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« Reply #75 on: Jun 15, 2018, 04:17 AM »

5 Best Indoor Office Plants—and How to Care for Them

By Andrew Amelinckx

Having a plant or two in your office can really brighten up your space. Studies have found that keeping plants at the office leads to heaps of positive benefits, including increased productivity, better memory retention and reduced stress. But not all of us are born green thumbs.

That's why we've pulled together this simple guide to choosing the best—and easiest-to-care-for indoor office plants, as well as a few simple instructions to prevent your new green friend from heading to an early grave.
Best Indoor Office Plants

It's important to set up yourself—and your office mates—for success. That means choosing a plant that will do well without a ton of natural light, isn't incredibly water-sensitive and that can tolerate the often-dry office air. These five fit the bill:

1. The snake plant (Sanseveria trifasciata) is perfect for the office. It's super-easy to care for and is great at purifying the air, according to NASA. It has stiff spear-like leaves that shoot upwards and are often streaked with yellow. It does well in indirect sunlight and only needs to be watered every two to three weeks. This is a plant you actually have to try to kill—overwatering is really its only kryptonite.

2. Devil's ivy (Epipremnum aureum) is far less intimidating that it sounds. Also commonly known a pathos, this vine-y plant with heart-shaped, waxy, green leaves (sometimes with splashes of white or yellow) earned its moniker because it's nearly impossible to kill. Perfect for an office setting! Devil's ivy does fine in low light and doesn't require much attention. Water when the soil is dry to the touch.

3. Another plant with a high tolerance for neglect is the spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum). This beauty has narrow leaves with white or yellow stripes, and in the spring, producers "runners" that spawn more little baby plants that sort of resemble spiders, hence the name. This is another great one for air purification. Care is simple: Water when the top inch or two of soil is dry, and allow it to dry out between waterings. Bright to medium, indirect sunlight is best, but the spider spider plant is tough and should do fine even in offices without a ton of natural light.

4. Parlor palms (Chamaedora elegans) require a bit more water than some of the other suggestions in this list, but they don't require much else. These slow growing densely-leaved single trunked palms do well in lower-light situations and don't need a ton of space. When the top of the soil is dry, give them a good soaking. In winter or low light conditions they require less watering than if they're getting a lot of sun.

5. Finally, we have the jade plant (Crassula ovata), which is a type of branched succulent shrub that originated in South Africa. Jades do well in dry, warm settings, and they prefer a bit more light. A south-facing windowsill is ideal. Water when the top of the soil is dry to the touch.
What to Avoid

It's best to steer clear of blooming plants, such as tropical hibiscus and Arabian Jasmine, since they tend to require more natural light, could set your office mates' pollen allergies into overdrive, and can be overly perfume-y for a shared workspace.
A Final Word of Advice

As mentioned above, every type of plant has its own needs when it comes to watering. That said, here's a word to the wise: It's much easier to overwater a plant that you realize. Over-watering can kill most of these plants more quickly than under-watering (over-watering causes root rot, and there's no coming back from that). In general, if the plant is drooping, getting brown tips or dry, yellow leaves towards the bottom, you're probably under-watering it. Water less in winter or in offices where the air conditioning is kept on high. A rigid watering schedule isn't required for the plants we've suggested, but if there are multiple people caring for your greenery, or you tend to be forgetful, a watering schedule is a good idea. And lastly: Always use a pot with a drainage hole.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

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« Reply #76 on: Jun 15, 2018, 04:20 AM »

Judge Orders EPA to Comply With Clean Air Act in Ozone Lawsuit


A federal judge ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to fight air pollution entering New York and Connecticut from five other states, Reuters reported.

The EPA had until August 2017 to complete plans for states that failed to adapt to new ozone air-quality standards set by the agency in 2008, but the plans never materialized, a Bloomberg News article published by The Boston Globe reported.

New York and Connecticut therefore sued the EPA in January to try and force it to create ozone plans for Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia and West Virginia, since their emissions impact New York and Connecticut's air.

"The court's decision is a major win for New Yorkers and our public health, forcing the Trump EPA to follow the law and act to address smog pollution blowing into New York from upwind states," New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood told Bloomberg News.

U.S. District Judge John Koeltl of Manhattan, who decided the case, said that New York and Connecticut had successfully proved they would be harmed by ozone coming from the five states in question. The two states, he said, were trying to "protect their citizens from the harmful effects of the high level of dangerous pollutants in their states caused by the pollutants coming from the defaulting states."

Up to two-thirds of New Yorkers breathe unhealthy levels of smog, Underwood said in a statement reported by Reuters.

The judge gave the EPA until December 6 to complete the smog-reduction plans.

"Given the prior violations of the statutory deadline by the EPA, it is a reasonable exercise of the court's equitable powers to require the EPA to do the minimal tasks it has agreed it can do to remedy its past violation of the statute," Koeltl wrote, according to Reuters.

New York and Connecticut sued the EPA specifically for shirking its obligations under the Clean Air Act.

The Clean Air Act's "Good Neighbor" provision mandates that the EPA and states act to mitigate the spread of air pollution across state lines when it could impact the air quality standards of downwind states.

"Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has a duty to take action when upwind states do not meet certain air quality standards and, in this case, the EPA clearly failed to do so," Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said in a statement reported by the Daily Courier-Observer. "We are gratified by the district court's ruling in this matter, and we will continue to work with our partners in New York to hold EPA accountable on this and other matters where it has not met its legal obligations."

An EPA spokesperson told Reuters that the agency would act this month to draft "an action that will address any remaining good neighbor obligations related to the 2008 ozone standard for these and other states," and finalize it by December.

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« Reply #77 on: Jun 15, 2018, 04:24 AM »

How to Build a Chicken Coop

By Brian Barth

If you've taken the plunge and are brooding baby chicks, the only thing that stands between you and a supply of fresh eggs is a permanent place for your hens to call home. By six weeks of age they need something more than a cardboard box to live in.

Building a basic chicken coop for a small flock of birds is a solid weekend project for the determined do-it-yourselfer with basic carpentry skills, while the more elaborate coops could easily take several weeks (and will require advanced carpentry skills).

The internet is awash in plans for backyard chicken coops, which are a great place to look for inspiration, but all coops have two main components: an enclosed space for sleeping and laying eggs and an open air "chicken run" to roam around in during the day. The enclosed space should open directly to the run, but should be elevated at least two feet above it so there is space to collect the droppings that fall through the floor. (More on that in a moment.) There are many possible ways to configure a coop, but here's how to build a basic model that can easily be customized according to your aesthetic tastes.
Step 1: Plan for Size and Location

The first thing to consider is size. The accepted minimum sizes are 2 to 3 square feet per bird inside the coop and 4 to 5 square feet per bird in the run. However, extra space is always better—just like humans, chickens are prone to squabbling when they're packed in tight quarters at all times.

Chickens need shade in the heat of the day, so locating the coop under a large deciduous tree is ideal—they will be cool in summer and can bask in the sun during winter once the leaves have dropped. If a site under a large tree is not available, you'll have to shade the run with shade cloth.

Step 2: Build the Frame

As with most outbuildings, the simplest approach is to begin with a rectangular frame and then add on the various components that are needed. Use naturally rot-resistant lumber—such as cedar or redwood—rather than pressure treated lumber which contains heavy metals, like arsenic, that may be harmful to your chicken's health. The open-air run should be covered with chicken wire (metal mesh) on all sides to prevent predators from entering.

1. Set four 4×4 vertical posts in concrete in a rectangular shape based on the size of the coop you need (4 feet by 8 feet or 6 feet by 12 feet or 8 by 16 feet, for example). Cut the posts so the front ones are 8 feet tall and the back ones are 6 feet tall in preparation for installing a pitched roof over the enclosed portion.

2. Add a 4×4 post 2 feet from the right front corner of the rectangle. This post is to support a gate that will serve as an entryway to the run and should be 8 feet in height.

3. Nail or screw a 2×4 in a horizontal position between the aforementioned posts on the right front corner of the run at a height of 6 feet.

4. Build a gate frame to fit the space of the entryway (a 2- by 6-foot rectangle) using 2×2 lumber. This needs to be nothing more than a rectangle of 2×2s screwed or nailed together. Use an anti-sag gate kit to prevent the 2×2 frame from sagging. Attach the gate frame to the corner post with galvanized gate hinges.

5. Add a pair of parallel 4×4 posts approximately one-third of the distance from the left side of the rectangle. (For example, if the coop was 12 feet wide, these posts would be 4 feet from the posts on the left side corner posts.) These posts are to support the frame of the enclosed portion of the coop. They should correspond to the height of the other front and rear posts.

6. Attach a frame of horizontal 2×4s between the tops of all the posts along the front and back sides of the structure, and add three more at an angle between the three pairs of taller front posts and the shorter rear posts as rafters.

7. Attach a frame of horizontal 2×4s to the four posts on the left side of the rectangle 24 inches above ground level. These will support the floor of the enclosed area.

8. Add floor planks on top of the 2×4 frame across the front two-thirds of the structure, attaching them with galvanized nails or decking screws.

9. Cover the back one-third of the floor with chicken wire. The chickens will be roosting above this part of the floor and the hardware cloth will allow the droppings to fall through so they can be collected from below.

10. Dig a 12-inch trench around the perimeter of the run.

11. Stretch chicken wire between the posts for the run area on the right two-thirds of the rectangle, vertically between the posts (as walls) and horizontally (as a ceiling), using poultry staples to attach it to the wooden frame. Install the chicken wire so it goes to the bottom of the trenches for protection against digging animals and re-fill the trenches with soil to hold it in place. Cover the gate frame with chicken wire, as well. Wear gloves while working with the chicken wire because the edges are sharp.

