Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Is this a joke?

From last year.

No this is not the Onion!

Obama: I’ve Restored the US as the ‘Most Respected Country in the World’

1 June,2016

Monday while President Barack Obama was answering questions at a town hall with YSEALI Fellows, an exchange program for community leaders from ASEAN, The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he said his administration has restored the Untied States as the “the most respected country on earth.”

Obama said, “People don’t remember, but when I came into office, the Untied States in world opinion ranked below China and just barley above Russia, and today once again, the Untied States is the most respected country on earth. Part of that I think is because of the work we did to reengage the world and say we want to work with you as partners with mutual interests and mutual respect. It was on that basis we were able to end two wars while still focusing on the very real threat of terrorism and try to work with our partners in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s the reason why we are moving in the direction to normalize relations with Cuba and the nuclear deal that we are trying to negotiate with Iran.”

To watch video GO HERE

Jeremy Corbyn more popular than ever in Party

Not what you’ll hear from the Guardian or anywhere else in British media

Jeremy Corbyn would win a second Labour leadership contest with even more support, poll finds

The leader's critics have made no impact on his popularity


28 June, 2016

Labour members would overwhelmingly reject any attempt by the party’s MPs to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader, a new poll suggests.

The YouGov survey for The Times newspaper found that a significant 64 per cent of members would vote for Mr Corbyn in a leadership ballot triggered by an attempted coup.

Just a third, 33 per cent, say they would not vote for him.
The findings mean it would be effectively impossible to topple the Labour leader under current circumstances were he to make it on the ballot paper.
The findings represent an increase in support for Mr Corbyn among full party members compared to when he was elected in September 2015 on 49.5 per cent of first preference votes.
The increase may be down to a significant increase in membership since he was elected leader.
At that time he was elected by Labour’s wider measure of membership including affiliates and supporters with 59.5 per cent of first preference votes.
Support for Mr Corbyn among the party has grown and solidified since he came to office. A survey in February found that he was approved of by 72 per cent of Labour members with just 17 per cent disapproving.

SPUTNIK: Orbiting the world with George Galloway - Referendum Special

What a difference a day makes… in just 24 hours Britain voted to leave the EU, the prime minister announced his resignation, the Scottish government declared it wanted out of Britain and Ireland's largest party said now was time for Northern Ireland to exit the UK. It's panic stations amongst the ruling elites.

In this special edition of Sputnik we look at how the battle lines are now drawn, from two very different political perspectives: from Selina Scott, doyen of British broadcasting, has been wooed by Tory grandees with offers of safe seats, and Alex Graham, former president of the RMT Union. At the other end of the political spectrum, Graham believes trade unions have lost confidence in their ability to defend members’ rights and an exit from the EU could bring back control. Either way, both our guests agree the Brexit vote was in part a rejection by the working class of the prevailing neoliberal orthodoxy and they came to the studio to explain why.

The Saker on Brexit

The Saker has just commented on Brexit

"After the uprising of the 17th of June

The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?"

- The Solution, Bertolt Brecht

Brexit: how the British people have forfeited the confidence of their government (a quick commentary)

The Saker

Saker drawing from community

28 June, 2016

To say that the Brexit was a historical event is an understatement, not because of the political or economic consequences of this vote, but because first and foremost it is a loud, painful and most humiliated smack in the collective face of the ruling “elites”which run the AngloZionist Empire.  All of them, not just Cameron, Merkel and Obama, but also and most importantly, their puppeteers.  This is also a slap in the face of the AngloZionist comprador class which administers the EU colony on behalf of the USA.   That is not to say that those who voted to leave the EU did that with the intention to make a political statement against the “elites”s, though some undoubtedly did, but because this is how the 1% class of plutocrats which run the Empire will perceive it.  For them, this is something like a peasant insurrection, a Jacquerie if you want, and the normal reaction of feudal overlords threatened by their serfs it to put it down, not to negotiate with the serfs or, even less so, “reform” any of their way.

Over and over again, we have seen that each time the referendums in Europe did not go the Empire’s way, or when the Empire was defeated in its policies (as in Syria, for ex.), the reaction was not to change course or engage in a lessons learned exercise, but to double-down and engage in what the French call “une fuite en avant” (to flee forward).

And that is what they will do next.

