Friday, 25 May 2018

The dust bowl that never ends"



Drought Conditions In The Southwest Are So Bad That They Are Already Being Compared To The Dust Bowl Of The 1930s





23 May, 2018

The worst drought to hit the Southwest in decades continues to grow even worse, and many are already comparing this current crisis to the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s.  Agricultural production is way down, major rivers are running dry, and horses are dropping dead from a lack of water.  The epicenter of this drought is where the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all come together, but it is also devastating areas of north Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas as well.  


Portions of seven states are already at the highest level of drought on the scale that scientists use, and summer won’t even start for about another two months.  If we don’t start seeing some significant rainfall, it won’t be too long before massive dust storms start devastating the entire region.  The mainstream media is finally beginning to wake up and start reporting on this crisis, and some reporters are choosing to make a direct comparison between this drought and the Dust Bowl conditions during the Great Depression

Drought conditions are so severe across much of the Southwest that they rival those during the disastrous Dust Bowl period of the 1930s, when severe dust storms killed livestock and caused crops to fail.
Oklahoma State Climatologist Gary McManus said some climatological stations in the western part of his state have recorded less than 2 inches of rain since October.
Some of those stations are pegging the driest 7-to-8 months on record for those locations,” McManus said.

If you are not familiar with the Dust Bowl period, you should be able to find a good documentary online to watch.  It was one of the most painful periods in American history, and we could be right on the verge of a repeat.

Those that have followed my work for an extended period of time know that I have been warning about a return of Dust Bowl conditions, and now it is actually happening.  The flow of the Colorado River is way, way down, and in some areas the Rio Grande has already dried up completely
The drought has hit the Colorado River hard. Forecasters say the river will carry only about 43 percent of its average amount of water this year into Lake Powell, one of two big reservoirs on the system.
In New Mexico, stretches of the Rio Grande — another one of North America’s longest rivers — have already gone dry as biologists have been forced to scoop up as many endangered Rio Grande silvery minnows as possible so they can be moved upstream.
As urban populations have surged, the Southwest has already been dealing with unprecedented water stress, and now this crisis is going to take things to an entirely new level.

Meanwhile, this drought has been hitting farms really hard.  Winter wheat production in some areas will be about half of what it was last year, and this summer some wheat farmers may have to abandon their fields entirely
Yield potential for hard red winter wheat in southwest Kansas and northwestern Oklahoma is roughly half that of a year ago as exceptional drought conditions take a toll on the crop, scouts on an annual tour said on Wednesday.
Some farmers may be forced to abandon their wheat fields due to blisteringly dry growing conditions, adding to woes for those already suffering from declining global demand for U.S. wheat, scouts on the Wheat Quality Council tour said.
The United States has fallen to the No. 2 world exporter, behind top shipper Russia, and U.S. farmers this season planted the fewest wheat acres in a century. Kansas is the top wheat- growing U.S. state and Oklahoma is the fifth-largest producer.

Somewhere around 60 percent of all winter wheat in Texas is being graded “poor” or “very poor”, and Kansas is on pace to have its smallest winter wheat crop in nearly 30 years.

So what is going to happen this summer if we don’t see some substantial rainfall?
Many fear the worst.  In fact, one top expert is warning that agricultural losses in the state of Texas alone this year will be in the “billions”
Home to one of the nation’s most fertile farming areas—crop production in the Texas region alone generates about $12 billion in economic activity—observers say the drought could punish the agricultural sector, affecting everything from cotton to cattle to farming-equipment sales.
It’s going to be in the billions in terms of crop loss,” said Darren Hudson, director of the International Center for Agricultural Competitiveness at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

A lot of people don’t get too emotional about crops dying, but when horses start dropping dead that is another thing entirely.

At the top of this article I told you that horses have been dropping dead in the Southwest from a lack of water, and it isn’t just a few.

In fact, one media outlet recently reported the discovery of almost 200 dead horses around a dried up watering hole…
Off a northern Arizona highway surrounded by pastel-colored desert is one of the starkest examples of drought’s grip on the American Southwest: Nearly 200 dead horses surrounded by cracked earth, swirling dust and a ribbon of water that couldn’t quench their thirst. Flesh exposed and in various stages of decomposition, the carcasses form a circle around a dry watering hole sunken in the landscape, CBS affiliate KPHO-TV reports.

