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PJL: May 2013 (Part 1)
Researchers found changing climates around the globe, but particularly in Arizona and the arid Southwest, where historic drought conditions are showing little signs of relief. Over the past 20 years, wildfires have singed more than 1. Climate change and drought have made the fires more costly and frequent. Experts say the forests may not come back and, if they do, they won't be the same.
Although Arizona's drought and shifting landscape provide a case study in climate change, the new report says it's seen everywhere on Earth. As temperatures increase, ecosystems change along with them. Research for the new report took place over five years and looked at how increased temperatures after the last ice age correlated to changes in vegetation. They used that analysis to project how much ecosystems could change in the next years as the world continues to warm.
Their finding: regions with the largest increases in temperature also had the greatest changes in vegetation. By itself, it's not a new finding. Drought weakened the forest and high temperatures didn't help, but packs of bark beetles came in and finished the job. Those trees are slow growers, so experts at the time predicted it would be years before there were woodlands in the area again.
And when something does grow, it's something better suited for the changing climate. The Qataris also host a de-facto embassy for the Taliban, where U. The Qataris funded its construction and continue to pay most of its operating costs.
A Saudi Prince’s Quest to Remake the Middle East
Leaders pointed to Qatar—look! He had no idea. Mattis called the Saudis and urged them to stand down. In the days that followed, the Saudis and their allies imposed conditions that appeared designed to reduce Qatar to a vassal state; in order for the blockade to be lifted, the country would, among other things, have to close Al Jazeera and sever relations with Iran. American officials concluded that M. The government of Turkey, which had a military base in the capital, sent a new detachment of soldiers.
Behind the scenes, there were indications that the plan had been approved at the summit in Riyadh. As the blockade was getting under way, a senior American official received a telephone call just before midnight from Yousef Al Otaiba, the Emirati Ambassador, who told him what was happening. A former American intelligence official told me it was inconceivable that the Saudis or the Emiratis would have acted without approval from the U.
A senior Administration official denied this. American diplomats knew almost nothing about what was happening between the White House and the Gulf monarchies. He and his entourage rented a suite at the St. Regis Hotel, cleared away most of the furniture, and received a long line of American businessmen who were looking for funding. Charles Kushner has maintained that the Qataris requested the meeting, and that he attended out of politeness but was too wary of conflicts of interest to accept funding.
The financial analyst, however, said that Kushner pitched a huge renovation of the property, which included bringing in retail stores and converting offices to residences, and hosted a follow-up meeting the next day at Fifth Avenue. The Qataris declined, citing dubious business logic. As the conflict wore on, op-ed writers and social-media posts kept up a drumbeat against Qatar. Many of them came from a curious source: the SCL Group, the parent company of the political-research firm Cambridge Analytica.
Before the election, Bannon was a vice-president of Cambridge Analytica, which was financed by Robert Mercer, the billionaire investor and Trump supporter. SCL had been retained by the Emirati government; this was not known at the time, because the firm did not declare to the U. Eventually, U. Other indications emerged that the crisis had been premeditated.
Qatar remains under blockade by the allied countries in the Gulf. The blockade has inflicted deep losses on the economy and forced leaders to find alternative sources of food and consumer goods. But the Qataris are rich enough to endure without too much hardship, and they have emerged from the crisis as objects of sympathy.
On the evening of June 21st, viewers of Al Arabiya, the Saudi state news channel, witnessed a surreal scene: M. Before M. In fact, the transfer of power was anything but amicable. The night before, according to Saudi and American sources, bin Nayef had been summoned to a meeting with King Salman. At the palace, guards surrounded him, confiscated his phone, and demanded that he abdicate.
Bin Nayef refused. According to the former American official with contacts in the region, he was forced to stand for several hours, which, because of lingering injuries from the suicide attack, caused excruciating pain. As dawn neared, bin Nayef agreed to surrender his position.
Bin Nayef was confined to his house, where even some of his most powerful American friends, including the former C. In the months that followed, M. The Saudi state has long ruled through an alliance with the standard-bearers of the Wahhabi creed, who, in exchange for their loyalty, were given permission to disseminate stringent and antiquated doctrines.
We will destroy them today. These moves drew widespread, if not unanimous, praise in the West. Thomas Friedman, the influential foreign-affairs columnist for the Times , described visiting M.
Soon after becoming crown prince, M. On November 4th, he sent police across the country to arrest scores of people, including more than a dozen members of the royal family, on allegations of corruption. It was a breathtaking assault on the most powerful class of Saudis, who had enriched themselves, often with bribes and kickbacks facilitated by links to the royal family.
