Doing Advance Work

News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Alcohol abuse among scientists at US bases in Antarctic has led to fights, indecent exposure, employees drunk on the job, National Science Foundation reports-UK Telegraph

10/6/15, "Antarctic scientists face breathalyser tests due to alcohol-fuelled fighting and 'indecent exposure'," UK Telegraph, Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney

McMurdo Station
"Audit of two Antarctic bases run by United States heard that alcohol was fuelling “unpredictable behaviour”, with calls to deploy breathalysers."

"Breathalysers could be used to curb alcohol abuse among scientists at US bases in Antarctica following “unpredictable behaviour” caused by excess drinking, including fights and indecent exposure.

Officials from the National Science Foundation told an audit of health and safety at the two US-run bases-McMurdo Station and the South Pole-that drinking has led to “unpredictable behaviour that has led to fights, indecent exposure, and employees arriving to work under the influence”, according to a report in Wired.
The agency is reportedly considering shipping several breathalysers to the isolated stations, which together house up to about 1,150 people, including scientists and support staff. But such a move could potentially pose legal and administrative problems, as Antarctica is not US territory and it is not clear who would conduct the tests and what rights of appeal would be available. 
Complicating matters further, the South Pole station is at a high altitude which could reportedly prevent the breathalyser tests from working properly. The agency insisted that drinking was not out of control but it wanted to prevent alcohol-related problems. 

“Alcohol-related misconduct is not disproportionately represented at the Antarctic stations,” an NSF official told Wired in a statement. Several countries have research bases in Antarctica, including Britain, France and Russia. Each has its own rules about consumption of alcohol. 

The British Antarctic Survey, which has four all-year research stations and one that operates only during the summer, has a detailed policy on alcohol and drug use at its stations. 

The agency says it recognises that “alcohol can play a useful role in providing a diversion from the pressures of work when used in moderation” but has strict rules to prevent staff working while unduly influenced by alcohol. 

It allows alcohol to be served at specific occasions such as “the visit of a VIP, a retirement, Midwinter celebration or Christmas”. 

The US officials said the problem of excess drinking was less significant than the cultural divide between scientists and contractors at the bases."

Image caption: "McMurdo Station, one of two US-run bases in Antarctica, Photo: Alamy"


Trump shows that what is most in demand is permission to conceive of an American interest separate from the 'international community.' This is what most terrifies the elite-Julius Krein, 9/7/15

9/7/15, "Traitor to His Class," Julius Krein, Weekly Standard

"What Trump offers is permission to conceive of an American interest as a national interest separate from the “international community”....

Nothing is more terrifying to the elite than Trump’s embrace of a tangible American nationalism....The critical question, however, is not the source of Trump’s popularity but rather the reason his popularity is so shocking to our political culture....

Trump shows that what is most in not ideological purity but patriotic zeal....

Trump alone appears to understand that politics is more than policy and ideology."...


Added from Diana West:

8/18/15, "Trump: Giving Voice to the American "Subconscious"," Diana West

"To say the Media-Political Complex has really lost its cool over Donald Trump, also every marble, is barest understatement....

Before Trump, the American "subconscious," circa 2015, would never "originally think" a US border was possible, let alone a wall; immigration restriction was possible, let alone a halt; immigration law enforcement was possible; the deportation of illegal families was possible; restoration of American citizenship as a privilege, not a stolen good, was possible; jobs for Americans were possible; and the rest. Donald Trump, bless him, has changed the American subconscious, giving voice to Americans long conditioned into silence by this same Media-Political Complex. And there is nothing, but nothing, they can do about it now." 


Comment: Millions of Americans have been laughed at by the political class for many years. Donald Trump apparently doesn't think this is right and is at a point in his life when he can do something about it. 


