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« Reply #3600 on: Oct 21, 2016, 06:02 AM »

Global warming continues; 2016 will be the hottest year ever recorded

We will soon see a three-peat of record hot annual global temperatures

July 2016 was the hottest month every recorded according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).

John Abraham
Friday 21 October 2016 11.00 BST

We know the world is warming – no factor can explain it aside from human emissions of greenhouse gases. Despite this, people who deny the basic facts of climate change have tried to argue that the Earth is either not warming or is only slowly heating. Well that just isn’t true anymore. The last three years are the nail in the coffin of the deniers of climate change. We have enough data this year to call 2016 as the hottest year ever record – and we have three more months left to go.

So, just how hot is 2016? Well my early predictions are shown in the graph below. I have taken temperature data from NASA and superimposed my predictions for 2016 – it isn’t even close. And by the way, it doesn’t matter whose data you use (NASA, NOAA, JMA, Hadley Centre) the results are the same. 2016 is going to blow 2015 out of the water.

A few things to note. First, these temperatures are surface temperatures that are taken across the globe. But, you can measure temperatures elsewhere and see the same result. Most importantly, measurements in the oceans, where 93% of the extra heat is stored are the best proof of global warming. I recently coauthored an open-access paper on this very topic which interested readers can get here.

You can measure sea level rise as the heated water expands, you can measure ice loss across the globe, you can measure temperatures in the lower part of the atmosphere. It doesn’t matter where; the story is the same.

What is the big deal? Well first of all, 2016 blows away 2015 which was previously the hottest year ever and that had beaten 2014 as the hottest year ever – call this a three-peat. Three records in a row and the last two are by large margins. Does this mean global warming all of a sudden has gotten worse?

No, surface temperatures fluctuate a lot – you can see that in the figure. Temperatures will go up or down from year to year without apparent reason. This is why we are interested in the long term trends. This is also why we are interested in looking at other measures of warming (especially in the oceans). All of our measurements agree with each other – we know the Earth was warming long before this set of records began falling in 2014.

One thing these temperatures can do is enable us to compare computer models with measurements. We’ve seen that models have done an excellent job of correctly predicting the rate of heating of the Earth. My own research shows that in the oceans, the models are slightly under-predicting the rate of heating.

To compare models and measurements at the Earth’s surface, I’ve borrowed a figure from Dr. Gavin Schmidt of Nasa and I’ve overlaid the 2016 surface temperatures. A star shows where 2016 will be. The star should be compared to the three heavy dashed lines in the figure. The upper and lower dashed lines show the uncertainty in the models and the middle dashed line shows the average.

Is the 2016 data within the upper and lower lines? Yes it is.

Is the 2016 data close to the middle dashed line? Yes again. In fact, the 2016 temperatures are above the average which means the models under-predicted the temperature of 2016.

Before we get too anxious, it is almost certain that 2017 will be cooler than 2016. In fact, we may not set another record for a few years. But just as a few hot years doesn’t prove global warming, a few cooler years wont disprove it. The long-term trend is clearer upwards through and the models are spot on.

All this aside, there are still things we can do to bend the arc of this curve. There are actions we can take as individuals and as collectives to reduce our emissions and our dependence on polluting fuels. That message is, and continues to be, the most important one.

But one thing we cannot do is deny facts.

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« Reply #3601 on: Oct 21, 2016, 06:05 AM »

Law to cut sex-selective abortions in Armenia 'putting lives at risk'

Government introduces waiting time after warning that high level of terminations of female foetuses was causing a demographic crisis

Florence Low in Yerevan
Friday 21 October 2016 12.28 BST

A new law designed to cut the high rate of sex-selective abortions in Armenia is inadequate, limiting women’s reproductive choices and putting lives at risk, according to women’s rights groups.

The ex-Soviet country, with a population of just under three million, has the third highest rate of abortion of female foetuses in the world, behind China and Azerbaijan.

In August the government outlawed sex-selective terminations in response to pressure both from the international community and the United Nations Population Fund (Unfpa), which warned of an impending demographic crisis because of the number of foetuses being aborted due to their gender.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union rates of sex-selection have risen in Armenia, meaning that while approximately 105 boys were born for every 100 girls (around the natural rate) in 1991, by 2015 the figure had changed to 115 boys for every 100 girls.

Under the new law, a woman seeking an abortion must attend a counselling session with her doctor and then wait for three days for the procedure. The government says this is to allow doctors to pass on information about the dangers of abortion.

But local women’s rights activists have criticised the new rules for keeping the burden of choice on the woman and warn that, instead of curbing the practice, the law could actually limit access to safe reproductive care and force women into choosing riskier forms of abortion.

Ani Jilozian at the Women’s Support Centre in the capital, Yerevan, says the law is a “band-aid solution” that focuses on reducing sex-selective abortions without addressing the causes: poor socio-economic conditions and patriarchal values.

“In traditional Armenian families, daughters-in-law move in with their husband’s family … [and] the eldest son is the one to care for the parents,” says Jilozian. In a country with almost no social security net, this tradition means boys remain the favoured offspring.

Soviet legacy

Armenia’s long history of easy access to abortion is one of the legacies of the Soviet Union, which was the first state to legalise the procedure in 1921. A widespread mistrust of contraception means abortion has remained the primary method of birth control.

Armenia’s birthrate has also dropped in the post-Soviet period: at present, 1.5 children are born per family, compared with 2.5 in the 1980s, according to birth registration figures collected by the UNFPA. And if a family plans to have only one or two children, there is more pressure to ensure one of them will be a boy, Jilozian explains.

Economic hardship and the arrival by the end of the 1990s of sonogram technology, which can predict a foetus’s sex , are also said to be contributing factors to the rise.

Such is the scale of the problem in Gegharkunik, a region in the east of the country, that the Women’s Resource Centre Armenia (WRCA) has instigated a campaign against gender-based violence, which included discussions on sex-selective abortion.

Women they spoke to described the pressure they were under to produce boys. One said that her first child was a daughter, but then she had four abortions before she conceived a son.

    Women are going to continue to have sex-selective abortions, but the risk of unsafe abortions is a lot higher'

Another woman said she had paid 150,000 drams (£260), the average monthly salary in Armenia, for an illegal abortion. The current legal limit for a termination is 12 weeks, after which it is only allowed for certain “social” reasons, such as if the woman was raped or is a single mother.

Others claimed doctors asked pregnant woman if they wanted to abort their female foetus, and for a fee offered to perform the procedure at home.

Jilozian is dubious about whether a law on its own will help women like those the WRCA spoke to in Gegharkunik. Without an overhaul of the patriarchal social structures “women are going to continue to have sex-selective abortions at the same rate, but the risk of having unsafe abortions is a lot higher”, she argues.

Human rights lawyer Gabriel Armas-Cardona is also concerned that the mandatory waiting period in the bill is in contravention of human rights concerning access to healthcare. “UNFPA … is adamant that something needs to be done to the point where they’ll even accept policies that violate human rights,” he says.

For Lara Aharonian, co-founder of the WRCA, the focus on the abortion procedure is misplaced. She believes sex-selective abortion should be seen as part of a broader problem with gender inequality in Armenia.

“If you really want to eradicate sex-selective abortion, you go to the core of the problem,” she says. “How boys and girls are raised differently, the gender roles, breaking gender stereotypes.”

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« Reply #3602 on: Oct 21, 2016, 06:08 AM »

Kenya lights the way for beleaguered youth of sub-Saharan Africa

Inaugural global youth development index identifies sub-Saharan region as worst in world for young people on health, education and employment

Ben Quinn
Friday 21 October 2016 11.02 BST   

Kenya has made the greatest strides in improving the conditions of young people over the past five years, according to a new index of global youth development.

Together with four other sub-Saharan countries – South Africa, Niger, Togo and Malawi – Kenya made the largest gains globally across a range of criteria, from health to political participation. However, sub-Saharan Africa still trailed all other regions in the global youth development index, produced by the Commonwealth and covering 183 countries.

Young people in Pakistan, Angola and Haiti experienced the greatest decline in conditions over the past five years according to the list, which is based on the UN’s human development index but focuses exclusively on people aged 15 to 29.

The index, published at a time when the number of young people in the world stands at an unprecedented 1.8 billion – nearly 87% of whom live in poor countries – gives civic and political participation equal weighting with health, education and employment.

Designed to fill a gap in global development studies, the list offers a message of optimism as well as a warning. A “youth bulge” in poor countries presents an opportunity, in the form of potential socio-economic gains from labour and savings, but there is also a risk of missed opportunities.

“A failure to capitalise on this ‘demographic dividend’ … could bring untold misery to families, communities and entire countries as the youth cohort instead becomes disenfranchised and disillusioned,” said the compilers of the index, who warn that many countries have limited time to make the most of the youth bulge.

The 10 countries with the lowest youth development scores were all in sub-Saharan Africa, which the UN has identified as the only global region that will have a more youthful population in 2050 than it does today.

But while falling youth mortality rates have been key to sub-Saharan Africa making a 12% improvement on health and wellbeing – worldwide, the greatest improvement in those areas – the region continues to trail significantly. It scored below the global average in four of the five areas covered by the index, but was a fraction above the global average on political participation.

Hopes that the region’s youth might drive future economic growth are likely to be further dampened by the revelation that they fared much worse than others over the course of the global financial crisis. A deterioration in the youth-to-adult unemployment ratio worldwide had a disproportionate impact on sub-Saharan Africa.

Regionally, youth development apparently worsened most markedly in Angola and Chad, which respectively declined by 11% and 7%. Central African Republic recorded the world’s lowest score.

At the other end of the scale, Germany ranked top for youth development, followed by Denmark, Australia, Switzerland and the UK. The only country in the top 30 that was not a high-income economy was Costa Rica, which scored particularly well then it came to health and wellbeing and political participation.

The Middle East was the only region to show a decline in political participation in the period between 2010 and 2015, despite the Arab spring. However, the region performed particularly strongly in areas such as health.

Israel was ranked highest in the Middle East for health and wellbeing, while Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia – none of which are democracies – also scored very highly overall.

Russia and Eurasia made the worst progress in youth development between 2010 and 2015, although what was described as an “impressive” rate of improvement in Kazakhstan was linked to a reduction in mental health rates and improvements in youth policy.

Joseph Muscat, prime minister of Malta and chair-in-office of the Commonwealth, said youth development could be achieved, even in low-income countries, by providing quality education and training.

“Health and wellbeing are also factors that weigh heavily in youth development, and world leaders need to focus more on promoting mental and sexual health, as well as education and nutrition,” said Muscat.

Deep inequalities in youth development persist in many countries, the report warned. The largest gaps were identified in education and health and wellbeing.

For example, the proportion of youth infected with HIV was, on average, eight times higher in countries with low index scores than countries that scored highly, such as European states where the issue has become less of a priority in recent times. Youth mortality rates were on average five times higher in countries that performed poorly in the index than in those that came very high.

Young women continued to make up the overwhelming majority of illiterate youth in the world. Female literacy rates among young women were as low as 15% in some countries, while the lowest male literacy rate was 35%. However, the report identified concerns about data limitations that made it difficult to disaggregate statistics by gender.