Step 3: Outfit the Interior

The interior of the run needs nothing more than a thick layer of straw over the ground to absorb chicken droppings and moisture when it rains. A watering device may also be hung from one of the rafters (by bailing wire attached to a nail) so the birds can drink when they're outside during the day. (The base of the waterer should be 6 to 8 inches above ground level.) If the run does not receive shade during the hottest hours of the day, add a layer of shade cloth on top of the chicken wire ceiling. Build a gently sloping ramp at least 8 inches wide from the ground level up to the platform for the enclosed area. Before this area is enclosed, outfit it with the following items:

    A roosting bar made with 2×2 lumber along the back wall over the chicken wire floor (at least 8 inches in length per bird)

    Nest boxes (at least one 12 inch square box for every 4 birds)

    A watering device and a feeder (hang them 6 to 8 inches above the floor of the coop with bailing wire attached to nails that are pounded into one the roof rafters)

    An incandescent bulb to extend the laying season (optional)

Locate the nest boxes along the front wall at least 24 inches above the floor. These can be as simple as wooden shelves with plywood dividers that are filled with straw. Add a 2-inch piece of wood across the front of the boxes to keep the straw from spilling out. There are also prefabricated nest boxes available, though some chicken keepers use plastic kitty litter boxes for nests because they are easy to remove and clean periodically. The roosts should be positioned higher than the nests. Chickens are descended from tree-dwelling jungle fowl and will always seek out the highest point to sleep (and the nests will quickly become soiled if the chickens use them for roosting).

Step 4: Finish the Exterior

Now is the time to add a roof and walls to enclose the nesting and roosting area. Any weatherproof material may be used, but tin is an easy, yet fashionable, choice for the roof, and wood siding makes a quaint exterior for the walls. (Additional 2×4 framing will be necessary for the walls and roof structure.) When you build the walls, make sure to plan for easy access to collect eggs and clean the coop. All access points should be lockable with raccoon-proof latches—a typical gate latch with a carabiner in the turnbuckle is usually sufficient to foil these masked bandits.

Plan for access on three sides:

1. A 12×12 inch door where the ramp comes in from the run.

2. 12×12 inch hatches along the front wall to access the nests for egg collection.

3. A 2×5 foot door on the left wall to access the water and feeder and for cleaning out the coop.

The three types of access doors may be constructed with a simple 2×2 frame in the same fashion as the main entry gate to the chicken run. Instead of covering them with chicken wire, use the same material that was used for the exterior of the coop. (No anti-sag kit will be needed in this case.)

Ventilation is extremely important in summer. The chicken door and the portion of the floor covered with wire mesh will allow air in from below, but there are also needs to be a place for hot air to exit at the top. Either leave space between the eaves of the roof and the top of the walls or cut vents near the top of the walls. In either case, makes sure these spaces are covered with chicken wire to keep critters out.

These are the basics of a functional coop, but feel free to customize it and glorify it any way you like. Ornate trimwork, gaudy knick-knacks and colorful artwork are all par for the course in the world chicken coop décor.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

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« Reply #78 on: Jun 15, 2018, 04:38 AM »

How the #MeToo movement came to Mongolia

A rape allegation against an MP has highlighted progress and challenges in country’s nascent women’s rights movement

Lily Kuo in Ulaanbaatar
15 Jun 2018 05.00 BST

A year ago, Saranzaya Chambuu received a distressed phone call from her sister Naranzaya. Their roommate had brought a male friend home the night before. When she left for work, he stayed. Hours later, Naranzaya called her elder sister. “She was crying and asking: ‘Who was that man? He raped me and then he left.’”

That man, they would soon learn, was a ruling party MP, Gantulga Dorjdugar, who is now under investigation. He says he has been wrongly accused and the two “mutually consented” to having sex.

It is one of the most high-profile political scandals in Mongolia in years, and highlights both the progress and the challenges in a nascent but growing women’s rights movement. Saranzaya, 32, is one of a small but increasingly bold group of women calling on their country to tackle pervasive sexual violence.

For some, this is the beginning of Mongolia’s #MeToo movement, though weak laws and a culture of victim-blaming mean it has a long way to go.

“Some people ask why don’t we stop and why are we fighting for this,” Saranzaya said. “We want to make a path for other women. If this can win in court and they can bring justice to victims, we can prove the system is just and that will help other victims.”

According to Mongolia’s first nation-wide survey on gender-based violence, released on Thursday by the national statistics office and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), 31% of women say they have been subjected to sexual or physical violence by their partner.

One in seven women (14%) say they have been subjected to sexual violence by someone who was not their partner – a figure twice as high as the estimated world average and higher than almost anywhere else in Asia, according to Henriette Jansen, a UNFPA adviser.

“In Mongolia there is huge variation in proportions of women experiencing non-partner sexual violence throughout the country. It is everywhere and sexual abuse against women is quite alarming compared with the rest of the region,” said Jansen.

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« Reply #79 on: Jun 15, 2018, 04:41 AM »

The disappeared of Guatemala: a family’s search for their murdered son

Convictions for ex-military officers over the forced disappearance of 14-year-old Marco Antonio Molina Theissen are bittersweet for relatives desperate to know where he is buried

Nina Lakhani in Guatemala City
15 Jun 2018 07.00 BST

As the court delivered the damning verdict convicting powerful ex-military officers of crimes against humanity, sexual violence and the forced disappearance of 14-year-old Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, his three older sisters and mother clung to each other and wept.

It’s almost 37 years since the schoolboy was bundled into a sack by officers after they had ransacked the family home looking for his sister, Emma Guadalupe, who had managed to escape a military torture chamber.

Marco Antonio’s family has never stopped looking for him, but the boy who dreamed of becoming an engineer was disappeared by a military regime that considered children fair game in its quest to crush political dissent.

The guilty verdicts handed down in Guatemala City last month satisfied the Molina Theissen family’s pursuit for justice against the former “untouchables” – the high command that ordered the systematic persecution, torture, murder and disappearance of civilians considered enemies of the state.

    What I hope is that one day one person who saw what they did and where they buried my son comes forward
    Emma Theissen Álvarez de Molina

Peacetime efforts to tackle impunity have been impeded by the domination of post-war governments by military strongmen. Now is no exception. In the aftermath of the verdict, as rescue workers searched for victims of the Fuego volcano, politicians with military links attempted to sneak through a reform guaranteeing impunity for officers accused of crimes against humanity.

The convictions in Marco Antonio’s case were a victory not just for his family but for thousands of Guatemalans whose lives were destroyed by a US-backed counterinsurgency war masquerading as a legitimate national security policy.

“The verdict is in our name but belongs to all the people like us, who were terrorised and bereaved just for thinking differently,” Maria Eugenia Molina Theissen, one of Marco Antonio’s sisters, tells the Guardian.

However, the legal win was bittersweet. An unofficial military pact of silence means the fundamental question remains unanswered: where is Marco Antonio?

“The verdict validated our testimonies as part of Guatemala’s historical truth, and to get justice after years of struggle is hugely satisfying. But we are left crying because the pain and bitterness over Marco Antonio’s disappearance are still with us,” says Emma Guadalupe, who was 21 when she was captured, in September 1981, after attending a political meeting.

The young activist was taken for interrogation to a military base in Quetzaltenango, western Guatemala, but refused to collaborate. She was given electric shocks to the eyelids, was raped by her captors, and deprived of food and water to create sensory disorientation. Emma escaped by slipping through the cell railings because she had lost so much weight. She fled to Mexico a few weeks later, unaware that her little brother had been taken, most likely in retaliation for her audacious escape.

“Those men know what happened to Marco Antonio, they know where he is, but they won’t tell us,” she says.

Fighting back tears, her mother, Emma Theissen Álvarez de Molina, 84, adds: “It’s very unlikely they will tell us. What I hope is that one day, one person who saw what they did and where they buried my son [will come] forward. Perhaps I won’t be here to see that day, but that’s my hope.”

An estimated 45,000 civilians were forcibly disappeared during Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict, including 5,000 children who, like Marco Antonio, were snatched and never returned. The whereabouts of most victims remains a torturous mystery for their families.

The armed forces and allied paramilitary groups were responsible for 93% of violations during the conflict, which includes more than 150,000 murders in addition to the disappearances, according to the post-war Commission for Historical Clarification.

Indigenous Mayans accounted for 83% of the victims. For Mayans, the burial ritual represents a crucial step between life and death. Mayans believe that until this has taken place, the deceased cannot enter the spiritual world and the survivors will be tormented by their frightened spirits.

The state has shown little interest in tackling this anguish despite various international court rulings. A civil society initiative to establish a national commission to search for the disappeared has been blocked by congress since 2006.

Instead, the search has been left to courageous families, backed by tenacious prosecutors and scientists who have vowed to uncover the truth.

In an inconspicuous colonial house-turned-high-tech lab on the northern outskirts of the capital, the independently funded Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation (FAFG) is dedicated to identifying and returning disappeared loved ones to their families.

Laid on one table are the bones of two women found buried together, which have been cleaned, X-Rayed and arranged in the correct anatomical position. The younger woman was found with shoes but no clothes. The older woman’s cranium was shattered by a single bullet; she was still wearing a threadbare huipil, or embroidered blouse. A handful of coins give clues to the date of death. On another table sits a set of milk teeth from a different grave.

Tissue samples sent for DNA profiling will take several months to process. Then, quality permitting, the profiles will be digitally crosschecked with the 14,000 samples on the FAFG genetic database. From excavation to identification, this is painstaking, expensive work hindered by the military’s refusal to share information.

In spite of this, the FAFG says it has so far uncovered graves in 37 of the 44 military bases its archaeologists have exhumed. Of the 1,510 victims recovered, many were found blindfolded, gagged, with hands tied.

“In the few bases where we’ve not found bodies, it’s because we’ve not yet looked in the right place,” says José Suasnavar, deputy director of FAFG.

There were secret military installations in most of the 300 or so municipalities – like councils – during the conflict, some spread out over acres of private farmland. Without leads from witnesses, it’s like looking for a yellow needle in a giant haystack.

