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« Reply #4320 on: Sep 12, 2018, 05:09 AM »

Former CIA head says agency’s own intelligence was ‘in line’ with explosive Trump-Russia dossier: Bob Woodward

Elizabeth Preza, AlterNet

In his new book “Fear,” veteran journalist Bob Woodward reports that former CIA Director John Brennan told him the information in the infamous Trump-Russia dossier “was in line” with the agency’s “own sources.”

Fox News’ Ed Henry pointed out the claim Tuesday, noting that despite the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on Woodward’s new book, the veteran reporter actually raises “sharp questions” about the dossier compiled by former Secret Intelligence Service MI6 officer Christopher Steele.

For one, Woodward explains “the sources that Steele used for his dossier had not been polygraphed, which made their information uncorroborated, and potentially suspect.”

Still, Woodward reports Brennan “said the information was in line with their own sources [at CIA], in which he had great confidence.”

    2/ #WoodwardBook adds despite dossier being potentially suspect @JohnBrennan “said the information was in line with their own sources [at CIA], in which he had great confidence”

    — Ed Henry (@edhenry) September 11, 2018

    2/ #WoodwardBook adds despite dossier being potentially suspect @JohnBrennan “said the information was in line with their own sources [at CIA], in which he had great confidence”

    — Ed Henry (@edhenry) September 11, 2018

Trump last month revoked Brennan’s security clearance, accusing him of “lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary is wholly inconsistent with access to the nation’s most closely held secrets.”

Brennan said Trump’s “action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech [and] punish critics.”

Trump’s move to strip Brennan of his security clearance sparked outcry among current and former members of the intelligence community.


Bob Woodward reveals to MSNBC’s Morning Joe how Trump throws tantrums when confronted with truth

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
12 Sep 2018 at 06:53 ET                  

Bob Woodward explained to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that President Donald Trump is fundamentally incapable of facing reality — and throws tantrums to avoid the truth.

The journalist and author said much of the best reporting on Trump’s presidency has focused on the Russia investigation, but Woodward said he uncovered a troubling pattern in all of the president’s failures.

“In the foreign policy areas, the handling of North Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle East, all of the immigration issues, all of the trade issues, I was able to excavate and find out actually what happened,” Woodward said. “This is the pattern — he won’t face what’s real.”

Woodward had written books on nine presidents from Richard Nixon to Trump, and he said each one is different, but he said the current president has a defining characteristic.

“I think the key in examining Trump is actually what will he do when people present him with facts?” he said. “For instance, it sounds a little esoteric, but the World Trade Organization, which the United States is a member of — very important, allows us to file complaints of unfair trade practices — and there’s a meeting in the Oval Office and the president says, ‘Well, the World Trade Organization is the worst organization ever. We lose all of our cases.'”

Trump’s advisers presented him with data that showed the U.S., in fact, won 85.7 percent of the cases it brought before the organization, and he simply rejected their data.

“He says, ‘No, that’s not true,’ and the people are saying, ‘Look, call the U.S. trade representative, your guy, and he will confirm this,'” Woodward said.

Woodward said the president simply refused.

“‘I don’t want to hear it,'” Trump said, according to Woodward. “‘I don’t want to call him, I don’t want to deal with it.'”

The president flat-our rejects information that challenges his biases and beliefs, the reporter said.

“At some point, he gets literally where the aides ask him, ‘Where did you get these ideas?'” Woodward said. “And he will say, ‘Well, I’ve had them for 30 years, they’re right and if you disagree, you’re wrong.'”


Bob Woodward explains Trump’s supreme lack of rational thinking to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow: ‘He closes his mind’

Noor Al-Sibai
Raw Story
12 Sep 2018 at 22:14 ET                  

Hot on the heels of the publication of his new book “Fear: Trump in the White House,” veteran journalist Bob Woodward told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that President Donald Trump lacks the type of rational thinking skills required to properly run the United States.

“He closes his mind to the information that makes it possible for the president to weigh arguments and data,” the Watergate journalist told Maddow.

When asked where he gets his ideas, Woodward conveyed, Trump often tells people he’s “had them for 30 years.”

“That has got to give you pause that the White House and the government are being managed this way,” he said. “

Woodward noted that he’s now written about nine presidents — 20 of all presidents in American history, from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump — and that the biggest skill he thinks presidents need is the capacity to learn.

“You have to learn,” he said. “You have to grow. You can’t just kind of say, ‘well, that’s the way it is.'”

“Presidents can do wonderful things and they can do disastrous things,” Woodward said. “The process really matters.”


‘The president seems incapable of thinking’: Mother Jones editor David Corn swears he’s not exaggerating after reading Woodward book

12 Sep 2018 at 23:40 ET    
Raw Story              

After reading Bob Woodward’s new book Fear, Mother Jones editor David Corn is concerned about the president’s ability to process information.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow spoke with Woodward Tuesday about the chaos that seems to have taken over the White House with President Donald Trump.

Corn called it an outright “love affair with chaos.”

“You know, Donald Trump’s love affair with chaos is well known. We saw it in the campaign. We’ve seen it in how the books and a lot of reporting that’s come out in the last year and a half,” Corn said.

He went on to say that the thing that he finds most fearful is that the White House has no interest in fixing any of the problems.

“To me the most frightening thing here — and this — I think the lack of process is reflected in this — in Bob’s book, he talked about it with Rachel,” Corn began. “There are examples throughout the book. The president seems incapable of thinking. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but thinking entails absorbing information, considering the information, processing the information, and coming to some conclusion or output at the end.”

He noted that in case after case Trump refuses to “absorb” any new information.

“Maybe he can’t even do so. And there is no process internally to match any bureaucratic or organizational process,” he continued. “And to me, that’s the most frightening thing. A guy with his finger on the nuclear button who is impulsive, egotistical and narcissistic doesn’t seem to be able to engage in basic cognitive activity.”


Trump bewildered his economic adviser by claiming he could ‘print money’ to reduce the debt: Woodward

Bob Brigham
Raw Story
12 Sep 2018 at 14:51 ET                  

President Donald Trump believed he could lower the United States’ debt by instructing the Treasury Department to print more money, according to the new book Fear: Trump in the White House by veteran investigative journalist Bob Woodward, CNBC reported Tuesday.

Chapter seven of the book recounts a November 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that was organized by Jared Kushner. The purpose of the meeting was for Goldman Sachs’ then-president and chief operating officer Gary Cohn to brief president-elect Trump on the economy.

Also attending the meeting were Steve Bannon, Reince Priebus, and Steve Mnuchin.

Cohen reportedly told Trump to expect interest rates to increase.

“We should just go borrow a lot of money right now, hold it, and then sell it to make money,” Trump suggested.

Woodward described Cohn as “astounded” that Trump didn’t realize that issuing bonds to borrow money would increase the national debt.

“What do you mean?” Trump asked, according to Woodward. “Just run the presses — print money.”

Cohn reportedly tried to explain that economics does not work as Trump suggested.

Following the meeting, Cohn was appointed director of the National Economic Council, a position he held until he was replaced by Larry Kudlow in April.


Trump is ‘fundamentally deranged’ — and his mental health constitutes ‘a national crisis’: CNN guest

Brad Reed
Raw Story
12 Sep 2018 at 08:10 ET                   

Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein did not mince any words when it came to President Donald Trump’s mental state during a CNN panel on Wednesday.

During a discussion of Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” Klein said that it’s time to stop beating around the bush when it comes to discussing how dangerous the president’s mental health is to the American republic.

“We have a national crisis right now, and it is very serious, and we have to focus on that,” he said.

