‘Climate Wars – Syria’ with Thomas Friedman

I’ve spent decades reporting on the Middle East, but I have to say: the events in Syria these days are some of the most heartbreaking I have ever seen. I thought I knew how it all started, with protests over government repression and widespread poverty in early 2011. But then I met Farrah Nasif, a young Syrian refugee living here in Washington DC. They were talking about drought when I was young. She said I couldn’t understand the civil war if I didn’t understand what happened in the drought. This drought was the worst in Syria’s modern history, and happened in the four years just before the revolution. Over a million people were displaced, and this drought is part of a trend. According to a study by the US government’s National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, over the last 40 years climate change has caused the Mediterranean region to dry out, resulting in longer, more severe droughts. The places in red are getting the worst of it.

And Syria is right at the epicenter. I also come across a confidential US diplomatic cable written two years before the revolution. It contains some dire predictions. A UN Official stationed in Syria feared the drought would throw the entire country into chaos. But can there really be a connection between the drought and a civil war? Climate change is now well understood to be a major national security issue, and a source of stress on a number of the underlying causes of conflict. How much do you feel that stress in northern Syria? It’s very hard to quantify. However, we all know that where there is drought, where there is insecurity, when there is poverty, hunger, poor governance, repressive policies… it may make the tinder in the box more readily ignitable. In other words: if a drought is bad enough, it can help push an already stressed society to the breaking point. Is that what happened in Syria? I learn about a family that recently fled the war and is now taking refuge here.

Two months!? They took you away for two months? How many other Syrians, I wonder, have a similar story to tell? The answer is on the other side of that border. I’m told there’s a rebel commander leading a group of failed farmers turned fighters. That’s where I’m headed. Once we cross the border, signs of war are everywhere. Tom. Pleased to meet you. The commander tells me he used to a cotton farmer. But when the drought hit, he had to turn to smuggling to feed his family. When they write the history of this revolution, how important will the drought be? It’s time to turn back. It’s dangerous to linger around here, even this close to the border. Later, I’ll find out that this town was taken over by Al-Qaeda and that one hundred people were executed. Droughts are nothing new. Neither are brutal dictators, religious conflicts, or people’s desire for freedom. But for the Syrians who lived through it, the drought will be forever seared into their memories, and forever shape their feelings towards the regime they now seek to overthrow.

And the rest of us should take notice. This volatile part of the world is only getting hotter and drier. More droughts may mean more people displaced, more lives uprooted, perhaps more war. And we’d be very foolish to think it won’t affect us..

Images of Our Changing World

These before and after images demonstrate how quickly our dynamic, but fragile planet can change. The Aral Sea in central Asia was once the fourth largest lake in the world. In the 1960’s, the Soviet Union began using it to help grow crops. These images were taken just 14 years apart. Losing the moderating influence of this large body of water has made the region’s winters colder and summers hotter. In 2011, NASA captured a new volcanic island emerging in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen. It’s part of the Red Sea Rift where the African and Arabian tectonic plates meet, the island chain gained an additional rock in 2013 that doesn’t even appear in this photograph. By tapping water sources beneath the sands of Saudi Arabia, engineers turned the desert into an oasis.

But with only 50 more years of groundwater supply left, the clock is ticking. Farmers could survive though by switching to greenhouse farming with drip irrigation. The Muir Glacier in Alaska has been documented for 120 years. Named for Scottish naturalist and writer John Muir, the glacier used to fill this entire inlet. This photo taken in 2004 shows how warmer temperatures have caused its shocking, 31-mile retreat. It may seem like a winter wonderland, but many of Yellowstone National Park’s 2 million-plus acres are now prone to wildfire. Longer, drier summers are a big problem. But this 2016 image actually shows how Yellowstone has recovered from the 1988 fire that consumed more than half of the park. And in 1984, Brazil plugged the Jamari river with the Samuel hydroelectric dam. The reservoir it created flooded the upstream forest.

The image on the right also captures the effects of deforestation that could cut the Amazon to just 47% of its original size by 2030. The Binhai New Area in China, now a manufacturing powerhouse, was once salt farms and marshland. As you can see, the growth, which began in 1990, has extended into the Bohai Sea and is only expected to continue as the area becomes integrated into the Jing-Jin-Ji megalopolis. The delta where the Omo river meets Africa’s Lake Turkana used to be contained entirely within Ethiopia, but it’s grown so big it’s now located mainly in Kenya. It’s expanded as the lake’s water level has been reduced by less rain, higher temperatures, and agricultural activity. And here we have an extremely remote area in the harsh conditions of Kazakhstan near the Caspian Sea which shows the development of production facilities to take advantage of oil and gas deposits. Those settlements you see are to house workers, which demonstrates the lengths humans will go for a good paying job.

And then we have Iran’s lake Urmia which changed color from green to red in a matter of weeks last summer. The culprit? A combination of algae and bacteria that causes the change when the weather gets hot and the lake begins to evaporate, increasing its salinity, or saltiness. Well I hope this gave you a little more appreciation for the natural world surrounding you wherever you find yourself watching this video. Until next time, for TDC, I’m Bryce Plank..

