Monday, July 16, 2018

 Whether The Weather Deteriorates -- Possibly

"There's almost unanimous agreement that hurricanes will produce more rain in a warmer climate."
"There's agreement there will be increased coastal flood risk, at a minimum because of sea-level rise. Most people believe that hurricanes will get, on average, stronger. There's more debate about whether we can detect that already."
We used to think twenty years ago that in a warmer climate there would be more hurricanes."
"Then the computer models got better. Most of those started to show fewer hurricanes, not more. No one knew why Then some of the models started to show increases with warming. So I think we're back to where we don't know."
Adam Sobel, professor of applied physics, Columbia University

"If we had twice as many Category 5s -- at some point, several decades down the line -- if that seems to be the new norm, then yes, we'd want to have more partitioning at the upper part of the scale."
"At that point, a Category 6 would be a reasonable thing to do."
"The hurricane track has less guidance steering them, so are more prone to meanders and unusual turns."
"If the jet stream were a lot farther north, then you could imagine a situation where hurricane tracks could more easily hit the North American continent because they have more ability to continue in the direction of the continent from their tropical formation points."
Timothy Hall, senior scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

"We've tried to steer the focus toward the individual hazards, which include storm surge, wind, rainfall, tornadoes and rip currents, instead of the particular category of the storm, which only provides information about the hazard from wind."
"Category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale already captures 'catastrophic damages' from wind, so it's not clear that there would be a need for another category even if storms were to get stronger."
Dennis Feltgen, National Hurricane Center spokesperson

"Whether we're talking about a change in the number of storms or an increase in the most intense storms, the changes that are likely to come from global warming are not likely to be detectable until 50 years from now."
"There's so much natural variability in the system, the typical year-to-year variability in hurricane activity, that the signal really doesn't emerge from that background variability until the latter half of this century."
Brian Soden, professor of atmospheric sciences, University of Miami Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Maps: 2018 Hurricane Season Starting with Cooler Sea Surface Temps
Whew! All agreed? Climate change on the way? Um, hasn't climate change per se, always been a fact of weather variability on this planet? Little Ice Ages and that kind of thing? Sun spots affecting the degree of over-heated temperatures experienced in summer? Well, of course, too simplistic. The weather specialists know what's really happening. Don't they? Oh they don't really, after all, agree? Everyone busy out-experting the other, kind of thing. Well, it is a complicated matter, what nature in continual flux decides to impose on earthly existence. Not much given to consultation, either.

According to Dr. Hall, top wind speeds of up to 370 km/h by the end of this century could be commonplace during storms, should current trends continue in global warming. That windspeed comparable to the frenzy of a F-4 tornado capable of lofting cars and tossing them airbound. The question then is, whether five-category hurricane scale descriptives currently in use should be reflective of new wind speeds to include a Category 6, even 7?

Developed in the early 1970s the ranking of hurricanes from Category 1; winds of 119-152 kilometres an hour up to the most powerful, Category 5, covering winds of 250 kilometres an hour and over, have sufficed to the present, each covering a range of wind speeds. With wind speeds reaching 300 kilometres an hour latterly with more powerful storms with Irma reaching 289 kilometres and Hurricane Patricia off the Pacific coast of Mexico reaching a sustained wind speed of 346 km/hr, time to consider new categories?
Chart: Strongest Hurricanes Have Grown More Common Since 1980
Will naming and categorizing wind speeds actually accomplish anything in the science of forecasting? Apparently many of the experts simply shrug their shoulders in exasperation at the wasted effort in focusing on wind when so many other destructive issues should be factored into dangerous hurricane activity. As for predictions, there appears to be a good level of agreement that storms of the future will be activated in lower motion. The journal Nature published a new study finding tropical cyclones forward speed have been diminished by ten percent since 1949, so there's precedent aplenty.

What that means is not the expectation that winds diminish; rather hurricanes are in no hurry to move over a target area, they linger as did last year's Hurricane Harvey, settling over Texas, dropping over a metre of rain, to flood thousands of homes. A lot more rain is anticipated with slower future hurricanes as another study this year by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research observed 20 Atlantic hurricanes to determine how they might be altered, taking place at century's end, linking them to global warming with the assurance that warm air retains more water than cold.

