Thursday, 21 September 2017

Hurricane Maria - update - evening 09/20.2017

Maria Back Over Water After Devastating Hit to Puerto Rico

September 20, 2017, 5:53 PM EDT

Above: Damage on the Lesser Antilles island of Dominica, after Hurricane Maria hit as a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds. Maria killed at least 7 people on Dominica, and 2 on neighboring Guadeloupe. Image from a video by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.
https://www.wunderground.com/cat6/maria-back-over-water-after-devastating-hit-puerto-rico

After making landfall in southeast Puerto Rico near 6:15 am Wednesday as a top-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, Hurricane Maria finished a devastating pummeling of the island near 1:30 pm, when its eye emerged over the ocean off the northwest coast. An Air Force hurricane hunter aircraft found that Maria’s 70-mile traverse of Puerto Rico had knocked the top winds of the storm down to 110 mph by 5 pm Wednesday, making it a high-end Category 2 hurricane. Satellite images show the hurricane is still well-organized, though, and the Hurricane Hunters found that Maria’s pressure was falling again late Wednesday afternoon: 957 mb at 5 pm, compared to a 961 mb reading at 2 pm. Maria will continue to bring dangerous torrential rains and powerful winds to Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic into Thursday.
Infrared GOES-16 image of Hurricane Maria at 5:15 pm EDT Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Figure 1. Infrared GOES-16 image of Hurricane Maria at 5:15 pm EDT Wednesday, September 20, 2017. GOES-16 data are preliminary and non-operational. Image credit: RAMMB / CIRA @ CSU.
Maria brought extreme rainfall amounts to large portions of Puerto Rico that caused record or near-record flash flooding. Numerous stations in Puerto Rico recorded rainfall amounts in excess of ten inches. Rainfall amounts in excess of 47 inches in 24 hours were recorded at three stations on the southwest side of El Yunque, the high mountainous area in the northeast corner of Puerto Rico; these are so extreme as to be unbelievable, and the gauges may have been impacted by flash flooding, or by a callibration problem at extreme precipitaion rates:
96.65” at Quebrada Arenas, including 67.75” in one hour ending at 6 am.
72.07” at Barrio Montones, including 34.04” in one hour ending at 8:45 am.
47.25” at Rio Valenciano, including 19.66” in one hour ending at 7:11 am.
These rainfall amounts would break virtually every world record for precipitation, and are highly likely to be in error. Water levels at the Rio Gurabo at Gurabo, where the nearby Gurabo Abajo rain gauge recorded 23.64” of rain in less than 24 hours, jumped by 27 feet in less than 12 hours (see Figure 2), so that rainfall amount is believable.
Water levels at Rio Gurabo at Gurabo, on the southwest side of El Yunque, shot up 27 feet in less than 12 hours
Figure 2. Water levels at Rio Gurabo at Gurabo, on the southwest side of El Yunque, shot up 27 feet in less than 12 hours. The river crested just 0.76’ below the record set during Hurricane Donna of 1960. Image credit: NOAA.

An island-wide power outage in Puerto Rico

Not since the great Category 5 1928 San Felipe Segundo hurricane has Puerto Rico experienced a hurricane catastrophe as extreme as that wrought by Hurricane Maria. The storm’s powerful winds caused catastrophic damage to the island’s power grid, knocking out power to 100% of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents. In the Virgin Islands, there was also heavy damage on St. Croix, and serious flooding has been reported on St. Thomas. Maria is almost assured to be the most expensive hurricane in Puerto Rico history, and may challenge Hurricane Hugo (1989) and Irma (2 weeks ago) as the most expensive hurricane on record for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Moderate storm surge flooding from Maria
Storm surge flooding of 1.5 – 5.3 feet affected locations along coasts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands where we have tide gauges. Storm surge damage will not be the big story from this hurricane, though--wind damage and inland flash flood damage will be. According to the Quicklook page at NOAA’s Tides and Currents, here are the peak storm surges from Maria:
5.3’, Yabucoa Harbor, PR
2.8’, Vieques Island, PR
2.5’, Mayaguez, PR
2.4’, Arecibo, PR
2.3’, San Juan, PR
2.0’, Christiansted Harbor on the north side of St. Croix, VI
1.7’, Culebra Island, PR
1.5’, St. John, VI