If there is enough evidence against him, he will be held accountable. Some two hundred detainees were brought to the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh—a domain for princes, but not usually for princes under arrest. Many were rattled by their first encounter with any restrictions on their lives. Ali Shihabi, who runs a pro-Saudi think tank in Washington, spoke to several detainees, and told me that everyone endured the same protocol: They were told to remove their clothes and were given a uniform and a medical exam, during which they were asked if they were taking any prescription drugs.
Then they were led to guarded rooms, where the doors had been removed, along with the mirrors and anything else that they might use to harm themselves. Then the interrogations began, with police and investigators presenting the detained Saudis with purported evidence of their misdeeds. A figure was usually arrived at—under coercion—and, once the detainees paid up and signed a nondisclosure agreement, they were free to leave.
Many wealthy Saudis who were not targeted in the crackdown frantically moved their money out of the country, the beginning of a capital flight that totalled millions of dollars a month. While M. In , while vacationing in the South of France, he had bought a yacht, the Serene, from a Russian vodka tycoon, for five hundred and fifty million dollars. A spokesman for the royal family dismissed the reports, saying that a distant relative of M.
In the Saudi and the Western media, M. At least one prominent Saudi died, in unclear circumstances. According to a Saudi with knowledge of the events, Ali al-Qahtani, a retired Army general, died of a heart attack after being subjected to harsh treatment during interrogation in the Ritz. The Saudi government has denied abuse.
A detainee also told the Saudi that Amr al-Dabbagh, a former senior official with the Saudi Investment Authority, was subjected to electric shocks at the hotel.
Some of those who had been inside the Ritz-Carlton reported that the captors spoke English to one another, which raised the possibility that M. Haykel defended the detentions, saying that without them Saudi Arabia would continue on its unsustainable path. Because the system as it presently stands has lots of royals and hangers-on and businessmen who are feeding at the trough and will never agree to disenfranchise themselves. The most telling arrest was that of Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, the head of the national guard and a son of the late King Abdullah. By removing Miteb, M. In late October, Kushner paid an unpublicized visit to M.
Though Kushner was supposed to focus on a plan for peace between Israel and Palestine, he had evidently decided that the more pressing goal was to unite the region against Iran. Soon after Kushner departed, M. According to a former Obama Administration official, the Saudis presented a plan that was radically favorable to Israel. Around the same time, M. Since the Saudis and the Emiratis intervened in Yemen, nearly three years earlier, things had gone disastrously wrong.
Even more pressing, the Iranians had smuggled in missiles, which the rebels were using to bombard Saudi Arabia. In an effort to stop the missiles, the Saudis and the Emiratis blockaded Yemeni ports, which intensified the humanitarian disaster. More than ten thousand people have died, and hundreds of thousands more are facing famine and outbreaks of cholera.
Adding to M. Since the Lebanese civil war ended, in , Saudi Arabia had given the country billions of dollars to help it rebuild, only to watch as Hezbollah grew into the strongest party and the dominant military force. For several years, the American and the Saudi governments had teamed up to build a Lebanese Army as a counterweight.
In , a year after M. The Saudis hoped that Hariri would be able to confront Hezbollah. He was a Sunni, and an experienced politician, who had served as Prime Minister from to , when he fled to Paris, largely out of fear that Hezbollah was preparing to kill him. His fears were not unfounded. In , his father, Rafik, another Saudi-backed Prime Minister, was killed in a car-bomb attack, for which a U.
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In , after two years of parliamentary deadlock, in which the country operated without a head of state, he returned and took office. But Hariri was unable to thwart Hezbollah, even as M.
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The breaking point came in early November. As the rebels continued to fire missiles across the border, Ali Velayati, a senior Iranian leader, flew to Lebanon and met with Hariri. According to the former American official, Velayati said that Iran intended to continue asserting itself in the region. Afterward, Hariri posed, smiling, for a picture with him. When word reached M.
When Hariri was summoned to meet M. Instead, in Riyadh, he was confronted by police, who took him into custody. According to two former American officials active in the region, he was held for eleven hours. At the end, in a surreal video that was played on Saudi television, Hariri, looking exhausted and drawn, read a resignation speech, claiming that he had fled Lebanon to evade an Iranian plot to kill him.
A former senior intelligence official who is close to the White House told me that M. They want to break it up.