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« Reply #3603 on: Oct 21, 2016, 06:11 AM »

Police and hired assassins are killing land rights defenders. Let's end this violence

Globally, last year was the deadliest on record for environmental campaigners. States and investors must take steps to tackle this human rights crisis

Michel Forst
The author is UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
Friday 21 October 2016 12.30 BST   

As demand for food, fuel and commodities cranks up pressure on land, companies are all too often striking deals with state officials without the consent of the people who live on it. But the stakes are high for anyone who tries to resist this pressure. Last year was the deadliest on record in terms of defending land, forests and rivers against industries like mining, hydro-electricity, agribusiness and logging. According to Global Witness, more than three people were killed each week in 2015 by police, private security or hired assassins.

At the UN general assembly on Friday, I will present a report setting out the vital steps that governments, companies and investors must take to tackle and end this hidden crisis.

Attacks on human rights defenders are a global problem, playing out across continents. It is a cruel irony that the men and women who are brave enough to fight for the protection of our planet are being assailed, threatened or criminalised. Governments rarely investigate the murders of environmental defenders or punish those responsible.

Take Michelle Campos, for example. She says her father, grandfather and school teacher were executed in front of their family and friends in an attack that drove 3,000 indigenous Filipinos from their homes. All three had protested against the destructive impact of mining on their land. Rich in coal, gold and nickel, the region of Mindanao in the Philippines is one of the most dangerous places in the world for environmental activism, with 25 deaths in 2015 alone.

A new approach is needed, to tackle the root causes of the problem rather than its symptoms. Once a project is under way it can be hard to dampen disputes over land and the environment. Authorities and businesses are eager to see a return on their investment and wield more power than local communities, who are often marginalised in the first place.

My report advocates a preventative approach, one that puts communities at the centre of decisions about the use of their land. Consulting people at the outset will make them less likely to encounter threats further down the line. Their input and expertise will shape projects, making them more sustainable, less destructive and ultimately more profitable for the communities, businesses and states involved, as tensions and violence are prevented.

Governments will play a key role in this. Only 22 states have ratified the International Labour Organisation’s convention on the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous people regarding the use of their resources, and far fewer stay true to their commitments. This has to change. Governments must also make it easier for civil society to gain access to information about planned or potential projects.

Persecution and violence: life for minority and indigenous communities – in pictures:

Companies, meanwhile, need to reverse their terrible track record and ensure they carry out impact assessments before they start developing land, to assess what the social and environmental cost might be and how to mitigate it. These documents should be made public and companies should actively seek meaningful input from the communities who will be affected, whether or not the state obliges them to do so.

International financial institutions are increasingly making commitments to responsible financing, which is laudable. However, as backers of numerous projects involving attacks against environmental defenders, bodies such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank must use their significant influence to ensure that their own activities – and those of their borrowers – aren’t fuelling violence.

Finally, trade agreements with countries where environmental defenders are under threat should contemplate measures to prevent, investigate and remedy violations against activists. Specific cases of defenders at risk should be raised publicly or through diplomatic channels, as is currently – but inconsistently – the case in countries where EU guidelines on defenders are implemented. States need to legislate at home to rein in the abuses of their businesses abroad.

In a resource-constrained world heading towards a climate emergency, we urgently need to rethink our approach to land use, which pivots on short-term profit regardless of human and environmental cost. Working more closely with environmental defenders is not just about protecting individual lives; it’s about protecting our planet.

• Michel Forst is the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

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« Reply #3604 on: Oct 21, 2016, 06:14 AM »

The world's future hinges on supporting 10-year-old girls, says UN

Daline, 10, from Yaoundé, loves learning. Safeguarding her development, and that of 65 million other girls of her age, could shape the world, claims a new study

Liz Ford
Thursday 20 October 2016 13.32 BST

Ten-year-old Daline enjoys reading, dancing and using her mother’s make up. And she loves school. Her favourite subject is chemistry.

“When I was at primary school, my favourite subject was history,” she says. “But now that I am at secondary school, my new favourite subject is chemistry because it is easy to understand, because chemicals are easy to make, and because I love science.”

Daline, who will turn 11 next month, lives with her parents and two younger brothers in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé.

She does some housework – “I wash plates, clean the floor and the compound, and sometimes I cook food” – but so does her brother, who “helps me to sweep the floor”. She definitely prefers going to school to staying at home.

But on the cusp of adolescence, the support received by Daline – and the 65 million other 10-year-old girls around the world – over the coming years will have a huge bearing not only on her life, but also on the future of her country and the global economy.

According to the UN population fund’s (UNFPA) state of the world population 2016 report, published on Thursday, the future of 10-year-old girls will shape our collective futures. Getting girls through secondary school could reap billions of dollars a year for poorer countries, claims the study.

But the hurdles girls face in reaching adulthood are significant.

Globally, twice as many girls as boys will never start school. Girls are also more likely to be married young than boys. And millions of girls are at risk of FGM.

The report found that 10% of five- to 14-year-old girls do more than 28 hours of household chores a week, twice that of boys. The authors said that more than half of the world’s 10-year-old girls live in the 48 countries with the worst gender inequality records.

    What the world looks like in 2030 depends on doing everything we can to ignite the potential of 10-year-old girls today
    Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director, UNFPA

Each year of education delivers an additional 11.7% increase in wages in later life for girls (compared with 9.6% for men), added the study, which calculated that if all the 10-year-old girls in poorer countries completed secondary education, a $21bn (£17bn) annual dividend would be triggered. In some countries this could translate to individual earnings increasing by half by 2030.

Governments, NGOs and multilateral organisations must make investments in girls an urgent priority, said the report’s authors, who also urged the dismantling of social systems that confine women to the home and called for a commitment to “increasing the presence, visibility and agency of women and girls in the public spheres of school and work”.

The study said the life trajectory of a 10-year-old girl would be the ultimate test of the success or failure of the 17 sustainable development goals, adopted by the UN general assembly last year. The goals promise to eliminate extreme poverty, get all children through primary and secondary school, end all discrimination against all girls and women and eliminate harmful practices, such as FGM and child marriage.

“This cohort of 10-year-olds … represents both a challenge and an opportunity for the global community, and will have a significant role to play in what the future represents,” said the authors.

“The ability of institutions, both local and global, to help prepare 10-year-olds for their transition through adolescence to adulthood, particularly in terms of safeguarding their emotional and cognitive development, health and rights, will shape the degree to which this generation is able to maximise its potential and become drivers of positive change at the local and global levels.”

The UNFPA’s executive director, Babatunde Osotimehin, said impeding a girl’s safe, healthy path through adolescence to a productive and autonomous adulthood was a “violation of her rights”.

“What the world will look like in 15 years will depend on our doing everything in our power to ignite the potential of a 10-year-old girl today. But it also takes a toll on her community and nation. Whenever a girl’s potential goes unrealised, we all lose,” he said.

“How we invest in and support 10-year-old girls today will determine what our world will look like in 2030. With support from family, community and nation, and the full realisation of her rights, a 10-year-old girl can thrive and help bring about the future we all want.”

Daline has just started secondary school. She has yet to decide what job she wants to do when she’s older, but she is certain of the world in which she wants to live.

“I want to work in a society where I may help children who are abandoned or maltreated or homeless, so that they will no longer be alone.”

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« Reply #3605 on: Oct 21, 2016, 06:17 AM »

Czech Republic claims propaganda war by Russia and sets up counter-effort

Interior minister says pro-Moscow disinformation network has sprung up on Czech soil and ‘we want to get into every smartphone’ to defeat it

Staff and agencies in Prague
Friday 21 October 2016 03.06 BST

The Czech government has accused Russia of conducting a propaganda war on its soil and is setting up a unit to counter what it says are networks of pro-Moscow puppet groups.

“We want to get into every smartphone” to counter Russian disinformation, said Milan Chovanec, the Czech interior minister.

The Czech counter-intelligence service said in September that Russia was conducting “an information war” in the Czech Republic, putting in place propaganda agents to destabilise the country.

Speaking at a conference on strategic communications alongside General Petr Pavel, head of Nato’s military committee, Chovanec said a 20-member team in his ministry would act to tackle Russian propaganda in the public domain in real time, including on social media, and train public officials to deal with it.

Kremlin officials were not immediately available for comment.

Dozens of websites in the Czech Republic – home to 30,000 Russians as of a 2011 census – promote Moscow’s stance toward the west.

The Czech authorities on Wednesday announced they had arrested an alleged Russian hacker in Prague who was accused of cyber-attacks on the US.

Chovanec said an opinion poll showed a quarter of people believed what they read on “alternative” news websites.

The Czech Republic has stuck to the common European Union stance towards Russia. But a number of politicians – in particular President Milos Zeman – have echoed Russia’s views on the situation in eastern Ukraine, including its insistence that no Russian troops are there, and spoken out against economic sanctions on Russia.

With Reuters

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« Reply #3606 on: Oct 21, 2016, 06:47 AM »

U.S. Elections

Donald Trump booed for calling Clinton 'corrupt' as bipartisan dinner soured

Audience not amused at annual Alfred E Smith fundraiser in New York where presidential candidates usually trade lighthearted barbs, to the enjoyment of all

Sabrina Siddiqui in New York
Friday 21 October 2016 07.32 BST

If Donald Trump’s campaign has been defined by going where no candidate has gone before, on Thursday the real estate mogul went even further: getting himself roundly booed at a Catholic charity dinner that is usually a moment of bipartisan good cheer in the presidential race.

The Republican nominee encountered a chilly reception at the Alfred E Smith dinner, an annual Catholic fundraiser for needy children in New York City, where Hillary Clinton was also in attendance.

Presidential candidates have long traditionally addressed the white-tie affair, roasting themselves while throwing in a few good-humoured jabs at their opponents.

At first Trump did earn some laughs with his speech inside the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel. But it quickly deterioriated into an attack on Clinton that prompted jeers from the audience and shouts for him to stop speaking.

“Hillary believes it’s vital to deceive the people by having one public policy and a totally different policy in private,” Trump said, invoking the emails of her campaign chairman John Podesta that were illegally hacked and published on the website WikiLeaks.

“That’s okay,” Trump responded to the audible boos that followed.

“I don’t know who they’re angry at, Hillary, you or I?”

“You!” a voice cried out from the crowd.

Trump pressed on, standing at a podium a few feet away from the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, who served as the evening’s host.

“For example, here she is tonight in public, pretending not to hate Catholics,” Trump said.

While the charity event is known for self-deprecating jokes, the genuine contempt between the two nominees overshadowed proceedings.

Upon being introduced Trump and Clinton settled into their seats on a dais without so much as an acknowledgement of each other’s presence.

Clinton shook the hand of Trump’s wife, Melania, but only later were she and Trump spotted leaning across Dolan, who sat between them, to have a chat that appeared to last all of 30 seconds.

Trump was the first to speak and initially seemed to embrace the spirit of the evening.

“Some people think this would be tough for me,” he said, “but the truth is … I’m actually a modest person, very modest.

“Many people tell me that modesty is perhaps my best quality, even better than my temperament.”

In a riff on what he has dubbed bias within the media, Trump brought the house down by poking fun at his wife’s partly plagiarised speech during the Republican National Convention in July.

“Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it, it’s fantastic,” Trump said. “My wife Melania gives the exact same speech and people get on her case. I don’t get it.”

But the barbs he subsequently threw at Clinton – delivered as though at a Trump campaign rally – fell flat.

