies defenses against natural disasters, and the structure for healthcare, education, transport, energy and industry. When combined with steel, it is the material that ensures our dams don’t burst, our tower blocks don’t fall, our roads don’t buckle and our electricity grid remains connected.
  • But they also entomb vast tracts of fertile soil, constipate rivers, & choke habitats
  • we may have already passed the point where concrete outweighs the combined carbon mass of every tree, bush and shrub on the planet. 
  • All the plastic produced over the past 60 years amounts to 8bn tonnes. The concrete industry pumps out more than that every two years.
  • The amount of concrete laid per square meter in Japan is 30 times the amount in America (the same as California using as much concrete as the entire U.S.)
  • Many engineers argue that there is no viable alternative. Steel, asphalt and plasterboard are more energy intensive than concrete. The world’s forests are already being depleted at an alarming rate

Watts, J. 2019-2-25. Concrete: the most destructive material on Earth. The Guardian.

After water, concrete is the most widely used substance on the planet. But its benefits mask enormous dangers to the planet, to human health – and to culture itself

To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again

To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again

We have the technology to prevent climate crisis. But now we need to unleash mass resistance too – because collective action does work @billmckibben

Solar panels in La Colle des Mees, Alpes de Haute Provence, south-eastern France.
 ‘We have two relatively new inventions that could prove decisive to solving global warming before it destroys the planet. One is the solar panel.’ Photograph: Gérard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Because I am concerned about inequality and about the environment, I am usually classed as a progressive, a liberal. But it seems to me that what I care most about is preserving a world that bears some resemblance to the past: a world with some ice at the top and bottom and the odd coral reef in between; a world where people are connected to the past and future (and to one another) instead of turned into obsolete software.

And those seem to me profoundly conservative positions. Meanwhile, oil companies and tech barons strike me as deeply radical, willing to alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere, eager to confer immortality.

There is a native conservatism in human beings that resists such efforts, a visceral sense of what’s right or dangerous, rash or proper. You needn’t understand every nuance of germline engineering or the carbon cycle to understand why monkeying around on this scale might be a bad idea. And indeed, polling suggests that most people instinctively oppose, say, living forever or designing babies, just as they want government action to stabilise the climate.

Luckily, we have two relatively new inventions that could prove decisive to solving global warming before it destroys the planet. One is the solar panel, and the other is the nonviolent movement.

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

Saudi Arabia Using 140-Year-Old Loophole To Soak Up California’s Scarce Water Supply

Saudi Arabia Using 140-Year-Old Loophole To Soak Up California’s Scarce Water Supply

Saudi Arabia is exploiting a farming loophole in California which allows a tiny, poverty-stricken desert town to use as much water as it needs for agriculture, for free – circumventing harsh water restrictions imposed in the Saudi Kingdom, reports The Guardian.

In particular, the Saudis are after alfalfa to feed their cows – setting up shop in Blythe, California – home to roughly 21,000 people (6,000 of whom live in prison) about four hours east of Los Angeles. Fondomonte Farms is a subsidiary of Saudi-based Almarai, one of the largest food production companies in the world. Every month, Fondomonte ships boat-loads of alfalfa to a massive port stationed on the Red Sea, just outside Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah City. 

The state of the Colorado river can be traced, in part, to a water claim approved by the federal government all the way back in the 1800s when a British gold rush-era prospector named Thomas Blythe first laid eyes on the desert expanse adjacent to the rushing Colorado river and submitted a water claim application to the federal government.

That 1877 water claim, now owned by the Palo Verde Irrigation District, ensures that Blythe has “unquantified water rights for beneficial use”; in other words, as much water as those living and farming within the district could possibly need in this water-scarce region, and for free.

With the Saudi Arabian landscape there being mostly desert and alfalfa being a water-intensive crop, growing it there has always been expensive and draining on scarce water resources, to the point that the Saudi government finally outlawed the practice in 2016. In the wake of the ban, Almarai decided to purchase land wherever it is cheap and has favorable water conditions to produce enough feed for its 93,000 cows. –The Guardian

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Russia Warns Low-Yield US Nuke Increases Risk Of Nuclear War

Russia Warns Low-Yield US Nuke Increases Risk Of Nuclear War

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has responded to a Monday report in The Guardian that the United States has started manufacturing a low-yield nuclear warhead, warning that it has heightened the risk of a nuclear conflict. 

Lavrov said that Moscow voiced its concern last year over the W76-2 warhead, which “lowers the threshold of nuclear weapons use and, of course, boosts the risk of a nuclear conflict.”

Russia Warns Low-Yield US Nuke Increases Risk Of Nuclear War

Profile picture for user Tyler Durden

by Tyler DurdenWed, 01/30/2019 – 09:5027SHARESTwitterFacebookRedditEmailPrint

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has responded to a Monday report in The Guardian that the United States has started manufacturing a low-yield nuclear warhead, warning that it has heightened the risk of a nuclear conflict. 

