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 11 
 on: Today at 07:40 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
All,

After we have finished up with Chloe and Shaw I have been thinking of continuing this thread on skipped steps.

My idea, and thus question to all of you, is to look at the birth chart of Putin because it has a strong skipped step signature(s). Given this point in time in our collective reality of the planet I thought this may be very interesting and relevant to do. We could even examine, at some point, the relationship between him and Trump.

So let me know your thoughts on this possibility.

God Bless, Rad

 12 
 on: Today at 07:37 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi Upasika,

Yes, we can wait. So please go ahead.

God Bless, Rad

 13 
 on: Today at 07:36 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi Tashi,

First, thanks for taking the time to contribute to this segment for Shaw and Chloe relative to their composite chart.

There is no way of knowing at this point whether or not they will as a unite, together, investigate or learn something like EA, or any other specific form or knowledge. They are simply to young at this point to know about such future choices.

The real core of their relationship together, the resolution of the skipped steps, is to learn how to objectify each other individual reality so as to know one another, within the context of their relationship, as each actually is versus the projections that have come before. In this way they not only become FRIENDS, Uranus on the composite N.Node, the polarity point of Pluto, but they the also are learning together how to listen to  one another, to actually hear each others individual realities, and thus learning how to give and receive from one another in the context their relationship what each actually needs versus projecting upon one another what each thinks the other needs.

Thus,  this core correlates to the adjustments and improvements in their relationship together that the mother is a driving force for at this point in time.

You asked:

"Neptune ( and Juno ) as the finger of this yod, ruling the 8h NONODE Uranus conjunction hopefully points to a spiritual understanding through their join application and commitment ( Juno) to looking at the big picture of their interdependence ( Neptune ) and does the opposition means they can find a new platform for both their value systems and their talent?

A 'spiritual' understanding is not necessary for them to understand together the objective reality of each other in the context of their relationship. Talking and listening together with the intent to really hear one another as each actually is will suffice for them to do this. In  that way they can help each other understand the individual possibilities that correlate to a new platform for their individual value systems and talents.

Thanks for your effort Tashi.

God Bless, Rad

 14 
 on: Today at 07:17 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Israel reveals plans for nearly 600 settlement homes in East Jerusalem

Announcement comes just two days after inauguration of Donald Trump, who has promised more pro-Israel policies

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
Guardian
23 January 2017 14.07 GMT

Israel has announced plans to build almost 600 new settlement homes in occupied East Jerusalem, just two days after Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president, with officials stating the “rules of the game have changed”.

The announcement by the Jerusalem municipality came as Israeli officials appeared emboldened by the new Trump administration, which has made clear its policies will be far more pro-Israel and settlements than Barack Obama’s.

Senior Palestinian officials immediately condemned the plans. They fear a Trump presidency could signal the death knell for their hopes of their own state as well as the end of the Oslo peace process.

The announcement came as Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said he would hold his first conversation with Trump as president by telephone on Sunday.

“Many matters face us: the Israeli-Palestinian issue, the situation in Syria, the Iranian threat,” he said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.

Before the phone call, Netanyahu reportedly told his ministers that he would tell Trump he was willing to give Palestinians a “state minus” – suggesting a level of autonomy short of statehood.

The plans announced on Sunday had been on hold during the final months of the Obama administration, which had condemned each new announcement of settlement planning or construction as an obstacle to peace and the two-state solution.

A UN security council resolution demanding a halt to all Israeli settlements in the occupied territories passed in December after the Obama administration refused to veto it.

There are 430,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank and 200,000 Israelis in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state, in settlements long regarded by the international community as illegal.

Making clear that the approval of plans was linked to the arrival of the new administration in Washington, Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, said: “We’ve been through eight tough years with Obama pressuring to freeze construction.

“Although the Jerusalem municipality has not frozen plans, many times we did not get government approval because of American pressure. I hope that era is over and we now we can build and develop Jerusalem for the welfare of its residents, Jews and Arabs alike.”

Meir Turgeman, the city’s deputy mayor and chair of the planning and building committee, told Israel Radio that the permits had been held up until the end of the Obama administration.

“The rules of the game have changed with Donald Trump’s arrival as president,” he said. “We no longer have our hands tied as in the time of Barack Obama. Now we can finally build.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the plans and called on the UN to take action, particularly in light of the recent resolution. “It is time to stop dealing with Israel as a state above the law,” he said.

US administrations have traditionally condemned all Israeli settlement plans as counterproductive.

The speed of the developments since Trump’s inauguration – which many fear could increase tension and lead to new violence between Israelis and Palestinians – suggests a fundamental rewriting of the dynamic between Israel, Palestinians and Washington, which has long been seen as the key guarantor of the peace process.

It came, too, as Trump’s controversial pick for US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman – a pro-settlement hardliner – has reportedly insisted that he intends to live and work in Jerusalem not Tel Aviv, representing another potential flashpoint if the US embassy was to move. Any decision to break with the status quo is likely to prompt protests from US allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

The White House said on Sunday that it was only in the early stages of talks to fulfil Trump’s campaign pledge. “We are at the very beginning stages of even discussing this subject,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement.

The Israeli government is still contemplating how best to move forward in the early days of the Trump administration, with some calling for immediate action given Trump’s perceived acquiescence and others calling for patience to work out a joint plan.

Israeli hardliners have been emboldened by Trump’s election. The pro-settler Jewish Home party, a key member of the coalition, is pushing the government to support legislation that would annex Maale Adumim, a large settlement just outside Jerusalem.

Netanyahu announced on Sunday he was delaying the vote. A Jewish Home official said Netanyahu has pushed the party to put the legislation on hold, citing pressure from Trump not to do anything hasty.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the party was skeptical that Trump was really intervening. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss internal coalition deliberations with the media.

 15 
 on: Today at 07:15 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
USA

Pig Trump's team defends 'alternative facts' after widespread protests

    President and advisers push falsehoods about inauguration attendance
    Secretary of state pick backed by key Republican senators

Jon Swaine
Guardian
Monday 23 January 2017 10.25 GMT

Donald Trump began his first full week as US president firmly on the defensive, after millions of Americans took to the streets to protest against his election and the White House came under fire for brazenly lying to the public.

