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Author Topic: ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE, GLOBAL WARMING, AND CULTURE  (Read 679312 times)
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Darja
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« Reply #4380 on: Jan 13, 2018, 06:49 AM »

Donald Trump Flushes Away America’s Reputation

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
NY Times
JAN. 13, 2018

For a fleeting moment Tuesday, President Trump seemed to signal he would do the right thing on immigration. At a 90-minute meeting with congressional Republicans and Democrats, much of it televised, he said he’d be willing to “take the heat” for a broad immigration deal of the sort urgently needed by the country and despised by his hard-core base.

Alas, it was all a charade. The real Donald Trump was back two days later with his now notorious “shithole” remark, asking why the United States should accept people from places like Haiti or Africa instead of nice Nordic countries like Norway, and then tweeting his tiresome demands for a “Great Wall” along the Mexican border.

Never mind that Norwegians are not clamoring to leave what is rated as the happiest nation on earth, and setting aside renewed questions about Mr. Trump’s fitness, the flip-flop left the issue of immigration more confused than before.

Where to begin? How about with a simple observation: The president of the United States is a racist. And another: The United States has a long and ugly history of excluding immigrants based on race or national origin. Mr. Trump seems determined to undo efforts taken by presidents of both parties in recent decades to overcome that history.

Mr. Trump denied making the remarks on Friday, but Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who attended the meeting, said the president did in fact say these “hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”

Of course he did. Remember, Mr. Trump is not just racist, ignorant, incompetent and undignified. He’s also a liar.

Even the president’s most sycophantic defenders didn’t bother denying the reports. Instead they justified them. Places like Haiti really are terrible, they reminded us. Never mind that many native-born Americans are descended from immigrants who fled countries (including Norway in the second half of the 19th century) that were considered hellholes at the time.

No one is denying that Haiti and some of these other countries have profound problems today. Of course, those problems are often a direct result of policies and actions of the United States and European nations: to name just a few, kidnapping and enslaving their citizens; plundering their natural resources; propping up their dictators and corrupt regimes; and holding them financially hostage for generations.

The United States has long held itself out as a light among nations based on the American ideal of equality. But the deeper history tells a different story.

The sociologists David Scott FitzGerald and David Cook-Martin have shown that the United States pioneered racially based exclusionary immigration policies in the Americas in the late 18th and 19th centuries. (Not long before he was elected president, for example, Theodore Roosevelt asserted the bigoted but then-common view that the Chinese should be kept out of America because they were “racially inferior.”)

It should sober Americans to know that authoritarian governments in Chile, Cuba and Uruguay ended racist immigration policies decades before the United States.

The current turmoil over immigration conflates several separate issues. One is DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has provided temporary work permits and reprieves from deportation for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. These are the so-called Dreamers, who number about 800,000.

Another issue is the Temporary Protected Status program under which undocumented foreigners who were in the United States when disaster or conflict struck their homeland are allowed to remain in the United States. In November, the Trump administration ended the protection for about 60,000 Haitians, and on Monday the administration lifted it for almost 200,000 Salvadorans, most of whom have been in the United States for two decades.

A third issue is the future of the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants who have come to the United States over decades and have effectively integrated into American life. The Trump administration has ordered a broad immigration crackdown against them.

And finally there’s President Trump’s imagined wall.

What is concerning is not the wall, or the word “shithole” or the vacillation on the Dreamers or the Salvadorans. It’s what ties all of these things together: the bigoted worldview of the man behind them.

Anyone who has followed Mr. Trump over the years knows this. We knew it in the 1970s, when he and his father were twice sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent apartments to black people. We knew it in 1989, when he took out a full-page newspaper ad calling for the execution of five black and Latino teenagers charged with the brutal rape of a white woman in Central Park. (The men were convicted but later exonerated by DNA and other evidence, but Mr. Trump never apologized, and he continued to argue as late as 2016 that the men were guilty.) We knew it when he built a presidential campaign by demonizing Mexicans and Muslims while promoting the lie that America’s first black president wasn’t born here. Or when, last summer, he defended marchers in a neo-Nazi parade as “very fine people.”

Just last month, The Times reported on an Oval Office meeting on immigration during which Mr. Trump said that the 15,000 Haitians now living in the United States “all have AIDS,” and that Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts” in Africa once they had seen the United States. See a pattern yet?

Donald Trump is by no means America’s first racist president. But he ran a campaign explicitly rooted in bigotry, exclusion and white resentment. To his die-hard but ever-shrinking base, comments like those he made Thursday only reaffirm his solidarity with the cause. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, certainly saw it this way. “This is encouraging and refreshing, as it indicates Trump is more or less on the same page as us with regards to race and immigration,” the site wrote in a post.

The meeting at which Mr. Trump spewed his vulgarity was meant to be a discussion of bipartisan immigration proposals by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Mr. Durbin. Two other Republicans, John Kasich and Jeb Bush Jr., are the authors of an Op-Ed article in Thursday’s Times arguing against the forced expulsion of undocumented immigrants who have made a home in the United States. This shouldn’t be a hard call, especially with the economy growing modestly but steadily and unemployment hovering around 4 percent.

Instead, Republicans in Congress are spending most of their time finding ways to avoid talking about their openly bigoted chief executive. Some claimed not to have heard what Mr. Trump said. Others offered tepid defenses of his “salty” talk. House Speaker Paul Ryan called Mr. Trump’s comments “unhelpful,” clearly wishing he could return to his daily schedule of enriching the wealthiest Americans.

Mr. Trump has made clear that he has no useful answers on immigration. It’s up to Congress to fashion long-term, humane solutions. A comprehensive immigration bill that resolves all these issues would be best. But if that is not possible, given the resistance of hard-core anti-immigration activists in Congress, legislators should at least join forces to protect the Dreamers, Salvadorans, Haitians and others threatened by the administration’s cruel and chaotic actions.

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'There's no other word but racist': Trump's global rebuke for 'shithole' remark

US diplomats around the world were summoned for formal reproach, amid global shock over Trump calling African nations, Haiti and El Salvador ‘shitholes’

Patrick Wintour, Jason Burke and Anna Livsey
Guardian
Sat 13 Jan 2018 10.38 GMT

Donald Trump has been branded a shocking and shameful racist after it was credibly reported he had described African nations, as well as Haiti and El Salvador as “shitholes” and questioned why so many of their citizens had ever been permitted to enter America.

US diplomats around the world were summoned for formal reproach, amid global shock that such crude remarks could ever be made in a semi-public meeting by the president of America.

In a strongly-worded statement, the UN said it was impossible to describe his remarks as anything other than racist, while the Vatican decried Trump’s words as “particularly harsh and offensive”.

The 55-nation African Union said the remarks were “clearly racist”.

Trump initially allowed reported accounts of his comments to go unchallenged, but went into damage limitation mode on Friday, insisting he had not used derogatory words – but admitting that the language he had used at a meeting with Senators on immigration was “tough”.

But the democratic senator Dick Durbin – who was present at the meeting with Trump on Thursday – insisted that the reports were entirely accurate.

He said “those hate-filled things and did so repeatedly”.

“Shithole was the exact word used once not twice but repeatedly,” Durbin said, adding that the word was specifically used in the context of African countries.

The UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, told a Geneva news briefing: “There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”

Salvador Sánchez, the president of El Salvador, said Trump’s words had “struck at the dignity of Salvadorans”.

“El Salvador formally protests and energetically rejects this kind of comment,” Sánchez wrote on Twitter.

US diplomats and the US embassy in San Salvador sought to assure those in El Salvador of their respect for the country. Jean Manes, the US envoy to El Salvador, tweeted in Spanish: “I have had the privilege to travel around this beautiful country and meet thousands of Salvadorans. It is an honour to live and work here. We remain 100% committed.”

Robin Diallo, the US chargé d’affaires to Haiti, was summoned to meet the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, to discuss the remarks. The former Haitian president Laurent Lamothe expressed his dismay, saying Trump had shown “a lack of respect and ignorance”.

Across Africa there was diplomatic fury. Botswana’s government called Trump’s comment “reprehensible and racist” and said the US ambassador had been summoned to clarify whether the nation was regarded as a “shithole” country after years of cordial relations. Uganda’s state minister for international relations, Henry Okello Oryem, called the remarks “unfortunate and regrettable”.

The African Union said it was alarmed by Trump’s language. “Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice,” its spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo told Associated Press.

Jessie Duarte, the deputy secretary general of South Africa’s ruling ANC, said: “Ours is not a shithole country; neither is Haiti or any other country in distress. It’s not as if the United States doesn’t have problems. There is unemployment in the US, there are people who don’t have healthcare services.”

The leader of South Africa’s main opposition party, Mmusi Maimane, described the comments as “abhorrent”. He tweeted of Trump:

    Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane)

    The comments referred to here are abhorrent. He confirms a patronizing view of Africa and promotes a racist agenda. Africa/US relations will take strain from this, with a leader who has failed to reconcile humanity. The hatred of Obama’s roots now extends to an entire continent https://t.co/Kq09tVu0Bo
    January 12, 2018

The US state department tried to pour water on the flames, issuing a tweet from its Bureau of African Affairs saying that “the United States will continue to robustly, enthusiastically and forcefully engage in #Africa, promoting this vital relationship”.

Mexico’s former president, Vicente Fox, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump, said in a colourful tweet that “America’s greatness was built on diversity”. He added Trump’s mouth was “the foulest shithole in the world. With what authority do you announce who is welcome in America and who is not? America’s greatness is based on diversity, or have you forgotten your migration background, Donald?”

David Miliband, the president of the International Rescue Committee, said Trump’s comments were leading a “race to the bottom on refugees”.

Trump has made few references to Africa since his election, and many senior Africa-focused posts in his administration remain unfilled.

In September, he appeared to invent a new country called Nambia while addressing African leaders in Washington. Trump also told them: “I have so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. It has a tremendous business potential.”

The US government’s Africa Media Hub made an effort to limit the diplomatic damage of the president’s words.

