Comey is a leaker and a liar, NOT!

Comey was a private citizen when he provided information to a friend on a memo prepared  as a personal record of a discussion he had with President Trump.   This does not mean the memo itself was classified information.  He did not commit any crime.  If he did,  Attorney General Jeff Sessions would have thrown the book at him in an instant. Comey’s  version of events of his discussions in the oval office differs with President Trump’s version.   I believe Comey.  Both Republicans and Democrats have given James Comey high marks as honest and a straight shooter.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Qatar crisis worsening

In the four prior blogs, I tried to explain some of the key element of the crisis. It was not comprehensive.  I will list a few recent events not included in the last blog.  These events are  all within the last 5 days, although they are not really in proper time sequence.

Massive deportations and family separations will result:

Al Jazeera headline:  Saudi-led blockade on Qatar ‘breaking up families’ Amid GCC diplomatic crisis, hundreds of mixed-citizenship couples are facing separation.  It should have mentioned that Qatar retaliated, expelling Saudi, UAE and Bahraini citizens.   In their article,  it is stated:

Shortly following the severing of diplomatic ties and border closure between Qatar and the three Arab Gulf countries of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, Qatari nationals were ordered to leave within 14 days. Saudi, UAE and Bahraini citizens were also given the same timeframe to leave Qatar.

As a result, hundreds of mixed-citizenship Qatari couples are facing the grim prospect of being split from their families. The children inherit the nationality of their father in mixed citizenship couples, so in many cases, the children are really unfamiliar with the countries to which they are being deported.  It is a humanitarian disaster.  Each day, reconciliation seems more unlikely as each side is trying to inflect as much damages on the other as possible.

Read more

UAE  15 year sentence for “sympathy  crimes”:    “Strict and firm action will be taken against anyone who shows sympathy or any form of bias towards Qatar, or against anyone who objects to the position of the United Arab Emirates, whether it be through the means of social media, or any type of written, visual or verbal form,” Gulf News quoted UAE Attorney-General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi as saying. Offenders could be punished with a jail term of up to 15 years and a fine of at least 500,000 dirhams ($136,000), Gulf News reported.

Russian Hacking:   Washington (CNN)US investigators believe Russian hackers breached Qatar’s state news agency and planted a fake news report that contributed to a crisis among the US’ closest Gulf allies, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. The FBI recently sent a team of investigators to Doha to help the Qatari government investigate the alleged hacking incident, Qatari and US government officials say.

June 5 activities were aimed at sanctioning Qatar, and isolating its ability to trade and obtained supplies.  Saudi Arabia’s central bank asks local banks to sell Qatari riyals and not to buy any more, local media and Reuters report.  Egypt airspace to close on Tuesday.. Egypt’s ministry of civil aviation has announced that the country’s airspace will be closed to Qatari flights starting Tuesday 04:00 GMT.   Lieberman, Israel’s defence minister, has praised the measures against Qatar, saying: “There is no doubt that this opens very many possibilities of cooperation in the struggle against terror.”  Saudi Arabia has shut down Al Jazeera Media Network’s local office, according to Saudi state media. The Saudi Ports Authority has notified shipping agents not to receive vessels carrying Qatari flags or ships owned by Qatari companies or individuals. Egypt suspends air and sea links.   Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a statement the country was suspending air and sea links to Qatar, citing national security.

Yemen cuts ties, despite Qatar’s assistance fighting the Houtis:  Yemen’s internationally recognised government has cut relations with Qatar and says it supports the decision by the Saudi-led coalition to end Qatar’s participation in the war on the Houthis in Yemen. Qatar has been part of the coalition since March 2015.  The government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi says it severed ties with Qatar in part over its support of extremist groups in Yemen “in contradiction with the goals announced by the countries supporting the legitimate government”.

Just half the news!  June 10, A separate report from Saudi’s state-run news agency SPA acknowledged Tillerson’s call for Qatar to curtail support for “terrorism”, but did not mention his remarks that the crisis was hurting ordinary Qataris, impairing business activities and harming the fight against ISIL.

