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Author Topic: ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE, GLOBAL WARMING, AND CULTURE  (Read 2351846 times)
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Rad
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« on: Nov 22, 2015, 09:31 AM »

All,

We are going to restart our thread on the climate, our environment, and the consequences of global warming that we had to remove because of being threatened by The Guardian with legal actions because we had dared to post some of their articles on this subject in that thread.

This restart happened in 2015 and has been posting and accumulating articles since that time. Over time this has taken up lot's and lot's of space on our server that became way to much. So we will be now be adjusting how long we store articles posted to it to one year at most.

God Bless, Rad
« Last Edit: Oct 14, 2018, 09:05 AM by Rad » Logged
Darja
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 07, 2018, 04:18 AM »

The Latest: EU: Wildfires show impact of climate change

New Europe
8/7/2018

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The Latest on hot weather and wildfires in Europe (all times local): 1:25 p.m. A European Union official says the dozens of forest fires in Sweden this summer "have highlighted once again the impact of climate change."

EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides says, "we are facing a new reality" regarding climate change. He said the 28-member bloc must "collectively learn from these tragedies" and must become "collectively (be) better prepared and stronger in responding to multiple disasters across the continent."

Stylianides said Monday in Stockholm that more than 360 firefighters, seven planes, six helicopters and 67 vehicles were mobilized through the European Civil Protection Mechanism in the past three weeks, calling it the "the single biggest operation" in a decade.

Sweden has seen dozens of wildfires, mostly in central and western parts of the country but also even above the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden. Fires have died down, but authorities remain vigilant.

11:55 a.m.

Authorities in Norway have warned motorists to watch out for reindeer and sheep taking shelter from the heat in tunnels.

The Norwegian Public Roads Administration said that last month there was a collision between a motorcycle and a reindeer and Norway's main news agency NTB says there have been 44 collisions with roaming reindeer and sheep since July 10, most of them fatal for the animals.

The administration said the reports come mainly from Arctic Norway, which has seen high temperatures in recent weeks.

Norway has an estimated reindeer population of 220,000, and according to official figures, more than 800,000 sheep.

10:30 a.m.

Three French cities have banned the most polluting cars from the roads because of pollution linked to the current heat wave in Europe.

In Paris and Strasbourg, the ban concerns vehicles that are 12 years and older, while in Lyon only cars with a clean air sticker are allowed.

Authorities warned of a peak of ozone pollution Monday because of high temperatures. Ozone is formed in the atmosphere from emissions of other air pollutants including emissions from vehicles.

It can cause irritation to the eyes, sore throats and breathing problems.

The heat wave in France is expected to last until Thursday, with temperatures peaking Tuesday.

Four nuclear reactors have already been temporarily closed in France because of the high heat.

10:20 a.m.

Emergency services in Portugal say they are still fighting a major wildfire on the south coast that threatened to engulf a hillside town overnight.

The Civil Protection Agency said Monday that 44 people required medical assistance as the blaze passed by the outskirts of Monchique, 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Lisbon, in the dark. A 72-year-old woman was seriously hurt.

Authorities said that more than 1,000 firefighters with 327 vehicles and seven aircraft were battling the blaze.

The wind-driven fire has raced across tinder-dry pine and eucalyptus forest in a largely inaccessible hill range behind the famous beaches of Portugal's Algarve vacation region.

Plumes of black smoke have blown across beaches popular with European tourists.

Firefighters expect forecast cooler temperatures to help them bring the fire under control.

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

Lisbon breaks record for maximum temp, hits 44 C (111.2 F)

New Europe
8/7/2018

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Lisbon broke a 37-year-old record to notch its hottest temperature ever as an unrelenting heat wave baked Portugal and neighboring Spain. New heat records were set in 26 places around Portugal.

Portugal's weather service said the capital reached 44 degrees Celsius (111.2 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday afternoon, surpassing the city's previous record of 43 C (109.4 F) set in 1981. The day's hottest temperature of 46.8 C (116.2 F) was recorded at Alvega in the center of Portugal. The country's highest temperature on record is 47.4 C (117.3 F) from 2003.

Portugal's weather service said new maximum highs were recorded at 26 places from measurements taken at a total of 96 weather stations around the country. More than 60 percent of the country registered temperatures of over 40 C (104 F).

The hot, dusty conditions across the Iberian Peninsula are the result of a mass of hot air from Africa and have increased the risk of forest fires. Over 700 firefighters were still battling a forest fire near the Portuguese town of Monchique in the southern Algarve region, a popular tourist destination.

Six people were injured late Saturday as they escaped a separate blaze near the Portuguese town of Estremoz, civil protection officer Jose Ribeiro told the Portuguese state television RTP. Sunday's forecasts called for temperatures to dip slightly while remaining extremely high.

Portugal issued warnings of extreme heat for most of the country and forecast maximum temperatures of 44 C (111.2 F) for some areas in the south. Spain lowered its warnings for heat from "red" to "orange" for large parts of the south, but highs there were still predicted to reach 40-42 C (104-107.6 F).


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« Reply #2 on: Aug 07, 2018, 04:23 AM »

The oceans’ last chance: ‘It has taken years of negotiations to set this up’

Wildlife in most of the lawless high seas faces an existential threat from fishing, shipping and the military. Next month, a landmark UN conference could finally bring hope

by Robin McKie
Guardian
7 Aug 2018 08.00 BST

The leatherback turtle is one of our planet’s most distinctive creatures. It can live for decades and grow to weigh up to two tonnes. It is the largest living reptile on Earth and its evolutionary roots reach back more than 100 million years.

“Leatherbacks are living fossils,” says oceanographer Professor Callum Roberts, of York University. “But they are not flourishing. In fact, they are being wiped out at an extraordinary rate, particularly in the Pacific Ocean, where their numbers have declined by 97% over the past three decades. They are now critically endangered there.”

Leatherbacks are suffering for several reasons. They have been hunted for their meat for centuries and the spread of tourist resorts disrupts turtles when they come ashore to lay their eggs on sandy beaches. But the cause of the most recent, most massive decline in numbers of Dermochelys coriacea has a far more pernicious cause: long-line fishing in the high seas.

Some trawlers now drag fishing lines that are more than 75 miles long, each bristling with hooks. Tens of thousands of sea turtles get snagged on these and drown every year. “It is tragic,” says Roberts.

And this carnage goes unchecked – for the simple reason that there is no protection at all for species, endangered or otherwise, on seas outside national waters. The list includes fish and seabirds, plus fragile ecosystems such as deep-sea corals.

“Outside national waters, in the high seas, it is essentially a no man’s land when it comes to protecting sensitive environments and their inhabitants,” says Paul Snelgrove, a deep-sea biologist at Memorial University in St John’s, Canada. “It is a highly unsatisfactory state of affairs.”

This lack of protection has increasingly vexed conservationists who for more than a decade have been urging that global action must be taken to protect the biodiversity of the high seas. This pressure has now produced an international response. Next month a major conference, organised by the United Nations, will be held in New York in a bid to get governments to agree measures to protect the high seas before their biodiversity is irreparably damaged. This will be followed by other meetings aimed at creating a treaty that would control and protect wildlife by 2020.

“These negotiations represent the greatest opportunity in history to decide the future of our oceans,” said Sandra Schöttner of Greenpeace’s Global Oceans campaign. “The life of our seas – from dolphins and turtles to blue whales – depends on the outcome of the next two years of discussions. Governments now have an opportunity to deliver a treaty that will allow us to protect oceans for the first time.”

Just over 70% of our planet is covered with ocean and of that ocean, 58% lies outside national jurisdiction. These are the high seas and they lie outside the 200 nautical mile limit that extends from individual countries’ shorelines and marks the boundaries of their national waters. Outside these limits, on the high seas, there is simply no effective protection for creatures, plants or habitats.

“It means that more than 40% of the entire surface of the Earth has no protection for its wildlife or habitat,” says Roberts. “It is a highly disturbing situation, to say the least.”

And leatherbacks are certainly not the only creatures that are suffering or heading towards extinction thanks to this failure to provide protection. Numbers of whales, sharks, migratory birds including the albatross and many other creatures are also declining rapidly, with the result that species such as the North Atlantic right whale are now hovering perilously close to extinction. Indeed, whole ecosystems are threatened, as is happening in the Sargasso Sea, in the North Atlantic.

Discovered by Christopher Columbus and noted for the mats of Sargassum seaweed that cover its surface, the Sargasso is the only sea on our planet that is not bordered by land. Its extremities are instead defined by the ocean currents that sweep around it and contain it. (These are the Gulf Stream, and the North Atlantic, Canary, and North Atlantic Equatorial currents.)

But the Sargasso is under threat. It is crisscrossed by cargo ships that are increasing in tonnage year by year; more and more trawlers are dragging long lines and gill nets through its water; and the currents that circle the sea now trap vast amounts of plastic waste at its centre. Pollution is rising alarmingly and fish stocks are plummeting.

And given that the Sargasso Sea is the spawning ground for both the American and the European eel, any threat to its environmental integrity is a matter of considerable consequence to many nations – even though they may be thousands of miles distant.

“The Sargasso Sea is a perfect example of the type of threats that face life in the high seas and highlights just how desperately we need a new, powerful statutory body that can protect these vulnerable places,” says marine conservationist Richard Page, who has worked closely with Roberts in pressing for a high seas biodiversity treaty. “It would be a prime place for protection. The central Arctic ocean would be another as would be the waters above the mid-Atlantic ridge. All have considerable ecological importance.”