Without directly referring to Trump’s statement, a tweet said the “US remains committed to working together w/Africans to realize the promise of a more peaceful, more productive, more prosperous 21st century Africa. US deeply respects the people of #Africa & values its partnerships with them.”

Boniface Mwangi, a well-known social activist in Kenya tweeted:

    Boniface Mwangi (@bonifacemwangi)

    Africa isn’t a shithole. It’s the most beautiful continent in the world. Beautiful,hardworking people. We have diamonds, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum, cocoa, coffee, tea etc. Sadly we have #shithole leaders like Trump shitting on us everyday. pic.twitter.com/Vv4Wgtq4Pk
    January 12, 2018

Standing at a coffee stall outside an office block in Rosebank, a commercial and business neighbourhood in central Johannesburg, Blessing Dlamini, a 45-year-old administrative assistant, said Trump’s words came as “no surprise”.

“He has shown the world he is a racist. We should just block him from our thoughts,” Dlamini said.

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Republicans will put up with Trump’s ‘sh*thole’ comment

Newsweek
12 Jan 2018 at 17:22 ET  

The debate over the 2016 election will continue to rage for years to come, I have no doubt, but one thing we can now say for sure: Those who defended, deflected, rationalized or overlooked candidate Donald Trump’s completely obvious racism were wrong. Further, in being wrong, Republicans are now going to overcompensate for the present moment by doubling down on the monstrosity that is Trump’s presidency, most recently demonstrated by his remark Thursday referring to nonwhite countries as “shitholes.”

The result is a presidency whose end is being hastened by its namesake, and a Republican Party staving off the inevitable long enough to extract as much as it can while it can. In short, the GOP is playing a very short game.

The Republicans know more than we do about Trump’s overseas financial ties and campaign operatives possibly conspiring with Russian agents to move the electorate against Hillary Clinton. Slowly but surely, special counsel Robert Mueller is reaching into Trump’s inner circle, even raising the prospect of interviewing the president himself. It stands to reason the Republicans knew in December that none of this can endure. If they were going to deliver tax cuts to their mega-donors, it had to be a rush job, even if that meant vaporizing norms, violating traditions and losing control of the House.

Their understanding doesn’t stop there. The Republicans know the president’s mental fitness is worth questioning, but were able to deny that fact until Michael Wolff spoiled things with the publication of Fire and Fury. Making matters worse was Trump's insistence on holding televised discussions Wednesday with Congressional Democrats in order to prove he's a "very stable genius." House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy kept him on course by practically screeching to remind him a clean bill on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is not in the GOP's interest. Steven Bannon, too, might have been signaling his awareness of end times, when he told Wolff that Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian agents was "unpatriotic." What do you do when the president's fugue state threatens to bring it all down? Accuse his eldest son of treason.

Bannon’s in good company. According to Axios, “more than half a dozen of the more skilled White House staff are contemplating imminent departures. Many leaving are quite fearful about the next chapter of the Trump presidency.” As the next chapter looms large, the president is increasingly isolated himself—literally. He holes up daily for hours in his residence at the White House, calling people (who in turn leak those calls to the press), watching Fox and tweeting.

The more Americans see of Trump, the less they like. CNN's Ronald Brownstein argued the Republicans "have already placed the bets most likely to determine their fate in November's midterm election.” Washington Monthly’s Marty Longman put a finer point on it : “The Republicans are looking to achieve as much as they can while they have their majorities rather than trimming their sails in the effort to maintain their majorities.”

This presidency is entering a kind of political hospice care, in which Trump's attorneys reportedly lie to him to prevent him from firing Mueller, thus hastening their client's demise, while the Republicans focus on keeping the presidency alive long enough to maximize the value of their inheritance.

Again, it's a very short game, and very high risks. Perhaps the Republicans believe they can ask for forgiveness later. But this confidence depends on two things: Trump and the Democrats’ willingness to impeach him.

It is January, and we have—as of right now—a year’s worth of reasons to impeach, and another year to go before the midterms. It stands to reason we are going to see many more turning points a la “shithole countries.” It looks like 2018 is lost for the Republicans. If 2019 is the year of impeachment in the House, that's means 2020 will be lost too. 2024 is a long time from now, but that might be the price the Republicans pay for choosing to smash and grab.

John Stoehr is a fellow at the Yale Journalism Initiative, a contributing writer for the  Washington Monthly , an essayist for the  New Haven Register  and a U.S. News & World Report  contributing editor.

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Ex-GOP Rep rips ‘racist’ Trump and his defenders: He’s consistently ‘expressed an ideology’ where rich, white people are better

Raw Story
12 Jan 2018 at 15:03 ET                  

Former GOP Rep. David Jolly on Friday tore into Donald Trump and his defenders, calling the president’s “sh*thole” remarks “racist” and arguing he’s consistently “expressed an ideology” where white people are valued more than people of color.

“Let’s be honest, this is an embarrassing day to be a Republican,” Jolly told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin. “And for rational Republicans, you should be angry today. I believe the president’s comments, if they were made, were racist.”

“Even if you do not, if you are a defender of Donald Trump, here’s the important thing,” Jolly continued. “We know our president, through word and deed over the past two years, has certainly expressed an ideology based upon a certain social hierarchy, a construct, where white people of European decent, particularly those of wealth, have a different place in society than poor people of color.”

Jolly explained what’s even more insidious than Trump’s rampant racism is the fact that “this is someone directing the policy of the United States” and “crafting legislation with the Hill that will effect millions of lives, particularly poor people of color.”

“As a Republican party, we went from a leader in Bush 43 who challenged, challenged the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations,’ to a president in Donald Trump who pedals the hard bigotry of no expectations for people of color,” Jolly declared.

CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill told Baldwin Trump may be “fully aware of the hurt that he’s causing and simply indifferent to the suffering of of other people,” adding he’s “consistently shown indifference and actual angst and actual anger and actual hatred toward people of color around the world.”

Lamont called the comments “entirely consistent with everything else he’s done.”

Baldwin noted Trump’s outbursts seem to follow a pattern where the president “says something insane” and watch as Republican party leaders refuse to condemn his remarks.

“That is Donald Trump’s GOP,” Jolly argued. “This is the hijacking he has done to the Republican party.”

“What Donald Trump is doing is using the office of the presidency to give permission for Americans to listen to the lesser angels among us,” he added. “No president has done that before.”

Lamont Hill then explained that Trump’s supporters, the people who voted for him, knew what they were signing up for.

“The truth is if you voted for Donald Trump you either voted for him because you agreed with the racist statements that he made consistently throughout the campaign, or you were indifferent to it,” Lamont Hill said.

“So either way you are complicit in the racism we’re seeing prevail right now,” he added.

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

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‘His spine has been removed’: Watch Nicolle Wallace blast ‘incredible shrinking man’ Paul Ryan

Bob Brigham
13 Jan 2018 at 17:12 ET                  

MSNBC’s Dateline: White House examined the extent to which President Donald Trump’s alleged racism are enabled by Republican Party leaders — in particular Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Anchor Nicolle Wallace played a clip of Speaker Ryan responding to Trump’s alleged ‘sh*thole’ comments.

“Oh my God, did you say that? An ice storm is unfortunate, and we have friends from Africa? That’s like 20, 40 years ago, when people would say, ‘I have a friend that’s a lesbian,'” Wallace suggested.

“I mean, what was that? What?” Wallace asked Washington Post White House Bureau Chief Phil Rucker.

“To me, that was the most outrageous thing that happened today,” Wallace concluded. “What’s wrong with him?”

“This is Paul Ryan, this is how he was during the campaign, it’s how he’s been all year,” Rucker answered.

“He’s like the incredible shrinking man,” Wallace observed. “It’s like his spine has been removed and he’s trying to diminish himself as a moral human being, as a leader, by the hour, by the day.”

“He sees himself as a moral leader,” Rucker began to reply.

“He’s not,” Wallace interrupted.

“But he doesn’t actually challenge this president and he’ll say it’s because he wants to advance the tax cuts or whatever,” Rucker continued.

“Tax cuts have been passed,” Wallace reminded.

“I know, but he just — he can’t bring himself to stand up to Trump and call a spade a spade,” Rucker explained. “They all try to stroke Trump’s ego and satisfy him and try not to enrage him and set him off. at the end of the day, Trump is the leader of their party, the Republican Party, and the Republican Party is defined by this president and his actions and behavior.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7c4FG-SWMTU

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Obama to Trump: Watch your behavior

Newsweek
12 Jan 2018 at 14:10 ET  

Former President Obama has a message for President Donald Trump: Pay close attention to your behavior, because it has the potential to impact the nation's culture and values.

"One of the things that Michelle figured out, in some ways faster than I did—was part of your ability to lead the country doesn’t have to do with legislation, doesn’t have to do with regulations, it has to do with shaping attitudes, shaping culture, increasing awareness," Obama told David Letterman on the first episode of his new Netflix show, which was released Friday.

The comments were recorded last fall and Obama never explicitly mentioned Trump, but this has often been the former president's preferred tactic when criticizing his successor, with whom he has long butted heads. Obama has frequently spoken about the importance of respecting the "peaceful transition of power," which helps explain the shift in his direct attacks on Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign versus his more veiled critiques post-election Day.

Obama's remarks on presidential behavior, albeit recorded months ago, were particularly pertinent on Friday as the nation reacted to Trump's alleged comments––initially reported by The Washington Post––on not wanting people from "shithole countries to come to the U.S." Trump reportedly said this Thursday during a meeting with lawmakers regarding a bipartisan immigration deal. The alleged comments caused a media firestorm and led many to refer to the president as "racist."

The White House did not deny the president made this comments in a statement on Thursday, but Trump to Twitter on Friday morning and refuted he used such language, at least in connection to Haiti.

"The language used by me at the DACA meeting was tough, but this was not the language used. What was really tough was the outlandish proposal made - a big setback for DACA!" Trump tweeted. "Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said 'take them out.' Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings - unfortunately, no trust!"

Trump has often generated controversy over his comments on immigration and related issues, beginning his presidential campaign by referring to Mexican immigrants as  "drug dealers," "rapists," "killers" and "murderers." His proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. was also decried by people across the country. The alleged "shithole" comments, however, seem to have generated a new level of anger and disgust among the president's critics.