Yemen is in ‘complete meltdown’ and civilians are paying the price

JUDY WOODRUFF: Now we turn to the grinding civil war in Yemen, which has also become a proxy conflict between neighboring Saudi Arabia and Iran. A two-and-a-half-year bombing campaign has killed thousands. Vast swathes of the country lie devastated. Compounding the horror, Yemen is on the brink of famine. There are critical shortages of aid and medical care, and now an outbreak of cholera is spreading. The country has been essentially closed to journalists for months, but filmmaker Martin Smith and his team from "Frontline" were able to gain access to Yemen in May. "Frontline" has a short film on its Web site documenting what they saw. Here is an excerpt, beginning in the capital, Sanaa. MARTIN SMITH: It's not just the jets you hear overhead, or the buildings that are bombed, or the airport that's demolished. It's the knock-on effects of the war on infrastructure.

When we came into town, what struck me right away was the amount of garbage on the streets. The garbage workers hadn't been paid in eight months. The rains came, washing through the garbage, bacteria carried into the water supply, people drinking bad water. And they were hit by a cholera epidemic. Cholera simply dehydrates you quickly, so that anything you ingest, any water you drink or food you eat just completely passes through your system, and you get no nutrients out of it. WOMAN: She is very tired because of the exhaustion from the electrolyte imbalance that she has. She can't control herself now until she gets enough fluid. MARTIN SMITH: The World Health Organization is saying that there are over 300,000 cases of cholera; 1,600 people have died, many of them children.

And the numbers keep going up. The hospital we visited, they were already beyond capacity. The nurses and doctors were suffering from a lack of medicines and equipment. And they were there working, in spite the fact that they hadn't been paid. WOMAN: We don't get salary. Last salary I got was in September only. If I will not work, then they will die. And maybe tomorrow, I will be sick, and nobody will see me because of no salary. MARTIN SMITH: People often ask why the Saudis are bombing Yemen. It's a question for the Saudis. They will tell you they're fighting against the rebel group that's trying to take over the country, who are backed by their archrival, Iran. Yet, in the time I was there, it was hard to see really what the Iranians were doing.

But the impact of the Saudi-led coalition bombing was very clear. Parts of the country have been isolated of bomb strikes on bridges. People on the ground in Yemen are suffering. They're caught in the crossfire of this war. In Hajjah, we went to a hospital. And I met a nurse there who showed me pictures she'd taken a day or two before of a young boy who came in severely malnourished, and died. WOMAN (through translator): Of course one gets very upset. All of us here do. We do our job, and we love the child. And, in the end, they pass away. It's hard. MARTIN SMITH: She then was called away to go take care of a new severe malnutrition patient. A mother came in with her child. It was a little girl named Aline, a seventh-month-old baby. WOMAN (through translator): For sure, it's a consequence of the war. The war is behind the malnourishment. And it is only getting worse. The cases have increased. There is a food shortage. How are your living conditions at home? WOMAN (through translator): Terrible.

MARTIN SMITH: There were always malnutrition cases in Yemen, but the nurse told us that the number of cases had more than doubled since the war. And maybe an hour later, another mother came in with her daughter. Ruqayah her name. It was a 5-year-old girl. Ruqayah had come from an IDP, an internally displaced persons camp. And it's quite a ways away up near the Saudi border, traveled several hours, because the hospital up near her had been bombed. WOMAN (through translator): As a result of these catastrophes, they don't have the means to travel from their areas, which are usually very far from ours. So they wait. JUDY WOODRUFF: That was an excerpt of "Inside Yemen," a "Frontline" short film by Martin Smith. For more on the conflict and the people caught in between, we're joined from New York by David Miliband. He is president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, a global aid agency, and he served as foreign secretary of the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2010.

David Miliband, welcome back to the "NewsHour." That was a horrific film we have just seen an excerpt of. Tell us more about just how bad things are right now in Yemen. DAVID MILIBAND, President, International Rescue Committee: Well, I think horrific is the right word for the tragedy that's unfolding in Yemen. It is the modern face of humanitarian catastrophe, because Yemen represents a political emergency, as well as a humanitarian emergency. Yemen is one of four countries threatened by famine at the moment. And the numbers in Yemen are absolutely staggering, 20 million people in humanitarian need, over 300,000 diagnosed with cholera already. And our teams on the ground — the International Rescue Committee has 150 or 200 staff on the ground in Yemen — and what they report is direct danger to civilians from bombing as part of the war that's going on, and indirect danger from the consequences of war that are impeding access to — of humanitarian workers and have destroyed about half of the hospitals in the country. So it really is complete meltdown in Yemen at the moment.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, if I were to ask you what are people — what are the main needs that people have, it sounds as if you're saying everything. DAVID MILIBAND: Yes, it is everything, but I think one can be specific, first of all, that the war needs to be conducted within the confines of international humanitarian law. International humanitarian law, which defends civilians from attack, needs to be observed. Secondly, the bombing of hospitals needs to be arrested and stopped. Thirdly, access for humanitarian aide workers needs to be supported, rather than impeded. There's a threat to the main port in Yemen, the Hodeidah port. There's a threat to bomb that port. In fact, it needs stronger U.

N. presence there to ensure that food is able to enter the country, because, obviously, the agriculture has been completely ruined over the last few years of war. And, fourthly, and critically, there needs to be support from the whole international diplomatic and political, as well as humanitarian community for some kind of political settlement that can put ahold to the fighting. Nearly two years ago at the United Nations, I attended a meeting of foreign nations of Gulf countries who said they were committed to finding a political settlement, but, frankly, it's no nearer now than it was then. And civilians in Yemen are paying the price. JUDY WOODRUFF: Why has it gotten to this point? You describe a situation that, by stages, has gotten to a point, as you're describing, it's going to be very difficult to put this back together again. DAVID MILIBAND: You're absolutely right.

