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Mar 27, 2017, 02:35 AM
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 31 
 on: Mar 24, 2017, 10:00 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Poll: Scandals solidify Shitstain Trump’s voter base

International Business Times
23 Mar 2017 at 16:17 ET    

The first two months of President Donald Trump’s administration have been plagued by a revolving door of scandals and accusations. But a new Morning Consult/Politico poll released Thursday found that while a plurality of voters viewed Trump less favorably after the scandals, his supporters have found him to be more likeable.

Conducted online from March 16 to Sunday, the poll measured Trump’s favorability based on seven scandals that have engulfed the White House since he assumed office in January. Those included Trump’s allegations that former President Barack Obama had his “wires” tapped in Trump Tower, the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd, his criticism of the media and two involving his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia during the election.

In all seven, Trump supporters’ largely favored him more. The president’s accusation that the media is “the enemy of the American people” scored him the biggest improvement of 31 percent among those who voted for him. That was compared to a 15 percent drop when all voters were considered.

Trump’s base also favored him by 21 percent when he accused Obama of spying on him during the election.

When it came to now former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation due to back-channeling with a Russian ambassador, as well as Attorney General Jeff Session’s meetings with the same diplomat, Trump still scored 16 points better with the his voters.

The only scandal that seemed to affect all voters was his handling of North Korea’s missile test launch while he visited his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach Florida. Trump saw a 27 percent decline in favorability from all voters and only a two percent bump from his base after it was reported he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had discussed a response to the launch in front of the resort’s guests.

The poll’s results appeared to largely reflect Gallup’s daily job approval rating of the president. As of Wednesday, 56 percent of Americans disapproved of Trump’s work compared to 39 percent approving, the second-lowest approval rating in the early stages of his presidency.

A new poll Thursday suggested President Trump's supporters view mostly favor him more when asked about his administration's early scandals. Photo: Reuters

The poll surveyed 1,927 voters and had a margin of error of 2 percent.

 32 
 on: Mar 24, 2017, 06:12 AM 
Started by soleil - Last post by Skywalker
Make America Great Again!

 33 
 on: Mar 24, 2017, 06:03 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
USA

The Washington Post Calls For the Investigation of Rep. Devin Nunes

By Hrafnkell Haraldsson on Fri, Mar 24th, 2017 at 9:01 am
PoliticusUSA

The editorial board of The Washington Post is calling for an end to Devin Nunes’ investigation of Trump/Russia contacts and instead investigating Devin Nunes himself.

It is bad enough, as national security expert John Schindler tweeted, that Nunes’ and Trump’s claims about Obama wiretapping amount to a “nothingburger”:

    Until there's some evidence — not "Devin saw TS stuff nobody else did" — allegations that Obama abused IC USP protections = nothingburger.

    — John Schindler (@20committee) March 24, 2017

To false accusations leveled against our last president must be added Devin Nunes’ own leak of classified information – right after complaining about the leak of classified information. As the Post explained,

    REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-Calif.) on Monday denounced what he described as the illegal leak of classified information concerning conversations between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials. He insisted that those who described those contacts to the press be tracked down and prosecuted. He demanded that FBI Director James B. Comey confirm that such revelations “violate . . . a section of the Espionage Act that criminalizes the disclosure of information concerning the communication and intelligence activities of the United States.”
     
    Forty-eight hours later, Mr. Nunes himself held a news conference in which he cited a confidential source to describe what clearly appeared to be classified information about intercepted communications involving Trump associates. He did this outside the White House, where he had rushed to brief the president about the intercepts — even though the House Intelligence Committee he chairs is supposed to be investigating the Trump campaign’s possible connections with Russia.

There is no arguing with the editorial board’s verdict that Rep. Nunes “deserves to be subject to the same leaking probe he demanded for the previous disclosures.”

Nor is there any arguing with the editorial board’s conclusion that,

“Mr. Nunes’s antics serve only to underline the urgency of a serious, nonpartisan and uncompromising investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and any contacts between Moscow’s agents and the Trump campaign.”

Devin Nunes represents the Republican Party’s willingness to go to any lengths, including tolerating treason, to push the conservative agenda. Nunes, who is supposed to be investigating the Trump administration, has shown himself instead to be serving the interests of Donald Trump.

House leaders should, as the Post demands, “put an end to the embarrassing travesty being directed by Mr. Nunes” and we should turn our attention instead to the investigation of Nunes himself.

Nunes was trying to protect Trump. What has resulted is a historically significant tragicomedy in three acts, and it is for this the Trump administration will be remembered by future historians.

In the end, Nunes’ efforts have only shown how essential it is that instead of committee investigation, a select committee is appointed instead.

No Republican will be able to protect Trump then, and all Nunes’ dubious antics have accomplished then is to doom the man he sought to protect.

***********

House Intel Committee Member Suggests Devin Nunes Is Engaging In Trump/Russia Cover-Up

By Jason Easley on Fri, Mar 24th, 2017 at 10:47 am
PoliticusUSA

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) accused House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) of trying to muddy the waters and help Trump cover-up the Russia scandal.

During an interview on MSNBC, Speier was asked what Adam Schiff knows that we don’t about the evidence of Trump/Russia collusion being more than circumstantial.

She answered:

So that’s what’s really interesting, because both Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes, the chair and ranking members of the committee, have access to information that the whole committee does not have access to. It’s only afforded to what’s called the Gang of Eight, which includes the Speaker, the Democratic Leader, the ranking and the chair on the House side, and similarly on the Senate side, so if we have Adam Schiff who is a prosecutor by training say that this is not just circumstantial evidence, I believe that Devin Nunes knows the same information, and I think this could be an effort to make everything look much murkier.

The reason why I’m suspicious is that the president on Tucker Carlson, another show, said last week, said that there is going to be information coming to the committee, and this is going to clarify it for the American people. Well, I think this whole thing is, excuse the pun, is trumped up.

What Rep. Speier was doing was suggesting that the chair of the House Intelligence Committee is working with the White House to create a diversion that will distract the committee from investigating the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Speier was suggesting that Nunes knows information that Adam Schiff describes as more than circumstantial, and his wiretapping claims this week were an attempt to help the White House cover-up the real story.

Calls are growing for Nunes to be investigated as the Trump/Russia scandal is going beyond the White House and implicating the Republican Party.

If Republicans were so desperate to win that they either colluded with Russia or turned a blind eye while Trump colluded with Russia, they would have committed a crime against their country that has the potential to stain their party for generations.

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

Healthcare bill hangs in balance as Republicans agonise over Shitstain Trump's vote gamble

Late-night meetings prove inconclusive as president forges ahead with Friday vote on flagship promise despite fears bill may fail

Tom McCarthy and Ben Jacobs
Guardian
Friday 24 March 2017 04.01 GMTFirst published on Friday 24 March 2017 03.21 GMT

After weeks of legislative bets and bluffs, Donald Trump decided on Thursday night that it was time for everyone to show their hand on healthcare reform.

As Republican legislators gathered for emotional late-night meetings on Capitol Hill, Trump sent over his most trusted advisers – Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus and budget director Mick Mulvaney – to try to help craft majority support for legislation to replace Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.