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Donald Trump paid porn star $130,000 to stay silent over alleged affair – report

    Trump’s lawyer denies president had affair with Stormy Daniels in 2006
    Wall Street Journal alleges lawyer Michael Cohen oversaw payment in 2016

Molly Redden in New York
Guardian
Sat 13 Jan 2018 10.39 GMT

Donald Trump’s lawyer has denied the president had an affair with an adult film star 12 years ago, but did not address a specific allegation that Trump paid her $130,000 to prevent her from discussing the encounter.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that longtime Trump Organization attorney Michael Cohen oversaw the payment in the final days of the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen did not address that claim in a statement to the Journal, but he denied the allegation that Trump and Stephanie Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels, had a sexual encounter in 2006, the year after he married Melania.

Cohen also showed the journal an email, apparently signed by “Stormy Daniels,” that reportedly read: “Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false.” The statement denied that Clifford and Trump had a “sexual and/or romantic affair”.

The Journal based its report on interviews with “people familiar with the matter” and did not claim to have seen any documents substantiating the agreement.

An attorney for Clifford did not immediately respond to questions, but sent a full copy of Clifford’s statement denying the affair to BuzzFeed, dated 10 January.

    BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews)

    In a statement provided by the lawyer who reportedly set up the deal, adult film star Stormy Daniels denies taking hush money for sleeping with Trumphttps://t.co/su5Jfrp49x pic.twitter.com/wvIcrI4dNc
    January 12, 2018

A White House official told the Guardian: “These are old, recycled reports, which were published and strongly denied prior to the election.”

In the tumultuous last days of the presidential race, Clifford was reported to have been in discussions with Good Morning America to disclose an alleged affair with Trump. At the time, Trump was under intense scrutiny for a series of sexual assault allegations and claims of sexism.

A Trump campaign spokesperson denied that the two had a sexual encounter, which was described to the Journal as consensual, and Clifford never appeared on the program.

A photo from Clifford’s MySpace account shows her posing with Trump and was reportedly taken in July 2006.

Trump was dressed in the same outfit in a photo circulated by adult film star Jessica Drake when Drake accused Trump of groping her at a golf tournament “a decade ago”. Speaking in 2016, Drake recalled that Trump offered her $10,000 and the use of his private plane if she would agree to come back to his room and accompany him to a party.

Clifford’s attorney, Keith Davidson, also represents Karen McDougal, a onetime Playboy model who reportedly received $150,000 from the National Enquirer for the rights to her own story about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump. No such story ever ran in the Enquirer, suggesting the magazine acquired the story in order to keep it under wraps, a tactic known as “catch and kill”.

David Pecker, the chair and CEO of the group that owns the Enquirer, is Trump’s longtime friend.

The Trump campaign denied any affair and American Media Inc, which owns the Enquirer, said: “AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr Trump.”

Additional reporting by Ben Jacobs

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Another adult film actress claims Stormy Daniels and Trump invited her to their hotel room: report

Noor Al-Sibai
Raw Story
12 Jan 2018 at 19:28 ET                  

Adult actress Alana Evans claims porn star Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump invited her to their hotel room in a report that offered further corroboration of the Wall Street Journal‘s account earlier on Friday.

As The Daily Beast reported, Evans, a friend of Daniels’, said she received multiple calls from the fellow actress while she was in a room with Trump.

“Stormy calls me four or five times, by the last two phone calls she’s with Donald [Trump] and I can hear him, and he’s talking through the phone to me saying, ‘Oh come on Alana, let’s have some fun! Let’s have some fun! Come to the party, we’re waiting for you,'” Evans told the Beast.

She ultimately turned down the offer, but learned more about Daniels’ encounter with the real estate mogul the next day.

“She tells me, ‘All I’m going to say is: I ended up with Donald in his hotel room. Picture him chasing me around his hotel room in his tighty-whities.’ I was like, ‘Oh I really didn’t need to hear that!’ Then she said he offered her keys to his condos in Florida, and I was like, ‘Wow guess you had a good night,’ and that was the last we ever spoke of it,” Evans said.

The Beast also reported that they had been in “protracted” talks with Daniels to publish her story before the presidential election, but she ended up backing out on November 3, 2016.

In a statement provided by Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, who the Journal reported paid off Daniels (née Stephanie Clifford) $130,000 to keep her from going public about her relationship with the president, the adult actress denied that she they’d ever had any romantic or sexual involvement.

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Trump called intel analyst a ‘pretty Korean lady’ — and asked why she wasn’t negotiating with Kim Jong Un: report

Brad Reed
Raw Story
12 Jan 2018 at 14:47 ET                  

President Donald Trump’s latest outburst about immigrants from “sh*thole” African countries is far from his first time making racist statements.

In fact, sources tell NBC News that Trump made a career U.S. intelligence officer uncomfortable last year when he grilled her on her Korean heritage and demanded to know why she wasn’t being used to negotiate with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

According to NBC News, Trump first asked the officer where she was from after she had finished delivering an intelligence briefing. She replied that she originally hailed from New York City, but Trump pushed her by asking where “your people” originally came from.

At that point, she admitted that both of her parents were from Korea — at which point Trump turned to an adviser and asked them why the “pretty Korean lady” wasn’t being used as an asset to negotiate with North Korea over its nuclear arsenal.

“The officials who told NBC News of the fall exchange between Trump and the intelligence briefer in the Oval Office in the fall said the president likely meant no harm with his inquiry, but it raised concern of a lack of cultural sensitivity and decorum,” NBC notes, while also adding that a source close to the president claims that his advisers regularly try to get him to stop talking about people’s race — but to no avail.

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How many times has Donald Trump cheated on his wives?

Newsweek
13 Jan 2018 at 00:08 ET  

A Wall Street Journal article on Friday alleged that President Donald Trump cheated on his wife, Melania, with a porn star—and it wasn’t the first time Trump has been in the center of a public cheating scandal or fallout over his behavior toward women.

Below is a look back at some of the most public cheating scandals Trump has been involved in.

Ivana Trump (1977-1992)

Trump’s first marriage imploded on the covers of all of New York’s tabloids, after he brazenly took his mistress, Marla Maples, on a family vacation in Aspen along with his wife, Ivana, attempting to hide her away, until she approached Ivana and said, “I’m Marla and I love your husband. Do you?”

A famous issue of the New York Post in 1990 featured a quote from Maples plastered across its front page—“Best sex I ever had!” referring to Donald—while he was still married to Ivana. Trump famously pushed the story forward and called the tabloids to make sure his name stayed in the papers. At the time, he was a prominent New York real estate figure, but not known for much more than that.

In a recent memoir, titled Raising Trump, Ivana refers to the mistress as “freaking Marla.”

Marla Maples (1993-1999)

When Trump was dating his one-time mistress, Marla Maples, he famously posed as his own spokesman, “John Miller,” and told a People reporter that he’d never marry Maples, and that he had “three other girlfriends” at the time.

Melania Trump (2005-present)

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Trump's lawyer had allegedly paid a porn star, Stephanie Clifford, over $130,000 for her silence about the affair they had in 2006, one year after Trump married Melania.

Clifford, 38, goes by the name “Stormy Daniels” in the adult film industry, and said she met Trump denied the allegations.

The Wall Street Journal also reported on another alleged affair in November of 2016—one in the same year, 2006, as the alleged affair with Clifford. The woman, in that case, was Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year. Trump’s staff denied the allegations. The report focused on the agreement between McDougal and the National Enquirer, which paid her $150,000 for the story, and then never printed it.  

Trump’s Alleged Sexual Harassment:

Nineteen women have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual harassment. The public allegations range from the 1980s to 2013, and they include former contestants on  The Apprentice, an adult film star, a journalist at  People Magazine, a journalist at Fox News and many others. Though those incidents were non-consensual, many happened while Trump was married.  


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« Reply #4381 on: Jan 13, 2018, 07:06 AM »

Russian-trained mercenaries back Bosnia's Serb separatists

Security minister confirms report, fuelling fears of destabilisation of the Balkans and a resistance to Nato enlargement

Julian Borger in Washington
Guardian
13 Jan 2018 18.23 GMT

Russian-trained mercenaries are helping to establish a paramilitary unit serving the Serb separatist leader in Bosnia, it was reported in Sarajevo on Friday.

The report on the Žurnal news site, which was confirmed by the Bosnian security minister, comes at a time of mounting western anxiety about Russian efforts to destabilise the Balkans and resist Nato enlargement in the region.

On Tuesday, Milorad Dodik, the hardline leader of the Serb half of Bosnia, staged a military parade in Banja Luka in defiance of a ruling by the country’s constitutional court.

The Žurnal report said that a militia called “Serbian Honour” – which it said had been trained in a Russian-funded “humanitarian centre” in Serbia – was in the process of setting up a paramilitary group to be used against Dodik’s opponents.

It published photographs of the militia on the streets of Banja Luka, the administrative centre of the Republika Srpska, a semi-autonomous entity within Bosnia created by the Dayton peace agreement that ended the 1992-95 war. The pictures show the paramilitaries posing in black sweaters and in combat gear.

The report, including a picture of the award ceremony, says one of the group’s leaders, Bojan Stojković, is a former Serbian paratrooper who had trained in Moscow, and had been awarded a medal by Valeriy Kalyakin, a Russian general.

Dragan Mektić, the Bosnian security minister, said intelligence and security services were aware of the presence and activities of the group.

“We have been using this information for a long time, we have collected quite a lot of information about that,” Mektić said, adding he could not provide further details as his officials were compiling a full report for the Bosnian prosecutor’s office.

The Zurnal report said the group was recruiting from the Serb criminal underworld to form a new paramilitary unit loyal to Dodik. It quotes a leaked security service document as saying that Dodik’s aides discussed the aims of the new unit with “Serbian Honour” leaders and the goals would include “possible intervention if the opposition seeks to obstruct the functioning of the authorities”.

“For such a president, it is worth to give one’s life”, Stojković wrote under a picture of Vladimir Putin on his Instagram profile, according to the report.