Rattled by the nation’s biggest political demonstrations since the Vietnam war, Trump and his aides spent an extraordinary first weekend in office falsely claiming that record numbers of people had attended his swearing-in on Friday.

Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, used his first White House briefing to shout at journalists about what he incorrectly termed “deliberately false reporting” on Trump’s inauguration, declaring: “We’re going to hold the press accountable.”

“This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period,” said Spicer, in one of several statements contradicted by photographs and transit data. “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”

Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House aide, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday Spicer had merely been offering “alternative facts”, a phrase that was received with widespread astonishment.

Their remarks followed an estimated 2.6 million people in cities across the US attending “women’s march” protests against Trump, who is accused of sexually harassing and assaulting more than a dozen women and was recorded boasting about groping women by the crotch.

As many as a million people were estimated to have flooded the streets of Washington DC for the day’s main march. Hundreds of thousands more protested in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston and in capitals across the world, including London.

The total was far greater than had been anticipated and easily exceeded Trump’s inauguration crowd the day before. The Washington Metro system said 1,001,616 trips were taken on Saturday, compared with about 570,000 on Friday.

But the president on Sunday tried to play down the significance of the demonstrations. “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election,” he said on Twitter. “Why didn’t these people vote?”

A later post to Trump’s account said that he recognised the right of people to demonstrate.

Trump was earlier sharply criticised for delivering a campaign-style speech in front of a memorial to fallen CIA officers. Saying he was at “war with the media”, Trump called accurate news reports about his inaugural crowd being smaller than Barack Obama’s “a lie”.

John Brennan, the outgoing CIA director, said Trump’s remarks were a “despicable display of self-aggrandisement” that left him “deeply saddened and angered”.

“Trump should be ashamed of himself,” Brennan said in a statement.

While the topic of the inauguration attendance was trivial, that Trump’s team was immediately willing to deny reality from the world’s most powerful office alarmed figures across the political spectrum. Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, also echoed Trump’s false claims in interviews on Sunday.

“If Trump can’t handle the press on crowd size, just wait until they report on the economy, budget and healthcare,” said Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California. “Anything unfavourable he will call a lie.”

The weekend activity cast doubt over speculation that Trump, who repeatedly made wildly false statements during his campaign, would be jolted into more sober and conventional operations by the machinery of government and the gravity of his responsibilities.

Asked on ABC’s This Week whether he had full confidence in Trump, John McCain, the Republican senator and former presidential nominee, replied: “I don’t know.”

Trump also stated falsely during his speech at the CIA on Saturday that reports of a feud between him and US intelligence officials had been invented by journalists, who he said were among “the most dishonest human beings on Earth”.

Only 10 days earlier, Trump had personally likened the US intelligence establishment to Nazi Germany. He also suggested US officials had leaked to the media an explosive and unverified dossier by a former British spy alleging links between Trump and Russia.

Some of Trump’s most loyal supporters in Washington defended the president’s unusual remarks. “You’re going to see more of this,” Devin Nunes, a Republican congressman for California, told CNN’s State of the Union. “He was just having a good time.”

The new administration also received a significant boost on Sunday when McCain and Lindsey Graham, a senator for South Carolina, announced that they would vote for the confirmation of Rex Tillerson, the president’s nominee to be US secretary of state.

Graham and McCain, two of Washington’s most hawkish senators on foreign policy, had earlier suggested the relationship Tillerson cultivated with Moscow while chief executive of the Exxon energy corporation may be reason to block his appointment.

“Though we still have concerns about his past dealings with the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin, we believe that Mr Tillerson can be an effective advocate for US interests,” the senators said in a statement.

The Senate, which must approve a president’s cabinet appointments, is expected this week to approve several nominations by Trump, including Senator Jeff Sessions as attorney general and congressman Mike Pompeoas CIA director.

The new White House, however, remains under pressure on several other fronts. Having promised earlier this month that he would hand control of his property empire to his adult children, Trump has produced no paperwork proving that this was done. Ethics campaigners have said the move would, in any case, not remove Trump’s myriad conflicts of interest.

Ethics lawyers from the Obama and George W Bush White Houses say that Trump is already violating the US constitution by continuing to collect revenues from foreign government officials. Trump has said he will transfer such profits to the US Treasury.

This weekend his son in law, Jared Kushner, was cleared by the justice department to take an advisory role in the White House, despite widespread concerns over the application of a federal nepotism law.

A petition on the White House website for Trump to release his personal tax returns has been signed by more than 200,000 people. Opinion polls show that a majority of Americans want Trump to publish the documents, which he withheld during the campaign in a break with decades of convention.

But aides said that Trump would continue to withhold the returns, which are thought to show that he paid no federal income tax in some years, and may reveal previously undisclosed business activity.

“He’s not going to release his tax returns,” Conway told ABC. “We litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care.”

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Sorry, Kellyanne Conway. 'Alternative facts' are just lies

Jill Abramson

I’ve spent my career being scrupulous about the truth, whether on crowd size or healthcare. I know an attempt to deceive the American public when I see it

Guardain
Monday 23 January 2017 12.29 GMT

I just bought my first official souvenir of the Trump era. No, it wasn’t a pink pussycat hat. It’s a black T-shirt with white typography that says “Alternative Facts are Lies”.

The shirt commemorates a piece of Orwellian newspeak that flew from the lips of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. She made the absurd claim that the new White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, hadn’t lied to reporters about the size of the inaugural crowd, he had merely presented them with “alternative facts.” The salient part of her exchange with host Chuck Todd is worth setting out in full:

Chuck Todd: ... answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood. Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office ...
Donald Trump's first 100 days as president – daily updates
Read more

Kellyanne Conway: No it doesn’t.

Chuck Todd: ... on day one.

Kellyanne Conway: Don’t be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What ... You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point remains ...

Chuck Todd: Wait a minute ... Alternative facts? Alternative facts? Four of the five facts he uttered, the one thing he got right was Zeke Miller. Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true. Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.

By the time Meet the Press aired, I had actually grown tired of the argument over the size of the crowd at Trump’s swearing-in. It’s the kind of trivial issue that catches fire on social media and in the press, something Trump knows better than anyone. In this case, anyone on the internet could see a comparison of the Obama and Trump in photographs and catch the new president in his lie. Nonetheless, obsessive attention to crowd size dominated several news cycles.

