‘Clinton’s warmongering caused Trump’s presidency’

This video from the USA says about itself:

LATEST WIKILEAKS: Hillary Clinton Concerned About Saudi Arabia, Continues To Accept Saudi Money

11 October 2016

Trump's electoral success in high casualty states

By Eric London in the USA:

New study shows Clinton lost election because of growing working class opposition to war

8 July 2017

Since Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 elections, the corporate press, the Democratic Party, and a host of self-proclaimed left-wing groups that operate in the Democrats’ orbit have attempted to prove that Trump’s election was the product of bigotry and backwardness in the white working class.

This false narrative is further exploded by a new report titled “Battlefield Casualties and Ballot Box Defeat: Did the Bush-Obama Wars cost Clinton the White House?

Published in June by Douglas Kriner of Boston University and Francis Shen of the University of Minnesota Law School, the study concludes that the Democratic Party lost the 2016 election because working class voters in poorer areas hit hardest by military casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan saw the Democratic Party as the primary party of war and militarism. They abstained or voted for Trump as a result.

Kriner and Shen break down the shift away from the Democratic Party from 2012 to 2016 on a state-by-state and county-by-county basis and compare the shift with soldier death rates from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The authors find “extreme” levels of disparity between county casualty rates. Just over half of all counties had a casualty rate of 1 or fewer deaths per 100,000 from Iraq and Afghanistan, while a mere 10 percent of counties have casualty rates of over 7 war deaths per 100,000 residents. The counties with the highest casualty rates are the poorest and least educated.

Trump’s electoral success in high casualty states

Kriner and Shen find a strong positive correlation between Republican shift in 2016 and death and injuries from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each state’s rise in the casualty rate by one person per million residents corresponded with a roughly .25 percent swing from Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016.

The authors conclude that if the casualty rates in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin were lowered by 10 people per million, Clinton would have won all three states. Trump won each state by less than 1 percent, pushing him past the 270 electoral vote mark required to win election.

How lower casualty rates in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan might have cost Clinton the election

“Our analysis predicts that Trump would have lost between 1.4 percent and 1.6 percent of the vote if the state had suffered a lower casualty rate. As illustrated in Figure 2, such margins would have easily flipped all three states into the Democratic column. Trump’s ability to connect with voters in communities exhausted by more than fifteen years of war may have been critically important to his narrow electoral victory.”

This process played out even more acutely on a county-by-county level: “Trump was even more successful in surpassing Romney’s 2012 performance in communities that had suffered disproportionately high casualty rates.”

Kriner and Shen explain that anti-war sentiment among the poorer sections of the population most impacted by the war has been a dominant, subterranean feature of American political life for over a decade.

In 2004, one-and-a-half years after the Bush administration launched the war in Iraq, the authors point out that although Bush won reelection, “he lost significant electoral ground in states and communities that had paid the heaviest share of the war burden in casualties.”

In 2006, when the Democrats won both houses of congress, Kriner and Shen note that “Republican losses were steepest among communities that had suffered disproportionately high casualty rates in Iraq.” They note, “In both 2004 and 2006, voters in these communities became more likely to vote against politicians perceived as orchestrating conflicts in which their friends and neighbors died.”

Similarly, the authors explain that Barack Obama won the 2008 election in large part as a result of popular opposition to the war in Iraq, which Obama claimed to oppose.

“The electoral punishment suffered by Republicans in the 2000s was a story of both casualty and economic inequality,” Kriner and Shen write. “The communities suffering the most from the fighting overseas were communities with lower income and education levels. These communities, in turn, increasingly turned against political candidates insisting on more combat.”

But while “voters in such communities increasingly abandoned Republican candidates in a series of elections in the 2000s,” their opposition to war expressed itself in a turn away from the Democrats in 2016.

After benefiting from the groundswell of opposition provoked by the Bush administration’s wars, the Obama administration continued the wars and sent tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan. His administration was the first in US history to spend a full two terms at war.

Under Democratic Party leadership, the government launched new wars in Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Syria. Clinton ran her 2016 campaign on calls for escalating US intervention in Syria and threatening war with Russia, a nuclear armed power. It is a testament to the record of the Democratic Party that Trump’s jingoistic program could be viewed by many as the more “dovish” option.