The message from the White House was plain: vote on the bill on Friday. Let opponents cast their votes publicly. And if the legislation fails, there won’t be another effort to make good on the flagship Republican promise to replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The president was moving on, his advisers told legislators.

New York Republican Chris Collins, a longtime Trump ally, told reporters it was now or never on repealing Obamacare. “The president said tomorrow there’ll be a vote,” he said. “It’ll go up, it’ll go down – but we are then going to move on to the rest of his agenda.

“At some point you do have to move on,” Collins said. “In the private sector, if you lose a deal you move on to the next deal ... if [Trump] can’t get the votes tomorrow, he’ll never get the votes and it’s time to move on.”

The Republican leadership dutifully scheduled multiple votes for Friday, making room for amendments that could nail down conservative support and for other changes to a bill whose contents were still in flux.

“For seven and a half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law, because it’s hurting American families,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said late Thursday. “And tomorrow we’re proceeding.”

The anticipated changes to the bill on Friday, just hours before members were likely to vote on it, were not minor. One amendment would erase a requirement in the Obama law for insurance plans to cover basic services, called “essential health benefits” such as hospital visits, prescription drugs and maternity and newborn care. Instead, individual states would decide whether health insurance plans were mandated to cover those services.

The stakes of passage were high, with Trump apparently betting that the political stain of failure would not be attached to him. A new Quinnipiac University poll showed that Americans disapprove of the healthcare overhaul by a margin of 56% to 17% – with support among Republicans hovering at just 41%. However, the same poll also showed that a majority of Americans wanted at least some changes to Obamacare.

Activity on the bill proceeded too quickly for analysts to keep pace. Early Thursday evening the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report finding the amended bill would cost more than the original version while doing nothing to prevent the anticipated ejection of 24 million people from health insurance rolls in the next decade. The report became almost immediately obsolete as new amendments and agreements were hooked on.

To make it to the Senate, where the bill would be expected to undergo yet another extensive overhaul, the legislation could afford no more than 22 Republican defections in the House, according to anticipated vote attendance. Interviews with many Republican House members on Capitol Hill Thursday night made it clear that passage was a very open question.

Republican members exiting their conference meeting before 9pm gave mixed assessments of the bill’s prospects. Asked whether the bill had the votes to pass, Charlie Dent, a member of the centrist Tuesday Group, said “I don’t know.”

“I’ve declared my opposition to the bill,” he said.

Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska said the bill was “improving” after “a very strong meeting. Deeply emotional.”

“There are some people who have principled objections,” he said.

Joe Barton, a conservative member of the Freedom Caucus who planned on voting yes, thought it would succeed but not by much. “I think they’ll be a vote and I think it will pass.” When asked by the Guardian to make a prediction, he gave the odds of success at 50.1% to 49.9%.

The president deployed his signature method for coaxing votes Thursday night, tweeting that “Disastrous #Obamacare has led to higher costs & fewer options” and exhorting members to “#PassTheBill”.

Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania described it all as typical legislative sausage-making. When asked what type of sausage, he insisted: “Tasty!”

Many Republicans were willing to accept an imperfect bill that resulted from this sausage-making. Scott Taylor, a freshman from Virginia, said of the bill: “Personally I believe 85% of something is a hell of a lot better than nothing so I think it’s important we move in the right direction.”

There was still plenty of skepticism from moderates, who have been far less prone to rebellion than conservatives in the past. Some like Dan Donovan of New York and Leonard Lance of New Jersey insisted to reporters they were still voting against the bill. Lance told reporters: “I am a no.”

He expressed his hope that failure of the bill would force bipartisan negotiations. Lance said that if the legislation did not succeed on Monday “I hope that the Democrats will come to the plate and I am critical to the Democrats for not coming to the plate. I think they have a responsibility because the exchanges are in significant difficulty.”

On the other wing of the Republican conference Trent Franks, an arch conservative member of the Freedom Caucus, praised his group’s efforts in negotiations to strip the essential health benefits from the bill. “The Freedom Caucus have paid some pretty profound dividends here in the last few hours in that there is going to be a new amendment going into the bill.”

The Arizona Republican touted his group’s efforts, saying: “I am convinced of this one thing that what they might have called acrimony on behalf of House Freedom Caucus is creative tension that improved the bill in a pretty profound way.”

Franks also argued this action had major political benefits. “The thing that is of consequence in that regard is that has the potential to actually reduce the premiums,” he said. “I think that will not only be very very good for the American people but might sustain us in an off-year election and keep the gavel out of Nancy Pelosi’s hands who would do the worst with it.”

Matt Gaetz, a Tea Party Republican from Florida, said he hoped Republicans were unified and the bill would pass. “I sure hope so,” Gaetz said, “or we’ll have the opportunity to watch a unified Democrat caucus impeach Donald Trump in two years when we lose the majority.”

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

GOP Leaders Are Now Trying To End Coverage For Pre-Existing Conditions, Young Adults

By Sean Colarossi on Thu, Mar 23rd, 2017 at 8:59 pm
PoliticusUSA

If there is one thing just about every American agrees on, it's that these two parts of the Affordable Care Act should remain untouched.

As Republicans frantically negotiate with each other in order to get enough votes to pass unpopular Trumpcare, some GOP leaders are asking for the provisions covering pre-existing conditions and young adults – the most popular aspects of the Affordable Care Act – to be removed from the Republican plan.

According to reporting by MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt, some of the more conservative members of the House of Representatives are saying they may support the legislation if those two critical components are removed.

Video:

    MSNBC’s @kasie reporting that some Republicans now considering nixing coverage for pre-existing conditions, young adults. #Trumpcare pic.twitter.com/lKglGRvtUJ

    — Sean Colarossi (@SeanColarossi) March 23, 2017

Kasie Hunt reports:

    These conservatives who have opposed it have essentially come out and said, ‘Look, this is Obamacare-lite; it’s the opposite of what we’re trying to do.’ It’s very hard to move off of that position once you’ve drawn that line in the sand … The problem is, the more concessions they’ve given over there, it’s worn down the moderate members that they still do need … And now I’m hearing they’re talking about pre-existing conditions, they’re talking about kids who are on their parents plans until the age of 26 and for moderates, that’s a complete non-starter.

Not only would taking an ax to those two provisions turn off moderate members of the GOP, it would be devastating to millions of Americans who have relied on those components of Obamacare to get insurance coverage and life-saving treatment.

If there is one thing just about every American agrees on, regardless of party, it’s that these two parts of the Affordable Care Act should remain untouched. Republicans are so desperate to win over conservative members of the house that they’re forgetting that.

The GOP no longer cares what impact this legislation has on the country – just that they’re able to get it through Congress and score a political victory. After Trump promised to cover everybody under his plan, millions more Americans would be without health coverage and pay more out-of-pocket for care – all so this childish president could get something, anything done.

