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Activists hope upcoming defence bill could alert Trump to climate change’s threat to national security

As Congress returns from recess, a major piece of defence legislation is up for consideration that could prove to be invaluable for those looking to the US to fight climate change1. The annual National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA2), which specifies defence spending as well as foreign policy goals, will be debated in the Senate and the fact it normally gets bipartisan support means it becomes a lightning rod for different policies . This year, one of the amendments – if it is voted through – calls on the Pentagon to produce a report on the security risks posed by climate change. It will now be up to the Senate to pass the act with or without the Langevin amendment – but if it passes the signal it sends will be at odds with those put out by the Trump adminsitration up unil now.

Debate had been opened on the bill prior to the recess, however it was the same day as a crucial vote on the Republican replacement for Obamacare3 and debate quickly shifted back to healthcare on the Senate floor.

Donald Trump4 has begun the formal process to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on climate change, a global accord signed by nearly 200 countries to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and help poorer countries adjust to an already-changed planet. The move was criticised by several countries leaders and in response nearly a thousand CEOs and American mayors vowed to keep fighting climate change, even without the federal government s help. At the same time, Mr Trump also increased the US defence budget and recently requested a troop surge for Afghanistan while proposing dramatic cuts to diplomatic functions at the State Department.

These may seem like unrelated issues but as Francesco Femia, President of the Washington-based Center for Climate and Security, reminded The Independent: the Pentagon has, since at least as far back as 2003, taken climate change seriously. At least four of Mr Trump s top military counsel: Defence Secretary James Mattis5, Assistant Defence Secretary Lucian Niemeyer, Secretary of the Navy Richard V Spencer, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva have all reaffirmed the connection, according to Mr Femia. Even the 2014 Quadrennial Defence Review, done ahead of the December 2015 Paris Agreement6, stated that climate change will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental, political instability, and social tensions conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.

However, the Trump administration s seemingly conflicting policies makes it appear as if it does not see the connection . In the latest draft of the NDAA however, there is hope that Congress does. In June 2017, the House voted in the Langevin Amendment to the NDAA in what Mr Femia called the most significant bipartisan action on climate change in about a decade. The Amendment, named after Congressman Jim Langevin of the Armed Services Committee, would require the Defence Secretary to provide a report to Congress detailing ten military bases or installations in each service that are facing a threat from climate change within the next 20 years- specifically sea level rise, erosion, drought, increased frequency of natural disasters.

If passed in the Senate it would also require a discussion of the climate-change related effects…including the increase in the frequency of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and the theatre campaign plans, contingency plans . France trolls Trump by annotating White House video about the Paris Agreement

Ohio University Professor Geoff Dabelko told the Wilson Center s New Security Beat blog that the bipartisan support garnered by the Langevin amendment7 is just the first step in a process to heal the political divide on climate change.

The security community does not have the luxury to add or drop threats to security when control of Congress or the White House changes hands, he noted. He explained, however, that this the exact opposite of what the Trump administration has been demonstrating the last seven months.

Part of the criticism of the Langevin amendment was that focusing on climate change – the vast body of science which even Mr Trump s head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry have called into question – would detract from national security properties. As Representative Liz Cheney – daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney – said during the House floor debate: There is no evidence that climate change causes war…North Korea is not developing nuclear tipped ICBMs because the climate s changing . ISIS and al Qaeda are not attacking the West because of the weather.

However, that may not be entirely true though academic researchers8 are still arguing over this climate-conflict connection – particularly when it concerns the sequence of drought, food insecurity, migration, and an outbreak of conflict over more scarce resources. Republican Representative Scott Perry tried and failed to pass an amendment that essentially said enough federal agencies address climate change that the Defence Department should not be concerned with it. Several of his party colleagues noted however that the Langevin Amendment is simply a report and information about potential threats is not detrimental.

Neil Bhatiya, a researcher at the Center for a New American Security, also argued against Ms Cheney and Mr Perry s statements when it comes to focusing on one type of security threat. He told The Independent that the military establishment is capable of both responding to immediate threats like Isis, the Taliban, and North Korea while simultaneously preparing for future threats like social and political instability arising from climate change impacts. Mr Bhatiya said that though anything is possible in this political climate, he feels there are more pressing political issues that are far more controversial surrounding this year s NDAA that the climate change amendment will be safe from being taken out of a Senate draft.

Given Mr Trump s proposed cuts to the US Coast Guard9, the maritime security agency which is also tasked with ocean preservation, some experts fear it could still be part of the debate. Mr Trump has repeatedly expressed his commitment to the US coal and manufacturing industries, specifically the workers in those fields. Coupled with messaging that addressing climate change would have a negative economic impact and several EPA and State Department scientific advisors resigning or being pushed out – political pressure to not include the Langevin amendment or similar language on climate change could mount.