Kriner and Shen’s statistics reveal a powerful fact about American politics: the working class is tired of being used as cannon fodder in imperialist war.

However, they add, “In the post-election analysis of the 2016 cycle, discussion of war fatigue has been all but absent. This oversight may plausibly be due to the fact that most American elites in the chattering class have not, at least in recent years, been directly affected by on-going conflicts. Children of elites are not as likely to serve and die in the Middle East, and elite communities are thus less likely to make this a point of conversation. The costs of war remain largely hidden, and an invisible inequality of military sacrifice has taken hold.”

Indeed, the Democratic establishment and their pseudo-left supporters live in a different world than the workers whose racism and sexism they blame for Trump’s election.

Young people living in rural and semi-rural areas hit by decades of deindustrialization and nonstop cuts to social programs make up the bulk of the armed forces of US imperialism. High unemployment and low education often leave the military or National Guard as the only stable work options. Many regions with high recruitment rates also suffer under the weight of the opioid crisis and heavy rates of drug and alcohol abuse. While 7,000 soldiers died in Iraq and Afghanistan, tens of thousands of veterans have killed themselves; a total of 20 each day.

But efforts by the Democratic and pseudo-left press to ignore the growth of anti-war sentiment are not, as Kriner and Shen claim, an “oversight.” The stock portfolios of the wealthiest 10 percent of the population depend on a constant supply of working class youth whose bodies and minds can be sacrificed to secure resources and cheap labor for the banks and corporations to exploit abroad.


Chipmunks, blue jays and peanuts in the USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Chipmunk Genius Teaches Blue Jays Lefty-Loosey Righty-Tighty Lesson

7 July 2017

The Albert Einstein of Chipmunks learns which way to turn a “nut” on a screw in five seconds flat – something some humans take a lifetime to learn! Mr Chipmunk is a quick-study and schools the Blue Jays – who are rightfully impressed – how did he do that? They are some of the smartest cookies of the bird world, but lack the proper tools for tightening and untightening fasteners.

Trump escalates United States war in Somalia

This video says about itself:

America’s “Shadow War” In Somalia Gets A Fresh Start Under Trump

23 June 2017

U.S. airstrikes in Somalia have killed over 400 people in the last eight years as part of a quiet war on “terrorism.” Parts of the country have been designated as “active war zones,” allowing for more strikes to take place with little to no oversight.

By Timotheos Gaist in the USA:

Trump escalates US drone war in Somalia

8 July 2017

The Trump White House escalated American imperialism’s decades-long war in Somalia this week, ordering American military drones to launch repeated airstrikes against insurgent strongholds in southern regions of the impoverished Horn of Africa nation.

… The attacks are openly acknowledged in American ruling class media as marking the onset of a major expansion of the war.

During its first six months in office, the Trump administration has laid the foundations for a wider war in Somalia, extending and building upon the general policy of covert and proxy war against Somalia pursued by the previous two administrations under the banner of the “global war on terrorism.”

In March, Trump granted US commanders open-ended authority to wage war throughout southern Somalia, without approval by civilian authorities. In April, President Trump approved deployment of scores of regular American ground troops to Somalia, the first such deployments since the 1992 “Operation Restore Hope,” which saw some 30,000 imperialist troops dispatched to the outskirts of Mogadishu, under the pretext of providing humanitarian aid.

The Trump White House now favors “even more permissive rules of engagement for drone operations in Yemen and Somalia,” Center for Drone Studies expert Dan Gettinger told Fox News last week.

The drone war in Somalia, waged by the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) for more than 10 years, is being organized from AFRICOM’s Camp Lemonnier, in neighboring Djibouti.

Local sources report seeing dozens of heavily armed drones and war planes leaving Lemonnier’s airfield every day. American military and intelligence operatives have also established a secret drone and commando training base at Baledogle airport, some 70 miles north of Mogadishu, according to Homeland Security News Wire.

“We continue to work in coordination with our Somali partners and allies to systematically dismantle al Shabaab, and help achieve stability and security throughout the region,” an AFRICOM statement released Tuesday said.