Lavrov said that Moscow voiced its concern last year over the W76-2 warhead, which “lowers the threshold of nuclear weapons use and, of course, boosts the risk of a nuclear conflict.”

“Apparently, these plans were put into practice,” said Lavrov, adding: “Certainly, it won’t contribute to global security.”

As we noted on Monday, the new weapon – the W76-2, is a modification of an existing Trident nuclear warhead. According to the NNSA, the first batch have come off the production line, and an unspecified number of them referred to as “initial operational capability” will be ready for delivery before the end of September. 

According to Stephen Young, a senior Washington representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the yield on the W76 was likely reduced to created the W76-2 by removing one stage from the original two-stage device. 

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‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism

‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism

Shoshana Zuboff’s new book is a chilling exposé of the business model that underpins the digital world. Observer tech columnist John Naughton explains the importance of Zuboff’s work and asks the author 10 key questions

Bursts of data coming from mobile phone users
 ‘Technology is the puppet, but surveillance capitalism is the puppet master.’ Photograph: Getty Images

We’re living through the most profound transformation in our information environment since Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of printing in circa 1439. And the problem with living through a revolution is that it’s impossible to take the long view of what’s happening. Hindsight is the only exact science in this business, and in that long run we’re all dead. Printing shaped and transformed societies over the next four centuries, but nobody in Mainz (Gutenberg’s home town) in, say, 1495 could have known that his technology would (among other things): fuel the Reformation and undermine the authority of the mighty Catholic church; enable the rise of what we now recognise as modern science; create unheard-of professions and industries; change the shape of our brains; and even recalibrate our conceptions of childhood. And yet printing did all this and more.Advertisement

Why choose 1495? Because we’re about the same distance into our revolution, the one kicked off by digital technology and networking. And although it’s now gradually dawning on us that this really is a big deal and that epochal social and economic changes are under way, we’re as clueless about where it’s heading and what’s driving it as the citizens of Mainz were in 1495.

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

Wikileaks Warns Reporters Not To Publish 140 “False And Defamatory” Statements About Julian Assange

WikiLeaks is sick and tired of mainstream media outlets publishing inaccurate and at times defamatory claims about its founder, Julian Assange. So in a recent email to journalists who regularly cover the organization, Wikileaks described 140 “false and defamatory” claims about its founder, who has been living inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012.

According to Reuters, WikiLeaks accused the Guardian of publishing a false report about Assange, though it was not immediately clear what specific report prompted the warning. The Guardian has refused to comment on the allegations.

The 5,000 word email claimed it was defamatory to suggest that Assange had ever been an “agent or officer of any intelligence service,” or that he had ever been employed by the Russian government, or that he is – or has been – closely connected with the Russian state.

Assange

Some of the claims were more bizarre, like claiming that Assange was a pedophile, rapist, murder or a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Others pertained to personal hygiene, like that Assange bleaches his hair, or has poor grooming habits. They also said it was defamatory to claim that Assange is a hacker or that he is not an Australian citizen.

Assange has remained in the embassy for fear that he could be extradited to the US to face charges stemming from violations of the Espionage Act. According to reports from late last year, the DOJ is preparing to file an indictment of Assange. Meanwhile, speculation that Ecuador could soon withdraw its offer of asylum has been simmering since President Lenin Moreno took over from the seemingly more sympathetic Rafael Correa.

Though the email was marked “not for publication,” a copy leaked online in its entirety.

Read the full text below:

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Continued American Occupation of the Middle East Does Not Suppress Terrorism, It Causes It

Continued American Occupation of the Middle East Does Not Suppress Terrorism, It Causes It


Even the neo-con warmongers’ house journal The Guardian, furious at Trump’s attempts to pull US troops out of Syria, in producing a map to illustrate its point, could only produce one single, uncertain, very short pen stroke to describe the minute strip of territory it claims ISIS still control on the Iraqi border.

Of course, the Guardian produces the argument that continued US military presence is necessary to ensure that ISIS does not spring back to life in Syria. The fallacy of that argument can be easily demonstrated. In Afghanistan, the USA has managed to drag out the long process of humiliating defeat in war even further than it did in Vietnam. It is plain as a pikestaff that the presence of US occupation troops is itself the best recruiting sergeant for resistance. In Sikunder Burnes I trace how the battle lines of tribal alliances there today are precisely the same ones the British faced in 1841. We just attach labels like Taliban to hide the fact that invaders face national resistance.

The secret to ending the strength of ISIS in Syria is not the continued presence of American troops. It is for America’s ever closer allies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to cut off the major artery of money and arms, which we should never forget in origin and for a long time had a strong US component. The US/Saudi/Israeli alliance against Iran is the most important geo-political factor in the region today. It is high time this alliance stopped both funding ISIS and pretending to fight it; schizophrenia is not a foreign policy stance.

