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« Reply #2805 on: Oct 13, 2018, 05:24 AM »

Let the children play: the man who built a playground on Lesbos

Salam Aldeen has made it his mission to improve the lives of child refugees at the Moria camp

Lorenzo Tondo in Lesbos
13 Oct 2018 06.00 BST

Eyes glued to the screen, mouths wide open, they watch the final scene of the Disney film Aladdin.

When the movie ends, the faces of nearly 500 children turn gloomy and tears fall down their cheeks. They come from Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, and the time has come for them to return to their tents and metal containers in the squalid Moria camp on Lesbos. No one is getting out of here on a magic carpet.

Dozens of the 3,000 minors here have attempted suicide because of overcrowding, squalor and their hopeless situation. But one man is trying to make things a little better for the children abandoned on Europe’s doorstep.

Moved by the death of Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who made global headlines when his lifeless body was pictured lying face down on a Turkish beach, Salam Aldeen headed to Lesbos three years ago and dedicated his life to migrants.

In a warehouse 200 metres from the camp, the Iraqi-Danish founder of the aid group Team Humanity constructed a playground, with inflatable castles and a small football pitch.

Several hundred children arrive at 4pm, holding hands.

“It was difficult for the children to leave behind what they were experiencing in the camp,’’ says Aldeen, who has recruited volunteers among the refugees in Moria. “They’d watch their Syrian parents quarrel with their Afghan neighbours, and they’d bring the same tensions into the playground.

“We worked hard to try and convince them that in here, just as in the camp, we’re all the same: no colours, no religions, just human beings. And you know what? They understood it better than the adults.”

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« Reply #2806 on: Oct 13, 2018, 05:26 AM »

Saudi isolation grows over Khashoggi disappearance

Business elites withdraw from summit as Turkish officials claim to have consulate tapes

Martin Chulov in Istanbul, Patrick Wintour and Bethan McKernan
Sat 13 Oct 2018 09.34 BST

Saudi Arabia has found itself further isolated over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi after the business world turned its back on a high-profile investment conference in the kingdom and US officials claimed audio and video recordings had captured the moment the journalist was murdered in Istanbul.

The Future Investment Initiative conference, to be held in Riyadh later this month, was rapidly turning into a fiasco on Friday after most media partners and several top business allies pulled out. More were expected to follow. All said they had been disturbed by the circumstances of Khashoggi’s disappearance from the Saudi consulate in Turkey and the lack of credible responses.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, called for the truth to be made clear. “We need to know exactly what has happened and we need to know exactly who is responsible and, of course, when we see the multiplication of this kind of situation I think we need to find ways in which accountability is also demanded,” he told the BBC.

Saudi Arabia has been under pressure to explain what happened to Khashoggi after he entered the consulate building at 1.14pm on 2 October. Turkey has claimed the exiled journalist and critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was murdered by a hit squad sent from Riyadh. Authorities in Istanbul have hinted they hold undisclosed evidence that proves what took place.

On Friday, US officials revealed to Khashoggi’s employer, the Washington Post, that Turkish investigators had claimed audio and video tapes existed of conversations between the missing 59-year-old and his alleged killers.

“You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic,” an official said. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.” The references to recordings could suggest that Turkish intelligence officers had bugged the consulate or some of the accused killers.

Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancee, told the Associated Press on Friday that Khashoggi was wearing an Apple watch when he entered the consulate and investigators were examining his cellphones, which he had left with her.

In written responses to questions by the AP, Cengiz said Turkish authorities had not told her about any recordings and that Khashoggi was officially “still missing”. Cengiz said Khashoggi was not nervous when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and did not suspect anything bad would happen to him. “He said ‘See you later my darling’ and went in,” Cengiz said, and they were his last words to her. They would have been married this week and had planned to live between Istanbul and the United States, where Khashoggi had been living in self-imposed exile since 2017.

Ankara and Riyadh have been assembling a joint investigation team, with Turkish officials saying they would give the kingdom until Saturday to agree to terms.

As discussions continued on Friday, the Saudi monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, sent the senior royal Khaled al-Faisal to meet the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The move was regarded as an attempt by King Salman to reintroduce the older generation, with whom the kingdom traditionally wielded regional influence before the rise of the 33-year-old crown prince and de facto ruler, Bin Salman.

Also on Friday, a Turkish court freed a US pastor whose detention on terrorism charges had prompted a bitter dispute between Washington and Ankara. The surprise release of Andrew Brunson prompted speculation that Turkey was seeking US support in its face-off over Khashoggi.

However the US national security adviser, John Bolton, appeared to cast doubt on Turkey’s version of events surrounding Khashoggi’s disappearance, suggesting that, because Turkey and Saudi Arabia had been historical foes, another “operation” may have taken place.

“You know, honestly, we just don’t know what the facts are,” Bolton told the rightwing radio host Hugh Hewitt. “And that was one of the points that I made to the crown prince. We need to find out what the facts are, and we need to get this resolved quickly, because if it is another operation, people need to understand that.

“I think the Saudis themselves are being damaged, because we don’t have the facts out. There’s obviously been historical animosity between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. We have our own difficulties with Turkey at the moment.”

Earlier on Friday, Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiance, urged Donald Trump on Twitter to use his clout to find out what happened. “What about Jamal Khashoggi?” she wrote in response to a tweet by Trump in which he said he said he had been “working very hard” to free Bunson, the US pastor.

While business groups had withdrawn from the Riyadh conference, the US treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, said he still planned to attend.

The comments further fuelled concerns that Washington’s close relationship with Riyadh may cast a shadow over the investigation.

Donald Trump on Friday promised to personally call Saudi Arabia’s King Salman soon about “the terrible situation in Turkey”.

“We’re going to find out what happened,” Trump pledged when questioned by reporters in Cincinnati where he was headlining a political rally.

Previously, Trump had explicitly linked his response to the allegations to Washington’s $110bn worth of arms supply deals with Riyadh. Ankara also has significant trade and political ties with the kingdom, with which it maintains a cautious rivalry.

The former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind has called for Britain to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia, unilaterally if necessary, over Khashoggi’s disappearance. He told BBC’s Newsnight: “If the current crown prince remains in power for the indefinite future, then in the first instance the United Kingdom must work with the United States, France and other countries to see if there can be a combined response, a punishment of some kind, of sanctions of some kind.

“If the United States was not willing to take part then the United Kingdom has to consider action that it will take in its own name.”

Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan, under Bin Salman, is strongly dependent on overseas investment, and the apparent shunning of the conference will be as disturbing to Saudi policymakers as the more distant threat of a US Congress-imposed ban on future arms sales.

Some of the companies said their withdrawal from the conference on 23 October was dependent on the outcome of the investigation, while others put no condition on their decision.

The World Bank said it had previously informed the Saudi authorities that its president, Jim Yong Kim, would not be attending the Future Investment Initiative.

The Financial Times and CNN said they were pulling out as media sponsors, with all CNN’s anchors withdrawing from the event. Bloomberg also pulled out.

The New York Times withdrew its sponsorship two days ago, prompting a string of withdrawals across the globe, including of Ariana Huffington, the LA Times owner, Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong, and the CNBC anchor Andrew Ross Sorkin.

On the corporate side, Sir Richard Branson and Viacom announced their withdrawal, as did Uber, which is part-owned by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund.

The Uber chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, said he would not attend “unless a substantially different set of facts emerges”.

Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, is listed as a speaker at the conference, but Jihad Azour, the head of the IMF Middle East department, would not say if Lagarde would be present. “Like most of the people here and everywhere, we are waiting to have more information on this recent development,” Azour said.

Organisers suggested the conference would still go ahead because the long-term political cost of cancelling would be greater than the embarrassment of a poor turnout.

Additional reporting: Julian Borge

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« Reply #2807 on: Oct 13, 2018, 05:31 AM »

IMF-World Bank ends meetings with call to brace for risks

New Euorpe

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — Global financial leaders wrapped up an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Saturday by urging countries to brace for potential risks from trade disputes and other tensions.

The meetings in Bali, Indonesia, this week were overshadowed by a spate of financial market turmoil and by the threat to global growth from the trade clash between the U.S. and China over Beijing's technology policies.

The International Monetary and Financial Committee, which advises the IMF's board of governors, issued a communique on Saturday urging countries to keep debt under control, engineer policies to ensure credit is available in line with their levels of inflation and ensure sustained economic growth "for the benefit of all."

IMF members also pledged to avoid devaluing currencies to seek a trade advantage by making a country's exports relatively cheaper. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that while global growth is still strong, it has leveled off. The IMF started the meetings in Bali by downgrading its 2018 estimate for global growth to a still robust 3.7 percent from an earlier forecast of 3.9 percent.

"I think it's not inconsistent to have a plateaued growth and downside risks that are the clouds on the horizon, some of which have begun to open up," Lagard said. Adding that given the level of debt around the world, "we've given strong recommendations and in terms of trade: de-escalate and please dialogue."

Countries should seek to ensure their levels of debt are manageable and that policies foster growth for all, she said. "Sail together and we will be stronger. Focus on your policies. Don't drift and let's cooperate as much as we can because we will be better off together."

China's central bank governor, Yi Gang, joined the chorus of consternation over the trade standoff, which has resulted in Washington imposing penalty tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of imports of Chinese products and Beijing responding in kind. Protectionism and trade tensions are "major risks" for the world economy, he said in a statement to fellow financial leaders.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin downplayed the level of alarm, saying he doesn't lose sleep over the possibility that China might step up its sales of U.S. treasuries in retaliation for pressure from Washington to alter national economic strategies aimed at nurturing Chinese leaders in many advanced technologies.

Mnuchin said it was still not certain if President Donald Trump would meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a Group of 20 summit late next month in Buenos Aires. Reports that such a meeting was likely raised hopes for progress on the impasse between the world's two largest economies, stilling disquiet on financial markets Friday.

"I don't think any decision has been made in regards to a meeting," he said, saying he favored one. "The president will decide." It's unclear if the two sides can make enough progress before then given the limited room for maneuvering. Apart from chronic U.S. trade deficits, the policies Washington objects to are central to Beijing's strategy for guiding the economy for decades to come.

Stepping up Chinese imports of U.S. goods and commodities such as liquefied natural gas won't cut it, Mnuchin said. It's "about structural issues," he said. "This is not about buying more soybeans and buying more LNG."

"There have to be meaningful commitments to create a rebalanced trading relationship," he said. Yi, the head of China's central bank, said China "stands ready" to cooperate with everyone to support freer trade and investment.

"Countries should jointly take measures against trade protectionism and strive to make economic globalization more open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all," he said.

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« Reply #2808 on: Oct 13, 2018, 05:52 AM »

‘Hate and menace’: Reporter explains the horrifying takeaway from binge-watching Trump rallies

Brad Reed
Raw Story
13 Oct 2018 at 08:24 ET                   

The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser recently has been binge watching Trump rallies and has come away horrified by the way the president is trying to gin up supporters for the 2018 midterms.

Glasser writes that what really stands out from the rallies is not the multiple falsehoods that President Donald Trump tells every night, but rather his message to supporters that they will be swallowed whole by dark forces unless they cling to him.

“What the President of the United States is actually saying is extraordinary,” she writes. “It’s the hate, and the sense of actual menace that the President is trying to convey to his supporters. Democrats aren’t just wrong in the manner of traditional partisan differences; they are scary, bad, evil, radical, dangerous. Trump and Trump alone stands between his audiences and disaster.”