Hurricanes, according to the study conclusion, would generate on average more rain to the tune of 24 percent, representing a massive increase assured of producing catastrophic flooding. A study judging the amount of rain Harvey might have been responsible for had it occurred in the 1950s found rainfall had increased by up to 38 percent, attributed to global warming. Other studies view Harvey as an omen of what to expect in future.

Hurricanes are expected to follow more meandering and less predictable paths in the future resulting from climate change altering the jet stream, that high-altitude air current that streams hurricanes north and east. With warming oceans providing fuel for hurricanes, a hotter world might produce more frequent storms -- not necessarily -- feel some scientists -- more powerful storms.

Modelling for future climate events appear to indicate an increase in wind shear; criss-crossing high-altitude winds that rip apart incipient tropical cyclones. Showing as well less atmospheric instability required for the generation of thunderstorms.

So where were we now....?

Hurricane Katia in 2011, viewed from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
A new analysis of global hurricane data since 1980 shows the number of storms with winds over 124 mph has doubled, and those with winds over 155 mph has tripled. Credit: NASA

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

North American Treaty Organization (NATO)

"He came, he saw, he conquered."
"Contrary to criticism and fears, Trump's brutally sincere behaviour has not broken NATO's unity but has mobilized its members to further action that strengthened the organization."
Poland's state-operated broadcaster TVP
"Yesterday I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening [in NATO members' dedication to to observing their promises to maintaining a robust national military]."
"They have substantially upped their commitment and now we're very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO."
"Well, they [Canada, Germany and Italy] will [honour their commitment to the 2 percent target]. I have no doubt about it. They all made commitments and they will be up to two percent. It will be over a relatively short period of years."
"I can tell you that NATO now is a really fine-tuned machine. People are paying money that they never paid before. They're happy to do it. And the United States is being treated much more fairly."
U.S. President Donald J. Trump, post-NATO summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses Russian lawmakers, regional governors and other high-ranking officials, in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2018.

It's a strange thing how leaders' minds work. Those who pursue a 'progressive' agenda feel entitled to assume that other nations are willing to sacrifice their own national GDP to meet their targets, so they needn't themselves bother. Wealthy countries like Germany as an example, opening their borders to a mind-gasping number of economic migrants, prepared to fund the enterprise which takes social welfare spending away from their own citizens to succour those from abroad seeking a better life. To Germany which has chosen its priorities, the role of NATO remains sacred in its defence of its members, but not that sacred that they must expend funds in fair support of NATO's defence capabilities.

And then there's Canada, another fairly wealthy Western democracy which under the current Liberal government of Justin Trudeau -- but certainly not confined to his administration -- which enjoys circumlocution and obfuscation,  preferring to state ad nauseum that good intentions and using whatever resources it does have with great economy and efficiency supports NATO just as much as the pledge fulfilled to fund adequate defence, shoring up its deficient military resources in the interests of meeting committed NATO targets. Canada, the ultimate "free rider".

"We'll be more secure when every NATO member including Canada, contributes its full share to our common security. Because the Canadian Armed Forces are really good ... the world needs more Canada. NATO needs more Canada. We need you", politely cajoled former U.S. President Barack Obama in an address to Parliament in Ottawa, before leaving the presidency. Applause was long and loud at President Obama's diplomatically polite cajolery, but brashly outspoken criticism from much-vilified current President Trump is decried as insulting to a scofflaw neighbour.

NATO's purpose was meant originally to counteract and protect against the obvious military ambitions of the former Soviet Union, a powerful adversary, with the armed forces and military equipment available to it of all its satellite countries' unified involvement in imposing its determined will on democratic nations of the world which reviled Communism and its human rights abuses and failures. The world sighed with relief when the Iron Curtain fell and Russia was left, hard put to pull itself together.
‘Listen to us now’: Putin unveils new Russian nuclear arsenal
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall © Grigoriy Sisoev / Sputnik