Because this is much bigger than Britain or the EU.  It’s first and foremost about racism.  Not the alleged racism of the “leave” voters, of course, but the very real racism of the AngloZionist “elites” who can mentally cope with the “slothful southerners” in Greece being unhappy about the EU and who can, when needed, remind the Turks their place in the pecking order of the Empire (servant quarters), but who cannot, and will not, accept that members of their own kind, the people of Britain, would dare to reject them in such a public and humiliating fashion.

Europe is run by what the French philosopher Alain Soral so aptly called “an aristocracy without nobility”, a gang of feudal lords whose only loyalty is to their masters across the Atlantic.  These masters, by the way, have their own enforcement force, NATO, which will make darn sure that the Europeans don’t get any ideas about freedom, sovereignty or people power.

I don’t mean the above figuratively at all: this is the reality of Europe today, and the British people are putting it a risk and that is something nobody in the ruling class can, or will, accept.

There are already talks about a 2nd referendum with a few cosmetic changes, that was already done in Ireland, while others are suggesting that the British Parliament could simply ignore the vote, something which Holland is trying right now.  And should there be protests or demonstrations, a state of emergency to “protect democracy against the racist mobs” (or something similar) can be decreed, as was the case in Russia in 1993.  What is certain is that now that the the British people have “forfeited the confidence of the government” (that is how the ruling class will understand what happened), the British people will have to be taught once and for all not to rise up against their masters.

Finally, now that the real systemic, political and even moral crisis of the EU has become apparent to all, an obvious “solution” will be to to ratchet up international tensions with Russia, Syria and Libya.  After all, the Guardian was already stupid enough to accuse the Kremlin of using football hooligans as a part of a Russian “hybrid war” against Europe:
That kind of nonsense will not only continue, but will be sharply expanded.  Oh, and as we know, Putin is the one who orchestrated the Brexit or, at the very least, benefited most from it, right?

The Brexit situation is exactly the same as 9/11: the ruling classes are all dependent on maintaining the myth because they all put their full political weight behind that myth.

To admit that 9/11 was a controlled demolition or to admit that the EU project is a failure rejected by the people of Europe in many referendums would be a political suicide for thousands of politicians, experts, journalists, commentators, etc.  

There is simply no way that is going to happen.

Brexit is similar to 9/11 in another manner too: the popular reaction to the 9/11 fairly tale was the first shot in a quasi overt war of the American people against their US ruling “elites” which eventually resulted in the adoption by the public of the concept of “1%” which is the result of a realization that the USA is not a democracy any more.  In the same way, the Brexit is clearly a vote of no-confidence of the British people against their rulers and a sign that the legitimacy of the entire political system is now openly questioned.  You think I am exaggerating?

Think again: to vote for the Brexit you needed to reject not only the alarmist voices of the political class, but also all the ugly innuendos of the corporate media, the threats for the likes of Soros, the dire warnings of doom and gloom coming out of NATO, etc.  So if you still voted “leave” after that, you were rejecting the authority and credibility of the entire political structure and once the credibility is in question, so is the legitimacy.

By the way, something similar is now happening in the USA were people express a very strong support for Trump even though the ruling “elites” have engaged in a huge hate campaign against him.

The “elites” in the US and UK know that their position and legitimacy is being questioned and they have to take action to stop this process of political disintegration.   In the words of Brecht, will they now try to”dissolve the people and elect another”?

Things are going to get ugly now.

The Saker

US Loses Eurasian Plot

Brexit: Russia's Comfort Level Rises, US Loses Eurasian Plot

27 June, 2016

If there is a tide in the affairs of men, as Brutus said in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesarit must be the same in the affairs of nations, too.
Less than a week ago, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was creeping toward the borders of Russia and relentlessly provoking it, but the tide abruptly turned on Friday. Eurasian politics will never be the same again after Brexit.
Only last Wednesday, while addressing the Russian Duma in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin took Russia’s political elites into confidence that the nation was facing once again a menace on its borders similar to the Nazi invasion exactly 75 years ago.

