Tuesday, 19 September 2017

US: N Korea to be 'destroyed' if behaviour continues


The real killer in this itvw is totally buried - and that's why it won't raise any eyebrows, as it should.

Here's the former Japanese Defense Minister:

"Asked whether he was predicting war, Mr Morimoto said: "I think Washington has not decided ... The final decision-maker is [US Defence Secretary] Mr Mattis ... Not the president."

That TOTALLY confirms the prevailing independent analysis all across Eurasia; Washington is now run by a military junta - with Kelly, Mad Dog and McMaster just the tip of the spear. Trump is a figurehead. The incredibly shrinking T. Rex is not even a footnote. The Hillbilly From Hell is a mere - useful - neocon puppet. 

Brace for impact not only as far as the DPRK is concerned, but Iran, Venezuela, Syria, Ukraine. Bumpy does not even begin to describe the ride ahead.

---Pepe Escobar

Japanese defence figures: US prepared to use military action against North Korea
The United States of America has "a strong determination" to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis using military action if necessary, one of Japan's most senior defence figures has said.

8 September, 2017

In saying so, former defence minister Satoshi Morimoto has brushed aside widespread expert views that the rogue regime will drift into becoming a full nuclear power because there is no plausible way to stop them. The remarks also reflect a powerful strain of thought in Japan that the situation cannot be allowed to limp along until Kim Jong-un gets what he wants.

The former defence minister told Fairfax Media the next few weeks will be a crucial period of high tension and brinkmanship on the peninsula.

"North Korea strongly insists the US has to accept the North as a nuclear power. The US cannot do anything like that. So Washington has no intention, absolutely no intention, to open the dialogue with North Korea this time," said Mr Morimoto, who now serves as a special adviser to current Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera and is influential and well-connected within the government of Shinzo Abe.

He believed the US had a "very strong determination ... to destroy the Kim [regime]" – though he later clarified this by saying the US had a "strong determination to find out the solution to the present [crisis]".

"They have no intention to extend the final decision into the future," he said. "Something may happen. We have very high tension for the next one-and-a-half months."

Mr Morimoto, who is also president of Takushoku University, predicted North Korea needed less than a year to have functional intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads that could be fitted on them.

His views reflect deep concern in Japan about the profound ramifications of a fully nuclear-armed North Korea, reflected in a series of high-level briefings provided to Fairfax Media in Japan this week. The latest crisis has exacerbated debate about Japan's strengthening its defence posture, including even going nuclear, and intensified concerns – already present across Asia since Donald Trump's election – about US commitment to the region.

Mr Morimoto said the Kim regime would "never ... abandon their nuclear and missile programs" and therefore "America has two options: possible military action and very strong pressure through the United Nations Security Council to stop all money flow."

But he added that most policy-makers in Japan were "very negative and very pessimistic" that China would agree to cut off energy supplies to North Korea – seen as a final ace the Security Council could pull if it wants to truly strangle North Korea.

"Members of the Chinese Communist Party are very reluctant to accept America's requirement for stopping that crude oil supply."

Asked whether he was predicting war, Mr Morimoto said: "I think Washington has not decided ... The final decision-maker is [US Defence Secretary] Mr Mattis ... Not the president."

He said with North Korea showing no inclination to stop its provocations – and with the region on high alert this weekend for another possible missile launch – the regime was "joining some kind of chicken game with the United States and the United States has no intention to open dialogue".

"What is the result of the collision course?" he asked.

Mr Trump has been in close contact with Mr Abe in the recent period of crisis. He spoke to Mr Abe twice around the time of the latest tests and well before even South Korea's leader Moon Jae-in.

A senior Japanese defence official told Fairfax Media that Kim Jong-un's objective was precisely to "break the ties between the United States and Japan and South Korea".

"If the US recognises North Korea as a nuclear power, then Japan and South Korea can no longer rely on the US for a nuclear deterrent. These two countries need to face the nuclear threat by the North Koreans on their own," the official said, stressing he was giving a personal opinion but one that was widely shared by other people.