Under the photo of Dodik, he wrote: “Nobody can do us any harm, we are stronger than destiny”.

The appearance of the paramilitaries in Bosnia comes 15 months after Russian intelligence was implicated in an abortive coup in Montenegro, in which mercenaries planned to storm parliament, assassinate Milo Đukanović, the country’s pro-western leader, , and prevent it from joining Nato. The plot was foiled and Montenegro became a Nato member in June 2017.

The Bosnian government is also pursuing Nato membership, but the resistance of the Republika Srpska under Dodik is hindering progress.

“This is part of a larger change in the international order, starting with the invasion in Georgia, Syria, Ukraine, the meddling in the US elections,” said Reuf Bajrović, Bosnia’s former energy minister, calling the appearance of the paramilitaries in Banja Luka a “watershed moment”.

“The Russians have decided to use their leverage in the Balkans to get the outcome they want: the end of the Dayton accords and the creation of a Serb statelet.”


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« Reply #4382 on: Jan 14, 2018, 07:43 AM »

This is what the shitstain called Trump did while Hawaii was subjected to the false incoming missile alert: this is your 'president America

Former Pentagon official Col. Morris Davis blasts Trump for golfing while Hawaii panicked over false missile alert

Tom Boggioni
Raw Story
13 Jan 2018 at 14:39 ET  

Former Guantanamo Chief Prosecutor Col. Morris Davis took to Twitter Saturday afternoon to criticize President Donald Trump for continuing his golf game as Americans in Hawaii were panicking over a mistaken missile threat.

“For 38 minutes American citizens in Hawaii braced for a ballistic missile strike … and @realDonaldTrump continued his round of golf in Florida on his 120th taxpayer funded vacation day in less than a year,” Morris tweeted, linking to a Fox New report.

In what was called “a hell of a mistake to make,” Civil Defense officials in Hawaii sent out an incorrect warning to the island residents that a ballistic missile was on its way, stating: “Ballistic missile inbound to Hawaii. Seeks shelter immediately. This is not a drill.”

You can see the Morris tweet below:

   For 38 minutes American citizens in Hawaii braced for a ballistic missile strike … and @realDonaldTrump continued his round of golf in Florida on his 120th taxpayer funded vacation day in less than a year. https://t.co/tSSSNiDLDk

    — Col. Morris Davis (@ColMorrisDavis) January 13, 2018

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

Hawaii officials freak out populace by sending out mistaken ‘inbound ballistic missile warning’ to cell phones

Tom Boggioni
Raw Story
14 Jan 2018 at 13:38 ET    
              
Warning sent to cell phone in Hawaii

In what was called “a hell of a mistake to make,” Civil Defense officials in Hawaii sent out an incorrect warning to the island residents that a ballistic missile was on its way.

Lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) sent out a screenshot of the warning she received that stated: “Ballistic missile inbound to Hawaii. Seeks shelter immediately. This is not a drill.”

According to the Democratic lawmaker, ” THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE.”

You can see Gabbard’s tweet along with a few others below:

    HAWAII – THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE. pic.twitter.com/DxfTXIDOQs

    — Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 13, 2018

    Please retweet https://t.co/ry6FPmUQNS

    — Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 13, 2018

    Civil Defense just confirmed that the Ballistic Missle alert to Hawaii was a mistake!!! That is a hell of a mistake to make. #Wow

    — Jason Parker (@NutzFordBucks) January 13, 2018

    I just now saw the news about Hawaii, and I'm gonna need a minute to decompress. Nerves are shaky.

    — Charlotte Clymer🏳️‍🌈 (@cmclymer) January 13, 2018

Click to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=7CBstGGwvic

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

Here’s how the false Hawaii missile alert happened

Newsweek
14 Jan 2018 at 17:25 ET  

The false alarm alerting Hawaiians of an incoming ballistic missile was caused by “human error,” according to Hawaii Governor David Ige.

Residents received a terrifying false alarm on Saturday announcing that a ballistic missile was headed their way and advising immediate action to take shelter.

"It was a mistake made during a standard procedure at the change over of a shift, and an employee pushed the wrong button," said Ige, according to CNN.

    HAWAII - THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE. pic.twitter.com/DxfTXIDOQs
    — Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 13, 2018

The alert caused panic across the state, where officials have been preparing for the possibility of a nuclear attack for months. Cold War-era sirens began running drills last month, in order to educate the public on how to handle a possible missile. The sirens did not sound when the alert went out Saturday.

Despite preparations, the push notifications were mistakenly sent out to Hawaiians, who jumped into action before receiving the second alert 38 minutes later announcing that it was a false alarm.

The governor explained the reason for the error after Hawaii Emergency Management Agency Administrator Vern Miyagi headed to the agency's 24-hour operations center to find out why the false alert was sent out, and after the FCC promised to launch an investigation to figure out why the notification went out. Lawmakers and residents alike were quick to criticize the mistake, calling for accountability and a safer process to prevent future mistakes.

    AGAIN FALSE ALARM. What happened today is totally inexcusable. The whole state was terrified. There needs to be tough and quick accountability and a fixed process.
    — Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) January 13, 2018

Hawaiians have worried whether their state is ready for a nuclear attack, and the latest error provided fodder for critics who say the emergency preparedness plan is lacking. Hawaii lies 4,600 miles from North Korea.

The White House responded to the alert with the understanding that it had been an exercise, apparently in contrast with the governor's explanation.

“The President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii’s emergency management exercise. This was purely a state exercise,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said, according to Reuters.

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

WATCH: Chilling video appears to show terrified Hawaiians hiding their kids in storm drains while Trump golfed

When an emergency alert was "accidentally" sent to Hawaiians that a ballistic missile was inbound and it was almost an hour before any correction was issued, you know what would have helped a great deal? A tweet from our President assuring them that, no, they are not going to die.

Sure, as former Obama defense official Patrick Granfield noted, "thank God the President was playing golf" when the alert went out or we may have witnessed the United States launching a nuclear missile at North Korea or otherwise "acting rashly," but while he was busy doing that, terrified parents were desperately trying to keep their kids safe from the threat no one told them for an excruciating 40 minutes was not a threat.

https://twitter.com/Breaking911/status/952257989339119616

Can you imagine receiving such a terrifying alert then having to decide to stuff your kids down a storm drain so they might have a chance to live? Having to suppress every fear you have of toxic gases, or your kid getting stuck somehow, or maybe the storm drain not being an adequate shelter to begin with, all on the random chance that their world might otherwise be about to end?

Many hours after the false alert, Trump has still said nothing about the false alert, but if Kim Jong Un wanted to launch a missile at Hawaii, he now knows our President* will not give a single fuck about it if he's golfing. We can't let little things like ballistic missiles mess up his vacation from doing nothing, can we?

Eventually, Trump was briefed on the false alert, which a White House spokeswoman calls "purely a state exercise" despite an overwhelming number of reports that the message was sent entirely in error.

Note to our readers: Please share/tweet our articles. Trump supporting trolls targeted our site's account and reported it en masse, without cause. This triggered a seemingly automatic suspension. Twitter support has failed to address this issue. Thank you!

Featured image via screen capture

**********

‘Texting goodbyes and shielding their baby’: CNN’s Tapper reports on tears in Hawaii after horrific false missile attack report

Tom Boggioni
Raw Story
13 Jan 2018 at 15:29 ET                  

According to CNN’s Jake Tapper, following the mistaken alert sent out to everyone in Hawaii that a missile attack was imminent, he heard from friends in the island chain who were crying and sending their goodbyes to friends.

Early Saturday morning, an official in Hawaii issued an erroneous warning that reached cell phones and interrupted television programming to announce a missile attack — presumably from North Korea.

According to the message that sent in big bold letters reading: “Ballistic missile inbound to Hawaii. Seeks shelter immediately. This is not a drill.”

In his tweet, Tapper relayed, “So sorry for all the people in Hawaii who went through that — we know someone who’s there with her family. Crying in closet texting goodbyes to loved ones, husband shielding their baby. Sounds traumatic. Hang in there, folks.”

Tapper’s comments were seconded by others on Twitter who also shared panicked and sorrowful text messages.

You can see them below:

    So sorry for all the people in Hawaii who went through that — we know someone who’s there with her family. Crying in closet texting goodbyes to loved ones, husband shielding their baby. Sounds traumatic. Hang in there, folks.

    — Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 13, 2018

    This was my phone when I woke up just now. I’m in Honolulu, #Hawaii and my family is on the North Shore. They were hiding in the garage. My mom and sister were crying. It was a false alarm, but betting a lot of people are shaken. @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/m6EKxH3QqQ

    — Sara Donchey (@KPRC2Sara) January 13, 2018

    From the tourist perspective, there were dozens of them gathered in this hotel lobby panicking and holding each other. pic.twitter.com/s2weP4trxO

    — Gene Park (@GenePark) January 13, 2018

    A big issue with today’s false alarm: how long it took for an official alert to go out saying it was, in fact , a false alarm.

    I received this text from a dear friend describing her family in Hawaii’s experience + how tweets were what revealed there was no real threat. Scary. pic.twitter.com/s7CovtD9wi

    — Lisa Feierman (@lisathefeierman) January 13, 2018

    My friend in Hawaii got the alert and had to quickly choose between which members of his family he would spend his last moments on Earth with because they were ALL too far apart from each other. He had to make the difficult choice of going immediately to his youngest children. pic.twitter.com/n8LNPiVscP

    — Gene Park (@GenePark) January 13, 2018

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

Jake Tapper: Hawaii missile alert could have led to ‘nuclear war’ if Trump had been watching Fox & Friends

Tom Boggioni
Raw Story
14 Jan 2018 at 10:07 ET                  

During a State of the Union interview with Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D) on Saturday’s missile launch alert debacle, CNN host Jake Tapper took a shot at President Donald Trump, saying Americans were relieved he was on the golf course when it happened and not glued to Fox News.

According to Gabbard, “Traumatic understates the experience that the people of Hawaii went through yesterday. Getting that alert that went out to over a million cell phones, all across the state, not to speak of the visitors who were there who got that same alert, saying an incoming missile is headed your way, take shelter, this is not a drill.”