However, two days later in Tashkent, Putin spoke calmly and in a detached tone, when asked for his reaction to Brexit. But he hintedhe is insightful enough to recognize the opportunity brought up by fate. Putin said:
  • Brexit will have “consequences” for both Britain and Europe as a whole and will inevitably have “global effects… both positive and negative”;
  • Time will tell whether there will be more pluses or minuses”;
  • Brexit will impact market and currencies, but a “global upheaval” is unlikely;
  • Apropos sanctions against Russia, if EU countries are ready for “constructive dialogue,” Moscow will be “not only ready – we seek it and we will respond positively to positive initiatives”;
  • Having said that, Russia has limits since the onus on the implementation of the Minsk accord on Ukraine lies with Kiev and “without them, we can do nothing.”
Putin had most recently visited Greece, an EU country closest to Russia. Significantly, in the words of the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Brexit “confirms a deep political crisis, an identity crisis and a crisis in the European strategy.”

This would also be echoing the broad swathe of Russian opinion.
The Russian commentators on the whole feel elated that the Brexit vote will inexorably lead to a weakening of the EU sanctions. Indeed, they expect a significant improvement in Russia’s relations with Britain.

London is a favorite playpen of Russian oligarchs and Moscow elites. Boris Johnson, the UK’s most likely post-Brexit prime minister, has been a vocal supporter of warm relations with Russia, and the Moscow elites regard him to be an unusual politician who has no cold war mentality and even more interestingly, has no foreign policy mentality, either.
Clearly, the surmise among the Russian analysts is that Washington will be hard-pressed to impose its trans-Atlantic leadership in the same manner it used to, and the EU itself will be probably unable to reach a consensus on extending the sanctions against Russia beyond the end of the year. These are Russia’s best best.

However, Putin’s cautious words suggest that Moscow will keep its fingers crossed as to how Washington could afford to permit Brexit to be taken to its logical conclusion and simply allow the British people to leave the EU. Quite obviously, Putin neatly sidestepped any talk of European disintegration.

On the other hand, Moscow cannot be unaware that Euroskepticism is a pervasive phenomenon in Europe. If Brexit has a ‘domino effect’ and sets in motion referenda in other European countries as well, the unthinkable may happen. Even otherwise, the Euroskeptic groups in Europe have already strengthened their standing. Either way, while George Soros wrote in the weekend that the disintegration of the EU has become “practically irreversible,” he may have a point.

Clearly, there are question marks over Britain’s own survival. Russia stands to benefit here, too, because Britain has been traditionally not only the charioteer of US interests in Europe but also been an ‘arbiter’ of sorts within the EU, a role where it is irreplaceable.

In the face of mounting pressure from the West, Moscow lately began focusing on expanding its influence and consolidating its leadership in Eurasia. At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum a week ago, Putin unveiled a Greater Eurasia project. All indications are that this also was a key agenda item for discussions with the Chinese leadership during his visit to Beijing in the weekend.

Putin visualizes a grand partnership within the ambit of the Greater Eurasia plan, involving Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), China and, possibly, India and Iran – effectively expanding the ‘post-Soviet space’ toward East, West and South Asian directions.
Putin’s Greater Eurasia vision has three templates – security, common market and internal governance. The Russian intention seems to be to bring the cascading Chinese influence in the Eurasian space to be brought under negotiation within a multilateral format, especially China’s One Belt One Road initiative.

But China is unlikely to agree. China has had a field day as tensions began rising between Russia and the West under the shadow of the NATO build-up. But with Brexit, the power dynamic in Eurasia may be about to change dramatically in Russia’s favor.
Arguably, Brexit eases the pressure on Russia from the West and provides it with the respite to pay greater attention to the reality that in the recent years, China has been steadily expanding its influence in Eurasia – not only in Central Asia but also in the Balkans and Central Europe.

What matters most for Moscow will be whether Brexit will arrest the recent trend, encouraged in no small measure by Washington,toward militarization of Europe. The upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw (July 8-9) will now be taking place under the shadow of Brexit.

It may be a harbinger of things to come that Bulgaria and Romania last week voiced opposition to the idea of a NATO fleet in the Black Sea. The Bulgarian prime minister Boiko Borisov said on Thursday with a touch of sarcasm that the Black Sea should be a place where yachts and large boats filled with tourists sail rather than being a military arena.

Practical cooperation within the alliance may continue in the near term. But it remains to be seen how far Washington will succeed in keeping the European mind trained on the highly contrived thesis of Russia being a revisionist state that has put military mobilization at the center of its strategic thinking.
Brexit poses questions for NATO although the British people have not voted to leave the alliance. In an insightful commentary, the well-known ‘Russia hand’ at the National Interest magazine Nikolas Gvosdev noted that Brexit “validates two developing trend lines in Europe”. Gvosdev explained:
The first is the hesitation within Western European countries to want to be drawn into conflicts and problems happening on the eastern periphery of the continent or within the post-Soviet space.
The second will be to reawaken the lingering regional split within the alliance, with some members arguing that if NATO had paid much more attention to dealing with the cross-Mediterranean threats to European security, rather than on being drawn into playing geopolitical games in Eurasia, the migration crisis might have been avoided or blunted; and thus one of the key drivers of Brexit might have been neutralized.

