Friday, January 24, 2020

Federal Aviation Advisory Panel's Report On Boeing's 737 MAX Is More Cover Up And Nonsense

Image may contain: one or more people and suit
Boeing's new CEO (David Calhoun) is convinced the public will be 'all in' and get back on the MAX when pilots do, and regulators approve it.

It is often said while watching certain movies, mainly science fiction (e.g. 'The Matrix'), that you have to strongly apply the suspension of disbelief. Else, within minutes you are likely to cease conscious viewing and simply erupt into peals of unconstrained laughter at the nonsense coming at you. Well, I had pretty well that identical reaction on reading the recent account (WSJ, 'Panel Backs How FAA Gave Safety Approval For 737 MAX', January 17, p. A4).   This was after reading the following codswallop:

"A federal advisory panel evaluating the safety approval process for Boeing's 737 MAX concluded regulators adhered to policies in certifying the plane and determined it wouldn't have been safer if it had received the scrutiny of an all new aircraft."

Of course, that is tommyrot and balderdash.  First, the approval process and certification - mainly letting Boeing itself have at it - was full of holes and misfires,  apart from which you have a 'fox guarding the henhouse' scenario.See e.g.:

In addition it is a bold-faced lie to claim the jet would not have been safer in the mode of an all new aircraft.  As I pointed out in my Nov. 14 post, "A proper redesign of Boeing's MAX 8  would require extending the fuselage height, and thereby not getting a simple recertification. "  

More mind-boggling in the case of the piece is when one reads (ibid.)

"Lee Moak, co-chairman of the independent committee set up last year declined to identify the mistakes made during certification of the now -grounded jets,  instead describing current procedures as 'appropriate and effective'."

Which is more horse pockey, especially given that within a day of that report's exposure in the WSJ we learned a new software problem had emerged.  This one involves the software preventing the jet's  flight control computers  from powering up and also verifying they are ready for flight- according to industry and government officials (WSJ, 'Boeing Finds Another Software Problem', January 18, p. A1)

The new issue was uncovered  (ibid.) when  "engineers were loading the updated software - including an array of changes painstakingly developed over roughly a year- into the flight control computers of a test aircraft". 

Pardon me, but this shows me Moak is out to lunch, and the whole "let Boeing certify the thing" was nutso  - plus unsafe (including the whole MCAS system as well). Also, contrary to Moak's twaddle  all the "current procedures" are nowhere near adequate or safe if this software- developed over a year- wasn't even found  defective until being loaded into an actual aircraft.   Let's also note this revised software was "intended to fix the automated MCAS system" - to prevent the plane from crashing again.

Again, another reminder why I never want to see the inside of this flying boondoggle.  Even for a short trip to Vegas.

As if this new software glitch wasn't enough, barely a week earlier Boeing was forced to admit (finally) that Ipad training wasn't sufficient and flight simulators were needed. (Following which we learned Boeing had insufficient simulators to proceed with pilot training when - and IF - the MAX is ever re-certified. ) 

The latest  'MAX' fiasco intruded a day ago when Boeing announced it doesn't expect federal regulators to approve its changes to the grounded plane until this summer.  Which means, of course, it won't be flying this summer - but more likely months later- if ever.  (Even if approved this summer all 'MAX' -using airlines - e.g. Southwest, United, American - will need additional time to train their pilots on flight simulators.)

Personally, as I wrote before, this monstrosity ought not be airborne, period, because of its severe design flaws.  As I noted, no software "fix" should be used to correct what is in essence an aerodynamic design flaw.

Moak's clownish "federal advisory panel" report received the best brush off from Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee who said (WSJ earlier item):

"It would be the height of irresponsibility to leave the (certification) delegation system as is and just hope for the best."

Indeed, and this move - daft as it is - certainly wouldn't impress or coax the flying public into getting inside one of these glorified tin can "self -hijacking"  contraptions anytime soon. In the most recent surveys, more than 50 percent of flyers would choose another aircraft - or not fly at all.

Never mind. Boeing's new CEO -David Calhoun-   is totally convinced the flying public will be there lining up to get on the MAX once regulatory approval passes. ("And pilots get on that airplane and support that airplane" (WSJ,  'Boeing CEO Puts Faith In MAX', today, p. B1, Business & Finance).

Well, maybe. Until the next crash - then all bets are off. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

How Valid Are The Oft-Cited Stats For Cancer "Survival" Rates?