“This is the first time that Hillary is sitting down and speaking to major corporate donors and not getting paid for it,” Trump said.

“Hillary is so corrupt she got kicked off the Watergate commission.”

The audience of roughly 1,500 clad in tuxedos and ballroom gowns were not laughing. Nor were they amused when Trump made light of his assertion in the final presidential debate, held less than 24 hours earlier in Las Vegas, that Clinton was “a nasty woman”.

“This stuff is all relative,” he said. “After listening to Hillary rattle on and on and on, I don’t think so badly of Rosie O’Donnell any more. In fact I’m actually starting to like Rosie a lot.”

Clinton’s speech was less bitter in its tone but also included a series of jokes not far removed from the attack lines she has employed against Trump on the stump.

The Democratic nominee needled her opponent over his admiration for Russia and its president, remarking of Trump’s refusal to disclose his health records: “Donald Trump really is as healthy as a horse – you know, the one Vladimir Putin rides around on.”

Of his inability to stick to teleprompters, Clinton quipped: “I’m sure it’s even harder when you’re translating from the original Russian.”

Both candidates laughed along for parts of one another’s remarks, but in other moments sat stoney-faced. The frostiness was uncharacteristic of previous election cycles but then so has been the tenor of the 2016 contest.

As Trump focused on Clinton’s trustworthiness, the former secretary of state honed in on his behavior toward women.

“Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a four,” Clinton said, “maybe a five, if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair.”

“You know what would be a good number for a woman? 45,” she added, in reference to the number marking the next president’s place in US history.

Her roast also nodded to the previous night’s debate, in which Trump refused to endorse the US democratic process, leaving open whether he would accept the outcome of the 8 November election.

“It’s amazing I’m up here after Donald. I didn’t think he’d be OK with a peaceful transition of power,” Clinton said, before tossing in a dig at Trump’s running mate: “After listening to your speech I will also enjoy listening to Mike Pence deny you ever gave it.”

Clinton’s remarks were met with occasional groans but not the open show of distaste that greeted Trump. Relishing her standing with less than three weeks remaining until election day, Clinton made sure to capitalize on the moment by calling out her opponent for saying she should be drug tested prior to the final debate.

“I am so flattered that Donald thought I use some sort of performance enhancer,” she said. “Actually I did – it’s called preparation.”

Throughout the evening the collective toll of an election distinct in its ugliness separated the event from previous years’.

Even Nicholas DiMarzio, the reverend who conducted the invocation at the start of the ceremony, deadpanned: “I think most of us, including Secretary Clinton and Mr Trump, are praying for this election to be over soon. So let us pray.”

Al Smith IV, the great-grandson of the late Al Smith in whose memory the dinner earned its name, cautioned the candidates in his own introduction: “Tonight we’re all friends.”

But even Smith couldn’t help himself when commenting on a race that with each passing day has never ceased to shock the public.

“Donald went up to Hillary and asked her how she was doing,” Smith joked.

“Hillary replied: ‘I’m fine. Now get out of the ladies’ dressing room.’”

Just a few breaths later he skewered Trump again over the allegations of sexual assault and a lewd tape in which the former reality TV star bragged of kissing and groping women without their consent.

“Don, even though there’s a man sitting next to you in a robe, you’re not in a locker room,” Smith told the New York developer in his hometown. “So please watch your language.”

Click to watch: <iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


In A Chilling Moment, Trump Tells Women That They Don’t Deserve To Live

By Sarah Jones on Thu, Oct 20th, 2016 at 1:47 pm

Donald Trump doesn't respect women at all. He doesn't even respect their right to live. During Wednesday night's final presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace asked Republican Donald Trump about the many accusations of sexual assault various vetted women have come forward with. In response, Trump said nobody respects women more than he does. Fact check: False. Big league.

Donald Trump doesn’t respect women at all. He doesn’t even respect their right to live.

During Wednesday night’s final presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace asked Republican Donald Trump about the many accusations of sexual assault various vetted women have come forward with. In response, Trump said nobody respects women more than he does. Fact check: False. Big league.

And I’m not alone. The debate audience literally laughed when Donald Trump said, “Nobody has more respect for women than I do.”

It’s funny and then it’s horrifying and sad.

It’s not just Donald Trump’s contempt for women or his crude and rude language. Sure, it was off-putting when Trump said, “Such a nasty woman” of his Democratic opponent as Clinton answered a question about funding Social Security.

And it further branded Trump as a misogynist, which is the last thing he needed with him losing the women Romney had in 2012. Things got so bad for Trump on the nasty woman front that a website named “nastywomengets***” was immediately created and redirects to Hillary Clinton’s policies. #nastywomenvote was trending last night.

But there is also the horrifying way Trump discussed women’s right to make their own healthcare decisions last night and his cluelessly proud announcement that appointing conservative justices would “automatically” overturn Roe V Wade.

Donald Trump moved the goal post to suggest that Hillary Clinton’s position is to support fictional last hour late term abortions, “Now, you can say that that’s OK, and Hillary can say that that’s OK, but it’s not OK with me. Because based on what she is saying, and based on where she’s going and where she’s been, you can take a baby and rip the baby out of the womb. In the ninth month, on the final day and that’s not acceptable.”

Yeah. That sounds really bad. Except no one is doing that. According to Everyday Feminism stats, “…abortions performed after 20 weeks only make up about 1% of total abortions.” Who has them? As Hillary Clinton was trying to point out last night, many late term abortions are had by women who wanted their pregnancy, but either her health is at risk or they find out at 20 weeks, which is the time most people find out, that there are tragic birth defects.

There are already 43 states that “prohibit some abortions after a certain point in pregnancy”.

But even if Trump was right and women were doing this at the very last minute, this is no reason to make abortion before viability illegal, as Trump is suggesting his justices would (he is also wrong about assuming that would happen automatically, but no one is going to accuse Trump of understanding how government works).

This means that Donald Trump would seek to make abortion illegal in all cases, otherwise why is he objecting to a law that already allows states to set restrictions based on the health of the mother.

Since 59% of women seeking an abortion are mothers, Trump is dismissing that this is a family planning and medical decision best left to women, their families and their personal beliefs. Government has no right to order women to die to save a fetus. That is a precedent that is simply absurd, and any thinking person can see why.

Legislating that a fetus has more of a right to live than a woman does is also a non-starter because that can’t be labeled “pro-life.” Republicans keep insisting this is about family, and yet they have Donald Trump – serial adulterer who has been married three times and says women “expire” after 35 – as their standard bearer.

There is no way around the fact that if a woman’s life is in jeopardy, it’s unconstitutional to order her to die to save a fetus. That is the result of making abortion illegal.

Hillary Clinton deals in facts, and she knows that many families are faced with horrible decisions later in their pregnancies. Many don’t have the money to travel to a state where it’s legal to get a late term abortion. They shouldn’t have to. They shouldn’t be punished even more for what is already a tragic situation.

Donald Trump has said he wants to punish women for getting an abortion.

Donald Trump doesn’t have the moral authority to condemn anyone for their behavior, he is an unrepentant braggart about sexual assault and a serial liar. The fact that he seeks to remove women’s right to live is beyond alarming. The fact that he doesn’t understand that his viewpoint makes him a better fit for a third world country than the U.S. is also alarming.

Those who dismiss Trump’s behavior as “locker room talk” need to face that fact that his policies are just as bad and just as dangerous for women as his sexual assaults.

But as President Obama always says, don’t get mad. Vote. If you care about women and families getting to make their own medical decisions, don’t take it for granted. Vote as if your life depended on it, because for many of us, it actually does.


Michelle Obama Hammers Trump For Humiliating And Treating Women Like Objects

By Jason Easley on Thu, Oct 20th, 2016 at 7:02 pm

While speaking for Hillary Clinton in Phoenix, AZ, First Lady Michelle Obama hammered Donald Trump for humiliating women and treating them like objects.

    Michelle Obama: Trump "demeans and humiliates women as if we're objects meant solely for pleasure and entertainment"

    — The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) October 20, 2016

The First Lady said:

Maybe that’s why he sees veterans enduring the wounds of war as weak. Why he insults Gold Star families, folks who’ve spent months praying not to get that knock at the door. Heroes who love this country so much, they’re willing to die for it. He just can’t see them.

Maybe it’s easy for him to mock people with disabilities because he’s unable to see their strength and their contributions. Maybe that’s why he demeans and humiliates women as if we’re objects meant solely for pleasure and entertainment, rather than human beings worthy of love and respect. He just doesn’t understand us.

Mrs. Obama continues to reveal herself to be a powerful advocate for America’s decent and moral core. The argument that she made is more than political. First Lady Obama is arguing that the Republican nominee will be incapable of leading people that he can’t see as equal human beings.

The central question of the 2016 presidential election is centered around our collective moral conscience as a nation. Donald Trump has forced America to look itself in the mirror and ask who we are and who we want to become.

First Lady Obama is showing the country the brighter moral path, as she urges the American people to reject the dark portrait directly from the nation’s yesteryear that is being painted by Donald Trump.


GOP Senate Majority Crumbling Under Trump As New Poll Shows Kelly Ayotte Losing Big

By Sean Colarossi on Thu, Oct 20th, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Donald Trump's unraveling presidential campaign is clearly taking a toll on down-ballot Senate races.

It’s not just Donald Trump’s presidential campaign that is crumbling in recent days. New polling indicates that he may be bringing down the Republican’s Senate majority with him.

A survey released from WMUR/UNH on Thursday shows Democratic Senate candidate Maggie Hassan pulling into a nine-point lead over Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte in the New Hampshire Senate race.

    U.S. Senate:
    Ayotte (R) 39%
    Hassan (D) 48%
    (WMUR/UNH, LV, 10/11-17)

    — (@pollreport) October 20, 2016

The poll represents a seven-point shift toward the Democrat since the pollster’s last survey and could be the difference-maker when it comes to Democrats winning a majority in the chamber.

The surge of momentum for Hassan comes on the heels of two major events: 1. The implosion of Donald Trump’s campaign, and 2. Ayotte’s comments earlier in the month in which she said that Trump is a person children could look up to.

“Well, I think that certainly there are many role models that we have, and I believe he can serve as president, and so absolutely I would do that,” Ayotte said after being asked if she would consider the Republican nominee a role model.

Ayotte was forced to walk back the comment, saying she “misspoke,” but the damage clearly appears to be done.

The numbers out of New Hampshire are also consistent with polling out of other key states, like Nevada, which has shown a surprising late surge of momentum for Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto. After trailing in most polls throughout the year, Cortez Masto’s recent surge now has her leading the race by an average of 2.3 percentage points.

According to FiveThirtyEight’s forecast, the Democrats now have a 73 percent chance of retaking the Senate on Nov. 8, and it’s in large part because of these two key races.

Donald Trump’s unraveling presidential campaign is clearly taking a toll on down-ballot Senate races with less than three weeks until Election Day.


Trump National Political Director Abandons Imploding Campaign While He Still Can

By Sean Colarossi on Thu, Oct 20th, 2016 at 7:58 pm

The news couldn't come at a worse time for the Republican nominee, who is plummeting in recent national and statewide polling.

Even Donald Trump’s national political director recognizes that his candidate’s ship is sinking.

According to Politico, three sources say that Jim Murphy, who has been the Republican nominee’s national political director since June, is taking a “step back” from Trump’s presidential campaign.