Glasser also found herself appalled at the way that other politicians who appear at Trump rallies try to outdo themselves in writing sycophantic speeches that praise the president’s supposed “strength” in the face of adversity.

“In Erie on Wednesday, a Republican congressman, Michael Kelly, gave the most sycophantic speech of the ones I listened to this month,” she writes. “Trump, he yelled to the crowd, is ‘the strongest President we have seen in our lifetime… I am so grateful that an American citizen came out of nowhere to take the reins and reform and retake this nation.'”


Here is the whole article ...

I Listened to All Six Trump Rallies in October. You Should, Too

It’s not a reality show. It’s real.

By Susan B. Glasser
New Yorker
October 13, 2018

From the start of the Trump Presidency, many Beltway wise men, and more than a few of Donald Trump’s own advisers, said, Don’t pay attention to the tweets; forget the overheated language and the alarming one-liners coming out of Trump’s constant campaign-style rallies. Pay attention to the policy. They repeated this even after Trump fired his White House chief of staff and Secretary of State on Twitter, and started making policy announcements to his followers that his advisers didn’t know about. They are still, essentially, telling us to disregard what the President says. On Thursday, that was exactly the response offered by Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, when he was asked about a series of attacks by the President on the “loco” Federal Reserve, which Trump said had “gone crazy” by raising interest rates and, in his view, causing the week’s precipitous stock-market decline. “The President says a lot of things,” Kudlow told reporters on the drive outside the White House, where Trump’s advisers are often found in the mornings, cleaning up this or that remark from the President. “He has a lot of fun.”

Trump does indeed say a lot of things, which causes another problem for those watching him. Not only do his advisers tell us to disregard his comments, but he makes so many of them. Almost two years after his election upset, we still haven’t quite figured out how to deal with the daily flood of bombastic rhetoric, instant punditry, and rambling soliloquies that Trump increasingly chooses to spend his time on in office.

So what would happen if the President of the United States threw a rally and the cameras didn’t show up? Since Trump entered politics to round-the-clock cable coverage, this has been the demand of some of Trump’s biggest opponents, those who believe that real-time televising of what Trump says when he says it has both created and enabled this serial fabulist by giving him an unchallenged platform.

Well, we’re starting to find out. On Wednesday, Trump flouted convention and flew to Erie, Pennsylvania, for a political rally as one of the most intense hurricanes to hit the United States in decades pounded Florida. The President attributed his decision not to cancel to the thousands of people already lined up to hear him. “It’s a very important rally,” he told reporters. When he got there, however, even the usually reliable Fox News refused to carry the show, sticking with weather reports on the storm and its prime-time lineup. Even as Trump was onstage, Politico reported that Fox’s ratings for coverage of his recent rallies had dropped below those of its regular shows. (At one point, when I switched over to check Fox, not only was Trump still shut out but the Fox host was joking with a guest about emotional-support animals.) The only national network to air the Pennsylvania rally live was C-SPAN 2.

But I think it’s a mistake. The problem is that there are so many outrages, we are in danger of ignoring them, or dismissing them as mere spectacle. The torrent of Trump’s words is exhausting, contradictory, annoying, and more than occasionally amusing, and it’s fair to ask what some of it amounts to. I certainly don’t think all the networks need to air his remarks live and in full all the time. Still, tuning out the President is hardly the way to understand him. So I decided to watch all of Trump’s rallies in October, as he is stepping up his midterm campaigning.

The first thing to note is that there are a lot of them; the President has already done six so far, as the election draws near, spending, as the Washington Post put it, “sixty percent of the evenings in October so far” speaking to big crowds in Trump-friendly places like Johnson City, Tennessee; Southaven, Mississippi; Topeka, Kansas; Rochester, Minnesota; Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Erie. He has two more planned for this weekend. Trump is generally onstage for more than an hour, so that’s a lot of Trump. Six hours and fifty-one minutes of Trump, to be precise.

The headlines from these events are by now familiar: Trump’s celebration of his victimized but ultimately confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh; Trump’s mocking of Kavanaugh’s female accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, after he initially called her “very credible”; Trump’s escalating rhetoric about “wacko” Democrats as an “angry mob” that would destroy due process, even as the angry mob listening to him chanted “lock her up” at the mere mention of Dianne Feinstein, a senator not accused of any crime.

That leaves a lot of what would be considered news in any other moment. Among the things I heard the President of the United States do: make fun of a female candidate in Iowa by giving her a derogatory nickname. Accuse a U.S. senator of being a “drunk.” Claim that Hillary Clinton engaged in a conspiracy with Russia to rig the election (which she lost). He called the European Union a “brutal” alliance “formed to take advantage of us.” He attacked American libel laws and the World Trade Organization.

Many of the statements are not only untrue but are repeated from event to event, despite the industry of real-time Trump fact-checking and truth-squadding that now exists. This summer, the Washington Post’s Fact Checker looked at all the statements in one rally and determined that seventy-six per cent of the ninety-eight factual assertions Trump made were untrue, misleading, or baseless. Since then, Trump seems not only undeterred but to be stepping up his pace. He claimed that Justice Kavanaugh was No. 1 in his class at Yale and Yale Law School in at least three of his events over the past week, despite Yale not even calculating class rankings. On Wednesday, Trump repeated several of his greatest-hits fallacies, such as asserting that fifty-two per cent of women supported him in 2016 (that number was forty-two per cent), and that numerous new steel-manufacturing plants are being opened (none are), and that “clean, beautiful coal” is coming back (it isn’t).

Still, fact-checking is far too narrow a lens through which to view the rallies. Certainly, Trump pours out untruths and whoppers at these events; the more defensive he is, the more he seems to unleash them. But I found myself reeling most at the end of my rally-watching marathon not from the lying but from the bleak and threatening world view offered by a President who is claiming credit for making America great, strong, and respected again, while terrifying his fans with the grim spectre of the scary enemies he is fending off. Even more than they did in 2016, these threats come accompanied by an increasingly grandiose rewriting of history. What’s happened since his election, Trump said in Pennsylvania, “has been the greatest revolution ever to take place in our country,” or maybe even anywhere in the world. His victory “superseded even Andrew Jackson.” “America,” he said, “is winning like never before.”

The biggest difference between Trump and any other American President, however, is not the bragging. It’s the cult of personality he has built around himself and which he insists upon at his rallies. Political leaders are called onstage to praise the President in terms that would make a feudal courtier blush, and they’re not empty words. These are the kinds of tributes I have heard in places like Uzbekistan, but never before in America. “Is he not the best President we have ever had?” the Mississippi senator Cindy Hyde-Smith enthused. (Trump then praised her for voting “with me one hundred per cent of the time.”) In Erie on Wednesday, a Republican congressman, Michael Kelly, gave the most sycophantic speech of the ones I listened to this month. Trump, he yelled to the crowd, is “the strongest President we have seen in our lifetime.” Addressing Trump, he said, “You are the best! You are the best!” Trump did not need to leave his “luxurious” life behind for the indignities of political combat, but he did. “I am so grateful,” Kelly concluded, “that an American citizen came out of nowhere to take the reins and reform and retake this nation.”

No wonder his followers think this way. In Trump’s telling at these rallies, he is the hero of every story. All ideas, big or small, flow through him now that he is President. He personally ordered the Ambassador in Israel to renovate a building for the new American Embassy there using “beautiful Jerusalem stone.” (Never mind that all buildings in the city are required to be faced with it.) He had “the greatest idea” to get veterans better medical care by allowing them to go to private doctors, confounding the experts who told him, “Sir, we’ve been working on this for forty-four years,” and couldn’t fix the problem. Same with an N.F.L. dispute with Canada. “Nobody could get it done,” Trump said. “I did it in two minutes.”

Then there are the stunners that we already know Trump thinks are true. But listen to them for almost seven hours in an election season, and remember, this is the President; maybe we shouldn’t just screen this out, or pretend it doesn’t matter. Every single rally included multiple attacks on the media and “fake news.” In Mississippi, the press bashing began seconds into the speech; in Pennsylvania, it took seven minutes; in Minnesota, ten. Deadbeat allies, rapacious foreigners ripping us off, and murderous gang members from MS-13 also figured in every one of the speeches.

Touting his record, surprisingly, is not necessarily at the heart of Trump’s speeches, as it might be for a more conventional politician. “The biggest tax cut in history,” which Republican leaders once wanted to make the centerpiece of their 2018 campaigns, is generally mentioned close to the one-hour mark by Trump. He brags of blowing up NAFTA and replacing it with the “brand-new” U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, though experts say the agreement represents more of an update to the free-trade pact than a destruction of it. He invariably mentions withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. But other accomplishments are aspirational, as when he talks about proposing a new Space Force branch of the military or promises to start “building the wall” with Mexico. Given two full years of the Trump Administration and Republican control over all three branches of government, there is remarkably little policy wonkery here.

Some of Trump’s comments, while overheated, are standard-issue partisan rhetoric. There are ritual denunciations of socialist-leaning Democrats who want to raise taxes while Republicans crack down on crime and spend more money on defense. Every Republican President in my lifetime has uttered a version of those words during election season. Where Trump differs starkly is in his insistence—made at an increasingly high pitch as the week went on—that Democrats not only want to legislate their way to socialism but that they are an actual clear and present danger to Americans.

We already know that Trump is the most truth-challenged President ever, that he distorts, misrepresents, and makes things up; that he has something to hide on his taxes; that he loves to mock, bully, criticize, insult, and belittle rivals.

Besides, there were plenty of important issues to occupy Washington this week that did not involve the President’s rallies, from the fate of the missing Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi to the sudden plunge of the stock market to the damage from Hurricane Michael. Never mind the big news from the White House on Thursday, when Trump had lunch with the rapper Kanye West, who dropped the phrase “crazy motherfucker” in what was undoubtedly the most profane West Wing photo-op ever. Trump had plenty to say about all of it.

So why I am writing about this? Why spend nearly seven bleary-eyed hours over six rallies listening to the President? That’s six full renditions of Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to Be an American,” six times hearing Trump rip off Churchill’s “never surrender” speech, six times listening to him insult “low I.Q.” Maxine Waters and “Crooked Hillary” and “Crazy Bernie” and, his new favorite, “Da Nang Dick” Blumenthal.

Watching hours of Trump at his rallies, it’s easy to sympathize with the desire to ignore them. John Dean tweeted a picture of the crowd waiting in line for the Erie rally and derided it as a “meaningless show.” For supporters, it’s hyperbole, just rhetoric, entertainment, part of the unvarnished appeal; for opponents, it’s old news painful to watch, maybe, but inconsequential, narrow-casting to his base. One of the reasons we tune out is because views of Trump are so fixed. Look at the Presidential approval ratings, and “you would think it’s been a pretty boring couple years,” as Amy Walter, the Cook Political Report editor, likes to put it. Trump’s ratings have barely budged, no matter the day’s outrage or the nutty things he tells his followers: the same range of thirty-eight to forty-three per cent of Americans approve of him, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, and the same majority of fifty to fifty-three per cent disapprove of him, as has been the case since the early weeks of his Administration.

Much of the coverage of these events tends to be theatre criticism, or news stories about a single inflammatory line or two, rating Trump’s performance or puzzling over the appeal to his followers. But what the President of the United States is actually saying is extraordinary, regardless of whether the television cameras are carrying it live. It’s not just the whoppers or the particular outrage riffs that do get covered, either. It’s the hate, and the sense of actual menace that the President is trying to convey to his supporters. Democrats aren’t just wrong in the manner of traditional partisan differences; they are scary, bad, evil, radical, dangerous. Trump and Trump alone stands between his audiences and disaster.