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Prostate image yielded as part of 3D staging biopsy with cancerous lesions in mud yellow, urethra in green. This is completed prior to focal cryotherapy treatment  - where a cryo-probe at -90C is inserted into the perineum to freeze cancer cells.  The procedure can last from an hour to an hour and forty five minutes. But no promises are made to rid the cancer entirely.

The recent press reports of lowered cancer survival rates, and a WSJ editorial on the subject, make it incumbent on critical- thinking citizens to examine such stats and whether they're really valid.  We read in the WSJ piece from January 9, for example, that: "the cancer death rate in the U.S.  fell 2.2. % from 2016 to 2017 "the largest single year drop ever recorded".   This according to the latest report in the American Cancer Society.   However, we also learn:

"The drop is largely driven by progress against lung cancer".

A result of great new terrific treatments? Actually not. More a case  that such lung cancer deaths were largely fueled by "fewer people smoking."

Meanwhile  we learn that (ibid.):

"Doctors made progress in breast, prostate and colorectal cancers."

But how much?  According to a WSJ editorial ('Where You Want To Get Cancer', January 10, p. A16):

"The five year survival rate is now 98 % for prostate cancer, 92% for melanoma and 90 % for breast cancer"

But what does that even mean and is it 'more pie in the sky'  or wishful thinking than anything else?   A recent issue of Skeptic magazine (vol. 24, No. 4, 2019) provides some clues in an article entitled 'How Much Longer Will Cancer Screening Myths Survive?'  The author, Felipe Noguiera, cites two problems with figuring survival rates associated with screenings:

1)The lead time bias. I.e. when statistical studies include already screened patients, and

2) A length of time bias which occurs when screening is done periodically and cancer- contrary to what most people think - is a heterogeneous disease with different progression rates.

A key problem in respect of (1) which I've discussed before in the case of prostate cancer (when I referred to radiation, and radical prostatectomy treatments) is that screening allows many cancers to now be detected in the asymptomatic phase.  That was how my prostate cancer was detected using a needle biopsy back in July, 2012 e.g.

Notes on a Prostate Biopsy: Don’t Fear and Don’t H...

In my case I was told non-action (e.g. watchful waiting) was not an option so I had to choose either the surgery (RP) or radiation. Well, I ended up choosing high dose brachytherapy in September that year.  But four years later the cancer (evidently diagnosed from MRI biopsy, fusion biopsy and 3D screening- staging biopsy results e.g.

3D Staging Prostate Biopsy Unlikely To Come Into...

Returned. Would I have still survived this long (e.g. nearly 6 1/2  years) without any treatments?  (I had another, focal cryotherapy treatment in June, 2017) The jury is still out according to the Skeptic author. As he writes (p. 34):

"Imagine that a group of patients without screening is diagnosed due to symptoms at an age of 63 years, but they die from the cancer at 65. Now, consider that screening (e.g. biopsy) detects the tumor at age 59 and the patients still die at 65.  Thus, without screening the 5 year survival rate was 0 % but with screening it is 100 %, even though screening did not make them live any longer. Both groups of patients died at the same time.  This is called the lead time bias."

In terms of (2), the effect arises because screening is done periodically( in my case, in July, 2012, in June 2016, September, 2016 and January, 2017.   As the author points out:

"Basically, aggressive and more lethal cancers tend not to be detected by screening because they grow fast and cause symptoms between screening rounds. Similarly, screening tends to detect slow, progressive cancers.  As a result a group of patients whose cancers were detected by screening will live longer than those diagnosed clinically imply because screening selected a group of patients with a better prognosis."

In other words, the success wasn't on account of the screening per se, but because that screening selected for the slower growing cancer.   As the author adds:

"That means that screening detects abnormalities that meet the pathological criteria of cancer, but would not have caused symptoms or death in the patient's lifetime. This is called overdiagnosis."

The problem of overdiagnosis is that at the time of diagnosis it is not possible to know which cases will progress and which will not. So almost everyone is treated leading to overtreatment. That leads to another complication, i.e. "to look only for cancer specific mortality could miss deaths caused by treatment."

He then cites (p. 36) Swedish trials of mammography to show the problem of bias associated with cancer-specific mortality in breast cancer. Thus:

"For every other woman screened every other year for 12 years - while one cancer death was avoided, the total number of deaths increased by six."

In other words, the increased radiation endured in mammography screenings led to other cancers not related to the one originally detected and which caused a death.   The conclusion?

We should publicly acknowledge that we cannot be sure whether early detection lengthens, shortens or has no effect on how long people live."

