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« on: Nov 22, 2015, 09:31 AM »


We are going to restart our thread on the climate, our environment, and the consequences of global warming that we had to remove because of being threatened by The Guardian with legal actions because we had dared to post some of their articles on this subject in that thread.

This restart happened in 2015 and has been posting and accumulating articles since that time. Over time this has taken up lot's and lot's of space on our server that became way to much. So we will be now be adjusting how long we store articles posted to it to one year at most. Currently we are now beginning to delete all the articles up and until the beginning of 2017. 

God Bless, Rad
« Last Edit: Sep 03, 2017, 06:45 AM by Rad » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2017, 05:50 AM »

'They have gas; we have excrement': Venezuela protests take a dirty turn

Opponents of unpopular president Nicolás Maduro plan on using a new tactic dubbed the ‘poopootov’ cocktail to ward off security forces

Wednesday 10 May 2017 00.28 BST

Venezuela’s opposition protests on Wednesday may be the messiest in a six-week wave of unrest as demonstrators prepare to throw feces at security forces, adding to the customary rocks, petrol bombs and tear gas.

The new tactic has been dubbed the “poopootov” in a play on the Molotov cocktail often seen at streets protests in Venezuela.

“They have gas; we have excrement,” reads an image floating around social media to advertise Wednesday’s “Shit March”.

With inflation in the high triple-digits, shortages of the most basic medicines, and millions suffering food scarcity, the country is undergoing a major crisis.

For weeks, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets, angry at the government of unpopular president Nicolás Maduro.

Some opposition sympathizers are appalled at the plans to use feces, both animal and human, calling it an unsanitary and inappropriate tactic even in the face of a government they despise.

Many note that throwing feces could increase cases of infectious diseases which are soaring due to the lack of medicine as well as basic cleaning materials such as soaps and disinfectant.

“The kids go out with just stones. That’s their weapon. Now they have another weapon: excrement,” said a 51-year-old dentist preparing containers of feces in her home for protesters to launch at authorities.

“One of my patients is collecting excrement from her child,” said the dentist, who asked not to be identified.

Messages have been going viral on Venezuelan WhatsApp groups giving step-by-step instructions and advice on putting together the poopootov cocktails.

Some insist on avoiding glass containers to ensure that the projectiles only humiliate troops rather than injure them.

With opposition leaders looking to bring frontline government forces onside, given they too suffer from the country’s crisis, the strategy may backfire.

Many are thought to sympathize with protesters’ complaints about the economic situation but do not speak out for fear of retaliation by authorities.

While the opposition coalition has remained quiet on the strategy, some lawmakers have given it tacit acceptance.

“They use their weapons against us, so people are using what they have,” said lawmaker Rafael Guzmán, who on Monday was seen in the thick of tear gas throwing a canister back at security forces.

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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2017, 06:18 AM »


Shitstain Trump fires FBI director, raising questions over Russia investigation

US president cites Comey’s handling of Clinton email investigation, as ‘Nixonian’ move condemned by Democrats and civil society groups

    Trump fires FBI director Comey: key questions answered

David Smith in Washington
Wednesday 10 May 2017 11.36 BST

Donald Trump has fired James Comey as FBI director in a move that has raised concerns over the independence of the bureau’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia in the run-up to last year’s US presidential election.

The president cited Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation as the reason behind his decision, but Democrats were quick to cry foul, and there were vociferous demands for a special prosecutor to be appointed to oversee the Russia inquiry. One Senate Democrat described the move as “Nixonian”.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that a grand jury had begun issuing subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser at the centre of the ongoing inquiry into Russian meddling in the election. If confirmed, the report suggests that the FBI’s investigation into the Trump camp’s links with Moscow has entered a significant new phase.

In a letter to Comey, the president wrote: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.

“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”

The dismissal of America’s top law enforcement official came days after he testified on Capitol Hill about Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state and the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference.

Comey incorrectly testified that former Clinton aide Huma Abedin “forwarded hundreds and thousands” of emails to her husband’s laptop, including some with classified information. On Tuesday, the FBI informed the Senate judiciary committee that only “a small number” of the thousands of emails found on the laptop had been forwarded there, while most had simply been backed up from electronic devices.

In a recent interview, Clinton partly blamed Comey’s letter in late October notifying Congress that the FBI was studying the emails on the laptop, for costing her the presidential election.

Comey had also been fiercely criticised for holding a press conference last July in which he said Clinton would not be charged but criticised her as “extremely careless”. The move was seen as infringing on the role of the justice department and attorney general.

The timing of Comey’s dismissal was related to the recent confirmation of Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general, according to the White House. In a memo released on Tuesday, Rosenstein wrote: “The director was wrong to usurp the attorney general’s authority on 5 July 2016, and announce his conclusion that the [Clinton] case should be closed without prosecution.”

The memo added: “Compounding the error, the director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation … the director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial.

“It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”

A statement from the White House said: “Today, President Donald J Trump informed FBI director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

The search for the next head of “our crown jewel of law enforcement” will begin immediately, the statement said. Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, takes over in the interim.

Comey, 56, who was nominated by Barack Obama in 2013 to a 10-year term, reportedly found out he had been fired from breaking news alerts on TV screens as he delivered a speech to FBI staff in Los Angeles. He was “caught flat-footed” but carried on talking to the agents, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Soon after, in another bizarre turn, a letter was hand delivered to FBI headquarters in Washington by Keith Schiller, Trump’s former bodyguard who worked for Trump’s security team for nearly two decades before joining the administration.

The last US president to fire an FBI director was Bill Clinton, who dismissed William Sessions in 1993 over financial irregularities.

Comey’s dismissal raises questions over the future of the FBI’s investigation into alleged ties between Trump associates and Russia during the presidential election.

While the Republican majorities in the House and Senate could hold back congressional investigations and a new FBI director to kill off its counter-intelligence investigation, a grand jury is not under Trump’s control. He may not be able to stop the Russian collusion affair from going to court.

Under US law, grand juries (which are larger than normal 12-person court juries) have sweeping powers to compel witnesses to appear, to call for the presentation of documents and to issue indictments.

Most Republicans backed the president, including the Senate judiciary committee chairman, Chuck Grassley, who said: “The handling of the Clinton email investigation is a clear example of how Comey’s decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI ...The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost.”

But broad condemnation from Democrats and dissent from some Republicans is likely to intensify pressure for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Justin Amash, a Republican congressman from Michigan, tweeted: “My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia.” He described the justification given in Trump’s letter to Comey as “bizarre”.

Democrat Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House intelligence committee, said: “The same president who has called the investigation into the Russian hacking of our democracy and the potential complicity of his campaign a ‘fake’ cannot pretend to have made such a decision uninfluenced by his concerns over Comey’s continued involvement in the investigation.

“It is more imperative than ever that an independent prosecutor be appointed.”

Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said: “This is Nixonian. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special counsel to continue the Trump/Russia investigation … this investigation must be independent and thorough in order to uphold our nation’s system of justice.”

Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said he told Trump, who called to notify him before making the firing public, “you’re making a very big mistake.”

He added: “If deputy attorney general Rosenstein does not appoint an independent special prosecutor, every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire director Comey was part of a cover-up.”

Schumer has taken the unusual move of asking all Democratic Senators to be in their seats at 9.30am on Wednesday, NBC Nightly News reported.

Trump accused Schumer of hypocrisy. He fired back on Twitter: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, “I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.” Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp”

Civil society groups also expressed alarm at the day’s events. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “The independence of the FBI director is meant to ensure that the president does not operate above the law. For President Trump to fire the man responsible for investigating his own campaign’s ties to the Russians imperils that fundamental principle.”

The president only has one publicly scheduled item on his agenda on Wednesday: a meeting with Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia.


'Terrifying, Nixonian': Comey's firing takes democracy to dark new territory

Donald Trump’s surprise sacking of the FBI director drew immediate comparisons to Watergate and tinpot dictatorships  

Julian Borger in Washington
Wednesday 10 May 2017 02.53 BST

Donald Trump’s decision to fire the FBI director, James Comey, who was investigating links between the president’s associates and the Russian government, has taken US democracy into dark and dangerous new territory. That was the assessment of Democratic leaders, legal observers and security experts last night, with some drawing direct comparisons to Watergate and tinpot dictatorships.

FBI directors are given 10-year terms in office, precisely to insulate them from politics. It is very rare to fire them. The last time it happened was 24 years ago, when Bill Clinton sacked William Sessions, who had clung to office despite a damning internal ethics report detailing abuse of office, including the use of an FBI plane for family trips.

Comey’s sacking has taken place in very different circumstances. It came on a night when CNN reported that a grand jury had issued subpoenas in the investigation of the Trump camp’s contacts with Russian officials, and after Comey had confirmed to Congress that more than one person connected to the Trump campaign was the subject of an FBI counter-intelligence investigation. Comey had also indicated that he was investigating leaks from inside the FBI to the Trump campaign in the course of the election.

The New York Times has reported that Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was “charged with coming up with reasons to fire him”. The official reason offered was Comey’s handling of the enquiry into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for classified information. Comey’s announcement in July 2016 that there would no be prosecution, while criticising the Democratic presidential candidate and her aides for being “extremely careless” in their handling of classified material, is singled out in a memo by the newly appointed deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

In one of the first acts in his new job, Rosenstein said Comey had exceeded his authority with that announcement.

Comey was castigated from both sides for his handling of the Clinton emails. But Democrats were adamant on Tuesday that was not the real reason for his dismissal. It was pointed out that during the campaign, Trump and his team warmly praised Comey’s decision to speak up.

Robby Mook, Clinton’s former campaign manager, tweeted on Tuesday night that US politics had entered a “twilight zone … I was as disappointed and frustrated as anyone at how the email investigation was handled. But this terrifies me.”

Matthew Miller, a former justice department spokesman in the Obama administration, said: “Trump came up with the most convenient excuse possible to fire the person investigating him, but it’s just that: an excuse. This is legitimately terrifying.”

Several commentators compared Comey’s sudden sacking with the 1973 “Saturday night massacre” when President Richard Nixon dismissed Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor appointed to look into the Watergate affair.

“This really is astonishing,” said Scott Horton, a New York attorney and expert in international law. “The most immediate comparison is the Saturday Night Massacre … by firing Comey, Trump is asserting his control over the FBI on the political level.”

Malcolm Nance, a former navy cryptographer and author of a book on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, said: “This is a Nixonian move clearly designed to take out the man who was investigating collusion with a foreign power.

“We are in a completely new space. It will blow past Watergate. Nixon was being investigated for crimes. This is when the FBI is in the middle of a counter-espionage investigation. This is a spy hunt. We have never had that in the White House. This is third world dictator stuff.”

Jeffrey Toobin, a lawyer and legal commentator, called the move “a grotesque abuse of power by the president of the United States”.

“This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies,” Toobin said.

On Monday a former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, had given an account of her warnings to the White House, less than a week into the Trump presidency, that his national security adviser Michael Flynn had been compromised by Russia and was vulnerable to blackmail.

It took 18 days before Trump fired Flynn – and he only did so after the details of undisclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to Washington were leaked to the press. The White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said Yates’s warnings had not been acted on immediately because the administration had seen her as “a political opponent”. Trump, of course, also fired Yates.

Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent, said the firing of Comey marked “a dangerous time for our nation”.

“The cancerous partisanship politics is not only obscuring the Russia affair. It is ‘dismantling’ the basics of our national security,” he tweeted.

Thomas Wright, the director of the Project on International Order and Strategy at the Brookings Institution, said: “This ought to scare the living daylights out of Congress. They now have to choose between safeguarding the republic and protecting the president.”