“U.S. forces remain committed to supporting the Federal Government of Somalia [FGS], the Somali National Army and our Amisom partners in defeating al Shabaab and establishing a safe and secure environment in Somalia,” Pentagon spokesperson Major Audricia Harris said.

The drumbeat of drone strikes, commando raids, and proxy wars by US-backed regional forces and warlords have completely failed to defeat or even stem the al Shabaab insurgency, which has consolidated its hold over large areas of the country, and continues to deal punishing blows against the government.

The Islamist militia, which emerged out of the youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), has achieved a series of tactical successes in recent months, aggressively engaging and defeating government troops across a broad swath of the country, from the oil-rich Puntland region in the north, to the Somali-Kenyan border in the south. On June 8, al Shabaab forces overran a government military base in Puntland, killing dozens of government soldiers, and seizing large quantities of weaponry, munitions and armored vehicles.

Al Shabaab “has cemented its hold on ungoverned territory across southern and central Somalia, even after decades of the United States partnering with some African nations to combat al-Qaida’s third-largest affiliate,” the American military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported Wednesday.

“In the last eight months, al-Shabaab has overrun three African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Forward Operating Bases by amassing large numbers of fighters and attacking in overwhelming numbers. Al-Shabaab has also increased its combat capability by seizing heavy weaponry, armored vehicles, explosives, small arms, ammunition, and other miscellaneous supplies during its operations overrunning Burundian National Defense Forces FOB Leego, Ugandan People’s Defense Force FOB Janaale, and Kenyan Defense Force FOB Ceel Ad,” AFRICOM acknowledged in a June 11 statement.

“The terror organization has cemented its control over southern and central Somalia, they have used this area to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, and to shelter other radical terrorists,” AFRICOM said.

This week saw al Shabaab mount brazen attacks against targets associated with the US-allied Kenyan government to the south, whose Kenyan Defense Forces (KDF) have served as a proxy occupation force on behalf of Washington since 2011.

On July 6, al Shabaab fighters launched attacks against a Kenyan police station near the coastal town of Lamu, and in the Boni forest along the Kenya-Somalia border. The fighting near Lamu, whose port facility sits at the eastern end of the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) strategic infrastructure corridor, lasted throughout the day, leaving three Kenyan police officers dead.

The rise of al Shabaab is powerful measure of the ongoing collapse of the nation-state system. The extremist militia group has exploited the breakdown of Somalia’s central government to establish power bases in large areas of the country, taking on social and economic roles associated with normal sovereign states, such as levying taxes and providing basic services. The group’s internal intelligence service, known as the Amniyat, regularly carries out sophisticated covert operations in the heart of Mogadishu, assassinating top officials and bombing FSG facilities.

“Al-Shabab is becoming a shadow government, positioning itself as Somalia’s champion of disenfranchised and marginalized clans,” American University Professor Tricia Bacon wrote in an analysis for the Washington Post. “This is why al-Shabab won’t be going away anytime soon.

“Al-Shabab has shown an impressive ability to adapt and is positioned to not only survive, but to thrive. It has overrun AMISOM forward operating bases (FOB), killing and injuring scores of troops and seizing arms, military vehicles and heavy weaponry,” Bacon wrote. “Al-Shabab has a remarkably effective taxation system that few dare to defy, even those living, as one person I interviewed put it, ‘a stone’s throw from an AMISOM FOB.’ That brings in a steady stream of revenue. What’s more, al-Shabab is relatively uncorrupt and efficient. You can see that clearly on the roads that it controls, where it operates checkpoints that require set payments, offers a receipt to passengers, and keeps the roads relatively safe.

“Al-Shabab finds ways to exploit the vacuum left by the state, tapping into a deep reservoir of grievances. It has both conventional military strength and terrorist abilities as well as political and ideological influence that goes beyond its territorial holdings,” she wrote.

US ruling class strategists fear a repeat, in Somalia, of the seizure of large areas of northern Iraq by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which took the Pentagon high command completely by surprise, and nearly toppled the US-backed government in Baghdad.

