For one thing, a large portion of the area burning is not forest. Trump probably has in mind how a century of putting out wildfires in the American west has caused forests to grow dense with trees, making large, hot fires more common than they once were. This is not the predominant cause, however, of the fires currently making the news. To comprehend what is currently taking place in California, you have to comprehend how it has historically burned – and the vast changes now occurring across the landscape.
The US president, who had flown in to the French capital on Friday, had been due to visit the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery yesterdayon Saturday, where American and French troops repelled the Germans in 1918, but called it off because of the rain. Advertisement That sparked incredulity among some of Trump’s critics: Nicholas Soames, the Conservative MP and grandson of Sir Winston Churchill, tweeted: “They died with their face to the foe and that pathetic inadequate @realDonaldTrump couldn’t even defy the weather to pay his respects to The Fallen #hesnotfittorepresenthisgreatcountry.” The US political commentator David Frum tweeted: “It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary – and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.”
The Defense Department’s fiscal 2019 budget had already carved out funds for fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, continuing the endless war in Afghanistan and preparing for a potential conflict with a foreign nation, such as China, Russia, North Korea or Iran. There has been no money set aside to combat the men, women and children who are bound for the American border, many of them fleeing violence or corruption, nearly all seeking better lives. The troops are tasked with the same types of logistical, support and even clerical jobs that National Guard soldiers sent to the border earlier this year are already doing. The military’s morale issue is almost as worrisome. The deployment orders last until Dec. 15, meaning the troops will be on the border over Thanksgiving. They will have little to do beyond providing logistical support, unless Mr. Trump declares martial law. The troops will not be enforcing United States immigration law — that would run afoul of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, unless a special exception is made.
Late last week, about 60 percent of the conversation was driven by likely bots. Over the weekend, even as the conversation about the caravan was overshadowed by more recent tragedies, bots were still driving nearly 40 percent of the caravan conversation on Twitter. That’s according to an assessment by Robhat Labs, a startup founded by two UC Berkeley students that builds tools to detect bots online. The team’s first product, a Chrome extension called BotCheck.me, allows users to see which accounts in their Twitter timelines are most likely bots. Now it’s launching a new tool aimed at news organizations called FactCheck.me, which allows journalists to see how much bot activity there is across an entire topic or hashtag.
When searching for the various employees who list their employment as SureFire Intelligence, nearly all of them use stolen profile photographs. In particular, many of these photographs use the sepia-toned filter that was likely used to disrupt reverse image search algorithms. Their “Tel Aviv Station Chief” uses a photograph of Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli.
Two weeks ago, Sayoc threatened a former Democratic congressional spokeswoman on Twitter after her appearance on Fox News. The tweet warned her to “hug your loved ones real close every time you leave” home. The woman, Rochelle Ritchie, reported him to Twitter, but the company found he had not violated any conduct rules.
The caravan is still thousands of miles from the U.S. but that hasn’t stopped Trump and his friends from declaring a new threat to the U.S. Without citing any evidence, and in complete contradiction of his own Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Trump this week claimed that ISIS and other terrorist groups have embedded themselves within the caravan, adding that “Middle Easterners” were mixed in among the refugees. No evidence exists to support that claim, and, when pressed for proof of his claims by a reporter, Trump finally admitted “there is no proof of anything”.
Those who sat and did nothing might also reflect. One man, David Lawrence, filmed the abuse and posted on social media. Good for him. That is why the case became a cause celebre. But others sat by – keener to get home perhaps than to stand up for an elderly woman being racially abused. They also owed her the duty of care we all owe each other, not least the vulnerable. If we lose sight of that, all is lost.
Threatening to kill or rape someone shouldn’t be banal. It should shock everyone who comes across such a threat. And that should go without saying, except that increasingly it doesn’t, not in a world where the president has said that he longed for the days when disruptive protesters were carried away from the scene “on a stretcher.” It’s perversely heartening to see that the apparent murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi seems to have temporarily interrupted business as usual. Such shock and outrage is crucial, because in a world where dissenters are dismembered, there’s no hope for change. The prospect that you’ll be killed for what you say makes discussion essentially impossible. A society in which critics fear death is a society with fewer critics, and hence with fewer chances for change.
Why did Bin Salman and his officials wait almost two weeks before admitting Khashoggi was dead, if his killing was not deliberate? Why all those staunch denials of involvement and the repeated, on-the-record assertions that Khashoggi had left the consulate unscathed, if they knew all along that he had died? Why has Khashoggi’s body disappeared? If his death was an unintended accident, why was an ambulance not called and the police informed? The Saudi statements offer no clue as to where Khashoggi’s remains may be now. Turkish assertions that he was dismembered, smuggled out of the building in suitcases and buried in a forest near Istanbul will now be more widely accepted.