Trump has thus far been able to rely on broad Republican support in the face of the investigation of his campaign’s links with Moscow. But there were signs on Wednesday night that Comey’s dismissal had unnerved some senior GOP figures.

Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee conducting one of the investigations into Trump-Russia links, said in a statement he was “troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination”.

Richard Haass, a foreign policy expert who had been mooted for a top position in the Trump administration, said in a tweet that the country’s global image and “the reputation of its democracy” was at stake. Haass joined the growing chorus of demands for an independent investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.


Shistain Trump fires FBI director Comey: key questions answered

The US president’s ousting of the FBI boss has raised concerns about the bureau’s inquiry into Trump’s election campaign

Damien Gayle
Wednesday 10 May 2017 10.11 BST

Why does the White House say James Comey was fired?

Donald Trump and his allies in the US justice department cited Comey’s handling of the botched investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails as the reason for firing the FBI director.

A statement from the White House said:

    Today, President Donald J Trump informed FBI director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein and attorney general Jeff Sessions.”

In a memo to Sessions, which was released by the White House on Tuesday, Rosenstein wrote: “The way the director [Comey] handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong.”

He went on to say:

    I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken.”

Sessions said the Department of Justice was “committed to a high level of discipline, integrity and the rule of law”, and “a fresh start is needed”.

What are the criticisms of Comey’s handling of the Clinton email inquiry?

Comey has been criticised by Democrats for his handling of an investigation into whether Clinton compromised national security by her use of a private email server for work and personal messages. Indeed, the inquiry is widely seen to have benefited Trump.

In a recent interview, Clinton partly blamed Comey’s letter in late October notifying Congress that the FBI was studying newly discovered emails on her laptop for costing her the presidential election. At the time Trump praised Comey’s move, saying it “took guts”.

Comey had also been criticised for holding a press conference last July in which he said Clinton would not be charged but criticised her as “extremely careless”. The move was seen as infringing on the role of the justice department and attorney general.

In the final days of the election campaign, Comey said that, after reviewing the laptop emails, the FBI still believed that Clinton should not face charges. This prompted Trump to say that Clinton was “being protected by a rigged system”.

What about Russia?

The sudden sacking of the country’s most senior law enforcement official outraged Democrats, who suggested the email inquiry line was a smokescreen and that Trump’s real motivation was to influence the FBI’s investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia in the run-up to the US presidential election.

The same allegations are being looked into by the House of Representatives and Senate intelligence committees.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that a grand jury had begun issuing subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser at the centre of the ongoing inquiry into Russian meddling in the election. If confirmed, the report suggests the FBI’s investigation into the Trump camp’s links with Moscow has entered a significant new phase.

“Were these investigations getting too close to home for the president?” the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, said, adding: “This does not seem to be a coincidence.”

One Senate Democrat described the move as “Nixonian”, and there were vociferous demands for a special prosecutor to be appointed to oversee the Russia inquiry.

What are Republicans saying?

Most Republicans backed the president, including the Senate judiciary committee chair, Chuck Grassley, who said the handling of the Clinton email investigation was “a clear example of how Comey’s decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI”.

There was some dissent. Justin Amash, a Republican congressman from Michigan, described the justification given in Trump’s letter to Comey as “bizarre”, and said he was reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia.

Richard Burr, a Republican leading the Senate intelligence committee investigation into Russia’s influence over the 2016 presidential election, said he was troubled by the timing and reasoning of the decision. “I have found director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the committee,” Burr said.


James Comey, Shitstain Trump, Russiagate and the Mother’s Day Massacre

10 May 2017 at 06:17 ET  

James Comey talked too much. He talked too much about Hillary Clinton’s emails. And then he talked too much, too late, about the Russians and Team Trump.

Both got him fired. While President Donald Trump and his feuding advisers have been ham-handed about almost everything since they occupied the White House a little over 100 days ago, removing Comey as FBI director was a clean kill. Or so they seemed to think.

You can see their reasoning: Comey had turned into an immediate threat by confirming in his May 3 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI was running a counterintelligence operation into the relationships of Russian officials and Trump associates. But during the same hearing, under prodding from Republicans on the panel, Comey had vastly, and unaccountably, exaggerated the number of emails that Hillary Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin copied to her disgraced husband Anthony Weiner’s home computer. When ProPublica got wind that the FBI was preparing to “supplement” Comey’s testimony with a correction, Team Trump saw a brief opening to take him out.  

Indeed, the speed with which the Justice Department published its detailed rationale for firing Comey suggested that somebody allied with Trump had teed up ProPublica for the hit. Within hours of its publication, the administration released a memorandum from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that went on and on about Comey's bumbling handling of the Clinton emails case from the beginning. There was no mention, of course, of the FBI man’s continuing investigation into Team Trump’s multiple connections to the Kremlin.

“Almost everyone agrees he made mistakes” in the Clinton case, Rosenstein wrote. “It is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Kremlin probes because of his own meetings with the Russian ambassador, added a pious-sounding statement about Comey’s removal. “It is essential,” he said, “that the Department of Justice reaffirm its commitment to longstanding principles that ensure the integrity and fairness of investigations and prosecutions”

The topper came from President Trump,  who issued a statement calling the FBI “one of our Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions”—no matter that he had cheered on the Russian theft of embarrassing emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee and whacked Comey for dropping the Clinton probe. Since taking office the president had constantly accused the FBI (along with other U.S. intelligence agencies) of spying on him and leaking information about his campaign advisers’ frequent meetings with Russian agents.

And in classic Trump fashion Tuesday, the president wrote Comey that, while he had to go, “I greatly appreciate your informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation…”  Surely Trump  knows that the FBI has asked his disgraced and departed National Security Adviser Michael Flynn whether his back-channel communications with Moscow’s ambassador Sergey Kislyak, about lifting Russian sanctions, among other matters, were authorized by his boss.

In yet another odd moment from his daily White House briefing, spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump had engaged “a leading law firm in Washington, D.C., to send a certified letter” to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying “he has no connections to Russia.”

That statement came only days after a story came out quoting Trump’s son, Eric, allegedly bragging to noted golf writer James Dodson that “we don’t rely on American banks,” for building golf resorts. “We have all the funding we need out of Russia."  (Trump charged Dodson, the celebrated author of nearly a dozen well-received books on the industry, with making the story up.)

For many longtime Washingtonians, Trump’s firing of Comey once again conjured up memories of Richard Nixon’s 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre," when he wiped out the topmost rungs of the Justice Department for not following his orders to fire Archibald Cox, a special prosecutor who had traced the Watergate break-in of the Democratic National Committee back to Nixon’s door.  (The first Trump jolt came in January, when he fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for not supporting his Muslim travel ban.) Nixon’s  attorney general, Elliot Richardson resigned rather than fire Cox. His deputy, William Ruckelshaus, also refused and stepped down. Nixon reached further down in the ranks and got his solicitor general, Robert Bork, to do the deed.

It was a pyrrhic victory. A poll taken a week after the firings showed a slight majority of the public now favored his impeachment.      

As Trump and his aides expected, pro-Trump voices on Fox News "applauded the firing, said it was absolutely justified, and some said it was ‘overdue,’" CNN media analyst Brian Stelter reported on his Reliable Sources blog. "Almost every time I flipped the channel to Fox's opinion shows, the focus was on Comey's missteps, Hillary Clinton's emails, etc."

And some of the initial reaction to Comey’s firing was was unexpectedly muted. The initial statement from Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, a Hillary Clinton ally who has vigorously pursued the Trump-Russia connections on the intelligence and judiciary committees, said only that, “the next FBI director must be strong and independent…”

Lindsey Graham, despite pursuing the Trump retinue on business dealings with Russia,  parried a question about Comey’s dismissal with a statement that  “a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.”

That was about as optimistic a spin anyone in official Washington could put on the latest eruption of the 14-week-old administration, which shook the capital’s political class like a high Richter-scale earthquake. A number of congressional Republicans involved in the Russia probes sounded aghast. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, said he was troubled by the "timing and reasoning" of Comey's firing and called the FBI director “a public servant of the highest order.” Comey’s dismissal, he said, “further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee."

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a conservative Republican who had expressed dismay over Russian contacts with Trump administration figures during Monday’s Judiciary subcommittee hearing featuring Yates, said the firing was “very troubling” and called Comey “an honorable public servant.” Jeff Flake of Arizona penned a plaintive tweet about the dismissal. “I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey's firing,” he wrote. “I just can't do it.”

But the Hill’s top Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, hunkered down. Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, who has shown little interest in investigating the Trump ties to Russia (and in any case is retiring) had nothing to say. Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn snarked on Twitter that Democrats “were against Comey before they were for him.”

Maybe. But on Tuesday afternoon, leading Democrats expressed rage at Comey’s dismissal and vowed to put more heat on Trump.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, Mark R. Warner of Virginia, called Trump’s action “shocking,” in that it comes “during [the FBI’s] active counterintelligence investigation into improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.”  

Charles Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said he gave Trump a piece of advice when he called with advance warning of the Comey firing.

“I told the President, ‘Mr. President, with all due respect, you are making a big mistake,”’ Schumer said in a statement. He wondered about “the timing” of Comey’s dismissal. If the president was so upset about the FBI chief’s handling of the Clinton emails case, Schumer asked, why did he wait until now to fire him? Something else had to be afoot.

Schumer noted “they fired Sally Yates,” whose “urgent” warnings to the White House about Flynn’s dealings with the Russians went unheeded for three weeks. “They fired Preet Bharara,” the federal prosecutor who was looking into Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Cotton’s trading in medical and pharmaceutical stocks, Schumer said. “And now they’ve fired Director Comey, the very man leading the investigation” into Trump and his associates' dealings with Russia. “This does not seem to be a coincidence,” the four-term New Yorker said.

Nixon thought the fire wall he built at the Justice Department to stave off the Watergate flames would save him, but it turned out to be temporary. The wheels of justice ground slowly, but they never stopped grinding, with constant goading from the press.

If Trump and company really thought they could stop the Justice Department’s Russia probes by taking out Comey, they have even less understanding of the sprawling, often unruly federal government than they’ve demonstrated with earlier missteps and flubs. According to CNN, federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, have issued grand jury subpoenas to “associates” of Flynn “seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year's election.” Former Bill Clinton White House staffer Claude Taylor tweeted that, according to “a source with knowledge of the investigation...nine sealed indictments came down in one case with sixteen more expected in others.”

It was a day of "stunning news, even for President Trump, who has been known to shock people…" CNN anchor Jake Tapper said. Others were calling it a “constitutional crisis.”

It is not—yet. A president is free to fire his FBI director, as Bill Clinton did when he booted the self-serving William Sessions from the J. Edgar Hoover Building in 1993. A constitutional crisis comes when and if a president ignores a court order or writ of impeachment from the House of Representatives.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing blocking federal prosecutors across the land from launching their own probes of Trump and his associates, as long as they can establish evidence of a crime committed under their jurisdiction.

Trump owns businesses in 10 states, the District of Columbia and 25 countries around the world, according to reports. They used to be called conflicts of interest.

Now they might be called targets of opportunity.  


‘A troubling pattern’: Schumer questions ‘coincidence’ of Trump firing Comey, Yates and others investigating him

Tom Boggioni
Raw Story
09 May 2017 at 19:21 ET                  

In a late night press conference Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Donald Trump a “cover-up” and called for a special investigator to look into the Trump administration.

Along with the firing of acting-Attorney General Sally Yates, Schumer called the dismissal of both officials, “A troubling pattern.”

Schumer said that Trump called him personally to tell him of his decision and that Schumer told him he was “making a mistake.”

“I told the president, Mr President, with all due respect, you’re making a big mistake,” Schumer explained.

