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Author Topic: ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE, GLOBAL WARMING, AND CULTURE  (Read 2262271 times)
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Rad
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« on: Nov 22, 2015, 09:31 AM »

All,

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

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

God Bless, Rad
« Last Edit: Oct 14, 2018, 09:05 AM by Rad » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 23, 2018, 09:29 AM »

Trump back to desperately claiming Russia probe is a ‘hoax’ after newly released document destroys his defense

Heather Digby Parton, Salon
23 Jul 2018 at 11:14 ET                   

Late on Saturday night, the U.S. government released a trove of documents pertaining to the warrant obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, against Carter Page, the suspected Russian asset and former Trump adviser. This release was highly unusual. In fact, it was unprecedented. These were unclassified more or less by accident when President Trump unilaterally declassified the notorious “Nunes memo,” leaving the door open for the Freedom of Information Act request that led to this release of the underlying documents on which it was based.

For those following the right-wing “deep state” conspiracy, this was a big moment. House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and his henchmen had charged that the FBI used the controversial Steele dossier as the evidence to get a warrant for surveillance of Page during the presidential campaign. Their conspiracy theory is that the dossier is a partisan hit job and that the FBI failed to reveal that to the FISA judges; therefore, the entire investigation into campaign interference in the 2016 election is discredited.

These documents do not prove their case. It’s hard to judge specifically what evidence was presented because of the heavy redactions, but one can still discern that the request was not solely based on the dossier and that the FBI did not conceal the fact that the dossier had been paid for by an opposing party. Steele had been viewed as a reliable informant in the past, but there was plenty of evidence from other sources. Indeed, Page had been on the FBI’s radar for several years as a possible Russian asset, and when he started buzzing around a presidential campaign it naturally attracted the bureau’s notice. In the documents, Page is described as possibly “collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government.”

The FBI did not apply for permission to start surveillance until after Page had left the Trump campaign, and four successive Republican-appointed FISA judges signed off on the warrant. There are plenty of reasons for civil libertarians to be suspicious of the FISA process, but this does not seem to be a case that merits it. A man long suspected of having been recruited by a foreign government was suddenly named as an adviser to a presidential campaign. The FBI would have been derelict in its duty if they hadn’t looked into it.

In a sane political world, Nunes would be facing a world of hurt following the release of these documents, and the president would also be facing serious political fallout for endorsing Nunes’ crude defense. We do not live in a sane world. This is what Trump tweeted when the documents were released:

    Congratulations to @JudicialWatch and @TomFitton on being successful in getting the Carter Page FISA documents. As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of “Justice” and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2018

    Looking more & more like the Trump Campaign for President was illegally being spied upon (surveillance) for the political gain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Ask her how that worked out – she did better with Crazy Bernie. Republicans must get tough now. An illegal Scam!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2018

    .@PeteHegseth on @FoxNews “Source #1 was the (Fake) Dossier. Yes, the Dirty Dossier, paid for by Democrats as a hit piece against Trump, and looking for information that could discredit Candidate #1 Trump. Carter Page was just the foot to surveil the Trump campaign…” ILLEGAL!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2018

    So President Obama knew about Russia before the Election. Why didn’t he do something about it? Why didn’t he tell our campaign? Because it is all a big hoax, that’s why, and he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win!!!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2018

Yes, after having to choke out last week that the Russians did indeed interfere in the election, the president wound up his Twitter tirade by once again saying that it’s all a big hoax — and we’re right back where we started.

Charlie Savage of the New York Times explained it this way:

    Mr. Trump’s portrayal, which came as the administration is trying to repair the damage from his widely criticized meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, revived the claims put forward in February by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee. But in respect after respect, the newly disclosed documents instead corroborated rebuttals by Democrats on the panel who had seen the top-secret materials and accused Republicans of mischaracterizing them to protect the president.

It doesn’t seem to matter. Page himself appeared on CNN on Sunday with a crazed smile on his face, claiming that the whole thing is “spin” and that none of it was justified. After being repeatedly pressed by Jake Tapper, he admitted that he had once served as an “informal” adviser to the Russia government but that it was unreasonable to say that he was wittingly or unwittingly working for them during the campaign.

It may be that Page is innocent of the charges. But after reading the warrant application there is little doubt that the government had ample reason to be suspicious. And after Trump’s performance in Helsinki last week, all the suspicions about Russian involvement in the election have risen to new levels, so Page’s protestations ring even more hollow.

Republicans in Congress demonstrated their spinelessness once again. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., played dumb on “Face the Nation,” saying, “If the dossier is the reason you issued the warrant, it was a bunch of garbage. The dossier has proven to be a bunch of garbage.” He obviously hadn’t read the documents or he would have known that the dossier wasn’t the principal reason they issued the warrant. Clever of him to put it that way though.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was more rational, telling Tapper on CNN that he didn’t think the FBI “did anything wrong. I think they went to the court. They got the judges to approve it. They laid out all the information ― and there was a lot of reasons . . . for why they wanted to look at Carter Page.” He hemmed and hawed about the implications, but at least he acknowledged reality.

