Is the Antarctic Ozone Hole Really Mending? By S. Fred Singer

The AOH is an ephemeral (every Oct-Nov) thinning of stratospheric ozone at an altitude of 20-25 km, roughly covering the Antarctic continent; unanticipated, it was discovered serendipitously in 1985 but is now tracked with satellite-borne ozone meters. Its discovery created much panic about an epidemic of skin cancers that led directly to passage of the 1987 Montreal Protocol, an international treaty stopping the manufacture and release into the atmosphere of ozone-depleting chemicals, including CFCs used in refrigeration and bromine-containing fire suppressants.

Recently, there have been many voices, suggesting that the AOH is shrinking, presumably as a result of the Protocol. I am somewhat skeptical of the evidence, but also for theoretical reasons. I am inclined to blame wishful thinking –- a desire to justify post facto the 1987 Montreal Protocol and the economic losses it has produced around the world since then. By implication also, this tends to support the concept of a (largely unrelated) global climate treaty that would severely reduce the release of the greenhouse gas CO2.

For evidence, I refer to a well-written semi-popular story in Eos of 15 August 2016, which relies mainly on a paper in Science magazine [of 30 June, 2016] by MIT chemist Susan Solomon et al. The credibility of the paper derives from the fact that its lead author had identified the correct mechanism for creating the AOH at a time when there was much dispute about its cause; it turned out to be ‘heterogeneous’ reactions of chlorine compounds on the surfaces of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs), made up of ice particles created from stratospheric moisture by the extremely cold local temperatures. [Heterogeneous reactions involve both gas molecules and solid particles, while ‘homogeneous’ reactions involve only gas molecules.]

These reactions eventually release free chlorine atoms (able to destroy ozone catalytically) from the existing stratospheric chlorine reservoir, gaseous HCl –hydrogen chloride. The relevant chemical reactions commence when solar radiation reaches the Antarctic stratosphere in the beginning of Spring, i.e., in October, after a winter darkness lasting up to six months.

But the same Eos story also quotes NASA atmospheric scientist Susan Strahan, who points to the difficulty of identifying a trend in the presence of “noise,” the year-to-year variation in geographic extent of the AOH. Worse still, the AOH can also be characterized by other varying parameters, like depth of depletion and by its duration. Nevertheless, Solomon extrapolates the somewhat uncertain geographic trend and boldly estimates that the AOH will seal up and disappear by mid-century.

In the American Geophysical Union journal Earth Future, atmospheric chemist Guy Brasseur and colleagues suggest a faster way to “heal” the AOH – by actively releasing ice particles in the stratosphere to deplete HCl, the main reservoir of stratospheric chlorine. But they do not consider the continued existence of natural sources of chlorine compounds: frequent volcanic injections and possibly also oceanic salt spray carried into the stratosphere by convection. Worse still, they ignore the risks of their proposed geo-engineering scheme – the strong greenhouse effects of their ice particles, which would absorb and then re-emit (albeit at a much lower temperature) most of the outgoing long-wave radiation from earth into space, covering even the normally open atmospheric infrared “window” region (of 8 – 12 microns).

In Clinton vs. Trump, the Overlooked Impact of Asian-Americans Republican nominee tries to court blacks and Hispanics, but another group that leans Democratic gets less attention Gerald Seib

Donald Trump has made overtures in the last few days to Hispanic and African-American voters, trying to whittle away the giant advantages Hillary Clinton enjoys among them.

There is a third group that gets less attention, but one that provides Democrats a similar strategic edge: Asian-Americans.

Asian-Americans are the nation’s fastest-growing racial group. More than nine million of them will be eligible to vote in November, up 16% from four years ago.

The bad news for Republicans is that this growth in the Asian-American electorate appears to be accompanied by an increasing tilt toward the Democrats. One national poll of Asian-American voters earlier this year found a 12-point increase in those who identify as Democrats since 2012, to 47% from 35%.

Can that matter? Ask Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia. He won re-election two years ago by the narrowest of margins, defeating Republican Ed Gillespie by fewer than 18,000 votes out of 2.18 million cast. Virginia’s large population of Asian-Americans likely provided the difference. They make up 5% of the state’s electorate, and a pre-election poll showed them going for Mr. Warner by a 2-to-1 margin.

For Mr. Trump and his party, Asian-Americans are another example of how his get-tough stance on immigration represents a two-edged sword. It has helped galvanize support and drive up enthusiasm among working-class whites, many of whom think immigration has damaged them economically and undermined the American culture they have known. Meanwhile, on the sliding scale of the diverse American electorate, votes gained there are offset by votes lost to groups who hear chants of “build that wall” as an ominous sign.