I guess that’s enough for now.   See link for the latest updates.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Al Jazeera:  Saudi led blockade is breaking up families (So is Qatar’s deportation)

Al Jazeera: Qatar Diplomatic Crisis: Latest Updates

Qatar in Crisis – Part 1, The earthquake

“A small problem in the beginning can be a big one in the end,”  Thomas Aquinas.

There has been a number of conflicts between Persian Gulf countries, but this crisis has exploded like an earthquake with enormous ripple effects.

The claim of the other Persian Gulf countries, lead by Saudi Arabia is that Qatar supports terrorist organizations.  Qatar denies this, and claims just the opposite, that it actually is fighting the terrorism, in particular,  the Sunni based al-Qaeda and ISIL groups.   It is amazing how quickly Qatar’s friends are siding with the Saudis.  For example, Qatar  supported Libya’s effort to end the oppression by  their dictator, Gaddafi.  Now even Libya (eastern side gov’t)  has joined in the effort to isolate Qatar.  Some thanks!    This will be reviewed in later blog.

This  is not the front page story in the US- but the consequences are huge and may be long lasting.    Wikipedia calls this a diplomatic crisis.  They are keeping up to date with the countries severing ties with Qatar .  I particularly like the  Al Jazeera site, with it’s  timeline of all events.   Al Jazeera is now banned in all hotels in Saudi Arabia, yet it remains the best information source.  There’s been great  reporting in the New York Times, as usual.

The Persian Gulf region’s  political,  economic and military alliances  are, at this moment, in turmoil.  It is quickly getting worse by the hour  as other countries, including Turkey, Russia and the US are becoming involved.   The US can’t help from being involved as it has a major military base on Qatar.  Numerous universities, including Texas A+M have set up university programs in Qatar.    The liquid natural gas (LNG) facility in Qatar has US and French partners -Occidental Petroleum   and Total.  Huge gas reserves are located in the Persian Gulf (South Pars/ North Dome gas condensate field)  and production is shared by Iran and Qatar,  so these two countries are economically joined at the hip.   Qatar Petroleum began drilling additional wells in April 2017, after a 12 year lapse.

Another precious gem of Qatar is the Al-Jazeera news network, which Saudi Arabia and Egypt  hate,  but is a very reliable international news network, not a propaganda machine, as claimed.   Free speech and absolute monarchies, as in Saudi Arabia never really combine well.

The claim of supporting terrorism by the Saudis, seems to focus on support of the Muslim Brotherhood, more than any other organization.   Support of both Hamas and Hezbollah is also cited by Saudi Arabia and other countries.  I will explain in a future blog the recent ransom paid to an Iraqi shi’a group in return for members of the Qatari royal family upset Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

All efforts are being exerted by Saudi Arabia and their allies to control Qatar by isolating them.   There are no set of demands issued by the Saudi alliance.   Qatar is highly defiant right now.   Qatar is fiercely independent and extremely prosperous.    It will rely on Turkey for food and water supplies.   Saudi Arabia can’t isolate Qatar by land or sea,  but by denying airspace rights, this could be  a super big problem for Qatar Airlines. I believe the crisis is really about economic and political dominance of the area.  The fight to end funding of terrorism, is really the pretext.

There is nothing simple or easy to understand about this crisis.   It will not fit within one quick blog, so it is likely it will likely be broken up in parts.

Qatar by most measures is a small and wealthy country.  It’s GDP per capita is around $74,000, higher than the US, with $54,000 per capita.  Of course, the distribution of wealth is very different. It has 2.2 million inhabitants, and is about the size of Connecticut.  This is a country with only 330,000 Qatari citizens and all the others are expatriates.

There are a number of excellent summaries of Qatar on the internet.  The Lonely Planet travel guide used to say that the capital city, Doha, was one of the most boring places to visit.  They completely changed their tune and  now rave about the Doha, as a travel destination.  See Links at the bottom of this blog.