And please keep in mind that this is just May.

What are things going to look like once we get to July and August?

This is what a severe drought looks like.  We haven’t seen anything like this since the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and to be honest the Southwest is completely unprepared for what is about to happen.

Let us pray that rain comes soon, because without sufficient precipitation things could go from bad to worse very rapidly.



Jake Morphonius on Trump caqncelling North Korea summit

President Trump Cancels Summit with North Korea

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Today, President Trump cancelled the scheduled summit with North Korean president Kim Jong Un. This is a discussion of why he did it.



Yulia Skripal's scripted statement to media

Whose words was Yulia reading?



Off Guardian,
24 May, 2018

Yulia Skripal’s surprise video statement and walkabout yesterday has, as usual in this case, raised more questions than it has provided answers. The MSM has predictably addressed none of those questions and been content to simply air the video along with portions of her statement, laced with anti-Russian commentary and distorted summaries of the backstory (see here and here and here). 

Fortunately those in the alt media are free to try to do a little better.

Reuters broke the story, and claimed an exclusive, but have not yet clarified their bureau chief Guy Faulconbridge, whose name appears on the article actually, spoke to Yulia in person.

The strange prelude to the statement in which we see Yulia walking amongst foliage in a “secret location” as if she’s auditioning for a commercial or doing a promo for a true-movie about herself is surreal and bizarre. Why not a simple piece to camera? Why put her through the added ordeal of being taken to the woods somewhere and asked to wander about smiling? Are they trying to prove she’s ambulatory? Happy? free?

If so they have failed on two of the three counts. She doesn’t seem happy or even comfortable, and certainly doesn’t appear to be free to speak her own thoughts. Whose idea was it to film her in this location? How much duress was she under to comply.


Her statement is also very problematic. Allegedly it’s her own words, written by her in Russian and in English. But this remains highly debatable.


For one thing, the handwritten English version contains a sentence lifted straight from the previous statement made on her behalf by the Metropolitan Police back in April. The words “At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services” appear in para two of that statement. And as you can see below these exact words are also in Yulia’s hand-written text from yesterday


This is curious, because the Met Police statement was pretty clearly not written by Yulia, but by a very fluent speaker of a certain kind of English official-speak. And it gets even curiouser when you add the fact the Russian words Yulia is speaking to camera are not remotely similar to the alleged “translation.” According to Craig Murray:
Of the Russian Embassy she said very simply “I am not ready, I do not want their help”. Strangely this is again translated in the Reuters subtitles by the strangulated officialese of “I do not wish to avail myself of their services”, as originally stated in the unnatural Metropolitan Police statement issued on her behalf weeks ago.
I do not wish to avail myself of their services” is simply not a translation of what she says in Russian and totally misses the “I am not ready” opening phrase of that sentence.

The Russian Embassy, UK agrees with this take:



View image on Twitter

The bottom line is that MI5 should expect better results from their translators - for 32K/year they should be able to write statements which sound more Russian.

Why would Yulia – or anyone – translate her own Russian words using the same exact phrase previously used by the Met Police, which doesn’t even convey the right meaning?

There currently seems to be only one plausible explanation doesn’t there – that these are NOT Yulia’s words. That the English version of her new statement came first and was based on the original one from the Met Police in April. This was then translated into Russian by someone – probably not Yulia – and read out by her to camera. Murray again:
My conclusion is that Yulia’s statement was written by a British official and then translated to Russian for her to speak, rather than the other way round.
I tend to agree. In fact, Yulia’s statement looks just like that – a statement – written up by a police officer trained in the phrasing of such things, and not an informal composition by a civilian in her non-native language who simply wants to put a few things straight. Here’s the entire thing:
The text of Yulia Skripal’s statement in English, allegedly in her own hand and her own words

I came to the UK on the 3rd of March to visit my father, something I have done regularly in the past”.
I have chosen to interrupt my rehabilitation”…”
Also I want to reiterate..”