The New York Times was right to call out the White House on obvious falsehoods but its big headline was part of the reactive news coverage that Trump gamed throughout his campaign. Through a provocative tweet or gross insult, he could ignite a firestorm on social media and in the press. The timing is always interesting because when these storms blew, it was often to obscure a deeper and more serious menace. All the attention paid to the number of people at the inauguration obscured the import of both the executive order on healthcare he signed on Friday and the huge women’s protests on Saturday.

The farrago Trump has created on healthcare is consequential and shameful. Conway happily presented some “alternative facts” about it in the same television appearance, claiming:

He signed executive orders to stop Obamacare and all of its problems. Many people have lost their ... millions of people have lost their insurance, their doctors, their plans. So that stops right now.

He’s going to replace it with something much more free-market and patient-centric in nature.

It’s hard to imagine offering anything more patient-centric than providing more good health insurance. The Affordable Care Act has driven the number of Americans without insurance to an all-time low. Conway’s claim that “millions of people have lost their insurance” comes directly from specious Koch-funded ads during the campaign. It’s a provable fact that far more people gained coverage than had their policies cancelled. And in the latter cases, some individual market plans were discontinued, but policyholders weren’t denied coverage. They were often offered cheaper alternatives, because many qualified for federal subsidies or could buy new policies with better coverage on state and federal marketplaces.

Repealing Obamacare could deny more than 18 million people health coverage and Republican proposals to replace it are a muddle of insufficiency. Some proposed bills may cover more people but the coverage is skeletal and won’t begin to pay for many procedures. The new secretary of health and human services, Republican Representative Tom Price, has offered a plan in Congress that makes good health care less affordable and less accessible for most people. The health care savings accounts that many Republicans embrace won’t help people who can’t save enough to cover anything approaching catastrophic treatment.

Trump and Conway are playing Three-card Monte with their alternative facts on health; “Condemn the policy you don’t like, propose something far worse as a replacement and claim that it is much better,” as The New York Times described their hypocrisy.

The new president doesn’t seem to understand the actual facts. White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who so viciously attacked the press on Saturday, had to hurriedly walk-back the comments of his boss when Trump, during an interview with The Washington Post before the inauguration, promised “insurance for everybody.” Spicer’s amendment to his comments dragged Trump back to Republican orthodoxy: access to insurance would be increased and costs cut through marketplace competition, not huge new government spending for universal coverage.

When you’ve spent your career being scrupulous about facts, it’s hard to adjust to life in Trump’s post-truth America. Certainly, the press has made its share of mistakes and had serious flirtations with what Steven Colbert labeled “truthiness” during the Bush years, when news organizations, including the Times, published stories based on false intelligence. There were far too many fake news stories in 2016 from sketchy sites. But I agree with Susan Glasser, the editor of Politico, who recently wrote an important essay for the Brookings Institution called Covering Politics in a ‘Post-Truth’ America. She concluded that serious political reporting (not poll prognostications) has never been better. But there is too much of it, and so little of it, even the fine investigations of Trump’s business dealings or past treatment of women, seems to matter to people.

The world, however, does pay attention to the words of the leaders of the last remaining superpower. The “American carnage” President Trump described doesn’t comport with the American reality. We do not live in a country that is economically shattered and crime-infested. Crime rates are historically low and there has been record job growth over the last eight years. His cry of “America First” evokes Charles Lindbergh’s isolationist and anti-Semitic poison, not the inclusive and empathetic beliefs shared by most Americans. Globalism and technology have hollowed out some industries and parts of the country, but an interconnected world has benefited more people than it has hurt.

Most people believe there is truth and there are lies. “Alternative facts” are lies.

**************

CNN panel agrees Sean Spicer can’t be trusted: He already ‘has people comparing him to Baghdad Bob’

Sarah K. Burris
Raw Story
23 Jan 2017 at 09:06 ET                  

If the White House intends to use “alternative facts,” CNN’s Brian Stelter urges the media to shout out the actual facts louder.

In a Monday morning panel on CNN’s “New Day” host Chris Cuomo outright called press secretary Sean Spicer’s numbers about Trump’s crowd size “wrong” and explained that Trump’s White House is now claiming they were given incorrect information.

Media analyst Bill Carter couldn’t believe this was the first thing Trump’s administration chose to do out of the gate.

“I mean he has people comparing him to Baghdad Bob the first day in office, saying, ‘I can’t trust this guy,'” said Carter.

Baghdad Bob is the nickname given to former Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, who intentionally distributed false information and propaganda to boost morale among the Iraq army in the early days of the last Iraq War.

Stelter argued that every press secretary and politician spins but that Spicer’s outright false facts are outside the norm and both Stelter and Carter agreed that it was different.

Stelter cited Spicer’s incorrect title for the leader of another country, false information about the setup of the inauguration and even the weather. The White House claimed that it was sunny “when in fact, it was cloudy at the time,” Stelter said.

“There’s a pattern from the top. From the president and from Sean Spicer, not spinning but having completely misstated the facts,” Stelter explained. “But, listen, he may have had this information from the wrong people, that’s a legitimate issue. But I think that speaks to a bigger a problem about this new administration.”

Carter cited Trump’s speech to the CIA in which Trump alleged that the rift between the CIA and Trump was an invention of the press because they put out actual statements that Trump made about intelligence.

Stelter said that the new White House clearly feels they are under siege and Cuomo noted that it was evidenced by the fact that Spicer refused to take questions.

“This just isn’t a debate,” Cuomo said. “A picture tells a thousand words and they’re all true!”

**********

‘What does that even mean?’: Trump threat to make media pay ‘tremendous price’ baffles CNN analyst

Sarah K. Burris
Raw Story
23 Jan 2017 at 09:38 ET                  

CNN’s political panel on “New Day” began Monday by mocking Donald Trump’s senior advisors for “lying to Americans” and excusing it with the phrase “alternative facts.” Political analyst David Gregory was shocked by threats made by the new president.

Gregory suggested that if the press is going to be undermined by Trump press secretary Sean Spicer, then they simply shouldn’t show up. The Trump administration has tried to find ways to get rid of the press, however, and put them further away from the White House.

“This will be a big showdown between the press secretary and the White House press core and the wider media for no reason whatsoever,” Gregory said about Spicer and the president harming the White House’s credibility. “What they’re not talking about is the president’s agenda. That’s what matters.”

