by FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY, Counterpunch, 27 February 2012
(Note: This differs slightly from the original because I have corrected a few typos and grammatical errors and added one short clarifying string of words in [ ]’s.)
On 24 February, the Scientific American carried a revealing blog by John Horgan entitled, Should Global-Warming Activists Lie to Defend Their Cause? Horgan is the Director of the Center for Science Writings at the Stevens Institute of Technology. He analyzes his question in the context of a discussion he held in a freshman humanities class. The subject was the morality of Dr. Peter Gleick’s use of identity theft to steal documents from the Heartland Institute. Horgan is a promoter of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), and he is clearly at pains to rationalize the implications of Gleick’s caper. Included in Gleick’s distribution was a forged document, although Gleick denies any connection to its fabrication. Of particular interest to this essay is Horgan’s last sentence, because it unintentionally places the politicization of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) debate into sharp relief.
Sad as the comment might be, this makes sense. Every state should do doing similar planning. The next major collapse is scheduled for 2013-2014. The next step up would be regional (nine nations) planning boards for agriculture, energy, food, and water. This summer may be the last calm period for some time.
CHEYENNE — State representatives on Friday advanced legislation to launch a study into what Wyoming should do in the event of a complete economic or political collapse in the United States.
House Bill 85 passed on first reading by a voice vote. It would create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.
The task force would look at the feasibility of
Wyoming issuing its own alternative currency, if needed. And House members approved an amendment Friday by state Rep. Kermit Brown, R-Laramie, to have the task force also examine conditions under which Wyoming would need to implement its own military draft, raise a standing army, and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, has said he doesn’t anticipate any major crises hitting America anytime soon. But with the national debt exceeding $15 trillion and protest movements growing around the country, Miller said Wyoming — which has a comparatively good economy and sound state finances — needs to make sure it’s protected should any unexpected emergency hit the U.S.
Several House members spoke in favor of the legislation, saying there was no harm in preparing for the worst.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room today what would come up here and say that this country is in good shape, that the world is stable and in good shape — because that is clearly not the case,” state Rep. Lorraine Quarberg, R-Thermopolis, said. “To put your head in the sand and think that nothing bad’s going to happen, and that we have no obligation to the citizens of the state of Wyoming to at least have the discussion, is not healthy.”
Wyoming’s Department of Homeland Security already has a statewide crisis management plan, but it doesn’t cover what the state should do in the event of an extreme nationwide political or economic collapse. In recent years, lawmakers in at least six states have introduced legislation to create a state currency, all unsuccessfully.
The task force would include state lawmakers, the director of the Wyoming Department of Homeland Security, the Wyoming attorney general and the Wyoming National Guard’s adjutant general, among others.
The bill must pass two more House votes before it would head to the Senate for consideration. The original bill appropriated $32,000 for the task force, though the Joint Appropriations Committee slashed that number in half earlier this week.
University of Wyoming political science professor Jim King said the potential for a complete unraveling of the U.S. government and economy is “astronomically remote” in the foreseeable future.
But King noted that the federal government set up a Continuity of Government Commission in 2002, of which former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson, R-Wyo., was co-chairman. However, King said he didn’t know of any states that had established a similar board.
This appears to be another piece of the larger trend toward the complete failure of all governments — the most sophisticated governments have now become the most inept and the most corrupt (in the holistic sense of the term). This does not bode well for humanity.
Security giant G4S is the second-largest private employer on earth
BusinessInsider, 26 February 2012 With more than 625,000 employees, this listed security giant is the second-largest private employer in the world(behind Wal-Mart). While some of its business is focused on routine bank, prison and airport security, G4S also plays an important role in crisis-zones right around the world.In 2008, G4S swallowed up Armorgroup, whose 9,000-strong army of guards has protected about one third of all non-military supply convoys in Iraq (it’s also notorious for its wild parties and for having Afghan warlords on its payroll).
But the combined group has a security presence in more than 125 countries, including some of the most dangerous parts of Africa and Latin America, where it offers government agencies and private companies heavily-armed security forces, land-mine clearance, military intelligence and training.
By South Asia Intelligence Review: The crisis in India today is one of capacities, and this cannot be addressed by the reinvention of institutional forms. It doesn’t matter if our responses are centralised or decentralised, as long as the executive agencies remain infirm, under-manned, under-trained and under-equipped.