Other Republicans are diving deeper into the rabbit hole. National Review’s Andrew McCarthy is all the way in, calling for the investigation of the Republican judges who signed the warrants:

    Andrew McCarthy – “I said this could never happen. This is so bad that they should be looking at the judges who signed off on this stuff, not just the people who gave it. It is so bad it screams out at you.” On the whole FISA scam which led to the rigged Mueller Witch Hunt!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2018

After years of practice, Republicans have developed a knack for inventing scandals and getting the press to buy into them. Normally such scandals only involve Democrats, but Trump’s Russia collusion scandal requires a bit of fancy political jiu-jitsu. It remains to be seen whether they can pull it off. The formerly patriotic staunch defenders of law and order have had to turn on a dime and convince their voters and the media that the American justice system has engaged in a corrupt conspiracy against Donald Trump and created this Russia conspiracy theory out of whole cloth.

In this case, right-wingers latched on to an old leftist trope about the “deep state,” meaning the intelligence apparatus and other aspects of permanent government, and are running with it as if they were the second coming of Noam Chomsky. They feed the press cherry-picked bits of paranoid nonsense, which are then floated into the ether, supposedly providing a basis for an “investigation.” Regardless of the actual outcome, millions of people will be convinced that there is merit to the charge because “if there’s so much smoke, there must be fire.” Millions more will listen to Trump’s lies and believe them.

If these Republicans were acting from a set of constitutional principles, these concerns about the civil liberties of Trump campaign officials might wake them up to the offenses commonly committed against Muslim suspects and the ill-treatment of immigrants as well as other outrages of the American “carceral state ” Unfortunately, this is a one-time deal. It seems that wealthy Republicans are the real victims and the only true citizens whom the Bill of Rights was intended to protect.


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« Reply #2 on: Jul 24, 2018, 04:03 AM »


The oldest known color made by a living creature on Earth is not what you’d guess

BGR
7/24/2018

Today, when you look around the Earth, you see a lot of green. It’s easy to imagine that things were the same before humans or even dinosaurs roamed the Earth, but if you go back far enough you’ll find life that didn’t have much interest in the color green. New research has revealed what is thought to be the oldest known pigment created by a living creature… and it’s pink.

Scientists from the Australian National University were studying ancient marine shale — a type of rock that is formed from mud or sediment — when they discovered what seems to be the leftovers of some seriously old bacteria. The researchers ground up the shale and were able to isolate the pigment that was present in the bacteria, noting that it shines a brilliant pink when held up to sunlight.

The team believes that the bacteria created the pigment during photosynthesis. The tiny bacteria are a rare find for scientists, since they typically break down before even having a chance to become fossilized. In this case, the researchers believe that a large number of bacteria died and piled up, allowing them to be preserved for the long term. The bacteria are thought to be an incredible 1.1 billion years old.

“When held against the sunlight, they are actually a neon pink,” senior researcher Jochen Brocks explained to the BBC. “At first I thought it had been contaminated. It is just amazing that something with a biological color can survive for such a long time.”

We know surprisingly little about what the Earth might have been like a billion (or more) years ago. The remains of complex life forms don’t pop up in the fossil record until hundreds of millions of years later, and soft-bodied organisms that evolved in the ocean don’t tend to make for good fossils. Studies like this one allow us a rare glimpse into the distant past, and now we know that the past was pink.


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« Reply #3 on: Jul 24, 2018, 04:07 AM »

Pay More Attention to Forests to Avert Global Water Crisis, Researchers Urge

Ecowatch
7/24/2018

Australia's Murray Darling basin covers more than a million square kilometers (approximately 386,000 square miles), 14 percent of the country's landmass. It's the site of tens of thousands of wetlands, but increasing demand for water has stretched its resources to the limit.

Many of the basin's wetlands and floodplain forests are declining—several former wetlands and forests have even been consumed by bushfires, which are becoming more frequent every year. Yet when Australian officials sought to introduce strict water allocation rules, they met with fierce resistance from farmers in the region who depend on irrigation for their livelihood.

This is just one example of the ongoing conflicts over ecological water allocations featured in a new report released by the Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) on Forests and Water, an initiative led by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

More than 7.5 billion humans currently occupy planet Earth together with an estimated three trillion trees, and both of these populations require water. According to the GFEP report, the growing human population and climate change are exacerbating a looming global water crisis that has already hit home in places like the Murray Darling basin—but the crisis could potentially be averted if humans paid more attention to the links between forests and water.

"This international effort to highlight the interlinkages between forests, water, people and climate is very timely, given the pressures we now face on both human society and natural ecosystems," Caroline Sullivan, an environmental economist at Australia's Southern Cross University who contributed to the report, said in a statement. "For example, here in Australia, we are facing water shortages, massive loss of biodiversity, rising incidence of floods and droughts, and loss of economic capital and human wellbeing."

Despite the links between the global climate, forests, people and water, international bodies like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have tended to view carbon sequestration as the chief role of forests and trees. GFEP co-chair Meine van Noordwijk, chief scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Indonesia and a professor of agroforestry at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, warns that we ignore the importance of water in the climate debate at our own peril.

"In view of the vital role water plays, even in facilitating the continuous sequestration of carbon in standing forests, a lack of understanding of landscape-scale effects amongst the forest and water science communities and policymakers is of increasing concern," Noordwijk said in a statement.

The GFEP report finds that water should be key to discussions of the interactions between forests and the global climate, especially in areas of water scarcity, because strategies focused entirely on carbon sequestration can still have drastic and unintended consequences for water resources. For example, reforestation projects need to take into account the water needs of new foliage and prioritize the use of species that are adapted to local conditions, per the report.

Irena Creed of the University of Saskatchewan in Canada is the other co-chair of the GFEP and co-editor of the report along with Noordwijk. She says that, just as it is missing from the climate debate, water is often overlooked as an important component of forest management.