Executed victims were also buried in public cemeteries. In La Verbena, a big cemetery in the capital, FAFG archaeologists discovered 16,000 unidentified bodies in common graves. The cemetery register lists 879 unidentified bodies from 1980 to 1984 – the war’s bloodiest period – with at least one execution-style bullet wound.

It’s possible that Marco Antonio is among the victims, but only 10 people have so far been identified. It’s a matter of resources and military secrets.

“For us to move forward with the search for Marco Antonio, information from the armed forces about where to look is essential … but they won’t give it up,” says Suasnavar.

The Molina Theissen case is the 14th criminal prosecution of civil war crimes since the 1996 peace accords – and the first against high-ranking officers since the 2013 genocide verdict was controversially returned to trial.

The family’s eldest sibling, Ana Lucrecia, 63, who spearheaded the legal chase, explains why she could never let it go. “They were my youngest siblings … I’ve been driven by an absolute conviction that something so atrocious, so cruel, so perverse and ruthless could not go unpunished.”

The four military men were sentenced to between 33 and 58 years in jail. The court has since ordered an array of reparations, including the long-awaited national commission, financial rewards for individuals who turn in credible information about clandestine graves, and the conversion of the base where Emma was tortured into a museum of memory.

Those found guilty in the Molina Theissen case will appeal against the verdict, but for the family, justice has been served no matter what the court rules. Now, they just want Marco Antonio back.

“Like thousands and thousands of other families, all we want is a chance to give him one last hug and bury him so we have a place to go and cry, and to leave flowers,” says Emma.

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« Reply #80 on: Jun 15, 2018, 04:45 AM »

'Phenomenal' Ardern: NZ mothers-to-be on the birth of a new kind of prime minister

Parents and prospective parents reflect on motherhood, child-rearing and what it means to have a prime minister who is doing it too

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin
15 Jun 2018 00.30 BST

In mid-June Jacinda Ardern will become the second serving prime minister in history to give birth while in office. Ardern will take six weeks’ leave after giving birth and when she returns to work her partner, Clarke Gayford, will become a stay-at-home-dad.

Here, New Zealand women with babies due in the same month discuss what it means to have a pregnant prime minister, and how they will balance parenthood, work and a severe lack of sleep.
‘She is phenomenal’

Jaime Faulkner, 36, lives in the rural town of Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands. Married for 12 years to Nathan, a dairy farmer, Faulkner is expecting her fourth child – a girl – on 1 June. Together, the couple have five children. Nathan will not take any leave.

“When I heard the news, I wondered if Jacinda and I were due around the same time. My initial response was ‘wow, I wonder if we went to the same party.’

I was so happy for her, she is a phenomenal woman and to do what she does – she runs the country. All I do is run a little tribe. I am excited for her to be a mum and to experience that. I mean it does my head in every now and then, and you wish you could just have that one day to just be you, but you’d never change what you have once you’ve got it.

    She runs the country. All I do is run a little tribe.
    Jaime Faulkner

I have three jobs. I am a relief teacher at the local high school, waitress at a hotel and also a bartender at a local RSA [Returned and Services’ Association]. I work about 60-plus hours a week.

At home, my eldest is about to turn 16, then 15, then 13, then 12, then 7. I usually get home at midnight, then have a bit of a break and get to bed. Then it’s rinse, lather and repeat really.

Our baby was a complete surprise. Our last two pregnancies were surprises, too, because I was on contraceptive for both. And it was an absolute shock. It did change a lot of plans that we had, but it is a blessing in disguise, and probably what I need to slow me down a bit in terms of work and employment.

Once we found out, it was a matter of making it work. Basically with my mindset it is as easy or as hard as you make it.

Our baby will be delivered by two women I went to high school with, and I trust them completely. We will have some traditional Māori practices when baby is born.

Her umbilical cord will be tied using plaited natural fibre from a flax bush. And her umbilical cord will be put with a piece of pounamu, a greenstone. And a karakia [Māori prayer].

I didn’t do this with the other children, it wasn’t really an option. The midwives I have now, they are offering it more these days. It is becoming more of a common practice.

Women have been doing it [juggling] for years and years and years. But they’ve never been in a position where they’ve been made an example of before.

I was talking to a young girl in town, and she said how can you work three jobs and be eight months pregnant and look after all your kids?

Jacinda’s pregnancy will encourage people and say to them ‘give it a go, it’s not as hard as you think it is’.”

‘I get two days paid leave’

Rosie Whitley-Harford, 27, and husband Adam Harford,31, own their own home in the provincial east coast town of Gisborne, in the North Island. Adam is a school teacher and Rosie is a qualified early childhood educator. They are expecting their first child on 10 June.

Rosie: “We found out I was pregnant the day after I resigned. So that made it quite difficult. I was quite unwell for the first trimester, too, and then it dwindled off. It definitely wasn’t easy at the start. Adam would have to get up in the morning and do me Marmite on toast before I would even get out of bed.”

Adam: “Yeah had to, because even if she put her feet on the ground before she got toast in her she’d have a bad day.”

Rosie: “We know how important it is to have that one person at home. The first three years are so important. So we have decided to have me stay home, and maybe in a year’s time we can talk about me going back to work, or maybe I won’t want to.”

Adam: “Yeah, we have kind of set ourselves up to function off my sole income. So if Rosie needs to stay home, if we want her to stay home, then she can. We know we’re not going to get to go out to dinner every weekend, but that’s the life we’ve set up because that’s more important to us.”

Rosie: “Lots of people say after that paid parental leave stops, that’s when you realise how tight things can be.”

Adam: “We are learning to live within our means. Our type of car is not exactly luxurious. We eat plain meals. We don’t get the best cuts of steak. We live pretty Kiwi I suppose.”

Rosie: “Yeah, we’re pretty modest.”

Adam: “According to my collective agreement I get two days paid leave. I think if things go smoothly, a safe birth, we are hoping just for a week off eh?”

Rosie: “Yeah. I think love is a really big thing. That is our biggest thing, to portray love and kindness, so that is nurtured in the child.”

I was really happy for her [Jacinda]. I thought it was so amazing she could show women in this country that you can be a mum, and you can still do all the other things that make you happy.

And a lot of people were quick to judge it, but at the end of the day she still has to live her life. She’s not just the prime minister.”

    In the last few years I have thought it would be pretty awesome to be a stay-at-home dad.
    Adam Harford

Adam: “I wasn’t really concerned with any of the political nonsense or her being able to carry her role out, I was just happy for her as a person.

I’m jealous as [of Clarke]. In the last few years I have thought it would be pretty awesome to be a stay-at-home dad. There’s kind of two things that count me out, the earning factor, and also Rosie is kind of the child whisperer.

‘We are privileged to have a prime minister who is going to know what it’s like’

Autumn Falk, a medical herbalist, and Jenni Werth, a former occupational therapist, own a medicinal tea business and live in Katikati, Bay of Plenty. They have a tea bar in a caravan which they take to markets and festivals.

Autumn: “It has been a really long process. It was early on in our relationship that we decided we wanted to have children.”

Jenni: “About six years ago we met the father who is a really good friend of ours. And pretty much asked him straightaway and he was like ‘yeah, no problem’. Then, when it came down to it, I think it was a bit more serious thought involved.”

Autumn: “He will be involved in kind of an uncle position. Obviously, the child will know this is their father, yeah. He will definitely have involvement and come and go I guess.”

Jenni: “He won’t have any decision-making rights around raising the baby, but he will definitely be involved.”

Jenni: “I will be full-time mothering for the first year, then we will see how it goes,

I have always wanted to parent, and Autumn is very content with going to work and providing. She is really happy doing that and I am happy being on the land and working in the gardens and being at home.”
Jacinda Ardern on life as a leader, Trump and selfies in the lingerie department
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Autumn: “A lot of people speak to us and say ‘oh your baby is also due in June!’. Just like the prime minister’s one.”

Jenni: “We haven’t followed her pregnancy to the extreme. I am more intrigued with how much of a difference it might make in her understanding of what it’s like to be a working mum – and she’s obviously at one extreme of the spectrum.

I think we are really privileged in New Zealand to have a prime minister who is going to know what that’s like. Because a lot of the decisions that get made in this country are made by people who have no idea what it’s like to be in that situation, and to be outside of a situation and make decisions for a population … it’s a big ask.

Autumn: “I find this quite an extraordinary situation. She is a woman, there are not many countries with leading women in power, and she is young enough to be able to have a child. It is pretty impressive overall.”

Jenni: “I think this will give women a boost, of really believing anything is possible. I really hope for her sake she doesn’t get over-scrutinised with how she manages. But I think it is going to inspire a lot of women.”

Jenni: “I am worried about the lack of sleep.”

Autumn: “The question I am always asking myself is; is it [lack of sleep] really as bad as everyone says?”

Jenni: “It is probably way worse than everyone says.”

‘Lengthening paid parental leave would help’

Robin Burnell, 27, a franchise support worker for a cafe chain and her husband, Sam, 28, a plumber, live in Christchurch and are expecting their first child on 30 June.

Robin: “I grew up really wanting a family. It was really important for both of us. I am just very clucky, very keen on children, very keen on babies.

Change is always challenging, I think. And my normal becoming new is a little bit daunting. But I am really excited, too. A lot of people have talked about not realising how much love you could have for a baby until they are there.

I plan to do six months off. And Sam would love a day at home with the baby as well.”

Sam: “I would love to stay home. But it is all money related. If I can stay home I really want to.”

Robin: “I have no idea how she [Jacinda] does what she does, and not look like she is struggling.

I don’t think she is setting the bar too high, because every pregnancy is different. I just think she is very brave and confident.

I think it would be awesome if the government reviewed how much paid parental leave is available to new parents. I know New Zealand is quite low down compared to other countries, which is hard when they don’t provide paid childcare until minimum two years old and most cases three years old.