Forecast for Maria

Satellite imagery late Wednesday showed that Maria’s eye was already beginning to clear out after becoming cloud-filled during its path across Puerto Rico. Maria will be traversing very warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) of around 29°C into the weekend, and there is substantial oceanic heat content along its path that will help keep Maria from churning up cooler water that might dent its strength (see Figure 3 below). Wind shear around Maria will remain less than 10 knots into Thursday, which also suggests restrengthening; also, there are no large masses of dry air that would impede growth. Starting late Friday, wind shear is predicted to increase to the 15 – 20 knot range; this would suppress further strengthening and might eventually weaken Maria. Moreover, at least part of Maria’s circulation will pass over the cold wake left by Jose (see Figure 3), which may also cut into Maria’s strength somewhat. These conditions suggest Maria will become at least a mid-strength Category 3 hurricane with 120 mph winds, and has a shot to regain Category 4 status.
Oceanic heat content along Maria's path, 9/20/2017
Figure 3. Total Ocean Heat Content (OHC) along the track of Hurricane Maria. Maria had very high OHC values of 80 – 110 kilojoules per square centimeter during its rapid intensification phase just east of the Lesser Antilles and in the northeast Caribbean. OHC values will continue to be high until the storm reaches 27°N, when it will begin crossing the cold wake left behind by Hurricane Jose, which performed a clockwise loop in that vicinity over a 3-day period last week. Image credit: Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami.
Maria will be steered northwest and eventually north over the next five days, around the edge of an upper-level ridge situated to its east. By Monday, Maria is expected to be a strong Category 2 or 3 hurricane positioned several hundred miles southeast of the North Carolina coast, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina are close to being in NHC’s 5-day cone of unceratinty. In the subsequent 5- to 7-day forecast range, there is more uncertainty than usual on how close Maria might get to the U.S. East Coast, since the hurricane’s track will depend upon how fast Jose decays, and where Jose moves. As Tropical Storm Jose weakens (see below), it is possible that the Atlantic ridge could build west and block Maria’s progress, forcing the storm to move toward the north-northwest to a landfall between North Carolina and New Jersey. Alternatively, a trough of low pressure passing to the north of Maria next week, in combination with the remains of Jose, may pull Maria to the east northeast without the storm making landfall along the mid-Atlantic coast. In this case, though, Maria might still be a threat to New England—particularly Southeast Massachusetts—or possibly the Canadian maritime provinces. Maria would most likely be at tropical storm strength in this scenario, due to the cool waters north of North Carolina.
Visible GOES-16 image of Tropical Storm Jose at 2:57 pm EDT Wednesday, September 20, 2017.
Figure 4. Visible GOES-16 image of Tropical Storm Jose at 2:57 pm EDT Wednesday, September 20, 2017. Image credit: RAMMB / CIRA @ CSU.

Jose spinning down south of New England

Downgraded late Tuesday after more than 12 days at hurricane strength, Tropical Storm Jose continued its ever-so-gradual weakening off the coast of New England on Wednesday. At 2 pm EDT, Jose was located about 140 miles south-southeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Jose’s top sustained winds were 70 mph, just below hurricane force, but a broad field of tropical-storm-force winds extended more than 200 miles south of Jose’s center. A NOAA buoy about 65 miles southeast of Nantucket notched winds of 40 mph, gusting to 52 mph. Top winds as of 2 pm at Nantucket’s airportwere a mere 32 mph, gusting to 43 mph, and just 0.54” of rain had fallen since midnight.
Although Jose bears some resemblance to a nor’easter or a hybrid storm on satellite, phase-space diagrams from Florida State University show that it remains a warm-core tropical cyclone. Tropical storm warnings remained in effectWednesday afternoon for the outermost islands of southeast New England. Most of Jose’s modest rainbands were located west of its large eye, with a few brushing southeastern Massachusetts.
Models agree that Jose will continue its slow decline over waters that are too cool to sustain a tropical cyclone. Now moving northeast at 7 mph, Jose is expected to slow down and then begin looping back westward on Thursday. The official NHC forecast holds Jose stationary near 70°W longitude as a weakening post-tropical cyclone from Saturday through Monday. The 12Z run of the European model goes with the stationary solution. However, the GFS, HWRF, and HMON models keep Jose or its remnants heading west, reaching New Jersey late Sunday or Monday with minimal impact other than some breezy showers.
Jose is much weaker than Maria, so it should have little direct effect on Maria’s track regardless of where it ends up. The importance of Jose is in its effect on upper-level ridging to its west and east. The weakness created by Jose will make it difficult for the Atlantic ridge to build west and block Maria’s northward motion. If Jose does weaken quickly enough, it is possible the ridge will strengthen enough to at least slow Maria down, as discussed above.
Statistics on rapid intensifier hurricanes of 2017
Figure 5. The four rapid-intensifier hurricanes of 2017, compared with Hurricane Wilma of 2005. Shown are the last periods in which the hurricanes were at various levels (tropical depression, tropical storm, or Category 1 hurricane) along with the intervals from that point to the first point at which they achieved their top rating (either Cat 4 or 5).

This year is chock-full of rapidly intensifying hurricanes

If it seems like this year’s Category 4 and 5 storms made it to that level in a big hurry, you’re not imagining things. In the Washington Post, Chris Mooney spotlights a few of the leaps in strength that this year’s four major Atlantic hurricanes have taken, including:
Harvey:  Cat 1 to Cat 4 in 24 hours
Irma:  Cat 3 to Cat 5 in 24 hours
Jose:  Cat 1 to Cat 4 in 24 hours
Maria:  Cat 1 to Cat 4 in 12 hours, and Cat 1 to Cat 5 in 15 hours
Most of the rapid intensification records for major Atlantic hurricanes were set by 2005’s phenomenal Hurricane Wilma. However, Maria has tied Wilma for the fastest vault from tropical depression to Cat 5 hurricane (54 hours), as shown in Figure 5 above.
Bob Henson co-wrote this post.

Instruments indicate Puerto Rico river has risen 62 feet!

On discussion it is agreed that this HAS to be broken instrumentation.


Apocalyptic Flood: Puerto Rico River Rises 62ft ABOVE flood stage - Extreme Flash Flood

Insane flash flooding none like ever before seen probably anywhere on earth if this data is accurate. Once again, unprecedented.


IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE?!!

I sure hope that the instrumentation is wrong because it says that the river right next to s a hospital in Puerto Rico has risen 62 FEET!!!






Island of Puerto Rico 'destroyed' by Hurricane Maria

Iran's Hassan Rouhani at the UN

President Hassan Rouhani Speech at UN

President Rouhani talked about the 2015 nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

"Iran does not threat anybody and the same way will not bend to anybody’s threat." President Rouhani




Transcript

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish at the outset to congratulate your election to the Presidency of the General Assembly and Secretary-General Guterres’ election to his high office and wish him every success in his crucial responsibilities.

Four months ago, over 41 million people—constituting 73% of Iran’s total eligible voters—came to the polls in the country’s 12th presidential election and once again expressed confidence in my platform, which calls for moderation and respect for human rights and prosperity and economic revitalization at home, and constructive engagement around the world. Their vote manifested the maturity of the electorate in a society that has experienced free and democratic governance for only four decades.  This was not merely a vote for a president, but a huge political investment by our population; a resilient people who truly constitute our most reliable asset.

Human and citizens’ rights, along with the quest for justice and Islamic values, have constituted the most pivotal demands of the Iranian people in over 150 years of struggle, and particularly in the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In its first term, while pursuing nuclear negotiations internationally, my government focused at home on the deliberation and articulation of citizens’ rights leading to the promulgation of “The Charter of Citizens’ Rights” and its issuance for implementation. Adoption of this Charter conformed to the demands of a people who rose against dictatorial regimes, aspiring to restore their rights and human dignity 111 years ago in the Constitutional Revolution, and again in the Islamic Revolution 39 years ago.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I declare before this august global assembly that moderation is the inclination as well as the chosen path of the great Iranian people. Moderation seeks neither isolation nor hegemony; It implies neither indifference, nor intransigence.

The path of moderation is the path of peace; but a just and inclusive peace: not peace for one nation, and war and turmoil for others;

Moderation is freedom and democracy; but in an inclusive and comprehensive manner: not purporting to promote freedom in one place while supporting dictators elsewhere;

Moderation is the synergy of ideas and not the dance of words; 

And finally, the path of moderation nurtures beauty.  Deadly-weapons exports are not beautiful; rather, peace is. 

We in Iran strive to build peace and promote the human rights of peoples and nations. We never condone tyranny and we always defend the voiceless. We never threaten anyone; but we do not tolerate threats from anyone.  Our discourse is one of dignity and respect, and we are unmoved by threats and intimidation.   We believe in dialogue and negotiation based on equal footing and mutual respect.

In today’s globalized world, peace, security, stability and the progress of all nations are intertwined. It is not possible that a rogue and racist regime trample upon the most basic rights of the Palestinians, and the usurpers of this land enjoy security.  It is simply impossible for anybody to aspire to attain long-term stability, prosperity and development, while Muslims in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Myanmar and so many other places live in misery, war and poverty.
Mr. President,

Throughout its history, Iran has been the bastion of tolerance for various religions and ethnicities.  We are the same people who rescued the Jews from Babylonian servitude; opened our arms to welcome Armenian Christians in our midst, and created the “Iranian cultural continent” with a unique mix of diverse religions and ethnicities. I represent the same Iran that has historically assisted the oppressed: centuries ago, we supported the rights of the Jewish people and today we insist on the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people.  Iran is the still the same country: supporting justice and seeking tranquility.

Today, we are on the frontlines of fighting terror and religious extremism in the Middle east; not for sectarian or ethnic reasons, but for an ethical, humanitarian and strategic one.

Iran does not seek to restore its ancient empire, impose its official religion on others, or export its revolution through the force of arms.  We are so confident in the depth of our culture, the truth of our faith and tenacity and longevity of our revolution that we will never seek to export any of them in the way neo-colonialists do, with the heavy boots of soldiers.

To promote our culture, civilization, religion and revolution, we enter hearts and engage minds. We recite our poetry and engage in discourse on our philosophy.
Our ambassadors are our poets, our mystics and our philosophers.  We have reached the shores of this side of the Atlantic through Rumi and spread our influence throughout Asia with Saadi. We have already captured the world with Hafez; we therefore are in no need of new conquests.

Excellencies,

The call of moderation is from a nation that has been committed to it. We are not preaching moderation, but practicing it.  The JCPOA is a case in point.

The deal is the outcome of two years of intensive multilateral negotiations, overwhelmingly applauded by the international community and endorsed by the Security Council as a part of Resolution 2231.  As such, it belongs to the international community in its entirety, and not to only one or two countries.


The JCPOA can become a new model for global interactions; interactions based on mutual constructive engagement between all of us.  We have opened our doors to engagement and cooperation.  We have concluded scores of development agreements with advanced countries of both East and West.  Unfortunately, some have deprived themselves of this unique opportunity. They have imposed sanctions really against themselves, and now they feel betrayed. 

We were not deceived, nor did we cheat or deceive anyone.  We have ourselves determined the extent of our nuclear program.  We never sought to achieve deterrence through nuclear weapons; we have immunized ourselves through our knowledge and – more importantly — the resilience of our people. This is our talent and our approach.  Some have claimed to have wanted to deprive Iran of nuclear weapons; weapons that we have continuously and vociferously rejected.  

