The idea of a “Team B” to produce intelligence more politically palatable to a Republican administration is not new.

In the 80s, hard-liners not satisfied with intelligence community expert estimates of Soviet capabilities, formed a “Team B” group to provide more threatening and dire assessments to the President. The group was promoted by Donald Rumsfeld, and included Paul Wolfowitz, both later architects of the war in Iraq.
Also in the lead up to that war, Vice President Dick Cheney famously oversaw the manipulation of intelligence to deceive both the executive branch and the American people about the need for an invasion.

The Atlantic:

(1) During the several months preceding the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, and thereafter, the vice president became aware that no certain evidence existed of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a fact articulated in several official documents, including: (a) A report by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, concluding that “there is no reliable information on whether Iraq is producing and stockpiling chemical weapons, or where Iraq has–or will–establish its chemical warfare agent production facilities.” (b) A National Intelligence Estimate, compiled by the nation’s intelligence agencies, admitting to “little specific information” about chemical weapons in Iraq. (c) A later section of the same NIE, admitting “low confidence” that Saddam Hussein “would engage in clandestine attacks against the U.S. Homeland,” and equally “low confidence” that he would “share chemical or biological weapons with al-Qa’ida.” (d) An addendum by the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, asserting that Hussein’s quest for yellowcake uranium in Africa was “highly dubious” and that his acquisition of certain machine parts, considered by some to be evidence of a nuclear program, were “not clearly linked to a nuclear end use.” (e) A report by the United States Department of Energy, stating that the machinery in question was “poorly suited” for nuclear use.

(2) Despite these questions and uncertainties, and having full awareness of them, the vice president nevertheless proceeded to misrepresent the facts in his public statements, claiming that there was no doubt about the existence of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq and that a full-scale nuclear program was known to exist, including: (a) March 17, 2002: “We know they have biological and chemical weapons.” (b) March 19, 2002: “We know they are pursuing nuclear weapons.” (c) March 24, 2002: “He is actively pursuing nuclear weapons.” (d) May 19, 2002: “We know he’s got chemical and biological…we know he’s working on nuclear.” (e) August 26, 2002: “We now know that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons… Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” (f) March 16, 2003: “We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

Now the Trump administration has renewed its intention to produce similarly skewed pseudo-scientific assessments of global climate change.

What could go wrong?

New York Times:

President Trump has rolled back environmental regulations, pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, brushed aside dire predictions about the effects of climate change, and turned the term “global warming” into a punch line rather than a prognosis.

Now, after two years spent unraveling the policies of his predecessors, Mr. Trump and his political appointees are launching a new assault.
In the next few months, the White House will complete the rollback of the most significant federal effort to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, initiated during the Obama administration. It will expand its efforts to impose Mr. Trump’s hard-line views on other nations, building on his retreat from the Paris accord and his recent refusal to sign a communiqué to protect the rapidly melting Arctic region unless it was stripped of any references to climate change.
And, in what could be Mr. Trump’s most consequential action yet, his administration will seek to undermine the very science on which climate change policy rests.

“What we have here is a pretty blatant attempt to politicize the science — to push the science in a direction that’s consistent with their politics,” said Philip B. Duffy, the president of the Woods Hole Research Center, who served on a National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed the government’s most recent National Climate Assessment. “It reminds me of the Soviet Union.”

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Horrifically relevant to today.

Game of Thrones was not about Dragons.
Just so, “Chernobyl” is not about radiation.

What is the cost of lies?
It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth..
the real danger is that if we hear enough
lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at 
What can we do then?

Slava Malamud on Twitter:

I have just finished watching Episode 1 of Chernobyl on @HBO. My perspective is that of someone born and raised in the Soviet Union who has vivid memories of 1986, the catastrophe itself and how it was handled by the Soviet politicians and the state media…

First of all, it is almost inconceivable that a Western TV show would go to this amount of detail authentically portraying Soviet life in that era, knowing full well that its target audience (Western viewers) would never appreciate the effort or indeed even understand it…

Trust me, I try very hard to find inaccuracies, however minor. The Americans, a show with similar fetish-like obsession with authenticity, had plenty of small and big Soviet errata to be entertained with. Improperly fastened military shoulder bars, that sort of thing… Not here.

One reviewer made a point eerily relevant to the Age of Trump.

Jennifer Erameeva in Moscow Times:

“Chernobyl” is so hard to watch because of the all too human themes creator Craig Mazin has woven into his masterful script. Mazin and his team have done their homework, immersing themselves into the history, science, and even the tick-tock of Chernobyl, as well as first-hand accounts in Nobel prize laureate Svetlana Alexievich’s “Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster.” Watching the show is a crash course in nuclear physics, but more importantly, it is a thought-provoking exploration of the importance of truth and the nature of self-sacrifice.