It is quite a strain. I think we have a lot of good things in New Zealand, but lengthening paid parental leave would definitely help.”

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« Reply #81 on: Jun 15, 2018, 04:51 AM »

Merkel coalition at risk as talks on refugee policy falter

Issue brings political deadlock in Germany and worsening row between Italy and France

Jon Henley and Kate Connolly in Berlin and Sam Jones in Madrid
15 Jun 2018 16.14 BST

Angela Merkel has come under under intense pressure to tighten Germany’s refugee policies or risk the collapse of her coalition government as an increasingly urgent argument over how to handle irregular migration rattles Europe.

While the standoff between the chancellor and her interior minister, Horst Seehofer, continued on Thursday, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and Italy’s new prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said they would discuss “new initiatives” on immigration this week in Paris.

A day after the Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, called on an “axis of the willing” to tackle the EU’s migration impasse, Pope Francis also weighed in to the debate, demanding more international cooperation on refugees and a “change of mindset” from politicians everywhere.

Merkel and Seehofer spoke for two-and-a-half hours on Wednesday night without reaching agreement on the hardline interior minister’s demand that refugees who arrive at Germany’s borders should be turned back.

The chancellor is said to have urged Seehofer to wait until a 28 June EU summit at which she would seek a Europe-wide agreement. But Seehofer reportedly told her the EU had failed to forge a common policy since the refugee crisis erupted in 2015 and it was hardly credible to think it would do so by the end of the month.

A Bundestag session was interrupted for two hours on Thursday morning so Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party the CSU, to which Seehofer belongs, could hold separate emergency meetings.

Merkel, the EU’s longest-serving leader, on Wednesday called immigration “a litmus test for Europe” requiring “a truly unified approach”, but amid signs that support for her within the CDU is dwindling on the issue, it has also become a flashpoint for mounting tensions within her own conservative bloc.

Italy and France, meanwhile, sought to patch up a worsening diplomatic row over the same question, triggered by Macron’s description of a decision by the Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, to deny a migrant rescue ship access to Italy’s ports as “an act of cynicism and irresponsibility”.

Rome summoned France’s ambassador on Wednesday and Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, demanded an apology, but the Elysée palace said on Thursday the French president had “not made any comment intended to offend Italy or the Italian people” and that Paris sought “constructive dialogue”.

The row centred on the Aquarius, now on its way to Valencia in Spain with 629 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya last week. The ship, operated by the charity SOS Méditerranée, was turned away by both Italy and Malta.

Salvini insisted on Thursday that ships “belonging to foreign organisations and flying foreign flags will not be allowed to dictate Italy’s immigration policy”.

More than 1.8 million migrants have arrived in Europe since 2014 and Italy is currently sheltering 170,000 asylum seekers and an estimated 500,000 unregistered migrants. More than 1 million migrants arrived in Germany in the summer of 2015 after Merkel opened the country’s borders.

The June summit in Brussels is due to discuss proposals to change the bloc’s asylum laws, which currently require refugees to apply for asylum in the first EU country they enter, generally Italy or Greece.

But the bloc is bitterly divided over how to share the burden between southern “frontline” states, northern “destination” countries, and hardline central and east European governments like Hungary and Poland which want nothing to do with any compulsory quota system.

In an interview with the Guardian, Spain’s foreign minister, Josep Borrell, a former president of the European parliament, said Europe had to find agreement over the way to take in asylum seekers. “The approach of people asking for asylum in the first country they reach is now manifestly an obsolete rule that doesn’t work.”

Borell warned that because people often do not want to stay in the country they first arrive in, “unless we can find a solution to these problems, Europe’s Schengen system that will collapse”.

Speaking at a migration conference at the Vatican, Pope Francis urged countries to work together and “move from considering others as threats to our comfort to valuing them as persons ... who can contribute greatly to the enrichment of our society”.

Fallout from the immigration argument could prove most dramatic in Germany, where Seehofer’s CSU faces a state election in October in which it is desperate to stave off the challenge of the anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).

Party leaders believe the CSU needs to be firm on the emotive immigration issue, opening a potentially damaging rift with Merkel’s CDU and provoking the worst crisis of the veteran chancellor’s fourth-term coalition, which took more than six months to build after inconclusive elections last year.

The interior minister’s main demand is that asylum seekers be turned back at the German border if they entered the EU in another country, or have already applied for asylum in Germany and had their applications turned down.

Merkel has said it would be illegal for Germany to take such a unilateral step, which would damage attempts to shape a comprehensive EU policy, but reportedly offered a compromise, proposing bilateral agreements with Italy and Greece.

Merkel and Seehofer have been increasingly at loggerheads over the refugee issue. Political observers say Merkel may rue the day she gave the nod to Seehofer’s appointment as interior minister.

Seehofer’s decision to back out of attending an integration summit in Berlin on Wednesday only increased the tension. He went instead to meet Kurz, after which the two announced a three-way “axis of the willing” between Austria, Germany and Italy to fight illegal immigration.

The move was seen as a deliberate shunning of Merkel and an outright rejection of her ideas on migration policy. According to polls, 65% of Germans reject Merkel’s stance on migration and would like to see tighter controls at Germany’s borders.

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« Reply #82 on: Jun 15, 2018, 04:54 AM »

Russian hopes, fears tied up in Putin's showcase World Cup

New Europe

MOSCOW  — Russian President Vladimir Putin claims soccer and politics have nothing to do with each other, yet the World Cup he kicked off Thursday is about much more than sports. It's about proving to the world that Russia is a global power broker and not an outcast, that it's an open, confident and generous nation — and not an isolated, repressive place hobbled by sanctions.

And the beleaguered Russian team's stunning 5-0 victory in the tournament opener Thursday against Saudi Arabia was just what Putin needed to make the point that Russia is ascendant again. He promptly called the much-criticized coach personally to congratulate him on the unexpected win.

Sidestepping deep divisions between his strongman worldview and that of many Western countries, Putin welcomed fans to his "hospitable" nation by inviting them to "make new friends with people who share the same values."

But critics fear the World Cup will legitimize Putin's autocratic policies at home and Russia's actions abroad, from alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election to annexing the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and a suspected nerve agent attack in Britain. Moscow vehemently denies any interference in the American vote or involvement in the attack against a former Russian spy in Salisbury.

Racism, homophobia, conflicts over Syria and Ukraine — "all these rebukes have no relation to the World Cup," his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday. "Today the soccer dimension is the most important one."

The monthlong World Cup is also about Putin proving to his compatriots that he's both their best global envoy and a man of the people, who brought the world's most-watched sporting event to ordinary soccer fans in 11 cities across Russia's expanse.

That's especially important for a country that prides itself on athletic prowess but whose last massive sporting event — the 2014 Sochi Olympics — was indelibly stained by revelations of doping so widespread that Russia was banned from this year's Winter Games.

"It's important for Russia to have this (tournament), we can show that we are a global football power," said Moscow fan Dmitry Finapetov, his face streaked with white-blue-red paint, as he nearly spilled his beer in excitement at his team's strong showing at Luzhniki Stadium.

"When I used to travel abroad I would think, 'why can't it be like this at home?'" he said. "But now I travel and I think things are better at home. ... Now foreigners can see that too." Geopolitics were front and center for Thursday's opener, with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as Putin's star guest. The two leaders have forged an alliance that has pushed up the global oil price and reshaped the balance of power in the Middle East.

Putin welcomed a "friendly global family" of soccer fans to celebrate the World Cup, but the Kremlin's guest list showed where Russia's allegiances lie: the head of the North Korean upper house of parliament, Lebanon's prime minister and the presidents of Rwanda, Paraguay, Bolivia, Panama and leaders of eight friendly former Soviet republics. Britain's royal family and top politicians are among those who pointedly stayed away.

Electrical engineer Sergei Tabachnikov, who came to Moscow all the way from the Pacific island of Sakhalin for the opening match, welcomed the international scrutiny that comes with hosting an event of this scale and hoped Russia learns something from it.

"Criticism is necessary. It helps us improve," he said. Russian authorities walked a careful line Thursday between hard-line security measures and a veneer of tolerance. A British gay rights activist was arrested for a protest action near Red Square, but quickly released. Later a Russian fan displayed a rainbow flag during Putin's speech, despite a broadly enforced law that bans "propaganda" of homosexuality to children. Security forces shrugged it off.

Minutes before the opening match, riot police hauled an unauthorized flag vendor into a police van just outside Luzhniki Stadium as he shouted "Help me! Help me!" and fans filmed on their phones. An officer then turned to the crowd, speaking in English and saying in a calming voice, "Nothing to worry about, go enjoy the game."

British pop singer Robbie Williams also played it safe in the opening concert. He revved up the crowd but diplomatically avoided singing his hit song "Party Like A Russian" — which is rife with stereotypes about Russian extravagance and includes a dig at an unnamed Russian leader who "alleviates" the population of its wealth.

"Football and love" was the theme of Thursday's opening show, as a debate raged among Russian lawmakers about whether Russian women should hook up with visiting fans. Mostly the mood was exuberant, with Saudi fans taking selfies with Russians in the stadium's corridors despite their rivalry.

Alexander Klimov, who came from the southern Russian city of Stavropol, summed it up by blowing kisses and saying, "Thank you everybody for coming in our country. Welcome to Russia, we love you guys!"

Associated Press writer James Ellingworth contributed to this report.


'Have sex, make babies': Russian MP tells nation to welcome foreign fans

Comments come after another MP warned Russian women against sex with fans, especially those ‘of a different race’

Shaun Walker in Moscow
15 Jun 2018 15.57 BST

A Russian MP has encouraged Russians to have sex with visiting foreign football fans, a day after Russian authorities were embarrassed when one of his fellow parliamentarians warned against World Cup sexual liaisons.

“The more love stories we have connected to the World Cup, the more people from different countries fall in love, the more children are born, the better,” MP Mikhail Degtyaryov said on Thursday, Tass reported.