Trump continues to lead nationally and in every Republican subgroup, Public Policy Poll Oct. 1-4, 2015, 627 Republican primary voters

Trump 27  
Carson 17  
Rubio 13  
Bush 10  
Cruz 7  
Fiorina 6  
Huckabee 4  
Kasich 4  
Christie 2  
Paul 2  
Santorum 2 
10/1-10/4/15, 627 Republican primary voters, 3.9% margin of error
10/6/15, "Trump holding steady nationally; Rubio biggest gainer," Public Policy Polling, Tom Jensen

"PPP's newest national Republican poll actually finds the top of the field in a pretty similar place to where it was in late August. Donald Trump leads the field with 27%, similar to the 29% he had on our last survey. Ben Carson is in second place with 17%, also similar to the 15% he had last time around. Marco Rubio at 13%, Jeb Bush at 10%, Ted Cruz at 7%, Carly Fiorina at 6%, and Mike Huckabee and John Kasich each at 4% round out the list of candidates with decent levels of support. Chris Christie, Rand Paul, and Rick Santorum are all at 2%, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, and George Pataki each get 1%, and in last place with less than 1% is Jim Gilmore.
Trump continues to lead with every subgroup of the GOP electorate. He's at 29% with voters most concerned about electability, and 29% with voters most concerned about having a candidate who's sufficiently conservative. He's at 35% with Tea Party voters, and 27% with non-Tea Party voters. He's at 25% with Evangelicals, and 29% with non-Evangelicals. He's at 29% with moderates, 27% with 'somewhat conservative' voters, and 26% with 'very conservative' ones. He's at 31% with men, and 23% with women. And he's at 32% with young voters and 26%with seniors....
Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,338 registered voters between October 1st and 4th, including 627 Republican primary voters. The margin of error for the overall survey is +/-2.7%, and for the Republican portion it’s +/-3.9%. 80% of participants responded via the phone, while 20% of respondents who did not have landlines conducted the survey over the internet." 


Donald Trump retains commanding lead in Republican presidential race, 18 pts ahead of GOP field, 24 pts ahead of Jeb Bush-Morning Consult Poll, Oct. 2-5, 2015

Trump 31
Carson 13
Rubio 10
Bush 7
Fiorina 6 
Cruz 5
Christie 4
Kasich 4
Paul 3

Huckabee 2

Oct. 2-5 poll. 807 self-identified Republicans and R-leaning independents, 3.45 margin of error.

10/6/15, "Poll: Rubio Surpasses Bush, Trump Still On Top," Morning Consult Poll, Reid Wilson

"Real estate mogul Donald Trump retains his commanding lead in the race for the Republican presidential race, a new poll finds, even though many voters say they view the bombastic billionaire in an unfavorable light. Trump takes 31 percent of the vote in the new Morning Consult poll [p. 14], easily outpacing retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s 13 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) finishes in third place, at 10 percent, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), at 7 percent.

The survey marks the first time Rubio draws more support than Bush.....

Former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina...sits in fifth place, with 6 percent, just ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) 5 percent. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) are tied at 4 percent, followed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at 3 percent....

The Morning Consult tracking poll surveyed 1,983 registered voters between October 2-5, for a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. A subsample of 807 self-identified Republicans and Republican-leaning independents carried a margin of error of plus or minus 3.45 percentage points. The subsample of 827 self-identified Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents carried an identical margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points." image from Morning Consult poll


GOP candidates v Hillary Clinton:

p. 16, "If the 2016 presidential election were held today and the candidates were"...,whom would you choose?

Trump 43
Clinton 41 

p. 15, Bush 42, Clinton 40
p. 16, Carson 44, Clinton 38
p. 16, Clinton 43, Rubio 39
p. 16, Fiorina 40, Clinton 40
p. 16, Clinton 42, Paul 37


Former UN official charged by US Attorney Preet Bharara with taking bribes and evading taxes, though unique UN immunity may protect the accused from prosecution-BBC, Reuters

"The complaint only charged Ashe with tax offenses, possibly because he may have diplomatic immunity for any conduct taken in his official capacity."...4/16/2009: Federal prosecutors in New York City were forced to drop criminal and civil cases because the U.N. officials have immunity.” (parag. 4)

10/6/15, "Former UN chief John Ashe charged with taking $1.3m in bribes," BBC
"US authorities have charged a former United Nations General Assembly president with taking bribes from a Chinese billionaire.

New York prosecutors said John Ashe "converted the UN into a platform for profit" as he helped real estate mogul Ng Lap Seng gain government contracts.