Gregory cited the Wall Street Journal’s article calling out Trump’s CIA speech in which he said he was in a war with the media and that the media would “pay a tremendous price for it.”

“What does that mean?” Gregory wondered, urging Trump to focus on fixing the country’s problems.

Host Chris Cuomo wondered how Trump could stand in front of a wall of stars representing CIA agents killed in the line of duty and claim that the biggest war is the one with the media.

Stelter explained that Trump is playing to his 46 percent that voted for him and not the 76 million Americans who voted for someone else.

Gregory agreed, saying that the press needs to stop taking Trump’s bait and instead focus on holding Trump accountable.

In the second portion of the segment, panelist Jackie Kucinich urged the administration to release Trump’s tax returns because it will continue to dog him throughout his entire presidency.

***********

White House refusal to release Trump tax returns alienates WikiLeaks

    Adviser Kellyanne Conway: ‘He is not going to release his tax returns’
    WikiLeaks calls for someone to leak documents so they can be published

Donald Trump, accompanied by Mike Pence and family members stands behind piles of documents purportedly detailing his actions to divest himself of his business interests.

Alan Yuhas
AFP
Monday 23 January 2017 07.24 GMT

Donald Trump will not release his tax returns even after repeated promises to do so following a supposed audit, one of his senior advisers said on Sunday – confirming that the president will break a 40-year tradition and not show Americans the extent of his financial interests and obligations.

Kellyanne Conway, a senior counselor to the president, told ABC’s This Week the Trump administration would do nothing about calls to release the information.

“The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns,” she said. “We litigated this all through the election.”

The broken promise alienated WikiLeaks, which for months during the campaign released hacked Democratic emails, which Trump often seized on to denigrate his opponent Hillary Clinton.

On Sunday the group tweeted: “Trump’s breach of promise over the release of his tax returns is even more gratuitous than Clinton concealing her Goldman Sachs transcripts.”

The organization then asked for someone to give it the tax returns, in order they could be published.

    WikiLeaks (@wikileaks)

    Trump Counselor Kellyanne Conway stated today that Trump will not release his tax returns. Send them to: https://t.co/cLRcuIiQXz so we can.
    January 22, 2017

Speaking to ABC, Conway contradicted polls that show most Americans want to see the returns when she said: “People didn’t care.

“They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: most Americans … are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like.”

Last week a Washington Post-ABC poll showed that 74% of Americans, including 53% of Republicans, want to see Trump’s returns. In October a CNN poll found that 73% of registered voters, including 49% of Republicans, wanted to see the tax returns.

A petition on the White House website that calls for the immediate release of the returns and “all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance” had 218,465 signatures as of Sunday afternoon.

The returns could show the breadth of Trump’s financial interests around the world, including where he does business, who his partners are and to whom he owes money.

Ethics experts fear Trump’s business liabilities could affect White House policy and how the president spends taxpayer dollars: for instance, how he may deal with banks that own hundreds of millions of his debt, treat foreign nations that curry favor or become real estate partners, or reshape domestic policy to accommodate his interests.

Earlier this month, Trump repeated his campaign contention that he would not release the returns because “they’re under audit”. No law prohibits the release of tax returns during an audit; Trump’s lawyers have said he is under audit, but they have not provided any proof that he is actually under audit. The IRS has repeatedly declined to comment on the audit status of any single citizen.

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to release his tax returns after the supposed audit. In May, for instance, he said: “As soon as the audit ends I’ll release my returns.” He also tweeted: “I would release my tax returns when audit is complete, not after election!”

In October, Trump’s 1995 tax returns were published by the New York Times, which acquired the records through an anonymous source and verified them with the businessman’s former accountant.

The returns showed that Trump lost $916m in a single year and could have avoided paying federal taxes for 18 years, a charge he did not deny.

Conway also insisted that Trump and his family “are complying with all the ethical rules, everything they need to do to step away from his businesses and be a full-time president”.

There is no record that Trump has stepped away from any of his businesses, which owe hundreds of millions in debts to large banks, span across the US, Europe and Asia, and which may have already put him in violation of the constitution’s prohibition against payments from foreign governments.

In a press conference earlier this month, aides refused to let reporters see documents that allegedly catalogued his efforts to separate himself from his businesses.

Trump has refused to divest or set up a blind trust, instead saying without evidence that he has handed control of his companies to his two adult sons. Ethics attorneys have repeatedly said Trump has not taken effective steps to prevent conflicts of interest.

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Joan Walsh: Trump Administration 'Scrubbing Websites' So They Can Lie About Obamacare Data

Raw Story
1/22/17 12:57pm

An MSNBC panel noted on Sunday that President Donald Trump would soon be using falsehoods -- which the administration calls "alternative facts" -- to try and undermine President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

During a discussion about the future of the Affordable Care Act, MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid pointed out that Trump's White House was already lying about how the GOP's plan to "replace" Obamacare would leave millions without insurance.

"People are being hurt by their coverage being diminished, by their opportunities to get insurance being diminished," Reid explained. "And [White House Press Secretary] Sean Spicer comes out and says, 'No, they're not. Nobody is suffering.' And then you try to find the data on people's insurance and HHS just doesn't give it to you."

"That's where we are," MSNBC analyst Joan Walsh agreed. "I think we're really in a place where they're going to scrub the data. They're scrubbing websites now. And it's really a challenge. I know a lot academics and others who are working to preserve the data that they already have."

"They're going to make it seems like, 'Oh, well, Obamacare. We told you it's falling apart,'" Walsh added.

MSNBC contributor E.J. Dionne predicted that the Trump administration would use a "smokescreen" to hide the fact "that it's their plan that is pulling coverage from people."

"Our government produces enormous amounts of good data," Dionne remarked. "Republicans, Democrats have all said, 'We want honest data from the government because this helps business, this helps civic groups, this helps people all over the country.'"

"We have a situation where we maybe won't be able to trust the data that's coming out," Reid lamented. "And you know what? Republicans in Congress, it's not clear that they're going to do anything to protect the Congressional Budget Office or to protect anything other than Donald Trump."

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Feds probe Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn’s calls with Russian officials: report

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
23 Jan 2017 at 07:22 ET                  

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s communications with Russian officials have been investigated by U.S. counterintelligence agents.