“Many years from now these children will remember that their parents’ love story began during the World Cup in Russia in 2018.”

His comments come after MP Tamara Pletnyova, head of the Russian parliament’s committee for families, women and children, said on Wednesday that Russians should avoid sexual relations with foreigners, particularly if they were “of a different race”.

“We must give birth to our own children. These [mixed-race] kids suffer and have suffered since Soviet times,” Pletnyova told Govorit Moskva radio station.

She was responding to a question about children born after relationships between Russian women and men from Africa, Latin America or Asia formed during the Moscow Olympics in 1980.

“It’s one thing if they’re of the same race but quite another if they’re of a different race. I’m not a nationalist, but nevertheless I know that children suffer,” she said.

The comments are an embarrassment for Russian authorities, who are trying to present a welcoming and tolerant face to the world as hundreds of thousands of fans descend on the country for the tournament.

President Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, distanced the Kremlin from the comments on Thursday. “As for our Russian women, they will make their own judgment,” he said. “They are the best women in the world.”

Piara Powar, the head of Fare, an anti-discrimination and social inclusion network, said Pletnyova’s comments were an example of an “arrogant clumsiness” among Russian officials on matters of race and discrimination. Powar said the World Cup could be an opportunity for Russia to become more open to the world.

The Russian Football Union’s anti-racism inspector, Alexei Smertin, refused to comment on Pletnyova’s comments, simply saying “No, no, no” and walking away when asked.

Smertin, a former player for Chelsea and the Russian national side, was present at the opening of Diversity House, an initiative by Fare to promote diversity in football.

“Fans who come here once come back again because they know there is no trouble,” said Smertin.

Thousands of fans from across the globe have already arrived in Moscow, chanting and singing in national colours in the city’s central squares ahead of the opening ceremony and first game between Russia and Saudi Arabia. So far the atmosphere has been positive, with no violent incidents reported.

Earlier on Thursday, the British rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was detained by police after launching a one-man protest outside Red Square. Tatchell, who was beaten up at a gay pride event in Moscow in 2007, held a placard saying “Putin fails to act against Chechnya torture of gay people.”

He was approached by police, who escorted him to a nearby police car and said he was being taken to the nearest police station.

“I’m here to protest against the persecution of LGBT people in Russia and also to protest against Fifa for awarding the World Cup to rights abusing countries like Russia and Qatar,” said Tatchell.

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« Reply #83 on: Jun 15, 2018, 04:58 AM »

UK and French leaders reach border deal, disagree on Brexit

New Europe

CAMBERLEY, England  — The leaders of Britain and France met Thursday against a military backdrop to pledge closer cooperation on defense, security and borders after Britain leaves the European Union.

But President Emmanuel Macron also delivered a firm message: the U.K. cannot keep coveted access to the EU for its financial sector after Brexit unless it continues to play by the bloc's rules once it leaves.

"The choice is on the British side, not on my side," Macron said at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May. "If you want access to the single market — including the financial services —- be my guest," he said. "But it means that you need to contribute to the budget and acknowledge European jurisdiction."

The future of Britain's financial sector — which employs more than 1 million people — is a key issue as Britain and the EU hammer out details of their relationship after Brexit. EU officials warn the U.K. it can't hang on to the benefits of membership without accepting its responsibilities, including free movement of people.

May said Britain would be leaving the single market, but wanted a free-trade deal with the bloc covering both goods and services. She said London "will continue to be a major global financial center" after Brexit.

The visit, Macron's first to Britain since he won the French presidency in May 2017, was aimed at strengthening security and intelligence ties between nations that are both neighbors and historic rivals, and building goodwill as Britain negotiates its exit from the EU.

The venue — the Sandhurst military academy southwest of London — was selected as a signal that the relationship between western Europe's two biggest military powers won't be weakened once the U.K. leaves the EU in March 2019.

May treated the French leader to a pub lunch of crab and duck breast, followed by a serving of British military pomp. Macron was greeted at Sandhurst troops from the Coldstream Guards in gray coats and bearskin hats.

Amid a sudden hailstorm, Macron and May inspected the honor guard before taking a salute from soldiers on horseback. Senior ministers from the two countries attended the one-day meeting, and signed agreements on everything from space exploration to tackling online extremism.

In a significant gesture, May offered millions to ease French annoyance over a 2003 deal that placed British border controls in the northern French port of Calais. The town has become a magnet for migrants hoping to reach Britain, and the accord puts the burden of blocking their entry to the U.K. on France.

Alongside a new treaty aimed at better management of their joint border, Britain agreed to pay 44.5 million pounds ($62 million) for fences, security cameras and other measures in Calais and nearby English Channel ports. France also wants Britain to take in more migrants from Calais, especially unaccompanied children.

May pointedly declined to give a number of migrants that Britain would take when asked by journalists at a joint press conference. Instead she stressed the need to clamp down on people smugglers and take other measures to stop migrants from getting to Calais.

Macron said the treaty would mean "smarter and more efficient management of the border" and a faster, more humane processing system for migrants. The U.K. also said it will send three Royal Air Force Chinook helicopters and dozens of personnel to join France's military mission against Islamic militants in Africa's Sahel region. France has led efforts to fight al-Qaida and IS-linked jihadi groups in the vast region south of the Sahara desert.

The leaders of the five main U.K. and French spy agencies also met for the first time, as the two countries seek to increase intelligence-sharing. France and Britain have both faced a string of violent attacks by extremists inspired or directed by the Islamic State group.

In a boost to Macron, Britain is throwing its backing behind the European Intervention Initiative, a multinational European military force that the French president has proposed. He also wants a common European defense budget and security doctrine.

In return, France will send troops to join a U.K.-led NATO battle group in Estonia in 2019, aimed at countering an increasingly assertive Russia. Macron also came with the news that France will loan Britain the Bayeux Tapestry, an 11th-century panorama depicting the Norman conquest of England. It will go on display at an unspecified British venue in 2022.

Macron said that despite Brexit, "we are facing common challenges and sharing the same destiny." "We are somehow making a new tapestry together," he said.

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« Reply #84 on: Jun 15, 2018, 05:15 AM »

DoJ report faults Comey on Clinton email inquiry but finds no political bias

    Ex-FBI director failed to follow protocol, inspector general finds
    No evidence of ‘improper considerations … or political bias’

Sabrina Siddiqui and Lauren Gambino Washington
Fri 15 Jun 2018 08.16 BST

The former FBI director James Comey did not follow protocol in his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the justice department’s independent watchdog has said in a new report.

A highly anticipated review by the DoJ’s inspector general, which was released on Thursday, condemned Comey and a handful of individual FBI personnel.

But the report found no evidence to support Donald Trump’s claim that the agency was motivated by political animus as it investigates potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. It concluded that Comey’s controversial actions around the investigation into Clinton’s emails, although “deviant” from procedure, were not politically biased.

The report also reveals Comey used a private email account to conduct official FBI business. “But my emails,” Clinton tweeted in response.

    Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton)

    But my emails. https://t.co/G7TIWDEG0p
    June 14, 2018

The 500-page report largely focuses on the conduct of the nation’s top law enforcement agency, which is historically non-partisan, during the 2016 presidential election.

The report also includes previously unreported text messages between two FBI officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who privately criticized Trump and previously worked on the bureau’s Russia investigation.

Among the new text messages uncovered in the report is one dated 8 August 2016, three months before the election, in which Page asked: “Trump’s not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok replied: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”

Mueller reassigned Strzok last summer after the anti-Trump messages came to light. Page is no longer with the FBI.

“The conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation,” the inspector general, Michael Horowitz, said in the report.

He nonetheless concluded: “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed.”

Horowitz had a similar assessment for Comey, whose particular actions leading up to the election have been the subject of intense debate due in large part to his reopening of the federal investigation into Clinton’s emails just 11 days before Americans went to the polls.

“While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part,” Horowitz wrote, “we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”

The report calls Comey “insubordinate” and says his actions were “extraordinary” for failing to communicate with his superiors at the DoJ at pivotal moments in the Clinton investigation. It also asserts that a series of errors in senior leadership tarnished the agency’s reputation as a neutral arbiter of justice.

“The damage caused by these employees’ actions extends far beyond the scope of the midyear (Clinton) investigation and goes to the heart of the FBI’s reputation for neutral factfinding and political independence,” the report reads.

In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Comey defended his actions, arguing that “nothing in the inspector general’s report makes me think we did the wrong thing”.

He he added on Twitter: “People of good faith can see an unprecedented situation differently. I pray no director faces it again. Thanks to IG’s people for hard work.”

Clinton offered a wry reply to the report on Twitter. “But my emails,” she said, responding to a reporter who highlighted findings from the report that Comey had used a personal gmail account to conduct official business.

Her campaign has argued that the focus on her use of a private email server was overblown, while Clinton has blamed Comey’s intervention in the waning days of the election cycle for her surprise loss to Trump.

    Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton)

    But my emails. https://t.co/G7TIWDEG0p
    June 14, 2018

The FBI director, Christopher Wray, defended his agency in response to the scathing report that sharply criticized the actions of his predecessor.

“Nothing in this report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole or the FBI as an institution,” Wray told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

In response to the findings, Wray said certain agents had already been referred to the FBI’s disciplinary arm and pledged that the agency “won’t hesitate to hold people accountable”.

Comey was controversially fired by Trump in May 2017 – a move the president conceded was due in part to “this Russia thing”, contradicting the assertions of his own White House that Comey’s role in overseeing the Russia investigation was not a factor in his firing.

The president has repeatedly dismissed the special counsel’s investigation into whether his campaign coordinated with the Russians as a “witch-hunt”. On Thursday, Trump tweeted: “Now that I am back from Singapore, where we had a great result with respect to North Korea, the thought process must sadly go back to the Witch Hunt, always remembering that there was No Collusion and No Obstruction of the fabricated No Crime.”