"Natural forests, in particular, contribute to the sustainable water supply for people in the face of growing risks," Creed said in a statement. "And it is also possible to actively manage forests for water resilience."

For instance, the report spotlights the example of the various countries in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya region that have revived dried-up springs by applying water-sensitive land management strategies in recharge zones.

Creed added that the future impacts of climate change introduce a level of unpredictability that we will also have to learn to deal with. "Natural disturbances and human activities influence forest and water relations with their impacts, depending on their timing, magnitude, intensity and duration," she said. "Under a changing climate, these influencing factors vary more than ever, sometimes in unanticipated ways. Forest management for the future must therefore factor in uncertainty."

Noordwijk notes that, "In our assessment, we focused on the following key questions: Do forests matter? Who is responsible and what should be done? How can progress be made and measured?" Because the answers to those questions depend heavily on regional context, Noordwijk, Creed and their co-authors seek to identify "globally relevant information on forest-water interactions" and highlight implications for international policymakers in the report. Specifically, they look at how a better understanding of the climate-forest-people-water connection can help achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) laid out by the UN in its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

"Governments and all stakeholders wanting to achieve the SDGs need to understand that water is central to attaining almost all of these goals, and forests are inseparably tied to water," Hiroto Mitsugi, assistant director-general at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, said in a statement. "Policy and management responses must therefore tackle multiple water-related objectives across the range of SDGs, and take a multiple benefits approach."

The report concludes that governance of water and forests as resources can be improved "to reduce the identified hydro-vulnerability in the context of all SDGs, and the persistent and growing threats arising from climate change. Failure to place water at the centre of discussions on forest-climate interactions and diverse forestation strategies, will have important negative impacts on policy effectiveness and ultimately on the provision of water."

International governance can play a "highly important" role, the report states, by creating norms such as the SDGs, and providing opportunities for those norms to be discussed, negotiated and agreed upon. "National level governance can also be radically improved," the report adds, "in particular, by beginning to bring together competing sectors of the economy into national level institutional frameworks that encourage cooperation and negotiation across the broader scope of forest and water interactions."


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« Reply #4 on: Jul 24, 2018, 04:12 AM »


UN Pact Acknowledges Climate Migration for the First Time

Ecowatch
7/24/2018

The final draft of a UN compact on migration published July 11 recognized the existence of climate refugees specifically for the first time, The Thomas Reuters Foundation reported Thursday.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration acknowledged climate change as a cause of migration, both due to extreme weather and "slow onset events" like drought after various advocacy groups pushed for the addition.

"It's the first time the international community has recognized that migration and displacement can be caused by climate change disasters and has made specific commitments on how to address that," Walter Kaelin from the Platform on Disaster Displacement told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Weather disasters displaced an average of 26.4 million people a year between 2008 and 2015, according the UN. And in March the World Bank warned that more than 140 million people in Africa, South Asia and Latin America could be forced to migrate due to climate change unless the world acts quickly to lower emissions, according to Reuters.

Most of the climate change mentions in the current compact come under Objective No. 3, calling on signatories to "Minimize the adverse drivers and structural factors that compel people to leave their country of origin."

The compact lists investing in "climate change mitigation" as one way to minimize these forces.

The compact also calls on signatories to share information to better understand and predict climate-caused migrations, develop strategies to combat the effects of climate change, consider possible displacement when creating disaster response plans, coordinate at a regional and subregional level to make sure the humanitarian needs and rights of climate migrants are met and develop strategies to respond to the challenges posed by climate-based migration movements.

"After this compact, no one can say: 'We don't see a relation between climate change and displacement and migration,'" head of climate change and resilience policy at CARE International Sven Harmeling told The Thomas Reuters Foundation.

"But we'll have to see how fast and how many governments will sign up to this," he added.

The compact will be officially adopted at a meeting in Morocco in December.

The compact is non-binding and does not require countries to agree to targeted goals or to grant any climate migrant legal status.

It was first begun in 2015 in response to the refugee crisis in Europe, which saw the largest number of refugees enter the region since World War II.

The compact was originally agreed to by all 193 UN member countries, but the U.S. pulled out last year and Hungary also promised to withdraw Wednesday.

The U.S. government has since come under fire for its treatment of Central American asylum seekers at the country's southern border, some of whom are partly fleeing drought and food insecurity linked to climate change.


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« Reply #5 on: Jul 24, 2018, 04:15 AM »

 
Shocking Wave of Plastics Washes Ashore in Dominican Republic

Ecowatch
7/24/2018

A literal wave of mostly plastic marine debris, including beverage bottles and takeaway containers, was filmed washing ashore Montesinos Beach in the Dominican Republic capital after a storm on Thursday.

The footage was captured by the environmental nonprofit Parley for the Oceans, which described the plastic flow as a "dense garbage carpet."

In an interview with BBC News, Parley founder Cyrill Gutsch described the scene as "unfortunately, the new normal."

"Plastic is a design failure and there is no circular economy that can fix this," he said. "It's really the material itself, and we don't believe this material can ever be contained."

More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year, according to a 2015 study published in Science. This debris has negatively impacted more than 800 species of marine animals, a 2016 United Nations report found.

What's more, as Gutsch noted, the chemicals that the plastics carry can also pose threat to the environment.

"Even if you recycle [plastic] and even if you use it in the best possible way, it always leaches chemicals. And that's what you don't see in this video, all these toxic liquids that come with it," he told BBC.

Parley said it is working with the local navy, the army, public workers and the Santo Domingo government to clear the plastic tide.