Our principal problems lie, not in architecture, but in manpower, materials and execution. We have eviscerated our institutions over decades, and now believe that the solution lies in creating layer upon layer of meta-institutions to ‘monitor’, ‘coordinate’ and ‘oversee’ this largely dysfunctional apparatus. Counter-terrorism: The Architecture of Failure, November 24, 2011
The National Counter-terrorism Centre (NCTC) is an ill-conceived, redundant and derivative, vanity project, which aspires to imitate its namesake in the US, without the strength, the sinews, the resources or the constitutional context that would make such aspirations attainable.
Drexel University engineers have found a way to improve upon ordinary Portland cement (OPC), the glue that’s bonded much of the world’s construction since the late 1800s. In research recently published in Cement and Concrete Composites the group served up a recipe for cement that is more energy efficient and cost effective to produce than masonry’s most prevalent bonding compound.
Drexel’s “green” variety is a form of alkali-activated cement that utilizes an industrial byproduct, called slag, and a common mineral, limestone, and does not require heating to produce.
According to Dr. Michel W. Barsoum, A.W. Grosvenor professor in Drexel’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, this alternative production method and the ubiquity of the mix ingredients, lessens the cost of materials for Drexel’s cement by about 40 percent versus Portland cement and reduces energy consumption and carbon dioxide production by 97 percent.
“Cement consumption is rapidly rising, especially in newly industrialized countries, and it’s already responsible for 5 percent of human-made carbon dioxide. This is a unique way to limit the environmental consequences of meeting demand,” Dr. Alex Moseson, one of the lead researchers on the project, said.
Syria-Saudi Arabia: During Friday’s meeting in Tunisia, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said he supported giving weapons and ammunition to groups fighting the Syrian regime. “I think it’s an excellent idea,” Prince Saud told reporters in Tunisia. Asked why, he replied: “Because they have to defend themselves.”
Comment: Prince Saud’s remarks make clear that Saudi Arabia has decided to roll back the Shiite heresy in Syria and block Iranian influence in Arab lands.
Syria-Hamas: On Friday, Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniya, publicly turned against the al-Asad regime in Syria by announcing their support for the opposition. During Friday prayers at Al Azhar mosque in Cairo, Haniya said, “I salute all people of the Arab Spring, or Islamic winter, and I salute the Syrian people who seek freedom, democracy and reform.” The crowd answered with calls of “No Hezbollah and no Iran” and “the Syrian revolution is an Arab revolution.”
The policy change also was announced at a rally in the Gaza strip. Hamas’ leadership also confirmed longstanding reports that they have vacated offices in Damascus and moved to Lebanon.
Comment: The Hamas statements, if backed by action, represent a strategic setback for Iran and seem to signify that Hamas has reconciled with Arab leaders, such as the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood. This does not signify a reduction in hostility toward Israel, but the Palestinian cause appears to be an Arab cause once again.
Last year the Saudis warned the Iranians on several occasions to cease meddling in Arab affairs. A Saudi role in Hamas’ change of policy has not been reported, but its congruence with Saudi desires and interests to contain Iran strongly suggests significant Saudi involvement.
While Iran is maintaining its defiance over nuclear issues, it is proving unable to preserve its strategic position west of Baghdad. It is being contained on multiple fronts.
Code Across America ATX: A Civic Innovation Hackathon
Google-funded Code for America was in Austin Saturday for a codeathon using data accessible via the city’s data portal. I dropped by the geek chic coworking facility Conjunctured, where the codeathon was happening, and hung out long enough to get a sense of the projects the ~40 coders were tackling. Those included a Bike Accident and Route Safety app, an app for finding miscellaneous stuff around town, and a “garden dating” app (to help people who want a community garden find a space). What was missing? For at least one project (Find It), there were fewer sources of data than the developers would’ve liked. I realized that it’s not enough to bring coders together to create apps – we should also be cultivating data sources. A project to build databases and facilitate citizen input would be a logical complement to the various codeathons.
Phi Beta Iota: Google is much more predatory than people realize. Any serious long-term endeavor must be completely open source and avoid Google like the plague–it comes with harm built in. The most exciting initiatives, generally lacking even the most basic funding, seek to combine Open Data Access, Open Source Hardware, Open Source Software, and Open Spectrum. That will lead to an Autonomous Internet and to holistic public intelligence with integrity.
The acid test of any scientific theory is whether or not its predictions reasonably match up to reality. The attached paper by Dr. David Evans is important because it compares predictions of climate models predicting global warming to our most advanced temperature measurement technologies. This is a good example of the kind of information that should be shaping the global warming debate.
The task facing scientists who disagree with this analysis is simple, because this author is up front with his information. His data is sourced and logical descriptions of the models he is testing are clear. The prediction/reality mismatch information shown in this paper is can be replicated and tested for falsification. All one has to do is show why the data is wrong, misleading, or improperly interpreted, or why his logic is wrong — no name calling is needed in what is clearly grist for an honest scientific exchange.