He added, that “If no special prosecutor  is appointed, everyone is going to suspect coverup.”

“Are people going to suspect cover up, absolutely,” Schumer continued before calling for a “fearless, independent, special prosecutor.”


‘Grotesque abuse of power’: CNN legal analyst Toobin just burned Shitstain to the ground for firing Comey

Noor Al-Sibai
Raw Story
09 May 2017 at 18:27 ET                  

During a segment on CNN as news broke that FBI Director James Comey had been fired from his post by President Donald Trump, CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin called Comey’s firing “a grotesque abuse of power by the president of the United States”.

“This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies,” Toobin told CNN host Wolf Blitzer.

Toobin went on to say that Comey’s firing while investigations “near” Trump are reminiscent of President Nixon firing Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation.

“This is something that is not within the American political tradition,” Toobin said. “This is something that is completely outside how American law is supposed to work.”

In his letter to Comey, President Trump thanked Comey for his service, and included a remark about personal reassurances the former FBI director gave the president.

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” Trump wrote in Comey’s termination notice that has been acquired by journalists.


Comey firing came quickly — but after Shitstain spent weeks screaming at TV’s Russia coverage

10 May 2017 at 07:00 ET  
Raw Story                

The decision to fire FBI Director James Comey came quickly — perhaps even haphazardly — but the seeds for his removal were sown weeks ago.

President Donald Trump was growing increasingly angry about the ongoing investigation of his associates’ ties to Russia, and he was furious when Comey testified that the FBI was investigating his campaign, reported Politico.

Trump was also furious that Comey refused to support his claims that former President Barack Obama had tapped his phones at Trump Tower, the website reported.

He was frustrated that the narrative had spun out of his control and repeatedly asked aides why the investigation wouldn’t just disappear, and one adviser said Trump would scream at the television when reports aired about the probe.

The president received letters Tuesday from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions recommending Comey’s firing, according to a spokesman.

Trump decided to fire Comey and did so quickly, but the spokesman insisted the president had not asked for the letters in advance and White House officials had no idea the letters were coming.

However, several sources close to the situation told Politico that Trump had talked about firing Comey for over a week, and the letters were written to justify the move.

Trump called several senators around 5 p.m. Tuesday seeking support, and White House officials believed Democrats would back the firing because of their own past criticisms of Comey.

That’s not what happened.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told the president he was making a big mistake, and Trump seemed “taken aback,” according to one source.

The president spent the evening watching TV coverage of the firing, and a White House official said he was frustrated that none of his surrogates were defending his decision.

Two White House officials told the website that little communications strategy was developed for the firing, and staffers were given talking points late Tuesday for last-minute media appearances.

They circulated quotes by Schumer criticizing Comey’s actions during the final weeks of the presidential campaign, but that sketched-out plan had to be revised on the fly after Schumer called for a special prosecutor.


Ex-FBI Officials Warn That Shitstain Trump Could Easily Use New FBI Director To Thwart Russia Probe

By Sean Colarossi on Tue, May 9th, 2017 at 10:09 pm

"While investigations typically continue after a FBI director steps down, a director who is sympathetic or friendly to Trump could easily drag out the FBI probe."

Despite the outrage over Donald Trump’s stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey – the man heading up an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia – there seems to be a general consensus that the FBI’s reputation cannot be tarnished and the president isn’t powerful enough to influence this important  investigation in a meaningful way.

Former FBI leaders disagree.

According to Newsweek, the FBI investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia may go on, despite the person running the bureau, but it’s possible – even probable – that the president could choose someone who would have the power to take that investigation off the rails.

Citing former FBI supervisors, Newsweek reports that Trump’s new FBI director “could drag [the Russia investigation] out forever” so nothing ever really comes of it.

More from Newsweek:

    President Donald Trump’s sudden firing of FBI director James Comey could jeopardize the bureau’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election, former FBI supervisors tell Newsweek.    

    While investigations typically continue after a FBI director steps down, a director who is sympathetic or friendly to Trump could easily drag out the FBI probe into Trump staffers and Russia, the ex-supervisors say.

The report goes on, quoting former FBI officials who say that there are easy ways for an FBI director to “kill a case” if he wants to help the man who appointed him – Trump, in this case.


    “You don’t kill a case just by telling everyone to stop investigating it. That would be obstruction of justice,” says Myron Fuller, a former special agent who once ran the Honolulu division. “But you could drag it out forever … The FBI could work it until the cows come home.”    

    Another former FBI supervisor tells Newsweek that while all investigations continue regardless of a change at the top, the person who replaces Comey could steer the probe in a different direction.    

    “The person who replaces Comey will have influence on how the investigation goes,” says Joseph Lewis, a former assistant director of the organized crime branch of the FBI’s criminal division. He added that a FBI director sympathetic to Trump could, “Play devil’s advocate and sow seeds of doubt with the investigators.”

At the end of the day, Trump could no longer control FBI Director Comey, and he didn’t like the direction in which the investigation was headed – so he used old reasons related to Hillary Clinton’s email inquiry as justification for firing Comey.

Now that he’s gone, there is still a conventional wisdom that the FBI cannot be penetrated or controlled by Trump – no way, no how.

But in a presidency full of troubling and unprecedented things, the American people shouldn’t be surprised if the desperate President of the United States stoops to such levels in order to save himself from a scandal that blows up a little more each day.

The only way to prevent that from happening, as former special agent Myron Fuller told Newsweek, is for Republicans to join Democrats in calling for an independent investigation – one that is out of the reach of Donald Trump’s very small hands.


Calls Grow For Democrats To Block Shitstain Trump’s FBI Director Until A Special Prosecutor Is Appointed

By Jason Easley on Tue, May 9th, 2017 at 8:45 pm

The calls are getting louder in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey for Democrats to block Trump’s nominee to be the next FBI Director until a special prosecutor is appointed to investigate Trump and Russia.

Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Ken Gude said, “We need a special prosecutor, and we need one right now. Every step of the way, President Trump has tried to stifle or kill the Russia investigation. Any notion that Trump would fire FBI Director Comey over his handling of the Clinton email investigation is a red herring. No new FBI Director should be confirmed until a special prosecutor is appointed to lead a truly independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders said that Trump nominated FBI Director won’t be able to carry out an independent investigation, “President Trump has repeatedly taken steps to kill inquiries into Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election. It is clear that whomever President Trump handpicks to lead the FBI will not be able to objectively carry out this investigation. We need an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.”

The top-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, “The same President who has called the investigation into the Russian hacking of our democracy and the potential complicity of his campaign a ‘fake,’ cannot pretend to have made such a decision uninfluenced by his concerns over Comey’s continued involvement in the investigation. It is more imperative than ever that an independent prosecutor be appointed to restore a modicum of public confidence – now completely lacking – that the criminal investigation will continue without further interference by the White House.”

The consensus for an independent investigation is already there for Democrats. The fact that Sanders is already casting doubt about Trump’s nominee and activists are calling for the nominee to be blocked until there is a special prosecutor shows a roadmap to what may be coming next.

Democrats should block Trump’s nominee for FBI Director until a special prosecutor is appointed. Anything less would be allowing Trump and congressional Republicans to get away with obstruction of justice. It is time for every concerned American to tell Democrats to block Trump’s nominee until a special prosecutor is appointed to investigate the Russia scandal.


Bernie Sanders Sets The Stage For A Massive Democratic Resistance Against Shitstain Trump’s FBI Nominee

By Jason Easley on Tue, May 9th, 2017 at 7:50 pm

In his statement on the firing of James Comey, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made the argument no Trump picked FBI Director can be trusted to objectively carry out the Russia Investigation.

In a statement provided to PoltiicusUSA, Sen. Sanders said:

Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey raises serious questions about what his administration is hiding. Why did President Trump fire the person leading the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian government? I find it deeply troubling that this decision comes a day after damning testimony by former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign and just days before Comey was scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

President Trump has repeatedly taken steps to kill inquiries into Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election. It is clear that whomever President Trump handpicks to lead the FBI will not be able to objectively carry out this investigation. We need an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

Expect Senate Democrats and maybe even some moderate Senate Republicans to use this same argument against any Trump nominated FBI Director. In fact, it may take an independent Russia investigation even to get Trump’s FBI Director confirmed. It will be interesting to see how many Republicans are willing to walk the plank for a president who looks like he is engaging in obstruction of justice.

If Republicans thought the fight over Gorsuch was difficult, that was nothing compared to what could be waiting for them on Trump’s nominee to run the FBI.


Adam Schiff Goes There And Hints That Shitstain Trump and Jeff Sessions Are Obstructing Justice

By Sarah Jones on Tue, May 9th, 2017 at 8:02 pm

Schiff went on slam Trump and Sessions for their conflicts of interest in firing Comey, comparing the act to "a similarly tainted decision by President Nixon."

Intel Committee Ranking Member Schiff said it was more imperative than ever to appoint an independent prosecutor after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who is currently investigating Donald Trump and Trump’s Attorney General’s possible collusion with Russia.

Schiff went on slam Trump and Sessions for their conflicts of interest in firing Comey, comparing the act to “a similarly tainted decision by President Nixon.”

“The decision by a President whose campaign associates are under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia to fire the man overseeing that investigation, upon the recommendation of an Attorney General who has recused himself from that investigation, raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter,” Schiff wrote in a statement sent to PoliticusUSA.

“While I had deep reservations with the way Director Comey handled the investigation into the Clinton emails which I made clear at the time and since, to take this action without addressing the profound conflict of interest of the President and Attorney General harkens back to a similarly tainted decision by President Nixon.”

The Nixonian comparison is exemplified by the New York Times reporting at that time:

“President Nixon, reacting angrily tonight to refusals to obey his orders, dismissed the special Watergate prosecutor, Archibald Cox, abolished Mr. Cox’s office, accepted the resignation of Elliot L. Richardson, the Attorney General, and discharged William D. Ruckelshaus, the Deputy Attorney General.

The President’s dramatic action edged the nation closer to the constitutional confrontation he said he was trying to avoid.”

Schiff continued, “The same President who has called the investigation into the Russian hacking of our democracy and the potential complicity of his campaign a ‘fake,’ cannot pretend to have made such a decision uninfluenced by his concerns over Comey’s continued involvement in the investigation.”

“It is more imperative than ever that an independent prosecutor be appointed to restore a modicum of public confidence – now completely lacking – that the criminal investigation will continue without further interference by the White House.”

Donald Trump just tried to obstruct justice by firing James Comey days before he was to testify for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

We now have a White House, Congress, and DOJ that are actively seeking to obstruct an investigation into Russia. Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing only wanted to ask about Trump’s claims of persecution instead of anything that might, say, protect this country from a hostile foreign aggressor.

Adam Schiff is right, we need an independent prosecutor, but we won’t get one. Republicans will let Donald Trump appoint a replacement to investigate him, and that sham will be an arrow straight into the heart of this country.


Senate intel committee requests Shitstain Trump docs from Treasury Department’s financial crimes division

Elizabeth Preza
Raw Story
09 May 2017 at 17:29 ET                  

The Senate Intelligence Committee sent a request to the Treasury Department’s criminal investigation division for information related to Donald Trump, members of his administration and his campaign aides, CNN reports.

“We’ve made a request, to FinCEN [Financial Crimes Enforcement Network] in the Treasury Department, to make sure, not just for example vis-a-vis the President, but just overall our effort to try to follow the intel no matter where it leads,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) told the news outlet.

FinCEN is one of the lead agencies that fights money laundering.

“You get materials that show if there have been, what level of financial ties between, I mean some of the stuff, some of the Trump-related officials, Trump campaign-related officials and other officials and where those dollars flow,” Warner said, adding the financial ties are “not necessarily from Russia.”