Mr Ashe is accused of taking $1.3m, spending the cash on luxury goods.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "shocked and deeply troubled" by the allegations. 

UN Ban Ki-Moon and Ashe

"In return for Rolex watches, a basketball court and bespoke suits, John Ashe sold himself and the global institution he led," said US Federal Attorney Preet Bharara. "United by greed, they converted the UN into a platform for profit."

Prosecutors say Mr Ashe used his position as permanent resident to the United Nations for Antigua and Barbuda and General Assembly head to introduce a UN document supporting a multibillion-dollar UN-sponsored conference centre that Mr Ng hoped to build as his legacy in Macau, where he lived.

The conference centre was supposed to function as a satellite operation for the world body.

The scheme unfolded between 2011 and 2014, including Ashe's tenure as General Assembly head, prosecutors said.

Mr Ashe also set up meetings with government officials in Antigua and Kenya to help the real estate developers land big development contracts, Mr Bharara said.

He is also said to have evaded tax on the bribe money he received and allowed the businesspeople pay for him and his family to stay at an $850-a-night hotel in New Orleans.

Mr Ashe was arrested on Tuesday. Five others including Mr Ng are also being held.

They include another diplomat, Francis Lorenzo from the Dominican Republic, and two naturalised US citizens who live in China who allegedly helped facilitate the scheme, who have been charged with offences including bribery of a UN official and conspiracy to launder money.

Mr Bharara said the investigation was continuing and more arrests were likely."

First image caption: "UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he was shocked by the allegations against John Ashe," Reuters

Second image caption: "Prosecutor Preet Bharara said John Ashe turned the UN into a "platform for profit," Reuters  


Ashe "may have diplomatic immunity for any conduct taken in his official capacity."..."The non-profit was not identified but matches the description of the Global Sustainability Foundation." 
10/6/15, "Ex-U.N. General Assembly president charged with bribery," Reuters, Nate Raymond and Joseph Ax

"U.S. authorities charged a former president of the United Nations General Assembly, a billionaire Macau real estate developer and four others on Tuesday for engaging in a wide-ranging corruption scheme.

John Ashe, a former U.N. ambassador from Antigua and Barbuda who was president in 2013, was accused in a complaint filed in federal court in New York of taking more than $1.3 million in bribes from Chinese businessmen, including developer Ng Lap Seng.

The complaint said Ng, through intermediaries, paid Ashe more than $500,000. In exchange, Ashe told the U.N. secretary general that a yet-to-be built multibillion-dollar U.N.-sponsored conference center in Macau was needed.

The intermediaries included Ng's assistant, Jeff Yin, and Francis Lorenzo, who had been a deputy U.N. ambassador from the Dominican Republic. Yin, 29, was arrested with Ng, 68, last month on separate charges. Yin told FBI agents after the arrest that his boss viewed the conference center as his legacy and had made payments to obtain action from the United Nations on it, the complaint said.

Ashe, 61, also received more than $800,000 of bribes from Chinese businessmen to support their interests within the U.N. and Antigua, and kicked some of the money to Antigua's prime minister at the time, the complaint said.

The complaint said those bribes were arranged through Shiwei Yan, 57, chief executive officer of a New York-based non-profit, and Heidi Hong Piao, 52, its finance director.

The non-profit was not identified but matches the description of the Global Sustainability Foundation. And while the complaint did not name the prime minister, Baldwin Spencer held the post at the time.

The foundation, the prime minister's office, and Antigua and Barbuda's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Spencer could not immediately be reached.

The complaint said Ashe deposited more than $3 million from foreign governments and officials in accounts at two major American banks
from 2012 to 2014. It said he transferred some money to his wife's bank accounts and spent other sums on his home mortgage in Dobbs Ferry, New York; BMW lease payments; and Rolex watches.

The charges will be discussed at a press conference by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara later on Tuesday.

Bieber Brian, Lorenzo's lawyer, said his client "maintains that he acted in good faith at all times and believed in the integrity of what he was told by those involved." Ng's lawyer, Alex Spiro, said his client committed no crime.