It had done so in the most recent iteration of the healthcare debate, with many Republican Senators initially speaking out against the Trump administration. However, save for a few, they fell into party line and voted with Mr Trump. One saving grace may be the deteriorated relationship between Senators Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsay Graham, and Jeff Flake – all of whom have been on the receiving end of Mr Trump s public, Twitter and private ire according to reports.

The fact that Chief of Staff John Kelly has been involved in previous Defence Department efforts to understand climate impacts as the former Commander-in-Chief of Southern Command may ultimately be encouraging on the front, as well Mr Bhatiya said.

Of course, even with Mr Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson10 s previous comments regarding the need to address climate change, Mr Trump still withdrew the US from the Paris accord. Mr Femia pointed out that the report required by the Langevin Amendment would also highlight how the civilian communities – both in the US and abroad – are affected by climate change, a selling point for some Senators.

If this Administration is serious about improving American infrastructure, and supporting our military, it will have to be serious about the climate resilience of that infrastructure which is not limited to just military bases, Mr Femia said. For the time being, Mr Trump and his surrogates have yet to confirm whether the President actually believes in climate change, a separate issue from whether he thinks federal funding should address the problem.

Activists Hope Upcoming Defence Bill Could Alert Trump To Climate Change's Threat To National SecurityReuse content11

References

  1. ^ climate change (www.independent.co.uk)
  2. ^ NDAA (www.govtrack.us)
  3. ^ Obamacare (www.independent.co.uk)
  4. ^ Donald Trump (www.independent.co.uk)
  5. ^ James Mattis (www.independent.co.uk)
  6. ^ Paris Agreement (www.independent.co.uk)
  7. ^ Langevin amendment (www.newsecuritybeat.org)
  8. ^ academic researchers (arstechnica.com)
  9. ^ cuts to the US Coast Guard (www.independent.co.uk)
  10. ^ Rex Tillerson (www.independent.co.uk)
  11. ^ Reuse content (www.independent.co.uk)

Antifa: US security agencies label group ‘domestic terrorists’

US security officials have classified the left-wing group Antifa as “domestic terrorists”, confidential documents have revealed. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has reportedly been warning about the growing threat of violence between left-wing anarchists and right-wing nationalists since 2016, amid claims Antifa’s activity has become more confrontational, according to documents seen by Politico1. A confidential intelligence report by the DHS and the FBI accused the “anarchist extremists” of attacks on police, government and political institutions, along with any other symbols of the “capitalist system” or displays of racism, social injustice or fascism.

It described some of their activities as “domestic terrorist violence”. Antifa, shorthand for anti-fascist organisations, refers to a loose coalition of decentralised, grassroots groups opposed to the many guises of the extreme right. The group has come under growing scrutiny in the past weeks after Donald Trump blamed the “alt-left” for the deadly violence between white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville2, Virginia.

But law enforcement officials said that the US President helped spur the backlash through his own divisive rhetoric.

It was in that period as the Trump campaign emerged that we really became aware of them, one senior law enforcement official said.

These antifa guys were showing up with weapons, shields and bike helmets and just beating the shit out of people .. . they re using Molotov cocktails, they re starting fires, they re throwing bombs and smashing windows. Officials are now warning of an escalation of violence as white supremacist and far-right groups grow stronger and more militant.

Everybody is wondering, ‘What are we gonna do ? How are we gonna deal with this?’ said the senior state law enforcement official.

Every time they have one of these protests where both sides are bringing guns, there are sphincters tightening in my world . Emotions get high, and fingers get twitchy on the trigger.

In their April 2016 assessment, the DHS and FBI said the Antifa could become more dangerous if fascist, nationalist, racist or anti-immigrant parties obtain greater prominence or local political power in the United States, leading to anti-racist violent backlash from anarchist extremists . The comes as close to 350,000 people signed a petition calling on Mr Trump3 to formally recognise anti-fascists as terrorists. The petition, which was created following the Virginia violence, urged the federal government to declare Antifa a terror group out of principle, integrity, morality and safety .

Mr Trump came under heavy criticism after he claimed there had been violence on both sides in the wake of the rally, which left one person dead after a white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a group of counter-protesters.

Antifa: US Security Agencies Label Group 'domestic Terrorists'Reuse content4

References

  1. ^ Politico (www.politico.com)
  2. ^ white supremacists and counter protesters in Charlottesville (www.independent.co.uk)
  3. ^ 350,000 people signed a petition calling on Mr Trump (www.independent.co.uk)
  4. ^ Reuse content (www.independent.co.uk)

Man flies to Germany on girlfriend’s passport as airport security fail to spot the difference

  • 1/58 27 August 2017

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  • 2/58 26 August 2017

    Eight people have died in a crash involving a minibus and two lorries on the M1 near Milton Keynes . All of those who died are believed to have been travelling in the minibus, which was from the Nottingham area . The two lorry drivers have been arrested, one of them on suspicion of driving while over the alcohol limit. Alamy

  • 3/58 25 August 2017

    A Science Museum employee poses next to the Wells Cathedral Clock mechanism during a photocall at the Science Museum in London, England .