By Dr David M.W. Evans (republished here with permission, PDF link below)
We check the main predictions of the climate models against the best and latest data. Fortunately the climate models got all their major predictions wrong. Why? Every serious skeptical scientist has been consistently saying essentially the same thing for over 20 years, yet most people have never heard the message – here it is, put simply enough for any lay reader willing to pay attention.
What the Government Climate Scientists Say
Figure 1: The climate models. If the CO2 level doubles (as it is on course to do by about 2070 to 2100), the climate models estimate the temperature increase due to that extra CO2 will be about 1.1°C × 3 = 3.3°C.i
The direct effect of CO2 is well-established physics, based on laboratory results, and known for over a century.ii
Feedbacks are due to the ways the Earth reacts to the direct warming effect of the CO2. The threefold amplification by feedbacks is based on the assumption, or guess, made around 1980, that more warming due to CO2 will cause more evaporation from the oceans and that this extra water vapor will in turn lead to even more heat trapping because water vapor is the main greenhouse gas. And extra heat will cause even more evaporation, and so on. This amplification is built into all the climate models.iii The amount of amplification is estimated by assuming that nearly all the industrial-age warming is due to our CO2.
The government climate scientists and the media often tell us about the direct effect of the CO2, but rarely admit that two thirds of their projected temperature increases are due to amplification by feedbacks.
What the Skeptics Say
Figure 2: The skeptic’s view. If the CO2 level doubles, skeptics estimates that the temperature increase due to that extra CO2 will be about 1.1°C × 0.5 ≈ 0.6°C.iv
The serious skeptical scientists have always agreed with the government climate scientists about the direct effect of CO2. The argument is entirely about the feedbacks.
The feedbacks dampen or reduce the direct effect of the extra CO2, cutting it roughly in half.v The main feedbacks involve evaporation, water vapor, and clouds. In particular, water vapor condenses into clouds, so extra water vapor due to the direct warming effect of extra CO2 will cause extra clouds, which reflect sunlight back out to space and cool the earth, thereby reducing the overall warming.
There are literally thousands of feedbacks, each of which either reinforces or opposes the direct warming effect of the extra CO2. Almost every long-lived system is governed by net feedback that dampens its response to a perturbation. If a system instead reacts to a perturbation by amplifying it, the system is likely to reach a tipping point and become unstable (like the electronic squeal that erupts when a microphone gets too close to its speakers). The earth’s climate is long-lived and stable— it has never gone into runaway greenhouse, unlike Venus — which strongly suggests that the feedbacks dampen temperature perturbations such as that from extra CO2.
What the Data Says
The climate models have been essentially the same for 30 years now, maintaining roughly the same sensitivity to extra CO2even while they got more detailed with more computer power.
How well have the climate models predicted the temperature?
Does the data better support the climate models or the skeptic’s view?
One of the earliest and most important predictions was presented to the US Congress in 1988 by Dr James Hansen, the “father of global warming”:
Figure 3: Hansen’s predictionsvi to the US Congress in 1988, compared to the subsequent temperatures as measured by NASA satellitesvii.
Phi Beta Iota: The New Craft of Intelligence restores integrity to the process of intelligence. There are no governments, corporations, or universities today actually committed to the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Everyone is isolated in little stove-pipes that allow good people to be doing good things, when in the aggregate they are simply perpetuating huge lies against the public interest. This is the challenge of our times.
Many thanks to GSMA for their kind invitation to speak at the 2012 World Mobile Congress (WMC12) in Barcelona, Spain. GSMA is formally launching its Disaster Response Program at WMC12 with an inaugural working group. “The Disaster Response programme seeks to understand how mobile operators can most effectively support each other and improve resilience among networks in disaster scenarios, and identify how the mobile industry can best help citizens and humanitarian organisations on the ground following a crisis.” Below is the presentation I plan to give.
When disaster strikes, access to information is equally important as access to food and water. This link between information, disaster response and aid was officially recognized by the Secretary General of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the 2005 World Disasters Report. Since then, disaster-affected populations have become increasingly digital thanks to the widespread adoption of mobile technologies. Indeed, as a result of these mobile technologies, affected populations are increasingly able to source, share and generate a vast amount of information, which is completely transforming disaster response.
Take the case of Haiti, for example. Within 48 hours of the devastating earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince in 2010, a dedicated SMS short code was set up to crowdsource information on the urgent needs of the disaster-affected population. This would not have been possible without the partnership with Digicel Haiti since they’re the ones who provided the free SMS short code that enabled anyone in Haiti to text in their most urgent needs and location.