“I have not resigned,” Murphy told Politico, but he did say he would no longer play a role in the campaign due to “personal reasons.”

More from Politico:

“Several Trump aides said that Murphy has been conspicuously absent in recent days as the campaign mobilizes for the final push.

Since joining the Trump campaign in June, Murphy, a longtime party operative, has played a key role in setting up field programs in battleground states. He has emerged as a central point person between top Trump campaign officials and the Republican National Committee. Murphy also helped to oversee floor operations at the Republican National Convention in July.”

Now, hoping to preserve some sense of dignity, Murphy is calling it quits.

    Bad news for @realDonaldTrump is that his pol director has taken a leave. The good news is he’ll be back in a month.

    — David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) October 20, 2016

The news couldn’t come at a worse time for the Republican nominee, who is plummeting in recent national and statewide polling. It also comes on the heels of the third presidential debate, which surveys say Clinton won – again – very easily.

Murphy’s decision to distance himself from Trump’s dumpster fire may also be the result of a long list of recent events that have disqualified the GOP nominee, including the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, Trump’s reckless whining about a rigged electoral process, and a growing number of women coming forward accusing him of groping them.

From the beginning, Trump’s campaign infrastructure – to the extent that it exists at all – was already lagging far behind Hillary Clinton’s operation. With less than three weeks until Election Day, losing his national political director is the latest sign that his campaign is coming apart at the seams.


The lies Trump told this week: voter fraud and the 'rigged' election

The Republican presidential nominee used a Pew study and news reports to talk about how the election is ‘rigged’ against him, but he omitted a lot of context

Alan Yuhas in San Francisco
Friday 21 October 2016 11.00 BST

“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary – but also at many polling places – SAD.” – 16 October, Twitter

“Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!” – 17 October, Twitter

“So many cities are corrupt and voter fraud is very, very common.” – 17 October, Green Bay, Wisconsin

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary - but also at many polling places - SAD
    October 16, 2016

All available evidence shows that in-person voter fraud is exceedingly rare: you are more likely to be struck by lightning in the next year (a one in 1,042,000 chance, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) than to find a case of voter fraud by impersonation (31 in more than a billion ballots cast from 2000 to 2014, according to a study by Loyola law school).

Voter fraud would have to happen on an enormous scale to sway elections, because the electoral college system decentralizes elections: each of the 50 states has its own rules and local officials, not federal ones, that run the polls and count ballots. This complexity makes the notion of a “rigged” national election, at least in the US, logistically intimidating to the point of impossibility. Thirty-one states have Republican governors, including the swing states of Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada and Ohio; Pennsylvania only elected a Democratic governor in 2015. Polls show Trump losing even in some states where governors have strongly supported him. In Maine, for instance, the Real Clear Politics average shows him down five points.

About 75% of the ballots cast in federal elections have paper backups, and most electronic voting machines are not connected to the internet – though they have other flaws and may be vulnerable to tampering. But voter fraud to swing a major election – whether by tampering, buying votes or official wrongdoing – would quickly attract attention by its necessarily large scale.

Trump and his allies have repeatedly suggested that voter fraud took place in cities such as Philadelphia and Chicago in 2012, citing as evidence the fact that Mitt Romney failed to win a single vote in 59 almost wholly black precincts of Philadelphia’s 1,687 total. But with the right demographics, it’s not unusual for a presidential candidate to be shut out of whole precincts or districts – and Philadelphia’s Republican party and an investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer rejected claims of fraud or wrongdoing.

In 2012 after Obama won 93% of black voters nationwide, 85% of Philadelphia and 52% of Pennsylvania. But he couldn’t win a single vote in whole counties of deeply conservative Utah that year. Similarly, John McCain failed to win votes in Chicago and Atlanta precincts in 2008. Both Democrats and Republicans, including Trump supporters Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, have rejected his doubts about the electoral system.

If Trump loses the presidential election, it will be because American voters do not want him in the White House, not because of a conspiracy involving Republicans and Democrats alike at state and city levels around the nation – a conspiracy for which Trump has provided no evidence.

“The following information comes straight from Pew Research, quote: ‘approximately 24 million people, one of every eight, voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or significantly inaccurate.’” – 17 October, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Trump is quoting a study about voter registration, not about actual voting practice, as he misleadingly suggests. The Pew study points out that inefficiencies among state registrars are mostly the cause of innocent, if unfortunate, circumstances: one in eight Americans moved between 2008 and 2010, many pushed by the financial crisis, which also strained local budgets, and 51 million more Americans were not registered anywhere to vote at the time of the study.

“More than 1.8 million deceased individuals right now are listed as voters. Oh, that’s wonderful. Well, if they’re gonna vote for me we’ll think about it, right? But I have a feeling they’re not gonna vote for me. Of the 1.8 million, 1.8 million is voting for somebody else. Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.” – 17 October, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Again, Trump is misreading the Pew report to suggest sinister results. The report nowhere suggests that 1.8 million dead people have cast any votes, only that registrars have failed to catch up with deaths. Nor does it suggest that people who registered in more than one state have actually voted in more than one state. The report also highlights problems with registering in the first place: in 2008, 2.2m votes “were lost because of registration problems”, and another 5.7 million people “faced a registration problem that needed to be resolved before voting”.

“The following comes from a 2014 report from the Washington Post, [titled] ‘Could non-citizens decide the November election?’ … More than 14% of non-citizens in both 2008 and 2012 samples indicated that they were registered to vote.” – 17 October, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Trump omits important context for the article in question, which was written by two academics on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog about their own study. The authors admitted their report was “fraught with substantial uncertainty” and relied on a small sample size of self-reporters: 339 non-citizens respondents in 2008 and 489 non-citizen respondents in 2010, about 1% of survey respondents overall. Other academics also noted that there is a high error rate in self-responding among non-citizens, and that the report’s conclusions relied on large assumptions about the national population.

“President Obama has commuted the sentences of record numbers of high-level drug traffickers. Can you believe this? Many of them kingpins and violent armed traffickers with extensive criminal histories and records. I mean, the whole thing is – honestly, the whole thing is unbelievable.” – 15 October, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Barack Obama has commuted the sentences of 774 people, most of whom were serving long sentences for nonviolent drug offenses – and could not be described as “kingpins” or “high-level drug traffickers”. In August the president broke a record for commutations in a single month by reducing the sentences of 325 inmates.

The commutations are meant to combat the strict mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes – symbolically, at least – an area where Republicans and Democrats both support reform. Legislation seemed near completion earlier this year, until election acrimony put it on hold.

“Remember when in Massachusetts I got almost 50% of the vote with 11 people? I got 49.7% of the vote.” – 15 October, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Trump won 49.3% of the vote against four candidates, not 11: John Kasich (18%), Marco Rubio (17.9%), Ted Cruz (9.6%) and Ben Carson (2.6%).


What would happen if Donald Trump refused to concede this election?

The vote of the electoral college is conclusive, legal experts say, and it’s irrelevant whether the loser concedes or not

Lauren Gambino in Washington
Friday 21 October 2016 12.34 BST    

Donald Trump’s refusal to say whether he would accept the outcome of next month’s US presidential election if he were to lose is unprecedented and chilling, legal experts have said.

But although the failure by a major party nominee to concede defeat on election night would throw American democracy into uncharted territory, from a legal standpoint, it would hardly make a difference, experts from across the political spectrum said.

“Frankly, under our system, it is irrelevant whether the loser concedes or not,” said James Bopp, the conservative constitutional lawyer. “The vote of the electoral college is conclusive.”

In the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday night, Trump twice declined to say whether he would accept defeat if he felt the outcome was “rigged” against him, a statement that appeared intent on sowing doubt about the integrity of the electoral process.

The moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, pressed him, noting that the peaceful transition of power is a long-respected principle of American democracy.

“There is a tradition in this country, in fact, one of the prides of this country is the peaceful transition of power,” Wallace said. “And no matter how hard fought a campaign is that at the end of the campaign, that the loser concedes to the winner.”

“I will look at it at the time,” the Republican nominee replied, drawing gasps from the audience. “I will keep you in suspense.’’

“That’s horrifying,” his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton interjected. “I am appalled that someone who is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that position.”

In a speech on Thursday, Trump raised new questions about the issue, saying first: “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election if I win,” and then adding: “Of course I would accept a clear election result, but I would reserve my right to contend or file a legal challenge, in the case of a questionable result.”

Trump’s reticence does not appear to be shared by those closest to him. Just hours before the debate, Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and his daughter, Ivanka Trump, all insisted that the campaign would accept the result of the election.

Under the electoral college system, Americans do not directly elect their president. They choose a slate of electors who pledge to vote for a certain presidential ticket. A candidate needs to win 270 electoral votes to win the election.

Though a winner is usually projected on election night, the official vote of the electoral college does not take place until some weeks later.

In those intervening weeks before the electoral college vote, Trump could mount a legal challenge to contest the result or demand a recount under certain circumstances but unless the vote margin is slim his chances of his case being successful are low.

“He could try to litigate,” said Rick Hasen, a University of California-Irvine professor who runs the Election LawBlog. “But if he loses by a wide margin he’s not likely to get far in court.” Current polling suggests Trump is careening toward a landslide defeat.

Hasen said he is more concerned that Trump’s comments, which he called “appalling and unprecedented”, will lead to violence on election night if he does not win.

“There was no hedging from Trump, as in ‘of course I’d accept the results unless the results were very close and there was room to contest things’. Nothing like that. This is the full Breitbartization of the election,” Hasen wrote on his blog after the debate, referring to Breitbart, the alt-right website that has become a cheerleader for Trump’s campaign. “It makes me worry about violence in the streets from his supporters if Trump loses.”

After the debate, Trump supporters tried to deflect scrutiny of Trump’s comments by pointing to the recount in 2000 following the extremely close race between George W Bush and Al Gore. But legal experts reject the comparison.

“This is not Bush v Gore,” said Richard Reuben, a University of Missouri law professor. “There were legitimate questions about the vote after the votes were cast. The case went through the legal process and Gore graciously accepted the supreme court’s decision, as problematic as that was.

“This is a premeditated attempt to delegitimize the result of any decision that doesn’t go his way – unprecedented in American politics in my lifetime.”

Trump’s reluctance to accept possible defeat echoes his months-long effort to in effect declare the outcome of the election invalid well before the first votes were cast. This week he raised the prospect of 1.8 million dead people voting for his opponent, and he has called on his supporters to monitor polling booths for instances of fraud.

Under the US system, it is possible to win the popular vote and lose the electoral college, which is what happened – it eventually transpired – in 2000. Bush lost the national popular vote to Gore by 0.51% but won the electoral college by 271 votes to 266.

After initially conceding to Bush on election night and minutes before he was due to formally admit defeat, Gore famously phoned Bush back to explain that circumstances had changed and he now wanted to change his mind.

“You’re calling me back to retract your concession,” Bush said.

“There’s no need to get snippy about it,” Gore shot back.

The election result hinged on Florida, where the margin of victory was so slim it triggered a recount. Gore sought recounts in a handful of counties and Bush sued to stop them. A case was ultimately brought before the US supreme court, whose 5-4 decision stopped the recount and in effect awarded Bush Florida’s electoral votes.