Mr. Trump and his supporters insist that his policies are directed not at immigration generally but at illegal immigration specifically, but they have had a hard time getting that message across. Over the weekend, his campaign appeared to begin softening its tone; his new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said Mr. Trump wouldn’t necessarily stick with his pledge to seek deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Federal Judge Sets Deadline on Clinton Email Review Order comes as new batch of correspondence shows Clinton Foundation sought access to State Department on donors’ behalf By Rebecca Ballhaus and Devlin Barrett

A federal judge prodded the State Department to quickly review a batch of 14,900 recently discovered emails as the controversy over Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s correspondence while she served as America’s top diplomat continued to simmer.

Judge James Boasberg, in an order, set a deadline for the department to complete the email review by Sept. 22 to determine which ones contain sensitive government information and which are strictly personal conversations. That could pave the way for the emails to be released as early as mid-October.

The emails were found by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during its probe of Mrs. Clinton’s use of private email when she was secretary of state. The FBI concluded in July that no crimes had been committed.

The judge’s request came on the same day as the release of a separate batch of emails showing a Clinton Foundation official seeking access to the department while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state.

Those emails, obtained through a lawsuit by a conservative watchdog group, kept the Clinton family’s charitable foundation in the limelight as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was attacking its activities.

In one email exchange, from June 2009, Doug Band of the Clinton Foundation wrote to Huma Abedin, a top adviser to Mrs. Clinton at the State Department, seeking a meeting between the crown prince of Bahrain and Mrs. Clinton. CONTINUE AT SITE

The New Dictators’ Club An echo of the 1930s in the budding alliance of Russia, Iran, Turkey and China.Bret Stephens

In the fall of 1940 the governments of Japan, Italy and Germany—bitter enemies in World War I—signed the Tripartite Pact, pledging mutual support to “establish and maintain a new order of things” in Europe and Asia. Within five years, 70 million people would be killed in the effort to build, and then destroy, that new order.

The Pact was the culminating act in a series of nonaggression, friendship and neutrality treaties signed by the dictatorships of the day, sometimes to deceive anxious democracies but more often to divvy up the anticipated spoils of conquest. So it’s worth noting our new era of cooperation between dictatorships—and to think about where it could lead.

The era began in July 2015, when Iran’s Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani paid a visit to Moscow to propose a plan to save Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria from collapse. Iran and Russia are not natural allies, even if they have a common client in Damascus. Iranians have bitter memories of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, and the Kremlin has never been fond of Islamists, even of the Shiite variety.

But what tipped the scales in favor of a joint operation was a shared desire to humiliate the U.S. and kick it out of the Middle East. “America’s long-term scheme for the region is detrimental to all nations and countries, particularly Iran and Russia, and it should be thwarted through vigilance and closer interaction,” Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told Vladimir Putin during the Russian’s visit to Tehran last November.

Since then, Tehran has agreed to purchase $8 billion in top-shelf Russian weapons and is seeking Moscow’s help to build another 10 nuclear reactors—useful reminders of how the mullahs are spending their sanctions-relief windfall. The two countries have also conducted joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea. Just last week Russia used Iranian air bases (a little too publicly for Tehran’s taste) to conduct bombing raids on Syria.

All this is happening as the nuclear deal was supposed to be nudging Iran in a more pro-American direction. It’s also happening as Moscow and Ankara are moving toward rapprochement and even a possible alliance, less than a year after the Turks shot down a Russian jet. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim allowed last week that Mr. Assad will remain in power for the foreseeable future, and Russian media outlets are touting the possibility that Russian jets might use the air base at Incirlik to bomb targets in Syria. That all but presumes U.S. withdrawal. CONTINUE AT SITE

Hillary and Bill Clinton, Inc. No other couple in American politics can offer what the Clintons have to sell.By William McGurn

Many Clinton scandals ago, when Hillary Clinton was trying to explain how she’d parlayed a $1,000 stake in cattle futures into $100,000 in 10 months (by talking to other people and reading The Wall Street Journal) folks were skeptical. How, they asked, could a novice make so much money in so short a time in such a risky market?

Turns out Mrs. Clinton is a better learner than she’s given credit for, and the Clinton emails released by Judicial Watch on Monday prove it. The emails were pried out of the system by Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, and they suggest why the Clinton Foundation could be so attractive to the rich and mighty. When a donor had a problem that required the secretary of state’s attention, there was Doug Band—a Clinton Foundation exec—emailing Hillary’s top staffers at the State Department to ask a favor.