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

New Analysis Finds Shitstain Trumpcare Would Be Even More Catastrophic Than Originally Thought

By Sean Colarossi on Thu, Mar 23rd, 2017 at 7:31 pm
PoliticusUSA

Trumpcare will cost more than initial estimates – and none of the cost increases will go toward covering the 24 million Americans that will lose health insurance under the plan.

An updated analysis of Trumpcare by the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office was released on Thursday, and it found that the GOP health care plan would be even more catastrophic for the country than originally thought.

Not only would Donald Trump and the Republicans kick 24 million Americans off their health insurance policies – roughly the same as originally estimated – but it would cost even more than the CBO initially found.

More from the updated CBO analysis:

    CBO and JCT estimate that, in 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. The increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law would reach 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026 (see Table 4). In 2026, an estimated 52 million people under age 65 would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.

While the number of Americans without insurance under the GOP plan remains relatively the same as the original CBO analysis, it would cost even more than the organization’s first estimate found:

    On March, 13, 2017, CBO and JCT estimated that enacting the reconciliation recommendations of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (which were combined into H.R. 1628) would yield a net reduction in federal deficits of $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 1628, with the proposed amendments, would save $186 billion less over that period.

So if you’re keeping score at home, Trumpcare will cost more than initial estimates – and none of the cost increases will go toward covering the 24 million Americans that will lose health insurance under the new plan.

The release of the new CBO score came as Republicans delayed a vote on the unpopular legislation because the self-proclaimed deal-maker-in-chief couldn’t convince members of his own party to support the plan.

Trumpcare was political suicide before, and it remains political suicide at this hour as the GOP works tirelessly to make sure fewer Americans have access to health care.

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

Rep Mike Quigley On Russian Collusion: 'Probable Cause To Believe There Was Coordination'

3/23/17 8:00pm
CrooksAndLiars

Rep. Mike Quigley joined Chris Matthews on Hardball tonight to discuss the latest news coming out of the House Intel Committee, which is currently being run by former Trump Transition Team Member (and current Trump bootlicker), Devin Nunes.

When asked about whether Nunes can be considered impartial after he chose to run to the White House with shady intel he may he received via a leak (ironic) versus talking to the Intel Commitee, Quigley said the following:

    "Well, it makes it far more difficult for him. He has to overcome this assumption he has a different master than a chairman of this important investigation. I have to be fair the first two years that I have served with him, he has been a good chairman. He's run his meetings very well. Ever since Mr. tTrump has become President, though, unfortunately, it's been a different story.... I can't stress enough. This is the most important investigation of a President in our history since Watergate. The person investigating it has to be of an open mind and has to understand he cannot serve the President, he's a member of Congress."

After a little chit chat they went back Matthews proposed that the White House may have put some "heat on" Nunes to take a stand to support Trump.

Mieke Eoyang from the National Security Program responded "I think that's absolutely right and people forget that when Nunes talks about the wiretapping of the Trump transition team the person at the head of the transition for administration was Devin Nunes, He has been on both sides of this thing from the beginning. So now as the committee chairman, he is grading the work as national chairman he was putting together as the head of the transition."

Back to Quigley...

Matthews pulls up the Congressman Schiff clip from just yesterday where he talks about actual collusion, not just circumstantial and then asks Quigley what he thinks.

    Matthews: Congressman, do you go on more than circumstantial evidence at this point?

    Quigley: As an old trial attorney I'd say there is probable cause to believe there was coordination.

Wow. Not just evidence but probable cause. For those not up on legalese, probable cause is the legal standard by which a police officer has the right to make an arrest or obtain a warrant for a search or an arrest. This is not a term that any lawyer or politician would make lightly. This means he believes there is enough proof to pursue possible charges against Trump or someone in his campaign and that the charges, combined with the evidence, would be enough to convict in a court of law.

This is not smoke. This is fire.

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

Bernie Sanders Drops A Reality Bomb And Brings Down Trump With One Simple Question

By Jason Easley on Thu, Mar 23rd, 2017 at 1:16 pm
PoliticusUSA

During an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) asked the one question that will bring down the Trump presidency. Sanders asked, “What do the Russians have on Trump?”

Sanders said:

Here is the reality, and the American people understand that there are key people in Trump’s campaign who had very very close ties with Putin’s operation, and I think we’ve got to ask ourselves a very very simple question. How does it happen when you have a gentleman, a person, a leader like Putin who is moving his country in a very authoritarian direction, is not a great respecter of democracy, has engaged in a very imperialistic foreign policy. How does it happen that we had a candidate and a president who had nothing but nice things to say about Mr. Putin?

That sounds pretty strange.

And the question that a lot of people are asking, you don’t have to get into the classified information to raise this question is, what do, if anything, the Russians have on Mr. Trump? What we do know, I believe we know is true is that Trump needed financial help for some of his business efforts, and it appears, and I can’t be definitive about this, that he got some help from the Russian oligarchs in Russia.

Do they have something on him, which is veering him towards a pro-Russian foreign policy at the expense of American interests? Those are the questions that have got to be discussed.

The reality that Sen. Sanders was talking about is the fact that Trump’s Russia tainted presidency hangs over him and the Republican Party like a dark cloud every single day. It is a simple question that the American people deserve to have answered, and it is also the question that could bring down the Trump presidency, and Republicans that conspired with this president to hide his secrets.

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

GOP Smoke Screen Falls Apart: Devin Nunes Won’t Deny The Source For His Wiretap Claim Was Shitstain Trump

By Sarah Jones on Thu, Mar 23rd, 2017 at 12:50 pm
PoliticusUSA

Unable to provide evidence or even say who his "source" is, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) refused to confirm or deny if his "source" was the Trump White House.

Nunes is sorry. So sorry he went to President Trump and the press with “evidence” that Trump was not lying when he falsely accused President Obama of wiretapping him.

Unable to provide evidence or even say who his “source” is, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) refused to confirm or deny if his “source” was the Trump White House. Nunes further said he couldn’t show his committee the information the “source” provided to him.

“At the end of the day, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you don’t,” Nunes said Thursday. “It’s a judgement call on my part,” Nunes said when asked why he raced to the White House with his “evidence” that no one has seen yet instead of, say, sharing it with the intel committee he chairs, and which is investigating Trump for his possible collusion with Russia.

    BREAKING: GOP House intel chair Nunes expresses some regret abt going to press & president before Democrats on his own committee. pic.twitter.com/Gxe2G6DX3j

    — Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) March 23, 2017

If the “source” of his “evidence” wasn’t the Trump White House, which is known for seeing events that never actually happened and standing by these thin conspiracies no matter the facts, it seems like Nunes would have been happy to announce that.

Instead, we have the bomb thrown yesterday to muddy the waters and feed the Trump cult, who still believe that Obama wiretapped Trump and that Nunes’ revelation that there were multiple FISA warrants under which Trump was caught colluding with Russia somehow exonerates him.

Nunes won’t say his source wasn’t the White House and he won’t show anyone his evidence.

This is the person Republicans chose to run the House Intelligence Committee.

Nunes gives all appearances of working as a propaganda machine for President Trump rather than serving as Intel Chair of a very serious investigation that impacts our national security and sovereignty.

