This is what climate change looks like.

 

110109_Algeria_slashes_food_prices_amid_riots_002
110109_Algeria_slashes_food_prices_amid_riots_002

Source: dailykos

Author: grumpynerd

Emphasis Mine

It’s important to express solidarity with Belgium at this time of grief and fear, but we have to also start thinking longer term about these kinds of events.  One of the overlooked factors leading to the Paris and Brussels attacks is something we’ll be living with a long time: climate change.

We have to start making this point: regional political instability and the resulting export of terrorism are climate change problems. And no doubt we’ll be ridiculed for saying that. “Don’t be ridiculous,” some people will say,”the problem is radical Islam.” Well the Assads have ruled over radical Islamists for decades, and have ruthlessly but successfully put down past Islamist risings.  So what was different about 2011?  This was:

SyriaWheatProduction.jpg

Now note that by 2011 Syrian grain production actually had begun to recover from the record-setting failures of 2008, but measured against the levels of production in the first half of the decade we’re looking at a bad harvest. And by that year many people had migrated to the cities when their farms failed.  Syria had 1.3 million internal refugees — climate refugees — when the first “Day of Rage” was staged in February 2011.  160 villages had been completely depopulated. [source]

We get a better picture of what was going on by comparing consumption, production and importation of wheat to Syria:

Syria_wheat_supply_chart

Look at what the red line — the amount of consumption — does in 2010. It goes down.  Bread is a staple of the Syrian diet much more than it is in the American diet, so what you are looking at are people going hungry.  In 2009 they were able to import their way around the bad wheat harvests, then in 2010 you have a hungry year. Why? The local harvests weren’t any worse in 2010 than 2009, but imports drop precipitously because of this:

indicator3_2012_GrainPrice

In 2011, there was enough wheat in Syria, but only if you had the money buy it. In some places the price of bread had risen ten-fold.  High food prices can destabilize any country, regardless of its culture or religion.  The French Revolution began with bread riots.  So did the Arab Spring in 2011.  Any country with large numbers of hungry, un- or under-employed people is a threat to peace and international security.

Finally, consider this map:

WorldBankAgChanges

Think of this not as an agricultural map, but as a risk map.  Where an area of climate-induced agricultural failure coincides with an affluent population that can afford to source its food globally, the risk can be discounted. But other countries won’t be able to afford to roll snake eyes when it comes to local harvests and global commodity prices. Some of those countries are important US trading partners and allies.

I am not suggesting we don’t need a security apparatus response to terrorism.  Of course we do.  But ISIL isn’t an aberration; it’s the start of a long-term, climate-driven trend that will cross religious and cultural boundaries.  A security response won’t be enough; we need to get out ahead of that trend by addressing global food security.  That’ll require an “all of the above” approach: both reductions in human contributions to climate change and preparations for the changes we can’t avoid.

 

See:http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/03/22/1504837/-This-is-what-climate-change-looks-like?detail=email&&can_id=d57025b8908d671dcc8edc84e5855f8f&source=email-arizona-officials-confirm-legal-action-in-primary-fiasco-2&email_referrer=arizona-officials-confirm-legal-action-in-primary-fiasco-2&email_subject=arizona-officials-confirm-legal-action-in-primary-fiasco&link_id=7

The Right Responds to Paris With Bible-Thumping, Scientific Illiteracy, Frat Boy Antics

The situation in Syria is very serious, but conservatives keep responding in idiotic and childish ways.

Source: Salon via AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte

Emphasis Mine

The Paris attacks brought renewed interest in ISIS and the ongoing crisis in Syria, and unsurprisingly, that means that we’ve all had to endure right-wingers rolling out the usual chest-thumping bravado from Republicans who have no personal worries about ever seeing combat. But never fear! Slobbering enthusiasm for war is far from the only right-wing neurosis that is being trotted out in response to the ISIS situation. Our friends on the right are also responding with usual mix of the Bible-thumping, anti-science rhetoric, and gross sexism they manage to work into nearly every conversation.

The right’s growing hostility to scientific evidence is on full display when it comes to the issue of how to deal with the millions of Syrians displaced by the civil war who are seeking some place safer to live. Hysteria over the refugees is reaching a fever pitch as right-wingers claim to be afraid that ISIS is smuggling terrorists with the refugees who will come kill us all.