More than 500 public workers were recruited for the operation. After three days of work, the teams collected 30 tons of plastic, the group said.

So far, six tons of the recovered plastic will be transformed into a material used to create products, Parley added.

The nonprofit has teamed up with a number of major sports and fashion brands to transform plastic collected and recycled from the oceans into new items such as running shoes and sunglasses.

Watch the nightmare: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9UdkV8r0h8


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« Reply #6 on: Jul 24, 2018, 04:18 AM »


'This Is Zero Hour': Youth-Led Marches Across the Globe Demand Immediate Climate Action

By Jake Johnson
Ecowatch
7/24/2018

Declaring that climate change is "an issue of survival" that must be confronted with urgency, young activists across the globe on Saturday kicked off three days of marches and demonstrations to pressure elected officials to "reject the corrupting monetary influence of fossil fuel executives," ban all new dirty energy developments, and safeguard the planet for both its current inhabitants and future generations.

"Climate change is our last chance to either fix colossal systems of inequality and emerge as a more efficient, better equipped society as a whole, or reach a chaotic state where your privilege ultimately decides if you live or die," said 16-year-old climate activist Ivy Jaguzny ahead of Saturday's events, which are expected to take place "in cities from Washington, DC to Butere, Kenya."

"This isn't something that's going to affect us 70, 80 years in the future," added Talia Grace, social media director for Zero Hour, the movement behind this weekend's mass actions. "This is going to affect us. Our futures, our careers, our lives."

"This Is Zero Hour," the slogan and label of the worldwide marches, is aimed at clearly articulating the necessity of immediate and bold climate action as warming global temperatures continue to spark extreme weather events and wreak havoc, disproportionately inflicting irreversible harm on the poorest nations and most vulnerable communities.

A year of relentless organizing and planning in the making, the three days of action beginning Saturday are bolstered by a detailed and ambitious platform (pdf) that calls on political leaders to:

    Respect the rights of Indigenous people;
    "Recognize the constitutional right of youth to a livable climate";
    Eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies "immediately"; and
    "Ban all new fossil fuel infrastructure and make massive investment in local solar and wind energy companies" in the coming years.

"Kids are suing the government, we're marching, we're lobbying, we're just pretty much just getting down and just begging them: Can I not have a world that's totally falling apart?" Jamie Margolin, a 16-year-old environmentalist, told the Huffington Post.

"Everything is on the line, so it's very hard to plan your future assuming that everything is going to be the same when you know it's not," Margolin added. "It's really scary, especially for a young person who is looking into what I want to do with my life ... I just want to have a world to grow up in where I can live my life and not have to worry about such existential fears."

Early Saturday, speeches and marches began to kick off in Trafalgar Square in London.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHzWGj1-NIY


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« Reply #7 on: Jul 24, 2018, 04:21 AM »


Typhoons, Floods, Heat Waves Batter Asia

Ecowatch
7/24/2018

From flash floods in Vietnam to a blistering heat wave in Japan, countries across Asia are suffering from extreme weather, CNN reported Sunday.

The events come nearly two months into the continent's annual rainy season that extends from June to November, according to The Straits Times.

A 2016 study showed that typhoons in Asia had gotten 50 percent more intense in the last 40 years due to increased ocean temperatures and were likely to get even more intense due to climate change, The Guardian reported.

In Vietnam, Typhoon Son Tinh made landfall as a tropical depression on Wednesday, The Straits Times reported.

It led to flash floods and landslides that claimed at least 21 lives and inundated villages in the country's north, CNN reported.

The flooding has damaged 15,000 homes and submerged 110,000 hectares (approximately 271815.92 acres) of farmland, The Straits Times reported.

In Shanghai, another tropical storm forced more than 190,000 people to evacuate as it made landfall Sunday afternoon.

"Ampil, the 10th typhoon this year, has made landfall on the island of Chongming in Shanghai at 12:30 p.m. local time Sunday (12:30 a.m. ET), packing winds of up to 28 meters (approximately 75.5 feet) per second near its eye," the municipal meteorological observatory told state-run media outlet Xinhua, according to CNN.

Both of these storms also battered the Philippines, which is now seeing the end of Tropical Depression 13W or Josie.

Philippines authorities said Saturday that at least five people have died and more than 700,000 have been impacted by floods and landslides caused by heavy rain, The Straits Times reported.

Finally, a deadly heat wave has struck Japan as it recovers from catastrophic flooding.

The heat wave has lasted two weeks and killed at least 30 people, BBC News reported Saturday.

The government issued new warnings Monday as the nation's highest ever temperature of 41.1 degrees Celsius (approximately 106 degrees Fahrenheit) was recorded in Kumagaya in Saitama outside Tokyo, The Times of India reported.

Temperatures in Kyoto have stayed above 38 degrees Celsius (approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit) for seven days, the longest in recorded history.

CNN's Van Dam reported that the heat wave had impacted around 90 percent of the country and that the heat index, which factors in humidity, had risen into the 40s.

"Sweating is only as good as your body's ability to evaporate that sweat off of the skin. Heat indices in the mid 40s are making it nearly impossible for the body's response to properly take effect," he told CNN.

The heat wave is also making it harder for volunteers working in areas of the country hit by devastating floods earlier in the month, BBC News reported.