The crisis began when  Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Egypt cut off relations with Qatar.    This is a major power play among the six  Gulf Cooperative  Council (GCC) countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.   The GCC was formed in 1981.  It provides cooperation among the countries in many areas, including trade, economic development and mutual military defense.   The GCC was active in providing air attacks against ISIL in Syria.  This cooperative effort against ISIL includes Qatar.

Some very critical background.  Of the Saudi Arabia’s Muslim  population, 90% belongs to  Sunni branch of Islam.   Just the opposite in Iran, as about 90% belong to the  Shi’a branch of Islam.   There are more  subgroups  within each of these branches and even the subgroups do not work well together.   No country is 100% Sunni or Shi’a.   In the Muslim world,  around 80% belong to the Sunni branch.

All countries, connected by land to Saudi Arabia have high Sunni populations:  Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, UAE and Oman.   Qatar is the exception  as it is about 60% Shi’a.

Now, the terrorist groups, ISIS and al-Qaeda beliefs stem from the most extreme subset of the Sunni Islam, although most Muslims would say they really represent  an extreme departure of the Muslim religion.  It would not make much sense to claim that Qatar is both supporting fighting against these terrorists groups in Syria through air strikes and simultaneously supporting these groups.  As a predominately Shi’s country, support of a Sunni based terrorist group makes no sense.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Links:

Wikipedia: Muslim Brotherhood

Wikipedia: Qatar

Wikipedia:  Qatar in Crisis

Al Jazeera: Qatar Diplomatic Crisis: Latest Updates

 

Qatar Crisis – Part 2, the Kidnapping and Release of Qatari royal family members in Iraq

The Kidnapping and Payment of Ransom

A hunting party in southern Iraq was kidnapped in mid-December 2015.   The hunters included members of the Qatari royal family.  No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping.   According to the Al Jazeera report (see links below), the kidnapping was done by Shi’a militia in the Muthanna region.   This is consistent with many other reports.  It was not done by a Sunni extremist group, like al Qaeda or ISIL

The ransom deal took 16 months to complete.  Release of the Qatari hostages occurred on April 22, 2017.  The agreement included the release of 26 Qatari hostages and the safe evacuation of approximately of 2,000 Shi’a residents in four Syrian cities as follows:

The deal was linked the evacuation of thousands of people from four besieged towns in Syria: the northern Syrian villages of Fouaa and Kefraya, which are government-controlled but have been besieged by rebels, and the central villages of Madaya and Zabadani, which were besieged by pro-government forces.

It was reported that the ransom was “up to one billion dollars.”

Who are the Shi’a militias?  Per PBS Frontline:

Shia militias reached new heights of power in Iraq in the aftermath of ISIS’s rampage across the country in 2014. As Iraq’s army crumbled and ISIS seized Mosul, the government relied heavily on Shia militias to halt ISIS’s further advance.

Later in the article, it is stated:

Experts say Iraq’s Shia militias fall into three broad categories: those backed by Iran (the largest of the three blocs), those with ties to Iraqi political parties or politicians, and those who consider themselves followers of Sistani and the Shia religious establishment in Iraq. Militias that fall into these last two categories are more likely to be nationalist and wary of Iran.

The groups have little in common, according to experts.

“Their commonality is basically [being] anti-ISIS, and that’s it,” said Renad Mansour, a fellow at Chatham House, an independent policy institute in London. “Once you stop talking about ISIS as an external threat, they actually have a lot of differences amongst each other, ideological, strategic and administrative differences. What brings them together is this fight.”

In answering  question of  how many fighters do they have, the article states:

It’s hard to say. Estimates have put the number at around 100,000, but because of the informal structure of the militias, it’s impossible to provide a precise number.

“There isn’t a database. It’s not like enlisted soldiers with salary payments, so it’s really hard to tell,” said Mansour. While some militias are well established, others “are really just neighborhood watches and armed groups.”