Nunes can’t be working to prop up President Trump’s baseless claims while he pretends to be impartial about an investigation that let’s face it, he never should have been in charge of in the first place given his own position on the Trump transition team – the very team his panel is supposed to be investigating.

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

Democrats To Block Gorsuch And Force Republicans To Get 60 Votes For Supreme Court Nominee

By Sarah Jones on Thu, Mar 23rd, 2017 at 12:16 pm
PoliticusUSA

Chuck Schumer was on fire Thursday when he announced his opposition to President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, forcing 60 votes for confirmation.

Democratic Leader Senator Chuck Schumer was on fire Thursday when he announced his opposition to President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, forcing 60 votes for confirmation.

“After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. His nomination will have a cloture vote, he will have to earn sixty votes for confirmation. My vote will be “No.” And I urge my colleagues to do the same,” the top Democrat said, according to the Senator’s floor remarks sent to PoliticusUSA.

“To my Republican friends who think that if Judge Gorsuch fails to reach 60 votes we ought to change the rules I say: if this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees, and President Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules – it’s to change the nominee.”

Schumer laid out the reasons he’s voting no, starting with “Judge Gorsuch was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check on a president who has shown almost no restraint from executive overreach.”

“Second, he was unable to convince me that he would be a mainstream justice who could rule free from the biases of politics and ideology…. And finally, he is someone who almost instinctively favors the powerful over the weak, corporations over working Americans. There could not be a worse time for someone with those instincts.”

Schumer called Gorsuch out for evading questions, “Let me repeat: there is no legal standard, rule or even logic for failing to answer questions that don’t involve immediate and specific cases that are or could come before the court. It is evasion, just evasion, plain and simple. And it belies a deeper truth about this nominee.”

And then Schumer got to the glaring Republican disgrace of their unprecedented and willfully partisan and political obstruction of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, “In the hearings, Judge Gorsuch repeated the hollow assertion that judges don’t have parties or politics. He said there are no “democrat judges or republican judges.” But if that were true, we wouldn’t be here, would we? If that were true, and if the Senate was merely evaluating a nominee based on his or her qualifications, Merrick Garland would be seated on the Supreme Court right now.”

That was a rather brilliant point. We would not be here if Republicans weren’t treating the Supreme Court like a partisan get out the vote tool, or perhaps an offer to Russia tool, which is by extension, it seems, a Republican get out the vote tool.

“Merrick Garland is not a Justice. We all know why. We all know that my friends across the aisle held this Supreme Court seat open, for over a year, in hopes that they would have the opportunity to install someone hand-picked by the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society to advance the goal of big-money interests entrenching their power in the courts.”

Schumer slammed them for proceeding as Donald Trump is under FBI investigation for colluding with a hostile foreign government that attacked the U.S. in an act of war, “They don’t even mind that this nomination is moving forward under the cloud of an FBI investigation of the president’s campaign. The Republicans held a Supreme Court seat open for a year, under a Democratic president, who was under NO investigation, but now are rushing to fill the seat for a president whose campaign is under investigation. It is unseemly and wrong to be moving so fast on a lifetime appointment in such circumstances.”

“That’s all the evidence my colleagues should need to vote no – and I urge them, and will urge them in the days ahead, to do so,” Schumer concluded after a long, detailed explanation about why he doesn’t think Gorusch is fit.

Liberals, Democrats, Independents, and anyone who values tradition, the Constitution, justice, and the sovereignty of the United States should rejoice at Schumer’s stance.

Democrats have limited power to stop Gorsuch, but there is absolutely no justification for moving forward on his confirmation when Trump has already appointed Russian gatekeepers in all other positions of government that might serve as a check to him/Russia.

All investigations into Donald Trump’s campaign and their possible collusion with Russia need to be completed before a lifetime appointment is made by what seems to be a Russian Trojan Horse of a president.

Chuck Schumer is leading Senate Democrats to be the patriots who took a stand for democracy and their country when Republicans would not. It’s not easy for Democrats to say no, and be unwilling to try to make government work. Democrats have a deep belief in the ability of the government to do good, and indeed its responsibility to do good for the people.

This belief has been exploited by Republicans for too long, but Schumer saying no isn’t a petty move. It is a patriotic move, and a courageous move, because it could result in McConnell changing the Senate rules.

But enough with Republican terrorism. Sometimes people need to stand up for what’s right even when it could be very costly. One thing is certain, the majority of the base will be very, very happy with Schumer – as will Independents and those Republicans who are side-eying the current administration and wondering what happened to their party.

 34 
 on: Mar 24, 2017, 05:47 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Have Germany’s Social Democrats found a winner in Martin Schulz?

Party hopes ‘Sankt Martin’ will bring them victory, first in Saarland on Sunday then in Germany’s federal elections in September

Kate Connolly in Berlin
AFP
Friday 24 March 2017 07.00 GMT

Nelson Radames-Strube is a little overwhelmed by all the attention. The 14-year-old is the youngest of new recruits to the Berlin branch of the Social Democrats (SPD) and has been called on to the stage at a welcome party for the newcomers.

He had watched the party’s new leader, Martin Schulz, giving a speech on television after Angela Merkel and decided to join. “I found him more convincing than her, so that’s why I’m here,” he said. “I think he can bring order to the party and to Germany”.

The arrival of “Sankt Martin”, as he has been dubbed, has already seen the SPD, after nearly two decades in which it has haemorrhaged support, boosting the number of its card-carrying members by thousands, while polls have shown voter support has risen by about 10 points.

Even three months ago it would have hardly have seemed possible to seriously contemplate anyone having a chance of beating Merkel. But Schulz, a former president of the European parliament, whose only political role in Germany so far has been that of a provincial mayor, is being seen as a very credible successor in the 24 September federal elections.

Unprecedented in the party’s 153-year history, Schulz received 100% of the votes at a special party conference last Sunday. Kurt Schumacher, the party’s popular postwar leader, only managed to secure 99.71%.

The euphoria the party is feeling across the country at the change in its fortunes was on display in Berlin as 500 new members gathered to celebrate Schulz on Wednesday evening at Festsaal Kreuzberg, a popular cultural venue in the south-east of the capital.

Wearing T-shirts and badges emblazoned with the 61-year-old’s bespectacled, bearded face and the slogan “Time for Martin”, members greeted him like a pop star as he entered the room to chants of “Martin, Martin!” Some carried balloons printed with the words “A breath of fresh air”.

The party is hoping that the so-called “Schulz Effekt” will work its magic when elections take place this weekend in Saarland, Germany’s smallest state. Although home to just 1 million people, it is being seen as something of a miniature Germany where its well-liked 54-year-old conservative prime minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, is a leader very much in the Merkel mould.

The vote is the first electoral test for the resurgent SPD under Schulz’s leadership and its result could offer a foretaste of the federal election when Merkel stands for a fourth term.

Campaigning in the state, Schulz was able to emphasise the man-of-the-people image he has been keen to promote by dropping in on his own relatives for a cup of coffee.