Well, of course Yulia may have written these words and even managed to spell “rehabilitation” faultlessly – something beyond an awful lot of native-speakers. But under the circumstances a certain amount of scepticism is reasonable.

Altogether, whether her hand was holding the pen when those words were put to paper, it’s currently looking pretty unlikely she actually had anything to do with composing them. Far more probably she simply took dictation.

It may also be noteworthy that in this version of her statement, Yulia says she would like to go back to Russia some day, while the previous version, which she did not deliver in person, didn’t contain any such sentiment.

Are the authorities holding out the promise she may be sent home eventually? Is it her own free choice she isn’t going home now?

If you were Yulia’s family member watching the strange events of yesterday, how reassured would you feel right now?


Yulia Skripal and the Salisbury WUT 328

23 May, 2018

It was happy to see Yulia alive and looking reasonably well yesterday, if understandably stressed. Notably, and in sharp contrast to Litvinenko, she leveled no accusations at Russia or anybody else for her poisoning. In Russian she spoke quite naturally. Of the Russian Embassy she said very simply “I am not ready, I do not want their help”. Strangely this is again translated in the Reuters subtitles by the strangulated officialese of “I do not wish to avail myself of their services”, as originally stated in the unnatural Metropolitan Police statement issued on her behalf weeks ago.

I do not wish to avail myself of their services” is simply not a translation of what she says in Russian and totally misses the “I am not ready” opening phrase of that sentence. My conclusion is that Yulia’s statement was written by a British official and then translated to Russian for her to speak, rather than the other way round. Also that rather than translate what she said in Russian themselves for the subtitles, Reuters have subtitled using a British government script they have been given.


It would of course have been much more convincing had Sergei also been present. Duress cannot be ruled out when he is held by the British authorities. I remain extremely suspicious that, at the very first chance she got in hospital, Yulia managed to get hold of a telephone (we don’t know how, it was not her own and she has not had access to one since) and phone her cousin Viktoria, yet since then the Skripals have made no attempt to contact their family in Russia. That includes no contact to Sergei’s aged mum, Yulia’s grandmother, who Viktoria cares for. Sergei normally calles his mother – who is 89 – regularly. This lack of contact is a worrying sign that the Skripals may be prevented from free communication to the outside world. Yulia’s controlled and scripted performance makes that more rather than less likely.

It is to me particularly concerning that Yulia does not seem to have social media access. The security services have the ability to give her internet risk free through impenetrable VPN. But they appear not to have done that.

We know a little more about the Salisbury attack now:

Nobody – not Porton Down, not the OPCW – has been able to state that the nerve agent found was of Russian manufacture, a fact which the MSM continues to disgracefully fudge with “developed in Russia” phrasing. As is now well known and was reported by Iran in scientific literature, Iran synthesised five novichoks recently. More importantly, the German spying agency BND obtained novichok in the 1990s and it was studied and synthesised in several NATO countries, almost certainly including the UK and USA.

In 1998, chemical formulae for novichok were introduced into the United States NIST National Institute of Standards and Technologies Mass Spectrometry Library database by U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical and Biological Defense Command, but the entry was later deleted. In 2009 Hillary Clinton instructed US diplomats to feign ignorance of novichoks, as revealed by the last paragraph of this Wikileaks released diplomatic cable.


Most telling was the Sky News interview with the head of Porton Down. Interviewer Paul Kelso repeatedly pressed Aitkenhead directly on whether the novichok could have come from Porton Down. Aitkenhead replies “There is no way, anything like that could…leave these four walls. We deal with a number of toxic substances in the work that we do, we’ve got the highest levels of security and controls”. Asked again twice, he each times says the security is so tight “the substance” could not have come from Porton Down. What Aitkenhead does NOT say is “of course it could not have come from here, we have never made it”. Indeed Aitkenhead’s repeated assertion that the security would never have let it out, is tantamount to an admission Porton Down does produce novichok.

If somebody asked you whether the lion that savaged somebody came from your garden, would you reply “Don’t be stupid, I don’t have a lion in my garden” or would you say, repeatedly, “Of course not, I have a very strong lion cage?”. Here you can see Mr Aitkenhead explain repeatedly he has a big lion cage, from 2’25” in.