Take a June 23, 2009, email from Doug Band to Huma Abedin. In his email Mr. Band noted that the Crown Prince of Bahrain (a “good friend of ours”) was asking to see Mrs. Clinton. There are, of course, many ways to be a “good friend,” but one sure way would be to contribute between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton Foundation, as the kingdom of Bahrain had done. Not to mention that the prince had also spent $32 million on a scholarship launched through the Clinton Global Initiative.

Ms. Abedin responded that the prince had sought a meeting through “normal” channels but had been shot down. Less than 48 hours after Mr. Band had asked her, Ms. Abedin reported that “we have reached out through official channels.” The meeting was on.

It isn’t the only favor Mr. Band requested. A month earlier, he had emailed Ms. Abedin to ask her help in getting an English soccer player a visa to the U.S. The player was supposed to come to Las Vegas for a team celebration, but he needed a special interview with the visa section at the American Embassy in London due to a “criminal charge” against him.

Because of this, the office of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) had refused to intervene. Mr. Band’s email made clear the request was on behalf of Casey Wasserman, a sports and entertainment exec who had contributed between $5 million and $10 million to the Clinton Foundation via the Wasserman Foundation.CONTINUE AT SIT

Clinton’s Colin Powell Excuse As new emails emerge, Hillary’s defense is that the general made her do it.

When Bill and Hillary Clinton get caught for bad behavior, they follow a familiar pattern. First deny, then call it old news, then roll out the attack machine of media and political allies to trash whoever needs to be collateral damage to save them. The private email-Clinton Foundation saga is now in phase three, and no less than Colin Powell has been drafted as roadkill.

The Powell-made-Hillary-do-it defense emerged late last week in two parts. The New York Times reported that FBI interview notes turned over to Congress last week show that Mrs. Clinton told the G-men that Mr. Powell had advised her to use a personal email account. The Times didn’t name its source, but in these cases always ask who benefits from the leak? Answer: Mrs. Clinton.

The Times also reported in the same story that the advance copy of a new book by Joe Conason backs up the blame-it-on-Powell story. Aficionados of Clinton scandals will remember Mr. Conason as the most dedicated stenographer in the Clinton stable.

Mr. Conason has written a biography of Bill Clinton, “Man of the World.” And the Times reports that the book relates a conversation early in Mrs. Clinton’s time at State at a dinner party hosted by Madeleine Albright, another former Secretary of State. Mr. Conason writes that Mr. Powell “told [Mrs. Clinton] to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer.”

Mr. Conason writes that this conversation “confirmed a decision she had made months earlier—to keep her personal account and use it for most messages.” The Times notes that Mr. Conason “interviewed both Mr. and Mrs. Clinton for the book.” Voila, the Clintons are back at their old standby, the everybody-does-it defense.

Mr. Powell’s office released a statement saying he doesn’t recall that dinner conversation. And at a weekend event on Long Island, Mr. Powell told People magazine and the New York Post that Mrs. Clinton “was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.” He added: “Her people have been trying to pin it on me.”

This isn’t the first time Mrs. Clinton has tried the Powell defense. In February she twisted the findings of State Department Inspector General Steve Linnick to claim that Mr. Powell had routinely used private email and was also subject to bogus classification claims. Yet Mr. Powell never set up a private server, and he used State’s classified computer system for classified communications. CONTINUE AT SITE

Turkey’s Exhausting Zigzagging Between East and West by Burak Bekdil

“What is the moral of the story? Until a few weeks ago, the West was comfortably day-dreaming that, despite his foibles, Erdogan was a staunch U.S. ally and an eager EU candidate. After all, had he not, only recently, downed a Russian jet? Then, suddenly, what do we see? Putin and Erdogan kissing and making up …” — Fuad Kavur, London.

Turkey has been a republic since 1923, a multi-party democracy since 1946, and a member of NATO since 1952. In 1987, it added another powerful anchor into the Western bay where it wanted it to remain docked: It applied for full membership in the European Union (EU). This imperfect journey toward the West was dramatically replaced by a directionless cruise, with sharp zigzags between the East and West, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist AKP party came to power in 2002. Zigzagging remains the main Turkish policy feature even at this day.

Until the summer of 2015 Turkey was widely known as the “jihad highway,” because of its systematic tolerance for jihadists crossing through Turkey into neighboring Syria to fight Erdogan’s regional nemesis, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Turkey supported various jihadist groups in the hope that they would help Ankara unseat Assad. Then, under pressure from its NATO allies, it decided to join the U.S.-led, international campaign to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria. Feeling betrayed, ISIS started to blow up Turkish cities.