And, of course, we were not and are not distressed for forgoing an option that we in fact never sought.  It is reprehensible that the rogue Zionist regime that threatens regional and global security with its nuclear arsenal and is not committed to any international instrument or safeguard, has the audacity to preach peaceful nations.

Just imagine for a minute how the Middle East would look had the JCPOA not been concluded.  Imagine that along with civil wars, Takfiri terror, humanitarian nightmares, and complex socio-political crises in West Asia, that there was a manufactured nuclear crisis. How would we all are?

I declare before you that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not be the first country to violate the agreement; but it will respond decisively and resolutely to its violation by any party.  It will be a great pity if this agreement were to be destroyed by “rogue” newcomers to the world of politics: the world will have lost a great opportunity. But such unfortunate behavior will never impede Iran’s course of progress and advancement.    By violating its international commitments, the new U.S. administration only destroys its own credibility and undermines international confidence in negotiating with it, or accepting its word or promise.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Four years ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran sponsored the initiative of the World Against Violence and Extremism (WAVE) in this Assembly. We consider dialogue and negotiations based on a positive-sum paradigm as the only path towards the resolution of global and regional crises.  We have made a conscious decision to strengthen relations with our neighbors and the region, and to enhance cooperation with all friendly countries. It is impossible to navigate through the complex and dangerous challenges in this turbulent transitional global phase without expanding interactions and exchanges and institutionalizing dialogue between nations and states.

The ignorant, absurd and hateful rhetoric, filled with ridiculously baseless allegations, that was uttered before this august body yesterday, was not only unfit to be heard at the United Nations – which was established to promote peace and respect between nations – but indeed contradicted the demands of our nations from this world body to bring governments together to combat war and terror.

I wish to underscore here that the defense capabilities of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including our missiles, are solely defensive deterrents for the maintenance of regional peace and stability and the prevention of adventurist tendencies of irrational aspirants. We cannot forget that civilians in many of our cities became the targets of long-range missile attacks by Saddam Hussein during his 8-year war of aggression against us. We will never allow our people to become victims of such catastrophic delusions again.

Instability and extremist violence have only been exacerbated in our region through the military interventions of extra-regional actors – the same powers that try to sell ever more of their deadly weapons to other states by accusing Iran of fomenting instability. I want to emphasize that foreign intervention and the imposition of alien wishes on the people of the region will only widen and deepen the crises in our region. The crises in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain do not have military solutions and can only be resolved through cessation of hostilities, and the acceptance of the will and wishes of the populaces.

The United States Government should explain to its own people why, after spending billions of dollars of the assets of the people of America and of our region, instead of contributing to peace and stability, it has only brought war, misery, poverty and the rise of terrorism and extremism to the region.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the past 4 years, Iran’s economy demonstrated that it has unparalleled potential for expansion and growth. Economic sanctions not only did not impede Iran, but instead solidified popular resolve to enhance domestic production.  Achieving the highest global growth rate last year proved that Iranian economy can become the most vibrant emerging economy within the next twenty years, with a trillion-dollar growth potential.  Our strategic choice for achieving such sustainable and balanced growth is extensive global partnership.  We are of the firm belief that development and security can only grow together, and common interests can bind us regionally and globally to guarantee both regional and global security.

Iran, enjoying the world’s largest gas and oil reserves, is prepared to engage in long-term cooperation to advance global energy security.  We are eager to expand international transit corridors through joint ventures in sea, rail and road infrastructure projects.  Our achievements in enhancing economic infrastructures in the fields of a nation-wide gas pipeline, national electricity grid, and rail and road transport, have made it possible for various industries to produce at lower cost, with easy access to national and regional markets. With the current conducive legal environment, many delegations of foreign investors have come to Iran, leading to an ever-increasing number of investments, joint ventures and financing agreements in various fields.

It is the policy of my government to continue to steadily enhance the entrepreneurial environment, protect intellectual property rights, continuously improve corporate governance, and engage in a robust campaign against money-laundering in order to enhance a conducive legal climate for business and economic investments in various fields, particularly in knowledge-based enterprises.

The Iranian nation is resolutely determined to build a free and advanced Iran and participate in the development of a secure and stable region based on ethics and respect for international law.  In this endeavor, we welcome the participation and cooperation of all investors, intellectuals and innovators from across the globe.  From this global podium, and as the representative of the people of Iran – who are world-famous for their hospitality – I invite all those who seek peace, security and progress through partnership and cooperation among nations to visit Iran and join us in building this future of hope.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If we truly believe in our collective decision four years ago here in this General assembly to make a WAVE – a World Against Violence and Extremism – we can turn the discourse of imposition, unilateralism, intimidation and war into the logic of dialogue, synergy and peace so that moderation can become the dominant voice across the globe.

I thank you for your attention.


Commentary on Trump's UN speech

America is now the Fourth Reich

Responses to Trump’s speech in the UN


Listening to The Donald at the UN


Saker drawing from community
This article was written for the Unz Review
Late this morning, outraged emails started pouring in.  My correspondents reported “getting sick” and having their “heart ache”.  The cause of all that?  They had just watched Trump’s speech at the UN.  I sighed and decided to watch the full speech for myself.  Yeah, it was painful.