“We live in a time where people seem to be re-embracing the corrosive notion that what we want to be true is more important than what is true,” Craig Mazin says of the series. “It’s as if truth has become a joke. One of the most important lessons of “Chernobyl” is that the truth does not care about us. The Soviet system was soaking in this cult of narrative, and then one day the truth erupts. This is why this story is more relevant than ever.”

New poll showing increased support for climate action, especially an increase among young Republicans.

It’s from Frank Luntz, famous for many a Fox News focus group, as well as the infamous “Luntz Memo”, which instructed GOP candidates on how to deal with global warming as an issue, but creating doubt, and calling it “climate change”. See video above for more on this.

Significantly, the poll shows support for a “Carbon Dividends Plan” – which is also known as a “Carbon fee and Dividend” – a carbon tax.


Carbon Dividends Plan has majority support across party lines – including 4-1 supportoverall, 2-1 support from GOP voters and 75% support from Republicans under 40.

By a margin of more than 8 to 1, American voters are more worried about climate than they were just one year ago.

With concern about climate change increasing in both parties, 60% of voters want Congress to take a new approach.

4 out of 5 of voters want Congress to put politics aside and reach a bipartisan solution.

69% of GOP voters are worried that their party’s stance on climate change is hurting them with young voters.

60% of Democrats are open to trading existing regulations for a market-based solution.

Climate Progress:

A new survey finds Republicans under 40 support a carbon tax 7-to-1. And a remarkable 85% of Republican millennials are concerned that “the current Republican position on climate change is hurting the party with younger voters.”
But what makes this result so striking is that the survey was conducted by Frank Luntz, a top GOP strategist and pollster. Luntz wrote an infamous memo in 2002 detailing the exact words conservatives should use if they want to sound like they care about climate change without actually doing anything about it.
Luntz, for instance, is the one who urged Republicans to use the phrase “climate change,” arguing that it is “less frightening” than “global warming.”
Significantly, Luntz’s firm, which has been polling this issue for decades, reported this week that a Carbon Dividend Plan — which charges fossil fuel companies for their carbon emissions and rebates the money directly back to the public — is uniquely popular.

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Or maybe not?
Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, stories like this give me hope.

Michael Bäcklund is 16 years old and the global outreach director of strike4future-Israel. If you wish to help the Israeli strikers, you can contact them on @strike4future_israel. You can also email

Climate Change News:

The Israeli school strike branch had a very successful strike on Tuesday, which was three times bigger than the last one in March.
It was the first sitting day of the new parliament. We had over 500 students marching and shouting slogans in front of the prestigious Knesset in Jerusalem.
We had Arab Palestinians and Jewish Israelis participating together. We have multiplied our following on social media and we have started to plan social media campaign with celebrities. We have also been asked to do a bunch of television and newspaper interviews.

We formed our movement in December and it has been now going on for almost half a year. But despite our growth we have struggled to convince the Israeli people, who are focused on our domestic political problems.
In our national group, the Israelis and Palestinians are not allowed to mention the political situation. We feel that in order to defeat something much bigger than us, we must put the unfortunate hatred aside and focus on what actually matters the most: saving the world from an ongoing climate breakdown.

In Israel, society prioritizes political conflicts over action against climate change. Because of this, our school system teaches us practically nothing about the threat the climate poses. An overwhelming majority of teens don’t even know that by their thirties they are going to face a point of no return.
So even though we had three times more people gathered this week, even though we have countries announcing climate emergencies for the first time in history and even though one Knesset member Miki Haimovitz supported us in her first speech to parliament, we cannot rest nor celebrate.
We have 300,000 more teens to reach in Israel, and more than 190 countries that need to declare the emergency as well. We’ve got 119 more Knesset members to convince, 119 members to show that our future is precious, 119 to show that we matter. Because apparently in the prestigious building they do not think that we matter enough.
Our message that we have been trying to channel now for months is if the government truly prioritises security over social services, education and anti-poverty policies, it simply cannot turn its back to climate breakdown.

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Denial is a helluva drug.

My friend Marc Morano spends, I am sure, more time attempting to fog the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, than any other issue.

That’s because he knows that when people find out how overwhelming that consensus is, they become much more concerned about climate change.
I’m sure Marc has never actually talked to the scientists who did that work, as I have.

And, Mr Morano might not realize that even 40 years ago, researchers at Exxon knew very well that such a consensus existed, even then.

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