As part of the House Intelligence Committee’s ongoing investigation into Trump’s Russian connections, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) visited Cyprus in April, which “has a reputation as a laundromat for the Russians who are trying to avoid sanctions.”

“It was extraordinarily helpful in understanding how the Russians launder money and why,” Quigley said of his trip to the laundromat hotspot.


Shitstain Just Came Up With His Dumbest Scheme Yet To Try To Avoid Being Impeached

By Sarah Jones on Tue, May 9th, 2017 at 4:00 pm

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced at his daily briefing the latest Trump scheme to try to make the Russia scandal go away, and it involves sending a certified letter to the Senate proclaiming that he has no business dealings with Russia.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced at his daily briefing the latest Trump scheme to try to make the Russia scandal go away, and it involves sending a certified letter to the Senate proclaiming that he has no business dealings with Russia.

When asked about Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wanting to look into Trump’s business dealings in Russia, Spicer said, “So the president obviously was aware of Sen. Grahams’s suggestion after he made it today, and he’s fine with that. He has no business in Russia. He has no connections to Russia, so he welcomes that. In fact, he has already charged a leading law firm in Washington, D.C. to send a certified letter to Sen. Graham to that point that he has no connections to Russia, so that should be a really easy look.”

Instead of providing actual evidence that he has no business, and has not done business in Russia, Trump thinks Graham is going to settle for a certified letter saying something like, ‘Believe me, I have no business in Russia.’

You know what would be better than a meaningless certified letter? Trump’s tax returns.

Lindsey Graham isn’t going to settle for a written pinky swear promise that Trump has no business connections to Russia. The fact that the White House is trying to sell a certified letter as a credible response is insane.

Trump doesn’t seem to realize that he is not playing in the small time worlds of real estate and reality television anymore. The gimmicks that used to work back then aren’t going to work now that he is president.

People want real evidence, and a certified letter is a dumb response that will only make investigators dig deeper.

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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2017, 06:28 AM »

Swap 'Clinton' for 'Trump' to see just how bad the Flynn scandal is

Richard Wolffe

What do you think the Republican reaction would be to this state of affairs? Never mind Monica Lewinsky. It would be all impeachment, all the time

Tuesday 9 May 2017 19.06 BST

Let’s play a game, shall we?

Let’s pretend that Hillary Clinton, who won almost 3 million votes more than Donald Trump, also won the presidency in the electoral college. And let’s pretend that President Clinton, once installed in the White House, was facing a hostile Republican-controlled Congress.

The Clinton transition was a messy affair, to say the least. Her national security adviser was the subject of a counterintelligence investigation into his secret contacts with the Chinese ambassador, as well as payments from Chinese state-run companies. That adviser also kept secret that he was a paid foreign agent of another strongman leader – let’s say, the Egyptian president. Oh, and he lied to Vice-President Tim Kaine about his Chinese connections.

    A rank raincloud of lies, spies and bribes hangs over the nation’s capital
    Richard Wolffe

But that’s not all. The Chinese, no doubt drawing on their unique insight into the entire US tech industry, managed to hack their way into every cellphone used by the Trump and Clinton campaigns. But they only leaked the text messages and emails of the Republican operatives, leading to months of negative stories in the media and countless posts on Facebook.

For her part, Clinton refused to reveal if she had any business connections with the Chinese, even though her daughter, Chelsea, bragged to the media about getting money from them. Her husband, the former president, traveled to the UAE to raise money for his new investment fund, promising investors they could snag legal immigration visas for doing so.

What do you think the Republican reaction would be to this state of affairs? Would Congress be able to confirm a single Clinton nominee, never mind vote on her legislative priorities? Would the government stay open as it approached its debt ceiling? And would Fox News, as well as the entire rightwing echo chamber, require a boatload of amphetamines to maintain its most obsessive coverage of the foreign spies and corruption at the heart of the new White House?

Never mind Monica Lewinsky. It would be all impeachment, all the time.

Listening to the impeccable testimony of Sally Yates before the Senate on Monday, as well as the astonishing Republican questions, it’s hard to escape this conclusion: Trump’s Washington stinks.

It stinks from the top of Capitol Hill to the luxury hotel lobby on Pennsylvania Avenue, all the way to the depths of Foggy Bottom. It stinks from the Oval Office to the press office, and you don’t have to stop at the counsel’s office to check on the stench. A rank raincloud of lies, spies and bribes hangs over the nation’s capital ready to release its unusually golden shower.

When the acting attorney general first told the White House counsel Don McGahn about Michael Flynn’s relationship with the Russians, the reaction was almost as astonishing as a John Le Carré plot.

Trump’s lawyer first wanted to know how Flynn had fared under FBI questioning. “Mr McGahn asked me how he did and I declined to give him an answer to that,” Yates explained. “And we then walked through with Mr McGahn essentially why we were telling them about this and the first thing we did was to explain to Mr McGahn that the underlying conduct that General Flynn had engaged in was problematic in and of itself.”

McGahn, who previously defended the wonderfully principled Republican House majority leader Tom DeLay, later wanted to know if Yates thought Flynn should be fired. “I told him that that really wasn’t our call, that was up to them, but that we were giving them this information so that they could take action,” she recounted.

When Yates returned for a second meeting, the White House counsel suggested the whole blather was a storm in a vodka bottle.

“One of the questions that Mr McGahn asked me when I went back over the second day was essentially, why does it matter to DoJ if one White House official lies to another White House official? And so we explained to him, it was a whole lot more than that and went back over the same concerns that we had raised with them the prior day, that the concern first about the underlying conduct itself, that he had lied to the vice-president and others, the American public had been misled,” she patiently explained.

“And then importantly, that every time this lie was repeated and the misrepresentations were getting more and more specific, as they were coming out. Every time that happened, it increased the compromise and to state the obvious, you don’t want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians.”

It’s hard to believe this requires explanation. Obviously nobody wants to have a compromised national security adviser. Obviously the president of the United States would be horrified by these revelations and fire his adviser on the spot rather than waiting 18 days to do so, with full access to the most precious secrets of government.

And obviously you’re thinking of another president who isn’t called Donald Trump. Because that president was busy on his tweet machine, pretending like Yates was saying old stuff that didn’t matter to anyone:

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?
    May 8, 2017

It’s good to know that Trump, who spends so many taxpayer dollars traveling to his golf courses, is so ably assisted by his allies in Congress. Because they are determined to expose the nature of this total hoax of a Russia-Trump connection currently under investigation by the FBI.

Senator Lindsay Graham interrupted Yates to ask – as his first question, mind you – about the media leaks of Flynn’s ties to Russia. Senators Chuck Grassley and John Cornyn mysteriously chose the same subject for their first questions.

Those leaks led directly to a Washington Post story that forced the firing of a national security adviser who was compromised by Russia. And yet for the most senior Republicans in Washington, the real scandal lies with the press, not the spies.

Then there’s Ted Cruz, the self-styled constitutional expert who tried to trip up Yates on the legality of the Muslim travel ban. Along with Cornyn, both Texas senators tried to argue that it was outrageous for a Justice Department official to question the legality of an order by the president.

As Yates pointed out, they took a very different view of the law when she was confirmed, under a Democratic president. She also argued that the constitution trumped all other statutes they cited. Which was more than a little ironic for a Republican party that argued for the entire eight years under Obama about the sacrosanct nature of the constitution.

But enough of such principles and details. Everything is partisan and fake, as long as it comes from the other side. Even when the Russians are hacking our democracy and the president’s aides are lying about the same Russians.

Thank goodness this didn’t happen under President Clinton, whose leadership would have been so wisely constrained by all those sincerely principled Republicans in Congress. In Trump’s Washington, we don’t need all those checks and balances, ethics lawyers and emolument clauses.

As the great leader himself told the even greater Fox News last week, that whole constitution seems so old-fashioned.

“It’s a very rough system,” he said. “It’s an archaic system … It’s really a bad thing for the country.”

As they used to say about General Motors, what’s good for Trump is surely good for the country. It’s also surprisingly good for Russia.

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« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2017, 06:33 AM »

‘They fired Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bharara. And they fired James Comey.’

Sarah K. Burris
Raw Story
10 May 2017 at 07:51 ET                   

James Comey, Sally Yates and Preet Bharara. Questions are being raised about President Donald Trump’s decision for dismissing the director of the FBI, as well as two other appointees from the previous presidential administration. Each of them was fired by Trump.

CNN reported Wednesday that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer found the firing part of a “deeply troubling pattern from the Trump administration.” New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman told the Wednesday morning CNN panel that Trump thought it would be an easy firing because Democrats are already on record hating Comey. Haberman said that Trump assumed they’d be “hamstrung.” When he called Schumer to inform the New York senator of the firing, Schumer reportedly said that it was a mistake. “Well, we’ll see,” Haberman reported Trump replied.

“They fired Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bharara. And they fired James Comey, the very man leading the investigation. This does not seem to be a coincidence,” Schumer said when the announcement was made. He then called for an independent prosecutor.

“Any person who he appoints to lead the Russian investigation will be concerned that he or she will meet the same fate as Director Comey,” he said.

Here are the facts about those Trump let go.

1. James Comey

Fired Tuesday, the president said he botched the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The signed letter sent to the FBI revealed the president didn’t believe Comey could “effectively lead the bureau.” At the time, Comey was overseeing the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and Democrats have rejected the claim that Trump fired Comey due to the Clinton email investigation.

At a hearing last week, Comey confirmed that the FBI has continued the investigation into the Trump campaign and their contact with Russian officials. The next FBI director will have the option of whether the FBI will direct agents to continue the investigation or not.

2. Sally Yates

Yates was fired after she refused to defend Trump’s ban on those coming in from predominantly Muslim nations.

“The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” press secretary Sean Spicer said after the firing.

At the time of her firing, Yates was investigating any possible collusion between Russia and the Trump administration. She met with the White House counsel’s office to let them know former National Security Advisor Michal Flynn was lying about his interactions with the Russian ambassador and that he could be subjected to blackmail from the Russians.

“We believed that General Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians,” Yates revealed Monday during her testimony in the Senate hearing on Russian hacking.

“Logic would tell you that you don’t want the national security adviser to be in a position where the Russians have leverage over him,” she added.

Attorney general Jeff Sessions ultimately agreed that he would recuse himself from any decisions around the Russia investigation. However, Sessions and his deputy worked to justify the firing of Comey, according to reports.

3. Preet Bharara

Serving as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara was one of the most diligent watchdogs. He was fired after refusing to resign with the other U.S. attorneys Trump requested leave their post. Bharara met with Trump transition team members in the days following the election and was assured that he would keep his job. He said he felt blindsided by the demand.

“I wanted it to be on record that there was a deliberate decision to change [his] mind and fire me, particularly given what my office’s jurisdiction is,” he said about why he was speaking out. At the time, he was investigating Fox News for allegedly failing to inform the company’s shareholders about repeated allegations of sexual harassment and assault against former Chairman Roger Ailes and others at Fox from female employees.

Trump also claimed that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower, which would have fallen under Bharara’s jurisdiction.

CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said it was obvious Trump “decided that he wants his own pick rather than the choice of Senate adversary (and minority leader) Chuck Schumer in place as the top federal prosecutor in New York.”

Both parties have said that there is no evidence of Trump’s claim about Obama’s wiretapping and Comey admitted he had “no information” that supports Trump’s claim.

It’s unclear who Trump will fire next that takes up the investigation against him.