Ken Jimbo, a respected defence scholar with Keio University, said that if North Korea could develop a stockpile of long-range missiles, the US would face the "classic question" of whether it was prepared to sacrifice Tokyo or Seoul for Los Angeles or San Francisco – a debate that would play out in US media and Congress.

"Even now we have logical doubts about how much the United States will commit to our defence," Professor Jimbo said. "With North Korea having ICBMs, these kinds of [alliance] decoupling concerns may inevitably arise in Tokyo and Seoul. And that will actually trigger the debate whether we should actually obtain our own nuclear capability ... or at least stronger defence capability and conventional strike."

UN Ambassador Haley warns Pyongyang 'a whole lot of military options' are being considered to defend US and allies.

18 September, 2017

The US ambassador to the UN warned North Korea would be destroyed if it continues its "reckless behaviour" and forces the United States and its allies to defend themselves against any attack.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said on Sunday the UN Security Council has run out of options on containing North Korea's nuclear programme - and the US may now turn to the Pentagon.

"We have pretty much exhausted all the things that we can do at the Security Council at this point," Haley told CNN's State of the Union.

Haley added she was perfectly happy to hand the matter to Defence Secretary James Mattis.

"We're trying every other possibility that we have, but there's a whole lot of military options on the table," she said.

US National Security Adviser HR McMaster said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is "going to have to give up his nuclear weapons because the president has said he's not going to tolerate this regime threatening the United States and our citizens with a nuclear weapon".

Asked if that meant Trump would launch a military attack against North Korea, McMaster said, "he's been very clear about that, that all options are on the table".

Kim has threatened Guam, a US territory in the Pacific, and has fired two missiles over Japan, a US ally in Asia, including one missile launched on Friday. North Korea also recently tested its most powerful nuclear bomb yet.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was waiting for the North to express interest in "constructive, productive talks".

"All they need to do to let us know they're ready to talk is to just stop these tests, stop these provocative actions, and let's lower the threat level and the rhetoric," he said.

Mattis said earlier this month, after Kim tested a hydrogen bomb, the US will answer any threat from the North with a "massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming".

Trump has threatened to rain "fire and fury" on North Korea. Haley said that wasn't an empty threat from the president but, when asked, she declined to describe the president's intentions.

"If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behaviour, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed, and we all know that, and none of us want that," Haley said.

"None of us want war. But we also have to look at the fact that you are dealing with someone who is being reckless, irresponsible, and is continuing to give threats not only to the United States but to all their allies, so something is going to have to be done."

Temperature records in August

Temperature records fall

'Weird winter': Climate change behind Australia's record hot and dry weather

Australia had its hottest winter on record with temperatures up by two degrees celsius on average and it is related to worsening climate change, according to a leading scientific group.

Winter warm spells are lasting longer, occurring more often and becoming more intense, a report by not-for-profit group the Climate Council found.

In addition to the warmth, the nation experienced its second driest June on record and the driest winter since 2002, the Hot & Dry: Australia's Weird Winter report found.

Ecologist Professor Lesley Hughes said there were more than 260 heat and low rainfall records set throughout the season.

"Without any meaningful action to tackle climate change, we will continue to see many more hot winters, just like this, as global temperatures rise," Ms Hughes said.

"We must take meaningful action to strongly reduce Australia's emissions from fossil fuels.

"The current situation in which the government continues to not only delay real action to reduce emissions, but is actively supporting further development of coal-fired power is simply nonsensical."

The unseasonable weather has led to an earlier start to the bushfire season in many parts of Australia, especially Victoria and other southern states, she said.

Professor Hughes urged the federal government to get on with tackling climate change.

"The solution remains the same - clean, efficient and affordable renewable energy and storage technology."

Australia's average winter temperatures have increased by about one degree celsius since 1910, driven by climate change as a direct result of burning fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas, the council said.

The council was formed by Australia's biggest crowd-funding campaign after the Tony Abbott government abolished the Climate Commission in 2013.