Under Vladimir Putin -- even with a strained economy, the democratic world's sanctions as punishment for invading Ukraine and lifting the Crimea out of Ukraine -- the urge of upsmanship and military gaming continues on with impunity; helping Syrian's bloody dictator spill sectarian blood and hints at the power of its nuclear arsenal. Its hobbled economy hasn't stopped Moscow from massive investments in space-age nuclear military technology, showcased with aplomb by Putin to ensure the world knows exactly who is in the ascendancy.
"...At the end of 2017, no submarines and none of the air force's 14 large transport planes were available for deployment due to repairs."
"...A Defence Ministry paper revealed German soldiers did not have enough protective vests, winter clothing or tents to adequately take part in a major NATO mission..."
German Parliamentary investigation
About 60 percent of Germany's Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets and roughly 80 percent of its Sea Lynx helicopters are unusable, according to a study by McKinsey & Company. Germany spends 1.24 percent of its gross domestic product on defence, representing the bottom half of NATO allies' expenditures on defence, irrespective of their universal pledge. Instead of spending the $28 billion on defence to bring it up to speed annually, billions is being sent to Russia in support of a new pipeline to pipe Russian natural gas to Germany.

NATO, headquartered in Belgium, sees that country spending 0.9 percent of GDP on defence. Of the 1.8 million troops European NATO relies upon, less than a third of that number is deployable, and of that number, six percent for any sustained period of deployment. Little wonder that NATO, despite the irascibility and unreliability of its weak-link member Turkey, which is moving ever closer in military alliance to Russia, still values its presence as a NATO member, with the second largest military in the alliance.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin shake hands at the G20 summit in Germany in July. The pair have grown closer after being criticised by the West
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin shake hands at the G20 summit in Germany in July. The pair have grown closer after being criticised by the West ( AFP/Getty Images )
Turkey has signed a deal with Russia to buy nearly £2bn worth of anti-aircraft missiles

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Rationalizing Turkey's NATO Membership : WHY?!

"Amid concerns among NATO allies, primarily for the U.S., regarding Ankara’s decision to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, which are not compatible with NATO’s defenses, Ankara has stepped up taking further role in missions of NATO, in an apparent sign of anchoring to the alliance."
"One of them is assuming the command of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in 2021. The formation of such a force was decided at the NATO Wales Summit 2014 as a “Spearhead Force” to the NATO Response Force (NRF) for the intervention of a possible crisis within a week. Then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on May 2015 that Ankara had offered to assume the responsibility as a framework nation in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force for 2021. The official decision among allies is expected to be taken at a ministerial level meeting in December 2018."
"Seven NATO members contribute to the mission in six groups: The German-Dutch forces, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, and Turkey. It is a force of around 5,000 formed in five battalions supported by air forces, navies, and special forces of member."
Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey
Turkey takes heavy agenda to NATO summit
Walkway in front of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels on July 10, 2018, ahead of NATO meetings. AFP PHOTO / ludovic MARIN
"There is no doubt in Europe [and possibly in Ankara too] that the bridges between Turkey and the EU have been burned — both on substance, with the massive deterioration of the rule of law in Turkey and at the personal level, with Erdogan’s repeated assaults on EU leaders in the past year and a half. No warm embraces can be expected on the margins of the NATO summit."
Marc Pierini, a former Turkish ambassador to the European Union
Relations between the European nations that make up NATO -- and Turkey have never been more fraught with suspicion and frustration than at present. Turkey, as a country that bridges Europe and the Middle East is the only Muslim NATO member. Kemalist Turkey was recognized as a nation of democratic values and imperatives, a secular government maintaining a strict separation between 'church and state'. Turkey's human rights record has always been on the edge of abuse, but the prevailing opinion was that it was improving.

That is all history. No longer is Turkey Kemalist in its outlook, judgement values and presentation. It has become Erdoganist, the country transformed from a Muslim-style democracy to an emerging dictatorship. Last year's attempted coup provided Recep Tayyip Erdogan with just the opportunity he was looking for, to impose martial law on the country, to accuse his detractors of being traitors to Turkey as he sacked over a hundred thousand civil servants, military, police, judges, lawyers, teachers and imprisoned 40 thousand others; journalists, military members, police and those he accused of trying to overthrow his government.