You can read the full (rush,not official) text here or watch the video here.  Most of it is so vapid that I won’t even bother posting the full thing.  But there are a few interesting moments including those:
We will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been

This short sentence contains the key to unlock the reason behind the fact that while the US military is extremely good at killing people in large numbers, it is also extremely bad at winning wars.  Like most Americans, Trump is under the illusion that spending a lot of money “buys” you a better military.  This is completely false, of course.  If spending money was the key to a competent military force, the US armed forces would have already conquered the entire planet many times over.  In reality, they have not won anything meaningful since the war in the Pacific.

Having surrounded himself with “Mad Dog” kind of “experts” on warfare, Trump is now reusing that old mantra about how money buys you victory and this is something extremely important.  This kind of magical thinking signals to the countries most threatened by the USA that the Americans are unable to engage in a basic “lessons learned” kind of exercise, that history teaches them nothing and that, just like all this predecessors, Trump conflates handing out money to the Military Industrial Complex with preparing for war.  Frankly, this is good news: let the Americans spend themselves into bankruptcy, let them further neglect their military and let them continue to believe that this kind of magical thinking will bring them to victory.

[Sidebar: for the record, I have met and studied with plenty of excellent, well-educated, honorable, courageous and patriotic American officers and the kind of money-centered hubris I describe above is in no way directed at them, if only because they know even much better than I how bad the situation really is.  There are plenty of highly-educated officers in the US armed forces who understand history and who know that money brings corruption, not victory.  But they are mostly kept at ranks no higher than Colonel and you will often find them in military teaching institutions and academies.  Having studied with them and become good friends with many of them, I feel sorry for them and I know that if they had the means to stop this insanity they would]

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations charter. Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall. America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies. From the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia, it is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerge victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.
The only question here is whom exactly Trump’s speech-writers are aiming that nonsense at?  Do they really think that there is anybody out there who sincerely believes this?  If the target audience are US middle schools then, yes, okay.  But does anybody believe that US middle school students listen to UN speeches?!  

Okay, maybe senile folks also believe that, I sure know a few who will swallow it up and ask for more, but why speak to that audience from a UN podium?  Is it not embarrassing when such nonsense is greeted in total silence instead of a standing ovation from all the putatively grateful countries out there who are so deeply grateful for all these altruistic and heroic sacrifices.  My only explanation for why this kind of nonsensical drivel was included in this speech is that it has become part of the ritual of typical American “patriotic liturgy”: big hyperbolic sentences which mean nothing, which nobody takes seriously or even listens to, but who have to be included “because they have to”.  This reminds me of the obligatory Lenin quote in any and all Soviet speeches and statements, they also were basically filtered out by any thinking person, everybody knew that, but that’s how things went on then.  It is really sad, and scary, to see how much the USA of the 2017 looks like the Soviet Union of the 1980s.
The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.


Wow!  Now that is a sentence which could only be written by a person utterly unaware of the impact it will have on the intended audience (in theory, all of mankind, this is the UN, after all).  Totally destroy North Korea.  I wonder how this will be received in South Korea and Japan.  No, I don’t mean by the puppet regimes in Seoul and Tokyo, but by the people.  Will they simply dismiss it as hot air or will they be horrified.  I bet for the former reaction.  It is much more psychologically comfortable to dismiss it all under the heading “nah, that’s crazy shit, they don’t mean it and they sure as hell ain’t gonna do it” rather than think for just a few minutes about the implications and consequences of such a threat.  

And let me be clear here: the United States most definitely do have the means to totally destroy North Korea.  For one thing, they already did so during the Korean war, and they can easily repeat that today.  That does not mean that they can win a war against the DPRK.  There is a huge difference between laying waste to a country and winning a war against it (see Israel vs Hezbollah).  The only way to meaningfully win a war against the DPRK is to invade it, and that the Americans cannot do, not even close.  In contrast, the DPRK probably has the means to invade at least the northern part of South Korea, including Seoul.  At the very least, they can totally destroy it.  Along with much of Japan.  I wonder if the USA decided to one day “protect” South Korean and Japan by “totally destroying North Korea”, will they be totally shocked when they realize that the South Koreans and the Japanese will turn out not to be grateful for such a “protection”?

Last month I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan. From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operation, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians. I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.


What we see here is undeniable evidence that far from being “real warriors” or “strategists” the military gang around Trump (Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, etc.) are either primitive grunts or folks who owe their rank to political protection.  Why do I say that?  Because none of what Trump describes as a “strategy for victory” is, in fact, a strategy.  In fact, the US has not had anything remotely resembling a strategy in Afghanistan for years already.  If it wasn’t so sad, it would be laughable, really.  What we really see here is the total absence of any strategy and, again, a total reliance on magical thinking.  Ask yourself a basic question: have you ever heard from any Trump administration or any US General anything which would suggest to you that these guys have i) a clear goal in mind ii) an understanding of what it would take to achieve this goal and iii) a timeframe to achieve this goal and iv) an exit strategy once this goal is achieved?  No?  Well, that is not your fault, you did not miss anything.  They really don’t have it.  The amazing reality is that they don’t have a goal even defined.  How one achieves “victory” when no goal is even defined is anybody’s guess.