    The Wells Cathedral Clock mechanism is believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Getty Images

  • 4/58 24 August 2017

    Lavlyn Mendoza (left) and Jennifer Quila celebrate after collecting their GCSE results, at Sion-Manning Roman Catholic Girls school in west London

    Ben Stevens/PA Wire

  • 5/58 24 August 2017

    Reverend Andrew Poppe takes part in cricket match on the Brambles sandbank at low tide on August 24, 2017 in Hamble, England . The annual event sees Hamble’s Royal Southern Yacht Club team take on the Cowes-based Island Sailing Club in a game of cricket . Spectators from the Isle of White and Southampton travel on boats to watch the match which lasts for around 45 minutes while the sandbank is exposed

    Jack Taylor/Getty Images

  • 6/58 21 August 2017

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    Getty Images

  • 7/58 20 August 2017

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    PA

  • 8/58 19 August 2017

    Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage poses for photographs with veterans and Chelsea Pensioners next to a Spitfire on display at the Biggin Hill Festival of Flight in Biggin Hill, England . The Biggin Hill Festival of Flight is an annual airshow event and in 2017 the airport is celebrating its centenary . The airport only became exclusively business and general aviation in 1959, prior to which it was used by the British Royal Air Force. Getty

  • 9/58 18 August 2017

    The Isle of Skye is known as one of the most beautiful places in Scotland, however its infrastructure services are being stretched to the limit by the number of visitors heading there to enjoy its rugged scenic beauty. Getty Images

  • 10/58 17 August 2017

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    The judge dismissed both cases . Same-sex marriage is recognised in the rest of the United Kingdom but not in Northern Ireland were the largest political party, the DUP has blocked proposed legislation . Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close, the first women to have a civil partnership in the UK and Henry Edmond Kane and Christopher Patrick Flanagan were challenging the NI Assembly’s repeated refusal to legislate for same sex marriage. Getty

  • 11/58 16 August 2017

    Ratings line the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK’s newest aircraft carrier, as she arrives in Portsmouth . The 65,000-tonne carrier, the largest warship ever to be built in Britain, is expected to be the Navy’s flagship for at least 50 years.

    PA

  • 12/58 15 August 2017

    People watch a bonfire in the bogside area of Londonderry, which is traditionally torched on August 15 to mark a Catholic feast day celebrating the assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven, but in modern times the fire has become a source of contention and associated with anti-social behaviour. PA

  • 13/58 14 August 2017

    An artist s impression showing the proposed London Garden Bridge . The 200m plan to build a bridge covered with trees over the River Thames in central London has been abandoned . The Garden Bridge Trust said it had failed to raise funds since losing the support of the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan in April

    EPA

  • 14/58 13 August 2017

    Sir Mo Farah stands at the top of the Coca-Cola London Eye as he bids a final farewell to British track athletics after winning gold in the 10,000m and silver in the 5,000m at the IAAF World Championships in his home city

    PA

  • 15/58 12 August 2017

    A dog retrieves a shot grouse on Lofthouse Moor in North Yorkshire as the Glorious 12th, the official start of the grouse shooting season, gets underway.Grouse moor estates received millions of pounds in subsidies last year, according to analysis which comes amid a debate over the future of farming payments after Brexit

    PA

  • 16/58 11 August 2017

    Hot air balloons in the air after taking off in a mass ascent at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. PA

  • 17/58 11 August 2017

    The scene in Rosslyn Avenue, Sunderland, after an explosion at a house.

    PA

  • 18/58 10 August 2017

    Police on Goose Lane bridge which goes over the M11 motorway near Birchanger which is closed after a van driver was killed in a motorway crash after what “appears to be a lump of concrete” struck his windscreen and his vehicle hit a tree. PA

  • 19/58 10 August 2017

    Emergency services at the scene in Lavender Hill, southwest London, after a bus left the road and hit a shop. PA

  • 20/58 9 August 2017

    Guards march up to Windsor Castle in the rain as a yellow weather warning for rain has been issued for parts of the UK .