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« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2017, 08:38 AM »

Shitstain Trump fires FBI director James Comey and a new national nightmare takes hold

The Conversation
10 May 2017 at 09:49 ET                   

Ever since Donald Trump took office amid revelations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and his team’s connections with the Kremlin, a monumental political time-bomb has been steadily ticking. But things took an extremely ominous turn on May 9 when Trump suddenly fired the director of the FBI, James Comey. The Conversation

Even by the standards of the Trump administration so far, this move is deeply shocking. For starters, the White House does not have a credible justification for firing Comey. Trump and his team claim Comey was dismissed for mishandling revelations about Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server: the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, wrote a letter saying that he could not defend the “director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails”. White House spokesperson Kellyanne Conway took to the airwaves to state unequivocally that the firing has “nothing to do with Russia”.

This is ludicrous. Trump repeatedly praised Comey’s treatment of Clinton throughout the presidential campaign, especially when he announced the probe had been reopened just days before the vote – an announcement that some (Clinton included) credit with assuring Trump’s victory. After taking office, the new president saw that Comey was kept on as FBI Director. The email affair is now a dead scandal involving a vanquished opponent; the idea that it somehow triggered Comey’s removal is bizarre.

Perhaps indicating that even Trump knows how transparent this is, a clumsy line in the letter he sent to Comey on May 9 attempts to dismiss the all-too-clear connection between Comey’s firing and the Russia investigation: “I greatly appreciate,” the president wrote, “you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.” Indeed, Trump is so keen to dispel any suspicion of collusion with Russia that he recently posted one of his tweets on the topic as his Twitter account’s header, a gesture for which he was widely mocked.

The firing also comes hot on the heels of a new round of controversies and revelations surrounding the Russia investigation. Just a week before he was fired, Comey testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he confirmed that the FBI is still investigating not only Russia’s role in hacking the elections, but possible collusion between the Kremlin and members of the Trump team. He had also tried to justify his behaviour during the campaign while adding that he felt “nauseated” at the thought that he might have influenced the election result.

Trump’s behaviour since has been remarkably neurotic. On May 9, he fired off a series of inaccurate tweets meant to discredit the former acting attorney general, Sally Yates, and her testimony regarding Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who resigned in February when it transpired that he’d lied about meetings with the Russian ambassador.

Trump also tried to pin the blame for the Flynn debacle on the Obama administration, but that backfired when former members of the Obama team revealed that Obama had personally warned Trump about Flynn in their Oval Office meeting after the election.

On top of all this is a critical problem of accountability. In March, Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from the Russia investigation when it emerged that during his Senate confirmation hearings, he too had failed to disclose that he had met with the Russian ambassador. But despite the implicit acknowledgement that he is too close to the FBI’s investigation for comfort, Sessions played a prominent role in pushing for Comey’s dismissal.

A new nightmare

Trump’s shocking decision intersects with the Russian collusion saga at several points: Russia’s meddling in the elections, collusion between the Trump team and the Kremlin, and meetings between administration officials and the Russian ambassador. And as if it wasn’t shocking enough, it’s worth remembering that firing an FBI director is almost unprecedented in US history.

The only other president to do this was Bill Clinton, who fired William Sessions in 1993 for a range of ethical and financial abuses. At the height of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon asked the CIA to try and obstruct the FBI’s investigation – but as the Richard Nixon Presidential Library tweeted, even he didn’t go so far as to fire the bureau’s director.

    FUN FACT: President Nixon never fired the Director of the FBI #FBIDirector #notNixonian pic.twitter.com/PatArKOZlk

    — RichardNixonLibrary (@NixonLibrary) May 9, 2017

Comey was only three years into a ten-year term, whose length is designed to outlast even a two-term president and guarantee the political impartiality of the office. In spite of Trump’s suggestion that the firing was an effort to restore the bureau’s credibility, it can more properly be interpreted as a step towards politicising it – one of its agents’ greatest fears.

So has Trump at last gone too far? This question has dogged him at every turn since the very day he announced his campaign, and so far, the answer has always been a regretful “no”. There are signs that this time could be different.

As Politico reported, in what is the latest example of the president’s naivety and incompetence, Trump badly miscalculated the reaction to Comey’s firing, somehow believing that both Republicans and Democrats could agree on it. Several senators and representatives quickly criticised the president’s decision, including Republicans such as John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Richard Burr, chair of the Senate’s intelligence committee. Democrats, meanwhile, have called on the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to run an independent investigation into the Trump-Russia connection.

It is so far unclear whether any such step will be taken, or whether Comey’s abrupt dismissal will seriously damage Trump’s presidency. But as veteran journalist Dan Rather pointed out, this is an extremely dark time in American history.

When he took the oath of office after Nixon’s resignation, Gerald Ford assured the American people: “Our long national nightmare is over. Our constitution works. Our great republic is a government of laws and not of men.” But now, the question of whether a president can operate above the law is at issue once again – and a new national nightmare may already be in full swing.

By Luca Trenta, Lecturer in International Relations, Swansea University


Report: Federal Prosecutors Issue Grand Jury Subpoenas in FBI's Russia Investigation

Megan Reynolds

On Tuesday, CNN reported that federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to various associates of former national security advisor Micheal Flynn as a part of the ongoing investigation into the scope of Russia’s involvement in influencing the 2016 election.

The timing of this news is interesting; CNN apparently learned of the subpoenas mere hours before President Donald Trump unceremoniously fired FBI director James Comey, who was heading the probe into Russia’s involvement. The recipients of the subpoenas are former business associates of Flynn’s, who worked with him after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.

The Flynn investigation centers around his possible mishandling of disclosures about payments from clients with relationships to foreign governments, including Russia and Turkey, sources told CNN. Flynn’s attorney, the Justice Department, the FBI and the US Attorney’s office in Alexandria have all declined to comment on this revelation, which is fine, because honestly, what could they really say?

By all accounts, Flynn was an especially horrible choice for the role. CNN also reports that during a meeting with then President-Elect Trump, former President Obama raised concerns about Flynn — not because of his ouster from the Defense Intelligence Agency, but because of how his name kept “popping up” during the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election. Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified on Monday that she had tried to warn the White House about Flynn’s particular unsuitability for this role, citing the fact that he is likely very susceptible to Russian blackmail because on account of lying to Vice President Mike Pence about his contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Despite these warnings, President Trump hired him anyway, only to accept his resignation 24 days later.

The subpoenas are “the first sign of a significant escalation of activity” in the investigation, CNN reports, but now that Comey’s out, effective immediately, what will become of this investigation? With the person leading the investigation out of a job, is this dead in the water?

Speaking to the New York Times, Timothy Naftali, a former director of the Nixon presidential library, offered some slightly reassuring words, pointing out the obvious.

    “With or without Mr. Comey, the F.B.I. will continue to investigate the 2016 campaign as it relates to Russian intervention,” Mr. Naftali said. “This is another kind of mistake. Unless Attorney General Sessions can prove malfeasance or gross negligence by Comey, the timing of this action further deepens suspicions that President Trump is covering up something.”

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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2017, 10:21 AM »

Shitstain Trump excludes US media from meeting with Russian ambassador — but Russian state news allowed in

Brad Reed
Raw Story
10 May 2017 at 12:00 ET                   

One day after firing the man overseeing the FBI investigation into his presidential campaign’s ties to the Russian government, President Donald Trump spent Wednesday morning meeting with Russian government officials in the Oval Office.

However, no American media outlets were allowed to cover the event — and only photographers from Russia’s state-run media were allowed to snap photos, such as the one posted by the Russian embassy’s official Twitter account.

    Ambassador Kislyak and President Trump / Посол С.Кисляк и Президент Д.Трамп pic.twitter.com/Ckkx2YL9KX

    — Russia in USA 🇷🇺 (@RusEmbUSA) May 10, 2017

As the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler pointed out in response to the photo, “NO US press allowed in with meeting with [Trump] so we have to rely on images from Russian state media.”

    NO US press allowed in with meeting with @potus so we have to rely on images from Russian state media https://t.co/l4KzhHq8s6

    — Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) May 10, 2017

Kislyak has been a central figure in the Trump administration’s ongoing scandal related to Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

Among other things, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from taking part in investigations into Russia after it was revealed that he failed to disclose during his Senate confirmation hearing that he twice met with Kislyak during the 2016 presidential campaign, despite having denied meeting with any Russian government officials.


BOMBSHELL: Comey sought ‘significant increase’ in resources for Russia probe days before firing

Brad Reed
Raw Story
10 May 2017 at 11:43 ET                   

A new report reveals that former FBI Director James Comey called for a major boost in resources for his agency’s probe into Russian involvement into the 2016 presidential election just days before being fired.

Three sources tell the New York Times that Comey recently asked the U.S. Department of Justice for “a significant increase in money and personnel for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election.”

According to the Times’ report, Comey’s request was made to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was the man who recommended to President Donald Trump this week that Comey be fired. After his meeting with Rosenstein, Comey also reportedly briefed members of Congress on his request.

CNN reporter Sara Murray, meanwhile, reports that Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) had recently urged Comey to “speed up” the FBI’s Russia investigation., and that Comey was fired just “one day” after asking Rosenstein for more resources.

    Burr and Warner urged Comey to speed up Russia inquiry; Comey asked Rosenstein for more resources. Next day, Comey fired, per @SaraMurray

    — Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 10, 2017

The report about Comey’s resource request was also confirmed by Washington Post reporter Ashley Parker.

    CONFIRMED: Last week Comey asked Rod Rosenstein for more resources for investigation into Trump/Russia collusion.

    — Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) May 10, 2017

Revelations about Comey’s desire for more resources on the Russia probe comes on the same day that Trump met with Russian government officials in the Oval Office, including Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov.

The Justice Department has officially denied that Comey requested more resources for the probe in the days leading up to his firing.

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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2017, 04:38 AM »

'It gives people hope': born-again Irish beach captures world's attention

Achill islanders ready themselves for wave of tourism after reappearance of Dooagh sands washed away in storms in 1984

Henry McDonald Dooagh beach, Achill Island
Wednesday 10 May 2017 13.03 BST

For Achill islander Emmet Callaghan, the beach at Dooagh where he grew up sounded as mythical and unreal as Brigadoon, the mysterious Scottish village that only appears every 100 years.

The 300-metre stretch of golden sand where his grandfather used to collect seaweed for villagers to fertilise their land was destroyed in 1984 by Atlantic storms that battered Ireland’s north-west coast – seven years before Callaghan was born.

A more benign freak of nature this Easter brought Dooagh beach back, its mysterious reappearance capturing the world’s imagination. An unusually strong tide appeared off the coast of Achill Island, dumping hundreds of tonnes of sand on the rocks and building up the beach again.

Looking out across the golden sand as he stood beside the memorial at the spot in Dooagh where Don Allum, an English oarsman, hit land after becoming the first man to row solo both ways across the Atlantic, Callaghan explained why the global media has come calling.

“We live in a dark world these days so I think that is why there has been so much interest in Dooagh beach since the story broke. For something like our beach to come back gives people hope. It’s a good news story and one where nature has done something benign for a change,” Callaghan, an administrator at Achill Tourism, said.

As waves lapped the shoreline, depositing clumps of seaweed known locally as “the Rack” that filled the air with a briny tang, Callaghan said he was readying himself for a wave of tourists this season, all searching for the born-again beach.

“I had 50 English tourists drive here from a pilgrimage they were on at Knock (a Catholic shrine in Mayo) on Tuesday. They were from Leicester and some of them were starstruck when they reached the beach. One woman was on her mobile telling her family back home she had reached ‘that beach’.

“Our phones at Achill Tourism haven’t stopped ringing since the reports went around the world about how the beach reappeared after 33 years. It makes it all the more amazing because my family connections to this beach stretch back through generations. My great-great-grandfather used to blow a bugle on the beach to let the villagers know when the Rack was washed ashore so they could come down and get their share. I wonder what he would have thought about his beach becoming world famous?” Callaghan said.

