By Robert A. Vella

CBS’ 60 Minutes news magazine program aired two stories last night which I’m recommending to readers as MUST SEE.

The first is an on-location exposé on Australia’s devastating and unprecedented wildfires which are a consequential result of rapidly accelerating climate change perpetuated by right-wing political leaders who are ideologically opposed to effective mitigation efforts.  Although this political opposition is the greatest obstacle to reversing humanity’s collision course with a problematic and uncertain future, the sociological dynamics of climate change denialism is a much more pervasive issue.  Despite year after year of mounting evidence, the stubbornness of accepting the realities of global warming still infect a much larger group of people around the world.  Some of this resistance results from skepticism by those who have difficulty understanding climatology specifically, and science in general.  For example, a left-wing blogger on this social media platform recently blamed the Australian wildfires solely on arson while summarily ignoring the fact that extreme and prolonged droughts triggered by climate change are directly relatable to the scope and scale of these fires regardless of what sparked them individually (e.g. lightning and human activity).  Some of this resistance also results from increasing anti-establishment, anti-intellectualism, and anti-technology attitudes across the globe;  and, philosophical resistance (e.g. religious fanaticism and various “back to nature” movements like Lebensreform) is also quite prevalent.

The second story further illuminates President Trump’s ongoing collusion with Vladimir Putin’s Russia which is now corrupting the U.S. Department of Justice and is threatening to corrupt the 2020 presidential election through a deceitful disinformation campaign plus other tactics including outright election fraud and interference.

You can watch the two 60 Minutes segments in the following links. All textual emphasis in these excerpts are by The Secular Jurist.

Australia’s wildfires

From:  Australia’s bushfires show drastic effects of climate change – Scientists say climate change is behind the unprecedented intensity of the bushfires that have burned a reported 27 million acres in Australia.

“2019 was the hottest and the driest year in Australia’s history. So we actually saw temperature records be broken all over the country,” Joelle Gergis, a climate scientist at the Australian National University, said.

“This is the type of summer you might not have expected till the middle of the century based on past projections,” Gergis said. “So I think this is really redefining what it means to actually be living through a period of rapid climate change.”

“So you’re saying you would have expected this kind of scenario that we saw this summer to happen in 2050?” Williams asked.

“Yeah, potentially,” Gergis said. “Middle of the century.”

Is Gergis shocked?

“Of course, I’m shocked,” Gergis, a lead author of an upcoming United Nations report on climate change, said.


“We have been mugged by the reality of climate change in this summer,” Malcolm Turnbull, a political conservative who served as Australia’s prime minister up until August of 2018, said.

“This is climate change in the raw,” Turnbull said. “This is what we have been told to expect for years.”

Turnbull said he was warned as prime minister the fires were getting worse.

Well, of course. Everyone has known this,” Turnbull said. “We’ve been warned by the climate scientists. Everyone has been aware of this except for those who, well, the climate change deniers are aware of it, but they choose to deny reality.”

Turnbull was bounced out of office by the right wing of his own party largely over his support for cutting carbon emissions.

“The right wing climate deniers treat an issue of science and physics and fact as though it was a question of ideology, and their conduct is not just idiotic,” Turnbull said. “It is downright dangerous. Dangerous for us here in Australia and around the world.”

You’re talking about people in your own party,” Williams said.

“Of course I am. Yeah. Absolutely,” Turnbull confirmed.

“Dangerous and idiotic,” Williams said.

“Well, of course it is dangerous and idiotic not to be taking the strongest action to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull was replaced by Scott Morrison, who has minimized climate change. He famously stood up in parliament in 2017 and taunted his opponents with a lump of coal.


60 Minutes wanted to interview the prime minister about the devastating fires and their connection with climate change but he declined our request, as did other members of his government.

Trump’s ongoing collusion with Russia

From:  Why President Trump asked Ukraine to look into a DNC “server” and CrowdStrike – The consensus view of the CIA, NSA, FBI and a Senate investigation is that Russians interfered in the 2016 election. But those findings don’t line up with the ever-evolving story President Trump has been telling about Ukraine.

Robert Johnston dealt directly with the FBI as an investigator of the DNC hack for CrowdStrike, a leading cyber security company hired by the Democrats. He told us the FBI didn’t physically examine the DNC servers because CrowdStrike gave the bureau copies of the data from the servers.

“If there is a server or a computer system of any kind that’s involved in the incident you can take an exact bit for bit digital copy of what’s on that system. Now that digital copy is just as good as having the real thing,” Johnston said.

As far as you know, the FBI got what it needed and what it wanted?” Pelley asked Johnston.

Exactly and evidence of that is you don’t hear the FBI complaining,” Johnston said.


The Securities and Exchange Commission, shows that CrowdStrike is incorporated in Delaware and based in California. Its largest shareholders are American venture capital firms. Over the years, CrowdStrike has been hired by both the Democratic and Republican parties.

“So, the server, they say, is held by a company whose primary ownership individual is from Ukraine,” Mr. Trump said during remarks at the White House in October 2019. “I’d like to see the server.”

Taylor said that, to his knowledge, there are no links between CrowdStrike and anyone in Ukraine.

“Was this something that the embassy was concerned about?” Pelley asked.

“No,” Taylor said.

Pelley asked Johnston if, during the investigation he was leading, CrowdStrike ever sent any of the DNC’s computer hardware to Ukraine.

No,” Johnston said. “That– that is– that is insane. That is not within the realm of reality.


We reached out to the White House multiple times on this story, but they did not respond.

From:  ‘No One’ at the State Department Believed Trump Ukraine Theory: Taylor

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor has said that no officials at the State Department ever seriously considered conspiracy theories alleging that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential elections to undermine President Donald Trump.

Taylor—who appeared as a witness during the House impeachment investigation into the president—told CBS News’ 60 Minutes program he saw no merit in the conspiracy theory, which has been propagated by the president and his allies.


Taylor told Pelley, “Ukraine’s security is important to our security and the reason I believe that is that Ukraine is on the front line.” He explained that Russia is waging “a hybrid war against Ukraine, but it’s not just about Ukraine, they are fighting a hybrid war against Europe and against the United States.”

Taylor said the U.S. has a stake in the fighting, which extends far beyond the battlefields of eastern Ukraine. “Hybrid war is more than tanks and soldiers,” he told Pelley. “Hybrid war is information war, it’s cyber war, it’s economic war, it’s attacks on elections and as we know they have attacked our elections.”

Related story from:  Federal prosecutors weigh new charges that bring Lev Parnas investigation closer to Giuliani

Federal prosecutors are weighing new charges against associates of Rudy Giuliani in connection with a company that paid him $500,000, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Prosecutors with the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York are considering whether to charge Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and at least one of his business partners with misleading potential investors for Fraud Guarantee, the Florida-based company that paid Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, these people say. Parnas co-founded Fraud Guarantee with the idea of providing insurance to companies to protect against fraud.

The scrutiny of Fraud Guarantee brings the investigation closer to Giuliani, Trump’s vocal defender, and raises questions about what role the former mayor played, if any, in the marketing of the company. A lawyer for Giuliani said his client never had any conversations about investor pitches or marketing with Parnas or his business partner David Correia.

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