Klein went on to praise the anonymous Trump administration official who wrote the infamous New York Times editorial denouncing his own boss.

“It is yet another source that says that we are dealing with a very fundamentally deranged person who is leading our country right now,” Klein said. “And thank God there are people, sane people who are surrounding him, who might limit the damage, because the legal recourses here move very, very slowly.”

Klein also rebuffed criticism that the op-ed writer should have made their criticisms publicly.

“It’s important you have as many people as possible surrounding this president because he isn’t going anywhere for a while,” Klein said.

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwvlU3uXTIg


The latest Trump-endorsed conspiracy theory about the FBI unraveled in less than 24 hours

Tana Ganeva
Raw Story
11 Sep 2018 at 16:24 ET                  

Even though he was dismissed from his post at the FBI, the fallout over former agent Peter Strzok’s text messages to fellow agent Lisa Page continues.

On Monday, one of President Donald Trump’s allies in Congress once again revived the conspiracy theory that Strzok and Page’s exchanges represent the tip of some deep-state plot to destroy Donald Trump, ABC News reported.

He said the texts gave him “grave concerns regarding an apparent systemic culture of media leaking.”

On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump replied via Twitter.

    New Strzok-Page texts reveal “Media Leak Strategy.” @FoxNews So terrible, and NOTHING is being done at DOJ or FBI – but the world is watching, and they get it completely.

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2018

Today, top members on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform blasted Republicans for promoting falsehoods.

“Republicans in Congress repeatedly cherry-pick, mischaracterize, and then leak bits and pieces of documents to fabricate conspiracy theories to protect President Trump, and this is just the latest example,” they wrote. “The documents clearly show that Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page were not discussing how to leak documents to the press—but whether the Justice Department should change its regulations to stop leaks to the media.”

They blasted Republicans for promoting lies.

“We don’t know how many times Republicans will try this same trick—or how many times President Trump will take advantage of them—but they need to start fulfilling their constitutional duty to conduct credible oversight of the Executive Branch rather than acting as the President’s personal defense counsel.”


‘Best job we did’: Trump praises his ‘incredibly successful’ Puerto Rico hurricane response in Oval Office rant

Bob Brigham
Raw Story
12 Sep 2018 at 16:07 ET                  

With Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolinas and Virginia, President Donald Trump praised his administration’s response to last year’s hurricanes in Puerto Rico.

The official estimate of fatalities from the hurricanes is currently at 2,975.

“What happened in Puerto Rico?” Trump was asked in the Oval Office.

“I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful,” Trump claimed.

Trump repeatedly and erroneously claimed that Puerto Rico did not have power before the storms hit.

“I think Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success,” Trump bragged.


Manafort in talks with Mueller about a plea deal as his second trial looms: report

Noor Al-Sibai
Raw Story
12 Sep 2018 at 20:51 ET                  

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in plea deal talks with special counsel Robert Mueller as his second trial looms.

The Washington Post reported that two people close to the discussions said the talks “indicate a possible shift in strategy for Manafort” and don’t necessarily mean Mueller will give him a plea.

In late August, the Wall Street Journal reported that the former Trump campaign chairman was seeking a plea deal from the special counsel, but that such a deal was unlikely.


Tax investigators accused of ‘interfering’ in federal probe into Michael Cohen: report

Noor Al-Sibai
Raw Story
12 Sep 2018 at 16:30 ET                  

Tax investigators have been accused of “interfering” in the federal probe into Michael Cohen as they look into the lawyer’s involvement in the Trump Organization.

CNN reported that Cohen’s attorney is slated to meet with investigators with the New York state tax department Tuesday — a move the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has asked other departments not to make.

“This is clear interference with an ongoing criminal investigation,” a law enforcement official told CNN.

The network’s sources also noted that tax officials probing potential tax fraud “have sought to include local prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office in any meeting with Cohen and his attorney.”

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« Last Edit: Sep 12, 2018, 06:15 AM by Rad » Logged
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« Reply #4321 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:07 AM »

Stone in South African cave boasts oldest-known human drawing

13 Sep 2018 at 14:41 ET                   

A small stone flake marked with intersecting lines of red ochre pigment some 73,000 years ago that was found in a cave on South Africa’s southern coast represents what archaeologists on Wednesday called the oldest-known example of human drawing.

The abstract design, vaguely resembling a hashtag, was drawn by hunter-gatherers who periodically dwelled in Blombos Cave overlooking the Indian Ocean, roughly 190 miles (300 km) east of Cape Town, the researchers said. It predates the previous oldest-known drawings by at least 30,000 years.

While the design appears rudimentary, the fact that it was sketched so long ago is significant, suggesting the existence of modern cognitive abilities in our species, Homo sapiens, during a time known as the Middle Stone Age, the researchers said.

The cross-hatched design drawn with ochre, a pigment used by our species dating back at least 285,000 years ago, consists of a set of six straight lines crossed by three slightly curved lines. The coarse-grained stone flake measures about 1-1/2 inches (38.6 mm) long and 1/2-inch (12.8 mm) wide.

“The abrupt termination of all lines on the fragment edges indicates that the pattern originally extended over a larger surface. The pattern was probably more complex and structured in its entirety than in this truncated form,” said archaeologist Christopher Henshilwood of the University of Bergen in Norway and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, who led the research published in the journal Nature.

“We would be hesitant to call it art. It is definitely an abstract design and it almost certainly had some meaning to the maker and probably formed a part of the common symbolic system understood by other people in this group,” Henshilwood added.

Other Blombos Cave artifacts of similar age included ochre pieces engraved with abstract patterns resembling the one drawn on the stone as well as ochre-covered shell beads. Blombos Cave artifacts dating from 100,000 years ago included a red ochre-based paint.

“All these findings demonstrate that early Homo sapiens in the southern Cape used different techniques to produce similar signs on different media,” Henshilwood said. “This observation supports the hypothesis that these signs were symbolic in nature and represented an inherent aspect of the advanced cognitive abilities these early African Homo sapiens, the ancestors of all of us today.”

Homo sapiens first appeared more than 315,000 years ago in Africa, later trekking to other parts of the world.

Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Susan Thomas

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« Reply #4322 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:09 AM »

5 Products Improved in 2018, Thanks to Obama-Era Efficiency Standards

By Lauren Urbanek

Hotels, offices, stores and other commercial spaces across the U.S. are reaping benefits from new energy efficiency standards taking effect this year, one of which is the largest ever set by the Department of Energy (DOE). Consumers will see lower bills from these efficiency efforts, which were finalized during the Obama administration, even as the Trump DOE seeks to stall new standards.

From ice makers to air conditioners, many workhorse machines that keep homes and businesses running must use less energy as of this year, saving millions of dollars and avoiding harmful pollution.

Taken together, the standards taking effect in 2018—meaning the less efficient versions no longer can be sold—will help the U.S. avoid more than 176 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions through 2030. The impact of these energy efficiency requirements is even more pronounced looking out over the next three decades, with even greater pollution reductions and more than $30 billion in consumer savings.

The national energy efficiency standards program builds in a lag time of about three years between adoption of a more efficient standard and when it goes into effect. This is because manufacturers need time to prepare for the change. Over the past 30 years, this program has quietly saved consumers billions of dollars in electricity costs and is on track to save $2 trillion by 2030.

1. Commercial HVAC units: The first phase of a two-part standard began in January, requiring the air conditioning and heat pump units that cool and heat more than half the nation's commercial floor space to be 10 percent more efficient. The biggest energy-saving rule yet since DOE began its appliance and equipment standards program in 1987 will avoid more than 885 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution over the next three decades, and as much energy as all the coal burned for electricity nationwide.