I listen because I think we are making a mistake by dismissing him, by pretending the words of the most powerful man in the world are meaningless. They do have consequences. They are many, and they are worrisome. In what he says to the world, the President is, as Ed Luce wrote in the Financial Times this week, “creating the space to do things which were recently unthinkable.” It’s not a reality show; it’s real.


Watch: HBO’s Bill Maher destroys Trump’s ‘lynch mob’ rally crowds

Martin Cizmar
Raw Story
13 Oct 2018 at 22:25 ET                   

Bill Maher opened his HBO show Real Time with a monologue that ripped into unhinged Republicans who have become obsessed with demanding civility and demeaning their opponents as an “angry mob.”

Maher discussed President Donald Trump’s rally crowds, which began chanting “lock her up” after a mention of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

“That’s the thing about a lynch mob, they don’t get irony,” Maher said. “Any woman they don’t like? Lock her up! Hillary? Lock her up. Dianne Feinstein? Lock her up. Taylor Swift? What the hell, lock her up.”

Maher also discussed the week’s hurricane, which hit the same day as a United Nations report about how climate change would make weather worse.

“Only a moron could not see the connection,” Maher said. “Or, as Trump said, ‘I don’t see the connection.'”

Maher also took a few shots at Trump’s meeting with Kanye West. Mostly, he was impressed that Trump sat silently during Kanye’s rant instead of making it all about himself.

“Trump said, ‘I have no idea what you said, and I can understand Melania,” Maher jokes. “Trump and Kanye: One sang a song called ‘Gold Digger’ and the other married one.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0057p7NSfQ


Paul Krugman accuses GOP of ‘flat-out lying’ about everything because they know their Fox News fans will believe anything

Tom Boggioni
13 Oct 2018 at 11:39 ET     
Raw Story             

In a scorching column for the New York Times, economist Paul Krugman said that members of the Republican Party who used to twist facts and use bad faith arguments to win over voters now just blatantly lie because they see President Donald Trump getting away with it.

According to the Nobel Prize-winning Krugman, GOP lawmakers used to employ “spin” — alternative narratives manipulating facts — to sell their policies, but that has all changed in the current political atmosphere.

“Do you remember political spin? Politicians used to deceive voters by describing their policies in misleading ways. For example, the Bush administration was prone to things like claiming that tax breaks for the wealthy were really all about helping seniors — because extremely rich Americans tend to be quite old,” he explained, before getting to the point: “But Republicans no longer bother with deceptive presentations of facts. Instead, they just flat-out lie.”

He then laid out his case.

“What do they lie about? Lots of things, from crowd sizes to immigrant crime, from steel plants to the Supreme Court,” Krugman wrote. “But right now the most intense, coordinated effort at deception involves health care — an issue where Republicans are lying nonstop about both their own position and that of Democrats.”

According to the columnist, “Republicans have a problem here: The policies they hate, and Democrats love, are extremely popular. Medicare has overwhelming support. So does protection for pre-existing conditions, which is even supported by a large majority of Republicans.”

“Now, you might imagine that Republicans would respond to the manifest unpopularity of their health care position by, you know, actually changing their position,” he caustically added. “But that would be hopelessly old-fashioned. As I said, what they’ve chosen to do instead is lie, insisting that black is white and up is down.”

Case in point, he notes, is President Donald Trump’s lie-filled op-ed in USA Today where he blatantly spread falsehoods about the Democrats.

After questioning whether the president — noted for his short attention span — actually wrote the piece, Krugman asserted. “Mostly it was an attack on proposals for ‘Medicare for all,’ a slogan that refers to a variety of proposals, from universal single-payer to some form of public option.”

“And what did ‘Trump’ say Democrats would do?” he continued. “Why, that they would ‘eviscerate’ the current Medicare program. Oh, and that they would turn America into Venezuela. Because that’s what has happened to countries that really do have single-payer, like Canada and Denmark.”

“Why do Republicans think they can get away with such blatant lies?” he asked rhetorically. “Partly it’s because they expect their Fox-watching followers to believe anything they’re told.”

According to Krugman, the media is also complicit in spreading Trump and GOP lies.

“They [the GOP] can still count on enablers in the mainstream news media,” he wrote. “After all, why did USA Today approve this piece? Letting Trump express his opinion is one thing; giving him a platform for blatant lies is another.”

According to the columnist, the GOP’s “big lie” might well work and that we will all know if the public bought it when the midterm election rolls around.


MSNBC panelists lay out damning evidence of collusion: ‘Trump was signaling to the Russians’

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
13 Oct 2018 at 09:03 ET                   

Three guests explained to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” how the most recent reporting showed abundant evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, author of the new book, “Cyberwar: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President,” went into the writing process skeptical of Kremlin influence on the 2016 election — but came away convinced that foreign interference was crucial to Trump’s win.

“Three ways to get there,” Jamieson told MSNBC. “Trolls, those are the imposters in cyberspace, the influence of hacking on the media agenda, including hacked content used as the basis of questions that hurt Clinton in two debates, and the possible influence of Russian disinformation on James Comey’s decision on Oct. 28, (2016), to basically let the public know that he would re-open the investigation. Changed the media agenda, she dropped in the polls 2.5 percent — that could have been a decisive influence all by itself.”

Jamieson said whether Trump colluded with Russia was a separate question from whether Russian influence affected the outcome of the election.

“They could have affected the outcome with no collusion, there could have been collusion that didn’t affect the outcome,” she said.

“It’s important to note that when you make the argument that says that there would have been collusion because of alignment, there didn’t have to be alignment between Trump and the Russians to create the alignment,” Jamieson continued. “Because they had the targeting information, they could simply follow the media’s tactical coverage which told them which states to go to, and they could have followed the media coverage of where Trump was going, and, as a result, aligned.”

Natasha Bertrand, who has reported on Russian influence operations for Business Insider and now for The Atlantic, said the GRU military intelligence service first attempted to hack Clinton, on July 27, 2016 — the same day Trump publicly asked them to find her missing emails.

“Coincidence?” Bertrand said. “This is exactly what Robert Mueller laid out in one of his indictments earlier this year, and it kind of seems like a random thing at the time for the president to say on national television, ‘Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you can find these 30,000 missing emails.'”

She said reporting and law enforcement investigations had shown the missing emails became an obsession for Trump and his aides, and they were a constant theme for Russian disinformation campaigns aimed at U.S. voters.

“This was an ongoing theme during the campaign,” Bertrand said, “and the fact that we saw the GRU trying to hack into Clinton’s emails on the very day that Trump said, ‘Russia, if you’re listening’ — it almost seemed like a signal, and intelligence experts told me at that moment Trump was signaling to the Russians it was okay for them to do that, and giving them his permission to do that.”

The New Yorker‘s Dexter Filkins, who took a deep dive into suspicious communications between a Trump Organization computer server and Russia’s Alfa Bank during the summer of 2016, said his findings should trigger a congressional or law enforcement investigation.

“Beginning in May 2016, for a four-month period before the election,” Filkins said, “there’s a pattern of very unusual behavior surrounding the Trump computer server when a Russian bank, the largest private bank in Russia began to try hundreds and hundreds of times to get in touch with the Trump server, DNS lookups.”

He said the contacts do not appear to be accidental, and he said they show evidence of human direction — not random computer activity.

“It’s very suggestive of communication, the pattern over that four-month period,” Filkins said. “It’s not 100 percent clear, but I think I took the story as far as it would go. I think somebody with subpoena power is required to get to the bottom of it, but it’s very unusual.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZIiQy8E9WA


WATCH: CNN’s Chris Cuomo hammers every Fox News host by name in extended rant

Dominique Jackson
Raw Story
13 Oct 2018 at 22:19 ET                   

CNN’s Chris Cuomo closed his Friday night show explaining the dangerous rhetoric of Fox News. Cuomo said that dirty politics has gone too far and that the media has a part to play.

“Conservatives who have long made morality and character their marker are now marked by quiet,” he said.

He then slammed Fox News reporters by name.

“It’s in the media too. Media can be a feedback mechanism for what’s out there. Fox’s Sean Hannity —righteous indignation. Ingraham, the curled lip of disgust. And Tucker— he doesn’t have to say anything, he just has that pissed puppy dog puss look on his face,” he said.

Watch via CNN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE6HI5GVrVA

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« Reply #2809 on: Oct 13, 2018, 06:38 AM »

Trump calls on blacks to ‘honor’ him with votes, then praises Confederate general Robert E. Lee

By Gabriel Pogrund
October 12 2018
WA Post

LEBANON, Ohio — President Trump praised the Confederate general Robert E. Lee while asking African American voters to “honor us” by voting for him at an Ohio rally that featured an unexpected and provocative monologue on America’s Civil War history.

Addressing an open-air rally of around 4,000 supporters, Trump appeared buoyant as he declared that Lee was a “true great fighter” and “great general.” He also said Abraham Lincoln once had a “phobia” of the Southern leader, whose support of slavery has made his legacy a heavily contested and divisive issue.

The comments came during an anecdote about Ohio-born President Ulysses S. Grant’s alleged drinking problems, which historians deem exaggerated.

“Robert E. Lee was winning battle after battle after battle. And Abraham Lincoln came home, he said, ‘I can’t beat Robert E. Lee,’ ” Trump said. “They said to Lincoln, ‘You can’t use [Grant] anymore, he’s an alcoholic.’ And Lincoln said, ‘I don’t care if he’s an alcoholic, frankly, give me six or seven more just like him.’ He started to win.”

Minutes earlier, Trump had hailed African American unemployment numbers and asked black voters to “honor us” by voting Republican in November. “Get away from the Democrats,” he told them. “Think of it: We have the best numbers in history. … I think we’re going to get the African American vote, and it’s true.” He also celebrated hip-hop artist Kanye West’s visit to the Oval Office on Thursday, adding: “What he did was pretty amazing.”

Trump’s speech threatened to reignite a highly divisive debate over America’s racial history with just weeks to go until the midterms. Trump has previously defended statues commemorating Confederate leaders, tweeting last year: “Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.” Critics say such statues glorify historic advocates of slavery.

Grant was not the only Ohio-native whom Trump deployed as a foil in his interventions on a series of sensitive cultural issues. He also referenced astronaut Neil Armstrong, telling crowds: “He’s the man that planted the flag on the face of the moon. . . . There was no kneeling, there was no nothing, there was no games, boom” in a reference to NFL athletes kneeling in protest during the national anthem.

Trump was in Lebanon to boost the campaign of Rep. Steve Chabot, the incumbent whose 1st Congressional District encompasses the county and who had distanced himself from the president ahead of the event. “We didn’t ask him to come. . . . He wasn’t my first choice or my second or my third,” he told one newspaper, apparently fearful Trump’s rhetoric could prove costly in the competitive race. On the night, however, Chabot appeared content to revel in the president’s support. “God bless the president. And, I never thought I’d say this, but God Bless Kanye West,” he said.

Standing before a super-sized American flag suspended between two diggers, the president listed his achievements whilst redoubling his attacks on his traditional opponents in a rally that exceeded an hour in length. He described Democrats as “the party of the mob” and said of the media: “We’ve learned how to live with them. We don’t like it, but we’ve learned.”

Supporters gleefully chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” and “Ka-va-naugh! Ka-va-naugh!” during the event, while booing in reference to the media and Democratic politicians whom Trump accused of trying to stymie the Supreme Court nomination of Justice Brett M. Kavaugh.