At the end of 2015, Turkey risked tensions with Russia in order to advance its pro-Sunni Islamist agenda in Syria. Russia, together with Iran, provided the lifeline Assad needed to stay in power while Turkey stepped up its anti-Assad campaign. In November, Turkey once again zigzagged toward the West when it shot down a Russian military aircraft, citing the violation of its airspace along its border with Syria. Turkey also threatened to shoot down any Russian aircraft that might violate its airspace again. It was the first time in modern history that a NATO ally had shot down a Soviet or Russian military airplane.

UK: Clerics Who Threaten Reformers and Praise Murderers by Douglas Murray

Anjem Choudary has gone to jail. He was the most visible part of the problem. But he was not the greatest or deepest problem in this area. That problem is shown when two extremist clerics with pre-medieval views come to Britain they are welcomed by an ignorant British establishment.

“These people teach murder and hate. For me personally I find it sad that a country like England would allow cowards like these men in. Why are they allowing people [in] that give fuel to the fire they are fighting against?” — Shahbaz Taseer, the son of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who was murdered for opposing Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

“They have got hundreds of thousands of followers in the UK,” the imam of the Madina Mosque and Islamic Centre in Oldham, Zahoor Chishti, said of the two clerics.

The conviction of radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary — the most prominent extremist in Britain — has been widely welcomed in the UK. For years his followers and he have infuriated the vast majority of the British public (including most British Muslims) with their inflammatory and hate-filled rhetoric. They have also provided a constant stream of people willing to follow through the words with actions. More people around Choudary have been convicted of terrorism offences in the UK than any other Islamist group — including al-Qaeda.

But Choudary’s conviction for encouraging people to join ISIS should not be greeted as though that is the end of a matter.

Hamas, Palestinian Authority Target Journalists Ahead of Election by Khaled Abu Toameh

Both of the journalists who were arrested made the mistake of reporting on the suffering of Palestinians living under Hamas rule. These are not the kind of stories that Hamas wishes to see ahead of the local and municipal elections. Rather, Hamas wants to see printed lies of prosperity.

It is a puzzle why foreign journalists choose not to report about the campaign of intimidation facing their Palestinian colleagues.

One might wonder if the human rights groups neglect these abuses because of their continued obsession with destroying Israel.

Palestinian journalists are at the top of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas hit-list in the crackdown occurring alongside preparations for the Palestinian local and municipal elections, scheduled for October 8.

The crackdown is part of an ongoing campaign by the two rival parties to silence critics in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Neither Hamas nor the PA tolerates a free and independent media — especially on the eve of a crucial election that could have far-reaching political implications in the Palestinian arena.

A Hamas victory in the upcoming elections would be catastrophic for President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority. Such an electoral outcome would be tantamount to a vote of no-confidence in their policies and performance.

Hamas, for its part, is investing a huge amount of resources in the election campaign, in hopes that the results would further boost its standing among Palestinians. Hamas fears that a defeat would undermine its power in the Gaza Strip and pave the way for its collapse.

As the election campaign heats up, it is clear that Hamas and the PA agree on one thing: intensifying their repressive measures against Palestinian journalists.

This media crackdown is essentially ignored by international human rights organizations. Why? One reason is that when Israel is not involved, assaults on freedom of the media and expression do not interest them.

How Donald Trump Could Fix the Middle East BY David P. Goldman

The first step to finding a solution is to know that there’s a problem. Donald Trump understandsthat the Washington foreign-policy established caused the whole Middle Eastern mess. I will review the problem and speculate about what a Trump administration might do about it.

For the thousand years before 2007, when the Bush administration hand-picked Nouri al-Maliki to head Iraq’s first Shia-dominated government, Sunni Muslims had ruled Iraq. Maliki was vetted both by the CIA and by the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

With Iraq in the hands of an Iranian ally, the Sunnis–disarmed and marginalized by the dismissal of the Iraqi army–were caught between pro-Iranian regimes in both Iraq and Syria. Maliki, as Ken Silverstein reports in the New Republic, ran one of history’s most corrupt regimes, demanding among other things a 45% cut in foreign investment in Iraq. The Sunnis had no state to protect them, and it was a matter of simple logic that a Sunni leader eventually would propose a new state including the Sunni regions of Syria as well as Iraq. Sadly, the mantel of Sunni statehood fell to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who projected not only an Islamic State but a new Caliphate as well. America had a dozen opportunities to preempt this but failed to do so.