He has stressed the importance, to him, of social justice – Gerechtigkeit – which has become his campaign buzzword. At a time when the widening wealth gap is making itself increasingly felt, he has promised that if elected he will make amendments to Agenda 2010, the labour market reforms introduced by one of his predecessors, Gerhard Schröder, that were largely responsible for the party’s popularity dive.
Chips and sausages fortify Martin Schulz on the campaign trail in Saarland.

Saarland, a former coalmining region on the border with France, which has recreated itself as a relatively successful research and IT hub, has been ruled by the Christian Democrats (CDU) since the mid-1950s, alone or in coalition, except for a 13-year period when it was run byOskar Lafontaine, a politician who switched from the SPDto the far-left Die Linke and campaigned under the slogan: “We’ve paid enough – now it’s the turn of the rich.”

The SPD in Saarland is between only one and five points behind the CDU, in contrast to the 12-point lead the conservatives enjoyed in January. If the SPD won under its candidate, the 40-year-old economic affairs minister – and record-holding shot putter – Anke Rehlinger, it would hope to join forces with Die Linke and the Greens (Die Grünen), a so-called red-red-green formation that also has the potential to work on the national level.

A threat to both mainstream parties is the rightwing populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which, despite experiencing a drop in support recently, is expected to enter Saarland’s parliament for the first time, thereby gaining representation in 11 of Germany’s 16 states.

Schulz, who has been branded a populist but rejects the label, reserves his angriest words for the AfD, calling them “pure and simply a disgrace for Germany”.

On stage, he cuts a surprisingly charismatic figure. He offers a sweeping history lesson of the SPD’s proudest moments, recalling how party members resisted the Enabling Act which gave Adolf Hitler the power, in March 1933, to enact laws without involving parliament, and remembering the historical reconciliatory genuflection of the SPD leader Willy Brandt at the memorial for the Warsaw ghetto uprising in 1970.

“Forty-five per cent of people voted for Brandt in 1972 – 45%!” he says. “Can we repeat that?” At which point, the room erupts with enthusiastic applause.

 35 
 on: Mar 24, 2017, 05:44 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Ethiopia’s deadly rubbish dump landslide was down to politics, not providence

Fadila Bargicho believes divine intervention saved the life of one of her two sons when a landfill site collapsed near Addis Ababa. The reality is more prosaic

William Davison in Addis Ababa
AFP
Friday 24 March 2017 07.00 GMT

It was only a misplaced shoe that prevented Fadila Bargicho from losing a second child when an avalanche of rubbish crushed makeshift houses, killing at least 113 people in Addis Ababa earlier this month.

An impatient Ayider Habesha, nine, had left his older brother searching for his footwear. He headed to religious lessons in a hut next to the towering dump. Ayider was buried alive with his six classmates and teacher when a chunk of the open landfill gave way on the evening of 11 March. His body was recovered two days later.

“He could not find his shoe and that was God’s way of saving one of my children,” Bargicho says of her 16-year-old son, Abdurahim, who usually attended the classes with his brother.

While Bargicho sees divine intervention at play in the incident, the collapse at Reppi landfill was an avoidable, manmade disaster.

In 2013, the French development agency (AFD) gave Addis Ababa’s government 20 million euros (£17.3m) to close and rehabilitate Reppi and build a new landfill site at Sendafa, about 25 miles outside the capital in Oromia state.

Oromia has been engulfed by violence since November 2015. The unrest has been fuelled by concerns over a masterplan to integrate the development of Addis Ababa – a metropolis of about 5 million people – with surrounding Oromo areas. While federal officials insist the blueprint would mean harmonious progress, activists cast it as another land grab that would mean the eviction of thousands more Oromo farmers as the capital expands.

The AFD funding also covers retraining for the hundreds of people who picked through the waste at Reppi for valuable items, some of whom died in the landslide.

When Reppi was established in the 1960s, it was in the countryside. Now it is surrounded by shops and houses, which have encroached on an expanding rubbish mountain.

Rubbish started being sent to Sendafa, rather than Reppi, in January last year. But operations were suspended seven months later after protests by local farmers, who said the Sendafa site was poisoning water and killing livestock.

The trucks returned to Reppi, where rubbish had been dumped without being treated, compacted or otherwise managed for half a century. Authorities knew Reppi was unstable and over capacity when they resumed operations, according to Nega Fantahun, the head of the city government’s solid waste recycling and disposal project office, the responsible agency.

“One cause is the return to Reppi. It’s not the only reason, but it’s one cause, one reason, it aggravates it,” he says of the landslide.

The government hasn’t given up on Sendafa, a joint initiative of the city and Oromia region. But activity at the fenced-off site is limited to work on buildings and other infrastructure. Black sheeting covers a shallow bulge of rubbish to try to reduce the smell. An eight-metre high net was constructed to prevent waste blowing on to adjacent farmland but, when a gust of wind arrives, several plastic scraps soar into the air and tumble over the fence into the fields.

In rolling farmland next to the landfill, local opposition to the project is fierce. Gemechu Tefera, 40, a farmer, says maggots from the landfill have ruined food, cattle have died from toxic water, and a dog brought a human hand back from the site. Consultation was so inadequate that residents thought the site would become an airport, the group claims. “If they come again they will have to go through us. We will continue protesting. They will have to kill us first,” says Tefera.

The French financing included Sendafa’s construction and the closure of 19 hectares (about 47 acres) of Reppi’s 36 hectares between 2011 and 2013. Eventually, the plan is to transform the toxic site into a park. Seven hectares have been set aside for a separately funded $120m (£96m) waste-to energy plant owned by the state electricity company, which could deal with 75% of the city’s rubbish when it becomes operational later this year.

The AFD is waiting for notification from the city government to begin rehabilitating the remaining section of Reppi. That will only begin once the site is no longer being used for dumping, says Shayan Kassim, project manager at the French agency’s Addis Ababa regional office.

According to Kassim, consultants reported that the performance at Sendafa of the city’s contractor, Vinci Construction Grands Projets, was satisfactory and there were no irregularities in dealing with the impact on the community. Vinci worked with AFD and the authorities on improving Sendafa for a year after completion, and the government is undertaking more work following storms that caused some leakage into the nearby environment, he says.

“We know the municipality has had some problems with the landfill during the rainy season and we hope the additional works will correct them.”

The local administration responsible for the new landfill’s location supports the farmers’ pollution claims. Shimallis Abbabaa Jimaa took over as head of Bereke district government last year after the protests. He produced an October 2016 report from Oromia’s government that concluded water in a local well was not potable and the cause could be a river polluted by seepage from Sendafa. The area had been earmarked by the region as a productive cropping area and should not have been selected for waste disposal, says Jimaa.

The promised improvements could mean local acceptance of Sendafa but, given the strength of the resistance, that seems unlikely, he says. “No one agreed with the project so they rose in revolt.”

 36 
 on: Mar 24, 2017, 05:41 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
A river of rubbish: the ugly secret threatening China's most beautiful city

An ‘international tourism destination of peerless beauty’ say the slogans hanging in the streets of Guilin, but one of the scenic city’s rivers has recently been home to sewage and garbage. In a country where environmentalists are charged with anti-government espionage, will the authorities intervene?