At the outset of his speech, Trump celebrated the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest in Turkey, telling supporters at the rally: “He went through a lot, but he’s on his way back” — but sidestepping the suspected killing of a Saudi journalist amid growing pressure on the White House to address the diplomatic crisis.

“I’m really proud to report that earlier today we secured the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey,” he declared to a rapturous applause in Ohio as a plane transporting the evangelical leader from Istanbul landed in Germany. “I think he’s going to be in great shape. . . . We bring a lot of people back, and that’s good.”

He earlier told reporters in Cincinnati that there had been “no deal” to secure the pastor’s release. The president had been less vocal on the suspected murder of U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, although he said he would raise it with his Saudi counterpart King Salman. “I will be calling at some point,” he added, before pivoting to the threat posed by Iran.

Trump also praised GOP gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is seeking to replace the term-bound Trump-critic Gov. John Kasich. He faces Democrat Richard Cordray, an Obama administration official who served as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “He was hurting people and I think he enjoyed it,” said Trump of Cowdray’s time in office. “No really, I think he enjoyed it.”

The rally took place in Warren Country, a GOP fortress where Trump more than doubled Hillary Clinton’s tally in the 2016 election and that has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in over half a century.

It marked Trump’s fifth visit as candidate or president to greater Cincinnati, a city that has a spot in Trump lore as the place where he spent high school summers working for his father’s business. The “Art of The Deal” includes a chapter, “The Cincinnati Kid,” in which Trump claims credit for spotting investment opportunities in the city. “I love it,” he later said. “I worked here, I was here, I lived here.”

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« Reply #2810 on: Oct 15, 2018, 04:12 AM »

World in mental health crisis of 'monumental suffering', say experts

Lancet report says 13.5 million lives could be saved every year if mental illness addressed

Sarah Boseley Health editor
11 Oct 2018 18.30 EDT

Every country in the world is facing and failing to tackle a mental health crisis, from epidemics of anxiety and depression to conditions caused by violence and trauma, according to a review by experts that estimates the rising cost will hit $16tn (£12tn) by 2030.

A team of 28 global experts assembled by the Lancet medical journal says there is a “collective failure to respond to this global health crisis” which “results in monumental loss of human capabilities and avoidable suffering.”

The burden of mental ill-health is rising everywhere, says the Lancet Commission, in spite of advances in the understanding of the causes and options for treatment. “The quality of mental health services is routinely worse than the quality of those for physical health,” says their report, launched at a global ministerial mental health summit in London.

When it comes to mental health, says the commission, every country is a developing country. “Government investment and development assistance for mental health remain pitifully small,” says the report. The high cost of $16tn by 2030 is estimated from previous World Bank data on the loss to the global economy of people of working age with mental health problems.

In some countries, people with mental disorders are abused and incarcerated, it says. “Human rights violations and abuses persist in many countries, with large numbers of people locked away in mental institutions or prisons, or living on the streets, often without legal protection,” it says.

Prof Vikram Patel of the Harvard Medical School, joint lead editor, said mental ill-health caused “colossal human suffering” and was responsible for substantial numbers of deaths that are attributed to other causes. “Mental health problems kill more young people than any other cause around the world,” he said.

    Tens of thousands of people with mental disorders are chained in their own homes
    Prof Vikram Patel, Harvard Medical School

Suicides are attributed to deaths from injuries. Opioid deaths are considered to be drug misuse. “We are treating mental illness as a risk factor,” said Patel. “A lot of global health priority setting has historically been around diseases that kill.” The commission estimates that 13.5 million deaths every year could be averted if the underlying mental ill-health problems were addressed.

In many countries there is no expectation of help. Surveys in India and China, which have a third of the global population, suggest that more than 80% of people with any mental health or substance use disorder did not seek treatment. And when they do seek help, the quality is poor.

Human rights violations occur most often against people with learning disabilities and those with mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. “Tens of thousands of people with mental disorders are chained in their own homes, or in prayer camps and traditional healing facilities,” says the report.
800,000 people kill themselves every year. What can we do?

When people are freed, it may be without warning or proper preparation for their care, leading sometimes to arrest, imprisonment and early death. “In 2016, a tragic case occurred in South Africa when the Gauteng Department of Health stopped funding a large 2,000­ bed facility and allowed the dis­charge of vulnerable people with psychosocial disability into improperly licensed community residential facilities, leading to the death of more than 140 people,” says the report.

The commission recommends a much higher priority for mental health and parity with physical healthcare, as well as the integration of mental health care into routine primary care.

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« Reply #2811 on: Oct 15, 2018, 04:14 AM »

In Pakistan, an ambitious effort to plant 10 billion trees takes root

By Pamela Constable
October 15 2018
WA Post

HARIPUR, Pakistan — When Mohammed Riasat, a government forest service officer, peers up at the majestic ridges around him, he sees small miracles others might miss: a few dozen pine seedlings that have sprouted in rocky, near-vertical cliffs or a grove of healthy young eucalyptus trees, planted on a patch of terrain that had been eroding after years of illegal use.

“When I see a grown tree cut down, I feel like a close relative has died,” said Riasat, who has spent three decades working with limited funds and staff to protect Pakistan’s beleaguered forests here in the verdant hills of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. “When I see a new one appear, I feel attached to it.”

Two years ago, that struggling effort got a huge boost. Imran Khan, then a politician whose party governed the province, launched a program dubbed the “Billion Tree Tsunami.” Eventually, hundreds of thousands of trees were planted across the region, timber smuggling was virtually wiped out, and a cottage industry of backyard nurseries flourished.

Today, Khan is Pakistan’s prime minister, and his new government is aiming to replicate that success nationwide, this time with a “10 Billion Tree Tsunami.” Officials said they hope the initiative, launched last month, will foster environmental awareness in their impoverished, drought-plagued country, where both greed and necessity have left forests stripped; they now cover only 2 percent of all land, according to the World Bank.

The plan is one of dozens that Khan has proposed in his wide-ranging agenda to fashion a “new” Pakistan. Some have met with skepticism, such as persuading wealthy overseas Pakistanis to finance the construction of dams and vowing to end entrenched official corruption.

But the idea of a green awakening seems to be taking root. The new program is expected to make enemies, especially powerful individuals and groups that have appropriated large tracts of government land for years. But the concept appeals to a new generation of better-educated Pakistanis, and it has sparked excitement on social media.

Pakistan’s new government has launched a “10 Billion Tree Tsunami” in hopes of reversing decades of deforestation. (Pamela Constable/The Washington Post)

“This is one of the rare things in our society that is not divisive,” said Malik Alim Aslam, the new federal minister for climate change, who headed the original campaign in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. On Sept. 2, when the government held 200 launch ceremonies across the country, enthusiastic citizens helped plant 2.5 million saplings in one day.

But experts said Pakistan will need more than a trillion new pines, cedars and eucalyptus trees to reverse decades of deforestation. It is even harder, they noted, to protect public forests from human predation, which is often hidden from view and hazardous to combat. Culprits include timber rustlers, villagers who let cattle forage freely and developers who raze acres of forested land.

During the pilot project in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, officials hired local residents as forest guards, but 10 of them were killed trying to stop encroachers. And when an observant citizen repeatedly reported illegal logging in an obscure area of the province, local officials did nothing. Finally, provincial leaders fired every employee of the forest service administration.

“It was a signal of zero tolerance, and it sent shock waves across the government,” Aslam said.

The bold move also encouraged a budding environmental movement. One small victory occurred recently in Swat, a once-bucolic region in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa that has suffered from years of deforestation and a takeover by Taliban militants. When local officials began cutting down trees to widen a road, protesters blocked it. Then Khan’s new government stepped in, and half of the trees were spared.

Khan’s victory in Pakistan prompts wave of euphoria — and ripples of skepticism

Several activists said the message was also beginning to change traditional habits that damage the environment. In one mountainous area, they said, some residents are planning to relocate to towns in the winter rather than chop down trees to heat their hillside homes.

“Everyone is waking up and starting to plant,” said Hazrat Maaz, a lawyer and environmentalist in Swat. He said he was “especially happy” to see one elderly man preventing sheep from grazing in an area of newly planted trees.

During a drive last month along steep, winding roads linking the capital, Islamabad, with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Riasat pointed out acres of two-year-old pines and eucalyptus trees, as well as newly protected forest areas where dozens of tiny pine saplings had taken root spontaneously.

Every few miles, large green signs promoting the Billion Tree Tsunami had been erected, listing how many acres had been planted. One, however, stood next to a freshly bulldozed road and chopped-off cliff where pines clung by their exposed roots. A site supervisor said the land had been purchased to build a restaurant for tourists.

Trees have been bulldozed along the road from the capital to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to make room for a restaurant. Commercial development is permitted at that site. (Pamela Constable/The Washington Post)

Riasat said such commercial arrangements are permitted in that area. But on protected land, he said, the community caretaker program has improved security by educating transgressors and imposing penalties if they persist.

“Before this campaign, people who wanted to build a house or graze their cattle just went into the woods. Now that has been stopped,” Riasat said. Even some former timber rustlers, he said, have started growing and selling trees. “We used to go after them, but now they come to us for advice,” he said.

Aslam said he has no illusions that planting and protecting billions of trees across Pakistan will happen cheaply or quickly. One obstacle will be forcing powerful people off public land they have long occupied; another is that two of Pakistan’s four provinces are dominated by political parties that are rivals of Khan’s Movement for Justice and are less likely to cooperate.

“The challenge is going to be much bigger this time,” Aslam said. “About 40 percent of fertile public land has been encroached by land-grabbers, including some lawmakers. There will be a lot of blowback, but we have strong political commitment. We will enforce the law.”

In communities along the road to Haripur, residents seemed supportive of the campaign. Some noted the economic link between environmental preservation and tourism. Others said Khan’s provincial program had spurred them to support his party in the recent national elections.

“All the beauty of the environment here is due to forests, and no one should be allowed to touch them,” said Mohammed Qayoum, 50, a retired schoolteacher in the town of Pir Sohawa. “For years, the officials never came to check on them, or they made deals to cut down trees. But in these past five years, that has all changed.”

Goats and a cow graze at a farm in the village of Boddla located near acres of eucalyptus trees planted in 2016. (Pamela Constable/The Washington Post)

Twenty miles farther on, several residents of Boddla village said they had benefited when the government planted acres of eucalyptus trees there in 2016. Some earned cash as laborers; others raised saplings for a small profit. They are forbidden to let their livestock roam among the new trees, so they now tie the animals in their yards.

“When things are green, it is a benefit for everyone,” said Khanan, a villager in his late 50s. Outside his mud-walled farmhouse, a cow and two goats were tethered under a thatch. “God will have mercy on this work,” he said.

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« Reply #2812 on: Oct 15, 2018, 04:16 AM »

Sinking Santa Cruz: climate change threatens famed California beach town

Similar challenges are sprouting up along the coast, and the golden sands and beach properties that define the state at risk

Oliver Milman in Santa Cruz, California
15 Oct 2018 06.00 BST

On a recent overcast October afternoon, yet another section of West Cliff Drive, the premier seafront street in Santa Cruz, California, was roped off as workers toiled to prevent it from crumbling into the Pacific Ocean.

The erosion gnawing away at this prized road, and the famed surfing beaches it overlooks, is emblematic of the relentless threat that climate change poses to California’s coastline. As the sea level rises and storms of growing strength smash into the coast, the golden sands and beach properties that have come to define the state are at risk.