The Wall Street Journal reported the inquiry just hours after Flynn was sworn in Sunday as Donald Trump’s assistant to the president for national security affairs.

It’s not clear when the investigation into Flynn’s communications began or whether it turned up any incriminating evidence, and the newspaper was unable to confirm whether the probe was still ongoing.

Investigators focused primarily on Flynn’s communications with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S., on Dec. 29 — the day the Obama administration announced sanctions against Russia.

The newspaper reported that investigators were trying to determine whether Flynn’s contact with Russian officials violated any laws, citing sources familiar with the probe.

The White House denied the investigation Sunday.

The New York Times reported Thursday has identified three Donald Trump associates — Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Roger Stone — whose ties to Russia are under investigation by U.S. law enforcement agencies.

*************

Pres. Trump nuzzles FBI Director James Comey’s cheek after blowing him a kiss at White House event

David Ferguson
Raw Story
22 Jan 2017 at 18:34 ET                  

On Sunday evening, Pres. Donald Trump welcomed FBI Director James Comey and a group of law enforcement personnel and first responders to a White House ceremony and appeared to not only blow Comey a kiss across the room, but also nuzzled his cheek in what looked like a kiss.

“Oh, here’s Jim,” said Trump in video from the White House before he made a moue-like shape with his lips that some viewers say looked an awful lot like the new president was blowing Comey a kiss.

    Trump just literally blew a kiss to James Comey at a WH reception for law enforcement pic.twitter.com/HwVq9DNdZd

    — Richard Hine (@richardhine) January 22, 2017

    WTF? Donald Trump blows kiss to James Comey and then appears to kiss him on the cheek https://t.co/pV4oDg06wA

    — Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) January 22, 2017

“He’s become more famous than me,” Trump said as Comey crossed the room to his side, where the director received a hug and what appeared to be a peck on the cheek.

Some blame Comey’s decision to feint at re-opening the investigation into Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her term as Secretary of State for her loss in Nov. 2016.

    Trump actually blows a kiss to Comey!!! You can hear it! I guess that is a great big thank you to Comey for not disclosing Russian issues. https://t.co/GNKKeq03pi

    — Judi (@SourdifJ) January 22, 2017

    @PalmerReport @gabino_58 @DailyNewsBin well Comey did help him get the election so I'm surprised he didn't French kiss him😒

    — AnonBruja🇺🇸 ♿ (@AnonBruja) January 22, 2017

    Wow. And in a bad way. Djt just blew FBI Director Comey a kiss! And then whispered something in his ear. This is NOT normal. https://t.co/6tIBStqfug

    — Carol L. Rogers (@Rogersonline) January 22, 2017

Watch video from ABC News and CNN, embedded below:

    Pres. Trump greets FBI Director James Comey during First Responders ceremony at the White House: "He's become more famous than me." pic.twitter.com/9Rdgyqi1iM

    — ABC News (@ABC) January 22, 2017

************

Ethics lawyers kick off ‘wave of litigation’ Monday by suing Trump over foreign payments

Reuters
22 Jan 2017 at 20:18 ET    

A group including former White House ethics attorneys will file a lawsuit on Monday accusing President Donald Trump of allowing his businesses to accept payments from foreign governments, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Deepak Gupta, a Supreme Court litigator working on the case, said the lawsuit would allege that the Constitution’s emoluments clause forbids payments to Trump’s businesses. It will seek a court order forbidding Trump from accepting such payments, he said.

The case, reported earlier by the New York Times, is part of a wave of litigation expected to be filed against Trump by liberal advocacy groups. It will be filed in a Manhattan federal court, Gupta said, and plaintiffs will include Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer in Republican President George W. Bush’s White House.

A Trump spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Trump’s son Eric Trump, an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, told the Times on Sunday that the company had taken more steps than required by law to avoid any possible legal exposure, such as agreeing to donate any profits collected at Trump-owned hotels that come from foreign government guests to the U.S. Treasury.

“This is purely harassment for political gain,” Trump told the newspaper.

(Reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Cooney)

*************

White House vows to fight media ‘tooth and nail’ over Trump attacks

Reuters
22 Jan 2017 at 14:41 ET                  

The White House vowed on Sunday to fight the news media “tooth and nail” over what it sees as unfair attacks, with a top adviser saying the Trump administration had presented “alternative facts” to counter low inauguration crowd estimates.

On his first full day as president, Trump said he had a “running war” with the media and accused journalists of underestimating the number of people who turned out Friday for his swearing-in.

White House officials made clear no truce was on the horizon on Sunday in television interviews that set a harsher tone in the traditionally adversarial relationship between the White House and the press corps.

“The point is not the crowd size. The point is the attacks and the attempt to delegitimize this president in one day. And we’re not going to sit around and take it,” Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on “Fox News Sunday.”

No single issue has dominated the new administration’s public discourse as much as the news media’s treatment of Trump.

“We’re going to fight back tooth and nail every day and twice on Sunday,” Priebus said.

He repeated White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s charges on Saturday that the media had manipulated photographs of the National Mall to show smaller crowds on Friday.

Aerial photographs showed the crowds were smaller than at Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. The Washington subway system said it had 193,000 riders by 11 a.m. on Friday, compared with 513,000 at that time during the 2009 inauguration.

Several of Spicer’s statements about Friday’s turnout were challenged in photographs and media reports that cited crowd count experts. His categorical assertion that “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period” in particular was lampooned on social media as well.

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” why the press secretary was uttering provable falsehoods, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway fired back.

“If we are going to keep referring to our press secretary in those types of terms I think that we are going to rethink our relationship here,” she said.

Conway responded to criticism that the new administration was focusing on crowds rather than on significant domestic and foreign policy issues by saying, “We feel compelled to go out and clear the air and put alternative facts out there.”

Priebus and Conway focused on a press pool report that said the bust of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr had been removed from the Oval Office after Trump took office. The report on Friday night was quickly corrected, but Trump called out the reporter by name during a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency on Saturday. Spicer also berated the reporter later in the day.

RUSSIAN SHADOWS

With the Nov. 8 election results shadowed by U.S. intelligence reports of Russian meddling on his behalf, Trump has bristled at reports suggesting his popular support is soft and that the election was not legitimate.