By comparison, a recent analysis by Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute, puts the strength of Iraq’s security forces in May 2014 at 221,000 — shortly before the army’s collapse in Mosul.

The US has no interest in working with the Shi’a militias as stated by Frontline:

The U.S. government has long maintained that it does not support the militias — and it has even gone so far as to officially label groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades, also known as Kataib Hezbollah, as terrorist organizations. Coalition-supported offensives against ISIS in 2015 and 2016 saw a careful dance with U.S.-led airstrikes trying to stay away from areas where Shia militias were spearheading the assault.

“We do not enable Shia-backed militia at all,” former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told FRONTLINE in August 2016. “We only support and enable forces that are subordinate to Prime Minister [Haider al-Abadi]. This is fundamental, because the hell of Iraq has been sectarian violence.”

Was Qatar by way of making a deal for the release of hostages and payment of ransom, supporting terrorism?

A simple yes or no answer isn’t possible.  The central problem is that there are so many extremist groups with different agendas, it is a terrible mistake to lump them into one large international group, capable of doing harm everywhere.  The Syrians backed by Iran and Russia, would consider the anti-government rebels fighting Assad as terrorists, in the same group as al Qaeda and ISIL.

We in the US have our own national terrorists, who want to promote their agenda through violence.  The neo-Nazi’s groups in the US aren’t about to jump on a plane, and cause trouble in Mali, for example.

It is certain none of the ransom money went to the Sunni based terrorist groups that the US and Europe are focused on:  ISIL, al Qaeada, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and the Taliban.   In fact, it may be channeled to Shia militia fighting against ISIL or the rebel forces against Bashar Assad in Syria.  However,  Shi’a along with the revolutionary guard  CUDS force of Iran, backing anti-Israel groups, like Hamas and Hezbollah.   So, is the enemy of my enemy,  may be at times both my enemy and my friend.  The Frontline story really needs to be read, to get the all the details.

I am more swayed by the fact that Qatar had no good options as they were trying to get the release of royal family members.  It was a life or death situation.  Qatar did not intentionally want  to support groups with possible ties to Iran or  sectarian violence within Iraq.  As 2,000 Iraqi’s could be evacuated,  the ransom secured more than 26 lives.

In any case, many news articles state the payment of ransom was the last straw for Saudi Arabia and the other GCC countries to take action against Qatar. However, I am more convinced that Saudi Arabia saw this as an opportunity in making the case for the other Persian Gulf Sunni-based countries to sever their diplomatic relations with Qatar.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Al Jazeera: Qatari hunters kidnapped

New York Times Report

Frontline: Iraq Shi’a Militias

Wikipedia:  Qatar in Crisis

Al Jazeera: Qatar Diplomatic Crisis: Latest Updates

 

 

Qatar Crisis – Part 3, 2014 Disunity in the GCC and other events

The current crisis has its roots in the events of 2014.   The six members of the GCC had split into two groups, the Saudi aligned group (Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain) and the unaligned group (Oman, Kuwait and Qatar).

What really split the GCC was the election of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi,  in June  2012  with the strong support of the Muslim Brotherhood.  A stated in Wikipedia:

Morsi has seen strong support from Qatar, which has maintained long-held ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi was a member until his election. Qatar has declared that it would provide Egypt with US$2 billion just as Morsi announced the reshuffle in the cabinet on 12 August 2012.  Meanwhile, investors from Qatar have pledged to invest 10 billion in Egyptian infrastructure.

As stated in the Al Jazeera article:

Along with the general challenge of change and support for democratisation, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, was seen as undermining the legitimacy and potentially the political stability of some of the GCC states. While some of the GCC countries embarked on a quest to counteract the revolutions, and to contain the changes they had given birth to, Qatar supported the uprisings, as well as their effects on the region’s politics, economics and press freedom.