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« Reply #8 on: Jul 24, 2018, 04:24 AM »


Monsanto's 'cancer-causing' weedkiller destroyed my life, dying man tells court

Testifying in landmark trial, former school groundskeeper describes suffering allegedly caused by company’s chemicals

Sam Levin in San Francisco
Guardian
Tue 24 Jul 2018 01.38 BST

Dewayne Johnson said that if he had known what he knew now about Roundup weedkiller, “I would’ve never sprayed that product on school grounds ... if I knew it would cause harm ... It’s unethical.”

Johnson, a former school groundskeeper in northern California who is terminally ill, was testifying Monday in his landmark suit against Monsanto about the cancer risks of the company’s popular weedkiller. He is the first person to take the agrochemical company to trial over allegations that the chemical sold under the Roundup brand is linked to cancer.

He spoke for the first time during the trial in San Francisco, detailing his use of Monsanto’s products, his extensive exposure to herbicides, and his belief that the chemicals caused non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a blood cell cancer. He also described the suffering he endured as skin lesions took over his body.

“I’ve been going through a lot of pain,” said Johnson, a father of three who goes by the name Lee. “It really takes everything out of you ... I’m not getting any better.”

His doctors have said he may have just months to live.

Johnson’s lawyers have argued in court that Monsanto has “fought science” over the years and worked to “bully” researchers who have raised concerns about potential health risks of its herbicide product. At the start of the trial, the attorneys presented internal Monsanto emails that they said revealed the corporation’s repeated efforts to ignore expert’s warnings while seeking favorable scientific analyses and helping to “ghostwrite” positive papers.

Thousands have brought similar legal claims across the US, and a federal judge in California ruled this month that hundreds of cancer survivors or those who lost loved ones can also proceed to trial. Johnson’s case has attracted international attention, with the judge allowing his team to present scientific arguments about glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide.

Monsanto has continued to assert that Roundup, which is registered in 130 countries and approved for use on more than 100 crops, is safe and not linked to cancer, despite studies suggesting the contrary. Notably, the World Health Organization’s international agency for research on cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015, a decision that has been central at the trial.

Johnson, 46, took the stand in a crowded courtroom and said he was excited when he first got a job as a groundskeeper and pest manager for the school district in Benicia, a suburb north of San Francisco. Part of the work, which began in 2012, involved spraying herbicide to control weeds on school grounds – sometimes for several hours a day.

Although he wore extensive protective gear while spraying, he was often exposed to the Roundup and Ranger Pro chemicals, both glyphosate-based Monsanto products, due to “drift”, he testified.

“You were getting it on your face everyday,” he said. “It was kind of unavoidable.”
Monsanto has continued to assert that Roundup is safe.

Johnson described two incidents in which he said he was badly exposed to the chemicals due to mishaps and leaking while spraying, including a hose breaking.

“It got on my clothes, got on everything,” he said of one incident, noting that prior to his cancer, he had “perfect skin”, but after he started spraying and suffered exposures, he got sick and began seeing rashes, lesions and sores all over his body. “I’ve had it bad everywhere.”

He was diagnosed with cancer in 2014.

“It was a very scary, confusing time, and I didn’t know what was happening,” said Johnson, who also recounted his calls to Monsanto seeking information about possible risks, and the lack of responses or cancer warnings from the company.

“It’s so tough when you can’t work, you can’t provide for your family,” added Johnson, who said he would be doing another round of chemotherapy in less than a month.

Araceli Johnson, Dewayne’s wife, also offered emotional testimony in court on Monday, saying she now has two jobs at a local school district and a nursing home, sometimes working 14-hour days.

“It’s very stressful. It’s just too much for me to explain how I really feel,” she said, recounting the cancer diagnosis and aftermath. “My world just shut down. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t clean. I couldn’t do anything.”

His wife recalled the worst moments of chemotherapy when her husband struggled to get out of bed and make it to his uncle’s funeral: “He just starts crying … and saying, ‘I just wanna die.’ And that broke my heart.”

Araceli also talked about their two sons, ages 10 and 13, and said she has had a hard time explaining their father’s cancer. Her message to them, she said, has been: “He’s just very sick … Spend time with him. Get to know your dad.”

In a statement to the Guardian, Monsanto noted studies that have found Roundup is safe, adding: “We have empathy for anyone suffering from cancer, but the scientific evidence clearly shows that glyphosate was not the cause.”


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« Reply #9 on: Jul 24, 2018, 04:27 AM »


Mary Robinson launches new feminist fight against climate change

Former Irish president’s initiative kicks off with podcasts pairing her with comedian Maeve Higgins

Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent
Guardian
Tue 24 Jul 2018 06.30 BST

Women around the world who are leading the fight against climate damage are to be highlighted by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and UN high commissioner, in the hopes of building a new global movement that will create “a feminist solution for climate change”.

Perhaps more revolutionary still, the new initiative is light-hearted in tone, optimistic in outlook and presents positive stories in what the originators hope will be seen as a fun way.

Called Mothers of Invention, the initiative will kick off with a series of podcasts showcasing the work of grassroots climate activists at a local level, as well as globally resonant initiatives such as the legal challenges under way in numerous jurisdictions to force governments to adhere to the Paris agreement goals. Scientists and politicians feature alongside farmers and indigenous community leaders from Europe, the US and Australia to India, Kenya, South Africa and Peru.

The podcast is a first for Robinson, who has focused on climate justice for the last 15 years through her charity, the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, and as one of the Elders group, after seeing at first-hand as UN commissioner for human rights the danger that global warming presents to women whose lives are already precarious.

“Climate change is a manmade problem that requires a feminist solution,” she said ahead of the podcast launch. “What we are hoping to do is create a movement. Climate change is not gender-neutral – it affects women far more. So this is not about climate change, it is about climate justice.”