The FSG has proven incapable of securing and holding the vast majority of its own territory, aside from central areas of Mogadishu, small portions of the surrounding Indian Ocean coastline, and narrow corridors linking the capital and the southern port city of Kismayo to the Kenyan and Ethiopia borders. Calls are growing for US forces to assume a much larger role in the FGS’s defense, until now left in the hands of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops drawn from the militaries of Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda, supported by American commandos, “advisers,” and air power. Such a mission would require thousands of conventional ground forces, along the lines of the ongoing US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’ve convinced ourselves that working through our African partners is going to solve the problem. But in many cases, it’s making the problem we’re trying to solve worse,” American Enterprise Institute analyst Katherine Zimmerman argued in an appearance on Fox News.

Whatever the exact form taken by future US war operations, it is clear that American imperialism is determined to employ ever greater levels of military violence against a Somali society that is already reeling from decades of imperialist-orchestrated war, and is wracked by historic levels of famine, drought and disease.

Over 750,000 Somalis have been displaced by drought since November 2016, with more than 20,000 displaced in June alone. More than 50,000 Somalis have been treated for cholera or acute watery diarrhea (AWD) since the beginning of 2017. Some 350,000 Somali children under the age of five are currently acutely malnourished, according to a United Nations Humanitarian Snapshot published July 6.

The spread of famine is accelerating the destabilization of US-backed political arrangements throughout East Africa, and placing mass social struggles against imperialism on the order of the day. AFRICOM is “war-gaming procedures to work in a famine environment,” US Marine Corps General Thomas Waldhauser told Congress in March.

Nearly 27 million people living in the broader East African region, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, urgently require food aid, according to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Five million South Sudanese are projected to be “severely food insecure” by the end of July, according to the UN.

Since the beginning of the year, the US has rapidly expanded its forces and significantly ramped up its military offensive in Somalia, conducting at least 28 air strikes in 2017. By comparison, 13 such air strikes were carried out in 2016, and five during 2015: here.

Grenfell Tower disaster, Londoners speak

People paying their respects to the Grenfell Tower victims at a memorial at a local church in North Kensington

From the World Socialist Web Site:

London resident on Grenfell fire: “I’m looking at a graveyard with people’s relatives inside”

By our reporters

7 July 2017

World Socialist Web Site reporters met Layla, a pregnant mother of three, outside the Westway Sports Centre in North Kensington. The centre has been used as the location of a makeshift “Assistance Centre” by Kensington and Chelsea Council in the aftermath of the inferno that destroyed nearby Grenfell Tower. Volunteers have assisted in providing shelter, food, drink, clothing and advice for families evacuated due to the fire.

Layla and her family were evacuated from their home “right underneath” Grenfell Tower. She described what happened in the early hours of June 14 as the fire engulfed the entire 24-storey tower and the aftermath in which they suffered callous treatment at the hands of the Conservative-run council.

“Oh the screaming!” she said. “The fire brigade told us to turn the gas off and get out—we were screaming with fear. The fire brigade was helpless. For five days we had nowhere to go. Then the TMO [Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation] put us in a room with hot water, but no kitchen facilities. How can I feed the baby with takeaways? This is the richest borough in Europe—all they have given me is £500.

“The volunteers have been brilliant, they give food, clothes. Without them …”

Asked who she thought was responsible for the fire, Layla answered, “The TMO, Kensington and Chelsea Council, the government—they’ve got blood on their hands, they are murderers. …We’ve begged them to box the gas pipes, we have mice, asbestos!

“My friend is in hospital with a burnt oesophagus from the cyanide [produced by the flammable cladding that was wrapped around Grenfell tower].”

Layla’s biggest concern was the trauma experienced by her children. Her five-year-old daughter lost her teacher and three friends in the fire, and her 12-year-old son lost seven friends from his school.

“What has this done to the kids—they’re going to have some serious issues,” she said. “And the toxicity levels … my kids say they don’t want to go back to the black home. It’s a grave. If I leave will I be homeless? I lived there 13 years. I had a normal life, I was happy.”