Qatar’s support for the uprisings clashed head-on with the policies and efforts of other GCC states. Thus, the Riyadh meeting and first agreement were an attempt by GCC states to discourage Qatar from pursuing its policies on the Arab Spring. When Qatar continued supporting the popular movements and uprisings, the withdrawal of ambassadors represented a kind of political censure, urging Doha to stop acting in ways that conflicted with the interests of other GCC states.

Arab Spring resulted in violence in many of the Arab countries, and the overthrow of four governments: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.  It is beyond the scope of this blog to go back to December 18, 2010, but it has to be one of the most incredible stories in recent time, of how one push cart vendor in Tunisia ignited rebellions in throughout the  Arab world which in the case of the Syrian civil war, continue until today.

A Wikipedia link is provided on the Muslim Brotherhood, and a commentary of the growing antagonism between Egypt and Saudi Arabia with Qatar’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood and other organizations,  Hamas and Hezbollah.

There were many other events causing tensions in the area.  Certainly, President Obama’s Iran nuclear arms deal was a concern to Saudi Arabia.   Donald Trump’s visit in 2017 to Saudi Arabia was likely considered a positive, as the focus was to single out Iran as the state sponsor of terrorism.  Qatar with its close relation to Iran, could be seen as aiding and abetting the enemy.

Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia seemed to avoid the most critical elements of ISIL terrorist activities in European countries, in which Muslims had become radicalized through “hate propaganda” aimed at taking advantage of their feelings of isolation and non-acceptance in society.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

Wikipedia:  Muslim Brotherhood

National Interest:  Qatar vs. Saudi Arabia

Washington Post: How Saudi Arabia played Trump’s Visit

 

 

 

Qatar Crisis – Part 4, The crisis continues to escalate!

It is June 10, 2017 in the US and another day has ended in Qatar.  Things are getting worse. From Saudi Arabia, the strategy is escalation not reconciliation.

Make no mistake about it-  This is not 2014.  This is not a diplomatic rift.  Further, I don’t believe it is really about terrorism, at least the Sunni-based al Qaeda, ISIL, and a host of other groups, which have motivated lone wolf attacks in Europe and the US.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of the daily events was Donald Trump’s tweets early in the crisis where he is actually takes credit for the crisis, siding with the Saudi’s.   The Secretary of State,  Rex Tillerson,  did just the opposite, stating we would work with all parties in reconciliation.  This was almost immediately contradicted by President Trump, who seemed to support Saudi Arabia pressuring Qatar to stop supporting  terrorism.      Russian FM Lavrov has step in as the negotiator of the crisis.

Imagine that, Lavrov and Tillerson with similar position, and Trump seeing this as an extension of his trip and comments that the Middle East countries need to cut funding of extremist groups, allied with Iran. (see links below)  Kuwait is likely will play also role as a negotiator between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  But with so many countries now cutting ties with Qatar, it is escalating every day.

I believe the  Houti attacks in Yemen are still  Saudi Arabia’s  main focus.   They knew exactly how to play Trump in directing his focus to Iran, as the key player.

Right now, Qatar needs food and water, which Turkey has agreed to bring in by air.   Iran also offered assistance, but Qatar smartly declined this assistance.

Syria is unable to supply LNG to UAE, so Shell is making the deliveries.   What’s next?  Saudi Arabia is  trying to economically attack Qatar by restricting access to its air space.  If the other Gulf countries join in,  they could cripple Qatar Air.

The other target is the Al-Jazeera news networks.  In my opinion, it is one of the best at “old fashion” journalism, getting the facts quickly and accurately.   Going lean on commentary and strong on onsite reporting, keeps their reporting honest.  It is not what Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain or UAE want.    However, I don’t see how Qatar could ever agree to rein in Al Jazeera.

The Trump administration through  the US Secretary of Defense, General Mattis  finally acknowledged that the Saudi Arabian blockade would make operations in the US airbase in Qatar difficult, and hurt their anti terrorist activities against ISIL    What is at stake is the break up of the GCC and countries having to align themselves only with Saudi Arabia or Iran.  It will lead to more chaos in the area.