Kait Bolongaro and Hangwei Li in Guilin
AFP
Friday 24 March 2017 07.00 GMT

When Jianjun Xu woke up one morning in May 2015, the ground floor of his house in Gongcheng, Guilin, was flooded. After heavy rainstorms, the nearby Cha River swelled, sweeping away hundreds of homes. “The water was up to my knees,” he says. “It smelled awful and there was garbage floating in my living room.”

Xu didn’t understand how the floodwater had reached his street. Anti-flood barriers had been under construction since December 2012. Given the speed of Chinese infrastructure work, he thought the project had been completed. But instead of a construction site, he found a green river, its banks decorated with garbage.

Meanwhile, buses choke Guilin’s main boulevards morning and evening. Led by guides, large groups of tourists take selfies in front of local landmarks, such as the imposing Nengren Temple, and stroll the streets of Guilin’s old town and through its spacious parks. In the evening, they gather to enjoy a daily performance of an ancient opera or join local groups of elderly residents who dance to keep fit.

    I've seen farmers throw dead chickens and pigs into the water, not far from where people are fishing. People ​drink that
    Jianjun Xu

From a rooftop cafe, one can see the Sun and Moon towers on Fir Lake as the city sprawl continues into the distance, giving way to bright green forests and hills, the stunning landscape Guilin is famous for. Throughout the municipality, red banners emblazoned with slogans like “an international tourism destination of peerless beauty” hang strategically, reminding newcomers of Guilin’s millennia-old reputation as China’s most beautiful city.

In nearby Yangshuo and Longsheng, karst peaks dominate a breathtaking landscape. The Li River carries visitors on bamboo rafts through the formations, as water bottles and plastic bits float alongside. Tourism accounted for close to 20% of the city’s economic output in 2015. The local government aims to increase that to over 27% by 2020 as part of their campaign to become China’s ecotourism destination.

“As a less developed province, much of Guangxi remains a natural landscape,” explains Cheng Zhang, South China programme director at the International Union for Conservation of Nature. “This includes a great number of protected areas, such as nature reserves, forests and wetlands, which provide essential ‘nature’ for conducting ecotourism activities.”

Xu, though, isn’t concerned about tourism. As of November 2016, the anti-flood barriers remain unfinished. Construction companies and locals jettison their waste in the informal dumping ground wedged between the waterway, farmland and the city. More worrisome, the Cha River remains green.

“I have seen farmers throw dead chickens and pigs into the water, not far from where people are fishing. People drink that water,” says Xu.

The Guilin municipal government has taken efforts to improve the water quality of the Li River, one of the city’s main attractions. With a $100m (£80m) loan from the World Bank, officials are relocating industries, building wastewater treatment plants and landfills, and fighting pollution. However, the issues of other rivers like the Cha have been overlooked.

“Since leader Deng Xiaoping’s visit in the 1970s, the Li River has been a priority for the government because of its beauty,” says Ma Jun. “However, other rivers in Guilin are suffering from breakneck urbanisation and are more polluted and facing challenges. They are in less developed areas with weak sewage management and infrastructure.”

Greenpeace China told the Guardian that one third of the country’s rivers are contaminated. According to a report from the ministry of water resources in April 2016, 80% of shallow ground water wells are also polluted.

“In cities, you have wastewater from sewage, shops, factories and agriculture, which add other pollutants like persistent organics and heavy metals. It’s usually not fit for drinking or for crops,” explains Dr Wolfgang Kinzelbach from the Institute of Environmental Engineering in Zurich, Switzerland, an expert on China’s water management.

Despite Beijing’s increased transparency with air pollution, water pollution remains a taboo in China. Prominent environmentalists have been charged with espionage for speaking out about the situation. Many Chinese scientists who have studied water pollution in Guilin refused to be interviewed. “I’m not that brave. I don’t want to offend the government,” said one.

“Mining in the mountainous area in Guangxi [Guilin’s province] is a serious problem and it is an major reason why very clean water becomes polluted,” says Ma.

    Water pollution causes birth defects, cancer, sterility … China is sacrificing a generation
    Dr Devra Davis

A 2016 study found that the Qingshitan reservoir, an important source of Guilin’s reservoir, was polluted, reporting above average nitrogen and organic carbon content. The report credits agricultural, industrial and domestic sources as the pollution culprits.

The results revealed that the water had an intermediate level of eutrophication, an excessive richness of nutrients that causes a dense growth of algae and suffocates animals such as fish. It also turns water green.

Eutrophication may lead to blooms of algae that can harm the liver and nervous system, explains Dr Urs von Gunten, an expert on China water resources from the Laboratory for Water Quality and Treatment in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Activists are concerned about the consequences of water pollution on the Chinese population. “Cancer villages” – small communities near polluting factories where cancer rates have soared far above the national average – have sprung up across the country.

“It takes a long time to restore river ecology when such pollution has occurred, meaning that generations could be affected by the pollution,” says Deng Tingting, toxics campaigner for Greenpeace East Asia.

In the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, where Guilin is located, a study of boarding schools found that drinking polluted water caused 80% of outbreaks of water-borne diseases.

“The range of human health impacts from water pollution extends from damage to the reproductive system, birth defects, cancer, sterility, as well as a whole host of neurological and cardiac diseases,” says Dr Devra Davis, an epidemiologist at the Environmental Health Trust. “China is sacrificing a generation because of this pollution issue.”

Back in Gongcheng, a farmer named Meng tends his crops on the banks of the Cha. Plastic bags and discarded household items line his property. “I am not worried about pollution,” he says. “I use the river water for my vegetables and they taste fine. My customers at the market never complain.”

Xu is less at ease with the situation. “Why is the water still green? Why is there garbage here instead of anti-flood barriers?” he asks with a deep sigh.

As part of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade, local officials have come under scrutiny from the central government. A source close to the local government says that in order to woo visiting national delegations, the municipal government organises outings to specific areas that flatter local officers, such as Hongyan and Aizhai.

Before an official visit from vice premier Wang Yang in 2015, a road to Hongyan was completed. “I find the timing suspicious,” says Xu.

“Local governments must take greater responsibility for protecting China’s water environment,” says Tingting, the activist from Greenpeace.

There are signs that the threat posed by water pollution is being taken seriously. Beijing launched the Water Ten Plan in 2015, with the target that 93% of the country’s water sources should reach national standards by 2020. Municipalities are testing different energy alternatives, such as sludge-to-energy projects. Citizens can also report polluted rivers to the government via the Blue Sky app.

Such efforts may be too little, too late. “There is no solution that fits all problems,” says Von Gunten. “In my opinion, the protection of water resources is the most important factor.”

Others remain optimistic. “Change is not going to happen overnight, but China has promised it will tackle pollution as resolutely as it has tackled poverty,” says Debra Tan, who works for not-for-profit group China Water Risk.

On the banks of the Cha River, Xu is concerned that water pollution will worsen before any real change happens. He seems resigned.

“In Chinese, we have a saying: ‘People can always find a way to cope with government policies,’” he says. “I guess this pollution is something we are going to have to live with.”