The bottom line is that the EU and NATO are complementary. And Brexit upholds that national interests prevail over European collective interests. Without doubt, Brexit is also, partly at least, a reflection of the overall weariness in Europe with the continued NATO expansion eastward.

Stephen Cohen on developments after Brexit vote in Britain

I regard Stephen Cohen as essential listening if you want to be up-to-date with the Empire's push for war with Russia

Blaming Putin after BREXIT. Stephen F. Cohen
"Brexit is a win for Putin," announced Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

To listen to podcast GO HERE

Writing in The Washington Post, McFaul said: "Putin, of course, did not cause the Brexit vote, but he and his foreign policy objectives stand to gain enormously from it."

But at least publically, that's not how Putin sees it.
Shortly after the vote, the Russian president told reporters that Brexit brought both "positives and negatives."

European reaction to Brexit vote 03:41

Putin, along with his prime minister, both warned of the unsettling effects of the vote on the financial markets. Despite EU sanction on Russia over Ukraine, the EU remains Russia's biggest trading partner.

"If the EU falls apart at the seams, this will affect our trade relations," warned Konstantin Kosachev, head of the Russian Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee.

It would, however, be naive to think Russia's hardline president, locked in a bitter rivalry with the West, isn't allowing himself a wry smile as a key European institution fragments.

There may be economic benefits for a start.

One new report suggests that trade between Britain and Russia could actually be boosted by the Brexit vote, especially with the British pound in free all.

"Sterling's weakness against the euro creates opportunities for UK exporters to take market share from EU competitors," said Chris Weafer, senior partner at Macro Advisory, which provides investment analysis.

And then there are sanctions.

Russia is currently suffering under tough measures imposed on it by the EU over Ukraine. Britain, along with the nations of Eastern Europe, has been among the strongest voices to keep the sanctions in place.

But even Moscow's Mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, can see how Brexit may have a positive impact for Russia.

"Without Great Britain in the EU, there is no longer anyone so stridently standing up for sanctions against us," he tweeted after the result.

Even if sanctions are not eased, the Kremlin may turn Europe's troubles to its advantage.

The scenes of chaos likely to emerge from Britain and the EU in the coming weeks and months will provide a stark contrast to the image of stability at home -- Russia strong under Putin, that the Kremlin strives to portray.

Report: Towards first Arctic blue sea event

Annual Average Extent 18—25 June

26 June, 2016
All in all this little chart illustrates how we are well on our way to the lowest year ever for Arctic sea ice extent:

For the fresh follower of Arctic sea ice, this plot may seem strange and even counter–intuitive. We're approaching high summer, and yet the 2013 graph is going up and up! What's up with that? Well, on June 25 2013 we had 10.2m km2 sea ice, while on June 25 2012 there was 9.5. This makes the 2013 annual average extent rise on June 25th, as that last day out of 365 that make up the annual average, has more ice than the year before. On September 1 the gap has widened, so the rise is even steeper: 2013 had 5m and 2012 3.5.

2016 is about .6m km2 lower than last year, so its AAE graph is falling fast. The graph is already as low as 2012 for late October, but a full 4 months earlier in the year. The significance is 2016 could continue its fall for 4 more months and be way lower than 2012 in late October, as long as the current ice extent stays well below that of 2015.

Annual Average Extent (AAE): From the last update at about 10.02 million km² on 17th June, we've lost about 9700 km² from the AAE in just 8 days, which was 7 days earlier than the expected timespan of July 2—6.

In detail, daily extent went from 9,870,723 km² on 17th June to 9,250,571 km² on 25th June, compared to 10,110,833 and 9,817,719 the year before, giving a relative loss of 327,038 km². The average decline in AAE over these 8 days has been 1209 km²/day, which means we've been on average 441,000 km² lower than last year in daily extent.

The next 10,000 km² line is 10 and expected on July 1—3.