Gore disagreed with the decision but conceded nonetheless. In his concession speech, delivered days before the electoral college vote, Gore quoted Stephen Douglas, who lost the presidency to Abraham Lincoln: “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr President and God bless you.”


What would a Trump TV network mean for America?

CS Monitor

Donald Trump's candidacy has struck a chord with a large segment of Americans who feel they have been left behind by mainstream politics. That sentiment is unlikely to disappear after Election Day.   
By Gretel Kauffman, Staff October 20, 2016

Roughly 200,000 viewers tuned in to watch the third and final presidential debate through a live stream on Donald Trump's Facebook page Wednesday night, marking what many deemed the unofficial birth of "Trump TV."

The Facebook broadcast – complete with news crawl banners, pre-debate commentary from Trump surrogates, and Trump campaign advertisements – came less than a week after Mr. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, reportedly met with investment firm LionTree to discuss the possibility of a Trump television network, adding to mounting speculation that such an endeavor could be in the works in the event of a Clinton victory.

Though the practical likelihood that any such plan will become a reality is widely debated, the rumors have led some to celebrate, others to worry, and all to wonder: What would an America with a Trump TV network look like, exactly?

The launch of a Trumpian network would be unlikely to dramatically alter the already highly polarized media landscape, media observers say. But it could broaden national dialogue by giving an enduring voice to the largely white, working-class, far-right demographic that feels ignored by the media and political leaders, and which Trump's campaign has brought into the spotlight.

In other words, says Matthew Baum, a professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Mass., it could ensure that issues championed by Trump – illegal immigration, US job loss due to global competition, how to fight ISIS –  don't fade out of mainstream discourse anytime soon.

A Trump network could "shine more light on some ideas that have traditionally been relegated to the fringe and, until this campaign, really haven't been heard much in the mainstream," Dr. Baum tells The Christian Science Monitor in a phone interview. "Some of that’s sort of been brought out of the shadows, and I guess you could say this could keep it out of the shadows."

Trump's campaign, and the rumors of his next media endeavor, come at a time when Americans are as polarized on politics as they've ever been. This polarization is due in part, political analysts say, to the rise of the internet and cable news channels, which have carved out a space for highly partisan, niche news sources.

The current media climate suggests that a Trump television network, if launched, could be "quite successful," says David Jones, a professor of political science at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. – assuming, of course, "he doesn't completely tarnish himself" before election day.

"There seems to be a demand for highly opinionated, explicitly one-sided information that affirms the reader or viewer’s existing viewpoints," Dr. Jones says in a phone interview with the Monitor. "There's enough dissatisfaction out there with establishment Republicans – and, for that matter, establishment Democrats – and even the existing popular partisan outlets seem more connected with the establishment than many people are happy with."

Fox News, a longtime bastion of conservative views on television, isn't enough anymore for some Republicans, and particularly those in Trump's core fanbase, Jones adds, "especially since Fox News has been willing to raise tough questions about Donald Trump on some of its programs."

Furthermore, Trump's far-right rhetoric has entered the political sphere at a time when Fox News is beginning to shift to a less blatantly partisan, more "even-keeled" approach to journalism, says Danielle Sarver Coombs, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University in Ohio.

The slow, subtle rebranding of Fox News could leave a void for the Trump network to fill, allowing it to "take on some of that more bombastic approach" that Fox has begun to shift away from, Dr. Coombs tells the Monitor in a phone interview. That approach, she says, would be characterized by "more of a hardcore, 'We're going to speak to people who agree with us, who think like us' " mentality.

Whether "Trump TV" will ever reach Americans' televisions or even computer screens is yet unknown, and launching such an effort would take, at the very least, several months, media experts say. But in the meantime, if a television network truly is in Trump's sights, that goal could affect the Republican nominee's behavior in the final weeks of, and immediately following, the election.

The "worst possible thing," Baum says, "would be for him to sort of fade into the background for an extended period of time" between November and the launch of a network or other form of media, "because if he does, some other entrepreneur is going to try to fill that space."

But maintaining the sort of relevance and momentum necessary to support a Trump network would require significant effort by the business mogul.

"Regenerating all of the angst and passions that are peaking now is not a trivial thing, and he would not be able to do it to the extent that he can when he's a major party nominee in the center spotlight every single day," Baum says. "It would give him an incentive not to go quietly into the night if he lost."


Carl Bernstein fears Trump TV will serve as nexus of ‘a real neo-fascist movement and media empire’

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
21 Oct 2016 at 08:55 ET                  

A lot of Americans are wondering what Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters will do if he loses his presidential race — but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the GOP presidential nominee is cultivating them as an audience for Trump TV.

It’s easy to imagine what Trump TV might look like: Deplorable hosts pushing white grievance like Fox News, but with wilder, Alex Jones-style conspiracy theories, a Putin-approved message like RT, and scantily clad women wandering around like a Mexican talk show.

That could set up Trump to preside over a genuine neo-fascist movement in the United States, warned journalist Carl Bernstein.

Hitler anyone ?

“I think the most interesting thing going on right now is Trump saying that he may not go along with the results of this election,” Bernstein said. “What does it really mean? It means, I think, he is setting himself up — again, I’m going to go back to that neo-fascist term — of a real neo-fascist movement and media empire.”

Trump will have little to lose after tarnishing his brand with a toxic campaign, Bernstein said, and will likely turn to campaign CEO Steve Bannon — the former chairman of Breitbart News — to set up an alt-right competitor to the conservative Fox News.

“His businesses are going into the tank as a result of where he has come out in this election, and there’s talks going on — I think we know about that — about a media empire,” Bernstein said. “(Are) there going to be remnants of a neo-fascist movement that he leads in this country after this election?”

“It’s a dangerous thing,” Bernstein added. “We’re in a dangerous place.”

    .@carlbernstein on Trump: "He is setting himself up as the head of a real neo-fascist movement and media empire"

    — New Day (@NewDay) October 21, 2016

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« Last Edit: Oct 21, 2016, 08:33 AM by Rad » Logged
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« Reply #3607 on: Oct 21, 2016, 08:47 AM »

Why Hillary Wins

Paul Krugman OCT. 21, 2016
NY Times

Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate. Hey, that’s what male pundits have been saying ever since this endless campaign began. You have to go back to Al Gore in 2000 to find a politician who faced as much jeering from the news media, over everything from claims of dishonesty (which usually turn out to be based on nothing) to matters of personal style.

Strange to say, however, Mrs. Clinton won the Democratic nomination fairly easily, and now, having pummeled her opponent in three successive debates, is an overwhelming favorite to win in November, probably by a wide margin. How is that possible?

The usual suspects are already coalescing around an answer — namely, that she just got lucky. If only the Republicans hadn’t nominated Donald Trump, the story goes, she’d be losing badly.

But here’s a contrarian thought: Maybe Mrs. Clinton is winning because she possesses some fundamental political strengths — strengths that fall into many pundits’ blind spots.

First of all, who was this other, stronger candidate that the G.O.P. might have chosen? Remember, Mr. Trump won the nomination because he gave his party’s base what it wanted, channeling the racial antagonism that has been the driving force for Republican electoral success for decades. All he did was say out loud what his rivals were trying to convey with dog whistles, which explains why they were so ineffective in opposing him.

And those establishment candidates were much more Trumpian than those fantasizing about a different history — say, one in which the G.O.P. nominated Marco Rubio — acknowledge. Many people remember Mr. Rubio’s brain glitch: the canned lines about “let’s dispel with this fiction” that he kept repeating in a disastrous debate performance. Fewer seem aware that those lines actually enunciated a crazy conspiracy theory, essentially accusing President Obama of deliberately weakening America. Is that really much better than the things Mr. Trump says? Only if you imagine that Mr. Rubio didn’t believe what he was saying — yet his insincerity, the obvious way he was trying to play a part, was surely part of his weakness.

That is, in fact, a general problem for establishment Republicans. How many of them really believe that tax cuts have magical powers, that climate change is a giant hoax, that saying the words “Islamic terrorism” will somehow defeat ISIS? Yet pretending to believe these things is the price of admission to the club — and the falsity of that pretense shines through.

And one more point about Mr. Rubio: why imagine that a man who collapsed in the face of childish needling from Mr. Trump would have triumphed over the woman who kept her cool during 11 hours of grilling over Benghazi, and made her interrogators look like fools? Which brings us to the question of Mrs. Clinton’s strengths.

When political commentators praise political talent, what they seem to have in mind is the ability of a candidate to match one of a very limited set of archetypes: the heroic leader, the back-slapping regular guy you’d like to have a beer with, the soaring orator. Mrs. Clinton is none of these things: too wonky, not to mention too female, to be a regular guy, a fairly mediocre speechifier; her prepared zingers tend to fall flat.

Yet the person tens of millions of viewers saw in this fall’s debates was hugely impressive all the same: self-possessed, almost preternaturally calm under pressure, deeply prepared, clearly in command of policy issues. And she was also working to a strategic plan: Each debate victory looked much bigger after a couple of days, once the implications had time to sink in, than it may have seemed on the night.

Oh, and the strengths she showed in the debates are also strengths that would serve her well as president. Just thought I should mention that. And maybe ordinary citizens noticed the same thing; maybe obvious competence and poise in stressful situations can add up to a kind of star quality, even if it doesn’t fit conventional notions of charisma.

Furthermore, there’s one thing Mrs. Clinton brought to this campaign that no establishment Republican could have matched: She truly cares about her signature issues, and believes in the solutions she’s pushing.

I know, we’re supposed to see her as coldly ambitious and calculating, and on some issues — like macroeconomics — she does sound a bit bloodless, even when she clearly understands the subject and is talking good sense. But when she’s talking about women’s rights, or racial injustice, or support for families, her commitment, even passion, are obvious. She’s genuine, in a way nobody in the other party can be.

So let’s dispel with this fiction that Hillary Clinton is only where she is through a random stroke of good luck. She’s a formidable figure, and has been all along.

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« Reply #3608 on: Oct 21, 2016, 08:50 AM »

France’s Marine Le Pen: could she win?

Agence France-Presse
21 Oct 2016 at 09:14 ET     

From Brexit to the rise of Donald Trump, 2016 has been a humbling year for political forecasters. In France, could they be wrong again in writing off the far-right’s prospects in next year’s presidential election?

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front, certainly thinks so. She sees signs of encouragement from Britain, the United States and across Europe where mass migration, inequality and terrorism have eroded old certainties.

Conventional wisdom holds that she will make it into the second round of the election next April and then lose, when centre-right and left-wing voters will back a more mainstream candidate.

This would be a similar outcome to the 2002 election when her estranged father caused a political earthquake in European politics by reaching the second round — where he was defeated by Jacques Chirac.

“There’s a global awakening,” Le Pen told reporters last month in the southern town of Frejus where supporters flocked to hear her bashing the EU, the euro and immigration.

In echoes of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” or Brexit’s “Take Control” slogans, she declared that “the time of the nation state has come again.”

But while undisciplined Trump seems to revel in his troublemaker credentials, Le Pen has been studiously avoiding controversy as part of a drive to boost her credibility.

Six months before the French go to the polls, the 48-year-old is on a mission to win over the last of the anti-FN diehards, canvassing pensioners, teachers and other groups that have long regarded the party as untouchable.