“I think with every coastal road in California, you’re going have to think about relocating it,” said Gary Griggs, an earth sciences professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

West Cliff Drive, which sits on an elevated bluff, hugs the coast near Santa Cruz’s 111-year-old boardwalk en route to a nature reserve thick with eucalyptus. The street’s beach houses and towering villas are regularly valued beyond $2m, with some vacant plots of land fetching $1m.

“Coastal property values are way inflated, factoring in all the risk involved,” Griggs said. “West Cliff Drive is the place to be now; lots of people who made money in Silicon Valley have moved there.”

Santa Cruz sits on the northern lip of Monterey Bay, which is losing several feet of beach a year. Sections of the cliffs beneath West Cliff Drive are abutted by piles of rocks, known as riprap, placed as a last-ditch attempt to stem erosion.

There is only one house on the ocean side of the road, and its owners moved in recently. “They didn’t have any idea what they were getting into,” said Griggs, who is doing consulting work for the owners amid a tussle with authorities over riprap earlier put in place without permission. “The seawater keeps rising. In the long run, the main beach in Santa Cruz will certainly be lost, if nothing is done.”

Similar challenges are sprouting up along the California coast, particularly in the south of the state. Up to two-thirds of southern California’s beaches will completely erode by the end of this century if there aren’t “large-scale human interventions”, according to a major report released by the state government in August. Around $48bn worth of property will be at risk should the swelling sea level increase beyond 4ft.

“If we continue the path we are on there will be significant loss of beaches,” said Madeline Cavalieri, a program manager at the California Coastal Commission. The response to morphing coastlines will have to involve a combination of “protection, accommodation and retreat”, she added.

This scenario is particularly painful for a place like Santa Cruz, which draws its cultural and economic strength from its beaches and pounding waves.

According to local lore, three visiting Hawaiian princes introduced surfing to the city in 1885, when they rode the waves in longboards milled from local redwood. Surfers from around the world now descend upon Santa Cruz to spots such as Steamer Lane, where a rip hurtles into a sandstone bluff that has been in retreat since the last ice age and is now guarded by an array of rocks. A former lighthouse, now a surfing museum, overlooks surfers scrambling over the rocks and into the foaming water.

“If you ask a surfer, it’s very apparent that climate change is real and is happening right before our eyes,” said Nick Muchas, who has lived and surfed in Santa Cruz for the past 15 years. Muchas frets about surfing spots that will suffer as the coasts recede, leading to overcrowding at the better areas, as well as the impacts on land.

“West Cliff Drive is our cherished road, it’s our treasure chest, and every winter we can see the whole cliff is becoming more unstable,” he said. “When the surf and spray comes over it, I’d say it’s treacherous.”

Erosion has shaped California’s coast since long before mass industrialization started pumping planet-warming gases into the atmosphere. A rock arch near the lighthouse collapsed in the late 19th century, with just a stump remaining now. A separate rock formation, known locally as “the old shoe”, is now more like the bottom of a heel.

But climate change is accelerating this process. According to a city climate plan, more than 70 Santa Cruz buildings are expected to be at risk from flooding within 12 years with 4in of sea level rise. By 2100, this grows to 390 residential and 65 commercial properties, along with seven miles of roads. This would come with “high rates of beach and coastal bluff retreat”, the document states.

“It’s really hard to say right now what that means, but we do know that tourism is a major driver of our economy here locally,” said Tiffany Wise-West, the sustainability and climate action manager for the city of Santa Cruz. “What if [residents] do have to move at some point? We already have an affordable housing crisis here in Santa Cruz.”

Along about a tenth of the California coast, the response to this threat has been to erect seawalls or dump protective rocks. While this may buy time for expensive low-lying infrastructure – waste water treatment plants, power stations, the airports at San Francisco and San Jose – the barriers can exacerbate the loss of beaches.

As the sea level rises, beaches would naturally migrate inland with the retreating coastline. But fixed points such as seawalls prevent this shift, trapping and in effect drowning the sand as the sea rises and storms take their toll.

Roads, sidewalks and buildings also provide a barrier, which presents a conundrum for cities such as Santa Cruz that want to avoid the opposing financial cataclysms of losing their beaches or having to relocate buildings and people en masse to safer ground inland.

The hard choices won’t be deferred for much longer. California’s coastal commission has been pushing Santa Cruz to come up with an erosion plan for West Cliff Drive and the city is turning to residents for feedback.

More defences may be erected; some areas may have to be abandoned. The state is keen on “green” solutions – seeding wetlands or other vegetation to slow the tides – but that is tough to do in Santa Cruz, with its steep cliffs and hefty waves.

The retreating coastline isn’t the only climate challenge Santa Cruz, like many coastal locations, is facing. Heatwaves threaten the sick and elderly, while lengthening wildfire seasons risk choking the city with smoke. The city, already unaffordable for many residents, could see a future influx of people seeking to escape from baking temperatures inland.

“I would say we are on the leading edge in terms of understanding our risks and being proactive and addressing them,” Wise-West said. “It’s a pretty daunting topic, though.”

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« Reply #2813 on: Oct 15, 2018, 04:18 AM »

Fracking to restart in UK after last-minute legal bid fails

High court rejects request to temporarily block Cuadrilla operation in Lancashire

Adam Vaughan
12 Oct 2018 13.33 BST

The first fracking in the UK for seven years will start on Saturday, the shale gas company Cuadrilla has confirmed, after campaigners lost a last-minute legal challenge to block the operations.

Lancashire resident Robert Dennett won an interim injunction last Friday against Lancashire county council, putting a temporary halt to the start of fracking at a well outside Blackpool.

His lawyers argued on Thursday that the council’s emergency planning was inadequate in the event of an incident at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site.

But on Friday a high court judge rejected the request for an injunction, on the grounds that the council had not failed in its duties regarding civil contingency planning. Justice Supperstone also dismissed an application for a judicial review of emergency planning.

The court’s decision removes the final barrier to fracking starting again in the UK after a hiatus of seven years.

Cuadrilla said it was delighted it could start operations as planned. “We are now commencing the final operational phase to evaluate the commercial potential for a new source of indigenous natural gas in Lancashire,” said the chief executive, Francis Egan.

Lawyers for the company had said it was incurring costs of £94,000 for every day it was injuncted and prevented from fracking.

The oil services firm Schlumberger has been contracted to undertake the hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, which involves pumping water, chemicals and sand underground at high pressure to fracture shale rock 2km below the surface to release gas.

The operation is allowed to run from 9am-1pm on Saturday, and then 8am-6pm Monday to Friday. In all, the process is expected to take around three months, because the company is proceeding slowly to monitor any seismic activity.

The only serious threat to fracking starting on Saturday comes from the strong gusts being brought by Storm Callum, which could delay the process until Monday for safety reasons.

Dennett said: “I’m obviously disappointed. We will continue to be defiant and fight this. We will never give up. We’ve put too much effort in to throw the towel in.”

Lawyers for Dennett said he would appeal against the judge’s decision. They believe that a case could be won on the grounds that the court erred in regard to government guidance on the civil contingencies act, which covers emergency planning by authorities.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said: “It’s a scandal that the government has been allowed to force through fracking at any cost.”

Jonathan Bartley, the Green party co-leader, said the court verdict was a “real blow”, coming just days after a report by the UN climate science panel, the IPCC, said fossil fuel use must be cut dramatically to limit temperature rises to 1.5C.

He vowed to continue his opposition to fracking and said public attitudes were hardening against the industry.

“We will fight on. It means direct action. We’ll be taking the fight to the fracking companies,” Bartley told the Guardian outside the court.

Marc Willers QC, representing Dennett, had asked for a two-week interim injunction while the court considered the matter. “It’s a small price to pay for the safety of local residents,” he told a packed courtroom.

But lawyers for Cuadrilla had argued there was no serious case to be tried, and said the ultimate arbiter for whether the company could frack was not the local authority but the business secretary, Greg Clark, who issued a fracking consent this summer.

The campaign group Frack Free Lancashire said it was disappointed by the court’s decision.

“Cuadrilla can now carry on regardless, ignoring the urgent warning issued this week by the IPCC about the need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, but all of the fracking companies need to know that fracking will never get a foothold in the UK because they will meet resistance at every stage of their projects,” a spokesperson said.

Fracking opponents have pledged to hold a national climate change rally at a farm near Cuadrilla’s site later this month. As well as opposing fracking at Preston New Road, the event will call for the release of three fracking activists who were recently jailed over their protests at the site last year.

Cuadrilla’s well will be the first to be fracked since one in 2011, which triggered minor earthquakes and led to a moratorium and stronger regulations.

Inconveniently for ministers, the return of fracking also coincides with the launch of the government’s first ‘Green GB Week’, which is billed as a celebration of 10 years of the Climate Change Act, the UK’s law enshrining an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050.

On Monday the government is expected to formally instruct its climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, to explore whether that target should be reviewed in light of the IPCC’s 1.5C report.

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« Reply #2814 on: Oct 15, 2018, 04:21 AM »

Germany rolls out the first hydrogen-powered trains in the world


As of this Monday, passengers from the towns of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde, and Buxtehude (all of them just west of Hamburg) can embark on a unique experience — on a train. Two Coradia iLint locomotives — designed and built by Alstom, the same company behind the bullet train — will ‘burn’ through hydrogen fuel cells to take these passengers for a ride.


People like fast trains. At the time of their unveiling, trains such as Japan’s bullet train and the French TGV made headlines, set records, and captured the public’s imagination. But going fast isn’t the only desirable quality in a train. For example, the TGV imposed itself, along with its electric transmission, during the 1973 oil crisis in France.

As Europe works to decouple its economy from fossil fuels, French company Alstom wants to provide them with trains made to measure. The company is now working to replace Germany’s old diesel-powered trains with hydrogen ones. Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge inaugurated the first pair of such trains — christened Coradia iLint — at a ceremony in Bremervoerde, where the trains will undergo hydrogen refueling.

    “The world’s first hydrogen train is entering into commercial service and is ready for serial production,” he said during the event.

The trains, painted bright blue, will run along a 100-kilometer (62-mile) long stretch of track. However, they can travel up to 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) on a single tank of hydrogen, the company reports.

Hydrogen engines draw on fuel cells to produce electricity. Hydrogen in these cells is combined with oxygen in the atmosphere to generate power, and their only exhaust product is pure water and steam. The engines in the Coradia iLints are very efficient, so the vehicles come equipped with banks of ion-lithium to make sure no charge is wasted.

They’re much quieter than their diesel-fueled counterparts, more eco-friendly, and have the upper hand on electric trains as they can run on any stretch of track, electrified or not. Their only down-side is a higher initial cost.

    “Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train, but it is cheaper to run,” says Stefan Schrank, Alstom’s project manager.

For their part, Germans seem to really dig the trains. Alstom reported that it has already signed a contract to deliver 14 trains in the Lower Saxony (northern Germany) region by 2021. The trains will be delivered to the local transport authority of Lower Saxony (LNVG), which will, in turn, lease them to a contracted train operator, the Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser GmbH (EVB).

France is also working to acquire hydrogen-powered trains, which it plans to have ready by 2022. Other European countries, including the U.K, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and Italy, have also expressed an interest in such vehicles, as did Canada.

The Coradia iLint was first showcased at the rail industry trade fair InnoTrans in 2016, where the company boldly named it “train of the future”; we can only hope that their boast proves true.