Another example of the crises facing life in the high seas is the North Atlantic right whale. It was hunted close to extinction by the middle of the 20th century, but numbers were recovering by 2000, thanks to an international moratorium on its killing. However, over the past few years the population has crashed again. As a result, it is believed that there are fewer than 100 reproductively mature females left alive.

Several factors are involved in the right whale’s predicament. More and more are being struck by container vessels or tankers as Atlantic shipping increases. Noise from naval sonar devices and entanglement in fishing gear are also playing a part in their deaths and injuries. Some survive, but many are too stressed or injured to breed. As a result, marine biologists have warned that the North Atlantic right whale – considered a conservation success story until only a few years ago – could be extinct by 2040.

And then there are seabirds. Data on all monitored seabird colonies around the world since 1950 show that populations have fallen by 70%, says conservationists. There are many reasons for this decline. Getting caught in hooks dragged by fishing lines is one. Rising levels of plastics, which are choking young seabirds, is another. In addition, problems have stemmed from the fact that many islands on which seabirds have colonies have seen fast-growing populations of rats and cats, with devastating consequences.

Urgent measures are now needed to address all these threats, say biologists. However, without a high seas commission – a major goal of the forthcoming UN conference – to limit overfishing and shipping, there is little that can be done, they say.

“We first need an overarching high seas commission that would then have the power to set up marine protected areas in key zones, such as the Sargasso Sea,” says Will McCallum, head of oceans for Greenpeace. “We need a legally binding mandate to protect, not just to exploit our oceans.”

At present, the only bodies that control human activities in the high seas are those set up to control industries: fishing, oil, seabed minerals and shipping. These form a patchwork of around 20 organisation regulated under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,.

In the case of those involved in protecting fisheries, groups – known as regional fisheries management organisations – have been set up to maintain sustainable populations of various fish, such as the bluefin tuna, in regions of the high seas. However, in many cases, they have failed to control unregulated fishing and their success rates in protecting fish stocks have often been poor, sometimes lamentable, biologists say.

An example is provided by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (Iccat), which is supposed to manage the bluefin tuna (as well as shark and swordfish) fisheries. However it has allowed numbers of this commercially important fish to decline to such a level that they now stand at 3% of their total in 1960, leaving the species hovering on the brink of extinction.

“Iccat has failed to stop the overfishing of the tuna – the one thing it was set up to achieve – and has become known as the International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna”, says Roberts. “And to a lesser extent that is true of the other regional fisheries management groups. They had one job – to protect fish in their region – and they have screwed that up.”

These failures to prevent catastrophic declines in so many species and to control vessels in the high seas have led to the major push to protect biodiversity in our oceans.

Supporters of the scheme envisage a new high seas commission taking control of regional fisheries management groups while establishing new scientific bodies for assessing threats to various regions.

Marine protected areas (MPAs) in which fishing is limited or banned would be set up until at least 30% of the high seas could be cordoned off and protected. These measures would not stop plastics swirling into the oceans and choking seabirds. Nor would they stop oceans from warming or their waters from becoming more acidic. But they would give their inhabitants greater resilience in dealing with these stresses.

Over the past few years, several marine protected areas have been set up in coastal waters, but in most cases measures to protect them have been weak. Backers of the high seas treaty envisage far stricter controls for their MPAs. Catches of fish would be very tightly regulated – possibly to the extent of halting them. In addition, nations with access to satellite technology and other tracking equipment would be asked to help monitor the new MPAs and help enforce regulations.

Individual governments have yet to make their positions clear on how they will support these proposals but observers are hopeful the conference will produce results. They view the New York meeting as the oceanic equivalent of the Paris climate accord.

To date, Iceland, Japan, and South Korea – all major fishing nations – have indicated support and although Russia and the US have not said they will back the idea of a treaty they have not announced any opposition.

Only when the conference starts, on 4 September, will observers get a clear idea how the battle lines, if any, will be drawn up.

Liz Karan of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which has been following the issue closely, remains optimistic. “Most people on Earth now live near the coast,” she says. “They understand coastal waters, but until recently there was a lack of awareness about what was happening in the high seas. It was just somewhere endless over the horizon and could absorb anything you threw at it. But recent awareness of issues like plastic pollution has changed that, and there is also a more widespread appreciation of the role that the oceans play in controlling the climate.

“People are beginning to realise that there is only so much that the seas can take, and that there is a need for much better conservation on the high seas. I think governments will realise that when they all start talking next month.”

But if they fail to find accord, the consequences will be grim, says Roberts. “It has taken years of negotiations to set up this conference. If we miss this opportunity, we will probably not get another opportunity to save the high seas for another 40 years. By then, there will probably not be much left that is worth protecting.”


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« Reply #3 on: Aug 07, 2018, 04:46 AM »


'No madam can scare me': maid turned comedian mocks India's elite

Deepika Mhatre has turned her experiences as a cook for rich families into a standup routine

Amrit Dhillon in Delhi
Guardian
Tue 7 Aug 2018 01.00 BST

It is considered insolent in India for a maid to talk back. But one housekeeper in Mumbai is challenging the expectation to be submissive and obedient by lampooning the world of domestic employment in a standup routine several nights a week.

“Although my employers were mostly nice to me, I used to hear horror stories from other maids,” Deepika Mhatre, 43, told the Guardian. “I used my experiences for my routine, like other comedians,” she said.

Mhatre’s daily routine hardly lent itself to laughs. Her day would start at 4am. From 4.30 she travelled on various commuter trains, selling imitation jewellery to passengers on their way to work in downtown Mumbai. By 7am she arrived at the first of five homes in Malad where she cooked.

At 2pm she would leave for the 90-minute journey home, where she did her household chores, looked after her ailing, asthmatic husband, who has not worked for 15 years, and their three daughters, and bought and packed jewellery for the next day.

    It’s the first opportunity I’ve ever had to be someone
    Deepika Mhatre

At 6pm she would start cooking dinner for the family. These days, however, in the evenings she catches a train into town and performs at one of Mumbai’s comedy clubs.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZddcQEtV9Gc

Standup comedy in India is in its infancy. The humour Indians enjoy in private is missing from public life and entertainment, and Bollywood’s idea of humour is slapstick. A maid doing standup comedy is unheard of.

On stage, a matronly figure in a salwar kameez and dupatta – a long scarf – with her long hair tied back, she tells the audience she is special. So special that in the building where she works, she says, they have installed a special lift just for her. She pauses. In the homes where she works, they even have special plates and glasses just for her, she says.

It takes a second or two before the audience understands that she is satirising the habit across India of forcing domestic staff – maids, cooks, nannies and drivers – to use separate elevators so they don’t “pollute” the lifts used by the rich residents, and to eat off separate plates.

“That’s fine. Go and hide your precious utensils that I am not allowed to use,” continues Mhatre. “But whose hands made the chapattis you eat? And whose hands apply the balm when a tired madam [lady of the house] needs a massage?”

Mhatre goes on to talk about how maids have to sit on the floor, use a separate chair or stand in a corner, and she makes fun of how the rich haggle with the poor over a few measly rupees but will happily pay whatever price is marked on goods in a swanky mall.

Mhatre’s sets can be seen as an attack on India’s extreme social inequality, and the inability of the rich to treat the poor as their equals. “Why do they do this? It’s because they have no heart, no feeling for poor people,” she said.

Mhatre had always made her family crack up. But it was only when one of her employers, Sangeeta Vyas - who Mhatre says was much nicer than most – one day arranged a talent show for people who work as maids or drivers that Mhatre got a chance to perform. “All the other participants sang or danced. I got on stage and talked about madams. The audience liked it.”

After a journalist heard about her, she was invited to perform at gigs and received encouragement from Aditi Mittal, a Mumbai comedian who has a web show called Bad Girls, which features unconventional women doing unconventional things. Her two-minute routine has gradually expanded to 10 minutes. “She can mine this madam material – their classist and superior ways – for ages because their behaviour is so ridiculous,” said Mittal.

Making fun of oneself is not common in India, where blowing one’s own trumpet is more widespread, but audiences seem to appreciate her self-deprecation – despite the fact that, as Mittal says, she speaks truth to power.

The gruelling routine of rising at 4am and getting home at midnight after a gig became too much for her, and two months ago she stopped her cooking work. Now it’s only the jewellery income that supports the family. “It’s tough but I don’t want to give it up. It’s the first opportunity I’ve ever had to be someone.”

Given the profoundly subordinate status of maids in India, Mhatre could be forgiven for being worried about any possible repercussions, but she says firmly that “no madam can scare me”.

“My struggles in life have made me strong. Appearing on stage has added to my confidence now, so no, I don’t fear any repercussions. In fact, some madams who bumped into me near the lifts spoke politely to me for the first time. Before, I had been invisible.”


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« Reply #4 on: Aug 07, 2018, 04:53 AM »

Here’s how Trump’s sexism is destroying women’s lives

Nick Powers - COMMENTARY
Raw Story
01 Aug 2018 at 11:12 ET                   

Trump is a wrecking ball of male ego, who has rolled over women from his Manhattan playboy days to the presidency. Now in the Oval Office, his sexism is magnified by his need for the Religious Right as a base. He has weakened equal pay laws, restated the Gag Rule and lined up a Supreme Court nominee who wants to reverse Roe vs. Wade. The man is waging a war on women.