This comports with what I wrote in my November 9, 2018  blog post on the changed recommendations for prostate cancer screening, for example, e.g.

"Most experts agree that people with a life expectancy of 10 years or less don't need routine screening for cancer. One problem is that overscreening can lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment. For instance, a screening might find a slow-growing cancer that wouldn't cause any harm within a person's lifetime if left undetected, a situation that's common with prostate cancer. If that's the case, it's not worth the burden and anxiety caused by testing and the potential for more—possibly invasive—follow-up procedures.

Yet, according to published studies, too many older adults continue to undergo unnecessary cancer screenings despite age- and health-related recommendations from professional groups.

Three groups that have weighed in on prostate cancer screening are the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and the American Urological Association (AUA). Following are their current recommendations for when to stop:

I'd also posted this on the Team Inspire prostate cancer forum and was met with a lot of pushback, some downright vitriolic, i.e.

"What are you a politician running for office? An insurance company agent? I am sick of you guys coming in here and trying to tell us to try to control costs and not to get these tests! I don't care how much they cost, even if I'm 78 I am gonna get them! Maybe I want to live to 95!"

 "I'm in no position to contradict medical science on this, but 70 seems a bit young. Yes, it leaves a "life expectancy" of 10 years (in 2018, living in the U.S., given today's technology), but healthy people with good genes and healthy  lifestyles routinely live well into their 90s. My G4+5 was discovered when I was 59. What if it had been 12 years later? Answer: a horrible death from PCa, diagnosed only after I became symptomatic, and far too late to treat it."

So there's no doubt that because of the feel good propaganda pushed by the likes of the WSJ editors (and other corporate media)  it will be a long time before people back off on the benefits of screening, and indeed adhere to the revised recommendations.

Adam Schiff Delivers Performance Of A Lifetime - But It Mostly Fell On Closed Minds, Deaf Ears

Even as we learned Trump yesterday tweeted 142 times (141 of them outright lies)  we  got to see and hear the stirring words of Adam Schiff ringing loudly and clear in the Senate Chamber:

You are left with no choice but to demand to hear from each witness with firsthand knowledge” of Trump’s pressure campaign, A fair trial requires nothing less.”

The historic trial, only the third of its kind in U.S.  risks devolving into a farcical Potemkin sham unless the 53 Republicans pull their collective heads out of their asses and attend to the case and the arguments presented by those like Schiff.   They ought to be reminded they are also on trial  - along with Trump - as history suffuses the chamber including the presence in the room of John Roberts, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme court.

Just after 1pm, Adam Schiff stepped to a lectern between the tables to narrate the sordid story of Trump’s wrongdoing. Schiff and the other 6  House impeachment  managers laid out their case in stages, to powerful effect.  (At least for anyone of normal sentience - as opposed to the Repuke kool aid drinkers and Dotard asslickers like Lindsey Graham).  In meticulous detail they presented Trump’s corrupt scheme in narrative form, with a factual chronology and video of past witness testimony, to move thereafter to a description of the constitutional framework for impeachment.

But Schiff's presentation blew everyone away with its powerful combination of appeal to the Constitution, Senators' moral conscience and the future welfare of the nation.  At a break in the trial, the minority leader, Chuck Schumer, called Schiff’s performance “a tour de force”.  He said:

I think a good number of my Republican colleagues for the first time heard the argument against the president – powerfully, succinctly and completely– and I hope that can begin to change minds,” 

Both wifey and I concurred that Mr. Schiff delivered an argument for the ages, in clear, concise terms given he had to bring all the evidence to bear on Trump's extortion of the Ukrainian president and his subsequent obstruction. Hell, the orange, pus-filled maggot even bragged while still in Davos of his crime, keeping the materials hidden, e.g.

Polling released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center indicated public backing for the Democratic call for witnesses and found that 70% of respondents said Trump “definitely or probably acted unethically” while 51% said Trump “should be removed from office”.

We’re trying this case over two juries,” Schiff said. “The Senate and the American people.”

But have any Republican Senators been moved to action?  Hardly!

I didn’t hear anything new today,” said Republican Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

 Errr... were you really conscious then, Toomey, or on an MJ candy high?

“I haven’t heard any evidence in there that the president’s done anything wrong,” said Josh Hawley of Missouri. 

Then you need to take remedial American Government classes again, Hawley, with emphasis on Article 1 of the Constitution.

Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska) then reportedly chafed at Jerry Nadler's remark that any Senator who refuses to allow witnesses is effectively assisting Trump in the "cover up".  Miffed at any such suggestion, Murkowski whined: "I am very offended!  I took it as very offensive since I am listening attentively and working hard to ensure a fair process."

Spare me the faux offense, Senator. If you are not prepared to allow witnesses - especially relevant ones to this supposed trial - then all you're doing is posturing for FOX News zombies.   And that also means, logically, you are assisting in Trump's obstruction!  Which also means collaborating in the cover up. (See news link above how he bragged about withholding materials.)

Meanwhile, Lindsey Graham yelped about a "crusade" by the Dems to get his master, Dotard.  After seeing this dishonorable puke  cry, bark and barf,  one had to wonder if he was missing his latest Trump ass lick fix.  Or maybe he's on some kind of brain -frying junk, given he also congratulated Schiff on a "job well done".  Which is it, Lindsey?

With the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, having succeeded the night before in winning approval for a speedy trial, the House prosecutors have limited time in which to plant seeds of doubt in Republican minds about the conduct of the president.  But for realists, the odds of getting any such seeds planted are about the same as Tau Ceti aliens abducting Dotard before he leaves bellows another lie.

There is also the issue here of Mitch McConnell's "rules" which appear to have any force at all.  One often beheld the Senate Repukes visibly frustrated at the long hours of the trial, appearing at times to be on the verge of mild mutiny, openly flouting rules requiring them to remain at their desks and instead circulating in a cloakroom off the Senate floor. They drew no rebuke from Roberts.  My take? Roberts correctly saw the truth was gradually infiltrating their neurons risking about one trillion neural embolisms - so gave the Reeptards a break.

The seven House managers selected to present the articles of impeachment have about 16 remaining hours spread over two days to present their case to convict and remove Trump from office. Then the Dotard team has its opportunity to rebut the charges.   Translation:   Jay Sekulow and Co. will strain to see how many lies and concocted bullshit they can come up with (mainly using Russian tropes) to  appease their master, Dotard - and to hell with the Constitution and country.

Trump of course is not expected to appear at his own trial.  He bragged in Davos he'd like to come, but of course those are the empty words of a con man.  You take everything this twit says or tweets with less than a National Enquirer headline.

 Moderate Republican senators (e.g. Susan Collins, Murkowski, Cory Gardner, and Mitt Romney )  have made cooperative noises and also expressed discomfort with rushing the proceedings.  But this is likely all political posturing - especially for those up for re-lection like the weasels Gardner and Collins.  Point:  none of the "moderates" voted with Democrats on several motions on Tuesday that would have cleared the way for new witnesses and testimony.  Clearly, Trump has their brains and spines locked up firmly in the remote recesses of his fat behind - never to see the clear light of day.

Winding up his oratory, Schiff warned that democracy was on the line. “Our future is not assured. A fair trial, with impartial consideration of all of the evidence against the president, is how we keep our republic.”

As Ben Franklin once told a woman who asked what kind of government we had: "A Republic, if you can keep it."    Right now it appears that owing to the cowardice of the Republicans, and their placing party over nation, we may not keep it - but lose it to an authoritarian Trumpocracy.

See also:




The D.C. press corps is filling in where the cameras that Mitch McConnell refused to allow into the impeachment trial are absent. So we know just what a farce Republicans consider this exercise to be. And precisely why McConnell made sure the American people don't see it.

Reporter Michael McAuliff tweeted that, a few of hours into Rep. Adam Schiff's presentation "21 empty seats on the GOP side of the Senate, 2 on the Dem side. […] Some are just stretching their legs, but most are not in the chamber. Some of them have been out of there for a while." Those who were out for "for a long time"—Republicans Lindsey Graham, Jim Risch, and Bill Cassidy. Reporter Paul McLeod tweeted about McConnell's histrionics toward the end of Schiff's presentation when "McConnell threw his hands down and made a clear 'are you kidding me?' face." Republican Rand Paul, Ben Jacobs tweeted, decided to occupy his time working on a crossword puzzle. That's how much they care about the process; how much they care about their singular role in our republic.



Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Donnie Dotard At Davos Claims Planting Trees Will Help Avoid Climate Catastrophe - He's An Idiot

Graph showing the rise in temperatures since 1900.