The elections that have been held in the past two years have been rife with corruption in lock-step with the government itself. Kurdish politicians have been put out of contention by being incarcerated and ruled ineligible to run for office. The conflict with secessionist Turkish Kurds has never been more destructive. Erdogan's manipulative machinations to change the constitution, remove the position of prime minister to grant himself as president all responsibilities and decision making of a neutered parliament, firmly ensconcing himself as an Islamist dictator.

His disruptive conniving to incite destabilizing Islamist perturbations by expatriate Turks living in Germany and other European countries has not endeared him to his fellow NATO members. Turkey's long aspirational efforts to be welcomed into the European Union has hit a snag that will never be surmounted. Erdogan's support of the Islamic Republic of Iran, despite sectarian differences, and his newfound friendship with Russia's Vladimir Putin has placed NATO in a dilemma of dissension.

Turkey's decision to arm its military with Russian made arms and the S-400 air defence system from Moscow, along with the installation of a Russian-built nuclear power plant represents a clear conundrum that a NATO member has assumed close cooperative ties with the very country that NATO was originally established 70 years ago to counter. The air defence system is not compatible with that used by other NATO members; yet another anomaly. 


This is what NATO should be worried about. Photographer: Ivan Sekretarev/AFP/Getty Images
NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force that Turkey trumpets it is prepared to lend its forces to is meant for the very specific purpose of deflecting any potential moves on the part of Moscow to threaten the stability and sovereignty of any of the Baltic countries, former USSR satrapies, nervous of Vladimir Putin's irascibility and mercurial decision making. Turkey has the third largest military in NATO, and without doubt it is seen by some as a vital part of Western defence, but that rationale appears on the evidence to lack credibility. 

Leading to the question, why doe Turkey want to remain within NATO? And why would NATO willingly remain prepared to continue to put up with including a member whose values, thrusts and alliances are so clearly incompatible with the priorities and stresses and values held by the greater balance of NATO members?

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Bringing Some Healing to the World Through Sport : Israel

"As Indigenous peoples, we have both seen our traditional lands colonized, our people ethnically cleansed and massacred by colonial settlers."
"We are asking you to respect our nonviolent picket line by withdrawing from the 2018 World Lacrosse Championships, denying Israel the opportunity to use the national sport of the Iroquois to cover up its escalating, violent ethnic cleansing of Palestinians throughout our ancestral lands."
Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)

"What's going on in Israel and what's happened to the Palestinians is wrong. A lot of people are relating it to what's happened to Native American people in Canada and the U.S., and it is similar."
"Morally, I want to [show] support and I'm going to support them in the best way I can. But taking myself away from the game that's given me so much, and something that's very positive to our people, I don't think is the right decision for us as Haudenosaunee people."
Lyle Thompson, elite Iroquois lacrosse player, Iroquois Nationals

"Our position is that we're coming to play a medicine game. Were hoping to bring some healing to the world."
"There are so many things that plague indigenous communities. It's good to have people who are competing at the world level, who can be these beacons of hope and be positive out there and walk the walk."
Ansley Jemison, executive director, Iroquois Nationals
Lyle Thompson (second from left) poses with his brothers Jerome (left), Miles (second from right) and Jeremy before a National Lacrosse League game between the Georgia Swarm and the Saskatchewan Rush. Handout / Cornwall Standard-Freeholder via Postmedia Network

Israel is hosting lacrosse's most important tournament this week in Netanya, Israel, the world field lacrosse championship, held every four years. A leading member of the Iroquois Nationals, the transnational Iroquois Confederacy's international competition representative and star player, Lyle Thompson, was the recipient of a July 4 open letter from the Palestinian Campaign for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, whose purpose was to persuade him and the team to forego competition because it was taking place in Israel this year.

Netanya Stadium (courtesy GoNetanya.com)
Netanya Stadium (courtesy GoNetanya.com)

The Nationals is the third ranking team in the world behind Canada and the United States. And they have decided there is no way they can refrain from the opportunity to compete, irrespective of where the international competition is being played. After he received PACBI's letter, Thompson revealed that he is unfamiliar with the controversial relations between Israel and the Palestinians. He did, however, he said, briefly discuss the historical conflict with friends and did some cursory reading leading him to empathize with the Palestinians.