Earth sweltered to 3rd hottest August, summer on record

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday the globe last month averaged 61.5 degrees (16.43 Celsius), which was a degree-and-a-half higher than the 20th century average, but behind 2016 and 2015.

The average temperature for June through August was 61.47 degrees (16.41 Celsius).

So far the year to date has edged out 2015 and is the second hottest January through August, averaging 58.88 degrees (14.88 Celsius), behind 2016.
Records go back to 1880.

NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch says even though records weren't broken, it's been warmer than 99 percent of the other months and a sign of long-term climate change.

Hurricane Maria: Dominica loses 'all what money can buy'

Weep for Dominica

What has been lost -

"It is the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles, still being formed by geothermal-volcanic activity, as evidenced by the world's second-largest hot spring, Boiling Lake. The island has lush mountainous rainforests, and is the home of many rare plants, animals, and bird species. There are xeric areas in some of the western coastal regions, but heavy rainfall occurs inland. The Sisserou parrot, also known as the imperial amazon and found only on Dominica, is the island's national bird and featured on the national flag. Dominica's economy depends on tourism and agriculture"

Hurricane Maria: Dominica loses 'all what money can buy' as Category 5 storm batters Caribbean island
'Initial reports are of widespread devastation,' says Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

19 September, 2017

Dominica’s Prime Minister has said Hurricane Maria has stripped the island of “all what money can buy”.

The Category 5 storm slammed into the small Caribbean island overnight.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit captured the terrifying power of Hurricane Maria in a series of Facebook posts, writing that he was “at the complete mercy” of the storm.

After being rescued, he said: “We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds.”

He added: “Initial reports are of widespread devastation. So far we have lost all what money can buy and replace.

So, far the winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with.

The roof to my own official residence was among the first to go and this apparently triggered an avalanche of torn away roofs in the city and the countryside.

My greatest fear for the morning is that we will wake to news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains.”

Maria’s sustained wind speeds reached 160mph, with higher gusts, on Monday night.

Dominica is a former British colony home to 72,000 people that lies in the eastern Caribbean about halfway between the French islands of Guadeloupe, to the north, and Martinique, to the south

As the storm—the second major hurricane to pass through the region in the past few weeks—moved in, Mr Skerrit wrote: “We do not know what is happening outside. We not dare look out. All we are hearing is the sound of galvanize flying. The sound of the fury of the wind. As we pray for its end!”

Hurricane warnings have also been issued for Guadeloupe, St Kitts and Nevis, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico where a state of emergency has been declared amid fears of a direct hit, just weeks after Hurricane Irma struck.

Up to 15in (38cm) of rain is predicted to fall as Maria barrels across the Caribbean, with “isolated maximum amounts of 20in (51cm)” expected to deluge the British Virgin Islands.

In Anguilla up to 8in (20cm) could be recorded. The National Hurricane Centre has warned that “rainfall on these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides”

If Maria retains its strength, it would be the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years, since a Category 4 storm swept the US island territory in 1932, Hurricane Centre spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

The last major hurricane to strike Puerto Rico directly was Georges, which made landfall there as a Category 3 storm in 1998, he said. The territory was dealt a glancing blow by Irma earlier this month.

Maria weakened overnight to a Category 4 storm, it was reported, but forecasters said it remained extremely dangerous.

EVIL: Power authorities made it ILLEGAL to use solar during outages

It’s very hard to beat this for sheer evil.

Florida Power and Light lobbyists made it illegal to use solar during outages

26 November, 2014

Florida Power and Light's grid did not fare well under Hurricane Irma, despite the company's assurances that it had spent billions hardening its systems after 90% of its customers lost power to 2005's Hurricane Wilma.

But one thing has changed since 2005: solar. Many of the FPL customers who are living through dangerous heat without power now have solar panels on their roofs that could keep them going while FPL repairs its infrastructure. Except doing so is illegal, thanks to FPL's lobbyists, who literally ghost-wrote much of Florida's dreadful solar rules.