Qatar could cut natural gas supplies to UAE, causing enormous electrical shortages.   Nothing good will come of this, as the UAE will then need to retaliate.

Exactly how a deal could be struck to resolve this crisis is uncertain.   Right now,  Qatar is bracing for the worse.  The US has military bases in both Bahrain and Qatar, and strong commercial interests throughout the Persian Gulf, so really we can’t afford to pick sides.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

Links:

Trump dumps Qatar Alliance via Twitter and takes credit for Gulf States Cutting Ties (June 6, 2017)

Wikipedia:  Qatar in Crisis

Al Jazeera: Qatar Diplomatic Crisis: Latest Updates

Russia urges dialogue in Qatar Crisis

Trump picks sides not diplomacy in Gulf

 

 

 

 

Comey’s testimony

The manner in which the Senate Intelligence Committee held its hearing was excellent.  I think the really critical point came, as one senator asked in essence, who should we believe?  Comey appeared at first to duck the question, then came back with an excellent reply, that in court, jurists rely on the totality of evidence before making a judgment.   The really critical meeting, now called the Valentine day meeting,  took place with only Comey and Trump present.   Comey says Trump said he hoped the FBI Director could let the Flynn investigation go.   Trump denies this discussion took place.   I believe Comey, just based on  Trump’s history.   But,  with just the two of them talking,  this is not going to be enough for impeachment or a criminal charge of obstruction of justice.   There was no follow-up by Trump to see the investigation of Flynn was stopped.

Now, my prediction.   The special prosecutor will charge Flynn with lying to FBI investigators, and numerous other offenses.  This will follow with a full presidential pardon for General Flynn.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Fora Temer

If you are not Brazilian, the title of this blog likely means nothing. It literally means “Oust Temer.”  Brazilians hope that  their president will either be impeached or resign.  Currently, resignation does not appear to be likely.

My latest information is that in about six months time, Temer will be impeached on the grounds of corruption.  He never was elected, but took over after President Dilma Rousseff was impeached.

Dilma was sent packing in August 2016.   She became very unpopular in 2015 after Brazil’s economy went into recession due to falling commodity prices, most importantly oil and iron.  It was suspected that she had some involvement in the Car Wash (Lavo Jato) scandal, which involved kickbacks on contracts from Petrobras, but there was never any proof of this.  She was impeached due to “creative accounting” as follows:

Brazilian governments are required to meet budget surplus targets set in Congress. Ms Rousseff is accused of allowing creative accounting techniques involving loans from public banks to the treasury that artificially enhanced the budget surplus.

This gave the appearance that government accounts were in better shape than they actually were. The surplus is one of the measures taken into account by investors of how sound an economy is.

Ms Rousseff has always maintained she did not act criminally in budgetary affairs.
She says many other presidents, mayors and state governors always used the same creative accounting techniques and were never punished for them.

The president says this is merely being used as a legal excuse – that her impeachment is nothing but an attempted coup by the opposition.

The Lavo Jato scandal was enormous with investigations of 232 persons, including former Brazilian  President Lula.

Rousseff has claimed that her Vice President Temer at the time, was disloyal, and plotted with the opposition party to get rid of her.

President Temer is not being impeached for the Car Wash scandal, although many believe he had some involvement.   He is being impeached  for a meat inspection bribery scandal, called the “JBS meat scandal.” See link to the New York Times:

New York Times: JBS Meat Scandal

JBS is described as a global meat packing empire, and its CEO, Joesley Batista, has a tape recording between Temer and himself, implicating Temer in bribery corruption scandal. Temer claims the tape has been doctored, so technical experts will be need to authenticate the recording.

Impeachment proceedings may take at least  six months, so the legislature could send Temer packing before Christmas.  The next President would be a stand in, as elections will be held in 2018.