I mean, there are two main reasons, I think. First of all, the war itself has seen a significant upping of the ante, first of all, by the Saudi-led coalition, the U.S. supporting that, then the Iranians getting involved, then retaliation against the Iranian involvement. And so you see an escalation upon escalation, neither side willing to compromise, for fear of losing face. The second thing that's been happening is that the humanitarian tragedy and the failure to protect civilians and deliver humanitarian aid has, I'm afraid, fueled the political emergency. It's provided fuel for radicalism. It's entrenched both sides. The bloodletting has meant that both the Houthi rebels and the government who have the support of the Saudis and the American side have got further and further apart.

A million refugees have left the country, including some fleeing to Somalia. You have got a situation where Somalia is safer for them than Yemen. And those are the two main reasons. There is one other thing, just to further enlighten your audience. Yemen is a country that is suffering terribly from climate change. Sanaa is predicted to be the first capital city in the world to run out of water. So you have got chronic long-term problems and acute problems in the short term as well. JUDY WOODRUFF: A number of guilty parties you're talking about, including the United States. What, politically, can be done? I mean, you said a moment ago, David Miliband, this is even more a political crisis than a humanitarian, as bad as it is on a humanitarian level. What has to be done? DAVID MILIBAND: I think the diplomatic and political muscle needs to be applied to ensure that there is a cease-fire, that that then is built on with a proper negotiated settlement, because the truth is that the current trajectory of the war is in the interests of neither side. No one is winning. But the civilians of Yemen are losing very big time. I'm pleased to say that there are some senators speaking up on this.

I was in Washington on Monday. And there is growing concern, I think, in the Senate to call on the U.S. administration to persuade the Saudis to call a halt to this bombing campaign, which, as I say, is fueling the insurgency, rather than curbing it, and to give time for humanitarian aid to get in. I mean, it tells you something that we in the humanitarian sector are desperately calling on there to be no bombing of the main port through which 90 percent of the food gets into Yemen. And Yemen is one of four countries that are threatened by famine. And a unique coalition of eight American-led NGOs have come together to form a global emergency response coalition to call on the American public to support us in trying to staunch the bloodshed, to staunch the humanitarian suffering, even while the war going on. But it's for the diplomats and the politicians to try and bring the war to an end. JUDY WOODRUFF: What's at stake if that doesn't happen? DAVID MILIBAND: Suffering and further fuel for the insurgency. This is a downward spiral to hell that really needs to be arrested. JUDY WOODRUFF: David Miliband of the International Rescue Committee, thank you very much.

DAVID MILIBAND: Thank you very much..

Bernie Sanders Slams Trump for Ignoring Climate Change, Income Inequality & Voter Suppression

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to what President Trump said about healthcare on Monday, when he spoke before a room full of state governors. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated. AMY GOODMAN: Professor Jeffrey Sachs, "unbelievably complicated," he said. Something that isn’t unbelievably complicated is Medicare for all. This is something that—well, that Bernie Sanders has talked about a great deal. In fact, I wanted to turn to what Bernie Sanders’ response was to last night’s—you can’t call it a State of the Union address, but that—the speech that President Trump gave before a joint session of Congress. SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: I urge President Trump: Keep your promises.

Tell the American people, tweet to the American people, that you will not cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Further, I did not hear President Trump tonight mention—mention the words "income and wealth inequality" or the fact that we now have the widest gap between the very rich and everyone else since the 1920s. I did not hear President Trump mention the fact that as a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, a five-to-four decision, we now have a corrupt campaign finance system that is allowing billionaires to buy elections and undermine American democracy. How could you give a speech to the nation and not talk about that enormously important issue? Furthermore, not only did President Trump not mention the issue of voter suppression, what Republican governors are doing all over this country to make it harder for people to participate in our democracy, but the truth of the matter is, his administration is now working, working overtime with Republican governors, to make it harder for young people, low-income people, senior citizens and people of color to vote. That is an outrage. Perhaps most astoundingly, at a time when the scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, that it is caused by human activity, that it is already causing devastating problems in our country and all over the world, I did not hear President Trump say one word—not one word—about the need to combat climate change, the greatest environmental threat facing our planet.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Bernie Sanders, his response online last night to President Trump’s address. You were the foreign policy adviser for Bernie Sanders, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, and you’re head of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia. But we started on the issue of healthcare and the issue that certainly Sanders has put forward, which is Medicare for all. What about what’s happening to the ACA and—or maybe what isn’t? Because it’s clear they’re having a great deal of trouble. Everywhere Republicans go, they’re being faced by massive protest, and a lot of that is centered around "Don’t take away my healthcare." JEFFREY SACHS: This is true of every part of Trump’s agenda, which is that it’s not thought out. And on the health side, they don’t have an alternative plan. And people do not want to lose their access to healthcare. And the governors in Republican states, as well, are saying, "You cannot take these people off the rolls.

" So they’re stuck. They do not have a plan. What is interesting, I think there’s one thing that we should also mention: Donald Trump rightly said we need to get drug prices down. This is something where both sides could agree. We have incredible abuse by the pharmaceutical industry. We have medicines, like sofosbuvir, which is for hepatitis C, that Gilead charges 1,000 times its production cost. This is an incredible abuse of the American people. And I think we should take up the president on that and say, "OK, let’s get these drug prices under control." They’re hideous, and they’re a big reason why our health system is so expensive..