Whether he read actual unbiased historical accounts of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians with an open mind rather than allowing himself to be persuaded by pervasive slanderous propaganda that has been so successfully promulgated by industrious Palestinian public relations in support of the 'cause' of the Palestinians is doubtful. Slander is just so much more approachable and easy to digest than the laborious details of actual events and a parsing of violence inflicted by those claiming to be non-violent while clasping a pathology of martyrdom.

The Iroquois Nationals arrived in Israel hours before they're scheduled to take on the United States at the 2018 Men's World Lacrosse Championship. (Submitted by Federation International Lacrosse)

'Normalization' with Israel is anathema to the Palestinians. For their claims are that they represent the original inhabitants of the land that heritage and history attribute through archaeology and ancient accounts of Israel written by scholars and historians of the day to a historical Jewish presence. The Palestinians are as much indigenous to the area they claim Israel has taken from them as British colonials are today as Canadian citizens.The land on which Israel sits, along with the West Bank are in fact, ancestral Jewish lands.

But the reality is that newly re-founded Israel has given status of recognition, equality and citizenship to those Palestinians who remained when Israel declared its sovereign status while those who fled as invading Arab armies sought to destroy the fledgling state now have possession of a portion of the territory that the United Nations offered through partition, and which they adamantly refused. And in Canada the indigenous population is now inclusive of the descendants of the original colonists along with the First Nations that met them.

ILA and City of Netanya, Israel hold a press conference on Wednesday, 23 May 2017, to announce Israel's hosting of the 2018 FIL Men's Lacrosse World Championship
Scott Neiss (far right), Executive Director for the Israel Lacrosse Association and Miriam Feirberg-Ikar (center-holding Israel Lacrosse jersey), Mayor of Netanya, hold a press conference on Wednesday, 23 May 2017, to announce Israel’s hosting of the 2018 FIL Men’s Lacrosse World Championship.

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

What Price Human Life?

"We are so happy. I feel like a mountain has been removed from my chest."
"Do you know the film Armageddon, where they have to save the world? That's what this has felt like."
Thai Navy SEAL cave rescuer

"When the last person came out there was no cheering, just relief that we had finished our mission."
"Inside the cave it was dark and quiet. Everyone was just very focused."
Dr. Suttiwit Junpirom, former Thai Navy SEAL

"This is an important event in my life."
"There were times when I cried. Happy. Very happy to see all Thai people love each other."
Rachapol Ngamgrabuan, Chiang Rai press office

"They are forced to do something that no kid has ever done before. They are diving in something considered [an] extremely hazardous environment in zero visibility."
"I was very scared, because when I saw the diver and the kid in the horizon, we can't see that far but maybe about 40 metres, I still didn't know if it was a casualty or a kid."
"But when I saw that he was alive and breathing and seemed to be all right, it felt very good."
Ivan Karadzic, Danish diver, rescue team

"In the cave, the [Wild Boars coach Ekkapol Chantawong] taught the boys how to meditate so they could pass the time without stress. That saved their lives."
"He would rather die [himself] than lose a single Wild Boar."
Patcharadanai Kittisophano, monk, Phrathat Doi Wao temple
Thai military personnel inside the cave during the rescue operations.
Thai military personnel inside the cave during the rescue operations.

The 25-year-old assistant coach of the Wild Boar soccer team out of the border town of Mae Sai trained for ten years as a Buddhist monk. His parents died in Myanmar leaving him an orphan as a young boy and he entered the Buddhist monkhood in Thailand which gave him the emotional support he required to survive alone in the world. He works there now as a custodian as well as coaching the boys on the Wild Boar team. After he was ordained he took care of the younger novices. He was well accustomed to working with children, not all that much more of one himself.

During the ordeal trapped in the cave he taught the twelve boys he had led into the cave for an adventure after a practise game, how to meditate, to take their minds and thoughts up and away from what they were suffering. That day of entry they were celebrating the 17th birthday of one of the boys and had with them snacks and water. Those were apportioned among them all while they awaited rescue for ten agonizingly long days of being trapped above the flood waters on the stone wall of the cave's ledge just above the flood waters. He alone refused to take his share of the food.