Even on its surface, these claims of fear should provoke skepticism, and not just because ISIS is too busy begging Muslims to move to Syria to start smuggling people out. As the Paris attacks show, if ISIS wants to bomb something, they’re going to go after iconic cities that can be held out as modern Sodoms. In other words, they’d go after New York, not Birmingham. So why was Alabama the first state out of the gate to deny the refugees welcome?

But if you dig into the actual scientific evidence, it really shows how completely disconnected from reality the right is on this issue. As Michael Halpern, writing for the Union of Concerned Scientists, explains, the overwhelming scientific evidence shows that allowing people refuge from war is not only safe itself, it actually decreases the chance of future terrorism. In fact, looking over the evidence, it suggests that the best way to keep people safe is to bring in as many refugees as you can.

This isn’t just because none of the two million refugees accepted into our country since 1990 have committed terrorism, which can be compared that to the almost routine terrorism committed by native born right wingers. Research also shows that a refugee’s chance of embracing radical views is much reduced if he moves to some place like the United States or Western Europe. Relocating to a country that is closer often means being closer to the conflict and more likely to pick up on radical views that lead to terrorism. If you want a young man who is just beginning to form his views to turn away from radicalism, your best bet is moving him here.

But, as usual, Republicans don’t think they need science because they have religion. The Bible-thumping has gotten completely out of control in the past week, with Ted Cruz proposing a religious test for Syrian refugees—if you’re Christian, you’re in, if you’re Muslim, you’re not—and Mike Huckabee pretending that Muslims are the only people that commit terrorism.

Compared to this unvarnished hatred, John Kasich might look like a gentle soul, but his idea on how to deal with ISIS is the same thing in a prettier package. “We need to beam messages around the world about what it means to have a Western ethic, to be a part of a Christian-Judeo society,” he told NBC News, adding that he wanted to start an agency “to promote core Judeo-Christian, Western values that we and our friends and allies share.”

So he wants to broadcast targeted messages at Muslim populations that argue that Jews and Christians are better and more moral than Muslims. What could possibly go wrong?

Kasich may pretend he’s a moderate, but he’s buying into the same narrative as Cruz and Huckabee that this is some grand conflict between religions. Luckily, that happens to be ISIS’s message, too! I have no doubt that ISIS would love nothing more than the U.S. sending a bunch of messages out about how we think Christians (and, as an afterthought, Jews) are better than Muslims, because ISIS thrives on the idea that the differences between Muslims and Christians are irreconcilable and that war is the only answer.

Of course, not all responses from the right to the situation in Syria have been about Bible-thumping. The frat daddy contingent of the right that is mostly motivated by the ever-present fear that you might forget they have penises has to have their say, as well. For that set, of course, you have the Daily Caller, which ran a piece aimed at those men titled, “13 Syrian Refugees We’d Take Immediately.” (As it is a naked attempt to get traffic, I will not link. Rest assured my description will be enough.)

What follows is a bunch of photos from the Instagram account Syrian Girls Got Beauty, which is just what it seems to be, a fashion and beauty photo blog, presumably from Syria. There’s no evidence that any of the women are refugees or even know that their photos are being repurposed to make mock of the crisis in their country. The blog hasn’t been updated in over three months. Indeed, the photos aren’t even of 13 separate women—as a colleague of mine pointed out over email to those of us who were too appalled to look further, one of the women in the list is pictured twice.

But you have to give credit to the Daily Caller for really distilling the right-wing mentality down to the basics: Who cares about human rights, international relations, scientific evidence, thoughtful analysis, or even giving two minutes thought about something before forming some idiotic, knee-jerk opinion about it? It’s all about them: Their bigotries, their need to be told their religion is the best, their need to remind you every five seconds that they are heterosexual.

It’s a shame that we have to thank our lucky stars, in this environment, that at least we have a grown-up in the White House. Let’s hope it stays that way come November.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of “It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.”

 

 

 

See:http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/right-responds-paris-bible-thumping-scientific-illiteracy-frat-boy-antics?akid=13672.123424.K9DEnV&rd=1&src=newsletter1046025&t=14

Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit

Source: Consortium news, via RSN

Author: Robert Parry

“You might think that policymakers with so many bloody fiascos on their résumés as the U.S. neocons, including the catastrophic Iraq War, would admit their incompetence and return home to sell insurance or maybe work in a fast-food restaurant. Anything but directing the geopolitical decisions of the world’s leading superpower.

But Official Washington’s neocons are nothing if not relentless and resilient. They are also well-funded and well-connected. So they won’t do the honorable thing and disappear. They keep hatching new schemes and strategies to keep the world stirred up and to keep their vision of world domination – and particularly “regime change” in the Middle East – alive.