Image result for brane space, year of no seasonsImage may contain: 1 person, closeup

Even as Blowhard Dotard yesterday blustered to those gathered at Davos about ignoring the "perennial prophets of doom, the heirs of yesterday's foolish fortune tellers and their predictions of the apocalypse"   a veritable climate apocalypse was brewing across the planet.   And so  we beheld Greta Thunberg (Trump's intellectual superior) setting the record straight with a note of reality.  I.e. that “our house is still on fire” and that “naction is fueling the flames by the hour.”i

Incredibly even low IQ Dotard  at least knows that trees are beneficial. They give us oxygen, absorb CO2, provide nests for birds and habitats for wildlife, protect against flooding and even help to clean up air pollutants from traffic.  And so as the world’s forests  have come under increasing threat from fires, agriculture and logging, the World Economic Forum has launched an initiative to ensure 1 trillion trees are restored.  And Trump, to avoid his rep as a climate renegade,  jumped onto the  tree planting bandwagon.  But in relative terms it's akin to trying to save the Titanic with a bucket brigade. In other words, the tipping point is already upon us - with the record heat of the past five years proving it - and David Suzuki's first year of no seasons now imminent.
 So yeah, Trump is on board at least to the extent of a con.  Though like other climate deniers he did toss out the toxic memes that any form of genuine mitigation - like higher gas taxes, or cutting carbon emissions - amounts to 'loss of freedom' and socialism. But Greta Thunberg wasn't having any of that empty blather.  As  Thunberg responded to him at Davos: “Planting trees is very good of course, but is nowhere near enough and cannot replace real mitigation.” and said so, e.g.: 

"Our house is still on fire, and your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour"

Recall Trump and his nitwit cult never got over Thunberg getting TIME's 2019  Person of the Year, and were so desperate they even reworked the TIME cover, e.g.
Image result for Trumpies put Trump image on TIME Person of Year cover
Photoshopping Trump's empty head on Thunberg's body.   The only word that comes to mind? Pathetic!

Thunberg's reinforced warning isn't apocalyptic doomsaying either.  We now know  that the year 2019 was the second hottest on record for the planet’s surface, according to latest research. The analyses reveal the scale of the climate crisis: both the past five years and the past decade are the hottest in 150 years.  All indications now are that climate author David Suzuki's forecast of the first "year of no seasons" will indeed occur by the year 2040 - if not before.

In his book It's A Matter of Survival (Harvard University Press, 1991) co-authored with Anita Gordon, Suzuki wrote in Chapter One, 'Beyond Your Worst Nightmare':

"A.D. 2040- If we were to give this year a name it would be Despair. This is the hopeless world we have left our children and grand children. Where once our lives were measured and enriched by the cycle of the seasons, there is now only searing heat and the certainty it will get hotter. Seasons exist only in the nostalgic longing of those of us old enough to remember the richness of life......

Daily, experts try to play God, desperate to determine what each new ecosystem will be, before it too is lost. This is the nightmare world of 2040 on this sad excuse for the planet we once called home."

On page 8 of the same chapter, the authors go on to link the total disappearance of the seasons worldwide to global mean temperatures being 5 C (9F) above what they were in 1991.  All signs  now are that we may equal or surpass that  - especially given there is absolutely no evidence that the planet's inhabitants are prepared to take the measures needed: significant taxes on gasoline, major emissions cuts back to 1990 levels, etc.  Hence we're living in a fools paradise.

Attesting to this we have the succession of records being broken year after year.   Described by one paleo climatologist as: “the drumbeat of the Anthropocene”.  That drumbeat   is bringing increasingly severe storms, floods, droughts and wildfires- including the recent ones smothering Australia and New Zealand in smoke.   The drumbeat is also bringing painful economic symptoms as WSJ columnist Greg Ip recently observed ('Economic Impact of Climate Change Is Here', Jnuary 17, p. A2), noting:

"McKinsey Global Institute estimated  that 'unusually hot summers' affected 15 percent of the Northern Hemisphere's land surface in 2015, up from 0.2 percent before 1980."

If you can do the math that is an increase of 75 times, or in other terms, 7500 %.

More ominous, McKinsey projects a "probability of a 10 % drop in wheat, corn, soybean and rice yields in any given year and which will rise from 6% now to 18 %  in 2050."

This is ominous because the current projections are that 2 billion more people will be added to the population by 2050.  How will they get sufficient food given the probable declines in grain yields?  Indeed, where will they all live, given vast land areas will become almost uninhabitable by then, thanks to  persistent, catastrophic drought or the prevalence of monster hurricanes, typhoons?