Trump, who lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes, made no mention of Russia in his first visit to the CIA on Saturday. He praised his nominee to head the agency, Mike Pompeo, and ranted against the “dishonest” media, a favorite target during his presidential campaign.

The president accused the media of fabricating his tensions with the U.S. intelligence community, despite his frequent posts on Twitter that derided the agencies.

Trump drew criticism from Democrats as well as former CIA Director John Brennan for his remarks at the agency, where he spoke before a memorial wall with stars representing personnel killed in action.

“President Trump ought to realize he’s not campaigning anymore. He’s president,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“Instead of talking about how many people showed up at his inauguration, he ought to be talking about how many people are going to stay in the middle class and move into the middle class.”

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Paul Simao)

 16 
 on: Today at 06:56 AM 
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Iceland gripped by rare murder case as woman's body is found

Biggest search and rescue in nation’s history, involving 725 volunteers, ends with Birna Brjansdottir, 20, found dead on a beach and two sailors detained

Staff and agencies
Monday 23 January 2017 01.21 GMT

Iceland was in shock after a young woman missing for eight days was found dead on a beach, sparking a rare murder case that has gripped the nation.

Police said in a statement on Sunday they were treating the case as murder although “currently it is not possible to determine the cause of death”.

Iceland has one of the world’s lowest crime rates. Homicides are extremely rare and police patrol the streets unarmed.

Birna Brjansdottir, 20, was found dead on a beach south of Reykjavik after more than 725 volunteers took part in the biggest search and rescue operation in Icelandic history, according to media.

Two Greenlandic sailors aged 25 and 30 were being held in connection with her disappearance, which happened on 14 January after a night of drinking in Reykjavik’s bars.

Surveillance footage around 5am showed her making her way through snowy and foggy streets by herself and buying a kebab.

Her shoes were found in the port of Hafnarfjordur, south of Reykjavik, not far from the dock where a Greenlandic trawler, the Polar Nanoq, was moored.

Video surveillance cameras also showed a small red car, a Kia Rio, parked near the vessel around 6.30am – identical to a vehicle observed near the spot where Brjansdottir was last seen.

The Polar Nanoq lifted anchor a few hours after Brjansdottir went missing but members of Iceland’s elite police force, known as the Viking Squad, flew out to the ship by helicopter to question the crew.

The ship returned to Reykjavik and two sailors were taken into custody.

Traces of Brjansdottir’s blood were later found in the red car, which had been rented by the sailors, authorities said.

A country of 330,000 people, Iceland has registered an average of 1.8 murders per year since 2001, according to police statistics, with the killers often under the influence of alcohol or having mental health issues.

Agence France-Presse

 17 
 on: Today at 06:54 AM 
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Adapting to climate change means adapting to Trump – here's how

Donald Trump’s scepticism about climate change makes it vital that the case for better planning and preparation is articulated in a politically astute way

Dr Aditya V Bahadur

The author works on climate change programmes at Oxford Policy Management and the Overseas Development Institute

Monday 23 January 2017 07.00 GMT
AFP

Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president poses a grave threat to the major progress made in the battle against climate change over the past decade. The top 20 things that Trump has pledged to “get rid of” include US commitment to the Paris climate agreement and payments to the UN climate fund, which helps developing countries tackle global warming.

Those working to help poorer states adapt to the impact of climate change and become more resilient to its effects must emulate the approach adopted by the global green movement, which is preparing to fight its corner in the struggle to limit the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Apart from activism and political organisation, people working to develop resilience programmes and policies need to frame and communicate the benefits of their work in a way that aligns with the priorities of the new regime. There are five things they can do to counter the looming existential threat posed by Trump if they become more savvy political operators.

First, since migration was central to Trump’s candidature, it is vital to stress that helping communities to prepare for the disruption wrought by global warming – not least by adapting their present habits – will curb the involuntary movement of people. Fewer climate refugees will mean less displacement and a reduction in the number of people crossing borders. In 2008, disputed research by Professor Norman Myers, a British environmentalist, put the number of climate change refugees at 20 million and suggested the number could swell to 200 million by 2050, causing substantial displacement in the US and beyond. It is therefore vital Trump is made aware that helping people in vulnerable areas to roll with the punches – an approach that has proved effective in Africa, Asia and the Americas, as the International Organisation for Migration has pointed out – could help reduce these numbers.

Another of Trump’s main planks is economic growth. The centrepiece of his economic plan is the promise to create 25m jobs over the next decade. With that in mind, it is crucial to emphasise that preparing for natural disasters and reducing the risk of them happening in the first place can help to boost economic growth. A World Bank report has argued that such measures “can have immediate and significant economic benefits to households, the private sector and, more broadly, at the macroeconomic level”, noting that the perception of risk from future disasters leads to risk aversion that dampens entrepreneurial activity.

Conversely, adequate measures to reduce risk through resilience programmes and policies can promote investment. For example, government investment in flood defences in Mexico’s Tabasco region has helped stimulate private investment in housing and stopped companies from leaving. The Rockefeller Foundation has chronicled numerous instances from the US, New Zealand, Colombia and India to argue that equipping communities to deal with natural disasters yields a tangible dividend.

    Talking about the here and now is likelier to strike a chord with Trump than scientifically sound projections

A third area in which those focused on fostering a stronger ability to absorb natural shocks might make headway with Trump relates to peace and security. Trump pitched himself as the “national security” candidate, so it would be useful to demonstrate that greater resilience equates to greater safety. Last year, 25 US military and national security experts, including former advisers to Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, warned that climate change poses a “significant risk to US national security” (pdf), for instance by causing food shortages that can foment public unease and create a breeding ground for terrorism. Similarly, the Overseas Development Institute claims that the relationship between conflict and disasters is complex but cites examples from Afghanistan, Uganda and Nepal to demonstrate that mitigating the impact of climate change can reduce the risk of conflict.

At the same time, there is no need to raise the hackles of the incoming regime by basing the case for resilience solely on global warming. Instead, a fourth strategy would be to frame resilience as an approach that also helps to deal with technological, social, economic and political shocks. Why not point out to Trump that helping vulnerable communities acquire risk insurance, savings and stocks of emergency rations and medicine can help them deal with political unrest and industrial disasters as well as earthquakes, floods and cyclones?