Layla fears that if she does not return home when the council deems it safe to do so, she will be declared intentionally homeless. “They want us to live like dogs,” she declared.

Deliveryman Chris said, “I’ve lost both my parents, but [the Grenfell survivors] lost everything, all their clothes, possessions. … Everyone’s entitled to a roof over their heads. It’s going to be a long fought-out battle to get justice.”

Residents leaving Westway Sports Centre

Edward, a teacher, said the authorities “are all telling us, leave it to us. It is profit over safety. All that boasting about ending regulation. What did [former Conservative Prime Minister David] Cameron say, ‘War on regulations?’”

“I agree, ultimately this is an international struggle. I agree wholeheartedly that the capitalist system has failed.”

Another teacher, Joe, said the Grenfell Tower fire “highlighted the gaps between the haves and have-nots. We don’t know who is really missing; there were so many visiting because of Ramadan. One child is dead from my school!”

Wind-Up Penguin Theatre Company with Katie (right)

Katie MacDonald is a musician and part of the Wind-Up Penguin Theatre Company. She said, “We create shows for children and take them all over the world. We work with disadvantaged children in orphanages and slums, with refugees across the world. But we felt that it was absolutely the time to come and do that here in London.

“You look at the kind of places we go to, like India, Brazil, Colombia, places that are essentially still developing in a lot of ways. You expect a country like Britain to have its shit together, but it doesn’t and [pointing to Grenfell Tower] that’s a classic example… I really believe that something needs to change.”

Grenfell Tower

Asked what he thought about Prime Minister Theresa May’s inquiry into the fire, Cliff, a bus driver, said, “They’re not going to get any answers. They know they’ve screwed up. The rich people are so greedy, they don’t care about other people, just themselves. This country could turn into a third world country where you have to pay for hospital treatment.

“As for [ex-London Mayor and Conservative Foreign Minister] Boris Johnson, he cut the fire service, he closed all the ticket offices in the Underground. There used to be a proper transport system in London, but privatisation messes everything up.”

Lucy and Sarah from Aberdeen were in London for a concert by the singer Adele. This was cancelled, so instead they went to Grenfell Tower to pay their respects to those who died.

Lucy said she did not believe the official police death toll of 80. “It’s frustrating that people keep saying the numbers are being downplayed, because looking at that building you can totally understand why. It’s very hard to put an absolute number on it. Looking at that there has to be far more. If you look at 120 flats with an average of 2-4 people in them.”

Residents at Grenfell Tower had complained for years that that the block was unsafe and a fire hazard. Lucy said, “This is absolutely my experience. We stay in housing association flats up in Scotland and we go in with complaints and they never listen to them. You have to threaten to take things to a higher level before anything really happens and even then it’s never done to our satisfaction.

“It’s all being played down because basically the buck’s got to fall somewhere and nobody wants to be the one left with the baton in their hands. I do liken this to Hillsborough [the stadium in Sheffield where 96 Liverpool football club supporters were crushed to death in 1989] because it’s taken 28 years for those who really were culpable to be taken to task. I don’t think anyone in this country will wait 28 years for the truth to come out. It makes me really angry.”

Anne Jones from Clapham said, “Our hearts are just broken for these people and being here it’s just shocking. I’m just thinking about this fictitious figure of 80 people dead and there is no way! We’re not stupid, we’re Londoners and we know how many people can get packed into a tower block. One lady had 12 children. Another report I saw online a couple of days ago, firemen found I think it was 42 people all huddled together in one flat.”

“I’m not a political animal, I think they’re all corrupt. But on a personal level, Mr. Boris Johnson, I don’t know how you can sleep in your bed having known you closed those fire stations. Everybody knew at the council that the ladders [used by the fire brigade] only go as far as the 11th floor. They had to send to Surrey for ladders that would maybe take them another three floors higher … It is pure negligence, it is blood guilt.”

Looking at the burnt-out shell of Grenfell Tower, she said: “There’s nothing I can say. I’m looking at a graveyard with people’s relatives inside.”

Junior told the WSWS that he thought the issue was “galvanising the troops” to fight back. “What I read on my newsfeed is not what is going to happen—nobody saw Brexit coming, they didn’t think Trump was going to win. Things are happening all over the world—there is massive poverty among white workers, cities are left to rot in America.”