Another Callaghan stopped in her jeep to greet him. Kate Callaghan (no relation) owns a cafe in nearby Achill Sound and had just returned from Manchester.

In a thick Mancunian accent, Callaghan, the daughter of Achill slanders, said: “I was in a friend’s house in Manchester on Monday and then I turned on the TV and there was Emmet talking to the BBC via Skype while standing on the beach just down there. It was unreal to watch pictures of Dooagh beach being beamed out on the television channels while I was in England.”

Hoteliers, B&B owners and publicans hope the images of Dooagh beach, shot during the warmest weather so far in 2017, will bring a new influx of tourists to their part of Achill.

JJ McNamara, who has lived in Dooagh for 55 years and owns the Achill Cliff House hotel, said he believed the size and strength of the waves, combined with the “miraculous return” of soft golden sand, could help a specific form of tourism – surfing.

Looking towards Clare Island, McNamara pointed to the waves that caused so much damage back in 1984 that they not only wiped out the beach but flooded houses far beyond along the main road.

“Those waves and that beach make for a perfect combination for surfers. Even on a calm day like today they would be good enough to ride on a surf board. It’s another way for us to bring more tourists to Dooagh,” he said.

Across the road, inside Lourdies pub, its barman, John Cafferkey, said the beach’s reappearance would herald the return of a local delicacy.

“I remember eating sand eels from the beach when it was there before the storms in 84. There weren’t too many of them when all there was down there were rocks and rock pools. The soft sand that’s returned is perfect for the sand eels to thrive in, which by the way taste delicious,” he said.

Yet like Brigadoon, the resurrected beach at Dooagh could disappear once more if more climate change-driven violent storms smash into Ireland’s western seaboard, Irish coastal scientists warn.

Dr Kevin Lynch and Dr Eugene Farrell, from the National University of Ireland Galway, added: “The fact that Dooagh recovered so rapidly is definitely interesting. We would assess how deep is the veneer of sand. It could be that the sand was made available from offshore in recent months and last week the wave conditions were optimal to move it further landward to rebuild the beach. Hopefully, over time the beach elevation will rise – at least until the next storm.”

Click to watch: <iframe src="https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/world/video/2017/may/08/irish-beach-reappears-33-years-after-being-washed-away-video" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2017, 04:40 AM »

Darwin apparently right about the first life on Earth

10 May 2017 at 09:00 ET   

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Fossil evidence of early life has been found in old hot spring deposits in the Pilbara, Western Australia, that date back almost 3.48 billion years.

This extends the known evidence of life at land-based hot springs on Earth by about three billion years.

Not only is the find exciting for what it might say about the evolution of early life on Earth, but it also has implications for the search for life on Mars.

Our understanding of these deposits would not be possible without the foundations laid by earlier researchers.

Ancient stromatolites

In the late 1970s, fossilised stromatolites—rock structures built by communities of microorganisms—were discovered within these Pilbara deposits.

These were interpreted as once living in a quiet, shallow water coastal environment much like we see in the modern setting of Shark Bay.

But extensive research over the past 20 years has led to a much better understanding of the environment that suggests it was actually part of an ancient volcano.

In modern volcanic settings, hot fluids circulate in the rocks underground and manifest as hot vents at the bottom of the salty ocean, such as the black or white smokers, or terrestrial hot springs on land where fresh rainwater is available.

What was unclear about the volcanic setting in the Pilbara was whether these hot circulating fluids were indeed discharging on land, producing hot springs—such as those we see in Rotorua, New Zealand—and could we link these hot springs to signs of life?

The smoking gun

Our recent findings from the Pilbara, published today in Nature Communications, provide a smoking gun to a terrestrial hot spring scenario in the form of a particular rock type called geyserite. This was found alongside a variety of textures that indicate life.

Geyserite only forms around the edges of terrestrial hot spring pools and geysers. These are found actively forming today in New Zealand, Yellowstone National Park and Iceland to name a few.

The biological signatures that we’ve found include stromatolites, but also some newly identified microbial textures. This includes a microbial texture (called palisade fabric) that represents microbes that grew upon the ancient sinter terraces —the rocks that form around hot spring pools.

We also found evidence of gas bubbles that must have been trapped in a sticky substance (microbial) in order to be able to preserve the bubble shape.

Importantly, all of these textures are comparable to fossil textures found in modern hot spring settings such as Yellowstone National Park or Rotorua, New Zealand.

Ancient life on land

The Earth’s geological and fossil record is like a thousand-piece puzzle, but we only have a few pieces. Every missing piece we discover helps us to better shape our understanding of life.

But these new findings don’t just extend back the record of geyserite and life living in hot springs on land by three billion years, they also indicate that life was inhabiting the land much earlier than previously thought, by up to 580 million years.

Before these findings, the world’s oldest evidence for microbial life on land was from ancient, organic matter-rich soils from South Africa, aged between 2.7 billion and 2.9 billion years.

The new discovery has implications for the evolution, and perhaps even the origin, of life on Earth.

Scientists are currently considering two hypotheses regarding the origin of life: that it began in the ocean in hot vents, or alternatively that it began on land in a version of Charles Darwin’s “warm little pond” which was connected to a hot spring system.

The discovery of biological signatures and fossil preservation in such ancient hot springs provides at least a geological perspective of the types of environments available and inhabited by life very early on in Earth’s history.

This may lend weight to the hypothesis that life originated on land and then took a downhill adaptive evolutionary pathway to the salty ocean, whereas the opposite is typically proposed.

Life on Mars

These findings have major implications regarding the search for life elsewhere in the universe, or at least our solar system. Our neighbouring planet, Mars, has long been a target in the search for extraterrestrial life.

It is widely accepted that the red planet was likely similar to Earth once upon a time, in that it had liquid water flowing on its surface and active volcanoes.

Recent data from the Spirit rover has even identified ancient hot springs, of a similar age to early Earth, in an area called Columbia Hills.

In fact Columbia Hills is one of the top three potential landing sites chosen for NASA’s upcoming Mars2020 rover that’s includes a primary objective to search for fossil life on Mars.

Our findings imply that if life ever developed on the red planet, and it is preserved in ancient hot springs on Earth, then there is a good chance it could be preserved in ancient hot springs on Mars too.

Tara Djokic is a PhD Candidate studying Earth's earliest evidence of life at the University of New South Wales

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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2017, 04:47 AM »

Earth could break through a major climate threshold in the next 15 years, scientists warn

By Chelsea Harvey May 11 2017
(NASA via Associated Press)

Global temperatures could exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above their preindustrial levels within the next 15 years, according to a new scientific study, crossing the first threshold under the Paris climate agreement and placing the world at a potentially dangerous level of climate change.

The report comes as climate agreement participants are watching the United States — where the Trump administration is debating whether to withdraw from the Paris accord — and as scientists with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are working on a special report about the 1.5-degree goal (equivalent to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and the consequences of overshooting it.

That IPCC’s upcoming special report and the increasing urgency about minimizing global warming were one impetus for the study, according to co-author Benjamin Henley, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia. “We are working on a number of scientific avenues to help inform that report,” he told The Washington Post.

The study focuses on a natural planetary system known as the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, or IPO (it’s also sometimes referred to as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation). It’s an alternating pattern of ocean temperatures that shifts periodically between warm and cool phases, helping to drive temperature and weather patterns all over the world.

During cool, or “negative,” phases, tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean tend to be colder, and the global mean temperature is lower. The system is similar to the El Niño/La Niña cycle, the major difference being that phases of the IPO tend to last much longer — sometimes a decade or more. The phenomenon is believed to be a natural form of climate variability unrelated to human-caused climate change, although it does have the potential to influence the progression of global warming.

For most of the 2000s, the IPO has been in a negative phase, and scientists think its cooling effect has helped to slightly offset the effect of climate change, an explanation for the so-called global warming pause in the first part of the 21st century. As multiple studies have pointed out, this temporary slowdown is consistent with the overall long-term warming trend and in no way suggests that human-induced climate change is not occurring. Rather, this natural variation in the global climate helped to slightly blunt those effects. 

Many scientists believe that the planet is now transitioning back into a positive, or warm, phase, which could amplify, rather than offset, human-caused climate warming. This means we could reach milestone temperature thresholds faster than we would if the IPO had remained in its negative phase. 

That’s the conclusion of the new study, written by Henley and Andrew King of the University of Melbourne. Using model projections of future climate warming under a business-as-usual scenario, they suggest that the Earth could hit the 1.5-degree temperature threshold as early as 2025, while the continuation of the negative phase probably would delay this event until after 2030. 

The exact difference in timing depends on how we define the milestone itself, the researchers point out. We could say we’ve hit the threshold the first year the global mean temperature is 1.5 degrees warmer than it was during the preindustrial era, regardless of how the temperature fluctuates after that point. Or we could say it has happened when the mean temperature meets this point over the course of a five-year period or longer. Or, because global mean temperature tends to wiggle up and down a bit from one year to the next, we could say it’s the point at which we cross the 1.5-degree threshold and never dip below it again. 

The scientists explored all but the last scenario in their paper and found that the projected year for crossing the 1.5-degree threshold varied slightly among them. Generally, however, the models suggested it would occur between 2025 and 2029 (most likely around 2026) if the IPO shifts to a positive phase, and around 2031 if it stays in a negative phase. (They were not able to investigate the final scenario, they noted, because it probably will occur much further in the future and the number of IPO phases humans have observed since detailed record-keeping began is not sufficient to inform the model simulations required.)

“The paper emphasizes the way that natural climate variations, like the IPO, can interact with the progression of human-caused global warming,” Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told The Washington Post. “Therefore, the timing of when we cross certain thresholds depends on the interplay between these two factors.” Meehl was not involved with the new study but has previously published research on the IPO.

And the 2025 date for hitting the 1.5-degree temperature threshold is looking more and more likely. Multiple studies in the past few years suggest that the transition to a positive IPO phase has  begun. Henley said there’s some uncertainty about whether that has happened, but other scientists are more confident. Scientists John Fasullo and Kevin Trenberth, also of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, have published research to this effect, and both told The Post that we have been in a positive phase for several years now. 

In fact, Trenberth and Fasullo suggested that the paper’s conclusions have been generally known for some time. They also pointed out that the study has its limitations. Fasullo suggested that the various reasons given for the 1.5-degree temperature threshold are “deficient” for precisely the reason that they’re sensitive to climate variations such as the IPO.

Trenberth said that the 1.5 degrees — as a single, concrete number — is “pretty irrelevant.” He noted that “it is all of the other things going on when that stage is reached that really matter: the heat waves, wildfires, droughts, extreme rainfalls, etc.”

It’s also unclear, for now, how significant the difference between a positive and negative IPO really is in terms of what the planet would look like under either scenario. The timing difference for hitting the 1.5-degree target is only about five years. At the point when a positive IPO would cause us to cross the threshold, the researchers note that the global temperature under a negative IPO would probably be about 0.2 degrees Celsius cooler. Whether there would be a significant difference in the actual climate effects produced under these different mean temperatures is uncertain. 

It’s also possible that the business-as-usual scenario used in the study won’t come to pass and that the Paris agreement will indeed drive down global emissions enough to push off 1.5 degrees for a longer period of time. (Overall, the accord lists a goal of staying “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.)

But the paper clearly indicates that the 1.5-degree target is fast approaching. In fact, according to Meehl, the paper underscores a point that many climate scientists have been warning about: that we’re increasingly likely to blow past our climate goals, and soon. And with a potential U.S. withdrawal from the Paris accord looming, this scenario is now more likely than ever. 