    Heavy rain has brought flooding to the north-east of England

    PA Wire

  • 21/58 8 August 2017

    A car on fire in the North Queen Street area of Belfast, close to the site of a contentious bonfire . The car was torched shortly after 10pm on Monday night

    PA Wire

  • 22/58 7 August 2017

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    Reuters

  • 23/58 6 August 2017

    Acts gather amongst the crowds at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. PA

  • 24/58 5 August 2017

    New world 100m champion Justin Gatlin pays respect to Usain Bolt after the Jamaican s last solo race

    Reuters

  • 25/58 5 August 2017

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson of Great Britain (Lane 6) and Carolin Schafer of Germany (Lane 7) and their opponants compete in the Women’s Heptathlon 100 metres hurdles during day two of the 16th IAAF World Athletics Championships London 2017 at The London Stadium. Getty Images

  • 26/58 5 August 2017

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is greeted by PSNI and Garda police officers representative of the gay community as he attends a Belfast Gay Pride breakfast meeting in Belfast, Northern Ireland . The Irish Prime Minister is on a two day visit to the province having already met with DUP leader Arlene Foster yesterday .

    The DUP, Northern Ireland’s largest political party have so far blocked attempts to legalise gay marriage. Getty Images

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    Members of Unite employed by Serco at Barts Health NHS Trust, on strike over pay, protest outside Serco’s presentation of financial results at JP Morgan, in London. PA

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    Athletics – IAAF World Athletics Championships Preview – London, Britain – August 3, 2017 Great Britain’s Mo Farah takes a photo in the stadium

    Reuters

  • 29/58 3 August 2017

    Britain’s Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, addresses journalists during a press conference to deliver the quarterly inflation report in London, August 3, 2017 . REUTERS

    Reuters

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    Bank of England and British Airways workers stage a protest outside the Bank of England in the City of London.

    PA

  • 31/58 2 August 2017

    Britain’s Prince Philip, in his role as Captain General, Royal Marines, attends a Parade to mark the finale of the 1664 Global Challenge, on the Buckingham Palace Forecourt, in central London, Britain.The 96-year-old husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, made his final solo appearance at the official engagement on Wednesday, before retiring from active public life. REUTERS

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    AFP/Getty Images

  • 33/58 30 July 2017

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  • 34/58 29 July 2017

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    PA

  • 35/58 28 July 2017

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    Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

  • 36/58 27 July 2017

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    Carl Court/Getty Images

  • 37/58 27 July 2017

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    Jack Taylor/Getty Images

  • 38/58 26 July 2017

    Connie Yates, mother of terminally-ill 11-month-old Charlie Gard, arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on where a High Court judge is set to decide where baby Charlie Gard will end his life

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  • 39/58 26 July 2017

    UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson gestures while posing for a photograph at the Sydney Opera House, in Sydney . Johnson is there to attend AUKMIN, the annual meeting of UK and Australian Foreign and Defence Ministers. Dan Himbrechts

  • 40/58 25 July 2017

    Britain Prime Minister Theresa May walks with her husband Philip in Desenzano del Garda, by the Garda lake, as they holiday in northern Italy

    Antonio Calanni/AFP

  • 41/58 23 July 2017

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    Adrian Dennis/AFP

  • 42/58 23 July 2017

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  • 43/58 22 July 2017

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    AP

  • 44/58 22 July 2017

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  • 45/58 21 July 2017

    Environment Secretary Michael Gove looks at screens in the information pod in the forest zone at the WWF Living Planet Centre in Woking, after he told an audience of environmental and countryside organisations that Brexit gives scope for Britain to be a global leader in green policy

    PA

  • 46/58 21 July 2017

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  • 47/58 20 July 2017

    Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon shows off his cufflinks after cutting steel on the first Type 26 frigate at BAE System’s Govan Shipyard near Glasgow.

    PA

  • 48/58 20 July 2017

    Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson looks at a bipedal humanoid robot Wabian2 at Research Institute for Science and Engineering at Waseda University’s Kikuicho Campus in Tokyo

    Reuters/Eugene Hoshiko/Pool

  • 49/58 19 July 2017

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  • 50/58 19 July 2017

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    PA

  • 51/58 18 July 2017

    Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during her visit to the site of Aberdeen Harbour’s expansion into Nigg Bay

    Getty Images

  • 52/58 18 July 2017

    Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives at Downing Street for the weekly cabinet meeting

    Getty Images

  • 53/58 17 July 2017

    Daniel Goodfellow and Tom Daley of Great Britain compete during the Men’s Diving 10M Synchro Platform, preliminary round on day four of the Budapest 2017 FINA World Championships on July 17, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary

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  • 54/58 17 July 2017

    Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson speaks to the press upon his arrival at the European Council for the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels

    Aurore Belot/AFP/Getty Images

  • 55/58 16 July 2017

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    AFP/Getty Images

  • 56/58 15 July 2017

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  • 57/58 14 July 2017

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    Hundreds of people lined the streets to pay their respects to the Sunderland football supporter who lost his battle with cancer last Friday.

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  • 58/58 13 July 2017

    The EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, right, receives an Arsenal football top from Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn prior to a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels

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