So the question of where the nerve agent was made remains unresolved. The MSM has continually attempted to lie about this and affirm that all novichok is Russian made. The worst of corporate and state journalism in the UK was exposed when they took the OPCW’s report that it confirmed the findings of Porton Down and presented that as confirming the Johnson/May assertion that it was Russia, whereas the findings of Porton Down were actually – as the Aitkenhead interview stated categorically – that they could not say where it was made.

The other relatively new development is the knowledge that Skripal had not retired but was active for MI6 on gigs briefing overseas intelligence agencies about Russia. This did not increase his threat to Russia, as he told everything he knows a decade ago. But it could provide an element of annoyance that would indeed increase Russian official desire to punish him further.
But the fact he was still very much active has a far greater significance. The government slapped a D(SMA) notice on the identity of Pablo Miller, Skripal’s former MI6 handler who lives close by in Salisbury and who worked for Christopher Steele’s Orbis Intelligence at the time that Orbis produced the extremely unreliable dossier on Trump/Russia. The fact that Skripal had not retired but was still briefing on Russia, to me raises to a near certainty the likelihood that Skripal worked with Miller on the Trump dossier.



I have to say that, as a former Ambassador in the former Soviet Union trained in intelligence analysis and familiar with MI6 intelligence out of Moscow, I agree with every word of this professional dissection of the Orbis Trump dossier by Paul Roderick Gregory, irrespective of Gregory’s politics. In particular this paragraph, which Gregory wrote more than a year before the Salisbury attack, certainly applies to much of the dossier.

I have picked out just a few excerpts from the Orbis report. It was written, in my opinion, not by an ex British intelligence officer but by a Russian trained in the KGB tradition. It is full of names, dates, meetings, quarrels, and events that are hearsay (one an overheard conversation). It is a collection of “this important person” said this to “another important person.” There is no record; no informant is identified by name or by more than a generic title. The report appears to fail the veracity test in the one instance of a purported meeting in which names, dates, and location are provided. Some of the stories are so bizarre (the Rosneft bribe) that they fail the laugh test. Yet, there appears to be a desire on the part of some media and Trump opponents on both sides of the aisle to picture the Orbis report as genuine but unverifiable.

The Russian ex-intelligence officer who we know was in extremely close contact with Orbis at the time the report was written, was Sergei Skripal.

The Orbis report is mince. Skripal knew it was mince and how it was written. Skripal has a history of selling secrets to the highest bidder. The Trump camp has a lot of money. My opinion is that as the Mueller investigation stutters towards ignominious failure, Skripal became a loose end that Orbis/MI6/CIA/Clinton (take your pick) wanted tied off. That seems to me at least as likely as a Russian state assassination. To say Russia is the only possible suspect is nonsense.

The Incompetence Factor

The contradiction between the claim that the nerve agent was so pure it could only be manufactured by a state agent, and yet that it failed because it was administered in an amateur and incompetent fashion, does not bother the mainstream media. Boris Johnson claimed that the UK had evidence that Russia had a ten year programme of stockpiling secret novichok and he had a copy of a Russian assassination manual specifying administration by doorknob. Yet we are asked to believe that the Russians failed to notice that administration by doorknob does not actually work, especially in the rain. How two people both touched the doorknob in closing the door is also unexplained, as is how one policeman became poisoned by the doorknob but numerous others did not.

The explanations by establishment stooges of how this “ten times more powerful than VX” nerve agent only works very slowly, but then very quickly, if it touches the skin, and still does not actually kill you, have struck me as simply desperate. They make May’s ringing claims of a weapon of mass destruction being used on British soil appear somewhat unjustified. Weapon of Upset Tummy does not sound quite so exciting.

To paint a doorknob with something that if it touches you can kill you requires great care and much protective gear. That no strangely dressed individual has been identified by the investigation – which seems to be getting nowhere in identifying the culprit – is the key fact here. None of us know who did this. The finger-pointing at Russia by corporate and state interests seeking to stoke the Cold War is disgusting.