“Hawaii has just started a few months ago, these monthly nuclear attack sirens as a test. You hear this siren, you’ve got 15 minutes to seek shelter,” she explained. “So, when the people of Hawaii got this message yesterday, they’re literally going through this feeling of, I’ve got minutes to find my loved ones and say my last goodbyes. To figure out where could I possibly find shelter that would protect them from a nuclear attack. This was unacceptable that this happened, but it really highlights the stark reality that the people of Hawaii are facing.”

Then the topic of Trump came up after Gabbard added, “The fact that these processes failed so epically, that caused this trauma, that caused this terror all across the state of Hawaii, must be fixed immediately. And those responsible for this happening need to be held accountable in making sure that this cannot, it cannot happen again.”

“I  think there are a lot of people out there, and I don’t want to be flip about this, but I think there are a lot of people out there who are happy that this at least didn’t happen while President Trump was watching ‘Fox & Friends,’  and instead it happened when he was out on the golf course and he was informed about this by layers of advisers and such,” Tapper remarked.

“Because we know that historically, misunderstandings and false alarms have almost led to nuclear confrontation, nuclear war,” the CNN host continued. “Are you at all worried about the fact that an accident, a misunderstanding might lead to something like this?”

“There’s no question,” Gabbard replied. “And that really highlights the global consequence of what Hawaii just went through yesterday. This is not just about Hawaii. And that’s why I really hope that people across the country, that leaders here in Washington are paying attention to what people went through and what the consequences of that can be. ”

You can watch the video via CNN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5kg5VaxiRE

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« Reply #4383 on: Jan 14, 2018, 07:48 AM »

‘Shithole’ projected onto Trump Hotel in Washington DC

Newsweek
14 Jan 2018 at 05:20 ET 

Trump Hotel in downtown Washington DC got a surprise makeover last night—with the expletive President Donald Trump has used to describe developing world countries beamed onto its outer walls.

Video posted on Twitter shows the words “This Place is a Shithole” projected onto the walls of the hotel Saturday night, alongside poop emojis, and an arrow pointing at the establishment’s arched entrance.

In a  meeting with lawmakers last week on protection for immigrants, Trump had reportedly called developing world countries including Haiti and some African states “shithole” countries. Trump's words have been described as "racist" by the U.N.'s human rights office.

Other messages beamed onto the building Saturday included “The President of the United States is a Known Racist and Nazi Sympathiser,” alluding to the president’s controversial comments after the Charlottesville white nationalist rally in August.

Video of the stunt was posted on the Twitter account of Robin Bell, who has previously used projectors for political messages—projecting “emoluments welcome” and images of flags where Trump has business projects on the wall of the hotel in May.

Trump is being sued by activists for allegedly violating a clause of the constitution banning presidents from receiving cash gifts by foreign governments.

That same month, Bell projected “#SessionsMustGo” and “I thought the KKK was OK until I learned that they smoked pot” on the Department of Justice building, in reference to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Bell has been described by The Washington Post as a “hit-and-run editorial writer.”


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« Reply #4384 on: Jan 15, 2018, 04:59 AM »

Will natural genetic selection ultimately make us more dumb?

Newsweek
16 Jan 2018 at 05:40 ET 

Humans aren’t necessarily becoming more dumb. However, if our genes that predispose us to spend more years in school continue to decline, it’s possible that our IQs will drop in the decades to come, according to a large study.

A genetic firm in Iceland was curious how our "education attainment genes" are being affected, so they analyzed data from more than 100,000 people in the country. Our education genes are derived from what scientists call our “polygenic scores,” which is a crude measure used to predict certain outcomes. Someday polygenic scores may even be able to predict academic success, Scientific American notes.
Related: School Books Should Include LGBTQ Americans, California Education Activists Demand

Their findings, which were published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in December 2016, revealed a number of things, including that education genes may affect family size.

“It isn’t the case that education, or the career opportunities it provides, prevents you from having more children,” lead study author Kari Stefansson, CEO of Icelandic genetics firm deCODE, told The Guardian. “If you are genetically predisposed to have a lot of education, you are also predisposed to have fewer children.”
Related: No Education for Kids: Nigeria Leads the World in Uneducated Children

Their findings also showed that if the trend continues, it may lead our IQs to drop about 0.04 points each decade. Although that number itself is very small, over the years it could add up to make a noticeable difference.

“The cumulative effect over time means this is going to have a dramatic effect on the genetic predisposition to educational attainment, and unless something comes along to counteract that, it could have a profound effect on educational attainment in our society,” Stefansson said.

But, it’s important to note that this data is all just based on one country and there’s a whole lot of other factors that come into play. In fact, humans are still evolving, argues Jonathan Beauchamp, an economist at Harvard University, therefore, it’s an issue if we try to forecast this trend because it can change before we know it.   


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« Reply #4385 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:23 AM »


We Ignore Urgent Global Warnings at Our Peril

Ecowatch
1/15/2018

A year ago, we revisited the 1992 "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity." Signed by a majority of Nobel laureates in sciences at the time and more than 1,700 leading scientists worldwide, the document warned, "Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course."

It called for a new ethic that encompasses our responsibility to ourselves and nature and that recognizes our dependence on Earth and its natural systems. It also called for stabilizing human population through "improved social and economic conditions, and the adoption of effective, voluntary family planning." Now, 25 years later, we've added two billion people, a 35 percent increase.

Despite progress in stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, all the other problems scientists looked at in 1992 have worsened.

On the declaration's 25th anniversary in November, more than 15,000 scientists from around the world signed a new warning—"the most scientists to ever co-sign and formally support a published journal article." The BioScience article states, "By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere."

It raises concerns about climate change, driven by greenhouse gas emissions from "burning fossil fuels, deforestation and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption." And it points out, "we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century."

Some have criticized the warning for being overly alarmist, but the situation is alarming, and we aren't doing enough to avert catastrophe. Where will we be 25 years from now? It won't be chance that determines our future. It will be the choices we make today.

There's a hint of hope. The scientists note that co-operative government actions resulted in a "rapid global decline in ozone-depleting substances," and that global poverty and hunger rates have dropped. Investing in education for girls and women has contributed to falling birth rates in many regions, deforestation has been reduced in some countries, and the renewable-energy sector has been growing rapidly.

We can make positive changes if we co-operate, but it will take action from all of humanity. We can't leave it to governments, especially as so many in thrall to the fossil fuel industry are failing to work for citizens. As the scientists argue, "Sustainability transitions come about in diverse ways, and all require civil-society pressure and evidence-based advocacy, political leadership, and a solid understanding of policy instruments, markets and other drivers."

The warning offers many solutions, many policy-based. They include protecting habitat on land, water and air; recognizing and maintaining the important services intact ecosystems provide; restoring forests and other "native plant communities"; re-introducing native species "to restore ecological processes and dynamics"; using policy to protect species from poaching and illegal trade; reducing food waste and promoting a shift to more plant-based diets; reducing fertility rates through "access to education and voluntary family-planning services"; promoting nature education and appreciation; shifting investment and spending to "encourage positive environmental change"; fostering advances in green technologies and renewable energy while eliminating subsidies to fossil fuels; altering the economy to reduce wealth inequality "and ensure that prices, taxation and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment"; and "estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal."

In short, if we take the urgency to heart, there are solutions.

Although government action and policy are crucial, so too is citizen engagement. "With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It's also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita ­consumption of fossil fuels, meat and other resources."

As a new year begins, we can and must do everything possible to shift course. If we wait another 25 years, it will be too late.


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« Reply #4386 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:27 AM »


Giant curtain erected in Peru in bid to reveal secrets of the cloud forest

Global warming is predicted to push clouds higher in the sky. One scientist hopes to understand the future of our forests by suspending a vast fog-catching mesh in the Peruvian jungle

Daniel Grossman in Wayqecha
Guardian
1/15/2018

What will happen if climate change pushes clouds higher into the sky, as models predict? One ecosystem that will be seriously affected will be cloud forests – tropical jungles persistently bathed in fog.

Until now, little research had been done on the likely impacts of rising clouds, but one scientist is planning to change that using an enormous curtain strung up in the middle of the forest.

Cloud forest thrives on mountainsides at 500-4,000 metres above sea level, making up about 1% of the world’s forest in a tropical band that hugs the equator. But, though the area covered is small, the forests are vital to much broader regions. For instance, they help regulate rivers across vast tracts of lowlands, absorbing moisture into spongy soil when the weather is wet and releasing water when it’s dry. And they provide habitats for many birds, such as the coppery headed emerald hummingbird of Costa Rica and the elfin wood warbler of Puerto Rico, both of which live only in cloud forests.

Many scientists believe the process forcing clouds higher may already have begun. This would diminish a cloud forest’s moisture and it’s uncertain whether forests could successfully migrate uphill in response. Examining the impact of clouds relocating is critical to understanding the future of the forests.

Dan Metcalfe, a biology professor at Lund University in Sweden, wants hard data so he can determine what will happen to the forests that remain if the models are correct. He explains he’s trying something never before done: “an experimental approach where we actually physically try to remove clouds from a portion of the forest”.

Metcalfe had planned to encircle a square plot twice the size of a basketball court with a mesh curtain suspended from 10-storey phone poles at each corner. Fog would condense on the fabric, leaving the interior moisture-starved. He chose the Wayqecha Biological Station, a cloud forest research centre 3,000m above sea level in Peru. But he didn’t factor in the difficulty of operating heavy equipment at Wayqecha. Precipitous slopes and fragile soil prevent hauling in the kind of drill rig that could set corner posts deeply enough for big nets. No roads penetrate to Wayqecha’s groves, only footpaths.

Metcalfe realised he’d have to install bolted metal lattice towers. These can be hand-carried in pieces, then assembled on site. They can be built atop slender footings and stabilised by guy wires installed with lightweight equipment. But they’re expensive. He couldn’t afford two, let alone four, and feared that he might have to cancel the project. But then Metcalfe heard that not long before, the station had suffered a misfortune that could help him.