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« Reply #2815 on: Oct 15, 2018, 04:38 AM »

'It'll change back': Trump says climate change not a hoax, but denies lasting impact

Climate scientists have political agendas, US president says in interview with 60 Minutes

Emily Holden
Mon 15 Oct 2018 06.48 BST

Donald Trump has reiterated his doubts about climate change, suggesting that the climate could “change back again,” and that climate scientists are politically motivated.

The US president has long questioned man-made global warming. In an interview with CBS programme 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night, he said that he no longer believes climate change is a hoax, as he tweeted in 2012.

“I think something’s happening. Something’s changing and it’ll change back again,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a hoax. I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this: I don’t want to give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t want to lose millions and millions of jobs.”

The White House has previously declined to clarify Trump’s position. He tweeted in 2017 during a cold snap that “perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.”

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!
    December 29, 2017

Trump has said he will withdraw the US from the Paris agreement, an international pact to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, cars and industry. His administration is seeking to roll back all of the country’s significant climate efforts.

The president’s comments come as the record-breaking Hurricane Michael flattened communities in Florida and barely a week after an international coalition of scientists warned that it will be incredibly difficult to avoid the intensified heat waves, flooding and extreme storms that will come with higher temperatures caused by humans.

Climate scientists say hurricanes are likely to grow stronger in warming oceans.

Asked about that, Trump said “you’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda.”

As for melting ice caps and rising seas, Trump said “you don’t know whether or not that would have happened with or without man.”

Global temperatures are already up 1C since industrialization. Keeping them from rising more than 1.5C and avoiding environmental catastrophe would require unprecedented action to begin phasing out fossil fuels within the next 12 years, according to the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change. At 1.5C warmer, seas could still rise 26cm to 77cm.

Much of Trump’s cabinet has questioned the scientific consensus that humans are causing higher temperatures that pose immediate and growing threats.

Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida this weekend also questioned how much humans are contributing to climate change. Rubio acknowledged temperature rises and swelling seas but argued inaccurately that “many scientists would debate the percentage of what is attributable to man versus normal fluctuations.”

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« Reply #2816 on: Oct 15, 2018, 04:40 AM »

A strong libido and bored by monogamy: the truth about women and sex

When a heterosexual couple marries, who’s likely to get bored of sex first? The answer might surprise you…

Joanna Moorhead
15 Oct 2018 15.00 BST

What do you know about female sexuality? Whatever it is, chances are, says Wednesday Martin, it’s all wrong. “Most of what we’ve been taught by science about female sexuality is untrue,” she says. “Starting with two basic assertions: that men have a stronger libido than women, and that men struggle with monogamy more than women do.”

Martin pulls no punches. Her bestselling memoir Primates of Park Avenue cast her as an anthropologist observing the habits of her Upper East Side neighbours. She claimed among other shockers that privileged stay-at-home mothers were sometimes given a financial “wife bonus” based on their domestic and social performance. The book caused a furore, and is currently being developed as a TV series, with Martin as exec producer. Her new book, out this week, should be equally provocative. Entitled Untrue, it questions much that we thought we knew about women’s sexuality.

Her starting-point is that research into human sexuality has been, historically, overwhelmingly male-centric; “notable sexologists”, starting with Carl Friedrich Otto Westphal (1833-1890) are mostly male. You have to scroll through another 25, including Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey, before you arrive at a female name: Mary Calderone (1904-1998), who championed sex education. And even in the subsequent 30 names there are only five women, including both Virginia Johnson (partner of the famous, and male, William Masters), and Shere Hite.

    Women crave variety at least as much as men

All these men made certain assumptions about women’s sexuality. It’s no surprise that it was Hite who revolutionised thinking on female orgasm, arguing that it was not “dysfunctional” to fail to climax during intercourse. Crucial, too, says Martin, has been the work of Rosemary Basson, who realised that spontaneous desire, the kind sexologists had measured for years, was only one type of relevant desire, and that responsive or triggered sexual response is much more important for women. Measured on that scale it turns out that women are, in fact, every bit as sexually arousable as men.

New findings showed that women reported similar intensities of desire and arousal to men, and “a real shift in thinking” about females and monogamy. “We were taught that men were the ones who needed variety, but the exact opposite turns out to be the case,” says Martin. “Overfamiliarisation with a partner and desexualisation kills women’s libido. We used to think it’s only men who became sexually bored after marriage; turns out that’s not true. It’s when women get married that it’s detrimental to their libido.”

Martin isn’t here to talk about her own relationship, but for the record she’s 53, has been married for 18 years, still lives in New York, and has two sons aged 17 and 10 who are, predictably enough, “mortified” at what their mother writes about. She hopes her work will help validate the feelings of the next generation of young women: “It’s not about giving them permission to ‘cheat’, not even giving them permission to refuse monogamy, but I hope it does give them permission to feel normal if they don’t like monogamy,” she says. Because that’s the central fallacy: the belief that monogamy is harder for men than for women. In fact, argues Martin, the exact opposite is the case. “Women crave novelty and variety and adventure at least as much as men, and maybe more.” She talks me through what she says is the classic pathway for women when they marry or commit to one heterosexual partner long-term (the research has so far concentrated on heterosexual couples; more work is needed on gay women’s sex lives). “A couple live together, their libidos are matched, and they have a lot of sex. But after a year, two years, maybe three years, what tends to happen is that the woman’s desire drops more quickly than the man’s. At that point the woman thinks, ‘I don’t like sex any more.’ But what, in fact, is happening is that she is having a hard time with monogamy; because women get bored with one partner more quickly than men do.”

So women are socialised to believe that they’ve gone off sex, when in fact they’re craving variety. Instead of being the brake on passion, says Martin, the female half of the long-term partnership is the key to a more adventurous and exciting sex life. What it’s all about, she explains, is the existence of the only entirely pleasure-seeking organ in the human repertoire, the clitoris. For her portrait, she wears a necklace shaped like one. “Women evolved to seek out pleasure, women are multiply orgasmic, women’s biology sets them up to seek out pleasure,” says Martin. “The clitoris has a very important back story about female human sex which is that our sex evolved for the purpose of adventure.”

Another element in the mix, she says, was the finding that a third of women who are having an extramarital relationship say their marriage or long-term partnership is happy or very happy. “So we need to understand that women aren’t just seeking variety because they’re unhappy, they’re seeking it because they need variety and novelty,” she says.

    There’s a generation in their 40s and 50s who missed the vibrator

What does all this mean, in a practical sense, for our sex lives? Martin doesn’t like the word “cheating” – she prefers to use the term “step out” – and that’s what some women decide to do. But it’s not the only solution. “There are many women who are suffering but don’t want to leave their relationship or to step out, and they’ve not yet discovered vibrators,” says Martin. “I can’t tell you how many women have told me they never had a vibrator – there’s a generation in their 40s and 50s who missed the vibrator revolution and never caught up. And there are all these new vibrators out there – and anything new you can introduce will make a big difference to your sex life.” Another way forward can be for a couple to open up their relationship in some way, and invite someone else in. And she has other ideas up her sleeve that seem a lot less risqué, like going on a zip wire, taking up dance lessons or going scuba diving together. Why does that help? “Research on the neurochemicals has found that our sexual desire is triggered when we do something new with a long-term partner. A thrilling activity is ideal: it can give you a wash of hormones that makes you feel new to each other again.”

Indeed, part of the narrative seems to be that men are too quick to settle for “the usual” (which makes sense now we know they’re not the ones who are bored); but opening up the conversation about what else they could try can relight the fuse. The trick here, counsels Martin, is for them to keep on and on asking. “Men really caring about what women want sexually makes a huge difference. You might need to have the conversation over and over, and women might keep saying they’re happy with things as they are – but keep asking, and eventually women will open up about their sexual fantasies. We find that their menus are more varied than men’s. Men are shocked, but also gratified and thrilled, when they find out how sexually exciting we can be when we get past the inhibitions that have been socialised into us.”

Paradoxically, there’s been a parallel shift in attitudes towards extramarital affairs and divorce alongside the growing studies into women’s sexuality. Martin quotes the US statistics: in 1976, fewer than half of well-educated Americans thought having an affair was always wrong; by 2013, that figure was 91%. “We’ve become a lot less tolerant of infidelity in recent years,” says Martin. “And meanwhile divorce has become much more common: a large number of people in the 1970s who thought affairs were OK, thought divorce was wrong.”

So at the precise moment science reveals women have the bigger “need” to be sexually adventurous, society clamps down on infidelity. And that, says Martin, is hugely significant. “The way we feel about women who refuse monogamy is an important metric for how we feel about equality.” She’s talking, she says, about women who openly refuse monogamy by being polyamorous. The overwhelming story we buy into, after all, is that men who “cheat” are just “men being men”; women who “step out” are far more likely to be criticised and shamed. Ultimately, though, they’re challenging something very deep in society’s expectations of them – and perhaps their stance is the most radical female stance of all.

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« Reply #2817 on: Oct 15, 2018, 04:43 AM »

The woman who escaped a polygamous cult – and turned its HQ into a refuge

Briell Decker was 18 when she became the 65th wife of US cult leader Warren Jeffs. Can she help heal the town his FLDS sect ruled for generations?

Alex Hannaford
15 Oct 2018 08.00 BST

Briell Decker carefully removed the screws from the corners of the window and began pounding on the glass until it started to come loose. Hearing the noise, her sister-in-law, who had been in the lounge area of their trailer home, came in and took the screwdriver away. But it was too late: Decker had already unscrewed one side of the pane; as soon as she was alone again, she opened the window, climbed out into the street and ran away. She was escaping her brother, his wife, and the fundamentalist Mormon cult they all belonged to. Decker had been forced to marry its leader, Warren Jeffs, aged 18.

Six years later, Decker sits on the back porch of the $1.2m mansion where she once lived with Jeffs. “I knew I wasn’t going to give up, whether I made it out or not,” she says of her escape. “Nothing was going to stop me.”

Everything has changed since then. Jeffs is seven years into a life sentence for sexual assault. Decker has made a life for herself, and recently remarried. The town in which she lives has started to open itself up to people outside the cult for the first time in 90 years, and to welcome back excommunicated members.

For three generations, the twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona – collectively known as Short Creek – have been home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as FLDS, a religious sect that split from the Mormon church in 1930; its members wanted to continue to practise polygamy. The church teaches that having multiple wives (each of whom is assigned to a man) is ordained by God. Women wear long-sleeved prairie dresses that stretch down to the ankles, and pin their hair in a bun.

Now the walls around Short Creek’s houses, real and figurative, are coming down. Decker has turned the 44-room mansion where Jeffs and his wives lived into a refuge for other women fleeing the same church. “Even though it was his house, it feels good,” she says.

Jeffs, a tall, slim man with dark eyes, has been president and prophet of FLDS since 2002, continuing to run the cult from his prison cell. Soon after he assumed the leadership, he began splitting families apart, taking young girls as his own brides, and excommunicating members, mainly young men, from the church. He banned socialising, as well as contact with the outside world. In 2011, he began a life sentence for sexually assaulting two girls aged 12 and 14, whom he described as his “spiritual wives”. Jeffs, now 62, has wed around 80 women and children over the years, though the state doesn’t recognise these marriages. Decker was wife number 65.

It has taken a long time for change to come to Short Creek, as the community starts to reckon with its leader’s legacy. There are still about 10,000 active members of the church in the region, most of them in Short Creek. But there are signs that others have moved on: last November, Hildale elected its first ever female, non-FLDS, mayor. A few months ago, a new police chief – an outsider with no ties to the community – was sworn in after a jury ruled that the previous force, made up entirely of church members, was guilty of religious discrimination. The town has opened its first bar. And the refuge that Decker helped create, and which opened last year, is helping more and more women like her.