Finally, it is vital to talk about the here and now. Climate sceptics deride talk of global warming for privileging abstract future concerns over issues that matter today. This is partly because scientific analysis has used models and forecasts to predict future impacts. Yet natural disasters and other effects of climate change are already eroding 1.6% from global GDP, leading to the involuntary migration of millions of people and exacerbating the risk of conflict and national security threats. These issues are likelier to strike a chord with Trump than scientifically sound projections and predictions.

There is an urgent need to maintain the positive momentum on battling climate change. A politically astute approach by the resilience movement can help to achieve that.

• Dr Aditya V Bahadur works with the action on climate today programme at Oxford Policy Management and with the risk and resilience programme of the Overseas Development Institute

 18 
 on: Today at 06:50 AM 
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We’re now breaking global temperature records once every three years

Denial and “alternative facts” haven’t stopped the Earth from warming to record-shattering levels
February 2016 was the warmest February in 136 years of Nasa’s modern temperature records. Global temperature records were broken throughout 2016.

Dana Nuccitelli
AFP
Monday 23 January 2017 11.00 GMT

According to Nasa, in 2016 the Earth’s surface temperature shattered the previous record for hottest year by 0.12°C. That record was set in 2015, which broke the previous record by 0.13°C. That record had been set in 2014, beating out 2010, which in turn had broken the previous record set in 2005.

If you think that seems like a lot of record-breaking hot years, you’re right. The streak of three consecutive record hot years is unprecedented since measurements began in 1880. In the 35 years between 1945 and 1979, there were no record-breakers. In the 37 years since 1980, there have been 12. The video below illustrates all of the record-breaking years in the Nasa global surface temperature record since 1880.

These include a spate of five record hot years between 1937 and 1944; however, ongoing research is investigating whether some of those are artificial, due to changes in the way temperatures were measured during World War II.

Even including World War II, in the first 100 years of the Nasa data, the high temperature record was broken seven times. It’s been broken seven times in just the past 20 years.

This rapid rate of record-breaking heat (once every three years) is consistent with climate scientists’ expectations. A 2011 paper by Stefan Rahmstorf and Dim Coumou found that as global warming continues, we should expect to set new records about once every four years.

    Indeed, if we only use the data of the past 30 y, these show an almost linear trend of 0.017°C/y, yielding an expected 2.5 new record hot temperatures in the last decade [1 per 4 years].

Rahmstorf told me that so far, the rate of record-setting temperatures is in line with a consistent human-caused global warming trend:

    There is no statistical evidence for recent acceleration, just as there never was statistical evidence for a “slowdown” in global warming before the recent series of records. It’s all still within the noise (which could well be hiding an acceleration, but we cannot tell yet from these data).

Global temperature wasn’t the only record-setter in 2016. Global warming causes climate change, and North America saw its highest number of storms and floods in over four decades. Globally, we saw over 1.5 times more extreme weather catastrophes in 2016 than the average over the past 30 years. Global sea ice cover plunged to a record low as well. California endured a fifth consecutive year of its worst drought in over a millennium. A drought also savaged the maize harvest in Southern Africa, causing a famine. The list of climate consequences goes on.

Alternative Facts

To paraphrase Taylor Swift, “deniers gonna deny.” As expected, the anti-climate policy advocacy group GWPF claimed that the record-breaking global temperatures somehow prove that global warming has “paused,” because, they argue, the record was only set due to an El Niño event. Not so, say me, statisticians, and climate scientists:

    Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin)

    @theresphysics Oh my. What tosh. In ENSO corrected data-sets 2016 is still record warm. @dr_david_w @thegwpfcom pic.twitter.com/pUajFbJdr1
    January 19, 2017

Quite obviously, human-caused global warming is the driver behind these frequent record-breaking hot years. Usually an El Niño event will help push a given year over the top, as happened in 2016 and 2015 (but not 2014). However, today’s El Niño years are hotter than past El Niño years because of global warming.

Relatedly, testifying before the Senate on the day the record temperatures were announced in a bid to become EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt claimed that we don’t know how much humans are contributing to global warming:

This is simply wrong. We wouldn’t be setting a new temperature record every three years if not for global warming, and there’s no question that the warming is predominantly human-caused. The latest IPCC report stated with 95% confidence that humans are the main cause of global warming since 1950, and most likely responsible for 100% of that temperature rise.

Every study quantifying the various contributions to global warming has found humans are the dominant cause. Our fingerprints are all over climate change – the changes are precisely in line with what we’d expect to see as a result of an increased greenhouse effect from human carbon pollution. That’s why there’s a 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming.

Climate denial is evolving. All of Trump’s nominees rejected his claims that climate change is a hoax, but all cast doubt on the degree to which humans are contributing, and to the threats it poses. It’s a softer, cuddlier form of climate denial that doesn’t reject all scientific research – just the vast majority – and yields the same end result of obstructing climate solutions.

But physical reality doesn’t bend to denial or “alternative facts.” Until we address the problem, we’ll continue to see record-breaking heat and extreme weather. The longer we deny and the less action we take, the more extreme the consequences will become. As the renowned glaciologist Lonnie Thompson put it, “the only question is how much we will mitigate, adapt, and suffer.” Allowing for more denial and less action will maximize the third variable in that equation.

 19 
 on: Today at 06:48 AM 
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New Zealand hit by 'weather bomb' bringing summer snow and flooding

Severe low caused heavy rain and gales and resulted in large dumps of snow in the middle of the southern summer

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin
AFP
Monday 23 January 2017 03.46 GMT

A powerful “weather bomb” has hit New Zealand, cutting off rural towns, flooding major roads and dumping snow on to bare alpine ski fields at what should be the height of the southern hemisphere summer.

The significant low edged over the South Island late on Thursday afternoon, causing landslips and snow, and went on to lash the country throughout the weekend.

Auckland in the North Island suffered major power outages, while rivers on the west coast of the South Island rose rapidly in a matter of hours, lapping at road-sides and carrying large debris, including trees washed down from the Southern Alps.

Warnings and road closures are still in place in the central and southern parts of the South Island and the Southland farming town of Waikaia remains cut off, with soaked pastures threatening farm infrastructure and farmers urgently evacuating livestock to higher ground.