Under these rules, Floridians with solar panels required to shut them down when the power goes out "in order to prevent dangerous back feed on FPL's grid. This is required to protect FPL employees who may be working on the grid." But the same rules mandate that these homes "include a switch that cleanly disconnects their panels from FPL's system while keeping the rest of a home's power lines connected," but Floridians are prohibited from flipping this switch and turning their power on (FPL is allowed to disconnect and padlock the switch at its discretion).

FPL's lobbyists had to give a few concessions to get these incredibly favorable rules (and more, including special taxes that compensate the company when private individuals install more than 10kW of panels). However, they're working hard on killing these.
The law winds up forcing residents to remain reliant on the state's private power companies. For now, solar-panel owners can still get something out of the law, in that the "net-metering" provision lets you sell excess power back to the company. 
The provision also lets power companies charge a $400 or $1,000 application fee for consumers who want to install systems more powerful than 10 kilowatts.
But if power companies had their way, the net-metering law would vanish tomorrow. Both FPL and its trade association, the Edison Electric Institute, have spent millions trying to kill that net-metering law and instead win the right to charge you for installing your own solar-panel system. In 2016, FPL spent more than $8 million on Amendment 1, a ballot initiative that industry insiders admitted was written to trick customers into giving up their rights to solar power. The law's language would have paved the way for Florida to kill net-metering rules.
This past April, the Energy and Policy Institute caught an FPL lobbyist straight-up drafting anti-solar laws for Fort Myers state Rep. Ray Rodrigues, who also took a $15,000 campaign contribution from FPL this year.
Thanks to power-company influence, one of America's sunniest states lags far behind the rest of the nation when it comes to solar adoption.
FPL has also resisted some seemingly foolproof solutions to avoid storm outages, such as burying more lines. In a city that names its sports teams for hurricanes, a huge portion of FPL's power lines still sit above-ground and get blown apart even in tropical storm conditions.

(Image: Eric Gaba, CC-BY-SA)
(via Reddit)

Obama's disaster capitalism in Puerto Rica

Puerto Rico is set to be hit a SECOND time, By Hurricane Maria.

Just in case you think it's all Trump.

Thanks to Obama, Puerto Rico might never recover from Irma

15 September, 2017

In June 2016, Congress and President Obama passed a bill supposedly to address the economic crisis in Puerto Rico, by imposing external dictatorship on the island. Called the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (or PROMESA), it placed an unelected seven-member board in total control of all important policy.

The supposed justification was to give the island some way to get through bankruptcy. In reality it has set the island up for a decade of mass unemployment and crisis — without remotely fixing the debt problem. It's no accident the locals call the board "La Junta."

And now Puerto Rico has suffered serious damage from Hurricane Irma, adding yet another problem to the pile. Without serious federal help, this crisis will continue indefinitely.

Puerto Rico got into debt trouble through a combination of odd tax loopholes, irresponsible governance, and even more irresponsible lending. The details are complicated, but the most important thing to remember is that every bad loan has two parents, borrower and lender. If it was irresponsible to take money, it was even more irresponsible to give it to an entity that was clearly in over its head. Other Wall Street goons in the form of "vulture funds" have been downright predatory, buying up abandoned debt on the secondary market for a small fraction of its face value, then filing a blizzard of lawsuits to get the government to force Puerto Rico to pay up in full, by cannibalizing its public infrastructure.

The other thing that must be remembered is that the austerity always demanded by creditors during a debt crisis is straightforwardly self-defeating. As many countries have demonstrated since the 2008 financial crisis, austerity during a depression makes a debt problem worse, by strangling the economy and reducing tax revenue. It's like trying to undertake heavy manual labor while on a starvation diet — you just make yourself weak and sick.

What Puerto Rico needs right now is a big check from the federal government to get its economy re-pressurized, coupled to a debt restructuring and partial write-down to get it on a realistic repayment schedule. This would ideally be coupled to a thorough economic overhaul, and finally U.S. statehood. "Structural reform" has become a dirty word due to it usually being code for austerity and neoliberal assault on workers, but Puerto Rico's economy really does need work. Its labor force participation rate and productivity are low, its unemployment and poverty rate is high. Those problems will not be solved with budget cuts, but they are real problems.