It’s perfectly safe. Really. Like Agent Orange was safe. Like the Gulf War anthrax vaccinations. And on and on and on. WHEN can the public rely on governments to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? We Dolphins ALWAYS tell the truth. Life works better that way. Below unvalidated, but it feels scary right.
(San Francisco) Widely known Physicist Dr Paolo Scampa, the publisher of the EU AIPRI Blog and an eminent chemical physicist, announced today his latest calculations of deadly radioactivity in Tokyo itself. Both the nuclear regulatory and media responses have been missing in action.
However, the outrageous statement of a Japanese politician pretty well sums up the level of understanding of the parasitic political class “Smile, and the radiation won’t hurt you.”
The Tokyo suburbs are about 100 miles or 160 km South of the six destroyed, deteriorating and badly leaking nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Station for Nuclear Reactors.
Dr Scampa stated:
“An absorbed dose of 2,94 microSievert/hour at 1 meter of soil means an average deposit of 9,065E5 Bq/m2 of Cs137 -0,661 MeV-. This amount for 1 meter is in fact situated between a maximum deposit of 5,439E6 Bq/m2 for low energy gamma rays from radioactive elements such as U238 (0,0495 MeV) and a minimum deposit of 2,176E5 Bq/m2 of very energetic gamma rays from radioactive elements such as Co60 (2,55 MeV). This dose corresponds to 25 times the maximum permissible “artificial” hour dose (0,114 microSievert/h-1) and 5 times the maximum permissible total – natural and artificial – hour dose (0,571 microSievert/h-1). ” Dr. Scampa. [End Quote]
This is a tragedy of huge proportions. There are 30 Plus Million People in Greater Tokyo. It is brought home personally to each person who sees the work of Fukushima Diary by Mochizuki.
A new report by Media Tenor and the Institute for Economics and Peace shows that violence still outrules peace in the international TV media. Yet, certain aspects of the study are questionable – how to measure peace quantitatively?
By Jan Oberg and Ida Zidore
We all have a feeling of what peace is. Yet, defining it more precisely is not so easy. It belongs to the category that philosophers have called ‘essentially contested concepts’ – also used about freedom, justice and, say, democracy. Being somehow elusive, perhaps the best we can hope to achieve is intelligent discussions about how to approach peace, rather than defining it precisely.
There are those who jump the philosophy, conceptuality and definitions and go directly to quantifying peace. By means of some “indicators” readily available in data bases they put together a composite measure that enables them to rank-order countries. Developing such hit lists – for happiness, development, corruption, etc.- has become a kind of industry in recent years.
The Global Peace Index
The Global Peace Index, GPI, produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace is an example of that approach. Its mission is expressed as “Quantifying Peace and its Benefits” and it newly published a comprehensive report, Measuring Peace in the Media 2011, which is “an analysis of global TV networks coverage of peace and violence issues using a fact-based approach which compares various measures from the Global Peace Index against Media Tenor’s database of global media.”
The aim of the study is “to better understand the texture of new coverage and its accuracy. This was achieved by analysing Media Tenor’s extensive database consisting of 164,000 news items. These news items have been compiled from 31 news and current affairs programs that air on four continents. The data was further analysed and broken down by country coverage with news stories from 101 different countries. The aggregated country data was then compared to the Global Peace Index (GPI) so as to rate the accuracy of the coverage.”
This is a very valuable and much needed research endeavour. Many of us working in the field of peace – research, activism, journalism or otherwise – have long felt that the media are interested in violence to the point of obsession, while ignoring to a large extent news, events and trends that point in the direction of peace and, hence, offer citizens hope.
Typically, journalists do not turn up at a hot spot while a conflict is unfolding but they gather there once violence has been introduced. Thus, we have too much war reporting and too little conflict journalism. And as soon as there is a cease-fire agreement of some publicized peace accord, whether real or fake, they leave for another war theatre.
Phi Beta Iota: We continue to suffer the “Paradigms of Failure” across all eight communities (academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, and non-governmental/non-profit). The truth is very hard to find in a world where lies are the predominant form of communication, ideology displaces intelligence, and corruption displaces integrity. This is the challenge of our time: to create public intelligence in the public interest.
Recently, the New York Times (4 February 2012) published a story, “U.S. Plans Shift to Elite Units as It Winds Down in Afghanistan”, and the Washington Post (5 February 2012) followed with “U.S. to elevate Special Operations forces’ role in Afghanistan.”
From the Washington Post version, I noted the following salient points.