The movement, she added, would grow organically from the women who feature and the women who join in: “It will be happening in an unstructured way, which is all the better, because we are not prescribing what a feminist solution should look like, we are listening – we want women to tell us what they want. That to me is more interesting.”

Robinson has paired with Maeve Higgins, an Irish-born comedian based in New York and self-styled “sidekick”. They jointly introduce their female guests through a series of informal conversations larded with backchat and jokes – an unusual way of presenting the often gloomy subject of climate damage, Higgins admits, but one she hopes will reach people more effectively than the standard models of climate communication and male-dominated discourse.

“There is a lot of doom and gloom – this is not like that,” Higgins said. “This is for people like myself who feel stuck, knowing there are actions they should be taking but paralysed by despondency. The capitalist patriarchy is not going to solve this. We need to.”

The internet provides the means to reach women all over the world, she said: “This is democratic, this is available to as many people as possible.”

The series will bring in issues of colonialism, racism, poverty, migration and social justice and how these are bound up with feminism and the effects of climate change, and will include related environmental issues such as plastic pollution.

Podcasts are new departure for Robinson. “This is taking me way beyond my comfort zone,” she said. But “I’m willing to go there – I am so urgent about the fact that we need to do more.”

The first five episodes in the series, which is funded by philanthropic foundations, focus on women, but Robinson promised the initiative would not exclude men’s voices. “We will include men in the future,” she said, “but we have started with women, who have found it hard to be heard. A feminist solution to climate change involves everyone.”


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« Reply #10 on: Jul 24, 2018, 04:31 AM »


Nine activists defending the Earth from violent assault

On a planet of billions, nine represent the strong minority battling murder in the global corruption of land rights

Jonathan Watts
Guardian
24 Jul 2018 09.00 BST

Individually, they are stories of courage and tragedy. Together, they tell a tale of a natural world under ever more violent assault.

The portraits in this series are of nine people who are risking their lives to defend the land and environment in some of the planet’s most remote or conflict-riven regions.

From the Coral Triangle and the Sierra Madre to the Amazon and the Western African Savannah, they are caught up in struggles against illegal fishing, industrial farming, poachers, polluters and miners.

The majority have seen colleagues, family or friends murdered or arrested. Two have bodyguards. Several say they wake up each day thankful to be alive. They are often criminalised, labelled terrorists or portrayed by their enemies as anti-development. All are determined to carry on their struggles despite almost ever-present and growing risks.

Last year, a record 207 defenders were murdered, according to a revised tally by Global Witness. Over the past 12 months, the Guardian has published the names and, where possible, the faces and stories of the victims in this list. To mark a year of this unique collaboration, Cape Town-based photographer Thom Pierce has been commissioned to take portraits of defenders in some of the world’s worst affected regions.

Although the campaigns often start locally and accidentally, several defenders saw themselves caught up in a bigger fight for the natural world.

“We didn’t realise this at first, but its global,” says Turkish forest defender Tuğba Günal. “If you want to protect the environment, you are treated as a terrorist. It’s everywhere now.”

They are in the frontline of a battle between those who promote conservation and those who promote consumption. This conflict has become more violent as resources become scarcer. Extractive industries are financing the campaigns of a new generation of political strongmen: Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Donald Trump in the United States and Jair Bolsonaro in BrazilAll are committed to eroding the few legal protections that environmental campaigners and indigenous groups are able to use to hold back mines, farms and factories.

A large proportion of killings are linked to government security forces, particularly in the Philippines, which is the most dangerous country in Asia for activists. Many others are carried out by gangs, particularly in Latin America, which accounts for more than half of all deaths.

“All these 207 activists did was to question the way that business is done. They had the audacity to defend their rights and protect the environment. That they were murdered for that is a damning indictment of the way the goods we buy are produced,” said Ben Leather, a campaigner at Global Witness. “Governments and businesses are putting profits ahead of people and we, the consumers, should not just be outraged but push them to take responsibility.”

The regions with the greatest natural and ethnic diversity, have the worst records. Brazil, the biggest Amazon forest nation, has the most deaths followed by the Philippines, which is at the centre of the Coral Triangle. Next comes Colombia, another Amazon nation, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has Africa’s biggest forest, where almost all the victims were forest rangers. The greatest deterioration was in Mexico, where the government’s approval for mining and farming concessions in indigenous territory has contributed to a five-fold increase in deaths over the previous year.

Impunity is a major problem. Defenders are often cheated of land rights by corrupt lawmakers and local politicians. When they resist, they are criminalised. When they are killed, nobody gets punished.

The majority of the defenders here – and in the global tallies – are from indigenous groups and poor black communities, who have been pushed over decades or centuries to the fringes of society. Not coincidentally, that is where nature is most abundant, where resources remain untapped, where the law – if it is applied at all – tends to serve as a tool for exploitation rather than justice.

“It’s almost apartheid. Indigenous people are treated as nobodies,” said Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous rights, who was labelled a terrorist in her own country, the Philippines. “We can’t allow this to continue or the people who are working to protect the environment will disappear and those who extract will rule the world. We don’t want that.”

These low-intensity conflicts rarely make headlines because they are rarely black-and-white, they do not threaten the status quo and because local authorities and the companies that supply us are implicated, albeit often indirectly.

Most of these activists are fighting against our short-term interests and for our long-term well-being. On one hand, they are resisting the extractive businesses that provide consumers with coffee, palm oil, fish and the titanium, aluminium and copper in our laptops, mobile phones and cars. On the other, they are the most effective guardians of global biodiversity and climate stability.