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said the report “reaffirms the president’s suspicion about Comey’s conduct and about the political bias of some members of the FBI”.

Mueller’s inquiry has produced indictments against at least 20 people and three companies, including several former members of Trump’s campaign. At least three former Trump officials – George Papadopoulos, who was a foreign policy adviser; Michael Flynn; former national security adviser; and Rick Gates, an ex campaign aide – have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about their contacts with Russians.

In a statement, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said the report report “reveals a number of significant errors by the senior leadership of the Department of Justice and the FBI during the previous administration”.

Sessions, who has so far rebuffed Republican calls for a second special counsel to examine the FBI’s Russia investigation, also suggested additional action could be forthcoming pending recommendations from a separate and ongoing review of the bureau’s conduct that is being led by US attorney John Huber.

“The department is not above criticism,” Sessions said. “This has been a prolonged and painful process for the department and the FBI. But this is not the end of the process.”


Trump and family sued by New York attorney general over alleged charity violations

Suit brought by Barbara Underwood says Trump Foundation is ‘little more than an empty shell’ and seeks $2.8m in restitution

Tom McCarthy in New York
15 Jun 2018 17.01 BST

The attorney general of New York state sued the Donald J Trump charitable foundation, President Trump and three of his children on Thursday for violating state charity laws, alleging that the Trumps used charitable assets as “little more than a checkbook for payments to not-for-profits from Mr Trump” and his companies.

Foundation assets, acquired through tax-deductible donations, were used to settle legal claims against one of Trump’s golf clubs and to buy a painting of Trump to be displayed at another club, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit, filed by the attorney general, Barbara Underwood, on the morning of Trump’s 72nd birthday, seeks $2.8m in restitution and penalties from Trump and asks for the distribution of $1m in assets to other charities.

The lawsuit also seeks to dissolve the Trump Foundation and bar the Trumps from serving on the boards of any charitable organizations – Trump senior for 10 years and three of his children for one year.
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In addition to Trump, the lawsuit names his children Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric.

Trump began tweeting soon after the charges were filed, dismissing the lawsuit as the work of “the sleazy New York Democrats” and claiming the foundation “took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000”.

“I won’t settle this case!” Trump tweeted on Thursday. If he does not settle the case, a trial could result, casting a prolonged spotlight on the inner workings of the Trump Organization and probably requiring the president’s personal involvement.

A statement from the Trump Foundation declared “this is politics at its very worst” and painted Underwood as a partisan apparatchik. Underwood, a career staffer and former acting US solicitor general who was promoted last month after her predecessor, Eric Schneiderman, resigned in disgrace, has said she will not seek election to the position which she plans to leave in the fall.

The lawsuit alleges that the foundation engaged in “at least five self-dealing transactions that were unlawful because they benefited Mr Trump or businesses he controls”, Underwood said in a statement.

“These include a $100,000 payment to settle legal claims against Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, $158,000 to settle legal claims against Trump National Golf Club, and $10,000 to purchase a painting of Mr Trump displayed at the Trump National Doral.”

Money used to pay those bills came not from Trump but from would-be charitable donors who paid into the foundation, the lawsuit said. “From 1987 through 2008, Mr Trump personally donated funds to support the foundation,” the suit reads. “Since 2008, however, Mr Trump has not contributed any personal funds to the foundation, which instead has been supported by donations from other persons and entities.”

“The foundation is little more than an empty shell that functions with no oversight from its board of directors,” the lawsuit alleges. “Trump ran the foundation according to whim, rather than law.”

The lawsuit follows an investigation of the Trump foundation that began in June 2016 under the previous New York attorney general, Schneiderman. That investigation followed on the Pulitzer prize-winning work of the Washington Post journalist David Farenthold and others.

Episodes of alleged wrongdoing highlighted by the lawsuit include a charity fundraiser for veterans that Trump held on 28 January 2016, when he was a presidential candidate. Trump held the benefit in lieu of participating in a presidential debate.

The lawsuit alleges that a Trump foundation filing claiming that the event was “to raise funds for veterans’ organizations” was in fact false, because “in reality, the fundraiser was a Trump campaign event in which the Foundation participated”.

“In violation of state and federal law, senior Trump campaign staff, including campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, dictated the timing, amounts and recipients of grants by the foundation to non-profits,” Underwood said in a statement.

To maintain their charitable status under New York state law, organizations are barred from engaging in most political activity.

Schneiderman, who served for seven years, had previously sued the Trump Organization on multiple fronts, and after the inauguration, Schneiderman’s office sued the Trump administration and congressional Republicans at least 100 times.

Shortly before his inauguration, Trump settled a fraud case brought against Trump University by the state attorney general’s office, then run by Schneiderman, for $25m.


Sanders uses Bible to defend Trump's separation of children from families at border

Press secretary rejects criticism of Jeff Sessions citing Romans 13 to justify policy and says ‘it is very biblical to enforce the law’

Ben Jacobs in Washington
Fri 15 Jun 2018 07.13 BST

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, invoked the Bible to defend the Trump administration’s immigration policy of separating mothers from their children.

She was speaking at Thursday’s White House briefing, in response to a question about comments made by the attorney general Jeff Sessions, where he cited a passage in the Bible to justify the policy.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” said Sessions.

He added: “Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves and protect the weak and lawful.”

Sanders was asked about Sessions’ statement, and was challenged: “Where does it say in the Bible that’s moral to take children away from mothers?”

Pushing back, Sanders said: “I’m not aware of the attorney general’s comments or what he would be referencing, but I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is repeated throughout the Bible.”

The policy of separating undocumented parents from their children at the border was announced by Sessions in May as part of a “zero-tolerance policy”.

He said at the time: “If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”

It has since met a wide range of criticism including from the United Nations human rights office as well as from prominent evangelical groups.

Sanders blamed congressional Democrats for the situation, a view shared by Trump on Twitter.

Earlier this week, Trump said: “Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats. Border Security laws should be changed but the Dems can’t get their act together! Started the Wall.”

The decision to separate minors from their parents was a policy decision and not a matter of law. Previously, children and parents had often been kept together in shelters as they awaited hearings on their asylum status or potential deportation.

Heartrending stories about children being separated from their parents at the border and placed in detention collided with negotiations on Capitol Hill over a compromise immigration bill.

In a draft proposal, published by several news outlets on Thursday, the Republican plan would end the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents in addition to providing legal protections for young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

The Republican bill would also ensure more than $23bn in border security, a majority of which would be used to build a wall along the border with Mexico. The House is expected to vote on the bill and an alternative, more conservative plan next week.

The White House defence came as it emerged that the US government will open a temporary shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children in far west Texas, as existing facilities for children reach capacity under the zero-tolerance policy.

A spokesman for the US Department of Health and Human Services said on Thursday that the department had selected the Tornillo port of entry as a temporary shelter location, 40 miles south-east of El Paso, in an area of desert where temperatures routinely approach 100F (37C).

The facility will be able to accommodate up to 360 children in “the next few days,” said the spokesman, Kenneth Wolfe.

Asked if children will be kept in tents, Wolfe said the facility would have “soft-sided structures,” but didn’t immediately clarify what those structures would be.

The numbers of children in existing facilities have surged as the Trump administration institutes a policy of trying to prosecute all people who cross the southern US border without legal permission.

Hundreds of families have been separated, with parents detained and their children placed in government shelters.

On Wednesday, government officials gave a tightly controlled tour of a shelter in Brownsville, Texas, at the other end of the state. Located inside a former Walmart, the shelter is housing nearly 1,500 children.

Many other facilities in the US government network are at or close to capacity.

State representative Mary Gonzalez, whose district includes the port of entry, said government officials had contacted her about two weeks ago to offer a tour of the port of entry, but included few other details.

“It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere,” she said. “It’s in the desert. There is nowhere to go outside, really.”

She added: “I don’t understand where they’re going to put these kids.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report


MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace blisters Sarah Sanders’ ‘straight-up inhumane’ response to kids ripped from their families

Sarah K. Burris
Raw Story
14 Jun 2018 at 17:42 ET                  

Children are being ripped from their mother’s arms by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents following the policy that children be separated from their parents when crossing the border. After one reporter lost his cool with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace eviscerated the White House press secretary for her lack of empathy.

“It’s been a while since I unloaded on one of these,” Wallace said of the daily press briefing. “That was unbelievable. First all, it is a policy change. That’s lie 4,072 told from the White House podium.”

During the press conference, Sanders attacked the reporters, belittling them for being stupid and saying she had to speak in small sentences. Wallace found that amusing given the limited communication President Donald Trump seems to have.

“Most reporters write longer sentences than the president of the United States,” Wallace said. “So, the idea that she has to speak to them in short sentences so they understand is rude and wrong. It is straight up inhumane.”

She wondered why the White House has the no-tolerance policy but when questioned refuses to own up to being “straight up cruel and inhumane.” She said they should fess up and move on to the next question from reporters.

“If you are going to rip an infant from a mother’s arm, just do it. But she wants to have it both ways and smear the reporters. What was that?” she asked.

MSNBC justice and security analyst Matthew Miller said that like Sanders his father was a Baptist minister, and he can’t help but wonder if Sanders was operating from a different kind of Christianity.

“I think I read a different Bible than her,” Miller said. “The Bible taught me growing up that you are supposed to extend a helping hand to the people in the world that have the least.”

He said that often times people in government have to defend things they don’t completely agree with. This, however, is an outright immoral policy.

Watch the full discussion: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6lwmlo


Sarah Sanders gets shamed on live TV over separating families: ‘You’re a parent… don’t you have any empathy?’

David Edwards
Raw Story
14 Jun 2018 at 15:54 ET                  

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders clashed with reporters on Thursday over a White House policy that separates immigrant children from their parents.