“Given our rapid approach, one way or another, to the 1.5-degree threshold, the most plausible way to reach it at this point looks like we would have to overshoot and attempt to come back down to it afterward with policies that would significantly reduce emissions going forward,” Meehl suggested. Some scientists have proposed technology that would actually remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus cooling the climate in the future, but that’s a long way from being a practical solution to climate change.

“I guess the important thing is that policymakers should be aware of just how quickly we are approaching 1.5 degrees, and just realizing the urgency of reducing emissions,” Henley said. “It’s critical to keep pursuing the 1.5-degree goal.” 

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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2017, 04:53 AM »

Barack Obama warns climate change could create refugee crisis ‘unprecedented in human history’

'If the planet warms at the far end of the potential estimates, it would be catastrophic'

Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent
Thursday 11 May 2017 08:32 BST

Climate change could produce a refugee crisis that is “unprecedented in human history”, Barack Obama has warned as he stressed global warming was the most pressing issue of the age.

Speaking at an international food conference in Milan, the former US President said rising temperatures were already making it more difficult to grow crops and rising food prices were “leading to political instability”.

He said the United States was currently experiencing “floods on sunny days”, increased wildfires and, in Alaska, increased coastal erosion as the ice melts and no country was “immune” to the problem.   

If world leaders put aside “parochial interests” and took action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by enough to restrict the rise to one or two degrees Celsius, then humanity would probably be able to cope.

Failing to do this, Mr Obama warned, increased the risk of “catastrophic” effects in the future, “not only real threats to food security, but also increases in conflict as a consequence of scarcity and greater refugee and migration patterns”.

"If you think about monsoon patterns in the Indian subcontinent, maybe half a billion people rely on traditional rain patterns in those areas,” he told the Seeds & Chips conference, in remarks previously reported by Business Insider.

"If those rain patterns change, then you could see hundreds of millions of people who suddenly find themselves unable to feed themselves, because they're already at subsistence levels.

   The human 'catastrophe' that shows why world must fight climate change

“And the amount of migration, the number of refugees that could be resulting from something like that, would be unprecedented in human history.”

He noted that some of the worst effects of climate change would be “borne by people in poor nations that are least equipped to handle it”.

The current refugee crisis, which has seen hundreds of thousands of people from war-torn Syria and other places affected by conflict and poverty, travel to Europe would be “just the beginning of the kinds of problems we would see”, Mr Obama said.

“Some of the refugee flows into Europe originate not only from conflict, but also from places where there are food shortages that will get far worse as climate change continues.”

Is climate change real, and is the world actually getting warmer?

“The only real controversy is ‘how much warmer will it get?’ There’s really no controversy that the planet is getting warmer and the human activity is contributing to the warming,” he said.

“And what is also the conclusion of almost every scientist is if the planet warms at the far end of the potential estimates that it would be catastrophic and at the low end it would still be disruptive.”

Current climate models produce a range of possible outcomes as a result of the doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, from about 1.5C to 5C of warming. So far CO2 has risen from about 280 parts per million – a level that had remained fairly constant from the end of the last Ice Age to the 1800s – to more than 400ppm today.

And Mr Obama stressed how important he considered the issue to be.

“During the course of my presidency, I made climate change a top priority because I believe, for all the challenges we face, this is the top one that will define the contours of this century more dramatically perhaps than any other,” he said.

“No nation, whether it’s large or small, rich or poor, will be immune from the impacts of climate change.”

The election of the climate-science denying Donald Trump as president was simply “part of what happens in democracy”, Mr Obama said.

Earlier, without referencing Mr Trump, he said: “You get the politicians you deserve.”

But the “good news” was that the private sector had already grasped that the future would “is in clean energy”.

“I do not believe that any part of the world has to be condemned to perpetual poverty and hunger. And I do not believe that this planet is condemned to ever-rising temperatures,” he said.

“I believe these are problems that were caused by man and they can be solved by man.

“I’m fond of quoting the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, who believed that there’s such a thing as being too late.

“When it comes to climate change, the hour is almost upon us. If we act boldly and swiftly, if we set aside our parochial interests … we can leave behind a world that’s worthy of our children … a world not marked by human suffering, but human progress.”

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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2017, 04:55 AM »

Shitstain Trump warned US will pay a diplomatic price for withdrawing from Paris Agreement

'I feel that if the US withdraws, it’s a betrayal to the global community,' says leading delegate to UN climate summit

Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent

The United States would pay a diplomatic price for withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change, a leading Chinese expert has warned.

Dr Chai Qimin, a director at the National Centre for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, which is funded by the Chinese government, told the Climate Home website that doing so would affect talks at the G7 and G20 groups of wealthy nations.

In the past there have been suggestions that the rest of the world should impose a ‘carbon tax’ or other form of tariff on products made by countries which refuse to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While Dr Chai did not go this far, he said: “Definitely it will impact on other diplomatic arenas, already on G7 and G20, the Major Economies Forum as well,.

“President Xi [Jinping] and our ambassador to the United Nations have said several times that withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is irresponsible, which will harm the mutual trust in the multilateral mechanism.”

Donald Trump is currently considering whether to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement with the President having said in the past that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China.

However several leading figures in his administration, including his daughter Ivanka, are believe to be in favour of staying a signatory.

Ethiopian diplomat Gebru Jember Endalew, head of the 48 least-developed countries negotiating group taking part in a United Nations’ climate summit in Bonn, Germany, told Climate Home that if the US left the Paris Agreement it would be “a betrayal”.

“At this stage when most of the political leaders are actively engaged, they are well aware of the issue,” he said.

“So, I feel that if the US withdraws, it’s a betrayal to the global community – especially the least developed countries and the most vulnerable groups of countries.”

And an island state negotiator, speaking anonymously, added: “The diplomatic consequences of the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement cannot be overstated.

“Every leader stood up in Paris and pledged to transform their economies, and every part of their governments are now engaged in that effort.

“Every conversation with the US at every level would therefore be touched by a decision to withdraw and the ill feeling that it would generate.

“US global leadership, and the US economy, would be the biggest victims. It simply makes no sense, especially at a time when the US needs all the new jobs it can generate, and all its allies to be working together.”

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« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2017, 04:59 AM »

Giant Dutch Offshore Wind Farm Delivers Clean Energy to 1.5 Million People


Windmills have powered the Netherlands for hundreds of years and now the age-old technology will help power its future.

The country has officially opened its new 600-megawatt offshore wind park under schedule and under budget, according to its developer Gemini.

The wind farm will deliver 600 megawatts of renewable electricity to the Dutch grid and eventually generate enough power to meet the electricity needs of around 1.5 million people, or around 785,000 households.

The $3 billion project consists of 150 Siemens wind turbines spread across 26 square miles in the North Sea, about 53 miles off the country's northern coast.

Gemini is the second largest offshore wind farm in the world, slightly smaller than the 630-megawatt London Array.

"Now fully operational, Gemini will produce 2.6 TWh of sustainable energy every year, reducing the Netherlands' CO2 emissions by 1.25 million tonnes," the company's managing director Matthias Haag said. "We are proud to make this contribution to the realization of the Netherlands' sustainability targets."

Fossil fuels still make up about 95 percent of The Netherlands' energy supply, but the Dutch government is looking to ramp up the nation's share of renewable energy from 4 percent in 2014 to 16 percent in 2023, with the eventual aim of being carbon neutral by 2050.

The AFP reported that over the next 15 years, the wind park will be able to generate about 13 percent of the country's total renewable energy supply, and about 25 percent of its wind power.

Gemini "is seen as a stepping stone" in The Netherlands, and has "shown that a very large project can be built on time, and in a very safe environment," Haag said.

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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2017, 05:01 AM »

Fracking Pennsylvania to Make Plastics in Scotland?


A new report from Food & Water Watch documents how a Scottish energy billionaire's dangerous plan to ship gas liquids across the Atlantic is linked to a controversial pipeline currently under construction across Pennsylvania.

The report, The Trans-Atlantic Plastics Pipeline, tracks how the fracking boom in the U.S. has spawned a resurgence in petrochemical and plastics manufacturing. A British company called Ineos has contracted with U.S.-based drilling companies to supply it with ethane, a gas liquid used to make plastics. And in order to deliver these liquids, Sunoco is building the 350-mile Mariner East 2 pipeline across the state. The pipeline ends at the Marcus Hook facility south of Philadelphia, where massive "dragon ships" owned by Ineos carry gas liquids to Norway and Scotland.

"Fracking is creating a public health and climate disaster while propping the highly polluting plastics industry," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.

"People on both sides of the Atlantic are suffering the costs, with extremely detrimental effects to our global environment—everything from air pollution and climate altering emissions to the proliferation of plastic waste can be tied to the companies benefiting from this poisonous process."

Shipping gas liquids to Europe will drive more fracking in Pennsylvania, with all the accompanying water and air pollution that has been well-documented over the last several years of drilling in the state. That drilling is the rationale behind the Mariner East 2. Though the project has been approved by state regulators, communities along the 350-mile route are fighting against the pipeline's construction through a mix of municipally-oriented strategies and nonviolent direct action tactics.

"Sunoco Logistics, aka Energy Transfer Partners, continues to insist that it is providing a 'public benefit,' while in fact it is simply lining its pockets at the expense of the environment," said Ellen Gerhart, a Huntingdon County resident who has been resisting Sunoco's pipeline construction on her land.

"We, as landowners facing eminent domain by this company, will continue to resist, and stand in solidarity with our friends in both the U.S. and Europe. The fight is not over."

The environmental hazards will be evident across the Atlantic, too. In Scotland, Ineos will be "cracking" the ethane to make ethylene, an industrial process that causes air pollution and creates additional plastic litter, like the small pellets called nurdles that are littering shorelines across the UK. Earlier this month, the Ineos petrochemical facility in Grangemouth, Scotland had a substantial ethylene leak that forced the evacuation of employees.

All of the companies involved in the trans-Atlantic pipeline, the report shows, have poor environmental records. The Grangemouth facility has been repeatedly cited by Scottish authorities for emissions and pollutions violations, along with workplace safety violations. One of the drilling companies in Pennsylvania, Range Resources—perhaps best known for a water contamination incident in Texas—has been fined almost $21 million by state regulators. The company has been charged with more than 500 health and safety violations between 2005 and 2016.

And Sunoco, according to one analysis, had a higher rate of oil spills than any of its competitors in the U.S. It recently completed a merger with Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the highly controversial Dakota Access pipeline.

Food & Water Watch offers several recommendations to communities and political leaders both sides of the Atlantic, starting with a complete ban on fracking everywhere, a ban on fossil fuel imports and ending fossil fuel infrastructure projects that are harming the environment and contributing to the mounting threats posed by climate change.

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Shitstain Trump Order Could Open Up Area Larger Than Yellowstone to Drilling

An investigation by Greenpeace, published Wednesday by Bloomberg, has revealed that more than 2.7 million acres of iconic U.S. land could be at risk from fossil fuel exploration following Donald Trump's decision to review the protection on dozens of national monuments.

By overlaying government maps of oil, gas and coal deposits with the boundaries of the 27 national monuments on Trump's list, Greenpeace's investigation shows for the first time the full extent of the land potentially at risk from fossil fuel exploration.

Last month, Trump issued an executive order requiring the Department of Interior to review all large monuments designated by U.S. presidents under the Antiquities Act since 1996, suggesting they may pose a barrier to energy independence.

"These are the spectacular landscapes whose rugged contours and breathtaking views have defined America's history and identity for centuries," Greenpeace USA spokesperson Travis Nichols said.