Asked what message they have for readers, some urged consumers to shop carefully, to consider supply chains and boycott firms and products linked with violence. Most, though, said they needed broader political change – a greater global push for land rights, accountability, transparency, tighter regulations on companies and more efforts to punish the corrupt officials and gang bosses who are often behind the killings.

They also seek more international exposure and solidarity in what is increasingly resembling a series of last stands for nature.

“Something in happening in the world. Activists are being branded as terrorists,” says Fatima Babu in India, who recently saw her 24-year campaign against a copper smelter explode into violence with the police killing of 13 protesters. “This phenomenon of destroying people and the planet for profit is not just happening in India. It’s across the globe. We need to come together for future generations.”


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« Reply #11 on: Jul 24, 2018, 04:40 AM »

Video: ‘I Just Simply Did What He Wanted’: Sexual Abuse Inside Immigrant Detention Facilities

Immigrant detention is expanding under the Trump administration, increasing the risk of sexual assault in a system where abuse is not uncommon. Two women told us their stories of being sexually abused by guards while under the custody of ICE

By Emily Kassie
NY Times
July 24, 2018

It was an early morning in May when Maria was released from the T. Don Hutto Residential Detention Center in Texas. She had been granted bond and was permitted to stay with her brother in Washington D.C. while her asylum case was pending.

After gathering her belongings, she was escorted to a loading area fenced with razor wire and placed into a cage inside a van. The driver was a male guard named Donald Dunn. Shortly after leaving Hutto, Dunn pulled off the road.

“He grabbed my breasts … He put his hands in my pants and he touched my private parts,” she said. “He touched me again inside the van, and my hands were tied. And he started masturbating.”

In 2014, a 19-year-old asylum seeker, “E.D.,” was staying in a family detention center in Pennsylvania with her 3-year-old son. A few months into her seven-month stay, she was sexually assaulted by a male guard. “I didn’t know how to refuse because he told me that I was going to be deported,” she said. “I was at a jail and he was a migration officer. It’s like they order you to do something and you have to do it.”

Our video follows Maria and E.D., who are among the thousands of migrants who have said they were sexually abused while in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the past 10 years, according to data from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General. Both were seeking asylum in the United States.

ICE has reported 1,310 claims of sexual abuse against detainees from fiscal years 2013 to 2017. Though the agency maintains that this number is relatively low — close to half a million immigrants flow through its detention system each year — watchdog organizations estimate the occurrence of sexual abuse to be significantly higher.

While national attention is focused on President Trump’s shifting border policies concerning immigrant families and children, abuses inside detention continue to take place.

Click to watch: https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000005559121/sexual-abuse-inside-ice-detention-facilities.html?


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« Reply #12 on: Jul 24, 2018, 05:00 AM »


North Korea: satellite images show dismantling of missile test facilities

Work seen as ‘important first step’ after denuclearisation pledge made at summit with Donald Trump

Patrick Wintour and agencies
Guardian
Tue 24 Jul 2018 01.57 BST

North Korea has taken the first steps to honour its commitments to nuclear disarmament by starting to dismantle its main missile-engine test site, according to an analysis of satellite images.

The findings have not yet received official backing from the US or South Korean governments, even though the dismantling would be a huge boost for Donald Trump’s claim that he was right to engage with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, by staging a historic summit in June in Singapore.

Pictures from the 38 North thinktank show the engine test stand at the Sohae satellite launching station being dismantled. The work started at some point in the past two weeks, following the last visit to North Korea by the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo.

North Korea has also started dismantling a rail-mounted building at Sohae where workers assembled space launch vehicles before moving them to the launchpad, according to Joseph Bermudez of 38 North.

His analysis is based on a comparison of satellite photos taken on Friday and Sunday. He claimed they showed North Korea had taken “an important first step toward fulfilling a commitment [towards denuclearisation pledge] made by Kim Jong-un”.

Trump is badly in need of evidence that his personal brand of unorthodox diplomacy with some of the US’s most-long established foes can produce results.

On Friday, Pompeo had complained to the UN security council that North Korea was evading oil sanctions by running covert ship-to-ship transfers. He insisted no sanctions should be lifted until complete, verifiable disarmament had taken place. Pompeo privately felt his last visit to North Korea had been a frustrating failure, even though he called for patience.

Some Republican senators had also started to complain that China, angry with the US over trade tariffs, had discouraged North Korea from sticking to nuclear disarmament commitments made at the summit. Critics complained that Trump had been naive in investing so much importance in his personal chemistry with the North Korean leader given the country’s record of reneging on commitments to disarm.

The South Korean foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, at a briefing in London, said its reports suggested North Korea was preparing for disarmament in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.

The satellite image analysis leaves unclear whether North Korea planned to demolish the entire Sohae site, which has been vital to its space programme. Other important facilities such as fuel bunkers, a main assembly building and the gantry tower appear untouched.

Jenny Town, managing editor of 38 North, which is based at Washington’s Stimson Center, said the work at Sohae could be an important move to keep negotiations going.

“This could (and that’s a big could) mean that North Korea is also willing to forgo satellite launches for the time being as well as nuclear and missile tests. This distinction has derailed diplomacy in the past,” she said.

North Korea, in a media report last week, criticised South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, for not actively seeking to help Pyongyang in getting sanctions lifted. Ending the sanctions is Kim’s chief concern as the regime is now focusing on building its economy. South Korea, leading the push for greater dialogue, is seeking exemption from US sanctions to increase trade with the North.