2. General service fluorescent lamps: Effective at the end of this past January, these standards cover the fluorescent tube lighting prevalent in places like schools, offices, hospitals and stores. More than 2 billion of these lamps are installed nationwide—they must now be 4 percent more efficient than current ones and 23 percent more efficient than those sold before 2012. That seemingly modest efficiency increase will deliver up to $5.5 billion in savings over the next three decades and 160 million metric tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions.

3. Clothes washers: Both commercial and residential clothes washers became more efficient this year. New rules for commercial washers—the top- and front-loading machines you see in laundromats and apartment buildings—went into effect in January, amounting to energy savings of 7 percent compared to a scenario with no new standards. The resulting energy savings will cut carbon dioxide emissions by 4.1 million metric tons over the next 30 years. A second phase of standards for residential clothes washers also kicked in, increasing the efficiency of top-loading washers 18 percent compared to 2015. And that's on top of big gains in efficiency that have already occurred since 1987, when Congress established the first national standards for residential clothes washers: clothes washer energy use has decreased substantially: an average new washer in 2014 used 75 percent less energy than one in 1987.

4. Automatic commercial ice makers: As of January, new machines used in hotels, restaurants and healthcare facilities will use 10 to 25 percent less energy and save businesses $942 million in energy costs over 30 years. Over the same time period, the U.S. will avoid 11 million metric tons of harmful emissions. The latest standard updates efficiency requirements first set by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 while expanding the types of machines covered.

5. Battery chargers: The first-ever national standards for battery chargers, which went into effect in June, will save 500 million kilowatt-hours annually—enough to power all the households in a city of 100,000 people. Covering the products that recharge our phones, laptops, power tools, and other gadgets, the rule is designed to boost their efficiency by just over 10 percent on average. Thanks to a 2013 California standard, 95 percent of chargers on the market already met the new federal efficiency requirements. Combined, the federal and state standards will save an estimated 18 billion kilowatt-hours a year and more than 10 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over three decades.

Looking to 2019

In 2019 manufacturers will trot out improved products to meet six more new and updated efficiency standards for the following products:

    Pre-rinse spray valves, the lowly handheld fixture that is widely used to rinse off plates, trays, pots, and silverware with hot water as commercial dishwashers are loaded up, will reduce both energy and water use by an estimated 9 percent. Owners can expect to save between $70 and $80 per valve each year in operating costs.

    Dehumidifiers will save the average homeowner between $100 and $140 in energy costs as they get rid of excess moisture in air. Over 30 years, the standard will save the equivalent of one year's worth of electricity consumption by 3 million U.S. households.

    Furnace fans will meet their first ever standards in 2019. These little-known energy hogs run almost constantly to circulate air through a building. The standards will save consumers $340 to $500 over the fan's lifetime, and reduce national energy use by 4 quads over 30 years—the equivalent of 4 percent of yearly national energy use.

    Walk-in freezers and coolers—the kind used in restaurants and supermarkets—will meet new standards this year, saving business as much as $3 billion over the cost of purchasing new equipment, and creating energy savings equivalent to the annual use of 7 million homes.

    Beverage vending machines will get 39 percent more efficient in 2019, saving the building owners who pay the electric bills up to $1 billion. The standard will also save as much carbon pollution as 1 million homes produce in a year.

    Updated standards for single package vertical air conditioners, another type of commercial cooling and heating equipment, will also go into effect next year.

Energy efficiency requirements like these don't just save people money and make the air cleaner: They also generate jobs in every state. A recent report attributed 300,000 jobs nationwide to the standards program, a number set to nearly double to 550,000 in 2030.

While the remarkable benefits of this program are worth applauding, much more remains to be done. The Trump administration has made essentially no progress on standards since taking office in early 2017. So while consumers are starting to reap the savings from standards finalized in 2015 or 2016, the pipeline of future savings has been shut off for the time being. Furthermore, Trump's Department of Energy has failed to publish completed energy efficiency requirements for other important equipment such as air compressors and commercial boilers while indefinitely delaying the development of several other efficiency standards. This shortsighted—and in some cases illegal—lack of action means Americans will have to wait, needlessly, for years to see product improvements that could further lower their electric bills.

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« Reply #4323 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:12 AM »

Three Chances to Help Clean the Planet This Weekend


The amount of trash humans have left on this earth can feel like an overwhelming challenge: 900 Empire State buildings worth of plastic were produced in 2015 and at least 8 million tons of that enters the world's oceans every year.

Luckily, three different events this coming Saturday are giving people around the world a chance to help clean our shared home.

1. World Cleanup Day

On Sept. 15, Let's Do It! World is organizing the first ever World Cleanup Day.

150 countries are set to participate, many hoping to engage up to 5 percent of their population, according to a press release.

The day will kick-off in Fiji and follow the sunrise around the world over the course of 30 hours to end in Hawaii.

The day has its origins 10 years ago in Estonia, when 50,000 people helped clean the entire country in just five hours.

Since then, Let's Do it! World has organized cleanup events in 113 countries, galvanizing more than 20 million volunteers, but this is the first day designed to coordinate the whole world.

To participate, you can either use the website to look for a cleanup event near you or download the app that will allow you to map the trash in your area and create your own neighborhood cleanup for Saturday.

The World Cleanup Day Live Show will be broadcast from Tallinn, Estonia to document the cleanups taking place around the world.

The live show will play on the World Cleanup Day website, as well as its Facebook page and YouTube channel.

"Many times, we think the world is big and wide and what is happening across the globe does not affect us. Actually—as it appears within the 24 hours—the world is small. And that's why we have to take care of it. There is no Planet B!" live show producer Mart Normet said in a press release emailed to EcoWatch.

2. National Cleanup Day

If you're based in the U.S., you can also participate in the second-annual National CleanUp Day.

National CleanUp Day was co-founded by Steve Jewett and Bill Willoughby to answer the question, "What would our country be like if everyone went outside and picked up at least one piece of litter?" according to a press release emailed to EcoWatch.

225,000 Americans participated in the first National CleanUp Day in 2017, and the organizers are looking to expand its impact this year while partnering with World Cleanup Day.

A 2009 America the Beautiful study found that one of the factors that most encourages littering is the presence of litter already in the environment, so a day of cleaning can play an important role in discouraging the habit, organizers say.

To participate, find an event near you on the website or sign up for a local event by entering your zip code and contact information here.

"A key concept of National CleanUp Day is that, if you're not having fun, you are doing it wrong," Jewett and Willoughby said in the press release.

3. International Coastal Cleanup

Weird finds from International Coastal Cleanups.

Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy has been running its International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) for more than 30 years, but this year it has taken on more urgency.

"From BBC's Blue Planet II to statements from Buckingham Palace, the Pope, Hollywood actors and everyone in between, if you are consuming news or social media, you've probably heard something about ocean plastic this year. That momentum and excitement is breathing new energy into the International Coastal Cleanup, and highlighting its important role in both mitigating marine debris and educating the public on the problem," Trash Free Seas Program Director Nick Mallos said in a statement emailed to EcoWatch.

The International Coastal Cleanup began on a beach in Texas in 1986 and has since grown to inspire nearly 13 million volunteers to remove 250 million pounds of trash from beaches and waterways around the world, according to a press release.

Last year was the first time that all of the top 10 items collected by volunteers were made of plastic, and volunteers will be collecting data this year to see if that trend holds, Mallos said.

This year, the Ocean Conservancy is encouraging participation with its #suituptocleanup campaign, encouraging everyone to head to their nearest beach or waterway to join the action.

To get involved, you can find a cleanup near you or start your own.

Make sure to download the Clean Swell app to document what you find and help keep track of plastic pollution.