Boris Johnson pranked by Vovan and Lexus


The BBC won’t reference the actual interview – find it here!

Boris Johnson targeted by Russia prank caller

25 May, 2018

In a recording posted online, the UK foreign secretary congratulates the caller on his election and goes on to discuss UK-Russia relations, the Salisbury poisoning and Syria.


He also expresses surprise and interest when the caller claims President Putin is "influencing" Jeremy Corbyn.

The UK government believes the Kremlin was behind the call.

A senior UK diplomatic source said: "This seems to be the latest desperate attempt by the Kremlin to save face after it was internationally shamed in the wake of the Skripal attack.

"Boris rumbled them pretty quickly and ended the call.

"It is tragic to see a major international power reduced to failed pranks you would usually only see on Trigger Happy TV."

Downing Street said there would be a "Whitehall investigation" into how the caller was able to get through to the foreign secretary.

"Obviously this shouldn't have happened. An investigation is under way to determine the circumstances around this call and to make sure that this does not happen again," a No 10 spokeswoman said.

'Russian knowledge'

The 18-minute recording was posted on YouTube by pro-Kremlin British journalist Graham Phillips, BBC Monitoring reports.

It was credited to two prominent Russian political pranksters - Vladimir "Vovan" Kuznetsov and Alexei "Lexus" Stolyarov, who are in favour with the official Russian media.

It is not clear if the footage has been edited.

After congratulating the caller, Mr Johnson talks of developing UK-Armenia trade and investment links. Asked about Russia, and the Salisbury poisoning, he says he is "almost 100% sure" that Mr Putin was behind the attack and that it is important to avoid a "new Cold War".

He advises the caller to show "determination and firmness" when dealing with Mr Putin.

When the man claims the Russian president talked of his "influence" over the Labour leader and that his goddaughter "met with people of Mr Corbyn", Mr Johnson asks for more information.

"I am sure our intelligence will be listening on this line and they will draw the relevant conclusions," he says.

During the conversation, the caller also describes what he says is a fake video of the aftermath of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, to which Mr Johnson said it seemed to be "very clear" that the Syrian regime was behind a chlorine attack in Douma, "almost certainly with Russian knowledge".

'Smart diplomat'

Mr Johnson also jokes about the number of Russian oligarchs living in London.

"You throw a stone in Kensington and you'll hit an oligarch, some of them are close to Putin and some of them aren't," he says.

The Foreign Office said Mr Johnson realised the call was a hoax.

It added: "We checked it out and knew immediately it was a prank call. The use of chemical weapons in Salisbury and Syria, and recent events in Armenia are serious matters.

"These childish actions show the lack of seriousness of the caller and those behind him."

Details of the call were published in the pro-Kremlin tabloid newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, with one of the hoaxers, Alexei Stolyarov, saying Mr Johnson had turned out to be "a smart diplomat".

"For the first time we spoke with an intellectual, and not a fool," he is reported as saying.

- BBC


Cyclone Mekunu hits Yemen

"The situation is extremely critical," eight missing hundreds of others evacuated as Cyclone Mekunu hit Yemen's island of Socotra



24 May, 2018

On May 23, NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a visible light image of Mekunu.
The image showed the low-level centre of circulation southeast of Masirah Island, Oman.

A band of thunderstorms in the western quadrant stretched over the island and skirted Oman’s mainland coast.

Eight people were missing and hundreds of others evacuated from their homes as Cyclone Mekunu hit Yemen's island of Socotra on Wednesday night.

Four of the missing were crew on board a boat that sank in the Arabian Sea and are suspected to be dead.

At least three vessels have gone off the radar, a source told The National.
The cyclone has caused severe flooding and damage to houses, bringing with it strong winds and thunderstorms.

"The situation is extremely critical," said the former governor of the island, Salem Abdullah Al Socotri.

"The roads are flooded, and we cannot get out of [the northern coastal town] of Hadibu to see what is going on in other areas of the island.

Also, the strong winds have intercepted telecommunications, so we are almost isolated."