Kang said, “Given that talks between the US and North and between the South and North should go together, South Korea and the US need to communicate so that these talks are mutually reinforcing.”


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« Reply #13 on: Jul 24, 2018, 05:02 AM »


Daniel Ortega rejects blame for Nicaragua bloodshed in rare interview

Despite growing condemnation from international community and former allies, Ortega uses TV appearance to blame crisis on ‘terrible lies’

Tom Phillips, Latin America correspondent
Guardian
Tue 24 Jul 2018 01.53 BST

Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has sought to dodge responsibility for a wave of bloodshed that is widely blamed on his government during an unexpected and rare television interview.

The one-time Sandinista revolutionary hero – Nicaragua’s president since 2007 – has been facing a nationwide revolt from protesters demanding an end to what they call his increasingly dictatorial 11-year rule.

Human rights activists say more than 350 people have been killed since those protests erupted on 18 April, with the overwhelming majority young demonstrators gunned down by Ortega’s security forces or by masked gangs of paramilitaries with ties to his government.

Last week 13 Latin American countries – Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay – called for an immediate end to the “acts of violence, intimidation and the threats directed towards Nicaraguan society”.

On Monday night, in an interview apparently designed to reduce international pressure on his embattled government, Ortega attempted to wash his hands of responsibility for the killings and to play down the scale of the uprising, claiming the situation in Nicaragua was returning to normal.

“It has been a week since the disturbances have stopped,” the 72-year-old said in a pre-recorded interview with Fox News.

Questioned over his role in the bloodshed – which he last week blamed on a “murderous, coup-mongering satanic sect” despite growing international consensus that he is to blame – Ortega cast himself as the victim of a political conspiracy. “There has been a campaign of lies, terrible lies, to try to hurt the image of Nicaragua and its government,” he said.

During the 13-minute interview Ortega distanced himself from the masked paramilitaries behind many of the attacks on demonstrators, claiming, improbably, that they were bankrolled by drug traffickers or political enemies rather than his own administration.

Ortega also denied, contrary to well-documented fact, that peaceful demonstrations had been targeted. “Not a single one of the peaceful protests was attacked.”

He rejected calls for him to step down and said bringing elections forwards from 2021 as demanded by the opposition would only bring more instability and insecurity to Central America’s largest nation.

Asked about opposition claims he hoped to cling to power and build an Ortega dynasty akin to the Somoza dictatorship he famously helped topple in 1979, he said: “It never even occurred to me.”

The appearance is reportedly Ortega’s first unscripted interview since a 2009 encounter with Al Jazeera English, although he has also spoken to government mouthpieces including China’s CCTV, Venezuela’s Telesur and Russia Today.

José Miguel Vivanco, the Human Rights Watch Americas director, dismissed Ortega’s appearance as an attempt by “a pathological liar” to manipulate global public opinion.

“It is a way for him to confuse people outside Nicaragua about what is going on,” Vivanco said, pointing to the “groundless and absurd theories” being peddled by Ortega’s government about who was to blame for the violence.

Ortega hoped to discredit protesters as foreign-backed coup mongers supported by the Catholic Church, Vivanco said. In reality Nicaragua’s president was trying to crush peaceful protests using “cruel and blatant brutality … It’s as simple as that.”

Yader Luna, a Nicaraguan journalist from the the opposition newsletter Confidencial, said Ortega’s interviewer had “basically” asked the right questions. “But Ortega lied in every single one of his answers … He claimed they haven’t attacked priests when I have seen his turbas [paramilitaries] beating them before my very eyes … He denied attacks in which dozens of people were killed in broad daylight.

“His discourse was the same as always,” Luna added, “albeit in a less confrontational tone because he didn’t want to come across as a villain on Fox.”


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« Reply #14 on: Jul 24, 2018, 05:11 AM »

Europe will not bow to US threats, say Germany’s Maas

Published 12:35 July 24, 2018
New Europe

Europe will not bow to threats from the United States in a trade dispute and wants to resolve it via negotiations, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday before European Commission talks with Washington on the issue.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump to discuss the imposition of U.S. tariffs on EU steel and aluminum and his threats to expand those measures to European cars.

“It is good that Jean-Claude Juncker will be in Washington tomorrow to talk and to seek a solution but we are not heading to negotiations with a pistol at our chest. I don’t think threats bring us closer to a solution,” Maas said.

“We in Europe must stick together…I hope that we succeed in resolving this via consensus but we will not be threatened and climb down so easily,” he told German public television.

Trump has complained about higher duties applied by the European Union on car imports and has described the bloc as a trade “foe”.

EU officials say that while EU import duties for cars are heavier than those applied by the United States, the U.S. rates for other products, including trucks, are higher. They say cutting duties for cars can only be part of a broader trade deal.

Maas, about to visit Japan and South Korea, who are also threatened by U.S. tariffs, said no one had an interest in new and higher tariffs.

“In the end, all sides would lose, also the Americans,” he said, adding he hoped that U.S. officials would realize this.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will not arrive in the United States for talks with U.S. President Donald Trump with a specific trade offer, the Commission said on Monday.

Juncker will travel to Washington on Wednesday for talks focused on trade tensions between the European Union and the United States.

“I do not wish to enter into a discussion about mandates, offers because there are no offers. This is a discussion, it is a dialogue and it is an opportunity to talk and to stay engaged in dialogue,” Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a news conference.


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