“Those who think there is no chance (of Le Pen winning) and that there is no threat from the far-right are greatly mistaken,” Jean-Marie Le Guen, the junior minister for parliamentary relations, warned recently.

“She is absolutely convinced she can win,” one of Le Pen’s advisors told AFP.

– Closer race against Sarkozy –

So far polls tell a different story.

Even if Le Pen wins the first round, the lingering stigma around the FN is predicted to trip her up, with her second-round rival, tipped to be former prime minister Alain Juppe, expected to easily defeat her.

A survey by the BVA polling group last month showed Juppe beating her by 66-34 percent.

The race would be a closer affair however if Le Pen came face-to-face with former president Nicolas Sarkozy, Juppe’s main challenger for the right-wing nomination in a November primary.

The same BVA survey showed a much tighter race. Sarkozy, a far more polarising figure than Juppe, would win by a smaller margin of 56-44 percent in the final duel, it said.

Convinced she can close the gap, Le Pen is continuing her drive to sanitise the FN’s image that has paid off since she took over the leadership from her father in 2011.

Gone is the anti-Semitism and overt race-baiting of the past — her rhetoric on Muslims and migrants is softer yet still effective in a country and a continent battling an unprecedented terror threat and record new arrivals.

But she cannot escape her father’s embarrassing comments that the Nazi gas chambers are a “detail of history” and Marine’s approach to the migrant crisis — she has said “we should just feed them and send them back where they came from” — has attracted scorn.

In France’s depressed north, voters in former leftist bastions have decamped in droves to the protectionist FN, out of frustration with the government’s failure to halt factory closures.

The FN, which has blamed the EU for much of France’s ills and pushed for a “Frexit” referendum on France’s EU membership, reaped the spoils of the Socialists’ demise in last year’s regional elections, topping the poll with 28 percent.

– Bigger than the party –

A year later, Le Pen is campaigning mainly on her own brand, which has now outgrown that of the National Front.

Jean-Yves Camus, a researcher who specialises in far-right movements, said her trump card was that she had never been in government.

“It conceals many aspects in her programme that lack credibility,” he said.

Le Pen herself says it means she does not “have to repay any favours.”

But her lack of potential allies is also her Achilles heel in a country where elections always go to a run-off.

In the past six decades, no party has ever garnered more than 50 percent alone in the first round, said Joel Gombin, a political analyst and FN specialist, who called a Le Pen win “a very unlikely scenario.”

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« Reply #3609 on: Oct 22, 2016, 05:21 AM »

October 22, 2016

How much time should kids spend on screens?

by Chuck Bednar
Red Orbit

In a world dominated by smartphone games like Pokemon Go and powerful game consoles such as the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, parents seeking tips on how much screen time they should let their children have were typically met with outdated recommendations.

Now, in an attempt to keep pace with an increasingly technology-dominated world, officials with the American Academy of Pediatrics released an updated set of guidelines during a conference in San Francisco held earlier this week, according to and Los Angeles Times reports.

The new recommendations call for children under the age of 18 months to be permitted no screen time, and all other children under the age of 5 to be allowed a maximum of one hour per day, the media outlets said. Parents of older children are given greater leeway in determining the quantity of screen time that they are allowed, and some media uses do not count against that total.

“Children today are growing up in an era of highly personalized media use experiences,” a panel of AAP-approved experts wrote in guidelines to be published in the journal Pediatrics, according to the Times. “So parents must develop personalized media use plans for their children.”

“Families should proactively think about their children's media use and talk with children about it, because too much media use can mean that children don't have enough time during the day to play, study, talk, or sleep,” study author, Dr. Jenny Radesky, added in a statement. “What's most important is that parents be their child's ‘media mentor.’ That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn.”

More Skyping, less TV viewing is ideal, recommendations say

The researchers recommended no screen time for very young children because they claim that it can be distracting to infants, potentially leading to sleep problems and a parent-child disconnect, according to They also recommend that breastfeeding mothers not use mobile devices or tablets while doing so, since it could cause the child to feel neglected.

For children between the ages of 2 and 5, the AAP recommends “creative, unplugged playtime” while noting that these youngsters can be introduced to screen time, but no more than one hour per day to begin with. They also suggest choosing shows like Sesame Street instead of cartoons on commercial networks, while giving a big thumbs-up to using technology like Skype to hold conversations with relatives, which they say can promote healthy development at this age.

Things get a little more complicated in children over the age of six. The guidelines state that a healthy child’s typical day should consist of school, doing homework, social contact, sleep and at least one hour of physical activity per day. Whatever time is left can be spent in front of a screen, the recommendations said, but such activities should never replace education, physical fitness or much-needed sleep, and parents should be sure to discuss potential technology-related risks like cyber-bullying and sexting with their sons and daughters.

Interestingly enough, the Times pointed out that fewer children are watching two hours or more of television per day than were doing so two decades ago, but it remains unclear is this is due to moms and dads enforcing recommended limits or because of the increasing availability of other types of screens, such as handheld game systems, smartphones and tablet computers.

The latter seems more likely, as the newspaper reported that smartphone use has risen from 52% of children under the age of 8 in 2011 to 75% for that demographic in 2013. This comes despite a lack of evidence that using educational apps on such devices provides any benefits to youngsters under the age of 2. The guidelines are important, the AAP said, due to the health risks associated with excessive screen time, namely obesity. For that reason, they have lowered the recommended amount of television viewing from 2 hours per day to just 90 minutes.

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« Reply #3610 on: Oct 22, 2016, 05:53 AM »

Islabikes' radical new plan means you may never need to buy your child a bike again

Imagine Project sets out to cut waste in the industry by renting rather than selling bikes, which can then be returned and refurbished when the child outgrows them

Emily Chappell
Chappell is a freelance writer
Friday 21 October 2016 07.00 BST

The idea had been nagging at her for years, but Isla Rowntree went to the ends of the earth before she was finally ready to go ahead with something she hopes will revolutionise the way the bicycle industry is run.

This is the Imagine Project, currently being developed by Rowntree’s eponymous firm making children’s bicycles, Islabikes. It offers a simple but hugely innovative solution to reducing waste – bikes will be rented to customers rather than sold, and returned to the factory for refurbishment when their young rider outgrows them.

It began earlier this year when Rowntree found herself in Grytviken, a remote settlement on the mountainous island of South Georgia, one of the most southerly scraps of land before you reach Antarctica. She already knew what to expect, having read about Ellen MacArthur’s epiphany on South Georgia (which prompted her to turn her back on professional sailing and establish the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, to encourage a so-called circular economy), so this was really something of a pilgrimage.

“The message of Grytviken is that we plunder the Earth’s resources,” she says, and goes on to talk of the whaling station set up there in 1904, by Norwegian Carl Anton Larsen. At first, the seas around South Georgia were heaving with so many whales that ships barely needed to leave the harbour. By the 1930s, they were having to sail 700 or 800 miles in order to make a catch. Grytviken’s whaling station finally closed in 1966, and is now just a small collection of rusting equipment and slowly collapsing buildings, thousands of miles from anywhere. The whales never came back.

Rowntree was finally facing up to the message she had been half-ignoring for years: that the earth’s resources are finite; that sooner or later raw materials will run out, and that the bicycle industry, as much as any other, will have to change the way it operates.

Rowntree returned to the UK in April, and almost immediately announced the Imagine Project.

For the last 10 years, Islabikes has made its name selling high-quality children’s bikes, initially unique in that they were ergonomically designed to fit children’s bodies and riding style, with lighter frames and a whole host of innovations, from a narrower bottom bracket, to brake levers especially designed for tiny hands.

Rowntree proposes to phase out the model which has proved so successful for her company. Within a few years, she hopes, the rental model will see bikes return to the factory when the child is ready for a bigger one, or if it’s simply worn out.

“We will get it back, fully service and refurbish it, and rent it to the next person,” she explains.

Gone are the days of outgrown bicycles rusting away in the shed, or tossed into landfill sites. But will parents really be happy for their children to ride a bike that is effectively secondhand? Won’t they consider it safer to buy them one that’s brand new?

Rowntree’s eyes begin to gleam – this, it turns out, is the real beauty of the idea. The new ‘circular economy’ gives manufacturers an incentive to make products of far higher quality than they otherwise would. The more people Islabikes can rent a bicycle to before it has to be retired, the better they’ll do commercially. It’s the opposite of planned obsolescence – products will now be designed to last forever.

But of course, kids put their bikes through a lot of punishment, and even the strongest components will eventually start to wear out. Rowntree has an answer for this too.

    So, you design for longevity, but you also design for separability. We’ve designed, from the start, [so] that we’re going to be able to separate the raw materials really easily. So for example the metals aren’t mixed up, so they can go into other industries. You’ve got your main circular supply chain, between the manufacturer and the consumer – and then you’ve got all these smaller circles going round the edges, with all the interdependent industries.

She draws these circles in the air as she speaks, and I have a momentary – and gratifying – vision of all the different manufacturing industries pivoting around each other like a set of cogs, each factory using the cast-off materials of another, and passing on their own by-products in turn, wasting absolutely nothing.

This idea is – has to be – far bigger than just Islabikes; bigger than the bicycle industry itself. It’s a new, collaborative way of doing business, and it won’t work unless everyone comes onboard. Islabikes are consciously setting themselves up as evangelists for this new system.

“What we’re doing is embarking on a journey to find out how to do this,” explains Rowntree. She has five full-time members of staff working on the Imagine Project. As yet, no other bike companies have adopted this new sustainable model, but several component companies are on board, including Reynolds, who have developed prototype tube sets for the new bikes.

“And if we can get those components companies working with us, when other cycle companies are ready to adopt this model, the components will already be there for them.”

This is truly a sharing economy – where all parties benefit the more they collaborate. And it has to happen soon, insists Rowntree. The cost of raw materials is set to rise steeply in the next few years.

“So that might mean that at some point in the future a bike that I sell for £300 might be £1,000 – or £2,000, or £4,000. And at that point it’s not accessible for most families to buy – so children don’t ride bikes any more, because nobody can afford them.”

It first occurred to Rowntree three years ago that her current business model might no longer be viable. And for a while she pushed the thought away, knowing that she could well just carry on making bikes as she was, then walk away before things went wrong.

“But I started to feel responsible, not only for myself, but for the people I work with, who are much younger than me – they’ll still need jobs. And that feeling of responsibility turned into feeling irresponsible for not doing anything about it.”

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« Reply #3611 on: Oct 22, 2016, 05:59 AM »

Tech classes open a fresh window of opportunity for women in rural Kenya

A digital literacy programme is helping women and girls in Kenya to learn new skills and earn extra income, irrespective of age or education level

Robert Kibet in Nairobi
Friday 21 October 2016 07.00 BST

Under the scorching afternoon sun, at a village in a sugar-cane growing region of western Kenya, 60-year old Mary Namukholi carefully places bunches of green bananas beside an old bicycle outside her home.

After greeting five neighbours who have been awaiting her arrival for an hour, she enters her one-bedroom, iron-roofed house. She takes a laptop from a polythene bag, wipes it and connects it to a desktop printer.

“You see those people outside? They had to wait for me until I am done with my farm work. Those documents they are carrying need to be photocopied and others typewritten,” says Namukholi, injecting ink into a cartridge using an old syringe.

Namukholi is making the most of skills she acquired after enrolling in a free computer class. When she left school in 1964, after just three years, she could hardly have imagined that more than half a century later she would be offering tech services to her neighbours to supplement the money she earns from farming.

