By Robert A. Vella
In a bizarrely prophetic ritual, Iceland officially commemorated the first loss of one of its glaciers to climate change today. Perhaps it should open up a symbolic graveyard because many more glaciers will soon meet the same fate. Meanwhile in the American heartland, a new doomsday bunker business is thriving as fearful wealthy people are buying up former missile sites and other underground military facilities at cut-rate prices. A bomb blast killed and injured over 240 people in Kabul, Afghanistan as negotiations continue to facilitate a withdrawal of U.S. forces from that country. An unprecedented heavy police presence in Portland, Oregon prevented large scale violence from breaking out yesterday between white supremacist demonstrators and Antifa counter-protesters, but there were several injuries and arrests. Racial hatred is so ripe in the White House that Trump administration officials even wanted to kick immigrant children out of public schools. President Trump has revoked the press credentials of a second CNN reporter in yet another display of political retribution. While Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden is demanding that the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) stop blocking attempts to investigate financial ties between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Russia, another “Democrat” – House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal – is refusing to launch his own investigation. You might recall that Neal has also been dragging his feet on using new state laws to acquire Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Iceland on Sunday honours the passing of Okjokull, its first glacier lost to climate change, as scientists warn that some 400 others on the subarctic island risk the same fate.
A bronze plaque will be unveiled in a ceremony starting around 1400 GMT to mark Okjokull — which translates to “Ok glacier” — in the west of Iceland, in the presence of local researchers and their peers at Rice University in the United States, who initiated the project.
Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, Environment Minister Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson are also due to attend the event.
Americans have, for generations, prepared themselves for society’s collapse. They built fallout shelters during the Cold War and basement supply caches ahead of Y2K. But in recent years, personalized disaster prep has grown into a multimillion-dollar business, fueled by a seemingly endless stream of new and revamped threats, from climate change to terrorism, cyberattacks and civil unrest.
Bunker builders and brokers have emerged as key players in this field. And they see the interior of the country, with its wide-open spaces, as a prime place to build. Aiding them is history. During the Cold War, the military spent billions of dollars constructing nuclear warheads and hiding them in underground lairs around the nation, often in Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Those hideaways, emptied of their bombs, are now on the market and enterprising civilians are buying them (relatively) cheap and flipping the properties. Eager customers abound.
More than 60 people were killed and scores wounded in an explosion targeting a wedding in the Afghan capital, authorities said Sunday, the deadliest attack in Kabul in recent months.
The blast, which took place late Saturday in the city’s west, came as Washington and the Taliban are in the final stages of a deal to reduce the US military presence in Afghanistan.
The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack.
A heavy police presence largely kept members of the Proud Boys and other far-right groups separated from far-left, anti-fascist activists at a downtown park Saturday, mostly avoiding violent clashes that have marred earlier confrontations.
At least 13 people were arrested, and four people have minor injuries, according to Portland Police. Although the day was largely peaceful, police said they seized weapons such as metal and wooden poles, bear spray and shields from demonstrators.
At one point, the far-right organizers asked for police to escort them from the area.
(Bloomberg) — Some top aides to President Donald Trump sought for months for a way to give states the power to block undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in public schools — all part of the administration’s efforts to stem illegal crossings at the southern U.S. border.
Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller had been a driving force behind the effort as early as 2017, pressing cabinet officials and members of the White House Domestic Policy Council repeatedly to devise a way to limit enrollment, according to several people familiar with the matter. The push was part of a menu of ideas on immigration that could be carried out without congressional approval.
Ultimately, they abandoned the idea after being told repeatedly that any such effort ran afoul of a 1982 Supreme Court case guaranteeing access to public schools. But the consideration of denying hundreds of thousands of children access to education illustrates the breadth of the White House’s push to crack down on undocumented immigrants.
The Trump administration has fired another shot in its war with the US press, suspending the credentials of Brian Karem, White House correspondent for Playboy and an analyst for CNN.
The 30-day revocation was announced on Friday and echoes hugely controversial action taken against CNN’s Jim Acosta in November 2018.
NRA’s Russia ties
Senator Ron Wyden blasted the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Friday after the agency’s Republican commissioners blocked an attempt to fully investigate the National Rifle Association (NRA) over reports that Russia may have used the gun-rights group as a conduit for its election interference efforts, and possibly in contravention of campaign finance law.
In particular, the FEC was considering whether to further probe if Alexander Torshin, a senior official at the Central Bank of Russia, and Maria Butina, his former assistant, may have violated the ban on election contributions from foreign nationals by funneling money through the NRA.
The House Ways and Means Committee, the oversight body in the House of Representatives with jurisdiction over non-profit organizations, has so far declined to launch a formal probe of the NRA, though it is under the control of Democrat Richard Neal.