"Volunteers love being able to plug in their personal data and see it pop up on the global map. It cultivates pride and environmental stewardship when we develop a sense of being part of something much larger than that one specific cleanup," Melanie Grillone of Florida said in an ICC report released in June.

ICC noted in a blog post Wednesday that anyone planning to participate who lives in the path of Hurricane Florence should stay safe and check with the coordinator of local events to see if they have been canceled or rescheduled.

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« Reply #4324 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:14 AM »

UK Could Become ‘Net Zero by 2050’ Using Negative Emissions

By Daisy Dunne

The UK could cut its emissions to "net-zero" within the next three decades by stepping up investment into technologies that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere, a report finds.

However, such methods, which are known collectively as "negative emissions technologies" (NETs), would only be effective if paired with drastic efforts to cut the UK's current rate of emissions, the findings suggest.

The report, published jointly by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, evaluates how the UK could capitalize on a range of proposed techniques from "natural climate solutions," such as planting forests, to more experimental methods, including capturing CO2 directly from the air.

The findings show that the UK "must act quickly" to ramp up "research and investigation" into a suite of NETs, the report's chair told Carbon Brief at a press briefing in London.

Hitting Zero

Under the Paris agreement, countries pledged to limit global warming to "well below" 2°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

To keep to this limit, countries will collectively need to reach "net-zero" emissions—a scenario where the total amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere is balanced by the total amount taken out—by sometime in the second half of this century.

For the UK to achieve such a target, it will need to "prioritise rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions"—largely through the adoption of low-carbon sources of energy, construction and food production, according to the authors of the report, which was commissioned by the UK government's Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

However, for some industries, such as aviation and agriculture, it will be almost impossible to cut emissions down to zero, says professor Corinne Le Quéré, a report author and director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.

In the video below, she explains why the use of NETs could be necessary to counteract the "emissions we don't know how to bring down to zero."

Negative Mix

The 133-page report assesses the potential carbon storage of a wide range of proposed NETs, as well as their potential co-benefits and risks.

This information has been used to create a scenario for the UK in 2050 whereby a suite of NETs are used to reach net-zero emissions.

The UK currently emits around 450m tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) a year. Under the Climate Change Act, the UK is committed to an 80 percent reduction in emissions by the year 2050, relative to 1990 levels.

However, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC)—the independent body that advises the government on climate policy—has suggested that, if efforts to reduce emissions are increased, the UK could exceed this target. This would lead to annual emissions of 130m tonnes of CO2e by 2050.

The new scenario assumes that the UK does manage to slash its emissions and that a mix of NETs are used to balance out the remaining 130m tonnes of CO2e in 2050.

The chart below shows the expected relative contributions of nine techniques. The first five are grouped into "ready to deploy" methods, such as planting forests (pink), restoring habitats such as peatlands and wetlands (purple), enhancing the amount of carbon stored in the soil (blue), building with wood—or "biomass" (green) and using low-carbon concrete for construction (orange).

The potential of various technologies to offset UK emissions (in millions of tonnes of CO2e) in 2050
Royal Society & Royal Academy of Engineering

The scenario envisages that these "ready to deploy" techniques will be rapidly rolled out across the UK—taking up around 35m tonnes of CO2e, just over a quarter of the UK's total annual emissions, by 2050.

The rapid deployment of these "natural" techniques would cause considerable land-use change, according to the report.

For example, the scenario assumes that the UK will plant an additional 1.2m hectares of forest—an area roughly the size of the West Midlands. Many of these forests would be monocultures made up of species such as willow or poplar, the scientists told the press briefing.

However, this group of techniques could also come with considerable co-benefits, the scientists added. For instance, increasing the carbon storage potential of the UK's peatlands and wetlands through habitat restoration could boost natural flood defenses and provide more space for native wildlife, the report shows.

Chemical Cooling

The second group on the diagram includes two technologies that are "not yet demonstrated at scale." These are "enhanced weathering" (pale green)—a process where silicate rocks are spread over soils in order to boost the natural process of weathering, which causes CO2 to turn into solid bicarbonate—and the use of "biochar"—a carbon-rich charcoal which, when sprinkled on land, can boost soil carbon storage.

The scenario suggests that these two techniques could offset 20m tonnes of CO2e (or 15 percent of the UK's total emissions) by 2050—with enhanced weathering accounting for three quarters of this figure.

To be effective, biochar would need to spread over a quarter of all of the UK's arable land, the report says, while enhanced weathering would need to be undertaken on just under a quarter of all arable land.

The two techniques would need to be applied separately, the report adds, meaning that, together, the methods would need to be applied to just under half of all of the UK's croplands.

The report notes that both methods are at a "low-level of technology readiness" and that their contribution to offsetting emissions could grow larger in the second half of the century. For enhanced weathering, around two thirds of the silicate rock needed could be provided by waste materials from the industries including cement and steel, the report adds.

Capturing Carbon

The last set of technologies are labelled "requiring CCS [carbon capture and storage]". There are two of these—direct air capture with carbon capture and storage (DACC; brown on the diagram) and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS; crimson on the diagram).

DACC involves using machines to directly "suck" CO2 out of the air and then store it underground. BECCS involves burning crops to create bioenergy, capturing the resulting greenhouse gas emissions in a power plant and storing them underground.

The scenario assumes that these two technologies will offset 75m tonnes of CO2e—almost 58 percent of the UK's total emissions—by 2050.

However, the report acknowledges that "neither BECCS nor DACCS have yet been demonstrated to operate at a large scale" and that the development of CCS will be key for the UK to meet its emissions targets. In the report, the authors say:

    "Crucially, meeting the UK target, therefore, depends on rapid development of the carbon transportation and storage infrastructure required for CCS."

A major barrier to the development of CCS is the cost associated with directly capturing CO2 from the atmosphere.

The report shows that, if deployed, BECCS could require around 1m hectares of UK land—largely farmland—to be converted into biomass plantations. This could have consequences for biodiversity and food security, according to the report authors.

Political Will?

To reach the scenario outlined in the report, the UK will need to "act quickly" to boost investments in negative emissions research, says professor Gideon Henderson, chair of the report working group from the University of Oxford. At the sidelines of the press briefing, he told Carbon Brief:

"The report makes it clear that we would need to act quickly, we would need to ramp up reforestation. In the slightly longer term, we would need to develop technologies that are somewhat unproven, such as biochar. We need research and investigation into those techniques now so we're ready to pursue them in the coming decades. We also need to establish—as soon as we can—CCS infrastructure and scale that up, so that we're ready to store the CO2 that is extracted using future techniques."

Scaling up NETs would also require changes to UK policy, the researchers say. For example, increasing the price on carbon would be "necessary" to make CO2 removal economically feasible, the report finds.

In addition, the government will need to introduce more incentives for techniques such as afforestation and enhancing soil carbon stocks.

On Tuesday (September 11), Conservative MP Simon Clarke handed in a letter to the government—backed by 132 MPs and 51 peers—calling for the UK to adopt a net-zero emissions target before 2050.

In a press statement, Clarke said:

    "To bring our climate back into balance we have to finally end our emissions. We have led the world in confronting this problem and can lead in solving it, drawing on our engineering and scientific prowess that will help bring us to net zero."

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« Reply #4325 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:16 AM »

Climate Change a 'Key Driver' Behind Rising Global Hunger


The number of hungry people in the world has reverted to levels last seen a decade ago, the United Nations warned Tuesday in its annual report on food security and nutrition.

Nearly 821 million global citizens—or one out of every nine people—were undernourished in 2017, the third consecutive rise since 2015. Hunger affected 804 million people in 2016 and 784 million people in 2015.