Now, the neocons have stoked a confrontation over Ukraine, involving two nuclear-armed states, the United States and Russia. But – even if nuclear weapons don’t come into play – the neocons have succeeded in estranging U.S. President Barack Obama from Russian President Vladimir Putin and sabotaging the pair’s crucial cooperation on Iran and Syria, which may have been the point all along.

Though the Ukraine crisis has roots going back decades, the chronology of the recent uprising — and the neocon interest in it – meshes neatly with neocon fury over Obama and Putin working together to avert a U.S. military strike against Syria last summer and then brokering an interim nuclear agreement with Iran last fall that effectively took a U.S. bombing campaign against Iran off the table.

With those two top Israeli priorities – U.S. military attacks on Syria and Iran – sidetracked, the American neocons began activating their influential media and political networks to counteract the Obama-Putin teamwork. The neocon wedge to splinter Obama away from Putin was driven into Ukraine.

Operating out of neocon enclaves in the U.S. State Department and at U.S.-funded non-governmental organizations, led by the National Endowment for Democracy, neocon operatives targeted Ukraine even before the recent political unrest began shaking apart the country’s fragile ethnic and ideological cohesion.

Last September, as the prospects for a U.S. military strike against Syria were fading thanks to Putin, NED president Carl Gershman, who is something of a neocon paymaster controlling more than $100 million in congressionally approved funding each year, took to the pages of the neocon-flagship Washington Post and wrote that Ukraine was now “the biggest prize.”

But Gershman added that Ukraine was really only an interim step to an even bigger prize, the removal of the strong-willed and independent-minded Putin, who, Gershman added, “may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad [i.e. Ukraine] but within Russia itself.” In other words, the new hope was for “regime change” in Kiev and Moscow.

Putin had made himself a major annoyance in Neocon World, particularly with his diplomacy on Syria that defused a crisis over a Sarin attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013. Despite the attack’s mysterious origins – and the absence of any clear evidence proving the Syrian government’s guilt – the U.S. State Department and the U.S. news media rushed to the judgment that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did it.

Politicians and pundits baited Obama with claims that Assad had brazenly crossed Obama’s “red line” by using chemical weapons and that U.S. “credibility” now demanded military retaliation. A longtime Israeli/neocon goal, “regime change” in Syria, seemed within reach.

But Putin brokered a deal in which Assad agreed to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal (even as he continued to deny any role in the Sarin attack). The arrangement was a huge letdown for the neocons and Israeli officials who had been drooling over the prospect that a U.S. bombing campaign would bring Assad to his knees and deliver a strategic blow against Iran, Israel’s current chief enemy.

Putin then further offended the neocons and the Israeli government by helping to facilitate an interim nuclear deal with Iran, making another neocon/Israeli priority, a U.S. war against Iran, less likely.

Putting Putin in Play

So, the troublesome Putin had to be put in play. And, NED’s Gershman was quick to note a key Russian vulnerability, neighboring Ukraine, where a democratically elected but corrupt president, Viktor Yanukovych, was struggling with a terrible economy and weighing whether to accept a European aid offer, which came with many austerity strings attached, or work out a more generous deal with Russia.

There was already a strong U.S.-organized political/media apparatus in place for destabilizing Ukraine’s government. Gershman’s NED had 65 projects operating in the country – training “activists,” supporting “journalists” and organizing business groups, according to its latest report. (NED was created in 1983 to do in relative openness what the CIA had long done in secret, nurture pro-U.S. operatives under the umbrella of “promoting democracy.”)

So, when Yanukovych opted for Russia’s more generous $15 billion aid package, the roof fell in on him. In a speech to Ukrainian business leaders last December, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, Victoria Nuland, a neocon holdover and the wife of prominent neocon Robert Kagan, reminded the group that the U.S. had invested $5 billion in Ukraine’s “European aspirations.”

Then, urged on by Nuland and neocon Sen. John McCain, protests in the capital of Kiev turned increasingly violent with neo-Nazi militias moving to the fore. Unidentified snipers opened fire on protesters and police, touching off fiery clashes that killed some 80 people (including about a dozen police officers).

On Feb. 21, in a desperate attempt to tamp down the violence, Yanukovych signed an agreement brokered by European countries. He agreed to surrender many of his powers, to hold early elections (so he could be voted out of office), and pull back the police. That last step, however, opened the way for the neo-Nazi militias to overrun government buildings and force Yanukovych to flee for his life.