Yemen: When is the Time? | The Trials of Spring | The New York Times

If any Arab population needed a revolution, it was Yemen. If we talk about poverty, there is no one poorer. If we talk about illiteracy, there is no one more illiterate. If we talk about corruption, there is no regime more corrupt than the one that was in Yemen. I was born in 1972. We were a poor family. Society then was traditional, but it was colorful. The women participated in everything. In the market, in the bakeries; buying, selling. Things started to change when we reached the mid-80s. Each year, society was becoming stricter. The status of women was a real problem. Sana became full of weapons and tribes. The revolution didn’t start in a day. In 2006, a coalition of civil society organizations was formed. I was one of the leaders. We protested and organized sit-ins. Freedom! On Jan. 24, 2011, we were following what was happening in Tunisia. When a corrupt ruler in an Arab country goes down by a popular act; it was, for us, an impossible dream. That day, I woke up earlier than usual, feeling that I had a big mission to accomplish.

We stood in front of the Tunisian Embassy and I told an Al Jazeera reporter that I had a message I wanted to send to President Saleh. I hope that the movement progresses and for the fall of the regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who threatened us with Afghanization, Iraqization, and Somalization. Today, we say to him, we threaten him with Tunisization! When I was saying those words I felt like I was shaking the throne of tyranny. When I remember the first days of the revolution, I feel that, for a few days, we were able to create a whole country in a small area. Not more than one kilometer maybe. We created a Yemen that was united, collaborative and respectful of one another. Yemeni women were at the front of this revolution. Most of the marches were led by women. Women’s issues were strongly represented in 2011; in its beginning. There were slogans and banners about maternal mortality, child marriage, about women being the victims of illiteracy, poverty.

Then the women started to get pushed away from the platform. To the back, to the back, to the back. In less than a month, they were beaten in the square where they had previously led. The important women’s issues I wanted to discuss were the issues of women in decision-making positions, women’s health and child marriage. Unfortunately just as the women were pushed away from the revolutionary scene, their voices were crushed in the dialogue conference. The women barely advanced at all in the revolution. Yemen is always at war. Even if it isn’t declared, it’s a war. There is the war against Al Qaeda, there is the war waged by Al Qaeda. There is the war between Houthis and Salafists. There is the war between the Congregation for Reform and the Houthis. The women called for peace and it’s a state of war. I know a very progressive official in the country who said very clearly, “Now is not the time for women. For their freedom. It’s not the right time.” Everyone, including women, is saying that it’s not the time.

But when is the time?.

Iona Craig on What Really Happened When U.S. Navy SEALs Stormed a Yemeni Village, Killing Dozens

AMY GOODMAN: Iona Craig, I wanted to ask you about the Navy SEAL raid in Yemen in January that you’ve investigated, the White House warning journalists and lawmakers last month against criticizing the botched raid by U.S. commandos on a Yemeni village that left 25 civilians and one U.S. soldier dead, William Ryan Owens. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports the January 28th assault killed nine children under the age of 13, with five other children wounded. Among those critical of the raid was Arizona Republican Senator John McCain. SEN. JOHN McCAIN: When you lose a $75 million airplane, and, more importantly, American lives are—a life is lost, and wounded, I don’t believe that you can call it a success. AMY GOODMAN: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer lashed out at Senator McCain and journalists for criticizing President Trump’s decision to order the raid. PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: It’s absolutely a success.

And I think anyone who would suggest it’s not a success does disservice to the life of Chief Ryan Owens. He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission. And anybody who would suggest otherwise doesn’t fully appreciate how successful that mission was, what the information that they were able to retrieve was and how that will help prevent future terrorist attacks. KRISTEN WELKER: But even Senator John McCain— PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: I understand that. I think my statement is very clear on that, Kristen. I think anybody who undermines the success of that rage [sic] owes an apology and a disservice to the life of Chief Owens. AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Sean Spicer. President Trump, when he addressed a joint session of Congress, brought in the widow of Ryan Owens, but Ryan Owens’ father, William Owens, refused to meet with President Trump when his son’s body was brought to Dover Air Base, harshly critical of this raid, saying, "Why did he have to do this now, to move so quickly in his administration?" That was one Navy SEAL, and then you have the number of civilian casualties, women and children.

What did you find, Iona? IONA CRAIG: Well, really, the civilians that I spoke to when I went to the village had exactly that same question: Why? Why did the Trump administration choose to carry out this raid? For what reasons? And what are they going to do about it now? Because not only did they put the lives of Navy SEALs at a huge amount of risk, which was highly predictable if you had even a vague understanding of the local politics in that particular area of Yemen at the time, but obviously caused mass civilian casualties. There were 26 people in that village who were killed. As you’ve already mentioned, many of those were women and children. That village has essentially been abandoned now, because not only—after that raid happened, not only was the entire village strafed and more than 120 livestock were killed, but the U.S. went back a month later, at the beginning of March, and bombed it for four consecutive nights, both with drone strikes and helicopter gunfire, and killed two more children and several more adults.