Wayqecha already had three lattice towers, supporting a catwalk over a ravine. Until recently, the walkway had included a fourth tower, but it had been toppled by a landslide. However, the structure’s struts and decking were undamaged. Rather than completely enclosing a plot in nets, Metcalfe realised he could suspend a single mesh curtain across the path of mist blowing up a valley. The fog-catching curtain would dangle from a cable stretched between one of the undamaged towers and a new one he’d build out of the one that had fallen.

Metcalfe encountered obstacle after obstacle even carrying out his plan: a key member of his construction team got sick and needed months of recovery; a fire destroyed expensive gear; and Peruvian customs balked when they saw that a shipping container of construction supplies included the bow and arrow he’d need for stringing cables. In the four years since he started the project, his wife had a child. And then another. It got tougher to leave home for Peru.

But finally, the curtain is nearly done. A crew built the tower in September and the last step, suspending the curtain above the forest floor, was completed at the end of October. Soon, Metcalfe will be able to shed light on the future of the forest.


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« Reply #4387 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:29 AM »


Oceans suffocating as huge dead zones quadruple since 1950, scientists warn

Areas starved of oxygen in open ocean and by coasts have soared in recent decades, risking dire consequences for marine life and humanity

Damian Carrington Environment editor
Guardian
1/15/2018

Ocean dead zones with zero oxygen have quadrupled in size since 1950, scientists have warned, while the number of very low oxygen sites near coasts have multiplied tenfold. Most sea creatures cannot survive in these zones and current trends would lead to mass extinction in the long run, risking dire consequences for the hundreds of millions of people who depend on the sea.

Climate change caused by fossil fuel burning is the cause of the large-scale deoxygenation, as warmer waters hold less oxygen. The coastal dead zones result from fertiliser and sewage running off the land and into the seas.

The analysis, published in the journal Science, is the first comprehensive analysis of the areas and states: “Major extinction events in Earth’s history have been associated with warm climates and oxygen-deficient oceans.” Denise Breitburg, at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in the US and who led the analysis, said: “Under the current trajectory that is where we would be headed. But the consequences to humans of staying on that trajectory are so dire that it is hard to imagine we would go quite that far down that path.”

“This is a problem we can solve,” Breitburg said. “Halting climate change requires a global effort, but even local actions can help with nutrient-driven oxygen decline.” She pointed to recoveries in Chesapeake Bay in the US and the Thames river in the UK, where better farm and sewage practices led to dead zones disappearing.

However, Prof Robert Diaz at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, who reviewed the new study, said: “Right now, the increasing expansion of coastal dead zones and decline in open ocean oxygen are not priority problems for governments around the world. Unfortunately, it will take severe and persistent mortality of fisheries for the seriousness of low oxygen to be realised.”

The oceans feed more than 500 million people, especially in poorer nations, and provide jobs for 350 million people. But at least 500 dead zones have now been reported near coasts, up from fewer than 50 in 1950. Lack of monitoring in many regions means the true number may be much higher.

The open ocean has natural low oxygen areas, usually off the west coast of continents due to the way the rotation of the Earth affects ocean currents. But these dead zones have expanded dramatically, increasing by millions of square kilometres since 1950, roughly equivalent to the area of the European Union.

Furthermore, the level of oxygen in all ocean waters is falling, with 2% – 77bn tonnes – being lost since 1950. This can reduce growth, impair reproduction and increase disease, the scientists warn. One irony is that warmer waters not only hold less oxygen but also mean marine organisms have to breathe faster, using up oxygen more quickly.

There are also dangerous feedback mechanisms. Microbes that proliferate at very low oxygen levels produce lots of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

In coastal regions, fertiliser, manure and sewage pollution cause algal blooms and when the algae decompose oxygen is sucked out of the water. However, in some places, the algae can lead to more food for fish and increase catches around the dead zones. This may not be sustainable though, said Breitburg: “There is a lot of concern that we are really changing the way these systems function and that the overall resilience of these systems may be reduced.”

The new analysis was produced by an international working group created in 2016 by Unesco’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. The commission’s Kirsten Isensee said: “Ocean deoxygenation is taking place all over the world as a result of the human footprint, therefore we also need to address it globally.”

Lucia von Reusner, campaign director of the campaign group, Mighty Earth, which recently exposed a link between the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico and large scale meat production, said: “These dead zones will continue to expand unless the major meat companies that dominate our global agricultural system start cleaning up their supply chains to keep pollution out of our waters.”

Diaz said the speed of ocean suffocation already seen was breathtaking: “No other variable of such ecological importance to coastal ecosystems has changed so drastically in such a short period of time from human activities as dissolved oxygen.”

He said the need for urgent action is best summarised by the motto of the American Lung Association: “If you can’t breathe, nothing else matters.”


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« Reply #4388 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:31 AM »


Coral reef bleaching 'the new normal' and a fatal threat to ecosystems

Study of 100 tropical reef locations finds time between bleaching events has shrunk and is too short for full recovery

Helen Davidson
Guardian
1/15/2018

Repeated large-scale coral bleaching events are the new normal thanks to global warming, a team of international scientists has found.

In a study published in the journal Science, the researchers revealed a “dramatic shortening” of the time between bleaching events was “threatening the future existence of these iconic ecosystems and the livelihoods of many millions of people”.

The study examined 100 tropical reef locations across the world, analysing existing data on coral bleaching events as well as new field research conducted on the Great Barrier Reef after the longest and worst case of bleaching caused by climate change killed almost 25% of the coral.

“Before the 1980s, mass bleaching of corals was unheard of, even during strong El Niño conditions,” said lead author Prof Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. “Now repeated bouts of regional-scale bleaching and mass mortality of corals has become the new normal around the world as temperatures continue to rise.”

The study found that time between bleaching events had diminished five-fold in the past 30 to 40 years, and was now too short to allow for a full recovery and was approaching unsustainable levels.

While mass bleaching events used to occur about once every 27 years, by 2016 the median time between them had shrunk to 5.9 years. Only six of the 100 sites had escaped bleaching.

“Our analysis indicates that we are already approaching a scenario in which every hot summer, with or without an El Niño event, has the potential to cause bleaching and mortality at a regional scale,” the paper said.

Globally, the annual risk of severe and moderate bleaching had increased by almost 4% a year since the 1980s, from an expected 8% of locations to 31% in 2016.

The Western Atlantic remained at highest risk but Australasia and the Middle East saw the strongest increases in risk of bleaching.

Hughes said he hoped the “stark results” would prompt stronger action on reducing greenhouse gases. In May scientists warned that the central goal of the Australian government’s protection plan was no longer feasible because of the dramatic impact of climate change.

Friday’s paper also determined the link between El Niño and mass bleaching events has diminished as global warming continues.

Prior to the 1980s mass coral bleaching on a regional scale was “exceedingly rare or absent” and occurred in localised areas stretching tens of kilometres, not the hundreds of kilometres affected in recent times, the paper said.

These local bleaching events were largely caused by small-scale stressors like unusually hot or cold weather, freshwater inundation or sedimentation.

Then global warming increased the thermal stress of strong El Niño events, the paper said, widening the impact of individual bleaching events. Now, they are occurring at any time.

“Back in the 80s it was only during El Niño events that waters became hot enough to damage corals and induce them to bleach,” co-author Andrew Baird, a professor at James Cook University, told Guardian Australia.

“But now it’s 30, 40 years later and we’re seeing those temperatures in normal years.”

Baird said it was difficult to know if the current conditions were reversible but “the window to address it is diminishing”.

“It’s impossible to know if this is the end of coral reefs but it might be,” he said. “We really need to get on top of climate change as soon as possible.”

There have been several large-scale and devastating mass bleaching events in recent years. The 2015-16 event affected 75% of the reefs studied by the researchers, who said it was comparable to the then unprecedented mass bleaching of 1997-98, when 74% were affected.

“Interestingly one of the first papers that effectively drew attention to the issue – back in 1999 – suggested that by 2016, 2017, 2020, we would be seeing bleaching annually,” Baird said. “That’s pretty close to what’s happening unfortunately.

“Some of these earlier works were quite prescient in their prediction and unfortunately we didn’t pay enough attention back then.”

The study follows a discovery late last year that 3% of the Great Barrier Reef could facilitate recovery after bleaching – a finding the researchers at the time suggested was akin to a life-support system but small enough not to be taken for granted.

On Friday scientists announced that a major outbreak of coral-eating crown of thorns starfish had been found munching the Great Barrier Reef in December, prompting the Australian government to begin culling the spiky marine animals.

The predator starfish feeds on corals by spreading its stomach over them and using digestive enzymes to liquefy tissue.

“Each starfish eats about its body diameter a night, and so over time that mounts up very significantly,” Hugh Sweatman, a senior research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science told ABC radio. “A lot of coral will be lost,” he said.

The crown of thorns were found in plague proportions in the Swains reefs, at the southern edge of the Great Barrier Reef, by researchers from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The authority already killed some starfish at Swains reefs in December and said it would mount another mission in January.

There have been four major crown of thorns outbreaks since the 1960s in the Great Barrier Reef but it recovered each time because there were always healthy populations of herbivorous fish. The outbreaks are usually triggered by extra nutrients in the water but the reason for the current outbreak was unclear, Sweatman said.

Additional reporting by Reuters


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« Reply #4389 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:33 AM »


Brazil raises hopes of a retreat from new mega-dam construction

Hydropower policy to be rethought in face of environmental concerns, indigenous sensitivities and public unease, says surprise government statement

Jonathan Watts
Guardian
1/15/2018

After swathes of forest clearance, millions of tonnes of concrete and decades of hydro-expansion, Brazil has raised hopes that it may finally step back from the construction of new mega-dams.

In a surprise statement, a senior government official said hydropower policy needed to be rethought in the face of environmental concerns, indigenous sensitivities and public unease.

Anti-dam activists welcomed the apparent shift, despite scepticism about the declared motives, which they believe mask a drying up of bribes from the construction industry. The decision could reprieve the Tapajos and free-flowing rivers from a plan to open half the Amazon basin to hydro-development.