Lawyers for the other defendants arrested Tuesday could not be immediately identified. Yin's lawyer had no immediate comment.

The case followed the Sept. 19 arrest of Ng and Yin for falsely claiming that $4.5 million they brought into the United States from China from 2013 to 2015 was meant for gambling or buying art, antiques or real estate.

U.S. prosecutors have said Ng has a fortune of $1.8 billion, much of which he earned on developments in Macau. He sits on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an adviser to the government.
Ng heads the privately held Sun Kian Ip Group in Macau, whose foundation arm lists several ambassadors to the U.N.,, including Ashe, as holding leadership positions.

The U.N. general assembly presidency is a ceremonial one-year post paid for by the home country. The complaint only charged Ashe with tax offenses, possibly because he may have diplomatic immunity for any conduct taken in his official capacity."

UN personnel are immune from prosecution for any crime, free to put US taxpayer dollars in Swiss bank accounts or spend them "renovating a guesthouse." 2009 article:

4/16/2009, Report: U.N. spent U.S. funds on shoddy projects,” USA Today, Ken Dilanian

Do UN “agencies have immunity if they siphon (their U.S. grants) all off into Swiss banks? Is that accurate? They will be totally immune, no matter what they do with the money?” “My understanding is, yes, Gambatesa replied.” (4th parag. from end)

…"The Afghanistan country director for the U.N. Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which served as the contractor on the project for the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) spent about $200,000 in U.S. money to renovate his guesthouse. Witness names were withheld by USAID.” (parag. 7)

Federal prosecutors in New York City were forced to drop criminal and civil cases because the U.N. officials have immunity.” (parag. 4)


UN personnel are unelected and unaccountable. "The secretary-general, currently Ban Ki-moon, can try to coordinate their actions but he has no authority over many of them."

12/5/2014, "5 problems facing UN as it nears 70th anniversary," AP, Edith M. Lederer, United Nations

"The world has changed dramatically since the United Nations was established after World War II, but the organization has not adapted to reflect the 21st century. 
While the U.N. has had its share of successes, its aging structure has struggled with new threats like Ebola and terrorist groups that control large areas of its member countries. U.N. members have been discussing change for decades, but agreement has proven impossible because of competing interests.

As it approaches its 70th anniversary next year, here are five problems facing the United Nations:

Outdated structure

The same five countries — the victors of World War II — have been the power players since 1945: the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France. They are the only permanent members of the powerful, 15-seat Security Council. Each has veto power, which has led to near-paralysis at the council on some major crises like Syria and Ukraine.

Critics say the council simply doesn’t represent the world today. At its inception, the U.N. had 51 member states. It now has 193, many of them clamoring for more clout. All countries are represented in the General Assembly, but that body can only pass nonbinding resolutions.

Often mentioned as countries deserving of permanent Security Council seats are Germany, Japan, India, South Africa, Nigeria and Brazil. But there are no signs the big five intend to give up any power or share it with more countries.

Unwieldy organization

The U.N. has become a sprawling system with 15 autonomous agencies, 11 semi-autonomous funds and programs, and numerous other bodies. There is no central entity to oversee them all. The secretary-general, currently Ban Ki-moon, can try to coordinate their actions but he has no authority over many of them.

The cumbersome structure was recently blamed for the World Health Organization’s delay in recognizing the Ebola epidemic. The WHO’s country directors in Africa report to the Africa regional director, not WHO headquarters in Geneva. And the WHO’s director in Geneva does not report to the secretary-general in New York.

Increasing demands

The U.N. is almost constantly asking its member states to contribute troops for its far-flung peacekeeping missions, currently numbering 16. The number of peacekeepers has risen to a record 130,000 — compared to 11,000 at the end of the Cold War — but the system is under severe strain. More than 100 peacekeepers have died this year and dozens have been taken captive.

The world’s refugee population has soared amid a growing list of humanitarian crises. The U.N. refugee agency is trying to help over 51 million people forced from their homes and displaced inside or outside their country, the highest figure since the U.N. began collecting those data in the early 1950s. The U.N. humanitarian office is tackling a record of four top-level emergencies — in Africa and the Mideast — as well as Ebola.