Born Lynette Warner, Decker grew up in an FLDS compound in Sandy, Utah; she says she was always aware she was being groomed to marry Jeffs. Her older sister Colleen had already been forced to marry Jeffs’ father, Rulon, when he was in his 80s and she was 18; Colleen then married Jeffs when Rulon died. Decker, softly spoken and shy, doesn’t remember much about her own wedding day. “I was terrified,” she says. “We had our ceremony and he asked me to come and sit on his lap. I just went foggy and didn’t respond.”

She says they never consummated the marriage, but that Jeffs gave her “some bad trainings”, an FLDS euphemism for teaching scripture, but often including sexual acts that Jeffs claimed were ordained by God. When chilling audio tapes of him teaching his wives how to please him sexually were entered into evidence during his trial, he referred to them as “heavenly trainings”.

Decker still uses phrases from her days in the FLDS: a “repentance mission” is a temporary excommunication. She picks her words carefully when talking about Jeffs. She refers to him as her ex-husband, but says that, looking back, she realises he was “creepy”. “When Warren was around, I’d go into hiding,” she says. “If I didn’t, I’d have to be part of the temple stuff that he was doing.” Does she mean sex acts? I ask. “Yes,” she says.

Jeffs went on the run in 2005 after being indicted by an Arizona jury – initially, for forcing a 16-year-old girl to marry a 28-year-old man who was already married. The FBI charged him with unlawful flight and added him to their most-wanted list. Finally, in August 2006, Jeffs was stopped by police, driving a red Cadillac SUV near Las Vegas. They found four computers, 16 mobile phones, three wigs, a dozen pairs of sunglasses, and more than $55,000 in cash in his car. After a raid on one of his compounds, they discovered he had also taken child brides. After a lengthy legal process, he was sentenced to life plus 20 years, but continued to dictate family separations and church excommunications from prison – among other things, forcing Decker to live with her brother.

At the time of Jeffs’ arrest, a financial trust the FLDS had established to share its members’ assets was valued at well over $100m, and owned most of the homes and buildings in Short Creek. But in 2005, the state of Utah seized control and began leasing houses to former members, in exchange for $100 (£77) a month to a communal fund. Decker asked this trust if she could buy Jeffs’ mansion, explaining she hoped to turn it into a place of healing. The state gave her a discount of $800,000, which meant she had to find the remaining $400,000. Enter The Dream Center, a faith-based charity in Los Angeles, which helps the homeless, at-risk young people, addicts and struggling families, who agreed to manage the mansion as a refuge.

Since it opened a year ago, the refuge has provided meals and safety for women escaping the FLDS with their children, as well as people from nearby towns struggling with addiction or mental health issues. Some weeks, they’ve seen 150 former church members attend their weekly potluck dinner.


One of the women relying on the refuge, who agrees to talk to me is “Beth” (not her real name), a mother of 15 and former FLDS member. She is in her late 40s and still wears her hair in the traditional FLDS bun. As we talk about her life in the church, she alternates between laughter and tears. She entered into a plural marriage when she was 20, she says, the second of four wives. Her eldest child is now in her late 20s; her youngest is seven.

In the beginning, things weren’t too bad. “My grandmother was actually one of the very first settlers in Short Creek. They were members of the Latter-day Saints church, originally. But when it chose to outlaw polygamy, my grandparents refused to give up their plural families. The church excommunicated them and that was the beginning of the FLDS.” Unlike many in the church, Beth went to college and got a job as a medic in Short Creek’s maternity clinic.

A few years ago, she was called to see the bishop of the FLDS, who told her he’d had a revelation from Jeffs in prison. Beth, he said, had committed the sin of abortion and she was to have nothing to do with “priesthood people” again. She was to go on a “repentance mission”, away from Short Creek – which Beth knew meant she would never be allowed back. She would have to leave her children behind, to be cared for by other church members. “I told him it wasn’t true, but he told me not to question the prophet,” she says. “I just went home and told my daughters I had to leave. Everybody was weeping like there had been a death.”

Her children helped pack her bags. “I left really late at night after my youngest were in bed. I kissed all my little guys, told them, ‘I’ll be gone for a while’, but said I’d be right back. All my big girls sat on the porch weeping their eyes out.”

Her father had been ousted from the church 15 years before; her brother more recently. Together they found her an apartment nearby, but for the first month Beth hardly left her bedroom. All contact with her children was forbidden. Slowly, she started integrating into society, getting a job as a hotel maid. Then she got a letter from the local hospital referring to her youngest child’s recent emergency visit. She called the only number she had for her family – her stepson’s. He told her that her son had fallen and broken his arm, but that he was fine. When she called the number again, it had been disconnected.

There comes a point, Beth tells me, when the pain becomes greater than the fear. She hired a lawyer and planned to file kidnapping charges, driving to Short Creek in a motorhome in the hope that she’d be able to bring her children back. “At the gate of the house, I saw my eldest daughter standing there with my two little boys, and I yelled at her to come and talk to me. But she just turned around and ran back in the house with them.”

Later that day, her attorney filed kidnapping charges, and police were sent to retrieve the children. Beth says they had to carry seven of them – one girl and six boys, the only ones under 18 – kicking and screaming to her. “That first year was absolutely hell,” she says. “They threatened to run away, but they knew the police would come after them. My daughter treated me like dirt. She was the eldest of the children who came home and almost a year to the day, just after she turned 18, I came back from work and she was gone – back to the church.”

July this year marked six years since Beth was forced out. “I still have five children in the church,” she says. But those who still live with her have begun to adapt to life on the outside. They are all in school. They love playing video games – “too much,” says Beth. “They’re angry. [The church] has changed them.” Still, none of them talks about going back to the FLDS.

A year ago, she moved her family to Short Creek to take advantage of the houses available for rent under the new trust plan. She pays the $100 a month lease, but isn’t working at the moment, and times are tough. She relies on food stamps and dinners at the refuge.

I ask if she thinks the FLDS is breaking apart. “Not fast enough,” she says. “Everyone tells me I’ll see my other kids again, but right now it’s too hard to think about.”


The new Short Creek refuge is run by Glyn and Jena Jones, a couple from San Diego who came here two years ago with their teenage daughter to assist a charity working with former FLDS children. They show me around the 29,000 sq ft brick building. Outside, a tall chimney spells out “Pray and obey” in dark bricks; upstairs, in the middle of the house, is a large open space – formerly the prayer room, Jena says, where Jeffs made women pray every hour, on the hour.

The bedrooms are modest; in some, the carpet creeps a few feet up the walls – apparently designed to deaden any noise. Downstairs, at the front of the house, is an empty office. It used to have a pull-down single bed, but it was ripped out a year ago when former FLDS members told the Joneses that Jeffs used to abuse them there. Next door is what looks like a storage closet, though a latch under a shelf at the back reveals a hidden room. It’s empty now, save for a thick metal safe on the floor in the corner, its door ajar – most likely a hiding place for Jeffs while he was on the run.

A picture of him with some of his wives sits on a shelf – a reminder, Glyn says, “that no matter how bad things were here, good can come of it. We can’t rewrite history, but look at the amazing things that are happening now.” Each week, trauma counsellors drive up from Phoenix to give therapy sessions to residents.

“In the last month we’ve had four mums and their children stay here – one of them with 11 kids,” Glyn says. “Each of them walked out of the church and needed a place to land. We give them three meals a day, free accommodation and counselling.”

As a Christian organisation, they also have weekly chapel services, but Glyn says they try to broaden their reach so that everyone can relate. “We don’t want to press our beliefs or religion on these people. They’ve had that all their lives.”

    When Warren was around I’d go into hiding. If I didn’t, I’d have to be part of the temple stuff he was doing

Jena offers to give me a tour of Short Creek. There is a peculiar mix of houses – some large and well looked after, others dilapidated. The main FLDS church is a huge, brick-built building that members called The Meeting House, which stretches an entire block. It’s still owned by the church, but hasn’t been used for two years; the gates are locked.

Jena takes a dirt track up the mountain and on to a ridge overlooking the town. We pull up next to a tall, circular grain store and she points towards the cliffs. “That was the FLDS’s cave,” she says. There used to be a lock on the door, but not today. Using the lights on our mobile phones, Jena leads me down a dark passageway. At the end is a heavy, steel door with a bank-vault-style lock. The cave is lined with shelves still full of food: tins of spinach flakes (“life insurance in a can”, the label reads), tomato crystals and apple sauce, ready for the apocalypse that Jeffs regularly warned his followers was just around the corner.


It is difficult to speak to current members of the FLDS church, but through an intermediary I am told to go to a single-room property near the centre of town, where I meet Esther (she won’t give her last name) and Glenn Johnson. They claim that the town’s excommunicated members are making their life difficult. Three years ago, Esther’s entire family lived in Short Creek, including her parents and 18 siblings. Today, most are gone, dispersed across the US after being evicted from their homes or leaving a community they no longer recognise. “My brother was evicted from the home we grew up in, and yet they’re selling the narrative that people are taking back their homes, getting their town back. That’s not true,” she tells me.
Mayor Donia Jessop was born into the church but forced out in 2012. She wants to open the town up to tourism.

Esther says that church members were once debt-free and helped build each other’s homes. When the state of Utah took over the church’s finances, she says, many FLDS members had their homes repossessed. She hasn’t been evicted from her home – yet – but Johnson has. He refused to give the $100 a month fee to the state, because it was funding litigation against his own church: “Why would we want to contribute to that?” The land his grandfather bought in the 1940s has now been repossessed. “It’s like this,” he tells me, explaining the state’s logic. “You really like your car, right? Yeah well, you can keep your car if you give me $100 a month. Otherwise I’m going to take it away from you.” (Jeff Barlow, who runs the state’s communal fund, tells me that only those in arrears by more than three years face eviction, adding: “Our goal was to secure Glenn in that property for ever, but he chose not to pay his taxes for four years.”)

As a single mother whose youngest child is six, Esther says she doesn’t know where else she can go. She misses the community as it was. “But we’re never going to have that back, because they’re driving us out. It’s religious persecution.” I ask whether they still consider Warren Jeffs their prophet. “Yes,” they say in unison. “He was the prophet before he went into prison and he’ll be the prophet when he comes out,” Johnson adds.

Perhaps the most prominent face of change in Short Creek is the new mayor, Donia Jessop. Born into the church in 1970, she wants to see the town return to the peaceful, friendly place she says it once was. “I was born when Uncle Roy was the prophet (Leroy Johnson was president of the FLDS from 1949 until 1986) and it was a pretty great town – with dances, fairs and community get-togethers. When Warren came into rule, it was complete anarchy.”

Jessop and her husband were excommunicated by Jeffs in 2012; he ordered their young daughter to stay, but knowing they would never see her again, they took her with them to a different city in Utah.

Passionate about rebuilding Short Creek, Jessop is a warm, friendly woman. She returned to Hildale in 2015, intent on making a home there with her family and reconnecting with the place she once loved. But she was spat at by members, and had things thrown at her in the street. “One time I drove to see my mother-in-law’s grave, and found my car surrounded by three trucks with blacked-out windows,” she says. “It was to intimidate me. But I refused to be intimidated.”