    Mt Ruapehu (@MountRuapehu)

    About today... pic.twitter.com/x1jYqcVX8m
    January 20, 2017

    Henry McMullan (@HenryMcMullan)

    New waterfalls popping up everywhere along the Arthur's pass. Photo in Jacksons. #WeatherBomb pic.twitter.com/4IEVXnt6jn
    January 19, 2017

A landslip also buried the famous Sylvia Flats hot pools, and residents of Dunedin reported having to burn their fences to stay warm after being caught off guard by the unseasonal weather.

In Greymouth, which was hit by heavy rainfall, residents made the best of a wet situation.


The MetService said “extreme” weather events such as the weather bomb were becoming increasingly common in New Zealand, which already had challenging weather patterns because of its close proximity to Antarctica and its narrow, alpine environment.

“This weather bomb was caused by a burst of really hot air coming out of Australia and forming a low when it moved into the Tasman Sea, and then picking up moisture and increasing in intensity,” said Mads Naeraa-Spiers, a forecaster for the MetService.

“It brought heavy rain, gale-force winds and cold-wet southerlies. Cardrona snowfield looked like it should the middle of winter, not summer.”

Naerra-Spiers said rapid floods on the west coast were an ongoing concern, while high winds had flipped cars and caused “flying trampolines”.

“New Zealand is prone to extreme and rapid variations in temperature and it can get really cold regardless of the season because of our proximity to Antarctica. That said while it was snowing in the South Island some parts of the North Island were recording temperatures in the high 20s.”

On Monday afternoon the Met Service issued another severe weather warning for most parts of the South Island, expected to arrive by Tuesday afternoon and bring gales and heavy rains.

Naerra-Spiers said the unseasonable weather was set to continue for at least another couple of weeks, and warm, stable weather was not expected until February and March.

“We seem to be stuck somewhat in this pattern of systems coming out of Australia, we are not out of the woods yet,” he said. “New Zealand is an extreme place weather-wise but we do seem to be experiencing a lot more severe events and they do have quite a heavy impact on the country.”

 20 
 on: Today at 06:45 AM 
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We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years

John Vidal

At current rates of deforestation, rainforests will vanish altogether in a century. Stopping climate change will remain an elusive goal unless poor nations are helped to preserve them

AFP
Monday 23 January 2017 10.50 GMT

If you want to see the world’s climate changing, fly over a tropical country. Thirty years ago, a wide belt of rainforest circled the earth, covering much of Latin America, south-east Asia and Africa. Today, it is being rapidly replaced by great swathes of palm oil trees and rubber plantations, land cleared for cattle grazing, soya farming, expanding cities, dams and logging.

People have been deforesting the tropics for thousands of years for timber and farming, but now, nothing less than the physical transformation of the Earth is taking place. Every year about 18m hectares of forest – an area the size of England and Wales – is felled. In just 40 years, possibly 1bn hectares, the equivalent of Europe, has gone. Half the world’s rainforests have been razed in a century, and the latest satellite analysis shows that in the last 15 years new hotspots have emerged from Cambodia to Liberia. At current rates, they will vanish altogether in 100 years.

    About 12% of all man-made climate emissions now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas

As fast as the trees go, the chance of slowing or reversing climate change becomes slimmer. Tropical deforestation causes carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to linger in the atmosphere and trap solar radiation. This raises temperatures and leads to climate change: deforestation in Latin America, Asia and Africa can affect rainfall and weather everywhere from the US Midwest, to Europe and China.

The consensus of the world’s atmospheric scientists is that about 12% of all man-made climate emissions – nearly as much as the world’s 1.2bn cars and lorries – now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas. Conserving forests is critical; the carbon locked up in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 150m hectares of forests are nearly three times the world’s global annual emissions.

And as the forests come down, the people who live in or around them and depend on them become impoverished. Without the forests, people migrate to cities, or move to richer countries in search of work. The world’s rainforests not only provide food, energy security, incomes and medicinal plants for 300 million people, but are home to the richest wildlife in the world.

So, what to do? The positive news is that all countries formally pledged at the Paris climate summit in December 2015 to reduce emissions and keep global temperature rises to well below 2C; and in so doing they recognised that this would not be possible without stopping or at least reducing tropical deforestation.

The 50 or more developing countries who share the world’s tropical forests all recognised their contribution and promised to crack down on illegal forestry, replant trees and restore degraded forest lands.

Some countries were highly ambitious. China, Brazil, Bolivia and Congo DRC together put forward targets that could protect over 50 million hectares of forest over the next 15 years, an area the size of Spain.

Indonesia, the world’s sixth largest carbon emitter, promised to cut its emissions by 29% by ending illegal deforestation and restoring 12m hectares of forested land. Ecuador said that it planned to restore 500,000 hectares of forest land by 2017 and then increase that amount by 100,000 hectares a year. Honduras committed to plant or restore 1m hectares of forest by 2030.

If countries stick to their pledges and let damaged forests recover, annual global greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by as much as 24 to 30% – an enormous step.

The science and economics needed to stem deforestation are in place, but there is one huge caveat: countries with tropical forests are some of the poorest in the world, desperate to develop and use their natural resources to grow their economies. Their pledges to stop or reduce deforestation are mostly conditional on rich countries financially and technically helping them achieve this – and the onus on reducing emissions is on these rich countries which have historically caused most climate change.

Rich countries pledged at Paris to raise $100bn a year to help poor countries reduce their emissions. Some of that money should go to tropical forest protection.

In addition, a new UN-backed mechanism called Redd (reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) has been initiated that involves rich countries paying countries to protect forests and the carbon stored within them. Tropical and sub-tropical countries could receive both public and private funding if they succeed in reducing their emissions from deforestation. But this is deeply controversial as global schemes are prone to corruption, difficult to implement and hard to measure.

If there is money to protect forests, will it go to big companies as subsidy, or lead to evictions of people and human rights abuses?

There must be safeguards, but Germany, Norway and the UK have together promised up to $1bn a year for Redd schemes until 2020. The World Bank plans to contribute a similar amount to work with African countries. A further fund is intended to benefit indigenous and other forest communities which have been the traditional protectors of the forest.

Until Paris, stopping tropical deforestation was at best unlikely and probably impossible. It remains very difficult, but a political and financial mechanism has now been created to incentivise countries, companies and communities to do so at a fraction of the cost of reducing comparable emissions in the US or Europe. Protecting the forests now depends on rich governments not ducking their responsibilities and playing their part.

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