So the last person that I spoke to who was living there, Sheikh Aziz al Ameri, he then left the village and is now living under trees several miles away. So, the impact on the local population, who were essentially on the same side as U.S. in the civil war in Yemen at the moment—they were fighting against the Houthis, which is exactly what the U.S. has been doing over the last two years—they’ve not only alienated the entire local population around there, but caused a huge amount of anti-American sentiment. And now tribesmen, who were not al-Qaeda, who are not even al-Qaeda now, but were not before, but are now quite willing and wanting to fight the Americans as a result of this and a result of them killing their children and their wives. So, I think that what was quite clear before they even went in there was that, and what actually happened was the fact that, all of the local tribesmen in that area came to defend the village when the U.S. Navy SEALs went in there. And that was because they thought the village was being raided by the people they’d been fighting for the last two-and-a-half years, which is the Houthis.

They had no notion that it was Americans that were coming in to attack the village when it happened. And that was quite clearly a huge risk when the Americans went in there to carry out this raid, that that would indeed happen. It’s the middle of a civil war. That village is right behind the front lines. They had been receiving rocket fire and mortar fire from their opponents in the civil war in the days and weeks before the raid. So, of course it was their assumption that their village was being stormed by the Houthi rebels, whom they’ve been fighting for so long. So, every man within hearing distance of gunfire came running. I spoke to a man who drove 45 minutes from his neighboring village when he got the call to come and help defend his neighbors’ area. And so, I think the risk to the Navy SEALs was massive before they even went in there. It appears that there had been at least some knowledge within the village that they were in fact coming, as well. And so, for all those reasons, the Navy SEALs were being put under a huge amount of risk, and it was highly likely that somebody was going to—one of their team was going to get killed, not to mention then the fact that they inevitably got pinned down by fire, then had to call in air support and basically decimate the entire village in order to be able to extract themselves safely from that situation.

And from what I saw, and talking to people, most of that was predictable before they even went in there. NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Iona Craig, as you report in the piece, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said the purpose of the raid was intelligence gathering and not specifically targeting anyone, and that initially the U.S. Central Command posted a video backing Spicer’s claim, but that video was subsequently removed when it was proven that it was 10 years old. IONA CRAIG: Yeah, I mean, two things on that front. Certainly, from what I was told and in addition to statements that appear to have come out from the military since then, they were in fact going after the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a man called Qasim al-Raymi. I think it’s extremely unlikely that they would have been carrying out such a high-risk mission in order to gather laptops, cellphones or intelligence, as they suggest.

He was not in the village and, in fact, released an audio statement mocking both Trump and the raid several days later. Although there were some low-level al-Qaeda militants there in one particular house, because of the situation of how the Navy SEALs came under fire, that house was in fact bombed by an airstrike before the SEALs could even get into it, so whatever intelligence they claim to have gathered from there would have come from other buildings where there were no al-Qaeda militants present. That video that you mentioned, that was—when it was first posted, was labeled as an AQAP—so that’s al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula—video of how to make bombs, as you say, was—had turned out was 10 years old, had already been available on the internet. Well, AQAP, as it is now, didn’t even exist 10 years ago, so even to label it as an AQAP video was kind of laughable, really. And if that’s the best of the intelligence that came out of there, then it seems that that was a very high-risk undertaking for very little gain, if that’s the best that they can show for it.

But as I mentioned, certainly, the people I spoke to on the ground, when I asked them about what houses the Navy SEALs got into or perhaps access to the dead bodies, who may have been carrying, let’s say, cellphones or electrical equipment, they couldn’t even clarify to me that the Navy SEALs had got inside buildings or had actually access to the dead. They couldn’t say either way, because of the chaos of the situation, it being extremely dark. They obviously didn’t have night vision goggles like the Navy SEALs would have. So it wasn’t even clear that they had in fact got into any buildings or not. So I think that’s highly disputed, that intelligence. And certainly, some of the claims being made over the last few days, that the whole laptop ban was linked to intelligence gathered from the Yemen raid, do not add up at all, from what I’ve seen being written in the media on that, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Iona, we have less than a minute to go, but earlier this month Amnesty International urged Trump to block future arms sales, writing, "Arming the Saudi Arabia and Bahrain governments risks complicity with war crimes, and doing so while simultaneously banning travel to the U.S. from Yemen would be even more unconscionable," Amnesty wrote. A front-page story in The New York Times today, "Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has decided to lift all human rights conditions on a major sale of F-16 fighter jets and other arms to Bahrain in an effort to end a rift between the United States and the critical Middle East ally." If you can, very quickly, talk about the role of U.S. weapons in these conflicts? IONA CRAIG: In Yemen, it’s huge. The U.S. is the biggest exporter to Saudi Arabia, and it’s big business for the U.S. But, of course, we know that the majority of civilian casualties in the war in Yemen have been caused by Saudi-led airstrikes. And the U.S.

has a huge influence over this. They were—those precision-guided weapons were suspended at the end of last year, and now we’re looking at a resumption of that, where the U.S. does actually have influence over Saudi Arabia—not just over Saudi Arabia, but also the continuation of this war, for the weapons that it sells to them and to the logistical support it gives to the Saudi-led coalition in the terms of refueling and in the terms of targets, as well. So, this is—it is, obviously, worrying for those people and campaigners who have been trying to prevent the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia, but also the terms of those sales. There are indications now that those weapons may be sold under commercial terms rather than under military, which also then doesn’t attach the same end use issues with them, so there isn’t so much scrutiny then with the end use of those weapons in a war like Yemen. And that’s also deeply concerning.