Mr Al Sacotri said the operations and control room in Hadibu received information that a cargo ship sank about 80 kilometres off the shore of the island.

"According to our data, the ship was coming from Mukalla, and we still don't know whether or not the crew survived," he told The National.

The homes of some residents in Socotra have been completely destroyed after the cyclone hit the island.

"Some families who had to evacuate their homes have gone to mosques and schools for shelter because their mud-built residences had collapsed, the structures were not strong enough," Abdulrahman Juman, a Yemeni activist and volunteer, said.

Odd and Dangerous Mekunu Bears Down on Oman

24 May, 2017

This year, two tropical cyclones have sprung up in the Western Arabian Sea. A region where, according to our understanding of climate, “storms do not form.” Well, the climate has clearly changed. Because a storm is raging there now. And for Oman today, these changes bring with them serious threats to life and property.



(Discussion of how climate change has altered tropical cyclone formation and intensity dynamics in the Western Arabian Sea during 2018.)
About five days ago, tropical storm Sagar formed east of Somalia in the Western Arabian Sea near the Gulf of Yemen. The storm was notable due to the fact that it was the furthest west a storm had ever formed in this region, according to records. The storm then dumped copious amounts of rainfall over Somalia — resulting in the loss of 34 lives.

Just a few days later, a second storm, Mekunu formed in about the same region. Tracking north, it is now threatening Oman with the potential to hit category 2 intensity. Unlike Sagar, Mekunu poses a triple threat due to expected very heavy rainfall, large waves, and storm surge.
(Mekunu rages south of Oman and Yemen after forming in the Western Arabian Sea. Image source: NASA.)

The region near Salalah Oman that the storm is barreling toward — typically receives just five inches of rainfall per year. But Mekunu could deliver two to five times that amount (or more) in just a few days. Moreover, the flat coastal plain is backed by mountainous terrain to the north. The higher land produces lift that will intensify expected rainfall. And current models predict that more than two feet of water (24 inches) could fall on up-sloping regions facing Mekunu’s advance. What’s notable is that these totals keep rising and that peak local totals for the storm in the NOAA NCEP model show some ridiculous amounts — up to 74 inches (see below).

Why are peaks in this model so high? First, sea surface temperatures are very extreme throughout the region. In the immediate vicinity of Mekunu, ocean surfaces range from 30 to 32 degrees Celsius. The waters are about 1 to 2 C above normal and are thus providing Mekunu with a lot more moisture than is typical. However, the larger environment that Mekunu is feeding off of also has much higher than typical moisture loads. For one, sea surfaces east of Somalia have spiked to as much as 5 C above average recently — pumping out great loads of evaporation. Further, moisture levels over the Arabian Peninsula are high due to moisture streaming in along a rather intense subtropical Jet Stream moving over the also much warmer than normal sea surfaces in the Med. The result is a much higher than normal rainfall potential.
(Mekunu presents a very severe rainfall risk for Oman in addition to a predicted strong storm surge and very high waves. Image source: NOAA NCEP.)

Such heavy rains would flush floods of water into lowlands already confronted with high waves and rising seas. According to a recent report by Bob Henson at Weather Underground, wave heights could reach 24 feet along the coast. The same report cites storm surge expert Dr Hal Needham who states:
The significant wave height leads me to think coastal flood potential is a real threat. At some point the water from waves crashing onshore does not have time to drain before the next wave hits. My gut feeling is that we could see a noticeable storm surge that is quite dynamic, with a lot of wave action and rapidly moving water. Expect wave heights to be tremendous.

(Much warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the Mediterranean and Arabian Seas are helping cyclones to form in atypical regions even as they are lending fuel to their intensification. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

Mekunu’s intensity is certainly quite high. And it is one of a recent spate of storms to impact the region. With research showing that the intensity of storms in the Arabian Sea has increased during the past 20 year period. However, the far western formation of Mekunu and Sagar add a new twist to the story. For it appears that the zone of storm formation is also shifting westward as sea surface temperatures rise and, apparently, Jet Stream changes have the potential to deliver higher levels of atmospheric moisture to the Arabian Peninsula. All of these factors feed both storm formation and intensity potentials