JAXA Annual Average Extent for 2015 as a whole was 4th lowest at 10.11 million km², and by mid July we may be lowest ever at about 9.98 million km². For the first time in 4 years we may end up lowest ever on December 31st.

2013 is currently the only lower year, and we're on a clear path into uncharted territory. It's now virtually certain that 2016 will be lowest during July. Some very interesting times ahead, with the best chances yet for a Blue Ocean event in the early autumn.

The next major milestone of the Arctic sea ice collapse is 10 million km² AAE, and expected on July 1—7.

Why watch the Arctic sea ice?

While the area around the North Pole is a cold and relatively barren place, compared to eg. the Amazon rainforest (although the ocean underneath the ice is teaming with life), the fate of the Arctic sea ice to a large degree seals the fate of the Amazon rainforest — whether it will eventually go up in flames or not — and not the other way around. Put short it decides the fate of our global climate, no less.

In contrast to the land–based area around the South Pole, the opposite pole consists of sea ice floating on top of the Arctic Ocean, which makes it an excellent indicator for our rapidly changing global climate.
Why watch the Arctic sea ice in 2016?
Well, for a number of reasons.
* After the first 177 days of the year, 2016 is already lowest ever in average extent.
* 2016 even had the lowest ever extent for June 25th.
* For the first time in 4 years the full annual average extent (on Dec 31) may be lowest ever.
* September minimum extent may go lowest ever in 2016.
* There's even an off–chance that humanity's first ever Blue Ocean event will happen in September.

Why isn't the Arctic sea ice frontpage news everywhere?
Well, they've all got their reasonings and motivations for focusing elsewhere, haven't they. And besides; constantly reporting on the retreating Arctic sea ice goes against a number of news criteria, such as:

* it happens far away from us
* it is a relatively slow and un–eventful process
* it's not really a very positive or optimistic message for our readers and advertisers
* it's complicated and too scientific

"It's Complicated"
This chart may give you a hint as to why it is 'complicated':

2016 has now had the lowest ever extent for 88 days straight, since late March. Chart also shows how rare these prolonged periods are, with most of the record–lows lasting only a week or two. 2012 has an 83–day lowest lead in July–October, but can it survive THIS melting season?
During a year the extent of the ice goes up and down because of the seasons. For parts of the year, 2012 may have the lowest ice extent, but for other weeks even 2006 may be lowest. For most of the days of the year, anyone may interject that "extent was lower in year 20–X", and be correct.

To simplify the picture for reporters and their editors, these annual fluctuations may be straightened out into an annual average extent. Currently, this average stands at 10 million square kilometers of sea ice extent.

Going lowest in 2016?
On this chart for the annual average extent, you can see 2016 moving rapidly towards that 'lowest ever' position:

It may happen this very summer, first going lowest, lower than 2013, and then perhaps even going ice–free, in humanity's first ever Blue Ocean event?
Sea ice leaving the Arctic Ocean entirely in late summer could be the Brexit of the Arctic, throwing markets into a dangerous turmoil, as such a Blue Ocean event could mean our so–called Carbon Budget is gone forever. There's no way we can stop global warming at 2C with an ice–free Arctic. Such an attempt to stay below 2C would close down all industry, shipping and aviation globally and crash every financial market. For the sea ice itself, it would surely mean longer and longer periods every summer would be ice–free for the years to come, trapping ever more insolation and heat in the Arctic Ocean. A strong self–reinforcing feedback, rendering every last human attempt to control global warming more or less futile.

Thanks Harold Hensell
Arctic Ice  - 06 27 2016

This is on the NE tip of Greenland. 

The ice is flowing through what is called the Fram Strait into the Greenland Sea. This is a fairly cloudless view. 

It is hard to get perspective from a long distance satellite view. 

Notice the ice berg about to come around the bend on the upper left of this image . 

Think of a town about 50 miles away. This is about the size of this "chunk."

Paul Beckwith on Methane Emissions From Arctic Ocean Seafloor

Methane Emissions From Arctic Ocean Seafloor

Paul Beckwith

I discuss a recently published paper (May, 2016) titled "Effects of climate change on methane emissions from seafloor sediments: A review".

Rapidly declining sea ice and snow cover is darkening the Arctic, leading to large temperature amplification. I talk about some of the paper highlights, and how a warmer, wavier and more open Arctic is leading to many physical and geochemical processed that are causing increased methane concentrations in both the water column and the atmosphere.