So, I think now, at a stage where really the attempt should be made to de-escalate the conflict, it’s—all indications are now that, in fact, the war in Yemen will be escalated by the activities of the U.S. government right now. NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, one last, very quickly, Iona, that we—as we said in our introduction, there have been more airstrikes carried out since the start of 2017 than there were in all of 2016. But you’ve pointed out in a recent interview that there were more drone strikes in Yemen over the space of 36 hours than there were in all of 2016. IONA CRAIG: Yes, absolutely. And even in the last 24 hours, there have been U.S. airstrikes—and not just airstrikes, there’s naval bombardments, as well, which, of course, were being done under the Obama administration, but those airstrikes have been carried out in Abyan province, in Shabwah, in Hadhramaut, in Ma’rib—in the last 24 hours in Ma’rib, in Shabwah and in Abyan, and also in Al Bayda, as well, earlier on in March. So, yes, there’s definitely—there’s not just this surge at the beginning of March, where we saw that 36 hours of airstrikes happening very rapidly, but that’s been a continuation, as well, now. And as I say, it’s not just drone strikes.

It’s airstrikes from fighter jets, and it’s also coming from the sea. AMY GOODMAN: Iona Craig, we want to thank you for being with us, freelance journalist who was based in Sana’a for years, has continued to go back and forth reporting on what’s happening there. Thanks so much for joining us. This is Democracy Now! When we come back, the U.S. is leading a boycott of U.N. talks on a nuclear ban. We’ll find out why. Stay with us..

Yemen: Trump Expands U.S. Military Role in Saudi War as Yemenis Brace for Famine

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to look at Yemen, where the U.S. is also rapidly expanding military operations. The U.S. has reportedly launched more than 49 strikes across the country this month—according to The New York Times, that’s more strikes than the U.S. has ever carried out in a single year in Yemen. While the U.S. airstrikes have been targeting suspected al-Qaeda operations in Yemen, The Wall Street Journal is reporting the U.S. is now offering even more logistical and intelligence support for the Saudi-led war against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who are accused of being linked to Iran. More than 10,000 people have been killed since the U.S.-backed, Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen began two years ago this month. Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting today that the Trump administration has approved the resumption of sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. President Obama froze some of these weapons sales last year due to concern about civilian casualties in Saudi Arabia’s expanding war in Yemen. AMY GOODMAN: This all comes as the United Nations is warning Yemen is on the brink of famine.

This is U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien. STEPHEN O’BRIEN: Well, it’s not just the number of people who are food insecure, which represents about 14 million out of the 26 million or so Yemenis, which is an enormous number for any nation to have to bear; it’s the fact that we have seen an increase in severe acute malnourishment, particularly in young children and in lactating mothers. We have seen a very severe deterioration in the number of patients needing dialysis services, access to oxygen, and where we need to see more antibiotics being brought in and medical facilities made available. These are seriously deteriorating. AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the situation in Yemen, we go to London to speak with Iona Craig, a journalist who was based in Sana’a from 2010 to '15 as the Yemen correspondent for The Times of London. She was in Yemen again last month, where she reported on January's Navy SEAL raid that left 25 civilians and one U.S.

Navy SEAL dead. Iona, welcome back to Democracy Now! Talk about the situation on the ground in Yemen right now. IONA CRAIG: Well, as you’ve already mentioned, the humanitarian situation is certainly getting worse. I went to several of the areas, remote areas, where some of the internally displaced people are finding it increasingly difficult to get access to food and even water. And then, on the military front, there is a stalemate on a lot of the—on the side of the ground war, whilst also a new offensive was actually launched on the Red Sea Coast whilst I was in Yemen in January, that then pushed a lot of the civilian population into these incredibly remote areas where there are no aid agencies to support them and to provide shelter and to provide food. So, across the country, really, it doesn’t matter which side of the front line you are, if you’re a civilian.

People are finding it increasingly difficult to both access food and to be able to afford to pay for food, because many of the government employees have not been paid for more than six, seven months now, and so that reduces people’s capacity to even purchase goods, even when they are available, in areas where they’re not affected by the conflict. So, really, there’s a massive sense of war weariness amongst the civilian population. People are just really desperate for this war to come to an end, obviously. But certainly, on the political side, there is no indication that is about to happen. And, in fact, the warring parties are not even willing to even engage or speak with the U.N. special envoy who is charged with trying to find a political resolution to the conflict. So, both on the military front, things are shifting slightly or have done, but certainly, on the humanitarian side, things are getting worse, with the prediction now of wheat supplies soon to run out in perhaps the coming weeks, or certainly in the next two months, that that is only going to get worse, as well.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Iona, as this humanitarian situation is worsening, the Trump administration is reportedly planning changes to the U.S. policy in Yemen. Could you tell us a little about the kinds of changes that are being considered and what their impact would be if they’re put into place? IONA CRAIG: So, one thing that appears to have already been changed, from what we’ve heard, is Yemen now, or parts of Yemen, anyway, being regarded as areas of active hostility. Now, that’s quite a technical term, but essentially what it means is those selected areas are put on a war footing the same as Iraq and Afghanistan. So, previously, under the Obama administration, Yemen was considered an area outside of active hostility, so there were different protocols put in place to ensure the prevention of civilian casualties.