“It all started with a visit to my daughter who teaches at a school in Nairobi, where I was amazed at how young children were operating computers. This created the curiosity in me and, back home, I was invited to a graduation ceremony for women and girls who had completed computer and entrepreneurship training,” she says.

After the ceremony, she spoke to a teacher who encouraged her to enrol. From there, her natural enthusiasm ensured swift progress.

In a good week, especially when students are registering for national exams, Namukholi says she makes approximately 1,500 Kenyan shillings (about £12) from providing photocopying and typing services, on top of the money she makes from selling bananas and groundnuts.

    Empower a girl with digital literacy and the possibilities are truly endless
    Dr Musimbi Kanyoro, Global Fund for Women

Namukholi and other women in western Kenya are benefiting from training in basic ICT skills and digital entrepreneurship under the Women and the Web Alliance, a public-private partnership involving USAid, NetHope, Intel Corporation, World Pulse, World Vision and Women in Technology in Nigeria. The alliance was created to improve the digital literacy of women and girls in Nigeria and Kenya.

Anne Rengo, 43, a mother of five, received training through the initiative to improve her tailoring business. Rengo, who married at 18 – cutting short her education – says the training has helped her become more efficient and taught her how to market her products better.

“Having sewn designs, I used to spend lots of hours hawking the clothing. But after obtaining the training, all I need to do is to download designs, sew them and post the finished products to my clients via WhatsApp and wait for orders,” says Rengo.

Her tailoring business, located at Mukhonje market along the Eldoret-Uganda highway, now employs four women.

According to Dr Musimbi Kanyoro, president and CEO of the Global Fund for Women, giving women and girls the skills to access, navigate, and create technology will not only propel innovation and drive gender equality but also have a global economic impact.

“Give a woman or a girl a mobile phone, access to the internet, empower her with digital literacy, and tell her to dream big and the possibilities are truly endless,” she says.

According to a 2013 Women and the Web report (pdf), getting another 600 million women online would contribute an estimated $13-$18bn (£9bn-12.6bn) to the GDP of poorer countries.

Jean Chawapiwa, executive director of WeConnect International, said that although technology has given women greater access to ideas, there is still insufficient access to the internet, especially in rural areas and for those on a low income.

“The majority of women still do not have access to the more sophisticated gadgets that many of us take for granted,” say Chawapiwa. “We all also know that price is a barrier.”

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« Reply #3612 on: Oct 22, 2016, 06:02 AM »

Girls learn app coding to navigate a way out of their Mumbai slum

With apps to reduce queues for water and to protect women in danger, a project teaching computer skills to girls in India’s Dharavi slum is changing aspirations

Vidhi Doshi in Mumbai
Tuesday 30 August 2016 07.00 BST

Ansuja Madival’s mother, who works as a maid, had never touched a tablet before, so the 15-year-old had to show her which buttons to press. “She was so happy when she saw what I had made,” Ansuja says. “She never knew I was so good at computers.”

No one thought schoolgirls from Mumbai’s Dharavi slum could code mobile apps. The girls didn’t even know what an app was until recently.

But for the past few months, 67 girls have been taking coding lessons at the weekends with a local non-profit, the Slum Innovation Project.

“We learned it so quickly,” says Roshani Shaikh, 14. “Because we’re girls, our parents didn’t want us to do all this in the beginning. They’d say, ‘You need to help with the housework, what will you do with computers?’ Now they say we’ve made them proud, that we’ve made the whole community proud.”

Sapna Helagi, 15, adds: “When I first came here, I couldn’t even use the mouse. I would type only two or three words in one minute. Now, see how fast I am typing.”

Dharavi is home to more than 1 million people, 5,000 businesses and 20,000 small factories. About 90% of the housing in the slum is illegal, and piles of rubbish sit next to open sewers. The slum has come to symbolise the vast inequalities of wealth in India, as well as the aspirations and ambitions of the country’s working classes.

The Dharavi girls saw computers for the first time five years ago. “We had one at school but we could only look, no touching,” says Zaberi Ansari, 15. “I did extra computer classes but it cost 600 rupees [£6] a year and all we learned was [Microsoft drawing programme] Paint. It was Paint for two years, then PowerPoint for two years and you learn nothing because you share the computer, so it’s only 15 minutes a week per person.”

Nawneet Ranjan, from the Slum Innovation Project, which runs educational and sports programmes for the slum’s children, said that at first parents were reluctant to send their girls to lessons. “You know how it is in India – the girl never gets to go to these kinds of classes. If there’s any [opportunity], it goes to the boy. Even if there’s an extra glass of milk, the boy gets to drink it, not the girl.

“The kids here don’t have much. Their parents are taxi drivers, or watch repairmen, or construction workers,” he says. “They don’t learn to dream beyond that.”

Ranjan brought laptops to the slum and started teaching computer classes two years ago, starting with programmes such as Word and Excel, and moving on to more complicated tools. “The girls know intuitively how to use smartphones and tablets. They pick it up easily. I try to teach them using stories so they can remember, and we make apps that help their communities, address problems they have in their daily lives, so they are really passionate about making them.”

Ranjan had the idea to teach code this year, when he noticed that most of the girls had access to smartphones. “I realised that if they had the skills to design apps, maybe they could solve a lot of the problems in their communities,” he says. “Girls using technology used to be almost taboo. They don’t get the same opportunities as boys, and so we thought we’d do a class especially for them.”

In Dharavi, most households have at least one smartphone, even though few homes have basic facilities such as toilets.

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s government has launched huge programmes to promote computer literacy and online connectivity as part of his Digital India campaign, but has focused on rural areas rather than the urban poor.

One of the apps developed by the girls is Women Fight Back, which has a distress alarm and geolocation tool for women who find themselves in danger. Another, Clean and Green, allows the user to take a geotagged photo of rubbish and send the picture to the local municipal authority. A third, Paani, sends an alert when it is your turn to collect water from the communal tap. “We girls spend all day queueing for water,” says Ansuja. “It means we have less time for our studies.”

Roshani and Sapna’s app, Padai, has basic English, Hindi and maths exercises for people who have never had an education. “When our parents came here, we showed them this app. They never finished school, they don’t know that two plus three equals five. So I showed them this app, and made them do the exercises. They were so happy,” says Roshani.

Learning to code and working with computers has taught the girls other skills too. “Our first lesson was using Word, and we had to type an essay with the title Myself. I had never used full stops, commas or anything like that before. I just used to write the words. Now I can use punctuation, and make sentences,” says Zaberi.

“We go home and teach our parents and brothers and sisters what we learn,” adds Roshani. “We taught them how to do their signature; they could never do it before.”

But despite the girls’ efforts, poor Wi-Fi signals and expensive mobile data means few people in the slum are likely to download and use their apps. Plus, smartphones in the slum usually belong to men, and women have limited access to them.

Still, the girls hope their skills will help them when they look for careers. “It’s already helping,” says Ansuja. “At school, my teacher saw me using the computer and she was impressed at how good I was. She asked me where I learned how to use it. I hope I can work with computers one day, and I hope I can use them to help my friends and family.”

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« Reply #3613 on: Oct 22, 2016, 06:20 AM »

U.S. Elections

Donald Trump Finally Wins a Newspaper Endorsement – From the KKK

By Rmuse on Fri, Oct 21st, 2016 at 10:09 am

"What made America great in the first place? America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great."

As this column has noted more than a couple of times during this terribly long presidential campaign, it is a fairly big deal when a candidate is considered so incredibly superior to their opponent that some media outlet, like a newspaper, gives a ringing endorsement. Although endorsements for Republican standard bearer and bigoted fascist Donald J. Trump have been few and far between, it would be negligent and unfair to ignore an endorsement from his staunchest demographic; particularly after commenting on endorsements for Hillary Clinton by the Washington Post and New York Times. So, in the spirit of fairness, it was probably very good news for the Trump campaign that the Ku Klux Klan’s official newspaper endorsed the hotel magnate and white supremacist on Wednesday.

In the latest edition of the KKK’s official newspaper, “the Crusader,” the one with a picture of Donald Trump gracing the cover, the editors gave Donald J. Trump a “glowing endorsement” and support for his candidacy and promised that Trump is finally bringing about “a resurgence of white supremacy.”

It is noteworthy that the KKK is second only to the Republican Party as America’s largest “de facto white identity organization.” It is only the past year that the GOP abandoned its typical electoral strategy of using subtle “dog whistles” to garner a majority of white racists’ votes and opted for overt white racism. Since that abandonment is primarily due to Donald Trump abandoning any pretense of “dog whistle” racism and bigotry, the Ku Klux Klan feels emboldened that one of their brethren is seeking the highest office in the land. Trump has given white supremacists a clear signal that “making America great again” means making America white and Christian; something the Founding Fathers opposed and the Constitution prohibits.

In part, the Crusader’s endorsement sought to clarify whatever misconception voters might have had that Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” is not in any way, shape or form “race neutral” or about freedom of religion. The KKK paper wrote:

“’Make American Great Again!’ It is a slogan that has been repeatedly used by Donald Trump in his campaign for the presidency. You can see it on the shirts, buttons, posters and ball caps such as the one being worn here by Trump speaking at a recent rally . . . But can it happen? Can America really be great again? This is what we will soon found out! While Trump wants to make America great again, we have to ask ourselves, What made America great in the first place? The short answer to that is simple. America was great not because of what our forefathers did — but because of who are forefathers were, America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great.”

So, not only is the KKK endorsement categorically racist, it is fundamentally false. White supremacists are either liars on par with their hero or too stupid to comprehend America was never founded as a white Christian Republic according to the white Founding Fathers. But that is not the point. The point is that Trump has incited the white supremacist sect in America and now that he is their champion, he can stop the pretense that he is not a white supremacist that fits perfectly with the KKK mold. This endorsement should not be a surprise because barely two weeks ago the editor of the white supremacist website Daily Stormer, Andrew Anglin, told the Los Angeles Times that “Virtually every alt-right Nazi I know is volunteering for the Trump campaign.”

With his campaign struggling, it is not certain whether Mr. Trump will embrace the white supremacist newspaper endorsement or pretend he has never heard the term “white supremacy.” It is, after all what he said in the past. Just six months ago when reporters asked Trump about earning an endorsement from the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, Trump lied and said, “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacist. So I don’t know. I don’t know. I know nothing about white supremacists.”

Of course everything issuing forth from Donald Trump’s racist mouth is a lie, but to say he knows “nothing about white supremacists” has got to be on the same mendacity level as claiming he respects women. For example, Fortune reported that for not knowing anything about white supremacists, it is curious that Donald Trump has personally ‘retweeted’ “at least 75 separate posts directly from other white supremacists.”

And, this is not just down to Donald Trump’s white supremacist leanings. The leadership of the Republican Party gladly accepted the white supremacists’ support for the GOP standard bearer when, during Trump’s acceptance speech at the RNC, the Party displayed “Twitter comments of a known racist on four large screens” around the venue for all the other white supremacist Republicans to see, to celebrate, and to draw encouragement from.

Although Donald Trump has worked diligently to earn an endorsement from the Ku Klux Klan, and although the GOP has been pandering to the white supremacist crowd for decades, it is fair to say the Republican Party’s white supremacy and rank racism is now popular among the faithful and considered mainstream on the right.