What's more, Puerto Rico's infrastructure — long neglected due to the years of fiscal crisis — is in sorry shape, as was shown during Hurricane Irma. It took a fairly bad battering from the storm, which knocked down buildings and left hundreds of thousands without power ever before the highest winds arrived. The island's oil-fired power plants are outdated and fragile, and it has little solar power despite being a prime location (thoughone large plant was opened earlier this year). A big infrastructure update would be a splendid candidate for a federal stimulus plan to restore employment, stop the hemorrhaging of residents to the mainland, and increase productivity over the long term.

But as economist Martin Guzman explains, the PROMESA plan — its board, by the way, still has a fervent right-wing Social Security cutter — goes the opposite direction:
Unfortunately the [Fiscal Control] Board approved a fiscal plan for the next decade, 2017–2026, that is not aligned with what Puerto Rico needs to recover. Even the creators of the plan project another lost decade for the country, and they're being overly optimistic since their projections are based on assumptions that are not sound. They're underestimating the consequences that the plan will have for the Puerto Rican economy and society. As long as the board doesn't settle on a sound macroeconomic plan with a sound debt restructuring proposal, PROMESA will not be fulfilling the role for which it was created. [Institute for New Economic Thinking]
Despite the wreckage left by Irma and its sorry economic condition, many Puerto Ricans generously took in refugees from neighboring islands that suffered a direct hit. That, I suggest, is the attitude with which the American mainland should approach its Caribbean colony, still home to 3.4 million American citizens. They're in trouble and need help — and help could be easily provided.

Increase in Flat Earth Stupidity on Climate Change * WHY? * Stupidity Talk Sells, Truth doesn't

The sheer strength of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey's Floodwaters Were So Extreme That They Warped Earth's Crust

18 September, 2017

Hurricane Harvey is set to be one of the costliest natural disasters in American history. It was both unusually wet and extremely slow, and as a result, it dumped a whopping 125 trillion liters (33 trillion gallons) of rain on the US, mostly on Texas – more than four times that unleashed by 2005’s Katrina.

Last week, geoscientist Chris Milliner of NASA’S Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) sent out a tweet that contained a rather startling map. As various GPS markers across Houston have revealed, the city actually sank a little as Harvey dumped all of its precipitation on the unfortunate city.

Of course, a lot of the metropolis was underwater, but this isn’t quite what we mean here. There was actually so much rainfall that the Earth’s crust itself was depressed by around two centimeters (about 0.8 inches) for a few days. That may not sound like much until you remember that warping the surface of the planet isn’t actually easy.
A simple calculation by The Atlantic suggests around 125 gigatonnes (275 trillion pounds) of water fell from the sky back then. That’s a difficult number to envisage, so let’s just say that the water weighed the same as 155,342 Golden Gate Bridges. It’s about the same as 77 percent of the total estimated mass of Mount Everest.

Mount Everest, by the way, cannot get much taller. If it did, the crust beneath it would begin to sink in response. So it’s safe to say that a veritable mountain of water landing mostly on Houston had the same effect, except in this case, the land was forced downwards.
GPS data show was so large it flexed Earth's crust, pushing down by ~2 cm!

Someone asked Milliner if the GPS reading was simply due to the compaction of unconsolidated, sandy soil that was simply sinking under the weight of the water. Not so, says the scientist: The “subsidence is beyond noise level.” Although some soil compaction may be a factor here, if the ground rebounds and moves upwards again as the waters recede that will confirm the crustal warping theory.
Another person asked Milliner about climate change. As we’ve previously reported here, climate change doesn’t “cause” hurricanes, but it certainly makes them wetter and more powerful. Thus, it’s safe to say that Harvey’s record-breaking rainfall was worse than it should have been.

In response to the query, Milliner says: “Unfortunately, [climate change] is very real. You don’t have to believe politicians, just look at the data and science.”