The economy of Brazil is likely not change much, with an enormous differences between the very wealthy upper class, and the large, poorly educated lower class.  Unemployment is likely to be above 10% but this  does not tell the full story, with high unemployment in the lower paying jobs.

Perhaps, what is missed is that through these impeachments, the concept of three branches of government, is working as it is designed. Companies can’t just slip bribes to legislators or the executive branch for favors.  At least sometimes they get caught by the courts and the penalties can be severe.

Democracies collapse as in Venezuela, when the executive branch colludes with the legislature to limit the power of the courts.  Or the president simply ignores the power of the courts.  What should emerge finally from Brazil, is the three branches of government are still sufficiently independent to keep the democratic process working.   A corrupt free Brazil is not around the corner, but neither is the situation in Venezuela or a number of African counties (Burundi and Zimbabwe come to mind) where democracy has vanished.

And it is further hoped that more  honest Brazilians will enter politics, in an effort to improve the government ruled by the people of Brazil.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

How much of Trump’s speech on exiting the Paris Accords was true?

It was an amazing concoction of false statements and misleading or invalid statistics.   Of course, this is Trump’s style.  The transcript of the speech is shown below:

Transcript of the speech

In fact, it is hard to find anything remotely honest in the entire speech.  All the dire economic consequences of the Accords were from an outside consulting study (NERA)  based on  highly unrealistic set of assumptions. The NERA study had other scenarios with more realistic assumptions.  It was produced in March 2017 and paid for by a conservative political organization.    None of the economic projections were  based on EPA studies.  Other studies  have repeatedly shown many positives to our economy, including  investments in clean energy will  create many high paying jobs.

It would have been a simple  2 minute speech if it were a honest one, as it would read, “Steve Bannon and the extreme conservatives don’t like the accord, because like the UN itself, we spend money to help solve the world’s problem.  Plus, global warming isn’t like crime in the streets; it doesn’t make big headlines in the news.”

Trump began his speech by mentioning the  casino attack in the Philippines as  a terrorist attack.  It was a botched robbery according to police.  But, at the time of the speech, ISIS had claimed responsibility, as they are prone to do with almost  any mass killings.  So, Trump has as supporting evidence, only ISIS.

Trump mentioned a long list of achievements, which really overlap with the Obama administration.    The job increase was really inline with gains in employment seen from about October 2016 until now.  Nothing remarkable.

The word “Global Warming” was not in Trump’s speech, nor is there any admission of a problem of our carbon emission.  His line, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh not Paris” received applause from those gathered in the Rose Garden.   The Paris Accord is a world agreement of 193 counties which could have been agreed upon in Pittsburgh.

It is a voluntary agreement, where each country makes pledges or commitments to reduce their own emissions.  Some environmentalists were disappointed at how low the targets were, but at least there were these basic elements (1) Admission that a global problem exists (2) Carbon emissions by the 193 countries can be monitored and reported to the United Nations (3) Each country is free to determine how they will reduce their emissions and (4) Developed countries will each set up a “Green Fund” to assist undeveloped countries in developing technology and programs to produce clean energy.

The citizens of Pittsburgh will pay more for food,  along with the rest of the US, as flooding and violent storms increases due to global warming. To keep our farms functioning,  taxpayers will continue to subsidize crop insurance, right now about 26 billion dollars.  It’s going to get a whole lot worse.  Sea levels will rise and places like Florida will have a difficult time with their fresh water supply.

With the dismantling of the Clean Power Act, solar energy investments will slow and jobs will be lost.  Coal employment (~60,000 employees) is not going to recover because power plants will use natural gas.   A good example is Cloud Peak Energy, which had a market cap of 500 million on November 7, 2016, now is reduced in half to 250 million.   Peabody Coal came out of bankruptcy on April 10, 2017 and so far has lost about 10% in market value  (market cap losses = 235 million dollars).

I saw on the news last night, a wonderful woman from West Virginia saying, “I’m not a climate change denier.”