Hunger worsened in South America and most regions of Africa, while decreasing trends in undernourishment in Asia has slowed down, the report shows.

According to the report, the "key drivers" behind the rise in hunger include climate variability, which affects rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, as well as climate extremes such as droughts and floods. Conflict and economic slowdowns also contributed to the increasing undernourishment.

Climate change has already been shown to undermine production of staple crops such as wheat, rice and maize in tropical and temperate regions, and the predicted rise in global temperatures will worsen output even further.

Notably, the study shows that the countries that are the most exposed to climate extremes tend to have a higher prevalence and number of undernourished people.

The report only covers the year 2017 and does not take 2018's record-breaking heatwaves, flooding and wildfires into account.

Robin Willoughby, head of food and climate policy at Oxfam GB, told The Guardian that the extreme weather in the last few months has likely made global hunger worse.

"The extreme weather we have seen this year is likely to have exacerbated the crisis," he said. "A hotter world is proving to be a hungrier world."

The report also showed that obesity is on the rise, with more than one in eight adults in the world considered obese. The problem is the most significant in North America, but Africa and Asia are also experiencing an upward trend, the report shows.

Obesity is also a form of malnutrition. As a press release for the report points out: "Undernutrition and obesity coexist in many countries, and can even be seen side by side in the same household. Poor access to nutritious food due to its higher cost, the stress of living with food insecurity, and physiological adaptations to food deprivation help explain why food-insecure families may have a higher risk of overweight and obesity."

The rising rates of global hunger threatens the UN's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of ending all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.

"The alarming signs of increasing food insecurity and high levels of different forms of malnutrition are a clear warning that there is considerable work to be done to make sure we 'leave no one behind' on the road towards achieving the SDG goals on food security and improved nutrition," the heads of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the UN Children's Fund, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization warned in the report's joint foreword.

The leaders also issued a call to action to break the cycle of malnutrition.

"If we are to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, it is imperative that we accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people's livelihoods in response to climate variability and extremes," they said.

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« Reply #4326 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:18 AM »

As Climate Talks Stall, UN Chief Presses World Leaders to Take Action


UN Secretary General António Guterres urged world leaders to pick up the pace on fighting climate change in a speech at the UN headquarters in New York Monday, The New York Times reported.

"If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change," Guterres said.

Guterres' speech came a day after climate talks concluded in Bangkok without producing a draft of rules that could be presented at the next round of UN climate negotiations in Katowice, Poland in December, which will be dedicated to the implementation of the Paris agreement, The Associated Press reported.

"We cannot allow Katowice to remind us of Copenhagen," Guterres said, referring to climate talks there that fell apart in 2009, BBC News reported.

The major disagreements at the Bangkok talks revolved around how developing countries would finance and report their Paris commitments.

Developed countries are supposed to provide funds to assist developing countries, but ActionAid International Climate Policy Manager Harjeet Singh told The Associated Press that countries like the U.S., Japan, Australia and the EU declined to say "how much money they are going to provide and how that is going to be counted."

Other delegates expressed frustration with the role of the U.S. in negotiations, saying the country undermined the process despite President Donald Trump's announcement that he would pull the U.S. from being impacted by the final agreement.

"The U.S. has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement but still negotiates as if it is a Party, weakening international cooperation by not contributing to finance and technology transfer to developing countries," Third World Network legal adviser Meena Raman told The Associated Press in an email.

Guterres did not refer to Trump by name in his remarks Monday, but called on global leaders generally to meet their Paris targets, The New York Times reported.

Few countries are close to meeting those targets, and the UN has found that existing targets would only get the world one-third of the way towards limiting warming "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

"The time has come for our leaders to show they care about the people whose fate they hold in their hands," Guterres said, according to The New York Times. "We need to rapidly shift away from our dependence on fossil fuels."

Guterres dismissed the idea that doing so was too expensive, saying that renewable energy was now competitive with oil and coal and that meeting the Paris goals would boost the economy overall, BBC News reported.

"For every dollar spent restoring degraded forests, as much as $30 can be recouped in economic benefits and poverty reduction," Guterres said, according to BBC News.

Guterres urged world leaders as well as city and business leaders to join him in September 2019 for a climate change forum, The New York Times reported.

The inclusion of city and industry is designed to put pressure on national governments, The New York Times surmised.

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« Reply #4327 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:29 AM »

Duh ... 'but we are not stupid' .. ok ..

North Carolina didn't like science on sea levels … so passed a law against it

In 2012, the state whose low-lying coast lies in the path of Hurricane Florence reacted to a prediction of catastrophically rising seas by banning policies based on such forecasts

Erin Durkin
13 Sep 2018 11.00 BST

When North Carolina got bad news about what its coast could look like thanks to climate change, it chose to ignore it.

In 2012, the state now in the path of Hurricane Florence reacted to a prediction by its Coastal Resources Commission that sea levels could rise by 39in over the next century by passing a law that banned policies based on such forecasts.

The legislation drew ridicule, including a mocking segment by comedian Stephen Colbert, who said: “If your science gives you a result you don’t like, pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.”

North Carolina has a long, low-lying coastline and is considered one of the US areas most vulnerable to rising sea levels.

But dire predictions alarmed coastal developers and their allies, who said they did not believe the rise in sea level would be as bad as the worst models predicted and said such forecasts could unnecessarily hurt property values and drive up insurance costs.

As a result, the state’s official policy, rather than adapting to the worst potential effects of climate change, has been to assume it simply won’t be that bad. Instead of forecasts, it has mandated predictions based on historical data on sea level rise.

“The science panel used one model, the most extreme in the world,” Pat McElraft, the sponsor of the 2012 bill, said at the time, according to Reuters. “They need to use some science that we can all trust when we start making laws in North Carolina that affect property values on the coast.”

The legislation was passed by the Republican-controlled state legislature and allowed to become law by the then governor Bev Perdue, a Democrat who neither signed nor vetoed the bill.

The law required the coastal resources commission to put out another study in 2015, looking at expected sea level rise.

That report looked only 30 years ahead, rather than a century. It found that the rise in sea level during that time was likely to be roughly 6in to 8in, with higher increases possible in parts of the Outer Banks.

Some outside studies have offered more dire warnings. A report last year by the Union of Concerned Scientists said 13 North Carolina communities were likely to be “chronically inundated” with seawater by 2035.

The state’s stance has shifted under the current governor, Roy Cooper, a Democrat who took office last year.

Cooper announced last September that North Carolina would join the US Climate Alliance, a group of states that have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the goals of the Paris climate accord, even though Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement.

“We remain committed to reducing pollution and protecting our environment,” Cooper said. “So much of North Carolina’s economy relies on protecting our treasured natural resources.”

But Orrin Pilkey, a retired Duke University coastal geologist, wrote in a recent op-ed in the News & Observer that the state has still failed to take the steps that communities in Virginia and New Jersey have taken, to prepare for rising sea levels.

“Instead coastal development flourishes as more beachfront buildings, highways and bridges are built to ease access to our beautiful beaches,” he wrote. “Currently the unspoken plan is to wait until the situation is catastrophic and then respond.”

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« Reply #4328 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:40 AM »

Harvey Weinstein paws #MeToo accuser in video

Footage shows film mogul appearing to proposition and repeatedly stroking the arm of Melissa Thompson who says he raped her afterwards

Associated Press in New York
Thu 13 Sep 2018 04.00 BST

A video of Harvey Weinstein shows him appearing to proposition and repeatedly stroking the arm of a woman who later accused him of rape.