Brazil already gets more than 70% of its electricity from hydropower – one of the highest proportions in the world. Until recently, most of the generating capacity came from plants near the southern border and the economic hubs of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte.

But in recent years, the dam builders – backed by the Workers’ party administrations of Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – pushed north into the Amazon with the huge Belo Monte project on the Xingu river, despite environmental concerns, court battles and fierce resistance from indigenous residents.

The Tapajos was the next major river in the sights of the consortium led by utility Eletrobras and major construction firms such as Odebrecht. Two dams have already been completed on the Teles Pires tributary and hundreds more were planned elsewhere.

But the momentum has diminished along with falling government revenues, sluggish economic demand and an increasingly unpredictable climate that has made hydropower generation less reliable and more expensive.

Opponents have capitalised on this. After indigenous demonstration and critical scientific studies, the environment agency rejected a licence application for a dam at São Luiz do Tapajós which would have flooded Munduruku indigenous territory.

The current centre-right government of Michel Temer now appears to be considering a far bigger retreat.

“We don’t hold preconceptions about big projects, but we have to respect the views of society, which has reservations about them,” said Paulo Pedrosa, the executive secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, in an interview with O Globo newspaper.

Government studies suggest Brazil could add 50 gigawatts of hydroenergy by 2050, but Pedrosa noted that less than a quarter of the necessary dams would be free from challenges over protected land.

Pedrosa said such costs should not be hidden, an apparent reference to the Rousseff administration’s refusal to heed warnings about the Belo Monte dam, which has since proved a social and environmental disaster.

The Car Wash corruption investigation exposed how the Workers’ party received campaign donations from Odebrecht in return for over-inflated contracts to build Belo Monte and other infrastructure projects.

Now the kickbacks have dried up, government officials have little incentive to cover up the social and environmental costs of future projects.

Few believe the Temer administration is any cleaner or greener. It is closely allied to the agribusiness lobby, which is primarily responsible for Amazon clearance. Last year, the government also attempted to open up protected areas to mining companies.

But it is in the process of privisatising Eletrobras, which will mean the economic feasibility of mega-projects will come under greater scrutiny, particularly with wind and solar energy becoming more viable.

The government will propose a new model for project evaluation to Congress this year that takes greater account of costs.

“Current projects when priced appropriately - including transmission costs, risks associated with the seasonality of energy and the possible delay of works - show them to be much less competitive than in previous assessments,” the Ministry of Mines and Energy noted in an email response to The Guardian.

It is unlikely to be a complete panacea Given the pro-business stance of the ruling coalition, there are fears that other environmental licensing criteria may be weakened.

With a presidential election in October, any changes of policy could also be rapidly reversed, but anti-dam activists hold out hope this - in regard to mega-projects at least - this will be a turning point.

“The Brazilian government’s announcement validates what scientists, indigenous activists and economists have long known: that these costly, corrupt hydropower projects are destroying lives, livelihoods and the vibrant ecosystem of the Amazon, the lungs of the planet,” Kate Horner, executive director of International Rivers, said. “Brazil can meet its energy needs without mega-dams, and now it will finally get the chance.”


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« Reply #4390 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:36 AM »


UK government spells out plan to shut down coal plants

Government unveils phase-out plan, with one of eight remaining power stations to stop generating electricity this year

Adam Vaughan
Guardian
1/15/2018

One of the UK’s eight remaining coal power stations is expected to cease generating electricity this year, the government has said as it laid out new rules that will force all the plants to close by 2025.

The coal phase-out is one of the Conservative party’s flagship green policies, and the long-awaited implementation plan comes ahead of a speech by Theresa May on the environment next week.

While three plants shut in 2016, and most are expected to halt operations by 2022, the last ones standing will be forced to close in October 2025 because of new pollution standards.

However, the plan reveals the sector will continue to be propped up by hundreds of millions of pounds in backup power subsidies for several years, paid through consumer energy bills.

Experts said allowing coal operators to continue receiving capacity market subsidies had thrown the sector an unnecessary lifeline.

Dr Jonathan Marshall, energy analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a UK-based thinktank, said: “While delivering on the top line of a 2025 closure, the government’s decision to allow coal plants to compete in the capacity market on equal footing until then looks like something of a missed opportunity.”

Ministers will also retain emergency powers to suspend the phase-out in the case of an emergency shortfall in electricity supplies.

“We consider it prudent for the secretary of state to retain provisions to act in emergency situations, as a last resort, where there might be a shortfall in electricity generation, or risk of one, and that suspension would wholly or partially mitigate that risk,” the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said.

But officials said it was unlikely those powers would be called on, because the gap created by the coal plants’ closure would probably be filled by old gas power stations staying open longer.

While no coal power stations closed in 2017, the government’s official assessment points out that a carbon tax and relatively low gas prices have hurt the profitability of coal plants.

As a result, it foresees one major plant will close this year, with the loss of up to 250 jobs, followed by a further closure next year. The government predicts coal’s capacity of 13.8GW last year will have plummeted to 1.5GW by 2025 because of unfavourable economics.

The government rejected calls by campaigners and industry groups for the deadline of 2025 to be brought forward, citing cost and energy security grounds. It also rebuffed suggestions of a gradual phase-out before 2025, arguing coal use was low enough to make that unnecessary.

Coal’s fall has been swift and dramatic, with power generation from the polluting fuel plunging by more than 80% since 2012.

Plants have closed in recent years as EU pollution standards started to bite, but it was increases in the UK’s carbon tax that sealed their fate. In the budget, the Treasury confirmed the levy would continue at the same level until 2025.

The closure of the last coal plant in seven years’ time will be mandated through the use of a new emissions performance standard, which ministers will need to legislate for.

The standard sets a limit on the amount of carbon the plants can emit – 450g CO2 per kW hour – which coal operators could meet only by retrofitting costly carbon capture equipment.

Officials said the coal phase-out policy would cost less than 1% of an average household energy bill.

Green groups welcomed the confirmation of the plan. Greenpeace hailed “significant progress on making coal history in the birthplace of the industrial revolution”, while WWF praised government for “hitting this dirty industry where it hurts.”

However, ClientEarth cautioned against replacing coal with another fossil fuel. “We are concerned that the door is left wide open for investments in new, long-term gas capacity, locking us into another generation of fossil fuel power,” said Sam Bright, energy lawyer at the campaigning law firm.

Labour said while it backed the coal phase-out, more support was needed for clean power. Alan Whitehead, shadow energy minister, said: “The government’s lacklustre support for renewables and scrappage of a number of green schemes has left it on course to miss its own climate targets.”


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« Reply #4391 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:42 AM »


Why a Crawfisherman Is Fighting the Bayou Bridge Pipeline

By Emilie Karrick Surrusco
Ecowatch
1/15/2018

Jody Meche and his family have harvested crawfish from Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin for generations. When he set his first trap in the 1980s, he hauled in an abundant catch. These days, his traps come back full of dead crawfish.

Meche holds the oil and gas industry responsible for the steady destruction of a way of life that depends on the bounty of our nation's largest river swamp. The industry dodged regulations and built hundreds of pipelines throughout the basin. The construction left behind mounds of dirt—known as spoil banks—that have systematically destroyed the water quality and created so much sediment that crawfish and other living organisms suffocate.

The Atchafalaya Basin is located in southern Louisiana. The proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline would connect the Dakota Access pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico.

Energy Transfer Partners, a company with a dismal record of protecting the environment, aims to build a new 162-mile pipeline across the basin to connect its controversial Dakota Access pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico. Earthjustice attorneys are representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their legal challenges against that pipeline.

Meche and others are speaking out against the proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline, which would cross 700 bodies of water and impact 600 acres of wetlands. The Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit on Dec. 14 for the project. Earthjustice plans to challenge that decision. Meche shared his thoughts as the fight to protect the Atchafalaya Basin from the Bayou Bridge pipeline headed toward a new stage.

What is special about the Atchafalaya Basin?

"The Atchafalaya Basin is unique to the whole world. There's nowhere else like it. It's home to hundreds of species of migratory birds—there's bald eagles, so many bald eagles—and alligators, fish and so much more. It provides subsistence for the Cajun people.

"We've made our living from the basin for over a century, it gives us food for our families. For me, it's my way of life. It's where I grew up. It's what I know, it's what I've learned."

Crawfish, like this one held up by Jody Meche, are having trouble surviving due to pipeline infrastructure.
Emily Kasik

How has oil and gas development affected the basin?

"They created these pipeline right-of-ways, and instead of flattening out the dirt they excavated, they left it. They interrupted the water flow. And every year, the ecosystem has been on the decline. The crawfish are to the point where they won't live in our crawfish traps unless we let the traps stick out above the top of the water so they can come up for air. The water quality is so poor they can't get enough oxygen out of the water.

"When I first started fishing, you hardly had any problems with crawfish dying. You could set your traps on the bottom, five or six feet in the water, and the crawfish would all be alive.

"Now you go back, and all the crawfish are dead underwater."

How could additional oil and gas development in the basin affect the region's ability to fight flooding and other types of damage during hurricane season?

"It's unbelievable how much these pipelines have caused the bottom to fill up with sand. The bottom used to be below sea level in a lot of areas, and now it's 20 to 30 feet above sea level. In the springtime when you see all these rivers and all these houses flooding all up and down the Mississippi Valley, the Ohio River Valley, the basin is supposed to be able to receive a lot of that water and flow it through to the Gulf of Mexico. They know it can't—so they flirt with disaster every year."

Why don't you trust Energy Transfer Partners to do the right thing?

"It would be a hell of a feat to gain my trust. These companies don't hold up to their end of the bargain. They don't abide by the permits. They don't abide by the regulations. And nobody has held them accountable."

"I'm not opposed to oil and gas. We have a need—we have a tremendous dependence. But with the amount of money these companies make, there's no excuse for them to destroy our Earth the way they have. They have to go back and fix the problems they've caused for the environment."

"I've worked in the oil and gas industry. I know they can do a better job than the way it's been done."

Why did you reach out to Earthjustice for help on this issue?