The town where the Wild Boars play soccer, Mae Sai, is located close to where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos borders are congruent in the Golden Triangle of the region. The coach and three of the soccer players trapped in the cave are ethnic minorities and stateless. Among them a 14-year-old sent by his parents from Myanmar to Thailand to obtain an education superior to what he could attain in Myanmar. Adul Sam-on, attending school in the town is at the top of his class in academics and sports. He speaks English, Thai, Burmese, Mandarin and Wa, and it was he who communicated with the English-speaking rescuers who first discovered their presence.
Members of the Royal Thai Navy are pictured with the 12 schoolboys, members of a local soccer team, and their coach, who were trapped in the Tham Luang Cave network in Northern Thailand.
Members of the Royal Thai Navy are pictured with the 12 schoolboys, members of a local soccer team, and their coach, who were trapped in the Tham Luang Cave network in Northern Thailand.

The team and their coach were rescued in three attempts; the first took four, another four, and the third tranche of four boys and their coach for a total of five. They were given tranquilizers before diving under the direction and guidance of the professional diver/rescuers. There are hints that the drugs given them were not just to calm their nerves, but to dull their senses to the point of semi-consciousness to avoid panic. They were one kilometre deep into the side of the mountain and four kilometres within the cavern-and-passageway complex that the team of rescuers guided them carefully out of to safety.

It was the same team each time that undertook the mission, three times in succession with rest periods between each. When the first eight had been brought out and five remained to be rescued in a race against an anticipated monsoon onslaught heavier than normal, as their oxygen was being depleted in the cave, three Navy SEALs and an army medic remained behind with the five. They themselves emerged shortly after the final evacuation had been successfully concluded and all those rescued helicoptered to hospital.
Rescued Thai boys in Chiang Rai hospital
The boys were rescued during a complex three-day operation   AFP

It is over, the fear, trepidation, suspense, drama. An economist has estimated the total cost of the rescue operation at around $120 million. That works out to less than ten million for each of the stranded boys and their coach. Needless to say there was another cost, that of the life of the ex-Thai Navy SEAL Saman Gunan who, while delivering oxygen supplies to the cave with the boys awaiting rescue, himself running out of oxygen on his return to the outside, died on his mission.

Former Thai Navy SEAL Sgt. Saman Kunan died while returning from an operation to deliver tanks to the cave.
Former Thai Navy SEAL Sgt. Saman Kunan died while returning from an operation to deliver tanks to the cave.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Turkey: A Family Affair in a #NewEraWithErdogan

"[Turkey is] making a new start. [Turkey] is entering a new era."
"We are leaving behind the system that has in the past cost our country a heavy price in political and economic chaos."
"[I am prepared to] propel our country forward."  
"With the power granted to us by the new presidential system, we will get quicker and stronger results."
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during his press conference at the Presidential Palace after taking his oath of office, in Ankara, Turkey, 9 July 2018
Mr Erdogan informed guests at the presidential palace in Ankara that Turkey was "making a new start" EPA

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party have had several decades of manoeuvring and plotting and manipulating and promoting the ascendancy of Islamism to change Turkey back to the backwater of Islam it was before Kemal Ataturk turned it into a parliamentary republic and a European-style democracy, hauling it out of the stagnating dark ages of the Ottoman Empire to reflect its halfway immersion in Europe, leaving its Muslim legacy a heritage to be practised in private. Erdogan has succeeded in reversing a century of progress.

When he came to power and for the first decade after, Turkey was prosperous and working toward acceptance into the European Union which urged it to tweak its human rights record just a little more, leading him to make a temporary and uneasy peace agreement with Turkey's Kurdish minority. As Erdogan and his party became more solidly ensconced, assured of support from Turkish Islamists he felt confident in sowing the seeds of discord between Turkey and the EU, Turkey and Israel, a longtime Middle East ally, and NATO.

He manipulated and schemed and planned a succession of elections to bring him to the point where he is at present, partly by portraying Turkey internally as beleaguered by the United States and Europe, and throwing in that trusty old standby, hatred for Jews and Israel as a unifying technique to enable him to convince the Turkish electorate that greater powers for Erdogan, Islam's anointed new Caliph, would bring greater glory and wealth to Turkey. In the process he hunted down Kurds, destroying the accord and re-aligned himself with Russia in deadly regime-occupied Syria.