Collateral damage: "Terrorist" Katia trashes a whole island while the world fiddles

"Hello People of the World. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you have been lied to for years about the grave risks that we face.

"Billions have been pissed away on Homeland Security & military equipment in the "Fight against Terror", while abrupt climate change is ignored; even worse accelerated with global government fossil fuel subsidies of $5 TRILLION dollars every year. Meanwhile, Terrorist Maria has just struck the island nation of Dominica, completely devastating it. Yet another nation (city, or region) lucking out in the climate casino. Collateral damage on our path to a world of hurt."

More Climate Change Collateral Damage: Hurricane Maria Takes Out Dominica

Paul Beckwith

Hello People of the World. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you have been lied to for years about the grave risks that we face.

Billions have been pissed away on Homeland Security & military equipment in the "Fight against Terror", while abrupt climate change is ignored; even worse accelerated with global government fossil fuel subsidies of $5 TRILLION dollars every year. Meanwhile, Terrorist Maria has just struck the island nation of Dominica, completely devastating it. Yet another nation (city, or region) lucking out in the climate casino. Collateral damage on our path to a world of hurt.

We must wake up the world. Please help me get my videos out far-and-wide to the public and decision-makers. Donations at 
http://paulbeckwith.net are greatly appreciated allowing me to continue my quest.

Six Storms Bracket North America: 3 hurricanes, a tropical storm, depression & a disturbance

Ex- UN Sec Gen, Ban Ki-Moon renforces US call for war

I have not seen this reported elsewhere but I believe this to be a true story.

Ban Ki-Moon, until recently Secretary-General of the UN, and very supportive of the Empire, is now acting as a voice for war.


18 September, 2017

With the United Nations imposing a series of sanctions against North Korea, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged the international community to brace itself for all possibilities, including military options.

We must be ready to confront any consequences and any eventualities, including military options, to address (North Korea’s threat),” Ban said in a security forum in Seoul. “Otherwise, North Korea would be emboldened.”

Noting that North Korea’s nuclear program poses the most serious threat here since the Korean War, Ban asserted that the international community has to take “all necessary measures when chips are down.”

His remark came amid growing frustrations over North Korea’s relentless pursuit of nuclear ambition and its constant defiance of UN sanctions. Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile Friday, just three days after the UN passed economic sanctions over the regime’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3

Since North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, the UN has passed a total of 10 resolutions targeting North Korea‘s economic activities related to nuclear ambition. The latest one, adopted after Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, cleared the UN in the shortest amount of time since 2006.

Such (a) record of caution by the UN Security Council clearly demonstrated (the) strong and firm will of the international community to deter North Korea from possessing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities,” Ban said.

Ban was one of the speakers addressing the 10th Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference held in Seoul. Among those who attended were South Korean Army’s chief of staff Gen. Kim Yong-woo and his US counterpart Gen. Mark A. Milley.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army has also sent its delegate – Lt. Gen. You Haitao. He is the first Chinese senior military officer to join South Korea’s security seminar since South Korea and the US agreed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system on the peninsula last year.

Describing North Korea’s nuclear threat as the most “urgent and grave” threat in the region, the participants stressed the need for a firm response to North Korea and vowed to enhance multilateral ties to resolve the security crisis.

We will work with the international community to come up with a strong response toward North Korea … North Korea should realize that dialogue and cooperation, not nukes and missiles, are the only means to protect its security and guarantee a bright future,” President Moon Jae-in said via a video message.

In a closed-door session, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of the US Forces Korea, and security scholars from Seoul and Washington discussed ways to enhance partnership among ground forces in the Pacific region.

Among the participants are Choi Young-jin, South Korea‘s former ambassador to the US; Shin Beom-chul, professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy; and Michael O’Hanlon, a senior research fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Scheduled to run through Thursday, the event brought together army chiefs of staff and senior commanders from 29 Indo-Asia-Pacific countries. The 2017 event is held under the theme of “Unity of Effort: Building Civil-Military Partnerships in Land Force Response to Non-Traditional Security Threats.