We also need to be more aware that we've been living on borrowed time thanks to the oceans absorbing the bulk of excess heat. An amount one specialist analogized to "five Hiroshima bombs being detonated every second."   This is serious given more than 90% of the heat trapped by human greenhouse gas emissions is absorbed by the oceans. On Monday last climate scientists revealed 2019 as the warmest yet recorded in the seas, calling it “dire news”.  It is indeed, given ocean life as in the food chain that supports thousands of  animals, is now at risk.  The krill population that feeds the Chinstrap Penguin alone has decreased by 25-30 %.  Other sea life - from the fish we consume, to crustaceans- are also at risk.  When Bill Maher informed his HBO audience two years ago that there may be no fish left at all in fifty years, no one believed it.  W(ell, it is more than likely there will still be Jellyfish)

As we can see from the attached (top) graph:  the average temperature in 2019 was about 1.1C above the average from 1850-1900, before large-scale fossil fuel burning began. The world’s scientists have warned that global heating beyond 1.5C will significantly worsen extreme weather and suffering for hundreds of millions of people.  The World Economic Forum’s global risk assessment for the next decade, also found the top five dangers were all environmental, including extreme weather, failure to prepare for climate change and the destruction of the natural world.  This is all supported by the WSJ's Greg Ip who writes (ibid.):

"Climate crises in the next 30 years might resemble financial crises in recent decades: potentially quite destructive, largely unpredictable, and - given the powerful underlying causes - inevitable."

What is important is the totality of evidence from multiple independent data sets that the Earth is warming, that human activity is driving it and the impacts are clearly being felt. These announcements might sound like a broken record, but what is being heard is the drumbeat of the Anthropocene.”

Added Michael Mann , a climate scientist at Penn State University:

It’s now official that we have just completed the warmest decade on record, a reminder that the planet continues to warm as we continue to burn fossil fuels,”

Let's also note that while instrumental temperature records stretch back to 1850, data from ice cores indicate that today’s temperatures were last seen at least 100,000 years ago. Furthermore, the level of carbon dioxide is the highest it has been for several million years, when the sea level was 15-20 meters  higher.By the early 1990s, climate scientists completed more precise studies of ice cores extracted from the Greenland ice sheet. Dust and oxygen isotopes encased in the cores provided a detailed climate record going back eons. It revealed that there had been 25 rapid climate change events like the Younger Dryas in the last glacial period.  The evidence in those ice cores  - many of them originally studied by Univ. of Alaska climate researcher Prof. Gunther Weller (at the Geophysical Institute) -

Prof.  Gunther Weller (1987) at Geophysical Institute - University of Alaska - Fairbanks.

Prof. Weller's  work and that of colleagues  has disclosed that over the past 800,000 years the CO2 concentration of  300 ppm was never crossed until after the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the burning of fossil fuels.  Prof. Weller's work was also critical in highlighting the phenomenon of "Arctic amplification".  In papers and seminars delivered at the GI over 1985-1990 he pointed out that a much warmer Arctic translated to a much more unstable polar region with more frequent intrusions ("waves")  of polar air

The four temperature datasets are compiled from many millions of surface temperature measurements taken across the globe, from all continents and all oceans. They are produced by the UK Met Office with the University of East Anglia (UEA), both Nasa and Noaa in the US, and Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. Small differences between the analyses arise from how data-sparse polar regions are treated, but all agree that the past five years are the warmest five years since each global record began.

The Met Office’s forecast for global average temperature for 2020 suggests this year could well set another record and is very likely to be among the top three hottest. The UK government will host a critical UN climate summit in Glasgow in November. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, and many others are urging nations to increase dramatically their pledges to cut carbon emissions, which would lead to global temperatures rising by a disastrous 3-4C.

“It is obvious we are not succeeding in preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, which was the main goal of the original 1992 UN climate change convention,” said Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics.

Even if we succeed in limiting warming to 1.5C, this would not be a ‘safe’ level of warming for the world,” he said. “Therefore we must focus on cutting global emissions to net zero as soon as possible. We know the transition to a net zero economy is the growth story of the 21st century.”

See also:

Climate report understates threat


Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Seriously? Trump's Morally Dubious Legal Team Calls Impeachment A "Perversion of the Constitution"

Two of the perverts' pals errr...lawyers, on Trump's trial team: Alan Dershowitz (left) and Ken Starr:

"If the Senate goes along with McConnell with a big whitewash then you will have a situation where  the Senate will have been on trial, and it may lose its Republican control in 2020."  -  Harvard Constitutional Law Prof. Lawrence Tribe, on All In, Friday .