Opposition accusations of nepotism, corruption and general malfeasance barely dented the man and his ruling party. After all, he was in control and ensconced in his palace from which no one could wrench him. The state of emergency he imposed on the country after the unfortunately failed coup attempt saw Erdogan wreaking vengeance on those whom he identified as supporting his arch enemy the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen and so he dismissed 18,000 civil servants, police, justices, journalists, teachers, military, arresting 60,000 as coup plotters, enemies of the state.

Term limits for Turkey's central bank governor have been removed, the bank no longer independent but in the hands of his son-in-law Berat Albayrak, formerly energy minister. Erdogan is head of the executive, controls the military, controls Turkey's intelligence agency, may now issue decrees and select senior judges. He is the government. He is Turkey, indivisible.

All of these informed, intelligent choices in ruling the country is bringing it to economic ruin. The Turkish lira lost 3percent of its value, but that is not Erdogan's fault; it has resulted from a "very open and clear operation" against Turkey by its enemies. Stand up, U.S.

On this most auspicious day for Erdogan and Turkey, he was cheered by crowds of enthusiasts as the convoy made its way to the inauguration ceremony. #NewEraWithErdogan, tweeted the presidency.

 The image of the presidential palace, a palatial estate worthy of Erdogan's status and ambition appeared on a special commemorative coin minted for guests attending the inaugural ceremony where he conferred with Nicholas Madura of Venezuela for hints on how to proceed with the ruination of a country and the beggaring of its population.

 

 Erdogan's avowed quicker and stronger results have been initiated. Foreign investment has fled. Turkey's economy is beginning to crumble. Long live the Caliph!

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Fighting for Freedom of Language?

"We see the situation degenerating from a crisis to a conflict."
"And if nothing is done soon, it will turn into a civil war with grave consequences."
Gaby Ambo, executive director, Finders Group Initiative, human rights, Cameroon

"It is not possible to sit around the table with groups who would like to take the nation and cleave the nation."
"Secession, this shall never, ever take place."
Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Cameroon information minister

"We are at a very, very dangerous crossroads."
"The absence of willingness on the part of Cameroon to negotiate itself out of its occupation of Ambazonia and insistence on the utilization of disproportionate force leaves the Ambazonian people with no other choice than to defend themselves."
Cho Ayaba, commander-in-chief, Ambazonian Defense Forces


"We are military. We are going to shoot them [militant separatists]. It is a war."
"You can't go into a sovereign country and have weapons and shoot police and military."
Colonel Didier Badjeck, Cameroonian defense spokesman

Another African country, another conflict. Most often the conflict is sectarian-based, but not necessarily, since tribal conflicts are also hugely incendiary. Africa has Islamic State affiliates like Boko Haram and Al Shabaab and other offshoots of Islamofascism, including al-Qaeda. In Cameroon, however, the rising conflict and issue of separation is linked to language. The government of Cameroon is dominantly French, but in the northern part of the country is an English-speaking component; restive, complaining and demanding of their right to a sovereign state of Ambazonia, "land of freedom".

You've heard of Amazonia, but never of Ambazonia? Well, Cameroonian English-speaking separatists want you to become familiar with Ambazonia, because it is their nation. Leading the Cameroonian government to call the separatists "terrorists" and not completely without reason, given the violence they are responsible for having taken up arms, burning markets, beheading soldiers, kidnapping people they claim are traitors to their cause of 'freedom' to be Ambazonians.

Not that the Cameroonian military hasn't been pleased to reciprocate. Social media is replete with videos claiming to demonstrate that both sides in this propaganda conflict haven't been immune to wreaking havoc. The separatists for their part, accuse the Cameroonian military of "genocide", a word that is thrown about with careless abandon to credibility around the world lately. This call for secession is decades old, but recently upgraded in intensity.

Agitating from abroad because he doesn't live in Cameroon, the man who calls himself the Ambazonian chief of Defense Forces believes the United Nations Charter validates Ambazonia as a nation. And why would he not? After all, the Palestinians have been given irregular status within the United Nations as a special favourite among the predominately influential human-rights abusing nations of the world, why not Ambazonia? It has been proving that any atrocities the Palestinians can contrive they are capable of performing just as well, after all.