And it meant that when drone strikes or airstrikes or raids were carried out, that there had to be a near certainty that there were no civilian casualties. Obviously, that didn’t always work. I have spent many years covering Yemen, and that included covering incidents of mass civilian casualties under the Obama administration. But now, when that changes to put in parts of the country into areas of active hostility, that near certainty basically gets chucked out of the window, and it means that those civilian casualties are kind of allowed and only have to be proportional. So, that’s obviously very concerning for the civilian population in Yemen. We’ve also seen more military activity, as you’ve already mentioned, in the form of airstrikes. So that’s more military activity, less oversight, because of the way the command structure is now—appears to have been changing, as well, in the sense that the military is going to be allowed to take more decisions on that level without the kind of micromanaging the Obama administration was always accused of, as well as moving these—removing these protocols to—that were supposed to, anyway, protect civilian lives.

In addition to that, now there is talk of the U.S. wanting to become more involved on the side of the Saudi-led coalition, who have, of course, been carrying out this aerial bombing campaign against the Houthi-Saleh forces, who are predominantly in northern Yemen, and have been carrying out this aerial bombing campaign against them, and ground war, since March 2015. Now, the U.S. wants to—has been—has put in a request to become more involved, particularly in an offensive that the Emiratis, the UAE, who are part of the Saudi-led coalition, are looking to launch on the Red Sea Coast, particularly on the port of Hodeidah, which is a vital supply line for northern Yemen, which is the most densely populated part of the country, which relies heavily on that route for the import of food. Now, the most troubling part of this request to become more involved with the Saudi-led coalition appears to be because there has been—certainly come out from the White House, from the White House spokesman—this sense of conflating the Houthi rebels, who I mentioned, with Iran. Now, the Houthis have had support from Iran, and that appears to have been increasing, with specific military assistance and weapons to the Houthis over the last nine months.

But to call them an Iranian proxy or to conflate them with Iran, it now appears that the—that this almost amounts to the U.S. wanting to start a proxy war with Iran in Yemen. And, of course, that is incredibly dangerous. It’s incredibly dangerous for the civilian population, who are already facing famine at the moment, and it’s incredibly dangerous because we don’t know what the reaction would be from Iran. That reaction may not just be in Yemen. It may be elsewhere in the region, where they’re also involved in wars—for example, in Syria. And that’s really an unknown quantity. The known quantity is that the civilian population in Yemen will certainly suffer as a consequence of that, if the Americans become more involved in the Saudi-led coalition’s efforts in the country..

Which Countries Are Fighting Over Water?

An often overlooked aspect of climate change is water availability. As water becomes scarcer, people get more aggressive in protecting their water rights. In fact, the fight over who gets to use the world’s water has been a long, ongoing battle. So, who’s fighting over water? Well, water is arguably the world’s most important resource. Nearly all human activity, including commerce, transportation, sanitation, migration patterns, and survival are intrinsically linked to water. Yet, nearly 800 million people, or 11% of the global population lacks access to clean drinking water. Part of this comes from the distinction between human rights, economic viability, conflicting laws, and environmental concerns. This means that there is rarely a solution which satisfies all involved. According to one study, between 1950 and 2000, there were more than 1,800 international conflicts over water. This doesn’t even include domestic or internal disputes.

Generally, water disputes that deal with international commerce, like fishing or agriculture, are addressed by the World Trade Organization. They even have internal groups to deal with disputes. When it comes to domestic water management and resources, the UN steps in. However, they focus more on activism and education to prevent conflicts, rather than solving existing ones. For example, in the Middle East, the UN runs a program to train water professionals to avoid future disagreements over how water is internationally allocated. In particular, the Middle East is one of the most severe water crisis zones. It’s been said that future wars in the Middle East are more likely to be fought over water than over oil. With only 1% of the world’s freshwater available to about 5% of the global population, disputes over river basins have the potential to spiral out of control in an already volatile area. Primarily in question are the Euphrates, Tigris, and Jordan rivers.

For example, the Jordan river runs along Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine. However, Israel has restricted Palestine’s access to the river as part of their ongoing conflict. Those who control water can use it to their political advantage. Another popular example is that of Bolivia’s privatization of water. In 2000, water rights in Cochabamba were given over to a private company, which proceeded to raise prices significantly. This caused protests and eventually riots during which a civilian was killed. Eventually the privatization was reversed. Water availability might be one of the most conflict prone issues the world has to deal with. Especially as populations continue grow while the amount of water continues to drop. Water shortages affect businesses, economies, and populations, and no country is immune to the effects of running out of water. Unfortunately, this complicated issue has no obvious solution outside of cooperation and compromise. One reason that the borders and rights are so complex is because of the value of the large bodies of water beneath them. To learn about the science of aquifers and how they were formed, check out this video from DNews.

There’s a link in the description below! Thanks for watching TestTube News… please subscribe..

‘Climate Wars – Yemen’ with Thomas Friedman

Wow. As we touch down, I’m shocked that a city this big could really be running out of water. First, I meet with the leaders of al-Marzouh to understand how the conflict became so violent. Thirteen years ago this conflict started. Next, I meet the leaders of Qaradh. What he’s saying is that the people were living for hundreds of years without any conflict. It's only recently because too many people and too little amount of water. How old was he? Twenty-two years. Oh my gosh, I’m sorry. Well, this is Mohamed Qaid who is from Qaradh. He was hit with three bullets maybe three, four days ago. There is no politics or anything, just for the water. That’s what he’s saying. We need to let him rest. Thank you very much, feel better. In America, when we think about the roots of violence, we think about struggles for money and power or clashes over religion and ideology. But to me there is something uniquely terrifying about people killing each other over something as fundamental as water. Yemen’s president invites me to meet with him.