There has been no significant Shia Islamic terrorist or other threat against the West in recent years. 9/11 was carried out by Saudi Sunni militants.

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CNN’s “Journalist Of The Year” Committed Journalistic Fraud “On A Grand Scale” At Der Spiegel

German news magazine Der Spiegel has admitted that one of its top reporters has faked stories for several years.

Award-winning journalist Claas Relotius had “made up stories and invented protagonists” in approximately 14 out of 60 articles which appeared both in print and online editions. He had worked for Der Spiegel for seven years, winning numerous awards for his investigative journalism – including CNN’s Journalist of the Year award in 2014, according to the Guardian.

Relotius, 33, tendered his resignation after admitting to the fraud.

Earlier this month Relotius won Germany’s Reporter of the Year (Reporterpreis) honor for his story about a young Syrian boy. Since the report was written, it has emerged that all of the sources were hazy at best, and most of what he wrote was completely fabricated.


Claas Relotius: Er hat sein Talent missbraucht http://to.welt.de/aU8k3UM


The falsification came to light after a colleague who worked with him on a story along the US-Mexican border raised suspicions about some of the details in Relotius’s reporting, having harboured doubts about him for some time.

The colleague, Juan Moreno, eventually tracked down two alleged sources quoted extensively by Relotius in the article, which was published in November. Both said they had never met Relotius. Relotius had also lied about seeing a hand-painted sign that read “Mexicans keep out”, a subsequent investigation found.

Other fraudulent stories included one about a Yemeni prisoner in Guantanamo Bay, and one about the American football star Colin Kaepernick. –Guardian

The Spiegel – which has an online readership of over 6.5 million and sells around 725,000 print copies per month, admitted to the fraud in a lengthy article in which they said they were “shocked” by the discovery – apologizing for anyone deceived by Relotius’s “fraudulent quotes, made-up personal details or invented scenes at fictitious places.”

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International Monetary Fund: Storm Clouds Of The Next Financial Crisis Are Gathering

International Monetary Fund: Storm Clouds Of The Next Financial Crisis Are Gathering

The International Monetary Fund is sounding the alarms of another global crisis.  IMF is warning that the storm clouds are currently gathering for another financial crisis.

According to a report by The Guardian, David Lipton, the first deputy managing director of the IMF, said that “crisis prevention is incomplete” more than a decade on from the last meltdown in the global banking system.  Not only that but on an individual basis, people are largely unprepared for a major financial downturn. “As we have put it, ‘fix the roof while the sun shines.’ But like many of you, I see storm clouds building and fear the work on crisis prevention is incomplete,” Lipton said.

Lipton said individual nation states alone would lack the firepower to combat the next recession while calling on governments to work together to tackle the issues that could spark another crash.

“We ought to be concerned about the potency of monetary policy,” he said of the ability of the US Federal Reserve and other central banks to cut interest rates to boost the economy in the event of another downturn, while also warning that high levels of government borrowing constrained their scope for cutting taxes and raising spending. –The Guardian

Lipton said individual nation states alone would lack the firepower to combat the next recession while calling on governments to work together to tackle the issues that could spark another crash.  Which is an odd position to take considering the central banks and governments of the world cause recession and economic crises in the first place.

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The Guardian’s Reputation In Tatters After Forger Revealed To Have Co-Authored Assange Smear

The Guardian’s Reputation In Tatters After Forger Revealed To Have Co-Authored Assange Smear

Regular followers of WikiLeaks-related news are at this point familiar with the multiple serious infractions of journalistic ethics by Luke Harding and the Guardian, especially (though not exclusively) when it comes to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. However, another individual at the heart of this matter is far less familiar to the public. That man is Fernando Villavicencio, a prominent Ecuadorian political activist and journalist, director of the USAID-funded NGO Fundamedios and editor of online publication FocusEcuador.

Most readers are also aware of the Guardian’s recent publication of claims that Julian Assange met with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on three occasions. This has now been definitively debunked by Fidel Narvaez, the former Consul at Ecuador’s London embassy between 2010 and 2018, who says Paul Manafort has never visited the embassy during the time he was in charge there. But this was hardly the first time the outlet published a dishonest smear authored by Luke Harding against Assange. The paper is also no stranger to publishing stories based on fabricated documents.

In May, Disobedient Media reported on the Guardian’s hatchet-job relating to ‘Operation Hotel,’ or rather, the normal security operations of the embassy under former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. That hit-piece, co-authored by Harding and Dan Collyns, asserted among other things that (according to an anonymous source) Assange hacked the embassy’s security system. The allegation was promptly refuted by Correa as “absurd” in an interview with The Intercept, and also by WikiLeaks as an “anonymous libel” with which the Guardian had “gone too far this time. We’re suing.”

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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