Composed of roughly a fifth of the population in two of Cameroon's ten regions, English-speaking citizens believe they have an entitlement to a sovereign present in a country considered the most geographically, ethnically and linguistically diverse in Africa, often referred to as "Little Africa". But Cameroon has no wish to become geographically "littler" by permitting its territory to be sliced away at the demand of separatists.

Anglophone-speakers symbolic of the colonialist past, feel disentitled by the French-speaking government, marginalized, lacking opportunities, overlooked and abandoned. The strategic solution to the situation is separation. In the process violence ensues, schools, homes and villages torched, travel blocked between the two language-driven entities; hostilities at full, violent tilt. Tens of thousands of people have fled, some to cross the border into Nigeria.

Where the population in the largest of African nations is half Christian, half Muslim and the conflict there sees rampaging Muslim Islamist jihadis creating vicious havoc and destruction and will now have new targets to zero in on.
Viva, darkest Continent!

Africa's Active Militant Islamic Groups as of Apr 2017

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Monday, July 09, 2018

Beyond Frigid : Antarctica

"They occurred in small hollows two to three metres deep in the surface of the ice, on the southern side of high ridges on the plateau."
Antarctic frigid temperature study

"There's a limit to how long the conditions persist to allow it to cool to these ultra-low temperatures, and a limit to how much heat you can actually get through the atmosphere, because water vapour has to be almost nonexistent in order to emit heat from the surface of these temperatures."
"Going forward in time, I think we could see that the lower limit might slowly start to rise, as we put more carbon dioxide in the air, and water vapour in the stratosphere starts to increase."
Ted Scambos, scientist, National Snow and Ice Data Center
Handout photo taken on January 8, 2018 and received on June 12, 2018 via the Nature website shows unusual iceberg at Rothera Research Station, Antarctic Peninsula.   ANDREW SHEPHERD/AFP/Getty Images

Roald Amundson and Robert Scott and their crews each separately racing to be the first at the South Pole experienced life-threatening hardships negotiating the icy terrain and the frigid temperatures of the Antarctic, along with miserably inclement weather and long-lasting storms that kept them in their tents hoping to survive for weeks at a time in the hostile-to-life frozen environment. Even they, suffering through difficult months of surmounting -40C and -50C weather days, with high, brutal winds and sight-impairing snow conditions, however, would never have imagined a penetrating cold of -88C to -144 C.

The presence of such minus temperatures as -93 degrees Celsius was left to the present century and intrepid research scientists who have discovered the planet's coldest areas. It is unimaginable to think of cold that can descend to minus-100 degrees at night through the Antarctic winter. No living thing could conceivably survive. On the other hand, there are scarce living things to survive in that geographic location, in that prevailing atmosphere, and in the face of the most alien-to-life weather systems, that plague the South Pole.
Persistent winds shape the surface of East Antarctica’s snow into small dune forms called ‘sastrugi’.
Credit: Ted Scambos, NSIDC/University of Colorado-Boulder

A new study published in Geophysical Research Letters found, with the help of weather satellites, "approximately 100" sites in the Antarctic where low temperatures of around minus-144C were found during the winters of 2004 to 2015, These are temperature lows that outrival the average temperature on Mars with its minus76C average. The locales were observed to be in dips and hollows close to the top of East Antarctica's Ice Sheet, occurring at elevations of around 3,8700 to 4,000 metres, during July and August.

Russia's Vostok Station was the locus for the previous coldest temperature ever measured on Earth at minus 89C in 1983. Satellite data analysis dating to 2013 took in 32 years of data to conclude colder temperatures to be present closer to minus 135C. It seems that minus 144 represents the theoretical minimum for the coldest temperatures could plunge, according to the research; possible only under conditions where the sky is clear and winds calm, to allow residual heat to radiate away from Earth's surface back into space.

If the atmosphere is as dry as it can possibly become, water vapour which retains heat in the atmosphere cannot interfere. With extremely dry air on a prolonged basis, temperature can be reduced beyond 144, but marginally. Measured, needless to say, from a safely existential distance thanks to the kind of modern technology that Amundson, the first to discover the South Pole, might never have imagined.

main article image
The East Antarctic Plateau. (Ted Scambos/NSIDC/CU Boulder)

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