Melissa Thompson, who sued Weinstein in June, said she made the recording, shown by Sky News, https://news.sky.com/story/world-exclusive-video-shows-harvey-weinstein-behaving-inappropriately-with-businesswoman-11496038,  while demonstrating video technology for the movie mogul at his New York City office in 2011.

Weinstein is seen on the video rejecting a handshake from Thompson and then hugging her instead and rubbing her back. He touches her shoulder as they sit side by side in front of her laptop computer.

At one point he tells her: “Let me have a little part of you. Can you give it to me?”

Thompson says that after agreeing to use the technology to promote his movies, Weinstein put his hand up her dress. The video only captures the two from the waist up but does show Thompson reacting with discomfort and telling Weinstein: “That’s too high. That’s too high.”

It also shows her joking about his advances, saying that “data is hot”.

Sky News aired only portions of the video. Weinstein’s lawyer said the full video “demonstrates that there is nothing forceful” and shows “casual, if not awkward, flirting from both parties”.

“Anything short of that is intended to make Mr Weinstein appear inappropriate and even exploitative,” lawyer Ben Brafman said. “It was produced by Ms Thompson to bolster her position in a civil lawsuit seeking money. This is a further attempt to publicly disgrace Mr Weinstein for financial gain and we will not stand for it. Facts do matter.”

In an interview with Sky News, Thompson said Weinstein’s behaviour was distracting and she struggled to stay “on script” with the product pitch. She said his affect changed from the start of the meeting, his eyes darkened and he “looked like a predator”.

Thompson said she later met Weinstein at a nearby hotel bar where she expected to close the technology deal. She said Weinstein led her to a hotel room and raped her.

Along the way, she said, he rebuffed her attempts to fight or get away. “If I would try to fight myself away from him, he would then move around to where he could block me in somewhere, and he’s a big individual,” Thompson told Sky News. “I constantly felt trapped, no matter where I turned.”

Weinstein has been charged in New York with sexually assaulting three women. Thompson is not among them. Separately, a federal judge in Manhattan is deciding whether a civil lawsuit brought by six women against both Weinstein and men on the board of his film company should go forward.

Thompson, who had previously worked on Wall Street, rejected suggestions that she encouraged Weinstein’s behaviour. She told Sky News she wanted to keep the conversation professional and politely pushed back at his advances while also trying to preserve the deal.

“I never met anyone that I couldn’t handle until Harvey Weinstein,” she said. “We don’t have to live with being raped when we think we’re going to a business meeting.”

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« Reply #4329 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:43 AM »

Serena Williams and the epidemic of policing black women’s anger

Black women have a right to display the full gamut of human emotion

Shanon Lee
September 13 2018

Malcolm X famously said black women are the most disrespected, unprotected and neglected people in America.

Sadly, some things remain the same.

Naomi Osaka became the 2018 U.S. Open women’s champion after defeating her childhood idol, Serena Williams, during the finals on Saturday. But Osaka’s win was overshadowed by a series of heated exchanges between Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

Japan's Naomi Osaka held her trophy after beating her tennis idol, Serena Williams, in a dramatic U.S. Open final on Sept. 8. (Reuters)

“I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose,” said Williams, when Ramos assessed her a coaching violation after her longtime coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, motioned from the player’s box that Williams should go to the net more often. Her second violation was issued after she destroyed her racket in a fit of anger. Her third, after calling Ramos a “thief” for taking a point away from her.

She was later fined $17,000.

While her behavior may have broken the rules, sports fans quickly cited examples of male tennis players that received far better treatment for worse behavior. Tennis icon John McEnroe was known for his violent outbursts on the court and labeled a bullying, bitter, selfish jerk by Sports Illustrated.

More recently, Rafael Nadal threatened Ramos over what he deemed a bad call, claiming he felt unfairly targeted. Reportedly, Ramos only gave Nadal a soft warning. Though Ramos has a history of clashes with players, many in the court of public opinion believe he went too far with Williams during the U.S. Open.

While some chalk the confrontation up to sexism, what Williams has faced from the beginning of her career is more complex. She is an emboldened black woman setting records in a predominately white sport, while trying to navigate a combination of racism and sexism, also known as misogynoir.

Despite facing the policing of her attire and racial slurs, Williams has earned her place as a crowd favorite and a media darling partly because of how she navigates adversity. What Williams claims she experienced during the U.S. Open is not uncommon.

Black women experience misogynoir in work environments across America. Look at the Twitter hashtags #BlackWomenAtWork, #WorkingWhileBlack, and #BlackWomensEqualPay and you will find stories detailing the constant microaggressions, harassment and blatant discrimination black women are forced to suffer in order to remain employed.

Though we have the highest participation rate for women in the labor market, black women make 63 percent of what white men are paid and are significantly underrepresented in leadership roles. Young black women are developing heart disease and dying due to chronic stress partly contributed to racism.

Yet, black women are not allowed to be angry.

I was reminded of what happens to the Angry Black Woman during a recent screening of “The Color Purple.” Sophia, played by Oprah Winfrey, was punished for being a black woman that openly displayed her anger. After leaving her husband for trying to beat her into subservience, she is imprisoned for fighting back while being beaten for publicly insulting the mayor’s wife.

Later in the film, we see a docile Sophia broken by her injuries and years spent in prison, working for the mayor’s wife as originally ordered.

“The Color Purple” may have been set in the early 20th century, but it depicts some of the issues black women still face today.

The media constantly reinforces the message that what is demanded of us is unwavering strength, poise and diplomacy even in the face of extreme injustice.

Outside of anger, what Williams modeled on Saturday was the willingness to advocate for herself. Most black women learn early that we must do so because no one else will. Some of us were raised by mothers and grandmothers that taught us when to ask, when to tell and when to demand.

After code-switching, fighting racism, surviving misogyny and sexual violence, being the backbone of the black community, protecting black men, dominating music and sports, serving as cultural trendsetters and leading the nation’s largest civil rights movements while being undervalued and underpaid, we are sick and tired.

Black women have a right to display the full gamut of human emotion, and when we experience injustice we have a right to be angry.

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« Reply #4330 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:45 AM »

Can Anyone Stop Australia’s Slut Shaming?

Following a spate of sexist taunts, one politician who was told to “stop shagging men” is fighting back.

By Julia Baird

Julia Baird is a journalist at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the author of “Media Tarts: How the Australian Press Frames Female Politicians.”

Sept. 13, 2018
NY Times

SYDNEY, Australia — Slut shaming — that is, turning women’s sexuality into a weapon that can be used against them — may be a new term, but it is an ancient practice in Australia.

The first ship to arrive here after the First Fleet, which brought our earliest settlers, was the Lady Juliana, in 1790, which carried female convicts and is to this day referred to as a “floating brothel.”

As recorded by the historian Sian Rees, the passage of these women — many of them former London prostitutes who had been banished to the colonies as penance — exemplified the true burden of slut shaming: its permanence.

“It was a regrettable fact,” Ms. Rees wrote in “The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts,” “that disgraced females found ‘their character is utterly gone, may never be retrieved’, whereas disgraced males ‘after many errors, may reform and be admitted into that same society and meet with a cordial reception as before’ — but there it was, nature’s way.”

Today, “nature’s way” abides. We witness prominent men cheat on their wives or girlfriends, or otherwise make evident that they are sexual beings, without such revelations leading to convulsions. Women who do the same, however, are still pilloried: sluts, whores, tarts, strumpets, harlots, trollops.

In recent weeks, slut shaming has become a household term in Australia, thanks to the vile public taunting of two of our female politicians.

The most recent target was the Labor politician Emma Husar. When Ms. Husar found out that she had been publicly accused by a former staffer of exposing her genitals to another colleague while his young child was present, she walked to the bathroom in her Sydney home and vomited.