[Sidebar: without going into a lengthy discussion of Afghanistan, I would say that the only chance to get anything done, any viable result at all, is to negotiate a deal with all the parties that matter: the various Afghan factions, of course, but also with the Taliban, Pakistan, Iran and even Russia.  Pakistan and Iran have a de-facto veto power over any outcome for Afghanistan.  This may not be what the USA would want, but this is the reality.  Denying reality is just not a smart approach to these issues, especially if “victory” is the goal]
In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS. In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens, even innocent children, shock the conscience of every decent person. No society could be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread. That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.


When I heard these words I felt embarrassed for Trump.  First, it is absolutely pathetic that Trump has to claim as his success the victories with the Syrians, the Russians, the Iranians and Hezbollah have achieved against the Wahabi-crazies of Daesh/al-Qaeda/al-Nusra/etc, especially since the latter are a pure creation of the US CIA!  The truth is that it was the Americans who created this Wahabi monster and that they aided, protected, financed, trained and armed it through all these years.  The USA also viciously opposed all the countries which were serious about fighting this Wahabi abomination.  And now that a tiny Russian contingent has achieved infinitely better results that all the power of the mighty CENTCOM backed by the Israeli and Saudi allies of the USA in the region, The Donald comes out and declares victory?!  Pathetic is not strong enough a word to describe this mind-bogglingly counter-factual statement.  And then, just to make things worse, The Donald *proudly* mentions the failed attack against a Syrian air force base which had nothing to do with a false flag fake chemical attack.  Wow!  For any other political leader recalling such an event would be a burning embarrassment, but for The Donald it is something he proudly mentions.  The hubris, ignorance and stupidity of it all leaves me in total awe…

Next The Donald went on a long rant about how bad Maduro and Venezuela were, which was terrible, but at least predictable, but then he suddenly decided to share this outright bizarre insight of his:

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.


Since when did Trump become an expert on political science and world history anyway?  Who does he think he is lecturing?  Yet another US middle school classroom?!  Does he not realize that a good number of the countries represented at the UN consider themselves Socialist?!  Furthermore, while I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that Socialist and Communist ideas have often been a disaster in the 20th century, Socialism in the 21st century is an entirely different beast and the jury is still very much out on this issue, especially when considering the social, political, economic, ecological, psychological and even spiritual disaster Capitalism is now proving to be for much of the planet.  Being the President of a country as dysfunctional as the USA, Trump would be well-advised to tone down his arrogant pontifications about Socialism and maybe even open a book and read about it.

I won’t even bother discussing the comprehensively counter-factual nonsense Trump has spewed about Iran and Hezbollah, we all know who Trump’s puppet-masters are nowadays so we know what to expect.  Instead, I will conclude with this pearl from The Donald:
In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil, also fought for the nations that they love. Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.


Echoing the nonsense he spoke while in Poland, Trump is now clearly fully endorsing that fairytale that “The West” (in which Trump now hilariously includes Poland!) has defeated Hitler and saved the world.  The truth is that the Nazis were defeated by the Soviets and that all the efforts of the Poles, French, Brits and even Americans were but a minor (20% max) sideshow to the “real event” (Those who still might believe in this nonsense can simply read this).  Yet again, that the Americans would feel the need to appropriate for themselves somebody else’s victory is, yet again, a clear sign of weakness.  Do they expect the rest of the planet to buy into this nonsense?  Probably not.  My guess is that all they want is to send a clear messages to the Comprador elites running most countries that this is the “official ideology of the AngloZionist Empire” and if they want to remain in power they better toe the line even if nobody takes this stuff seriously.  Yup, back to a 1980s Soviet kind of attitude towards propaganda: nobody cares what everybody else really thinks as long as everybody continues to pretend to believe the official propaganda.

[Sidebar: When my wife and I watched this pathetic speech we starting laughing about the fact that Trump was so obscenely bad that we (almost) begin to miss Obama.  This is a standing joke in our family because when Obama came to power we (almost) began to miss Dubya.  The reason why this is a joke is that when Duya came to power we decided that there is no way anybody could possibly be worse than him.  Oh boy were we wrong!  Right now I am still not at the point were I would be missing Obama (that is asking for a lot from me!), but I will unapologetically admit that I am missing Dubya.  I do.  I really do.  Maybe not the people around Dubya, he is the one who truly let the Neocon “crazies in the basement” creep out and occupy the Situation Room, but at least Dubya seemed to realize how utterly incompetent he was.  Furthermore, Dubya was a heck of a lot dumber than Obama (in this context being stupid is a mitigating factor) and he sure did not have the truly galactic arrogance of Trump (intelligence-wise they are probably on par)].