In 2017, she began to build a grassroots coalition to challenge FLDS members on the town council in the elections. “I asked my best friend if I’d make a good mayor,” she says. “I had no idea what I was doing.” Her campaign signs were defaced, but she persisted; by now, Jeffs’ imprisonment and a church in crisis meant FLDS members made up only 20% of the Hildale community. When Jessop was elected mayor, 10 male members of the town council resigned in protest at a female leader. But she’s undeterred: “I want to improve the roads and the infrastructure, the sewer system, install fibre optic,” she says over a beer at the Edge of the World brewery near the centre of town – an establishment that would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. It’s opposite the gas station building which Jessop owns, and from which she runs a popular cafe and convenience store; there’s no petrol yet, but this will happen, she says. Jessop tells me there are already four places to eat in Short Creek – “and I own one of them” – and 17 places to stay, from hotels to bed and breakfasts, which, she says, get booked solid during the summer.

“I’m focusing on opening up tourism here. We have glamping sites in the shadow of the mountains, and we’re at the back side of Zion national park, where there are amazing trails that have always been closed to the public.”

    In a cave are shelves of food: spinach flakes, tomato crystals and apple sauce, ready for the apocalypse


Briell Decker believes Short Creek can become a place of healing; that, just as she did, the town can start again. “I missed so much valuable time, but I’ve learned it’s not all bad. You take your experiences and do the best you can with them.”

Last summer she married her boyfriend, Stevan, who was never a member of the FLDS church, and the couple have moved away. Her father has left the church and lives in Short Creek. Decker hasn’t spoken to her mother since her escape, but believes she is still in the church.

She hopes her mother and other members will have the revelation she did. “One day,” she says confidently, “they’re going to wake up and realise that what they believed isn’t true.”

• Commenting on this piece? If you would like your comment to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in print, please email weekend@theguardian.com, including your name and address (not for publication)

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« Reply #2818 on: Oct 15, 2018, 04:45 AM »

Bavaria election: Merkel's conservative allies humiliated

Exit polls show CSU losing majority it has long enjoyed as far-right AfD makes gains

Kate Connolly and Josie Le Blond in Berlin
15 Oct 2018 19.19 BST

Angela Merkel’s conservative partners in Bavaria have had their worst election performance for more than six decades, in a humiliating state poll result that is likely to further weaken Germany’s embattled coalition government.

The Christian Social Union secured 37.2% of the vote, preliminary results showed, losing the absolute majority in the prosperous southern state it had had almost consistently since the second world war. The party’s support fell below 40% for the first time since 1954.

Markus Söder, the prime minister of Bavaria, called it a “difficult day” for the CSU, but said his party had a clear mandate to form a government.

Among the main victors was the environmental, pro-immigration Green party, which as predicted almost doubled its voter share to 17.5% at the expense of the Social Democratic party (SPD), which lost its position as the second-biggest party, with support halving to 9.7%.

Annalena Baerbock, the co-leader of the Greens, said: “Today Bavaria voted to uphold human rights and humanity.”

Andrea Nahles, the leader of the SPD, delivered the briefest of reactions at her party’s headquarters in Berlin, calling the results “bitter” and blaming them on the poor performance of the grand coalition in Berlin.

The anti-immigration Alternative für Deutschland, which entered the national parliament for the first time after a federal election last year, repeated the feat in Bavaria – once considered to be off-limits – and will enter the regional parliament for the first time having secured 10.2% of the vote.

Katrin Ebner-Steiner of the AfD told jubilant party supporters she would spend the next five years “representing your strong voice” at a time when Germany and Bavaria were in a “dreadful state” over migration. “We’re cut from a different wood from the bloodless mainstream parties,” she said, promising to “fight for victory not for us, but for Bavaria”.

The Free Voters, a regional protest party, is also likely to enter parliament, having secured a historic 11.6%. Its leader, Hubert Aiwanger, said shortly after the result that he had called the CSU leadership to start coalition negotiations.

Turnout, at 72.5%, was at its highest level for almost 40 years, thanks in part to the clement weather, in part to the historic nature of the vote.

The CSU, the sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), has ridden for decades on a ticket of folksy beerhall rhetoric and pledges to protect the heimat (homeland), combined with the drive for economic success – often referred to as “laptop and lederhosen”.

Merkel did not react to the results, but the CDU’s general secretary, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, called them “bitter … but not surprising”, citing the governmental infighting of recent months. She said the party would urgently consult before a state election in Hesse in two weeks’ time. “We need to address the issues which are burning under people’s fingernails,” she added.

At the previous election in 2013, the CSU secured 47.7% of the vote, compared with 62% at the height of its popularity in 1974.

The party more or less took for granted its dominant position as the standalone leader in Bavaria, but its power base started to erode with the demise of the mainstream political landscape across Germany and elsewhere in Europe.

However, the dramatic slide in the CSU’s fortunes coincided with the arrival of about 1 million refugees to Germany in the summer of 2015 through Bavaria, causing uncertainty and some xenophobia.

The CSU leadership under Söder and the party leader, Horst Seehofer – who is also the federal interior minister – did its best to blame the growing sense of instability in Bavaria on Merkel’s refugee policy.

In an effort to tackle the backlash against Muslim refugees, it introduced a law requiring classrooms and public buildings to hang the crucifix and ban the full-face Islamic veils.

The fallout over the refugee crisis and disputes between Seehofer and Merkel over how to control Germany’s border have almost led to the collapse of her fragile coalition.

But in the weeks running up to the election, successive polls showed the CSU’s hardline stance and its near-success in causing the government’s collapse had prompted a haemorrhaging of voters to other parties.

The CSU’s dismal result leaves in doubt the political futures of both Söder and Seehofer.

Speaking on Sunday evening, Seehofer said the party would “draw the necessary consequences” from the poor result over the following weeks, but did not refer to his or Söder’s futures.

The forthcoming makeup of the Bavarian government is unclear, although the Greens have signalled their willingness to enter a coalition with the CSU, which in turn is uneasy about such an alliance. Statistically, the CSU could also form a government with the Free Voters, with whom they have considerably more in common.

Reacting to the vote, Thomas Steinleitner, a 50-year-old baker from the town of Deggendorf who abandoned the CSU for the first time, said the party had lost touch with its supporters.

“They just repeated what the AfD said, and I don’t identify with them any more. The CSU and CDU – all the big parties – it feels like they work together with industry, but us normal people are not important to them,” he said.

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« Reply #2819 on: Oct 15, 2018, 04:47 AM »

Saudi Arabia to hit back in case of sanctions over Jamal Khashoggi

JP Morgan and Ford join ranks of companies pulling out of Saudi conference as UK, Germany and France call for credible investigation

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor
Mon 15 Oct 2018 05.48 BST

Saudi Arabia has said it will retaliate against any sanctions imposed over the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, as JP Morgan and Ford swelled the ranks of western companies pulling out of a high-profile conference in Riyadh next week.

The diplomatic standoff over the fate of Khashoggi, who has been missing since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October and is presumed to have been murdered, threatens Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s to reform efforts to reform the kingdom’s economy. The Riyadh stock market had its biggest fall in years on Sunday.

Donald Trump has threatened the US ally with “severe punishment” if Khashoggi, who has been critical of Bin Salman, has been killed.

The French, German and UK foreign secretaries ratcheted up the pressure by releasing a joint statement calling on the Saudi government to give a complete and detailed account of Khashoggi’s disappearance, adding that those found to be responsible must be held to account.

Riyadh vowed to hit back against any action. “The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether through economic sanctions, political pressure or repeating false accusations,” it said.

“The kingdom also affirms that if it is [targeted by] any action, it will respond with greater action.” The statement also pointed out that the oil-rich kingdom “plays an effective and vital role in the world economy”.

The country’s foreign ministry issued a series of tweets rejecting the accusations as “attempts to undermine” Saudi Arabia, writing in one post “demise is the outcome of these weak endeavors”.

    Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN)

    Steadfast & Glorious 🇸🇦
    Demise is the outcome of these weak endeavors pic.twitter.com/WBb9yusaE6
    October 14, 2018

The Saudi response came after the Tadawul exchange in Riyadh dropped by 7% at one point on Sunday, the week’s first day of trading in Saudi Arabia, with 182 of its 186 listed stocks showing losses by early afternoon. The market later pulled back some of the losses.

Business leaders as well as media companies including Bloomberg and CNN have pulled out of an investment conference next week in Riyadh, dubbed “Davos in the desert”.

Jamie Dimon, the powerful boss of JP Morgan, on Sunday became the latest to say he would not be attending. Ford chief executive Bill Ford also announced he would not be going. Neither gave a reason for the cancellations.

The belligerence of the Saudi statement is likely to anger US senators pressing for the Trump administration to take tough economic action against Riyadh, including sanctions.

It showed no sign of contrition or clarification of the promise last week to conduct an inquiry into Khashoggi’s disappearance. Instead, Riyadh condemned a “campaign of false allegations and falsehoods”. In what is likely to be a reference to Turkey, and possibly its Gulf rival Qatar, Saudi Arabia claimed some were “rushing and seeking to exploit rumours and accusations to achieve goals and agendas unrelated to the search for truth”.

Saudi Arabia’s vast oil reserves, said to be about 260bn barrels, give it enormous clout in the global economy. It has significant power to drive up prices, which would hurt every major developed economy.

Riyadh is the world’s second-biggest arms importer after India, and 61% of its imports come from the US, supporting thousands of jobs. Trump signed a $110bn (£84bn) defence agreement last year, which stands to benefit US employers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Electric.

Turki Aldhakhil, the general manager of Al Arabiya, the official Saudi news channel, claimed in an opinion piece that Riyadh was ready to implement 30 measures “without flinching” the moment US sanctions were imposed, including cuts to oil production that could lead to prices rising to $100 a barrel.

“The truth is that if Washington imposes sanctions on Riyadh, it will stab its own economy to death, even though it thinks that it is stabbing only Riyadh,” he wrote.

Aldhakhil warned the repercussions of US sanctions could include a military alliance between Saudi Arabia and Russia, and an end to intelligence sharing.

In the firmest joint language to appear from Europe since the crisis broke, the European foreign ministers said “light must be shed on Khashoggi’s disappearance”.

They said they shared the “grave concerns” expressed by the UN secretary general, António Guterres, and “are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. There needs to be a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened, and – if relevant – to identify those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi and ensure that they are held to account.”

The statement added: “We encourage joint Saudi-Turkish efforts in that regard, and expect the Saudi government to provide a complete and detailed response. We have conveyed this message directly to the Saudi authorities.”

Over the weekend, Turkey pressed the UK to use its influence to ensure Saudi Arabia abides by its commitment to launch a joint investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

The Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, is due to meet his British counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, in London on Monday afternoon. He complained that Saudi Arabia was not allowing Turkish investigators to enter the consulate.

Speaking on Sunday, Hunt said: “What they need to do is cooperate fully with the investigations … and to get to the bottom of this.

“If, as they say, this terrible murder didn’t happen then where is Jamal Khashoggi? If they have got nothing to hide then they will, and should, cooperate.”

The UK also suggested the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, may withdraw from the investment conference if it is shown the Saudi government was involved in the suspected murder.

The official UK position is that Fox’s diary for that week is yet to be finalised. Any British action is likely to be coordinated with the US.

Speaking at the weekend, Trump said – without being specific – there were “very powerful” things the west could do to hurt the Saudis, but stopping arms sales would in the end be America punishing itself.

“There’s something really terrible and disgusting about that [Khashoggi’s suspected murder], if that was the case, so we’re going to have to see. We’re going to get to the bottom of it and there will be severe punishment,” he said.

Democratic senators on the US foreign relations committee said classified intelligence briefings suggested Khashoggi had been murdered by the Saudis or rendered back to Saudi Arabia.

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