Now the fact checking:

Factcheck.org

Politifact.com

The  economic statistics were generated in March 2017 by a consulting firm, which Trump pulled some statistics based on some extreme assumptions.

The Paris Accords were terribly miss  characterized by Trump.  Each country has pledged targets for carbon emissions and it is up to each country to develop programs or technologies to achieve these goals. Some countries are doing well in achieving their target goals.

I like how Politifact.com described the economic statistics:

Trump cited a number of negative statistics about the predicted economic impact from the climate deal, including a $3 trillion drop in gross domestic product, 6.5 million industrial sector jobs lost and 86 percent reduction in coal production, all by 2040.

Take these statistics with a grain of salt.

It’s just more BS, to be honest.

Politifact.com  and factcheck.org  websites found very similar dishonest statements.

Economic statistics:  Based on a flawed study

The statement, “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. But, we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement.”  is not in the agreement.

Statement, “At 3-4% growth, as I expect, we will need all forms of American energy, or our country will be at grave risk of brownouts and blackouts.”

A growth rate of 3 to 4% hasn’t happened in the last 12 years.  The red hot economy of 2005 ended with the collapse of housing market in 2007, and the recession lasting through 2009.  What seems immensely absent in the speech, is that fossil fuels are non-renewable fuels. Their extraction is becoming more expensive not because of regulation, but because we have used up so much of the easy to extract fossil fuels.

Global warming needs carbon emissions monitoring and goal setting.  Obama set this in motion.  Trump just denies the problem exists.  Trump is not making the country great.  He is making China great by sacrificing our technological leadership in clean energy.   June 1, 2017 was a disgraceful day, as we exited the world accord on global warming with a speech with a rapid fire series of flawed statistics and dishonest conclusions.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covfefe

I normally do not post emails from others, but I am making an exception in this case, as sent from Egwandabealha of North Buganda.

O how my people are so proud and honored that your esteemed President has brought to the world’s attention, our secret agricultural miracle, covfefe.  Coming straight from the digestive system of our magnificent cows, we are indeed blessed with bountiful quantities of covfefe, to grow the best corn, strawberries and tomatoes  in all of North Buganda.   I shall invite President Trump to our next Festival of Covfefe, where he may dance with us, as he did so well in Saudi Arabia.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

The Paris Accords Exit

The announcement will be made at 3:00 pm today (June 1, 2017).    It has been widely rumored that Trump will pull out of the Accords.  The Agreement was a very major step forward in acceptance of a global problem.

CNN outlined three options that Trump has: (1) The Normal Exit- by withdrawing from the Accords by 2020 (2) The Radical  Exit- by withdrawing from the UN organization (UNFCCC) under which the Accords were agreed upon and (3) The non-exit, which Trump simply ignores the provisions of the Accords.

The radical exit is the one supported by conservative groups,  such as the Heritage group.  The coal companies such as Peabody and Cloud Peak Coal, want Trump not to exit the Accords, as this puts the EU in a leadership role in setting targets.

Options

A final option (“death in the legislature” option)  is for Trump to  state the Accord is really a treaty, which must be ratified by 2/3 of the Senate.  With the Republican controlled Senate, the treaty would be “dead on arrival.”   This would change the issue to one of Obama overstepping his authority, and Trump might just go for it.

The Paris Agreement is more of an “agreement in principal”  rather than a treaty, as it lacks any penalties for countries who do not reduce their carbon emissions. It is an important first step as it is an  agreement of mutual commitment  to a global problem.   As it is structured,  the US could stay in the Accords,  do nothing to reduce these emissions and not be sanctioned by the UN.

Obama signed the agreement as an Executive Order.  Trump can legally exit the agreement, but has to comply with the set schedule if he wants to do the normal exit.

I predict that many countries will be looking more at the “non-exit” or “non-compliance” option, which means climate change is something leaders of the countries are concerned about, but  nobody does much about it.

This will leave the US as the only one of 193 countries to exit the Accord.

Stay tuned,

Dave