The Biden Problem Has Been Years In The Making

As of now, it appears that Joe Biden is the only thing standing between American democracy and straight-up fascism. I stand firmly on the side of democracy, obviously, though I would be lying if I didn’t say that Joe Biden is making me very, very nervous.

During his rambling July 8 call-in to MSNBC’s Morning Joe, President Joe Biden railed against the “elites” in his own party who have been calling for him to step aside since last month’s catastrophic debate performance. In the interests of further shoring up his newfound populist bona fides, Biden’s next move was to take questions from a small group of his elite donors on an exclusive phone call.

The gulf between Biden’s rhetoric and his actual behavior — though certainly nothing new for a man whose self-styling as the scrappy, Amtrak-riding guy from Scranton has always clashed with his long-standing proximity to corporate interests and Wall Street — was nonetheless particularly striking in this case.

On both sides in the ongoing Biden saga — notwithstanding the president’s recent contention to the contrary — the underlying dynamic has been one of politics via elite parlor game: numerically minuscule factions consisting of donors, influencers, celebrities, and multimillionaire politicians carrying out palace intrigues largely independent from any democratic process.

Source: The Biden Problem Has Been Years In The Making

US cruise missiles to return to Germany, angering Moscow

Long-range US missiles are to be deployed periodically in Germany from 2026 for the first time since the Cold War, in a decision announced at Nato’s 75th anniversary summit.

The Tomahawk cruise, SM-6 and hypersonic missiles have a significantly longer range than existing missiles, the US and Germany said in a joint statement.

Such missiles would have been banned under a 1988 treaty between the US and former Soviet Union, but the pact fell apart five years ago.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow would react with a “military reponse to the new threat”.

“This is just a link in the chain of a course of escalation,” he argued, accusing Nato and the US of trying to intimidate Russia.

The joint US-German statement made clear the “episodic” deployment of the missiles was initially seen as temporary but would later become permanent, as part of a US commitment to Nato and Europe’s “integrated deterrence”.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, who was speaking at the Nato summit in Washington, said the idea behind the US plan was to encourage Germany and other European countries to put their own investment into developing and procuring longer-range missiles.

The temporary deployment of US weapons would give Nato allies the time to prepare, he explained: “We are talking here about an increasingly serious gap in capability in Europe.”

Source: US cruise missiles to return to Germany, angering Moscow

NATO urged to do more to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine

Ukraine and its most ardent supporters within NATO are airing frustrations that the bloc can do more to confront Russia, even as the alliance’s summit in Washington focuses largely on Western efforts to rein in Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and leaders of other countries on the front line with Russia warned against the alliance watering down language, self-imposing red lines, and holding back concrete commitments to deter and push back Russian aggression in Ukraine and surrounding countries.

At the top of the list is getting President Biden to lift restrictions on the use of U.S.- and allied-provided weapons to strike military targets up to 300 miles inside Russian territory. Biden, in May, said Ukraine can hit inside Russia near the area of Kharkiv.

“If we have this very special weapon, some of them we have, and if we can use it on the territory of Russia, especially on these military targets, if we can do it, of course we can defend civilians, hospitals, schools, children, we can do it,” Zelensky said in conversation at the Reagan Institute in Washington on Tuesday night.

Source: NATO urged to do more to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine

The Ikaria Blue Zone in Greece and Its Longevity Secrets – Business Insider

Ikaria, located in the Aegean Sea, is one of Greece’s many islands. What sets it apart is how long its residents live. Known as the island of longevity, one in three of its residents make it to their 90s, and rates of dementia and some other chronic diseases are very low, according to the Blue Zones website.

The island is one of the world’s five Blue Zones, which are regions of the world where people regularly live about a decade longer than the US or Western European average. In Ikaria, people also tend to have lower rates of cancer, heart disease, and depression than in the US, The Guardian reported. The first Blue Zone, Sardinia in Italy, was identified by the researchers Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain, and the concept was built upon by Dan Buettner, who named four more and has explored the habits and lifestyles of people in all five locations for the past 20 years.

Ikaria is a tiny island located about 30 miles from the Turkish coast with a population of about 8,400. Due to its geographical location, it has historically been the target of invasions by neighboring nations, which Buettner said forced residents inland, leading to an isolated culture heavily rooted in family life. Remaining active well into your 90s is common there, as well as staying sexually active into old age. A study on Ikaria from the University of Athens indicated 80% of Ikarian males between the ages of 65 and 100 were still having sex.