His presidency is the apex of two forms of male supremacy. The first is Trump’s personal history of sexually objectifying women. The second is the Christian Right that wants women to “joyfully submit” to traditional family values. They are step by step, recreating, Hell on earth for women.
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Toilets and Trophies

Trump is sexist. He is cad, a dog, a rake. He is a New York socialite Lothario, who objectifies women as interchangeable, dolls on his arm. He used upper class, trophy wives to reflect his ambition. He used working class, porn stars as toilets to flush his orgasms down. He’s always been, a disgusting pig.

In his public life, he’s moved through New York’s elite from hobnobbing at Studio 54 to real estate meetings while cheating on his wives. In 1990, he took a trip to Aspen with his wife of thirteen years, Ivana Trump and brought his mistress, Marla Maples, who cheekily asked Ivana at a restaurant, “I love your husband. Do you?”

It is not about the adultery, so much as how his objectification of women leads to a violation of their boundaries. It ranges from in-your-facedisrespect to harassment to selfish, unprotected sex to rape. In a car ride with Maples, he bragged about other women. Yet numerous womensaid Trump groped or forcibly kissed them. The guy doesn’t seem to like asking for consent. He either, “grabs them by the pussy” or as in the quickie with Stormy Daniels, he doesn’t use a condom without even inquiring if she wanted unprotected sex. The most severe example of his violation of boundaries is when Ivana, accused him of rape.

Being an unrepentant, sexist normally, makes one ineligible for public office. Now, it is the exact opposite. Trump’s sexism endeared him to voters. The Christian Right, saw him as a vehicle for their legislation and invoked a hypocritical logic. They do so because despite Trump’s many “sins”, he shares their views on gender. Women are objects.

Right on Time

“I prophesized Donald Trump as the forty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, fulfillment for America, a Cyrus,” said Lance Wallnau, a Christian author, selling real estate strategies for the apocalypse. No, I did not make that up.

Evangelical leaders like Mike Evans and Wallnu use the Biblical myth of Cyrus, a pagan king, who fulfilled God’s plan to explain their “vessel theology”. In it, Trump, like Cyrus is a “vessel” to make divine edict into policy.

What is their plan? It is to target women’s freedom. No sex education. No abortion. No RU-486 or the “morning after pill”. No women leaders. Definitely, no woman president. In other words, to use the Bible as a blueprint for society.

Although only one part of the Republican coalition, the Religious Right, specifically white evangelicals, who voted for Trump overwhelmingly, are in panic mode about their place in America. The Millennial Generation is more secular. Gay marriage has passed, here and in other Western nations. Ireland just made abortion, legal. Transgender people are visible. The most vibrant part of society is the profane, raucous pop culture. What we see as progress, they see as Signs of the End Times.

In this war between God and Satan, women’s bodies are the battle ground. Since Trump didn’t win the popular vote, he needs them badly and doesn’t mind doing what he’s done his whole life; sacrifice women to get what he wants. The list is long. He attacked Planned Parenthood. He reinstated the global Gag Rule that blocked groups that get U.S. aid from offering referrals on abortion. He cut funding for U.N.’s Population Fund which supports family planning, gender equity and the health of mothers.

Now his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, if confirmed, may overturn, Roe vs Wade and send the life and death question of abortion to the states. If so, it’s possible that abortion could again, be banned in twenty-two states. If that happens, it will be exactly what Trump promised the Religious Right.

What a sickening, fear to live with. Trump, a man who flaunted affairs, who violated his wife and seemed never to meet a condom he liked wearing will now, make an unwanted pregnancy a life threatening danger. All this to satisfy the Jesus Freaks.

War on Women

“I have tremendous respect for women,” Trump Tweeted on his phone which should’ve instantly self-destructed. No, he doesn’t have respect. His life is evidence of tremendous contempt for them.

On behalf of America’s Religious Right, Trump wages a war on women. He reinforces the global order of state powered, male supremacy. In their 2008 book Half the Sky, New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristoff and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, traveled the globe to chronicle women’s lives. They found girls who were sex trafficked, women banned from politics and in the poorest nations; women who have little support for their reproductive rights. They met women targeted in war, who live with violent husbands or were bartered between families in child marriages.

America is not the best place but it is for many, a refuge and where women can have greater freedom. The longer Trump stays in the White House, the more we lose ground and edge closer to fundamentalism.

Already, somewhere in America, a young woman is pregnant. She’s scared. She’s poor. She lives in a state where only one abortion provider is left but it’s expensive and far. She doesn’t need Jesus. She needs the freedom to choose. And for us to respect it.


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« Reply #5 on: Aug 07, 2018, 04:55 AM »

Women Making Science Videos on YouTube Face Hostile Comments

After studying 23,005 comments left on videos about science and related topics, a researcher says, “I could see why people would not want to be on YouTube.”

By Adrianne Jeffries
NY Times
8/7/2018

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are popular topics on YouTube. Some channels that stream videos on these subjects have millions of subscribers. Most are hosted by men.

“There is a lot of discussion about YouTube being an unpleasant environment for female creators,” said Inoka Amarasekara, an Australian researcher in science communication. “I wanted to see if that affected science communication on YouTube, and if that was something I could corroborate.”

In fact it was.

“She so ugly I almost threw up. Ew.”

“I was just staring at your bbbooo.....i mean eyes.”

“Go back to the kitchen and make me double stack sandwich.”

These are some of the 23,005 YouTube comments that form the basis of a new paper by Ms. Amarasekara and Will Grant, a lecturer at Australian National University, published last week in the journal Public Understanding of Science. They found a tough environment for women who create YouTube videos centered on science, drawing both more comments per view than men and also a higher proportion of critical comments as well as remarks about their appearances.

“The comment space for women on YouTube seems to be more volatile, both positive and negative,”  Dr. Grant said.

Ms. Amarasekara didn’t feel confident that an automated sentiment analysis could capture the meaning of the comments, so she manually sorted each of the thousands of comments into one of six categories: positive; negative or critical; hostile; sexist or sexual; appearance-based; and neutral or general discussion. Of course, that meant she had to read them all.

“I was quite disappointed by the time I’d gone through them,” she said. “I could see why people would not want to be on YouTube.”

The researchers found that about 14 percent of comments for female on-camera hosts were critical, compared to about six percent for male hosts.

They also found female hosts got a much larger proportion of comments about appearance (4.5 percent for women versus 1.4 percent for men) and comments that were sexist or sexual (nearly three percent of comments for women versus about a quarter-percent for men).

There were some positives for women as well. Female on-camera hosts elicited more comments, likes and subscribers per view than the other categories. They even received a slightly higher percentage of positive comments compared to male hosts.

Some of the researchers’ findings echoed a 2014 study that looked at comments on TED Talks. When the presenter was a woman, 15.28 percent of comments were about her as opposed to the talk, TED or other topic. When the speaker was a man, only 9.84 percent of comments were about him.

That study also found that comments for videos with female presenters tended to be more “emotional” — significantly both more positive and negative.

Facing YouTube critics is like “someone is leaving a Post-it note on your desk every day telling you why you’re not qualified or why your voice is horrid,” said Vanessa Hill, who has 435,330 subscribers on her channel BrainCraft.

“I’m sure it does discourage some female creators from starting a channel, but I think it goes further than that,” she said. “It discourages female creators from continuing to make videos and being able to do that at a professional or semiprofessional level.”

Indeed, Ms. Amarasekara ran into an obstacle immediately with the study, which was started in 2015 as part of her master’s thesis, because of the lack of women-led channels.

After getting lists of the 370 most popular YouTube channels in science, technology, engineering and math, she realized only 32 were hosted by women — not enough for a significant sample size. To flesh out the study, she added 21 women-hosted channels from a list compiled by Emily Graslie, host of the popular science YouTube channel The Brain Scoop.

In the study, Ms. Amarasekara cited Ms. Graslie’s 2013 video, “Where My Ladies At?,” which posited that sexist, appearance-obsessed comments might be partly why there were so few female-led STEM channels.

Since then, Ms. Graslie says, her channel’s community has gotten more positive — but she’s frustrated that the conversation about women on YouTube doesn’t seem to have evolved.

“We’re still talking about women struggling to be successful on a platform, and yet I’m still only asked about something I made five years ago,” she said. “I wish I got more recognition for the other 200 videos that I’ve made.”

Recently, Ms. Graslie has posted videos about meteorites, a skunk dissection and a bird specimen that was donated to her employer, The Field Museum in Chicago, by a convicted murderer.

YouTube allows creators to block comments with specific words and phrases. Creators may block their own home address, for example, as well as share lists of words that tend to pop up in hostile comments. But Ms. Graslie also questioned whether YouTube could do more to support women on its platform.

“The comment section on YouTube just isn’t built for constructive conversation,” she said. “The most controversial comments seem to be the ones that rise to the top.”

When asked about the study, YouTube said in a statement, “We don’t tolerate hateful or abusive comments and remove them when flagged. Additionally we provide uploaders with tools to moderate, disable and even hold potentially objectionable comments for review.”

Ms. Amarasekara and Dr. Grant believe more research is needed around broader gender categories as well as factors like ethnicity, sexual orientation and physical ability, which could help improve how scientific information is communicated to the public.

“If you have diverse voices, you’ll reach more diverse audiences,” Ms. Amarasekara said. “If you want to reach more people, you need people who speak to them.”


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« Reply #6 on: Aug 07, 2018, 05:01 AM »


Russia warns of 'horrible' conflict if Georgia joins NATO

New Europe
8/7/2018

MOSCOW (AP) — An attempt by NATO to incorporate the former Soviet republic of Georgia could trigger a new, "horrible" conflict, Russia's prime minister said Tuesday in a stern warning to the West marking 10 years since the Russia-Georgia war.

Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with the Kommersant daily broadcast by Russian state television that NATO's plans to eventually offer membership to Georgia are "absolutely irresponsible" and a "threat to peace."

Medvedev was Russia's president during the August 2008 war, which erupted when Georgian troops tried unsuccessfully to regain control over the Moscow-backed breakaway province of South Ossetia and Russia sent troops that routed the Georgian military in five days of fighting.

The Russian army was poised to advance on the Georgian capital, but Medvedev rolled it back, accepting a truce mediated by the European Union. After the war, Georgia entirely lost control of both South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia. Russia has strengthened its military presence in both regions and recognized them as independent states, but only a few countries have followed suit.

The European Union on Tuesday reiterated its "firm support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders" and lamented the Russian military presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Russian-Georgian relations have improved since the war, but the issue of the breakaway regions remains, preventing the full normalization of ties. Medvedev warned that NATO's attempt to embrace Georgia could have catastrophic consequences.

"There is an unresolved territorial conflict ... and would they bring such a country into the military alliance?" he said. "Do they understand the possible implications? It could provoke a horrible conflict."

Medvedev pointed to Moscow's recognition of independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the Russian military bases there, saying that any attempt to change the status quo could lead to "extremely grave consequences." ''I hope that NATO's leadership will be smart enough not to take any steps in that direction," he said.

The Russian prime minister described NATO's eastward expansion as a major security threat to Russia. "Whatever our colleagues from the alliance may say, NATO countries see Russia as a potential enemy," he said. "We can't help getting worried when the circle around our country keeps narrowing as more and more countries join NATO. NATO's expansion clearly poses a threat to the Russian Federation."


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« Reply #7 on: Aug 07, 2018, 05:05 AM »


Trade with Iran and you won't trade with US, Trump warns

‘Most biting ever’ sanctions imposed overnight as President Rouhani dismisses ‘psychological warfare’

Saeed Kamali Dehghan Iran correspondent and Josie Le Blond in Berlin
Guardian
Tue 7 Aug 2018 11.22 BST

Donald Trump has warned America’s trading partners that anyone who does business with Iran will not be doing business with the US, after his administration reimposed blanket sanctions overnight.
EU acts to protect firms from Donald Trump's sanctions against Iran
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The US president described the new sanctions, which hit Iran’s access to dollars, gold and precious metals, as “the most biting ever imposed”.

“In November they ratchet up to yet another level,” he tweeted. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

The punitive measures came into force in the early hours of Tuesday, and follow Trump’s decision in May to renege on the landmark 2015 deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The sanctions also target a range of industries, including Iran’s car-making sector, and will be followed by a set of additional and even more stringent measures by 4 November, including an embargo on the import of Iranian oil and sanctions on its banking sector.

Trump’s latest comments appear aimed at the European Union, which is attempting to protect European businesses from the sanctions and has vowed to safeguard firms doing “legitimate business”.

“This morning the EU’s updated ‘blocking statute’ entered into force to mitigate the impact of the reimposed US sanctions on the interests of EU companies doing legitimate business in Iran,” a European commission spokesman said.

Companies have been instructed that they should not comply with demands from the White House for them to drop all business with Iran. Those who decide to pull out because of US sanctions will need to be granted authorisation from the European commission, without which they face the risk of being sued by EU member states.

The Trump administration said on Monday it was not particularly concerned by the EU decision and that the US strategy was designed to apply maximum pressure on Tehran. Ultimately, the US administration wants a new deal that it says will address “the totality of the Iranian threat”.

Iranians have been anxiously bracing for a new round of hardship over the return of sanctions, which will compound the country’s economic woes. Its currency has been sent into a tailspin in recent months, fuelling street protests over economic grievances, a lack of social and political freedoms, and growing environmental challenges. Some analysts fear the country is on an economic and political precipice.

“There’s a sense of anguish in Iranian society – everyone is worried and waiting,” said Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of politics at Tehran University.

“There is no hope that the situation will get better. People think that in the best-case scenario, it won’t get worse. Among the youth you see a huge tendency to leave the country,” he said.

On Monday night, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, dismissed the new round of sanctions as “psychological warfare” designed to help Trump’s allies in the upcoming mid-term elections.

He reassured Iranians that his government was able to stave off pressure from the US, but said it was only possible if different factions within the country showed unity. “Our system is stable, we’re all standing together,” he said.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Monday that enemies were pulling out all the stops to target “Iran’s existence”, pledging that his country “will overcome this period of hardship”.

The head of the German Association of Chambers of Commerce said German businesses were already “in retreat” from Iran amid fears that legal banking channels between the countries were crumbling under US pressure.

“It’s important that the EU and the German government work to find funding channels,” said Martin Wansleben, who speaks for more than 3 million German entrepreneurs, in a statement. “As well as the financial damage there is also the threat of losing trust in Iran.”

Last week the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, persuaded the German government to stop a cash transfer of €300m (£268m) from Hamburg to Tehran via the Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank (EIH).

German firms were among the first to take advantage of the opening up of the Iranian market following the Iran deal. Last year German exports to Iran jumped by 16% and were valued at nearly €3bn.

But uncertainty over the future of the deal is reversing that trend, Wansleben said, with German exports to Iran down 4% in the first five months of 2018.

Rouhani’s administration is scrambling to mitigate the impact of sanctions and their effect on the plummeting value of the national currency by easing foreign exchange rules.

Internally, many prominent Iranians believe the pressure from the US is mainly intended to provoke regime change. The reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami, one of the most popular politicians inside Iran but who is currently sidelined, was quoted by local media as saying that efforts to engineer regime change would prove futile so long as people believed in reform.

Khatami has set out 15 suggestions to Iranian leaders to bring the country out of the political deadlock. His suggestions include the release of all political prisoners, and establishment of a free atmosphere for political activities.

Some names have been changed to protect identities


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« Reply #8 on: Aug 07, 2018, 05:06 AM »


EU acts to protect firms from Donald Trump's sanctions against Iran

Companies told to ignore White House demands to drop all business with Iran

Daniel Boffey in Brussels, Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington and Saeed Kamali Dehghan
Guardian
7 Aug 2018 17.39 BST

The EU has launched an attempt to protect European businesses from Donald Trump’s sanctions against Iran as the US administration voiced its intent to apply maximum pressure on Tehran by vigorously applying its punitive measures.

The sanctions came into force at midnight (US east coast time). At the same time, a blocking statute – last used to protect EU firms from US sanctions against Cuba – was brought into force in an attempt to insulate firms and keep alive a deal designed to limit the Iranian government’s nuclear aspirations.

European firms have been instructed that they should not comply with demands from the White House for them to drop all business with Iran. Those who decide to pull out because of US sanctions will need to be granted authorisation from the European commission, without which they face the risk of being sued by EU member states.

A mechanism has also been opened to allow EU businesses affected by the sanctions to sue the US administration in the national courts of member states.

Trump announced his intention to hit firms doing business with Iran when he reneged on a deal struck in 2015 designed to help curtail Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in return for limited sanctions relief.

A joint statement issued on Monday by the foreign ministers of the EU’s 28 member states, including the UK’s Jeremy Hunt, said there was a “determination to protect” the bloc’s economic interests and the nuclear deal, which Brussels, along with China and Russia, continues to support.

The statement said: “The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the deal; it aims at having a positive impact not only on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of the Iranian people.

“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN security council resolution 2231. This is why the European Union’s updated blocking statute enters into force on 7 August to protect EU companies doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of US extra-territorial sanctions.”

Despite the tough public stance, there are concerns about the efficacy of the blocking statute; EU officials admit that companies continuing to invest in Iran are taking a risk.

The Trump administration said on Monday it was not particularly concerned by the EU decision and that the US strategy was designed to apply maximum pressure on Tehran.

“This is completely consistent with what the president has done with other less friendly regimes … to keep the maximum pressure until our goals are achieved,” a senior administration official told reporters.

The Trump administration said it was ultimately seeking a new deal that addressed “the totality of the Iranian threat”, even as Tehran and key US allies have scoffed at the notion of renegotiating the 2015 nuclear accord known as the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA).

The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, praised the EU for its stance and dismissed the sanctions as “psychological warfare” designed to help Trump’s political allies in the US midterm elections in November.

Speaking on state television on Monday, Rouhani also said that Trump’s recent offer to meet him was now meaningless: “The person who has knifed his rival’s arm … now says that he wants talks. They should first take out their knife and put it in their pocket.”

The controversial decision to withdraw the US from the JCPOA paved the way for the reimposition of sanctions in two stages. The first round comes into force on Tuesday, and the second takes effect on 4 November, 180 days after Trump ended US participation. The transition period was intended to provide companies already doing business with Iran time to wind down their activities.

“Our stated policy has not been regime change, it has been to modify the regime’s behavior,” a US official said.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, pledged that his country would “overcome this period of hardship”, dismissing the new round of sanctions as mainly psychological warfare.

Zarif said the fact that sanctions targeted Iran’s ability to purchase passenger planes showed the US contempt for the Iranian population at large. “If you have [good] relations with people of Iran, then the question is why the first round of sanctions you imposed were targeting planes?”

There have been scores of plane crashes in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution, resulting in at least 1,985 deaths. Decades of western sanctions have limited the country’s access to spare parts or new planes.


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« Reply #9 on: Aug 07, 2018, 05:09 AM »


Belarusian media is ‘on the edge of survival’ amid crackdown

New Europe
8/7/2018

MINSK, Belarus — The Belarusian government is cracking down on journalists who report without its permission, issuing the most fines since the country’s independence and adopting a restrictive online media law, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists.

“The media are on the edge of survival and under threat,” said Barys Haretski, the group’s deputy chairman.

The online TV news channel Belsat, which calls itself “the first independent television in Belarus” and is based in Warsaw, has received the brunt of the government’s fines, detentions and arrests, Haretski said.

Belsat TV was launched in 2007 and is largely backed by the Polish Foreign Ministry and several Western governments. Its mission is to provide uncensored information and promote democracy in Belarus. The channel often reports stories critical of the Belarusian government.

“Belsat journalists cover serious problems in Belarus: the economy, society and living conditions,” Haretski said. “The Belarusian authorities can’t stand a channel broadcasting from the territory of a neighboring country that speaks ill of [President Alexander] Lukashenko.”

In July, police raided two Belsat journalists’ apartments and confiscated cameras, phones and computers. Authorities also detained several Belsat journalists and threatened to take away a car belonging to one of them if he and his partner didn’t pay fines of $7,369.

“It is a very tense moment,” said Agnieszka M. Romaszewska-Guzy, director of Belsat TV. “We don’t have any other options but to keep paying the fines and to keep working. It makes the stories much more expensive. The fines are also connected with increased intimidation. Most of our reporters are young people, and the KGB is intimidating their families — their mothers and fathers. We’re trying to cope.”

Most journalists’ detentions and fines involve the live-streaming of protests on social media. Since May, Belsat reporter Larysa Shchyrakova has been repeatedly fined $500 for live-streaming on her Facebook page a hunger strike involving mothers protesting harsh drug laws. During a court appearance, Shchyrakova wore gauze over her lips in protest.

Police regularly detain and fine journalists for live-streaming demonstrations at Kurapaty, a memorial outside Minsk, in a forest where thousands were executed during Stalin’s Great Purge. Since early June, protesters have continuously demonstrated against the opening of a restaurant called “Let’s Go and Eat! on the site.”

“During protest rallies, you are not considered a journalist if you don’t have accreditation, and you get detained easily,” said Ekaterina Andreeva, 24, a Belsat reporter who has twice been taken into police custody this summer at Kurapaty for live-streaming. During her first detention, she was strip-searched after police accused her, falsely, of having a hidden camera on her body.

Andreeva, whose grandfather was a Soviet-era journalist, mostly reports investigative stories with her husband, Ihar Ilyash, 29, another Belsat reporter. “The most dangerous thing you can do in Belarus is investigative reporting,” she said. “My granddad says: Investigative reporting is too risky. You’re better off going to the village and asking people, ‘How are the cows?’ ”

Haretski calls Andreeva “a very brave journalist” and recently featured her on the cover of his association’s magazine holding out a microphone to an intimidating crowd of riot police.

The Belarusian government labels those who work for independent news sites controlled outside the country as “foreign journalists” and requires them to receive accreditation. The catch is that the government rarely grants accreditation, so the journalists’ work is considered illegal, Haretski said. So far this year, police have issued 63 fines to individual reporters — not their media outlets — totaling more than $27,000, which might seem relatively small until you consider that the average Belarusian makes $479 a month.

The increased fines accompany a new media law that further enforces the penalties for working without accreditation, requires online sites to post the names of commenters and sets up more procedures for the government to block sites it doesn’t like — something the government has done for years.

The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which issues journalists’ accreditations, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Independent reporters and editors in Belarus say that among their greatest fears is surveillance by the Belarusian security force known as the KGB.

“Every media in Belarus has a supervisor in the KGB,” said Vital Zybluk, 35, who worked at Euroradio for 12 years and served as editor in chief, then general producer, until he left in June to become a media consultant.

The FM radio station targets young people with programing that is 70 percent rock and alternative music and 30 percent uncensored news — which the station calls “debunking disinformation and fake news.” Situated in Poland, the station broadcasts in Belarus via satellite and Internet and is supported by grants from Western governments, including money from USAID. The station has a small bureau of journalists in Minsk who are officially accredited.

“There is one official interrogation a year and two unofficial ones where the KGB guy says, ‘Let’s go have coffee,’ ” Zybluk said.

Zybluk said the KGB interrogated him for hours after the 2010 elections, demanding to know the source of Euroradio’s funding. He was again pressured by the KGB before the Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk in 2014.

“The KGB guy was like, ‘Well, you know there might be some political protests, so maybe you shouldn’t cover those.’ ” When Zybluk refused to go along, he said he was told, “In case of doubt, just feel free to send your articles for review to us.”

Independent journalists in Belarus assume that their offices are bugged and that co-workers are spying on them. Reporters are trained to watch for signs that they are being followed. Several program their phones to make “SOS calls” to their editors. Reporters recount incidents — often comical — of KGB agents following them, sometimes even running after them.

“In the court cases against journalists, they pull out records of our phone conversations going back years and printouts of our emails,” said Stas Ivashkevich, 34, a Belsat investigative reporter. “We’ve had many cases of us agreeing to meet someone on the phone for a story, and then we get there, and the police are waiting for us.”

Ivashkevich is frequently sued in civil court. His latest case dragged on for four months. On July 25, the judge rejected the plaintiff’s demand for damages to its business reputation but required Ivashkevich to publicly apologize for using the word “corrupt” in his reports.

In late May, the Belarusian Supreme Court found Ukrainian Radio journalist Pavlo Sharoiko guilty of spying and sentenced him to eight years in prison. In June, the KGB announced that other Belarusians, and possibly journalists, were involved in Sharoiko’s alleged espionage network.

“I’m scared,” confided one journalist. “He could name any one of us, any of his friends.” The reporter removed a photo of Sharoiko from Facebook and was advised by a lawyer to leave the country for a few months.

A journalist named Dzmitry Halko, 38, was sentenced in July to four years in a labor camp. He was convicted after getting into a scuffle with a police officer at his son Jan’s 15th birthday party, but he says the punishment was retaliation for his journalism.

“I’ve written dozens of articles, all on very sensitive and hot political topics,” he said.

While his case is under appeal, Halko is out of jail but isn’t allowed to leave the country to visit his partner, Julia Garkusha, a journalist who occasionally works for Belsat, and their ­2-year-old son in Mariupol, Ukraine.

“Our son, Nestor, will have started school already in four years,” Garkusha said of Halko’s prison sentence. “Will we keep our relationship? I doubt it. The search for justice in a dictatorship results only in jail time and irreparably negative consequences for personal, social and professional life.”


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« Reply #10 on: Aug 07, 2018, 05:24 AM »

Donald Trump Jr.’s Potential Legal Troubles, Explained

The cast of characters that helped bring the bombshell email to Donald Trump Jr. includes a pop star, a publicist and a real estate tycoon

By Charlie Savage
NY Times
Aug. 7, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s fresh acknowledgment that his top campaign advisers met at Trump Tower in June 2016 with Kremlin-connected Russians to “get information on an opponent” has renewed questions about whether his son Donald Trump Jr., who arranged the encounter, is facing legal trouble.

The president blasted as “fake news” a Washington Post article that said he was fearful that Donald Trump Jr. “inadvertently may have wandered into legal jeopardy.” He also tweeted on Sunday that seeking opposition research was “totally legal” and “done all the time in politics.”

And Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lawyers, said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” that “the question is what law, statute or rule or regulation’s been violated?”

“Nobody’s pointed to one,” he said.

Here is a look at some ways Donald Trump Jr. may be in legal jeopardy.

Did he engage in ‘collusion’?

“I did not collude with any foreign government and did not know anyone who did,” Donald Trump Jr. told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2017. But his participation in the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, as well as another meeting, has put that claim under scrutiny.

Ahead of the meeting with Russians, an intermediary promised Donald Trump Jr. that a “Russian government attorney” would provide “very high level” dirt on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” He wrote back, “If it’s what you say I love it.”

In a meeting three months before the election, Donald Trump Jr. met with another small group offering to help his father win the election. It included an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes who run Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. The younger Mr. Trump responded approvingly, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The New York Times.

Participants in the meeting with the Russians have testified that nothing came of it, and it is unclear whether any assistance came out of the second gathering, either.

Did he engage in a ‘conspiracy’?

In plain English, “collusion” means working together, usually in secret, to do something illicit. But the word has no defined legal meaning. This is apparently why the president has been declaring that “collusion is not a crime,” as he tweeted last Tuesday.

That is irrelevant, however, because lawyers instead talk about conspiracy: an agreement by two or more people to commit a crime — whether or not they end up doing so. A powerful tool for prosecutors, conspiracy charges allow them to hold each conspirator responsible for illegal acts committed by others in the circle as part of the arrangement. To convict someone of such a conspiracy, prosecutors would need to obtain evidence of an agreement to commit a specific crime.

Was the law broken?

A provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act, Section 30121 of Title 52, broadly outlaws donations or other contributions of a “thing of value” by any foreigner in connection with an American election — or even an express or implied promise to take such action, directly or indirectly.

Depending on how a grand jury interprets the facts the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has gathered about the two Trump Tower meetings, it could find that the foreigners violated that law — and that Donald Trump Jr. conspired in that offense.

Another provision of the same statute makes it illegal for an American to solicit a foreigner for such illicit campaign help — again, even indirectly. If a grand jury were to interpret the evidence about Donald Trump Jr.’s words and actions as a solicitation, he could also be vulnerable to direct charges under that law, experts said.

Notably, the statute can be violated even if the promised or requested help is never provided.
But does opposition research count?

Legal experts have struggled to identify a precedent for criminally charging somebody under this law. As a result, an attempt to prosecute Donald Trump Jr. under that statute would raise novel issues.

Americans may have a First Amendment right to ask foreigners for opposition research information, Eugene Volokh, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has argued. Others disagree.

It is also not clear whether opposition research counts as a “thing of value.” Courts have held, in bribery and threat cases, that a “thing of value” can be something intangible, like information, noted Richard L. Hasen, an election-law professor at the University of California, Irvine.

And Robert Bauer, a New York University election-law professor who served as White House counsel in the Obama administration, argued that the statute against foreign campaign assistance is so broadly worded that its covers Russia paying spies and hackers to collect and disseminate negative information about Mrs. Clinton to help Mr. Trump win the election — even expenses like their travel for the meeting.

But applying that law to negative information about a political candidate is a stretch, said Orin S. Kerr, a University of Southern California professor and former federal prosecutor.

“The phrase ‘contribution or donation’ sounds like a gift to help fund the campaign or give them something they otherwise would buy,” Mr. Kerr said.

What about conspiracy to defraud the United States?

Legal experts analyzing the younger Mr. Trump’s actions have also pointed to another, less discussed part of the federal conspiracy statute. It prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States by impeding the federal government’s lawful functions.

Notably, Mr. Mueller has already relied on that statute in a similar context. In February, when a grand jury indicted 13 Russians and three Russian organizations accused of undertaking a covert operation to manipulate American social media and help the Trump campaign, the charges included conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Specifically, they were accused of preventing the Federal Election Commission from fulfilling “its statutory duties of providing the American public with accurate data about the financial activities of individuals and entities supporting federal candidates, and enforcing limits and prohibitions, including the ban on foreign expenditures.”

What about making a false statement?

It is a felony to lie to Congress. In his September 2017 interview before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Donald Trump Jr. was asked whether any other foreign governments or nationals offered assistance to the Trump campaign, or whether he had directly or indirectly sought such foreign assistance for the campaign. He said he had not.

In May, after The Times reported about the meeting with the emissary for the Arab princes and the Israeli social media manipulation specialist, Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, raised concerns that Mr. Trump may have lied to the committee.

The Judiciary Committee chairman, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, pushed back, suggesting that “there are potentially innocuous explanations.”

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Andrew Napolitano explains why Trump Jr. could go to jail for meeting with Russians: ‘The crime is the agreement’

David Edwards
Raw Story
07 Aug 2018 at 12:58 ET                   

Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano on Monday asserted that Donald Trump Jr. could be charged for conspiracy even if Russians did not give him damaging information about then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

During an appearance on Fox News’ Outnumbered program, Napolitano reacted to President Donald Trump’s admission over the weekend that his son had met with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower to get dirt on Clinton.

“There is no such law and there is no such word in the law as collusion, that’s a Hollywood and media term,” Napolitano explained to co-hosts of the show. “The legal term is conspiracy. If the Trump campaign and the Russians work together, but was there an agreement to work together?

“The crime is the agreement,” he added. “Whether the agreement was put into place or not. That’s what Bob Mueller is looking for.”

Co-host Melissa Francis wondered why Clinton had not been charged for funding the research for a dossier, which detailed alleged connections between Trump and the Russian government.

“Except that [special counsel Robert Mueller is] not investigating that,” Napolitano replied.

“Oh,” Francis sighed.

Napolitano continued: “He’s investigating whether or not the people from the Trump campaign entered into an agreement to receive dirt [on] Hillary, whether the dirt was received or not. The crime — if there were a crime — is receiving anything of value from a foreign person entity or government, if there is an agreement to do that.”

“You may argue and I’ve argued this unsuccessfully that an agreement that ends up not being carried out shouldn’t be a crime but it is,” he added. “It’s the prosecutor’s favorite crime, it’s called conspiracy. It’s the easiest to prove, all you need to know is who agreed and that one of them took a step in furtherance of the agreement.”

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

‘It’s what they use on the mob’: Former federal prosecutor explains potential RICO charges against Trump Jr.

Bob Brigham
Raw Story
7 Aug 2018 at 16:01 ET       

A former federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia listed all of the crimes Donald Trump, Jr. may be facing for the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russian operatives.

Attorney Seth B. Waxman joined MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt on Monday to analyze the changing legal liability facing the president’s namesake son.

“What are the laws around this?” Hunt asked the partner at Dickinson Wright.

“There are several,” Waxman noted. “We’ve talked about a little bit this idea of foreign campaign contributions, where if a foreign national gives anything of value to someone, a campaign, that can be a crime. On the other side if the person accepts or even solicits that kind of contribution, that can be a crime.”

“So Don, Jr, when he says he ‘loves it’ with regards to the dirt on Hillary, that alone can be a crime, full stop,” he explained.

“There are other crimes, bribery, which is a quid pro quo quo,” he said. “If anything of value was given in exchange for the promise of future government action like reducing sanctions, that can be bribery.”

“And bribery can be the basis for several other charges, such as Honest Services Fraud,” he said.

“Or the most powerful weapon federal prosecutors have, RICO,” he added. “So there’s a whole series of charges out there.”

“Translate RICO for our viewers,” Hunt requested.

“Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations,” he replied. “So that’s what’s used to go after the mob.”

“I’m speculating a bit, but bribery is a predicate offense to RICO,” he noted.

“If you get into that framework, you’re looking at 15, 20 and 30 years offenses — as opposed to campaign finance law which is 1 or 2 or 5-year offenses and those aren’t the offenses to flip senior members of a conspiracy, especially if it’s the son or son-in-law,” he concluded.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAy0mLJbI1g

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

Republicans turn to the most desperate argument possible: Trump’s collusion with Russia is no big deal

Matthew Rozsa, Salon - COMMENTARY
8/7/2018

It shouldn’t be necessary to explain why it’s wrong, not to say potentially criminal, for a presidential candidate to work with a foreign power to undermine his opponent’s campaign. Unfortunately, we live in the era of hyper-partisanship, and as a result many Republicans and their media supporters — the same people who have insisted for months that there was “no collusion” between Trump and Russia — are now presenting a different spin: If there was collusion, it would be no big deal.

We can start with a Tuesday morning tweet by President Trump himself.

Then there was this bizarre statement by Rudy Giuliani, New York’s former “hero mayor” who has taken Michael Cohen’ former job as a lawyer and shill for Trump.

“I don’t even know if that’s a crime — colluding with Russians. Hacking is the crime. The president didn’t hack. He didn’t pay for the hacking,” Giuliani proclaimed to CNN on Monday.

Even before Giuliani was carrying Trump’s water, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was on ABC News on Sunday, claiming that even if everything Cohen has said or hinted about Trump is proved to be true, there’s simply nothing to get all upset about.

“We don’t even know if the information that we’re being given by that other outlet is even accurate,” Christie told ABC, apparently referring to Cohen. “Now, if it is, and we’ve discussed this before, collusion is not a crime. And so the fact of the matter is that we’re a long way away yet from having anything to talk about here.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson is aboard the same train. He told his viewers on Friday night that even if  Trump actually colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, well, so what?

“What exactly would the crime here be? It’s not illegal to talk to foreigners. Nobody is claiming that any information changed hands, though even if it did, so what?” Carlson said, according to a transcript from Media Matters for America.

A day before that, National Review contributing editor Andrew McCarthy tried to characterize working with a hostile foreign power to win an election as merely “icky” rather than sinister.

“Look, I don’t think that it’s bad if campaigns are turning to foreign governments for dirt. It’s not collusion, it’s not something that’s impeachable, it’s icky. But that’s what this is.” McCarthy said, according to a transcript from Media Matters for America.

Allow me to demonstrate the fallacy in this reasoning with a Watergate comparison.

In many ways, the parallels between the Trump-Russia scandal and Watergate are quite striking. Both involved efforts by Republican candidates to dig up dirt on their Democratic opponents Both memorably involved famous pieces of real estate: the Watergate complex in Washington; Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. Both dealt critical damage to the presidencies of the men implicated in these messes, even if it remains unclear whether Trump will ever be forced into the resignation that, regardless of what happens, future historians will agree that he richly deserves.

But practically speaking, there is one key difference between the Nixon-McGovern election of 1972 and the Trump-Clinton election of 2016. To illustrate this point, I turn to this passage from “The Making of the President — 1972” by Theodore H. White.

    In this writer’s opinion, it is possible that at least three or four million Americans were so disillusioned by both candidate that they chose not to vote at all. Had it not been for Watergate, it is quite possible that Richard Nixon’s margin would have been increased by another three or four million votes — that, indeed, his stunning 61-38 victory might have gone as high as 65-35, for a record that might never again be approached in American two-party history. The Watergate affair blew that opportunity.

For the record, no candidate has ever attained 65 percent of the popular vote, either before 1972 or since then. (Indeed, no candidate has broken 60 percent since Nixon, although Ronald Reagan came close in 1984.)

This is where the contrast with 2016 becomes crucially important. As statistician Nate Silver has pointed out, we will never know for sure how much Russian disinformation campaigns and the hacking of Democratic Party email accounts hurt Hillary Clinton among voters. Silver observed that polls can demonstrate that former FBI Director James Comey’s letter to Congress in late October “probably did cost Clinton the election,” but the Russian campaign against Clinton is not measurable.

As Silver put it, that campaign may have had no impact whatsoever, or may have caused “chronic, insidious effects that could be mistaken for background noise but which in the aggregate were enough to swing the election by 0.8 percentage points toward Trump — not a high hurdle to clear because 0.8 points isn’t much at all.” Because the campaign of Russian interference was spread out over an extended period of time, however, its effects cannot be determined with certainty.

Just because hard data is wanting here doesn’t mean common sense can’t fill in at least some of the gaps. Anyone who paid attention during the 2016 election was aware, at least vaguely, that “Clinton’s emails” were a bad thing. Similarly, they developed the general impression that the emails published by WikiLeaks in the summer of 2016 were damaging, and proved or suggested that Clinton and those around her were corrupt and dishonest.

To be fair, a large proportion of voters had the same general impression about Trump (and with far more reason, although right now that’s not the point). So it’s fair to assume that many of them simply sat out of the election — more than would have been the case had Clinton’s image of “corruption” been limited to overtly partisan attacks coming from Republicans rather than being an all-sides barrage orchestrated by Russian government and embraced, to a disgraceful degree, by the New York Times and other mainstream publications.

Lest we forget, Clinton won the national popular vote by two percentage points and nearly 2.9 million votes in spite of these challenges — a much greater margin than Jimmy Carter’s over Gerald Ford in 1976, or Nixon’s over Hubert Humphrey in 1968. It is reasonable to speculate that Clinton’s popular-vote lead would have been significantly larger without the Russian hacking and disinformation, and that she almost certainly would have won the Electoral College as well. So while the Watergate scandal had no meaningful effect on the 1972 election, there is a strong chance that collusion — or, to use a more accurate term, criminal conspiracy — between the Trump campaign and the Russian government actually put Trump in the White House.

Of course, there is also the almost unmentionable possibility that the Russians did something which Nixon and his cronies never pulled off — actually tampering with the election results themselves.

Salon reached out to Kyle Kondik of Sabato’s Crystal Ball and the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics to ask whether the disparity between poll numbers and election results in 2016 could indicate tampering — and whether Americans should be concerned that the 2018 midterms could be compromised. Kondik says he thinks the 2016 result was on the level, statistically speaking.

    We shouldn’t take polling as a perfect prediction of the truth, particularly if there are reasons why the polling may be off in a systematic way (in this case, it seemed like some of the swing-state polls overstated the education level of the electorate, something that is common in polling).

    I get a lot of questions from people wondering if the [2016] results seemed tainted. My reply is typically to say that if the results were rigged, they were rigged in a very sophisticated way, because to me the results make sense based on the educational split (and other factors) across both competitive and noncompetitive states.

What would a hypothetical scenario would look like in which America’s election results had actually been rigged by hackers? Kondik thinks certain patterns would give it away: “If similar types of counties demographically were voting in really different ways, or if there were drastically different patterns in competitive vs. noncompetitive states.”

Kondik agreed that a sophisticated hacker could take such factors into account and try to cover their tracks, but said, “I think it would be hard with our decentralized voting system.”

Christy Setzer, president of the Washington public relations firm New Heights Communications in Washington, told Salon by email that Democrats’ best strategy to counteract possible Russian interference is simply to “cede no ground.” Conventional wisdom holds, she said, that Republicans “can prevail if attention stays on a growing economy — but that should be easy territory for Democrats to compete on as well.” Don’t try to come off like “GOP-lite,” she urged, and don’t forget about the Supreme Court: “Americans don’t want to overturn Roe or the Affordable Care Act, nor do they want a Court that will. Use it.”

When asked what advice she had for Republicans, Setzer said, “Ask for help from the Russians?”


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« Reply #11 on: Aug 07, 2018, 05:30 AM »

Morning Joe panel blisters ‘living symbol of hypocrisy” Mike Pence for standing by and ignoring Trump’s depravities

Tom Boggioni
Raw Story
07 Aug 2018 at 07:11 ET                   

Picking up on a CNN report on the early writings of Vice President Mike Pence, who wrote two op-eds back in the 1990s arguing in favor of removing President Bill Clinton from office because of his affair with Monica Lewinsky, the hosts of Morning Joe called the veep out.

According to the report, Pence maintained Clinton’s lying, and subsequent lying was troubling and showed a lack of morality, making Clinton unfit for office.

Joe Scarborough cut right to the heart of the matter, noting that Pence has remained silent about President Donald Trump’s scandals that include multiple affairs with adult film stars and Playboy Playmates.

Contributor Willie Geist read from Pence’s op-ed, quoting the then-radio host saying, “The president’s repeated lies to the American people in this matter compound the case against him as they demonstrate his failure to the institution of the presidency as the inspiring supreme symbol of all that is highest in our American ideals. Leaders affect the lives of families far beyond their own private life.”

Mike Barnicle was asked to comment and immediately took Pence to task.

“He was a radio host then and now has fallen down to vice president of the United States?” Barnicle smirked.” Those are words to live by and restores your faith in the one enduring aspect of American politics: hypocrisy. Because he Pence is the living symbol of hypocrisy.”

Host Scarborough then piled on, saying, “This is just self-righteous and sickening given the current stand that he’s in right now, but for Mike Pence, again, I keep wondering; when is Mike Pence going to speak out?”

For good measure, Scarborough added, “You know, Donald Trump and Mike Pence and the Republican Party supported accused child molester Roy Moore.”

You can watch the video  via MSNBC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APVH80OoT-E


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« Reply #12 on: Aug 08, 2018, 04:05 AM »


Giant ‘Plant from Hell’ sends 17-year-old to the hospital with third-degree burns

Mike Wehner
BGR
8/8/2018

The Giant Hogweed is a terrible, no-good, dangerous plant. It also happens to be spreading across the United States with shocking speed, and just touching can totally mess you up. A 17-year-old boy from Virginia named Alex Childress learned that in the absolute worst way possible, and now he’s dealing with severe burns and likely a lifetime of significant scarring.

Childress was reportedly doing a bit of summer gardening when he came across one of the large plants and promptly chopped it down, unknowingly getting some of the plant’s dangerous sap on one side of his face as well as his arm. Nothing happened at first — that’s what makes the plant so incredibly brutal — but that would change.

The sap of the Giant Hogweed doesn’t cause any direct damage to the skin. Instead, it causes what is called phototoxicity, making the skin much more sensitive to damage from UV light. The Sun puts out a whole lot of that, and if you allow sunlight to strike sap-soaked skin it can cause incredibly painful burns. You can mitigate the effects of the sap by thoroughly cleaning your skin immediately after coming into contact with the plant, but Childress had no reason to suspect that he was in any danger and just kept on working.

The effects came on a short while later, landing Childress in the hospital with excruciating burns on his face and arm. The plant’s effects don’t wear off quickly, and affected skin can remain sensitive for weeks, months, or even years after the fact.

“I was working at my summer landscaping job trying to make a little extra spending money before leaving for college at Virginia Tech, when I unknowingly cut down and carried a ‘giant hogweed’ plant,” Childress writes on a GoFundMe page that has been set up to help him cover some of his medical expenses. “I was transferred to the Burn ICU at VCU and treated for 3 days but still have daily wound care which requires debriding the burns to remove dead skin.”


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« Reply #13 on: Aug 08, 2018, 04:10 AM »


The era of megafires: the crisis facing California and what will happen next

Three scientists explain the unprecedented danger facing the western US and call for new solutions to a growing threat

Daniel Swain, Crystal Kolden and John Abatzoglou
Guardian
Wed 8 Aug 2018 06.00 BST

California is no stranger to fire. The temperate winters and reliably dry summers that make the Golden state such an attractive place to live are the same conditions that make this region among the most flammable places on Earth.

But even for a region accustomed to fire, the continuing wildfire siege has proven unprecedented. Although it is only early August, numerous very large, fast-moving, and exceptionally intense fires have already burned vast swaths of land throughout the state – consuming hundreds of thousands of acres and thousands of homes and claiming at least nine lives, including four firefighters. State and national firefighting resources are stretched to their limits; choking smoke inundated the state capital of Sacramento; and much of Yosemite national park is closed indefinitely.

California’s governor, Jerry Brown, has characterized these devastating wildfires as California’s “new normal”. But it would be a mistake to assume that the region has reached any semblance of a stable plateau. Instead, the likelihood of large, fast-moving, and dangerous wildfires will continue to increase in the coming decades – and it will combine with other demographic and ecological shifts to produce a large increase in the risk of megafires that threaten both human lives and the ecosystems we depend upon.
Fueling the fires

Immediately on the heels of California’s deadliest and most destructive fire season, just a year ago, the early ferocity of 2018 has unnerved even veteran firefighters. While the number of fires in California to date is unremarkable, the total area burned is extraordinary: five times the five-year average, in a decade that has already been characterized by fire activity well above historical levels.

The causes are complex, and people are part of the problem. In 1980, 24 million people lived in California; today there are nearly 40 million. Much of this population growth has occurred outside of the dense urban core of cities, resulting in rapid expansion of housing in suburban and semi-rural areas adjacent to wildlands.

Of the tens of thousands of homes burned by wildfires in California in recent decades, nearly all were located in this suburban-rural borderland. With housing shortages and high prices plaguing cities throughout the state, it is unsurprising that residents build on the fringes, places often replete with natural beauty. Yet residents are often unaware of the risks inherent in living there, and the need to mitigate those risks accordingly – their lives may depend upon it.

Another exacerbating problem: the way we historically managed our forests. Demand for timber in the early 20th century ushered in a new era of federally mandated fire suppression. This national policy has been highly successful at achieving its intended goal: historically, 98% of new fires are extinguished before reaching the relatively modest size of 300 acres.

But while this well-intentioned policy of “total suppression” certainly reduced the amount of land burned in wildfires, it also had an unintended side effect: a deficit of low-intensity and forest-regenerating natural fires. This deficit has allowed for an accumulation of wildfire “fuel” in the form of more densely spaced trees and thicker undergrowth in areas that had previously experienced frequent fire. Forests and wildlands are increasingly “primed to burn” under hot and dry conditions.

Enter climate change, wildfire “threat multiplier”. While record-breaking heatwaves grab headlines, some of the most consequential warming in California (from a wildfire perspective) is more subtle. Nights have warmed nearly three times as fast as days during fire season – lowering night-time humidity and supporting unprecedented nocturnal fire behavior.

Declining spring snowpack and increased evaporation have reduced the moisture available to plants later in summer and autumn. The fire season itself is lengthening: not only have autumn and spring temperatures risen, but there are signs that California’s already short rainy season is becoming further compressed into the winter months. We are truly burning the candle at both ends.

Despite this confluence of factors, the total number of fires in California has not increased in recent decades. Instead, climate change appears to be manifesting itself primarily through changes in the character (rather than frequency) of wildfire. Flames are spreading more rapidly and with greater intensity. Around half of the increase in area burned during western forest fires in recent decades can be attributed to the long-term warming trend.

In California, not all wildfires are forest fires – some of the state’s deadliest and fastest-moving fires have burned primarily in shrubs and oak woodlands. With climate change tipping the scales in favor of hotter temperatures and drier conditions across the entire landscape, vegetation of all types is becoming more flammable.

Facing the megafires to come

Just as Californians have found strategies to cope with the ever-present risk of earthquakes and other natural hazards, resilience in a dawning “era of megafires” will require Californians to proactively adapt to the wildfires of the future.

California already has the largest dedicated wildland firefighting agency in the country by far – a veritable army comprised of thousands of firefighters and an enviable fleet of vehicles, aircraft, and helicopters.

And some California communities have already made considerable progress in enacting building and landscaping codes to reduce fire ignition potential in urban areas, encouraging and facilitating “defensible space”, and developing emergency evacuation plans to limit risks to citizens and firefighters alike.

But given the inevitability of wildfire, thousands of other vulnerable communities will need to follow this lead or face a repeat of tragedies on the scale experienced in Santa Rosa, Ventura, and Redding over the past year. In the era of megafires, our choice is clear: find new solutions or face even greater disasters.

Dr Daniel Swain is a climate scientist in the Institute of the Environment & Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr Crystal Kolden is an associate professor of fire science at the University of Idaho. Dr John Abatzoglou is an associate professor of climatology at the University of Idaho


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« Reply #14 on: Aug 08, 2018, 04:13 AM »


Caribbean states beg Trump to grasp climate change threat: 'War has come to us'

As warming temperatures caused by climate change is strengthening hurricanes, leaders in the region plead with Trump to rejoin the Paris climate deal

Oliver Milman
Guardian
8 Aug 2018 11.00 BST

Caribbean states and territories have rounded on the Trump administration for dismantling the US’s response to climate change, warning that greenhouse gas emissions must be sharply cut to avoid hurricanes and sea level rise threatening the future of their island idylls.

The onset of this year’s hurricane season has seen leaders in the region tell the Guardian that Donald Trump needs to grasp the existential threat they face. Rising temperatures and increased precipitation caused by climate change is strengthening hurricanes, researchers have found, even as the overall number of storms remains steady.

“In 2017 we saw some of the most devastating and destructive hurricanes we’ve seen in our history,” said Selwin Hart, Barbados’ ambassador to the US. “This needs to be recognized.

“This isn’t some scientific debate, it’s a reality with loss of life implications. We need the US to be back at the table and engage. It’s imperative. We wouldn’t have a Paris climate agreement without the US and we need them back now.”

Hurricane Irma strengthened to a category five hurricane before slamming into the Caribbean and US in September, causing more than 130 deaths in places such as Barbuda, Saint Martin, Barbados and the US. This storm was swiftly followed by Hurricane Maria, which obliterated much of Dominica and caused a widespread, ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico, leaving thousands dead.

Saint Martin after Hurricane Irma. The storm strengthened to a category five and slammed into the Caribbean and US, causing more than 130 deaths in places such as Barbuda, Saint Martin, Barbados and the US.

“Even before the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria, we could already see the effects of coastal erosion, and even the loss of some islands,” said Ricardo Rosselló, governor of Puerto Rico. The US territory is part of an alliance with several states, including New York and California, that have committed to addressing climate change absent the federal government.

“Puerto Rico remains in a more vulnerable situation than other states. It is expected that some of the initial effects of climate change will be seen in Puerto Rico,” said Rosselló, who called Trump’s climate policies “a mistake”.

During the 2015 Paris climate talks, Caribbean nations were among the loose coalition of low-lying countries that successfully pushed the international community to aim to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5C (2.7F) beyond pre-industrial levels.

This aspiration, which would provide many island states the hope of remaining viable in the face of sea level rise, drought and powerful storms, is currently far from likely, with a recent UN report warning the picture would be “even bleaker” if the Trump administration follows through with its vow to remove the US from the Paris deal.

The withdrawal from Paris would take three years, but in the meantime the Trump administration is working to dismantle the clean power plan, an Obama-era strategy to cut carbon dioxide, delay new vehicle emissions standards, open up new land and ocean to oil and gas drilling and even put in place a set of subsidies that would prop up the ailing coal industry.

“The US is a major player in the world and it needs to lead, we depend on it to be a moral voice on issues where people are vulnerable,” said Darren Henfield, foreign minister of the Bahamas. “We really hope the US readjusts its position. It seems there will be doubters until we start completely losing islands.”

Henfield said Bahamians have become “dramatically aware” of climate change following a series of hurricanes that have hit or brushed the archipelago in recent years. The country has attempted to accelerate its transition to renewable energy although it faces the conundrum of relying economically upon tourists, borne on huge cruise ships that emit large amounts of carbon dioxide.

“We are being forced to put up sea walls to push back the rising tides,” Henfield said. “We are very exposed and we could see the swallowing of the Bahamas by sea level rise. We don’t have much room for people, there’s nowhere for people to move. Climate change will exacerbate the issue of refugees.

“I don’t know what influences the mind of president Trump but the world will be negatively impacted by not dealing with climate change. We always talk to our neighbors in the north and part of our foreign policy is to sensitize them and the international community to the threat we face.”

But while Caribbean states plead for climate assistance, particularly from the US, they are also looking at how to adapt to a new environment. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, a coalition of island countries that spread in an arc south of the British Virgin Islands, has turned its attention to looming challenges such as food security, coastal village relocation and new building designs in order to deal with rising temperatures and seas.

“Dominica was a real wake up call for us, it virtually got washed away” said Didacus Jules, director general of the OECS. “We know the impacts are going to be increasingly catastrophic and we need to plan for that. We need to do things completely differently in order to protect life and limb.”

Didacus said he was alarmed by the US reversal on climate change. “We are very disturbed by what is going on, it’s a matter we’ll deal with aggressively in terms of diplomacy,” he said. “We will work with other island nations to make ourselves heard.”

However, many in the Caribbean fear the window of time to avert the worst is rapidly closing. Roosevelt Skerrit, prime minister of Dominica, addressed the UN last September in strikingly bleak terms, describing himself as coming “straight from the front line of the war on climate change”.

“Heat is the fuel that takes ordinary storms – storms we could normally master in our sleep – and supercharges them into a devastating force,” Skerrit said. “Now, thousands of storms form on a breeze in the mid-Atlantic and line up to pound us with maximum force and fury. We as a country and as a region did not start this war against nature. We did not provoke it. The war has come to us.”

Skerrit said the hurricane left Dominica with flattened homes, smashed water pipes, hospitals without power, wrecked schools and ruined crops. “The desolation is beyond imagination,” he said. “The stars have fallen. Eden is broken. We are shouldering the consequences of the actions of others.

“There is little time left for action. While the big countries talk, the small island nations suffer. We need action and we need it now.”


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