"Amidst all of this who does Donald Trump pick to represent him at his impeachment trial?  Alan Dershowtiz and Kenneth Starr. These two famous attorneys who represented Jeffrey Epstein more than a decade ago and helped him get a sweetheart deal.  This was back when he was facing a federal indictment for sexually abusing underage girls back in 2007.  You remember the deal right? It was for only 13 months and he was regularly allowed to leave jail, to apparently return to his decades long abuse of girls and young women"-  Chris Hayes on 'All In', Friday night

Maureen Dowd, in her recent (Jan. 19) column best summed up the creeps that Dotard has chosen as the top lawyers to defend him, first turning to Ken Starr:

"The Starr chamber was a shameful period of American history, with the prissy Puritan independent counsel hounding and virtually jailing Monica Lewinsky and producing hundreds of pages of panting, bodice-ripping prose that read more like bad erotica than a federal report, rife with lurid passages about breasts, stains and genitalia.....Even Trump was appalled. “Starr’s a freak,” the bloviating builder told me back in 1999. “I bet he’s got something in his closet.” In other interviews, he called Starr “a lunatic,” “a disaster” and “off his rocker,”..

Starr, who once clutched his pearls over Bill Clinton’s sexual high jinks, is now going to bat for President “Access Hollywood.”

In 2007, he defended Jeffrey Epstein. By 2016, Starr was being ousted as president of Baptist Baylor University for failing to protect women and looking the other way when football players were accused and sometimes convicted of sexual assault"

It was the Starr Report, co-authored by the newly (SC)- installed right wing weasel  Brett Kavanaugh, which laid out the  spurious case for Clinton’s impeachment and removal from office, based on Monica Lewinsky's illegally- obtained taped spiels with  Linda Tripp.  As I pointed out in my Sept. 14, 2018 post, that tape "evidence" ought to have been inadmissible given procuring it was a felony under then Maryland law. (One cannot secretly tape the words of another over the phone without informing them first.)

Ms. Dowd then fixes attention on Dershowitiz:

"And then there’s Dershowitz, whose past clients have included such sterling fellows as Epstein, Claus von Bülow, O.J. Simpson and Harvey Weinstein. How did he miss Ted Bundy?"

All of this is  relevant now as we read in the press (e.g. Denver Post, Jan. 19th) 

"The Trump team called the Senate's formal impeachment summons to the two articles of impeachment  'a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president."

Which is a pile of ripe merde. First, it did not amount to any "attack" on an American's "right" to freely choose a president. It DID remind us that when a deranged and low IQ minority faction exercises such right without regard to common sense we all pay - in that we get a demented demagogue capable of doing untold damage to the Republic.  The Trump team that made such a wacko remark to the media then needs to be reminded of the words of James Madison - who defined the mischief of 'minority faction' in Federalist No 10, i.e.:

"Citizens - whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole - are united and actuated by a common impulse of passion (to cast their votes) adverse to the rights of other citizens or the permanent and aggregate interests of the community".  

This is exactly what the Trump voters ('the minority")  did, motivated by passion and recklessness via Trump's often violent rallies to give a middle finger salute to the rest of the country - thereby militating against the majority's interests.  They knew just as well as anyone  the degenerate and destructive nature of this filth, but cast ballots for him anyway. Enough, namely 77,000 in three key states (Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan) , to put him over the top in electoral votes.  

But it then fell to the state  Electors to correct the voting anomaly. To do their sworn duty, i.e. not to rubber stamp a malicious choice, but to set it right and prevent an unhinged, authoritarian demagogue from attaining the highest office.  Alexander Hamilton, for his part,   held that the same electors could ensure the integrity of the office through their own discretion which may diverge from what the people themselves voted for (particularly if motivated by passion as opposed to reason).

Thus we read in Federalist # 78:

"The process of election (by state electors) affords a moral certainty that the office of President shall never fall to the lot of any man who is not to an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications...."

Read that last sentence again:   The office of the President shall never fall to the lot of any man who is not to an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.

The FACT of Trump's debased being and premoral character was exposed for all to see in the recent  blistering editorial from a prominent evangelical magazine, Christianity Today.  That, combined with his brazen extortion of the Ukrainian President (Volodymyr Zelenskiy) shows clearly he is a human maggot and unfit to run a dog kennel- far less a nation.  So no one on God's green Earth (not even the inimitable commenter "Publius" - suddenly exposed as a rabid Trumpster)   can tell me with a straight face that Trump, aka Dotard, is "endowed with the requisite qualifications".