Source: The Ikaria Blue Zone in Greece and Its Longevity Secrets – Business Insider

Scientists are a step closer to bringing the dodo back from extinction. And it may save existing wildlife on Mauritius – Discover Wildlife

The dodo, a large flightless bird endemic to the small Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, has been extinct since the 17th century. But this poster species for extinction is now one step closer to a return to its island home.

Ambitious plans to bring back the dodo were announced in January 2023, following the news that scientists at the Genomics Institute at the University of California, Santa Cruz had sequenced the dodo’s genome from a DNA sample taken from a museum specimen.

Now Colossal Biosciences, the US-based biotechnology and genetic engineering company attempting to resurrect the dodo, has partnered with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) to restore habitat that will be necessary for its eventual reintroduction.

Source: Scientists are a step closer to bringing the dodo back from extinction. And it may save existing wildlife on Mauritius – Discover Wildlife

Record-Breaking Ocean Heat Wave Foreshadows a Dangerous Hurricane Season | Scientific American

For 421 straight days, a marine heat wave in the North Atlantic broke — and sometimes shattered — daily temperature records.

The hot streak finally ended April 29, but scientists say the length of the marine heat wave wasn’t the only unsettling part. Another alarm bell was that daily temperature records often fell by a significant margin — on several occasions by more than 1 degree Fahrenheit.

“It’s not just that it was a consecutive string of 421 days,” said Brian McNoldy, an ocean scientist at the University of Miami. “But for so much of that time, it was breaking the records by a lot — not even close.”

And the North Atlantic is far from an outlier.

The world’s oceans — as a whole — are heating up. According to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, monthly global sea surface temperatures have been at their warmest on record for 13 months in a row. Last year set a new annual record for global ocean heat.

Source: Record-Breaking Ocean Heat Wave Foreshadows a Dangerous Hurricane Season | Scientific American

Chiquita found liable for funding paramilitary group in Colombia – The Washington Post

Banana giant Chiquita Brands International must pay more than $38 million in damages to victims of a Colombian paramilitary group the company was found liable for financing in the late 1990s and early 2000s, a federal jury decided Monday.

The decision follows a 17-year legal battle for the victims, sparked after a 2007 sentencing agreement in which Chiquita admitted to the U.S. Justice Department that it paid more than $1.7 million to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a violent right-wing group that committed human rights abuses in Colombia and had been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government. The Justice Department characterized Chiquita’s support to the AUC as “prolonged, steady, and substantial.”

Source: Chiquita found liable for funding paramilitary group in Colombia – The Washington Post

Opinion | The Pentagon is learning how to change at the speed of war – The Washington Post

For several decades, military reformers such as retired Navy Capt. Jerry Hendrix have pleaded with the Pentagon to stop buying wildly expensive but vulnerable aircraft carriers and fighter jets and instead focus on getting vast numbers of cheap drones. But nobody seemed to listen.

“Buy Fords, Not Ferraris” was the title of Hendrix’s iconoclastic 2009 polemic for inexpensive survivable systems. Aircraft carriers, he wrote, “have become too expensive to operate, and too vulnerable to be risked in anything other than an unhostile environment.” Similar arguments applied to exquisite systems beloved by all the services.

Source: Opinion | The Pentagon is learning how to change at the speed of war – The Washington Post

Tonga’s volcanic eruption could cause unusual weather for the rest of the decade, new study shows

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (Hunga Tonga for short) erupted on January 15 2022 in the Pacific Kingdom of Tonga. It created a tsunami which triggered warnings across the entire Pacific basin, and sent sound waves around the globe multiple times.

A new study published in the Journal of Climate explores the climate impacts of this eruption.

Our findings show the volcano can explain last year’s extraordinarily large ozone hole, as well as the much wetter than expected summer of 2024.

The eruption could have lingering effects on our winter weather for years to come.

Source: Tonga’s volcanic eruption could cause unusual weather for the rest of the decade, new study shows

Ukraine’s Air Force Wanted Four Squadrons Of F-16s. It’s Getting Them.

Gen. Serhii Golubtsov, the commander of the Ukrainian air force, has said all along he needed four operational squadrons of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to have any chance of controlling the air over a single sector of the 700-mile front line of Russia’s wider war on Ukraine.

It’s taken more than a year of intensive diplomacy between Ukrainian, Norwegian, Dutch, Danish and Belgian officials, but Golubtsov is finally getting his four squadrons.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky announced Belgium would donate 30 surplus F-16s—boosting to 85 the total number of the nimble, supersonic fighters Ukraine should receive starting this summer.

Source: Ukraine’s Air Force Wanted Four Squadrons Of F-16s. It’s Getting Them.