In conclusion, what I take away from this speech is a sense of relief for the rest of the planet and a sense of real worry for the USA.  Ever since the Neocons overthrew Trump and made him what is colloquially referred to as their “bitch” the US foreign policy has come to a virtual standstill.  Sure, the Americans talk a lot, but at least they are doing nothing.  That paralysis, which is a direct consequence of the internal infighting, is a blessing for the rest of the planet because it allows everybody else to get things done.  Because, and make no mistake here, if the USA cannot get anything constructive done any more, they retain a huge capability to disrupt, subvert, create chaos and the like.  But for as long as the USA remains paralyzed this destructive potential remains mostly unused (and no matter how bad things look now, Hillary President would have been infinitely worse!).  However, the USA themselves are now the prime victim of a decapitated Presidency and a vindicative and generally out of control Neocon effort to prevent true American patriots to “get their country back” (as they say) and finally overthrow the regime in Washington DC.  Step by step the USA is getting closer to a civil war and there is no hope in sight, at least for the time being.  It appears that for the foreseeable future Trump will continue to focus his energy on beating Obama for the status of “worst President in US history” while the Neocons will continue to focus their energy on trying to impeach Trump, and maybe even trigger a civil war.  The rest of us living here are in for some very tough times ahead.  As they say in Florida when a hurricane comes barreling down on you “hunker down!”.
The Saker




Korea, Iran, Venezuela are targets in "compassionate" America's war on the "wicked few." It's almost as though Washington felt its hegemony threatened


By Pepe Escobar

September 20, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - This was no “deeply philosophical address”. And hardly a show of  “principled realism” – as spun by the White House. President Trump at the UN was “American carnage,” to borrow a phrase previously deployed by his nativist speechwriter Stephen Miller.


One should allow the enormity of what just happened to sink in, slowly. The president of the United States, facing the bloated bureaucracy that passes for the “international community,” threatened to “wipe off the map” the whole of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (25 million people). And may however many millions of South Koreans who perish as collateral damage be damned.
Multiple attempts have been made to connect Trump’s threats to the madman theory cooked up by “Tricky Dicky” Nixon in cahoots with Henry Kissinger, according to which the USSR must always be under the impression the then-US president was crazy enough to, literally, go nuclear. But the DPRK will not be much impressed with this madman remix.


That leaves, on the table, a way more terrifying upgrade of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Trump repeatedly invoked Truman in his speech). Frantic gaming will now be in effect in both Moscow and Beijing: Russia and China have their own stability / connectivity strategy under development to contain Pyongyang.


The Trump Doctrine has finally been enounced and a new axis of evil delineated. The winners are North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Syria under Assad is a sort of mini-evil, and so is Cuba. Crucially, Ukraine and the South China Sea only got a fleeting mention from Trump, with no blunt accusations against Russia and China. That may reflect at least some degree of realpolitik; without “RC” – the Russia-China strategic partnership at the heart of the BRICS bloc and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – there’s no possible solution to the Korean Peninsula stand-off.


In this epic battle of the “righteous many” against the “wicked few,” with the US described as a “compassionate nation” that wants “harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife,” it’s a bit of a stretch to have Islamic State – portrayed as being not remotely as “evil” as North Korea or Iran – get only a few paragraphs.

The art of unraveling a deal

According to the Trump Doctrine, Iran is “an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos,” a “murderous regime” profiting from a nuclear deal that is “an embarrassment to the United States.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “Trump’s ignorant hate speech belongs in medieval times – not the 21st century UN – unworthy of a reply.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov once again stressed full support for the nuclear deal ahead of a P5+1 ministers’ meeting scheduled for Wednesday, when Zarif was due to be seated at the same table as US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Under review: compliance with the deal. Tillerson is the only one who wants a renegotiation.


Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has, in fact, developed an unassailable argument on the nuclear negotiations. He says the deal – which the P5+1 and the IAEA all agree is working – could be used as a model elsewhere. German chancellor Angela Merkel concurs. But, Rouhani says, if the US suddenly decides to unilaterally pull out, how could the North Koreans possibly be convinced it’s worth their while to sit down to negotiate anything with the Americans ?


What the Trump Doctrine is aiming at is, in fact, a favourite old neo-con play, reverting back to the dynamics of the Dick Cheney-driven Washington-Tehran Cold War years.


This script runs as follows: Iran must be isolated (by the West, only now that won’t fly with the Europeans); Iran is “destabilizing” the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, the ideological foundry of all strands of Salafi-jihadism, gets a free pass); and Iran, because it’s developing ballistic that could – allegedly – carry nuclear warheads, is the new North Korea.


That lays the groundwork for Trump to decertify the deal on October 15. Such a dangerous geopolitical outcome would then pit Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi against Tehran, Moscow and Beijing, with European capitals non-aligned. That’s hardly compatible with a “compassionate nation” which wants “harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife.”

Afghanistan comes to South America

The Trump Doctrine, as enounced, privileges the absolute sovereignty of the nation-state. But then there are those pesky “rogue regimes” which must be, well, regime-changed. Enter Venezuela, now on “the brink of total collapse,” and run by a “dictator”; thus, America “cannot stand by and watch.”


No standing by, indeed. On Monday, Trump had dinner in New York with the presidents of Colombia, Peru and Brazil (the last indicted by the country’s Attorney General as the leader of a criminal organization and enjoying an inverted Kim dynasty rating of 95% unpopularity). On the menu: regime change in Venezuela.


Venezuelan “dictator” Maduro happens to be supported by Moscow and, most crucially, Beijing, which buys oil and has invested widely in infrastructure in the country with Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht crippled by the Car Wash investigation.


The stakes in Venezuela are extremely high. In early November, Brazilian and American forces will be deployed in a joint military exercise in the Amazon rainforest, at the Tri-Border between Peru, Brazil and Colombia. Call it a rehearsal for regime change in Venezuela. South America could well turn into the new Afghanistan, a consequence that flows from Trump’s assertion that “major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.”
For all the lofty spin about “sovereignty”, the new axis of evil is all about, once again, regime change.