Secondly, the Trump team shows itself to be ignorant buffoons by asserting an Article 1 power exercised by the democratically elected House, can in any way be interpreted as an "attack" on a lawless renegade, rogue president.  One who aspires to absolute power, as when he appointed Bill Barr as his personal "Roy Cohn".   Thus, the Trump team's further hysterical blather (ibid.):

"This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election"

Is just fulsome codswallop of the most head -spinning form, especially given it is precisely Trump's extortion effort which marked the actual interference effort in the coming election - stopped in its tracks thanks to a patriot whistleblower.  Further, the nonpartisan GAO has further reinforced Trump's criminality by referring outright to what he did as a crime. The specific law at issue is the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. 

But for sheer brazen ignorance of the Constitution it's hard to rival Alan Dershowtiz who has repeatedly expelled this verbal vomit on assorted appearances the past few days (e.g. in an interview with MSNBC host Ari Melber):

"The abuse of power - even if proved - is not an impeachable offense.  The Founders never gave congress the authority to overrule the president because he abused his power.  So then they (congress) have to prove treason,, bribery or other crimes and misdemeanors."

This twaddle so amazed MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Friday he had to replay the segment for senior Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe - who responded thusly : (See e.g.:  

"I almost don't know where to start. My colleague has it upside down. I knew the Trump defense was going to rely on to a large extent on alternative facts,  but I didn't know they were also going to use alternative law.

There is no legal principle that says something has to violate a federal criminal statute to be impeachable.  When the impeachment power was put in the Constitution there were no federal criminal statutes.  As the House report accompanying these articles of impeachment says, what is being charged against the president happens to be a federal crime: felony bribery.  And on top of that yesterday we learned from the accountability office that the president is indeed breaking the law, the impoundment control act.

So that's why I don't know where to start since Alan is completely wacko on this.  So I don't understand why the president thinks it will help him to have this kind of bizarro defense."

Well of course it's likely  to have more than a little success because the Trump team knows there are millions of dumb clucks - fed on FOX News claptrap and propaganda - who start with lower IQs  and will be dumb enough to believe anything Trump's team churns out.

Prof. Tribe even gives an example from Dershowitz own recent book on how far he's willing to take this asinine bull pockey, citing a hypothetical president like Trump allowing Putin to take Alaska - "like he took Crimea."  And as Prof. Tribe adds: "That would be pretty bad, says Alan Dershowitz, but it wouldn't be a federal crime and would not be impeachable."

That's how far down the rabbit hole of irrational bullshit we've been led by these liars, Reich framers and PR artists.   Indeed, they totally ignore as well Trump's efforts to have repealed the Foreign Corrupt Bribery Act - which would have allowed outright bribery, say by a foreign power. (As reported in the new book, 'A Very Stable Genius' by Philip Rucker and Carol Loennig).

The latest tally of Trump's lies is now 16, 241, not counting all those he will likely spew in the wake of publication of Rucker's and Loennig's book.    What is clear is that this shameless liar, sex pervert (pussy grabber) and bellicose buffoon has indisputably picked the legal team that best jibes with his dubious character. Oh, and all the Repuke traitors and enablers who will now do their damndest to protect his sorry, fat orange hide over the country and the Constitution. 

 As for the rest of us - the normal, rational part of the populace, we expect Trump's team  will be allowed a total propaganda cover up - especially after Moscow Mitch has delivered his "resolution" for 12 trial rules,  which includes that all the evidence presented must now be voted on.  This despite the fact the House impeachment procedure and evidence assembly was impeccable, well organized.   E.g. from the first link given below:

"Legal experts Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic, in an article for The Atlantic, assert that there is an enormous difference between the two: while the House brief is professionally organized, the one from Team Trump is a rambling mess that reads like “the scream of a wounded animal.”

Potemkin trial anyone?  Buckle your seat belts, kiddies, for a wild Senate trial the next few weeks, including Moscow Mitch trying to contain the damning revelations. And, if allowed at all (by vote), then only disclosed past midnight EST. Oh, and also if Bolton does wish to testify (and enough Repubs join the Dems to vote for it), no public hearings will be allowed because of "national security implications".  Translation: the revelations may produce too much damage to Herr Trump. E.g.

Trump’s lawyers, Senate GOP allies work privately to ensure Bolton does not testify publicly

See also: