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« Reply #3330 on: Aug 21, 2019, 04:08 AM »

Italian premier's resignation could bring elections in fall

New Europe

ROME  — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday amid the collapse of the 14-month-old populist government, raising the possibility of new elections in the fall that could bring to power the anti-migrant interior minister who engineered Conte's downfall.

Addressing the Senate, Conte blasted Matteo Salvini for setting in motion a "dizzying spiral of political and financial instability" by essentially pulling the plug on the government. Salvini's right-wing League party sought a no-confidence vote against Conte earlier this month, a stunningly bold move for the government's junior coalition partner.

Conte blamed Salvini for sacrificing the government's survival in favor of his eagerness to become premier himself. A lawyer with no political experience who was tapped to break a postelection stalemate last year, Conte struggled to hold together his often ideologically opposed coalition's forces — Salvini's right-wing League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement. He handed his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella at the presidential palace Tuesday night.

Mattarella, who is head of state, asked Conte and the rest of the government to stay on in a caretaker role. The president could test if there's enough support for a new government. Failing that, he might try to build a consensus to back a "neutral" figure to head a government whose main goal would be to lead the country through year's end, enough time to make painful budget cuts to meet European Union parameters.

If no other path is feasible, Mattarella would have to dissolve Parliament. Elections could then be held as soon as late October — 3 ½ years ahead of schedule. Salvini, who sat next to Conte during his speech, smirking at times, declared, "I'd do it all again." He repeatedly kissed a rosary he slipped out of his pocket right after Conte rebuked him for associating "political slogans with religious symbols."

Pressing for elections as soon as possible, Salvini said: "I don't fear Italians' judgment." Salvini's party is soaring in opinion polls and triumphed in European Parliament elections in May. He's intent on capitalizing on this popularity with national elections.

His crackdown on migrants, whom the party's voter base largely blames for crime, appears to be a huge factor in Salvini's climbing popularity. The interior minister has adopted especially harsh measures against private rescue boats, which he contends essentially facilitate human trafficking of migrants across the Mediterranean from smugglers' bases in Libya to European shores.

Salvini insists that citizens are also behind his call for less influence by the European Union on everyday Italian life. Supporters at his rallies cheer his "Italians first" policies. Should any early elections sweep Salvini into power, financial markets could be rattled by his Euro-skepticism.

Depicting himself in counterpoint to Salvini's often-derogatory depiction of European Union rules, Conte said he had "tried in these 14 months to guide Italy's policy along the path of a critical pro-Europe line, but always oriented constructively."

Analysts will be focused on prospects that any Salvini-led government could further fray Italy's relation with Brussels. A League-led government would have a "stronger Euro-skeptic stand — fighting with Brussels on everything that is politically salient in Italy," Wolfango Piccoli, co-president of London-based Teneo analyst firm, told The Associated Press.

The outgoing government enacted some populist measures, including the 5-Star Movement's guaranteed minimum income to the jobless. Whoever holds the helm of government this fall, will have to slash spending, likely displeasing constituencies. Failure to do so would trigger another highly unpopular measure — an automatic increase of the sales tax.

Salvini is already campaigning for a slashed income tax, raising concerns about where a League-led government would find the money to deliver on that promise. While lawmakers argued, hundreds of kilometers (miles) to the south, the latest migrant standoff played out near a tiny Italian island. For weeks, more than 100 migrants had been stuck aboard a Spanish rescue ship and not allowed by Salvini to disembark at Lampedusa as part of his crusade against humanitarian rescue groups.

But hours after Conte resigned, the migrants finally set foot on Lampedusa. The Italian news agency ANSA said a Sicilian prosecutor ordered the seizure of the Open Arms rescue vessel and the migrants' evacuation. Prosecutors are investigating the humanitarian group's complaint against Salvini for alleged kidnapping for refusing to open the ports.

Former Premier Matteo Renzi, a leader of the Democrats, Parliament's largest opposition party, seized on Salvini's rosary display to blast the migrant crackdown. "Minister Salvini, I respect your religious faith," Renzi said, launching into a barb that played off their common first name, Matteo. "But if you believe in Chapter 25 of the Gospel, naturally by Matthew, 'I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you dressed me,'" if you have these values, unblock those persons held hostage by your policies."

Salvini has taken to dangling a rosary and invoking the protection of the Virgin Mary in political rallies around the country.

Associated Press Writer Giada Zampano contributed to this report.


Italy’s political crisis marks a populist failure

By Ishaan Tharoor
August 21 2019
WA Post

Want smart analysis of the most important news in your inbox every weekday, along with other global reads, interesting ideas and opinions? Sign up for the Today’s WorldView newsletter.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte opted to resign Tuesday rather than face a no-confidence vote he was likely to lose. In doing so, Conte confirmed the collapse of one of the more intriguing recent political experiments in Europe: a populist ruling alliance that came to power just 14 months ago amid a surge of anti-establishment frustration in Italy.

But the divisions within the coalition bedeviled its prospects from the outset. On Tuesday, Conte delivered a fiery speech in the Italian senate, directing much of his ire at Matteo Salvini, the influential far-right deputy prime minister whose decision to withdraw his party’s support from the government triggered the current crisis.

Salvini, who is also the country’s interior minister, is the most popular politician in Italy. His anti-immigrant, hard-line League, a once-marginal regional party, has soared in popularity and is polling at about 38 percent — a significant figure in the country’s multiparty democracy. At the same time, the fortunes of the Five Star Movement — the somewhat ideologically inchoate, anti-establishment party that is the single biggest faction in Italy’s Parliament — have dimmed. Conte, a legal scholar with no political experience, was plucked from relative obscurity to lead the government as a neutral figurehead, but is closer to the Five Star Movement.

“The interior minister has shown that he is following his own interests and those of his party,” Conte said in his Tuesday address to a packed Senate, where lawmakers had returned from holiday for an emergency session. The speech carried a degree of political theater: Salvini, still technically Conte’s deputy, sat right next to an outgoing prime minister lashing into him for endangering the country and tipping it down a “a spiral of political uncertainty and financial instability.”

At one moment when Conte attacked Salvini for endangering Italy’s secular political culture, the latter pulled out his rosary and kissed it.

    Italian PM Giuseppe Conte, in his resignation address to the upper house of the parliament, said that using religious symbols in politics "risks to cast a shadow upon the principle of secularism".

    Matteo Salvini, sitting next to him, kisses a rosary. pic.twitter.com/MPi59tgrGC
    — euronews (@euronews) August 20, 2019

The havoc in Rome adds uncertainty to critical upcoming negotiations over debt-ridden Italy’s budget and spells trouble for the rest of Europe. “The timing of this crisis is worrisome,” noted Andrea Montanino, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. “It arrives at a critical juncture for Europe amid the risk of recession in Germany and the formation of the new European Commission, and could contribute to the deterioration of confidence in the Eurozone."

What happens next is a bit complicated. Italian President Sergio Mattarella will meet Wednesday with the country’s various party leaders to see if a new government coalition can be formed. He may choose to retain Conte or pick a technocrat to lead a short-lived caretaker government that can pass a budget. Alternatively, the Five Star Movement may try to build a new coalition with the center-left Democratic Party, or PD, an alliance that was once unthinkable but now may suit both parties. Failing that, a snap election would be called to be held probably by the end of October.

In the present environment, Salvini and the League could win decisively and probably build a ruling coalition with an ultranationalist party even further to the right than them. In the past couple of years, Salvini has channeled nationalist anger both over immigration and the diktats of Brussels; he has siphoned support from the waning Italian center right and become arguably the most important far-right politician in Western Europe. Even an ongoing scandal over allegations that Salvini’s party sought illegal Russian financing has failed to curb his popularity.

Under Salvini’s watch, Italy adopted a tough new approach to migrant arrivals. He used his political platform to grandstand over Italy’s Catholic identity and repeatedly found ways to poke European Union officials in the eye. “An election could lead to Italy getting its most uncompromisingly right-wing government since Mussolini,” observed the Economist.

    Here's a brief list of Conte's complaints:
    -he's worried #Salvini asked for full powers
    -Salvini needs to clarify over Russian funds
    -he overlapped with competences of other ministers
    -misuse of religious symbols
    -Salvini undermined Conte's work during #EUCO with his narrative pic.twitter.com/AcCbshNPFI
    — Gerardo Fortuna (@gerardofortuna) August 20, 2019

But Salvini may have miscalculated. Two weeks ago, when he announced his decision to pull out of the populist coalition, “Salvini was confident of precipitating early elections and winning them,” noted the Financial Times. “It has proved to be more complicated. The timetable was not his to control. The idea of a coalition between Five Star and the center-left Democrats, two parties which hate each other, has gained more traction than expected, raising the possibility that the League could be locked out of power for years.”

In an interview with my colleague Chico Harlan, Nathalie Tocci, director of the Italian International Affairs Institute, chalked off Salvini’s decision-making to “hubris.”

“He thinks he can get 50 percent of the vote,” Tocci said. “What he has done can only be explained in this way. He was already in charge. He was in charge without having to always take responsibility.”

Now, there’s the distinct prospect of Salvini getting relegated to the opposition. “Staying ‘on the outside’ and playing the part [that Salvini himself] called ‘Mr. No’ can be dangerous for him,” Ilvo Diamanti, a pollster and professor of political science, told my colleagues. “Yes, he would find new targets while being in the opposition, but … I don’t know about the long-run.”

But Italy’s other political actors are no more secure. In 2017, Luigi di Maio, Five Star’s youthful leader, told Today’s WorldView that his anti-establishment party had no “intention of exalting nationalistic sentiments” if it ended up in power. But the movement’s brand has been badly tarnished in part by its alliance with the hyper-nationalist Salvini, who has a far simpler, angrier message for disaffected Italian voters.

In European elections this year, the Five Star Movement hemorrhaged support both to the League and the PD. Now, an alliance with the PD may be its best bet to stave off further political calamity.

“Today the Italian populist dream fails,” tweeted Matteo Renzi, a former Italian prime minister and PD senator. “Populists only succeed during election campaigns, they fail in government. In 14 months they have cancelled growth, isolated Italy, created a climate of hatred. They have lost.”

That may be so, but, as of yet, no one else seems to be winning.

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« Last Edit: Aug 21, 2019, 05:48 AM by Darja » Logged
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« Reply #3331 on: Aug 21, 2019, 04:09 AM »

North Korea now able to miniaturise nuclear warheads – Japan defence report

Upcoming review out of Tokyo will reportedly say missile programme poses ‘serious and imminent threat’

Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Wed 21 Aug 2019 04.23 BST

Japan’s government will reportedly state that North Korea is capable of miniaturising nuclear warheads in a forthcoming defence report, it has emerged.

Tokyo will upgrade its estimate of the regime’s nuclear capability, having said last year only that the technical feat was a possibility, the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said on Wednesday, without citing sources.

The defence report will maintain Japan’s contention that North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes pose a “serious and imminent threat” to its security after recent meetings between Donald Trump and the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, failed to make progress on denuclearisation.

The report is expected to receive cabinet approval in mid-September, the Yomiuri said.

North Korea has conducted six rounds of short-range missile launches in recent weeks, in an apparent attempt to pressure Washington into making concessions in any future talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.

North Korea’s state KCNA news agency said the most recent launch, on Friday last week, was in protest at joint US-South Korea defence drills that the regime claims are a rehearsal for an invasion. The latest drills, named called 19-2 Dong Maeng, began on 5 August and ended on Tuesday.

KCNA said Kim had overseen the launch of the unspecified “new weapon” and expressed “great satisfaction” over his military’s “mysterious and amazing success rates” in recent testing activity. “It is our party’s goal … to possess invincible military capabilities no one dare provoke, and to keep bolstering them,” it quoted Kim as saying.

Earlier this year a report by the Rand Corporation, a California-based thinktank with close ties to the US military, said North Korea could possess as many as 100 nuclear warheads by 2020.

“North Korea’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles increases the possibility of their use against regional states, furthering instability across the region and beyond, thus affecting vital US interests,” the report said.

In 2017, a leaked US intelligence assessment concluded that North Korea had developed the technology to produce nuclear warheads small enough to fit inside missiles, theoretically giving it the ability to send nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles [ICBMs] to distant targets, including the US mainland.

North Korea’s short- and medium-range missiles can strike South Korea and Japan, including US military assets in those countries.

“The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the assessment said, according to the Washington Post.

In last year’s defence white paper, Japan said North Korean nuclear weapons and missiles posed an “unprecedented serious and imminent threat” to its security, adding that the security environment around Japan had become “increasingly severe”, despite dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang.

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« Reply #3332 on: Aug 21, 2019, 04:27 AM »

‘Not only wrong but crazy’: MSNBC panelists recoil in horror from Trump’s ‘abnormal’ views on foreign policy

on August 21, 2019
Raw Story
By Travis Gettys

President Donald Trump made a number of puzzling and bizarre statements Tuesday about U.S. foreign policy, and panelists on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” were aghast.

The president canceled a tip to Denmark after its prime minister refused to entertain his offer to buy Greenland, offered a stunningly vapid assessment of the situation in Kashmir, and reiterated his interest in seeing Russia rejoin the G7.

“You can really understand in retrospect why Gen. (James) Mattis just quit (as defense secretary),” said MSNBC analyst Mike Barnacle. “He had to leave. You cannot be surrounded by such abnormalities coming out of the mouth of the president of the United States on a consistent, daily, multiple-times-a-day basis. We cannot make it normal, but there’s a new normalcy when you see the president multiple times a day saying things that are absolutely, not only wrong, but crazy.”

Host Joe Scarborough asked Barnacle if he remembered what Kevin McCarthy, now the House Republican minority leader, said about Trump’s relationship with Russian president Vladimir Putin back in 2016 in a secret recording.

“He warned others that he believed strongly that Donald Trump had been bought off, had been paid off, along with (former Rep.) Dana Rohrbacker, by the Russian government,” Scarborough said.

Barnacle did recall McCarthy’s remarks, and expressed alarm at Trump pushing for Russia to return to the G7, as well as inviting them into Syria and Afghanistan, despite its attacks on U.S. democracy.

“There’s only two people, probably on earth, who know why he says these things about Russia,” Barnacle said. “One of them is Vladimir Putin, and the other is Donald Trump. There is something there, there is something always there when we talks about Russia.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=589&v=oKo5MU2oMP0

Trump’s ‘mind-numbing’ lies are ‘getting worse’ — and even White House aides are ‘baffled’: Morning Joe

on August 21, 2019
Raw Story
By Travis Gettys

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough warned the situation inside the White House is “getting worse.”

The “Morning Joe” host highlighted President Donald Trump’s “abnormal” views on foreign policy in Wednesday’s episode, and then walked through the president’s frequent flip-flops and the mental gymnastics his supporters must perform to stay loyal — and Politico reporter Jake Sherman said the situation was exhausting to cover.

“We’re getting to a point where there’s a case to be made as a journalist, as an objective journalist, that there isn’t much upside in giving a lot of stock in listening to the White House,” Sherman said, “since basically everything they say is turned around by the president or undermined by other pieces of facts that we see other places outside of the White House. I mean, from Greenland to the background checks to the payroll tax cut. I mean, everything this White House says is undermined by something else.”

Scarborough interrupted to say that critics of the mainstream media would point out that reporters should have already known Trump had no credibility, but he said the problem went beyond that.

“Of course, we all did see this coming for years,” Scarborough said, “but I want to pick up on what I have been underlining for the past week — it’s getting worse.”

Sherman agreed, but he said the problem goes beyond the president.

“For a reporter that has to deal with the White House on an every day basis,” Sherman said, “it’s mind-numbing and your head is spinning almost every day, because you don’t know up from down and your assumptions, your reality-based assumptions, are challenged by an institution that really has no sort of logical progression of thought, and the people in the White House, by the way, that are charged with achieving his priorities are also just completely baffled by a president who just looks like he’s spinning around in circles without any sort of goal in mind.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0LBXtngzZw


Trump accuses Jewish Americans of ‘disloyalty’ for voting Democratic, in antisemitic trope

President’s remarks seemed to refer to a perception that Jewish Americans have a dual loyalty to both America and Israel

Edward Helmore
21 Aug 2019 23.57 BST

Donald Trump used an apparently antisemitic trope when accusing Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats as showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty”.

The remarks came as part of a barrage of disparaging comments that threaten to re-ignite an ongoing feud with Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib. They seemed to refer to a perception that Jewish Americans have a dual loyalty to both America and Israel.

Trump, who recently encouraged Israel to block Tlaib’s visit to see her family in the occupied territories, lashed out after the congresswomen criticized Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for denying them entry, vowing that the Israeli leader would not “succeed in hiding the cruel reality of the occupation from us”.

Calling Omar a “disaster” for Jews, Trump said he didn’t “buy” the tears Tlaib had shed Monday at an emotional press conference during which Tlaib talked about her decision not to travel to Israel to see her elderly grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank.

“Where has the Democratic party gone?” Trump asked reporters at the White House. He then went on to apparently refer to Jewish Americans’ supposed loyalties to Israel and how voting Democratic was disloyal to the country. “Where have they gone, where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel? And I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Accusing Jewish Americans of having dual loyalties to America and Israel is widely seen as an antisemitic trope.

Omar herself has faced accusations of antisemitism for raising the issue of Jewish Americans’ relations to Israel as a dual loyalty.


Trump’s ‘indefensible’ comments just made it ‘much much harder’ for GOP to win in 2020: Ex-RNC Chair

Raw Story

President Donald Trump’s latest anti-Semitic trope is going to make it “much much harder” for Republicans to hold control of the White House in 2020, the former chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) explained on MSNBC on Tuesday.

Michael Steele was interviewed by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on “Hardball.”

“There’s a long-respected leader of what’s called Jewish Republicans, Matt Brooks — I’ve known him for a long time — this guy has the job of helping get votes, Republican votes, in the community, which generally votes Democrats,” Matthews noted. “What is he going to deal with this baby, this assault on religious identity and trying to claim you must vote your group?”

“You already had the Republican Jewish group come out and sort of back the president up, so you’re going to have reinforcements that way,” Steele noted.

In fact, Brooks himself defended the president.

    As I said there’s a significant distinction between questioning one’s loyalty to themselves and their community (Trump) and questioning one’s loyalty to your country (Lieu) https://t.co/fMOgCJgD3n

    — Matt Brooks (@mbrooksrjc) August 20, 2019

    .@mbrooksrjc defends Trump's statement: "Of course the president was not trafficking in dual loyalty and antisemitism." https://t.co/nG6kq3IQFd

    — Jacob Kornbluh (@jacobkornbluh) August 20, 2019

“What else is he going to do, what can he do? The reality is Trump has consistently put the party in a position where it has to defend the indefensible, to a point where it is so weak-kneed, it has no other choice but to stand next to him, and go, ‘Uh-huh, uh-huh, what he said,'” Steele explained.

“The reality for us politically on the right, on the Republican side, going into next year’s election is that now you’ve got one more group, one more, you know, community of individuals that are going to make that conversation much much harder to get their vote for our candidate,” Steele added.

“All I hear is gunfire on 5th Avenue, he keeps shooting people on 5th avenue and he keeps getting away it,” Matthews added.


‘Megalomaniacal, paranoid, and psychopathic’: Economist sounds the alarm on Trump’s ‘bottomless malevolence’

Raw Story

Economist Jeffrey Sachs, a professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, has written a frightening warning about President Donald Trump’s “paranoid and psychopathic” leadership style, and he says it could have disastrous consequences for the world if he wins a second term.

In an essay published at progressive news website Common Dreams, Sachs argues that it would be a grave mistake to treat Trump like a cynical politician, when in reality he is an impulsive and vindictive narcissist who acts on his angry whims.

“The situation is far more dangerous,” Sachs explains. “Trump is mentally disordered: megalomaniacal, paranoid, and psychopathic. This is not name-calling. Trump’s mental condition leaves him unable to keep his word, control his animosities, and restrain his actions. He must be opposed, not appeased.”

Sachs then explains why Trump’s policies toward Iran, which have been spurred on by both national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are the biggest potential powder keg that could set off a global disaster.

“Trump’s economic war with Iran threatens an even larger conflict,” he writes. “Before the world’s eyes, he is attempting to strangle the Iranian economy by cutting off its foreign-exchange earnings through sanctions on any firm, US or otherwise, that does business with the country. Such sanctions are tantamount to war, in violation of the United Nations Charter. And, because they are aimed directly at the civilian population, they constitute, or at least should constitute, a crime against humanity.”

Sachs concludes by telling European officials to remain firm in opposition to Trump, as giving into his demands will not satiate his desire for vengeance.

“They should recognize that a significant majority of Americans also oppose Trump’s malignant narcissism and psychopathic behavior, which has unleashed a contagion of mass shootings and other hate crimes in the US,” he writes. “By opposing Trump and defending the international rule of law, including rules-based international trade, Europeans and Americans together can strengthen world peace and transatlantic amity for generations to come.”

Read the whole article here: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/08/20/key-trump-policies-show-person-mentally-disordered-megalomaniacal-paranoid-and


Trump’s oil sanctions enriched Russian exporters by an extra $1 billion

Raw Story

Thanks to President Trump’s sanctions against Iran and Venezuela, demand for a particular brand of Russian crude oil has risen, causing revenue for Russian oil exporters to go through the roof, Fortune reports.

Between November and July, Russian oil companies were enriched by an extra $905 million.

    The calculation is based on difference between the Urals spread to the Brent benchmark over the period compared to the five-year average.
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    The sanctions added to a jump in demand for Russian crude in the wake of output cuts from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and their partners. As a result, Russia’s Urals blend of crude has started to regularly trade at a premium to Brent.

Speaking to Fortune, JBC Energy analyst Konstantsa Rangelova said that there’s currently a shortage of competing heavier, sourer crude now as a result of sanctions on the two countries, “but also because of OPEC+’s current production cut agreement.” He added that Urals in the Mediterranean are at “an all-time high.”

As Fortune points out, the Trump administration announced sanctions against Venezuela this January and cut waivers for buyers of Iranian oil in May, effectively creating a shortage of the brand of oil the two countries export. Russia’s total revenue from its oil exports were already at $58.5 billion for the first half of the year. Last year’s total revenue for the country was around $129 billion.


The disturbing Nazi-era history behind the Trump administration’s revival of the public charge clause

on August 21, 2019
By The Conversation

During the Nazi era, roughly 300,000 additional Jewish refugees could have gained entry to the U.S. without exceeding the nation’s existing quotas.

The primary mechanism that kept them out: the immigration law’s “likely to become a public charge” clause. Consular officials with the authority to issue visas denied them to everyone they deemed incapable of supporting themselves in the U.S.

It is not possible to say what happened to these refugees. Some immigrated to other countries that remained outside Germany’s grip, such as Great Britain. But many -— perhaps most -– were forced into hiding, imprisoned in concentration camps and ghettos, and deported to extermination centers.

The Trump administration is now resurrecting “the public charge” clause as a way to limit legal immigration without changing immigration law. On Aug. 12, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced new regulations that will deny admission to those unable to prove under tough new standards that they won’t claim government benefits.

As someone who has studied European Jews’ attempts to escape Nazi persecution and immigrate to the U.S., the administration’s evocation of the public charge clause is chilling.

Preventing 1930s immigration

For the first five decades, the public charge provision barred few people, basically only those unable to work due to physical or mental handicaps.The public charge clause stretches back to an 1882 act, which was then incorporated into a 1917 law, that spelled out the classes of aliens who could be excluded from the U.S., including “persons likely to become a public charge.”

After the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression, the Hoover administration sought to combat unemployment by reducing the number of immigrants. But it didn’t want to change the recently implemented Immigration Act of 1924 that set annual overall and country-by-country quotas.

In September 1930, the State Department issued a press release that told consular officials that they “must refuse the visa,” to anyone they believed “may probably be a public charge at any time.” The instructions achieved the desired effect. Within five months, only 10% of the quota slots allotted to European immigrants had been filled.

When the Roosevelt administration assumed power in March 1933, it continued the new interpretation of the public charge clause. As refugees from first Germany and then most of Europe sought to escape Nazi persecution, the State Department used the public charge clause to limit the number of foreigners, most of whom were Jews, from immigrating to the U.S.

With anti-foreigners pushing for legislation decreasing the quotas and refugee advocates trying to hold the line, the out-of-the-spotlight approach had political appeal. A State Department official acknowledged during hearings on a bill to cut the quotas 90% that “the administrative regulations were working so well that there was ‘no urgent need for legislation.’” Indeed, none of the numerous quota-cutting bills introduced throughout the 1930s passed.

Neither the language of the 1917 act nor the press release that doubled as an executive order indicated how applicants could prove they wouldn’t require public support. Should they show proof of assets? What kind of assets and in what amounts? Should they provide sworn affidavits from Americans vowing to support them? But who could provide such affidavits, and what financial resources must they possess?

With few guidelines and vast discretion, consular officials could basically do what they wanted.

Top State Department officials made clear what it was they wanted: to reduce immigration as much as possible. They also made clear that consular officials’ careers hinged upon accomplishing that goal. The State Department largely succeeded, primarily by relying upon the public charge clause, historians who have researched its use agree. Once World War II started in 1939, security concerns also were used to deny visas.

About 200,000 refugees from countries under Nazi domination were admitted to the U.S. as immigrants. About 550,000 could have been under existing U.S. quotas. Only once during the 12 years of the Nazi regime, in 1939, was the German quota filled. In all other years, the quota ranged from 7% to 70%.
Reviving the public charge clause

Although immigration laws have changed considerably since the 1930s and 1940s, the existing Immigration and Nationality Act retains a version of the public charge clause. It is as vague as earlier incarnations. Anyone who is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible, but the act doesn’t define what that means.

A related statute suggests “the availability of public benefits” shouldn’t be “an incentive for immigration.” It allows administering agencies to consider factors such as the applicant’s age, health, family status and financial resources.

Immigration Services, which is under the Department of Homeland Security, will use the Trump administration’s new rules to determine admissions to the U.S. at ports of entry and to assess status changes for certain immigrants already here.

The regulations specify negative and positive factors immigration officials must consider in deciding who is likely to become a public charge. Applicants who have enough money to cover “any reasonably foreseeable medical costs” or have a good credit score, for example, are judged favorably. Those who lack private health insurance, a college degree, sufficient English-language skills for the job market, or a well-to-do sponsor are assessed negatively.

Of recent applicants from Europe, Canada and Oceania, 27% had two or more negative factors under the new rules, Mark Greenberg of the think tank Migration Policy Institute told The Washington Post. Of those from Asia, 41% had two or more negative factors. Of those from Mexico and Central America, 60% had two or more negative factors.

The State Department is drafting similar rules for consular officers to use in issuing visas. The Department of Justice is preparing to provide standards for use in deportation and other immigration court proceedings.

The regulations leave the ultimate determination “in the opinion” of the appropriate government official, but I see little reason to doubt the result will be fewer and different types of immigrants. The Trump administration is as likely to succeed in communicating what it wants to lower-level officials as was the Nazi-era State Department.

By Laurel Leff, Associate Professor of Journalism, Northeastern University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Conservative columnist blasts GOP as ‘partisan hacks for whom hypocrisy is second-nature’

on August 21, 2019
By Tana Ganeva
- Commentary
Raw Story

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump once again ripped into The Squad, this time to undercut an emotional press conference in which Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MN) described the conditions her Palestinian relatives live under.

“Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long,” the president tweeted. “Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!”

    Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019

It’s become shockingly common for the president to wade into global policy by tweet–unthinkable under an Obama presidency.

Writing in the Washington Post, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin reminds us of when Republicans criticized virtually everything the president did, painting him as weak on the world stage.

Rubin wonders what it would look like if Republicans even bothered holding President Donald Trump to similar standards.

Rubin, who tends to be interventionist on foreign policy, says Obama wasn’t forceful enough at times.

“Obama didn’t have the example of a what happens when you stage a precipitous pullout from Iraq, but Trump has Obama’s example,” Rubin writes. “Obama was far too passive and hesitant to act in Syria, but he never suggested that Russia take care of matters and never announced a troop withdrawal by tweet.”

Still, although he may had made errors on the global stage, he did far better than Trump.

“Obama initially thought he might negotiate a better relationship with Russia, but he never repeated Russian propaganda that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 was a defense action, nor did Obama ever take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s word over that of the U.S. intelligence community,” Rubin continues.

“He never raised doubts about Russian responsibility for assassinations after our and our allies’ intelligence services found Russia responsible. He surely never bad-mouthed NATO, nor suggested we extort ransom from allies to “pay for” forward- positioning of troops overseas.”

The hypocrisy extends to members of the two men’s administrations.

“Republicans found plenty to criticize in then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s performance, but in comparison to the parade of yes-men, sycophants and the merely unqualified national security officials that Trump has appointed, Kerry, Susan E. Rice and the rest during the Obama years looked like diplomatic geniuses,” Rubin writes. “(And they managed to fill the political posts at Foggy Bottom!) Obama’s secretaries of state never tried to mislead Congress about the assassination of an U.S.-based journalist.”

Conservatives like herself who are critical of the president find themselves disconnected from the GOP, she says.

“NeverTrumpers who blasted Obama’s foreign policy missteps and saw excessive reticence in leading the West are somewhat stumped now,” Rubin writes.

“Why aren’t identical or worse actions undertaken by Trump and the contempt he shows for American values grounds for Republicans to blast away and ultimately to break with him?”

“Gosh, I can remember the good old days when Mitt Romney’s identification of Russia as the most important geopolitical threat required a resolute defense,” she continues.

Rubin digs in deep to expose the hypocrisy of the GOP establishment.

“There are a couple possibilities. Either Obama needs to be recognized as the best foreign policy president — next to Trump — or Trump is a nightmare who underscores all the criticisms that the GOP once directed at Obama,” she says.

“Either way, Republicans who fancy themselves as serious on national security have a whole lot of explaining to do. Alternatively, they could simply admit they are partisan hacks for whom hypocrisy is second-nature.”


Trump's state visit cancellation over Greenland shocks Danes

Disbelief as US president calls off state visit after Denmark’s PM labelled his idea of buying Greenland ‘absurd’

Wed 21 Aug 2019 10.44 BST

Danes have expressed shock and disbelief over Donald Trump’s cancellation of a state visit to Denmark after its prime minister rebuffed his interest in purchasing Greenland.

The US president’s proposal at first elicited incredulity and humour from politicians in Denmark, a Nato ally, with the former premier Lars Løkke Rasmussen saying: “It must be an April Fool’s Day joke.”

But the mood turned to shock when Trump called off the 2-3 September visit after the Danish prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, called his idea of the US buying Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, absurd.

“Total chaos with @realDonaldTrump and cancellation of state visit to Denmark. It has gone from a big opportunity for strengthened dialogue between allies to a diplomatic crisis,” the former foreign minister Kristian Jensen, a member of the opposition Liberal party, said on Twitter.

“Everyone should know Greenland is not for sale,” Jensen said of the world’s largest island, which has considerable mineral wealth and a US military presence at the Thule airbase under a 1951 treaty.

Frederiksen, who had been due to hold talks with Trump in Copenhagen, was unavailable for comment as she was travelling after a visit to Greenland and Iceland this week.

She had said Greenland was “not for sale” and she hoped Trump’s proposal was “not meant seriously”.

“It is very, very shocking, when it is about a very close ally and a good friend,” Søren Espersen, the foreign affairs spokesman for the hard-right Danish People’s party, told the Danish news agency Ritzau.

He described Trump’s cancellation as an offence to Queen Margrethe, Denmark’s head of state, and said he did not expect another visit by the US president would happen.

Trump and his wife, Melania, were formally invited to Denmark by Queen Margrethe in July.

“It shows why we now more than ever should consider [fellow] European Union countries as our closest allies. The man is unpredictable,” said Morten Østergaard, leader of the Danish Social Liberal party. “Reality surpasses imagination.”

Trump, whose “America First” policies have resulted in strained relations with the EU over trade and other issues, said on Sunday that a US purchase of Greenland would be “a large real estate deal”, though not an immediate priority.

“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Greenland, which is gaining attention from world powers including China, Russia and the US because of its strategic location and mineral resources, is self-governing but depends on Denmark for economic support.

Aaja Chemnitz Larsen, a lawmaker from Greenland’s opposition Inuit Ataqatigiit party, said she was not surprised at the cancellation but it underlined the territory’s importance.

“The US is an interesting ally for Greenland, but we also wish for Greenland to remain in the union we have today,” she told Reuters.


Denmark Offers to Buy U.S.

By Andy Borowitz
August 21, 2019
New Yorker

COPENHAGEN (The Borowitz Report)—After rebuffing Donald J. Trump’s hypothetical proposal to purchase Greenland, the government of Denmark has announced that it would be interested in buying the United States instead.

“As we have stated, Greenland is not for sale,” a spokesperson for the Danish government said on Friday. “We have noted, however, that during the Trump regime pretty much everything in the United States, including its government, has most definitely been for sale.”

“Denmark would be interested in purchasing the United States in its entirety, with the exception of its government,” the spokesperson added.

A key provision of the purchase offer, the spokesperson said, would be the relocation of Donald Trump to another country “to be determined,” with Russia and North Korea cited as possible destinations.

If Denmark’s bid for the United States is accepted, the Scandinavian nation has ambitious plans for its new acquisition. “We believe that, by giving the U.S. an educational system and national health care, it could be transformed from a vast land mass into a great nation,” the spokesperson said.

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« Reply #3333 on: Aug 21, 2019, 05:54 AM »

‘A bullhorn to his white nationalist base’: Progressive Jews hit back after Trump’s anti-Semitic smear

on August 21, 2019
By Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

“This rhetoric from the president is going to get Jews killed. It already has.”

Progressive Jews accused President Donald Trump of blaring “straightforward anti-Semitism” after he said from the Oval Office on Tuesday that Jewish Americans who vote for the Democratic Party are either ignorant or disloyal.

The smear, which sparked widespread outrage, came after Trump once again baselessly accused Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) of hating Jews and Israel.

“This is an explicit dual loyalty charge wielded by the President of the United States against 80 percent of American Jews who voted against him.”

“Where has the Democratic Party gone?” Trump said. “Where have they gone where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel? I think that any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

IfNotNow, a youth-led progressive Jewish advocacy group, quickly hit back, condemning the president for once again deploying the kind of hate-filled rhetoric that has fueled recent anti-Semitic attacks in the United States.

“This is an explicit dual loyalty charge wielded by the president of the United States against 80 percent of American Jews who voted against him,” the group said in a statement to Newsweek, alluding to 2018 midterm election data from the Pew Research Center.

“It is not merely an anti-Semitic dog whistle—it’s a bullhorn to his white nationalist base,” said IfNotNow. “American Jews and Democratic voters know full well the impact of the racist policies of Netanyahu and the Israeli government on the Palestinian people. This is why an overwhelming majority… oppose those policies, like unchecked settlement expansion.”

    The idea that Jews are disloyal and trying to undermine our country from the left has been the animating force behind the deadly, antisemitic violence we’ve seen under the Trump administration.

    This rhetoric from the president is going to get Jews killed. It already has. https://t.co/nWSAD6ZUtU

    — IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) August 20, 2019

Trump’s attack on American Jews comes days after he publicly urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop Tlaib and Omar from entering Israel.

The Israeli government last week initially barred both lawmakers, but later said Tlaib could make the trip to visit her 90-year-old grandmother who lives in the occupied West Bank—provided that she refrain from expressing support for boycott activities.

Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman ever elected to Congress, refused to accept these “oppressive” conditions and decided on Friday to cancel her planned trip.

Trump has since been intensifying his attacks on Tlaib and Omar, and on Tuesday he expanded his smears to the Jews who have rallied in support of the two progressive lawmakers.

Beth Miller, government affairs manager at Jewish Voice for Peace Action, told Newsweek that Trump’s comments “play into the anti-Semitic trope of Jews holding ‘dual-loyalty'” and were “wildly disconnected from reality.”

“A rapidly growing number of American Jews support conditioning, cutting, or ending U.S. military aid to a country that uses our tax dollars to violently oppress Palestinians,” said Miller.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who is Jewish, also fired back at Trump.

“Let me say this to the president,” Sanders tweeted. “I am a proud Jewish person and I have no concerns about voting Democratic. And in fact, I intend to vote for a Jewish man to become the next president of the United States.”


Trump horrifies the internet by tweeting out quotes from anti-Semitic superfan comparing him to ‘second coming of God’

on August 21, 2019
Raw Story
By Travis Gettys

President Donald Trump tweeted out some quotes from a superfan who compared him to Jesus Christ, in a tweetstorm doubling down on his widely criticized remarks about Jews and Israel.

The president on Tuesday questioned the loyalty of Jews who voted for Democrats, which was widely condemned as anti-Semitic, and he defended himself the following morning by tweeting out quotes from Newsmax commentator Wayne Allyn Root — who has promoted anti-Semitic and racist conspiracy theories against George Soros and President Barack Obama.

“Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words,” Trump tweeted. “’President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world…and the Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel.'”

“‘They love him like he is the second coming of God,'” the quote continued. “‘But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense! But that’s OK, if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s good for all Jews, Blacks, Gays, everyone. And importantly, he’s good for everyone in America who wants a job.’”

    ….like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God…But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense! But that’s OK, if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s good for…..

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019

Other Twitter users were horrified and appalled.

    Mashugana. Look it up.

    — David Jolly (@DavidJollyFL) August 21, 2019

    ….like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God…But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense! But that’s OK, if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s good for…..

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2019

    I just looked up Wayne Allyn Root.
    He’s a freaking SPORTS HANDICAPPER. And Spanky, I’ve got some odds on you going to prison.

    — Jamie Clorox the Oval Office (@Twinmom0) August 21, 2019

    Wayne Allyn Root may have nice words for you, Donald, but the 79% of Jewish Americans who voted Democrat in the last election who you referred to as stupid or disloyal are not feeling as generous today.

    You opened your stupid mouth and said something stupid and hateful AGAIN.

    — MatthewDicks (@MatthewDicks) August 21, 2019

    You really have to look far and wide for affirmation these days, don't you Sir?

    — 🎱 L.D. Thill🌵 (@RagingPachyderm) August 21, 2019

    The King of Israel? Take your blasphemous conspiracy nut friend Root and go read the Bible, which says something to the effect of beware false prophets who come to you in ill fitting suits& long ties. Your proselytizing of anti-semitic tropes against American Jews is a shanda.

    — Lesley Abravanel (@lesleyabravanel) August 21, 2019

    Trump wants the world to believe he is the second coming of God and the king if Israel. This is not going to end well.

    — Shannon Hoffman (@shan_is_sweet) August 21, 2019

    Like the second coming, huh? I've always said Trump was the Antichrist.

    — ShireCat (@SuSuShire) August 21, 2019

    Cool, cool, the god delusions have started.

    — gilley (@gilleyish) August 21, 2019

    hey Evangelicals, isn't it blasphemy for a person to compare themselves to God?

    — Kris 🦡🧀🍻 (@xhoipolloix) August 21, 2019

    This is not even funny anymore. @realDonaldTrump is mentally unstable. He really needs a psychiatric evaluation by an unbiased doctor and WE the American people need to know the results. None of this is normal and @senatemajldr and @LindseyGrahamSC know it. He's out of control.

    — Janet Davidson (@JanetSlaton2) August 21, 2019

    First of all "genius", there's no such thing as a second coming of god….. the second coming Christians are waiting for is the return of JESUS. Second, if you're going to be likened to a king, I think the appropriate comparison would be Herod the Great who slaughtered innocents

    — Abanacus 🌊🌊🌊 (@shoushoubella) August 21, 2019

    Blasphemy for breakfast, anyone?

    — Melisia (@melisianyc) August 21, 2019

    Bragging about being the Second Coming is a surefire way to lock up the Jewish vote. Good strategy, sir.

    — Dan Fagin (@danfagin) August 21, 2019

    Yes, Wayne Allyn Root, a conspiracy theorist who promote anti-Semitic George Soros attacks.

    More racist blather.

    — Michelangelo Signorile (@MSignorile) August 21, 2019

    Wayne Allen Root is a conspiracy theorist who claims he was Jewish before becoming an evangelical Christian. He doesn't speak for me. I know plenty of Jewish people in Israel repulsed by you. Back to Root, a proselytizer of Birtherism: I want to see his Jewish birth certificate.

    — Lesley Abravanel (@lesleyabravanel) August 21, 2019

    Trump's only support that he isn't an anti-Semite is Wayne Allyn Root a right winger who spewed an anti-Semitic trope that George Soros was behind the white supremacist terror attack in #Charlottesville. Details: https://t.co/KDa2bO9IMt pic.twitter.com/hZNlEtrfuC

    — (((DeanObeidallah))) (@DeanObeidallah) August 21, 2019


    — rmschloss (@rmschloss) August 21, 2019

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« Reply #3334 on: Aug 22, 2019, 03:41 AM »

Silicon Valley is literally developing mind-reading technology — and you definitely should be worried

on August 22, 2019
By The Conversation
- Commentary

Not content with monitoring almost everything you do online, Facebook now wants to read your mind as well. The social media giant recently announced a breakthrough in its plan to create a device that reads people’s brainwaves to allow them to type just by thinking. And Elon Musk wants to go even further. One of the Tesla boss’s other companies, Neuralink, is developing a brain implant to connect people’s minds directly to a computer.

Musk admits that he takes inspiration from science fiction, and that he wants to make sure humans can “keep up” with artificial intelligence. He seems to have missed the part of sci-fi that acts as a warning for the implications of technology.

These mind-reading systems could affect our privacy, security, identity, equality and personal safety. Do we really want all that left to companies with philosophies such as that of Facebook’s former mantra, “move fast and break things”?

Though they sound futuristic, the technologies needed to make brainwave-reading devices are not that dissimilar to the standard MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and EEG (electroencephalography) neuroscience tools used in hospitals all over the world. You can already buy a kit to control a drone with your mind, so using one to type out words is, in some ways, not that much of a leap. The advance will likely be due to the use of machine learning to sift through huge quantities of data collected from our brains and find the patterns in neuron activity that link thoughts to specific words.

A brain implant is likely to take a lot longer to develop, and it’s important to separate out the actual achievements of Neuralink from media hype and promotion. But Neuralink has made simultaneous improvements in materials for electrodes and robot-assisted surgery to implant them, packaging the technology neatly so it can be read via USB.

Facebook and Neuralink’s plans may build on established medical practice. But when companies are collecting thoughts directly from our brains, the ethical issues are very different.

Any system that could collect data directly from our brains has clear privacy risks. Privacy is about consent. But it is very difficult to give proper consent if someone is tapping directly into our thoughts. Silicon Valley companies (and governments) already surreptitiously gather as much data on us as they can and use it in ways we’d rather they didn’t. How sure can we be that our random and personal thoughts won’t be captured and studied alongside the instructions we want to give the technology?
Discrimination and manipulation

One of the existing ethical issues with data gathering is discrimination based on attributes such as gender or race that can be discerned from the data. Providing a window into people’s minds could make it easier to determine other things that might form the basis of prejudice, such as sexuality or political ideology, or even different ways of thinking that might include things like autism.

With a system that taps directly into your brain, not only could your thoughts be stolen, but it’s also possible they could be manipulated as well. Brain stimulation is already being developed to help treat PTSD and reduce violence. There are even sensational claims that it can be used to upload knowledge directly just like in the film The Matrix.

A predictable step would be to combine the “in” and “out” technologies for a two-way brain-computer interface. The potential for governments to make us more compliant, for employers to force us to work harder, or for companies to make us want more of their products underlines just how seriously we should take this technology.

If mind-reading devices become the normal way to interact with computers, we may end up with little choice but to use them in order to keep up with more productive colleagues. (Imagine someone today applying for an office job but refusing to use email.) And if Neuralink-style implants become the norm, this could also lead to greater inequality determined by what level of kit you could afford to have installed.

Elon Musk has stated that the enormous loan required to afford Neuralink surgery would be offset by potential earnings for the “enhanced”. The idea of people feeling pressured to take on huge debts to have surgery just to keep their job comes straight from a sci-fi dystopia.

On top of all this is the more direct physical threat of having systems physically intruding on our brains. While some people may want to modify their brain with a computer interface (there are already plenty of experimental biohackers), to roll this out on a large scale would require massive and thorough testing.

Given Silicon Valley’s reputation (and penchant) for breaking things rather than stopping to think them through, these systems will need close regulation and ethical review even before testing begins. Otherwise it risks creating mutilated human guinea pigs.

For all this, there could be huge advantages to continuing research in this area, particularly for those suffering from paralysis or sensory impairment. But Silicon Valley should not be able to dictate the way these technologies are developed and deployed. If they do, it may radically reshape the way we identify as human.The Conversation

By Garfield Benjamin, Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Media Arts and Technology, Solent University

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« Reply #3335 on: Aug 22, 2019, 03:45 AM »

What's in our water? Report warns of growing 'invisible' crisis of pollution

Climate emergency and population growth blamed for deteriorating water quality, with ‘cocktail of chemicals’ changing as countries become richer

Peter Beaumont
21 Aug 2019 21.00 BST

A Bangladeshi man sits on a concrete pipe, as tannery industrial water empties out into the Daleshwari River in Savar, Bangladesh. More than 100 leather tanneries that were forced to relocate because of their massive pollution are now running toxic waste into this river, creating new environmental and health problems for community members and laborers.

The planet is facing a mounting and “invisible” water pollution crisis, according to a hard-hitting World Bank report, which claims the issue is responsible for a one-third reduction in potential economic growth in the most heavily affected areas.

The study, which assembled the world’s largest database of water pollution, assesses how a combination of bacteria, sewage, chemicals and plastics suck oxygen from water supplies and transform water into poison for people and ecosystems.

While much international attention has been focused on the question of water quantity, not least as the planet warms, a secondary impact of the climate emergency has been its effect on water quality.

Because of the huge number of different pollutants entering the environment, researchers focused on the key measures for water quality laid down in the UN’s sustainable development goals, in particular nutrient loads, salt balances, and the overall environmental health.

The authors of the report employed a variety of technologies to study the problem, including satellite imaging of major algae blooms and artificial intelligence to assess the data they were collecting.

In particular researchers looked at a key measure called biological oxygen demand (BOD) to assess how much organic pollution is in water, using it as an indicator of overall water quality.
Indian workers collect and remove trash with a boat as they take part in the cleaning of the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad on May 21, 2019.

The researchers noted that when BOD crosses a certain threshold, GDP growth in areas affected by the problem drops by as much as a third because of the impact on health, agriculture and ecosystems.

Although issues with water pollution affect both rich and poor countries, the researchers suggest that developing countries have the least resources to deal with the issue.

A key contributor to poor water quality is nitrogen, which, applied as fertiliser in agriculture, eventually enters rivers, lakes and oceans where it transforms into nitrates.

Early exposure of children to nitrates affects their growth and brain development, impacting their health and adult earning potential.

The run-off and release into water from every additional kilogram of nitrogen fertiliser per hectare can increase the level of childhood stunting by as much as 19% percent and reduce future adult earnings by as much as 2%, compared with those who are not exposed.

Researchers also looked at the growing issue of salinity – salt contamination – blamed on more intense droughts, storm surges and rising water extraction. They estimated that at current levels its impact on agriculture means that the food lost because of saline water across the world would feed 170 million people.

The report notes that even wealthy countries still have serious issues with water pollution.

“Even high-income economies with well-resourced institutions find themselves unable to cope with the challenges,” the authors report, citing the notorious contamination of the drinking water supply in Flint in the US.

“Four decades after the passing of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, over 100,000 residents in Flint were exposed to lead in their drinking water.

“It required a national movement and three years for water to return to acceptable safety levels, but not before potentially thousands of children had been exposed to the irreversible harm caused by lead poisoning,” said the report.

“In Europe, countries such as France, Germany and Greece have been fined by the European Court of Justice for violating the regulatory limits for nitrates. Almost a third of monitoring stations in Germany present levels of nitrates exceeding the European Union’s limits.”

“When it comes to what’s the cause of this problem, there are two forces,” Richard Damania, a World Bank senior economic advisor and a lead author of the report, told the Guardian.

“The first is climate change, which affects both water quantity and quality. The second is population growth and production. The debate has always focused on the issue of quantity, but it becomes obvious when you look below the surface that there are thousands of pollutants.

“We find that water pollution is a problem that affects both rich and poor countries, however the cocktail of chemicals changes as countries develop. In poor countries it is faecal bacteria and as GDP increases then nitrogen [from fertilisers] becomes the issue.”

“Clean water is a key factor for economic growth,” added the World Bank Group president, David Malpass.

“Deteriorating water quality is stalling economic growth, worsening health conditions, reducing food production, and exacerbating poverty in many countries.

“Their governments must take urgent actions to help tackle water pollution so that countries can grow faster in equitable and environmentally sustainable

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« Reply #3336 on: Aug 22, 2019, 03:48 AM »

How US cities are scrambling to protect people from extreme heat

With cities facing both rapid growth and radical, permanent climate change, urban authorities are faced with an increasingly vulnerable population

    Cooling goo sidewalks and other strange new weapons in the war on urban heat

Oliver Milman in New York, Emily Holden in Washington DC, Tom Dart in Houston
22 Aug 2019 09.00 BST

On a sweltering summer day in Washington, DC, Judy Williams pulls up to a homeless day center to fill her van with bottled water.

The homeless outreach coordinatoris headed to the spots where she knows she’ll find people who are living outside.

“I’ll make sure they’re not lying down on the ground, and tap their feet for a response,” Williams said.

Inside the center, a few dozen people hide from the heat in a windowless room with cafeteria-style tables and loud televisions. Two nearby men’s shelters are also open around-the-clock instead of just at night because of a city-wide heat alert.

There’s free lunch, as well as computers for job searching, laundry machines and showers – but managers say people also visit just to get out of the sun.

The center is in the middle of warehouses and near a highway, and all the concrete radiates heat. Matthew King, a 44-year-old who works in a tire shop but is between homes, said he visits regularly, “especially when it’s hot.”

“This is the hottest I’ve ever seen in July,” said King at the center, which is just a few miles from the White House rose garden where President Trump said in 2017 that the US will leave the Paris climate change accord.

Residents of the US capital are regularly baked in heatwaves and endure stiflingly thick humidit.

But much like many cities around the world, Washington DC is being slowly cooked by the human-driven climate crisis to the extent its entire character will be transformed.

By 2080, researchers recently found, Washington DC’s climate will resemble what northern Mississippi or Dallas is like currently.

Unless drastic action is taken to slash greenhouse gases, global heating will transform the climates of almost every community in the US by the time today’s children are entering retirement. Outdoors in Philadelphia will feel more like Memphis; New York City is set to morph into northeastern Arkansas; Houston and Miami have no US comparison, leaping instead deep into climates currently found in Mexico.

“Every city gets warmer, none get cooler,” said Matt Fitzpatrick, a University of Maryland academic who formulated the climate projections for US cities, based on a range of heat and rainfall scenarios.

    In the lifetime of children today, a lot of these cities are going to be dramatically transformed
    Matt Fitzpatrick, University of Maryland

Its research shows how 540 North American urban areas will by 2080 become, on average, “most like the contemporary climate of locations about 500 miles (805kms) away and mainly to the south.”

The average temperature in US cities will rise by a blistering 9F (5C) by the end of the century, compared to the period of 1960-1990, if greenhouse gas emissions aren’t curbed. Some cities will be outliers – Fairbanks, Alaska, for example, is in danger of heating up by a sweltering 11.8F (6.6C).

“Cities have built infrastructure for a climate that will no longer be there,” Fitzpatrick said. “They will have to live with more heat and, if they are on the coast, flooding too. In the lifetime of children today, a lot of these places are going to be dramatically transformed.”

This new reality of searing heat is an existential one for those most vulnerable – the sick, the elderly and, in particular, the homeless. Washington officials estimate 6,521 people were experiencing homelessness this year, down 6% from 2018. In the broader metropolitan area, about 9,794 people are without homes.

Laura Zeilinger, director of the Department of Human Services, said as the city heats up, her goal stays the same – to get people into homes. Zeilinger said she isn’t aware of any heat-related deaths in the city, although she does review any hypothermia-related deaths at the end of each winter.

“It’s when people don’t have housing that the elements become life threatening,” Zeilinger said.
City will become ‘70% wetter’

It doesn’t take much of a temperature increase to permanently shift the expected climate of a city. Fitzpatrick found that a 9.8F (5.5C) average temperature increase during Washington DC’s winter would plunge it into what the deep south is like today. This scenario, possible if emissions aren’t curbed, would also make DC around 70% wetter.

“When people hear about a few degrees in temperature rise they can think ‘that doesn’t sound too bad.’ This shows it can really have a big impact,” said Fitzpatrick, who has started to ponder the altered state of Cumberland, Maryland – the town he lives in. “It’s going to look more like southern Kentucky, more of a subtropical climate,” he said. “We get a fair amount of snow now but that’s all going to change. It’s going to be very different.”

Washington DC has been given a recent glimpse into its future – a 92F (33C) burst of heat last May saw the city break a 105-year-old record for high temperatures. Sitting on the banks of two tidal rivers – the Potomac and the Anacostia – Washington DC is also essentially a delta city at growing risk of flooding as bursts of rainfall become more intense.

    It won’t just be uncomfortable, it will be a life or death challenge for many people
    Jessica Grannis, Georgetown Climate Center

City leaders have attempted to identify the threat and counter it. A climate resilience plan, released in April, states that DC’s temperature has already risen by 2F (1.1C) over the past 50 years, with a further 4.5F (2.5C) increase to come within 30 years.

The number of “heat emergency days” in DC, where the heat index tops 95F (35C), is expected to occur on more than 50 days a year as the century draws to a close. “That means that, in 2080, our summer will be one long heat emergency,” the DC resilience document warns.

This scorching new climate is set to heavily burden DC’s growing population, many of them low-income and struggling with housing affordability. Vulnerable people will likely suffer dehydration or heatstroke, with increasing use of air conditioning placing a strain on the electrical grid.

Power outages will probably start to spike.

“It will affect how people live, work and get around in the city,” said Jessica Grannis, adaptation program manager at the Georgetown Climate Center. “It won’t just be uncomfortable, it will be a life or death challenge for many people. Once it starts getting very hot at night, people without air conditioning are going to be at serious risk if they can’t cool down properly.”

Kevin Bush, DC’s chief resilience officer, has pledged to “make the city’s immune system stronger” to cope with this threat, comparing it to how cities in California prepare for the ructions of an earthquake.

Under the resilience plan, all DC buildings must be retrofitted to cope with rising heat and flooding threats by 2050, with all new buildings adhering to stricter codes within 13 years. The most at-risk buildings may even be removed.

There’s a plan to add more greenery to DC by planting more trees, which will provide shade, and other vegetation that will help soak up stormwater from heavy downpours. The curbsides of several major streets are already getting a makeover, with new plants being bedded in to help cool down the city.

“If walk along the streets in DC at the moment you’ll see a lot of pavements being taken out in favour of plantings,” Grannis said. DC is, she added, “one of the most climate prepared cities in the US. Unfortunately it’s not quite the same everywhere.”

Dallas, which has a climate that Washington DC is moving towards, is currently trying to muster its own response to the rising heat. By 2080, according to the University of Maryland research, Dallas is set to become more like New Orleans – nearly 9F (5C) hotter and nearly three times as wet.

“We had a storm event a few weeks ago where 350,000 people lost power, trees were knocked over. People started to think we maybe aren’t as resilient as we thought, even when it’s not a Hurricane Harvey sort of event,” said James McGuire, director of environmental quality at the City of Dallas.

Urban heat island

Dallas’ situation is exacerbated by the vast sprawl of concrete at its heart. A third of its surface is made up of rooftops, parking lots, highways and other impervious surfaces that soak up heat. This gives Dallas one of the highest “urban heat island” effects in the US, with the city up to 15F warmer than nearby rural areas. Some areas of the city average peak temperatures of 101F for five months of the year.

Of all US cities, only Phoenix is heating up quicker than Dallas, found a 2017 report from the Texas Trees Foundation, which recommended the city plant 250,000 trees to alleviate the sweltering conditions.

    We are getting diseases like Zika and West Nile that Texans never really used to worry about before
    James McGuire, City of Dallas

McGuire said the city hasn’t decided whether to adopt this goal but admitted Dallas needs “a lot more trees.” A recent giveaway of saplings to residents proved popular but more robust action will need to be undertaken without much state or federal support. McGuire said that officials in Dallas talk to their counterparts in Houston and San Antonio about heat but they may have to wait for a time when “impacts are so severe everyone will have to do something.”

Dallas’s summer is set to double in length by the end of the century if radical climate action isn’t taken, according to a major US government assessment released last year. The city will also be prone to the whiplash of prolonged droughts interspersed by the drumbeat of heavier rainfall.

Property on the banks of Trinity river, that runs through Dallas, has long received billions of dollars of flooding protection but there is less preparation for fresher challenges, such as protecting people working outdoors who risk keeling over in the heat.

In January, Dallas City Council kickstarted an attempt to address this manifold problem by passing its first climate resolution. Most of its adaption plans, however, have yet to be formed or funded.

“It’s the worst of all potential worlds, really,” McGuire said. “We are getting more asthma problems. We are getting more drought. We are getting diseases like Zika and West Nile that Texans never really used to worry about before. We just hope the most dire projections won’t happen.”

On another hot day in Washington, Tariq Daniels – who is currently between homes – ate lunch and charged his phone at a local grocery store.

Daniels said the city has plenty of services, including the day centers, as well as free recreation centers and libraries. Daniels splits his time between the public spaces, his mosque and the grocery store, where he savors the quiet as a contrast to the noise of the shelter in which he currently sleeps.

“You’ve got everything that you need,” Daniels said. “A lot of people have just given up. They’re doing drugs to the point where they’re numb to the outside temperature.”

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« Reply #3337 on: Aug 22, 2019, 03:51 AM »

'Plastic recycling is a myth': what really happens to your rubbish?

‘Everything you own will one day become property of the £250bn global waste industry.’

You sort your recycling, leave it to be collected – and then what? From councils burning the lot to foreign landfill sites overflowing with British rubbish, Oliver Franklin-Wallis reports on a global waste crisis


An alarm sounds, the blockage is cleared, and the line at Green Recycling in Maldon, Essex, rumbles back into life. A momentous river of garbage rolls down the conveyor: cardboard boxes, splintered skirting board, plastic bottles, crisp packets, DVD cases, printer cartridges, countless newspapers, including this one. Odd bits of junk catch the eye, conjuring little vignettes: a single discarded glove. A crushed Tupperware container, the meal inside uneaten. A photograph of a smiling child on an adult’s shoulders. But they are gone in a moment. The line at Green Recycling handles up to 12 tonnes of waste an hour.

“We produce 200 to 300 tonnes a day,” says Jamie Smith, Green Recycling’s general manager, above the din. We are standing three storeys up on the green health-and-safety gangway, looking down the line. On the tipping floor, an excavator is grabbing clawfuls of trash from heaps and piling it into a spinning drum, which spreads it evenly across the conveyor. Along the belt, human workers pick and channel what is valuable (bottles, cardboard, aluminium cans) into sorting chutes.

“Our main products are paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, mixed plastics, and wood,” says Smith, 40. “We’re seeing a significant rise in boxes, thanks to Amazon.” By the end of the line, the torrent has become a trickle. The waste stands stacked neatly in bales, ready to be loaded on to trucks. From there, it will go – well, that is when it gets complicated.

You drink a Coca-Cola, throw the bottle into the recycling, put the bins out on collection day and forget about it. But it doesn’t disappear. Everything you own will one day become the property of this, the waste industry, a £250bn global enterprise determined to extract every last penny of value from what remains. It starts with materials recovery facilities (MRFs) such as this one, which sort waste into its constituent parts. From there, the materials enter a labyrinthine network of brokers and traders. Some of that happens in the UK, but much of it – about half of all paper and cardboard, and two-thirds of plastics – will be loaded on to container ships to be sent to Europe or Asia for recycling. Paper and cardboard goes to mills; glass is washed and re-used or smashed and melted, like metal and plastic. Food, and anything else, is burned or sent to landfill.

Or, at least, that’s how it used to work. Then, on the first day of 2018, China, the world’s largest market for recycled waste, essentially shut its doors. Under its National Sword policy, China prohibited 24 types of waste from entering the country, arguing that what was coming in was too contaminated. The policy shift was partly attributed to the impact of a documentary, Plastic China, which went viral before censors erased it from China’s internet. The film follows a family working in the country’s recycling industry, where humans pick through vast dunes of western waste, shredding and melting salvageable plastic into pellets that can be sold to manufacturers. It is filthy, polluting work – and badly paid. The remainder is often burned in the open air. The family lives alongside the sorting machine, their 11-year-old daughter playing with a Barbie pulled from the rubbish.

    Westminster council sent 82% of all household waste – including that put in recycling bins – for incineration in 2017/18

For recyclers such as Smith, National Sword was a huge blow. “The price of cardboard has probably halved in the last 12 months,” he says. “The price of plastics has plummeted to the extent that it isn’t worth recycling. If China doesn’t take plastic, we can’t sell it.” Still, that waste has to go somewhere. The UK, like most developed nations, produces more waste than it can process at home: 230m tonnes a year – about 1.1kg per person per day. (The US, the world’s most wasteful nation, produces 2kg per person per day.) Quickly, the market began flooding any country that would take the trash: Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, countries with some of the world’s highest rates of what researchers call “waste mismanagement” – rubbish left or burned in open landfills, illegal sites or facilities with inadequate reporting, making its final fate difficult to trace.

The present dumping ground of choice is Malaysia. In October last year, a Greenpeace Unearthed investigation found mountains of British and European waste in illegal dumps there: Tesco crisp packets, Flora tubs and recycling collection bags from three London councils. As in China, the waste is often burned or abandoned, eventually finding its way into rivers and oceans. In May, the Malaysian government began turning back container ships, citing public health concerns. Thailand and India have announced bans on the import of foreign plastic waste. But still the rubbish flows.

We want our waste hidden. Green Recycling is tucked away at the end of an industrial estate, surrounded by sound-deflecting metal boards. Outside, a machine called an Air Spectrum masks the acrid odour with the smell of cotton bedsheets. But, all of a sudden, the industry is under intense scrutiny. In the UK, recycling rates have stagnated in recent years, while National Sword and funding cuts have led to more waste being burned in incinerators and energy-from-waste plants. (Incineration, while often criticised for being polluting and an inefficient source of energy, is today preferred to landfill, which emits methane and can leach toxic chemicals.) Westminster council sent 82% of all household waste – including that put in recycling bins – for incineration in 2017/18. Some councils have debated giving up recycling altogether. And yet the UK is a successful recycling nation: 45.7% of all household waste is classed as recycled (although that number indicates only that it is sent for recycling, not where it ends up.) In the US, that figure is 25.8%.

    One of the UK’s largest waste companies, attempted to ship used nappies abroad in consignments marked as waste paper

If you look at plastics, the picture is even bleaker. Of the 8.3bn tonnes of virgin plastic produced worldwide, only 9% has been recycled, according to a 2017 Science Advances paper entitled Production, Use And Fate Of All Plastics Ever Made. “I think the best global estimate is maybe we’re at 20% [per year] globally right now,” says Roland Geyer, its lead author, a professor of industrial ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Academics and NGOs doubt those numbers, due to the uncertain fate of our waste exports. In June, one of the UK’s largest waste companies, Biffa, was found guilty of attempting to ship used nappies, sanitary towels and clothing abroad in consignments marked as waste paper. “I think there’s a lot of creative accounting going on to push the numbers up,” Geyer says.

“It’s really a complete myth when people say that we’re recycling our plastics,” says Jim Puckett, the executive director of the Seattle-based Basel Action Network, which campaigns against the illegal waste trade. “It all sounded good. ‘It’s going to be recycled in China!’ I hate to break it to everyone, but these places are routinely dumping massive amounts of [that] plastic and burning it on open fires.”


Recycling is as old as thrift. The Japanese were recycling paper in the 11th century; medieval blacksmiths made armour from scrap metal. During the second world war, scrap metal was made into tanks and women’s nylons into parachutes. “The trouble started when, in the late 70s, we began trying to recycle household waste,” says Geyer. This was contaminated with all sorts of undesirables: non-recyclable materials, food waste, oils and liquids that rot and spoil the bales.

At the same time, the packaging industry flooded our homes with cheap plastic: tubs, films, bottles, individually shrink-wrapped vegetables. Plastic is where recycling gets most controversial. Recycling aluminium, say, is straightforward, profitable and environmentally sound: making a can from recycled aluminium reduces its carbon footprint by up to 95%. But with plastic, it is not that simple. While virtually all plastics can be recycled, many aren’t because the process is expensive, complicated and the resulting product is of lower quality than what you put in. The carbon-reduction benefits are also less clear. “You ship it around, then you have to wash it, then you have to chop it up, then you have to re-melt it, so the collection and recycling itself has its own environmental impact,” says Geyer.

Household recycling requires sorting at a vast scale. This is why most developed countries have colour-coded bins: to keep the end product as pure as possible. In the UK, Recycle Now lists 28 different recycling labels that can appear on packaging. There is the mobius loop (three twisted arrows), which indicates a product can technically be recycled; sometimes that symbol contains a number between one and seven, indicating the plastic resin from which the object is made. There is the green dot (two green arrows embracing), which indicates that the producer has contributed to a European recycling scheme. There are labels that say “Widely Recycled” (acceptable by 75% of local councils) and “Check Local Recycling” (between 20% and 75% of councils).

Since National Sword, sorting has become even more crucial, as overseas markets demand higher-quality material. “They don’t want to be the world’s dumping ground, quite rightly,” Smith says, as we walk along the Green Recycling line. About halfway, four women in hi-vis and caps pull out large chunks of cardboard and plastic films, which machines struggle with. There is a low rumble in the air and a thick layer of dust on the gangway. Green Recycling is a commercial MRF: it takes waste from schools, colleges and local businesses. That means lower volume, but better margins, as the company can charge clients directly and maintain control over what it collects. “The business is all about turning straw into gold,” says Smith, referencing Rumpelstiltskin. “But it’s hard – and it’s become a lot harder.”

Towards the end of the line is the machine that Smith hopes will change that. Last year, Green Recycling became the first MRF in the UK to invest in Max, a US-made, artificially intelligent sorting machine. Inside a large clear box over the conveyor, a robotic suction arm marked FlexPickerTM is zipping back and forth over the belt, picking tirelessly. “He’s looking for plastic bottles first,” Smith says. “He does 60 picks a minute. Humans will pick between 20 and 40, on a good day.” A camera system identifies the waste rolling by, displaying a detailed breakdown on a nearby screen. The machine is intended not to replace humans, but to augment them. “He’s picking three tonnes of waste a day that otherwise our human guys would have to leave,” Smith says. In fact, the robot has created a new human job to maintain it: this is done by Danielle, whom the crew refer to as “Max’s mum”. The benefits of automation, Smith says, are twofold: more material to sell and less waste that the company needs to pay to have burned afterwards. Margins are thin and landfill tax is £91 a tonne.


Smith is not alone in putting his faith in technology. With consumers and the government outraged at the plastics crisis, the waste industry is scrambling to solve the problem. One great hope is chemical recycling: turning problem plastics into oil or gas through industrial processes. “It recycles the kind of plastics that mechanical recycling can’t look at: the pouches, the sachets, the black plastics,” says Adrian Griffiths, the founder of Swindon-based Recycling Technologies. The idea found its way to Griffiths, a former management consultant, by accident, after a mistake in a Warwick University press release. “They said they could turn any old plastic back into a monomer. At the time, they couldn’t,” Griffiths says. Intrigued, Griffiths got in touch. He ended up partnering with the researchers to launch a company that could do this.

    By moving from disposable to reusable, you unlock epic design opportunities

At Recycling Technologies’ pilot plant in Swindon, plastic (Griffiths says it can process any type) is fed into a towering steel cracking chamber, where it is separated at extremely high temperatures into gas and an oil, plaxx, which can be used as a fuel or feedstock for new plastic. While the global mood has turned against plastic, Griffiths is a rare defender of it. “Plastic packaging has actually done an incredible service for the world, because it has reduced the amount of glass, metal and paper that we were using,” he says. “The thing that worries me more than the plastic problem is global warming. If you use more glass, more metal, those materials have a much higher carbon footprint.” The company recently launched a trial scheme with Tesco and is already working on a second facility, in Scotland. Eventually, Griffiths hopes to sell the machines to recycling facilities worldwide. “We need to stop shipping recycling abroad,” he says. “No civilised society should be getting rid of its waste to a developing country.”

There is cause for optimism: in December 2018, the UK government published a comprehensive new waste strategy, partly in response to National Sword. Among its proposals: a tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled material; a simplified labelling system; and means to force companies to take responsibility for the plastic packaging they produce. They hope to force the industry to invest in recycling infrastructure at home.

Meanwhile, the industry is being forced to adapt: in May, 186 countries passed measures to track and control the export of plastic waste to developing countries, while more than 350 companies have signed a global commitment to eliminate the use of single-use plastics by 2025.

Yet such is the torrent of humanity’s refuse that these efforts may not be enough. Recycling rates in the west are stalling and packaging use is set to soar in developing countries, where recycling rates are low. If National Sword has shown us anything, it is that recycling – while needed – simply isn’t enough to solve our waste crisis.


Perhaps there is an alternative. Since Blue Planet II brought the plastic crisis to our attention, a dying trade is having a resurgence in Britain: the milkman. More of us are choosing to have milk bottles delivered, collected and re-used. Similar models are springing up: zero-waste shops that require you to bring your own containers; the boom in refillable cups and bottles. It is as if we have remembered that the old environmental slogan “Reduce, re-use, recycle” wasn’t only catchy, but listed in order of preference.

Tom Szaky wants to apply the milkman model to almost everything you buy. The bearded, shaggy-haired Hungarian-Canadian is a veteran of the waste industry: he founded his first recycling startup as a student at Princeton, selling worm-based fertiliser out of re-used bottles. That company, TerraCycle, is now a recycling giant, with operations in 21 countries. In 2017, TerraCycle worked with Head & Shoulders on a shampoo bottle made from recycled ocean plastics. The product launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos and was an immediate hit. Proctor & Gamble, which makes Head & Shoulders, was keen to know what was next, so Szaky pitched something far more ambitious.

The result is Loop, which launched trials in France and the US this spring and will arrive in Britain this winter. It offers a variety of household products – from manufacturers including P&G, Unilever, Nestlé and Coca-Cola – in reusable packaging. The items are available online or through exclusive retailers. Customers pay a small deposit, and the used containers are eventually collected by a courier or dropped off in store (Walgreens in the US, Tesco in the UK), washed, and sent back to the producer to be refilled. “Loop is a not a product company; it’s a waste management company,” says Szaky. “We’re just looking at waste before it begins.”

Many of the Loop designs are familiar: refillable glass bottles of Coca-Cola and Tropicana; aluminium bottles of Pantene. But others are being rethought entirely. “By moving from disposable to reusable, you unlock epic design opportunities,” says Szaky. For example: Unilever is working on toothpaste tablets that dissolve into paste under running water; Häagen-Dazs ice-cream comes in a stainless steel tub that stays cold long enough for picnics. Even the deliveries come in a specially designed insulated bag, to cut down on cardboard.

Tina Hill, a Paris-based copywriter, signed up to Loop soon after its launch in France. “It’s super-easy,” she says. “It’s a small deposit, €3 [per container]. What I like about it is that they have things I already use: olive oil, washing pods.” Hill describes herself as “pretty green: we recycle anything that can be recycled, we buy organic”. By combining Loop with shopping at local zero-waste stores, Hills has helped her family radically reduce its reliance on single-use packaging. “The only downside is that the prices can be a little high. We don’t mind spending a little bit more to support the things that you believe in, but on some things, like pasta, it’s prohibitive.”

A major advantage to Loop’s business model, Szaky says, is that it forces packaging designers to prioritise durability over disposability. In future, Szaky anticipates that Loop will be able to email users warnings for expiry dates and other advice to reduce their waste footprint. The milkman model is about more than just the bottle: it makes us think about what we consume and what we throw away. “Garbage is something that we want out of sight and mind – it’s dirty, it’s gross, it smells bad,” says Szaky.

That is what needs to change. It is tempting to see plastic piled up in Malaysian landfills and assume recycling is a waste of time, but that isn’t true. In the UK, recycling is largely a success story, and the alternatives – burning our waste or burying it – are worse. Instead of giving up on recycling, Szaky says, we should all use less, re-use what we can and treat our waste like the waste industry sees it: as a resource. Not the ending of something, but the beginning of something else.

“We don’t call it waste; we call it materials,” says Green Recycling’s Smith, back in Maldon. Down in the yard, a haulage truck is being loaded with 35 bales of sorted cardboard. From here, Smith will send it to a mill in Kent for pulping. It will be new cardboard boxes within the fortnight – and someone else’s rubbish soon after.

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« Reply #3338 on: Aug 22, 2019, 03:54 AM »

'Before I was kidnapped I had friends': girl soldiers of South Sudan

A reintegration programme has helped 360 girls leave armed groups in Yambio county but for many the trauma of sexual violence persists

Samuel Okiror in Yambio county
2 Aug 2019 07.00 BST

Late one night in April 2015, 13-year-old Patricia* and her sister, who was 11, were kidnapped from their beds by rebel forces fighting the government in South Sudan.

The girls were taken from their home in a raid on their village by the South Sudan National Liberation Movement in Yambio county, not far from the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Although she spied on government troops during her captivity, Patricia’s main job was carrying food and cooking. She was also forced to have sex with soldiers.

“When we reached the military base, I was assigned to a certain soldier as his wife. He was older [about 40]. But I refused and I was beaten,” says Patricia, now 17, sitting under a mango tree at her parents’ home.

“I resisted for two weeks. But one night this man came and grabbed me. I tried to fight and wrestle with him. But he was strong and overpowered me. I tried making noise and alarm, but nobody came to my rescue.”

Her sister sat helplessly as Patricia was raped. After that, the rapes continued almost daily.

On 7 February 2018, her ordeal at the hands of the rebel soldiers came to an end. She was released in Yambio as part of the deal reached by authorities in Juba and the rebel group. When she went home, she was four months pregnant.

The number of children used in armed conflict worldwide has more than doubled since 2012, with a 159% rise and almost 30,000 children recruited, according to Child Soldiers International.

As a child soldier, Patricia was entitled to receive emotional, physical and practical support from UN and child protection agencies.

But almost 18 months on, she’s still struggling to come to terms with the trauma of what happened to her, and finding it hard to earn money to support herself and her one-year-old son.

“I keep having flashbacks. At times I feel so bad and frustrated. I isolate myself from people,” says Patricia. “It’s mum who tries to counsel and advise me to forget about the past and move on. But it’s difficult. I need medication to help me.”

Since fighting broke out in South Sudan in December 2013, more than 19,000 children are understood to have been “recruited” by armed forces and groups, according to a briefing published by the UN children’s fund, Unicef, in March.

Children can be used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers and spies. Girls are often subjected to sexual violence. Recruiting children under 15 constitutes a war crime, although despite an international focus on ending impunity, very few war crimes are investigated.

Since February last year, 360 girls and 610 boys have been released in Yambio through the National Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration Commission (DDR), in partnership with Unicef and the UN mission in South Sudan. More than 3,000 children have been released in other states.

When she was demobbed, Patricia, like other child combatants, received a reintegration package including clothes, bed sheets, shoes, three months of food rations and other basic items. She was assessed by staff at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and has been assigned a social worker. It is hoped that with the support of the social worker and her family, Patricia will be able to move on with her life.

“Patricia sometimes talks to her mother about her past, which is one of the best support circles for psychosocial support wellbeing. She is responsive and developing her relationship with her sister which is also a good sign,” says Vanessa Saraiva, World Vision senior adviser in South Sudan.

“Over time, these [counselling] sessions will enable Patricia to process what has happened, heal from those experiences and build a resilience to move on in normality,” says Saraiva.

“Community support is also crucial, especially in helping children reintegrate back into their own communities and their families,” she says.

At least 752 former child soldiers in Yambio have received psychosocial support and case management services through World Vision. In addition, 200 have graduated from vocational skills training, 80 have been given support to start small businesses, and 60 have been given the resources they need to work in agriculture through the charity, which is campaigning for more UK aid money to be spent on protecting children in crises.

However, Luciano Damian Canchelara, an MSF mental health activity manager, based in Yambio, says this is not enough. “Organisations are providing some services but in some cases this is not enough, and the children still struggle a lot.”

Jean Lieby, chief of child protection for Unicef in South Sudan, said fear and stigma sometimes mean girls and women miss out on getting the full support they need.

“Girls are given special attention, and offered counselling following the screening. It is, however, recognised as a problem, in certain areas, to identify girls leaving the armed forces and groups, because they do not want the stigma of being identified,” said Lieby.

“Girls, therefore, often return to the community by themselves and do not come forward to be identified for assistance.”

According to UN guidelines, demobbed girls should be offered vocational training “in all types of occupations, including those traditionally limited to men and boys”. Such support should be boosted with resources to help improve girls’ education.

Patricia says she doesn’t feel she has received adequate support to cope with her experiences and to deal with life back home with a baby.

“I feel frustrated. I find it hard to take care of myself and the baby. I have to do casual work to get money. I have to do farming to get money for food, treatment and buying baby clothes.

“I have no one to assist me. My parents are poor. They can’t support me and the baby adequately. I need help,” she says. “Before I was kidnapped I had friends. But when I returned from captivity nobody wanted to be close to me.”

Despite returning home last year, Patricia had to wait until July before she could enrol on a six-month sewing course that could help her earn a living as a tailor. After she finishes the training, she will be given a start-up kit so she can start her own business.

“I can’t manage to go back to school. But I want to support my sister with her education. If she studies, she will help our parents who didn’t go to school,” she says.

* Names have been changed to protect identities

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« Reply #3339 on: Aug 22, 2019, 04:10 AM »

Jair Bolsonaro claims NGOs behind Amazon forest fire surge – but provides no evidence

Brazilian president claims green groups behind blazes, which have increased 84% over same period last year

Jonathan Watts
22 Aug 2019 18.11 BST

The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has accused environmental groups of setting fires in the Amazon as he tries to deflect growing international criticism of his failure to protect the world’s biggest rainforest.

A surge of fires in several Amazonian states this month followed reports that farmers were feeling emboldened to clear land for crop fields and cattle ranches because the new Brazilian government was keen to open up the region to economic activity.

Brazil has had more than 72,000 fire outbreaks so far this year, an 84% increase on the same period in 2018, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research. More than half of them were in the Amazon.

There was a sharp spike in deforestation during July, which has been followed by extensive burning in August. Local newspapers say farmers in some regions are organising “fire days” to take advantage of weaker enforcement by the authorities.

Since Bolsonaro took power the environment agency has issued fewer penalties, and ministers have made clear that their sympathies are with loggers rather than the indigenous groups who live in the forest. The head of Brazil’s space agency was fired last month after the president disputed the official deforestation data from satellites.

An international outcry has prompted Norway and Germany to halt donations to Brazil’s Amazon fund, which supports many environmental NGOs as well as government agencies. There have also been calls for Europe to block a trade deal with Brazil and other South American nations.

Bolsonaro suggested the fires were started by environmental NGOs to embarrass his government.

“On the question of burning in the Amazon, which in my opinion may have been initiated by NGOs because they lost money, what is the intention? To bring problems to Brazil,” the president told a steel industry congress in Brasilia.

He made a similar allegation earlier in the day when he suggested groups had gone out with cameras and started fires so they could film them. Asked whether he had evidence, or whether he could name the NGOs involved, Bolsonaro said there were no written records and it was just his feeling.

Environmental activists said his comments were an absurd attempt to deflect attention from the problem of poor oversight and tacit encouragement of illegal forest clearance. “Those who destroy the Amazon and let deforestation continue unabated are encouraged by the Bolsonaro government’s actions and policies. Since taking office, the current government has been systematically dismantling Brazil’s environmental policy,” said Danicley Aguiar, of Greenpeace Brazil.

In Brazil’s Amazonas state, heat from forest fires has been above average every day this month, according to data provided to the Guardian by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. On the peak day, 15 August, the energy released into the atmosphere from this state was about 700% higher than the average for this date over the previous 15 years. The story was similar in Rondônia state, where there have been 10 days this month where fire heat has been more than double the average for the time of year.

It is unclear which fires have been deliberately set by farmers to clear land and which were accidental or natural. The problem is not restricted to Brazil. Neighbouring Bolivia is also experiencing unusually large wildfires that have reportedly destroyed 5,180 sq km (2,000 sq miles) of forest. Video from the country’s Santa Cruz department shows monkeys and other animals scurrying in search of shelter amid a landscape reduced to blackened stumps, bare branches and ashes. Copernicus satellite images show it was primarily a fire in Bolivia that led to the darkening of the skies during the day on Monday in São Paulo, thousands of miles away.


Brazil’s Bolsonaro denounced as ‘sick’ and ‘pathetic’ for blaming Amazon forest fires on NGOs

on August 22, 2019
By Common Dreams

The Amazon rain forest—the lungs of the world—have been on fire for several weeks, and Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro suggested Wednesday, without evidence, that the fires were started by non-governmental organizations.

“Maybe—I am not affirming it—these [NGO people] are carrying out some criminal actions to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil,” Bolsonaro said in a video posted on his Facebook account, The Associated Press reported. “This is the war we are facing.”

“The fires were lit in strategic places,” said Bolsonaro. “All the indications suggest they went there to film and start fires. That’s what I feel.”
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Greenpeace Brazil shot back, with its public policy coordinator Marcio Astrini calling the president’s statement “sick” and “pitiful.”

“Increased deforestation and burning,” said Astrini, “are the result of his anti-environmental policy.”

In a video that’s gone viral, a Pataxó woman expressed anguish as she pointed to the destruction the fires have brought, which she blamed on deforestation for cattle ranching—a practice Bolsonaro has actively encouraged. The video was shared by the U.S. based Sunrise Movement, which said in a tweet: “We cannot tolerate political agendas of deforestation. We will not watch our future burn away.”

While the country has been experiencing “epochal deforestation” driven by agriculture—and with it, trampling of indigenous rights—the deforestation has gone into overdrive since Bolsonaro’s election. The development prompted Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg earlier this summer to say, “We are literally sawing off the branch we all live on.”

The extent of the deforestation was recently laid out by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). Data released by the agency showed that deforestation in June was 88 percent higher than it was in June of last year. Bolsonaro responded by calling the data a “lie” and firing the agency’s head.

INPE also said Tuesday that the country had already seen over 72,000 fires this year, which marks an unprecedented high. Roughly half the fires, the agency said, have been in the Amazon .

“The fire that we’re seeing today is a fire that’s directly related to deforestation,” Ane Alencar, scientific director of Institute of Environmental Research in Amazonia, said Tuesday.

Despite the raging fires—which can be seen from space—the administration appears to be doubling down on climate destruction, prompting the vocal ire of environmental campaigners.

Brazil’s environmental minister was in Salvador in the state of Bahia on Wednesday for the Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week and was greeted by loud boos.

As he took the stage, activists held signs reading “Amazonia in flames” and “Against environmental deforestation.”

The activists, said 350.org, stood up “for what is right,” and urged “him to take action to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

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« Reply #3340 on: Aug 22, 2019, 04:14 AM »

‘We won’t give an inch’: India faces defiance in ‘Kashmir’s Gaza’

on August 22, 2019
By Agence France-Presse

Young men sit beside a pile of rocks and a bonfire, protecting the only entrance to a besieged neighbourhood they call “Kashmir’s Gaza” as a mosque loudspeaker broadcasts slogans of liberation.

In an act of defiance against New Delhi’s controversial decision to strip the Muslim-majority region of its autonomy, Soura neighbourhood on the outskirts of Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar has sealed itself off from security forces.

Since early August, residents have erected ramshackle barricades of tin sheets, wooden logs, oil tanks and concrete pillars, and dug trenches to keep soldiers at bay amid daily protests against India.

“They can only enter Soura over our bodies. We won’t give even an inch of land to India,” Mufeed, a resident who volunteers to guard the neighbourhood at night, told AFP.

“Just like Gaza is resisting Israel, we will fight for our motherland with all our might,” Mufeed added.

Kashmir has waged a three-decade long armed rebellion against Indian rule with tens of thousands of lives, mostly civilians, lost in the conflict.

Ahead of the announcement, India rushed tens of thousands of extra troops to the restive region to join 500,000 already in the valley, and imposed a strict clampdown fearing further unrest.

But protests have broken out, with the lower-middle class Soura leading the way. At least 15,000 people rallied on August 9 — the biggest demonstration in Kashmir so far.

They were met by security forces firing live ammunition, tear gas and pellet guns to disperse the crowds, with more than two dozen people reportedly injured.

– ‘Go India, go back’ –

Soura, a crammed lakeside community of more than 2,000 homes, is surrounded by security forces on three sides.

The renowned mosque Jenab Saeb has become an assembly point for thousands of protesters in the neighbourhood.

Every night, residents march through its narrow lanes, carrying torches and passing graffiti with the words “Freedom for Kashmir” and “Go India, go back”.

Locals pass along messages if they spot any police movement on the main highway just beyond Soura.

Police forces, who have deployed drones and helicopters, tried to enter Soura at least three times but were pushed back by stone-throwing youth, some also armed with axes and harpoons.

Familiar with police’s crowd-dispersing tactics, protesters use saltwater to wash their faces after chilli and tear gas are fired, and wear helmets and glasses to protect themselves against pellets.

Three youths have so far been arrested after venturing out from the area.

“They (India) are testing our resilience and they will definitely fail,” local Nahida told AFP.

“We defeated them last time and even if this situation continues for years, we won’t give-in.”

Despite the Soura protests, authorities stress that Kashmir has remained largely peaceful since the lockdown.

– ‘Making amends’ –

Soura has long been part of restive Kashmir’s history since the region was divided between India and Pakistan after independence from the British in 1947.

It was the birthplace of Kashmir’s former prime minister Sheikh Abdullah, who agreed to join India as a state with autonomy rights.

His National Conference party — which has fought for more autonomy while being under Indian rule — ran the state for more than three decades, with his son Farooq Abdullah and grandson Omar Abdullah becoming chief ministers.

Farooq and Omar Abdullah were detained by New Delhi as part of the lockdown.

Residents have become more anti-India in recent years. In 2016 when mass street protests broke out over the death of a popular militant commander, Soura was the scene of dozens of clashes with government forces.

Soura resident Rafiq Mansoor Shah said many locals shared his misgivings about Abdullah’s decision to accede to India.

Under the new arrangements announced this month, Indians from other parts of the vast nation can now apply for government jobs and buy property in Kashmir. But many Soura natives like Shah believe New Delhi has “nefarious plans to grab our land”.

“Because of (the Abdullah family’s) greed for power… we have become slaves of India. We are trying to correct the historical mistake,” he told AFP.

“We are trying to lead and inspire the rest of Kashmir.”

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« Reply #3341 on: Aug 22, 2019, 04:15 AM »

Stalemate in Algeria six months after start of protests that ousted leader

Demonstrators say they will persist until military-backed government is replaced by civilian democracy

Ruth Michaelson
Thu 22 Aug 2019 09.54 BST

Six months after a wave of protests began in Algeria, people are still demonstrating and the military-backed government appears determined to keep its grip on power.

The demonstrations have gained a familiar rhythm since tens of thousands of Algerians first took to the streets on 22 February. Thousands of students turn out on Tuesdays and there are larger protests each Friday.

“We didn’t come to negotiate, we came to kick you out,” read one placard brandished last Friday. On Tuesday this week the number of demonstrators swelled as older Algerians joined students in the heat, defiant in the face of government efforts to curb the protests by closing off areas of the capital and introducing new rules for demonstrations.

The movement that unseated the former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika is now locked in a stalemate with a regime bent on showing it can keep the upper hand and outlast the protests.

Weeks of mass demonstrations forced the 82-year-old Bouteflika to resign in April, and the protesters pressured the authorities to cancel presidential elections originally scheduled for 4 July.

Since then, the opaque coalition of political and military figures considered the country’s true power, known as le pouvoir, has been reluctant to make any further concessions.

The interim president, Abdelkader Bensalah, remains in power alongside the all-powerful army chief, Ahmed Gaïd Salah, while protesters say they will persist until the military-backed government is replaced by a civilian democracy. No new elections are scheduled.

Nourhane Atmani, 20, a student protester, said: “If you look at the bigger picture there’s no government any more, there’s the military and the people. Many members of the government were arrested and are now on trial. This is their way of trying to keep the peace, the same way that we’re trying to keep the peace.”

Two former prime ministers, Ahmed Ouyahia and Abdelmalek Sellal, have been arrested along with several former MPs. They are being held in prison awaiting trial.

Meanwhile, the Algerian authorities have fought minor battles to prove they still have the upper hand. Eighteen protesters were arrested and put on trial in July accused of “undermining national unity” for waving the flag of the country’s marginalised Berber minority at protests.

This month the government briefly blocked access to YouTube and Google after the former defence minister released a video calling on the army to “realise the demands of the people” and relinquish power. Officials have also deported a researcher from Human Rights Watch.

In the late spring Salah led what he labelled an anti-corruption drive, sparking fears he was settling scores. Several key businesspeople were arrested as well as Bouteflika’s brother Saïd and two former spy chiefs, whom Salah accused of plotting against the army.

Salah is unpopular but is also the kingmaker. “There are few signs he wants to run the daily life of the country. He wants a president who is halfway accepted, and there’s a certain urgency to get to elections,” said Isabelle Werenfels, an analyst with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. “The question is whether he’ll manage to get to elections without making major concessions.”

Chants against the military chief, the interim prime minister, Noureddine Bedoui, and a new six-member dialogue panel put forward by the government fill the streets each week. Much of the anger is now focused on the panel, intended to oversee negotiations between the government and the protesters with the aim of organising elections.

“The members of the discussion panel are all traitors, rejected by the people and by the protesters themselves,” said Abdelhalim Aghrid, 51, who joined a student protest on Tuesday. “This panel isn’t recognised by the people, it’s a committee that was brought by the government to destroy the protests.”

Returns from summer breaks could lead to more civil disobedience and disruption. The unrest risks further unsettling the country’s shaky economy.

“September will be more decisive,” said Soufiane Djilali, the head of Jil Jadid, an opposition party. “Either one side will resort to violence or we will manage to have an election that takes place peacefully.”

He noted that the protest movement was divided, with some demanding bigger changes before an election take place and others seeking the election of a caretaker president to usher in a period of reform.

Werenfels said: “The question is: who will time serve? It can go both ways.”

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« Reply #3342 on: Aug 22, 2019, 04:34 AM »

'I am the Chosen One': with boasts and insults, Trump sets new benchmark for incoherence

President outdoes himself in new press conference as he attacks the Danish prime minister, Jewish Democrats and the press

Tom McCarthy
22 Aug 2019 21.26 BST

Donald Trump started off precisely on-message.

Strolling to the end of a White House driveway on Wednesday ahead of his departure for a veterans event in Kentucky, the president began speaking while still walking toward a crowd of waiting reporters. “So the economy is doing very, very well,” he said.

With fears of a recession stirring and public confidence in the health of the economy dropping for the first time in Trump’s presidency, it was a sound message to project to a skittish nation. But that was as good as it got.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT5SqRE-wVk

What followed might have swept away all previous Trumpian benchmarks for incoherence, self-aggrandizement, prevarication and rancor in a presidency that has seemed before to veer loosely along the rails of reason but may never have come quite so close to spectacularly jumping the tracks.

Over an ensuing half-hour rant, Trump trucked in antisemitic tropes, insulted the Danish prime minister, insisted he wasn’t racist, bragged about the performance of his former Apprentice reality show, denied starting a trade war with China, praised Vladimir Putin and told reporters that he, Trump, was the “Chosen One” – all within hours of referring to himself as the “King of Israel” and tweeting in all caps: “WHERE IS THE FEDERAL RESERVE?”

Leaving aside those who were left merely gape-jawed, the performance inspired reactions from new expressions of doubt about Trump’s fitness for office to evocations of “the last president I know of who compared himself to the Messiah”.

(That turns out, according to Brookings Institution fellow Benjamin Wittes, to be Andrew Johnson (1865-9), whose articles of impeachment cited his “intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues”.)

After the news conference, the hashtag #25thAmendmentNow was the top trending item on US Twitter, referring to a constitutional proviso by which cabinet members and the vice-president can band together to remove a president deemed unfit.

Soon after the ill-fated driveway news conference got under way, Trump faced a question about his decision to cancel a meeting with Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen, who had rejected a proposal floated by the Trump administration to purchase Greenland as “absurd”.

Calling Frederiksen “nasty” – his preferred insult for women in politics – Trump described his wounded pride at the way his offer had been rejected.

“I thought it was a very not nice way of saying something,” Trump said. “Don’t say ‘What an absurd idea that is’… You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me.

“I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off.”

As Trump continued his attack on Denmark on Twitter from aboard his airplane, the world below struggled with the rest of the wild, wild things he had just said, including an attack on another group: Jews who vote for Democrats.

In response to a news conference Monday by Democratic Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib criticizing their exclusion from Israel, Trump had questioned the “loyalty” of Jews who support Democratic politicians. Accusations of “dual loyalty” have been used in the past in an attempt to undermine and marginalize Jews living outside Israel.

Asked about the “loyalty” charge Wednesday, Trump said: “I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel,” mentioning the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem and his opposition to Iran.

“I will tell you this, in my opinion, the Democrats have gone very far away from Israel,” Trump continued. “In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people, and you’re being very disloyal to Israel. And only weak people would say anything other than that.”

Trump ignored a shouted question about whether Jews in the United States have a right to be simply American – but Trump denied he was employing an antisemitic trope.

“I haven’t heard anybody say that, just the opposite,” Trump said.

Trump then embarked on an increasingly breakneck tour through the hills and valleys of a personal political landscape whose map, if it existed, was private to him, although his route was provisionally signposted by questions shouted by the media.

“We wiped out the Caliphate, 100%, I did it in record time,” he said of the fight against Isis.

“I am the least racist person ever to serve in office, OK? I am the least racist person,” he opined.

And, of course, his journey included a visit to his old favorite stomping ground: reality TV.

“I made a lot of money for NBC with The Apprentice, and I used to like them, but they are so biased,” he said. “You are so obviously biased and that’s why the public doesn’t believe you.”

His dislike for the media was on familiar display.

“The fake news, of which many of you are members, are trying to convince the public to have a recession,” he said. “‘Let’s have a recession!’”

But then – as he discussed his trade war with China – came a new twist as Trump bestowed himself with a new title certain to launch a million Twitter memes.

“This is a trade war that should have taken place years ago… somebody had to do it. I am the Chosen One.”

That last line echoed a tweet the president had sent earlier in the day, in which Trump quoted the conspiracist Wayne Allyn Root, who in the past has said that violence including the murder of a peace activist at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was “probably paid actors & infiltrators hired by Soros”.

“The Jewish people in Israel love him,” Trump quoted Root as saying on Wednesday, “like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God.”

His putative status as the reincarnated Christian savior was not among the many topics Trump touched on Wednesday. At the end of the news conference, Trump walked toward his helicopter and headed for Kentucky.


Trump is either descending into madness — or intentionally undermining American national security

on August 22, 2019
By Joe Conason, AlterNet
- Commentary

Whenever Donald Trump says or tweets a remark that embarrasses our country before the world, conventional analysis suggests that it is yet another consequence of his infantile narcissism. So we were told again when the president of the United States insulted Denmark, one of the founding nations of NATO and a dedicated American ally, by canceling his scheduled trip to meet with the Danish prime minister — supposedly because she had deemed his scheme to buy Greenland “absurd,” which, of course, it is.

He originally requested to visit Denmark, which made his abrupt, petulant cancelation all the more insulting to the Danes. The usual anonymous sources explained that he had other reasons to break the date, such as his aversion to flying overseas and his aversion to Barack Obama, who is also scheduled to visit Denmark next month.

When Trump appears to lose control — and follows up by suggesting that he is “the chosen one” or “the King of Israel” — it seems natural to worry that he is mentally ill. That is one way to interpret his behavior.

But it isn’t the only explanation.

We consider Trump’s behavior bizarre because it is so incongruous with what we expect from an American president — whose sworn duty, after all, is to act in the national interest. But what if he is consciously acting against the national interest? That disturbing question arises again and again, as it did during the Russia collusion investigation, because almost everything Trump does can be viewed as inimical to the nation. The Danish incident is only the latest example in the long list that shows a certain method to his supposed “madness.”

In one way or another, Trump has denigrated or undermined American relationships with nearly all of our traditional allies, sometimes repeatedly. He has complained publicly about the French, the Germans, the British and the Australians, to name a few of the most important, and slammed the European Union as a trading and military partner. Indeed, he has strenuously sought to destroy the EU while befriending the so-called populist far right — the heirs of our fascist enemy. That approach to European affairs just happens to coincide perfectly with the political aims of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, Trump has abandoned longstanding U.S. policy on human rights, not only committing violations on our border but also encouraging dictators around the world. Within the space of a few days this year, he berated the Canadian prime minister, our friend and ally, while praising the murderous dictator of North Korea. Maybe that was just crazy, or maybe it was something else.

At home, Trump never stops promoting the same divisive themes that pollute our political system, courtesy of the Russian bots sent by his friend Vladimir Putin. For some reason, Trump won’t allow anyone to record his meetings with Putin. Perhaps he doesn’t want anyone to hear the Russian dictator expressing appreciation for his long campaign to undermine the FBI counterintelligence division, which exists to thwart Kremlin espionage. But then, Trump has sought to discredit and disorganize the entire intelligence apparatus of the United States, most recently with his attempted appointment of a lunatic congressman from Texas as the director of national intelligence. Putin must also be quite grateful for Trump’s systematic effort to destroy American diplomatic capacity, by appointing non-entities to run the State Department while leaving half of its posts unfilled.

Like the trade war that is decimating our agricultural sector — among the most vital sectors of the U.S. economy — these recurring acts of sabotage are cited by his supporters as evidence of his “nationalism.” They are nothing of the kind. They are inflicting damage that our most determined enemies could never have dreamed possible before he entered the Oval Office.

You can tell yourself it’s all merely proof of his mental instability, his narcissistic compulsions, his ignorance and his stupidity. Or you can wonder, as I sometimes do, whether something rational and sinister lies behind this troubling pattern.

Either way, Trump is a clear and present danger to our republic.


‘He’s empty’: Psychiatrist warns Trump is in a ‘psychotic-like state’

Raw Story

Dr. Lance Dodes warned that things were going to get worse under President Donald Trump in 2017. That’s precisely what happened.

“Is that what we’re seeing this week?” MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell ased the psychiatrist.

“Absolutely. Donald Trump, because he has a fundamental need to be all-powerful and all loved, can’t stand challenges,” Dr. Dodes said. “And the nature of democracy is that it challenges people. We have more than one opinion. So the more — it was predictable once he got into a position where people would challenge him, there are two parties, he would become more unhinged.

Wednesday’s press availability on the White House South Lawn showed exactly that, he explained.

“As you watched him respond to people, the more they challenged him, the more he ranted,” Dr. Dodes continued. “He stopped responding to the questions, and instead, he started to talk about how people were agents of fake news. He said that they would go out of business soon. They would die…This is the same kind of thing that he did when he was a candidate when he suggested someone protesting at his campaign rally be taken out and beaten up.”

The psychiatrist explained that Trump can’t handle when people disagree with him.

“The more he is challenged, the more un He can’t stand anything that disagrees with him, and the more you challenge him, the more unhinged he becomes, the more paranoid, and the more violent, potentially,” he said.

O’Donnell asked about the strange relationship between the president and Kim Jong Un, who the president has said he’s fallen in love with.

“He doesn’t really love anyone except himself,” Dr. Dodes explained. “That’s not a slur, that’s a psychological fact. People like him are about him. And we see this not only with the North Korean leader but with all the people he surrounded himself for most of his life who are now recognized as criminals. As long as they stay loyal to him, he loves them. As soon as they challenge him, as soon as they disagree, then they’re terrible people.”

That situation is playing out with former top aide Anthony Scaramucci, who spoke glowingly about Trump for years and even published a book about the great work he’d done. Yet, the moment Scaramucci challenged something Trump said, the honeymoon was over.

“He never loved him, he only used him,” Dr. Dodes said about Kim, though it could have been applied to anyone Trump has had a falling out with. “If he’s not useful to him, he stops loving him. That’s part of the essential emptiness of Donald Trump. He doesn’t have real relationships with people. Maybe his personal family, we don’t know about that. But you can see that he discards anyone who doesn’t fit his personal needs, which makes him unable to really relate to our allies as well as our enemies.”

When it comes to Trump’s look toward the heavens as he bragged about being “the chosen one,” Dr. Dodes explained it was just another example of grandiosity and that there are many people in public life that have a grandiose sense of self.

“Donald Trump goes way beyond that,” he explained. “There is a fundamental way in which he’s empty. There’s something fundamentally different about him from normal people. It’s a psychotic-like state. The more you press him, the more you see how disorganized and empty he is. The more he flies into a disorganized rage. So yeah, and by the way, in terms of being God, he also made several what you might call Freudian slips during the interview today. He kept mixing up who he was and who the country was. He said, ‘I have the best economy.’ I, not the country. ‘I defeated the caliphate.’ It’s not just a slip of the tongue; he really doesn’t get it. He thinks of himself as a dictator, and it’s all him and no one else really matters.”


When things aren’t going well — Trump promotes his superiority ‘as a near deity’: Trump biographer

Raw Story

A panel discussion with CNN host Don Lemon chuckled at the idea that President Donald Trump likely practiced in the mirror talking about himself as “the chosen one.”

Michael D’Antonio, author of The Truth About Trump, explained that Trump’s most significant “tell” that he’s lying is when he gestures wildly.

“Whenever the president gestures wildly, the more he gestures, the more you know that he’s lying and that he’s trying to sell you something,” the Trump biographer said. “So all day long today he was gesturing wildly. He was looking up to the lord. He was using his hands in an extreme manner. And that’s his tell. That means that he’s manipulating us and lying.”

Along with concerning body language, Trump gestured toward the heavens and called himself “the chosen one.”

“Well, it is another level,” D’Antonio said about Trump’s breakdown. “But I think this is the secret voice that’s inside of him. He does think of himself as a near deity. He imagines he’s a very stable genius. When things are tough for him, he actually retrenches to this automatic pressing of his superiority, his dominance over the news cycle in this case. You know, he got up this morning, and I think he decided he was going to be talked about all day long by just about everybody, and it turns out that he was talked about all day long by just about everybody.”

“How many times do you think he practiced that?” Lemon asked.

“Oh, I think, you know, first he had to write the line ‘I’m the chosen one,’ and then he had to practice it,” D’Antonio laughed. “He probably had Ivanka come in and critique and tell him how it looked. She said, ‘It looks terrific, Daddy.’ This is absurd. To quote the prime minister of Denmark, this is absurd. This is an absurd man. ”

He explained that he thinks Trump is more about making a play for his evangelical base. That base, D’Antonio explained, has “fetishized Israel,” which is necessary to bring about the apocalypse that right-wing evangelicals want.

“He was making a play for the evangelical base, which has fetishized Israel and has done a complete 180 from — regarding Israel — to necessary as armageddon and planning on them being wiped out in the war that will end civilization, to embracing Israel, and saying we’re also like the Jews,” D’Antonio went on. “‘We evangelicals are like the Jews, and we’re with you.’ And the last thing that I think is really notable.”


Eugene Robinson stunned by Trump’s rant: No ‘responsible’ world leader can trust a self-proclaimed ‘chosen one’

Raw Story

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson on Wednesday reacted to President Donald Trump’s assertion that he is “the chosen one.”

Trump made the remarks while taking questions on the White House lawn on Wednesday. The president suggested that he is “the chosen one” to take on China because he was elected by the American people.

Robinson suggested that Trump had undermined his own negotiating position.

“You get to the point where he looks at the sky and says I’m the chosen one,” Robinson said following Trump’s remarks. “You get to that point and you cannot — I don’t see how any responsible leader could say this is a guy I could count on.”

“I thought maybe he was being humorous,” columnist Susan Page said of Trump. “But he looks serious there. He doesn’t look like he’s being witty or ironic.”


Trump isn’t the first president to compare himself to Jesus — the last one who did ‘planned to lead his white supremacist supporters to victory’

Raw Story

President Donald Trump on Wednesday stunned many observers when he approvingly quoted a right-wing talk radio host who compared the president to the “second coming of God.”

According to historian Heather Cox Richardson, however, this is not the first time an American president has compared himself to Jesus, whom Christians believe was the son of God.

Writing on Twitter, Richardson explained that the “last president to compare himself to Jesus was Andrew Johnson, before the 1866 midterms.”

She then wrote that Johnson at the time “planned to lead his white supremacist supporters to victory to roll back Reconstruction.”

However, Johnson’s plans fell apart after the elections as “those who stood against him won a supermajority” and then passed the 14th Amendment that established, among other things, birthright citizenship.

    Last president to compare himself to Jesus was Andrew Johnson, before the 1866 midterms. He planned to lead his white supremacist supporters to victory to roll back Reconstruction.

    Those who stood against him won a supermajority… and that’s how we got the 14th Amendment.

    — Heather Cox Richardson (TDPR) (@HC_Richardson) August 21, 2019

Johnson was also subsequently impeached in 1868, although he was not convicted in the Senate.


Trump, amid claims of anti-Semitism, invoked Henry Ford. Hitler called the automaker his ‘inspiration.’

By Allyson Chiu
August 22 2019
WA Post

President Trump, who recently embraced the title of “King of Israel,” has been repeatedly accused of promoting anti-Semitic tropes this week for his assertions that Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats are “disloyal.”

On Wednesday night, just hours after Trump dismissed the criticisms and shared quotes from a conspiracy theorist claiming that Israeli Jews “love him like he is the second coming of God,” the president appeared to depart from the ongoing debate by firing off several tweets about the auto industry. But critics quickly noted that two of those missives positively referenced “legendary” American automaker Henry Ford, who was once regarded by Adolf Hitler as his “inspiration” and is arguably the most notorious anti-Semite in modern U.S. history.

“Today is really not the best day for Trump to be taking the side of Henry Ford,” Dan McLaughlin, a contributing columnist at National Review Online, tweeted.

    Today is really not the best day for Trump to be taking the side of Henry Ford. https://t.co/XOBnuqTiy0
    — Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) August 21, 2019

[Trump says that Jewish people who vote for Democrats are ‘very disloyal to Israel,’ denies his remarks are anti-Semitic]

The White House did not respond to questions early Thursday about whether Trump was aware of Ford’s bigoted views, which have been described as “the most controversial and least admirable aspect” of a career that included founding the Ford Motor Company, pioneering assembly-line production and creating the Model T.

“He really has a very dark history as far as the Jewish community and Jews are concerned,” said one Jewish leader in Florida in a 2014 Religion News Service article.

Ordinarily, name-dropping Ford when discussing cars might not draw attention, but Trump did it as he weathered backlash from Jewish leaders and organizations over his earlier comments calling Jewish people “disloyal” because of their politics. Critics argued that Trump had echoed a historic anti-Semitic stereotype that Jews have “dual loyalty,” The Washington Post’s Felicia Sonmez reported.

“American Jews — like all Americans — have a range of political views and policy priorities,” David Harris, chief executive of the nonpartisan American Jewish Committee, said in a statement. “His assessment of their knowledge or ‘loyalty,’ based on their party preference, is inappropriate, unwelcome, and downright dangerous.”

In that context, some critics drew a direct line from Wednesday’s tweets to Ford’s dark ties to anti-Semitism.

Between 1910 and 1918, Ford became “increasingly anti-immigrant, anti-labor, anti-liquor and anti-Semitic,” according to the Jewish Virtual Library. He believed “the bankers” and “the Jews” were responsible for not only wars but also the rise of other things he disapproved of such as short skirts and jazz music, the Henry Ford Museum wrote.

Ford’s antipathy toward Jews became public knowledge soon after he purchased a newspaper published in Dearborn, Mich., where his company was headquartered. In May 1920, the Dearborn Independent, which “primarily served as a forum for Henry Ford’s views,” launched an anti-Jewish series titled “The International Jew: The World’s Problem” that continued for several years, according the museum. The articles were later compiled into a book and sought to bring attention to a conspiracy theory that Jews were plotting to take over the world.

At one point, the newspaper also printed “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a book already widely discredited as fake by that time and later dubbed “the worst piece of anti-Semitic propaganda generated in the 20th century.”

It wasn’t long before Ford and the Independent started to receive worldwide recognition, even catching Hitler’s attention. By the mid-1920s, the newspaper had reached a circulation of 900,000. Ford is the only American mentioned by name in “Mein Kampf,” the German leader’s autobiographical manifesto, according to Religion News Service. In his writings, Hitler called Ford a “great man.”

“You can tell Herr Ford that I am a great admirer of his,” Hitler once reportedly said. “I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany.”

A portrait of Ford hung in Hitler’s Munich office, the New York Times reported in 1922. A table in the antechamber was also covered with translated copies of a book written and published by Ford. When a Detroit News reporter asked Hitler about the painting, he responded, “I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration,” the Dearborn Historian reported.

Ford later apologized and blamed some of the anti-Semitic propaganda on his employees. He shuttered the Independent, but continued to support the Nazi Party and advocated for America to stay out of what would become World War II, The Washington Post’s Michael Dobbs reported. In July 1938, Ford received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest honor Nazi Germany could bestow on a foreigner.

Many recalled that history when criticizing Trump’s tweets on Wednesday.

“Henry Ford was a Nazi sympathizer who wrote a publication called ‘The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem,’" tweeted Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, a liberal organization advocating for social justice causes. “He directly inspired Hitler Youth & said Jews provoke mass violence.”

The tweet continued: “Unsurprising that a man who calls Jews disloyal invokes him. You’re both anti-Semites.”

    "The Jew... is the very foundation of the world's greatest curse today -- war. He is the cause of all the abnormalities in our daily life because he is the money maniac."

    Henry Ford, a man Trump decides to reference the same day he claimed to be the king of Israel. https://t.co/hm74PNcRoL
    — Elad Nehorai (@PopChassid) August 22, 2019

Another critic slammed Ford as a “fascist,” adding in a message directed to Trump, “No surprise you laud him. ”

    In the past 24 hours Donald Trump has declared himself the King of Israel, said that Jews are “disloyal,” and invoked infamous antisemite Henry Ford.

    Trump only got 24% of the Jewish vote last time. Maybe this time he’s aiming for zero.
    — Palmer Report (@PalmerReport) August 21, 2019

    Glad we could start the business hours day with Trump basically calling himself the King of the Jews and close it with Henry Ford, famous anti-Semite, rolling over in his grave about consumer prices
    — Katherine Miller (@katherinemiller) August 21, 2019


How Trump’s limited intellectual development has given him a ‘God complex’

on August 22, 2019
By Chauncey Devega, Salon
- Commentary

Trump’s lack of respect for the country’s long-standing democratic norms and institutions also extends to America’s alliances, security arrangements with its allies and friends, and the international order more broadly. To that end  Trump has threatened to remove the U.S. from NATO, hailed the merits of nationalism (while barely pretending that does not mean white nationalism), tried to surrender U.S. security to Russian President Vladimir Putin and proclaimed on numerous occasions that America will now stand (mostly) alone in the world.

This story first ran at Salon in November of 2018.

Donald Trump is also a habitual liar who is at war with the truth and empirical reality. For Trump the world (and reality) must be bent to his will. His supporters love him because of all these traits and behaviors, not despite them. Their adoration for Trump is almost libidinal.

Donald Trump is an authoritarian in waiting, who acts as though he believes himself to be God. How does he convince himself that the rules do not apply to him? What is the role of violence in Trump’s appeal and power? Is Trump responsible in some ways for the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and the other hate crimes and acts of violence which have taken place during his campaign and now presidency? What role does violence play in Donald Trump’s cult of personality? How do his apparent mental pathologies help him to manipulate his supporters and the American people at large?

In an effort to answer these questions I recently spoke with Dr. Justin Frank. This is our second conversation for Salon. He is a former clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center and a physician with more than 40 years of experience in psychoanalysis. He is the author of the bestselling books “Bush on the Couch” and “Obama on the Couch.” His most recent book is “Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.”

Our conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

In the last few weeks America has seen an outbreak of high-profile violence and tragedy. There was the apparent hate crime killing of two black people in Louisville, the “MAGAbomber,” who attempted to assassinate numerous prominent Democrats, and then the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre. Donald Trump repeatedly failed to respond to those events with any kind of human empathy or decency. How do we explain this behavior?

Trump is unable to manage anxiety. Therefore, he cannot help the American people manage their anxiety. Trump’s pathology leads him to get rid of everything that makes him anxious. He impulsively encourages violence. He impulsively is divisive. Donald Trump impulsively externalizes his own fear of his inner chaos — he has had to struggle against this fear ever since he was two years old. Here is another problem: One of the roles of a president or other leader is to function as a lawgiver figure, a type of parental figure for a society. In that way presidents and other leaders function as a superego figure.

They set the tone for behavior, for morality, for right and wrong. What Trump has done is he has given the superego permission to become violent. He has sanctioned such violence, which is very disturbing. Donald Trump is like a person who has road rage. But he has the world’s biggest bully pulpit and is able to express this rage in front of everyone.

Because Trump is president, he has a deep impact on so many people. If anyone is unstable or people are angry, even it is justifiable, a leader gives permission to express it. It comes and goes in waves. It may have gotten worse because of Trump’s anxiety about the midterms. I worry that Trump’s anxiety has translated into even greater externalization of his aggression.

Donald Trump stimulates more and more attacks because he has to get rid of his fears of being attacked. He essentially externalizes this anxiety and fear. So many people want to argue that Trump is Machiavellian with his obsession about immigrants and that “caravan” from Latin America — that this is some ploy to get re-elected and help the Republicans. That’s part of it, but the main thing is to manage his own anxiety. Unfortunately for us, when he does that, Trump functions like a father figure who says, “OK kids, you’re on your own. You can do whatever you want.”

I and others have compared Donald Trump to Charlie Manson. He is giving his followers permission and encouragement for violence. He also leads a political cult. Do you think that is a fair read of the situation?

I agree. Donald Trump is the Charles Manson of American politics. It’s very important to see that Trump can have clean hands. He can invite other people to express his destructiveness so he doesn’t have to carry it out. For Trump, words are the equivalent of weapons. Trump does not need a gun. Words are his bullets. He enables other people to buy their own guns and fill the barrels with his tweets and just shoot people. It’s a very disturbing quality.

Manson is not the only person you can use as an example here, but it is a dramatic way to get people to pay attention.

I had a patient who was on the inpatient psychiatric ward. This patient used to walk down the hall, light a match and throw it over his shoulder. It became clear that he wanted to set the ward on fire, but he was going to leave it up to chance in his mind. If the match landed and went out, he’d light another match and do the same thing. It was a way of denying responsibility, psychologically, for him.

That is Trump. Such behavior is the sign of what’s called a thought disorder. It’s a sign of a person who is unable to think properly. In some ways it would be much better if Trump would just say whatever horrible thing he wants to. Instead, he gets other people to do it. He then avoids responsibility. That kind of abdication of thought is what makes Donald Trump, in my opinion, unfit to be president. He wants other people to do the thinking and acting for him. It is  bad enough for anybody to behave that way, but to have the president of the United States act like that is very dangerous.

There is another serious problem with Donald Trump as well. When a child  has hyperactive tendencies and they are untreated, a whole cycle of problems can begin. This is Trump. It limits not only his intellectual development, but these problems mean that as an adult he also can’t listen to other people. He can’t think properly. Trump doesn’t understand what people are saying. It’s not like he doesn’t agree with it. Because Trump does not understand, he therefore has to retreat to name-calling or going to his base to whip up a frenzy of activity. Donald Trump on a fundamental level does not understand complex issues. He has never had to think about or grapple with them because it makes him too anxious.

This is why Donald Trump always says things such as, “I have the best words,” or “I’m the smartest person, I know things other people don’t.” Together such comments signal something extremely disturbing. As a psychoanalyst it appears to me that Donald Trump is presenting behavior of what is called “unconscious grandiosity.” Donald Trump is close to thinking that he is God. It’s called the “God complex” and it’s essentially saying, “I know more than anybody else.” At some deep level Donald Trump thinks he is the deity and he does in fact know more than anybody else. Trump believes that he is God as a manifestation of a defensive grandiosity, in order to compensate for his ignorance and not really knowing things.

There is often a tendency in the mainstream American news media — never mind his apologists, defenders and enablers — to say that Trump is just kidding when he talks about violence, that it is all “harmless” political theater. In reality Donald Trump is not playing. Always believe the autocrat.

Everything Trump says must be taken seriously. Donald Trump is erotically attached to violence. He is excited when he does those professional wrestling moves at his rallies. He is like a child. The problem is, Trump has nuclear weapons and he’s the president. Trump’s attraction to violence is not like someone laughing at slapstick comedy where an actor trips and falls down. It is really a pleasure that’s very visceral and deep and destructive. Trump has had this attraction to violence since he was two years old. Donald Trump has constant and consistent themes of violence in his speech and behavior. The content may be different but it is always the same tune. But even with all his distractions, the message is always there. It is always about aggression, bullying, divisiveness and attacking tradition.

Why is there so much denial in the American news media and the public at large about Trump’s threats of violence? It is almost as though people think that they will somehow be exempt or safe from Trump’s threats and those of his supporters.

When we were children we had night terrors. Your mother or father or other caregiver would come into your room and calm you down. The terrors would go away. When the child grows up they start organizing those scary thoughts and feelings and separating them in their mind into good and bad. What Trump does is he adds to the night terrors. He has found a way to reactivate them in the American people. Trump then says, “I can make America great again. I will turn on the lights. I’ll make everything OK.”

How do we explain the dozens if not hundreds of hate crimes and other violence by Trump’s supporters? The SPLC and other groups have documented how Trump supporters, very often wearing Trump regalia like MAGA hats, have attacked people while chanting his name and slogans. Is this just pathology seeking out pathology?

No. Disorganized minds need another mind to help them organize their thinking, in this case to justify their expression of their anger. When a person wears one of Trump’s MAGA hats they are essentially living inside of their father. Other Trump supporters who express their loyalty in similar ways are also living inside of their mothers. The MAGA hats makes them feel like they are therefore immune from certain kinds of considerations, such as compassion for other people. This allows them to identity with a destructive aggressor. Trump has permitted and encouraged violent behavior, aggression. Trump’s MAGA hats mean, in essence, that his supporters are living inside of the president.

This is very profound. It is the behavior one sees in cults. For instance, you can have a religious cult and the leader is all powerful. You submit to everything they say. When Trump says, “Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening,” George Orwell could not say that better.

What Trump is saying in a basic way is, “The only way you can be safe is to be on my side and believe in me. Otherwise, you’re going to be attacked.”

How would you explain the accused “MAGAbomber,” the man in Florida who allegedly sent all those mail bombs? What is his relationship to Donald Trump?

He is the same. The MAGAbomber is just Trump writ large. He’s following the orders. It’s what you do when you’re in a cult. Remember, everybody in a cult is not at the same level of psychological development as everybody else in the same cult. They may all love the leader and revere the leader, but each member still has their own different psychologies and different tendencies to do things their own way.

The MAGAbomber is essentially an extreme version of a person who is saying, “I’m going to do everything Daddy says. I’m going to attack everybody who’s bad. All my neighbors are bad. I’m going to scare the hell out of them and do it.” The MAGAbomber is one version. The bigot who shot up the synagogue in Pittsburgh is another version. The man who tried to do a repeat of Charleston and ended up killing two black people in Louisville is another version.

Again, Trump’s music, so to speak, is one of hatred, destructiveness, instilling fear. It’s all about living out Trump’s internal conflicts and fears on the world stage. He’s the puppeteer and we’re the puppets. The MAGAbomber is just a different kind of puppet.

Trump and the right-wing media’s obsession with the supposed “caravan” of refugees coming from Latin America is another reflection of the relationship between racism, anxiety and violence. How does this work?

As a psychoanalyst, the caravan represents future babies that his mother is going to bring in the world. Trump doesn’t want any more little siblings. He doesn’t want any more people to get a piece of the pie. He wants it all.

Immigrants unconsciously can represent future babies who are a threat. For Trump and those who think like him, the “caravan” is also a reflection of the idea that black and brown people are going to take away white people’s jobs. There is also an element in this obsession where the “caravan” and nonwhites are viewed as being dirty, human pollutants by Trump and his supporters.

Donald Trump was explicitly told by leaders of the Jewish community not to go to the memorial for the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting until he renounced white nationalism, anti-Semitism and other types of racism and bigotry. Of course he went anyway. Most decent human beings would not have done such a thing. What is going on inside his mind? Does he experience shame?

No, but that is the point. When they say, “Don’t come,” to him it’s a challenge. Ultimately, it has nothing to do with the subject. When someone tells Donald Trump “You can’t do it,” he says, “I’m going to do it.” Donald Trump cannot accept being told “No.”

He will not accept it. Going to Pittsburgh is just another example of Trump’s defiant streak. This is why he is obsessed with deregulation. He hates any rules that limit him.

If Donald Trump showed up at your practice and said, “I just want to be a better person. People don’t like me. Give me some advice.” What would you tell him?

The first thing I would say is “Mr. Trump, who loves you? Who do you love? What’s important to you?” I would just get down to basics about life and love, because there’s no other way to deal with him. You have to get through on a deep emotional level and everything else is just noise to him. I would also say to Donald Trump, “Tell me how you broke your heart.”

He has a lot of internal pain.

Yes. Donald Trump has run away from this pain his whole life, and he’s been successful at doing so. I would directly address that issue very simply, very slowly and very directly. He would have to experience a breakdown because he’s avoided all of those feelings his whole life. This would be the way to help him put things back together in a healthy way.

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« Reply #3343 on: Aug 22, 2019, 05:33 AM »

‘Clearly a willing agent of a foreign government’: Presidential historian alarmed by Trump bowing to Russia

on August 22, 2019
Raw Story
By Travis Gettys

Presidential historian Jon Meacham has concluded that President Donald Trump appears to be a “willing agent of a foreign government.”

The Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential biographer was alarmed by Trump and Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch 'i have no soul, only a rancid abscess' McConnell’s appeasement of Russia, in the face of its attacks on U.S. democracy and its aggression against Crimea and other neighbors.

Meacham told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” the situation was unprecedented in American history.

“(It’s) as gloomy as at any point in the history of the country, in terms of a president’s conduct of our policy toward a foe and/or a rival, depending on how you want to characterize Russia,” Meacham said. “One of the great mysteries of the age, to me, continues to be how the party that was so vital to the defeat of Soviet totalitarianism has decided to support a president who is enabling and being in many ways complicit with the totalitarian heir to that system.”

The nation’s founders were explicitly concerned by the foreign corruption of American officials, and built in many safeguards into the American legal foundation.

“Hamilton thought Jefferson was too close to the French and Jefferson thought Hamilton was too close to the British,” Meacham said, “and that was an essential story at the beginning of the republic, which was ferociously partisan.”

Meacham said foreign nations tried to exert their influence on the fledgling United States, which occupied but did not yet control much of North America, but he said the built-in safeguards in the foundational documents helped thwart those efforts.

“It’s remarkable we don’t look more like Central or South America, and part of that was, we did have of every possible persuasion, every possible party, we had generations of leadership that insisted on a certain kind of American territorial and even ideological integrity,” Meacham said. “I know it was imperfect, this is not a Manifest Destiny homily, but I honestly cannot remember — unless you go back to the fears of the founders of one another — I don’t remember a president who seemed as — so clearly a willing agent of a foreign government.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhMLpsf-TgE

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« Reply #3344 on: Aug 23, 2019, 03:29 AM »

Scientists reconstruct Cleopatra’s legendary perfume
If Cleopatra was closeby, you'd probably smell her before you see her

Mihai Andrei

The scent is much stronger than most modern perfumes, and also lasts for longer.
Image in public domain

Shakespeare wrote that Cleopatra’s sails were “so perfumèd that the winds were lovesick with them.” According to an ancient legend, when Cleopatra first visited Marc Antony in Tarsus, she coated the sails of her royal boat in a fragrance so strong that you could smell the ship before it arrived.

It’s hard to say just how much of these stories is true, but it’s pretty safe to say that Cleopatra (and ancient Egyptians in general) loved their perfume. Now, a team of researchers has recreated a perfume that they believe Cleopatra might have worn.

Robert Littman, an archaeologist at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, and his colleague Jay Silverstein were working at an excavation of the ancient Egyptian city Thmuis.

Thmuis was founded north of Cairo, in the Nile delta, some 6,500 years ago. The city was also home to some of the most famous ancient perfumes. So it came as no surprise when the two archaeologists uncovered an ancient fragrance factory.

The site dating from 2,300 years ago was riddled with tiny glass perfumes and clay amphorae used to store perfumes. The team saved every bit of matter they could and then sent it to the lab for analysis. The fragrance wasn’t noticeable, but the lab analysis (which isn’t yet complete) can reveal the components of the ancient perfume.

The fragrance had a thick, olive oil-like consistency, with the main ingredient being myrrh — a natural resin extracted from a number of small, thorny tree species. The team believes the mixture also contained cardamom, green olive oil, and cinnamon. The resulting concoction, which researchers created based on chemical and historical information, was strong and spicy, with a faint hint of musk, Littman says.

    “I find it very pleasant, though it probably lingers a little longer than modern perfume,” he says.

    “What a thrill it is to smell a perfume that no one has smelt for 2,000 years and one which Cleopatra might have worn,” Littman added.

You can smell the fragrance yourself at the National Geographic Museum’s exhibition “Queens of Egypt” in Washington DC.

While this is probably a very good approximation, until the chemical analysis is completed, it’s hard to say exactly what the perfume consisted of. Furthermore, while the recovered fragrances were representative of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra might have had her own customized concoction.

    “Cleopatra made perfume herself in a personal workshop,” Mandy Aftel, a natural perfumer who runs a museum of curious scents in Berkeley, California, told Atlas Obscura. “People have tried to recreate her perfume, but I don’t think anybody knows for sure what she used.”

It may not be exactly what Cleopatra used, but the fact that we can produce fragrances similar to ancient fragrances is remarkable in itself. Would you use one?

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