 37 
 on: Mar 24, 2017, 05:36 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Stunning 'new' cloud formations captured in updated atlas – in pictures

Roll clouds and wave-like asperitas are among the additions to the new digital International Cloud Atlas, that dates back to the 19th century. It features hundreds of images captured by meteorologists and cloud lovers from around the world

    Have you seen any of the “new” cloud formations?

Thursday 23 March 2017 12.35 GMT
Guardian

Click to see all: https://www.theguardian.com/science/gallery/2017/mar/23/stunning-new-cloud-formations-captured-in-updated-atlas-in-pictures

 38 
 on: Mar 24, 2017, 05:34 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
‘Moore’s law’ for carbon would defeat global warming

A plan to halve carbon emissions every decade, while green energy continues to double every five years, provides a simple but rigorous roadmap to tackle climate change, scientists say

Damian Carrington
AFP
Thursday 23 March 2017 18.00 GMT

A new “carbon law”, modelled on Moore’s law in computing, has been proposed as a roadmap for beating climate change. It sees carbon emissions halving every decade, while green energy continues to double every five years.

The carbon law’s proponents are senior climate-change scientists and they argue it provides a simple, broad but quantitative plan that could drive governments and businesses to make urgently needed carbon cuts, particularly at a time when global warming is falling off the global political agenda.

Christiana Figueres, who as the then UN’s climate chief delivered the landmark Paris climate change deal in 2015, said: “The carbon law for keeping us on track with Paris – something we can all follow – is such a valuable contribution at this critical time.”

Moore’s law is the observation that innovation doubles the number of transistors on a computer chip about every two years and it has held true for 50 years. The researchers behind the carbon law say similar laws of exponential growth can already be seen in clean energy.

“We are already at the start of this trajectory. In the last decade, the share of renewables in the energy sector has doubled every 5.5 years. If doubling continues at this pace fossil fuels will exit the energy sector well before 2050,” said Johan Rockström, at Stockholm University in Sweden, the lead author of an article published in the journal Science which sets out the carbon law.

The researchers also set out milestones for each decade, with coal disappearing by 2030, and oil by 2040. “It is both a tale of extreme urgency, reminding the world community of what was agreed [in Paris], and also saying it’s not more difficult than it was establishing Moore’s law in IT which came through investment, innovation and economies of scale,” said Prof John Schellnhuber, at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, another author of the article and who has advised Angela Merkel, the Pope and the EU.

He said the aim of the carbon law was to provide “a really compelling story of how decarbonisation can be achieved”, and to bridge the gap between the pledges made by nations in Paris and what will be needed in the long term to keep global warming well below the danger limit of 2C.

“Short-termism has been a problem for all the 25 years I have been involved in climate negotiations,” Schellnhuber said. “This has exacerbated in 2016 and 2017. The climate issue has disappeared from the radar screens of the international policy makers.”

However, the carbon law shows how global warming can be beaten, said Gareth Redmond-King at WWF: “It’s important to remember that there is genuine hope. This inspiring vision of change reaffirms that we still have time, provided we commit to serious, ambitious and urgent action to control our environmental impact. Every journey, however long and complicated, is easier with a clear map.”

The carbon law and accompanying roadmap sees what the authors call “no-brainer” policies in place by 2020, including ending the huge subsidies enjoyed by fossil fuels, a $50 per tonne price on carbon emissions and a crackdown on energy efficiency.

The 2020s are the most challenging decade on the route to a zero emissions world in 2050, said Schellnhuber, as both coal and polluting vehicles have to be phased out at the same time as new clean technology is developed to be deployed in the 2030s. This could include building on pilot projects already underway, such as developing new materials to replace concrete in buildings, and superconducting electricity grids.

Schellnhuber believes all this is possible, saying India will lead the coal phase-out in favour of solar and that no country will allow new combustion engine cars on the road by 2030: “I talk to the CEOs of big car companies and they know the time of the combustion engine is over, in particular for the diesel engine.”

He said potential solutions already exist across all sectors, but that ambition was needed in every area to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. “What we are saying [in the article] is that if you play your cards right, you win the game – all the jokers and high value cards are in the pack already.”

Prof Chris Rapley, a climate scientist at University College London, said: “The article performs a helpful function by offering a way to re-express the Paris goal in practical terms that defines what those actions would need to achieve, ie halving emissions each decade plus building up capacity to draw down CO2 from the free atmosphere. There are other possibilities, but the idea of a ‘Moore’s Law’ analogue is quite attractive.”

However, Rapley cautioned against scientists being too prescriptive in the policies governments should adopt, which could make it easier for those opposed to climate action to dismiss the analysis. Setting out the scale and pace of carbon cuts needed and then helping various sectors such as energy and transport make their decisions could be more effective, he said.

 39 
 on: Mar 24, 2017, 05:32 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Europe poised for total ban on bee-harming pesticides

Exclusive: Draft regulations seen by the Guardian reveal the European commission wants to prohibit the insecticides that cause ‘acute risks to bees’

Damian Carrington
AFP
Thursday 23 March 2017 16.20 GMT

The world’s most widely used insecticides would be banned from all fields across Europe under draft regulations from the European commission, seen by the Guardian.

The documents are the first indication that the powerful commission wants a complete ban and cite “high acute risks to bees”. A ban could be in place this year if the proposals are approved by a majority of EU member states.

Bees and other pollinators are vital for many food crops but have been declining for decades due to habitat loss, disease and pesticide use. The insecticides, called neonicotinoids, have been in use for over 20 years and have been linked to serious harm in bees.

A fierce battle has been fought between environmental campaigners and farming and pesticides groups. The latter argue the insecticides are vital for crop protection and that opposition is to them is political.

The EU imposed a temporary ban on the use of the three key neonicotinoids on some crops in 2013. However, the new proposals are for a complete ban on their use in fields, with the only exception being for plants entirely grown in greenhouses. The proposals could be voted on as soon as May and, if approved, would enter force within months.

The 2013 ban went ahead after those nations opposing the measure, including the UK, failed to muster enough votes. However, since then, the UK government seems to have softened its opposition, having rejected repeated requests from British farmers for “emergency” authorisation to use the banned pesticides.

“The amount of scientific evidence on the toxicity of these insecticides is so high that there is no way these chemicals should remain on the market,” said Martin Dermine, at Pesticide Action Network Europe, which obtained the leaked proposals and shared them with the Guardian. “PAN Europe will fight with its partners to obtain support for the proposal from a majority of member states.” A petition to ban neonicotinoids, from Avaaz, has gathered 4.4m signatures.

There is a strong scientific consensus that bees are exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides in fields and suffer serious harm from the doses they receive. There is only a little evidence to date that this harm ultimately leads to falls in overall bee populations, though results from major field trials are expected soon.

However, the European commission (EC) has decided to move towards implementing a complete ban now, based on risk assessments of the pesticides by the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), published in 2016.

Efsa considered evidence submitted by the pesticide manufacturers but the EC concluded that “high acute risks for bees” had been identified for “most crops” from imidacloprid and clothianidin, both made by Bayer. For thiamethoxam, made by Syngenta, the EC said the company’s evidence was “not sufficient to address the risks”.

Paul de Zylva, at Friends of the Earth, said: “The science is catching up with the pesticide industry – the EU and UK government must call time on neonics. Going neonic-free puts farmers more in control of their land instead of having to defer to advice from pesticide companies.”

However, Sarah Mukherjee, chief executive of the Crop Protection Association, which represents pesticide makers, said: “We are disappointed with this [EC] proposal, which seems more of a political judgement than sound science.”

She said the Efsa assessments were based on what the CPA sees as unworkable guidance that did not have formal approval from EU countries: “The proposal is based on an assessment using the unapproved Bee Guidance document and perfectly illustrates the consequences of using this guidance. Most crop protection products, including those used in organic agriculture, would not pass the criteria.”

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of the charity Buglife, welcomed the proposed ban: “Efsa confirmed over 70 high risks from neonicotinoid treated cereal seeds.” He said the pesticides can persist in soils and that the ban should also cover greenhouses as a precaution.

Earlier in March, UN food and pollution experts issued a severely critical report on pesticides, arguing that it was a myth they were needed to feed the world and calling for a new global convention to control their use. “Given the failure of the pesticide industry to address, or even acknowledge, the ecological disaster caused by neonicotinoid pesticides, we agree that there is an urgent need for a new global convention,” said Shardlow.

 40 
 on: Mar 24, 2017, 05:30 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Breitbart's James Delingpole says reef bleaching is 'fake news', hits peak denial

Graham Readfearn

A claim like this takes lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Shitstain Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at

Guardian
Friday 24 March 2017 01.50 GMT

It takes a very special person to label the photographed, documented, filmed and studied phenomenon of mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef “fake news”.

You need lashings of chutzpah, blinkers the size of Donald Trump’s hairspray bill and more hubris than you can shake a branch of dead coral at.

It also helps if you can hide inside the bubble of the hyper-partisan Breitbart media outlet, whose former boss is the US president’s chief strategist.

So our special person is the British journalist James Delingpole who, when he’s not denying the impacts of coral bleaching, is denying the science of human-caused climate change, which he says is “the biggest scam in the history of the world”.

Delingpole was offended this week by an editorial in the Washington Post that read: “Humans are killing the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, and there’s nothing Australians on their own can do about it. We are all responsible.”

Delingpole wrote:

    Like the thriving polar bear, like the recovering ice caps, like the doing-just-fine Pacific islands, the Great Barrier Reef has become a totem for the liberal-left not because it’s in any kind of danger but because it’s big and famous and photogenic and lots and lots of people would be really sad if it disappeared. But it’s not going to disappear. That’s just a #fakenews lie designed to promote the climate alarmist agenda.

Now before we go on, let’s deal with some language here.

When we talk about the reef dying, what we are talking about are the corals that form the reef’s structure – the things that when in a good state of health can be splendorous enough to support about 69,000 jobs in Queensland and add about $6bn to Australia’s economy every year.

The Great Barrier Reef has suffered mass coral bleaching three times – in 1998, 2002 and 2016 – with a fourth episode now unfolding. The cause is increasing ocean temperatures.

“Is the Great Barrier Reef dying due to climate change caused by man’s selfishness and greed?” asks Delingpole, before giving a long list of people and groups who he thinks will answer yes, including “the Guardian” and “any marine biologist”.

“Have they been out there personally – as I have – to check. No of course not,” says Delingpole.

Yes. James Delingpole has been out there “personally” to check, but all those other people haven’t. He doesn’t say when he went but he has written about one trip before. It was back in late April 2012. Everything was fine, he said, based on that one visit. I can’t find any times when he has mentioned another trip since.

So here’s the rhetorical question – one that I can barely believe I’m asking, even rhetorically.

Why should there not be equivalence between Delingpole’s single trip to the reef (apparently taken 10 years after a previous severe case of bleaching and four years before the one that followed) at one spot on a reef system that spans the size of Italy [takes breath] and the observations of scientists from multiple institutions diving at 150 different locations to verify observations taken by even more scientists in low-flying aircraft traversing the entire length of the reef?

I mean, come on? Why can those two things – Delingpole making a boat trip with mates and a coordinated and exhaustive scientific monitoring and data-gathering exercise – not be the same?

So it seems we are now at a stage where absolutely nothing is real unless you have seen it for yourself, so you can dismiss all of the photographs and video footage of bleached and dead coral, the testimony of countless marine biologists (who, we apparently also have to point out, have been to the reef ) and the observations made by the government agency that manages the reef.

Senator Pauline Hanson and her One Nation climate science-denying colleagues tried to pull a similar stunt last year by taking a dive on a part of the reef that had escaped bleaching and then claiming this as proof that everything was OK everywhere else.

This is like trying to disprove to a doctor that you have two broken legs by showing him an MRI scan of your head (which may or not reveal the presence of a brain), and then being annoyed when he doesn’t accept your evidence.

It’s as though we’ve reached peak denial.

Last year’s bleaching on the reef was the worst episode recorded to date. The current fourth mass bleaching has scientists again taking to the field.

This month a study published in Nature, and co-authored by 46 scientists, found these three episodes had impacted reefs “across almost the entire Great Barrier Reef marine park”. Only southern offshore reefs had escaped.

Corals bleach when they are exposed to abnormally high ocean temperatures for too long. Under stress, the corals expel the algae that give them their colour and more of their nutrients.

Corals can recover but, as the study explains, even the fastest growing and most vigorous colonisers in the coral family need between 10 and 15 years to recover.

After the 2016 bleaching, a quarter of all corals on the reef, mostly located in the once “pristine” northern section, died before there was a chance for recovery.

In a further blow, the study looked at factors such as improving water quality or reducing fishing pressure and asked if these had helped corals to resist bleaching. In each case, they found they did not (although they do give reefs that survive a better chance to recover).

Essentially, the study found the only measure that would give corals on the reef a fighting chance was to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The lead author of the study, Prof Terry Hughes of James Cook University (who is this week carrying out aerial surveys of the current bleaching episode), told my Positive Feedback podcast:

    We can’t climate-proof reefs. Sure, there’s stuff we need to do be doing locally around water quality and fisheries management, but doing these two things alone is not going to protect the reefs in the long term. The elephant in the room here is climate change.

Some commentators have suggested a key cause of the 2016 bleaching was the El Niño weather pattern that tends to deliver warmer global temperatures.

But Hughes says that before 1998, the Great Barrier Reef went through countless El Niños without suffering the extensive mass bleaching episodes that are being seen, photographed, filmed and documented now.

Dr Mark Eakin, head of Coral Reef Watch at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the cause of the modern-day mass bleaching episodes on reefs across the world was the rise in ocean temperatures.

This, says Eakin, is “being driven largely by humans and our burning of fossil fuels”.

Government ministers at federal and state levels, of both political stripes, claim they want to protect the reef.

They are running this protection racket, somehow, by continuing to support plans for a coalmine that will be the biggest in the country’s history.

That’s some more hubris right there.

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