"They are the common heritage of everyone in our country and must be preserved for future generation. Yet instead of protecting them, Trump wants to carve up these beautiful lands into corporate giveaways for the oil and gas industry. This out-of-touch billionaire may be about to hand over America's national treasures to the same industry that's already putting them at risk by fueling more climate change."

The analysis shows that a swath of protected land larger than Yellowstone national park could be opened up to drilling—with six national monuments affected by the executive order sitting above fossil fuel reserves. These include some of the most iconic lands in the U.S.—from the spectacular rock formations of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante to Carrizo Plain, the last remnant of a vast grassland that once stretched across California.

Map showing potential fossil fuel reserves below national monuments (in green). Grand Staircase (left); Bears Ears (center) and Canyons of the Ancients (right). Greenpeace

The analysis also reveals that, in some cases, the area of potential interest to fossil fuel prospectors covers the vast majority of the monuments. Around 90 percent of Bears Ears, 100 percent of Canyons of the Ancients, 42 percent of Grand Staircase; and 98 percent of San Gabriel Mountains sit above potential deposits of oil, gas and coal.

The research is published as Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke is visiting two of the national monuments on Trump's list, Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante, both of them in Utah, as part of the review.

Sec. Zinke has 120 days from the signing of the order to report back on whether monuments should be rescinded or resized, although he will report back on Bears Ears within 45 days.

Months before President Obama designated Bears Ears as a national monument last December, the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining approved drilling applications by one of the U.S.' largest independent oil companies on land that is now within the monument boundaries.

Since President Clinton created it in 1996, Grand Staircase-Escalante national monument in Utah has been fiercely opposed by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has personally lobbied Trump and Zinke to scrap it. One of the reasons behind the desire amongst Utah Republicans to do away with Grand Staircase is the coal seam that runs through the monument.

Carrizo Plain, a remote area of California grassland famous for it's spectacular springtime wildflowers, was declared a monument by President Clinton in 2001. The Bureau of Land Management's 2010 resource management plan estimated that there were 45 oil wells within the monuments boundary—including 15 producing wells—that pre-date its designation. The monument is also surrounded by a number of large oil fields, including California's largest, which lies just a few miles away.

In the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, Montana, plans to expand existing oil and gas operations within the protected area's boundaries were at the center of a legal battle between conservation groups and the Bureau of Land Management.

"People in this country who cannot afford the membership fee at Mar-a-Lago want unpolluted access to the public lands they love as citizens and own as taxpayers," Nichols said. "People must resist the latest in a trend of senseless rollbacks by the Trump White House and demand the Interior Department protect the land and water for people in their states and across the country. Trump is on the verge of jeopardizing true national treasures, but the people who live, worship, work, play and rely on these public lands and waters will ensure that he will not succeed."


'Catastrophic' Failure at Brooklyn Con Ed Spills 37,000 Gallons of Transformer Oil


A U.S. Coast Guard said that "catastrophic transformer failure" at a Con Edison station in downtown Brooklyn, New York caused 37,000 gallons of dielectric fluid, or transformer insulating oil, to leak onto property grounds and into the East River on Sunday.

As reported by Gothamist, witnesses said the oil slick could be seen all the way in the Queens borough.

The exact amount of oil released into the river is currently unclear, but the New York City Patch reported the Coast Guard needed to declare a "safety zone" in waters around the Greenpoint, Midtown and Red Hook neighborhoods as the discharge spread into the river Monday night. The safety zone was still in effect on Tuesday.

"Recreational and human powered vessels may not enter, remain in, or transit through the Safety Zone during the enforcement period unless authorized by the Coast Guard Captain of the Port or designated Coast Guard personnel," a spokeswoman said. "Mariners are requested to exercise caution while in the area."

Coast Guard spokeswoman Allyson Conroy told Patch that while dielectric fluid is considered hazardous, it is not as toxic as diesel fuel or petroleum.

However, Conroy added that "if humans do get in contact with it," they should immediately "wash their skin and avoid touching their eyes."

In a statement, Con Edison said employees and environmental contractors are working on the cleaning and containing the spill. The company is also "working cooperatively" with the U.S. Coast Guard, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies. Crews are using skimmers and absorbent materials to soak up as much fluid as possible.

The New York utility noted that the equipment failure also caused a system voltage dip that impacted the MTA's signaling systems on Sunday, resulting in a disruption to some train service.

"We continue to assess the volume of oil that migrated to the East River, and how much oil remains in the ground on our property," Con Edison stated. "The Coast Guard has issued reduced speed restrictions for commercial vessels operating in the area, and banning recreational vessels, to assist the cleanup process. We are taking all actions to contain and clean up the oil as safely and as quickly as possible."


Interior Sec. Zinke Orders Native American Activist to 'Be Nice'


During a tour of the heavily contested Bears Ears National Monument in Utah on Monday, U.S. Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke pointed a finger at monument supporter Cassandra Begay and told her to "be nice" after she repeatedly questioned the secretary about not spending more time talking with tribal leaders as part of his monuments review.

Begay, a tribal liaison with the group Peaceful Advocates for Native Dialogue & Organizing Support, described the encounter as "condescending and unnecessarily aggressive."

Footage of the incident shows Begay among a throng of Bears Ears monument supporters crowding around Zinke. At one point, the Native American activist asks the secretary, "When are you going to meet with the tribal leaders? It's kind of unfair that you've only met with them for one hour, sir. Is there a reason why you're not listening to them more?"

Zinke turns around, juts his finger at Begay and says, "Be nice."

"I'm so nice," Begay responds.

"Be nice," Zinke repeats. "Don't be rude. Thank you."

"I was scared, and my heart was racing," Begay said in a press statement following the encounter. "It felt condescending and unnecessarily aggressive. I have no idea why asking a simple question to somebody who is on a listening tour would react so aggressively."

As EcoWatch reported, the 1.35-million acre Bears Ears National Monument is one of the first targets under President Trump's recent executive orders to review 27 national monuments established by prior presidents.

Zinke is on a four-day tour of Utah to inspect two monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. The Bears Ears monument, created by President Obama last year, has sparked a fierce debate between Republican lawmakers and conservationists.

GOP lawmakers have accused President Obama, who designated more monuments than any other president, of abusing the Antiquities Act to protect land from fossil fuel development. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Utah's congressional delegation led by Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz and Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee have launched a campaign to abolish national monuments.

Notably, the interior secretary is touring Bears Ears with monument opponents, Gov. Herbert, Rep. Bishop and San Juan County commissioners.

But conservationists and tribal supporters of the Bears Ears monument worry that stripping away the designation could leave the environment and sacred lands vulnerable.

"Bears Ears is much more than the preservation of sacred sites and of the environment. It is also the story of our resilience and survival. It is a site of resistance and of restitution," James Singer, a Navajo and Democrat candidate running to unseat Sen. Hatch, said. "I urge Secretary Zinke to stand with us to protect the sacred so that our future generations will continue to walk in harmony."

The secretary has met twice with members of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, which represents the Hopi, Navajo, Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni. The group considers many sites within Bears Ears sacred and has complained that Zinke's time with them was insufficient, according to E&E News. Other monument supporters have also criticized Zinke's lack of a public forum and for allegedly refusing to meet with them.

"Tribes are trying to have a voice but every week Utah congressional delegates are claiming that there are no tribes in San Juan county and that no locals support the monument, however there are three tribes in San Juan county and 40-60 percent of its residents support the monument," Begay stated. "We need Secretary Zinke to meet with tribal leaders, who can identify burial sites, ceremonial sites, historic areas, medicinal herbs, and antiquities throughout the monument."

Zinke told reporters Tuesday that he has not made up his mind about whether Bears Ears should remain a monument or if its borders should be shrunk or expanded. He has until June 10 to report back to Trump.


US Glacier National Park down to its last 26 glaciers after losing 124 in a century

'While the shrinkage in Montana is more severe than some other places in the US, it is in line with trends that have been happening on a global scale'

Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent

The Glacier National Park in Montana is eventually going to need a new name.

A study of its 37 ‘named’ glaciers and two others on US Forest Service land in the state found that they have reduced in size by an average of nearly 40 per cent since 1966, with some losing up to 85 per cent of their ice.

Only 26 should actually be classified as glaciers as the other 13 are no longer larger than 25 acres, the benchmark used to decide if an area of ice is big enough to count.

Early last century, there were an estimated 150 glaciers larger than 25 acres in the national park, which gets 2.9 million visitors a year.

Professor Andrew Fountain, who worked with the US Geological Survey (USGS) to map the glaciers, said ice in mountain ranges had been melting for decades across the world.

“While the shrinkage in Montana is more severe than some other places in the US, it is in line with trends that have been happening on a global scale,” he said.

The researchers studied aerial photographs and satellite images of the glaciers in the late summers of 1966, 1998, 2005 and 2015/2016, when the seasonal snow melted to reveal the glacial ice beneath.

They also visited areas to investigate places that were covered by rock debris.

Retreating glaciers can have dramatic effects.

Recently scientists reported an entire river had vanished after meltwater was diverted from one river basin to another in Canada.

In Montana, there are fears it could affect tourism as well as the mountain ecosystem.

USGS scientist Dr Daniel Fagre said: “The park-wide loss of ice can have ecological effects on aquatic species by changing stream water volume, water temperature and run-off timing in the higher elevations of the park.”

Lisa McKeon, a USGS scientist who has been monitoring the changes to the glaciers since 1997, said their retreat helped illustrate just how warmer it was getting — and why.

“Tracking these small alpine glaciers has been instrumental in describing climate change effects on Glacier National Park to park management and the public.”


Huge Win in Senate: Oil and Gas Industry's Attempt to Gut Methane Rules Fails


In a win Wednesday for oil and gas-patch communities and taxpayers, a procedural vote failed in the Senate, preventing a Congressional Review Act resolution from nullifying the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) Methane Waste Rule. The vote to proceed to debate on the resolution failed, 49–51. This rule is a common sense standard to limit wasteful methane pollution from oil and gas operations on public lands.

The Congressional Review Act is a controversial and anti-democratic tactic that anti-environmental extremists in Congress attempted to use to push this pro-polluter agenda item forward.

"Just when we thought all hope was lost, common sense prevailed today in the United States Congress," Jessica Ennis, Earthjustice senior legislative representative, said.

"By preserving this win-win rule that protects public health and saves taxpayers money at the same time, Congress is managing to slowly rebuild its credibility as an institution that can serve as a check against powerful corporate interests."

Each year, oil and gas companies leak or deliberately vent millions of tons of methane, a potent climate pollutant, into the atmosphere during oil and gas operations. Methane pollution from these operations not only speeds-up global warming, but is often accompanied by toxic air pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde and ethylbenzene, threatening the health of residents who live nearby.

To address this problem, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently finalized a waste prevention rule, which reduces methane pollution and enjoys wide public support; in a poll out earlier this year, 81 percent of Western voters surveyed said they supported leaving the BLM methane rule in place.

Fifty-one senators voted in accordance with their constituents wishes. Among those Westerners who support the methane pollution safeguard is Bob Arrington, a native born Coloradoan whose first job out of the University of Colorado was designing air pollution control equipment for industrial, chemical and power plants. Now living in Battlement Mesa, he puts his years of expertise to use—working to protect himself and his community from methane and other air pollution from nearby oil and gas operations.

"We are surrounded in all directions by Bureau of Land Management land and the oil and gas activities on those lands have direct consequences on our air quality," said Arrington.

"They're saying they can't, but it absolutely can be done better and with cost recoveries."

The BLM rule requires oil and gas companies to reduce venting, flaring and leaks from industry operations on public lands. Without the rule in place, taxpayers could lose out on $800 million in royalties over the next decade because of venting and flaring natural gas alone, according to a Western Values Project Report.

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