What is the biggest water challenge Yemen faces today? Could Yemen run out of water?.

Climate Change (EP: 6) Volcanic Emissions

[Intro Music] (Captions by Tang) Hello Witchlings! Last time we discussed CO2 sinks and the way we're damaging one particular ecosystem. Now, there may be some individuals left that are asking "Well, how do we know that volcanoes aren't the source of our climate woes?" Well, for starters, it has a lot to do with carbon ratios, specifically our friend delta-13-C: the ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12. For volcanoes, they have a little bit more carbon-12, but not much. This means that their delta-13-C value is just slightly negative. In fact, data suggest that volcanoes have about a 2-10% pull on the delta-13-C ratio, in carbon-12's favor. In other words, a graph of the delta-13-C ratio would become slightly negative with volcanic activity. In fact, this is seen in ice and soil data that tell us if an eruption happened, how big it was, and many other things. The Earth had a delta-13-c ratio that fluctuated with the rise and fall of volcanoes, rock-weathering, and the decay of organic matter over millions of years.

However, we only need to look at the last 800,000 years or so — about the length of the current climate cycle that we're talking about. Because, remember, we are performing a scientific analysis, and all variables must be controlled for. This mean that oceanic temperatures, currents, landmasses, etc, must be in approximately the same shape as they were in the past. That is why only the last 800,000 years are relevant. During that period of time, the delta-13-C ratio for the Earth fluctuated at about -6.5%. This means there was a slight pull in carbon-12's favor, but not by much. After the Industrial Revolution, this ratio took a nose-dive very fast as our carbon emissions grew exponentially. You see, fossil fuel emissions have a much more negative impact on that delta-13-C ratio. Where we could say the average for volcanoes is about -6%. For fossil fuels, it's about -25%. For an Earth that's in balance, that would mean a massive increase in volcanic activity since 1800. However, we have NOT seen such an intense increase.

While we have seen many scary pictures of volcanoes erupting, and disruption to our modern tools, we just HAVEN'T seen the Volcano Apocalypse that would be required to shift the ratio by this amount. In the absence of that apocalypse, volcanoes would have to experience a dramatic increase in the amount of Carbon-12 that they produce. That's just not really physically possible. This would mean that the Earth would have to acquire a new mechanism by which volcanoes could acquire or produce more carbon-12 than carbon-13. However, that has literally never been observed anywhere in history. And it requires a lot more assumptions and belief. That is why we will simply use Occam's Razor to slice that hypothesis away~ The ONLY possibility that we could be left with if we couldn't even begrudgingly admit to anthropogenic carbon emissions being the source, would be a MASSIVE amount of decaying organic matter. Do you recall any such event since the Industrial Revolution? If you've been keeping up with the news, then you do know of one, and it's happening today. It's also happened in the past because the Earth has been warmer before, but what can THAT tell us about present day? The main thing it can tell us is that global warming-induced climate change is a positive feedback loop.

Positive feedback loops enhance or amplify an effect on a system. These loops exist within many different systems, such as child birth, where a baby presses against the cervical wall, this releases oxytocin in the individual's brain, and this causes further stimulation of the cervix and contraction. That loop repeats until the child is born. In a similar manner, as the globe is heated, the permafrost melts, and bacteria that was once dormant becomes active, and they begin breaking down the dead organic matter around them. This releases greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, where some of that goes on to contribute to global warming. And the cycle repeats itself. This feedback loop helped the Earth become a more habitable place, as the Earth entered into an unstable equilibrium point. We have, however, shifted that equilibrium because of our actions. Essentially, we played the role of the bacteria; we inserted ourself right into that cycle and we started acting like little tiny greenhouse gas producers, except we are MUCH more industrial than a colony of bacteria. Our activity has caused the permafrost to thaw, and the bacteria there to begin producing methane, from their activities.

Methane is about 100 times more efficient than CO2, at infrared capture, on a molecule-by-molecule basis. This means that it's one hundred times more potent than the gas we mainly emit. But that's not the only gas we emit, as we ALSO produce methane, too. Thus, the greenhouse gas effect is amplified by us inserting ourselves into that positive feedback loop. It's almost like adding more oxygen to a fire. To put this in perspective, and debunk the myth once and for all that volcanoes are the reason for our current carbon, we can look at the amount that volcanoes emit every year compared to what WE emit every year. ALL the emissions in a single year of volcanic activity would be enough to be EQUIVALENT to either Florida, Michigan, or Ohio's carbon emissions. For ONE YEAR. Even the emissions here in the United States from transportation in a single year, dominate ALL volcanic emissions in a single year.

Hopefully we can put that to rest; we are overwhelmingly contributing to the greenhouse gas effect. By far, it's more than any terrestrial source since 1800. We are essentially little volcanoes spewing out soot and black into the atmosphere, so it can rain back down as acid. Thank you for watching, Witchlings. Now, things are not that bad, as long as we use our knowledge and apply it in whatever way we can. I hope that you stay safe, and know that you are incredible. <3 Bye~! [Outro Music] Thanks for watching! Hope you enjoyed. <3.