With these modern-day storm troopers controlling key buildings – and brutalizing Yanukovych supporters – a rump Ukrainian parliament voted, in an extra-constitutional fashion, to remove Yanukovych from office. This coup-installed regime, with far-right parties controlling four ministries including defense, received immediate U.S. and European Union recognition as Ukraine’s “legitimate” government.

As remarkable – and newsworthy – as it was that a government on the European continent included Nazis in the executive branch for the first time since World War II, the U.S. news media performed as it did before the Iraq War and during various other international crises. It essentially presented the neocon-preferred narrative and treated the presence of the neo-Nazis as some kind of urban legend.

Virtually across the board, from Fox News to MSNBC, from the Washington Post to the New York Times, the U.S. press corps fell in line, painting Yanukovych and Putin as the “black-hat” villains and the coup regime as the “white-hat” good guys, which required, of course, whiting out the neo-Nazi “brown shirts.”

Neocon Expediency

Some neocon defenders have challenged my reporting that U.S. neocons played a significant role in the Ukrainian putsch. One argument is that the neocons, who regard the U.S.-Israeli bond as inviolable, would not knowingly collaborate with neo-Nazis given the history of the Holocaust (and indeed the role of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators in extermination campaigns against Poles and Jews).

But the neocons have frequently struck alliances of convenience with some of the most unsavory – and indeed anti-Semitic – forces on earth, dating back to the Reagan administration and its collaboration with Latin American “death squad” regimes, including work with the World Anti-Communist League that included not only neo-Nazis but aging real Nazis.

More recently in Syria, U.S. neocons (and Israeli leaders) are so focused on ousting Assad, an ally of hated Iran, that they have cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s Sunni monarchy (known for its gross anti-Semitism). Israeli officials have even expressed a preference for Saudi-backed Sunni extremists winning in Syria if that is the only way to get rid of Assad and hurt his allies in Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Last September, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the Jerusalem Post that Israel so wanted Assad out and his Iranian backers weakened, that Israel would accept al-Qaeda operatives taking power in Syria.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren said in the interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.”

Oren said that was Israel’s view even if the other “bad guys” were affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Oren, who was Israel’s point man in dealing with Official Washington’s neocons, is considered very close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reflects his views. For decades, U.S. neocons have supported Netanyahu and his hardline Likud Party, including as strategists on his 1996 campaign for prime minister when neocons such as Richard Perle and Douglas Feith developed the original “regime change” strategy. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

In other words, Israel and its U.S. neocon supporters have been willing to collaborate with extreme right-wing and even anti-Semitic forces if that advances their key geopolitical goals, such as maneuvering the U.S. government into military confrontations with Syria and Iran.

So, while it may be fair to assume that neocons like Nuland and McCain would have preferred that the Ukraine coup had been spearheaded by militants who weren’t neo-Nazis – or, for that matter, that the Syrian rebels were not so dominated by al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists – the neocons (and their Israeli allies) see these tactical collaborations as sometimes necessary to achieve overarching strategic priorities.

And, since their current strategic necessity is to scuttle the fragile negotiations over Syria and Iran, which otherwise might negate the possibility of U.S. military strikes against those two countries, the Putin-Obama collaboration had to go.

By spurring on the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s elected president, the neocons helped touch off a cascade of events – now including Crimea’s secession from Ukraine and its annexation by Russia – that have raised tensions and provoked Western retaliation against Russia. The crisis also has made the continued Obama-Putin teamwork on Syria and Iran extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Like other neocon-engineered schemes, there will surely be much collateral damage in this latest one. For instance, if the tit-for-tat economic retaliations escalate – and Russian gas supplies are disrupted – Europe’s fragile recovery could be tipped back into recession, with harmful consequences for the U.S. economy, too.

There’s also the certainty that congressional war hawks and neocon pundits will press for increased U.S. military spending and aggressive tactics elsewhere in the world to punish Putin, meaning even less money and attention for domestic programs or deficit reduction. Obama’s “nation-building at home” will be forgotten.

But the neocons have long made it clear that their vision for the world – one of America’s “full-spectrum dominance” and “regime change” in Middle Eastern countries opposed to Israel – overrides all other national priorities. And as long as the neocons face no accountability for the havoc that they wreak, they will continue working Washington’s corridors of power, not selling insurance or flipping hamburgers.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/22671-focus-neocons-ukraine-syria-iran-gambit