During Thursday’s White House briefing, CNN’s Jim Acosta noted that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had claimed that the policy is supported by the Bible.

“Where does it say in the Bible that it’s moral to take children away from their mothers?” Acosta asked.

“I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law,” Sanders replied. “That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the bible. Hold on, Jim, if you’d let me finish. I’m not going to comment on the attorney [general’s] specific comments.”

Acosta pressed Sanders to name the passage of the Bible that supports the administration’s policy.

“That’s not what I said,” Sanders shot back. “I know it’s hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess and please don’t take my word out of context. The separation of an illegal family are the product of the same loopholes the Democrats refuse to close.”

An Associated Press reporter reminded Sanders that there is no law requiring families to be separated, but Sanders refused to acknowledge the substance of the remark.

“It’s not a policy change to enforce the law,” Sanders said.

Without being called on, Playboy correspondent Brian Karem pleaded with Sanders to address the question.

“Come on, Sarah, you’re a parent,” Karem said. “Don’t you have an empathy for what these people are going through? They have less than you do,”

“Settle down,” Sanders snapped.

“These people have nothing,” Karem observed.

“I know you want to get some more TV time,” Sanders quipped.

“Honestly, answer the question,” Karem continued. “You’re a parent of young children. Don’t you have any empathy for what they go through?”

Sanders ignored Karem and moved to the next question.

Watch the video from CNN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVYjP4Z7Tac


‘Your posts make me so sad’: Mika shames Ivanka for sharing kid pics as immigrant families ripped apart

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
15 Jun 2018 at 07:47 ET                   

MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski begged Ivanka Trump on television and in an Instagram comment to stand up for immigrant families being ripped apart by her father’s policies.

The “Morning Joe” co-host commented on a photo posted Thursday by the president’s daughter showing her hiking along a creek, asking the White House adviser to advocate for parents and children separated at the border.

“I wish you would speak for all mothers and take a stand for all mothers and children,” Brzezinski posted. “With respect, your posts make me so sad. I remember we spoke about them and all the hopeful goals you had for all women. There is still time. Please speak up. Use your voice and your platform to help women, Even if it is inconvenient for you.”

“I know this will be deleted but I can only try,” she added. “These are sad times for women to hear them disparaged by the President’s attorney. And awful and horrifying to see what we are doing at the border. As someone who works for the President— you told me you wanted to help women. Now is not too late.”

Brzezinski followed up her social media comment Friday morning on live TV, as she reported on immigrant parents who have been waiting four months for the U.S. to return their babies after they were deported.

“They Skype once a week with their 8-month-olds who have been effectively kidnapped by the Trump administration,” Brzezinski said. “Just kind of look at what happened just yesterday with the attorney general quoting the Bible on this. You have the White House press secretary lying, calling it a law, saying it’s biblical and not admitting that it’s a policy owned by the Trump administration, doing that multiple times.”

She said the policy was a horrifying example of what Trump had done to the U.S. less than halfway through his term.

“This is worse than tone-deaf, because not only is this a story about who we are and redefining who we are in the worst way, this is a story about women and their vital role as mothers,” Brzezinski said.

“When you have babies being taken away from their mothers,” she continued, “you have to ask why the counselor to the president who was brought in to help the president perhaps create good policies surrounding women, parental leave, domestic policies that are important to women in this country, you have to ask why Ivanka Trump is so tone deaf to post a picture about her special day yesterday with her daughter. Again, just missing the mark every step of the way because this is about who we are as a nation. It’s also about women and their vital role as mothers.”

“We’re losing every, every step here, we’re losing a sense of who we are — and it’s wrong,” Brezinski added. “We need people in there with stronger voices.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LL9bpm3AsTY

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« Last Edit: Jun 15, 2018, 06:11 AM by Rad » Logged
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« Reply #85 on: Jun 15, 2018, 06:48 AM »

Trump’s America does not care

by Robert Kagan
June 15 2018
WA Post

Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He writes a monthly foreign affairs column for The Post. He is the author of the forthcoming book “The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World.”

Since the end of the Cold War, it has widely been assumed that U.S. foreign policy would follow one of two courses: Either the United States would continue as primary defender of the international order it created after World War II, or it would pull back from overseas commitments, shed global responsibilities, turn inward and begin transitioning to a post- ­American world. The second approach was where U.S. foreign policy seemed headed under President Barack Obama, and most saw the election of Donald Trump as another step toward withdrawal.

It turns out there was a third option: the United States as rogue superpower, neither isolationist nor internationalist, neither withdrawing nor in decline, but active, powerful and entirely out for itself. In recent months, on trade, Iran, NATO defense spending and perhaps even North Korea, President Trump has shown that a president willing to throw off the moral, ideological and strategic constraints that limited U.S. action in the past can bend this intractable world to his will, at least for a while.

Trump is not merely neglecting the liberal world order; he is milking it for narrow gain, rapidly destroying the trust and sense of common purpose that have held it together and prevented international chaos for seven decades. The successes he is scoring — if they are successes — derive from his willingness to do what past presidents have refused to do: exploit the great disparities of power built into the postwar order, at the expense of the United States’ allies and partners.

At the core of that order was a grand bargain. To ensure the global peace that Americans sought after being pulled into two world wars, the United States became the main provider of security in Europe and East Asia. In Europe, the U.S. security guarantee made European integration possible and provided political, economic and psychological safeguards against a return to the continent’s destructive past. In East Asia, the American guarantee ended the cycle of conflict that had embroiled Japan and China and their neighbors in almost constant warfare since the late 19th century.

The security bargain had an economic dimension. The allies could spend less on defense and more on strengthening their economies and social welfare systems. This, too, was in line with American goals. The United States wanted allied economies to be strong, to counter extremism on both the left and right, and to prevent the arms races and geopolitical competitions that had led to past wars. The United States would not insist on winning every economic contest or every trade deal. The perception by the other powers that they had a reasonably fair chance to succeed economically and sometimes even to surpass the United States — as Japan, Germany and other nations did at various times — was part of the glue that held the order together.

Columnist George F. Will weighs in on national security threats in the age of President Trump and John Bolton. (Gillian Brockell, Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post)

This bargain was the foundation of a liberal world order that benefited all participants, including the United States. But it left the United States’ allies vulnerable, and they remain vulnerable today. They count on the American security guarantee and on access to the United States’ vast market — its prosperous consumers, financial institutions and innovative entrepreneurs.

In the past, U.S. presidents were unwilling to exploit this leverage. They believed the United States had a stake in upholding the liberal world order, even if it meant abiding by or paying lip service to international rules and institutions to provide reassurance. The alternative was a return to the great-power clashes of the past from which the United States could never hope to remain uninvolved. To avoid a world of war and chaos, the United States was, up to a point, willing to play Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians’ ropes, in the interest of reassuring and binding the democratic community together. Europeans and others may have found the United States selfish and overbearing, too eager to use force and too willing to pursue its goals unilaterally, but even President George W. Bush’s America cared about them, if only because Americans had learned through painful experience that they had no choice but to care.

The United States’ allies are about to find out what real unilateralism looks like and what the real exercise of U.S. hegemony feels like, because Trump’s America does not care. It is unencumbered by historical memory. It recognizes no moral, political or strategic commitments. It feels free to pursue objectives without regard to the effect on allies or, for that matter, the world. It has no sense of responsibility to anything beyond itself.

Is this what the American people want? Maybe. Many these days call for greater realism and less idealism in U.S. foreign policy. Here it is. Trump’s policies are pure realism, devoid of ideals and sentiment, pursuing a narrow “national interest” defined strictly in terms of dollars and cents and defense against foreign attack. Trump’s world is a struggle of all-against-all. There are no relationships based on common values. There are merely transactions determined by power. It is the world that a century ago brought us two world wars.

The United States’ adversaries will do well in this world, for Trump’s America does not want war. It will accommodate powers that can harm it. It will pay them the respect they crave and grant them their spheres of interest. Those that depend on the United States, meanwhile, will be treated with disdain, pushed around and used as pawns. At times, they will be hostages to be traded for U.S. gain. The United States and the postwar liberal order protected them and helped them prosper, but it also left them vulnerable to any American leader willing to offer them up as sacrifices to appease aggressors. That is a kind of realism, too.

The United States rejected this approach to the world after 1945, choosing instead to take a broad, “enlightened” view of its interests. It built and defended a world order premised on the idea that Americans would be safe only if democratic and liberal values were safe. It regarded its interests and ideals as intimately bound together, its democratic alliances as permanent. But that was a choice. The United States, with all its great power, could have gone in a different direction. Now it appears to have done so.


What is Trump trying to hide by blaming Canada? The answer may be frightening.

WA Post

PARIS — The president doth protest too much, methinks.

He and his people are trying a lot too hard to set up Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a fall guy. They continue to blame Trudeau’s softly delivered promise not to be pushed around on trade for provoking Trump’s tantrum at the end of the Group of Seven summit in Quebec. The ferocity of President Trump, his aide Peter “Special Place in Hell” Navarro and others is the kind of unintended but revealing signal that poker players call a “tell.”

What could they be trying to hide under a smokescreen of manufactured anger about Trudeau’s unremarkable remarks? A little-noticed (except here in France) event suggests a truly scary answer. The episode in Quebec was the second such Trump-inspired trade communique fracas in 10 days. Trump may well be mounting an all-out assault on global trade organizations and rules as a matter of policy and design, not just pique or domestic politics.

I have covered a dozen or so of the annual summits of the major industrial powers now known as the Group of Seven, where newsworthy events have included Ronald Reagan (quite justifiably) nodding off during a meeting in Venice and Francois Mitterrand writing postcards home from London while his colleagues droned on. These are not gatherings that produce communiques that cause shouts of “Stop-the-presses!” or deep thumb-sucking analysis.

The same is even truer of summits of the 35-nation, Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The OECD is the home of worthwhile studies and virtuous programs to increase members’ prosperity and commerce, and a once-a-year gathering of national leaders.