"It seemed like our only hope. We've tried everything. We've met with governors, we've met with legislators, we've met with colonels with the Army Corps of Engineers, with state agencies, federal agencies—we've met with everybody. We can't hold these people accountable. The state of Louisiana is so controlled by the oil and gas industry, you can't get anything done. It seemed like we had to go outside the state, to someone who cares about our natural world."

What keeps you going in this fight?

"My love for the world I live in. I believe it's my God that's guiding me. He's working through human beings—I'm one of the human beings that he's working through so I can't give up the fight.

"Our natural resources out there, our natural environment and our ecosystems, I've got to give a voice to them and try to scream foul for what has taken place over so many decades. They can't speak for themselves. They can't defend themselves. The trees and the fish and the water and the animals and the birds, somebody has to speak for them."

Around the world, a powerful shift away from fossil fuels toward clean energy is underway—but change won't come fast enough without a concerted fight.

Alongside communities in states across the country, Earthjustice attorneys are fighting pipelines like Bayou Bridge, export terminals and other major fossil fuel infrastructure projects that would seek to lock us into a fossil fuel-fired future.

The challenges we face are not insurmountable. The path to a clean energy transformation is rapidly emerging—and we can all play a role in clearing that path in time to limit temperature rise and guarantee our future. Stay updated on this fight.


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« Reply #4392 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:45 AM »


Energy agency rejects Trump plan to prop up coal and nuclear power plants

The unexpected decision by the Republican-controlled body is a blow to the president’s high-profile mission to revive the struggling US coal industry

Joanna Walters
Guardian
1/15/2018

An independent energy agency on Monday rejected a Trump administration plan to bolster coal-fired and nuclear power plants with subsidies, dealing a blow to the president’s high-profile mission to revive the struggling coal industry.

The decision by the Republican-controlled Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was unexpected and comes amid repeated promises by Trump to rejuvenate coal as the nation’s top power source. The industry has been besieged by multiple bankruptcies and a steady loss of market share as natural gas and renewable energy have flourished.

The energy secretary, Rick Perry, last year proposed fresh government support for coal-fired and nuclear power plants in an effort to slow the rate at which these units are being phased out, stating the output is needed to avoid power outages “in times of supply stress such as recent natural disasters”.

The plan would provide a lifeline to many ageing coal and nuclear plants that would otherwise go out of business, primarily due to the abundance of cheap natural gas and the plummeting cost of renewables.

The Department of Energy has noted that 531 coal-generating units were retired between 2002 and 2016, while eight nuclear reactors have announced retirement plans in the past year.

Donald Trump has vowed to arrest this decline and end the “war” on mining communities by repealing various environmental regulations put in place during the Obama administration.

But non-partisan expert analysis published last month calculated that the plan would cost US taxpayers about $10.6bn a year. And the money would be used to prop up some of the oldest and dirtiest power plants in the country, according to the joint report by research groups Climate Policy Initiative and Energy Innovation.

And in rejecting the proposal on Monday afternoon, the FERC declared that despite claims by the administration to the contrary, there is no evidence that any past or planned retirements of coal-fired power plants pose a threat to reliability of the nation’s electricity grid.

The administration’s plan was opposed by an unusual coalition of business and environmental groups that frequently disagree with each other. Critics said the plan would distort energy markets and raise prices for customers, especially in the north-eastern and midwestern US. One called it “ludicrous” and perverse.

Perry thanked the panel on Monday for addressing his proposal, which he said had initiated a national debate on the resiliency of the nation’s electricity system. The government has not released its own calculation of the cost of the proposal.

“What is not debatable is that a diverse fuel supply, especially with onsite fuel capability, plays an essential role in providing Americans with reliable, resilient and affordable electricity, particularly in times of weather-related stress like we are seeing now,” Perry said.

Perry was referring to his plan to compensate power plant owners that maintain a 90-day fuel supply protected against severe weather and other disruptions, a feature shared by coal and nuclear power but less apparent with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Energy providers outside of coal and nuclear have warned about interference in the free market and manufacturers with high energy needs said higher prices could be passed on to consumers.

Tech giant Apple weighed in on Monday against the proposal, saying it would inhibit innovation and competition and interfere with plans to increase use of “clean energy” such as wind and solar power.

In its decision, the five-member energy panel essentially agreed with critics who said there was no evidence of a threat to the grid’s day-to-day reliability that would justify the emergency action Perry was seeking.

An energy department report last year called reliability “adequate”, citing significant additions to the grid from natural gas, wind and solar.

The FERC said in its decision that it is launching a new process to evaluate the resilience of the nation’s electric grid.


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« Reply #4393 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:48 AM »

Wales Prepares to Ban Physical Punishment of Children

By CEYLAN YEGINSU
JAN. 15, 2018   
Guardian

LONDON — The government of Wales has a question for parents: Is it ever right to physically punish your children?

It began a 12-week feedback process on the issue on Tuesday, with officials saying they hoped to join more than 50 countries that have adopted an outright ban on the practice.

They would also be following the example of Scotland, which announced plans for a ban after a consultation of its own last summer.

“We all want to give our children the best start in life,” said Huw Irranca-Davies, the Welsh minister for children and social care, and a father of three boys. “Children do not come with an instruction manual and sometimes parents need guidance and support to help them raise healthy and happy children.”

Some opposition to a ban has already gathered. A group called Be Reasonable, named after an exemption in current assault laws for “reasonable punishment” of children by parents, says it has more than 1,500 names on a petition against the proposal, in a nation of a little over 3 million people.

“A little gentle slap here and there is just a part of teaching discipline,” a Be Reasonable campaigner, Angie Robins, a mother of three from Newport, in southeast Wales, said in a telephone interview. “It never did anyone any harm.”

The campaigners argue that the law already protects children from abuse and that the authorities should focus on enforcing those laws instead of wasting time on trivial cases and criminalizing “good parents.”

“Every child is different and needs different types of discipline,” Mrs. Robins argued, adding that such decisions should be made by the parent and not the government.

But Welsh government officials say physical punishment is outdated and ineffective, and can have negative long-term effects.

“If there is any potential risk of harm to a child, then it is our obligation as a government to take action,” Mr. Irranca-Davies said.

Sarah Lewis, a nanny of two children in the Welsh capital, Cardiff, said a ban was crucial to protect children because every parent or guardian had a different understanding of what “reasonable” punishment meant.

“I’ve seen parents publicly beat their children when they are misbehaving. and it’s outright abusive and damaging,” Mrs. Lewis said. “You can discipline a child without smacking them.”

Britain’s leading children’s charity, the N.S.P.C.C., welcomed Wales’s move. The charity has long campaigned for children to have the same protection against assault as adults, an N.S.P.C.C. spokesman said, describing it as “a common-sense move, which is about fairness and equality for children.”

Mr. Irranca-Davies said the consultation would help the government address concerns as the legislation develops.


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« Reply #4394 on: Jan 15, 2018, 05:51 AM »

'One guy took a cutlass': gay women at greater risk of violence in Ghana

Research shows Ghanaian women are likelier than men to be abused and cast out of homes and jobs because of their sexual preferences

Verity Bowman
Guardian
15 Jan 2018 14.40 GMT

Women in Ghana are more likely than men to experience violence at the hands of their families because of their sexuality, with many forced many into marriage or sex work, researchers have found.

LGBT women interviewed by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said they had been beaten, evicted from their homes and ostracised by their communities. Many struggled to find accommodation and employment.

Wendy Isaack, who researched and wrote an HRW report on the subject published this week, said family members rarely rounded on men in the same way.

“Often when people say they are documenting human rights abuses of LGBT people they primarily focus on gay men and they don’t tell women’s stories and the violence that women face in their homes, in a place they are supposed to feel safe and protected. This was our most troubling find,” she said.

“Because they are women, you have a number of factors at work: you have the patriarchy, you have the need to control women’s bodies and what decisions women make with their bodies and their minds. That, coming together with sexual orientation, puts women at higher risk of domestic violence.

“In fact, none of the gay men I interviewed reported violence from family members. Not a single one of them.”

Although Ghana has a comprehensive law on domestic violence, a fear of the 1960 Criminal Offences Act, which is interpreted as criminalising gay sex, serves as a barrier to seeking justice.

The law has created a climate in which discrimination against LGBT people is the norm, said the report.

A lesbian couple, Dorothy and Emily, said they were attacked by a mob in their village in the Ashanti region of southern Ghana, after Emily’s mother revealed their sexuality to the community.

“About 20 to 25 people came into the room,” said Dorothy. “My partner was naked, her mother told her to get dressed. One of the guys took a cutlass from the house, wanted to put it on my vagina. We struggled and he burnt my stomach with a piece of hot steel. They managed to cut [my partner] on the face. There was a major hole and she was bleeding. The crowd wanted to kill both of us.”

The women were forced to leave their home without reporting the incident to the police. A neighbour who initially offered them shelter and money to pay for hospital care later demanded sex, leaving the couple homeless. “We don’t have jobs now, so we are forced to do things we don’t want to do. We must have sex with men to survive – we have no family, no money, nothing.”

Unemployment caused by a person’s sexual orientation is a significant problem, the report found. Those interviewed often referenced sex work as their only option.

Teresa, 28, told HRW that LGBT people in Accra, where she lives, can’t get work. She said: “Nobody wants to give them jobs. Also, when the family finds out, they don’t pay your school fees, so you are uneducated. There is also no support to learn a trade. When both lesbian partners don’t work, the femme partner is expected to date and sleep with men to get money — sometimes they both must do sex work to survive.”

Other lesbian and bisexual women in Ghana have little choice but to marry men because of family pressures. Upon discovering their 25-year-old daughter was in a relationship with a woman, Hasina’s parents accepted 1,800 cedis from a 49-year old man who wanted to marry her.

Ghana is a liberal democracy that prizes fundamental human rights, yet it has repeatedly rejected calls by UN bodies to repeal the Criminal Offences Act against “unnatural carnal knowledge”, said HRW, who described the country as one of “profound contradictions”.

Unlike other African states, Ghana has not moved to increase penalties against gay people.


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