Unreliable funding

Raising money is a constant problem with so many crises vying for the world’s attention. Many U.N. agencies and humanitarian operations are funded by voluntary contributions, and appeals aren’t getting enough donations. On Monday, the World Food Program suspended a food voucher program serving more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees after many donors failed to meet their commitments.

All 193 member states contribute to the U.N.’s regular budget and a separate peacekeeping budget, but some countries are chronically behind on their payments. In early November, members owed about $3.5 billion for regular operations and peacekeeping.

Political horse-trading

There is widespread behind-the-scenes jockeying for top jobs in the U.N. Secretariat and U.N. agencies, not to mention seats on key bodies like the Human Rights Council and the Security Council. Every country belongs to a regional group that lobbies to ensure it is well represented. There is often criticism that those who get the seats are not the best qualified, such as dictatorships elected to the rights council."


Comment: UN personnel are unelected and unaccountable to their major funders, US taxpayers, can commit a crime anywhere on earth without fear of prosecution (parag. 4). The US political class continues to flood UN parasites with US taxpayer cash on a no-strings basis.


Monday, October 5, 2015

30% cutback in Rio 2016 Olympics budget to avoid overspending, crisis meeting held, Brazil taxpayers would have to meet excess costs-BBC

"What will be affected?

*Opening ceremony - approximately three and a half hours long - budget cut. Now estimated to be 10% of the cost of that of London 2012.

  • Online lottery for tickets scrapped and all on open sale with the option to pay by installments
  • More tents and fewer structures at Olympic events
  • Infrastructure at test events scaled back
  • Volunteer programme, which includes English lessons for participants, likely to be cut from 70,000 to 60,000."  

10/5/2015, "Rio 2016: 30% cutback on Games budget to avoid overspend," BBC,

The organisers of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games are making cutbacks of up to 30% to avoid going over the £2.38bn (US$3.6bn) budget. 

Rio 2016 communications director Mario Andrada said the Brazilian public would not tolerate an overspend....
Events across 50 Olympic and Paralympic sports featuring about 15,000 athletes will not be affected. 

The BBC understands a crisis meeting has been held in the past few days.

The organising committee's budget is privately financed, with separate budgets for stadiums and infrastructure, but the Brazilian government would have to meet the cost of any overspend. 

Ticket sales have been slow with only two million of the five million available sold so far. 

"People get upset about luxury and excess, we have to tighten our belts," added Andrada. 

At the Confederations Cup held in Brazil in 2013, fans protested angrily at the amount of money spent - about £2.57bn ($4bn) on staging the 2014 World Cup.

What will be affected?

  • Opening ceremony - approximately three and a half hours long - budget cut. Now estimated to be 10% of the cost of that of London 2012
  • All promotional videos must now be made in-house
  • Online lottery for tickets scrapped and all on open sale with the option to pay by installments
  • More tents and fewer structures at Olympic events
  • Infrastructure at test events scaled back
  • Volunteer programme, which includes English lessons for participants, likely to be cut from 70,000 to 60,000"



    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    Arctic Sea Ice Extent, over 30% ice, October 1, 2015, DMI

    10/1/15, "Arctic Sea Ice Extent, The Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice coverage," DMI

    "Sea ice extent in recent years (in million km2) for the northern hemisphere, as a function of date. Please notice, that the sea ice extent in this plot is calculated with the coastal zones masked out. To see the absolute extent, go to this page....

    Current Sea Ice extent

    Total sea ice extent on the northern hemisphere since 2005. The ice extent values are calculated from the ice type data from the Ocean and Sea Ice, Satellite Application Facility (OSISAF), where areas with ice concentration higher than 30% are classified as ice.

    The total area of sea ice is the sum of First Year Ice (FYI), Multi Year Ice (MYI) and the area of ambiguous ice types, from the OSISAF ice type product. However, the total estimated ice area is underestimated due to unclassified coastal regions where mixed land/sea pixels confuse the applied ice type algorithm. The shown sea ice extent values are therefore recommended be used qualitatively in relation to ice extent values from other years shown in the figure."...



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