Perhaps it’s because she knew what was coming next. Many watched aghast as Ms. Husar, a single mother who had been a victim of domestic violence for decades, was trampled underfoot by a phalanx of camera operators and anonymous party operatives. A few days later, following a deluge of sensational stories about Ms. Husar “executing a Sharon Stone move,” and continuous leaks from her own party to the press about an investigation into her workplace conduct, she announced she would not run again for Parliament.

For the record, Ms. Husar told me the flashing allegation was “1000 percent fabricated” by a complainant who was not even present on the occasion he says it occurred; she pointed out that, given that she’d recently injured her knee and wears only pencil skirts, “it was physically impossible.” Two days after she announced she was leaving, the investigation’s findings were released: There was “merit” to staff complaints of “unreasonable management,” but the allegations of sexual harassment and exposing herself were unfounded.

But it was too late. The maelstrom left her reputation “in smithereens,” Ms. Husar said, beyond repair. She has admitted there were “things she could have done better” but in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, she said that what brought her political career to an end was “being slut shamed so viciously, with no ability to come back and stand up for myself” that it was “almost a method of torture.” And the general public had only seen the very worst of it: In reality, she said, it began the moment she started working as a politician, with an unnerving stream of rumors about her alleged sexual partners circulated in Parliament by colleagues, both in her party and outside it.

If the case of Ms. Husar demonstrates how quickly anything hinting at her sexuality — whether grounded in truth or not — can crush a woman’s career, the case of another politician, Sarah Hanson-Young, provides a glimmer of hope that women can begin to erode the impact of slut shaming by naming it, condemning it, and discrediting those who seek to stigmatize them by employing it.

In June, Ms. Hanson-Young, another female politician and single mother, was told to “stop shagging men” by a fellow senator during a parliamentary debate. The ugly spectacle of disrespect played out over several days.

Ms. Hanson-Young, 36, a senator for the Greens Party, had been participating in a debate on how to stop violence against women. Just as she was making the point that, instead of focusing on arming women against attacks, we should work on preventing men from attacking them, Senator David Leyonhjelm called out from across the chamber, “Stop shagging men, Sarah.”

Mr. Leyonhjelm has refused to apologize, claiming that his remarks were justified because Ms. Hanson-Young was accusing all men of being rapists. (She was not.) Instead, he has embarked on a media campaign during which he has repeated his innuendos about Ms. Hanson-Young’s sexuality. He told male presenters on Sky News that Ms. Hanson-Young was known for “liking men” around Canberra, and that the rumors were “well-known.”

Ms. Hanson-Young announced in July that she was suing Mr. Leyonhjelm for defamation. It’s rare for a journalist to support such a suit — but women in politics have historically had so little recourse against such obscenities that it seems fair. If she is successful — if she can wrestle this archaic weapon, slut shaming, away from her tormentor and perhaps manage to fire it back at him — she will set a new precedent. (She has reportedly just offered to settle the case for $75,000 with a verdict in her favor.)

While powerful women are being shamed for things they did not do in Australia, women whose sexuality has intersected with politics are now being taken seriously in America. Where just a few decades ago, women like Gennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky were belittled, porn star Stormy Daniels is being held aloft like a homecoming queen, photographed by Annie Leibovitz while wearing Zac Posen for Vogue. Perhaps America has learned something.

Here, however, the potency of slut shaming stems from its enduring nature. Prominent men can shrug off trysts or cheating or scandals as male behavior — or, as Nationals M.P. Barnaby Joyce said after impregnating a staffer, a symptom of the “loneliness” of higher office — then return to work. Mr. Joyce may have lost his position as deputy prime minister, but he is still in Parliament, and he still has a platform in politics. But when prominent women are accused of remiss sexual behavior, the accusation is often enough to stain a reputation in perpetuity.

Take Candice Warner, the wife of the former vice captain of the Australian cricket team, David Warner, and an athlete in her own right. (She’s a former Ironwoman.) Eleven years ago, before she married and had children with Mr. Warner, a photograph, captured by a member of the public, of her entwined with a rugby player, Sonny Bill Williams, in a toilet cubicle was made public.

This past spring, while Mr. Warner was playing in South Africa, members of the opposing team used the episode to taunt him about his wife’s sexual past. Grotesquely, spectators wore masks of Mr. Williams’ face. Mr. Warner got into multiple angry altercations as a result. After Mr. Warner, in the same series, participated in an episode of ball-tampering, his wife blamed herself, saying her actions more than a decade ago put him in a bad “head space.” She said that the guilt was “killing me,” and that she was “a wreck.” Ms. Warner even went so far as to apologize to Mr. Williams for the strain the fans’ taunting of her had caused him.

It’s hard to imagine that all those cricket players are pristine, or celibate. And yet somehow, the sexual past of one of their wives, an episode that took place when she was 22, becomes material with which he can be sledged.

This is why Ms. Hanson-Young’s case is crucial: If there are consequences for trying to shut down or shame women on the grounds of sexuality, even if it’s just vehement, broad public disapprobation, the weapon will be blunted. It’s risible to think that in 2018 a woman’s character can be impugned by suggesting she might have sex. It’s not “nature’s way.” It’s ludicrous.

Julia Baird (@bairdjulia), a contributing opinion writer, is a journalist at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

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« Reply #4331 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:50 AM »

Text messages urge Zambians to report online child abuse

Alerts sent to every citizen encourage use of portal where illegal images and videos can be flagged up anonymously

Rebecca Ratcliffe
Thu 13 Sep 2018 11.18 BST

Text messages urging people to report online child abuse were sent to every Zambian national on Tuesday, as the country launched a crackdown on illegal images.

Zambia is the latest southern African country to set up a portal for reporting abusive images or videos that allows members of the public to report online content anonymously. Disclosures will be analysed by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a British charity that works with internet companies, governments and law enforcement to remove illegal images.

The initiative is intended to create stronger safeguards as internet access widens across Zambia, where an estimated one in five people are online.

“Increasingly, children in Zambia have access to mobile phones and mobile internet. Their safety online is paramount,” said Muyeba Chikonde, the high commissioner for Zambia in the UK, who explained that some people were reluctant to come forward.

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« Reply #4332 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:52 AM »

'No need for birth control': Tanzanian president's views cause outrage

John Magufuli says people who use contraceptives are lazy, and outsiders who promote birth control are giving bad advice

Rebecca Ratcliffe
13 Sep 2018 13.33 BST

Women’s rights campaigners have expressed outrage after the Tanzanian president said there is no need for birth control.

The president, John Magufuli, told a rally in Meatu, in the Simiyu region, that outsiders who promote birth control are giving bad advice, and that people who use contraceptives are lazy, according to local media.

“You people of Meatu keep livestock. You are good farmers. You can feed your children. Why would you opt for birth control? These are my views, but I don’t see any need for birth control in Tanzania,” he said.

People who use birth control do so because they do not want to work hard and feed a large family, he added.

The Citizen newspaper, which reported the comments, said there was no indication the statement will lead to a change in national policy. But campaigners fear Magufuli’s speech may influence services offered in some areas.

“It’s a statement by a sitting head of state at a time when Tanzania takes every statement that he issues to be law,” said Judy Gitau, regional coordinator for Africafor the charity Equality Now. “From past experiences whenever the president issues a statement on a given issue, in practice it becomes policy, and so we can expect ramifications.”

Backtracking from commitments on family planning will have a devastating impact on women’s rights, she said: “We will end up with women having unplanned children, huge families and unable to sustain their lives.”