Russia-China aim to defuse the nuclear stand-off, then seduce North Korea into sharing in the interpenetration of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU), via a new Trans-Korea Railway and investments in DPRK ports. The name of the game is Eurasian integration.
Iran is a key node of BRI. It’s also a future full member of the SCO, it’s connected – via the North-South Transport Corridor – with India and Russia, and is a possible future supplier of natural gas to Europe. The name of the game, once again, is Eurasian integration.


Venezuela, meanwhile, holds the largest unexplored oil reserves on the planet, and is targeted by Beijing as a sort of advanced BRI node in South America.
The Trump Doctrine introduces a new set of problems for Russia-China. Putin and Xi do dream of reenacting a balance of power similar to that of the Concert of Europe, which lasted from 1815 (after Napoleon’s defeat) until the brink of World War I in 1914. That’s when Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia decided that no European nation should be able to emulate the hegemony of France under Napoleon. In sitting as judge and executioner, Trump’s “compassionate” America certainly seems intent on echoing such hegemony.


Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst.

This article was first published by Asia Times -



By Paul Craig Roberts

September 20, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - Trump’s UN speech makes it clear that Trump’s presidency, in terms of his campaign promise to remove Washington from the “policeman of the world” role, exit the Middle East, and repair the damaged relations with Russia, is over. The CIA and the military/security complex are in full control of the US government. Trump has accepted his captivity and his assigned role as the enforcer of Washington’s hegemony over every other country. Washington uber alles is the only foreign policy that Washington pursues.


At the UN Trump actually threatened to wipe North Korea off of the face of the earth. He added to this threat threats against Venezuela (http://stephenlendman.org/2017/09/trump-threatens-venezuela/) and Iran. He demonized these countries as “rogue states,” but it is Washington that is playing that role. Washington has destroyed in whole or part eight countries in the young 21st century and has 3 to 5 more in its crosshairs.


One question is: why did not the UN audience shout Trump down, a man standing before them telling obvious lies? The answer, of course, is money. The US taxpayers pay roughly one-quarter of the UN’s annual budget, leaving the other 130+ countries a light load. Washington is succeeding in driving the world to Armageddon, because the world’s leaders prefer money to truth, to justice, to survival. The UN diplomats see in their cooperation with Washington the opportunity to make money by sharing in the West’s exploitation of their own countries.


Washington, absorbed in its effort to destroy Syria, left it to its Saudi Arabian puppet to destroy Yemen. The Saudi autocracy, a major sponsor with the US of terrorism, has done a good job, thanks to US supplying the weapons and to the US refueling the Saudi attack airplanes. This totally gratuitous war has helped to maximize the profits of the American military/security complex, a collection of evil never before present on the face of the earth. UNICEF reports that one million Yemeni children will be the victims of “American compassion” of which Trump bragged in the CIA’s UN speech.
One wonders if the Russians and 

Chinese are so absorbed in getting rich like America’s One Percent that they are unaware that they are on the list of countries to be eliminated for not accepting Washington’s hegemony. Really, where was the Russian government when Washington overthrew the Ukranian government? It was at a sports event. And I call Americans insouciant. Where was the Russian government? How could it have not known?


To be frank. The point is this. Unless Russia and China can take out the US, the US will take out Russia and China. The only question is who strikes first. The only way to avoid this is for Russia and China to surrender and accept Washington’s hegemony. This is the firm undeviating path on which the neoconservatives, the CIA, and the military/security complex have set the United States. The entire point of North Korea is US nuclear missiles on China’s border. The entire point of Iran is US nuclear missiles on Russia’s border.


As far as I can ascertain, hardly anyone is aware that Armageddon is just around the corner. There is no protest from the Western presstitutes, a collection of whores. In the US the only protests are against ancient “civil war” statues, which the ignorant rabble say are symbols of black slavery. There is no peace movement and no peace marches. In London the transgendered and the radical feminists are protesting one another, engaging in fist fights in Hyde Park.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4891484/Fists-fly-politically-correct-rally.html No one seems to have any awareness.


In US online propaganda websites such as Americans for Limited Government—funded by who? serving who?—endorse Trump’s destabilizing UN speech as a non-threat to world peace:


President Trump has provided a cogent and inspiring defense of America and the American constitutional system of governance to the world not as imposition but an example to be followed, while at the same time respecting the sovereignty of other nations. However, the President also made it clear to those nations that threaten humanity with nuclear destruction [which Washington has done to N. Korea and Iran] that the United States will not be held hostage, and continuing down their current paths guarantees their annihilation. While many will focus on Trump’s threat to North Korea and Iran, the real focus of his speech is that it is a call to all nations to embrace their own sovereignty without threatening world peace.”


I have never in my long life read such a misrepresentation of a speech. The United States has become the complete propaganda state. No truth ever emerges.


It is only the US government, which is not a government of the people, that has ever threatened another country with total destruction as Trump did to North Korea in the CIA’s UN speech.


This is a first. It trumps Adolf Hitler. The US has become the 4th Reich. It is doubtful that the world will survive the foreign policy of the United States of America.


Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the WestHow America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.