In a dangerous precedent, two housing associations have suspended an ongoing operation to remove unsafe, combustible cladding on residential towers, due to what they described as “unclear” advice from the Conservative government in the wake of the deadly June 14 fire in Grenfell Tower in west London. Two companies run 20 of the 29 tower blocks in the city of Salford in the northwest of England whose cladding failed fire safety tests—Salix, 8, and City West Housing Trust, 12. Salix said on Friday that in stopping the work it was “acting in line” with other companies around the UK that run social housing: here.

Fern evolution, new study

This video says about itself:

Immortalized Fossil Fern Reveals Evolutionary Standstill

A remarkably preserved, 180-million-year-old fossilized fern has been unearthed in Sweden.

The fern was in such pristine condition that its tiny cellular parts were intact, according to a study detailed today (March 20 2017) in the journal Science.

And it turns out, not much has changed for the family of ferns in the last 180 million years.

“The genome size of these reputed living fossils has remained unchanged over at least 180 million years — a paramount example of evolutionary stasis,” the authors wrote in the paper.

Ferns are some of the most primeval plants; they first appeared in the fossil record nearly 360 million years ago. But many modern ferns got their start in the Cretaceous Period, when flowering plants emerged.

The newfound Jurassic Period fossil fern was uncovered in Korsaröd, Sweden, in a bed of volcanic rock. The specimen, which measures 2.3 inches (5.8 centimeters) long and 1.6 inches (4.1 cm) wide, was so exquisitely preserved that its cytoplasm (the gel-like substance that fills a cell), nuclei and chromosomes were still intact and visible under a microscope. The plant cells were in different stages of cell division.

The fossilized plant was likely preserved when minerals in the superheated, salty water oozing from a crack in the earth, called a hydrothermal brine seep, rapidly crystallized, freezing the plant in time while it was still alive.

By measuring the delicate subcellular parts, the team found the nuclei of the ancient plants were virtually the same size as those in a modern living relative, Osmundastrum cinnamomeum, or the cinnamon fern. The number of chromosomes and the DNA content also seemed to match closely with the modern fern.

The findings suggest this ancient fern hasn’t lost or gained much genetic material over the last 180 million years, a remarkably long period to go without much evolutionary change, the authors wrote.

According to Live Science.

From the University of Turku in Finland:

Fern fossil data clarifies origination and extinction of species

July 6, 2017

Throughout the history of life, new groups of species have flourished at the expense of earlier ones and global biodiversity has varied dramatically over geologic time. A new study led by the University of Turku, Finland, shows that completely different factors regulate the rise and fall of species.

“Previously, the debate has been about whether biodiversity is regulated mainly by the interaction between species or the external environment,” explains researcher and leader of the study Samuli Lehtonen from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku.

In order to test these competing views, Lehtonen compiled a group of top researchers from Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. The researchers focused on the diversity of ferns and the factors that influenced it during the past 400 million years. Ferns have survived no less than four mass extinctions and during their extremely long evolutionary history, the dominant fern groups have changed repeatedly.”

“Thanks to the rich fern fossil data and a large amount of DNA information from living species, we were able to test multiple competing evolutionary models for the first time by using new analytical methods,” says Professor Alexandre Antonelli from the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre (GGBC) who participated in the study.

The observed variation in the fern diversity was compared with the variation in other groups of plants and in the environment, such as continental drift and climate changes. The results show that changes in the environment strongly influence extinctions but surprisingly not the origination of new diversity. Instead, the formation of new fern species is accelerated when the fern diversity is low (e.g. after mass extinctions). The study suggests that origination of new species is mainly a neutral process in which the probability of speciation increases when diversity is low.

“Factors affecting extinction and origination of species are surprisingly different, with past climate change having the highest impact on extinction but not on originations,” notes researcher Daniele Silvestro from the GGBC who developed the mathematical model used in the study.

The old competing hypotheses seem to explain different sides of the same problem, making arguing about them pointless, unless extinctions and originations are studied separately.