“The U.S. military is planning to elevate the role of Special Operations forces in Afghanistan as it shifts away from a combat focus to a mission that places greater emphasis on advising Afghan forces and raids to kill top insurgent leaders, senior U.S. officials said.”
“As American troop levels drop, U.S. commanders will by necessity have to rely more heavily on Afghan units to operate with minimal support from big, conventional Army and Marine units.”
“The new focus could rely on American Special Forces soldiers to fill out some of the advisory teams in the most violent areas of Afghanistan. The Special Forces troops would continue to advise and mentor elite Afghan units and the Afghan local police, a program in which villages form units to defend themselves. The primary mission of the Army’s Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets, is to mentor, train and fight alongside indigenous forces. The Special Forces teams also have the ability to marshal firepower from American warplanes for Afghan forces.”
Meanwhile, in an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post on 9 February 2012, George F. Will wrote “the drone war is being waged more vigorously than ever….”.
The evolutionary development that is most impressive is evolving from using the firepower of American piloted warplanes to the use of unmanned drones mentioned by George Will.
In my book, “Cash on Delivery: CIA Special Operations During the Secret War in Laos” (www.rosebankpress.com), I wrote, “At the beginning of the “Global War on Terrorism”, which began in September 2001, the American military’s subsequent actions in Afghanistan brought new publicity to the use of special operations in denied areas. The use of small teams consisting of Rangers, Seals, Delta Force or others of this type of specially trained soldier in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy’s advanced smart bomb technology may turn out to be an advancement in warfare equivalent to the long bow, gunpowder, the machine gun, the tank or the airplane. The combination of global positioning systems, laser guidance, detailed maps, radar, J-Stars, and moving target indicators make the delivery of bombs by the United States Air Force and the United States Navy the most deadly and accurate ever.”
This early 2000s use of special operations forces and advanced technology for bomb delivery were precursors to the “drone war” we see today. The earlier advanced technology, mentioned above, was improved and eventually augmented by the drone for the delivery of missiles and even the missiles have evolved into more accurate and deadly munitions.
It is a simple calculus on the surface. Intelligence is collected by using technology, i.e., aerial surveillance, intercepts, etc, or by using human sources, i.e., informants, prisoners, and/or captured documents and equipment. The intelligence is analyzed and targets are developed. Action is taken in the form of drone attack or perhaps ground attack. If ground attacks are made, more intelligence may be gained from prisoners, captured documents or captured equipment, such as computers or cell phones.
Ground attacks might be made by all-American units, hybrid American-Afghan units or by all-Afghan units. In special operations in other countries, merely substitute the local participant from the country in which the special operations are taking place.
The special operations formula might be expressed this way, intelligence (technical and/or humint) + action (technical and/or human) = terrorist elimination. There is nothing new in this formula. What is new is the technology that can be used for intelligence collection or for action, i.e., drones.
Stephen Aftergood wrote in “Secrecy News”, 21 February 2012, “USSOCOM [U.S. Special Operations Command] and the CIA currently coordinate, share, exchange liaison officers and operate side by side in the conduct of DOD overt and clandestine operations and CIA’s covert operations, said Michael D. Lumpkin, acting assistant secretary of defense.”
“Our activities are mutually supportive based on each organization’s strengths and weaknesses and overall capabilities. Whichever organization has primary authority to conduct the operation leads; whichever organization has the superior planning and expertise plans it; both organizations share information about intelligence, plans, and ongoing operations fully and completely. Whether one or both organizations participate in the execution depends on the scope of the plan and the effect that needs to be achieved. Currently all USSOCOM and CIA operations are coordinated and deconflicted at all levels.”
The Osama bin Laden raid is a successful application of the special operations formula, with emphasis on all-American air and ground units.
The technical intelligence collection part of the formula can continue to be all-American for quite a while, but what we need to see, as soon as possible, is all-Afghan human intelligence collection and all-Afghan ground action units. Actually, I hope we never hear the details. Call me old school, but I prefer that the details remain secret. However, I would really love to believe that one day the special operations formula will be Afghan intelligence collection + Afghan action = terrorist elimination. We should all hope that all-Afghan special operations will result in the capture of terrorists and the seizure of equipment leading to significant new intelligence, thus contributing to a continuing cycle of intelligence + action = terrorist elimination.
Since evocations of the Vietnam War seem to rile so many, one hopes there is never an inclination to call it “Afghanization”.
The goal of worldwide special operations must be evolution from al-American to hybrid indigenous-American to (finally) all-indigenous action units with, at most, American participation as program managers who never participate “on the ground” but only in advising and providing support.