Of course the Crusader’s endorsement is not the kind of support, or characterization, any decent human being would relish. However, with Donald Trump struggling to garner electoral support and to feed his oversized ego, it is fair to say that Trump will accept the endorsement as a sign that the time is right to officially ramp up his appeal to bigots and hate-mongers on the fringes of the “alt-right Nazi” movement with a new campaign pledge to “make America white and Christian” like the KKK demands.


We Are Watching History As Hillary Clinton Is Demolishing Trump In Every Imaginable Way

By Jason Easley on Fri, Oct 21st, 2016 at 11:19 am

According to a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, Hillary Clinton is demolishing Trump at the core of America’s heart and soul. She is solidifying the Obama coalition’s hold on political power with a history making and diverse lead that begins around America’s dinner tables.

The poll found that Clinton leads Trump with women who have never been married (67%-18%), married women (48%-40%), men who have never been married (51%-28%), women who don’t have children (63%-23%), women with children (50%-38), and men without children (49%-33%).

Trump’s two areas of support are with married men (52%-35%), and men with children (52%-35%).

When these numbers are combined with Hillary Clinton’s overwhelming leads with African-American, Latino, and Asian voters, a clear picture emerges of the complete demolition that Clinton is putting on Trump.

The 2016 race is strictly divided along gender lines. Hillary Clinton has big leads among groups of men. Donald Trump’s base of support has been reduced to conservative married men with children who a vast of are white.

What is unfolding before the eyes of voters is the type of electoral romp that the country has witnessed in decades. If the momentum keeps moving in her direction, Hillary Clinton could win in a potential 1964 level landslide.

Hillary Clinton is in the midst of accomplishing something historic. While many focus on her potentially becoming the first woman to be elected president, the way that she is winning could also be a campaign for the record books.

Clinton is in the midst of doing something amazing that in the era of deeply divided partisan politics wasn’t supposed to happen. She is winning at the nation’s dinner tables, and expanding Obama’s majority into a diverse coalition that will rule American politics.

Donald Trump’s defeat is another step in the rise of diverse America’s political power.


Hillary Clinton’s New Must See Ad Starring Khizr Khan Will Move You To Tears

By Jason Easley on Fri, Oct 21st, 2016 at 12:41 pm

The Hillary Clinton campaign released an ad starring Khizr Khan is powerful, heartbreaking, and moving on a deeply emotional level. It is easily the best ad of the 2016 presidential election, and a must see for all voters.


The campaign ad tells the story of how Captain Humayun Khan, who was a Muslim-American, saved his entire unit in Iraq by sacrificing his own life to stop a suicide bomber.

The ad ends with Kazir Khan asking a simple and heartbreaking question, “I want to ask Mr. Trump, would my son have a place in your America?”

This advertisement goes beyond political messaging and voter outreach. It strikes people on an emotional level. It is a father showing America the face of the people that Donald Trump has chosen to demonize. Kazir Khan has made an effective moral argument against Trump’s bigotry towards Muslim-Americans since the Democratic convention, but this ad, which is running in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania tells voters what the election is really about.

Republicans wanted Hillary Clinton to be the central question in this election, but thanks to Trump’s comments and behavior, a deeper conversation has taken central stage.

The question of who we are and what we value as Americans is the underlying theme of this contest.

The Kazir Khan ad directly answers that question, which is why it is the best ad of the 2016 presidential election.


Donald Trump responds to Michelle Obama’s brutal takedown — and fails miserably

David Ferguson
21 Oct 2016 at 15:08 ET                   

On Friday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used an out-of-context line from a 2007 campaign speech by Michelle Obama to attack both her and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

According to, Trump was speaking at a rally in North Carolina when he made the remarks.

“We have a bunch of babies running our country, a bunch of losers. They are babies. We have a president, all he wants to do is campaign. His wife, all she wants to do is campaign,” he said.

“I see how much his wife likes Hillary, but wasn’t she the one that started the statement: ‘If you can’t take care of your home, you can’t take care of the White House or the country?'”

The notoriously thin-skinned candidate was responding to the First Lady’s remarks from Thursday in which she described him as out-of-touch with the struggles of most Americans.

“Perhaps living life high up in a tower in a world of exclusive clubs, measuring success by wins and losses, the number of zeros in your bank account. Perhaps you just develop a different set of values,” she said at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona. “Maybe with so little exposure to people who are different than you, it becomes easy to take advantage of those who are down on their luck.”

“To him,” she said, “most of America is ‘them.’”

In 2007, when Obama was campaigning for her husband the Illinois senator, PolitiFact reported, she made a speech in Iowa in which she discussed the challenges of balancing two careers, two daughters and politics.

“One of the things, the important aspects of this race, is role modeling what good families should look like. And my view is that if you can’t run your own house, you certainly can’t run the White House. Can’t do it,” she said. “So, so we’ve adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he’s traveling around, I do day trips.”

Obama continued, “They just know that I was at home to tuck them in at night, and it keeps them grounded, and, and children, the children in our country have to know that they come first. And our girls do, and that’s why we’re doing this. We’re in this race for not just our children, but all of our children.”

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Jennifer Hunter wrote at the time that the comments could perhaps be seen as a “swipe at the Clintons,” which was enough for Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report, who blasted the story out to his credulous readers as a sign of a blood feud between the Obama family and the Clintons.

“Barack Obama rejected that interpretation,” PolitiFact said, “saying in a conference call with reporters that ‘there was no reference beyond her point that we have had an administration that talks a lot about family values but doesn’t follow through.'”


Salma Hayek shot down Trump for a date so he planted a phony story in the National Enquirer

Erin Corbett
Raw Story
21 Oct 2016 at 17:41 ET                   

In a radio interview on Friday, actress and Clinton surrogate Salma Hayek spoke out about the various women accusing Republican nominee Donald Trump of sexual harassment and assault, BuzzFeed News reports.

Reporter Adrian Carrasquillo writes that Hayek told the host of the Los Angeles show, El Show del Mandril on Radio Centro 93.9, “When I met that man I had a boyfriend and he tried to become his friend to get my home telephone number.”

She added, “He got my number and he would call me to invite me out.” Hayek said she told him she wouldn’t go out with him even if she wasn’t in a relationship.

The actress said that her rejecting Trump then led to a story in the National Enquirer, which instead claimed Trump said he wouldn’t date the actress because she was “too short.”

She said, “Later, he called and left me a message. ‘Can you believe this? Who would say this? I don’t want people to think this about you.’”

Trump has ties to the National Enquirer, making Hayek’s account seem likely. The Republican nominee is good friends with Executive Editor David Pecker.

During the primaries, Trump claimed that he read a story published in the outlet alleging Ted Cruz’ father was with Lee Harvey Oswald before he assassinated John F. Kennedy. Pecker also endorsed him in March.

Hayek has been an outspoken critic of Trump since he announced his campaign, specifically because of his anti-immigrant rhetoric and racist remarks toward Mexicans.

She reportedly dislikes him so much, she won’t even utter his name. “I don’t repeat and I don’t say his name because I don’t want to give him extra publicity,” Hayek said, according to the Huffington Post.

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Women nurture saplings and earn income while reforesting Pakistan

The 'Billion Tree Tsunami' plans to plant 1 billion trees in degraded forest areas and on private land in Pakistan to provide an ecological and economic boost.   

By Aamir Saeed, Thomson Reuters Foundation 10/24/2016

HARIPUR, Pakistan — Robina Gul has swapped her needle for a trowel. Until recently, the villager from northern Pakistan got by making clothes for family weddings and religious festivals, but now she is encouraging other women to set up tree nurseries like hers that can earn them a handsome monthly income.

Gul is growing some 25,000 saplings of 13 different species crammed into the small courtyard of her two-room house in Najaf Pur, a village of around 8,000 people in the Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

"It gives me immense pleasure to look after the saplings as this has changed my whole life," said Gul, 35. "It has become a hobby for me and a source of income too."

She set up the nursery at her home in March last year under an agreement with the provincial forest department. The government provides around a quarter of the start-up cost for poor households to set up a tree nursery, with a subsidy amounting to 150,000 rupees ($1,429.93) each over a year.

They first get black polythene bags from the forest department to fill with mud and manure, followed by seeds and training on how to sow them and tend to the trees.

"I am now getting over 12,000 rupees per month [from the subsidy], just by looking after the saplings in my home," Gul said. "I have also acquired the skills I need to grow different seedlings, and this will help me earn enough even after the project is wound up."

The provincial government is planning to spend 21 billion rupees from its budget through to May 2018, when its term ends, on a project called the "Billion Tree Tsunami." The goal is to plant 1 billion trees in degraded forest areas and on private land.

The project is part of the Green Growth Initiative launched in February 2014 in Peshawar by former international cricket star Imran Khan, who is chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which governs the province.

The initiative aims to boost local economic development in a way that uses natural resources sustainably, with a focus on increasing clean energy uptake and forest cover.

The government has turned forest restoration into a business model by outsourcing nurseries to the private sector, including widows, poor women, and young people. This provides the government with saplings to plant, as well as green jobs for the community.

At the same time, illegal logging has been almost eliminated in the province following strict disciplinary action against some officials who were involved. Other measures include hiring local people to guard forests and banning wood transportation.

According to government data, Pakistan has forest cover on 4.4 million hectares (10.87 million acres) or 5 percent of its land area, while the current rate of deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year, one of the highest in the world.

The forestry sector contributed $1.3 billion to Pakistan's economy in 2011, or around 0.6 percent of GDP, while employing some 53,000 people directly, according to Global Forest Watch.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, individuals interested in setting up a small-scale nursery of 25,000 plants are selected by Village Development Committees.

The provincial government guarantees to buy the saplings they grow, according to Malik Amin Aslam, adviser to Khan and global vice president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

"The government provides seeds and all relevant technical assistance to the beneficiaries, and then buys back one-year-old saplings at a fixed price of six rupees per seedling," he said.

So far, there are 1,747 private and 280 government-run nurseries in the province, with a planting stock of 45 million and 165 million saplings respectively, he said. They will all be transplanted onto the land in March and April, he added.

"These nurseries are not only providing the planting stock for the 'Billion Tree' drive but are also generating tremendous economic activity throughout the province," he said.

Aslam said the government had planted 115 million saplings so far and sown seeds for 300 million more at a cost of 1.5 billion rupees, with a survival rate of over 80 percent for the young trees planted out in August and September.

Zobia Gul, a community development officer in the forest department, mobilizes women and educated girls in remote areas to play an active part in society by setting up nurseries.

"Most of the families in the rural part of the province are conservative," she said. "Here comes the role of the female forest officials in reaching women in their homes and informing them about the project."

Local men appear happy with efforts to include women in the scheme because it allows them to bring in money without having to go out to work.

Over 500 women are directly involved in the project, giving them pride in their work establishing the nurseries and serving as custodians of the forests around their villages, the officer said.

Inspired by these women, around 150 more across the province have registered with community development officers to start nurseries in the upcoming season, starting from March.

"I am going to become part of Imran Khan's vision and the 'Billion Tree Tsunami' project," said Farwa Ambreen, a recent graduate from the University of Peshawar.

"I believe this is going to help not only Pakistan but also the whole world in boosting the green economy and tackling climate change," she said.

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