    The issue of contraception in Tanzania is a man’s decision
    Petrider Paul, gender equality activist

Tanzania has ratified the Maputo Protocol, which states that women have the right to control their fertility and chose any method of contraception. But access to services is limited, said Jennifer Kayombo, a youth activist in sexual and reproductive health and rights and sustainable development goal ambassador in Tanzania. “We still have less centres compared to demand for family planning services, and few numbers of youth-friendly service providers,” she said.

A third of women in Tanzania use family planning, according to the UN population fund, UNFPA, with access most limited in rural areas. On average, women give birth to five children.

Petrider Paul, a gender equality activist in Tanzania, said the president’s comments could be used to further undermine women’s reproductive rights. “The whole issue of contraception in Tanzania is a man’s decision. A woman cannot make her own decision to use contraceptives without the approval of the man,” said Paul. “Most men will be boastful: ‘The president has said this, we should keep producing more children. Why should we use birth control?’.”

Magufuli told the rally he had seen the harmful effects of birth control in Europe, where countries have declining population growth and no labour force. But Justa Mwaituka, the executive director of the NGO Kiota Women’s Health and Development, said birth control can be used to support large, healthy families by allowing mothers to space out pregnancies.

“Spacing [through birth control] promotes enough time for breastfeeding. A woman can at least breastfeed her child for two to two and half years as it’s recommended by the World Health Organisation,” she said.

Gitau said the situation facing Tanzanian women and girls is dire, and deteriorating.

Last year, the Magufuli commented that pregnant school girls should be banned from school, telling a rally: “As long as I am president … no pregnant student will be allowed to return to school … After getting pregnant, you are done.” Human rights groups have tried unsuccessfully to challenge the ban in the courts.

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« Reply #4333 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:54 AM »

Romania: mayor urges powerful party leader to resign

New Europe

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — The mayor of Bucharest launched an attack on the powerful leader of Romania's ruling party, saying he should resign for the good of "the party and country." Mayor Gabriela Firea accused Social Democratic Party chairman Liviu Dragnea of running the party in an underhand way, and of indirectly blocking city hall projects. Firea is also a member of the party.

In public, "everything is 'milk and honey' but underground in the meetings he has with a few aides, decisions are totally different," she said late Tuesday in an interview with public television TVR. "I think (him) stepping down would benefit the party and the country."

According to polls, Firea is the party's most popular figure. Dragnea, who keeps a tight rein on the party, can't be prime minister due to a 2016 conviction for vote-rigging. Criticism has mounted against Dragnea since an anti-corruption protest last month that drew tens of thousands degenerated into violence that left some 450 people needing medical treatment.

On Wednesday, the opposition Liberal Party filed a motion in Parliament calling for Interior Minister Carmen Dan to be removed. The Liberals said protesters "were hit and attacked with tear gas," and said Dan, a Dragnea aide, was responsible for the violence.

"We won't ever tolerate innocent Romanians being hit over the head with rubber truncheons. This isn't the country we chose to build after the 1989 revolution," a Liberal Party statement said.

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« Reply #4334 on: Sep 13, 2018, 04:56 AM »

GCHQ data collection violated human rights, Strasbourg court rules

Spies breached right to privacy in programme revealed by Edward Snowden, judges say

Owen Bowcott Legal affairs correspondent
Thu 13 Sep 2018 11.06 BST

GCHQ’s methods in carrying out bulk interception of online communications violated privacy and failed to provide sufficient surveillance safeguards, the European court of human rights has ruled in a test case judgment.

But the Strasbourg court found that GCHQ’s regime for sharing sensitive digital intelligence with foreign governments was not illegal.

It is the first major challenge to the legality of UK intelligence agencies intercepting private communications in bulk, following Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing revelations.

The long-awaited ruling is one of the most comprehensive assessments by the ECHR of the legality of the interception operations operated by UK intelligence agencies.

The claims, which had already been heard by the UK’s investigatory powers tribunal, were brought by a coalition of 14 human rights groups, privacy organisations and journalists, including Amnesty International, Liberty, Privacy International and Big Brother Watch.

The judges considered three aspects of digital surveillance: bulk interception of communications, intelligence sharing and obtaining of communications data from communications service providers.

By a majority of five to two votes, the Strasbourg judges found that GCHQ’s bulk interception regime violated article 8 of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees privacy, because there were said to be insufficient safeguards, and rules governing the selection of “related communications data” were deemed to be inadequate.

The regime for sharing intelligence with foreign governments operated by the UK government did not, however, violate either article 8 or article 10.

The legal challenge was triggered by revelations made by Snowden in 2013, which showed GCHQ, the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, was secretly intercepting, processing and storing data about millions of people’s private communications, even when those people were of no intelligence interest. One of the operations was called Tempora, in which GCHQ was tapping into the cables and communication networks on the internet to obtain huge volumes of data

“The United Kingdom authorities have neither confirmed nor denied the existence of an operation codenamed Tempora,” the ECHR judgment notes.

The case concerned the interception regime previously operated by GCHQ. New regulations are in the process of coming into force under the the Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The Strasbourg court did not examine the new legislation.

In accompanying notes to the main judgment, which runs to more than 500 paragraphs, the court said it recognised the severity of the threats of terrorism, online sexual abuse and other crimes faced by European states. Advancements in technology had made it easier for terrorists and criminals to evade detection on the internet, the judges acknowledged.

Bulk interception regimes can be legal if countries deem them to be necessary in the interests of national security but certain minimum safeguards are required.

Those safeguards include that the law must indicate “the nature of offences which may give rise to an interception order; a definition of the categories of people liable to have their communications intercepted; a limit on the duration of interception; the procedure to be followed for examining, using and storing the data obtained; the precautions to be taken when communicating the data to other parties; and the circumstances in which intercepted data may or must be erased or destroyed”.

The judgment was critical of interception warrants obtained under section 8(4) of Ripa, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act). Such warrants do not need to name or describe the person subject to interception or the premises involved.

The judges said: “While the court does not doubt that related communications data is an essential tool for the intelligence services in the fight against terrorism and serious crime, it does not consider that the authorities have struck a fair balance between the competing public and private interests by exempting it in its entirety from the safeguards applicable to the searching and examining of content.”

Megan Goulding, a lawyer for Liberty, said: “This is a major victory for the rights and freedom of people in the UK. It shows that there is – and should be – a limit to the extent that states can spy on their citizens.

“Police and intelligence agencies need covert surveillance powers to tackle the threats we face today – but the court has ruled that those threats do not justify spying on every citizen without adequate protections.

“Our government has built a surveillance regime more extreme than that of any other democratic nation, abandoning the very rights and freedoms terrorists want to attack. It can and must give us an effective, targeted system that protects our safety, data security and fundamental rights.”

Lucy Claridge from Amnesty International, said: “Today’s ruling represents a significant step forward in the protection of privacy and freedom of expression worldwide. It sends a strong message to the UK government that its use of extensive surveillance powers is abusive and runs against the very principles that it claims to be defending.”

Dan Carey of Deighton Pierce Glynn, the solicitor representing some of applicants, said: “The court has put down a marker that the UK government does not have a free hand with the public’s communications and that in several key respects the UK’s laws and surveillance practices have failed. In particular, there needs to be much greater control over the search terms that the government is using to sift our communications.”

Jim Killock, executive director of Open Rights Group, said: “Viewers of the BBC drama, the Bodyguard, may be shocked to know that the UK actually has the most extreme surveillance powers in a democracy. Since we brought this case in 2013, the UK has actually increased its powers to indiscriminately surveil our communications whether or not we are suspected of any criminal activity. In light of today’s judgment, it is even clearer that these powers do not meet the criteria for proportionate surveillance and that the UK government is continuing to breach our right to privacy.”

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