French President Emmanuel Macron personally hosted this year’s meeting here and urged attendees to produce a communique reinforcing “strong multilateralism,” especially in fighting the effects of climate change and protectionism. For two months, member-states negotiated the terms of the communique and finally reached agreement — only to have the White House block it just before the agreement was to have been unanimously endorsed on May 30.

The French released the document anyway, archly noting that “a consensus minus one” had blessed its contents. That is a very French way of describing America Alone.

Paris was prelude for Quebec and for Trump’s initial acceptance of an equally unexceptional statement of general principles on international cooperation, followed — presumably after having been spun up by Navarro and other antiglobalist aides — by his decision to back out and blame it all on Trudeau. (Navarro’s subsequent apology for the harshness of his language, but not its content, will do little to remove the damage done.)

My first reaction was to think about the U.S. diplomats and other government officials who had labored on the two texts in good faith, achieved difficult compromises that protected American interests and then seen their work trashed by the know-nothings and bureaucratic bullies Trump has gathered around him for the apparent purpose of making sure he follows his own worst instincts. In a career of working abroad as a correspondent and columnist, I had come to respect and admire officials who did this kind of work for the State Department and other agencies. But now they — and the very work they do — are being sold out and made laughingstocks by the president they supposedly represent.

In recent conversations here, European officials cast a more sinister light on what they think Trump has in mind in picking very public fights with America’s closest allies and the institutions they and the United States have created to instill some order and fairness in the international system. These officials fear that Trump is laying the groundwork for a U.S. decision to withdraw from the World Trade Organization, the 164-nation body that adopts and enforces global rules of trade and provides dispute settlement mechanisms when conflicts between nations arise.

Trump may be dreaming that undoing the world’s rules of trade would let America’s overwhelming economic power reorder global trade balances in this country’s favor. The president may welcome such a very Trumpian, dog-eat-dog world. But even if that is not Trump’s intent in whipping up popular anger against globalization, such a world could well be the result of the reckless course he has chosen.

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« Reply #86 on: Jun 15, 2018, 09:42 AM »

Sieg Heil! America

Trump tells Fox News he wants Americans to obey him like North Koreans obey Kim Jong-un

Brad Reed
Raw Story
15 Jun 2018 at 08:54 ET                   

President Donald Trump on Friday told Fox News that he wants American citizens to show him the same reverence that North Koreans show leader Kim Jong-un.

During a surprise interview with “Fox & Friends” on Friday, Trump said he was impressed by the respect that Kim commanded from his people.

“He’s the head of the country — and he’s the strong head, don’t let anyone think anything different,” Trump said during the interview. “He speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same.”

Kim Jong-un runs a totalitarian dictatorship in which people face imprisonment or execution if they criticize him. According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International, North Korea has imprisoned an estimated 120,000 people based on political grounds across four separate camps dedicated to imprisoning political dissidents.

The organization further says that people living in these camps are “subjected to forced labor as well as torture and other ill-treatment.”

Despite this, the president has praised Kim for being a “very tough” leader who “loves” the people of his country.

When asked by Doocy why he was heaping praise upon Kim despite his country’s atrocious human rights record, Trump replied, “I don’t want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family.”

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« Reply #87 on: Jun 15, 2018, 09:57 AM »

Paul Manafort jailed on witness tampering charges

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
15 Jun 2018 at 11:46 ET                   

Paul Manafort was jailed Friday on new charges of witness tampering filed against him last week by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The former Trump campaign chairman was arraigned after his indictment on the new charges, and a judge granted Mueller’s request for Manafort’s $10 million bail to be revoked.

The indictment accuses Manafort of attempting to influence potential witnesses in a sprawling case against him while he awaits trial under house arrest.

Mueller claims the former Trump campaign chairman of sending an encrypted message to a witness connected to his lobbying in Ukraine for pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort’s longtime associate Konstantin Kilimnik — known as his “Russian brain” — was also charged with witness tampering in the same indictment.

His former lieutenant Rick Gates has pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and to lying to investigators, and he has agreed to cooperate in the Mueller investigation.

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« Reply #88 on: Jun 16, 2018, 05:12 AM »

Largest known child sacrifice site discovered in Peru

Researchers believe the 140 children were sacrificed 550 years ago by the Chimú civilisation as floods ravaged the coastline

Associated Press

Archaeologists in northern Peru say they have found evidence of what could be the world’s largest single case of child sacrifice.

The burial site, known as Las Llamas, contains the skeletons of 140 children who were aged between five and 14 when they were ritually sacrificed during a ceremony about 550 years ago, archaeologists said on Friday.

The site, located near the city of Trujillo, also contained the remains of 200 young llamas apparently sacrificed on the same day.

The burial site was apparently built by the Chimú empire. It is thought the children were sacrificed as floods caused by the El Niño weather pattern ravaged the Peruvian coastline.

“They were possibly offering the gods the most important thing they had as a society, and the most important thing is children because they represent the future,” said Gabriel Prieto, an archaeology professor at Peru’s National University of Trujillo, who has led the excavation along with John Verano of Tulane University.

“Llamas were also very important because these people had no other beasts of burden; they were a fundamental part of the economy.”

Prieto said the children were buried facing the sea, while the llamas faced the Andes mountains to the east.

Excavation work at the burial site started in 2011, but the findings were first published on Thursday by National Geographic, which helped finance the investigation.

Prieto said researchers also found footprints that have survived rain and erosion. The small footprints indicate the children were marched to their deaths from Chan Chan, an ancient city 1.5km (one mile) from Las Llamas, he said.

Verano said the children’s skeletons contained lesions on their breastbones, which were probably made by a ceremonial knife. Dislocated ribcages suggest whoever was performing the sacrifices may have been trying to extract the children’s hearts.

Jeffrey Quilter, the director of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, described it as a “remarkable discovery”.

Quilter said the site provides “concrete evidence” that large-scale sacrifices of children occurred in ancient Peru.

“Reports of very large sacrifices are known from other parts of the world, but it is difficult to know if the numbers are exaggerated or not,” Quilter said.

Quilter is heading a team of scientists who will analyse DNA samples from the children’s remains to see if they were related and figure out which areas of the Chimú empire the sacrificed youth came from.

Several ancient cultures in the Americas – including the Maya, the Aztec and the Inca, who conquered the Chimú in the late 15th century – practised human sacrifices, but the mass sacrifice of children is something that has rarely been documented.

« Last Edit: Jun 16, 2018, 05:58 AM by Darja » Logged
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« Reply #89 on: Jun 16, 2018, 05:17 AM »

Delhi's air pollution is now so bad it is literally off the chart

Dust storms come months before the start of city’s traditional ‘pollution season’

Michael Safi in Delhi
16 Jun 2018 14.39 BST

Smog more toxic than can be measured by monitoring devices has blanketed the Indian capital this week, months before the start of Delhi’s traditional “pollution season”.

A thick haze was visible across the city from Tuesday and some government pollution monitors have recorded concentrations of 999 – the highest they can measure – as dust storms kicked up in nearby Rajasthan state blanketed the region.

Though the billowing clouds of dust and sand were blamed for the immediate spike in pollution levels, the sight of dense smog engulfing Delhi months before winter has underscored a growing awareness that harmful air is a year-round problem for the city.

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    river of dust, high atmospheric aerosol loading, and hazardous air quality over N.I. subcontinent, as seen today by @nasa satellites and forecast at https://t.co/wBpx9GB1Cn - data from @NASAEarthData #worldview @airqualityindia @PakAirQuality @Open_AQ @jksmith34 @CBhattacharji pic.twitter.com/KnE25oTBJs
    June 14, 2018

Air quality in Delhi usually begins to plummet in October when slower winds and cooler temperatures trap pollutants closer to the ground.

But data published by the government’s Central Pollution Control Board shows that air quality has been classed “very unhealthy” – with index scores as high as 270 – every April and May for the past three years, or since authorities began collecting and publishing the statistics.

Just a single day in April or May of the past three years had air classified as “good” – 12 April this year, when levels fell to 99. “It clearly shows that this is also a summertime problem,” said Aishwarya Sudhir, an independent researcher who studies air quality in India.

Authorities have ordered a halt to all construction in the capital and its satellite cities until the weekend to reduce pollution levels, and doctors have advised people to stay indoors as much as possible.

Meteorologists said the presence of a layer of dust across the city is also trapping heat, sending temperatures soaring in excess of 40C.

Concern about north India’s air quality crisis is usually most acute after the Hindu festival of Diwali in autumn, when hundreds of thousands of Indians release firecrackers that combine with existing pollutants to form a poisonous haze over the region that persists for months until temperatures cool. Public health experts said pollution levels on some days in November last year were the equivalent of smoking 50 cigarettes per day.

India, home to 14 of the world’s top 20 most polluted cities, has the highest rate of respiratory diseases of any country. A leading lung specialist, Arvind Kumar, says the cancer patients he sees Delhi are younger, more often female and more likely to be non smokers than those outside the city.

Children are the most vulnerable: a 2015 study concluded about half Delhi’s 4.4m schoolchildren had stunted lung development and would never completely recover.

But pressure on local and central governments to act usually clears along with the air in February when warmer temperatures help to thin the smog.

Sudhir said this week’s spike in pollution was a wake-up call that Delhi’s air is rarely safe. “Polluting activities keep going on in the city during summer, including construction, allowing road dust to linger, the operation of coal-fired power plants and other things,” she said.

Under an action plan in place since January 2017, pollution levels of the kind recorded this week should have resulted in trucks being denied entry into the city, the closure of brick kilns and other polluting industries, and a ban on using diesel generators.

Yet the government seems only to implement some of these measures, and only in response to public outcry, she said.

“We tend to act only when it’s an emergency,” she said. “There were forecasts that dust storms would sweep the entire region. They should have acted on these weeks ago, not when it became this severe.”

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